Flames of War
|Flames of War|
|Miniatures-based Wargame published by
|Essential Books||Flames of War: Third Edition and Flames of War: Forces|
Flames of War is a tabletop wargame, first released in 2002, by the New Zealandish company Battlefront Miniatures. It recreates the fighting in the Europe and North Africa theaters of World War II (and they're branching out into Vietnam) using 15mm scale models. Play simulates combat between company strength forces, with each stand of infantry typically representing half a squad. In the last year or two its popularity outside its homeland has skyrocketed, and it is moving rapidly on its way to joining Warhammer Fantasy Battle/Warhammer 40,000 and Warmachine/Hordes as one of THE big name tabletop wargames. Also like those games, it is quickly developing a strong community of whiny, sophist 'YouTube War Expert' players. Still, most players are quite friendly and welcoming to newbs, newbies, noobs, and nubs.
Battlefront Miniatures itself has become fairly popular in comparison to Games Workshop and some other major manufacturers, as they have given their blessing for players to use other company's products in games, even allowing them in tournaments; and for making many of the army lists available on their website.
 Rules Basics
If you've played any other tabletop wargame, you should be halfway to knowing the rules for FoW, its just a matter of the squirrelly parts. Some of the major points are:
- Unit ratings- Units are rated on two stats, their motivation and their training. Ratings are typically applied across and entire army list i.e. "All units in a Blahdiblah Company are Herpin Derpin unless otherwise noted."
- Motivation- How happy and ready for fightan your units are. Keeps troops in the battle and helps them keep moving and fighting.
- Training- How skilled at combat your troops are. Keeps them alive and helps with things like moving through rough terrain.
- Motivation tests- when a platoon is below half strength, it has to take a motivation test or be removed from the game. When your army is below half strength, your Company Commander has to take a motivation test or you lose automatically.
- Shooting- one rule that confuses a lot of new players is that when one unit shoots at another, the chance to hit is based on the target's skill rating, not the firer's. The reasoning being that any moron with one arm and two brain cells to rub together can spray machine-gun fire at people, and what really counts is how good the people being shot at are at taking cover and not bunching up like a flock of sheep.
- List building- rather than have a big list of all units for a nation that you can mix and match from, you have to build your army from set lists. This will typically consist of a mandatory Company Command Section (with several support options,) mandatory two platoons of basic units (generic infantry in an infantry list, main battle tank in an armored list) with an optional third; plus a number of support unit blocks, most of which will have several sub options. For example, most infantry company lists will be able to take an armored support option- could be a squadron of main battle tanks, could be assault guns, could be heavy tanks like Churchills or Tigers- but you can't take more than one from among all of those. Its actually very easy to understand when you see the Company Org Chart lists.
Rather than try to balance, say, the German army that invaded Poland in 1939 against the Russian army that rolled into Berlin 6 years later, the game is divided into three periods:
 Early War
Covers the beginning of the war until 1941. Available forces are Germany, Great Britain, Italy, France and Poland. This period is actually a recent addition, and is still trying to gain a fanbase of any significance.
 Mid War
Covers 1942-1943. France and Poland are out; America, the Soviet Union, and the lesser Axis Powers of Finland, Romania and Hungary are in.
 Late War
Covers 1944 to the end of the war (though supplement books are only up to Winter 1944.) Includes most of the 'Iconic' battles of the war, like the invasion of Normandy, capture of Paris, and the Battle of the Bulge.
FoW supports most of the major military powers that fought in WWII. The major/most popular ones are:
- America- built around large numbers of moderately skilled, highly mobile units, with plenty of artillery and air support. In late war the US have advanced technology and elite formations. They are considered as a rather powerful force in latewar due to bazookas everywhere, powerful artillery, access to veteran forces, and teleporting tank destroyers (that, just like their name suggests, happen to rape tanks). Americans excel as attackers.
- Most Americans agree this is the best army.
- Great Britain- focuses more on elite troops, with good close range armor and artillery support, and especially good in close assault. One of their biggest draws is that Great Britain isn't just England- you can also field Scots, Irish, Indians, Canadians, Nepalese, Australians, New Zealanders, and Maoris. The british are tough in defence and favour a battle of attrition.
- Most Englishmen agree this is the best army.
- Russia- massive numbers of weak troops, backed by plentiful artillery, and driven forward by Kommissar teams. To give you an idea of how much you're going to be outnumbering your opponent; most armies are a 'Company' made up of 'Platoons.' Soviets field 'Battalions' made up of 'Companies.' Later on Soviet formations get smaller and more skilled, able to both dish out and take a beating. Soviets prefer direct and simple tactics where their overwhelming firepower can be brought to bear.
- Most communists agree this is the best army.
- Germany- Fields the most elite focused army. Most German units will win one-on-one with their Allied counterparts, but will usually be outnumbered by a noticeable margin. Also, somewhere there's a list that lets you field an army of nothing but Tiger tanks, so that's cool too. Germans have great tactical flexibility and firepower but don't stand to attrition very well.
- Most powergamers agree this is the best army.
- France- usually a static army of soldiers with low moral, able to blow the shit out of ennemy infantry (heavy machineguns) and ennemy tanks (best anti-tank artillery). you can also field some slow, big but nearly indestructible tanks. And the foreign legion, don't forget the foreign legion.
- Most Frenchmen agree this is the best army.