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 European and North African theaters of World War II using 15mm scale models. There are also expansion that cover Vietnam, World War 1, and the Arab-Israeli Wars. Play simulates combat between company-level 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. Even if they often make typos. Also developed by a team of mainly very nice gentlemen.
Battlefront Miniatures itself has become fairly popular in comparison to other well-known companies, 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. Also the prices from the company aren't that high ($52.00 USD is pretty good for 2 Rifle platoons, a weapons platoon, a Company command squad and a few bazooka teams), and in addition to that, most of the stuff you own can be mix-and-match as those infantry platoons you own can be used with your armoured companies and vice versa. Also, as infantry don't really change much, and since at 15mm it's hard to tell what they are equipped with anyway, you can use your infantry platoon/company throughout all war periods, and can proxy them as mechanized (provided you have the transports), paratroopers, ect. with ease.
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.
- Motivation- How happy and ready for fight your units are. Keeps troops in the battle and helps them keep moving and fighting. There are three ratings (baring special snowflake rules): Reluctant, Confident and Fearless. Note that Fearless is not as good as it is in 40k, although it's still pretty damn great as it stops your platoons and companies pissing out at a moment's notice.
- Training- How skilled at combat your troops are. Keeps them alive and helps with things like moving through rough terrain, digging in, hitting the enemy in Close Combat, and a whole range of other things. Gives protection against being shot at (because unlike other contemporary games, the likelihood of a unit being hit is due to their skill, not the unit shooting at them). There are three flavours of training: Conscript, Trained and Veteran.
- Motivation tests- There are numerous situations when Motivation checks are required. Think of them like Leadership tests in 40k. The most common check is when a platoon is below half strength, it has to take a motivation test or be removed from the game. Following from this, when your entire army is below half strength, your Company Commander has to take a motivation test or you lose automatically as your troops run away like little girls.
- 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.
Note that all lists are based off a historic point in time. For example, in Rommel's AfrikaKorps, the only choices available to take for an infantry company would be what they had historically. If Rommel did not historically attach Panzer platoons to infantry companies, they would not be able to (he did, but this is just for example). Army lists come in three different flavours: Infantry, Mechanized, and Armoured. Each "codex" will normally feature multiple nations, and each nation will usually have different organization charts that let them take any of the three flavours of list. The differences between organization charts is that they dictate the base requirements of a list, the motivation and skill level of your list, and the "weapon" and "support" options your list can take.
- The HQ: Your force will always have an HQ. For infantry lists, this will be a stand of a Company Commander (who allows units he joins to reroll motivation), a 2nd in Command (honestly not that good, although depending on your nation he gives bonuses to your troops. The main use for him is that he can "appoint" a platoon commander if their commander died previously.) Some HQs let you bring along extra goodies, like Bazookas and Mortars that can be attached to platoons. Mech HQs are the same as Infantry HQs but will come with transports (and unlike 40k, transports can be a real disadvantage, although more recent rules have removed a lot of their downsides.) Tank Commanders will be exactly that: Tanks. Usually one or two tanks make up the HQ, and the tanks can vary a lot. For some Russian lists, you don't actually take one, you just nominate a tank from one of your platoons (actually called companies but they function as platoons) to be your Company Commander. HQS usually DO NOT count as platoons for Company strength. They function like 40k independent characters do. If I have 3 infantry platoons and a company commander, I count as only having 3 infantry platoons for my force strength.
- The Combat Platoons, AKA Troops choice: Same with 40k, each organization chart will have a minimum requirement of a platoon or two with the option to have more. Infantry lists will have infantry platoons as their combat platoon requirement, mech will have mechanized platoons, etc. Here you choose the size of the platoon (for example, an American Rifle platoon from a Mid War Africa army will be able to have either 7 stands or 10 stands in their platoons) as well as any additional stuff like bazookas, machines guns, mortars, ect.
- The Weapons Support: Usually encompasses stuff like mortar platoons, engineer platoons, and other platoons that come from a battalion level. This would be historically the assets that the division gave to the battalion, such as a machine gun company, that the battalion spreads out through the other battle companies. For example, A Panzer Battalion would have a Company of Engineers attached to it. Therefore, a weapons support option for a Panzer Company would be one or two platoons of Engineers. In a 40k codex, this stuff would come right after the Troops entries in each organization chart, or comes from another organization chart's army list.
- The Divisional/Corp support: This is elements that exist at a Divisional level. Historically, it would be things like air support that is allocated to a division/corps. In game, these options usually give your army some much needed diversity/support. Unlike the troops, HQ and weapon options, these guys aren't restricted to a singular organization chart. This means that multiple lists have access to them. This stuff includes the aforementioned air support, artillery, self propelled guns, and specialist troops. Also the Motivation and Skill ratings of Divisional support can differ from your Troops and Weapon support options. Note that air support is generally "invisible" except that it can either launch a "bombardment" in a similar way to artillery or it can be used to drive off enemy air support. It does not count as a platoon.
Let's say you want to build a force from the Army book "North Afrika." This book comes from the Mid War period, which means you can only use it against other Mid War lists. You would then pick a nation, in this case we will pick Americans. You then go to the American section of the book to see which organization charts you can pick from. Here you can choose from an Armoured company which uses Sherman Tanks, a Mechanized Company in armored half-tracks, an Infantry company, or a paratrooper company. Here we choose the Infantry company. This means that you must now adhere to the organization chart that comes with tis company. Choosing the Infantry company means that your force is Confident trained (it will say this in the book)
Next, you pick the platoons for your force, starting with the required ones. You must take a Company Commander with a 2iC, and two infantry platoons. An average game of Flames of War is about 1500 points, so this is what you will plan for. You look at the first entry, and the Company HQ has the option to take two bazooka teams with him for a few extra points. The extra firepower seems useful, so you take him and the two bazooka teams. You now look at the combat platoon requirements. You MUST take Two Infantry platoons, with the option to take a 3rd. Now you look at the Infantry platoon entry. There is option of taking the infantry platoon with either 6 rifle teams plus a platoon command rifle team, or 9 rifle teams plus the command rifle team. You also have the option for a bazooka. Since you will want a solid foundation for your army list (and so you can get your platoon count up), you take the two minimum infantry platoons PLUS the extra platoon, all at full strength. You also take the optional bazooka teams for added anti-tank capability.
Next you look at the optional weapon platoon options. The organization chart says that you can take one mortar squad, one mechanized platoon, one truck platoon, one machine gun platoon, one weapons platoon (this platoon comprises of light machine guns and light mortars), 2 anti tank platoons (armed with light anti tank guns, although one can be medium according to the entry) and 1 engineer platoon. Since you will want your list to have a barrage template for pinning down the enemy or launching smoke, you choose the mortar platoon. After looking at its entry you see that you can either take 4 mortar teams plus a command rifle team and an observer rifle team, or 6 mortar teams plus a command rifle team and an observer rifle team. It has the option to take two bazooka teams and a car for the observer. However, since the mortar platoon would sit further back, you pass on the bazooka teams, which are only effective at close range. You also pass on the car as the observer needs to be stealthy and hidden, which is harder to do with a jeep or car.
Lastly, you look at the Divisional Support options. You can choose Air support, Artillery support, another medium anti-tank gun platoon, a tank hunter platoon, a Sherman platoon, a paratrooper platoon, an anti-aircraft platoon, a mobile anti-aircraft platoon, an engineer platoon, and a scout platoon. You choose the artillery platoon since the Americans get nifty special rules that boost the effectiveness of their artillery. You then pick limited (which is actually the medium option) air support to drive off enemy air support. Noticing that your army is lacking anti-tank, you take a Sherman Tank platoon to add a punch to your force, and a unit of medium anti-tank guns, which you could have also taken in the Weapon platoons section.
Doing this, your force consists of:
- HQ with 2 bazooka teams
- 3 x infantry platoon with 9 rifle teams, a platoon command rifle team, and a bazooka team
- A mortar squad with 6 mortar teams, a platoon command team and an observer
- A tank platoon of 5 Sherman tanks
- An anti tank platoon of 3 57mm anti tank guns with a platoon commander
- An artillery platoon with 4 105mm gun teams with a staff team, platoon command team and observer team
- Limited air support
You have 7 platoons, 3 of which are combat, 1 of which is a weapons platoon, and 3 of which are divisional support platoons.
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:
World War Two
Covers everything from the beginning of the war until the end of 1941. Available forces are Germany, Great Britain, the USSR, Imperial Japan, Finland, Italy, France and Poland. This period is actually a recent addition, and is still trying to gain a fanbase of any significance. Typically most forces are less experienced and so there are very few forces (outside of the Germans) who have "veteran" units...
It's actually one of the most "balanced" periods of the game, and so is actually fairly popular. While most of the overall game is balanced, and each period is balanced, in this period every tank has a reasonable chance against other tanks (unless you're those British or French faggots who take Matildas or B1s- but then you'll have 4 models on the table, TOPS, and they can be easily beaten in assault by engineers). When the Germans get the later Panzer IIIs they can easily take out the allied heavy/infantry tanks, if you're willing to pay a boatload of points for a glass cannon.
Covers 1942-1943. France and Poland are out; America, the Soviet Union, and the lesser Axis Powers of Finland, Romania and Hungary are in. Probably the most balanced period, with the only real cheese being the T-34 spam that the Russians can use, as amusingly enough they can almost take more tanks than you can get bases of each nation's commando/paratrooper equivalent. Lack a lot of flexibility due to the rules for Russian tanks.
Covers 1944 to the end of the war, up to April 1945. Includes most of the 'Iconic' battles of the war, like the invasion of Normandy, capture of Paris, Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. Lots of hilarious units like the Kingtiger and Panthers.
What started off as a few army lists published in wargames illustrated evolved into the newest period expansion, with the current source book being Tour of Duty. Vietcong list is pretty standard guerrilla stuff but there is an option in the newest book to run an ironclad battalion (tank battalion) with soviet make tanks and apcs. The American/ANZAC/South Vietnamese lists have access to helicopters as well as tank, mechanized cavalry, and infantry lists. Basic rules also change somewhat, and it seems like company-level combat doesn't really work that well for this conflict. Very few players.
The most popular of the non-WW2 settings. Currently focused on tank battles during the Six Day War in 1967, which pits upgraded WW2 American tanks versus upgraded WW2 Soviet tanks as well as more modern vehicles such as M48 pattons, centurions, and T-54/55s. No helicopters here, but it does have rules for jet aircraft and night-vision equipment. A lot of people like it because it just takes some tan paint to turn a Late War or Vietnam unit into one that fits this setting. The rule set was first released in 2013 as a wargames illustrated supplement called Fate of a Nation, with tank company lists for Israel, United Arab Republic (Egypt), and Jordan. In late 2014/early 2015 it was re-released as a theater book with revised points and additional lists for Israeli patrol groups and paratroopers, and UAR and Jordanian infantry fortified infantry companies.
World War 1
Currently only one book, focused on the first tank battles in 1918. Army lists only exist for Britain and Germany, with both sides having access to the first tanks, known better as "landships" back then. The general consensus is that this setting was rushed out for the 100th anniversary of the war, and it is unlikely that Battlefront will make a new book anytime soon.
FoW supports most of the major military powers that fought in WWII. The following is an absolutely completely unbiased list of those that are currently available.
- United States of America- built around vehicle spam, heavy artillery, and a seemingly endless supply of bazookas. In Late War the US has advanced technology and elite formations. They are considered a rather powerful force in this period due to their powerful artillery, access to veteran forces, and teleporting tank destroyers (not even kidding about that last one). Americans excel as attackers, BUT are reasonable in defense as you can take a fair amount of footslogging infantry backed up by armour and artillery. Americans get special rules that mainly boost their shooting, but also have minor boosts that let them be more mobile. They also export a lot of their cool toys through Lend-Lease, so it is possible to field a completely different Allied force using American equipment.
- Great Britain- Jolly old Angloterra and her Commonwealth mainly field bland-looking masses of brown and drab paint. They are good all-rounders, and are especially good in assaults. 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 defense and
favour drowning their enemies in dead colonialstend to have a small, elite core supplemented by special forces. They are best in defense however, due to their special characters and special rules that favour a mainly static war (unless you play an armour company, in which case the British rules are made to let you charge in guns blazing).
- Soviet Union- The only army a fa/tg/uy should ever play. Massive numbers of weak troops, backed by plentiful tanks and artillery, and driven forward by Commissar 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'. Chances are you will fill up your side of the table with your forces, so I hope you enjoy assembling and painting those little basta- *BLAM!* fearless defenders of the motherland. Later 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 numbers and firepower can be brought to bear. Their special rules are mainly negative, but that allows you to take FUCKHUEG amounts of them. It is also notable that they lack smoke, resulting in a tactic where Soviet players take so many throwaway tanks that the amount of burning wreckage they make is an acceptable replacement.
- Germany- Fields the most elite and diverse army, with literally over a hundred different vehicles to choose from. Most German units will win one-on-one with their Allied counterparts, but will usually be outnumbered by a noticeable margin. Also, 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 up to attrition very well. Their special rules are very newbie-friendly as they pretty much ignore the rules about platoon command teams, since if one dies, they can "appoint" a new platoon commander without having to have the Company commander or second in command there.
- France- If you enjoy sitting back and dragging out battles, France is the country for you. Usually they field a static army of soldiers with low morale, able to blow the shit out of the enemy with their special snowflake artillery. Enjoy laughing in the face of your opponent as you pore over complicated tables every time you shoot something. In addition, you can also take giant indestructible tanks, or get your Fearless Trained African soldiers to do your dirty work for you. Their special rules REALLY favour the defense, as both infantry and armour alike are unsuited to attacking. One special rule allows your servant to move your objectives closer to you, and another gives all colonial troops an advantage in assaults so you can sit back in your trench and enjoy your wine and cheese.
- Italy- Only available in Early and Mid war, as they threw in the towel in 1943. Shares the massive numbers of weak troops with the Soviets, but lacks the supporting equipment. Don't expect any decent tanks unless you take German allies. Their special rules give random motivation/skill ratings to their platoons, which can lead to hilarious lists where you either have elite hordes of Fearless Veterans or untrained masses of Reluctant Conscripts. Depending on the table you roll on, it's usually geared towards Confident Trained or Reluctant Trained. Still, absolutely hilarious for both sides when rolling.
- Japan- Dishonorably only available in Early War for now. They have the best morale in the game, even refusing to listen to the player when they fail their company morale check. Their vehicles are somewhat lacking, but they make up for this by taking the steel that would have been made into tanks and turning it into the enormous balls that are standard issue for their soldiers. Their average infantryman has a rifle and a banner that gives him a hard-on for death, and their anti-tank weapon of choice is a bomb-thrower who would put the Taliban to shame. If you were looking for a sane game of Flames of War, look elsewhere. You don't play Japan for their competitiveness or survivability, you do it because every single unit is foaming at the mouth to charge the enemy and start murdering. For the Emperor!
- Finland- Despite lacking the equipment and vehicles of the other powers, the Finns are still a force to be reckoned with. They get a huge advantage in Winter and Forest terrain, and are usually rated Veteran, even in the early war. They field a mix of Soviet, German, and WW1-era equipment. You need balls to play these guys, as you can't rely on numbers or special rules to win the day. Their armored company is considered one of the most challenging lists to play.
The poor man's GermansVery similar to Germany, but with unique organization and equipment. Have useful special rules that provide advantages in both attack and defense, and can take a lot of German equipment in the Late War. Their most famous vehicle is the kawaii-as-fuck Zryini tank destroyer.
- Romania- Mainly focused on infantry and cavalry, with hilariously underpowered vehicle options. They get random motivation like Italy, and can also take a lot of allied equipment. They are unique because they switch sides after being conquered by the Soviets in Late War, so Romanian players can choose between German or Soviet allies, while quietly wondering why they're using Early War equipment in 1944.
- Poland- the poor Poles have it even worse than the Finns. They have okay equipment, especially for Early War, but you will find yourself stretching to get your units to fit all the roles you need. You can try to impersonate the Soviets with masses of weak infantry, but their real advantage is in the great balance of their units. They can hold their own in assaults, and tend to excel in defense. In Late War, they have the legendary Armija Krakowja, which beats the Finnish armour company for the position of hardest list in the game. It's literally a bunch of armed civilians with whatever German stuff they could get their hands on, and it would come as no surprise if Sun Tzu himself couldn't win a game with them.
NOTE: The game balance in this game is actually really good. There is no "best army," just strong lists. Lists are usually strong against one type of list and are countered by others. Eg: Commandos are an elite British list that are awesome against raping shit in melee, and are fearless veterans, but they are expensive and you can't take many of them, meaning you get absolutely raped by horde tank lists like the Russian lists.
Supposedly there is also a Falklands War homebrew in the works.