Monday, August 16, 2010

Flames of War?

So I've been looking into Flames of War lately simply because I LOVE World War II.  I'm such a WWII buff that when I went to Europe and visited Normandy, I knew more about the history and events than our tour guide.  If I ever move to Europe, I would probably consider being a guide.. I just have to learn a couple of languages first.

Right, so how does this tie into minis?  Well.. for one.. I got confused to all hell when I first started doing research on the game.  I come from the GW's line of wargaming so I'm spoiled by army books and codexes.  Yeah.. there's no such thing in Flames of War.  In order for you to build an army list, you must first choose the era that you want to play in (early, mid, late war) and then choose a campaign book to build your army from.  This pretty much means you have to have a good idea of what you wanted to play.  There's 4 main factions in this game:  Germans, Russians, Americans and the British.  There's also sub-factions within these main factions like the Finnish and the Canadians; but aside from a few special rules and minis, they don't really add too much.

Personally, if I was planning to play this game, I would go late war and go Germans.  That's when their soldiers are the most veteran and when the technology of the game is the most advanced.  If you like big tanks, die-hard troops and earth-shaking artillery that can rock the field, late war is the place to be.  From a historical standpoint, it makes perfect sense too!  The Germans are mostly on the retreat with Allies gaining air superiority and better priced units (to show the economy advantage).  The Russians are pressing hard on the Eastern Front and things are pretty intense on both fronts.  I don't know enough about the game to say anything about the balance just yet.

For anyone who wants to get involved, I would imagine that you need to know what you wanted to play.  An example of this would be:  I want to play.. Armored Rifle Company, Russian Tank Company, Germans with a mixed arms approach with both Infantry and Tanks, Paratroopers, Mass artillery, Tanks + artillery..etc.  Once you got that, you need to hunt down the campaign that has that army.  For a non-WWII buff, you probably need to do some asking around on the official forums so those guys there can point you to the right direction.

With that being said, how exactly do you make a army list in FoW?

1. Pick out the Era you want to play in.
2. Pick out a campaign book that has the army you want to play.
3. Construct a army list with the list requirements.

For me: Late War, Germans with Tiger Tanks and a strong army list that can take on all-comers.  I used a few pdfs found on the FoW main website, the Cobra campaign book and the Villers-Bocage book to make my two army lists.  The first is just Wittmann + Tiger tanks and the second one is more balanced:

101.SS Schwere

Wittmann = 350
Tiger 2iC = 240
2x Tigers = 480
2x Tigers = 480
3x Squads of Motorized Scouts = 200



Company HQ + Shreck = 80
3x Panzergrenadier Squads (SMG + Faust) = 250
3x Panzergrenadier Squads (SMG + Faust) = 250
2x MG Sections = 155
2x Pak40s = 135
3x Nebels = 150
2x Tigers = 480

Now that my army list is done, I need to read up on the rules. For some reason, the rules look a lot more complicated than GW's games. They make sense from a historical game design standpoint.  A veteran unit will hit a non-trained conscript a lot easier..  a Confident soldier will make his motivation roll more frequently than a "reluctant" soldier.. or if you penetrate the hull of a Tiger tank, you have to roll to see if the shell detonates or goes right through by rolling for firepower values. You know, stuff like that.

It's a little daunting at first since so much info is thrown in your face. No wonder why the starter set has like 2 German tanks and 3 Allied tanks and that's all you get (plus mini-rulebook). They don't want to scare you away with all the crazy infantry rules (the assault phase is incredibly complicated imo). I think at the end of the day, I'm stilling standing between the fence. On one side, the game is cool because it's WWII and I love the German Army.. but on the other side, I have inflexible lists (something I'm not used to), a less popular game and complicated rules. Any help?


Big Jim said...

Trust me, for WWII wargaming FOW is very simple and uncomplicated.

So don't worry, the system is elegant and really only slightly more complicated than GW games, but in a good way. 40k would be a much better system if they stole a few things from FOW.

The assault phase in FOW is awesome;

1 Declare your target.

2 The target makes their defensive fire (if they score 5 hits you are pinned and unable to assault.)

3 Roll to hit in the assault, remove enemy casualties. Defender attacks back, remove you casualties.

4 The loser (side with the most dead) makes a motivation test. If they pass fight another assault round steps 3-4, if they fail they route.

It is awesome you fight until someone runs, or is destroyed. The are no combat scrums mid table clogging up the game.

Flames of War is plenty popular and has a thriving community. Hell they round out the top three of tabletop wargaming with GW and PP quite nicely.

Joshua said...

FOW actually makes sense. Unlike in the future where there is only war, these measly human troops actually know the ranges of there weapons. Who knew? You can measure anything whenever you want. Fantasy 8th finally went this way. Its just dumb not to. You will love it and once you play FOW for a bit you will wonder why you play 40K.

FOW rules as stated above are elegant and efficient. There are very few rules questions. They are written in a clear manner and easily understandable. Not much wiggle rule for interpretation. Unlike GW (Brits speak the kings English but cant write clear rules. WTF?!#)The New Zealanders that created this game took everything GW does wrong and made it right.

I still play 40K. Eldar FTW! However I prefer FOW Germans Midwar and Latewar. Its just a much more fun game. Did I mention FOW rules make sense?

HERO said...

The only thing that I thought was really weird is that one team with 5 guys modeled on it only shoots once and has 1 "wound". That was a bit of a stretch in terms of aesthetics.

Big Jim said...

That type of basing is typical in non-skirmish historical games. At least all infantry in FOW have a 3+ save so they are resilient. Shooting rates of fire are varied most re dependant on whether they move or not, almost all infantry have an ROF of 1 when moving.

For example SS panzergrenadiers have an ROF of 3 when stationary and ROF of 1 if they move.

HERO said...

How do tanks fair against infantry in cover? I would imagine the tank would just miss because of all the modifiers and gone to ground? That would make infantry lists overall better than Tank lists right?

Joshua said...

Tanks are pretty mean against infantry. After all Tanks were invented primarily to take on infantry. Example was the Sherman.

That aside, infantry are very resilient but they need anti tank weapons to really reliably take on tanks. So standard infantry have an AT value of 2. Tanks have a top armor of 1 standard. So in assault infantry will bail a tank on a 1 out of 6 chance. Not so great.

However, tanks usually will have to drive up close to infantry to unload on them but if you infantry is dug in, and in cover they are hard to dislodge. Just like real like infantry. Tough to dislodge once dug in.

The list depends on who is playing. It is a very different play style, infantry companies and tank companies. Also both play differently during the missions in the back of the book. Tank Komps usually attack and infantry komps usually defend.

In my opinion tanks are not better then infantry companies. Both have certain advantages.

HERO said...

How do you think my first list (the one with Wittmann) will work? I haven't actually played a game yet, but I'm thinking it'll work quite nice. The second list I know will perform well because it's a really balanced list with a lot of things I can do.

Big Jim said...

The first list is all about finesse, it will either win big or lose big. It is the nature of the Tiger company list.

The second list is ace, very similar to my LAH list; I have mortars instead of MG's.

HERO said...

Is there a reason why you chose to go with extra Mortars instead of MGs? And can I attach a unlimited amount of units to my PzGrens? I was planning to attach 1x HMG and Pak40 to each. What is the norm to play at? If it's 1750, what would you add to bump the 1.SS list up?

Taylor said...

Mortars to me are mandatory. You need artillery regardless of what type of company you are running. Any hit from artillery auto pins infantry. Smoke bombardment on tanks makes em move and lowers their rate of fire making it more difficult to soften up a defensive position.

I have learned a lot by signing up to the forums on the FOW site. There are some good discussions there about tactics for the various companies.

HERO said...

How do Mortars fare compared to HMG?

Joshua said...

Mortars are good against infantry and tanks. Smoke for tanks. HMG do nothing against tanks.

Anonymous said...

Mortars are the infantererymans best friends in that they give both smoke capacity and a way to pin enemy infantry, which is essential when you are about to assault. Smoke to limit defensive fires since you only see 15vm through it and to force tanks to move. Mortars also has a increased chance to range in which are very useful. Machineguns are invaluable against masses of enemy infantry buth are very vulnerable since they save as a gun team 5+. They are best used attached to combat platoons where they can hide among their fellows or dug in in good positions. Dug in troops are a pain to dig out and since tanks usually attacks they have to contend against it a lot. Some loose rules for building lists is to not use short infantery squads, expect subpar results for short platoons. Try to have one artillery element for smoke and one element for digging out dugin troops with 4+ or better firepower. Scouts are invaluable for tank lists since they can remove gone to ground and limit placement of ambushes. AA is also a very good idea in heavy tank lists since your biggest fear is airsupport and having to assault enginners or sappers. well thats some basic tips. Its a very deep game once you get into it. I recomend you take a look at some of the articles in as well.

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