Hey guys, Chris “The Blue Baron” here with a new series of articles, And Now For Something Completely Different. My goal here is to expose the community to different types of wargames. For my first post, I’m going to start with Flames of War as it is fairly popular and I know the rules well. Flames of War as a 15mm WW2 war game that has recently switched over to 3rd edition, so now is a good time to try it out, The game is split into distinct periods, Early war, Mid War, and Late war. Every army book will list which time period it is for.
Armies are made up from briefings which are found in source books detailing specific campaigns. New to 3rd edition is a generic forces book bundled in with the rules book and a hobby books. Some of the books have carried over from the edition change but are still usable. Battlefront will put out soft cover books detailing specific battles theaters from a campaign. Eventually, they may or may not consolidate them into a handy hard cover book complete with a few more lists.
At its heart all armies are made up of a HQ and two “troop” options. For example, a tank company will have a command tank and at least 2 platoons of tanks. From that point you can fill out other options based on your briefing. Using the tank company example, you could take some mechanized infantry to support the tanks, maybe some more tanks, tank hunters, and artillery.
Flames of War is more or less a 1:1 scale. As in if you have 5 tanks, they represent 5 tanks. A platoon if infantry is the size of an actual platoon. Infantry platoons are made up of a number of medium bases with a small base as a command team. An infantry base will contain four or five figures. The command base will have 3 figures. Things like anti tank guns are also on medium bases and include the gun and its crew. Larger artillery pieces are on the large sized base. Tanks and most vehicles do not use bases.
The game itself uses multiple D6 and tape measures. The only “from Battlefront” thing you really need to play the game is the artillery template. Every unit has 2 types of ratings, skill and motivation. Skill is either conscript, trained, or veteran. This determines how difficult you are to hit from shooting, how well you navigate dangerous terrain, and how well you clear mine fields. Motivation is reluctant, confident, or fearless. These are used for morale checks, like recovering from being pinned or sticking around after you take casualties.
Movement is based on a chart, regular infantry move 6”, large artillery move 4”, most tanks move 12”, and slow tanks like a tiger move 8”. Terrain modifies how far you can move for gun teams and vehicles.
Shooting works a little bit different from most games. When a unit shoots, you use your targets skill for determining what number you need to hit. The reasoning behind that is if you’re shooting at farmer Jim, he’s not going to know he should be hiding behind a wall and zigzagging compared to Commando Joe. The score to hit is modified by terrain and distance.
Saving throws are pretty simple. If you get hit by shooting you have a chance to save the wound. Infantry saves on a 3+, gun teams generally save on a 5+. Tanks have a more complex save. Each weapon has an AP value. When you hit a tank you compare it with their armor. Lets say a Sherman has a front armor of 6 and your AT gun has an AT of 10. You hit the Sherman and then the tank rolls a D6 and adds his armor to it in this case 6. If your roll plus armor is more than 10 you’re fine. If your total is below over 10 the shot penetrates the armor and could destroy the tanks. If the number equals ten, there is a chance it could bail out the tank. Any time there is the possibility of damage, the attacker makes a firepower roll to see if there’s any damage.
Assaulting happens after the shooting phase. An assaulting unit has 4” of movement to make contact with their target. The defending unit then gets defensive fire using the same steps as above. If the assaulting unit takes too many hits it will fall back pinned. If not it gets to work. Teams within 2” of the enemy will roll a skill check. Infantry teams hit in an assault die without a saving throw making it more deadly than shooting. Tanks take an armor save using their top armor. No firepower is needed in an assault.
That concludes my super long brief introduction to Flames of War. My next article will be a battle report showing these concepts in action. Further down the line, I will be doing battle reports / introductions to other sorts of war games and rule sets. If you have a system you’d like me to discuss let me know and I’ll see what I can do.