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Flames of War

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Flames of War (abbreviated as FoW) is a World War II tabletop miniatures wargame produced by the New Zealand company Battlefront Ltd.

Flames of war allows players to wargame company level battles from the European theater using 15mm (which the game claims is approximately 1/100 scale but is closer to 1/120) miniatures. There have been basic lists provided to cover the early and late war periods as well but the focus so far has been on Mid-War, though in the second half of 2006 they will begin releasing Late War sourcebooks, and corresponding tanks and weapons. An Early War book is due for publication shortly. The 2nd Edition was released in 2006.

In New Zealand, in 2006 Mid war is the most common era played with specialist annual Early and Late war conventions being offered by the Hamilton Immortals (EW November) and Taranaki Old Guard Clubs (LW March).

Gameplay Edit

Gameplay takes place over a series of turns, with players alternating movement, shooting and close assault, using the "I go-You go" system of play style, which helps people who are familiar with other games such as Warhammer Fantasy Battles or Warhammer 40,000 to quickly pick up the idea of gameplay. The game is optimised for 2 players, although it is generally feasible for up to 14 players to be playing at the same time. Play revolves around company level tactics, with stands representing half-squads(sections) of infantry and support troops, and single models representing tanks, jeeps, motorcycles and armoured cars. Air support in the form of fighters (like the Hawker Hurricane)and light bombers (no heavy bombers - like the Avro Lancaster or the B-17 Flying Fortress) is also available to players wishing to use it, with aircraft generally being represented by 15mm scale models. The main rulebook has numerous scenarios players can try, from a simple all out battle scenarios to objective taking missions. The army sourcebooks contain further scenarios, usually centered around events relevant to that particular book. Gameplay uses six sided dice and measurements are provided in both inches and centimeters which has increased the game's global appeal.

Currently the armies playable are; German Wehrmacht, Fallschirmjager(airborne), Deutsche Afrika Corps., and SS units, U.S. Army (including Rangers and Airborne units), British and the Commonwealth troops (India, Australia, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand), the U.S.S.R., Italian Bersaglieri (elites) and Fucilieri(conscripted troops), and most recently Hungarians, Finns, and Romanians (German Allies). The rules are being updated in the autumn of 2006 to the second version. Sometime later the pacific theater will be released but that is after early war Europe is released. It is (currently) a WWII-only game with rules relatively lower in complexity as Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000, though it is supposedly more realistic

Flames of War has been very successful, especially with fantasy or sci-fi gamers who are interested in World War II wargaming but lack the in depth knowledge of the troops that most historical wargames assume the players have. Flames of War has a "one stop shop" appeal because the rulebook and sourcebooks assume that the player has little knowledge of the various troops and provide not only background material on some actual forces and battles but also provide simple graphical representations of the contents of each platoon and brief descriptions of the forces.

Rules and Sourcebooks Edit

Currently Battlefront has released books regarding the mid-war period (circa 1942-1943). The first edition of the main rulebook included basic force lists for the Germans, US, Soviets, British and Italians. Since then they have released additional sourcebooks that have replaced those lists and added additional force lists. These sourcebooks are:

  • Ostfront, this includes all the armies that fought on the Eastern or Russian Front, both Axis, Allied including their various allies.
  • Afrika, this covers the war in the North Africa and Italy. Again it includes both Axis, Allied including their various allies

Flames of War divides WWII into 3 periods. Early war (1939-41), mid war (1942-43) and late war (1944-45). It is believed that when Battlefront releases rules and models for the Pacific theater, it will separate it from the European theater for game play reasons. Battlefront has begun to release 'late war' rules and models and their first late war release sourcebook is called "D Minus 1" that provides army lists for the allied paratroop regiments active in the late war European theater during January 1944-August 1944. Later sourcebooks will then be released detailing the various forces from May 1944 and forward.

In November of 2006 Battlefront is planning to release the a sourcebook which will cover the Normandy Campaign and in January of 2007 the first divisional sourcebook will be released.

Older / Non-current books Edit

These books have been replaced with Afrika and Ostfront which reflect the current (Version 2) rules

  • Diving Eagles- Covers German Fallschirmjäger (paratrooper) lists. Battlefront released a second edition of this book in March 2006.
  • Old Ironsides- Covered US Armor and Armored Infantry lists. Is currently out of print and the lists have been replaced with the supplement "Stars and Stripes".
  • Hitler's Fire Brigade- Covers German Armor and Armored Infantry lists for the Eastern Front. Currently in its second edition.
  • Desert Rats- Covers British Armoured Squadrons and Motor Companies in the Mediterranean and North African battles.
  • Desert Fox- Covers German Afrika Korps Panzer, Motorized/Armored Infantry and Reconnaissance companies.
  • Stalingrad- Covers Soviet and German infantry lists on the Eastern Front. Includes rules for streetfighting in an urban environment as well as snipers.
  • Stars & Stripes- Adds US Rifle Infantry, Rangers, Parachute Infantry, Tank, Armored Rifle and Armored Reconnaissance lists. (Everything in Old Ironsides is included in this)
  • For King and Country- Includes army lists for British commonwealth forces such as Australian, New Zealand, Indian and Canadian forces.
  • Avanti Savoia- Adds the Italian Infantry, Tank and Motorized Infantry forces to the game.
  • Za Stalina- The rules for Soviet Armor and Cavalry forces are presented in this sourcebook.

Unofficial Lists Edit

Some players have come up with "homebrew" army lists to cover other factions or wars including Japanese and US WWII Pacific Theater. As of yet Battlefront hasn't released official lists for the Pacific Theater and has only recently begun to move into 'late war' (1944-45). They have made an announcement that they will be working on another historical period, but haven't yet announced what it is.

Successor Games Edit

Recently, there has been a lot of fan speculation surrounding Battlefronts intentions to do a new game based on the Napoleonic wars era of the early 19th Century using the WWII FoW as a base, however as yet Battlefront have made no official announcement as to what their successor game will be. Many players and fans have also come up with "homebrew" rulesets for Napoleonic and modern era wargaming, using FoW as a base.

Models And Availability Edit

Models for use in game are manufactured by Battlefront themselves and consist of highly detailed multipart metal and resin models. Models can be bought in blister packs, small box sets, large box sets and army deal box sets. Other manufacturers 15mm figures can be used to play FoW if a player with an existing 15mm army wants to get into the game. Battlefront have also publicly stated on several occasions that other manufacturers models are fine to be used in tournaments where FoW is being played. All Battlefront asks is that other manufacturers models are not displayed or talked about on the official Flames of War discussion forums (http://fow.flamesofwar.com). It is general consensus among most FoW players that Battlefronts figures are the best quality sculptures available in 15mm with the greatest levels of detail.

Battlefront produces models for ground forces, such as infantry, vehicles and field guns, and in mid 2006 released sets of 1/144 aircraft. (Hurricane II, JU-87 'Stuka', Il-2 'Shturmovik' and P-40 'Warhawk')

Flames of War miniatures are available direct from Battlefront, but can also be picked up in many good hobby and wargames shops, as well as some toy retailers, though most 15mm World War II miniatures can work so long as they are based the same as the official minis.

Unlike many historical wargames the miniatures for Flames of war are packaged in such a way as to simplify building a force. Each pack will include the bases for the figures inside the package as well as most of the options you can field the force with. Many of the blisters or boxed sets actually include everything you need to field a full platoon of that type, though some will require the purchase of additional blisters in order to field a full platoon. This has added to the game's appeal of being easy to get into.

Gale Force 9 has also been releasing licensed products for the game including an artillery template, army specific counters/markers and most recently announced magnetic base kits.

t depicted on the board but rather is assumed to be firing bombardments from a considerable distance from the battlefield. Also the fact that game initiative is a IGOUGO turn-based system and lacks opportunity fire are common complaints from those who play more traditional miniatures wargames which try to more accurately simulate warfare instead of focusing on the gaming aspect. Also the forces are "points based" to allow for easy pickup play and tournament play, whereas most historical miniatures wargames tend to be accurate depictions of actual battles with forces representative of those that were actually at the battle and were not always "balanced".

Other historical wargamers have embraced Flames of War for its appeal to gamers who previously hadn't played historical games and its ability to be a "one stop shop" to introduce people not only to World War II historical gaming but also to miniatures wargaming in general. Though the mechanics differ greatly from most historical wargames many feel that the end results are quite similar and realistic. They view Flames of War as a great "entry" game to historical wargaming and hope that it will increase interest in other more traditional systems and periods of historical wargaming.

Some gamers accuse Battlefront of using Games Workshop type marketing tactics with their sleek full color presentation and release of various sourcebooks as opposed to many traditional historical wargames which usually have a "no frills" presentation value (often being xeroxed pages stapled together) but are much more affordably priced and do not add sourcebooks to gameplay.

Some have accused Battlefront of requiring players to buy sourcebooks for armies they do not own to get rules which are included in those sourcebooks, but to date Battlefront has made all those rules available for free download from their webpage so a player is not required to own any other sourcebook than the one that contains the army list he/she wishes to play.

Pros & Cons Edit

Pros:

The game is easily understood and simple to teach.

The game has very nice books that explain units, armies, modelling, painting and about everything you need to know to play and model / paint your army.

Quick Gameplay - average games are about 1.5 to 2.5 hours long.

The Cost of building an army is very reasonable compared to most wargames on the market. (A typical 1500 pts army comes in at around $200, - which is quite cheap compared to other Wargames, like Warhammer 40K which generally costs $350-$400)

Good company support, with the game designers answering questions in person through battlefronts forums or by email.

Rules updates and beta version army lists available as free downloads.

Points based forces make it easy to balance each player's army, plus players forces are interchangeable and flexible, as opposed to traditional historical wargames which require players to conduct extensive research and purchase a new army each time they intend to start a campaign.

Cons:

The game rules are simplified, so the amount of complexity present in traditional historicals is lost, which puts many historical players off. A substantial argument in this area has been the 'telescoping' ground scale.

Being that Battlefront are a fairly new company, they have very little exposure in the marketplace.

No opportunity or "snap" fire, a feature pioneered in Squad Leader and duplicated in a lot of games but deliberately left out by FoW's designers.

Games are not always "historically accurate" and in a tournament you will often find forces which were historically allies fighting each other. However, as with many games this is a problem created by what armies people choose to collect and not so much the game itself.

Some Gamers are annoyed with the fact that it is as easy to "kill" a 2-man stand as it is to "kill" a 5-man stand. The designers answer to this has been that killing 2 men will destroy a 2 man team, while killing 2 men in a 5 man team the other 3 men will care for the wounded, removing them from combat as well.

External linksEdit

Go to the official Flames of war website to see more:

Fan sites

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