Monday, 3 September 2012

334 Why I like Flames of War

Hi All,

Last month, Dai asked me, in essence, why I got into Flames of War. This lengthy post is by way of something of an explanation, in no particular order, for Dai (certainly), myself (probably), and anyone else (unlikely). I'll number my points just in case anyone feels an urge to respond to or query anything.
  1. I reached saturation point with GW. I've about 7000pts of Guard, most of it painted, and I fancied a new challenge. Being the only earner in the household and with a child (soon to be two!), I have no spare money, really. That meant a second 40K army was out. I already have a small, secret Tau army, of which I'm really very fond, but expanding a Tau army would be hideously expensive and almost fruitless with the current codex/before a new codex. At the moment I'm resisting the urge to sell the Tau (but I'm open to offers!).
  2. I've tried Warhammer Fantasy but it's never stuck. Again, WAY too expensive to expand. 
  3. That left casting around for a new game. I'd seen FoW a your earlier and been impressed by the gameplay enough to buy the 15 rulebook, simply because I love different wargame rules mechanics.
  4. I bought the A5 rulebook and FoW templates on ebay for just £7. This was 2nd edition.
  5. I fell in love with the rules. Hook, line, sinker and copy of The Angling Times. They're not to everyone's tastes I know, but by God they're refreshing after two decades of GW.
  6. The new (version 3) rules are even better and the rulebook is a pleasure to behold. It's beautiful, well written and thoughtfully designed in the way that the AD&D 3.5 rules were. Sublime. 
  7. Casting around on the FoW website, I discovered the following things:
  8. A forum which is pretty damned open and VERY welcoming to newbies AND frequented by the actual FoW Powers That Be, and
  9. Free Army Lists ('Briefings') to download as pdfs and use. For free. pdfs! Who'd'a thought?!
  10. There is (usually) no official requirement to play Flames with Battlefront miniatures (except in some official tournaments) AND if you decide against the FoW rules you can...use their miniatures to play one of many alternative rulesets. Genius.
  11. By this point I'd realised that I could create and amy for the simple cost of...creating an army. And I could start small. And I could shop around.
  12. I then discovered the Plastic Soldier Company sells 5 British Sherman/Firefly tanks for about £16. I could make a basic, legal, playable army of HQ + 2 tank platoons with just ten vehicles...or in other words a playable army for just £32. A good starter army too.
  13. For some idiotic reason, given my entrenched dislike of painting infantry, I chose instead to go for an infantry company, which I got for just £31 on ebay, brand new. This actually makes more than a basic playable army, with an HQ and 3 rifle platoons.  
  14. The infantry company came with a couple of free extra minis - just in case. What a brilliant idea: it's easy to lose 15mm infantrymen.
  15. Many of the units I have bought or can buy to expand my infantry company cost only around a tenner each: mortars; heavy mortars; machine guns...but not all. Artillery, for example, is rather pricey. but it's not completely essential, especially with good mortar support. Vehicles can be pricey too
  16. The minis are pretty good. Not as clear or crisp as GW, sure, but great for what they are. The new plastic stuff is great though (and the Plastic Soldier Company Shermans are an amazing example of what a plastic set should be!).
  17. Flames of War armies are finite. The company may release new models, and open new theatres of WW2, but they cannot suddenly invent a brand new unit *coughStormTaloncough* or make old stuff obsolete! The WW2 setting is deliciously self-limiting, therefore if all I want to play is 11th Armoured Div in north West Europe, I can slowly build up a fighting force safe in the knowledge that my army can never be obsolete!
  18. It's fun to paint. Time-consuming maybe, but fun. Easy too, at that scale!
  19. It's fluffy almost by definition. Sure, maybe some of the German players get too excited and field a disproportionate number of King Tigers, but at least you can always kid yourself that it could have happened!
  20. Some of the boards really really are amazing. Check these bad-boys out (not mine! - stolen from the FoW forum. Sadly I can't link to them, as it's members only):
So there you go. Just some of my sprawling thoughts.

- Drax.


  1. Good reasons to start an FOW army and well written out.

    I look forward to reading more on this sir.

  2. Well said Drax!

    I'll add a few other points of my own:

    1) The scale is just plain better for company-sized battles.

    After playing just a few games of Flames, you'll never look at a 40K game the same way again. The forces you play in both games are roughly the same size in terms of the number of tanks and little men that you fight with. But in Flames you have about 9x the amount of space to move around and fight in.

    2) You can play on terrain that's balanced AND that actually looks like someplace.

    When I set up a Flames table, I start by putting down a road and/or some railroad tracks. Then I start putting down buildings to make a town. Then I put other terrain down around the town so that it actually looks like someplace in reality. Yet you can still make sure that everything is balanced gameplay-wise.

    40K has gotten to the point where a fair setup looks like an abstracted sports field or paintball arena. The net result is that I have no feeling of 'being there'.

    3) I can carry my entire collection in one bag!

    I've got roughly 6500 points of Germans (that cost me less than a good 2000 point Space Marine army). But that entire collection fits into just one small battlefoam bag! I literally carry my entire collection to the store with me each week, even though I'm only actually using 1500-2000 points of what I have in any given game.

    Heck, my last tournament army fit into an old 17.5" x 8" x 2.5" Chessex case that I decorated the top of so that it doubled as my display board. The case/display and everything else I needed for the tourney fit into one backpack with room to spare. Having carried 3 GW suitcases, a large display board, and a portable table around both Adepticon and NOVA last year, I was SUPER happy to be able to carry my Flames army around from table to table in just one hand.

    4) The variety in Flames is Amazing!

    There's simply so many different types of unit in Flames. Germans alone have dozens of different tank and transport types. To say nothing of all the different types of infantry, transports, guns, and other choices.

    Then there's the lists. Over a dozen for Germans in the North Africa book alone. From light and heavy tank companies to recon, paratrooper, engineer, and armored infantry forces.Yet each and every model has a use. Everything is balanced in points. Every list is also balanced in options so that you can't just spam the best units. Coming from GW's world, it's refreshing.

    5) The players are amazing sports!

    Flames seems to attract an older crowd of gamers. Which means that I haven't seen any of the petty dramas and arguments that I'm used to in 40K. My group is the top-ranked club in North America, yet these guys will bend over backward to make sure that you're enjoying the game. It feels a bit like graduating from High School to College. :)

  3. My main wargame opponent is a WWII nut and the new Flames of War boxed set is looking tempting, thanks for your views.

    And nice Red Dwarf quote ;)

  4. Thanks for that, Drax! A very orderly treatise, and there are some very good points there. Cost, of course, but I like the idea of forums which are actually read by 'powers that be'. I have to say I'm not a FoW fan, for the combined reasons that I'm a 28mm skirmish player through an through, who likes painting insignia, camo and detail, and who has never got on with skirmish games. That said, I've really got into different games recently for similar reasons to yours, mainly Nuts and others. Things like extra infantrymen in boxes really do smack of a 'company that cares'. GW defenders often claim that it really is run by gamers still, but even if that's true it certainly doesn't feel like it any more. My guard are approaching 3000pts and I'm struggling to know what to get for them. Great post, I may do one of my own soon!

    1. Col. you need to add a super heavy in your Guard collection. Jus' sayin like. :)

    2. Or he could save $45.50 and get 2 starter armies for Flames instead. :)

  5. Gone too far down the (not)epic ammageddon route. Bollox.

  6. I like the idea of FoW, and historicals in general. Maybe it's just the local scene, but the FoW games I've seen tend to be two lines of tanks roll up and shoot at each other, with a lot of rolls for crews jumping in and out of the tanks. I'm sure that there's a lot of variety and great possibilities, but I'm not seeing it in practice.

    1. It gets a lot more interesting when you add in some infantry and play the full range of missions.

  7. Excellent write-up, Sand. I have to give this system a try. Thanks to you, the siren song of FoW is calling me.

  8. Wow. Cheers, Chaps!

    >SandWyrm: Brilliant. Naturally, some of those points I just forgot/was too sleepy to make (like the better scale) but you're so well informed that your points are just blinding. Thanks for taking the time to jot them up!

    >Steve: Good spot! And yes, the new starter set looks amazing.

    >Scipio: I have nowhere near enough skill (or as much anoraky research time as I'd like!) to commit to historical gaming at any scale bigger than 15mm!

    >Zzzzzz: Hey, someone's got to keep Forgeworld in business, right?

    >sonsoftaurus: I've heard this complaint, but honestly haven;t played enough. Still if my squishy infantry play and lose against someone with an unreasonably 'tanky' force, then so be it. It's his (or her) loss if their force isn't put together for a fun 'what if' recreation - I'm too old to care.

    >Monty: see if you can watch a good friendly demo game, mate. Thanks for reading!

    - D.

    1. Naw! Tanks fear infantry in this game. Unless the tanks catch them running across open ground. Muhahahahahaha...

      Seriously though, even tank lists take some infantry if they're smart. On the defense, they're a must have. They also don't get bogged down in terrain like my tanks tend to do. :)

  9. I play Soviets in FoW. Like Guard you never really have enough.
    A couple of points. You don't have to use 15mm models, I've played FoW with 6mm and 10mm models, you can change movement and ranges proportionally if you want to but it's not neccessary, you only really need to change the template sizes.
    Secondly, if you have lots of Epic models you could always write stats for them for FoW. FoW is only a mutant version of 40K anyway.


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