Flames of War V3 observations

In the back of the V2 Flames of War rulebook is a very handy synopsis of the game’s core rules.  This guide was a fantastic way for players to get to grips with the basics of the game’s rules, and to look up particulars while playing.  Recently Battlefront has posted a link on their site to the Flames of War Quick Reference Guide for V3!  I’ve been checking this out, and while the changes are subtle, I can see how they will drastically affect how the game is played in the future.  Here are a few of the items which jumped out at me:

  • Wheeled vehicle movement is increased in most cases.  Armored cars are no longer wildly inferior to their tracked counterparts.  Jeeps and motorcycles move 16″ standard.  Wheeled vehicles now move 12″ over open ground, and faster on roads!  I believe that agile, but delicate armored car forces may now appear in games more often.  This certainly gives me incentive to field my 11th Hussars force for Mid War some day.
  • Smoke ammo is more effective for those guns and vehicles which get it.  A smoke shot must be fired first, drops two smoke markers, and blinds teams more effectively than before.
  • Recce vehicles, and Gone to Ground gun teams (man packed only?) receive a 3+ save.  This is a clear effort to create some parity for these teams with other elements in the game.  This will probably help make them more common on the table-top.
  •  When firing artillery with a large amount of guns, the firer can often choose between re-rolling misses, or getting a larger template.  This scales up to the massive devastating bombardments that rocket launchers are fond of doing.  What was once a British national rule is now a general tactic.  I love it!
  • There are a ton of changes in the assault phase.  Defensive fire needs to be planned more carefully thanks to the 8″ bubble rule.
  • Getting one or two teams into contact doesn’t allow the entire platoon (or company – people who have faced off against Strelkovy know what I am talking about) to advance.  Only teams within 8″ can now try to contribute to an assault.  I have heard that units with ‘quality of quantity’ have this region extended to 12″.
  • Gun teams have circumstances where they can attack tank teams in an assault.
  • Those very same gun teams are likely to be lost if their side has to fall back during an assault.
  • Aggressive teams from the winning side can force enemy teams back thanks to a 2″ push back zone that is applied to the teams which fell back.  This will be handy to force platoons off objectives, or out of advantageous terrain.
  • Tank Terror is now actually called Tank Terror.
  • AA fire now has 8″ extra range when shooting at aircraft.
  • Airplanes don’t need to roll to range in if their targets are more than 2″ away from woods or buildings.  I love this rule.  It is very effective at representation, and while I am bummed out that it may be easier for Typhoons, and P-40s to knock out my panzers, it will be historically accurate when I hide them in the woods for the first several turns of the game.

The above certainly aren’t all the changes, and many of which have details and caveats that I am missing without reading the actual rulebook.  Based on these changes I am pretty excited about V3.  I think its going to be a good ruleset. 

If you find any misinterpretations in the above post, my bad!  I am writing this giddily after an initial perusal of the new quick reference guide. 

Base marking in Flames of War

Anyone who has played a handful of games of Flames of War has probably noticed that it is easy to mix up teams between platoons.  The problem is that when you are looking down at your infantry teams, gun teams, and in some cases even tank teams, everything tends to look the same (they are wearing something called a uniform after all).  This can cause issues in the game when you need to remove teams as casualties, determining which platoon has what weapon attachment, or how many teams are in a platoon when it can take it’s defensive fire shots against an assaulting platoon.  Most of these issues come up with infantry companies which have platoons which are deployed interwoven, or simply next door to another platoon.  It can be very easy to mix up which team is with what platoon.

There are loads of ways to mark your units to help alleviate the problems above, and here I am going to show you some of my favorite methods.  The easiest thing to do, and what I tend to do with each of my armies in Flames of War is to come up with a simple marking system for the edges of your bases.  I have seen some people put little dots on the edges of bases with permanent markers, the number of dots showing what unit a team is part of, but I think you can push this method a little farther.  I tend to paint a wide region on the back left side of the base with white paint.  I will put one or more colored dashes to illustrate which platoon the team belongs to.  The colors and number of dashes that you use to mark the teams can vary in any way you find appealing.  For example I will mark my combat platoons with red dashes, but a different number for each platoon.  1st platoon would have 1 red dash, 2nd 2 re dashes, ect.  A weapons platoon would get orange, blue, or other color dashes in the same way.

On the white background, these colored dashes really stand out, and are very easy to read.

Another step that I like to take is to make an additional mark, sometimes on the right side of the base to mark a special unit.  My PAVN Infantry Companies have many RPG teams in them, and it is important to me that I don’t position them incorrectly, or remove them as casualties before I want to.  These teams get an additional mark on the right hand side of the base to help them stand out from the rest of the company.  Teams such as command teams usually don’t get any additional marking as they are pretty easy to identify from a distance based on their base-size.  This method is very easy to do, and makes keeping your teams organized very easy.

US gun team with base marking
This infantry team is part of the 2nd platoon.
The dark blue dash next to the platoon identifier shows that this is a RPG team.

Another method, one favored by my good friend Jason is to give the bases some special detail which will identify them from one another.  His US Paratroopers combat platoons have either pumpkins (made from greenstuff) or tombstones (made from plasticard) which identify them as either 1st or 2nd platoon.  This method, while taking a bit of extra work adds a lot of character, and appeal to a platoon.  At 15mm, the base of an infantry team is effectively half the model, so extra work put into bases is never wasted.  This subtle method can also be used creatively to give an overall theme to your army, much in the way that Jason gave his US paratroopers a Halloween theme.

US Paratroopers (Tombstone Platoon) by Jason Misuinas

The two primary platoons of Jason’s US paratroopers are defined by pumpkins, and tombstones.  These simple thematic devices identify what platoon the team is in while giving the entire army its own flavor.

US Paratroopers (Pumpkin Platoon) by Jason Misuinas
Gasmask wearing Grenadiers by Jason Misuinas

Jason’s Pioneer Grenadiers are a very individualistic unit who’s base really causes them to stand out.  This unit is usually the lone infantry unit supporting his Panzerkompanie, but if he were to add more units, he could apply variations to the basing to both maintain uniformity, and give them some unique trait that he could use to help identify the unit.

One popular method for marking bases that I don’t think is very useful is to put a sticker on the bottom of the miniature’s base.  While marking the unit this way looks nice (because you don’t see the markings unless you look at the bottom of the base), it makes spot identifying the team impossible, and when it comes time to figure out who is who, you need to physically move the team.  This is usually not a big deal, but can occasionally cause troubles.  In a tournament I participated in an opponent needed to make sure that the command team that was between two platoons was his 2iC.  After picking the team up and checking out the bottom of it’s base, he put the team down around an inch closer to a neighboring platoon.  I don’t believe that he was intentionally trying to influence the game, but that fudge could have changed whether both units could link up to provide defensive fire or not.  This method is better than nothing, but not ideal.

Marking your bases is extremely important for your flames of war army.  It will help you keep the army organized, will keep you from forgetting to put teams down (I have forgotten an observer team on occasion), and will help maintain accurate gameplay which your opponent will appreciate.  On that last note, if  you are going to tournaments than this step is critical.  Nothing is quite as frustrating for an opponent in a tournament as when you can’t clearly tell them where platoon boundaries are.  Mark up your teams.  Its good for everyone!  🙂

Terrain for the new table: Urban Buildings

I firmly believe that complexity can be mitigated by efficient production in hobby projects.  The assembly line is your best friend.

A while ago I started tinkering with a system to create a series of urban buildings for Flames of War for city, or more dense sub-urban areas of Europe (perhaps including smallish cities such as Carentan, ect. ).  The premise of this terrain building methodology was to use foam-core to create the general form of the buildings (think a box with door, and window holes in it) and then add layers of applique detail as needed to achieve the results I wanted.

Today I stumbled across this article on TTGN.  I need to look into these buildings to see if they would fill the role that the foam-core would as described above.  They certainly would be more expensive, but would also be more sturdy, and would take a laborious step out of the process.

I am very interested in the laser-cut trend that is happening right now in gaming accessories.  These buildings may be a must have for my future terrain collection, or they may simply be the motivator for me to get off my ass and make my own buildings.

 

Table update

This is not the proper next phase of the game table project as I don’t have any update pictures.  I did, however get the panels spray painted.  After coating the boards with brown spray, I pulled out some patches, and highlighted the hills with a light tan color.  It’s been a while since I had done any large area spray painting, and while I made sure there was a good flow of air, the basement reeked of acetone & aerosol.  This quickly dissipated (into my apartment where it lingered for an hour or so), such is the way of the hobby life.

I hit up John for some advice on the next stage: flocking.  I have tone of static grass, but I think I will try to hunt down some light green flock as well to change up the texture a bit.  I’d love to add some grass tufts here and there as well, but I am not sure I can find a cost effective way to do so.  The next stage prior to laying down flock and grass will to do some highlighting.  The way I applied the tan spray brought up some of the detail in the sandy texture, but some proper drybrushing should help.

I will try to get some shots up in the next day or two (its depending on the weather at this point due to a lack of substantial light in the basement).

Hail Caesar – Dark Ages Campaign Round 2

We have been playing a bunch of Hail Caesar for a Non-historical Dark Ages campaign. Here are some shots of Saxons vs Arabians, and Normans vs An Army of Byzantium.

View of the Normans from the Byzantine line
View of the Normans from the Byzantine line
Normans prepared for combat
Norman line, waiting for the battle to begin.
Pike proxies
Heavy spear - proxied by Alexander's pike phalanx
Mr. Humphrey surveying the battlefield
Mr. Humphrey surveying the battlefield

The Saxons emerge from the village center to face the Arab cavalry.

Chris (Byzantium) faced off against my infantry heavy Norman army. We had an interesting game that was characterized primarily by a lot of maneuvering driven by a desire for our heavy units to find a weakness to exploit in the opposing lines. There were a few last minute charges that occurred before we had to call it a night. We kind of messed up terrain placement which made getting into combat kind of tricky.

Gaming table phase 2

I’ve used some lightweight spackling compound to patch up the gaps between layers of the hills, and have added some small stones to create a region of rough terrain on a steep area. This will need some sanding to clean up the spackle, and perhaps shape the hillside some more.

Next step will be to get a coat of primer on the board. I am going to use some leftover interior house-paint from when the girlfriend and I painted our living room.