Hi Duncan here and with the looming version change of the Flames of the War rules on the horizon early in 2017 we thought we would all take the opportunity to look briefly look back on the edition and each come up with our own dizzying highs and superficial lows.
Enjoy and let us know your 3 Good, 3 Bad of V3!
V3 has basically been FoW for me, having come in the tail end of V2. So I can really only compare with external games. I have however loved V3, but it has flaws I hope V4 will remedy.
- Morale – despite well documented spelling problems, I’ve found both platoon and company morale a great mechanic, (especially when a reluctant 5+ seems as likely as rolling a 1 when a 2+ is needed) an elegant and effective mechanic.
- Tank destroyers – ok this point has nothing to do with them, but all to do with battlefront fixing rules which were not working- this is the best example but there are others.
- PDF/digital exclusive – loved the great variety of lists which have come out all with their own little unique bits.
- Auto attack/spearhead- far to universal now, really needs to go in my humble opinion.
- Bagpipes – a byword for lots of shenanigans I think, as it was possible to use it to ignore multiple defensive fire shots to still get in – again one example of many which I hope V4 does away with.
- Dusk – so under-utilised as a rule it’s criminal – I think after an entire edition I only saw it used once in AIW.
- There are lots of interesting nuances to the rules allowing for a different game every time, even against the same opponent on a similar mission.
- It’s adapted well with time and hasn’t stood still. V3 special rules and lists have been updated post play-test and improved including several spin off games.
- Each of the Nations has a real identity in each period. You really feel it when a skilled opponent is using their national rules and equipment well making the game feel authentic as well as quick play.
- There are occasional scatter-gun rules that pop up in weird sections of the rule book that aren’t covered in sections you’d expect which leads to confused players.
- Despite the skill needed to attack with them… all infantry and gun hoards with integrated anti-tank assets are dull to play against and that’s taken advantage of in timed tournaments. There are occasional scatter-gun rules that pop up in weird sections of the rule book that aren’t covered in sections you’d expect which leads to confused players.
- Whilst it is good that most games are closer than the score lines often suggest and some formations are very resilient, games often came down to a single skill or moral test made at the right moment which if made would totally take the game beyond one player as the game focuses players towards a key objective. I’d like to see a move towards multiple flash points and “objectives”.
I’ve been playing V3 since the beginning, I even remembering painting the open fire starter set when on detachment to the Middle East in 2010!
- List construction, few games allow such varied lists. I spend ages analyzing and selecting a list for a tournament, I love tinkering to squeeze what I want in, agonizing over whether to have .50 cals, or can I afford the spotter for my mortars. This leaning process is really rewarding when the list performs on the table.
- Assaults, these are vicious and hard to pull off especially in late war. But when you get one right you can punch through the enemy line storming that objective. My favorite memory will be ‘Nelly’ the Ferdinand assaulting a Soviet God Of War, winning and capturing 4 guns in a turn.
- Morale, I think V3 captures the crumbling of your morale as you gradually take casualties. That fear you get when you have to roll that dice once below half strength is always there. I can’t remember the number of games that have swung at the last moment due to a platoon morale test that saw 7 stands of US inf or even once 18 stands of Soviets run away (what a roll!).
- Smoke bombardments – I just don’t understand why I can’t fire it anywhere!
- The balancing of the USA in late war. It is really broken, the synergy of the force and its rules is way too good.
- The scoring mechanism doesn’t allow enough granularity. Losing 3 panther tanks is a bigger deal than losing 2 recce cars in reality.
No real caption here… just love the picture. Maybe Duck & Beetle?
V3 has been my whole FoW experience, I bought red bear and at the same time got handed a free brand new V3 rule book.
- Thematic recreation is great. FoW V3 really is the game of the film of WWII. The rule set and armies are really good at making it feel like you are charging cavalry at panthers or hiding king tigers behind bushes shooting at T-34’s. The scenery and models really help with this. FoW is a pretty game with a good immersive rule set.
- The learning curve. FoW is comparatively simple to start, two main ratings and then the equipment and special rules gives granularity. It however just keeps going with how much depth there is, from how to set up a decent killing zone for defensive fire to how to use recce and AOPs to push back ambushes up to how to use recovery vehicles to bump start tanks. It’s rare I don’t play a game against Steve Charlton and not learn something new. That learning curve from beginner to mastery is really nicely balanced and at no point feels like a completely unmanageable task.
- The people who play it are the ones who make it. I’ve made loads of friends through FoW. When Adam and I went to 40k tournaments it was generally an exercise in spotting and avoiding the psychopathology in the room (and the smell, oh god the smell). Never would I have thought of going to a local pub and laughing at the welshmen when they lose at rugby with that crowd. FoW tournaments are a group of friendly people who are generally all at the very least tolerable for the length of a game (Adam) and mainly a good laugh to be around (everyone else)
- Lists that are just unplayable. I’m quite content with weird and wonderful lists including noncompetitive ones, it’s the ones that look like they should be competitive but just don’t work. I’m looking at you veteran Cromwells. Some lists are not strange enough to be fun and different, but you just can’t get a competitive list out of them and there aren’t nice equivalent lists to use the models for instead. German infantry have so many lists it doesn’t matter if one or two are rubbish, pretty much everything with Cromwells or IS-2s as the base tank are just not good enough to be competitive. All round tanks seem to get penalised in points for being mediocre at everything as opposed to tanks which are great at one thing but rubbish at others (Stuart’s, I’m looking dreamily at you).
- Dust up. I absolutely !£$%&?! hate dust up. I can’t do it, I’ve tried. I know the wait and kill the reserves and break the enemy tactic and have used it but it doesn’t seem a very good depiction of anything at all. I’m trying to think of a situation in a real battle where having half your force castle up within eyesight of half the enemy and then hope you can kill a group of stuff attacking you quicker than their castle kills your guys attacking.
- Artillery against tanks. It’s too powerful at killing tanks, not good enough at killing dug in infantry. Tanks exist basically to protect their crew against artillery bombardments, not to be blown to kingdom come by nebs.
- The periods. Dividing the war into three periods for the war is a simple and elegant mechanic especially when it comes to determining the points values of something that served in all three periods such as the German 88 Flak/Anti Tank Gun.
- The missions. Having come into Flames of War from other historical systems that relied on bespoke missions based on historical scenarios I was a bit wary of the “generic” scenarios in the main rule book. It all seemed a bit Games Workshop initially to me but the more I tired them the more I liked the concept of them. Having the unpredictability of mobile or delayed reserves adds a bit of flavour to the games that other systems struggle to match, especially in a competitive setting.
- The player base. On the whole they’re an amazing bunch and I have made some really good friends as a good result of playing the game with people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I have travelled up and down the country and to Europe playing the game.
- The imbalance of some forces owing to a synergy of special rules such as US Artillery or Armour in Late War. This creates too many cookie cutter lists that become difficult to counter effectively and things end up as either a template war or a battle between who can apply the rules the best rather than a true test of luck and tactics.
- The assault rules. Ordering your men to blindly charge to their potential deaths in an assault just feels odd to me. You only do a motivation test if there is a tank team nearby but if you’re facing a dozen MG teams then no test. Sorry but that doesn’t feel right. Having had to do it for real I know that motivating your troops to get out of cover and advance into close quarters even when you have overwhelming fire support is not an easy task. I’d like to see a simple motivation test to get troops to charge into hand to hand combat especially given the substantially lower levels of training then compared to today.
- Air support rules. Hiding planes behind buildings, especially AOPs, is just too gamey. I’d like to see something along the lines of TY where you can shoot at planes regardless of terrain and with them getting concealment if appropriate.
SCOOP – The real reason that the Allies overcame the Axis revealed!
Well, I’ve played this game for 6 years now. I’m not sure that I can find 3 things that make the game for me, nor 3 things that I don’t like apart from Defender Wins scenarios, although some would say that as I can’t attack, it’s the best way for me to win games? One thing that I do think is better with FoW then many other games, is the complication of the rules, what I don’t like with them, is that this complication can lead to ambiguity and therefore can cause issues at the table, as people interpret it the way that they want to.
I’ve been playing since the latter half of V1 so I’ll try and keep this focused on V3 only, rather than Flames as a whole! In general, I felt V3 was the best version to date, albeit with a few niggling things in the core rules (but there’s no such thing as a perfect system. Well, except perhaps “Blood and Spray – *THE* Polynesian Canoe War game”).
[Can’t wait for the upcoming Kickstarter – Ed]
- List variety – Late War has had a very good variety of lists. Not all of them are torny winners but there are some cracking lists for using in a club based scenario – especially in the Italian books.
- Assaults – whilst still not perfect, I feel like Version 3 got closest to making Assaults work.
- Players – It feels like Flames really got going in V3. We had a number of players start in this version and almost all the Brighton tornies have been in V3. Whilst I look forward to V4 with cautious optimism, my main fear is losing players.
- Late war Infantry US forces – Artillery behind a screen on LMG and Bazookas. Best of luck assaulting it and, all too often, if they had to attack they’d pull some “double through terrain” !£$%!
- Planes – More specifically, planes being hidden behind a suitable shed so that the 3.7cm AA couldn’t shoot them.
- Special Rules – sort of ties in with no.1. It feels like some forces have to have a special rule to justify their existence rather than just be an interesting combination of morale/skill and organisation chart. It makes working out what each force can do a headache and every so often you get a bit of a ridiculous one slip through the cracks (“Winter Training”)
I played version two a few years before version three. The release and free rule books provided a huge boost of energy into the community.
- Toning down soviet tanks. 10 tanks smacking into infantry were nearly impossible to stop in version two. The two effective hits really stops this.
- The proliferation of lists. Want to play Italian cavalry or soviet naval infantry? Yes you can. Lots of lists really adds flavour.
- Lots of things that needed a tweek from V2 were streamlined in V3.
It has been hard to thing of too many negatives. Overall I have loved version three. I will be different and only list two minor negatives.
- The rules, special rules, national rules and characters make it tough for the seasoned gamer to keep up. The novice has a steep learning curve to understand and absorb the rules and what effect they have on the game.
- No MW. We didn’t get new MW lists in version three. Sadly this saw only tumbleweeds in the desert for some communities.
Having dabbled a bit with V2 it was V3 that really reeled me into the Flames of War hobby, mainly with the free rule book – a pretty bold move when Battlefront made it but defiantly paid off for me!
- Lists glorious, glorious lists! I love looking at lists and theorising what may and may not work and more importantly what might be cool (i.e. is there any captured tanks)!
- Points values. The way that BF changed up the competitive scene by changing the “official” points values. I think moving LW to 1420pts really shook up the environment and changed the lists that were popular without releasing a new book.
- Material. The sheer volume of books, models and stuff that Battlefront managed to get out in V3 is staggering. The release schedule was jammed and meant that things always felt fresh and for us magpies there was something shiny always on the horizon.
- MW. I started out playing MW in the desert and I loved it. Unfortunately this was more to do with the theatre rather than anything else and of the 3 periods MW was something that never floated my boat again which is a shame really.
- The amount of terrain that the V3 rules suggested was never anywhere near close to enough for me. Usually we doubled the quantity to restrict firing lines of sight and make mobility necessary.
- Barbed Wire. I love me some German Pioneers, I don’t love allied tanks being able to roll through 6″ of my barbed wire with zero consequences.
So that was V3 in a nutshell we’re all really looking forward now to the release of V4 and planning for the future of Flames of War.