Flames of War – Competition in Late War (Part 4)

Hi All,

Fred here.
Today we complete our series over Competition in Late War by speaking of the (in)famous metagame.

Watch Over Meta(game)

The more you move into the competitive world, the more you will realize the efficiency and power of Builds (yours and the other players). A good reference for those trends is the metagame (or meta). Even if you are not a meta-chaser, it’s always safe to prepare your Build for what it can face.
For a complete introduction, just have a look at Mark’s article here : https://www.breakthroughassault.co.uk/meeting-the-meta/

Needless to say that, with so much toys available and books still expected to complete the circle, LW is definitely a great place for meta evolution. Studying it will give you great tools to better your Builds and your gaming. Still, never be afraid to think outside the box : you may find ideas the majority of players didn’t see, and this is great (remember the CT Tigers @1420 points V3…).

These guys didn’t pay enough attention to the meta …

State of the Nation

So what’s the state of the LW meta ?
Currently (November 2022), it is in an interesting place.

Most Nations are now complete or fully complete : USA, UK, Finland, Romania, Hungary, both had their final Books & Cards. USSR and GER, we are expecting Berlin. Perhaps BF will be kind enough to give a little bit more for some or all. But that’s already plenty to go through right now.

2 Books hit the shelfs this summer and autumn, Bulge GER and Bulge UK. Both are significant additions, 1 is even a meta changer (Bulge GER).

Lessons From The Front July 2022 also provided huge changes compared to beginning of V4. The fact you can’t use Command Cards (unless exceptions) cross-Books means you can still mix and match Books, but fairly not the same. The blow to the GER over 116th and PakFront is massive for them (more on that on a next article). I guess LFTF may have even go further with Axis & Allies Bagration.

All that meaning what was currently efficient prior to this summer 2022 will need to be reconsidered.

Stay alert !

Here are some insights of the current LW metagame :

– the aggressive pricing of LW and the games requirements (rules/missions/victory conditions) tends to favor numerous armored vehicles lists : UK Recce, GER Recce/Brigade Half Tracks, FIN/ROM light tanks, US light tanks … all those Builds revolve around the idea of having a lot of immune to small arms fire wheels/tracks bodies, able to navigate the battlefield and submerge the opponent line with tons of firepower or create a network of steel around the objectives. More so if you consider that these can only be a fraction of the Force, notably very well suited for a 2nd Formation.

– interestingly enough, spamming armored vehicles lists tend to be good at crippling each other : due to the high body count, high volume of firepower available and the low resilience (we are talking of Armor 4 at best), this make up for interesting fire duels, where players’ decisions has a significant part of the outcome.

– armored lists without or with limited light tanks numbers do have other tools to deal with them : in a classic mother Nature food chain, whatever Tank that can go hunting the Lights and be protected (partially at least) to them is good right now. To that extent, Medium Tanks Build, albeit slightly suffering from points-compare to the Lights, are seen more and more as good deterrents/counters. US/UK medium tanks being top on that, GER and USSR medium tanks being viable choice but suffering from the comparing and vulnerable to other threats.

– the recent new additions to GER and UK let them play well in the 4-Artilleries category, something they were struggling to do before (leaving this to the US). USSR can have a somehow similar pattern, but the lack or difficult pricing of mobile artillery leave them in a spot where they can deal the same level of damages (or even more) but don’t have the same resilience. Also, the limitation of Smoke make USSR days harder. Heavy Artillery (AT3+) are also back in players’ favorites, especially armored ones : twin Priest, twin Sexton, both are quite good at dealing with the lights (notably the Top 0 ones), on top of complementing well a 4-Artilleries package.

– overall, having to face numerous artillery barrages and high volume of firepower induced by spam takes Infantry Builds in a complex environment. Infantry Formations do benefit from having more AT capacities (with almost all Infantry having at least 1 portable AT-asset in Late War, more can now got decently 3 and more, and the ones who can’t have access to cheap AT-Guns). But they have to consider a world where Defending on an objective will mean facing a hell lot of rain (artillery or direct shelling) and Attacking an objective will mean going through a hail of small arms fire. Armored transports access becomes more important, as well as having a game plan able to protect the troops from obliteration (counter fire mobile heavy artillery, multiple smoke delivery platforms, aircrafts/recce/tanks busting systems…). Infantry Unit are still exceptional for specific targeted assault and going where the Tanks can go.

– the inclusion of new GER super heavy tanks that can hardly be crippled from the Front and Top and are super good at playing the Reserves count has a considerable impact, despite them being not cheap at all. They also have very powerful guns (in line with what the GER where already able to deliver), which, combined to the newer ability of US and UK to spam decently heavy AT (76mm AT13, Achille & Firefly AT14 or 15…), make the life of regular heavies (Churchill, Tiger, Panther, IS, ISU…) fairly complex right now.

– as an intermediary between Light Tanks, Medium Tanks and super Heavy Tanks, the Tank Destroyers make up for a fine addition. They can still play their part as Utilities, but they can also be fully part of a Core. 3-Units US Tank Destroyers Builds, 2-Units + 1 Medium Tanks UK Achille Builds, even Von Saucken Hetzers Formation (or Von Saucken + twin Marder + 3rd similar Unit) can navigate well in the current environment, where they do lose the all-rounders capacity of the regular Tanks (such as Sherman, Panzer IV, Lee…) but gain a better damaging capacity (due to better/more numerous guns and/or mobility).

– Discount (= taking lower efficiency options or choosing to downgrade part or all of your Build) and Luxury (= taking higher efficiency options or choosing to upgrade part or all of your Build) is still a key variable to take into account in LW meta. Every Nation can do it, some can now play quite well the duality (= both in the same Build) to match competitive requirements. E.G : Reluctant US (= Discount) with higher AT and/or Patton (= Luxury), GER mixing Aggressive troops (= Discount) with Careful multi Faust/Shrek and Big Cats (= Luxury).

– US and UK currently have all the tools to be the master of competitive LW, with UK having a slight lead on in my opinion (apparently, being super good in what you are specialized to do, and less efficient overall, offers very aggressive pricing in BF minds – next article coming !). GER will need to digest Bulge up and LFTF down. FIN/ROU/HUN provide some interesting variations, especially when combined with a Big Nation. USSR are struggling right now, mainly falling in the Minor Nations category (with some Builds still having high potential in the right match ups and hands).

Also, albeit we may have a global meta for FoW, local playing defines trends in a Club/Town/Country/Region.
Information can be complex to find, so, for the sake of all players looking for knowledge and opinions, I please urge players and tournament organizers to publish their Builds and results on the web (social medias, use of tournament trackers, sharepoints…).

Overall, there is quite a lot to work with right now for players.
Interesting time !

So many options, so many tactics !

Let’s go practical !

Now you know the basics, it’s time to move on to the drawing board to actually Build your Force.
How is totally up to you : again, as much as you may know the straws of competitive Builds, FoW remain a game of players. The more confident you are in your Build, the more practice you have with it, the better a player you will be.

Happy to hear your thoughts, feedbacks and experiences in Comments.

Knowledge is power : share it widely !