Flames of War – Tactica : Assault (Part 1)

Hello Readers,
Fred here, back for some tricks & treats for you.
Today, I would like to dive with you in my preferred and key step of a FoW game : Assault. This article aims at providing a view of how Assault works, what to expect of it, how to properly use it in your matches, and who can make it a game changer. We will cut it in 3 parts, 1st on what is and why Assault, as well as introducing how to Assault, 2nd on details of the Assault and decisions to make, and 3rd concluding on the outcome of Assault.
Put your helmet on, fix your bayonet, and charge!

image from History Warefare Network

What is Assault ?

The Assault Step is a key component of FoW. You can spend whole games without a single Assault, having Shooting duels only, but in most matches, this is when the fate of the battle is decided. To be honest, this is also why FoW is a much richer game then straightforward Tanks vs Tanks battles (no offence, those are fun). Mastering its basics and knowing its subtleties will pave your road to victory.

During the Assault Step, your and your opponent troops will be engaged in fierce hand-to-hand and track-to-face combats, aiming at damaging each other or claiming strategic battlefield positions.
It is important to understand that, in a « I go – You go » game that FoW is, the Assault Step is an exception as both players will interact simultaneously during the Turn of one of them.
FoW is a quite simple game : but the Assault Step is not. It’s fairly complex and sometimes fairly hard to fully understand as written … #ThanksBF

Breaking down this step:
1. During his Turn, a player will select 1 unit to launch an assault
2. This unit will try to contact the opponent, who will have a chance to stop it
3. If the assailant is not stopped, then it strikes the enemy troops
4. If enough damages are made or if the enemy troops don’t have the courage (or the will) to keep being in the fight, the assault is won. If not, defender can strike back its opponent, which will either carry on fighting or leave, and so on until there is a winner and a loser
5. When the fight is done, units take new positions (either gained or lost)
6. The player whose Turn is on can then restart the process from phase 1 with a remaining Unit.

Phase 1 – Why Assault?

An Assault doesn’t necessarily involve the destruction of opposing Teams : it may, but it’s not always the goal. Thus, prior to any Assault, you should ask yourself the reason why you want to do it (on top of : it’s fun). The 3 main motivations are:
pushing into enemy lines
repelling the enemy
gaining a tactical advantage

When Shooting is not enough to break the enemy positions, Assault is a super efficient tool (most of the time : way more than pew-pew!), yet a risky one. Pushing means driving your troops into the jaws of dangers to both damage enemy units and claim their positions. We all have in mind the glorious charge of smoking tanks, blazing guns and machine guns, crushing soldiers under their tracks, or the courageous infantry rushing from their holes to seize enemy trench. Most of the time, this is the continuity of the movement initiated earlier in the turn or in the game, and you should keep this idea in mind : your troops move (move 1), shoot or follow me (strike 1 or move 2), assault (move 2 or move 3), then hit in assault (strike 1 or strike 2), and if things go well will consolidate (move 3 or move 4). Wrapping all up : in a single turn, the Assault step allow your toy soldiers to strike either the same or twice as much as if they had only shoot, and they can potentially move up to 4 times instead of 1. In a game that is constrained by time, this is a massive actions economy ! Pushing will be targeted at gaining ground closer to the Objective you have to take or take a better position for your troops (including prevent the enemy to use a position that can annoy your plans). A well-made push, initiated at the right moment is unstoppable and will win you the game.

While Pushing is action, Repelling is reaction : you aim at claiming back the ground taken by the enemy (by previous push notably) because if you don’t, your opponent will be on the highway to victory. Repelling happens most of the time when the Defender has their troops pushed backed by offensive action of the Attacker : platoons guarding the Objective had been targeted and battered ; if they don’t react and bring the fight to the opponent, hanging on will be near impossible. It can also be any player having Units removed from a good or key battlefield position and wanting them back. Words of advice here, if you are the Defender : Defend high (meaning close (but not too much) to the enemy and away (but not too far) from your Objectives) as it will allow you to break, regroup, and repel at least twice before being in critical mode ; Offense is the best Defense, as the more you let your opponent develop their game, the less you will be in capacity to react to its pushes. Repelling will be targeted at gaining space around the Objective, and air to breathe for your troops, reducing the pressuring gauntlet around them. Attacker can also repel on its own if the key position he had overlooking the Objective he wants to take is re-claimed by the Defender. You should conceptualize a FoW battle where Assault is involved as waves on a beach, coming up and down depending on push and repels from both sides.

Not as important as the previous ones, Gaining is more situational and less critical, yet not to be dismissed.  Here, the Assault aims at obtaining a tactical advantage during the game : with minimal risks taken, you look forward at getting a bonus over your opponent. It’s not the full scale Assault of Pushing or Repelling, more the cunning maneuver of Joe The Indian. The most classical is assaulting Bailed Out tanks, something very common. It is also a team moving Out of Command charging with the sole risk of being destroyed, but not having exposed its whole unit if it doesn’t work. Or a targeted assault with only certain teams of your platoon against specific targets (a forward firing Gun, a Tank that can’t Defensive Fire, Sneaking up on Tanks…). In essence, Gaining is making small wins with limited risks.

Phase 2 – How to Assault ?

The Assault Step looks simple enough

Not everyone can launch an Assault. There are some quite straightforward requirements :
not being Pinned Down (meaning Armored Tank Teams can always Assault)
Armored Teams can’t Assault other Armored Teams (no ramming!)
Heavy Weapon can’t Assault (but they can fight back)
not having move @Dash Speed (to be noted : it’s a Team by Team check, so some of the Unit may have Dashed, and thus won’t charge, but the rest of the pack can)

Some are more subtle, and need awareness in the player’s turn :
not having shoot @Halted/Full ROF (be careful in your shooting step and order of shooting)
not having moved @Tactical Speed more than 10’/25cm (don’t get carried away by the speed of your Stuart, Cruiser, T-34…)
having issued a Movement Order other than Follow Me (Blitz, Cross Here … no shenanigans here)
shoot at Aircraft in the previous enemy turn (as this one is continuing from one turn to another, consider marking your Teams that shoot at Air … or just don’t shoot at them as chances to damage is really minimal!)
spot for or fire an artillery or smoke bombardment (watch out for those close Leaders requesting artillery support on their position, they can’t assault in the same turn)

And the biggest one : you can only launch one Assault with your Unit per Turn. You can engage on multiple fronts, but it’s a single Assault. Period. Now that may seem easy most of the time, but you have to consider you don’t need to be In Command to launch an Assault. On simple application, it means you can sometimes leave your Unit Leader away from the fight, with a HQ nearby to grant Command re-rolls to the Unit, and let your troopers/tanks take risks in the fight. On more complex application, it means you can move a lot of your Teams Out of Command, and decide to Assault with several of them in various fronts. This can be tricky as each one will trigger Defensive Fire, which result will be cumulative. Nonetheless, it can give a huge tactical flexibility to threaten multiple battlefield areas, engaging where it can be the juicier for you.

With requirements matched, you should check if your Teams are able to Charge into Contact. The rule states :

An Assaulting Unit Moves any of its Tank or Infantry Teams up to 4”/10cm into Contact with an enemy Team by the shortest route. These Teams are now Assaulting Teams.
A Team is in Contact with an enemy Team if:
its front edge is as close as it can get to the enemy Team, or
it is an Infantry Team and its front edge is as close as it can get to another Infantry Team from its own Unit that is directly in Contact with an enemy Team.
Teams that can’t Contact an enemy Team cannot Assault.

The basic Battlefront explanation of the Assault Step

There had been lot of attempts by BF since V4 inception to better explain or clarify this, sometimes adding more confusion to an already obscured topic. Thanks to BF’s « guidance », we currently have very strange situations with Teams charging from way more than 4’/10cm away, intervening terrains allowing charges impossible without it, messy situations where the Unit launching an Assault is not selecting who is it going to engage…
Have in mind that, Rules As Written (and « clarified ») :
– you will move a maximum 4″/10cm to engage, but less if the route to the closest enemy is shorter to reach
– you don’t strictly need to be within 4″/10cm to Contact (only to be as close as you can, meaning Terrains and models can allow very long range charges)
– you need to engage the enemy by the shortest route and distance (so be very careful how you move because this will determine next exactly where you will end up in Assault)
– you move straight forward (so no turning, no nothing, no rotating when you hit the enemy team, just, point, move, and stop)

Believe me when I say this causes a lot of confusions and discussions when played right. Here is my attempt to simplify this, with slight variations that will solve most of the conflicts induced by the wording and subsequent ones in LFTF :

To start an Assault, a Tank or Infantry Team needs to be within 4’/10cm of an enemy Team. (Note some Units have special rules increasing this distance such as Cavalry and some Soviet Infantry)
It then moves up to 4’/10cm in a direct line towards an enemy Team in range, in order to physically contact it (model to base for Tank, base to base for Infantry).
If it can’t physically contact it because of Terrain, it is still considered in Assault and physically in contact.
Additionally, an eligible Infantry Team that can, with this move, line up base to base with a single friendly Infantry Team already physically in contact, can Assault as well.
Teams from the Unit that can’t Contact an enemy Team are not part of the Assault.

That’s not Rules As Written. But it’s guarantees no problems, no headaches and no conflicts.

Now you have the 2 versions (the actual legal and the no-conflict approach), you have the basics of how to assault. But playing this step properly is a tiny bit more technical than just yelling “charge !” and hoping to make it. We will see that in our next episode.

Knowledge is power : share it widely!

6 thoughts on “Flames of War – Tactica : Assault (Part 1)

  1. Encore merci pour cet article.
    – Donc lors de l’assaut, dans les 10cm, nous ne pouvons pas pivoter sur le socle ennemi pour augmenter le nombre d’éléments sur la base ennemi.
    – Question : l’ement d’infanterie en soutien d’une autre infanterie, doit-elle pile poil alignésur cette dernière, pour pouvoir participer à cet assaut ? Je dirais non, mais lors d’une partie, j’ai eu droit à ce cas de figure !

    1. @Janik :
      – no, you can’t pivot, neither native nor to increase the number of teams reaching the ennemy. The assault is straightforward, you stop when you contact, and it is the shortest way to contact you must use (hence why it is so important to position your troops during movement)
      – no, you don’t need to line up. You follow the same requirements/constraints, you just need to finish your move in base contact with the infantry team already in contact with the ennemy (remembering what “in contact” means)

  2. Much as I really like your articles this section of the above paragraph REALLY confused me, far more so than BFs description of the Assault Step in the main rules. It’s not helped that it’s not explained in the body of the article itself. Maybe it would have been better left to the article where it will be expained.

    “your troops move (move 1), shoot or follow me (strike 1 or move 2), assault (move 2 or move 3), then hit in assault (strike 1 or strike 2), and if things go well will consolidate (move 3 or move 4). Wrapping all up : in a single turn, the Assault step allow your toy soldiers to strike either the same or twice as much as if they had only shoot, and they can potentially move up to 4 times instead of 1.”

    1. @Adrian : this describes how the Assault Step can increase your moves and your damages.
      Outside Assault, you will do 1 movement and 1 strike (with shooting).
      With Assault, you can do up to four movements (1 move, 2 follow me, 3 move into contact, 4 consolidate) and up to two strikes (1 shoot, 2 assault).

  3. Hello Fred, I don’t think that you are right about not being allowed to pivot or turn when charging into contact. The caveat of “ shortest move” means that most of the time you must move straight forward but there are exceptions. An example would be I have 2 tanks side by side just over 2” from an enemy infantry team in the open. One tank charges into contact and its front edge contacts the whole front edge of the infantry team. The other tank can then charge into the side edge of the same infantry team, pivoting and turning to do so but still complying with shortest possible move to reach the enemy team and moving less than 4”.
    Cheers Keith

    1. Hi Keith,
      Perhaps it’s my English (remember, I’m French 🙂 ) : per se, you must take the shortest road, that’s what the rule says. Physically, it means going straightforward, as the shortest road from point A to point B is a straight line. If you can’t go straightforward, as per your example, for sure you can slide/go around, as long as it is the shortest road.

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