Fred here, back for some tricks & treats for you.
Today, I would like to dive with you in the core of a FoW game : Movement and Shooting.
Contrary to the Assault Step, which got an article on its own, this one merges both, because they are so connected you can’t talk about one without debating on the other !
This article aims at providing a view of how Movement and Shooting works, how to properly use them in your matches, and what to expect of them.
We will cut it in 2 parts, 1st being describing how both Steps function, from a combined perspective, 2nd being more technical about the effective use, outcome and expectations.
Put your boots on, heat your motors, sharpen your sights, load the shells, here we go !
What are Movement and Shooting?
Movement and Shooting are two separate Steps in Flames of War, yet closely linked. They represent the maneuvers of troops on the battlefield, negotiating terrains and troops in the way, taking positions to complete the mission, as well as spots for laying fire over enemy positions, with direct and indirect shelling.
These are truly the core of this game, as both sides need to advance on the field, react to enemy deployment and positions, and use their firepower to fulfil the tasks assigned, namely take Objectives or obliterate the enemy Force. None are per se compulsory, but you will never see a FoW game where all sides are fully static, and close to none where guns are totally silenced.
Before we go in details of how both work, just have in mind they are connected. You can stay still and shoot, that is true (and that’s notably how assets like Artillery work). But your shooting effectiveness needs to be considered, in balancing non-moving (more shots) with moving (increased damages). Also, at least one side (if not both) must avoid staying in its deployment area: grabbing Objectives means displacing your troops near them, something you can’t do if you don’t move. Moving can transcripts in degrading your shooting efficiency at one moment to upgrade it later, so it’s up to the player to determine when it will be appropriate. As Flames of War is a two ways game (you don’t play alone…) knowing when and how to move, as well as how to engage in a shooting duel, is key, as both will trigger reactive reactions by the opponent.
Just have in mind : Player A moves, then shoot. Then, Player B moves, then shoot.
The shooting of Player A is the continuity of its moves, themselves conditioned to the context set up with Player B. And same goes for Player B.
How do you properly Move?
The golden rule of Movement at FoW is you can move where your models would fit, and you can’t move through (most) models. The first part is quite in line with what you would expect from a toy soldier game: don’t put your tank on top of a peak mountain and don’t keep it hanging on top of another miniature! Some rules apply to certain Teams and Terrains which are Impassable (such as Building for Tanks). The second part is assorted with specific constraints, namely Teams can’t move through Teams (expect friendly Infantry who can be crossed), and all enemy teams must stand 2’/5cm away from each other (expect Tanks can stand right in touch with other Tanks). Both comes into effect in a key concept of FoW, area denial, which we will cover in details in the 2nd part. For now, just keep in mind your models can move quite freely over this huge board, but not everywhere.
Each Unit at FoW has, in effect, 4 move characteristics:
– Tactical Speed
– Dash Speeds
– Cross value
– Movement Orders access
Tactical Speed is how far you can move if you want to fight. Plain, simple. The average speed for Infantry is 8″/20cm, and 10″/25cm for Tanks. Tanks have the greatest variance here, some slow ones can move only 6″/15cm, and the fastest ones can go up to 14″/35cm. Guns are slow, with a max speed of 6″/15cm for the lighter ones, and it is not rare to have value such as 2″/5cm or even – (meaning no tactical speed). Tactical Speed can sometimes be deceptive as it can be impaired by Terrain or other models or limit what you can effectively do (like Assault).
Dash Speeds is how far you can move without fighting. BF has been kind enough to overload the Unit characteristics (and thus this article…) with 3 Dash values, which shall be simplified in Terrain and non-Terrain. Simply explained, you move faster than Tactical if you Dash, but not too much if you cross Terrain in the process. Dash is used to get quicker positioning while sacrificing both Shooting and Assaulting. To Dash, you must not move within 8’/20cm of an enemy Team (and thus you can’t start a Dash if you are already within 8’/20cm of an enemy…). Dash is an excellent action if you don’t intend to fight right away, or if you assess fighting won’t be worth it. Dash Speed seldom exceed twice the Tactical Speed, so, in effect, 1 Dash is equal or slower than 2 Tactical. But it can save you sweat as well as provide you protection, moving from cover to cover. Usually, Dash is a 2 or 3 turns thinking plan. Be aware you can’t Hold or Contest Objective while Dashing.
Cross value is how your Unit will behave while encountering Terrains in its path. Terrains are truly part of a FoW game, which is pointless if you play on a pool table. Terrains provide cover, and cover save models. #SaveATankPlantATree. To enter Terrains, all Teams but for Infantry will roll a Cross Check, which can be as great as 2+ for an assault tank, and as bad as 6+ for a heavy gun. The Cross value is fully part of the movement capacity of a Team, as it is not enough to move fast, if you can’t enter terrain safely, you will have to stay outside it. Meaning you are more exposed, and you can’t reach certain battlefield positions.
Often overlooked in the equation, Movement Orders are fully part of the move capacity of a Unit. Taking Dug In aside (you don’t move, you dig your infantry and gun to provide them cover), all the movement orders allow to move more, or better, and not all Units have access to all (Guns teams can only Dug In and Cross Here, Aircrafts have no Orders, and all other Teams have all Orders).
Cross Here allows a Unit to sacrifice both shooting and assaulting capacities to increase the cross checks rolls by 1 (so 3+ becomes 2+). Don’t underestimate this bonus (coming from 3+ to 2+ means being twice as more efficient in crossing !), especially if it means auto-cross (2+ becoming 1+, and yes, that’s one of the two only tests (with Firepower 1+) you can auto-pass without Command Card in this game !), and it works for all the cross checks that will be done in the movement step of the Unit. Cross Here is a superb order to facilitate movement, almost always combined with Dash (as both sacrifice fighting capacities) unless impossible. If you don’t plan to fight, don’t pass on this one.
Blitz and Shoot & Scoot and Follow Me are all combat related, they all enhance the fighting capacities of the Unit or its tactical positioning on the battlefield.
Blitz is a bet : roll a Skill (or Tactics if different) check, and if you pass, you move an extra 4’/10cm in any direction, but do not count as having moved. The two main applications are either to maximize a shooting step (instead of moving and shooting at reduce rate of fire, you are not moving and shoot full ROF, or you use the extra 4’/10cm and move after to get better shots), or to optimize your placement without having to move (repositioning in any direction within 4’/10cm and keeping your Gone To Ground status). Word of advice here: unless you have specific securing tools (such as Blitz 2+ and Lucky, re-roll of Skills checks…), Blitz is definitely risky, as failure will mean +1 to Hit. Always ponder if it’s really worth doing it. Tactic tip : hoping BF will clarify in a future LFTF, you should select a Unit, roll for Blitz, do the effects, and then move to another one. No rolling all your Blitz at once and determine how you will effectively Blitz/Move your Units depending on success.
Shoot & Scoot is same principle as Blitz, but it is done in the Assault Step, instead of Assaulting. An additional constraint is the Unit’s Leader and the Unit’s Teams attempting it must not have moved before. The two practical applications are hiding your troops that just shot (the “pikaboo” technic, moving an extra 4’/10cm out of line of sight, with the GER and the US TD having the capacity to do both Blitz and Shoot&Scoot in the same turn extra cheesy) or recovering part of the move you sacrificed to maximize your shooting (the “relentless march”).
Lastly, Follow Me is not shooting related, but tactical and Assault oriented. Follow Me means sacrificing shooting for attempting a further 4’/10cm move. Here, it should be considered that Follow Me is done right after a Unit has moved, and attempted by the Unit Leader, who will move the extra 4’/10cm, and then try to motivate its boys to follow him. Regardless of succeeding the Motivation check, your Leader will still move the extra mile, so it can insure a great tactical (contesting an objective) or assault (ending within In Contact range) advantage. On the flip side of the coin, it can also lead to unwanted situation where your leader charges forward, and its Unit remains stuck behind, so be careful when you want to trigger it. Follow Me can be also well combined with Dash for a super extra movement. Remember that Dash prevent you from moving within 8’/20cm, but Follow Me is not constrained (so you can move full Dash and stop at 8’/20cm, and then Follow Me to end up 4’/10cm away from the opponent).
Combining all those factors, you can determine the effective mobility of your Units. E.G : Gun Teams will mostly have a static gameplay, while Tank Teams can zoom around the field.
As a conclusion, appreciating how your Units can move will allow you to determine what role they can take on the battlefield.
How do you properly Shoot?
Shooting is the primary way to deal damages to the opponent’s Units in FoW.
The 2 basics layers of shooting are:
– how would you hit the target?
– how hard can you hit it?
Hitting the target is determined by both Hit On (pounder in part with Skills) and terrain.
Every unit in FoW has a Hit On rating, from 2+ to 4+, the score to match for a direct shot to land on target. The key aspect of FoW is, contrary to most games (and notably most of the popular GW), you use the target rating, and not yours. Indirect shot (artillery) will use shooting Unit’s Skill first, but then resume to Hit On of the target.
Hitting is then mitigated by additional factors, increasing the difficulty to hit the target, all being cumulative +1, with 3 major and common ones (for Direct): Concealment, Long Range, Gone To Ground.
Concealment is the capacity of the target to use terrain to limit incoming fire. This is supremely important @FoW, and a good table for this game must have numerous terrains providing concealment (total or partial) to be fair and enjoyable. Bear in mind that, apart from Hills and Buildings, the target have to be fully behind or in a concealing terrain to get the +1: if you can draw a clear line of sight from the gun/MG of the shooter to the target, without crossing terrain, it is not Concealed.
Shooting at Long Range provides the target a +1 to Hit, on top of +1 Armor for armored teams, when they are 16’/40cm away. Long Range is a super protective tool, and many decisions to move will be directed as “should I move my toys closer or not?” as many shoots are ineffective if not at close.
Gone To Ground (GtG) is, before all else, an attitude. All Teams start a FoW game GtG. Even those who made pre-turn 1 Spearhead movements and deployment, they are protected. That being said, you can only benefit from the bonus if your troops A. Didn’t move (unless they have Scout) B. Are effectively Concealed (by Terrain or in the open for Infantry) C. Didn’t shoot nor assault. Putting it simply: if you don’t want to suffer, just stay put ! But obviously your Unit won’t contribute much to the game, and is still at risks (more below).
Some other uncommon factors (such as Night, Smoke, Slow Firing…) can also make targets close to unreachable, each adding +1 (leading to potential impossible shots or ineffective ones). As a side note, Indirect shooting have increasing penalties (+1/+2/+3) according to when the shell connect with the target (ranging in), but not when Repeating bombardments.
All in all, it means that even the most humble Conscript (Reckless – Hit on 2+) can dodge a lot of hits if effectively Concealed (2+ => 3+), Long Range (3+ => 4+), and Gone To Ground (4+ => 5+).
Almost all Units in FoW have a weapon they can use to shot. From the humble pistol to the super heavy artillery gun, all weapons have a profile, which depicts:
– Type of fire
– Rate of Fire (RoF)
– Anti-tank value (AT)
– Firepower (FP)
– Special Rules or Abilities
Type of fire is divided into direct and indirect fire. Direct is the most common value, representing guns and rifles shooting straightforward at the target. Direct main characteristic is line of sight : if you can see the target, you can try to hit it. Here, positioning and movement take a great deal in determining what you troops can effectively see. More often than not will you redeploy or move to get line of sight for your weapons, navigating around the terrains, as well as your own troops (which block line of sight, unless it’s a stationary Infantry). Indirect is mainly limited to Artillery units, who can bombard their target without having a line of sight. This is an extremely valuable capacity to both target an opponent without risking retaliation, and ignore terrains and troops on the way. Some teams (such as the UK 2in mortar) can also fire indirect shots. Type of fire is totally connected with Movement (Direct as you can’t shoot what you can’t see, and Indirect as you can’t shoot Artillery if you move).
Range is to where you can shoot. Range has two layers, overly connected with movement. First, range determine if you can effectively land blow to the opponent, and vice versa. A Unit with a massively powerful gun that can’t put it in range or very difficultly will have little impact on the game if not positioned well since the beginning or moving. Same, knowing both your range and the range of your opponent allow you to check where you can hit it, with or without risk of retaliation. Remember: in FoW, you can always measure at any time. Here, you should consider the effective range, which includes the mobility (being out of range of a Tank that can move and shoot often you means you can be in range). Second, FoW use the important mechanism of short range (below 16’/40cm) and long range (over 16’/40cm) described earlier.
Rate of Fire (RoF) is the number of shots of your weapon. Automatic weapons (MG, AA guns…) have high rate of fire, while Manual weapons (Tank guns, Artillery…) have low rate of fire. Nothing fancy here, we are playing a somehow historical game after all. The second characteristic of RoF is it can degrade or not while moving. Here is where the trick lies: moving may grant you more effective shots (removing Long Range, negating Concealment…), but those shots are likely to be less numerous. RoF of unarmored teams (infantry, guns…) is also downgraded by being pinned down. Fun fact : being pinned down or moving gives you the same downgrade and they are not cumulative … so it’s not a bad idea to actually move (not toward the enemy that can see you) if you are pinned down to get the same damaging efficiency.
Directly connected to RoF, Anti-Tank and Firepower values determine the capacity of your shots to penetrate armor and damage armored units or units protected by cover. Remember that, on top of starting GtG, all Infantry and Gun in FoW start in bulletproof covers (meaning FP test to destroy when save is failed). You should take both in consideration while shooting at an enemy, same as with armor: sometimes you will need to shoot to kill (and thus firepower is more important), sometimes you will shoot to at least impair the target (and thus AT is more important). In both case, appreciate the actual expectancy of your shot: targeting a long range KV (Armor 9+1) with your Pak40 (AT12) is not a great choice (only 1 chance out of 6 to go for a kill, and 4 chances out of 6 to do plainly nothing). Firepower also comes in effect against infantry and guns in bulletproof cover (or behind gun shield). Small arms fire (those with firepower 5+ or 6+) are not great to deal with those targets unless very numerous. Most of the time, trading their shooting for additional movement (thanks to Dash, Cross Here, Follow Me…) is better.
Special Rules and Abilities are additional stuff your weapon can do. There are many of them and we won’t cover them all, just focus on 3 that matters for us here. Slow Firing is a significant downgrade for weapons with this keyword. We already see that moving means reducing RoF, thus reducing expectancies of hits. Slow Firing add a +1 to Hit, making hitting something very hard. Opposite to that, Stabilisers is a keyword for the American, granting some of their tanks a full RoF while moving, traded for a +1 to Hit on the move. Calculating a little bit, aggressive play from the US players may transcripts into great reward! Lastly, Smoke and Smoke Bombardment are extremely valuable (and limited) resources used to protect your troops: you don’t deal damage, but you are limiting (if not totally negating!) return fire on your troops.
So what’s the outcome of this? Fathoming both Hit and Weapons means a shot in FoW has very low expectancy to deal any damage to the target. Shooting is massively ineffective … until you learn how to pair it well with Movement.
This is what we will cover in our 2nd part, so stay tune.
Knowledge is power: share it widely!