FOW Stocktake & V5 gazing


Breakthrough Assault has no insider knowledge about a V5 or even if it is under development. The discussion below is just food for thought on how I think the game could develop to meet sone of the points of view in the recent FoW Survey and on our ‘Eyes and Ears’ YouTube panel discussion. Mark.

Flames of War is currently in its 4th rules iteration, with V4 now approaching its 6th birthday (yup that’s right MW arrived in 2017). As we I write this we have reached the end of the MW V4 journey and are wrapping up the war with the second Berlin book in LW. While some talk of Late War Leviathans has come out of BF in their video chats, if it is anything like MW Monsters it’s somewhat niche and a little controversial to some players who see it beyond the scope of WW2 and the game as a whole. Therefore based on the BF year ahead video by Apr 23 we, the Flames of War player base, have little new to look forward to! (Although BF could surprise us). So where could we go next and how could the game evolve?

Back to the Future

V4 was a systemic shift in FOW, streamlining the game, focusing the range of models on products and moving the extensive historic army list system to a more generic formation structure backed by command cards. At the same time, it changed the game’s point system from base 1000 to 100 and the typical size of a game from ~1500-1750 to 100pts.

Personally, I find the actual V4 gameplay much more fun and straightforward than V3 (fewer GOTCHA moments), but wrapped in a more complex and yet somewhat shallower list structure/selection which has diluted the ‘flavour’ and variety of many previous lists.

V4 had an arguably had a troubled start to life. Starting with MW it arrived with a very limited German and British book alongside a conversion book to tide over Early War and Late War players (often referred to as V3.5). V4 did land with a shock and with hindsight, BF did apologise for the way some things were handled. Tempers frayed on the Battlefront forums, Facebook and in games clubs and garages the length and breadth of this blue dot that we call Earth. However time calmed the waters.

There has always been a strong perception that V4 was shepherded into existence accompanied by a mass exodus of players. However arguably it doesn’t differ from any major paradigm shift in the tabletop wargaming world. We saw players and friends who had been in FOW for years up and leaving, the UK event scene was slashed from regular events of 80-120 to the now upper bound of ~35 (UK nationals). The same is reflected around the world and things looked worrying. However, the loyalty to the game remained and as more books arrived for MW, and LW dropped, lessons were learnt and V4 started to bed in.

While many players left, and many strong FOW gaming groups ceased to exist (e.g. Reluctant Conscripts) the new launch and beginner-friendly approach did lead to much-needed new blood and we still see this at events now. From a perspective beyond the list building/army books I rarely find myself missing V3.

Where are we now

The last 5 1/2 years or so have seen a huge number of releases/re-releases. 9 MW books along with small supplements for paras and axis allies alongside 13 LW books (and the German 21st Pz Div supplement). With this, we now have an extensive range of plastic vehicles and BF seems to have finally settled on a suitable material for their plastic infantry since moving away from hard plastic.

This is a lot of content for any games company, and despite what some people think BF isn’t that big and doesn’t have a huge design studio (I am constantly surprised that some people think they have GW-level resources). BF have driven V4 and delivered constant content.

That said as players I think we are in a frustrating situation where what was meant to be a slimmed-down range has morphed into something bigger and access to models can be challenging. For instance, some MW items are very hard to come by (if at all), as is some of the earlier LW stuff. Many of the command card items are direct orders (without a stock tracking system) and come with a very high delivery cost (~£8 in the UK) that can make smaller items prohibitively expensive.

How many PZ4 boxes do we need?

Speaking to a few stockists they all get frustrated that some units have multiple boxes. For instance, you can buy PZIVs across various codes/boxes with the only difference being decals and unit cards (removed from newer boxes, so perhaps some streamlining is coming?) Perhaps going forward we just need a Sherman box and a Panzer IV box which contains all relevant decals?

At the time of writing, we were preparing articles for the Berlin Book embargo and some discussions at the recent Corrivarly event sparked my inspiration for this article. Over a curry one evening people started commenting that they were concerned about the medium term for FOW. The 2023 BF video highlighted the Berlin books but with Berlin: Germany dropping in Apr 2023, we are now left with an unclear future. The fact that LW Leviathans has been mentioned by BF implies something more is coming but we are moving into the world of ‘what if’ akin to MW monsters and Ram tanks. In fact, since starting to write this article, at Adepticon we saw the Maus on the show so we are definitely going into the what if/unhistorical WW2 area.

In happier news, BF has mentioned MW Pacific coming and that should be interesting. This has always been somewhat intriguing from a product POV. There was a lot of noise in V3 about people wanting the Pacific theatre but then the impression is that beyond the initial release, it didn’t do very well. The thing is Pacific is more niche than ETO however I hope it gets expanded to include British and Commonwealth troops and it is designed and balanced to work with the wider MW range in open play. I must admit I am excited to get the Japanese out again though!

Of course, the elephant in the room is no apparent schedule about EW. 6yrs into V4 and we still don’t have the first few years of WW2, an area ripe for BF to expand into and rich with history and flavour. Below is how I think EW could become something great and lead to a new evolution of FOW for an update to the next iteration, let’s call it V5 for the purpose of this article.

The future

We have discussed where we are and now I want to lay down a few thoughts on where FOW could go especially in regard to a V5. This is a personal opinion, however, one that considers the results of last year’s big FOW player survey (ie what do people want) as well lots of talks and in-depth discussions with players from around the world.

V5 General: I would suggest that V5 doesn’t need to be the revolution that was V3-V4 but rather an evolution as BF takes the best of V4 and learns from the experience of their over 20 years of FOW. Broadly keep the gameplay of V4, that faster, streamlined game that was the antidote to the ‘sit-in-grad’ of V3 and tweaks in a few areas to enhance depth and balance attack and defend:

Add a downside to dashing. Make it a real choice to get somewhere fast. While in V3 units that dashed saw anything shot at them double their ROF, I would suggest any unit that dashes gets a -1 to its hit value (ie cautious becomes 3+). This is because a dashing unit isn’t being cautious and hugging the ground, carefully advancing and an aggressive unit dashing is pretty reckless. Perhaps reckless (2+ to hit) allows the enemy to re-roll misses? Perhaps they are already reckless so remain 2+?

Bring back ‘eyes and ears’. This allowed the recce to lift ‘gone to ground’ on a skill check. I would suggest that a recce unit can have 1 attempt on a skill check but that means the whole unit can do nothing else. Only a unit with ‘Scout’ could carry out this order. The spotted unit would not be gone to ground for the remainder of its opponent’s turn.

Fix night attack. At the moment a few forces have the night attack rule (and soon to be Berlin IR panthers) and notably the British Infantry. However, let’s be honest, you don’t see night attack used. This is because only your core units can move out of their deployment zone. That means broadly, you get no tanks, no AT and normally just a couple of infantry platoons to go forward. It just doesn’t work out well and that’s why you don’t see it utilised (beyond beer and pretzel play). In V3 night attacks happened all the time, British infantry and night attack was something to be feared and it was always tense as to when the sun would come up. Would you be caught with your pants down in no-mans land? The key reason it was used was that all units could move out of the deployment zone. Bring that back in V5 and just stop units dashing at night. Equally if an opponent thinks they will be night attacked and don’t want to be , they just choose attack and the missions matrix means you won’t need to worry about it.

Quantity over quality: Large units in V4 are able to take 8 instead of 5 hits in the defensive fire before their assault fails. Similar to V3 however much harder to achieve. The key difference is that in V3 it was based on unit size whereas in V4 it’s based on how many teams you assault with. Sorry, but you just don’t see 12 units making contact in an assault! Drop it to 10 and make it 10 stands within command distance.

V4 allows stands of infantry and single tanks to go swanning off on their own, just suffering a -1 to hit when out of command. Let’s remove that. If you don’t start the turn-in command then you can’t move unless it’s towards your unit leader.

V5 Army Construction: V4 was meant to make army construction simple. Pick a formation(s) and a supporting diagram then pick from that book’s Command Cards. Easy eh? Well no because it’s become chaotic. It’s like a WW2 and friends love in with historic aspect often thrown out of the window and no hard choices. For example, in V3 you could take the Brigade Reluctant Confident Panthers. The downside was that it had very limited support. In V4 you can take a whole herd of Finnish T26s to give you cheap anti-spam and assault tanks.

Do your Soviets lack smoke, no worries take a Romanian Formation. Feel the need for French Resistance no problem just call it a name in only DDay force and fill it with Comets and then have the French fight as partisans. The list is endless. The FOW Army building in V3 was a perfect blend of history and choice. Armies had their own special rules baked in, often to mitigate the lack of certain units/choices. You didn’t need multiple formations and didn’t see the same flying circuses of recce and light tank spam. So what should we do?

Firstly go back to 1500pts as a standard game. Based on 5pt increments this gives 3x the fidelity of points in list construction. This overcomes a lot of rounding issues that have created odd situations on 100pts (especially on upgrades). For instance, the fact that it costs the same to upgrade an aggressive Sherman to a 76mm AT13 E8 as a cautious one just isn’t right. It’s a symptom of 100pts. The idea that historic gamers will be put off by counting to 1500pts rather than 100pts (especially when Forces of War is the go-to tool) is just not creditable. I mean 40K players manage it and just look at those guys (and gals) 🙂

I suggest going back to the V3 style of list construction. Ie set formations with their own unique support choices and where needed special rules. Just like on V3, you can have multiple divisions represented with different ratings. Remove multiple formations, they just aren’t needed.

Also consider getting rid of command cards. Let’s face it the majority of cards are never fairly useless and never get seen on the table. Bring the formations and units into the book (or add them as digital forces of war formations), and roll formation special rules into the formations themselves. Eg have the Damned Engineers as an actual formation in Bulge (just like V3). As for equipment like RPGs for Soviets just have them as an upgrade in the book and have a special rules section. What we don’t need is a load of overpriced abilities that are never seen on the table that allow you to re-roll a firepower test from your HQ tank on the second Sunday of lent when your opponent is wearing beige trousers.

V5 Match-Ups: As V4 has developed the expanded mission matrix and stances have become the default way to play games. However, this isn’t actually written anywhere. We have different ways to select missions (dice off, mission matrix, expanded mission matrix). Let’s make it clear the way the game is to be played and have that clearly presented in the V5 book (regardless of what it is).

While the Stance system is quite interesting, empirical data shows that if you want to attack, it gives you the most chance of winning in V4. There is very little reason to go to Manoeuvre. There I propose you just drop it. If you go back to the V3 system and if limited to a single formation (worked for almost 15 years of FOW!) you can define an army as infantry, mech or tank. This can then be used to decide who is attacking. Eg. a Tank force attacks infantry (unless your inf force has the option to opt for night attack in which case it is a dice off).

V3 had auto-attack and auto-defend forces. Ie an auto-attack tank company would always attack another tank company. I would bring this back but their use would be much rarer and thematic. Eg Damned Engineers with all their expensive mines, barbed wire and booby traps would be auto defend. The whole point of them (and the 10pts they pay) is to defend. Therefore let them defend! At the moment if you pair against damned engineers you just pick defend so that you have the same stance on the mission matrix negating their special abilities.

Actually make NIght Panthers night attack useful.

The How

Rolling out a V5, especially with the fundamental change to army structure and points is tricky. You need to bring players with you, but, at the end of the day, you are invalidating books. Well I have a cunning plan for that….EW

EW has not been updated in V4 so there are no books to invalidate. Therefore roll out V5 with EW, and new 1500pts lists, attack and defend tweaks and new core rule changes. MW and LW continue with the 100pt system with existing books but with the new core rules only. Then when EW is settled you go to MW and re-release the books (or even easier go with Theatre compilations) with the new points and structures. Same with LW. By doing it in this order you acknowledge that the BF studio has a finite capacity, bring back EW and by the time you get to MW the books have been out for approx 7-8 years so it’s hard to complain that they are being invalidated.

Also as you release the new books for MW you re-attack the stock situation consolidating multiple codes into single boxes/blisters. Ie 1 x Sherman box to rule them all.

let’s just have 1 box for Shermans.


V4 was a massive revolution for FOW and arguably achieved its main objective of making the game fast, simpler and more accessible on the table. While the handling of the change drove off large portions of the FOW community we have seen some new blood, although I think it’s fair to say the event and club scene never fully recovered. BF now have the opportunity to build on the rule successes of V4 while integrating the best aspects of V3 and undoing where V4 has arguably failed (lists and match-ups). EW is a fine vessel to roll these changes out on before revisiting MW and LW with a new direction and historic focus.

Time will tell, but without change, MW and LW are going to very rapidly ‘stale’ now that they are done (outside of MW Pacific and maybe some LW fantasy units).

25 thoughts on “FOW Stocktake & V5 gazing

  1. Interesting views all round, lots I agree with and bits I don’t. Personally for example, I don’t think Dashing needs any changes. It opened the game up beyond the slow gameplay that V2/3 could often have. You already can’t shoot, assault, contest objectives so that strikes me as enough. I completely agree on Eyes and Ears though. I love the Spearhead mechanic and would love to see that continue, but Eyes and Ears felt such a key part of having recon in the previous editions. It would also help justify an increase in points for Armoured Car companies so as to help the spam factor those lists can have.

    I wonder if in future with list making there could be two ways of playing that TOs could easily choose. ‘Casual/Tournament’ play where the existing system of being able to take allied formations, units, non-historical units continues. Or a ‘Historical’ play where you’re limited to allies and support for the theatre you’re playing in. I’m sure many would choose the latter over the former for their events, but I think there’s a world where we could have both especially with some of the more casual players we get being introduced to the game.

    Though to be honest, I’m in no rush for a V5. It took a long time for us to rebuild communities for the game after the divisive V4 launch and you can’t go a week still without someone mentioning how they loved V3 more. Despite its oddities, V4 is the most enjoyable version of the game I’ve played thus far and has been really easy to get new players on board with.

    1. Great point Chris. I think the issues that V4 have can be amended quite easily with a supplement/erratas/tournament packs or even just within your local gaming group. Overall V4 is in a great place and in no dire rush to bring out a new edition imo.

  2. Some good points here but others aren’t realistic imo.

    Eyes and Ears can come back as a order that only units with scout can do.

    There needs to be a generic command card deck that all nations can pull from, that will contain things like “lucky” and “reroll a reserves die” etc

    There needs to be a refocus on national specific cards and a repointing effort. It’s not that many are useless, it’s that they are vastly over pointed so as to be totally worthless.

    Generic boxes for one type of tank is also a good idea.

    As for having EW use a 1500pt scale where as the rest of war uses 100pt, thats madness imo. I think BF are already pushing their luck having some people buy the Normandy books 3? Times already. Having them go back to what would be regarded as “V3” points whilst charging again for books/cards wouldn’t go down well imo.

    1. Scott bear in mind by the time EW is done and Mw relaunched with 1500pts Lw books would not be new by any sense.

      1. Just played a night game with new Berlin Germans. I was defending with American rifles.
        It’s tough even with IR for the Axis. Yes they see 32 inches, but still 7 or 8 to hit me. Plus when fired I can just fire back!
        I would like to see “target buildings” be a thing so infantry don’t just hide in a French cafe made of titanium.
        Command cards are rubbish. Get rid pronto. (My friends group moved to team Yankee just to get away from cards )

  3. Honestly if all this happened I’d be pleased as punch, great article Mark

  4. I really like V4, having played since V2. The pros out weight the cons for me, much more than V3. For me, I do agree with some of the points you mentioned in regards to Eyes and Ears, dashing, individual teams.

    Some critique of the list building is on point in regards to it’s flexibility makes ludicrous combos. So more restrictions on ‘regiment’ support unique to that formation and more limited divisional and allies would be good. That some V3 army builds were cheesy and broken, combos of army rules with auto defending were boring. Comm cards for me are a nice supplement. And the 100 points is refreshing and easy to sort for reserves. There could be more nuance in the ‘BF algorithm’ for pointing for models units but not beyond scope in 100 system. Further the mission matrix few tweaks on bringing back tank, mech, inft system but not auto Def or Att.
    Agree I’d like V5 to be an evolution not revolution but for me I don’t want too much influence of V3. I fear it would bring back a stalement situation again.
    Great article Mark and discussion for the future.

  5. As someone who flirted with the idea of getting into Flames Of War during the V3 era, and was then put off by the changes to V4, there is a lot I could say about what changes Battlefront could do to get me on board with a V5 release – enough to fill a blog entry in its own right.

    What I want to touch on though is the army construction rules. I agree that the 100 point scale is largely a mistake (WWIII suffers even more from it in my eyes), but rather than simply returning to the V3 1500 point scale, the solution I would like to see is even more radical – I would like to get rid of points costs altogether.

    Hear me out here.

    I get why Warhammer 40,000 has point costs. Warhammer 40,000 has points costs because it’s a science fiction game set in a sandbox world where there is no real prescribed structure across armies and players are encouraged to run wild with creativity when constructing their legions of metal space men. No one can say exactly what a Tau hunter cadre or Tyranid swarm or Eldar Swordwind is exactly comprised of, and that is by design, so you need some other lingua franca to make sure all the armies stay evenly matched relative to one another.

    But Flames of War? Flames of War is a different animal entirely. Flames of War is rooted in non-fictional history, so it has reams and reams of information about how the armies in it are actually put together. No one has any idea on the exact structure of a Tau hunter cadre, but they sure as hell have an idea on the exact structure of a British Paratrooper Company or a Soviet Tank Battalion because there are books and books worth of information explaining precisely that.

    You can see this in the very prescriptive army formations that Flames of War (and WWIII) has, and honestly… that actually looks like a perfectly good army construction system right there on its own. I’m happy with those formation structures just being What You See Is What You Get army lists. That right there is already a perfectly serviceable and robust army construction system.

    Now, there is of course the question of those who enjoy making strategic choices about what to put on the table, but honestly Flames Of War already has a brilliant answer for that built in too – Reserves. Simply make it so that, say, a third of the army (remember, in this hypothetical that is a complete filled out WYSIWYG formation) has to go into Reserves or Deep Reserves or whatever, and you can still keep that element of decision making about what starts on the table – the difference here is that instead of deciding what goes into the army at all, you’re not deciding what order the stuff in the army reaches the table. This also has the added advantage of being a lot closer to how reserve units work in real life too.

    Next to that, all these points costs and scales just feel unnecessary to me. They feel like a layer of needless math that just exists because 40k does it. After all, I have it on good authority that plenty of other historical wargames get on just fine without points costs.

    And when you move past the knee-jerk instincts around this concept, it honestly has a lot of benefits. With a whole layer of variables removed, the game becomes a lot easier for the designers to balance – if you’re balancing the game so that T-34s fight in a Battalion of companies, then don’t beat around the bush with points costs and just GIVE ME a Battalion of T-34s. And with fewer variables and easier balance, tournament and competitive players get tighter and more even matches.

    On the other hand, at higher levels of play narrative players can stop worrying about points values and just play historically structured forces, and players in general can stop worrying about what toys to include in their armies and instead have fun trying to figure out what to do with all those toys on the tabletop.

    So if the thinkers at Battlefront are cooking up a V5 Flames Of War edition, the best thing they could do to get me invested is to ditch points values entirely. Make games in 4 levels – Platoon, Company, Battalion and Regiment+, and then just give players WYSWYG formations for each game size based on the historical organisations, and put out some different formation options with different base stat lines for the units and such so that all the countries have a variety of those WYSIWYG formations each with different playstyles. Then add a fixed number of slots for out-of-formation support stuff like air raids and things, and make Reserves a base portion of the army – something like a third or a half – that players can allocate how they see fit.

    Do that, and I might just start up Flames Of War after all.

    Oh, and start the game cycle with the Pacific theatre too, just to really shake things up.

  6. The One box for Sherman Idea is not really feasible.
    The thing I love about the Sherman is that there’s a huge number of variants, but you have to be an extreme nerd to notice the details.

    As I understand it there are 6 main plastic Sherman Hull sprues now. Each of which is kind of unique in what it can be used by, historically) In addition, there’s the M4A1 late upgrade sprue with large hatch hull and 76mm turret.

    Variant Historical WW2 Users* Battlefront box stock codes
    M4A1 Small Hatch (USA Mid, UK Mid, USA Late, UK Late) (BBX42, UBX55, UBX69 (with upgrade sprues))
    M4A2 Large Hatch (USSR, Late) (SBX84)
    M4A3 Large Hatch (USA, Late) (UBX88)
    M4A3 Jumbo (USA, Late) (UBX92)
    M4A3 Easy-Eight (USA, Late) (UBX90)
    M4A4 / Firefly (UK Mid. UK Late) (BBX60)

    For nearly all of these, the only common part is the lower hull, and tracks and that’s not even the case for A4.

    So really, the only rationalisation you could do is a single M4A1 (Sherman II) kit that’s basically UBX69 and mark it as US/UK Mid/Late.

    It’s possible that, if BF were doing it again from scratch, they could take a more modular approach similar to how Rubicon Models have broken down their sherman kits (coimmon lower hull sprue (seperate A4 chassis), Common 75mm turret sprue, Common 76mm turret sprue, interchangeable rear plates, upper hulls and transmission covers) and then mix and match in each kit, otherwise you get a load of wasted plastic in each sprue, but being where we are, all the sherman kits kind of make sense and need to exist (apart from the Jumbo, which should be a single-spure kit building one, as no-one needs 4).

    *Yeah, there’s always exceptions….

  7. I like all the points made. The multiple formations and allies is why i dont play in tournaments. I would like to see some sort of defensive fire. Having an enemy just “dash” across mt front while i sit there just doesnt sit well they would get fired on. If the dash penalty is what fixes it then so be it.

  8. Mark I like alot of what you say. I am a new player (started last summer) so I have no frame of reference when people complain about V3/V4 transition. Here are my points
    Vehicle Types/Versions: I do think there needs to be a few different versions of the sherman for example due to the different hull and gun configurations. They could for Early/MW US do the UBX69 (with upgrade sprues) to cover all Early/Midwar US versions. Brits would still need their own kit as the hulls are different. Im not a rivet counter, but I do like the difference between the different version.
    The M4A3 LW covers the 75/76/105/Xylophone so there doesnt need to be 3 to 4 different boxes. The Easy 8 is its own animal, and so is the Jumbo. I was disappointed that I could not run a Jumbo Plt when I first bought the kit, but having read how they were historically employed im now ok with it, I can run a upgraded jumbo with each of my regular Sherman platoons.

    Spam Lists: Im more of a historical gamer, so I dont run a spammy list of Armored cars or some of the other stuff that is the norm for large tournaments (Ive only played in small tournaments at my LGS). I like the historical lists that are closer to what was really used so I like Chris Prouts Idea.

    It is being mentioned that LW is over and so is MW, but there really has been no focus on Italy which sits in the middle of both. Yes I can pick a fairly Generic Fortress Europe list, or go above to DDay, or below with an Africa based list. But It should have its own book. Having seen pictures of
    the Amazing Terrain that Mike Everest made for it has totally bitten me with the Italian Campaign Bug, especially since my US infantry is painted and focused on the T-patchers of the 36th Infantry Division (there needs to be a command card for them) Italy is fitting.

    Keep up the great work with the Articles

  9. I’m one of the old V1 2 3 players who dropped out when V 4 came out, but V 5 could bring me back.

  10. I feel that there needs to be a middle ground in list building. V3 was absurd in terms of trying to figure out what you wanted to play. Even as a historian it was a pain trying to find what Sherman company I was running. In terms of balancing, it may seem at face value it will be easier to balance if support options are locked in, but it becomes horrible development wise. Someone shouldn’t have to have a degree in history to figure out exactly what units were where and what they were deployed with. In addition it was a MASSIVE financial hurdle to get into v3 for the lists looking at the compilation books. If I recall, it was almost 80 bucks for the D-Day compilation and 30-40 bucks for the others. More formations detailed out = larger books.

    Command Card wise this is something you could do similar to v3. All the modification options? (Think 3rd Armored for Bulge American) just make multiple columns with soft stats on the upper portion of the list. (Like v3 did for different quality troops that were kitted the same) gets rid of the command card issue and opens up the capability to take division specific support costs.

  11. Excellent article!

    As gamers, I feel that we need to accept that V5 is inevitable, so I like the idea of engaging conversation early..

    Command cards need a complete and total overhaul. I appreciate the thematic approach that is behind them, but rarely do I see “upgraded” cards in play, and almost universally see “downgraded” cards in play. I think Battlefront recognizes the overarching issue within command cards since they don’t exist in Team Yankee. If I were a project lead, I’d start by tossing all of the point refund cards into the scrap heap and revisit Command Cards as an avenue for warriors and end of list point fillers (like Lucky).

    Army construction is also something that needs to be addressed. I don’t think it’s as simple as a factor of 15 (100 pts vs 1500 points) but something deeper. Personally, I’d look at the “HQ plus Two” method. It’s classic “wargame”. HQ + two is not the same when comparing a recce diagram vs a heavy tank diagram. I don’t think any of us are implying they are equal, but the rules of the game make us build them equally. It might be “too revolutionary”, but I’d rather see an army construction that moves away from this, and is taken on a diagram by diagram basis would help some of the underlying issues. Another issue embedded within army construction that could be addressed is the interaction between “breaking point” and unit size. In tank/gun units, units of one are preferred to units of two. I can’t imagine a scenario where any battlefield commander would prefer ONE of an item when they can have two. Likewise, there’s a difference between a unit of 25 stands of conscript infantry suffering 23 stands of casualties before breaking, but a 5 stand unit of elites breaking after suffering 3 stands of losses.

    Unrelated to V5, the missions matrix needs some work. With things as they currently stand (presented by recent BTA analysis) , attack seems to be the favored stance for victory, leading to many attack v attack mission missions. I know that BF should be agnostic towards the tournament scene, but this to me stands out as a problem. I wasn’t around for the “sitzkrieg” of v3, but if I was, I would have found this equally problematic. What, if anything, is causing the skewed data, and what, if anything, can be done to regress toward the mean? Players adapt to meta. The missions should also.

    Also unrelated to V5, the SKU concerns are valid. I agree that there likely is no way to have one Sherman SKU, but there’s there are definitely too many of them. They have gotten much better in the first days of V4 when much of the Iron Cross boxes were simply reprints of the Afrika Corps boxes.

  12. I’ve been this since the end of V2/beginning of V3 (2006). In the time V3 ran, we had 18 regular gamers. As one of 2 main organizers, I pushed V4 when it came out (despite my own disappointment). Within 1 year, there were 4 of us left. After 3 years, I was the last man standing. All the V4 complaints were the same. All the generic stuff was a major complaint, no more this, no more that. To this day I feel the switch to 100 pt from 1500 pt was a major mistake. You just can’t differentiate things between vehicles or even other units on that point scale. Unusable models from V3 was and still is something that is BS. As mentioned earlier, so many of the unit special rules for particular units were gone. I used to play Pioneers about 30% of the time. They had “built in” AT4 because my German pioneers were trained in the use of magnetic mines, teller mines and grenade bundles. BF even made figures with them. And panzerknackers weren’t “One turn only”. It’s not all complaints. The bright spot has been slimmed down rules changes. I’ve said repeatedly I wish BF had kept the entire V3 format and just added in the better rules changes. I’m 70 years old and have beaten 2 different cancers in the last 2 years. I just wish we would return to what worked well. I probably won’t live to see it, despite my 17 years of loyalty, helping to build this hobby. As for EW, it’s about 20-25% of my collection and still collecting dust like all my unusable models from MW and LW.

  13. I’d go for a v5 if battlefront will accept my vast collection of v4 books, unit and command cards in part exchange for v5 equivalents. Changing game dynamics is one thing, fleecing the customer, again, is not on.

    1. I think fleecing is rather harsh. The books are good value and last years. Many game systems update books on a cycle. BF as a historic game producer can’t invent new space elves or marine they have to re-release l, tweak and hone their existing range and rules.

    2. That’s wargaming pal, Battlefront are great in that the books have a lifespan of 5years+

      Gamesworkshop games you’re lucky to get a year or two out of a book

  14. Excellent article, the points granularity, the lack of list flavour, semi useless scouts, using EW as a jump off point, yes I have to agree with all points made here. One can only hope bf will heed this

  15. I’d change the morale system as follows:

    Link it to the saves – so a Fearless unit saves on a 3+ and a Reluctant one on a 5+. Guns save on 1 point worse, so a Reluctant gun team saves on a 6.
    Each formation has a break point equal to the number of units it has. A destroyed unit is worth 2 points of demoralisation, a unit below half strength is worth one. When the formation’s demoralisation reaches the break point, they are removed from the board.
    No dice rolls needed.

    I like the idea of using EW as a test bed, but that could cause problems when there are 2 systems for different parts of WW2.
    So test it in the Korean war (it should be cheap for them to do as a lot of LW models could be used, eg Russian and US infantry, Centurions).
    Or how about the Spanish Civil War?

  16. Interesting thoughts. Like others i agree with some. I would like v5 to be a long way off. An updated v4 would be ok with a few tweaks but don’t complicate things and if its a small update just call it an update, not v5. The relatively simple rules we have still create a game with great depth. I particularly love the twists and turns of fortune that we get in this game.

    Like you i am definitely looking forward to early war, but somehow pacific just doesn’t float my boat.

    Consolidation of skus should suit everyone of course so that sounds great to me.

    It’s interesting you mention missions as i think the missions are fantastic, they make this game special. I’d love to see them further expanded not just the missions pack ones but the situational ones. By situations i mean things like the d day ones, with special rules for setting up and running the game. What about others to increase the historical options? I’m sure the desert could have a whole range of them, not to mention other amphibious operations beyond d day.

    Most importantly it’s a great game and long may it continue

  17. Dear Mark,
    Congrats, great article. I definitely agree with most of suggestions proposed.
    I agree with eyes and ears which actually is the main task of a recce unit. It could be a tactics order as mentioned. I agree with the penalty of the dash movement. A crazy team speeding in the battlefield is drawing all enemy teams’ attention. I agree also with match ups. Some types of army lists have to be defensive only. I wish to point out also about aircraft. In TY, aircraft fired with a/a guns (either dedicated or self defence), save on +5 which I could say tricky to escape. In FoW the aircraft save on +3. How many chances are for a fast Jet to escape the a/a gun fire which actual mission is not to shoot down the aircraft but to obstruct its’ mission, than a WWII propeller aircraft?
    EW definitely should be revised. There are nations that perform completely adverse of history. German tanks have been very expensive in points for what they could achieve compared to French and British tanks which actually have been the rulers. Historically the German panzers had made the difference.
    Thanks again for your article.

  18. Enjoyed the article. Liked the viewpoints. And while I haven’t played since V2, I did start early in V3 and I have been playing wargames since the ’60s.

    V4 feels like its all generic for most armies to me. And the Spam, oh my! V3 had lots of problems I agree. However, it had some good points and some great points!
    First of all, one of the really hard problems it had was all the special rules for various armies. I know some of that was for game play, such as most of the Japanese rules, since otherwise, they would suck really badly, but others just made the game harder then it needed to be. V4 removed those problems. Of course other problems came up, but most of those were for the most part simple and were or could be fixed.
    So, lets take the best thing out of V3. Which in my view is the lists. BF had put a huge amount of time and money into its books and the lists. The game was set up for a company to face another company. And that company that you used could first draw from battalion level assets and then from Regiment next and after that Division and higher. Depending on what the higher levels had to give you! True you had to take at least an HQ and two platoons first then everything else. However, it worked! You didn’t see 40+ M3 Stuarts out of 2-3 companies charging an Italian Infantry company or a couple of regular German Infantry companies attacking a British infantry company. You have with V4! V3 lists worked quite well and gave a real feel for various units. So, bring that back. As for points. Go back to the 1,000-1,500 points instead of the 100 points lists. You shouldn’t pay the same amount for 3 light weight German armored cars as you pay for 2 Puma armored cars. Yet you can and do. Along with a bunch of the same things in each army. At higher value units, the 100 points sort of work, however, at lower value units the points don’t work. I mean a Sherman can equal a T-34, can equal a PZ-4, can equal a Cromwell in points while a IS-2 can equal a Tiger 1. Same crews and all. But, a M8 Greyhound equal a Puma? Get real! Yet the points don’t really do justice to those units/equipment.
    And only allow one formation per player. That will take care of just about all spam!
    Special rules
    Eyes and ears need to come back. That makes Scout worth while. There are some others that might need to come back right now, but each one would have to be looked at and checked if it really helps game play or just that someone wants their edge back.
    As for morale, it works fairly well and if it changed, it just makes the game harder for no real betterment. Yeah it sort of sucks when you see a unit of 22 Russian stands of infantry charging across open ground at you and you can’t stop them, but for all you know there is a NKVD unit just of table ready to shot each and every man in that unit if they break. So, they have the choice of having the Germans maybe kill or wound each of them or you just might win or have the NKVD kill each one. I know which one I’ll pick!
    I do agree with starting it all out with Early War. It would work and by the time Early War is complete, all the mid-War books would be ready to be rewritten and then go onto Late-War once Mid-War is done! I think that would work.

  19. Rather than going to a 1500 point system go to a 1000point system and it will give you 10 times the granularity which would go a long way to more balanced points especially upgrades. At this point someone needs to make a command card to upgrade Scout units to give them eyes and ears…If you want it, you pay a point for it. Limiting support especially allied support would be beneficial. I would suggest support being limited to a percentage of the total force. For example: 75% of force must come from formation/s and the balance can be support.

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