Improving at FoW part1 – theories

Hello All

I’m going to attempt something different with my next few rambling/editorials, and that is to look at improving as a player. Some of the articles will focus on a particular area, others will be more generic.

Why am I writing this series? Well next month I’ll be attending corrivalry, and a year will have elapsed since I last was there, this will be the first time I’ve attended a Fow tournament for the second time – hope that makes sense! I would like to think I’ve improved as a player over the last 12 months, and whilst some may disagree I think it’s interesting to look at what helps (besides knowing the rules!) to help improve playing.

So I’m going to start with learning theories and how a few of them (as there are lots) might be applied to FoW. 
Operant Conditioning

This is probably one of the most well known theories, where skinner described behaviour being able to be modified by reward or punishment. I think that most people will realise quickly (unless you are winner Dave) that charging your infantry from their foxholes into a hoard of tanks is bad, the return machine gun fire being the punishment. Conversely the time when you assault enemy units through smoke while pinned and receive no defensive fire is more of a reward, and you try it again. 

This is a very simple example, but it’s also very true. You do something right you keep on doing it, you do something wrong you stop doing it!

Social learning theory 

The basics of this as stated by bandura are that you learn from another person via observation, imitation and modelling.
I usually see this at tournaments where following being knocked out the defeated player heads up to the top tables and watches the game unfold. They study the manoeuvres and combinations of units, before returning home to try them against their regular opponent. 

This learning from a more knowledgable player allows the learner to try these tactics out having seen them in action. It’s a interactive form of learning which numerous you- tube clips can help those at home with.


I will start and say this is the area of my own interest so I’m a little biased.   It’s got a lot to do with vygotsky social development theory – but others areas like mindfulness and reflective practice also come into it. 

This is about discovering knowledge for yourself, I for instance know how the direct smoke rules work, but learning how to use that effectively, in which situation and why it works is very different to just knowing the rules. For this to work you’ve got to think on the ‘why’ of doing something, do be critical of the way if doing it, to experiment and to learn from yourself and from/with others. Just knowing how direct smoke works, and how you ‘should’ use it in the game are not enough to learn how to use it.

Anyway I hope this has proven of some interest (even of of no use) to you and maybe even thinking about how you get better may help you to get better at FoW. Until next time

Thanks for reading


Category: Flames of WarRambling


  1. Interesting stuff there Adam, looking forward to rest of this series. I find the challenge of improving and learning a very rewarding part of the game (probably good for keeping alzhiemers at bay too!) .
    Good luck at Corrivalry. Returning to a tournament will be a good yardstick. When you play with the same people most of the time, you all tend to improve at a similar rate so it can be hard to measure your progress. A weekend of games against a larger pool of opponents should show you where you're at.

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Article by: Mark Goddard