V4 – The king is dead, long live the king.

Having digested the new V4 LW/EW rulebook, Mark gives his take on the new version and what it means for players and the games future.

V4 LW/EW: ‘We aren’t in Kansas anymore’

Rules of Engagement

Let’s be frank; V4 has caused a lot of discussion, some anguish, some shouting and some calls for calm.  The fact that people have been vocal on either side of the fence, goes to show just how passionate we are as hobbyists and just what high regard we hold FOW in.

That being said we can’t dismiss either side of the argument.  All we can do is try the game and see for ourselves.  Until then it falls to places like Breakthrough Assault to give an objective view and hopefully this is what I will provide here.

Before we start a few ‘Rules of Engagement’.  This is my view; you may agree, you may not.  We at Breakthrough Assault have been supplied with the PDFs so we get a head start on coverage but we pride ourselves on being objective and honest we what we write about.  Secondly, people want different things from V4.  Some want to roll dice and have what I call ‘general fun games’, some want to play competitively and do tournaments or strive to play at the ETC.  Some want both.  I will try and look at V4 from the prism of both subsets.

Finally I am discussing LW/EW only.  We will cover MW separately.

The aim of V4

To discuss V4 I think we have to take a holistic approach and look at why V4 is needed.

First off V3 is a fine game, it’s grown from V2 and made a lot of logical changes.  I have loved it and the community and game system is what drives me to be writing articles (and even start contemplating a loft conversion for more modelling room!).  That said it isn’t perfect and there are balance issues.  Whether you agree with them all a sample would be;

  • Static infantry spams which aren’t fun to face and are too hard to dig out in 2:30hrs.
  • Artillery being too much of a crutch especially as an AT asset.
  • The synergy of US armour (TDs, Jumbos and E8 combos) creating a bias to some US lists (all be it tempered by the change to Patton).
  • Over reliance on auto attack armies or auto defend to mitigate risks.
  • Min maxing on units to allow forward loading in half on missions, combined with a need to be an even number of pltns.
  • The number of special rules, (just think of all the US and German rules out there).

Obviously I could go on but that’s the ones that jump into my head.  These are the ones we as a community have been quite vocal about.  So there was always going to be a need to make changes even if they are fairly tame eg V2 – V3.

Now the second factor is something we don’t always appreciate; sales.  We have reached the end of WW2.  While there is to be a compilation of the Berlin books (Late Late War) and rumours of a recce book, we are pretty much done.  That means BF needs to attract new players and mix up things so existing players buy new models by making them more desirable.  At the end of the day BF needs to sell models so I suggest that the community needs to make peace with that if we want FOW to continue.  However how they have gone about these changes is what’s important.

Some interesting changes to movement.  It seems that BF wants a more mobile game, espcially as there is no 2 shots if you dash.

The King is dead, long live the King.

I am going to be a bit controversial here and say that for me the statement above rings true.  While a lot of rules have changed, fundamentally when you dig into it, V4 is FOW.  You will fully recognise it, with a few exceptions (staff teams, multiple observers and a few others) all your LW/EW armies will be there.  This is not the same situation as Warhammer vs Age of Sigmar so let’s put that one to bed.

All the same phases are there, the process of the game is the same, but the way we fight our armies and what we may choose to put into our lists has changed.

For a casual player, I don’t think this actually matters that much.  I think from the rules a balanced fun army will still play well.  The issue will be armies that have been made to be a knife, carefully tuned to V3 to maximise the rules and advantages.  As these have been specifically tuned they will need changing.  But I’d also suggest that if you are the player that enjoys the challenge of making the ‘perfect list’ then V4 will give you a whole new set of challenges.

Measuring successful change.

Well it’s obviously too early to tell how great V4 will be when it hits the tables at all the clubs, boards and tournaments worldwide.  However let’s look at the list of issues earlier.

  • Static infantry spams which aren’t fun to face and are too hard to dig out in 2:30hrs.

Addressed by effective use of mortars and artillery due to increased FP and re-rolling saves once ranged in (all arty can have a ranged in marker).

  • Artillery being too much of a crutch especially as an AT asset.

Arty now has reduced AT (maximum is 3 for 155 sized guns).  So no longer a reliable way to kill of big cats.

  • The synergy of US armour (TDs, Jumbos and E8 combos) creating a bias to some US lists (all be it tempered by the change to Patton).

Complete overhaul of tank special rules, jumbo leads the way is now gone (you can reallocate a hit to it on a 3+) .  Smooth ride doesn’t give 2 shots with no minus to hit, it now gives a better cross value.

  • Over reliance on auto attack armies or auto defend to mitigate risks.

No auto attack or defend.  Players now offered different ways to choose attacker or defender but encouraged to use the battle plan system (ala Team Yankee). 

  • Min maxing on units to allow forward loading in half on missions, combined with a need to be an even number of pltns.

You now get 60% of your points on table in a defensive battle if defending.

  • The number of special rules, (just think of all the US and German rules out there).

Partly.  A number of rules have been removed as redundant (I mean how often were tank telephones used!).  However there are still a lot of rules and some require re-learning as there are subtle differences.

The movement orders are a port from Team Yankee.
As a fan of that game I think we will see them used to interesting tactical effect.

Winner takes it all

Given that my impression is that the sky isn’t falling with V4 let’s look at it from a prism of competitive tournament play.  Well a lot will change…..

Firstly I doubt we will see the same gun lines sitting there, you can’t afford to be full blown infantry with one mobile asset because cheap mortars are going to blow you apart.  You can’t just have a park of heavy and medium arty because it can’t kill tanks (big change there).  If you see where I am going, it’s that wonderful word…diversity.  Also and hang on for this…you cant win no retreat by just holding the objective you have to break the enemy or push them out of your table half.  Also in breakthrough and counter attack you need to have enemy within 16 inches of the objective to win as the defender.  This is fundamentally change`to list construction especially for defensive players.

For me that’s quite refreshing, I would suggest we have all been in the situation where we look across the table and think ‘oh boy i’m screwed’, well I think there will be less of that now because you will see more balanced lists.  I suppose a fair comment is that we have more of a rock paper scissors style.

  • Infantry is a good counter to infantry but dies to arty.
  • Guns are great vs tanks (with better saves even after firing) but die to artillery and infantry assaults.
  • Tanks are a jack of all trades but are now going to have a tough time squaring off against gun teams (no longer a 5+ save after shooting).
  • Big cats are now more survivable due to little risk from arty popping them (how I lost most of mine!), but are also more vulnerable to pltn morale checks.

The key point I’m making is that we as tournament players need to rethink our lists.  We need to adapt to change and relish the challenge of new lists and tactics.

One meta prediction vs Germans and Russians is AA.  The fact that both nations get cannons with their aircraft will make their AA deadly.  They keep the same AT, hit side armour but each aircraft get ROF3.  Now that priority, limited and sporadic dictate your number of aircraft (3,2,1) that means you could have up to 9 shots.  Rather tasty vs lots of targets and a very attractive option.  Unfortunately for the allies rockets and bombs have gone to AT3 so are largely relegated to anti infantry and guns (seems odd for the rockets though).  So go buy those bofors guns while they are in stock!

I will be presenting my GT plan shortly and dissecting how I think it will play in V4.

Changes to the strength of artillery will take some getting used to.  Ill take some cheap light mortars please.

It’s just a game

We aren’t all tournament players, some of us just enjoy rolling dice on a carefree Saturday afternoon (or maybe a bit of both).    For casual games I really don’t think you have to make that drastic changes to your lists.  Sure as you get more used to it lists will change slightly or you might want to try something different but you typical army will still give a game.

For those who make forces because of the rule of cool or because you like the models, V4 will perhaps mix it up and make that model play rather different.  For my example I take my calliope rocket launchers.  I really like these models, they are just cool.  However in V3 would I field them? Absolutely not.  They had FP5+ so struggled to shift infantry, they couldn’t range in and were top armoured 1 so I couldn’t have any other armour on board as an infantry company when in defence.  Also the AT was too low to use for tank hunting.

Well look at them now.  They put down a pie plate template (as they count as 4 guns firing per launcher they get a big template).  They are now FP4+ and range in therefore producing re-rolls to save to guns and infantry.  Think about it, you start pre-ranged in!  That means as the attacker you put down a pie plate on turn 1 which will really hurt.  What’s not to love?

The more detailed terrain guide should help prevent arguments mid game!

Houston we have a problem

I will admit that not everything is rosy and without concern.  I still wonder just how hard it will be to break a soviet tankovy with 10 tanks when you have to reduce it to 1 operational for a check (and units get a chance to remount before testing).

The lack of lifting GTG will make digging out veteran infantry and gun teams a real nightmare (although mitigated by mortars which are minimum FP 4+).

My biggest concern is that a lot has changed and the points haven’t.  Take the calliope example, they are awesome now and so are land mattresses.  However they haven’t gone up in points.  On the flip side 155mm arty to me seems rather redundant when if I can buy several mortar sections with FP4+ and multiple chances to deploy smoke.  I have to trust that as the meta settles down we will see that some units are better and some are worse but that it balances across the nations and lists.  I’m afraid time will tell with this.

I also have a big frown when I think of reducing a Strelkovy to 2 stands to force a morale check!

Contrary to some rumours the size of minefield and wire remain the same.

Parting shot.

As I said at the beginning all I can say is that you will form your own view of V4 when you play it.  However don’t jump to conclusions and try not to be put off by change.  At the core it is the game we love, just what is ‘hot and not’ for lists and how we construct them is quite different.

We will be looking in more depth at list creation and running down the top ‘winners and losers’ in V4 in future articles.

Having digested the books and played a game I am optimistic that 12 months from now we will be back to normal jogging, enjoying V4 LW and EW.

Stay tuned for a lot more to come.

10 thoughts on “V4 – The king is dead, long live the king.

  1. One winner of V4 will be 9. Armee and 12. Armee Grenadierkompanie. You can take two units of FK40 and two units of Pak50. So you have for rather small points 8×2 AT10 and 12×2 AT12 shots per round + ability to lay down 4 templates with AT4+. I am looking forward how you can add mobile options to this list.


    1. But how will you deal with infantry? Plus those guns will start to die to mortars very fast, especially when bunched together (6 inch command range)and now you can place the template where you want.

      Still 6 pak40s is very nice but I am not sure going all out guns is the way to go. My impression is v4 will favour combined arms.

  2. Excellent review….the guys here in Pittsburgh have adopted a “wait and see” attitude as there’s so much rumor out there passed as fact. As the old proverb says “may you live in interesting times”!

  3. Awesome look Mark, the objectiveness is really appreciated. Excited to see how my 12. Volksgrenadier and their 6 NW42s run!

  4. I have a fear that Infantry will be much too dominant with the new rules. I see little reason for designing a force to attack, and far too many to just lay down a strelk blob on an objective and get drunk while your opponent thrashes around impotently trying to kill it to the last man.

  5. except that there is no auto win in mobile battles, so if you do that you’ll both lose. Camper armies now only auto win in Defensive battles, so less “powerful” now in terms of “winning”, though you have a point about how difficult a large streak force will be to batter into submission

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