My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Random Thoughts on Flames of War

Some of the local gamers are playing a Flames of War league and this has re-ignited interest in the rules (even though I am not involved in the league). As the league games are pretty flexible, the league gamers can play me and their games count towards the league. I'm not keen on game of 1,750 points (hell, I prefer 600-750 points, truth be told), but I will play them every so often.

Rant

Don and I played a game - his first for the league - and it was an interesting battle in which I learned a lot. However, it pointed out all of the major reasons why I do not like 1,750 point games. First, it took forever to set up. Mind you, setup includes all of those preliminary battle tasks, like setting up terrain, determining attacker, determining mission, determining sides, placing objectives, and then finally placing the troops. When you have that many troops you multiply the decisions, each of which lead to other decisions, so the number of decisions to make almost seem to go up exponentially. (Not really, of course, but it seems like it.) That is what makes the game tedious to me.

I was raised on the model that a big game (table size, points, or whatever) is nothing more than a series of smaller situations strung together, with consequences of the earlier situations affecting those that come later. From the viewpoint of a battle narrative, the bigger the better, because more elements of the story are linked together. But, from a game management perspective, or simply just fun, it sometimes gets tedious and a bit unrealistic.

Lessons Learned from the Battle

Learning some lessons about the rules and what works was probably the most important aspect of the game (besides having fun). The game was between Don's Late War British 7th Armoured Division armoured squadron (the "Desert Rats") and my Panzergrenadier Lehr company. Here are the highlights of the lessons:
  • Don't end up bailed within assault range of tough enemy infantry. Don lost about seven tanks to assault, six of which were bailed out when I launched the assault.
  • Reluctant Veterans may be veteran, but they still have a hard time rallying from pinning, recovering from bailing, and making motivation checks, even if they have special rules. When a unit is hit, if they do not recover (pinning, bailing, etc.) immediately it is not likely that they will recover any better in subsequent turns unless the action moves away from them.
  • Tank Hunter teams in towns are extremely dangerous. Haul ass and bypass by more than 10" because if they get a chance to shoot and assault you, you are probably going down. (Okay, granted the odds are not that good, it just seems like you are probably going down...)
Company HQ and Combat Attachment

After any game I always re-read the rules (or at least the pertinent parts) to check what I did wrong in the previous game. There is always something to learn after the fact because there are a lot of little rules to remember.

Other than resolving a question on the procedures of assault, which caused a heated exchange between Don and I, I found out that we have been playing practically every game wrong. (Well, maybe not the Germans in most games.) Most people buy the extra teams that are available with the Company HQ. These are termed the HQ Support Weapons teams and they have very specific rules in the back of the book. The long and short of it is that most people play those teams as Independent Teams, when in reality they should be played as a leaderless platoon. This is significant because a platoon, even a leaderless one, can take, hold, and contest objectives while independent teams cannot. As Don was running a Company HQ with a CiC, 2iC, 2 CS teams, and 2 AA teams, only the first two teams, the Command teams, are independent. All of the rest are HQ Support Weapons teams and must either be combat attached or act as a single leaderless platoon.

Tank Destroyers, Cautious Movement, and Gone to Ground

This thread can from a tangential thought loosely related to the game. In the game I had a single reconnaissance platoon and basically I ran it like a regular support platoon, ignoring all of the special rules, for good or ill. Afterwards, I decided to read up on the reconnaissance rules, especially as I was getting interested in the Task Force A list from Turning Tide.

The bottom line is that I saw the Cautious Movement rule, which talks about being able to still count as Gone to Ground despite the reconnaissance team having moved. (Normally, movement means you cannot also be Gone to Ground, but Cautious Movement overrides that restriction.) Reading the fluff, that makes sense. The infantry finds some fold in the ground and crawls forward.

Then I note that US Tank Destroyers get the Cautious Movement rule too and I think: why would vehicles need an infantry-oriented rule? I read the Gone to Ground rule carefully and, despite its name, it applies to Infantry, Gun, and Tank teams! So remember, ignore the names of the rules; that is just fluff. Read the rule! (Dug In sometimes appears as Foxholes, but the rule also applies to Tank teams, so that is another example.)

As a side note, I am playing a test (solo) game using US Recon forces (the Task Force A list, to be specific) and it is very interesting. Not quite sure it is "me" yet, but it is interesting to play. Besides, it lets me use all those M8 Greyhounds and tank destroyers I purchased.

Flames of War Podcasts

I have been listening to both the Battlefront and What Would Patton Do (WWPD) podcasts and I must say they are worth the download and the listening time. I tend to like the Battlefront podcasts better, despite it being hard to understand what they are saying sometimes, because they tend to go into more explanation of their thinking. The  WWPD podcasts are certainly funnier.

Flames of War Vietnam

I've been looking at the Flames of War Vietnam items - I went out and hunted one day to find the latest issue of Wargaming Illustrated as it has a free FoWV book with it - and am sorely tempted to buy into it. My concern is that:
  1. It will end up being another AWI for me, meaning that I will have to drag others into playing it and no one else will probably buy and paint troops for it, so I would be the only one.
  2. Other people will probably not want to play the Vietnamese much, and some not at all, leaving me with playing them the majority of the time. Generally speaking that might not be a problem, as I think the NVA are very playable, it is just that I am not a Hordes Army kind of guy. (I don't play Soviets in FoW now.)
Only time will tell whether I can resist the temptation.

2 comments:

  1. Dale, c'mon, take a peak at the FOW Vietnam stuff. Some of my mates are trying to drag me in as well. Consider playing Mr Charles, you don't have to fork out all the $ for fancy tanks and choppers. I don't know about you, but my military-industrial complex spending has been cut back these days... :)

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  2. I think that is the difference between you and I. Your mates are trying to drag you into it, whereas mine are basically saying "I don't think I want to get into another period." So I would be dragging them into it. Like I do with AWI... :^/

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").