Thursday, May 19, 2011

Going Free

by: farmpunk

With the flurry of complaints about GW price increases, and questions about GW's corproate situation, I'm once again considering a game about a topic that's held my attention since sitting and listening to my grandpa's stories about the War. World War II.

What's this got to do with the price of tea in China?

Flames of War, silly.

If Flames had been more popular back in C-U when I got started playing with Dolls, I might have actually started there. (Or with War of the Ring, had that been out, and popular yet.) Back then it was just Middle War. The models looked cool, and It seemed so like playing army men again. with rules. and dice.

I've been slowly looking at FoW for a while, and trying to find that army to light my imagination. When Blitzkreig came out, I'll admit my ears perked up.
French armor? did someone say French armor?

ooh. that could get me interested. The French had some of the most advanced tanks in the world. Until their WW1 static tactics got run over by German Mobile Armor tactics.

I also always liked the Free French. I find the story of people fighting to reclaim their country inspiring. Of course, the Free French divisions were fully American in equipment.

SandWyrm and I have talked a bit about making the jump into FoW. With the price hikes, I might look into selling off my GK's, and picking up a Flames of War force.

I'm kind of thinking American mech infantry, done with Cross 'd Lorraine

If we buy the starter set, I can use the Shermans, and SandWyrm can use the Stugs. From the North Africa stuff I can get into both Late war retaking France, and into Early war 'real' French. Mmmm Somua.

now I'll see if I can get this rolling, and start the learning curve again.

I pick up enough board games, learning FoW shouldn't be too tough.


  1. There already is a late war free French army list:

    You wouldn't have to do counts as. Of course you decide to do this after I've sold off half of my Germans.

    Hey Sandwyrm, I've got Stugs, Tigers, and PaK 40's if you need them.

  2. I'm interested in North African Germans or Americans from the European theater. But I have to learn more about the game before I plunge in. :)

  3. PaK 40s and Tigers should both be good for mid war North Africa, not sure about the STUGs though.

    FoW armies can be just expensive as 40K armies. I just re-priced a British late war armored company that I was thinking about getting before I stooped playing. It runs in the $375 dollar range for a 1500 point army. That's 3-4 tank platoons($50 each), a mech-infantry platoon($60+), and a full mobile artillery platoon($100+).

  4. @CaulynDarr

    I thought you still had your FoW... darn. rebuild?

    I saw the late war FF. I'll have to try a few games before I for sure settle there. They've got some stuff I like, but so do British artillery.

  5. I could always re-build a Panther or Tiger company, they have only 5 or 6 models in them at 1500.

  6. Most 40K armies would run at least a third higher than $375 at 1500 points.

    The real question is: How playable/balanced is FoW below 1000 points?

  7. Heard some concerns about FoW; heavy German win results at AdeptiCon highlighted as some evidence of game imbalances at the tournament level.

    Also, fluff bunnies in non-real sci-fi setting = sometimes annoying. Fluff bunnies in real world setting = DOOOOM.

  8. That can be tough to say. It depends on the era and the armies involved. Personally I think that there are some overall balance issues with FoW. Germans are just good overall, and Americans have a tough time against heavy armor builds. Bits have it slightly better because they can take Sherman Fireflies.

    It's not entirely the fault of the system, some of it is due to trying to stick to historical accuracy as much as possible. American tanks couldn't stand up to Panthers and Tigers, but they had the numbers and the air power to make up for it. In game it doesn't work out so well because it always ends up that every one of your German opponents has every operational panther in the theater in their list. It's a lot like taking Orks against land raiders, only your opponent probably has 10 or 12 land raiders instead of 3.

    It can be hard at lower points to take an infantry company against an armored one because of this. You need a mix of anti-armor, artillery, and AA in your list in FoW, and at lower points level you won't have the points to take all of them. Unlike 40K, there aren't many effective dual purpose units.

  9. @MVB I know RL fluffers are 10x worse than the sci-fi guys. Sci fi is fiction. RL fluffers don't realize this is a GAME.

    I know Adepticon was midwar, and the Germans had an upper hand mid-war. It was part of what was making me consider Brit artillery for mid war. I'll have to look at it more. Armor heavy lists seem to be tough for all games.

    I think at lower point games we might have to agree on list themes ahead of time. Part of the problem comes with historical accuracy does not always equal a good GAME.


  10. I bought and primed some FoW stuff about five years ago. I'm ashamed to say I can't even remember what they army was as I never played a single game... I think it was British infantry of some sort.

  11. :-) Yeah, a shame FoW wasn't as popular back at Valhalla/Champaign... I ended up picking up a bunch of American Airborne stuff, still have most of it, but honestly haven't played since those days... I do remember the US Artillery being "powerful" to the point that it did seem a bit unbalanced, but that's a previous edition of the rules...

  12. I have US armored that I would sell/trade.

  13. Still haven't played since we talked about FoW at adepticon SW, but the game isn't really all that expensive as long as you're not into artillery or Russians.

    My 1,500 point Fortress Europe Panzerdivision only set me back about $300 including rules and the sourcebook I needed. There's a nice boxed set where you get an AoBR style rulebook, 2 German StuGs and 3 Shermans that's a great deal.

    As far as <1000, my zero experience tells me this is prone to not work. You need to be able to field several platoons, to avoid retreating. Basically, if you lose a certain % of your force you have to start taking morale checks (don't have rulebook handy atm, so grain of salt). Small points means too few platoons, unless you're fielding an all infantry force. If you want any armor, though, keep in mind medium and heavy tanks are points intensive- a Panzer IV costs around 120 points and Tigers can run upwards of 800 points.

  14. Sandwyrm,

    If after playing a bit, you decide to go American Paratroopers with some of the add ons (M-10's) and a bunch of the books (Afrika, Rules, D minus one, etc.), I will make you an offer you can't refuse.

    Just email me when you're "in" the mood. Mail account:


  15. Oops, meant to say, the infantry has the base OD on, but no detailing. Everything else is in a blister.

  16. I know European theater is much more interesting to the core demographic of gamers, but this particular gamer would be thrilled if the **Aussie** that makes FOW also came out with official rules for Japan and/or China.

    I mean, honestly. Rules for eleventy-seven different kinds of French (= basically bit players in WW2) and nothing official for China or Japan?

    Note that if they've put out rules and I'm ignorant of the fact, I'd be thrilled.

  17. German Tigers and their Tiger Ace rules can be a problem, especially if the german player hugs the board edge out of range of your guns but you are in range of the Tiger. Also the use of the German Stormtrooper move can cause you headaches. If they make the roll then they can make an additional move at the end of their turn. This allows them to move out of cover, shoot and if they make the roll for the Stormtrooper move, move back into cover and out of your line of fire. Althought some of my fondest FOW memories are of a german player failing his Stormtrooper move roll and leaving a unit swinging in the breeze.

    Some equalizers for the Americans are Artillery, Air Power and M10 tank destroyers. Use the artillery to smoke out the Tigers. If they can't see, they can't shoot, or they will have to move and that will lower their rate of fire. Air power can hit them in the back field or where ever they move back into cover. Finally the M10's gun has an At of 12 and Tiger's frontal armor is a 9. The M10's have an Ambush specal rule that allows them to be set up hidden and be revealed later in the game. Use the Ambush rule to get close to the Tiger preferably within 16 inches. If the M10 is within 16 inches, shoots and hits, and the tiger player rolls a 1 or 2 on a D6 it penetrates, a roll of a 3 will glance and a roll of 4 or better will do nothing. On a penetrate or a glance the M10 player makes a firepowwer roll. The M10's gun has a firepower of 3+. On a successful roll for a penetrating hit the Tiger is destroyed, for the glancing hit the crew bails out.
    You have to get lucky to pop a Tiger from the front but it can be done and the hidden M10's can really make a Tiger player sweat.
    Finally there is the "Ignore the Tiger and Kill the rest of his Army" tactic. Tigers are expensive (but worth it). Keep the Tiger smoked and rip up the rest of the army.

    This may not be the best advice but I have seen all these work on the game table.

    My prefered army is Soviets and I really enjoy the game. I hope you pick it up and have some fun.

    Sorry for the Lecture.

  18. @shmi

    sure. send me an e-mail. use the contact e-mail for the site.

    @ fabulous ork

    I'd like to see pacific as well. Supposedly they'll do pacific after they finish with europa.


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