Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Team Yankee: The Rules

By CaulynDarr

By Igor Dvurekov ( [GFDL 1.2 (, GFDL 1.2 ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

I've been waiting for Flames of War Modern since I started playing Flames of War, and finally it's here.  Well, the rules and Americans at least.  The Russians won't arrive till this weekend due to manufacturing delays.  Here's my impressions from a first reading of the rule book.

It's Mostly Flames of War, Mostly

It's chewy core is still Flames, but the crusty outside has been stripped and reapplied.  The basics of moving, shooting, armor saves, and assaults is, with only subtle differences, 3rd Edition Flames of War.  Most changes of the rules look to reward more maneuver on the table and keep the players from being bogged down in extraneous calculations.  Flames is a pretty abstract game for a historical, but it can still get slowed by a lot of the enforced realism.  Team Yankee pre-calculates most of the tedium from 3rd ed for you and slaps them onto slick new unit cards.  

What used to be a combination of detailed core rules, plus nation rules, plus army rules, plus unit rules has been reduced to just target die rolls on a unit card. In vanilla if a tank had some special transmission, they would create a whole rule for it saying it gave a +1 to bog checks and +1 inches of movement on roads or some such. The Team Yankee way is to not bother with the special rule and just increase the units printed movement and cross check roll.  It's simpler to read and actually allows for more customization when creating units. 

For instance in vanilla Flames, you had several ways to shoot a tank.  Full RoF on the main gun plus 1 for each MG.  Full RoF on 1 MG and plus 1 for each other MG.  And it all changed up depending on if the Tank moved or not. Then there were extraneous rules like awkward layout and stabilizers.  You had pages of rules detailing how many shots your tank could make.  With Team Yankee they just straight up say a tank can fire either 1 main gun or all their MGs.  Then they just list out the guns on the tank with Halted and Moving rates of fire.  If a tank has more than one MG, the best one is printed with the full Rof and the others are only ever 1.  Other types of rules like stabilizers are mostly reflected in increases or decreases to the the tank's tactical speed.  

Movement, morale, skill, and shooting stats all got this streamlining.  The homogeneous structure of modern armies allows for this kind of approach better than in a WWII game.  You only have to deal with what existed in Europe in 1985, not 6 years of rapid wartime development.  

Everybody gets German mission tactics and storm trooper moves now.  There are few new movement orders that allow different combinations of normal moves, assault moves, and shooting.  Some mechanics from older editions of Flames make a return too.  Like turret facing actually mattering on a tank.

A final big change of note is that if a to hit roll is modified above a 6+ isn't not an automatic miss anymore.  At 7+ you can hit if your roll a 6, and then re-roll with a 5+.  8+ is a 6 followed by a 6.  It's not until you get to 9+ that you automatically miss  

 This is Tank Game

Well, it's certainly not an infantry game at least.  MBTs can pretty much do donuts over infantry teams all the live long day.  Anti-tank weapons work much differently in assaults.  All infantry have a assault AT ratting of 2(top armor on the M1 and T-72 is 2).  Infantry with anti-tank weapons shoot at side armor in assault.  You might think that's not so bad.  LAWs and RPGs have AT's much higher than the M1 and T-72 side armor, except...  Both tanks have special rules that give them massive boosts to side armor against HEAT weapons.  Which is pretty much every type of  anti-tank weapon in the game save for a MBT main gun.  Adding insult to injury, HEAT weapons that are strong enough to punch through chobham armor and the like usually have an 8" minimum range.  Making them useless in pre-assault defensive fire.

This is generally why you can get a good sized mech platoon for the cost of a single M1.  

Infantry is not completely useless.  Their transports in Team Yankee always deploy with them and operate as an independent tank unit now.  Plus 5 of the six missions use the terrible Flames reserve rules, so getting two units on the table in place of one is going to help you hold out until your reserves arrive.  The Russian mech infantry is pretty useful too.  They can bring decent anti-tank with their nasty BMP transports and carry shoulder mounted SAMs.  

The game doesn't have any dedicated infantry formations, so maybe this will change in the future.  

Bozz, Zee Plane, Zee Plane

Air power looks like it will be much more consistent and usable in Team Yankee.  They operate as full fledged units now, not some abstract artillery template(fixed wing planes still zoom on and off the table though).  I'm pretty sure you can even put helicopters in ambush.  

While the air assets both armies bring to the table look pretty equally matched, the AA offerings are a different matter.  The Russians get a varied mix of direct fire and guided missiles; the Americans just have direct fire from VADS units.  I don't think the American Army ever had a good mobile AA asset IRL(the replacement for the Vietnam era VADS was one of those bloated 80's failed defense projects), and Stinger shoulder mounted missiles don't show up in the game for some reason.  They'll just have to hold out until Battlefront gives them some F-15 or F-16 air cover.            

Americans at least get a pretty kick-ass artillery unit that can drop mine-lets or laser guided rounds.

Lean and Mean

The narrow focus of Team Yankee looks to have created something that look like it will play simpler and faster than vanilla Flames.  I'm eager to get some Russians this weekend so that I can tell you more about the models.  From what I've see so far, I don't think I'll be disappointed with them.  Sandwyrm has tentatively said he'd pick up the American starter.  Hopefully in a few weeks we'll have a battle report ready detailing actual game play.

I did want to add that I'm a little disappointed about the amount on non-plastic in the game.  It looks like infantry is metal, and support units are resin/metal hybrids.  They may have been at their absolute limit getting as many plastic SKUs available for launch as they did.  Still, an all plastic game would have been nice.  The dollar to point ratio on support units is going to be pretty terrible.

Another weird note to add.  BF and Dust studios finally announced a deal to clean up Operation Babylon with all rewards delivered two days after the Team Yankee release.  Odd timing is all I'm saying at this point.


  1. I dunno. For $90.00, there's only 7 vehicles in the US starter set, and that doesn't even include the rulebook. Doesn't seem like all that great a deal to me. The Flames starter boxes with twice as many models in them are only $10 more.

    1. The Tanks are as big or bigger than Tiger IIs. And the helicopters are bigger than them even.

    2. Though I checked the price for the expansions vs the starters, and you're right, there's no deal baked in. The starter doesn't give you advantage over buying the units individually except that the 5 tank platoon boxes won't be out until sometime in February.

  2. I get that the models are a bit bigger, and that unit cards are included, but if these were individually purchased pre-painted X-Wing ships, the price would be a not-far-off $105. And the Vassily's Hammer Soviet starter for Flames has 13 tanks for that price.

    Even the local FLGS guy thinks the pricing on these sets is crazy if they want this game to take off. If there was a rulebook included I could justify it, but at this point I'll be waiting for a sale.

    Though of course I'll be getting the Soviet ZSU AA tanks regardless. :)

    1. It is more expensive than I would have liked. Unfortunately there isn't a cheaper option for moderns in that scale. Zvenda is the only one, and their 1/100 kits sell for 9.95 a tank.

      I hope somebody else picks it up. I like the direction they took the rules. I'd be cool playing against proxy armies.


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