Friday, 30 December 2011

Why I don't like Flames of War

I'm pretty open about the fact that I really want to like Flames of War, but I don't and can't.

I really want to like it because I grew up on a cracking set of home-grown company level WW2 tank rules to which I contributed the air rules and IIRC helped with the infantry rules. To a large extent that, along with Napoleonics and 'cardboard' WRG Ancients, are my first loves in wargaming. Back in the day (turn of the '70s/'80s), we were restricted to what we could scare up from Messrs Airfix and Matchbox as regards AFVs, along with a few other obscure things (I still don't know where the lone 1/72 M4A3E8 HVSS Sherman or the JagdPanzer IV came from, although a little research suggests they might have been Hasegawa kits), so just simply the idea of the massive range of 15mm tanks and vehicles available from Battlefront is enough to make me drool, let alone the other manufacturers.

I really want to like it because there's a hell of a lot of decent people at club who play it, as well as a bunch of nice 15mm scenery: no shortage of opponents, no shortage of people who have and know the rules, have the supplements, etc. And I'm completely unashamed to admit that if I could like it, I'm the kind of person who'd be buying every book and add-on, and shedloads of vehicles and figures.

But I can't.

I've tried, but I can't.

I can't at least in part because they don't feel to me like rules that actually reflect the conflict they're representing. They seem to encourage things like massive blocks of on-table artillery that would, historically, have been about three more tables away, and infantry seems to be just a speed bump for tanks (as someone I recall reading put it).

I can't because the army lists seem to encourage mini-maxing down to the last point, and the rules seem to encourage fine-tuning the position of a piece to the last mm to get the best possible dice modifier. And knowing the rules seems to be more important then knowing the capabilities of the units the miniatures represent in real life. As I said in a previous post, it seems more like very complicated chess with model tanks than an actual simulation of warfare, and little or no simulation of 'friction'.

I can't because it has that ghastly system of plonking down an objective marker at some arbitrary point on the board, and that seems to be the sum total of its nod to any concept of larger scale situational awareness. And yes, I know Napoleon at War has that in its tournament rules, as well. I don't intend to use it!

I'm well aware that folks who do like Flames of War are going to tell me I'm wrong (heck, who knows, they may just ignore me completely), and I should point out that this post doesn't reflect on the folks down the club, or elsewhere among my readers, who do play it, and clearly enjoy it. It's just not for me, guys.

9 comments:

  1. Mike:
    You'll get no argument from me, mate. I have the FOW rules and my teenage son and I tried them once. May never try them again. When, as your last post notes, there are rules sets like IABSM out there with a totally different philosophy behind them, why spend precious time playing FOW?
    That being said, I am grateful for what FOW and Battlefront have done for the hobby. Historical wargaming was ripe for a business plan that took the Games Workshop approach and ran with it. It's been good for us in terms of numbers of new, younger gamers who may one day hunger for something more complex, it's been good for the number of models and for resources available (the FOW website alone is a gold mine). It's also forced smaller games publishers like Too Fat Lardies to up their game, and hpefully they can profit from their investments.
    Good thought provoking post of yours.
    Cheers,
    Mike P

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  2. Cant argue with you there, and indeed, the Napoleon At War folks do seem to be aiming for a similar plan to Battlefront in terms of producing a really sweet miniatures range to complement their rules, for which I can't fault either of them (though Battlefront's prices do make me wince a bit!). The difference is, though, that N@W does appear to have a ruleset that reflects the era!

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  3. I think the figures are beautiful, I've never played the rules and probably never will. The thing I'm not keen on is the monopoly they seem to have now, a couple of years ago they were unheard of. All to much like GW for me and as for WI, their ww2 magazine.........

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  4. Companies like the Plastic Soldier Company seem to be moving in on the figure monopoly, though, which can only be a good thing. Also there's the likes of Skytrex and Peter Pig, which, frankly, just need to advertise more and loudly.

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  5. Agree with all of the above.
    Cheers
    Paul

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  6. I can't argue either. The system is unrealistic, open to gamesmanship to an awful degree, and gives spurious results. About the only thing I liked was the prepackaged units concept, which I see as a useful way of helping beginners to the period.

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  7. Come give it another go! Would be more than happy with it now I think now that Version 3 is out. I am a new player and picked it up in Feb of this year and I was lost with the V2 stuff, I patiently waited a few weeks and with the release of Version 3 I am up to two armies and playing, reading and enjoying this game and hobby. I grew up on WW2 films and board games like Escape From Colditz and Axis and Allies.

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  8. Agreed. Besides the whole 'money grabbing' aspect of the FoW set up, the overall 'look' of any FoW game I've ever seen just leaves me cold. Wheel to wheel AFV's just don't do it for me I'm afraid.

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    Replies
    1. I have to admit I've been very good about not publishing a few 'look at this' photos of T34's on the M25 at rush hour :D

      Latest classic - apparently there's an exploitable bug in V3 which means you can barricade an objective with a platoon of engineers and a laager of half-tracks.

      Whee!

      Delete

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