Let’s take a look at what Flames of War is all about in a more in depth evaluation. We do know that it is World War 2 and that you can field infantry and tanks, however how can you relate to it if you’re an old Warhammer 40k player and how cheap exactly is it?
Flames of War does show itself to be a historically based wargame. I say historically based and not historical because the only thing it actually relates to are the various organization charts and the fluff behind scenarios and battlefields. It is not a realistic representation of the battles that were fought in World War 2 and this is the point on which most people have arguments about.
The appeal is that for a history guy that knows a thing or two about various theaters of war it can (and it is) exciting to pick a force specifically tailored to his style of play or to represent a force that the player can relate to. Nowadays lots of organization charts are getting added so i think it is quite hard not to find a specific fighting force tailored to your style. There are even Romanians in the game!
The scale is 15mm and officially this is 1:100 however there are arguments about this also. Safe to say that the scale is close enough. Models are available from quite a few manufacturers (Zvezda, Plastic Soldier, Forged in Battle, Battlefront, QRF to name a few) in plastic, resin or metal. Battlefront and Forged in Battle are the biggest producers of ranges and they mostly work in metal and are the most expensive. Small companies have entered the market (Plastic Soldier) and produce cheap plastic variants that look very good.
Infantry and guns are modeled 3 to 8 models on a base. Tanks don’t come with a base (but can be based for ease of moving and transporting).
The scale is smaller then Warhammer 40k or other “heroic” wargames. This means that mistakes in painting are less prone to be visible however quality painters can still amaze you with pieces of their work. The main appeal here is the fact that you can actually research what colors did the troops and tanks actually used during the period of time that you chose and replicate that to your miniatures. You can look around the internet also for allot of painting guides and how exactly to paint your specific 1943 Leningrad Front Panzergrenadiers.
Very important! For the best absolute quality the miniatures have to have a good basing. Some flock or static grass goes a very long way in adding that realistic feel, even if you didn’t bother to weather your tanks.
There is no lying about it. The rule book is big and the rules are plenty. Once again, Warhammer 40k background (or any wargame background) will help as things will be intuitive. Give or take you should probably get most of the rules right in the first 30 games. Don’t despair if it takes you longer, just adjust the style of play to this. For example: if you are absolutely new the best way to start playing is to use an all tank force. Tank armies tend to be smaller and cheaper (big plus) and they require less knowledge about all the rules in the book. The hardest force to play is probably an infantry force with allot of support choices (artillery, aircraft, etc) since you need to move a few different unit types.
The main difference between other games and Flames of War is that to hit an enemy you roll against it’s experience rating, not against your skill to shoot with the gun. So a Conscript is easier to hit than a Veteran, since the Veteran knows to take advantage of the landscape better. It is absolutely logical, in a way, however hardcore wargamers would say that actually it depends on your skill of shooting AND the enemy’s skill of hiding.
Movement is quite easy. Each unit has a move distance that it can advance or maneuver. Unit types differ in their movement allocation: infantry moves slower but is not slowed as much by rough ground while wheeled vehicles move the fastest however they have serious issues with non-flat terrain. Simple stuff, again, and quite intuitive.
Guessing ranges is not a problem in this game since you can measure things at any point in the game. Yes, you read that right. You can measure the distance from your guns to the enemy anytime you want. If you can actually place an artillery template and be out of range it will be absolutely your only fault for not measuring before.
Picking a list
Flames of War is played in 3 periods of time: Early, Mid and Late war. The points cost and efficiency of any unit is dependent on the period that you’re using it in. A T-34 or a KV-1 costs allot in Mid War but it is much cheaper in Late war (because it is much less efficient against Tiger’s and the rest of the big boys). Picking your force is crucially dependent on the period of time that you want to play. This is because your Early War Panzer II’s can’t be used to game against that guys Late War IS-2’s (and even if you could they wouldn’t do much even as a speed bumper). The most popular period (and with the most miniatures) is Late War so you can safely bet on that if you want to play something popular and easy to start.
Best place to actually look for is the FoW manual which has Infantry, Mechanized and Tank starter lists for USA, Great Britain, Germany and USSR. The difference in these list is easy to observe just from the name of the category. Infantry lists base themselves on lots of infantry squads usually supported by Artillery and Anti-tank units. Mechanized lists are basically “swift” lists that are based on mobility (and include a mix of infantry in transports and tanks or mobile artillery) and Tank lists are just that: Tank lists with support (maybe a few squads of infantry and some AA against tank buster aircraft).
Cost can be dependent on how much stuff you want to have or field in your force. The cheapest army would probably go to somewhere around 100 USD for about 1600 points (that would be a Panther company comprising 12 to 15 tanks). You would probably want to invest also in some support units so could another 35 USD for that, but basically for 130-150 USD you can get quite an alright list. Things get expensive when your only option is to buy metal which is usually more expensive then plastic.
The game is fun, fast and quite inexpensive by Warhammer 40k or Fantasy standards. Most of the enjoyment for allot of people is the list, the Alpha and Omega of this type of fun. Everyone probably dreamed at one point to lead an Heavy Tank Battalion of Tigers or an endless stream of Soviet Infantry supported by the God of War. Well, you have the occasion to do just that! See you on the battlefield!
We are here to promote this hobby. We know the constraints of our country and we know how hard it is to find people that are passionate about this subject as we are. If you want to know more details about this game or any other tabletop feel free to contact us. We are also a business that puts the hobby first in front of the money so while we cannot promise to give you free stuff we can promise to give you discounts on your purchases if you are a newly starting player and we can also offer advice on what army you should buy with a limited budget. Just contact us for any questions that you might have!
The Wargames Romania team