Wednesday 30 December 2009

Why Flames of War?

I was having a chat with The Evil GM recently about the games I play and I mentioned that I was hoping to start an actual game of FoW having spent months painting some models for it. He then posed this interesting question..."I'd be interested in why you chose Flames of War for your WWII game - if you compared two or three systems it would be interesting to know what prompted your decision?"

First and foremost I liked the look of it. I'd seen this game demonstrated at various shows and it looked spectacular. I know that a similar effect could be achieved with a different rule set but the fact is that Battlefront (the makers of FoW) have put a lot of effort into the design of the game. It could be argued that I'm a sucker for good marketing, but I also think that in this case it reassured me that this was a game system that was a) going to be around for a while and b) would be well supported. The latter is definitely the case and the FoW website not only promotes their products but also provides a wealth of other material - histories, briefings, new rules etc - for free. And I like free.

The other factor that influenced me was the scale. I've wargamed with 28mm before but nowadays I just don't have the space to store boxes and boxes of models and scenery. 15mm is significantly easier to store and transport while still maintaining a challenge to my painting skills. I felt that anything smaller just wouldn't be as much fun to paint. I now have a growing selection of vehicles and troops that fit neatly into a single carry case and all my scenery fits into one large storage box. This is a far cry from the days when I played Warhammer and needed three cases just for my figures and several boxes for accessories.

Another factor was the way that Battlefront sell their miniatures. By supplying boxes that include whole platoons and companies, you don’t have to find all the bits yourself. For example I recently bought a Panzer Grenadier platoon that has all the models for five half tracks and 15 squads of troopers plus a command stand. I think this 'modular' approach makes it much easier for new players to adopt the rules system. Now that I have done more research I feel more confident in buying tanks and infantry platoons from other manufacturers such as Peter Pig.

This brings me to one of the other main deciding factors. I'm a bit of a Treadhead and I have a particular interest in the German Panzer Divisions of the Second World War. The first time I saw this game being played it featured a brilliantly painted Panzer company and I thought to myself "I want one of those"! For me the models are important and those that I saw were excellent quality castings. My painting hand was twitching when I saw those models.

One final point. I've never really been a connoisseur of rules systems. You won't find me discussing the relative merits of System A over System B on the web forums. So when I was deciding whether to throw my lot in with the Flames of War camp I went out and asked players what they thought of the game. I read reviews and feedback on various forums but most importantly I spoke face to face with actual players to find out what they liked about their chosen system. Everyone I spoke with was friendly and helpful but what came across most about the FoW players was their enthusiasm for the game and willingness to help a newbie grasp the basics.

I'm sure there are plenty of hard core wargames out there who would love to tell me why 15mm isn't the best scale to play; why WWII isn't as interesting as Napoleonic's; why FoW isn't as good as PBI or Rapid Fire; and why Battlefront are the spawn of the devil, only equaled in 'Selling out to The Man' by Games Workshop. FoW might not be to every wargamers taste but the quality and variety of the models, Battlefronts product support and the enthusiasm of existing players made this an easy choice for me.


  1. Like yourself, I have been painting up a FoW army and yet to get a game, I can't wait though!

    I was also attracted to FoW over other systems because they're website has lots of free support, the price to collect an army is pretty cheap by comparison, the system looks like it will be around for a while yet, and most of all - it is well established and so I won't have as much trouble finding an opponent.

    Players of FoW seem to have a different mindset to GW system players. At least that's what I've found anyway. Supporters of the hobby collect it because of their interest in the period, rather than the lastest power build army. Just one look at their forums and the quality and maturity of many of the posters is evidence for that.

    I'm not sure I would ever stop collecting WH40k, but I actually prefer the 15mm scale. I honestly didn't see that one coming. Largely for all the reasons you listed, but also, for some weird reason, I find it more fun to assemble and paint. Maybe it's because it lends itself well to my limited skills ;)

    My initial thoughts after reading the rules is that they put alot of effort into making it a balanced system, with a good semblance of accuracy.

    I'm collecting Mid-War Soviet Motostrelkovy myself. See you on the battlefield someday!

  2. Hi,
    This is a great post. I read it with interest.
    As you may know (or not) i am a dedicated FoW player. I started about 2 years ago with some friends. We were the first in our LGS so we had to learn each rule by ourself. There where no veterans to help us. But after some good reading and a couple of games we got a grip of the rules and each game went smoother and we had less things to look up. Now we help new players to start with the game because we became the veterans. Our group is very small. Only 3 very active players, 1 who plays once in a while 2 or 3 newbies and some who only collect the minis.
    An other point you didn't mention in your post but certainly has to be mentioned is the fact that older books who get replaced by a new one is still legal to be used. For instants the Afrika book which is replaced by the North Africa book. People who has the old Afrika book may still use it to make a list from.
    Also when you get more and more interest in the game you soon want to know more about the army you play and start to look everywhere to find info about the history of your army.
    The only downside i can think of is that once you get started you can't stop. I started with my 3rd(or is it 4th)army.
    I have played other table top games but FoW is far out the best i have ever played.

  3. I forgot to mention that another deciding factor was my potential opponent... my brother in law. He's a real WWII history buff and has been accompanying me to shows like SALUTE for years. All I need to turn him into a fully paid up Gamer is a game that would appeal to his interests. So I'm painting a starting force of a US Tank Company to face off against my Panzer Lehr Company. We’ll be playing our first game soon and I reckon he will be bitten by the Wargaming bug after that.

  4. Excellent post. Flames of War was my first entry into miniatures gaming and what drew me to it over the other alternatives was Battlefronts' approach to packaging - the system is relatively easy for a beginner with no game jargon background to pick up. The army boxes make it very easy to see what you need and develop a real affinity for the painted mini's. While I'm a fairly experienced modeler (I'm a recovering scale model rail roader), I found painting lots of tanks to be both easy and fun way to get into the miniature hobby - painting figures can be a bit intimidating for the new comer.


  5. Awesome post ...

    1) The rules can be grasped fairly well in 1 - 2 games for sure. The basics are easy to pick up and you don't have 9 charts to compare to.

    2) The minis are getting better as Battlefront puts their time and effort into it. WWII in 15 mm hits a lot of history geeks like us as well as the average game player.

    3) Storage ..... enough said.

    4) I like 28 mm ...... hell I think GW has made great strides in cleaning up 40K rules ... BUT ... as anyone with a family to feed and supply shelter to them knows they are increasing expensive. I like to model the GW stuff more than collect and play. But that is me ...


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