Monday 3 October 2011

FoW 600pt Skirmish

I got a Flames of War game in on Saturday, the second of two games over the weekend! These small games were more about learning the rules than anything else but they were fun non-the-less. For both games I used the same forces facing off against each other but with slightly different terrain layout. We didn't use any of the scenarios from the rulebooks though, this was just a plain and simple fight to the death. As I said the real objective of the game was to get stuck into learning and understanding the rules.

US 2nd Armoured
Sherman Platoon (2 x M4A1 (76mm) Shermans) 230pts
Stuart Platoon (4 x M5A1 Stuarts) 250pts
Rifle Platoon (HQ + 3 Squads) 155pts

Panzer Lehr
Panzer IV H Platoon (3 x Panzer IV H) 285pts
Gerpanzerte Panzergrenadiers (HQ+3 Squads) 335pts

The 'table' size was limited by the actual dimensions of the table we were playing on; in this case 4' x 3'6". Not   ideal but beggars can't be choosers as the saying goes. I set up the terrain to keep things simple but utilizing enough features to give us a chance to get familiar with different types. Ray - my brother-in-law and opponent for the game - then chose which side to deploy.

One thing you'll see from the pictures is that we both seemed to have a case of mistaken identity. Ray played the US 2nd Armoured but was wearing last years Tankfest T-Shirt with a picture of Tiger 131 on it. Meanwhile I was playing the German Panzer Lehr but wore a T-shirt featuring the us/allied star star emblem.

Ray deployed his rifle platoon over a large area which reduced its effectiveness but also denied me lots of targets to shoot at (because of terrain) . His Stuart platoon was deployed on his right, opposite my Panzergrenadiers, but had to cross several areas of rough terrain to reach me. His two Sherman 76's were on his left flank facing off against my Panzer IV's.

Meanwhile I deployed my Panzergrenadiers and my Panzer IV's to guard the Left and Right bridges respectively. When we had finished deploying I gave Ray a chance to redeploy now that he knew where I was. He made some small adjustments, mostly to move units into better command distance. We then rolled to see who would go first and Ray one the roll.

On mass he began to move all his units forward. One of the Stuarts bogged down in the first movement phase and remained bogged down for most of the battle. We reckon the crew were having a cup of Joe and only rejoined the battle when they had finished! The rest of his forces had no such problem and his infantry made full use of the cover in the centre of the battlefield. I fully expected the first shooting phase to be relatively ineffectual as all his vehicles had moved and their Rate of Fire (ROF) was therefore reduced to 1. But Ray showed his natural luck with the dice and destroyed two of my Panzer IV's with his first round of fire from his Sherman's!

My first turn saw my Panzergrenadiers consolidate their position along the river bank either side of the bridge on my left. My remaining Panzer IV's decided to hold their position and maximise their ROF against the advancing Sherman's. This paid off as one Sherman was left burning by the end of my turn. By this stage I was getting worried, my Panzergrenadiers looked incredibly outnumbered facing most of Rays Rifle Platoon and the Stuarts. But I (and Ray) underestimated the high ROF of my MG Teams when stationary and dug in. By this stage all the Stuarts (baring the one still having breakfast at the rear) were in range of my Panzerfaust teams and a large number of his rifle teams were also within sight of my MG's. Within two rounds all but one Stuart were in flames and four rifle teams had been killed. The American right flank was disintegrating.

The last couple of turns of the game were just a drawn out death rattle for the Americans as the panzer IV's finished off the last Sherman and the Panzergrenadiers began pushing across the bridge and outflanked what was left of the US Rifle Platoon. My troops didn't escape unscathed but by concentrating my forces against rays strung out rifle platoon I was able to gain local superiority and roll up his line.

This game was purely an excuse to learn the rules, especially for my Brother-in-law as he's not played any wargames before. I think we learned a lot with this small game and we certainly felt like we covered a lot of the rules and clarified our understanding of them. I've never been the sort of person that finds it easy to sit down, read rules and absorb them 'dry'. I'm much more of a hands-on kind of person. The Flames of War rulebook is a hefty 258 pages and just looking at it makes me want to go back to firing rubber bands at my figures to determine victory instead of rolling dice. Playing through the rules and taking our time to absorb them has helped us both. Now we need to follow up with a larger battle to ram home what we have learned.


  1. Great report and well done on getting through the game successfully and more importantly having fun along the way.

    The rules can be cumbersome, but with a lot of repetition one tends to get up to speed fairly quickly with basic movement and firing. However, saying that, most of our games tend to last several long hours and I am sure that we at Model Dads are amongst the slowest players in the world, choosing to ponder, languish, sup beer and reflect at every opportunity.

    Couple of points. First, did the Stuart remain in command distance? Secondly, did you manage to play through an assault? This can be time consuming and complex, especially the first few times.

  2. A game is a game and getting the rules right in your head is paramount especially sorting out what's right and wrong and adapting them for a good game and experience.

  3. The bogged down Stuart remained in command right up to the point when all the others got destroyed! We never actually made it to an Assault, but I think that was more due to our set-up than anything else. By the time I'd got across the river there was little left to fight.

    Even though it was just a 600pt game (well, a little over) we still took about two and a half hours to play! It wasn't helped by the fact that Ray really is a wargames novice, so even the concept of Turns and Command Distances are new to him. We literally read through most of the rulebook as we played, going to the relevant sections when we encountered situations we were unclear about.

    As I said in my post, I’m not the best at absorbing rules straight from the book. Usually when I’m learning a new game it’s with established players or an umpire who can help me through the learning curve. In this case I was the host, umpire, teacher and player all at the same time and it was a bit taxing on the old grey matter! Still, that’s what these smaller games are for, a chance to work through the rules before we move on to bigger battles.

  4. Incidentally I still find it highly amusing that I've been collecting and painting my FOW armies for nearly two years now and we are only just getting round to playing the actual game! If it wasn't for for Posties Rejects accepting me into their ranks, I'd never get any wargaming done!

  5. Nice report Lee. Never fancied FOW myself as every game I see looks like an AFV slug (a lot like Rapid Fire..which I really don't like!) Did you find the infantry actually had much baring on the game?

  6. Steve - My Panzergrenadiers certainly did. Mind you they had plenty of Panzerfaust/tank Hunter teams giving them teeth regardless of who attacked.

  7. Nice to see your troops on a gaming table, its always hard starting out a new set of rules, and trying to play and umpire at the same is a bit of a headache too, keep persevering, you'll be bringing them down to Posties in no time, then the headache will start as none of us have played the rules.

  8. Nice report! And your table looks great.
    I've always felt tempted by FoW, but never got into it, part bc none of the people I game with play it, part bc it's a daunting prospect without knowing the rules & knowing which period people might play... don't want to build an early war north africa theater army and find people are just playing late war normandy.

    looking forward to more of these updates

  9. A couple of good games there Lee. Great photos too.

  10. Fun looking game thanks for the report and pictures

  11. Ray and I are already discussing the next game. Bigger, better, bolder!

  12. Sounds good Lee, assault is the meat of FOW, as Chris says if you get the chance practice assault, 9 times out of ten this is where the game is won and lost. Our rule of thumb is have at least two ways of pinning before you assault if possible three (obviously tanks don't normally have that problem, if you're worried about defensive fire from decent AT then do it a different way (panzerfaust side shots as an example of many, they will bail you if they hit you at least, you won't be able to move and he'll capture/assault and blow you up), hose em and assault with infantry).

    At our local there are a few Tank armys (early/mid war) but mainly they're infantry based that's ten regulars up to about 15 irregulars with at least one army if not two or more, not too much on the mechanized front (they are expensive, unless you take the new plastic soldier company release of the SDKFZ 251s into account).

    Oh yeh and something i forgot last night, objectives, objectives, objectives!

    More importantly i hope you had a great time.

  13. Great report and some interesting responses.
    I agree that assaults often end and decide the outcome of a game so in that respect and in many respects to the way my games of FOW play out Infantry are most certainly a big part of the game. It's up to players and the lists and tables they play as to how much Infantry becomes important or less important in FOW games.


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