Friday, September 23, 2011

Flaming Wars

So I've been away for a while, but the gaming has not stopped. Oh no, nothing could be further from the truth. To say otherwise would be heresy (of the highest order).

What I wanted to touch upon was my impressions of Flames of War. I've never played Flames of War before Wednesday, despite my working in a shop that carries it for five years. This is quite unlike me, as I'm often head-first into a game before anyone else. I don't have any reason for not getting into it sooner; the simple fact is that I didn't. But now I did. So now we have this post:

A friend and I played a 1000pt Late War game with myself using an American Rifle Company, and him using a German Grenadierkompanie (complete with looted Sherman). Between the both of us we have an accumulated Flames of War (FoW) playtime of 0 hours, so we enlisted a friend of ours to sit there and teach us how to play.

There were surprisingly few bumps. Assaults took me by surprise in their deadliness; leaving you no saving throws, and let's not get too into defensive fire or I'll slip back into my PTSD. Suffice it to say a platoon of infantry who are dug-in should not fix bayonets and charge two Grenadier platoons (no matter how low their strength). Another thing that I found hard to manage was the placement of the stands. Stands block line of sight (LoS) to other stands, so yeah...

Overall, the game was great! At one point I referred to it as "40k that works." It's very 40k-ish in its structure: Movement phase, Shooting Phase, an Assault Phase wherein you get to make another charge move to get into base contact, and so forth. This is a tried and tested turn structure if not a little boring. It also uses d6s which can be described in a similar way. What I enjoyed about the system was the back and forth nature of the combat resolution: Roll to hit, roll to save, if the target's in hard cover and fails its save the firer rolls a Firepower check to take it out. Usually I prefer the last word (er - roll) to go to the defender (like the armor saves in Warhammer/40k) but this kept both players attentions at the table and not just as spectators. The fact that the roll to hits depends not on the firer's accuracy, but on the defender's ability to not get shot. Rather unique.

The game just flowed better than 40k and feels as though the units fit perfectly into the game as opposed to finding an awkward place to stick this unit or that. I will say that the game has a lot of rules, and that our first game took three hours. I'm sure that the more we get a handle on the rules, the faster things will go, and thankfully we didn't use anything too complex. However, I can see myself getting into a game with someone who breaks out something strange and we have to sit around while we figure out how to do a bombing run or something... Planes are another story that I'm staying the hell away from right now.

The game is great! If you've ever wanted to play a WWII game but you've been intimidated by the sheer amount of differing rules sets and miniatures, and scales, and blah, blah, then give this game a shot. I'm pretty keen on getting some new platoons and fleshing out my company, and getting some more games under my belt.