WWPD are running a series of articles on how to get started playing Flames of War. I've found them to be useful but for me they miss some of the real basics a new player would ask. So I've decided to do my own guide to FoW for the new player. I'm not an experienced FoW player in fact I've only been playing seriously for about three months but that means I still remember what confused me when I started out. So, hopefully, I'll be answering all the basic questions a new player would ask.
Q. What do I need to play FoW.
A. You will need some 15mm or 1/100 scale models to represent your army; a rule book; six-sided dice (D6); a tape measure; tokens to indicate the state of a model e.g. 'Bailed Out'; a flat area to play on 6'x4' is ideal but you can use smaller areas if necessary (a table top is fine); some terrain such as hills, woods, hedges etc (you can use books for hills or buildings to start with to cut down costs) and an opponent who also has an army.
Q. That sounds like a lot of stuff. How much is this going to cost me?
A. Sadly this is one of those 'it depends' answers. The cheapest army bought new would be between £30 & £40, the most expensive could be £200+ and this would be for unpainted models. You probably already have a table, dice and a tape measure. The tokens can be bought on eBay for about £3. The rulebook is about £32 new but there is another option I'll talk about later. You could also buy one 2nd hand but make sure it's the 3rd edition rulebook.
Q. Can I just buy any models I like and start playing?
A. No, FoW games are usually played to an agreed points total with armies that are structured on their historical counterpart. Which means you'll be limited in what you can choose.
Q. How do I find out what's a valid army? Do I have to do the research myself?
A. Luckily no, Battlefront have produced a series of 'Intelligence Briefings' (more commonly known as army lists) which contain all the information you will need to pick a legal force. But studying the history of your chosen force can be fun and help you understand how to best out of your troops.
Q. So, do I have to buy these intelligence briefings as well?
A. Again the answer is yes and no. If you buy the hardback rulebook set you get thirteen lists covering British, U.S., Russian and German forces from the late war period. There are also free PDF briefings available on the Battlefront website covering specific units or campaigns. In addition to this is the EasyArmy.com website. Here you can access the free briefings or pay a nominal fee (usually $2) for access to a particular Intelligence Briefing that interests you. It also has the benefit of providing handy printouts of all the information you will need relating to your chosen force. I would recommend using EasyArmy.com, it may seem a little confusing at first but it's a great resource.
Q. I've seen mention of Late War before, does the period your army is from matter?
A. Yes, it does. Battlefront decided to make Early, Mid and Late War distinct from each other so an Early war (EW) force can't play a Late war (LW) force. This is because of the difficulties created by the vast increase in capabilities of things like tanks over the course of the war. For example an EW tank's gun wouldn't be able to damage a LW tank but the LW tank could easily destroy the EW one, leading to boring and unbalanced games.
Q. So how do I decide what period to play?
A. If you are going to be playing at a wargames club ask them what period they play or if you're just going to be playing with friends work out between you which period you would all prefer.
Q. Ok, let's see if I've got this right. First I pick a period (EW, MW or LW) then I pick an intelligence briefing from that period to represent the theatre of war I'm interested in, then I pick a nationality from that briefing and finally a force for that nationality. Correct?
A. Yes that's it.
Q. Ok, so how do I go about picking the best force?
A. I'll answer that in the next article.