Sunday, 1 July 2012

Getting Started with Flames of War - Part 2

In the first part of this article I answered some of the basic questions a player completely new to FoW might ask. In this part I'm going to cover choosing your first army.

Q. So how do I go about picking the best force?
A. This isn't an easy question to answer. As you get more games under your belt you may find that you prefer playing one particular type of army more than another. So until then it's probably best not to spend lots of money on a force. So with that in mind I'd recommend you go with a mainly tank based force. There's also a few other reasons why this is a good idea.

Firstly as tanks cost a lot of points you won't need to buy many to make a 1500pt army and this keeps the costs down. Especially if you go with plastic tanks from either Zvezda or the Plastic Soldier Company. Next using just tanks means that you have less rules to learn, although you will need to learn all the rules eventually. Also all tank force games tend to be quick and fun to play.

After a few games you can try adding in other types of unit, perhaps some artillery or an infantry platoon, to see how they play. In this way you can see which units and style of play suits your temperament.

Q. Can I re-use troops from one army in another one?
A. Yes, many figures/models can be used in lots of armies covering the different periods of the war. Infantry changed very little during the war so generally they can be used in any army of the same nationality. The same is true for artillery. Tanks are a little different. Some only appear in one period e.g. Tiger II's whereas others such as Pz 38t's can be used in all periods. There is also the benefit that some tanks can be used by different nationalities. Sherman's, for example, can be used by all allied armies, even the Germans can have a few looted Shermans in some armies. So with a little thought one force with slight changes or additions can form the basis of a completely different type of army in a different period.

Q. Ok then what's the best period to play?
A. Lets look at the three periods, Early War (EW), Mid War (MW) and Late War (LW).

LW is probably the most popular period. It has lots of different tank/infantry/weapon options and lots of supporting material in the form of intelligence briefings. It also has what lots of people consider to be 'cool' stuff like Tiger II's, Easy Eights and Sherman Calliopes.

MW is widely accepted to be the best balanced period in that most forces are similar in their capabilities.

EW is open to much debate. Many people consider it boring because some tanks have very heavy armour which is resistant to just about all the guns of the period leading to a stalemate situation. While others say that lots of the tanks have such poor armour that they can be knocked out by heavy machine guns never mind anti-tank guns.

So which do you choose? The answer will probably be determined by what period your available opponents play. If you are all starting from scratch and have no preference for a particular theatre of war I'd go with MW. It covers both the war in North Africa and the Eastern front and no one force has 'super weapons' which are difficult to defeat for the new player. My next choice would be LW. EW can be fun but I'd leave it till you get a bit more experience under your belt.

Q. I've seen that the briefings list armies as Infantry, Mechanised and Tank. Does that mean I can only use infantry if I choose an Infantry force?
A. No, it just means that the core units must be of that type. The rest can be made up from the available options specified.

Q. Can armies from different Intelligence Briefings fight each other?
A. Yes, as long as both briefings are from the same period e.g. LW

Q, Where can I go for help with things like rules queries or advice on FoW in general.
A. There's lots of sites and forums out there that offer help but my advice would be to stick with the 'What Would Patton Do?' (WWPD) website and forums. They post well thought out articles and guides on their website every day and their forums are friendly and helpful.

Q. What's the one piece of advice you would give to any starting player to help them improve their game?
A. This one is simple. READ THE RULES! Don't try and read them all in one sitting but try to read a little bit each day. You'll be amazed how many times you'll find yourself saying 'Wow! I didn't know you could do that.' or 'we got that wrong last time we played.' Knowing the rules is the surest way to learning how to use your army effectively and winning more games.

I hope you've found these two articles useful. After you've got a few games under you belt I'd suggest having a look at the Tale of Two Cities articles at WWPD. The purpose of these articles is to follow 2 groups of gamers talking through all the issues that a newer gamer may encounter from force planning to painting. These articles will help you build armies that are well thought out and will also provide you with a basic plan of attack covering how to get the best out of your units on their own and in co-operation with other units in your army.


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