Why I don’t like Flames of War – 101

It is fairly easy to spot, if you listen to more than a couple of my podcasts, that I am not a great fan of Flames of War, either as a game, or as a representation of World War 2.

If you want to know why, all you need to do is look at the table in this battle report about Prokhorovka, or at least that is what is described – the table just epitomises for me all that is wrong with the game.

Nice terrain, nice minis, but horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE!

28 Comments on Why I don’t like Flames of War – 101

  1. “Down with this sort of thing ” … “careful now ” 😉

    Agree man but i wont go into a rant about it here .

  2. but Neil FoW isn’t a WWII wargame, it’s the FoW hobby that happens to use a WWII background,
    anyway I’m surprised they didn’t get the game sponsored by NCP as it looked like a huge car park

    still as long as the players enjoyed themselves thats all that mattered

  3. “still as long as the players enjoyed themselves thats all that mattered” – I’m not wholly convinced that that is a valid arguement…although I could be accussed at that point of simply being ‘Mr Grumpy Historical Wargamer’.

    But, you hit the nail on the head – the tanks are so wheel to wheel you could mistake them for being drawn up for some sort of napoleonic style cavalry charge…

    • Joe Dobson // June 4, 2015 at 02:44 // Reply

      Actually, when I play FOW, my fellow gamers accuse me of being one of Napoleon’s Marshals. This is in reference to the way I play/ tactics I use. My most memorable FOW game (I used to play every week for about 5 years) was with the version 2 rules. I took a Guards Cossack regiment up against a dug in Fallshirmjager coy with armor support. I won and didn’t dismount until the last turn.
      was it accurate? nope
      was it fun? at the time
      do I still brag about how I beat tanks and machine guns with horses and swords? you bet!
      moral of the story: gallant men with brave steeds and cold steel are in pointed fact superior in every way to the cold machinations of modern war

  4. What exactly is horrible? My reaction is Cool I want do something like that… Then again I am a FOW fan though I am not unaware of its flaws.

  5. I totally agree mate it is now dawning on my club members that to use proper WWII tactics dosent work in flames of war, example you want to bombard a hill that you know the enemy is in but becaus they popped out had a shot taking out two shermans and then retired using the german stormtrooper move you cant see a target so my battery of 25pdrs and 5.5″ guns just sat there, absoloute cobblers, and the phalanx of armoured vehicles is typical of FOW game, not unlike WH4000,better rules and more realsitic is IABMSIII company level, and many other better rules for large games

  6. I’m with you 😀 http://troubleatthemill.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/why-i-dont-like-flames-of-war.html

    I have on several occasions resisted the temptation to post some of those pictures for very similar reasons, too 😀

  7. It’s images like this which have discouraged me from trying the rules!

  8. For me it was watching a couple of games at club. Not WWII

  9. I think, for me, this has become even more highlighted after reading & reviewing Battlegroup Kursk. Here is a ruleset that has a specific supplement for Kursk, and so relates to the battle we are talking about.

    There is a Prokhorovka Mega-Game in that book, designed to be played by at least 6 people on a 20 x 6 board

    Using these force lists, the Russians still get an impressive number of tanks (41 T-34s, 12 T-70s, 3 SU-76s & 3 SU-122s) but they are deployed in waves over the first 3 turns. Obviously, there are also infantry units attached to these…
    However, facing them are the following forces (ignoring infantry) – 4 Tiger Is, 9 Panzer IVs, 6 Stug IIIs, 3 Marder IIIs and 9 Pak 40 A/T guns.

    Still a big game, and the potential for a lot of tanks to be on the board, but nowhere near the wall-to-wall deployment that we see in the above table

    • Have you seen the operation sea-lion game with pumas and panthers rolling round whats meant to be the south east of England ? iv seen video`s with guys saying such enlightened things as “who plays north africa that`s gay” and “nobody is sure whats going to be in the new kampfgruppe peiper book ” maybe i`m wrong but if you`re that interested how can you not know ? i googled it and got a site which listed every tank ,it`s number and most of the tank commanders .if people want to play FOW fine but don’t try to make out BF selling sturmtigers in packs of two or FOW in general is in any way historical .im half expecting a youtube video by a FOW fan demanding to know why he cant deep strike his sturmtigers in turn two .

      Oh a m8 said he seen a bunch of T34-85`s get round behind some stug`s and fire at point blank range .the net result was one bailed crew who promptly got back in and the stugs moved to the side of the T34-85`s and killed all but one .I think history just took one for the team after seeing common leap out the window head first .

  10. The pics look absolutely ridiculous… Now play the same game with the same forces in 6mm as we do at our club, it will look a lot better. 15mm is too big for the ground scale used (if any)

    My main problem with FoW? On board artillery…

  11. Wow! Those photos resemble my city traffic at rush hour!! Can’t agree more with you

  12. Hmmm….reminds me of the reason I stopped playing WWII in the ’80s – there was alocal tourney with a rueset I can’t remember the name of – one table had really nice tewrrain, looked perfect for a large skirmish – say, a couple of reinforced platoons of infantry vs maybe a company. Came back an hour later – ISU 152s, hubcap to hubcap, Facing 1939 Poles! I do play FoW, but never, never anything remotely lookinf like that!

  13. My view on gaming is generally live and let live, I have never lost too much sleep over ‘history’ because at the end of the day we are all just playing games (no matter what rules you use) but in this case I have to say OMG. Forget the history or rules question how can it be any fun just parking a bunch of tanks on a board then do nothing more than roll dice for a couple of hours?

  14. Looks a lot like an ancients game with hoplites or roman legionnaires in tight lines.

  15. Tanks, lined up wheel-to-wheel? Impressive, perhaps; historical? Not! I’ve played FoW, won some games, lost some games, and felt dissatisfied every time. There’s no player enjoyment for me. It gave weird results. I’ll play it no more.

  16. Regardless of what you think of the FoW (or any other rule set for that matter) you don’t HAVE to play games like that. I’m a big believer that gamers as a general rule are extremely lazy and don’t take the time to set up interesting and challenging scenarios, or bother to limit force size and composition. They just plonk down as much stuff as will fit on table and charge to the middle ASAP. This leads to the inevitable but it doesn’t necessarily reflect the rules in use. To use a computing analogy – “garbage in, garbage out”…

  17. Victor Bravo // November 29, 2012 at 19:26 // Reply

    Agreeing with Millsy, you can take the most detailed rules and use them poorly to come up with some pretty bad gaming and unrealistic situations and you can take the most abstract rules and use them to create some very realistic satiations and get good gaming from them.

  18. Try taking a look at Focused Firepower if you’re after a more accurate game system. It’s free too.

    • Nice system, I’d never heard of this before. Being new to War Gaming I found this system (reading though it) to be quite realistic. I like the historical accuracy and strategic thinking… Thanks!

  19. Change whats wrong... // January 13, 2014 at 11:23 // Reply

    The main problem with Flames of War is no other than the ability to spam tanks like crazy. It only becomes a really fun game when you play infantry list supported by armour, and snipers, mortars, artillery, antitank guns, etc come into play. If all you do is play 40 tanks vs 40 tanks all you do is shoot each other from different sides of the table. You simply throw dice… without using the other 80% of the game.

  20. The last of last // February 14, 2014 at 05:48 // Reply

    They do not kown much about ww2 the greman only old boys and old man at end ww2
    How silly enough to get back into a tank midle of an battle
    At battle of Kursk the T34 where raming Tiger tanks no rules ramming
    Over ally the rules silly

  21. I’ve played a lot of FOW and my table has never looked like that. Some of this is just down to the self-restraint of the players. FOW plays best with infantry supported by reasonable amounts of armor, with infantry assaults being one of the best parts of the game. The lack of area fire artillery is a real problem, but many older games were totally bogged down by artillery. At least FOW doesn’t do that. And having commanded a tank platoon in Desert Storm I realized that realistic rules simply don’t exist. Period. So go for a good game. And, if done right, FOW gives very good games.

  22. I couldn’t agree more, though I’m perfectly happy to use their reasonably nice miniatures with other rules. To be fair, the armored parking lot syndrome is not unique to FOW, but it does seem to be more prevalent among FOW adherents.

  23. I’ve run historical battles using “MODIFIED” FoW at a number of conventions, typically using historical OB at 2: to 5:1. I hate FoW, but with so many people familiar with it, I can get large scenarios done quickly. What messes with my mind is consistently getting historical results. 8 hr game of Dompaire, with 4 captured Panthers when they collapsed, exactly as historical. Similar results for Rennes, Chambois, and yes, Prokhorovka.

    Of course, the first thing you realize when researching a historical Prokhotovka is how huge the infantry and artillery presence is, that the major armored and mechanized units actually committed fielded far more troops and guns than tanks. For shits and giggles, I’ve been contemplating using modified FoW rules with Pico Armor for a 1:1 Prokhorovka, mount a platoon to a base and use casualty caps to mark kills…

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