Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jumping into a new game, the Russian way!

Hey guys, Huron here, back again with a new game to share about, Flames of War. Late last year I embarked into the exciting world of Flames of War for the first time, playing in a Late War escalation league. I had looked at Flames of War a few times and even had been posed to buy in once or twice but had always decided to do other things instead. However the owner of the new LGS I have been playing at for the last 4-5 months, Huzzah Hobbies, plays FOW and he was determined to get a group playing at his shop. To be honest it took little effort on his part to get the group that had moved to playing there from the local GW store interested, as we were all burned out on GW and looking for something else to try. So off we went, building new 15mm armies and playing Late War games.

I am an idiot! I really am, for some reason I thought it was a good idea to buy some models first, before every playing a game, watching a game, or reading a rulebook. I looked at some of my friends models, looked on the web a bit at armies, knew that I wanted to play Russians as that is the army I had almost gotten into several times before, and that I wanted to play Cossack Cavalry. Hmmm, Cavalry in at WW2 tank and infantry game, sure why not, I said. But what I found was a debacle.

First off, the Cossack Cav, while still made by battlefront (FOW) was a special order item only. That meant I had to order some to see what they looked like up close and that they were probably going to be a bit more expensive. Second there are lots of companies out there that make WW2 15mm (1/100 Scale) miniatures but I had to have the official stuff (coming from a GW/PP mentality which thankfully I have grown out of now). Third, there was not an official Late War Cossack Cav list in any of the current Late War books. There were some Mid War lists with cav but no one was playing Mid War at the time so Late War was my only option. However one of the guys at the shop managed to find a Late War PDF list on the FOW website so I was in business. I ordered enough Cavalry to get started and expand up to 1000pt games, or so I thought, purchasing 5 platoons worth and also picked up some Anti-Aircraft Trucks and some infantry to rep my Cav if they wanted to dismount.

After a bit of waiting the models showed up and I got to assembling them. Having never assembled FOW stands before I assumed the Cav went on the same way as the infantry, facing the wide edge of the base (WRONG!!). About 2 weeks into playing games (I had the little rulebook which I had skimmed, but still had not bought the big rulebook and read the rules) I learned that my horses were on their bases wrong so I had to pop them off and face them the right way. Sigh, at least I had not painted them up yet.

Something interesting to note about Flames of War, it is a fun game but is in no way intuitive. Especially if you have played lots of other miniatures games before learning the rules. Examples. Models in terrain can see out 6". Reading that I though okay, models can see through 6" or less of terrain, so you can be 6" or less in terrain and see out to shot at model in the open across the board, like in 40K or Warmachine (3" for PP Games). NO! this is not what this means. Model in Terrain like forests or Crop fields have their range reduced to 6" unless on the edge of the terrain. In addition models wanting to shoot at them must be within 6" of them as well. So you have to be pretty darn close to shoot models in concealing terrain.

Another lesson learned is that when models charge the enemy in assault, the enemy gets to shoot them as they charge in, and shoot them a lot. If 5 hits are scored (10 for Russians) the charge fails and the unit becomes what is called pinned and must take a motivational test to act normal at the beginning of their next turn. What does this mean for Cav. Well cav is more expensive then infantry, is on bases that are twice as large as regular infantry, and have much smaller unit sizes then most other units (at least in the Russian army). I quickly found that Cav charging large groups of infantry head on was just dumb and meant disaster for me. As this was what I planned to do when I bought the army, I had to rethink things.

Another draw back I quickly discovered was that Cavalry could not assault tanks, or rather they could but were unable, by the rules, to hurt them in anyway. This meant as points increased my Cavalry army was becoming less and less effective as players started taking more tank formations in their armies. But Cavalry does has some advantages. One is that no matter what type of terrain they are in, they always move 10 inches and can never bog down or be slowed down like Tanks, Trucks, and Infantry. Secondly a small unit of 1 platoon (Russians Armies field multiple companies of models formed of several Platoons; everyone else fields Armies or multiple platoons formed of several squads) with command can move rapidly, hide fairly well, and threaten enemy objectives/contest your objectives very cheaply forcing your opponent to usually commit significantly more expensive resources into cornering and killing them, freeing the rest of your army up to do other things.

Long story short, I did pretty poor in the campaign but learned a lot about Flames of War during my first escalation league. I learned what type of unit to use, whether Tank, Infantry, or Cavalry in various situations. How Infantry is good at digging in and holding an objective while tanks and vehicles go capture enemy objectives. How it can be good to have small fast moving units that can get to an area quickly, dismount or disembark, dig in, and hold an area till the rest of your army can get there, and how some of the Russian special rules work and interact with the army in different situations.

My painted army as it stands now, about 1200pts. I have a good deal more but paint progress is coming slow. I am waiting for some models to come in the mail. I still need to number these and do a bit more weathering with some powders, want to add some more models before I get into that though.

Now I am on to a 1500pt Late War Eastern Front Campaign pitting me and 2 other Russian Teammates vs 3 German players for some linked, story driven fun. I am playing a Tankovy Company this time around, with a mix of T34s, T34/85s, ISU-122s, and some other supporting elements. There have been pics throughout this post of my army as it exists now. I will be posting more models in the future and some battle reports as I continue to expand my collection and begin expanding into Early and Mid War armies too. Stay tuned.


  1. Glad to see another scifi/fantasy gamer give historical gaming a go. Too many people are stuck on one side or the other and won't try a different type of game. I've always played any type of miniatures game i can, and never worried whether it was historical or not.

  2. I have been hesitant to try Historical gaming until recently because I always had a stigma that historical gamers were of a different breed. If I didn't research the unit I was painting and color match and get all the little details right I'd spend my games being told how crappy a person I was for not getting it right. Then I met the crew I have been playing FOW with, and while there are a few of those guys in the group, they are few and far between.

    I have lots more FOW to talk about and it should become a regular feature on this blog. I have a Russian Late War army to expand, and unofficial Russian Early War one that is waiting on models to show up to start getting painted, and plans for several different Mid War armies I want to build. Lots more FOW from me coming up.

    Also, sometime in the future I will be doing a post about getting into DBA (which I am in the process of doing) and maybe one on some of the 28mm American Civil War stuff I have sitting around waiting to be painted.

  3. If you have any questions about Historical gaming feel free to ask. I've played DBA since the early 90's, then went onto the bigger DBM and have played Armarti and Field of Glory.

    A lot of crap is talked about right or wrong colours of tanks uniforms in WW2. For example the Soviet Infantry uniform could go from a yellow/green to a drab/khaki colour. It all depended on how old it was and where it was manufactured. Same with tanks. After being out in the sun covered in dust and mud it could be hard to tell the original shade.
    My best advice is to read as many books as you can and paint what looks right to you.


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