The latest issue of Wargames Illustrated (issue 304) has an ad for Battlefront’s upcoming Flames of War Vietnam expansion Tour Of Duty. It is a regular printed army book like all of the other FoW books that makes Vietnam a ‘real’ range for FoW and not just a magazine add-on as it has been until now. “Tour Of Duty, Armoured, Airborne, and Infantry combat in Vietnam, 1965-1971, is a comprehensive 132 page book.” This is what John-Paul was talking about in the WWPD interview.
Also listed is the new model range where we see things like the T-54, T-34/85M, BTR-50PK, ZSU-57-2 and PT-76 as well as the Centurion Mark 5, M41A3 Walker Bulldog and, most exciting of all, the OH-6 Loach plastic kit.
For those scratching their heads over the T-54 and stuff, yes the engagements with these were very rare but did happen towards the end of the war in 1971 such as Operation Lam Son 719 and others. The Battle of An Lộc is the most famous tank engagement where T-54s and PT-76s made a showing. The Battle of Ben Het is also famous for M-48s versus PT-76s (see a nice video of Ben Het). No doubt gamers will fight more tank battles than ever occurred in the war but it is still nice to see these as options to break up the infantry battles.
Now if only we could get Battlefront to produce a set of cooperative rules for FoW Vietnam (and the Pacific!) so one player doesn’t get stuck with the PAVN all the time….
Of course we might as well start the wild speculation about a Flames of COLD War expansion as a possibility! The 1970s was probably the most interesting (and balanced) period of the Cold War era and Battlefront would only need to produce a dozen or so minis to allow for some classic European Cold War battlefield goodness. Who doesn’t want to see M-60s vs T-64s with Cobras and Hinds flying overhead?!
So crank those rotors and get ready for a new theater of battle for Flames of War!
Well the boys over at the What Would Patton Do podcast score a big one with a great interview with John-Paul of Battlefront, makers of Flames of War. The boys must have had his family tied up at some undisclosed location because they got him to spill the beans on just about everything! You won’t want to miss the interview for yourself but here are the highlights of what John-Paul mentions (forward the show to 51:00 to get right to it) :
- Nuts book at printer now. Next Battle of the Bulge release.
- The new European building range shown in Wargames Illustrated 296 will include about 12 total buildings.
- Mid-war remake (probably starting 2013?) will see campaign books on topics such as Tobruk, El Alamein and Kursk.
- Market-Garden compilation will be ready for Christmas 2012. It will be two ~80+ page books.
- Next early-war release will be winter war (Barbarossa?) in 2013.
- Sea Lion will be done as a campaign book(s).
- Vietnam gets proper campaign/rules book in February 2013 with lots of ‘new things to come’.
John-Paul gives some nice details on their efforts in plastic production where he mentions:
- Battlefront makes over 640 vehicles, over 400 of which are armored vehicles.
- Battlefront wants the plastics to look like BF game miniatures not scale models.
- An Open Fire! boxed game will be released in October 2012 that will include ~11 tanks/guns, ~150figs and a V1 Rocket on launcher all in plastic.
- Plastic infantry on frames with ~60 figs each. Look identical to metal infantry figures.
- Company boxes of plastic infantry to come later.
- Battlefront ships 70-80,000 packs (of miniatures?) a month.
- Battlefront produces 1,500-1,700 pages of Flames of War material a year.
Battlefront has thrown us a few nice surprises with their new Flames of War Vietnam series. First was bringing the line back at all and then there was the addition of plastic rotors for the helicopters.
Most recently we discovered that the M113 line of vehicles are not just solid blocks of resin. The cargo space of the M113 is actually open and detailed appropriately. The top deck and back ramp are metal castings. Of course there are pluses and minuses to this approach. The downsides are that any set of Battlefront’s metal castings often have some minor defects. The parts we have seen are very nice but there were a few minor issues. Another issue of course is this design creates more assembly work and can be a bit fiddly. On the positive side though you get more modeling options and those who like to do detail can really go crazy. Being able to have the rear ramp open should look especially nice on the mortar tracks.
Note: As of mid-2013 Battlefront’s M113 series of vehicle miniatures are now all plastic and very well done.
Battlefront’s full entry into Vietnam has officially begun with their release of Wargames Illustrated Issue 282 and the included 40-page Tropic Lightning: Armoured and Airborne Combat in Vietnam 1965-1971 army book.
WI Issue 282 itself includes some nice material including a quick history of the Vietnam War with a look at the forces covered by the game, a battle report, a look at U.S. tracks and helicopters, and lastly a painting and markings guide.
But the main attraction of course is Tropic Lightning. TL includes the army lists for U.S. and PAVN forces as well as the rules changes/additions from WW2 FoW and four missions. The U.S. forces of course have all the really fun toys including M-48 tanks, UH-1 Cobra gunships and a whole lot more. The only glaring omission is the OH-6 Loach helicopter. Both armored and airmobile forces are covered for the U.S.. The included U.S. lists are,
- Tank Company -M-48 heavy
- Armoured Cavalry Troop -ACAV heavy
- Rifle Company (Mech) -Troop heavy in M-113s
- Blackhourse Cavalry Troop -M-113s and M-48s with M-109 support artillery
- Rifle Company (Airmobile) -Troops in helicopters
PAVN forces cover the Tiêu Doàn Bô Binh infantry battalion. This is the only force list on the PAVN side and variety comes from simply choosing among the various supporting forces. These include recoilless guns, mortars, anti-aircraft MGs, and sappers. Booby traps, bunkers and minefields also play a big role on the PAVN side.
The army specific rules for each side only take up a couple of pages each as well as a couple of pages for helicopter rules and booby traps. The only thing that seems to be missing is fast mover strikes (fixed-wing CAS) but one could argue those are out of scale for the game. Thus seasoned Flames of War players will be able to get going with a minimum of work.
There are only four missions included,
- Hot LZ -An assault landing into a contested landing zone
- Indian Country -Where cavalry units are ambushed en route to a pick-up
- Contact! Contact! -Where a U.S. patrol stumbles upon a PAVN force prepared to stand and fight
- Big Bang -A Vietnamese attack on a temporary U.S. Fire Support Base
Battlefront included the wave one model release schedule in WI282 (and they are now on the BF website). Basically the month of April 2011 will see all of the initial models released. It will be interesting to see if anything new gets produced later this year although, besides the OH-6, we are not sure what they might release besides the M-109 and the M114A1, which are the only units in the book not listed for release, and perhaps U.S. supply trucks. Historically, the U.S. did have an odd selection of vehicles supporting supply convoys.
The Radio Free Battlefront Episode 9 podcast has a great overview of Tropic Lightning by Evan, the game’s designer.
Also see Flames of War — M113 Series.
If you are interested in reading more on armor/cav and airmobile operations in Vietnam check out,
- A Hundred Miles of Bad Road
- Marine Corps Tank Battles in Vietnam
- Praying for Slack
- Tank Sergeant
- To the Limit: An Air Cav Huey Pilot in Vietnam
- We Were Soldiers Once…and Young: Ia Drang – the Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam
- The First Cav in Vietnam
- 1st Air Cavalry In Vietnam: The ‘First Team
- Low Level Hell
Also see Flames of War Vietnam — Is Back?!
Beasts of War dropped some major news today by releasing a shot of a whole slew of Battlefront Flames of War Vietnam boxes. This not only includes the Vietnam figures we saw released in 2010 but boxes of Cobra, M-48, M-551, M-113, ACAV, M-106, and more.
This is very exciting but we do wish they would release Pacific WW2 figures before going off on a new era in a big way. But I guess we won’t complain too much. Releases should start in the next few months.
Wargames Illustrated #282 will feature Tropic Lightning, the return of Flames of War to Vietnam. It will include a free 48-page booklet dedicated to FoW Vietnam army lists and rules plus terrain and modeling tips. Available March 26, 2011. Battlefront announced they are printing more copies of #282 than normal to hopefully meet demand.
The Live from Cold Wars ’11 episode of the WWPD podcast had an interview with Battlefront. The representative confirmed the new line. Basically it sounds like it will be a smaller effort overall compared to the WW2 line and there are currently no plans for blisters. All releases will be boxed sets. Battlefront expects Tropic Lightning to be used more as an occasional diversion by FoW fans and not so much a following all its own. Considering the one-sided nature of the war this is probably a sound expectation.
The models will all release in April 2011.
Worthington Games has a new game on the Vietnam War. Hearts and Minds is a card-driven area movement board wargame that covers the Vietnam War between 1965-1975. The game is playable in an hour for the scenarios or 3-6 hours for the campaign game.
If you missed Wargames Illustrated Issue 266 you are in luck. WI has now posted all of the Vietnam material from that issue on its site. So if you can manage to get your hands on the miniatures you will have all you need to fight Vietnam battles with Flames of War.
Dan Verssen Games (DVG) has a couple of interesting new titles coming out soon. Phantom Leader is the latest in the Hornet Leader series started almost twenty years ago with Hornet Leader from GMT Games published in 1991. This was followed by Thunderbolt/Apache Leader (A-10s and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters). They all began as solitaire board games but have only been available as VASSAL games for a long time. Phantom Leader brings the series back into print. Phantom Leader puts you in the role of a squadron commander and you have to manage your pilots and aircraft and then plan and fly combat missions including target selection, weapons loadouts and more. The game is card driven and both U.S. Navy and Air Force options are included with a variety of aircraft besides the F-4. Phantom Leader also adds a political element to your strikes that seems quite fitting for a Vietnam era game. The rules are available online as well as some after action reports. If you have an interest in aerial warfare, or were a fan of the old games, you should give Phantom Leader a look.
Also coming soon from DVG is Frontline – D-Day. It is a WW2 tactical card game for 1-4 players. You can play as the Americans, British, or Germans in the D-Day 1944 battles and follow-on Normandy battles. What is interesting is that there is also a solitaire mechanic included in the game. The rules are available online as well as AARs and some play sheets.
Well Battlefront has certainly done something very different. In issue 266 of Wargames Illustrated they are including a complete set of rules to fight a Vietnam battle (the Battle of Ia Drang). Not content to leave it at that they have also produced a complete set of miniatures for the game including Huey helicopters, U.S. Airmobile troops, and North Vietnamese PVAN troops (plus decals and markers). The new WI site has a nice set of photos of the new miniatures and Design Notes.