Flames of War

Flames of War – Fate of a Nation

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Fate of NationsBattlefront released its first Middle East module for Flames of War. Fate of a Nation comes as a free supplement with Wargames Illustrated Issue 312

Fate Of A Nation:
Arab-Israeli Wars, Six-Day War, 1967
On 5 June, 1967, Israel surprised the Arab forces massing on its borders with a pre-emptive strike. By the end of the day a hundred thousand soldiers and several thousand tanks were locked in battle — a struggle that would decide the fate of Israel.

Both sides had spent a decade preparing for this titanic struggle. Both sides acquired every modern tank they could, and upgraded those they retained from earlier wars. The opening battles saw more tanks in combat than the famous Battle of Prokhorovka between the Germans and Soviets near Kursk in 1943. The clash was swift and brutal. Within days a thousand wrecked tanks littered the battlefields and Israel was victorious..

There a number of supporting release for Fate of a Nation with certainly many more on the way. Here are some of the highlights:Isherman

Of course Battlefront is not the only option for Middle East miniatures. Most notably Khurasan Miniatures have a very nice range of both vehicles and infantry with more on the way. We’ll have a comparison between Battlefront and Khurasan soon.

Flames of War Pacific!

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Rising SunWell it looks like Battlefront has finally pulled the trigger on the Pacific theater. Their July release schedule now shows,

In Shops 20 July
FW304 Rising Sun
JBX01 Hohei Chutai (Infantry Company)
JBX02 Type 89 Chi-Ro Platoon (x5)
JP706 Nikuhaku Teams

In Shops 27 July
JBX03 Type 95 Ha-Go Platoon (x5)
JP702 Hohei Platoon
JP704 Hohei Machine-gun Platoon

Rising Sun is obviously the army book. Type 89/95 are tanks and Nikuhaku is artillery. Looks like they will be extending their invasion and D-Day efforts further than we thought although considering it appears this release focuses on early war we’ll have to see.

The gents over at WWPD knew about this a few weeks ago.

So when will we see Marines?

For both the Pacific and Vietnam we hoped Battlefront would produce co-operative rules with the game engine running the non-Allied side. We’ll keep up some hope maybe as an island invasion supplement or something?

[Updated: 22JUL13]

Flames of War Vietnam — Tour of Duty

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FoW VietnamThe 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!

WWPD Interview with John-Paul from Battlefront

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WWPD PodcastWell 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.
  • Battlefront ships 70-80,000 packs (of miniatures?) a month.
  • Battlefront produces 1,500-1,700 pages of Flames of War material a year.

[Updated: 31AUG12]

Flames of War — Sold Out!!

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ShermanWell it looks like we are not the only ones excited about the new Version 3 of Flames of War and all of the new goodies. Battlefront just announced:

Breaking News
As of twenty minutes ago the first printing of third edition rulebooks is completely sold out. Although we thought we would be okay for the first three months we have eaten through our stock much faster than anticipated in the last four weeks. This means our second printing, which we ordered ten days ago, is already being worked on but will not get out to the world until May.

While you Achtung!are waiting you can check out the excellent video series Battlefront is putting together on how to play Flames of War third edition. There is also the new FoW introductory set, Achtung!, due out soon that features Battlefront’s first all-plastic tanks. It also includes the full mini rulebook.

[Note: As of 26APR12 the rules are back in stock.]

[Updated: 27APR12]

Flames of War Update — March 2012

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FoW Third EditionBattlefront continues to release goodies after goodies. The biggest news of course is the new FoW Third Edition rules. Battlefront released a small free paperback copy of the rules for veteran players and the new large Third Edition hardback is also now available. Physically the rules look amazing and are well organized. We managed to get in a game with the new rules and we like them a lot. Just enough changes and streamlining to improve play but not enough changes to make the change a big deal for veteran players. Tip: Keep the new Quick Reference sheet handy it really helps. For newcomers to FoW this is a great time to enter the hobby.

FoW: Blood, Guts & GloryOf equal significance for us is the announcement of Blood, Guts & Glory the latest American forces book. After years of waiting we finally get our Easy Eights! The book focuses on the tank battles in the Lorraine Valley, September 1944 to January 1945. We finally get Patton as a warrior option as well as all of the Sherman variants. With the Bulge book coming soon it is a great time to be a late war U.S. player.FoW Easy Eight! The Germans get some new lists as well representing the more ragged troops of the withdrawal phase of the war. Also see the nice Beasts of War look at FoW:BG&G.

If all of that wasn’t enough Battlefront is releasing some great new terrain as well — although the long mentioned European buildings are still MIA with not a peep about their fate. There are new obstacles, wire, trenches, fields and Russian front buildings and a whole lot more. With luck we may see new European buildings with the release of the Bulge book.

All in all it is a great time to be a Flames of War fan. It should be an interesting year.

Flames of War Version 3!

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Fow Ver 3
New Flames of War Version 3 announced. Happy Holidays!

Battlefront released some huge news today. An all new version 3 of the Flames of War rules will be available in 2012. In typical Battlefront fashion they are repeating the policy of the version 2 upgrade — in February anyone with an existing version 2 hardback rulebook will be able to go their local hobby store, or direct from BF, and get a copy of the new version 3 mini rulebook for free! The new hardback version 3 book will be available in March 2012. Battlefront also announced that the new rules are primarily a tightening of the rules and not a drastic rewrite and no army lists or models will be made obsolete by the new edition.

FoW V2
Out with the old...

Battlefront also gave a peek at some of the new Battlefield in a Box terrain they will be releasing in 2012. They showed new fields, Russian buildings, walls and North Africa buildings. Conspicuously absent though was any mention of what happened to the European buildings that were announced over a year ago. Also shown were a number of new miniatures including some Soviet big guns and the new German armored train.

In Shops 28 January 2012
BB133 Desert Buildings
BB134 Large Desert Building

[Updated: 23JAN12]

Plastic Soldier Company 15mm SdKfz 251D Halftrack — Review

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PSC SdKfz 251D CoverAfter looking at the Plastic Soldier Company 15mm M4A2 Sherman we were curious about the brand new SdKfz 251 halftracks. We grabbed a box of the SdKfz 251D (they also make the C model).

PSC SdKfz 251D SprueLike the Sherman, the casting quality is outstanding with almost no flash and only minor seam lines. The halftrack has about as many parts as the Sherman but seems less fiddly to assemble. There is a bit of room in the nose (engine area) for some lead weight although we simply squished a couple sinkers and glued them to the bottom of the hull between the tracks. This worked well and you can’t see them. If you want to use the crew figures you will need to put them in before you glue the hull together. There are five troop figures included with a mix of mid and late war uniforms plus some nice stowage. Also included are the various machine guns. These are very nice as well but are of scale size. The rear mounted MG would not last more than a minute in actual play before getting snapped off. Of course the metal equivalents are not much better but we do wish PSC would beef these up just a tad.

PSC SdKfz 251D Front
PSC SdKfz 251D compared to Battlefront front view

Best of all the Plastic Soldier Company SdKfz 251D scales almost perfectly with the Battlefront 15mm model. It is even a better match than the Sherman. In fact, for all practical purposes, they are identical in size. As you can see from the accompanying photos they would mix just fine in a unit. Also note that the details on the PSC model are extremely crisp and clean.

PSC SdKfz 251D side
PSC SdKfz 251D in front and Battlefront in behind

PSC has another winner. If you need some 15mm halftracks look no further.PSC-SdKfz251-D-instructions

Also see the WWPD review of the halftracks.

PSC SdKfz 251D Top
PSC SdKfz 251D and Battlefront top

Plastic Soldier Company 15mm M4A2 Sherman — Review

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PSC M4A2The Plastic Soldier Company has made quite a splash in the wargaming community with its new line of plastic miniatures. They are producing a line of excellent vehicles, figures and guns in 15mm, 28mm, and 1/72 scale. For us the first question we had was, ‘How do they compare to Battlefront’s vehicles?’ We liked the Forged in Battle line but it did not scale very well with Battlefront and of course were still resin and metal. Having all plastic miniatures not only saves a bit of money but they are far easier to work with as well.

PSC Sherman Instructions
PSC Sherman Instructions

We grabbed a few boxes of the PSC 15mm minis to see for ourselves. The plastic casting quality is outstanding with almost no flash and only minor mold lines on certain parts. In the case of the Sherman, and all of the other tanks released so far, the track assemblies are in four pieces per side including: The main bogey assembly, a final drive sprocket and top and bottom track pieces. This is as finicky to assemble as it sounds. With the Sherman the track halves fit well and just a tiny bit of putty was used to fill the seam in the tracks but you could probably even skip this without worry. Why PSC did not produce single piece track assemblies like Battlefront has is a mystery. But compared to the work needed for BF metal tracks the PSC Sherman is much easier to work with. Compared to a BF tank with plastic tracks it is probably more work. But not having to worry about the resin is nice and the detail on the PSC Sherman is extremely crisp. Others have commented that the plastic tanks are simply too light once finished and we can see where they could move around on the table a bit simply because they lack mass. We simply glued a couple lead fishing sinkers in ours to give them some heft. Overall the Plastic Soldier Company Sherman is of excellent quality and assembly time is just fine but could certainly be improved in the future with different design. You can also see a look at the MKIV kit assembly.

Sherman PSC and BF Front Compare
Sherman PSC and BF Front Comparison

We are happy to report that the Plastic Soldier Company Shermans scale very well with the Battlefront vehicles. As you can see from the accompanying photos the PSC Sherman is a few millimeters shorter in length at the back deck and maybe 1 mm shorter in height. But unless the two miniatures are placed directly side-by-side it is almost impossible to notice the difference. Checking reference photos against the back deck on the PSC Sherman it does in fact look a touch short or the rear idler wheel is a bit far out. But again, from a practical standpoint you really can’t tell the difference. With luck we hope this size comparison will apply for the other vehicles as well.

The 15mm German infantry are also very well cast with a nice variety of poses. They are a bit slighter (more realistic) in build but still look ok with the Battlefront figures but we doubt you would want to mix them on the same stand. The biggest problem is that the PSC heads are a lot smaller than the Battlefront heads. Many think BF figure heads are too large but the PSC heads almost seem too small. They almost seem scaled properly as a head but not as a head wearing a helmet. So with the infantry which to choose is going to come down to personal preference. Our guess is those assembling large infantry forces may opt for PSC but some folks will certainly prefer the character of the BF figures.

Sherman PSC and BF Side Compare
Sherman PSC and BF Side Comparison. Note they are practically the same size.

For gamers this is a real win as you now have some choices. If you do prefer plastic you can happily use the PSC products where possible. We recommend you give them a look for yourself.

Sherman PSC and BF Top Compare
Sherman PSC and BF Top Comparison. Note the shorter back deck on the PSC.

Also see our look at the PSC SdKfz 251D Halftrack.

WWPD Compilation — Now Available

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The gents over at the WWPD Podcast now have an excellent compilation of their n00b zone segments. They compiled over an hour of segments from seven shows and Steve adds in some nice new additional commentary and clarifications between segments. The noob zone covers tricky rules issues and basic tactics that newcomers and even veterans to FoW often get wrong. Name aside, this compilation is valuable to the new Flames of War player and veteran alike. The issues covered come directly from the experience of the WWPD crew playing lots of other FoW gamers in competitive games. For only $2.50 this is the best FoW value you can get. Recommended.

And now you can have twice the fun with the new n00b zone compilation 2.

[Updated: 8DEC11]