Flames of War

Luke’s Bocage — Review

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Luke's BocageIf you are a WW2 miniatures gamer who has ever tried to battle across the fields of Normandy you know you can never have enough bocage. A while back we looked at the Miniature Building Authority Bocage terrain pieces but we needed more. We are huge fans of the WWPD podcast and heard them talk about Luke’s bocage on one of the shows. After hearing about him selling some at a convention we contacted him about getting some for ourselves.

Luke's BocagePlease be aware that Luke makes his bocage on the side for some extra fun and profit not as a fulltime business. Thus we will leave the details of particular pricing/ordering/composition to him as he may need to adjust them based on circumstances. But basically you simply ask Luke for as many feet of bocage as you wish. The more you buy the more corner pieces, paths, and trees he will throw in. The basic straight sections come in 6″ and 12″ lengths. The stuff is very impressive and well made. Its base is of solid backer board and the stones are a very hard material. On top of that he adds nice flock and foliage (what looks very much like Woodland Scenics Bushes material). Luke’s bocage will easily stand up to repeated play and transport and looks great on the table.

Luke's and MBA BocageThe only possible small negative to Luke’s bocage is that it can perhaps be considered a bit short. If you desire the stereotypical tall bocage of around 10-15 feet in height then please be aware Luke’s is closer to 5-8 feet in scale height. Luke likes the look of the rock and prefers his bocage to represent the average thick barriers found across Luke and MBA Bocage TopNormandy rather than specifically the tall bocage. As a result, his bocage will not hide a 15mm tank but will put it hull down. This of course has advantages and disadvantages in actual play. Those who want truly high bocage will be disappointed but the lower height does make tight corridors easy to get at and it is a simple matter to just play the terrain as if it was full height. Additionally, it is easy for one to add more foliage and/or trees to make it higher. Luke may even make it higher for you if you ask him.

All in all Luke’s bocage is great stuff and a great value. If you would like to get some for yourself just contact Luke Melia at Luke [at] whatwouldpattondo [dot] net.

[Updated: 9SEP11]

Flames of War Vietnam — M113 Series

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M113 ACAVBattlefront 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.

M125Most 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.

We have included a few photos of the new M113 ACAV and M125/M106 so you can get an idea of what to expect if you pick some up for yourself. Overall the Vietnam range continues to impress us.

Note: As of mid-2013 Battlefront’s M113 series of vehicle miniatures are now all plastic and very well done.

[Updated: 28JUN13]

Flames of War — Tropic Lightning

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Wargames Illustrated Issue 282Battlefront’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.Tropic Lightning

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

WI Issue 282 SpreadPAVN 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,

Also see Flames of War Vietnam — Is Back?!

[Updated: 1APR11]

5cm KwK Nest — Review

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The new AT bunker from Battlefront is now available for your Flames of War and other 15mm WW2 battles. The 5cm KwK Nest is direct order only. It is a rather basic model. The gun is in three metal parts and the bunker itself is two large resin pieces. The casting is all typical Battlefront quality. The only minor issue is that the top and bottom halves of the bunker did not fit perfectly together and you will need to file them a tad. But the fit is very close so it just depends how picky you want to be.

Box Contents of 5cm KWK Nest
Box Contents of 5cm KWK Nest

Whether you want to glue the two bunker halves together or not is a question. There is enough room inside to place a few crew figures but not enough for a stand. The only reason to not glue them would seem to be if you were worried about the gun knocking loose. But otherwise it might look better to just glue it together and fill the seam.

Overall it is a nice looking piece. Battlefront has a nice article on detailing the bunker (with a part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5) if you want to take it to the next level. Battlefront also has a nice article on using bunkers and fortifications in Flames of War.

Also see New Flames of War Fortifications.

If you would like to read more on German fortifications in WW2 check out,

[Updated: 27MAR11]

Flames of War Vietnam — Is Back?!

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FoW VietnamBeasts 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.

Also see, Flames of War — Refighting the Battle of Ia Drang.

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.

[Updated: 25MAR11]

New Flames of War Fortifications

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FoW 5cm KwK NestThe new Wargames Illustrated Issue 280 (and now the BF website) has an announcement of a new German bunker for Flames of War, the 5cm KwK Nest. This is in addition to the previously announced pre-painted AT and unpainted MG bunkers. The 5cm KwK Nest will be direct order only and is unpainted.

In addition, Battlefront will be releasing their defensive terrain pieces in individual packs (barbed wire pack, dragon’s teeth pack, etc. but direct order only) and will also be releasing new artillery gun pits (sandbag, log and trench). Release date is 27MAR11 for those.

Last but not least are new pond and swamp terrain piece sets.

It’s a good time to be the defender!

[Updated: 2MAR11]

New Battlefront Podcast

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Radio Free BattlefrontBattlefront released what I believe is their first ever Flames of War podcast, Radio Free Battlefront. It is a one hour show with Mike and Wayne of Battlefront. They discuss the new D-Day books and give a nice battle report covering the La Fière Causeway mission along with a discussion of their forces. Overall a nice job and hopefully we will see more of these in the future.

Episode 2 covers Task Force A and the FFI (Free French) Company.

Don’t miss the Villers-Bocage and Monty’s Meatgrinder scenarios. And of course if you want more Flames of War podcast goodness check out the What Would Patton Do podcast.

[Updated: 10FEB11]

Flames of War Invades Normandy

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D-DayBattlefront released a new D-Day: Battle for France two-book set for Flames of War. The set includes the Allied Turning Tide book and the Axis Earth and Steel book (both also available separately). Together the two volumes replace all of the previous D-Day related force books. This leaves D-Day to Operation Cobra forces now covered by just these two books.

Turning TideBoth books are typical gorgeous Flames of War hardbacks in full-color. The limited availability slip case is also of high quality, thick hardback stock with a nice finish. Both books are over 200 pages each and feature tweaked army lists, new point costs, all new lists, and painting guides. You can now field a Churchill company, a captured French armor unit of the Beutepanzerkompanie, and much, much more. For a great overview of D-Day and the changes over the previous books listen to the WWPD: News from the Front, Episode 6. Forward to 0:48:15 to get right to the review.

The various beach landing, bunker, and fortification rules are now in Das Book.

If all of that wasn’t enough, Battlefront announced a number of Normandy-related boxed sets as well as some new ready-to-play bunkers.

Also see Operation Cobra: 3rd Armoured Division CCB.

The Best Games Not Yet Published – 2011

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Another new year and new games and miniatures to lust after! Once again we present our annual look at the games and miniatures we are most anxiously awaiting in 2011. Our 2010 prognostications did well. As always, there is no guarantee any of these titles will be published in 2011, nor that they will be any good if they are, but we are always optimistic.
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Forged in Battle Miniatures — Review

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Forged in Battle TigerForged in Battle is a new historical miniatures company. They produce 15mm resin and metal WW2 miniatures.  The line includes both infantry and vehicles. The FiB infantry are traditional  metal figures and are packaged in sets usable for Flames of War or other WW2 fireteam based games. We did not compare them directly but looking at them in the store they appear to maybe be a just a bit smaller (slighter) than the FoW infantry minis but we are not sure. Comparing the infantry figures that came with the 88mm guns they are less chunky than FoW figs. The quality seems just fine. The line is expanding but they currently have infantry for American, British, German, and Russian forces. Read the rest of this entry »