22 February 2017

Flames of War - Version 4 - The Review Part 1

Well, unless you're a Flames of War player who's been living under a rock since about November (and if you are, you're likely not the kind of person reading this) they've heard all the furore, musings, angst and just general commentary about Battlefront's upcoming release of Flames of War V4.

We here at Behind Enemy Lines HQ keep our eyes on pretty much every wargaming group on Facebook as well as numerous forums and other haunts and we know that there are some very mixed opinions out there about the upcoming releases. What we'll try and do here is, as objectively as possible, give our opinions on the changes and what they mean.

We approached Battlefront for an advanced copy of the new V4 rules and Phil and the team were kind enough to provide them for us, so we can say with all certainty that yes, we've read the rules and we know exactly what's in them and have also tested them in anger.

We'll be looking at the MW version initially and we'll get on to both the Afrika Korps and Desert Rats releases after that.

So away we go.....and to start with, I'd like to just clarify my position on a couple of things:

1. I love Flames of War V3.....and I also now love Flames of War V4. I also love that I can still play both games.

2. Flames of War V4 is most definitely NOT dumbed down, as has been claimed by some. There are strategically important decisions which need to be made but some of the interactions have been streamlined.

3. Flames of War V4 is not Team Yankee. While it borrows facets of TY in terms of movement and the like, at it's heart, Flames of War V4 is just that. It's an updated version of Flames of War.

Right, there we have it. So, what can you expect under the new rules?

So, there are going to initially be 2 releases, Flames of War V4 for MW which has all new briefings and a new points system and then Flames of War V4 for EW and LW using the existing briefings that we all have and all love. 

Lets take a look at MW.

The game at its core is still Move, Shoot and Assault. You're still, ultimately, trying to either take the objective(s) as the attacker or hold on to them if you're the defender. You've still got a heap of tools at your disposal in the form of Infantry, Armour, Artillery and Air Support.

Your force is selected from either the unit cards that come with them when you buy new kits or from the details in your briefings. Having the cards are NOT mandatory, you can get along just fine without them...the sure do add a degree of ease to games though. The cards have all the information you need about the teams in your units and the units that then make up your formation or formations.

They tell you your movement ratings, your weapons stats, how good your troops are at hanging on in fights and all the rest of the info you need in a compact card.

Movement has changed. Now, instead of being a Fast Tank or Slow Tank, you have a variety of movement speeds you can use depending on the situation you find yourself in. If you want you Tiger to move and still shoot, you move it at Tactical Speed. This is considered the optimal distance for the tank to move and still allow its crew the opportunity to get shot off. If you need to get there quickly and don't really have valid targets, you'll consider using your Dash movement, dependent on the terrain situation you find yourself in. That's it for movement...apart from difficult terrain and bogging checks. Bogging checks, as they are in V3, are gone. Now, if you want your team to cross difficult terrain (such as entering a wood) then you have to make a Cross Check. Your unit card specifies the value you need to roll on your trusty D6 to make it into the terrain. If you don't, you stop. No bogged down or anything like that anymore, you just stop. You can still fire your weapons at their moving ROF should you fail the test.

Shooting has changed, but only slightly. The only thing that has really changed here is that instead of the target player selecting where hits are assigned the firing player assigns them. The target player has the opportunity to move hits on a roll of 3+ on a D6. If he or she succeeds, then the assigned hit can be moved to another valid target within the unit and another test can be made. If it fails, the hit stays and no further tests can be made.

Other than that, shooting is the same.

Saves are slightly different for gun teams. They save on a 4+ now.

Artillery is somewhat different. There are a couple of major changes here:

1. You typically only have a single specialist observer per formation in your force rather than one for each battery. They have 3 opportunities to spot for ALL artillery units meaning if you take 2 attempts to spot for your initial artillery bombardment, then you only have 1 attempt left to spot for the next battery you wish to fire.

2. You can aim at ANY point on the table, within range of the bombarding teams and within LOS of the observing unit. 

3. Danger Close is back. You cannot place a template within 4"/10cm or friendly teams.

Planes now operate as units. They still arrive as normal but can be shot down and if they die, they're gone....for good. You buy them in multiples so you could conceivably buy 2 planes and have one shot down and only have one for the rest of the game, providing he doesn't also get shot down.

Assaults, in my opinion the trickiest part of the game to come to grips with, has been tidied up, but is ultimately the same. You move in and as long as you get past all defensive fire, you swing to kill. If you kill, your opponent tests to come back at you. Rinse and repeat until someone is gone or is forced to break off.

One thing that has gone, Tank Terror. Great in my opinion!

Finally, for this part, Motivation.

There are 2 forms of Motivation now, which has been re-designated to Last Stand.

Unit Last Stand: If your unit has taken casualties, they're gonna start thinking about beating a retreat and saving their asses. So if your unit has taken casualties but has:

- 2 or more UNBAILED tank teams,
- 2 or more gun teams,
- 3 or more infantry teams or
- 1 aircraft team

Then they're in Good Spirits and are happy to fight on. If not, they need to make a Last Stand test on either their Motivation score or their Last Stand score if its different. If they pass this, they stick around but they need to check again next turn.

Formation Last Stand: If your formation has two or more units in Good Spirits (including HQ units but excluding transport units) then its in Good Spirits and doesn't test. If this is not true, they're destroyed. No tests, they've had enough and leave. If there are no formations left in your force, you lose.

Now, there is good new here guys!

1. You get a chance to remount bailed out tanks before you make a Unit Last Stand Test. This might put you back above the 2 tank requirement meaning the Unit Last Stand isn't required.
2. You make Unit Last Stand tests before you check Formation Last Stand, so if you pass those tests, your formation sticks around.

Right, so that's the basics covered here in part 1. In the next article, we'll start looking at the specifics of force creation and National rules.


  1. Formation Last Stand sounds a bit drastic.

    1. If you think about it from the perspective of what could actually happen though, it's akin to an orderly retreat when a company takes significant casualties. I would imagine that, as a commander, you'd be very unlikely to want to minimise the losses.