It was about a decade ago, whilst visiting a wargaming convention in Wellington, New Zealand, that I was first introduced to Flames of War. A lanky Kiwi by the name of Phil Yates was running a demonstration of a set of rules he was close to completing, and he was using a very cool collection of 15mm tanks on a lovely table to showcase it all. I stepped up to try it out (mainly as I'd recognized Phil's name from a 40K adaptation he'd written called Warhammer: Panzer Aces, or something similar).
10 T-34s against 4 Panzer IVs. I knew enough about WW2 to know that the Soviet forces relied primarily on their quantity to overwhelm the Axis armies they faced, pummeling them with simple yet (eventually) effective hammer blows. As I'm an Imperial Guard/Empire player through and through, I took control of the T-34s and proceeded to hammer away at the Panzers.
I found out soon after that these tanks were made by a company called Battlefront. I started collecting a Soviet force for the Mid-War period (the siege of Stalingrad to be precise), and over the next eight years I tinkered a little here and there, eventually painting up around 2000 points of infantry horde (and tank support).
Despite owning this sizeable force, and the rapidly growing popularity of Flames of War over that period, I really didn't play. Why's that you ask? Well, to be honest, I've never really been a gamer, or had a head that assimilates and retains rules very well. I had my three rulesets already embedded over 16 years of gaming (40K, Warhammer, and LoTR) and learning something new seemed like a big chore.
Almost two years ago now (my how time flies), I was fired from GW and three months later came to work for Battlefront, focused on the best selling historical wargames magazine, Wargames Illustrated. One of my strengths in this position is my breadth of knowledge of historical periods, allowing me to talk to many different contributors to the magazine and draw upon their knowledge to help evolve the magazine to where we have over the last 18 issues.
Our Flames of War Studio team in NZ have always provided our FOW content, so there really was no pressing reason for me to dive head first into the core of our business, someone else was taking care of that.
No reason, that is, until now. In August of this year Battlefront released Blitzkrieg, the first of their "Early War" books covering the German invasion of Poland and France in 1939-40. Although the rules are all Flames of War, the unit types/strengths/weaknesses make it essentially a new game, just perfect for someone like me, ready to get in on the ground floor.
Over the next few months I thought I'd do a bit of blogging about my adventures in the world of Flames of War. It'll be a mix of gaming, modeling, painting, and a dab of philosophy and history all rolled into one place.
PART ONE: The Light Panzer Company
I selected the German Light Panzer Company list for a number of reasons:
• Fighting with tanks is a great way to learn the FOW system, I can add in infantry later once I'm comfortable.
• Assembling and painting 15mm tanks is pretty straightforward, which means I can wrap my head around the scale a bit more easily before really getting some good results on infantry.
• There's a really nifty Army Box available, reducing the number of potentially confusing decisions I have to make early on.
Above you can see my roughly 1500 point army, 24 vehicles. The unpainted stuff is all from the one starter army box I mentioned. The other two primed vehicles are "on loan" from a friend, until my back-ordered "Bunkerflak" models arrive. While all my Panzers are great for taking out infantry and light vehicles, they lack the punch for easily dealing with the medium and heavy tanks I might come across. The "Bunkerflak" are essentially 8.8cm guns on the back of massive halftracks, just great for busting any tank that might roll into my line of sight.
Above is a size comparison shot. Left to Right: a Panzerbefehlswagen (command vehicle), a Panzer I, a Panzer II C (early), and a Panzer III E.
I took me about 7 hours to clean and assemble all the tanks from the box, including putting in rare earth magnets to allow the turrets to rotate, something that is apparently quite important in the game.
Next up, painting the Light Panzer Company.