Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Flames of on FIRE!

Flames of War is taking over the gaming scene!  I predict that in five years, everyone will be playing Flames of War, and if in a gaming crowd you mention Games Workshop, you'll be met with a bunch of blank stares.

Just kidding... But there does seem to be increasing interest in this game.  Pathfinder has recently been posting about his recent love affair with Flames of War, and it has sparked some interest in the blogging community, or at least it has encouraged others who have been eyeing the game to come out of the closet.

I have to admit that I've been looking over Flames of War for a while now too.  I still have big plans for my 40k armies, so my interest in that will probably not go away, but Flames of War definitely has an appeal.

My FLGS seems to have recognized Flames of War's rising star as well.  I moved into the area almost a decade ago, and back then the gaming store had a wide variety of stuff:  traditional model kits, board games, puzzles, D&D, some historical minis, etc.  One whole wall was dedicated to Games Workshop.  A few years ago I noticed that some Flames of War stuff was appearing on the shelves, while the GW stock was decreasing.  They still get new GW stuff in--the appearance of new Necrons is a testament to that.  But now, the wall that used to be all GW?  Now it's half GW, half Flames of War.

So what's so great about FoW?  First, of course, is the cost.  Compared to 40k, it's dirt cheap.  You can make a credible army for maybe half the cost of a 40k army.

Even better, your FoW army isn't going to be rendered obsolete in a few years when the next codex/wave of models come out.  In twenty years, if you show a gamer your 40k army, you might get a snicker replaced with a respectful "Wow, retro..."  The models and the army itself will be dated.  But a FoW army will be instantly recognizable as a World War II army.  World War II isn't going to change its "fluff" anytime soon.  Warhammer 40k, despite the protestations that the advance of Imperial technology is static, will continue to evolve, increasingly annoying us old timers with its incessant retconning.

From everything I've heard, players like the rules better than 40k.  FoW does have advantages in the rules department as the scope of the game is limited.  It doesn't have to worry about more than a dozen different types of armies, each with a unique playstyle, sci-fi weapons, monsters, and psychic abilities.  Given the incredible variety of units and abilities in 40k, perhaps we should cut the GW rules writers some slack--as their rules have to handle all of that.

But there are downsides.  There is little in the way of conversion opportunities in FoW.  If I want to be historically accurate, I can't take a King Tiger tank and model side sponsons with additional 76mm guns on it.  Yes, I can convert a M4A1 Sherman into a M4A3 "Easy Eight", but I can't strike out on my own and make something unique.  The same goes for paint schemes.  In 40k, you can paint models essentially any way you want.  In FoW, you are restricted to the historical paint schemes.  If you paint your models incorrectly, some realism nazi (no pun intended) will get on your case.  "Great job on that model, but I'm sure you realize that the Panzer IV Ausf. G only had that paint scheme on the Eastern Front prior to 1944, and you're clearly using it during a Normandy Campaign.  Tsk tsk."  Will all players be like that?  Certainly not.  But they're out there.
Still, these disadvantages are not showstoppers.  FoW has a lot going for it, and in learning about the game and building your army, you learn more about history.  The miniatures themselves are improving in quality--I'm really liking the look of the Plastic Soldier Company's offerings--and with time the selection will be growing as well.

Knowing what a perfectionist I am though, I know that I'll want to do a lot of planning before I run out and buy some miniatures.  I'll want to field a specific unit at a specific time period, and equip it properly.  I won't be able to paint anything until I have the correct paint schemes and camouflage patterns down, so it looks like I'll have to be purchasing some Osprey modelling guides as well:

So it looks like that some purchases down the road are all but inevitable.  I'll get the rulebook and give some thought as to what time period/army I would want to collect/play, and hold off a bit on the miniatures least for now.


ColKillgore said...

I have enjoyed playing FOW for years and it has helped me learn a great deal about WWII.
Don't worry about the rivet counters telling you your model is incorrect for the time period you are playing.

Admiral Drax said...

Those Osprey guides are things of beauty. I've always said that if I win the lottery I will buy the entire range, but I've never actually committed to one.

The rules are blinding, mate (though your point about the comparative straightforwardness of them does, of course, stand), but I do get your point about the lack of painting and modelling options...

...that said, I've never ever enthused about making 40K terrain, but I find myself excited by the prospect of crafting a FoW board as a project!

suneokun said...

The lack of modelling options is a good point ... but not an overwhelming one for me. What I'm really excited about is the scale and the impact on tactics.

suneokun said...

Oh and thanks for the 1-up!

Admiral Drax said...

My British Late War Rifle Coy arrived today after I found it dirt cheap on eBay.

Not only does the company come with a 'Warrior' upgrade (CSM Stan Hollis, VC), it also came with a spare base and two spare infantry bods and three small bits of metal scenery (treetrunks) to use on the bases.


Not much chance of that with GW, eh?

Plus, I'm very impressed with the range of poses you get.

Now all I have to do is (a) remove my own bodyweight in flash, (b) paint the buggers, and then (c) watch as they all get very fluffily mown down by the blatantly superior enemy forces.

Just like playing Guard.