Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Flames of War - a trip to the twilight zone.

Last Sunday, I was able to head down to the club for an hour and watch a game of Flames of War. So my impressions? It is a very pretty game. The standard of modeling and terrain by the club members was excellent.

And that's about it. The table size was heavily compressed with off board artillery and front line troops all mashed together. I can understand the need for a logarithmic ground scale to allow off board artillery on board but it failed when in one game where Italian off board artillery came under fire from Aussie HMGs and in another where a Panther platoon drove off the main battle field directly into the Russian artillery park with no delay (poor Katushya).

The ground scale had further effects on the mechanics. I saw JS2s firing on Panzer IVs at a model distance of about a hundred yards. the resolution counted side armour factors, movement and cover into the equation. Mis-match between model size and ground scale is a given in most games but the distances on the table were more of the kind used in games where one model represents a platoon or company rather than one tank yet single vehicle combat mechanics were used. It just didn't look right.

Another scale issue was that of the Italian tankette armour. It was up against Universal Carriers but had the advantage of being closed topped. There are several levels of regular armour ranging from soft for no armour, through 0, 1 and 2 to 6 (I think) for Tiger level armour. However, there are only two or three top armour ratings with zero being open top and 1 being the minimal level of top armour. The end result was that the Semoventes with zero all round main armour had 1 armour on top - very odd. A final bit of strangeness was the Australian assault on the Italian trench line. The Australians slaughtered the Italians to a man then ran away leaving the tench vacant.  I understand the "win the firefight but fail the morale check" approach but again it didn't seem right to me.

So what good points were there?  It was fast playing, it was pretty and most importantly, the guys playing it - especially a young lad out with his dad - were having fun.

The verdict - Not my cup of tea and I'm not going to invest anything in it but if you're looking for quick beer and pretzels World War Two with some miniatures flavour it might be for you.