Monday 22 December 2014

A Change of Scale: From 40k to Flames of War

As a lifelong adherent of all things Warhammer, I've probably been a little guilty of concentrating on the universes created by GW to the cost of the huge amount of other high quality content out there.  Part of the reason for this is that the content written by GW is the richest out there and allows for pretty immersive adventures in 40k and warhammer land, in fact the quality of the content, and to some extent the miniatures, make up for what I think are probably the weakest part of the Games Workshop package: the rules.

As someone who has been playing 40k since the late 1980's, where it was more of a large scale RPG rather than the thing we have nowadays, I've seen the game evolve and develop.  Many things have improved and simplified, we've seen the emergence of a 'tournament' culture with the fascination with winning at all costs over writing a narrative, and now formations, dataslates and the rest. Now I appreciate the need for a company to make money and by effectively monetising individual rules which, while I think is actually very clever from a business point of view, does not attract me in the slightest.   I see 40k starting to lose it's focus and frankly my interest is starting to wane.  Now I have something approaching 10000 points of allied Crimson Fists and Guard, and am in the middle of running a large campaign which is very fun,  so I'm far from abandoning GW, but a break is in order.

After eyeing up several systems over the last few months, including Dystopian Wars (looks incredible, not many people round here play it though), Dropzone Commander (not keen on another sci-fi thing as well as 40k), All Quiet on the Martian Front (again looks incredible but I won't get a game), Deadzone (hate the minis, sorry guys).... I settled on Flames of War, FOW is now an established rule set in it's third edition and it recreates battles in World war 2, the game is more 'beer and pretzels' rather than hardcore historical gaming, whatever that is.  The battles are at the company level, with you fielding several platoons of infantry,  armour, artillery and even strike aircraft.  Owing to the larger scale of the games, the miniatures are smaller at 15mm scale.  This means the rules are more granular, with hits and saves deciding the fates of bases which can contain several actual models, for example infantry bases tend to have 2-4 men per base.

Something that excites me about FOW is the way that suppressive fire, pinning, gone to ground and artillery seem to be represented in a way that might actually be.... realistic.  Now as someone who has never thankfully seen combat, that might seem a weird thing to say, but let's say that the removal of pinning from 7th edition 40k was something that I took quite badly, in fact I was holding out hope that GW were going to enhance this side of the game (gone to ground, pinning etc) to better represent infantry tactics, but I think i'm the only person who thinks like this, in fact I bring it up at my gaming club, and the common counter argument is that 'well 40k is sci fi, it isn't meant to be realistic'.  Well my counter to that is this: suppression was effectively modeled in none other than Epic Armageddon which is (was) an awesome game and one that I still mourn the loss of.  Secondly, while 40k requires a suspension of disbelief to fully enjoy, plausibility is another thing entirely.  Okay, so at this point people start drifting away, or tell me that I think too much... well  I want suppression, and if GW won't provide, I'll go and find it ;)

So the 'Open Fire' box set is on it's way, along with enough reinforcements to bring both axis and allies up to approximately 1000 points.  This isn't 'goodbye' 40k, more of a see you soon, i'll be hanging out with some very fine looking 15mm World war 2 miniatures for the time being.