Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Newbie Zone: Rotny's First Look at Flames of War

(Hey everyone, let's give a big round of applause to Rotny Vana for his first post!!)

Hello everyone, I’m Rotny Petr Vana and I’m happy to be able to join to small but growing crew of contributors on Throck’s excellent blog. I thought I would take some time to properly introduce myself and give a bit of insight into my decision to join Flames of War.

While I’m a total Newb to FoW, I have been gaming for over a decade now. I started with Warhammer Fantasy from GW before I was able to even grasp the rules much to the dismay of the veterans, I’m sure, but hey, we all have to be Miggins [ed note: miggins = local slang for very young wargamers] sometime right?. 

I used to summer in the Czech Republic, and when I arrived one year my friends had started this cool new hobby which involved painting fantasy miniatures. I was hooked immediately, and have since outlived them as the only remaining hobbyist from the group. But miniatures wargaming hit two chords for me simultaneously that has ensured a lifelong love. 

First, I grew up watching my grandfathers (on both sides) paint model airplanes and trains. I was always fascinated in how they managed to put these kits together, then meticulously paint and decal them, displaying them proudly.

Second, as probably most kids, growing up on Tolkien and other fantasy. To make a long story short, it was not long before I became an avid modeler/gamer, and now regularly play Warhammer of any stripe, Warmachine/Hordes and above all War of the Ring. But you don’t want hear me ramble about my childhood memories, so let’s get on with it.

Why Flames of War?
Flames of War is a game I’ve been eyeing for some time. I’d see people playing on elaborate tables with fantastically painted armies, and thought “this is something I could get into.” I have always been into historical wargaming (whether that be Warhammer Ancients or WWII based games), but never took the plunge because I never had opponents. Finally, when my gaming group started investing, I knew it was only a matter of time. Growing up on stories from WWII (my grandparents lived in Czechoslovakia during the war, and have some amazing tales to tell), and having a long time fascination with Tanks in general, I knew this would be a good fit. A reasonable start up cost, a few friendly gamers willing to grease the wheels and a read through the rulebook, and there’s no looking back now.

More after the break!

What Army?
There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to play a Soviet Tank army, the T-34 is one of my favourite tanks aesthetically, and such an iconic machine of the war. The problem was, I wasn’t too keen on playing actual Soviets. To solve this, I decided to explore some of the other peoples fighting under the Red Army on the Eastern Front. Immediately I thought of the Czechoslovak II. Army Corps, and independent army which fought across Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary and eventually took part in the liberation of Czechoslovakia itself. That would be a good fit. Most people just remember ’38, and don’t realize that the Czech army actually fought on both fronts, forming independent brigades under the British and Soviet Armies, both nominally under the command of the Government in Exile in London. I did some historical research on the historical Corps order of battle, and found a winner: The 1stCzechoslovak Independent Tank Brigade. A Soviet armed non-Soviet army full of T-34’s. Jackpot! For my list, I went to Red Bear and decided on a Guards Tankovy Batalon. The Czech’s were well trained soldiers, armed with the latest equipment and noted for their bravery and fearlessness by Marshal Konev himself, so the list seemed fitting.

Where did I start?
I figured I would start simple. I took a look at what I even needed to field a ‘legal’ Guards Tankovy: 1 Hq tank and 2 companies of tanks. With that in mind, I invested in a couple boxes of PSC T-34’s (which are not only a great deal financially, but give you the option for the 76 turrent for when I expand and choose to play other Briefings). That gave me 11 tanks, and some points to spare. So then I also picked up some Battlefront Tankodesatniki, so I could field a 1000 pt. starter army, which is simple but good enough to learn the rules and get a hang of 15mm tank warfare.

First experiences of battle?
Well, my first outings have not been very successful (as you can in previous posts) but very educational. In my first game, a simple learn to play, I learned the basic mechanics of FoW and started to understand the importance of tactics and trickery: using cover, getting into advantageous positions, a little luck of the dice, standard wargaming fare…

For my second battle, I took the plunge. We decided to take off the training wheels and do a report under live fire. It was a total rout! But again, I learned a lot of valuable lessons. First: if you want to do combined arms, you better know what you’re doing. My lack of experience with infantry got a lot of boys killed quite ingloriously. If this was real life, I’d have a lot of angry mothers on my tail. But it taught me what infantry is good for and what it isn’t. Good: holding objectives. Bad: Trying to assault a full entrenched PanzerGren Platoon off an objective without any kind of support. Fair enough, lesson learned. Full Strelkovy Batalon or bust it is. Second: Tanks are great, but you need a lot of them because you WILL die on the way in. A unit of 3 German KittyKats is enough to stop you cold. So… More Armor. Third: Your army must be able to support itself. This will require more games to get the hang of it and try out various force combinations. Finally: Fearless does not mean fearless. You will fail motivation checks, you will run away. Fearless is more of a guideline really, don’t depend on it.

Where do I want to go from here?
So as I expand my army from 1000 pts to 2000 pts, my choices have become quite clear. If you’re going to do Russian tanks, do Russian tanks. As it stands, for my next jump I’m planning at least 5 more T-34’s, some IS-2’s and then a mix of Heavy Mortars (to pin infantry) and/or Air Support (to keep Tigers, Panthers and Puma’s OH MY! hiding, letting me take the fight to them. More tanks means less motivation checks, so even losing 2-3 from 88 shots still leaves me with 7 armored monsters swarming with riders to take the fight to the enemy. I have to count on losses, therefore I have to have a way to mitigate their effects. The IS-2’s are not only amazing looking, they also pack a pretty big gun. Finally I might be able to scare some of those Jerry tanks enough to keep my opponent thinking. Anything lighter is just gravy: if you can shoot through a Panther you will have no trouble with a Sherman.

So there you have it, a Newbs take on FoW post baby steps. In follow up entries I’ll start to track the development of my army as I paint it up and expand it, as well as more lists and battle reports. And remember, a lot of Bothan spies died to bring you this blog post. Smrt Nemeckym Vrahum!


  1. Cool. Soviet tank armys are a lot of fun to play. Up sizing your platoon size is definitely helpful for Morale checks. It will take longer to get below half all going well. Consider a recce platoon as well. They get a pre turn 1 move, can move another unit forward as well and also help push back an ambush. Recce = awesome.

  2. The Kiwi is right; the BA64 is a cool vehicle that when used right and with the aggressive nature of the Soviet Union you can do no wrong, and it will help you save many T-34's. Having that Recon BA-64's might have saved you the lesson of the 88 gun you got...maybe mayby not..but it will MG Infantry and give second thught to how the enemy attacks your force.

    And dont forget lifting Gone to Ground, a nice tool to get a better firing azmuth on your target.

    Good Luck and keep fighting for the Czech Rodina. pretty soon your game room will sound like a Resturant, as your enemy goes down to defeat crying Check Please!


    von Jeager

  3. Hey Gents, Rotny here!

    Thanks for the comments, first and foremost, and the advice! Everywhere I go I hear a voice on the wind saying to me whispily (?) "Rooootnyyy, you must takeeee the Recce teeeams!" So I'm definitely looking to invest in some BA-64's, they look cool and I know for a fact the Czechs used 'em. Right now I'm looking at expanding my T34 units, Just ordered some IS-2's (I know the SU-100 or ISU-122 is tactically superior, but I just love the IS-2), getting some Decoy Panther A's. From there I'm thinking some of the Rota Razvedki units to start building up the infantry wing of my army: PSC Russian infantry and heavy weapons, Spetznaz, captured Halftracks, Artillery and Sturmovik's. One step at a time. :)

    Thanks again for the comments!