I have wanted to get into Flames Of War for many years, having a long held yet never fully explored interest in World War Two history. Thankfully, starting to work for Battlefront last year gave me an opportunity to look up close at the rules, the armies and the many different models before committing fully to an army.
However, the huge 300-page rulebook and the vast amount of choice between armies and in the different lists across all the Intelligence Handbooks was a bit daunting and so I never really dipped more than a toe into the game, choosing instead to concentrate on the British in Team Yankee.
So when we were told a new version of Flames Of War was on the horizon, one that was more streamlined in both terms of rules and product range, I was excited to finally begin my World War Two adventures.
Choosing My Army
Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a tendency to jump between different gaming projects fast than Usain Bolt runs 100 metres. This was partly down to every gamers nightmare: the Magpie Syndrome of wanting all the new shinies, but mainly because I have anxiety/depression disorder. Recently diagnosed, one of the symptoms was a need to always look for something new: whether I was reading a book, or playing a game, or even in a job; I would be moving on to the next nearly as soon as I’d started.
But it’s not all bad: In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda described a certain farmboy with a similar condition (“All his life he has looked to the future. Never his mind on where he was. What he was doing!”) - and look how it turned out for him.
Anyway, personal stories aside, I was and am determined to stick to one force for the main part of 2017, building up an army, painting it and gaming with it to learn the nuances of the game.
After a look at both the Afrika Korps and Desert Rats books, I was instantly drawn to the British and their Grant tanks, with their impressive outline of a sturdy solid tank plus their 75mm hull guns and 37mm turret gun, fills both categories.
The second boon for me would be the new plastic Infantry coming out in a few months time.
I loved painting the Mechanised Platoon for Iron Maiden and so I’ll be definitely adding support units made up of the 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade, backed up by lots of Universal Carriers.
Lastly, the Hurricane is such an iconic image from World War Two. I remember building Airfix kits and those balsa-wood planes when I was a kid. I’m really looking forward to getting a flight of these impressive Flying Can Openers with which to destroy my opponents tanks.
Over the coming months, I’ll be dedicating my hobby time to building, collecting and actually playing with a Desert Rats army for Flames Of War (while secretly building a German army on the side, painting two forces for the skirmish game TANKS, and making a start on my Soviet RED THUNDER army for Team Yankee)*. The first selection will be done for the upcoming launch and then each month I’ll add a few more units as I get to grips with the game and the tactics of my British army.
* I said I was trying to maintain focus - but all the shinies, people! All the shinies!
Picking The Army
With the army decided upon, it’s now time to decide which models to take first. We’ve been briefed to build a small starting force up to 60 points and so, with the decision made to build a Grant Armoured Squadron, I took a box each of El Alamein, the new starter set, plus Monty’s Desert Rats army box.
This gave me six Grant tanks, but I needed more. Luckily, Matt was building a Crusader Squadron so we swapped over the tanks, his Grants for my Crusaders meaning I now had an impressive total of 12 Grants.
Building the army was really quick. The compulsory choices I had to take were an HQ Squadron and two Armoured Troops. The Squadron HQ would be at full strength with three Grants for 18 points. Each of the three Troops would also be 18 points each. So, twelve Grants total for 72 points.
This would mean the enemy would have to take out six of my Grants to force a formation Last Stand check, and each Unit would need to have lost two tanks to force a Last Stand check.
In the Monty’s Desert Rats army box you get two anti-tank guns. I chose to make these as 17 pdrs for some support. With their high Anti-tank rating of 12 these should be good at taking out the enemies tanks at a distance.
This brings my army total to 80 points. A nice starting force to learn the rules with.
The timing of 4th Edition Flames Of War couldn’t have been better and I’m really excited to finally be starting my journey into a brand new game.
Over the coming months I’ll share my painting tips, write up some battle reports and take closer looks at each of the units in the game and how they operate.