Battlegroup vs Flames of War - A Comparison of WW2 Rulesets

Battlegroup vs Flames of War - A Comparison of WW2 Rulesets

Postby Joe » 01 Jun 2017

Hey everyone, I put together a video that some of you might be interested to watch/listen to while you paint. Its an in depth comparison between FoW and Battlegroup that doesn't pit them against each other but instead shows that each offer a very fun yet very different experience on the table top. It also shows that your 15mm WW2 collections can be used in multiple systems, stretching your hobby dollar. I hope those of you that are interested / curious about both game systems will find this useful. As always, Enjoy the Show!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaX477ol4yo
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Re: Battlegroup vs Flames of War - A Comparison of WW2 Rules

Postby dead1 » 02 Jun 2017

Good work Interesting stuff and really well presented.

I did disagree with some of it:

I totally disagree that Flames of War as faster paced and less of grind - really depends on the armies you play and terrain density. I used to play Soviets and those games were a grind. In fact most games involving large numbers infantry were really long especially given V3 assault rules. We had to put in a 2.5 hour limit.

Longest game we ever played was FOW Eastern Front 1500 points - the Russian anti-armour units died early and then then Germans spent hours blasting the Russian infantry to little effect. We started at 6 pm and finished at 1 am. Boring as hell and hence the time limit.

Another example of grind was anytime we faced the standard British builds - the Brits brought 8 ATGS and 8 25 pounders with their 2 infantry units as well as some tanks (often Churchill Crocodiles in Late War or standard Churchills in Mid War (Italy and North Africa). Trying to peel back 16 anti tank guns (25 pounders are on table and have reasonable anti-tank capability) was a chore especially when they contribute to defensive fire for infantry (so your ATGs fire over the infantry at the same ROF as an infantry team with an LMG).

For those who don't know - in Flames of War assault is about the only way of dislodging dug in infantry of an objective. Shooting them doesn't work - the infantry hunker down and do nothing and gain a good save and are hard to hit. You then place ATGs behind the infantry. They can shoot tanks or infantry at same ROF as a rifle team with LMG. When you assault one unit, all unpinned units within 8 inches of assaulting unit can shoot.

Thus you charge an infantry platoon and then also face enemy fire from any model within 8 inches of the attacking unit. 5 hits will pin the assaulting infantry unit. So you have the infantry platoon open with up to 16 dice (average of 8 stands at ROF2) and then their ATGs will open up with same ROF. Defending tanks can also open up (though they're more likely to die than dug in ATGs/infantry)

This is where the drudgery opens up. You have to try to pin up to 3-4 units to get a successful assault off. It gets worse with large infantry units with integral AT (eg American mechanised infantry with 4 bazookas).


We also found terrain density + emphasis on assault kills FOW speed (this may change in V4 that speeds up movement).

Having said that some games of Flames of War were over in 10 minutes especially if they involved Mid War tank lists that emphasised medium tanks which were extremely costly yet still vulnerable. Shortest games were literally 1-2 turns.

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You didn't go into some of the weird gaminess of FOW - e.g. Japanese with swords, cavalry buffs, weird US Tank Destroyer rules, special rules for just about every Sherman variant etc.

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I never agreed with Flames of War as a cinematic game. It just doesn't do it. It's more like Napoleonics with tanks and less infantry.

Battlegroup is far more cinematic.
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Re: Battlegroup vs Flames of War - A Comparison of WW2 Rules

Postby Joe » 02 Jun 2017

It seems like a lot of the issues you had could be marked up to the meta you played in. It seems like you played with a lot of people who abused the lists and gamed the system, I don't have that issue here so I have had a much different experience with the game. Don't get me wrong, there is some wonkiness with some of the rules and some of the special rules are a bit off the wall but as a whole I don't think people normally have the experience you have had playing FoW. I'm not trying to say which was / is better. I'm just trying to briefly explain to people how they compare to each other and what they might expect to get out of each game system once the dice start to fly. I think I would have lost my voice pretty quickly if I tried to break down every rule in each game and explain all the pluses and minuses.
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Re: Battlegroup vs Flames of War - A Comparison of WW2 Rules

Postby dead1 » 02 Jun 2017

Joe wrote:It seems like a lot of the issues you had could be marked up to the meta you played in. It seems like you played with a lot of people who abused the lists and gamed the system, I don't have that issue here so I have had a much different experience with the game.


I really don't like the concept of meta. It implies there's a right and wrong way of playing the game.

We weren't abusing the system. We were playing the game as it was designed to be played. The system allowed those kind of army set ups - they were legal. The tactics were legitimate given the ruleset. The game promotes setting up of defensive positions!

As for artillery, I would have taken off board 15cm sFH18s but didn't have a choice in the matter. Of course I'll direct fire them at tanks if I have the opportunity - after all in FOW they pack the same AP punch as a Flak 36 88cm gun and actually autokill most medium tanks if they hit unlike a Flak36 which still has to roll a 3+ "Firepower" roll!

Tank versus tank games were really quick. We preferred infantry games so the slog fest.

It's doesn't help the average points game is 1,500-1,750 yet a platoon of infantry is merely 100-200 points on average. Leaves a lot of room for tanks and artillery. And tanks are cheap especially in late war.

Tank on tank was fast, but any amount of infantry would slow the game right down.

We also played the infantry Aces (Cassino) campaign which plays at really small point - about 500-700 or so with an emphasis on infantry. The defenders generally won because at such low points the attacker lacked the ability to dig out or pin the enemy infantry which in turn made assault impossible.

For those not in the know, a stationary veteran unit in cover can only be hit on a 6+ in 0-16 inch range bracket, and cannot be hit outside of 16 inches. You could use a recce unit to reduce this to 5+ provided you roll to "see" the enemy unit. When you have a platoon and a bit of infantry, it gets really hard to do any damage or pin an infantry unit.



Don't get me wrong, there is some wonkiness with some of the rules and some of the special rules are a bit off the wall but as a whole I don't think people normally have the experience you have had playing FoW. I'm not trying to say which was / is better. I'm just trying to briefly explain to people how they compare to each other and what they might expect to get out of each game system once the dice start to fly. I think I would have lost my voice pretty quickly if I tried to break down every rule in each game and explain all the pluses and minuses.


I was merely trying to explain why it's not a "faster play" system than Battlegroup. Speed depends on the circumstances - terrain and forces involved.

Indeed we had to implement a 2.5 hour limit to the game. The FOW'ers were usually the last guys to finish at the club before that rule and played long after everyone else had finished and packed up for the night!

I've played Battlegroup Kursk, Fall of Reich (Eastern Front) and Overlord. Our Kursk and Fall of the Reich games played a lot faster than Overlord due to terrain density. It makes sense given terrain in Kursk and Hungary is considerably more open than in Normandy.

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Having said all of above, WWII gaming at my local club is dead.

Me and my bro play Battlegroup and I might have another taker. Another guy is getting into Bolt Action (he will have to go to the club in another town to get a game). There's only 1 regular FOW player left and the poor bugger has had to take up X-Wing to get a game. 3 years ago FOW was the biggest game at the club. But people moved away or mainly gave it up (like me and maybe half a dozen other players) and there's not been much fresh blood. Bizarrely 40K is making a come back :P
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Re: Battlegroup vs Flames of War - A Comparison of WW2 Rules

Postby pappola » 02 Jun 2017

Hi Joe, you done a "fatal error".
You talk or righterouness of Trump in the house of Putin, or viceversa.
Haihaihaiahi.
Big trouble!!!
Ciao
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Re: Battlegroup vs Flames of War - A Comparison of WW2 Rules

Postby Joe » 02 Jun 2017

Lol pappola, I knew when I put this video out I was going to catch heat from both sides when I posted it in their respective groups. I tried to be as objective as possible as well. The funny thing is that Battlegroup has turned into our go to game for WW2 and I only play FoW at the gaming club with the "old guard" now. This is the price I have to pay occasionally for putting out content based on talking points :)
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Re: Battlegroup vs Flames of War - A Comparison of WW2 Rules

Postby Joe » 02 Jun 2017

Dead1, looking back "abused" may have not been the right word of choice :) You totally played within the rules which allows for lists like that to hit the table but you and your friends can curb that stuff with a gentleman's agreement.

I think with FoW's simple stat lines you get into a lot of issues like the one you mentioned with the Flak and Arty having the same AT values. From a design standpoint I think it fits what they wanted to do as a game. From the realism standpoint it forces the player to suspend their disbelief a bit more, which is pretty common in that rule set. That is why I prefer BG after playing a few games, it fits what I want out of a game much more than FoW at the moment.

I think the "faster play" depends on the factors you mentioned and the type of player you're lined up against. Our group tends to lean toward maneuvering more with their infantry so we don't get to much of the slogfest of digging out infantry, but it does happen and its terrible when it does. I like that BG doesn't allow digging in and that you have to use terrain to provide your cover or buy those foxholes as part of your list. It really prevents a lot of those issues from popping up.

40k / 30k is king here too. Its pretty tough to pull people away from that at the moment and I assume its going to get harder with the new edition coming out. I may need to get into Komissar mode and recruit people at gun point!
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