Glenn Kidd's blog

Flames of War

Flames of War

In the past year I’ve heard a lot of buzz about ‘Flames of War’, some of it good, some of it not; in addition, I’ve been told many of the posts on the miniatures page are less than favorable. For me--I like the game. Yes, it makes no excuses about being a game, and perhaps this is one of the reasons I like the game. The ‘Flames of War’ folks make no apologies about their game--what they have done is to try and make their game fun and exciting, and I think they did.

Reflecting on ‘Flames of War’, I believe this game has done more for historical war-gaming than any game I recall. The only game I ever remember having a following near this large was WRG. The number of books and its web support Flames of War has is remarkable--I can only envy this.

Why Fog of War cards?

One of the new concepts in ‘Command Decision Test of Battle’ is the ‘Fog of War’ cards (FoW). I’m not sure which is more controversial, the points in ‘Test of Battle’ or the ‘Fog of War’ cards? In a previous article I discussed ‘Test of Battle’ points and how it all came about. This discussion addresses perhaps my favorite aspect of ‘Command Decision Test of Battle’.

The reasons I put the FoW cards in the game has to do with my view of combat--these cards embody that spirit and, more specifically, how combat is not like chess. Some view combat strategy and tactics as a pipe smoking event--study the board and make your move. This might be true for grand strategy but for the grunts in the field it is hardly a fun time. With all the noise, dirt, exhaustion, confusion and fear, it’s a miracle we ever have a clear depiction from victor or vanquished. Yes, we are playing a game, and our little men are good soldiers and always obey their orders, but I want something else. No, I don’t want the noise, dirt, exhaustion, confusion and fear, but I do want to model the impact. I also wanted to model the bravery and initiative of a select few. I almost forgot, did I mention situational awareness? Some of us think soldiers have a clear picture of what’s going on around them. Perhaps at times they do, but that distance is far shorter than we might think. In addition, with all this information, it’s a miracle they can make clear decisions about this information. For me, the simplest way to model all of this is with the FoW cards.

Chronicles on the “Test of Battle”

If you have the rules [Command Decision: Test of Battle or CDTOB] or have seen them, you may have noticed the section on ‘Test of Battle’ (ToB). If you haven’t, what follows below is a brief description as to how ToB works. ToB allows players to create their own ‘Battle Groups’ which they can personalize within the constraints of the rules. With these ‘Battle Groups’ you and your opponent may then play a ToB game.

Overview
Before you may begin a ToB game each player must agree on period, then they must decide who uses what army. This shouldn’t normally be done at the last minute because it will delay the game with time spent devising your ‘Battle Groups’. Next players must agree on terrain--maps are included but players may create their own battlefield. After players have their army and a battlefield, they draw a mission. Each mission states which part of his army he may deploy on the battlefield and which part of his army arrives later as reinforcements. In addition, some missions allow for a flank march, and one modifies the end of game die roll. Each mission defines your objectives--that is to say, what you need to do to win the game. Neither player knows what the opponent’s mission might be but at the end of turn 5 both sides reveal what their mission is. The game is played until turn 8--at the end of turn 8 a die is rolled for the end of the game. If the die roll equals or exceeds the end of turn number the game is over. If not, the game continues until the next turn, and the end of game roll is repeated each turn until the game is over.

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