V4: 12 Months, 8 Books and Counting

V4 Flames Of War  V4: 12 Months, 8 Books and Counting
A year ago we launched V4 to the world. It was the culmination of many man hours of work throughout the Design Studio, and the entire company. It was fair to say that like all new products that we release there was a mix of excitement and trepidation about how it would be received, especially given the (literally) game changing nature of V4. Now we find ourselves 12 months down the track with tens of thousands of games having been played and more tweets, comments and posts than we could ever hope to track, as well as small mountain of books and models in the hands of new players. We wanted to take a assessment on where V4 sits right now and where we thought it was going, and of course share it with you, our community.

Where Did We Start
V4 was all about two things at its core; returning to Mid War, a period that we love but thanks to the in-depth coverage of Late and Early War had been left alone for so long. Secondly it was about making sure our Late and Early War players didn’t miss the opportunity to come on the V4 journey with us, whilst keeping all the armies they have lovingly built over the past decade.

Mid War
The Mid War Rulebook was our chance to return to the sands of North Africa and eventually the grassy steppes of the Eastern Front after so many years taking players on a journey from Normandy to Berlin, and the Blitzkrieg of Poland and France to Barbarossa and beyond. The Rulebook was specifically designed to solely focus on this period making Flames Of War and Mid War more accessible to new players (more on this later).

Flames Of War Rulebook V4 
Desert Rats Along with the new rulebook we also released Desert Rats and Afrika Korps. These two books brought a core of the British and German armies from V2 up to date and included a wealth of options for players to try out. The Desert Rats book focused on the most mobile aspects of the British army with the Cruiser tanks and Motor Company, whilst Afrika Korps brought a mix Panzers and the unique Afrika Rifle Company to the game.
During the design work for V4 and these two books we were also aware that whilst we wanted to keep the range of options in these books straight forward for new or casual players, there still needed to be scope for existing gamers that longed for the mix of special rules and varieties of Formations found in previous Mid War books. This was where Command Cards came in. These optional packs gave us the scope to introduce a wider variety of options, including some too complex or niche to go in the Army Book. Afrika Korps Command Cards 
As a team we are immensely proud of these three books and associated products but it would be fair to say we would have loved to include even more in them, such as Sherman tanks for the British and Panzergrenadiers for the Germans. Unfortunately, there is only so much design time available and only so many plastic kits we can make at any one time. Luckily tomorrow is another day and with V4 here to stay we were able to plan for these in the future.

The Flames Of War, 1939-41 and 1944-45 Rulebook and Special Rules and Warriors, 1939-41 and 1944-45 Book
That is clearly quite a mouthful, so let’s just refer to them as the Early and Late War Rulebooks…

V4 EW and LW Rulebook

As gamers we found ourselves wanting to move from the old V3 rules to new and much more streamlined V4 rules but saw all of the armies that we had built over the years and wanted to find some way to keep playing with them. The answer that immediately came to mind were these Early and Late War Rulebooks. These two books were given away for free to existing customers and enabled people to start playing V4 without having to buy a new book or any new models.

For our Veteran players this gave them the opportunity to keep playing with everything that had under V4 or stick with V3 and wait for us to work our way through Mid War when we would inevitably turn our attention back to the beaches of Normandy and beyond.

For our newer players wanting to skip Mid War and head straight in to the later years of the war they definitely proved to be a little confusing which is why we released Armies Of Late War.

Taking a critical look back at these two books, they achieved that we wanted them to do for our Veteran gamers, that being the chance to come along to V4. However, they did cause some confusion amongst some of our player base despite our best efforts to explain their purpose.

Americans, Italians and (coming soon) more British
Fighting First brought the mighty US Army back to Mid War (I still remember reading Old Ironsides cover to cover many years ago) and covered everything that a player needed to field a Rifle Company, Armoured Rifle Company or Tank Company on the battlefield. The feedback we received from players in the leadup to this book was amazing and it was certainly the best V4 book at the time.

Avanti gave us the chance to cover the Italians, an unfairly maligned army when it comes to histories treatment of their fighting prowess. Thinking back it is hard to remember if the Design Team were more excited about bringing the Italians into V4, or having the chance to make a plastic M14/41 tank and Semovete assault gun!

Avanti (FW244) 
Armoured Fist

Next month sees the release of Armoured Fist. With so many new models to design, as well as so many options to cover for the British in North Africa we wanted to split them into two books. Armoured Fist gives us the chance now to add the heavy infantry tanks that have such a specialist role on the battlefield along with the much-requested Rifle Company and Sherman Company.

If you haven't done so yet you can check out Phil's notes on the new book here...

You can also find out about our offer for customers that have previously purchased Desert Rats here...

Plastics, El Alamein and Army Deals, Card Packs and Organised Play
The release of V4 has not been just about new books but a host of other products focused on making Flames Of War an easier proposition to get in to for the new or casual player. On the miniatures side we’ve kept up a staggering pace of plastics design with a new tank released almost every month since the start of V4, not to mention all of the new plastic guns and infantry.

To ensure the first steps into the Flames Of War hobby for new players is as easy as possible we made it a priority to ensure that we had a starter set that was easily accessible and covered all the basics of getting into Flames Of War. Whilst many Veteran gamers loved Open Fire and its pile of figures, the new El Alamein box was welcomed as a straight forward way to start playing the game. The Army Deals that have been subsequently released with each book have also been focused on providing a great foundation to begin playing. El Alamein 
Fighting First Unit Cards (FW243U)

In response to requests from our existing players that were dusting off old armies after years of sitting in a cupboard we released Unit Card Packs for each Army Book. For these veterans wanting to come back it was as simple as picking up a rulebook, a Unit Card Pack and (optionally) the Army Book. All they needed to supply was the army, opponent and a place to play.

Lastly, we have taken the first steps down the path of providing players (and retailers) with more support when it comes to Organised Play. For those people that have not come across this concept it is really about giving people a reason to go to their local store or club and just play some games. For the more competitive players there is the chance to even win some cool gamer swag that isn’t available anywhere else.

Armies Of Late War
Armies Of Late War (AOLW) deserves a special mention all of its own as this was not a product on our original plan. Instead it came about as a direct result of feedback from customers, both retailers and players looking for a simple way to play Late War without having to go through the process of converting an army over from a V3 book. It was also designed to help the newer players wanting to play V4 that didn’t have the same interest or passion (yet) for the Mid War period that we are currently focused on.

AOLW took some of the most common, core, or interesting lists from the V3 books and V4-ised them. It converted all of the model stats over from V3 to V4 using the same process as prescribed in the Early and Late War Rulebooks, whilst integrating the changes made during Early and Late War Update.

For those people wanting to field a list not covered it was still possible to use the V3 books and manually update them, but for the rest of us looking to run a simple option it ticked the box.

 Armies Of Late War

So What Does The Future Hold?
From El Alamein to Kursk and back again
As previously mentioned next month sees the release of Armoured Fist, then afterwards we take a short diversion back to 1985 with the release of Free Nations for our Team Yankee players.

However later in the year we head back to the Eastern Front with the release of Iron Cross and Enemy At The Gates, two new books focusing on the fighting in and around Stalingrad. These books will be filled with city fighting flavour, plenty of new models and some large plastic city ruins that will knock your socks off!

Iron Cross

The Eastern Front gets a second bite at the cherry when we cross over to 1943 and the Battle of Kursk. Two more books covering the Germans Panzergrenadiers and late armour options verses the Soviets that can count on support from the west with Lend-Lease equipment and their own late designs (like SU-85 assault guns and T-70 tanks).

Last (but certainly not least) on our list is a Paratrooper book that Wayne is about to start work on shortly and also the Axis Allies, the Finns, Hungarians and Romanians. They are definitely on our plan but with so much ground to cover there is still a way to go for our diehard Axis Ally players.

Forces Of War
Forces Of War V4 (and Team Yankee) is coming. The changes to the way that armies are now built, combined with a desire to make sure that the new Forces was developed in the way we wanted meant it has taken longer to get to this point.

Forces will start by covering the latest books and then progressively move backwards through the book catalogue.

Continued Community Engagement
This has been a hot topic of discussion around the Flames Of War community and if we you have been keeping up with current events you will know about our plans to transition from the old forum to Facebook. Much like the move away from Yahoo Groups many years ago this has been subject to a little controversy but we intent to prove via our actions that the Design Team are more accessible now than ever before. Just try tagging some of us and see what happens…

Another thing we did this past year was the Early and Late War Update. Recognising that the conversion from of V3 books over to V4 resulted in some oddities we engaged with the players to review if a solution was required, and then what the best solution would be. It was great to be able to approach our players and come up with a solution that (for the most part) fixed players concerns.
Finally, and this is one of our favourites, we have been able to get that little bit closer to the community through our regular product live launches. There is something satisfying about inviting people (virtually) in to the office to share in the excitement we have each time a book comes out. We are currently dreaming up some new ways to keep you entertained every couple of months as a new book comes out. Live Launches 

Still Reading?
So there you have it, in a nutshell that’s a quick look back at the past year and the launch of Version 4. Hopefully V4 had something for everyone, changed the way people saw (and played) Flames Of War, gave people a chance to try out new things or dust off old armies, and laid the groundwork for another exciting few years as we continue to build on the success that is V4.

The next 12 months is going to be even busier than the past twelve so hold on tight, it’s going to be one heck of a ride.

~The Battlefront Team