From Defeat to Victory

German FlaK36 From Defeat to Victory
By Richard Steer

I had been playing Flames Of War for about six months. I had put a lot of effort into painting my troops and was proud of how they looked. I was beginning to learn a few tricks from my more experienced opponents. I was enjoying my gaming, but there was always one frustration at the back of my mind: I had never won a game. I managed to come close once or twice, but seemed to have an amazing ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory time after time. It hung over me like a dark cloud.
The lowest point came at the New Zealand national tournament, NatCon. I played seven games, managed to win one through luck more than anything else, and got thrashed in all the rest. I had a great time and met a lot of awesome people, but it’s kind of demoralising to spend a weekend getting ground into the dust again and again. After the last game of the tournament a couple of experienced gamers took me to one side and we had a chat about what I was doing right and what I could be doing better. Bocage country
Gaming action Something that they really drove home was the need to make a plan. I knew I should be making a plan before each game, but didn’t quite know how to go about it. Without a plan, my attacks lacked direction, my units were incapable of working together and any opponent with better coordination was bound to beat me. Before a game I now have a think about what the enemy’s plan could be, draw a quick sketch map of the table, then write a couple of notes for each of my platoons describing what their task for the game is. This has improved my timing and I’m more focused on the task at hand. The other advantage of writing stuff down is that I’m less likely to forget things!
Another area I was falling down in was concentration of firepower. Concentration of firepower is deciding which target is the greatest threat, and shooting at it enough to make sure that it is killed. I was spreading my shooting across every target I could see, and while I was killing teams, the problem was I wasn’t killing platoons, and victory points in Flames of War are dependant on how many platoons are destroyed. Gaming action
German Panthers When I started concentrating my firepower better, I found that my shooting became much more effective. I realised that the more dice I threw, the more likely I was to hit something. The more hits I scored, the more saves the enemy was likely to fail, and if all those failed saves are from a single platoon, the more likely that unit is to fall below half strength and flee the battle.
The third major point was the need to keep a reserve. Without a reserve, all my units were tied up in the front line and I couldn’t react to any sudden success the enemy had. I learnt that if I held one platoon out of the front line then a breakthrough wouldn’t be as catastrophic. An example how this idea worked was in one game when one of my platoons was overrun by a Russian SMG company.

Wreaked US Halftrack Next turn I hit the SMGs with everything I had to make sure I pinned and weakened them, then assaulted the survivors with my reserve and succeeded in stopping the attack in its tracks. If the reserve hadn’t been there, the Russians would have been free to turn sideways and steamroll over my other front line platoons, and that would have been game over.
To summarise, three key areas of my game needed improving: planning, concentration of firepower and keeping a reserve. Even after I knew what the major problems were, it took time to fix them and I lost several more games in the process, but when it all came together I suddenly started winning! Of course, I’m still learning and I do still get things wrong and lose, but at least I have won and know I can do it again. The cloud has lifted.

~ Richard.
Tiger I E