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Flames Of War: Third Edition The Rules
by Phil Yates, Games Designer.

In the five years since the second edition of the Flame Of War rules came out, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder what I’d do differently ‘next time around’ and came to the conclusion that the answer was ‘not a lot’. Somehow though, I still managed to spend a year, hopefully making the game cleaner and simpler, and more fun to play.

Read Phil's Stepping Up to Version Three here...
Download the Third Edition Quick Reference sheets here...
Transport vehicles are much more useful in the new version of Flames of War. Wheeled vehicles and wagons move considerably faster (50% faster for trucks!), and they and half-tracks move much faster on roads.

Some teams have better saves now. Gun teams get a 3+ save when gone to ground, while recce vehicles always have a 3+ save. Portee guns with gun shields don’t have a save, but the enemy needs a firepower test to knock them out.
The focus for the third edition of Flames Of War is firmly on making the game easier to learn and play. The area that seemed to create the most questions from second-edition players was assaults, so that was one of my first targets for the new edition of the rules. Fortunately, a long discussion on the way home from a tournament provided the inspiration for most of the answers.

The first problem I tackled was deciding who was actually involved in the assault. The best answer turned out to be the simplest—anyone close enough to the assaulting teams. This makes it far easier for beginners to work out who they will
actually be fighting and reduces the amount of fiddling around considerably.

The second step was to have all of the defending platoons take their motivation test to counterattack with the same die roll, so defending with parts of two platoons is no longer better than defending with a single platoon.

The new rules simplify charging into contact. Now, once the closest team has charged, the main requirement is to maximise the number of enemy teams contacted by charging teams.

Individual teams can now move at the double. As long as they don’t get shot at, the rest of the platoon is unaffected.
Moving at the Double
I also wanted to clean up what happens at the end of an assault as well, breakthrough assaults are gone. Instead, the consolidation rules require the defender to get out of the way of the victors when they consolidate. If they can’t get out of the way, they have to surrender.

Another issue that needed work was the role of anti-tank guns. Under the new rules, assaulting tanks are forced to fall back and abandon the assault if they take two casualties (destroyed or bailed out) from defensive fire. In addition, guns can use their normal anti-tank rating against the side armour rating of assaulting tanks when they fight in assaults. The net result is that tanks think much more carefully before charging into a nest of anti-tank guns! As a
counterbalance, the assaulting teams can choose to target the guns to eliminate the biggest threat first.

It took a lot of playtesting to sort out the details, but in the end I think we came up with a much simpler and clearer set of assault rules. All of Casey’s diagrams certainly make it easier to figure out how it should work as well.

With assaults sorted out, I turned my attention to transports. I wanted to make them more easier to use. A big part of the solution was to make dismounting far more flexible. Now guns can fire at full rate of fire or fire artillery bombardments
after unlimbering. This makes it worth limbering up and moving the guns, knowing that next turn they will be back in action. This is especially so with most transport vehicles being much faster, particularly on roads, in the new rules.

Using transports is also much easier as they are removed from the table when they weren’t needed and brought back again when they are. Combined with ignoring any transport casualties for morale checks, this reduces the risks associated with transports immensely.

The rules for charging into contact are more flexible and intuitive with the main requirement being to maximise the number of enemy teams contacted.
Reconnaissance got a makeover too with the rules dropping from five pages to three, despite bigger and better diagrams. The biggest change was to the disengagement rules. The basic rules on how to disengage from shooting are the same, but after disengaging teams cannot move or take an objective, but are free to shoot. Disengaging from artillery, assaults, and aircraft have all been removed, as has compulsory disengaging from enemy shooting.

Recce teams are also more flexible in revealing gone-to-ground teams now. Each team picks an enemy platoon and reveals it on passing a skill test. This allows the platoon to do more than one thing at a time. As gun teams now have a 3+ save when they are gone to ground, this is a particularly useful ability. This was a result of long experiments to allow
anti-guns to survive long enough to do their job. After rejecting some ideas as too complex and others as either ineffective or just too good, we decided to allow gun crews to spread out and hide when not manning their gun, earning
a better save until they go into action. Improved saves extend to softskin recce vehicles like jeeps too, making them a
viable alternative to armoured cars.

The shooting rules survived the process almost unchanged. The few things we did change were the rate of fire of moving or pinned down weapons which is now half of their full rate of fire. This really benefited light and heavy machine-guns as we allowed them to shoot while moving like other weapons. While we were at it we also changed MG teams to allow them two shots when pinned down, making them very good at defence!

"It took a lot of playtesting to sort out the details, but … we came up with a much simpler and clearer set of assault rules."
We also adjusted the special rules for some of the more unusual tanks. Moving bunker busters can’t hit moving vehicles, focusing them more tightly on their historical strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, moving Soviet and French tanks gain a lot of flexibility as they can now shoot their main guns, albeit with a +1 penalty to hit.

The artillery rules are also more flexible with any army that can muster a bombardment of nine or more weapons getting a devastating bombardment template! The smoke rules have also been simplified and made the same for both artillery and direct fire.

The new assault rules simplify the process of determining who is involved in an assault. Teams within 8”/20cm can shoot in defensive fire and counterattack.
Defending Platoons
As well as the rules changes, I wanted to provide a greater range of missions in the new edition. Now there are twelve standard missions, up from six in the old rules, with all of the old missions included in an updated form. Perhaps the biggest changes to the old missions is the ability of all teams to start gone to ground in every mission. Combined with the ability to stay gone to ground while digging in, this latter change really helps infantry at the start of many missions.

Overall, the new edition of the rules combines the best of the Flames Of War that players have come to know with changes that improve the balance of the game and make it easier to learn and play.

Flame-throwers are very effective against infantry and guns, but need to pass a firepower test to bail out a fully-armoured tank.
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Terrain with Phil Yates >>>

Last Updated On Tuesday, October 1, 2013 by Blake at Battlefront