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Fighting House to House – List Building for Flames Of War City Fighting

Fighting House to House – List Building for Flames Of War City Fighting
with Joe Saunders

By now you are likely familiar with the new city ruins terrain set and are aware of all of the hype surrounding the Festerplatz battles you can have with Bagration Soviet and the coming Bagration: German book.  If you aren’t, then I suggest you go back and look at the previous articles on the city ruins set here  and check out the city fight rules themselves here

The city fighting rule set provides an exciting new way to play Flames of War and introduces a host of new tactics and weapon effects that will influence how you will play urban warfare games. So, if you are ready for bloody house to house fighting (in the 15mm gaming sense), read on and I will share some of my hard-earned army list building knowledge.

A New Approach to Army Lists
The city fighting rules are extremely flexible and can be used with any army list. However, if you want to play on a dense inner-city battlefield you will want to build your force to suit the environment, otherwise you may find your mass tank formations or infantry outclassed by more specialized units. Below we will take a look at some of the nuances of city fighting force composition in 3 different battlefield roles

On the Offense
Playing offensively in city terrain presents some interesting challenges. This mainly is influenced by the fact that all of the terrain is difficult and densely packed so dig in orders cannot be used and tanks lose a lot of mobility. This creates a situation where armour can be quite secondary to infantry. With the rules for sperate “rooms” in play it is easier for infantry to hide from tanks reducing the effects of their long-range weapons. This can be particularly effective because infantry can dodge the attention of attacking tanks by keeping an empty room between them and the attacker. 

Fighting House to House – List Building for Flames Of War City Fighting

Large units of infantry will also have a very hard time in city fighting. Squads of more than 10-12 stands frequently will not fit inside individual buildings resulting in a lot of exposed troops that cannot dig in to compensate.

The result of this is that you need to construct an offensive list with a compact size and flexible weapons in mind when city fighting. It would also be advisable to have some smoke options handy to provide cover for units caught in the open. Here is an example of an American city fighting force I have used to good effect previously:

Fighting House to House – List Building for Flames Of War City Fighting

In this example you have 2 decently armed rifle platoons to advance on the enemy with a mix of weapons for fighting all comers. As a veteran formation they have improved tactics for making blitz moves and are hit on a 4 plus. Most importantly, with demolitions specialists the added flame throwers will make these troops quite frightening.  Especially since I will advance them alongside the Sherman 105s and the Crocodiles. The Crocodiles will add even more flame throwers to the mix (negating fire power tests) and the front armour of 11 will be tough enough to keep them operating as they close with the enemy.  The Sherman 105s will add some brutal weapons. In the city fighting rule set, brutal weapons add an extra 1d6 worth of hits to every hit result. This means that with enough brutal weapons you can simply erase enemy infantry from buildings that they are holding. 

Fighting House to House – List Building for Flames Of War City Fighting

The mortars and priests will pin any units that are to be attacked and can fire smoke barrages to cover the flanks of the tanks. Since I have the 4th infantry division card, the M7 Priests add to the formation break point (and in a pinch can lend its direct fire to bolster the brutal effect of the 105 mm Shermans).  Lastly, the 76mm Shermans are available to provide long range sniping to ward off the defender’s tanks.

On Defense
On the urban battlefield the defensive Flames of War player will get something they always want…lots of bulletproof cover.  The congested battlefield will provide buildings and walls in abundance to provide concealment and force the opponent to make a lot of firepower rolls.  This is good news, particularly for infantry as they will become that much more resilient.   Unfortunately, limited lines of site will limit the effectiveness of any of the traditional long-range defensive shooting units (Pak Front 88s come to mind).  Also, since you may have multiple rooms in 1 building, some of which may be occupied by the enemy, assaults are almost certain.  This is doubly true when one considers that the city fighting building rule means that assaulting units can frequently claim bullet proof cover as they assault.

Fighting House to House – List Building for Flames Of War City Fighting

This army is designed around the idea of massed infantry firepower.  Since you are on the defensive and the enemy are likely to come to you… let them.  Once they enter a room they are not going to get back out of it!  With the massed firepower of 3 panzer grenadier squads and 4 machine guns it should not be hard to pin any enemy units in the open or who are moving to assault you from one room to the next. Then when the enemy are bottled up in terrain and pinned down, you can sweep in with your  Grilles and Brumbars and clean them out with brutal attacks. The Tigers are in the list for good measure so if your opponent has any tanks you can keep them at bay with AT 14.

The Demolition Crew
I feel there is a third option when city fighting besides just defensive and offensive armies.  I call this option the “Demolition Crew”.  Because your opponent is likely to cluster in the numerous buildings for cover while fighting in urban terrain, you can take advantage of their tightly packed nature with a generous helping of big guns!  By doubling down on the effects of the brutal rules you can scour your opponent from the rubble.

Fighting House to House – List Building for Flames Of War City Fighting

Fighting House to House – List Building for Flames Of War City Fighting

By looking at the list you can tell this army dispenses with subtlety. Using the high frontal armour and no less than 10 brutal big guns, the SP guns and IS-2 will just shoot every building the enemy occupies, racking up the multiple hit results for their brutal rules and relying on rerolled saves and good firepower ratings to blast away all opponents.  The Hero Shock Rifle Company will provide solid defense guarding objectives against any enemy offense (that can survive the SP gun shooting). The Engineer-Sappers can advance to take newly “cleared” buildings and go on the offensive with smoke pots for cover and flamethrowers/panzerfausts on the assault. The small Hero T34 85 company will function as added insurance against enemy armour so they can shoot at tanks, freeing up the 122mm and 152mm guns to keep direct firing on enemy occupied buildings.

Time to Put it into Practice
Whether you duplicate these forces above, use them as inspiration for something different or make a force that is completely unrelated, this article should provide you with ideas to get the most out of the Flames of War City fighting rules.  So, grab your models, a rule book and a copy of the rules (or download them) and see what new and exciting games you can have in the World War II Urban Jungle. 
~Joe


Last Updated On Friday, November 6, 2020 by Luke at Battlefront