Stay at Home and Play Flames Of War and WWIII Team Yankee

Stay at home and Play Flames Of War and WWIII Team Yankee

Stay at home and Play Flames Of War and WWIII Team Yankee
with Phil Yates

With Covid-19 keeping us all at home, we need a few ideas for how to keep gaming. I’ll start by addressing the most obvious difficulty: not having an opponent. I have several ideas on how to get around that! Most of these ideas are most definitely not my own, in fact some of them come from Donald Featherstone’s classic Solo Wargaming from way back in 1973 (available as a quite reasonably-priced ebook from Amazon here). Others come from the many useful solo wargaming sites that you can find in a quick web search.

Playing this way presents some opportunities to try different styles of gaming. As well as the standard equal-points tournament-style games, you can create interesting scenarios to challenge yourself and recreate interesting moments in history that you have discovered (and they don’t have to be modern battles either, some really fun games have been inspired by something that happened to Caesar or Napoleon!).

I’ll introduce you to four ways of playing while staying at home:

  • Playing Both Sides
  • Playing Against an Artificial Opponent
  • Having a Friend Command the Opposition
  • Running a Command Game for Two Friends

Playing Both Sides 
The easiest solution to playing while you are in lockdown is to get multiple personalities and play both sides. This is often not as easy as it sounds though, but can be excellent practice for creating battle plans and evaluating the situation.

Stay at home and Play Flames Of War and WWIII Team Yankee

The key to doing this is to create a plan for each side at the start of the battle. Look at the situation you have created and the force you have available, then decide how you are going to achieve the objectives that you’ve set for the force. Are you going to take this objective or that one? Are you going to attack on the left, the right, or straight up the centre? Are you going to go hell-for-leather right from the start, or skirmish a bit to wear the enemy down. You might also consider how you’ll tackle the opponent’s big nasties. Will you try and out gun them, swamp them with numbers, or simply avoid them?

Having made a plan for one side, the tricky bit is making a plan for the second side. Walk around the table and look at it from that side. Then, trying to keep an open mind, come up with a plan for them too, using the same set of questions. Don’t worry that you know the plan for the first side, you can’t unknow it, so you might as well take that into account.

Give the first turn to the first side, since they didn’t have the advantage of knowing their opponent’s plan. Each turn, walk around to the current force’s side of the table and spend a few moments recalling the plan for this side, evaluating how it’s going, and revising their plan before taking the turn.

Playing Against an Artifical Opponent
Rather than taking both sides, it can be easier to play one side actively and have the other side be more passive and use dice to determine their tactics. The key here is to set up an interesting scenario where one side is active and the other largely passive. This could be standard missions like the No Retreat, Bridgehead, or Rearguard, or something you’ve customised for yourself like a scenario where your force has to fight along a road running the length of the table in the face of a series of ambushes.

Stay at home and Play Flames Of War and WWIII Team Yankee

Missions like Free-for-All that require the opposition to manoeuvre a lot are more difficult to play this way. Don’t forget the More Missions pack for some extra ideas than just those in the rulebook.

Start by setting up the opposing force, leaving aside any ambushes and reserves. You can either see how clever you can be in setting up tricky situations to challenge yourself, or you can roll a die to create a random plan for the opposition.

Stay at home and Play Flames Of War and WWIII Team Yankee

A Cunning Plan...
If you decide to challenge yourself, really go to town. Build an impregnable defence around an objective. Set up a flanking force that will be hard to screen or destroy while engaged by the main force. Be clever in making your challenge difficult. Don’t worry too much about even points and things like that, you should be able to handle a stronger opposition than normal, and the harder the challenge, the greater the satisfaction in overcoming it!

… or a Random Plan
The easiest way to do this is to divide your deployment area into six parts. Then roll a die for each unit as you deploy it and place it in the appropriate area. Alternatively, you can roll on the following table for a deployment plan and set the force up around it.


Roll

Plan
1 Strong on the Left: The force has a strong left flank that will seek victory while the weaker right flank holds.
2 Strong Flanks: The force has strong forces on both flanks and a weaker centre to trap the enemy between two fires.
3 Strong in the Centre: The force has a strong central position and weaker flanks. The troops in
the centre will support the flanks by shooting, and will move to reinforce a threatened flank.
4 Solid Front: The force has its strength evenly disposed along the line, balanced and ready for anything. If there are good forward positions to break up or delay the enemy attack, they occupy them.
5 Strong on the Right: The force has a strong right flank that will seek victory while the weaker
left flank holds.
6 Defilade Defence: The force is deployed behind cover out of sight of the enemy, forcing them to enter close-range fire traps to engage.

Your Turn
The easiest way to do this is to divide your deployment area into six parts. Then roll a die for each unit as you deploy it and place it in the appropriate area. Alternatively, you can roll on the following table for a deployment plan and set the force up around it.

Stay at home and Play Flames Of War and WWIII Team Yankee

The Artifical Opponent's Turn
When your turn is over, walk around to the opponent’s side of the table and take their turn. The great thing is that the Artificial Opponent doesn’t really have a plan. Instead, any time the action an opposing unit should take isn’t obvious to you, pick the appropriate table below and roll a die to see what the opposing unit does. If the result is impractical or impossible, simply roll again.

Manoeuvre and Reserves
Use this table when a unit needs to manoeuvre closer to your forces to be effective or arrives from Reserves.

Roll

Plan
1 Stay in Cover: The unit moves to get out of sight of your troops, then moves closer while
staying out of sight
2 Skirmish from Cover: The unit moves to get into Concealing Terrain where it can see your troops, if it isn’t already, then engages them. If it has a Tactics rating of 4+ or better, it will attempt a Blitz Move order to get into a firing position if that means it doesn’t need to move afterwards.
3 Left Flanking: The unit moves towards their left, attempting to get around the side of your units to hit them in the flank
4 Right Flanking: The unit moves towards their right, attempting to get around the side of your
units to hit them in the flank.
5 Close the Range: The unit moves towards your troops shooting on the move. It will take advantage of Concealing Terrain if it can.
6 Charge: The unit moves as fast as possible (Dashing if necessary) to get amongst your troops. If it has a Motivation rating of 4+ or better, it will use a Follow Me order to move faster if it can.

Ambushes
Use this table when a unit could be placed from Ambush.

Roll

Plan
1

Hold Off: Wait for a better opportunity, roll again next turn.

2

Aggressive: Ambush from the most deadly position available, regardless of risk.

3 Cautious: Ambush from a safe position, even if it is not as effective.
4 Long Range: Ambush from long range to balance risk and effectiveness.
5 Flanking: Ambush where the unit can get flanking shots. If there isn’t a good flanking position, hold off on the Ambush and roll again next turn.
6 Blocking Position: Ambush in a position that blocks the enemy’s movement forward.

Other Useful Tables
You’ll no doubt find or dream up other situations where you might need to roll to see what tactics the opposition uses. Come up with tables for these situations and post them on the Flames Of War or WWIII: Team Yankee Facebook groups for others to use. 

Click here to download a PDF of these tables to use in your Flames Of War Games...

Click here to go to the Flames Of War Facebook Group...

Click here to go to the WWIII: Team Yankee Facebook group...

Playing Artifical Opponent's Against Each Other
You can also play games where both sides use an Artificial Opponent to generate their plans and tactics. This can create interesting situations that you might not have thought of yourself, and new challenges to overcome.

Stay at home and Play Flames Of War and WWIII Team Yankee

Random Events
You could throw in some random events to mix things up a little and keep you on your toes. At the end of each of your turns, roll two dice. If they roll a double, then something happens.

Roll

Plan
1 Needed Elsewhere: One of your Units has been recalled by higher command. Pick a Unit and
remove it from the table.
2 Misunderstanding: One of your Units (pick at random) moves at Tactical Speed in a random
direction.
3 Ambush: Either a Unit from the opponent’s reserves or a whole new Unit appears from
Ambush in the coming opponent turn. Roll on the Ambush table to see where they are placed.
4 Flanked: Either a Unit from the opponent’s reserves or a whole new Unit appears from a
flanking table edge in the coming opponent turn. Roll to see which edge if there are several
possibilities. Roll on the Manoeuvre and Reserves table to see what they do.
5 Hordes of Them: An opposing Unit that you have already destroyed, or a Unit from the
enemy reserves (or even a whole new Unit) appears from reserves in the coming opponent turn. Roll
on the Manoeuvre and Reserves table to see what they do.
6 Reinforcements: A Unit from your reserves appears immediately and moves onto the table. If
you don’t have any more reserves, then pick a new Unit to add to the game. Any units coming from reserves are in addition to the normal reserves that would appear in the
opposing turn.

Having a Friend Command the Opposition
A third option is to have a friend command the opposition. Obviously they can’t be there in person, but with the marvels of technology, they can take an active part in the game. You’ll need to set up the battlefield and provide both forces (or split the force you have into two parts), but they’ll provide guidance on how the opposition will fight.

There are two ways of doing this: live or episodic. If you are going to play live, you’ll have your opponent on Skype or some similar as you play, discussing what’s going on and showing them the battlefield as the game unfolds. This is closer to a normal face-to-face game. If you are going the episodic route, you’ll message or email the opponent at the end of each turn, updating them on the situation and asking for their next set of orders. This is more like a command exercise for the other player as they attempt to understand the situation from limited information and issue clear orders — then watch as their beautiful plan is butchered and their orders misunderstood!

You could either set up both forces and have the game ready to go, or you can coordinate with your opponent and set up their force according to their plan. You then play each side in turn, coming up with your own plan for your own forces, and attempting to implement your friend’s orders as faithfully as possible in their turns. 

Overall, it’s a great way to get together with a buddy when you can’t meet face to face.

Stay at home and Play Flames Of War and WWIII Team Yankee

Running a Command Game for Two Friends
The fourth option is similar to the previous one, but uses two friends to command the two sides, while you act as a form of adjudicator, playing both sides forces to see how their clever plans turn out. 

In this sort of game, I like the episodic approach where you only communicate with each player in their own turn. Show them the current situation at the start of the turn and get any new orders they have (and smile at how surprised they are about how different the situation is from what they imagined it would be!). Then play out their turn and give them a brief summary of events (writing it in character as a report from the commander of their force on table can be fun) so they can ponder their next move while they wait to see what the enemy will do.

Stay at home and Play Flames Of War and WWIII Team Yankee

If you do this, try and keep all of the communications and make a few little videos during the game. That way at the end of the game you can have a debrief session where everyone gets to see what was really going on, rather than what they thought was going on. It can be hilarious and enlightening to see what your opponent was thinking and what their orders were, and compare this with what you were thinking and trying to do!

Alternatively, you can run the whole game as a multi-person Skype call where everyone can chat and issue their orders on the fly as you’re moving their forces. You could either roll all the dice yourself and adjudicate the results, or have the players roll their own dice and report the results to the rest of the group, with you adjusting the board to show the outcome.

Having Fun
Hopefully you can now see ways of continuing to play Flames Of War and WWIII: Team Yankee while keeping safe from Covid-19 and expand your range of gaming experiences. As you do so, remember the two key rules of solo wargaming: there are no rules — make it up to suit yourself — and have fun!


Last Updated On Monday, March 30, 2020 by Luke at Battlefront