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How To Win at Flames Of War

How To Win at Flames Of War
with Phil Yates

Over the years I've been asked for advice on how to win games of Flames Of War or Team Yankee, and my advice is always the same. It's nothing to do with picking the right force or using specific tactics - I think a good player should be able to adapt to any force and consider the best tactics for the situation - but rather it's about three fundamentals:

1. Making a Plan
2. Concentration of Effort
3. Maintaining a Reserve

1.Making a Plan
There are several adages on planning that I like. The first is the simple 'Failing to plan is planning to fail'. The British Army has a more earthy version of this in their 7Ps: 'Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance'. Basically the idea is, much as the Cheshire Cat pointed out to Alice, that if you don't know where you want to go, ‘then it doesn’t matter which way you go.' However, since your opponent might well have a plan and know where they want to go, which is not likely to include you winning the game, you are very likely to end up there.

How To Win at Flames Of War

Your plan doesn't need to be elaborate, in fact simple is usually better (since I'm having fun with all these little sayings, that leads to the KISS principle - Keep It Simple Stupid). What it needs to include are:

  • An appreciation of the situation.
  • How you will win the game. 
  • Important steps on the way there.

An Appreciation of the Situation
An appreciation of the situation is just a fancy way of saying stop and look at the table before you start. Have a look at the terrain, your forces, and the opponent's forces. Look at the table from your side, then go around and look at it from their side. Look for covered routes of advance, fields of fire, and obstacles to movement. Look at their force to see if there is anything in particular that will give you trouble. Look at your force to see what you have to counter that trouble, and what you have that will give them trouble.

How To Win at Flames Of War

How You Will Win The Game
Having done that, decide how you will win the game. This basically comes down to three options in most cases: take the left objective, take the right objective, or destroy the enemy force. Hopefully your appreciation of the situation will give you some ideas as to how you might achieve some of these, and give you a feel for which might be easiest to achieve.

If you don't really know which will work better, just remember 'It is better to have a bad plan than no plan.' Pick one and go with it. At least you'll have a plan rather than be playing to your opponent's plan.

Important Steps on the Way There
Your appreciation will hopefully have highlighted some of the things you will need to achieve to get to your goal. These might be:


  • Routes of advance you need to use (or prevent the enemy from using).
  • Enemy units that need to be destroyed.
  • Enemy units that need to be neutralised or avoided.
  • Friendly units that need to achieve a particular thing.
  • Things that you have to achieve quickly (such as before reserves arrive).
  • Things you have to avoid your opponent achieving quickly.

How To Win at Flames Of War

These things will give you a map as to how the game will go in order for you to win. This will happen, then this will happen, then this... and then I win!

How To Win at Flames Of War

2. Concentration Of Effort
Another quote, this time from Guderian, 'Don't tap, thump!'. Since you know what you need to do from your Important Steps on the Way There, take the top one on the list and put every effort you can into achieving it. If it's an enemy unit that needs to die, shoot it with everything. If its a place you need to be, 'Get there firstest with the mostest'.

The best example of this is fire discipline. If you have the choice between firing at three enemy units or one, pick the most dangerous one and fire at that. This has two benefits. The most obvious is that you might get some extra kills from the enemy failing Motivation rolls, whether that be multiple bail out results on a tough tank or failed Last Stand tests resulting in the unit running away. The second benefit is more subtle, but equally important - you've just killed the most dangerous unit. That alone is a big bonus. The number of surviving enemy may be the same, but now you are in a better position.

Distractions and Distractions
You will probably need to stop the enemy from doing things you don't like while you are thumping them. Work out the smallest force that can do this, and use that and no more. Even if that force will die doing its job, if it frees up more of your force to win the game faster, that's a worthwhile trade off. Some examples of this might be using a small scouting force to threaten another objective to prevent the enemy from reinforcing the part of their force that you are thumping, or holding an objective long enough for you to win the game elsewhere.

3. Maintaining A Reserve
As von Moltke has been misquoted: 'No plan survives contact with the enemy', so don't worry when your plan turns to custard - it's supposed to. However, by the time that happens, you have hopefully gained some advantage, and have some idea what the new plan needs to be.

Usually you can keep the basic plan, just revise the list of Important Things that You Must Do, and keep ploughing on to victory. If you can help it, 'don't change horses in mid stream'. I've seen players spend most of the game dashing troops back and forth across the table, never firing a shot, as they react to the situation rather than staying focused on their plan.

How To Win at Flames Of War

Sometimes though, you just need to abandon your previous plan and pick a new way to win, although hopefully some of your previous appreciation of the situation will help you come up with a new plan on the fly.

Either way, when the unexpected happens, you will probably need something to respond with. this is where your reserve comes in. It's a unit (or units) whose freedom of action you have carefully preserved. That doesn't mean that they've been doing nothing, just that while they've been doing their thing, they've also been keeping an eye on what else they might need to do.

How To Win at Flames Of War

If you don't have anything in reserve, then you are going to have to take something from your main striking force to deal with the crisis, making it harder to win (and possibly harder to deal with the crisis as well). If you have a reserve, you can continue with your plan while thwarting the enemy's plan. An example of this might be keeping the unit on the flank of your main push less committed and close enough to intervene if the delaying force you have on the other objective looks set to collapse faster than you planned, or having a small force ready to exploit a mistake by your opponent that uncovers a unit's flank, an objective, or even a covered route forward, while still putting enough pressure on that they can't correct their mistake.

A Basic Plan For Beginers
While you are learning, you might find this plan a good one to work from as it's simple, and often works.

1. Pick an Objective to Take.
2. Work Out Which Enemy Units are going to be Trouble for You.
3. Decide Whether to Destroy Them or Avoid Them.
4. Work Out What the Enemy Can Do to Stop You.
5. Decide How to Thwart This.
6. Work Out the Minimum Force You Need for Distractions and Diversions.
7. Work Out What Your Reserve will be.
8. Concentrate Everything, that's EVERYTHING, else on Taking that Objective.
9. Don't Stop, Don't Let Up the Pressure, Don't Give Up.
10. Win the Game!


Last Updated On Thursday, April 11, 2019 by Luke at Battlefront