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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Flames of War 101, lesson 1- Introduction to Teams

I've decided to start 2 new series of articles: FOW 101, and FOW Graduate Studies. FOW 101 will focus on the basics of the game, particularly those intricacies often misunderstood or played incorrectly. FOW Graduate Studies will focus on how to get the most out of your armies!

So the first in the FOW 101 series will focus on team types. I'll give a brief overview of the types and sub-types of teams in FOW, discuss a few oddities, and then thoroughly explore the concept of the "man-packed gun team" which is something I find is often not understood well at all.

These are NOT meant to be comprehensive, but more just a refresher or guide for newer players. Absolutely nothing can replace reading the rulebook and getting some games in!

So without further ado!

A "Team" is the smallest unit in the game. Vehicle teams are most often represented by a single vehicle, though in some transport cases there may be 2 on a base representing 1 team. The four types of teams are: Tanks (typically armored fighting vehicles of all ilk), Transports (armored or not, vehicles used for transporting troops or towing guns), infantry (represented by 3-5 soldiers on a base), and Guns (represented on 1 base by a gun and the crew that serves it).

German Stugs and Armored Rocket Launchers.

Tank teams are distinguished from transport teams in that they can launch assaults, force a motivation check for infantry to assault, and generally ignore pinning. Tank teams don't only represent "tanks". They comprise other fighting vehicles like armored cars, self propelled artillery, self propelled AAA, tank hunters, assault guns, etc. They are further subdivided into 3 types.

-->FULLY ARMORED. Fully Armored tanks have top armor 1 or 2 (Shermans, Tigers, T-34s). Fully armored tank teams may attempt to crash through buildings (with a skill check), ignore a "pinned" result in defensive fire, and are more resilient to flame thrower death (requiring a firepower check to destroyer, and suffering only a bailed result on a failed check).

-->ARMORED. Tank teams with top armor 0 (universal carriers, most armored cars, self propelled artillery). Vehicles with top armor 0 are a little bit more restrictive than their fully armored bretheren. If they receive 5 hits in defensive fire during an assault, their assault fails. Likewise, they cannot attempt to crash through a building. Furthermore, any hit from a flamethrower automatically destroys a tank with top armor 0!

-->UNARMORED. Teams not considered transports, but that lack any armor protection (Portee Guns, truck mounted AAA, US Cavalry Recon Jeeps). Unarmored tank teams have no armor and thus receive no armor saves, saving on a 5+ like other soft-skinned vehicles. Furthermore, unarmored tank teams cannot assault, and must break off immediately in any assault. However, being tank teams they do still force a motivation check from infantry to assault or counter assault!

Transport teams can not launch assaults, and must always break off from any assault. Living transports do not add to the fighting strength of a platoon, but destroyed transports DO count against! Thus transports can be a liability if you allow them to get shot to pieces.

*If a transport with passengars mounted is destroyed, the entire platoon is pinned.
*Transport teams do not count for chain of command unless they are loaded (though they DO count for chain of command for other transports in the platoon)


British 8th Army vs German Afrika Korps.

Infantry teams represent the various flavors of infantry throughout WWII! Infantry teams can represent a wide variety of armaments from Rifle teams to MG teams. Here's a few points to remember:
*Standard infantry are tank assault 2.
*SMG and Assault Rifle teams maintain full ROF on the move.
*Though SMGs are AT 1 for shooting, they are still Tank Assault 2
*Infantry teams can often be upgraded with AT weapons increasing their Tank Assault Value.

Remember that infantry have a few benefits other teams don't- They can be concealed in the wide open if they don't move. Thus, if they don't move OR shoot they are both concealed and gone to ground, even if there is no terrain around! Furthermore, they always save on a 3+ (Unless they are in a transport that is destroyed, in which case they save on a 5+). Infantry also ignore terrain for movement distances- they always go 6"! They can't, however, double time through rough terrain.


British 25 pounders.

Gun teams represent the various cannons, artillery pieces, mortars, etc of the various armies. First, we'll discuss the different kinds of gun teams:

-->Light & Medium Guns. Besides being more mobile than their larger counterparts, light and medium guns benefit from their smaller silhouette when dug in- Light & Medium guns both gain concealment when dug into fox holes.

-->Heavy, Immobile, and AA Guns: Large guns do not benefit from concealment when dug in in the open (though may still benefit from concealment in terrain). Furthermore, any gun listed as an AA gun, regardless of it's size, can not benefit from concealment in foxholes.

*remember that any gun team that moves in difficult ground has to make a bog check!

This is what I *really* wanted to talk about in this lesson, since I always see them being played incorrectly. Just what the hell is a man packed gun anyways? In game terms, a man packed gun is a GUN TEAM that benefits from a few special rules. Let's go over them:

-->MOVEMENT: Man packed gun teams move exactly like infantry teams. They do not have to roll bogging.
-->CONCEALMENT: Man packed gun teams, like infantry, can get concealment in the open if they don't move. Likewise, if the don't move AND don't shoot they can be "gone to ground".
-->ASSAULTS: Remember that man packed guns are NOT infantry teams- thus they cannot charge into contact in the assault or counter assault step. However, like guns, if any enemy teams wind up within 2" of them, they may participate in the assault so long as they don't move.
-->SAVES: Man-packed guns are gun teams, thus they save on a 5+ rather than a 3+ like infantry.

And now for the biggie- SHOOTING AT MIXED PLATOONS:
When a platoon with some infantry and some man-packed gun teams are shot at by weapons with firepower 5+ or 6, the owning player can ignore their opponents "target priority preference". Hits allocated to man packed guns are still rolled on a 5+, but in effect they may be considered infantry for hit allocation.

If a weapon with firepower 4+ or better scores a hit on a mixed platoon, the man packed guns must be allocated hits as if they were guns per normal.

TWO EXAMPLES- Let's pretend I have a US Armored Rifle Platoon that is severely depleted. All that remains is 2 LMG teams (man packed guns), a 37mm AT Gun (a light gun), and 3 Rifle teams (infantry stands).

US Armored Rifles hold on in the face of German Armor.

Ex. 1- A Stug platoon drives up and opens up on the platoon with MGs, designating guns as the target priority. They score 4 hits. Because a machine gun's FP rating is 6, they cannot "pick out" the man packed guns, but the 37mm is fair game. Thus, the USplayer MUST assign the first hit to the light gun. The 3 remaining hits can be allocated to any of the remaining teams since they are all infantry for allocation purposes.

Ex 2- Now the Stugs open up with their cannons, scoring 3 hits. Again, the German player designates guns as the target priority. Because the Stugs have a firepower rating of 3+ on their cannons, the man packed guns CAN be distinguished. The US player has no choice but to assign 1 hit to the 37mm gun, and the remaining 2 to the LMG teams.

I hope this has been somewhat enlightening. Remember, this is NOT meant to be anywhere near comprehensive, but more a refresher. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments, and do let me know if I've mucked something up!

Thanks to Richard, Dallas, and Jaime for proofreading.

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