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Monday, July 27, 2015

Micro-Modern Flames of War

By Tom Burgess,

Even with Cold War Flames of War coming out later this year, some of my friends just could not wait.  Many in our gaming group have very large collections of 1/285th "Micro Armor"  so using a "Homegrown" modern FoW rules adaption that our friend Ron found on the internet, we decided to give "Cold War Gone Hot" a try. Even though these undoubtedly would be different rules than what ever Battlefront releases later this year, we just wanted to give modern "Micro Armor" a try to see how it felt.

We kept the games measurements in inches and played the game on a standard 6' by 4' table. The first thing I noticed about going "micro" was that the board felt a lot bigger.

We used squares of felt as city blocks or small urban areas. These basically would have been a single building in 15mm FoW. We treated them the same as 15mm model buildings so vehicles had to take bog checks etc when entering these areas. We figured rather that getting hung up on rubble, this would represent vehicles getting stuck while trying to negotiate tight alleys etc.

 Here are Soviets force we used in the game. Basically a T-72 Company reinforced by some recon, ATGMs, and two platoons of mechanized  infantry.

 Here's a close up of the Soviets.

Ron's US contingent was a "Mech Team" with two Bradley platoons, half a recon platoon, some M109 SP Howitzers and finally a M1A1 Tank platoon.

Ron based all of his micro armor stuff and I will soon do the same with mine. I really like having something to grab other than the models when moving them and with the infantry being so small, I really need these labels to tell what is what. I think people should also base their 1:285th tanks to protect those really thin gun barrels.

We rolled up "Hasty Attack" as our first mission for modern FoW.  My friend Charles and I played the Soviets. I would take the main effort and concentrate on the right objective, while Charles would use the secondary effort to try to isolate the area from Ron's US reinforcements.

The Soviet initial thrust consisted of recon leading out followed by one T-72 Platoon with the Soviet CO, while the Soviet 2IC and another T-72 provided over watch.

Opposing us on his left, Ron had a full Mech Infantry Platoon with M2 Bradleys.

Soviet recon moves out and clears the town. Later the recon dismounts to lift "Gone-to-Ground" on the US Mech/Bradley platoon.

Despite "Gone to Ground" being lifted off of the US Mech/Bradley Platoon, my over watch unit just cant get a hit.

Without being able to maintain "Gone-to-Ground" anyway now, Ron opens up with some TOW missiles against my support. ATGMs were deadly for the Soviets. The US were veterans and in these rules mods ATGM hit on a shooter skill check...and the reroll misses at long range! Ron thus KO's one T-72 and bails out another.

With these rules making the M2's having to reload after shooting, I took advantage of this time to swing the lead T-72 platoon out from around the town and engage the M2 Bradleys who were not concealed anymore due to the TOW back blasts.

 The gambit pays off and my T-72s knock out a few Bradleys.

Later, some BRDM-2 with AT-5 Spandrel missiles take over the support by fire role so my 2nd T-72 can move up to reinforce the damaged lead T-72 platoon.

With the M2 Bradleys all knocked out, my T-72s go in and rout the US Mech Infantry.

My taking of the objective is important as the M1A1 platoon had entered the table from reserve. But the M1A1's came in on the wrong side and may be too late to get where they need to be.

However victory would not come that easily for my T-72s as just after my tanks contested the right objective, Ron's scouts came in from reserves and were able to buy another turn for the M1A1s to close.

As soon as they came around a section of woods, the M1A1s immediately show their vast superiority to the T-72. I cannot afford to lose a full platoon every turn if I want to win this battle especially with the T-72s doing no damage in return.

The US M109s make their presence known as the US Scout platoon calls in the 155mm Artillery fire "Danger Close!"

The fight up on the hill becomes intense! My BMPs come in to support my right with their infantry swing through the woods.

 A couple of T-72s slip around to the rear of some M1A1s and finally knock one out. The M1A1s  had been impervious to damage form my 125mm cannons from front. 

I only have a few tanks left now. Even with my BMPs and T-72s coming in on encircling the M1A1, I just can't knock out enough to force them to break.

After a last ditch effort by the Soviet Infantry to get RPG hits on the M1A1s, the Soviets fold and Ron holds the field with a 4:3 win.

So what was the game like?

It was great fun, even though I think the rules mods we used had very suspect ratings and points. Basically if Ron had started his M1A1 platoon on the board, the Soviets would have had no chance. So he gave us a sporting chance, but even when showing up late the M1A1s had a HUGE impact. But I won't dwell of "stats" and will focus instead on the game's feel.

That feel was quite nice.  The look was great, even with the tiny models. Ranges and movement rates seemed much more significant to me. The one aspect that really surprised me was how tight we actually got with the models. I figured with 1:285th scale models and a 6' x 4' board we would have lots of room to spread out. Instead the channelizing terrain and objective focus of the mission drove most of the action to occur in a 2' x 1" box area. You can see from the photos above how close in the fighting actually was!

I don't think rotating turrets on models this small is very practical, so some slight rules modification will be needed, but overall playing Modern Flames of War with "Micro-Armor" seems quite doable. I'd like to try the same mission played again, but with 15mm models and terrain to compare and contrast the feel and the look of the game. But for now I can safely say that if you're thinking of breaking out your old "Micro-Armor" collections for FoW Cold War gaming later this year, then  I think you're in store for a lot of fun.

Tom has been playing wargames since the late 70’s, and Flames of War since 2007. He maintains a gaming website for the BattleVault Gamers of Kentuckiana and posts and moderates WWPD as Iron-Tom.

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