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Friday, July 29, 2016

FoW Scenario analysis - Defensive Scenarios Balance

Hello Everyone, time for another gaming article by Sexy Sixes :)

This time, I would like to share some of my own thoughts on how Flames of War Defensive Battle scenarios are balanced.

It actually occurred to me while preparing some materials for the ETC pairings that all of the scenarios with the Defensive Battle rule in Flames of War can be described with a set of characteristics. These features, can then be used pretty much like ratings to define who has an edge in a given scenario. By knowing who is more likely to win a game in a given scenario and understanding how these characteristics work, lists can be tailored to be able to mitigate the connected risks and capitalize on the opportunities.

Sooo, what are the characteristics that I was talking about?
I divided them into two separate sections: defender advantage and attacker advantage to clearly point out who do I think benefits from each of them.


Scenario contains the Defensive Battle rule - for a long time Flames of War player, this one might seem an obvious one. The reason I included this rule under defender advantages is because the attacker has to always play two opponents at the same time: the enemy general and the clock. If time runs out in such a scenario, the defender automatically wins.

Scenario contains the Ambush rule - this rule is potentially game-changing. It allows you to nullify exposure of one platoon to enemy fire and provides an alpha-strike. Very powerful against armored opponents and guns, hardly ever used against assaulting infantry. Perfect for keeping the attacker guessing as to where the hammer will fall.

Scenario contains the Strategic Withdrawal rule - only applicable to Fighting Withdrawal scenario and possibly the reason why it is so hard to win as the attacker. Not only does it limit the maximum number of turns to 8 but also means that if this time elapses, and the attacker fails to capture one of the objectives, the defender automatically wins. To add insult to injury, the defender can remove objectives from the table! This means that 8 turns is just 8 potential turns to capture one of them! It also seemingly has a downside for the defender, because the they need to withdraw their platoons gradually, but effectively it is used to get rid of depleted units on the verge of a morale check.

Separated attacker's reserves - again, only one scenario contains this characteristic: Breakthrough. In this scenario, the attacker has to nominate at least and up to half of his platoons to stay in Delayed Reserves, which arrive on the corner of the table, opposite to his deployment area. I have to admit, that almost each time I played this mission, I only used one platoon to satisfy the rule and 99% of cases this would be a cheap, throwaway unit, while the main effort would be concentrated elsewhere. This characteristic clearly gives an advantage to the defender as these Reserves are easily focused down, especially that because of how the Reserves rule works, they mostly come onto the table piecemeal.


Scenario contains the Mobile Reserves rule - this one actually only means something when companies containing multiple mobile units defend. It hits particularly hard mech companies and some tank companies. It is the primary reason why I stopped playing my 2nd recon. With only 2 platoons on the table, odds are stacked against the defender pretty hard :)

Scenario contains the Scattered Reserves rule - sometimes, especially with all foot infantry your reserves have to arrive right where you need them. If they don't - it takes them forever to get to the hot spot and more likely than not, they will get annihilated en route. Scattered Reserves rule is there to make sure the latter happens :)

Race to the Objective - this characteristic means that at least one of the Objectives is outside of the defender's deployment area. This one is particularly true for Counterattack. For Breakthrough it is not so punishing, since this race is pretty much decided from the get go with the defender having at least 3 turns to get to the remote objective and dig in on it.

Streched Objectives - means the mission is played across the width of the table and Objectives are placed as far as 48" apart. It makes it really difficult to cover all of them with substantial forces.

Defender surrounded - it happens when the defender is attacked from several directions and is vulnerable to all kinds of backstabbing assaults and sideshots. It does not allow for a proper concentration of firepower and limits the mobility of the defender who always needs to watch their back. Does not apply to Breakthrough, since the defender has enough time to secure their rear.

Separated defender's reserves - just like in case of the 'separated attacker reserves', when defender's reserves are completely cut off, they will struggle to make their way towards the main body of troops and boost the resistance by covering the Objectives.

And now for the summary. The way I read the table is: count up the marks and if there are more in the defender's section - it means the scenario is a favourable one for the defender and the other way round in case there are more marks in the attacker's area.

Is the table more or less fitting to what you think about defensive battle scenarios balance?


P.S. I will have to do an article on how to mitigate the risks coming out of these characteristics while building your list :)

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