When Flames of War third edition was released Tim and I set out to learn the rules in a more controlled fashion than we did in second edition. We started off with 1500 point games with tanks only. This was an easy sell as Tim and most of the other guys in out group are tread-heads and are really only interested in tanks. This worked well to get the basic mechanics of the game down and get some excitement about playing.
After several of these tank games I talked Tim into trying some 500 point infantry games using the Cassino Infantry Aces army construction but lists from North Africa. These small games we played on 4x4 tables and were a blast. Next we moved to 700 point games, still using the Infantry Aces guidelines, playing on standard 4x6 tables. So far all these games have been a real blast and even Treadhead Tim has really taken to these small infantry games.
All of these small point infantry games have been invaluable in learning the real nuts and bolts of the game. It has been an opportunity to work in more rules that you need for just tank battles but in a manageable size. Our mistake with second edition was trying to learn all the ins and outs in full blown 1500 point combined arms battles.
So far I have learned some really valuable lessons from the games. The first lesson is that infantry in buildings (and bullet proof terrain in general) are extremely difficult to dig out. This is particularly true of Fearless Veterans but is true for any infantry. You basically cannot dislodge them with HMGs and small arms. Even most mortars will not get the job done. To clear buildings you need something with a high Fire Power such as light mortars (US has the 60mm and the Germans the 50mm) or some kind of light guns such as LG40 Recoilless Riffles for my Fallschirmjagers.
Even with the high fire power shots you must assault the enemy out of the buildings, but is tough and dangerous. As with any assaults you must pin down the enemy first. This is where those HMGs and small arms fire will shine. You must also make sure that you have a huge advantage in numbers (hopefully your high FP units have reduced the enemy). Try to position your assault in such a way as to minimize the number of enemy stands that can support your target. This can be tough but it is essential.
The next lesson, and perhaps the most important, is that you should not get ahead of yourself in the turn sequence. In our last few games Tim and I both have forgotten to move key units during the course of the battle and each time it clearly cost us the game. Nothing ruins a plan faster than having a unit out of position. The good news is that this is completely controllable by the player. Make sure that you review each unit each phase to ensure you have done what you planned to do.
Lesson three is pre-measure! FoW allows measurement at any point in your turn or your opponents turn. When you get to your movement phase you need to be measuring distances in order to setup your shots. This means you need to know what you want to shoot at BEFORE your shooting phase. You should NEVER get to the shooting phase and discover that you are out of range of your intended target. You should already know at the end of movement what is in range.
The last major lesson involves area terrain. It is important to have a solid understand of these rules as they can impact your plan on defense or offense. The most important part is remembering that area terrain that is taller than your models severely limit visibility into and out of terrain. Area terrain, such as rough ground does not have this limitation.
That is all for now. Next we move our games to 900 points and remove the force limitations so that should really open these games up. This will be our first chance to include air support and real artillery and perhaps some recon elements. Should be lots more fun and more lessons.