Over the years my friends and I have played many wargames but the one that has stuck for my friend Dave is Flames of War. FOW is a 15mm scale World War II combat game that tries to walk the line between simulation and game. This means that it attempts to recreate historical battles with enough accuracy to be fun and engaging without being overloaded with minutia.
Although I’ve owned the rulebook for FOW for a while now I really only have a passing flirtation with the game. For the most part I’ve moved away from wargames, shifting my focus to board games. However, when I get together with Dave we occasionally like to break out the troops and have a game.
In my opinion Flames of War occupies an interesting space in the world of wargames. The rules are simpler than, for example, Warhammer or 40k, but at the same time the game can be very unforgiving of mistakes. Because FOW attempts to mimic a real-life battle, a move that would be heroic in a movie or video game usually turns out to be incredibly foolish and costly. In this way Flames of War is less cinematic than the wargames that I tend to gravitate towards.
However because the game is played at a 15mm scale it creates a sense of grandeur that you don't get at 28mm. The terrain can be a sweeping vista with a whole village set up at its centre or it can be a massive industrial complex complete with train yard and quayside. Building such terrain at larger scales is not only costly but it takes up a lot of storage space. The armies too can be grand, whole platoons of tanks roaming across the board, giant batteries of artillery entrenched in bunkers, masses of troops armed to the teeth leading the charge across the green hills of France.
The system also offers a range of play styles and time periods, including Early, Mid and Late war and the recently introduced Vietnam and Arab-Israeli. Like all miniature wargames it’s not cheap to get into and it will eat up a lot of your time with painting and preparation but there is a vibrant player scene with tournaments happening up and down the country.
Flames of War, for me, is a game I enjoy playing with my friend who is passionate about it, but it’s not a game I would personal want to invest my time and money in collecting. While fun, it doesn't really support my play style or my love of hero driven games.