Monday, 26 December 2011

Keeping things classy: Battlefront Miniatures

Now I'm sure an awful lot of you will have seen this video already. I was going to interrupt Macavity and Frontline Cat week to put an article up on this, but I thought I'd hold off until boxing day as I'm not doing much of anything and it means I put off doing the washing up for another hour or two. However, I think it does deserve a serious piece of analysis I guess and also some coverage. Why? Well because it's genuinely a really nice gesture from Battlefront Miniatures to their loyal customers, to offer the 3rd edition Flames of War rulebook free of charge. Yep you read that right, and you heard them right in that video. They are giving away a free version of the rules if you already have a second edition rulebook. Now they've done this before, but to be brutally honest they weren't giving that many out the first time they did it, this time around that's a very different story.

Why can't I get passed the mental block that these guys existed?
Flames of War has grown to be an incredibly popular wargame, and I can say without fear of contradiction (I hope) that it's the most popular WWII 15mm wargame out there. It's arguably the third biggest wargame out there after the two heavy hitters from Games Workshop, 40k and Warhammer Fantasy. So for a company to make this sort of pleadge, in these cash strapped times and to say a big thank you to it's loyal customers in this way is just fantastic. Put simply, it's a very classy move and perhaps some of the industries other companies could take a look at the gesture and learn from it. It also adds more weight to the growing number of people who think giving core games rules away for free is a good idea, and the way forward.

I mean look at the mini's... they look cool. I need to give it another go!!!

Sure Battlefront haven't exactly put their rules up as a free PDF to download, but they've acknowledged that there are those of us out there that have already stumped up a lot of cash for their product, and will probably continue to do so. So I guess this is almost like a loyalty bonus. I don't play very much Flames of War to be brutally honest with you, and what I have played has been at a very, very small scale. I'm still struggling a bit I think with the idea of blowing up a unit of troops that actually existed... just weirds me out a bit. But, this sort of move makes me want to support them more as a company and I suppose from that aspect it's a very canny marketing ploy and I hope it's one that gets wider coverage in the gaming blogging sphere because it deserves to be discussed. Peace out!


  1. FoW is a great game in many ways.
    Initially I was a lil' taken aback by the nature of the game as well. The source material is a tad close to home in many ways.
    However, after dozens of games and two tournaments, I don't see it that way at all any more.
    I see units and stat lines, tactics and stratagems.
    Cool models and fun opponents.....

    Alternately, I think Battlefront is hampering the games potential by sticking so closely to the 'historical' theme.
    No 'blue on blue' in tournaments, so you'll never pit your British 7th Armored against that Russian T-34 horde.
    'Scenario' style missions that are truly awful (Cauldron is a good example) and create insta-loss matchups.
    Those same missions make for 'list tailoring' at events, and Battlefront's scoring system means you'll probably face off against the same 3 'top tier' lists (or variants thereof) virtually every time.
    -Russian horde (tank or foot)
    -British 7th armored (so good it's not even fair- more than half the tanks are fast, and the other half are heavies with the 'semi-indirect fire' rule. Eeesh!)
    -American Rifles (Armored...or not. They do EVERYTHING!)

    I imagine on the Allied side, they get tired of seeing German heavy tanks, Panzer Lehr and fearless Fallschirmjagers (paratroopers).
    Having heard the Ultimate Rival's incessant bitching about Tigers, Panthers and Jagz, I suspect it's kinda rough from his perspective as well.
    The current system reinforces these lists and does little to encourage diversity.
    Battlefront sez NO to blue on blue, and is WAY more interested in keeping the game 'historical' than making it balls-out FUN.
    So close, close.
    They just gotta loosen up a bit, and maybe let someone give the game a 'NOVA' treatment.
    It sure could use it (yes, the scenarios are THAT BAD in some cases).

    If I was 'wishlisting,' I'd want then to make an expansion and model line that would allow us to play 'WWIII' Soviet vs. Nato Fulda Gap scenarios.
    I KNOW I can save Frankfurt for the Allies!

  2. Quite looking forward to the new FoW. Been out of it for about a year, and it's time I got back on the horse, as it were. I still have many tanks to paint.

    "I'm still struggling a bit I think with the idea of blowing up a unit of troops that actually existed... just weirds me out a bit."

    How does that with other historical wargames? Doesn't that cause you trouble with Napoleonics, ACW, ECW, etc., as well?

  3. SinSynn: I didn't think they said no to blue-on-blue, I thought they said you justify it with being a training exercise or somesuch, and everyone's just firing blanks? I'm sure it's in the rulebook. The tournaments I've been to, the organisers will try and make sure there's no blue-on-blue, but will break the rule if the number of players don't work out.

    Also, they need to sort out the rules for transport vehicles, as at the moment, they're mostly just a combination of deathtrap and liability.

    Not to mention making that bloody rulebook a little better organised.

  4. Hmm, so their customers can replace their old rulebooks with the new one free of charge?

    Are you listening, Games Workshop?

    @SinSynn, I can understand why in the historical nature of the game they might not want you to take 'blue vs blue' to tournaments, but surely there's nothing to stop you doing it in home games? With the scenarios, I guess if you had the time and the inclination you could write your own, or even research WWII to find a suitable battle to base a scenario on. If nothing else it'll be an interesting read!

    As though I know anything about FOW... this is just stuff I've picked up from other games.

  5. You guys are right- Blue on Blue games are fine for 'friendly games,' but I'm referring to Tournament circuit.
    The current system is pretty awful, since missions are announced well in advance, and most of those missions are very poorly balanced.
    List tailoring begins there.
    On top of that, in a large event (say, 20 or more players), ONLY 6-1 victories will matter, which encourages 'power listing.'
    I would LOVE to run the Schwere Panzerjagerkompanie in Earth and Steel, but it won't compete against 7th armored or a Russian tank way.
    That list would get CRUSHED in a mission like 'Breakthrough.' Jagz really shouldn't assault dug in Infantry.
    A system like NOVA would be such a boon to this game.

    Also, allowing 'blue on blue' at 'official' events would make the whole thing SO MUCH MORE FUN.
    I mean really....why not?
    Why deny fun?
    I....really don't get it.
    Seems pointless, really.
    We're talking about FUN here.
    History is boring, and limiting in scope.....

  6. You know what?
    I think it's high time I did a post about comp, NOVA, and balanced missions in tournaments....
    These things are important in every miniature game.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    I really hope I can do it without ruffling any feathers.

  7. @SinSynn, those are very similar to comments I've been fed back by the FoW players I know. I'm pretty damn sure that there are a number of UK based players who are currently working on a Tournament system, where there is specifically blue on blue to stratify the Axis and Allies forces from best to worst and then match the two sides against each other on corresponding tables to find an overall winner and then find out whether the Axis or Allied forces 'won' the Tournament. I'll see if I can track them down for you, or alternatively if anyone knows who they are if you could just drop their names down in the comments section that would be grand!!! Cheers.

    @Fiendil, it has caused me some slight problems with Napoleonics. But it's caused more discomfort in FoW and other WWII games because my Grandparents were involved. Watching a re-enactment of a famous operation in North Africa that my Grandfather was involved with and seeing his unit take a hammering like I know they did in real life was actually quite unsettling. I know it's me being silly, I know it is I really do. I don't have any problems with people playing the game as such but a few games I've played have made me shudder shall we say. Plus it didn't help that the first intro game I played of FoW was run by a socially awkward (I'm trying to be kind) idiot who thought screaming kill the Jews and making pig noises was acceptable. I obviously informed him it wasn't and asked him whether he'd assumed I wasn't Jewish... he went very, very red in the face. I told him he was lucky I hadn't decided today was a good day to kill some fascist and walked off... I'm not Jewish, but that doesn't mean I'm going to put up with anti Semitic crap like that thank you very much!!! And yeah I know you get those wankers playing other games, I've seen swastika covered Guard armies, but in WWII the subject matter is a little close to home I guess.

    @Matt486, yep. It's a real classy move and one that I'm sure will be appreciated by the fans. It's not just GW that could learn from that as a move though is it? PP could've learned too, as could maybe 1 or 2 others. Giving rules away for free is becoming very commonplace now in the industry, and if you want a nice shiny book with more pretty pictures and background then you can buy it... but you don't need too. I'm losing count of how many games I've started now that I did because I had sight of free rules, if I actually play a game and the mini's are cool that's normally enough for me to want to go out and buy stuff. I'm sure there are many others in the same boat!!! lol.