Cardiff’s Firestorm Games opened its doors this Saturday to an expectant multitude. Public transport had been disrupted by fans coming from as far away as the Irish Republic to be with us on this auspicious occasion. Before I could even get to the counter there was already a former pupil of mine trying to pay for the free new rulebooks. Two well built middle aged men looked at our demonstration, they said nothing. Chris smiled and they looked perplexed. I smiled and they were rooted to the spot. Wargamers don’t need words on occasions like this. I sat down at the table before every available space was taken by such mute accolites.
My older readers will remember that Flames of War was the game of choice at Firestorm. We hosted a number of competitions over the years but I think it fair to say that the system was getting a little tired. Battlefront had gone right through the whole of the Second World War and the variants for Vietnam and the First had not caught the collective imagination. Dark mutterings on the Tinternet warned that Flames of War was due for a “dumming down” ala “”Age of Smegma” by Games Workshop. Team Yankee, based in the Cold War , had reached some notables- could it really be the shot in the arm? Would the love for Flames of War be rekindled. Or rather, would the system be like an ex- girlfriend who you see on the Checkout at LIDL and prefer to ignore?
The many changes are detailed on the Flames website and associated fan sites. My first thoughts were that the cards were a rather nice addition. They certainly negate having to keep referring to the army lists or codex for the space pixie generation. In earlier versions you had to take a set number of platoons before you got support choices. In version four you can field multiple formations in order to get the right mix of units. Two tank forces wor the thirty points in the new system gave James A six British tanks versus my four DAK panzers.
We played the basic game and it was due to last half an hour. After this the massive crowd that had built up might turn nasty as the anticipation was palpable ( and the toilets had backed up) The game was as smooth as I remember it. Tanks really can motor now if they forget about firing. My Panzer fours went onto over watch while my Panzer three Aug careered down the right of the table.
Within two turns the British had lost a platoon. I was beginning to like this old friend. James brought his Grants up but they could not negotiate the palm groves. Notice that I did not say that they bogged- there is no bogging in Version four!
I smelt blood but James rushed the objective with his remaining platoon of Crusaders. That fourteen inch move is a force multiplier. I had him, I thought. Four tanks shooting into the rear of the Crusaders. Regular readers will know what happened next….one failed terrain roll , three misses and the stormtrooper move to contest the objective was timed out. Somethings don’t change…
In days gone by I travelled to Poland to play Flames of War in the European Team Championships . Pizza box artillery templates and multiple artillery batteries killed my love of the system but I’m hooked again. The play is cleaner but still has to be thought about. The much vaunted card are a bonus. And the new rules were free! What’s not to like!
Thanks to Chris Temptress for putting on the game and Firestorm for their usual good humour.