Monday, 24 September 2012

Smoke Bombardment, or simply firing smoke.

Flames of War is a great game, though most would admit it's not 'perfect'... few rules sets are, there will always be issues that certain players don't like...

One of the issues that really bugs me is the use, or should I really say, the timing of using smoke.

The shooting rules state that Smoke must be fired first, that's great, but I would go one further - Smoke should be fired before the movement phase!

Why? Let me explain...

A lot of battles are won during a well planned assault, and getting an assault to work against dug in well positioned infantry can be tough... due to the amount of defensive fire they can spit out..., especially when backed up by HMGs etc.

So the trick to trying and launching a successful assault is to pin down the enemy defending platoon, whether by air-strike, artillery bombardment or simply weight of fire.

Great so we've pinned them down, but our troops are still going to be hanging out there as they run in for the assault, so wouldn't a nice blanket of smoke cover their assault? Of course...

The problem here in is, your troops, if you have cared anything for there little lead lives, will have advanced through cover as best they can to get to this point and are probably hunkered down in their hedgerow, treeline or whatever, waiting for that smoke to cover their final approach ... what if the smoke doesn't happen? No problem we'll stay in out hedgerow I hear you cry!

Well sadly that's not how the rules work. MOVEMENT comes before SHOOTING.

So, I have to advance my plucky troops out of their hedgerow, standing there in all their glory looking skyward wondering if the smoke shells will arrive... If you fail to range in your smoke... tough tit, you're now out in the open... and can't move back, (unless you have a Stormtrooper move, but that's not a guarantee by any means). So do you just stop now or press on with the assault... because guess what, we haven't fired anything else yet either so we might not even manage to pin down the enemy platoon... it could all go to Hell in  a handcart...

My main gripe here though is the Smoke issue. You have quite a number of chances to pin an enemy platoon, as listed above (air, artillery & weight of fire) , but usually only one go at smoke.

And to my mind, troops are not going to move forward, or at least should have the choice not to, it the smoke fails to materialize.

Its simple and logical, and dare I use the word 'realistic': Fire SMOKE, then MOVE should be the order of the day!

I am a relative newbie to FoW, having only really been actively playing over the last 12 months or so, and in that time the V3 rules were released.

I can't for the life of me see why this hasn't come up before and been included in the V3 rules changes and updates. Maybe there is some greater 'meta-game' issue at work here which I can't see?

Maybe I'll just have to house rule it and see if local players are willing to give it try.


  1. A simple solution to your smoking problems - play Soviets! No smoke at all in midwar, and only some specialised infantry have it in latewar (and then it can only be used while actually assaulting). No need for those squares of cotton wool, just rush up and take those bullets like real men!

  2. Har de har Waechter! ;-) I will be more than happy to mow down your soviets once they stop hiding in their forests ;-)

    Oh Gods, he's discovered blogging - cyberspace will not be safe! ;-)

  3. No smoke for WWI "The Great War" either.