Battle for The Concrete Jungle – City Fighting in Flames Of War

With Joe Saunders

With the launch of Bagration: Soviet a lot of the upcoming focus in Flames Of War will be centred on the Festerplatz– the fortified cities that Hitler had set up while the German forces were in retreat from late 1943 until the Allies finally entered the German heartland.  These cities were converted with bunkers, fortifications, minefields and dozens of other cunning defensive measures.  The intent was for the Russian advance to be stalled against these cities so the Red Army could be pinned down and counter attacked by Axis forces.  In truth the Festerplatz strategy did not work well.  Frequently the cities were surrounded, lines of supply were cut and the inhabitants had to fight in prolonged sieges with no hope for victory.  This history, though grim, makes a great topic for us to use the Flames Of War City Fighting ruleset.   So, if fighting house to house in desperate close quarters among the ruins of a great metropolis sounds like a fun challenge (In 15mm scale, not real life) read on!

The City Fighting rules for Flames Of War were introduced for Mid-War in Enemy at The Gates.

You can check out the rules in Mikes article here…

If you have not used these rules I encourage you to check them out.  The City Fighting rules are a small addition in terms of pages of instructions, but add a tremendous new level of tactics and weapon effects to the game.  In my regular games group, we enjoy these rules so much we switched to the City Fighting City Building rules for every game that has buildings in it (which is all of them)!

Check out the City Ruins in our Online Store here…

I hear you say “this sounds good but I don’t have any city ruins or buildings in my terrain collection.”  Don’t worry…there are a large assortment of options made for Flames Of War and the new City Ruins boxed set has just been released.  It has enough terrain in it for an entire city block (I will be getting back to this in future articles)! This amazing set, which is great value, will let you get playing in the concrete hell of urban warfare fast.

So how does City Fighting work and what is different?  Let’s take a look.

Fighting in the Streets

First of all, cities have streets and in a war zone the streets are cluttered with rubble and made of concrete and brick.  This means City Fighting is often done entirely in difficult terrain and troops cannot dig in.   This presents a host of new and interesting tactical options where cover is not as easy to come by in the open.

City Buildings

Buildings in urban areas can be huge, which requires some different rules.  Within a City Fight building you can have several “rooms” which also extend upwards encompassing any floors overhead.  When battling in these buildings you need to move and fight room to room and it is possible to have several units from both sides fighting to occupy a building!  Because of the nature of the close and cluttered conditions inside a building, bulletproof cover and concealment abounds and assaulting teams can claim bulletproof cover when they charge!  I think it is needless to say assault-oriented troops become crucial in urban battles.  If you enjoy the decisive brutality of the assault step in Flames Of War, then the City Fighting rules are sure to become a favourite for you!

Note: the contents of the City Ruins boxes have changed slightly since this original document was put together

Check out the City Ruins in our Online Store here…

Barrage Weapons

Artillery is always very important in your plan to achieve victory and it remains the same in City Fighting but with some minor differences.  Because buildings are enclosed spaces, rather than attacking everything under a template, the target is selected by room (and also adjacent rooms for Salvo weapons).  The most drastic effect on artillery however is the likelihood that you will want to use a lot of direct fire from your big guns because of how the Brutal rule works with city buildings (see below).

Brutal Weapons

As World War II ground on it became quite common for commanders on all sides to bring in the big guns and howitzers to simply demolish buildings with the enemy inside them!  In Flames Of War City Fighting this means that when anything with the Brutal rule causes a hit you add a further 1d6 to the number!  A brutal weapon when it hits could actually cause damage up to 7 times!  If you find your Brumbars, AVRE Churchills, Sherman 105s and 122mm canons sitting out of games don’t worry…they are about to become very important!

Flame Throwers 

The devastating effects of flame throwers probably don’t need much explanation.  In the close spaces of the city where cover is everywhere, rerolling saves and auto firepower becomes so effective that you will want a healthy dose of flame throwers in every army. I know I always take the Demolitions Experts command card on my American Rifle platoons (which replaces 1 rifle stand with a flame thrower) and if you have any Churchill Crocodiles you will want to bring them along!

Scenarios

Though the City Fighting rules can easily be added to any game of Flames Of War, some scenarios, usually played on a smaller board size, are available for urban warfare.  This tend to be a very aggressive fast paced type of game which might be a nice change from the long-range slug fests that can sometimes play out.  Also, because tanks are limited in their maneuverability in cities, building army lists for City Fighting can become quite different from regular games.  More often than not you will want to rely on infantry with tank-based support for your games rather than the other way around! If you are planning any campaigns with linked scenarios I would suggest throwing the odd City Fighting scenario into it to shake things up.

It’s All About the Visuals

I think a great deal of the appeal of wargaming in the Flames Of War setting comes from the highly artistic nature of the game.  There is just something about recreating the real world in 15mm that not only leads to a good game but also makes it a visual work of art!  City Fighting seems to heighten this experience.  Not everyone knows how big a Tiger tank is in real life, but everyone will have a sense of how big a house or storefront is.  This makes City Fighting games seem that much more impressive and involving.  If you don’t believe me create your own city terrain board and see what happens!

More Content Will Follow

This article is just an overview of how the City Fighting rules function.  The process of doing battle in a congested city centre is a very complex topic with a lot of topics for discussion.  From tactics for your Flames Of War armies, to showcasing the fantastic terrain options available for your games, we have much more to cover.  Watch out for more articles coming soon!

Get Ready for Urban Warfare

If you want to add some variety, alternate weapon effects or visuals to your games of Flames Of War I strongly urge you to check out the City Fighting rules.  With Bagration: Soviet and new terrain sets launching soon, these will pair nicely with the historically themed city games you will want to play.  Besides the City Fighting rules give you something fun to do with all of those 122mm, Brutal IS-2 canons we will all be painting!

~Joe

City Fighting 101

with Mike Haught

We originally published this article during the Enemy At The Gates Live Launch, but it is still relevant today with the launch of the Bagration: Soviet book. Whenever Mike talks about Stalingrad you think of the cities throughout Poland that were fortified and turned into defensive positions by the retreating German army as Operation Bagration relentlessly marched on…

From the very start of the Eastern Front projects we knew that urban combat was an essential part of the story of Stalingrad and wanted to include some city fighting rules. We also knew that city fighting generally comes with some barriers to entry, so we carefully marked out some design considerations to make city fighting accessible and fun.

  • We wanted to make sure the rules played fast and focused on the action.
  • We wanted the narrative to focus the action on one or two key buildings.
  • We wanted urban table set ups to be achievable for the average player
  • We wanted to give players the ability to play city fighting games practically anywhere.

Streamlined Rules
Often city fighting rules games can take a lot of time and effort to use and detract from the fun. The terrain causes strange situations, raises questions, and generally adds a lot of administration time when you’d rather be just throwing grenades into rooms before storming it with flame-throwers and submachine-guns. So we wanted to focus on what matters in city fighting and tried a lot of things out.

The breakthrough came when we freed ourselves from the burden of measured movement inside buildings. Getting tape measures into buildings to measure movement from room to room, up and down levels, and checking weapon ranges was simply taking up time and actually causing a lot of disruption by hitting models and tipping over the buildings. What really mattered about fighting in buildings were the rooms themselves. Everything happens between rooms and the position of teams in the rooms doesn’t matter. It’s a lot easier and more narrative to just point to a room and say “I’m going to assault that room from this one.” and then just start rolling dice. It cuts straight to the action and lets you start throwing grenades, rather than measuring to see if that team in the corner could reach the doorway.

Key Buildings
When you read about Stalingrad, the stories you see are about key buildings like the Grain Elevator, the Red October Factory, or Pavlov’s House. The buildings were as much a character in these fights as the soldiers themselves, shaping the fight as well as the battle’s final outcome. We included four special missions in the Stalingrad books that let you recreate these fights. While they draw inspiration from actual fights for Stalingrad buildings, the missions are intentionally designed so that you can use them at any point in the war so you can use them for battles set in places like Leningrad, Arnhem, Cologne, Berlin, or even more remote urban areas like Tobruk.

Achievable Tables
The common temptation or expectation is to always try and cover a whole table in buildings. While tables full of city terrain can certainly be done and look amazing, for many of us gamers, this creates a huge barrier to trying city fights. Having a full table of building terrain, is typically unattainable and often impractical for the normal gamer. So we wanted a solution that would work for both types of players. The terrain goal for playing the city fighting missions in the book is achievable and reusable. We limited the essential buildings for these missions to at least two complete buildings so you can get two building boxes and be ready to play. Of course you can add more to your table and play larger urban games if you’d like.

Kitchen Table Gaming
The nature of city fighting is that it takes a lot of troops fighting in a small area to get the job done. Every level in a building effectively doubles the gameplay space below it, so you can fit a lot more troops in a square foot than you would on other tables. This means that you can still use a normal sized force on a much smaller table, which opens up an interesting possibility. The urban fighting missions are designed for a 2’x3’ (60x90cm) table, so you can play a game of Flames Of War wherever you have a table that size. For me, that includes my coffee table in my lounge or my dining room table. (Pro tip, make sure 19 month old children are properly stowed before using this product within 24”/60cm of the floor.) So if you’ve got that friend that you want to introduce the game to, here’s a set of missions that you can use at your home to push them over the edge.

So that’s it! If you’ve never tried urban fighting in Flames Of War, now’s your chance. The rules are streamlined and narrative-focused, the terrain goal is achievable, and you don’t need a lot of space to play. It’s time to grab that bag of grenades and go clear that building!

Want to try out the new City Fighting rules for yourself?
City Fighting Rules PDF (right click, save as)…

~Mike

Race To Minsk: Ace Campaign

Contains ten Story Episode Mission Cards, eight Story Epilogue Cards, ten Side Mission Cards, 16 Ace Cards, 20 Reward Cards and one Ace Campaign Rule booklet.

What Is Race to Minsk?
Race to Minsk is the second in a series of Ace Campaigns, a narrative-driven system of Flames Of War battles. Ace Campaigns are extremely flexible in allowing players to tailor their campaign to fit their playgroups needs. There are three different modes that you can play the campaign in: Story Mode, Extended Mode, and Aces Mode. Story mode is your shortest campaign that only uses the Story and Reward cards, while Extended allows you to play longer campaigns by adding in side missions. The Aces mode can be used with Story Mode or Extended Mode and allows players to create their own unique commander with special abilities that will give them an edge during the course of the campaign.

Click here to view the Race to Minsk: Ace Campaign in the online store here…

Story Mission Cards
The first thing to do is to play the current mission. In the first turn, Episode 1: Storming Forward. Read the narrative text to give you and your opponent context for your battle. Then follow the instructions on the mission card to set up your game. Once everything is ready, play your game!

Once the mission has been resolved, locate the next mission indicated on the Story Mission you just completed. That will be your next Story Mission. Then discard all other Story Mission Cards with that same Episode number as the new mission.

In this Example if the Allies win the Storming Forward mission, then the next mission will be Smash the Defences. If the Axis win, then the next mission would be A Strong Position.

Side Mission Cards
Side Missions are used in the Extended Play mode, for those who want a longer campaign. In the extended mode, more missions and rewards are added to the mix. Side missions are played between the story missions and all missions grant players rewards that they can use in future games. This mode is ideal if you want to spend a little more time playing games and earning rewards.

Side Missions are bonus games that you can play after the main Story Missions. They give you an opportunity to try out new Ace abilities (while playing Aces Mode) and earn valuable rewards. Once a side mission has been played, set it aside and do not shuffle it back into the deck, this means that you never play the same Side Mission twice in a campaign.

Reward Cards
Completing missions will earn you rewards that you can use in subsequent missions. Rewards are sorted into tiers, one for each phase of the game following a Story Mission. The higher the tier level, the more powerful the effect the reward will have.

Once used, reward cards are shuffled back into their respective tier decks.

Ace Choosing an Ace
Before playing their first game, players choose an Ace set to use throughout the campaign. This set includes two Infantry Ace sets and two Tank Ace sets. These Aces will have abilities better suited to their type, so for example, a tank ace is better off leading a tank force.When a player chooses an Ace, one of that player’s formation commanders becomes the Ace for the campaign. Any abilities and special effects granted by the Ace are limited to Units in that Ace’s Formation.

Ace Abilities
Completing missions will earn you rewards that you can use in subsequent missions. Rewards are sorted into tiers, one for each phase of the game following a Story Mission. The higher the tier level, the more powerful the effect the reward will have.

Once used, reward cards are shuffled back into their respective tier decks.

Flexible Campaign System
The Ace Campaign system is meant to be flexible, and fit your group’s needs making even easier for you and your friends to set up and play in a campaign, or to set up a story driven Tournament, the set can do that too.

The system can grow as well, as more and more sets come out you will gain more and more cards to add to your Ace Campaign sets, giving you even more Aces to choose form, new story missions, more side missions and even more Reward cards.

City Fighting 101

with Mike Haught

From the very start of the Eastern Front projects we knew that urban combat was an essential part of the story of Stalingrad and wanted to include some city fighting rules. We also knew that city fighting generally comes with some barriers to entry, so we carefully marked out some design considerations to make city fighting accessible and fun.

  • We wanted to make sure the rules played fast and focused on the action.
  • We wanted the narrative to focus the action on one or two key buildings.
  • We wanted urban table set ups to be achievable for the average player
  • We wanted to give players the ability to play city fighting games practically anywhere.

Streamlined Rules
Often city fighting rules games can take a lot of time and effort to use and detract from the fun. The terrain causes strange situations, raises questions, and generally adds a lot of administration time when you’d rather be just throwing grenades into rooms before storming it with flame-throwers and submachine-guns. So we wanted to focus on what matters in city fighting and tried a lot of things out.

The breakthrough came when we freed ourselves from the burden of measured movement inside buildings. Getting tape measures into buildings to measure movement from room to room, up and down levels, and checking weapon ranges was simply taking up time and actually causing a lot of disruption by hitting models and tipping over the buildings. What really mattered about fighting in buildings were the rooms themselves. Everything happens between rooms and the position of teams in the rooms doesn’t matter. It’s a lot easier and more narrative to just point to a room and say “I’m going to assault that room from this one.” and then just start rolling dice. It cuts straight to the action and lets you start throwing grenades, rather than measuring to see if that team in the corner could reach the doorway.

Key Buildings
When you read about Stalingrad, the stories you see are about key buildings like the Grain Elevator, the Red October Factory, or Pavlov’s House. The buildings were as much a character in these fights as the soldiers themselves, shaping the fight as well as the battle’s final outcome. We included four special missions in the Stalingrad books that let you recreate these fights. While they draw inspiration from actual fights for Stalingrad buildings, the missions are intentionally designed so that you can use them at any point in the war so you can use them for battles set in places like Leningrad, Arnhem, Cologne, Berlin, or even more remote urban areas like Tobruk.

Achievable Tables
The common temptation or expectation is to always try and cover a whole table in buildings. While tables full of city terrain can certainly be done and look amazing, for many of us gamers, this creates a huge barrier to trying city fights. Having a full table of building terrain, is typically unattainable and often impractical for the normal gamer. So we wanted a solution that would work for both types of players. The terrain goal for playing the city fighting missions in the book is achievable and reusable. We limited the essential buildings for these missions to at least two complete buildings so you can get two building boxes and be ready to play. Of course you can add more to your table and play larger urban games if you’d like.

Kitchen Table Gaming
The nature of city fighting is that it takes a lot of troops fighting in a small area to get the job done. Every level in a building effectively doubles the gameplay space below it, so you can fit a lot more troops in a square foot than you would on other tables. This means that you can still use a normal sized force on a much smaller table, which opens up an interesting possibility. The urban fighting missions are designed for a 2’x3’ (60x90cm) table, so you can play a game of Flames Of War wherever you have a table that size. For me, that includes my coffee table in my lounge or my dining room table. (Pro tip, make sure 19 month old children are properly stowed before using this product within 24”/60cm of the floor.) So if you’ve got that friend that you want to introduce the game to, here’s a set of missions that you can use at your home to push them over the edge.

So that’s it! If you’ve never tried urban fighting in Flames Of War, now’s your chance. The rules are streamlined and narrative-focused, the terrain goal is achievable, and you don’t need a lot of space to play. It’s time to grab that bag of grenades and go clear that building!

Want to try out the new City Fighting rules for yourself?
City Fighting Rules PDF (right click, save as)…

~Mike