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[Flames of War] ideas for a beginner friendly army lists

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  limburger 2 years, 7 months ago.

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    Cult of Games Member

    After seeing the unboxing of the Late war Panzer Kampfgruppe ( ) and reading @phaidknott comment about how the box is not an ideal core for such an army had one simple question :

    • What would a historical correct (and fun!) starter set look like for any army in WW 2 ?
      Bonus question : what options to expand such a set ?

    Companies like Battlefront tend to pick the stuff that is easy to sell to beginners (everyone loves to have a Tiger … ).

    However we as hobbyists don’t have such constraints, but we could do beginners in this hobby a huge favour by showing them alternate lists that are fun,  historical correct and effective in game.
    That is … if such a thing is possible.

    So let’s prove Battlefront wrong 😉



    Just been going through some VERY hasty calculations. Now the ethos of this list is inspired from the day when my old wargames club used to do a “friendly” ancients competition. What was unusual from normal tourneys is that you had to bring TWO armies (here’s why)…..

    Basically the first player provided two armies and army lists, the second player then chose the army to play.

    Now this turns making a army list for competitions on it’s head, as you now have to design two lists that have an equal chance of killing each other. The net effect of this was that “cheese” army lists disappeared (as did one trick armies…anyone who’s faced a Hun army will know full well the battle is decided before the figures are deployed on the table).

    The second inspiration is from the points cost, now using the panzer-kampfgruppe contents, if a USA player were to try and use the historically correct equipment (and not run about buying Pershings), he/she would need to buy about 26 models (vs the 14 in the kampfgruppe box (a bit expensive).

    So designing TWO armies that can beat each other…..very roughly…..

    German “generic” late war box

    2X 231/1 Armoured Cars (yes this is the 20mm variant one the chaps poopoo’d), however this is the version the German army built from 44 onwards (they stopped making Pumas).

    3X Pak 40s (heavy enough to give a Sherman a hard time)

    2X Panther G’s (because they are a panther, and they are shiney…and they have a good gun).

    3X PZer IV Js (Workhorse of the German Army)

    3X Stug G (Most produced German AFV)

    …..13 models, about same model count but for 1/3rd less points.

    US “Generic” Late War Army

    1X M8 Armoured Cars. 2X Jeep

    3X M1 57MM ATG

    5X Sherman (late) 75mm (one with 76mm)

    5X Sherman (late) 75mm (one with 76mm)

    …14 models again (not requiring the Allied player to empty the bank).

    Armoured Cars picked to scout (they have the ability to easily kill each other), but not able to give the tanks a hard time. Thus the new player is learns how to scout effectively, and not try and kill enemy tanks.

    AT Gun picked on ability to give each sides tanks a hard time, but not over power (each side’s calibre is about the same)

    Tanks picked on historical commonality (post D-Day), AND ability to be shoe horned into army specific forces (such a Luftwaffe or even SS divisions).

    Now many here might say these are mainly mid-war era tanks, but issue is that is what made up the bulk of the fighting forces for each side post D-Day. However these ARE the late war variants of these AFVs (yes, you get to hang big bit of sheet metal off the sides of your PZer IVs and Stugs).

    With both of these as a “starter”, any new player could then go on to first buy some infantry, and only then go on to possibly buy small numbers of the elite AFVs to help “form” their army with a existing core of units from such a box set (rather than having the whole army built from these “uber” units). Thus you would see units that are more historically correct, more evenly matched (to teach you how to play), which of course delivers more fun games 🙂

    Might be WAYYY out on the points, but did my best from my old edition army books 🙂








    Cult of Games Member

    Thanks for the lists 🙂

    What about artillery ?

    Would that be next on these lists in addition to infantry ?

    I only have the mid-war DAK source book, so I can’t verify point values.
    However it sounds like they’d be comparable

    I’d assume one would pick the equivalent tanks, scouts & guns to create a Soviet or British army equivalent ?



    I’d probably say you’d need the infantry first on your shopping list.

    On other army lists again it’s taking a step down from the top tier stuff (so you have room for your army to “grow”) and building a list up to match one of the others that you would be happy to field either army against the other.

    Also in late 44 about 40% of AFVs in the Russian Army were t34-85s, 20% were T34-76s (or for every 2 T34-85s there was a T34-76 floating about). The T34-85 tended to be massed together in tank corps, and the T34-76 were still operating as independent tank “brigades” (read Battalion) attached to Rifle Corps. So the older mid war stuff was still being fielded in sizable numbers. Soviet Scout units could be a M3 White Scout Car (lend lease) with a HMG upgrade.

    It’s just looking at the production numbers, and picking from the ToEs the most common units as a first choice and building the rest of the army around that. I was amused when I saw someone fielding whole platoons of Pershings in one game (hey the army list lets you do it) against Tigers, Panthers and Tiger IIs (again the army list lets you do it). I’d expect the Late War US box to contain at least loads of M36 Jacksons (if not a few Pershings) in an attempt to match the forces in the Kampgruppen box and also keep the number of models (and cost) down.

    On second reread, I’m not sure if I would go for 2X 3″ AT guns for the US instead of the 57mm (or 6PDR to you and me), as after the “Panther Shock” of D-Day the US army went into a panic finding bigger towed AT guns. BTW in ’45 nearly all the towed AT units had moved over to Tank Destroyers. But we start getting “power creep” moving in and it destroys the “basic” equipment listed earlier (and we end up with everyone having 88s and 90mm ATGs again) 😀

    But I think something along the lines of the list about would make an ideal starter box for the late war era, there’s no gimmics and it would allow players to build up into other specific army lists (the Kampgruppen box is basically SS ToE, so you haven’t got a lot of movement/flexibility in building up from it).

    Hmm infantry purchases, why the plastic company boxes and use them as “foot sloggers” (no half tracks), these again make up the majority of the infantry in the field (possibly add some softskins as prime movers for the AT guns).

    Artillery? Add some heavy mortars for each army as a start (ideal for these smaller games), bigger artillery for bigger tables (and points cost).

    You can’t go wrong with the above


    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  phaidknott.

    Cult of Games Member

    Great thread.

    I guess it’s a case of how historically accurate you want to be. Most of my FoW lists and models are based on the Italian campaign (I have a couple of projects running on this at the moment – ) and some of the lists there cover divisions that operated in Italy for over 12 months – 26th Panzerregiment being an example. The lists for this covers all options from their activities at Anzio in early 1944 through to its actions further North in September 1944. So some historical digging would allow you to put together a list that is time period accurate.

    However, for a balanced, historical list for a beginner, I would suggest a few tanks, some infantry, some anti tank capability and some asset capable of hitting the enemy back line. So, from the Italian campaign I could suggest a Herman Goring PanzerKompanie that operated around Anzio in Feb/March 1944:

    HQ: 2 Panzer IV

    Panzer Platoon: 3 Panzer III M

    Panzer Platoon: 2 Panzer IV and 1 Panzer III M

    Fallschirmjager Infantry Platoon: 9 MG/Rifle teams and an HQ

    Heavy AA Gun Platoon: 2 8.8cm Flak36

    Armoured Artillery Battery: 3 Wespe

    Heavy Panzerspah Platoon: 2 Patrols of 2 8- Rad armoured cars

    All that comes in at 1500 points and is mostly Confident Veteran so should be fairly forgiving.

    To give them some historically accurate opponents, you could draw from US 1st Armoured Division. Again, these are listed as Confident Veteran

    HQ: 2 M4A1 Sherman

    Tank Platoon: 3 M4A1 Sherman

    Tank Platoon: 3 M4A1 Sherman

    Light Tank Platoon: 3 M5A1 Stuart

    Tank Destroyer Platoon: 2 M10 3″ (late)

    Armoured Rifle Platoon: HQ, LMG squad, 60mm Mortar, 2 Rifle Squads with bazooka all mounted in M3 Half Tracks

    Priority Air Support: P-47 Thunderbolt

    That all comes to 1495 points.

    Should provide a fairly balanced game for both sides.



    Cult of Games Member

    @redvers thanks for those suggestions 🙂

    Is the Flak 36 the same as the dreaded 88 ?
    Could it be replaced with something a little less threatening (yet still beginner-friendly) ?
    1 of these beasts was enough to scare the average British army player at Bootcamp.

    Your project ( ) has a few excellent tutorials on painting those pesky German camo patterns.

    I’m assuming that the 1500 point values are based on 3rd edition rules ?



    I think the Kampgruppen box in the unboxing came to about 2,200 pts (but that was a very rough calculation in 3rd ed).

    Indeed it’s strange to see how an army following the “historical” ORBAT and ToEs differ so wildly from the usual tourney listings you get for the same period. Yet by using the historical ToEs you start to field units that wouldn’t normally see the light of day on the table top.

    Doing a little research (or even just watching a video or two on YouTube) can really gen you up on the background to a theatre and inspire you a little in building a force. One good inspiration is to research what the local battalion/unit to you did in the war and build up that unit and supporting units (that might have you starting a theatre you would never have thought to do…there’s so many clashes and battles that just don’t feature in the main “wargaming press”.

    But when building a force up, it’s always best to start somewhere in the middle for the “power” of tanks and things. That way you can build up (or even down) in the ToEs effectiveness. Problem with fielding “uber” units from the get go is that you get used to it, and expand by buying yet more top tier equipment. For a German force I’d look at building a Heer force, and for Allied another straight infantry with tank support army. This way your units can fight in historical refights more often.

    Historical refights IS the way to go with games I feel. The problem with a tourney game of fixed points, fixed tables etc is you never have to fight an asymmetrical battle, or deal with some of the problems the commanders had to overcome on the day. These battle require a little research, yet then provide the variation that stops the games starting to feel stale.

    So anyone got any idea for more “beginner friendly” (starter) armies that fit into refighting historical battles and can be used as a base in building up more force specific army lists?

    BTW Redvers, some nice stuff in the project log (particularly liked the fielding of the Italian Armour as they did on the day), but you did pick one of the hardest fought battles in the whole of Italy to start with (there’s some really nice YouTube videos on this). Does Battlefront still sell the Goumier infantry in 15mm as these would make a extremely nice (although theatre specific) addition to your Allied units (if you want to spread the refight out to the right flank).


    Cult of Games Member

    ‘research’ is tricky for beginners, because it feels like work and reinventing the wheel. And they may run into problems as [insert unit/vehicle] isn’t available.

    That’s why pre-packaged armies are such an easy sell … and it’s the kind of army they’re going to build based on their initial material (the theatre books tend to highlight the elite units) which is why I think examples (like the ones posted) are really useful.


    Cult of Games Member

    @limburger Yes, the 8.8cm Flak 36 is, as far as I am aware, the same ‘dreaded 88’ that those at the boot camp faced. There were later iterations specifically designed for AT, such as the 8.8cm PaK43 and these were, I think, the guns mounted in the Hornisse and Elephant tank hunters. The Tiger 1 E mounted the Flak 36 variant.

    As to whether this is a beginner gun, I guess this depends upon which side you are on. I built the lists from the perspective of the owning player being the beginner. From that perspective, the only real issue with the 88 is that it is immobile so deployment is key. Once in place, it has the range (40″) and AT rating to punch through just about anything the Allies had in Italy (with the exception of a Churchill VII and Crocodile). So a beginner player doesn’t need to worry about moving lesser rated AT assets around to get side shots etc.

    Having reviewed the Herman Goring list again, it’s possible to take 3 platoons of 88’s so a better option would be to field two separate platoons of 88’s with a single gun in each. That way, you can deploy them separately to get better battlefield coverage. You also don’t have the issue of morale checks when you lose one gun from a two gun platoon. It’s 10 points more so would be balanced out by converting two of the Panzer III M to Panzer III N.

    But, if 88’s are too scary, you can replace with either a platoon of 3 StuG M42 75/34 (stolen Italian Semovente assault guns). These could play the role of AT and are the same points as 2 88’s. Or a dedicated platoon of 3 7.5cm PaK 40 AT guns with trucks. You’d then have points left over to throw a couple of Panzerfaust teams into the Fallschirmjagers.

    All the points are taken from the ver 3 support books for Italy, Road to Rome for the Allies and Fortress Italy for the Axis. I play ver 4 rules though. Sadly the Italian campaign support books for v4 are a long way down Battlefront’s release list 🙁

    @phaidknott I think points based gaming has its place and it’s fun seeing what your opponent will turn up with and whether your list will be able to cope with it. But I do agree that trying to be historically accurate is a lot of fun. The key to historical games is to consider the winning conditions for either side – perhaps the grossly outnumbered force just needs to survive for 4 turns to win the battle and so on.

    And as you rightly point out, you do get to field some kit that you would not normally do so – the Italian semoventes being an example – good guns but armour akin to damp tissue paper.

    It was looking into my local regiment, Royal Sussex, that drew me into the Italian theatre and Cassino. In addition to the project I linked above, I have two others running. One for the terrain build and one for the history and battle reports. In the latter, I’ve just finished the report for the Royal Sussex Regiment’s fateful assault on Point 593 on the North side of Monte Cassino.

    I think you can still get the Goumier infantry. Would be a lot of fun to play out their battles up in the mountains – they fought with particular bravery in very difficult conditions. But, I painted well over 300 infantry models preparing for Cassino and the thought of painting a lot more, especially with thin vertical lines, is a little daunting….


    Cult of Games Member

    @redvers : from a beginning players’ point of view they were definitely easy because they pretty much forced my opponents to not deploy anywhere near them.

    However it does require a terrain layout where there is at least a place to use them (even if all it does is dictate where your opponent places his forces).


    Cult of Games Member

    I cannot say I know, understand nor am familiar with this game, but I am changing my approach to wargames recently.


    If I were to invest in this, is there a two player starter, how much does it cost, and how much space does this game take up? Like how small a play area can I get away with? Im convinced the future of boardgames and wargaming is both portability and having a reasonably sized playing areas.


    Cult of Games Member

    @mage : Battlefront have the ‘El Alamein’ (North Afrika, British vs Germans) and Stalingrad (Germans vs Soviets).
    I’ve seen them listed at around 35$. I’m not sure what that translates to in local currency.

    They did announce a few D-day themed starter sets for june 2019.
    Or you could look at the army lists in this topic and find all the bits and pieces separate.

    As an alternative I’d suggest looking at the Tanks! WW2 game.
    It uses the same models, but it is playable on a 1 square meter map and there’s only a few tanks per team.



    Interesting to see that the Boot Camp is going with a basic list (rather than all the bells and whistles), well apart from having the US Paras on the table. 5 x 75mm Shermans, and 3 x 76mm Shermans. For the German side its 3 x PZer IVs and a battery of 76mm Pak 40s (kinda denoting the Germans are going to be in a defensive fight). But with the Americans outgunned due to the fact all the German stuff is 76mm, it looks like it’s going to be interesting.

    Pity they didn’t go with a Company of standard “dog” US infantry (rather than the Paras), BUT this list gives a fine “core” of units to build up your Flames of War 4th Ed Late War armies.

    ….it could have been far, far, worse (I heard about the problems with 88s in the Western Desert Bolt Action Boot Camp 😀




    Cult of Games Member

    @phaidknott I think the D-day bootcamp list is the starter set for 4th edition, because it is (nearly?) identical to the original 3rd edition starter set.

    And of course they picked paratroopers. It’s flippin’ D-day and the 101st has become famous as a result of ‘band of brothers’ tv series.

    I suspect another part of the ‘problem’ is that the image of the Americans during d-day is of them getting killed like sitting ducks. So focussing on the ‘heroic’ paratroopers makes sense from a business perspective.

    I’ve been at that bootcamp playing the DAK.  The 88s were not silver bullets. They did dictate enemy tactics (forcing to either deploy somewhere else or targetting them with artillery/smoke) but only on tables where they could function anywhere else they were dead weight. BTW: Battlegroup these things would be an off-table asset.

    I had more problems dealing with those flockin dual turret tanks the British had (I forgot the name), so it’s not like an auto-win for a newbie. However this is me as a total newbie with practical zero experience playing the game.



    Yup, it’s a sad thing that these days you have to follow Hollywood Films rather than the actual history to appeal to gamers. Historically it would have been normal US infantry in the field supporting the Shermans (the Para’s were mostly off doing their own thing). Perhaps you might have some engagements where the Shermans are trying to link up/relieve the Para’s position after D-Day. Still it would have made more sense (to me at least) to bung in some of the plastic US army figs into the starter box as this would give new players a broader scope in building up from what they got in the starter box.

    Yup, the only change from the old “Open Fire” box set is the change from Stug IIIs to PZer IVs (gives the German player a slightly better chance, or perhaps gamers these days don’t recognise a Stug as a tank?/or just don’t want them in their armies?).

    It’s also a common thing to see infantry for all nations equipped with half tracks (when it was a minority of troops that had access, even the PZer Gren troops were mostly truck born) on the table. I would like to see scenarios published for Flames of Wars based on actual ORBATS for the battle that would encourage players to collect the actual forces (rather than building a min-max army list), but then for me the hobby has always been based around “refights” of actual battles and not the tourney.

    Because by reading up on the history of the battle (and the units involved) BEFORE you refight it, I feel you get a better sense of connection to the period and it’s limitations. Throw in some scenario specific rules to “mix things up” and you have a fine way of stopping the game feeling stale after many battles.

    However I know many will not agree with me here (as players you do the refights of battles are few and far between), however it could form a different challenge to what players are used to. I remember when the only wargaming news used to be the single page in “Military Modelling” that usually had a battle featured for players to refight (these articles were just the history and ORBATS to allow any wargamer to use them no matter what rules they used). So back in the 80s, the refights were the way to go in most clubs (we refought Waterloo on a yearly basis at our club).



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