I had wanted to do a few articles on tactics within Flames of War and figured that perhaps army list construction is the best place to start. I am going to commit to getting one tactics article out every monday for the next year. This doesn’t mean that we wont have other content, it just means that we will have one post a month on tactics.
So without further hesitation here is an article I wrote on competitive army list construction. Enjoy!
Army List 101
This is by no means “the” way to build an army list or the only way. It is simply the way that I build my lists:I do not typically build a list to defend or attack, I want my lists to be able to do everything. This is even true when I build my always attack armoured lists and my fortified companies. Instead I answer these questions:
So without any delay click the more tab in order to see my take on what these questions mean and how to answer them.
1) How will I deal with heavy Armour?
Whether this is long range high AT, artillery, planes, assault monster platoons, massed medium tanks on the flank, or some other trick I make sure that I have some sort of answer.
2) How will I deal with a medium or light tank horde?
This one is often one of the hardest aka tankovy, aka spankovy or even some of the confident trained lists out of the US or German books can be very difficult to deal with for some lists, particularly in mobile or fair fight missions.
I tend to attempt to either re-deploy faster than them (which is very hard, use lots of smoke for my re-deployments and then, of course have some direct fire AT. This is where British 6 pounders, German Pak 40s and rocket artillery can be fantastic.
It is also important to have some integrated AT, whether it be infantry held bazookas, piats, fausts, or pioneers you need something. It can also be some smaller caliber high rate of fire (ROF) guns with a half decent firepower that is there specifically for defensive fire. It rarely fires any other time, just in defensive fire when it can hit the weak side armour.
3) How will I deal with an infantry horde or fortified company?
This becomes the most important in tank lists. I tend to lean towards flame-throwers or heavy breakthrough guns (especially with Soviets) and smoke. You can alternatively include some tank escorts, infantry platoons, or massive artillery but the key is you need something!
4) How will I redeploy in mobile games?
This becomes extremely important for infantry and fortified lists but is important in all lists. Are you going to use smoke and terrain to utilize moving at the double? Do you have some spearhead infantry that will hold a corridor allowing teams behind to move at the double more freely? Or maybe you just include some jeeps or some other fast element that can move quickly and allow tank riders or are transports specifically. For instance, in my two fortified armies I have used a train and a platoon of half-tracked infantry to allow me to get to the other objectives in a mobile mission.
You may also utilize the counter attack to buy time. You can push the offensive or wedge yourself in between the enemy deployment zone and where they are trying to get so that they have to fight your army in stages now. This works especially well in Counter Attack or Hasty Attack.
5) How will I handle reserves?
Under current rules this is a must for competitive lists. What will you put in reserve? Doesn’t matter if you are an always attack list or defensive list or neither. You need to understand reserves and what will be coming on later. You don’t always want something small and slow, sometimes you want something large and fast so that it can rejoin the battle extremely quickly.
I tend to have at least one platoon that wont matter, a single HMG or two medium mortars. However my other reserves will often be a large counterattacking fast moving force that can really take advantage of some of the reserve deployments available in missions. If I just have support in reserve it can often get picked off (unless we are playing no retreat).
I will rarely be able to answer all 5 questions in a way that is the best option but I make sure I have an answer of some-kind at least. I also try to double up. For instance heavy breakthrough guns are also decent mid level AT in a pinch. Infantry can help me hold positions, be a wedge or ways to deal with dug in defenders. Flame-throwers will help with dug in infantry and also be able to bail out some tanks or eliminating defensive fire so my infantry can then take them on.
I also try to form my company into elements. Sometimes there is some overlap to allow flexibility but I make sure I have all three of these covered if at all possible: I want to have a stationary element, a mobile element and an aerial element (artillery, planes, naval guns)
Lastly I refuse to ever have an odd number of platoons unless it takes me to 9. I will usually run 4 or 6 platoons. Then if I go big, I go BIG and go to a full 9 or 10. You will never see me run a company with 3, 5, 7 or 8 platoons as it just hurts the army too much.
Hope this helps the large group of newer players see what one of the more veteran players thinks about when designing lists.
If you want more opinions then talk to Curtis and Geoff as they also both have an affinity for list building. However, every veteran player has their own ideas and concepts when building lists and ultimately you need to find what fits your play style but I do believe thinking about those aforementioned 5 questions will help you immensely, no matter what list design strategy you use. Otherwise you end up playing rock paper scissors which can be far less fun. Build a list that has an answer (albeit sometimes a poor answer) to everything and both you and your opponent will enjoy your games more.
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