Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Tanks! (Western Front) (FOW Survival Guide)

Let's face it, this is the main reason we love this game so much... Tanks! - Lots and lots of tanks! It is only fair therefore that we give them a dedicated spotlight in the Survival Guide...
Regardless of list type armour will almost always play a dominant role in any FOW battle. Whether they are supporting other units, or leading the main thrust into battle, you are going to want to ensure that you have the right tool to do the job that your list requires of them. As such we shall be looking at some of the more iconic tanks of the late war period (Western front) and discussing their apparent strengths and weaknesses, as well as the role that might suit them best. 

Now of course, I am no expert (far from it) and the opinions mentioned in this article are just that - my opinions. In addition it's important to remember that the majority of the tanks we shall be looking at are capable of fulfilling several different roles within the game. There is no right answer here, so feel free to experiment. Anyways enough chitty chatty & more tanky tanky...

Tiger 1e
Probably the most famous tank of the war. The 88 gun was feared so much by the allies that almost every Panzer was called out as being a "Tiger" by panicked allied tank crews, despite there actually being very few of these cumbersome cats on the battlefield. An active Tiger tank was probably a rare sight in actual fact.

- Great gun that can penetrate most armoured vehicles in game
- Exceptional range of 40"
- Top armour 2
- Good side armour
- Tiger Aces!
- Expensive on points
- Frontal armour 9 can be penned by a lot of late war weaponry
- Slow moving

The Tiger 1 for me has changed its role in the late war period. Instead of being the front line mammoth that it can be in mid war I feel it is best used in a supporting, sniper role in LW. I prefer to take two of them, (normally as part of an infantry/mech list) and sit them back, picking things off from a distance. Of course they can make for a decent counter attacking weapon, using their good all round armour to assault the enemy and get stuck in. It's frontal armour might be decent however you should note that in LW there will nearly always be something lurking in an opponents army that can knock them out at close range if you are not careful. At such high points value, you can rarely afford to lose them like this.

Another icon - This was the tank of choice for the allies for a long time. It was introduced in the desert and was fundamental in pushing the Germans out of North Africa. The Americans in particular were less interested in cumbersome heavy armour and preferred mobility and numbers to take the fight back to the Germans. The M4 fitted this role perfectly.
- Smoke
- Affordable on points
- Good special rules (Semi in direct fire for British, Stabilisers for US etc)
- Front armour 6 will not reliably stand up to most dedicated anti tank guns.
- AT 10 will struggle to destroy enemy armour 

I really like the Sherman as its pretty versatile. The nation you are using them with decides it's best suited role. With the US the M4 is usually best on the move (perhaps from reserves?) as they can normally utilise the fantastic stabilisers special rule, or equally they can lead the line in an aggressive tank army. Combined with lots numbers, good tank destroyer support and artillery the M4 can punch well above its weight!
If you are playing British a more subtle approach is required. The Sherman will normally be accompanied by a Firefly to add some more AT value and benefits from the semi in direct fire rule, which requires the firing tank to be stationary and firing at long range. As such I see the Sherman in more of a supporting role for an infantry company with the Brits. 
Whichever nation you choose correct usage of direct fire smoke is vital in keeping the M4 alive!

Churchill III,IV,VI, VII
"Ooooh yes Churchill"! The fact that this tank had even made the battlefield at all is thanks to British pride and down right stubbornness! The heavy tank was riddled with mechanical faults in its early days and was even dismissed by the Germans at one stage as being pretty useless. How wrong they were...
- Survivability
- Benefits from wide tracks, semi indirect fire and protected ammo rules
- Can fire smoke
- Can take different variants in a single platoon, which allows more flexibility
- Weak AT value
- Slow moving
- Difficult to hide behind buildings and other terrain as such a large target

The Churchill was classified as being an 'Infantry tank' and this is the way you want to play it... I feel it works best mopping up whatever the infantry and artillery haven't already taken out. I like to upgrade one of the Churchills in the platoon to a mark VII, which gives that tank a front armour of 13. Clever tip, if you then place the upgraded tank into close range of an enemy threat (and leave the other tanks in long range) then the first hit from that enemy platoon has to be placed on the close range tank first (despite it having the strongest armour). Used smartly and in combination with smoke, you can really nullify the effectiveness of any enemy armour.

Panzer IV
No World War Two tank comparison would be complete without mentioning the Panzer IV. Germany produced this tank from the beginning to end of the war. It's versatility in the various weaponary and upgraded armour it could uphold secured its place in history as being a legendary tank!
- Good gun
- Great assaulting tank, thanks to Schutzen armour
- Affordable on points
- Stormtroopers and mission tactics helps keep them from getting caught out.
- Side/rear armour is terrible
- No smoke capability
- Most tanks can pen the front armour (6 rating)

To play the Panzer IV to its strengths we need to look at its weaknesses.. It has quite weak armour and cannot fire smoke to conceal itself. I think the best way to play this tank therefore is by, firstly having decent numbers of them. Stormtroopers and mission tactics will help keep them moving , but they will still inevitably take losses, so the more hulls you have in the attack, the better. Not much can stand up to a concentrated assault of Panzer IVs!

Otherwise known as the 'Easy 8' the M4A3E8 is basically an up-armoured and up-gunned M4. U.S. tank doctrine still preferred numerous amounts of highly mobile, versatile armoured vehicles that could be easily repaired on the field. However the M4 was basically becoming dated by the end of the war and simply could not stand up to the German arsenal. The Easy 8 was the solution...
- Great all rounder
- Decent gun
- Best special rules in game
- Expensive on points (unless taking trained)
- Excels at nothing
- Will still lose head on fights vs Tigers and Panthers so a flanking strategy is required

Ah behold the jack of all trades... The E8 is a great tank - there is almost no task that it cannot fufill. Need to kill medium armour effectively? Want a concentrated and highly mobile tank list? A versatile infantry support weapon? The E8 can do it all! The combination of US special rules such as Stabilisers & Detroits Finest along with a respectable front armour and great gun make this for me the best all round tank in Flames of War! There are other players out there in a much better position to explain and talk about good lists and tactics for this tank and we shall be looking at talking to these players in the very near future I promise!

Closing Thoughts
Well that's it for the Western Front. I hope you have enjoyed my very quick guide on some of the more famous armoured vehicles of WW2. Apologies if there are some obvious omissions - however please note that I will be covering the Eastern Front next time and felt it would be more appropriate to add the Tiger II and Panther to that guide instead of this one. If enough interest is generated by these articles then I plan to do similar guides for other units such as tank destroyers and field guns etc. Of course I shall also be pestering some of the top players once again to gain further insight in how to get the most out of your toy soldiers!
Papa Bear out!


  1. Nice write-up, I think my Germans will have to invest in some Tigers ;)
    One question: You say "The combination of US special rules such as Stabilisers, Detroits Finest & Direct Fire Smoke along with a respectable front armour and great gun make this for me the best all round tank in Flames of War!" Isn't the 76mm gun lacking smoke in all briefings or did I miss something?

  2. You are right it lacks smoke but it's in the army that has the most smoke so I don't think its a massive problem

  3. Thanks Makke for pointing out error, will get that altered.

  4. I really enjoyed this post, I fond it very factual and relatable. I myself play Soviets, is there any chance you will be doing a write-up for Eastern armies as well?

  5. Hi,

    I have been reading these tactics/army construction articles for a while and they are really wonderful. Would there be any chance that you could do some more of them, whatever sort floats your boat? Great read, thank you.

  6. Hi Joshua and Cassidy,
    Thankyou for your kind comments. I really enjoy writing these articles and I'm glad that fellow gamers are enjoying reading them too! :-)
    I have several Survival Guide posts lined up to do, so don't worry theres plenty of rambling left in me! lol. Eastern Front tanks will be covered next and after that Tank Destroyers and Assault Guns
    Thanks again