After having several posts discussing the tactics, theories and doctrines of the many units in Flames of War, I thought it was appropriate to start discussing the process of making army lists. This article will be followed by several sample lists by our authors and myself that will give good examples of what makes balanced and competitive list.
List making is an often neglected art in FoW (paling in comparison to 40k) due to the more limited selection of individual unit customization and the tendency to build forces on historical motivation only. Players new to FoW will often be surprised that there is no one list or even set of lists that will prevail over all others. Unlike 40k, unit stats do not (or rarely) change due to new and updated books, thus eliminating the phenomenon of “codex creep”. With this in mind, it is crucial to understand what the role of each unit is in a list and how it operates with other forces on the table. The excellent list making charts in battlefront books allow for an easy and quick way to make lists that will be competitive (and historical) in almost every game. It is up to the player, however, to make the crucial selections of units that will have a primary focus on the table
When building a list in FoW there are many factors and variables to consider in order to have a coherent and effective force. When selecting platoons for an army list it always essential to consider what there actual role will be on the table. This may sound rudimentary and simple, but I have seen many lists that contain units for little to no apparent reason other than to fill point requirements. When selecting platoons, it is also important to figure out if they mesh together to create a unified fighting force that is able to support itself and perform a variety of tasks. When creating a list there are several main areas of focus that should be addressed in all company types.
Platoon Count: This is an often overlooked area of concern, but can be decisive in deciding the outcome of a game before it even begins. With almost half of the normal game types employing reserve rules, there is a good chance you will be playing with only half your platoons (rounding down) at the start of a game. Therefore, it is good common sense to try to field an even number of platoons in a company. When playing with British rifle companies I aways shoot for at least 8 platoons so I can have a good mixed force down if I am forced to play with only half my army at the beginning of the game. Rifle companies should be compelled in most situations to always take at least three platoons of infantry in order to have a “critical mass” of infantry.
Offensive Capabilities: Probably the most common error made by all FoW players is the tendency to make lists (especially infantry companies) that are ideal for defending only. For example, players will often take only towed or immobile AT guns, limited to no artillery support, Heavy Machine Gun platoons and large amounts of unsupported infantry. In combination, lists that have the aforementioned attributes can be quite ineffective at sustaining large scale assaults in missions where you will be forced to attack or have a meeting engagement (free for all, encounter). When designing a list, always think of the various mission types you could be participating in and opposing lists you will be going up against. Spending the extra points to make your AT self-propelled can make a huge difference in a game where you are forced to traverse long distances on the offesnive.
Anti Tank : Making sure a list has the appropriate amount of anti-tank can be crucial in preventing an opposing armored company from moving with impunity on the table. AT platoons have some of the most varied weapons and vehicles in the game and are able to fit almost any situation or list. When selecting AT in a list, be sure to not overdue the anti-tank or under equip yourself for dealing with armor. German players can potentiality suffer the most from overdoing their AT by selecting several expensive and high value AT guns. Though Panthers and Hornisses are both exceptional and feared units, having both in a list for the purposes of AT is redundant and weakens the list overall. When choosing AT platoons also keep in mind what period you are in and what your likely opponents are. If you are playing against the Germans in late war, a few 6 pdrs or Sherman IIIs will more than likely fail at eliminating enemy heavy armor. Dedicated AT units such as M-10s, Marders, Pak 40s, 6pdrs and SU-85s are all good choices. These platoons’ relatively cheap costs and effective AT abilities support the rest of your list that is not equipped to handle armor.
Recce: This is another important category, and a crucial component of any balanced list. The ability to remove the “gone to ground” status of an enemy platoon (especially against veterans) can be extremely important in order to gain key range ins or when pinning. Reece does not have to be fancy or a large unit in order to get the job done. These platoons are usually fairly cheap because of this, and can easily be fit into most companies. Recce also fills the important role of harassing the enemy with quick, hit and run tactics using “cautious movement” to stay out of harms way. Whether it be a single Carrier patrol for the British, a soviet recce infantry platoon or the various German options (see Chimera1715’s article) recce simply needs to get the job done.
Template Weapons/Pinning: With the exception of some armored companies, every list should have some capability to project artillery templates down the table. This can be as simple and cheap as a 4 gun mortar section or as elaborate as a Soviet 12 gun battery. Either way, your tanks and especially infantry are going to need help when trying to pin and assault. Templates are the most effective way to fill this vital role. For almost all armies (excluding the Soviets) templates can provide valuable smoke barrages as well, concealing your movement and frustrating enemy units.
Company Cohesion: Arguably the most important element of any list is its ability to work as a single effective unit. Always be aware of the purpose of each unit and regularly look into why you are actually choosing certain units. What is their role? Are they offensive or defensive oriented? Will they be able to support my core choices? These are important questions every gamer should ask themselves when making competitive and fun lists. Hodgepodge lists often play as they are described; ineffectual and disorganized.
The concepts listed above are by no means all encompassing for every list in FoW, but they do provide the basic framework for a successful and competitive list. List making can be a entertaining process in FoW do to the sheer amount of lists and the historical relevance of them. Never be afraid to try new unit combinations or lists simply because they appear weak. Following the basic rules above can make almost any list enjoyable to play with.