Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume One

Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume One Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume One
Fate Of A Nation: Arab-Israeli Wars, Six-Day, 1967.
with Blake Coster

Since I started working for Battlefront, my knowledge of World War Two has grown exponentially. This growth is often prompted either by personal interest in a particular topic; pure osmosis (being surrounded by Phil, Wayne and Mike all day means you can’t help picking things up) or by sheer necessity.

In terms of Battlefront’s latest expansion, Fate Of A Nation, it was purely out of necessity in order to do my job. But that necessity soon grew into personal interest as I learned more about the events surrounding the Six-Day War. This in turn gave me the idea of writing a series of articles sharing my experiences as I build a force from Fate Of A Nation, not necessarily from a power-gaming point of view but as someone with only a basic level of knowledge of a period (the Six-Day War) in an attempt to explain the rationale behind each decision when building my new army from Fate Of A Nation.
Fate Of A Nation
The fate of a nation hangs in the balance. Israel cannot lose even a single battle. One defeat would mean the destruction of the tiny Jewish state. Not waiting to be attacked by the Arab forces massing on its borders, Israel strikes first.

Learn more about Fate Of A Nation here...
Fate Of A Nation
Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume One
Hopefully this will give others, whether you are thinking about starting your own army for Fate Of A Nation or just looking at starting your very first army for Flames Of War, a few things to ponder.

So on that note, let’s get started.

Right: Starting a new army; always worth celebrating.
Are You For Us Or Against Us?
The first thing I needed to decide was which nation I wanted to represent with my force. In Fate Of A Nation there are three: the Israelis, the Jordanians and the United Arab Republic (or UAR for short). Anybody who knows me personally knows that I like to think of myself as a hardworking, nose-to-the-grindstone, all-about-the-details type of guy. I also dislike bullies and I constantly root for the underdog, so the Israelis seemed to perfect choice.

To some, it may seem odd to gravitate toward a particular nation for a tabletop wargame because you can identify with them on a personal level. But my mind was made up. Israelis it is!

Left: Israel; my nation of choice for Fate Of A Nation.
Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume One
Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume One
That Was Easy!
In Fate Of A Nation, there is only one choice of company type for the Israelis: the P’lugah Tan’kim (pronounced p-loo-gah tahn-keem or Tank Company). So that was easy. However, outside of Fate Of A Nation in the regular Flames Of War world there are many other types of companies.

Right: While a Tank Company is the only choice for the Israelis in Fate Of A Nation, there are plenty of other companies available to choose from in Flames Of War.
In my experience, selection of company type - or nation, for that matter - comes down to a person’s particular playing style. If a player has a more cautious style, they might tend toward an infantry force backed by plenty of artillery and air support. They’re happy to let the enemy come to them, using their artillery and air power to grind down their opponent as they advance before letting the opposition threw themselves onto their prepared defensive position. An American Rifle Company or British Rifle Company are good examples of these type of forces.
Bolder players may favour a Win Big – Lose Big approach. That means winning the game with outright aggression that either sweeps the enemy aside with the greatest of ease or fails dramatically in the attempt. The classic Soviet Tankovy Batalon is a prime example. Sheer numbers mean a rapid advance allows the player to take their licks with enough left over to deliver a decisive blow to the enemy.

Left: Infantry; always a popular choice in Flames Of War.

Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume One
Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume One
These examples are from both ends of the spectrum; most players are a mixture of the two. But I find that the best players are adaptive to what their opponents are doing. They are aggressive when they need to be and cautious when the circumstances call for it. Remember, Flames Of War is a dice-based game, and while skill plays a big part, sometimes luck can be a great equaliser. All you can do is get yourself into a position where the odds are in your favour and in the long run you’ll come out on top.

Right: Looking to the heavens for divine intervention is sometimes the only thing you can do if the dice are rolling funny.
But I digress. The bonus (for me anyway) is that the Israelis have some of the coolest models available to them. Since I’m probably the biggest Treadhead in the Battlefront Studio, the model factor definitely plays a role in force selection. I’m quite happy to build an army based entirely on one model purely on aesthetics, even if it’s totally ineffective on the tabletop. Which is often the case, either through limitations imposed by game balance - for example, higher points cost means a small force, etc. - or my own tactical ineptitude.

Left: Tanks; always my first choice for any Flames Of War army.
Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume One
Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume One

So, to summarise things so far, I’ve decided to build an Israeli P’lugah Tan’kim because 1) I can identify with the core values of the Israeli Defence Force (or IDF for short) - i.e. well-prepared, well-trained and the underdog; and 2) They have the coolest models (in my opinion) in the period - eg. M51 Isherman, M50 Sherman, Sho’t etc.

Right: Big guns; the Israeli M51 Isherman.

Decisions, Decisions…
So what’s next? With the Israelis in Fate Of A Nation there are no less than eight different tanks to choose from that can be inlcuded in the P’lugah Tan’kim. These include the Sho’t; the Centurion; the Magach 3; the Magach 2; the M51 Isherman; the M50 Sherman; the M1 Super Sherman and finally the AMX. For game balance purposes, each tank is pointed differently depending on their stats and the rating of the crews.

Left: Combined arms of infantry and tanks...
Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume One
Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume One
A very basic rule of thumb is the more armour a tank has and the bigger the gun and the better the crew, the higher the points cost for that particular vehicle. This is where the ancient art of List Alchemy comes into play - or in layman’s terms getting the most bang for your buck out of your 1500 points. Is it better to go with fewer quality tanks that are more expensive, have better survivability on the battlefield and may allow you to get away with a bit more tactically (or the lack of in my case) or a mass of cheaper tanks where you can afford to lose a few and still remain a cohesive unit? Of course there is a third option: finding that balance between quality and quantity.

Right: ...Or all the eggs in one basket in a fully-armoured force?

Next Time On Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown
Join me for the next instalment of Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown as I discuss the pros and cons of each of the eight Israeli tanks featured in Fate Of A Nation and my rationale behind their inclusion or exclusion as I present my 1500-point Israeli P’lugah Tan’kim.

Till then, let the odds ever be in your favour.

~ Blake.

Read Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume Two here…
Read Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume Three here…

Blake’s Battlefield Breakdown: Volume One