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Firestorm-Bagration Design Notes

By Ken Camel

Welcome to Firestorm, I promise it will broaden your tabletop horizons! The subject of Battlefront’s first major campaign game is the massive Soviet Summer offensive of 1944 in Byelorussia, called Operation Bagration. In Firestorm—Bagration, the individual Commanders and Generals along with Firestorm Troops brings this historic campaign to life. Firestorm includes a simple set-up, diverse playability, critical logistics, and operational planning actions that do not slow down the overall campaign.

UPDATED: Firestorm Bagration is now out of stock. Please check with your local Flames Of War retailer to see if they carry it instore.

Your armies will encounter river assaults, armoured counterattacks, armoured penetrations through wood and marsh, along with encirclements, breakouts, and desperate retreats as they fight along the 125 miles from Orsha to Minsk. You will put yourself in the role of a German or Soviet General while throwing your Flames Of War army into the maelstrom of the Eastern Front. Battlefront’s Firestorm—Bagration Campaign game captures the enormity of Operation Bagration. You will make decisions akin to real generals and decide the locations where you will fight. Every battle counts towards victory or defeat.

The Campaign Map is divided into historically important areas. The many strategic rivers of Byelorussia define the borders of these areas. These highlight the strategic value of the cities and rail lines that are crucial to successfully battle across the Byelorussian countryside.

While developing Firestorm—Bagration we ran into some interesting challenges in simulating the 3,000,000 soldiers involved in the campaign. One solution was that we could use a massive amount of counters on a huge map. However, this proved cumbersome in many ways, so we chose to remove the massive infantry formations on both sides and let your Flames Of War companies represent them on the map. We maintained the historical ratios of tanks, artillery, and aircraft along with offensive capable units (Tank, Mechanized, Cavalry).

Operation Bagration
Firestorm campaign introduction

These are brought into the game using Firestorm Troops. Though abstracted in one sense as individual platoons, Firestorm Troops represent the real world equipment percentages in the Operation Bagration. 

Logistics proved essential during the historical operation, so we designed a critical yet flexible supply system into Firestorm—Bagration. With a good supply line intact, the Germans can develop a credible mobile defence with interior lines capable of defeating Soviet spearheads. The Soviets must also build a secure supply line or their huge offensives will grind to a halt before the gates of Minsk. Special engineering troops allow mobile attacks and counterattacks through the wilderness so that the Soviets can launch surprise offensives against German strong points.

When we were playtesting Firestorm—Bagration it often mirrored the historical Soviet armies bursting through the front lines and rapidly advancing towards Minsk.

But a responsive German defence can halt the offensives and slow the tide. By playing with a clever mix of strategy, manoeuvre, and tactics both sides have a good chance of winning the campaign. 

Firestorm also contains The General’s Wargame. This feature allows you to play individual battles using Firestorm—Bagration. It simulates many games to build a sense of how the campaign ebbs and flows and still gives representative results similar to the real campaign, so generals can test their grand strategies either by themselves or head to head against an opponent. The General’s Wargame can also be used with Firestorm—Bagration as a hybrid to simulate more players and games if the number of players in your group is low.  

The campaign system is very open. It can be as historical or open as you like based on how your group enjoys playing Flames Of War. You can tailor your campaign to how your players play, how many tables you have, how often you meet, and what size armies you wish to play with.

Operation Bagration introduction
Firestorm Bagration sections

Firestorm opens many new ways to enjoy your Flames Of War miniatures. From campaigning across hundreds of miles of terrain with millions of soldiers, to pitting your small band of partisans against the local Polizei, Firestorm delivers the tools to expand your favourite hobby. With all that said I hope you enjoy Firestorm—Bagration and I look forward to building more campaigns for Flames Of War!

Total War Design Notes

by Phil Yates

When I was asked to write the Total War rules I was very excited. Back when we were starting Flames Of War we wrote the rules for multiple companies in a way that would discourage people from cherry picking bits of different companies in a tournament-sized force. Of course, this also had the effect of making it difficult to play really big games.

Total War has changed all that. Now you can field really big multiple-company forces, either as a single player, or as part of a multi-player team.

The basic concept is really simple—each company places all of its Support Platoons in one big Support Group that can support any company as needed. This brings your combat companies down to their hard core of combat and weapons platoons. To compensate for their smaller size, we make the combat companies tougher—they now fight until they are down to their last platoon, and your battlegroup fights until it is down to its last company.
Insert double page spread of total war battle (p86/87)
We expanded that basic idea with rules for inter-allied cooperation. Well, for Anglo-American forces it is cooperation as they can spot for each other’s artillery, but for Soviet and German-dominated forces it is their allies that cooperate, whether they like it or not!

We also added field marshals that players can serve under. Whichever field marshal the player chooses to serve under, they gain stratagems that will affect they way the missions play.

Total War!
For example Marshal Zhukov encourages his troops to give their best, even to the point of executing battalion commanders for failure! General Patton’s encouragement is a little less dramatic, but his troops do their best to get forward as fast as possible. Even Rommel and Monty make an appearance along with four more famous leaders.
Total War Straragems

The final part of Total War is a new multi-player mission for really big games. We’ve taken ideas from many different places and added a few good ones of our own to produce a mission that is a nail-biter right from the start.

There are objectives in your deployment area, in the opponent’s deployment area, and in No Man’s Land. These give both players victory points every turn, so you have to get going and fight hard from the outset.

This may sound a bit tough for an infantry force facing tanks, but we gave them a few tricks too. Reconnaissance, airborne, commando and cavalry units can stay in reserve if you want, and then appear on any table edge! This can really upset the plan of an armoured commander attacking hard when they find that the objectives in their own area have fallen to a sneak parachute drop or commando raid!

Well, I think that’s about everything I have to say except that Total War is a total blast and you should really try it!

Partisans and Polizei

By Kyran Henry

When we started work of the Firestorm—Bagration project one of the earliest discussions involved Soviet Partisans and their affect on the German supply lines during Operation Bagration.

The vast majority of these partisan activities involved small cells of Partisans fighting battles with rear echelon German security forces. After looking at the scope of Firestorm—Bagration it became obvious that these smaller forces would just be lost as part of the larger conflict, and as such the Partisans and Polizei project was begun.

Partisans and Politzei
Partisans and Politzei

The goal was to create a skirmish style game which created the feel of small pitched battles that were decided through the heroism of one or two individuals. We also wanted to make it mirror the fundamentals of Flames Of War so that any existing gamer could easily pick up the system after a few games.

The initial planning was bumpy at best and a drunken drive through a shopping mall at worst, after a month of ideas, meetings and regular “ahh what are we doing again moments” we sensibly decided to give it to a completely different group of creative guys to tinker with it.

In stepped Sean Sweigart and Aaron Dill from Gale Force 9. With over 20 years gaming experience between them these two guys immediately took our insane ramblings and built a core engine for the game. They also developed the basis of the three scenarios that are in the Firestorm book.

So now armed with a working model and some excellent theories we began the arduous task of writing, play testing and editing. During this phase of development it became clear that we really needed some specialist sculpts for the key characters within our game and Evan created worked some of his green stuff magic to create some great individual sculpts.

Partisans and Polizei is a skirmish game that focus’s on combat teams that are supported by heroes whose presence increases the combat effectiveness of the teams to whom they are attached.

The missions allow you to follow the ongoing conflict between a Partisan cell led by Vasiliy Kravchenko and a German Polizei unit led by Hauptsturmfuhrer Von Gaudron.

The game is played using existing infantry stands from your Flames of War collection and the models that are in the Partisans and Polizei boxed set. The missions allow for a large number of different tactics and approaches and will more often then not come down a single Herculean effort from one of your heroes to save the day.

We had a fantastic time developing this game and find that the each mission can be played in about 30 – 45 minutes so it makes for a great little game to play when time is of the essence. We hope that you guys have as much fun with this as we did.

SBX09 Partisan and Politzei box set... 

Partisans and Politzei

Last Updated On Tuesday, September 27, 2011 by Blake at Battlefront