FoW PRIMER: Way of the Warrior, Heroes in Flames of War
Eusebius Rex here with an introduction to Warriors and their application in the Flames of War WWII miniatures game.
“Out of every 100 men in battle ten shouldn’t even be there. Eighty are just targets. Nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them for they make the battle. Ah, but one is a Warrior, and he will bring the others back.” – Heraclitus of Ephesus
Warriors – called Heroes is other popular gaming systems – are unique to Flames of War as they are often absent in other historical WWII gaming systems. While their inclusion is not without criticism at times, they certainly do add to both the historical tone of the game as well as provide a fun and balanced gaming experience. Most warriors have special abilities that they convey only to one platoon per phase so they are hardly able to completely change a list’s performance. Same have outright flaws or negative effects if they fail and others are wildly expensive. Whether they fail you or give the upper hand, something extraordinary will happen in a game of FoW when a Warrior is involved.
Captain Charles Upham VC is the only combat soldier ever awarded the Victoria Cross twice. Both actions were in WWII, one in Crete and the other in North Africa at the First Battle of El Alamein where he was captured. He survived the War and retired as a farmer in his native New Zealand.
Company Commanders (CiC)
Every company (army list) in FoW has at least one Warrior team – their Commander in Charge. He is able to reroll failed morale test for any platoon he attaches to as well as makes company morale checks when the company has less than 50% of its deployed platoons left alive on the table. Company Commanders, like all warriors get an additional save when they would otherwise die and take the place of another team of its type within command distance. For some list, you are eligible to replace your company command team with an upgraded unique warrior that is also able to bring special abilities to any platoon they are attached to.
Oberstleutnant von der Heydte is a Higher Command team and available in more books than any other Warrior in FoW – 5 total and even an online Historical Scenario. VDH is known as a necromancer because he can ‘reorganize’ destroyed gun or infantry teams that die within 6” on a 5+ roll.
Higher Command Teams
Higher Command Teams are unique warriors purchased for and attached to certain list only. They do not replace the CiC, but are able to perform actions just like a Company Command team, to include making a company morale check! They typically don’t have very many special abilities beyond being a Higher Command team because this essentially gives your list the ability to have two very motivated platoons and the leeway to lose a CiC without losing the ability to make a company morale check.
Leytenant A V Pyl’cyn si the command team of a single Shtraf company (platoon) in a Shtraf list. He allows deployment of his unit to be done after all other deployments and may gap obstacles as if a pioneer team. His wife/ nurse saves a team within 6” on a 5+ roll.
Platoon Commanders and 2iC
Sometimes an army list will offer the ability to take unique warriors as upgrades to normal platoon teams. These warriors can be very powerful and convey some very special abilities to their platoons. They are not independent teams, however and so are subject to all other game requirements of being a platoon member. Some 2iC’s are able to be warriors as well. Though they are command teams, they typically are going to be used as a platoon commander and do not provide many rerolls like a CiC or Higher Command team.
Gunther Viezenz, probably one of the historical influences for FoW’s fictional character in Stalin’s Onslaught, Feldwebel Dietrich Uthoff. Viezenz single-handedly killed 21 tanks and was WWII Germany’s top tank killer with hand held AT weapons – magnetic mines, grenades, and panzerfaust. The badges up his right arm are ‘Panzerknacker’ or tank buster badges signifying his kills. It is out of picture but he has a Powerfist in his pocket.
Rambo in Flames of War
Some warrior teams in FoW are meant or capable of fighting alone and act as a one man unit and are directly combat related. For example, the German warrior in Stalin’s Onslaught – Feldwebel (Sergeant) Dietrich Uthoff – is an Independent Team, but Uthoff doesn’t influence the platoon he is attached to. He doesn’t even have to attach to a platoon. He is able to move and shoot his Panzerfaust (typically treated as a close quarters AT weapon for assaults and short range defensive fire), rerolling his missed shots and may always deploy in Ambush so that he can appear in concealing terrain just over 4” away from enemy tanks. He is a great secondary AT ambush. The German warrior team Ernst Barkman is another example of a one man platoon and can deploy as a single-tank platoon – rerolling misses and counting as gone to ground if shot at!
He might not look it now, but Lachhiman Gurung was a bad mo-fo in WWII. After he lost his right arm to the third grenade he threw out of his position to save his squad mates, he single-handedly killed 31 Japanese soldiers with rifle, bayonet and kukri knife and held his position alone for 4 hours.
It is very easy when reading WWII history to find heroes that performed extraordinary actions and wish for them to brought into FoW. The Italians have a faction special rule that allows for teams to be transformed into warriors during the course of a game and one SS list is able to take generic Panzer Konenen – tank aces – as warriors for tank platoons. Still, there is always those games were a PIAT team (infantry AT weapon) is able to take out 3 tanks in an assault or a single infantry stand simple will not die and wins an assault against a much larger platoon. These are often the most fun heroes in FoW as they are both unexpected and despite being caused by nothing more than luck of the die, are quite enjoyable.
If you could have any one hero from WWII included in FoW who would it be? What would his special skills be and what class of warrior? I think I’d like to see an Audie Murphy figure one day. He’d be able to have a general 4+ save all and be able to mount any destroyed armored vehicle and fire its Vehicle MG like a heavy machine gun at rate of fire 6! Ok, that is probably a bit much…
What warrior do you like take most to battle with? How do you use him to secure objectives?