Monday, October 25, 2010

Turret and Front Armor House Rules Part 1

I've been playing games for a very long time.  And one thing I usually don't do, is house rules.  I've never really found that games need house rules.

I find most people play a game once and immediately say "this game is broken".  Go on any game forum and you are sure too see a hundred topics on how a game is broken and suggested house rules.  How about adapt to the situation and learn.  Most games you don't get a good feel for strategy and rules until you've played it several times.

Having said that,  the one thing that has always bothered me about Flames of War is how useless turrets are in the game.  And until recently Hull mounted guns had an advantage over turrets.  They could just turn their hull but tanks with turrets had to turn their turret.  This made turreted tanks more vulnerable to side armor attacks.  But at least you were using the turret.

In a topic on the FOW forum Phil (creator) came out and said that now if targets where in front of the 180 degree firing arc turreted tanks could also turn their hulls.  They would only have to turn their turret if targets were behind this 180 degree line.  Well now this makes turrets even more useless.  How often are you shooting at targets behind you?  and even if you do, you might turn your hull anyway, or part of the platoon is in front, and you don't need to.

The same thing pertains to Front armor.  If you are in front of the 180 degree arc, you still shoot at the front armor.  Playing a few weeks ago with my friend Quach, he had a tank sitting right on the 180 degree line.  He could not fathom, he still had to shoot at the front armor.  Especially for a game that is WYSIWYG.  For those that don't know this stands for What You See Is What You Get.  In the rules they talk about getting down at eye level to see if you have line of site and stuff.  Well you can't even see any of the front armor from that angle never mind hit it.

I understand this is all for simplicity, but you have these beautiful models, and you are making the game so simple that there is zero point to even having turrets on these tanks.  You might as well glue them down.  I have these beautiful tanks.  I want to see the turrets turned in pictures. Not to mention the rules for turrets that you'll NEVER use.  Like Slow Traverse and Limited Vision.  There was never any point to spending money on the cupola for soviet tanks because the rule never came up.

So, I've come up with a solution that adds a LOT more realism to the game, and makes turrets far more useful...

Change the firing arc to 90 degree's.  45 degree's out each side.  Also change this for determining if you hit the front armor or not.

How are you going to figure that out you say?  Easy.  I have 2 laser levels I used for line of site for other board games.  You put them perpendicular to each other, and boom....instant 90 degree arc you can place on top of your tank.

In the little play testing I've done, I'm finding this to be far more realistic (not that FoW is realistic), puts some choice into the players hands, and makes the turret (and turret rules) useful again.

Take the Diagram to the right as an example.  Lets say the tiger at the top of the triangle wants to shoot at the 6 pdr no. 4 over to his right.  He has 2 choices.  He can turn his turret and fire with his full rate of fire. Or, he can turn his hull and count as being moved (for shooting outside his 90 degree arc) and fire with 1 RoF.  The player now has a choice because if the 6pdr shoots, he will now hit the side armor form there (for shooting outside the tigers 90 degree arc).  And now Slow Traverse also comes into effect because he is turning outside his firing arc. 

If the Tiger was an assault gun in the same situation,  He would have no choice but to turn his hull and be considered moved and shoot with a 1 RoF.

I have also found that rotating your vehicle after moving matters more now.  with the 180 degree arc it never really mattered.  You would just basically face your vehicle forward and pretty much everything is in front of your 180 degree arc.  thus again, always shooting at front armor, never using the turret. 

I find this triangle adds more realism to articles I've read about combat.  Especially against Tigers.  I always read that T-34's and Sherman had to get very close to destroy a Tiger.  You can see by the Triangle, the further away you are, the more likely to hit the front armor.  the closer you get, the more likely to hit side armor.  Where before, you would have to get all the way past the tank, (never mind close) and survive to get a side armor shot on a tiger.  And you'd almost likely have to move at the double to get past it. 

You can also think about it from the point of view of the gunner looking through his firing slit.  He is going to see things of to the side that are farther away, where he won't see things off to the side that are close up.
Since artillery and anti-tank guns would follow the same rules, they would have to really crank their guns to shoot something to the side.  therefor considered to be moving if they are outside the firing range.  Makes movement and placement far more interesting.

The only thing, I think, that I have to work out, is how things will work if the turret is already turned.  but don't think it will be to tough.  I'm going to do some more play testing and then post my official house rules on this in part 2.

This new rule really makes Panthers vulnerable...and not as scary. 

I know the hardcore FoW people will think I'm crazy.  But I'm a gamer as much as I am a historian or hobbyist. The best games are always the ones where there are difficult choices.  Simply adding this firing arc, adds so much choice to how you move and shoot, and makes turrets mean something again.

The more I play with it, and think about it....the more I like it.

Stay tuned for part 2.


  1. Found this in the MALFTF today...

    The problem with front arcs less than 120 degrees or so is that players end up manoeuvring to get just across the imaginary line to get "flank" shots that are equally improbable as the "front" shots that you are querying. We decided that 180 degrees was much simpler and could be measured by eye, whereas 120 degrees would need a protractor.(Phil)

    Well this makes no sense to me. So instead of people jockeying for position to get that "flank" shot...which they should be doing. You have people not moving at all because its to far to go to get that side armour shot. Or they risk it all by moving at the double to get BEHIND the tank, just to get a side armour shot.

    Not to mention right around the 90 degree mark is exactly when you start to see more of the side armour. And if you use the 90 degree's that come out the corners of the front of the tank...bigger tanks will have a bigger arc to shoot at their front armour.

    As for the protractor...nonsense...90 degree's...2 laser have to be fully outside the lines. this will make it pretty close to the 120 degree line. Maybe a little less.

    I don't know...I'll have to do some more play testing to find out for myself.

  2. Maybe we could have a "mini Kursk" battle with lots of tanks to playtest your house rules. How about trying a 6' x 8' board to give the tanks more room to manoeuver?

  3. The trouble with 90 deg arcs, si that if you are just outside the 90deg front arc you are shooting at the side armour at near to 45deg. This means that the effective armour is around 50% higher than the actual arour. It's this principle that makes sloped armour so effective.

    I agree that 180deg arcs are a bit too far the other way but I find it a lot less annoying than 90 deg arcs which are too narrow.

    In order to address the balance betwean assault guns and turrent equiped tank I think that a simpler solution would be to not use the turret facing to determine front/side armour. That way assault guns could be lured into a facing that exposes thier side armour to other AT guns while a tank with a turret would be a lot harder to get side armour shots on.

  4. I forgot to mention in my previous post that I think that a 90 deg firing arc, as you propose is an excellent idea, combined with having to point the guns at the target I think that this would greatly add to the tactical thinking of a tank battle.

  5. If I understand you correctly, front/side armor isn't determined by the turret. This is why I was playing around with eliminating side shots based on where the turret was. Makes things a bit complicated.

    FoW And I think slopped armor is taken into account with the Armor values already. The reason the front armor number is higher is because you either have thicker armor or its more slopped then the side.

    I believe I said that the gun has to be totally on the other side of the line for it to count as a side shot. so this mitigates a little bit of what you are talking about....I think...;]

  6. Yes, it looks like you understood what I ment by the turret front/side armour.

    I agree that sloped armour is taken into account with the front armour values in game, I was using it as an example of why 90deg arcs is not so good.

    On the other hand 180deg arcs go a bit far the other way, so being just inside the front arc you are shooting at close to square on the side but still hitting the front armour.

    Both have problems, but I think that I prefere a 180 deg front arc, as it requires a better tactical mind to get side shots. Whereas I have found that 90deg arcs are a bit too easy to get side shots

  7. interesting. I believe it to be the other way. Maybe I'm defensive minded. But I think its to easy to keep things in front of the 180 degree mark.

    Remember as long as one team of a platoon is in front of the 180 degree mark, you don't have to turn your turret.

    I found you either have to charge, putting your platoon at risk to get behind that 180 line, or it just takes to long to do it tactically. There is no strategy in moving your tanks up and keeping everything in front of your 180 line. its to easy.

    90 degree arc makes your movement more tactical. as I show in one of my examples.

    And the 90 degree arc makes certain vehicles to be played they way they were meant to be played.

    Take StuG G's and Panzer IV's as an example. they are both the exact same amount of points. StuG's were cheaper to make and meant for defense. with 180 arc you will always take the StuG over the PIV. it has better armor in exchange for one MG RoF.

    but with the 90 degree arc, hull mounted is going to be better off in the back. you can hit more things farther away. where a turret would be better in close.

    and things that are closer in, teams would have to make hard turns to bring a gun to bear so make sense to make them "moved". thus giving turrets their much needed advantage in this game.

    plus play testing this a few times, it wasn't as easy as you might think to get side shots. especially if you are aware of it. you are going to make smarter moves.

    I appreciate the comments for sure. and you are right. There is no perfect solution. the 90 arc is a gamers solution (for me) to make turrets more useful. As I said, with pIV and StuG, I would always take a StuG with a 180 arc. it shouldn't be like that.

    The kicker for me was when a buddy played for the first time. he was just in front of the 180 line and could not believe he still had to shoot at the front armor.

    and ya if you go down to eye level...there is no way a tank in that position should still be shooting at front armor.

    maybe it should be some where between 90 and 180. but to save arguments, I think you need the laser level for this, and best I can do for now is 90.

  8. I have had the exact opposite problem with the 90 deg arc. Where my tank was being shot at from just outside the 90 deg front arc, and so hitting the side would have been the same as hitting the front. I think I was playing 40k at the time.

    I do, however, agree that the firing arc should be 90 deg, but not the armour that you hit. So essentially combine the two systems. This way you force hull mounted weapons to turn more, to get their 90 deg firing arc on target, and therefore present their side (outside 180 deg arc) armour more often.

  9. With staying with the laser levels, what if you said you had to be totally on the other side of the 90 degree line to get a side shot?

    I added where the gun actually had to be on that side of the line.

  10. I agree with the combined approach - i.e. 90d for the firing arc but the 180 for the side armour. Key challenge for me is that as the position of the model is only representative on a YGIG system, making flank shots too easy (and every tank could benefit from sloped armour of up to 45d). However, as you correctly point out assault gun are not penalised for not having a turret, and therefore I would wholeheartedly support a shooting arc for these. Especially as BF discount considerable for not having a turret.

  11. must say that your posts are very enlightning. Just a thougt, to me there seems to be good reason to turn your turret to avoid getting the penalty to your ROF for moving if the targets is outside of your front arc

  12. yes that can be a good reason. My main point though is that this just doesn't occur that often.

    If you have a platoon behind your 180 arc, and a single team is touching that 180 can now turn your hull with out penalty to RoF, and get the advantage of facing your front armour towards them.

    with that in mind its pretty easy to keep (almost) everything in front of you.

    and even if you can't, and depending on the tank I would probably turn my hull during movement to face my front armour.

    if you turn your turret to the back, your are showing side armour to pretty much the entire board.