Friday, 19 February 2016

Flames of War Open Fire Starter Set unboxing

You may have seen on the blog that I am a fan of WW2 history, and gaming.  I thought it was about time I delved into Flames of War properly.  For my birthday this year my dearly beloved one got me vouchers for the local store, so I decided to order Open Fire in, which Is Battlefronts Flames of War starter set.  That way there would be two opposing forces for me and Olivia (or friends) to battle with and begin our journey.
In this article we shall take a look at what comes in the Open Fire box.  Other articles charting the journey will follow as well.
I love the art on the box, its a nice big hefty size, so you know you are getting plenty of toys inside.  It has been a while since I have had a miniature game starter set to play around with, so I was really excited to get stuck in.
The back gives you an awesome action shot of the painted minis in action, plus a nice handy size guide at the bottom, showing you them actual size you can a feel for what 15mm or 1/100 scale looks like.
 It states, that all the models you see in the picture on the back, are all included, so yes that DOES include that cool looking V1 Flaying bomb and ramp, which make a great objective, or just cool thematic terrain.

There is a contents list, telling you what you get, and you get a ton of stuff in here! Card terrain, models, dice and books too.   So lets open it up and take a look......



popping the box open you are instantly greeted by plastic toys on sprues! lots and lots of them, and bags of other bits to investigate.
 We have 8 of the Sherman Sprues, enough to build 8 tanks.  There are plenty of options on there, regular 75mm barrels, and the Firefly turrets and 17pdr barrels as well. Different front plates for the regular of Firefly variants, plus some odd bits of stowage to scatter around on your tanks an personalise them.  I love the fact you will have spare bits left over to begin a "Bits box" of spare things you can keep for other projects, perhaps using the other turret (as you get the regular and Firefly version" to make some scenery of destroyed tank scrap.
Taking a closer look you can see there is plenty of detail on the models themselves, and they are crisp and clean casts, hardly any cleanup will be needed.
 We get a sprue with the plastic V1 and launch rail on it.  I REALLY like this.  It has no rules in games, but is a great looking piece and will be fun for themed missions and as a nice bit of terrain.
 Next we have 3 sprues for the STUGG 3 G assault guns. for the German forces.  I love the options on here, you can make late or early 3G`s  so have different hulls, and guns with Mantlets. In fact it also has the gun barrels for the STUH 42 version, so its really handy to keep in your spares box.
It has Schurtzen you can attach or not, and the detail on the kit is top notch.  A really nice touch that is also present on the Sherman's, is the one piece tracks.  With these they need no assembly, and have notches on the side for attaching to the hull.  The way the notches are positioned means you are unable to attach the tracks the wrong way.  Again you get options for stowage, and open or closed hatches on the tanks.  There are tank commander models included in the set as well, but we will come to them later.
 Next you get a bag of bases, it contains all the bases you will need.  If you are already familiar with flames of war, these are slightly different.  Not in shape, but in the fact hat they have recessed areas where you can place the plastic figures bases in so they sit flush with the base.  A very nice touch.

 You get a bag of 20 dice.  Who doesn't love getting dice! I know I always enjoy it.  These are the smaller sized dice rather then the more standard d6 size from board games etc.  I like the smaller ones as it lets you roll more in a go.  10 are in a green colour, and 10 in grey, so you have allied dice, and German dice.  A nice touch that I like.


In the next bag you will find two sprues with PAK 40 Anti Tank guns on.  This also includes the bases for them, which are bigger then the normal infantry bases we have already looked at.  You also get some round plugs, you can use these to fill in the holes you do not use on the gun base.  You also get a little sprue with some Tank commanders on.  There is crew for the PAK guns, but we shall see those later.


 A closer look at the Sprue shows the detail on the models.  Very impressive again, and next to no clean up required.
 Then nicely protected in a large bag with bubble wrap comes two sprues of infantry.  You may notice its all the same coloured plastic, but that's because all the models are mixed in together on the sprue to maximise efficiency for packing.

 They are incredibly detailed for such small models, and considering they are from a "starter set" the variety of poses is excellent.  If you look you can see plenty of character in the models, some armed with rifles, SMGS, LMGS, throwing grenades and more.



You can also see you do get some tank commanders on the sprue as well.  The US Airborne MG gunners are lying prone and multi part, but look easy to assemble  The detail on them is exceptional, you can see the air colling vents in the browning LMGs and the added camo strips on the paras helmets.


The crew for the PAK 40 are on this sprue as well.

 You can see the Airborne mortar is also separate.  One of the excellent thing is each of the figures is individually marked with a letter on the sprue, and combined with the instruction sheet you can track down the right mix of men for each unit.
 Now onto the paperwork in the box.....  The instruction sheet is nicely detailed and clear. giving you a full lay out of any assembly needed for your forces, and the lay out of your squads.


A nice touch is they show you the breakdown of the squads, including the command level of each formation,  sot he HQ being a Hauptmann (captain) down to the unteroffizier for the squads.  You can also see the letters above each soldier, these reflect to the ones stamped in the sprue of infantry models so you know who to clip out for each base.

You get instructions on the other side for the British and American forces, and also the V1 Launcher.  The Sherman has so many different options I would have liked a bit of a clearer shot of the parts needed for the Firefly as opposed to the Regular Sherman, ensuring I get the correct Mantlet etc.

 Another really nice touch is the key to the letters.  It tells you what each kind of troop is in each squad, so you can begin to get a feel of how they operated.  You are also told what kind of base you need for each stand, its a really nice step by step  guide, and I am impressed.
 You get a card range ruler, that has a handy breakdown of all the movements, and ranges on there.  Very useful, though once you get used to them you will probably move to a tape measure.


You get 3 thick card sheets, with tokens on them to represent objective markers, and different states your forces can be in, and card terrain.  This is great stuff, yes its 2d, but it looks nice, and has all the rules for the terrain it represents written on it so it will help you learn.  Its rare you get any scenery in starter sets, so I am really pleased and impressed that these have been included, it means you can get playing straight away (after building your models anyway).  Its a great touch to get you gaming until you start picking up more terrain of your own.


The graphic design is really nice, the terrain is clear and will look great on a table.

 Having the effects of the terrain written on them is a great idea for starting, as it is one less thing you need to worry about flicking back to the book for.

You get two army lists, one for each forces, that have all the information you need for them, and are an excellent starter guide to the armies you will be playing from the box.

On the other side it provides all the ranges, firepower and rules for all your weapon systems in the units. 
 Next up we get 2 A4 sized full colour books of around 40 pages each.


The forces book has army lists for US, British, German and Soviet forces in, they are just basic forces you can use to choose from, but give you an idea of how army building and list construction works.  You also get beautifully detailed painting guides, that tell you the colours you need and provide tips on how to paint your models.


Here is the British Armoured Squadron force diagram.  You can see the options there you can take to create your force.  Options in black are compulsory so must be taken, and options in grey are optional so you may add them in as you choose.  You can see you then get options again within each platoon, such as Sherman's, Cromwell's or comets, and then the numbers of each tank.


You then get simplified basic rules for artillery and air support.  This Forces book is designed to be used with the Open Fire rules, rather then the Flames of War full rules, thought the concept and the way companies are made are the same.


 On the back of the book you get a nice bit telling you where you can go to find out more, or advance.  This is a great set for a WW2 beginner, as it gets you in easily without overloading you with the Open Fire rules, which provide you with the basics of Flames of War, then you can stay with Open Fire, or move into Flames of War itself.
The Open Fire booklet contains the rules to play, all laid out in a nice full colour and easy to read way. These are not, as I said before the full rules to Flames of War, but they are a fully functioning rule set for the boxed models.  Flames of War adds a whole lot more, and changes the odd thing slightly, but this will give you a solid understanding of the core of Flames of War.

 The rules are laid out in a clear and easy to follow way, showing you pictures and examples you can follow for each phase of the game.


Its very easy to read and digest, and has an almost Comic book style feel to it.

 A nice touch is the top right corner of the page...... It has colour coded pictures for the sections, assault in this case, making it easy to find anything quickly you may need to refer to.


In the last pages you get a rules summary, which is an excellent quick reference guide you can refer to make sure you follow the stages right and get all the bits you need.


On the back of the book, it gives you more ideas of where to go, as Battlefront have produced some excellent videos to learn how to play and help you out.


This is a great set, it really feels like you get good value for money with all the models in here. The rule books are easy to read and follow, and the figures are superb quality.  The card terrain is a also a very nice touch.  The only downside I can think of, is I wish the set contained the full rulebook. There is a mini version that would fit in perfectly. 

Stick with us as I actually build and paint... yes paint the models, and then get them on the tabletop.  Olivia has already claimed the Allied forces.  There will be building and painting articles, and battles too, as the Open Fire box includes 3 missions you can play so you can see us play those out.

If you have any intrest in WW2 and gaming, then this is simply a must have set, a good fun easy to learn ruleset, with great models, and then a huge amount of expansion.  If you want to focus on Market Garden there are books specific to it full of information and specific historical army lists, or D-Day, Eastern front, battle of the Bulge, the Desert Wars, and now the pacific just to name a few.

I grew up with my Grandparents, and my Grandfather flew a Typhoon in the war, and my grandmother was in the WAAF, so I had a wealth of stories, and books to read.  My Great uncles who lived over the road growing up both served in the Royal Navy through out all the war, and my other grandfather was a Sherman driver.  The history is really close to me, as I am one of the last left of our family, and I want to pass on the stories to Olivia (my daughter) so she will never forget what people did for our freedom 70 plus years ago.  Showing her a documentary is one thing, but bringing a model Typhoon to the table avoiding AA fire and unleashing rockets will help her show the kind of thing they did and keep their memories alive for the next generation so one day she can tell her children.  Its more then a great game, its a teaching aid, and a hobby as well building lists, painting and collecting models, so this set really opens up a whole world to a gamer.

To find out more, and pick up your own copy take a look at the Battlefront Flames of War website here