Wednesday, 17 October 2012

A World Aflame

I like to be nice about most games and minis.

I purchased A World Aflame from Osprey recently. I am a bit of a Spanish Civil War bore and kind of like the idea of doing some Very British Civil War too, so it seemed like a good idea at the time.

There basically seemed to be two schools of thought when in comes to wargames rules which are reality or fun. I have always liked the concept of realism rather than abstract. Fun and slaughter are not natural bed fellows and anyone who thinks like this should take a long hard look at why they game. Accurate ranges are an important part of realism for me. This put me off flames of war.

One of the first things in the rules is about table scale, distance and time basically saying that there isn't one. This means that it would be impossible to have them because the rules will fall down if you have one. The rules also talk about fun in the game referring to a few comedy shows set in that era. This is an era marked by bloody civil wars where indiscriminate atrocities were common place. Injecting a note of fun into this doesn't really do it for me. If you want fun play a zombie game or 40k.

One of the flaws of many games designers is that they have no idea about range and weapon performance. Not that I am particularly anal about it but anyone can look up basic details on wikipedia. A sniper rifle has a range of thirty inches in the rules and a flame thrower has a range eight inches. I'll use the sniper rifle as the basis for comparing weapons ranges. A sniper rifle of the period probably had an effective rage of around 600-800m. So for the sake of an argument lets call in 600m. A flame thrower at best had a range of about 40m but realistically hitting anything more than 20m away was a lucky shot. So being generous we will call the range of a flame thrower 40m which is about a 1/15 the distance. So that gives the flame thrower a massive range bonus. The flame thrower should have a relative range of about 1-2”. HMGs are more accurate than sniper rifles. Given that at long range they would be relying on gravity to plunge the round onto a target I am not sure but don't think that would work even if it was an area of effect weapon

You can throw a grenade about 20-25m in the real world which is about an inch on table. Soldiers in A World Aflame can throw a grenade up to six inches up to 150m. It has a lethal blast area of 75m which is about 25% likely to hit the thrower.

Shotguns have a range of 10” or about a third of that of a sniper rifle. I have shot a fair bit with shotguns and would have said hitting anything at more than about 30m was a good shot. The books give them a range of about 40m. I believe that you can hit with a solid slug at about double the range. 10” is about 200m or about five time what you would hit with a shotgun.

I could go on as all the weapon ranges seem wrong but why bother. It's broken.

The game uses something like fog of war cards. There aren't many and many are just not very good. I think this idea was probably pushed onto the system and they are not a patch on the ones in Force on Force.

Infantry can move (if they are lucky) up to 16” or roughly 320m) almost as fast as the fastest tanks can drive at full pelt (21” or rough 420m). Moving (not charging) cavalry move at no more than 15” or a little slower than a tank. Charging cavalry manage up to 19”.

Whichever bit of the rules I look at I find flaws. So many that I just can't be bothered listing any more.

I got the rules because I wanted to play them. I like the era particularly. I might give them a try but to be honest I think there are better rules out there. If you want a “fun” game rather than something approaching a simulation you might be okay but to me this is a big stretch.

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