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Subject: Why Choose World in Flames? rss

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Robert Vollman
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With all the World War II games out there, why should you play one like World in Flames - an expensive game with a steep learning curve (even when the rules have been agreed upon), a high counter density with great variation, all requiring a lot of table space?

Playing World in Flames is a big investment of time, effort, money and space, but there are reasons why I prefer it to all the other World War II options.

1. The Production System

Every turn you make interesting decisions about what to build, and you need to plan ahead since new units take different amounts of time to complete, and you can only gradually shift your industry from one type of unit to another. You also get new units every year!

Throughout the turn you also make interesting decisions on how to disrupt your opponents resources, factories, or the transportation in between with your air, ground and sea forces - and to protect your own!

2. The Impulse System

This is a game without a lot of down time, because each individual turn is broken down into a variable number of back-and-forth impulses of varying weather where you can move only a portion of your units - and you never know which impulse will be the last.

This is not a game where you take an hour to do a move, have to do everything perfectly, and then go get a coffee while your opponent moves - decisions are smaller and made more frequently.

3. Integration of Europe/Pacific

Units of all kinds move back and forth easily from one theatre to the other without any complexity - the rules are the same regardless of where you are.

This is not two separate games strung together, it's a fully integrated game where decisions in one theatre affect the other, and the action can easily flow from one to the other.

4. The Convoy System

Battles to sink supply and/or resources flowing through naval zones rage at all times, and it all places, involving transports, aircraft, surface vessels and submarines in a truly elegant fashion.

The naval aspect of the game is not separate - it is fully integrated into the rest of the action. You fight to capture air and naval bases, and those forces are critical in getting the supply and resources for your land forces to continue their struggle.

NOTE: Further to these past two points, there are unfortunately no choke points in the Pacific - air units at one point of a sea zone are generally just as useful as air units at another. You also get the bizarre situation where you have corps-sized units on tiny Pacific islands.

5. Other

The US Entry system drives some difficult decisions, as all actions can affect the speed at which the USA enters the war, which happens very gradually as they make their own tough choices from a host of options on how to get more and more engaged in the action.

The supply rules drive interesting decisions about how to conduct an advance, especially when there is a chance of inclement weather.

The air system integrates beautifully with all aspects of the game: land warfare, naval warfare, strategic warfare, and so on - you even keep track of pilots, making campaigns over hostile territory or the open seas more challenging.

Verdict

This is just my opinion, but I've played lots of World War II games, and these are the main reasons why I'm glad I made the investment to learn World in Flames. With few exceptions, every time I play one of the other great World War II games it isn't long before I ask myself why I'm not playing World in Flames instead.
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Wendell
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Okay, I'm convinced!

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Charles Lewis
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Nice sock puppetry there, Wendell!
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The play's the thing ...
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Going thirty-eight, Dan, chill the f*** out. Mow your damn lawn and sit the hell down.
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wifwendell wrote:
Okay, I'm convinced!



You're such an easy sell Wendell!
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Matt Taylor
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Wendell... Did you hear of the new expansion: (Brooklyn) Bridges in Flames. I'll sell you one... cheep


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Jason Johns
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robvollman wrote:
With all the World War II games out there, why should you play one like World in Flames - an expensive game with a steep learning curve (even when the rules have been agreed upon), a high counter density with great variation, all requiring a lot of table space?

1. The Production System

2. The Impulse System

3. Integration of Europe/Pacific

4. The Convoy System

5. Other

Verdict

This is just my opinion, but I've played lots of World War II games, and these are the main reasons why I'm glad I made the investment to learn World in Flames. With few exceptions, every time I play one of the other great World War II games it isn't long before I ask myself why I'm not playing World in Flames instead.


I agree. I really like WIF, though I haven't played in years. cry I do think it's the best WWII game for the reasons you listed above. But my favorite part was Days of Decision. This allowed you to start in 1936, rather than on the Polish border. I've seen all kinds of craziness. Now THAT is fun!!!
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Adam Thorp
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Hear, hear. The advantages of WiF, all summed up in a single post.
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Angelus Seniores
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And the bad things...

1) counter limits which can be strange and can hamper a major power's development (russian land unit counter limit foremost)

I never get a feeling that Russia really has that overflow of manpower.
not to mention that a high quality unit has the same production cost as a low quality unit of the same type/size?
Also, as you can only build whatever counter is available, you are often forced to build lower quality units even though you have the technical knowledge to build high quality units.
Germany can build a 5-3 or even 8-4 inf unit for the same price as russia must build a 3-3 inf unit, couple this with a production rate which starts slow for the russians and it becomes very hard to hold back germany before you can finally start to hurt it.
I never get the feeling that russia can slowly wither the german Army to eventually outproduce germany and tip the balance.

2) huge battles (several corps units vs several corps units or whole squadrons of planes facing off) being resolved with a single die roll and no step-losses >> too much luck-based

As a player, you dont have much options to influence the battle itself and the results of the battle can be extreme for both sides, which makes the results often very abstract and very difficult to manage.
such battles would take place over several days/weeks and each side normally taking action as it progresses, sending more reinforcements/ calling off an attack that has a bad start etc. but no such option here

3)The pacific map hexes represent a much larger real land portion than in regards to european map hexes, the map gets clogged resulting in less room for maneuver than there is in reality.

4)abstract search mechanisms for opposing fleets to find each other in battle
I can understand the idea behind it, but it ends up too out of reach.

5)Blitzkrieg/armor/air advantages just doesnt play out as it should.


I do agree with the good points as noted by the OP, but the level at which WiF plays, leaves out a lot of possible decisions, making it too abstract and too luck dependent. As a player you dont get a feeling of being able to control the flow of battle ie the possible result is not directly related to the player's skill, even a very good move can have a very bad result being based on a (few) single die roll. gives too much an all-or-nothing feeling. neither do the die rolls tend to even out statistically on so small a nr of die rolls.
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Wendell
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Angelsenior wrote:
And the bad things...


There are some bad things about WIF, as true for pretty much any game. One question always is, what expansions and optional rules do you use?

Angelsenior wrote:
1) counter limits which can be strange and can hamper a major power's development (russian land unit counter limit foremost)

I never get a feeling that Russia really has that overflow of manpower.
not to mention that a high quality unit has the same production cost as a low quality unit of the same type/size?


Interesting comment. I haven't seen this as a problem in itself - though an all-out Axis attack on Russia (Japan from the East, very large Italian commitment, + the Germans) can inflict such losses and reduce production that it can be difficult for the Soviets to survive. But that is a different concern from what you raise. Earlier versions of WIF made infantry units for Russia and China cheaper than for the Axis or W. Allies.

Angelsenior wrote:
Also, as you can only build whatever counter is available, you are often forced to build lower quality units even though you have the technical knowledge to build high quality units.
Germany can build a 5-3 or even 8-4 inf unit for the same price as russia must build a 3-3 inf unit, couple this with a production rate which starts slow for the russians and it becomes very hard to hold back germany before you can finally start to hurt it.


One of the things I really LIKE about WIF is when you build an infantry, or fighter, or armor unit, you don't get to pick the best one. For you a bug, for me a feature! Also, remember that you can decide to scrap weak units, when they are old enough or when destroyed in combat (if not a reserve).

Angelsenior wrote:
I never get the feeling that russia can slowly wither the german Army to eventually outproduce germany and tip the balance.


Depends on the group, and the optional rules. It's interesting - currently, judging at least from the WIF mail-lists I am on, the perception now is that WIF is too pro-ALLIED. Although I don't agree.

Angelsenior wrote:
2) huge battles (several corps units vs several corps units or whole squadrons of planes facing off) being resolved with a single die roll and no step-losses >> too much luck-based

As a player, you dont have much options to influence the battle itself and the results of the battle can be extreme for both sides, which makes the results often very abstract and very difficult to manage.
such battles would take place over several days/weeks and each side normally taking action as it progresses, sending more reinforcements/ calling off an attack that has a bad start etc. but no such option here


This is a question of scale, and there is a lot more than one die roll in air battles! No step losses - that is a reasonable criticism, I think. Corps/armies are destroyed in combat or they are not. But introducing step losses to WIF would definitely add complexity and time to an already-long game.

Angelsenior wrote:
3)The pacific map hexes represent a much larger real land portion than in regards to european map hexes, the map gets clogged resulting in less room for maneuver than there is in reality.


True for Asia and Pacific. But do you really want to go from two big (22x34 inch) maps for that part of the world to eight? The immensity of the Pacific Ocean and China make it difficult for any game to show it at the scale at which WIF depicts Europe. Though I do believe Computer WIF (if it ever is published) will have the Europe scale world-wide.

Angelsenior wrote:
4)abstract search mechanisms for opposing fleets to find each other in battle
I can understand the idea behind it, but it ends up too out of reach.


Sea boxes (and for that matter, sea areas) are an elegant kludge, I think. Definite advantages in playability though, and at least WIF doesn't essentially omit thru over-abstraction the naval (and air) elements, as some games do.

Angelsenior wrote:
5)Blitzkrieg/armor/air advantages just doesnt play out as it should.


Do you play the 2d10 combat chart? That gives greater advantage to massing armor. And again, WIF I believe gives air a far greater role than many strategic-level WW2 games.

Angelsenior wrote:
I do agree with the good points as noted by the OP, but the level at which WiF plays, leaves out a lot of possible decisions, making it too abstract and too luck dependent. As a player you dont get a feeling of being able to control the flow of battle ie the possible result is not directly related to the player's skill, even a very good move can have a very bad result being based on a (few) single die roll. gives too much an all-or-nothing feeling. neither do the die rolls tend to even out statistically on so small a nr of die rolls.


I must admit, I have never heard WIF described as too abstract! And I never heard a complaint about WIF havint "so small a nr of die rolls" before either!

Just curious, is there a strategic-level WW2 game that you prefer, that addresses your concerns about WIF?
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Ben Delp
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Angelsenior wrote:
3)The pacific map hexes represent a much larger real land portion than in regards to european map hexes, the map gets clogged resulting in less room for maneuver than there is in reality.


I played Japan in my first game, and the scale kinda got to me too. I understand why it is the way it is, but there were many times where I felt like I was hardly doing anything. I think personally, I need a bit more action out of my counters.
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Angelus Seniores
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I played the final edition with the expansions till cruisers and convoys.

even without an overwhelming italian and Japanese support can the Russian be overwhelmed by the germans.
you cant compare a russian 3-3 with a german 5-3 or 8-4, at those odds, the 3-3 (which represents 70-80% of the russian units in 1940-41) is practically cannon fodder as you cant get a high enough concentration to attack even a single 8-4 which turns into a situation where the german can attack at will at favourable odds, so losses are 1 german loss for 4 russians or worse, with production barely equal at the start of the german-russo war its a big drain of russian units which are not replaced. certainly if after the attack the german units are not even disorganized and can attack again in a next impulse.

the game I recall, the germans started with a little less units (but high-quality) than the russians (low quality), but a few turns later, the russian was losing more units per turn than he could replace, without significant losses in german units as germans were practically always attacking at odds of 5/6/7/8-1 (at that odd the odds of attacker losses is very low). the 1941 winter russian counterattack with siberian units barely made any dent in their offensive.

The point where abstraction of the scale goes wrong is that if normally a german division attacking a russian division would see the russian destroyed while the german would have 10% losses, in the game it translates in NO LOSS (ie 10% loss doesnt warrant removing the german unit so it stays in full force in the game and continues fighting at 100%), so if hypothetically that unit would attack 10 times, each time losing 10% of its original strength it should be eliminated with the 10th battle, but in the game it is still there at 100% as each 10% loss is never taken into account.

indeed, step-losses would add more detail/game length, but neither is there any mechanism/balance to take these small losses into account.
the only way to balance this out is with lots of attacks, in that game, germany made about 3-4 ground attacks per impulse, so that is 3-4 die rolls with barely 1 russian counterattack at odds between 3/4-1, thats far from evening out the die rolls.

I agree that having unit quality vary from unit to unit is ok, but having to build a 3-3 which has no chance in battle as there are too few better quality russian units (so scrapping a 3-3 leaves you with too few russian infantry units) at that stage isnt helpful. you would have to build the better quality russian mechanized and armor units but their price is too steep for the russians in regards to how many units they need to just hold the line.

Ground attacks are decided by 1 die roll only, barring ground support and HQ support, but these arent available for every battle.
Air battles do take more die rolls but without step-losses here, again luck is quite important.

The naval search system's major flaw is that you rarely roll for search, choosing a naval option isnt often the case (depends which major power of course) and can result in opposing fleets staying months in the same sea area with barely any combat if the few searches they do fail to find the enemy (only 1 in 3 or 1 in 5 searches will yield a naval battle, depending of course the search box they're in/carriers).

the blitzkrieg advantage only has the 1st turn +1 to die rolls I believe, and otherwise with a +1 bonus for armor attacks if defender doesnt have antitank units but otherwise units fight as good, whatever nation they're from, the german military doctrine however goes far beyond these simple bonusses, the fear that the french units underwent in may 1940 isnt sufficiently represented in the game. you would have to be very lucky as a german player to fulfill the fall of france in a single turn in WiF as it did historically.

I agree that there isnt really another WW2 strategy game that is as complete as WiF, it is a good game after all/overall, but the luck part is too great in contrast to player skill, and luck at this scale level can be a death blow.
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Daniel Hammond
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Great game and I played it in just under 18 months!
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Greg Gray
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As for step losses, Factories in Flames (FiF) does have a way of representing it though it isn't a technically a loss to the unit.

As I recall, if you play the option of 3D10, then losses are determined in points, and those points can be satisfied by removing units (in some cases they have to be satisfied by removing units) or they can be satisfied by taking away offensive points from the nations stockpile. Those are justified as the replacements necessary to bring the unit back to full strength. I have yet to play the 3D10, but reviews I have read say that it does affect German production as they have to buy more and more points to stay ahead of the gradual attrition, and this could address the issue of no losses to an attacker who should be taking 10% even on higher odds attacks. It makes it much less an all or nothing in that regard. It also expands combat results to one-quarter, one-half, three-quarters, face down results, thus giving even more of a spectrum of outcomes.
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Adam Thorp
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What I find interesting in this thread is that a number of people consider the randomness of a single die to be a drawback. However, I think that is actually an advantage, since it shows that you in your role as a planner on the operative or even strategic scale, has surprisingly limited influence on what happens on the tactical level. You give the attack order, and then you sit by the phone connected to the front commanders and wait for it to start ringing.

My academic experience with military history can only be described as "severely limited" (a couple of books) but I still am of the very strong impression that war is an extremely stochastic affair, where outcomes are often decided by events outside your control.

In other words, having the results of your battles determined by a single die roll (maximum random variability) is the most accurate way to simulate a war.
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Adam Thorp
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Angelsenior wrote:
you cant compare a russian 3-3 with a german 5-3 or 8-4

[...]

the german military doctrine however goes far beyond these simple bonusses, the fear that the french units underwent in may 1940 isnt sufficiently represented in the game.


When I first read this, my impression was that you are contradicting yourself a little here in that the Germans first are "overpowered" in Russia and then "underpowered" in France. I have previously played The Third World War and Burma where unit skill/quality is a separate quantity, as opposed to merely measuring the amount of sheer "dakka" that a unit has.

In WiF, equipment and skill are summed up in the battle rating of a unit. The (sometimes) superior doctrine and skill of German troops are represented by the fact that a German infantry unit in WiF typically has a significantly larger battle rating than a corresponding Russian or French unit.

Of course, I was first a little disappointed in WiF not representing skill as a separate value (allowing for weaker units defeating stronger units through superior tactics) but I soon realised that it would make the game needlessly complicated.

My two ören. (1)

(1) We do not have cents in Swedish currency.
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Angelus Seniores
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as for the die rolls in regards to actual battle;
yes, there are factors that are beyond the control of commanders, but there are other factors that arent, for example if you know that a certain position is important to defend and you want your troops to concentrate on defense, you order them such and that should result in a stronger defense (they dug in), in Wif, there is no such difference. also, as said before, a battle at this scale lasts several days, in that time there is a lot of options a commander can consider, but in Wif as its just 1 die roll, no such option is available. for example; you send several corpses in an attack, the first day of battle they encounter such a strong defense that at the end of that day it is clear its better to stop attacking than continue fighting to death for no result, the next day the commander would advise his units to retreat as to limit the losses, but in Wif you cant call off an attack to limit the losses and thus they always fight to their death. at a low level scale, that is ok as the timeframe is shorter, but at such a large scale it should be possible.
factors to consider; is one side taken by surprise? did they dug-in or not? are they on the move (a unit in column/convoy, going from A to B via road has very limited fighting strength as opposed to being fully deployed for battle). so depending whether a unit uses its full move potential or not, they might be more inclined to be caught in column/convoy when both sides meet. a cautious commander would have them move slower, but in fighting formation, all these factors are decisions a commander can make, affecting the battle result, on top of any possible random factors. if you would divide a ground attack in 2 segments, you first determine the bonus/penalties from such decisions and on top the die roll for the random factor giving a first combat result/losses, then you choose to continue attack in the same circumstances or call it off if circumstances are bad as these wont change for the 2nd segment, or maybe add more units to the battle and then roll for the 2nd battle segment result/losses.
a defender, for example could see that continueing the defense is pointless due to the overwhelming force of the attacker and thus chooses to retreat for the 2nd segment and live rather than stay and die needlessly.
i dont think that a slightly more expanded attack segment would overly complicate the game in regards to the added operational possibilities/flexibility that it offers and is a better reflection of the options real commanders can/would use.

considering the russian units, its normal for their units to have a low strenght, but there should be much more of those available to represent the almost endless supply of troops the russians were fielding, reducing the cost of the 3-3 units to 2PP could represent this.

for the french, technically speaking, the quality of their equipment was almost the same as the germans so the inherent strength of both sides is practically same, but the french doctrine (ie how to use the units) was bad, resulting in much more losses, as they grew smarter over time, they learnt the better doctrine and they become more equivalent in doctrine as the germans, without a significant increase in inherent strength. so for this case, a possible rule would be to consider the french unit strength at start as 1 point lower than the printed factor and return it to its full strength as they learn from their mistakes later on.
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Wendell
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Angelsenior wrote:
as for the die rolls in regards to actual battle;
yes, there are factors that are beyond the control of commanders, but there are other factors that arent, for example if you know that a certain position is important to defend and you want your troops to concentrate on defense, you order them such and that should result in a stronger defense (they dug in), in Wif, there is no such difference. also, as said before, a battle at this scale lasts several days, in that time there is a lot of options a commander can consider, but in Wif as its just 1 die roll, no such option is available. for example; you send several corpses in an attack, the first day of battle they encounter such a strong defense that at the end of that day it is clear its better to stop attacking than continue fighting to death for no result, the next day the commander would advise his units to retreat as to limit the losses, but in Wif you cant call off an attack to limit the losses and thus they always fight to their death. at a low level scale, that is ok as the timeframe is shorter, but at such a large scale it should be possible.


Angelus you are correct of course. A combat die roll in WIF very likely represents several days worth of combat.

Angelsenior wrote:
factors to consider; is one side taken by surprise? did they dug-in or not? are they on the move (a unit in column/convoy, going from A to B via road has very limited fighting strength as opposed to being fully deployed for battle). (snip for length)


One can argue that this sort of factor is included in the die roll and the CRT. When you roll badly as the attacker and a "sure thing" doesn't work, well there were just some reinforcements for the defender you didn't anticipate, or your commander on the left failed to attack as ordered, etc. Lots of ways to rationalize this.

Angelsenior wrote:

i dont think that a slightly more expanded attack segment would overly complicate the game in regards to the added operational possibilities/flexibility that it offers and is a better reflection of the options real commanders can/would use.


Would be interested in your suggestions. But how much longer would a WIF combat take to resolve if there were this additional level of detail and "flexibility" for both sides to use? A summer impulse on the Eastern Front can already take a long time as the Germans and Soviets move, bomb each other, and attack up and down the front.

How long do you want a game of WIF to last? And how much operational and tactical detail is appropriate for a game at the WIF scale?

A certain abstraction of combat is necessary if a game that covers the entire Second World War on a global level is to be remotely playable.
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Angelsenior wrote:
considering the russian units, its normal for their units to have a low strenght, but there should be much more of those available to represent the almost endless supply of troops the russians were fielding, reducing the cost of the 3-3 units to 2PP could represent this.


Hi, Angelus!
I was thinking about the same some time ago. Now I rationalize the "low" number of soviet units this way: the units we get in the game don't represent the whole of any country's armed forces, just the most operative units. Doing the maths, you can quickly realize that the +-20 ground units the URSS gets for Barbarrossa don't match the 3 mio. soldiers it was suppossed to be fielding (that would be about 60 corps). The rest of it's real armed forces are subsumed in the game mechanics. First, in the form of notional units and second, in the movement allowance of enemy units. I asume that ARM units moving 5 or 6 hexes per impulse (500 or 600 km. in a week or two? It's not much) represents them moving trough a non-friendly territory where recon, ambushes and constant fight against minor units slow them down. Of course, a "rebase" rule for ground units in friendly territory would help to enforce this theory. Rail movement represents this, to an extent.

Now that we are pointing the cons of WiF, I would like to speak about the naval system. Don't get me wrong; I like it overall. It's tactically and strategically challenging, it integrates many aspects of war at sea nice and smoothly and it doesn't take forever to play. It even gives me some sense of power when I pick up a pile of BB and push them trough the seven seas.
However, it's playing structure is anti-climatic. You make search rolls at the beginning of the combat and that's about all. All choices are made after, so emotions cool off. Opposite to ground combat, where you make all the decissions and then hold your breath while dices roll.

About randomness in combat. Well, I cannot say you're wrong, but, as pointed before, this is more a strategic game. When you call an attack, you are playing the role of a major leader, or a bunch of them, in your country. Imagine Stalin meeting Zhukov and talking for weeks about a counter-offensive at, say, Kursk. There are choices you will do, but many others, most of the operational and all the tactical ones, are to be taken by your militaries. So, when the battle starts, you are not really directing it, but waiting in the Kremlin beneath the phone. Who knows? Maybe next call will be: "Comrade Stalin, in the last four hours, or Second Tank Guard Army has been surrounded by armoured pincers from blahblah and blehbleh" or "Congratulations, Comrade Marshall Stalin, you have directed a brilliant penetration which has cut off two enemy Korps in Belgorod!" Moreover, completely loosing a Corp doesn't mean that all of it's men and material are lost, prisoner or dead. It's just that it's not operative anymore; it has been reduced to the status of "not worth of a counter on the map". The remnants of it are probably subsumed in some other units along the front, those which magically keep it's full combat strength even after weeks of combat and attrition.

Just my two pesetas

Cheers!
Roberkhan
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Dave Shane
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I am playing World in Flames for the first time in more than 15 years. My kids are grown up, so it is now possible to have the time and space required. I always considered it the best game I have ever played. I now like Paths of Glory a lot, but yes World in Flames is the best game I have played and perhaps the best game ever made. As enjoyable as Paths of Glory is, World in Flames is continuous strategy and suspense over and over, turn by turn, decision by decision. As the review says, the sub-convoy interaction is outstanding. But that fits in with the other simply outstanding parts of the game: the politics triggering the U.S. entry, the relationship between economy and resources and production of reinforcements, the concept of global strategy by the nations fighting in both theaters, the initiative phase which involves both decision making and suspense that triggers everything that will happen in the next game turn. The suspense of naval operations and who will surprise who at sea. The suspense in the Pacific as the U.S. tries to hang on desperately while its economy is turning out carriers and battleships as fast as possible. I play solitaire and am playing version 4. I am wondering about buying a new game because many parts of my game are so worn out. I also am wondering about playing anything more advanced or involved that the current version i own, which I feel is very sufficient. It's great to be back playing this game. I now believe it will be the main form of recreation for my retirement.
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Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
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Dave Shane wrote:
I play solitaire and am playing version 4. I am wondering about buying a new game because many parts of my game are so worn out. I also am wondering about playing anything more advanced or involved that the current version i own, which I feel is very sufficient. It's great to be back playing this game. I now believe it will be the main form of recreation for my retirement.


WIF4 was great. I prefer WIF Final Edition but hey, if WIF4 hadn't been great I wouldn't have stuck around for WIF5 and WIFFE!
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Joseph Moore
Canada
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In reading the above postings which contain a lot of valid commentary I still kept thinking - "this is a strategic-level game - the turns reflect 2 months".

The type of tactical detail that some would prefer would spoil the game for me which is why I will never play the tactical choice options presented in Factories in Flames. WIF permits you to make the high-level decisions and choices and I think as some writers have pointed out, the tactics are factored in partly through the counter values and availability. That works for me because I am more interested in strategic-economic factors than in tactics while others prefer the latter.

Because I like grand-strategy I have acquired almost all of that genre available over my 40 + years of gaming. I still come back to WIF at least once a year. Why?

It works. If you prefer historical outcomes then play conservatively; but you can still have a "gamey" session (even solitaire) and explore more radical strategies. Either way it doesn't get silly, you still must have a sound ecomomic and geographic base for your Italian marines in Ceylon fantasies or they won't happen. I still chuckle at the level of counter detail for planes and (particularly) ships, in a game where a couple of dice rolls decide a two-month campaign, but that is one of the reasons that i love the game. I actually have to make decisions about what types of cruisers to send where, and how to apportion my escort pools etc.

The old SPI WIE series was a standby for years but it lacked innovative systems and "chrome". At least it had some production. Europa is still in my eyes, the ultimate system, merging strategy and tactics to a certain extent and providing the most satisfactory simulation of the land war available. but it doesn't do the naval war and or economics (it was promised but we all know what happened to good old GDW through the past decades). Europa also takes one heck of a lot of time if you are doing the whole war. I still get certain modules out from time to time. the Spanish Civil War one is good.

Struggle for Europe isn't bad for the land war but the naval stuff is very weak and the A/C too abstracted, and there is no real economic system. You just get to play a bit with your replacement pools. Superior components though.

third reich and its succesors filled a niche but it's really just a fun game. The old one was way better than JP3R which is really just about rolling sixes.

This brings me to my current WIF rival and the only one that I have played more frequently over the past 2 years than WIF. I hated AETO when it first came out because it suffers from some of the worst rules writing I have ever encounted, but I persevered and got exceptional support from designer Eric Harvey who patiently responded to all of my queries. This game works. It doesn't have the level of air and sea unit detail and and the land units are pretty much generic, but as a simulation it is superb. production is closer to Third Reich than WIF (you get a pool - you don't create it) but it still compels strtegic choices in building your armed forces. The surface naval warfare system is better than WIF but the WIF convoy rules are better. The two things that I really prefer are the monthly turns and the simpler approach to weather than in WIF. I am shocked that this game and its sister APTO have not developed more of a following, they are superb and vast improvements over the systems that they were built on (the original ETO/PTO). If you get past the horrid rules you will discover a gem.

In the end however, WIF will always have a place on my gaming table. It's like family, it just feels right.

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Patrick Lucas
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Oregon
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Back in the 90's I played WIF5 several times to completion, all games played solo. Amazingly, a couple of the games came down to a single die roll on the last turn of the game. I bought the WIF FE Super Deluxe edition back when it cost $250, I think it now costs $450.

I would spread out the huge quantity of counters on my bed and gaze at them, take out the expansions and gaze at them, take out the Annuals and peruse them. Eventually, my eyes would glaze over and all the counters, expansions, and Annuals would get put back on the shelf.

And here it is years later and the dilemma of WIF remains, what expansions to use, what rules to use, what CRT, what options, too much, too much.
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Tom Stewart
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Leesburg
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Adamukk wrote:
What I find interesting in this thread is that a number of people consider the randomness of a single die to be a drawback. However, I think that is actually an advantage, since it shows that you in your role as a planner on the operative or even strategic scale, has surprisingly limited influence on what happens on the tactical level. You give the attack order, and then you sit by the phone connected to the front commanders and wait for it to start ringing.

My academic experience with military history can only be described as "severely limited" (a couple of books) but I still am of the very strong impression that war is an extremely stochastic affair, where outcomes are often decided by events outside your control.

In other words, having the results of your battles determined by a single die roll (maximum random variability) is the most accurate way to simulate a war.


I have to say though, that even if this is true, it still isn't as much fun. If one wants to 'experience' the chaos of war, I think reading a novel, watching a movie, or maybe playing paintball is good for that. When playing a game though, I want to feel that my decisions make a definitive difference in how the results turn out. I have to agree with Angelsenior that a single, flat distribution, die roll to decide battle outcomes (at any scale really) is sort of a let down. I keep hoping that designers will start implementing more thoughtful solutions to battle outcomes than most games currently employ.

A non-gaming friend once observed, while looking at a game in progress (I think Third Reich), that for all the rules complexity, and all of the pieces, and all of the thought and time put into making a move, that in the end the outcome of all of that was a die roll that if good destroyed the enemy completely, and if bad destroyed the attacker completely - no partial elimination of forces. I had to agree with him that that was really silly. Even more modern designs (e.g. buckets of dice like Europe Engulfed) can still find itself with hugely lopsided results (until you roll ~5000 dice or so, you are likely to not have anywhere near a flat distribution).

...To be complete in my rant, and provide a positive example, I think Paths of Glory is a good example of a design that provides a not-terribly-swingy battle outcome solution. The difference between the worst case die roll and the best case, is not that big. And both side experience loss.
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Robert Madison
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Milwaukee
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Angelsenior wrote:
And the bad things...

1) counter limits which can be strange and can hamper a major power's development (russian land unit counter limit foremost)


The one that sticks in my memory is that the British absolutely must build the Paratrooper on the first turn -- it's one of the few "British" units guaranteed to actually appear in Britain. This is a game where you can buy a 'British' infantry to try and fend of Sea Lion... and the unit actually turns out be from New Zealand and appears down there.
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Blorsh Blorsh
Spain
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Partial destruction? The destruction of one counter is a partial destruction of an army. Remenber that the counters are the "parts" of your army, not only the steps represents that parts.

Our group always use 3d10 and Factories rules. More different combat bonus more "tactical options".
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