Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of historical and fantasy miniatures wargaming and model building. From 15mm Flames of War, to Warhammer 40K, to 1/35th scale tanks, with some potential surprises on the horizon - you'll find them here!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Battlefront's Update from UK Game Day - My Take

So Battlefront had a big splash and presentation in the UK recently where they provided updates on everything from Flames of War to Team Yankee to Tanks (among other things I'm sure). The guys over at Breakthrough Assault have released some of the details for those of us in the rest of the world, and there is also a good write up at No Dice No Glory. From where I sit, the reveals are truly a mixed bag with some upcoming releases I'm excited about and others that sort of confirm some of my worst fears. So based on the summary in the No Dice No Glory Forum, let's hit a few of the high points!

Pete from Battlefront had quite a few things to say:

  • BF has re-engineered, it’s getting to be more of a plastics company now 
  • Production schedule is going as fast as it can go
  • Everything is driven by the model range, 1 year production time on plastics
  • Regrets on how BF rolled out V4, acknowledged that there was not enough for MW to start with and that EW/LW bridging strategy not sufficient, but no regrets on the V4 rules themselves or the new models for it
  • BF Forums - not coming back. Pete has no interest in it – notes abuse, not a good environment for new players, “it was a disaster,” referred players to NDNG, says that his guys occasionally visit here but “they are busy and can’t answer everywhere”
  • Current BF paint situation less than optimal, looking to partner to “best paint company in the world” and redo Colors of War
  • LFTF will be updated more regularly.
  • Boxed campaigns like the old Firestorm Bagration won’t return as they aren’t commercially viable. However BF are committed to campaign play and are currently looking at how to deliver this and organised play.
  • BF want to increase their interaction with the community and are currently building a plan.
So there's a lot that seems fairly obvious here, and there appears to be a little remaining denial on Pete's part. First and foremost, I don't think it is news to anyone that 15mm miniatures, especially detailing World War II subjects, have been migrating to plastic for several years now. Unfortunately Battlefront well and truly missed the boat here early on, and I believe companies like Zvezda and Plastic Soldier Company profited handsomely from that miss. All of the initial MW V4 releases (and all of the Team Yankee releases) have been built around a core of plastic miniatures which has resulted in the far narrower list range seen in both of those systems.

Which allows a great segue to a discussion of V4, the Forums, and community interaction. It is nice to see that BF is now acknowledging that the V4 roll out was lacking. From where I sit it was a complete disaster, and I haven't really returned to the game since V4 was released. I'm not going to rehash the V3 vs. V4 discussion, but honestly BF dug their own grave here. V4 was a half-baked product with too many changes, and not enough range to truly support itself. When the community revolted, their answer was to ultimately shut down the forums - which quite frankly had been one of the BEST aspects of BF in previous editions. Now they're looking for new ways to "increase their interaction" with the community - after having burned a lot of their long time customers and shut down the forums. This strikes me as wanting to have things both ways - or it strikes me as a desire for creating a star chamber. Hint - if you want to "interact" then expect feedback which isn't always positive regarding the company's direction. If you want to "market" and "control the message" - then just run ads.

That being said there are some potentially illuminating comments in here. There is a focus on the "new player" as a justification for shutting down the forum along with discussion about Firestorm not being economically viable. With the Dust kickstarter fiasco, the first premium terrain fiasco, and increased competition from other miniature suppliers, I think it can be easy to envision a scenario where BF was not profitable, or at least not as profitable as it had been. Continued growth, or maybe even in this case continued treading of water, required new players with new dollars so long-time customers could have been viewed as played out resources. That would explain the effective reboot of Flames of War.

There was also an update on the latest Mid War releases:

  • August 25th 2018 for Iron Cross & Enemy at the Gates
  • Plastic KV-1 and plastic Early T-34
  • Panzergrenadiers will be later with Kursk book (Armoured Infantry won’t be in Iron Cross but there will be online article to allow its use.)
  • A second German and Russian book will follow quite quickly for Kursk (that’s where the Armoured infantry will be). 
  • Romanians, Hungarians, will be later digital releases
  • Stalingrad city mat (Kursk on reverse side) coming
  • City fighting scenarios for the above
  • There will be 36 new plastic kits for Eastern Front. 
  • Germany and Soviet Infantry will be plastic.
I'm not sure there's a lot surprising in here other than the somewhat delayed Armored Infantry for the Germans. The plastic infantry is a bit of a surprise - from what I've seen so far it's been a mixed bag - though that soft plastic has been terrible. Digital Romanians and Hungarians (but no Finns mentioned) is also unsurprising as V4 lists have thus far tended on the most basic formations with little unique kit appearing as official releases (only one "Wildcard" release so far). There are several "unofficial" cards on the site, but speaking as a tournament player - "unofficial" isn't anything you can bank on.

A few other blurbs:
  • Phil's been working to balance Soviets in V4 (with several specifics I'll leave out listed)
  • New Stalingrad terrain including multi-part building kits
  • Great War eventually coming as an Osprey (‘Nam, FoaN type) book including Belgians in 2019
  • EW will not be released as a full treatment by BF - seen as a "burden" on retailers
I wish BF luck actually balancing Soviets with the new V4 rules. I guess we'll see how it works out in late August. The multi-part building kits sound interesting. The Stalingrad campaign has always been fairly interesting to me. The Stalingrad / Kursk books will pretty much set the tone for whether I get back into Flames of War. If they have some interesting army lists, I might be tempted to actually build a force. If it's continued vanilla, I'll likely pass. 

I'd like to spend a little time talking about the EW comments. This isn't the first time we've seen BF invoke the "retailer" to justify limiting the size / variety of releases. Local gaming stores are hard pressed these days with the variety of online establishments. Therefore their shelf space is usually fairly limited, and they prefer to fill it with product that moves well rather than product that collects dust. The hobby stores in my area have large Games Workshop sections - and several other systems command a lot of space as well. Flames of War, however, has been relegated to the corners, and it started late in V3 as the final LW supplements were coming out. I'm guessing some of the final V3 releases didn't perform as expected, and BF and the local stores took a hit with V4 being all about winning shelf space again. Thing is they're going to have to win enough new players to keep it going.

Honestly, EW had a lot going for it. There were some really interesting armies and it played very well. That being said, BF miniature support wasn't even across the board (see my earlier Polish Black Brigade blog entries!), and had several gaps.

Late War looks to be receiving yet another treatment for V4:
  • Paratrooper Books will be the first of the Late War V4 Books
  • Will have MW cards with also
  • Based on 100 pts but will include 1500 pts cards for use with current AoLW/V4 LW 
  • Two Books – US and German – British Paratrooper book to follow after Normandy
  • 6th June 2019 a new Armies of Late War will drop rebalancing everything to the 100pt system. 
  • This will then be followed by specific theatre books. 2-3 per year over about 4 years. Think, Normandy, Eastern Front, Market Garden, Fall of the Reich. As well as points units will have a number rating depending on how late in late war they appear. This allows players to fight a kind of early late war or late late war if they wish but they don’t have to (everything is balanced as everything else).
Given the few MW releases we've gotten, it appears that BF is going to try and retain some of the granularity it had in the previous edition of FoW once it gets to LW. That's potentially good and bad from where I sit. It's good in that we may actually get enough lists with enough variety of kit to make the game interesting.  It's bad in that there were a few "throwaway" releases in V3 LW that didn't make a lot of sense - with other theaters being completely neglected. One that springs to mind is Nachtjäger. Not that I didn't like the idea of IR Panthers, it's just they put them in the wrong unit and what's with the decloaking FlaK rail cars!?!? Desperate Measures was a great book, but left out SS units.

Team Yankee also got some love:
  • Oil Wars - Coming 2019
  • Fits in with 1985 - though parts actually extend beyond 1985 its all circa 1985 kit
  • Plastic Israelis
  • Merkavas – not as good as a Leopard 2
  • Iran-Iraq war
  • Prepainted Oil Wells confirmed.
  • TY 2.0 October 2019
  • Polish & Czech books coming (October 2018), come with cards, T-62s
  • No plans for Spanish or Italy forces
  • Bradleys, Apaches, coming
  • T-80 w/ Reactive Armor, BMP-3s coming with later Soviet Book 
  • New British Book – Challengers & Warriors - October 2019, thought I heard mention of Team Yankee “Late War” here
Honestly I see most of this as "good news." The Oil Wars expansion looks like it could be very interesting, and the expanding of U.S. and Soviet kit is also welcome. And did someone say MERKAVA!?!??? I'm also looking forward to Czechs and Poles in TY as we need more Pact forces officially represented!

I've always held Team Yankee to a slightly different standard than Flames of War. First and foremost, TY has always been more of a hypothetical game - it covers a war that thankfully never actually happened. It also was a brand new game and brand new time period for Battlefront - so I didn't expect the richness and completeness of a fully realized game like Flames of War from the outset. Given those caveats, I've enjoyed the game, even as I've attempted to accurize the miniatures along the way. 

So once again, I'm left with a lot more to look forward to at this point for Team Yankee than for Flames of War based on the latest news. World War II has always been the historical period which has interested me greatly, and the previous breadth and depth of Flames of War was, in my opinion, its biggest selling point. Hopefully some of that breadth and depth will return, but it is clear that we will never again have the full range we saw in V3 from the Polish Campaign clear through to the fall of Berlin. That being said, I'm glad that BF is taking the reins and holding their own press conferences and sharing directly with the community. That's a big step in the right direction. 


  1. I realized a long time ago that I am no longer the customer that Battlefront is looking for. None of this really interests me at all.

  2. I really hope the they can keep the interesting units in 100 point LW.

  3. Team Yankee has been butchered in terms of accuracy, all in the name of balancing the game. As a person with combat tanker experience and access to data directly related to the M1 vs T-72 stats comparison, I can emphatically state with absolute precision that BF has it wrong. The M1 is impervious frontally beyond 1000m from any cannon the Russians have. The T-72 will die every time to the M1 beginning at 2500m. In the desert we actually killed targets even further out, but I couldn't tell the tank target type that far out. My point is, Team Yankee sucks - they modified reality to suit their need for game balance. And they did the same for FOW. Talk to a Sherman WWII vet. If you can find any left alive. The Sherman was so badly outclassed we're lucky any WWII tank vets survived. I had the pleasure to speak to 5 of them - the stories they tell are not flattering to the Sherman - one guy lost 5 tanks! They said a 10 to 1 advantage in the open was a even battle vs a panther or tiger. Likewise, a 4-1 T72 to M1 would be an even battle. But I doubt it - the US lost 9 tanks in the Gulf War...but NONE to enemy fire. It's probably much higher. Training and capabilities are not reflected very well. Once again, the Soviets are over-rated to balance out the game. Sorry for the rant but BF taking liberties and creating a fantasy WWII and modern combat game and then pretending to be experts? Not for me.

    1. Thank you for your service to our nation. Much appreciated.

  4. Was going to write a long post but really, can sum it up quite quickly - clearly you don't seem to have picked up on the fact that TY is set in 1985 and in Europe. There is a bit of a difference both between the original M1 Abrams and the M1A1 you'll have used in the Gulf and between the Soviet T-72 and the shitty export-grade T72 used by the Iraqis. A 4-1 ratio between the 105mm armed M1 and the Soviet quality (such as it is) T-72 is probably reasonable.

    Somewhat separately it is also not unreasonable for them to factor game balance into this. I kinda doubt you'd find many people interested in playing a game as one sided as what you suggest. It'd be incredibly difficult to get it to be playable and it Wouldn't really have the design space to allow for T-55 or French AMX either. You might enjoy it, if you were happy playing solo I guess, but I can't imagine it would be commercially viable for Battlefront!