I spent a lot of my childhood with my brothers building Airfix, Revell, matchbox and Tamiya WWII kits for tabletop wargaming. I look back fondly on the times we had, the many hours we spent cutting, sticking and painting the tanks and men and creating battlefield scenery in 1/72 scale. We used to use an old Airfix ruleset that my dad had used himself in university back in the early 70s, which were very functional, but we didn’t realize at the time how outdated they were. Fast forward 20 years and I’m now looking to get back into the game [at least a little]. I love painting board game and tactical miniatures; things like Blood Rage, Imperial Assault, Conan, and umpteen miniatures we’ve used for various D&D campaigns over the years. But something that I have missed is pouring over the history books and painting historically accurate tanks, armour and infantry, and recreating some of the companies, etc. that really fought throughout World War II. So, this Christmas I decided to take the dive back into tabletop wargaming a little and ordered the Flames of War: Open Fire! Starter Set from Battlefront Miniatures.
I chose this set for a couple of reasons; there’s a healthy core of players in my area, the models in this set are full plastic, and the scale is 1/100 which means I can get a bit more on the table tanks wise whilst maintaining a semblance of realism. That doesn’t mean we didn’t used to play with every tank we owned as kids, we did, it was just a little silly at times! So, for those interested here’s what you get in the box, and my thoughts on the $70 product I purchased. I’ll probably do some posts in the future about constructing the models and some basic modelling techniques as well as some painting suggestions and examples.
So let’s take a look at the pieces as they come in the box:
Above is the model of the V1 doodlebug and launcher. The scenario in the box is that the British armour with support from US Paratroops are trying to take the position and disable the V1 Launcher. The launcher track is a little short from a historical standpoint but I’m not that bothered as it’s just a really unique piece of scenery that I’m excited to have in my collection.
The set comes with 3 Stug III’s with a couple of options available; long barrel vs short barrel and a mounted MG with a shield as well.
The Allies have 8, count ’em, 8 Sherman sprues. There’s the Sherman V version and the Sherman Firefly available as well. The front panels for both versions are slightly different [the firefly doesn’t have the MG] and the guns are obviously different too.
Above are the German Grenadiers, the models are actually very nicely detailed considering the size of the soldiers, this means they’ll be a blast to paint and really will show great facial features as well. You can be a little heavy handed with the colour blocking to ‘get them done’ whilst still leaving enough details to pick out and make the miniatures pop, with a little uniqueness.
Here’s both the sprues together, The US Paratroops look great and I’m excited to do the basing for them so they can look like they’re hiding in the bushes and grass.
And finally from a model stand point here’s the tank commander sprue, there’s three for each side and they’re all unique, which I really appreciate.
The starter set comes with a few sheets of heavy cardboard which contain a bunch of status and objective markers, as well as a ruler, which is nice in the sense that anyone can play from the box without going and getting custom pieces/tools. The scenery and buildings that come with the game make it playable immediately, so I appreciate that because not everyone has the time to build buildings and craft trees and hills, etc.
There’s also plenty of paper in the bottom of the box, there’s a quick start rule book, instructions for both sides, as well as army composition aids to help custom build your force. There’s plenty of pictures in the books to help inspire you with paint jobs and scenery ideas, and I’m all about that eye-candy.
All in all, I’m pleased with the set, and for those looking to get into such a game/hobby this is a great place to start because it really has everything you need, even a fistful of dice. The rules are simple enough to not be daunting and Flames of War have made some excellent tutorial videos in small steps on YouTube. I picked mine up for around $70 which is a good deal, but I wouldn’t want to pay too much more than that, so I would caution that you wait until the price is right.