So I’m going to talk about Pyros which got me thinking about Pyro Fuego which got me thinking about the Dresden Files which got me thinking about Harry Dresden’s spells which got me thinking about him screaming Fozare. So that’s why the title is that. It has nothing to do with the game.
Now you know how my brain works.
So another barrier to entry for the wonderful game called Fields of Fire is the amount of decisions one has to make before you actually play the game. Wars don’t plan themselves, ya know. So before turn 1, you must:
- Decide upon your communications system (wired or wireless)
- Plan your pyrotechnic communications (what do flares mean?)
- Distribute Battalion attachments among Platoons in the command structure
- Place chits on the actual board
All of these things will have an impact on your mission, so they are important. HOWEVER, in the new 2nd edition rulebook (yes, I have read it now), they do say you can ignore communications if you want an easier game. So that cuts two of those bullets down.
So let’s talk communication. How meta. In Korea, there are two types of radios our commanders can carry around with them:
Each has a plus side and a minus side. Much like a relationship or a battery. A field phone is hard wired together and can go anywhere, providing constant communication to whomever you are attached to. But that’s the $1,000,000 word. Attached, because you need:
As your Platoon moves forward, Phone Line will be dropped behind them, because back when I was a lad, telephones were plugged into the walls of our houses. It’s true! And don’t get me started on party lines. ANYWAY, the big downside to this, besides the obvious tripping hazard, is that anytime a location is under fire, there’s a 50/50 shit that your phone line will become:
Which makes your phone useless, except maybe to fake taking a call when your annoying Cpl comes to talk to you about his girl back home for the millionth time. While you can repair cut lines, it takes time and command points, which are limited, so it’s something to think about.
Our radio sets, being wireless, do NOT have to worry about anything getting cut. They have those giant antennas like we used to have on our cellphones back in the 80s and 90s. Remember those, kids? No? Get off my lawn!
Unfortunately, even with giant antennae, your radio reception becomes a staticky mess unless you have line of sight to your receiver. So remember how our map was laid out? If we had our Commanding Officer standing on the hill in Row One, here’s all the locations he could talk to:
Notice a few things: The higher hill (three cards as opposed to the two we’re radioing from) in Row 3 blocks any further communication beyond. Also, the hill in Row 2 blocks communication directly behind it, but NOT the other hill in Row 4. From Row 1 you simply can not see into the valley in Row 3. You would have to march up into Row 2 and look if you wanted to see there.
So Radio use can be very limiting. When you get a good look at the map and where your primary objective is, that’s when you can make an educated choice as to which radio you should use.
So this is what I’ve decided.
I’ll put my CO (Commanding Officer) on the Cemetery Hill in Row 2, which will give him LOS (Line of Sight) to the Patrolling Platoon at the start and finish of the Patrol. I’ll put either the XO or 1st Sergeant in the Rice Paddy (which is dangerously open, but I’ll put him in a fox hole alone, so I hope he won’t draw much attention) and he’ll be able to keep the command channels open during the other two terrain cards. I’ll put some good support forces in the Village in between the two commanders to make sure if any bad guys show up that they will have fire support, and we’ll be good there.
So that’s Radio Decision made! One down, three to go! Now to the Pyros!
These little dohickies can save your companies life. Or just annoy you. The smoke (regardless of color) is good for concealment, and White Phosphorus (WP) smoke also has a nice combat effect, too, so that’s nice. The flares are pretty, so there’s that. BUT, you can also subscribe meanings to all the colors and things, so that if a soldier sees a flying Red Star, he knows to do something. In the olden days, you could attach any order you wanted to these things, but that lead to all kinds of douchebagery, so now they have specific orders depending on your mission types, so these are my options:
- Cease Fire
- Shift Fire
- If Adjacent to Route Point #?, Move to It
- If Adjacent to Obj 1, Move to It
- If Adjacent to Signal, Move to It
Really, they all look like good ways to get stragglers who go out to flank an enemy an easy way to return to their unit. I’ve never been good at assigning these things, so I’ll just do so kind of willy-nilly.
So here’s what I did to make it easy on me: All smokes: Move to Objective if adjacent. All flares: Move to signal if adjacent. The good thing is that you can launch flares to adjacent cards if you want to, so that gives me a lot of leeway there. And it’s easy for me to remember, so I won’t forget to use them during the game.
Okay, now Battalion Attachments. Usually this is a bit more complicated because you’re trying to build a force to attack something or defend something or whatever. However, in Patrol missions, anything that isn’t in whatever Platoon that’s doing the Patrolling can’t move. So really, I can lump this in with the next bullet point and just lump the HMG and RCLs in with the other platoons depending on what cards I think they would fit best on. And if it doesn’t work, I can always try something different for the next Patrol.
So let’s drop these chits onto some cards.
After much hemming and hawing, I went with this. In the upper right, you see 1st Platoon ready to start their patrol. They also have a HMG in a Foxhole for support if things start out rough. Behind them is 3rd Platoon, who is watching over a Mortar Team as well as another HMG team and an Artillery Spotter who has a view of the first card the Patrol will be entering, as well as a far off hill that could likely have some enemy when the Patrol reaches the objective. The Rice Paddy on the hill next to 1st Platoon houses the XO who has a RCL there in case something bad happens. He has a good view of all of the patrol route, so can keep communications open and send in some rockets if needed. In the Village in the Valley sits 2nd Platoon with the Mortar Spotter and another RCL gunner providing more fire support for the right flank. Finally in the Cemetary as mentioned before is the CO with the big RCL as defense and the 1st Sergeant in case anything happens to the CO.
My main weekness is the left flank, but because of the big hill in Row 3, there really isn’t much I can do about that, and there’s just as large of a hill on the other side of the board, so I’m working with what I have.
And now, I can pull my first card and get this game started.
Yeah. Let’s do this.