15mm Scale Product Review
Barbed wire and minefields in Flames of War
Mind Your Step
Last weekend, Chris and I used fortifications for the first time as part of a Cauldron type scenario (I lost) set during the opening phases of Operation BAGRATION.
If for no other reason than commit them to memory, I thought it might be useful to recap how these features work in Flames of War, look at what’s available from 3 easily accessible manufacturers
and review the scenic products we used.
As we were fighting on the Eastern Front with the odds stacked against the Germans (see the Spartan Challenge+),
I thought I’d even things up a little with 5 stands of barbed wire (50 points) and 3 stands of minefields (150 points) I’d recently purchased from Terra Firma Studios during a recent sale.
In Flames of War, barbed wire entanglements and minefields are modelled in sections of 8”/20cm by 2”/5cm. Whilst barbed wire slows fully-tracked vehicles down by counting as Rough Terrain, infantry and man-packed gun teams can only cross it if they start their turn adjacent to it and pass a Skill Test. Pioneer teams can re-roll failed Skill Tests when attempting to cross. Barbed wire is Impassable to all other types of team.
Minefields required a Motivation Test to cross and, if achieved, teams must make a further Skill Test for each stand crossing to navigate safely. If they fail, they roll to survive on the usual infantry save of 3+. If they don’t, they take a hit and the whole platoon becomes Pinned Down.
Interestingly, and I didn’t realise this, Flames of War doesn’t differentiate between anti-tank and anti-personnel mines so you get more bang for your buck. Armoured vehicles use Top armour against anti-tank 5 and Fire power 1+. Unarmoured vehicles are destroyed.
As is clear, when covered by fire, barbed wire entanglements and minefields are useful in delaying your opponent’s route of advance / assault, denying them free access to cover or channelling them into pre-determined killing fields watched over by arty spotters or HMGs
Basic Fortifications are allowed in games with the Fortifications or Limited Fortifications special rules and you can buy more dependent upon the size of your table and the number of fortification points available. Alternatively, you can just make it up like we did using the points table on page 217 of the hardback rule book to give you some idea of the points value such obstacles represent (see also Field Fortifications in Stalin’s Onslaught, pp.64-65, or, I guess p.45 onwards in the forthcoming Das Book) . Of course, it’s likely you’ll be limited to the number actual pieces you’ve actually been able to buy or make and this leads me nicely on to what is currently available on the market.
If you want to do it yourself, Battlefront have thoughtfully provided us with a guides on how to make barbed wire entanglements and augment the minefields in their very own Battlefield in a Box (BB104) including downloadable Achtung Minen! signs. Alternative guides to DIY fortifications can be found on a variety of blogs example , example. The Battlefield in a Box: Defences contains 4 barbed wire entanglements and 2 minefields alongside the trenches and 1 stand of anti-tank obstacle.
The set, sculpted by Jason Buyaki, is pre-painted on a generic earthen type base and is, unsurprisingly, produced
to the regulation size and retails from anywhere between £40 - £50. Whilst basic, the set is a good start if you’re going
to be playing a lot of defensive games.
Kerr and King produce 3 different polyurethane resin bases to accommodate barbed wire entanglements on the regulation
base size. Whilst each design is very well executed, it is important to note that the pieces come unpainted and without wire.
Whilst the quality is undeniable, I find the £4.50 asking fee abit steep.
Having had to wrap wire around posts myself, I can tell you that if you have short fat fingers like
me you’ll need to devote significant time and energy to this project if you want to recreate authentic
barbed wire configurations like these illustrated here
Kerr and King also manufacture 2 different designs of mine field markers, again to the correct size.
Both variants can be deployed on either the Eastern or Western fronts but are more orientated
around the Normandy theatre (I’m loving those dead cows...). Again, both are supplied unpainted
and without wire for £4.50. Postage and packing is free on orders over £20, but you’ll have to add
on a further £2.00 if your order falls below this price.
Possibly inspired by Dale Pepperel’s ‘Making Minefields Step by Step guide’ are Terra Firma Studio’s
barbed wire and minefield markers .
These are my choice products because of both the quality, range and price. Each piece is produced
on an mdf base cut to the regulatory size and are supplied pre-painted, flocked, wired and decorated
with silfor tufts! Barbed wire is produced on 2 different bases types (Summer/Spring European and
desert) whilst minefields are in 3 flavours ( Summer/Spring European, desert and Winter).
In comparison to the Kerr and King products, each piece currently retails at £4.00, but if you buy 5
pieces the price drops to £3.60 onto which a minimum postage of £3.99 is charged for orders under
£20.00. Both types of piece look good on the table, despite the initial impression that the minefields are
clearly out of scale.
The only problem that I’ve encountered is their fragility:
To be fair, this would be true of all manufacturer’s products and it’s nothing that can’t be fixed without a little superglue.
As an aside, I can also vouch for the high levels of customer service provided by Andrew over at Terra Firma. Pricing is very fair, packaging is excellent and if any products are incorrectly packed or damaged Andrew makes sure that your not left out of pocket.
All round, a clear winner.