Search This Blog


List building 101 continued - briefing selection

Hello everyone, in another article by Sexy Sixes I thought I would jump back to the list building 101. I already shared some of my thoughts on how I understand the general process of building a tournament list but today, I would describe it in some more detail, how do I select a proper briefing.

So without further ado, I will just get on with it :)

I start off just like everybody else does: by looking at my collection and thinking "oh, I have not used these for quite a long time now" :) Once I get an overall idea what I want to play and figure out what my risk apetite is (i.e. do I want to play a "brick" or a "toolbox") I start searching for a suitable briefing.
Now the thing with Flames of War is that the resources for list building are scattered all over the place. There are paper books, unofficial/official army builders and Digital Briefings. With no single point of reference, it takes quite a while to compile a list of possible companies that I might use (this is somehow alleviated by the fact that on Forces and Easy Army you can search for briefings containing a given arsenal item - e.g. list those that include StuH42).
But assuming that I managed this somehow - what are the key features I would be looking for in a briefing to consider it somewhat suitable for tournament play? I would say that it depends on a mix of 2 factors: company type mixed with the "brick"/"toolbox" attribute.

For "bricks" it is a general rule that there needs to be a focus on a spam of dual-purpose (anti-tank & anti-infantry) units that are either very tough to kill or quite the opposite - glass cannon type - able to dish out tons of damage but easy to hurt. So what I normally look for is: artillery parks, Always Attack medium/light tanks, Always Defend heavy tanks from B@R or BbB (KG Swoboda), night attacking parachute infantry, etc.
An example of a "brick" list built to survive is a B@R heavy tank company whereas a Task Force A is a fast moving and hard hitting, but also very vulnerable list based around lightly armored Tank Destroyers.

"Toolboxes" are more demanding, at least for me. And here is what I normally look for:

Infantry (including any fortified)

Has to have good anti-tank support first of all. I want at least one big AT 10+ gun unit (4+ guns), one top armour 0 tank destroyer unit or tanks if there is no option for tank destroyers and a platoon of low end infantry/anti-tank guns (perfect example is a platoon of 9 Schneider 47mm guns for my Romanians). You probably ask - why the low end guns? For me, it is the perfect answer to harassment from any pesky recon that tries to target my vital assets or go around the flanks as well as a counter to enemy guns. When attacking, they help tremendously to dig out any entrenched infantry.

Moving on, I try to look for briefings that have the option of at least C/T infantry with some AT capability. In the perfect world, these would be units that can dish out 2+ anti-tank shots while being charged and can cause AT4+ hits in close combat.

The next thing I would want my list to have is a template for harassment. It does not have to be high AT but I like at least 4+ firepower to avoid frustration when I get plenty of penetrations but only bailed out results. Overall, heavy mortars are the perfect tool for this. They make the enemy think twice before bunching up but only cost so little.

The last option I am interested in is a recon unit for those times when I have to attack. My personal preference is in order of appearance: cavalry recce, armored cars, foot units. I also try to find cheap options as most of the time I would be defending and there would be no need for any recce rules.


First thing that needs to be mentioned is that Mechanized forces for me, are divided into 2 main types and several subtypes:
- Always Attack/Always Defend Mechanized which in most cases fall under the "brick" type of list - e.g. Peredovoye Otryad or Task Force A
- Regular Mechanized with subtypes: True Armored Cars (all wheeled/tracked), Mechanized Infantry, Semi-tank.

Now for Regular Mechanized, the thing is that True Armored Cars are not a selection I would make for a tournament list. The sole reason for this is: Mobile Reserves rule. With this rule affecting my force while also defending, I normally get to deploy only two platoons on the table which pretty much means I am dead. The way around it is to build one of the two remaining sub-types.
For Mechanized Infantry, I do exactly the same selections as I would do for an Infantry company but also keep in mind that I will be attacking more often and this is why recon and templates go up the priority ladder. The perfect example of such a list is US Armored Rifles.
For Semi-tank, since there are so many different lists to choose from, there is no single recipe. If I would have to use a 1420 example, say for a Soviet Light Assault Gun Battalion, I would mini-max the SU76 units (take 2x3), get some heavy Guards tanks as the backbone (4x IS85), Zis-2 platoon, 122mm and 152mm howitzers to deal with heavy tanks, 6x 37mm AA and 5x foot recon. This way, if I am defending in a mission with Mobile Reserves, I can put everything but the SU76s down on the table and be quite confident I can hold on. I think the general rule is: in each case I would be aiming for as many platoons on the table as possible while defending. Otherwise, it would be almost a standard tank list of its type.


I think it is the most difficult one to build. If I want a toolbox type with tanks then I am most probably aiming for some heavies or briefings with big tank platoons.

When it comes to heavies, here is how I do it: I look for lists in which the basic platoons can fulfill an anti-infantry role and are able to fend off a medium tank horde. After that, I add some heavy artillery preferably (to deal with other heavies) and finally buy a recon unit. Sometimes, if I only select one artillery battery, I have the option to go for anti-tank guns. This way, while defending, I would normally have 2 gun batteries and one heavy tank unit on the table + any HQ tanks. Such setup should give me enough time for the reinforcements to arrive and save the day.

With medium tanks it is different. I look for briefings including big tank platoons and preferably a double HQ unit. German Panzers are a perfect example where you can get 2 HQ guys and 2 platoons of 5 panzers/StuGs in case you need to defend with just two platoons on the table. I aim to spend as many points as I can fit into these units to upgrade them to full strength and only go for another 2 as support. Now I have two options - go double recon or recon + artillery (preferably mobile). Such composition is a counter to what seems to be a valid tactic while in combat against a 6 platoon "toolbox" tank list: ignore the main body and wipe out reserves. What I end up with is a list like my Digital Briefing HG Stug Battery that can attack easily and also defend with two strong units on the table.

Phew, that was a long one. Hope you enjoyed it anyway. I would like to read your comments on your recipies regarding briefing selections and how do you identify the ones that are worth using. Over the few upcoming weeks I will share with you some AARs of a tournament I am attending on Sat-Sun where I will play the HG Stug Battery I built using one of the recipies listed above. Hopefully, It will not be just a big bunch of lost games in the end :)


1420 points tournament preps - opponent lists review

A quick one today. I will be attending a LW 1420 tournament in Poznan next weekend playing my HG Assault Gun Battery and figured out that it would be good to see what the opponents are fielding. So here is a summary and also some of my thoughts on the meta and how does it relate to the list I built.

With this table I can clearly say that in Poland, German tank companies are certainly experiencing a new Golden Age :) Also, a thing to note is that LLW books are the most often used ones - especially Bridge at Remagen and Devil's Charge. I think why Berlin (another LLW publication) is missing is that it features Soviets, who are not so popular in the area (I hope to tip the balance in the forseeable future) and Germans but without access to any outstanding tank lists.
I really do not fully understand the dominance of tank lists in this tournament. One might think that for this pretty slim, 1420 points format the majority of the forces would be infantry/fortified companies as only these guys can have all the toys they want anyway. When I compare my Stug list with the other alternative I was thinking about:

Romanian Puscasi (1/6 RT, 1/6 RV, 3/6 CT, 1/6 CV)
HQ: 2x Rifle + 2x Panzershreck
CP: 9x Rifle/MG
CP: 9x Rifle/MG
WP: 9x Schneider 47mm
WP: 2x 120mm mortars
SP: 6x Pak40
SP: 4x PzIV
SP: 4x KF 75mm
SP: 4x Cav Scouts

It turns out that my Assault Guns have so many elements missing (of which I am completely aware but still excited to test the StuGs) :) The infantry are the "toolbox" while the StuGs are the "brick". Fortunately, I have some sort of an answer to pretty much any list in the tournament. The ones that worry me the most are KG Benningsen Panther lists (2-3) and B@R heavy tanks (also 2-3). I can see myself struggling against these, unless I can get some stealth maneuvering (thanks to Major Sandrock and the PakPumas) done to get sideshots on the big cats.

On the other hand, I am quite happy that I should be pretty confident winning over infantry lists. But in any case, we will see how it goes.

And now, some of the more interesting lists built for this tournament:


Soviet Tankovy for newbies - hints on collecting Soviet armor and list building!

Hey, I am back with another article dedicated to players new to the game. This time, inspired by some Facebook conversations, I decided to share my thoughts around starting a Soviet Tank force.

To be honest, normally I would not recommend a newbie to start their FoW adventures playing a tank company. The reason for this is that going on the offensive (which is typical for tanks) does not let you watch and learn so much. You will have to be active most of the game and the issue I always had with a new system - I was not so sure what to do :) This means that playing a Soviet Tankovy will be burdened with a lot of harsh lessons at the beginning but if after reading this intro, someone still loves the idea of fielding the Soviet armored fist, I can at least help with some difficult choices every Tankista has to make :)

1. What is the period I should concentrate on first?

As per usual, my answer is: Late War. This period has the biggest number of books and digital briefings to choose from and is probably the most frequently played one. Unfortunately, this also means that some iconinc Early War monsters, like the T-35 or the KV-2 will not be available but at least you will be able to use the IS tank series :)

2. Which Books/Digital briefings should I use?

There are 3 books and a  digital briefing that allow the player to field Soviet tank lists in Late War. The good thing about them is that almost all of them are feasible choices but the bad thing is that a lot of them are based around completely different types of tanks. The outcome is that almost anything you choose will be playable but to switch between the lists, you will need to buy new models.

In any case, here is my personal rating of LW books, containing Soviet tank lists in terms of diversity/playability.

- Red Bear (revised) - this book has it all when it comes to LW Soviet armor
- Desperate Measures - this one does not have the heavy tank lists but has access to some decent Late Late War equipment, like the 160mm mortars
- Berlin Digital - still some good lists here
- Berlin Book - only heavy tank lists (unlike Desperate Measures)

3. Hen&Chicks or not?

This is the typical dillema of a Soviet tank commander. Hen & Chicks is a rule that makes hitting your targets more difficult when your tanks move and to make it even more annoying, if one of the tanks in the platoon moves, all have to move :(

Keeping this in mind, you can either go for companies that have majority of their platoons subject to this rule or go in the opposite direction and play either a heavy tank lists or a hero list which does not use it.

In my opinion, if you are new to the game, forget playing tanks that have the H&C rule. Start with something simple. This will also allow you to build a smaller force as these types of companies normally require a smaller number of models to work.

4. What models should I buy?

Like I mentioned before, there are quite a few feasible lists out there but the models to be used are sometimes completely different. Because of this, I will give you a hint on what you will need to play a Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy from Red Bear as well as Hero Tankovy from Desperate Measures.

Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy from Red Bear (around 1500 points)
- 7x KV 85 or IS 85 tanks (do not get IS-2, they are worthless pieces of junk, trust me)
- 5x teams of foot scouts + possibly a BA64 car
- 4x 122mm howitzers
- 4x 152mm howitzers
- 4x Zis-2 or 85mm guns or 4x 37mm anti-aircraft to fend off the bombers

Hero Tankovy from Desperate Measures (around 1500 points)
- 9x T-34/85
- 4x T-34/76
- 4x BA64
- 6x 120mm mortars
- 6x 160mm mortars

Both these lists will be solid choices in my opinion and since they are pretty straightforward to run, helpful in learning quite a few rules and will bring you closer to understanding how to run H&C lists :)

P.S. I hope to do a test of the Hero Tankovy list pretty soon. Will share the experience.


List building 101 for singles tournament games ;)

Hello Everybody,

Today I thought I would do a writeup in response to somebody else's blog post. It was actually Chris Fret's article on list building, published on WWPD. I read the article and I really liked it, but for me, it did not fit under the title "list building 101". What Chris wrote, was for me: "how I built my French infantry company".

With my twist on competitive gaming, when I considered the title: "list building 101" I understood it more like "list building 101 for singles tournaments". And it occured to me, that it is indeed a good mental challenge and fantastic material for sharing my thoughts on this subject:)

In any case, for an article called "list building 101 for singles tournament games" I decided to create a generic description that can be used for the majority of cases. Exceptions are there, but it is not my intention to cover them in this article.

So here it goes my take on "list building 101 for singles tournament games":

Hi, and welcome to another article on Sexy Sixes. Today, I wanted to share my thoughts on what are the basic topics I cover when I build lists for tournament play.

Considering new options on how to build a force normally starts with one of the following triggers: a new book comes out, a tournament that I intend to go to is announced or I was asked to write an article about a given briefing/group of briefings. But no matter which trigger is used, they all lead to one common mental process where I sit down, build a list and refine it to the point where I would use in tournament play. This process itself is the 101.
What is more, although today I focus on singles tournaments, I am sure that for team competitions, the process is roughly the same but considers some additional outside factors, like for instance: the pairings. It also leads to other processes like what models do I need to order to put my company down on the table :P But these are not the focus of this article!

As a note, all the lists I published on this blog follow these steps :)

Ok, so after these lenghty words of introdction, let me present you my receipe to build a decent competitive list :)

1. List selection vs managing pairing risks.

Before I do list building itself, I ask myself whether I want to go crazy with my guys or want to take it easy and be more reliable. When I have the answer, it always leads me to two main types of forces in Flames of War and maybe miniature wargames in general:

- "The brick", which normally means a specialized list, focused around one powerful aspect of the briefing that also has ample support to make it work and cover the weaknesses. It's highlight feature is that it is virtually unstoppable for specific types of opponents - no matter how many mistakes you make. One example could be a LW Soviet heavy tank list based on IS 85 tanks. It can deal with most infantry and medium tank opponents quite easily but is very vulnerable to enemy heavy tanks, since it cannot penetrate anything with FA 8-9+ reliably. IS 85s in the list are "The brick" and all other units, like heavy artillery, sappers, etc. work to cover the main weakness of it. Another one, would be the one I presented in the article about German Tanks.

- "The toolbox" is an army that has multiple units of low/medium strength that work well together when combined. The outstanding feature of this list type is that it has answers to virtually any type of threat. The downside is that it has no preffered enemy and you normally do not score any auto-wins. You will have to play to the best of your abilities each and every time. An example of "The toolbox" is my Romanian Infantry list, which has answers to virtually every unit in the game and can take a lot of punishment and go on at the same time.

Each of these selections is connected to what is called "risk apetite". If my "risk apetite" is high, i.e. I want to have a lot of fun but more or less gamble or make somebody cry, I go for "The brick".
If I accept the fact that wins will not be easy but I will not have any unfavourable pairings, I go for "The toolbox".

2. Build the list itself - this is what Chris described in his excellent article about French colonial infantry, and although I am sure he did all the other steps of this 101 process, he did not talk about them. This point is a topic for a separate "list building 101 for singles tournament games - continued" article. What I need to mention however, is that there is a defined template that I normally use to create my first draft so I do not really start from scratch. Once the draft is ready, I go to step 3.

3. Considering the metagame.

When I think about my list, I always do it in a context. I take my list and evaluate how well would it fare against other lists. The rivals I consider are:

- lists consider top choices for tournament play (e.g. US LW lists)
- obvious counters and how popular are they
- other popular lists (e.g. Schwere Panzers)
- other lists that I created

In the comparison, I look for obvious weaknesses that I have not covered so far and can still be addressed by shuffling some selections around. For example, I might have forgotten to equip my troops enough against dug in veteran infantry. In these cases, I go back to point 2, upgrade my force and try again. Unfortunately, sometimes I have to go as far as point 1 and start over.

Also, I take a mental note of my least favourite opponents to use it in point 4.

4. Considering scenarios.

Now, once my draft is complete and most glaring weaknesses are covered, I do the last step: take the list of possible hard counters created in point 3 and extend the context by throwing in unfavourable scenarios into the cauldron. An example could be my LW German HG Assault Gun Battery list playing an AA US Mechanized or Tank list in Counterattack or Surrounded.

With this step complete I now have three options:

- I figure out my plan on how to deal with the toughest opponents and mark the list ready for the upcoming tournament. Yay!
- I am not satisfied with the findings and go back to step 2
- I deem the risk connected with playing the list too big and have to start over in step 1

So what I really do each time is I go top to bottom - start with a generic concept and a feel to the list and start applying more and more context once the draft is complete. When this process is over, I am sure that the end product fits my needs 100% and will save me a lot of disappointments :)

But maybe somebody else has a different method to do this. I would love to see a description in the comments below! :)