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"What broke FOW 4.0?" Topic

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Col Piron10 Nov 2019 7:11 a.m. PST

Have no fear though as a morale check suggests that Version 5 will be released in 2021 !

Is that when BF will reinvent Early War ? grin

Asteroid X07 Dec 2019 2:01 p.m. PST

Is that when BF will reinvent Early War ? grin

Maybe a WW1 game.

pfmodel04 Mar 2020 2:31 a.m. PST

My understanding is the command control rules were changed and the game began to resemble a game of gridiron. Look under "Staying in Command". In V4 elements must remain within 20cm or 15cm of its unit leader only. V3 is the same, but also allows for chains of command back to the platoon command team. Thus, in V4 your platoon can not exceed a line 40 cm long, assuming the commander is in the centre. Optimally 20 cm is the safest frontage, which means your 3-4 tank elements occupy 16cm, out of a frontage of 20cm. For 15mm this look odd, although in 6mm there is nothing wrong with this. In V3 its possible to have a much longer front line, at least double that frontage without much risk. The change was a good idea and I know why they implemented it, but the full effect was not really fully realised.
The other issue is when rules move to a new version there needs to be a reason to move to that version of rules. I am unaware of any reason why you should move to V4, which means the players become fragmented. V3 can only go in one direction, down, and V4 gets almost no traction so no new players come on board. It's a good way to kill a set of rules.
The same thing happened when DBM moved to DBMM, although in that space we are not dealing with new players so much and its not so noticeable.
I must admit even I was surprised at the impact, but as I rarely play with these rules it was not a major issue for me. But a tragedy for players who invested a lot of money.

mdauben22 Sep 2021 7:07 a.m. PST

Its a few years on now, but looking back I have some opinions.

IMO the #1 problem was, Battlefront totally botched the roll out of the new rules. When it was first announced, there was some cautious optimism for the new version. Then Battlefront started releasing early information on the new rules though podcasts, featuring people who didn't really know the new rules. This resulted in confusion and misunderstanding about what was changing and why. The official forum went up in flames, and instead directly addressing the problem, they just started deleting threads. There was also a widely held opinion that the publisher didn't care about their old players (which BF never successfully denied), who had already invested hundreds or in some cases thousands of dollars in the game, and were ignoring them in favor of courting new players.

Then when the v4 releases finally started, the first two army books were very disappointing. As others have said, they were much less complete than the v3 books they were replacing with much more limited options for the players. They eventually addressed this to some extent by releasing "command cards" which gave the player more options and additional units and lists, but it added new complaints about why this information wasn't in the books in the first play. They eventually completely replaced the original mid-war British book with a larger, more complete book, but for the Germans they introduced two more MW books for the Eastern Front, and created a confusing system where players could mix and match lists and units from book to book. This is where the "panthers in the desert" nonsense started.

Now, after several years, the initial furor has died down, and there is much less anger about each new release. Part of this is unfortunately, the game lost a lot of its player base in the initial dumpster fire. New players have slowly come to the game, but I'm not sure if they ever off set the player base that was lost.

Achtung Minen22 Sep 2021 9:26 a.m. PST

The funny thing is, the company name, Battlefront, came from a set of WW2 rules by Rich Hasenauer, which featured data cards for each type of stand/unit (and a picture of the appropriate Battlefront miniature). So they've gone and re-invented the wheel.

I've heard the original name for Battlefront (the NZ-based company that produces FOW) was "Crusader" (no connection to Crusader Miniatures, a UK-based company making 28mm figures) but I never heard why they changed the name. Surely it couldn't be because of Rich Hasenauer's game? What did the New Zealand 15mm miniatures company have to do with Hasenauer?

I seem to remember that the FOW rules were written by Phil Yates, who designed a relatively popular set of free homebrewed WW2 rules back in the late 90s based on Warhammer 40k 3rd Edition, called something like Warhammer Panzer Battles, and that FOW supposedly drew on those homebrewed rules.

I remember FOW when it first came out. I've always liked their models, at least as long as they kept the legendary Evan Allen on staff… when he left shortly before they began with plastics, I completely lost interest in FOW minis and never looked back. That said, I always stayed well clear of their rules based on the uproar they caused here on TMP.

pfmodel22 Sep 2021 3:06 p.m. PST

I am certainly not an expert, but I spoke to one of the designer/play testers and asked him this question. He indicated Battlefront gave them a specific charter to get new gamers and that was the only real objective. The old FOW3 hit saturation point and people were not purchasing any new figures. It did not decline, it was just not growing. The company model was based on growth, not sustainment.
FOW4 did get the required new players, so it did hit its objectives, but the existing base, which was not buying anything anymore anyway, was not happy with the new rules. Its also possible theses gamers were going to move on anyway and just wanted an excuse. But its also possible that the changes in FOW4 were not what the old gamers were interested in, and they decided to bail at that point.
As for the specific game mechanics which causes issues among the established gamers, the main one seemed to be the command radius which resulted in a game which did not resemble history very much, or at least less than FOW3.
While linking rules with the figures is a good business model in the expansion phase, its not such a great long term strategy. GHQ and H&R were certainly not as successful at Battlefront, but the business model they have is a sustainment model. They need to add figures to the range, but they depend on rules produced by other people, of which there are many, to get folks to buy figures. Yes I know GHQ has a set of rules, but they are free and not commonly used and are not part of their business model.
In the end if you want to understand why, always look for the money trail or, its always to do with economics.

TSD10110 Oct 2021 12:43 p.m. PST

My complete lack to desire to buy the same books and lists AGAIN just so they can play with the points cost and sell me material I already own broke it for me.

Pete the Chimp14 Oct 2021 11:18 a.m. PST

I seem to remember that the FOW rules were written by Phil Yates, who designed a relatively popular set of free homebrewed WW2 rules back in the late 90s based on Warhammer 40k 3rd Edition, called something like Warhammer Panzer Battles, and that FOW supposedly drew on those homebrewed rules.

Yep, I still have them as word docs, copyright Phil Yates 2000. He was set in his ways about OpFire back then:

"One of the most asked questions is "why doesn't Warhammer Panzer Battles allow me to use opportunity fire?" The first reason is simple; to add such a mechanism would complicate the elegance of the Warhammer 40,000 system. Perhaps more important however, is the fact that the rules work better without it."

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