The following rules have been developed to allow Flames of War players to run battles on heavily forested battlefields. I plan to use them in my Battle of Hürtgen Forest Campaign. I have compiled these from an excellent thread on the Flames of War forum and I thank all the useful contributions made by the forum members. The following article gives a brief overview of the terrain encountered whilst fighting in predominantly forested areas, the rules associated with that terrain, including artillery fire in forests, and then the rules for fighting a battle were one force acts as a defender and another as attacker. Whilst not designed with the Pacific Theatre in mind these rules may also be used to represent fighting in dense Jungles.
The image right represents a very simplified view of a heavily forested battlefield. It has a track running through the centre of the forest and a fire break running through one part of the forest. Forest Verge and Deep Forest are represented by the lighter and darker green respectively.
The following rules assume that the majority (75%+) of the battlefield is covered in forest of varying density. The remainder of the battlefield is made up of fire breaks (man made clearings to prevent the spread of fire), tracks (mud tracks used for moving through the forest), streams and small clearings.
The forest is the most important feature and is made up of two different types of wooded area – deep forest and forest verge. The verge is very dense as natural sunlight can penetrate to the forest floor allowing many species of plants to grow. The deep forest has less ground cover than the verge, but the almost impenetrable canopy allows very little light to reach the forest floor causing highly variable visibility.
The tracks and fire breaks through the forest are highly dangerous areas to be in. The will usually be heavily rutted, either muddy or covered in felled trees/fresh growth, and quite difficult to navigate. The coordinates of critical points may also be known to artillery covering the area. Streams will attract a lot of vegetation and will be also very difficult to cross.
Deep Forest The deep forest presents a challenge to all troop types. It’s variable light and varying density means that even within a small area the fighting conditions vary wildly. It is treated as Difficult Going (i.e. Bog Down on a roll of a 1) for fully tracked vehicles, who must re-roll successful Bogged Down tests to free the vehicle (to represent that getting stuck in a forest is difficult to get out of). Deep Forest is Impassable to other vehicles. Additionally, Deep forest has rules that are very similar to the Night Fighting rules (P.154). All Night Fighting rules are observed in deep forest with the Night Visibility table changed to –
|DEEP FOREST VISIBILITY|
Forest Verge The verge is treated like Forest terrain as described in the Flames of War Rulebook with the following modifications. Visibility is limited to 4″ in and out of the Forest Verge. It is also treated as Very Difficult Going (i.e. Skill Test to avoid Bogging Down) for fully tracked vehicles. As with the Deep Forest, once Bogged Down it is hard to get going again, so successful Bogged Down tests to free the vehicle must be re-rolled. Forest Verge is Impassable to other vehicles. Additionally, Infantry and Man-packed Guns treat the Forest Verge as Difficult Going. If they fail the test (on the roll of a 1), they do not become Bogged Down, but stop immediately or just before they enter the verge. This represents them being unable to find a way through the dense foliage.
Forest Tracks Tracks through a forest tend to be heavily rutted from overuse. They count as Difficult Going for fully tracked and half-tracked vehicles. It counts as Very Difficult Going for all other vehicles, but they are able to enter it if desired.
Fire Breaks Fire breaks follow the same movement rules as Forest Tracks, but also provide Concealment to Infantry and Man-packed Guns (even if they moved).
Forest Streams Forest Streams count as Very Difficult Going for full tracked vehicles and Impassable for all other vehicles. As with the Forest Verge, once Bogged Down it is hard to get going again, so successful Bogged Down tests to free the vehicle must be re-rolled. Additionally, Infantry and Man-packed Guns treat the crossing of a Forest Stream as Difficult Going. If they fail the test (on the roll of a 1), they do not become Bogged Down, but stop immediately and do not cross the river. This represents them being unable to find a safe way across.
FOREST ARTILLERY RULES
- Tree bursts, were the artillery round is timed to detonate above the ground thus causing thousands of tree splinters to shower their target, are a significant danger when fighting in forested areas. In order to represent this all unarmoured targets (including Infantry, Guns, Unarmoured Vehicles, etc.) subtract 1 from their save roll when hit by a Bombardment in either Deep Forest or Forest Verge terrain. This only applies if the target is not Dug In (P.81).
Additionally, any Observer Team spotting for an artillery platoon may do so to any enemy team within 16″, even within the forest. However, if they do not have line of sight to that enemy (either because of the variable visibility of the Deep Forest or the limited visibility of the Forest Verge) there is an additional +1 modifier to range in. This represents them speculatively calling in artillery bombardments based on the slightest movement or sound.
There are more scenario specific rules for artillery fire coming from troops defending a forest below.
DEFENDING IN A FOREST
It is assumed that defenders in a forest have had sufficient time to calculate the coordinates of crucial areas in the forest and clear a field of fire for their weapons. In order to represent Clear Field of Fire this Mortar and Gun teams may fire bombardments even if within Deep Forest or Forest Verge. However, any enemy within 8″ of them may see them clearly regardless of the Deep Forest Visibility or limited visibility in Forest Verge. However, any artillery platoon may also be deployed ‘Across the Volga’ (P.225 of the Flames Of War rulebook).
Additionally, the defending force may add up to four Pre-ranged Markers to their army list. These cost 15, 25 or 40 points for (predominantly) Conscript, Trained and Veteran forces respectively. Each pre-ranged marker must be placed on the battlefield during the defenders deployment. These markers may not be placed within Deep Forest or Forest Verge terrain. During the game a defending artillery platoon may bombard any one marker providing any platoon commander unit (from any platoon) can draw line of sight to it. No artillery platoon may use the All Guns Repeat! rule to repeat the bombardment on a marker and must Range In again in subsequent turns if they wish to hit the same marker again (provided there is still a friendly platoon commander unit with line of sight).
ATTACKING AN ENEMY IN A FOREST
Attacking a defended forest is a challenging prospect. There are no additional rules that benefit attackers explicitly, but adjusting the relative ratings of the different forces and altering the army sizes (in the attackers favour) may help offset the defender’s bonuses. Also, any attacker artillery platoon may be deployed ‘Across the Volga’ (P.225), but again to reflect the difficulty of targeting an enemy in forests they suffer an additional +1 modifier to the Ranging In roll when try to hit a target in either Deep Forest or Forest Verge terrain.