WiF's FAQs, AARs & OOBs Posted on 8 Feb 10:59 , 2 comments

Now that we have bedded down World in Flames the Collector's edition (at least for the moment) and it has been awarded the Guinness World Record for World's largest (commercially available) boardgame I thought now might be the time to discuss actually playing the game, answering frequently (occasionally?) asked questions, retell after action replays and provide you with the optimal setup for your next game of World in Flames (shh, don't tell your opponent).

Frequently asked questions

Fortunately, as we have spent 10 years on this edition of World in Flames (of which just the first task was incorporating all 712 frequently asked questions during the 7th edition of the game) there haven't been many questions asked. Those that have are now included in our latest errata in the downloads section of our site.

The following are those that I haven't made any specific changes but could do with some clarification (with the WiFCE rules reference in brackets):

Q1 (2.1.1, AfA option 1): I note in your latest errata (31 Jan 2020) you have increased the number of hexes on the Asian map that correspond to lettered boxes on the Africa map. What happens to hexes in between?

Ans: The cities and ports on both maps (e.g. Dar Es Salaam and Majunga) are also considered in the same hex and I have expanded the correlation between the two maps to state that African map hexes 0209, 0308 & 0207 are Asian map hexes A3012, A3011 & A3010 respectively (which will go in the next errata).

If you are in other hexes on the African map and want to fly to or from the Asian map (sea areas are unchanged) then you must first fly to one of these hexes and then place the unit on the other map and continue movement.

Q2 (2.4.2): Assuming an HQ is too far away to trace a basic supply path to a primary supply source, does it have to trace a basic supply path to another HQ or secondary supply source before tracing a railway path back to a primary supply source?

Ans: No, an HQ is both a unit and a secondary supply source so may trace a railway supply path directly from itself back to a primary supply source.

Q3 (22.10): Are frogmen attacks affected by weather (14.2.3) or surprise (15.1)?

Ans: Frogmen attacks aren't affected by weather (they are frogmen factors attacking on the air-to-sea row of the Naval combat chart, not air-to-sea factors).

Frogmen attacks are affected by surprise (as if it were a port attack) but the frogman's attack still fails (and the unit destroyed) if its search roll is higher than its sea box section)


If you have other questions please write it in the comments section and either I or a WiF expert should be able to answer them.

 After Action Replays

This is where we get to trumpet and dissect your magnificent victories or shameful defeats in all their glory. Our first AAR from the boys of Bristol will start next week and if you have an interesting story to tell, please email me at ausdesigngroup@bigpond.com.


Orders of Battle

Before we can start crushing our opponents we need to have the perfect setup to do so. This is the start of a series of blogs about different major power's setups for the 1939 Global war campaign (WIFCE 24.4.7). Please note that I am far from expert so if you have any comments or better setups, please by all means set them out in the comments below.

Chinese classic set up

This week we will start with the classic set-up for China, the smallest major power but still with the ability to cause significant damage to Japan and her economy... if she survives.

First thing to note is that you have 19 armies & HQs and 1 FTR to setup. This is not a lot particularly as you have potentially a 17 hex front to cover if you want to cover the entire front line. If you do this you will be beaten and beaten badly.

You also can't afford to set up on the coast or you will be destroyed by Japanese carrier based aircraft and shore bombardment from their battleships. So you must set up in the hinterland, the question being how far in.

Note that the units depicted are the average of the units you will start with and the actual units you pick will have a bearing on where you defend. Also note that the Japanese units depicted from North to south are:

Manchurian/Korean garrison (4 corps/armies plus Terauchi)

Japanese armed forces in China (9 armies and army airforce plus Umezu)

Anywhere (ie China, "Oh Navy, we know the army has made a terrible cock-up in China, please, please, please come and save us", 1 Army plus naval airforce)

Japan (also en-route to China, unless you have decided to attack the USSR instead of concentrating on China, 3 corps/armies plus Yamamato).

The Matador's cloak


I have often employed this defence which sets up your strongest Nationalist Chinese units (except Chiang) in Chengchow, totalling 9 factors. The object of this defence is to force the Japanese player to set up the bulk of his forces against Chengchow to attack it. To do so effectively they need 8 of their 10 Chinese set-up units to surround Chengchow and take it. That leaves them with very little (until the Japanese reserves arrive) to attack anything else.

There are two disdvantages, first off they probably will take it and secondly they could kill Mao too.

The attack on Chengchow from four hexes is approximately 28 factors (assuming the Japanese start with the magnificent 16th army in China, a 62.5% chance). Against this the Japanese have 9. Thus they have a minimum 3:1 and even with the at start rubbish Japanese aircraft, will probably flip (disrupt) one defender making it 3:1 +1. That gives the japanese a 50% chance of taking the hex and 30% chance of doing so with no loss. If playing HQ support the chance of each increases by 10%.

Even if they fail, they could reorganise the flipped units and try again, most likely against only one defender (or you evacuate the survivor to A0536 in your impulse).

The second issue is even more problematic as they could take a risk, put their two best units (16th and 20th armies in the above set-up) and attack Mao across the river. It will be best case scenario 14 attacking factors (14 factors halved to 7 plus 7 air support) to Mao's 6 factors. As they only need 12 factors they could airstrike Mao with a 2 and 1 tac aircraft giving them a 28% chance of disrupting Mao and A0638 is not a hex that you want Mao to be disrupted (if the weather is bad during the turn Mao is out of supply).

Thus the Japanese best case attack is 2:1 +1. If you choose blitzkrieg Mao will be destroyed 50% of the time, if you choose assault it becomes 70% of the time. Not good odds no matter how you cut it and you don't want to lose Mao on turn 1 nor the vital hex he's occupying.

 The Ultra defensive defence


If you want to ensure early survival and make the Japanese advance as difficult as possible, you could try this ultra defensive defence. It starts with every front line unit in a mountain apart from the two armies in the forest at A0632 (partially protected by the Pearl river).

The best attack the Japanese can do on the first impulse is on the 13 reserve Gar and 17th army in A0534. they total 12 factors. The best the attackers can get is 24:12, or 2:1. Again they might be able to disrupt a defender so they might get 2:1+1. This gives them a 40% chance of taking the hex, 30% of destroying both defenders and only a 20% chance of doing so without disrupting at least half the attackers (0% chance of no disruption).

You could swap this stack of 6 with a stack of 7 further north (where only 1 hex can be attacked not across a river) making it harder, but you want them to attack A0534 because even if they are successful they still aren't adjacent to Kweiyang or Chungking (attacking either of the two hexes north puts them next to your capital). If they do advance most of their units are disrupted as mountains cost 4 for infantry class unit to enter and the Japanese have hardly any of those.

The disadvantage of this defence is that it gives the Japanese complete liberty to push past the mountain range west of Peking right up to the front line near Lanchow without any hindrance. The resource at Sian becomes Japanese on the first turn and they can get the resource at A0438 to a factory as there is no Chinese zone of control at A0539 to stop it. These resources give Japanese production quite a boost in the early game.

The Chinese weave defence


The Chinese weave defence is, I think, a happy medium. The basic problem with all Chinese set-ups is the Northern front. As Lanchow and Sian are the only communist supply sources, it's the communists who should naturally set up there but there just aren't enough Communists to fill the space. From Sian to the Mongolian border is 5 hexes and they have 4 units at setup, something has to give.

This defence abandons Chengchow to its fate, beefs up Sian and interweaves Nationalists into the northern defence with Chiang providing the supply back to Chengtu even during rain and storm.

The front line in the north is actually a bit weaker but this is deceptive. The Canton militia is in a mountain behind the Yellow river which means best case scenario the Japanese can only get 17 modified factors against the defenders modified 8, and if the Japanese use all their aircraft in ground support they will still only get the odds up to 3:1. This on the assault table completely fails 30% of the time, and only succeeds with partial disruption 20% of the time. Again if they succeed, the mountains will disrupt whatever attackers remain. 

Their most likely attack is going to be onto the 2 armies at A0536. They can do so from 3 hexes but all across a river. Using all 6 corps/armies they will do no better than 17:7 which means they need to use 4 factors of tac air to get to 3:1 which leaves them little left over for ground strike (what your fighter is there to prevent).

Assuming they are above average successful on ground strike they will disrupt one defender which gives them 3:1+1. On the assault table their chances of taking the hex are 50%, and complete triumph (no losses, no disruption) only 10%. Even then you have only lost 2 build points as each unit only cost you 2 bp and as they died in supply you get 1 bp back for each of them.

If they do take the hex, Chiang moves south and the Kunming militia moves north to join him while the Peking militia shuffles north to beef up the 1st Cav corps in A0535.

You could swap the 3-1 garrison army with the 4-1 garrison further south at A0632 to increase the factors at A0536 to 8, but that might make A0632 too tempting a target and you want as many Japanese units as possible set up in the North Temperate zone as the weather here is getting worse over winter, whereas the weather in the North Monsoon zone is fining up.

The last thing to mention is that A0638 is a key hex to hold as losing it cuts your communication between Sian and Lanchow. That is why your best nationalist unit, your 1st army is guarding it. Again the best that the Japanese can do is 2:1 even with ground support, you can afford to choose assault (which you can't if Mao were there as in the Matador's cloak defence above) and if they roll badly, you can occupy A0538 pushing the Japanese off the mountain chain altogether. This should be sufficient deterrence for everyone apart from a kamikaze opponent.


Of course after the first impulse, you can expect Yamamato and his lads to storm ashore at Hainan and Canton with A0632 as their immediate target. That is why the strongest Nationalist stack is stationed there. However that is not saying much and your factors can expect to face at least 20 modified Japanese factors plus air support. Being in a forest halves this so you should expect to be attacked here at 2:1 or 3:1.

If the Japanese are successful you will need to abandon A0533 and A0534 and fall back to Kweiyang and A0634 respectively. However bad weather here is even more likely in Sep/Oct (60%) than in the Northern Temperate (40%) so at most you should only expect 1 or two good impulses for the Japanese to attack you in the Northern monsoon in Sep/Oct.


No matter what defence you choose, the aim is not to stop the Japanese it is simply to slow them down until the winter moves all the action down south (where you are putting your winter reinforcements), and ultimately to stop them in 1941 when they turn their attention to the US navy in the Pacific.

Also whatever defence you choose, ensure the Lanchow (if you get it) and Chungking militia are in the front line where you expect the Japanese attack. They are your strongest militia, only cost 1 build point each if they are destroyed in supply, and can be built back next turn on your vital (now) frontline cities. Basically your first few turns you will want to build the cheapest units you can (Mil, Garr and Cav) to stabilise your front line before the Japanese overwhelm you, and they should be the units you choose to lose when combat goes against you.


Next week we will look at the Polish defence and see what we can do there to slow down the German juggernaut.

Until then, good luck and good gaming.


Harry Rowland