Sunday, January 24, 2016

Revisiting Rules Requirements

Last week Rob and I finally managed to coordinate a chat about our fantasy massed battle project aimed at a convention game later this year (if all goes well). We appear to be in sync about the goal and about not being particularly happy about how the current rules draft fits the aim.

Dragon's Eye view of a test setup. The Midlish infantry hold a gap against a much larger Turanian army. 

The basic requirements are that:
- each 60mm wide base  is a "unit" and that there must be no firm connection between the number of figures and what it is,
- it has to also accomodate individual characters (heroes, magicians etc) in addition to characters which are part of a base,
- it has to be quick to learn (as in minutes) and quick to play esp in a multi-player convention setting,
- record keeping and tracking things like whether or not a unit moved has to be minimal due to the convention setting,
- as far as possible mechanisms should be ones that were in use by wargamers by the 1970's.

While I was pondering old school techniques and trying not to copy newer rule systems it occurred to me that I have to think more about fantasy novel battle descriptions from books available during the 70's and less about historical research. Oh! Not one of my strong points really, some refresher reading needed probably, and of course it would be best to pick just one reference but that's not an option either.  I need to be more universal in approach.

We started off with a Morchauser base because of the stand=unit concept but I am now leaning heavily towards Featherstonian saving throws and some sort of combat result beyond  "dead or not dead", possibly a push back or morale throw for a group of units. I also want to tame missile fire a bit though saving throws might help there.  I'd also like to incorporate Featherstone's roll for 1st move system but I've come to realize that that really benefits from mutual shooting and melee phases.

Then there is the whole monsters and magic aspect and trying to keep the agreed upon bits of that. Work, work, work...........
And here comes the cavalry!

So no battle report or decisions, just having fun trying to sort an ongoing muddle.


  1. One of the reasons I don't get into ancient warfare is the rules out there. I don't want to reinvent the wheel by designing my own set. HOTT's might work for what you want and there is a better chance someone at a convention might know the rules already.

    1. Thanks, yes HOTT is well known and Dragon Rampant etc new and trendy but the whole point of this ecercies is to challenge ourselves by trying to write within tight parameters. The convention game is merely the pay off for success with no penalty but disappointment for failure.

  2. Hi Ross,

    I would recommend that you check out any of Karl Edward Wagner's "Kane" series of stories for some excellent descriptions of battle in a fantasy setting. Good stuff.


    1. Wagner, OK, Heard of him, don"t think I've read any but looks like his early works just fit. I need to reread a few bits from Edison as well.
      Thanks for the tip.

  3. Your first four requirements are met by a set of rules called "Hordes of the Things". It's not old school, but it is by WRG which is old school. And I believe I have a PDF of the previous edition on my other computer, I could send you a copy if you wish.

    1. Thanks Stu, quite familiar with HOTT and have played a number of games (and did also download the pdf a few years ago, might still be ...somewhere on a backup..) but Rob's idea/personal challenge (I volunteered) was a Fantasy Massed Battle game using ONLY VINTAGE 25mm minis available during the 70's or earlier and a set of rules that could have been written during the 70's so using HoTT or the new Dragon Rampant etc would be "cheating". But its one of several fallback options, meanwhile its about the journey, not the destination.