Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sunday Night Book of War

This was a game played the evening of Jan-24. One thing you may notice is that the terrain is different than in prior games; fairly late in the design process I determined that I should double the size of the terrain tiles in use, and halve the number of rolls made for terrain setup. While this keeps the overall expected terrain area the same, it has the following advantages: (1) Speeds setup time by reducing rolls & placements for each player (especially on larger tables, where we reduce rolls from 12 per side to a more reasonable 6); (2) matches commonly used terrain pieces from other games; (3) allows use of aesthetically pleasing in-scale terrain graphics; and (4) matches area of the "stream" pieces that we otherwise use. Lots of compelling reasons for that.

Start -- For setup here, we've rolled a fairly small number of terrain elements (average on this table would be 3 tiles), so the board is mostly open, with one area of woods, and one large hill (both placed by me, for the blue team). Game is played at 200 points. Red army at top has heavy infantry, horse archers, and longbows. Blue army at bottom has all pikes and longbows.

Turn 2 -- BOW action can happen really fast. On the very first move, the red horse archers rode all the way across the table, up the hill, firing at my forces (full move & fire being something only horse archers can do). On that first turn my larger pike unit was immediately routed, while I drove off the enemy longbows on the far right. On turn two, the horse archers destroyed my middle longbows, but I replied with a lucky round of fire on the horse archers, who are about to rout back north off the table ("snake eyes" morale roll visible for the horse archers).

Turn 4 -- Now things get tricky. Red has nothing but heavy infantry left, who are extremely slow, but nigh-impossible to hit (move 6" per turn; hit only on a "6" die roll). Blue has pike & longbows who are both fast but fragile (move 12"; hit on a roll of 4+). In fact, my longbows can only hope to hit the heavy infantry at short range (within 10.5"), so any shooting will put them in a dangerous proximity. The rest of the game is a series of tense feints and maneuvering for position; here, red infantry groups behind the crest of the hill, seeking cover from missile fire.

Turn 6 -- Red infantry has made a move toward my longbows, who dutifully about-face to avoid contact. My pikes, seeing an opportunity, make an aggressive charge up the hill at the rear of the heavy infantry -- they'll lose their special pike defensive bonus on the hill, but have a chance to strike against the rear on a 5 or 6. Note my roll is all 3's, and thus fails.

Turn 8 -- On close combat, my pikes do manage to kill one figure (i.e., 10 men) and rout the smallest of red's units. However, they are hit by the second unit of heavy infantry and routed, while the largest unit wheels around for further support. My pikes are hereafter run off the board.

Turn 12 -- Several more turns of maneuvering, as red infantry again regroup to the west of the hill, allowing my longbows to take the summit. Here the red infantry is at last surging up the hill, taking hits from concentrated longbow fire.

Turn 14 -- In a classic "I shot the sheriff" action, my longbows manage to drive off 2 of the heavy infantry units, but not the 3rd and final one. Here close combat has reached my longbows, and I get to enjoy my own worst-possible roll on the morale check.

Turn 17 -- After fleeing, my longbows manage to regain morale near the far edge of the table (and so does the unit of a single red infantry), so they wheel around for one final shot to win. Unfortunately, these are again all misses against the heavy armor of the red forces, who charge through the fusillade and finish off my men. Another skin-of-the-teeth victory for red!


  1. Could I get a short summary of what you hope to accomplish with the Book of War?

  2. Hey Alexander -- Here's a pretty good concise executive summary, from the draft Foreword:

    "Three principal goals have been pursued: (1) To cultivate a game which can stand on its own as fun, entertaining, and elegant. (2) To create a system that faithfully extrapolates standard D&D combat results on a mass scale. (3) To realistically simulate actual historical medieval warfare, as much as possible."