Monday, September 26, 2011

Book of War Released!

Today I'm releasing my mass-combat miniatures rules, compatible with original D&D and similar systems, for public consumption. Hopefully you'll find it to be fast, simple, fun, and compatible with what you'd expect from a D&D-based wargame. You can get it right now on Lulu. In celebration, I've also started a new website called OED Games.

I've been working on a system like this for over 10+ years or something like that. (Maybe more, if you count all the way back to the 80's and me being frustrated with how existing systems played out.) The primary goal has been to create something that's statistically consistent with what would happen if D&D were played out with hundreds of men per side, while still making it elegant to play, and keeping an eye to history whenever possible. That said, I wanted it to be immediately accessible to brand-new players, without any wargaming or D&D experience required, and from what I've seen, it seems to fit the bill. And, I've tried to keep it as short and concise as humanly possible -- 24 pages (about 2 pages per year; cost to you: $1/year softcover).

Nothing in this world is perfect. But as I've ramped up the refinements and playtests in the last year or so, I've noticed that the edits at each step have been constantly shrinking in size. (In this form of the book I've gone through "zero" versions from letter A to M.) I was proofreading yet another version on the bus a few weeks ago, got to the end, and realized that there wasn't anything else I could detect that needed changing. As my best-girl Isabelle texted back to me that day: "Good! Now set it free! Release the Kraken!!"

I can imagine someone seeing the core of the rules (which I'll present here on Wednesday), and thinking that they're so incredibly simple, they could have come up with the same thing in a few short minutes; and that may be the case (part of a response might be: 80% of the effort has gone into cost-balancing the different units). But, I plan to keep discussing the game and presenting design notes, justifications, and expansions here on the blog in the coming months. My greatest wish is that together we can find some ways to make improvements and that there'll be a "Version 2" at some point in the future.

If you get Book of War, I truly hope that you enjoy playing it. And in any event, I always appreciate your reading and commenting here (and elsewhere!), as that's the fuel that got me to finally finish this project. Appreciatively,

- Daniel R. "Delta" Collins

19 comments:

  1. The "right now on Lulu" link in the body of the post, leads to a jpeg. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. before this new book, when you play ODnD did you like using the chainmail combat or the alternative one I think is in men and magic?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Congratulations, sir! Always awesome to see one's labor bear fruit.

    I for one can heartily recommend this product!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just bought & d/l'd the pdf. Looking fwd to reading it

    ReplyDelete
  5. What Lulu won't ship physical copies to the UK... bahhhhhhhhh

    ReplyDelete
  6. My mistake it will SHIP to the UK

    Hooray!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bought and downloaded. Looks great!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Congratulations! That is quite an accomplishment. I've been following your posts on this for a while and this sounds like exactly what I've been looking for.

    But...

    scanning the preview on Lulu, I see that you are going with 25x50mm bases for cavalry and 20x20 for infantry. How critical is that to game play? Am I as good as long my minis are consistent, even if I use say 25x25 for infantry and 40x40 for cavalry or -- Gygax forgive me -- round WotC style bases? For example, is there a lot of worrying about which mini is in 'contact' with another like Warhammer?

    2nd ed. would ideally have some guidelines for using WRG style stands too (strips of minis on 60mm wide bases etc.) in order to accommodate war gamers.

    ReplyDelete
  9. James said: "The 'right now on Lulu' link in the body of the post, leads to a jpeg. :)"

    God-dang it, I just knew I was going to do that when I left for that day. Thanks for the heads-up, it's fixed now!

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Louis Clark said: "before this new book, when you play ODnD did you like using the chainmail combat or the alternative one I think is in men and magic?"

    I've always played D&D with the "alternative" system (i.e., d20-based, starting with Men & Magic). The fact that those probability distributions are so different from Chainmail mass combat is a large part of why I felt a need for Book of War.

    ReplyDelete
  11. OpenID mikemonaco: "I see that you are going with 25x50mm bases for cavalry and 20x20 for infantry. How critical is that to game play? Am I as good as long my minis are consistent, even if I use say 25x25 for infantry and 40x40 for cavalry or -- Gygax forgive me -- round WotC style bases? For example, is there a lot of worrying about which mini is in 'contact' with another like Warhammer?"

    Good questions. In general, you should be fine if your bases are consistent like that. Cost-balancing has been done assuming certain base sizes (acknowledging more attacks packed into less space is beneficial, etc.), but if everything's basically scaled up together, then it should all even out. The intention is definitely to use whatever miniatures you've already got that are "around" RPG 25-28mm scale.

    Now, for mass figures, I do like to have them on square bases, so that they stack together nicely. Like, I've taken a big batch of D&D plastic miniature orcs, cut off the round bases, and glued on square ones. For really big masses I do stick them on makeshift cardboard trays to make things a bit easier -- or sometimes just push them around with a ruler.

    You do get one attack per figure in contact with the enemy; you adjudicate that as best you can. (There's no Warhammer "diagonal attack" rule, for example.)

    For special hero units, it doesn't make any difference at all. The wizards, dragons, and giant units I use are all D&D-branded with round bases and they work perfectly fine within the existing rules.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Congratulations! This game is awesome!!! And play-testing has been a joy for many a Friday night!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I just purchased, played the first match within an hour, and am really happy with how the game plays! Congrats!

    Two quick questions for you:
    1) Can melee units attack the same round they move? For example, if I move a unit of infantry into "contact," during that turn's attack phase do they and their enemy both get an attack?
    1B) Does this mean pikemen get two attacks in that first contact round (one during the move phase immediately upon contact, the second during the attack phase)?
    2) The rules state that woods block archery fire. Are archers intended to be able to fire at figures just inside the treeline? I was thinking perhaps fire within 1" of the treeline would be at, say, -1 (just like castle walls) and beyond that it is impossible. Just wondering how you've played it.

    Thanks for publishing!

    Cheers,
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
  14. One last question:

    Who chooses where hits are assigned? Can the attacker choose to have all hits go against one enemy figure (say, piling two hits onto a horse figure to eliminate it) or may the defender choose to spread the hits out (for example, spreading those two hits across two horse figures so that none are lost)?

    Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Vedron -- Super-glad you're enjoying the game! Here's some answers to your questions (Re: A post that may have been deleted?)...

    (1) Melee units do move & attack on the same turn. Per the sequence on p. 6, Player A moves, then attacks, then checks morale in distinct phases. Player B then does their own moves, attacks, and morale. (It's good to be aggressive moving and get that first attack/morale check.)

    (1B) Pikes get an "extra" attack only defensively, as the opponent moves into contact. A common sequence is this -- Player A: Move pikes 1" away from enemy swords, pikes get normal attack. Player B: Move swords unit into full contact (pikes get special defensive attack), then swords attack. Player A: Pikes stay motionless, get normal attack.

    (2) For simplicity, I play that cover by woods is just binary. You're either in or out, and if "in", then missile fire is impossible in either direction.

    Now, I think a very reasonable optional rule would be to allow one rank of archers to lurk on the edge, get a cover bonus, and still fire out for free. (I almost included that, but snipped it for conciseness.) For other types the situation is academic anyway -- usually one player is careful to bring melee-units near the edge and announce "I'm still in the woods", so that missile fire is impossible against them.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Answering questions in Vedron's post visible above...

    As soon as any 2HD unit takes 2 hits, then one figure is removed; there's no choice on either side about that. (At this point, 10 of the effective 2HD characters have been slain, so we have to indicate that by removing a figure.)

    If you look at the Core Rules on p. 5, it says, "Monsters with multiple Hit Dice... take that number of hits before having a figure eliminated (track partial damage with a spare die)." This is meant in the context of a whole unit (e.g., a single damage-die track per unit). So, no choice about when a figure is removed. Hope that makes sense!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Delta,

    Thanks for the quick answers! All makes sense, except for some cleanup on the last query.

    Say we have a scenario with one unit attacking two figures of horsemen (2HD each). The attackers land two hits. Does that eliminate one of the two figures of horsemen, or does each figure of horse just take one hit?

    Thanks -- looking forward to the next game.

    Cheers,
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
  18. Cool, glad that's making sense. :-) In your example, you'd definitely eliminate one of the two figures of horsemen.

    ReplyDelete