Monday, March 16, 2020

Book of War Skirmish Rules: Odd Encounters

I've had a few inquiries lately about whether there is a skirmish-level (1:1 scale) version of my OED Book of War simple miniature-wargame rules. The fortunate answer is: yes!

My game-design partner Paul Siegel wrote and tested this adjunct to Book of War, now in its 10th year of existence, called Odd Encounters. It gives a very nice stripped-down form of combat for individual figures and mid-level heroes (as you like it), d20-based attack rolls (so it's likely directly convertible with all your standard D&D play), and nicely balanced points costs and features for one-off games. I'm so appreciative that Paul wrote this and made it available for us -- and entirely released under the Open Game License. Get it for free at the link below and tell us what you think!

6 comments:

  1. Interesting to see these skirmish rules (I've just started playing Book of War and posted a few thoughts on it on my blog).

    The first thing that struck me as this: "Individual players should be able to take their turn without need to consult with the other players". The rationale is well explained, but it is the opposite of the way in which many skirmish games have been moving (Song of Blades, Battlesworn, Fistful of Lead, etc. - all of which aim to break up a player's turn as much as possible to simulate simultaneous movement and fighting).

    One quibble I have with the rules is this: grouping polearms with spears and not with two-handed weapons always, in my experience, leads to debates on what's a halberd (polearm) and what's a poleaxe (two-handed weapon: the "poll" is "poll", meaning head!). The distinction is much less clear with fantasy miniatures than with historical ones - and, more importantly, being hit with a long two-handed axe is going to hurt a lot whether it's mounted on a ten-foot shaft or a five-foot one. I think the only real solution is to allow cutting polearms like halberds and bills to function as either a spear or a two-handed weapon in a given round - and to make them more expensive accordingly.

    Anyway, I'm very much enjoying Book of War. A question I posed in my review: how do you calculate attacks when converting D&D profiles? Apologies if I've missed it in the rules, but I couldn't work out how a troll ended up with two attacks when it has three in most D&D profiles and more in OD&D (eight?). Two felt exactly right in the game, but I was curious as to how you arrived at it. Thanks!

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    1. JC, thanks for the comments and the review! I'll say that I (and Paul) have definitely driven in the direction for all our games of having players wrap up their whole turn in one go (not separate out phases). For me, pacing in any game is close to priority #1, and having things get resolved quickly like that is paramount.

      On the (number of) attacks, I'll say that comes directly from my OD&D games, which have some house-rules to the monsters, kind of between the LBBs and Greyhawk supplement. E.g.: In OD&D Vol-1, trolls have more hit dice and are said to be as strong as an ogre, yet technically they just get one 1d6 attack. In Sup-I (and thereafter) they get 3 attacks -- which is a pacing drag, thumbs-down -- yet the 2 claws only do 1d4, bite 1d8. My view: why not just batch up the two minor 1d4 attacks and say we have 2 1d8 attacks instead (or something). There's a bunch of assessments I made for attacks like that in my OD&D house rule margins (on a case-by-case basis), and you see it bleeding into BOW like that. You might say that it's the damage averaged out in many cases to the same damage unit all the time.

      You might be interested in the following post where I did some of that analysis, esp., regarding damage amounts in line with the LBB rules. The last table in that post has notes that I specifically targeted the Troll and Ghouls to reign in their number of attacks:

      https://deltasdnd.blogspot.com/2019/07/damage-scales-in-lbbs-and-supplements.html

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  2. At some point, can you provide some insight into the logic behind the pricing scheme for models by level? Thanks!

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    1. Hey, Chris -- Great question and I feel like that's my paramount theme in game design: properly pricing stuff is the hardest part of game design. (I've estimated 80% of the effort I put into any of my game stuff.)

      In short: I write a computer program that models the whole game in code and run that billions of times, tweaking prices until I get statistical reasonable/balanced outcomes. I've been tuning that for many years at this point.

      I get into the philosophy of why I do this here: https://deltasdnd.blogspot.com/2018/03/point-buy-systems-considered-harmful.html

      And I update the code for my modeling program on a regular basis here: https://github.com/danielrcollins1/BookOfWar

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  3. huh, this is exactly the kind of wargame I was looking to integrate into my dnd houserules.

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