Monday, April 6, 2020

Book of War 2nd Edition Draft Rules

Saturday night Isabelle & I streamed our first episode of wargaming from our house with the Book of War 2nd Edition rules, via the Wandering DMs channel. It was really a blast! I was so jazzed afterward that I almost watched the whole thing over again twice. :-) It's pretty neat to get to share what our normal back-and-forth chemistry is with other people.

Peter Conrad had the bright idea on YouTube to post the brief Player Aid Card that we were using in this episode, so here it is below. This is pretty tentative (I guess it always feels that way), and I was still tweaking and balancing prices in the afternoon running up to our playtest. Part of the goal for the 2nd Edition is to massage some rules in ways that make the basic game play a bit truer to historical reality, as we understand it. What I've been finding is that this accidentally makes some rules actually simpler. Of course, the core of the system meshes directly with classic D&D as it always did, and you can pretty much immediately convert stock D&D monsters into a Book of War game as we always have (pricing, of course, being the hard part... more CPU cycles to come on that).


  1. Very cool. Transitioning between character-scale and army-scale is something that's never felt smooth to me in the past, but I'll keep your BOW in mind for the next time I have that come up.

    What would you say are the main highlights of changes for the 2nd Edition? I know you mentioned the minimum unit size on the stream, which sounds good.

    1. Good questions. Some of the things that have gotten edited to how we play over the years:
      - Routed units are now just removed in the basic rule (instead of keeping them on the table and tracking flight movement as we used to do).
      - Move weather from optional to basic rules, because it's key to how things are price-balanced.
      - Morale target switched from 10 to 9 (better match for D&D reaction table, said to be used for morale)
      - Give footmen with shields a bonus vs. missiles and pikes (better historical simulation of matchups)
      - Give a much more elegant rule for pike attacks (just always 2 attacks, and double damage on defensive hit).
      - Horse archers go from 2 health (like other horses) to just 1 to better reflect historical use and cost (don't use them in shock combat).

      I guess that's the stuff on my mind so far, as I've mostly been focused on making the real-life historical units work right. It became important to have a rock-paper-scissors between cavalry-pikes-footmen that was lacking in 1E and always gnawed at me. (Partly due to classic D&D undervaluing the shield, but there's language in AD&D DMG for extra bonus vs. missiles which I think gives me canon cover.)

  2. Wait ... there's a second edition of BoW? Very nice!

  3. Thanks Delta! For my part, I think the 50 points minimum per unit is a little constraining for our 200-300 point games and will probably lower it to 30 or so.

    1. That makes sense. We almost always play at 300 points. I think I was aiming for the "seven plus or minus two" cognitive rule as a nice number of units on the board. 300/50 = 6, but in practice we can usually only form 5 units.

      If anything I was expected to get criticisms that people expected to play with larger point values, like 500. That would generate maybe 8-9 units? And I assume anything over that would be super burdensome. Also, like with up to heavy cavalry I really wanted 3-figure units minimum to make the threat of losing morale significant.