Saturday, 28 January 2012

Designing a world

One world designed...

Printed on A4 sheets it comes out as 4 sheets by 2. To be mounted in a clip frame with magnetized backing for use with magnetized pieces so that it can be used as the campaign map and hung on the wall when not needed.

The different terrain types provide different types and amounts of resources. I've started tinkering with ideas for the campaign rules. More on those when I've finished and tested them.


Hexographer is a handy tool for anyone creating a fantasy world. Random maps, lots of terrain types and handy editing tools. I love the internet.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Not much to report.

I've been rather poorly with an inner ear infection that hasn't been responding to treatment, so I haven't made much progress over the last week.

I have received a lot of boxes of 1/72 scale plastic figures - Orcs, Undead, Adventurers, Saracens, English Civil War Royalist Infantry, Aztecs, Hussites and Armed Peasants - which are slowly being painted up between dizzy spells!

I've also finalized the rules modifications after my first play test:

Seven Command Cards have been amended to allow the non-player army to deploy off-table troops in addition to the cards' normal function.

If the non-player army draws a Command Card which means that no units can be ordered this turn, the card is discarded immediately and another one is drawn. This may seem like an obvious rule, but as many of the Command Cards allow the non-player army to perform additional actions I thought it unnecessary for play balance.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

First Battle - Analysis.

For my perspective, that was too easy.

I did make a plan and execute it perfectly - I had the Command Cards to do it.

The Dwarf army had a couple of turns when it couldn't move any forces. I'm not sure if that would have made any difference. The Dwarf forces probably needed a Defence posture at the beginning, dug in and waited for my attack.

There are a number of Command Cards in the deck that allow the non-player army to order units and then play another card. The Dwarf army didn't draw any of these. I think that I will have to increase the number of these cards.

The main problem for the Dwarves was that they had three units off-table - the scouts that returned late plus the two reserve units. They didn't draw a Deployment card so these forces never appeared. I need to work out if this was a fluke, or whether I need to change the card distribution.

Nonetheless, I really enjoyed that!

First Battle Report - Is that a fat lady I hear in the distance?

And the first big name goes down!

The Dwarf Runemaster - no longer with a unit since it was massacred last turn - can't survive one point of damage on his own. That's the first character to be lost.

The Dwarf Commander's unit falls around him - he surely can't hold on much longer.

He's surrounded by four of my units. The unit he's leading is destroyed, leaving him on his own.

That Commander's gone mental! He's hacking the Goblins to bits!

Finally, the Dwarf Commander has some Lore cards he can use - Bezerk and Strength, and hacks one Goblin unit plus the accompanying drummer to bits. A little pride salvaged there! It's still 37 to 9 in Victory Points though.

The weather god around here must be a Dwarf supporter, as fog settles on the land again. 3 units of Goblin cavalry hit a unit of Dwarf Spearmen from behind, shattering it completely. And with that, what little remains of the Dwarf army skulks away from the field under cover of fog. What a hammering!

Final score, a Goblin Victory 42.5 points to 9.

First Battle Report - Crunch Time

And I do believe the Goblins have finally sprung their trap! The Dwarf flanks are under considerable pressure. Those 'lil bearded tough guys are falling by the dozen!

I had an Envelope Command Card and ordered two units on each flank. Those pesky Dwarf Crossbowmen were hit by four cavalry units, were pushed out of the walled field they were hiding in and took a couple of points of damage. On the other flank, the Giant Spider kicked the doo-doo out of the Cattle Riders, who are also now stuck to the spot with spider web.

Those Cattle Riders are spider food!

Next turn, and the Giant Spider finishes off the Cattle Riders. Dwarves shouldn't have cavalry anyway. They don't now!  First VPs go to me. On the other flank the Dwarf Crossbowmen hold on, pushing back a Goblin Ostrich Rider unit which now has 3 points of damage. I'll need to withdraw it ASAP.

It's not just dark - a thick fog has descended onto the battlefield. I can't see a doggone thing out there!

The event card triggered a change in the weather. Visibility is now 1 hex, even for creatures with night vision. No ranged combat now, not that it will matter much the way things are.

The Dwarf Crossbowmen are making their mothers proud! But a minor catastrophe for the Dwarf army as their baggage is chewed up by the Giant Spider.

Those [expletive deleted] crossbowmen won't die. On the other hand, more victory points for taking out the Dwarf baggage.

Did you think those Dwarves would roll over and die? No siree they won't! The Dwarf commander urges his troops forward. And those Crossbowmen, not just holding their own but kicking some Goblin butt.

Since charging those crossbowmen I've rolled a 1 or 2 for every combat involving them. One unit of Ostrich Riders bites the dust - the first VPs for the Dwarves. The Dwarf command card is Follow Me, and all the Dwarf units within 2 hexes of the commander move onward. A unit of Dwarf Spearmen hit the Wolf Riders and do some damage.

That fog can't like it round here - it's gone already. The Goblins must see that as an omen - their centre line, stationary until now, screeches defiance and crashes into the advancing Dwarves.

The event card changed the weather back to clear again. I had an Onslaught Command Card - order foot troop units with a +1 combat bonus this turn. I'm still taking a risk - those Dwarf units are quite hard - but what the heck.

Those Crossbowmen have finally fallen to the cavalry. They may be vertically challenged, but they have more valour than thee and me put together! Songs will be written about this, their final day.

About time too.

The Dwarf centre has crumbled under the assault! The Commander fights valiantly on, but around him Dwarves fall left and right. It's slaughter.

The only combat I lost was against the unit led by Dwarf Commander. Two other Dwarf units were killed outright. I rolled 8s on the combat dice! That leaves me 25-3 up in VPs.

First Battle Report - Early Turns

It's a miserable, overcast day on the Catarrh Plains with just a hint of mist shrouding the battlefield. The Goblins, keen as ever for some bloodshed, start their advance with the Ostrich Riders on the left wing. And those careless Wolf Ride scouts that went missing on the eve of battle show up just in time to join the fun.

As I won scouting I get the first turn. The event card came up as Blood Lust - any destroyed units count for double Victory Points this turn. Unlikely to have any effect this early in the game. I used a Deployment Command Card to place a my late -returning scouts on the board. The Deployment card allows another Command Card to be played. I advanced my left flank cavalry. I plan to hold my centre units back as I'm not convinced that they can take on the Dwarves and win. Skirmish on the flanks, let the Dwarves come to me and hold the Giant Spider and Wolf Riders in reserve to counter attack.

The Dwarves plod straight down the middle of the field. The Dwarf Crossbowmen on the left flank open up on the Ostrich Riders and draw first blood!

Combat roll was a 1. With the Dwarves' 1 point superiority in tactical factors, this results in a point of damage to the Goblin unit, and it makes an evade move away from the shooters. Gosh darn it.

What is the Goblin Commander doing? He seems to be more interested in picking his nose than commanding an army!

The event card was Distracted. My army does not have a leader this turn. Not a disaster - it might be if the commander was in the thick of things though.

The Goblins continue their cavalry advance on the left flank. The Dwarf Cattle Riders move up alongside the infantry line, while the Crossbowmen rain down more death and destruction on the Ostrich Riders.

In a repeat performance, I rolled a 1 again.

Now either we're quite far north, or these lazy soldiers didn't get out of bed till rather late as it's getting dark out there.

Event card is Nightfall. As both sides have the Night Craft attribute, they can see in the dark and aren't affected.

There's some more skirmishing on the left flank, and the Dwarf advance pivots to face the outflanking attempt.

The Ostrich Riders finally do a little damage, shooting at a unit of Dwarf Spearmen. I was nearly in a position to attack the flanks of the main Dwarf line, but that plan has been scuppered. I need to get the other flank moving. I have an advantage at the moment as there are 3 Dwarf Units in reserve. I need to make the numerical superiority pay off before they get on the table.

And finally some action from the big critter as the Giant Spider starts skittering toward the Dwarves.

First Battle Report - And we're off!

I'm getting reports from the studio that the Wizard's Guild have resolved their technical issues and you are now receiving images. Let the battle commence!

First Battle Report - Set Up

Good afternoon ladies and gentlebeings. Welcome to the first battle report of the season, live from the Wastelands of Catarrh. I am your commentator for today, Arthur Braincell.

Today's report is being beamed directly into your head courtesy of the Wizard's Guild of Arcadia. Please remember to renew your subscriptions, folks. You know what the Guild does to defaulters.

The Dwarf army has cautiously advanced into the Goblin-infested wastelands, hoping to get revenge for last year's home defeat to the Goblin hordes.

The battlefield is as sparse as you would expect for a wasteland. There are a few rocky areas strewn around, but the main objects to be aware of are a handful of chasms that could prove deadly for anyone foolish enough to attempt a crossing.

The Dwarf army has deployed it's small but powerful force centrally. Presumably, they believe that concentrating their already formidable troops will render their advance unstoppable.

The Goblin army has deployed across a wide front, with cavalry and light troops on the flanks. My money's on the Goblins using their numerical superiority in an attempt to encircle the Dwarves.

We seem to have some technical problems with the scrying. We'll be right back after this commercial break...

Cold? Flu? Plague?

If you have a sore throat, use Qwilleys Throat Lozenges.

You'll feel better if you suck Qwilleys!

Perfect timing.

The camera batteries just died on me!

First battle report: the scenario

Hmm, what to do. I think I'll pick a "Recon" posture, select as many scouts as I can and hope for an ambush scenario.

The Dwarves, despite having a cautious commander, roll up a "Attack" posture.

I have 20 units in my Goblin army. That means I can pick up to 6 units to scout.

Lizard Riders, Ostrich Riders and Wolf Riders as scouts. 14 scouting points for troops, nothing for the commander, and a die roll of 2 for a scouting total of 16.

The Dwarves have 14 units. That's 4 units in the scouting pool. The Cattle Riders, both Crossbow units and a unit of Swordsmen. Rolling for each unit gets the Cattle Riders and 1 Crossbow unit scouting. 3 scouting points for troops. 2 for the commander and a die roll of 1 for a scouting total of 6.

Referring to the scenario generator it's a straightforward pitched battle, then. If I had rolled a 4 or more instead of a 2 I would have had my ambush. Having outscouted my opponent I will deploy my troops second.

Did anything happen to my scouts?

One unit of Lizard Riders is delayed, one unit of Wolf Riders misses the battle.

And the dwarf scouts?

One Crossbow unit is delayed.

And the terrain?

Wasteland. That may help my Goblins.

First battle report: the armies

I will be posting the battle report real time as the battle progresses. There will even be a half-time break for lunch!

Firstly, the armies.

(I) indicates inferior troops, (A) average troops and (S) superior troops.
Any additional attributes are marked {like such}.

The Goblin Army

All units have {Night Craft} and {Wasteland Craft}

Goblins - Swords (I) - 4 units @ 3 points each - 12 points
Archers - Shooters (I) - 2 units @ 3 points each - 6 points
Slingers - Skirmishers (I) - 2 units @ 1 point each - 2 points
Lizard Riders - Cavalry (I) {Fast} - 2 units @ 4 points each - 8 points
Ostrich Riders - Mounted Archers (I) - 2 units @ 3 points each - 6 points
Wolf Riders - Cavalry (S) - 2 units @ 5 points each - 10 points
Drummers - Musician (A) - 2 units @ 3 points each - 6 points
Shaman - Cleric (S) - 1 unit @ 7 points
Giant Spider -  Monster (I) {Web} - 1 unit @ 8 points
Hobgoblins - Warband (A) - 1 unit @ 4 points
Clan Chief - Hero (A) Commander (I) - 1 unit @ 11 points

No stratagems.

Total 80 points

The Dwarf Army

All units have {Night Craft}, {Mountain Craft} and {Magic Resistance}

Warriors - Swords (S) - 4 units @ 5.5 points each - 22 points
Warriors - Spears (S) - 4 units @ 5.5 points each - 22 points
Crossbowmen - Shooters (A) - 2 units @ 4.5 points each - 9 points
Cattle Riders - Knights (I) - 1 unit @ 4.5 points
King - Hero (A) Commander (A) - 1 unit @ 16.5 points
RuneMaster - Cleric (I) {Rune Lore} - 1 unit @ 5.5 points

Stratagem: Reserves.

Total 79.5 points

Which army shall I control? Coin toss time - heads for Dwarves, tails for Goblins.

And it comes up...tails.

The reputation of the Dwarf general is...(rolls d6)...cautious.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Cross your fingers

On Sunday I should be ready for the first full run through of a battle. The last few bits of terrain I may need are in the process of being constructed. There will be a battle report posted, of course!

Points - victory or otherwise.

Each unit in the army has a points value, from 2 points for a Hordes unit up to 12 points for a Deity or Dragon. 

Each army is consists of 80 points worth of troops.

Destroying an opposing unit gains Victory Points (VPs) equal to the points value of the unit.

Some scenarios have objectives (worth 10 VPs) or other additional methods of scoring VPs.

If at the end of a turn one side has 40 or more VPs and more VPs than the opposing side then it has won.

If one army has 20 or more VPs then the opposing army is Demoralized. When attacking a Demoralized unit in close combat, the attacker gains a +1 tactical modifier.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

There's stuff everywhere...

I am busy cutting, scoring, folding, glueing, basing, undercoating, painting, flocking and varnishing. Not all at the same time, but it feels like it! I am also running out of flat surfaces to put half-finished models on whilst waiting for them to set, dry or cure!

One thing I didn't really consider - storage for all of this. I can see a trip to town next pay day, a new shelving unit and a certain amount of rearranging things in this already cramped abode.

The Game Turn

Each turn during the battle will go something like this:

(The human player will be referred to as the player. The other army will be referred to as the enemy)

1)   Command Phase

If is the player's turn:

Draw the top card from the Command Card deck and resolve the event on the card.

Play one card from your hand of Command Cards. Mark any units that are being ordered by the card.

If it is the enemy's turn:

Play the top card of the Command deck. Mark any units that are being ordered by the card. Some cards in the deck will allow the enemy to draw another card and order further units.

When ordering units:
Two units that have the attribute "Drilled" may be ordered as though they were one unit.
Any number of units that are of the same type, adjacent to each other and facing in the same direction can be ordered as though they were one unit.

2)   Movement Phase

Move ordered units.

3)   Combat Phase

Resolve ranged combat.

Resolve close combat.

Note that, unlike in Battlelore, all of an army's units that are capable of attacking will do so. Units do not have to be ordered to be able to attack. This resolves another of my problems with the Battlelore combat system.

4)   Draw Phase

Check winning conditions.

If one side has 40 or more Victory Points and more Victory Points than the opposing army, that side has won. I will cover Victory Points in another post.

If it is the player's turn:

You may either draw one Lore Card OR roll to gain Lore Tokens. I'll cover the Lore rules more fully in another post.

Draw one Command Card.

If you have more than the maximum permitted Command Cards or Lore Cards, discard down the the minimum.

Maximum Command Cards allowed are 4/5/6 for an inferior/average/superior commander. Maximum Lore Cards allowed are 3 per unit that has a Lore attribute.

If it is the enemy's turn:

The enemy will draw a Lore Card if the army has less than the maximum permitted AND will roll to gain Lore Tokens.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Scenery and printers

I have spent much of this evening trying to rescale various terrain items so that, when they are printed out, they are both in scale with the figures and will fit into a single hex on the board. After much fiddling and cursing, I had a flash of the blindingly obvious - I can just scale walls and palisades to the height of the figures and then cut them in half to fit a hex. Doh.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Scenario Generator

If there's one thing that I wanted to get away from, it's the tendency for a wargame to have two armies line up facing each other and fighting until x number of units have been destroyed. This still should be a frequent happening, but I feel that there should be other scenarios that result from an encounter between two armies.

Before the battle starts, the player must pick a stance: Attack, Defend or Recon.

The opposing commander will have a reputation: Cautious, Bold or Rash.

After the player has picked his stance, roll 1 die to determine the opposition's stance. Cautious commanders subtract 1 from the roll. Rash commanders add 1 to the roll.

Result         Stance
2 or less      Defend
3 or 4          Recon
5 or more    Attack

Now we come to the concept of scouting. The player must select which units, if any, he wishes to use as scouts. Each unit selected is worth a number of scouting points:

4 points     Flyers, Airships, Magicians, Rogues.
3 points     Mounted Archers.
2 points     Skirmishers, Auxiliaries, Lurkers, Cavalry.
1 point       Other troop units.

A maximum number of one third (rounded down) of the units in the army may be selected as scouts.

The opposing army has a pool of potential scouts equal to the maximum number of scouts that could be picked, starting with units worth the most scouting points.

To determine which of these units are selected as scouts, roll 1 die for each unit. A unit is selected if a 4 or more is rolled. Cautious commanders add 1 to this roll, Rash commanders subtract 1.

Each army adds together the the scouting points of units selected as scouts. Each side adds 2 to this total if the army commander is rated as average, and 4 to this total if rated as superior. Each side also adds the roll of 1 die.

After scouting, roll 1 die for each unit that was selected to scout. On a 1 or 2, something has happened to that unit. Roll another die. On a 1 or 2, the unit is destroyed. On a 3 or 4, the unit misses the battle. On a 5 or 6, the unit is late for the battle and is placed with the army's reserves.

Compare the total scouting scores of the two armies. If one side scores three times or more the total of the other, the lower scoring army is surprised, otherwise the lower scorer is outscouted.

Scenario Outcome Table
                                                   Attack                         Recon                   Defend
                  outscouts            Pitched Battle             Pitched Battle              Assault
Attack        tied with                Special*                       Special*            Assault Special*
                  surprises            Surprise Attack           Surprise Attack      Surprise Assault

                  outscouts            Pitched Battle                   Skirmish                 Assault
Recon        tied with                Special*                        Special*                  Special*
                  surprises                Ambush                        Ambush            Surprise Assault

                  outscouts               Assault                          Assault                   Skirmish
Defend        tied with            Assault Special*                Special*             Disputed Border
                  surprises                  Trap                               Trap                        Trap

Special scenarios. Roll 1 die:

1     Seize Magic Item
2     Wizard's Tower
3     Treasure Raid
4     Dragon's Lair
5,6  Surprise Encounter

Assault Special scenarios. Roll 1 die:

1 or 2     River Crossing
3 or 4     Urban Assault
5 or 6     Amphibious Landing

Pitched Battle is your standard line 'em up and knock 'em down scenario.
Assault requires the defender to select a stronghold, which is a fortification and also counts as an objective, worth Victory Points to whomever is holding it. An Assault scenario may instead be a Siege if the defender has a castle in the area.
Ambush has the surprised army set up in the middle of the board with all it's units disorganized - each unit must be ordered once to remove the disorganization before it can be ordered to move.
Surprise Assault is the same as an Assault but the defending army is disorganized.
Skirmish has neither army set up on the board at the start. Each army scores victory points by moving units off the opposing army's base edge.
Trap has the attacking army disorganized. The defending army can place field defences and infiltrate some troop units which can be deployed anywhere on the board.
Disputed Border has both armies dug in and a town in the middle of the board, the town being an objective worth victory points.

The first four Special scenarios all have the relevant pieces placed in a random location on the board.
A surprise encounter has both armies disorganized.

River crossing has a river running across the middle of the board. The attacking army receives Victory Points for units that cross the river.
Urban Assault has a large town on the board which counts as an objective.
Amphibious Landing requires the attacking player to use boats to land troops.

That's 15 different scenarios, and enough variety to keep me happy!



A game idea, but not related to Arcadia. Worms was one of my favourite video games - I played it to death on the original Playstation many moons ago. I have this print'n'play board game version, which has been sat on my hard drive for years without being constructed.

Whilst browsing for fantasy figures, I came across these rather cute figures. Then I looked at all the 3D terrain I'm constructing. I feel a new, but rather less ambitious, project coming on!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Progress Report

- One box of figures cut from it's sprues and put together.

- Base coat done on the English medieval army - I dub thee "The Army of Albion".

- 8 hills cut, scored and glued together.

- Started the base coat on the French medieval army until hand cramp cut me short.

Looking at terrain that I still need, I have just purchased some bushes and boulders on eBay. Not bad all told for a couple of hours effort after work. Hopefully still on course for the first full play test this weekend. Time to chill for a bit before bed.

Unit Types

I have created a mish-mash of unit types. Each of these has slightly different characteristics. Along with rating each unit as Superior, Average or Inferior - and adding different attributes where necessary - allows me to create an army list quickly and easily but which still has a great deal of individuality.

Lore units

Lore units are powerful units that do not fit into the other categories. They have there own category so that rules that specifically affect troop units or characters do not apply to them.

Any god, demon or similarly powerful supernatural creature. Powerful, but will be driven off the field if it loses any combat. Will draw Lore Cards of a type dependant on the Deity's role - for instance a Fire God would draw Fire Lore Cards.

Similarly powerful to a Deity, but has a ranged attack to represent it's breath weapon as opposed to a Deity's Lore Cards.

A large, single airborne unit. Will either be of advanced technology or magically powered, but the results are treated the same either way.

A big, nasty critter. Giants, Trolls and the suchlike belong in the category.


Representing not just a single powerful individual but also, possibly, such things as a coven of witches or a hero and his entourage.

A warrior - the character type that excels at beating up the enemy. Normally draws Warrior Lore Cards to represent special abilities.

He has the strength of ten as his heart is pure. Also very resistant to opponent's Lore Cards. Powerful, but does not draw Lore Cards.

Any character that use stealth as opposed to muscle to achieve his ends. Thieves, rangers and assassins, for instance. Normally draws Stealth Lore Cards.

Sorcerers, get the drift. Normally draws Sorcery Lore Cards.

Priests and shaman. Resistant to opponent's Lore Cards, and normally draws Priest Lore Cards.

Cheap and rather useless on their own, but they do lend support to nearby units. Does not normally draw Lore Cards.

Troop units

The rank and file of an army.

Any aerial troops - from winged demons to swarms of bats.

Bog standard mounted troops. The mounts themselves do not matter, although troops mounted on more aggressive animals will tend to be graded as Superior troops.

Troops mounted on elephants, mammoths or similar creatures.

Troops in chariots. Nuff said.

Smaller creatures that fight in packs or swarms - lizards, rats and sabre-tooth tigers are examples that spring to mind from the army lists.

Foot troops fighting effectively with bladed, cutting or concussive weapons.

Foot troops armed with spears or pikes fighting as a shield wall or phalanx.

Foot troops armed with missile weapons fired as volleys from a distance.

Catapults ranging in size from a ballista to a trebuchet, and weapons of a similar effect.

Troops that lurk in dark corners and try to take the enemy by surprise. Scouts and some creepy crawlies  can fall into this category.

Peasants, zombies and anyone else fighting by force of numbers rather than any real skill. There's an almost limitless supply of them!

Foot troops armed with missile weapons but fighting up close in a loose formation, ready to run away from a combat they're not winning.

War Wagons
War Wagons, battle towers, steam tanks and the like. Fairly hard and they have a ranged attack.

Mounted Archers
The mounted equivalent of Skirmishers.

Like cavalry, but most effective when charging. 

Fierce tribal warriors. Like Knights, most effective when charging.

Foot troops armed with handguns. muskets or something similar. They are slightly more effective than Shooters but cannot move and fire in the same turn.

Bombards and big guns. Slightly longer ranged and more effective than artillery.

They've got grenades and they know how to use them. Kind of. Dangerous to all around them.

Historically this would cover scythed chariots and the like, but expanded here to include Goblin Steam Cars and anything else that you would point at the enemy and let go.

Lightly equipped close combat troops, good performers in bad going and capable of evading close combat.

Army supplies. Gives a small bonus to an army if in play, but also gives the opposing army victory points if destroyed.

And finally four ship units of increasing size, included for beach landing scenarios and the added bonus of naval battles when the full campaign gets going:


You may notice that Commander is not listed as a troop type. The Commander must be nominated from the units in the army. and may be any unit allowed by a given army list.

A little hiccup

I picked up my package of figures from the sorting office today. There was only 1 box of figures inside. The rest are on order with the importer and will be sent along "when available". Do I cancel the order or hang on for a week or two? Decisions, decisions...

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Progress Report

I am nearly ready for the first run through of the full battle game. There's a fair amount of terrain left to build. I have replaced many of Battlelore's terrain hexes with 3D card models that I downloaded from the web and printed out. There's a handy hovel here, and someone on Boardgamegeek has made 3D hill hexes specifically for Battlelore. Model trees were found cheaply on eBay. A few days of scoring and gluing and the first battle report should be on it's way!

More Cards

There are a few more things that I wanted to add to the game. Firstly, stratagems - think along the lines of flank marches or reserve forces. 24 cards designed. A superior commander draws 2 cards from the deck, and average commander 1 card. Inferior commanders don't get any at all. This is one of the game elements that hasn't been play tested yet.

Example stratagem card

And what is a fantasy game without magic items? I have designed an 18 card magic item deck. If allowed by an army list, an army may purchase the top 1 or 2 cards from the deck. Again, these have yet to be play tested. Only characters will be able to use magic items.

Example magic item card


Having redesigned Battlelore's combat rules, I then ran into another problem. The areas of Battlelore that I wished to retain - the command rules and the lore rules - both relied on cards that didn't fit in with the redesigned combat rules. So all the cards need to be redone as well!

The cards have been designed using Nandeck, which is a rather useful bit of kit for anyone designing their own games.

First up, the command cards. I didn't need to do much work here. The main change is that as I no longer have troops defined by banner colour, the cards that order troops by banner colour are redundant. Instead, I added Deployment cards. Some units are not deployed on the board at the start of the game - either due to the unit type (e.g. Deity, Lurkers), due to stratagem cards (more on them later) or due to scenario limitations. The Deployment card allows these units to be placed on the board.

An example of a command card

I have made the command cards dual use - they also function as event cards. At the beginning of the player's turn, one command card is drawn and the event is resolved. Some command cards have no events, most just modify the score on the weather table (more on the weather rules later). A few cards have more interesting effects. The event portion of the card is ignored in other circumstances. I have shamelessly stolen this mechanic from Combat Commander: Pacific, a game which I love.

Slightly more work went into the lore cards. I wanted to expand the number of lore decks available from the four in the basic Battlelore game. This would give certain characters and races a different set of powers, helping to further differentiate between different armies and adding more flavour to the game without adding complexity. And as the lore cards often effect combat, most of them had to be amended as well.

An example of a lore card

I have only completed the four basic lore decks - Warrior, Sorcery, Stealth and Priest. Other decks in the works include: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Rune, Vampire, Necromancy, Demon, Illusion, Forest, Beast Master, Death, Assassin, Master Baker (for the Halflings!), Ice, Lore Mastery, Lycanthropy and Drum Lore!

I just noticed an error in the above card - the duration should be "One Turn" rather than "Immediate". Oh well, I knew this was going to be the first draft.

The four basic lore decks all have 13 cards. The other lore decks probably won't have as many - I'm looking at a minimum of 7 cards and always making it an odd number. This would be so that 1 card can be discarded at random and the rest of the deck shared between the armies if both armies have a unit capable of using that particular lore deck. Most of those additional decks have been written up, I just need to design the cards themselves.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

That's another army painted

The Greek Army

These are the first figures from the Age of Mythology board game that I've painted up. Hot off the presses - the varnish has just dried.

Armies and Nations

I intend Arcadia to be a complete fantasy world. This means I'm going to need more than a couple of armies!

Battlelore and it's expansions gives me four nations: Dwarf, Goblin, Medieval French & Medieval British.

Where to find compatible figures that won't cost a fortune?

Looking at games I already have, Zombies has, as you would imagine, quite a lot of Zombie figures. There's the basis for an Undead army.

I acquired Age of Mythology for £10 on eBay. That's mythical Greek, Egyptian and Norse armies.

Caesar Miniatures produce boxes of 1/72 scale plastic figures that are just about the right size. With having troop units represented by a base of 2 figures, 1 box of Caesar Miniatures provides the basis for an army. That's coming in at £6 to £7 each. They even have a fantasy range. Sitting at my local sorting office right now is a package containing Orc, Elf, Undead and Adventurers - the Adventurers box to be used to provide characters for a variety of armies.

But there are also the historical ranges. What can I add that has it's own flavour?

Roman. Create an attribute "Drilled" that makes them easy to manoeuvre around the field of battle.
Japanese. Samurai & Ninjas. Make the Ninjas assassins - give them the ability to target opposing characters.
Arab. Saracens, plus a magician on a flying carpet and a djinni.
Cossack. Light cavalry, at home on the frozen steppes.
Hussite. Hey! War Wagons! Plus a lot of peasant infantry.
How about one based on Leonardo da Vinci's inventions? Pike & shot, plus cannons, a steam tank and an airship.

There's certainly a few more that I could come up with, but I was struggling to find armies that had their own character.

I'll need one or two monsters on top of those boxed sets. There's a few manufacturers of 15mm scale fantasy figures. Although a little undersized, they should be fine for anything non-human - this is a fantasy world after all! and Magister Militum will probably both see some of my custom.

Heck, if I'm going down that route I could use any 15mm non-human miniatures to create an army. It will be a little more expensive than the plastic figures, but I'm not using many figures. It still comes in at around £15 per army. From the manufacturers above I can find Halfling, Demon, Elemental, Ratmen Lizardmen, Prehistoric and Meerkat (!) armies. I don't think that I can resist those Meerkats. The Meerkat mounted on a giant cobra is just about the coolest thing ever!

I think that's 24 separate armies. I still can't work out whether that's overkill or not.

The Armies

Now, I can't paint miniatures to save my life, but I have found a simple way of making the figures look OK. Undercoat, a single colour base coat over the entire figure, then teak-coloured polyurethane wood varnish, which runs into the detailing giving reasonable results for a thumb-fingered dolt like me! They won't win any modelling awards, but they are fine for gaming purposes.

The Dwarf Army

The Goblin Army

I can see some touching up needs to be done!

Figures are mounted two to a base to represent units of troops. Characters, monsters and the like are mounted singly.

The Emperor's New Combat Rules

The Hordes of the Things (HOTT) rules set defines units by troop types, reflecting not just the unit's weapons but also how the unit would be used on the battlefield. As I was adapting the HOTT combat rules, I would adopt a similar convention.

As an example, "Horde" would be defined as a unit comprising an untrained rabble with assorted close combat weapons. "Blades" would be troops skilled in close combat with swords or heavier cutting weapons. HOTT has a rather restrictive number of unit types, which I expanded by importing more historical troop types from the related historical rules sets, and adding a few of my own creation. There are now 36 unit types, which may be a little excessive but also gives great variety.

Each unit type has two definitions that accompany it. A unit must be foot, mounted, aerial or water-born, depending on it's primary method of movement.  A unit also must be a troop unit, a character or a lore unit. A troop unit represents a body of fighting men, a character represents one heroic individual (probably with a small entourage), a lore unit represents those fantasy units that don't fall into the other categories - Deity, Dragon, Airship and Monster as it currently stands.

A unit must also be defined as either superior, ordinary or inferior, and can be assumed to be ordinary unless otherwise stated.

There also a number of special rules that may apply to a unit. I have dubbed these attributes. Some of these are automatically applied to a unit type, e.g. A unit of Skirmishers always has the Evade attribute. Any attributes may be applied to a unit type - these will be defined in the army lists for each army, giving more variety to the armies.

One of the few things carried over from Battlelore is the damage to the unit, although instead of removing figures as hits are inflicted on the unit, damage markers are placed by the unit. If a troop or lore unit takes 4 hits, it is destroyed. A character can take only a single hit before being destroyed. However, a character can also be used to lead a troop unit, which improves the troop unit's performance in combat and means that the character will not take any damage until the unit (s)he is leading is destroyed. This makes characters powerful but brittle when used on their own - it's a high risk tactic.

Combat Resolution

Each unit has a combat factor which ranges from 1 to 5. For example. a Blades unit has a combat factor of 3 against foot troops and 2 against mounted troops. A Hordes unit has a combat factor of 1.

There are also a number of tactical factors. For example, attacking the flank or rear of an enemy unit has a tactical factor of 1. Attacking a unit that has 2 or more damage markers also has a tactical factor of 1.

To resolve combat:

1)   Add together the combat factor and tactical factors for each side. Subtract the enemy unit's combat factor from your unit's combat factor to give the total factor.

2)   Roll an 8 sided die and add the total factor. Look up the result on the table below.

3)   Total                       Result
       -1 or less                Your unit is destroyed.
       0 or 1                     Your unit is heavily damaged.
       2 to 4                     Your unit is damaged.
       5 to 7                     Enemy unit is damaged.
       8 or 9                     Enemy unit is heavily damaged.
       10 or more             Enemy unit is destroyed.

4)   If your unit is of superior quality, the enemy's is not and the score is 4 or less, add 1 to the result.
      If your unit is of inferior quality, the enemy's is not and the score is 4 or less, subtract 1 from the result.
      If the enemy unit is of superior quality, yours is not and the score is 5 or more, subtract 1 from the result.
      If the enemy unit is of inferior quality, yours is not and the score is 5 or more, add 1 to the result.

5)   A damaged unit receives one point of damage and is pushed back 1 hex.
      If the unit has the Evade attribute, it does not take damage but instead makes an evade move.
      A heavily damaged unit has the same outcome as a damaged unit but takes an extra point of damage.
      A destroyed unit routs and takes a point of damage if it has the Evade attribute.
      If it does not have the Evade attribute, the unit is removed from the board.

I have left a few things out to simplify this post, but there you have it - the bare bones of the combat system.

Designing The Combat Rules

My problems with Battlelore

I find combat resolution in Battlelore a little odd at times. A unit at full strength is represented by four figures - three figures if a cavalry unit. Each hit on the unit removes one figure. When the last figure is removed, the unit is destroyed. Units are further defined by the weapon they are using, and by the colour of their banner - red, green or blue, equivalent to heavy, medium or light units.

When attacking, a unit usually rolls four dice. These are 6 sided dice, but with symbols on each face: 1 Red, 1 Blue, 1 Green, 1 Flag, 1 Bonus Hit, 1 Lore. An attacking unit scores one hit on it's opponent for each dice that rolls same banner colour of the unit it is attacking. It may score a hit when rolling a bonus hit, depending on the weapon used and the opponent. Each flag rolled causes the opposing unit to retreat 1 hex.

Things I don't like:

1)   The attacking unit does not have any penalty for being at less than full strength. A unit with 1 figure remaining rolls the same number of attack dice as a unit with all 4 figures remaining.

2)   Whether the target is a red, blue or green banner unit makes no difference. A "heavy" unit suffers just as many hits as a "light" unit.

I tried two different approaches to amending the rules.

The First Attempt

I tried to keep to the rules as they stood as much as possible.

The solution to problem one seemed straightforward - roll one attack dice per figure in the attacking unit. This prolongs combat as less dice will be rolled over the course of the game. To counteract this, I bought some blanks and remade the combat dice: 2 Hit faces, 1 Bonus Hit, 1 Flag, 1 Miss, 1 Lore. Hits are no longer made by rolling a banner colour, but by rolling a "hit".

To resolve problem two I introduced a saving throw. Reroll any dice that are hits. A hit on a blue banner unit is saved if a miss is rolled, a hit on a red banner unit is saved by a roll of a miss or a lore.

I play tested and tweaked these amendments on and off for a long time. I didn't like the amount of dice rolling involved, and I could never balance combat to my satisfaction. This gave me an appreciation about how well balanced the original rules are, despite my dislike of parts of them!

The Second Attempt

There is a set of fantasy wargame rules called Hordes of the Things. I had played around with these rules a long time ago, using scraps of card instead of miniatures. These rules are based on De Bellis Antiquitatis, a set of rules for historical wargames set in the ancient period which I had used extensively. Hordes of the Things fails as a set of fantasy rules as it has little fantasy flavour. But could I drop the combat rules from Hordes of the Things into Battlelore? It took a lot a playtesting and tweaking, but I got there in the end.

Game Design

Overall Design

There will be two separate parts to the game  - the battle rules and the campaign rules.

The Rules

A couple of years ago I bought Battlelore. It's an enjoyable fantasy battle game. Although not designed for solitaire play, the card-based system for ordering units makes in very suitable for solo gaming. I blasted through all the scenarios included in the base game, and in the expansions that I purchased.

Although I like Battlelore a great deal, I still have some problems with it.

1)   I feel that the quality and value for money of the expansions has taken a nose dive since Days on Wonder sold the rights to the game to Fantasy Flight Games.

2)   There are several aspects to the combat system that I don't like. Don't get me wrong  - I think the combat system works reasonably well and is balanced in the original game. But I still don't like it much.

3)   There needs to be a decent scenario generator. The deployment cards in the Call to Arms expansion are a failure in this respect.

4)   There is no campaign game.

5)   The basic Battlelore game does not have heroes or other characters on the board. They are off-board, as part of a "Lore Council" that allows the player to play "Lore Cards". Again, this works pretty well in the original game but still isn't the way I'd like things done - I want my heroes in the thick of things, kicking ass and occasionally getting killed. The Heroes expansion should have fixed this, but after reading the rules and reviews I decided not to purchase it as I didn't like the way Heroes were being handled.

However, there are quite a few things that I do like about it.

1)   Battlelore's card driven command system is a good basis for a solo game.

2)   The Lore cards. These give special abilities and lend the game a strong fantasy flavour.

3)   Hex board. No measuring to see if a unit is in range or can make a flank attack, where a difference of a couple of millimetres can be crucial.

I decided to base Arcadia on a modified form of Battlelore. The first thing I decided to tackle was the combat system.

Welcome to Arcadia

What is Arcadia?

It's my fantasy game world, specifically designed for solitaire fantasy wargames.


I've been a gamer since my pre-teens. It's one of those hobbies that periodically grabs hold of my brain and refuses to let go! I started off being playing historical miniatures games. I had no opponents, but fortunately came across Programmed Wargames Scenarios by Charles Grant. I generalized his system so that I could use it for any battle in any period, bought some figures and off I went. Over the next 10 years or so I used this system to play games in the ancient, Napoleonic and World War 2 periods.

Later, I did make some gamer friends at school, university and after. One thing I discovered was that I frequently didn't like playing games against other people. The gamers I met tended to be very competitive - finding a dominant strategy and pounding their opponents into the ground. I play games to have fun and to see what happens.

When gaming with other people, I preferred to run games rather than play in them. I ran two long-term games successfully. One was a fantasy role-playing game which had emphasis on role-playing rather than combat. The other was a sci-fi military and economic campaign game.

After the last campaign finished, I had no game to run and no group to run a game with anyway. I had gotten bored of the solo wargames system I had been playing since my teens. I dropped out of gaming for around 12 years.

About 3 years ago I was reintroduced to gaming by the realization that there were a lot of boardgames out there - many of them well produced and which either played solo straight out of the box or had solo variants that could be found on Boardgamegeek. As is my wont, I have immersed myself in the hobby once more. Combining my love of solo gaming, miniatures games and large-scale games, I came up with the idea for Arcadia.

And this blog?

Arcadia is still very much in the development stage, but is now starting to take shape. I want to keep a record of how this world develops, and also keep a narrative record of the campaign itself once it is up and running.