Wednesday, 19 November 2014

More thoughts on War of the Ring

I have posted recently on my impressions of the War of the Ring battle game. In my first post I talked about the overall flow and ease of the game, in the second post I pondered the addition of characters and magic. In summary, the game is quick and easy to play - the rules are simple and there's just one chart in the whole book. Crucially, the game interleaves all phases, so players are involved far more, there's very little downtime. The rules scale up to big battles too - this photo is a game we played at the weekend, pooling all our figures into one mighty conflict. There are around 50 companies on each side in this game, a company is either 8 infantry or 2 cavalry models. It's probably the biggest game I have ever played in, not a bad achievement for four nerds in a basement!

Of course, not everything is perfect. The game does have a few flaws, at least in my eyes. Combat resolution is an example. When combat is completed, the winner is determined purely by number of casualties. There are no other modifiers to this result. The loser rolls a single die - a 1 can lead to the unit being removed, a 2-5 can result in extra casualties and the unit is disordered, while a 6 means the unit fights on with no ill effects. There is no account taken of the margin of victory in this roll either, whether you lose by 1 casualty or 21 casualties, the roll is always the same. The net result is that invariably the loser sticks around for another round of combat, until he is wiped out. Opposing forces tend to meet in combat, fight for two or three rounds, until one grinds the other into the dirt. There's no fleeing and pursuing as per Warhammer. While this solves many rules problems (fleeing units seem to cause so many rules problems), it does feel a bit static and in need of some modification.

The other area of concern I have is morale. There are no rules for morale in the game. There's no panic tests, no psychology, the only concession is that when the final company of a formation falls to half strength, it is removed from the board. In a big game like the one we played, with formations of 6 or 9 companies, this can seem a bit unrealistic. There are terror causing beasts in the game (trolls, ents, etc) but a failed terror test merely results in the unit losing fighting capacity. Psychology/battle fatigue are not really represented in the game as it stands.

Overall, I like the game. The phases order and movement rules are particularly good, combat is easy to understand and resolve, while magic and heroes can subtly alter the dynamic. With a few tweaks to combat resolution and some kind of psychology rules, it would be an even better game.

3 comments:

Vincent Clive said...

I've really enjoyed your WotR content so far, keep it up!

joe5mc said...

Fantastic photographs! Enjoyed the thoughts as well. I'm plan to pick up the book at some point just to read, but I don't think I could ever manage to field armies like those.

Scott Bowman said...

Have you looked at Hail Caesar Fantasy Fan-mod?
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/HailCaesarFantasy/info

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