Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Review/AAR: Might of Arms

This post is a quick review of a set of ancients/medieval miniatures wargame rules called Might of Arms. It can best be described as WRG 7th lite, and it is pretty obvious that the guy took the WRG rules as a starting point and simplified them. The rules are a bit verbose, but after dealing with "Barkerese", I don't mind it. :-)

The armies are organized into units. Each unit is made up of 1-6 ranks of stands. Each rank contains 1, 2, or 3 stands depending on the size of the battle. If you use 1 stand/rank, you get a DBA sized army. Infantry units can fight in two ranks, everything else in one rank. The only reason you'd want to have more ranks is because bigger units can better absorb casualties. More on that later.

The classes of units are all the standard types: Knights, Cavalry, Infantry, Artillery. Each is sub-classed according to its armor: Heavy, Medium, Light. If a unit is armed with missile weapons, those are noted separately. Finally, each class has a morale grade, A-E, and possibly a optional ability such as elite or fierce. A Norman Knight is "Medium Knight Cavalry, B class", Roman Legions are "Elite Heavy Infantry, C class", and Turcoples are "Light Cavalry, Bow, B class".

The sequence of play in the game is as follows. First, each side rolls for initiative. The side with the lower initiative moves and shoots first, followed by the second side. Then, charges and responses are declared simultaneously. Finally, melee is resolved and morale checks taken.

Movement is limited to a few different maneuvers: Forward (includes moving obliquely up to 45*), Wheeling (up to 45* and can be combined with forward movement), Reverse, Skirmish Movement, and Formation Change. This is one area where the rules differentiate units beyond their movement distance. For example, heavy units can only move forward, wheel, or change formation, so it takes them a long time to reposition. Skirmish units can utilize skirmish movement, which allows them to "teleport" anywhere up to half of their normal move distance. Also, units can march move, which doubles their movement, if they stay beyond 12" of the enemy.

To shoot, you first look up the hit number, which is based upon the shooter's weapon and the targets type. Then, you total the number of stands shooting at the target. Each stand rolls a d6, and every value less than or equal to the hit number yields a hit. Easy enough.

Each unit that is within charge distance, which varies by unit, and charge arc, which is 45*, can declare a charge. Some units must make a morale check to charge, such as cavalry charging formed foot. Other types have to make a morale check to even charge at all, such as skirmishers charging any formed unit. There are three types of charge responses: evade, countercharge, and receive at the halt. Not all units can evade or countercharge, but all units can receive a charge at the halt. In general, cavalry can countercharge and skirmishers can evade, although there are a few exceptions. Evading does involve some risk, since you are destroyed if you are caught and must take a morale check if you are not.

On to combat... First, you cross reference the attacking type with the defending type to get a base combat value. Then you add all of the modifiers and a single d6 roll. You cross reference this number with the number of stands in combat to determine the final number of hits that you inflict.

You keep track of damage from combat and shooting the same way, using hits and fatigue points. A unit takes hits as the result of shooting and combat. When the unit takes a number of hits equal to the number of stands in the unit, the unit gets one fatigue point. When the unit has taken a number of fatigue points, it will become worn. Fatigue points and worn status both affect the unit's morale check. Note that units can only be destroyed by failing morale checks.

A unit's base morale is determined by its class: A units are best and E units are worst. A unit checks morale for a variety of reasons, such as taking losses, becoming worn, being charged in the rear, etc. Units that fail a morale check become shaken. Units that are already shaken will rout. In some cases, failing a morale check just means that a unit cannot do what it wanted. For example, if a unit is forced to take a morale check to charge, and fails, it simply means that it can't charge this turn.

That's the rules in a nutshell. In our game, I took the Seljuk Turks against Rudy's Early Crusaders. The Crusaders set up with a center of spearmen supported by crossbows with knights as a reserve. The Turks overloaded the left flank with light horse archers and using the heavy cavalry in the center.

The first few turns saw the archers and crossbowmen trading shots, with the horses taking the worst of it. The knights chased the horse archers away, but were unable to catch them. This turned out to be a bad move, since the knights were now out of position to support the infantry.

The critical moment came when the spearmen failed a morale check, making them shaken. The heavy cavalry decided to charge, but the spearmen held! They hacked away at each other, with the spearmen slowly grinding down the cavalry. The Turks were finally able to position a unit of light horse to charge the spearmen in the rear, causing the spearmen to rout. Nearby, a unit of knights charged a unit of heavy cavalry. The Turkish cavalry unwisely decided to countercharge. The Knights caused a lot of casualties, but the HC held. Things started to look grim for the Turks, but two units of light horse were able to charge the knights in the flank and rear, and the knights failed their morale check and died.

Back in the center, the Turkish heavy cavalry was able to knock out the unsupported crossbow units. The knights couldn't reach them in time, with the Turkish light cavalry harassing them with bowshots. The crusaders finally called it a day, heading back to Nicea to lick their wounds.

I thought it was a fun system. The battle seemed to flow pretty well and didn't give any whacky results. It took me a couple of turns to figure everything out, but then I didn't have any problems. The QRDC that comes with the game gives a brief summary of all of the rules, but you still need to look at charts in the book for some things. I would definitely recommend it, and would love to try out some Romans vs Gauls.

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