Thursday, 17 June 2010

Fantasy Rules! overview and Callinicum deployment

As I was looking for fast play ancient rules a few years ago, I found a discussion that mentioned using a ruleset called Fantasy Rules! for historical play. I have played and own rules that originate with a fantasy version (Warmaster Ancients comes to mind) but zero interest in the rules they were derived from. So, not being a fantasy player at all - and the only few people I know that do play fantasy use Warhammer Fantasy Battles - this led to lots of interesting reading of various fantasy rules reviews and discussions.  My aim was for quick play, and I also wanted a set that was based around historical concepts that had fantasy elements mapped to it.  Fantasy Rules seemed to consistently top the list (Age of Might and Steel has potential too, which is why it is also on my list of rules to play).  Fantasy Rules! version 3 is the latest version, but Chipco have recently released FR!TCE which is a tournament version of FR!3.  Simplifying, it is a cutdown version of FR!3 without lots of the magic and characters and a very good army builder based around characteristics, rather than lists.  I'll be using FR!TCE although for my purposes, it is the same as FR!3 (just not so many pages to look through for rule clarifications). 

Why not use Days of Knights? Days of Knights (with version 2 the most recent) is also from Chipco, based on the FR! mechanisms but for (historical) late medieval battles.  There are a number of changes between the two, some large, some small.  for instance: command and control is different, movement is more restrictive, DoK has a panic check (FR! has sort of an equivalent with a double demoralise on cavalry charged units).  DoK double demoralise is not as bad.  DoK unit characteristics (combat factor, rally etc) are very specific to the period. All in all, DoK, from what I read and can see, captures the period specific flavour very well. DoK uses characters to manage command and control and I really like the morale clock in  FR!3.  FR!3 is more 'generic'.  I think I will be better off using FR!3 with minor mods rather than trying to make DoK, a period specific ruleset, work for something in 531AD, over 700 years earlier than it was designed for.

FR!/DoK links and reviews

A FR!: TCE description and where to purchase is at the Chipco FR!TCE webpage.  Reviews of FR!2 can be found at RPGnet and The Miniatures Page. The FR!2 Annex (Oct 2013: updated link to as original site no longer online) contains a whole lot of information for FR!2, including the FR!Ancients variant.

Days of Knights description and where to purchase is at the Chipco Days of Knights webpage. Here is a link to a The Miniatures page review and the Grognards review . The Ken Blackley DoK website  has some DoK information, including a review.

Lastly, the chipco yahoo group  has an active discussion on Chipco games.

I really want to limit the changes I make to FR!3 to make it fit to the game. One change I was going to do was restrict changing facing movement allowance.  FR! allows left faces, right faces and about faces for a cost of 1/2 the movement rate.  DoK has it costing the full move.  I was going with the full move cost.  but I have changed my mind - why implement what I think onto the ruleset.  I would prefer to be as generic as possible.The other changes are:

1.  Light Cavalry has a LOT going for it in FR! - x2 flank attacks etc.  Mounted (as a unit class) in FR! are mounted warriors.   In DoK, FR! Light cavalry equate to the Horse Archer units. So I will be going with the stats for the Callinicum Light Cavalry as per FR! Mounted (CF2, RF7+) but allow them to have some of the FR! light cavalry options at a total unit cost of 30: disengage from Infantry, Free facing and formation changes, Interpenetrate Cavlary, arm with bow or throwing weapon for extra 10 pts.  Maybe a better way to phrase it, thinking on it further, is to use the FR! Light Cavalry but reduce to 30pts by making it RF7+ and removing the doubling of flanking bonus.  Much better.  FR! Light Cavalry I would use only for specialist Horse Archers.  I'll make the Lakhmids elite as they performed much better than the Byzantine Ghassanids on the day.

2. Light Infantry as a class of unit doesn't really exist in FR! although Militia comes close.  I'll base it on the Light MAA class from DoK to represent the Isaurian Light Infantry. So light infantry is 30pts, MV 4/3 (no penalty for difficult), CF2, RF6+, +1 bonus when charged, armed with throwing weapons.

3. The Skutatoi are spear and bow melee heavy infantry.  I am going to use the spear class but add bow (not in FR!TCE but could be army specific in FR!3) for 10 points.  This should also make the cavalry  a bit fearful about charging them, as historically.

4. The Morale clock starts at 7 with a penalty when you reach 3.  I think Callinicum will be about 70%-80% the points of a normal 1000pt game (I'll work this out when I work out the actual force composition).  The Persian have 4 units and the Byzantines have 6 (although if you combined all the 6 stands of heavy cavalry into one unit there would only be 4).  I was going to start use a morale clock of 6/2 rather than 7/3 but have changed my mind - will stick with 7/3 and see how it does.


6 Heavy Calvary (in two units of 3 stands each) with bows (300 pts)
3 Heavy Cavalry with bow, elite (+1RF, +1CF) (180pts)
3 Light Cavalry with throwing weapons, elite (+1RF, +1CF) (120pts)
1 Hero General (+2RF, +2CF) (190pts)

Total points:  790

3 Skutatoi: Spears with Bow (120 pts)
4 Heavy Calvary (in two units of 2 stands each) with bows (200pts)
2 Heavy Cavalry with bow, elite (+1RF, +1CF) (120pts)
1 Light Infantry (30pts)
3 Light Cavalry with throwing weapons (90pts)
1 Hero General (+2RF, +2CF) (190pts)

Total points: 750

My troops are based for WRG 7th/DBM.  FR!3 really works best with 40mmx40mm bases.  The cavalry should be OK as 40mmx30mm - but will have to fudge it if a line all faces to the left or right - and I simply added an extra stand of infantry behind each other to create 40mmx40mm bases.  Otherwise, the deployment will be identical to that for Armati, Warrior Kings and Justified Ancients.

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