Something a bit different from our usual video-game related stuff. But if you’ve ever read our ‘About‘ page you’ll know why this isn’t off topic at all for Agoners!
I’ve played a lot of miniatures wargames over the years since I was a pre-teen even. The one I enjoyed the most (at least, enjoyed AND was relatively easy to find opponents to play against!) overall has been Warhammer Fantasy Battle. I’ve never been really satisfied with the rules though, and even as a teenager, used to play a heavily modified “house ruled” or “home brew” version of the game, to make it more fun, and yep, give much more possibility to play it as a competitive game and agonistic endeavour of course. However the difficulty of doing that is constantly keeping your house-rules up to date with a changing game – and also you run into problems the moment you want to play someone new outside of your existing group of friends who played the game with you. So about 10 years ago I tried out some wargaming again, trying to keep to “rules as written”, if I could, to keep things simple with new opponents. I even put some battle reports up on an old site, and had some fun, but was still generally dissatisfied with all the games I tried.
Fast forward to today and I still have a lot of fantasy wargame miniatures sat around and I’ve even been painting some again. So naturally this has led me to look into what wargames systems are around these days that would be suitable for my existing model collection. Warhammer Fantasy Battle itself was effectively killed off by GW a few years ago, but that’s turned out to be a blessing in disguise in a way, as there are now a number of free and probably better-written rules alternatives. Below are the systems I’ve been looking at and my current brief thoughts about them… Note I’ve not played any of these yet (at least not recently, in the case of Armies of Arcana) but I feel I can get quite a good impression from reading the rules and my own experiences with wargames previously in most cases.
Another nice thing about this situation, it looks pretty reasonable to have fantasy models, units and indeed whole armies that can be used for all of these systems at once. Some things might need to be placed on a different base at times, but I can plan around that myself and use spare or temporary bases to easily swap certain models that require it between different systems. But the vast majority of my existing models won’t require that for these systems (if it did, I would discount it as a possibility for me to use).
The Ninth Age. This is basically Warhammer Fantasy Battle 8th edition but updated and fixed a bit, and it’s all available for free download. Active community effort to build and improve these rules, and they’ve just released their 2nd edition “gold” book. What’s a shame for me though is that there are still lots of longstanding problems from WH with its strange turn sequence, units moving erratically different speeds at times and overall very gamified ‘chess-like taking pieces’ mechanics. Individual model level rules means lots of min/maxing of unit sizes, alignments, character positioning, equipment etc. Reams of minutiae which I get quite tired of personally. It is definitely unbalanced at the model & unit choice levels (lots of stuff is questionably costed, army lists have blatantly strong best to use and conversely bad never or rarely use stuff) which is one of my biggest issues with WH. Despite this it appears to be quite balanced at army vs army level (ie: two players taking the best lists they can). Rules are well designed for tournament play. Magic toned down a lot from WFB & WH special characters removed. There’s also some nice Quick Starter rules and armies and some nice new models with new companies supporting it – even though the system itself supports any models as long as they are on the correct bases.
Warhammer Armies Project (an unofficial WFB 9th Ed). Again, basically WFB 8th but updated and fixed a bit. Seems to be less popular than 9th Age though. Has all the Games Workshop style fluff and army books, but all available for free pdf downloads now, which is great. Has the special characters from WH still. I think it’s probably less balanced and more random and swingy than T9A.
Warhammer Age of Sigmar. The current GW ‘fantasy’ game. Basically skirmish level battle game (I think: about 15-40 models total per side) set in a post-apocalyptic WH setting. I had discounted this entirely until I discovered there is still quite a lot of crossover of models and armies still and apparently you CAN play AoS with square-based fantasy models too, so I will take a closer look at it at some point.
Armies of Arcana. Dead system currently (this link is the only relatively active thing I could find), but I still have old rulebooks and could still play it. Very good semi-simultaneous turn sequence and much more realistic battle system than anything WH based (two cavalry units can charge into each other rather than one ‘winning’ the charge somehow for example). Very different to WH, archers really powerful and expensive for example. Units and armies are more generic though, eg. every infantry unit feels similar for example, defined more by weapons than type of troop, and armies are only a few stat points differences at times, as a result of very few “unique rules”. It’s a bit broken competitively at the army vs army level if making a ‘best list to win’, as any army can take any monster and some are very silly as the formula for calculating points can be min/maxed. A few annoying-to-play rules like all units being able to free-skirmish formation which is no fun to move the models (T9A removed free-skirmish completely. Everything moves in unit blocks now, skirmishers just wider apart).
Kings of War. Unit based rules rather than individual models, but does have some individual heros & varied unit sizes. Much more streamlined rules than WH, designed for much faster and larger games. Only the base rules and some of the army units are available for free so I can’t see exactly how many units can really be matched with old WH models but it uses the same base sizes and looks easy to make many equivalents from the ones I can access currently. Tempted to buy the full rules for this too and maybe some extra models, but should probably give it a try first as it’s different enough that I can’t really tell how it will feel to play just from a read. It appears to be quite gamified though, to the extent that your models only fight at all on your turn for example.
Battleground Fantasy Warfare. I have a few old decks for this, and they are releasing new cards and potentially a new edition in 2019. This game is designed for cards rather than miniatures, but I think it would be quite possible to convert it to use minis too. Fixed size unit based rules rather than individual models, so as long as you have correct movement tray sizes, any models can do. No individual heros & not all the units map nicely to old WH models but there’s likely something reasonably close in most examples I have. Complex & strategic “order system” rules where you have to write down a battle plan for all your units and use command points to make changes to what your units are doing. Some kind of simultaneous turn system too, so I believe it will be much less gamified feeling than WH derivatives. I think it could be a really interesting system but it would take some getting used to and I wonder if armies & units may feel quite generic and lacking in uniqueness like AoA over time.
There’s a few others I’ve come across too but don’t seem to be as suitable as any of these for the models we have. What do you make of my thoughts here, and do you know of any other systems I’ve not considered?
One extra point to make is that I’m probably far less agonistic about miniatures wargaming than I would be about some other forms of gaming. I don’t really anticipate wanting to play at a highly competitive level or want to enter tournaments or anything like that, I’m far more likely to just play very casually with a few friends. By their nature, tabletop wargames are a bit more ‘fuzzy’ for rules and tend to be more random too. However I still really value well-written and good game systems, and ones that support viable tournament play and attempt to be well balanced, usually mean they are much better games to play in general, even casually. I also believe that as you’re going to spend years and years painting and modelling the units and scenery for these kinds of games, having good rules actually matters more rather than less. Having games be poorly balanced and buggy is bad when it comes to some digital component in a videogame, but it’s even worse when it relegates huge swathes of your own creative work redundant!
57 thoughts on “Musings on current fantasy battle miniature wargame systems”
I’ve had a bit more of a looksee at the Age of Sigmar rules btw, but there’s loads I don’t like about it. Standard GW stuff of twisting your arm to buy all the newest & greatest despite the “free rules” offers online. It would be just about possible to play a game using only what I have and the free rules, but there’s no way I could field anything that would be competitive with their new stuff, which has all the stupidly-good new rules and stuff.
Also surprisingly, it does actually play with some pretty big armies too. I did a mock up test list out of stuff I own for their “standard” game size (2000 points for a 6′ x 4′ table game) and it was still over 100 models… all having to be moved 1 by 1 with no block units or movement trays possible of course.. so errrgh. No thanks! Moving every model individually was one of the things I hated about big 40k games even as a teenager!
All the old Warhammer armies are now broken down into smaller AoS factions. Orcs & Goblins are split across about 8 different factions now, High Elves similarly a mess and Bretonnia don’t even exist any more… But you CAN still use them like you can use any old stuff, you just get the super crap basic rules for them and none of the “combo” options. … which matters a lot, as the game appears to be (and comments I’ve seen back this up mostly) that a huge amount of the game is list-building strong ‘combos’ and the like – basically quite similar to Magic TG on a strategy level – you need to bring a strong list to compete, as well as get lucky & play well ofc.
So, going with the Magic analogy, the kind of lists I could build from existing models would be all Common magic cards (with a few Uncommons) and going against a list/deck stacked with more powerful Rare cards you won’t really have a chance.
It didn’t become better with the Gloomspite Gitz I think. Normal Goblins are not even in GWs shop any more and most factions that have not gotten new books are next to useless. The biggest problem for me is though, that most people tend to get angry if I use my square bases. I try to play it like I have round ones and space them out some more, but its not the same thing. For the other systems you mentioned: I didn’t consider 9th Age for a long time, but since they have a finished edition with no major changes coming for at least a few years, free rules and an eye for balancing I’m pretty sympathetic towards them. I know some people who play it and intend to try it.
By far my favourite system at the moment is Kings of War though. With the introduction of Vanguard as a kind of Mordheim that can be connected with the bigger games even more so. I played a lot of Kings of war recently with people who had their minis dusting in boxes for some time because they didn’t want to play AoS. It’s really fast and streamlined and it’s not so much to remember and to look at. In my opinion 9th Age has a pretty serious tone, trying to pull in the hardcore crowd, but that can be pretty intimidating just by the amount of stuff you’ll have to remember. Kings of war to me is much more casual game friendly, and if I want to relax during a game and maybe drink a beer during it, I’d personally always pick it. Oh and even if there are units you can’t use (which I haven’t encountered yet, only thing hard to use would be an Arachnarok because it’s base is too big, but even that’s pretty much allowed by the rules), most stuff could be used as stuff from other armies and be used as allies. Hence I play Goblins with Orcs as allies most of the time to conserve me the nostalgic feel of having an Orcs and Goblin army 🙂
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Thank you so much for your thoughts collectinggreen (and nice resource on your site btw, I’ll be using it one day I am sure, atm I have tons of models to paint anyway! 😀 ).
Yup everything you’ve said here seems to back up what I’ve discovered over the weeks since I made this post too, agree 100% with your points here.
I think T9A isn’t too bad to get to grips with if you know Warhammer too, but it has way too many problems that are hangovers from that system too. And it’s certainly less “user friendly” due to all the rules being spread across many pdfs etc.
I get the impression eventually they will improve things (assuming they survive for a long time), but the issue they have is a disparate fanbase who all want different things – some like me, would like way more drastic changes, whereas others want it to be “just like WH” and especially the ones who still want it to play like Herohammer and suit skirmish style single models and monster based lists, are a big problem clashing with the opinions of folks like me who’d like a much more balanced soft-counter style of game centered around infantry blocks.
This year I hopefully will get to play both T9A and KoW though 🙂 So I will be able to talk more about it then too!
Oh, I have a lot of minis unpainted as well, but since I’ve had this huge collection of bookmarks I thought I’d put it to use 😀 I’m not even halfway done with just the listing and that was only meant as a short project to provide utility to people like me 😀
You posted some more criticism towards KoW below, and I know some people as well who don’t like it. The complaint I heard most often was that it is too static in the movement phase. And some people can’t get used to units being units and not individual models and no heroes being able to be part of the unit. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up myself, but I was frustrated with one of my groups only playing AoS which I don’t fancy at all, and I got the rules as a promotional thing for buying stuff for free… I gotta say I read some of the first edition rules and they were just as convoluted as Warhammer, so I’m happy they streamlined it.
But when deciding on a system I think it depends mostly on the environment you play in, a lot of small games like avatars of wars stuff or the one from shieldwolf (war is coming, the beta is downloadable on their website) won’t take up any time soon I fear just because they are so small and you wouldn’t likely find opponents…
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You probably already know this, but T9A has a miniatures library too btw. Not as comprehensive as yours, but I think the community can add things to it too if you ever fancied adding to it with your huge knowledge of miniatures 🙂 https://www.the-ninth-age.com/lexicon/index.php?lexicon/472-orcs-and-goblins-o-g/
For now I’m not playing anything at all, just painting and looking at what rules are out there, but I totally understand your point re: having a community. However I’m very happy doing my own thing and building my own community a bit too if I have to – when I last played Armies of Arcana 10 years ago, it was mostly only myself and one opponent, but we still had plenty of fun trying different lists and things – so yeah, especially when it comes to wargames it’s less important to me as there’s so much you can do even if you only have a small group. But there’s definitely a fair few KoW groups around the UK already of course.
I actually posted that KoW stuff as everything else I could find about it was so positive! I actually wanted to hear some critique so I could get a better idea of it. Lots of those things I really like though – I much prefer unit-based rules than tying everything to single models for example.
I will check out Shieldwolf’s rules too. I’d not noticed that! But I am following (and backing) their current Goblin kickstarter. Fingers-crossed it gets funded in the last few days.
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Yes, I know, but somehow I think it’s pretty lacking 😀 When I’m finished with my list I’ll put out some more reviews, which they don’t have. And I really don’t like assoziating models with just one battlefield role like they do, just because it is pretty game reliant this way.
With wargaming in general I’d be happy to have as many people around as in the UK. I am quite lucky for Germanys standards, since I have two groups where I’m active but they’re pretty conservative with new games…
Yeah, the prefix “War is coming” on all their Kickstarters refers to that. I really hope that as well. I liked the concept in the first place and it became a lot better this time. It’s a shame that the normal Goblins won’t make it probably (at least not as a stretch goal).
A new challenger is coming your way…
Warlords of Erehwon:
It doesn’t appear to be 100% suitable for me as it’s aimed at smaller scale ‘warband’ battles (20-60 models per side) and appears to be individual model level rules, and so with no block units or movement trays meaning miniatures-moving hell could occur if you attempt to scale it up… however it is written by my old mate Rick Priestley, and is based on a well-proven rules system which appears to have some good ideas in it (use of D10s, orders for units), and looks like it uses similarly based models to everything else I have, so it’s definitely one to keep an eye on too for me.
I stumbled across another ruleset I’d forgotten about previously, that I could potentially play, albeit with a fair bit more modification for the models I own: Warmaster. Again, it’s not supported by GW any more, but it has a living fan-made ruleset called Warmaster Revolution
The rules are intended for “bases” of 40mm x 20mm for 10mm scale models, but as with Battleground, as long as I changed everything to a suitable equivalent base scale, it could work out ok.
Update latest for me 🙂
Having an active forum on their home page, it’s been easy to read more about the pros and cons of The Ninth Age system – as as noted above, I could already see lots of issues for my taste in gaming that were holdovers from WHFB anyway. However for Kings of War it was much harder to find good information. There are some very active facebook groups for KoW, but ofc that’s an utterly awful format for discussion and it’s hard to find or even follow anything on there.
But I did find some interesting comments, some of which that were critical of KoW – and from players that held some of the same kinds of criticisms I have with regards to T9A also, so I thought I would note some of these comments, good and bad, here for reference:
“If you are looking for more infantry-centralized realistic warfare there are other games for that. Kings of war felt more infantry-centric when I played it but that was a good long while ago.”
“Kings of war is really not a good game for this sort of play, it simply doesn’t have the mechanics for fun tactical R&F gameplay. T9A does, and the only reason we are discussing changes to mechanics to fix it is because it has been caused by stat-inflation and general power-creep specifically in terms of killing power, which is impossible to reverse without people kicking up a storm about nerfs.”
“Kings of war is a really boring game. The movement phase is incredibly one dimensional, which makes the mechanics degenerate. No real skill required, just like smashing heroes face-first into everything.”
(I asked this guy for more explanation of his thoughts on this and he was very kind to provide some:
“First: no wheels. Every unit pivots. This makes it much easier to move around things during the movement phase.
Second: You only attack on your turn. So getting the ‘charge’, so to speak, is really powerful.
Third: Most decent units do enough damage to seriously threaten at least a waver result on the morale test off one combat. So even if you don’t break, you can get stuck in a situation where your unit just sits there and they get to try again. IIRC, it also has ‘always fails’ and ‘always succeeds’ results on morale tests, which means dice can completely swing things on just that one roll.
Fourth: No overrun or similar mechanics, so you can literally chaff by putting a unit in front of them and standing right behind it.
Basically, combat seems to degenerate into who can stack the most units sequentially into an area, and gets lucky on when units fail morale tests (either to wavered or to broken). Once a unit wavers its basically just sitting around waiting to break.”
“KoW, is not a very good game for anybody who wants in depth, tactical battle game of R&F units.”
Yet another new ruleset has been brought to my attention too, specifically it’s mean to be good for infantry based RnF fantasy combat. A Song of Fire and Ice – The Miniatures Game
I’m still scanning through the rules for this. Units are, like in KoW, Battleground and Warmaster purchased as units on larger base sizes. Again, with a reasonable conversion to a base size of a movement tray, it appears it could be played with any miniatures at all. Of course the big problem with this game is that ASoFaI factions and units do not match very well to my existing miniatures at all, so it’s not especially suitable for my needs really – however I will keep an eye on it and it could still be very interesting to play one day for me.
As noted above by collectinggreen, there’s another system also aimed at rank & file fantasy models by Shieldwolf Miniatures, called “Shieldwolf: War is Coming”.
The rules are in a free beta state at this time, and can be found here:
English is clearly not their first language however, so it can be a little bit tricky to follow these rules at the moment, and also, they contain large amounts of storyline “fluff” amongst the rules, which makes them very difficult to quickly read and get an impression of.
I’ve also just come across the Runewars Miniatures Game
Now it seems this is already “dead” in so far as it didn’t sell well and they haven’t continued to release more factions (or rules) for it, and presumably it would be hard to find opponents for it too in this case. However I’m still somewhat intrigued to see what the rules are like. It could well be possible to pick it up very cheaply and even re-purpose the models from it potentially. But I’ve also heard the miniature quality isn’t that high, so I’d have to research more before bothering with it.
Just discovered yet another fantasy miniatures ruleset: Dragon Rampant.
It is designed for much smaller skirmish games however, so isn’t really something I’m after right now. But I wanted to add it here for reference. It appears to be quite aimed at a quite ‘casual play’ audience, but is quite well received in reviews I could find for it.
I just got to skim read the rules for this today too, and my prior assessment was correct. It’s only aimed at super casual games, and a small warband skirmish type of game. No ranks, flanks or even set base sizes. It’s basically a free format “decide your own abilities for your models” game. Lots of very random “”fun”” tables for things like your General’s abilities in the game (which if you roll badly can be detrimental) make it totally unsuitable for anything more than chucking models on a table and see what happens type of games.
It’s also amusingly incredibly British. “Sod Off Spell” being the anti-magic spell being my favourite example of this!
on The Ninth Age forums also brought “Hail Caeser” to my attention. Obviously it’s a historical system, but I’ve heard it has interesting rules too:
Oathmark is another system where I’d already seen their models (and they look pretty decent if not all to my taste), and they also have a rules system coming out this year:
More notes on Oathmark. It’s sounding really interesting, especially using D10s, not the extremely limiting design of D6s…
Just to note, I’ve read about some signifcant issues with the rules of Oathmark, it does seem to be primarily geared to very casual & maybe narrative play rather than have a tight competitive set of rules.
Yet another new one to check out potentially.
Battle Valor Fantasy (designed for 15mm scale models)
God of Battles (by Wargames Foundry), although it seems to be out of print now?
Lords and Lands
De Bellis Antiquitatis
Historical wargame rules for ancients to medieval. A fantasy version is apparently “The Hordes of the Things”
But there seems to be very little current on these old systems now, and doubtful they would be suitable for me.
L’Art De La Guerre
Historical wargames rules for ancients to medieval. Somewhat based on De Bellis Antiquitatis I believe.
A “lightweight medieval wargame”
Update – just did a bit more research on the Unofficial WFB 9th edition, aka Warhammer Armies Project. Whilst it is doing constant updates and has some nice rules that I even prefer to some of the T9A base rules at a surface glance at least, and supports almost all GW current models (eg: Orc Maw Krushas, Gore-gruntas etc) it’s also clear that they do not intend it to be a “competitive” system in any manner. There are only incredibly vague rules for base sizes – despite how much they matter – you could literally base even Orcs on smallest legal 20x20mm bases if you wanted to according to the rules. Also the Magic rules had some incredibly silly stuff too with really swingy spells and so many tables to roll on and such. All silly and arguably “flavourful” but really not the kind of thing you’d want to be dealing with in anything other than the fluffiest of battles really.
I like Godslayer by Megalith Games. Great looking minis and game mechanics that provide a realistic feel.
You should be able to get free rules pdf. Normally you need profile cards that come with minis but there are a few profile cards in pdf so you can use proxy minis to try the game.
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Thank you Alan for the comment and the link! It does look like an interesting game, although not really for my requirements right now – as I’m wanting to play mass battle fantasy wargames with Orcs & Goblins specifically for now. One day maybe though! Cheers 😀
Yet another one I had never come across before. Mayhem.
Sounds like it would meet my requirements, but there’s not too much information about it and clearly not much of a playerbase either.
Checking out Mayhem more, and there are a couple of things which I suspect I wouldn’t like about that game, and also are likely the reasons it doesn’t seem to have taken off especially as a system.
1. There are no “standard” army lists in the book, instead you are given unit construction rules and points calculation systems to enable you to make your own. There are some “semi-official” lists here. But apparently even those use house-rules!
2. I’ve yet to see a points calculation system that couldn’t be gamed and broken in anything like this, I actually don’t think it’s even possible to make one that wouldn’t break, without it being extremely limited.
What’s my big problem with these things? Well, if you are happy to house rule, home brew, re-balance and make up tons of new things to play a wargame like this amongst just your close group of friends, then great, all is well. However, I want much more than that, I want to be able to play a game with someone new and have us both be on the same playing field and understanding (without having to hand someone a massive house rule and army list pack to read up front and likely disagree on!). Or go to a gaming club or even a tournament and know what game I am actually going to be playing and that my models and list will fit that.
I almost feel like “open” systems like this don’t really provide a “full game” in some ways, and it’s a bit like they’ve ducked out of doing all the really hard stuff to make the game completely work. It’s a bit like a common ‘argument’ I come across where people argue that a game is “fun for them” or “balanced for them” at their playing level, and that can be great and very true, but it doesn’t mean that game is good when you scale it up into a larger group playing it.
Maybe I have a weird perspective on this coming from being a big competitive videogamer too, but I suspect I am not alone at all in this, and I also suspect it’s the reason why none of these ‘open’ type of wargame systems ever develop a large community around them, as by design they will only ever spring up very small very localised groups of like-minded individuals who are even playing the same game as anyone else really anyway.
Discovered another new one to me on twitter just now too:
Rally Round the King by Rebel Minis:
There seem to be some doubts about the rules clarity etc. though. Probably not for me as that’s one of my most important demands in a game:
Another system I discovered thanks to the Kings of War forum is
“Age of Fantasy: Regiments” from One Page Rules.
And it’s exactly that, only one page of rules.
Probably too far on the simple end for my taste, and of course with only one page of rules there’s no way it is written to the level of clarity I personally seek, and of course it starts with an appeal to “common sense” which is your guarantee of terrible rules writing, but still!
(“Whenever the rules are unclear use common sense” … yeah, one of my key catchphrases/beliefs is that ‘common sense is NOT common’)
It looks like this been updated a LOT during 2020, and now has expanded rules, army lists etc. So may well be worth a 2nd look!
And yup, into 2021 and they are doing really good things expanding this into what I would consider a “real” system now, and it’s serious competition for something like The 9th Age Essence of War (that I help write ofc!):
Another new system I discovered on discussions on The 9th Age forum is “The Genesys Project”
“a fully customizable tabletop miniatures game where you create your own faction by selecting your own Traits and Abilities for your Faction/Species and form your Unit Classes (classes are unit types with different abilities). Gameplay is dynamic and engaging allowing you to gain awards and progress your faction through the Ages of Genesys to create your own narrative.”
There’s not a huge amount of (free) information about for it yet as it’s very new, however, from photos at least, it appears to be 100% geared towards round bases, and appears to be yet another smaller scale skirmish system, so right now I don’t have any real interest in it.
Another interesting system I recently heard about is Swordpoint.
The problem here is, that it’s a historical system, and so doesn’t really support other races like Orcs & Goblins! However their basing rules have potential to convert some things & do some “counts-as” etc. It also sounds like a version 2 is fairly soon to publish (perhaps in 2020).
As promised, here I am!! These one is just a random message… Wow man, your blog looks really cooolll!! One of these days, I will surely find the time to start to read it. Your articles are quite massive, so I really need to take some time to read them, with the right dose of attention.. You are a real veteran. I mean, for what I’ve seen, your knowledge looks really impressive!! Kudos to you!
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Haha thank you for reading and commenting, and for the kind words blackwolf!
I think we’re pretty similar regarding wargaming experience really, played in WFB 4th edition and then haven’t played much since (although I played for about a year during 6th edition too).
Yup I tend to only post rarely, but make big posts when I have the time to!
Yeah, but your knowledge is definetly vaster than mine. I feel like I came out from a cave, realising that the world has changed a lot, while I was inside. 🙂
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haha, well that’s exactly the same as me 2 years ago. I had wanted to get back into miniatures for a while, got my paints all sorted out again, and then discovered a LOT had changed! 🙂
Ok, today I read the article and the comment section.
I don’t really know a lot of the games you have posted in the section comment. So I will talk about the few I know, because I’ve played them or because I have manuals at home, but unfortunately never played them.
So.. Let’s start. For me Warhammer, especially the 4th edition was really cool. I’m a fan of complicated stuff(for example I like D&D third edition or Pathfinder) and I remeber that make list with units, powerful heroes, objects and manage how can heroes fit in units and decide if equip them with objects for them or for the unit was a real fun!
Spend tons of evenings wondering, play a couple of games, don’t like the result, keep something and change something.. I really was blown away by the part of the minutiae that you don’t like. 🙂
The coolt side of WH is that little things makes huge differences, but you have to squeeze your brain a lot. I really understand that it’s not what everybody search in a game and I undestand collectingreen when, in a comment about King of Wars, talks about the fact that you can play with a beer in total relax. For me WH was the opposite, I mean for me was relaxing, but in a very different way!!! 😀
For me squeeze my brain was the relaxig part. 😀 D: But obviously I undesrtand him and I respect his opinion, that is really rightful. 🙂
Age of Sigmar:
never tried, but even I would sound really harsh, I would say: Gw has realised that the age of his buyers was freaking fall down, from 20 and over years old people to 10 years old children. Warhammer was too complex and his retrò taste about the models (the knights, elfs and orcs.. classic stuff that was the core of fantasy since is birth) wasn’t appealing at all for the new generations. So make boombastic models, less rules and sell the stuff to the new generations of players that are grown in the social media era (if something is longer than 2 words is difficult) and raised by animes, steampunk and a lot of new influences, that are more trendy thata the old dwarf with an hammer or a knight on his horse..
Shake it vigorously and ….. Age of sigmar! The fantasy game for space marines miniatures!!!
What?? It’s me that I’m wrong, saiyng that they looks like fantasy space marines?? Ok, sorry, my fault.. Furthermore all the gigantic stuff allows them to make big moneys, selling only a miniature.. Quite smart..
Ok, you have undestand that I really have bad feelings for him. 🙂 And my beloved Bretonnia totally disappeared, because was the most difficult army to adapt to the boombastic new style of the game. Don’t take me wrong, the models are freaking good. Nothing to say about them. But I cannot really feel the vibe of them. They are not my cup of thea at all. Besides Bretonnia, I’ve played dwarves and so I’m a very conservative person. 😀 😀 So for me, the old atmopshere of classic fantasy is untouchable.
Now I must go, but I will come back very soon for a couple of others game.This message is a first part.
For the others game, I will have definetly better words. 🙂
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I think The 9th Age really keeps a lot of the feeling of the huge detail of Warhammer Fantasy Battle, but in a MUCH better written game, with a lot more balanced armies and points, much clearer and better written rules etc. Honestly, for the things you enjoyed about WFB 4th edition (and maybe later?) I think you will find this a really satisfying system. For me it does actually hit on most of the good parts of WFB for me, but sadly also keeps a lot of the downsides too.
However I am still a huge supporter of the system, and I am actually a volunteer now on 2 of the teams that help write The 9th Age. I’m involved with Product Search (finding miniatures) and also writing the Quick Starter rules (although we’re hopefully re-naming the whole rules to be something better soon) – the streamlined rules that are still similar to the full game, but cut down a bit for new players or for people who want smaller and/or quicker gaming experiences.
So as you can imagine, I am much more supportive overall of T9A as I was when I wrote this post long ago when I didn’t know much about it other than a quick read of the rules from their website. There is a really nice community there and it’s really cool to me to be able to get involved and also contribute and make a difference to the game – it’s so different to a commercial product. So, highly recommended.
I can empathise with so many of your feelings here, they are the same as mine. I think to summarise my feelings on AoS, the rules and especially the models, it would be “this is not for me”!
I wiil definetly look at 9th Age. For what I’ve quickly seen, it was the one that intrigues me more. Wow, man, what you’ve just said me, it’s really cool. It’s a couple of days that I was on their site searching for miniatures, so probably I’ve found a lot of stuff thanks to you!! 🙂 The work that the community put together is massive, you can feel that is made and for hardcore supporters! These type of free big works open to everybody, is really something that makes me think that there is hope for the human race. 😀 Seriously, make so much things and at a certain level of quality, and keep it free, is really commendable! 🙂 Time is precious and very few use their for others, without nothing in change.
Happy to hear that you agree with me about AoS. Tons of people told me the same old stories.. You’re a dinosaur, you live in the past..blah blah blah..These are not argumentations, it’s only because you want to justify something. And however, I would play what I want to play! I would not adapt, only because times changes. This thing really irritates me. If the new stuff is not your taste, you don’t have to like it at any cost, only because it’ s new. It’s a contemporary feeling that I don’t stand at all. 🙂
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I really agree with you regarding a volunteer project like this – I think things like this and wikipedia etc are really impressive for the same reasons as you.
Fortunately I don’t really know anyone who plays AoS so no-one has ever really suggested it to me. But I do still intend to try it out one day – as long as I can find a friend who already has all the rules and things and can introduce me to it, I don’t want to spend money on it at all at this point. You may want to look up the “Cult of the New”. I’ve usually heard that term associated with boardgames or videogames, but I suspect it applies to miniatures wargames a lot too from what you’re saying here.
“The cult of the new” is an expression that I never heard about, but I think that totally described not only people in boardgames, videogames or miniatures, I think that is really describing a certain attuitude, that today people have in general. People are obsessed by new stuff, it doesn’t matter their quality. If they really have some. I find people talking like this about music, clothes, tv series, books and so on.. There are people changin shoes, t shirts, hats and jackets every year or even six/four months, because now there is new stuff and think that their one is old.. Mah.. In the kids is even worst.. It’s one of the thousands mental illness of the modern world.. However, since today I will use this expression. Resume everything perfectly. 😉
Yeah, don’ give your money to GW for AoS. I’ll do the same. 🙂
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I undesrtand that the post was about the mechanics, but I keep this rock in the shoe about Age of Sigmar for too long.. 🙂 🙂
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Ok, part two. 🙂
Battleground Fantasy Warfare seems intriguing. Furthermore you don’t need miniatures, that if strip you from the pleasure of the hobby, makes the game definetly cheaper and more “ready to use”. A lot of people will try wargames, but the fact that they have to buy miniatures, stopped them for various reasons. Economicals ones, the fact that miniatures make them feel like they are playing something childish, the fact that they doesn’t have the patience to assemble and paint them, or just to assemble something… At the end of the day, I think that this game is doubly unlucky, beacuse a lot of people in wargaming want stuff with miniatures and people that are not in wargaming, simply doesn’t search for this type of game, beacuse they need to be introduced. And usually people that play, plays games with miniatures. So they introduce people to miniatures game. A spiral of unlucky circumstances. 🙂
Mayhem: what you think about it, is totally shareable. I totally agree. Sometimes peole want simply go to a shop and play with new faces. But you need exactly what you have underlined. A game that is complete and egual for everybody. You’re totally right, saying that this type of game unable themselves to raise strong and solid communities of players.
However, on their page they say:
“Not just for wargamers, MAYHEM is perfect for roleplayers looking to integrate a customizable set of mass combat rules into their campaigns and adventures. ”
This kind of crossover has been faced in a lot of contemporary rpg and I think that is something that always create some real problems. Putting two things that are so different togheter, is always finishing in something messy or incomplete. On a level of videogames, if you have played Spellforce III, they have been able to put togheter roleplay game and strategy, even if I’m not a great fan of games where you produced single men and at the end, you have a bunch of single man/creature troops. In fact if they will try to mix together rpg and strategy, like for example Total War titles, it would be unmanageable.
Probably the two things cannot stick together. However, I have would spend some words about it, because it’s something that I’ve thought about a lot, during the years. This type of crossover, I mean.
the idea is cool, but make something fully customizable on a game with lot of units, I think it would require a gigantic corebook and probably people commit suicide before finish it. 😀 😀
Age of fantasy regiments:
your statement his hilarious and unfortunately, totally true!!! 😀 People will finish to kill themselves and long time friendships will finish in hatred and promises of vengeance. 🙂 Common sense, ahahahah, the greatest chimera of all times!
Man, you have posted tons of stuff with the additions of the comments. I would have something to say about Kings of war, because it’s a big and renowned game, but never really play it or read the rules. But in the nearest future I will definetively give him a chance, if I can.
However, I’ve discovered a lot of games that I totally ignored.. so thanks! 🙂
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You’re welcome and your comments made me laugh a lot – I’m glad you agree on so much, and have discovered a lot via this older “reference” post 😀 I will keep updating the comments here if I find anything new – also do let me know if you find any other fantasy games I’m missing here.
I think you’re 100% right that Battleground: FW is only ever going to be a niche product for the exact reasons you specify. However it’s cool that the modern internet era of crowdfunding allows a game such as this to exist! I have all their new edition rules now, and I am really hoping to play this, but of course the circumstances of 2020 have meant I’ve not been able to actually play any wargames all year now, barring a tiny test game of Kings of War with a few units (I’ve written another post about that). I do think B:FW is the MOST different system to what you maybe familiar with for old Warhammer Fantasy Battle, however it’s also still really interesting to me because it is so different. It potentially represents more of a “battlefield general” view of a conflict, rather than playing it more like a game of chess where you are in perfect control of your troops at all times. It has some elements taken from historical wargaming that I really like the idea of. Now I just need to play it to find out!
I also think you raise a very strong point about how RPGs and wargames whilst inhabiting quite “close” spaces in terms of how some gamers perceive them (I in fact discovered both things at the same time when I was a kid, as they often are marketed and sold in the same places to the same people) – are actually very different things, and what will work well for one really does not work well for the other.
I definitely recommend checking out Kings of War too. Again, it is quite different to old WFB but in many ways I find to be good changes – I like the emphasis on units rather than single models for example. However I suspect it maybe slightly TOO streamlined and too much like a boardgame or ‘chess’ for my tastes. Mantic have now released some parts of the 3rd edition rules for free too. You can find them (and other free rules for their other games) here: https://www.manticgames.com/mantic-games-free-rules/
Like with T9A and B:FW, I really want to PLAY some more Kings of War to find out fully what I think about it though! I will of course write up my thoughts on this site when I do get to play real-life tabletop games again, one day 🙂
I will do, but I really think that you will discover something sooner than me. 😉
B:FW is really intriguing, but I have to admit that I don’t own nothing of it. But it’s the one that catch me the most after I ‘ve read your article.Yes, the great problems of this type of games is finding someone to play with. When I was a kid was really a huge problem and now is even bigger.
You say the true. They were sold to the same type of persons, but now it’s quite changed, I think. I mean, I know a lot of people that plays videogames and wargames, but not the opposite. A lot of gamers don’t consider board game. They have spread a lot, but not as much as videogaming, that since some years has become a real trendy thing. Curious, because videogames own more to boardgames and not the contrary. But lots of videogamers watch boardgames players with some superiority or sufficiency.. And it’s the same against roleplayers. I mean, I’ve seen lots of kids define themselves nerds, wear certain type of glasses acting a certain way and play videogames and then watch to you with a certain ironic smile, when you say you play boardgames or rpgs. Even if they are the ones, that plays similar stuff on a console. When I was younger, we were all a great family. Now it’s clear that is not and these new generations are the GW target for Aos. 😀 😀 So videogames and boardgames feed each other on a creative level, but their fanbase for some reason, is not so strictly linked. Just my thoughts about it.
Ready to read it! 😉
Out of this contest.. But I’m curious. 🙂 On flickr I’ve called myself blackwolf777, because I’m always blackwolf or blackwolf777 (like for example on bandcamp and other places..) You put so much 7 in your name for some reason, or it’s simply a sort of coincidence??
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I’m fortunate to have a few friends I am sure I can intrigue enough to at least try out Battleground: FW with me one day (when we’re able to meet). I think anyone who is happy to play a miniatures wargame with me would hopefully be willing to at least give it a try 🙂 But yeah, getting large communities of gamers together is very tough, and I agree there are more “cultural divides” these days too.
The numbers in my “online nick name” have been there for a very long time and do indeed mean something! I used to run a web site called ‘The 77077 Home Page’ even too 😀 But I got fed up with managing the web server and domain name registration stuff so sadly that site isn’t online any more.
Well this is embarrassing as I just discovered I actually own a copy of these rules but had totally forgotten about them until I stumbled across them on my shelf:
Vis Magica (printed in 2004)
Described as a fantasy version of the Vis Bellica Ancient Rules (not a system I know of myself, but Vis Bellica seems to be a little bit better known).
I never played it at the time (probably bought this not too long after it was printed), and it’s out of print now and seemingly a completely dead system as I could find nothing really active about it online. A skim through the rulebook reminded me it treats groups of models as unit “bases” (nice!) and you show their formation (close, skirmish etc) by how many models you put onto a base and in what arrangement. It has the potential (if you make up the correct base sizes) to work with almost any models, and indeed is designed to work with multiple scales of models too.
Very much more like a historical wargame where the formations, morale and orders of bases are more important than ‘stats’ although there did seem to be quite a lot of special rules for very large monsters.
It is actually a complete game with army lists and points values and such too, even if the lists are quite small and generic fantasy – that’s fine for me. But it’s so different to anything I am familiar with, I find it really hard to imagine how it is to play from a rules skim-read only, but I’d still be interested to give it some dedicated time and even a play if base arrangement work doesn’t prove too arduous (unsure right now).
One review I could find was critical of it:
“Vis Magica = Modifier Madness and fiddly rules. Really wanted to love this war game, but it needs a heavy dose of streamlining in its design.”
which seems likely to me given how many tables and modifiers there appear to be in the rules!
It also seems to have been compared more with Warmaster than ‘traditional’ 28mm systems.
Another one I mentioned earlier but found much more about while researching on Vis Magica online is:
“Lords and Lands”
Again designed to work with any scale of historical & fantasy miniatures, and armylists are available for free online as noted above. Given the small amount of stats per unit type, I suspect it will play out fairly ‘generic’ style as per Vis Magica. But still, potentially interesting and does seem to have had some activity in the last few years at least!
On a discovery roll today. At this point I really need to do a new article about all of these systems… however I will wait until one day in the (hopefully not too distant) future when I have actually played a few of them so I can give some more in depth commentary on some too!
Legions of Battle
Seems to be more current than some other systems, but still I couldn’t exactly find a hive of activity for it online.
Unit based “mass battle” system adaptable to any base sizes (so presumably any scale of models) sounds good, but a generic “comprehensive points system allows the design of troops as you think they should be represented” sounds really bad. See comments elsewhere about why such points calculators never work unless they have some very strict parameters.
A very good review of it here:
Ok and the mother of all discoveries… Someone else doing the very same analysis as this blog post, on a BGG list.
I will have to contact and talk with them at some point, really interesting stuff here:
Even better in Titles Only view to search:
Another new one!
Fantastic Battles by Irregular Wars (need both to ever search and find it! What a terrible name for a ruleset!)
It will suffer all the usual pitfalls of trying to be too flexible for everything though with the whole “build your own statline” and “build your own armylist” concepts.
I also suspect from looking at the rules snippets I can see that it may well have quite a lot of vague areas relying on the whole ‘common sense’ things from players, and expectations set from playing lots of other tabletop wargames.