What is it?
Written by Craig Armstrong and published through Lulu, Lord and Lands is framed as a fast-play, unit based, scale agnostic, mass battle* game. It is written with both historical and fantasy games in mind.
As the author says, the game was inspired by Microworld's 6mm fantasy ranges, but LaL is not written in anyway to be restricted by those ranges, nor is is written specifically for 6mm armies. All distances are measured in base widths, so as long as the opposing armies are based using the same conventions, there are no limits to the scale of miniatures used.
There is no individual figure removal. Instead, units have set hit points which they can sustain before the unit breaks and is removed from play. Units can be rallied by commanders and can also be pushed back in a melee. There are rules for missile units making closing shots against charging opponents, and rules for evading skirmishers. For me, these are all very nice things to see in a game.
There is command friction. Players dice for pips at the start of a turn and use the pips to activate units. Pips can also be held back and used later to buff a unit's movement (by up to 2BW), their shooting or their melee effectiveness (by up to +2). Players alternate moving units, shooting, and choosing which melees to resolve, so both players are always engaged in the game.
Melee and shooting can be resolved with dice rolls (using a rule of 4+), or by 'dipping' a hand into a bag of chips. Depending on the effectiveness of a unit and modifiers, you might only get to roll one die/make one dip, or you get six or eight rolls/dips, but you will never be asked to roll a whole bucket of dice. Modifiers to attacks impact on the number of roll/dips you make, keeping rolling to hit quite simple. Melees used opposed rolls/dips, so both units have a chance to harm the other.
*Armies are built on a points basis. I have been advised to start with 1000 point armies, but you can clearly play with many more and, in that sense, the game seems very scaleable.
For what it's worth, it looks like 1000 points will by me 13 units and three characters for my Hearthshire militia. You'd get a few less units in an army with more capable fighters.
Pre-made army lists are available as a free download from the author's website, and these seem pretty open and flexible. There are a range of different unresticted troop types in each list, and then one or two units that have a 'Only one unit per 1000 points of the army' type restrictions. Reading over the lists, you can see the clear influence of the Microworld Miniatures ranges, but there are some really nice ideas.
The only thing that made me raise an eyebrow is that some of the movement rates don't seem compatible between lists. Rexunus (human) levy have a move of 4BW, while most cavalry (including Rexunus cavalry) move 5BW. Dwarves only have a 1BW , and gnolls only move 2BW, while viking warriors move 3BW. However, players are permitted (encouraged?) to play around and create their own profiles. There is a pdf unit builder/points calculator that makes tweaking or creating profiles super easy. For my halflings and my son's legion of super evil, I think we will use movement guidelines of 2BW for halflings, dwarves, undead, heavily armoured human foot knights and other slower types, 3BW for most humans, elves and orcs, and 4, 5, or 6 BW for mounted, depending on the miniatures.
I put this to Craig and he responded with the following:
I think you’ve made fair and valid comments dude, if players don’t like movement rates they have the means to change them and adjust points values accordingly. I suppose all I’d say is a movement does not necessarily mean this group of men move 150ft in 3 mins, they also encompass maintaining formation, orders, rough ground etc plus game play and ‘feel’ of the army.
Fair enough. :)
There are seven generic spells, and 14 race specific spells, so if you want magic on the table (and why not have it in a fantasy game!?), you are well catered for with a range of aggressive, defensive and buffing spells.
Oh, and if you are interested in sieges, there are rules for fortifications, buildings and siege equipment - even mining under a wall!
How does it read?
The hardcopy version of the rule book is a well presented 6"x9" softcover, using colour throughout and making use of easy to read fonts.
The rules read very well on the whole. There are a couple of small typos, but they are easily forgiven. After all, I misspelt 'ordnance' throughout Irregular Wars 2nd edition. These things can happen quite easily! However, the author shows a reckless disregard for possessive apostrophes which did cause me to re-read a couple of lines to work out what was being said. That's it though, that is about the limit of my complaints.
Everything seems very logical. and well laid out. There are also sporadic diagrams to illustrate various mechanics. There were no points in the rules that made me scratch my head and wonder at the reasoning.
How does it play?
Not sure yet, I'll let you know!