Sunday, 10 May 2020

Introducing Irregular Wars: Fantastic Battles



In February 2011, I released Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World’s End. Originally inspired by the Elizabethan wars in Ireland, the rules were written to be suitable for all asymmetrical clashes around the fringes of the European world in the 16th and Early 17th centuries. A 2nd edition followed in 2014 which streamlined many of the rules to make the turns flow more smoothly and which earned fan-made supplements to cover ancient, medieval and fantasy genres. Since then, I have written 10 further rules sets and expansions, all published through Ganesha Games.

As I approach the 10th anniversary of writing rules fit for public consumption it feels like the right time to return to the Irregular Wars system. Rather than releasing a 3rd edition of Conflict at the World’s End –which still serves its niche admirably – I have embarked on a more broadly applicable set of rules for fantasy mass-battles, Fantastic Battles. The title is a play on words do you see, ‘cause the genre is fantasy games, and the battles will be fantastic – as in ‘great’ or ‘enjoyable’, or at least a moderately good laugh ... oh, never mind.

Central tenets of Irregular Wars: Fantastic Battles

  • Engaging rules. The rules need to keep both players engaged at all times with randomised initiative and play passing quickly between players.
  • Command friction and fog of war. The rules need to limit the omnipotent control a warlord has over their army and the battlefield conditions.
  • Setting agnostic. The game must be applicable to any fantasy (or even pseudo-historical) settings.
  • Flexible army building. As a game of fantasy battles, why accept restrictions on your fantasy? A flexible army building system allows players to create armies to their own tastes.
  • Scale agnostic using multi-based figures. All measurements are expressed in distance units (u), where 1u is the width of one company base. Any size bases are possible, as long as all companies are based in the same way.
  • No individual figure removal. All units have a footprint and are represented on the table as a complete unit. When a unit loses its resolve to fight, it is removed from the table in its entirety.

In Fantastic Battles, armies consist of a number of characters and companies, custom built to suit the player’s vision of their fantasy faction. For pick-up games, we recommend 500-1000 points per player which should allow for somewhere in the region of 12-24 companies. The company forms the building block of the army. Each company is built using one of seven base profiles and can be allocated up to three distinguishing traits – identical companies may be grouped into larger units which become more robust at the expense of maneuverability. Armies may also be given an additional blanket trait known as a racial trope which applies to all companies of the main race in the army. Each army must be led by a single warlord and may also include a number of other individual characters chosen from captains, magic-users and rogues.

The rules are still in the closed testing phase – the Covid-19 pandemic has really slowed testing down. Over the coming months, I’ll be posting more information on different aspects of the rules, from example armies, to pre-game mishaps, game play, random events, and the campaign system. Do drop me a line or leave a comment below if there are any particular features you’d like me to cover.

19 comments:

  1. I like the "No individual figure removal" idea, question I have on basing is I'm doing my 15mm forces as infantry on 40mm X 40mm square bases with 3 (open order) troops, 4 (order) troops and 6 (close order) troops per base. For cavalry two figures, larger man like infantry like Ogres etc. three per stand on a 50mm x 50mm square base, also single larger beasts dragons etc. Would this work with your system?

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    1. Hi Don,

      We recommend 40x40 squares for 6mm-15mm figures, and your figure count sounds grand. Basing is flexible, but the rules are designed for all units to be on bases of the same width. So ideally, your human-sized troops, ogres, and dragons would all be on bases of the same width.

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    2. My troops are 15mm, but some of the cav figures and elephants, lizards etc. are just too big for 40x40 squares (IMO) but that's a minor issue of adjustment. My aim here is to do a sci-fi setting in the distant future where the remains of several star faring empires are cut off for centuries along with the indigenous population on an isolated planet out on the fringe. Technology level will run from dark ages to industrial revolution, a great way to use my collection medieval to colonial/VSF stuff in something outrageous and colorful.....

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  2. Great to see another set of fantasy rules being produced. Will there be scope for flier, large troop types and unusual troop types like steam tanks or things like Hussite war waggons

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    1. Oh yes, certainly. I will have another post with more details on building armies, but there is scope for fliers, large (monstrous) infantry, monsters, vehicles etc. The system is designed to be a customisable as possible.

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  3. Really exciting news.
    I'll look forward to seeing further updates.

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  4. I will be following this with a lot of interest. Do you think chance cards will also play a part as with Irregular Wars?

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    1. We are looking at ways to incorporate the random aspects of the Chance Cards, without requiring the player to buy or produce their own cards.

      Pre-game mishaps will still play a role as well. :)

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  5. I’ve just been painting loads of Irish for Irregular Wars in 28mm and am really interested in your new rules . I very much look forward to hearing more.

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  6. Those chaps in the top illistration remind me of teh Rice Krispies people: https://www.britishcornershop.co.uk/img/large/BC0019.jpg

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  7. I have planned to paint a Beastmen army for Hott, but now it will be for these rules. My plan was to base them on 80mm x 40mm (80mm x 60mm for chariots), what tablesize would you recomend then?

    Does the length of the base have any significance?

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    1. Thanks Mattias!

      Square bases are recommended, but the depth doesn't really matter. It is the width that is crucial.

      We are still playtesting, so table dimensions might change. However, we're currently suggesting 30x20u for a 750-1,000 point standard game. That's a big table if you have 80mm base widths (240cm X 160cm)!

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    2. After some thought, I will probably change the basing to 40mm X 40mm with the chariot on 40mm X 60mm. I could easily fit two Minotaurs to a base and i vill get a bigger army with the same amount of figures.

      What about individual characters? Square or round bases?

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    3. Characters on smaller bases of appropriate size and shape to the character.

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