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.