Monday, November 3, 2014

Book or War: Basing Wars

More Book of War. This time my 'favourite' topic: basing. Controversially (since no one else seems to think this is a good idea), I have gone with nominally single based troops. That's nominally, since you can often get away with multi-based troops, just like you can in other games. I have a whole Gondor army for War of the Ring that is multi-based and I used dice to mark casualties. You can do the same sort of thing in Book of War but you will want a little more flexibility in your multi-basing. Some sort of combination of 6x4s, 4x4s, 2x1s, and singles will work well. You will need to vary unit frontage and depth. Also, certain units have the option of forming up in wedges to try and break enemy formations. The minim frontage for infantry and cavalry units (wedges aside) is 100mm and each rank needs to be filled completely before another can be started. Part of combat resolution is based on the number of ranks, and to count, ranks have to have as many figs as the first rank. Any troops that don't contribute to a fight (because they are too far back) can be freely placed anywhere, so the odd bases out can sit at the back to act as casualties.
In order to keep some compatibility with other games like the Warlord stable, Impetvs, WOTR, and Warhammer - There are four main base sizes for units of multiple figures: 40mm square for larger things (Ogres!), 25x50mm for Cavalry, 25x25mm for Light Infantry, and 20x20mm for close order Infantry. Skirmishers can be on either 25mm or 20mm squares. If you have figs on 25mm rounds for WOTR, they can be sabot based as Light order foot or used as skirmishers.

Here twelve Reavers (Light Foot) charge twelve Varyngr (close order foot). The Reavers will be fighting in three ranks (as they are charging) and the Varyngr in two ranks. The Varyngr have opted to keep their fontage to the minimum as it still gives them ten attacks to the Reavers' twelve and as long as the Reavers don't kill more than two of them, they will count as having equal ranks, as close order foot count as +1 rank for combat resolution. (All models very WIP and posted to show layout only, you have been warned :) )

In a standard linear formation: Close order foot always get attacks from the first two ranks, except for Pike, which get attacks in four ranks. Light Infantry get attacks from three ranks when they charge, or won the last round of combat. Cavalry also get attacks from the first two ranks. Notice in the above example how the light infantry have opted to go wide against the Close order infantry. As long as there is nothing else to their front, they still get to attack - since in 'reality' they would wrap around the sides. Easier to leave the models in neat lines while doing that though.

Normally, you can count a maximum of four ranks when working out who has the most ranks. Close order foot get to count +1 on that so have an edge over Light Order foot. Cavalry models count as two ranks each (since they are...). However, certain units will have the option of adopting a wedge formation to all themselves to give up some attacks to count more ranks.

In a wedge, Cavalry get to count as up to 6 ranks. The model at the point of the wedge is not counted when determining ranks. All of the models at the edges get to fight. So for example, a unit of ten cavalry give up three models worth of attacks in order to count more ranks when it comes time for combat resolution. Hopefully it is worth it as you have to inflict more casualties in order to break the enemy. Larger units of Cavalry lose a lot by going into wedge formation but this may still be worth it vs enemies that are numerous but not very tough.
Certain Light Order foot can do it too. Here the Reavers are all lined up behind their chieftain and his bodyguards. The infantry wedge is shallower and only allows one more rank to count, so up to five.

Since it is shallower, you start counting from the first rank but an infantry wedge loses a lot more attacks than a cavalry wedge. Usually you could put the bases that aren't counted as ranks anywhere but since they get attacks when on the edge, you have to have a full rank's worth to get this on both sides.

Constructive comments on the system are welcome. For earlier Book of War notes see "Command and Control". Thanks for reading.


  1. Looks well thought out jamie, perhaps email me some sizes for light order foot for elves, skirmisher ''woodelves'', and il buzz some up on the saw and we can playtest it sometime soon.
    my crusader army il finish painting up the figures, then look at whether i need to rebase it, especially the cavalry units.
    iv made gd progress on the moria dungeon terrain, we could also test out an rpg ruleset also... il be allowed out again shortly wen paxton gets a better sleep routine during the night.
    keep up the gd work mate

  2. Hi Andy, I'll get to work on some proper lists so we can give it a go. I've baseline units worked out and know how I want the elves to look so just need time to write it out. I'll email you when that happens.

    In the meantime, I'd think modular, maybe 5cm squares? With either some 25x50mm bits along with the odd single model on its round base OR even just the squares With single models at the edges to make the Formation? Not everything needs a square edge as long as there is enough to give the ranks and files. Another good shape would be 50x100mm? Then a pile of tokens to get casualty markers.

  3. I thought I posted here yesterday...
    Anyhoo was just saying these plans look good apart from the fact that I'll have to re-base my Bulgars.
    That is not going to happen btw, can you say Liquid Nails?
    Also I'm doing a Greek and Roman Warfare paper this summer. Should be cool.;-)

    Just another thought, can we steal Bolt Action's activation system for this?

    1. No don't rebase the Bulgars, play inpetvs with them :-) re: activation, see the link at the bottom of the post. It is has the tokens/dice drawn from bag but adapted to be like an ancients game. So tries to do what eg DBA and Inpetvs do with an action economy/unpredictable order system.

      The game uses a lot of models but maybe your saga guys backs by some Nordic or slavic Monsters?