Today, we have a guest writer. Mick from Black Mouse games has done us a write up of the progress thus far on their Medieval 15mm wargame rules “Rex Bellator”. I know that like myself, a lot of our readers enjoy historical stuff in 15mm(gods own scale!) and 28mm, and I must admit I think I’m going to get my 15mm medieval’s out and have a few games with the rules when I get a bit of spare time!
REX BELLATOR 15mm rules
As an active wargamer I have been exposed to a range of rules, many of them ranging from home grown right through to the professional publications. As with most wargamers I built up a body of troops over the years which have been based to meet the rules de jour rather than personal taste.
Some of these rules have been fabulous fun to play, while others have become torturous paper driven exercises. I like most rules I have played but I found over time and as I have gotten older I wanted something easier to play but still pushed my tactical thinking during the game. So along came De Re Militari series of rules, with Rex Bellator being the first in the series
I decided to write rules that were simple, forced players to make decisions throughout the game not just at the beginning, and didn’t rely on a single die roll to win but also didn’t have to roll a bucket of dice to win a single fight. I also wanted there to be some relativity between differing forces, taking into account the defender and attackers ability. Most of all I wanted it to be speedy and easy to learn
Hence, I focussed on a series of building blocks for the game that allowed the player to be challenged to make sound tactical decisions in circumstances where they didn’t control the entire situation.
I also wanted it to be comprehensive in that there was a consistent manner in which decisions could be enacted. Whether it is to change orders, rally troops, fight in combat, conduct a difficult or complex manoeuvre the mechanism was the same.
So to the basics. For starters I used the term Spear to indicate the elements of play. Much like the current set of popular rules troops are based according to their type, with a clear delineation of which Spear is a command Spear. Spears (or Lances or bannerettes- take your pick) made up the basic element of a Medieval Battle. The game is based on a minimum of three Battles per army with a commander for each battle. The only thing that players have complete control over is the makeup of their army. After that random factors come into play.
Setup is highly randomised with a series of die rolls for terrain, with time of day and weather. There are some aspects that can change and players can move terrain to suit themselves but only in limited situations.
The biggest difference in setup is the introduction of the concept of a mission. Players come to the table with an army, then roll for the mission. Winning in any game is now based on the particular mission, not just crushing the opponent’s army. In some respects this is a scenario generator by default.
Next came command and control of the army. Command control aspects of the game are played out through the command rating, the command radius and command points. The one figure covers all of these aspects of the game, reducing the complexity of the issue while the use of points increases the complexity of decision making. Of course, rolling for a decision introduces an element of luck into the command system but with a 2D6 die roll for all command rolls and combat this tends to be smoothed out statistically.
Movement is not reliant on the number of command points or the command radius but on the complexity or simplicity of the manoeuvre. Some movement will require a command roll because it is complex or because it involves combat, but in the main every Spear will be able to move in a turn. Cross a river which is not fordable – you need to make your command roll for every Spear. Decide to withdraw from combat in good order – you need to make a command roll.
The combat system works on there being only three possible outcomes. The Spear is reduced to ineffectiveness (Killed), it is shaken to the point that it breaks and runs (Morale Check) or the weight and effectiveness of its opponents forces it back.
The game also move away from geometric approach and allows movement out of and around combat. There are no zones of control, but some tactical moves require a successful command roll. Spears can force their way through gaps and flank other troops or make a run for an objective. Indeed that was the whole idea of medieval combat and one I wanted to simulate.
As a feature I decided to add siege rules which can reflect the long siege times by breaking sieges into phases where opponents can make repairs and refit for the next phase. And finally there is a set of campaign rules for those either want to recreate history or make their own using the same system.
I have avoided Army lists which provide minima or maxima. I am not sure that every army followed a set of lists in real life but I am developing Army Lists that provide the options that were available to certain nations as well as national specific capabilities. Some nations used their troop capabilities in certain ways, such as conducting strategic manoeuvre to be in a position of tactical defence.
In future Black Mouse Games will also develop a set of fantasy rules based on Rex Bellator, as well a Dark Age Army Lists to expand Rex Bellator back into that period. On top of which will be scenario book next year.
Over the next few months I intend to run a series of playtesting rounds with local players but I am looking for anyone who would be interested in conducting playtesting for me and answer some questions on the rules themselves.
If you are interested in learning more please visit the Black Mouse Games Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BlackMouseGames?ref=hl or a grab a set of the draft rules at http://www.scribd.com/michael_callan_7
Any comments please send me a message via Facebook
Black Mouse Games