I’m not real big on war games as a whole, I prefer RPGs, but then that’s kinda’
how I came across The Wars of Magic. The war game is set 1000 years before the
age of the beast men in the “Elizium” setting that I first came across in the
Spelldancer RPG. Now I love Spelldancer and the idea of a war game set during
it’s mage-wars was enough to get me to pick this game up and I’m glad I did.
There is no reason why you have to set the game during the wars of the magi or
even on Elizium come to that. I love how flexible this game is, and that is a
theme that runs through a lot of Gethsemane Games stuff – flexability. You can
play this game in any scale you like, with any miniatures you like and in any
setting you like.
Serious war gamers will be happy as well, the game is designed to take account
of formations, tactics and discipline (which is separated from morale). In the
games we have played we found that a force that is inferior on paper can defeat
a superior force by taking advantage of formations, cohesion and tactics to get
the best out of what the troops have. A small force of human spearmen in a
shield wall left a very big pile of dead demons on the ground and held until the
enemies mage ran out of points to summon more, at which point the balance swang
in our favour.
Units get a number of points to spend improving one of their statistics when
created, and the points depend on their level of training and expertise. An
elite force can be more than a match for an almost identical equipped and sized
unit of regulars, but again, make sure to use those formations and tactics to
your advantage to get the very best out of them.
I love the “Battle Honours” system as well, that is basically a form of
experience points system for units. When you get enough of them you can buy an
extra point to enhance your units statistics. If you have a lot of them, and
display them on a flag, you might even cause less experienced enemies to retreat
just by attacking them.
Not sure about the Bravado system, or the rules for capturing your enemies
colours. They seem a bit much detail for a novice like me, but I bet
experienced war game players will love them.
On to the rules for Characters (which is actually given fairly early in the
rules, just after creating your units). Love these too! Character models can
be anything from just above average members of their species to godlike heros
(most godlike heroes will be wizards as well and you don’t have to make a
character that is either a wizard or a warrior, they can be both – Elric here I
come!). Heros can make a difference in the game, but they are not so tough that
a unit of regulars can’t bring them down if they try and their moral holds.
Weight of numbers will tell in the end. We tried a “Magnificent 7” style battle
and it was a blast. 5 of the 7 heros died but they eventually won the day –
Layout isn’t too fancy, but then I didn’t buy the book to look good. I can’t
quite get my head around the Vivimancer magic, especially the healing spells
when used on rank and file troops, but that may just be me.
As a novice I think I’d like to see more examples and maybee a sample battle.
I don’t know yet how it handles big battles, we have only done little ones of
about 50 guys a side but my friend who has played more wargames than me recons
it should handle much bigger battles quite well.
My main criticism is that I’m not sure how the d10 based rules and the stats tyy
in with the RPG and I’d like to use it to play some battles in my RPG campaign
if I can figure out how to convert the RPG characters to this war game. Oh and
this war game seems to have rules for monsters that aren’t in the spelldancer
RPG, but I hear that Gethsemane Games are going to release a monsters book for
Spelldancer this year.. Or maybe some of the monster races in the war game were
wiped out in the wars of magic?
Not much art either, but then that helps when printing the PDF out.