Not so long ago, a company far, far away (from me anyway), released a new game. Warlords of Erewhon, published by Warlord Games and written by Rick Priestly, is a cracking game that extends the bolt action family of games into fantasy skirmishing.
In the large hadron collider that is his brain, Rick has smashed together the desire to play with some of your favourite old skool fantasy toys and some modern, clever-yet-simple game mechanics. WoE, or Erewhon to those in the know, is fun, fast and simple.
As the title suggests, these rules are not tied to a particular world. Its inspiration is pretty much any fantasy tropes you enjoy. Ninja rabbits? Sure, use the Samurai list. Amazons? Yep, got that. Mammoth riding neanderthals or berserk viking warriors? The barbarian list will cater for either, or both. The flexibility and choice of the lists means you can use any models you have. I have faced a smurf-necromancer leading the undead; and chaos dwarves (little GW dudes with big hats). Both worked, both were fun games. In addition to the 12 warband lists in the hardback book, the author has published new armies (along with revisions of the existing ones) at his blog, This Gaming Life. It is well worth keeping an eye on this site, as he has been adding material fairly steadily since launch.
Gaming buddy Brad and I have been playing a bit of WoE recently, and this time I actually remembered to take some photos! My orcs lined up against his barbarians. All the models on both sides were painted years ago and it was great to see them on the table once more.
The big dude at the back is an old Chronopia model
Orcs with hand weapons and shields
Orcs with halberds
Today’s Warlord and bodyguard; the Uruk Hai beserkers are fun figures
And Brad’s Barbarians
Combat can be brutal, which is just the way I like it. It can also be uncertain. While your rock hard hero will probably take out that squad of archers, there are no guarantees. And in a game where if you loose half your starting units you are will pretty much loose the game as your warband breaks and runs, this means every combat can make a difference.
It also means a brave move at the right time can turn things around. I thought I had this game won, but Brad charged his remaining coherent unit deep into my battle line and killed my warlord. It left them exposed and badly mauled, but broke my army in the same turn I broke him and turned a likely loss into a narrow victory!
The Barbarians form up their battle line
Who let the dogs (of war) out?
For players of Bolt Action, the rules are both familiar, but distinct. Orders are re-skinned, so while the same dice are used, the orders themselves have differences. The largest change is to Ambush, which is more like “Reserve Action”, and allows a unit to react to an enemy unit nearby, interrupting their turn allowing you to counter-charge or fire a spell, or what-ever other dastardly plan you may have.
Moral works differently too. Pins are still crucial, and are accumulated through receiving wounds or coming under fire. Units might end up fleeing and being able to rally, and get back in the game, but more likely too many pins and a unit will break and be eliminated. Did I mention combat was brutal?
Heroes are tough, but don’t totally dominate. This is a game of small units more than individuals. And a fine game it is, I suggest you give it a go if you get the chance.