I was never really sure whether Ganesha Games published Pride of Lions or not, as it announced these rules when they came out, and sold them on their web site, but it was made clear that: a) they were not based on the Song of Blades and Heroes engine, and b) Ganesha Games was working on its own mass fantasy battle rules, Song of Armies and Hordes. Well, I am pretty sure that Ganesha Games is just a distributor, given the relationship between them and the author, who is also author of Song of the Splintered Lands.
Pride of Lions is a mass fantasy rules set that uses units consisting of multiple figures on bases, several bases per unit. Battles can be quite large and use lots of figures. Combat is unit to unit, but bases represent a combat step loss system. Attributes, like melee, ranged combat, and morale, is expressed in terms of a die type (e.g. D4, D6, D8, D10, etc.) and modifiers carry the die type up or down (for example a positive modifier changes a D6 to a D8). Most magic is handled by rolling the die and beating a target number. Most combat is handled by opposed die rolls between the two sides, looking at the difference between the rolls to determine the combat result. Morale consists of rolling the die type and comparing the result to a chart, with low numbers producing bad results. So, the smaller the die type, the more likely a bad morale test results.
Magic is rather involved, and to be honest, I am not quite sure that I got all of the subtleties straight. Essentially at the beginning of each turn the mages/shamans/[whatever] select a spell from their spell deck (which is set by race and mage type). When all players reveal their spells, you resolve those that affect other spells first (like blocking spells), then all the other spells.
Each mage has a die type and is the type rolled for the first spell cast per turn. A typical mage had a D20. Each spell has a difficulty factor, which is the number to be beaten on the die roll. So if the spell was Difficulty 8, a roll of 9+ would mean that the spell was successfully cast. Once the mage fails a roll, he can cast no more spells that turn.
The kicker is that a mage can cast as many spells as he dares every turn, until he fails. But, after each successful spell cast the mage drops one die type for the next spell cast. Thus, the first spell is a D20, the second a D16, the third a D12, etc. Now, if all you had to worry about was failing then no one would ever forego casting every spell they could, so the author put in a backlash effect – the "Brain Burn" – so that when you rolled the maximum number of the die the mage would permanently drop one die type. (Normally a mage starts at D20 and drops for every spell cast that turn, but starts back at D20 the following turn. A Brain Burn drops the mage one level permanently.)
The scenario was pretty simple: the Evil Horde is attacking the Allied Forces of Good (Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings), who are defending their woods, sacred groves, magical springs, and the like. Pretty much wall-to-wall troops with a fair reserve. The goal: crush the other side.
|Overall Battlefield at Start|
|My Elven Command|
|The Evil Horde Advances|
|The Halflings on the Right Flank Hold On|
|The Elven Command at the Battle's End|
A classic convention problem where the game started with the forces too far apart, leaving most of the action and excitement in the magic and movement phases (and the latter was not exciting). I think that the stand-out problem was that magic took too much time, especially in the first few turns. The more I thought about it, however, the more I agreed that there should be more magic early on, where the mages are fresh and prepared, than later, when they are fatigued and trying to quickly react to events. But, from a convention gaming point, there is no reason for the game not to start with the two forces 1" farther than missile range apart.
There were a few things blurry with me regarding the rules, but nothing major. Apparently the order system and turn sequence is similar to Johnny Reb III. Each player places an order chit by each unit – Advance, Rush, Charge, Stand and Shoot, etc. – and the turn sequence dictates who moves and fires in which order. For example, Chargers move before Advancers and Stand and Shooters fire before Advancers.
Maneuvering was very rigid – move or wheel, but not both – which I am seeing more and more of in rules. Being a DBA admirer, I find this very difficult to deal with unless I play a steady dose of it.
So, did I buy the rules? No. I liked the order concept as a way of making movement and firing semi-simultaneous, but in the end I like Hordes of the Things and Warhammer (older editions; I have not tried the latest) for mass fantasy battles. A big factor in not buying them, simply for ideas or a magic system, was that the author indicated that the second edition would be coming out and that it would have an upgrade cost of about 80% (if I understood him correctly) the current first edition cost. I can wait.
More pictures while I wandered around.
Next up was Bob Beattie's War of the Worlds using the rules Hordes of the Things. I'll post that over on the Dale's DBA blog when I have written it.