Sunday, March 16, 2014

Alternative Systems: Armies of Arcana


Like many people I have had several months where I was not able to do much with my hobby.  It is not specifically because I did not have the time, nor initiative to do anything.  I have actually worked on getting a lot of my space marines built up and ready for priming.  However, we have had record cold even down here in the South of the US and good luck getting primer on anyone's models.  Now I have to look forward to getting pollen on my models if I go out and prime the models until the next month or so. 

On another note, I have been reading up on Armies of Arcana, which is the next installment of my posts on alternative systems.  Armies of Arcana is a system that I wanted to review for a while, and I would say that it is a system that does show a lot promise on many fronts, and provides a few interesting ideas. 

How it works

This is a game that is very different from the standard GW games on many fronts.  Instead of a turn system where you do all of your phases of the game and wait for your opponent to finish their turn, it is phase based system in that you each do your movement phase, and move on to magic, shooting, and Close Combat.  You roll who goes first per turn as opposed to at the start of the game.  Movement is virtually the same as in WFB of yesteryear, but you can skirmish any unit that you want and neither march nor charge moves are allowed.(Something that I will talk about later)  Magic is actually more like how 40k Psykers work but within the confines of one phase rather than throughout the game.  Shooting and Close Combat phases are more streamlined as opposed to GW's, where it is boiled down to one roll for every attack basically.  To wound rolls are more like modifiers to the to hit roll.  Other than that it is pretty similar to how WFB plays.  Fleeing works more like it did back in the 3rd edition of WFB where you actually have to kill everyone in a unit rather than just destroy the whole unit by outrunning them.  Catching up to a fleeing unit will not scatter them as in WFB but rather you get a free attack without any response. 

What I like

After reading through this game system, I really do like how they handled what is called "Step up" in WFB.  You are allowed to attack back but with a -1 to your roll.  I would equate this to a -1 to hit and you cant use any modifiers by your weapon.  It has been a while since I read the 8th edition of WFB, but I don't seem to recall step-up working like that, and honestly if it worked like that I would have no problem with it.  I am more intrigued as to how the phased based way of playing works more than anything else.  Everyone complains that your guys "just stand there and take it" when it is not your turn.  This is a way to alleviate that issue.  They also have a way to create that specific monster or army that is not already in the rules, and new armies are popping up every time from online.  Likewise they already have Roman and Greek army lists available, so if you ever wanted to see how your friends Greek army matches up against your Elves, there is a way to play that.  Most importantly, they are not using this book to sell miniatures like GW seems to do with their Basic Rule Book. 

What I don't like

I am not a fan of the lack of a marching or charging move.  That seems to me like it can get boring.  It seems that moving your normal move for a charge is unreasonable given that a charge is supposed to represent your troops running in to combat.  On another note they have their units move with more movement than what you see in WFB.  They have artillery shoot every other turn as a rule.  That seems unreasonable to me.  As much as I find it interesting that you only roll once when you attack, I think that it provides for not as much nuance as we used to have. 


Overall I would definitely like to test drive this set of rules from what I have read.  It has a lot of interesting ideas and concepts that I want to try.