Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Dux Britanniarum

Yes, I've got my copy of Too Fat Lardies latest offering, Dux Britanniarum.
Here's the cover ... oooh lovely!

Now, this isn't a full review as I've only had the one read through so far, I just wanted to convey my initial impressions.

I had planned to wait a while before purchasing DB, so as to give me time to finish a few more Saxons, as well as paint up some Romano-British. However, when I saw that the advance order deals included the limited edition Arthur figure plus saved a few pounds on the total price of the book and card decks, I had to order it!

Before I go any further I do have one slight gripe... and that was the packaging. A jiffy bag wasn't quite good enough to prevent my book and map taking a bit of a beating in the post. When I ordered SAGA, Gripping Beast sent the book and boards in a sturdy slimline box. I've sent TFL a note suggesting they offer a more robust packaging option but have yet to get a reply?

Anyway, on to the book. As with many recent rules publications it clearly has a high production value, full colour throughout with artwork, photos and diagrams. This makes it a pleasure just to browse through, so a good start.

The game includes a pre-battle and post-battle campaign sequence. I really like this aspect of the rules as it will clearly encourage a narrative campaign (including lovely maps) but minimises the amount of book-keeping required. Nor does it require a dedicated umpire. If you're successful then your warband can recruit new warriors or you can spend your winnings building churches or forts as part of your quest to become a powerful King or Warlord.

This is my first foray in to the world of TFL games so I wasn't quite sure whether I'd like the card based turn scheme, etc. Basically, the card deck dictates what units or heroes are activated throughout a turn. For instance, when one of your nobles is activated (their card is turned over) they have a limited supply of initiative points to spend in order to get units to move, shoot, fight, rally, change formations, etc.

Shooting and combat are resolved using a number of D6 with factors such as the range, quality of troops, formations and terrain affecting both the number of dice rolled and the scores required. Pretty straightforward stuff really. The back of the rulebook is a handy quick reference sheet. A nice feature is the concept of 'shock' which represents the unit's cohesion and effectiveness. Unit's can accumulate shock by moving through tricky terrain, fighting in combat or being shot at. So a unit defeated in combat may not incur any casualties (i.e. not remove any figures) but it may acrue shock which will ultimately reduce it's fighting efficiency.

There is also a special 'fate' deck that allows players to build a small hand of what are effectively special events. I think these will add an interesting extra dimension to the game play.

The rules assume the sides will be Romano-British and Early Saxons, but further supplements are planned to cater for Picts, Welsh, etc. You'll need approx 40 figures to start playing, with most troops being fielded in groups of 6, so some simple skirmish style movement trays might be handy. As for scenery, you'll need a 4'x3' table (a bit larger would be better) whilst a handful of buildings, trees, rocks and hills should be enough for most scenarios.

In summary, the rules are an exciting prospect and (for me at least) something rather different compared to other rules, though I think they'll take a bit of getting used to. They're well produced with an excellent integrated campaign aspect.

I'm working on the Saxons at the moment, but I do have a few Romano-British already painted. As a big SAGA fan I'm interested to see how the dynamics of the two games compare. If you check out GuitarHeroAndy's blog then hopefully you'll soon be able to read his thoughts on playing the game.


GuitarheroAndy said...

I have now blogged my thoughts after myfirst game. The rules need careful reading as some of the wording is, to my addled brain, a tad ambiguous in places, but nonetheless, it is clearly a great set of rules that will not take many games to get used to the mechanisms, but will take longer to master in terms of the tactical game!!

Matt said...

Thanks Andy. It's well worth reading!

I agree about some of the rules seeming a little ambiguous. I also noted that one of the examples of play was wrong - unless I've misunderstood the rules!!!

I'm sure a few games will get everything in place ok.

GuitarheroAndy said...

Rich from Too Fat Lardies is fairly local to me and has offered to come over and run a game for us...we shall be accepting at some point soon!!! :-)