Coming Soon: Modern Rank and Flank

It’s been a while since I’ve thrown a game of rank-and-flank fantasy down on the table.  Dragon Rampant is more of a large warband skirmish game, and it lacks the nuance and subtlety of proper blocks of troops maneuvering about the green fields of battle.  Demonstrating the charms of Chainmail to a new generation of wargamers has been a lot of fun, but it is time to turn our attention to more modern refinements of the genre. 

After looking about the industry, there aren’t a lot of them out there anymore.  It would seem that rank-and-flank as a genre has fallen out of favor with the modern wargamer.  Since multi-figure basing is out of the question due to my collection style that puts Rebel Minis’ Mighty Armies and Thane Games’ Armies of Arcana out of the running, as well as venerable titles like Hordes of the Things.   Mayhem, by the same mad genius that brought us Rogue Planet, offers a few too many innovations to be trusted sight unseen.

Which left me giving One Page Rules’ Age of Fantasy: Regiments the sidelong glances. Viewers of the channel have been after me for some time to dip my toes in the One Page Rules waters, and with my small but growing collection, there’s no longer any reason to avoid it.

This is just one of several free titles from the One Page Rules outfit.  They’ve got a tight little set of rules to act as the core mechanic upon which they hang various styles of movement, line-of-sight, and weaponry.  In the case of fantasy, the skirmish game, the ‘warband’ game, and the ‘mass battle game’ all use the same weapons and the latter two even use the same army lists for building your forces.  The only real difference between the core game and Regiments is the latter’s insistence on block troops rather than amorphous blobs maintaining ‘cohesion’.

Regiments makes for a very different style of game, one in which terrain takes on a more central role.  The mandatory frontage of five figures for any formation of troops, means you’re going to have a more difficult time moving around the field without stumbling over a terrain item.  You also have to think more about how your unit turns to face its enemies – the need for secure flanks changes the game dramatically.

It’s not for everyone, but it makes for a nice change of pace from the gonzo running about the field seen in similar games such as Dragon Rampant.  And the simple d6 morale mechanic simplifies things greatly over a venerable title like Chainmail.

So far I can say with certainty that I don’t have enough figures to play the game as intended.  My Dragon Rampant warbands allow me to play rather tidy little 500-750 point battles, which leave no room for error.  With just 5-15 figures per block, fights are often over as soon as they begin.  Compared to the other channel’s 2500 point fights, mine are little better than skirmishes, but they do give a taste of what larger forces can bring to the show.

I’ve only just begun this journey of exploration into the One Page Rules system, so I can’t recommend it one way or the other.  All I can say after two games is that it moves fast, and is a lot of fun to play.  Army Building is a pain in the neck, but once over that hurdle the game zips right along to a happy conclusion.