Sunday, April 3, 2011
Still Alive - Mass Combat
I'm still alive.
I haven't been blogging for a while, but I am having a great time with both my PbP Castles and Crusades Greyhawk game and also the continuation of the adventures of the Majestic Four in a PBEM Call of Cthulhu game started by Daddy Grognard and now continued by Pete. I've also become obsessed with the Known World and I'm starting to collect gaming materials related to it. I'm developing some ideas for a campaign based in Mystara/Known World, which I probably won't start until this summer or fall.
The first text from Barrataria Games doesn't have a section on mass combat. This book was more of a Companion Expansion and is not fully focused on higher level play. It is all about adding lots of options to a current B/X, LL, S&W game.
The B/X Companion by JB at Running Beagle games has a very simple multiplier system that essentially treats units like large monsters. It is pretty slick, super quick to operate based on my casual overview, and will need lots of GM creativity in handling special cases. I would like to try it out to see how it plays I think people who care about the little details of things will feel like something is lacking, but in general this system would be really nice for a GM who is going to introduce a little mass combat here and there but not focus on it.
In comparison, the Mentzer Companion has a mass combat system called "The War Machine". This seems very war gaming - I feel like you would want to grab the mini's and the battlemat and some snacks and prepare for a long afternoon. There is an elaborate system by which you give each unit some stats - basic force rating, troop class, and battle rating, and then there is a combat system with lots of tables and modifiers. I think this could be really fun to use for an afternoon, but it is going to take a long while. You would have to have the right type of gamerz at your table who would be into playing a "game within a game" and focus on this. I think you could create a high level mini-campaign with three to four adventures based on alternating the PC roleplaying and the war machine focus. If played correctly and with the right gaming group this could be an epic finale to a long campaign. Or a way to involve your PC's in the "War that changed everything", leading to interesting role play opportunities in the aftermath.
Anyway, I like both systems for what they are good for - use JB's B/X companion rules for small units of troops for a quick resolution and "move on the with the game", but, if you want to make Mass Combat the focus of a gaming night, then get out the battle mats and throw down with the war machine.