Three Plains Rule Changes

Dave Scholes (@DaveTheWargamer) creator of The Three Plains, over at Epic Wargaming has posted the below video talking about the new scenarios, Dwarves and some rather interesting rule changes. You can read my review of The Three Plains V2 here.

The changes to the movement rules that Dave is discussing the video actually have a dramatic impact on the game because, as Dave puts it, units are now more like sponges than bricks as in the regiment moves and flows through its environment. So, perhaps, more like silly putty?

Aside from making an absolute boat load of sense it makes the game quicker, more dynamic but far more tactical. Ranged units won’t be able to sit any longer at one end of a bridge smug in the knowledge that an attacking unit will take two or three turns to get to them thanks to all the faffing about reforming.

More significantly than that, loose forming units – Skirmishers and the like – will now be able to envelope (cool name for the rule if you ask me Dave) an enemy and curb stomp them to high hell. Take the example on the video, about 8 minutes in, of the Ogres and the hero. Under the new movement rules Ogres are able to evenlope (hint hint) a smaller unit delivering maximum damage and increased battle stress. It makes sense, especially restricting it to certain types of unit, not to mention being far more cinematic and satisfying for the person doing the kicking.

The impact of the rule is this:
1. To take that specific example – although the Ogres surround the hero, it prevents other units from attacking also, which stops gamers from mobbing other regiments thanks to careful manoeuvring and perfectly proportioned blocks of troops that happen to fit all nicely together.

2. Although the Ogres are, indeed, giving the hero a good kick, they are now vulnerable to counter attack from all sides, all in their rear/side arc which, in turn, makes them far more likely to get their skulls caved in and puts any survivors under increased battle stress. So now positioning of troops is vitally important beyond getting the charge in. Especially as terrain is now less of an issue to navigate. Skirmishing screens will become exactly that, mobbing outriders, chariots or holding up units, but will only last if there’s other units nearby for support. Otherwise, they can find themselves rear charged whereas a ‘standard’ unit would have remained in closed ranks.

So, overall, units will be easier to move generally, thanks to the additional rule that units have an anchor point in the middle of the front rank now, but their ability to respond to their environment means that games will be more satisfying, and  a lot less of a faff. Loose forming units will also play a much bigger part in games as they’ll be far more combat effective albeit at the risk of counter attack.

One thing that I think is worth considering is that not all units will blindly launch themselves into combat. Training, strategy and self-preservation will play a part to a greater or lesser extent. Rather than have a blanket rule either way, the player gets the choice to either hold ranks or envelope. However, holding ranks in the face of an easy kill is almost too tempting for even the most battle hardened warrior, and impossible to resist if you’re an orc, so if a unit that can envelope chooses to hold ranks instead must pass a soldiering test.
This gives players the option of either delivering maximum kills or maintaining formation and protecting themselves against counter attack. This obviously means that orcs and the like will almost always envelope whether you’d like them to or not, but makes them a far more characterful army for it.

It’ll be interesting to see how the rules develop over the next 10-11 months leading up to The Three Plains V3. I’ll keep you posted.

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One response to “Three Plains Rule Changes

  1. Thanks mate,

    I by and large I would say all that is right. Using the new rules does create a far more interesting game and a much more real looking one too, but it can also be a shock to the system for the gamers as well.

    This is because the all the freer moving pieces just used to predictable line up in a nice neat… well a ‘line’ in combat, but now they don’t do that anymore. Instead they pile into combat and as you say, this can leave them vulnerable or even lead them to spill on to other enemy pieces in combat, which we soon found out in the game tests…

    So there would seem to be a new skill needed here, were you really need to be able to judge the ‘spill’ of loosing moving pieces and use the right sized groups for the job. However, with the new spill over and engulf rules (or lol evenlope) the pay off can be well worth the risk, as a piece will not be able to flee when it is engulf!

    Also it gets more interesting when loose moving pieces fight other loosing moving pieces, as they usually tie themselves in a knots! Squaring-up will cover all the rules for spilling over and squaring-up is do as players own turn now. So when loose moving pieces fight other loosing moving pieces its a bit like watching two snake wrestling each other, with both of them fighting to get at each others backs to get those winning battle stress points.

    With just what you say on the end, loose moving will able to take a soldiering check to target one enemy piece at a time on a charge and not slip onto others. But units in combat will have to keep their formations or try and form back in to their original formation’s if they need to. So I agree with you there too really.

    As you say again, it will take a while to get these rules right and fair, but I feel its going to be worth it. I have read many rules similar to Three Plains and none of them have anything like this in them, which odd really when you think about it. But some of these rules are nothing new really to smaller skirmished games who have always used them, where I have draw my inspiration from.

    I know I didn’t go to much into the new battle stress rules, but for me, that will be a real crowning aspect of the game. I will send you a copy of them when that chapter is complete if that’s ok?

    Thanks

    Dave

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