The primary concept of the mass battle rules is "the body". A body is any number of friendly figures in base to base contact with one another and can be as small as one figure or as many as your entire force. This gives players endless control over the composition of their maneuver units but at some cost. Want a unit that counts as having shields, AND two handed weapons? Go ahead and make sure that body has half the figures carrying shields and half carrying two handed weapons. The drawback is that over the course of the game bodies end up losing figures through combat and reaction. Sooner or later the example unit above would have more of one type of figure than the other and count only as the majority type. Of course you can fix this by splitting forces of from that body to form new ones and so on.
The primary advantage of bodies in terms of game mechanics is a reduction in the number of dice rolls needed to resolve combat. For example in the first Linden Way game, the combat in the village often required seven or eight opposed rolls of 5-6 dice each to resolve. Not really a problem with that small a game but imagine the tedium imposed by a fight featuring twenty combatants on a side. As will be seen in the following photo report, using the mass battle rules the combats in the village were decided by a single opposed roll each player turn even though the same number of figures were engaged in both this and the previous game.
Now this scenario is a wee bit small for trotting out the mass battle rules but it did play lightening fast. The whole game took an hour (well 10:42 to 11:40 based on the photo time stamps) and that included taking photos and making notes for this write up.
Once again I take on the role of Magyar Ironfist. My plan was orc standard simple of forming one massive body and charging up the middle until my superior numbers told.
Mayor Leofwine and the militia pole arms formed one enemy body, the five archers in the tower another body, and the mad Illusionist a third body all by himself. I left out the refugees this time as I was more interested in a straight up assault with fewer role play elements. As before the game system controlled all human actions and any orc actions not directly commanded by Magyar.
Here then are the photos with descriptive text beneath. All photos here were taken from a fixed point and as it is a bit dark out today, were taken with a flash.
Turn one, the orcs advance as one body onto the table. Only the leader, shaman, and archers appear at start.
Arrows rain down from the watchtower. One orc is killed and and four more flee, leaving the orcs in three bodies. One human archer is killed in return.
Turn two. The remnants of the orc archers spread out and make for the high ground while the main body arrives o the field. The militia advance to the hedges while the illusionist retires. There is more bow fire but it has minimal effect.
Turn three. The orcs approach the hedge row and the militia counter charge. One orc and two militiamen die in the fighting and two more orcs rout.
Turn four. Fighting continues and two orc and four militiamen die in the melee. Four more orcs rout. This is getting embarrassing. Meanwhile the human archers kill two more orc archers.
Turn Five. The orc shaman tries to cast a spell and suffers backlash. He was stunned for the rest of the game. Meanwhile two more orcs and two more militiamen die in the melee. Three more orcs flee the field.
Turn Six. The illusionist decides to see what is happening and moves closer to the action. The melee claims one orc and one militiaman killed and another orc run off. The human archers kill another orc warrior at the back of the scrum.
Turn Seven. The tide turns and the miltia are finally forced back from the hedge. One orc and three militiamen are killed. Mayor Leofwine is left to face the orc horde alone.
Turn Eight. A strange lull ensues as no one was able to activate. The mayor stares death in the face and does not flinch.
Turn Nine. The mayor is overwhelmed taking one orc down with him. My boys seem to be done routing now which is good for me as they were getting kind of thin o the ground.
Turns ten and eleven. The victorious orcs advance. Arrows take out Magyar himself and one other warrior. The Illusionist is overwhelmed and slain.
Turn twelve. It's all over as the orcs storm the watchtower without loss.
Final losses were humans, 20 militia, the mayor, and the illusionist. The orcs lost Magyar and 13 killed or seriously injured and fourteen missing presumed cowardly.
Quite a different result from the first game but in truth I cannot figure out how I got off so lightly the first time. This is closer to how I had expected that battle to go.
The mass battle rules speed things up considerably over the skirmish game although this is so small a game that such isn't neccesarily desirable. Still they work as I had intended they would so all's well in that department.
Now to figure out how to lay out the table for the grand campaign...