September 28, 2015 by crew
Thanks for checking out this article on our upcoming mass combat system. I’m the designer and writer for Age Of Tyrants, and in the following paragraphs I hope to fill you in on the philosophy behind the design, and give you an overview of how the rules work.
Age of Tyrants is a new 6mm scale tabletop wargame, set in Urban War’s Draconis Alba universe. It was initially conceived back in 2009 as a spin-off from Urban War. It was to be a fairly light and casual set of rules enabling Urban War fans to play games at the company level, rather than squad based skirmishes.
Since then it’s gone through several revisions and grown into a full blown system in it’s own right, with a number of expansions planned on top of the core rules. It’s also more than just a company level version of Urban War, and we’ve developed a game with its own identity where legions of men, women and synths fight in the midst of colossal and devastating armour.
A concept that has always permeated the DNA of the Age of Tyrants project is Combined Arms. Combined arms is the idea that different parts of an army should support one another, or act simultaneously on an objective, to achieve a result greater than if they acted independently in pursuit of the same goal.
This is by no means a new idea in warfare, and you can see examples of it from the ancient world onwards (e.g. mixed formations of archers and spearmen with shields), but it really came into its own in the Second World War with the idea of Battle Groups, pioneered by the Germans with their Kampfgruppen, and later adopted by the US army.
To translate this concept into a workable set of rules required really getting into the command structure of these battle group type formations. A single 50mm square base in Age of Tyrants counts as a squad of infantry or a single vehicle. Four of these bases make up a platoon, and the platoon is led a Lieutenant who is represented by one of the bases.
A company is the main formation you play with in Age of Tyrants and it consists of four to eight platoons led by a separate Captain base, for a total of seventeen to thirty three bases per company. The exact number you play with depends on how big a battle you want to have, with each base costing points to add to your army.
If you want to have a really big battle, you can play with more than one company a side on a larger playing area.
Riffing on the battle group idea we have three core companies of four platoons plus a captain for each of the factions. These are either infantry based for light companies, a mixed of vehicles and infantry for mixed companies, or vehicle based for armoured companies.
You pick one of these cores as the basis for a company, then you can add up to four platoons of your choice to customise it to your play style and the battle at hand.
For those not familiar with the universe, these factions are the Junkers’ grim Legions of foot soldiers and heavy artillery from the deserts of Ironglass, the robotic armies of the highly advanced Syntha, VASA’s intergalactic protectorate forces from icy Vacillus, and the Viridians’ Colonial Marine companies from the lush jungles of Viridia,
A typical game is played on a 4×4 playing area, with one player taking the role of the attacker and their opponent the defender. The defender gets to set up the terrain and pick a side of the table on which to deploy, with the attacker taking the opposite side. To balance this advantage, the defender has to deploy all of their miniatures/bases first.
Players then alternate giving an order with a leader. Who goes first is determined by a dice roll. The idea is that the two different ranks of leader activate bases that fall under their command, so Lieutenants can only activate themselves and bases from their own platoon, whereas Captains can activate any base from their company. Each order allows four bases to be activated, and they work together to perform the order.
So for example, a Captain may order a base of infantry to move forward and assault an enemy base, while tanks and artillery pour in support fire. This is the essence of combined arms gameplay and it is all taken into account in the combat results calculation.
Losing in combat or sustaining bombardment damage from artillery causes bases to suffer suppression, which is tracked with special small dice that fit into a slot on the back of the base. Suppression is a mixture of battle fatigue, casualties and morale loss. Too much suppression and the base is destroyed, but before that happens, suppression can affect a base’s performance.
Bases with a lot of suppression count as more than one base to activate with an order, so as the battle progresses, it’s increasingly difficult for leaders to get all the parts of the army to follow their orders. Thankfully, bases can receive orders to rest up, repair, and patch up casualties, thus removing suppression.
The eagle eyed among you will have spotted that as a consequence of suppression, or worse losing a leader base, you might not be able to activate all of your bases during a turn. Any bases left over may perform what is known as a default action. On its profile, each base has a set of actions it can do that correspond to its current suppression level (e.g. Shoot, Repair, etc.).
When all the leaders have issued orders, players take it in turns to activate single bases that didn’t receive orders during the turn. By definition this is less effective than acting in a combined manner with other bases, but at least they still get a go.
After all bases have been activated, end the turn and start again. In the standard game you keep going like this until one side loses 50% of the bases it started the game with. At that point it’s over and the other player is declared the winner.
In the advanced section of the rules there are a few other scenarios you can try, each with its own set-up and victory conditions.
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"A concept that has always permeated the DNA of the Age of Tyrants project is Combined Arms..."
"The eagle eyed among you will have spotted that as a consequence of suppression, or worse losing a leader base, you might not be able to activate all of your bases during a turn..."