Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tribes of Legend

Well, after some delay I got hold of my copy of the new Wargames Foundry Tribes of Legend rules by Jake Thornton.  I ordered from Amazon which meant I paid just over £14 rather than £22, which was well worth the slight delay in shipping.

I bought these, of course, for my new Argonauts project but also for some other Greek mythological games inspired by the numerous new, if rather clunky, Foundry figures.  Some of these are quite nice whilst some are truly horrible (like much of Foundry's recent output) but I am hoping that at least some of them will paint up OK.  Looking at some of the faces I wonder if they aren't modeled on some of the Copplestone Caesarian figures.

Anyway, this is a nicely presented set of hardback rules with nice touches such as marbled (appropriately) endpapers. There are 114 pages with colour photographs of their new models on nearly every page.  Indeed, some of the models included haven't actually been released yet (although there was another batch released today).

Essentially, what is contained in the book are three separate sets of rules all dealing with different types of mythological combat.   

Firstly, there are the Tribes of Legend Rules.  These contemplate small armies of figures with several troop types available to the different armies available.  These are City States (hoplites), Hillmen (Thracians), Amazons, Centaurs and Satyrs.  No unit can contain more than 16 figures and some units, like the centaurs, can only have six figures.  For me, this a very good start!  Units can either be formed or loose, with things like shooting ranges always being calculated from the leader figure.  Units are activated in turn and can either: move, move into contact with the enemy and melee, move and shoot once or not move and shoot twice.  This regular back and forth between the players units can be changed by deploying one of three Hands of the Gods cards which you draw at the beginning of the game.  These can, for example, allow you to move two units in one go, get an extra action or stop the other player doing something.  Moving and fighting are all very familiar from Warhammer type games.  In fact these rules only cover four and a quarter pages. They look designed for a short, brutal game.  Any unit (with some exceptions) that goes down to half its number is routed and is removed with no chance of rallying.

Next comes three pages on the major Greek Gods but given that they have no role in the game this section is a little pointless.  

After this, there is the first of a series of painting guides.  In fact no less than 41 pages of the book are painting guides by a number of different painters.  Most of this is very basic stuff but, as ever, Mr Dallimore's section gave a couple of useful hints I hadn't tried before.

The second set of rule is called Ancient Heroes and is for bands of five (no more, no less) figures really designed for four players.   There is only one scenario: based around a hill containing a temple which the bands need to occupy.  Combat is based on a normal pack of playing cards with dice only being used to resolve ties.  Distractions can be vineyards (there is a lot in these rules about alcohol distracting some of the forces) or lurking nymphs, wolves or skeletons.  Again the rules are only about five pages long.

The final set of rules is a solo set, Trials of a Demigod, based on the 12 Labours of Heracles.  Again, the rules are three pages and the scenarios total another twelve.  These rules are less about combat than husbanding and using resources and are dice and card driven.  The models and scenery are almost irrelevant but they could lead to an interesting campaign.  More importantly there are enough scenarios that you could devise others using similar formats.

I quite like some of the new gods and goddesses.  It's just shame they don't have a role in the game.

At the end of the book is an article on making rivers (the second set of rules, Ancient Heroes, requires a stream on the table) but nothing on any other scenery.

Now, I'm not one of those people who can read a set of rules and say "ah this means X".  I would have to play them first.  They look very simple (are they designed for children?)  They would make a much simpler introduction to wargaming than Warhammer, for example.  I would have to play some games to see how they work; especially the card-driven Ancient Heroes which looks to be the most interesting set but I would need another couple of players.

As far as using them to recreate the search for the Golden Fleece, I think that they could work by using a mixture of all three sets of rules.  However, I am a little disappointed in them as I think they have wasted too much space with unnecessary painting guides and not given enough thought to making the rules more complex.  I would have liked to see a bigger role for the individual gods, for example, and more individual stats for named heroes and monsters.  These may either come, I suppose, or you could write them yourself, but if you have to do that you might as well use something like an adapted set of Games Workshop's Lord of the Rings.

All in all, a few basic rules with a lot of padding.  There are lots of big, coloured photographs but actually many are too big for both the standard of sculpting and the standard of painting, which is workmanlike rather than brilliant.  So, I will give them a go but I am glad I only paid £14 not £22 for them!


  1. "All in all, a few basic rules with a lot of padding."

    It does seem to me that that is a very apt description of most of the new rules these days.... triumphs of style over substance....

    PS. We share your delight of the luscious Ms. Pendleton but prefer this one...


  2. Actually, this one is all about her power...