February 21, 2013

Small games of Field of Glory (or how to get people playing FOG)

Today I wanted to touch on the subject of getting people to join in and play FOG. As I’ve stated before (at least I think I have) FOG is a wonderfully simple game hidden under a rather heavy looking set of rules. Fog 2.0 has cleaned things up a little but the game itself still looks complicated to the new player.
On top of this when you set up two 800 point armies (Which I always stop and think how awesome they look) your new player is faced with looking at these large armies and working out just how much he will have to buy and paint to get into the game. For many players a full 800 point FOG army is a monster
undertaking, easily 150 miniatures or more. Whether you collect and play in 28mm or 15mm the cost is not inconsiderable (certainly easier on the wallet for 15mm, but 28mm plastics are making the more common ancient armies far easier to do in 28mm).

Just recently (well over the last 6 months) I’ve been working on a way to make the game of FOG easier to get into and play for a beginner with the aim being that the new player will eventually build their army up to a fully fledged 800 point force. This is hardly a new concept – this was always the goal for us back in the day when I worked in Games Workshop Retail stores. The concept is play with smaller forces and less terrain on a smaller table – in essence you are getting a cut down version of the main game.

The format I’ve been using which has proved to be very successful so far is:

- 400 point forces.
- Only one general and it must be a troop commander rather than an inspired commander or force commander.
- Army minimums still apply. So you must observe minimum BG size and compulsory units. (So far I haven’t found a single army that doesn’t fit within 400 points. If you find one let me know.
- Battles are played on a 4 foot x 3 foot playing area.
- Terrain is limited to compulsory choices and 1-2 pieces of terrain per player with the standard terrain placement rules.

Under this format a standard army is 5-8 battle groups on average and the playing time of a game is usually under 2 hours (often far less than this). This makes this format fast and fun to play and perfect for evening gaming after work when you can’t afford to stay up into the early hours of the morning because of work the next day. The painting side of these smaller forces is far easier as well as the battle groups are often only 4 bases or 6 bases each in size (although we did have one game where the Gaul player took 2 battle groups of 12 Gaul’s as the solid centre of his force!).

Thanks to this format I’ve slowly converted all my regular gaming buddies into playing FOG and we are slowly working our way towards all having 800 points with some talk of second armies in the not too distant future.

Id love to here what others are doing to get their friends into Fields of Glory.


Matthew said...

I think that's a great idea Mark and I'd be interested in trying that format with some of my current armies. I love FoG as it has good sized armies and simple resolution mechanics. The only thing that does frustrate me is the length of the games. This can make tournaments more tiring than they need to be.

I know the length of my games will change as I play more and become more comfortable with using my armies and the rules.

Thanks for the thought provoking post :-)

Mark Hazell said...

Hi Matthew

Cheers mate, its working well for us in our evening games as there isn't as much time for gaming in an evening as one would like. I also find them quite exciting as putting your only general into a combat can win or lose the whole game for you. The more you play the faster you do get but at 800 points FOG is at least a 3 hour game unless both players barrel along (and I myself don't normally find that fun). Id rather relax and take my time. im certainly happy to play 400 point games any time.

Matthew said...

Hi Mark - thank you for hosting me on Saturday. It was great to meet you and the other FoGers. I enjoyed the 400pt a side battle with Rob - another learning curve for me, but it did make me wonder about the board size. What do you think about 4 x 4? The reason I ask is that the close proximity of the armies at the start of play is quite pronounced, and I wonder how cavalry armies would cope with this, because on a 4 x 3 I was only one move away from pinning my opponent with LH. 4 x 3 makes great sense for Biblical and Classical armies, but by the Triumphant of Cavalry (to coin Armati) I wonder if it's too small. I'd be really interested in your thoughts?

Mark Hazell said...

Hi Matthew

Your most welcome mate. We did originally start with a 4 x 4 table but found it ended up having the same issues that a 6 x 4 table does for 800pt forces. It takes to long to get to contact with your opponent. I believe (although i may be wrong) that this is one of the main reasons why in FOG 2.0 a standard sized table for 600pt - 800pt games is now done on a 5 x 3 table. One of the things they were trying to change was the cav and LH forces being able to constantly shoot and scoot their way to victory - although totally accurate from a point of history, it doesn't make for a fun war game. In the 4 x 3 format armies that want to keep their distance with their main body of troops can still do so the just can choose to deploy further back on the board and not set up the full 12" onto the table. Since none of the lads in our gaming group use armies mainly made up of cav and LH options it hasn't been an option for us to test or be concerned by.

The quick game system i've come up with is meant to allow us to get to grips with your opponent quickly - there is still options for maneuver and tricky play styles depending on the force you use. It can take a while to figure some of them out as its quite a different game with roughly half the standard number of battle groups and only one general. I think a horse archer army in 400pts can still win on a 4 x 3 table. (of course id love to hear from someone out their who plays such an army as i have only speculation on my side at the moment).