Earlier this month we gathered for a game that really pushed the limits of our table space and our comfort level with the Age of Fantasy rules. We planned a 2-on-2 team game, wherein Vincent and I joined forces with our two mighty dwarven armies to oppose John and Daniel, who were fielding an unlikely alliance of humans (John) and vampiric undead (Daniel).
After dabbling in a few introductory games of Age of Fantasy, we felt ready to tackle a larger game, so each player brought 1,000 points to the table, for a raucous game totaling 4,000 points among the four of us.
We set this game in Realmlight, the “new world” lost continent that is being rediscovered after several failed colonial expeditions in our Uthdyn fantasy setting. The mysterious ruins on this battlefield may offer hints as to the fate of the explorators who came before … whoever controls the battlefield at the end of the day can plumb this forbidden knowledge to their heart’s content!
Behold these epic photos of our deployment zones, teeming with stout warriors, grim spearmen, and cackling skeletons!
First up: rank upon rank of stalwart dwarf warriors, ready to plant a flag in Realmlight and defend their new homeland against all invaders.
Vincent and I talked over our army composition before the gsame. I volunteered to bring the “big guns” – a battalion of artillery – and he filled out his roster with heavy infantry. It was the classic “hammer and anvil” approach. Did it pay off? Read on and judge for yourself!
We didn’t quite figure out the fluff behind why John’s humans would ally with Daniel’s undead warriors, but there had to be a good reason, right?
John’s humans were supported by two units of cavalry: chivalrous knights and the fearsome pegasus riders! These two hard-hitting units affected the game even before they hit the table, as they forced Vincent and I to constantly second-guess our deployment choices.
Daniel’s undead army consisted of several blocks of infantry backed up by a fearsome vampire lord, a terrifying skeletal dragon, and a ghastly unit of undead cavalry.
With so much cavalry on the opposing side of the battlefield, it appeared at the outset that the stout dwarves were likely going to get outflanked and run down amid thundering hooves and flashing lances! Let’s see how things developed…
As with our previous game of Age of Fantasy, we opted once again to go with the “Ebb and Flow” rules for the turn sequence, wherein we drew colored poker chits from a sack for activation. As before, this prompted some incredibly exciting and unpredictable moments!
On the first turn, John’s 20-man unit of spearmen had a tasty prize in sight: this ancient monument to the conquerors of old. He sent his troop of soldiers atop the stone platform to seize the objective and reinforce it with a wall of spears.
On the other flank, the dwarves smiled grimly and hefted their axes, preparing to meet the teeming undead hordes in a narrow bottleneck created by a ruined wall and a crumbling stone tower.
Between the two of us, Vincent and I had not two, but three units of Iron Warriors. These heavily armored dwarves boast the most potent defensive statistics in the whole game. In fact, none of us really knew how powerful their defense would be…these units would prove to be incredibly troublesome for the opposing undead legions.
And of course, in the backfield watching all of this unfold were the dwarf artillery units, ready to engage in a long-range black powder duel to the death.
In truth, 3 of my 5 artillery units didn’t do a whole heckuva lot this game. The bombard, which could shoot over intervening terrain and deal fearsome blast damage, didn’t hit anything the entire game! But the multi-barrel organ guns made their kinsmen proud by delivering fearsome volleys of fire turn after turn.
Things got interesting on turn 2, when (after a full turn of tiptoeing and tap-dancing to stay out of range of my artillery) John committed his horse-mounted knights to a wily skirmish action. His bold maneuver prompted an immediate response from Vincent and me – we had to deal with this threat; we couldn’t just let him go prancing around in our backfield.
Sidenote: the Ebb and Flow activation rules really encouraged all manner of bold, kinetic activity on both sides of the board.
And that wasn’t all. The pegasus knights swooped in at an opportune moment and absolutely shut down my entire artillery brigade. Granted, they got peppered with hot lead the next turn, but still … mission accomplished.
So the dwarves pivoted to deal with the cavalry that was thundering across the field, and in doing so that allowed the undead to advance several units and take up positions to oppose the dwarves.
It was really shaping up to be a big mess … we had strong infantry units angling for the best charge lane, vampires lurking, ghouls flailing, and a big ol’ skeletal dragon spewing death and destruction.
Here’s a look through the ruins at the ranks of advancing dwarves as they edged closer to the undead lines. Looks like something out of a Warhammer rulebook, circa 1989!
This glorious set-piece arrangement quickly devolved into a howling melee as the dwarves charged into the massed spears of the skeleton horde. Daniel sent his two leaders – the vampire lord and the ghoul king – wading into the scrum to support the undead infantry.
Both of these guys proved to be absolute beasts in combat and single-handedly chewed up their way through some units. But the dwarves were not falling fast enough, and the game was speeding toward its conclusion.
Even the mighty pegasus knights, their hooves drenched in the blood of the dwarven artillery crew, found themselves in an improbable situation when they were charged – and routed off the table – by the dwarven runemaster. (In game terms, they were “wavering,” which meant that any subsequent attack or charge would finish them off.)
Ultimately the dwarves held on long enough to prevail in this game. The undead horde had failed to slay enough of them in the killing fields near the stone tower, leaving the survivors able to reform and contest the central objective.
All in all, Age of Fantasy gave us another fun game full of memorable moments and photo-worthy finishes. For now at least, all of the One Page Rules games seem to scratch our itch for generic 28mm fantasy battles as well as grimdark sci-fi games.
And while the published army lists and units are satisfactory, there’s also some interest in tinkering with the list builder and creating some custom units. Thankfully, the raw points calculator is scheduled to be released later this year through the OPR Patreon. Until then, let’s roll some dice!
Beautiful game and glorious retelling! I am painting up more heavy infantry for the rematch. I have recorded your runemaster in the Book of Grudges.
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Interesting game. Would you liken the rules to another game set? It’s not one I’ve heard of before. I’ve just been introduced to another ruleset called fantastical battles which I’m hoping to try out shortly
The rules are part of the One Page Rules family of games, which (as you might surmise) are intended to be fast playing with minimal record keeping and rulebook flipping. Most units have a handful of stats, plus a few more for their weaponry … far less than a typical game of 40k or Age of Sigmar. Perhaps most importantly, the game uses alternating unit activation (as opposed to IGOUGO), so players are active participants throughout the turn. Honestly, it provides everything I want in a fantasy game, and it’s built to let me use my own miniatures with no blind loyalty to any particular toy soldier producer. I really like it a lot.
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