Fantastic Battles

Fantastic Battles is a set of miniatures rules for fantasy or historical gaming. It is available as a PDF or for slightly more as a printed A4 book from Amazon. The author might have been poorly served by Amazon. For whom the dice rolls is a Spanish Civil War ruleset with a similar Amazon printing option but those rules are on heavier paper and with a sturdier cover.

There are limited rules for formations so the rules should work where the relationship between formations is key. They would be fine for most ancient or medieval periods. They would struggle with pike and shot where shot support horse and pike support shot. They should work for linear shot settings such as the Seven Years War. Napoleonics would not be a good setting.

Games can be run in any scale but fits in well with Warmaster based 10mms. Some of the provided lists matching closely with Warmaster army units. The key difference in modelling is that Warmaster runs units in sets of 3 bases. The basic Fantastic Battles building block can be a rectangle or square but putting 2 Warmaster bases together as 1 Fantastic Battles base works out. This will lead to some left over Warmaster bases and some fiddling for the few single base Warmaster units such as giants or the steam tank.

To compare the rules the same terrain will be used as in the last Warmaster report. The Empire army will be based on that in Fantastic Battles. There is no equivalent Chaos list but the ‘free men’ list is the closest starting point. Both forces have been closely modeled on those in the Warmaster battle although as the stats differ they will not be an exact match. In Fantastic Battles there is a short list of set troops types that can be customised by adding up to 3 traits, plus 1 more shared by all units of a race to each basic troop stat. Units are rated for resilience (hits), movement, melee, shooting and save. Some of the traits modify these base numbers others add a new ability. Add mounted and the unit moves faster and is better in melee. Flying gives obvious benefits over foot sloggers. A unit that is mounted and flying flies faster. Some abilities are mutually exclusive. A unit cannot be slow and fast. The limit to 4 abilities makes it harder to create some of the high power, high cost units available to Warmaster.

Although troops are bought by the unit they can be deployed alone or as groups. The groups are of up to 4 units of the same type. They add up their individual stats making them more powerful and more survivable. A single unit can move as it wishes. The groups are forced to wheel and adopt formations making them harder to shift about.

The Empire army is 991 points and Chaos 992. Unit costs are in increments such that getting an exact 1,000 is hard in troops alone. There are some cheaper ruses and special items that fill out the totals. Here the Chaos have ‘quartermaster’ to reduce problems with deployment. The Empire field ‘master of horse’ and gain a bonus to mounted charges. Chaos was the defender and deployed first. The Empire deployed second but in a reduced deployment area. The Chaos training allowed most of their line to stay in place. 2 units ran on in front; a boon as they were going in that direction anyway. The Empire saw some losses to units from desertion before the game began and the deployment of their knights, already a tight squeeze was further messed up.

In each turn the armies take turns in shooting then activate by chit draw. The armies have a chit per commander and another for all units out of command. The out of command units are activated first and have only a 50% chance of following orders. Here the steam tank has moved forward. The Empire begins to sort out the rest of the line. The knights are proving a problem as (like in Warmaster) most units cannot move through other units. The Chaos army moves forward in respectable order.

The steam tank hopes for the best but is a target for the massed Chaos chariots.

On the other flank barbarian horsemen crash into Empire crossbow on the hill but fail to achieve enough hits to eliminate them. Shooting and melee is through rolling dice based on the attacker’s stats and beating the save of the defender. Tactical factors will affect the dice rolled and some weapons change the score needed but it is a single die score not a case of roll to hit then roll to save. A problem with Fantastic Battles compared to Warmaster is that final hits need to be recorded. They can be reduced by a ‘bless’ spell from a wizard or a rally action from a commander but eliminating a significant number of hits from a unit within a game is unlikely. In Warmaster excess hits are removed at the end of a phase.

The Empire pistols are having difficulty getting into the combat as they need to wheel into action.

The crossbow don’t last long nor did the steam tank. Chaos units crash into combat where they can. The barbarian warriors are faster than the tougher Chaos infantry warriors. The activation sequence has an effect on melee combat which can extend over several turns. If a unit charges into another that has not yet activated it can counter-charge or if it has missiles gains a benefit in combat. Otherwise the target just hangs around, it will fight back but with no additional bonus. Where a combat has extended to a subsequent turn any unit in melee to its front only can elect to withdraw. They will end up out of combat but with their backs to the enemy. If that enemy has yet to active it can still move and if quick enough can catch the original disengagers in the rear. If a unit tries to disengage but is in contact with enemy that have already activated then there is no additional penalty if they fail.

The Chaos centre moves up. The unit in the built up area have been slowed by the terrain. The Empire pistols still hold on but losses are mounting. The Chaos knights are suffering badly from missile fire. As there is only 1 unit of them they can only soak up a more limited pool of losses.

The Empire right is looking good. The Chaos chariots and knights are gone. The missile units are running out of targets so are moving to find new targets instead of reloading. The Empire pistols are still hanging on but one unit of halberds has gone.

The pistols are finally removed but the victorious Chaos units are some way from the Empire centre. The crossbow unit piles into the flank of the remaining warrior and halberd melee. They are not great in combat but the flank attack benefits them and harms the Chaos warriors.

Breaking the Chaos warrior unit sees half the army destroyed and an Empire victory. Empire losses were also substantial but as their average unit cost was less they could hold out. If the Chaos army had time to sort out their victorious left the Empire would have been in trouble.

Fantastic Battles could appeal to anyone not liking the command activation rolls of Warmaster. The effect of these are, however, much reduced in Warmaster Revolutions. A limited number of units can always make a single half move forward each turn. As in Warmaster command range is important. Uncommanded units will have to roll for actions. There is no initiative for units close to the enemy as in Warmaster so in some cases generals will have less control in Fantastic Battles.

To wrap up a note on wheeling. Groups of 2, 3 or 4 units need to know how to wheel. With large blocks of models a wheel template is a big help here. If playing with 10mm figures on 4cm bases it is a fiddly business to work out wheels. Getting the calculations wrong can mean the difference between getting a charge in or not. Thankfully maths comes to the rescue and we can work out the length of any arc for a given radius. It is θ * r where θ is in radians. Using some rounding to nice numbers here are wheel distances for 4cm bases to angles that might be judged by eye. Those without a protractor to hand could use the movement value for the next highest degree of turn.

Degrees2 bases3 bases4 bases
304 cm6 cm8 cm
456 cm9 cm12 cm
608 cm12 cm16 cm
9012 cm18 cm25 cm