This is going out a little later than planned, but that’s more me not being able to organise myself out of paper bag than anything else. But rejoice because it’s finally here; my review of The Three Plains, version 2, by Epic Wargaming. This was originally slated for before Christmas but as 2nd edition was close to completion Dave asked me to hang fire.
Then, as it turned out, I ended up proof reading the core rules and The Shell Case got a special mention at the back of the book. So it turned out for the best.
But on to the review.
For those that have never heard of Epic Wargaming or The Three Plains, it is a fantasy game set in the realm of Many so-called because the various species that inhabit the world can’t agree on a name which, as a concept I just think is ace.
The world of Many exists on the second plain, the first being order, the third being chaos. So mortals sandwiched between the fantasy version of the Vorlons and the Shadows. Which isn’t a complaint, just an observation.
The other thing that you should know about The Three Plains is that it’s completely free. The rules and the armies are all available to download for nowt. And no I haven’t been drinking anti-freeze, the armies are free too because the creator, Dave, designed the armies so they are cut and fold. This means the size of your games are limited only by the number of trips you can stand making to your local branch of Staples.
In a way this almost counts against TTP because part of the appeal to wargaming is building and painting huge armies. But the more I thought about it the more I realised that I was not only being hideously judgemental as out of the hundreds of models I own only a fraction are painted. This isn’t to say that I don’t like painting, because I do, but it’s a time issue. What hobby time I do have I usually spend gaming or building samples or the odd purchase.
What TTP allows us as gamers to do is not only get a game for nothing but to also build armies relatively quickly without any of the pressure to paint them, because it’s already done. Plus if anything gets damaged the resulting repair work is limited to printing off a new sheet of blokes.
And I’d also urge you to take a look at the images below of the models because, although hand drawn they are actually quite cool and embody the fantasy regiment ethos very well. Which is faceless hordes but with a few tasty details thrown in.
On to the game.
The Three Plains is, like so many games created by independents, and even like my own Project Awesome, a labour of love. You can see it in every page and every rule that was written. What makes TTP interesting is that it’s a proper hardcore strategy game.
What I mean by that is; as I read through, I was continually surprised by the number of rules crammed in to the game. There’s bloody loads of them. Don’t think this is a bad thing because it isn’t because it’s a proper hardcore wargame. It’s all the traits of some of the most ambitious wargames I’ve read rules for, or played, all rolled into one. And what that means is that it outstrips the likes of Warhammer because it’s about the tactics. It’s about using the right units for the right job rather than having mental models that don’t belong on a gaming board. It’s, for want of a better term, a purestrain.
What that means is a fantasy games that offers you a plethora of unit choices from infantry to chuffing massive beasties with rules from everything from magic to said beasties losing their shit and rampaging about the place. It does mean that for the first few games there may be a fair bit of rule checking. If I’m honest, for me, I could do with something a little simpler as the only things, in my book, that should stop play is toilet breaks, trips to the kitchen for more beer/soft drinks/snacks or to take the piss out of someone who just got curb stomped. That said my comfort zone, at the moment, is the likes of 40k and skirmish games and even then I rarely venture into the realms of fantasy as lose patients when it comes to moving large blocks of infantry.
But that’s just me and my slightly childish approach to gaming (I require power armoured super humans, big guns and large explosions). Rule flicking aside, the game is methodical, well-reasoned and well written. I think there was maybe two occasions in the entire book I had to re-read a rule because I didn’t understand it. And considering the game allows you to pretty much represent any set of battle conditions and scenario for using block infantry it deserves its place amongst the more common fantasy games.
There’s also a couple of rules in there that are actually quite inspired. The first being Sense. This isn’t so much line of sight as it is situational awareness. The power of sight means that, yes you are more aware of things happening in front of you and therefore are far more likely to react to them. And, as such, you’re far less likely to react to the sneaky bastard about to stab you in the back. It’s a tidy enough rule that you shouldn’t need to faff about checking every time you want to do something which is an indication about the standard of writing in The Three Plains.
The other is Battle Stress & Fatigue. This is similar to fatigue rule in Saga. Essentially the horrors and exertions of war put a strain on your troops making them less combat effective. I really like rules like this and it’s pleasing to see them cropping up more often now. I think it makes games far more tactical as whenever I use to play Warhammer it was often a case of ‘if I can make that unit break…’. In TTP it’s a lot harder to do as you have to properly break the unit’s resolve to achieve that.
I think the all important clue is in the publisher name. Epicwargaming. TTP is an epic wargame. It’s scale is epic. It’s rules are epic. The fact that you can print off, in theory, limitless numbers of figures means the games are epic. It is, simply, epic.
My first thought was that TTP would really appeal to historical and fantasy gamers, and although that’s true, I think I’d be selling the game short because it is actually really very good. It’s background is rich and will only get better as Dave works on it over the iterations. The rules make sense and the volume of them isn’t really a problem, I’m just lazy. The armies are diverse, and the range of units broad. Combined with the fact that it’s free to make more means that you can have some absolutely mental games.
As I say, The Three Plains is an epic game. In scope, scale, ambition and passion. Everyone go to the Epicwargaming and download it, play it and love it.