Three Plains Rule Changes

Dave Scholes (@DaveTheWargamer) creator of The Three Plains, over at Epic Wargaming has posted the below video talking about the new scenarios, Dwarves and some rather interesting rule changes. You can read my review of The Three Plains V2 here.

The changes to the movement rules that Dave is discussing the video actually have a dramatic impact on the game because, as Dave puts it, units are now more like sponges than bricks as in the regiment moves and flows through its environment. So, perhaps, more like silly putty?

Aside from making an absolute boat load of sense it makes the game quicker, more dynamic but far more tactical. Ranged units won’t be able to sit any longer at one end of a bridge smug in the knowledge that an attacking unit will take two or three turns to get to them thanks to all the faffing about reforming.

More significantly than that, loose forming units – Skirmishers and the like – will now be able to envelope (cool name for the rule if you ask me Dave) an enemy and curb stomp them to high hell. Take the example on the video, about 8 minutes in, of the Ogres and the hero. Under the new movement rules Ogres are able to evenlope (hint hint) a smaller unit delivering maximum damage and increased battle stress. It makes sense, especially restricting it to certain types of unit, not to mention being far more cinematic and satisfying for the person doing the kicking.

The impact of the rule is this:
1. To take that specific example – although the Ogres surround the hero, it prevents other units from attacking also, which stops gamers from mobbing other regiments thanks to careful manoeuvring and perfectly proportioned blocks of troops that happen to fit all nicely together.

2. Although the Ogres are, indeed, giving the hero a good kick, they are now vulnerable to counter attack from all sides, all in their rear/side arc which, in turn, makes them far more likely to get their skulls caved in and puts any survivors under increased battle stress. So now positioning of troops is vitally important beyond getting the charge in. Especially as terrain is now less of an issue to navigate. Skirmishing screens will become exactly that, mobbing outriders, chariots or holding up units, but will only last if there’s other units nearby for support. Otherwise, they can find themselves rear charged whereas a ‘standard’ unit would have remained in closed ranks.

So, overall, units will be easier to move generally, thanks to the additional rule that units have an anchor point in the middle of the front rank now, but their ability to respond to their environment means that games will be more satisfying, and  a lot less of a faff. Loose forming units will also play a much bigger part in games as they’ll be far more combat effective albeit at the risk of counter attack.

One thing that I think is worth considering is that not all units will blindly launch themselves into combat. Training, strategy and self-preservation will play a part to a greater or lesser extent. Rather than have a blanket rule either way, the player gets the choice to either hold ranks or envelope. However, holding ranks in the face of an easy kill is almost too tempting for even the most battle hardened warrior, and impossible to resist if you’re an orc, so if a unit that can envelope chooses to hold ranks instead must pass a soldiering test.
This gives players the option of either delivering maximum kills or maintaining formation and protecting themselves against counter attack. This obviously means that orcs and the like will almost always envelope whether you’d like them to or not, but makes them a far more characterful army for it.

It’ll be interesting to see how the rules develop over the next 10-11 months leading up to The Three Plains V3. I’ll keep you posted.