My first war game that did not take place on the floor on in the sand box was WRG 7th edition, in 1979. The Game master Alan Lucien (who is now my surrogate godfather) set up a game of Romans vs. Undead. The Romans were minifigs, and the undead the old and beautiful Valley of the four winds ( also minifig?) Well, suffice to say, I was hooked!
|Knights and Magick by Arnold Hendrick , 1980|
In 1980 I went to Pacificon, a convention in the bay area, and there, dominating the dealers room was Heritage launching their Knights and Magick rules. Not only did they have rules, which I'll get back to in a bit, but also three full lines of miniatures; a baron's wars period set, dungeons and dragons under license AND Lord of the Rings. Even more, they had their own very good line of paints...oh and they made castle parts and buildings.
And we wonder where GW gets their ideas...
Back to the rules. The rules are very straight forward with some especially at the time innovations that were easy to follow. The entire "to hit" system is a grid, with weapon types going down and armor type combinations going across. Find your number, add in factors (moral class, cover) and roll a d15 to hit.
Yes, a d15- or rather a d6 and a d20 together.
For a kid, the rules were easy to comprehend, points systems for troops were more or less balanced, Army lists covered ancients up to Wars of the roses, plus all the fantasy races , and the campaign system had wonderful maps and scenarios. Oh, there is also 6 pages of the books that specifically teach Heraldry.
Nostalgia paints a pretty picture you say?
Well, yes, I thought so too. I had long since lost all my rules, but still had the systems pages to play the game. Feeling nostalgic about it, I managed to procure a set. Expecting to read them and smile a bit then put them away, I find myself instead re-reading them and saying, " that is smart... Oh I like that- damn... that's Duke Siegfried's name ( along with other now notables in the industry).
This is getting too long, so here's a few things I like about my rekindled love Knights and Magick
· All the main rules fit on three pages
· Army lists and point systems are cohesive and as far as I can tell, balanced ( typo for the longbow aside)
· The game scales from a knight and his retinue of a dozen to full scale war
· Firing always happens on your opponent's turn- no shooting out of phase or troops hightailing it from one piece of cover to the next without you being able to shoot them
· As a professional designer, I appreciate the designer, Arnold Hendricks's notes which gives mathematical breakdowns of chances to hit, why the system was designed, and a build it from scratch point system.
Well, there you go. Hopefully I made you think back on a game from way back or maybe even playing these rules. Keep posted for further (and more picture filled) episodes on K&M!