Thursday, 2 October 2014

Dux Britanniarum for The Wars of The Roses: The Fate Cards

Fortuna in the act of not smiling on us.

While there is nothing wrong with using the Fate Cards from Dux Britanniarum, disregarding their titles, I wanted something more Medieval to give the rules some character of their own. As this is a game where the opposing forces are from the same culture, one set of cards does it all and both players could in fact draw from a single deck, which will make life even more interesting.

The only change I want to make, along with adding a number of optional new cards, is to allow players to either play them on their opponent's troops, or on their own forces, as they feel appropriate.

What to do with the cards in this respect will become apparent upon reading hopefully. I don't suggest that you have to use all of them (or even any of them) and I'll leave the numbers of each card included in the deck(s) up to yourselves. There are some quite powerful cards, which I really think should only be present once in the deck though. You have been warned!

I've made the cards available as a word document here, so they will be easy for folk to edit them, or make them pretty, as they wish.

The use of the cards is otherwise as presented in the rules, i.e. play them as and when you wish and you only get five (unless this has changed in the Pre-Game Phase). I'm going to go through each of the twenty cards (two sets of two and a set of four, are quite similar, so I'll group them together) to explain both what they do and how my mind was working when I came up with them.


As I see it, Dux Britanniarum is a game about commanding. This might seem like a no-brainer, but how many games are there, where you see the player fussing about whether this or that unit is in line, or column, or whatever? While there is some of this in DB itself, I've tried to keep the micro-management of units to a minimum.

To this end, some of the cards represent random actions taken by subordinates, or other examples of leaders 'taking the initiative', with good or bad results. These are the numerous examples throughout history of 'shit happening' over which the leaders of armies had little control.

While many would go un-remarked upon and had little effect on the battle in question, some of them snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, or vice versa. As players we are familiar with them ourselves; that fudged dice-roll, that occasional happenstance which wins/loses the game for us. That's what I've been thinking of when coming up with these.

The Cards

Bows and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune.

Sometimes the man of the moment is just waiting for his chance to shine and now he gets his chance. You could always create a card which does exactly the opposite of course.

As Fit For Worm Meat As Any Other.

Does what it says on the tin. Various forms of fraud were commonly perpetrated, be it 'Falstaff' style recruitment cons, or just receiving pay for men who were dead... I don't know who said "It looks damn fine on paper, but there's no such thing in the field" but he knew exactly what I meant.

You can only play this card on a group which has yet to shoot or engage in melee. It's meant to be a surprise you see.

Get Your Horses! Only One Kingdom Each!/To Horse!

Sometimes the man on the spot thinks he knows best, deal with it. Shame about the rule which allows you to mount/dismount once per game though.

I Fathom Not Your Intent.

What meaning to the message you convey, is not always the message which is garnered by the recipient. Like that sentence, your orders are unclear to the recipient. There should be a few of these cards knocking around in big battles.

I Thought You Packed Them?

Logistics was not a military science in the fifteenth century and as almost everything was packed into barrels, for ease of transport, mistakes could be made and groups go un-supplied.

Zounds! It's Raining!

Bad weather was a real issue, even bows were susceptible to its effects, as the dampening of strings reduced their effectiveness... keep that under your hat though!

Treachery! Treachery!

Medieval soldiers were a cautious lot and given the 'fluid' political situation, who can blame them. The fear of treachery was greater than the actual event itself however and sometimes the hive mind of the common soldiery got it wrong... like when this card is played.

Well I Thought That Went Well.

Battles are confusing affairs and only what is going on nearby will affect your troops. Sometimes the situation can be misread, despite the reality. On this occasion, your men are convinced that they are victorious, despite evidence to the contrary.

This card only affects the combat resolution table roll and does not reduce the real effects of the melee, i.e. casualties etc.

That's Another Fine Mess You've Got Me Into!

Stanley, Stanley, Stanley... He gets a bad press actually and he was not the only noble who's loyalty was negotiable, added to which were those who were just cautious or lacked confidence.

Regardless however, for this guy, personal survival trumps risking all for the cause and he will see how things are going before committing himself to finally choosing a side.

Now His Dad See, He Was A Proper Lord.

You can't please all of the people all of the time, or even some of them at all. No matter how much you try. This card virtually forces you to put your character in danger, with the advantage of gaining your men's respect if you are successful. Some cads might choose to play this on their opponent instead though.

Where Do You Suppose They Found That?

Don't we all love artillery? So what if in this era it was more bang than bombshell, we likes us some Gonnes! Truth be told, I struggled to think of a way of including them initially, so this card allows one or more (depending on how many of these cards you include) to be deployed for a limited period in the campaign.

I'll come up with some rules for them and also a way of 'buying them' later.

Look Out Milord!

The use of this card prevents your character, or one of his subordinates becoming a casualty. Play after a failed dice roll.

I Have A Cunning Plan - Field Defences.

The use of impromptu field defences was quite common throughout the period. While they were rarely battle-winning strategies, they often levelled the playing field a little.

That's just what they do here - a unit that this card is played on can increase their 'level of superiority' by one class in combat. How you play this card is up to you. Either play it before a potential combat to discourage an attack on a vulnerable unit, or play it once your opponent has actually charged the unit.

Either way, the unit in question retreats one base depth and suitable markers for the defences are deployed along the unit's frontage. Where the unit is part of a massed formation, then the card can be deployed on the formation as a whole.

I Have A Cunning Plan - Ambushes.

Occasionally commanders would attempt to tip the balance by concealing units, or unintentionally units would be hidden by the terrain itself. These cards allow such events to be exploited. They take some forethought though and a unit needs to be kept off table in anticipation of this card turning up in your hand.

If you manage to obtain this card, then all is good, you can then deploy the 'reserve' unit as indicated on the card. The only proviso is that you cannot deploy it behind the general line of the enemy's force - This is the 'offside rule'. Directly to a flank or in front is acceptable.

At any time the player gives up waiting for this card to turn up, he may deploy the reserve unit on his table edge as a 'late arrival' and activate it as normal in the turn he does this.

I Say!

This is a potentially devastating card, which literally reverses fortune on one dice-based test or event, whether yours or your opponent's. It's effect is somewhat negated by the vacillation surrounding the decision of when to use it.

Regardless of how and when you use it, the card will only reverse fortune, not cause the impossible to happen. When used in any situation, the card will only produce the best possible result in a single instance. In other words, it will only change a single roll of the die or dice, not the situation that causes it. If played on your opponent this is reversed to give them the worst possible result.

You might use it to tip the result of an unlucky shooting roll; a group of six figures might roll 2 hits and four misses. Playing the card will give you four hits and two misses... or vice versa if you played it on your opponent instead.

You might use it to prevent your noble becoming a casualty in combat, or to cause your opponent's noble to become a casualty after making a successful roll.

I don't recommend having more than one of these cards in the deck.

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