News for May 2010
A Clash of Swords 13
A Look at Battles and Skirmishes in Battles of Westeros
Battles of Westeros | Published 26 May 2010

Soon A Song of Ice and Fire fans will be able to recreate their favorite battles from George R.R. Martin's beloved book series in Battles of Westeros. Today continues a series of previews in which designer Rob Kouba takes us through the various mechanics behind the game. Previously we looked at combat, terrain, troop management, unit types, and commanders. Today, Rob will take us through the differences between battles and skirmishes.

Before setting up, players must decide which kind of engagement they will participate in. The core set offers two types of engagements: battles and skirmishes. This week’s preview will go over the differences between the two.

Battles are standard scenarios that represent conflicts that happened or could have happened in between the lines of what is explicitly described in the novel series, A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin. Typically, customization in this type of engagement and is more about changing the “historical” timeline set forth in the books. For instance, what if Jaime Lannister was able to overcome the Stark ambush in Whispering Wood? Or what if the Lannister encampments surrounding Riverrun were not disbanded by Robb Stark’s forces?

Each battle details several key aspects pertinent to the game including duration of gameplay, victory conditions, battlefield map setup, forces to be used by each House, and much more.

Click the above image to enlarge.

The first battle is entitled “Clash on the Kingsroad.” It details an encounter where Stark supporters are attempting to travel north to rendezvous with Robb Stark’s host when they run into a band of Lannister outriders traveling with infantry. Assuming they are riding to tell Tywin Lannister information that could be detrimental to Robb, the Stark loyalists assume defensive positions near the river’s fords as well as neat the Kingsroad itself.

Lannister forces cannot afford to be cut off and attempt to breakout of the Stark net. The two control markers represent strategic positions that Lannister forces need to take from Starks while Stark forces need to defend them at all costs.

Upon first glance, it seems Lannister cavalry and experienced troops can easily win the day. However, their lack of of any ranged combat allows Stark archers to take advantage and attack Lannister forces as they march across the fords. The fords also slow the Lannister advance, bottlenecking units at the river crossings.

While this is a very basic battle, it is great building block for rookie commanders that are experiencing Battles of Westeros for the first time.

The number of battles in the core set is finite, however. Commanders may endeavor to play in new engagement outside of any sort of storyline restrictions. Or perhaps commanders would like to have more customizable options. For both cases, players can play a skirmish conflict instead of a battle.

Players start by selecting a skirmish to play which give victory conditions and other pertinent information much like a battle does. Where the skirmish differs is that, more often than not, commanders are up to the player. Forces and terrain overlays are determined randomly by Skirmish Setup cards. This allows for a lot of replayability.

An interesting choice that must be made when selecting your commander in a skirmish is how good of a commander you should take. By taking the best commanders, your best assortments of units are then unavailable to you. However, if you take so-so commanders, there is usually no guarantee that you will actually recruit your best units (there is only a chance).

Keep checking back for more about Battles of Westeros!

Set in the rich and vibrant world of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, Battles of Westeros is a board game of tactical battlefield combat for two players. With scenarios that include beloved characters and settings, players can recreate the most significant battles from The War of the Five Kings.

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Comments (13)

Published: 5/30/2010 1:49:07 PM

i agree, that sounded like it will be interesting and work well

Published: 5/27/2010 5:07:04 PM

Yes, Schmytz' link covers it. Great system, and great way of balancing things.

Published: 5/27/2010 11:27:19 AM

OK, what I posted in my previous botched comment is a link to the Hopeless Gamer blog where they discuss skirmishes in BoW, amongst other things.


Published: 5/27/2010 11:21:45 AM
Published: 5/27/2010 9:43:08 AM

@ Schmytz and bcwMD

Well, those two explanations sound at least fitting and actually quite intresting. I think I could live pretty well with such a system.

And yes, BoW coming with the Call of Arms expansion right from the start is another winner! Considering its the only expansion I own for Battlelore...

Published: 5/27/2010 12:03:19 AM

My understanding from others who have played this is that the commanders have units listed on them as wellthe better the commander, the better the unit. When you a commander, you're taking their card out of the deck of available unitsso if you take The Mountain That Rides, you're also pulling out your best cavalry, perhaps. So you now have Ser Gregor, but the cavalry remaining in your deck to draw would be limited. If you took a weaker commander, Gregor's card would still be in the deck and you'd have a chance of drawing it and being able to use the good unit on there.

Published: 5/26/2010 11:40:15 PM

I don't remember where I read this but I believe that army composition in skirmishes is determined by random card draws. There is a special deck for this purpose. Commanders add their own cards to this deck: good commanders adding less powerful troops and vice versa. Something like that.

Published: 5/26/2010 9:58:34 PM

Well if there are point costs then it could be that by taking a good commander it will not leave the player with enough points left for good units. And maybe the better the commander is the easier he can rally better units to his banner. So it could be a combination of the two if that is how it works.

Published: 5/26/2010 8:05:39 PM

 @Assariel: When I saw BoW had battles (scenarios) and skirmishes (¡yay for this!) I hoped there was some kind of point system; I don't know how different commanders affect the choice of units (the best commander having mediocre units seems kinda antithematic, but whatever), but having to decide between the strength of the commander or the strength of the units (and hoping you indeed get good units) could give this a lot more strategy.

Published: 5/26/2010 7:57:58 PM

 @echtalion: It seems to me it is a north-pointing thingie that can also be used to indicate the scatter of a ranged attack (reminds me a lot of the Tide of Iron one, does BattleLore have one too?).

Published: 5/26/2010 6:06:33 PM

Any idea on what "10.Directional Indicator" might be?

Published: 5/26/2010 3:41:32 PM

The last part is especially sketchy... if you take your best commander (didn't know the vary that much) you cant get your best troops. If you take a mediocre commander you also dont know, if you can take your best units...

How should I understand this? Its far from clear...  Is this due to the available cards you can draw afterwards, are there pointcosts for units and you have to build around that?

Still I love this game more with every new information. :)

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