Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Dice and Stones - Strength & Honour AAR

My last game of the convention was another demo of a set of rules that had piqued my interest. 

"Strength & Honour" is an upcoming set of rules by Mark Backhouse and published by Reisswitz Press and Too Fat Lardies. What sets it apart from other ancients wargames is the intended scale. While it can be played in any scale, it's designed for use with 2mm miniatures!

Seeing those tiny, rice-grain sized units on various social media platforms, I couldn't believe how a relatively simple paintjob could give the impression of thousands of warriors gathered on a battlefield in formations that larger scales could only dream of. For example, the Romans could actually form up in their cohorts on a single base, while wild warbands of Gallic or German warriors looked more like flowing masses of bodies. 

When I saw that there would be demo games at Historicon, I jumped on the chance to play.

The game was based on the Battle of Vosges in 58 BC, between the German forces of Ariovistus and the Roman forces of Julius Caesar. I ended up controlling the German center as Ariovistus. 

The Romans had a mix of veteran, trained, and raw legions, with some cavalry and skirmishers on the flanks. The Germans consisted mostly of warbands, with some superior warbands scattered about alongside skirmishers and cavalry on the flanks. 

Maurice, who ran the game, walked us through the various aspects of the rules. I'll talk about my impressions through this after-action report. 

Most units in our game were big, lumbering blocks of troops that were best used when just marching forward. Cavalry and Skirmishers had better chances to maneuver, and all movement is randomized. It takes command points from army leaders to move multiple units together in formation.

Movement is done via grids, which is a big plus in my book.

My most stunning takeaway is that this game is firmly rooted in Blood Bowl, of all things. Plenty of actions can result in a "Reversal of Fortune," which stops your turn and lets the opposite side start acting. Poor combat results, a failed maneuver roll, etc. 

The combat is also a lot like Blood Bowl's Block Dice. Units will compare their Battle Strength, which can be modified. If they're equal you roll 1d6 and look at relevant result on the combat chart. If your strength is higher, you roll 2d6 and pick the result. If it's lower, you roll 2d6 and your opponent picks. 

From my observations of the game, it's rare for a base to disappear entirely unless something has gone disastrously wrong. What happens instead is that bases will shove each other back and forth, racking up Misfortune cards (or the much worse Disaster cards) for their side as they lose combat and cohesion. These cards have numbers on them, but they're hidden from both sides.

The main purpose of the cards is a way to check army morale through a fun rule named "Haemonculus Est" (roughly "Little Man" in Latin). When a side calls it, the other sides' cards are counted. They're tallied together and compared to the army's morale value. If it's equal or higher, the game ends. If it's over half, then the game continues, but the side becomes tired and gets movement and morale penalties. And if it doesn't reach have, the side whose cards are being counted gets to remove one of cards from the pile (likely the highest value). 

The two sides had their own strengths in the game. The Romans were better on the defensive and, when supporting each other, could easily rebuff individual German warbands. 

In comparison, the Germans warbands gained strength bonuses when charging or when supported by other warbands. If a Roman legion was cut off from its fellows (like one ended up ended up on our right flank) it resulted in some pretty nasty combat outcomes. 

This game ended with another historical results. For the first half it seemed like the Romans had the better of the Germans, dishing out card after card and throwing the German left flank and center back. The Germans did manage to rally later on, smashing the Roman's own left flank with some deft cavalry maneuvers. 

It was the Romans, however, who called "Haemonculus Est" first, and despite the German's attempts to delay the inevitable, there were just too many cards to hope that our army morale wouldn't be reached. It was a small consolation that the Romans were fairly bloodied as well, and had the Germans called "Haemonculus Est" first, we may have reversed history.  

Maurice had brought along six armies from Korhyl Miniatures, whose products are featured in the above pictures. I bought a Roman army and a Pontic army, and I'm looking forward to getting a copy of Strength & Honour when it's released. I'll probably pick up a second Roman army from Korhyl so I can play out the Roman Civil War, as the rules will apparently allow players to run campaigns and watch their units evolve over time. 


  1. I'm very glad that you had fun playing H&S. As a play tester, it's exciting to see the results of this set rules. I hope to play a game of it at the next Historicon.

    1. I'm looking forward to the release! This week's blog post will be a painting tutorial on how I'm planning to complete the armies I bought, and I'm planning to run at least one game at a upcoming club meeting.

  2. Thank you very much for the review - I have a question and any possible answer could be much appreciated - grid based sets are not my cup of tea and I was wondering if there is any proviso in the rules to switch grids for ΒW in terms of movement, distant shooting, outcome moves and the like - thank you in advance