The Barons’ War | Fortified Niche playtest!

Ye medieval times was the best time to hop on a horse, round up some friends, and beat the shit out of another guy who did the same. That’s what you do in The Barons’ War, the game we just reviewed for the podcast.

In The Barons’ War, you collect armies from the mid-medieval Britain, and then fight it out in one of 15 different scenarios. The game has stats for many different units of the period – knights, sergeants, spearmen, etc. – historical characters, and also Robin Hood (and his crew).
The ugly deployment rectangles are for the deployment zones. There’s more than a dozen of deployment maps, some of them even asymmetrical, and many of them bringing you straight into the action.
A 500 points game of The Barons’ War can be fairly small – you can look at the starter army PDFs on the dedicated website to get a clue. However, a 1000 points game can make the 3×4 board (or at least the deployment zones) fairly crowded.
The Barons War uses tokens and morale dice to track various states of the unit. It’s a fairly simple system at face value.
What it isn’t is a well explained system. I remember dozing off while reading Oathmark, but the overarching feeling this time was confusion. It’s not that the rules are complex – we did manage to get the hang of Force on Force, after all. The explanations and the layout are to blame for a lot of it (more than even in Force on Force).
Which is a shame, since The Barons’ War comes with a lot game aids: there’s a good online army builder, and the downloads section of the Warhost website has a lot to offer. The only bit of player hostility that I encountered is the game having strict unit coherency rules, but no limit on unit size. When I asked about it, I got the answer that it’s working as intended. I guess the implication here is that a player who didn’t read the rules well enough deserves to have their unit explode off the table.
All things considered, The Barons’ War is certainly a game. It does have a few neat features and does quite a few things right, but overall, I can’t recommend it unless you really hate SAGA boards.

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