News for March 2010
Art of War 22
A look at combat in the upcoming Battles of Westeros
Battles of Westeros | Published 03 March 2010

For our first preview of the upcoming Battles of Westeros, designer Robert A. Kouba presents us with a look at combat. Enjoy!

With wars between the Great Houses of Westeros brewing, it is essential that the new commander be familiar with the tools at his disposal. This week, we will be covering several of the combat mechanics for the Battles of Westeros (BOW) core set including the eight-sided dice used in the game and how these dice might affect player strategies. We will also look at how engagements and flanking work.

Die Hard

During the creation of BOW, I really wanted to focus on different ways that I could differentiate between individual units. Of course, being a battle game, combat capabilities are the first things to be compared. After going through the books and picking apart Lannister and Stark differences, I knew that I wanted certain ranks of units (indicating quality of equipment and battle prowess) to be more vulnerable than others during a fight.

I knew this could be accomplished by changing the distribution of hits against particular ranks on the die itself. However, even using 3 sides for the lowest rank (green), 2 sides for the middle rank (blue), and 1 side for the highest rank (red) immediately ate up all the die sides on a basic 6-sided die. This made the decision easy to upgrade to an 8-sided die. On the die are 3 green rank hits, 2 blue rank hits, 1 red rank hits, 1 morale side, and 1 valor side which is typically a hit against any rank of unit. What does this mean on the field of battle?

Your green ranked scout units, while fast-moving, have the chance to be successfully hit 50% of the time. However, red ranked elite units can only be hit 25% of the time allowing them to remain on the field quite a bit longer than their green rank counterparts which can make all of the difference.

Man vs. Horse

Commanders should also know the different capabilities between cavalry and infantry units to fight a successful battle. Cavalry differ from infantry in two main areas: movement and combat.

In movement, I decided to work with the notion that the slowest cavalry on the battlefield is faster than the quickest moving infantry. Infantry can therefore only move either 1 or 2 depending on their rank versus the 3 or 4 of the cavalry.

In addition to movement differences, cavalry are never hit by valor hits rolled by infantry attackers. However, cavalry are still hit by valor symbols rolled by other cavalry units.

This combination of quick movement and hit reduction against infantry units really brings the cavalry (especially red rank) into a league all their own. However, the tendency to overcommit must be resisted as even the quickest moving cavalry can be encircled by a mob of inferior soldiers and destroyed.

Target Acquired...Engage!

The most basic technique to employ when attacking your opponent is the flanking maneuver. To describe this, commanders should first be familiar with the engagement system.

When attacking a target unit (with a melee attack), a player first checks to see if the target is “engaged” with another unit. If there is no engagement token present, the attacking player places an engagement token between his unit and the target and resolves the attack normally. During a future turn, however, an engaged unit may only attack the opponent’s unit that it is engaged with unless the unit tries to disengage. However, if a player’s unit disengages, it is subject to a free attack called a “Parting Blow.”

It is also possible to attack an engaged unit. If you do, no further engagement token is placed since the attacking unit is considered a flanking unit. The flanking unit, after rolling dice during an attack may choose a particular die result and reroll all dice showing that particular result once. In this manner an attacking player can engage with a weak unit and sweep in with a devastating flank attack from a stronger unit.

As war looms before us, it is important that commanders learn as much as possible before taking the field. Check back in the weeks to come to gain new information regarding both your House’s abilities and your opponent’s!

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 (22)

Published: 3/4/2010 3:49:31 AM

Designs on the dice are better.

but, and to me a significant but, how can a game with no Lore mechanics, no Lore on the dice be called battleLORE

Pedro Lunaris
Published: 3/3/2010 7:41:39 PM

to DarkElf:


unless they create enough alternative disengagement system mechanics, like command cards. they could appear often enough for it to be a real possibility, but not an option 100% of the times.

Published: 3/3/2010 6:58:33 PM

 Looks interesting so far.  One thing that always troubled me about BL was the notion that rank of the unit is tied up primarily in the offense (number of dice rolled) and not connected to defense.  I never understood why they bothered to distinguish the different helmet colors on the BL dice, since each color appears the same number of times.

Published: 3/3/2010 3:19:29 PM

The "engaged" mechanism is outdated and something other games ( like D&D miniatures) already stepped away from because all it creates is a cluttered up game without much movement at all.

Once a group of units is engaged it usually is a static slugfest till the end.



Published: 3/3/2010 2:47:54 PM

I would think that spear- or pike-armed infantry would be able to hit cavalry on valor rolls.  That's what the long poles are designed forgiving cavalry trouble.

Published: 3/3/2010 2:47:22 PM

So an elite cavalry unit can only be hit 12.5% of the time by infantry? That doesn't make a sense to me. Are there no spearmen or pikemen in Westeros?

Published: 3/3/2010 2:35:14 PM

The mechanics seem interesting. I like the engagement token idea, and the way disengaging works. I was originally going to give this game a pass because I'm not a fan of the books, but I'll keep an eye on it. If the combat system intrigues me enough, I may end up picking this up.

Published: 3/3/2010 2:07:25 PM

At Titeman: That is so true! My regular Battlelore opponent is actually slightly colorblind and its a struggle for him to make out the results sometimes, Fortunatly for me he also loves the game, or I would be stuck without opponents. =)

Published: 3/3/2010 1:54:26 PM

Actually, yes I am.  Should make it a little less tedious in the whole 'holding it up to the light to determine shade differences' thing that I normally need to do.

Good job (even if it wasn't intentional).  FFG FTW

Published: 3/3/2010 1:48:55 PM

Color blind players should be pleased with the different shield designs!...

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