L'Art De La Guerre (ADG) is a set of wargaming rules for ancient and medieval periods. This rule set has been around for a number of years, but has only just been translated into English. I understand that the English edition is presently available at North Start Military Figures and retails for £27.00 GBP.
ADG will take between 2.0 and 2.5 hours to complete and will require between 20 and 30 elements. Elements are based in accordance with DBX/FOG format, except that medium and heavy foot units will need to be double-based.
The game is similar to DBX in that each army is split into three commands, with each command being led by a general. Generals must make a dice roll at the start of their turn to determine the number of ‘command points' which are available for moving and/or rallying friendly troops. There are various grades of general, with ‘ordinary' commanders generating between 1 and 3 command points per turn and ‘strategist' commanders generating between 2 and 5 command points per turn.
Movement is measured in terms of base widths (BWs), with heavy foot moving 2BW, light foot, medium foot, and knights moving 3BW, cavalry moving 4BW, and light cavalry moving 5BW. Provided that enough command points are available and that a minimum clearance of 4BW is provided to enemy units, each element / group can move up to three times in a single turn.
Combat is relatively straight forward, with each opposing pair of elements rolling a single die and applying various modifiers for unit type, terrain, and situation. The high-rolling element is deemed to be the victor and the lowest-rolling element is deemed to be the loser. Depending upon the difference between the two dice rolls, the loser will lose 1, 2, or 3 ‘cohesion points' or be killed outright. For sake of comparison, heavy foot units will start with 4 cohesion points, medium foot, knight, and cavalry units will start with 3 cohesion points, and light foot and horse units will start with 2 cohesion points. Combat between heavy foot units tends to grind on for three to five rounds, with light units being dispatched with relative ease. Generals may also attempt to restore lost cohesion points by means of the rally action, although this is by no means guaranteed (especially whilst the unit is still in combat and not in base contact with the general).
Shooting is similar to combat, although the losing element may only lose 1 cohesion point. Shooting range is also limited, with javelins shooting only 1BW, skirmisher with bows shooting only 2BW, and bows / crossbows shooting only 4BW.
Further to the basic mechanics described above, ADG also contains a wide variety of specialist rules covering ambushes, flank marches, armour, troop quality, two-handed weapons, elephants, camels, impetuous troops, allied contingents, etc. Although the rulebook contains 79 pages of rules, most games can be played out using only the quick reference sheet provided.
Victory conditions are straight forward and based entirely on unit losses. An army's ‘demoralisation value' is equal to the number of units in the army, with two demoralisation points being lost for each element destroyed, one demoralisation point lost for each element wounded in combat, and four demoralisation points lost in the event that the army camp is sacked.
Things I really like about this game:
• 15mm games require very little space and can be played on most kitchen tables.
• The rulebook is supplemented by 283 army lists. This means that you will never have to purchase any supplements to play the game.
• Between 20 and 30 elements are required for most 200 point armies. This means that you can probably assemble an army from scratch for less than £50.00 GBP
• Games do not take very long to play and are well-suited for tournament play.
• Once the opposing armies make contact, there will never be enough command points to move reinforcements, envelope a flank, and rally wounded troops. This adds a bit of excitement / desperation to the game which I find to be very enjoyable.
• The terrain generation system is first rate and almost always results in terrain being placed in some inconvenient location. This means that the game is not dominated by heavy foot or cavalry.
• Rules are very fun to play. I have played around 10 games thus far and have always had a good time (even when losing badly).
I struggle to find an element of the rules which I dislike. If I was being picky, I suppose that I could comment on the flimsiness of the rule book. I've been carrying my copy in a knapsack for a couple of days (so as to read on the tube) and the book is already looking a bit shabby.
In summary, I really like this set of rules and would encourage anyone disinterested in FOG or new to the genre to give ADG a go. I have yet to hear of someone trying this game and not liking it.