I guess CoE needs someone to speak for it
First off I have played two games of HC and none of W&C. In fact I have never seen a W&C in So.Calif but heard of W&C games so it must be out there.
Really, we need a veteran gamer who has played several games and has rules knowledge for each to answer this question. Most players will only have played one or the other
not both. This naturally will lead to "preferred" statements for one or the other.
So with that stated my thoughts on WAB and CoE since I cannot give thought on W&C.
CoE vs. WAB2.0
CoE is WAB in a different wrapper. Being a veteran WAB and CoE player now there are differences which I can note
but the games feel the same in the "core sense". Players of one should have no problem picking up the game, especially with a veteran CoE player showing the detail differences in a friendly game.
Key point #1 Basing: It is the same or you can use the same basing for each game. No changes required. The same can be said for HC in most cases. I cannot give an option on W&C as noted above.
Key point #2 Measuring: CoE uses CM's in general. Players can convert but the rules are CM's. This is great for the 95% of the world
.but players on Imperial scale may have a dislike. I found I like the change since the imperial measure I could guess distance within 1/4" with no problem. With CM's the task is a bit harder
which makes for better game I view.
Key point #3 Marching the miniatures: Here CoE has WAB beat. Under WAB and most other games the "fine art" of wheeling to close
micro measuring etc has in the past lead to "discussion points". Doing 1" wheel movements slowly takes time and we all know it is impossible to reset the stage (original positions) once the miniature unit moved. CoE has a very simple system. No movement deduction if the charging unit goes straight in with no wheeling and has maximum contact positioning (in charge corridor). If in charge corridor but some wheeling required, deduct 2cm from charge distance. If starting outside of charge corridor but within arc of charging, deduct 5cm. All measuring is simple from the charging unit's frontal centerpoint to the nearest enemy miniature. Using the above deduction
if you reach then charge successful and the units are positioned for maximum contact, if not
charge failed. There is NONE of the wheeling to close measuring crap. Cut and dry so to speak. It can be noted that very large and wide units suffer some penalty with this system
but that is real life for have such a "wide" unit front.
Key point #4 Formations changes: Both have a set down rules group on how unit change formations and how may you can perform in a turn before checking ability. CoE has a cleaner system and differs from WAB in using a discipline rating approach separate from a unit's morale grade rating. CoE is clean, easy to understand once you review the table and if you perform something other than a straight ahead movement
check the table.
Key point #5 Characters: Simple
CoE limits them to basic abilities. WAB gives them powers. I have seen many a WAB character blast apart melees with their abilities. Low level gaming
Skirmish level I would agree
the one man is all. But massive formations ancient combat..nope. One of a thousand has no such power in the general melee result. CoE just gives one attack (sub commander) or +1 to the combat result (Army commander). None of the "I will have these three miniature attack your commander model while these fight"
if two or more miniatures lost, roll a 6D. a 6 and he is dead. Missile firepower needs 12 on 2x6D. Take one roll and move on to next fight.
Key point #6 Army lists: CoE is simple and constrains unit minimum and maximum sizes. CoE also has a stated miniature unit point when the unit is weakened (minimum size) and suffers a -1 adjustment in combat. Players are "forced" to take the good with the bad in some armies. Skirmisher are limited depending on your "Core" army choices. Specialist and elite units are rare since they generally are NOT core choices. CoE tends to avoid the "super" unit army look of WAB. WAB has % system and maybe a unit limit factor for rostering the army. Players generally can create some "funny" situations with WAB lists. I remember the classic " One unit of Spartans" army. Both WAB and CoE have/use points. In the past WAB points generally don't transfer from book/supplement to another due to point scaling differences. With the "stillborn" release of AoA2 that issue should have been cleared up but now with WHH disappearance
who knows. CoE is designed for all lists and their points to be equal
so the Sumerian feels at home with the Viking. CoE has a large inventory of free .pdf lists and their supplements have list after list. One big note is CoE game designers and their list designer will take list "comments" to heart and make changes. There are no "sacred lists" in CoE. Updating and changes have been made to published material.
Key Point #7 Company level Support (Game designer etc): No comparsion here between WAB and CoE. CoE is alive. WAB is dead. Case closed. Check out the CoE (Great Escape Games) site. CoE's game designer directly answers questions on line. Rule and list errata is given and posted on a regular basis.
Key point #8 Unit Character stats/values: I rate both WAB and CoE the same. They present both in their own way with their differences. Simple to understand.
Key point #9 Game table set up: Limited exposure with WAB's system. Some with CoE. Both have their systems. I would rate the same for missions and scenarios.
Key point #10 Large games: Some people have mentioned that large battles, use HC or W&C. I personally have no problems playing large 5-7k per side CoE or WAB battles. Examples can be found on the Wargamerabbit blog site.
Link: link for example. There are several others posted for Greeks, Persians and soon Ancient Indian.
Key point #11 Game control system: IGO YGO vis and modified system or an interlaced system. You cannot compare difference system games in my mind. WAB and CoE use the IGO/YGO method by in large. W&C has a modified method of "Strategic" interruption in my understanding. This gives a different gaming experience (pro and con). HC is also a modified method. W&C and HC have the need to "manage" the battlefield to insure your units are moving forward unlike WAB and CoE which have no unit movement restriction. Players are free to move or not. I think all have the "uncontrolled barbarians" charging forward aspect.
Key point #12 Miniature size commonly used: WAB and CoE are designed for 25/28mm. W&C I think is 28mm. HC is 28mm but I see more 15mm gaming (and AAR's) for those rules. Maybe a regional thing. I guess gamers think large battles with HC so tend to drift towards 15mm for ease of painting the armies. Players with well established 25/28mm collections don't have that issue.
Key point #13 Rule indexing: CoE has a complete rule indexing in back and generally I have found limited issues looking up the "off beat" rules. WAB2.0 has an "improved" indexing but I have found issues on occasion. WAB 1.0 or WAB1.5 forget it.
Key pont #14 Special rules: CoE labels each and are found generally in two sections of the book (Weapons) or their own coverage (Elephant/chariots for example). WAB generally is the same. Should note the major difference how roman pilum effect is done. WAB gives 2 ranks. CoE has a miniature loss and possible disruption effect before the actual melee combat result.
Key point #15: Combat outcomes: WAB is cut and dry. Pass the test, nothing happens, fail and you are becoming possible toast or running. CoE uses a "layered approach". Missing that roll by 1 lead to only a forced retirement but still fighting. The other end of the situation is toast. There are effects for Warbands, steady etc which easy shift the results up or down on the layered effects. Pursuits in CoE use base movement MR plus 2x6D. WAB uses 2 or 3x6D only for distance leading to situations of very short or very long pursuit distances.
Key point #16 Fire. Evade or Flee: WAB and CoE basically are the same. Skirmishers in CoE tend to be weaker and cannot stand to to any formed units unless they 2:1.
Key point #17 No turning back: CoE has a basic rule that once you declare you action or moved your miniatures, there are no take backs. Also no pre-measuring. WAB I think the same. Been a while.
Key point #18 Narrow frontal formation attacks: CoE requires 5 miniatures in front rank (non chariot or elephant). WAB I remember is 4 miniatures.
Key point #19 Formations: Both WAB and CoE basically use the same formations. Both tend to have 3 rank miniature formation with the 2 ranks, +1 for closed order rules. Massed cavalry the same. Countercharging units the same.
Key point #20 Terrain: Both rules handle terrain effectively. Limited , if minor differences.
Key point #21 Casualty removal: Both WAB and CoE remove actual miniatures for losses. Players see the unit reduced in size. HC has markers. W&C ? I prefer a "limited" marker tabletop as my preference. If a unit has taken 25% loss, I prefer to see the reduced unit
not a marker.
Key point #22 Double ones Morale check: CoE you pass with a retreat and disrupted result
but at still there
no matter what is happening. WAB you can still be toast.
I can go on
but I felt I needed to toss in a ball to this playing court. Sure I missed some major and minor points. But if a player has never seen CoE I hope to give some insight between WAB and CoE. As for HC (good game but different) and W&C (total unknown to this rabbit) I wish the best. All these fine games are worthy of the gaming community support. I even hope to play a W&C game some day. May be a great sliced bread moment for me and my 40 years of gaming (Yes I played WRG3.0 in my youth).