Fantasy Rules!


Devin Murphy (
This set of rules is a welcome change from the dubious efforts of the figure-manufacturing companies. The rules are easy to understand, quick to play, and rational. The magic system isn't prone to unbalancing the game, and you don't have to spend half of your army's creation points on heroes in order to win.

I found that by counting each individual 25mm figure as a "unit," instead of a 60mm by 60mm base, you can cut down on the number of figures in your army without sacrificing playability (assuming that frontage is not one of your main concerns.)

In conclusion, I give Fantasy Rules! a thumbs up, considering its low price ($12.95 US), ease-of-use, and lack of glaring logical or tactical errors.

Mike Demana (

After reading Chipco's Fantasy Rules! Second Edition, I was reminded of my feelings upon first playing the original version more than two years ago, at Origins '96. I first remarked how logical, easy-to-learn and quick-moving its core set of movement, melee and magic rules were. Then, more enthusiastically, I said "there is so much cool stuff here!" -- multiple types of wizards, a pantheon of monsters and gods and a comprehensive array of infantry and cavalry types.

Well, folks, FR2! gives me the same (borderline goose bumps) feeling. The dozen or so changes to the core rules had me nodding along, "good idea, good idea." However, it was the scores of new cool stuff that got my blood racing -- planning new armies, dreaming up campaigns or unusual scenarios to construct. For example, how about a battle in the shifting planes of Chaos? Chaos Anomalies gives rules for terrain features that disappear or suddenly sprout beneath your unit's feet.

They also hand you an extensive menu of new units, characters or special abilities. Whether mundane like hand gunners, pavisiers or heavy armor to add to units, or fantastic like illusionists, war clerics or quirky mad scientists, or even unique abilities that round out your unit or army like (a Medusa's) paralyzing gaze, grapple attacks or poison weapons, the ideas in this book get your mind whirring.

The biggest single change is to the magic system. FR2! creates a lower tier of magic -- level one spellcasters. These are less powerful versions of the existing Wizards (Hedge Wizards), Necromancers (Re-Animators) or Clerics (Acolytes). They are perfect for any who prefer a more low fantasy world. FR2! lessens magic's effects by separating the mana pool of the army from that of the spellcasters. As normal, the army's mana pool of 10 is renewed each turn. The spellcasters then roll a d10 for their mana. Level two wizards take the roll, level one receive half, rounded up. At least half of the mana for a spell must come from the caster's personal pool. Thus, with an average roll, a hedge wizard will receive only three mana. He will be able to cast only one Blast, Flight or Mirror Image (4 mana each), and/or a very limited number of Disorient or Apoplexy (2 mana each). This can leaves lots of unused mana for defense -- resisting the opponent's spells. In addition, level one spellcasters are not permitted to use the most powerful, high mana spells. So, if each side uses level one wizards, fewer spells should affect the battle making tactics (not magic) rule.

The newest spellcasters in the rules are illusionists, war clerics and a pair of whimsical ones called Ship's Cooks and Mad Scientists. Illusionists are the most versatile, even allowing players to begin the game with units on the board that are actually illusions. They can also be summoned during the course of the battle, or onto the flanks or rear of an enemy engaged in melee. Illusions dissipate when frontally meleed or when the combat they aided with flank or rear attacks ends (friendly or foe unit destroyed or not followed up). All illusions must be maintained each turn -- one mana per illusion. The cost is doubled if the unit depicted is able to shoot (damage caused by them is real).

War Cleric spells affect combat (rallying friendly units or making them cause fear, demoralizing enemy, or possibly summoning an avatar -- major spirit). The Mad Scientist and his Igor-like Technical Assistant illustrate authors Curtis Wright and Chip Harrison's taste for whimsy. His creations include a Vat that spills forth undead, blobs or monsters, Invisibility Fields, Disintegration Guns and Teleporters. The Ship's Cook is also tongue-in-cheek. His spells are rationalizations of the effects of his cook pot and rum barrel on friend and foe alike (parasitics, invigoration, fearlessness, etc.).

In the "nuts and bolts" section, there are some changes. Mounted may countercharge (get their melee bonus) if contacted from the front, and are also able to dismount as specified unit types. There is now an order of priority for who you turn to face when contacted by enemy on multiple sides. Bows have been renamed Skirmishers, and along with light chariots, can now change facing for free. Spirits (perhaps recognizing their fragility) are compensated with a few new abilities. They may move through friendly or foe units, ignore zones of control, and prevent fliers from breaking off.

Rank and file infantry get a few new benefits, too. Hand weapons and spears can from shieldwall (lowers enemy melee roll). And along with knights, they may count as having Heavy Armor for free. Although slower, they now treat Kill results on the bowfire table as Demoralizations. Missile units themselves may now implant Stakes to disable enemy charges on their front.

Juggernauts now make their appearance in print. Originally designed as a way to represent monsters models and such that would not fit on prescribes bases (40mm X 40mm in 15's, 60mm X 60mm in 25's), they have evolved into a new class, essentially. Virtually any troop type can be juggernauted, making it larger, more powerful but less maneuverable. Bases are simply added to form 1 X 2 juggernauts (one base wide, two deep), 2 X 2, or 2 X 3. Magic and missile fire is at reduced effectiveness versus these huge, momentum-charged units. There are also clever rules for blobs that grow as they defeat (absorb) enemy units.

FR2! also contains a section about juggernauted battle wagons. These can be land, air or sea varieties representing vessels of war -- often crewed with marines or festooned with cannons. As such, there are naval rules for ramming, boarding and close assaults. Similarly, there are rules for Fortifications in the same chapter.

Finally, an optional introductory phase is added to the battle itself. You can use a scouting system to influence which army must deploy first, or which can utilize flank marches. Omens, seers, thieves and baggage trains can affect the course of the battle. Sacred sites can give twists to scenarios or set-piece battles.

So, if you are the type who likes rules that make sense and are simple to play, and if you enjoy being inspired to dream up, paint and field new armies (in other words, you're a miniature gamer with a pulse), FR2! is just the set to get that pulse pounding with excitement.

Go to reviews of the first edition
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Last Updates
4 September 1999redesigned
15 April 1999comments by Devin Murphy
8 September 1997Mike Demana's comments
11 June 1997Kevin Wilson's comments
28 May 1997Ed Allen's comments updated
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