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,
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
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.