Nov 8, 2012

Deus Vult, the new medieval ruleset by Fireforge

Never having done a review of a ruleset before I guess there must be a first time for everything...

At Crisis I picked up my long awaited Deus Vult ruleset by Fireforge. I got to chat with Fabio and Alessio about the book and they were thrilled that I brought some of my Fireforge-minis to show them. And I was very glad they liked them. I was very honoured that I got the reply "I know those, they are on your blog!", seems my audience is bigger than I thought. :-)

While chatting with Fabio one of the staff tried to give me a sneak peak of the next army, but I guess I'm a bit to 'green' at blogging and getting a scoop, because he got slapped by Fabio before I could get a decent look at it :-D. All I could make out was some horse-archer in a barren landscape, but that could still mean anything. My personal thought is that they will come out with the Arabs first, because there is an Arab armylist in the rulebook (and they have horse archers!). Note: These turned out to be the new Mongol Line.

So read on for a little impression of Deus Vult!

I've divided the review in a few parts to get a bit of structure:

Well, since a first impression is always important I have to say that the first impression of Deus Vult is a very good one. The book looks the part, hard-back, full colour and with the astounding artwork also found on the boxes and website of Fireforge. It contains the rules, two full armylists (Crusader states and Arabs), some generic units to help build other armies (Teutonics, Western europe, Baltics, etc), background on the 1st and 3rd crusade and templates for all the cards and counters that are needed for the game.

Battle-leaders and divisions
Each division within an army (ranging from one to eight units) is lead by a battle-leader. These battle-leaders can activate the units within his division when he is activated himself. Each leader can only command a certain amount of units based on his skill and each activated unit has an amount of action points to perform actions with. Pretty basic, but it looks like it works quite well.

Leaders have virtues and vices and certain traits to make them unique. This adds a lot of character to your leaders. These virtues are usually subtle and influence your divisions, don't expect big uber-lords with magic weapons (What!? No Spear of Longinus?) hacking their way through droves of enemies here. On the contrary, a leader on his own is quickly (maybe a bit to quickly) overwhelmed when facing anything but another leader on his own (in a Duel!), like he should!

Divisions can be in the vanguard, main force or in the rearguard, making for interesting tactics by being able to put a division in ambush or trying to outflank an opponent with your rearguard etc.

Stats and gameplay
Units have stats, but in contrast to the big statlines of WHFB these are mainly based on courage, discipline, etc. No big charts with Weaponskill vs Weaponskill or Strength vs Toughness etc. This makes the combat system seem pretty basic, but thats not entirely correct. This short statline is compensated with special rules which in my opinion get a little out of hand to compensate for the lack of basic stats. Some units have over 6 special rules to define their modifiers to their rolls and in my opinion some of these special rules should have been made into basic stats. The total list of special rules is only one and a half pages long, but they are distributed lavishly among the units. The good thing is that it makes every unit unique, the less good thing is that you will be looking in the rulebook a lot till you know most of the special rules by heart.

Basing can be done individually (infantry 20x20mm) or per stand, that would be 60x40mm then. For cavalry its 25x50 (single) or 50x50 (stand). But they also included a section for what to do with different sized bases. Although basing can be individually, stands are the entity the rules use.

I personally am not that thrilled about having stands as the reference size in a miniatures game, although I can understand it since most historical miniatures games use stands. If you want to be compatible you will have to use stands for reference, even if you base individually. The main problem I have with stands is that it won't lend itself to siege warfare. Stands wont fit on a wall, but most of the medieval battles fought were siege battles. One of the reasons I think that most historical rulesets (using stands) dont cover siege warfare well.

Game sequence
Most wargames start with deploying two armies on a preset table. Warhammer contains rules to randomly generate scenery on the table but to be honest I have never ever used that feature while I played that game.

Deus Vult takes the bigger picture on this by having a 'pre-game scouting phase'. A standard table (4 by 6 ft) is divided in six zones and each player has a number of scouts to use to get control of these zones. Players can also use those scouts to gain subterfuge cards (instead of scouting) for use during the game, these can really mess with your opponents strategies, even going as far as trying to assassinate your opponents battleleader before the game even started!
Any player controlling a zone can place a piece of scenery there, so a good scouting phase can net you a nice big forest to cover your flank, just like a real commander would scout for a favorable battlefield.

Deployment is semi-blind, you place your battle-leader cards on the table and the player who needs to deploy then replaces the card with the leader and places the units commanded by that leader within range of him. I like this touch since the opponent has to guess beforehand which of your battleleaders comm


Ubique Matt said...

Interesting review. Will probably invest in a set of these rules myself. Perhaps rules for siege warfare may be in a future release.


Dalauppror said...

Thanks for a good rewiev, might have to get me a copy.

Please don´t rebase at first, round bases work fine on movement trays, like my baltic crusaders:)

best regards Michael

Paul of the Man Cave said...

I enjoyed this review, but it seems cut off and incomplete? I am VERY interested in these rules!!!

Ecclesiastes said...

Hello Paul,

That could be because I want to play a few games with the system first before making any further comments on it. So after I finish up some more units (in que together with my FoW and behind Uss Texas) I will be able to play Deus Vult beyond the few test games I've played till now. So in due time there might be a part 2 to this review.

If you check the Fireforge facebook site, they have linked other blogs that did reviews as well, so you might want to check those out too.

Thanks for reading guys!