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"Variations on a Theme"

An Age of Might and Steel Tactics Article by Steve Hazuka


 Some different ways to play your games of Age of Might and Steel (AoMaS) 15mm Fantasy system.


Different Ways to Play in the Age of Might and Steel.

Set piece battles can be quite interesting with the goals laid out and the armies amassed, the two sides squaring off over the field of battle, you know what to expect. What about the unexpected? Some call it the Fog of War others call it the X factor. What could your opponent have hidden up their sleeve that could make you doubt that you faced certain victory? To add some variation to the standard game there are some adjustments that could be made to create a different flavor. These two variations are Card Activation System and Pregame Modifiers.

Card Activation System

When I first start playing historical miniature wargames one of my favorites was a 15mm ACW game called On to Richmond, written by Paul Koch and released in 1983 it used a card activation system to determine what was the next unit to perform it’s actions. Simply you broke your army down into brigade sized units and assigned them either a playing card or wrote a description on a 3X5 index card, shuffled at the beginning off the turn and then flipped one card over revealing that unit to move and fire. After performing its actions you then flipped the next card and likewise continued making your way through until the deck was complete. When all units had performed their actions that ended the turn. Truthfully AoMaS was originally written to be played that way but instead I opted for the traditional “I go, you go” system for play. No real changes have to be made for the Card Activation System to work. Using the basic unit, each is assigned a card and then, just as if you were playing normally, you roll for its activation and then complete its turn. Since there are leaders such as Generals and Heroes that could move separately from others you should assign a card to the General of the Army and then if you create a Heroic Band or summon a Demon or Elemental add a card to the deck. If you combine a unit remove one of the cards from the deck to reflect its new status.

Also if your playing with more than two armies such as an Elven, Dwarven or Undead then it tends to even things up as planning begins to get a little more difficult to make huge combined fronts advancing across a field.

You’ll soon find out the fun of the Card Activation system. I’ve watched players biting their nails in nervous anticipation hoping their card will be next to either exploit a gap or get out of a dismal situation.

Pregame Modifiers

These Pregame Modifiers can make the game a little more challenging when it comes to doing battle. Written either on index cards or a list with matching playing cards you could select one prior to the beginning of the game hiding it until it’s time to surprise your opponent with the event. These won’t drastically throw off the balance of the game just skew it for a turn. Since each player has one it should even out.

Here are some examples of these modifiers:

Your Army is truly blessed. One Wizard in your army has the ability to cast TWO spells in one turn. This could include casting a spell while controlling a Summoned Monster.

A Hero when fighting against another Special Unit or Monster may add a +2 to the die roll as he goes into a bloodlust against his mortal enemy.

Your troops are truly inspired. If a unit fails an activation roll you can ignore it and treat it as if they passed. (Once per game)

Regeneration. One of your slain Magical Creatures returns to life on your next turn. (Once per game)

Your General is considered divine. Even unattached units in the command radius received the attached bonus throughout the game.

A wandering Magic User sees the battle and rallies to your side. (After turn 2)

An animal pack has traveled all night following your summons and joins the battle (after turn 2)

Your archers may elect to remove a Special Unit or Monster stand attached to a unit instead of one of the stands of the unit they are targeting. (Once per game)


Ideas like this may add some diversity to your game giving it an X Factor of the unknown.

There is no reason why both of these couldn’t be added to a game. Both the Card Activation System and the Pregame Modifiers don’t distract from the game or change drastically any of the mechanics of the game.


Webmaster's Notes

This article was originally published on Alternative Armies' content portal Barking Irons Online in 2011 and is reproduced here with permission.

You can buy The Age of Might and Steel rules direct from Alternative Armies on thier web site here.

Barking Irons Online was Alternative Armies' official content portal that I ran for them from 2011 until 2013, You can find (almost) all of the content it hosted on Orcs in the Webbe in the respective categories in the menus or browse through it all by clicking on the  maroon  "Barking Irons" tag below.