Three straight weeks of Fantasy! This time, it's big battles using a set of rules I've been wanting to try for awhile: Mayhem! by Brent Spivey. Mr. Spivey gifted me his earlier work Havoc. It was a great read that I found almost Zen-like in it's approach to wargaming. Alas, I never used them in battle, but I was determined to try Mayhem.
My War of the Roses troops which are veterans of 20 years of battle would stand in as fantasy humans, and my small force of Orcs would be the only true fantasy elements. Mayhem works at any scale as each base is a unit. Not a new idea, but one I personally really like. The smaller the scale, the better o make each stand a vignette.
Mayhem uses different die type to represent a stands Movement, Combat Quality, and Ballistic Armor Rating. The lower the better. So a d6 is better than a d10. Sounds opposite of what you normally think, but it works well.
The core of the system is the Versus System. Risk vs Reward. For just about every roll you have the option of taking the default, which half the value of the die (so a d6 would be a "3", a d8 a "4") or try danger and roll the die for whatever comes up.
If your Movement value is d8, for example, you decide, do I use the default and these guys just move 4 inches, or do I risk it and roll hoping to get 5,6,7, or even 8. There's a lovely gambling element to it.
In our game, some heavy cavalry with lances charged some orcs that had just crossed the river. Because of modifiers, the knights were rolling a d4 vs the Orcs d8. The knights decided to take the default of "2" as their roll. In Mayhem, roll have to roll below your opponent in order to do them Harm. A roll of "1' always kills. This first hit, for most troops, Disorders them. A hit on an already disordered unit eliminates them. So our knights had a 25% chance to outright kill the Orcs, or take the default and almost certainly put a hit on them and drive them back into the river.
The Orcs rolled a "1". Oh, the best laid plans, etc.....
The other mechanic of note is Overdrive. Your leaders randomly (or take the default!) generate a pool of Action Points.Most Actions only cost a point. Move a unit, shoot arrows, etc. But, you can choose to make a unit go again, and again, but each subsequent action costs more. A second Action is 2, a third 3. If I move my Orcs 3 times, that's 6 points! This is great if a certain unit has the chance to turn the tide of battle, but it will be to the detriment to the rest of your force. Turns go very quickly.
We played a game with 6 players and 50 stands in about 1 1/2, including the whopping 10 minutes it took to teach the rules.
All in all, highly recommended. Would be great for a convention game or campaign. It does have some similarities to DBA or HotTs, but I found Mayhem had a lot more depth and a fun, gambling element to it.