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Subject: Ortus Regni - Medieval Tactics, alternate battle resolution system rss

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Ortus Regni
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We continue to play around with and develop new variant rules that address specific player interests. In this case we want to share a new battle system that allows Earls to attempt to alter their Fate! It also lowers the general danger of battles being total catastrophes for either side, by using 2 Battle Deck draws instead of the normal 1 draw.

We are also very close now to putting all our variant options up, on a nice page of their own, on our website. That will probably go live this week.

Thanks for playing (!)


Ortus Regni - Medieval Tactics
New Battle rules. More control, less fate.

Medieval combat was prone to all manner of disasters and unexpected outcomes. Everything from a muddy field, to a lost courier, to rotten bread for the march, or a prophetic sign in the clouds could ruin an otherwise secure victory. However human heroics cannot be discounted entirely. History is replete with gifted individuals who seemed to possess the ability to challenge fate… with bold acts and brilliant strategy.

New Battle rules

In this variant the defending Earl draws 2 Battle Deck cards, not 1 as in normal Ortus Regni battles.

The first draw is for the entire “day of the battle” itself.

The new second draw determines the fate of all Lords involved in the battle.

Both Earls in the fight can attempt to alter the result of either Battle Result card if it goes against them using Banner cards.

Sequence of battle

Once an attack has been declared and forces have been fielded on both sides:

Draw the main Battle Result card - Battle Draw - this will determine how damage is allocated at the end of the battle.

Draw an extra Battle Result card if Lords are in the battle - Lord Draw - this will determine if Lords on either side are captured and held for ransom.

1) Battle Draw - 1 Battle Result card

This determines the main result of the battle - whether damage is assigned on either side or both sides - like a normal single Ortus Regni Battle Result card draw does. It does not affect whether Lords are captured. 

Thus, the only difference is that the fate of Lords is determined by the second draw.

2) Lord Draw - 1 Battle Result card

This determines the fate of any Lords involved in the battle, whether they are “caught in the scrum” with their lives on the line, or have a satisfying day of heroic skirmishing and combat and return safely to their Fiefs.

If there are no Lords in the battle then no Lord Battle Result card needs to be drawn. For example, if only Face cards from the Hand are fielded into the battle, but no real Lords, then no Lord card needs to be drawn. 

This second draw will only determine if Lords are captured, by one side or the other as a result of the battle.

Comparison to Normal Ortus Regni battles

In normal Ortus Regni the single Battle Result card also determines the fate of Lords, in addition to overall damage assignment, but not in Medieval Tactics.

Note that in Medieval Tactics Lords will still participate in the conflict, even if they are known to be captured, just as they do in a normal Ortus Regni battles. They do not fight alone but bring with them to the battlefield their entourage of retainers, men at arms, and squires.

Captured Lords still send and can receive damage points in the battle resolution phase; whether or not the Lord himself is executed after the day's fighting is done.

Altering your Fate

In each card draw - Battle or Lord - if the Battle Result card goes against an Earl (Attacker Wins or Defender Wins) they have the opportunity to immediately play a Banner card to force the drawing of a replacement Battle Result card. This power can be countered by their opponent, who can play their own Banner card to attempt to foil this act of heroism.

But an Earl cannot change their fate if the adverse result is due to a Church Decides choice. Their fate is up to whomever controls the Church Decides choice, this cannot be altered by heroism, charisma, wisdom, or bravery.

Using Banner cards

If a Battle Result card, other than Church Decides, goes against an Earl they then have the opportunity to immediately play a Banner card from their Hand to redraw another Battle Result card (this can be done multiple times in a battle). 

However, if they do choose to play a Banner card in this way their opponent can then counter that Banner card with one of their own!

When one Banner card counters another this proceeds like a Political Struggle. With the original Earl having the opportunity to play a second Banner card. Which, in turn, could be countered by a second Banner from their opponent. 

Thus you need to have more Banners out than your opponent to win the contest that day, and have a new Battle Result card draw.

All Banners played in this struggle are discarded when it is resolved.

Vikings - The Vikings cannot play Banner cards, of course, and so any Earl who can redraw by playing a Banner card cannot be countered and prevented from doing so. Earls have the advantage of knowing the tactical landscape of their homelands better than the invaders do.

Battle Resolution

This happens exactly as specified in the normal rules of Ortus Regni.

The two separate Battle Result card draws are simply that, two draws instead of the one normal draw. The only difference is that you can now have a situation where the fate of an Earl’s Lords differs from the overall assignment of damage to either side.

The sequence is the same as in normal Ortus Regni. If your Lords are captured in the second draw you must decide their fate - to ransom them or not - before assignment of damage to Properties, Castles, or Palaces. But they still send and can receive damage points in that battle’s resolution.

Again, Damage is still sent by and can be assigned to captured Lords - whether they are ransomed or not - as per the normal rules of Ortus Regni. 

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Ortus Regni
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Gameplay Notes:

Battles are still quick and decisive in this variant, with two fast draws. You might quickly get into the habit of drawing two Battle cards. Even when you don’t really need to. Which is ultimately not a problem if you call out the name of the draw every time - “Battle” or “Lord” - automatically. But if you pull an unnecessary Lord draw accidentally, simply discard it and move on.

Uniquely, in this variant you might actually run out of Battle Deck cards; as you are pulling twice the normal number of cards during the game. When you have drawn the last Battle Deck card simply reshuffle the entire deck and continue.

An Earl using a Lord heavy deck now has a way to avoid the occasional - and often inevitable - catastrophic battle result. Avoiding the terrible fight that would otherwise wreck the fortunes of all your powerful Lords!

This is an important change in the dynamics of Ortus Regni. Lord heavy decks need to be able to pack a number of Banners to pull this off, and also keep those Banners in their Hand.

But other decks, such as Land & Market Town decks, can also benefit from the new ability of Banners to redraw Battle Result cards. Stopping that one major battlefield ambush from slaughtering your Army without your soldiers inflicting their own damage. Equally important is the ability to challenge a Lord deck’s attempt to survive an ugly fight unscathed, with Banners of your own to counter that attempt.

Overall, in Medieval Tactics, it is less likely that a given Earl will have both their Lords captured or killed and have their forces in the field utterly fail to inflict damage. Battles in this variant of Ortus Regni will be more regular and normalized. This added predictability has several knock-on effects, but it does not nullify the wide spectrum of Ortus Regni deck design strategies. In fact, the extra Banners that an Earl might stock up on to heroically control fate on the battle field might weaken their deck’s strength in other ways.

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Remus Rhymus
United States
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I think that this situation absolutely requires
a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part!
I noticed in the variants section of the Ortus Regni website, the idea of drawing 2 battle cards (when lords are involved) has been removed and Medieval Tactics is now all about playing banners to turn Attacker/Defender wins to normal battles.

Just curious if the reason for this is to keep the variant simpler or if through further playtesting it was decided that drawing two battle cards (one for battle, one for lords) didn't work well?

I haven't tried Medieval Tactics yet, but I could see where this could come in handy with players who get frustrated with large swings of luck.

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