Interestingly, the guy who wrote the Dux Bellorum also wrote these rules. It will be interesting to see if there are some parts that carried over, or that this designer tends to like. This one starts with the Designer Notes and the intent of the rules. They are also scattered through out the rules in clearly designated side bars. These rules are intended to be skirmish rules between retinues. The author cleanly points out that most decisive battles in the Middle Ages were sieges, but raiding and small scale warfare was a way of life. These rules are intended to capture that feel, be rules lite, and capture the Hollywood fun of the period. Indeed, the author mentions several movie stars as reference points in the text.
What I Liked
This game uses an interesting turn sequence. Each player goes until they fail an activation test for a unit. That means turns are variable length and you have to prioritize what absolutely needs to happen, and do that first! This reminds me of Blood Bowl turn mechanics, which are fluid and tense. However, this is a mechanic that not everyone is a fan of, as your little models soldiers may not follow orders all the time, and carefully laid plans can come unraveled quickly.
I also like the simple, flavorful, and distinctive retinue building mechanisms. You can have a wide variety of forces and historical flavors from a few pages of text. Plus, you can knock together a retinue in no time.
The mechanic for removing casualties and armor is very fluid and integrated. Each unit has an armor score. That is the number of hits that need to be inflicted to remove a single model. Pretty easy and straightforward way to model heavily armored troops vs. less well-armored troops.
Finally, I like the Boasts and Glory mechanics. Boasts let you choose some of your victory conditions for the scenario. The harder the Boast the more Glory you earn. You also win Glory for completing scenario objectives. This allows you to string together a basic campaign trying to earn Glory to find the winner in a campaign. I like campaign games.
What I Do Not Like
Well, I am not a fan of the fact that your retinue models are always 6 to 12 units strong. It seems a bit... arbitrary. I see why they did it to make sure balance existed in such a short and simple retinue creation process. However, it just doesn't feel right in some cases.
Each unit also has a control radius of 3 inches in which units can not move through. This is way bigger than a lot of other games I have played and seems like it will reduce the maneuver and tactical deployment of your models.
Meh and Other Curiosities
Two things this game carried over from Dux Bellorum are “Wild Charges” and Activation rules. Wild Charges are used by particularly impetuous troops, which in this case are your hardest models. Dux Bellorum uses similar rules. Again, if you aren't a fan of your troops disobeying orders you could find this mechanic troublesome. I have previously talked about the Activation rules.
Unlike Dux Bellorum, this game doesn't have any diagrams. It does have some photos with examples of play. However, it doesn't real need them as the rules are pretty clear cut.
Overall, this game has a lot of fun elements and are pretty easy and streamlined. It comes with a wide variety of scenarios, which add to the re-playability of these rules. It even has some basic rules for things like weather and your leader getting killed.
The emphasis is on getting models on the table and having a fun game. I can see why these rules are popular.