21/10/2020 at 19:37 #145786
A few months back Nordic Weasel Games offered a free copy of their new rules “Knyghte, Pyke and Sworde” to folks willing to play a few games and write a review. I accepted and after a few games here is my take on the ruleset:
Knyghte, Pyke and Sworde is aimed at creating small man-to-man medieval skirmishes with about 10-30 figures per player on the table. More detailed information can be found on the author’s blog here:
First off, I am a big fan of Nordic Weasel. After playing a lot of 40k and Warhammer as a kid, I left the hobby for about a decade. When I came back, the GW games had changed A LOT, and I started to look for an alternative. That’s when I found the free rule set F.A.D. – which was the first game from Nordic Weasel and is a decent take at creating a 40k style game. Years later, after playing a lot of F.A.D., I had moved toward games with more realistic tactics, small figure counts and small table sizes. My brother started talking about a rule set called Five Core that a lot of the guys he was stationed with were playing. IMHO – Five Core is genius, with lots of unique design decisions, and is one of my al-time favorite games. Ever since, I’ve followed Nordic Weasel’s games as he has steadily created a large library of games. Each one is different and there are some that really click for me and others that don’t.
Back to Knyghte, Pyke and Sword. Medieval Skirmish gaming is something that I am really interested in, so I was excited to try out this game. But to be honest, it took me a long time to get the game on the table. First, the rulebook, like all of Nordic Weasel’s games, is not professionally laid-out or edited. They are more like really well documented homebrew rulesets. I don’t mind that in some of his rules, but with this one I feel like it made it hard to read. The rules are over 60 pages of just rules – i.e. no stories, fiction, pictures, diagrams etc. And there is a lot jammed into that 60 pages including an entire campaign system that’s integral to the game.
The game starts with a pretty simple rule set, but quickly layers on lots of additional features. It introduces a lot of keywords Bolded in the text and non-standard dice abbreviations (2d6, 1d6+1d6, 1d6/1d6 etc.). For example, I randomly picked a page (p28.) and there were 42 bolded terms on that single page alone!! To me, that is more of a distraction than a useful way to draw attention to important information.
I would say this is a moderately complex game, with 60 pages of rules, 16 different troop types, each with 8 potential upgrades for over a 100 different possible units on the table. There are also a lot of modifiers, small resolution tables and charts. The information needed to start a game and play a game is scattered about. I found that as a new player it required a lot of page turning to get started. If you have played some of Nordic Weasel’s games in the past, you may be used to this format, but it was definitely one of the more confusing rule sets I have seen from him. To be honest I was put off, and probably wouldn’t have ever played the game if I hadn’t agreed to in exchange for the rule set.
But I having told Ivan from Nordic Weasel I would review it after playing, I finally got a few games in. I’m glad I did, it was a lot of fun after getting over the intentional hurdle. It plays quick, and has some great tactical depth. The structure of the game is similar to traditional war games, but like Five Core, the rules make a point of generating combat outcomes beyond removing a figure that loses in a round of combat. Fatigue, position, minor wounds, morale are all incorporated in a manner that is pretty clever and works well. This is a huge plus in my opinion, and really breathes life into the game. The characters and troop types have specific roles and fill them well. The outcomes seem realistic, and produce a very fun game.
In addition to combat resolution, I also really liked the use of Exhaustion as a mechanic. Units can perform certain special actions (like sprinting in armor) and become briefly out of breath if they do so. If you ever want to see how you feel after running in armor, try recreating the Hoplitodromos at your next party!
Troops move in small groups, with a few characters that move individually. The game is pitched as being fun with as few as 4 models on a side, but we found that you really want 13 or so models per side on the small end for it to be interesting. On the large side I’d say maybe 50 models per side before it would start to get unwieldy. After getting the hang of it, we played a few games with 15-20 figures each in about an hour.
To be honest the more I played it, the more it reminded me of another game I really like – Sharp Practice. It really has the feel of a game of Sharp Practice with smaller footprint and more detailed hand-to-hand combat. Like Sharp Practice, it has the tools to create a narrative like you would find in a historical fiction novel set in the period, it has heroic Big Men that really lend personality to your force, it has lots of simple rules that cover almost any circumstance you can think of.
The other game that I thought of is Mordhiem. The rich campaign system would rival Mordhiems, but the game play and mechanisms are so different that is a very different game. But I suspect that groups interested in a Mordhiem style game might be interested in this an alternative. It offers the same sort of character development over time, but in a more realistic fashion.
I would recommend Knyghte, Pyke and Sworde if you:
o Do not mind spending time reading rules and learning new mechanics.
o Have a dedicated opponent or group that would be interested in playing a series of games.
o Want a moderately complex medieval skirmish game that creates a realistic narrative.
o Like the rule set Sharp Practice, and want a game that is similar in a medieval setting.
o Have played Mordhiem and want something more complex, elegant, and based in history.
o Prefer traditionally structured war games and command of your units (alternating turns and no activation rolls).
I would not recommend Knyghte, Pyke and Sworde if you:
o Want a low complexity miniature game.
o Plan to play occasional one-off games.
o Want a game for fewer than a dozen miniatures per side.
o Want a game that you that can just pull out and play.
o Want a game you can play with an opponent who does not want to invest in learning mechanics (e.g. my wife).
o Prefer things like push-your-luck command and control mechanics and in-complete command of your units (Lions Rampant, Song of Blades and Heroes)
o Prefer more abstract wargames (e.g SAGA)21/10/2020 at 20:02 #145787
I appreciate the review!
Im glad you had a great time but ill definitely see about reorganizing things a bit, as well as add more examples and some flavor text 🙂
I wanted to try and keep the page count down but i think it probably got a bit carried away!21/10/2020 at 21:20 #145792Deleted UserMember
Tahnks fort eh review. I’ve had the rules for a while but haven’t got the guts to use it. Like you said it’s 60 pages of rules with lots of modifiers. Despite that I really like a lot of the ideas, especially how different unit types are differentiated.22/10/2020 at 15:10 #145814
Well I’d give it a try, it really creates some great situations. But keep it simple and ignore most of the stuff to start with. Here’s how we tackled it – We ran a series of Robin Hood games with it, using Splintered Light 15mm. We made the Outlaws either plain light or missile troops, and the Sheriff’s Men either plain Shield or Missile troops. Each of the personalities we assigned one of the character categories (Leaders: Robin, Sheriff, the Bishop etc. Fighters: Guy, Little John, Tuck. Scouts: Marian, Alan). We totally ignored the point system and let each side pick 12 infantry and two characters for each battle. The last two games we made a little table and randomly determined the make-up of each side.
This made for a really fun series of encounters, including one where the Sheriff’s men were trying to Scatter/Rout the Outlaws in the rain. There was a severe penalty to missile fire, and we thought it would be a lopsided game in favor of my Sheriff. But the Outlaws led my armored men on a merry chase before turning on them when they were exhausted. It turned out to be a pretty epic struggle between the light armed Outlaws and the armored footman who had been slogging through the mud chasing after them.
There is an ebb and flow to melee that I don’t think I’ve experienced before in other games. I think the two forces we used would be less the $50 including shipping in the US.22/10/2020 at 16:55 #145818
Two people bought copies yesterday, possibly off reading this review 🙂
I should add I am doing a few tweaks to the layout and look, which hopefully will make it a bit more accessible.30/10/2020 at 20:23 #146170
You kids should go download your game file again and let me know what you think 🙂
A major update just went up.30/10/2020 at 22:44 #146172Deleted UserMember
Thanks, downloaded.01/11/2020 at 06:24 #146228
I had a chance to give the new version a quick read, it’s definitely a big improvement in layout and the ease of reading. I like what you’ve done with introductory scenario, the side boxes, examples, and the sections. Thanks for the update!
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