Fast-playing rules - designed to play within one and a half hours - with an emphasis on fun and the flavor of the period. Players spend ecus (money points) to build armies from one of eleven army lists (France, Italy, Eastern/Lithuanian, Low Countries/Swiss, Scots/Irish, Teutonic/Polish, Burgundy, Spain, and three types of English). Stands/units form groups, which in turn form Battles, of which armies consist. In addition, each side receives a ration of Characters (kings, marshals, allied lords, imposters, captains, bowmasters, and religious personalities), each of which have special powers or can carry unique items (such as holy relics or standards). The rules describe four conditions which cause the battle to end, at which time victory points are scored for possessing the terrain objective, losing troops, and taking prisoners. Optional rules cover omens and portents, randomized ransom points, unreliable characters, and independent commands. Ruleset includes a brief guide to medieval miniatures and heraldry.
|Period||1250 A.D. to 1500 A.D.|
|Scale||Scale is unstated. Designed for use with 15mm figures (for use with 25mm, double all measurements).|
|Contents||Resealable plastic envelope contains 9 full-size cardstock sheets (4 rule cards, 2 pages background, 1 reference card, 1 diagram card, 1 blank army sheet)|
|Designers|| Chip Harrison (firstname.lastname@example.org)|
Curtis Wright (email@example.com)
|Publisher||First edition published 1997 by Chipco|
|Mike Demana (firstname.lastname@example.org)|
Days of Knights is a fast-play set of miniature rules for the "high medieval" era (1250 - 1500 A.D.). Army lists are included for 100 Years War, War of the Roses, Italian Wars, Swiss, Teutonics -- all the major European participants and conflicts. Unfortunately, the lists do not venture east into the Arab countries or Central Asia, but these would be easy to represent with the troop types available.
As is standard for Chipco rules sets, troop types are kept to a minimum and are generic. An English knight is the same as a French or Teutonic one. There are eight foot types (pikes, dismounted knights, levies, crossbows, longbows, "ordinary" bows and two types of men-at-arms). There are three mounted (knights, heavy and light cavalry). Chipco rules sets are a "chip off the block" of Wargames Research Group's "De Bellis Antiquitatis" (DBA) and "De Bellis Multitudinis" (DBM) ancient and medieval rules. Both companies' hallmark is single stand "units" and movement rules that encourage grouping these stands into battlelines. So, games tend to have a historic look to them, as with DBA/DBM.
Days of Knights also continues the simple mechanism of each unit having a combat factor that is added to the roll of a dice to resolve melee. Factors range from 1 for levies to 5 for knights. There are a limited number of tactical factors, too, such as pike's +2 vs mounted, knight's + 2 when charging, and longbow's + 1 when charged. Units whose scores are doubled are destroyed, those who lose by less receive a demoralization marker. A second marker causes recoil, a third destruction. However, all units have a "Rally" number, with a chance to rally off these markers at the start of their turn. It plays very similar to their popular Fantasy Rules! set. If you've played those rules, you will pick D.O.K. up quickly.
Perhaps the biggest change from previous Chipco sets is with the movement. All units may move forward or obliquely (up to 45 degrees) with no command and control problems. However, for a unit or group to turn, wheel or change formation a leader must be present. There are three levels of leaders: King, Marshal and Captain. The first two allow any group they are part of to perform such a manuever. Captains allow only an individual unit to do so. Light cavalry is an exception to the above restrictions and may manuever freely.
The rules suggest organizing an army into three commands or "battles." A marshal leads each battle, while the king is left separate and may go where the player wishes to help command and control. Additionally, each army is given two captains to place with whichever unit they desire. So, leaders in D.O.K. are not simply cheerleaders. They are an important part of the battle plan and execution. In our playtest, we found that units can easily be left stranded, facing the wrong direction with no leader around.
Leaders are also at risk. If a destroyed unit contained a leader, a die roll is made with possibilities being escape, capture or death. Loss of a command's marshal at the wrong time can seriously restrict the troop's ability to react to enemy attacks. This is probably historical, but is a bit unsettling when you have the troops, but no way to get them where they are needed!
Missile fire is effective but not overpowering. Up to four units may combine fire for a roll against the same enemy. A ten sided die is used, and in the above case, results would be:
1 - 2 miss 3 - 7 demoralization marker 8 -10 destroyed
Fewer units firing have a lesser chance of damage. Crossbows and ordinary "bows" fire 5 inches in 15mm scale, longbows 10". At ranges under 5", both crossbows and longbows count as two units firing, making them much more lethal. Longbows can be even more effective with the use of stakes, and crossbows with pavisiers. Ordinary bows may "attach" to a unit, being considered mixed in with them and able to shoot or support in combat vs. a charge. Light cavalry is also able to shoot, which makes playing Arab or steppe armies an intriguing proposition. The reckless impetuousity of horsemen is simulated by an automatic follow-up of opponent's recoil and a possible pursuit when an enemy is destroyed. Units test vs. their rally roll. If they fail, they make a full move forward (hacking down the survivors) and receive a demoralization marker (to simulate their disorder). Interestingly, this makes light cavalry with their worse rally number more likely to pursue than knights.
The fear-inspiring charge of armored knights is simulated with panic checks for lighter-armed types. Levies, bows, longbows and light cavalry must roll 1d10 when charged by knights. Results can include stand fast, suffer one demoralization marker, two markers or destruction (fleeing the field). More "solid" foot types like pikes and men-at-arms do not have to take this test.
Chipco also includes various optional rules, such as omens, reliability of commands ("My kingdom for a horse!"), allied lords, free companies and minor characters like bowmasters and religious leaders. Variable victory points can be assigned for capturing particular enemy leaders, too. A four-page beginner's guide to heraldry is also included to assist players in painting their armies.
The rules state an average, 750 points per side battle will take one to two hours. However, in our 860 point refight of Falkirk, we found it took slightly longer, closer to three hours. Either way, Days of Knights seems to have the troop relationships down well and provides a simple, fast-moving game. So, if you are tired of laborious rules sets, and want a quick and easy way to game the high middle ages, then D.O.K. might make your day (or knight).
|John Hills (J.R.Hills@canterbury.ac.uk)|
| What follows are my semi-unbiased first impressions of Chipco's latest release
- Days of Knights. I say "semi-unbiased" because
I am an avid fan of their other rules - Fantasy Rules!,
Age of Gunpowder, and Le Petit Emperor (which I have modified for
The cover has on it that wonderful picture by Duerer of a Gothic knight on his horse with various demons in the background.
The rules follow FR! to a fair extent, but have some great tweeks to bring out the full flavour of medieval battle. Armies must be deployed into Battles - i.e., blocks of troops, each led by a marshall. Other characters also appear - Kings, Allied Lords, Imposters (loyal followers who pretend to be the king), captains (often commanding companies of mercenaries), bow masters and religious personalities. The potential unreliability of these characters is also covered.
The Morale Clock, one of my favourite inovations of previous Chipco rules, has been dispensed with. Army mobility is now determined directly by the presence, or otherwise, of the characters mentioned above, and the game ends when a certain level of losses has been suffered by one side, or enough characters have been killed or captured to cause the army to collapse.
Have they achieved a good balance between the different troop types? Well, having been bored stiff by the recent talk about DBM's inability to recreate Agincourt (on the DBM list), I thought I would put DOK to the test. I lined up some dismounted French knights/men at arms against a line of English bows (with stakes) and dismounted knights/men at arms. The French plodded forward into a storm of arrows, which caused some demoralisation, and killed one or two units. The French facing the English heavies made it into contact and gave a good account of themselves, but as their flank support had been shot by the Longbows they were at a disadvantage and eventually lost. One unit of French did reach some Longbows, but the fight was slightly in favour of the French, not the complete carnage that DBM seems to give.
Finally, there are 2 great little sections in the rules which are ideal for people like me - an "idiots guide" to medieval fashion, to help me make sure the figures I use for Wars of the Roses aren't really out of place; and a section on the rules of Heraldry. The guide to painting is effective, whether it is real or made up patterns you use.
My verdict? These rules are great, just like the others. If you have a DBM medieval army, you can use it with these rules without rebasing, too, so you get the best of both worlds.
Now the big question - These rules cover the period 1250 - 1500. Can I stretch them just a little to cover Flodden, which was, in my humble opinion, the last truely medieval battle between the English and the Scots? I think they will do just great. Now if only James can persuade all of his troops to join in the battle...
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|16 February 1999||added Chipco mailing list info|
|18 May 1998||Mike Demana review added|
|27 October 1997||illustration added|
|16 June 1997||page first published|
|Comments or corrections?|