When creating the Retinue List for The Baron’s War the key concept was choice. We wanted to offer you, the player, the ability to create really unique and special groups that would drive the narrative of any given game, or even from game to game. As a collective, us gamers put an awful lot of time into the miniatures that we place on the table and we wanted the way Retinue creation is handled to honour that time and combine the experiences of hobby time and game time.
Now, I appreciate that not everyone wants this level of customisation and is quite happy to pick up the book and get the game underway. Never fear! Each entry in the Retinue List comes as standard with enough gear for them to fulfil their role in battle and put a few holes in the enemy. However, for those of you who like to tinker, theory craft or make the perfect themed Retinue for your favoured character, custom Baron or local hero (my personal Retinue is built around William De Warenne) each entry comes with a list of optional equipment suited to their station and battlefield role.
Without further ado let’s look at creating a Retinue…
I always find the best place to start is with your Command Groups. They are the heart of your Retinue, depending on your play style you will want to defend your tactical command or charge your bloodthirsty Baron into the heart of the fray.
We have a large number of pre-made, named characters that featured in The Baron’s War conflict (and some that didn’t) that appeal to a wide range of playstyles. From The Marshal who is an excellent and respected commander who can turn the tide of the battle with his tactical expertise to Falkes de Breute who likes nothing better than charging into the horde and cutting as many peasants down as he can.
Once a suitable Commander has been selected (if there isn’t one to your taste you can always use The Knight Commander Generator) it’s time to surround them with their most trusted warriors or supporters. This group can be made from any of the soldier entries available and in any number you desire as long as you have the minimum requirement. They can be equipped however you wish, there is no need for the warriors of the group to share the same equipment as the Commander as you can always use different coloured dice for the differing roll’s.
The final thing to do when creating your command group is to add in any desired upgrades. Banner’s, in my opinion, are a no brainer as they increase both your order and inspire range. Useful whether you want to command from the rear or be on the front lines swinging swords (or axes if you are that way inclined). Priests are a great way to boost morale throughout your forces especially in Retinues that have a lot of green or irregular soldiers. Finally, the musician is an excellent addition if you are planning on issuing a lot of orders especially useful for Retinues led by King John.
You can take as many command groups as you wish as long as you keep within the Retinue building rules. So repeat the above process for each command group, but remember only one commander can be the leader of your force and issue orders.
Your command structure is in place, but they need some men to command. This is where you can really personalise your Retinue and add real flavour (or not if you don’t want to). Some of us went as far as naming their groups and having little backstories for each body of men that made up the narrative for the whole force (I’ll go into the details of The Cyningesburh Garrison in a later blog).
Really, there is not much I can say on this part, it really is down to the individual and how they want to play the game. All groups have their strengths and weaknesses. Spearmen, for example, are excellent at stopping a cavalry charge in its tracks with the ‘Brace’ ability but their humble armour means they will fall fast to a hail of arrows. Knights on the other hand are the medieval equivalent of a modern tank. A group of Knights decked out on warhorses and lances will deliver a crucial, devastating strike but their over charge rule can make them unwieldy and prone to being unpredictable if not kept in check. Timing is everything in unleashing them at the right time into the right enemy to turn the tide of battle.
One thing to bear in mind is, don’t get carried away with all the Knights as you have to take a minimum quantity of green soldiers. This is 10% of your allotted points allowance, this is not a punishment however, green troops are still capable of heroic deeds and have tipped the balance of many battles during playtesting. Most of the soldiers available have options for the fresher recruits, my personal favourite being Militant Monks for their ‘God protects’ Ability or Levy armed with improvised two-handed weapons to rush the enemies ranged troops and soak up a bit of fire.
The rule book features an extensive list of abilities that can be given to your groups to make them really unique and hopefully fit with your narrative. They are by no means compulsory, but there is no finer moment than your opponent realising that those Knights that have just smashed into his or her flank are actually armed with the finest Damascus steel blades, or shrugging off a would-be deadly attack with some ice-hardened mail.
I hope this has helped somewhat when it comes to building your Retinue and we look forward to seeing them and what yarns are woven through the groups included and their exploits on the table. Next time I will talk more about my themed force featuring William De Warenne at its core.