Groups of Warriors are the building blocks for each Retinue, they can be large or small, inexperienced recruits or veterans of the battlefield. The choice really is yours.
In The Barons’ War game we have only two restrictions when making groups. Firstly, a minimum group size. A group must contain at least three members, unless it is a mounted group which must contain at least two members. Secondly each member of your group should be armed and equipped in the same way.
This second restriction is something that, during playtesting, we found was much needed to improve the flow of the action and keep the game fast and action packed. This being said, however, if you and your opponent agree you are more than welcome to play the game with warriors equipped individually. As it says at the very beginning of the rulebook ‘Play the games you want to play!’.
Now onto the meat of the matter, how to build a group.
In the rulebook there are lots of warriors to choose from but for this example let’s take a look at Sergeants. Versatile and a good back bone to any Retinue. Whatever the size of the group I am building I always start by creating a single warrior, this way all I have to do to calculate the points of the group is multiply the value of the single warrior, plus I can always save their profile for later if I like how they perform on the field and adjust the group size to my needs.
The initial thing I need to decide is the experience of the group I want to build. As I like to include several groups of sergeants in my Retinues, I will go with Regular. This gives me a nice balance between cost and effectiveness on the field. At 18 points a man I can’t go far wrong.
Sergeants come equipped with a falchion (excellent for cutting down the unarmoured masses) and leather or padded armour as standard. Today, I need a group that can hold its own against Knights on Warhorses as my regular opponent fields many of them and they are a constant thorn in the side of my infantry heavy Retinues. Fortunately for me, sergeants can be armed with bills. A weapon not only great at putting an end to a budding knight with the potential to kill a model that requires two casualties to take down but also gives me ‘Reach’, so if i am lucky enough to get a charge on the knights they most probably won’t be able to hit back. In the ‘Options’ table for sergeants I can see that a bill does not cost me any extra points so at the moment I am still looking at 18 points a man.
As you may have noticed flicking through the rule book some of the equipment entries have differing point values depending on which warrior type they are for. The reason for this is the upgrade cost for the new equipment relative to the chosen warriors starting equipment. In this example a Falchion costs 2 points and a bill costs 2 points so there is no additional cost when swapping them over. When choosing an alternative option from the available selection, the new choice will replace the standard equipment. There are few exceptions to this, for example a lance can be taken alongside a sword or other hand weapon and this is reflected in the point cost. If a warrior has weapon choice you may take an additional ranged weapon, again this is reflected in the points cost in the warrior entry.
As I want this group to be able to stand up to Knights on warhorses which can pack a serious punch it would be a good idea to upgrade my armour to mail. This will reduce the score needed when making a defence roll by one at the cost of reducing movement as they have to carry the extra weight around. This is a sacrifice I am willing to make to give my lads a chance against those lances. This upgrade does come at a cost of 1 point per model which bumps my total up to 19 points per man.
The final thing I want to add to improve my groups chances of survival in the battlefield role I have in mind for them is a shield. To keep the cost down I am going to go for a medium shield. It will offer some protection but still means I can afford a decent sized group in my Retinue. Shields are effective but come at a cost. In this case 3 points, bringing the total for my sergeant up to 22 points.
Now all I need to do is decide how many sergeants I want in the group, I think six will give a decent punch and still be large enough to soak up a few casualties before I need to worry about morale checks. As the cost of a single Warrior is 22, I multiply this by six giving a grand total of 132 points for this group.
Command Groups are groups of regular Warriors in your Retinue that have a model with the ‘Commander’ Rule attached to them. These differ from regular groups in a couple of ways. The commander may be armed differently from the rest of the group, they are after all rather special and do tend to be pretty unique in most cases. Additionally the group now assumes the commanders ‘Actions’ statistic. If we continue the example above, were my six sergeants to be joined by a Baron to form a command group the whole group would now use the Baron’s Actions Statistic of three.
Let’s look into this further and upgrade our group of sergeants to a command group. As I don’t want them to be my Retinue Commander but instead want them to be relatively disposable (they are going to be hunting mounted knights after all) I think I will go with a Lord to join them. Not quite as high ranking as a Baron but still carrying a weighty title, a Lord will bring a nice bit of extra punch! The process of choosing the Lord’s equipment and experience is the same as detailed above but I quite like his standard sword and mail so we will go with that and I think regular experience will suit our needs. I will, however, give him a medium shield as well as we don’t want him feeling left out. This will add 3 points to his regular cost making a total points cost of 37.
One way in which choosing a commander differs is they have the option to upgrade members of their Command Group. These options include some form of Standard Bearer, usually a banner or pennant, a Priest or a Musician. You may choose any combination of these upgrades, you can choose to take none of them. For this group I think having a pennant will be a nice boost and allow this Commander to inspire more groups around him on the front line. This upgrade carries a cost of 7 points, bringing the Lord’s total up to 44.
It is worth noting at this point that command group upgrades do not add further models to your group but convert an existing model to a Bannerman, Priest, Musician or other type of warrior. Their statline stays the same and it does not affect how they fight in battle. You will need to make sure you clearly represent which model has been upgraded as if they are slain in the fray the Command Group will lose the bonus given by the upgraded warrior.
So, now we have our Commander’s points cost (44) all we need to do is attach him to the group of sergeants on our roster sheet. The sergeants cost us 132 points so the command group as a whole costs 176 points.
When building a Retinue you can spend up to 50% of your points allowance on Command Groups. This is the cost of the whole command group, not just the Commander.
I hope this helps in the creation of your Retinues and I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Some of us also name our groups and give them a few lines of story to add to the narrative on the battlefield. For example my personal Retinue contains a group of crossbowmen known as ‘The Poachers’ these are a collection of local hunters that have been caught hunting in their Lord’s wood. Due to their exceptional skill in their craft they have been drafted into his close followers rather than punished as they serve him better setting ambushes and traps than rotting in a cell under the keep.
Pop along to the forum and share your groups and their stories. We love hearing about what you have created.