God of Battles Designer’s Notes: Formed and Loose

GoB_LOGO on white webOne of the core concepts for God of Battles is that all units fall into one of two broad types: Formed and Loose.

Formed units are the sort of regiment you’ve seen in Kings of War, Warhammer or any other game where troops fight in ranks and files, shoulder to shoulder (base to base). In God of Battles this has a fixed formation of 4 models wide with the Leader in the front rank. Depth depends on the number of models listed as part of the unit. This formation only changes as a result of losses in battle.

Loose isn’t a reference to their morals; it simply describes the unit’s formation which is loosely scattered. The models simply have to remain within 4 inches of their Leader and their positioning can change every turn. Easy. This is the classic skirmish unit and works equally well for the nymphs in Quithnilian’s armies and the psychotic beastmen of the Blood Gorged tribes.


This picture shows a unit of mercenary ogre gunners (Loose) facing a couple of units of City Guard (Formed), deployed side by side to form a continuous line. The visual difference between unit types is clear, regardless of the exact models used in each unit. Rules are always easier to remember when they reflect something that’s plainly visible on the tabletop.

In the game the concept of Formed and Loose underlies many rules. Movement is more restrictive for Formed units, arcs different, numbers of models who can get to the front to fight change, and so on. As it makes a vast difference in how individuals fight in reality, so it does in the game. It’s also an excellent shorthand for other units like chariots and cannons. Small, light things generally count as Loose for movement, whilst heavy and cumbersome things count as Formed. It’s all straightforward and easy to remember and allows me to reduce the number of extra rules I need when adding war engines, chariots and monsters.

Loose units are easy to use with the ability to move in any direction and no flanks to worry about. They are fast and flexible. Formed units tend to be bigger and slower. They take more generalship to get the most out of, but when you know what you are doing with them you can shut down a predominantly Loose army completely.

Part of the trick with Formed units is understanding Threat Areas and how to use them. These are an imaginary area which every unengaged Formed unit projects 8 inches directly to its front. Within this zone an enemy unit can only move directly towards or directly away from the unit that projects it. This ability to pin and control the enemy units can be very potent indeed, though it takes a bit of practice to get the most out of it.


View From The Top

The interplay between Formed and Loose units within an army is an interesting puzzle. How many Formed units do you want for a battle line? More is better, but all will be vulnerable. One word: flanks. Dropping back the end unit of a Formed line can protect the flank of the next unit with its Threat Area, and this use of deployment in echelon works very nicely. But who guards their flank? The reason that most Ancient armies included a few light (Loose) troops is replicated here as they perform their historical duties of flank protection and baggage raiding.

One thing that has worked out very well in GoB is this mirroring of real tactics. Obviously it’s still a game with myriad abstractions, but in the main it is proper tactics and considerations that will help you most. The simple Formed/Loose breakdown allows that to be memorised early, and after that you are left to think like a general.

Command your army, not your men.

And armies are the level to consider this. One major difference between the various armies is their mix of Formed and Loose units. Some are entirely comprised of Loose units, such as the Blood Gorged or Godless. Their battle lines are fluid and ever-moving, adapting to the enemy’s actions like water round rocks. With less ability to hold a fixed line securely they often focus on attack.

A few armies are almost all Formed. Quithnilian’s elves are an example of this. However none lack even a single Loose option as these are so important for flanking duties. In the case of the imperial elves it is the nymphs who perform this duty. Even so, these armies rely on their Formed units to fight the bulk of their battles. They suit generals who want more predictable armies who follow set plans. Controlling the battlefield and the enemy is often an aim of such forces.

The majority of armies allow you to choose the mix of Formed and Loose units when you select the army from the list. There are enough choices to pick the kind of force you want to fight with today, against this foe, and you might find yourself tinkering with the army composition frequently, striving for that elusive perfect balance.

This entry was posted in God of Battles. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to God of Battles Designer’s Notes: Formed and Loose

  1. guerreminky says:

    I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thrilled that this rule-set if coming out. I am truly surprised that more hoopla in the internet-land isn’t occurring over it. Perhaps KickStarter is just too vibrant an environment that the traditional type releases are overshadowed by the vast and varied pre-orders all in one location. Perhaps it’s that this type of rule-set appeals to a subset of wargamers, who aren’t particularly vocal.

    My gaming group in Factoria, WA just had a discussion about rule-sets a few months ago. The consensus was that we all felt that the current games we play are more fascinating OFF the table than they are ON the table. Once the game begins, the decision making seems to go by the wayside. (It’s still fun, but the balance is stacked towards army build and deploying.) All the information (THANKS!) so far indicates decision making ON the table as a major facet. Very exciting; even more so in that it doesn’t seem to invalidate my group’s range of models.

    Now….if the book will just release so I can buy it….:-)

  2. Delf says:

    Some nice behind the scenes.
    When you come out with 2nd edition, you can make expand ranks to 5 to sell more models ;).

  3. Minitrol says:

    Looks like a better job of painting and photography this time!

    I’ll admit I am slightly cautious about buying another Foundry release there seemed little love for Tribes of Legend – is the intent for it to be a one off or will there be more support. I really tried to drum up interest last time but it was a damp squid (tee hee).

    I like the sound of the rules but forgive me for saying I am not yet seeing anything different that God of Battles offers that couldn’t be supplied via Kings of War or Hordes of the Things or even Realm FW which is free…

    Don’t get me wrong I am all for rules sets that allow me to use my existing miniatures (that was my primary focus for 2012!) but could you provide a bit more info on what makes this set unique or what you feel makes it ideal. You have mentioned this was the rule set you were writing more for your self so why is that?

    Thanks Jake I am a fan of nearly everything you write – hopefully some buzz does build and we get some other views as well!

    • Ben says:

      I’ll let Jake comment on what he feels makes him game unique or ideal but as an outsider familiar with both systems I’ll pass on my own comments on where I think the differences are with GoB and KoW (can’t comment on HotT).

      Both games are mass battle fantasy games and have some overlap in which armies they allow you to use (not a bad thing IMO). Both are unit-buy systems and utilise unit leaders for measuring distances and LoS (albeit in different ways) and both have streamlined movement and magic systems in comparison with WFB. Both games can also be played in a couple of hours or less. These are the similarities.

      The primary difference between them as I see it is a fundamental difference in their approach to gameplay. KoW is an abstract system that provides its players with perfect information and is the nearest thing that a mass fantasy battle system gets to chess. GoB takes a more narrative approach and uses mechanics such as scenarios, strategems, alternate unit activation, weather, and the card-activated miracles system to achieve this. I certainly don’t see how anyone could play both games and conclude that the experience was the same. That said, given the overlap between some of the army lists you can easily play both games with the same army and get two entirely different playing experiences for the price of one. In that respect both systems are a bargain and I’d urge anyone playing KoW already to pick up GoB as you’ll likely be able to dive straight in.

    • mattadlard says:

      Interesting point but both games are stand alone and do not really need expansions. However I can see how it could be done and I’m sure jae has several concepts already. Perils of having an active mind. However if you want add-ons and exansions try contacting Marcus at Foundry marcus@wargamesfoundry.com really is approachable.

  4. Pingback: God of Battles Designer’s Notes: What’s the Difference? |

  5. mattadlard says:

    I know that Marcus has released a load of new figures and armies for Tribes of Legend, links are http://www.foundryfantasy.com/miniatures/collections/greek_mythology/any/greek_gods_myths_magic_and_monsters_collection_bcwg401/?PHPSESSID=8f0aad8d1e79b7ad61739a10b0e88b67



    Hope that helps, as I know they are looking to re-work the whole website as the set up apart from being dated is part of the previous managments idea and does not work as two.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s