I love the Game of Thrones board game by Fantasy Flight Games. Not only is it set in the world of some of my favourite books, but the actual game design is brilliant. It is fairly simple to learn but the strategy is very complex, and it touches on a number of different gaming mechanisms; resource management, diplomacy, bluffing, combat tactics. The best part? Combat doesn't involve dice; hence, there is very little left to chance in this game. The victor is decided by strategy and player interaction, and of course a little friendly backstabbing.
- In AGOT, the players are technically all on different sides
- In my D&D game, the players will (probably) all be on the same side
- Variety and options
A 4E Dungeon Master's worse nightmare: Okay, you roll a 17, you hit. That's 12 damage and pushed 2 squares. Now you rolled a 5, you missed. Oh, don't forget to save against daze. You rolled a 12, hit for 9 damage. You can't reach, you're out of range. What do you mean you have a paragon path power that extends your reach by 1? Fine! Hit, 15 damage, knocked prone. Next...
- House cards
Because each group is going to have a leader (the PC), I don't want to use "House" cards per se. I'm thinking I'll call them tactics, and instead of something you can only use once, I'll make them something you can reuse, but will interact with and be heavily dependent on your opponent's card. It's a rock paper scissors sort of thing. Eg, A phalanx beats a charge, a charge beats a flank, and a flank beats a phalanx.
- How do the PC's abilities affect their troops?
I think they should also get abilities based on their powers/class. The Cavalier/Paladin is obvious, the class already makes mounted characters move faster, so any cavalry units under his command would have increased move speed. The Cleric would be able to protect units from being destroyed in battle (the "Fortification" icon in the AGOT game). The ranger may be better at setting ambushes, or moving faster/fighting in forested terrain. The warlock and wizard are a bit more difficult - just adding a straight combat strength bonus is boring, I'd like something a more interesting and flavourful.
So that's what I have so far. I have no idea if this will work, and there's always a possibility that my players will diffuse the situation before it breaks down into war, so these rules may not be necessary... though I doubt it. PC adventurers are great at causing violence and conflict. It's kind of their job, really.
If anyone has any thoughts or opinions on the topic, such as suggestions on how to adapt/use these rules, I would love to hear them. Stories about mass-combat and warfare in your own campaigns, and how they worked or not, would also be appreciated.