FOG-AM – A Beginner’s Guide to Caveats.
Nothing disappoints more than planning a decisive move only to have it thwarted because your opponent knows the rules better. Here are some hints and tips to try and help the less experienced players, including some extras to watch out for in Version 3. First thing to be careful of is:
Any unit which hasn’t had a charge declared against it and which has a clear path to the route taken by enemy chargers can, if within 2MU for infantry and 4MU for mounted, make an interception charge. This can be very useful but there’s something you need to be aware of. In a recent club game I overlapped my opponent’s line (usually a very good thing!). He dropped back his end unit a couple of inches behind his main line – and I didn’t see what was coming. When within reach, I declared charges all along my line, except for the end unit, which couldn’t reach his stepped-back end unit. This promptly declared an interception charge and, instead of me overlapping him, he overlapped me. Beware!
Each unit has a ‘zone of control’ (restricted area in the rules), a 2MU area to its front (note: this applies to skirmishers only against other skirmishers). Move into this zone or allow your opponent to move forward and pin you and you can run into all sorts of problems. Basically, you have then to remain in front of the pinning unit and can only wheel parallel to its front, which can be extremely limiting (you can, of course, charge it!). However, if you’re pinned by a unit to your rear you can move forwards out of the way, even if this means you end up not in front of the pinners, and skirmishers or troops capable of evading (non-shock cavalry in a single rank) can retire 2MU out of the pin zone if they pass a Complex Move Test (CMT).
These are the troops who, when close to the enemy, would tend to close to contact such as medieval knights, warbands, Greek hoplites and Roman Legionaries. They can be game winners but you have to be careful moving them. Once within charge reach they may have to charge, even if you don’t want them to (the old WRG Uncontrolled Advance). To stop them charging you need to pass a CMT – and quality re-rolls do not apply – so be careful.
Winning and losing in FOG-AM is all down to passing or failing Cohesion Tests (morale checks). Having a unit to the rear (within 8MU if infantry or 12MU if mounted) gives you a +1 with the CT, which might make all the difference to a unit under pressure. Rear support represents the morale benefit of supporting friends, such as happened with the Byzantine system of having a second line of reserve cavalry, or Republican Roman cohorts, who know the Triarii are supporting them. With further regard to passing those all important CTs, Generals with a unit (if in combat or within certain distances if not) also give a +1 (+2 if an Inspired Commander), so use them for this whenever possible (but see below for the risks).
Risk to Commanders
Version 3 of the rules introduced a much more dangerous rule with regard to generals fighting in the front rank. If your opponent inflicts at least two hits on your unit the general fighting with it can be killed – even if he (your opponent) loses the combat (needs a 12 if he loses, 11 if he draws and just 10 if he wins the combat). Throw your generals into the fight only when it’s really important for him to add his troop upgrade effect.
Units of four bases
You need to be careful when choosing a unit with just four bases. Losing one of them is 25 percent, an automatic -1 to morale checks, which now counts immediately in Version 3. The fact that impact now mainly uses 3 dice instead of 2 means units of four are much more vulnerable to base losses.
Complicated manoeuvres are much more difficult to carry out with undrilled troops, especially infantry. Make sure you have enough generals around to help them pass any CMTs required for anything other than a full move advance (at least, when close to the enemy). Note: a general with undrilled sometimes means no test is needed.
Lancers with Bow*
Lancers with Bow* (or half the unit with Bow) are not classed as shock troops. Your offensive and light spears, pikes and impact foot can charge them with relative impunity! Note, these represent troops who were happy to charge with the lance, but equally able to soften up the enemy from a distance first, such as the Byzantine cavalry of Belisarius.
Elephants and camps
Elephants are the only mounted troops which can sack a fortified camp (battering rams?!).
Turning 90 degrees
Be very careful when turning 90 degrees. There has to be enough room for your troops to reform and, whilst you can shift certain enemy troops out of the way, you can’t move friends, and the turn isn’t then allowed.
Units in column (single file) can be easier to manoeuvre but are more vulnerable to shooting and suffer a minus POA if they have to declare a charge. A simple left or right turn can result in a unit becoming a column (if they’re 40mm or less deep) so be very careful, especially if within or about to be within enemy shooting range. Only the first three ranks of bases count, which means a single hit will result in a cohesion test having to be made. Cohesion tests, along with a bad dice roll, can lead to disaster. You have been warned!
Units grouped in a Battle Line under the command of a general have certain advantages. The whole line can make a second march move together. Troop commanders can move two units together, field commanders four and inspired commanders a whopping six. However, if for example, all the units in the line turn ninety degrees to the side and remain in contact (which can happen with medium and light foot) they cannot make a second march move together until the following turn.
Even though disrupted, shock troops can charge if they wish and need to test not to if they don’t. Other troops have to pass a CMT to charge if disrupted.
Swords v Spears
Troops with a sword as a melee weapon need to be very careful when facing spears or pikes. If the spears or pikes remain steady (not disrupted/fragmented) then the sword cannot be used. If their fierce impact charge fails to disrupt the enemy then they could be in trouble. Swords are also not much use against elephants (disrupted or not!).