This is Andre Faucher on behalf of Gamer's Haven, reviewing the product Book of the River Nations: Mass Combat, an addition to their already steadfast collection of how to run a kingdom and all aspects of it. This pdf is focused on running your army, from maintaining it to crushing the enemies of the nation.
What are some of the drawbacks of this text or rules within?
1.) Requires other texts. If you truly want to get the full flavor of this, buy the Kingdom Building and Exploration pack too. When I first bought this text I did not have that, and the conversion that they have does not mesh as well as one would hope.
2.) Maintaining the Army. While running an army is expensive, Mass Combat makes it seem near impossible to keep a standing army from fleeing into the hills with a steep maintenance cost. This can cripple the ideas of having an army ready over a long period, or even for short periods. The cost is 2 BP (with Kingdom Builder rules) or 5,000 Gold (without) for most standard troops. Doing the math, effectively to maintain an army of 100 standard militia, which costs 2 bp, that means that every week each soldier has 50 gold spent on them. Apparently every week the soldier breaks at least one major part of equipment or they eat like kinds.
What are some of the benefits of this book?
1.) Versatility. This book allows numerous combination of armies that can deal with just about any idea that the group is interested in building.
2.) Mostly Good Rules. The combat system mimics much of the standard d20 fighting system but it speeds it up and allows the game to remain interesting while throwing massive armies against each other. Perhaps the best, or at least my personal favorite rule, is the CR scaling. With the increase or decrease in number and effectiveness of troops it allows for a very balanced fight. It also has the rules for a single target... say for example a giant or a high level character. This allows the characters to finally run around the battle field and do something, rather than have the player grind through 100 soldiers.
3.) Easy. These rules are not complicated and can easily be used or adapted to make a fight go much faster allowing players the feeling of huge battles without the long drawn out pain of all the rolling.
If you like the River Nations collection, this is a must buy. This is a mostly good book that caters to army based campaigns, and further expands the wonderful Book of the River Nations collection. It is a good cheap price that will save a lot of head aches, or carpal tunnel if one is actually rolling out a battle of 1,000 troops, and can be easily read and understood. The only real downside is that maintenance of armies is really expensive. However in the book they note this, as to make sure that people feel the pain of a long drawn out war. In addition historically many nations did not maintain a standing army year around, because it was too expensive, and only used them in short controlled periods.