Thursday 16 June 2011

Chronicles of Blood Review

While solo RPG Chronicles of Arax pitted us against deadly dungeons and fearsome creatures in one-on-one battles, Chronicles of Blood brings Arax to a whole new scale: war.

As grotesque tortured undead things storm the fields of battle, the only glimmer of hope lies in The Golden Alliance, an army of men, elves, dwarves and angels who alone stand against the tyranny of The Unholy Blight.

Ever have war games been played solo but Chronicles of Blood is purposefully built with solitaire gaming in mind. But is the game a valiant triumph or a blood-gurgled whimper? Find out after the jump...

Chronicles of Blood is a fantasy war game intended for solo play. Like its roleplaying predecessor, the free price tag on this game automatically warrants you owning it, even if it's not any good. It's a good thing then that you're getting a lot of bang for no buck.

CoB pits two opposing armies against each other: The Golden Alliance and The Unholy Blight. You can probably guess who are the good guys in this war, but each army contains multiple races rather than set armies for each race. For instance, The Golden Alliance has men, elves, dwarves and angels while The Unholy Blight kicks back with goblins, orcs, skeletons and demons. The downside of this is you can't pit a (good) army of elves against an army of goblins, since each race only has one or two unit types, such as infantry or cavalry. This will likely be addressed in future premium supplements and it's not a big deal for a free game. Besides, there's nothing stopping a player from just re-skinning an existing race.

Those of you who are familiar with Chronicles of Arax will understand the rules from the get-go. Some attributes, such as fight, damage and morale are assigned a dice type. The more sides the die, generally the better the unit. Combat is simplicity itself, each side rolling their fight dice, adding any conditional modifiers from tactics and environment, and seeing who gets the higher number. The winner inflicts damage on the loser which is deducted from that unit's wounds. The quick and easy rules are a great boon to CoB and work really well in solo play where a player doesn't want to be sat around referencing rules.

Some unit types have their own special rules, like the Knights of the Realm who roll a higher dice when they charge, or Skeleton Warriors who are undead and therefore never make morale checks to see if they scarper after sustaining wounds.

Although the rules are minimum, there are a few things that are left up to the player that should probably be addressed, such as what happens when a unit tries to flee 2cm after losing a battle, but can't due to blocking terrain? This can easily be house-ruled, however, so it's a very minor fault.

The rules for solo play are actually pretty common-sense. For instance, when it's your enemy's turn you activate them in order of value, highest to lowest points and they always attack the closest unit. The problem here is that you will always be putting your enemy's high value troops at the front and the lower ones at the back, since they activate sequentially, but this may not be tactically sound to do so. However, one cool addition to solo play that makes life a bit more difficult for the player is the Unexpected Events table. Possible events that could befall the player include rookie units deserting the field, a miscommunication where your orders go awry, or there's a sudden downpour and your archers are unable to see well through the rain.

I imagine more solo rules will be added to the game later, but right now it plays fine. Of course, it plays very nicely with 2 players too, in case you were wondering.


  1. Very good write-up! I noticed too that a few things are vague, but I actually kind of like that. One thing I'm considering is to leave such questions vague (like the retreats into impassible terrain that you mentioned), and just roll a die (for example, odd = a resolution that favors the enemy, even = a resolution that favors me) every time a situation comes up (rather than actually having a consistent rule), to add to the uncertainty.

  2. Nice report. It is worth noticing that there is already a ton of house rules on the net for this game which is great, because community is building!

  3. We just released a premium expansion allowing you to create custom armies.