Warband is a dark ages large skirmish game. It is card driven and hex-based.

Warband is a set of rules for large skirmish battles set in the Early Medieval / Dark Ages period. They are hex-based, card driven rules, designed for around 50 – 100 figures per side.


The rules require a hex-map to play, and singly based figures (or multiple bases with enough based singly to split up when necessary). Each hex should be big enough to accommodate 8 foot or 4 mounted figures (as that is the limit that can be placed in each hex).


Why use hexes ? Well, one reason is that it simplifies lots of things such as movement, line of sight, range, lining up and conforming, multi-unit combat. In fact the use of hexes is the main reason the rules can be kept so brief – the only section of the rules that takes up more than one page is combat, which runs to two pages. However, the main driving force behind the use of hexes was that they are required to accommodate the fact that there are no units in this game. I don’t believe that Dark Ages armies would be organised into distinct small units, and when games do this it is a fudge to allow the game to work. In Warband there are no such units. You can mix different troop types together in a hex or adjacent hexes and move them as a group. You can activate any or all of the figures in one hex, or if there is a leader in the hex, any adjacent hexes also. So a Viking army can have armoured warriors with two-handed axes mixed in with levy spearmen, and even have archers mixed in as well if you like.


The rules are card driven, so each turn you play one card to activate some of your troops. Each player requires a 60 card deck which are included in the back of the rules. Each activation card allows a group of figures to move, shoot, charge the enemy, fight in melee, etc., depending on the text on the card. There are also event cards which give combat advantages, hinder the enemy, etc. One activation card and any number of event cards can be played each turn, but you only draw two cards at the end of your own turn.  This creates a situation where you cannot always do what you want, and you need to plan your movement and attacks to make best use of your hand of cards.


The rules are deliberately simple, so that the focus is on the play of the cards and the interactions with the troops on the battlefield. There are no tables, charts or lists of dice roll modifiers. Each figure has only two stats – Attack and Defence, which determines how many dice they contribute to combat. Typically Levy are Attack 1 and Defence 1, Warriors (better trained and equipped troops) are Attack 2 and Defence 2. The target number for all dice rolls is 5+, unless the text on a card changes this (for example, the Shieldwall card means your Defence dice cancel hits on 4+ instead of 5+). There are some special rules for Mounted, which are again simple and subtle, but create significant differences between foot and mounted troops, and mean you need to use your cavalry wisely to make the best use of them.  


So please download the rules, have a read through and try them out.  I would appreciate feedback on them, whether from reading them through and not finding parts to be clearly explained, or after playing them. All comments gratefully accepted.


More About Warband

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How to get the rules

Warband rules are available for free. To get hold of a copy of the rules please e-mail me at [email protected]


Or you can download them here.

Discuss in the Forum

Further Development

You can discuss these rules in the Polkovnik Productions forum here.

I'm in the middle of working on sets of special cards for each faction. The idea would be that you replace some of the standard cards with, for example, special Viking or Saxon cards to give each army more character.


My aim is to produce these for all of the common dark age armies.


I have also started work on extra rules and cards to use these rules for Lord of the Rings, as I think they would work very well.