Imperio Bellum is a two-player strategy board game created by Mastina.
On an 81-square board, two players on opposing sides lay down a headquarters, two bases, and then up to fifteen pieces consisting of knights, archers, footsoldiers, and pikemen.
Either eliminate the entire opposing force’s army, or capture/destroy all of their bases.
The elimination of the entire opposing force’s army is defined by them lacking any non-base pieces on the board at any point.
The capturing or destruction of a base is defined by a valid piece attacking the base and winning the resulting combat roll. If a player has no bases left, they lose.
Starting a Game
At the beginning of the game, one player is defined as the ‘attacker’, and the other as the ‘defender’. If an agreement cannot be reached, a die roll will determine which player will take which role. By default, the winner of the die roll will assume the role of attacker.
The defender is mandated to position a lead base and two other secondary bases on their 9x2 grid at one edge of the board. They will then proceed to choose the placement of knights, archers, footsoldiers, and pikemen until either they have set out 15 pieces within this 9x2 grid, or they declare their defense ready.
Off to the side of the board, they are permitted to lay out up to 50 pieces that serve as reinforcements. When they declare their reinforcements ready, the attacker will then proceed to lay out their own side of the board: the mandatory lead base, two secondary bases, and up to 15 pieces. They will then set up to 50 pieces on the side to serve as their own reinforcements.
The defender is then allowed to make a grand total of four alterations to their formation, including any change in their reinforcements.
Players may not have more than 10 knights in their army between reinforcements and starting pieces on the board. Players may not start the game with more than 8 knights in their formation.
When this process has concluded, the attacker will begin the game with their moves.
Pieces can never move through other pieces, and can never move onto a square with one of their own pieces. However, they can move into the square of an opponent’s piece, which will then initiate combat. The combat in play will be determined by the rules of the pieces involved in the engagement.
Bases can move one square in any direction per turn. They cannot attack, and cannot be captured/destroyed by a ranged attack. However, they will always have exactly one die to use in defense.
Bases allow for a player to spawn units: one per active base under their control per turn (barring special circumstance). The spawned units are taken from the reinforcements pile the player laid out in the setup for the game. Spawned units will be placed in any empty square next to a base. If a base is surrounded on all eight sides, it cannot spawn a unit that turn. Spawning happens at the beginning of a turn.
If a base is attacked and its defenses are overrun, then the attacking player may choose to either capture or destroy the base. If the base is destroyed, it is permanently removed from the game.
If the base is captured, then it can be included in the number of bases for spawning units. The exception to this is if the player who captured the base has had one of their own bases captured yet not destroyed: in this instance, the captured bases are considered useless until the player can either recapture or destroy their lost base.
Knights are the only unit capable of both moving and attacking in the same turn, and can do so in any combination of their permitted actions. They are allowed five actions in a single turn: moving up to five tiles in any combination of directions, moving four times and attacking once, moving three times and attacking twice, and so on. Attacking follows the pattern of least resistance; if a knight is directly next to a unit, even if it has all five actions available, it will attack point-blank.
A knight is assigned by default 3 dice. If being attacked or attacking one of the immediate 8 tiles surrounding them, they will take a -1-die penalty. If they move two tiles prior to attacking, they receive a +1-die bonus. If moving 3 tiles prior to attacking, it is a +2-dice bonus. If moving all 4 tiles before attacking, it is a +3-dice bonus.
A knight is weak against pikemen, and thus, takes a -1-die penalty when facing pikemen. Furthermore, if they enter an enemy pikeman’s zone of influence (the 8 square surrounding the pikeman and one tile in front of that), they stop and lose the remainder of their actions for that turn.
Archers are the only unit able to eliminate pieces from the board without risking their own lives. They may perform a ranged attack 2-5 tiles diagonally or straight ahead in any direction, making the center tile a highly valued spot for them. When attacking from a distance, they use 3 dice to attack their target.
Their ranged bombardments additionally have an area of effect: the 8 tiles surrounding their attacked target square also get attacked by a single die. However, friendly fire is possible, and archers are therefore the only unit capable of killing one’s own troops.
When engaging either in attack or defense in their immediate 8 surrounding tiles, archers will use melee, and have access to only a single die. They may move up to two tiles in any direction per turn, but cannot both move and attack in a turn.
An archer has a weakness against footsoldiers, and thus, they may not shoot over or around enemy footsoldiers: a footsoldier protects the seven tiles to their side and behind them, plus any tiles even further back the archer would otherwise be able to shoot at. Archers cannot capture or destroy a base by ranged attack, but are capable of doing so in melee.
Pikemen make up the front line of a force, acting as their first line of defense. They are the anti-cavalry specialists, and also work to fortify positions, denying entry by other units simply by being present. However, they lack offensive capabilities and are vulnerable to being picked off from a distance.
Pikemen by default are given 2 dice. However, they take a -1-die penalty against archer barrages. Pikemen are unique among units, in that they have a passive ability: entrenchment. If a pikeman does not move for a full turn, it will gain a +1-die bonus for as long as it continues not to move.
A second unique aspect of the pikeman is that when they attack, if victorious, they will not move into the defeated piece’s position (unless destroying a base), meaning a pikeman may remain entrenched even when on the offensive.
Pikemen may attack two tiles directly forward, or one tile in any of the 8 directions. Pikemen move one tile per turn. Pikemen specialize at taking out knights: when facing one, they receive a +2-dice bonus. They also will instantly stop an enemy knight’s movements on the field.
Footsoldiers are given 3 dice by default. When facing a knight, they take a -2-dice penalty. Against archers (regardless of ranged or melee, attack or defense), they receive a +1-die bonus. If a footsoldier is attacking, they receive a +1-die bonus.
Footsoldiers can move one tile per turn. They can attack any of the 8 tiles surrounding them. If a footsoldier is victorious, it will move into the tile that it was attacking (unless capturing a base).
Enemy archers cannot fire over or around a footsoldier.
During each turn, a player may move and attack as many times as they wish, so long as the pieces making the moves/attacks have the legal capability to do so. When entering into combat, apply the appropriate dice modifiers. Each player will roll his or her dice. The higher value will win the fight, and either capture or kill the piece engaged (if applicable).
If there is a tie (barring ranged attack or base attack), both the attacker and defender are eliminated. In the case of a tie between a base and an attacker, the attacker dies. In the case of a tie between a ranged attack and the defender, the defender lives.
A turn is ended when either a player declares their turn over, or they have no more legal moves they can make.
Usage of Dice
All dice roles use standard D6s. Therefore, you can measure things as Bases having a 1d6, Knights having a default 3d6, Archers having a default 3d6 range attack, Pikement having a default 2d6, and Footsoldiers having a default 3d6, with the dice value of these pieces being modified according to the nature of the combat.
Though rare, it can occur that both sides have simultaneously eliminated all of their pieces, forcing a draw. Should this happen, the following criteria determine the order of the winner:
- If one side had an initial deployment of fewer units on the field than the other, that side will be declared victorious.
- If one side had fewer reinforcements at the beginning of the game than the other, that side will be declared victorious.
- If one side has more reinforcements currently available than the other, that side will be declared victorious.
- If one side has more bases than the other does, that side will be declared victorious.
- If one side has control of their original headquarters yet the other does not, that side will be declared victorious.
- If one side has never lost control of their original headquarters yet the other side has, that side will be declared victorious.
- If, after working down this list a side has not yet been declared victorious, the victory shall be handed to the defender.
Boards can be represented in any number of ways. The suggested official way is given below:
Kx6; Ax10; Px14; Fx20
Kx5; Ax20; Px10; Fx15
Where B = base; K = Knight; A = Archer; P = Pikemen; F = Footsoldier; O = open tile. Colors denote red as attacker, with crimson as headquarters; blue as defender, with navy as headquarters.
House rules may be used, modifying the game as the players mutually agree.