Fearful Odds is a hex and counter wargame in fantasy, ancient, and medieval settings. Players familiar with GMT’s Great Battles of History or miniature rule systems like Lion Rampant will find plenty of similarities, but Fearful Odds is its own system and uses its own blend of game mechanics, so it should be learned and treated as its own game.
Counters in Fearful Odds come in a few types, Characters, Units, Equipment and Markers. Characters are leaders and heroes plus a few special items characters can use to enhance their stats.
Characters are rated for Prowess, Leadership, and Movement, and some have additional Abilities.
Units are the main military units of the system, with a Unit Type letter code on the upper right of the counter, and ratings for size in Strength Points (SP), morale, and movement along the bottom of the counter. Some also have Missile ability shown in a blue circle with a single letter code on the middle right of the counter.
Equipment are generic assets especially for siege warfare like siege engines, rams, siege towers, ladders or fill (used to make ditches, moats and streams more passable), plus ships in a few cases.
Markers are informational counters that show unit strength (SPs under a unit), state (disordered or missile low/missile out for units, minor wound for characters), or that modify terrain (ruin, fire, etc).
The flow of play in Fearful Odds is turns in which each unit may act once, each containing multiple activations that use a group of units together. Players alternate activations and choose freely with leader or unit group they wish to activate next, limited to their unspent characters and units. A player may Pass instead of activating anyone, and when both players Pass in succession the turn ends.
Characters in Fearful Odds can engage in Single Combat when adjacent, with Hero characters required to conduct such fights while Leader characters can opt in or out of them, though one side having a Hero is sufficient to force such Single Combat to occur. Single Combat can wound or remove Characters from the battle, and also influences Melee combat between Units in the same activation if one side is Victorious in the preceding Single Combat between those hexes. Some monster Heroes can even attack whole enemy units, though they can only be hurt by Single Combat themselves.
The main combat is conducted by the military Units against each other. Missile fire occurs during movement for 1/2 the firing unit’s movement allowance (MA) and is a one sided affair; opponents only fire back if and when their own missile units activate. Melee combat occurs in each activation after all active units have moved, and is mandatory for all active units with enemies in their front hexes. Melee is always one unit against one unit and the attacked unit gets to fight back, with each side rolling for hits and morale checks on 2D10 of different colors, rolled simultaneously. If either side is Disordered by failed morale checks, someone will Retreat, breaking contact. Melee attackers that clear the attacked hex – by losses rout or retreat – must advance into it. Melees in the same activation are resolved in the order the active player desires and are not simultaneous with each other. Note that SP hits are permanent losses in Fearful Odds, not temporary loss of “cohesion” as in some other systems.
Disordered units can attempt to recover to good order by Rally, with leaders able to attempt 1 unit rally per March activation and all active units able to attempt to rally in a Regroup activation. Rally is a D10 morale check against current morale; if it passes the Disorder is removed, with no effect otherwise. In Regroup activations, units that Routed (removed from the map) on previous turns may Regroup onto the map in Disorder if they pass their check, but they are permanently eliminated if they fail it, so each Routed unit only has one chance to come back.
For siege fights, fighting across a wall is always at limited effectiveness, and defenders get a -1 CEV to the attacker trying to cross the wall. Walls also make melee across them voluntary instead of required, and let units move away without needing to Withdraw. To fight from a lower elevation, attackers also need ladders (or to fill in the lower elevation terrain with fill before moving there), and javelins get a further -1 CEV if attacking from a lower elevation. Units behind walls or in building hexes also get 4 front hexes and only 2 rear hexes, instead of the usual 2 front, 2 flank, and 2 rear hexes. Siege equipment like rams and engines can knock down gates or walls to remove these disadvantages, created breeches that are narrow ways but otherwise treated as clear terrain. Narrow way means single combat victory by defending characters blocks any subsequent melee, allowing one hero to hold a bridge or breech.
Victory is determined by specific victory conditions in each scenario, but mostly depend on inflicting losses on the enemy army, both his characters and his units, and sometimes on holding territorial objectives on the map.
Download link for a Vassal module for 4 sample tactical scenarios