This is a fascinating read for any D&D player.
The first half is pretty skippable – it’s just standard miniature war-gaming rules. The fun starts half way through with Man-to-man combat – ie where one figurine represents one man instead or 10 or more. Included in here is a fun section for jousting which my son and I had a go at.
And then it gets really interesting with the Fantasy supplement.
You can see the pre-cursors to many D&D things in here:
- Hit points. They don’t exist here. The general rule is that if you roll the necessary number, you kill the opponent. BUT there are special notes for some of the monsters – for example Lycanthropes require 4 hits, or just 1 with a magic weapon
- Wizard spells – a fair number of the well-known Magic User spells are in here. Interestingly Fireball and Lightning are not in the list of spells – instead, they are standard missiles that a Wizard can use. There’s also the notion of spell complexity – a precursor to spell levels
- the standard (limited) list of D&D monsters – kobolds, orcs, goblins, trolls, dragons (with mention of different colours), elementals, etc
- a brief table of alignments – law, neutral, chaos
- two combat tables that instead of level against armour class, are instead creature type against type and of man-to-man which is weapon against armour type
- morale values and point values – not for any sort of XP but to create fair contests between forces of similar point values
Of note, earlier printings had references to Tolkien creatures – Hobbits, Ents, Balrogs. Later printings changed Hobbits to Halfings, Ents to Treants, and Balrogs are completely removed.
The other thing of note is how messy some of the rules are – the creatures aren’t listed in any kind of order – not even alphabetically. And you really need to read each creatures description to see how it works within the game rather than there being a table with consolidated information (there are a few tables like this but they aren’t comprehensive).
Product history available at DriveThruRPG.
According to Tome of Treasures, the 2nd edition (the first one with the Fantasy Supplement) was published in August 1972. The version I read was the 3rd edition. (There’s not very much difference between 2nd and 3rd.)