Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tested at the Pass

After Sunday's game I was all hepped up and excited and ready to write a narrative with some background on characters and situation but duties called then yesterday was a game day in town and an absorbing WWII game and... well the moment has passed so here is a shorter more direct report on the game.

My goal, beyond having fun,  was twofold: test some new rules and test the rules in a smaller, scenario driven, game.  Spoiler alert: Full marks on both points.

The convoy escort has beaten off the first attacks and advanced but a new assault is gathering.

The scenario was a mix of the general idea of an old teaser ambush with some terrain  laid down as much according to instinct and the pieces on hand as to any vague plan of a narrow valley between hills and river. I then chose 12 units per side plus a victory objective from which arose a back story.

In the Midlands, rumours of dark dealings and a new threat from the West are circulating. The King has "requested", Sir Daniel, Purveyor of Truths to leave his lair and venture forth in person to get to the bottom of things and return with proof. After adventures not recorded he and a force are returning with a captured Lion Priestess in hand. They have only to pass through the Shadow Vale and across the Stone Bridge to reach the safety of the Midlands.

The rearguard cavalry is moving up to counter attack.Casualty figures and looters mark lost units.
MIDLISH FORCES
The convoy enters the table as follows:
Scouts: 1 x light armoured cavalry crossbows
Main Body:
Tunstall Lancers 1 x Armoured shock cavalry
Tunstall Archers: 1 x Light armoured. archers
Pikes: 2 x armoured pikemen.
Guardians of Truth: 1 x Heavily Armoured Shock Infantry
Sir Daniel and escort: Character General
Captive in cart with light armoured escort.
 Wagon
Border Archers: 1 x Light Armoured Archers
Pikes: 2 x armoured pikemen.
Longbottom Lancers:  1 x armoured shock cavalry

Rearguard: Border Horse 1x light armoured shock cavalry

WESTFOLK
The Westfolk forces are all hidden in ambush. Rather than use my usual cards and blinds option or the hidden map deployment I would use in a 2 player game, I tried something new. Each turn I rolled 2 dice. A 6 meant a cavalry unit, 4,or 5 an infantry unit. These are drawn from a list of available units, if none of the appropriate type are available none appear. For each unit I rolled 2 dice. If Red was higher the Lion Queen could place the unit anywhere on table not visible to the enemy and not yet searched by them. If Blue was higher the unit had to be placed in one of the not yet cleared ambush locations closest to the enemy and must shoot or attack if possible or advance full speed on the turn of placement if not. The system worked well to provide a reasonable ambush that was a surprise to both sides but especially to the ambushed as there was no eyeing of cards as possible danger spots, every hill and wood was a danger.  

The list was:
Lion Queen. Character and General with Special unit. Attributes not defined yet so treated as shock cavalry able to move through woods with magical protection equal to armour.
The Assasasin. character not yet defined so treated as light infantry but with attack of 5 and magical protection equal to armour. (didn't get into action)
3 x Light Cavalry, lightly armoured (shield)
3 x light infantry archers, unarmoured but counting as light due to camoflage
4 x light infantry, lightly armoured.

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The scene from a different angle.
(oops I thought this was a later picture but its here now)

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Early on a series of impetuous ambushes by archers and light cavalry inflicted some heavy damage by shooting and by flanking attacks on isolated units. Only 1 unit was destroyed early on but shielding the ones with 1 hit left while trying to cover the convoy became a real headache for Sir Daniel. As more light infantry appeared and the attackers got anxious to score kills or grab the hostage before the rest of the heavy troops could come up led to some possibly rash atacks not backed up by luck. Soon casualties were even and the ambushers were using their speed to retreat to safe havens from which to watch for an opening while keeping up a thin shower of arrows. The convoy plodded forward in all round defence minus 1/2 the cavalry which had chased after some light infantry, been ambushed, rescued by more cavalry, and then caught the retreating enemy just short of cover and rode them down. At this point, both sides were down a couple of units but Sir Daniel had either to push forward or else retreat quickly hoping for a draw. A die roll chose the aggresive go for a win. With battered and lost units on both sides it hung in the balance, if the flanking cavalry could come up behind the ambusher's cavalry in the open, like a hammer against the anvil of the convoy, all would be good. Instead the third archer finally appeared and shot down the last Tunstall lancer, who failed his armour save, and the Midlish force went under strength and was no longer allowed to attack or shoot (not that there were any archers left).  They tried to retreat but the swift moving light infantry soon surrounded them. There was no hope but to negotiate, hand over the priestess alive in exchange for free passage. I gave Sir Daniel a chance to use the persuasion of his secret knowledge on the Lion Queen (opposed die roll) and it worked. He handed her over and was allowed to depart. A Westfolk victory in their eyes if some what diminished by the sight of their enemy retreating unmolested but a continuing story for Sir Daniel.

The game hangs in the balance. Both armies are only a few units away from losing morale and have multiple wounded units.

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As mentioned above I was very pleased with how the rules worked with the armour save. With as few as 12 units per side, and a scenario, an engaging battle was fought lasting longer than the earlier, larger, straight encounters, possibly 2 hours and somewhere between 20 and 30 turns. A large battle should still go fast but with a bit more depth than before.

I hadn't been happy with my trial horse archer rule or the shoot only before move and lack of difference in archers types so I tried introducing light and massed archers on horse and foot and let light ones move and shoot but with 2 dice while the massed one could do either. The move and shoot with 1/2 dice worked fine, the other not so much and anyway, looking at the figures I realized that unless my old Minifig Picts were some sort of stealth snipers, they were really just an unarmoured version of the lightly armoured English archer figures they were fighting. For massed archers I had really been thinking Persian Sparabara and the like. In the end I decided to just let any archer move and shoot with 1/2 dice and I'll worry about special units later. One I'm puzzling over is my 2 stands of "lances" which contain a mix of lancers and mounted crossbowmen. Possibly a special unit stat with 2 dice of shock and 2 of archers. But that's a question for later.

In case anyone is wondering about the increased flank value instead of a hedgehog, the pikes are more like Swiss with a mix of pikes and halberds and ready to form square at the drop of a hat without orders from above.
The bridge is in sight. The rearguard cavalry is swiftly advancing on the rear of the enemy cavalry but then archers pop up in the scrub along the river and the Tunstall Lances go down and with them the army's morale.  

More work on characters and magic is next I think. Not to mention more rebasing, painting and playing.

The deal is struck. Safe release of the prisoner for freedom to go.

6 comments:

  1. Great game Ross.I like your new archery rules and think you are onto something there.I am very interested in fantasy elements like magic and the assassin..I wonder how fear could be taken into account esp of Big Beasts. I don't want to over complicate but such considerations seem to add flavour to the game. BTW the Ents saw the orcs off relatively easily. More games time,energy and gardening permitting at the weekend...
    Alan

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    1. Good question about representing fear, I was thinking about it myself. Possibly including it in a save for the creature (since the enemy is afraid to attack) or as part of its offensive value, negating enemy armour as the damage is psychological rather than physical. I'm waiting for more from Rob on the magic side when time allows.

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  2. Wow, Ross, this is very cool stuff. I must have a look at GoT and see how it will work with my Lord of the Rings figures. That's definitely on the To Do list now.

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    1. You're more than welcome to try it and to modify it. The link is to the old set so the blog post summary is all there is so far. Pretty old old school, no command control and the only random bits/ friction are combat and the players themselves. Took me a while to accept that but it moves fast and doesnt always go as expected.

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  3. Ross,the post about Sunday's game is coming up on my blog reader list but I can't get it on your blog.
    Alan

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    1. Sorry about that Alan. Accidentally posted it 1/2 way through and then reverted to draft. The ghost remains. Might get it finished today, if not, tomorrow.

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