Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Gruagach in the Woods

Back to Middle Earth for this week’s game. I got a pack of Woses for Christmas and they were pretty much the first things I painted this year.  They only appear in one scenario, in the Return of the King book.  In this scenario the Rohan are trying to sneak through some forests that are infested with Orcs and other nasties loyal to Sauron.  Theoden enlists the help of the Woses to guide them through the woods unseen.
The view up the board from the Orc edge.

In the scenario the good player has to get Theoden and half of the rest of the Rohan off the far edge of the board, while all the evil player has to do is stop him.  At the start of the game there are only a few orcs milling bout on the board, while the Wose are using their excellent woodsman skills to stalk the orcs unseen. Every turn D3 Rohan appear on the board, while D6 Evil troops also wander on to the board. If at the end of any turn there is an evil model within 6 inches of any good model the alarm is then raised and the remainder of the evil force arrives on the board, basically making the game virtually impossible for the good player to win.
Rory and Kenny volunteered to play, with me being the Umpire. Rory opted to play the forces of Rohan, leaving Kenny as the forces of darkness.
We started with the Wose fairly evenly spread across the board in small groups, with the orcs concentrated in the centre of the board.  The wose managed ti inflict some early casualties, while Rory opted to hang back with his Rohan so that he had time to build up his forces. Kenny started moving his troops up the board in an attempt to get them within the magical 6 inches that would allow him to deploy all 70 of his troops at once.  

Woses skuking in the woods.

Woses brek cover

Theoden marshals his forces.
Rory managed to get most of his Rohan on the board and inflict a few casualties before the inevitable happened and he was spotted.  He had managed to advance about half way across the board but was not facing an uphill struggle as Kenny deployed the remaining 50 or so orcs on to the board.  


Theoden being the mighty hero that he is he promptly dug in his heels and led the headlong charge into the heart of the orc forces, trying to force his way through.  There was a lot of early successes from the good side and the orc casualties started to mount quickly, but it looked like there were going to be to many orcs to fight.  Rory decided to change his route of attack and Theoden led his troops over the hill and charged off the ridge into the orc forces, cutting down a lot of orcs and managing to exit the board, along with three of his warriors.
The alarm is raised and the orcs arrive.

Theoden leads the charge

Too many orcs!

The lasft few rohan flee the field.

Alas the rest of the Rohan did not fare so well, and were soon overwhelmed by the orcs. In the end both sides were broken on the same turn and the majority of the remaining Rohan fled the field, leaving to few left for a Rohan win. We stopped at this point and didn’t bother rolling to see how many orcs fled the field as there was no point.
A good scenario, and in the end the Rohan gave a very good account of themselves, with nearly 40 orcs killed for the loss of 7 Rohan lost and 6 woses.  The only thing about this one is that it could be very easily be ruined by one player being a bit “gamey” in their approach, rather than playing in character.  I think the key to this one is to move the Wose ahead of the Rohan, making best use of cover to eliminate the orcs before the cavalry reach them as once the alarm is raised it is pretty much game over unless the good player has managed to get pretty close to the board edge.
Next week is another visit to Middle Earth, and we are probably going to have another go at this scenario.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Make for the Tower!

This week Ian and I had decided to grab a practice game of Dux Britaniarum before the club campaign kicks of next month.  I have play a few games, but Ian has only managed to play once before so he wanted some practice. 

We opted for the forces that we would be using in the campaign so I used my (much Romanised!) British and Ian brought his Scotti Raiders.  We rolled for a random raid and ended up doing a raid on a watchtower, where the dastardly raiders ambush a returning British patrol and try to abduct the noble leading it, while the Brits try and make for the safety of their watchtower.

You can just about see the watchtower in the top right, behind the woods!

In Dux B pretty much everything is random, including deployment.  I opted to take an all infantry force and started on the left hand side of the short board edge, while Ian got lucky with most of his force arriving in the vanguard, apart from one unit of cavalry and the skirmishers. His troops would arrive on the right hand side of the table, right at the bottom, so he would have a bit of chasing to do!

Smelly Scotti raiders.

Smelly British Levies

The Brit patrol starts running.
The game kicked off with a fairly predictable dash for safety by the British, closely pursued by the Scotti.  I managed to get a good head start, and with the rest of the Brits sallying forth from the tower to provide some flank protection to my fleeing patrol it was looking pretty good.

My troops made good time and at one point it looked like I might make it to safety without a single blow being struck, but alas the Scotti cavalry proved too fast.  Ian changed tactics and sent his cavalry up ahead to block the way to the tower, meaning I would either have to deal with the cavalry or turn and fight the advancing raiders.  In the end I opted to leave a few groups of troops behind to get in the way of the pursuing raider infantry and the rest of my force broke formation and ran for the tower. 

Making good time. Levies come out to provide support.

More running Scotti.

Making good time. Nottice the Levies at the back covering the way round the house.

Scotti cavalry ignore the Levies, intent on the patrol.

More chasing!
There was a brief scuffle at the tower while Ian tried to stop me with his cavalry. This resulted in one group of Levies being seen off but in the end I managed to see off both units of cavalry and get all of my nobles to the safety of the watchtower.  The two units I had left as a rearguard did not fair to well though, with both being almost wiped out.
The patrol turns and forms shieldwall, ready to receive the charge.

Sod this. Make for the tower lads.

Scotti cavalry try and block the way.

Still smelly, but now knackers from all the chasing.

Casualties. A costly game for the Brits.

In the end a British victory, but a costly one with 17 killed, against only 1 Raider. If this had been a campaign game it would have been a disaster, although I probably would have played it differently. Also in future I think I will put a compound round the watchtower itself and use that as the safe area, as there was a terrible logjam trying to get my troops through the tower door, which in the end is what caused most of the British casualties.
A good refresher of the rules, and an interesting game where the emphasis was on evasion and running rather than just fighting all the time.
Not a great omen for our impending campaign, and with only two British kingdoms, but 2 saxon, 2 pict and 2 Scotti players I reckon my kingdom (Strathclyde) is in for some trying times, but that also means I will get to play in a lot of games.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Legions of Battle

Crusader publishing recently had a bit of a sale so Dave and I both picked up a copy of their fantasy rules, Legions of Battle.  These are based on the Crusader rules, but have been even more streamlined and the turn sequence has been tweaked slightly.

There are also no army lists in the book, but a system to work out profiles and then assign them a points value.  The stat line is a fairly standard affair consisting of Combat Skill, Missile Skill, Might, Protection, Wounds etc etc.  You assign your profile to each stand, which is roughly a 40mm square and put the stands together to make units, with a unit being 4 or 6 stands.    This unit then operates as one entity until such time as they run out of wounds (wounds per stand multiplied by the number of stands) or you fail a morale test after coming of worse in close combat.  It was all pretty standard stuff and had a very Warhammery (is that a word?) feel to it, but perhaps being a bit faster to play.

Using the example profiles in the back of the book I knocked up two army lists. One for Dave’s chaos warriors and one for my Orcs and Goblins. These are both Warhammer Fantasy armies so I tried to match the profiles as closely as possible to their Warhammer equivalents.  Two army lists were put together for out trial game, leaving out all magic for our first outing so we could get an idea on what the core rules would be like.  In the end our armies ended up being 8000points each.

I ended up fielding:
2 units of Orcs (6 bases each)
1 unit of Goblins (6 bases)
1 unit of 6 Trolls
1 Orc Chariot
2 Goblin Bolt Thrower
1 Unit of Wolf Rider (4 bases)
1 Orc Hero
1 Goblin Hero.

Dave Fielded:
2 Units if Chaos warriors (4 bases)
1 Unit of Chaos Knights (4 bases)
1 Unit of Beastment (6 Bases)
1 unit of Marauders (6 Bases)
1 Unit of Chaos Hounds (4 bases)
1 Unit of Marauder Horse (4 bases)

We opted for a pitched battle and lined up our forces agains each other. Dave line up across the board with his heaviest troops in the centre and light troops on the flanks, and I did much the same apart from putting my 2 bolt throwers on a hill on my right flank

We got off to a quick start, with Dave charging my trolls with his Marauder Horse and Chaos Hounds. I in turn piled in with my Goblins and Wolf Riders, making for a very large combat on my right flank. Dave came off worse in this large melee and had to make break tests for his troops. In Legions of Battle the winner of any combat gets to test against their opponents T&L rating, adding the amount that he won the combat by to the scores. If he beats his opponents T&L rating then the units he is rolling for is routed and leaves the table.  Pretty brutal.  In the end both of Dave’s units failed their tests and were removed from the table.

Turn two and the two battle lines advanced towards each other. There was not a great deal of space available so not too much fancy stuff going on, as the two lines tried ot get into combat.  Dave’s chaos Knight charged into my Boar Riders, who counter charged but in the ensuing combat I received a lot of casualties while inflicting none in return and predictably Dave managed to roll higher than their T&L score causing the whole unit to flee the field.

Turn three and the two lines finally clashed, with Dave charging everything into combat, leaving the entirety of both sides engaged, with eth exception of my wolfriders.  In the ensuing combat Dave’s troops proved to just be to tough for my orcs and all of the combats were very one sided, with the exception of the Trolls, who managed to hold their ground. Every unit in eth Orc army was totally outclassed, pretty much wiping me clean of the board in own turn of combat.  Not a great result.

In the post game pondering we decided on a few things:
You need a big table as ther is no real advantage to deploying deep when you can get more attacks for going wide.
Combat resolution is a little bit to brutal.
The movement rates given to the troops on both sides were too high
The Combat Skill stat is too powerful. In a lot of cases Dave was hitting me on 2’s due to having a higher CS and the +1 to hit for charging, while I was hitting on 5’s or 4’s.
There is no explanation in the rulebook as to how a counter charge would work.

Our reaction to the game was muted. It felt a lot like Warhammer, but even simpler so if the game feels like Warhammer then why not just play Warhammer? WHFB is going to go the way of the Dodo very soon so I hope there will be some sort of community driven take up of the rules, in the same style of Epic. I think the game would better for not being used as a mechanism to drive sales of model soldiers. 
As for Legions of Battle?
We said we woiuld give it another try at some point in the future, but I suspect we will be in no hurry to do so.  We have decided to give Kings of War a try next to see that that is like.