Sunday 25 November 2012

Ruination - Empire vs Orcses

Another game of WHFB on the cards and with the general success of the last couple of games using scenario's as the basis, we had decided for this week's game to follow ion that vane and play another scenario.

Ian had suggested playing the 'Ruination of Glumhof' scenario from the WHFB rule book with the scenario being a good one to try, and one which would be fun to try reversing the roles of attackers and defenders, so the game was duly set up with this time the traditional Empire defending against the Orc hordes, (next time the Orcs defending and Empire hordes attacking).

The hordes line up prior to attack
The scenario is pretty straight forward one, the defender gets 75% of the points of the attacker and tries to defend the settlement where he gets a number of buildings to defend including a 'strong point' in the form of a watchtower and a number of barricades and walls to defend behind. The attackers aim is to occupy or destroy as many of the buildings as possible (the watchtower counting double) in the time allowed, stated in the rules as 7 turns. Who ever has the most buildings occupied or controlled at the end of time allowed wins.

The horde closes for the kill
Ian had gone for a pretty 'horded up' horde so lots of numbers totaling 2400pts and I had hoped that his numbers might impede his progress slightly, units getting in the way of each other, which they did a bit. My 1800pt army list was probably a bit too shooty but I had gone for a bit of an army list experiment having only core troops plus artillery and warrior priest to see how the list played as a bit of fun.

As a list in it's self it was fine but probably not the list for the scenario as the forward position of much of the troops meant they really didn't have enough time to cause casualties on the approaching horde to make a difference.

As it was Ian had also experimented a bit with his list and was using two units of squig hoppers as cannon killers and these two units launched themselves at my two great cannons with 50% success rate easily taking out one in short order but the other got a severe bloody nose and was repulsed. It did eventually re-appear to annoy me later as alone squig.

The game then boiled down to the horde advancing and pouring over the less well defended of the sections of the town defences and the Empire troops causing casualties on the way but not nearly enough or in the right places.

The squigs did get their comeuppance getiing cut down by a hail of fire near the end of the game. 

In the end, the game was over by the end of round 4 as we ran out of time, but with the orcs in possession of 4 of the available 5 points a definite victory. Even if we had had more time the numbers in play meant that even though the larger part of my army was largely un-hurt, I was not in position to dislodge the orcses from their new homes.

A poor deployment on my part to start and with nothing tough enough to stand up to the rampaging large Orc numbers for more than a turn meant the Empire had another poor result, though it had to be said was largely still intact at the end of the game, which is for me is a result. 

Another interesting a pretty enjoyable game with the vision of a unit of six trolls being air-lifted by the Hand of Gork behind the Empire lines to seal the victory (and incidentily avoid the combat with 30 hate-ridden halberdiers with a Warrior Priest aflame) was a quite memorable mental image.

A fair enough scenario in the grand tradition of such things and all in all fun, the only quibble being that both Ian and I thought that the extended 7 turns timescale didn't make sense was by far too generous for the outnumbering attacker, and very likely not needed by just about any Warhammer force (except possibly Dwarves) with a more interesting 5 turns limit probably producing a more nail biting game.

Next time, we'll try a reversal of the attacker/defender and see how the troops fair, though I think the Orc Toughness 4 might make them a bit more of a tougher defending proposition than the Empire are. Should be entertaining in any event.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Warmachine Civil War

Another weekly game and this week it was back to Warmachine and a bit of practice and getting to know the rules a bit more.

With the planned Marignano refight being put to bed last week, Dave K and myself were looking for something with a difference from last week and Dave plumped for Warmachine to try out his newly purchased rule set to go with his pretty new Khador forces, which suggestion I was happy to go along with.

A fairly small skirmish at 30pts each, we decided to go for a random scenario from the rule book, with the 'throw down' scenario duly being rolled. Basically a battle to control two zones in the centre of the battlefield, the first player to control both zones at the end of his turn after the third turn minimum, wins. 

The game was as is common a game of two halves, the two halves being one; the half that Dave struggled to throw above three on as many dice and two; the half he did manage to throw above three (a bit).

With two zones to go for and two players the inevitable happened and Dave got control of one zone on my right flank, and I got control of the zone on the left, pretty much simultaneously  Each of us going for the left first, with our centres being a bit cagey.

With the forces pretty equal (both Khador) but different in make-up and commanders numbers were beginning to pay off with Dave's loss of one unit of 5 Men O War and his second unit down by half in the centre to my loss of a unit of 3 Men O War and a Berserker Warjack we had to call it a day due to running out of time with equal honours and similar points on the table. Though it looked to be moving in my favour as Dave's centre was about to be beset by all of my forces before his left could do much about it which would mean that I could move on to his Warjacks and Warcaster if time allowed though undoubtedly I would loose some casualties in the process.

Another enjoyable game but more of another learning experience where we both picked up some more pointers. Certainly the more I play the game the more I like the rules ethos and tactical possiblities as a game. As is usual in these types of SciFant games the percentage of looses of a force are very high even for the winner, but mayhem and slaughter even in a small isolated skirmish is very much the order of the day for the genre.

Look forward to some more practice on this one. 

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Marignano Trial Refight

Everyone out there in bloggy-land loves a good campaign. I am one of that number for certain and have taken part in several over the years and enjoyed taking part in them all.

One thing that puts many people off campaigns is the fact that they often run out of steam and many do not get to a conclusion, satisfactory or otherwise. One campaign that I have been involved in with friend Dave Knight was a mini-campaign based around the battle of Marignano in 1515 and the events leading up to this famous conflict, and Dave and myself started this campaign about five years ago and for one reason or another the campaign did the fizzle just before getting the final event played. Before you know it a couple of years have passed and beyond the 'we must get that game played to finish the campaign', it just hadn't happened.

So, after talking about other campaigns, Dave suggested to get the battle played, if only for rounding off the series and for a sense of 'completeness', and this was duly agreed to.

The campaign had been played out using a multitude of rules; WRG 2nd Edition Renaissance, Tercio, Bad War and the skirmish set 'Sword & Pistol' and all these had produced a fun game for the various scenario's leading up to the final match. With the current favourite at the club being Impetus, we decided to go with that rule set for battle refight.

A trial game was decided upon to test out the deployment and ruleset before the final conclusion. Our army lists were drawn up and the amendments from the previous scenario's dragged out of the depths and battle lines drawn for the pretty simple battlefield layout. 

As a tester for the battle I was pretty up for the event and was keen to try out the tactics employed by the French on the day with light cavalry out front to delay the Swiss pike blocks and give me more time to fire the artillery, crossbow etc and soften them up before the inivitable clash, and to see how the troops fared in a pretty French type 'en avant' style showing lot's of elan and perhaps foolhardiness which I could then temper this strategy for the main event next week, possibly altering the troop types and strategy based on the results.

Pretty quickly we noticed a few issues with the rules, the main one being the range of the artillery was only 30U or about 2', I also discovered that my archer cavalry under Impetus is very un-manoeuvrable and they're attempt at delaying the pike blocks an almost impossible task but the skirmish screen of crossbow and mounted arquebus did work quite well. The up shot was the heavier archer cavalry got cut to bits and shot to hell with only a couple of minor casualties inflicted in return but the lighter troops inflicted a greater degree of damage while avoiding contact. What was successful was the break up of the Swiss advance to the pikes arrived in a piecemeal fashion, though I paid a hefty 6 Victory Point price (for the loss of the archer cavalry) to do it.

As the Swiss got closer Dave picked up speed with his pike blocks (managing to get the initiative every move until contact) and allowed only one real attack on the pike blocks from the artillery and crossbow units before the crunch.

The general melle over the ditch ensued with a glimmer of hope at first for the French with the centre and right melees at first going the French way but this was just a tantalising 'what might be' before it was cruelly taken away and the Swiss surged forward and pushed back the Landsknecht and Gascon Pike (though the Gascns lasted a lot longer than expected). With a couple of pretty hefty prolonged combats the back was broken of the Fench line and pushed the army over it's break point and thus a victory for the Swiss.

We did make a few mistake's while playing, forgetting about the zone of control a couple of times resulting in some easy kills for the Swiss against artillery and crossbow, and the effect of difficult terrain (the ditch) on the Pike Blocks dice but I don't think there would have been much difference in the result if we had remembered.

We both felt a bit disappointed after the trial game and felt the Impetus rules didn't really give a good renaissance feel to the event, and decided to call that the final match in the campaign rather than revisit what was a bit of a flat experience gaming wise next week.

I feel the problem is that I the rules dictated the flow of the game. I like to play a game where you feel there is a narrative with points in it which tell a story of the event and get the imagination going. Impetus is too intrusive a game system to let you do that. Great rules for having a game and doing this fairly quickly but more of a feel of monopoly rather than re-fighting a moment of history on the table top.

It could be that we both didn't know the rules sufficiently well that the fluidity of playing would allow the narrative of what transpired on the table top to come to the fore, but I'm guessing that this is not the case and the mechanics are too abstract to allow that kind of interaction.

Oh well, a campaign completed at least, so a +1 for tidiness and back to the drawing board for finding a rule set we like for the Italian Wars - so far my favourite 'feel' wise is Bad War even though it's torture to decifer, but definitely gives a good story.

Monday 5 November 2012

LotR Impetus Style

Earlier last week I took part in an experimental game of Impetus Fantasticus, using the LotR mods from the Impetus forum, with the game organised by Kev and with myself, Andy, Ian and Dax as the guinea pigs and Kev umpiring the event.

A pretty quick game all in all even though the there was four players (two commanders a side) and each taking it in turn to play.

The game was very much a trial of the rules and mods as Kev had a few reservations on the suggested stat lines for the various racial troops being, as a whole too good.

The game was quite fun all in all, even though my command was annihilated, mainly due to consistently atrocious dice on my part and losing the game for the bad guys in the process.

The consensus at the end was pretty much unanimous. Good game, but too many special rules (for almost every troop type) and everything a bit too powerful.

Kev is now way planning changes to the rules and unit stats to find a happy medium probably using the Impetus game mechanics but using a more LotR turn structure. All good stuff and the way I think all gaming should be, if you don't like the rules, change 'em to what you like playing. All very 'old skool' methodology. I look forward to next bash where Kev has promised a big game round the relief of Helms Deep to trial the ammendments. Should be fun.
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