Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Linden Way the "Mass Battle"

One of my design goals with Warrior Heroes Armies and Adventures (hereafter WHAA) was to allow players to easily handle games with just handful of figures up hundreds of figures per side. In aid of this WHAA includes a section on "Mass Battles".

The primary concept of the mass battle rules is "the body". A body is any number of friendly figures in base to base contact with one another and can be as small as one figure or as many as your entire force. This gives players endless control over the composition of their maneuver units but at some cost. Want a unit that counts as having  shields, AND two handed weapons? Go ahead and make sure that body has half the figures carrying shields and half carrying two handed weapons. The drawback is that over the course of the game bodies end up losing figures through combat and reaction. Sooner or later the example unit above would have more of one type of figure than the other and count only as the majority type. Of course you can fix this by splitting forces of from that body to form new ones and so on.

The primary advantage of bodies in terms of game mechanics is a reduction in the number of dice rolls needed to resolve combat. For example in the first Linden Way game, the combat in the village often required seven or eight opposed rolls of 5-6 dice each to resolve. Not really a problem with that small a game but imagine the tedium imposed by a fight featuring twenty combatants on a side. As will be seen in the following photo report, using the mass battle rules the combats in the village were decided by a single opposed roll each player turn even though the same number of figures were engaged in both this and the previous game.

Now this scenario is a wee bit small for trotting out the mass battle rules but it did play lightening fast. The whole game took an hour (well 10:42 to 11:40 based on the photo time stamps) and that included taking photos and making notes for this write up.

Once again I take on the role of Magyar Ironfist. My plan was orc standard simple of forming one massive body and charging up the middle until my superior numbers told.

Mayor Leofwine and the militia pole arms formed one enemy body, the five archers in the tower another body, and the mad Illusionist a third body all by himself. I left out the refugees this time as I was more interested in a straight up assault with fewer role play elements. As before the game system controlled all human actions and any orc actions not directly commanded by Magyar.

Here then are the photos with descriptive text beneath. All photos here were taken from a fixed point and as it is a bit dark out today, were taken with a flash.

Turn one, the orcs advance as one body onto the table. Only the leader, shaman, and archers appear at start.

Arrows rain down from the watchtower. One orc is killed and and four more flee, leaving the orcs in three bodies. One human archer is killed in return.

Turn two. The remnants of the orc archers spread out and make for the high ground while the main body arrives o the field.  The militia advance to the hedges while the illusionist retires. There is more bow fire but it has minimal effect.

Turn three. The orcs approach the hedge row and the militia counter charge. One orc and two militiamen die in the fighting and two more orcs rout.

Turn four. Fighting continues and two orc and four militiamen die in the melee. Four more orcs rout. This is getting embarrassing. Meanwhile the human archers kill two more orc archers.

Turn Five. The orc shaman tries to cast a spell and suffers backlash. He was stunned for the rest of the game. Meanwhile two more orcs and two more militiamen die in the melee. Three more orcs flee the field.

Turn Six. The illusionist decides to see what is happening and moves closer to the action. The melee claims one orc and one militiaman killed and another orc run off. The human archers kill another orc warrior at the back of the scrum. 

Turn Seven. The tide turns and the miltia are finally forced back from the hedge. One orc and three militiamen are killed. Mayor Leofwine is left to face the orc horde alone.

Turn Eight. A strange lull ensues as no one was able to activate. The mayor stares death in the face and does not flinch.

Turn Nine. The mayor is overwhelmed taking one orc down with him. My boys seem to be done routing now which is good for me as they were getting kind of thin o the ground.

Turns ten and eleven. The victorious orcs advance. Arrows take out Magyar himself and one other warrior. The Illusionist is overwhelmed and slain.

Turn twelve. It's all over as the orcs storm the watchtower without loss.

Final losses were humans, 20 militia, the mayor, and the illusionist. The orcs lost Magyar and 13 killed or seriously injured and fourteen missing presumed cowardly.

Quite a different result from the first game but in truth I cannot figure out how I got off so lightly the  first time. This is closer to how I had expected that battle to go.

The mass battle rules speed things up considerably over the skirmish game although this is so small a game that such isn't neccesarily desirable. Still they work as I had intended they would so all's well in that department.

Now to figure out how to lay out the table for the grand campaign...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Raid on Linden Way

As previously posted this was a test game to see if my conversion of Blood Bath at Orc's Drift to Warrior Heroes Armies and Adventures was sound.

In this game I took on the role of Magyar Ironfist, leader of the Kwae Karr, and the game system ran everyone one else.

The following is a photo report of the Kwae Karr Orc's raid on Linden Way. I painted all of these figures, save one, way back in the 80's so pardon the quality, and enjoy the trip down memory lane : ) Remember you may enlarge a photo by left mouse clicking on it and often may enlarge it again by repeating that action on the enlarged photo.

Dawn at Linden Way. Mayor Leofwine has drawn up the militia and the civilians prepare to evacuate.

Magyar and the orc skirmishers approach.

The crazed Illusionist is disturbed by this!

The approach.

The Illusionist gets frenzied and charges to his doom!

Mayor Leofwine implores the militia to patience.

The archers in the watch tower take the orcs under fire.

The orc main body arrives.

And advances.

Orc skirmishers reach the hedgerow.

Magyar leads the charge into the village.

Mayor Leofwine urges his men to fight for all that is good and holy.

The melee begins as the refugees exit stage right....

...and hope for the best.

The militia's assault is hard fought.

And drives the orcs back out of the village.

Magyar holds the roadway while exhorting his orcs to redouble their efforts.

Other orcs have broken through the hedge row and carry the fight  to the humans.

Magyar does a tolerable impression of berserker rage...

...slaying Mayor Leofwine and three of his men.

The green tide rush into the village.

Some of the orcs have broken off the assault to pursue the refugees. 

The refugees suffer under a rain of arrows.

Situation mid game.

The militia fight valiantly...

...but the greenskins will not be denied.

Slowly the orcs get the upper hand.

The defenders are getting thin on the gound.

Most of the refugees have fled, only three remain, one too wounded to move on his own.

The pursuit is close as more arrows take their toll.

In the village there are no longer enough militia to form an unbroken line.

The militia is pushed back while some poor fellow is trapped as the orcs advance past him.

The few remaining militiamen are surrounded.

And slain.

In the watch tower only one man remains unwounded. The last defender of Linden Way.

Undaunted he lets fly at the orcs massed in the town.

The hail of orc arrows is too much and the  last human falls.
And so it came to pass. Despite the militia having put up a really good show of it, the  final losses were disproportionately in favor of the orcs. Twenty militiamen, Mayor Leofwine, and two two refugees were slain for a loss of five orcs killed and another three wounded.

Now of course the militia losses were only so high because under the scenario rules they would never rout. Still the lack of orc casualties is a bit surprising. In Warrior Heroes Armies and Adventures (WHAA) a miltiiaman, here Rep 4) armed with a pole arm, is the equal of a Rep 4 orc armed with a sword. However the orcs did benefit from carrying shields while the militia had to do without.

Luck certainly played a role here though, as the human archers should have fared better than the orc archers on the ground, due to the cover provided by the tower. However time and again the humans fell while the orcs shrugged off a hit. Strange but then there is no accounting for fate.

As far as the conversion to WHAA goes, I am well satisfied with the result and look forward to working out the details of the larger game.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures and thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Orc's Drift in a Day

Way back in the 1980's Games Workshop released a series of campaign modules for Warhammer. Each set had card buildings and a series of linked games, usually three primary games and final battle.  

Fast forward to the early 2000's. When asked to develop Warrior Heroes, Armies and Adventures I always had it in mind to play these campaign games using the THW rules.

Now it is 2012 and I am finally getting around to doing so.

My intention is to play each campaign as single "mega" game, with all the battles taking place on an 8' x 4' table. That means that any individual scenario will only have a 2 foot square or so area on which to unfold.

Could be a tight fit but with the first campaign on the list, "Blood Bath at Orc's Drift" this should work. Each of the four games essentially consist of an orc attack on a smaller group of humans, elves, and/or dwarves in a defensive position. Given Warrior Heroes Armies and Adventures' (hereafter WHAA) mechanics, the close in nature of these battles should not prove troublesome.

As the orcs are on the common thread through the four scenarios, I will be taking on the role of King F'yar. The game system will handle the opposition.

Now the first question in any such undertaking is just how does one convert characters from one game system into another? Javier over at Javier at War ran a fine series of games using this same campaign set and those so inclined are encouraged to pop over there for a read. Just click the bit where it says "Javier at War" above.

For my part a bit of experimentation is in order. Things to consider are:
1. Carrying figures over by type.
2. Using some arcane formula for War Hammer stats as a basis for WHAA Rep.
3. Just winging it.

While I favor option 1 for most games this time I am going after a combo of all three! 

The battle of Linden Way will be used as test game for this method. The game pits an invasion force of some 40 orcs against 20 militia and some fleeing townsfolk.
The Residents and Defenders
 When using the term "militia" in a THW title, I would normally go with Rep 3. However the Warhammer stats for Linden Way's defenders seem no different than those for any human men at arms, so they shall be deemed Rep 4.

The Militia leader, Mayor Leofwine rates somewhere between the militia he leads and Magyar Ironfist, the leader of the orcs in this battle. I am inclined to rate him as Rep 4 as well, with the addition of a Hardiness rating to possibly offset any wounds incurred. Say Hardiness 2.

A scenario special rule has the militia so dedicated to protecting their loved ones that they are "not subject to the rules concerning rout". While WHAA has no morale tests per se, the Reaction test certainly fold in many elements of traditional morale tests. So here in a bit of a compromise, the militia must take Reaction tests but will not "Run Away", ignoring any such result.

The Kwae KarrTribe of King F'Yar
The orc rank and file also rate a Rep 4, although being on larger bases than the humans they will have a slight advantage in combat as per WHAA.

Their leader, Magyar Ironfist is Rep 5 with Hardiness 3.

Finally Bagrash the Shaman is Rep 4, Hardiness 3.

So with the forces established, next time we will see how the test game turns out.

Thanks for stopping by!