Wednesday, 4 November 2009

International exposure

The internet is an interesting place, and sometimes you forget just how much smaller it makes the world.

And then you look at the google analytics on the blog, and you find this site linking to your blog.

So there's people (wargamers) in Russia reading the blog and apparantly taking an interest. This made me dig a little bit deeper.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Crisis 2009 Demo

Alright, I received confirmation that we have a table at Crisis 2009 in Antwerp to run our This One's Split demo. So now it's full on getting things ready for November 7th.

Things to do:
* Complete scenario
* Playtest scenario & rules finalizations
* Prepare commander handouts
* Update card set
* Update QR sheets

* Paint miniatures (orc skirmishers, behemoths)
* Make new/additional promo posters

Unfortunately the goal I had set myself - getting the rules finished by Crisis - is nowhere near happening. I'll have to re-evaluate the situation there, gonna be a good few months still. Most of that time will be spent on refining text and rewriting it into the full-on book.

Cartful of Gold - Missing Photo

Now here's the photo Dick demanded I take. It's his flyer hero - basically a lunatic dwarf strapped to a glider - diving at my commander, trying to kill him.

It went almost entirely to plan. A moment after this shot, Krassush got knocked clear off his seat, face first into the mud. However he was lucky enough to get clear without a scratch, watching the flyer zoom past as he got to his feet.


Growling annoyedly, he set Wuff loose, the hellhound eagerly bounding after the kite, catching it in a flying leap just as it struggled to pull up away from the ground. Instants later, there was little left but a bloody mess of wood, cloth, string and dwarf.

Monday, 19 October 2009

For a cartful of loot.... This One's Split Playtest

The last playtest session saw an orcish tribe throw themselves on the dwarven trading caravan, hoping for easy plunder. Unfortunately the dwarves take their trading dead serious, sending half of their army along with the yearly trade expedition where they trade gold, high quality metalwork and porc (Yes, porc. Don't ask me, I'm just the messenger) for goods such as spices, fabrics, wood and just about anything that can't be grown under a mountain.

The game went well, with real high and lows for both sides. We came across a fair few sections of the rules were some clarifications would be helpful, and these have since been added. Overall the balance with e.g. giants seems better now, and the order system seemed to do it's job just fine. Also, the recommended number of units per command seems to give the right kind of flavour for both the orc and dwarf armies.

Below picture shows the starting deployment, with the dwarves deployed behind a gully, with an impromptu barricade blocking off the open field in the middle. The orcs deployed across the width of the table, with 2 commands on march column on their far left.


The remainder of this report is written from the glorious point of view of his greatness tribe leader Krassush of the most powerful orc tribe ever. It is an entirely biased report - just because I can.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Feudal humans, army lists and some small tweaks

As I have been slightly busy re-enacting, I only got around to working on the rules again today.

The army lists have been enhanced with a description of the army structure, including the number of heroes and mages that may typically be included.

I've also added the feudal humans army list, with the renaissance humans to follow soon (I hope).

Some minor tweaks have been made, in particular to the mechanism for infantry fighting cavalry (attacking infantry no longer have to charge into certain death vs counter charging cavalry)

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Playtest: Feudal humans versus Undead

We held another playtest today, with Michel's feudal humans versus his Undead.

The feudal humans were loosely based on english medieval troops, with generous amounts of heavy cavalry, archers and spear armed infantry. They had some pretty good troops and good commanders even if a bit rash - giving the overall commander some grey hairs in keeping them from going on the attack at unwanted moments.

The undead had a large horde of skeletons, some giant skeletons and a brigade of cavalry, a chariot and a skeletal dinosaur monster.


Monday, 28 September 2009

Single colour vector graphics

The previous attempt at vector grqaphics results in some pretty chunky files (lots of vectors to render), and I'm worried it will cause issues in the combined book. I've tried something simpler now, with just the outline filled in in black. I think it will work just as well, and potentially distract less from the message I'd be trying to get across.

I'm also not sure whether I want to give them more of a mob-like appearance by rotating them by increments, as in the other picture.


Friday, 25 September 2009

Vector graphics of units

I've been playing around with my photo camera and inkscape for a bit, working out how I want to make the diagrams for the illustrations.

Even though I do want to include some wargame porn colour shots, I don't think they are the way to go for the regular illustrations. But just blank rectangles gets boring too.

So, I figured I'd use vector graphics for the 'men' on the bases. I went tand took some nice high-contrast shots looking down on individual figures, hiked up the contrast still further, and vectorified them using Inkscape.

The result lends itself to easy modification and tuning, and I created the below 'unit' using just one of the pictures, copying it and tweaking the angles to create a nicely random orc mob.

Feedback on whether you like this approach, and comments on how to improve would be appreciated.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Added definition of orders

I spent some time this week jotting down the definition of the various orders that can be given to a commander. I've chosen to differentiate between:
* Attack
* Defend
* Support
* Maneuver
* Reserve

Each of these orders will have an impact on the options available to that commander. The overall text is much more extensive, I have included only a summary below.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Playtest - Orcs: Their own worst enemy

We had another play-test yesterday, with Farid and Michel playing Orcs and Plains Elves respectively. I wanted to test some specific aspects:

* Monsters
* Flyers
* Is it possible to fight a delaying action


Friday, 18 September 2009

Monsters in the making!

Tomorrow we'll be having another playtest session. I still have to decide what I want Farid and Dick to have a go at.

However, in preparation for that I added the rules for Single Large Monsters - big creatures that are not part of a unit. For a bit of an appetizer I'll post a few bits of text below.

My thoughts and intentions are:
* Monsters should be able to fight regular units, they are big enough for that. They should not be all-powerful, though.
* Monsters should however be vulnerable to enterprizing bands of heroes - even though the heroes would have to take a big chance.
* I do not want to add entirely new combat mechanisms, instead I want to tie them in with the existing ones.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Wiki updated, pdf download works again

As some of you know I am using a wiki to write the rules, and share them for playtesting/feedback.

About 2 months ago, a standard software update caused the collection extension to fail. Why is this important? Because that is the software that lets me create a pdf book from the wiki, enabling off-line access to the rules.

After a long struggle without any result, I decided to bite the bullet. I backed up all data, and did an upgrade of the mediawiki software to 1.1.15, and spent a few hours fiddling with settings. The upshot of this being:

PDF download of the rules from the wiki once again works

Monday, 14 September 2009

Playtest after long absence, rules for flying troops and monsters

It's been a long while since my last update, mainly because I have been very busy with:
  • Work & business travel

  • Holiday

  • (Napoleonic) Re-enactment

Last Sunday however the good cause got picked up again. I playtested some new rules for flyers and individual monsters with Dick Bax, and am now working on writing up the actual rules. Some highlights:

  • Additional rules for using flying troops

  • Flying troops can either be classed as flyer or hoverer

  • Flying troops can be at different altitudes

  • Close order troops cannot fly

  • Heavy armour troops can only fly in extraordinary circumstances (munchkin alert!)

  • Possible interaction with ground troops depends on altitude band

With the first draft of the flyers rules has been written, next action items are:
  • Large single monsters: Single monsters strong enough to individually engage units (e.g. dragons, really large giants etc). Single monsters can be effectively engaged by (groups of) heroes

  • Undead: Basically troops that need mages to control them and never test for morale

  • Terrain: Some further definition of terrain classifications

  • Evading: Refine text for evading

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Action 2009 Demo

Well, it's been a (very very busy) week, and I finally have a bit of time to sit down and write the report on Action 2009 and our demo there.

Unfortunately I did not grab the opportunity to go out and take pictures of some of the excellent other demos there. I am in particular looking forward to seeing the ace Nosferatu demo that will be completely finished for Crisis in Antwerp. I WILL take pictures in Antwerp.

The event was a lot quieter than in previous times I had been attending. It is very obvious that the amount of UK troops deployed to Germany has dropped a great deal; it was new for me to run into more Germans and Dutch than English, at Action Rheindahlen.

Trader selection was fair, but not much to tempt my wallet this time. I did splurge on paint though, should have most of the deficiencies in my stock sorted again.

As for our own games, we got a fair amount of interest - but primarily in the miniatures and painting, not quite as much in the rules themselves. I think we must have created some name recognition though, as the plates were hard to miss:

Sunday, 3 May 2009

I'll be posting a further report from our demo at Action 2009 lateron. For now here's just a quick copy of the posters I used to put on the promo board - A2 this time, I'm looking at A1 or A0 next time.

I'll be re-evaluating what to put on them text-wise. But I'm quite happy with the graphics as they stand, got lots of nice feedback on it too.

First, I'll be off to bed though.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Action 2009: T-1 days

I've been quite busy the last couple of days. Good news is I'm nearly
ready for the demo game tomorrow:

- Cards are all done
- Quick Ref sheets are all done (Thanks for the help, Lorne!)
- Built my whopping big promo board (2x 1.20x60cm), and it's actually stable and holding together ;)
- Just got back from the copy shop with oodles of copies to go onto the promo board
- Army List Dwarves is done

- Still need to do: Army List Orcs, Army List Elves (Plains + Mountain)

This means I might get some sleep tonight ;)

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

This One Split Card Deck (Orc)

During last weekend's playtest I tried out the cards I made for the command and control system. It seemed to work nicely, but the legibility from any kind of distance needs to be improved.

Here's an example:


This One Split Playtest: Here There Be Giants

Another day, another playtest. This time Farid volunteered to join in, playing with my plains elves (but pretending they were dark elves, hence dark magic). Farid had not been exposed to the rules before, so to me this served as a basic test on how we were doing.

I fielded my orcs again, this time enhanced with the giant I had just finished painting.

Orc Army: Grumbuz's Tribe
With Aznar's faillure, the challenge of breaking through into the elven plains fell to Grumbuz again. Why this was so important he did not know, but the emissary had been very clear on the importance and the dire consequences of failure.

However, luck was on Grumbuz's side today. Not only had the blood moon risen, furthermore his ranks had been bolstered by a small band of giants - the promise of revenge on menfolk and those vile elves enough to convince the elder brutes to join in.


Certain of the upcoming glory, Grumbuz's plan was a simple one. On his left flank he would have Blogsok - another recent addition to his forces, the day must be glorious indeed - with strict orders to protect the flank and not attack of his own initiative.

The right flank, along the river, would be Magrott's task, with the giants fighting amidsts his troops. Their task was to push forward and protect the right flank of the army.

In the center he had Ragnok's tribe, with Akz's ogres in support. They were to break through the thin elven line, with both flanks secured it should be easy enough.

Now all they needed to know WHERE those pesky elves were. They had been under observation by their scouts for days, but so far he had yet to see more than a shadow.

Grumbuzz's tribe:

Grumbuzz Chief: Solid, Inspirational, Staunch, Rash

Addertongue shaman: Junior dark mage (Dav), Capacity 16, Staunch. Spells: Despair, Weakness, Confusion

Thwok hero: Poor, Liked, Slayer of All, Hard to Kill, Initiative II (Enthusiastic)

Magrott Chief: Able/Bold, Inspirational, Staunch, Hard to Kill

Bruisers: OO HI B, two-handed weapons, 10, Shock
Bruisers: OO HI B, two-handed weapons, 10, Shock
Heavy Spears: OO HI B, two-handed weapons, 10
Heavy Spears: OO HI C, two-handed weapons, 10
Light spears: OO MI C, spear shield, 10
Mob: OO LI D, spear shield, 10
Mob: OO LI D, spear shield, 10
Skirmishing younglings: SO LI D, inferior bow, 7
Skirmishing younglings: SO LI E, inferior bow, 7
Skirmishing younglings: SO LI E, inferior bow, 7

Ragnok's tribe:

Ragnok chief: Solid/Thick, Liked, Staunch, Rash, 2x Hard to Kill

Bruisers: OO HI B, two-handed weapons, 10, Shock
Giant: Large Giant B, Heavy Armour, Shield, 10, Shock, Terror
Heavy spears: OO HI B, Spear and shield, 10
Heavy spears: OO HI C, Spear and shield, 10
Heavy spears: OO HI B, Spear and shield, 10
Light spears: OO MI C, spear shield, 10
Light spears: OO MI D, spear shield, 10
Mob: OO LI C, spear shield, 10
Mob: OO LI D, spear shield, 10
Skirmishing younglings: SO LI D, inferior bow, 7
Skirmishing younglings: SO LI E, inferior bow, 7
Skirmishing younglings: SO LI E, inferior bow, 7

Blogsok's Wolfriders:

Blogsok chief: Atrocious, Liked, Staunch

Wolfriders: OO HC C, Handweapons and shields, Carnivorous mounts
Wolfriders: OO HC C, Handweapons and shields, Carnivorous mounts
Wolfriders: OO HC C, Handweapons and shields, Carnivorous mounts
Wolfriders: OO HC D, Handweapons and shields, Carnivorous mounts

Akz's Ogres:

Akz Chief: Able/Bold, Inspirational, Slayer of All, Hard to Kill

Ogres: Light Giants B, two-handers, 10
Ogres: Light Giants C, two-handers, 10

Grrr Hero: Poor, Liked, Staunch

Akz: Slain by a pesky elven hero
Akz's ogres: Serious casualties from elven bows
Magrott: Severely wounded by the same pesky elven hero
Magrott's tribe: All the best troops bled to death in the stream
Ragnok's tribe: A few units lost, otherwise minor
Blogsok's Wolfriders: no casualties.

Elven Army: Thanalis's Border Rangers

Apparantly we were facing the same elves that Aznar failed to defeat. We don't know what went on in their head, but have a pretty accurate list of their forces. Then again their mage seemed to be casting dark spells?

Thanalis Commander in Chief: Allegedly a poor commander
Insuldir Mage Master (schooled) Spells: Some dark spells?!

Erimor, East Rides mounted rangers:
* 2x Mounted Rangers: OO Light Cavalry B, spear, elven bow, strength 6
* 2x Centaurs: SO Light Cavalry C, bow, strength 5

Leinor, East Rides foot rangers:
* 3x Foot Rangers: OO Light Infantry B, spear, elven bow, strength 10
* 2x Skirmishers: SO Light Infantry C, elven bow, strength 7
* Hero Incelan

Veriborn, Lonely Hills foot rangers:
* 3x Foot Rangers: OO Light Infantry B, spear, elven bow, strength 10
* 2x Skirmishers: SO Light Infantry C, elven bow, strength 7
* Hero Caethin

Eilas, White Sun Pegasus Scouts:
* 3x Pegasus Scouts: SO Medium Cavalry B, shield, elven bow, strength 5

Vanuldir, Grove Cavalry
* 1x Noble Cavalry: OO Heavy Cavalry, B, lance, javelin, shield, strength 8
* Hero Avelion

Taluwya, Grove Cavalry
* 3x Unicorn riders: SO Light Cavalry C, elven bow, strength 5

* Vanuldir: Almost wiped out and routed along with his noble cavalry and the hero Avelion
* Eilas's pegasus scouts: Thrown back with losses, and one flight routed
* Erimor's mounted rangers: Thrown back with heavy losses

The Battle - Grumbuzz's perspective


Once again we could only see a scouts, and no sight of the elven army. Kicking Blogsok forward on the left flank (never seen a more useless leader!), I left Ragnok to deal with the right flank, with orders to use the woods for cover to advance close to the elven line.

In the center my tribe was advancing steadily, and Akz's ogres along with them. Roaring laughter rose when an elf strode across the stream, and called out a challenge to Akz. The fool did not seem to realise that Akz slew elf heroes for breakfast. Lazily trotting forward, Akz swung his axe, cleaving straight through the elf. Or rather, the space the elf occupied instants before, instead only lightly clipping the elf. In turn, the elf stabbed Akz once. We could not believe our eyes as Akz's tumbled, the elf coolly cleaning his blade on the ogre's trousers.

A setback, but nothing that could not be dealt with. On the left flank Blgsok had fallen still again, only to have a cloud of budgies (pegasus riders? - ed.) swoop down on them. The wolves seemed to be having a blast, teeth tearing out feathers and tails. Most amusing to see them scurry back into the distance, not to be seen again.


The right flank was starting to become a problem though. First of all, just as the archers approached the thick woods, the hostile mage did... Something. Something that caused the leaves to fall and the brush to shrivel and die. Blinking in surprise, the most forward younglings were cut down in a hail of elven arrows. So much for that plan.

More importantly still, some very bright looking elven heavy cavalry had advanced all along the river, supported by their rangers. If I did not act soon they would get behind Ragnok and cause all sorts of trouble. After personally instructing him to deal with the threat, I took charge of a unit of ogres and started to flog them forward again.

Addertongue reassured me he had things in hand though. He strode forward, and cast the magic of Despair on the leader of the elven cavalry. Soon, he promised, the leader would run away in tears.

Ragnok may be a bit thick, but from the looks of it Ragnok sure knew how to handle his troops. Leaving his skirmishers to cover the front, he pushed the remainder of his troops to the right, and through the water. It was a risky choice, as it would leave them disordered upon arrival on the hostile banks, and at risk to a strong charge by the hostile cavalry. Still, they outnumbered them vastly, and the giants would not be easily intimidated, he was sure of that.


I must get that idiot Addertongue flayed. No tears, from the elven leader. Instead, a single, lilting laugh seemed to shake off the entire magics that our shaman had ensorceled him with. Trumpets sound, and the elven cavcalry comes thundering forward. Met with an unswerving line of orc steel and spear, the cavalry is thrown back in some confusion, and we hold the right bank!

In the center, Magrott will not be outdone. Leading from the front, he sees an elf step out of the archery line, and skip across the river. The same one Akz fought against, probably. The challenge from the elf was still spilling from his lips, when Magrott charged forward, bold as ever. Blades flashed for what seemed like an eternity - until Magrott stumbled back to his lines, severly wounded, and leaving the elf triumphant. Again.

Still, Magrott had enough presence of mind left to urge his tribe forward, in one close block of orc anger. They charged down the hill, and fully expected the elf to skip back across the water even hastier than he had come. Instead, the flanking units watched in soem amazement as the elf stiid his ground, stopping the center in it's tracks, slaying a few orcs, and THEN skipping back to his lines. With a few more wounds for the effort, but nonetheless STILL alive. This disrupted the orc formation, and the wounded Magrott would never get them moving forward in any coordinated fashion, again.


On the right flank, things were going much better. Having stood their ground, Ragnok's orcs were pushing the elven heavy cavalry back, and the giants were wading through a thin cloud of fresh centaur blood. Soon, the heavy cavalry would root, very close to annihilation.


Sheer grit and determination from Magrott pushed the forward units of spears into the stream, to assault the archers on the far side. Already, the elf hero had cost them direly, spending more time within range of those blasted archers. Now, wading through the stream things got really close. If only he could get his spears in contact with the rangers facing them, he was sure they would break through. Unfortunately, the attack faltered within arm's reach of the opposing shore.


The orcs trapped in the stream were hastily being turned into living pincushions, arrows sticking out in all directions.


Too wounded to do much, Magrott could but watch as finally their morale faltered, his finest troops running back to preserve their hides. Grumbuzz tried to intervene, brining up a unit of ogres, but these too would arrive too late to make a difference. The attack in the center had failed dramatically, and the stream flowed red with orc blood.

On the right flank, the elven rangers would manage to break one unit of heavy spears, before they themselves were chased off by the giants and the remainder of Ragnok's orcs.


Overall, an elven victory. But an expensive one, with one regiment of their nobles left crumbled on the field. For Magrott, the price was heavier still, with the muscle of his tribe left dead or dying in a stream.

* Farid had a lot of fun, and seemed to pick up the overall intent of the rules quick enough. Success!
* The battle was interesting enough - by making use of the terrain the elves were able to hold, but only just. They were certainly not helped by their poor commander in chief
* Magic added flavour, but did not dominate
* Defensive shooting is probably too effective, as it is already a bonus round of shooting. Will be amended.
* Rules need to be amended to the effect that infantry cannot provide rear support to giants etc.
* Blogsok is a useless git.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Playtest: Orc raiders versus Plains Elf border rangers

This weekend saw another playtest at Murphy's Heroes, this time of my plains elves army versus my orc raiders. I played the elves, whereas Dick played the orcs.

Orc Army: Aznar's Tribe
Aznar had taken his fresh new alliance on a raid into Elven territory. Aznar had recently become the leader of his tribe. That made him the default leader of the local tribes, for now.
Being neither popular nor strong he had made his career up the leadership ladder by subterfuge and the occasional backstabbing (preferably in the dark). He would have to prove his strength to his men and the other tribes quickly or he would find himself on the wrong end of a pointy stick. Striking against the men would have been easier but he needed a big win to stay on top. So now they faced the Elven border guards.
Aznar laid out his plan. They would attack through the woods and thorny areas to negate the long ranging and stinging elvenbows. Aznar's and Ragnok's tribes would form the centre. Blogsok's wolfriders the left flank and Grrr's Ogres the right flank. Wozzot the shaman would provide a diversion on the left flank to keep the elves guessing about the plan. This plan was met with a well meant "Huhh?" by all concerned. The army then set off to teach those pesky elves a lesson still guessing about the plan and greatly diverted by the antics of Wozzot.

Aznar Chief: Able/Bold, Cold Fish, Staunch, Spoiling for a fight

Aznar's Bruisers: OO HI B, two-handed weapons, 10
Aznar's Bruisers: OO HI B, two-handed weapons, 10
Aznar's Bruisers: OO HI B, two-handed weapons, 10

Light spears: OO MI C, spear shield, 10
Light spears: OO MI C, spear shield, 10
Light spears: OO MI C, spear shield, 10

Skirmishing younglings: SO LI D, inferior bow, 7
Skirmishing younglings: SO LI D, inferior bow, 7
Skirmishing younglings: SO LI D, inferior bow, 7

Wozzot Shaman: Initiate spirit mage(d3), born leader, staunch, capacity 10,
3 spirit spells: Spirit Aid, Spirit Feet, Confusion

Knobrot Shaman: Incompentent spirit mage(d2), liked, Staunch, Capacity 10,
1 spirit spell: Spirit aid.

Noknok Hero: Solid/Thick, Born leader, staunch, meek, rash

Ragnok's tribe:

Ragnok chief: Able/Bold, Liked, Staunch, Rash

Heavy spears: OO HI B, Spear and shield, 10
Heavy spears: OO HI B, Spear and shield, 10
Heavy spears: OO HI C, Spear and shield, 10
Heavy spears: OO HI B, Spear and shield, 10

Mob: OO LI D, Sword and shield, 10
Mob: OO LI D, Sword and shield, 10
Mob: OO LI C, Sword and shield, 10
Mob: OO LI C, Sword and shield, 10

Skirmishing younglings: SO LI D, inferior bow, 7
Skirmishing younglings: SO LI E, inferior bow, 7
Skirmishing younglings: SO LI E, inferior bow, 7

Grishnak hero: Atrocious, Inspirational, Slayer of all, Enthousiastic

Blogsok's Wolfriders:

Blogsok chief: Solid, Inspirational, Staunch, Unreliable

Wolfriders: OO HC C, Handweapons and shields, Carnivorous mounts
Wolfriders: OO HC C, Handweapons and shields, Carnivorous mounts
Wolfriders: OO HC C, Handweapons and shields, Carnivorous mounts
Wolfriders: OO HC C, Handweapons and shields, Carnivorous mounts

Grrr's Ogres:

Grrr Chief: Atrocious, Inspirational, Slayer of men, Rash

Ogres: Light Giants B, two-handers, 10
Ogres: Light Giants B, two-handers, 10

Arrr Hero: Solid/Bold, Inspirational, Slayer of men, Enthousiastic, Spoiling for a fight.

Aznar: Killed in action leading his bruisers.
Noknok: Killed while trying to keep the elves from flanking Aznar's tribe.
Aznar's tribe: Skirmishers killed in firefights. One unit of Bruisers and light spears destroyed by elven bows.
The remainder of the tribe destroyed in the rest of the fighting.

Ragnok's tribe: minor casualties among the skirmishers.
Grrr's Ogres: no casualties
Blogsok's Wolfriders: no casualties.

Result: A win for Ragnok's tribe! Aznar? Who is Aznar?

Elven Army: Thanalis's border rangers

Thanalis had received reports from his scouts of an unusually large orcish raiding party approaching through the human lands. They seemed to head directly for the plains, and so far the humans had not moved to stop them. Sending riders out to bring in the patrols, he grouped a fighting force of both mounted and dismounted rangers. In addition he had some pegasus scouts at his disposal, and a cavalry detachment from the standing army. Quite predictable, Vanuldir, commander of the cavalry detachment, immediately pointed out he should be taking command as highest ranking standing army commander. A brief discussion indeed.

Taking stock of the situation, Thanalis deployed the pegasi on his left flank, his foot rangers on the foothills, with the mounted rangers supporting on the left flank and the cavalry in the middle. A small patrol was deployed on the right flank to watch for any orcs trying to flank the rangers.

Overall, it was important to stop these orcs. Then again, they were still well away from the elven homelands, so fighting another day was definitely an option.

Thanalis Commander in Chief: Solid, Born leader, Staunch
Insuldir Mage Master (schooled) DAv+2, capacity 34. Weakling. Spells: Heal, Light, Boost Morale, Voices

Erimor, East Rides mounted rangers: Gifted, Liked, Staunch
* 2x Mounted Rangers: OO Light Cavalry B, spear, elven bow, strength 6
* 2x Centaurs: SO Light Cavalry C, bow, strength 5
* Hero Avelion Solid, Inspirational, Slayer of Men, Meek (I)

Leinor, East Rides foot rangers: Solid, Liked, Staunch, Hard to Kill
* 3x Foot Rangers: OO Light Infantry B, spear, elven bow, strength 10
* 2x Skirmishers: SO Light Infantry C, elven bow, strength 7
* Hero Incelan Poor, Liked, Slayer of All, Enthusiastic (II)

Veriborn, Lonely Hills foot rangers: Gifted, Liked, Staunch
* 3x Foot Rangers: OO Light Infantry B, spear, elven bow, strength 10
* 2x Skirmishers: SO Light Infantry C, elven bow, strength 7
* Hero Caethin Solid, Cold Fish, Has Fate (III)

Eilas, White Sun Pegasus Scouts: Solid, Liked, Slayer of Men
* 3x Pegasus Scouts: SO Medium Cavalry B, shield, elven bow, strength 5

Vanuldir, Grove Cavalry Solid, Cold Fish, Staunch, Hesistant
* 1x Noble Cavalry: OO Heavy Cavalry, B, lance, javelin, shield, strength 8
* 3x Unicorn riders: SO Light Cavalry C, elven bow, strength 5

* Eilas: Slain by Ogre hero in personal combat
* Incelan: Slain by Aznar in personal combat
* 1 unit of centaurs routed after taking heavy fire
* Grove cavalry routed but rallied
* Small losses throughout skirmishers

The Battle


Having thoroughly outscouted their opponent, Thanalis got the pick of the ground. He was only slightly worried about the woods to his front blocking some of the enemy movement from view. However his pegasus scouts should provide ample warning there.


As expected, the scouts revealed the bulk of the orc forces - using the cover of the woods to try and close the bow range as quickly as possible. The orc forces threatening the right flank turned out to be a simple ruse, and only a small force of wolf riders were moving into the intended killing grounds.

Around this point, fighting nearly broke out between Arr, the ogre hero who was clearly spoiling for a fight, and his blood brother Grrr. Fortunately it resulted in nothing more than a staring match, with Arr finally reserving his anger for the enemy.


On the far left of the army, the pegasus scouts put a few well aimed volleys into the orc skirmishers, but had to evade as the ogres agressively charged forward.


Insuldir, expecting dark magic to be used by the vile orcs, cast a spell, bathing the direct surroundings in magical light to inhibit the use of such vile forces.


Thanalis commanded the left flank of his army to fall back slowly, keeping the orcs at bow range and out of close combat. He also sent orders to Leinur to bring forward his rangers and flank the enemy.


Whether it was the advance of Leinur's rangers or simply the absence of Aznar, we will never know. What we do know is that the unreliable Blogsok chose not to face the elves in front of him, and instead turn around to re-pillage the human lands to the rear. He would not play a further part in the battle. Due to the speed of their retreat, our artist only managed a blurry sketch.


However, not all was going well for the elves. One of the herds of centaurs drew fire from the entire cloud of orcish skirmishers, causing them to turn tail and run. Seeing this, Insuldir prepared the spell 'Voices' and cast it on Aznar. As a result of which Aznar, instead of commanding his troops, spent the next good while yelling at the voices in his ear, and punching a few close-by subordinates out of sher frustration. This briefly took the pressure of the elves, allowing them to fall back to a safe range.


Or at least something resembling a safe range. Zooming about low over the grassy fields on his pegasus, Eilas was fully focussed on commanding his troops, when suddenly from almost just below him he heard a loud bellow.
This bellow originated from Arrr, who had finally spotted an elf to vent his rage on. Charging across the field, he raised his huge sword to cleave through the elf and steed. Little did he know Eilas was a hero of reknown, and slayer of many things.


Nor did this make much of a difference. Rising in an arc, Arr's sword was only seen by the elf once it had cloven through the pegasus, and was within inches of cleaving through the rider as well. Far too late for the elf to act and avoid his fate.


This tragic loss would not however deter the elves from the plan already set in motion. Leinur moved most of his troops forward, with Incelan taking personal command of the regiment that briefly got left behind. Wheeling in on the exposed orc flank, they took full advantage of the distraction suffered by the orc commander.

They had, however, not taken Noknok into account. Kicking, yelling and pushing the tough orc Bruisers, he managed to turn at least one mob to face the opposing threat.


It is highly dubious whether the bruisers would ever forgive Noknok for this, as their position made them the prime target for all the rangers of the East Ridings, the sky darkening with arrows, and the ground darkening with orc blood.


Enraged at the magic tricks played with his mind, and more so by the slaughter visited on his bruisers, Aznar strode forward and belched a challenge at the closest elven hero, Incelan. He may have been all the more motivated as slaying the pesky elf would surely increase his status within the orc tribe. Foolishly, he had just picked the other slayer of reknown in the elven army.


But again it would make little difference. Incelan considered for a moment to simply ignore the challenge of the filthy orc, but then decided to throw caution to the wind. He charged up the hill, deftly fended off one cleaver, and stopped the other with his forehead. With the rusting metal sinking down between the elves shoulderblades, another valiant light extinguished.


Aznar's glory would however be brief. As they pushed forward, his troops found fierce looking (for elves...) cavalry facing them, and much less fierce looking but nonetheless angry rangers flanking them. There seemed little chance of avoiding a disaster. Again, Noknok intervened. Stepping forward, he motioned at the gully, and called out the orcish equivalent of 'ye shall not pass' at the rangers.


Unable to believe the stupidity of the orc, the elven rangers marcherd forward to the edge of the gorge, nocked their arrows, and fired. Pierced by many an arrow, the orc still stood. A small detachment from the rangers rushed forward and put the orc out of his misery. In the process of which they had lost the momentum of their advance, freeing the orcish warband to face the cavalry without immediate threat to their flank.


Horns called, hooves clattered, manes drifted in the wind. Poets could spend years writing about the charge of Vanuldir's cavalry. They would spend much less time on the shocked looks on the elves faces as their opponents did not waver, or the hasty retreat that would follow. Behind, the unicorn riders did not hesitate one moment, and joined in the hasty retreat.


this may have come as a surprise to some. But certainly not to the elven mage. Having just cast another 'voices' spell, this time on ragnok, she was already preparing the 'Boost Morale' spell.

The battle was now reaching it's dramatic end. On the far right, Leinur's rangers were making short work of the two bands of orcs facing them. The two orc shamans cast spells to hope stave off the unavoidable, but to no avail.

In the centre, a regiment of rangers charged into the flank of Aznar's troops, whereas Veriborn's rangers charged up the hill into the levelled spears. After, of course, having peppered them with a few solid volleys of archery.


Caethin, seeing the orc commander cowering amongst his troops, waded through the fight, slaying orcs left right and center. Finally he faced the vile orc. And this time the poems would not be tragic, as they had every cause to describe epic victory. Caethin sliced the orc commander, Aznar, into more manageable pieces while to his left and right his fellow rangers were breaking through the orcish ranks and sending them to the rear.


Routing the orcs to their front, the elves might have called this a victory. But for the life lost of two of their most beloved heroes. But for the handful of lives lost amongst their rangers. And certainly but for the shameful retreat of the heavy cavalry.

For some orcs, the day would also be a victory. Such as Ragnar, who still had the opportunity to withdraw his tribe mostly intact. The loss of a serious competitor would not be mourned either.

The ogre brothers had also much to celebrate. They had slain the leader of the 'budgies', and had seen them off the battlefield entirely. In the process of which they had not suffered any losses whatsoever.

Overall, the battle did end the orcish invasion. For now.

To lessen the slight on elven honour, Insuldir's timely preparation even managed to put a stop to the rout of the cavalry. The 'Boost Morale' spell proved effective enough to bring the cavalry to a halt, leaving them shaken but no longer routing. Not that the border troops would soon forget the sight of the retreat of the noble heavy cavalry.


Overall the rules seemed up to the job. A few things were noted, some of them requiring change. Indirect archery by troops in the rear over troops to their front is too effective. This will now be further penalized.

The hero and duel mechanisms seemed to work well, and definitely added fun and flavour to the game. Magic proved powerful but probably not overly powerful.

Poor dice rolls by the orcish side did result in their commanders being distracted for great lengths, but this was a statistical anomaly. Speed of play was fair, with approximately 20 minutes used per game turn. This with still a lot of checking to see whether we were using the rules as written down.

As a first start to dealing with flying troops, simply allowing them to ignore terrain effects seemed a start, but certainly not yet the complete answer.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Playtest Battle of Blue Gully II - The battle

The mist faded and revealed the two small armies facing each other. On the right flank, Twohorns could see the dwarven blunderbuss regiment under Thorin Crooked move forward, probably hoping to flank the skirmishers. The remainder of the dwarven army so far held still.


Not one to be distracted by such a ploy, Twohorns ordered the advance of all troops under his command. Simple plans are always best, and attacking suits orc nature. Defending certainly did not suit Yellowcrest and Akz, both noted for their Rash character. Indeed, Akz was already wading through the mud of Blue Gully. Which turned out to be more of an obstacle than expected - maybe Twohorns should have checked the ground first, but too late for that now.


Besides, his attention was on the big green thing, with a small castle on top. Manned with more dwarves. Curious, and possibly a bit of a concern. And what's that, dwarves with pikes? What is the world coming to?


Ah, Bigears has finally advanced as well. Trust that idiot to not manage more than send his skirmishers forward. Does a good orc have to do everything himself? Twohorns decided he would stay close to Bigears, in case he would falter at a critical moment.


Swarming ahead of the dwarven army came a cloud of bats. And from the looks of it, particularly vicious ones, too. Splitting in three smaller clouds, one dove down onto a unit of skirmishers, covering them in biting, gnawing, vicious bats, thousands of them. Against all odds, these bats would over the coming turns gnaw away and break up the skirmishers. Further back, the remaining bats threw themselves on the orcish front line. They would severely delay and hinder the orcish formation, without inflicting casualties.

Just behind the lines, both Addertongue and the opposing mage were tapping the ether for their magical powers. Sensing a local surge, Addertongue grabbed the initiative, and cast "Despair" on the closest dwarven leader, Balin Digger. Surely he would break down in tears soon enough now.

Unfortunately, fate was not with the orcish shaman. Almost as soon as the corrupting effect of the magic set in, did the dwarf manage to shrug it off again, with no noticeable effect. Much to Addertongue's shagrin, he had to stand and watch while the dwarven Element-mage Mug threw a massive explosion at the front rank of orcs, inflicting serious casualties on two units. And to top it off, Twohorns was glowering at him too, now.


On the left flank, meanwhile, Bigteeth's wolf riders waded across the muddy stream. Only to be greeted by a metal and particularly wicked grins. on the far side. Still clawing up the banks, trying to get close to the Shock regiment facing them, the wolf riders were practically scythed down.


Three units routed straight away, with only the troops directly under Bigteeth's command able to fight to a standstill. So much for Bigteeth's chance of some good looting, the bastard Twohorns would keep it all to himself now. It almost smelled like a setup. Bigteeth did not get much of a chance to care about it, though, as both Bigteeth and Thorin the Bold fell somewhere in the slaughter, never to be heard of again.


With the bat swarms finally dealt with, and fed up with taking more artillery fire, Yellowcrest kicked screamed and threatened his troops forward. On his left flank Akz's ogres were advancing as well, but unfortunately the defeat of the wolf riders left the dwarven shock regiment without opposition and free to move. Little did Yellowcrest know that due to the defeat of their commander, it would take a while for the dwarf flank to get moving. Nobody was surprised to see Bigears lagging behind on the right flank...


On the left flank, Akz eyed the big green thing. If anyone would be able to cut that down to size, it would be his ogres. And it would probably make a fine meal, too. Leaving the remnant of the wolf riders and one unit of ogres facing the shock regiments, Akz took one of his ogre units forward and charged the behemoth.


A bloody struggle followed, with the ogres smashing into the behemoth and pikemen, and throwing them back in some disarray. Unfortunately the losses suffered by the ogres, and the much more serious losses suffered facing the shock regiments, left the ogres still standing but too fragile to do anything much. Akz having the poor grace to die in the combat did not help much either.

In the centre, a very bloody fight was fought, with the orcs looking about to break through. Another explosion thrown by the dwarven mage, and the combined artillery fire throughout the day, were however starting tot take their toll. Exhausted, Yellowcrest and his orcs glowered at the dwarves facing them.

Balin Digger stared back at the orcs facing him. A quick survey of his troops reinforced his determination. With a loud bellow he ordered his militia forward, into the orc ranks - clearing them off the ground they had just conquered, and sending them running back to where they came from. One of the victims of the vengeful access was Yellowcrest, yet another orc commander to die on that day.

Twohorns saw only one opportunity left in his reach. Taking personal command of some spears, he motioned to his shaman to 'do something'. Only to realize that Addertongue probably was not clutching at his head and screaming because he was doing well. In fact, the shaman had just overreached himself and tapped into more energy than he could handle, leaving him unable to play a further role, and suffering a splitting headache.

Twohorns charged forward, pleased to see that finally it had dawned on Bigears to join in the effort, too. A pleasure that would be rudely interrupted by a descending dwarven axe. Leaving Bigears as the most senior orcish commander on the field.

By this point, the orcish center had disintegrated, with a stretched, battered and exhausted dwarven line holding, and the flanking attack by the orcs too late to turn the tide. Seeing the dwarf with the demon pet (Thorin Crooked) fall boosted Bigears's spirits, but would not turn the battle.


Overall summary
* Combat mechanisms seemed to work as expected
* Swarms worked well - basically they act as mobile difficult terrain that latches on to a target unit. Every turn thereafter there is a chance of the swarm dispersing, and a smaller one of the unit suffering a hit.
* Pinning/Zone of Control was kept at 4". This feels as too long for fantasy games, and has since been reduced to 2".
* Melee casualties for continued melee and fall back were too heavy, and will be halved.
* Magic worked well, and added fun & atmosphere. The 'flux' card may be a bit too much though, to be reviewed. Spell costs definitely need more reviewing.
* Even with the significant disparity in numbers and troop types, the battle could have gone both ways and hung in the balance for a good while. (The orcs suffered from really good luck when rolling for troop ratings. They would normally have had more 'D' and much less 'B' class troops)
* We're on way to having a playable system in time for Rheindahlen!