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.

1 comment:

  1. Hoi Derk,

    Ik weet niet of dit de plek is, maar ik meld me graag aan om een keer mee te doen qua testen van regels, ik heb errrr 1 regiment DE (16 figuren Inf) en 1 stand (6 figuren) DE Hvy Cav.