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:

Overall I'm looking to change some things for subsequent demos that we might put up, e.g. at Crisis in Antwerp:
* Run with designated referee / crowd interaction person. We didn't, this time even though we knew better
* Need some cool fantasy looking scenery to make the table stand out at a first glance
* Need some clear scenarios that sell themselves
* Run a smaller game with less troops
* Have less text on the inside of the boards, in a MUCH larger font. This was just too small
* Increase size of posters from A2 to A1, possibly A0

All that said, I'm now going to bore you with the details from the games we ran. On Saturday we ran orcs attacking elves, with a combination of plains elves and mountain elves defending.

On Sunday we ran orcs versus dwarves, with the dwarves defending.

Since I did not take detailed notes, I'll add random comments to the pictures as they come to mind.

The battle started with the orcs mounted charge - on the elven left, Blogsock's wolfriders piled into the mountain elf infantry, whereas on the right hand side it was Aznar's massive block of Warg riders that threw themselves at the plains elves.

At the same time, Grr, the ogre champion stepped forward and belched a challenge. An elven hero, Incelan, saw this opportunity to demonstrate his incredible swordmanship, and strode forward to accept the duel. Little did he know that although he himself was a Slayer of Men, the ogre was a Slayer of All - and quickly proved the point by splitting Incelan in half with one mighty blow of his greatsword.

The mountain elf infantry (far heavier than the plainselves) held fairly easily, with Blogsok clearly standing no chance to break through.

On the right hand side the situation was far more precarious. That bastard ogre Grr had seen the opportunity to rush the Mounted Rangers leader, Erimor, and strike him clear off his horse. (Note that this was only possible due to me neglecting to move the general to the safety of his own lines, leaving him dangerously exposed. Ooops!) The first squadron of mounted rangers now lacked the leadership to respond, and got overwhelmed in place. On the intervention by the Plains Elf Commander-in-Chief taking charge of the remaining squadron of mounted rangers and the assistance of mountain elf heavy cavalry managed to prevent a major breakthrough.

Trumpets sounded and the finest elven cavalry levelled lances and charged into the huge pack of warg and cut clean through them. With a good part of Aznar's warg riders on the rout, the situation looked far more stable.

However, Grr wasn't quite done yet. In addition to the slain plains elves, he would add a mountain elf hero to the list. Belanthron had ridden out to intercept the ogre menace. Thus far, the plan had worked. But faced with the brute, he came to realise this may have been a mistake. This elf was going to be the last kill scored by the ogre. With the wounds he had already sustained, he had had enough and returned to his fellows, carrying three fresh elven heads.

On the left flank, the mountain elf mage Uthnal was adding misery to Blogsok's already not too bright day. They had failed to break through and were not winning the staring contest either. Letting lose a string of explosions amidst their ranks, Uthnal reduced the enthusiasm of the closest wolf riders well below the freezing point.

Not very far from there another elven mage was wielding the fierce magic energies. However, this time it would not go so well. Having gathered more energy than she could control, Therthazara stumbled off the field with a splitting headache. She was lucky, as in her case her head retained structural integrity.

Although the situation was under control at the moment, there was great uncertainty amongst the elves whether they would be able to hold against the forces that were bearing down on the left flank. The giant loomed over all the troops around him, and looked fierce enough.

What was worse, on the far left flank the summoned elementals were not offering anything much in the way of resistance to the orcs smashing through their lines.
Hoping to turn the tide, the elven hero Caethin led the Noble cavalry forward. Charging down the hill, they swept away the remaining warg riders and send them back to the wastelands they had come from.

However, that victory would be too late. With the right flank command structure dead or dying, a quick left hook would never materialise in time. Especially given the sheer feriocity with which the giant cut through the elven spearmen, scything them down and routing them. Things might have gone very differently if he'd hit the far superior pikemen to their right, but such was not to be.

Overall, the elves had suffered a grave defeat. The mountain elf infantry would never make their escape, even if their cavalry might. By now the plains elves had fought their opposition to a standstill, b ut they had no choice but to retire.

Worse still was the count of elven heroes, generals and nobles littering the field. A good portion of which due to the actions of a single ogre.

After this game and dinner, we indulged in a game of "Bag the Hun" - Dutch pilots and some RAF versus a German divebombing raid with fighter cover. Great fun, even if my pilots obviously lacked 20/20 sight. Or anything resembling sight. Useless gits failed to hit a thing. Still, my newbie almost made it home with a highly damaged plane. It was only when the plane was about to crash into the ground with 4 critical hits that he decided to eject. I'm sure he would have made it across the channel to make a reputation in the Battle of Britain. He was stubborn enough.

On Sunday we put up another game, this time the orcs were attacking a strong defensive line manned by dwarves.

The battle involved some fighting between heroes from both sides, with the dwarves proving stubborn little fellows. Grr even had to scoop one out of the swamp and slaughter him. Only to then be slain himself by a great white yeti-like creature. Which reputedly is otherwise a really tame and gentle being. As if.

I once again managed to prove my luck with magic. This time my spirit mage, Shineyskull, was in the process of casting the "Voices" spell on a hostile commander when something went wrong. Instead of the hostile commander listening to all sorts of voices in his head, Shineyskull got to listen to one loud WOOSH as he incinerated himself.

My plan had been to hold Aznar's warg riders in reserve in the centre - thus preventing the dwarves from pulling troops of the front line - while throwing the main attack on the flanks. Unfortunately, Aznar has a "Rash" streak.

Which means that when the Rash card came up, followed by the Bold card (which applied to Aznar), Aznar decided that his a Good Offense is really the Best Defence.

This just when the dwarves had released swarms of vampire bats directly to his front.

Plowing into the bats, then through into the dwarven line, the warg riders arrived in complete disorder. Half of the warg riders routed straight away after the first contact, the remainder fell back shaken but for a single unit that faced a battery of artillery. Managing to overrun the battery, they were stopped short by a volley from the second battery behind it.

We had to stop this battle short, but with no real threat to the centre anymore, the dwarves would have held.

Some overall observations and thoughts on the rules:
* Flinch test: I want to remove it. It adds an additional test to the close combat system that is superfluous and can be integrated with the overall test.
* Orders: Attack, Defend, Support and Maneuver need to be clearly written out in the rules
* Some factors (Shock, missile support etc) should only apply in the first round of a melee
* Cavalry losing versus infantry probabably simply should not go in, rather than go in and get routed
* Need to differentiate terrain effects between infantry, cavalry, giants etc. Not just skirmish/open/close formation
* Need to add obstacles


  1. Very nice description of what seems to be a fun game, and big too :)

    I live in Antwerp so I'm looking forward to checking you guys out at crisis in November. Is there any way to have a look at the concept of the ruleset as it is today?

  2. Rudy,

    drop me a mail at, and I will sort you out with a preview.