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.

I, Krassush, have found the dwarven wagon camp, and from the reports from my scouts, it's ripe for plunder. I can almost smell how heavily loaded the wagons are with gold, and there really can't be all that many dwarves to stand between me and great wealth and power.

In a masterful stroke I sent Blogsok off on his own to advance through the woods on the right, and keep as many dwarves occupied as possible. Not sure if he'll make it, but I don't trust him anyway. He has a reputation as a traitor. (This once actually undeservedly)

On my left I sent my nephew Ragnok forward, leading half the tribe. I sent Akz, my ogre commander to support him with his ogres. Told them to hurry up through the valley, and then pile into the dwarven flank. Nicely avoiding the gully that way.

In the center I sent Magrott on his way. With the other half of the tribe, and the giants to support him, he should be able to break through without a pause.

Between the two, I advanced with my loyal bruisers, and my pet helldog Wuff. Addertongue, my shaman, was kept close by as well. I trust him even less than Blogsok.

I'm not sure what Ragnok had for dinner, but he took off like a bat out of hell. His column raced forwards through the valley, unseen by the enemy. Magrott and myself, as well as the screen in front, were much delayed making our way through these damned woods. Elves or no, I don't hold with trees. Blogsok seemed of similar opinion on the far right.


So far the dwarves had seen none of us, and we were starting to make out stunty little shapes behind the barricade. Were they in for a surprise! They must have panicked when thay saw the troops come across the hill, because one of their flag-waving alchemist crazies came running to the fore to throw some magic at me. I think it was supposed to make me cry or something, but I wasn't impressed.

Besides, we have crazies too! Lobear started a run, charged straight down the hill, and managed to grab the dwarf's beard just as he tried to run. Holding onto the beard he sliced off everything below the neck. Good riddance I say.


However, as the stunties body fell to the ground, something weird happened, and a spirit of some sort rushed at Lobear. Lobear didn't last long really, the charred bits scattered all around. It must have taken most out of the spirit, as it charged the unit of spears behind, and vanished into thin air.

(What happened here was that, after failing the evade roll and dying messily, the mage still had magic power gathered that went haywire. As a random resultof which a minor elemental came into being and attacked the closest being)


When finally they laid eyes on all of my tribe, I could hear the nigh panic in the enemy camp. They were surrounded on three sides, with Blogsok's wolfriders preventing the dwarves on that flank moving away to reinforce the other. We vastly outnumbered them, and were about to deploy our secret weapon.

But not yet. First, I had to watch Addertongue cut himself, foam at the mouth, digest some slimy reptile and perform the most disgusting dance ever. All part, it seems, of his magic ritual that sent a black, foul-smelling cloud down towards the dwarven line. It fell on three units of dwarves, making them choke, gag, some of them succumbing to the weakness and falling to the ground. And you know the most horrible part? It sticks around and keeps sucking the life out of them, until eventually the cloud evaporates.


No, you'll have to wait a bit longer for the secret weapon. Looking towards the right flank, I could see Blogsok's wolfriders coming under fire from dwarven crossbows. He'd never be able to stand up to the fire for long, i guess. But he was actually standing, enough of a threat to keep the dwarves from turning their back. Some of the foolish dwarves advanced forward, trying to shoot the wolfriders from up close. Of course Blogsok's riders charged, wolves throwing them at the crossbowmen. Bah. Dwarves don't know how this is supposed to work, they're supposed to panic and run away. This time they didn't, and Blogsok's wolfriders got thrown back with some nasty losses.


What secret weapon you ask still? Oh alright, I'll let you bask in my greatness. You see, this day I unveiled the might of the orcish sharpshooters. Cunningly picking our weakest, mangiest kind, giving them a bow and telling them to hurry up to the front before we turn them into lunch, my sharpe wit has given rise to a fearsome weapon. It seemed each volley fired into the barricade found it's mark, dwarves dying in scores to the barbed orcish arrows. These guys deserve something better than a loincloth. Something to show just how fearsome they are. Maybe a green shirt with some black stripes.

(The odds of these guys being useful is minimal. D and E class inferior bowmen... But there's little that will negate a streak of double sixes, much to my opponent's chagrin...)

In fact, they did more harm to the enemy than my backwards friends the giants. Bellowing loudly they threw themselves at the stunty defences. They must have hurt their feet on a cart splinter or something, as they stumbled back in surprise. Only to be rewarded with a salvo of dwarven artillery striking them true, and doing them in for the day. If only I had had more than those five giants fighting for me!

(Large giants pack a hefty punch. In this case, they went in ahead of the infantry, facing the whole enemy line on their own. They almost made it, but didn't roll high enough. With their large size come low numbers, so their staying power is somewhat limited)


Unfazed, I motioned my nephews forward, and told my bearers to carry me to the battle. I would lead my bruisers into the the center of the dwarven position and break through. As a matter of coincidence it was only defended by some skirmishers, which appealed to me. Both wings of my army were now in position for the assault, and Blogsok was still holding the far flank while taking serious losses from the crossbows - maybe not such a traitor afterall.


With my army crashing onto the dwarven position, we easily pushed the miner militia from the barricade. They would have routed, even, had they not been stubborn like all dwarves. Never mind, more dwarves for us to kill. The spirits that Addertongue had pulled from the ground were fighting alongside my spearmen, the combination a fearsome sight to behold!

On the left flank things were less glorious. Ragnok charged at the thin line of shiny dwarves, and came to a crashing halt. Impossible! There were only so few of them! Maybe I should have heeded all the warnings about the shiny dwarves?

As for myself, I gloriously led the charge from 6 rows back, bellowing the bruisers forward from the comfort of my seat. We swept across the barricade, and threw the skirmishers back.

(The dwarves behind the barricades were already damaged goods, not very good quality, and vastly outnumbered. The barricades did not prove enough of a defence to stop the orcish onslaught. The rout result, however, was reduced to thrown back shaken, due to the dwarven innate stubbornness.

As for the flank, that was a different matter. There, the dwarves had everything going for them. Far superior morale, advantage of position, much better armoured and good leaders to boot. In some cases the result was a standstill, in some cases the orcs were thrown back shaken.)


All was going to plan, even if the left flank was going not as quick as planned. I watched Ragnok personally rally his troops, and send them up the hill again! Ah, quicker motion now. Except... It's all going in the wrong direction! Why are my troops running from so few dwarves?


Things were suddenly not looking so good. I had to snatch defeat from.. No, victory from the jaws of defeat. Leading my bruisers in one more charge, with Akz's ogers supporting my flank, I drove at the heart of the dwarven position. I was sure this would be my moment of greatest glory.


Alas, it was not to be. I too, was to find out just how nasty those dwarven tin cans can be. My bruisers panicked, and my bearers almost could not keep up with them as I hurriedly adjusted my master plan. Ragnok had abandoned the assault to save what he could of his tribe, and there was no way Magrott would be able to break through on his own.


So, haven taught these stunties a lesson, we fell back in (mostly) good order and headed back the way we came. The stunties seemed none to keen to follow, what with their miner militia slain almost to a dwarf.

(All in all, things mostly worked the way we wanted them to work. Magic added an interesting note, but did not dominate. Neither the orcs nor the dwarves seem overly powerful, and the game was interesting from start to finish. Also, we picked up on a good many sections of the rules that require some small clarifications, whuch was helpful)

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