Monday, October 29, 2018

Wargame Design: Thinking Through Activation for your Game

Welcome as we progress through the process of creating Only the Strong Survive; a game of dinosaur combat.  In previous posts we have discussed how to flesh out the conceptof your game, build design goals, and use these to flesh out your 4Ms to create a skeleton of a game.  At this stage you have a very good concept of what you are trying to accomplish and how you intend to do it.  You could start doing some rudimentary play tests of the game system to see how it hangs together. 

We have not discussed a key element.  This element is possibly the most important component to creating tactical game play.  If the 4Ms are the skeleton of your game, this element is the muscle and sinew.  It holds the component pieces together as a whole.  It is the last element needed to create a playable game.  I also find it to be the most compelling feature of many game systems.  What is this sacred ingredient?  It is the Turn Sequence.  How and when models can act in relationship to each other. 
$10 at Wal-mart got me these and many more for testing

There are as many ways to handle activation as there are games to play.  Below are some basic ideas to get you started on the path of thinking about this mechanic:

1.       I-GO-U-GO- Basically, both players take turns and do all actions with their entire force.  One player does all their actions, and then the other player does all of their actions.  There are many famous games with this structure.  Contrary to popular belief, this method is not inherently wrong.  Like all mechanics there are advantages and disadvantages to this method. 
a.       Advantages- Easy to understand, simplicity
b.       Disadvantages- Can have down time, Opponent has few counters
c.       Examples: Warhammer 40K and Warhammer Fantasy Battle

2.       Alternating Activations- In this method, a model/unit is activated by a player, it completes its action, and then the opponent gets to do the same with their model/unit.  Play alternates back and forth until all models have been activated.
a.       Advantages- Players exchange play frequently to stay in the game 
b.       Disadvantages- Forces act disjointedly, react “in the moment”
c.       Examples: Dystopian Wars

3.       Activations by Phase- One player has all of their units/models perform one of their available actions such as move.  Once complete, the opposing player can then have all of his models/units complete the same action.  Once complete, the first player can then have all of his models/units perform the next action. 
a.       Advantages- Play goes back and forth, Units can coordinate actions
b.       Disadvantages- Can have downtime, Opponent can have limited response

4.       Activation Order- At some point, an order of who can activate when is established and then followed in a linear way.  For example, all units of a certain type can activate, then of another type can activate, and then a third type, until all units have performed an activation.  The order can be set in advance or fluid and changing, but there is a clear order of activation.
a.       Advantages- Used to differentiate unit/models, Play typically moves between players
b.       Disadvantages- Establishing or recalling proper order
c.       Examples: Dux Bellorum, The Games: Blood andSpectacle

5.       Act/React- A player can choose to activate or use a model/unit.  However, if certain criteria are met then the opponent player can try to activate or use one of their own models/units as a ‘reaction’ to what the acting player is doing.       
a.       Advantages- Leads to dynamic game play
b.       Disadvantages- Complex, mechanic heavy, not intuitive
c.       Examples: Infinity, Rogue Stars, Force-on-Force

6.       Push-Your-Luck- A model/unit that is active can continue to do stuff until they fail.  Then activation moves to a different model/unit OR the opponent can start activating their models/units. 
a.       Advantages- Forces player decision, Create friction
b.       Disadvantages- Artificial outcomes
c.       Examples: Blood Bowl, Black Powder

The above is just a flavor of the general styles out there.  In addition, there can be multiple small variations to the specific mechanic or combinations.  For example, the main mechanic maybe I-GO-U-GO with an Overwatch mechanic that allows an Act/React system to come into play, or a resource that is spent in order to interrupt.  Again, this is where research and being familiar with a wide variety of game systems and mechanics comes in handy.  You can see exactly how other designers have tackled similar challenges to the ones you are facing.

As you consider the activation method or turn sequence for your game, it is a good idea to refer back to your Design Goals.  In the case of our dinosaur fighting game, Only the Strong Survive; they were:

1.                   Interesting battles between Dinosaurs 1-on-1 or in very small groups.
2.                   Gameplay that flows quickly and easily between players
3.                   Lots of decision making for the player
4.                   Clear differentiators between Dino types
5.                   Scale and model agnostic
6.                   Combat that flows freely, not locking you in
7.                   Positioning is key

Reading the design goals, I can immediately eliminate some of the options from our list.  Activation by Phase and I-GO-U-GO do not seem to be a good fit.  However, I-Go-U-Go could work with small model count games; I am going to steer away from it for now.  Those typically have some longer wait times as players complete their phases.  My design goals specifically call out quickly flowing game play and free flowing combat. 

Alternating Activation and Activation Order seem like they could work fine.  However, I also want to force decisions on the player.  The key decision in these activation methods is simply who to activate when.  If it is a 1-on-1 fight, there will be no decision making using these methods.  On the other hand, how they fit into an activation method is a good way to distinguish between dino types.  However, I am going to eliminate those from our final list as well.  The positives do not outweigh the negatives right now.

This leaves us with Act/React and Push-Your-Luck.  I have successfully used Push-Your-Luck mechanics before in Combat! Starring Vic Murrow.  It allows for models to differentiate themselves and potentially “chain” there efforts together, but a successful chain could disenfranchise an opponent’s ability to act.  I have also seen Push-Your-Luck mechanics lead to some bizarre outcomes in games like Black Powder, Hail Ceasar, and Lion Rampant that have been off-putting to some reviewers and players. 

When I take a closer look at Act/React in games like Arena Rex it seems like a strong fit.  Arena Rex is also a model-vs-model (or small group) melee fight.  There, certain actions allow clearly defined reactions, and different fighters can have unique reactions for differentiation.  This seems to fit what I am trying to accomplish pretty closely.  On the other hand, in games like Infinity or Rogue Stars I have seen it lead to one model doing all the heavy lifting while the rest of the team just sits and cheers the biggest, baddest model on. 

After reviewing my design goals and the skeleton of the game I have put together so far, I have decided on trying to build some sort of Act/React system.  Obviously, I will need to build in some sort of limiting factors so players will need to “manage” their dinosaurs and their ability to react.  The exact nature of this mechanic is not clear yet, but it could simply be a dice pool that reduces as they use it, and a success indicates they can react and no successes indicate they can not.  Then the number of successes could dictate the list of available reactions.  The more successes the more aggressive the reaction?   These reactions could also vary by dinosaur with more nimble and reactive dinos able to do more aggressive reactions, while bigger, slower dinos might need more successes to do something less aggressive.

Now, with the skeleton and muscles of the basic game in place, it is time to move onto the next steps. With the basic elements in mind, you need to start putting together some basic profiles for the units in your game. You can’t build a unit profile, until you have an idea of how the game is going to work. If you go back and review the post on fleshing out the 4Ms and combine it with this post, you can see a shadow of the profiles being created. Next time, we will look at the process of building two Dinosaur profiles for Only the Strong Survive based on the core mechanics we have discussed here.      

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Blood Bowl: Princess Owayanna Tournament Report- Skaven vs Chaos

Lord Summervale: Welcome, ladies, gentleman, and gribblies from across the Olde World to today's Cabalvision IV coverage of the Princess Owayanna Healing Bottled Water Tournament qualifying round. We are deep in the Chaos Wastes as the Chaos Goat Herders take on the Skaven Cheez-Ballerz to advance to the semi-final round of the tournament.

Mad Johan: Both of these teams are new to the Deep North League- Southern Regional Conference. However, in Pre-season play the Goat Herders seemed like you standard Chaos psychopaths who preferred to smash face first and then let the scoring work itself out.

Lord Summervale: They played a pretty tough, bashy team in the Forever Jackals, but seemed to handle the undead players from Khemri with ease.

Mad Johan: Today's opponent is a very different style of play. As a skaven team they are fast and sneaky. However, they aren't afraid to play a little rough with a pair of Stormvermin blitzers. We have seen the Cheez-Ballerz not shy away from running it up the gut, and be successful at it.

Lord Summervale: The Cheez-baller captain King Chedda' has taken to the field to a chorus of boos and encouraging squeaks. Meanwhile, from the other dug-out comes the Goat Herders' captain Asquith Kneecapper.

The two teams exchange the customary pre-game handshake, but King Chedda' looks a little worse for wear after a vigorous shaking by Asquith. The ref flips the coin, and the Skaven win the toss. King Chedda' elects to receive the kick-off to try to put some points on the board.

Mad Johan: We saw a similar tactic from the other Skaven team in the tournament, Da' RatPackers. The strategy worked for them as they scored early and advanced to the semi-finals in a nail biter over the Ork Skulsmash reeverz.

Lord Summervale: The two teams line up for the kick. The Cheez-Ballerz have both Gutter Runnerz on the field and their back-up thrower Mild Chedda' is in the dug-out. The Goat Herders have a beastman runner, Payne ready in reserves.

Mad Johan: Unsurprisingly, the Cheez-Ballerz have the minimum number of players on the line. Both of their Blitzers are on the near side of the field. Meanwhile, the Goat Herders have stacked the line leaving only Todd Organgrinder and Gore back as safeties.

Lord Summervale: The kick is up..... Boom! King Chedda' scampers over and picks-up the ball. The line rats let out a squeal and put their backs into. They manage to push the line of scrimmage back, while the Blitzers bust a hole on the flanks. The Gutter Runners dash through the gap and make for the back field.

Mad Johan: You do not want those Gutter Runners loose in your back field. Now's the time to try and take them out!

Lord Summervale: Indeed, Gore comes up from his safety position and blitzes the lead Gutter Runner, but can not make solid contact with the slippery rat. Meanwhile, Winston Azhander lumbers through the line of scrimmage and towards King Chedda'

Mad Johan: He will never get there in time to stop the pass.

Lord Summervale: Meanwhile, the far side defenders have dropped back from the line to act as a deep defense.

Mad Johan: That really opens the field up for this little blighters.

Lord Summervale: King Chedda' steps up into the pocket created by his blitzers and dumps a quick pass to Rotten Rochefort who turns up field and turns on the speed.

Mad Johan: No one can catch him....

Lord Summervale: …. and just like that the Skaven have scored their first touch down. Wow, that was fast.

Both teams head back to the line and set-up for the kick. This time, the Goat Herders are going to get the ball. They look like they are ready to form a quick cage around the runner Grafitti. This time, the Skaven are playing deep, with the sides relatively clean.

Boom! There is the kick!

Mad Johan: The Goat Herders need to play ball control after seeing how fast the Cheez-ballerz scored.

Lord Summervale: Grafitti gets the ball and starts heading to the far side of the field. The Chaos cage quickly forms around him as they press to the line. The Goat Herders start pushing the Skaven back.

Mad Johan: A terrific block by Arson sends Swanky Swiss to the dug-out K.O.ed. Winston Azhander also pummels his man....err....rat.

Lord Summervale: The speedy Skaven blitzers close in on the Chaos cage. But, the leading chaos warriors are ready for them.

Mad Johan: Woah! Winston Azhander smashes through another rat at the line. He is a one man scrimmage line. Gore stuns his foe, and Murder sends Mild Chedda' to the K.O. Box too.

Lord Summervale: Not to be outdone, the Munster of the Midway and Horrible Havarti team-up to send Todd Organgrinder to the K.O. Box too. The cage is collapsing.

However, Grafitti steps up in the collapsing pocket and proves skaven are not the only ones who can throw! He tosses it to Hack in the back field who brings it down, tucks it and runs in for a touchdown!

Mad Johan: The Goat Herders were able to get penetration all across the Cheez-ballerz line and get runners behind the line of scrimmage. That touchdown was due to line play as much as passing.

Lord Summervale: The two teams line-up for the kick-off. This looks like it is going to be a shoot out. The Skaven set-up to try and overwhelm the far side of the Goat Herd line. Boom! The kick is up, and as it is up, the Goat Herders quickly re-arrange to foil the Skaven's plan.

Mad Johan: Perfect defense!

Lord Summervale: Maybe not. The Cheez-Ballerz manage to get some penetration at the line. King Chedda' collects the ball and begins to head up field. His Gutter Runners make for the gaps with a lineman blocker leading the way.

Mad Johan: That's smart play to protect his offensive weapons.

Lord Summervale: The Chaos team quickly responds and starts to seal off any gaps with brutal efficiency. Winston Azhander manages to penetrate into the back of the Cheez-Baller line and get in King Chedda's face.

Stinky Limburger gets into the backfield, and King Chedda' tries to air it out to him. It is a difficult throw, and Winston Azhander knocks it down loose on the Skaven side of the line.

Mad Johan: Azhander is a strong contender for MVP right now!

Lord Summervale: The Goat Herder line play is taking a toll as Brisbane Skullthumper takes Catastrophe Colby off the field and Winston Azhander does the same to King Chedda'! The bestaman Payne picks up the ball and starts heading for the endzone, but a pair of Cheez-ballerz manage to get back to try and slow him down.

Mad Johan: Finally, Murder manages to get his hands around the scrawny neck of Rotten Rochefort and take him out of the game. You have to eliminate the Gutter Runners as soon as possible.

Lord Summervale: The rest of the Cheez-ballerz seem to realize that the effort is lost and try to dodge away from the rampaging Chaos team. As the half winds down to a close, Murder runs it into the end zone for a Chaos Touchdown! That puts the Chaos Goat Herders up 2-1 at the half.

Mad Johan: 5 Cheez-Ballerz are out in the dug-out. You know what I say Summervale. If more than a quarter of your team is in the dug-out, you will have a hard time winning.

Lord Summervale: Indeed, let's see if the Cheez-ballerz can turn it around in the second half. Now, we will send you back to the Cabalvision IV studios for a half-time report and a word from our sponsors.

**      **        **        **        **

Lord Summervale: Welcome back to live coverage of this qualifying match between the Chaos Goat Herders and the Skaven Cheez-Ballerz for the Princess Owayanna Healing Bottled Water Cup. The Goat Herders have the lead 2 -1 thanks to punishing play led by Winston Azhander and the Beastman Murder.

Mad Johan: The rate those two were going, they were planning on taking out the entire Cheez-Baller line up!

Lord Summervale: Indeed! It looks like Mild Chedda and another line rat have recovered enough to return to the game. On the Goat Herder side Todd Organgrinder is still out. The two teams line up for the kick-off as the Chaos team gets ready to receive.

Mad Johan: Based on how the two teams lined up, it looks like the Goat Herders plan on pounding it right up the center of the Skaven team. The Chaos team needs to maintain control of the ball through the second half as we know those Skaven can score faster than food through a goose.

Lord Summervale: Boom! The kick is up! Asquith Kneecapper puts Stinky Limburger right back into the K.O. Dug-out right off the line.

Mad Johan: I guess he wasn't quite ready to get back on the field yet.

Lord Summervale: Grafitti grabs the ball and starts heading towards the line. Mild Chedda' manages to sneak through the line of scrimmage. He and Catastrophe Colby rush Grafitti and smash him to the ground and send the ball loose deep in the Chaos backfield! However, it pops up and Arson the Beastman comes up with it for now.

Murder drops back and smashes Catastrophe Colby to the ground and sends him to the K.O. Box!

Mad Johan: At this rate, the Cheez-ballerz won't even have a team left by the end of the game.

Lord Summervale: Arson has plenty of room to run as there are very few Cheez-ballerz left to stop him. Mild Chedda' is doing all the work as he dodges away from Murder and chases down Arson, but he can't quite take him down.

Mad Johan: A big collision on the far side of the field between the Munster of the Midway and Payne, sends Payne off the field. A bit of payback for the Cheez-Ballerz!

Lord Summervale: The beastman Malice knocks Horrible Havarti away, leaving the path to the end zone clear for Arson. Which he hoofs it in for the score!

Mad Johan: That took up about half the time left on the clock. With what the Cheez-ballerz have left on the field, I doubt they can pull off the tie much less a win.

Lord Summervale: It will be tough for sure. However, it looks like King Chedda', Feta Fiend, and Stinky Limburger are back on the field. Payne is coming back out for the kick-off too.

Mad Johan: The Goat Herders are going with a double deep line across the board to try and keep the Cheez-ballerz out of the back field.

Lord Summervale: The Cheez-Ballerz are missing Rotten Rocheforte right now as they line up.

Here's the kick! Boom! The skaven get a jump on the play due to a quick snap. Horrible Havarti snags the kick from the air and gets ready to run.

Pepper Jack and Feta Fiend spring the near side open and Horrible Havarti dashes along the sideline. Here comes Violence the Beastman from the safety position, he has zeroed in on Horrible Havarti. He easily pushes the speedy Gutter Runner towards the crowd, but does not knock him down!

Horrible Havarti tries to dodge by Violence, but the beastman manages to trip him up and the ball goes loose.

Mad Johan: It looks like that is that for the Cheez-ballerz hopes in the tournament.

Lord Summervale: Violence fails to pick-up the ball. The Cheez-ballerz try to scramble and push their way through the line of scrimmage to get the ball, but will not make it. Horrible Havarti reaches for it, but Violence keeps him back.

The clock winds down to the end, and no one has possession of the ball as the two teams jostle and push each other. It takes a few moments for the teams to realize the game is over. The Skaven slink back to their dug-out, while the Chaos fans begin to roar their frenzied chants to their dark gods.

Mad Johan: The Chaos fans got their gate admissions worth today! The Chaos Goat herders advance to the Semi-final round to face the Dwarf Rock-N-Rollers.

Lord Summervale: Our sideline grots are reporting that Rotten Rochefort is badly hurt, but the Clan Skyre and Clan Moulder physician team assures me that he will be ready to play in their next game no matter what.

Mad Johan: Good to hear I guess. Today's MVP for the Cheez-Ballerz is Stinky Limburger. He was taken out by K.O. Twice, but still someone found a way to get back into the game and help his depleted team. The game ended with him still playing! That is the kind of tenacity a team like the Cheez-Ballerz needs.

For the Goat Herderz, it was a tougher call. For the first half, Winston Azhander was a one warrior army! However, he was much quieter in the second half of the game. Meanwhile, our MVP managed to score 1 Touch Down and by my count 3 Casualties. The Chaos MVP is the beastman Murder!

Lord Summervale: Well, that wraps up today's qualifying match for the Princess Owayanna Healing Bottled Water Cup between the Skaven Cheez-ballerz and the Chaos Goat Herders. The Goat Herders move to the next round with a 3-1 victory over their opponents.

Thanks to Guillotine Razors, the best a human can get; for their additional support for this program. We now return you to the Cabalvision IV studios. See you for the Semi-finals!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Blood Bowl: Princess Owayanna Tournament Report- Dwarfs vs. Chaos

Lord Summervale: Warm wishes from the Chaos Wastes as Mad Johan and myself bring you coverage of the Princess Owayanna Bottled Healing Water Tournament for Cabalvision IV. You will be watching coverage of the tournaments first round play between the Gridiron Gravediggers fromt the Chaos Wastes and the Dwarf Rock-N-Rollers.

Mad Johan: The Gridiron Gravediggers are the oldest deep of the Deep North League- Southern Regional Conference, but they have gone through a lot of changes over the years.

Lord Summervale: This year, they are entering the season in a rebuilding year as they have lost their crowd favorite Minotaur in the off-season.

Mad Johan: I saw his picture when I was eating breakfast this morning... on the side of my milk carton. Hopefully, he will turn up safe and sound.

Lord Summervale: Indeed. This Dwarf team has taken on some hard-hitting teams in the past and I don't expect them to back down from the challenge today. Team captain and runner Harry Harryson had this to say....

Harry Harryson: Ack... I have heard all my life that this Chaos Warriors think they are some 'ard blokes. Let's see how they fare against some rock 'ard competition.

Mad Johan: He sounds confident, but in the pre-season they only managed to tie the Skulsmash Reeverz. Not exactly a rock solid record.

Lord Summervale: Despite the tie, they did go yard-for-yard and hit-for-hit against a hard hitting opponent.

Mad Johan: I guess. This conference is pretty bashy with an Ork, two Chaos, and a Khemri team. I guess we will see if they measure up to the competition.

Lord Summervale: Lord Graf the Unpleasant of the Gravediggers and Harry Harryson of the Rock-N-Rollers have come out for the coin toss. They start the pre-game handshake, but it soon diverges into an arm-wrestling competition before refs can separate them to get down to business.

The coin is up, and the Dwarfs win the toss. Lord Graf makes some crack about Dwarf-tossing and a brawl almost breaks out immediately. The refs manage to hold everything together long enough for the Dwarfs to decide to take the ball first.

With that, the kick is up. Boom!

Mad Johan: You would think that a bunch of beastmen could get a better kicker?

Lord Summervale: The kick is...erm....short?

Mad Johan: Now you're getting in on it too!

Lord Summervale: A missed block up front by Crazy Ivan opens a gap and lets Goat Boy Lif and Ug Da' Natural to dive deep into the backfield of the Rock-N-Rollers early. However, Ferro Ironbreaker picks up the oncoming rush with a punishing hit on Goatboy. This allows Harry Harryson to make for a small gap in the Chaos line.

Mad Johan: Another big collision! This time between Krong and Mad Oleg, makes that gap even possible.

Lord Summervale: There is some jostling up front, and Grrrra manages to come around the wing and blitz Harry Harryson from the back. Both go down, and the ball flies loose.

Mad Johan: Dwarf Blitzer Roz Shaft does his patented move, “Da Shaft” and sends Krong the Fister to the dug-outs for the rest of the game! Ouch!

Lord Summervale: Dwarf Blocker Brock Rocksolid manages to haul in the ball from a bounce, the Beastman Lothar in the process! The Rock-N-Rollers go to work and bash the line of scrimmage wide open!

Mad Johan: Oh, well it looks like Evig managed to dodge around Ferro Ironbreaker, and blitz Brock Rocksolid in the back!

Lord Summervale: Another mad scrum for the ball has broken out.

Mad Johan: Another crushing hit between Mad Oleg and Killa da Kind sends the beastman to the dug out. Then, on the other side of the pitch, Crazy Ivan sends Goatboy Lif to the dug-out! The Rock-N-Rollers are thinning out this Chaos team pretty fast!

Lord Summervale: The ball exchanges hands pretty fast and dirty as it bounces around. However, Kronk the Beastman rolls out holding the ball. He tries to toss it down field to Grrra, but the beastman receiver drops the ball.

Mad Johan: That gives the Chaos defense a bit of breathing room considering they are down 4 players right now.

Lord Summervale: Harry Harryson drops back and gets the ball, but Kronk blitz him and the ball is loose again.

Mad Johan: The cold weather here in the Chaos Wastes seems to be making this ball hard to hold on to!

Lord Summervale: As the clock ticks down, both teams just start to ignore the ball and instead just start pushing each other around. As the half ends, the ball is just sitting there on the line of scrimmage with no one paying any attention to it.

Mad Johan: The Gridiron Gravediggers probably want some payback after losing 4 guys to the box! But, if you want to win the game and advance in the Tournament, you have to score some points.

Lord Summervale: Indeed! Well, as we go into the half we will return you to the Cabalvision IV studios for a look at games around the Olde World and a word or three from our sponsors. The score here in the Chaos Wastes is still 0-0.
** ** ** ** **

Lord Summervale: Welcome back to today's Princess Owayanna Healing Bottled Water tournament game between the Gridiron Gravediggers from the Chaos Wastes and the Dwarf Rock-N-Rollers. We are still all tied up at 0-0, but the Gravediggers are going to receive this half.

Mad Johan: Well, what is left of them anyway. 3 Beastman and 1 Warrior are still in the dug-out. However, their back-up Beastman Ench Varner has taken the field. They need all the help they can get!

Lord Summervale: The kick is up..... and the Dwarf team goes to work right away! The ball lands close to the sidelines, but the closest player is a rushing Dwarf Blocker! The Gravediggers will have to move fast!

The Beastman Evig scoots over and collects the ball while Grrra takes out the oncoming Dwarf blocker.

Mad Johan: It looks like the Chaos Warriors, Lord Graf and Uckleif are making a gap in the center of the Dwarf line.

Lord Summervale: Despite the Rock-N-Rollers moving up to fill it, the Gridiron Gravediggers bash it open and Evig manages to race through. It is up to Harry Harryson to stop the Chaos drive in a 1-on-1 situation!

Mad Johan: You call that a hit! It was more like a love tap from Harry!

Lord Summervale: Perhaps, but it gives the rest of the Rock-N-Rollers time to get back and contain the threat. This time, Harry finished his man.... errr.... Beastman.... as he lays out Evig and forces him to cough up the ball.

Ferro Ironbreaker if there to scoop up the ball and head towards the end zone. It doesn't look like the Gravediggers have anything left to stop them with.

Mad Johan: Mad Oleg just put Kronk in the crowd and cleared the way for Ironbreaker to run it in!

Lord Summervale: Indeed! And that is what happens. Ferro Ironbreaker runs it into the end zone huffing and puffing. However, that puts his team in the lead!

Mad Johan: Thankfully, Killa Da' Kind comes out of the K.O.ed box for the Gravediggers. However, this team is in a tight spot. They are down by one, and are not exactly known for their quick strike ability!

Lord Summervale: The two teams line up for the kick-off. Boom! It is up and Ench Varner is back to receive it.

Mad Johan: What! Someone from the stands just hit Ench Varner with a rock! Down he goes!

Lord Summervale: That was unexepcted! The Chaos Warriors on the line try to punch through, and make a gap. However, a missed block by Evig allows a Dwarf blocker through to Ug Da' Natural who has the ball. However, he stiff arms the blocker away and stays upright.

Mad Johan: The Rock-N-Rollers were ready for this play and quickly sealed the hole back up.

Lord Summervale: This time, two Dwarfs get to Ug, and he goes down and the ball comes loose.

Mad Johan: Beastman #10.... Lothar.... shows a bit of life and smashes Rocksmelter into the turf. The meat wagon will have to collect him after that hit!

Lord Summervale: Ench Varner recovers enough and tries to get the ball again, but fumbles it.

With that, time runs down as the two teams push and shove at each other. The Dwarf Rock-N-Rollers have beaten the Gridiron Gravediggers 1-0. The Gravediggers have been eliminated from the tournament.

Mad Johan: Thankfully, we are all ready in the Chaos Wastes and they won't have far to go!

Lord Summervale: The Rock-N-Rollers have now joined the Nottingham Nobles and the Da' Rat Packers in the semi-final round. However, their opponent will be the winner of the Chaos Goat Herders vs. the Skaven Cheez-Ballerz which is still to be played.

Mad Johan: Neither team played particularly well with a lot of fumbling and blown assignments. However, the Rock-N-Rollers made fewer mistakes and frankly I was surprised at how rusty the Gridiron Gravediggers looked.

Lord Summervale: True, but who do you think the respective MVPs were for this match?

Mad Johan: Well, Ferro Ironbreaker needs to be considered for recovering the ball and running downfield to score, but ultimately it was Mad Oleg who allowed him to break loose with a great down field block that sent a Chaos defender into the crowd. Mad Oleg is my Rock-N-Roller MVP this match.

The Gravedigger MVP is a bit harder. I'm going Lothar as he was the only Chaos player that seemed to show any inclination to do what Chaos players do best. Hurt people.

Lord Summervale: The injury report is coming in now from our sideline Grots. That hit from Lothar injured Strom Rocksmelter's back, that will probably effect him the rest of his career. Krong the Fister and Ug Da' Natural will be back next game as he was only badly hurt. Meanwhile, it sounds like the mortician has been summoned for Killa Da' Kind.

Mad Johan: Ouch! Well, at least they will eat well tonight.

Lord Summervale: That wraps up tonight's coverage of the Princess Owayanna Healing Bottled Water Tournament. The Dwarf Rock-N-Rollers defeated the Gridiron Gravediggers 1-0. Today's match was sponsored by Princess Owayanna's Healing Bottled Water, it quenches your thirst and heals what ails ya'! This is Lord Summervale and Mad Johan signing off. Thanks for watching Cabalvision IV.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Men of Bronze: Battle Report- Desecrate the Sacred

As Phillip II, army marched south from Macedon and into Greece the rival Greek city-states prepared to resist. Of course, Phillip was a canny warrior and political operative. As his main force moved to the decisive battle in Chaeronea, he split off small forces of soldiers to desecrate and destroy shrines and temples sacred to his opponents. He wanted them to be demoralized and prove that not even the gods could save them from his armies. As one of these detachments came to a shrine to Apollo, they encountered the unexpected. A pilgrimage of Spartan warriors and their Helot followers and made a pilgrimage to the site.

The Spartans were no friends of the Thebans or their Boetian League. However, when the Macedonian officer demanded they remove themselves from the shrine, he challenged their laconic sense of pride. The Spartan commander simply responded, “Move us.... if you can.”

Such disrespect made the young Macedonian commanders blood boil in rage. He would show these impudent Spartans who the new rulers of Greece were. He ordered his men and allied Thessalian infantry to prepare to attack.

Clearly, this is an “ahistoric” battle. There is no evidence that Phillip waged spiritual warfare against the Greeks, and there is very little chance that a Macedonian Phalanx would have come to blows with a Spartan contingent north of Thebes; if at all. However, I wanted a small battle that used the models that I had painted at the moment, so this is what we get....


1 Elite Phalanx
1 Psiloi
1 Peltast
- 18 Points

1 Macedonian Phalanx
1 Militia Hoplite
-18 points

This will be a Desecrate the Sacred scenario. The Spartans would be the defenders of the shrine that would be placed in the rough center of the 4x3 board. The shrine would be difficult terrain. The defenders can place 1 unit in the shrine, while the others come in from the board edge. Meanwhile, the Macedonians would come in from the opposite board edge.

If the Macedonians could keep a unit in the ruins for 1d3 turns, they would desecrate the place. The Spartans just had to keep them out.

The Spartans choose to place their Phalanx in the shrine, with their Peltasts and Psiloi rushing on to relieve them. The Macedonians lined up with their main phalanx heading straight for the shrine, and their allies to their left in the field. The Macedonians and the Spartans begin in Phalanx, while the others (including the Thessalians) are in open order.

Turn 1:
Both sides collect their Arete points. 2 for the Macedonians, and 3 for the Spartans. The Spartans bid 1 for initiative to the Macedonian 0.

The helot Psiloi use another point to go into Skirmish mode and rush through the shrines grove. The Peltasts move up on the other side of the shrine. The Macedonians do not try to interrupt and the Spartans choose to hold their ground.

The Macedonians and their allies press forward, with the Thessalians staying in Open Order.

Turn 2:
Arete points are distributed again, and the Spartans again bid one to go first.

The Spartans repeat the last turn as the reinforcements move up. Again, the Spartan Hoplites stay in position and wait. The Macedonian Phalanx halts as the Thessalians move forward in open order. The Spartan Peltasts and the Thessalians look like they might be in a race to get to the side of the shrine.

Turn 3:
This time, no one bids any Arete points for Initiative. The Macedonians win the roll off.

The Thessalians move up towards the Spartan flank and form a Phalanx of their own.

The Spartans decide to try to interrupt. However, they fail.

The Macedonian officer decides the time is not right for a charge, and marches up towards the shrine. His men start to hurl taunts at the Spartans and dare them to come out of the Shrine and face them like men, and not cower behind the gods.

The Psiloi pay a point and skirmish from the grove and into the shrine. The Spartan Peltast also rush forward, but know they are too far away to hit the Thessalians with their Javelins.

Turn 4:
Both sides get their Arete Points. The Macedonians will need their points to declare a charge. However, the Spartans could get first turn and charge first IF they go first. This will likely be the decisive turn.

The Spartans bid 2 Arete Points, while the Macedonians bid 0.

The Psiloi clamber through the Shrine and move up to support their masters in the inevitable charge. Meanwhile, the Peltasts do the unthinkable and use the last Spartan Arete Point to declare a charge on the flank of the Thessalian Militia Phalanx! Both sides lose 1 Courage in the ensuing melee. However, the Peltast quickly come to their senses about what they have done and start to waver!

Seeing the flank attack he had planned fall apart, but knowing that the Spartans can not counter-charge, the Macedonian officer orders his own charge into the shrine. The Psiloi jump in to support the Spartan line. Being in the shrine gives the Spartans a +1 to their armor, making them Armor 4 in Phalanx!

There is a great clash and the Macedonians are pushed back from the walls of the shrine 1 base width as the Spartans start to push the Macedonians back.

Turn 5:
Now, it is all about the push of shield, spear, and pike as both sides are fully engaged. Neither side bothers to bid for Initiative as the time for manuever is over. Instead, they save their points for re-rolls.

The Spartans win the roll-off and decide to complete the melee in the center first. The Spartan commander does not expect the Peltasts to hold the Militia Phalanx of the Thessalians for another turn. They need to defeat the Macedonian Phalanx quickly. Again, the Spartans use the advantage of the Shrine and avoid any serious injury. The Macedonians are beginning to re-think their arrogance and begin to waver. However, the Spartans have pushed the Macedonians straight out of the shrine and no longer will benefit from its cover.

The Thessalians re-dress their lines to face the Peltast threat quickly. The Militia Phalanx is much better suited for close combat. They quickly reduce the wavering peltasts 2 more Courage, but lose 1 in return.
Turn 6:
Again, no one bids for initiative. The Macedonians win the roll-off, and decide to fight with the Thessalians first. As expected, the Militia Phalanx easily sees off the Peltasts and forces them to rout. Will it be in time to save the main Macedonian Phalanx?

In the main melee, the wavering Macedonian Phalanx fails to make headway against the elite Spartan Phalanx. In fact, they are reduced a further courage point and pushed back another 2 basewidths.

At this rate, the Macedonians will be routed in 2 more turns. Can the Thessalians reform and get back in time to help support their comrades?

Turn 7:
This time, the Spartans bid both Arete Points, while the Macedonians bid 1 to go first.

The Spartans are determined to make a decisive push on the Macedonian Phalanx and rout them! They do not manage to route them, but reduce them to only a single courage point remaining, and push them back 2 more basewidths.

The Thessalians break into open order and race towards the shrine. They are at the walls!

Turn 8:
The Spartans and the Macedonians both get their two Arete Points. Neither side bids any. The Macedonians go first and move the Thessalians into the shrine. They only need to be in the shrine 1 full turn to desecrate it! There is no way the Spartans can stop them.

Heartened, the Macedonians put up one last effort before turning tail and running for it. The Spartans are reduced 1 Courage, and the Macedonians are routed.

The Spartan commander turned as the first flames licked up around the edges of the shrine. A handful of priests rushed out screaming in terror, followed by a wickedly grinning group of Thessalians. He looked over his weary men and pointed his bloodied Xiphos back to the Shrine.

Let us take our vengeance!” he shouted.
The weary Spartans turned back and saw that their efforts were for not, and the rage of Ares returned the strength to their limbs. They tossed aside shattered spears, drew their short swords, and grimly marched back tot eh shrine to take a bloody revenge on those who despoiled that which was under their protection. The punishment for their failure to defend it could come later. Now was time to murder.

This was my first time playing Menof Bronze at a lower point level. The fewer units and fewer Arete Points definitely gives a different challenge. You can not do whatever you wish and you need to think about how you are going to apply each unit in search of Victory.

I was satisfied with my strategy, but things did not work out exactly as I had hoped. The Macedonian Phalanx proved a little bit more resilient than I had hoped, and the Thessalian Militia more than a match for Peltasts. Plus, the roll of 1 for Desecration turns was just a bit of bad luck. I have no doubt my Elite Spartans could have routed the Thessalian Milita.... even if they attacked in Open Order against their Phalanx. Oh well, Hermes was not on our side today. However, it was very satisfying routing that haughty Macedonian Phalanx so decisively.

Hopefully I can get some more Greeks painted up soon so I can do some larger battles of Men of Bronze soon with fully painted Spartan, Corinthian, or Macedonian armies.