Monday, May 18, 2020

Battle Report: Broken Legions- Oracle of the Unknown Gods

The old tales told of an ancient temple high is the mountains above Dacia.  It was far away and a remote place.  For several days the party had scaled twisting mountain trails, crossed treacherous chasms, and scaled impossible slopes.  Then, eventually they stepped off a mountain trail and into a beautiful vista.  Perched aside a towering mountain, hidden from view below was a wonderful and grassy plateau.  How such a garden could exist here could only be explained as the will of the gods. 

 Exactly which gods held sway, no one could be certain.  However, there is no doubt that they made such an idyllic plateau possible.  Untended and ill-kept was a long forgotten temple.  That must be the sacred shrine.  Inside was rumored to be ancient and holy relics, power and wealthy, but so much more.  The party stepped off the mountain trail and into the plateau. 

On the far side, another group of men could be seen!  How was this possible?  Truly, the gods were trying to protect their secrets!  For only they could draw two parties of warriors to this place?  Perhaps it was not the paradise it appeared?  Perhaps it was a beautiful sepulcher instead? 

Broken Legions is a game set in a Fantastical Roman Empire of myth and legend.  The power of Rome is propped up by more than just the strength of her arms, but by the magic, mystical, power of the gods.  Various forces are vying to find the favor of the gods for their own ends, and to free themselves from the yoke of Rome. 

Today, a band of Greek Argonauts have been led to the ancient lost Oracle by the whispers of Hera and their own meticulous research.  The Sons of Spartacus have been drawn to the Oracle of the Unknown Gods by the whispers of the washer women, and local slaves who claim the oracle can help them reach their freedom. 

The Forces 

The Argonauts- The Archaeon League
Argonuat Hero- Aegis
Herculean Champion- Demetrius the Brazen
2 Argonauts- Xanthippus and Cleomones
5 Mercenary Holpites
3 Mercenary Archers

Sons of Spartacus- The House of Leptis Minoris
Arena Champion- Hector (mounted)
Doctore- Janus
1 Mounted Gladiator
4 Assorted Gladiators

The objective is the Oracle of the Unknown Gods located in the shrine at the center of the board.  In addition, there are two other objectives on the board to be discovered by the warbands.  The party with the most VPs at the end of 10 turns wins. 

The table is a 4 by 4 foot table with the Oracle of the Unknown Gods set in the middle.  Also on the table is a sacred grove, a secondary temple complex, and some smaller ruins.  They are all overgrown with shrubs and have been long abandoned.  One objective is within the Sacred Grove, while another is outside one of the temple complexes entrances.

The warbands are coming from opposite sides of the table.  For the Argonauts, Aegis and Demetrius take up a westward position, while Xanthippus leads the Archers in the center, and Cleomenes takes the bulk of the Hoplites on the right.

The Sons of Spartacus have Hector and his fellow rider in the center.  Janus, a gladiator, and a bow armed gladiator cover the sacred grove, while two other gladiators move to toward the other objective.     

Turn 1:
The Sons of Spartacus win Initiative.

Hector and his companion ride bravely forward, right to the edge of the shrine.  The rest of the Gladiators move forward, but much slower than their leader.  Janus let's the Sagitarius (archer Gladiator) lead the way as he stays nearby ready to support.

The Argonuats are all on foot, like good Greeks should be.  They also move up.  They tend to hunker closer together, with the archers in the center ready to support in either direction.

Turn 2: 
The Sons win again.

The two sides again move forward, with the Sons of Spartacus horseman staying in cover by the main shrine.  The Argonauts move up much slower, but closer together for mutual support.

The Sons of Spartacus Sagitar takes a pair of long shots at the lead Mercenary Hoplite, but the shots fail to find their mark.

Turn 3: 
The Sons of Spartacus continue to win the Initiative.

The Sagitar moves into the grove to collect the half buried artifacts found there.  Janus had taken cover behind some brush.  Good thing, as several Greek Archers take pot shots at him, but miss.

Meanwhile, Aegis his companions move to acquire the artifacts at the foot of the secondary temple.  However, they are set upon by a duo of Gladiators, and Hector himself rides into the melee looking for Glory.

On the Other side, Cleomenes and his troops move to the entrance to the main grove, but there they are also set upon by Janus, Gladiator, and an Equis.  Whoever wins that combat will be able to enter the main sanctuary and locate the Oracle to the Unknown Gods.

In the Melee phase, things start to heat up as general engagements are all around.  The Retarius attacks Aegis, who deftly avoids the enemies attacks and avoids becoming ensnared.  Aegis' return attackers are also fruitless.  Demetrius steps in to assist his Captain against his foe.  As a bodyguard, Demetrius can re-roll a failed attack with a successful presence test.  He succeeds and re-doubles his efforts, this time he manages to wound the Retarius.  Gladiators can take 2 wounds, while most models can only take 1. 

Hector charges down a mercenary Hoplite on his stead.  However, the Hoplites shield holds true against the Gladiators cavalry spear.  The Hoplites return thrust is easily parried by Hector's shield.  The remaining Gladiator and Hoplite also battle inconclusively with each other.

At the entrance to the Shrine, the Mercenary Hoplites try to fight off the Gladiator's led by Janus.     The fighting here is also inconclusive as the two sides clang sword and spear against shield.  It looks like both sides are settling in for a long slog.

Turn 4: 
The Sons of Spartacus have the initiative.

It begins with Janus trying to Challenge to face him one-on-one.  However, after scurrying through the rules, it is determined that Cleomenes as an Argonaut is only a Henchman after all, while Janus is a Hero.  No challenge can be made.  Hector however can Challenge Aegis and does to single combat!  The Greek accepts and the combatants make way for each other.   

Despite having the Initiative, most of the Sons are locked in Combat.  The Sagitar continues his duel with the Greek archers, but fails to find a mark.  Cleomenes the Mad (an Argonaut) runs up into the Oracle of the Unknown Gods and claims the objective.... for now.

Xanthippus (another Argonaut) moves away from the Greek archers and engages Janus the Doctore along with the Hoplite all ready fighting the Gladiator Hero.  One of the Greek Archers manages to hit the Sagitar and manages to wound the Gladiator.  The Sagitar is broken from the shot and turns to flee.

Xanthippus' charge is successful.  He drives his spear into Janus' thigh.  The Doctore is momentarily stunned by the attack, and his will to fight is broken.  He jumps back from the melee to gain some distance and breathing room.  This leaves two Hoplites fighting the Equis. 

Meanwhile, Aegis and Hector battle in their clash of Champions.  This leaves the Secutor gladiator fighting two Mercenary Hoplites, while Demetrius takes on the Retarius.  The two champions battle to a stand still with blades bouncing off shields.  however, in the swirling melee, Aegis' gladius' tip slashes across Hector's spear bearing forearm drawing blood.  This causes Hector to break off from the fight and ride away.  He takes the time to start to bandage his wound and glare at the petulant Greek Hero.

(The Gladiator's seem prone to being Broken today!  It must be tough to have two wounds!)       

The Retarius manages to Ensnare Demetrius in his Net.  However, it isn't enough to stop the big brute from smashing the Retarius to the ground with a body block.  It looks like the Retarius is down for the count after that hit.

The Secutor has better luck and downs one of the Mercenary Hoplites with a well-placed sword thrust.  However, he must contend with his fellow still.  However, the Son of Spartacus has no trouble fending off the probing spear of his foe.

The Hoplomachus Gladiator at the foot of the temple grapples with his foe in a spear battle.  the Gladiator Crits and converts it into another successful attack.  The Mercenary saves two of the three hits, before the Galdiator's spear finds a weak point in the defense and strikes home.  The Hoplite is downed.

Likewise the Equis fights a Mercenary as well. This time, the height advantage from his mount is decisive and another Hoplite goes down.  however, his friend fills the gap quickly and attacks. This battle is another draw.

Hector and the Sagitar manage to rally themselves.  However, Janus continues to flee the battle.  The Gladiators lost 1 and have their Doctore fleeing, while the Argonauts lost 3 Hoplites. Ouch all around.

Turn 5: 
The Argonauts win the initiative

Prior to the Argonauts moving, the earth at the base of the shrine begins to shudder and shake.  With an unnatural crack skin to thunder, the floor itself rises up and shapes itself into the countenance of what could only be described as some sort of godling!  The great stone beast rumbles some oath like gravel across a mountainside and attacks Cleomenes with a swing of its mighty hammer!

The cagey Spartan manages to roll with much of the blow, but is still knocked into a nearby pillar.  The Spartan straightens his helmet and leaps at the beast with a bellow of his own!  His spear splinters as he sinks it into a weak spot between the stone giants rocky slabs.  The creature groans like two boulders smashing together!

Action Phase:
Hector decided not to re-engage with Aegis and Demetrius.  Instead, he begins to ride around towards the front of the Oracle, leaving the Secutor Gladiator to his fate.

Most of the other units are locked in melee.  Aegis and Denetrius with the support of a Mercenary Hoplite near the foot of the secondary temple versus the Secutor Gladiator.  In front of the Oracle, Xanthipus and a Mercenary Hoplite are battling a Hoplomachus and Equis gladiator to control the entrance to the Oracle.

Meanwhile, the Sagitar and the Greek archers continue their archery duel.  The Sagitar strikes first and takes down one of the Greeks.  However, the return fire is enough to take the bow armed gladiator out of the fight.  All is Lost tests are not taken until each warband is down to 25% or less.

Aegis, Demetrius and the Secutor all continue their combat near the foot of the temple.  There, is some sacred inscriptions that will need to be copied and translated.  However, for now a fierce combat surges above them.  The competitors all jockey and dance for position, with blades, axes, shields, and spear tips swirling and dodging in the battle.  The Secutor is experienced in facing more than a single opponent, but eventually a shot powerful attack from Demetrius finds its mark and injures the Gladiator.  However, he gamely stays in the fight.

In the front of the shrine, the Hoplomachus and Equis continue their combat with the Mercenary Hoplite and Xanthippus.  The fight is a standstill as they all trade blows.

Janus rallies himself and turns to re-enter the fight.

Turn 6: 
Initiative is won by the Sons of Spartacus again.

The Shrine's Guardian again tries to smash Cleomenes.  However, the Spartan has gotten over his initial awe, and dodges around from the great beast.  His armor and shield protect him from several glancing blows, that send the Greek warrior bouncing from pillar to pillar.  However, the warrior manages to sink his Xyphos into the great monsters wrist during one of its passes.

Hector stays in reserve as Janus moves back up to the fighting at the front of the shrine.  Most of the rest of the combatants are locked in place.  Thanks to Cleomenes, the Greek Archers can not fire on the Guardian.  Their only target is Janus, but he is obscured behind the melee.  Their shots miss the Doctore.

The Sons want to start the fighting at the front of the Shrine.

This time, the Hoplomachus manages to out fox the Merceanry Hoplite he is facing, and send shim sprawling with a swipe of his spear butt.  This puts the Greek out of the fight as he lands awkwardly.
The Equis manages to land a blow on Xanthipus that injures the Argonaut, and the Greek falls back from the fight with his allies down.  This leaves the Sons of Spartacus in control of the Shrine entrance.

With a flourish of swordsmanship, Aegis manages to take down the Secutor he and his companions were entangled with.  This leaves the foot of the temple firmly under Greek control.  Will they be able to get over to the Shrine in a timely manner?

Xanthipus quickly rallies now that he has created some distance from his foes.

Turn 7:
Greeks win the Initiative.

It was a tough turn for the Greeks, as Cleomenes is still locked in combat with the Shrine guardian.  Cleomenes continues to dodge desperately, but the monster gets a grip on the Sparta, raises him off his feet and smashes his stone head into the mad Spartan's Helmet.  The Argonaut falls limp from the blow, and the Guardian casually tosses him aside.

Hector and Janus move towards the shrine, preparing to attack the Guardian.  Aegis and Demetrius are also trying to circle around to the front of shrine.  The gladiator Equis moves to secure the objective in the Grove, and for his efforts gets shot with arrows from the Greek Archers.  This forces him to flee!  The Hoplomachus gladiator decides to charge the newly rallied Xanthippus. 

The Hoplomachus charges into the remaining Argonaut, but the Greek stands firm behind his shield.  He responds with a push from his own shield and spear that manages to injure the Gladiator.  However, this Son of Spartacus is made of sterner stuff and stays in the fight!

Turn 8:
The Argonauts win Initiative.

The Guardian stands in the shrine, daring any to enter these sacred grounds.  His huge stone hammer held at the ready.

The Heroes of the two factions have a decision to make.  Do they fight each other first or do they team up and take out the Guardian of the Shrine?  Both of the Heroes of the Sons of Spartacus are all ready injured.  However, so is the Guardian!  If either side loses more men, they will have to start making All is Lost tests.

Aegis moves towards his archers, and uses the "Take it down!" heroic action.  Which he passes.  The Archers turn their attention on the Guardian.

With that, Hector decides to try to charge in and Support his last gladiator against Xanthippus.  Losing the Hoplomachus could have dire circumstances.  Demetrius also tries to charge into this melee and support his comrades.  Janus moves to cover ready to move in on the Guardian if the Archers injure it further.

The Archers fire.  However, the columns on the shrine thwart their shooting.

Hector attacks Demetrius with his cavalry spear.  The large Greek manages to block the attack, that causes Hector to become unsteady in the saddle (a fumble).  Demetrius sees the moment of weakness and strikes, managing to injure the Gladiator Hero.  He is down to his last HP.

Xanthippus and the Hoplomachus fight each other to a draw as spear clashes against shield.

The Gladiator Equis rallies at the edge of the valley.  He turns his horse back around and surveys the situation.

Turn 9: 
The Argonauts maintain the initiative.

The Guardian is content to stay in the Shrine and await a challenger.  His gaze carries the anger of the devine as his eye sweep the battlefield.

Aegis joins Demetrius in the battle with Hector.  Janus moves up, but can not get their in time.  The Equis also rides back towards the shrine.

The archers again fire at the Guardian.  An arrow finds the mark, but splinters on the monster's stone skin.

Aegis charges into the battle and strikes swiftly at Hector.  The Gladiator defies death as Greek heroes blade strikes and is deflected by Hector's gladiatorial medal of honor.  He survived thanks to a Fate point.  Hector's return attack with a flurry of Gladius blows on Demetrius fail to find a weak spot in the big man's armor.  The flurry of blows causes Demetrius to go on the defensive and miss his mark.   

Xanthippus and the Hoplomachus continue to be locked in combat, both with a single hit point left.

Turn 10: 
The Sons of Spartacus win the Initiative this round.

None dared enter the shrine, so the Guardian patiently awaits a challenger.

Janus manages to charge back into the combat and squares off against Aegis, then Demetrius against Hector, and Xanthippus vs. the Hoplomachus.  This will be the decisive combats.  However, Aegis challenges Hector with a Heroic Action.  Hector accepts and the two square off after all.  Janus and Demetrius pair off.

The second Equis moves to enter the shrine, but he is fired upon by the Greek archers.  One arrow manages to stick in the Equis armored sleeve, but does not injure him. 

Janus gets to attack Demetrius first.  Demetrius takes a hit, and withdraws from the combat as he is broken.

Aegis and Hector square off.  The Gladiator hero fails to injure the Argonaut captain, and the gods forsake him.  Aegis manages to slip his blade past Hector's defense and take him out of the battle with a brutal wound.  The Gladiator falls from his horse dramatically.

Engrossed in their own battle, Xanthippus and the Hoplomachus continue to spar.  The Spartans heavy armor pays off again as his Hoplon absorbs the brunt of the gladiator's attacks.  However, the Argonaut can not capitalize and the Hoplomachus parries and dodges away from any counter-attack.

Demetrius remains broken as he falls back.

The remaining Sons of Spartacus begin to take All is Lost tests.  Seeing that their leader has fallen, Janus calls for the rest of his men to fall back.  This causes the remaining Sons of Spartacus to withdraw from the valley.

The Argonauts have claimed the Valley for themselves.  However, the Shrine to the Unknown Gods is still being protected by the Guardian of the Shrine.  They will have to satisfy themselves with the runes etched into the stairs of the adjacent temple, and the treasures of the grove.  Perhaps, with a suitable offering they can appease the Guardian and access the Shrine yet. 

Argonaut victory!

Overall, a slaughter as the two sides battled relentlessly for access to the Oracle of the Unknown God.  The Gladiators all have 2 hits starting, as opposed to the Greeks that were mostly 1.  The Greeks had the numbers, but struggled to thin down the Sons of Spartacus.  However, the heavy armor of the Argonauts gave them the staying power they needed to press on.  The Sons horse also gave them great mobility, but it may not have gotten used appropriately as they got locked in combat.

Then, when the Greeks awakened the Guardian, things got real!  The Guardian was a nice added touch to the scenario.  We used the Minotaur stats, and I finally accomplished one of my long lived gaming goals to get a Skylander on the wargaming table.  It wasn't even a game of Dragon Rampant!       

Post-game, the Argonauts did okay.  Only 1 mercenary Hoplite dies.  Cleomenes the Mad recovered as did the archer.  On the Sons of Spartacus side, the Retarius died.  Hector was injured but was getting better, he had -1 Physique next game, removing some of his damage output.  The Sons earned nothing as the losers, while the Argonauts had a decent bounty of 8XP.  XP can be traded for advancements or coin to recruit.  The Greeks could easily replace their Merc Hoplite, but the Sons could not replace their Retarius.     

In my initial review of Broken Legions, I had some concerns about two elements.  The first was the crits/fumbles mechanics.  The second was how the weaponry, powers, stat lines, etc stacked to make resolving combats a bit fiddly.  In action, I can see some of my concerns were justified.  I definitely needed some cheat sheets for what my dudes were doing, and where I was rolling what.  I felt like a standard combat between two models took about 6 dice per side of the combat.  In addition, with alternate activation and a separate Melee phase some of who got to attack first, and the order of operations got a bit fiddly too.

The other issue is that I pretty much fought my warbands until they were dead due to how the All is Lost rules are written.  Models will turn away from a fight pretty easily, but warbands tend to fight until they are decimated and can not be rebuilt.  Then the losers in the campaign do not get enough to start to replace lost models.  If you lose a few games you are out of the campaign quick.

I love the idea and theme behind this game.  It has a lot of good flavor and concepts behind it. I think the mechanics still need another once over, but I can overlook some of that if the story I can tell on the tabletop is good.  Since I have forces I will probably play again!

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  1. Thank you for a cool battle report and for your further thoughts on the game. The setting of swords & sandals is certainly cool.

    1. I enjoy a good Peplum movie, you know ones like Hercules vs...., Samson and the...., or Maciste takes on.....; you know the type.

      This let me try to play out some of those movies on the table.