Monday, April 8, 2024

Wargame Design: All Sizzle and No Stakes

 

I love B-movies, and I have for a long time.  The hey-days of Golan Globus, Cannon Films, AIP, and many, many more.  Now-a-days, they are much easier to track down and are often available for free.  Streaming services are starving for content, and B-movies provide it in spades. 

A famous B-movie schlockmaster, perhaps the infamous Roger Corman himself; had an old saying about a good B-movie.  If I recall correctly, it went something like; "Give them the sizzle and the steak".  Basically, he meant give the audience an interesting premise or titillating idea and then deliver on it.  Give them a reason to keep watching, and deliver on what your premise leads to.  If a movie was all sizzle and no steak, the film didn't deliver the goods.  It was a weak film in his mind.    

This saying came to mind when I was thinking about wargame design recently.  I was thinking about what made an action scene in a film compelling, what made a combat scene in an RPG exciting, and therefore what made a wargame interesting to play.  Through this thinking, reading, researching, and analysis I came to one conclusion; Stakes.  

What are the Stakes

Put simply, the stakes of a fight are why the fight is happening in the first place.  People generally do not engage in physical battle just for the luls.  It hurts and is painful.  The risks are high.  They fight for a reason.  Clausewitz said, "War is the continuation of politics by another means" or something to that effect. 

Stakes are essentially, what bad things happen if your side loses.  Of course, for individual soldiers it can be life or death.  The Stakes are very personal.  However, reading historical accounts, watching soldier interviews, and talking to soldiers; those stakes are not why they are fighting.  So when we talk about the stakes, survival is one of them; but not the most compelling one.  Survival is a baseline.   

Take RPGs as an example.  Some players feel like a character potentially dying is the "highest" level of stakes.  However, having played many RPGs myself, survival is never the goal.  That is a baseline for completing your objectives or avoiding the stakes.  Life and death in a wargame is not an interesting stake either, that is the baseline threshold to achieve your actual objectives.  

The true stakes are the consequences if you fail.  In real-historical terms the stakes are often who is the victor and who is the spoils.  In a stories and film, it is if the protagonist gets to continue complete their character arc or fulfill the larger plot points.  In RPG, it mirrors stories; but is focused on the group completing their quest or your character evolving over time.   

So, what are the stakes in a wargame?  This is much harder to discern.  Battles are one-off affairs.  Their is a winner and a loser.  Is that the stakes of a wargame?  Is that it?  

Is Winning a Compelling Enough Stake

Winning and losing are not compelling stakes for prolonged replayability.  Winning eventually gets boring if you think the game is solved.  There needs to be something more, or why keep coming back to the game? 

Winning is a baseline for accomplishing a players larger objectives.  That might be to "Get Gud", gain social status with their group, or some other personal reason.  However, winning by itself is not a long-term compelling reason to play any game.  Eventually, games that only focus on winning will get shelved.                  

There are two ways wargamers themselves try to deal with creating stakes for themselves: 

1. They create a community

2. They play campaigns

Both of these options create tangible and intangible benefits for winning and losing any single game.  Communities do this by creating a shared social experience of camaraderie and (hopefully) friendly competition.  This is often expressed in the form of a Tournament, but can also be shown with shared experiences and story-telling.   

Campaigns give direct consequences and rewards for playing.  Benefits that carry-over to the next game or consequences that happen.  These are tangible rewards.  The intangible rewards are opening up new scenarios or moving a storyline forward.  All create Stakes for winning or losing in any given game.  

You can even do both options! 


The Designers Role in Making Stakes

As designers, we know that the two ways to build Stakes into your game, and help create replayability ; follows two paths.  Therefore, you can incorporate these paths into your game.  As a designer, you can provide the tools and rules the players themselves will need to create a community or a campaign.  

I would argue that these rules are not Chrome.  They are essential to creating a fully rounded game experience.  A game where the only stakes are winning and losing will soon be shelved and fall out of favor.  

In addition, making these part of your core rules allows for you to showcase the soul of your game.  This can be done for any scale game, any time period, any genre. A lot of the flavor and feel for your game can be expanded upon and mined creating the setting or intended gameplay experience.  It should suggest ideas for the community to grab onto for discussion, storylines for campaigns, and add depth to the world the players are engaging in.  By doing so, players now have the tools to make their own stakes for the game beyond winning and losing.  Now, they own part of the game world too.  

Final Thoughts

Wargames as a stand alone battle often have no stakes.  Games without stakes will soon fall by the wayside and no longer drive player interest.   For longevity and replayability, designers need to add elements for community building and campaigns into the core rules of the game in order to create stakes.  Games with stakes are more compelling and interesting to play, and will therefore be more usable by the players.   


Bonus Content

We are getting to the end of Turn 1 of the campaign, and the forces of Chaos are surging across Powellington.  

The corruption has struck deep into the city, so deep that the Cathedral of St. Augustine in the Arcopolis was under threat!  Chaos forces attempted to breach the holy shrine by accessing maintenance tunnels beneath the Arcopolis.  The Order of St. Augustine Martyred mobilized scouting forces to go down into the underbelly of the Cathedral and deal with this sinister threat.

My Sisters of Battle were finally tapped to take action in the campaign as I was paired up with a Chaos opponent this week, Black Legionaries.  This would be a tough battle, as we also had an unusual board.  It was a board from the old first edition of Kill Team that took place inside of an enclosed area.  It was designed for tourneys, and essentially was a mirror match board.  Interesting and all news to me!  


The Heavy Bolter sister held down the right flank, and was the hero of the match.  She accounted for 3 of the 4 Chaos kills.  My left flank completely collapsed as the Chaos Possessed broke loose and the demon rampaged through the Sisters stationed there.  The interior buildings made it hard to spread out enough to avoid getting multiple Sisters in combat with the beast at once!  

In the center, there was a stand-off between the Chaos Heavy Gunner and a Melta Sister.  No one wanted to open the door separating them.  This allows the Sister Superior to rush ahead and grab some objectives deep in Chaos territory.  However, in the end it was too little and too late to stop the forces of Chaos.  

   


This was a challenging board for my girls to play on.  Their Bolt guns range did not help them too much, compared to the Legionnaires who were mostly tooled for up-close work.  In addition, the 3 APL for the Chaos forces had them move into position really quickly.  However, the Emperor's Guidance was very useful to me as was the Icon.  The relatively simple Compendium rules worked well for this old man's brain!  I think the ladies held their own, and a few even survived!  


The end of Turn 4 saw the Sisters left collapse and allowed the Chaos troops to secure and defend a key objective marker.  One more Turning Point, and I probably would have killed all the Legionaries but I still would have lost on Objective Markers.  They got there the quickest with the mostest this time.  

Chaos forces won across the board on this True Crit Gaming Guild day.  The forces of Chaos look like they will be ending Turn 1 with a lead in all warzones. 

Until next time! 


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Monday, April 1, 2024

Battle Report: In Strife and Conflict- Scouting Engagement in the Levant

 


Now that the armies for Kadesh are sorted, I figured it was time to do a playtest of the basic rules.  I have done some playtesting using templates previously, but this will be the first time with actual miniatures!  Exciting.  

I Ramses the II, he who makes mortals tremble, have marched north past the fortress of Tjel.  My intention is to reclaim the city of Kadesh and the Kingdom of Amurru.  The foolish rulers there have turned from my munificence and have taken council with King Muwatalli II from the North.  I shall teach them the error of their ways.  

As part of this effort, my might army has probed the coast scouting the best way forward.  Local vassals of the Muwatalli have come forth to challenge me.  Foolish mortals.  We shall sweep them aside like so much dust. 

At some point, the Kingdom of Amurru which was led by the city-state of Kadesh.  They had been vassals of the Egyptians in previous centuries, but overtime had drifted to the Hittite orbit.  This angered Ramessess II who wished to rebuild Egypt's empire in the Levant and return the region to Egyptian control. The year prior to the Battle of Kadesh, Egyptian forces were all ready active in the Canaanite lands.  

Today's battle will represent some of the scouting and blocking forces engaging in southern Canaan.  

Forces:

Today's battle is speculative in nature.  Therefore, we will be using the standard Lines of Battle to choose forces up to 24 points.

Egyptians

1 Light Chariot  
- Composite Bow 

1 Levy Infantry
- Bow 

1 Auxiliary Infantry

1 Archer

Hittites

1 Heavy Chariot

1 Light Chariot

Levy Infantry

Skirmishers

Mission: 
We will be playing the Scout the Area scenario found in the main rules.  The intention is not to destroy the foes, but to understand the terrain.  

For ease, we decided not to use any complications for the raid scenario.  

Set-up: 
We are using a 48 x 48 MU table, with 1 MU being 1 inch.  Therefore, a 4 by 4 space.  

The Western edge of the table is the Mediterranean Sea.  The Egyptians get the South, and the Hittites the North.  We divide the area into four zones and randomly determine terrain per the rules in the booklet.  The North side is 1 and 2, and the South is 3 and 4.  

1 = 2 level hill
2= Pond 0r Dangerous Terrain
3= Grove or Difficult Terrain
4= No terrain  

Hitties in distance with skirmishers, Levy, Heavies, and Lights. 
Near side is Egyptians with archers, levy w/bows, Auxiliary, and Lights

As normal, I am covering this battle in three phases.  I will not be talking about each individual decision, unless it is relevant.  However, I took careful notes of the outcome as this is a playtest game.  
The first two turns are the Maneuver Phase, Turns 3-6 is the Battle Phase, and turn 7-8 is the End Phase. 

Maneuver Phase
The speed of the Hittite force pays off, as they are able to grab 4 of the 6 objectives early.  


The Egyptian light Chariots go out dangerously ahead of their support to grab an objective as well.  The last objective is under the bows of the Egyptian archers, and the javelins of the Hittite skirmishers.  The skirmishers overlook it from the hill top.  


Battle Phase
The Hittites get the initiative and begin the attack! The heavy chariots manage to rumble towards the Egyptian lights at a gallop.  The Egyptians try to evade, but can not get away fast enough and are caught by the Hittites.  A swirling melee ensues and the Egyptians are pushed back.  The battle is joined by the Hittite light chariots, and things look bad for the Egyptians.  All is not lost, as the Egyptian Auxiliary infantry manages to charge into the fight.  


The Egyptian Archers manage to get the last objective, but are under threat from Hittite skirmishers on the hill top.  

Meanwhile, the Egyptians disorder the Hittite Heavy Chariot, but their Chariot forces and Auxiliary infantry are forced to fall back!  

The Archers are hit by a rain of javelins from the hill, but keep enough courage and discipline to fire on the Hittite Levy.  Along with the fire of the Levy Egyptians bows, the unit is reduced to half courage, but stays in formation. 


The Hittite Heavy Chariot hits the Egptian Levy in the flanks.  Despite the flank charge, the Levy put up fierce resistance.  Both sides are heavily injured and disordered.  The Hittite Levy join the fray, and further demoralize the beleagured Egytpians.  

The Egyptian Archers and Hittite skirmishers trade shots, but the cover of the Hilltop gives the Hittites the advantage.  


End Phase
In the fight in the center, the Egyptian Levy manages to send the Hittite Heavy Chariots and Hittite Levy packing.  However, the Egyptian Levy also have to fall back.  

However, Javelins from the Hittite Skirmishers also rout the demoralized Egyptian archer unit.  This leaves the field to the Hittites. 


Conclusion
A Hittite victory no matter how you slice it!  I did not have the speed for this mission compared to what the Hittites brought to the table.  My focus on needing to dash forward also restricted my ability to shoot and scoot with my Light Chariots, their main advantage over the Hittites.  

The Hittites grabbed 4 objectives, and I grabbed 2.  In addition, my forces were completely routed.  We did some damage to the Hittites though.  We routed their Heavy Chariots and their Levy infantry.  We also pinged some courage from the skirmishers, so it wasn't a completely 1-sided victory for them.  

In reality, I would image the Hittite Light Chariots in my rear would have made sure very few of my Egyptians made it back to the Sinai and out of Canaan.     

King Muwatali II am displeased with the Egyptian dogs entering the kingdom of my vassals.  Gather the soldiers o Hattusta so we can whip these mutts back to the desert where dogs belong.  Our mighty armies will teach them a lesson not soon forgotten.  Let us march to Kadesh! 

Final Thoughts
How did the game play function?  Well, chariots were much faster than any foot mounted troops.  That was exactly as how it was intended.  In addition, skirmishers in cover were hard to dislodge.  Everything else seemed to work as intended.

Evasion by the Light Chariots against foot foes would have worked great, but I was charged by chariots that also had Pursue.  Therefore, the two options sort of negated each other this game.  I think I need some more playtesting using evade and pursue with chariots.  I have seen Egyptian Light Chariots with bows very effectively employ hit and run tactics, but not today.      

I went back and tweaked the set-up rules a bit, because as written now they overly favored the defended.  I also did not notice that once all tokens were gathered, the game ended!  Whoops. I played that a bit differently.        

Overall, I was pleased with how it all went.  It was relatively easy to wrap your head around, with the most questions coming around joining a combat that had all ready been resolved.  I might want to add an example of play to clear up how this section of the rules works.  It is not 100% intuitive 
 as it is delayed support + charge dice rather than a full attack dice + charge dice.  More to come in that space. 

Bonus Content
I painted up a lone, 28mm Whizkids pre-primed model for a member my RPG group.  I was not super impressed with the "pre-prime" and recommend anyone else just prime them again.  They did not work well with Speedpaints at all.  Instead, I had to use my standard base and wash techniques.  


Nothing special, but now we have a full party of painted minis when we play.  Our current campaign is pretty OSR and "Combat as War" so far, so the minis on a battle mat are pretty nice to have handy.  If we are using minis, I prefer for all of them to be painted.  I'm strange that way!   

Until next time! 


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Monday, March 25, 2024

On The Painting Desk: Battle of Kadesh - The Soldiers of Hattusa March!

 
My latest rules project was focused on Assyria.  The focus would be chariot warfare, Bronze Age, and even early Iron Age warfare.  Of course, that meant one of the historical scenarios had to be the Battle of Kadesh.  Despite not having any Assyrians in it, I started building armies for Kadesh as I figured it would make a great display game and demo!  It is one of the most famous battles of all time.  

In 2023, I finished off my Egyptian army for the battle (and other scenarios) here: 


These are all 6mm from Baccus and mounted on 60 x 60mm bases.  

After finishing the Egyptians, it was time to turn to the Hittites!  I have all ready finished most of the army.  But I still have the Royal guard, with and without Bow support, and the rather large chariot corps.  

Here is the Hittite army so far....


With two infantry units left, I got to work on those first.  These guys represent the core of the Hittite army and the most disciplined of the King's forces.  I had two units, one with just the infantry, and the second with bow support built-in.  I have to say, the Baccus minis have an amazing level of detail for 6mm models and they looked great! 


My camera has a hard time getting good detail shots at 6mm!  However, I used my standard techniques and soon had two more units of Hittite infantry done.  Here is a quick photo-montage of the process.  If you have been following the project on the blog, you are well aware of the steps I take.  






So, the Guards got finished up and added to the rest of the Hittite infantry force.  Here you can see them in action at the forefront of the army. 


Next up, was the Chariot corps.  The Hittites actually made use of two types of chariots.  They used a lighter 2-man chariot and a larger, heavier 3-man chariot.  The why's and the how's are still a but up in the air.  However, many feel they used their chariots in a more "shock attack" and charging role than the Egyptians.  Egyptians preferred a mobile archery platform.      

Anyway, I realized right away that my typical techniques for painting 6mm were not going to work.  I had a hard time getting the chariot draught pole and yokes attached.  I decided to skip having those as part of the models.  It was not going to be worth the effort.  


That means I also had issues mounting them on the sticks to paint them.  I was going to have to change everything up.  I started by undercoating the horses, and then I tried to mount the light chariots and horses to their bases.  Then, I undercoated the Cars and Crew from there.  Overall, this was much harder than my preferred method.  For the Heavy Chariots, I just undercoated and did some painting separately, but again it was not as easy as the Egyptian chariots.  

Hittite Light Chariots

Once assembled on their bases, I went ahead and painted them all up and got ready to finish them off.  This was a bit harder than doing them on the sticks.  However, it was easier than I had feared.  Thankfully, the models have pretty decent detail and painting 6mm models is more like sticking a dot of paint in the right place than any real detailed painting.  

Heavy Chariots in front, Light to the rear

You will notice that like the Egyptian Pharaoh, I gave the Hittite King a four horse chariot to help them stand out a bit.  I also tried to color-code the units to help differentiate who-was-who a bit better.  Heavy's are White, Purple, and Yellow; while the Lights are Red, Green, and Blue.  This will make them easier to ID on the field at arm's length. 


From here, I finished up the bases using my usual method.  Territorial brown, a drybrush of khaki, some green ink, and black around the edges of the base.  


With that, the last step was to take a few action shots out in the arid lands of the Levant.  I also wanted a group shot with the rest of the Hittite forces.  The soldiers of Hattusa march to Kadesh under the command of King Muwatulli II.


With the armies done, I still had one last thing to complete for this project.  That was the city of Kadesh itself!  You may recall that my friend Kelly made a 3D printable version of a Bronze Age city for me.  Well, I had to get it painted up for the demo game! 


I primed it Seer Grey and busted out my Big-Box Acrylics.  I used the same basic colors as I used for the bases; Territorial Beige, Khaki, and Nutmeg Brown.  I used a few spots of color on the marketplace tents in the design.  After the base coats, I washed them with a Light tone wash.  


I made up a QRS and put it in the main rulebook this time.  I am learning!  Now, the last steps is to play-test the basic rules a bit more and the Battle of Kadesh scenario specifically.  Then, I think I am ready to take this around as a demo game for wargaming.  

Until next time! 


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Monday, March 18, 2024

Wargame Design: Do Your Mechanics Matter?

 


Mechanics are the tools you use to play-out the game on the tabletop.  There purpose is to create and end result, and output that the player uses to continue the game or get a result.  They are simply a process.  It is the result itself that is useful to the game.  Therefore, does it matter to your game what mechanisms you use to get to the end result?  

The mechanics of a game are simply the series of steps or actions that lead to the results you need to move the game forward towards its conclusion.  A process has a series of suppliers, inputs, outputs and users that make use of the process.  Mechanics can be the steps and equipment used to process the inputs for the suppliers and create outputs for the user.  In the case of Wargamers the suppliers and the Users maybe the same player, or a different player.  

In short, mechanics are simply a tool to get you from Point A to Resolution B.  Does it matter if you use one polyhedron dice over another?  Does it make a difference if you use cards rather than dice?  What about charts?  

Game designers spend a lot of time thinking about the mechanics.  Does all this thought and effort actually help make a better game? 

Restless Stars

No, It Doesn't Matter! 

Ultimately, the output is the key component of the process.  Therefore, how you get to the output you need for the game is less relevant than most designers believe.  Designer's spend time agonizing over what mechanics to use, when in the final analysis they are virtually interchangeable.  Whether you use a dice roll, a card flip, a spinner, coin flip, or a chart is irrelevant.  The only "wrong" mechanic is the one that does not generate the intended results.  

Design Goals are not met by mechanics.  They are met by outputs and results to the user.  For example, if you are trying to create uncertainty in the outcomes as a goal, it does not matter how this uncertainty is generated.  A random number generator, a card flip, or any number of mechanics can achieve the design goal, the specifics of the process are secondary and less relevant than the result itself. 

This liberates you as the designer and let's you focus on the key elements; the results of the process.  It doesn't matter which polyhedron you use, which cards you flip, what buttons are pressed.  All that matters is there is a mechanics to determine a result.  You don't have to agonize over these lesser decisions and you can focus on fulfilling your design goals instead.    

The focus in on the output of the process, and not the process itself.  One process is just as good as another.   

Restless Sun

Yes, It Matters! 

It matters because the players want more than a result from their games, they want an experience.  A wargame is more than the sum of its individual parts.  The mechanics of the game are queues on how the game itself should be played.  They highlight the components and aspects of the designer's POV that they want to highlight in their game.  This could be core mechanics, the hook, or even just the Chrome.  It is the process that gives the game flavor and soul.  

Mechanics matter because some processes are simply more efficient and better than others at achieving a result.  Consider the game Mouse Trap from Milton Bradley.  It is the definition of Over-Production as you spend the entire game slowly building a board-spanning mouse trap where the mice can only be trapped in it at the very end of the game.  The win condition of the game is to avoid the mouse trap as the players*.  This is not the most efficient method to achieve the result.  This is the classic discussion of simplicity and streamlining in game play.  Why have 12 steps in your mechanical process when 2 will do?  

A bigger factor in why mechanics matter is that the mechanics you provide, tell players what inputs and outputs are important to the game.  This will shape how they play the game.  The classic example here is XP in the original red-box Dungeons and Dragons.  You gained XP by killing monsters and getting gold coins.  Therefore, the ultimate expression of the game was killing things and getting loot.  Therefore, players started to look at every encounter from that perspective and the ubiquitous "Murder-Hobo" was the result.  That was the optimal way to be rewarded by the game's mechanics.  The process encourages a specific style of play, whether that was intended or not.  Therefore, a designer must be careful about their process in relation to their Design Goals.     

Since games are more than the sum of their parts, you can not look at mechanics solely as a matter of results and outputs.  The steps that lead up to the results are just as vital.  The supplier, inputs, process, outputs, and user all shape the overall experience of the game, so to ignore one of them in favor of focusing on the Result is folly.  


*= Note: This maybe the stated winning conditions for the game Mouse Trap, but you could argue that it is not the intended Design Goals of the game Mouse Trap.  Win conditions and design goals don't always align! 

Jugs - Available to Patrons

Final Thoughts

So which is it?  Do your mechanics matter?  

Like many things in life, it is not an either/or question.  The Ancient Greeks had an expression called "The Golden Mean".  It was an idea written about by Aristotle, but also was clearly relevant in Greek Myths as well.   

It is clear that both points of view expressed above have utility and value.  The idea of the Golden Mean was to avoid taking any one direction in excess, and instead finding and using the virtues of both sides.  Of course, there is no perfect recipe for this and each designer will need to decide where they and their game fall between these two extremes.

Of course the results matter, but so does the process to get the results.  Some processes are inherently better than others, but the process should not outshine the results.   

"What a non-answer!" I hear you bemoan.  Well, that's life for you.  It rarely is as simple as a clear answer.       

Free Bonus Content! 

So, the Siege Perilous Kill Team campaign is continuing.  This is a Chaos vs. Imperial simple points-based warzone control campaign.  I have been playing with either an Imperial Sisters of Battle team, or a Chaos-aligned Hand of the Archon team.  


This time, my Hand of the Archon took on an Ultramarines force on the DIY city terrain.  It was.... not pretty as I got absolutely smoked this time. I think all of my operatives were killed by Turning Point 3.  Ouch.  


One of the few highlights was my Dark Lance sniping an Ultramarine sniper from a rooftop with one shot.  However, my joy was short-lived as a second Ultramarine just clambered up into the same position and returned fire.  This second sniper remained a thorn in my side for the rest of the battle. 


I managed to grab some objectives early, but some not great dice-rolling plagued me through-out the game.  I think I managed to incapacitate 3 out of the 6 Ultramarines, but that was a hollow victory as I was tabled.  Made some bad choices along the way as well, and my opponent got a well-deserved victory.  

On the plus side, I got the basic starter set for Kill Team so I now have my own widgets, tokens, and barricades.  Woo-hoo me.  That also gives me an Ork and Vet Guard Kill Team, but I am in no hurry to paint them up.  


That battle for Powellington continues, but Chaos has a lead in 3 out of the 5 warzones.  That puts Chaos in a good spot half-way through Turn 1 or the three turn campaign.  Hopefully, my forces can be helpful instead of a hinderance as we go forward! 

Until next time!   


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Check out the latest publications and contact me at our Blood and Spectacles website

Or purchase all out games at the Blood and Spectacles Publishing Wargames Vault Page!    

Monday, March 11, 2024

Battle Report: Fury of the Northman - Looting and Pillaging in Hibernia

 


Greetings faithful readers, and welcome to another Fury of the Northman battle report.  Erik Greybeard and his Victrix Vikings are once again facing off against King Ercc of the Wargames Atlantic Dark Age Irish.  

Mission:
The Vikings will be the attackers as they use the Loot and Pillage scenario against the Irish.  They will be attacking as Dusk Approaches as the complication. 

Forces: 
Since this will be a Loot and Pillage, the Vikings are allowed 10% more points then their Irish foes.  

Erik Greybeard's Vikings:
Nobles
- Shieldwall
- Boar's Head 

Warriors

Warriors
- Shieldwall

Militia
- Shieldwall

Skirmishers



King Ercc:
Warriors
- Heedless Charge
- Throwing Spears

Warband
- Heedless Charge
-Throwing Spears

Skirmishers
- Throwing Spears

Skirmishers
-Throwing Spears

Slingers
-Skirmishers

Slingers
- Skirmisher


Set-up:
Today we are using a 72MU by 48MU board.  1 MU is equal to 1 inch.  

Terrain is set-up per the rules found in the main Fury of the Northman rules and the objectives were set-up using the method outlined in the scenario. 

Square 1-3 is the Viking side, while side 4-6 is the Irish side of the board. 
  • Square 1 = Hill
  • Square 2 = Grove
  • Square 3 = 2- level hill
  • Square 4= Hill
  • Square 5 = Hill
  • Square 6 = Stone walls
Viking deployment

You can see the objectives, spread out in the form of piles of crates/chests or cattle.  They are just outside the Irish deployment zones. 

Irish deployment

I am going to break this report into three broad categories; Maneuver phase, Combat phase, and the End Phase.  I will not be detailing each move and action in detail, but try to cover key moments and decisive points of the battle in each phase.  

Maneuver Phase

Neither side was focused on subtlety or sneaking tricks.  The Irish moved up aggressively to grab their objectives, while Greybeard's Vikings pushed ahead as fast as they could.  


On the Viking side, Erik Greybeard led the attack with his nobles aiming for the center of the Irish lines and the cow on the hill.  It seemed to be only lightly protected by Skirmishers.  Once the Irish had their objectives, they took up defensive positions on hills and within their village.  They seemed content to let the Vikings come to them and were in strong positions, with good fields of fire with their slingers.  



Sensing a trap, the Viking Warriors with Shieldwall formed up.  They saw Irish Slingers lurking about the edges of a forested hill.  This slowed their advance on the Irish farming hamlet. 


Their caution was sensible, as the wily Irish popped out of cover and pelted Erik and his retinue recklessly charging across open ground.  First blood to the Irish as their slingers pelt the oncoming war chief with rocks and reduce them 1 courage.  

As we head into the 4th turn, the field looks like this: 


The Irish right has the Warriors and King Ercc ensconced in the hamlet, protecting two objectives.  The Viking militia and shieldwall oppose them.  The center has the Viking command leading the charge supported by their skirmishers, and their other warrior unit on the flank.  The Irish Slingers have stepped out to launch their attack, but they are exposed.  Behind them, the Skirmishers protect two objectives and the last Slinger unit protects an objective safely up on the top of a two-tiered hill.

Battle Phase
The Irish slingers in the center pepper Greybeard's Nobles with more sling stones.  Fed up, Greybeard and his Nobles charge forward!  However, the Irish fade back from them, leaving them disordered.  The Shieldwall followed their leaders lead, and also ends up tired and disorganized after failing to connect.  Meanwhile, the Irish try to fade away from the Viking assault.


King Ercc sees the spent Vikings ahead of him, and decides now is the time to send the invaders packing.  He charges forward heedlessly with his warriors, throwing their spears as they get stuck in!  The Irish king manages to push the Viking warriors back.  


However, the Vikings ferocity allows them to steal the initiative again, and they continue to push forward.  The Warriors on the Viking right manage to get to their objective, as the Irish skirmishers fade away from their assault.  In the center, Greybeard continues to pursue the Slingers but still can not catch them!  On the left, the Militia march into the Irish village in their shieldwall, daring the Irish to attack.      
Dusk begins to set-in, but the fighting continues to rage.   

The Irish slingers fire up-close and personal on the Viking nobles and continue to sap their courage.  However, the Nobles have gotten too close and crash into the Irish slingers this time.  They easily slaughter the Irish. Meanwhile, the Viking Warriors fight with King Ercc to a stalemate, but the Vikings are on the edge of collapse.  The other Viking warriors get to the loot the Irish were hiding, but fail to find anything of value.   

Irish skirmishers descend form the hills shouting war cries and throwing their spears.  It is too much for Erik Greybeard, and they turn to flee the battle field.  Those damned Irish seem to be everywhere, shooting and throwing spears at them!  



End Phase
The Sun was setting quickly now and it would soon be dark.  

King Ercc managed to drive off the Viking warriors he was fighting with.  However, behind him the Militia managed to loot some cattle.  


Viking skirmishers and warriors make a last ditch attack on the hill in the center, defended by Irish Skirmishers.  However, they are pushed back and the attack repelled, keeping the Irish loot safe.  




With that, the Viking straggle back into the night, their Raid complete. 

Conclusion
The Vikings managed to score and maintain 1 Loot marker for the battle!  They got to a second, but found nothing.  Routed units, the Vikings scored 4 from the Slingers, and the Irish scored 22 from the Viking units!  Wow, losing the Nobles and the Warriors was a big deal!      

Final Scores: 
Irish: 18
Vikings: -14!  

Looks like the Irish manage to win the follow-up encounter.  Their Fabian tactics worked much better in this scenario than the Cattle Raid.  If we reversed the Attacker/Defender I think the Irish would be hard pressed to prevail!   

Erik Greybeard tried to greet his warriors as they slunk back into camp that night.  They were tired, dirty, and hungry.  They grumbled muted responses to him as he hailed them.  They were discontented.  He had managed to feed them when they landed, but the lack of loot and more resistance than they expected left his men grumbling and ready to go home.  Greybeard needed to find a quick win to fill his men's bellies, pockets with gold, and some plunder to take home.  Otherwise, they might just try to settle down here with the Hibernians! 

Hope you enjoyed this battle. 

Bonus Content
I spent a bit of time clearing off some small 6mm pieces on my work desk.  I had a couple of vehicles for my Operation: Hemlock forces for a Horizon Wars-style battle in 6mm.  Plus, I can use a few of these for Aeronautica Imperialis as well.  These are all 3D printed.     

I couldn't precisely recall what colors I used for my initial forces, and therefore my Armored Bassies came-out a bit darker.  However, I recovered in time for the Hydra and Lightnings.  


The bases are just painted, nothing fancy.  I actually kept the Bassies and Hydra removable from the base so they could be lone targets or AA platforms in Aeronautica Imperialis.  I feel pretty good about the Imperial forces, but before the big battle I will need to pivot and make some Ork forces too.    

Until next time!


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