pátek 28. listopadu 2014


Recently, I have been tempted by a generic skirmish set of rules called Open Combat. It enables you to stat up any of your fantasy/up-to-medieval miniature with a bit more granularity than SoBH. In an attempt to save me some money before christmas I read some reports and summaries I consider unbiased (i.e. they are not mentioned on designer's blog) and I was able to come up with these:
 - it still features "turnover" mechanic
 - no campaign rules included
 - looks a wee bit incomplete
 - more bookkeeping

None of that would stop me by itself, however, here comes uncle Scrooge with a coup de grace:
 - 10 pounds for a set of rules that I haven't seen in action nor tried?

Skulldred, on the other hand, is for free (though also rather incomplete). I admit, there are no campaign rules and only a handful of special rules, and the current version available is (hopefully) very close to being obsolette, but still, with a bit of house ruling it is worth a shot.

Skulls, Skulls Everywhere!

This Thursday I decided to shock my friend with a completely unknown set of rules - your guess is right, Skulldred it was. After weathering the traditional whining about a "new ruleset - again?" I was able to cheer him up by highlighting the advantages of the system. I opted for a rather short game: Empty dungeon treasure hunt, 5 minis and 5 dreadskulls each. Dreadskulls (glass beads in my case) are a vital resource, as they represent a favour of the gods, individual's determination or anything such.

In one of Lundor's many taverns, everything was pointing to a nice evening. Lothar the Black was drinking another beer, quite content with himself. A job had been done, money had been made, and only less fortunate Wilhelm was lying in the room upstairs with light wounds (well attended to, anyway). But just as others' black clouds had a silver lining, Lothar's sunshine had dark clouds just beyond the horizon. When a guy sat to their table, Lothar was still feeling a sort of happiness, so he let him talk. A grave mistake. 
-"I heard you are great mercenaries - but aren't you also great sinners then?"
A strange (and annoying) way to introduce oneself, considering that the guy didn't look like the ordinary zealous type. "Our sins are ours only." replied the leader of Bad Company, his mood heading down. 
-"But I may rightly assume that you fear Orladim and revere him and the order he represents?"
The question and a slight menace combined in one sentence gave it away. This was far worse than any preaching idiot...

...in the end, it were only half that bad. Their sins were absolved and a nice sum promised for retrieving a "thing of great importance" with "utmost haste". From an abandoned dungeon. In the Northern Mountains.

When they finally reached the (gods)forsaken dungeon, his company counted mere five men, including himself. The inquisitor that recruited them was among the dead of the clash he initiated - they met a dwarven warband apparently hired to get the same thing, and cooperation or sharing the profit was not considered an option...

Bad Company
  • Lothar the Black: Leader, Level 4, Cbt 4, To Kill 3; 39pts
  • 2 Halberdiers: Hold, Level 3, Cbt 3+1, Longstrike 2, To Kill 3; 23 pts each
  • Skirmisher: Steadfast, Level 3, Cbt 3, To Kill 3; 19 pts
  • Bowman: Panic, Level 3, Cbt 2, Ranged 4, To Kill 3; 17 pts

  • Gorm: Leader, Level 4, Cbt 4, To Kill 4, Slow; 39 pts
  • Shieldbreaker: Steadfast Level 4, Cbt 3+1, To Kill 4, Slow; 25 pts
  • Warrior: Hold, Level 3, Cbt 4, To Kill 4, Slow; 20 pts
  • 2 Crossbowmen: Hold, Level 3, Cbt 2, Ranged 4+1, To Kill 4, Slow, Reload; 20 pts each
The dungeon was illuminated in an eery shade of purple and all quiet (until the dwarves broke in) - but that was hardly enough to discourage what was left of Bad Company.

Both bands reached an entrance in the same time.
The archer was sent to harass the dwarves, and at first, he was wildly successfull, knocking down one of the dwarvish crossbowmen. The rest of the band - except the otherwise nimble skirmisher - hurried into the depths (and out of LoS).

First blood dreadskull - with a lucky shot the bowman downed his counterpart.
The archer went to meet Orladim a bit sooner that he hoped for - first bolt missed him, but to his horror the wounded crossbowman just snapped off the arrow, took aim and hit home with deadly precision.

First bolt missed, but another hit so well that no dreadskull was needed.
With the skirmisher still lagging behind, the rest of the band secured a conspiciuos heap of rubble. Too bad that they were outnumbered and outmaneuvred; the dwarves were nearing a summoning circle and blocked their way to the library.

The race to treasure locations.

Apparently, the treasure was not in the circle...
The skirmisher finally arrived, just in time to help his outnumbered comrades. In a lucky break, one of the crossbowmen was vanquished and a halberdier found the relic they were looking for.

...and an upstart crossbowman was taken care of.
Things went south from then on for the Bad Company. In the end, Lothar fought off the angry dwarves while the halberdier hurried away with the treasure. (Keeping Lothar alive has cost me all five dreadskulls, but even then it was just by the skin of the teeth.)

Lothar's selfless rearguard action.
The halberdier ran for his life, and as the daylight grew he may even have seen himself safe and rich... "Duck! Duck, you fool!" Thwack! Halberdier fell to the ground, his last thoughts evenly divided between all his life, the unknown and aquatic birds.

So close...
Lothar wasted no time grieving, snatched the relic and threw himself over the rubble, dodging another bolt. And then he was off for a long and perilous journey back to civilisation.

Summary: Skulldred has a tagline "Fast. Furious. Fun." and it really delivered. We were able to play it in 90 minutes, including a brief explanation of the rules. In contrary to SoBH, I was able to do at least something with all of my figures on my turn - the element of risk/reward in activating ("I may try to do more, but I may also fail horribly.") was replaced by resource management in the beginning of combat (Is this character important enough to sacrifice a dreadskull and add one die to my roll?). The stats are more granular, however, one of the most important, Level, has a similar problem as Quality in SoBH - one level for troops, one for the heroes, and the rest that still may be used is either for wimps or demigods. In the 2.05 version the rulebook itself is quite complete (and includes magic), but you have to add (and appraise) your own special abilities and make your own campaign rules. I don't hold my breath for promised public beta 3.3 or a commercial version (because I was never much into asphyxia) - I'm quite sure we'll have some fun even with this one.

sobota 8. listopadu 2014

Small Munera, Grand Melee

Munera as a Starter

The stars were right again on Thursday's evening, giving me the opportunity to have some fun with friends and dice. And little plastic humanoids, of course. We were waiting for the third to the party, so a few games of Munera Sine Missione (with house rules, as all games that evening) took place. I used my Mordheim pit fighters (described here), rules version 2.2 and a house rule, giving each player six tokens of value one to six to use instead of rolling for AP. 

In the first bout (quite short), I took Empire fighter and my friend took an Orc. The contrast between lightly armoured Empire and the heavy armour of his opponent promised and interesting game - which it was right into the moment we rolled double six on attack (special event, defender takes 2d6 dmg). Armour or not, the Orc went down. Fine enough.

Nimble and hard-hitting Empire vs heavy Orc

In the second bout I took the Undead, and thanks to my exquisite maneuvring (and opponent's tactical blunder) I managed to get an attack to opponent's rear - only to have my fighter knocked down because of a special event! The Orc then capitalised on such a turn of fortune by bashing his adversary with a shield, causing a second knockdown and ending the game. My friend was not too pleased with such an easy victory, so he played "what if..." attack with an axe instead of a shield - and rolled a special event knocking the defender down!
We politely ask the spectators not to throw banana peels to the arena...
This was too much for the both of us, so we made up another house rule: When doubles in attack are rolled, roll another d6. 1 - attack fails (as if the defender rolled higher), 2,3 - attack hits for 1dmg, 4,5,6 - resolve special event.

The third bout went smoothly, I could only regret not having the latest version of the rules to use "working the crowd" that gives you something to do with unspent AP after driving away the opponent. I am beginning to like Munera for what it is - light and quick gladiatorial game that offers itself well to modifications.

Main Dish - Melee on a Map

Recently I purchased D&D maps to use in our games, because proper terrain is not too portable and quite unwieldy to take into public transportation. (Not to mention it's time consuming to make one.)  I intend to use the maps for SoBH, Skulldred (as soon as the next beta or full version is released) and Melee. Melee was the first game with miniatures we played and it could accomodate any number of players, so Melee it was. As usual, I could not resist the temptation of house rules:
  • Damage was reverted to the original, however, characters could wield a single handed weapon in two hands, getting either +1dmg or reducing the ST requirement by one.
  • Dmg reduction and DX penalty of armour reverted to the original too, but every level of ST above average (see GURPS) reduced the DX and MA penalty by one
  • Squares: every 2nd diagonal counts as two units away, characters have three front squares, four side squares and a single rear square.
I cobbled together a scenario where the dwarves had to control the bridge and fort by 10th round and gave them one more fighter to compensate for the pressure. The dwarves split into two teams, four of them stormed the bridge while another three tried to flank the orcish garrison.

Moments before the clash...
The battle of the bridge was as bloody as expected, with occasional crossbow bolt to spice up the party. My orcish archers were good enough when shooting, but I made the mistake to equip them by a mere knife as CC weapon. They were able to inflict two damage at most, and as I decided not to use HTH combat, their only job was to distract the enemy.

Confined area did not offer much space for tactical finesse.
Pole weapons were deadly in both attack and defence, and their ability to jab at enemy two squares away created some interesting situations. One day I'd like to try a scenario where two bands of mostly pikemen or spearman clash; I believe the results would not be quite dissimilar to "bad war".

The bridge got slippery with blood.
Dwarven axemen had AdjDX of 9, which meant they missed three or more in five attacks. However, when they did hit, their enemy was usually hacked in half. If there were more space to maneuvre, they would be even more deadly in flanking attacks. 
In the end, the dwarves did not push hard enough. Although most of the orcs were either dead or almost incapacitated -with the exception of archers, who got as much as they gave (i.e. nothing)- the fort was still in their green hands by the end of the tenth turn. 

The game was enjoyed by all and the set of rules again showed its timeless qualities. I am looking forward to more games of Melee.

sobota 25. října 2014

Tweaking the Melee

The orcs and dwarves clashed again in the Goblin Slayer dungeon, as we tested my new modifications to Melee:
  • Damage comes from cross referencing Strength and weapon modifier in a table
  • Strength reduces armour penalty
  • Some weapons need less strength to use 
  • Armour protects less and gives lower DX penalty
  • Attack with both weapons is at -3
We wanted the games to be short, so the limit was two regular characters and a champion per side (champion got 2 more points to enhance stats). Because of the low number of charcters we chose quite cluttered environment.

  • Gorm the Heroic Leader: ST 15 DX 11 MA8, Chainmail DR2, Big Axe (broadsword) 3d6+1
  • Ragnar, Axeman: ST 14 DX 10 MA8, Chainmail DR2, Great Axe 3d6+2)
  • Grund, Crossbowman : ST 12 AdjDX 11, MA 8, Crossbow 2d6, Axe 2d6+1)
  • Obludd, the Green Menace: ST 15 DX 11 MA 10, Half-plate DR3, 2 choppas (broadsword) 3d6
  • Krutak, Warrior: ST 12 AdjDX 11 MA 10, Leather, Shield DR2, Broadsword 2d6+1
  • Krivak, Halberdier: ST 12 DX 12 MA 10, Leather DR1, Glaive (halberd) 2d6+1
Game 1: The clash was short and decisive - in a tactical blunder, Ragnar charged orc halberdier and got skewered, while the champions faced off. Obludd was assisted by a warrior and while Gorm's crossbowman missed, the two orcs brought the hero down with brutal efficiency. Krivak made short work of poor axeman, and Obludd with his aide charged the remaining crossbowman. Much to our surprise, he wounded and subsequently killed orc warrior before succumbing to the inevitable.

Reflecting upon the game, I returned both DR values and DX penalties of armour and shields to original values, and considering my work done I proposed another game. Basic stats remained the same, but there were more DX modifications from armour worn. 

Game 2: This game went almost completely another way: I sent Obludd to confront Gorm in a duel, while the grunts had their private party behind a wall. The dwarven leader hesitated for a while, but after accepting the challenge, Gorm first split Obludd's kneecap and then orc's skull in two rounds. The orcs proved their worth and as soon as the axeman fell, Krivak could try to avenge his leader, while Krutak stayed to finish off his usual victim. Crossbowman was dispatched again, but not before hitting Krutak hard and deep. After that, Krutak hurried to help his comrade in arms by encircling the dwarven champion. However, no tactical advantage is sufficient when frown upon by the dice gods: For once, the halberdier decided to forgo defence in favour of an attack - dealing whole three points of damage, but being split from head to groins in return. Krutak could still avenge the poor halberdier, had I not rolled snake eyes (so the whole damage dissolved into Gorm's armour). 'Nuff ticklin' growled the orc-slayer as turned, and one slash later the whole orc warband was a history.

This game was more satisfying, but another thing became clear - Melee is extremely balanced design. Add a character whole two points extra and he turns into a god of war (albeit not necessarily sexy and shoeless). Apparently I'll have to use no more than one free point, or add/detract to HP, MA or damage. As a next modificaton, I'll tune the damage from strength another notch down, so it falls somewhere between thrust and swing dmg in GURPS.

Summary: All in all, in two players Melee shines with 3 (or rather 4 or 5) characters per side - and I'm sure I'll keep playing it as such. Melee could even work with one character per player (then the morale rules work perfectly: There are none, but you surely want to stay in game, don't you?), but you'd need at least six players for this. Or less players and one GM :-)  

čtvrtek 23. října 2014

Orktober Retrospective

In the first post on this blog, I described a game of SoBH played with the contents of my Melee Box: 
  • 3 EM4 dwarves, 
  • 3 EM orcs (all plastic), 
  • a metal dwarf (Citadel, no idea about edition or type) and
  • 3 metal goblins (probably Altar).
The box also contains dice, counters, Melee charcter sheets and eight tiles for Goblin Slayer, which may have seen no more than 3 games of G.S., but served well for nearly a dozen Melee games (and one SoBH test).

It is almost a year ago that I last used the above mentioned minis - since then, I indeed painted the Empire Militia and Mantic Dwarves to form two warbands, and had some fun with them and SoBH. I also put together and painted some fantasy gladiators, because a) gladiators are cool and b) gladiatorial games need only a handful of miniatures. 

In that time, the Melee box collected dust... but then, Orktober came, and with it a notion of going back to the roots - and reinforcing the poor orcs, who were always one short vs the dwarves ('cause we all know those lil'gitz don't really count). So, here they are with all the blurr my phone can inflict - do NOT click:

Da reif.. reefen... oh, screw it. WAAAGH!

They are still more or less a WIP, but I hope to use them today, either in Melee or in SoBH. I have also further modified Melee rules, like made the damage dependent also on strength rather than just on a weapon, lowered the minimal strength required for the heavier weapons, reduced damage reduction of armour and shields and their DX penalty... looks like playtesting today :)

středa 1. října 2014

The crowd would be there to greet him with howls of lust and fury...

This time we managed to have a four player game, with two newbies into the pit. So, this should be rather titled as "Newbie's Luck" or something like that. And yeah, the crappy phone camera stays, so please don't click on the pictures.

The games begin...
The gates of the Pit opened once more, and the crowd cheered the four gladiators entering the arena. Mario the Undead gave just a silent, ominous salute, that contrasted with roaring of Ulrich the Orc. It was rumoured that Ulrich was in fact a wayward son of nobility who had himself written his own contract in hexameter, but those rumours were quite difficult to believe. The crowd also greeted Peter, who may or may not had something to do with the Greatswords. The last one to enter the pit was Dyre, a genuine northener fighting as Chaos. 

Surprisingly, the combatants went one on one
The combatants spontaneously paired off, Empire against Undead and Orc agains Chaos. Mario, being more agile than his counterpart succeeded in flanking his opponent, while both Dyre and Ulrich took more cautious approach.

Undead was thought to be the first to draw blood,
but both his attacks and the riposte were blocked.
The crowd howled as the first sounds of steel meeting steel rang, but the first blood was yet to be drawn - in a short clash, both Mario's attacks were deflected, but the greatsword also met just a parrying khopesh.
On the other side of the arena, the Orc nearly emasculated Chaos
only to have his legs taken from under him.
The first to bleed was Ulrich, when hooks ripped some skin from his arm - but roaring with pain, he was quick enough to return the favour. Right there! and Dyre was staggering away, only mere inches saving him from gaining fat and singing a soprano. However, in the North, the men were real men and knew where their shield was, so a follow-up from Ulrich thudded on a successfull block. Dyre's riposte was vicious indeed, as the hooks wrapped themselves around Orc's leg - and Dyre then pulled with all his strength. The next thing Ulrich remembered was a very sharp pain as a physician straightened his bones, and then he blacked out again.

All the reamining fighters then converged on each other...
The Empire then surprised everyone with a short sprint and an unsuccessfull attack on Dyre, but Peter himself was being followed. More blood was spillt, but rather than having a three-way stand-off, the combatants went one after another.

...to form a vicious "cycle of death".
Peter attempted to break the circle of death, but he collided with Dyre, and thus exposed his back to Mario. Faults should not go unpunished, and the Undead saw to that. With Peter on the ground and only Undead and Chaos standing, the match was over.

Summary: This would be a great match - had not Peter's player been tired and slightly distracted by his cellphone, and had some players not taken so bloody long when planning their moves and attacks. The location system means that one wrong guess and you may be done for, but I wouldn't mind - if the game was as short as it should be. I think I'll postpone the PF campaign so far, focusing instead on a SoBH minicampaign with four players, probably inspired by this.

čtvrtek 11. září 2014

Mordheim Munera

I had great plans for the evening - boasting about my -more or less- painted pit fighters, playing Munera Sine Missione, playing my variant of Munera and finally playing a game of Pit Fighter. However, only something above half an hour was dedicated to gaming in the end, so I opted for pure Munera Sine Missione with Pit Fighters. The combatants were statted up as follows:

- Two-Handed Sword (unwieldy, armour penetration, extra damage) 
- Light Armour, Helmet: AP +1, AS 2

- Hooks (disadvantaged, on a total tie a weapon may be lost, decrease shield AS)
- Light Armour, Small Shield, Helmet: AP +1, AS 3/3/2

- Axe
- Light Armour, Large Shield, Helmet: AP +0, AS 4/4/3

- Khopesh, Dagger (disadvantaged)
- Light Armour, Helmet: AP +1, AS 2

We decided to play a serie of matches with the winner staying. The first matchup was the Empire fighter vs my Orc fighter. You may have noticed that I used a different special rule for the zweihander...

...but it was really not important, as it shattered to a thousand pieces in a first attempt to parry. The rest was quite predictable, but the tenacity of Empire fighter impressed the crowd enough to win him a reprieve. The boastfull Orc was then to fight the dreaded Undead. Carefull maneuvring took place, the arena rang with the bright sounds of blade stopped by armour and dull thud of the sheld, but in the end the khopesh swung in a deadly arc and lopped the head right off Orc's shoulders.

The undead was then to meet a foe more agile: The Chaos fighter charged and dodged, and the hooks seemed to be everywhere, but not much could be achieved against the methodical and well trained foe.

Slowly, nick by nick, the Chaos fighter's strength whittled, and a double attack saw him collapse to the sand. The crowd was not merciful this time...

Munera Sine Missione is an extremly simple game to explain, and although amusing, it is also quite random and simple game to play. I believe it would excel at a gaming event with many occassional players - or as an amusing filler for as few as two (maybe even one) when the time is short (or beer in abundance). I'm trying to develop a variant using dice pools instead of single rolls (borrowing a little from Blood and Spectacle), however, it is most likely that we'll play Mordheim: Pit Fighter the next time.

středa 6. srpna 2014

Another Evening in the Arena

The stars were right, so after nearly a month I could play with my toy soldiers. Or rather toy gladiators. Except that dwarven warrior that represented -what an irony!- an Orc-style pit fighter (being well armoured it was an obvious choice). This time I managed to pack a hard copy of the rules, movement scrolls, arena and even two pit fighters, though unpainted.

Unpainted or proxied, it mattered not. These were ready to die.
I was keen on testing the Undead pit fighter (chaos warrior helmet, tomb king khopesh) as his two attacks looked like the strongest special rule. My friend chose the Orc, probably because of the all the armour and a painted mini (of a dwarf). We statted them up (choosing the same initiative ) Then, the games began. Both fighters dashed forward and employed all their cunning in the effort to outmanoeuvre the opponent.

The fighters almost mirrored each other.
The Undead then ran forward, slammed his massive shoulder plate into the Orc and slashed at the head. Unfortunately, the helmet absorbed the blow...

Game over ... not!  
The dwarf Orc then returned the favour, stunning his opponent. Lead by instinct, the Undead jumped back and waited for the stars all around to fade. Orc was far from nimble and quite shaken himself, which resulted in another little dance.

Tactical withdrawal
The fighters clashed again, and this time it was the Undead that had to give ground. Swing of an axe meant another impressive scar, this time on the leg - but no need for dancing when the enemy's at hand. A dagger found its way around the armour on Orc's arm! With a renewed fury the Undead made a mighty hack from below to the top right which left his opponent in two pieces.

Sadly, no extra XP. Gotta smite the head off the next one.  
The second game was a rematch with the same fighters and same sides (and the same result), so I strongly offered to play against the Undead - to no avail, but at least my friend picked a swift Chaos style fighter.

Third game: Undead vs Chaos
The Chaos style fighter was a considerably more difficult opponent, because even though the Undead had the initiative in the movement phase, he still had to attack through a whirling web of chains and hooks.

Cunning movement, but too slow to strike.
But in the end I outguessed my friend twice in one turn, thus using the adrenaline rush token on the strength stat for the second attack - and head was off indeed!

Summary: Even though the rules are simple, I still misinterpreted some of them (namely ties in initiative), and we occasionally forgot to add a modifier here and there. But - it was fun. I had since almost completed the Empire style conversion, and with a bit of luck I finish the Orc style before the end of August. Unless my ordered gladiators from Crusader Miniatures arrive sooner, of course. 

I like the rules, and I'm looking forward to a sort-of a campaign. Oh, and I discovered that someone even created a variant for Roman gladiators. I may use it as it is, or just cherry-pick what I like. Or wait for Ganesha's Ferrum et Gloria to arrive in October.

sobota 28. června 2014

Blood and Sand!

In spite of the name of my blog, the only ruleset appearing in my posts was Song of Blades and Heroes, from Ganesha Games. Although it is a good ruleset that gives ejoyable results while being easy to learn, dwelling at it all the time would deny the very idea behind this blog: To search for the unattainable goal through many a mysterious land and having lots of adventures (and fun) on the way. 
But fear not! I know there are other rulesets. A few of them I have already either played or tried (or at least tried to try): Melee (with houserules) and Swordplay (updated version just released!), and others wait to be tried, like Savage Worlds Showdown, ItEN, Chain Reaction, or Flying Lead.

Why Gladiators?

Because it's fascinating subject, and (more importantly) gladiator games don't require too much space, scenery nor miniatures. Unless you're into naumachiae, of course. So far, I have printed the rules for Mordheim Pit Fighter, modified Melee and read through Munera Sine Missione. I have also bought half a box of Chaos Marauders, which I intend to convert to Pit Fighters. 

This time all the equipment remained at home - fortunately, I had my usual miniatures for SoBH, hex paper and tablet with the rules. We tried my gladiatorial variant on Melee (still in progress) first, and then the Pit Fighter second.

1. Melee

I like Melee. It was the first skirmish game that I didn't play solo and the rules are simple enough to be modified (the first modification being omitting the HTH combat). After some three- and two-player games in the dungeon (and experiments with leaving the hex grid) I set to write a variant for gladiatorial combat, which we playtested. Well, it failed.

We created four gladiators, bid for them, equipped them, and it was good. Mostly. But then, we chose one gladiator each and sent them into the arena - and  it all turned into quick but quite tedious dicefest. I had tried to spice up the maneuver possibilites: a character could use shieldbash, shieldrush or bodyslam, or he could decide to focus his attack on less armoured parts of the enemy, but to no avail. As much as I liked Melee in group vs group mode, it was still too dull for a duell. 

Still, I may try to add even some more variety, but I fear that either it won't help, or I'll use Munera instead and save the effort for something else, like painting some gladiators...

2. Pit Fighter

The bad taste a single duell in Melee left made us try something else for the evening's final clash. From what I had read I liked the rules of Pit Figher quite a lot, and using Melee as a counterexample I lured my friend into a quick rules overview and -as his enthusiasm grew- a game.

Why I liked the Pit Fighter even after just reading the rules?
  • The paralell between the Empire and Roman Empire: The pit fighters represent enemies that the men of the realm had to face.
  • Pre-plotted movement with slightly different options for each type of gladiator
  • Hit locations: There are five hit locations (Head, Body, Arms, Groins, Legs), and when you attack, both you and your opponent secretly choose one. If they are the same, the attack was blocked. If the attacked location is not adjacent to defended location, the attack was successfull. If the locations are adjacent, weapon skill contest follows.
  • Different armour on different locations
  • If you're hit, you can lose more than just hit points... Better executed attacks can scar, cripple you (loose a finger/eye/ear/arm/leg/precious parts), or even kill you by decapitating (crowd roars) or hacking in half.
  • Easy and quite benevolent campaign system with fighters improving their stats and gaining skills, crowned by the fight of one against three. If the lone challenger can pull it off, he's won the campaign.
  • In spite of all this, the rules are short, understandable and simple, and the game is quick.
The game was a huge success. Our fighters advanced to each other, lunged, maneuvred to get the best position, there was a swing and a miss, clash and separation... It really gave us the image of a gladiatorial bout, complete with a lucky blow leading to a decapitation in the end. Another great thing was that even with rules explanation, checking the rules, passing tablet with movement scroll and picking moves it took us about an hour. I look forward to playing it again!

čtvrtek 19. června 2014


The Borderlands, two years into another war with dwarves... Lothar's Lot standing orders have been to patrol the woods around the Great Eastern Road. Ambushes have become quite a common occurrence with so many warbands and brigands all around the Borderlands with most of these incidents having the purpose of disrupting supply or information lines, or getting rich on the expense of someone else, with most of the victims captured or just robbed. However, recent discoveries of either men and dwarves butchered, or -which was worse- sacrificed, indicated there's something other roaming the wilderness.

I had considered all variants of campaign and how to start it, however, in spite of all the labour I choose the first battle to be simple free for all. Bad decision.

Scenario: Free for all

Lothar's Lot:
  • Lothar der Schwarze, Leader (P); Q3+, C3, Leader, 60 pts
  • Antar (P), Q3+ C3, Group Fighter, 36 pts
  • John, bowman; Q3+, C3, Shooter: Long, 44 pts
  • Vladimir, bowman; Q3+, C3, Shooter: Long, 44 pts
  • 3 halberdiers, Q4+ C3, Tailslap, 27 pts each
  • crossbowman; Q4+, C3, Shooter: Medium, Good Shot, 33 pts
  • Beastmen Chieftain (P)Q4+ C4, Leader, Forester, Tough, 80 pts
  • Bestigor, Q4+ C4; Savage, Forester, 40 pts
  • 4 Gors, Q4+ C3; Savage, Forester, Dashing, 36 pts each
  • 1 Minotaur Warrior, Q3+ C4, Big, Savage (probably)
  • Lich leader (P); Q3+ C2, Probably: (Undead, Magic User, Leader, 86 pts)
  • 5(?) human skeletons; Q3+ C2, Undead, 26 pts each
  • Wraith; Q3+ C4, Undead, Free Disengage, Flying, 72 pts
  • Gorm Shieldbearer (P)Q2+ C4, Leader, Fearless, Short Move, Steadfast, 95pts
  • Ragnar "Knock-knock" Shieldbreaker, Q3+ C4; Fearless, Short Move, Steadfast, 46pts
  • Gimli (shield and axe); Q3+ C3, Short Move, Steadfast, 30pts 
  • Robur Scabby (shield and hammer); Q3+ C3, Short Move, Steadfast, 30pts 
  • Skadi the Sharpshooter; Q3+ C3, Good Shot, Shooter: Medium, Short Move, 44pts
  • Lorn the Leery, crossbowman; Q3+ C3, Good Shot, Shooter: Medium, Short Move, 44pts
The warbands were set in a corner each, with the longer distance separating the dwarves and the undead from men and beastmen. I expected two more or less separated battles, with the winners clashing over blood-soaked battlefield - however, I did not enforce it in any way. My fault. The Beastmen promptly turned on the Undead, while Lothar's Lot failed to move any significant distance.

Beastmen going for easy kills...
I could have written this post for another month or so, but instead of that I decided just to slap here some photos of the battle interspersed with comments. Lazy me.

End of many un-lives. Lothar's Lot struggles to advance.

Focal point: Undead leader turned dead again.
Dwarves' main contribution were crossbow bolts.
The Undead really suffered by two things this game. The first was their frailty (their average score of C2 was not exactly impressive), and the second was the decision of beastmen to heap upon them. They could have fended off the dwarves (no matter how unlikely would that be), but stuck between the hammer and the horn they were ground to dust.

Purging the undead. Amazingly, Lothar's Lot still not in the picture.

With skulls crushed to fine powder and lack of other targets,
the dwarves and beastmen turn on each other.
The Beastmen were terryfying this game. Charging easily through woods they were getting yet higher combat score, and their successful activation ratio was a thing of envy for my human warband.

Beastmen reduced, but still strong enough.

Finally arrived! Combined effort of John and Vladimir brought down
one crossbowman, while the rest of the band readies for advance.
All those failed activations eventually put me into very advantageous position in a compact, unscathed group against scattered remains of other warbands, but this was not what I wanted it to be. At least my bad luck had run out.

Lothar's Lot regrouping, everyone else taking cover.
Tell me something about weak ranged attacks...

The clash is imminent... 
The dwarves thought this was the right moment to attack their arch-enemy. However, human leader was well screened and they had only one crossbowman (crossbowdwarf?)

Those beastmen that failed to withdraw were taken down
The screen worked as it should, moreover, the dwarves failed to kill anyone. In retaliation (and with Lothar's personal assistance), Gorm himself was brought down. Ragnar shared his leader's fate and the pesky crossbowman was knocked down...

Dwarves decided to join the fray, but this time, Lothar's can't be denied victory!
...and then the time ran out. Too bad, my warband would own the battlefield and bask in the glory.

Summary: Poor scenario choice and general stubbornness (no one would quit) made this game longer than anticipated, with no time for post-battle resolution this one might even get declared an one-off game. 
I'm toying with the idea of making the campaign consist mostly of one on one games interspersed with four-players specials (with more elaborate scenario). Maybe I'll try and convince others to contribute with their  terrain and scenario ideas. It would be great if we met and created the scenario and storyline together, however, with all of us having too little time for gaming it seems a rather distant dream. 

středa 28. května 2014


On Thursday's evening I expected to start a new, four player campaign, and I was not quite sure how much I'd have to bend the SoDG rules to my narrative (probably by heavy modification -or omission- of the Exploration phase). In the end there was no need for such heavy decisions as only one player turned up. Still thinking about how much SDG "borrows" from Mordheim I decided to port the scenarion no.9 - Surprise Attack to SoBH. Adding some more to experiments I decided to express my halberds by Tailslap instead of Dashing.

Scenario: Surprise Attack(Mordheim)

The defender rolls for each character, 1-3 goes to reserves, 4-6 starts on table at least 1 L from other characters. Attacker dices for an edge, sets up within 1 S.

Victory Conditions:
The game ends when one side gives up or is wiped out, or whenever the players decide to end it. The attacker scores 1VP per 30pts of slain or routed, the defender scores 1VP per 20pts of slain or routed.

New Company:
  • Lothar, Leader (P); Q3+, C3, Leader, 60 pts
  • Antar the Poet (P), Q3+ C3, Group Fighter, 36 pts
  • 3 halberdiers, Q4+ C3, Tailslap, 27 pts each
  • John, bowman; Q3+, C3, Shooter: Long, 44 pts
  • Vladimir, bowman; Q3+, C3, Shooter: Long, 44 pts
  • crossbowman; Q4+, C3, Shooter: Medium, Good Shot, 33 pts
  • Gorm Shieldbearer (P)Q2+ C4, Leader, Fearless, Short Move, Steadfast, 95pts
  • Ragnar "Knock-knock" Shieldbreaker, Q3+ C4; Fearless, Short Move, Steadfast, 46pts
  • Gimli (shield and axe); Q3+ C3, Short Move, Steadfast, 30pts 
  • Robur Scabby (shield and hammer); Q3+ C3, Short Move, Steadfast, 30pts 
  • Skadi the Sharpshooter; Q3+ C3, Good Shot, Shooter: Medium, Short Move, 44pts
  • Lorn the Leery, crossbowman; Q3+ C3, Good Shot, Shooter: Medium, Short Move, 44pts
New Company was returning from one of its errands, however, a bad weather and bad mood dispersed them far and wide. When the rain stopped and fog lifted it became clear that even more troubles await... Antar saw them first, and while his poetic part of mind already shaped an elaborated lament over a fallen hero, he shouted "The dwarves are coming!" in plain prose. With that he drew his two blades and prepared to write his last poem, in blood and steel.

The Beginning
The New Company, scattered to the four corners, and attacking dwarves.

Two whistles meant two bolts that missed him. "So far so good." he thought, but knew what's to come. He deftly dodged one dwarf that rushed him, trimmed the beard of another - and then his poem was cut short. "One more failure like this - no beer..." Gorm just grunted when he cleaned his doubleheaded axe, and cast a withering look on the rest of the band "another one - no teeth".

Turn 1 (Dwarves)
The end of the warrior poet.

Maybe Antar didn't shout loud enough, or maybe the forest swallowed his warning - either way, his comrades were no better prepared than the hapless poet. (Yes, my first turnover this game.)

Turn 3 (Dwarves)
Dwarves try to chase down the lone crossbowman...

Men were far from helpless, however. The crossbowman surprisingly fended off two attacks, then knocked down his only adjacent foe (no beer for poor Robur!) and fled for his life. They wouldn't go after him into the forest, would they? Vladimir was covering his escape and forced Ragnar to hit the dirt.

Turn 4 (Men)
...only to find out that he's quite tough and not entirely alone.

The problem with dwarves is that they are disciplined, tough and persistent. The crossbowman soon discovered this, as Gorm and Gimli dashed through the forest heading for him. However, Vladimir was able to keep most of Gorm's band in check, hugging cover.

Turn 5 (Dwarves)
Unhappy reunion. Note the cowards hiding behind the... tree?

Shifting a little to exploit the advantages of undergrowth (and to get off Lorn's sights) Vladimir decided to hunt some more, thinking little of how lonely he could be - the halberdier that had accompanied him hid behind the wood, John was gods knew where and the rest of the band was not heard of.

Turn 6 (Men)
Seeking cover, too.

The crossbowman had no chance, and another dwarf quickly stomped from cover to cover. "Those losers should better come soon..." thought Vladimir, while checking that his remaining arrows and trusted knife. John provided little help by sending potshots in the general direction of dwarves, but that was hardly enough.

Turn 7 (Dwarves)
Cautious advance... and human crossbowman finally eliminated.

The dwarves were upon Vladimir sooner then he'd wish. Shouting mix of insults and call for help Vladimir stood his ground, knowing better than to turn his back on those two brutes. Gorm crashed through the forest with the intent to charge John, whose arrows were seriously unnerving one of his crossbowmen.

Turn 9(Dwarves)
Dwarven rush - and a grave mistake...

Gorm's lips twisted when he saw two halberdiers and that coward of a leader rushing at him, while the sound of steel meeting steel indicated that the archer further up the woods was still not taken care of properly.

Turn 10 (Men)
The reinforcements sally forth, while a halberdier tries to turn the tables.
Too little, too late.

An axe grazed Vladimir's chest, sharp pain telling that this will wound not heal well. At least he was fortunate that someone heeded his call for help, because it was halberdier's prowess that stopped the hammer blow and knocked Robur down.

Turn 11 (Dwarves)
The forest encounter went quite well, both had one fallen.
Ragnar's turnover then ensured a fair fight.

Desperate and in pain, the archer threw himself at Robur, hoping that his comrade would take care of the axeman. His despair only grew with the knife breaking on the underlying chainmail and the glimpse of  a big, nasty looking dagger in Robur's hand...

Turn 12 (Men)
Vladimir's turnover made me gamble: fallen attacking a fallen. Failed.

"They killed Robur!" Avenging Vladimir, the halberdier retreated towards Lothar, while two of his comrades made a headlong charge to Gorm. With visible contempt the dwarven commander blocked and parried the blows and stood his ground, immovable like a mountain.

Turn 14 (Men)
A halberdier avenges Vladimir (on Robur), Gorm holds his ground.

Another combined attack made him retreat, but the rest of the dwarves were already there to prove their worth.

Turn 16 (Men)
The last gamble failed too (so much for Tailslap). Quite slippery, that Gorm...

For Lothar, the bad day turned into nightmare when he saw another two of his men fall. Deciding that enough is enough he left the battlefield with the rest of his band.

Turn 17
Hey, chief, remember the better part of valor?

Resume (and traditional whining): There were some things playing against me this time - first amongst them the scenario. Interesting tactical challenge as it was, it took my only advantage against the dwarves - having more men just where I need them. My decision to play a halberd as Tailslap from Dashing was also a questionable one regarding efficiency (yeah, those 3pts improve my chances of knockdown by whoopping 17%), however, I will not jump to conclusions... 
But enough of bitterness, the game was a good one. A hard struggle, where I may have made a few mistakes but enjoyed it all the time. And Robur was taken OOA again, as tradition commanded :)