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.