sobota 28. února 2015

[FiFu/SoBH] Indoor Fighting

I got a bit verbose with the introduction - if  you want, you can skip right to the game.

Lothar's gaze was fixed on the tip of the shortsword. He did not regret anything. This time, he may die, but all his men were alive and the enemy suffered heavy casualties. "Hold! I have a better idea..." Who said that? With that thought, his spirit fled.
"Pity he can't see his men running away like rabbits." said Lorm, still pointing his weapon at unconscious Lothar. Gorm was fishing something in his bag. "Aye. Now go check Gimli and Ragnar."

Lothar opened his eyes again, almost instantly forgetting all those weird dreams. The first thing he saw was a bearded face with deep eyes. "So, you're awake. Good." The dwarf gave him something to drink and then fed him. None of this made any sense.
The next day, more dwarves came. "Stand up." Lothar wanted to look down on the dwarves with disdain but being so weak, all his effort went to staying upright. The dwarven nurse smiled. On his command, Lothar was tied, hands and legs. Still naked. "Gimli, pay the bill and ready the wagon."

The day was quite warm and sky was clear, yet the Small Square still had a pond of mud in front of the alehouse. Avoiding the pond was quite difficult in a busy hour like this, especially when some dwarves had the great idea to halt their wagon on the dry ground close to the pond. Some people stopped to watch, because something was certainly going to happen. First, an armoured dwarf jumped down and walked through the people to the pound. Next, some clothes and stuff were thrown into the mud. By this time, a small crowd gathered. "The audience is here, we can't let them wait!" Then, a naked man was kicked from the wagon into the mud, landing square on his face.
"This is going to cost you, dwarf..." The words almost drowned in the mud and (not only) dwarven laughter, but Gorm heard them. The commander stopped laughing and looked Lothar in the eyes. "Remember, my name is Gorm Haraldson, captain of the Blue Peak Ironclads. Do not shame me ever again." With that, he sat on the wagon and rode away.

As the crowd dispersed, one man remained, his face without a smile - as usual. Wilhelm helped his former captain to stand up and dress, playing the old game of good news - bad news. Good news were that they had lost no man but Lothar that day. Bad news? Their message had arrived late, and now, Udo was self-appointed leader of Bad Company. Clearly, Lothar had a position to reclaim and vengeance to enact. But first, there was a job to be done.

Bad Company

Objective: Find and retrieve the signet ring.
  • Udo: Q4+ C3, Block, Leader 
  • Lothar the Black: Q3+ C3, Block, Unruly, Hatred:Gorm
  • Antar: Q3+ C3, Veteran Group Fighter, Unruly  
  • Wilhelm: Q4+ C2, Fearless, Crossbow, Good Shot
  • John: Q4+ C2, Good Shot, Shooter: Long, Reload (taken from Short Bow)
  • 3 Halberdiers: Q 4+ C3, Heavy Weapon
I have made Udo the leader, although without upgrading his quality. I'm certain this will cause trouble from which Lothar will try to benefit. Lothar is not inspired by Udo at all, and he hates Gorm with a passion. The shield may be represented by Block trait in FiFu, basically giving an armour save.

Gorm's Ironclads

Objective: Find and retrieve the signet ring.
  • Gorm: Q3+ C3, Leader, Group Fighter, Heavily Armored, Block, Short Move
  • Goth'Rack: Q3+ C3, Boiling Blood, Fearless, Unruly, Stubborn, Block, Short Move
  • Ragnar: Q4+ C3, Hammering Blow, Heavily Armored, Short Move, Steadfast
  • Gimli, Robur the Scabby: Q4+ C3, Heavily Armored, Block, Short Move, Steadfast
  • Lorm: Q4+ C3, Crossbow, Heavily Armored, Short Move, Steadfast
  • Skadi: Q4+ C2, Crossbow, Good Shot, Heavily Armored, Short Move, Steadfast
Both Ragnar and Gimli recovered, and Lorm proved to be as deadly in melee as from afar, raising his C score for close combat. Armour got simplified in this iteration of FiFu rules: Either it is calculated in C score, or represented by "Heavily Armored", which is more or less Heavy Armour without penalties.

The Game

This game was a treasure hunt - both warbands were hired to retrieve a lost signet ring from a plundered castle. I incorporated new rules for shield and armour, and decided to house rule reactions to 2x long, LoS and not engaged or engaged with activated figure.

I put together two maps from Shattered Keeps an placed three treasure tokens more or less in the middle between the two warbands - forgetting that the stunties have wee legs and therefore short move. Honestly. It didn't help that I set the same Q score for troopers and character from both sides, something my friend still hadn't got used to. Due to our house-limits on reactions there were plenty of turnovers, but that belonged to SoBH and we were quite content with it.

Warbands rush in from the opposite corners
Shooters are rightfully feared in our games, and it was the same this time - especially with the reactions in place. Peeking from behind the corner, or keeping an eye on "fire lanes", shooters were worth their salt.

While shooters keep each other in check, Lothar finds the treasure
"I've found it! I got it!" Shouted Lothar, perhaps too loud. Men on the other side of the building turned to retreat, but the halls also echoed with the stomping of heavy boots. A bolt whistled past Wilhelm, who in turn shot Lorm.

Rushing forward, Lorm is incapacitated
"Any orders?" Asked Lothar with a grin, taking Udo by surprise. (Yes, three failures - turnover.) A surprise that the dwarves exploited all too well - all of a sudden, they were around the men of the Bad Company. Lothar could have led the withdrawal - but there was a status to be won back. He threw the ring to Udo (who failed to catch it, of course) and headed back to meet the Ironclads.

Be a winner, or a hero? Lothar would like to have both.
Udo managed to find the ring and ordered his men to retreat - and cover him. In an unusual fit of discipline, most of his men obeyed.

The fray was fierce - men were mown and shields shattered.
Here, the reactions came to the full bloom: They were used to put men into the way of charging enemy, to knock the defender aside and charge forth, to create local pressure points... as an example, I tried to stand up one of the knocked down halberdiers, and while I didn't want to risk a turnover with Q4+, I wanted him to succeed. Of the two dice I rolled, one failed. Robur, who was adjacent, managed to use it to smash the halberdier's head with his hammer, causing a gruesome kill (good thing I didn't name the halberdiers). The following morale check went almost great, with only one halberdier staying in place and the rest of the men grouped around Udo (who was conveniently out of the checked range).

The otherwise insignificant halberdier is going to influence the game...
They were all shaken a bit, but then Lothar saw a familiar figure - and threw himself at Gorm, thinking little of the consequences. Much to his surprise, men of the Bad Company followed him.

While men charged back, Udo knew better.
After a proper scrap, a sudden lull in fight occured. Gorm, noticing that the ring is gone and his dwarves disorganized, ordered a proper withdrawal, while the men tried to talk some sense to rabid Lothar. Both sides more or less succeeded, and both sides lived to fight another day. Also, there could be little doubt about the real leader of the Bad Company - now, Lothar has only the vengeance to fulfill. As the winner of the game, I have also given the trait "Steadfast" and name Yira to the single halberdier that didn't run.

Summary: This game was quite close in the end, considering how lopsided it looked after first few turns. We had to finish before a proper conclusion, but Udo got the ring and the fighting could have gone both ways, so I declared it a minor human victory without any further casualties. I liked how the reactions worked, they became rather a spice than a bread and butter of the game. The change of rules for shield and armour was definitely for the better - the rules are more straight, and shields/blocks are even stronger than before.

pátek 20. února 2015

Fightin' Funghi Playtest

As you may know, I'm a backer of Fightin' Funghi,or, Advanced SoBH. The new ruleset includes bunch of interesting special abilities, now called "Traits", new rules for armour and shields (still w.i.p. with at least three variants possible) and  reactions (Even in SoBH, it may always be your turn! :) How does it play? 
Read on (and brace yourself for another bunch of crappy photos)!

After his adventure in the Northern Mountains, Lothar managed to rebuild his Bad Company, and soon found a offer fitting such highly skilled professionals - deliver a secret message. A single messenger could do it, sure. But a messenger could be captured, interrogated, killed and replaced by another. Having a slight doubt about this, Lothar accepted. 

Little did he know that Gorm's Ironclads were after him, paying spies here and there just to get a trace of the man who shamed them.

Bad Company

Objective: Pass the most men through the opposite corner.
  • Lothar the Black: Q3+ C3, Leader, Light Armour, Shield
  • Antar: Q3+ C3, Veteran Group Fighter, Unruly  
  • Wilhelm: Q4+ C2, Fearless, Crossbow, Good Shot, Light Armour
  • John: Q4+ C2, Good Shot, Shooter: Long, Reload (taken from Short Bow)
  • Udo: Q4+ C3, Light Armour, Shield
  • 3 Halberdiers: Q 4+ C3, Heavy Weapon, Light Armour

Gorm's Ironclads

Objective: Get Lothar.
  • Gorm: Q3+ C3, Leader, Group Fighter, Medium Armour, Shield, Short Move
  • Goth'Rack: Q3+ C3, Boiling Blood, Fearless, Unruly, Stubborn, Shield, Short Move
  • Ragnar: Q4+ C3, Hammering Blow, Medium Armour, Short Move, Steadfast
  • Gimli, Robur the Scabby: Q4+ C3, Medium Armour, Shield, Short Move, Steadfast
  • Lorm and Skadi: Q4+ C2, Crossbow, Good Shot, Medium Armour, Short Move, Steadfast

The Game
Lothar was not surprised. Something always had to go wrong, just as this time, with those dwarves blocking his way. The last time, he had ran away from them, leaving his dead men behind - he had to. Through clenched teeth, Lothar muttered "No more running." At his command, his men began a cautious advance towards the dwarven barricades.

Shooters are being sent as a vanguard, while the dwarver take positions.

Wilhelm takes cover while a dwarven bolt whizzes past.
Seing that the enemy has crossbows, men of the Bad Company took cover wherever they could. At Lothar's nod, Antar headed into the woods - he enjoyed working alone anyway. The rest of his men dashed to Wilhelm.

Sometimes I read laments that ranged attacks are weak in SoBH - give me a pair of crossbowmen, and I'll teach such people the error of their ways. Crossbow is a trait in FF, it is really powerfull to one long distance and still menacing up to two. You have to reload it, however, and in order to do so, you must stay in place.

Strange as it may seem, noone is eager to buy the farm.

Poor Ragnar can't stay but fears to leave - because it's always my turn.
FF Reactions are new to SoBH - generally, if you fail any activation dice, your opponent may use them to attempt actions of his own. Although the reaction rules still need some adjustment (my oppinion), they shift the whole tactical paradigma and present more choices for both players.

No reload on my watch!
"Aye, I'm watching you..." said John in a low tone, as he drew his longbow. One of the dwarven crossbowmen just bent to reload his weapon, which was quite a lucky decision as he took an arrow on his shoulder plate. Wasting no time he vanished behind a rock few moments before Gorm ordered all his lads back.

Seing their enemy retreating was a welcome sight, so Lothar's men needed little incentive to rush forward. However, their advance was contained by Ragnar and Gimli, while Robur stomped to the forest to check Antar.

See those two? Surely the beginning of an epic duel.
Ragnar swung his hammer at Udo, but the swordsman managed to avoid the attack and seeing the dwarf off-balance, he returned the blow. Steel rang on steel, but aside from a notch on the helmet, Ragnar was unharmed.

Armour is yet to gain a final form in FF, but there is a variant available on Facebook group where it provides an armour save roll. If it is successfull, the result turns to a less harmful one: OOF to Knockdown, Knockdown to Recoil, Recoil to a tie. This rules add one more roll to combat, but we didn't feel it as an inconvenience. It brings more granularity without adding another combat roll modifier.

Near the edge, the blood starts to boil.
Armoured or not, there's only so much two fighters can do against trained men in more than twice their number. As his dwarves fell, Gorm could not restrain himself any more and lanched himself at the enemy. Loud roar from his left suggested that Goth'Rack finally got out of his gloomy mood into a more productive state of mind.

However, cold blooded John was not the one to be scared by a tattoed madman. The ferocius attack broke his bow and threw him back. John got ready for a hand-to-hand, only to see his foe collapse!

I like Boiling Blood. It is something like more controlled berserk, empowering you significantly - however, you'd better clean your surrounding in the rage, because you may collapse at the end of turn. My opponnent was quite unfortunate, getting a decent bonus to C but lousy combat roll.

Have at them!
Reactions can be great indeed. In one case (following picture), Robur got one failure and two actions - no doubt he was about to use them on a power blow, but Antar managed to react and strike first (although not that hard). It didn't matter in the end as both combats were tied, but the possibility was there.

A very private battle.

Finally, Lorm had had enough. He sneaked around the stunned swordsman, sprinted, drawing his shorsword, and finally thrusted it into Lothar's side. Lothar collapsed, and something had broken in his men. Two managed to sneak past the Ironclads, but rest of them ran away in random directions.

The dreaded morale check cascade about to begin.

"Hold!" Shouted Gorm, as the crossbowman raised his shorsword for a coup de grace. "I have a better idea..."

All of the Bad Company had ran away, without any casualties except Lothar. Perhaps they were able to deliver the message without him, but I doubt it - the confusion was too great. Moreover, the dwarves achieved their goal, which means a decisive dwarven victory!

Summary: The game didn't take any longer than our usual games of SoBH, and the new rules for reactions, weapons, armour and special abilities were fun. However, the reactions need to be either changed or house-ruled, because currently, there is no limit as to who can react to what, which may lead to quite gamey approach, like reacting with a figure on the other side of the table.
Anyway, I'm glad I took part in this Kickstarter project.