Saturday, 28 December 2019

Battle Report - 28 Dec 2019 - Dux Britanniarum Battles

Whew.

That was fun and very satisfying.

AndyH has been here for the afternoon and early evening so we can figure out the new battles ideas for the Compendium. I've had the idea for how to do this kicking around since fairly soon after the idea for the Compendium was mooted, but it's been held off on playtesting, partly because I wasn't sure and partly because I wanted to get the raids tested. Ran my draft outline past Andy earlier in the week, and he basically thinks it's a goer, so we decided to give it a shot.

First battle - for a settlement.

The Britons are defending the villa. Pre-game phases results in force morale boosts for both of us, and me as the Saxons getting an extra Fate card in my hand, but otherwise little effect. 
The Saxons start to advance, aiming to get to the villa before word reaches the rest of the British forces. 
The Saxons amass, psyching themselves up to charge the British hearthguard. Unfortunately, despite having  six Fate cards to play with, I can't draw a Carpe Diem for love nor money, and perhaps unwisely, I hang back.
Unwisely, you ask?
See that unit Andy is pointing at? That's warrior cavalry....
See that empty space in front of the cavalry, and the bloody smear on the hillside? that WAS two groups of British warriors. Admittedly, the cavalry's on excess shock and not going anywhere else for a turn or two, but I have lost two groups with thoroughly mislaid amphorae, and a chunk of force morale.
Ow. 
At last. I get to wade in with this delightful fistful of goodness. 
Crunch. Andy's elites, the front rank, do not survive two rounds of combat, and leave the field....
...but not before he does this to me. Which leaves my big unit of mixed hearthguard and warriors in NO state to deal with the big block of levy you can see top right... my big unit has taken far too much shock to cope..
Game over for the Saxons, sadly. In go the levy, and it's amphora missing, byebye force morale.

Ok. Battle two.  The British attempt to retake a captured province by bringing the Saxons to battle over a river crossing. (Believe me, if you look up Nennius' '12 battles of Arthur', battles for river crossings were common as muck! 7 out of 12, in fact.) We dug out my unfinished river boards for this one.

Pre battle phase. Pure comedy gold, this.

Andy (the attacking British): "I shall make a rousing speech." Rolls a 1. -2 FM, -1 Fate card.
Mike: "Hah. I shall ply my men with mead!" Rolls a 1. +2 FM, 2 Bibabums cards, -1 Fate card
Andy: "My priests will pray to God for success." Rolls a 3. No effect.
Mike: "I shall make a rousing speech too." Rolls a 1. -2 FM, -1 Fate card
Andy: "Ale for my brave warriors...." Rolls a 1. +2 FM, 2 Bibamus cards, -1 Fate card.
Mike: "Oh Mighty Odin, All-Father...!". Rolls a 1. -2 FM. 2 Portentious Signs cards.

Andy: "I think we've done enough damage between us. On with the battle."

The deck is loaded with Bibamus and Portentious Signs cards, Andy has Force Morale 9 and I have Force Morale 5.
Oh, and we both have a maximum of THREE Fate cards each!

Let's roll for deployment. Andy gets the maximum possible initial moves for his force, I get the minimum possible garrison force for the river crossing.

OK. Guess we needed to test the extremes of setup, right?
The Saxons square up across the river from the advancing British. Meanwhile in the distance, the Saxon relief force of warriors is massing trying to force a crossing.
Andy decides the time is right, and charges with  elites and warriors to drive the Saxons back.

Ok. Maybe not.
1" short.

So the Saxons charge in.
Somewhere during the two combat rounds of back and forth, I lose any remaining ability to roll dice.
The Saxons fall back with excess shock.
The British are about to follow up, and in the ensuing combat both sides will lose a unit to missing Amphora. Andy,. having 9 Force Morale, can afford this. I however, cannot afford to lose the THREE points off my 5.

So we're now facing each other, one unit of Elites on each side. 
Meanwhile, further up across the river, the Saxon warriors attempt to force a crossing against 2/3 their number of Levy in shieldwall. With a reasonable chance - I mean, face it, it's maybe 5" away, and they're rolling 3d6 -2 per dice for the river.

1,1,2.
Total move? 0"

On the other hand, maybe we could stay on this bank where its dry and make faces at each other some more.

Back at the ford, the Saxon elite reckon they should have a reasonable chance - the British they're facing are on even Shock and kills, so one kill will give them excess, while they've still got 5 figures and a scattering of Shock. Should be easy, right?

Wrong!!!

Andy takes 1 shock, 1 kill from my abysmal 3 hits. My dice seem to have hits and damage confused, and my Elites take insane amounts of shock and leave, Amphora thoroughly busted.

Force Morale 0. Game over and not a good week for the Saxons.  
Ok: so? Conclusions.

Did it feel like a battle? Hell yes. In both cases, we wound up manoeuvring into battle lines and facing off until our troops were psyched up enough to fight. It seems to fall into a style of combat that feels like it fits the period and the kind of battle that was chronicled.

Is it balanced? We tweaked a couple of setup rules, but then with hindsight they were dumb and I should have noticed them when I wrote them. Even in the face of extremes of setup rolls, crap combat dice and ridiculous pre-battle rolls (seriously, FIVE ones out of 6????) neither battle was a foregone conclusion. With a bit more guts and less waiting for cards on my part the first battle would have gone very differently,. and if I could roll dice at all for the last two turns of the second I'd potentially have or at least made Andy sweat.  So yes.

Was it fun? (the acid test). Oh my goodness, yes. So much so we're testing it again on Monday!

1 comment:

  1. Well the pre-battle looked fun! Disaster awaits!

    Reminds me of an old joke, night before the battle, troops are setting up camp, the wind blows away their canvas as they try to insert the poles, and all collapses. The soothsayer declares it as a sign, but the general declared it was a poor tent!

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