Thursday, January 15, 2015

Domains At War on the New Year

Historically, for New Year's, the wife and I kick the kids out to Grandma's and sit around and get shitfaced and play boardgames. The shitfaced part has kinda gone downhill the past 5 years or so, though - I think it's been at least that long that we've actually been up at the turn of the year, aside from rolling over in irritation at the fireworks.

Such is the march of time.

Domains At War entered the hopper for this year, and we did three playthroughs of the Basic Scenario in various forms.

The first game started off OK:

I was the Aurans, the wife chose the Beastman army. As evidenced by the date stamp I didn't know was set on the camera, this is the official first New Years Eve game.

Our hearts were in it, our minds were slowed by a good dinner out with family, a touch of drink, and the general fatigue of being old people with jobs. My wife had only just read the rules in the last week or so, and I hadn't sat and read them in maybe 8 or 10 months, having concentrated on the Campaigns book mostly.

So ... we messed up a few rules here and there - most notably forgetting that units become Disordered after damage, which really messed up the flow of unit activation and shock rolls.

That battle ended up as the below, the next morning (nothing makes you feel older than giving up on being awake at the turn of the year).

Shortly after this, the Auran army experienced a cascading morale failure, and left the field.

The second game ended with an Auran victory - they managed to eliminate the Beastman general (as he was part of a unit of Ogre Infantry, this is no small feat) and morale events took care of the rest.

In the third game, we switched sides, and added randomly generated terrain, as the Battles book instructs. We rolled randomly to get a forest hex, and did the 'drop dice' method. Ended up like so:

This was a Beastman victory again.

What happened here is my wife overcompensated for the terrain, and her cataphract cavalry got caught alone in that mass of beastmen at the south of their line (assuming the bottom of the image is south). I'd put my orc crossbowmen in the front of my line, and they somehow managed to get the 2nd cataphract unit to flee during their first approach. That left the Auran general alone for too long, and the orc crossbowmen and infantry were able to wrap him up relatively neatly.

At the north side of the line, the Beastmen first division (Ogres and orc infantry) advanced to stand inbetween that single mountain hex and forest hex to the north, and waited for the advance of the Auran heavy infantry - they should have advanced faster, however, as once the Auran general was in trouble, the ogres wheeled south to ensure his demise (they didn't get there in time to make a difference, the orc units managed to do the job).

That battle ended here. The Auran cavalry had been destroyed or routed (the light cavalry had made a heroic charge across the field in support of the general, but they didn't make a difference). The Auran heavy infantry did their best, but once the ogres lumbered up to take their turn it didn't last much longer.

Some of the lessons here were:
  • Don't be too timid. It greatly limits your options later, and if you're caught on the edge of the field, a morale result of flee can accidentally become a rout, as they flee off the battlefield.
  • Missile units should be in front whenever possible at the start. My orc crossbowmen essentially won the battle for me; her longbowmen contributed almost nothing (I'd made the same mistake twice when they were my longbowmen)
  • Print more disordered tokens!
At any rate, fun was had. The flexibility of D@W:B, as far as the essentially infinite number of scenarios that can be had, make it a good choice for a general skirmish game, even outside the structure of a proper ACKS campaign. I expect it'll get more interesting when we try out the Advanced scenario and my wife gets to experience the thrill of the fireball from a hero.

It really does scratch that itch for miniature warfare.

I think I'll start looking into options for a more permanent battlemap option; tokens and markers too. I've done some preliminary research and nobody makes prefab'd wooden rectangles of the proper size (see my post of making battlemap tokens) so I'll either have to go custom, go different, or give up on that.

The other game we played was Ares Game's Battle Of The Five Armies; these are the guys who now make the War of the Ring game. It plays well. If you're familiar with War of the Ring, it's a lot quicker, for one, and they've done some good work keeping the same general feel of the mechanics of WoR while scaling everything down to a single battle. If you happened to own the 1st edition War of the Ring expansion game "Battlegrounds", it plays a lot like that, just a bit more refined.

I do wonder if anyone has a good handle on how many troops were involved in the BoFA, just to see what a Domains At War: Battles scenario would look like.

If this site is to be believed we're looking at:

  • 200-300 Lakemen, which may or may not be trained troops, led by Bard
  • 500 Dwarves, possibly  Veteran, with Dain
  • 1,000 Elves, archers and spearmen, with Thranduil
  • "large army" of Eagles (Large Rocs?) plus maybe a single Giant Roc as Gwaihir
  • A high-level wizard as a hero, Gandalf
  • Thorin and 12 mid-level dwarves as heroes
  • 1 mid-level hobbit as a hero, Bilbo
  • A were-bear, Beorn

  • 6,000-15,000 Goblins and Wargs
  • Bolg and his bodyguards
This is somewhat muddled by Tolkien's Orcs and Goblin terms being somewhat interchangable, though I expect if we're using D@W Goblins we'd be ever so slightly better off since they have 2 less hit points per unit.

The 13 hero-dwarves and Beorn, unencumbered by leadership duties, might be a lot of fun, and the  Eagles are going to clean house...this may just be a quality over quantity occurrence.

All in all, though, the goblin army routs when Bolg is slain, so it's a very D@W:B-compatible outcome.

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