The Viking Legal Team in Action

The Viking Legal Team in Action
Snorri is unhappy about your bar tab - VERY unhappy...

Monday, March 21, 2016

NT Skirmish: Empire v. Chaos Marauders, p.2

Again, this is a scenario from Neil Thomas' "One-Hour Wargames", #17 Encounter, but without the random entry of figures / units.  In that sense it is a bit like #4 Take the High Ground, also.  Both sides want to secure the hill in the center of the board. There's no time limit since I want to fight this to the bitter end and test the rules. Obviously, if one side breaks, that will determine the battle. With checks at 25 and 50%, I figure it won't take long. 

Therefore, the terrain objective mainly determines who is obligated to attack - whoever occupies the terrain first will be able to take the defense as they'll have the objective in hand. If the only objective is to kill the enemy, one ends up needing a time limit or else players will get cagey and drag things out. Generally, I like scenarios that encourage players to fight decisively to win. While war is made up mostly of less decisive encounters, they are not usually as exciting for gaming.


Below, the board at game start. Objective is center hill with ruins. Whoever wins first Initiative roll chooses side from which to enter - the opposing side enters on the opposite side. Already an interesting decision - one side has lots of shooting, the other none.



Below, turn 1. Marauders win Initiative, choose to enter from South edge. Mounted move about 20" straight on while the foot Marauders move 12" [figs may move double movement in a straight line - no other actions permitted]. Empire concede the ruin and move 12" on together. If they lose the next Initiative roll, the Marauders could charge before any shots are fired, so a continuous line anchored on the wood is a good choice for them. note how the initiative forces players to think about the next turn - winning or losing Initiative can make a big difference for a shooty army - shots, or no shots!


Above, green dice is empire and white marauders. They lose 5 to 3, with the marauders choosing the first move and therefore their entry side, as well as moving first. Being covered by the hill and in the ruins, can gain them a 4+ cover save [CS4+], effectively halving empire hits! Each takes their turn 1 Action phase, indicated by the large dice, Marauders first. Upon reflection, should've put the arqubusiers next to the woods, followed by the spearmen, then the mounted. When the others moved forward, the arquebusiers were isolated.

Below, turn 2. Marauders win Initiative again, 5-2, and decide to dodge to the East while their foot moves up. Everyone is in cover, awaiting the moment to strike together. the foot has a 6" charge, the mounted 12". I've already learned the danger of unsupported charges!


Above, Empire shooting is disappointing. Spearmen move double straight ahead. Pistoleers move 6" and fire. Top four dice all misses for the Arquebusiers. Bottom dice are only two hits from the Pistoleers, both of which bounce off rocks thanks to a 5 and 6. 

Note that I rolled one too many dice for the arqubusiers, anyway! The outrider with revolver shoots twice if he stands so I messed that up also. Everyone can move half and shoot if they are "loaded". All muskets and such take one full  turn to "Reload". Thus they are best employed in pairs, one shooting while the other is reloading.


Below, turn 3. Empire wins Initiative [IN], 6-3. They choose to reload everyone. The spearmen should've repositioned, at least. The Marauders move into charge range.


Below Turn 4. Empire Action Phase Begins. Empire wins IN again, 6-4. They keep it and shoot, of course! Had they lost the Marauders would've charged in and they'd get no shot. Outrider [blue dice] gets one hit on Marauder hero, causes two wounds with a '6' one of which is saved [white 6] and one is not [white 2]. One Pistoleer hits on '6' rolls '6' to wound, and one is saved with white '5'. Two wounds marked with red dice. Three Arquebusiers miss, needing 5s and rolling 4-4-1. Disappointing considering that melee favors the marauders over the empire.



Below, Turn 4 Empire Action Phase continues. Note - the big green dice indicates Empire turn 4 Action phase, while marauders have yet to go, so the white dice is on 3. 

Empire spearmen move against the marauder foot. There are 2 spearmen v. 2 marauders. I decided that the one marauder supporting but blocked by the pillars couldn't support - normally he'd contribute one dice. The Empire win both fights, 6-3 and 4-3, taking the highest single dice rolls - if tied, go to the next highest, etc. If still tied, it's a 'push'.

Above. Right spearman inflicts two wounds on a '5', the '1' is 'no wound' on the NT chart - so a glancing blow. The marauder rolls a '4' and '3' and misses both saves, needing a '6', so he's dead [note model on side]. The left spearman's dice are on the bottom. He inflicts three wounds but the marauder rolls two 6s and one 2 so survives with one wound! [red dice] Amazing blow to the Empire, b/c they need any luck they can get in melee.


Below, Turn 4, Marauder Action Phase. Unsurprisingly, the marauder force decides not to await being shot at any longer. They close into melee with everything they have. Two foot marauders attack the spearmen while two others join the hero in attacking a pistoleer. The veteran takes the hellhound and attacks the arquebusiers. 
The Pistoleer has two dice and is supported by the outrider [blue dice] and has a high of '5' from the outrider. The Hero has four dice and two support dice from the foot marauders [black dice], and wins rolling a '6'. Those six dice rolled come up 6-6-5-2-1-1 for six wounds, 2 each for 6-6-5. The Pistoleer only saves three and dies three times over.

Above and below, Turn 3 continues. The marauder veteran and hellhound quickly dispatch an arqubusier [above]. The marauder foot kill one spearman [below. This means that the Empire has lost three soldiers, putting them over 25%. They need to check morale, and every figure who fails retreats a full move. Everyone in the Empire force has a '5' except for the Veteran Outrider who has a '4'. As a leader, the Empire veteran outrider rolls first - if he passes, everyone within 6" can use his morale which is one better. The spearman and pistoleer run on a '1', while the two arqubusiers stand on 5s!  More fool they...


Above, below, Turn 5. Empire wins Initiative, and brings its soldiers back into the fight. If they'd lost Initiative and been badly outnumbered, they could've been encircled. As it is, they were able to gather into some sense of a battle line and face the oncoming marauders. The two marauder foot can't move fast enough to help in the fight - this turn. Looks grim! But the Empire do ok in the resulting melees, killing a dog and putting the marauders over 25%. Unfortunately, they lost the second spearmen to the supported Hero, and also have to check - and everyone who departs is gone for good!
Above, turn 5 Morale Phase. Empire lose both arqubusiers. Marauder hero and veteran rally back on the ruins with one foot marauder. With only two mounted left, can the empire beat back six marauders??

Below, the dead pile up as Turn 5 ends!



Below, Turn 6 begins with both sides four dead...but the Empire have lost two who fled!

Below, turn 6. The Marauders win IN 3-2. They take it and close in as far as they can. Note that the 1" recoil from Melee, with a full move flee for the 25% morale check failure means they can't get closer than 1" to the enemy upon moving back the full move, which is what they did. While both the Hero and the Veteran have two wounds, and one foot marauder one wound, they are all still functioning. The spreading around of wounds is making this turn look tough for the Empire - if they can only kill the mounted, they will certainly win as neither of them have any wounds. The Empire reload in their Action Phase, hoping to win IN Turn 7.


Below, Turn 7. Alas, it is not to be. The Marauders win IN and immediately close with everything they have. They kill both the pistoleer and the outrider Veteran, who die with loaded weapons. But had they closed last turn, they would've died with unloaded weapons, anyway, so I feel I made the right choice.


Conclusions. 
I think the rules work pretty well. This was the 4th or 5th time I played this, and maybe the only one the marauders won altho most of the games were close. My play quality had something to do with the results, of course! Don't want to blame the rules.

I think the rules could be streamlined farther. The question is will the sacrifices be worth it, or does the little detail here and there add to the game? I think there's a satisfying mechanistic feel to roll to hit - roll cover save - roll wounds - roll armor saves. It is a bit time consuming, however. Still, this isn't meant to be a large-battle game, it's for smaller skirmish forces of 10-15 figs. If you've something really crummy like Goblins, maybe 20 figures. I will need to make a playtest with the smallest and largest forces to see how they match up.

I also feel like the game needs a simply fall-back mechanism for situations with terrain and such that aren't covered in the rules. For example, rather than make lots of rules for ladders, high walls, climbing, jumping, etc, I'd rather just have a single "and all the other stuff" mechanism.

Some more playtests are in order, but I think these are 90% there and I'll have to post them this week. Open to suggestions, as always!

Friday, March 11, 2016

The character of Melkor, Sauron and...

Reading the Lord of the Rings makes for some thoughtful moments, as to what is _behind_ the comments of characters like Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, et al.  This lead me - along with some confusion about Middle Earth geography - to my old copy of Fonstad's "The Atlas of Middle Earth". In addition to the atlas aspect, there is a summary of events in Tolkein's legendary history.

On p.1 she summarizes "Iluvatar sent the Valar to order the world, preparing Arda for the coming of his Children - Elves and Men. Melkor, brother of Manwe, being arrogant in his own strength and power sought to mar all the works of the other Vala. Thus, Arda began in battle and turmoil: the Valar, building; Melkor, destroying."

Oddly, above this opening sequence about the nature of strife in Middle Earth, she quotes Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning..." Aside from it being a creation story, I'm uncertain what prompted Fonstad to make the Genesis reference although there are some similarities between Tolkein's mythology and the story of God's creation. In any event, the strife of the Elder Days is attributed to the arrogance and destructiveness of one of the lesser gods. Sauron, it may be remembered, is a lieutenant of Melkor [aka Morgoth].

The Wiki reference says this about Melkor:
Melkor (Quenya;IPA: "He Who Arises In Might"), later known predominantly as Morgoth,[1] was the first Dark Lord and the primordial source of evil in .
Originally the most powerful of the Ainur created by Eru Iluvatar, Melkor rebelled against his creator out of pride and sought to corrupt Arda, becoming Morgoth. After committing many evils in the First Age, such as the theft of the Silmarils and the destruction of the Two Lamps, Morgoth was defeated by the Host of Valinor in the War of Wrath.  http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Melkor
This explanation seems to pit Melkor against his maker.  The feeling I get is that Tolkein attributes the strife of middle earth to the strife of the "lesser gods", or the strife between them, perhaps. These lesser gods act upon creation and pursue their ends in it which sometimes clash out of purposeful intent, similar to the Greco-Roman pantheon of pagan gods. They also have freedom to create, act, interfere, etc., in a very open way, raising or leveling mountains, besieging Melkor's fortress, fighting battles openly, etc.  Literally, Tolkein's gods walk the earth and fight openly.

There's more responsibility put upon us, God's children, then Iluvatar's children - elves and men, for the evil in the world. Satan certainly pursues lies and murder as his trade. Jesus says the devil "...was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for his is a liar and the father of lies." [Jn 8:44]. Yet it is Eve, and Adam, who disobey God's command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, albeit swayed by "the serpent" and his arguments, that bring about the fall. The devil doesn't appear and destroy the tree, oppress the children, and wage war openly and in bloody medieval fashion!  Satan fights his war across the spiritual realm of humanity's souls.

Of this world, Jesus says, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." [Jn 3:19-21].While the fallen angel and his minions do battle against God, humans have the responsibility to live by the truth and come into the light, revealing truth lived through God. Here we are not just victims of violent gods and their battles - we are the responsible party in the struggle for and against God.

The John quote also gives good insight as to why Sauron and all the evil-doers love to work in darkness. They do not want to step into the light that illuminates and exposes their deeds for the evil that they are. There are so many darkness descriptions in LOTR that they can't be covered here.

Someone, somewhere, has certainly made detailed analysis of the theology of Tolkein's pagan / Saxon / mythological world. While I can't present such depth to you, it is always interesting to see how a pursuit like gaming [and movie-watching now] can be thought-provoking about the creation in which we live.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

NT Skirmish: RAW, Lord of the Rings re-fight w'stat charts

This re-fight was needed as I messed up some of the rules. I'm concerned that the 1pt Goblins have two wounds - twice as hard to kill as one wound, yet they are very cheap. LotR SBG has a very similar combat mechanism, yet they've 1 wound and cost 4 points or so. Numbers can make a big difference, and this skirmish set is presented as mainly a shooting game of Queen Vic's Little Wars, so more attention was paid to shooting than melee, I think. Basic mechanisms are not only very solid but quite intuitive.

Below the long road ahead.  A village with some hedged fields, then some hills, ruins and wild country after. The Fellowship works to keep Frodo moving closer to Mordor - but what dangers and obstacles lie ahead in the wilds of Middle Earth...???   

Foam dark age village painted by me, unknown make.  Hedges, trees and walls are Christmas village items.  Ruins are aquarium pieces [Greek ruins], road is from Usborne paper castle, felt woods, brush is Spanish moss, cloth is a reddish brown canvas, hills were bought - styrofoam.

Below is a closeup of the Fellowship's starting area. Their goal is to move Frodo off the end of the road while taking minimal casualties. 67 point force.

Below is the evil end of the table.  Wild ruins and woods.

Below is Goblin blocking force: King Durburz, 8 archers, spearmen, sword/shield.  The cunning plan? Hold the Fellowship front while rear attack catches up and surrounds them.


Below the rear chasing force, except for the troll. A captain, 4 archers, 5 sword/shield, 9 spearmen.  The Troll enters with the blocking force. 77pt force altogether.


Below the archers set up behind the hill, hoping to get LoS on targets in the center. The 16 speargobs and swordgobs are behind the woods with King Durburz.


Below the Fellowship starts off. Formation is Gimli and Boromir [melee types with armor] lead, flanked by Legolas and Aragorn [fighting archers], four Hobbits [weak melee troops] and Gandalf in the rear [fighting heavy shooter]. Boromir is played in this scenario by William Marshall, famous feudal era knight, Essex casting I believe.


Below is the long road ahead. Goblin archers lurk behind hill to front left, rest on hill past woods to right. Can the Fellowship punch through the front???


Below Turn 1. Full moves down the road - Hobbits 4", Dwarf 5" [and goblins], humans 6" and Elf 7" moves. Points were adjusted for the speeds using the Afghan precedent. The Goblin archers move onto the hill, while the rest move through/around the woods to right.


Below turn 2. The Fellowship move again down the road, using the hedges as cover, aware that the Goblin archers will begin shooting soon.  They only have a 16" range, but it is enough.

Turn 2 Fellowship shooting. Legolas and Aragorn miss 2/3 shots needing a 2+ [frustrating!], Legolas gets one wound [red bead on Goblin archer]. 

Below, Goblin shooting: need 5+ to hit Boromir, get two [6s]. Two cover saves from hedge needing 4+ both miss. One hit rolls a '1' for no wounds, the other a '4' for one wound, which Boromir saves thanks to his heavy armor [4+ save].


Below Turn 3. Fellowship pushes Hobbits forwards, Boromir and Gimli hop the hedge [1/2 move] to head towards archers. Plan is to massacre archers and advance through the ruins, using the ruins as cover against the goblin horde. Aragorn and Legolas take down two archers. Goblins get two hits, one hits hedge. Other causes a wound [5] that is saved with '5' [needs 4+ for heavy armor]. King with 16 goblins continues to advance against Hobbit spearhead, off-camera to the right!


Below turn 4-5. Goblins intercepting the Fellowship, who hop over hedge as defense while Aragorn and Legolas continue to kill Goblin archers. Four dead [2 wounds+] and one wounded [1 wound, figs fight normal with wounds].


Turn 5-6, Legolas hops wall and takes one shot [repeaters can move and take one shot, or shoot twice] at Goblin chasing force, missing...again. They've four archers at the house - they miss often over the next several turns, getting few hits.  Illustrated is one that wounds Legolas. A '6' to Hit, the '3' a missed Cover save for his wall [needs 4+], the '4' a Wound followed by a '3' for a missed Armor save [needs 5+ for medium armor]. 


Below Turn 6-7. Cave troll spoils plan [rolled 50-50 chance for North or South side, and he entered North by the archers bottom of Turn 6] to punch through weakly-held archer flank. Attacks by Boromir and Gimli net two wounds but they have to fall back and try to hold him at the gate. Troll attacks gate held by Gimli and wins melee, giving him two wounds. one annoying thing is that with no zoc or support rules, it is pretty easy to pick on one figure when you are initiating melee - it's like your comrades stand around and do nothing. 

Goblins rush the hedge held by...Hobbits. Yes, Hobbits. A mistake in planning as the two melee rocks hold gate redundantly while weak figures fight at hedge - hoping that the cover save will help them out, but the numbers are a problem.

Below, Turn 8. Troll smashes gate and enters field. Takes a wound from Boromir and Gimli who win but roll poorly to wound. Sam and Pippin take wounds despite cover saves.


Below, Turn 9. Bad turn for Fellowship. Lose Pip and Sam, Frodo takes wound [!] while Aragorn rushes across field to help. He misses [again!] shot against Troll. Melee against troll ends up a push.


Below, Turns 8-9 on West End. Legolas holds back the horde, solo. He manages to kill a gobbo, I think he hit twice but missed one wound roll. Doesn't look good...


...And it isn't good. Goblins win melee easily, getting several hits some are saved by the wall but three get through and aren't saved by his Medium Armor = dead prince.


Below, Turn 10 - disaster. Troll dies, Merry dies, Frodo takes another wound, Gandalf dies, Aragorn dies [lucky rolls there]. Goblins cross hedge and push on despite many dead.


Below, Gimli and Boromir fight on for spite. Maybe one of them can seize the ring before the goblins take it to The One Fiery Eye?? The Goblin blocking force goes over 50% and many take to their dirty heels and run, but the chasing force is still solid.


Below, Turn 11. Gimli dies, taking 6 wounds and getting no saves - not a single 4+! No cavern job for him. Boromir fights on, driven perhaps by desire to possess Isildur's Bane??


Boromir faces off against the Goblin chieftan. He's outnumbered, but the chasing force has taken enough casualties to begin rolling break tests. Pippin guards the rear.


Below, Turn 13 or so. Boromir fights the last of the Goblins. Pippin dies. Many goblins have run. But even if Boromir can kill the chief and three goblins, it is a loss - Frodo is dead, and Boromir will take the ring, go mad and begin buying Games Workshop stock like crazy!


Whew! What a mess. Well, I can't say I played the Fellowship just right. Goblins are too tough for the points, and despite having three characters ended up with 44 goblins which is a tad too many. Splitting the force was a good idea, but I need to delay the chasers one turn and push harder with the Fellowship for them to have a chance.

Several rules are needed. Getting support from figures next to you, a Zone of Control to prevent people racing around you, a bonus for rear attacks / being trapped, running, allocating wounds, etc. I will probably crib some from LOTRSBG but it isn't hard.

I believe the platform is very solid, with good simple mechanics and clean handling of the turn, movement, etc. Combat is a bit long, with a roll to hit, a roll for cover, a roll to wound, then armor saves. Four dice in sequence is a bit much. I'll probably get rid of the Deep Cover rule to substitute more rules on melee weapons.

Below are the charts I created for the figures. Note that a 1-point upgrade in a value is usually compensated for in a 1-point downgrade, which is the example from the army lists with the Afghan hill soldiers, so I call it "the Afghan precedent". I've multiplied the values by ten from the original rules but nothing else. Easy to note that there are 5 attributes, so 2 points an attribute for an upgrade makes sense.

CHARACTER
Move
Shooting
Melee Dice
Wounds
Morale
Point Cost
Aragorn
Ranger Bow [rifle], sword [melee weapon], medium armor
     Hero
6”
2+
4
5
2+
110
Legolas
Elf Bow [repeater], double daggers [melee weapons], medium armor
     Hero
7”
2+
4
4
2+
110
Boromir
Sword [melee weapon], chainmail & shield [heavy armor]
     Hero
6”
2+
4
5
2+
100
Gimli
2H Axe [melee weapon], throwing axes [pistol], dwarf armor [heavy armor]
     Hero
5”
2+
4
6
2+
100
Gandalf
Glamdring [melee weapon], Staff [Jingall], venerable [medium armor]
     Hero
6”
2+
3
6
2+
110
Frodo
Sting [melee weapon], mithril coat [heavy armor], the RING [?!?]
     Soldier
4”
4+
2
3
2+
60
Sam
Sword [melee weapon], rocks [pistol], fearful dodging [light armor]
     Soldier
4”
3+
2
3
2+
40
Merry
Sword [melee weapon], rocks [pistol], fearful dodging [light armor]
     Levy
4”
4+
1
2
4+
20
Pippin
Sword [melee weapon], rocks [pistol], fearful dodging [light armor]
     Levy
4”
4+
1
2
4+
20
TOTAL                                                                                                                                                        670


CHARACTER
Move
Shooting
Melee Dice
Wounds
Morale
Point Cost
Cave Troll
Huge Hammer [melee weapon], chain [pistol], thick hide [medium armor]
     Hero
6”
3+
5
6
3+
90
Goblin King
Bladed stave [melee weapon, spear], heavy armor
     Veteran
5”
3+
4
5
3+
80
Goblin Chief
Bladed stave [melee weapon, spear], medium armor
     Soldier
5”
4+
3
4
4+
50
Goblin Cutter
Sword [melee weapon], shield [light armor]
     Levy
5”
5+
1
2
5+
20
Goblin Stabber
Short spear [melee weapon], rusty armor [nothing!]
     Levy
5”
5+
1
2
5+
10
Goblin Spitter
bow

5”
5+
1
2
5+
10
Total with 13 cutters, 17 stabbers, 12 spitters is 770 pts.

Based upon the above charts, I think these will be relatively easy rules to use with most armies, certainly historical ones. While there's a greater challenge with a fantasy list, it's still pretty manageable, altho I'm tempted to lower all four categories one in wounds so that the hordes of rabble don't last long. Perhaps a cultural bias against goblins??

Conclusion: highly recommend using these rules, and grabbing a copy of Introduction to Wargaming. There's plenty of useful rules and ideas, and the WWII rules also have a lot of potential. I think this system would handle several different types of turn sequence well, including cards or PIPs, including roll-offs. I'll look forward to adapting them to several periods, but right now am thrilled at how well they work for Lord of the Rings!