The host did a solid job setting up, and I dropped by earlier in the day to check on and adjust things so we weren't rushed that evening. The board is 12x6', and we played ona 9x3' of it, with three of the 3x3' scenarios. This is how it looks - be mindful that while one can fill up the blank spaces with lots of cool looking terrain items, for the purpose of a demo, simple is best!
Scenario 4: "Take the High Ground" [left]
Scenario 8: "Melee" [center]
Scenario 10: "Late Arrivals" [right] note this is a mirror image to the layout in the book. The impassible hill now divides this scenario from its neighbor more easily.
Results. Both the Welsh defenders in #4 and #8 lost to the Feudal English attackers. Knight armies are just easier to figure out than counter-attack and denial armies like the Welsh. On the right, #10, one player brought his Pre-Feudal Scots and played two sides of that, with:
- Attackers: 2 Knights, 2 Freemen, 2 Brigans
- Defenders: 1 Serjeants, 3 freemen, 2 Brigans
This was the most even fight. The Attacker chose to hold his knights in reserve, and let his infantry lead the advance. This made for a slower attack. The Defender started with a unit of Brigans in the woods to harass the advance, which he did successfully. In the open, he had a unit of Freemen, who eventually attacked a unit advancing up the road and again slowed the advance up, but of course he was overwhelmed on the flanks.
On Turn 5, Defender brought in his Serjeants and a Freemen. He put the former next to the Camp and the Freemen in the camp. Both therefore took half hits, so he essentially chose to make the unit of Freemen as good as Serjeants by having them hold the camp. The alternative is to put the Serjeants in the camp, where they get 1/4 hits! But the Freemen would then be in the open, die faster, and the Serjeants would be flanked.
Attacker ended up attacking the camp and and its supporting units, with a Freemen and Brigan entering turn 10 and distracting his knights. However, Attacker just managed to take the camp on the last turn. A tense fight with lots of small decisions by both players that ultimately shaped the game's outcome more than the dice.
- several said they had fun, which is always good!
- requests for more guidance in setup and scenario tactics.
- "knight are unstoppable!" [if only this were true for mine!]
- running out of missiles is "not fun".
- explanation of rules was good.
Detailed feedback from player / Host:
- The game worked well.
- I liked splitting it into 3 one-on-one games.
- Mid-game clarifications were few...and expected.
- The rules were very straightforward.
- Your basing works nicely.
- The terrain layout was properly scaled to the game.
- Your use of only a portion of my table worked for the game/scenarios.
Detailed feedback from player / prolific game designer / tinkerer:
- the game played quickly and simply.
- the units stats were so simple as to do away with distinction between national armies. Partly this may be a reflection of the small number of real men each unit represented. I can believe that as numbers go down national differences decrease.
- this does make the game more dependent on good scenario design and on making the best opening move. Playing on such a small board makes the opening turn...critical. I see this especially in Early Warhammer Fantasy and Kings of War games where armies may start as close as 2 feet.
- Winning or losing can be dependent on deployment.
- As an occasional change of pace the game might be fun to play but I can't see it ever replacing, for me, a more sophisticated Medieval Warfare game.
Lessons for running newbies through a game
- The QRS worked fine, but I didn't realize - the printer faded on some of the color headers, so "print a day before and check results better"!
- Make all initial decisions for the player - they don't know the game well enough to make them on their own. This includes deploying the initial units.
- Nearly identical forces on both sides is easier. Next time I'd have Welsh v. Welsh, Feudal English v. Feudal English, and Pre-Feudal Scots v. Pre-Feudal Scots. One of the benefits is both players can help the opponent remember his troop types.
- The "Red v. Blue" explanation from the book were confusing - next time I'll make my own.
- Also, I didn't realize it but in two of the scenarios the Attacker went second, and in #10 they go first! This was needlessly confusing.
- For a demo, just keep the scenarios totally separate, and let players play turns at their own pace. If someone finishes quickly, they can always play again.
- The three separate games alongside each other worked well.
- Keeping to the most basic rules - no optional or advanced.
- Keeping to related scenarios provides mission focus for each player, rather than just the entire side. Makes for some good variety without complicating things much.
- The rules are easy to grasp - resist requests and temptation to add differentiation.
I hope to run a 3 v. 3 or 4 v. 4 big historical game in the future. Maybe a "not hastings" battle, or perhaps the Battle of Lincoln. I think these will enable a group to get through the battle completely within a reasonable evening time limit.