Friday, December 31, 2010

On Collaborations

You should probably read Zak S's Monday post over at "Playing D&D With Porn Stars", or else there's some significant chance that I will come and burn your house down.

(You can skip the comments if you want.)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Monday Night Book of War

You can sort of see how my holiday week between semesters is being spent. The "opposition" (i.e., my girlfriend) wanted a rematch after the loss the prior night. I was happy to comply. (There's a Grant-like theory that she plays better while drinking, so wine was poured...)

Turn 1 -- The opposition at top has speedy light cavalry, slow-but-tough heavy infantry, and two units of longbows. I have goblin wolf cavalry, goblin archers, and one figure of trolls. (Note that I'm using some flat counters for part of my wolf cavalry. Wolf cavalry has 3 HD; troll squad is 6 HD, with regeneration of 1 hit/turn, double attacks, and auto-morale.) After first-turn movement, light cavalry is already halfway into my territory, with goblin archers headed up the hill on the far right.

Turn 3 -- On left, light cavalry has surrounded and routed 1st unit of wolf cavalry. Troll has engaged heavy infantry, who are reforming into a single file so as to wrap around (some debate on this assessment; opponent felt wrapping should be complete in one turn). On the right, archers have exchanged fire, and I've been fortunate enough to drive away all of the longbowmen (with half my goblin archers also defeated).

Turn 5 -- With some moderately lucky rolls (esp., morale failure by opponent), my combined troll and wolf cavalry have routed the heavy infantry off the board. Simultaneously, the light cavalry have surrounded & cut down the rest of my goblin archers. Trolls & wolves have done an about-face and are headed back into the woods to gain the center and screening from now-free light cavalry.

Turn 7 -- Jockey for position. Light cavalry are wheeling around, seeking advantageous attack on my monster forces. Opponent goal is to wipe out the wolf cavalry in one sharp blow, and then pick off the troll figure alone.

Turn 8 -- Forces collide. The opposition actually falls short in their charge this turn, and wolf cavalry have made first contact. Some semi-friendly debate on this measurement.

Turn 10 -- Attrition. Light cavalry have reduced goblin cavalry to one figure (the yellow-colored cavalry miniature), while taking steady losses from wolves & trolls.

Turn 12 -- Victory. The monsters reduce opponent cavalry to 1 hit remaining, who then turn and flee the field.

This game was somewhat more lopsided than others we've played, largely due to the "gimmick" of me trotting out the troll figure here. The trolls are probably the most problematic thing to price-balance in the game, since at almost any price, they massacre normal melee troops, yet fall prey to large bodies of archers (that is, with regeneration, you need to rack up a huge number of hits against them all at once). Probably even by turn 5 I felt this game was mine, excepting a faint chance of the light cavalry surrounding them in the open for lots of attacks (and hence me running into the woods at that point). Currently I've got trolls priced at the equivalent of 75 gp/man-month (compare to D&D men-at-arms pricing), but maybe that's not enough. In the future I'll be interested in getting feedback on whether other people have a better analysis.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Saturday Night Book Of War

Actually Sunday night, but who's counting? I tried to get clever and have a Christmas-themed game with elves and "slaying" (you know the drill) but neither of us really had our hearts into that. So what you get instead is a bunch of murderous giant-types on a rampage. (Also trying to improve the lighting in my photos here.)

Turn 1 -- The girlfriend has medium infantry, medium cavalry, and longbows at the top. I have orcs in chain, ogres, and a squad of hill giants coming up out of the rough, wooded, marshy shithole at the bottom. (Recall that each figure represents 10 scale creatures. As you might expect, ogres take 4 hits to eliminate, giants take 8. Orcs skew a bit cheaper but have morale penalties due to alignment and daylight.)

Turn 4 -- My orcs have crept into the center woods; the girlfriend has wheeled her infantry & cavalry in a pincer move against them (gambling cavalry in bad terrain versus chance to quickly clear that whole side of the board & break into the open terrain beyond). Cavalry has taken some losses from stone-throwing giants and orc resistance. On the far right, ogres have slogged up through the marsh, losing 2 figures to withering longbow fire, but have just made contact and routed the archers.

Turn 5 -- Cavalry & infantry wrap around the enemy, who (as they are wont to do) fold rather quickly. So, orcs are routed and seeking to escape north over the hill. Ogres have wheeled around towards the melee. Giants have hit rear of cavalry but rolled a "1" -- no hits!

Turn 7 -- Clash in the trees. Orcs have fled the field, everyone else in a life-and-death struggle in the woods. Giants have destroyed 2 figures of cavalry, taking a hit in return.

Turn 10 -- The beat-down goes on for a while. Cavalry is gone, one figure of ogres is gone, giants accumulating more hits, infantry morale is good.

Turn 15 -- Finally, with 4 figures remaining, the infantry routs. This spells their doom as the remaining ogre & giant figures stomp them from behind. Note giant figure has 7 hits on it (1 hit away from elimination). Opponent expresses displeasure.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Marvel Ragnarok's Aftermath

So I've also been on a bit of a Marvel Super Heroes kick for a few weeks. I hit Midtown Comics here in Manhattan last week and picked up a few copies of Marvel Essentials: Thor (black & white, original Jack Kirby stuff), and have been reading through them with great pleasure.

In the Journey Into Mystery comic (prior to it getting renamed to The Mighty Thor), there was a backup feature called "Tales of Asgard". One multi-issue storyline therein featured a lengthy prophecy/foresight of Ragnarok and its ultimate climax. In issue #128, this comes to a final conclusion, with Surtur incinerating all the worlds, and then finally this:

Which I think is pretty interesting. This was published by Marvel in 1966, some 5 years before Kirby produced the "New Gods" with DC Comics in 1971 (whose backstory includes older gods being destroyed by Ragnarok, millennia in the past).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Saturday Night Book Of War

The last few Saturday nights, the girlfriend and I have stayed in and played Book of War (the lightweight mass-combat game I've been tooling on for some time that statistically recreates D&D results at 1:10 scale). Here's a quick recap of the most recent game.

Setup -- We play on a smallish 3x3 foot table, so a 200-point game works well for us (think: about 2,000 gp per side as per standard D&D men-at-arms costs), which works out to around 20-30 figures per side (or about one medieval battalion). On my side I've got infantry in chain, regular archers, and heavy cavalry (blue color); the opposition has several units of horse archers and pikes (red color). You can see the random terrain that we generated for this game (notably, she placed a hill near the center that would be advantageous for her horse archers; I responded by trying to block her approach with a bunch of heavy terrain I was rolling). You can also see our cat, Yowly, who generally sits on the "neutral party" ottoman and watches the proceedings:

Turn 2 -- Actually 1.5 turns in, at this point my girlfriend (acting first) has had 2 turns of movement, and managed to get her light forces all the way across the stream, and also up the hill in the center. With only one turn myself, my heavier forces are bogged down, only halfway across the stream, and I've got fairly cruddy options at this point. I really don't want to take my heavy cavalry into the middle, surrounded by archers & pikes, but I can't turn around & get out of the stream in one move.

Turn 4 -- At this point my heavy cavalry have fought their way back out of the river, taking casualties from archers & taking a rear attack from the pikes. My archers drove off the pikes, but were themselves then routed by the hill-top horse archers (note "routed" arrow markers on fleeing units). Look closely and you'll see how my medium infantry have moved under cover of the woods to the edge of the hill, while her second pike unit is coming up through the marsh.

Turn 6 -- My demise. My girlfriend's horse archers came off the hill, and managed to rout the rest of my heavy cavalry off the table. Her pikes ascended the hill and took a brave assault by my medium infantry, but kept morale even after having the whole hill showered by their horse-archer allies; note her 1 figure of pikes left and my infantry routing back through the woods.

Turn 7 -- The End. My already-broken infantry are surrounded in the woods by the fast-moving horses and eliminated on the next attack.

So in this case, my girlfriend beat me. (Which -- ahem -- doesn't usually happen.) Total playing time including army selection & setup was 1 hour, 40 minutes. I think this is also the first time in a few weeks where there wasn't a rules debate that caused me to edit something afterward, so that's probably a good sign for the shape things are in.