Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Night Book of War

Here's a Book of War game from earlier this summer, in which I opted to use a bunch of "giant class" monsters (orcs, ogres, and hill giants), while my opponent fielded an army of normal men. See how that worked out:

Start -- Basic Rules with Advanced Fantasy Troops; 200 points. At the top you can see my opponent's army -- she's decided to take a large number of regular crossbows, plus some horse archers on the far end. The random terrain has come up with a Stream, a Marsh, and a patch of Rough ground. At the bottom you see my army: A spearhead of 4 Ogre figures (40 ogres), 1 Hill Giant figure (10 giants), surrounded by groups of Orcish Medium Infantry (chain mail, AH 5).

Terrain was set up first, then my opponent's army (she won initiative), and then my army set up in response. My army is all-melee, my opponent's is all-missile troops, and the terrain very much favors the missiles (all of it slows me down, but none of it provides any cover, as opposed to a wood, hill, etc.) I've decided to set up my ogres as a "blocking" force, with the giants behind, and hoping that I can punch through with that group and into contact before they're all shot down.

Turn 1 -- Opponent goes first; she charges ahead with the horse archers, and shots from them and some of the crossbows have already knocked out several figures of orcs, and in fact routed two of those units. Not cool.

Turn 2 -- Here I've moved ahead, with ogres & giants trying to march through the easiest corner between the marsh & rough; while my orcs on the far right are halfway wading through the stream (and you can see the remnant of one of the groups routing off the table). My opponent has mostly remained still so she can freely shoot at my approaching monsters -- crossbows slightly repositioned so as to form a "circle of death".

Turn 3 -- Two moves later, and I've finally gotten the ogres into contact with the enemy, delivering a single hit. I've lost two ogre figures along the way, although the giants have been protected from hits so far. Meanwhile, the enemy horse archers have mostly devastated the orcs in the stream; one unit has advanced through the stream and is circling around the back of the field. I also have a unit of orcs struggling through the bad part of the marsh.

Turn 4 -- The enemy fires. Something that my opponent does regularly, which I try to avoid at all costs: Fire into melee at her own troops. Per the Book of War rules, this splits the shooting attack dice against each unit involved in a melee (anyone within 3"). So I don't like to spend half my attack against my own guys, but my opponent routinely does this and accepts the collateral damage. Here she's charged crossbows into melee, getting their attacks, and then following up with shooting (from both crossbows and horse archers), getting more hits against both me and her own forces in red. I'm down to one unit of ogres; the hill giants have taken 4 hits (out of 8); and the orcs in the marsh are all dead, too.

Turn 6 -- With the opponent's aggressive stance, every one of her figures is getting to make attacks against my remaining forces each turn. The giants go down one turn, and the ogres the next. Victory for the opponent! And disaster for me.

Postscript -- This was a fairly lopsided game, and pretty much a "perfect storm" against the monster army that I was trying to test out. My opponent: (1) made a brilliant meta-game decision to pick all missile troops, (2) received completely ideal terrain, that slowed down my movement, while giving her free range of fire, and (3) had pretty much perfect setup and tactical use of her forces (no mistakes that I could spot). End result: All my guys got mowed down pretty mercilessly. So I guess that's exactly the position you want to be in if you're leading an army of men against primitive monsters; but I can think of plenty of other situations in which things would have been more dangerous for the men. We shall see.


  1. Well, apparently the humanoids were fighting their traditional foes the elves (since they were all archers)! :D

    It'd be interesting to see how they would work out if the horse archers were heavy cavalry, and the rest was 1/3 peasant militia, 1/3 x-bowmen, and 1/3 medium infantry.

  2. Hey, a couple of quick probably lazy questions re Book of War: whats this about the Core Basic and Advanced versions? Are they all in the book for sale on lulu? Also does it have your take on naval combat?

  3. Anthony -- That would certainly give a better chance to the monsters. (Actually ogres & giants beat up on heavy cavalry pretty well with their damage bonuses, etc.)

    Xan -- Yes, they're all separate sections in the one book (intended as modular sections you can add -- when I introduce a new player to the game I step up through those sections sequentially, works pretty well). I do have a section on Ships & Castles, and together it fits on a single page (otherwise relying on OD&D ship types, move rates, and men-per-ship).