Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sunday Night Book of War

Here's a game played the other weekend at my friend John's house. He lives up near Boston, we don't see each other enough anymore,but I've got him partly hooked on the Book of War game. Since I bussed up there to see him, no miniatures were involved -- I just took my box of BOW gear and the old Battlesystem counters that I have in zippy bag. (Lighting not so great on his kitchen table apologies for that.)

Turn 2 -- This is being played with mostly Basic rules, 300 points per side. At the far end, John has Horse Archers on the far left, Heavy Infantry near the woods, two units of Pikes out in front, and Longbows behind. I have Wolf Riders on the far left, units of Goblin Archers on the hills, a unit of Giants nearby, and a big unit of Orc Infantry (in chain) on the far right. We've each taken two turns at this point; my archers have taken the nearby hills, while his horse archers have done a shoot-and-run-back move which scored 1 hit on my wolf riders.

Turn 3 -- My orcs on the far right are entering the woods, while my other forces are remaining in place, readying bows at the open plains in the middle. John's infantry are making a careful advance towards the middle (half-speed, so longbows can get shots), but his horse archers are being more reckless. On this turn they've sped ahead, scored a few hits on my left-most goblin archers -- and, thanks to my rolling snake-eyes for morale, managed to rout the whole bleeding unit off the hill and out of the game. That's a horrible opening result for me.

Turn 4 -- Now things start to turn around for me. My wolf riders on the left have charged forward and caught a unit of horse archers in range; the resulting attacks have routed that unit. Likewise, my standing archers on the right hill get to roll 20 dice of attacks against the right-most pikemen, devastating and routing that unit.

Turn 6 --  A couple things have happened here. John's first unit of horse archers have routed off the table; the second unit charged into melee with my wolf riders, but they've been reduced to a single figure (counter) at this point. My giants have frustrated him a bit with their ability to take so many hits, while throwing stones for good damage; having taken 4 hits (half their HD), they've turned into the woods for cover. My archers caught his advancing longbows and eliminated them in another terrible rain of arrows. John's remaining pikes have caught my wolf riders, but his heavy infantry are too slow to make contact yet.

Turn 7 -- Here my forces turn and converge on John's remaining two units. His horse archers are gone,  but I don't fire on this turn for fear of hitting my own wolf riders with half the attacks (although other players would not be so scrupulous). On the next turn, John's pikes will successfully rout my goblin cavalry.

Turn 9 -- On turn 8, John's pikes turned around charged my orcs, getting a few hits. Rather than impale themselves on the pikes, the orcs turned and withdrew (as did my giants), opening space for my archers to viciously mow down the pikes. Here, his last unit of heavy infantry are escaping into the woods, while my orcs position themselves to go after them. At this point we call a truce and I concede control of the woods rather than playing out the final end-game.

Commentary -- This was a pretty dominant victory for my side, despite the initial loss of a whole unit of archers from an abysmal morale roll. Probably if the positions had been reversed, I wouldn't have proceeded into the open area so slowly with infantry (even though it maintained the protective formation with the longbows), since it allowed my goblin archers on the hill to mow down the enemy at their leisure. The other thing that clearly threw John a bit was the robust staying power of a gang of giants (the one figure representing 10 hill giants in formation), and I think that served to misdirect some attacks that wound up not doing very much. I have a hunch that the next time I play John, I may be facing nothing but a solid line of Hill Giants.


  1. Why would the longbows want to advance at all, when they have the range advantage over the goblin shortbows and a host of pikes shielding them from cavalry charges? I would think it would make more sense for the long-range archers to force the short-range archers to make an advance first, while the horse bows take a few more drive-by snipes at them.

    1. Yeah, possibly that might have been better, although there'd be a threat that my orcs get through the woods to the rear of the longbows, while my giants would be in range of the pikes in that situation (basically same range as longbows).