HelgaCon V - BOW Round Robin Game 2

Armies of Men Struggle Over Heavy Terrain

Here's the second game from the Book of War tournament at Helgacon V back in April. The game is being played at the 300 point level -- again, with brand-new players who are learning the game as they play, in an approximate 2-hour time slot. Also, we've just established a new tournament rule that routed units never come back into combat (so as to simplify and speed up the game).

Start -- This game features Kyle (in Red on the left) vs. Toby (in Blue on the Right). Red has selected a nicely balanced force of 10 Archer figures, 10 Light Cavalry, 10 Heavy Infantry, and 10 Pikemen. Blue has taken 6 Longbows, 6 Archers, 18 Pikemen (arranged in two blocks of 9 each), and 6 Heavy Cavalry (on the extreme close edge of the board). They've randomly rolled a great deal of very heavy terrain -- the whole middle of the board is clogged up with lots of Woods, a Marsh, a Pond, and a Hill (the latter on the side towards Red). There was some expectation by Blue that the various missile units could be organized together in a single unit, but this was disallowed; units must be of homogenous type, so at the back we have four close lines of Archers (with shortbows) and Longbows.

Turn 2 -- Both sides have taken two turns of movement, advancing forward. Blue has pushed his Pikes aggressively right into the Woods and Marsh; missile troops are now at the edge of the Marsh. Red has carefully positioned a body of troops on the Hill -- Heavy Infantry in front (which can serve as a shield against missiles), and Archers in the rear. Light Cavalry are somewhat tentatively advancing in the rear. On the close edge of the board, Red has drawn first blood; Pikes have rushed forward quickly to attack the Heavy Cavalry as they enter the Woods, downing one figure.

Turn 3 -- Blue is still pushing Pikes slowly through the Marsh and Woods; on the near edge, Heavy Cavalry have rushed in a counterattack against the Pike thicket, with the usual despairing "gasp" from the new player as he realizes how horrible this is; 3 Heavy Cavalry figures go down under the defensive Pikes, and another on Red's following round -- yet morale stays good. Missile units are firing at each other across the Marsh; with Red's advantageous position on the Hill, they've routed half of Blue's missile troops. Red has also pushed his Heavy Infantry forward into the Woods (which will be very slow, as plate-armored men go crashing through trees and thickets).

Turn 4A -- Blue seems to be getting the worst of it, and on his turn he performs a somewhat surprising move; both of his Pikes move into the open (out of the Woods and Marsh, respectively), and then switch into a Hedgehog formation (motionless, but very powerful for defensive pikes; every side is now protected by the Pike quadruple defensive bonuses). Heavy Cavalry are now in hand-to-hand combat with the Pikes, at a disadvantage at the edge of the Woods, and land no hits.

Turn 4B -- Red doesn't want to tangle with those Pikes on the near edge, so his Light Cavalry turn and maneuver further away to the back of the Hill. Archers turn and shoot the Pikes in the board-center, routing them. Now his pikes get no hits against the plate-armored Heavy Cavalry; his Heavy Infantry are right-facing in the Woods (you'll see no apparent change in position), and other Light Cavalry on the far edge are continuing to work slowly through the Woods there.

Turn 5 -- Although Blue's units of Pikes and Archers, he's doing a surprisingly good job of holding off the rest of Red's forces. Here, Red's Pikes have knocked off another unit of Heavy Cavalry -- but Blue's Pikes are otherwise keeping his opponent disjointed. Red's nearby Light Cavalry don't want to engage, his Archers on the Hill are busy turning, Heavy Infantry are slowed by the Woods, and now his other Light Cavalry are bogged down in the Marsh.

Turn 6 -- Blue's remaining Archers took aim at the Marsh-trapped Light Cavalry and routed them from the table; his Heavy Cavalry have wiped out several figures of Pikes; and his own hedgehogged Pikes have kept the rest of Red's army at bay. Unfortunately, at this point Red has wheeled his Archers around -- his ace-in-the-hole -- and shot those Pikes pretty much to pieces.

Turn 7 -- Pikemen on both sides have been driven from the table, and this frees up Red's Light Cavalry to charge forward and run down one of Blue's remaining Archer units. The Heavy Infantry have also finally made contact with the enemy Heavy Cavalry, and they're sure to do damage. At this point we call the game. Victory to the Red Men!

Commentary -- I really liked how this game played out. There was really interesting heavy terrain to mix things up, almost symmetric on the table except for the one Hill. Both of the new players probably made some moves they wouldn't repeat if they played a second time (like sending slow infantry or cavalry into rough terrain). Blue's move to hedgehog his Pikes and successfully split up the enemy from each other was novel and exciting, and might have carried the day if he hadn't had most of his archers get confused and routed right at the start. I'd love to see what happens when Kyle & Toby play the game again at some point!

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