Sunday Night Book of War

We had the good fortune of having our friends Matt & Kate over this weekend, while dinner cooked and the ladies played some Scrabble, Matt & I took the opportunity for a rematch in Book of War. Here's how that went down:

Start --We're playing just the Basic Game at 200 points; Matt's on the far side. For terrain, Matt first rolled the Stream element and rather wisely set it up in a broad arc, giving himself default ownership of most of the board (after which we placed the Rough and Woods pieces). Then he set up his red army: from left-to-right he has small units of Pikes, Heavy Infantry, Archers, Heavy Cavalry, Horse Archers, and a 2nd unit of Horse Archers. On the near side, my blue army: two units of Medium Infantry, Longbows, Heavy Cavalry, and a 2nd unit of Longbows.

Turn 2 -- The primary action is on the right; Matt moved up his Horse Archers and my Longbows engaged them at long distance. My longbows took out a single figure of horse archers, who succeeded at the resulting morale check. And then on the 2nd turn he eliminated all of my missile troops at a blow, as you can see below. This puts me at a terrific disadvantage; he has full control of the majority of the board, and my forces are stuck exposed in the open, unable to attack unless the stream is crossed.

Turn 4 --  Keeping my Heavy Cavalry in place on the right, I'm hoping to lure Red into rashly crossing the stream, but he's not taking the bait. While my heavy cavalry is immune to missile attacks at long range (frustrating the opponent a bit), on the next turn he'll move another inch forward and then be able to score a hit on my cavalry. I'm pushing my infantry slowly up through the Woods on the left flank, but you can see that the rest of his army is converging in that direction to meet them.

Turn 5 --  At this point, with no other prospects and nothing left to lose, I charge all of my forces forward. Fortunately on the far left, red's pikes were turned around (partly because they have no benefit in the woods, and he wanted to let other units through); my infantry have caught them in the rear and cut down the entire unit. On the near right, my heavy cavalry have gotten halfway through the Stream.

Turn 6 --  My infantry and cavalry have both lost a figure or two to missile fire, but our morale remains good. Near the stream, my heavy cavalry have burst out of the water, eliminating two figures and routing the last horse archer there. At far side of the board, my infantry press the attack, catching the the horse archers there and scoring a hit.

Turn 7 -- Red's horse archers are either routing from the table, or have turned face and fled from melee with my infantry. Those infantry have again surged forward, this time into the foot archers, and eliminated most of that unit. My heavy cavalry have hammered against red's heavy cavalry, but don't score any hits. Also, I have my other unit of medium infantry advancing in the Woods, hoping to surround and defeat red's Heavy Infantry there.

Turn 8 --  On the left, the red heavy infantry have struck against my medium troops, killed two figures, and routed the rest (so much for that hope). In the middle, my infantry haven't yet finished off the archers. On the right, red's running horse archers have drawn swords and struck against my heavy cavalry, and amidst the cavalcade of horses I've taken one hit.

Turn 10 -- While the armored horsemen rain blows upon each other (mostly to no effect), my medium infantry have managed to take the rear of red's heavy cavalry. Here the combined attacks eliminate one figure and the morale roll on the red dice is: Snake-eyes! This means the red heavy cavalry is effectively finished, although they'll stay and fight at a penalty because they're trapped between my two units. I've also finished off his lightly-armored horse archers here, too, leaving only red's heavy infantry; one more potent force to reckon with (once they finally get in contact).

Turn 12 -- While I'm finishing off the last of the enemy heavy cavalry, red's heavy infantry have hit the back of my infantry, routing them. They kill a figure while the rest now flee the board.

Turn 13 -- The final showdown. With the space in between finally clear, red's last unit hits my last unit; they get the "6" on one die needed to score a hit, taking down one figure, and forcing me to roll a morale check. I'm rolling two dice and adding +1 (for the remaining figure) and +2 (for cavalry hit dice), with the goal of at least 10 total. The dice roll: 6, meaning I've missed it by a single pip -- my cavalry rout in defeat, and Red has won the day!

Commentary -- Sometimes I think it's just sheer lunacy how often this game becomes a nail-biter like this, with the play coming down to the very last dice-roll between single units remaining on each side. Matt played extremely well for just his second wargame of ever; his intuition is pretty much spot-on as to use of both terrain and unit forces. Again, he complimented Book of War for its realism and how he can leverage his knowledge of medieval history into the game strategy. Personally, I was really happy with my own play (no glaring mistakes), and pleased with how I was able to battle back after the initial loss of all my missile troops, and being basically trapped in the narrow band between stream and board-edge. Once again, aggression pays off in forcing the issue to a conclusion, even if I didn't quite pull out the win here. It could definitely have gone either way at the end; a very satisfying game for both sides.

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