Sunday, September 06, 2015

Fantasy Warriors

Around the Labor Day holiday I had some extra days off from work, so on a lark I decided to break out my old Fantasy Warriors miniatures and have a go at a solitaire game.  It is close to 20 years since I last played this game (most likely against my brother, Mark, in the commons room in New Hall at Missouri State University).  Anyway, over the years I have had the orcs and dwarves that came in the base game box painted, and I picked up a few other minis as well, so I was able to put a fully painted set of miniatures on the table.  This also gave me a chance to break out the old Geo-Hex game mat that I picked up about 15 years ago when I was in Arlington, VA.  I haven't used that thing since I moved away, but it is still in good shape.

I went with 800 point armies for both sides.  The orcs had one warchief and one battle leader, each commanding two units.  The orcs also had a hero and a courier.  The dwarves had a warchief and two battle leaders.  One of the battle leaders had two units under him, and the other only one.  The dwarves also had a hero.

Unlike many other fantasy miniatures wargames, Fantasy Warriors has a pretty busy pre-battle phase where you can try to outscout your opponent, read omens of the upcoming battle, etc.  In this battle, both armies sent one command out scouting, and both read the omens.  The orcs won (barely) the scouting contest, so the orc side set up the terrain and picked what side they wanted to enter from.  However, because they didn't outmaneuver the dwarves, the dwarf player could roll dice to see if he could move terrain pieces, and 3 of the five terrain pieces got moved to block out the orcs.  This became quite important later.  As far as the omens went, the orcs had favorable omens, and the dwarves had unfavorable omens.  The orc warchief also boasted that he needed no bodyguard, so as long as he never joined a unit the orcs would have a morale advantage.  Also, the game started in stage 4 of the night.  This matters to the orcs, because they don't do well during the day.  With that settled, the initial placement was done, and the game started.

View of the starting battlefield from the dwarven side.

On the first turn not much happened.  Any commands that are sent scouting start the battle with HOLD orders, so they can't move.  The orc warchief sent his courier with attack orders to the scouting orcs, while the Dwarven warchief had to hoof it over to his scouting command all by himself.  Do you know that dwarves in heavy armor are slow?  They are slow.  This warchief should have picked up a courier, as well.

The scouting orcs watching the dwarves while they await new orders.

On turn two the scouting orcs received their attack orders, but there was some miscommunication and they were delayed.  This is another cool thing about the Fantasy Warriors game (though also a potentially frustrating thing).  To mimic the incomplete command control that would occur in a medieval setting, your commands don't automatically receive your orders.  You roll a die and check the leadership rating of the battle leader to see what they do.  Sometimes they accept new orders, and sometimes they don't.  So skimping on points by getting a leader with a low rating can sometimes ruin your game for you.

After turn two.

Turn three saw the dwarven elite axemen advance under OPPOSE orders towards the central woods.  In retrospect, this was pretty stupid.  They should have waited however long it took for the other dwarves to get their new orders, but I was thinking that they could use the trees for cover.  That kind of worked, but not really.

On turn four, the dwarven warchief finally got to this battle leader and he tried to give new orders, but the dwarven battle leader was confused so no new orders were received.  See, when you only have level 2 leaders (out of a range of 1 - 5), sometimes they are dumb.  The orcs have finally gotten going with their ATTACK order for the scouting party, so things are moving.

The dwarven axemen have reached the woods, and now realize that they are going to get surrounded.

On turn five the dwarven battle leader finally figures out what his boss has been trying to tell him, and the main dwarven force chugs into motion.  The dwarven axes realize that they are in trouble and start backing away from the approaching orcs, but the orcs are faster than they are so they are in in a spot of bother.  It is now daylight, so the orcs are at a disadvantage for shooting and morale checks.

On turn six the orc archer units get into position to shoot some dwarven axemen, but the dwarven crossbow unit has finally found its range, as well.
The dwarves are not retreating fast enough!

On turn seven, stuff started to happen, just not the way that I thought it would.  Things started out looking rough for our dwarves...

That's a lot of incoming arrows...

...but, as it turns, dwarven heavy armor is pretty tough, and after rolling a total of 26 attacks against the doughty dwarves, not one of them fell.  I can't say the same for our orc archers.  See these guys?  They aren't gonna stick around very long.

Note the lack of heavy armor on the orc archers.

While the dwarves were shrugging off 26 arrow shots, a barrage of seven crossbow shots managed to kill three of the eight orc archers in this unit, including the unit leader.  So what did the rest of the orc archers do?  They ran away.  Yes, the routed immediately!

End of turn seven.  The orc bodyguard are now looking quite exposed to dwarven crossbow fire, while the orc spearmen are moving towards the woods, because why should they move around and get shot, too?

On turn eight, things went a bit more evenly.  The orc archers rounding the far side of the woods were able to kill two of the axemen, but two of the orc bodyguard, including the unit leader, fell to crossbow bolts.  When rolling to see what the reaction of the dwarves was to losing some soldiers, I rolled that they went into bloodlust!  This almost never happens with dwarves (which are quite disciplined, normally).  This status overrides their OPPOSE orders, and means that they are going to charge right into the nearest foes.  Which are these lightly armored archers that just shot their mates.

So, just maybe, upsetting the angry dwarves was a bad idea.

I later realized that I messed up when I rolled a reaction for the dwarves.  The axemen had 12 miniatures in the unit, and you only roll for a reaction when missile fire kills at least 25% of the fugures.  That is 3, for those of you doing the math at home, not 2.  Oops.

Things are about to get sticky.  On turn nine the orc bodyguards got tired of getting killed at range, so they headed towards the woods, as well.  The bloodlusting dwarves headed right towards the orc archers, which had ATTACK orders, so they weren't going to run away or anything smart like that.  The orc spears got nice and cozy in the woods, but that also slowed them down, so they were never going to be able to save their archer friends in time.

So close, yet so far away.

The dwarven axemen then moved in and murdered the archers.  They lost two more soldiers to melee combat, but they killed seven of the 10 orc archers outright, and the rest routed right off the field.  This caused the orc army to make a command check, and they developed problems.  The bodyguard became shaken, while the orc spears became disorganized, which means they have to give up movement for a turn while they get themselves sorted out.  This really screw up the orcs' ability to try to salvage this battle, since they can't even maneuver themselves while they get shot up.

End of turn 9.  Not looking good for the greenskins.

On turn 10, the dwarven axes left bloodlust (thanks to their battle leader having good leadership, and not rolling a "1"), the dwarven spears moved up while the orcs could only organize themselves, and the dwarven crossbows shot and killed the orc hero!  On the positive side for the orcs, it is night again.

On turn 11 everyone got themselves into position for the big scrum, and the dwarven crossbows kept killing orc bodyguards.  The orc warchief had to negate his boast to get the bodyguards out of shaken status, so now instead of having +1 morale for his successful boast, his army is at -1 because everyone knows he is a liar.

Here it comes...

Turn twelve saw me make another mistake.  The orcs spears managed a grand total of one kill on the dwarven spears, but it was on a special!  They chose the dwarven warchief, hoping to kill him and make the dwarves run away.  Unfortunately for them, the warchief made his saving throw, so the orcs killed nobody.  The dwarves stabbed two of the orcs.  My mistake here is that I didn't have orc spears make a morale check.  In missile fire you only check for morale if you lose 25% or more of the unit.  In melee, you should check after every turn, whether you win or lose the battle.  That probably would have made the orcs flee right away.  As it went, they stuck around for two more turns, enough time for the surviving bodyguard to close with the dwarven crossbows.

A fine scrum.


By turn 14, the dwarven axemen had rounded the flank of the orc spears, which lost seven soldiers in that turn.  They lost their nerve and routed, and the remaining two bodyguards and the orc warchief routed when they saw that all the rest of the orcs had run away.

The orcs suffered a crushing defeat, as all of their units routed off the field of battle, and all of the dwarven units and individuals were still standing.

In retrospect, there is no way that this battle should have taken 14 turns, that is crazy.  I had some bad initial unit placements, and then everyone had troubles with receiving new orders (because the battle leaders had bad leadership), which just delayed things further.  If the orcs had rolled better for their initial arrow volleys they might have been able to knock out the axemen, but overall they were pretty lame.  But, I had fun.  It was enjoyable to revisit this old game and to get some use out of all of these figures I've hauled halfway across the country and back in various moves.  Maybe I can get some use out of all those old Warhammer plastic human troops I've had for 12 years and see how they handle an orc horde...

Saturday, January 17, 2015

10 x 10 Boardgame Challenge at BGG

I have created my new blog at Board Game Geek and have started recording play results.  So, if you care about that kind of thing, kindly head over here to follow along.