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Subject: 5 plays of Bannockburn to test Hack n Slash rss

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Ben Skellett
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Over the last two days we've played 5 games of the Bannockburn scenario to test the new command control & Hack n Slash rules proposed here.

I've played this scenario once before with the standard rules & the Scottish won that game though I don't recall by how much.

A quick summary of the five games is that there were two draws, one marginal victory (1VP) to the Scottish & two substantive victories (2VP) to the Scottish.

The English didn't win any games but the fact that there were 3 levels of victory means that this would certainly be a suitable scenario for swapping sides for the rematch & seeing who did better out of the two games ... or maybe best of three ... no best of five!

The Overall English Strategy

In each game the English were very conscious of what would happen if they lost command control & in most turns spent all but 1 Command Point to try & prevent it. The leftover CP was generally used for formation movement to get the English Light Archers in range of the Scottish PX units on the hills. When 2 or 3 of these LA units were in range, the CP was used for formation firing. Despite spending large amounts of CP to maintain control they didn't always get lucky.

If you read on (or skip ahead) you'll see a cool new strategy in the last game described.

The reasons you don't want to lose control

The issue with losing command control is that the English Knights have to fight Cavalry-effective PX units on hills. This makes the Scottish PX units +2 against the Knights. If/when the KTs become disordered this becomes +4. If the KTs are in the stream when they attack then they get a -2 penalty & really the best the KTs can hope for is to attack a PX unit from it's front flank & get the +1 attack vector.

Then since the KTs must attack when command control is lost (thanks to the new Hack n Slash rule being proposed) then the attacker must roll equal or higher (with modifiers) than the defender to get a result of Engaged or better. If they roll less than the defender (with modifiers) then it's going to be a result of Attacker Disordered or even Attacker Eliminated in the case that the defender's total is more than 2 times the attacker's. I won't go through all the combinations but for the KTs attacking from the stream there's a 100% chance that they'll end up disordered or worse (50% AE) & the best result they can hope for is Engaged (with a 1-in-6 chance). That assumes a +1 attack vector also! The KTs attacking from the flat fare a little better with a 1-in-36 chance that they'll get a result of Defender Disordered, otherwise they'll be at least disordered themselves with a 1-in-6 chance of Attacker Eliminated.

Then once KTs become disordered the combat outcomes get much worse & if they lose command control in consecutive turns they won't have a chance to rally or back up, etc.

Game Details

In order of biggest win to closest draw here's what happened:

1. Scottish win by 2 VP, maybe more!

The English lost command control in turns 1 & 2. The English KTs did manage to eliminate the Scottish LA unit in turn 1 & lost only one KT due to the Hack n Slash. In turn 2 the Hack n Slash resulted in 4 KTs being eliminated then one more was eliminated when one of the Scottish PX units attacked it.

Losing 6 KTs is enough for the English army to panic so that happened at the start of turn 3. Command control was maintained in turn 3 & winning initiative the English attempted to rally in formation though only one KT unit was successful.

In turn 4, command control was lost again & after panic movement & Hack n Slash only 1 English Light Archer unit remained.

We called the game at this point. Perhaps the Scottish Knights could have got the the English camp & destroyed it before the game ended but we didn't wait to find out.

The Scottish won by 2 VP due to the English panicking & overwhelming battlefield control.

2. Scottish win by 2 VP

The English started off well in this game, maintaining control for the first 2 turns & began moving their archers across the ford towards the Scots on the hills.

In turn 3 command control was lost, the English Knights charged, Hacked n Slashed & 4 of them were eliminated. Control was maintained in turn 4 but then lost again in turn 5. In the ensuing Hack n Slash enough KTs were eliminated to panic the army.

In turn 6 control was maintained but the English army panicked. After panic movement the remaining English army consisted of 2 Light Archer units. We called the game & the Scots won with 2 VP.

3. Scottish win by 1VP

This was the first game we played.

Command control was lost in the first turn, the Knights charged & 4 of them were eliminated in the ensuing Hack n Slash.

Control was maintained in turn 2 but lost again in turn 3. In turn 3 an English Light Archer unit got lucky & took down a Scottish PX & in the melee phase 2 English KTs were eliminated due to Hack n Slash. This was enough to cause Panic in turn 4

Turn 4 is nearly always an interesting turn in this scenario. The Scottish player got only 1 CP & had to choose between spending it to bring in the Scottish Leader from the camp, using panic movement on the English, firing the LA at a disordered enemy unit or rallying a disordered Scottish unit. In the end they chose to bring in the Leader & I think that's usually the best option but it seemed like a tough decision at the time.

In turns 5, 6 & 7 the English maintained control & went about rallying troops (quite easy to do with Knights) & moving units when possible.

The game finished at the end of turn 7 with neither side having Battlefield Control (it was 34 to 25 to the Scots) so it was only a marginal victory (1VP) to the Scots for panicking the English.

4. A Draw!

In this game the English maintained control for the first 4 turns & did so with CP to spare. As a result, by turn 4 there were 2 English KTs on the hills (on their left) & 3 LA units within range of the Scottish. It was looking good!

On turn 5 control was lost. The Knights, who had been carefully circling the Scots, charged & those on the hills might have been able to cause some damage if they weren't facing the Scottish KT unit stacked with their x2 Leader who had emerged on turn 4. That guy is just a nightmare for the English!

With some hope the English archers fired (6 shots in total) but not one of them did any damage to the cavalry-effective PX units on hills who also get +2 missile defense!

After the melee round with Hack n Slash 2 Scottish KTs were eliminated & 2 PXs disordered.

Command control was lost again on turn 6. This time the English archers did manage to eliminate a PX but after melee another 3 English KTs were gone. Enough to cause panic.

We rolled for the Game End & it was a '1'. There would be no panic.

The strength point totals were 34 to 29. There would be no victory.

5. Another draw but a new tactic emerges!

Spoiler alert: skip this one if you don't want to know about a cool strategy that you may end up using every time you play this scenario.

After five games of the same scenario we finally got creative. (Actually we wanted to try this after 3 games but didn't get the chance.)

Turn 1. Control is maintained & the English formation is moved with the 1 CP remaining. As part of this 'formation move' 5 English KTs exit the battlefield. They just trotted off the map right near the English camp. Exiting the map in this way does not affect the panic rating (but the units can never return).

This left only 5 English KTs on the map. Even if all 5 are eliminated they only contribute 40 to the panic rating of 43. If the English don't panic then it's 1 less VP to the Scots & the Rapid-Fire-enabled English archers might hang around a bit longer to work their magic on the almost stationery Scottish PXs. That was the plan anyway.

In turn 2 command was maintained again & the English archers continued to stumble across the ford.

Control was lost in turn 3 but in the resulting Hack n Slash only the Scottish LA was eliminated since three of the KTs ended up adjacent to it & the other two couldn't reach the enemy yet.

Control was maintained in turn 4 & English archers eliminated a PX.

In turn 5, control was lost (with a fair amount of disappointment since the English spent 2 CP to try & keep it). In the activation phase the English archers eliminated another PX with their Rapid Fire but in melee 3 English KTs were eliminated helped along in some cases by the Scottish x2 Leader stacked with his Knights.

Ready to go for another turn we checked for game end & got a '1'. Game over! With losses on both sides (for a change) the final strength totals were 24 for the Scots & 13 for the English. Had the English lost just one more point the Scots would have had Battlefield Control but double 13 is 26 so it ended in a draw.

We'd like to try this "exit strategy" again but 5 games is enough for now.

Conclusion

Having played this scenario five times with the new Hack n Slash rules & seen three different victory outcomes I'm happy that the new rules won't "break the game". And while I don't think that the English have anywhere near as much of a chance of winning this scenario as the Scots here's what Mike Nagel (ABD designer) said on the issue of "balanced" scenarios:

Quote:
[...] most battles were not fair fights. Fortunately, ABD plays quickly enough that players can play the battle as each side and total up total VPs between each fight to see who wins.


With the new Hack n Slash rule, Impetuous units no longer rush up to the enemy & wait there to see if they're attacked (an action which a sensible player only takes if they have a good enough modifier). Now Impetuous units attack! Sometimes they get lucky & sometimes they don't, it's no longer up to the commander & I think that's the whole point of losing control.

P.S. I don't think it's necessary but I mentioned some ideas in another thread about "balancing" this scenario to give the English more of a chance. In case anyone wants to discuss it here my first thoughts were to increase the English panic rating to 49 (from 43) & decrease the Scottish leader to a B (down from an A). Other options that have crossed my mind are giving the English an extra CP each turn &/or allowing them to automatically maintain control on the first turn. Or why not replace the Scottish KT with a HC? Some combo of these might work for you & as long as you swap sides it'll all balance out in the end.
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Mike Nagel
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Ben,

Thanks a lot for checking these modified rules out. As you note, they probably won't break the game and do a better job in simulating loss of control. I don't know about that "wandering off the battlefield tactic" ... that may be a little too creative!

-- M
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Ben Skellett
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mpnagel wrote:
I don't know about that "wandering off the battlefield tactic" ... that may be a little too creative!

-- M


Ha ha! I wondered what you would think about that!

 
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Alex Rom
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hxbx wrote:


With the new Hack n Slash rule, Impetuous units no longer rush up to the enemy & wait there to see if they're attacked (an action which a sensible player only takes if they have a good enough modifier). Now Impetuous units attack! Sometimes they get lucky & sometimes they don't, it's no longer up to the commander & I think that's the whole point of losing control.


I'm glad that this variant works quite well. It really sounds more reasonable than the previous version of "Impetuous Charge".

And considering possible changes of Bannockburn scenario, maybe just replace PX scottish units by PK units? I think shiltrons were lighter and worse trained than, say, macedonian phalanx or spartan hoplites.
 
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p55carroll
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leksa wrote:
And considering possible changes of Bannockburn scenario, maybe just replace PX scottish units by PK units? I think shiltrons were lighter and worse trained than, say, macedonian phalanx or spartan hoplites.

I'm sure that's true, but it's a relative thing. The English weren't as well trained as Spartans either.
 
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