Recently there was a session report by Matt Sanderson for Muddy Waters using the suggested rules for that scenario, namely the impromptu mode of play (take one of the six available Call to Arms decks,draw four, no specialists). A long distance friend and I had some time to play BattleLore on Vassal the other day, and found ourselves on the same scenario, but chose to play using the current full compliment of Call to Arms - Organised Mode involving the expanded Call to Arms decks and randomly selecting four of the thirty-six specialist cards, choosing two among them for play.
While the game play did turn out to be interesting (doesn't take much in a BL game for me to find it so ), the set up was interesting in its own right. I've been disappointed that FFG hasn't issued race specific CtA decks for the Humans, Dwarfs, and Goblins, but the selection for this particular game came close, with at least every deployment card drawn containing dwarves and goblins, if not exclusively so.
The Pennants were dealt deployment cards A10, A11, C3, and C5 from the Pennant decks. C5 was selected for the Left Wing, C3 for the Center, A10 the Right Wing, and A11 for the reserves. An Ogre and mercenary bagpipes were gained through the specialist cards.
The Standards found themselves with the Standard deck cards A1 on the Left Wing, B10 in the Center, A2 on the Right, and B7 for the reserves. Fitting nicely thematically, Bolt Throwers and Spotters were added as specialists.
The War Councils consisted of Level 2 Commander, Level 3 Wizard, Level 1 Creature (Blue Widow) for the Pennants; Level 2 Commander, Level 3 Warrior, Level 1 Creature (Hill Giant) sat in the Standard's war tent.
And so the virtual table was set:
Control of the Bridge victory condition (hold more water crossings than opponent to obtain a victory banner [holding the majority of the fords counting as one bridge]) rested in the Pennants' hands, the Standard player not so concerned with bolts at the ready. Disabling the dwarvish engineering became priority one for the Pennant player.
The rockpile kept the spider at bay for the first turn, but the fragile bolt throwers on the Standard Left became more so after arrows were released. The brief reprieve for the bolt throwers on the right was not well realized as, despite the spotter, the first volley of bolts did not find their heavy cavalry mark:
The spider sprang from its perch to set upon the bolt throwers on the Standard Right, while the bridge on the left was set up to be defensed. The first lore play of the game occurred as the Bolt Throwers attempted to demonstrate the quality of agility. No such luck as they found themselves ensnared in a web and down to a single (well, double...) figure.
The Standards responded by drawing a shield around the injured bolt throwers on the right, while moving the Hill Giant up the left and covering his advance with fire. This time the bolts were truer and a pack of hyena riders were taken to the brink:
With one bolt thrower regiment essentially down, the Pennants turned their attention to the other, ordering the archers to finish what they had started. And down they went, becoming the first unit removed from the board, after a total of 7d thrown their way to this point in the game had yielded the needed two green helms.
Perhaps against better judgement, the Standards shifted focus back to their right, and mounted a monster hunting party. Two heavy cavalry units and the axe swinging dwarves lined up to take their turns. Only the first, a red cavalry unit, would get its chance, forcing a retreat and missing with its critical check. The decision to follow up was not acted upon.
With lore, no place on the board is safe, and the well defended bolt throwers were removed by a card tailor fit to do so, Divine Terror:
The Pennants then rearranged their center formations, and moved in again on the Pennant Right/Standard Left with the spider, spinning another web with a 2nd straight optimal roll: Bonus, Lore, Flag.
Cards began to become a problem for the Standard forces. Instead of a direct response to the dire action on the right, on order was issued to the center to move the Giant up into the fray as well as rush over some dwarf units towards the left.
On the Pennants' next turn, some rust was shown on the part of the Standard commander, who, unbeknownst to the Pennant player was holding Fearless, but instead chose to play parry, thinking the unit bold:
Hard to say if the play of Fearless would've altered the outcome, but likely would've been a 4d battle back rolled against the spider - and who knows how that may have gone. As it played out, however, both the heavy cavalry and webbed archers were removed from the board, and the Pennants held a commanding 5-0 banner lead.
With desperation driving the actions of the Standards, they pressed in all areas of the board, but did not get enough from the dice to make headway:
While an attempt to push the Hill Giant back with a blast from the bagpipes was unsuccessful (the aforementioned Fearless making its play), the Standard's regular cavalry fell, leaving only one banner remaining to be had.
A final attempt was made on the spider, but the only positive result was pushing it back four hexes, behind the river. To add insult to injury, the follow on "free hit" to the Pennants' regular cavalry also only produced a retreat.
The ensuing Pennants' turn would prove to be the last. Seemingly enough with the Fireball, but it would only scorch the still proud Dwarf Chieftans, and the Patrol orders would be necessary to remove the final banner:
Overall, a satisfying game: units from the core game and six different (well, depending on how one views these exactly) expansions hitting the board.
A bit disappointing that the Ogres never made it across the bridge, but often they find themselves away from the action without the aid of a lore card or foot onslaught to propel them along.
The spider ruled the board as it has done in each of the past three games it has appeared. Good fortune both in rolls for and against seem to have followed this charmed creature, it is true, but 3 hex movement and 3d attack has caused it to supplant the Hill Giant as the most dependable/versatile creature that isn't a Dragon.
While I didn't get to see the bagpipe vs bolt battle I had envisioned on the Standard Right/Pennant Left side of the board, it was interesting to see yet again the weakness of the bolt throwers outweigh the strength. Granted, some had to do with the timing of the Standards' draws - Darken the Skies was drawn, but not until only one weakened and hidden bolt thrower remained, however, I still see them as the #1 priority when facing them on the board. Cannot sit back and let them tear apart ones forces. It has been good to see that they are generally well balanced, by being so frail on the board, and not being able to shot over friendly units.
- Last edited Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:07 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:20 pm
God Bless the USA
Having only played the initial historical scenarios, I have to say appreciate the depth of your summary here. Makes we want to get into the more meatier scenarios even more. Thanks.
Exactly why I took the time to post it - hoping to generate some more interest in the game.
I still enjoy playing each of the base game scenarios, be they with their intial rules, or something like adding the Medieval Lore rules to Burgos, Castile, the third adventure in the core game.
The flexibility in the game play for this system is one of the reasons I play this game as often as I do - close to something for everybody in terms of simplicity to bells and whistles.