Selim 'Selim' Talat
Basic rules tutorial - Battle of the Barrens
I am Eldrichus, a scholar of all matters martial. It seems our good general has sent you to study under my tutelage. Rest assured, I am anything but long-winded, and very clear in my intentions (if I may be so boisterious!).
It appears you are as-of-yet unversed in the ways of anything but the smallest of skirmishes. Well, I am afraid to say that your (and please do not take offence to this) inexperience of battle-craft will not get you very far in these ruthless wars. I bid thee, pay close attention, for we shall start your training by looking at the battle of the barrens.
It is a small battle against the epic movements of armies we have witnessed in recent times, but nonetheless much can be learnt from it.
Before taking to the field, both generals must decide on a points-value for the battle, and then muster and recruit units from their army lists to match this points value. Let us look at the composition of the armies involved.The warhost of the Young Realms consisted of six companies (or counters) in total, divided into three small regiments of equal size. They consisted of spearhosts, archery and lighthoof cavalry. Opposed to them was a battalion of Eternal Order, of similar size - six companies, again divided into three small regiments; the only difference being a regiment of macery in addition to archers and light cavalry.
Let us now inspect the armies from the annals of history, that we may understand the power of these forces more easily.
Impressive are they not! You will notice there are three numbers at the bottom of each counter, divided by three '/'. The first number represents the movement of the counter. The second number represents its melee skill, and the third represents its armour. There are additional rules that need to be taken into consideration - for instance, these macery are heavy infantry, and so they may not move diagonally, and their armour roll is improved against missile weapons owing to their shieldwall formation. For these more specific rules, we must look to the army lists. The stats as presented here are just a general guide, and do not contain specifics, magical abilities or missile weapon statistics.
So much for my not being long-winded. Yet forgive my wayward quill and let us jump straight into the Battle of the Barrens!
Here is the battlefield itself. At the moment, it is bare of any armies. So, the first thing the generals will do is deploy their forces. Each side rolls a D6. The loser must deploy the first regiment. Regiments may only be deployed in their relevant deployment zones (although in other battles ambushing warbands may lurk in dense terrain!).
Having lost the roll off, the Young Realms player must place a regiment in his deployment zone. He places a Spearhost regiment.
Now the players alternate placing one regiment at a time until both of their armies are fully deployed for battle.
And so it begins... (Turn one)
The army of the Young Realms (black) is deployed on the left, the army of Eternal Order (red) on the right.
The first phase in a game of Shadowstone Saga is the Magic phase. However, as there are no casters on this particular battlefield, we move straight into the next phase - the movement phase. To determine who moves first in the movement phase, both players roll a dice. The high roller moves first. The Young Realms player wins the roll off and has to move first.
The Spearhost advances forward. For each square moved, or for each turn made, one movement point is expended. As the Spearhost has two movement points, it may move or turn up to two times. The archery falls in line behind them - as they are a light regiment they may move diagonally. By positioning themselves behind a friendly regiment, the vulnerable archery cannot be targeted by enemy archers (unless they are on a hill or using catapult weapons), and are less prone to melee attack. As the regiment infront of them is facing directly away from the archers, they may fire through the friendly regiment without penalty, provided they are shooting directly forwards.
Finally, the light cavalry on the flank move behind the safety of the hills.
Now it is time for the army of Eternal Order (red) to move. The Macery advance at full march, the archers tentatively move forward, just in range of the enemy spearhosts. The light cavalry on the flank spur their skeletal steeds into a full dash, cresting the hill and ending their movement in the midst of the enemy lines!
Before we continue, Eldrichus would like to make a quick note on movement and zones-of-control. All regiments may move over open ground as normal, but certain terrain pieces may reduce movement or block line of sight.
All unengaged regiments (excluding artillery and flyers) project a zone-of-control. This represents the fear factor caused by soldiers marching in ranks and the disruptive influence of a regiments scouts. Moving through an enemy regiments zone-of-control costs an extra 1 movement point per square. Zones of control are projeted one square orthogonal to each unengaged regiment.
Lets have a look at all of the zones of control on the battlefield at the moment:
Now that the movement phase is over, we go on to the Missile phase. Archery played an important role in the Battle of the Barrens, as it does on many fields. Archers are quite powerful inspite of their low-points cost, and relish the opportunity to shoot across open ground!
Missile fire is mostly conducted simultaneously (the exception is when regiments are outflanked by their counterparts). As the Young Realms won the initiative, they shall roll first.
As we can see from the diagram, the archery can only draw line of sight from its corner to the enemy lighthoof; this means an 'awkward shot' is the best they can manage.
If we look at the statistics of the Archery, we find the following: 4 / 2. The first number indicates their range, the second indicates their to-hit roll. As this is an awkward shot, they must minus one to hit, meaning that they will need to roll a '1' to hit! Each company in the regiment may fire when shooting to the front, and so both roll one dice each.
Two 'fours'! The fast moving cavalry was evidently too swift for the clumsy bowcraft of the Young Realms archery - their speed impresses Eldrichus!
The Eternal Order general may now shoot. First of all, lets look at their archers line of sight and range restrictions.
As they are shooting unimpeded, they need to roll '2' or under to hit. However, her archers are just as paltry, and red-shafted flights of arrows patter harmlessly to the ground around the spearhosts boney feet.
Lastly, we have the morale phase, where regiments who lost companies in melee have to test to see if their resolve will hold. At this stage of the battle, no regiment's melee was particularly tested, and so the officers did form their troops up into battle formations and sounded the horns...
To recap, both plays share one turn to create a sense of simultaneity, and the phase order is as follows - Magic generation and casting, Movement, Shooting, Melee, Morale.
A clash of arms...(Turn Two)
After an anti-climactic start, the Battle of the Barrens started to get brutal.
Once more the eager Young Realms general wins the initiative roll, and pounces on the enemy!
Firstly, the spear hosts moves forward. Then the lighthoof cavalry skillfully turn, and start to ride toward the flank of their counterpart, picking up speed. They lower their lances as the enemy horsemen come into sight. The cavalry have such a good movement value that they can turn, move three squares forward and then engage the enemy with their last two movement points (remember it costs an extra point of movement to move into an enemies zone of control).
As the cavalry rush past, the archers retake their position behind the spearhosts.
Then the Eternal Order player may move. Despite her light cavalry being hit in the flank, as she has not moved yet she may turn to face the enemy - this is because movement in the Shadowstone Saga has some element of simultaneity to it.
The macery move toward the enemy melee troops and the archers hold their ground.
Onto the shooting phase. The Young Realms archery is again ineffective. The Eternal orders archers then form ranks and prepare to fire. This time, their shooting is effective. The Spearhosts may now try and save against the incoming hit. They have an armour value of '2' meaning they must roll '2' or under to save. Against the odds, the stout spearmen survive the incoming fire and taunt the enemy with a raspy shout.
Now comes the Melee phase between the two cavalry regiments. Melee is conducted simultaneously - most of the time. The regiments roll one dice per company. As the lighthoof are Melee - 2, they must roll '2' or under to hit. This is where the battle gets especially nasty, as both sides cavalry scores a potent number of mortal wounds upon their enemy! And to further the carnage, neither side manages to make its saves! In an explosion of bone-dust, armour and splintered lances, one hundred horsemen from either side are mutually annihilated. Such poetic carnage pleases Eldrichus, yet the sight of a riderless horse picking through the boney bodies for her master greatly fills his heart with the pathos!
Night falls, and with it a hundred souls...(Turn Three)
Once more winning the initiative, the Young Realms warleader takes the initiative.
In a shocking turn of events, the archers abandon their yew bows and draw short swords, charging through the forest (for one stretch of woodland does not block line of sight, although denser forest will) into the macery waiting on the other side! This is taking advantage of the movement rule that states the following: A regiment may always move at least one square forward or backwards, providing they are not moving in to difficult terrain.
With the heavy infantry forced into a fighting formation, the spearhosts could now advance beside them unharrased and maneouvre their ponderous porcupine formation into the enemy!
With close quarter fighting minutes away, the captains of the macery skillfully turned their shieldwall toward the oncoming spearmen, leaving their flank to the less-effective enemy archers.
Once more the arrows did fly. With only the Eternal orders archery unengaged, and thus able to shoot, the shooting commenced. The sky darkened with red-shafts, like a flight of exotic birds (of death!). Yet disaster seemed to strike, for now that the archers target was engaged with friendly companies, the chances of striking their allies increased. Eldrichus finds the archers heroic volleys most ironic!
Yet disaster was averted, for the macery were already formed in their shieldwall, and this made them resilient to arrows (indicated by the + 1 missile in their armour stat, meaning their armour is more effective against missiles, whereas an entire company of spearmen were cut down by arrows or scattered beyond recovery.
And so it should come to one final push, to determine which would win the battle of the barrens, and which would be pushed to flight. As the Young Realms archers had outflanked the macery, they would be striking first (if they had attacked the enemy to the rear they would have struck first and each hit would have counted as two!). And strike they did, against all the odds leading a successful attack on the foe. Yet once more the armour of the macery held. And in return, the macery crushed the spearhosts to their front - twice over! And in death the spearmen caused minimal casualties on their foe.
When allocating attacks, players must determine before striking which way they will attack.
Now at last we get to a relevant morale phase. The last remaining Young Realms regiment, the Archery, must test morale. Every regiment has a morale value. This represents how many companies they need to lose in one turn before testing morale. Regiments who suffer an equal or greater number of company losses than they have Morale, must roll equal to or under their Morale value to hold - this means that in the Shadowstone Saga you can expect a lot of small retreats from your army once they get into close combat.
As the Archery are Morale - 0, they will always fall back from a melee combat! This can be a massive bonus however, as it will always get your archers out of melee combat. Fortunately for these particular archers, the macery were not facing them directly, and so they were not at risk of being cut down. Aye, Eldrichus remembers keenly another battle where retreating troops were hounded by their adversary - they had to make one armour save per enemy regiment facing them after they failed their morale check. Much like the archers at the close of this battle, they were forced to retreat one square directly away from the enemy - this can be made diagonally away from the enemy in either direction, as a fall back is representative of a tactical withdrawal (for the most part) and not an out-and-out rout.
And so closed the Battle of the Barrens. A small clash of arms, no more than four hundred warriors a side and a hundred light horseman, yet many of the fundamentals of generalship are contained in this dusty example of the art of war.
Look not for glory in war, dear captain - ye shall find none. Look only for the quickest way to end conflict and return our empire to peace, once and for all. For this we must master our battlecraft. So ends thine first lesson...