Battle report

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Jcrozier
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:04 pm

Battle report

Unread postby Jcrozier » Sun Feb 22, 2015 10:11 pm

We played our first battle using the FF rules this afternoon. It was a quick, straight-up fight between goblin invaders and a band of lizardmen accompanied by a dinosaur. The table was scattered with ruins (plinths, pillars, stairways, raised walkways and a well), and also featured a largish hill down one flank and a small wood towards the other side.

The sides were as follows:

The goblins:
1 orc war chief (as per SOBH rulebook: Q3+, C4, Leader, Tough, plus Savage to bring him in line with his troops, as he's the most savage-looking of the lot)
1 orc hero (Q3+, C4, Hero, Savage)
5 savage orcs (Q4+, C3, Savage)
4 goblin archers (Q4+, C2, Shooter: Medium)

The reptiles:
1 tyrannosaurus rex (Q4+, C5, Long Move, Animal, Tailslap, Huge, Savage, Tough, Terror)
1 snakeman archer (Q3+, C3, Shooter: Long, Poison)
1 lizardman mounted on a small dinosaur (Q3+, C4, Mounted, Long Move, Savage, Greedy, Tailslap)
3 lizardmen (Q3+, C4, Amphibious, Tailslap); one lizardman had a spear and thus Long Reach.

As we only had time for a quick game, the focus was on trying out reactions. We played with no range or line-of-sight restrictions on reactions, but house-ruled that there must be an action between reactions and a turnover: so, if you rolled two failures out of two or three out of three, there were no reactions and your opponent's turn began.

In the initial stages, both sides used reactions to bring powerful combatants forwards quickly. My orc hero positioned himself on a plinth to gain a +1 for higher ground on the wooded side of the table, making sure that he was screened from the snakeman's arrows by other ruins. My son advanced his dinosaur rider and also used reactions to bring up the lizardman infantry in support. The dinosaur rider and orc hero fought a couple of inconclusive rounds (higher ground negating mounted) while the orc war chief ordered the archers onto the hill; they fired a few shots at the snakeman, managing to knock him down but failing to kill him when he was vulnerable.

My son then brought his lizardmen up to add weight to the dinosaur rider's attack. My hero was knocked down, but managed to use a reaction to stand up when my son rolled failures activating his tyrannosaurus (I'd forgotten that only personalities could react to personalities, but this, serendipitously, would have been legal anyway. More on that later).

I then rolled a triple failure with my war chief, allowing my son to renew his attacks on the hero, who was knocked down again by the dinosaur rider and killed by one of the lizardmen. A couple of reaction opportunities allowed me to move two of the savage orcs up in an attempt to avenge the hero's death. My son then brought the tyrannosaurus up from the rear into the centre of the table and stood up the snakeman.

My turn. A group activation by the war chief allowed the goblins to pepper the tyrannosaur with concentrated fire. To my surprise and delight, they managed to wound it, reducing its quality to 5+. Some good rolls and the proximity of the war chief allowed me to get three orcs into combat with the dinosaur rider and one of the lizardmen, who was knocked down and killed. A failure with another orc gave the rider an opportunity, however, and he used a reaction to perform a Free Disengage and ride off.

The lizards seized the initiative after a double fail with one of the remaining orcs. The surviving foot lizardman (my son was holding a third one back out of the fray, given the tyrannosaur's Animal rule) attacked the nearest orc and the dinosaur rider wheeled and charged in. Then, on the other flank, the snakeman skewered one of the goblin archers with an aimed shot, scoring a gruesome kill. That scattered the surviving archers on the hill; more seriously, the war chief (the only one of the larger goblins within range) failed two of his three rolls and made it off the table at my baseline. That sparked more morale tests for the loss of a leader; the five orc warriors did surprisingly well, with most running just a move or two. One was cut down by the dinosaur rider, though, which sparked a second wave for a gruesome kill. My dice rolling went as well as it could in the circumstances (three successive morale checks!), but the orcs survived just long enough for the tyrannosaur to charge in. Failed terror tests and a gruesome kill on the sole orc to remain thereafter brought the curtain down on a decisive victory for the reptiles.

Observations

1. Reactions are great as written. Both my son and I loved the reactions. The game was even more involving for both players than usual, and there was much more of a sense of simultaneous movement. We liked it fine without any measuring or line-of-sight checking, as it was quick and clear. The rationale for the sudden changes in initiative may have been abstract, but the mechanism was clear.

2. Having no reactions when a player rolled a turnover with no successes also seemed clear and intuitive. When I rolled 1, 1, 2 with my war chief, my son asked if he got three reactions as well as his turn. "Not the way we're playing it today," I said, and that was accepted without grumbling: he got to go straight away, so all was well. I really think three "unanswerable" activations and then a new turn would be unbalancing. The way we played it worked well and kept up the illusion of simultaneous manoeuvring.

3. I would scrap the rule that states that only personalities can react to personalities. Why? First, it's hard to remember. I completely forgot about it the first time the tyrannosaur rolled a failure, and it was only luck that it was my hero who reacted. Second, as personalities include Tough and Terror-causing beasties as well as heroes and wizards, the rule seems a little odd. Why can't archers take advantage of a troll's ponderous movements - or shoot at a dinosaur that's suddenly turned towards them? I suppose you could rationalise this, but it also seems odd at a more abstract level. What it it about cave trolls or giants that means that their moves can never be anticipated (even by elite elven archers)? Third, one of the things I love about SOBH is that while personalities get real advantages, they're not that special. If Richard the Lionheart is caught in a crossbowman's line of sight, he can be mortally wounded. If Richard III is surrounded by Welsh halberdiers (or whatever), he gets hacked to death fairly quickly. If a wizard is foolish enough to expose himself to enemy archers, he'll become a pin cushion in short order. Not allowing ordinary troops to react to personalities seems to shift things towards the heroic excesses of Warhammer and its ilk (or towards A Fistful of Kung Fu, which is a marvellous game but evocative of a very different kind of fantasy). The more heroic personalities are less likely to roll failures anyway, given typically better quality, but when they do, I feel that they should be exposed to shooting just like anyone else.

4. When reactions unlimited by line of sight or range, they have a real value in allowing players to bring up laggards. In my experience of playing SOBH, one of its very few glitches is that lower-quality troops can sometimes be stranded near the baseline. For me, most commonly, it's been the "savage orc heavy infantry" bodyguards that I've given my orc leader. With their Short Move, they tend to get activated last if at all, and they soon drop behind the others, so that they fall outwith the leader's range. That means that activating them is risky, so they're left until the end of the turn - but the turn may end before it gets to them, via a two- or three-dice failure with more involved troops. Thus they often spend much of the game simply waiting to rout. In FF, I could use reactions to bring them into the centre of the table more rapidly (so that their higher combat values can be used to good effect). That, effectively, is what happened this afternoon. My son's tyrannosaur could well have been stranded behind the higher-quality lizardmen, but he was able to take risk-free rolls as reactions and get it moving up fairly quickly. I felt this made for an improved game - one which was less dominated by the initial melee than SOBH can occasionally be, which can mean that laggard troops - especially those with Short Move or Slow - might as well not be on the table.

5. Group activations: are we assuming a single reaction per failure in a group activation? That seems logical (and gives another reason for trying to take out leaders early on), so that's how we played it.



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Abyssal Goblin
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Re: Battle report

Unread postby Abyssal Goblin » Mon Feb 23, 2015 12:48 am

Great battle report, thanks for sharing! Did Reactions slow the game down much for you?

And regarding your lower-quality troops that can be stranded near the baseline, don't forget the Free Moves rule (pg. 16 of the FiFu playtest book). When a model has no active enemies within 2 x Long, he may perform a single non-combat move INSTEAD of dicing for activation. No longer will your Short Move or Slow models be aimlessly wandering the sidelines until the battle is over.




Topic author
Jcrozier
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:04 pm

Re: Battle report

Unread postby Jcrozier » Mon Feb 23, 2015 10:33 am

That's a very good point - and shows that the glitch is with me rather than the game! Oddly enough, I know the rule, but have generally failed to apply it - because I tend to deal with the stuff at the heart of the action first and often roll a turnover along the way. And if not, I tend to gamble with the laggards and roll multiple failures. Of course, the sensible thing to do would be to move the distant laggards first ...

That said, I do think the reactions do allow Short-moving creatures to keep up a bit better. Slow creatures don't get reactions, but I wonder if that penalises them even further than in SOBH. Might a bugbear be able to throw a javelin when someone starts to charge him? I don't really see why not.

I think the reactions actually sped up the game - or seemed to - because of the constant switches of initiative. The 400-point game certainly took no longer than our 300-point skirmishes usually take. And it was entirely engrossing.




andyskinner
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Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2015 5:23 pm

Re: Battle report

Unread postby andyskinner » Mon Feb 23, 2015 3:21 pm

Did each side really keep up with failures and jump in with reactions? I found repeatedly I'd have to say I'd rolled a failure and did they want to react, and they'd think about it, etc ... It was definitely a slow-down for us.

andy



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Abyssal Goblin
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Re: Battle report

Unread postby Abyssal Goblin » Mon Feb 23, 2015 3:33 pm

@andyskinner
I was thinking the same thing about it becoming a slow-down. Haven't tried it yet. But for me, I'll most likely not use Reactions. Thats why I love SoBH, everything is customizeable, and Reactions I consider optional.




Topic author
Jcrozier
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:04 pm

Re: Battle report

Unread postby Jcrozier » Mon Feb 23, 2015 4:00 pm

We were both watching each roll and always reacted. In my case, I was trying to get as many of the savage orcs as possible into the fray with the dinosaur rider and to have the goblin archers shoot at the snakeman, while my son was keen to bring up the lizardmen to stop the rider getting outnumbered, to move the tyrannosaur forward and to take pot-shots with the snakeman archer. So we both had plenty of things to try with reactions. I don't think either of us ever contemplated not taking a reaction: it was all pretty instantaneous point-and-roll stuff.

The game had relatively few figures, especially on the reptile side, which helped to keep everything quick.

I think the things that could slow reactions down would be range/LOS limits (because that would involve measuring) and restrictions (such as non-personalities not being able to react to personality failures, as in the current draft; that strikes me as the kind of thing that is easy to forget and which then results in having to "turn back time"). As it was, we were each waiting to seize on each failure with considerable glee.



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Andrea Sfiligoi
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Re: Battle report

Unread postby Andrea Sfiligoi » Mon Feb 23, 2015 5:29 pm

Ok We played yesterday and today, yesterday reactions as written, today reactions with a 1x Long limit. In both cases we decided to ditch the difference between reacting to P or non P models - I think that is a leftover from A Fistful of Kung Fu and OGAM which aim to simulate a different context, so I'm fine with everybody reacting.

They did not slow the game for us - they allow more attacks in-turn, so more deaths, so more morale rolls :-) Today both games with 8 to 11 figures per player, all played to a finish in less than 45 minutes, using "limited reactions".

I think we can assume:
1) reactions are going to stay in the rules
2)Reactions can (like anything else) be seen as optional; they do not interact with any traits at the moment
3) the limitation "only personalities react to personalities" can be removed from the rules
4)Jury still not out on the "1 x Long range limit", I tend to be an abstract gamer but I can see why some prefer to use it
5) I forgot to use the "free move" rule too today :-D and it would have benefited me a lot (my halfing archers were stranded out while the matanagars massacred my humans).




Topic author
Jcrozier
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:04 pm

Re: Battle report

Unread postby Jcrozier » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:36 pm

We squeezed in another battle with very similar sides tonight, but this time added a magician to each side. My son insisted that his snakeman should be able to fire "lightning arrows", so he got the Lightning spell, while I acquired a bugbear shaman (as per SOBH) with the Fireball spell. Both sides were further reinforced, with two more lizardmen and two savage orcs, respectively.

The scenario was that the goblins had been stealing reptile eggs (to eat or rear slaves and mounts), so their objective was to make it off the far side of the table; more than half off would have been a win. The reptiles had stop them (and recover as many eggs as possible).

I'm afraid that it was another crushing victory for the reptile side. The orc hero made good, reaction-assisted progress into the middle of the field, and initially caused havoc in the reptile ranks. My son had advanced his snakeman to test out Lightning, but the orc hero was able to engage him in combat before he could do more than launch a single weak attack. The dinosaur rider rode to the rescue, but just in time to be routed from the table (the curse of Long Move!) by the hero's savage slaughter of the hapless snakeman. So that was as far as we got with Lightning.

Meanwhile, the savage orcs and goblin archers had been moving up the left flank under the war chief's direction, with the bugbear shaman and a solitary orc (the excess, given that the archer/savage-orc group was already at full capacity of ten) advancing in the centre. I remembered the "free move" rule this time!

The war chief's band were looking well placed for a burst down the left flank when the tyrannosaur came crashing through the middle, aided by reaction rolls, his massive base size and some very lucky triple-dice activation rolls. He made short work of the orc hero, and then came charging through into the war chief's group. The Terror rule came into its own, with multiple flights from the charging dinosaur; eventually, a solitary goblin archer held firm, after several of his comrades had run off the table. The war chief made a break for it, and his followers managed to mob and kill a couple of lizardmen while the tyrannosaur crunched their fellows behind. But then the t-rex, having bolted down the remains of those who stood before him, came chasing after the others. Only one was inclined to stand and fight, with most of the others fleeing off the table. A gruesome kill followed, as the huge reptile tore the hapless orc to shreds, and all the remaining orcs - including the war chief - fled. On the other flank, the bugbear shaman and his orcish bodyguard quailed as they came under two successive morale tests (loss of a leader and more than half of the warband gone). The shaman fell back to the table edge, but the orc ran for the hills.

This is where the reaction rules proved interesting. The tyrannosaur and the three remaining lizards closed in on the shaman, who managed an ineffectual fireball against the dinosaur. But as the shaman was Slow, he got no reactions - which meant that he was able to do little more but pass his Terror test as the t-rex charged in. The rest was a foregone conclusion: crunch!

Observations:

1. The Slow trait is a killer in a reaction-based game - especially when you have only Slow figures left! A bugbear warband would be taken to pieces in virtually any game using the FF rules. I think this is a bit of a shame - not least because of the iconic bugbear on the cover of SOBH! I can see why Slow figures aren't allowed to react: it gives them the potential for two moves in a complete (two-player) turn, rather than just one. On the other hand, most figures have the potential for four moves in the same period (three moves plus a reaction). So Slow models would still be limited to half the potential moves of their non-Slow peers. As it is, they can have only a quarter of the potential moves of their peers. I wonder if that's not a bit extreme. Also, non-moving reactions don't seem to clash with the Slow description so much: a bugbear shaman can surely cast a spell as quickly as a goblin one, and I'd have thought that a bugbear skirmisher might be able to throw the odd javelin when he spots an opening. In the same vein, a giant might be able to thump a foe who is distracted, and a troll might be able to pounce on the unwary. At the very least, Slow should be a bigger negative in the points system (for those who adhere to such things).

2. Players get used to reactions very quickly. I was cooking during parts of the game, and my son was able to call me over with the number of reactions I had as he rolled his activations. He also started taking his actions concurrently with me rolling my reactions when the activated troops were unlikely to be affected by the reactions. This worked fine and made for a very quick game. He was hovering like a vulture over my activation rolls, looking for failures to exploit

3. "Non-stacking reactions" work well. As in the first game, we disregarded reactions in the case of a turnover if the rolling player had no actions to perform. So, when I rolled a double failure on three dice with my war chief, my son took two reactions, I took an action and then he began his turn. But if I rolled three failures (or two out of two), then we just went straight to his turn. This worked really smoothly. There were only two occasions when the same player got to have a reaction and then an action in succession. Those were when my son's lizardman killed an orc who had just rolled one success out of three, and when I rolled a two failures out of three with my war chief; I decided not to act with my solitary success, as he would have moved out of leadership range of his troops.



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Andrea Sfiligoi
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Re: Battle report

Unread postby Andrea Sfiligoi » Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:29 am

Good points and terrific batrep again. I think we can change Slow to being able fo react only On one die per turn. In my own games we tend to phase out Slow - we all feel that it is too big a disadvantage for most prifiles, so we use it only for "lumbering colossus" type of profiles. I'll make sure to use it in my tests this Sunday in Milan.



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Abyssal Goblin
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Re: Battle report

Unread postby Abyssal Goblin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:33 am

Nice batrep! If you do take Slow you can offset it a little by giving the character Long Move. And when you generate a warband on the calculator, think first before making a group of Long Reach spearmen led by a Slow character (*smacks self in the head*).




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