Sunday, October 9, 2011

Book of War: First Skirmish

DW and I just played our first skirmish of Book of War, a mass combat game that faithfully replicates D&D combat odds.

First thoughts: this game was easy to set up. DW and I learned the basic mechanics, set up our armies, built terrain, and played a skirmish in around an hour. Here's the quick AAR.

We used a 75 point buy. I purchased six medium infantry, organized into two platoons of 30 men each, three figures of medium horse (1 troop), and one figure of light infantry. DW purchased a mix of medium and light infantry, two figures of light horse and two of longbowmen.

The terrain ended up being a large open area in the center with forest along the East side and rear areas. On the opening moves, DW advanced her forces into the large open area, anchoring one flank on the woodline to the East. I moved my forces up through the trees -- except for one unit of light horse, lingering in the far south west of the battlefield among some trees. DW then waited for my attack.

I started by rushing out of the woodline with my light horse -- the horse managed to reach the longbowmen who were out on their own on DW's west flank in the open, and I lucked out, mowing down both figures with the initial attack. The longbowmen inflicted one hit as they got taken out, but I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw those highly lethal archers get taken out before they could fire.

My other forces -- slogging through the woods in the east -- were unable to support the light horse, and the poor skirmishers got mobbed and taken out by DW's own horsemen and light infantry the next turn. The light horse were able to inflict losses on the light infantry, though, routing them off the board.

We then mixed it up in the center of the field. Infantry started routing on both sides, but my medium infantry gave a good account against the light infantry before they routed. My forces fell back to the treeline as all of DW's infantry routed but recovered as her horse were preparing to ride them down. I was able to anchor the horse with one platoon of infantry then swing the second around to the flank and rear to finish them off.

At the end game, I had one figure of medium infantry tangling with DW's last figure of medium infantry. My other two figures of medium infantry were just recovering from a rout - -inflicted by the horse -- in the woods near my rear area. So, the battle was close -- 3 figures to 1.

DW and I agreed that the key factor was the fate of the longbowmen at the start of the game. If she had been able to get off one volley -- four dice -- it probably would have meant about two hits against my chain-mail clad forces. That would have brought the end game to a dead-even heat. If she'd gotten off two volleys she'd have had a slight advantage, and three would have made a decisive advantage.

Lessons learned: Horse have a significant movement advantage. More so than you're used to from playing tabletop games on smaller scales, really. My light horse burst from the treeline and ran down the longbowmen in just a single round. DW had left her longbowmen in the open so as to not take penalties for firing over the heads of her own troops, but my light horse really paid off in being able to run them down. Neither one of us really recognized just how fast they could move.

Questions to ponder:
- Just how much cover do trees give? We said that archers could not fire into the deep woods, and fire into the first 1" would incur a -1 to hit penalty from cover. Perhaps -1 to hit per inch would make sense.
- Do units get to attack on the first round they move into contact? That is, if a unit moves, ends its move next to the enemy, can it attack? We assumed yes, treating it like a charge.

Overall, we were quite intrigued. DW felt that routs occured too frequently. BTB, rabble have around a 50/50 chance to rout upon taking casualties. I felt this was ok, personally, but she didn't care for it. I think we'll be playing more!

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