Friday, 5 August 2016

The Quest for THE Rules

Hello again.

Nephew Nick, Nephew Paul and I decided several months ago what next year's show game would be in terms of its theme, but we did not sort out all the details. One of the missing details was which set of rules to use to depict our chosen arena. We have one definitive, period and scale-specific set to hand, but I at least had reservations about their suitability for a smooth-flowing, demo and possibly participation set up at a show. This is because they require certain specific tools to be able to use them, which adds a small amount to the game complexity, the likelihood of forgetting something and so on.

And so, the quest for alternatives began in earnest yesterday morning with a game or two Chez Nick.

We have some ideas for alternative sets and the first of those was to try out "The Lord of the Rings" fantasy battle game rules, Games Workshop's Tolkien-inspired offering that accompanied their alliance with Peter Jackson's films. (This is not the later big battle rules by the way). It is not a set I am massively familiar with, though I have played a few times and, indeed, after several years waiting to finish them, I almost have my Mordor Orcs ready to go! (It is that absence of a major project allowing me to do other mini projects instead yet again. I quite like this no project thingy!!!)

So here, hopefully for your delight and delectation, I have some photos of three things that do not feature very prominently on my blog to date. Firstly, they are taken from a game in progress. Secondly, they are fantasy figures. Thirdly, they are not mine. A fourth factor, which is unfortunately rather too common, is the poor quality of the photos! I am no photographer at the best of times but the weather conditions yesterday made light and dark a somewhat random affair, so apologies in advance!

I took the part of the valiant Dwarves, led by a King, with four Captains and various warrior types. I chose not to drag out the usual suspects like Balin or Dain Ironfoot. Arrayed against me were Nephew Nick, aka Durburz the Moria Goblin King, with sundry nefarious Goblin types, a couple of Bat Swarms and three Cave Trolls (I told you it was dark outside, even in daylight!) We had a nice, even 755pts each on the table.

It was a very close run thing, with Nephew Nick's favoured lilac dice doing their usual "roll 'em high" routine rather too often for my liking!

The Dwarf battleline, King Thorin Snowbeard of the Solitary Knoll centre right. (The Solitary Knoll is very like the Lonely Mountain, but a lot smaller...)

The Goblin right flank, with two of those pesky trolls...

This troll would have won the "Troll of the Match" award, if he could hit a barn door with his spear...The Shaman points the way to the enemy, if the Goblins or Troll were in any doubt about that, but it was rather funny when he failed dismally to cast his first spell, despite a re-roll!

A longer shot of the Dwarf line, the Goblin archers having already started to cause a gap or two. Better get into melee asap.

Those drums. Forever banging away like small, green Cozy Powells, these two helped keep the Goblins interested in the fight with their motivational percussion.

A few lowly Dwarf archers take on a Cave Troll and some Bats. This was only likely to go one way...and it did! The good news for the Dwarves was that it took a fair amount of time before the Cave Troll was able to burst through and attack the left of the Dwarf battle line.

Carnage. The Dwarves have broken through in the centre, but are in difficulty on their flanks. King Thorin himself almost single-handedly shored up the left flank of the Dwarf line, but those Trolls were going nowhere fast.

Both sides hit their breakpoint simultaneously. From here on in, it was a question of whose morale would hold longest.

Naturally, the Dwarves held on longest and this is the final scene, where the last Troll is cut down for a Dwarf victory. I say "Victory", but how many games are truly such with an almost 90% casualty rate for the victors??? To misquote Lord Cornwallis, "With another victory like that, we shall be ruined." A wounded King Thorin, a wounded Captain, an unwounded Captain, a Khazad Guard and a Dwarf warrior are all who will trek home to the Solitary Knoll for beer and bathtime tonight... 
So, did these rules work for us and is our quest complete? Yes and no. The rules worked fine, but they are a little labour intensive with each individual man to man combat worked out individually and they give far too much freedom for individual figures to do what they want to most of the time. However, the mechanisms are simple and they would be easy to convert to our chosen Dark Ages scenario, so they are still in contention for that outing next year. A few more games and some alternative rules will trim things down a bit further.


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