Solo Warhammer 40,000 – Take 2

Purely by accident, I came across CR4104, which is a plug-in for Two Hour Wargames’ 5150 which adds the major races of the W40K universe. As in 5150 itself, each race has its own troop types, reaction test tables, and weapons. I haven’t tried it, but if you’re interested, you can find it on Wikisend or Rapidshare; search for “CR4104-v03.pdf” and ye shall find.

The Arioniad, Episode 0 – Setup

I’m trying a variety of solo games to see which system works best for me. Readers will already have noticed 28 Months Later (All Things Zombie) and Talomir Nights (Warrior Heroes), and there are two more queued up using Savage Worlds; Mythic, and Warhammer Quest. Mythic first.

Mythic has its own RPG built in, but is essentially a “game master emulator”, which uses dice rolls to replace the GM; this allows one to play solo or same-side games without anyone having to run them.

However, I have a hankering to play in an old school Classic Traveller game; an RPG which recreates the feel of the 1950s and 1960s science fiction I read as a teenager. CT‘s character generation and combat rules – while still playable – are a bit dated though, and I want to stay current with Savage Worlds, so I will play a CT/SW/Mythic mashup and see what happens.

First I need a character. I’ve always liked Scouts, so create one of those using the MetaCreator software I have for such occasions.

  • Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6.
  • Skills: Fighting d6, Guts d6, Healing d6, Notice d6, Piloting d8, Repair d6, Shooting d6.
  • Charisma 0, Pace 6, Parry 5, Toughness 7, CV 76.
  • Hindrances: Heroic, Loyal: Friends.
  • Edges: Ship.
  • Gear: $25. Kevlar Vest: +2/4, Glock: 2d6, Knife: Str+d4.

“Ship” is a new edge I’ve added for this game. As an ex-Scout, the character has constructive possession of a surplus scout ship; it is still owned by the service, and they will maintain it and (sometimes) refuel it, but they expect him to do odd jobs for them from time to time, and to report on what he finds while wandering. For this reason, many people he encounters will assume he is a spy.

Next, the character needs a name. The first thing that pops into my head is “Arnie”. Not science fictional enough. Hmm. Swap syllables; “Arin”. I’m pretty sure that is a girl’s name, and the character will be male. Aha! “Arion”. That’ll do. Greek poet, rescued from pirates by dolphins. Also credited with inventing the dithyramb, which is no doubt appropriate. Arion may or may not get a family name later.

I decide I will also draw the background from ancient Greek history, which is currently a minor trend in RPGs – see Hellas, for example. That places the campaign in a far-future equivalent of the 7th century BC.

So, we shall begin with Arion gazing out of a diner window in Tenaro Downport, main starport on the planet Matapan, known both for its temples and as a place where mercenaries can be hired (as was the original Matapan). He is looking at the ship which brought him here; his ship, the “Dolphin”.

What will happen next? Well, as Chandler famously said, “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.” So we’ll start scene 1 there, when next I have time and inclination to play the campaign.

Solo Warhammer 40,000

As I mentioned earlier, many people find this site while looking for information on playing Warhammer 40,000 solo. This is not something I do, you understand; but I would refer you to the 4D Kay Project, which is converting W40K for use with Two Hour Wargames5150 rules. THW have the best rules for solo and same-side tabletop wargaming I’ve yet found, and I’m not alone in that view; they win awards and everything.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled surfing.

Talomir Nights, Episode 4

Johann and Gottfried have escaped the mountain village where they were held captive, but are now being hunted down by the Ekraen knights who took them prisoner.

“Eet eez like hunting, non?” says Sir Bertrand de Plastique. “Except ze prey eez more cunneeng, which makes eet even more fun.”

I next determine the size of the fugitives’ lead. This is (6 – ER) hours, or two hours. What of the pursuers? I roll 1d6 and add the ER for a total of 7; consulting the table on p. 55, this means the pursuers have twice my CV or points value. Hmm. The points value of my group has changed because there are only two of them now, with different statistics; a quick recalcuation puts it at 6, so there are 12 CV worth of pursuers. Ouch. Let’s see who they are; I roll 2d6 several times on the Ekraen army list, selecting figures until the Ekraen CV total is at least twice as large as the party’s. This gives us a force of three knights, four crossbowmen, and two infantry. This could be a challenge. However, they have to catch us first!

Each side now rolls 2d6 and tries to pass the lowest Rep in their group. Johann rolls 4, 6 and passes 1d6. The knights roll 1, 2 and despite having a lower Rep pass 2d6. As they passed one more d6, the lead reduces to one hour, and the pursued reduce their effective Rep by one point, to 3. As the lead is now one hour or less, the pursuers have caught us. It looks like we now set up a Battle encounter, which I assume is the pitched battle encounter from p. 70. Feh, it’ll do. I skip over generating forces as I already know what they are.

Each leader now rolls 2d6 trying to pass his Rep for deployment. Johann rolls two sixes, which would be good in most games but not Warrior Heroes, and Bertrand rolls 1, 6, passing one die. This means he is the attacker and has the advantage. The defender (Johann) sets up 12″ from his table edge, and the attacker sets up 18″ away from the defender.

I choose Johann’s table edge, and roll on the terrain generator to produce a town on a board mostly covered in hills and woods, but with one piece of clear terrain, which as luck would have it is on Johann’s table edge. Johann sets up 12″ onto the table, on the edge of the clear section. The knights set up on a road section, with 6″ of clear terrain, then 12″ of hills (which halve movement) between them and the party. All town buildings must be placed in clear terrain, so this board square is packed with them; it must represent a corner of a larger urban area.

The party rolls 2 and the knights roll 4; both activate, but the knights got the higher score, so activate first. What will they do? Well, I expect since they are pursuing the party they will want to close in, so they will try to advance 12″; they haven’t taken a test that will allow them to charge yet, so they are moving at a canter.

However, after they have moved 6″, they are within 12″ of the party; time for a Test of Wills. Sir Bertrand has Rep 5, so rolls 5d6 and is counting successes (rolls of 3 or less). 1, 3, 2, 5, 2 so four successes. As a star, Johann is allowed to choose the number of successes he rolls, and with Rep 4 he gets four dice. He chooses four successes, since any other result ends with the knights charging him and Gottfried, which is unsafe when you’re on foot with no armour. Both sides halt in place; I picture one of the knights launching into a speech in Ekraen, which Johann probably would not understand. This means the knights have not yet surged ahead of their crossbowmen and other infantry.

Now it’s the party’s turn to activate. Johann decides this is a good time for a Fast Move Test, and he and Gottfried turn and run. Both now roll 2d6 against Rep; Johann scores 3, 5, passes 1d6, and moves 150% of his normal move, or 9″. Gottfried scores 1, 6 and does likewise. The group are now 3″ from the table edge and 21″ from the knights (who stopped after moving 6″, on the edge of the hills).

New turn; the party rolls 1 for activation, and the knights roll 1 as well; a tie, so neither moves. The knights continue to pontificate in Ekraen, and the party looks frantically for somewhere to hide, as the townsfolk sensibly run inside and bar the doors.

Turn 3; Johann rolls 6, knights roll 1, so Johann and Gottfried stand about trying to look inconspicuous as the knights advance 6″ through the hills, becoming separated from their infantry. They are now 12″ from the party, so time for another Test of Wills. Sir Bertrand rolls 4, 4, 4, 3, 4 and passes one die. Johann opts to pass one die as well, since anything else will trigger a charge test which he could well lose.

Turn 4: Johann rolls 1, knights roll 6, so Johann and Gottfried activate and the knights don’t. Our protagonists move 8″ and sneak away off the board, mingling into the crowds.

Another encounter survived, another set of advancement rolls; Johann’s Hardiness increases to 3, and his Social Standing to 4, while Gottfried’s Rep increases to 5, and his Hardiness to 3. I decide that their actions in this encounter don’t constitute running away, since the precedent in other THW games I have is that running away only counts against you if it was the forced outcome of a reaction test.

Lesson learned: I could have played episodes 1, 3 and 4 without setting the table up at all. So, in future I won’t bother putting lead and terrain on the table until combat is joined.

“Was nun, Kleiner Mann?” asks Gottfried, as he liberates some disguises from a washing line.

“We tool up,” says Johann. “Then we go looking for the knight that rode Alexa down. And make him sorry.” Pause. “And don’t call me Kleinermann. My name’s Johann.”

Talomir Nights, Episode 3

Gottfried and Johann find themselves held captive in the mountain village they were trying to raid in episode 2. It has no dungeons, merely an old house. By midnight, Gottfried has managed to open the door to the room where they are held, and the two sneak out, relieving a couple of sleeping guards of their hand weapons. Their own weapons and armour are nowhere in sight, nor is their companion Alexa; since she was last seen skewered on a lance, this is not surprising.

(No picture this time, as the terrain is laid out as for episode 2; our heroes start in the big building in the middle of the board.)

“No horses,” whispers Gottfried as they emerge.

“That way,” Johann replies, pointing back down the trail they used to reach the village initially. It has the advantage that they know the way.

“Any sign of Alexa?” Gottfried only shakes his head.

Each time the protagonists move, as per p.56 of the rulebook I roll 1d6; if the score is equal to the current turn, their captors are alerted.

Turn 1: Johann and Gottfried activate and move 8″ towards the table edge, 18″ distant. The alert die roll is 3, so no-one has seen them yet.

Turn 2: Same again, except the alert die roll is 6. The table edge is now only 2″ away, and the tension mounts.

Turn 3: They activate a third time, the alert die roll is 2, and they’re away. Yay for the heroes!

The lesson learned here is that unless you’re unlucky, or gallop away on stolen horses, you’re quite likely to escape capture; more likely if you have a high Rep, as lower Rep figures will take more turns to move off the board.

A successful escape, however, may generate a pursuit encounter. I roll 1d6 against the ER of the region, and since I’ve now found that table, I can use the proper number: 4. I’ve decided that the knights would only hold Johann captive for a few days at best before realising he has neither a ransom nor any useful information, and killing him out of hand; so it’s still August, meaning there are no seasonal ER modifiers. I roll a 3, so there will be a pursuit.

Meanwhile, Johann and Gottfried have survived another encounter, and roll for advancement as per p. 16. Johann increases his Hardiness to 2, and his Social Standing to 3; Gottfried increases his SS to 3 also. They must’ve picked up the silverware on the way out.

28 Months Later, Episode 1

With Johann and Gottfried captured by Ekran knights, I thought I’d try an earlier incarnation of Two Hour Wargames’ house system, namely All Things Zombie. (The original version, not the later expanded rules, which I haven’t acquired yet.)

The campaign in this version starts two years after the first outbreak of zombie-ness, so with the last zombie movies I saw in mind, I decide the campaign will be called 28 Months Later and will start in January 2015, 28 months after the end of the world foretold by the Mayans, which I vaguely remember they thought would happen in September 2012. Whether that’s right or not, it’s as good a date as any.

Character creation is a snap. The star (representing me) is Reputation 5, with a weapon and one attribute of my choice; I select Boss, because it improves the reactions of the rest of my group, and a pump shotgun, because what else do you hunt zombies with? I select the red pawn from Zombies, since that’s my favourite colour.

I also get three “grunts”, whose attributes and equipment are determined by one die roll and the draw of a card. I get a Rep 5 Runt with body armour and a pump shotgun (blue pawn), a Rep 4 Brawler with a Big-Ass Pistol (green pawn), and a Rep 3 Ambidextrous character with another BAP. Imagination fails me tonight, so I shall call them Red, Blue, Green and Yellow for the moment. If they and the campaign both survive, they might get better names.

Unlike other THW games, I choose the type of encounter and the general terrain type. I decide that the group will conduct a Raid on the suburbs, looking for supplies. This and a few dice rolls means the table will have 13 buildings and 6 abandoned vehicles on it. Here I run into the first snag; I can’t figure out how the table for determining what the buildings and vehicles are works. I’d rather play than spend more time on that, though, so I decide there will be a shopping mall, a warehouse, and a group of shops – obviously we’re raiding an out of town shopping centre. (Question for the future: How does this table work?)

Using the THW mantra of “just play the game”, I again abandon waiting for the unimaginable raygun future when I might have nicely painted figures and terrain, and dig out my copy of the Zombies! boardgame from Twilight Creations (a Christmas present from a few years ago). This gives me six survivors, more zombies than I hope to need, playing cards I can use to represent vehicles, and two box halves which can be the mall and the warehouse. I pull some DVD cases from the bookshelf to represent shops, but run out of room before I get to the full 13 buildings; feh, who cares.

Next I roll for the initial zombies and their placement. It’s easy to see that I roll 1d6+5 for their number, but takes me quite some time to work out that I’m supposed to place them as if they were attracted by gunfire (p. 27 of the rules). The group of scavengers moves one full move (8″) onto the table, then a few dice rolls place zombies around them. At this point, play starts in earnest; it’s taken me 40 minutes to set up, but no doubt that will get faster with practice. And this is what it looks like:

All we want to do is eat your brains...

All we want to do is eat your brains...

Turn one, and I roll activation dice for each side. The player side scores 4, the zombie side 3; this is below the leader’s Rep in both cases, so both get to move, but because the player side has a higher score, they go first. As you see from the picture, we are surrounded by zombies already, and some of them are quite close. I haven’t brought a vehicle because the engine noise attracts zombies, gunfire will surely do so, and I would prefer to avoid melee with them; so we duck into the nearest building.

At this point we need to dice for any occupants. I check the target number for the type of location (‘burbs) and time period (Phase 1 of the campaign, within a few years of the outbreak), modified by the type of building (shop) and roll two dice for both humans and zombies, trying to “pass” the target number, i.e. roll that number or less on each die. Both candidates pass 1d6, but the humans have the higher number, so we’ve met other survivors, and another quick dice roll determines there are three of them. Dice and cards reveal we have one Rep 4 Crackshot with a carbine, one Rep 2 Slow guy with a pistol, and one Rep 3 Medic with SMG. (Lesson for the future: Dice up a range of survivor groups in advance next time, write them on index cards, shuffle, and deal myself one whenever we meet a group; creating them on the fly takes too long.) The NPC side rolls for Awareness (2d6 against individual Reps) and only the Crackshot notices us coming before we’re through the door – at least the first two of us, only two can pass a standard door in one turn. His colleagues are too dazed to act.

Both sides now take an In Sight test by rolling 2d6 and trying to pass against their leader’s Rep. Both sides pass two dice, and since we’ve both passed the same number we will Talk The Talk, i.e. try to resolve our differences peacefully. Leaders roll 2d6 against Rep, both pass one die; checking the relevant table shows that we won’t start fighting, but don’t want to team up, so each group will go its own way and neither will loot the shop.

This concludes the player activation. Zombies now move as NPCs. I can’t find how that works in the rulebook (another question for later) so I decide those zombies within 12″ of a person will move towards the nearest person they can see. This leaves Yellow with a moaning zombie about half an inch short of the base-to-base contact which will trigger a melee; not good.

Turn two, and the activation dice come up higher than Rep for both the player group and the zombies. However, I now need a third die for the group encountered in the shop, and they do activate. They can see trouble brewing outside, so leave the shop through the rear exit and duck across the alley into the next shop. Inside, they find another group of survivors; next time I might just let them stay put, or ignore what they run into, because at this rate the board will be covered with survivors in no time. However, I let it ride for now and discover that the fourth group has a Rep 4 Crackshot with a semiauto rifle, a Rep 4 Drunkard with a pistol, a Rep 4 Clumsy dude with a Big Ass Pistol, and a Rep 3 Agile person with a pistol. The new group outnumbers what they can see of the intruders 2:1, so they initiate Talk The Talk. In Sight tests and a quick Talk The Talk check reveal these two groups are going to rumble, but neither of them activate immediately (because they tie for who goes first; it doesn’t actually say so in the rules, but the precedent elsewhere is that in ties, neither side moves) so we’ll park that for next turn. I picture the groups staring at each other, shuffling uncertainly, until someone makes a move that seems hostile, intentionally or otherwise.

Turn three, and we now have four activation dice. The player group goes first, then the zombies, then the second group of survivors – the first group won’t activate, but if they survive the first fusillade, a Received Fire test may let them shoot back. Yellow decides he doesn’t fancy going toe to toe with a zombie and fires his BAP twice. He rolls one die for each shot, adds his Rep, and compares to the ranged fire table; his scores are 8 (which hits) and 4 (which misses). The zombie has been hit once, so we roll 1d6 against the weapon’s Impact (2) and get a one – this is less than or equal to the Impact and means the zombie is Obviously Dead. Or Undead. Or not moving anytime soon, anyway. At this point I decide the player group will bug out; they’re surrounded by zombies, the gunfight about to start next door will attract more, it’s getting late in the real world, and it looks like I’ll get to try out all the basic rules, which is all I want from the first game. Yellow turns and runs away from the shops towards the table edge. As he rounds the first corner he sees another zombie and takes an In Sight test; however, he only passes one die, so because he is moving he can’t shoot. Green also fires twice and starts moving for the baseline; he misses both shots, comes around the same corner, passes one die on his In Sight test and also can’t fire.

Red and Blue back out of the building and both open up with their shotguns on the nearest zombies. Each shotgun rolls four times to hit, but only counts the best two results; this gives us four hits, but checking against weapon Impact shows no instant kills. Since they are still, errm, alive, the zombies are pushed back 2″ each (this being the weapon’s Impact). Turning the corner, they also see the zombie that alarmed the others, but fail their In Sight tests and can’t return fire. (Note that in ATZ, you can fire at any point during movement, and since you might shoot any time you have to take an In Sight or Received Fire test, as well as voluntarily once during your turn, you can do a lot of shooting.)

Zombies that can see humans now move 6″ towards them, which brings one into melee with both Red and Blue, and the others move  6″ towards the sound of gunfire. Melee is much simpler in ATZ than in Warrior Heroes, largely because WH doesn’t have an upper limit on Rep, so needs to allow for Reps higher than 7 (the best possible in ATZ). Both sides roll 1d6 against Rep. Red passes two, and his zombie passes one; because he won the melee, he has the choice of slugging it out mano a mano or using his gun at point blank range. Hmm. Let me think about that for a nanosecond… Blam! Blam! Blam! Three hits (because in point-blank fire he hits if he rolls his Rep of 5 or less on 1d6), two of which leave the zombie Obviously Dead. That melee is over.

Meanwhile, Blue and his zombie each pass 1d6. The contest is indecisive and will continue next turn. (Another difference from WH, where the melee continues until there is a winner, within the same turn.)

Shots ring out from the shop where the two survivor groups met, but I don’t bother to work that out because I’ve already decided to leave. However, I note in the campaign diary that any survivors might not be friendly to me if we meet again.

Turn four, and activation sequence is the player group, first survivor group, second survivor group, with the zombies not activating. Since he activates first, Blue has the option to break off melee, moving at least 1″ away from his opponent (well, actually, 8″ is looking good) and taking an In Sight test as if moving. This gives him the option to fire, so he fires three rounds; two miss, but the third leaves the zombie OD.

The multicoloured player group now leaves the board, so it’s a moot point how many more zombies are attracted by the shooting. Since they survived the encounter without taking results of Run Away (I know they did, but when it’s by choice it doesn’t count), Obviously Dead, or Out Of the Fight, and they were involved in a firefight or melee, each gains one experience point. (Gain enough, and your Rep increases.)

This was a lot of fun to play, and less mechanically complex than WH; but I hadn’t realised just how many zombies and survivors one would meet, so it would up being equally long as a session (40 minutes to set up, about an hour to play, and 10 minutes to pack away). Ranged weapons make a huge difference, and the THW system runs a lot more smoothly for gunfights than melee – which shouldn’t surprise me, as that’s what it was designed for. Maybe this view will change with more practice.

Talomir Nights, Retcon of Episode 2

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe where Andy understands the melee rules, the fight plays out like this…

The knights, Alphonse and Bertrand, advance to contact. Alphonse engages Alexa and Gottfried, while Bertrand bears down on Johann. The active side chooses the sequence in which to conduct melee. Alphonse goes first, for no very good reason. Alphonse is Rep 5, and Elite Trained, so he has 5d6 basic and must pass at least 1d6. He is protected vs his opponent’s weapons, since his AC is at least their Impact, so gets +1d6. He is also on a larger base (because he’s on a horse), another +1d6. He is however outnumbered, which is -1d6. He will roll 6d6 for melee and counts shield dice because he has a shield. Gottfried is Rep 4 (4d6), with no modifiers. So is Alexa. Alphonse rolls 2, 5, 3, 3, 2, 6, passing 5 dice (i.e. 4 of those scores are 3 or less) and counting one shield die (the 6), which he can use to cancel one enemy success not matched by one of his own successes. This will not be required.

Alexa rolls 2, 4, 3, 4 and passes two dice. Gottfried rolls 2, 4, 2, 6 and passes two dice – he has no shield, so the 6 is just a failure. Alphonse has scored two more successes than Alexa, a Telling Blow. His lance has an Impact of 7 on the charge, easily more than Alexa’s AC of 2, so she is Out Of the Fight (OOF). This means she is so badly wounded she can do nothing more in this encounter; however, because she has Hardiness 1 she can take a Hardiness test on 2d6. She rolls 6, 5 – both of these are more than her Hardiness, so she passes 0d6 and the original result applies.

He has also scored two more successes than Gottfried, another Telling Blow, and Gottfried is also OOF. He rolls 4, 6 for a Hardiness test and is still OOF.

Johann would take a Crisis Test at this point to see if his nerve holds, but since he is a star and can choose the outcome, he fights on. I mean, what kind of hero would quit just because all his allies have been perforated?

Alphonse can now ride through the melee, because he has scored two or more successes against all his opponents while charging; but there are no more foes behind the first rank, so he cannot engage them, he merely moves out of melee and observes in case Bertrand needs help. This melee is now over.

Bertrand has identical statistics and equipment to Alphonse, so he rolls 6d6 in melee and counts shield dice. He scores 2, 6, 4, 6, 2, 4 and passes two dice with two shield dice. (Johann’s halberd has Impact 6, but Bertrand’s armour is 6, so he still counts as protected.) Johann is Rep 4, has a polearm on contact (+1d6), and as a star is Elite Trained so must pass at least 1d6. He is not protected currently (Impact 7 vs AC 6), but will be in subsequent rounds as the lance’s Impact drops to 4 after the initial charge. He rolls 5d6 but cannot count shield dice as he has a two-handed weapon.

He rolls 5, 3, 5, 1, 3, and passes 3 dice. Johann has scored one more success than Bertrand, but Bertrand uses one of his shield dice to counteract this, so they are evenly matched, and remain in contact.

Activation for turn 2 follows. The knights roll 2, Johann rolls 5. The knights can activate (as 2 is less than their Rep of 5), but Johann can’t (as his Rep 4 is less than the die roll). The knights activate and decide to belabour this upstart commoner.

Bertrand chooses to go first, and has the option of continuing in melee or breaking off. He chooses to break off, since Johann is protected against his lance unless Bertrand charges. Bertrand wheels away, and moves off far enough for a charge on his next activation.

Alphonse grins under his full helm, and charges Johann from behind. He rolls 1, 2, 3, 1, 4, 5 and passes 4d6 with no shield dice. Johann rolls 1, 6, 6, 6, 6 – ouch. Pity he’s not playing a game where rolling high is good. He passes 1d6. Alphonse scores 3 more successes than Johann – a Killing Stroke! Johann is Obviously Dead (OD), and takes a Hardiness test on 2d6. He rolls 1, 4 and passes 1d6 despite only having Hardiness 1. He is wounded; the melee continues, but he loses 2d6 from his pool.

As the contestants were not evenly matched, neither can break off. The combat round doesn’t end until everyone is OOF, OD, or evenly matched, so it’s still the same combat round.

Alphonse rolls 4, 4, 1, 2, 5, 6 and passes 2d6 with one shield die. Johann rolls 3, 6 (he lost another die because this is not first exchange of dice rolls, so his polearm advantage no longer applies) and passes 1d6. Alphonse has scored one more success so the loser (Johann) is pushed back 1″ and loses another die from his pool. Since Alphonse isn’t in fieldworks or stopped by another opponent, he follows up and the fight continues.

Alphonse rolls 4, 5, 5, 2, 3, 1 and passes 3 dice. Johann rolls 1 and passes 1d6; again he is pushed back 1″ and loses another die from his pool. Because Johann is now at 0d6, he is rendered OOF, but because he has Hardiness he can make another Hardiness Test – he rolls 2, 4, passing 0d6, so he really is OOF.

This time all three of the Company are OOF, rather than two OOF and one OD. I think I can merge these threads handily, but it will be several more encounters before you see how.

Later: Actually, I still got it wrong, because when fighting Alphonse after the initial charge, Johann is protected from the lance (Impact 4 vs AC 6) so he should get an extra die. Also, the knights are not outnumbered when fighting Johann, so they should both get an extra die too. I don’t think that would change the eventual outcome, though, just extend the fight a little; plus it’s late, and I’m too tired to adjust the last couple of dice exchanges.

Talomir Nights, Episode 2

In which Johann learns why the knights are in charge… and Andy learns several things he has been doing wrong with the rules (which is the point of this trial run).

Deciding that caravans would give too many figures on the table until I learn the rules better, I had Johann’s Company follow the route from Altengard to Ekra.

The Company had no encounters between April 986 and July 986, as they moved from the heart of Altengard, to the country, to the border, across the border into the border of Ekra, and into the country of Ekra. In August 986, moving into the heart of Ekra, we find an encounter with locals. The terrain generator says it’s in a mountain village, that the encounter is a raid, and that being the foreigners we must be raiding. Rolling on the Ekra army list, I discover Johann’s opponents are two mounted knights, lounging about outside one of the buildings. (This is the first thing I did wrong, as there should have been a total CV of 7 to match the party, not the 4 I actually drew. Not that they suffered from being short-handed, as you will see.)

Now, the motto of Two Hour Wargames is “Just play the game!”, which is sound advice. So rather than messing around for hours looking trying to match the quality of the figures and scenery you get on the typical wargaming website, I had a quick rummage in my study cupboards, and came out with some prepainted em4 figures I bought a few years ago, and a couple of Stargate Jaffar bought off eBay (I have no mounted knights, and while I have a couple of knights I painted for a D&D game in the 1980s I’m not sure where they are at the moment). Scenery was some Rackham gaming tiles bought on a whim last year, and some photo albums to mark impassable terrain. Anything showing bare tablecloth is clear terrain. Here’s a picture snapped from my mobile phone at the start of turn 1:

Talomir Nights, Episode 2. Johann's Company face off against two Ekran knights in a mountain village.

Talomir Nights, Episode 2. Johann's Company face off against two Ekran knights in a mountain village.

The knights pass 1d6 for Alertness, so activation is determined normally.

Turn 1: Neither side rolls low enough to activate, so they stand staring at each other.

Turn 2: The knights activate, but Johann’s Company does not. The knights make a full move towards the intruders, which brings them within 12″, and triggers a Test of Wills. Both sides score 3 successes, and since they have the same tally, they would stop and stare at each other; but that will not be a very interesting game, so I use Johann’s star power of being able to choose how many successes he scores to bump the Company to 4 successes, triggering a Test to Charge. Both sides pass 3 again, which would normally mean the knights charge, and the Company stands there like idiots. Again I use Johann’s star power to choose the maximum number of passes, so both sides will charge. (I think I missed a Receive Charge test or some such here.) The Company could fire or cast spells, if it had a wizard or any missile weapons; must fix that.

Then it gets nasty, as the mounted knights sweep down on the Company with lances couched. I won’t do a blow for blow as I did last time, as there are too many dice rolls; suffice to say that Warrior Heroes uses a melee system where each side starts with a number of dice, and in each round of combat the loser might be killed outright or lose dice. Alexa the Healer and Gottfried the Thief took on one knight, who comprehensively butchered them both over three sets of dice rolls; Gottfried however made his hardiness save and is just Out Of the Fight, whereas Alexa did not and is Obviously Dead. Meanwhile the second knight took nearly 8 exchanges of blows to drop Johann (there are advantages to being a star with armour and a polearm). Mistakes here included not reducing the first knight’s combat dice for being outnumbered, and I’m still not sure I understand how multiple melee combat works; if I’m doing it correctly, figures don’t suffer much of a disadvantage from fighting multiple opponents. I’ll ask the Yahoo group, but drive on for now; it seems reasonable that a mounted knight should be able to knock the stuffing out of a lady healer and an unarmoured chap with a dagger.

Episode 2 ends with Johann and Gottfried captured by the knights, so episode 3 will start with an Escape encounter, possibly followed by a Pursuit, which I think should then lead us into a Quest for Vengeance as Johann hunts down the knight responsible for Alexa’s death. I diced for setup before packing away, and got a night escape with no convenient horses to steal; I haven’t bothered with the terrain generator as it seems likely the knights would lock the Company up in one of the village houses, so we’ll use the same game board.

The cross-post to Facebook isn’t able to resolve tables, so I shall resort to bullet points; after the post-combat advancement rolls, and the loss of one Social Standing for leaving the fight horizontally, the Company looks like this:

  • Johann (star): Rep 4, Hardiness 1, SS 2. Halberd, AC4 (both confiscated).
  • Alexa: Rep 4, Hardiness 1, SS 5. Obviously Dead.
  • Gottfried: Rep 4, Hardiness 2, SS 2. Sword, AC2.

The whole thing took 30 minutes to set up, 40 minutes to play, and 10 minutes to pack away again – well inside the two hours promised, despite considerable time dicing up “no encounters” (in future I will do those before games night so we move directly to the action) and even more time looking up rules to be sure I had them right (which should improve dramatically as I learn the game).