In which Johann learns that not even Ekraen knights are invincible.
I think Encounter makes more sense than Episode for these little vignettes, so I’ll switch to that.
It’s September 986, and Johann and Gottfried have decided upon a quest for vengeance, namely hunting down the knights who killed Alexa in Episode 2. That absolves me of any need to roll on the quest table, as I have effectively selected “destroy someone”.
“Alexa must be avenged and our honour restored!” declaims Johann, over the latest in what is probably a long series of ales.
“Let it lie,” counsels Gottfried. “There’s nothing we can do against mounted chivalry with supporting troops, not just the two of us.”
“At least let’s try to recruit some more party members. We need more people, especially another healer and some archers.”
Johann is persuaded of the wisdom of this approach, so our heroes start recruiting, having declared the current pub their Base for the moment. Page 12 says I must declare the party as not moving this strategic turn (easy, considering how much Johann has drunk) and roll 2d6 on the recruits available table; I pass 1d6 against the area Encounter Rating so will count a maximum of passes 2d6 on the Recruits and Replacements Table. I would normally roll 2d6; the modifiers look like they cancel out, namely -1d6 for being a foreigner and +1d6 for having recovered more casualties (Johann and Gottfried) than were left behind (Alexa). Johann rolls 5, 3 and passes 1d6, so he can recruit his CV worth of local ne’er-do-wells; that’s 6 CV of recruits diced up from the Ekran army list. This gets us two knights(!) and two crossbowmen, and I replace one of the knights with a healer, as is my right. Must try not to get this one killed. As Johann can’t recruit anyone with a higher Rep than himself, the other knight has his Rep dropped to 4.
I name the new characters as Sir Charles Atain, knight errant with a grudge against the de Plastique brothers; Beatrice the healer, whose motivations are currently unknown; and Gervaise and Jean-Paul the crossbowmen, thugs for hire.
By October, the troupe of six is ready to take on their sworn foes. I roll an 8 on the Is It Here? table (p. 50), showing that the dreaded Ekraen knights and their retinue are indeed in the area, and a roll of 2 shows they are in this very settlement, which I now dub Carcassone, because I expect it to be full of carcasses shortly. We now go to a pitched battle encounter. The How Many Enemies? table on p. 70 says the opposition has one more CV than me, which would make them 17 to my 16; close enough to even.
No need to check whether they are locals or intruders, because Johann is hunting Ekraens. I roll 2d6 many times on the Ekraen army list and discover the opposition consists of five knights, three infantry, one crossbowman, one peasant foot, and three peasant archers. Slightly out of sequence, I also check their alertness using the table on p. 46; they pass 2d6 against the knights’ Rep, and so are fully alert and activate first. This is going to sting a bit, I fear.
Terrain? Well, we haven’t moved, so we’re still in mountainous terrain. Carcassone is probably bigger than the one clear tile from encounter 4, though, so I’ll regenerate terrain assuming we’re in a different part of town. I decide rather than doing the dice terrain, place terrain, shuffle terrain dance, I’ll just roll 2d6 for each square in a 3×3 grid on the terrain table on p. 18. Much faster, and gives me a mostly clear board, with a road in the southwest corner, impassable terrain in the northeast and east, and a patch of rough terrain in the centre (half speed through this and visibility limited), which sounds like it should be the town dump. One for the Rackham terrain tiles I think, which are very pretty for 2D terrain and full of buildings. Must get some more of these for a bit of variety.
Both sides now roll 2d6 vs Rep on the Deployment table on p. 70; Johann passes 1d6, and the de Plastique brothers pass 2d6; being the larger force and having passed 1d6 more than Johann, the de Plastiques are the attackers. Obviously they got wind of our recruiting and come looking for us. Johann’s company sets up in the middle of the clear terrain at the north of the board, hoping the opposition will be slowed down in the rough terrain and buildings, and the knights set up 18″ away in another clear area. Set up so far about an hour, but I was interrupted by ‘phone calls a couple of times, so probably less than that in reality.
Turn 1: The knights and their entourage wend their way through the buildings for 6” (so that the infantry don’t get left behind). Johann’s Company don’t activate as their activation roll is more than Johann’s Rep. Neither side has line of sight to the other through the buildings.
Turn 2: Johann rolls 4, the de Plastiques 6; only Johann activates this turn. The Company take cover inside a house; with the possible exception of Sir Charles, nobody is going outside against knights on horseback.
“Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes,” cautions Johann.
“Zey are weareeng ‘elmets,” Gervaise points out. “Ah weel not see ze whites of zeir eyes.”
Turns 3 and 4: Activation repeats turn 2; Johann is tempted to send the crossbowmen out after the knights, but decides against it.
Turn 5: Knights roll 4, Johann rolls 2; both sides activate, but the knights roll higher so go first. They advance another 6” in a zigzag pattern through the streets. They have no line of sight to the Company, so although they are now within 12”, I decide nobody takes a Test of Wills, because it seems to replace the In Sight Test of other THW games, which is triggered when one group sees another for the first time. (Yes, I know Johann knows they’re coming; he is the Star, after all. No doubt he has bribed local urchins to bring warning.)
Turn 6: Both sides roll 5, so nobody activates – this happens on doubles. Perhaps the knights are asking directions.
Turn 7: Johann rolls 2, Sir Bertrand de Plastique rolls 3. Both activate, knights go first. The knights continue their cautious advance another 4”, at which point the groups sight each other. They are already within 12” so we go to a Test of Wills.
Bertrand rolls 5d6 (Rep 5) vs a target score of 3: 1, 2, 2, 4, 5 – he passes 3d6. Johann rolls 4d6 vs 3: 1, 2, 3, 3 and passes 4d6, one more than the knights. This would normally mean the impetuous Company would charge the knights on foot, but since they are defending a wall (of the house they are in) they won’t. If they tried it, as a Star, Johann would choose to pass 3d6 as well, forcing a draw. He’s been ridden down once this year, and it’s no fun. Both sides halt in place and do nothing except exchange insults in Ekraen, most of which Johann doesn’t understand.
Turn 8: Johann rolls 2, Bertrand 4; both sides activate, knights first. The knights split their party into a Rep 5 group lead by Bertrand, and a mixed Rep group led by the crossbowman, who at Rep 4 is the best trooper they have. I now roll on the NPC Action Tables on p. 48 to see what they will do. The knights, unsurprisingly, roll 2, 4 vs Rep (5) and pass 2d6. Since they are mounted melee troops and the enemy is holed up in cover, they will dismount and then test again as if melee troops; they roll 1, 5, and pass 2d6, which means they will close on foot, firing if possible (no, they have no missile weapons) and charging if possible (it is).
The knights now take a Charge Test; 5d6 vs 3, rolling 3, 4, 5, 6, 6 and passing 1d6. Johann’s group also takes the test and can choose the number of successes since he is the Star; oh, I can’t resist this – he chooses to pass 4d6, three more than the knights, so everyone in the Company charges out of the house screaming vile war-cries, and the knights rout! They are removed from the table. All figures on the knights’ side immediately take a Leader Lost test, rolling 2d6 vs Rep. The crossbowman (Rep 4) passes 2d6; he can continue to fight normally. The three infantrymen, the peasant footman, and two of the peasant archers pass 1d6; they break off the battle and retire from the field unless Johann & Co try to stop them, which seems unwise. The remaining peasant archer passes 0d6 and routs off the table.
As I’ve been playing about an hour and am running out of time, the crossbowman decides he doesn’t fancy his chances against a group of six, and legs it after the others.
“Let the cowards run,” crows Johann. “That will hurt them more than any physical pain.” Although he fully intends to inflict that as well, in due course.
I now roll for advancement. For simplicity, I’m not going to bother doing that for the new joiners, but I will keep on for Gottfried since I’ve already started. Johann gets nothing; Gottfried’s social standing drops to 2. So we now have:
- Johann: Warrior, Star, Rep 4, AC 4, Hardiness 3, SS 4; Halberd.
- Gottfried: Thief, Rep 5, AC 2, Hardiness 3, SS 2; Dagger.
- Assorted ne’e’er-do-wells to the number of four.
Lessons learned: Working from the PDF of the rules rather than a printed copy is faster, because I can search for specific terms. It wasn’t actually necessary to lay out the table for this one; that seems to be the norm for Warrior Heroes so far, which is a little strange for a set of tabletop miniatures rules, but so long as I’m enjoying the game I won’t worry about it.
For further study: It looks like the Star’s Rep, Hardiness and SS should stabilise at 5 over time, because once it reaches 5, the chances of an increase and a decrease are equal.