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:
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).