Saturday, July 25, 2015

Warriors of the Lady


Been both busy and away of late, hence the lack of updates.  Spent a good chunk of the last 3 weeks in Ontario visiting family, and most of the last week catching up with work as a consequence.  That said, the big hobby news has been that our Age of Sigmar box set was waiting for the boy and I upon arrival, and today we got down to the G-Dub for our first full game with the new rules.

I had a great time, so did Cub.  I get that these rules are not for everyone; they represent a real departure from the old WFB rules, they are not a rank and file system, and they constitute a major departure from the official fluff of the old game.  That said, I played the equivalent of what would have been a 1000-1500 point game in old terms, got it finished conclusively in less than 2 hours, including first-time looking up rules etc., and got in a game that was fun, dramatic, and demanded constant, tactically relevant choices.

The Lady's forces, arrayed. 

The day was semi-organized, with players showing up with what they had, and the staff running us through the scenarios appearing in the new AoS book (which is gorgeous, and I might pick up in a bit).  We played the new "Watchtower" scenario, which has the tower in the center, occupied by a single unit + hero from one side.  Attackers deploy, then turn 2 the rest of the defender's army gets on the table.  From the end of turn 3 on, there's a 50/50 chance the game ends, and whoever holds the tower wins.

I had the larger army (in a pick-up game, I'd have just outnumbered my opponent, and been dealing with the sudden death clause), so was the attacker.  My opponent, running a goblin wolf-rider force, put his shaman and a unit of wolf riders in the tower, and I set up opposite.

Arrow Storm!!

The game plan was to hit the garrison with my knights, archers, and trebuchet, while the mounted yeomen ran interference, and the Peg Knights played shortstop.  I opened up turn one with an arrow storm from my peasants.  They now have a special ability where, once per game, they can fire a volley with triple (or quadruple, if a large unit) shots.  This is definitely a buckets of dice game; after 80 shots were fired, I think I took out 3 wolf riders, although cover from the building helped them.  My trebuchet fired, but poor roles and good cover saves blunted it's effect.

We took the top of the tower off for ease of reference.

With shooting out of the way, I sent in the knights.  The way combat works, charges aren't that hard to execute.  While distances are random, the Brets have access to a number of ways to re-roll (generally based off hero abilities), and I'd placed my knights close enough to the tower to charge it reliably.  The game treats buildings with relative abstraction; you can't move through them, and they give defenders a bonus to armour saves (in this scenario, to battleshock / morale as well).  Bretonnian charges are effective as ever, and after my knights, both knight heroes, and Pegs hit home, there wasn't much left in the way of goblins, just a weedy Shaman who was rethinking his life choices.

This is what a bad day looks like for a goblin shaman.

The aforementioned Shaman opted for the better part of valour, and high-tailed it back to the rest of his army, which had just appeared on the other side of the table.  There were a lot of angry wolves headed my way.

Run, Forrest!  Run!!

More to the point, there were pile of goblin units and heroes headed towards the tower.  I'd need to head them off if I was to have a shot at winning.  I threw pretty much everybody forward, including the peasant archers, intending them to take up residence in the tower.  A good run roll (you can run in the movement phase, sacrificing the option to charge) put me in range of the tower next turn.

A Scot's Greys moment.

Unfortunately, my knights didn't make it in this time (they were more or less at the limit of their charge range), and only my two knightly heroes, and my pegs made it in.

That shaman's day isn't getting any better.
On the plus side, I had gotten my Palading bearing the grail banner into combat with the runaway shaman.  If I killed the shaman, I could invoke his special ability that let friendly units within 15" ignore battleshock (the end of turn morale test that can force more casualties).  On the downside, my heroes were facing down a pile of wolf-riders, and looking awfully lonely doing it.

Grom, on the right, about to make his move.

On their turn (my opponent consistently won the role to go first each turn), my opponent piled in my knights, and sent Grom the Paunch (a chariot-riding goblin king) down the flank to cut off my archers from the tower, bypassing the mounted yeomen along the way.  Turns out, goblin war-chariot special characters are tougher than scruffy peasants with bows, and my lads started taking casualties left, right and centre.  The new morale rules meant they didn't break from combat (though I could have voluntarily left), but sticking around meant that they were losing extra models each turn.

While Grom was positioned so that I couldn't retreat into the tower, my mounted yeomen hadn't been engaged, and I moved them to occupy it instead, along with the Damsel of the Lady.

On the left, knights get set up for their big charge.  On the right, peasants are dying dutifully.

At the end of the turn, we rolled, and got another.  Putting the Yeomen in the tower would prove a key decision, however,  It gave me the initiative; my opponent now had to break through and drive out my garrison, or lose the game.

Just pretend they've dismounted, okay?

On his turn, my opponent did some damage, clawing down my Lord (who died fighting in a dogpile of snarling wolves and goblins), and my Pegs were on their last legs.  My Palading held out, however, and my knights charged home.  They slammed into the goblin line, and despite some spectacular saves on his part, between combat casualties and battleshock, tore apart the goblin lines.

No more goblins.

The battle turned in a melee, with my knight chasing down the last of the goblins.  Grom was dispatched by a trebuchet shot.  In the new rules, you can freely shoot into combat and while in combat, including with warmachines.  While I was okay with this with the archers (think of it as point-blank shooting), I'll admit I was a little flabbergasted regarding the Treb.  That said, the idea of a massive chunk of masonry kissing down and plucking the goblin chief is rather cinematic.  All I could think of was that bit from Return of the King when the camera follows the stone down into the orc army.

No more Grom.

The game ended on my turn 4, with all goblins dead, and the tower in Bretonnian hands.  Despite having a numerical advantage, the game didn't feel at all like a push-over.  There's aspects of this I'm only beginning to wrap my head around.  Movement is much looser than in the old WFB, but unit positioning, and threat projection, will be key, I think.  There's a clear degree of abstraction in the rules, and people will be comfortably with that or not.

A key thing for me was that by old standards, this would have been a problematically small game.  With the new rules, it felt like a real one.  The Brets still feel like "themselves" (combined arms, hammer cavalry, the charge matters, heroes lead from the front), but everything seems to work better than it did under WFB rules.  Heroes are heroic, but are as much leaders as killing machines.  Morale is different, but still matters.  Shooting is easier, but doesn't seem to be as immediately lethal.

This isn't WFB.  It is, however, fun to play.  I'm jazzed to paint Brets, assemble my AoS box, and get in more games.  Good times.



  1. Lots to like here, cracking game and lovely to see these lovely models take to the table.

  2. Nice looking figures and happy you had fun which is all that really matters. I personally hate everything about AoS to include the the game, figures and what little fluff it has, but fortunately if I want to play WHFB my mates are still playing 8th and 3rd which I do like.


  3. Interesting. Yours are the first positive reports I've read of Age of Sigmar. Good to see you get an outing.

    Lovely knights by the way.

    1. Thanks, Colonel. I do get some of the uproar - this isn't WFB, and if your love of that game was based in rank-and-file mechanics, I do understand the disappointment. The game itself, however, is quite good, and I think people do themselves a dis-service by not giving it an honest go, especially since core rules and existing army rules are free.

  4. Interesting and your Bret's look as good as ever. Your report reads and looks more like one of the more modern large skirmish games than traditional WFB. Not that there is anything wrong with that at all. As you know I like games such as SAGA and others like Lion Rampant a lot, Both those it seems from reading the rules, more tactical depth than AoS though for sustained regular play though (not that I get to do that much). Out of interest did the store try to balance forces at all or is it really the person who brings the most toys to the table has the advantage of using them all?

    1. Show up with your stuff, alternate deploying units, if you outnumber by more than a third, the smaller force gets extra win conditions. It's not, at all, designed for structured play (though I do think it's adaptable). We had forces ranging from smaller than mine to the equivalent of 3000 points, and people were able to set up workable games all day.

      There is a ton of depth to these rules, but much of it is only evident once you start playing. Positioning, formation, and casualty removal are huge, even though there's limited rules covering them. The shape / occupied space of a unit on the table significantly affects what it can do, so "formations" matter, although there aren't rules for specific formations.

  5. I gave up on WHFB at the beginning of 6th because I was sick of the rank-and-file game. AoS has gotten me interested in fantasy-style Warhammer again. Good to read another battle report!

    1. Nice to hear! One of the best things about it, I think, is the much lower cost of (re-)entry, so it's a terrific time to come back.

  6. That's a very attractive army you have there.