We kicked off the local MESBG Battle Companies campaign (say that ten times fast) the other day, and man, it was a blast. There was a pretty big turn-out, with 11 or so people there (and a couple more who are participating, but couldn't make the evening), which is probably the largest BC turnout I've seen.
For the campaign, I'm taking Mordor, with a starting band of 3 orcs with shield, 2 spear, 2 two-handed weapon, and 2 bow. My leader, Thrakul, is one of the 2H orcs, something a little different from the last time I booted up an orc warband.
|He's a bad 'un|
The scenario (which we've played a few times before), tends to favour the defender, unless the attacker has a real advantage in numbers, or gets some lucky breaks on priority rolls. Basically, the attacker needs to get into a position where they can tie up multiple defenders, freeing other models to reach and burn the objectives.
With the edge in numbers, I was generally able to gang up on my opponent's Uruks, denying them access to the objectives, and counter-balancing his advantage in quality. Of the five, he only managed to burn one, and the game ended when his warband broke. First blood for Mordor! I used the Influence points I'd gained (basically, campaign resource rewards) to recruit another orc, and upgrade Thrakul to heavy armor. I also got enough experience on one of my heroes, Grudak (an archer), to make a roll on the advancement table (he'd been lethal in the game, picking off three wounds from opposing models).
|Isengard closes in|
In the new edition, heroes commit to one of a range of different advancement "paths", each of which offers a variation on the kind of stat improvements and special rules a hero can pick up. Grudak opted for the Path of the Scout, and ended up getting Throwing Daggers. Admittedly, a little odd for an archer, but throwing weapons can come in handy (you can move and shoot without penalty), and I tend to use my archers as back-up fighters pretty often.
The way the campaign works, each phase allows for one hex expansion. If you win, you can claim an additional hex. I quickly moved from my starting position towards the Lake of Rhun, one of the special bonus hexes on the map. Whoever controls it has a chance to expand an additional hex when they win a game.
While we'll only play one round per week, as this was the launch, we opted to go through a second round and game. I used my "free" expansion to take the Lake, which puts me in a good position to drive towards the centre of the map, where some of the juicier bonus hexes can be found.
Unfortunately, another player also had designs on the Lake, and decided to take her pesky Lothlorian elves out for a spin. This was, in many ways a repeat of the Uruk game, in that it was my numbers vs. her troop quality. The scenario was based off of kills by your leader; whichever player's leader model caused the most wounds, would win.
In the end, despite some rather heroic turns from the Lothlorian captain (at least two rounds of combat where he was surrounded 4 to one, and won the fight), the elves were whittled down and broken. Thrakul and the elf captain ended up tied at two kills each, so we drew on the scenario. This meant I didn't get to use the bonus ability from the Lake of Rhun (you have to win to expand again), but I did keep control of the hex. Thrakul also promoted, choosing the Path of the Warrior, and gaining an point of Fight (which is pretty solid for an orc), and I rolled a "special" result on my attempt to recruit, gaining a Morgul Stalker (basically an orc ninja). I don't have the official model, so have busily set about converting one.
Both games were a blast (I got so engrossed in the second I forgot to take pictures!). I love SBG, and Battle Companies combines all the campaign advancement goodness I associate with games like Mordheim with the strong mechanics of the core game. It's objective driven, and lends itself to narrative gaming, which I love. Super-excited to see the campaign continue. We plan to keep it going all through the summer, so hopefully the level of interest is sustained.