Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Orcs vs. Humans (and Dwarves too!)

Today I managed to play a few solo battles with my new medieval board. It was an opportunity to go back to Song of Blades and Heroes and test the SBH Solo rules by Mats Lintosson of the Mono Desire blog. Here we have an orc raiding party fighting against the town militia. The orcs with axes are Q3+ C3 Savage, the ones with clubs are Q4+ C3, and the raid leader is Q3+ C3 Fearless.

There are eight militiamen: four with melee weapons (Q3+ C2) and four with bows (Q4+ C2 Shooter: long.)

On the first game I controlled the orcs, leaving the solo rules to manage the militia. I used the Ranger micro AI for the bowmen and a variant of the Power Fighter AI for the melee units -- the only difference is that I check for the fallen condition before attempting any attacks. Here's the board setup:

Here's how the first battle went:

At the beginning of the game, I think I was a little too cautious in assigning the Bad (situation) markers. For instance, here I marked the melee fighter on the top right because he could be attacked by those two orcs. After reading Mats' rules again, I think I should have placed that mark only if the orcs were a lot closer. The result is that the militia was overly defensive at the beginning (but maybe, since the axe-wielding orcs were Savage, that was a good thing.)

Eventually, some action started to happen on the left side of the board. Here, the two militiamen were marked with Opportunity tokens as they might be capable of attacking the raid leader.

Unfortunately the fight didn't go well, leaving one militia swordsman in a bad situation. However, the archer was able to shoot the orcs. Meanwhile, on the other side of the board one of the militia archers broke his bow, losing the ability to make ranged attacks.

Things weren't going well for the militia. On the left side of the board, my orcs had killed the two melee fighters and one archer (the red marker on the left side of the picture marks that kill) and on the right side, the axe-wielding orcs had closed in on another swordsman.

The defeat of another archer caused the militia to make a morale test. One man fled the board and the others scattered. A few turns later, another fighter suffered a gruesome kill (marked by the pile of red tokens on the picture) causing the two remaining militiamen to almost leave the board.

At this point I declared a victory for the orcs as a man with a mace and another one with a broken bow would not succeed where other six had fallen.

Second Round

I then ran a second battle, this time controlling a team of six militiamen (three melee and three ranged units) against the same six orcs, all running the Power Fighter AI. This time I let all the militia in a single group. The idea was to hold the bridge with the melee fighters and fire at the orcs with the archers.

After a few rounds the orcs reached the bridge but my men were already there to block their advance. In this picture I just rolled a turnover as I tried to move that archer to a better position.

Eventually the orcs broke through as the archers were too slow (too many failed activations...)

The tide of battle changed when the old swordsman scored a gruesome kill against an orc. This sent them running away, finishing the second battle.

Bonus Round: Orcs vs. Dwarves

I still ran a third battle, this time pitting four dwarves against four orcs. For this battle, everyone is Q3+ C3. Once more, the orcs used the Power Fighter AI. This time I set up both parties in the same side of the canal, for a quick and simple fight.

One of the orcs attacked first but lost his balance. My dwarves took the opportunity to defeat him. A few turns later, one of my dwarves survived the attack of two orcs. The other dwarves arrived after this and won the battle.

In this case, with evenly matched forces and a simple battlefield, it was mostly a matter of luck on the attack rolls. Both forces had opportunities where there were two warriors attacking a single enemy but the dice don't always help.


The battles were fun and were resolved relatively quickly (about one hour each for the first and second ones,  and about half an hour for the last one.) On the first game, I should have made the militia a little larger to compensate for the lower combat rating. This became evident as I played the second game and the orc force, matched in numbers, was close to defeating me. As for Mats' SBH Solo rules, here are my thoughts:

The Bad Situation / Opportunity markers are a great idea. Although they still require some interpretation by the human player, they also embody a rule to prioritize critical situations. I think I'll adopt this in other games where the choice of activation order is up to the player.

The rule for determining how many dice to roll for activation tends to favor two dice regardless of unit quality. Maybe the roll could be changed to be something like d10 + quality + modifiers (with an appropriate change in the result intervals.)

The Micro AIs are an interesting concept, and a different way to express unit behavior. Compared to the solution used in the Lone Shako rules, they emphasize tactical situations (through the conditions) while  Aleksandar's system emphasizes character state (quality and combat rating.)

That's it for now... I plan on trying solo rules with the Tales of Blades and Heroes RPG in the future.


JF said...

Great to see Mats' rules coming along! I always felt his micro AI concept had a lot of potential. Oh, and your terrain looks even more amazing!

(BTW, I had trouble leaving this comment, like I had no "permission," and I was simultaneously following and not following your blog. Happened to people on my blog, too. Something up with blogger?)

Ricardo said...

Hey JF, thanks! Mats' system is really nice. As for the problems with Blogger, I've had some comments show up in my inbox but not on the blog too.

Mats Lintonsson said...

Wow, thanks for trying out the SBH-SOLO rules Ricardo! =) What a nice action report!

I fully agree with you that the rule for determining the number of dice to roll needs a bit tweaking. I will bring your suggestion back to the drawing/thinking table and see how to better embed the unit's quality. Good catch.

I'm working on an update of the SBH-SOLO rules. So far only minor updates, mostly spelling errors and such.

Again, thanks!


Sean said...

Nice report, I'll have to revisit Mats rules. Is this one in 28mm scale? I also think the terrain and figs look quite nice.

Ricardo said...

Thanks for the comments!

@Mats - your solo rules worked great! Regarding the rule for number of activation dice, it was not a problem with these battles, I was just thinking about warbands with, for instance, Q5+ models.

@Sean - these are also in 15mm scale. The minis are from Sanity Studios and Permes.