Friday, March 2, 2012

Orc's Drift: The Opening Moves

King F'Yar astride his wyvern
Opened the ball today with the first few turns of the Orcs Drift mega-game.

The hounds of the Severed Hand clan approach Ashak Rise while the
Vile Ruin orcs advance on the outpost at Kachas Pass

Having conducted the pregame sequence and brought the advanced orc elements onto the table a few things became clear.

First up, it would take a long time to play this game with the skirmish rules in Warrior Heroes Armies and Adventures (hereafter WHAA). The bow fire from the defenders of Kachas Pass alone would require up to 15 opposed dice rolls. With 110 orc rank and file such a game would take a long time indeed.

This game will be played using the Big Battle rules.

The dwarves of Ashak Rise form up on the bridge.
 Secondly, while each scenario has some interesting wrinkles with secret plots and characters, that I shall not divulge here, the NPC rules in WHAA really are geared towards fighting, which is after all what the game is about. I could play out the various NPC plots using something like the excellent Mythic RPG rules, however I really just wanted to get on with the battle. So various sub plots, most notably that of the druid Ferndale Snart, have been dropped.

Here's what is left:

  1. The dwarves of Ashak Rise will fight on until they can secure the loading and moving of their pack animals off the table. After that they will withdraw in the same direction as their baggage.
  2. The mad illusionist at Linden Way remains in play. The scenario specifies his mania by game turn and I will just interpret those results in WHAA terms.
  3. The refugees from Linden Way will move to exit the board by their predesignated route each time they activate. 

Orc skirmishers approach Linden Way
 The Cunning Plan:

Playing all four games in the campaign at one go gives the orc player and advantage lacking in comparison to playing the four games separately. King F'Yar and the F'Yar Guard can only be committed to one of the opening battles. However given the mobility afforded by his wyvern mount, King F'Yar should be able to fly to where ever he is most needed in the space of a turn or three.

Having played all three preliminary battles in the past, using Warhammer 3d edition, I have some idea of what to expect. Even though the rules in use differ the situations and relative force levels involved remain so such speculation may be useful.

The three opening operations may be summed up thus:

  1. The elven archers at Kachas Pass can be expected to inflict many casualties on the orcs.
  2. The skilled dwarves at Ashak Rise can be expected to hold that demmed bridge indefinitely.
  3. Linden Way will fall in due course without the orcs suffering undue loss.
Given those presumptions, King F'yar will not be needed at Linden Way. The King would be very useful at Ashak Rise, if only to land behind the dwarves on the bridge and outflank them. The King would also be very useful at Kachas pass if he can avoid being shot that is, as a means of rallying faltering troops and keeping the pressure on the elves.

King F'Yar and the F'Yar Guard
 In the end I committed the king to Kachas Pass.

WHAA has something called the Crisis Test. Every time a figure is lost, two of the nearest figures must test to see if they stay in play or lose heart and  flee. This can be quite devastating to low Rep troops like goblins for example . Kill a few and many more will scarper. With average troops the effects can be quite variable depending on the luck of the dice.

Now banners can be used to counteract crisis tests to an extent. If a figure can see a banner as close or closer to the enemy than itself, the figure's chance of passing a Crisis Test improves. Having a banner behind a figure that has failed a Crisis Test provides a rallying point that may bring the fleeing figure back into the game.

Each orc clan has one banner and King F'Yar carries one as well.  Expecting the greatest losses at Kachas Pass,  I attached the King to that front to try and mitigate losses due to Crisis Tests.

King F'Yar rallies troops and sends them back into the fray.

You may recall, dear reader, that the defenders of Kachas Pass, Ashak Rise, Linden Way, and indeed Orc's Drift itself are immune from routing in these scenarios. With this in mind it is clear that fear is my greatest foe as I can expect as many of my orcs to rout as to actually succumb to wounds.

Thus far at Kachas Pass, the presence of King F'Yar has saved a quarter of the Vile Ruin orcs from desertion...saved for King F'Yar that is. I am quite sure the individual orcs would have been much better off fleeing!

The mad Illusionist leads the flight from Linden Way.
Not so mad after all is he?
At the end of the first four or five turns the initial attacks are well underway. Here is how it stands:
  • Kachas Pass: Fierce fighting on the north fence. Five elves and thirteen orcs lost so far.
  • Ashak Rise: The dwarves are holding the bridge with little effort. They have killed four hounds for no loss of their own.
  • Linden Way: The militia is holding the entrance to the town but is in danger of being enveloped on both flanks. The refugees have almost made good their escape...led by the mad Illusionist who has been alternating between panic and fear! Six militia, two refugees and two orcs lost so far.

More as it happens! 


  1. Hey, I have been looking at the big battle rules for WHAA and I could never really get the hang of how they played out (English isn't my first language). Would it be possible for you to go over a single example combat? It would be a great help for us!!

  2. Thanks folks.

    gsg, That is a fine suggestion. Will do.

  3. Just added a detailed example of combat in a new post.