First of all Wishes for you All to have a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!
Just before the holidays, Ed wrote me to suggest I carry on with Warrior Heroes Armies and Adventures 2. Well I couldn't be more pleased and got back to work on it pronto. I don't usually like to do new editions but this one has always been near and dear to my heart. The first edition premiered a number of original concepts for Two Hour Wargames, such as Possible Enemy Forces (PEF's), a full AI for NPC's making the game truly playable solo or co-op, and scalability allowing the players to go from being virtual unknowns up to mighty warlords.
Sadly there were other innovations that were poorly presented, received, or both. Mea Culpa.
The new version expands on some of those innovations and aims to make the mass battle game more accessible as well. Mind you its still a single based figure removal game but its much easier to play now.
To test out the new version I had good old Sir Percy lead his retinue into the woods to stake out (pun intended) an old castle rumoured to be a Vampire's lair.
Percy's force included himself, his bannerman, four spearmen, two billmen, and two bowmen.
Now this really isn't "mass battle" by an means but the mechanics can be used for traditional skirmish games providing you don't mind losing some of the back and forth nature of the smaller fights.
One change for mass battle is the introduction of Almost Certainly Enemy Forces or ACEFs! They will probably still be called PEFS but they do have several distinct differences that separate them from the PEFs used in skirmish gaming.
In a mass battle game you know they enemy is about in force, or you would not have deployed your army in battle array. To that end ACEFs deploy like a traditional army. There are four altogether, Left, Center, Right, and Reserve. They come on the board from the opposite end of the table from your chaps, and travel in straight across until you sight them. There's a bit more to it than that but you get the idea.
There is variablilty build in but generally speaking, unless you roll dice as poorly as I do you will end up facing an enemy of roughly equal numbers or capability as your force.
The photo at the head of this section shows the enemy center discovered and deplyed while both flanks and reserve remain unsighted. In this case I have used Wolves as ACEF markers.
You may, Dear Reader, recall my mention of poor dice rolling. In this case the first enemy force, was meant to be half the strength of my own. When rolling of enemy troops, one keeps rolling until the correct Combat Value is met or exceeded. In this case I ended up facing two peasants, enthralled by the Vampire, two undead archers, one undead footman, and the Vampire Lord himself. This group exceeded the Combat Value of my entire force!
The Forces of Darkness immediately advanced and the undead archers started trading shots with my, for the moment, very much alive ones.
My fellows got the better of the exchange, making one enemy archer dead again, while my footmen made haste for the front of the column.
At this point the enemy right, on my left, popped out from some woods. Two more undead archers, an enthralled peasant, and a longbowman in the Vampire's employ, also took my two bowmen under fire.
Both my bowmen dropped without inflicting further harm.
At this point I should have held back and formed a defensive line, or simply left the table. We were overmatched.
Instead I decided to push my men forward, with the spearmen forming a line while my billmen saw to the two archers. Perhaps they could be saved? I couldn't very well leave them to the Vampire's tender mercies, could I?
Meanwhile the enemy's left ACEF, my right, took position deep in a wood on my flank and refused to move any further.
I thought it best to keep Sir Percy and his bannerman back behind the infantry in order to safeguard against a sudden attack from that quarter. In retrospect it might have been better to have switched the role of horse and foot in this plan.
The enemy got a bit of luck initiative wise and his foot engaged my spearmen.
The first round saw equal losses or near as and, morale holding, the melee would continue next turn.
For his part the Vampire simply watched from behind his line of footmen. Although a very powerful fighter indeed, the Vampire saw no reason to risk his unlife, necessarily. After all unless someone killed him he would be around for ever. Faced with the wrath of a mortal hero, why risk it? It's easier to wait 50 years and then have a go at him.
The scrum in the middle intensified and I started losing men.
It was clear I would need to commit the billmen to hold the line, rather upsetting the original plan of rescuing the bowmen.
And still the enemy Reserve and Left refused to commit.
My situation was becoming desperate.
As enemy footmen were slain, fields of fire opened for enemy archers. My spearmen could take it, being equipped with shields, but my billmen were unarmoured and could not wield a shield with their weapon.
Still the bills did fearful execution.
Just as I was down to two footmen, the enemy emerged from the wood.
A Knight and his Lady.
A Vampiress and her thrall!
And still the Lord of Undeath waited, biding his time. All of his peasant thralls were laid low, but his bowmen still posed a threat.
The last billman would be sorely overmatched.
Sir Percy may have been able to slay the errant Knight and his Vampire lover, or he may even have been able to bring low the Lord of Undeath, but his chances of doing both were ill...
The game worked well enough. There are some nice wrinkles that allow one to throw one dice per figure rather than the usual multiple dice used in the skirmish, or Adventurer level rules. The missile combat rules need some tweaking. A few things need tidying up and of course new Encounters need to be written to take advantage of the changes.
As always readers may click any image to see an enlarged version of the same.
Vampires, undead melee figure, and bannerman are from Citadel, painted by the author.
Knights are from Old Glory and painted by the author.
Human foot are from Irregular Miniatures, painted in house. I still need to flock their bases...
Skeletal bowman are from Dwarven Forge and are sold painted.
Hope you enjoyed the read and thanks for stopping by!