Showing posts with label might and reason. Show all posts
Showing posts with label might and reason. Show all posts

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Last Stand - First Time

Last night we gave Last Stand a playtest. Last Stand is a set of fantasy mass-battle rules which are being developed by one of our club members. They are designed to give an element-based DBM-sized battle, and whilst they owe their roots to the DBA/M system, they are different in many, many ways.

One person had played them before, whilst the other three of us hadn't even read them. Dave adjudicated, mostly from memory.

The game was a massive nostalgia-fest. Dave had set up a Middle Earth battle, and the figures were a wonderful mix of 25mm wonders from days gone by. Some of them were reckoned to be more than forty years old.

Pig-faced orcs!


And look at these minimalist ents.


Anyway, have fun looking through the pictures if you are into vintage miniatures.

As for the game, both sides spent the early stages wondering just what we were supposed to be doing. Last Stand is very detailed. It is, on the surface at least, quite complicated. It uses a whole range of mechanisms - different coloured dice drawn from a bag, a combat chart which looks like snakes and ladders designed by a sadist, a PIP system for movement, combat and rallying, multiple hits on elements and random events. There's no denying that this is a comprehensive game, but it's not an easy one to learn and, on a first play, ot an obvious one to get your head around just what you are supposed to do.




So here we were, set up and ready to go.


Unsure of how to initiate anything more complicated, Geoff and I (playing the Forces of Evil) just attacked. In the centre this went badly, with our Orc hordes hitting disciplined High Elf soldiers, and being repulsed along the line. It went pretty much as it would have done in HOTT.


We couldn't win there, even with dog-faced kobolds in our army.


It all looked spectacular.


Slowly we started to get an idea of how you managed attacks and supports, and from time to time all players were putting together moves which actually resembled the plan behind them.


After the first hour I stopped taking pictures, because it was hard enough trying to work out what we were doing, without trying to document it as well. The gist of the game was this. We attacked with our Forces of Evil in the centre, and it didn't go well. So the survivors just hung on grimly, and we attacked on the flanks instead. On our left, Saruman's Hillmen charged the Lakemen and in a spectacular round of combats and pursuits drove them back almost to their baseline before being halted by some dwarves. The Uruk Hai followed up to attempt to finish the job.

On the other flank, more orcs attack some wood elves and their Ent allies. We had some big monsters on that flank, and they smashed through the enemy line, with the breakthrough being supported by their Black Rider commander. The wood elves broke.

The Forces of God weren't idle. Both of our attacks had left our flank forces broken up, and they were quick to swing in reserves to exploit this. A disciplined line of Elven spears wheeled into the flank of the Uruk Hai, led by Gandalf himself. I managed to pull the half-orcs into a proper line in response, but it wasn't looking good.

So I threw Saruman into combat.

He defeated the spear-line opposing him, and broke through it. He attacked Gandalf.

He killed Gandalf.

A series of cascading morale tests on that flank saw the entire Good command rout and flee off the table.

This broke the army.


Evil triumphed.

It's very hard to judge a game on the first play. Last Stand is a fantastic labour of love, and when it's released into the wild for testing you'll see that it has one of the most outstanding sets of fantasy army lists I've ever seen, drawing from sources that I was not even aware of. But all of us felt that it could probaby do with streamlining in a few places. Difficult to see where, though, without radically changing some of the interlinked mechanisms.

One to keep your eye on.

And would we play it again? Dave admitted that what we played was a pretty large game, and was quite ambitious for novice players. I'd possibly be interested in a smaller battle with fewer troop-types, so that we could get a better feel for the interactions.

I want to play a big-battle HOTT game with those figures though.

I was so busy that I didn't get any pictures of the Team Yankee game, or even Gary and Peter's amazing Might and Reason battle. Peter took a couple though:



Friday, 7 October 2016

Ingmar Bergman's 'Might and Reason'

Death Rides A Pale Horse
'Might and Reason' is a little-known Bergman film set during the Great Northern War, in which Charles XII (played by Max von Sydow) leads his army in an enthusiastic, but ultimately doomed, charge against a Russian army commanded by Peter the Great (played by Svenge, an Oslo dentist and star of many Norwegian møvies: "The Høt Hands of an Oslo Dentist", "Fillings of Passion", "The Huge Mølars of Horst Nordfink"). It is famous for the iconic scene where Death himself leads the Swedish cavalry into the attack, although Death's appearance was due to the producers being unable to procure enough suitable costumes to outfit the army commanders of either side. Purists have noted that the Russian army commanders wore Austrian uniforms from fifty years after the film is set, and that some of the dwarves from 'The Hobbit' were in there as well.

Gary hosted a game of 'Might and Reason' for us this week, whilst I provided the Great Northern War Russian and Swede armies with which to play it. Might and Reason is basically the prequel to Maurice; you can see how parts of the latter are derived from the former. One thing it does is use a lot more commanders per army, hence our drafting command stands from other Maurice armies and even a few Warmaster figures (purely because they are 10mm).

Dawn breaks over a misty battlefield. Or camera-shake. Your choice.


The Russians. Lots of them, but indifferently commanded and with cavalry of dubious quality.


The Swedes. Small in number, but well-lead and very aggressive.


I played the Swedes and went for the simplest plan I could; charge straight into the Russians and hope to break their army before they could bring their numbers to bear.

I've had worse plans.


Here's Death leading one of the Swedish cavalry columns.


Movement rates in Might and Reason are actually quite good, and Dave, commanding the Russian left, soon had Cossacks in my rear. Unfortunately the command system, which relies on activation rolls modified by a pool of dice generated at the start of a variable-length turn, means that their bursts of extreme speed were punctuated by periods of milling around in confusion.


I turned my reserve cavalry line to face them. One unit of Cossacks charged home, and was swiftly routed.



The Russian cavalry also had a go, but was repulsed. I had high hopes for my cavalry after that.



In we went, but this time we failed to drive off two Russian cavalry units that weren't even properly formed up.


Meanwhile my reserve cavalry line had turned to attack the Cossacks, who promptly evaded, and hid in a corner for most of the rest of the game.


I threw my cavalry in again and again, but couldn't break any of the Russian units. It began to get worn down, and the Russians were forming a strong line in response.


True to form, Charles had left his artillery behind. Who needs artillery on the attack? Beyond the village, on the Swedish left, the infantry were advancing towards the Russian line. But I had deployed them in line from the go, and they were advancing very slowly. This gave Gary, in command of that portion of the Russian army, time to form up in response and also compromise the Swedish flank.


Plod, plod, plod. This was not the lightning assault I'd planned.


On the other flank the reserve cavalry formed up to join the fray.


Lots of charges and some desperate fighting saw the Swedes worn down even further.


The Swedish infantry finally advanced into musketry range. They aren't very good at musketry, being all about a volley and a charge.


They charged! They failed to really make much of an impact, their momentum being largely cancelled by casualties from the fire they had received standing around in front of the Russian lines, plus the fact that their flanks were up in the air.


In Might and Reason, having a unit fall back through you is bad. The Swedes had a few units fall back through their supporting lines, creating confusion and making command and control more than a little tricky. This is a set of rules where you have to manage supporting lines with some skill. Or not use them.


On the other flank my cavalry were still fighting, and I eventually had the satisfaction of seeing two Russian infantry units rout, after Russian cavalry charged through them, lost and fled through them going the other way. The Russians killed as many of their own units as I did.


We'd rolled for time of day, and the battle had started late. It therefore finished after about four turns when darkness fell. Whilst technically a draw, the Swedes were being enveloped by the Russians at that stage, and wouldn't have lasted long. With Cossacks now returning to the fray in their rear, even a retreat was going to be a problem.


This was an entertaining game, in which we all made terrible tactical errors, but that's half of the fun of learning a new set of rules. I shouldn't have formed up in supporting lines, and I should have had my infantry in faster moving columns, relying on my excellent command and control to bring them out into firing/fighting lines at the last possible minute. The cavalry put on a good show, and I probably wouldn't have done much differently with them. The Cossacks were an issue; not dangerous themselves, but had they got behind me whilst I was embroiled with the Russian regular troops, things could have gone very badly indeed. It takes good timing and a control of the initiative, to bring them to battle.

Thanks to Gary for organising the game, and to Dave for being a worthy foe. I think that this is a set we are going to try again sometime.
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