Yesterday saw the second playtest of Phil’s new version of his Te Wapen rules (see posts about the first playtest and the then current version of the rules here and there). Four players — Phil himself, Alan, Vince and myself — trundled up to Phil’s gaming attic to crunch down at his game table for the first in a series of linked games revolving around the Four Riders of the Apocalypse, featuring the malodorous Pestilence.
Alan and Phil controlled Pestilence’s forces, consisting of a bunch of rattling skeletons (Alan) and a swarm of furry ratmen (Phil), opposing Vince and myself with woodland creatures and hobgoblins respectively. The first side to gain 20 victory points (mostly through destroying the opposing side’s units, but there were also special victory conditions) won the game.
The armies deployed along both baselines, with the ratmen roughly facing my hobgoblins, and Alan rattling his collection of bones in front of the buzzing bees and hulking ents of Vince’s woodland troops. Our plan (although calling the result of a hurried ten seconds of discussion a plan shows a capacity for a suspension of disbelief that is only matched by that needed to believe that pigs do, in fact, fly) was to hold with the hobgoblins on the left flank, anchored by some troops (and a wizard) behind a river. The mobile troops (hobgoblin wolf riders and buzzing bees, eagles and a dragon for the woodland forces) would utilise their speed advantage to try and pick off isolated enemy units. As plans go, this sounded like a good one.
It turned out, however, that the plan, for all its simplistic geniality, was found to be somewhat lacking in depth and resilience. While our charge down the middle of the table certainly looked impressive, and Pestilence himself (itself?) was briefly threatened when attacked and somewhat mauled by a green dragon, its effectiveness was dwarfed by that of a corresponding advance of the malodorous sides elephants.
As it turned out, a bunch of elephants that had thought joining a swarm of gibbering ratmen was just the thing for a nice day out in the country trampled most of the hobgoblin front lines. I had put up a front line of troops armed with a variety of ranged weapons backed up by a second line of close combat troops, with the intention of softening up the enemy before crunching into them with the heavies. Well, the softening turned out not to work, as most of the missile troops were dead by the time they got to shoot, and the crunch I had envisioned with the heavy troops did materialise, except that it was the sound of my troops being crunched into the ground by the rampant elephants.
Meanwhile, Vince was doing some damage over on his side of the table, putting serious dents into the undead forces, but to no avail, alas, as the hobgoblins succumbing in droves to the enemy advance lost the game for us. Sorry, Vince :)
As said, this was the second playtest of Phil’s latest incarnation of Te Wapen, and — besides a few troop stat that need to have the kinks worked out — it is shaping up to be a rather enjoyable and playable set of fantasy rules. Good work, Phil!