In the sequence of ‘Schild en Vriend’ revival games, the May game (after WW1 in December, Lowenheim in January, WW1 in March, Memoir44 in April) was a 25mm fantasy battle using the Te Wapen rules (http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/Te_Wapen/ ).
Four players were present: Maarten, Alan, Eddy and myself. Eddy was so kind to provide us with an after action report:
Just a small AAR on last night’s game The Punitive Expedition into the Orc homelands after the successful raising of the siege of Löwenheim. As fate would have it Alan and me would be playing the brave humans, Maarten and Phil playing the ugly, cowardly bad guys so it seemed that the God of Dice was for once going to play fair tonight.
It would be a classical medieval/fantasy battle and Phil re-assured us that “There would be no suprises”. At that point in time we should have realized anything Phil says has the believability of a press statement by Mohammed “There are no Americans in Bagdad” Saeed al-Sahaf but that would become painfully clear in the game ahead.
So we split-up our army into 3 sections to be able to navigate the 3 mountain passes leading up to the Orc plain – and presto, suddenly archers appeared out of nowhere to pepper our trapped troops with deadly arrows from the safety of the mountains. “Well, you can’t call that a surprise, can you - you’re moving through mountain passes, what did you expect ?” was the only comment from Phil so we knew that there would be other trouble ahead.
Those archers had cost us two units, both of them ranged units (blunderbuss and archers) and managed to delay our approach considerably so while the Orc army was happily setting up a battleline only our cavalry had managed to extricate themselves from the mountain passes and form-up in a line. There they would wait a couple of turns for the infantry to catch-up and cover their flank.
As our cavalry was on the left, and the Orc cavalry / wargs was on the right a gigantic cavalry clash was clearly going to happen so it would be important to get the first charge in. Through some cunning play (read : luck) it were the humans who got to launch their charge first. And what a charge it was – virtually annihilating the Orc cavalry but then it dawned on us that it had all been a gigantic trap as the deadly card of “Judgement Day” was used on our troops – twice - This had the effect of removing just as much figures from our units as we had killed in that charge. 2 heavy cavalry units got wiped-out, with a third just hanging on and our most powerfull unit – the Red Dragon – frozen in place. It was a disaster from which the left flank would never recover. Gone was the tactical plan to occupy the enemy burial mound.
So with our left flank gone, our right flank still hopelessly stuck in the mountains and out of the game, our only hope lay in the centre where we had a local superiority as the Orc army had concentrated too many of their units on their right flank to counter our cavalry. But the God of Dice hadn’t abandoned us : Maarten and Phil were getting low dice while even our long-shot totally-against-the-odds attacks managed to kill some enemy units so the unit kill tally was slowly turning into our favour. With one unit killed equaling 1 VP we were even ahead by 1 point throughout the middle of the game though we didn’t control any of the victory locations worth 2 VP’s. It was getting late so at that point Phil declared that since neither army was likely to fulfill their victory conditions a “moral victory” would be given to the first army to reach 10 VP’s. It was 7-6 in our favour at that moment so a desperate struggle in the center ensued with both sides going for kills regardless of the consequences. The Orcs were up first killing 3 of our units so it was 7-9 and they were only 1 VP removed from victory, but in our next turn the last cavalry unit coupled with a wizard’s fireball attack and even a regular infantry attack (the only one in the game IIRC, all the rest being ranged, cavalry or magical) managed to kill an orc unit and in a stroke of genius Alan also managed to occupy the central victory location stone which netted us an additional 2 VP’s : 10-9 – we had “won”, but given the carnage all around us, we would have settled for a draw anytime.
As this was a card-driven game with activation, attack bonus and opponent counter-cards we had to use-up all our cards to get out of those bloody (in both senses of the word) mountains and out into the plain while the Orc army had had a chance to accumulate some deadly counter-cards which they used to good effect. I don’t think we ever used either a bonus card or a counter-card throughout the game which is fine as it means the system is flexible enough to cope with different situations and strategies.
I should have brought along my digital camera (and I will next time) as the table looked spectacular. For those who were there here’s what I would have taken pictures off : the Orc army lining up beautifully in the center of the table, the total confusion in the mountain passes following the ambush, the human heavy cavalry drawn up for battle on the hill and the charge downhill and the scenes of Armageddon in the centre as both armies just battered each other to pulp.