Friday, October 12, 2012

Hostile Realms Campaign Playtest Turn Spring 1

The city on the island is my capital or base of operations.  The brown units are my armies (the goodies).  The gray units are the Undead (the baddies).  The hidden blocks are armies (battle groups) and they started on my two northernmost cities.  I now have 3 army groups heading for the lands of the Undead.  One has reached the Undead city of Daniz on the left above the large number 3.  This is the battle that ended the turn and it has revealed its strength.

We've been planning a Hostile Realms fantasy campaign using Piquet's Theater of War (TOW) campaign rules and the Wizard Kings Vassal module online.  Some of my other articles about this campaign are here.

Undead Jed and I are running a playtest of the system to ensure that the Vassal module works the way we want it to.  In this playtest, we logged on using Skype (Greg was an observer) and then ran the Theater of War turn using the d20 die roller built into the module to roll for initiative.

The brown units belong to the Middle Kingdom (me).  The gray units belong to the Undead.  The visible castles merely mark control of populated areas (cities).  Cities are useful because capturing them can increase the National Will (VP's) of your nation and make them more likely to continue the war.  You can also build a supply depot on a city and use that new depot as a supply source for your armies instead of your capital.

In TOW you draw cards from your deck and place them in your hand.  Depending on the season, your hand size is restricted.  This is Spring 1 season, so our hand size is 5 cards.  You can play a card from your hand, act on a played card, or discard cards from your hand.  All of these actions cost impetus.

I rolled pretty well for initiative (d20 vs d20) and the difference between the rolls was my impetus.  I had a few series of 12 or 15 impetus which allowed me to cycle through my deck and build a hand that would push my armies forward.

I eventually pulled 10 impetus on a winning Initiative roll.  I had a Heroic Effect card in my hand and a Light Move card already played.  I drew another Light Move card and was then able to spend impetus to play all 3 cards in sequence:
  • 1 impetus draw Light Move card, 
  • Light Move card was already played and up, 
  • 2-4 impetus: move 3 armies on roads in Light terrain, 
  • 5 impetus play Heroic Effect card from hand, 
  • 6 impetus play Light Move card from hand, 
  • 7 impetus move "heroically" (combined Heroic Effect with Light Move=double move) 2 hexes on road into Daniz city hex occupied by Undead army.  
  • 8 impetus draw Strength card into hand.  
  • 9 impetus draw Engage in Battle card into hand.  
  • 10 impetus play Engage in Battle card on the Undead army to battle for control of Daniz.
And now my hand had the following cards:  Attack, Strength, Engage in Battle(Strength), and Officer Check.

I was saving the Officer Check card in my hand because I hoped to build a supply depot in Daniz if I captured it.  The Undead army in Daniz had not moved the entire turn and was completely immobile.  I figured it might be a dummy or maybe a small force left to anchor the flank.  Boy, was I wrong.  The sneaky Undead had actually left a large Size 3 Battle Group in the city for reasons known only to the mysterious servants of death.  My aggressive Middle Kingdom knights (Size 2 Battle Group) surged forward and and engaged a larger force in battle.  Sneaky Undead.

So, let's figure out the battle:

We compared Battle Hands.  Undead Jed had an Attack Battle hand with 3 cards (Attack, Heroic Effort(Strength) and Strength).  I had the same size Battle Hand:  Attack, Strength, and Engage In Battle (Strength), but his larger battle group size might cause me some trouble.  We had both selected Attack as our battle strategy so the battle would be an Encounter battle.  Since a battle was engaged, the campaign turn ended.

We then drew cards from the Army Characterization Deck (ACD) to determine the size of our tabletop armies.  Jed pulled a 4+3+7 for 14 units from his army campaign roster strength (not great, the card numbers could be from 2-10).  His Battle Group size advantage (BG 3 to BG 2) gave him an additional pull from the ACD deck and he drew an artillery effect card.  This effect card allows him to select ONE character from his campaign roster instead or using random selection.

I pulled my ACD cards for the Middle Kingdoms army.  My campaign roster contains 25 units.  When I draw ACD cards for campaign roster size, I continue to draw cards until I've drawn a numeric force card for every set of 10 units on my roster.

I drew:

  • 3 card, 
  • Artillery Effect, 
  • 5 card, 
  • Infantry Effect, 
  • Cavalry Effect, 
  • and an 8 card (reduced to a 5 card because the final numerical card can't be more than the 21-25 of the last set of 10 from my roster).  
I was lucky that I drew so many effect cards on my search for my 3 numerical force cards.

So my total is:  13 units (3+5+5(8 reduced to 5).  Artillery Effect allows me to pick a character, Infantry Effect allows me to pick an infantry unit, and Cavalry effect allows me to pick a beast unit, large creature, or cavalry unit.

The campaign roster for Middle Kingdoms is:

*Champion General
*Hero Sub-commander
1. Household Knights
2. Household Knights
3. Household Knights
4. Feudal Knights
5. Feudal Knights
6. Feudal Knights
7. Feudal Knights
8. Sergeants
9. Sergeants
10. Crossbowmen
11. Crossbowmen
12. Hand-gunners
13. Mountaineers
14. Civic Militia
15. Civic Militia
16. Archers of the Guard
17. Mountaineers
18. Civic Militia
19. Civic Militia
20. Ribaldequin organ gun
21. Minotaurs
22. Shire Archers
23. Rex Champion Upgrade
24. Jhone of Orc Hero Upgrade
25. Priest

I picked:
  • Minotaurs (Cavalry Effect)
  • Rex Character Champion Upgrade (Artillery Effect)
  • Archers of the Guard (Infantry Effect)
The remaining 10 units will be chosen randomly:
  • Crossbowmen
  • Feudal Knights
  • Civic Militia
  • Household Knights
  • Organ Gun
  • Priest
  • Feudal Knights
  • Sergeants
  • Handgunners
  • Household Knights
A very strange selection. A sub-commander will also be present automatically.  I was happy to see the Priest included.  He should be useful to the army.  The army seems to be very cavalry-heavy.  Is that good or bad?  It all depends on what the battlefield looks like.  And guess what, TOW will determine that for you too.  That will be the next article.