Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Phodian Rescue: A 40k Battle Report

As a step away from my battle planning I fought a battle! With the pandemic and social isolation I've been having the chance to paint some miniatures to a higher standard than normal. I'm sure you are in much the same boat. One of the things I ended up painting was a collection of Blood Angels marines that had been strangely obtained and set in the boxes of models not assembled. Within a short period of time, and quite unexpectedly, an entire collection and playable force of model soldiers were ready to take the battle field. As you look at these photos (not good ones, sorry) please don't judge my lack of basing too harshly as I have run out of materials :) Please enjoy...

The Mission: Phodia was lost but in an effort to secure valuable materials for Mephiston the captain of the first company of the Blood Angels, Captain Karlean, dropped to the surface of the planet with a strike force to locate and rescue the governor of the planet. His forces included terminator squad Alphaeus, a death company including Cassor the Damned a dreadnought that had fallen to the black rage, and a tactical squad with rhino transport to provide mobile support. His tactical decisions were based on the six possible locations of the governor and he had to spread is forces all over the city to find the governor before the Tyranids did. 

Early Battle
The city was in ruins. Orbital bombardments had blasted the structures of man into dust and rubble, an ideal hunting ground for the Tyranid war organisms. Captain Karlean's orders put Cassor the Damend and squad Eladinaeus directly into action. Cassor was to engage the war beasts that had been identified and Eladinaeus was to move to points of interest and initiate search protocols. The Tyranids were not without intent and three carnifex emerged from the sewers setting their dark eyes on Cassor who saw them as strange reflections of the Arch Traitor. In the background a Broodlord, the Beast of Phodia, and unrecognized brother of the governor, moved with his brood of genestealers to find the governor as well.  Please note the pict grabs from the servo skulls are out of chronological order. Post battle data was at best compromised and in some cases irretrievable...

Squad Eladenaeus had delivered a contingent of forces to search a possible location on the left flank. While exploring for the governor and Trygon Prime and accompanying brood of Hormagants surfaced between them and the rest of the initial search team and they were overrun. 
Cassor the Damned was unleashed into the heart of the area knowing he would serve as a great distraction to any of the hive mind's forces. Before his death he made a good showing of himself destroying three war beasts in close battle. 
A pict grab by servo skull Lambda-14-5556 as the Trygon and brood surfaced isolating combat squad Artemas (Eldinaneus) and committing them to defeat. 
Captain Karlea and Squad Alphaeus teleports into a ruined administratum structure seeking the governor. They can hear activity and auspex scans are indicating movement, unsure if friend or foe they push on. In the distance can be seen Cassor confronting war beasts of the hive mind. 
Pict grab by servo skull Rho-177-//87 captures the same scene of the Captain's arrival but from an angle showing the surfacing Trygon at the same time as the Captain and his terminators. In the connecting street the rhino transport "Furious Retribution" delivers the remainder of Eladinaeus to another possible location of the governor. The sergeant knowing he may be damning his squad mates left behind to death. 
The Beast of Phodia watches on as its Carnifexes seek to overwhelm and destroy Cassor and the Trygon and brood separate the Blood Angels' forces. 

Mid Battle
Combat squad Artemas held its ground against the overwhelming numbers of Tyranid foot troops. Eventually over come but not before Artemas himself found single handed for 3 combat rounds before succumbing to numbers. Genestealers continue to emerge from hidden lairs to support their Broodlord controller and Cassor falls even as his fellow Death Company in Squad Raphaen drops from high orbit to battle. 
Squad Raphaen drops from high orbt, black armor smoking, seeking to bring destruction to what appears to be traitor marines to them. In the distance they spot what they take to be Horus himself and redirect their actions to slay the arch traitor.
Even as Squad Raphaen is dropping from the sky Cassor the Damned is surprised by the Trygon Prime as he finishes the last of the Carnifexes. Without time to react the massive war beasts tears the dreadnought into pieces and throws Cassor's form to the ground. 
Combat Squad Artemas fights on desperately, likely giving in to the black rage as the options become bleak. 
A servo skull pict grab of Squad Raphaen descending near a brood of Genestealers they mistake for traitors. Within seconds of this photo they spot what they believe to be Horus and change tactics. 
From across the plaza this servo skull captures the image of Squad Eladinaeus reaching their position and Karlean with this men searching furious while the Trygon seeks new prey. 

End Battle
With all Death Company assets lost and the rest of the battle field firmly in Tyranid control it falls to squad Alphaeus and Eladinaeus to find the governor, and without fanfare Captain Karlean pulls him from the ruins. Squad Alphaeus forms up into a protective barrier and Karlean calls down the transport to remove the high value governor. The Beast of Phodia smells its brother though and brings all forces to slay the Blood Angels and take the governor. 
Servo skull Lambda-14-5556 captures the bloody close combat battle between Tyranid and Terminator. Barely visible beyond "Furious Retribution" is Captain Karlean fearlessly facing down the Trygon.
The final moments of Artemas as he is overwhelmed by Hormagants. His last vox transmissions indicate he had fully fallen into the black rage but would not be marked as such as he had entered the battle whole. 
The Trygon having discarded Cassor's shell communes with the Broodlord and submits to it's will. The crew of "Furious Retribution" drive the transport between the massive creature and the governor vowing they will not move. 
Artemas slain the Hormagants rush to overwhelm Squad Raphaen, attacking them from the rear as only xenos would. 

Squad Raphaen suddenly finds themselves surrounded by traitor marines with mutations, their rage becomes unchecked and their recklessness is their downfall. 

Operation Conclusion
The servo skulls in operation became overwhelmed with spores and minor hive beasts and were unable to record the end of the battle. Captain Karlean though provided a full post action report and though he did not identify his own heroics the surviving strike force members recounted in detail how he withstood the assault of the Trygon and Broodlord each separately and slew them in close combat. The governor was rescued and aspects of Squad Alphaeus was also recovered. 

Monday, June 15, 2020

Battle Planning: Wizardry

In planning my battle for Madison Hill I've been deep in thought about the wizards that will be battling there. I've decided there are three; a classic wizard in the defense forces, the necromancer general of the undead army, and a vampire with dark magic. Realizing I'm constructing rules for only 3 wizards means I can and am going to make the rules for those three wizards. I don't want to get into the Age of Sigmar format that has war scrolls for each unit but instead just a selection of spells that all can use that are separated into dark and light. Dark magic clearly is offensive and evil in nature and light magic will be more utilitarian and protective but have no dangers in use. 

Each wizard will generate 2d6 points of magic at the beginning of each game turn. These can be spent to cast spells during the different phases of the game according to the spell's use. Wizards can retain their magic points earned between game turns to save up for more powerful spells. The spells provided have either a flat cost or one that scales, such as the ubiquitous fire ball spell that can have magic dumped into it to make the impact greater. 

I said above dark and light magic would have slightly different effects. The basic idea i'm working off from is that dark magic has a chance to go wrong and hurt the caster or nearby soldiers and light magic can throw out "sparks of radiance" that can destroy undead and spirits but isn't harmful to the living. This enables the necromancer general to throw light spells with risk and the good wizard to thrown dark magic with risk. 

Here are the spells I've decided upon without any rules attached. 

The Scrolls of Thaug

 Arcane Bolt: the wizards some a bolt of lightning from his out stretched hand and blasts a single target within his sight. A tricky spell to use as lightning bolts tend to zig zag and only the most capable wizards can his a target as small as a man. Very useful against giants and castle walls though.

Arcane Blast: the wizard conjures a ball of exploding flame centered upon a spot he can see. The flame envelops everything around it, friend or foe, and sets to fire flammable material. Little skill is needed to aim it effectively.

Golden Arrows of Phasma (light magic): a gentle minded sorceress Phasma created only one spell of death. It summons from the skies dozens of magic arrows as if fired from a long distance with a marksman’s precision and never strikes a friendly warrior.

Tendrils of the Dark One (dark magic): from beneath the ground tentacles of dark magic thrust upwards grabbing whatever is in their reach and seek to drag it to the hellfire realm below. From the wizard in a straight line the spells goes a random distance possibly killing everything living in the path of the tentacles.

Waylands Bladewind: a spell developed by Wayland to protect himself from hordes of goblins and darklings  when cast a hundred magic daggers are summoned and spin point out from the wizard pushing away would be adversaries.

Dimensional Pathway: a well used spell by many skilled wizards it summons a small door that only the wizard can see allowing him or her to cross rooms or continents in the blink of an eye.

Hop: commonly cast in panic is moves the wizard a random direction a random distance. Sometimes with unpleasant results.

Mystic Armor: a favorite of the Order of the White Rose this incantations encases a body of soldiers in magical invisible plates of elemental earth deflecting swords and arrows. It is not affixed well as binding the wild of any element to the physical world is at best temporary and sloughs off as the soldiers move or take hits.

Sage’s Shadow Cloak: wrapping themselves in darkness the wizard makes it at best difficult to be identified and just as challenging to be struck. As with any shadows though light will dispel it easily enough.

Summon Elemental: a spell requiring great expenditure of power and materials the wizards reaches their will into the aether and pulls forth an elemental spirit to serve them for as long as they can bind them to their will.

Animate the Dead (dark magic): a necromancer’s greatest tool this spell allows them half-souls into the remains of bodies and bind them to their will. It is an easy to learn spell but difficult to master. 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Injury Report

The writing of the rules are on hold. I was mid post about wizardry and I gashed my right middle finger open to the knuckle bone. I will finish the post when I am healed in a couple weeks. In the mean time, here is my hand.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Building a Game...Orders and Order of Battle

My construction of my own battle game continues. I am working out various mechanics to accomplish what I want and during all this and I have been reviewing and considering various regiments and heroes that will be taking the field.

I want heroes to have special rules that will let them influence the battle but not become the deciding factor, so no "hero hammer" so to speak. At the same time I want there to be some aspect to the game that reflects their command without writing orders in secret (I like that but many people don't). I settled on a system where regiments and monsters will have "impetus" which means they will move towards the nearest visible enemy regiment and engage in combat. Some regiments will not have impetus because of their nature and training, such as archers, which would not move to engage but instead fire on the closest.

If the player wants to have a regiment do something different during the beginning of the game turn they have to have a hero that can give commands do so. All heroes with the exception of a few will be able to give commands to a single regiment, effectively marching with that regiment and directing their actions. The mechanics would be simple; the player indicates which hero is giving orders to which regiment then rolls 2d6 on their Willpower (the hero's) and if successful they mark them ordered. An ordered unit can be moved how ever the player wishes and can make the following order choices, given at the time of the order's issues:
  • March: the regiment can move two full moves towards the front, it may wheel or shift but always forward. This cannot result in engagement in melee. 
  • At The Double: the regiments moves three full moves in a forward direction, it may not shift or wheel. This cannot result in engagement in melee. 
  • Back Step: the regiment moves one full move directly backwards.
  • Charge: the regiment moves directly towards an enemy of the player's choice and can make up to two full moves to engage. If they fail to reach they will only move one full move but must still move towards the foe. 
  • Change Formation: there are a handful of formation the regiments can adopt that grant them various benefits and some regiments will have bonus rules if they are in a certain formation. The standard formation is block (rank and file). 
Regarding the Order of Battle I have pretty much decided on the defending forces of Madison Hill. A rag tag collection of trained soldiers, brave heroes, and forest spirits pit themselves against a vile army of ghouls and skeletons raised from their graves by a dark necromancer allied with an occultist and his demonic thralls and beast men body guards. I'll outline the defenders here as I'm still thinking about the attackers final organization.

Baron Uther Dragonbane: lord of the province where Madison Hill stands and protector of the people. He is general of the army and rides to battle wielding the heirloom battle axe "Dragonbane" which his family is named after.

Sir Christian Dragonbane: son of Uther and rider of the mythic Pegasus Sir Christian is a tried knight of battle and a leader among men.

Megrim of Harret House: a wizard of some renown that has made his way to Madison Hill to pit his powers against the dread necromancer. He has little concern for defending the village but is personally affronted by the misuse of magic.

Irok Stonegrim: a dwarf from the mountains of Purple Peaks and a priest of the gods he has marched to Madison Hill to pit his faith against the dead. Failing to gather a band of dwarfs who continue their practice of isolation he has come alone but has been welcomed by the defenders as a sign that the gods are with them.

Men-At-Arms and Archers: over fifty men of Uther's banner have joined him in the defense of the village. they are primarily halberdiers with some long bowmen ready to stand beside their liege lord. Sturdy soldiers and veterans of other battles.

Knights: nearly 20 knights both errant untried and noble veterans have flocked from their holdings to defend the village. Having sworn oaths to the Baron they keep those oaths and come with their retainers ready to charge into the dead.

Pilgrims of the Lost Knight: pilgrims from the monastery of the Lost Knight they bear the reliquary of a long forgotten questing knight. Carrying his remains into battle so that he may find glory and fulfill  his quest. Only the most fanatic of the pilgrims take to the field the others standing back to protect the peasants in their homes or support the medicine practitioners.

From the Dark Wood comes unexpected allies though. Long has Baron Dragonbane maintained a ban on hunting or timbering in the ancient Dark Wood. He upheld a mysterious document of peace and oath of alliance passed down from father to son for ten generations. He did not believe in the spirits of the wood but he would not be the Dragonbane to break any promise signed by his ancestors. On the eve of battle from the wood came marching fantastical creatures made of branch and trunk coming to uphold their oaths from hundreds of years ago.

Spiteleaf: a dryad spirit sorceress in command of the spirits that were roused to defend the village. She is mysterious and powerful but trustworthy pledging her forces to destroy the threat of the walking dead.

Dryads: a band of nearly twenty forest spirits have forged themselves physical bodies of trunk and branch. A man and a half tall they are strong and fierce having no fear of death but a blood thirsty hatred of dark magic. These spirits would see the oath held that Dragonbane's family had kept solemn.

Greatbaugh: an ancient spirit of great power that has bound an ancient tree to his will and created a mighty treant for war from it. Now he marches in defense of Madison Hill and has no more purpose in his mind that smashing as many of the enemy to pieces as he can.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Building a Battle...Invoking the Gods

As I continue to build the game I have the opportunity to explore an aspect of fantasy gaming I have always had an affinity for; the divine. I am a spiritual person myself and I have no problem with other's religious or spiritual or lack of spiritual beliefs. These are important to us, they can be moral compasses or comforts, and I will not deride another man's beliefs. I will add the caveat that they should end where another's begins, I do not force mine on others. The preamble out of the way I play cleric's in Dungeons and Dragons almost exclusively and their ability to call forth the power of the gods is just really cool in my mind. I want the cleric-like heroes of my game to be able to something similar but on a war level rather than a dungeon room level. I also want it to be slightly unreliable as in fantasy writing the gods can be fickle being less than omniscient and all-powerful.

How I have decided to do this is simple but I feel will be fun still. A hero with some tie to the gods will generate a random amount of favor each turn which can be spent to invoke miracles through prayer. Praying requires all their focus and even then the player will need to make a willpower roll to succeed invoking the miracles. This means if a divine hero is in battle, restricted in some way, or unable to focus they won't be able to invoke. Also the favor can be stored from turn to turn to reach more powerful miracles. All the miracles I write up will be available to any hero with divine access and some will have very high scores and may not be reachable until later in the battle, some will be easily accessible quickly.
Cannot find source, sorry, if you know tell me.

A couple of examples:

Prayer of healing- 3 favor - heroes or monsters remove 1d3 damage markers or regiments make an immediate rally check if they are not disrupted or broken.

Banish Evil- 2 favor per applicable target - all undead, demons, or possessed regiments/heroes (friend or foe) within 4" of the invoker must make a willpower check, if failed they suffer 1d6 damage and fall back 2 moves from the invoker. If their willpower check is double sixes (a critical failure) then the regiment is blasted to dust and removed from the battle. This cannot be used on limited numbers, all within range must be figured into the invocation.

Blessing- 6 favor - any one hero anywhere on the battle field but within sight of the invoker becomes blessed for the remainder of the battle; they may re-roll 1's for armor saves and attack rolls.

Obviously some fidgeting will need to be done. Some costs may be too high, some miracles too strong, etc. I have to play it out some to see but I'm also not looking to create balance. I believe my standard, which everyone should have, while constructing this battle regarding magic and such is that nothing should be a "always use" ability. Also not everything should always have an effective use, such as Banish Evil above: very good against some things and useless against others. 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Building a Game: Missile Fire Effects

Continuing my new hobby of designing a battle I've been reading up on middle ages archery. It is an unusual bag of historical information. Some sources imply it is only moderately effective while others reference battles like Agincourt and show how terrible it is. Being mindful that my game is fantasy and meant to be fun I've decided to go with a mechanic that combines aspects of ratio to dice roll and normal hits to create something that affects tactics and order but still kills models. Maybe not the best of both worlds, I need to play it a little bit to see.

To perform missile fire of any form be it a body of archers, a magic spell, or a catapult the player controlling the attacking regiment figures it's fire power score. This will almost always be it's Vigor score multiplied by the models. Obvious spells will have their own fire power score or maybe a catapult's missile is much higher than the weapon's Vigor. (In fact I plan that war machines have no vigor and are just destroyed if engaged) Then this is compared with the Vigor of the target generating a ratio of 3 to 1 (in favor) to 1 to 3 (out of favor) for the attacking regiment. Then the player will roll a single d6 and reference  table (below).

The possible results are a number of hits (d3, d6, or 2d6), Disrupted (Di), Fall Back (Fa), and Retreat (Ret). The effects of these are:

  • d3/d6/2d6 indicate a number of damage applied, no armor saves are taken.
  • Disrupted is as normal indicating the regiment cannot receive orders the following turn should they fail a Courage roll.
  • Fall Back is as normal indicating the regiment makes one move directly away from the attack including change in facing should a Courage roll be failed.
  • Retreat is as normal indicating the regiment makes 3 moves directly away from the attacker and becomes Disrupted should they fail a Courage roll. 
Disrupted, Fall Back, and Retreat will be blended into melees as well as magic or other effects. The table below shows that a very unfavorable ratio makes it nearly impossible to have much effect while a relatively small regiment that is targeted will take significant damage from a good roll. Also it is evident that a roll of 1 or 2 is always ineffective. Ranges are not taken into account beyond a minimum range for any particular missile weapon as detailed by the regiment's unit card. As i'm looking at a 1 to 1 ratio for models to soldiers it seemed absurd to apply any range as a general rule. Longbows had a historical range of 180 meters (little less than 600 feet) and as my planned 6x4 table with a 1 inch is 1 meter ration means  they could fire over two full tables. 

Okay, enough blather, here is the table...

Die Roll
3 to 1
2 to 1
1 to 1
1 to 2
1 to 3
1 or 2
By way of simple example say a body of 20 longbow archers fire on a body of 30 spear men. Both regiments have a Vigor of 1 per model so it is 20 to 30 (.66 or 1 to 1). The player rolls a d6 and scores a 4 this would result in 1 to 3 damage to the target. A score of 5 would do possibly double (D6) but also requires the target to make a Courage test or they would be unable to receive orders later. 

If you've ready this far I commend you. This is effectively a personal journal where I am working out my own "game". If you have feedback I am always open to it. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Designing a Battle..the First Steps

I have been playing war games for about 25 years give or take. I am also a lover of the older rules, the older games, and in general of things a little more "crunchy" as is often said. I love reading old war games books, meaning books about war games, not just rules (I read those too).

Long story short I have decided to build a war game. This isn't to say write my own war games rules, there are enough good pieces out there to make an amalgam that serves my purposes. I mean plan a battle, raise the regiments and heroes, and write a collection of rules for them. I have been wanting to do this for a long time now and I am hoping that by creating this journal of my progress it will see it come to fruition.

The story of the battle is that a small road stop hamlet named Madison Hill is in the path of a rampaging army of undead and demons under the power of an ancient Liche and the Baron over the lands has decided to make his stand in defense of Madison Hill. I have some model buildings I would like to finish to represent Madison Hill; a black smith, a couple of burned out farm houses, a cool watch tower, you get the idea. I also have a selection of models I'd like to organize and get cleaned up to use for the regiments and heroes of the battle.

The rules will be roughly written, not overly specific, and built form pieces of Warhammer Fantasy Battles (all editions) and rules from other sources I believe will give the feel that I want. I desire there to be a 1 to 1 model ratio but still have effects like demoralization and disruption. Also I want models to be removed and also returned from rallying as can be found in some of Neil Thomas' rules. I don't want regiments to just winnow away over a turn or two but I also don't want the game to become bogged down pointlessly. I want heroes to have an effect that is more about moral of the soldiers than being really good at fighting by themselves although they can do that too. I also want an order system in place that requires planning in advance for an effectively simultaneous turn, not a Side A Side B game turn.

The first place I have started is in deciding what numbers are important, and I came up with these items and why they are valuable.

  1. MOVE: obvious one here but I plan to have the rules use "moves" as in a regiment charging can make up to three moves, or triple their move score, to reach the foe. 
  2. Combat: a simple but effective way to reflect the melee ability of the regiments and heroes as measured in a simple d6+ score. I plan that only the most amazing fighters have a 3+, the average soldier a 5+. But all attacks can score a "critical hit" on a 6 meaning they do an immediate unpreventable damage along with a further hit.
  3. Strength and Toughness: two scores that directly interact. To determine if a hit causes an injury the scores are compared. This will result in an easier or harder score on a d6 to cause injury. 
  4. Vigor: reflecting the enduring power of the regiment and hero to hold fast in the face of injury or foul fortune. Also reflects their ferocity of battle. A standard soldier would have a vigor of 1 meaning it generates 1 attack dice and 1 damage removes it. 
  5. Willpower and Courage: again a pair of scores given a 2d6 or lower tolerance. One for resisting negative supernatural effects the other for morale. 
  6. Armor: a generic but effective d6+ score to defend against hits. 
A couple of notes regarding these. First the effects of missile fire will be resolved differently. While I do not have it completely worked out yet I do have an understanding in my mind that it will take the form of totaling dice scores and referencing a table for effect. I feel this is both more simulation accurate to a fantasy battle format and prevents silly things like a single archer doing anything of worth. Second the order of hits, damage, and saves is not the common format. Hits will be scored, THEN saves will be taken, those not saved are rolled as injury rolls to inflict damage. It is possible a fighter gets beyond his enemy's defenses only to land a weak glancing injury that his more vigorous foe shrugs off. A small change to be sure but I believe a telling on when we put dice to it. Third the strength vs. toughness mechanic was one I debated internally. While I value quick resolution and it would have been easy to disregard this and just use a hit vs. save mechanic what I came down on was that a giant should be harder to hurt than a footman. The only other way to do with was give the giant a huge number of hits and as I wanted to tie this to vigor it seemed like I was just passing one mechanic into another. This format allows me to have variety with the magic and combat instead of just ever higher hit points. 

There will be no points in place for this game. I have no interest in balance beyond that which I see in the building of the armies and the game itself. I do plan to restrict heroes to no more than 1 per body of soldiers and cavalry. I'll likely do the same restriction to large monsters (which we must have) and any kind of siege weapons I feel are appropriate. 

That is the start. I am busy writing up regiment cards and when those are done I will provide them for your feedback and snarky comments (the best kind of comments). As I also feel any blog post lacking photographic attempts fails to explore all potential allow me to provide you with this...
...this is "Arijog the Hunter" a custom knight for 40k. He is a freebalde who hunts the biggest monsters and daemons he can find and mounts trophies on his knight. He is a little crazy, but that is how I like them :)