Monday, 7 November 2011

Keep running up that road, keep running up that hill

The Battle of Sunchester Hill (Week1, Midlands)

It was a fine day when the Earl of Suchmercove (pronounced “summercove”) met Viscount Silcropton on the road by Sunchester. When each realised that the other was at the head of a sizeable body of men and horses, they grew wary of eachother. It soon became clear that each had received word of Archbishop Trente's planned progress south and each had set out to meet the Pilgrimage of Hope on the road. Suchmercove had come to offer what support and assistance in the task of bringing the errant queen to heel. Silcropton on the other hand had come to bar the Archbishop's path and send him back north.
With this realisation, the two noblemen saluted eachother, then each wheeled his horse around and cantered back to his own body of troops, shouting deployment orders.

The scenario is #40 Dominant Hill from the original “Scenarios for Wargames”. I decided to play Viscount Silcropton (Royalist) and handled The Earl of Suchmercove's deployment and tactics semi-randomly based on the Mythic Game-Master Emulator from Word Mill Press. Essentially in Mythic you ask a question and the dice determine whether the answer is yes or no. Instead of Mythic's percentile tables I just used a d6 with 1-3 being “no”, 4-6 being “yes” and allowing a single plus or minus one modifier for conditions that I thought were highly likely/unlikely.

Instead of the scenario's original “pick 7 units from this list” for each side, I decided to give each side all of the units listed except for the guns, which made for two identical sides of 3 units of Knights, five units of foot knights/men at arms, two units of archers. I'd also decided to use the usual DBA victory condition of first unit to lose 4 unit casualties.

So after I'd planned the Viscount's deployment, I rolled for the Earl's and determined that he would have both his knights and his archers at the top of the small hill, while his men-at-arms would advance along the roadway. I then spent 2-3 game turns deploying both sides' forces from the roads where the scenario had them starting. The Earl's men reached their deployment positions first, but declined to move before the Viscount had finished bringing up his forces (a Mythic-style decision)

Thus the field looked like this – Royalists on the right mainly in red, The Earl of Suchmercove in yellow on the left.

Viscount Silcropton took the initiative by leading his troops in an advance across the board. For some reason the Earl held back, merely bringing down his knights from the hilltop to allow the archers behind to fire over their heads. But the Royalists were still well out of bow range. The Earl ordered his men at arms forward to threaten the royalist archers, who responded with a hail of arrows, softening up two of the units. The following turn Silcropton led higis knhts forward to catch two of the advancing men at arms, inflicting heavy casualties. The two units of men at arms took heavy casualties, then routed from the shock of impact. The knights pursued their routing enemies, bringing on unit into contact with the men at arms' second rank of units. The second rank unit didn't wait to be hit but fled before the approaching heavy horsemen.

Thus in one action the Royalists had scored three out of the four kills required for victory.

On their right, the Royalist men at arms had advanced to threaten the Earl's knights (Note: I made a mistake in the sequencing of this turn. In Rally Round the King you resolve the actions of your bodies of troops in strict order right-to-left. For this turn, I carried out the Royalist actions left-to-right. So strictly speaking, this action and the consequences should have happened first).

The Earl of Suchmercove's knights were then spooked into charging the threatening men at arms before the archers could have a chance to soften them up with bowfire, forming a near symmetry with the dust-up in the south. Things didn't go quite as well for the Earl though – One unit of horse was forced to retired up the hill, while two units of Royalist men at arms were routed.

At this point both sides were fairly even, with the edge just going to the Royalist side. But the Royalist knights were a bit scattered, while the Earl's knights were in two distinct bodies, meaning that the War Rating of each leader would now become a limiting factor in the troops they could control.

In the end, the next turn resolved the battle simply. The Viscount rallied his knights in the centre to attack the Earl's knights, who counter-charged. There was a moment of slightly sticky “who's in contact” questioning of the sort that used to make Dbx really, really not fun. I took advantage of playing solo and handwaved a little so both met on a more or less even basis. The dice gods favoured Silcropton, and one of the two enemy units was forced to retire.

Finally the Silcropton archers piled further volleys into one of the two remaning enemy men at arms units, causing two hits. A failed “Received Fire” reaction test gave the Earl's men a “retire” result, however they had already taken a number of hits equal to their Reputation, turning that result from at Retire into a Rout

The Earl of Suchmercove wheeled his charger around in the heart of the grand melee. Even in all that confusion he was aware that his flanks had both folded and his personal retinue were dangerously exposed in the centre, with Royalist troops folding in on both flanks. Swearing, he savagely spurred his steed back towards the hillside at a gallop, his men streaming after him in an undignified rout. That dandified fop Silcropton may own the field today, but there would be other days, and revenge would be sweet indeed.

 Another fun game taking just a couple of hours to setup and play.  I'd increased the armour class of the knights in this scenario from 4 to 6, which made them pretty hard to kill.

I'm quite badly behind schedule on these games, meaning I'm going to have to try to fit in four games by next Monday to get things back on track.  Tight, but eminently doable with 2 Hour Wargames' rules, which still live up to their name.


  1. Another fine report. I'm enjoying the story very much. Did you use the THW conversion of the fate chart from the Mythic Yahoo group, or just come up with it yourself?

  2. Thank you sir. To be honest I just used the core idea of Mythic - ask the question, dice says yes or no. Using D6, starting with 50/50, modifying it +/-1 for overwhelming arguments one way or another. 1s and 6s would be emphatic no or yes.

    I could just as easily pulled out my gaming go-bag, where I keep a copy of the Mythic fate chart and used that with percentile dice, but I didn't need anywhere near that much granularity for a simple battle setup.