Waken the Storm
As seen in a previous post, I sent off for a copy of the playtest rules for WAKEN THE STORM, a fantasy combat game built from the foundation of THE SWORD AND THE FLAME, a popular colonial wargames ruleset.
I have played MANY games of the Sword and the Flame, and many variants set in various locales; understandable for a ruleset that's been out since the 1970s. I have always enjoyed most of my TSATF games; the game has many elegant mechanics and is mature enough in its development to allow other folks like Chris Freree to come along and tinker with it.
Will TSATF make a decent foundation for a fantasy game? We'll see. It will require some work to get there. In any event, this is our first playtest experience, held at the Game Parlor, Chantilly, VA on September 8. A small human force against a small Undead force. Two people on the human side, two on the Undead side.
The Following is a straight narrative of game with some points brought up. I will be appending the battle report with inputs from the other players as they come in.
Picture One: Center... three medium INF in armor (one more INF to the right) a cavalry unit to the left, then a human militia with bows to the far left (not in picture). Enemy had trolls on right flank, with a mix of skeletal infantry and archers.
Picture Two: My command, moving out. Versus skeletal archers in front. I was shortly counterattacked by Jack (my across the table opponent) on my right.
Picture Three: Infantry to my left moving in on skeletons. You can see their maximum leader (a unit that didn't seem to have any purpose for Undead) in the background with his arms upraised.
Image Four: skeletons attempt a counter charge...
Image Five: Nick didn't measure it right, cuz they are an inch or two short. This is the player to my left versus Nick running the skeletons.
Image Six: Center and right. Skellies charge on my right (but not to contact). I am countercharged in center, but not to contact. Undead have a nice ability to charge in without having to do a morale check. Must be nice to be undead...
Image Seven: Our extreme left flank. The Militia archers encounter some trolls, and kill the leader. Then they (the militia) break and run for it.
Image Eight: My leftmost infantry in armor line up on the right side of the attacking center column.
Image Nine: The Cavalry has broken the first group of skellies that charged and were two inches short, by countercharging them. They slaughter most of the skeletons and the non-wounded ones run away.
This led to a discussion about reforming. Can you run away, reform, and reform aiming right back at the enemy? That seems a bit generous, but the rules say you can reform facing any way you want.
Image 10: The Cavalry are now unformed, themselves. Can they fall back and reform? The rules say no.
Image 11: Nigel Clarke, SWORD AND THE FLAME expert in residence, keeps an eye on the game and reads off the rules.
Image 12: The rightmost inf. from the player on my left hits the left side of the opposing frontage. HE resolves first, then I do. He whittles them down to several wounded and a few killed. I decimate the rest with no casualties.
Image 13: My right becomes a real slaughterfest. I get whittled down pretty fast, but give as well as I get. Mostly wounded and departed on both sides.
Image 14: To my left, the reformed cavalry get slammed into by the last large skeletal infantry unit.
Image 15: Casualties are building up on the right... more wounded . The standing good guy in the back is a straggler.
Image 16: The archers attack unformed on the left. My unit loses cohesion and becomes unformed.
Image 17: The result: one good guy left alive and untouched. Tough dude! To be fair, I rolled well and Jack rolled poorly. Given average die rolls I should have been wiped out.
Image 18: Pig pile in the center. The guy on the left takes casualties, but gives back even more.
Image 19: Skellies in the center cave in!
Image 20: The remaining trolls break the cavalry.
Image 21: Skellies no longer a problem in the center
Image 22: Endgame... cav run away from trolls
After Game: We try to figure out how large monsters are in combat:
Conclusions, thus far:
(for ease of reading: TSATF = "The Sword and the Flame" and WTS = "Waken the Storm")
We had fun, but WTS did not meet our expectations of a fantasy game.. yet. The rules still feel like TSATF with a fantasy overlay. The overlay has a few points where it chafes against the underlying foundations. Players that were relatively new to TSATF thought that the card mechanics for initiative and wounding (a straight lift from TSATF) were very elegant but they seemed clumsy when it came down to a straight up melee fight. Perhaps the timing of the when you draw the wounding cards made him think there was a modifier given twice or something.
We had major problems with the concept of a BNM (big nasty monster) in these rules. We tried an experiment (see Image "After Game") with a dragon standin and a group of six armored spearmen. The "dragon" bounced off of the infantry unit all night long.
We also have yet to try out magic to any extent, and ONLY have played with the infantry combat rules. Our impression was that CURRENTLY WTS has a Games Workshop "Lord of the Rings Skirmish Game" feel to it, and really could use a heavier fantasy element, especially in the mechanics.
That's all for now, I will be appending this document as reports trickle in.