Monday, April 20, 2009

Armies of Arcana Battle Report #1

As anticipated, the big day finally came. With my Hexon II terrain flocked and ready to go, we were finally ready, for the first time in nearly two years(!) we busted out the minis and the dice and had ourselves a game.

This was our first outing with Armies of Arcana. As our new fantasy armies aren't painted up yet, we busted out our old Fantasy Warriors armies to test the system. Surprisingly, the armies came out to approximately equal points values in AoA as well, so we were good to go.

Before I get into the battle report proper, my impressions on AoA, both in general and as it applies to Fantasy Warriors.

I have to say that AoA very much lived up to my expectations. Despite being our first game, things flowed very smoothly. We had practically no need of rules lookups, particularly after the first couple turns. One of my biggest issues with FW was the way modifiers could pile up for nearly every roll. It made for either tons of chart lookups or having to keep a bunch of running totals swimming around in our heads. AoA, for the most part, has only a handful of modifiers that come up with any sort of regularity. I also liked the tactical elements of the game, such as the different maneuvers, both out of melee and while engaged.

We'll probably port some of FW into AoA as houserules, particularly the pre-game sequence of reading the omens, making boasts, scouting, etc. Possibly the time clock and Bad Light rules as well.

On to the battle (click the thumbnails for larger pics)...

Here's the Hexon tiles set up in all their glory. I have yet to get together a proper 4x6 table set-up, so this was a roughly 3x5 arrangement. The versatility and aesthetic appeal of the Hexon tiles are exactly what I've been looking for. I couldn't be happier. Turns out I've got way more terrain tiles than I'll ever need, which will be great--a literally endless variety of possible arrangements!

A ground's-eye view of the table. You can see the undulating terrain and hills that the tiles allow you to create.

Here's a view of the armies after set-up. As per the rules, we each set the game-winning objective for the other person. I set Des the objective of defeating my general, she set my objective as defeating her unit of Human Knights (lower right of the photo).

Another view of the deployment.

View from the dwarf lines.

The battle's under way. The dwarves are holding the line as the orcs advance, screened by archers in skirmish formation. Speaking of archers, that was a key difference between AoA and FW--missile fire is much deadlier! The first half of the battle was dominated by missile duels between my orc longbows and Des's dwarven crossbows.

My plans, such as they were, revolved around a pincer-like attack. Here we can see a unit of scimitar orcs coming up on the right flank as my trolls snake their way forward, sheltering from missile fire as long as possible.

And here's the left flank; my other unit of scimitar orcs and a wolf-mounted hero wheeling around the craggy hill, making for the human knights.

The missile duels over (you can see my archers falling back behind the advancing orcs with spears and the dwarven crossbows doing likewise), melee approaches.

Flash forward a couple turns. I had taken a gamble in casting Chaos Vortex from my wizard's lofty vantage point on the hill. In true orcish fashion, the Vortex drifted across both friendly and unfriendly units, wreaking total havoc in the process. The good news is that it completely wiped out a unit of dwarven spears and seriously compromised another unit of dwarves with two-handed axes--but it also took care of fully half of my own unit of spear-orcs! Here they are fleeing from the Vortex as my wizard and general look on helplessly. My center had collapsed.

That's when I decided to take a gamble. I cast Mark of Chaos on my general, hoping to get a nice little bonus for the fight I knew was coming--my general would have to hold the center against the inevitable onslaughts (my general being the victory objective and all...).

I informed Des of the odds: on a roll of 1 thru 4, my general would get a buff. A roll of 5 would have no effect. A roll of 6 and my general blows up.

I rolled a 6. 

Although Des hadn't technically killed my general, we took that as good enough for dwarven victory purposes.

Here's where the left flank stood when the general blew up. An assault was imminent, and things definitely were still very much up in the air. But dinner was calling, and I was willing to take a risk on my general. The risk didn't pay off this time. Next time...

Well, next time I'll hopefully be busting out some sweet Undead action. Oh yes, there will be a next time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

At long last...back in the saddle!

About three weeks ago I finished up my last two batches of Civil War paint-for-hire miniatures. That was it, as far as commissioned projects go. The end of over two years of having to set my own miniatures second to other peoples'. I thought I might be too burned out to segue into my own stuff, but I surprised even myself with a flood of minis-related work.

First I finished my WWII Odessa project. Then last week I took the weekend and finished up my Hexon terrain. So now we actually have proper terrain to play on! Tomorrow's my birthday, and I'm celebrating with our first game of Armies of Arcana and the new terrain. Pics will follow, of course.

(Since our "new" fantasy armies are still in progress, we'll be using our old Grenadier/Fantasy Warriors armies. I statted them up in AoA and, surprisingly, they came out equally balanced.)

Next on the list are our fantasy armies and, quite unexpectedly, the samurai armies. The reason for the latter moving up the list so quickly is that I ordered a can of Army Painter stain and have come up with a quick-painting scheme utilizing that product.

At any rate, this blog has been long and talk and short on pics for far too long, so without further ado I'm going to play a bit of catch-up now.

First, some pics of the figures I've completed so far for my Undead army.

The renegade Amazon necromancer riding an undead troll (figure by Hasslefree Miniatures):

Next, Mirliton's fantastic recasting of the old Grenadier Undead War Mammoth, with figures by Games Workshop and...Ral Partha? Maybe...?

Lastly, a Reaper Wraith figure, my general:

My vision for this army is that it comes from a Hades-like "Land of the Dead" that periodically overflows into the land of the living. Des's Amazons live on the borders of the Land of the Dead and act as the first line of defense/guardians against these incursions.

Next up are some of my zombie minis. There are eight survivors grouped into four pairs (mostly courtesy of Hasslefree):

A few of my zombies (there are about 30 to 40 total), courtesy of a mix of manufacturers:

Lastly, some of my Odessa project figures. As I've discussed before, I've mounted the figures in "fire teams" on circular slotta bases. Intended to be used with Blitzkrieg Commander, these bases should be usable with nearly any rules set short of a 1:1 skirmish game, which is the sort of rules system I'm distancing myself from anyway.

Some Romanians (plus a German pioneer section); you can see the mix of base types: large circular for squads and heavy weapons, square for command, small circle for section leaders and special troops like this Forward Observer.

Romanian R.35 tanks.

Two Russian anti-tank guns and crews.

Russian T-26 (love those early war tank designs!).

Some of the Soviet forces; you can see the eclectic mix of Odessa's defenders: naval infantry, Red Army, dismounted cossacks...
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