I'd been up since Oh-Christ-Hundred Hours with a sick child; my brain was not functioning. My opponent - a fellow teacher and upstanding member of the community - was so hungover that for first fifteen minutes of the session he simply sat there soaking up lucozade and grunting.
|Here he is, bravely trying to look sober and awake.|
The stage was set for an epic clash of medieval warriors!
(trans. two barely coherent blokes stumbling round a table at 9am)
As this was our first test game, both retinues were exactly the same; men at Arms, Foot serjeants and Archers at 14pts. Leader qualities were rolled for and my opponent picked the Nevilles and I got the Percys. This meant that his leader was Sir Stig, which would come to be an issue.
The Battle of Much Frottage
"Bertrand!" called Sir Percy Percy to his trusty squire.
"Yes, my Lord?" the boy replied, scampering up.
"Yonder lies the lands of our enemy, but it seems he has sent a force to protect that village. Canst thou seest the device of the Knight who stands against me?"
the boy squinted into the morning sun. "Aye, my Lord. That I can."
"Then, pray tell, who is my victim this day?"
"Some sayest that he sucketh the moisture from ducks, and that he thinks the Middle Ages are what happens when you turn forty, Lord; all I know is... he is called Sir Stig."
|The Village of Much Frottage had no idea what was about to descend upon it.|
For our first go we decided to simply have a go at the Bloodbath scenario. As you can see, deployment was relatively simple.
Turn one; my leader, Sir Percy Percy, ordered his archers to advance. They shuffled their feet and made a point of looking in the other direction. That was my turn over. Sir Stig ordered his Serjeants to advance. They looked at my archers and refused. Obviously, there was some sort of Mexican Standoff in Much Frottage.
The Foot Serjeants advance, into a withering hail of longbow fire from my archers. One of his men is killed.
|"Lacastrians, Sir! Fousands of 'em!"|
They advance again, into another storm of arrows:
Another few fall, but not enough to make the difference as battle is joined!
Rather predictably, the archers are hammered and retreat off the table. The Neville archers are still somewhere on the other side of the field, breathing in through their teeth and improvising on the theme of "oooh, nasty".
Meanwhile, on the east side of the village, my foot Serjeants have stopped to pick some daisies or something. My Men at Arms however, sneak around the side of the cottage, only to discover that Sir Stig himself is also indulging in a spot of cottaging. At this point, Sir Percy Percy rashly issues a challenge.
This is rash on two counts; firstly, before the battle, Sir Stig issued the boast that he would kill Sir Percy in a duel; and secondly, Sir Stig rolled the Braveheart leadership quality. Thirdly, incidentally, Sir Stig is the coolest looking miniature on the field.
|"Hi there. Loved you in Top Gear."|
The two knights meet in the thick mud of the ploughed field and a deadly contest of skill begins as a flurry of feints, parry pas four and delicate-- nah, not really. Sir Percy gets disemboweled in short order.
|It's the nonchalance that marks out the true craftsman.|
At this point, the Nevilles had picked up a pretty unassailable lead in Glory points. Although my retinue passed the courage test caused by the death of their leader, I was happy to call that one a loss so we could try again with a random scenario. We shuffled the scenery around a little, and got set.
"Right, let's get those swine!" Sir Hugh cried. "Errr, sir...?" One of the serjeants shuffled his feet nervously. "Thing is, guv.. well, me and some of the lad, we's related to them lads over there and we's not that comfortable wiv you callin' 'em pigses."
"No..." Sir Hugh sighed and shaded his eyes with his hands. The Peasant's Revolt had a lot to answer for, he reflected. "I mean it literally. We're going to go and set fire to their pigs."
"Oh, right." There was a pause. Here it comes, thought Sir Hugh. "I'm not entirely convinced some of the lads ain't related to the pigses, Sir."
This time the rolls placed me in the role of attacker and gave us the Sausages and Mustard scenario; so four pigs were placed in the central field and Sir Hugh Percy Percy - brother to the unfortunate Sir Percy Percy - bravely sallied forth to burn some pigs.
|This is the village of Porking on the Wold. Stop making your own jokes up at the back.|
Now, anyone who cares to zoom in on that picture will spot the mistake that the defenders made in deployment.
Let's have a closer look:
|Troops who need to sit and wait for people to come to them... yes, let's give em pointy sticks.|
|Doesn't he look happy?|
- our Men At Arms came within sight of each other on the north side of Porking on the Wold. Proving that the AA definition of insanity is pretty much spot on, I issued another challenge:
Which went about as well as the last one:
|That's pretty much dismemberment, whichever way you read those results.|
|That little paint pot is a pig. It's in disguise.|
My Foot Serjeants are just there around the back of the cottage, ready to leap into action but by this point my opponent had a dentist appointment and I was falling asleep on the table so we called it a draw. Ish.
The undisputed Man of the Match was, of course, Sir Stig.
The undisputed Man of the Match was, of course, Sir Stig.
|Man of the Match. Held by hungover man of the match.|
It's pretty much as good as everyone says it is. The activation rule adds a nice bit of friction to turns and requires you to think about the priority of your actions. It runs very fast and creates wonderful opportunities for storytelling. It will work very well with the kids at school - if the two of us with our cognitive impairments today were able to work it, 11 year-olds will have no problem.
Tomorrow - the start of an X-Wing Campaign!