Sunday, 5 January 2014

Sunday Gaming

So, another week over, another Sunday full of toy soldiers smashing each other to bits via complex interactions between dice, tape measures and rulebooks. Today's game of the day was FoG, pitting my "slowly gaining some colour" Spartans against Will's "Look, he finally painted the camp" Romans.

Terrain set up proved to be terrible for me, with two enclosed fields (Rough) and an open field (Uneven) covering most of my deployment area.

This being rather a bad sign for my predominantly Heavy Foot (terrain intensely-disliking) army, I tried to make the best of a bad situation with a somewhat divided deployment.

My camp sat in a handy enclosed field, protected by the ever-present and mostly useless mob of Helots. Javelinmen were then deployed to screen my advance. Will's Velites were deployed to face off against my Javelinmen. The Thracians (Medium foot, and thus lovers of terrain) were placed in the second enclosed field, with my allied Phokian Hoplites placed on their right flank, in clear terrain.

Will matched this by placing his own medium foot opposite mine, and his light horse (fast moving skirmishers) on my right flank, forcing me to put something there to block them doing an end run to sack my camp. Thus a unit of Perioikoi magically sprung up among the corn rows. In the center the first block of Spartans went down. Will then placed his Legionnaires opposite my Spartans. The second unit of Spartans went down next to the first, and the second unit of Perioikoi on the left flank. Will's third unit of Legionnaires went slightly towards my left flank, while his cavalry were deployed in the rear, possibly waiting on a breakthrough by a stronger unit.

Having lost pre-battle initiative, I was forced to move first. Thus, pretty much everything moved. The Perioikoi on the left, the Spartan battle line (a collection of 2 or more battlegroups led by a commander) in the center, and the Phokian Hoplites on the right all performed double moves, an ability granted by them having commanders present in their battlegroups/battleline.

Everything else except the Helots moved forwards, the Javelinmen getting right up in the Velites faces. Being close is important, as Javelins only have a range of 2".

 What followed was the most impressively effective shooting I have seen from Javelins. Ever. With each Javelinmen battlegroup Disrupting the cohesion of each Velite battlegroup it was facing off against. The smaller Javelinmen battlegroup also managed to cause a casualty (as will rolled a 1 for his Death Check, anything higher would have saved).

Will also shot back with his Velites (who have javelins), but failed to cause enough hits to do any damage. This is one of the cool little features of FoG. When you shoot, both sides shoot, no matter who's turn it is.

Will's first movement phase was much like mine, with everything pressing forward. His Velites however, concerned with the number of flying pointy sticks heading their way, decided to leg it and save their strength for later, when hopefully my forces would be rather more battered.

His light horse turned to the right, and headed straight for the edge, going for an outflanking run around my Disordered (unhappy because they're stuck in terrain) Perioikoi.

As there was only ineffective shooting from me, and no combats to be fought, it passed back to my turn. Once again, everything that could advanced, barring the Javelinmen on the left flank, who had no desire to be in the middle of a pointy stick vs pointy sword battle.

On the right flank, much the same thing was going on. The Perioikoi moved just far enough to extricate themselves from the field, while the Thracians moved only enough to stay inside the field.
 Will's second turn saw a lot of charges declared. Three battlegroups of Legionnaires hit home against two battlegroups of Spartans. Commanders were committed on both sides, upgrading the abilities of the units they were in.
 Here Will's medium foot declared a charge against my Javelinmen. However, as Skirmishers, Javelinmen are able to Evade a charge, falling back rapidly through nearby friendly battlegroups if necessary. When this happens both sides roll a D6 to see if they get to add or subtract distance from their charge/evade.

As my Javelinmen successfully evaded, Will's medium foot crashed into my Thracian battlegroup.
 In the ensuing impact Phase buckets of dice were rolled, with Will at a '+' PoA (Point of Advantage) for every Battlegroup. This meant he needed 4's to hit, while I needed 5's or better. Both of us were upgraded to Elite status by our commanders (allowing us to re-roll 1's and 2's).

The final result was an overall draw between the Spartans and the Legionnaires, with a large number of Death Checks all around. Will failed 1 roll. On a 1. Needing a 2+ to save.
Then we have this load of muppets. Eight dice each. 2 Hits each. A perfect draw, and no death checks. so much for those plans.

Things start to get interesting in the Melee phase of Will's turn. Combat in FoG is divided into three distinct phases: Impact, Shooting, and Melee. Impact depicts the ferocious charge, shooting represents the hurling, firing, or otherwise launching of sharpened sticks towards unengaged enemies, and Melee represents the swirl of close combat.

In this combat I now have an advantage, because my Offensive Spear ability cancels the Legionnaire's Skilled Sword ability provided my battlegroups are not Disrupted/Disordered in any way.

Our armour level is equal, meaning no one gets a PoA for that. That leaves me on a '+' PoA. Many dice are rolled, hits are inflicted, and Will once again passes all his Cohesion tests. The rolls 1's and 2's for his Death Checks. I start to see a trend forming.

Now the ineptitude of our medium foot comes to the fore. Will has a '+' here, his Offensive Spear ability cancelling my Sword ability. Despite this, we both manage to get 4 hits.

And because the terrible rolling continues, we both lose a base in the ensuing Death Check.
 In my Impact phase I declare a charge with the Phokians against Will's Cavalry. I know from past experience that horses do not like large men with pointy sticks running at them.
 On the left flank my Perioikoi battlegroup declares a charge against the end battlegroup of Legionnaires. We decided to conform in Impact, due to it not being a legal Flank Charge.

In the end, nothing happens, with us both causing 1 hit on 2 dice.
Will's cavalry are onto my tricks though, the riders managing to cut down a base of Hoplites, but not managing to disrupt them.

The plan is not working quite as expected.
 In the ensuing Melee phase, however, the Hoplites wave their pointy sticks effectively enough to break up the cavalry's formation to some degree, dropping the to Disrupted.
 The carnage in the center continues, with the central Legionnaire battlegroup taking a severe pounding and losing another base.

The combat between the muppets (medium foot) in the middle leads me to question, what, exactly, both battlegroups are doing. And also if they're on the same payroll.
 Will's turn just moves directly to the melee phase. Subtlety and manoeuvre have their place, but it's not here.

Instead, my Spartans continue to wail on the Legionnaires, and they attempt to to the same to me. It doesn't quite go to plan for Will. (The yellow dice are reminders of number of hits, the black dice are Cohesion Tests, all passed, in fact.)

And then Will's old nemesis, the Death Check, betrays him once more. The right end takes a hit.
 The left end takes a hit.
The center takes a hit. As this reduced the battlegroup to 2 bases it Auto-Breaks, being reduced to ineffective rabble at that point. Due to a friendly battlegroup breaking within 3" of them, both of the other battlegroups have to take a Cohesion Test for seeing this.

The left hand group of Legionnaires fail their test, wondering if they've prayed to the correct gods fro victory on this day.
 Will's Cavalry take a pounding, losing one of their number (one was lost earlier but I wasn't tracking that fight as closely as the carnage in the center).

They also get forced down another grade on the cohesion ladder, dropping to Fragmented. Now they're losing half their dice and suffering a huge -2 penalty to future Cohesion Tests.

In the middle, Will's muppets finally get the better of mine, forcing them down not one, but two grades. Straight from Steady to Fragged. It's not looking good for these guys as they suffer another casualty.

 My turn also proceeds directly to the Melee phase. I lost track of the number of turns some time ago. At any rate, things seem to be going well for me at this point. I've caused 3 AP (Broke a Battlegroup) to Will's 1 (Fragged a Battlegroup).

It gets better when the combined efforts of my Spartans an Perioikoi on the left flank force a very difficult Death Check on the already battere Legionnaire battlegroup. Will rolls a 1, and another battlegroup breaks.

At the other end of the same battleline, the Spartans with my commander engaged (I assume it's probably Leonidas at this point) kill off another base of Legionnaires, and drop them to Disrupted.
Having Broken their foe, the Spartans and Perioikoi pursue, moving at a respectable pace.
 In the following turn a familiar story plays out. The final Legionnaire battlegroup autobreaks after taking six hits (which causes an automatic death). I'm now up to 6 AP. I'm also feeling a little bad for Will by now.

But not that much. He did this to me the last time we played FoG. (It really was just as Lop-sided)
 By some miracle, my Thracian muppets manage to win a combat. While Fragmented. At a '-' PoA. Adding insult to injury will fails the Cohesion test for his medium foot.
 The final battle is here. I only get three hits, but against none in reply three is as good as thirty. Will rolls his Cohesion Test, and fails by 1 point.

I've now caused 8 AP of damage to Will's army, breaking their will to fight further, and thus, they rout. The Spartans have won the day with a nearly bloodless victory. (Well for them. Plenty of Romans lost terminal amounts of blood.)

We shake hands, tidy up, and move on to the next game. I'm sure a rematch is in order here though. A closer game would be a lot more fun.

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