Sunday, August 23, 2015

Havoc Game 3: Battle for the Temple - Part 1

  (Part 1 can be found here.)

Turn 2
Momentum: Amazons

The Amazons spend a Havoc token to retain momentum heading into Turn 2.  

Phase 1 - The damned archers and their volley fire are performing excellent area denial tactics.  Before the game started, I had planned to rush my skirmishers, cavalry and a behomoth around in a wide flanking maneuver.  The archers put paid to that plan in turn 1 and my only idea now is to let the Amazons advance on our side of the temple so that the Ballistae can act in support.  The skirmishers will hide for a turn and then re-emerge, hopefully catching some of the approaching Amazon light cavalry in the flank.  The first part of that plan works -- the archers volley fire on the turtling 1st Legion and there are no casualties.  But it's still a psychological effect -- I really want to get rid of those archers and I can't see how!  

Charge of the Knight Furioso!
Over on the Roman left flank, the purple winged Nefario Daggarius, Knight Furioso, flies over the woods and charges 2nd Legion in the flank and in Phase 2 the chariot joins in (luckily causing no Impact Hit casualties!).
Amazon Chariot charge against 1st Legion

Amazons advance under the cover of arrow fire
On the Roman right, the ballista manages a kill on the only Amazon cavalry figure that can be seen -- but this has the unanticipated benefit of splitting the unit in half, forcing the Amazons to spend a move to get the unit back into cohesion.  

At first I was thrilled to cause a ballista casualty, but then I realized it was slowing the Amazons down when I really wanted to get into grips with them (so to speak) with my behemoth.  This desire is made more urgent when the behemoth and Roman cavalry have to withstand another round of volley fire (which is tense, I tell you!) even though no casualties were caused (really bad luck here for the Amazon player).  

In the assault phase, any disappointment the Amazon player may have felt about the archer's performance was quickly dashed away as the Roman 2nd Legion suffered 50% casualties under attacks by Amazon skirmishers, cavalry, heavy chariot and the Knight Furioso. 

The Roman player (me) has not yet realized exactly how badly the game is going for him.


A tie on the momentum roll results in the first Cut Scene of the game.  Groan!  This is going to go badly for the Romans as the Amazon Named are perfectly poised to take advantage and the Roman Named are...not. 

Momentum is retained from the previous turned, so the Amazons move first and sure enough, Knight Furioso Daggarius starts the turns off by killing an elephant!  Single-handed!  And after the Roman Magus enhanced the elephant's already high armor roll with 2 Intervention tokens.  As an after-thought, she then flies across the board, off-handedly sends a Roman demon back to the hell it came from and then flutters safely to ground behind cover, completely untouchable.  Ouch!  (And OMG that was cool!)

On the Roman side, the Musician "sounds the maneuver."  Captain Claudius has finally figured out just how bad a shape his force is in and seizes on a desperate plan to seize the day.  He charges against Kezra Fairwind, the Fencer, hoping to bring her down with an Impact Hit.  He fails utterly and realizes the Fencer will cut him to ribbons if he attacks alone. So, spending his last Havoc token, he charges the chariot from behind...and fails utterly to kill it, too.  Sigh.  

Still under "sound the manuever" the ballista hits (seriously, this is way out of character for me with guess weapons) and kills an Amazon Spearwoman and scares an archer almost 5 feet away.  And finally the standard bearer joins 3rd Legion.

(Note:  We desperately need a cheat sheet for what you can spend Havoc tokens on during a cut scene)

Turn 3
Momentum: Amazons

The Amazons spend a Havoc token to retain momentum heading into Turn 3.  Sound familiar?  While the Roman luck with the ballista has been wonderful, it's been balanced by losing every momentum roll so far.  And after the disastrous cut-scene the Romans just don't have the Havoc tokens to spare.  

Sands are stained with the blood of Romans and Demons
On the Roman right, the Amazon berserkers charge into 9th Legion.  In the assault phase, this turns into an absolute massacre. 

War can do strange things to a man...
And Father Benedict seems to have lost his mind.  He bathes in elephant's blood to recharge his infernal powers.  (This time choosing augment instead of intervention tokens).

The archers are actually scared away by the ballista and with the Amazon advance on the left flank they don't have very many targets left anyway.  They start relocating toward the right flank.  

Last moments of the Amazon chariot
On the left...well, the less said the better.  A brief bit of inspiration by Captain Claudius kills off the Amazon chariot, but he only has two men remaining from 1st Legion.  2nd Legion and the last elephant have moved to a blocking position to protect him, but the Amazon behemoth is in position to charge next turn along with all of the Amazon Named.  

2nd Legion prepare to sell their lives dearly

Captain Claudius took one last desperate look around, the screams of his men echoing in his ears, and ordered the Musician to "sound the retreat".  



Ouch!  The Roman invasion was well and truly squelched.  Squelched like the sound of Roman sandals wading through elephant blood.  From turn 1 when the Amazon archer volley decimated the ballista crew and command squad, the Romans were left reacting instead of acting.  

There were a lot of new elements in this battle, despite our two previous games.  I don't feel like I used the demon skirmishers to their full potential -- but I'm also really not sure how to use them.  No, that's not true -- on further reflection, I needed to have them declaring combined assault maneuvers every turn.  I let them get split up and defeated piece-meal.  

My one bit of tactical brilliance came late in the game, when I had 2nd Legion split into a line with every model 1 inch from the next.  The Amazons weren't going to get through there.  The Romans would die, but it would give Captain Claudius time to regroup a little.  It wasn't much, but if the game had gone on (and we did end up playing one more turn the next day -- see below) then that delaying action would have been critical.

I'll admit that this game caused quite a conversation in our household.  Despite the Amazon's winning, my wife wasn't happy because it seemed like the game basically fell to whoever could keep momentum the longest. 

The player with momentum has two huge advantages:  1 - she moves first so can dictate (to some degree) which match-ups will take place during the Assault phase.  And 2 - she attacks first in the assault phase. 

It's that second part that we are particularly having problems with.  Defending against an attack has proven nearly impossible except for Swords and Shields who take the Total Defense mode.   Our declaration of melee attacks, which we once thought exciting, goes much faster as the momentum player declares "everything in attack" and the defending player responds "everything in defense".  Occasionally in this game I declared a single die or two in attack just for fun -- but the figures never survived the attack to respond so it seemed quite pointless. And while The Swing, where the non-momentum player gets to move units out of close combat, is a key part of Havoc -- I simply very rarely had any survivors to use it with.

So my wife posed the question -- does whoever have momentum win?

To test this theory, we actually played one more turn of this game on the next night and gave the Romans Momentum.  And the Romans then proceeded to annihilate the Amazons.  The game totally flipped.  So does that mean we're right?   It will take more games to find out.  We aren't giving up -- the next game is planned -- but it's making us think.  I'm hoping that we figure out how to counter the Momentum Advantage.

Amazons triumphant!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Havoc Game 3: Battle for the Temple - Part 1

Having whet our swords on two smaller games, my wife and I decided to have a blow-out, 2000 point game of Havoc with all the bells and whistles.  She took her standard Amazons and I took the Romans -- with the addition of a Roman cleric who had been trafficking with infernal powers and had summoned a demon behemoth and a Horde of smaller demons.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Havoc Battle #2 - Cavalry and Behmoths

We played our second "learning" game of Havoc last night.  In game one we learned the basics of using infantry and ranged combat, so this game concentrated on learning the rules for cavalry and magic.  Just for fun, I threw a behemoth into the mix - this lovely troll from the D&D pre-paints range: 
Nomads with Behemoth in tow

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Havoc First Battle

First Play of Havoc - brilliantly tactical

My wife and I played our first game of Havoc today.  It's really a shame that Brent Spivey went to such pains to write such an elegant game and yet there's very little talk about it.  And that's the word that kept coming back to me as we played - elegant.   It absolutely deserved the Origins Award it received.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Thoughts on Havoc

So for my fantasy games, I'm going to need a fantasy ruleset.  I was tempted to go Oldhammer but then I started reading about this game called Havoc by Brent Spivey.  So I decided to give it a try...and am I glad I did!  Here's an excerpt about the experience from a letter to a friend: