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

I decided that the battle took place around a desert oasis.  Desert nomads (6 Light Cavalry) had captured a Troll in the mountains and were dragging him to be sold to the Roman prefect.  Unfortunately, they have camped overnight at an oasis claimed by the Amazon Queen -- in fact, you will see the Queen's obelisk which plainly says that camping overnight is illegal and punishable by death (also please visit the gift shop on your way out).  Too bad the nomads can't read hieroglyphic!

8 Light Cavalry
1 Behemoth

3 Light Cavalry
3 Ranged Cavalry
1 Heavy Chariot
1 Magus

Extended discussion about multiple combats follows  - skip down to the picture below if you just want the battle report:  While we set this game up to learn cavalry and magic the biggest thing we learned was about multiple combats.  How to resolve multiple combats is not clear at all in the rules, as noted in my previous post.  But I think we have finally figured out what works for us. 
Here's a generic example from a situation that came up in this game.  During the cleverly named Phase 1 and Phase 2, Blue ends up in a situation where he will be facing multiple Orange opponents in the Assault phase:
 Orange1 <> Blue  <> Orange2
Let's take a look at the case where Blue has momentum first.  If Blue were only facing Orange1, then Blue would declare his attack and defense allocations and Orange1 would do the same.  If Blue exhausts his attack dice without killing Orange1, then Orange1 would get to attack back with any dice she placed in attack.  Simple enough.
Now let's look at the multiple combats.  Blue still declares first, Orange1 and Orange2 follow.  Here's where the rules fail us -- what happens now? 
In Game 1 we played that Blue next had to allocate his attack dice against Orange1 and Orange2.  In other words, Blue would declare "I have 4 dice in attack.  I will attack Orange1 with 2 and Orange2 with 2".  That kind of worked but introduces a new step of allocating which dice go against which opponent, which was easy to forget in the heat of battle.  
This time we tried - and we think it's more in line with the intent of the rules - this process:
  1. Blue declares dice in attack and defense
  2. Orange1 and Orange2 declare dice in attack and defense
  3. Blue now declares which model he is going to attack first.  For this example, say it is Orange1. He continues to attack until attack dice are depleted, the target is eliminated OR he decides he wants to change targets to Orange2  (the rules don't say anything about this, but it seems like having the option to stop an attack and switch targets makes sense)
  4. The model Blue attacked first (let's say Orange1 for this example) - if it has not been eliminated AND has attack dice allocated, may then attack Blue
  5. 5. If Blue is not eliminated, he may now attack Orange2.  He may NOT switch back to Orange1 - that combat has been resolved.  So if Blue manages to eliminate Orange2 and still has attack dice remaining - tough!
This does break the "attack until your dice are depleted" paradigm slightly, but it preserves the "one combat is resolved completely before moving on to the next" rule.  In the absence of any official word, this is how we are going to play it.   (Note:  Further conversations with Mr. Spivey have not contradicted this, so I'm pretty sure this is correct, but I did forget to ask him about whether you could switch opponents like in step 3. )

Now - on to battle!  We set up in opposite corners.  My nomads had just yoked up the Troll and were about ready to head out when from the North East corner of the board (we played the Dawn scenario so had to decide directions - it turned out there was no missile fire into the sun during the game so it didn't come into play) arose a dust cloud signalling riders approaching.  

On the Amazon right rode the ranged cavalry, in the center were the light cavalry and the Magus (the centaur) and on the left was the Amazon chariot.  (Directions are relative to the players, so the Amazon Left is the Roman Right)

I won momentum for the first turn and decided to split my force.  I sent four riders off to the right to ride around the oasis and attack the Amazons from the rear while 4 nomads pulled the Troll forward.  The Amazons responded by creating an L shaped force - the ranged cavalry rode in front of the nomads to "cross their T" while the light cavalry and chariot prepared to charge into the Troll and his handlers.  With nothing in melee we moved on to the next round.

Left - first impact hit death.  Center top -Nomad flanking move arrives from around the oasis.  Right - Behmoth overwhelmed by cavalry and chariot.
In Phase 2, momentum changed to the Amazons.  In Phase 1, I had moved my nomads forward and spread them in a line to protect the Troll from the archers.  This worked but I hadn't anticipated the light cavalry's response which was to gang up on my rightmost nomad with 2 cavalry  while another rode to my left nomad and killed him in our first Impact Hit death.  That's his red blotch in the picture above.   

(BTW - the Impact Hit is the most elegant way I've seen to handle a cavalry charge. I love this mechanic).

On Phase 2, I sent my middle 2 nomads racing forward to engage the Amazon ranged cavalry while the Troll charged the victorious Amazon -- which unfortunately left him exposed to the Amazon chariot's charge.  Hmm.  That could be bad -- I was really afraid that I would lose the Troll Behemoth without him ever getting to engage in combat...luckily the Troll survived the impact hits through his Damage Reduction ability. Phew!

That relief was short lived.  In the ensuing combat, even though all 5 MAD dice were put in defence, the Troll fell to the combined attacks of the chariot and light cavalry.  I was forced to burn all my defence die against the chariot and even still received a glancing blow.  But when the light cavalry followed up, the Troll just had nothing left and with an attack roll Augmented by the magus, the great beast died without ever once landing a strike of his own!  Ouch!

Things were looking a little grim for the nomads at this point.  However, the force I had sent around the oasis had just arrived on the scene and this helped turn the tide.  While the Amazon chariot lumbered through a 180 degree to face the newly arrived nomads,  2 of the nomad reinforcements charged into the ongoing battle against the ranged cavalry.  The centaur Magus fell and when all was said and done a single nomad remained.  Hearing shouts behind him, he saw the nomad named Yellow Cap withstand the Impact hit of the Amazon chariot.  The sole remaining ranged cavalry was racing toward the battle.  Spurring his horse into action, he chased after her but was too late.  

Helplessly, he watched Yellow Cap in his desperate fight against the last two Amazon units.

Helplessly, he watched Yellow Cap in his desperate fight against the last two Amazon units.  

That's not a typo - the first round of battle ended in a draw. :-)   

While attacks hit and glancing blows landed on both sides, neither managed to score a kill.  Due to the Third Law he was unable to join the combat and there was no point in moving him during the cleverly named Phase 1 and Phase 2.  So after the Assault phase, we skipped ahead to the next Assault phase!  It was quite cinematic actually - his last foe vanquished, he turns to engage the enemy but his exhausted horse is running too slow, too slow...

This final Assault phase was gripping as the chariot landed two blows on Yellow Cap but his small shield held and he was able to attack back.  Wonder of wonders, he managed to kill the chariot.  This left the last Amazon figure, the ranged cavalry, to be ignominiously ridden down  in an impact hit by the nomad who had been chasing her.  

The cinema just writes itself -- clearly Yellow Cap managed to dispatch the Amazon chariot riders as the cavalry archer drew a dagger and was about to strike him down from behind -- just as his last remaining companion arrived on the scene to cut her down.  Can't you just see it?  We could!  And that's why we are really loving Havoc.  Even thought the chips were down for the nomads, the battle still came down to one final epic confrontation that let them just barely take the win.  There's a rule in Havoc called "Never say die!" -- that's the best attitude to have for the game as well!

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