Friday, 20 March 2015

Warband: Hill Dwarves vs Goblins

Tonight we took to the field with a game of Warband, and the battle was joined between a warband of Hill Dwarves (me) and a warband of goblins (my opponent, Graeme).  We've played lots of playtest battles over the years, but this is the first game 'in anger' so to speak.  Both Graeme and I are still building 'proper' armies, so we dug out the playtest figures for another bash.

Hill Dwarves
General - Exceptional
Spell-crafter - Average
2x Archers (with shieldwall)
1x Archers
3x Warriors
1x Honour guards

Chieftain - Exceptional
Shaman - Good
5x Warriors (with Fierce)
2x Wolf riders (with Skirmish)
1x Scouts
1x Giants

My battle plan was based around a flanking maneouvre by some warrior units, supported by the magic user, while holding a line with the archers.  I wanted a flank filled with hills to give my hill walking spells an advantage to exploit.

Graeme's plan was to bring his shaman up behind a swarm of fierce troops, to use his vicious spells to devastate my army on mass.

We played a pitched battle (not a scenario).  The terrain fell poorly for me, with the much needed hills on the goblin side.  

My dwarves deployed opposite the hills to try to enact the plan in any case.  Graeme's goblins deployed centrally, looking to push through the valley into my force.

The small, powerful hill dwarf army stares across at the howling goblins.

The goblins howled and slavered at the chance to get to grips with the short, fat, bearded ones.

And so the battle opened with the lines closing, and the dwarven archers opened proceedings by immediately routing a unit of goblins!

I manged to get two archer units shooting at one goblin warriors unit and inflicted 4 hits, none of which were removed by the protection rolls!


Somewhat shocked by this, the goblins panicked and disordered.  Their lines failed to advance as the local leaders knocked heads together to settle the endless disputes that erupted regarding the wisdom of advancing into the wall of dwarf archery.

The goblin motivation dice rolls then went into meltdown, and Graeme managed to fail dice rolls including the CP dice added in for a good couple of turns.  It didn't help that he tried a few group moves.  these are risky as you can't add CP to the roll.

The dwarves took the initiative, pushed their archers forwards, and sent out the intended flanking move by the warriors.

My Motivation tests were pretty average and i had to use CP to get the flank forwards.  It didn't help that my magic user wasn't keeping up his end of the bargain and kept generating too few MPs to give the flank warriors the needed 'hill walkers' special ability.  The plan wasn't coming together.  

The dwarf archers formed a kill zone and poured more arrows into the goblins, who still wavered in disarray.  Even their Chieftain's yelling and bawling couldn't get the troops moving.

The goblins started to pay for this, as the dwarves inflicted hits on their lines, including the chieftain himself, who took a real pounding.

Motivation fails were starting to tell, and gave my archers time to inflict hits.  As I stood back though, this would give Graeme time to rally any routed units, and he always kept enough CP back to rally his general if needed.  Sound tactics.


With the centre held well, the dwarves pushed their warriors up into the hills to try to outflank the goblins.

The warriors stormed over the hill and engaged the goblin scouts on the flank.

My motivation and magic point problems told here, and i was forced to attack piecemeal.

Meanwhile, disgusted by the goblins squabbling intertia, the giants lumbered forwards on their own.  Anticipating this move, the hill dwarves had deployed their Honour Guards on the northern flank of the warband, and these stout fellows stood ready, and fearless, in the face of the thundering horrors.

Inspired by the giant's advance, the rest of the goblin horde finally got their act together and started to advance.  

Graeme's lamentable series of poor Motivation dice finally broke and he got his little green chaps moving.  I think it helped that he switched away from attempting group moves into motivating individual units.  A group move can't be boosted by command points so its a risk.

Meanwhile back on the southern hills, things began to turn in the goblins favour.  The dwarves advance stalled, and the goblin counter attack began to bite.


My disjointed attack meant that the goblins were able to outflank my isolated units.  The combat advantages were telling, and my units were outside of command range so i couldn't help them with command points.  Predicatble outcome really...

Cut off from their commander (and his precious command points), the dwarves were outflanks and routed.  This left the spell-crafter exposed and he was charged and tied up in melee, critically restricting his spell casting.

And it was MUCH needed as the goblin shaman finally moved up to get into range of a combination of devastating spells.

He opened proceedings with a horrific Consuming Rage spell.  Graeme decided to burn out his shaman to maximise its effect, and although the Shaman took a bunch of hits he survived.  It was worth it though, as much of the dwarf warband took 3 hits each!  Ouch!!  The dwarf general looked on at the raking magic, and screamed, 'someone kill that shaman, and fast!'

The dwarf spell caster can cast Anvil of Fate which reduces the goblin shaman's magic points.  This became vital, but tied up in melee a magic-user can't cast spells at all.  

Consuming Rage is potentially devastating and is a great spell for the Goblins.  In this case, Graeme chose to max out the spell, inflicting 3 Hits on all enemy units within 4BW, but also inflicting 4 Hits on his Shaman!  He had to use Command Points to rally the Shaman after that, and the dwarves high Protection helped stave off much of the damage - but not all of it.

Here's where the dwarves lack of mobitlity, and my defensive stance caused problems.  Had i had a unit within 1BW of the Goblin shaman, he would have been destroyed by his own spell (unable to rally).

Goodness that spell hurt!  However, the line held and dished out some damage of its own.

Back over to the north, the giants found themselves in a fight for survival against the honour guards and some supporting warriors.

The giants, isolated from their goblins friends so little reason to fight and showed the enemy their...ahem...heels as they ran off.  'Live to fight another day' would appear to be a popular giant saying.

With the dwarf line savaged by the Consuming Rage spell, the goblins followed this up with a Surge of Savagery, pushing their fierce units into the battered dwarves.

This mid game sequence was devastating for the dwarves.  After early motivation inertia, Graeme finally got his Goblins moving and once the Shaman got into spell range he got some good consistent Magic Point totals.

The dwarves were still reeling from the Consuming Rage damage, when the Goblin shaman cast Surge of Savagery.

This gave all the Goblins +1d6 Melee, Powerful, Impetuous, and Skirmish.  Ouch!

Not risking the Motivation fails, Graeme let the Impetous take his troops in, and accepted the hits this would inflict on his units.  It was well worth it though as the Goblins were hitting the dwarves really hard as a result.

The resulting combat saw morale collapse across the dwarf lines, but also a few Goblin units broken with exhaustion from the magic spell!

Pretty sure those dwarf archers are on a sticky wicket...


The goblins' numbers, fierceness, and magic turned the tide and the dwarves that remained fell back to rally around the general.

The dwarf morale was about to collapse but a last desperate hope remained.  Their general charged out to meet the goblin chieftain in personal combat.

The attack failed, and the goblins mopped up what was left of the dwaves, winning a solid victory!

All told a good, fun game.  The action switched across the battle front and the victory hung in the balance for most of the game.  Overall, Graeme's ability to rally his routed troops, while denying me the chance to rally mine was a key part of his victory, along with inspired generalship of course!

I learned - if the goblins bring a shaman, kill it immediately.

Graeme learned - he wanted an undead warband, but he had such fun with the goblins he's rethinking his choice!

The game attracted a bit of attention at the club, and in particular many players were inpressed by the hit markers.  I must say I am too - good job Pendraken.

Warband pdf


Post battle reports and discussion can be found here.

I've copied the text here too.

The Goblins - debrief

Well, the plan was a cunning cunning as a fox who has just been know the rest...

My army composition was the best Leader and Shaman I could take, 5 x Warriors (all fierce), 2 x Wolf Riders (Skirmishers), 1 x Scout (Skirmisher) and 1 x Giant. The plan was, rather than pump Command Points into hits/saves, instead use them to rally broken units, keeping them on the table, thus not losing too many points. The Shaman just had to get into range, roll a 5 or 6 for his magic points, then unleash the Consuming Rage Spell to soften the enemy, before charging in, hopefully with the Surge of Savagery spell if I could roll the points at the right time (which I did).

It seemed to work pretty well, I burned out my Shaman with the CR spell, but kept him on the table using command points. I used the Giants to distract the opponent and force him to commit troops, or ignore the threat. He committed, and the giants broke, but again I was able to rally him. The 6+2 command points meant i was able to rally broken units and keep them on the table once or twice a turn.

When the Surge spell was cast, I managed to get all bar two units into combat and used the command points to target weakened units, my Shaman adding to the combats by positioning himself on a hill, thus shooting over everyone to do maximum damage where possible.

It was a different take on the army, where I deliberately didn't take any shooters (though I forgot that scouts could shoot during the game) as they would be outshot by the dwarves, and using the Commander in a different way, away from the front line (thoughpart of that wasn't choice, he had to retreat when shot at), but primarily to rally was a change from the games I have tried in the past. A successful formula, but one I may not get away with again as Mr. Luddite will no doubt be working out ways to counter it.

Great game, finished in two and a half hours, and tense right up to the last bound.

Hill Dwarves - debrief

I think that's a sound tactic - relying on the inherent strength of your warband's units, and using the command as a rallying point.  Very sneaky!

It did the job too!  My dwarves were far too defensive, and the plan to use shooting to try to win doesn't work.  You have to have melee units able to press on into the enemy, beat them toe-to-toe and then crucially, stay close enough to stop the opponent rallying them (or simply running the routed units down and destroying them).

My archers did a LOT of damage, but as I sat back, the goblins had an open backfield and plenty of space with an exceptional quality Chieftain to rally his routed troops back into the fight.

Whereas, the goblins did something similar with ranged magic, but followed that up by charging in with fierce backfield was shut off, and my routers cut down by pursuits...dwarves are tough, but not that tough!

Aye, great fun and wildly different tactical options available to each army.  I was beaten by better tactics!

I think i'll be investing in some gyrocopters, and hoping that my opponent doesn't have bows...

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Warband: Red Mountain Hill Dwarves

With Warband released for a while now, and my figures sat awaiting my attention, today I made a start on the first 'live' (i.e. non-playtest) army.

It's a warband of hill dwarves from the Red Mountain clan.

Here are a few 'wirk in progress' shots of the first unit - the general himself.  I'd toyed with assembling the figures on the base before painting but decided to go the traditional route and painted the little fellows on sticks.  

I then glued them onto the base in phases to make applying the basing and flock easier.

The figures clipped and cleaned.  I always end up taking a lot of lead off the figures bases.

I converted some of Pendraken's older range hill dwarfe spearment into banner bearers.  

Glued to the skicks and spray undercoated brown, they're ready for the paint.  As this stage I actually still haven't decided on a colour scheme.  Something sort of brown and white i'm thinking...

And then...the red goes on.  So i guess i'm painting them red and white now.  OK, so,  well...the 'Red Mountain Clan' is born.

The big cheese himself.  As yet unnamed king.

Figures done, the basing begins.  They go on in phases to make getting the grit and flock between the figures easier.

And finally the grass...

There's still a bit to do; four flags for a start, but the ground is broken with the first unit pretty much done.

In Warband terms, this will be an exceptional commander with the shieldwall special ability.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Ottomans vs. Catalan Company - DBA v3

For this week's game we broke out the 15mm figures for a 'big battle' using the DBA version 3 rules.

I've played the DBx rules for many years and I lament their passing from the tournament scene (replaced by the lamentable Field of Glory rules).  So I was happy get the new version of DBA on the table.  We've played a few games with them since their release and for this battle we moved out of out usual ancients armies into our later Medieval options.

For this battle the armies and terrain are provided by my good friend (and talented musician) Graeme.  Cheers mate.  We had four players at the table, so we doubled up, and I was on the Ottoman team.  

So the armies in the fight were:

Ottomans 1281-1520AD (IV/55) vs. Catalan Company 1302-1388AD (IV/60)

The Ottomans had mostly light horse, with a few cavalry elements knocking about.

The Catalans were mostly Auxilia (medium foot) with skirmisher support and a small mix of cavalry and knights.

The terrain fell on the southern flank of the battlefield, and being mostly ploughed fields it turned out to be open ground which suited the Ottomans pretty well.

The initial deployment.  The Catalans deployed in extended line with their centre held by a skirmish screen ahead of a small second line of knights and cavalry.  Both flanks were held by the almughavar medium infantry.  Opposite them, the Ottomans center and north flank deployed in line.  Not knowing if the fields would be passable, the south flank command deployed in columns for mobility.

Here the Catalan commander set up in the centre before his camp, screened by skirmishing archers.

Opposite him, behind his light horse troops, the Ottoman general surveys the coming battle.

The battle opens and to the north, the Ottoman cavalry and almughavar infantry clash early.  The Catalan general and his cavalry gallop through their retreating skirmishers.  The Ottomans advance to press their advantage.  To the south, the Ottoman light horse column around the advancing infantry, looking for flanks, and to reinforce the central attack.

The centre struggle...the Catalan general outnumbered but unafraid.

The mightly clash on the northern flank.  It could go either way...

The southern flank...dressage ensues.  Find those flanks lads...

The fight on the northern flank proceeds and neither side can develop an advantage.

In the centre, the Catalans take an early lead, punching a hole in the Ottoman first line.  But the Ottomans have a second line...

Mid game, the Catalan southern flank advances across the fields.  Their inner flank is exposed and subject to an ineffective Ottoman attack by a group of light horse.

Then the battle turns...

The Ottoman centre begins to collapse.  Cavalry are cut down by swirling light horse and then, disaster!  The Catalan general and his knights are cut down and killed.  The centre breaks and Ottoman light horse swarm into the breach,swinging out onto each flank.

Fighting on the southern flank is inconclusive...

Almughavar spearmen holding the line...

But to the north, the Catalan casualties mount and finally that flank breaks too.  A resounding win for the Ottomans!


A good game all round, and DBA v3 is an improvement over previous versions of the rules.  It removes a lot of the more fiddly aspects of the game while retaining the simple and satisfying tactical play.

It was surprising to see how resilient light horse elements were in this game, able to hold their own against solid foot, cavalry and even knights!   

Thanks again to Graeme for putting the game on.

EDIT:  Found a useful vlog review by Kurtus Brown here.  He explains a fair bit about how to play DBA v3.