Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Book of War: Wrath of the Magden

 Andy dropped by for some more fantasy wargaming with a mighty force of LOTR ORCs  Book of War Magden. We gave 1500 points a go as this is meant to give a good amount of troops and the aim was to see if we could be done in a reasonable sub - 3 hour timeframe. This points level got me four squares of 24 Pikemen, a unit of eight Men at Arms, a Mortar, some cross bow and some hand-gunners, four Mercenary Ogres with Blunderbus, and a tough unit of fully armoured infantry with great-hammers. I also got a few heroes: A Count Palantine, a Mage (the Cardinal), an artilliarist and a Priest of War (which I totally forgot to use). Andy seemed to have a good amount of troops as well: two units of archers, two ballistae, about four-five blocks of impetuous Magden warbands and lets not forget two huge Mountain trolls. He took less heroes but did take the FreyKhan (the equivalent to my Count) to lead them. How well did the playtest go?

Handily, my trial period isn't up so I can tell you in comic form! My attack divided itself into two columns on either side of a stream, that bisected the battlefield. The idea was that the main force of Imperial Pike, Men at Arms, and not to mention the Count, Cardinal, and retainers, would breakthrough on that flank. Meanwhile, my Ogres were to secure the ruins in the centre, the Heavy Infantry were the reserve, and the Mercenary Pike was to hold the other flank. This seemed like a reasonable approach until I got my head around the Magden numbers, backed by some pretty deadly war-machines and of course their 'secret weapon'. The approach of two giant trolls was hardly a secret for too long, though. One appeared at either corner of Andy's board edge and began to lumber forward.

 Luckily for the plan, I am allowed to put a few orders on the Ogres to hurry them into the central ruins and I also snatch the ruins to anchor my left flank. Andy was not inclined to let me hold the centre though and began to throw charge, after charge, after charge into the teeth and hand-cannon fire of the waiting Ogres. While they held out, I refused the right flank in order to try and whittle down that troll as it advanced. Having taken the ruins on the right, I pretty much set myself up to lose my crossbow men to a spirited charge by some of Andy's blood-thirsty Magden, swinging great-weapons, scattering rubble and driving my men fleeing before them. So I decided to have the Cardinal work on a magical solution to that problem. It turns out that many of the spells of Wrath, his chosen magical speciality, were short-range in nature. However, there is one to create a wall of fire. I needed 10 successful casting rolls, I got 9. So would have to complete the casting next turn

The spell was impressive looking (and thankfully they failed their will roll to negate it outright) but only killed a few Magden and barely singed the troll. Since the troll was right astride the wall, he didn't have any problem coming toward me as this took him away from the flames. Probably a better idea to use it as, you know, a WALL. Next time. Luckily the Magden just couldn't shift those Ogres, who passed their command rolls to hold their position each and every time.
 Since I wasn't smart enough to use my magic to ward off the troll, I got to experience a rampaging specimen first hand. It crushed 16 put of 24 pikemen in a single round of combat. Ouch. Across the battlefield, realisation dawn on the clumps of human soldiery, all huddled and cold, that this could be them if they weren't careful. I observed from this point that no one seemed to want to pass their command rolls to move closer to the Dread inducing beats. Coincidence? There are no coincidences... While the troll on the left was still picking its teeth with a broken pike, I was reduced to having may hand-gunners on the right give faltering volleys into the stamping troll while I hurried over the one reliable unit I had in the area. I hope the Ogres can do it on their own because I just stole their reserve...
 The left was slowly but surely folding though. After claiming the high-ground, Magden warriors poured down the slope and finished of a pike block. Meanwhile, the other block of Imperial Pike just managed to throw back another Magden war band, reeling in disarray. At this point we noted a design flaw: Pike were really good in one direction but now I had to somehow fight on two. Ruh Roh. Quick, send in the Cavalry reserve! Ok, sometimes you fail that 50/50 roll, another order then. No? Ok. Another. Oh come one. I think the right flank has been turned. Happily, despite a number of casualties, the Heavy Infantry of Bravast managed to score some solid wounds on the other mountain troll. Given a turn or two I could finish it off with gun-fire. All I needed to do was keep that unit of nearby Caledan Pike steady enough to hold the enemy beast-Riders and other warbands off me for long enough.
In the end, we called it a night and didn't get to see how it all played out. I suspect what would have happened was the left flank would have folded entirely as I hadn't even started on killing that other Troll. Maybe my Heroes would have been enough but the Magden had been killing more overall and the Palantine forces are far from their home-bases so lets chalk this up as a win to Andy as the camera 'fades out'.

Thanks for helping me test out the game Andy. I think we have moved from 'Alpha' to 'Beta' Testing now. I had heaps of fun and the battle looked exactly how I wanted in terms of the amount of figures and the mix of units. So I think the points system is in about the right ball-park. We also tried a system where Impetuous units (ie 2/3 of Andy's army) had to be assigned one order each before the rest of his units. I think the idea works sort-off fine but the impact was that Andy's didn't really have much opportunity to make choices and had a much smaller pool of 'spare orders to pool at key points. the answer may be just to have options for less impetuous troops? We'll see.

Magic seemed to work as intended too. I got some flashy spells but these took multiple turns to cast and weren't overwhelming (but wait until I bring an Arch-mage with Circle four spells...) Giving all units innate rolls to negate helped a lot there. What didn't work was us not finishing the game. Next time we will do a more traditional deployment where each general dices off, the loser deploys their whole army first, and both sides deploy up to 1' in. That will shorten things by about two turns and make this more like War of the Ring in terms of timeframe. Anyway, lots of fun so far and the proposed changes should make it better.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Looks very cool guys!
    I always appreciate it when my fellow Magden refuse to bow down to Imperialist aggression any longer!
    Blood! Blood for the blood God!