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Warlord


Leech
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Last night, I ran a demo for some of my friends at the local club. I gave each of them a customised 1200 point roster (had too do that, cos we were proxying and had to make sure everyone had the right models) and a 9" sqaure to deploy in and told them to make a mess of each other.

 

The game went well, and everyone enjoyed it... so much so that it looks like the number of Warlord armies in my area is going to grow by 400%. Cool.

 

However, like with any game, there's always things which don't seem to make sense or whatever. So, here's the list of things which we, my friends and I, don't like.

 

Scope:

The first problem we had was, what scope/level of play is Warlord designed to be. The troop sizes seemed to be large enough to be boardering on regiment/unit fantasy yet the level of detail is something that denotes a skirmish game. We came to the conclusion that Warlord doesn't yet know what it's trying to be, and fails in all arenas because of this.

 

Troop sizes:

This brings me on nicely to the next issue brought to light, that the Troop sizes are somewhat large for a proper skimrish game. When you can have two or three troops running around with 10 to 12 men in them, you're getting dangerously close to squad based or regiment based sizes.... and if this is meant to be a skirmish game then some of the troop types need to be more limited. I think it'd be difficlt to have 10 guys in heavy armour with swords and shields running around, yet ten peasants with a polearm shoudn't be too hard to find.

 

Tough SA:

There were five of us in the game last night (me plus 4 players), and the post game review came up unianimous, what is the point of Tough? It's not tue toughness, because that's what Damage Tracks denote, and it's not an armour save or anything like that because it's far too weak in every case. The only use we could see for Tough was to allow the initiative deck to remain with a higher number than it should perhaps have even after an entire Troop has been wiped out, because one of them has Tough.

 

Tough certainly doesn't improve the gameplay, in our opinion. All you end up with is models which get in the way, as opposed to a dead model whom you can quite easily step over in order to get into combat, and wasted time and energy by using Loot actions to perform the coup de grace, and also having to actually roll for them in the first place.

 

I think that whatever Tough is trying to achieve is best done with other mechanics of the game, such as DV or the number of DT's a model has.

 

Pike SA:

In our past, when men fought with blocks of infantry armed with weapons, and the era we usually think about when we mention Pikemen and the like (English Civil War era is a good example), the pike played a specialised roll on the battlefield.

 

In offensive terms, the pike was about as useless as a wet kipper. A 20 foot long stick isn't really a weapon which can be weilded in close combat. However, what the pike does do is make cavalry go elsewhere. Pikes were the epitome of defensive weapons, making cavalry go elsewhere because even against cannons they stand a chance... against pikemen, they're dogfood and glue.

 

The first issue with the Pike SA, based upon how it was used, is that firstly, you couldn't have small numbers of them. Five pikes was a joke, twenty pikes was a cavalryman's nightmare. And since this is supposed to be skirmish, pikes really shoudn't be playing a part as it's likely an entire Warlord army won'tbe enough men to make a single unit of pikemen. But something is needed for countering the Lanse SA, and pikes were designed for that. So Pike SA exists. Fine.

 

The next thing is how it's implemented. If I've got a 20 foot long stick and I'm waving it at your horsies, they're gonna rear up and not charge (the fact the rider should know better is irrelevant here). This means, the Defensive Strike should come before the offnsive ones because that's what happens....... a pike kills or makes a horse rear off from the charge and those lucky (hehehe) enough to make it in manage to attack the front rank of the block of 80 pikemen. So, defensive strike first and any cavalrymen alive after the defensive strike then get to attack the front rank.

 

But the front rank wasn't pikemen.... certainly not in the elite Swiss Infantry they weren't. Because the Pike is a 20 fot long stick, once you pass the tip, the infantryman (and cavalryman, if he's survived the tips) has nothing to fear from pikemen (they can't carry any other weapons etc), and so they'd get cut down. What the Swiss Infantry did was to put what in Warlord would be HEavy Infantry in the front rank and then have three or four ranks of pikemen behind them. So if anyone manages to get in past the tips of the pikes (which is possible, and perhaps even likely) the offending troops still have to deal with a trained swordsman with a reasonable amount of armour (cos you can bet a pikeman never wore any armour). The Swiss Infantry were the elite of the era..... and it became a de facto standard for pikemen after that. So, pike should be able to do their work even if they're in valid base to base contact with a model that gets charged by a model with Lance, say in the same way as Polearm gets to support from behind, so pike should get to kill Cavalry before they attack the guys, but from behind the front rank of infantry etc.

 

Polearm SA:

This one we liked quite a lot, but we still came to the realisation that it was better to not charge the polearmed guy (I'll call them Halberdiers, cos it sounds better and is easier to spell :o)) into the side of someone because their low DV makes them an easy(er) kill than the warrior or heavy infantryman in there.

 

So, after some thought, we came up with this modification to the Polearm SA: polearm allows a model to support a close combat from behind the guy in front of him provided there exists a valid base to base contact (exactly like now). But also, the Halberdier gets to attack from a corner to corner base to base contact. Afterall, a polearm is a sword/axe with a 6 to 7 foot handle :o)

 

Defensive Strikes and Support:

While we appreciated the fact Warlord doesn't have a 'we both attack in my turn, then both in your turn until the combat is won' combat system, and the Defensive Strike is the concession to this, we thought that defenisve strike should still get support, and also that support should be an action of itself so you don't get to attack AND support.

 

For example, you have three Warriors ranked up in a line (why they'd be ranked in a skirmish game is still something the five of us are trying to work out) and I charge in my lone heavy infantryman. I hit the middle Warrior, and so I hit him and then he gets to defensive strike on me. While we're fighting, do you really mean to tell me that the two Warriors, the guy I'm fighting's mates, are standing there laughing/jeering/whatever which I'm trying to run their mate through? Hell no, they should be supporting (ie waving their swords about too) and thus provide a +1 to their mate's defensive strike. Afterall, three on one should leave a dead one.

 

Another example, you have a Warrior and I charge three Warriors into you and establish base to base contact with all three of the front sides. Now I've got three guys waving swords at your one guy, but he only gets to defensive strike once. Fair enough, but once we all three of us attacked that one Warrior, and each recieved bonuses for our mates' being present, two of them stop waving their swords around while the lone Warrior attacks one of my three guys and also when that one guy defensive strikes back??

 

Disciple:

Is this a completely redundant stat on the data card or is there an advanced download which actually makes use of DS? Cos I couldn't find anywhere in the download any rules with regards to morale (which is more important than the actual fighting a lot of the time) or running away from battle or any form of unit mechanics for morale (whcih are needed, despite this being a skirmish game, because the troops are do large they're units) and also personal morale.

 

What I'm trying to get at is, where's the rule which says that my once 11 man strong troop of heavy infantry but which is now only 4 men will bolt from combat because they've seen so many of their mates die that they've just dropped their load and run away in sheer panic.

 

Points:

Because one of my players was proxying a GW chaos army, he wanted to use his beastie. I thought, okay, cool, I can give him a beastie. I chose a Behemoth. At 183 points, I assumed that it wouldn't be all that tough and could ge killed by a few grunts in close combat. How wrong I was... this Behemoth dominated the first two or three turns, and only was killed because of a few lucky shots from one player and the other two ganging up on it in close combat. 183 points for the behemoth is far too cheap.... and yet there's things which are over priced. I just think this needs looking at, cos some things cost the earth and are relatively useless, and some things cost pittance and rule the game.

 

While this may seem like a rant, it is not intended as such. We all enjoyed the game, and once my friends have managed to find figure ranges they can make armies out of, I'm sure I'll be seeing more battles all the time. But the idea of a beta is for feedback, and having played our first game, this is the feedback we've got.

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Hey Frank,

  I have some storng feeling about Warlord, almost all of them positive, and want to get more info into how your game was run.

  1)How many players were in the game?

  2)how many figures made up the 1200 points?

  3)How much equipment was purchased?How many spell

     Points?

  These answer to these questions can strongly influence the feel of the game. I ran a demo with 1000 points per player this week, and most companies were one troop, with 10 or 11 figures. About 40% of the points were spent on spells and equipment. This "felt" like a skirmish. I've also set up 1500 point armies with less than 10% in spells and equipment. Nearly 50 figures in 5 troops. This "felt" very different. 1200 points, if equipment-light, probably was a compromise between the two.

 

    4)Were most of the units making "tough" checks warriors with "tough/1" or HI with "tough/2"?

    5)Were you using the "loot" rules?

 

    We laugh that the warrior you leave down and bypass is the one who will then get up and attack you from behind. The demo the other night, four dwarves were put down by a fireball. Two of the four passed their tough checks to fight again. We like the uncertainty it brings to the game, and the decision you must make to "coup-de-grasse" or go fight someone else.

 

    Pikes: no question, just a comment. I like the fact that

"pike" on the defensive, cancels out the "lance" special ability.

I also strongly feel that pikes should count as support when

DEFENDING. BTW, your historical explanation is excellent. I love the "pike and musket era".

 

   Polearms supporting from the 45 degree angle:I like it. They would have to charge more points for "polearm SA", but it could be done.

 

   Defensive strikes and support: It seems to me that giving the attacker the support benefits was the mechanism used instead of givig the "charge bonus" that some many other games use. I accept it as such. It seems to balance out.

   

  Discipline: I too, questioned it's value, until starting to run bigger games, with more sergeants-lower ranges of command, AND leaders who die more quickly. Thus more discipline checks. Throw in a few "Horrid" solos, and DS values take on meaning. I would like to see at least an optional rule for "percent of casualties" causing DS checks...maybe by specific army list.

 

  Points:My observation is that things keep changing with each updated version. I know I haven't tried enough "solos" to know which are priced too-high/too-low/just-right. I'm going to rectify that this week. i've seen little commentary on this except for dragons.

 

I hope this offers some useful alternative insight. you,ve raised some very good points, and I'm sure they will be debated in full.

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Ok as 1 of the players last night (and I guess winner) I can answer some of that.

 

There were 4 players. Each with 1200 points.

 

I had 4 troops and 28 models, (6 Cavalry, 6 Crossbow, 8 Heavy Infantry and 8 Warriors) included in that was a Melee Warlord, Cavalry Captain and Hero, Melee Hero, Warrior and Crossbow Sargeant.

 

Lee had Melee Warlord with Lesser Magic Armour, Archmage Bolt (x3), Fear (x2), Melee Hero with Medium Magic Weapon, 5 Wpn Dervish with Musician & Standard, Cavalry Captain and 5 Cavalry and Longbow Sgt. + 4 Longbowmen.

 

Wes had  Melee Warlord, Archmage with Bolt (x3), Fear (x2),

Wizard Bolt (x3), Fear (x2) and magic ring. 4 Warriors and 5 Polearms. A Melee Captain with 6 Heavy Inf. Grunt and  8 Pikeman. and 5 or so Cavalry.

 

Finally Patrick had Melee Warlord,Archmage Bolt (x3), Fear (x2), Tank Hero 8 Warrior with Standard and Musician. A

Heavy Inf. Sgt with Lesser Magic Armour and 8 Heavy Inf. Grunt with Standard all had Lesser Magic Armour as well. Plus the Behemoth.

 

We were able to kill the downed tough guys as a non-combat action (as I was using Romans to proxy my force I didn't consider it looting, they waited untill they won the field and then looted everyone, I had 20 figures left everyone else had been totally wiped out).

 

The comments about pikes really come from me (as I have studied the swiss pike armies to a minor degree). My honest feeling is pike doesn't belong in a skirmish game. From my own expierence (reenactment) pikes only work in a block. Also Pike figures I expect to see some proper pikes if that is what they are being called, not glorified spears.

 

I would like to see morale be a much bigger factor. I don't like a game where I have to wipe out the enemy, I want to inflict 40-50% casaulties and watch as the enemy starts to flee of the table.

 

Again like Frank said I enjoyed the game but also felt I wanted more from it either greater detail (think of GWs Mordheim) or more structure to my troops and a bit less skirmish.

 

Finally I think there should be rules for forming formations eg SheildWall to help blunt a charge or defenisve formations to allow infantry to advance on archers (think Roman Tortoise). These formations would have downsides to them  as well.

 

Stuart

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Pike SA:

In our past, when men fought with blocks of infantry armed with weapons, and the era we usually think about when we mention Pikemen and the like (English Civil War era is a good example), the pike played a specialised roll on the battlefield.

 

In offensive terms, the pike was about as useless as a wet kipper. A 20 foot long stick isn't really a weapon which can be weilded in close combat. However, what the pike does do is make cavalry go elsewhere. Pikes were the epitome of defensive weapons, making cavalry go elsewhere because even against cannons they stand a chance... against pikemen, they're dogfood and glue.

 

Historically, pikes *were* offensive weapons in some eras - usually the "phalanx and legion" era. You'd get longer pikes beating out shorter pikes, massed formations of pikemen used on the offensive as well as being used to ward off cavalry. The later era pikemen were used for different purposes, but by then gunpowder and heavier armor had changed the battlefield a bit.

 

The point about their uselessness at point blank is valid, though. Maybe pikes - if they are actual pikes and not just a term for "spears we can use to annoy cavalry with" - should have more difficulty when fighting base-to-base but get the advantage of their weapon length for striking purposes.

 

In other words, give Pike the same offensive power as Lance (striking first), but reduce their own base-to-base combat ability by say -1. That would simulate their ability to strike a foe with their longer weapon, but when pressed close be forced to use whatever backup weapon they have (knives of various lengths, smaller swords, fangs/teeth/knuckles, whatever - not all pikemen are human in Warlord...).

 

That would encourage people to do one of three things:

 

- attack, so they can take advantage of their longer reach for the initial attack and hope that is sufficient to eliminate their foe before they get base-to-base counterattacks.

- back off when faced with close-combat troops (get the defensive strike against them with your long-reach weapons, then hope you can keep your distance).

- support them with their own close-combat troops (ala the Swiss).

 

All of which I think would add to the game. I just have no idea how much more to charge for Pike if this is done.

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Another caveat with Toughness.

 

If your warlord is Tough/3, he gets back up at DT-3, and thus weaker than an elite infantry troop with Tough/1, who stands back up at DT-0.... :)

 

Personally, toughness shouldn't be allowed on anything that doesn't have more than one DT. It solves the above problem of elite troops getting back up stronger than a warlord, and it at least makes tough things tough.

 

If they are so elite, just give them 2 wounds and no Toughness. Or if you want tough troops, give them to undead. Make them weaker, but have them come back for that "Augh! Hack them to bits, they'z zombies" feel.

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So as not to hijack the thread, I replied to the Pike issue in another thread.

 

I like the idea of the "stand back up" mechanic (Tough SA as currently written) being used for Undead - quite characterful.

 

I would like to see the Tough skill be used on more than just the final wound; perhaps once per activation?  That way, if the model only takes one wound, it might be prevented.  If it takes several at once, only one might be prevented.

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First lemme address Steven's comment on support. I agree with you, the initiative or additional attack bonus common in other games does get very boring after a while, yet Warlord still tries to keep to the same model of 'we both fight in both turns'. While this works if you both actually fight, in this system it simply gives you defensive strike, which I can see uses for but I think support should count still.... otherwise you've got a shield wall of 8 blookes and only one man attacking back at that lone grunt that's just charged into you, perhaps because you're a weaker type of grunt than the blokes on each elbow.

 

TKD, you seem to be making the same mistakes as I used to do.... the pike was 18' or longer, anything shorter was either a polearm or a stick. Many of my friends do reenactments and they've commented several times that the pike isn't a good offensive weapon, especially against infantry because they need to dodge or parry the tips and you've a clear run. Pikeman don't carry any other weapons, traditionally, because they haven't the weight also who/what they are. This is why the Swiss infantry were so amazing for ages.... they were pikemen with the ability to bite intantry.

 

I an curious what you mean about phalanxs and legions. I'm only aware of those terms applying to Hoplites (the most famous of which are the Spartans) and Romans. Neither of thes groups used any form of pike, hell the romans didn't use spears or polearms either, certainly not in this manner.

 

Tough seems to be similar to a 'Save'. Yet in the mechanics of Warlord it's not the right way of providing a Saving throw at all. Armour is coimbined with other things to be the DV stat, which should be increased to denote a higher armour or natural toughness. And if the intention of Tough is to give elite troops and characters a last gasp, then I think giving them another DT would be far more apt.... so they're weaker, but they're still alive.

 

As for DS, all of those things Steven mentioned actually happened last week. The problem was I couldn't find anything in the PDF I had printed out and was frantically looking through to tell me what should be done in those situations. It was only the Ronin SA which told me that models in a troop which had lost their leader and hadn't yet been absorbed with a 'Regroup action' had to run away. The whole file is poorly worded and stuff's in the wrong place to find it easy, but the morale stuff, as near as I can tell (having read the PDF a mere 4 times since June) is scattered all over the place in dribs and drabs which are impossible to find unless you know where a particular drab is.

 

Warlord is a nice game, one which I could really enjoy playing, but there are some things which make me go 'Ahhhh' when I think of them.

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I've also read 30YW and ESW reports of pikemen caught in skirmish situations cutting pikes down to 8-10 foot "Boar-spear" lenghts.

 

I don't anticipate a lot of pikemen in the game, unless a lot of points and open terrain are in the mix. I have a few, but wouldn't put them in an army under 3000 points.

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...they used longer ones than that using 2 men on each one...

Until metalurgy allowed for the reinforced mortar as a seige engine, there were recorded incidents of pikes roughly ninety-seven feet long, used by teams of 5 soldiers to pick archers off the walls of castles.

 

However, since that discussion would be hijacking the original thread, and since I made that up anyway, back to Leech's original subjects:

 

Scope:  The first problem we had was, what scope/level of play is Warlord designed to be.
Warlord functions as a skirmish (as in "non-regimental") game, where individual figures are moved somewhat independantly.

 

Troop sizes:...the Troop sizes are somewhat large for a proper skimrish game...I think it'd be difficlt to have 10 guys in heavy armour with swords and shields running around, yet ten peasants with a polearm shoudn't be too hard to find.

3 to 12 guys is about squad size, and the key is that they operate dispersed on the battlefield.

 

Pike SA:...the pike played a specialised roll on the battlefield...something is needed for countering the Lanse SA...a pike kills or makes a horse rear off from the charge...
This is covered elsewhere, but the Pike SA (as intended, which is anti-lance) is as likely to mean you have firecrackers as a pike.

 

Defensive Strikes and Support:

we thought that defenisve strike should still get support, and also that support should be an action of itself so you don't get to attack AND support.

It's about the coordination.  When I attack, you don't defend in a concerted manner like you would in a tight unit or regiment.  The Trencher SA accounts for that.

 

Disciple:...where's the rule which says that my once 11 man strong troop of heavy infantry but which is now only 4 men will bolt from combat...
In a normal force, sure.  In an elite fighting force, where models act somewhat independantly, and where they know (and are trained) that to run is to die, I don't mind not having random die rolls dictate the course of the game.  It just means that the morale (or lack therof) focuses on a different facet of reality.

 

Points:...183 points for the behemoth is far too cheap.... and yet there's things which are over priced.

We ran several games with and against critter-heavy forces, and the beasties won about half the time.  Doesn't mean the points are right, but it does indicate that they are close enough.  I would, however really like to see the base points formula.

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