This weekend at PAX East, I finally got to play some games of BattleGround. On Saturday, I played a couple of 1500 games against other newbies. On Sunday, I was looking to get some 2000 point games against some veterans so I could learn how the game's actually played at the higher levels
. The first game I had was against Kevin (my Hawks vs. his High Elves), where I ended up getting destroyed after my right flank spent the entire game walking around. The second game was my High Elves (and Kevin's expert advice!) against Mexico's Rome, and it was a lot closer.
I was vaguely familiar with Rome's backup mechanic. Kevin suggested using a longer line with cavalry hitting both flanks. I ended up with a line of 5x Battlesquads, flanked to the left by a Bowrider and Chariot and on the right by a Ranger and Chariot. Mexico deployed 5x Veteran Principes lined up against my Battlesquads. One Triari backed them up in the middle, and another Triari guarded each flank along with an extra Velites on the Bowrider side (my left).
The fast units on the flanks did their jobs efficiently. On the left flank, the Velites made their second rout check after taking 2 damage from the Bowrider charge, and ran behind the Triari. That Triari was quickly pinched and dispatched by the Bowrider and Chariot. On the right flank, the Triari died fairly quickly as well, and the Chariots were able to pinch and destroy the exposed Veteran Principes before they took down the Battlesquad.
Unfortunately, the middle of my line did not fare nearly as well. The Veteran Principes were cutting down the Battlesquads with ease, and only one of the Battlesquads managed even two damage on their opponents. On the left flank, the Battlesquads guarding the Bowrider flank succumbed right as the Triari died, which allowed the Veteran Principes to flank and kill the Bowrider. The Velites sacrificed themselves to pin down the Chariots for a turn. On the right flank, the Battlesquad that helped create the pinch was already heavily damaged, and died right after their Veteran Principes.
At this point, my position was pretty bleak. I had one Chariot with a couple damage facing down two Veteran Principes to the left, and a Chariot and the Rangers (in the yellow) facing down two Veteran Principes and a Triari to the right. The two Veteran Principes to the left were not in a position to support each other, and at Kevin's urging, I charged the Chariots into the Veteran Principes. On the right side of the field, the Chariot and Rangers split to buy time. The Chariots drew away a Triari and Veteran Principes to the top right corner, and the Rangers fell back to the bottom right corner chased by the other Veteran Principes.
And then the Hero Chariots revealed themselves*! At this very crucial juncture, Mexico ran out of defensive Command Cards and dice luck. At the left flank, the Chariot charge took the healthy Veteran Principes into the yellow. Mexico proceeded to fail the rout check. The Chariots added another 4 damage to bring their opponent into the red, and another failed rout check ended that group. The other Veteran Principes group then charged the Chariots, only to also take heavy damage, fail a rout check, take another four damage, and fail the rout check to be destroyed. The Hero Chariots just one-shotted two Veteran Principes!
Suddenly, I had a chance. The Hero Chariots rushed to join the Rangers, and it was the Veteran Principes' turn to buy time by fleeing. On the far right corner, the Chariots ran out of room and charged the Veteran Principes. The Veteran Principes took heavy damage and routed, but my Chariots routed as well and weren't able to follow up.
The Hero Chariots and Rangers finally caught up to the lone Veteran Principes and destroyed it. However, the routing Veteran Principes was close enough to join the battle, and they charged and finally took down the Hero Chariots. The Rangers were able to clean up these Veteran Principes. On the far right corner, my Chariots fell against the Triari, but dealt several boxes of damage.
Only the Triari and the Rangers were left to duel to the death. At this point, I think both were in the yellow. After a few rounds of attacks, they both ended up with one red box remaining! It was a tense set of turns, where the Triari was extremely limited on dice and the Rangers couldn't hit through the defensive command cards played. Finally, a blow was struck, and the battle was over.
A lone high elf ranger stands over the battlefield, his blade dripping with the blood of his Triari opponent. He look around the still and silent landscape littered with the bodies of the fallen. Without a word, he cleans and sheathes his blades, turns, and walks back toward his homeland.
It was an epic game! I certainly learned a lot from these sessions, and I really enjoyed playing. Although I certainly made my share of blunders. Afterwards, Kevin told me about the Deadly Strike card that would have automatically dealt the final blow! I had it in my hand for several rounds
. I still need to tighten up my play and get better at combat math.
I want to thank everyone at PAX East, including Niko, Mexico, and Kevin, for running the show! I hope to see you guys again soon
*For those with some familiarity with the Starcraft pro scene, scenes from this game
came to my mind throughout this sequence.