After something like a 6-week dry spell, Jaime and I finally sat down to do another playtest game.Mea culpa #1
- with 6 weeks of accumulated rules (apart from a teaching game with a new player), neither of us was at our finest.Mea culpa #2
- we each thought the other was bringing the playtest proxies.
I had some old ones, which we used, but three of the cards are wrong--the "Terracotta Warriors" is actually "Salvaged Terracotta Warriors," and the "Wuxing Heavy Cavalry" has since changed to faster-moving, lower-courage "Imperial Cavalry" (We used the updated units' the proxies just look wrong.)
Anyway, without further ado...Set Up and Strategy
Imperial Cavalry behind Monks, Spearmen, Crossbowmen, Salvaged behind 2 other Salvaged, Imperial Cavalry behind Spearmen. 1990ish points.
A solid close-and-hose army with 3 good, fast-moving human units and Spearmen to deal with the expected cavalry.
Pilemen, Peasant Mob behind 2 Militia, Swordsmen, Spearmen, Knights, Knights behind Light Cavalry
I deliberately "lowballed" at 1975 in order to get the first move, then changed my mind and made him deploy first--quite possibly a mistake, though it did mean he's have a spearmen out of position.
Each of us had a plan to crush one flank with good fast-moving units while delaying with a held-back weak flank, then roll the opponent line. I, however, had made a major mistake in deployment by placing the Knights behind, rather than in front of, the Light Cav. Jaime's final deployment of Imperial Cavalry on the flank meant that the entire game would be an uphill struggle.Opening Moves
On the left, Wuxing Advances, though their crossbow fire has been wildly inaccurate. They are making better progress despite having to go uphill--taking the first turn helped.
On the right, Hawkshold advances more slowly. If I sent my Light Cav. head-on into Imperial Cav they're likely lose, at which point I'd to totally screwed. So I had to move my Light Cav in while swinging out the Knights to deal with the Imperial Cav--this ultimately cost me something like 4 extra command actions and forced my left Knights to be speed capped. Sad! First Engagment
On the left, Wuxing continues to close.
In the center, I take a risk, ordering my Swordsmen to charge straight into the Salvaged, and hoping that, with some good red cards and a little luck I can destroy them in 3 or 4 turns. Meanwhile, I push Militia forward to be within no-turning-back of the Crossbowmen, but if the Crossbowmen final rush the Militia then my Swordsmen will be out of their front arc. Jaime refuses the bait and takes direct control of the Crossbowmen in order to hit my Swordsmen on his following turn, while sending Spearmen into my Militia's flank. Meanwhile, my Swordsmen's first swing at the Salvaged is a complete whiff despite a Might card.
On the right, the Imperial Cav are direct controlled to dance just out of Final Rush range, while remaining a threat to my units. How annoying, and well played, Jaime! First Blood!
On the left, I send my other Militia in to pinch the Spearmen with their flank.  It's not a fight I can hope to win, but I'm trying to put as much damage onto his good units as possible.
On the near right, Jaime made the opposite choice: after my Spearmen did a flank-pinch on the Salvaged (hoping for a 1-turn kill to save the Swordsmen, bad dice ensured that didn't happen) , Jaime considered counter-pinching my Spearmen with is other Salvaged, and a breathed a well-hidden sigh of relief when he decided to just keep his line back instead.
The Left Flank Collapses...
Left to right...
Monks, on Air Stance, charge into my Pikemen, but I've been saving two Accuracy cards, so after one turn have combat the Pikemen give as good as they get.
My Militia both go down. One explodes when Imperial Cav pinch it in the flank, while the other goes down to Terracotta Spearmen.
Salvaged have lasted just long enough for the Crossbowmen to get a turn of pinching on my Swordsmen, who similarly explode.
Meanwhile, my right flank hasn't even engaged yet
, though at least the Imperial Cav on the right finally have nowhere to run. 8 to 3!
Left to right...
My Pikemen, with two otherwise-worthless Accuracy cards, are totally owning the Monks! So the Imperial Cav have to help them out. My Pikemen explode, but at least the Monks are in the red and the Cav are facing the wrong way.
Peasants had been backing up the Militia, but Jaime had requested official rules only, so I decline to declare backup rule. Then I put Bravery on the Peasants and charged them into the Crossbowmen--not to win a victory, but to immobilize the Crossbowmen for 2 key turns in order to buy my units time to finish off the right flank. The Peasants nobly sacrifice themselves, mission accomplished.
Spearmen have engaged Salvaged, as have Knights (who are underperforming--a good thing in this case, as Spearmen are backing them up). Meanwhile the Imperial Cavalry, whose crossbows had already done a point to my Light Cav, Charge and, one Accuracy card later, one-shot them on damage alone!
My Knights on the right still
haven't seen combat at this point! A Flank for a Flank.
On the left, Jaime uses some Direct Controls to reform his line, including holding back his Crossbowmen. That may have been a mistake, as the Crossbowmen just might have been able to catch my Spearmen in the rear.
On the right, the Wuxing Flank is crushed. Spearmen finish off the Salvaged, then pinched the Terracotta Spearmen who had backed up other Salvaged and engaged my Knights. I was feeling optimistic until the Terracotta Spearmen, in the red, did a ridiculously good parting shot and put 4 damage onto my Knights!
My other Knights easily destroyed the wounded Imperial Cav after hitting their flank.The Battle, Part Two
We had a few rather odd turns. I wasnted to hold my units back in order to buy my good Knights time to make it to the battle. Jaime, meanwhile, wanted to hold his units back until he'd killed my 1-hit-point Knights with crossbow fire. I was dumping blue cards on the Knights each turn, and I think he didn't finally get them until the 3rd or 4th shot.
Blood and Shards Everywhere!
On the left, my good Knights gleefully shatter the already-wounded Crossbowmen in 2-3 turns, then kill the 2-hit-point Monks who were backing them up the following turn. Spearmen, meanwhile, are twisting back to force a twos-company.Egg on my Face
I had been so sure that the Spearmen, already in the red, would be exploded by a twos-company that I hadn't bothered putting Bravery on them. Jaime, however, turned his Spearmen to face my Knights, and hit my Spears with his Imperial Cav. The Spearmen only took a single point of damage while doing 2 back. I play Uncommon Valor and need to roll a 12....13 FAIL!
Bravery would've saved their lives!
My Knights, who do get Bravery (from the Plan card...the bottom card on my deck * sigh *) one-shot the Spearmen, though they bleed a bit. Jaime charges the Imperial cav into them. They put each other into the red (Imperial Cav somewhat underperforming with only 1 point done), but I need to roll a 14 (pass with an 11) to keep the Knights from running away, while he needs a 10 and fails. Jaime concedes.Victory to Hawkshold!
Conclusions on the game.
- Damn that was close!
- I made a major error in deployment, but Jaime returned the favor by being overly cautious. Rather than put more of a hurt onto my right flank units, he elected to have his flank hold out longer. But I was able to reform my line on time so in the end that didn't help. Given the closeness of the Hawkshold victory (one unit in the red...sheesh!) a few more points of damage woud've made a decisive difference.
- My attack dice were lame in the early game, but courage dice were good; later on it averaged out. Jaime's dice were pretty average. I recall a couple of spectacular hits, and at least one pathetic one, but you have to expect that over the course of a long battle.
- Observe the angles of the last units. Over the course of the game, our lines twisted over 180 degrees!
- My Light Cavalry unit would've rocked if Jaime had taken any Fu Dogs or Jun Horse Archers, and also would've done a good job on Salvaged, but they were all but worthless vs. the heavier Imperial Cavalry which he went with.
Comments on the faction.
- The Monks feel perfect, both in function and cost. One hidden weakness of the Monks is the opponent has a good use his Accuracy cards.
- The cards also feel pretty good. Jaime played "Beyond Defeat" on the Crossbowmen as the Knights charged in and it worked as wanted--he played a red card in order to prevent more damage, while I responded with a blue card in order to make a deadlier attack.
- At one point I was worried that 274 was a bit steep for Imperial Cavalry, but Jaime got excellent use out of them, including the crossbow shot.
- I remain slightly itchy that the Terracotta units are slightly
too good for their cost, but won't be changing any prices based on this game.
- Not sure if Wuxing has any adequate answer to Hawkshold Knights. Fortunately for Wuxing, Hawkshold can only take two of those.
 This was a real flank-pinch, not a cheesy I-don't-have-1.75" flank pinch.
 This one was a cheesy under-1.75" of space flank pinch. Jaime & I were playing with official rules only this game.