Well, on Monday evening, I headed off to the wargames club to try out the Too Fat Lardies' super-looking new Arthurian rules, Dux Britanniarum.
Unfortunately, I had not had as thorough a read-through as I would have liked before the event and, as I am utterly pants at remembering any set of wargames rules I have played for years, let alone new ones with completely different systems, it was always going to be an 'interesting' evening!!
Mike, who is much better with such things, had been on hols, so hadn't even ordered the rules... This was not an auspicious start!!
So I picked a scenario I had the kit for (cattle raid) and off we went!!
We decided to roll up the characters, just to see what happened. In the event, not a lot, although I did gain 'Master of Arms' for my tribune, giving him an extra D6 in combat! Hurrah!!!
The scenario is played down a 6x4 table, short edge to short edge, with the Saxons getting D3 free moves with the cattle wot they had previously nicked from me before my advance guard arrived. Needless to say, Mike rolled high, maximising his free moves. My vanguard (D6 groups - I rolled a '4') and as many nobles as I wanted arrived in the centre section of the table on Mike's left, the remainder arriving on activation in turn 2. This meant I arrived roughly level with where Mike's thieving Saxons now were.
What followed was a comedy of errors as I tried desperately to get us through the game. I made numerous c*ck-ups, including misreading the severity of terrain, activating a noble twice in one turn and not activating another (doh!) and getting very confused over the Fate card deck and what happens when combats are won and lost, but despite this, Mike remained good-humoured and patient to the end...and still claimed he had fun!!!!! In the general mayhem, few pictures were taken (and the camera battery was getting low, to add insult to injury!) but we got through the game (somehow) and the Saxons won, despite taking a mauling along the way, getting 2 bases of cattle off the opposite short table edge by a masterstroke of tactical noble-activating (and a Saxon-friendly activation deck) at the end of the game.
So, how does it play?
Well, it's bloody great, that's what it is!!! I am a dyed-in-the-wool WABber and, apart from occasional games of Saga, Hail Caesar and Operation Squad, play little else, so this was VERY different! I love the card activation system! Basically, when your nobles' cards come up, they activate and can undertake as many activations as they have status points (so a warlord has 3, lesser mortals have 2) and they have a menu of 'stuff' to choose from as well as a command range (which is reduced when they are in combat.) This is great and is actually really easy to use. Troops not commanded by nobles get activated last. Seeemples!!!!
Movement is 3D6 (reduced by terrain, shieldwall, etc) and you MUST move what you roll unless you can give your troops a geographical reference point ("Move up in line with the Numeri...")
Combat is straightforward, although our movement trays being different meant that I made a slight error when leading this on Monday and morale is handled by troops receiving 'shock' when in combat or when moving through tricky terrain. Nobles can rally it off them as part of activation.
The real key to the game though is the Fate card deck. This is a set of special ability cards and I got this a LOT wrong on Monday. However, I now know where I went wrong and it is evident that this will lift the game to a whole new level as the cards can help you to REALLY kick ass in combat. Each noble can play a single card on any activation, or, if he holds a Carpe Diem card, can play multiple cards in one go...if in combat, he gains an extra D6 for every card he holds that corresponds to his 'suit' (Dragons for British; Boars for Saxons.) A player may play any unsuited card in response to the actibvating noble in any activation (e.g. when Mike played 'Aggressive Charge' to crush my shieldwall, I was able to play 'Shieldwall Braced' to cancel his advantage)
Deciding what to play when and what to hold back is going to be the Dux Brit equivalent of the battleboards in Saga, where choices of how to load and use the board are key to the game. I think this means that one could play each of the scenarios numerous times and never really get the same game twice!!!
So, overall, we liked it a lot and are playing again in two weeks (next week is ECW campaign week!) I can see this being one of my 'go to' games in future, I really can.
Pics below from the game:
First, evil, Pagan, thieving Saxons sneakin' off with good British beef and lamb!!! Not on my watch, Guvnor!!!