Sunday, 17 November 2013

Initial Thoughts on Mayhem

Well, I thoroughly enjoyed the game, even though it was a bit disjointed when the demands of life interrupted the flow. Even though the loss of the angels so early did rather make the result seem inevitable there were certainly several points in the battle where it appeared the tide could have turned.

The rules worked well for solo wargaming. Being used to the mechanisms of Two Hour Wargames, which are very much designed with the solo gamer in mind, I had wondered whether Mayhem would cope as well. I would say that they work better, albeit that I used 2HW's ideas for the layout of terrain and choice and deployment of troops. There is just the right balance of uncertainty and the greater number of options for troop design give much more variety so that I create the troops I wanted and make sure that there was sufficient differentiation between them.

I'm not usually a lover of lots of different dice but it does work here. And I particularly liked the concept of having to choose between "default" and "danger". Just to explain more fully, when it come to rolling dice, you can either not roll and simply accept the default score - half the potential score (2 for d4, 3 for d6, 4 for d8, etc) and you can go for danger and roll the dice so that you can achieve the maximum score but also the minimum. This is such a simple concept but, as some of my "wrong" decisions demonstrated, they can have catastrophic results.

And while on the subject of the dice, I couldn't believe the number of natural 1s that I rolled and again they tended to be at quite decisive moments.

As I say, the loss of the angels so quickly was decisive - the loss of nearly 25% of the army's points value. I had been looking forward to watching the carnage that they wrought amongst the orc riders but, thanks to a natural 1, it was all over for them. I do wonder about the quality of Terror that I had given them. The rules say that if a unit wishes to initiate combat with a unit that causes terror, it requires more command points to be used but if the terror-causing unit initiates the combat there is no effect as such. I would imagine that if you are attacked by a unit of terrifying creatures, there would be a tendency for some of your own ranks to turn and run.

The pilgrims did far better than I had anticipated, especially as I had given them very poor statistics - a combat quality of d20 I thought would be a death sentence for them. I can see hordes being a real problem as they take so much to wipe them out.

I do like the way that the way units are destroyed differs depending on the type of troops they are - disorder, damage and attrition - though I found myself having to reread that section several times to make sure that I got it right.

I am not sure that I used the generals and heroes correctly. On a small board with 40mm bases there was never a problem of a unit going beyond the control of a leader so the orcs did not seem to be at a disadvantage by only having the one compared to the crusaders' three.

Of the rules themselves I would say that they could be better organised. There were times when I knew that a specific rule was in there somewhere but needed to trawl through them to find the clarification I needed. I have created my own quick reference sheet which helped. However, I recognise that part of my problem has been that I have got far too comfortable with the  mechanisms of Hordes of the Things and 2HW and this problem will no doubt dissipate as I get more used to them.
In the meantime I hope that Brent Spivey, the author, will correct me if I misinterpreted the rules anywhere.

Sometimes I felt the results were perhaps unrealistic (a fantasy game - realistic? Yeah, right!) particularly the way that the crusaders battled on even though they were reduced to just two units of  crossbowmen. Using the command point dice to decide whether they will break may not work as the higher value of the dice the less likely the army is to break and surely one sign of a good commander is knowing when the battle is lost and when to make a tactical withdrawal. Hence I felt that one of the Brothers had to make a move and risk demotion in his holy order.
And the way that you can carry out some actions with one unit, then move to another and then return to the first does feel strange. I like it as a game mechanism. It's fun and I can see how making the right moves at the right time can make a real difference in a battle but it didn't feel realistic. I couldn't see some of the moves I carried out happening on a battlefield while the enemy just watches on.

So in conclusion, I will certainly be using these rules again. They have been promoted to being my favourites for solo mass fantasy battles and I look forward to having a game with one of my sons to see what he thinks of them (he is used to beating me at HotT games).

Mayhem are not complete yet. Brent says that there is a third section coming soon-ish, covering strongholds, sieges, mini-campaigns, terrain and more and I am certainly looking forward to that coming out (especially as once you have bought the rules you can download the updated rules for free!)

And finally,what of the armies? The peace-loving orcs returned to the steppes, the chieftain's leadership still intact. Abbot Crispin went back to his chapel to reflect and question his god about what had gone wrong; Brother Germaline returned a hero and spent the rest of the year travelling the villages relating how god had blessed others through him, and Brother Equile, following his desertion from the cause, was guided to a new ministry in the pig sty.
Meanwhile, on another plane, the gods of chaos have been observing the foolish clerics' failures. Now is the time to move into the world of men. I just need to paint up my chaos general and heroes.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great report! I loved both the narrative and the miniatures.

    'As I say, the loss of the angels so quickly was decisive'
    For units that you've invested a lot of points in, I would recommend either giving them the heavy armor trait or converting them to the behemoth designation. Either one will give them a bit more survivability and means that you'll get most of your points back. This ups the threat level of the units and makes their enemies spend more turns and command points getting rid of them.

    'I can see hordes being a real problem as they take so much to wipe them out.'
    You're absolutely right! Turn them into great hordes and give them a CQ and BAR in the d10-d12 range and the center of your battle line is going no where fast.

    Also, hordes are immune to drive back and beat back! You missed that bit [it was your first time playing :) after all], and it could have made a big difference in turn 3 when the Trollkin won the combat that ran the unit off the table.

    'I am not sure that I used the generals and heroes correctly. On a small board with 40mm bases there was never a problem of a unit going beyond the control of a leader so the orcs did not seem to be at a disadvantage by only having the one compared to the crusaders' three.'
    I think that you did well. On a small table the command range doesn't make that much of a difference unless you are trying to push a fast/flying unit around a flank using Overdrive. In those cases, you can create a heroic unit [grishnakh's warg riders?] and eliminate the issue altogether.

    For your game, it meant that the Crusaders would be rolling three dice on each command roll. That can pay huge dividends over the course of a game.

    'I have created my own quick reference sheet which helped.'
    I don't know if you saw it, but there is a quick reference sheet included in the download.

    'And the way that you can carry out some actions with one unit, then move to another and then return to the first does feel strange.'
    Combined with the command point economy, this is meant to simulate the 'real time' evolution of the battlefield and tactical adjustments of units based on the situation. After a couple more games, I think that you'll find it hard to return to a game that features a static turn structure [move phase, shoot phase, etc.]. ;)

    ' I just need to paint up my chaos general and heroes.'
    The breaking rules are designed in such a way as to make sure that 'high leadership - low unit count' armies like Chaos are no unduly hamstrung by the loss of a couple of units. Even though you add a die to the break roll each subsequent turn, you can usually count on at least of couple of [but usually around 4] turns of mayhem with your remaining small army with a lot of command points. Fun stuff!

    Now that you've gotten your feet wet, I'm really looking forward to seeing what you do with the system [and finding out what happens with the Crusaders and Chaos]. Some Chaos sorcery perhaps?

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  2. Cheers Brent
    That's very helpful.

    I'm not sure I see the angels as behemoths but I was wondering about making them hordes. I could picture millions of them pouring out of heaven.

    I did see your QRS document, thanks. I just made mine a little less wordy - a bit like the rules that WRG used to produce so I have a table for all the weapons and one for all the traits, etc and I've put all the command point costs in a single table.

    And yes, I'm looking forward to Crusader v Chaos too. I haven't quite got sorcerers sorted yet but have behemoths and a wide variety of troop types.
    I'm not sure when I'll get it going yet.

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  3. Nice call - the horde designation would work great for the angels and require less abstraction. Anything that keeps them on the table longer!

    ...so I have a table for all the weapons and one for all the traits, etc and I've put all the command point costs in a single table
    I thought that you'd seen the other, but I wanted to make sure. I'd love to see your QRS sometime if you don't mind. It would be nice to know what's most useful to a new player while using the least amount of information.

    I'll be looking forward to the next report. Thank again for the great write-up!

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    Replies
    1. I've sent my QRS to your gmail account.

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