Battleshed Diaries

Monday, 9 February 2015

Fightin Fungi - rules playtest #1

"Why was the mushroom happy? Because he was a fun-gi!"

With both Arabianknight and I backing Ganesha Games Kickstarter for the SoBH game, Fightin Fungi, we were keen to play test the new rules available to backers. So down at Arabianknight’s Gaming Emporium we both deployed a quickly assembled 350 point warband for a simple Capture the Shard of Power, (or something like that!), scenario.

As this was a rules play test, our rosters – certainly mine anyway – were created primarily towards testing out some of the expanded array of abilities (traits), the new weapon/armour rules and the Reaction system. We both forewent the long list of new Magic abilities for this time, leaving that for another playtest.


I hired the services of my erstwhile Dwarf campaign leader, Valgen Maest and his some of his lads whilst Arabianknight assembled his Human Church Retinue again. No idea why, maybe he likes big hats! This was led by an angry Bishop with a contingent of soldiers. I think a Bishop with a penchant for bludgeoning to death unbelievers’ definitely fits the 'angry' profile!
 
For Valgen and his lads, I picked out some of the more interesting new traits that sounded vaguely thematic for a band of Dwarfs – Low Kick, Shield Rush, Hammering Blow and the Way of the Intercepting Fist amongst them! Valgen and his stoic side-kick, Falster Vonlyr, both turned up in full armour too, which looked good but I soon found was counter-productive for dwarfs!

The new armour and weapon rules allows players to select the type of kit their characters are armed with, (heavy/light armour, large/magic/standard shield, buckler etc.), rather than relying on ‘traits’ alone to distinguish individual characters. For example, Falster Vonlyr, being a veteran dwarf warrior, had Armoured and Shield included on his profile as well as Fearless, Shield Rush and Short Move.

This meant that a melee loss by 2 (armour + shield), becomes a tie. Crucially however, for dwarfs already on a Short Move due to their, ahem… stature, movement is reduced by one stick, so a very frustrated Falster found himself having to get two successful activation rolls to move – bringing back memories of battling through heavy snow in previous campaigns! If this wasn’t bad enough for armoured dwarfs, it also had a direct impact when it came to the Reaction system.

Players of SoBH will know that each character can be activated with a choice of up to three dice, activating against their Quality, so for example, three successes would mean Falster could at least move short with two actions (armour and shield) and with the third possibly make a normal melee attack if he managed to move into base contact with an opponent. If however Falster had only rolled one success of three attempted activations, he wouldn’t have been able to move at all – and play would then immediately pass (turnover) to the opposing warband for rolling two unsuccessful activation rolls! But before that happens, the new Reaction system kicks in.

Taking the last example, with Falster choosing to roll three activation dice and losing two – Arabianknight can then immediately pick up the two failed dice and attempt to activate one of his own characters, before Falster completes his one successful action!
“A reaction is a short burst of activity, a momentary stealing of the initiative, a sudden action that throws a wrench in the works of your opponent’s plan!"
Post game we did have to have the Reaction definition clarified, as somehow we were interpreting that any failed activation rolls guaranteed the equivalent reaction for the opponent. Not so, the opponent still has to activate a reaction against the reacting character's Quality. We also clarified that turnovers only happen when it is that players turn, not as a result of a reaction roll. There are also a number of rules supporting the Reaction system, for example characters who have already successfully reacted during this turn may not react again amongst others. It is to be noted that the armour and weapon rules are still being developed so our interpretation, for example the Slow Move dwarfs with armour having to take two movement actions, will have to be clarified.

Ireheart (left) Outnumbered by three soldiers
For me, the Reaction system potentially exacerbates an inherent weakness in my warband rosters, where I have a proclivity towards defining a small number of individual characters fleshed out with ‘expensive’ traits with the aim of making each character distinctive. This means that my characters often find themselves separated and Outnumbered in melee by lesser skilled (points-wise) characters.  With the Reaction system in play the opportunity to potentially Outnumber an opponent, especially with the Long Reach trait (think 'Pike' or Spear), is greatly increased. This will mean that for future games I’ll have to boost the my rosters will more expendable characters to screen the veterans or restrict my characters to moving in tighter formations – which could be slow going with Dwarfs!

The Bishop's crossbowman (left) with a reload marker
Both our rosters included a character armed with a crossbow for this play test. Interestingly, it takes an activation to reload a crossbow and a character cannot move in the same turn he reloads. For this game, one of the Bishop’s soldiers and Squint Ironsights for the Dwarfs got to practise with the crossbow, although with mixed results.   


SoBH was dynamic before, but with the new Reaction system in play the action becomes truly vibrant. It’s certainly not a game for players that like to rely on carefully crafted power lists! With SoBH it’s a fast-paced skirmish with the new raft of traits and equipment options available for the characters only adding to the roleplaying element. And we haven’t even touched on the new Magic rules and lists yet!