AAR: La Maisontaal, Now With 33% More Evil!
I like good scenarios. While I'll happily sit down with friends and play a game using whatever sextet of standard setups a ruleset provides, in my heart I want more. After a few monthly games of KOW with the rulebook scenarios, a 3 player game necessitated something special.
As luck would have it, I had just read about a 3 player game of Warhammer called "The Battle for La Maisontaal Abbey". I learned that is a classic WHFB scenario that has been fought twice in pages of White Dwarf, inspired many players and even been featured as a battlefield in the Warhammer Total War video game. With an eye towards respecting this storied past I put together a slightly simplified version that should work for Kings Of War.
In the future I will publish a detailed cleaned-up version for Kings Of War, tentatively titled "The Battle for Chateau Perfidious". In the meantime, the basic structure of the scenario is as follows: A central deployment zone within the walls and buildings of the estate is for the Defender who will receive reinforcements from the West. Two deployment zones are located on adjacent South and East sides of approximately 24" for each of two attackers. Players divide their forces in two and will deploy half per standard KoW rules and bring in half as reinforcements on turn 2.
Victory will be determined by the force with the most units within the walls Chateau or it's buildings at the end of 6 turns. For this battle the attacking Ogre Hordes were led by Chris, the Samiran forces by Mike and I commanded the Perfidian defenders.
View from the south:
View from the north: Note that I did slightly rearrange the table (mostly positions of the 4 Chateau buildings) before the battle began.
The estates of the Chaos Lord Perfidion do not appear tainted. Rather, they look to the casual observer like any other unaligned fiefdom. However, the pastoral facades hide the seat of the Dark Crown from prying eyes. From these whitewashed walls Perfidion rules over a vast estate and directs the actions of the Night Herrons across the region.
The Dark Crown is not unrivaled however and the cruel attentions of Lady Samira the Salacious have long been on Lord Perfidion as she plots his overthrow and the sacking of hidden dark libraries. At last the moment has come to overthrow her rival and she marches on his estate while he is out hunting wild beasts.
En route her scouts report that a rampaging Ogre horde is quickly approaching the same locale. Not about to be denied her prize, a forced march brings both forces to Perfidion's doorstep at nearly the same time. A skeleton crew protects the estates as the battle begins...
Lady Samira's Forces approach from the South fields while the Ogre Horde rampages from the Eastern Road:
The garrison at Chateau Perfidious is at half strength and outnumbered but vows to sell their lives dearly, holding out for reinforcements from the West:
Each building at Chateau Perfidious can be occupied by a unit making them +1 to hit and -1 to damage. However, the defenders only have enough archers to garrison the two southerly buildings. The early action is almost entirely advances.
One notable exception is that the regiment of Perfidian Steam Ogres advance and smash a vanguard troop of Samiran Ogres.
Then all the reinforcements arrive and the estate is a mass of activity. Lord Perfidion himself charges in from the West with his Knights, Dragon and Wolves (aka Frostfang Cavalry).
The Ogre flank is an incredible mass of units rampaging toward the eastern walls!
On the southern flank, two units of Chaos hounds tear up the weakened Steam Ogres.
Perfidion and his Wolves should have headed for the Chateau immediately, but the spirit of vengeance is upon them, and they charge toward Lady Samira and her regiment of warriors.
Lady Samira is defeated along with her warriors, but her various lieutenants continue the fight. The Perfidion and his cavalry and dragon (aka Lord on Chimerra) break off to support the besieged chateau.
The wolves continue the fight but are surrounded and taken down.
On the Eastern side, an ogre regiment demolishes a unit of reavers...
... and pushes into the perimeter.
Lady Samira's Forces make a push from the South and also enter the Chateau. The Dragon is caught between opposing forces and taken down.
A mob of Goblins enters the northeast tower and begins to rain death into the courtyard.
Lord Perfidion charges into the courtyard but is unsuccessful in clearing the enemy.
At this point we had fought 5 of 6 turns and it appeared likely that the Ogres would take the day. With the most units within the walls of the Chateau (the objective) the most units poised to move in, and neither of the other forces able to contest or surpass this assault we declared an Ogre victory.
With curses aplenty, the few remaining Samiran and Perfidion forces fled the estate as the Ogre hordes ransacked the Chateau. No word yet on whether the Ogres have discovered the hidden vaults and libraries. cIt is equally unclear whether they will remain at the Chateau or will continue their pillaging advance across the countryside.
Post Battle Impressions:
For a first run, I thought the game played out quite well. Though the end result made an invader victory seem inevitable I think that if I had played more tactically and moved the Perfidian reinforcements directly to the Chateu the defenders could have had a fighting chance.
Mike said: I loved the scenario! It was a great change from a standard straight up battle. It was a great scenario for when three players show up. Not only was assaulting a ‘fortified’ area a good play, but having your secondary forces come on later provided some interesting strategy choices.
Despite this glowing review, I think there are a couple of places for improvement. First, the size of the forces involved should be shrunk. There was something of a traffic jam with Ogres on the eastern flank and I think smaller forces would be a better solution than reducing the amount of terrain. With a 3-player game, reducing the points of the attackers from 2000 to 1500 might have sped up play a bit.
Secondly, shrinking the footprint of the Chateau -especially if shrinking the size of forces involved- could make the fight a bit more difficult for the invaders. Even with reinforcements, at the current size, the Defenders are hard-pressed to completely occupy their own home. Another option for a game that plays even quicker might be to reduce the attackers to 1200 points each and the Defenders to 1600 while shrinking the footprint of the Chateau even further.
An additional point worth considering -though it might not be a necessary improvement- is that having the defenders' reinforcements enter from what is essentially the southern attackers flank encourages the defender to engage the southern attacker rather than to reinforce the Chateau. There is no such dynamic at play for the eastern attacker, so they are likely to have an easier time concentrating their forces for an attack on the Chateau. I'm undecided whether to leave this aspect of the scenario alone as simply a tactical choice for the defending player or whether to equalize things by moving the reinforcement entry point for the defender to the northwest corner.
All in all, a good time was had by all and even with a quickly assembled scenario the experience reinforced to me how much more I enjoy a well-conceived game with logical terrain arrangement and meaningful objectives. Especially compared to the generic layouts and objective counters that seem to be the common to wargames these days.
It is my hope that these kinds of narrative scenarios can be common in our upcoming campaign even as the stakes are a bit higher than in this one-off battle.