OC in Middle Earth Play Test AAR

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Stewart
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2014 8:13 pm

OC in Middle Earth Play Test AAR

Post by Stewart » Fri Aug 28, 2015 8:33 pm

The other night I was looking for a distraction; and I decided to give Open Combat a go as I’ve had these rules for a long time, but haven’t had a chance actually try them out. I got the rules for historical and low fantasy skirmishes, so I decided to use my LOTR stuff as I haven’t used them in awhile. I think of LOTR as low fantasy, especially the books. Wizards aren’t running around throwing lightening bolts everywhere and an undead wraith on a flying lizard is a really big deal and not ho-hum.
My thoughts on Warband construction:
The way of stating up your warband is OC is really simple and I found this refreshing and..somewhat troublesome. Because nothing is set and there are no boundaries, it can be hard to nail down what are appropriate values for what you are trying to represent. For example; I wanted a figure to be able to withstand one round of “average” combat (taking 1 or 2 hits) but be vulnerable after that. So I decided on 3 for FORT . other values I just picked because they looked right to me: MIN 2 and SPD 4. In regards to SPD; 4 seemed right as it made it that a model couldn’t engage in one activation in the ‘confrontation’ set up and if something was slower it could be 3 or even 2. These then became my average humanoid stats.
In regards to ATK and DEF; instead of picking values I thought more about what dice I wanted to have in my combats. I wanted most attacks to be 2d6, attacks against heavy armored foes to be 1d6; heroes and monsters to use 3d6 versus henchmen but 2d6 versus each other… so these number all just had to interact to produce the right combats. It took some time, but overall I felt it was a fun process. And came out pretty good; the good forces lead by Faramir and his buddy Damrod had a mix of armored warriors and light rangers and the evil forces has some orcs with a somewhat dangerous Uruk and lead by a nasty orc named Naarl and a Troll. The troll throws 3 dice versus everyone and gets 1 back at him (unless folks gang up). However I could do this because I was making both warbands. If I had just made one in isolation then there could be balance problems.
Anyway, here are the stats; I also made large warbands bc my ultimate goal is to use this as a 4 player convention game; and to me skirmish level is around 10 models. I then played with some abilities until both warbands were 255 points. Almost double the amount recommended.
Good:
Ranger: SPD 4 ATK 5 DEF 4 FORT 3 MIN 2 Bow, Spear/HW (as modeled) x 5 models
Damrod: SPD 4 ATK 6 DEF 4 FORT 4 MN 2 Bow, sword (HW), Sure Shot – is an extra good shot , counts as crossbow
Minas Tirrith Warrior: SPD 3 ATK 5 DEF 6 FORT 3 MIN 2 Shield, sword/spear as modeled, x 5 models
Faramir (leader) SPD 3 ATK 6 DEF 6 FORT 4 MIN 3 shield, sword (HW), Inspire, and Focused Blow
Evil:
Orc SPD 4 ATK 5 DEF 4 FORT 3 MIN 2 sheild, Sword (HW), x 4
Orc SPD 4 ATK 5 DEF 4 FORT 3 MIN 2 spear / halberd (as modeled) x 2
Orc SPD 4 ATK 5 DEF 3 FORT 3 MIN 2 Bow, HW, x 2
Uruk: SPD 4 ATK 7 DEF 5 FORT 3 MIN 2 Furious assult, HW
Naarl (leader) SPD 4 ATK 7 DEF 5 FORT 4 MIN 2 shield, HW, Shield bash
Troll SPD 4 ATK 13 DEF 6 FORT 7 MIN 3 Group fighter (counts as double handed weapon), intimidate
Game was set up; on a 3.5 x 3.5 table just because that was the size of my kitchen table, in the future, slightly smaller would be better. Because I dislike bows with lazer scopes on them (I shoot through this doorway and through that hole in the wall to hit the model on the other side), I added 1 abstraction; shooting through a ruin required a obscured target roll and provided hard cover (there were stone ruins after all). Shooting from a ruin was normal rules and depended on line of sight.
Here is the board set up:
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Other side:
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I rolled for scenario and deployment and got the Open combat scenario and corner deployment. In the beginning there were a lot of “with me” moves just to gets things going at a good pace. The good side had 5 models that could shoot, so they did a lot of it.
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One orc finds a piece of hazardous terrain, and ends up prone, costing the evil side initiative and letting the good get off more shots..
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Faramir leads some men toward the tower ruins, but an ranger rolls a 1 for his obscured shot, loosing initiative.
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The leader Naarl is hit by an arrow, so he courageously hides behind some fellow orcs..
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This is bad news for the orc in front of him…
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Actually what happened is that the orc in front was hit with a ‘knock back’ result but did not have the room retreat as Naarl was right behind him. Turns out that this mechanic would come into play an awful lot but is TONS of fun, and a great tactical set up in melee.
As what happens when one side is more shooty, the other side has to run across the board to get them…
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Evil closes in on the ruins..
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The Uruk decides to close with Faramir in the ruins.. only to have a Minas Tirrith (MT) warrior close behind him..
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However the good loose initiative and the uruk turns around and beats back the MT warrior
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Who is ganged up on by other orcs, making use of the tactic of the tactic of blocking the knock back..and slain..
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And the fight rages around the tower, with the orcs now loosing initiative..
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It’s hard to describe fights blow by blow, and honestly boring to read, so now I’ll focus on some highlights. But let me say, that open combat provides a very fun swirling melee where shields, weapons, and facing is important.
Nearby, the troll who has rolling on the monster / mount table every turn and sometimes only got one action, finally closes with two MT warriors using 2 actions, confident that it will be able to attack next turn. Tactical choice! The MT warriors only throw 1d6 for each attack, so they could each throw 2 for a total of 4d6 one at a time, or use a group attack to roll two at once. I thought ‘no brainer’ 4d6 is more than 2…
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On the first attack a 1 is rolled costing the good side initiative!
The troll swings back, counting as a double handed weapon, and scores a Major hit and a knock back, scooting the MT warriors back 4”.
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Meanwhile Faramir charges and slays the Uruk
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Unfortunately, Naarl works hiw way behind Faramir as he is fighting an orc. He is surrounded! Next turn Faramir plans to first attack the orc and then spin around and attack Naarl, but rolls a double 1 loosing initiative! And then the evil presence of the ring must have been close, because Naarl rolls 3d6 because he is attacking from behind, and gets a fantastic result…
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Major hit = 2 wounds because the knock back is blocked by the orc in front, minor hit is one more wound, and knock back result is yet another wound totaling 4, killing Faramir…
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Closing shot:
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Naarl goes looking for more victims…
The battle would of continued as both warbands were not that close to breaking, actually I think evil was worse off, but it was getting late so I decided to pack it in. the game only took longer because: I was using large warbands, I had a large table, and the good side was more shooty so the evil had to cross the board to get to them…things I would change next time.. otherwise the game played very quickly and smooth.
I really like the game, especially when the warbands got into melee, and thought it really had the- man- to- man –swirling- mess-a-blow-can-come-from-anywhere feel to it. I was also surprised about how many times initiative turned over due to a roll of 1. Really makes you think when in your activation sequence you want to risk rolling just 1 die, and in combat the ability to roll more dice and choose one is great. The challenging part of the game is the warband construction, but probably because it’s not as simple as pay X amount of points per Y model plus and minus some abilities. Just takes a little more time. for next time I will tweek the warbands some and bring it to the club and try it with 4 players.

fransotto
Posts: 259
Joined: Tue May 19, 2015 10:58 pm

Re: OC in Middle Earth Play Test AAR

Post by fransotto » Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:36 pm

I wrote a long replay but it was lost :(

Anyway some quick comments;
Tactical choice! The MT warriors only throw 1d6 for each attack, so they could each throw 2 for a total of 4d6 one at a time, or use a group attack to roll two at once. I thought ‘no brainer’ 4d6 is more than 2…
Hehe, the risk of roll a "turn over" on 4x 1d6 is like 52% chance, rolling on 2d6 (combined action) is like 3%...
A small note about the fight with the troll. One beauty of OC is the way you have to think "ahead". As far as I can see one MT warrrior is equipped with spear and another one with sword. In the middle there is also a bow man. All the good guys and the troll is SPD 4. A spear guy should never be able to positioned in such way he could be attacked (thats the point with spear, keep him 1" from the corner of the wall for example). Once the troll enter the ruin he is forced to attack only the swordsman and if the swordsman is forced back he will be forced back in such way any follow up action from the troll will result in range of 2" from the bowman (giving the bowman 2+ in ATK and 2dice in ATK against the troll) or/and in reach of backstabbing from the spear (giving the spear man 2xATK rear facing).

Step 1
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Step 2
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Well, anyway thanks for the report and I am looking forward to read the report from the club! :)
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Quote Yuma; probably not if you follow rules as written.

but i say, do it anyway ;)

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ST_Carl
Site Admin
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Re: OC in Middle Earth Play Test AAR

Post by ST_Carl » Mon Aug 31, 2015 12:54 pm

Great report and fantastic photos Stewart!

I was really interested to see you using a randomiser to build your stats as I've included a little section for producing random profiles as part of the additional content in the book (it's a bit of a bonus content for players that like to play solo/pilot both warbands when opponents are hard to come by).

Playing on an expanded tabletop is also something I've added a few guidelines on.

I can understand you saying you're not a fan of laser-scoped bowmen in tabletop games, it can be quite cinematic but at other times it can feel a bit odd. One way to avoid the odd-feeling shooting through window spaces in ruins is to make the call (when discussing terrain with your opponent before a game) that the ruins are blocking terrain for line of sight unless a model is standing within 1" of a window/doorway in which case they can see/shoot at targets beyond. Discussing terrain is one of the most important stages of pregame setup in any game (in my opinion) and really helps to set the tone of the encounter.

As an aside, I remember when I used to play 40k regularly I almost always discussed with opponents how we treated the terrain before a game (I preferred a more literal approach to terrain, so going through doors and climbing ladders etc). I had one memorable experience where I turned up late, was very tired and forgot to have this conversation. In my head I always treated ruined building as impassable to vehicles but my Ork oppo deployed a load of battlewagons directly behind buildings then proceeded to drive straight through them. My initial deployment was then exposed as being woefully poor for the ensuing game as I'd anticipated the routes the vehicles would take around the terrain not through it... :lol:

With regards to your comment relating to balance between warbands when building in isolation Open Combat has been written to account for an anything goes environment so you should find that it runs fine. It's certainly been fine in our experience.

You may encounter situations where someone brings a warband built in a particular fashion which could be difficult to face due to the way you have constructed your warband. For example a warband with a heavy emphasis on MIN related abilities facing a warband with low MIN stats across all models (so relatively easy to influence). But in these circumstances it's what you do with what you have that will make the biggest difference in the outcome not the profiles of the opposing warbands. If a warband has a lot of Renown in the MIN stats then every model taken out will have a bigger impact on the Break Point. You'll find concentration of force has it's virtues when facing these kind of opponents in particular.

From my perspective it's one of the great strengths of Open Combat that taking things to extremes in both individual model construction and overall warband construction tends to be a double-edged approach. It can be very effective or very risky depending on how well your opponent plays regardless of what they have constructed.

Like any game - the more you play the more depth you discover as situational experience is gained and new approaches become apparent.

I'm really pleased you're enjoying Open Combat, the swirly, back of forth of melee was something I really wanted to achieve so it's particularly good to see that was your experience. :)

Stewart
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2014 8:13 pm

Re: OC in Middle Earth Play Test AAR

Post by Stewart » Fri Sep 04, 2015 5:32 am

sorry for the late reply!

thanks for the feedback and the replies. i'm going to tweek the warbands some and definitely offer it up as a game at the club (as long as i can make the club meeting).

also, if i'm lucky i'll have a game of OC this weekend but set in the dark ages. it's been fun doing that roster in the meantime.

near the end of that game i really was thinking less of strategy and more on "what see what happens when i do this..."

but yes, enjoying the game very much.

-Stew

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