Sunday, August 30, 2015

Darklands learning game

About a year ago I bought into a Kickstarter for Darklands, a dark fantasy miniatures line and game by Mierce Miniatures.  It has some of the best figures on the market. I was especially interested in the large beasts and weird troops featured by the Ysian Drune and Fomoraic factions.  The Ysian Drunes are twisted Celts who worship a demon.  They wear hoods to hide their eyes from all but the beauty of their dark queen, and experiment on the flesh of themselves and beasts to create abominations for war.  Whereas the Fomoraic are followers of Baalor of the Evil Eye, from Celtic legend.  in other words, more bad guys.  The Fomoraic have perhaps the most diverse line of miniatures in the game: humans, beastmen (gabrax( and beast-men of all descriptions, including rhinos, minotaurs, elephants, and more.  

I finally decided to solo the game, the rules for which can be found for free on Mierce's web site. That includes the army lists, which are also free.  The free rules are "Quickstarter" rules, but at 95 pages you can tell it's not a simplistic game.  As I understand it the full rules will have more options for unit orders and for morale effects, among other things.

For this battle I decide that two warbands would be fighting over a small village and its livestock. After all, it takes a lot to feed to monsters of Darklands!  I created two 500 gold (points) armies.

Ysian warband:

War-Drune with War-Chain
5 Ax-Drunes with leader, banner, musician
5 Bow-Drunes
2 Brutes of Ys with armor

Formoraic warbandL

Tain of Baalor
5 Warriors of Baalor with leader, banner, musician
2 Sronax (Rhino-men) with leader and armor

In Darklands, units are given initial order tokens, and activate based off the orders given.  The basic orders are Move, Hold, and Attack.  If you wish to change a unit's orders, they must be given an order by a commander and pass a test to change orders.  Some units, like the Brutes, are "Feral" and can only be given Attack orders.  

Turn 1:  The Ysians won initiative and moved the Bow-Drunes, under Move orders into line of sight of the Sronax.  Their arrows failed to do any damage to the massivc beasts, however.  The Formoaraic advanced with the Warriors supported by the Tain and the Sronax holding a flank themselves.  The Ysians advanced otherwise, with the Feral Brutes running as fast as they can toward the enemy.
Turn 1 dispositions.

Turn 2:  The Ysians won initiative again, and I activated the War Drune to change his unit's orders to Hold for the Bow-drunes and Attack for the Ax-Drunes.  The  Tain of Baalor did the same, giving Attack orders to the Sronax.  Units can attack on Move orders, but I wanted the units to get a charge bonus, which requires attack orders.  All units passed their Orders tests.  The Bow-drunes, on Hold orders, performed a "Volley Fire" attack, giving them double dice.  This time they scored enough hits to but damage on a Sronax, but not enough to stop him!  The Sronax then charged the Ax-Drunes, but only one made it into attack range and failed to kill a single Drune!

Sronax charge!

The Ax-Drunes, having not activated, then retaliated, doing heavy damage with their axes succeeded int killing a Sronax.  Damage in Dark Age accrues to one model at a time, so the prior bow wounds took a toll, and some wounds spilled over to the remaining Sronax.  

On the other flank, the Tain maneuvered to counter-charge the Brutes, who he expected would charge the Warriors.  The Brutes were true to form and charged, slaying a Warrior.  In retaliation, the Warriors a did damage to a Brute, but not enough to reduce its attacks.

Turn 3:  Again the Ysians won initiative.  This was not simply because the War-Drune had a higher authority but because they kept rolling really well!  The War-Drune activated for an attack action and killed the last Sronax!  His War-Chain is a "wound +" weapon, which means any wound dice that make it past the enemy armor are doubled.  In this case they came up aces and did over 50 damage in a turn. Off camera, the War Drune also gives his troops Move orders.  The bow drunes run onto the hill in the center and the Ax-drunes advance.

The Warriors of Baalor attacked and slew a Brute with their Frozen axes.  The used two-handed strikes to obtain the "wound +" advantage at the cost of a few attack dice, and it paid off.

 The remaining Brute struck back and slew another warrior of Baalor!

The Tain of Baalor charges and decapitates the last Brute, eliminating Ysian resistance on his flank!  Again a mighty "wound +" roll put paid to a large creature.

 Turn 4:  Again the Ysians win initiative, and this time the War-Drune maneuvers for advantage, giving his troops Hold (bow) and Attack (ax) orders.  The Tain gives the Warriors of Baalor Attack orders.

 Bow-Drunes loose another volley from the hill!

 Despite their tough plate mail, one Warrior falls to the arrow-hail!

The Warriors charge the Ax-drunes, slaying only one on a rather flubbed roll!

The Ax drunes, fail to scratch the Warriors, however, their superior training and armor confound the blind fanatics.  The Tain then charges and slays two Ax-drunes.

Turn 5:  The Fomoraic finally get initiative and the Warriors finish off the Ax-Drunes with a furious avalane of ice axe blows!

The Tain charges the War Drune and inflicts damage, but will it be enough?

The Bow-Drunes slay another Warrior and the War-Drune misses completely!

Turn 6:  The Ysians get initiative and Hedroc the War-Drune scores a stunning kill on the Tain of Baalor with his War-chain, ending the battle!

Conclusion:  Well, that was an exciting game!  it came down to the wire despite early breaks for teh Ysians, and the Tain of Baalor was no slouch.  Star of the game must be the War-Drune, who skewered both a Sronax and a Tain of Baalor.  The Darklands rules are solid and have a good amount for crunch and detail.  There is also some good strategy in there regarding orders, activation, and )although we didn't see it here) flanking is possible.    I suspect the system could bog down a bit if the games got too large, but I really like the detail and flow of the game.  Looking forward to more as I paint up the rest of my figures!  So, watch this space for more Darklands!

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