Saturday, January 25, 2014

"I Predict a Riot...!"

Keith discusses the action in the game with Allen and Mike S. His ancient city tabletop is in the foregound.
My friend Keith was interested in another variant of the "Song of Blades and Heroes" engine from Ganesha Games that we use for many of our skirmish games. It is set in the ancient world and focuses on rioting in cities. So, he assembled a layout of a Mediterranean city from paper mache boxes and various other pieces. Since his ancient figures are still unfinished, Keith dusted off his 1/72 scale plastic medieval ones. Our riot was set in the Outremer -- the Crusader kingdom of the Middle East. A Byzantine tribune is visiting a city to woo the town elders over to supporting them. The Templars and the Normans of Tancred are not happy with this, and would like to capture the tribune -- or at worst, kill him.

There would be four players. Mike S controlled the tribune and his three bodyguards, Joel controlled the town militia, Allen the Templars, and I had the forces of Tancred. The victory conditions hinged on whether the Byzantine tribune made it through the city streets safely to his ship waiting to take him back to Constantinople. Unfortunately for the crusaders, the town militia was on his side, and we lost victory points for killing them. We also hated each other, and I got points for killing Templars, and vice versa. All of us controlled fairly small forces, and the table was also covered in ordinary citizens (who could be drawn into the fight), and a handful of stubborn, vicious mules.
My Normans belonging to Tancred move towards the piers, hoping to reach the docks before the Byzantine tribune escapes
My sergeant and his four men-at-arms left our headquarters and raced to the piers to cut off the tribune from his escape. When we arrived their, the Templars had split their forces to flank the tribune. A couple militia archers had taken pot shots at the Templars. My archer thought it'd be funny to take a shot at the mule and spook him towards the militia, which actually worked to perfection (except that the militia man promptly brained the mule with his bowstave). A couple townsman began to mob the Templar, and one of my men went over to discomfort our rival (not attacking, but giving the Templar a negative modifier in his fight with the townsfolk). The Templar sergeant raced over to help his brother, and they both dispatched the rabble. Unfortunately, they did not see the humor in my ploy and promptly slew my man-at-arms. My archer took offense, and put an arrow in the eye slit of the Templar sergeant, which caused a momentary leaderless panic in the knights. My archer would prove to be my killer in this game, as he racked up several bullseyes on the enemy.
My forces block off the alley leading to the piers. We find a Templar bowman and a militia archer engaged in an archery duel when we arrive.
With Allen's leader out of the fight, I had to step in and press an attack against the Byzantines and militia, or they'd overwhelm him and turn on me. The battle swelled to a four-way scrum in the center of the town. Things began to get hot for the tribune -- so much so he fled to the other side of the board to circle around behind us. When his bodyguards succumbed, the tribune fortunately failed a morale check which gave him a two-move scamper towards the boat. We all raced to the pier, where a lone mule blocked the tribune's path to the pier. With a flurry of blows and curses, the tribune recoiled the mule, opening his path. A templar raced towards him, coming up just short. My sergeant did the same, and also just missed engaging the tribune in combat. On Mike's next move, his tribune activated enough to run down the pier (screaming like a girl, I conjectured) and into the boat. We just missed bagging the bastard, and Mike was the clear winner of the game.
All four players have forces converging on the main square of the city, as things get a bit hot for the Byzantine tribune's bodyguards
It was a fast-moving and fun variant of the system. "Rabble" types are dispatched when beaten in combat, and the modifiers make the archers a bit deadlier in this game. Either way, it'll be worthwhile entertainment to enter the world of riotous cities again, some evening...
This little Byzantine piggy goes to the docks screaming "Weee, weee, weee" all the way home. Templars and Tancredis come up just short in their efforts to snag the tribune.

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