Friday, 5 October 2012

Before going Back to the Badlands...

Earlier this year I ran a campaign based around the Blood in the Badlands book. Now the campaign went fairly well though there were a few creases that we had to iron out partway through that, were I to repeat the process, I would resolve BEFORE starting the campaign. I am considering running the campaign again next year, so thought I would take the time to list the clarifications I think are useful before starting, and the interpretations I intend to use when it comes time to run it again. If any of you are considering your own badlands campaign, by all means steal my ideas and use them - most of them are not groundbreaking, just the best consensus that was debated out after running into a quandry...


The Badlands in all it's glory
The first thing to clarify is the way it works. Each player declares an enemy and an ally. These can be discussed openly among the group or secretly with backstabbing aplenty. From experience however, it is far best to pair up. So our two sets of High Elves and two sets of Dark Elves being allies made perfect sense. Likewise it would make perfect sense to have them declare each other as enemies. We almost managed this, but one of the dark elves took a distinct disliking to my humans and declared them his enemies instead. With me having two enemies I was at a distinct disadvantage - each time someone rolled a "screw over your enemy" roll on the random events table I was twice as likely as anyone else to be suffering! We also had an odd number of players - I would definitely suggest getting 8 players involved. More wouldn't really fit into the map, less will be lacking something, and an odd number adds it's own problems. So 8 is the magic number for this campaign.

Random Events

Speaking of those "Screw your enemy" random event rolls, some clarification is needed for the random events table. Most of them are self explanatory, but there are a few that caused some headaches.

21, 24, 25, 26, 56 - where all these refer to your enemy, it is your DECLARED enemy.
41, 42 - in this case the "Enemy" is your direct opponent for the next battle
23 - a rival refers to any other player, except your ally.
53 - any opponent except your ally, picked before armies are moved.

55 - the map is totally free, you pick a location to fight and the army to fight it. Move the required army to the desired location once all other armies have been moved and the armies are challenging each other
54 - Declare the opponent. Then armies move. When it comes to challenges, you pick the opponent they can fight from ANY of the opponents they are eligible to fight. This overrides the normal priority list, however they must still be theoretically able to fight them. If they rolled 55, then you can make them challenge ANYONE, ANYWHERE. If they have already accepted a challenge, you can give them a second fight. However, they do not HAVE to fight this. They do however have to fight this before they could fight any other fight

The way we played it each player had to accept the first challenge issued to them. If they wished to play further games that was entirely down to them but they were no longer duty bound to, as most of our members only had time for one game per week. If the person at the top of your priority list already had a game lined up and didn't want to fight a second game, you stepped down to the next highest person on your fight priority list.

Fortification Saves

After seeing how nasty a denial area could be set up around Barak Varr I have decided to implement a policy on fortification saves. Different fortification saves DO stack (therefore a city +2 and a fortress +1 effecting the same tile would give a combined +3) however they have to be different... so two adjacent fortresses would only provide a +1 bonus. This will hopefully give people reason to upgrade some of their fortresses to cities in order to provide better security for their empires. It will also make lands captureable, but not a guaranteed win.

Racial Rules

Whilst some of the racial rules are better than others, I think the main standout winner was the Dark Elves ability to add to their mine rolls for victories. This set one of our players up on a winning streak that kept getting more and more spoils and so he constantly had a larger army than his opponents. As such I think that while they can still have the +1 for victories, a natural roll of a 1 will still collapse the mine. In effect, rolling a 1 when you have won a game as Dark Elves means you get the results for 1 + 2 - you get some last spoils but then the mine is exhausted.

Sieges

Some basic rules to be added in - Ogres (and other monstrous infantry) count as three models for siege raiding party purposes, otherwise they just steamroller everything. Cavalry dismount and fight on foot, their mounts do not take part. Monsters can man walls and towers, whilst chariots cannot. An attacking unit that loses against a wall/tower section does NOT take a break test as the book would suggest, it merely steps back as the rulebook states for assaulting a building.

In the interests of fairness, the gate section must be placed parallel to the defending players table edge. The following diagrams explain why...

 The above example is how the books authors envisaged the castle being deployed. It's central, it's fair, and the relief force has an even chance wherever it shows up.
 Now the example above is a little more tactical - the defender is hoping to hell his relief force arrives on his right flank or at the least on the opposite edge. If it turns up on his left flank it's a lost cause. However at least with this scenario the attacker can mass his forces in front of the gate and try to either take the gate or at the very least make sure there is no way past for the enemy relief force.
The example above is a major gamble but if it pays off, and there's a 1/3 chance it will, there is very little the attacker can do to stop it. He would have to march units down the narrow corridor (and whilst I left the full 8" deployment zone in this case, arguably someone needs only leave room to deploy their squad - with careful positioning of the tower and gate sections you could make the gap in front of the gate inaccessible to all but flyers.) to prevent the relief force arriving uncontested in the castle for the auto win. Yes, 2/3 of the time this plan won't work, but it seems such a silly way for a siege game to end 1/3 of the time... oh no, the enemy broke our siege... oh, wait, we didn't surround the castle, we didn't even block the gate, we just attacked the rear wall... hardly seems plausible does it?

As such I plan to implement a rule stating that the gate section must be in parallel to the defending players table edge. Similarly, the castle must be wholly within the defenders table HALF... no forming a wall line 8" from the attackers board edge and claiming the auto win!

Siege Equipment

We found it best to limit the hellgate to two per siege, and the boiling oil to one per unit. Towers can be upgraded once only, but the same upgrade can be given to more than one tower.

Siege Storm of Magic Games

When the fickle flying fortress determined that siege games would also be storm of magic games, I found the best thing to do was to play it as a storm of magic blowing up around a siege - as such the siege mission takes priority, the storm just makes things more interesting. Therefore...
  • All defending forces (except the relief force) must be deployed within the castle. 
  • If a fulcrum is outside the castle, it is either in no mans land or the hands of the enemy.
  • Fulcrums are placed one per quarter as per usual. If the defender wants two fulcrums he must build a castle big enough to force there to be two fulcrums inside it. If he wishes to defend a small castle in order to concentrate his forces, then he must accept that he will start with just one fulcrum.
Special Characters

We ruled that special characters were allowed but that they were unable to be improved and once dead were irreplaceable. This made the prospect risky - while a basic general that lost his magic sword could potentially find a glitter of gold that would replace it, once Lokhir Fellheart lost the red blades he was, quite frankly, a bit pants. I found this was quite useful and would happily repeat this for the next time.

Magic Items

At the start of the campaign each player has the contents of the rulebook and their army book magic item lists in their armoury. If a named character was equipped with an item, it was checked out of their armoury and could not be used by anyone else. If lost, it was gone permanently. If you gain an item off a scenario, it was added to the armoury with the cost of "free" whereas if you gained an item from another player (whether it be lost or bribery) then the item is added to your armoury with it's attendant cost. This does give the advantage that you could end up with items not normally accessible to your race, or potentially be able to have two of one rulebook item in your army. Having a spare Crown of Command is always handy.

And Finally...

The final piece of advice I have for anyone wishing to run this campaign is to do what we did, which is to have the opening week be campaign steps 1-5, with 6-9 the following week. Thus each week we had a process of 6-9 followed by 1-5, as the earlier numbered steps are basically determining who you will fight next week and what bonuses you can have, whilst 6-9 is fighting the battles and resolving the outcomes. It's a fun campaign and I do intend to give it another go - not that our first one wasn't a success, but I think the first month we spent a lot of time arguing about rules interpretations. I wish to do it again without that.

In the meantime, I should probably plan some kind of 40k campaign. Sadly I couldn't really see an easy way to adapt Blood in the Badlands mechanics to the 40k universe, so will have to come up with something from scratch. If I think of something I'll let you all know...

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