Blitzfreeze Campaign Walkthrough Pt.6

A fiery contrail slashes across the winter sky, marking the demise of a Luftwaffe Fw 189 reconnaissance plane, shredded by chattering machine-gun fire from swooping Soviet fighters.

With both engines aflame, the twin-tailed aircraft disappears over the horizon, its passing watched by the straggling body of the retreat column.

An emaciated hauptmann stretches a frayed map over the bonnet of his staff car, attended by Specht and Konigsmann. The senior officer gestures towards the forested horizon and our two heroes move off to mobilize their men with swift kicks and vicious curses.

  • All characters gain +2 ammunition.

Tasked with recovering the film canister and any surviving aircrew, our emaciated protagonists will face a cadre of hard-bitten Siberian veterans. Their squad is composed of:

  • 3x models with submachine guns
  • 1x model with a bolt-action rifle
  • 1x model with a light machine gun

Burning puddles of aviation fuel and soot-blackened panelling litter our battlefield, dominated by the smouldering corpse of the Fw 189. A long furrow of broken ground stretches behind the shattered fuselage, decorated with the crumpled remnants of the aircraft’s twin tails and angular wings.

Snowy pine trees and withered undergrowth press in on the smoking wreckage, unwilling spectators to the hideous carnage.

A blood-spattered arm is draped over the canopy lip, the only sign of the three Luftwaffe crewmen.

The Siberians are already in attendance when our protagonists arrive on the scene, picking through the wreckage in search of any valuable intelligence. Their light machine gunner is concealed behind a fallen log, screened by a tangle of undergrowth.

With Bretz out of commission, the Germans divide into two groups; Konigsmann and Pawlitzki on one flank, Specht and Kraus on the other.

While the others advance in a series of frantic rushes, Kraus settles in behind his MG42 and lays down a withering blanket of fire, stray rounds sparking off the 189’s fuselage as the Siberians scatter.

Falling into a rough line, anchored by the concealed machine gun, the Siberians begin to return fire, forcing Specht to halt his charge just short of the open ground.

With the Siberian’s flank turned, Konigsmann and Pawlitzki attack from the safety of the treeline, catching one unlucky veteran in a deadly crossfire.

With the precision of a well-oiled engine, the Siberians realign to meet the new threat, using a barrage of gunfire and grenades to cover their redeployment.

Taking sustained fire from both flanks drives the Soviets from the clearing, leaving another of their company twitching in a pool of his own blood.

Using a section of fractured tail boom for cover, Specht darts towards the wrecked fuselage, hauling himself up towards the splintered canopy.

Swathed in ammunition belts, shedding spent cartridge cases like a tree in autumn, Kraus makes a break for the wreck but is snatched off his feet by a burst of well-aimed machine gun fire.

With a man down, Konigsmann and Pawlitzki douse the treeline with lead, allowing Specht to snatch a canister of film and dash back towards the relative safety of the broken tail boom.

Supporting the blood-spattered Kraus between them, and the precious cargo safely stowed in an empty satchel, our intrepid crew make their way back towards the straggling bulk of the retreat column.

Resource gains/losses:

  • Specht, Kraus, Konigsmann and Pawlitzki gain +1 stress and exhaustion for participating in the battle.
  • Kraus gains +1 exhaustion for carrying his MG42 into battle.
  • Specht, Kraus, Konigsmann and Pawlitzki gain +1 stress for being under fire for at least two consecutive turns.
  • Specht, Kraus and Konigsmann lose -2 ammunition for firing their automatic weapons.
  • Pawlitzki loses -1 ammunition for firing his rifle.

Kraus was cut down by the enemy machine gunner and must roll 1d100 on the injury table:

  • He is critically injured for 2 hours and gains +1 exhaustion.

The group rolls 3 positive morale dice, scoring 2 successes and reducing everyone’s stress by -2.

Buoyed by their success, the party splits off from the main body of the column, guided by a crumpled map and the word of a local woodsman. This path takes them across a frozen lake. We roll 1d6 for each character:

  • Specht successfully negotiates the treacherous ice.
  • Hobbling on a makeshift crutch, Bretz’s clumsy gait cracks the thin ice and sends him plunging into the frozen water below. He rolls once on the General Winter table and loses his winter clothing. Due to the swift action of his comrades, he escapes any more serious consequences and gains +1 exhaustion.
  • Kraus successfully negotiates the treacherous ice.
  • Pawlitzki successfully negotiates the treacherous ice.
  • Konigsmann dives into the water to save Bretz from a watery grave. He rolls once on the General Winter table and loses his winter clothing. Limbs numbed by icy water, with frostbite setting in, he is critically injured for 3 hours.

Having rejoined the column, our heroes trade the majority of their ammunition supplies to an outbound patrol in exchange for some precious supplies. Shivering around a meagre fire, they share out the meagre rations in an attempt to keep the whole group fighting fit.

As the fire gutters, Specht, Kraus and Pawlitzki must roll on the General Winter table:

  • Specht’s hypothermia rears its ugly head once again. He is critically injured for 5 hours. Addled by the freezing temperatures, he staggers away from the fire and loses his prized submachine gun.
  • Kraus spends the night trying to track down the wandering Specht. The cold saps his strength. He gains +1 exhaustion and can only roll shock dice next battle.
  • Spending the night in a blizzard does Pawlitzki no favours. He gains +1 exhaustion.

For our player action, we’re going to give Bretz’s pistol to the now unarmed Specht. Without any loot or provisions to exchange, we cannot flatout purchase a new weapon for our disarmed officer.

The group advances 13km in an hour, riding on the empty engine deck of a PzIV tank.

Leningrad is now 77km behind our protagonists, and 24 hours have passed since the siege collapsed.

 

Chillcon 2018

For a show entering its second year, Chillcon was an incredible experience – one that does a great service to its organizers and the various traders and clubs that turned out to help put on such a memorable show.

My full write-up will be in Initiative magazine in the next few weeks, but to tide you over until then, I’ll share a few pictures:

 

Free Stuff!

This week, because I’ve been worked half to death at my regular job and ChillCon’s coming up, I haven’t had time to playtest or work on any of my main projects.

So to tide you over until I’ve got some more content, I’d like to share a quick and dirty medieval wargame I wrote a little while back. Click the link below to download a copy for free!

Warlord_ Simple Medieval Battles

Also if you’re at ChillCon in Sheffield this Saturday, I’ll be mooching about with 10% off codes for Blitzfreeze.

Blitzfreeze Campaign Walkthrough Pt.5

The Maultier grinds to a halt, allowing Konigsmann to dismount. His comrades lay supine in the cargo bay, huddled up under coats and blankets. Without supplies, they will all perish.

  • If Konigsmann flees the battlefield, he could become lost for up to 10 hours.

Our opposition for the battle are a patrol of Soviet regulars, shadowing the retreating Germans to identify opportunities for their main force to strike. The patrol is composed of:

  • 2x models with pistols; perhaps an officer and a forward observer.
  • 3x models with bolt-action rifles.

Our mission is:

  • The Soviets are between Konigsmann and vital supplies. To return to the retreat column empty handed would be a betrayal of the highest order. While heavily outnumbered, the doughty NCO hefts his rifle and advances.

The action centres around a pair of lonely hunting cabins – rude buildings of fresh-cut logs and splintered planking. The stout doors hang half-off their hinges, betraying the machinations of other looters. A cluster of outbuildings stand apart from the cabins, surrounded by wrecked furniture and discarded tools.

Thick undergrowth and denuded fruit trees surround the cabins, a rotting cow carcass dissolving into filth amidst the rotting fruit. Beyond the orchard, the anonymous ranks of pine trees encroach on the clearing, providing the perfect cover for the advancing Soviets.

Led by a striding officer, the Soviet patrol fans out across the open ground between the cabins, splitting off to investigate the abandoned buildings. A pair of great-coated privates vanish into the closest hut.

Konigsmann picks his way through the fallen boughs and tangled brush, rifle levelled at the strutting officer. His first shot strikes the man in the chest, bowling over into the mud.

Rifle fire erupts from one the windows, driving the lone German behind a pile of decaying logs.

Splattered with black mud, Konigsmann hauls his bulk away from the log pile, disappearing out of the Soviet line of fire.

The lone German pitches a hand grenade through the shattered window, the explosion blasting the log wall to splinters, eviscerating the Soviet infantrymen sheltering inside.

Darting away from the smoking carnage, Konigsmann ducks into the lee of the second cabin, watching the hapless Soviet conscripts scramble for cover. Rifle rounds shriek off into the snow as the two soldiers beat a hasty retreat.

Konigsmann scrambles through the churned up snow, crashing through the splintered door into the second cabin. A trapdoor in the floor yields some valuable tins of food and a bundle of moth-eaten blankets.

Another volley of poorly-aimed rifle fire chases the Unteroffizier in his rapid dash between the two buildings. Acrid smoke billows through the wrecked doorway, the interior spattered with viscera. Picking through the gory remains yields a string of smoked sausages and a dented hip-flask filled with vodka.

Satisfied with his haul, Konigsmann turns away from the smouldering cabin and the terrified Soviet conscripts. His trip back to the retreat column is thankfully uneventful.

Resource gains/losses:

  • Konigsmann gains +1 stress and exhaustion for participating in the battle.
  • He gains +1 stress for being under fire for more than 2 consecutive turns.
  • He loses -2 ammunition for firing his semi-automatic rifle.
  • His successful search rolls yield +2 provisions and +1 loot.

Thankfully Konigsmann was uninjured and did not flee the battlefield, so we move straight onto the morale phase.

Our NCO’s successful expedition generates 4 morale dice, generating 3 successes, reducing everyone’s stress by -3.

The squad parts company from the Maultier and the frazzled Saller, taking the remainder of the crew’s ammunition and the contents of the half-track’s first aid kit. All characters gain +1 ammunition, Specht gains some Medical Supplies.

Konigsmann swaps the bundle of threadbare blankets for another pack of iron rations to supplement the vodka and sausages squirrelled away inside his great coat. With the harsh warmth of the vodka spreading through his limbs and the greasy sausage filling his empty stomach, Konigsmann recovers 2 exhaustion.

Specht and Kraus spent the last engagement laid up. At this point they reduce their stress and exhaustion by 1d3. Specht reduces both by -2, Kraus by -1.

As night sets in, the cold frosts close in around the makeshift camp. Everyone rolls on the General Winter table.

  • Specht’s hypothermia has abated somewhat, but uncontrollable shivering still wracks his emaciated frame. He gains +1 exhaustion and may only roll shock dice in the next battle.
  • Despite the amputation of his right foot, the black tendrils of frostbite creep up the pale flesh of Bretz’s leg. He is critically injured for 5 further hours.
  • Trudging through the snow under the weight of the machine gun saps Kraus’ strength. He gains +1 exhaustion.
  • Despite his hearty meal, the bitter cold has sapped Konigsmann’s strength. He gains +1 exhaustion.

For our player action this turn, we’re going to generate another character to replace the traumatized Saller. Specht heads off towards the main body of the column, intending to conscript some poor unfortunate into our unhappy band of brothers.

During his march down the straggling tail of trucks, half-tracks and shuffling foot soldiers, Specht finds some Feldgendarms preparing a makeshift gallows at the roadside. Their victim is Jager Helfried Pawlitzki, a dispatch rider from one of the light infantry divisions.

Pawlitzki fell afoul of the lopsided military justice system after some partisans relieved him of some top secret orders. Charged with high treason, Pawlitzki’s brief military career was set to end in a noose until Specht bribed the Oberfeldgendarm to release him on the condition that he find some suitably gruesome end for himself on the battlefield.

With the surly Pawlitzki in tow, the group advances 12km in 5 hours.

Leningrad is now 64km behind our protagonists, and 23 hours have passed since the siege collapsed.

The General – Book Review

In a slight departure from normal wargaming fare, I’m going to take a look at a book that grabbed my attention and what I’ve taken away from it. Please bear with me if I ramble.

The General was published in 1936, penned by the great C.S Forester of Hornblower fame. Apocryphally purchased by Adolf Hitler for his generals and hangers-on, this book serves as an object lesson for the perils of high command. It follows the meteoric rise of one Herbert Curzon from humble subaltern to lieutenant-general, taking in the bloodiest battles of the first world war along the way.

Curzon is a cavalryman, born and bred – deeply mistrustful of anything that deviates from the strategies laid down by the great worthies of the Napoleonic period. He is a man out of time, wholly unsuited for warfare involving magazine-fed rifles, machine guns and quick-fire artillery.

As he rises through the illustrious ranks of the British general staff, he becomes more and more detached from the reality at the front. He becomes obsessed with the application of even greater forces, convinced that each new offensive will shatter the German lines and pave the way to victory.

The book provides an interesting portrait of staff officers in the 20th century – something that I was wholly unfamiliar with prior to reading. This world of map tables and field telephones is wholly detached from the brutal realities of the front line, where shot and shell fall like spring rain.

It paints a picture of the prevailing opinions of the time, and the assumptions made by senior officers untroubled by the relentless march of technology, and the impacts that it would have on their profession.

When it was first published in 1936, the message of this book was obvious – those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. While explicitly stated as a work of fiction, with no greater aspirations than to entertain the readership of a popular author, the General gives us a chilling insight into the mindset of the British high command and their unsuitability for the travails of mechanized warfare.

I found the insights into high command particularly compelling – and while not necessarily directly applicable to game design, the book gave an interesting perspective on the rigours of command and control at a divisional and army group level.

Most wargames give players some degree of omniscience and does very little to model the difficulty of transmitting orders between units, and the transfer of accurate information up and down the chain of command.

Making an effort to represent the fog of war and the problems of command in a wargame may add an interesting dynamic to play – introducing an element of unpredictability and presenting new challenges for players to overcome.

Blitzfreeze Campaign Walkthrough Pt.4

The Soviet attack continues, pressing hard on the German flank, threatening to sever the line in multiple places. Despite their exhaustion, our heroes are called upon to throw back the Soviet hordes once again.

  • Every character adds +2 ammunition to their profile.

Next, we roll to determine the opposition for the battle:

  • We’ll be facing more partisans, swarming ahead of the main Soviet battle line to interdict the German retreat and prevent them from reaching Narva.

We’re facing:

  • 3x models with sub machine guns.
  • 2x models with bolt-action rifles.

The mission is:

  • The leader of an infamous partisan band has taken to the battlefield, emerging from his woodland lair to lead his men to glorious victory. Communication intercepts have pinpointed his location and out characters are dispatched to bring him back alive for interrogation and eventual execution.

Our battlefield is an anonymous patch of Baltic forest. Ranks of pine trees march off into the distance, root systems cracking the frozen ground. Fallen trunks and sparse undergrowth surrounds a rude network of foxholes and fighting pits, marking the partisan’s fall-back positions.

A venerable Maxim machine gun sits in the central position, screened by dead brush and leaking sandbags. A fur-wrapped partisan attends the gun, busying himself with the can feeding water into the gun’s jacket.

Crouched in the gun-pit, pouring over a crumpled map is the mission’s target – a veritable giant clad in a patched Soviet uniform with a captured MP-40 hanging over one shoulder. The remaining partisans huddle for warmth around a smouldering campfire.

The Maxim gunner kicks out at the gun’s rusty tripod, eliciting a squeal from the poorly maintained mount. He straightens up from his concealed position, silhouetted by the campfire to his front.

A rifle cracks and the partisan is blasted across the gun pit, blood spraying from a severed artery.

Konigsmann leaps from his makeshift hide in the lee of a fallen tree, dashing across the undergrowth to the shelter of the next tree.

The remainder of the squad follow behind in a ragged vee formation, anchored by Kraus’ MG-42 on the left flank.

Strings of blazing tracer rip across the frozen forest, kicking up plumes of shredded vegetation and loose earth around the partisan’s campfire. The partisans break under the hail of bullets, their ragged formation disintegrating as they scatter into the trees.

Bretz and Saller thunder after them with flashing bayonets fixed to their careworn rifles. One partisan falls, skewered by flashing blades.

The hulking leader turns to face his attackers, hosing them with long bursts of submachine gun fire. Saller drops, stitched with gory bullet wounds, leaving Bretz to face down the mission target alone.

Veteran of a hundred actions, the doughty pioneer is felled by a illiterate partisan with a notched pickaxe handle and rusty SMG, his helmet caved-in and face split open by a rain of rage-fuelled blows.

Spurred on by their leader’s display of brutality, the remaining partisans rally and push the weary Germans back in fits and starts.

An inopportune jam disables the vital MG-42 and the band retires, their mission incomplete.

Resource gains/losses:

  • Everyone gains +1 stress and exhaustion for participating in the battle.
  • Bretz and Saller gain +2 exhaustion for the brawls they participated in.
  • Everyone gains +1 stress for seeing a friendly unit go out of action.
  • Specht, Kraus and Konigsmann gain +1 stress for bailing.
  • Specht, Kraus and Konigsmann lose -2 ammunition for firing their automatic or semi-automatic weapons.
  • Bretz and Saller lose -1 ammunition for firing their rifles.

Bretz and Saller must both roll on the injury table after the battering they took at the hands of the partisan leader. Saller is critically injured for an hour and gains +1 exhaustion.

Bretz’s arm is broken in multiple places and is beyond saving. He is permanently injured for the remainder of the campaign, may only use one-handed weapons and suffers -2 to all future brawl rolls. Additionally, he is critically injured for 4 hours.

When our blood-spattered, bone-tired soldiers reach the retreat column, Specht, Kraus and Konigsmann must roll on the Battlefield Discipline table for failing to complete their mission.

Somehow, their combined account of the partisan leader’s ferocity and the strength of the opposition convinces the officer in charge of their reliability and continued usefulness. All 3 gain +1 stress, but suffer no further consequences.

We roll 3 negative morale dice, but thankfully this does not generate any additional effects.

Upon their return to the retreat column, the squad finds a Maultier half-track bogged down in the rasputitsa, the exhausted crew gunning the engine in a futile waste of time and gasoline. With the aid of some elbow grease and Saller’s expert knowledge, the vehicle is swiftly back on the road, with the squad bedded down in the truck-bed. All characters lose -1 Stress and -1 Exhaustion. The party also rolls 4d10 when determining distance and picks the highest result.

Saller, having relieved the unconscious Bretz of some gold watches and a bag of valuable dental fillings, manages to barter some iron rations from the Maultier’s crew. He distributes them as evenly as possible, to give the squad a fighting chance.

The half-track’s canvas cover provides little protection from the biting wind. Everyone must roll on the General Winter table.

  • Specht’s hypothermia has not abated, he spends the night shifting in and out of delirium, raving for his distant family in far-off Germany. He is critically injured for 4 hours and loses his pouch full of smoke grenades, cast from the moving truck in a fit of feverish rage.
  • Bretz, weakened by extreme blood loss, watches helplessly as his exposed flesh turns blackens as frostbite sets in. Having lost a boot in the previous battle, he loses the use of his foot to the insidious cold. He is critically injured for an additional 3 hours.
  • The travails of looking after his wounded comrades and the biting cold have sapped Kraus’ strength. He gains +1 exhaustion.
  • Saller exchanges places with the Maultier’s driver, nursing the heavy vehicle through the mud and snow in an unheated cab. He gains +1 exhaustion.
  • Konigsmann spends the night huddled in one corner of the truck bed, with shaking hands and chattering teeth. He may only roll shock dice in the next battle and gains +1 exhaustion.

Without the use of his arm, Bretz’s heavy rifle is completely useless to him. He exchanges it for a well-oiled Mauser sidearm owned by one of the truck drivers.

Specht and Kraus elect to stay with the Maultier crew, spending the next few hours laid up in the relative safety of the half-track. Next turn, they may recover up to 1d3 stress and exhaustion.

At this point, we have been unable to reduce Saller’s stress and he suffers a mental break, rocking back and forth at his position in the truck cab, refusing to return to the battlefield. He is removed from the campaign permanently. It is likely he remained with the Maultier for the remainder of the retreat.

In the back of the Maultier, our heroes travel a further 17km in 4 hours.

The group has travelled 59km in total. 18 hours ago, they were still nestled in their fixed positions outside Leningrad.

With a Turned Thumb Playtest 1

The scene: A provincial ampitheatre somewhere in the Iberian countryside. Terracotta roofed houses cluster around the arena’s wooden walls, the crude logs of the main entrance opening out onto a bustling forum, thronged with market traders and overloaded shoppers.
Blue and red awnings shield the crowd from the scorching sun, as the opening act squares off on the sand.

Before the main event – a beast fight where the region’s greatest gladiator squares off against an angry rhinoceros, the organizer has staged a comedy match.

A murmillo, wrapped in heavy leathers and chain mail, is going to fight an unarmoured boxer, with only his iron-shod fists for both offense and defense.

AAR Profiles

To make up for the disparity in points, we’ve given the Cestus a couple of skills to make up for it. Mighty Blow allows the fighter to deliver a knock-out punch, at the cost of their stamina. Brawler reduces the penalty for fighting against longer reach weapons.

The gladiators start facing each other, approximately 12″ apart. 6″ behind each fighter is an exit, barred by an iron-studded door.

The turn begins by each gladiator rolling 1d6 to determine which will act first. The Murmillo rolls a 1, and the Cestus rolls a 4.

When activated, a gladiator may take 2 simple actions or 1 complex action.

The Cestus takes a movement action, moving 4″ towards his opponent. For his final action, he chooses to adopt an aggressive stance adding +1 dice to all attack actions and reducing the dice added to parry actions by -1.

The Murmillo changes his facing by 90 degrees and moves 4″, in attempt to circle around his opponent and attack his unprotected flank.

There’s no need to make any morale checks at this stage, so we move straight onto
discovering how the crowd are favouring our combatants.

Both gladiators make a Guts check with at TN 1.

The Cestus gets 3 dice and rolls 1 success. He doesn’t gain any favour from the crowd.

The Murmillo gets 3 dice and rolls 2 successes. He gains 1 point of favour. This can be spent to add +1 dice to a morale check, or +1 dice to any combat action or remain on their feet if a combat attack would incapacitate them.

With this step complete, we start the next turn.

Both gladiators roll of again, with the Cestus taking action first.

The Cestus adjusts his facing, pointing towards the circling Murmillo, and taunts his heavily armoured opponent. Both gladiators make a guts check – if the Cestus scores more successes, the gladiator must charge him next turn.

The Cestus gets 2 successes to the Murmillo’s 1.

The Murmillo activates next and is forced to immediately charge. He rolls 1d6 and adds his movement of 4″. He rolls a 1 and moves 5″ towards the Cestus. Because of his encumbering gear, he adds 5 exhaustion.

Combined with the 2 he accrued last time, the Murmillo has a total of 7 exhaustion.

If his exhaustion ever exceeds his endurance, the Murmillo must reduce his combat strength by the distance between the two.

With no morale checks to make, both gladiators roll to accrue favour, this time at TN 2.

The Cestus gains 1 favour, and the Murmillo gains none.

Both gladiators roll to see who acts first, with the Murmillo finally seizing the initiative.

With his opponent within easy striking distance, he launches a charge as a complex action. He accrues an additional 5 exhaustion, pushing him over his endurance threshold. This will reduce his combat strength by 3 unless it can be reduced.

The charge initiates a close combat with the Cestus. As the combat begins, we have the Cestus with a combat strength of 9, against the tired Murmillo’s 5.

We’ve got to consider the difference in weapons between the two fighters – the Murmillo’s gladius is an average reach weapon, while the reach of the Cestus’ fists is extra short. Normally, this would impose a -2 combat strength to the Cestus’ combat strength.

The iron cestus reduces this penalty by 1, and the brawler skill reduces it further, meaning that the Cestus begins the combat with 8 combat strength.

As the Murmillo engaged from the front, he gains the benefit of his heavy armour and large scutum. The armour allows him to re-roll 2 successes from any close combat action, and the scutum confers +2 dice to all parry actions.

Both gladiators pick a card from their close combat deck; the Cestus chooses an attack action, utilizing his mighty blow score to add an additional 3 dice to his Skill at Arms score.

The Murmillo unwisely chooses to feint, expecting his wild charge to put his opponent on the defensive.

Both gladiators reveal their cards simultaneously and compare the interaction between their choices.

The Cestus makes an independent skill at arms test, adding the 3 dice from his mighty blow skill. This will cause him to gain +3 exhaustion, but means he rolls 8 dice.

As the Murmillo chose to feint, he does not test and must reduce his combat strength by the number of successes the Cestus rolls.

The Cestus rolls 5 successes, which would immediately incapacitate the hapless Murmillo. He chooses to spend his favour point to remain on his feet with 1 combat strength.

As the Murmillo lost 5 points of combat strength, he must make a morale check at TN 5. Despite succeeding on all 3 dice, he breaks and dashes for the nearest exit.

Because he has broken, he reduces his combat strength by half in any close combats and will continue running on subsequent turns unless he can rally.

Following his blistering assault, the Cestus chooses to charge again, engaging his terrified opponent from the rear. This would normally reduce his combat strength by -2, but since the Murmillo is already at 1, it cannot be reduced any further.

As he’s been attacked from the rear, the Murmillo gains no benefit from his armour or shield.

The Cestus chooses to feint, expecting his opponent to shelter behind his heavy scutum. The Murmillo, in a vain attempt to collect his shattered strength, chooses to parry.

The interaction between the feint and parry means that the Murmillo does not test, while the Cestus reduces his combat strength by the number of successes rolled on an agility test.

He scores 2 successes, incapacitating the Murmillo with another stinging blow.

With the resolution of the close combat, the turn ends. As he is incapacitated, the Murmillo may not attempt to gain favour. The Cestus tests against TN 3, scoring 2 successes, thus not gaining any favour.

Both sides roll for initiative again. The incapacitated Murmillo wins the roll-off.

Incapacitated gladiators may only move half their listed move, so the Murmillo crawls 2″ across the sand, and then attempts to recover. He must make a toughness test at TN 1, and fails to score any successes.

As he has failed his recovery test, he remains in his incapacitated state until he can test again the following turn. His toughness score reduces by 1.

The Cestus makes a simple move action to move into base contact with the fallen Murmillo, and attempts a Coup de Grace. As he has a higher favour, there is no need to test to see if the crowd protests.

He must make a skill at arms test opposed by the fallen Murmillo’s remaining toughness. He scores 5 successes and bludgeons his opponent’s blood-spattered face until it is reduced to shattered fragments.

The bout is over.

Learning Points:

  • It’s too difficult for gladiators to gain favour after the first couple of turns. Initially this was to represent the crowd getting bored if a fight dragged on too long. The rules need to allow gladiators to gain favour throughout the match, beyond the scope of special stances and the Ham it Up action.
  • The toughness test to get back up after being incapacitated is far too easy – currently it is based on the number of turns the gladiator has been incapacitated. On the first turn, this makes it a TN 1 test. As most gladiators have a Guts of 3 or more, the base TN of this test needs to be adjusted.
  • There needs to be a way for gladiators to recover their combat strength outside of combat, as a single close combat could decide the outcome of the battle.
  • Mighty Blow is a hugely powerful skill for unarmoured fighters as they have a naturally high endurance – meaning a single use of the skill has no negative impacts but can instantly change the balance of a close combat.
  • Exhaustion needs to be balanced further – it is punishingly debilitating to heavily armoured fighters at present.

I’m going to go away and make some adjustments to the rules. I’ll run another bout with the revised set in the next week and we’ll see where things develop.

I hope this has been an interesting read and you’ll follow along with the game’s development.