Sunday, May 20, 2012

Testing: Knights On The Hunt

Long Distance Hunters, Carl Brenders
Sandwyrm here. With another series of pictures from my movement testing. I was wondering how long it would take for a small unit of Knights to catch an Imperial Army squad. But I found a few interesting things along the way that really have me enthused about this method of movement.

For testing, I set up a table that represents about the level of terrain density that I want to shoot for. It' also has a sense of place, in that it has a road checkpoint in the middle. Some of it is fully LOS-blocking and some of it isn't (and some, like the woods, will depend on how close to them you are), but that won't matter anywhere near as much in our game as it does in a game like 40K where there are no to-hit modifiers.

We have a 10-man Imperial Army unit on the far hill composed of Games Workshop/Forge World Imperial Guard models. The unit of 3 Knights in the foreground, composed of GW Blood Angel models, is trying to reach them to slay the unit in assault. Dante is leading the unit, and their Jump Packs aren't working, so they have to hoof it. :)

We'll assume that the IA can't really hurt the 3 Knights that are coming for them, and are just trying to get away.

Knight Turn 1:

Dante decides to move at-the-double. This makes him easier to hit, but that's why he's wearing power armor. He can move up onto the road, but that would make him exposed, so he stops just short of it.

The other 2 Knights in the squad started the phase in command, so they're sling-shotted forward into covered positions.

Note: This test assumes the Knights don't have any model-to-model coherency to worry about. It's a worst-case for the IA that are trying to run from them.

One to the right, by the house.

The other to the left, by Cobra Headquarters. :)

Like so.

This has the effect of placing the IA squad within 12" of an enemy. So they can't move at-the-double without assaulting. Which they don't want to do.

BTW, the IA unit leader is the model that's holding his shotgun in his left hand and pointing with the other. I'll call him Rico.

So the IA scoot. Rico moves 6" to the left and fans the rest of the squad in front of him to keep them away from Dante. This was VERY fast to do, as I just placed a couple of models at the corners of the triangle I wanted and filled the rest in.

[Edit] Note: This formation for Rico's squad is the best possible for getting away, but it's actually very weak because Rico (as the closest target with nobody else next to him) could be sniped easily with a blast or by making sure he's the only model within 12" of a firing unit. That would halt the squad and make them much easier to catch.

Knight Turn 2:

If the Knights had blast weapons, they'd love this. But they want to assault, so Dante moves at-the-double again. He wasn't in assault range even if the IA hadn't moved. How's he going to catch them?

Movement denial. He slingshots his 2 buddies forward, putting the IA back within 12" and continuing to slow them down.

Rico moves again and shoos his squad in front of him.

Knight Turn 3:

Gotcha! Dante slings his buddies forward 'wolf-pack' style (oh the irony) and blocks the IA in. Rico can't get past the 2" stand-off around the Knights if he goes left. The only choice now is to stand and shoot, but that's not allowed in this test, so...

The squad runs right instead. Doesn't matter though, Dante will initiate an assault with an Advance move on his Turn 4, and both of his unit-mates will join in, killing the squad.

So that's 3 turns of movement to corner the squad and one more to get into assault. That may seem like a lot to those used to 40K, but I don't intend to have any arbitrary turn limits. You'll simply play a battle to completion. So a game might easily last 10-12 turns instead of 5-7. Just like in Flames of War.


Ok, let's see what happens if Rico's not on the front line, but back behind his unit instead. He can't go all the way over to one side or the other, because then his unit won't have a wide enough frontage to be useful for blocking.

The Knights advance to the same positions and are still restricting Rico's movement on turn 1.

Rico runs left, a little further this time.

But Dante's wolf pack is on his heels, hemming him in.

And they're still bottling him in on turn 3 and assaulting on turn 4.


I'm REALLY liking the dynamics of this. The high Ld of the Knights allows them to dictate their opponent's movement to a huge extent without having to actually get into assault early. It also shows that Knight units should really be at least 3 models in size to allow for tactical movement. Kill 1 or 2 with fire and the Knights become much less scary, because they're stronger in numbers than singly.

There's other things I've thought of after these test runs. Namely that terrain really isn't that big a deal for moving around in this system. So we should perhaps de-emphasize our movement penalties and shift our focus to the effects of terrain on a unit's Command Radius instead. If part of Rico's squad is moving around that toppled statue in the last pic, for instance,  then they shouldn't be able to be placed as far from Rico as models that can draw direct LOS to him.

That might obviate the need for model-to-model coherency altogether, if placing models across an obstacle or unit halves the distance they can be from the leader.

Of course that's another way that Knights could be different. Their helmets all have radios and tactical displays, so who cares if they can't see their buddies directly? WE ARE KNIGHTS!



Eriochrome asked the following question, which is best answered with pictures.
 "I wonder though if it changes much if the IG do not move much in the first turn. They drop back as far as possible from the leader but still stay within 12 of one of the knights leading knights. Then the knights cannot double. So they will be only move up 6 about the which is about the same I moved away. I would not be surprised if you still catch me in about turn 3 but to do so you probably will have to do things like not move up the flankers very much which ofcourse seem strange.
This could also end up with strange things (assume not battlefield promotions unit) where if I manage to kill the closest model it just means your unit can move at me faster which is a metagaming manipulation that I do not like."
I don't know what will happen. Let's see...

The Knights have had their turn one and are in the same position as the other tests. To be fair, we'll say that coherency doesn't apply to the IA either (we'll stop 'sandwiching' with LOS modifiers instead). So Rico's squad goes defensive. He puts fire teams on each forward flank to slow the Knights down, keeps a couple of guys near him as he advances backward a bit, and puts the rest of his squad behind him.

Dante is forced to slow down. Putting his buddies in close slowed down the IA, forcing the fight. But now he's paying for that because he can't move as fast as he could if he'd held them back. So he swings his squad right (his right) and concentrates on a flank. He makes sure the guy between him and the lead Knight is within 12" of Rico and his two bodyguards. So that if the near flank goes down to his squad's fire, the rest of the unit is still slowed.

If the Knights don't fire, Dante will be in range for a charge next turn. So they don't.

Rico put two guys there so that that team would be less likely to both be killed. Keeping the Knights from moving more freely.

(Wild Thought: We may find that shooting should come before movement as we refine this system.)

Rico calls a halt and reorganizes his guys around him. The right-hand forward team is pulled back. Normally, the IA can't down a Knight with light weapons, but they use a special rule to concentrate their fire (old lasgun idea from months back) and manage to drop the closest Knight. The 2nd Knight in line is still within 12" of Rico though. So the Knights are still slowed.

Dante is 6" too far forward in this pic, but the outcome is the same as the previous tests. He's in range for a turn 4 assault no matter what. The Knights might lose 1 more model to IA fire, but they'll get there. If Dante goes down, the Knights will just select a new leader. Which is also neat, as most of the time Knight leaders will be strolling down the field, daring you to kill them. Which you won't want to do unless they're too spread out and the two remaining halves would have to waste a turn consolidating as a result.

Now, I'm not saying this system is perfect yet. But it's really fun! Movement is super-fast to actually do, but you have to think about the tactical placement of your models a lot more. I REALLY like that!

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