Friday, January 11, 2013

Testing The Exfiltration Mission

CaulynDarr came over yesterday and we did some testing using the Exfiltration Mission. Which, given it's nature, ensured that we got in enough Close-Combat to finally test the system decently.

Here's what we found...

Force Composition

As usual, we went with a mirror-match between the Red and Green forces. Here's the list:

  • LaansKnight Commander w/Chain Sword & Plasma Pistol
  • 4 LaansKnight Legios (GW Marine Models), with Krak Rifles & Grenades
  • 5 LaansKnight Dragoons (Mantic Enforcer Models), with Pulse Rifles & Grenades
  • 1 LaansKnight Paladin with a Gatling Cannon and Power Gauntlet.
  • 2 Nine-Man LaansGuard Rifle Squads w/2 Grenade Launchers each. Sergeant w/Pistol/Shotgun

Since this was a pretty mobile mission, we didn't bring any static gun teams. Instead I added in some less armored, but faster, Knights. Which I've dubbed "Dragoons", after the old term for mounted cavalry troops. Since these guys move a lot faster than the Standard Knights, they fulfill that role. If you've played Flames of War, think of them as Stuart tanks. Weak vs. other Knights, but fast and deadly to unarmored infantry. And... Once we have a costing system in place, pretty cheap.

The Good

The Exfiltration Mission worked really well. I'm not about to call it perfect yet, as it needs more testing still. But it was fun, unfolded as I expected, put plenty of pressure on both sides, and we didn't uncover any flaws to speak of.

I played the Red Army, Darr played the green. The objective he placed (and his Paladin) are over in that ruin on the far right.

When the game started, I moved the hostage up a bit. But when Darr's reserves were slow coming on, I decided to try and whittle them down instead of pushing forward. I beat up a standard Knight squad pretty badly. But then the rest of Carr's reserves came on, killed my Commander, and suddenly was getting suppressed pretty badly. So I ran for the objective with the hostage.

He caught up with me by the Altar and Close-Combat ensued. He beat me easily (because I was so suppressed), and took my hostage away. His commander then chased 2 units of my guys about 18" and into his own blocking troops behind me before we called it at the end of turn 5. 

My reserves came on (the GW Tau are grenade launcher proxies) and beat up Darr's LaansGuard squads pretty badly. But they needed another turn to save my squads in the middle.

So, cool mission. But there were some flaws with the game mechanics that we need to address.

The Bad

Darr hasn't been following the blog for a while (too busy), so I got the opinions of someone who didn't have any preconceived notions about the recent additions to the game.

Flanking Fire Is Dead

First, Darr HATED the flanking fire system and the formations that it required. That, combined with the 'Meh' reaction from other recent testers, is enough for me to call it dead. If nobody appreciates the complexity it adds (which includes bubble movement) then it needs to go. I was having problems writing up 2 different movement systems in a coherent way anyhow.

Bubble-Movement will survive for moving swarms when we get to the Turid (Bug) faction. But I think that it's finally failed as an idea for all troops. We tried O_N. :)

The bright side is that Darr had a good idea (from Warmachine) about how to do model facing for front/back armor values. Draw a line through the model's shoulders. Anything in front of the line hits the front armor, anything fully behind the line hits the model's back. Easy.

I still intend for certain heavy weapons to get bonuses if troops are bunched up. But I need to consider what the simplest way to do that is. It'll probably involve one of the standard templates.

The Troop Stats Need Re-Balancing

We've needed this for a while. It's time to get it done. Especially with the new Dragoons added in.

The Unit Profile Is Still Hard To Read

Not so much by itself, as when you're trying to cross reference one model's stats with that of another's weapon. So it needs to simplify yet again.

I might even move to a Warmachine-like reference card system, as I've recently discovered a way to automate the creation of the cards using Excel and Photoshop. Which would also help with all the typos we had to deal with yesterday. That's a lot less likely to happen if everything is referencing the same table.

Close-Combat Needs Some Tweaks

The CC system worked pretty well overall. We didn't have any problems with the sequence that Eriochrome suggested.

But with the way the fallback/consolidation system works, Darr was able to chase 2 squads 18" across the table. Because, since the squads weren't below half strength, I couldn't move further than he could. So either we need to allow a falling-back unit of any size to move it's full move. Or (more likely) we'll just make those moves set distances. So that one Knight can't indefinitely chase a normal infantry squad in the same way.

I'll think on it. :)

I know that Darr felt a little out of the loop during the game. But as I told him, we learned plenty about what worked, and what didn't. Which is the very essence of a successful test!


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