Thursday, January 9, 2014

WWX - The games where it all just clicked

Tuesday nights have been my normal gaming night for years. Tuesdays shifted away from mini games for a while and have been Netrunner night, but have still filled my night out for gaming slot during the week. After months of a combination of board games, card games, and just not making it out (due to life and work) it was refreshing to return to a couple mini-games on the table on Tuesdays. John and I got to the store early and lined up to play games 5 and 6 Tuesday of this week.

I find it amusing that I have commented several times that it takes me about 6 games to really understand how a new model or new crew works. I'm not sure the reason why, but it's around game 6 that my brain fully clicks and how I play changes overall when I look at games before and after that point. This happened during game 6 and as such I ended up not taking more than 1 picture during the game. Thing's clicked into place across the board for me and the game swept past without me noticing the turn sequence and grabbing my camera. Here is the one picture I took, a nice shot of John's crew with Jesse James:

I did grab pictures of game 5, although not as completely as I would have liked. I thought it would be good to write about that game instead of game 6, partly due to the pictures and partly due to the scenario.

Game 5

Huzzah Hobbies was pretty busy despite the early hour John and I showed up, moving us to consider alternate terrain to the western train set we had used in the past. We grabbed some of the rough western canyon terrain and tried to approximate something resembling the terrain layout for Narrative Scenario #4 - The Raid.

This was an interesting scenario as it uses a couple rules that John and I were not familiar with. One of those was the Sentries rule which has the defender deploying specific models on the table with limited actions they can take. Another was reinforcements, allowing (or forcing in this case) certain models to not come onto the board until later in the game. We set-up the table with an approximation of a base for the Warrior Nation and the Outlaw's as the attackers. I was able to deploy any hired hands or sidekicks as Sentries at the begining of the game, needing to keep my Bosses and Underbosses in reserve. This was not so bad for me as I could deploy everything except Sitting Bull and Sky Spirit.

I deployed my sentries around the interior of my improvised fort in preparation for the outlaw attack. As a quick reminder, my list was:
  • Sitting Bull
  • Sky Spirit
  • Walks Looking
  • River
  • Marcus Cunningham
  • 3x Long Range Braves
John was the attacker so would be deploying all of his models onto the board. His goal was to move toward my base trying to stay out of sight and undetected as long as possible. I would be able to attempt to detect his models if they entered the LOS of one of my sentries, rolling a Marksmanship test with some modifiers. If his models were detected that would raise the alarm, immediately ending his turn and starting the next turn with me having the initiative. John also had to deploy his crew at least 28 inches away from any of my sentries. For this game John brought along:
  • Billy the Kid
  • Johny Ringo
  • Jane (Firely crew)
  • Simon (Firefly crew)
  • River (Firefly crew)
  • Dark Council Member
  • Shotgun Bandit
John ended up deploying the Dark Council, Jane, and the Shotgun Bandit on the right side of the board, Billy and Ringo on the left of the board, and River and Simon in the center in the open. This was not a bad choice as both River and Simon have the living spirit rule so would be unable to be spotted until they were within 8 inches of one of my models.

WWX Rule Note / Commentary: The scenarios in the rulebook all indicate an intention for a 6

Turn 1 & 2

Throughout turn 1 and 2 John moved his models forward trying to get close while staying out of sight. I spent the turns moving my models forward into position and then going on the lookout and hoping to spot him. during turn 2 John finally moved Billy to the top of a hill and I was able to spot him and raise the alarm. Although this was early in the turn for John, it still ended turn 2 and immediately jumped to Turn 3 with my automatically having initiative.

Turn 3

Turn 3 arriving allowed me to start "playing the game" instead of just wandering around looking for the enemy. I opened up with Cunningham tossing out some smoke so that Simon would not be able to take a good shot at him. John knew he was out of range and Simon chose not to shoot, following which I landed the smoke where I needed it for cover. John moved around and took some shots from the mountaintop with Billy, landing some hits on my braves who had attempted to take cover. I used an activation to bring on my reserves, rolling as necessary and bringing in Sky Spirit and Sitting Bull. Reserve models arrive with 1 less AP, leaving me only 2 AP to move them up into the protective smoke. Ringo moved onto the mountain near enough to protect Billy, and John's River and Simon positioned. I took some pot shots with my braves but was not in range of Ringo, and positined my own River and Walk's where I thought they would be most useful.

On the right side of the board Jane and the Shotgun Bandit moved forward with the Dark Council guy. Neither got into a good position to shoot at my brave on that side of the board, so positioned for next turn. My brave took some ineffective shots and the turn completed. I was concerned about the right side of the board as the shotgun would be a pretty rough weapon to hit my flank, and I have not really dealt with Jane in the past. I was happy to see the Dark Council on that side of the board as it really limited where the extra influence could be handed out.

Turn 4

I realized that John did not have anyone on the lookout and had no snipers for me to worry about in this game. This opened up some options for me when it came to activation order. I spent my remaining influence to grab initiative on turn 4 and started with Marcus, Sky Spirit, and Sitting Bull. Marcus moved the smoke forwrd on the board, giving me a better platform to base my attacks from. This was followed by Sky Spirit jumping up into the smoke and starting to shoot at Ringo. Two shots into Ringo forced Ringo to walk off the edge of the cliff due to his "must move forward" rule.

WWX Rule Note / Commentary:We would have done better realizing Ringo's rule earlier in the turn as it would have changed some of how things played. As it was, we both did not realize it until the end of the turn so we just adjust Ringo to where he should have been and moved on.
John spent the turn taking shots at Cunningham trying to take him down. Billy, Ringo, Simon, and Jane all snapped off shots and burned through a fair amount of my influence before John's attacks were exhausted. On the bright side for me, I was able to make enough armor rolls to successfully keep Cunningham alive.
WWX Rule Note / Commentary: Feedback from the battle reports and the podcast indicated that John and I were playing a much deadlier game than we should have been. I discussed in the previous battle report our misunderstanding on Lethal Hits. This was the first game where we played it correctly and it made a big difference to how the game felt. The results came out the same but the hit's felt much "softer" than in previous games, making the overall game feel less deadly.
On the right side of the board I tried to reposition my brave to bring some threat to John's models over there. To be fair, one brave was not a huge threat and even Walk's hiding around the corner did not appear to be a deterrent to the shotgun moving up the board. Jane took some shots at the brave, dumping some damage on his but not killing him.

John did point out that this was the first game we had played to date where nothing had died by the time we reached the end of Turn 4. We both attribute this to our new (and correct) understanding of the Lethal Hit rule and how it plays.

Turn 5

Despite the slower death pace through turn 4, Turn 5 was a bloody and deadly turn overall. during the start of the turn John was able to take out one of my braves on both the right and left sides of the board. I moved my River in and killed off his Simon, leaving a couple of his models in a vulnerable position to return strikes. Sitting Bull moved over and killed off the Shotgun Bandit and killed Jane with the Wolf-Blood Bandit unloading his shotgun into Jane. Sitting Bull then returned back across the board to clean up anything remaining in Turn 6. Walks moved forward and cleaned up both Ringo and John's River, moving back across the board to threaten Billy on turn 6. Things really turned against John on this turn, leaving me in a fantastic position to clean up on turn 6.

Turn 6 opened with my having initiative again and finishing off Billy with the initial decapitating attack from Walk's. With that wipeout, I grabbed a win.

Final Thoughts

This was an interesting scenario and I can see it being a lot of fun. I think the board would have worked better (and more to John's advantage) if we had used smaller pieces of scatter terrain in place of the larger canyon terrain we used. To be fair, that's what is recommended in the diagram and would have provided more positions for John's models to move forward under cover. I am not convinced the end of the game would have been different, but the early turns would have run a bit smoother allowing John to get a bit closer.

Playing with the Lethal Hit rule as intended extended the game out, making it less deadly overall. This is not a bad thing, although neither John nor I felt the game was "Too Deadly" previously. It allows some of the attacks to be resisted more, but the results of the attacks ended up to be the same. I find it most interesting that the game felt "more swingy" or "more erratic" than previously. The previous Lethal Hit rule we used meant that a single swing roll (rolling a lethal hit or a life saving dodge) was the biggest swing on the dice. Now the difference between rolling an armor save of a 2 vs a 7 makes a big difference on every armor roll. This makes more rolls in the game feel the swing of the wide number range on a D10.

I plan to talk a little about models and tactics moving forward on the blog. John and I talked a little bit about Sitting Bull and our experience compared to some internet comments about Geronimo and the comparison of the two. We both feel that Sitting Bull is a simply nasty boss, with truly nasty attacks and his Wolf Blood ability pushing him over the top. I need to get some experience playing Geronimo, but I am not sure I will find him to be as competitive as Sitting Bull. I have not yet had a reason to use Sitting Bulls Frenzy ability, allowing for additional attacks. His bite seems to be enough to kill many underbosses, sidekicks, and hired hands and then grant me a full activation of those models to deal damage to the opponents crew.

Lastly, we are still playing on a 4'x6' board but I see that moving down soon. Many of the scenarios need the full board to work but there are a handful which do not. I believe most (possibly all) of the competitive scenarios  can be easily moved down to a 4'x4' board without impacting the balance.
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