Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lannisters floundering

Last night I finally - finally - got the chance to play a game of Battles of Westeros, a game I purchased years ago in some small board game shop in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Since then, it has been standing proudly - and unplayed - on a shelf. That is, until last night. 
A brother-in-law came visiting and turned out interested in the game. I warned him it was going to be more complex than your average game of Yatzy, but we dived in anyway. 

I (uhm, naturally?) picked House Lannister and he was House Stark. We looked through the rules quickly, realized it was going to be a long night, then proceeded to setup the board for a scenario named "Clash on the Kingsroad", according to the game the simplest so-called 'battle plan' to play. There was some head-scratching but once we sorted the million little pieces into piles we began to get an idea of what was going down (seriously, there are so many pieces). 

So the Starks, under the leadership of commander figures Maege Mormont and Rickard Karstark, were
The fords were most of the slaughter was done.
going to defend a river crossing near the Kingsroad, while I had to capture two areas held by the Stark host, using cavalry and footmen under the command of Ser Addam Marbrand and Lord Kevan Lannister. As we plodded along making sense of the game's structure and figuring out when you could initiate engagements, how to use cards and tokens, and whether archers are allowed to fire into a unit already in battle with another enemy unit, we began to find the game's shape and to look for strategies and tactics.

Eventually, the river was running red with Lannister blood, as my men soldiers fell by the thousands (if you count one figure as, say, thousand guys) into the river by the fords, their corpses clogging the waters to create an unholy stench of death, their banners poles sinking to the river bottom, leaving only the once proudly fluttering pennants and banners to float in the stream. 

Only after the game ended did we realize that during setup, I had given my Lannister footmen the wrong rank - they should have been one rank higher, thus giving them an extra battle die every round which probably would have made the battles at the fords a little different.

Anyway, the Starks fought valiantly, with archers climbing a hill to assault my ford-crossing wrong-ranked soldiers from on high, Ser Addam Marbrand making a cunning attempt to cross the river near Maege Mormont to stab her from behind, and the War Host of the North using the road to rapidly setup a defense against the incoming Lannister cavalry....
as you can guess, the game was inspiring and fun, and felt like A Song of Ice and Fire's military engagements (though to be fair, the game would have been just as fun and atmospheric it was set in the real world's Hundred Years' War or War of the Roses). 

All in all a good night's fun - I think we played that scenario (while learning the rules at the same time mind you) for more than four hours, downing caffeinated soda and potato chips like there was no tomorrow...for the armies of Casterly Rock. The 'battle plan' book that comes with the game has nine more scenarios to try out, and there are even more online, but I think I want to try out the "Clash on the Kingsroad" one more time with properly ranked (experienced) footmen.. other geekery news I've been dabbling with Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition (the original is my favorite game ever, so it was only a matter of time before I tried this more recent incarnation), reinstalling Medieval II: Total War and well, I almost don't want to admit it, but read the first eight chapters of the final book in The Avatar Trilogy, the one called Waterdeep, not that the writing has improved since the second book but hey, everyone needs a guilty pleasure.

1 comment:

  1. You can't win this scenario as Lannister, because there's no chance to kill Rickard, who can camp on one VP forever.