Sunday, 21 June 2009

Wargods - Punishment of the Priest

We played Wargods using our newly painted figures last Thursday. If you can remember that far back, we painted Wargods figures for our May objective. I painted a Khemru (children of Khnum, the goat-headed god) warband, while Steve painted Heru (children of Horus, the falcon-headed god). So, we agreed to play a basic 1000 point game using those figures.

My warband had two units of slingers, one of mace goats and a selection of heroes to captain the units. I also had a beastmaster with three lions, and a master of words as well as my harbinger (a warlord type figure imbued with the power of his god).

Steve had a unit of Heru archers, a unit of halberdiers, some heroes and a unit of Anubi warriors, together with his harbinger.

Wargods comes with a list of 10 scenarios in the rulebook and 20 sub-plots. We rolled a d10 for the scenario and rolled up The Punishment of the Priest. In this scenario the defender has to protect a priest, while the other side is trying to capture him. I was the defender, so I received the priest. Steve was not allowed to kill the priest, so he had to capture him and stop me from getting him back. As a further complication we rolled a d20 to get a sub-plot. We rolled up Sandstorm. I groaned when I saw this, because it would reduce visibility and make my slingers less effective. They were the backbone of my warband so I was relying on them to weaken the enemy before he closed to melee. My problem was that the Heru are brilliant in melee, while my Khemru are rubbish. I could only hope for some good dice on the visibility roll. If they were high enough then the sandstorm would abate. I did have one advantage though. My master of words had a spell that would remove the sandstorm for one turn each time it was cast. Perhaps all was not lost.

We set up and set to. I hid the priest behind my slingers, who were on a sand dune. Meanwhile my mace-goats and my beastmaster set up on the right flank. Steve set up opposite with his troops focused on the area where the priest was.

It did not take long for the troops to clash, although Steve was a trifle upset to lose half of a unit to a Spiky Ground spell. That did help me though! You can see the Spiky Ground template just in front of the temple. Between it and the temple, you can see the proxy shining chariot with the Heru harbinger in it and my harbinger attacking from its flank.

With the troops closing on each other, I chose to run the priest off into the temple, to try to keep him out of harm's way. At this time we both envisaged a bit of a Benny Hill finish with his troops running around after the priest.

I could not foresee my Khemru holding out or even beating off the Heru, but, as the final shot shows, they did. Although two of my units routed, they recovered immediately and returned to the fray. Meanwhile, my harbinger had dispatched his harbinger, which really finished the game. At this point, Steve had a hero left and a small number of troops. We agreed to call it a day.

Wargods is an annoyingly good game. We both had an excellent time playing and the game was tense. The way to win at Wargods, is to second-guess your opponent. You could try to design a broken tournament army if you want, but the warband design system is such that this is not really possible. This means that most games of Wargods are all about sussing out your opponent and doing the unexpected. Sometimes we do this by forgetting which is our left and which is our right when putting out turn orders. More often it is about trying to decide what you opponent is planning to do and then spoiling it for him. This makes it a great game.

So, why is Wargods annoyingly good? Well, that has to do with the support it receives from Crocodile Games. They are a small company, so they cannot afford to produce new figures all the time because they rely on sales of the newest release to fund the next release. But, worse than that is the lack of focus. Some years back Crocodile Games released some figures for the Wendigo, hairy snow beasts. There were enough figures to form a warband, but not to do all the options available in the rules they released for it. Of course, these rules are playtest rules and have never been released in a final format. Similarly, they released the Olympus playtest rules and finally the Spartans. However, at the time, there were not starter sets for each of the races in Aegyptus. Some races had starter sets but not all of them. There are more figures available for Aegyptus now, but you still cannot buy a starter set for every race. This is quite a psychological barrier when trying to get other people to play. I cannot help but think that more focus on the Aegyptian races and less on expansions would have benefitted the game and made it more popular. If you could get a starter set for every race, people might be more willing to invest in it. You can still form warbands for every race. That is not a problem now, and new figures are in the pipeline to expand these races, but people see the game as incomplete because of the starter sets.

So, it is annoyingly good because the game play is brilliant but people see the lack of starter sets and don't want to start playing it. Still, we enjoy it.

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