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Gaming Session in Washington DC (8/26)

Posted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:33 pm
by David Schlanger
I am posting this for Terence...

Comments and observations based on Saturdays gaming.

Dramatis Personae - I hosted. Wendy and Tim joined us as experienced players. Young Oscar who stepped into the Sharp Johnny campaign at Historicon brought his dad Tim (Tim2) and younger brother Warrick (approx 12 years old). Jonathan Miller brought his nephew Caleb same age as Warrick.

The armies used were Irish, Picts, Welsh, Strathclyde, Northumbria, Mercia, Wessex, Later Visigoth, and Carolingian (really Merovingian) Franks. Arable, Hilly and Forest home terrains and a good mix of stand types.

Stand types in play: Warriors, Warband, Heavy Foot, Light Foot,, Light Spear, Horde, Rabble, Bow Levy, Skirmishers, Knights, Jav Cav, Bad Horse.

Armies were assigned each round by random draw to maximize exposure to different armies.

Rules - The latest rules with certain improvements currently in development for the next version were used.
Observations:

- The concepts of the game were easy to explain and consistent (e.g. even the terrain setup is an "each player rolls" situation). Feedback was that it felt accessible with a low barrier to entry for play.
- The average element count for the armies was 16 varying from 14 to 18.
- Games generally finished close to the same time. There was little waiting around.
- Setup was much clearer for the different topographies. The three column table was a definite improvement in the fiddliness of setup
- Dark ages armies were interesting and varied to play, a vast improvement over certain legacy systems. Many had a warrior/heavy foot/horde/rabble combination that added interest and nuance not presence in other legacy rules.
- Dividing the stands along mounted vs foot and close vs open order - and having the distinctions equally clear in the rules - seemed to make digestion of the element types more easily digested.
- Group moves through difficult going made sense to brand new players.
- We had no mounted brave enough to venture into bad going so we didn't get to test those interactions
- We had an extreme maneuver advantage (5) in one game which did swing the terrain count from 2 pieces to 5 pieces. But this didn't seem at all like a problem. The wider range of results ate up the absolute difference. Even with the extreme advantage, the advantaged player couldn't get all the pieces he wanted.
- We don't have an easy and accessible answer to "how do I get my first army?" Meshwesh could be enhanced to help very much in this regard
- Oscar asked for advice on making sure that games fit into a hard one hour limit for his wargame club at school. I suggested preset terrain and predeployed troops (of which he has none). Currently most games end in less than one hour, but a hard requirement presents challenges in some cases.
- 12 year old Caleb was not intrigued by the terrain setup which was time consuming and low value from his perspective. While I personally disagree with him, it is interesting feedback from a young player who wants to get into the thick of things quickly.
- I wound up giving Oscar and his dad Tim a set of block stands (romans and gauls) which had a big impact on them. It gives them the means to play while figures are found and painted. So I suggest given this positive feedback we move forward with our plan for start up sets available at all Demo games.

Overall a successful day.

T.