I played a game of my miniature wargame rules A Fatal Blow this afternoon and am posting the After Action Report of the battle.
A Knight and two of his Men At Arms are charged with taking and defending a bridge over a river before raiding bandits can seize it or get across it.
To play a game of A Fatal Blow you will need some d6 dice, some d20 dice, a deck of cards, a ruler or tape measure, pencil, paper and probably some index cards for your figures stats. As well as the miniatures and terrain of course.
THE FORCES – The Knights!
The Knight was Sir Brufson with his two Men At Arms, Jarl and Sigurd. Brufson was armed using the NPC profile in the book for a Knight including plate armor, broadsword, and kite shield. He was not mounted as he had dismounted prior to the battle and tied his horse off in the woods to their rear. Being a Knight means he would roll one additional d6 damage dice on attacks. It also meant he was automatically a “warrior” so he would not flee unless he wanted to. He was also the group’s Captain. The group had no Champion.
THE FORCES – The Bandits!
The Bandits also used the basic NPC profiles from the game book. However I armed each bandit as their figure indicated. The Bandit Leader was Cain who was wielding a Battleaxe and was the Captain but otherwise had no skills or armor. I also gave the Bandits a Champion name Lorr who was wielding a Two Handed Sword and wearing partial plate armor. Two lesser bandits wearing light chainmail and carrying short bows were also present.
In A Fatal Blow the cards determine initiative and play a very important role in the game so I was initially very worried that giving the Bandits a Captain (four cards) and a Champion (3 cards) would upset the balance. Since the deck is only comprised of cards for each figure that meant the knights would have six cards (4 for the Captain, one for each Man at Arms) and the Bandits would have 9 (4 for Captain, 3 for Champion and one for each remaining Bandit).
Each group was started at their map edge and the cards were mixed together and shuffled. The first card drawn was a black non-face card belonging to one of the Men At Arms so he immediately moved his six inches to set up on the bridge. The next card was a red diamond belonging to one of the lesser Bandits with the shortbow. He contemplated a shot but since you must pick your target before measuring range he decided to move as he believed he would be out of range or at a very long distance.
Sir Brufson’s card came up next and he used a “command action” to move him and Sigurd to the bridge with Jarl. [A command action allows a Captain to order all Troopers who have not acted to perform the same action. In this case “a move”. He may also perform that action or simply use the “command action” as his only action on that card. Brufson however chooses to move up with Sigurd.]
The Bandit Champion’s card came up on the next two pulls which allowed him to move within charge distance of Brufson and his Men At Arms. In A Fatal Blow a charge is a very powerful attack that gives the attacker a +2 modifier, two additional d6 damage dice and allows damage rolls of 4,5 and 6 to be hits instead of just 5 and 6. The next card was therefore crucial if it came up for Lorr he would get a charge on Brufson with his two handed sword and possibly deal A Fatal Blow in one devastating attack. The same however would be true if one of Brufson’s three remaining cards came up!
Attacks in A Fatal Blow are resolved by cross-referencing the attacker’s modified Attack Value against the Defender’s modified defense value. The Attacker usually gets positive modifiers for things like their weapon (+1 Broadsword) and charging (+2 charge). The Defender usually gets modifiers for things like a shield or cover. Attacks are not simultaneous so winning initiative is crucial. Brufson being a knight has two strikes which means he rolls two d20 dice and each result must be cross-referenced to see if it hits. To hit you must roll “higher” than the number indicated on the Melee Attack Table.
Needing only a 7 or so to hit Brufson rolled a ‘9’ and ’13’ which were both hits. Next he rolls his damage dice. Damage dice are rolled on a d6 and are based on the character and their weapon and the type of attack. In this case, Brufson gets 4d6 for his Broadsword plus 2d6 for charging and plus 1d6 for being a knight for a total of 7 dice. Because he charged each roll of 4 or 5 is one wound and each roll of 6 is two wounds. Lorr has 5 wounds but is wearing plate armor which will give him a saving roll.
Brufson scored four wounds with his first strike (he had two) pictured above and another five wounds with his second strike for a total of 9. Lorr got a saving roll because of his plate armor which consists of cross referencing the Armor Value of the armor against the Armor Piercing value of the weapon. The result on the table is the number the Defender needs to roll equal or higher than on a d20 die for each wound. Lorr needing nine saves got only 1 and was killed instantly.
In A Fatal Blow whenever a combatant is killed its cards are immediately removed from the deck and the cards are reshuffled. This represents the combatants responding to the first or next death, which means characters that have already acted may act again. In this instance, after Lorr’s cards are removed Brufson’s card was drawn again and he withdrew back to the bridge to avoid any possible missile fire since it was possible one or both of the lesser Bandits may get to actions and be able to fire again. The next two cards drawn however belonged to the Bandit Leader, Cain who was determined not to suffer the same fate as Lorr and charged the knights on the bridge making contact with Jarl.
Because he is wielding a large Battleaxe Cain suffers a -4 to his Attack value of 8 but gets +2 for charging which when cross referenced meant he needed a 15 or higher on a d20 to land a blow on Jarl. Which he rolled!!! However even with the “charge” allowing hits on a 4, 5 or 6 and with the BattleAxe rolling 6d6 for a total of 8d6, Cain only wounds Jarl three times – all of which he saves using his shield and full plate armor.
However Cain is now locked in combat with Jarl and must either continue to use his future actions to Attack or attempt a ‘break away’. To break away he needs to roll equal to or less than his Initiative on a d20. He has an Initiative of 5 so he would need to roll 5 or less to break away. However if he does succeed Jarl will get a free strike against him with a +2 modifier to the Attack and to his Damage roll.
Alternatively, if one of Cain’s remaining cards comes up again he can make another Attack at Jarl and try to finish him off with his lethal but unwieldy Battleaxe [In A Fatal Blow weapons that do more damage also tend to be unwieldy like Axes, Maces and Warhammers and really cause a negative modifier to the users Attack value. In this case Cain only has an Attack value of 8 but he is suffering a -4 modifier for using the large Battleaxe].
The next card is drawn and…
And Brufson regains the initiative and immediately charges in. But fails to penetrate Cain’s guard..
Despite having survived Brufson’s charge Cain’s situation is dangerously precarious as he is now fighting two opponents at once which causes another -2 modifier to his Attack Value giving him an effective attack value of 2 meaning he would need to roll a 20 to hit. Cain instead attempts a ‘break away’ needing to roll less than 5 on a d20 and then needing to survive the free strikes by both Brufson and Jarl if he does succeed.
Cain succeeds in “breaking away” only to be cut down as he fled by Brufson’s vicious free strike which scored seven hits on one strike alone! With only five wounds and no armor saves Cain falls dead.
The death of a Captain in A Fatal Blow causes a morale check for the remaining party members which both lesser Bandits promptly fail and flee off their map edge….thus ends the battle and the bridge is held.
I was glad to see that the Bandits did not get an unfair edge by having so many cards but I was also reminded of how powerful Knights in particular and characters with “skills” in general are in A Fatal Blow. Sir Brufson made some good damage rolls but what really carried the day for him was winning the Initiative at two key points in the game. First when he charged Lorr and then again after Cain attacked Jarl. Even though his attack on Cain missed it meant Cain was now facing two opponents at once and making it almost impossible for him to effectively hit either of them with his large axe and increasing his jeopardy during the break away by exposing him to two break away attacks.
What could of went differently? Well one of the great features of A Fatal Blow is that so many factors can affect the outcome of a battle. If Cain had brought another weapon he could of used his action after Brufson charged him to changed weapons to a weapon more suitable for a two on one combat like a Longknife or Shortsword both of which have positive modifiers to his Attack Value of 8. On the other hand he could of wore some armor and maybe saved some of those wounds on his break away so he could get back to his troopers.
Speaking of the troopers one of them did get a shot with his shortbow at medium range which missed. Had Cain stood back with them and used a command action to order both of them to fire at once at Brufson they may have been able to wound him on the bridge and force him to separate from his Men At Arms.
All in all it was a good scenaro that really showed how fast and devastating combat is in A Fatal Blow. Just the way I like it.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Amazon.com “A Fatal Blow”
Wargames Vault “A Fatal Blow” pdf.