Author Topic: [Battle report] On the Wings of Song – Jade House vs. Swamp Goblins  (Read 2507 times)

Offline Horned Owl

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Under the great canopy of leaves, the jungle is teeming with life. The chirps and screeches of colourful birds vie with the buzzing of giant insects, the beating of drums and the roar of predators in a curtain of almost continuous noise. But if one should pierce the many-fronded umbrella of creepers and foliage and rise over the tops of the great Gourd trees, one leaves behind that seething primal soup of life and sound. There is only silence and serenity as the emerald sea of leaves stretches in all directions.

Through the golden haze of the Yellow Lotus, that silence seems to be imbued with hidden meaning, a poignant counterpoint to the pervasive song of the Fallen Land. Like the deliberate pauses in a great masterpiece of music, an intricate code that always hovers on the edge of comprehension, but never connects. Perhaps the Swamp Goblins, with their reputed mastery of the Lotus, can hear and understand that song, and its pauses, in their entirety. Then again, perhaps not. Maybe this ever-changing, ever-consistent song is too majestic, too great a river to ever be contained in the tiny cup of any mortal´s mind.

The vibrant, tremendous vista dwarfed the flight of Dragonbane gliding silently over the tops of the trees, so low that, sometimes, a fin or wing would brush the topmost leaves. Against the jungle stretching out in all directions, the large reptilian creatures looked like tiny birds, each bearing a miniature rider armed with a needle-sized lance. For all the breathtaking scope and beauty of the forest and the strange visions of the Yellow Lotus, the riders were ever vigilant, turning their heads this way and that, searching for their prey. The Lotus flower brought both an uncanny clearness of the senses and a withdrawn, pensive state of mind – a paradox that made sense only to habitual users of that potent drug.

Their adversaries were lean and skinny, with wiry muscles and brown skin painted with irregular stripes of bitter tree sap. They rode between the whirring wings of pig-sized mosquito drones, keeping their seats as easily as an Elf might in his favourite armchair. Copper helmets, lacquered deep blue and crimson, were on their heads, and colourful feathers adorned their harnesses. The Malovanti were on the warpath, and several smaller tribes in the heart of the jungle had already fallen to their assault. The neighbouring Swamp Goblin clans had commissioned the Jade House to patrol their borders, and to slay the bands of drone-mounted Malovanti raiders that constantly appeared out of nowhere, probed the tribes´ defenses and disappeared through the jungle´s green roof before retaliation could be mounted.

Flight leader Corellion knew his enemy, having fought both against and alongside the Malovanti before. The shifting allegiances of Swamp Goblin politics embroiled the mercenary Elven House in a constantly changing web of conflicts. Their payment was not in money – coins or bullion being unheard of in Swamp Goblin society – but in the elusive Yellow Lotus flower. That powerful drug held the entire Jade House in its seductive grip, both the source of its hidden strength and of its dependence on the Goblins. When the first Drones appeared over the treetops, Corellion gave the sign for his flight to gain height, circling upward in a tight spiral. Watched through the heightened state of the Lotus, the elegant maneuver took on a crisp clarity, like a ballet, every note expressed with a dancer´s precision. But his enemies also heard the Song, and they rose to meet his flight with equal grace, wafted aloft on the soaring notes. Already poisoned darts were whirring, pinging off his shield with an irregular staccato sound that added a new rhythm and pitch, weaving with a pleasantly tart note of discord through the harmony.

Corellion was beyond caring if he lived or died, lost in the swelling majesty of the music. He knew that his enemies felt the same, and they were all caught up in the swirl, the ebb and flow. And so they were spiralling, jinking and weaving, or dropping dead from their mounts into the canopy of leaves, all following the complex melody that was the Song of the Fallen Land.
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Horned Owl

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For this scenario, we pitted a Jade House flight of Dragonbane against a drone-mounted Swamp Goblin host.


To make things more interesting, level 0 was designated as treetop skimming, offering soft cover (-4 to MW). Models could drop out of sight below the canopy of leaves (dropping to height band -1), and while there, move at half speed (except, natch, Models with Jungle Warrior). Models "down under" had no LOS, could not be charged or harmed in any way. Passing from level 0 to -1 or vice versa ended the model´s turn; it was not possible to charge from level -1.

There were a few taller trees and rocky spires jutting out of the jungle, which offered a modicum of cover.

Flyers at a higher altitude would gain a bonus of +2 to their MW and damage with missile weapons if firing at a target at a lower height band.



THE JADE HOUSE

7 Skyriders (individuals)

1 Yellow Lotus Eater mounted on a Flying Dragonbane, armed with a Longsword.
Illusory Shroud
Illusory Foe

All Skyriders and the Lotus Eater were equipped with Elixir of Yellow Lotus.


Again, my setup was pretty straightforward. Between the skyriders and the Lotus Eater there was not much room for variation. I took the Yellow Lotus Elixir along for nasty little surprises (although for me or the enemy remained in doubt), Illusionary Shroud to protect my Skyriders should they find themselves facing a firing squad of Goblins, and Illusionary Foe to break up my enemies´ formation. With luck, I would be able to take them on piecemeal... because I knew that I would be outnumbered at least two, if not three to one. Though conspicuous gallantry *ahem* was a birthright of every Elven noble, those were not odds I relished. I would definitely have to keep my forces together and resist the temptation of being split.


THE MALOVANTI

Shaman Drone rider
Primal Force
Fleetness
Seed of the Poison Yukka

Drone warrior (individual)

Drone warrior (individual)

Drone warrior flight
3 Drone riders
1 Drone warrior leader

Drone warrior flight
3 Drone riders
1 Drone warrior leader

Drone warrior flight

3 Drone riders
1 Drone warrior leader

Drone warrior flight

3 Drone riders
1 Drone warrior leader


Miriam´s Swamp Goblins had more leeway. The shaman was de rigueur, but the Drone warriors could be organised into packs with much room for variation. Miriam chose two individual warriors for greater flexibility and organised the rest into warbands so they could make the most of their Group Attack skill. It would take several Drones to bring one of the proud Elven knights down.

The shaman had invigorating pollen to bolster his tribesmen´s low skill in close combat. With the heavy Elven armour and oval shields worn by the Skyriders, a blowpiper had only a one-in-twenty chance to wound. So she knew she would eventually have to close and fight it out with swords. To let his Goblins close quickly, the shaman took along bags of fleetness powder, and to hamper his enemies, he carried enchanted seeds of the dreaded Poison Yukka.

"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Horned Owl

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The first battle was over quickly (a victory for the Goblins) and left a disappointing aftertaste with both Miriam and me. Simply put, our troops had not behaved at all like flyers. They had ganged up on each other and remained rather stationary both when firing and when fighting hand to hand. The whole battle had felt like a slightly more complicated land-locked battle, not like the soaring ballet we had imagined it to be.

We sat a while discussing this, and came up with a few ideas:

- Flyers were supposed to be soaring and gliding. They would have to use at least one action to move forward their full complement to stay aloft, otherwise they would drop as many height bands as the mount had actions. This could be countered by spending actions to gain height again in the usual manner.

- The faster a flyer was going, the slower it could turn. I rummaged around on my shelf again and came up with templates I had made up for a game I invented while in university. Basically it was a half-circle of about 1,9" radius with inch increments along its edge, allowing a model to make a full turn with 6 inches of movement along its edge. The second was a quarter-circle of 7,6" radius, making a half turn at 12 inches of movement. There was an even larger template, granting a quarter-turn at 18 inches, but since no flyer in our little game had more than two actions, it wouldn´t be needed. So if a flyer was going up to 6 inches during its activation (one action) it could use the smaller template for turns, if it used more than one move action it had to use the larger radius template. A model could alternate between going in a straight line and using the curved template during the same action, up to its full movement.
We also ruled that a model could turn in place if it did not move at all, but would lose height accordingly.

Now we were ready to play again, and it worked like a charm.


-----

All flyers started off at treetop level. The Goblins let of a shrill whistle which was answered by a great shout from the Elves.
 

Turn one. The Goblins were strung out in a long line, with the Shaman on my right flank. As one, they began to circle, desperately gaining height. They knew they would need a higher position if their blowpipes were to have any impact on the Elven armour.

The Elves spurred their reptilian mounts and sped towards the Goblin line, gaining height with every wingbeat. In the middle of the formation, the Lotus Eater sat serenely on his mount, yellow eyes closed, inhaling the fumes from a brazier fastened to his saddle. As he slowly let out his breath, one of the Goblin warleaders paused on his drone, squinting at the jungle suspiciously, then started to break formation in response to an unseen threat. His band of warriors followed suit, chasing their leader´s vision, ignoring the cursing shaman who tried in vain to usher them back into formation.


Turn two. The afflicted Goblins darted off towards the left. The Lotus Eater held his position, his mount beating its wings powerfully. He exerted his will towards the Goblins, aided by the energy of the Lotus coursing in his veins. Yellow wisps formed in the woods all around, and another band of drone riders veered off, dropping to the ground sharply as they unslung their blowpipes and shot a barrage of poisoned darts into the haze. The Shaman, hit by several needles, screeched as his mount spiralled out of control, crashing through the branches with terrible finality. Another drone was hit, but the darts glanced off its carapace.

Shocked, the remaining Goblins continued their spiral till they faced their enemies again, then angled towards the Elven right flank. The Skyriders´ right wingman rode through a tempest of darts. Most went wide, being shot from the back of the frantically zig-zagging drones, the rest pinged off his oval shield as he ducked in the saddle. He and his comrade spurred their mounts, overshooting the Goblins´ line, then pulled up sharply. One of the Goblins sniped at them, but missed, and their own javelins went wide.

The remaining Skyriders glided towards the Goblins and shot their own javelins at the Goblins. By now the little devils had the advantage of height, but three riders were skewered, tumbling out of the skies towards the waiting arms of the emerald jungle. Blood fell like dew upon the leaves.


Turn three. A sudden gust of wind cleared the fumes of the Lotus brazier. The Lotus-Eater was suddenly thrown out of his trance. The spell died on his lips, and his war-beast dropped sharply towards the beckoning forest. The Elves unhooked the vials of carved jade from their belts and drank deeply from the Lotus Elixir. Then the lines collided. For a second, all was chaos. Elven lances speared drones. Chitin swords dented armour. Two Skyriders were caught up in a veritable swarm of drones, dropping down from the main line as they desperately fought off the jabbing stings and swords. Two Dragonbane were stung and crashed into the forest.  The riders who had overshot turned about and gained height, throwing javelins at the few uncommitted drone riders.


Turn four. The uncommited Goblins had gained on the Lotus-Eater. Seeing down the bore of their blowpipes, the Elven mystic tried again to catch the scent of his brazier, failed, and then decided to take the path of discretion. At a command, his mount folded its wings and dropped into the dense foliage. One of the clumps of drone riders caught itself, nearly brushing the leaves, while one of their comrades and the Dragonbane knight crashed into the foliage, dead. The other Skyrider tried to disengage, was wounded by a Chitin sword, and dropped out of sight, still struggling and fighting. Below the branches, the enemies separated (we ruled that since no combat was possible, the combatants would break away automatically).


Turn five. In the green darkness between the trees, the Dragonbane jinked and weaved, with the four remaining drones hot on his tail. The drones that had threatened the Lotus Eater held their position, dropping slightly (going on wait forced them to drop a level) and holding their blowpipes ready. A Skyrider glided by, dropping two javelins which nailed two Goblins to their mounts.

The rest of the Dragonbane circled and spiralled, venturing a few javelins. Their remaining enemies did the same, jockeying for a better shooting angle and occasionally bouncing darts off the reptilian monsters´ thick hide.

Sensing that the danger had diminished, the Lotus Eater forced his mount upward, breaking through into the harsh light. Disoriented, he turned his head and was immediately struck in the eye with a poisoned dart. The poison from the dart raced through his veins, warring with the unnatural vitality of the Yellow Lotus.


Turn six. The remaining Skyriders closed ranks (though at different altitudes) and generally had the higher ground. One pack of drones and a single rider still pursued one Dragonbane in the jungle´s shade, and the other warriors of the Malovanti had spread across the battlefield. As the Yellow Lotus poison from the dart and the Yellow Lotus fumes from his brazier fought for domination of his mind and body, the mystic had a sudden moment of clarity. The remaining two Goblins who threatened him suddenly turned on their mounts and shot down two comrades with their blowpipes, their confused drones tumbling below the treeline in the process.


Turn seven. Finally realising that the fleeing Dragonbane had been drawing them away from the support of their comrades under the roof of the jungle, the drone warriors gave up the chase and popped through up the canopy, only to see the Skyriders swooping down and finishing the last few of their comrades with their lances and thrown javelins. Near them, their quarry broke the surface, blinking in the sudden sunlight.

The remaining four Malovanti realised they were outnumbered, and their enemies were high in the sky above them, ready to swoop down with sharp steel. They threw valour to the wind and dropped down again, ducking low between the Drones´ wings. The hindmost Goblin stared back with hate-filled yellow eyes and shook his fist before vanishing into the thick foliage.


« Last Edit: June 27, 2011, 01:46:11 PM by Horned Owl »
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Horned Owl

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Whew! While the outcome demonstrates that a game with such few numbers will always be ruled by chance, the flow of battle was most satisfactory. The models felt like they were actually flying, zipping about and wheeling to catch the updraught. Models in close combat dropped down (as they could not move without Breaking Away), sometimes catching themselves right on the verge of the treetops, in one case crashing through and continuing in a mad chase below the trees. With these rules, models changed height all the time, climbing, dipping and diving, suddenly sailing quite a distance before spiralling again.

We used an old system called GroxBlox to record height for the flyers. Those are hexagonal blocks of clear plastic that click into each other and can be stacked. Since we used my set of counters, there was little danger of a model overbalancing the stack, but sometimes it was difficult to move the models when several of them were clumped together at different altitudes.

All in all, it was an extremely fun game, and I look forward to applying the same set of rules to the match against the Devout. Now that I got the hang of using the Flying Dragonbane correctly, I feel slightly more confident taking on Marius´ three Soulflayers.
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Cirith

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Looking forward to giving this a proper read later.

On a short holiday up north at the moment...

I like the idea of movement being compulsory with flyers.
People willing to trade their freedom for security deserve neither and will lose both.

Offline joshuaslater

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This is good stuff!!!
May the Dark Lords of Lead-Free Pewter smile kindly upon you.

Homebase: Philadelphia, PA