a scenario for the board wargame Battles for Prydain: Heroic Combat in Dark Age Britain 450-650 AD
as the end of part 2 indicated we were about to enter the phase of the First player ( Saxons ) Heroic Combat during Turn 2.
There was a sense of urgency in breaking the Briton resistance and what better way than to cripple their will to stand and fight by cutting down their champions.
The Heroic Combat phase is divided in two main sequences which are ruled very strictly by a class priority in events of challenges for Heroic Combat and corresponding acceptance or not, and the resolution of the fighting.
The active player will select the units that call for challenges in Heroic Combat.
The non-active player will have the opportunity to accept and decline the challenges but to both players the actions taken will have an effect for the whole army.
Saxons decided to focus their main display of martial prowess against the southern end of the Briton line, with 3 challenges there and 1 more on the northern end of the line. All challenges were met.
This was an important part of the rules to explain as the Heroic Combat phase follows a very strict procedure and, as we did, it can be wrongly applied. We happened to mess up the priorities but moved on as we only noticed after we initiated the combats resolution, but doing it correctly is paramount as it implicates directly what units will be tied and cannot be used later to reinforce any heroic combats going on -or- even becoming un-engaged and free to move.
Challenging for Heroic Combat will have consequences as troops die very fast in the most violent clashes of the battle as named and yet unnamed fighters want to be remembered in poems and songs. Their Lords will make sure of that as they “hire” the services of wandering bards, like Taliesin, to write about feats of their people.
The resolution of combat requires for equal distribution of combats within, so in the case shown for example, there’s a 2v2 situation but in the resolution will be two 1v1. There will be rolls to hit and rolls to defend. On successful defence the unit receives a hit to cohesion, on a failure the unit is slaughtered !
Note: This does not mean units cannot “gang” others, is a bit meta ( to manipulate Panic points ) but is perfectly allowed. For example, unit A challenges “hex” B. Hex B accepts challenge and there’s a 1v1 situation. Player of unit A then reinforces the Heroic Combat with an adjacent unit that is eligible, thus making it 2v1, and so on. This “meta gaming” feels weird IF pushed beyond the scope of what feels right and can be used to subvert Panic scores.
As more and more units and status counters are piled into the Heroic Combat marked hexagons it is easier to simply put a number marker on the space and pass all involved units to the Holding areas.
That way the battle map stays clean of all the visual confusion and players can easily look to the side board and check what units are still involved in the Heroic Combats.
This is where we made the most errors, but is natural. We got carried away with the flow of combat and our “mindset in other rulesets” got the better of us.
Instead of the correct application of Attack – Defend results we applied loss of cohesion only on a failure and no result on a success. This prolongs Heroic Combats ad infinitum so to say, where the rules as designed by Eleazar do promote the intense fighting and bloody fast resolution.
We noticed the errors but resolved to not reverse course and play along with it and do it proper in the next phase.
At this point the Turn is still 2 and we still going with the Saxons, first player.
Sorry for a lengthy more technical post but is interesting to note that all this Heroic Combat sequence takes the most time investment while playing and is fairly interesting to explore and explain even if I miss the correct words and syntax to do it justice.
see you in part 4