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Monday, 25 April 2016

SAC! - Play-test Game 1: Mill Raid

There's been plenty of testing and run through's on the rules so far, with assorted revisions an rewrites, and now that SAC! is looking solid on combat I thought I would post the first official game report!

A few pointers and notes -

* This game is using basic combat rules only, no abilities. To keep it simple and avoid lots of photos of dice, there is no mathematical jargon. I describe only the effects of the combats, not the numbers.

* Don't forget the Archers! The defenders have 3 archers on a balcony. These guys are raining shots down on the attackers each turn. As I don't go much into the dice results, you don't get to see the archers effect, but they are trying to make a difference!

* Speaking of dice.... the top right of the photos show the Command Dice for the current turn. These determine the initiative order for the models and units. 

* Text descriptions are under the relevant photo.

* You can click on any photo for a larger image.

Right then, lets begin....


This is a test game and as such has nothing much beyond the idea of one side trying to raid the mill, and the other side defending it.

I imposed a little rule for the defenders regarding initial deployment - they could only deploy one unit a time from the barracks and then only once the alarm was raised and the raiders were sighted.

SOLO, Player vs Player, Co-op?

Eventually the scenario will be wrote up in full. This raid could be played out as a solo adventure with the player either attacking or defending, or it could be played as Player vs Player, with a player controlling either side. 

The Sides - 

The Attackers.

These guys consist of 5 small units, strong on the attack and well armoured. They have good morale and are lead by a Hero, and a Companion. A point of note: the commanders here have good leadership skills, but the nature of their force - tightly nit small units - mean a lot of effort is needing barking orders each turn.. Something just beyond this particular leaders ability.

In game terms - the force has Leadership 4, but 5 units. 
Its going to take an effort to get everybody moving together each turn

The Defenders

This force consists of a very small garrison of professional troops - 4 swordsmen and 3 archers, which can be relied on to be relatively stable. 
The 5 spearmen though, are hastily pressed conscripts. They will fight, but they aren't going to hold for long. Small units like the spearmen gain more stability through their numbers   

The Battlefield

The mill and bridge are key here. The ford can be crossed, but takes time and reduces movement.
The building to the right represents the local garrisons barracks.

The Look-out

One archer is stationed on the upper balcony of the Mill and acts as watchman. 
When he spots the attacking force, he can raise the alarm 

The Barracks

The Captain of the Guard will muster his men in this location once he hears the alarm.
The barracks houses both units - the swordmen and the spearmen - but only one unit will become readied per turn.

The Woodland

The attackers begin moving through the woodland to cover their approach.
This reduces their initial movement until they exit the cover.

Turn One - Attackers point of view

The attackers hold the 'advantage' to begin with. They will keep this until they lose more combats in a single turn than they win. Advantage means they act first in ties.
On phase 3, two units move through the woods. On phase 6, one unit moves and the companion activates, tacking personal command of the unit near him, and they move together.

Heroes always activate for free. Four orders per turn and 5 units mean already the attacker picks up a unit of stragglers. 

Turn One - Defenders point of view

The Archers are out of line of sight and so cannot be given an order. Their lookout however warns his mates, who come out onto the balcony. Units normally require orders to activate, but this scenario allows the archers to deploy for free, It still requires a phase though (phase 4).

In phase 5, the first unit emerges from the barrracks - the spearmen hastily grab their gear and rush to the Captains side.

Turn Two - 1 and 1, who is first?

Both sides have rolled '1's on their Leadership dice, so activates first?
For this we go back to who holds initiative. The scenario grants the Attacker the initiative, so they hold advantage and activate first.

Not that the archer mind much - a closer target is easier to hit!

Turn Two - Defender

Remember that a unit needs line-of-sight to a Hero or Companion to receive orders. There is a special exception to this, but that requires a visible enemy close by. As this special exception doesn't occur here, the Captain needs to ensure he can see all the units under his command.

Turn 3 - A good example

On phase 1 the Captain of the defenders, orders his swordsmen to run around the side of the building and meet him on the other side. 
The attackers advance on phase 2 and 3, the attacker companion again choosing to activate and use his own 1 point of leadership on the axemen near him. 
Phase 4 sees the defenders spear hasten to block the bridge. The archers fire on 5.

Finally more attackers emerge from the woods on phase 6.

Turn 3 - Alternate angle

As well as showing the paths taken by the defenders Captain and swordsmen, an important note can be made here about the 'Reaction' rule. If a unit is within 12" and los of an enemy, they do not require orders to activate, they can 'React' instead.

Reactions are either move towards, or move directly away. Sometimes a player may still want to issue an order if they require the unit to do something other than those two options. In this case, the Captain moves to retain los, just in case he needs to micro-manage the swordsmen!

Turn 4 - Reaction vs Normal

Reaction phase does not require orders, but where more than one unit wishes to move under Reaction, who goes first is based on the Leadership roll for the round. 

Here we can see the bottom units move under Reaction (in Phase 1), but dont use the phase 1 order.
This allows the units at the top to use the order tokens as normal.

Turn 5 - COMBAT!!!!

The attackers spearmen on the bridge lose a round of combat against the numerically superior defenders group. Even though the attackers are better fighters, extra numbers give a slight advantage. extra numbers with pointy sticks give a better advantage as the reach of the weapon makes it easier to help a friend in combat.

Having already taken damage from arrows during their approach, the attackers spearmen do not fancy a prolonged combat. In SAC! the loser of a combat must decide to stay or fall back. Withdrawing is not easy and carries the risk of an orderly withdrawal turning into a rout.

The spearmen test moral - Success! They fall back in good order.

Now the attacker has an decision to make. Having won combat, and seeing the enemy retreat, makes a unit tend to fancy the pursuit. In order to stay the line and avoid running after a retreating enemy, a unit must pass a Morale test. As these spear are not professional soliders they dont have much training, which reflects in a low Morale.

On this occasion they fail their role to hold position and charge after the withdrawing spear!


Though they failed to hold themselves back, the defenders spear now find themselves in a great position. Their superior numbers and quick move speed allow them to not only pursue the attackers spear, but to wrap around the flanks.

Though the attackers spear may be superior troops, they are about to be over run!

Turn 5 - The Defenders Swordsmen Attack!

Bolstered by the Captain joining the fight, and already having a man-up on the attackers force, the defenders swordsmen beat back the attackers....

Turn 5 - Losing control!!?

In a similar fashion to the defenders spear, the defenders sword also fail their morale test to hold position, and go charging over the river after the falling back troops of the attacker.

Turn 5 - Little choice....

With both his units fighting on the wrong side of the river, the Captain has little choice but to also cross and hope the momentum continues.

Turn 5 - The counter charge

Last to act this turn, in phase 5, is the attacker.
The companion activates and charges in to support his sides sword fighting at the river. At the same time he orders the double-handed axemen to have at the Captain!

The attackers Hero chooses to help his beleaguered spear.

Despite a last minute counter strike, the attacker finds that they have lost more combat rounds than they have won this turn - Advantage changes hands! The Defender now holds the initiative!

Turn 6 - the first casualty!

Hard pressed all battle, the toil begins to take its effects on the attacker. The first casualty - one of the spearmen pushed from the bridge and overwhelmed by the defenders light spear,

Turn 6 - the bodies start to pile!

On the other side of the field, the combat goes again in favour of the defender. 
A second model of the attacker falls casualty

Turn 6 - Its not over yet!

Despite all the dice coming up in favour of the Defender acting first, the rest of the phase is entirely for the attacker, and the numbers are out of the woods.....

Turn 6 - All pile on!

Here we can see an excellent example of positioning and placement.
Models normally connect (and fight) front to front. Additional supporting - or assisting - models are first placed on the flanks/sides of an enemy model, and finally on the rear of an enemy when the flanks are connected.

Such positioning allows two bonuses - firstly automatic damage each round on the surrounded model, and secondly a bonus to resolving combat.

A strong fighter may be able to win a round of combat against a weaker mob, but with the mob doing automatic damage, and only the loser having the option to withdraw, a surrounded target best quickly dispatch  their assailants or find themselves soon dragged down by weight of numbers.

Turn 6 - the worm turns!

Now it is time for the defender to lose combat. The Captain tries desperately to impose an orderly retreat on his men. Both the Captain and the sword pass their moral - the fall back is at least not a rout

Turn 6 - Press on

A tough decision is made by the attacker. Do they press the advantage, or try to hold? What if one unit fails to hold, but the other succeeds? Weight of numbers would go back in favour of the defender.

Its a tough call, but the attacker cant let the Captain go so easily, even if it means their sword must battle hard to hold off the defenders still superior numbers.

Turn 6 - Meanwhile on the bridge...

With the attackers warlord joining the fray, and the sword surrounding one poor spearmen, the lightly armoured spear of the defender take their first casualty.
Now they are in real danger of being killed to the man!

Turn 6 - ROUT!!

The defenders light spear try to fall back from the attackers weight. The trouble is, they are not the best trained soldiers. It takes only seconds for the fall back to turn into a free-for-all rout.

The attack pursues and now the real carnage begins. Another spearmen goes down, stabbed in the back as he tries to run!

Turn 7 - Bye Bye!

Before any reaction moves take effect, models routing are moved first.
The defenders spear men make a break for their lives.

Turn 7 - Pursuing in armour is hard

Though the attacker now holds advantage, meaning they resolve tied orders first, the extra armour of the attackers spear means they are just a touch slower than the lighter troops of the defender.

There is a option available to them though - the PRESS.
SAC! allows orders to be spent on units which have already activated once, in order for them to take an extra action in the turn (a unit can only ever be pressed once per round).

To succeed in a 'Press' requires the unit receiving the order to pass a morale test. If they succeed they can act again this turn, but if they fail the order is lost and wasted!

The attacking spear could be pressed in phase 3, but before then, 
the defender has an action in Phase 2....

Turn 7 - Rein of Arrows!

The attackers spear are already close to exhaustion. They have taken a real kicking so far this battle.
The defenders archers take advantage of this, and use their elevated position to shoot down on the attackers spear. A decisive move to save their friends.

And a successful one! Another attacker spear goes down!

Turn 7 - No friends? No rally!

When a unit takes a high degree of casualties and falls a Moral test, it routs and cannot be rallied.
 It has simply had enough. The casualty from the archers fire forces such a reaction on the spearman. 
With his friends down, this guy has had enough and is leaving!

Turn 7 - One last attempt....

The Captain of the defenders is about to fall. There is hope however and it lies with his swordsmen. Their weight of number and ability to hit flanks and rear of the 2-handed axemen could save the Captains life. There is hope, but it lies on a great dice roll next turn....

Turn 8 - Alas, it is not to be!

The attackers score better on the roll of initiative! This means they can react move into combat before the defender can. All the attacker needs to do is charge the defenders sword and pin them so they cannot help the Captain. Meanwhile the attacker can surround the Captain, and no matter his resolve, it is a fight he just cannot win.

Raid successful!

Thanks for reading. I hoped you enjoyed the commentary.

As SAC! is a campaign game as well as a skirmish, there would be the usual loot rewards as well as experience for the combatants involved. These rules are still far off from completion though, but stay tuned - more SAC! real soon!

If you would like more information on SAC!, have any comments, suggestions, questions, or feedback (please!) - do get in touch, I would love to hear from you.


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