Friday, October 2, 2015

Darklands Battle Report: Brythoniaid vs. Khthones

Rather than a painting showcase this week, I've got another Darklands battle report for you! My regular sparring partner, David Sweatt, brings his Khthones against the matchup requested by the Darklands: Savage Hordes Kickstarter comments page - the Brythoniaid!
Can the dragon-men repel the serpentine invaders? Will the Khthones get to bring moustached slaves back home for their torment? How will Ryan proxy the models he doesn't have yet? How many rules will we get wrong? All this, and more, after the jump!
A small taste of things to come
The Teryn sped up the hill, shield slung over his back. Behind him, the church bell still tolled the DONG, DONG, DONG that warned all who could hear that raiders were incoming. At the top a massive Prifdyndraig, ornate in his flame-forged armour, towered over an Abad, short and pudgy, in robes spattered with mud. Both inclined their heads at his approach, and both regarded him with a look of respect. "My lord Cadmund," the Abad greeted him. The Prifdyndraig rumbled his own greeting in Cymric. Cadmund nodded his own greeting as he caught his breath.
"Are they Norse dragonships?" he asked his advisors. The Prifdyndraig snorted his scorn at the term while the Abad shook his head.
"No, my lord," the monk replied. "These are thinner, and bear a sea serpent. I've not seen their like before."
I have, Cadmund thought, while raiding in Anglia. "We shall need to shift defensive positions then," he informed his advisors. "They won't be raiding for gold, but for food and slaves. We should focus on defending the city and the pastures, rather than the monastery." The Abad bristled, but Cadmund raised a hand to placate him. "Leave your Mynach Du there, in case I am wrong, but find me a unit of bowmen to ambush them from the flank. Khthones strike quickly, and withdraw just as fast. You may have to settle for hunters." He turned to the draconic commander. "Moelgladhoc, do you have any brethren with you today?"
"Three," rumbled the Prifdyndraig. "Young, but the fire burns brightly within them."
"You shall take my right flank," Cadmund commanded. "I shall hold the center with my Teulu. They will likely disembark from the river, so we shall attempt to engage them near Cumwhinton. The cover there should allow us to be almost upon them before they realize we are there."
"The Lord shall grant us stealth," the Abad agreed. As if in answer, the first drops of rain began to fall.

This battle features a 999 gold Brythoniaid force facing off against 999 gold of Khthones.

For the Brythoniaid:
A Teryn in heavy armour (112 gold)
   Commanding 7 Teulu with a standard and musician (184 gold) [Proxied by Norse Holumenn]
An Abad (91 gold)
   Commanding 5 Helwr (115 gold) [proxied by Rackham areqebusiers]
A Prifdyndraig with heavy armor (191 gold)
   Commanding 3 Dyndraig with heavy armor (303 gold).

For the Khthones:
A Gorgor with a bow (165 gold) [Proxied by Xonthor]
   Commanding 2 Gorgonares in heavy armor (150 gold)
   Commanding 3 Szalamandra (210 gold) [Proxied by flaming lizards]
A Liskarch with heavy armour (291 gold)
   Commanding 2 Hydrar in heavy armour (156 gold)

We started the game by rolling the time of day, and determined the battle would begin at 1 PM. The weather, as determined by the dice, was raining (though it had just started), and the wind was blowing mildly to the southwest.

Both of us chose our deployment styles, and we made our first mistake - we deployed based on Unit authority, and deployed units instead of setting up entire Commands. Instead, we should have alternated deploying the commander with the lowest Authority and all units in his command. Instead, we got it wrong.
The Khthones player started putting his Szalamandra near the center of the board, on my left flank. The Brythoniaid player responded with Dyndraig 3" away, which were countered with Hydrar. The Welsh responded to that drop with the Teulu, with the Teryn, set up in tight formation (to keep options open if they was charged first) and joined by the Teryn. The Gorgonares set up behind the Hydrar, while Brythoniaid set up the Abad behind the shieldwall. Khthon set up the Liskarch near his flank edge, behind some woods. Finally, the dragon-men set up the Prifdyndraig just behind and center-forward of my Dyndraig, while the Gorgo set up at the back of the Khthonic deployment zone. Once placed, the Brythoniaid Flanking Helwr set up in their left flanking zone, giving them at least one shot at the Liskarch before he got to them.
The field at Deployment. Wind is blowing from right to left, at the diagonal.
From left to right, Helwr, Liskarch (black, behind the woods), Adab, Teulu shieldwall, Hydrar (above them), Dyndraig (below them), Gorgonares (far above them), Gorgor (on the scree hill), Szalamandra (in red), Prifdyndraig.

Hour 1

The rain lifted, and the snake-men stood revealed before them. Directly ahead of Cadmund, two serpents with three heads spat venom at the humans that suddenly appeared before them. "Lock shields!" bellowed the Teryn, as the serpents began slithering forward in a charge. 

First Activation

The Khtones won the Initiative to go first, and were forced to activate the Feral Hydrar first. The Hydrar charged the Teulu, who formed a Shieldwall in response. The Hydrar missed their tail attacks, but Struck with 5 bite attacks. The Teulu parried 4 of those, resulting in 2 wounds to the unit. Undaunted, the Hydrar lashed out with their Khineblades, getting 13 successful Strikes. The Teulu parried 8 of them, but the remaining 5 were sufficient to push 26 wounds onto the Teulu, slaying two of them outright.
The Teryn on the end swung back, getting 4 strikes through. The Hydrar parried 2, and the Teryn dealt 7 wounds to one Hydrar. The remaining Teulu did not do so well, only striking with 3 dice, and having 1 parried back. They were able to get 8 wounds on the Hydrar as a result.
The Hydrar had two blood tokens, a charge token, and a Strength token, resulting in a Combat Score of 4. The Teulu had a single Blood Token, and a Banner token, resulting in a Combat Score of 2. Despite the +10 modification to their Panic Test (-20 for the Combat Difference, and +10 for their Banner), they easily passed their Fortitude Test. They became Shaken, though, and the Hydrar became Exulted from their victory.
The Teryn on the left flank holds the line as Hydrar crash into the Teulu (proxied by Norse Holumenn) shieldwall.
The abruptness of the encounter had surprised Cadmund, but now that his shieldwall had held before the venomous onslaught, the Teryn regained himself and began to bellow orders. To his right, the Dyndraig stretched their legs into a charge, crashing into the four-legged lizards that were somehow radiating heat. The two forces were almost upon each other before either knew of the other. He'd intended to set an ambush, but not to be the one caught in it! Still, the loud prayers of the Abad behind him reminded him that the Lord was on his side, and surely that was enough. If not, well, that's why the men of Gwynned allied with the dragons.

Second Activation

The Brythoniaid player now got to Activate a unit. Without any Feral units, he was free to activate any unit under Attack orders, such as the Dyndraig. The Dyndraig charged the Szalamandra, getting two into Contact Range, and the third into Engagement Range for his War Cleaver.
None of the Dyndraig bites succeeded in Striking, and they had been too close for Impact charges, but their Cleavers struck 10 times. The Szalamandra were only able to parry 4 of them. The Dyndraig rolled a ton of 9's on their Wound dice, and dealt 97 wounds to the Szalamandra, slaying two of them and gaining 9 Blood Tokens.
The remaining Szalamandra Attack Moved to engage the Dyndraig, and struck with two Tail Strikes, for 8 wounds. His bite struck for 5 strikes, and the Dyndraig parried only 2, dealing 16 more wounds to the Dyndraig.
The Szalamandra had 2 Blood Tokens, but the Dyndraig had 9 and a Charge token, so the Szalamandra was forced to roll on the Feral Monster Panic test. He rolled Panic (rather than Trample), and failed the subsequent test, as he was +80 to his Fortitude roll. The Dyndraig chose to chase, and rolled a 1 for their distance, having a Chase Range of 7". The Szalamandra rolled a 4, giving him an 11" move and getting him clear of the unit. The Dyndraig's Chase Move was sufficient to put two in contact with the Gorgonares, however. The Chase Move also moved them through one of the Teulu, but the subsequent Impact Strike failed to Strike their high skill, and as the Teulu were already Shaken, the additional Shaken token had no effect on them.
Again, we mis-played the rule - as the Dyndraig had already attacked that round and were not Feral, they should have gone to Weary after the Chase roll was concluded. Instead, we misinterpreted the rule and they performed their Charge Attack on the Gorgonares, with one in Contact Range and one in Engagement Range for his Cleaver.
The initial bite attack was parried, but 6 cleaver attacks struck. The Gorgonares parried 4, and took 8 wounds. The Dyndraig lost their 9 Blood Tokens, and the Gorgonares struck back, or at least tried to.
The Gorgonares were able to strike with one Tail Strike, for 3 wounds, but all 3 bite Strikes were parried, as were all 6 Khineblade strikes. The Dyndraig had a Combat Score of 2 (1 for the Charge token, and one from being Exulted for winning combat), and the Gorgonares failed their Fortitude check by 6 and found themselves fleeing as well. The Dyndraig chased, and this time rolled a 4 for their Charge Range. The Gorgonares rolled a 2, and the Dyndraig slew the unit before moving 10" towards the Khthones flank edge.
The Dyndraig (green/gold, on left) complete their Chase Move into the Gorgonares (blue, on right). The fleeing Szalamandra is visible at the top right, and the Hydrar at the bottom center.

Third Activation

The Khthon player chose to activate his Liskarchon, and knowing his Charge Move would be hindered by the forest, instead chose to Move out of the forest and use his Gaze attack on the Helwr. The Helwr passed his check to avoid, but the Liskarchon's Wound roll was high enough to slay one anyway.
A cheer went up from the Brythonaid line as the lizards began to withdraw. The Dyndraig had cut bloody swaths through the red four-legged ones, and had then chased down two of the larger serpents. The Teulu shieldwall still held, jostling for position as the beasts before it lashed multiple heads over and through the stout oaken defense. Rustling in the East distracted attention though, and a massive humanoid lumbered out of the forest in front of the Helwr. Their mutterings increased as the creature looked up, and the malevolence in its eyes could not be denied. Indeed, one of the archers turned to stone at the merest glimpse of it.

Fourth Activation

The Helwr, with no way to avoid a charge in the next hour, instead moved up to get within Lethal Range and deny the Liskarchon a swift charge. They then nocked their bows, and send a flood of arrows at the Liskarchon. However, only 2 wounds made it through on the stone-maker.

Fifth Activation

The Gorgor activated next, shifted positions, and fired her bow at the Prifdyndraig. One Shot dice struck, and the Prifdyndraig failed to parry it, taking 6 wounds.

Sixth Activation

With the Dyndraig out of the way, the Prifdyndraig Charged into the Hydrar. He did 6 wounds on the Bulk Charge, and 30 more from his Cleaver, slaying one of the Hydrar but the remaining one passed his Fortitude test and remained in place.

The Prifdyndraig towers over the Hydrar, apathetic about its number of heads.

Seventh Activation

Finally, anticipating a Liskarchon charge on the Helwr, the Brythoniaid player moved his Abad into the Helwr unit and Joined it.

Hour Two

The weather moved from Raining to Showers, ending the threat of the rain saturating the ground and slowing movement, and the Wind increased in strength, now blowing out of the East.
The rain began to let up, and Cadmund began to allow himself some hope. The initial charge of the snake-hydras had not been as impressive as he had feared, and the sight of the Prifdyndraig towering over the beasts and withdrawing his glaive from one had boosted the morale of the Shaken Teulu. He raised his sword and pointed to the second of the beasts. "Bring him down!" he yelled as the serpent spat its fury at them. Well-trained as ever, the Teulu moved to surround the creature, even as its fangs lashed out once again.

First Activation

The two generals took their Authority tests, and the Teryn chose to re-roll his, succeeding on Gaining the Initiative. He chose to activate his own unit, and performed an Attack Move to get as many Teulu as possible in combat with the Hydrar. Six of his own attacks Struck, but the Hydrar parried 5 of them, despite needing a 7 to do so and only suffered 6 wounds. The remaining Teulu struck with 5 dice, but the Hydrar again parried 4 of them, only suffering 3 wounds.
The Hydrar then activated, but his Tail Strike, Bite, and four Khineblade strikes were all parried by the shields of the Teulu. The Prifdyndraig finished up the engagement with 49 wounds off its War Cleaver, easily finishing the Hydrar.
The Teulu and Teryn close in on the Hydrar, poison be damned!

Second Activation

The Khthones activated the Liskarchon, charging  the Helwr. Only 3 of his Maul attacks struck, and the Helwr shockingly parried two of them, as well as the 2 strikes with his Slave Chains.
In response, the Abad struck twice. The Liskarchon failed to parry either, and the Abad rolled a 9 for damage, allowing him to deal 25 wounds to the Liskarchon. The Helwr also activated, striking with 6 knife attacks. The Liskarchon parried 5 of them, and took 5 wounds from the remaining dice.
With both units having a Combat Score of 1 (charge versus wounds dealt, both units had a size of 4), nobody had to take Fortitude tests.
The Liskarchon faces off with the Helwr and their Abad

 Third Activation

The Dyndraig Moved towards the last Szalamandra, and attempted to Spray it with their Fiery breath. Despite two of them Striking, neither could do damage, and the Szalamandra escaped harm.

Fourth Activation

The Gorgonar then activated, and moved closer towards the Brythonaid. Cutting herself with her Torc, she invoked Lava Threads on the Teulu, dealing a horrifying 50 wounds to the unit (including a 9, lighting them on fire!) - slaying all but the Teryn and two of them.
So that's a token I guess I'll be making.

With the battle turning in his favour, Cadmund heaved a sigh of relief. This was not his first battle, nor his tenth, but command was still new to him and he had learned that worrying about one's own survival was different than worrying about the survival of your men. On the hill above him, the female snake let out a scream of fury, and flung words across the battlefield. "What on earth..." began the Teryn, but the words were ripped from his mouth as the ground cracked open and liquid fire leapt out. Three of his men died in an instant, shrieking, and the remaining two stared in horror as the flames caught on their cloaks and shields.

 Fifth Activation

Finally, the Szalamandra passed its Rally test, despite the presence of the Dyndraig right next to it.
At the end of the hour, the Teulu passed their Skill test to put out the fire from the Lava Threads, so they took no further damage from being lit on fire.

Third Hour

The weather changed to overcast, and the wind died down and moved back to be out of the Northeast.

First Activation

The Khthones player won the Initiative, and activated the Gorgorar general, who charged the Dyndraig down the scree slope she had been standing on. Though it was a long charge, she rolled a 0 on her Difficult Terrain test, meaning her movement was reduced by 0" and giving her plenty of distance to get in. Once in, she performed an Attack Invoke, throwing Melding Metal on the Dyndraig in front of her and causing 16 wounds to them, in addition to destroying their armour. She then lashed out with her blades, striking with 10 of her attacks. The Dyndraig were able to parry 7, but the Gorgorar went 9-crazy, inflicting Venom damage on the unit as well as an amazing 45 wounds!
One of the Dyndraig fell from her onslaught, but the other two Attack Moved into her, and struck with four of their War Cleaver attacks. Confused, the Gorgonar failed to parry any of them, and took 43 wounds in return, dropping at their feet. The Dyndraig celebrated their victory with a Reform reaction, turning to face the Szalamandra.

Second Activation

The Brythoniaid player then activated his Abad and Helwr, hoping to bring down the Liskarchon before it could slay more. The Abad struck with all five of his mace attacks, but the Liskarchon was able to parry three of them, and his Hardy rule negated some of the damage rolled, with the Abad only dealing 5 wounds to him. The Helwr struck with five of their own attacks, and the Liskarchon parried only one of them. The Helwr lost the effects of one of their wounds to the Liskarchon's Hardiness, but did 10 wounds to the mighty commander.
The Liskarchon activated in retaliation, and the Helwr found themselves defending against his onslaught. They were able to parry his Tail strikes, but his Maul dealt 8 wounds to them, and his chain dealt another 5, slaying one of the archers. With one blood token and a Strength token to his favour, the Helwr were forced into a Panic test. Fortunately, the Abad's high Fortitude made success easy, even with the +20 modifier.

The Teulu were no longer on fire, and Cadmund was preparing to turn them to help his archers, when a gurgling noise before him drew his attention. The red four-legged beast the Dyndraig had run off earlier had regained it senses, and was glaring at the remnants of the small infantry band. It gurgled in its throat, and opened its mouth to belch a thick gob of fire through the air, towards the weakened humans.

Third Activation

The Khthones player activated his Szalamandra, and decided to spit its Fire Gobbet at the center Teulu. Unfortunately for it, both of its Strike rolls missed, meaning that the template would scatter d10 inches. The Khthones player rolled a 5 for direction (which put it straight over the heads of the Teulu, in the line it was already firing), and an 8 for distance. The Fire Gobbet sailed straight over the Teulu's heads, and spattered into the rain-soaked turf behind them.
The Teryn had ducked, involuntarily, as the fiery phlegm sailed over its head, and he stood up, wide eyed. He had escaped a horrified immolation by yards, and the knowledge unnerved him. Fortunately, his allies were too busy to notice his concern.
"You breathe fire, do you?" roared the Prifdyndraig in challenge. "You would bring fire-breathers against the kin of the dragons? Let us see what the fire does to you!"
Fourth activation
The Brythoniaid player activated his Prifdyndraig, and charged the Szalamandra. For grins, he chose to use the Prifdyndraig's Fire of Gwaelod breath attack instead of his bite, and the template easily covered the Szalamandra. He struck with a single attack, and the Szalamandra was unable to parry it, taking 4 wounds. The Prifdyndraig succeeded in striking with all but one of his War Cleaver attacks, and this time the Szalamandra was unable to parry any. The Prifdyndraig dealt a staggering 71 wounds to the beast, enough to kill it twice over.
Fifth activation
Finally, the Brythoniaid player activated his Teryn, moving him out of the Teulu unit and over towards the Liskarchon to help if required. The Teulu moved away from the Liskarchon, over towards where the Dyndraig and their commander were.

Hour 4

The Brythoniaid won the Initiative, and activated the Helwr and Abad. The Abad struck first due to his high skill, but the Liskarchon parried all but one of his Strikes, taking 5 wounds. The Helwr had more success, striking with all their attacks and only  having one parried. They wounded the Liskarchon for 32 wounds, slaying the last of the Khthones and giving the Brythoniaid a resounding victory.

The Abad and his two hunters prepare to bring down mighty prey.
The foes slain, Cadmund called for his men to regroup and head for the shoreline, to seize or destroy the boat the Snake-men had arrived on. 
"The Lord was surely on our side today," proclaimed the Abad, his face splattered with red-brown ichor. Behind him, the Helwr were attempting to skin the beast they had just slain, but their knives were having trouble cutting cleanly. 
"Surely not just the Lord," rumbled the Prifdyndraig as it joined them, its eyes narrowed. The blood-lust was still on it, and Cadmund knew it to be sensitive to what it viewed as pious bleatings from the clergy.
"We had great help on our side," the Teryn said to placate both sides. "The Lord gave us victory and kept us safe, but the strength of dragons was vital to our success." He held up a hand to cut off the Abad's protests. "Does the smith complain when the Lord gives him ore in the rocks, or the knowledge of how to smelt it out, or the fire with which he can do it, and the tools and talent required to perform his work? No more should we, for the Lord made all things, dragons among them. Do you think they would be our allies, if it were not His will?"
The Abad sank into a brooding silence, then responded. "You make sense," he begrudgingly conceded. "Besides, both sides had fire-breathing monsters. Clearly, the ones the Lord favors would gain the victory."

Post-Game Thoughts

Well, David and I messed up the rules quite a bit on this one, starting with Deployment - it's done by Commands, not by units. The Dyndraig overrun into the Gorgonares was also messed up, though I'm not sure it would have made a great difference at that point in the game - the Gorgonares would have done some damage to the Dyndraig, but the Dyndraig would have had 9 blood tokens and a charge, so they would not have lost the combat unless the Gorgonares wiped them out. The Gorgonares would not have had to take a Fortitude check (you only test Panic if you take damage), but the Dyndraig would have gotten their charge bonuses (impact strikes and the Swift Charger bonus for strikes/parries) on the next turn, and could have Attack Moved the last one into range as well, so they would have had more attacks.

Not knowing how your opponent is setting up is vital, and I intend to study the deployment options to figure out places where they overlap, so I can drop a command or two without necessarily giving away the one I am using. Being able to drop a shieldwall right in front of a Feral unit that I knew would have to go first proved the linchpin of my strategy, and gave the Dyndraig a great opportunity to get rid of the Szalamandra before they could destroy my infantry.

David feels he made a mistake by running two units of 2 on his Khthones; next game he will either run 4 Gorgonares or 4 Hydrar, but not two units of each. We also both agreed that he messed up big time by deploying his Szalamandra so far forward - he'd thought I was going to do a corner deployment to give me a few hours of shooting with the Helwr. Had he kept them closer to his head edge and behind his other units, he would have gotten an hour or two to fire into the Helwr or Teulu, and the battle would have had a much different outcome.

This was the second game I've played using Combat Results, and it has completely transformed Darklands for me. It's gone from a reactive game (get in combat and just stay there) to a think-ahead game, where I have to plan the charges, anticipate overruns, and attempt to mitigate my opponent's ability to do the same. It may be skirmish-based, but I can see how important movement is going to be in games moving forward.

Invocations remain a powerful force in the game, and shooting seems a bit less overpowered than it was in earlier versions of the game, now that wind and weather can have an effect on it. The biggest surprise to me in this game was the Helwr, whose high skill allowed them to hit the Liskarchon at a very high rate. With the Abad softening it up in the second Hour, it let the Helwr come in and finish it off, even though by rights they should not have been able to do so.

I was disappointed I didn't get to use the Abad's Retribution channel, but his presence stopped the Gorgor from Invoking into the Teulu in the first hour, and with the effectiveness we saw of Lava Threads, that probably can't be understated as a cause for victory.

Weather did not play a huge factor in the game (the entire game was spent firing cross-wind, and the one turn with a lot of shooting was done when Wind Strength was at 1. It was fun to roll it though, and I look forward to getting to use the Fomoraic snow at some point! If nothing else, it'll give you a new table surface to watch me play on.

Finally, I've said it before but it bears repeating: a wargame using d10s is so much more detailed than one using d6s. There are so many more potential modifiers for rolls in Darklands because you have that 0-9 range, not 1-6. Not only is the math easier to figure out what percentage should hit or Parry, but you can have a lot more options for penalties to make the game more realistic.

With Alamo coming up, I'm not sure when I'll be able to get my next game in, but I'll do what I can to make it sooner rather than later! Thanks for reading, and let me know what you thought!


  1. Awesome report! Thanks! And, get painting! ;)

  2. Thanks for posting this! It was very good to read and I like the fluff intermixed with the reporting.