It’s Warhammer Wednesday (or perhaps Wednesday Night Warhammer, whatever you prefer)!
Yes, I know it’s not actually Wednesday currently, but that’s not the point. The point is that I’ll be sharing with you, dear reader, the goings on in a little get together that myself and a handful of people partake in every Wednesday.
Normally our group, as the name implies, bands together to smash out some Warhammer on a Wednesday night, but sometimes we’ll crank out a board game, a different miniatures game like Epic 40k or maybe some cards.
So what happened last Wednesday Night? Well surprisingly, not Warhammer! A fantastic way to start a new regular series… confusing its audience by not having the article heading relate to the subject matter.
We did manage to have a game of Lord of the Rings and Dreadfleet, both of which were new to our group.
So seeing as these game were both first impressions really, what did I make of them? Read on and find out!
Despite having owned this stand alone, Warhammer-world inspired, naval battle miniatures game since release and also having assembled & painted the majority of the ships included, I have not played a single game all the way through. That was until last Wednesday.
For those who are unfamiliar with the game (which I would assume is most of you as, apparently, the game was poorly received and sold few copies), Dreadfleet is a Games Workshop game, taking place on the high seas of the Warhammer World. The only thing in common with Warhammer though, is the background of the characters / ships.
Like Space Hulk, it doesn’t have any add-ons or expansions and contains everything you need for the game.
It does include a bunch of beautifully crafted ships and rocky scenery, a bunch of dice, cards, markers and a nifty hinged ruler. It also has a pretty seascape cloth mat as it’s playing field.
The rule book contains descriptive background on all the characters, scenarios and of course, rules.
Not having read how to play the game, my opponent and I decided to follow the first scenario in the rule book which was designed to ease players into the game mechanics.
This was a 1 v 1 fight to the death with each player controlling the largest ship from either the “good” or “bad” guys.
I was playing as the evil “Bloody Reaver”, my opponent “The Heldenhammer”. We lined up on opposite corners of the map and decided that now was a good time to find out how to move our boats.
It seemed a simple affair of following what was on the stat cards for each ship. All boats had to travel a certain distance before being able to make a 45 degree turn, some could turn after as little as 2 inches, the Bloody Reaver could turn after 5.
Now I know we stuffed up somewhere with movement because at the start of each turn, players pick up an Event card which adds a random element and also determines which way the wind is blowing. The game has a marker and points on the edge of the mat where you’re supposed to pop the wind token.
Throughout the game we were guessing the wind direction was supposed to effect the movement speed of the ships, but we didn’t read that far and therefore didn’t apply that rule.
Next up: Shooting, fighting and all that good stuff.
Each boat had an eighteen inch broadside shot and the number of shots was displayed on the ships stat card. My boat had 4. The closer you were to the opponent, the easier it was to hit / wound. The opponent would then get a chance to save the damage and if they failed, would have to pick up a damage card for each unsaved wound, which would mostly do very bad things. I say mostly because during the last stages of our game, my ship was riddled with holes, set ablaze, its gun powder stores were blowing up, the rudder jammed, steering wheel stuck, sails ruined and my poor ship mascot killed… which spurred my captain and crew to fight even harder when being boarded (essentially close combat). Hooray for mascot vengeance!
Now we aren’t too certain on how a ship is scuttled or destroyed, but we figured if we picked up enough damage cards affecting our hull to exceed our ships’ Hull statistic, then that ship was sunk. Sounded fair but that’s probably something I should look up.
Anyways, the game played out with both myself and my opponent circling a central piece of rock taking pot shots at each other until I was crippled enough for my opponent to ram me with his special ability… a massive golden, clockwork torso, wielding a large Warhammer. This happened a bunch of times.
You sunk my Battleship!
The last turn had my ship headed straight for a rocky island, unable to steer out of the way and burning. All was not lost though. I was boarded by The Heldenhammer and, as the Bloody Reaver had a substantial crew and a Swashbuckly captain (who died of course), I was able to inflict enough damage on The Heldenhammer to sink it. Yep, I inflicted a total of 4 damage points on my opponent and he drew 4 hull damage cards. I, on the other hand, drew 3 hull damage cards over the course of the game and 11 different special damage cards and 4 speed reducing cards… and I still won. I really like this game :p
So my final thoughts on Dreadfleet are that I think it’s an underrated game. What I played I enjoyed and though it was very simple with only 1 ship per player in this starter scenario, I can see things becoming quite chaotic and exciting with the introduction of more ships. Looking at the stat cards, each has a unique ability and play style, strength, speed and combat ability. I’m actually quite keen to sit down and read the rule book! The next time I re-visit this game, I’ll be much more informed and hopefully bring along some more exciting pictures.
Lord of the Rings:
So with Dreadfleet down and plenty of night remaining, myy opponent Nick busted out his Lord of the Rings figures (which he hadn’t played with in 10 years) and we gave a scenario a go. **Note. I’m going to assume you know what Lord of the Rings is and who the characters are and I’m not going to delve into details of either, just to save time.
Not knowing anything about the Lord of the Rings apart from what I saw at the movies, I was a little apprehensive about the minatures game. Honestly, I thought it’d be like Warhammer-lite. I was glad to be proven wrong.
Being a miniatures game veteran, I was able to get to grips with the system quite quickly. Each character has your usual stats: movement, strength, defence, fighting ability and a few additional quirks specific to each character.
The scenario Nick had planned for us was Balins tomb from the Fellowship of the Ring. The objective of this game was for me, as The Fellowship, to make it from one side to the other with Frodo in one piece. Nick would command 3 units of 12 goblins and a big gribbly. Yep “They have a cave troll!”
Balins tomb is actually a sandy ruin.
So, how’d it all go? Quite well really. Movement is simple, line of sight just as equally simple. We take turns to move our figures, shoot and then do combat. Having a few heroes in the fellowship, I had the choice to make some out-of-sequence moves at the expense of an ability point, which were limited and only a few characters could do this.
Wanting to see how combat played out I had Boromir charge a lone goblin.. looked like easy pickings. What I should of factored in though, is that Boromir, played by Sean Bean in the movie, dies *spoiler alert*. Also, Sean Bean has a habit of playing characters who die. So you can guess what happened with the Boromir goblin fight.. … … good guess but no, Boromir didn’t die. He did take a wound and failed to smack the goblin. The first fight of the game and Boromir got kicked in his enchanted shins by a goblin.
I retaliated by getting Aragon in to show Borofail how to fight.
My game plan now was to get my little hobbitses around one side of the field as to not get swamped and have my much taller heroes take the brunt of the attacks.
I didn’t expect the fights to be so one sided though. Nick did say at the beginning of the game that the heroes tend to be a bit overpowered, which is why the bad guys vastly outnumber the forces of good. Even so, it seemed a little unfair at times.
About half way through our game, I was only a third of the way down the field. My hobbits were surviving (except poor Pippin who fell to some lucky goblin arrow fire) and my punchy fellas were punching like no tomorrow.
You can’t take Boromir anywhere without holding his hand.
Gimli was taking on 4, 6, 8 goblins at a time and winning the fights. Speaking of which, it’s a very simple fighting system. The goblins rolled a die for each model ( a captain rolls 2 dice) in contact with the good guys. I then had to roll higher than the highest of the goblins rolls. So if 4 goblins rolled a 1, 3, 4, 5, I would have to roll a 5 or higher to win the fight. Having more figures in a fight just increases your chance of rolling that much needed 6.
If the rolled numbers were equal, then the figure with the high fighting characteristic won the match… which was usually the heroes (except hobbits because they’re rubbish).
So after a few rough combats, Boromir ran into the cave troll and attempted to stall it to allow the other characters some time to take out more goblins. This is what Boromir was made for, the great sacrifice. If he lost a wound to a goblin, he could surely do his duty and be squished by a troll. Well, Boromir just had to upstage everyone didn’t he? The Troll rolled poorly, Borowin rolled spectacularly and felled the beast in 1 round. Talk about rags to riches.
The penultimate battle…
That pretty much ended the game. I had taken out most of the goblins and Pippin was the only casualty on my side, so Nick conceded.
So, would I play this system? Yup. The rules are clear and very easy to handle and the heroes create very thematic battles. I’ve even started looking at the available range and having a browse on the price of second hand figures. Thankfully the cost of entry is much lower than Warhammer (even at full retail) so my bank account won’t take too much or a beating. Good stuff!
We’ve decided that next week we’ll give Lord of the Ring warbands a go, instead of playing a scenario from the story, to see how different the game plays. If I still enjoy it then… well I guess I’ll need to make room for another game system. #firstworldproblems
Until then folks,