Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Second Playtest of BLB3 War of The Three Kings

So we decided to have another go at Beneath The Lilly Banners newest version last night. After the last attempt I have actually read and partially digested the rules. The forces are smaller to give us a fighting chance and so is the table!

I have also chopped up a cornflakes box for some order cards and set things up a bit closer together. The last game we really struggled with the game and didn't enjoy it, although found some mechanisms really good, in particular the idea that better quality troops enjoy the use of bigger dice to achieve the same results. But because none of us had really digested the rules there were so many unexpected shifts that it was bewildering. Should I be surrised that we struggled after not bothering to read the rules fully?

Hoping for better results this time!

So for this game the table was 4 feet wide rather than six and we had just one player per side with me translating the rules. So Chris Flowers commanded the Swedes and Steve Shann the Saxons with forces as below:

Swedes
2 Brigades each of 3 battalions of foot Veterans
1 Brigade of 3 regiments of horse Veteran, blade and Elite
1 Brigade of 3 regiments of Poles Raw blade

Saxons
1 Brigade of 4 battalions of foot Drilled
1 Brigade of 2 battalions of foot Raw
I light gun Drilled
1 Brigade of 3 regiments of horse Drilled, ball
1 Brigade of 3 regiments of Polish horse 1 Drilled, 2 raw both blade

So fairly equal numbers but significantly in Swedish favour in terms of quality. I gave the raw Saxons a redoubt to hide in. Usually I would also give the Swedish foot elite and often some units of guard but I think the disparity was enough to reflect the superior Swedes.
Refreshments were a joint effort on this occasion, cookies and tea from Steve, chocolate biscuits from Chris and Battenberg from me (and mainly eaten by me too)


I made the Saxon commander a standard commander but the Swedish commander slightly better. As commanders throw to see how many units they can use this means the Swedes always go one column up from what they roll, if they roll to move only half the army it moves up to all the army, a quarter becomes half and so on. This both reflects the professionalism of the Swedes and also allows us to keep the game moving. We also used the amendments suggested by Barry Hilton for the Swedes, movement goes from 4 inches to 6 and they are allowed to incline unlike other nations which have to wheel. Again reflecting the Swedes GAPA tactics and often better leadership and training. Most foot in BLB3 have to reduce their enemy to shaken or disordered through firing before they can charge, again the Swedes are an exception to this rule as are some other particularly aggressive troop types.
The Poles would be a slight Achilles heal for the Swedes but the one unit of Drilled blade (Winged Hussars) would actually the best unit of Cavalry on the Saxon side. Again this is a historical reflection and much of the Great Northern War was fought to the background of a civil war in Poland between the pro Saxon and pro Swedish factions and those fighting for the Saxons were typically better quality including, as it did, the royal army.
We also missed using the order cards last time completely, so half a cornflakes box later we have cards and find that this makes the system work much better (Surprise!). The game was now flowing and units were moving. the standard move rates still felt small but on a 4 foot table we were able to get into combat.

The Swedish and Saxon cavalry fought one round of Melee and the Saxons broke almost immediately, the Swedes rallying on the spot. In broad terms the outcome felt historical and giving us what we wanted from the game.

The Swedish foot storming the redoubt had mixed results, one unit halted by fire the other closed to bayonets and after winning a round of melee the Raw Saxons facing them automatically routed.


The Poles did not actually get to engage as both sides concentrated their orders on the regular troops. This also highlighted one of two minor criticisms from Steve and Chris. With Chris only managing to activate half his force Steve was clearly able to see which units were getting orders and respond accordingly. Of course he couldn't see what the orders were but had a good idea how best he might respond. The second one being the movement rates. Even changing the Swedes to 6 inches they are more suited to a 4 feet deep table rather than our usual 6 feet.

The Swedes seriously had the upper hand by now but we had run out of time, purposely taking this slowly and deliberately to let the rules mechanisms sink in. The cavalry on the Saxon right wing had left the table and the Swedes were poised to finish the last unit and start rolling up the Saxon flank. The main Saxon foot brigade and the second Swedish foot brigade were completely un-commited, as were the Poles. On the Saxon left however they had one battalion and a gun just in charge range of the next Swedish battalion, the Swedes were damaged so there was a chance that the concentrated fire could keep them out or even force a morale and push them back. However with two more battalions, one entirely untouched they would be overwhelmed sooner or later.



So a Swedish victory, albeit with plenty left to play for. The rules worked really well and we are going to give them another go next week. Two things we will change. Firstly every unit will get an order card, even if only half are available, the other will all be blank. This meaning the other player cannot react to the cards. Secondly we are going to try doubling all movement and ranges on a bigger table to see how that works.

I will of course keep you all updated on how that goes.

24 comments:

  1. Yes, dummy order markers are a must to disguise the units activated.
    BTLB is best played 1:1 - If using multiple players (EG 4), why not use wings with their own C-in-C, so both player on each side have their own order allowance, and stops one player getting nothing to do all day!

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    1. That is a really interesting idea Herkeybird, playing with 4 tomorrow, will discuss whether we use this before the game or save it for next time.

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  2. Great looking game. Interesting idea to use the dummy order cards

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    1. I know, definately using these next time Neil.

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  3. Excellent game, Roger.
    And result not bad. My congratulations!

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  4. Sounds great, beautiful troops, river, redoubt...and cakes!

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  5. Looked a great game Roger. I've yet to play V3 of BLB. I've been reading and reading the rules like made. I want to get a game in asap.
    I use 15mm figures and use the 25mm movement, that works fine, so I can't see the double move for 25's not working.

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    1. Cheers Ray, goign to try it on a bigger table with more players, see how we get on.

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  6. The GNW supplement adds so much more to the flavour including; double order options for the Swedes, mounted firing by Russian dragoons, retire moves for the Swedes, Uncontrolled charge checks, different combat modifiers etc.
    Understanding a rule set is iterative as you chaps seem to have discovered! Having the right gear and reading them also helps! :) Glad you had a good experience this time. I can provide some further detail of the unreleased mechanics if you want to play test them. A group in Derby have been road testing thoroughly all the way so far so, to my knowledge, it all works pretty well. Thanks for the interest

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    1. Thanks Barry, as you say reading and digestign them certainly helps. We want to also use these for a potential sedgemoor, killiekrankie, ireland future project so keen to get it right. I wouldlove to trial the un-released mechanics feel free to email me if thats easiest. Playing again tomorrow with more layers and bigger table so watch this space.

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  7. Roger

    The idea behind order markers is that you also have blanks, ie no order, but place a marker against all units so your opponent doesn't just see you giving orders to units you are moving.
    Toggy

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    1. Perfect Toggy cheers, we had misunderstood that but were goign to try that tomorrow night for our next game.

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    2. Forgot to say Roger table looks great.

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    3. Cheers Toggy, much appreciated.

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  8. Lovely looking table and sounds like a great game. I haven't picked up BLB3, waiting for a PDF version to appear given shipping to Canadian wilds,

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    1. Cheers eter it was , lets see what tomorrow brings.

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    2. Peter, it is available from Warfare USA so no intercont shipping

      https://www.warfareminiaturesusa.com/collections/rule-books/products/beneath-the-lily-banners-the-war-of-three-kings-pre-order

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  9. Gorgeous figures, interesting play test. I'm with Peter, waiting for a hopeful release of a PDF and then I'll order the rules. Following your progress with them with interest.

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    1. Thanks Joseph, Barry can probably tell you if PDF is in the pipeline for next year. Keep you posted on the next playtest.

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    2. pdfs usually come a little down the line. We have to cover the considerable print costs of a hardback before moving to e copy. That said, the book has done incredibly well in six months so I won't have to sell my family into forced labour anytime soon!

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  10. Barry Hilton
    The reality of living in Canada is that it's way cheaper to buy it from the UK! US Hobby shops value cross border commerce about as much as their president. Your US shop charges me $44 US + $27.30 priority shipping (only option)=$71.30US or $96 Loonies. Your UK shop charges 30 quid + 9.5 shipping = 39.50 quid or $66 loonies. When I do order figs or hard copies I never look be,ow the 49th parallel but go straight to the UK. However, PDFs are way more efficient way to go.
    Cheers, Peter

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