My friend and I are hoping to enter the UK SBG doubles tournament this year and played our first couple of practice games over the weekend. These were our first games using the Warband system and the new scenarios. We played ‘To the Death’ and ‘Hold Ground’ using the force sizes and restrictions laid out by the tournament pack. Whilst the games had some highlights (we particularly enjoyed the slightly chaotic deployment of Hold Ground which led to both forces being completely split up and resulted in several mini-battles - good fun) we came up against several frustrating issues on which I’d appreciate your input.
The pertinent tournament rules are:
All games are played on a 4 x 4 table.
Each doubles team will have 4 separate 500 point army lists, 2 of evil and 2 of good.
These armies all have to stand individually and meet all the normal force selection requirements. Whilst playing in the tournament, your 2 evil armies are allies and your 2 good armies are allies. Thus in every game you will be playing with either a 1000 point good army or a 1000 point evil army.
You play ‘To the Death’ ‘Hold Ground’ and ‘Reconnoitre’ twice each, once with your good army and once with your evil army.
Each game is scheduled 2 hours (including set up time).
These are the conditions we used for our practice games (except we finished the games rather than capping them at 2 hours) and we came up against a few issues.
The first and most prevalent was time. It’s generally agreed that the ideal force size for SBG is around 600-750 before the game becomes bloated and slowed down by all the individual combats. It’s hard to accurately measure because we had a few breaks here and there but our game of ‘To the Death’ lasted around 6-7 hours! I’d like to stress at this stage that we know the game rules and were playing pretty fast with minimal book checking. The main reason seemed to be the victory conditions; the game doesn’t end until one side (in the tournament that means one 1000 point army) has been reduced to 25% of its starting numbers or less. With such big armies this became a complete slog. We were both playing pretty well tactically but a lot of times, even when we won fights, a lot of troops wouldn’t die due to high Defense and Fury rolls etc. This made the game drag on and on until neither of us were having that much fun, the player who lost the fight was almost hoping for his troops to die just to move the game forward! It’s obviously possible that we could shave a bit of time off the game length but I can’t see how you could break (25%) a force of this size in 2 hours.
The other deeply, DEEPLY frustrating issue with this scenario is that when it finally ended, the victory conditions in no way reflected what had happened in the game. You get points for breaking your opponent (both were broken so they ruled each other out) and points for wounding/killing the enemy leader and having a banner left. After slogging it out for 7 hours this felt completely unsatisfying and unreflective of what we had achieved. In a game called ‘To the Death’ it’s possible that 2 players could go at each other for a while until both were broken and then whoever was reduced to 25% of their numbers first could win the game if they had hid their banner and leader in a forest. It seems crazy to me that in a game where the objective is to kill everyone and reduce their force to 25%, no bonus is given for reducing your enemy’s force to 25% or for the amount of models killed. This made both players come away from the game deeply frustrated and feeling that very little we had done over the course of the game had had any great effect on the outcome of the battle.
We then played ‘Hold Ground’ which had similar issues. The length of this scenario is decided by rolling a dice every turn once one force has been broken (50%), if you roll a 1-2 the game ends. This game was quicker (4-5 hours) but still dragged on and felt like a bit of an effort towards the end with each player hoping for a 1-2 just to end the game! The big issue here of course is that you could (potentially) never roll a 1-2 and the game could go on forever or until one side is utterly wiped out, conditions that don’t lend themselves well to 2 hour games. I will say that the victory conditions in this scenario are better thought out, the 1VP for every model within 6” of the objective made a lot of sense and was actually the deciding factor in the game, producing a satisfying conclusion.
Hopefully this sums up the issues that we had, I suppose my main questions are these:
Roughly how long would you expect each of the three named scenarios to take with 1000 point forces?
Is it possible to play these scenarios with 1000 point forces to anything approaching a satisfying game in 2 hours (including set up)?
My friend and I are now just worried that we’re going to pay to go along for the weekend and end up playing 6 unsatisfying, unfinished games that are all called to an end after a few turns of uneventful manouvering and some opening shots. The tickets go on sale Wednesday morning our time (about 48 hours) so any help/opinions ASAP would me much appreciated.
P.S. In case anyone was interested the forces were an Uruk Hai infantry-heavy Isengard force, a Moria goblin horde and 2 Rohan forces split roughly equally between infantry and cavalry.