|The battle begins|
Straight away, we hit what is surely a common problem around the world. The two armies lined up, and it seemed that the elves had come expecting a nice little tea party and a chat about the good old days, while the beasts were intent on cramming in as many participants as possible and causing serious carnage. No points values means some kind of contract between players, but even between us old time friends I think somebody got a little carried away. I cannot imagine how this would work in a shop, I bet the poor guys behind the tills have had a few stressful days of late.
|The thin white line|
Having read the rules a couple of times I was fairly confident that the game would swing along at a good pace. There's a few grey areas that can be easily overcome with a common sense approach, but I failed to appreciate how much all the special rules would have an impact. While the basic game rules are easy, we spent a lot of time rifling through our printouts to check what special rules each unit had, three or four each on average. To be fair, a lot of these were similar, and after a few games we would probably have these mostly memorised. Like many a simple ruleset, these special rules are where the flavour of the army shines through.
At first, the game settled into a fairly familiar pattern. The elves held back and shot as much as they could. The archers took advantage of their special rule and loosed a storm of arrows (double attacks for one turn only), and combined with shots from the bolt thrower and reavers they brought down most of the advancing minotaurs. The reavers had a nice rule that allowed them to shoot, then move away, in classic fast cavalry fashion. They also had a basic two shots each, which increases to three per model if they stay more than three inches from the enemy. So they turned out to be a very potent force and kept the right flank under control for the whole game.
|The thicker, beefier brown line|
Combat tended to be extremely brutal. Casualties mount up very quickly, then the crap shoot that is the batteshock test invariably adds a few more. My units of 15 spears melted away in one single combat, the beastly blocks had far greater staying power. There was no need to outflank or manoeuvre for position as there is no real advantage to orchestrating combined charges. Units fight in alternating player turn, so it can be easy for a unit that has been charged to strike first and remove the charging bonus of the enemy.
|A fine spectacle, but how does the game play?|
To end on a positive note, it was good to see the elves on the tabletop after all these years - I will certainly not be burning them! We will be returning to these two foes in future games, the first of which we will fight using an even simpler set of rules - Lion Rampant. Our initial task is to thrash out army lists for the elves and beasts. We will probably also try out some of the other rulesets on offer, perhaps Saga, Hail Caesar or Kings of War. The struggles of the Elves of Ulthuan will continue.....