The Battle of Whooton Pass

This is the first battle of the Skull Cleaver campaign ‘The Empire – Campaign for the South’ and as such is more software review than battle report, well here goes.

The Battle:-

Having extracted the army files from the campaign system I then loaded them into the ‘Battle Module’ and set up the non-computer army (empire), oce that was done I set up the Ratmen army as per computer instructions:-

Solo Setup

SOLO ARMY DISPOSITIONS:-

Deploy The Elite Troops in the Reserve. Centre covered by skirmishers.

 20 % Troops on Left Flank. 30 % Troops in the Centre. 30 % Troops on Right Flank. 20 % Troops in Reserve – Centre Rear.

 OBJECTIVE:- The Defender must Hold the hill pass and keep the Attacker at Bay

              So the Attacker cannot move troops along the road through the pass without coming under fire.

 CONSTRAINTS:- The Defender must achieve this with no more than 40 % losses, by the end of 2 hours of Battlefield time.

Quite clear, the OB for the Armies  is a little different from FB/WM/40k as each unit has a given qty of men/horses/guns etc. an are rated for not only arms and armour but morale, training and fatigue with each stand of infantry containing between 400 and 600 troops and each stand of cavalry 600 and each artillery stand about 4 guns.

So the points value for each army going into the battle were as follows:-

Empire 15607, Ratmen 20308 and the ratmen reserve 4679 (no actual part in the battle)

the Battlefield was laid out according to instructions thus:-

The human player goes first, hey I’d set up in what I considered a strong defensive position, Im not moving, bring it on.

Now at this point I should explain exactly why I set up BEHIND the hills on the flat, well Eric the Chain, in his haste to fight the Ratmen forgot to order the crossbow regements to march out with his army, so the only ranged weaponry I had were the cannon that I set up on a hill with a clear line of site through the pass.

The Ratmen received the following orders from the computer:-

Solo 1

General – The Commander leads his forces forward impetuously!

Mounted advance and initiate charges.

The Close Combat Infantry advance and charge where possible.

All Skirmishers deploy equally across the front.

Magicians to bombard visible enemy troops on the Ridge Line.

Basically – CHARGE!

I’ll not do a blow by blow, the Empire right and center  eventually collapsed through exhaustion, the right fought on till the bitter end, the artillery ‘grand battery’ on the hill was in its turn bombarded by a Rat sorcerer and eventually out-flanked and overrun.

The result:-

The Rats acheived their objective with 10mins of game time to spare (3hrs real time) things might have been a lot different if the crossbows were present, but then again I chose not to deploy the Rat artillery (being fair and balanced).

The Battle Module gives you the option of running an ‘after battle’ process that ‘fixes’ the final casualties, as most units during the battle just ‘disintegrate’, a portion of these troops can be recovered based on a number of factors, winning, in hostile territory and being persued are just some ( I beleive that this process used to be part of the campaign game- because thats what the V5 manual says). Running this process and saving the output army file over the Campaign army file will leave you with a ‘realistic’ list to use in the campaign.

The army points after the process were as follows:-

Empire 11318 (down from 15607)

Rats 16097 (down from 20308)

Most units survived the battle but with fewer men and adjusted moral and experience.

Comment on the game:-

It is so good not having all those dice on the table! Not having to lookup rules (a lot), not having to confir with charts and tables (a lot) and no army books. Having the detailed layer of moral and exhaustion etc. changes the way the armies play on the table – I liked it!

The Software

Skull Cleaver:-

I have version 5 with the version 6 upgrade now, at first the software seems a bit ‘cranky’ but it does basically what it sets out to do. I did have a lot of frustrations in setting up the campaign mainly due to the fact that the version 6 upgrade doesn’t include a version 6 manual! and a lot of my problems were due to trying to do things that no longer worked that way – I do have a copy of Macedon & Rome v6 and that manual was very useful.

Most annoying about the software – there is no ‘back or cancel’ button at critical points and the display can be confusing at times ie some messages seem to have a time-lag that causes them to be displayed after the ‘next message’.

Printing can be a problem – if you forget to connect the printer and just cancel the dialog – the program crashes but stays resident in memory (bit of task management required to get rid of it) and possibly corrupts the army database (!)

I’ve had two db that wouldn’t print or list to the screen but otherwise seemed fine – had to re-create them in the end, both were being edited during a crash – I now have a backup script.

The conclusion:-

Yeah the program is ‘cranky’ and has a few short commings, yeah it looks and feels ‘dated’ (compared to this years latest RTS games),  but the core of the system, the Battle Module worked well once I got used to the fact that each ‘bound’ was simultaneous and then the computer gives you the results, well, you have to run a report to get all the results.

What I’m saying is that once you get used to it all it is quite usable and quick, running the above battle in Warmaster would have taken twice as long and not given nearly as much ‘feel’ as SC.

What did I learn from the battle?

That the composition of the Rat army outclasses the Empire at the moment, I beleive that’s because the Empire list is a Warmaster list and things like Heavy Cavalry in WM are pretty good – have them wizzing all over the place charging anyone in sight. In SC they are pretty good as well for about 2 charges after that they are just as likly to disintegrate through exhaustion. So need to bring more infantry in.

Will I continue to use SC?

Yes, I hope that most of my problems are V6 with V5 manual and ‘hitting return too often’ – It is SO easy to completely miss the firing phase, and NO going back.

I’ll keep running the campaign module and keep you updated on the Rat invasion, currently the main rat army and their re-inforcement column have moved back to Wooton Mhey to regroup while Eric the Chain and the Empire army are making for Crossing and the hope of re-inforecments.

A.

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