Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Wickram: 1479 - an 'A Coat of Steel' game

Mark introduced me to a game with several unique features the other week, but notably the most exhaustive set of counters since 2nd edition 40k!

A Coat of Steel, from the Perfect Captain website not unreasonably calls itself a set unlike any other, certainly though it has some things in common with sets from people like Peter Pig, in that it contains an extensive prematch campaign game (meta game if you will).

Retinues are led by lords of varying competence and will. One of the most intriguing aspects of the rules being that they actually force you to pick your general tactics for the entire battle before it begins, by a system of stratagems which you must pick based on your commander. For a first game I think I blundered through this to fortunate effect. With practice one could plan the entire battle with care before sight of one's foe; the downside is you are committed to a plan to a greater degree than most systems thereafter. This feels very representative of the period, but will not appeal to the godlike gamer, used to doing more or less what he wants with his troops.

Once you pick your stratagems you get an associated selection of orders you can use each turn; move orders can carry on for several turns but other orders, shooting, charging to combat, feinting etc last only one turn. Run out of orders by being a fussy or careless commander and your troops will fall into disarray, and act slowly.

Shooting and combat are carried out by drawing special cards that indicate the effect on the target units morale and troop numbers. Additionally, in melee, you can select combat tactics which will prevail better against some enemy formations than others, these result in unpredictable but realistic combat.

In terms of our game, I selected stratagems more or less on the basis of what seemed best going to my most able commanders, I then applied them to an advance by my weaker left which I hoped Mark's forces would respond to. As I had a wider frontage than he, I aimed to turn his flanks, whilst my centre and right gave him trouble with flights of arrows.

This turned out generally to be very effective, and late in the game I was able to clinch victory by laying in two heavy assaults on his lines.

A good and stimulating game, but the sheer volume of counters can make it seem overwhelming; don't be phased though. These are as good a representation of the period as you are likely to find.

Elsewhere in the club that night, Ross was getting all scenic for a 40k game; one can only assume from the neat, believable order of the table that this must be a Tau empire planet.

Apparently his (Sisters of Battle playing) opponent hated it. The non-airdropped terrain left too many fire lanes...

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