Saturday, April 2, 2016

Two Hour Wargames Swordplay 2015: A quick review and battle report

 Swordplay 2015 is a FREE set of introductory fantasy/ancient non-gunpowder era skirmish rules by Two Hour Wargames. If you've never heard of THW, I'd advise you to check out their website and get the scoop there as this is just my review and not an overview of all the rules. I will touch upon some, however, particularly my favorites.

 Swordplay is offered in both PDF format for free and printed version for $5 plus S&H. So you've got no reason not to pick them up and check them out! This is a complete gaming system, not just a teaser. There's also a set of gunpowder/modern/sci-fi rules (Chain Reaction 2015, see above link) as well that is worth checking out and guess what? It's also free in PDF form!

So if you're interested in learning more of how I feel about the game, please read on! (Battle report is after the review if you want to skip on down there.)

The Review: Ok, now on with the review! The thing that stood out the most for me was how clear the rules are. I've always had a hard time wrapping my mind around rule sets from the early days of my gaming with Magic the Gathering to now. Needless to say, I'm not the sharpest sword in the armory! That said, I was able to follow along easily and made good use of the Stop! boxes that will have you reviewing what you've learned and even throwing some figures on the battlefield and testing things out in a mock battle. Major props to Ed on that!

 There's a lot to learn, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't take long to get into the action solo, same-side, or head-to-head. The solo aspect is what drew me in to THW games, as it is for a lot of folks. The reaction system, the heart of the THW system, is key to its success and it works well. Some people might not like rolling a lot of dice (and you will be rolling a lot of dice!) but the more dice I'm rolling the better, I say!

 Inside you'll also find three different scenarios (explore, raid, and defend), a simple campaign system allowing your characters to advance/decrease in REP and even leave your party if they become higher REP than your star, and a roster of four sample armies. I thought I'd mention these as it punctuates the fact that this is actually a full game and not just some page or two of quick start rules.

This version of Swordplay (and Chain Reaction 2015) has made it even easier to get into the basics of the THW games with some key simplifications over the previous versions. Some that really stuck out were the changes to melee and ranged combat. Melee is a back and forth fight to the death with the losing side either dying, going out of the fight, or taking a -1 to rep and immediately fighting another round of combat. Ranged damage is now compared to the REP of the target and not the impact of the weapon.  Hunker down is gone too, which I wasn't too sad to see go!

 Other tweaks have been made as well making this a well-oiled machine, at least in my opinion. As usual, Swordplay is just begging to be tinkered with and home brewed. I'm already working on a city fight add-on to capture the feel of Mordheim and Frostgrave. I'd strongly advise you check Swordplay 2015 out! It's a free PDF download, so what have you got to lose?!

 Now  onto the adventure!

The Damsel in the hut

 In this encounter of Swordplay 2015, I decided to play a Raid mission. A local tribe of orcs had kidnapped a fair maiden from my kingdom and, of course, it was my job to get her back! You don't get fame, glory, and babes by sitting back letting your grunts do all the work, do you?

NOTE: I used a few modifications. I didn't use the rules for which way the model was facing nor did I use the recover wounded mechanics. I decided to use the skills Human and Orc from the 2 Hour Dungeon Crawl  rule book as well as used the encounter tables from 2HDC to generate what the PEF (possible enemy forces) were.

I grabbed my broadsword and shield then set off to recruit some grunts (the minor characters of my team). Here's how my team looked:

Sir Scott (Star) Rep 5/Human/AC 6/Sword and Shield
Breen Rep 3/Human/AC 2/Bow
Goose Rep 4/Human/AC 2/Bow
Drogan Rep 4/Human/AC 4/Two Hand Weapons

Next I randomly generated the battlefield as per the rules (except I ran out of trees by the end of it!) then rolled for the PEF locations...

And we're off!

"We got girl, you come fight!"

The first PEF resolved as nothing...

The second PEF, was definitely enemy activity, my next PEF roll would be 3D6!

And all three were non-passing dice!

So that leaves the buildings. All three swollen with orcs, just look at those PEF markers!! Has to be at least 50 orcs in there, right?!

Nope! Just an orc archer!!! The main force must have left this one guard as only one PEF turned up contact...Maybe this maiden wasn't so fair after all.

The orc wins the insight twice and lets fly an arrow right through Breen's head!

Shaken, and understandably so, Goose ducks back into the woods out of the danger zone after a failed Man Down test and changes his shorts. Some wing man!

Drogan and I charge into the battle. After blocking the orc's arrow with my shield, I launch into him like a panther....A panther in full plate mail with a sword, that is! After some back and forth and reducing the orc by 1 rep, I cleave him in two ending the encounter.
"We did it!...Well, too bad about Breen...Hey, maiden, do you know how to use a bow?" and so the grunt recruitment already starts.
 And so there you have it. At first I thought the game was going to be a breeze. Five PEFs resolving as nothing and then the final one resolving as one simple orc archer?! Then Breen took one in the face and things got interesting. Still, each PEF gives a good feeling of tension. Could it be an orc? Could it be five orcs? You just never know. In my previous encounter all four of the PEFs resolved as enemy troops. Each game really is different and I think that's what I really love about the THW line of games.

 Hope you enjoyed and hope you give Swordplay 2015 a shot!

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