Friday, August 3, 2012

Once More Into the Breach: An Ars Victor Battle Report

"Over there, lads, are the Blues.  Now they may superficially look similar to us, but we all know deep in our hearts that they are vile scum not fit to breathe the same air as us Reds.  In fact, the only thing worse than a Blue, is a Blue that has married your sister!  Today, lads, its up to us to cleanse this planet of their filthy Blue ways.  For the Emperor!"

A ragged cheer arose from the ranks of the Red army, as their commanding officer deliveRed the inspiring speech.  Forces arrayed, the CO surveyed the enemy.


Red rolled with a good mix of cheap and expensive units.  He fielded one each of the three top-tier units: one Assault, one Brute, and one Field Gun.  He brought a couple of Light Infantry units, and made one of them his HQ.

In his vanguard (forces that start on the board): he started with a pair of Lancers -- a favorite vanguard unit due to its high speed and cheap cost.  He also placed a pair of Heavy Infantry units to provide some strong early-game firepower.

Blue brought a middle-heavy army.  He didn't field a single top-tier unit, but instead focused on bulking up with good quality troops.  His vanguard consisted of Lancers (surprise!) and a pair of Scavengers.  In his reserves, he had a pair of Heavy Infantry, and pair of Jump Infantry, and a Cavalry unit for his HQ.

They start pretty close on the Glory track -- Red's 60 points of units leaves him with 20 on the glory track.  Blue brought 49 points worth of units, which should have started him at 31 points.  Unfortunately, he forgot that they were playing the (standard) 80-point game, and counted his glory from 70 (used in earlier versions of the game).  So he started at 21, and didn't actually notice the ten-point deficit until he wrote this article.

Early Game



Red makes an initial grab for the center cap point with one of his Lancers, and Blue responds by pushing on Red's right flank.  On his second move, Red tries to push Blue back on the right, and fails spectacularly.  Some hot Lancer-on-Lancer action near the right cap results in minor casualties to both sides, but leaves Blue's lancer disengaged and within striking distance of several targets.  Blue takes advantage of that on his second turn, and plays a big card (7-Spades).  He uses some of those points to pull his Lancers over to Red's center, and move up next to the Heavy Infantry still sitting on its starting spot.

Blue Commander: This is one of the things Lancers are good at: getting across the board fast, and getting up in someone's grill.  That Heavy Infantry had a scary field of fire; by simply moving the Lancers next to them, I prevented them from using their ranged attack and forced my enemy to use them in a less advantageous attack.
The rest of the points go to an attack with Scavengers on Blue's right flank, knocking back the other Heavy and seizing the forest.  With Red's Heavy pinned, Blue's cavalry HQ then takes a stab at the Lancers on the center cap point in a glorious charge.  Both sides whiff their rolls.



Red uses his Brutes to dislodge the Scavengers that are sitting dangerously close to his back row -- and manages to roll two pushes, letting Blue gleefully move his unit back to the empty cap point.  Blue then plays another big card -- grabbing the left flank cap point and bringing on more Hearts and Diamonds to support the center.  Red spends his next move trying to get the Blue Lancer off his Heavies, and fails miserably: the Lancer's counter-attack roll pushes the HI to the back rank.


 Red-5 (I'm going in!)

Blue presses his Lancers up to pin the Heavy again, as well as Red's Light Infantry HQ.  He pushes up the rest of his black units, making a costly attack with his Scavengers that is rebuffed.

Blue Commander: I was agonizing this turn: I almost punched his HQ with my Lancers. I had a chance of wiping them out.  I just knew that if I drove them off, I'd have to choose between advancing into the vacated square -- which would leave my Lancers vulnerable to massive fire from the Heavies -- or staying put, which would have let the Lights take a shot at me.  With only two hits left, I was unlikely to survive.  I wanted that Lancer clogging up his center for as long as possible.

On Red's next turn, he pushes his Brutes up to clear Blue's Scavengers off the right cap point.  One solid roll later, and the Scavengers are paste.



Blue doesn't see a lot of productive moves with his black units, so he pushes on Red's left flank.  He moves his Scavengers up to threaten Red's HQ again, and brings his far-left Heavy Infantry up into a firing position.

Red decides that it's time to bring in the big boys, and uses Insertion to drop his Assault Infantry in between his HQ and the incoming Scavengers.

Blue Commander: Assaults are really scary.  Not just because they're difficult to kill and have  hideous attack dice: their Insertion ability lets them drop on to the battlefield wherever they are needed the most.  As long as my enemy has them in reserves, they're a constant threat anywhere on the battlefield.  Here, I was trying to force him to deploy them as a counter to a relatively weak threat.




With the arrival of the Assault Infantry, things heat up in the center.  Blue uses the lull in the action to push Red's Lancers off the center cap point, and uses his Jumps to make an ineffective stab at the Brutes on the right cap.

Red finally drives away the Scavengers and Lancers that have been preventing his advance.



Blue enjoys a brief advantage in glory, as he's bleeding Red three points a turn from holding the cap points.  Red closes that gap by wiping out the last stragglers in Blue's center Lancers.


Blue flings his Scavengers back in front of the Assault Infantry to pin them for one more turn.  He fires at the Assaults with one of his Heavy Infantry and moves the other up into a better firing position.


Red finally gets a shot on Blue's HQ with his Heavy Infantry, driving it off the center cap point.

End Game


Things are tense as both players are a scant few points away from winning: Blue has 5 glory left, while Red has 4.  With his Heavy Infantry now in the optimal firing position, Blue unloads on the Assault Infantry, driving them back.  He then moves his newly-unpinned Scavengers over to pin Blue's center Heavy Infantry.


Red delivers the killing blow on Blue's Scavengers, turning the tables on the Glory track.  Blue can see his doom in the rear-view mirror: with only two points left, all Red has to do is keep his Brutes on the right cap point for two more turns.


Blue is running out of gas on the left flank, and only has enough to unload on Red's Assault Infantry.  They take another point of damage and hold their ground.


Seeing that victory is near, Red plays it safe and pulls his Assault Infantry back so that it can't be killed.  Things are looking grim for Blue.  If nothing changes, he'll lose the game at the beginning of Red's next turn.


Blue pulls out a big black card in a last-ditch attempt to stave off disaster.  He leaps his Jump Infantry into the forest, where one of them pulls a Sonny Bono and takes a hit.  It attacks Red's wounded Lancer, does some damage, but gets driven back.  With his last command points, Blue charges his HQ right up the center and delivers the killing blow.

Red drops four Glory and loses.


  1. Nice batrep! lol @ pulls a Sonny Bono, definitely not too soon for that joke.

    It is difficult for me to tell what pieces are what side, based on these photos. Orientation is the only way to do it, but some more clear colors would make the photos more intuitive and meaningful. Might be cool to make the red/blue flags or tokens or banners more obvious.

  2. Re: colors. Yeah, that is one of the things we discovered with this first test print unit. The printer colors are *very* dark. We've lightened them up quite a bit, and accentuated the colors on the banners.

  3. Re: colours.
    I know that this is a case of "Red vs Blue", but immediate recognition of unit types can be important. I am looking for the rulebook so I can take part in the Strategicon events, but I am assuming that the symbols on the units correspond to the unti type. Perhaps if a coloured frame was used to designate what side the unit was on, you could use colour somewhere on the piece to designate the type of unit, or at least the relative classification (light, medium, heavy). Background shading (instead of base white) or something else would be nice. That way it is easy to grok at an instant the board state.

  4. Edited. May insert comment later.

  5. Hi Muertog! Welcome!

    Unit ownership is determined by the "banner" piece below the unit. It's hard to tell in the pieces used in that battlerep. It was our first unit off the printer -- we've changed it to be a lot more identifiable.

    Sorry the rules aren't up yet -- I've been neck-deep in writing the "Players Guild" web app. My goal is to have the rules posted by next weekend.

    If you sign up for our email list, you'll get the announcement when the print-and-play is ready. Hope to see you at Strategicon!

    Cheers, sd

  6. Blah. Apparently you cannot edit posts after they have been made.

    This is the reason I tend to read all the backlog of stuff before ever commenting (which means I rarely ever comment). However, this game looks interesting and I was excited to comment, so thus I "insert foot tab A into mouth slot B"/ I saw another set of pictures that showed how the pieces are actually in two parts in order to designate sides. Very nice. Wish it was clearer from the battlemat pictures. Still, would like some way of making sure the unit types are easily identifiable from a distance.

  7. Thats ok. If you hadn't posted, you wouldn't have added a spark of joy to the game designer's day. :)

    It *is* tough to tell units apart in the pictures at this scale. At 'head-level', its not nearly that tough. The unit illustrations have all been given different backgrounds, so at a distance they're easier to differentiate.