The 5 Year Retrospective on the Blood in the Badlands: A Vignette Series

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Re: The 5 Year Retrospective on the Blood in the Badlands: A Vignette Series

Postby ArcticFox » Mon Dec 18, 2017 6:48 pm

Story VI: When Winning Just Isn't Enough

This tale is the story of a battle between myself and another player, Don.

Don was a Dark Elves player, which meant he'd joined the alliance opposing the one I was in. We had a fairly straightforward battle, with the Knights of Bretonnia attacking the Dark Elves in their territory.

The battle did not go well for Bretonnia that day. I made a few mistakes and Don, being a competent player, was able to capitalize on them. I could see by the end of the fourth round that I wasn't going to be able to pull a victory on this one, so I decided to concede the game.

Instead of a victory smile, Don instead looked dismayed. I asked him what was wrong.

"Well, If you concede now, I won't be able to kill your general."

You see, in this campaign, there was a narrative continuity between games, such that characters were sometimes able to carry over items and injuries from one battle to the next. In some cases they could even be captured or killed. Up to that point in the campaign, here had never been a problem if one side or the other conceded.

Don's problem here was that by conceding the game, I was essentially ending the battle at that point, and Don wanted he chance to go after my characters. While I admit that there's a certain strategic benefit to making sure to injure your opponent's characters, nobody had made an issue of it before. This struck me as poor sportsmanship, since he'd already won the battle.

Additionally, the problem here was that it created a conflict of interest. I was the GM, and also directly involved in the problem. If I ruled that a player could concede the game without losing characters (as we'd already been doing) then it would appear self serving, since it was my characters at stake. On the other hand, I didn't want to just arbitrarily rule against that since it struck me as bad sportsmanship to compel a losing player to play it out just so that the victorious opponent could maximize the total damage.

Admittedly, it also went with the character of the Dark Elves.

So I took a compromise route. I ruled that if a player conceded a game, a die roll for each character that was still on the table would determine whether they escaped or whether they suffered an injury as if they'd been removed as a casualty during the game. Don didn't really like that, since I think he was very confident that he could have run down all my characters, but with Bretonnian horses being pretty fast for having barding, I think he was a bit overconfident on that.

The thing is, When you're playing a game like this and you know you've lost, it really sucks to feel compelled to play it out. That isn't fun at all and I wanted to find a solution that wouldn't make people feel compelled when the desire to play was gone.

The moral of the story: In a campaign like this, where the GM is also a player, it's always a good idea to have a co-GM who can step in and make a call when there's a conflict of interest.
"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
—Brigham Young

"Don't take refuge in the false security of consensus."
—Christopher Hitchens

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Re: The 5 Year Retrospective on the Blood in the Badlands: A Vignette Series

Postby ccgr » Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:06 am

Good lesson, noted!

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Re: The 5 Year Retrospective on the Blood in the Badlands: A Vignette Series

Postby ArcticFox » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:53 am

Story VII: Why We Read

In the early stages of the campaign one player, Jeff, was playing a Wood Elf army. It's unclear why he would choose that particular faction since it definitely does not reflect his usual play style, but I guess he thought he could work it in.

I initially wrote a rant about this game right after it happened here.

His name is Jeff (again, not using real names in this.) His army was assaulting one of my fortresses and the Army of Bretonnia was arrayed to defend.

I'd lent him the campaign rulebook so he could brush up on the castle assault rules in order to come to the table prepared. I also kept the book out and available for reference during the game. To win, he had to capture 3 out of the 3 objective markers which represented sections of the fortress. If he only captured 2, then the winner would be determined by who destroyed the most enemy units. If he captured one or zero, then I win.

So he deployed his army outside of my walls in a very effective formation, and I completely botched my own deployment. My best units were my knights who, being mounted on horseback, had to remain in the courtyard where they couldn't defend the walls or towers. Care to guess where all of the objective markers were? In the wonky rules, they could attack the walls or towers, but couldn't hold them.

So basically I settled in and prepared to hand over my fortress.

But then something weird happened. Jeff, who had been dominating the game for the first 3 rounds, suddenly began making stupid mistakes. At one point he even took a unit of heavy infantry, that had captured a tower, and had them exit the tower.

...in the courtyard...
...in front of my best unit of fresh, uninjured knights.

Hilarity ensued.

So by the end of the game Jeff had only been able to capture and hold 1 objective marker, and so I won.

This is when I started to hear about how I had not made the victory objectives clear enough (did they seem complex to you?). Apparently I hadn't made the siege rules clear. Apparently I hadn't made the defense rules clear. Apparently I was just a big ol' meanie who took advantage of his lack of understanding of the castle assault rules to win the game.

I was... annoyed... by this. (If you read the rant I linked to above, you have a pretty good idea of just how annoyed I was.)

Fortunately, we talked it out later and he continues to be one of my best friends to this day. He really is one of the best people I know and even though he isn't a man of religion, he acts more like a Christian than most of the Christians I know. I think maybe he has a hard time with losing and needs something to point to that will allow him to save face. It isn't that he really thought I had treated him dishonorably, it's just that he has a very tough time just acknowledging his own shortcomings when it's a contest.

The moral of the story: Read the rules and know what you're doing. If you don't, then you have nobody but yourself to blame.
"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
—Brigham Young

"Don't take refuge in the false security of consensus."
—Christopher Hitchens

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Re: The 5 Year Retrospective on the Blood in the Badlands: A Vignette Series

Postby Chozon1 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:44 am

That right there, is a brain fart. Happens to the best of us, I'm afraid. I come up with so many infallible plans that ignore the horrifying defeat right in front of it, that it isn't even funny. XD
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Re: The 5 Year Retrospective on the Blood in the Badlands: A Vignette Series

Postby ccgr » Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:33 pm

Good story as always ;)

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Re: The 5 Year Retrospective on the Blood in the Badlands: A Vignette Series

Postby ArcticFox » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:34 am

Story VIII: The Wall Before the Wall

So at one point in the campaign, Tony had decided to assault one of my cities. The unusual feature of this battle was that it took place on a special location on the map that added extra elements to the battle, like legendary magical items and monsters.

The problem was that the basic siege rules didn't really have room for these extra elements, which caused things to become massively overcomplex with rules contradicting each other and all sorts of unexpected side effects of combining these separate rule sets. So what I did was to choose a scenario from one of the supplemental books which was meant to resolve battles in this kind of case.

Basically, one table edge represented the city wall. Then, the attacker would deploy their force on the table across the middle. The game would then begin. The attacker would have to do enough damage to the "walls" to cause a breach, which would mean the city fell. On the first turn of the battle, the defender would be able to deploy their army onto the table on the table edge opposite the wall. The result would be that the attacker would be between the wall and the defender's army.

To win, the attackers had to inflict a certain amount of damage to the wall. To win, the defender had to prevent this from happening within 6 game turns.

So Tony agreed to this scenario and off we went to play our game.

Remember a few stories ago when I said Tony sometimes has a hard time knowing when he's cheesing the rules and when he's just playing the game well? Well...

So we got to the venue and the place was PACKED. There were no free tables and we were unable to play our game. We were out of time for the campaign game turn so there was no way we could just play another time. So, we decided to just hang out there a while and agreed to just call off the battle for the turn entirely.

That's when Tony told me what he was planning to do.

In Warhammer, if at any time your army has no models on the table, you automatically lose.
In Warhammer, you cannot deploy units onto the table within a certain distance of an enemy unit.

Since this scenario calls for the attacking player to deploy his army first, and then have the defender move his army onto the table during the first turn, Tony's plan was to deploy his entire army around the perimeter of the gaming table (excluding the side with the city wall) and make it impossible for me to move my force onto the table in the first turn. In so doing, he would force an automatic win. So there would have been no game, no dice rolled, no fun. Just an auto win. His plan was to then challenge me to a friendly non-campaign game after having secured himself the campaign game win, and taking my city.

This really irritated me, because essentially it goes completely against the entire point of the campaign, which is to get people together to play games. His exploit of the rules was not only against the spirit of the game, it also went against the point of the campaign. Not to mention the time wasted that I spent building my army, driving us to the gaming venue and working out the scenario.

He did sheepishly agree that he could see that was a cheese thing to do, but since the rules allowed it... He was going to do it for the official campaign game, but then play a non-cheese game with me just for fun. This was not much of a consolation, since if we'd been able to get a table and he'd actually done that, I would NOT have been in any mood for a game.

The moral of the story: If you're not sure whether an action is cheesy in a game, ask yourself whether the result is consistent with the point of the game. If it's not... Don't do it.
"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
—Brigham Young

"Don't take refuge in the false security of consensus."
—Christopher Hitchens

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Re: The 5 Year Retrospective on the Blood in the Badlands: A Vignette Series

Postby Sstavix » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:09 am

The only problem I see with Tony's plan was in this line....
Then, the attacker would deploy their force on the table across the middle.
This almost seems to me that the defender can deploy their army wherever they want, but has to be within a certain distance of the wall. So I don't think Tony would have been allowed to deploy his army along the opposite edge, unless the table was too small in the first place. Does that make sense?

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Re: The 5 Year Retrospective on the Blood in the Badlands: A Vignette Series

Postby ArcticFox » Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:09 pm

The only problem I see with Tony's plan was in this line....
Then, the attacker would deploy their force on the table across the middle.
This almost seems to me that the defender can deploy their army wherever they want, but has to be within a certain distance of the wall. So I don't think Tony would have been allowed to deploy his army along the opposite edge, unless the table was too small in the first place. Does that make sense?
The problem with the criss-crossing rules was that the width of that band across the middle meant he could still deploy troops close enough to the opposite edge to deny that space for deployment.
"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
—Brigham Young

"Don't take refuge in the false security of consensus."
—Christopher Hitchens

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Re: The 5 Year Retrospective on the Blood in the Badlands: A Vignette Series

Postby ArcticFox » Sat Mar 17, 2018 2:20 pm

Story IX: The Vanishing Tower

So near the end of the campaign there was a massive magical structure that was being fought over in one of the built-in campaign scenarios. It would be a 4-way game and each of us were trying to capture the massive tower at the center of the table. Whoever did so would gain significant bonuses in the campaign and have an advantageous starting position in the final game.

It was Sam, Dave Jeff and me and the battle was joined.

Capturing the Wizards' Tower at the center of the table was key to the game, and whoever controlled it at the end of the game would win. The only way to control it was to have one of your wizards physically enter the tower.

Mine was the only wizard on a mount. (I was playing Bretonnia, after all.)

So in the first turn I was able to send my wizard galloping toward the tower on her ridiculously fast unicorn. She made it into the tower in turn 2 and when my magic phase began, her spells were massively supercharged because she was casting from inside this awesome wizards' tower.

Too bad on one of my spellcasting rolls I rolled double 6s.

In Warhammer, rolling double 6s when casting a spell meant that things had gone out of control and the magical energies were ripped from the spellcaster's grasp. The end result could be terrifying or awesome, depending on the result of an additional die roll. So I rolled again.

What happened next can only be described as the worst possible outcome for a game of this type.

In game terms, what happened was that I rolled boxcars (two 6s) again. In narrative terms, the result was that the magical energies unleashed by my wizard caused a magical vortex to appear and ripped the tower out of the game universe and be annihilated. Of course, my poor wizard and her unicorn went with it.

Remember, capturing that tower was the game's victory objective. Essentially what I had done was to destroy the whole narrative point of this game, and so it was now impossible for any of the players to win.

So... we just kinda packed up our armies and left.

Nobody was mad at me since it was just the luck of a random die roll, but I still felt bad. It's hard to gather 4 players at once for a game and it felt like I'd wasted everybody's time. They ragged on me in a friendly way, of course, and I know they didn't blame me, but still.

Not much of a moral to this story. sometimes, the dice just screw you over. (This, by the way, is one of the criticisms I've had about Warhammer and Warhammer 40k... too much randomness.)
"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
—Brigham Young

"Don't take refuge in the false security of consensus."
—Christopher Hitchens

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Re: The 5 Year Retrospective on the Blood in the Badlands: A Vignette Series

Postby ccgr » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:40 pm

Funny story, thanks again for sharing

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Re: The 5 Year Retrospective on the Blood in the Badlands: A Vignette Series

Postby ArcticFox » Thu Apr 26, 2018 1:10 am

The Final Chapter

So here we have come to the end of the series. I waited so long to add this story because I wanted to give myself a chance to remember other incidents that might make for an amusing tale before finishing off the series with this.

This story has sort of been told here before, from the in-game perspective. Now, you can get the out of game perspective.

The table was set up as part of our gaming club's annual New Year's party which we usually held in a building run by the LDS Church on the nearby university campus. The center of the table was a castle which my army occupied. Then there were four other players who showed up with their armies to take it from me. They were: Sam and his Empire army, Dave and his Warriors of Chaos army, Tony and his Wood Elves and Don with his Dark Elves. The object of the game: Be the player who controlled the castle at the end of the game (which lasted 5 turns).

One thing I specified at the beginning of the game was that because time was somewhat limited and because there were 5 players, in order to keep things moving we were going to have to stay focused, and if some kind of rules error happened along the way, we weren't going to go back and re-do it unless it happened in the same turn it was noticed. What I was afraid of was that somebody would remember something that should have happened a couple of turns before, and then we'd have to go back, do it over, then play through turns we already had. Doing that was bad enough in a one on one game, *no way* were we going to be able to do that in a five man game and possibly finish in a reasonable amount of time. I made sure to put that out there upfront so that there wouldn't be any drama if it came up later. (Today's Word of the Day: Foreshadowing)

Well, everybody was deployed and coming at the fortress. Fortunately they were also beating on each other so I wasn't having to defend against a massive force by myself. It also helped that Sam was an ally of mine and was actually attacking Dave in order to help me. Dave reached the tower first and was using Archaeon as his General.

In Warhammer, Archaeon is regarded as one of the most broken, overpowered, unkillable characters. In fact, it was Archaeon that was at the center of the narrative story that Games Workshop used when they decided to stop supportring Warhammer Fantasy and (literally) destroy the Warhammer world. (To my disgust, Archaeon is back again in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. Let that be yet another reason I won't play that game.) So Archaeon leads a large unit of Dave's best troops up the walls and into one of my towers, to be met by my Bretonnian General. (A generic Lord character, not an OP named one.) Needless to say, Archaeon defeated my General in single combat and it looked for all the world like the Chaos Warriors would gain the tower and rule the day...

But there was trouble brewing on the Chaos Warriors' right flank. You see, a couple of turns previous, one of Dave's monsters had started battling one of Sam's units. This monster had a special rule called "Causes Terror," which meant that units fighting it had to take a Leadership test on two dice or flee from it. At some point, Sam and Dave had forgotten to roll this test. Now, suddenly, Dave remembered.

This was a minor problem in a minor part of the battlefield. It would have no effect whatsoever on what was happening in the fortress or with anybody else, and it certainly wasn't game changing. If they'd remembered, Sam could very well have passed the Leadership test and nothing would have been any different. Now, maybe Dave had other plans for that monster, such as bringing it into the fight for the castle. I don't know. What I do know is that Dave was suddenly expressing outrage over the forgotten Leadership test.

I reminded him that, according to the statement I'd made, which all agreed to, that was a rules mistake that was a couple turns old now, and we were just going to have to let it go. He didn't like that very much, and argued that Sam should have had to make the Leadership test for that unit. Well, yes, he should have... but both players had forgotten about it and it was two turns (which was a couple of hours) ago.

This was the point at which things got UGLY.

Dave stood up, shouting and cussing about how unfair that was and how that was complete b.s. Oddly, his rage seemed directed at Sam, not me, even though I was the one who refused to allow the takeback, and it's not like he himself wasn't equally to blame for the forgotten die roll. He grabbed his army and started packing it up while the rest of us, as well as the other party guests, sat in stunned silence. Dave finished packing, got his coat on, and headed for the door, his fiancée pushing him out to keep him from going on further with his angry tirade, he cussing all the way. (This is in a church building, mind you.)

Now, let me pause here. I'm making Dave out to seem like some kind of volatile monster. He isn't. Well, he's kinda volatile, but not a monster. I'm aware that he was tired and not feeling well, and a combination of those and other factors caused the blowout. He's still one of my closest friends and I love the guy like a brother, but I can tell you that nobody was sad to see him leave the party that day. He apologized to me a day or two later.

Well, with the Chaos Warriors off the table, my job of defending the castle became a lot easier. A couple of turns later I was victorious by a thread, but the victory felt a little hollow. I feel like Dave would have won that game had he stayed, and so I don't really feel like I fully earned that victory. I also think that the other players silently felt cheated, because there was little chance of one of them winning the castle now that Dave wasn't there whittling down my forces anymore. Since Sam wasn't coming at me, my entire left flank was safe and I could shift my defenders over to stop the elves.

So in a sense, it was a glorious Bretonnian victory, but in another sense it was a very anticlimactic end to the 2 year campaign.
"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
—Brigham Young

"Don't take refuge in the false security of consensus."
—Christopher Hitchens

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Re: The 5 Year Retrospective on the Blood in the Badlands: A Vignette Series

Postby ccgr » Fri Apr 27, 2018 1:17 am

Interesting story, thanks as always, for sharing it


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