The first game on our final day was yet another playtest, this time Chain Reaction 3.0 - Swordplay. On the whole have been pretty pleased with the reaction system based games from Two Hour Wargames for modern periods and even as far back as Black Powder Battles but less happy with the only medieval rules we tried (Montjoie). But having rather a lot of 28mm pointy stick figures I was keen to see whether Swordplay might be better.
The scenario involved some Crusaders out foraging encountering some, perhaps unsurprisingly, hostile locals when trying to take their supplies. I used my 28mm Gripping Beast figures along with my desert hamlet from the Colonial Steamboat Company.
The small force of Crusaders consisted of five mounted armoured knights (Rep 5) with shields and lance along with five unarmoured warriors (Rep 3) with spears and shields. The Saracens consisted of one armoured noble (Rep 5) with sword and shield, 10 unarmoured warriors (Rep 3) with spears and shields and 5 unarmoured archers (Rep 3). The relative sizes were based on the points system from the rules. I took command of the Crusaders and Lenin the Saracens.
With the classic Two Hour Wargames Rep based initiative system my knights activated on most turns but my foot troops were a little less enthusiastic. As the knights approached the village they triggers a crisis test for the Saracen archers who opened fire (There is no equivalent of the In Sight test from the more modern CR rule sets but rather one based on approaching within 12 inches). The arrows merely bounced off my knights' armour and their reaction was to charge!
Unfortunately for the knights, access to the village was limited on their size of approach and so only one could charge through the archway (ducking theatrically to avoid being swept from horseback!) but facing two spear armed Saracens. The charge ended up with one of the Saracens becoming intimately familiar with the knight's lance but the other managed to unhorse him. This started a lengthy fight in the archway with my knight besting the Saracen warriors but meeting his match with their Noble. Even with assistance from another knight the Crusaders just couldn't get the edge over the Saracen.
Meanwhile three of the other knights became bored watching the fight but not being able to join in and went in search of another way in. They found another archway and, having dismounted, advanced into the village. Spotting the remainder of the Saracen force defending the main village gate the Crusaders charged! Fortunately for the Saracens they reacted in time and most of them turned to face off the Crusader attack. Unfortunately the unarmoured Rep 3 warriors didn't do too well against the armoured Rep 5 knights even though outnumbering them and the fight was soon over.
Eventually the Saracen Noble, after putting up a spirited resistance even though outnumbered, was overcome. The Crusaders discovered the Saracen archers cowering in a nearby building and captured them.
We thought the rules worked pretty well and will be using them again. Although for le=arger games the combat mechanism would begin to slow matters down as it works on rolling groups of d6, looking for successes and then rerolling them until one side doesn't get any.
However, it was clear that the points system wasn't a good basis for trying to balance the game. The Crusader infantry didn't actually take part at all and the Rep 5 knights were a lot more capable and hardy than the Rep 3 Saracen warriors. So we'll need to give that some thought for next time.
The rules are available as a free download from the Two Hour Wargames website.