After our recent game which went well, Rich wanted to get in another session to solidify the rules. Since we had played the Surprise Attack scenario from my site last time, I thought it would be good to stick with that one, but we mixed up the races – this time the Ferkin were defending, and Rich’s Dwarves attacking. This was good; I hadn’t tried out the variant with the Ferkin on the defense.
Rich went for a full-on attempt to kick the defenders out off of board 1. This is a tough proposition, since it involves taking two cities with impressive natural defenses, but it does maximize the Dwarves’ initial firepower advantage. Rich’s Dwarves made an early play on Langara, a city surrounded by woods and rivers and a tough nut to crack. He had some bad luck, and was bloodily repulsed. Langara then became the Dwarves’ Stalingrad, as several attacks were beaten back and the losses there were really the decisive turn.
The Dwarves’ big weakness is a lack of decent general-use 1-level spells. They have Destruction, the Castle-destroyer, which is very nasty – but useless if your opponent doesn’t have a castle. Avalanche is worthless outside the mountains, and Stone Bridge is a fairly marginal movement-enhancer. Normally it’s not a huge deal, but I had bought a Demon, and this is an extremely tough Chaos creature that was made even more murderous because Rich lacked any kind of directed-damage tools to take care of it. As a consequence, the Demon was able to rip through Rich’s good units with his “Soul Sucker” ability. I think the Demon is probably slightly undercosted. With his extremely potent spell, maybe he should be a 6 or 7 cost instead of 5. On the other hand, with direct damage not being that hard to come by generally through Wizard spells or chaos creatures, a case can be made that almost nothing is worth more than 6 (the Dragon, for example, is very hard to justify at 8 points even given his monster stats and very powerful spell, because he’s so vulnerable to even the weakest directed-damage spells).
As I’ve said recently, as I’ve been playing Wizard Kings more and more recently, and my fondness for the game has been only increasing – and I liked it quite a lot to begin with! I really think this might be almost a perfect wargame – short, with lots of tough, meaningful decisions throughout, with great and interesting variety, but generally well-balanced. It’s already at position 3 on my “best of Columbia” list, but that might not be high enough. Certainly a great wargame for eurogamers. A year or two ago I had decided that what the game really needed was 12 good 2-player scenarios generic enough to swap in most of the different armies. I now have one, this Surprise Attack scenario which I have become quite fond of and have played in many variations, and which has been a lot more successful than my other scenarios. Now I just need 11 more.