Battle of Zidium

So, in an attempt to fully learn the Domains at War battles rules, me and Sarusama attempted the Battle of Zidium, with me controlling the Auran Empire and Saru taking the role of Baal.

After a long, long period of cross-referencing Mennic’s spell list with the heroic spell list to determine which spells had any effect in D@W, and then further cross-referencing to determine which ones had an impact in brigade scale, we finally set up the game.

We used roll20, which worked astonishingly well once we got the hang of it. The trick was to make all the units rectangular so that facing could easily be determined. I think next time I’ll have players add a little arrow to the unit avatars so that facing is even easier to follow.

I chose to set up Danir and Tarkaun on the left side of the map, planning to have Tarkaun zip up along the extreme left wing and flank the enemy, soaking up shots with withdrawable light cavalry (both with lieutenants) and then crushing the enemy with devastating charges from his medium and veteran heavies while Danir slowly plodded forward with his heavy infantry.

I also threw Mennic and Valana to the far righthand side, planning to have them hug the mountain and keep it between them and Jagtai (we didn’t know volley overhead existed. I was hoping to achieve a sort of pincer movement.

My opponent put Baal and Peyman roughly in the center, and Jagtai and Haakon to the right, so it quickly became apparent that this battle was going to be two smaller battles occurring side by side- Jagtai&Haakon vs Mennic&Valanna and Tarkaun&Danir vs Baal&Peyman.

Tarkaun was extremely successful in flanking Peyman’s units, ripping apart his light infantry and slingers with well-placed charges and largely avoiding retribution. Baal’s heavy infantry were all deployed as phalanxes, rendering them unable to charge, so they were forced to inch forward one or two hexes at a time.

Meanwhile, Jagtai and his elephants rushed Mennic’s forces. The elephants actually managed to only hit twice after rolling very poorly. Because we didn’t know about volleying overhead for heroes, he wasn’t able to shoot Mennic initially, and then just before he managed to finally get line of sight, Mennic cast Control Weather to create High Winds and make missile fire impossible, shutting Jagtai down hard. Then one of Mennic’s infantry charged the elephant’s flank, dealing 3 hits and forcing them to recoil. This proved tragic the next turn- because the spearmen had attacked along the flank, and recoil moves them directly away without changing facing, the elephants slide sideways to be directly in front of Valanna. Jagtai won init next round and the elephants charged, scoring enough hits to annihilate them. Because we didn’t know about heroes being able to survive unit routs, Valanna was annihilated too, leaving Mennic to control one unwieldy mega-division (I also wasn’t sure I could promote a lieutenant.)

As Peyman’s division were whittled down, Baal got closer and closer. I chose to have Danir’s heavy infantry intercept him, and then spend every turn Defending, so that Baal’s veteran phalanxes would have to roll 18s to hit, thus allowing Danny to buy time for Tarkaun to kill Peyman, and then bring the full force of two divisions down on Baal.

It was right around here that we stopped for the night, having invested roughly four or five hours into the battle, not including setup time. When we resumed, it was informed by Alex’s posts, and also we remembered lieutenants were heroes and could attack.

Unfortunately for my buying-time plan, Peyman’s heavy phalanx proved incredibly resilient, shrugging off round after round of attacks, and passing a half-dozen shock rolls at least. He even went toe to toe with Tarkaun for a bit, with the autarch narrowly avoiding a hit from the staff of withering before Peyman’s unit was finally crushed and he was eliminated.

On the far side of the map, I promoted a Palatine to commander status, named him Lethbridge Stewart, and gave him Valanna’s units. He and another Palatine dueled Jagtai and did surprisingly well, with two heroes proving significantly deadlier than one. Unfortunately, their units did not fare as well, and Haakon’s mass poured over the already weakened Mennic/Stewart line, driving them back and inflicting heavy losses. Mennic constantly failed shock rolls, recoiling and fleeing but never routing.

Meanwhile, Baal and Danir dueled while Baal’s men threw themselves repeatedly against the shield wall. Danir and his lieutenants scored a few hits against Baal, but Danir was down to 19 HP and had already drank his potion when Peyman finally died and Tarkaun was able to rush in. Tarkaun and Danir and two lieutenants were able to win the 4v1 fight against Baal, slaying him and provoking morale rolls. Tarkaun did lose a level to the lifedrinker sword though. (Note: Sword did not list a number of charges, so Saru only used it once. In fairness, I think he only hit once)

Since their general died the same round as my 8th unit, we both made morale rolls, both at a +2! (He got +2 for having slain more units. I got a -2 from having slain fewer, but a +4 from Tarkaun’s charisma, for a net +2) All of Baal’s veterans rolled Flee, and since they were surrounded by Tarkaun’s cavalry, were unable to flee and were routed; the veteran phalanx Baal wasn’t in actually routed from full health!

Jagtai and Haakon’s men did not rout, and one even rallied.

Many of my men rallied, including Lethbridge, who I was increasingly pleased by; first he goes toe to toe with Jagtai, then he maintains the composure of his unit. A credit to his name indeed. Mennic retreated to exactly the edge of the map, but did not cross.

So, in the wake of Baal’s death, it seemed that each of us had won a great victory- Jagtai and Haakon had achieved near-total victory over Mennic, and Tarkaun had claimed the heads of Peyman and Baal. We briefly considered having each side’s remaining divisions lumber over to challenge the survivors, but since Danir and Tarkaun’s divisions were the largest and most powerful to begin with, and took few losses, it would be no real challenge for them to roll over Jagtai and Hakon.

Thus, victory for the Auran Empire, as the enemy surrenders!

Interesting notes: Jagtai never used his poison or his +2 arrows, since he never got close to Mennic, his intended target. Also, we realized very early on that it would’ve made far, far more sense for Jagtai to have rushed left and assassinated Tarkaun than to get bogged down in a windstorm.

I also got screwed with my light infantry, because I didn’t realize how fragile they were; I overlooked the rule that you need to be faster than an enemy to withdraw from melee, meaning that I was set up to receive Jagtai’s charge and then bounce, but was forced to soak the damage. Whoops. Poor Valana never got to stab anyone with her flame swords.

All in all, an excellent experience! I look forward to the rematch with reversed sides. We definitely achieved our goal of solidifying our understanding of the rules.

One other thing I’d point out is I didn’t know phlanax couldn’t charge when I deployed or i would’ve split the heavys more for more diversity of unit options.

Phalanaxes are terrifyingly tough, though.

I think you made a big mistake by engaging Danir with Baal. I would’ve had Peyman Defend, let Tarkaun’s cavalry try to roll 18s against him while Baal murders them from the blank.

I like how D@W makes it clear that there’s a very loose sort of paper-scissors-rock: Used properly, Loose Foot and Loose Mounted can run circles around Formed Foot while completely ignoring their attempts to deal damage. Formed Mounted units, however, can charge Loose Foot and annihilate them without giving them the chance to withdraw. But Formed Mounted units are expensive; for the same price you could get two Formed Foot units with the same combat stats and lower movement; more than enough men to soak the cavalry charge and then cut them apart in a spearmint-flavored tarpit.

Also, the adventures of Lethbridge make me want to play a pure Domains at War campaign; all armies, all the time, in the style of Erfworld.

In the vein of ACKS progression, I’ve wanted to run a Corporal, Captain, General campaign since reading D@W.

The PCs would start out as a squad in a mercenary unit and do what they’re told. Being a squad of relative veterans with unique skills, they’d mostly be assigned tasks that are more than just ‘go join up with the army and hold this line’. This phase would look a lot like normal play except with the backdrop that you’re helping out your mercenary friends.

As play progresses they get promoted through the ranks until one of the PCs is the captain of the mercenary company and is in overall command, picking jobs and either fighting small combats or on the same field as other forces in a more major conflict. This phase would be almost pure D@W, in platoon scale mostly.

And then after becoming rich and well-known as a mercenary company, they expand, and either own land and a domain of their own or get their hands on a large army some other way. The idea for the difference between General and Captain is that in Captain phase, they’d still be selecting from employers and working for them, while in General phase they’re the one in overall command selecting things to do. (Although it might still be possible to hire them a la the Tedrel companies.)

Also, I just made myself want to go dig into the math and figure out what the profit margin for mercenaries is. I’m wondering how you could determine the whole result if you wanted to run, basically, a mercenaries’ guild and hire them out for profit at the domain level. (This actually sounds like a pretty cool alternate domain game for fighters.)

I have had many of the same thoughts myself, and I look forward to your results. I would love to give figters at or around level 5 something to chew on while the mages start building towers and the clerics start building congregations in pursuit of magic item construction.

Thanks for the incredible battle write-up! What an epic fight.

Using Control Weather to place a wind-storm on Jagtai was fiendishly clever.

Good read! I’d be curious to take a stab at DaW over VTT, though I’m probably not at your skill level.

What is VTT?

Virtual TableTop; roll20, maptool, etc.

Oh, yeah, I’d love to do that! I’m free most evenings and weekends Eastern time. (-5 GMT?)