Sunday, April 22, 2018

First game of Company of Iron

Well, it turns out that we were able to play a Company of Iron game after all, despite not quite finishing all our goals for the painting challenge.  I was happy that Chris was willing to indulge me in a game, so that we could test out the rules and see what we thought of them.

A little into Turn 2, the armies have formed their initial positions to acquire the 6 tasty treasures.
Pyg Bushwackers have a nice gun line in the center forest. Pyg Burrowers vie for the right flank with support from half the Kriel Warriors. One brave Kriel Warriors makes a dash for the first objective marker!

"Forward!" cries the Trollblood commander.
"Thar's the enemy! Shoot 'em! Shoot 'em dead!"
Unfortunately, the enemy shoots first and plugs my commander with a crossbow bolt.
"Gar!  Just a flesh wound!"
"I spy target practice."
And, no, it's not the fellow trollkin holding the treasure that looks like a bullseye....
It's those dastardly paladins in the background.
The Protectorate send their Commander to set the tone of the battle. He shoulda died right there and then. But the bastard recovered. We stalemated there, and we never picked up that damn treasure for the rest of the game.
The Protectorate shut down the gun lines by Assaulting and engaging the troopers. Trollblood forces are sent into disarray!
An intractable stalemate in the center.
The right flank is a total cluster.
"Oy! Drop the crossbow, or taste lead in your head."
Protectorate make off with the loot, while Trolls are locked up in combat and Pyg shooters are neutralized. Protectorate takes the field.
So Chris and I chatted about the gameplay afterward over a beer.  Chris found the gameplay only moderately satisfying, feeling frustrated by how passing a Casualty Roll spoiled the reward for a bunch of good attack rolls.  I reminded him that the Trollbloods are a little unique as an opponent, since they all have 'Tough', which allows a reroll for a poor result on the Casualty Roll.  So they are harder to take out, by design.

Chris also dislikes pre-measuring charges, especially charges that have charge bonuses, because the game degrades into a game of "chicken".  I certainly can relate to that sentiment with regards to Kings of War.  But I don't feel that same concern here in CoI, for some reason.  It may be that I wasn't subjected to it, since I wasn't trying to get into melee.  And it took quite a few games of Kings of War, before that conundrum finally registered on me.  I may very well discover the same thing for CoI, after a few more plays.

For my part, I've decided that I prefer simultaneous melee.  Company of Iron instead uses unilateral melee, and I've realized that a game with alternating activation and unilateral melee feels more like a chess game and less like a tactical wargame.  The essence of the game comes down to prioritizing activation sequence.  That's OK for a game, but I much prefer the flow of a game like Pulp Alley, which allows reactions to both shooting and melee.  Maybe a game like that still doesn't necessarily convey real-world tactics (hadn't thought about whether it does or doesn't), but the flow and the narrative is much more appealing to me.

Bottom line, Chris and I will play Company of Iron some more and give it a fair shake.  As of now, however, I expect it to merely be an excuse to use my Hordes models, and it won't likely be a "go to" game for me.