Thursday, April 2, 2015

Magic Realm Combat Part 2 -- Weapon Speeds and Hiding

This is the first part of a larger tutorial:

Today we are going to run a couple quick battles with the White Knight. We will use the stalwart knight to focus on the concepts of weapon speeds, alerting, and hiding as they pertain to MR's combat system. We will also get a look at tremendous monsters and the special threat they pose.

So first, let's set up a meeting between the powerful, but slow White Knight and a lone giant. First, let's take a look at the White Knight and his chits.

The White Knight is a powerful fighter capable of taking down the toughest monsters in the Magic Realm. His chits are either heavy or tremendous, giving him the ability to do tremendous damage while wearing the best armor available. His main weaknesses are that he is slow, with speeds of 4-6, and that he tires easily.

In particular, notice his MOVE chits. The WK has only four of them, they are on the slow side and most have effort asterisks. Indeed, his best MOVE is a MOVE H4**, which guarantees having to fatigue a MOVE. When playing the White Knight, we need to end our fights quickly or face a slow death by wounds and fatigue!

Like the White Knight, the giant is a powerful, but ponderous combatant. His attack and move speeds are 5. He does heavy damage and has tremendous vulnerability... nothing too special so far.
However, because he is a tremendous monster, he does not have the normal light and dark sides of lesser denizens and he does not "change tactics" with a roll. Instead, whenever the giant hits us, he flips to his red side. This means that he has grabbed us. He cannot be lured from our sheet and if he hits us again, he kills instantly.

In addition, giants have a special club attack. The club is played on our sheet as though it were a second monster. We cannot attack it, but it can attack us. This means that the giant gets two shots at us each combat round. It also makes the tactic of covering our move less effective, since the giant still has a chance to hit us without getting hit by our covering attack.

We are set up for our first round of combat. Similar to our last tutorial, I am starting this battle with the WK unhidden and alone with the evil Giant. After positioning our attack and maneuver, our sheet looks like this.

Round 1 -- Position Step
Notice that we are playing our MOVE H5* to keep from being undercut by the Giant's attacks. We are also covering our move so that if his main attack hits us, we will hit him first (due to it being round 1 and our weapon is longer) and kill him. But... you might ask, why not play our FIGHT H4**, undercut the Giant's move and kill him automatically? The reason is our great sword and its horrible unalerted side.

The great sword does H* damage, which is nice. But its unalerted side has an attack time of 6. Anytime you use a weapon, its attack time supersedes the time on your FIGHT chit. Thus, it doesn't matter what speed FIGHT chit we play, as long as our sword is on its white side, we attack with the abysmal time of 6.

Our reposition roll is a 5, which moves every box down and to the right. Though the Giant does not roll to change tactics because he is tremendous, his club behaves like a normal creature and does roll. We roll a 2/3 and do not flip the club to it more disturbing T4 side.

Round 1 -- Results
The good news is that our weapon is now alerted, allowing us to play a faster FIGHT chit. Let's set up for round 2.

Round 2 -- Position

Now, we are playing our FIGHT H4**, which will undercut the Giant, do H* harm, and kill him. The only thing we are concerned about now is that darn club. If it flips, it becomes a T4 attack with a length of 8. Our attack time is 4 and the length of the great sword is 8... the attacks will hit at the same time. That won't kill us because of our armor, but a T attack will destroy the H armor and give us a wound -- quite a price for a single giant!

Round 2 -- Result
The reposition roll is a 3, which switches box 1 & 2. The club flips on a roll of 3/6 and you can see what happens. Our attack kills the Tremendous Giant, but his club hits at the exact same instant. Because the club's T harm is higher than our H armor, it shatters the armor. Because it is medium or greater, we take a wound.

So, we lost our armor and we have to wound a chit and fatigue a FIGHT because of the FIGHT H4**, but the Giant is no more.

Hiding Changes Everything

Let's fight the same battle with one simple difference. Let's have the White Knight start the battle hidden. If we are hidden at the start of the battle, we have to pay a little more attention to the first part of the combat sequence.

The first step in a combat round is the Luring step. This is where we lure creatures to our combat sheet, daring them to attack us. This makes us unhidden, so we don't lure and remain lurking in the bushes, waiting to strike.

The second step is the Random Assignment step. This step is where creatures that weren't lured in the previous step get randomly assigned to any unhidden characters in the fight. Since we are hidden, the giant cannot be assigned to our sheet.

The Deploy step will become important in later tutorials, when we have native hirelings. For the remainder of this tutorial, we will skip deployment.

This takes us to the Action step. During the Action step, we can take one of several actions, but most of the time our main choice here is to either run away, or alert our weapon. To run, we have to play a MOVE with a speed less than that of all the creatures on our sheet. Since we are hidden, there are no creatures on our sheet, so any MOVE chit will get us out of the battle.

But, that's not why we're here. We are going to alert our great sword. To do that, all we need to do is play any FIGHT chit with a speed less than the move speed of all the creatures on our sheet. Since there are no creatures on our sheet, we can play a FIGHT H6 and our weapon becomes red-side up.

(Note: Any chit you use to run or alert in the Action step gets put in the "Used this Round" box and counts toward your effort limit and for fatigue. Be careful that you don't play a tiring FIGHT chit to alert your weapon, only to not have enough effort left to not be killed later in the round.)

Now, I have alerted my great sword, cancelling its big flaw. But it gets even better once we get to the Position step!

Round 1 -- Position
Because I didn't lure the Giant, and he didn't get assigned to me randomly, he isn't on my sheet. In the Assignment phase, I can target him (which makes me unhidden), but he hasn't targeted me. Attacking from a hidden position gives you one free shot against the monsters.

Round 2 -- Result
So, with an alerted weapon, and no incoming club attack, I can play my FIGHT H4**, undercut the Giant and kill him automatically without the possibility of wounds or damage to my armor. Starting unhidden, the Giant has a chance to get one or two ugly shots on me. Starting hidden, the Giant is an easy kill.

The Troll and the Morning Star

For our second battle, we are going to pit the White Knight against the Tremendous Troll. The troll is a pretty scary foe for the White Knight because, although he lacks the extra club attack, he is faster than the Giant. Fast opponents are the White Knight's bane.

In fact, if we think about what is going to happen, this is an awful combat for the White Knight. Let's set up for round 1 and we'll see why.

Let's say we try to play defensively and play MOVE H4** and cover with a FIGHT H6. Our covering attack will hit the Troll before he hits us, but we can't kill the Troll this way. The Tremendous Troll has a tremendous vulnerability and to add to that, he is also armored. (Trolls, Serpents, Vipers and Dragons are all armored.) This means that our attack will have one sharpness star removed when we calculate harm.

So, our H* attack becomes an H attack, which does nothing but annoy the Tremendous Troll. We could play a tremendous FIGHT chit, but all of our T FIGHTs have asterisks, which means we cannot play our MOVE H4**, which means the Troll undercuts us. If we don't intercept the Troll on round 1, he undercuts us, goes red-side up and kills us on round 2.

Round 1 -- Position
If we started the battle hidden, we could run, but unhidden this is pretty much our best option. We have a 1/3 chance to kill the Troll with some armor damage and a wound. Otherwise, we are ripped to shreds.

Round 1 -- Result
Now the Troll is red-side up and with that attack time of 2, there is nothing we can do to save ourselves.

Round 2 -- Result
Let's take a quick look at the battle if we change the White Knight's weapon to a morning star. The morning star is slightly shorter than the great sword (length 6) and it loses one sharpness star. At first glance, that might make it seem inferior to the sword, but it has one huge advantage. Its alerted side has an attack time of 3. That doubles our chances of winning against the mighty Tremendous Troll.

Round 1 -- Position
Here we are playing our MOVE H4** and we are covering with a useless FIGHT H6. Similar to the great sword, we cannot kill the Troll with a FIGHT H, so why are we covering our move?

Well, if the Troll manages to intercept us (1/3 chance), we are dead in round 2, just like before. However, if the Troll misses us (2/3 chance), then we will miss him as well. Our weapon will then flip to its awesome speed 3 side. If we hit the Troll, our weapon does not flip, so we are covering our move to insure we miss the troll if he misses us.

Round 1 -- Result (everyone missed)
So, now what? Everyone missed and we have to fatigue a MOVE, which for the White Knight is a bad thing. But, because our weapon is now a speed 3, we are guaranteed to undercut the troll.

Round 2 -- Position
We play a FIGHT T5* and any MOVE. Our speed 3 attack will undercut the Troll and we will do tremendous harm and kill him. Because this is round 2, our attack speed determines the order in which the attacks are resolved, and we are fastest, so the Troll's counterattack (which would undercut us) is negated.

Round 2 -- Result

We win, because the morning star is awesome. This is why after-action reports with the White Knight often start with him trading with the Order to swap his great sword for a morning star. The alerted 3 speed is that much better than an extra sharpness star.

Still, even with a morning star, there is a 1/3 chance of dying, and a 1/3 chance of death is a little harsh. However, if you start the battle hidden, it becomes trivial if you start it hidden. Starting hidden, allows you to alert the morning star during your Action step, and devastate the Troll with a speed 3, tremendous harm attack without him even getting to target you.

Next installment, we will bring some hirelings along and see how that goes.