"I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why, I cannot tell,
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell"
To be fair, it isn't a case of me not liking "II", it's just that I don't love it, or see what is so great about it. I don't dislike them. Question is, do I mind playing them again if offered? I really needed another go to be sure. This time round we played it a bit more as it should be done, with a better grasp of the rules, although not knowing all of them, still. There are a lot of rules, and (unlike in some systems) it pays to know them. This is a game where tactics are mostly driven by understanding what the rules tell you you can do. This is not a good or bad thing, it's just a thing.
We did a Romans v Britons game, with the Romans having a forage mission. We used the terrain set up system, which was not quite as painful as the instructional video made it seem.
This time round we used the Infamy deck. This is the card that Phil & I drew as the Britons. Chris had the Romans. We were still not using the entire system - for example we didn't have any Roman exploring officers - and this will have affected the outcome. To me, this was less important as I wanted to understand the movement/combat/morale system, rather than the game setting chrome. The figures and scenery are all Richard's, except for the ambush markers (like the wild boar) and the hills, which came out of Shedquarters. Oh, and the wagon. Richard had brought one of these, and ambush markers, but they weren't painted.
You have this random arrival thing from your deployment zone. I got a unit of average warriors and some levy. I had them surge out of the village, to cover it from the legionaries sneaking round the wood. I tucked the levy out of the way in the second rank, so they gave support but could not be targeted.
Here's a better idea of the layout.
Chris had most of his stuff out. We'd passed on some deployments, hoping to be able to spring a trap. Ah Ha! It worked! Phil rushed out of a marsh with two groups of elite warriors, and caught some auxilia bowmen in the rear.
I was whipping up my fervour (the number on the white dice), as a unit of elite legionaries, lead by a level III leader (that's the best) headed for me.
Having overrun the bowmen, Phil's warriors next crashed into some auxilia foot. They had turned to face, and done some defensive thing with their shields, and braced for impact (hence the markers)
Phil did a number on them, and inflicted some damage (red dice is figure losses, green is shock).
I absorbed the first round of combat with the legionaries (no pictures), and was very lucky with the dice. That bounced them back a bit, which meant I could then shuffle my groups around and hit them again with a fresh unit. It looked a bit cheesy to me, but it might be what is intended to represent some kind of passage of lines. Chris suffered from poor dice rolls, and because his supports were slow coming up.
In the other fight Phil drove the auxilia back by enough to enable him to get a fresh unit in, and then tag his previously used unit on behind as supports. Again, either cheesy or genius, take your pick.
Final turn. Phil killed the auxilia, I killed the level III commander. I also bounced the legionaries back into the charge path of Phil's victorious warriors. That was about it.
Alas for Chris he got nowhere near his objective of sacking two out of three locations on the board. Looking at the game he never really had a chance, even taking into account how lucky I was with the dice, and Phil did nearly as well.
Having said that, Romans are really hard to kill, and a little bit of luck from Chris could easily have had us running for the hills after a round or two of combat. The "Fervour" mechanism means the barbarians need to get on with it, or their advantages evaporate. They erode pretty quickly in combat, so if the Romans can keep it together, you'll take a pasting .Which has a ring of verisimilitude about it.
So, do I like Doctor Fell now? Well, I understand the mechanisms better, and some - like the Fervour - do a good job of creating an impulse on the Britons to get stuck in. Some I was less enamoured of. It's obvious that there are bucket loads of chrome stuck on this to create period flavour, which makes for a game system you really have to learn to get the most out of it. I've been accused of writing board games because I use squares. However, in terms of how this works it's almost more like a board game than anything I've done - I'm not saying this is a bad thing, as I play board games.
We had the playsheet off the Lardy site, which is free and helped the combats move along. If we're to play it again, then we need "cheat sheets" of the tactical options for each army, and possibly to read the tactical guides they've posted up on the Lardy Blog. If I cared enough about the game.
So, I don't not like it. It's like seafood. I don't dislike it, but I don't choose it off a menu if I can have a fillet steak.
"I don't dislike you Infamy,
It's just I think you're not for me,
The reason why I just don't know,
Don't ask me why, it's just so"