After last week's game the assembled masses with one voice demanded a game of "To Ur is Human." Who am I to deny them?
As numbers are never certain - and one player had to drop out at the last minute - striking the right balance for the game is a challenge. You have to give everyone something to do but also try and get the game in an evening done when you are moving all the toys and trying to take and implement everyone's orders.
For this game two city states clashed in the no-man's land of the hill country. Richard and Jon had the forces to the left, and Ian, Phil and Will those to the right.
Jon and Richard moved first, and set off aggressively. Always like to see that. Increases the chances of the game getting done in the allocated time.
The triumvirate responded in kind. Phil had the centre, and breathed a sigh of relief when Ian went off with his carts to the right, reducing the opportunities for Ian to charge into his flanks in error.
The light infantry on the flanks were soon engaged in an exchange of missiles.
Will's slingers got driven back onto their hill top. In the distance Ian picked the softest target - some light infantry - for his battle cars, led by his Lugal (or General) and went straight for them.
The lights tried to evade out of the way, but Ian caught one group, who turned tail and routed, over the hills and far away.
Jon wasn't holding back either, and before you knew it he had all his battle cars ramming head first into Phil in the centre. Jon won the Fear Tests, and all of Phil's troops became frightened. Looked like we were in for a short evening as Jon punched a big hole in the triumvirates main battle line.
Or had he?
On the other flank Richard brought up his massed archers to try and shoot Ian up a bit. He succeeded in destroying one of Ian's battle cars.
Jon broke the first line of infantry, and careered into their supports. They dropped a fear level, but stood firm. Strangely, despite being "frightened" of Jon's cars, Phil's succeeded in holding them in place getting a draw out of the combat, and matching Jon in the resultant Fear Test.
Jon's bright start then took a nasty turn. Phil's remaining infantry inflicted some damage, destroyed a car and drove Jon's unit backwards. Jon then decided to withdraw the car, rather than lose the unit completely.
Meanwhile, on Jon's left, his ally Richard was pushing his heavy infantry up on to the high ground.
The rest of the heavy infantry was now facing off. In the distance, Ian had a problem. He had only some massed archers facing Richard's heavy infantry.
Out on Richard's left flank there was a lot of light infantry swirling around each other.
Phil drove Richard's troops back up the hill, whilst the battle cars continued to hammer at one another to no great effect, it seemed.
Here they are, hammering away.
Richard was bringing up his own massed archers to try and hold this flank. BTW, if you are wondering what happened to Ian's cars, they went off in pursuit of some light infantry (see above) and are now circling round the back of the ridge on Richard's base line.
Ian's archers did a fair amount of damage, but not enough to stop the Shield Bearing Heavy Infantry Richard was sending at them.
Over by the village, Jon and Will were grinding their heavies into each other too.
So, I don't have any smashed up battle car models, so I had to improvise. The cars finally smashed each other into matchwood, and then, flukily, Phil rolled 11 and Jon's Lugal died too. Wasn't that fun.
A stalemate was on-going at the village.
Richard's heavies broke Ian's massed archers, and broke through. Was this a winning move?
And then Ian's cars emerged from behind the hills, and launched a charge on Jon's troops fighting in front of the village. There's a random element to the movement, and Ian initially fell short. Then he remembered that as he had a Lugal with the unit, he could re-roll one set of dice once per turn. He re-rolled, and in he went. The troops failed a fear test, and immediately dropped to "fright" status.
Here they go, charging in...
...with considerable success...
The troops in the middle set to it again.
We'd been going for just over 3 1/2 hours, and were nearing 11:30pm. Both armies were exhausted, pretty much, so I declared it a draw, and suggested that they all go back to their cities and think about trying diplomacy next time.
It was a gripping, but odd game, with some odd outcomes determined by chance. It is rare to get prolonged melees, as the Fear Test normally sorts them out, but we had a lot of matched die rolls, or above average/below average hits to keep both sides interested and not breaking.
It played really well - To Ur is a simple set of rules (check out the separate page for details) and the simplicity works. There are some intricacies it's easy to over look, especially when you don't have the players in the room and you're pushing the toys, and adjudicating all the outcomes. But even so, it was a good game.
And really fun to get the Sumerians out again.