Sunday, March 20, 2016

Beastmen vs. Wood Elves, Savage Worlds Showdown

We're back, and with a whole new take on fantasy skirmish.  After my somewhat less-than-satisfying experience with my Beastmen vs. Wood Elves in the Song of Blades and Heroes rules, I set out to try the matter again with the Savage Worlds ruleset ... more specifically, with their Showdown rules that take away RPG-useful stats and boil everything down more simply to a tabletop wargame.

Same as last time, I set out three treasure locations, with Elven and Beastmen forces squaring off opposite each other with the prospective treasure locations in between, and each location had a 1/3 chance of being the treasure's hiding spot.  
Layout from the Elves' perspective.  Three prospective treasure sites at the mid-point of the board.
The forces were balanced much differently.  Last time, the Elves were overpriced to the point of being more expensive than the Beastmen.  Not so this time.  A Beastman force of one chieftain and four followers priced out to 105 points.  For 118 points, the Elves had a chieftain and Swordsman (both Wild Cards) and eight archers.
The Beastman force.
The Elven force.  A whole lot more guys than were had under the SoBH system.
So, here goes:

Turn 1:
Beastmen won initiative overall.  I was using Minotaur stats for the Beastmen (which may seem like a bit much, but deal with it), which gave them a Pace (movement) of 8" each, plus a 1d10" if they run.

The Beastmen move distance put two of three of their groups already in contact with the three possible treasure locations.  The Elves opened fire with their bows at this point, all at -2 for their running, and needing a 6+ to hit.

Shooting on the Elven left put four arrows into one of the opposing Beastmen, but none proved effective against the beasts.  Arrow fire on the Elven right proved likewise ineffective.
Both sides advance to the three possible treasure sites.  The Beastmens' superior movement rates takes them up to the treasure sites in two of three cases.
Turn 2:
The Elven right took initiative, putting one successful arrow into a Beastman.  With an astounding series of damage rolls, the beast fell to the ground, out of the fight.  His compatriot (a unit of only two Beastmen) failed his Spirit check and proved Shaken.   The Elven Swordmaster moved forward to take advantage of this and lay the beast low, but was unable to.

The Elven left proved likewise ineffective - the arrows of all Elves (including Eofar, the chieftain, who stayed stationary to gain a +2 aiming advantage but rolled a 1) failed to connect to vulnerable Beastman flesh.

The Beastman chieftain advanced to the center position, while the Beastmen opposite the Elven left were comfortable enough under the hail of ineffective arrow fire to check their possible treasure position and determine that their objective did not contain the treasure trove.

Turn 3:

The Elven left took initiative and a hail of arrows brought one of the opposite Beastmen down.  The sole Beastman remaining opposite the Elven left passed a Spirit check and stayed on the field.
Elven arrows fell one of the two Beastmen on the Elven left.
On the Elven right, the Elven Swordmaster moved into combat with the Beastman at Treasure Site 3.  Using his Improved Flurry trait (two attacks, no penalty) he scored a well-placed blow and laid low his opponent.
The Elven swordmaster bests a beastman.  The battle clearly swings to the Elves.

Strategic view of the battle from the Elves' viewpoint.  Arrows on the Elven left reduce Beastmen while the Elven swordmaster charges forward on the Elven right and slays his remaining opponent.
Things were looking grim for the Beastmen.  Reduced now to 2 out of their original 5, they took a force-wide (if you can call it that) morale check.  I don't see that in the Showdown rules, but it seems a sensible house rule.  The Beastman chieftain passed his check, but the last of his  followers failed his.

At this point, the Beastmen routed and headed for the hills.  The lackey who failed his Spirit roll for a morale check recovered from being Shaken (I may have done this wrong - it may be that he was supposed to stay Shaken the rest of this turn) and rolled a 10 for his run roll, taking him all the way to the edge of the board.  The Beastman chieftain, however, only rolled a 3 and fell victim to a hail of Elven arrows as he fled.  Two connected, one wounded.

Turn 4:

The Beastman chieftain failed to get out of a Shaken state and shambled to the edge of the map while his compatriot successfully fled.  The Elves gave chase and fired arrows as they did so, and with an astounding chain of rolls managed to throw four more wounds into the fleeing Beastman leader.  Wild Cards (Player Characters or champions in Savage Worlds Showdown) only have four wounds, so he was down and out of the fight.  A sweeping victory for the Elves!
Strategic view of the Elven chase of the Beastmen from the field.  A hail of arrows pincushions the Beastman chieftain.
Reverse view of the field from the Beastman chieftain's (corpse's) view.
A few thoughts:
1.  The system is far more nuanced than Song of Blades and Heroes, particularly with regard to missile attacks.  The possibility of exploding dice means that, even with unlikely shots getting through the superior Toughness of the Beastmen, it did happen.  This is realistic and I like it.  

2.  I did the Beastmen a disservice by not placing patches of woods that blocked arrows entirely.  This worked greatly to the Elves' favor.  Will have to keep that in mind in the future, especially when one side is composed almost wholly of archers/missile troops.

3.  The Beastmen stats seem off.  By the math of the game, as I understand it, they should have a Toughness of 8, but the basic book lists them as having a Toughness of 11.  I don't know how it would get there, but it would make sense, as I'm using Minotaur stats.  I'm thinking of changing it back to the suggested numbers, even if they don't add up as I understand them.

4.  To run Savage Worlds Showdown "right" - by which I mean with balanced factions - there's a bit more effort than there is in A Song of Blades and Heroes.  This is partly due to the complexity of the two systems - SoBH is stupid simple, while SW Showdown is near-RPG complex by design.  And it's more complicated by virtue of the fact that the spreadsheet available at Savage Worlds websites is okay for calculating, in broad terms, the value of a full faction.  It isn't great for tableside gameplay.  This (using the provided formulas, with cells switched around) is much more useful:

So, that's where my fantasy skirmish is.  Hope you enjoyed.  I did.

Edited to add;  I didn't use any Bennies (re-rolls, each side gets 3 per 100 points and two per Wild Card).  Had I done so, the Beastmen surely would've used them to Soak wounds and charge into contact with the Elves, and this might have been a different battle entirely.


  1. Neat - nice to see someone using the Savage Worlds rules as I am looking at using them for a Firefly inspired sci-fi skirmish. I've read through it but I don't think I quite grokked it the first time through. I think maybe I need to set up a small battle and just walk myself through it.

    1. I take the system for a more elaborate test drive in this post:

      I'm still learning the ins and outs of the system, but enjoying it regardless.