CAV – Journal of Recognition 2 is a classic Reaper board game that takes a bunch of different races and fighters and places them on one board. Reaper has been known for making interesting games that aren’t just focused on endless attacking. Yes, strategy plays an important part of any Reaper game, and that is what makes them excellent.

Diversity of the army is crucial in a Warlord game

Journal Of Recognition 2If you ever played a game of Warlord, then you know that the type of your army will affect the way you approach the fight. Having a bunch of weak grunts may be an excellent thing if your enemy has few melee warriors, but it won’t work in the majority of other cases. Several well-positioned archers with longbows will render an army of weak creatures useless. A fireball or two will also do the trick.

The classic army layout is the best option for beginners. An army like that should have melee characters whose job is to try and reach enemy archers and mages. They should be hard-hitters if possible. Several strong should be there to soak up the damage and protect fragile units.

Having a quality lineup of range units is a key to victory. Some great archers will cause devastation among enemy melee creatures. A well-hidden group of range units can also destroy enemy archers and other ranged units. This can backfire so be cautious if you decide to make a move like this.

A classic army layout in this game has at least one wizard with several spells that may turn the tide of battle. Beginners should use traditional destruction spells like a fireball as they play an important part in the destruction of the enemy.

Advanced army layouts in Journal of Recognition 2

No experienced player will use a classic army design because they have their ideas and strategies to defeat their foes. Some add more mages to increase the offensive magic power, while others use mages for defense. Check out other Journal of Recognition 2 articles as well as other articles about the game of Warlord army layouts to find out more about advanced tactics and strategies that experienced players use.

Michael and I were recently invited to come down to Reaper HQ and play a game of Warlord for a Fictional Reality battle report. Actually, I don’t think Ed Pugh (head honcho at Reaper) actually got the entire invitation out of his mouth before we excitedly agreed. What follows is an account of the first game of Warlord that Michael and I have played along with some thoughts (and lots of pictures) of the game.

To keep things as an all-Reaper game my army selection was centered around what Reaper figs I had on-hand and painted. Being a D&D DM this meant lots of monsters and not so much in the way of a rank and file army. What to do? Hell, I emptied a dungeon and banded all of the monsters together to go raid a town! I had four squads (Bugbears, Carnivorous Apes, Gnolls, and Lizardmen) along with an Ettin, a Giant and a Ogre Mage attached to the squad of Gnolls. Not only did I like how it looked on paper and when deployed, it was also perfectly legal in Warlord.

Michael, having more player-character Reaper models than monsters, opted to grab stuff off of their shelves and went with an Undead army bolstered by a few of his own Skeleton Warriors. He ended up with units  of Skeleton Cavalry, Skeleton Archers, Skeleton Warriors and a Necromancer.  Much more reminiscent of a ‘standard’ fantasy army than mine and also perfectly legal.

Ok, so we get to Reaper and meet Matt (Warlord designer) who informs us that Ed will be here soon and we’ll be playing a three-way game.  Michael and I feel not so confident now. Then, painter extraordinaire, Ann Foerster walks in and tells us that she’ll be playing on Ed’s team. Remember that scene from “A Bronx Tale” where the bikers go into a bar and feel like bad-asses until the wiseguys come in, lock the door, and kick the ever lovin’ crap out of them? That’s pretty much how Michael and I felt… like the bikers, not the wiseguys. Today, Ed will be running an army designed my Matt which will consist of Orc Archers, Orc Warriors, and Beastmen with an Assassin, an Evil Mage (attached to the Orc Warriors) and an Ogre.

Below is a picture of the awesome city terrain that we got to play on. My deployment zone is over by the bridge on the left side, Michael will start down at the bottom around  the graveyard and Ed/Ann will be over by the top of the picture. We didn’t’ add any extra obstructing  terrain and built the game around each of these ‘evil’ armies coming to take control of the town, but having to take care of each other first.

Journal Of Recognition 2The next three pictures (right) show how the  deployment shook out. I had a good portion of my army ready to move over the bridge and into town with a few guys having to move through the water. I think  that  Michael’s was a bit flawed with his cavalry needing to get around his archers before they could be effective, but we’ll have to wait and see. Ed/Ann had a pretty spread out deployment with their  archers hanging back and the rest of their force, minus the Ogre heading into the cover afforded by the woods so they could advance on the as unmolested as possible. With that done we re-shuffled the draw deck and began the game.

My only fear at this point was that the game could turn into a 2 on 1 affair as many 3-payler games have a tendency to do. I won’t be giving anything away when I happily tell you that is not what happened here. Each of us ended up fighting the other two and it was not just one player teaming up with  another to eliminate the third and then turning on his ally. Everyone went to kick everyone else in the teeth right from the beginning.

Michael and I were still not confident as we were fighting  the owner of Reaper and a gal that is arguably one of the best miniature painters in the world and then having their army built by one of the designers of the game.

And so it begins…

Journal Of Recognition 2Above (left and right) you can see the bonus Ranger movement for Orc and Undead armies. This extra move action takes place before turn 1 actually begins, but it is limited to each specific model that has the Ranger special ability. The leader of the Skeleton Archers (but not the Skeleton Archers themselves) and all of the Orc Archers (except their Leader) move closer to each other. Having nobody with the Ranger special ability my Dungeon Monsters took an extra few seconds to contemplate the meaning of the universe. Ok, scratch that, they picked their noses.

TURN 1

As with many miniature games turn 1 consisted mostly of moving towards positions on the tabletop where we expected battles to take place. The only combat that actually took place during turn 1 was the Skeleton Archers sending a volley of arrows down the dirt road towards the Orc Warriors. This resulted in a 2½” template hitting the orcs and one of them being killed. The draw for the turn went like this.

 

Giant

Journal Of Recognition 2The pictures below and to the right show the positions of each army at the end of turn 1.  Michael draws first blood as we all close towards each other.

My advance is hampered slightly by the funnel that the bridge creates and the river, which is impeding my progress. Still, we march forward ready to pound whatever we meet into jelly.

The Undead stay pretty bunched up as they move down the street and between buildings. The Necromancer is taking care to keep himself out of sight as much as possible.

The Orcs do some spreading out with the warriors cutting across the street and the Beastmen heading up through the woods taking cover. The Ogre is maintaining his presence with the leader of the Orc Archers.Journal Of Recognition 2

TURN 2

Journal Of Recognition 2Some more moving and feeling out still going on during this turn. Again, combat consisted of missile fire, but this time the Orc Archers tried to get into the act only to find that they were out of range. The Skeleton Archers were using longbows while the Orc Archers were firing, you guessed it, regular bows. The Skeleton Archer’s attack was devastating though as it killed three of the Orc Archers. Second blood to Michael also! The Orc  Warriors advanced into the woods towards the Dungeon Monsters and the Beastmen maintained their bearings through the city towards the undead, eventually hoping to flank them. More of the Dungeon Monsters moved onto the bridge and further across the river and the Undead kept up their advance, but didn’t seem in too much of a hurry to engage the enemy at close quarters yet. The draw went like this.

Journal Of Recognition 21.Ed/Ann Orc Warriors

2.Mark Bugbears

3.Mark Card buried using the Tactician Special Ability

4.Mark Ettin

5.Ed/Ann Orc Archers

6.Michael Skeleton Archers

7.Ed/Ann Ogre

8.Ed/Ann Beastmen

9.Michael Skeleton WarriorsJournal Of Recognition 2

10.Michael Skeleton Cavalry

11.Ed/Ann Assassin

12.Michael Necromancer

13.Mark Carnivorous Apes

14.Mark Lizardmen

15.Mark Gnolls / Ogre Mage

16.Mark Giant

TURN 3

Journal Of Recognition 2The draw for turn three went as follows.

The sneaky Beastmen are getting closer to the Undead. In the picture to the left (bottom) you can see them creeping along side of the building and the Half-Orc Assassin is ready to strike from around the building where he is hiding. I think that we’re about to have a massive bug-tussle down by  the river as the Ogre and the Bugbears are closing in on the fight that just started there. The final position for turn three of many troops involved in the game can be seen at the top of the next page.

TURN 4

Journal Of Recognition 2Ok, time to put boot to ass and really get this party going. Ok, before that can happen Michael’s Necromancer needs to run away from the Lizardmen that are pestering him. Wuss! Ok, not really, he’d have been eaten if he stuck around so I can’t blame him for taking off. Turn four did end up rockin’ and a rollin’ with plenty of blood being shed. The Skeleton Archers moved up some more and shot into the Beastmen right next to them and felled one. The Ettin, feeling all ballsy, charged the Orc Warlord (yup, da boss) and punched him once in the brain. The retaliatory strike from the Orc missed. Two of the Orc Warriors that had gone down bled out (blew their revive roll) and the rest charged the Ettin and brought the monster down. Their cries of joy were cut short as the Bugbears charged in and dropped another Orc Warrior and caused another wound on the Orc Warlord. The strikebacks from the Orcs were quite effective and dropped two of the Bugbears. Extra support from the Dungeon Monsters was needed in that area immediately.

The Orc Archers continued to pepper the Skeleton Swordsmen and another hit the gound.   The leader of  the Orc Archers moved  up to  get into  position for

Journal Of Recognition 2some close-up butt kicking. The Gnolls and Ogre Mage moved up with the Gnolls spreading out a bit and leaving room for a Fireball to be cast at the Skeleton Archers. Two blackened skeletons hit the  ground  and  the Beastmen were appreciative of the support even though it was  from an enemy that they soon expected to be fighting. The Ogre advanced towards the fight on the opposite shore while the Carnivorous Apes came around a building towards the same fight. The Skeleton Warriors  charged  the Assassin but were not able to hit their slippery foe. He also struck at them but missed and a retaliatory strike found its mark and caused a would to the Half-Orc Assassin. The Lizardmen filled in across the street as best they could to form a line that the upcoming Skeleton Cavalry would have to get through before hitting the Gnolls, Ogre Mage and Giant.  The expected charge came and the Lich was leading the undead riders. He took down one of the Lizardmen, but not before receiving a strikeback from the cold- blooded creature. The Beastmen saw their opportunity and charged the Skeleton Archers. Two more of the undead bowmen were brought down along with one of the Beastmen. The Giant moved up, ready to bonk someone on the head.

The draw for turn four went like this.

Michael Necromancer

Journal Of Recognition 2Michael Skeleton Archers

Mark Ettin

Ed/Ann Orc Warriors

Mark Bugbears

Ed/Ann Orc Archers

Mark Gnolls / Ogre Mage

Ed/Ann Ogre

Mark Carnivorous ApesJournal Of Recognition 2

Michael Skeleton Warriors

Ed/Ann Assassin

Mark Lizardmen

Michael Skeleton Cavalry

Ed/Ann Beastmen

Mark Giant

Journal Of Recognition 2The cavalry charge of the Undead can be seen here along with the Beastmen putting down the Skeleton Archers. You can also spot the Necromancer (da wuss) over on the top-left corner.

The Ogre must be highly pissed that the festivities started without him. The stars above represent models that are down, but not yet officially dead. They’re just “mostly dead” right now and are waiting to either blow or make a revive roll or to have their throat’s slit by a nearby sneaky bastage.

TURN 5

Journal Of Recognition 2At the beginning of turn five everyone still has a dog in this fight, but by the end of it fortunes will start to change. Things started off with the Carnivorous Apes charging into the Orc Warriors and taking down the Orc Warlord. Another Lizardman goes down to the Skeleton Cavalry, but the leader of the Lizardmen is still standing. The rest of the cavalry fill in the best they can across the street, setting up for a devastating ride towards the Gnolls.

The Bugbears (being sneaky gits of low moral fiber) slit the throats of three Orcs, including the Warlord, which are lying on the ground. The Half-Orc Assassin and Skeleton Warriors continue to dance around each other and the Ogre charges into two Bugbears dropping one and taking a retaliatory strike himself. The Gnolls charge into the Skeleton Cavalry and pile another hit on the Lich. Three of the Gnolls go down in a flurry of strikebacks but a Bolt spell from the Ogre Mage drops another undead rider in his tracks.

The Necromancer moves up around some buildings on the other side of the fight in the street and the Skeleton Archers that are in hand-to-hand with the Beastmen manage to drag one down. The Giant sends bone splinters flying everywhere when he smashes one of the Skeleton Cavalry and the  Orc Archers also take shots at the riders and bring one down. The leader of the Orc Archers charges into the Skeleton Warriors and smashes it into  the ground.

The last standing Lizardman, the leader, misses the Skeleton Cavalry that he’s fighting and the Ettin dies from his wounds (I blew the revive roll). The Orc Warriors have two of their number bleed out and the remaining one charges a Bugbear only to miss and be dropped by a defensive strike. The unengaged Beastmen then charge the remaining Skeleton Archers and put a wound on the Sergeant and kill a regular archer.

Draw order for turn five.

Mark Carnivorous ApesJournal Of Recognition 2

Michael Skeleton Cavalry

Mark Bugbears

Michael Skeleton Warriors

Ed/Ann Ogre

Mark Gnolls / Ogre Mage

Michael Necromancer

Michael Skeleton Archers

Mark Giant

Ed/Ann Orc Archers

Mark Lizardmen

Ed/Ann AssassinJournal Of Recognition 2

Mark Ettin

Ed/Ann Orc Warriors

Ed/Ann Beastmen

I think that Michael took the worst drubbing of turn five. Ed and Ann didn’t do too badly as a lot of their casualties came from the slitting of throats, but it made sure that they can’t come back. My Gnolls did not fare well at all against the Skeleton Cavalry, but it came during defensive strike and there was not much I could do about it. If my Ettin had made his revive roll the Ogre probably would have loaded his pant, but as things stand the Bugbears and Carnivorous Apes will have to take care of him.

TURN 6

Turn six started with Michael’s cavalry dropping the Lizardman leader and a Gnoll, but the Lich is also hit in the process and is stunned (goes down). The Orc Archers draw attention to themselves by shooting at the Carnivorous Apes, but they cause no hits. The archer leader charges another Skeleton Warriors but the clang of steel on steel is all that occurs.

The Carnivorous Apes, while irritated at being shot at have more pressing business with the Ogre, charge the beast and take it down while also slitting the throat of a felled orc. A Skeleton Warrior stands back up (ain’t the Tough Special Ability great when it works) and the Assassin suffers another hit. The Bugbears do a coup de grace on the Ogre and the Bugbear sergeant actually makes his revive roll and stands up while another bleeds out. He gives the rest of the guys a big “thumbs up” at their good job of taking down the Ogre.

The Skeleton Archer sergeant is still fighting the Beastmen but misses when trying to strike but a defensive strike sends him back to hell. The Giant smashes another Skeleton Cavalry and then moves to stand between the last of the undead riders and the Ogre Mage.  The Gnoll Warlord smashes the  skull of the Lich in a coup de grace and the Ogre Mage steps out from behind the Giant to blast the last Skeleton Cavalry with a Bolt spell that shatter the rider and mount. Finishing the turn Michael’s Necromancer moves to get a line of sight at the Gnoll Warlord and Ogre Mage and casts Scare at them. They both look in his direction and mouth, “ I don’t think so.” as the spell has no effect on them.

We ended the game at the end of turn six with me having more than 50% of my army left and Ed and Ann’s and Michael’s armies both being decimated. The draw for turn six went like this.

Michael Skeleton CavalryJournal Of Recognition 2

Ed/Ann Orc Archers

Mark Carnivorous Apes

Michael Skeleton Warriors

Mark Bugbears

Michael Skeleton Archers

Mark Giant

Ed/Ann Beastmen

Mark Gnolls / Ogre Mage

Michael Necromancer

Had we gone another round or two I think that Ed and Ann and Michael would have ganged up on me but I’m fairly confident that I could have pulled it off considering how much of my army, including the Giant who was uninjured and the Carnivorous Apes (also still complete), was left alive.

MARK’S THOUGHTS

Journal Of Recognition 2Well, we went into this game wanting to learn how to play and also evaluate Warlord as a fantasy skirmish game. We accomplished both and had a good time to boot. Ed, Ann, and Matt (and for that matter everyone that I’ ve met at Reaper) are some of the nicest people you’ll meet and treated us like guests in their house. It was a pleasure to play with them and I’d jump at  any opportunity to do so again.

Ok, on the learning how to play bit. We read over the rules and built our army lists prior to the game but went over some special rules before we started and then got to work. The game was very easy to jump right in to and the only thing we really referenced the rulebook for was to check on the exact  effects of some spells. Warlord uses the same kind of damage track system as CAV, but this is really not fantasy-CAV. In CAV everyone is walking around (for the most part) with lots of things with large damage tracks. In Warlord your Sergeants, other leaders and characters and monsters have damage tracks, but grunts have their one wound and that’s pretty much it. Also, grunts (and adepts) have a significant place in the game and that’s not just to soak up hits for the bigger guys. They can all do damage and I never got the feel of Warlord being a system that just delivers the bad-ass characters towards each other. Yes, the big guys are devastating, but they can also be brought down under a mass of regulars. Case in point was how my Ettin went down and how I took care of the Ogre.

I also liked the flow of the game. You never knew who was going to get the next activation but we were also not locked into activating certain units when your turn came up. We did have a couple of occasions of people getting multiple activations in a row and if played correctly this can lead to some awesome beat-downs.

What I probably liked most about the game, even more than winning, was how you can build pretty much whatever army you want to play. Had I really wanted to I could have taken a single dragon as my army. Not sure how well it would have fared, but I could have done it. My army for today was built primarily around necessity (using all-Reaper) miniatures but I was also able to build a decent reason for them to all be together.  The down side to  this is that now I have all sorts of ideas floating around my head on new Warlord armies to build, like a jungle/swamp-themed army that has Snakemen, Lizardmen, Giant Frogs, a Tortoise Dragon and Frogmen in it. I liked Warlord very, very much and will definitely find myself playing it more.

MICHAEL’S THOUGHTS

Well, that went about the way I thought. For once a 3-way game didn’t degenerate into a “let’s you and him fight” with the third force  playing cleanup. I attribute that to the fact that there were experience players all around the table. Personally, I knew I had to hit Mark’s forces with  the Fireball spell when the were on the bridge because they wouldn’t be that bunched up again in the game.

So, what did I learn from this game? Lots, actually – but that’s to be expected when you play a game for the first time. I’ll run through the more important ones below:

Journal Of Recognition 2Spells are purchased per cast. The 50 points that I spent on the Fireball wasn’t to have the spell for the entire game, but to have it once. I should have read the rules closer. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have sunk so many points into just one spell – but bought others – ones that could also be used to counter spell! The Scare spell is similar – I really didn’t have a chance to use it against a troop of grunts – when I did cast it, it was a desperation move.

Cavalry are tough – but hard to maneuver. I bought this unit expecting a more open battlefield. In the streets of the village, I was stuck in multiple ranks and caught behind my archers for most of the game. When they finally broke out, they couldn’t run down Mark’s Lizardmen, and so they stood around and gave up their bounty points.

Longbowmen are vicious. My most effective tactic of the game was the deployment of my longbowmen in a line firing down the street. I was able to outrange the orc archers and take out the majority of them in a few turns using Volley Fire. Against the hapless wizard, shooting lots took him  out very nicely. However, once the beastmen got into melee with the archers, they didn’t do too well.

Grunts are tough. In most fantasy games, the regular troop types are just cannon (or wizard) fodder. In this game, they tend to stick around. There were many times that I thought my units would just cave in, but their 10+ DV kept them in the game. That being said, my swordsman sergeant sure did a number on the assassin.

Warlord is a fast playing game. The damage tracks means that most bookkeeping is handled for you. You don’t have to drop counters to keep track of wound status. The two action turn means that you can move/move, move/fight or fight/move or, if you’re special – fight/fight rather than using a move phase/shoot phase/melee phase mechanism.

The generic game is great, but it will get even better with the addition of the official Warlord troop types. I wonder what my Undead Horde would have done if they had had the Undead abilities? I guess I’ll have to wait to find out!

Journal Of Recognition 2