Friday, 10 February 2012

The Fickle Hand of Fate: The Battle of Jupiter’s Shrine, 454 A.D.

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how carefully you plan a battle, when you’re out of luck – well, you know the rest ...

Here’s the hand which the Fate Deck dealt the Saxon warband in Tuesday’s playtest game of Dux Britanniarum. Impressive eh?

Apparently, I’m told that Oh Bollux is the ancient German God of utter rubbish. Given that out of the five Oh Bollux cards in the 52 card fate deck, we (the Saxon players) had ended up with holding three (out of a hand of just five cards) it was impressive indeed.

The game, the Battle of Jupiter’s Shrine was set around sub-Roman Verulamium in the fifth century A.D., with a Saxon raiding party attacking the British forces defending a small farmstead.

A Roman road, no doubt close to the current A414, bisected the table. Unlike other playtest games, we were trying out a slightly different set of cards from other TooFatLardies games. The Fate Deck emphasizes hand management with cards being divided into suits and bringing various benefits to the holder. Well, except for the Oh Bollux cards, that is.

The idea isn’t really all that new. TooFatLardies have used cards in their games consistently, but what is different is trying to build in some of the features of card-driven boardgames where cards can be used to influence action on the board in a variety of different ways. Some may add a simple bonus, some may add more effective bonuses when played with other cards of the same suit, and some may be held back for use in the post-game period to pursue a defeated enemy or make good and escape. It’s a really interesting idea, and one which certainly led to a fast and furious game last Tuesday night.

The action in the game started fairly conventionally, with the two forces stalking each other through the woods and the farmstead.

Soon enough battle was joined, with a Saxon warband charging into a detachment of British hearth-guard. The ability of careful card management to focus, propel and drive the action forward was really apparent. Perhaps flushed with excitement of placing cards which allowed shieldwalls to be braced, charges to be furious and extra charges, both sides threw their cards down into the first combat without hesitation.

Other action followed, with the main Saxon warband comprised of veterans crunching against the British shieldwall. More effective, battle-hardening cards were deployed by the British ...

... with the Saxons able only to place their three Oh Bollux cards in reply. Not quite heroic, but very amusing all the same. Unsurprisingly, the Saxon war leader, Cyddic, suffered a heavy defeat as the British, bolstered by British cards and some fine dice rolls threw the Saxons raiders back.

Cyddic, seeing that the best option was discretion rather than valour, beat a hasty exit accompanied by his champion and what was left with his hearth-guard, leaving possession of the field to the British.

So, there we have it. The third playtest and the rules are proving to be fast, furious, fun and feature an interesting interaction between the tabletop and the cards drawn from the fate deck. Still a long way to go, but even without a blogpost full of dodgy poetry, I think we’re possibly getting there.


  1. Writing every report in a poam form would get exhausting so I understand the break, but you did compose some very nice ones!
    Nice report of course and a cool looking table.


  2. Another grand blog entry, the rules seem to be coming on well. Always liked the uncertainty of card driven games myself, and seems to work particulary well for this period.

  3. Another great post, I must say I'm really enjoying your Dark Age fisticuffs! So what does the "Oh bollux" card actually do?

  4. Great look table and report Sidney.

  5. Great report once again, Sid. And an excellent idea to let the player the option of combining different card hands. The rules seem progressing nicely. Did I read somewhere that TFL was to launch ready-made armies jointly with the Gripping Beast? I've been out travelling all week, with only sporadic access to Internet, so I'm not sure if I did or just dreamt it.

  6. Sigh. Your battle reports are going to cost me money...I am now planning to purchase a few of the rule sets from TFL. :) nicely painted figures btw. And yes, as a wargamer, I have a thing for maps.

  7. Thank for the comments, guys.

    @Christopher: I'll keep on persevering with the poetry, but I was slightly knackered when I did the report and the poet's muse deserted me!

    @Phil: Thanks Phil. Yes, the cards did seem to be working well, but it was only the first play-test. Plenty of time for refinement ...

    @Ray: Thanks mate. The "Oh Boullux" card signifies the warriors shouting in anguish to the ancient German God of utter rubbish. It has absolutely no effect on the game at all - so it's basically a wasted card which is a disadvantage when your opponent is playing a far more useful card!

    @Rodger and Michael: Thanks guys!

    @Anibal: Not dreaming at all, Benito. Richard has teamed up with Gripping Beast to offer ready-made warbands for Dux Britanniarum (which I think is his name for the ruleset). More information on Lard Island News and the TFL Yahoo Group when the news breaks!

    @Justin: Great to see you here, Justin. You are very welcome indeed. No obligation to spend cash - but if you do feel like it, I can promise you that this game won't break the bank … unless you really, really get into it, that is!!


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