Sunday, June 11, 2017

Expanding to Osprey Games - Ronin, Of Gods and Mortals

Since returning from the Warlord Games Convention, I've been trying out a couple of new games from Osprey. Tracy picked up Ronin while we were at the convention and later Of Gods and Mortals. I had heard about Ronin in the last few months due to it being similar to Test of Honour. The few complains I saw online about Test of Honour was that they already had Ronin for their skirmish samurai game and saw no need to change. I can certainly understand that feeling. While I really enjoy Test of Honour, I was interested in seeing what Ronin had to offer. Tracy picking up Of Gods and Mortals really surprised me. He told me that he wanted to limited the games he played to just Team Yankee and Test of Honour. Perfectly reasonable giving how much of an investment it is to get into these games. Him getting Ronin makes sense because we can still use Test of Honour miniatures with it. Of Gods and Mortals on the other hand requires (at the very least some) getting new miniatures. In a way, I suppose I do understand why he would be tempted to look into it. Both Test of Honour and Team Yankee are historical games and sometimes you just want to play with magic or a dragon. Also OGAM doesn't "lock" you into particular company miniatures. While there are some official models, you are encourage to get any miniature than you want. I guess that would make sense as Osprey only makes game rules themselves and commissions out the miniature making process to third parties. Both of us already have a large collections but while we could adapt some of it to Of Gods and Mortals, picking up a few new models is going to be needed. But are these games even worth it?

My answer for Ronin is at the moment is I'm not sure but my gut feeling says yes. I've only played one game and I still need to read the rules completely myself. From what I played, I see a rule set that is far more complex with a far different tone than Test of Honour. Ronin doesn't have a group system so every model acts on its own and fewer miniatures are used compare to Test of Honour. The game is broken into five phases in which all players will have the options to act during each. The first phase is Initiative. For most of the game you activate a single model and then play passes to your opponent to do the same. Initiative determines who will have first choice in each of the phases for the entire turn and it is rolled every Initiative phase. So you could be going second every turn for the whole game. Morale is also checked in the Initiative phase if you took enough casualties in the previous turn. Next is the Movement phase. This phase is when players take turns moving troops around. What is interesting with this system is that range units can also fire at a penalty during this phase as well. The third phase is for melee combat. The melee combat has a lot of quarks and complexities with it that I'm saving talking about it when I do a full review of Ronin. What I can say now is that the core melee mechanic deals with risk management of actions. Each troop has a number of actions they can do per turn based on their stat. At the start of combat you decide, in secret, how you want to split up your actions into offensive and defensive actions. Offensive actions needs to be spent to do a melee attack. Dodge is free but spending a defensive action increases your chances of surviving the attack. Play swaps between combatants until all players decides to pass instead of attacking. It is interesting that after the combat, figures are not pushed back. Once you are in base to base with an enemy, you stay that way until one decides to move away which comes with risks. The fourth phase is when range units can shoot again. There is a table with all the different range modifiers you have to consider when making a shot, including whether or not you shot in the movement phase. The advantages of bows vs muskets are similar to what it is in Test of Honour. In Ronin they have the same range though muskets suffer an additional penalty beyond 24 inches. In 2 turns bows can fire a maximum of 4 times compared to 1 of a musket. However muskets are far more deadly. Range damage is resisted by roll a d6 and adding the troops combat value and armor. Muskets ignore light and medium armor while heavy armor gets downgraded. In the single game I played I notice it was hard to get any damage done with bows. Not impossible, but certainly challenging. I can say ignoring armor is a big deal. The last phase is for cleaning up. Minor things that while important doesn't change the big picture.

I like Ronin for being a more detailed game. Strategy can do deeper in a complex system. Also Ronin uses more traditional army lists and has options for Chinese and Korean forces. All positives and makes me want to play more of it. One downside I notice is that some weapons doesn't seem to be a viable option. In particular, Naginata seem to be better in almost every way to the Nodachi (Naginata is a polearm while a Nodachi is more like a great sword). I did notice a very slight advantage for the Nodachi, but I don't think its worth taking over the Naginata. I don't like see weapon options being next to useless. In Test of Honour every weapon has something unique about it. I'm not sure they all are of equal power but since the benefits are unique and changes gameplay, I think they are all viable options. Of course I might have miss something in Ronin which would make the Nodachi more tempting. As it, I think there are enough ups for playing both systems. I think I will wait on playing Ronin again until the Test of Honour Ninja box set is out. Seeing Ninja as an option makes me want to take it but I don't have an appropriate 28mm miniature for it. One last bonus about Ronin for me is that there is an expansion that includes supernatural options for the game. I'm all for adding supernatural to my games.

Of Gods and Mortals is the game we have put more time into. So far I've played 2 games of OGAM. It is an interesting war game about the various traditional mythological pantheons warring each other. If you ever wanted to play game where the forces of Zeus fight against Odin, this is the game for you. Models are classified into either Gods, Legends or Mortals. A force will have a single god, 1 to 5 legends and the rest are mortals. While gods are by far the most powerful units in the game, losing all your mortals means you instantly lose. Also if the god is defeated, mortals has the option to resurrect them. What attracted us to the game is that OGAM has simple mechanics and a large roster of options to play with. However after a single game there was one aspect we really didn't like (and it was a big one). Combat is resolved by both players rolling a single d6 and adding various modifiers. The side with the higher results wins and knock their opponents back. If they win by 3 or more, then their opponent takes a casualty. If there is a tie, then both sides take a casualty and you roll again. Everything only has a single hit point and one bad roll attacker or defending can kill you. If you get killed by a lower class enemy (legend dying to a mortal, or a god dying to a legend) you do get a check to see if you can ignore the damage. We like everything else about the game but the combat system was a deal breaker. Tracy came up a new system that tried to stay close as possible to the intent of the original but we found more satisfying. It involves taking the total combat modifiers that would normally be added to a single d6 and instead roll a dice pool equal to that number. So if normally for combat you would add 4 to your d6 roll, the new system would have you roll 4d6s instead. Any result of 4 or higher is counted as a success. Both sides compare success and the side with more success roll a dice pool of their net successes for damage. Any results of 4 or higher on this roll is a wound. Gods are defeat after taking 3 wounds, legends after taking 2 and each wound removes a single mortal model. With this change we think the game is a lot more enjoyable.

The official miniature line doesn't cover everything that is available in OGAM. What models they are, some of them are tastefully nude. And some aren't tastefully nude. For example Hercules isn't wearing pants, nor are the harpies. With this in mind we are going with other companies miniatures. Tracy is interested in Greek and has pick up a few Reaper Bone miniatures to fill out his army. As for me, I've been leading towards Japanese Mythology so I could expand my Chaos Test of Honour force. There are so many armies I want to work on that I feel like I shouldn't invest in a new one unless I can connect it to a current project. I still want to do my Warhammer inspired storylines which require multiple armies themselves. One plot line I'm wanting to do is some chaos force travels away from the current lands and arrive in a Japanese like nation. For this I need to build up a collection Japanese models. Some of the things I was wanting to do is to have a Warhammer Fantasy 8th edition Nippon force. With the death of Warhammer Fantasy it looks I will have to craft these stories around using Test of Honour and Ronin. Of Gods and Mortals is a possibility though I don't see any of the Japanese Mythology gods fit in with my Chaos Samurai force. Still, the legend options of Japanese myth offer ways I can expand samurai into supernatural areas. One of which is the Snow Woman. I think she would fit perfectly into my Chaos force and I've already build a model for her. The sprue I got from the Warlord Games Convention turned out to be all female zombies. I really don't like zombies which means their value greatly went down for me. However I did find one combination that looks okay if I use green stuff on her leg. This model I can prime/paint her white, and just paint her dress, hair and maybe her lips. This will make the model resemble the Snow Woman from her mythological stories. If that is not enough, I can also use her as a Geisha Spy in Test of Honour. Basically Japanese Mythology will give me a reason to look for supernatural options for my Test of Honour force all the while I can continue expanding Test of Honour which will also help with the mortal requirements in Of Gods and Mortals. My only sticking point is not having a suitable god to use in OGAM.

There are other pantheons in OGAM that I'm interested in such as Norse, Egyptian, Arabian and not to mention Greek. But unless I can tied one of these pantheons to one of the armies I need to build, I do not see it being worth it for me to invest at this time. That said, Of Gods and Mortals does have rules to make up your own force. With how simple the rules are, I'm worried that players could break the game making custom armies instead of building something to fit their personal fluff. Putting that aside, I could make up a rule set for an Arthurian Legend list. The main army in my Holy Moon story is inspired by Warhammer's Bretonnia which itself heavily borrowed from the Arthurian Myth. I don't like using the create your own option to make an entire force, but that might have to be my option outside of Japanese. I'm sure in the upcoming weeks we will be playing more OGAM to see if our new system works. If things works out in our upcoming games then you can be sure I will be writing more about Of Gods and Mortals in the future (I keep wanting to call it Of Gods and Monsters).

One last thing I like about the game (Tracy doesn't) is it the first miniature game I've seen that unique characters are truly unique. By that I mean that while most miniature games have unique characters you can only take once in your force, most of them allow mirror matches. Of Gods of Mortals rules say that if both players have the same unique character, roll off and the loser will have to replace the unique with something else of equivalent value. The story is always important to me in war games and having unique characters on both sides always bother me a little. At least in Warhammer players could say their own custom character just has the same stats as an unique. But that really doesn't work in a game about traditional mythology. Also I think it can deepen strategy since you will have to consider backup options in case you are denied your uniques.

Ronin -

Of Gods And Mortals -

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