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Wars of Orcs and Dwarves - Seize the highroad

Wars of Orcs and Dwarves - Seize the highroad

Last Saturday (26th September) I had a great first play test game of Wars of Orcs and Dwarves with Buck Surdu, Chris, Mark, Jim and Greg. The game was hosted in North Yorkshire but all of the players were from various locations in the USA (Buck lives in Florida, Mark in Massachusetts, Jim in North Carolina and Greg and Chris are from Maryland).  The game was played using 'Zoom', a video conferencing application. I have a webcam mounted on the ceiling in my games room, the camera and microphone covers the whole of my games table. These images are web into the video conference. All of the players have rules, dice and units stats. The players make there decisions and roll there dice and the results are reflected on the table top for everyone to see. Games take a little bit longer to play, as there is no concurrent activity, but they are certainly the next best thing to get together around a gaming table. The huge bonus is off course that you can as easily play with friends from the other side of the world as your friends from the next village.

War of Orcs and Dwarves Mass Fantasy Battle

Wars of Orcs and Dwarves takes the rules mechanics of 'Wars of Ozz' which is a Black Powder, Mass Fantasy Battle game set in the world of the 'Wizard of Oz' and 40+ other books written by L Frank Baum and others and applies them to Tolkien inspired, 'traditional' fantasy. Mark, Greg and Jim played the Orcs and Goblins and Buck and Chris played the Dwarves. The battle started with aggressive opening moves from the Orcs. Mark immediately sent the pack of ferocious wolves charging into Bucks Dwarven archers.

War of Orcs and Dwarves Mass Fantasy Battle

On the Dwarves right flank, Chris Palmer sets his Brigade to advance through the woods and rocky ground towards the 'Great North Road' which provided the strategic objective for the game.

War of Orcs and Dwarves Mass Fantasy Battle

Fighting unsupported the wolves took casualties from the Dwarves short range volley as they charged home and in the subsequent rounds of melee. We can see the survivors routing past the advancing Ogres and Goblins.

War of Orcs and Dwarves Mass Fantasy Battle

The next unit to charge Bucks Dwarven archers was a regiment of Night Goblin Archers. They have already suffered two casualties from bowfire as they have advanced. After each four casualties, a base is removed.

War of Orcs and Dwarves Mass Fantasy Battle

The Dwarven archers managed to move to there right flank to let the more heavily armored Dwarf Free Company advance into melee with the Goblins.

War of Orcs and Dwarves Mass Fantasy Battle

Meanwhile on the Orcs left flank, Greg and Jim have managed to get there Orcs to surge forward to occupy the road, control of which determines the winner of the battle.

War of Orcs and Dwarves Mass Fantasy Battle

Bucks Dwarves stoically fought of the Night Goblin attack, but no sooner had the Goblins routed there place was taken by a unit of huge, lumbering Ogres.

War of Orcs and Dwarves Mass Fantasy Battle

Gregs Orcs fan out in to line occupying a defensive position between the sturdy dry stone walls.

War of Orcs and Dwarves Mass Fantasy Battle

On the Dwarves right flank, Chris's brigade advances cautiously as fast as there short legs allow.

War of Orcs and Dwarves Mass Fantasy Battle

A bizarre sight, Jim’s Ogre regiment charges in a one stand column. It was a gamble, if they had reformed, it would have used half there move so they would not have got into combat, and it certainly kept the pressure up on the Dwarves.

War of Orcs and Dwarves Mass Fantasy Battle

Chris Palmers Dwarves fought well, here we see another unit or Orcs routing towards there own lines.

War of Orcs and Dwarves Mass Fantasy Battle

The Dwarves had enlisted the aid of a mercenary hill giant. He had little problem defending the bridge from the advancing Goblins.

War of Orcs and Dwarves Mass Fantasy Battle

Eventually the Free Company on the Dwarves right flank broke.

War of Orcs and Dwarves Mass Fantasy Battle

At the end of the game, victory was awarded based on the amount of non-routing units occupying the terrain tiles that included the main North - South road. The Orcs had three, the Dwarves had two, so on this occasion it was a minor victory to the green skinned brigade.

We are already planning a return match in four weeks time.

The game mechanics worked very well and I think was enjoyed by all.

The terrain was all built using Sally 4th Terra-Former modular terrain tile kits, which you can find out about here.

Over the last month I have been rebasing all my old Games Workshop Warhammer Fantasy Battle miniatures onto 2" square unit bases for playing Wars of Orcs and Dwarves. Click here to take a look at the rebasing article and some of the classic Warhammer miniatures in greater detail.


Comments: 5

Buck Surdu |
RE: Wars of Orcs and Dwarves - Seize the highroad
The game was fun. In turn 2, I thought we Dwarves had it in the bag, but then fortunes changed and we ended up losing. It was a bloody, exciting fight.

For a first run out of the box, I think the Wars of Ozz systems seemed to work very well for general massed-battle fantasy games. Many more play tests are needed. I started with the mature Wars of Ozz system, which is at the publisher for layout and printing as part of the Kickstarters.

I made a conscious decision to NOT write a "history" or provide a map. The idea is that you can bring whatever armies you already have painted. The challenge with that is that you have to provide a "construction guide" to let people create the stats for the game for any figures you want to use. I have a pretty complex Excel spreadsheet that I use to create those stats. It APPEARS that the points values of the various units were about right, but again, there will be more play testing.

The key differences between Wars of Ozz and Wars of Orcs and Dwarves are:
- Representation of weapon reach so that longer weapons have some advantage over shorter ones. The system I used in this first play test I didn't think worked well enough, and I have designed a replacement system that I like better.
- Representation of armor. The system we used for this game required the attacking player to ask the defending player his armor before rolling the dice. Often people forgot to ask, and that created "oh, I forgot" moments where we had to go back. I have devised a new system that I think will work better.
- Addition of the undead. This required creating a fifth and sixth Reaction Test chart.
- Characteristics of different races. The idea is that the different groups will have "special abilities" or notes that characterize them. For instance, I am thinking that an Orc brigade can have a maximum of one unit with missile weapons and perhaps a unit of wood elves can have at most one non-bow unit. Unless you are a designated undead hunter, your Resolve will be penalized when attacked by the undead. There will be at most one note or special rule per group, and clubs and players may need to add some additional flavor to align with their views on their fantasy world.

Running a game through Zoom is quite different than an in-person game. With just one person at the table with the troops, the GM is quite busy. Wars of... are meant to have a lot of things happening in parallel, so the game is slower when only one thing can happen at a time. As an example, we played four turns on Saturday with four players, two of whom had never played before, in about four hours. This included setup and adminstrivia. At the only convention run of Wars of Ozz prior to the plague, we ran several six-player games in less than three hours.

-- Buck Surdu
Buck Surdu |
RE: Wars of Orcs and Dwarves - Seize the highroad
The game was fun. In turn 2, I thought we Dwarves had it in the bag, but then fortunes changed and we ended up losing. It was a bloody, exciting fight.

For a first run out of the box, I think the Wars of Ozz systems seemed to work very well for general massed-battle fantasy games. Many more play tests are needed. I started with the mature Wars of Ozz system, which is at the publisher for layout and printing as part of the Kickstarters.

I made a conscious decision to NOT write a "history" or provide a map. The idea is that you can bring whatever armies you already have painted. The challenge with that is that you have to provide a "construction guide" to let people create the stats for the game for any figures you want to use. I have a pretty complex Excel spreadsheet that I use to create those stats. It APPEARS that the points values of the various units were about right, but again, there will be more play testing.

The key differences between Wars of Ozz and Wars of Orcs and Dwarves are:
- Representation of weapon reach so that longer weapons have some advantage over shorter ones. The system I used in this first play test I didn't think worked well enough, and I have designed a replacement system that I like better.
- Representation of armor. The system we used for this game required the attacking player to ask the defending player his armor before rolling the dice. Often people forgot to ask, and that created "oh, I forgot" moments where we had to go back. I have devised a new system that I think will work better.
- Addition of the undead. This required creating a fifth and sixth Reaction Test chart.
- Characteristics of different races. The idea is that the different groups will have "special abilities" or notes that characterize them. For instance, I am thinking that an Orc brigade can have a maximum of one unit with missile weapons and perhaps a unit of wood elves can have at most one non-bow unit. Unless you are a designated undead hunter, your Resolve will be penalized when attacked by the undead. There will be at most one note or special rule per group, and clubs and players may need to add some additional flavor to align with their views on their fantasy world.

Running a game through Zoom is quite different than an in-person game. With just one person at the table with the troops, the GM is quite busy. Wars of... are meant to have a lot of things happening in parallel, so the game is slower when only one thing can happen at a time. As an example, we played four turns on Saturday with four players, two of whom had never played before, in about four hours. This included setup and adminstrivia. At the only convention run of Wars of Ozz prior to the plague, we ran several six-player games in less than three hours.

-- Buck Surdu
Mark Morin |
RE: Wars of Orcs and Dwarves - Seize the highroad
Thanks Chris for running a very fun game. As Buck stated above, there are a few tweaks that are needed, and some playtesting should validate the needed changes. For a first run, I had a very enjoyable experience. I had not previously tried to play Wars of Ozz but was a Kickstarter supporter and look forward to that as well. The Zoom experience was indeed different but it worked certainly cheaper than a transatlantic flight! As to the game, our strategy was to throw the most forces at Buck across the open area. In fact, as we had bought fewer troops we got the reconnaissance advantage of seeing the whole table terrain, and we deployed with that in mind. Casualties were expected, and we took them, but the dwarves were held up enough for the win. I look forward to our next session!

Mark A. Morin
Blog: markamorin.com
Mark Morin |
RE: Wars of Orcs and Dwarves - Seize the highroad
Reblogged here: https://markamorin.com/2020/09/29/war-of-orcs-and-dwarves-playtest-across-the-atlantic/

Mark A. Morin
Christopher Palmer |
RE: Wars of Orcs and Dwarves - Seize the highroad
I had a great time, Chris! Playing via Zoom has its drawbacks, but it was a fun way to get together and play a game at the current time.
As one of the Dwarf commanders, i felt the rules gave a good feel for the tough, stoic little fighters; and we did good at the onset, but the Orcs' & Goblins' tenacity gradually wore us down and brought us to a standstill. We had hoped to contain the enemy in the south, while our northern wing advanced and swept east and southward. Unfortunately the Orc and Goblin quick and vicious attacks stalled our plans and soon had our momentum halted.
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