I was pipped to the post in terms of writing things up and you can check out his report here . He has opted for a more narrative approach, whereas I have been more 'practical', so hopefully between the two of us there is something to cater for all tastes!
We mostly stuck to the 'basic' rules, which I generally dislike as games which typically use a basic/advanced rule format patronise intelligent adults everywhere and offer a sub-par gaming experience if you don't use everything from the off. Slaughterloo seems to be something of an exception to this rule. Although it uses an i-go-u-go turn structure, there is actually a considerable amount of decision making to be done thanks in part to the requirement of 'Form' rolls to carry out complex maneuvers and the issuing of command cards which give your units bonuses in certain situations. But this isn't supposed to be a review at this point, suffice it to say our first game has revealed Slaughterloo to be of considerable depth compared to many fantasy wargames (or indeed historical ones) which I have played before. Even with the basic rules, there is a lot to think about and get to grips with. So our first game was a roaring success and I look forward to playing more and exploring the additional details the rules have to offer. But for now, on with the battle report.
|The view from the Ferach side of the battlefield|
The above picture shows my advance on the left flank. The Orc artillery claimed first blood against my lancers, but they were keen to close with the Orcs. The two attack columns advanced. Note the two First Fire markers, which provide a bonus and are then removed when the unit takes its first shot of the game or if they become disordered before then.
Here is the right flank on the same turn. The Elf Line unit had taken advantage of a road move to advance at speed. They also formed a line after completing their advance. This caused a slight problem for my cavalry, who, finding their path forward blocked, opted to reform into a column and change facing before galloping off between the rough terrain and the river. All units in Slaughterloo can take an action for free, but if you want to do anything else, you are required to make a Form Roll. With a high Form Rating (5), Elves usually have no problem with such antics as advancing, forming line and firing all in the same move. Todoroni Militia on the other hand, struggle to do anything too taxing without becoming disordered.
The face down cards you see are ordered my general had issued to the units. They need to be within 45cm to get orders, so I had to think ahead about what I was likely wanting them to do, so they would get the best bonus. In this case I issued +3 to Melee cards to both. The cavalry were hoping to outflank and close with the orcs, while the infantry needed to fight hard against the Orc cavalry in front of them. Maybe I could have given them a bonus to firing if I had the right cards, but a) I didn't and b), the Elves are pretty good at shooting, so I wanted to give them a boost to their weak point. As My Todorni General was graded as inept, I had a limited choice of orders to give. This doesn't prevent units from doing anything, but certainly makes getting them to behave well more difficult.
So the Form and Order cards have echos of mechanics from other rule sets. Form rolls make me think of needing to make command rolls in games like Warmaster or Black Powder. The Order cards make me think of Command and Colours. But neither are the focus of the rules, per se. They add to your options as a commander, but you don't need to use either to 'activate' your troops. In a way this makes the decisions more complex as you need to think hard about the best time to try and pull off a risky move, or plan ahead so units have the right orders and the right time.
|Heavy Cavalry hits home|
The above was the situation at the end of the 2nd turn (I think, it might be the beginning of the 3rd...). On the left, my cavalry seem to be in a bit of a stalemate against the Orcs (perhaps a result of the melee rules misunderstanding?). On the right, a poorly judged angle of fire only caused one casualty to the Orc cavalry (the rules for Inferior fire were not used, otherwise it may have been a bit more effective as the Elves who had the Orcs in 45 degrees of them would have been able to fire at half effect). Meanwhile, my heavy cavalry are waiting for an opportunity to strike. Light Elves have advanced through the woods and are picking at the Orcs in front of them. Todoroni militia slowly bring up the rear.
|Firing at the Orc Cavalry|
Not much change above. The melee continues at the top left. A 'Command Indecision' card has caused my Line Elves on the right to advance 5cm closer to the Orcs. This card could have had a much worse effect depending on how the roll for its effect turned out. But I could live with that result!
|Same as the last pic, just a different angle.|
|Run Orcs, Run!|
|A lesson in why you should a) Form a proper line, and b) get as close as possible, before firing your initial volley...|
On the right flank, the Orc Cavalry had reformed. Mine had moved forward to threaten them further, but unfortunately the Orc Heavy Cavalry had started to move up to support them. In the woods, my Light Infantry withdrew (under my orders) as they had taken to casualties and the reduced effect of their fire was not worth the loss in Morale Points if more died.
|The Elves mocked the Orc's inability to sidestep|
|Each army's cavalry clashed on the right flank.|
|Run away! After a long and bloody battle, my cavalry retreat from the remains of the Orc line.|
|The Orc Heavy Cavalry join the fray on the right flank.|
|But too late, the other unit retreats once more.|
We added up Morale points to see how things stood. The Elves had 12 left and the Orcs had 15, so the result was a marginal Orc victory. I like to think that my having three Line Infantry units in pretty good condition might have swung things my way if the game had continued!
I would have liked to get the Militia in there, even just to see how quickly they fell apart compared to their better trained allies, but perhaps next time!
Was the project a success? Absolutely! I am a bit weary of painting 28mm for a while (although we have tentatively arranged a date for a rematch and I need to paint 6 more Light Infantry for that!), but I would have grown bored of painting other ranges before the end. The game itself easily lived up to expectations. We joked how it would be a shame if it hadn't, but I think we were both a little concerned as we had invested a good deal of time and money into it before the first try!
It felt very different from any other fantasy game I have played. True, the Slaughterloo setting is a unique one, but the rules were highly satisfying to get to grips with and the first game really showed that there was much more to learn. I think I have read elsewhere that people could easily play 'normal' Napoleonics with them, and I think I can see why!
I will wait and have a few more games before writing a proper review, as I have clearly just begun to scratch the surface, but Slaughterloo was brilliant fun and had bags of old-school charm to boot. We came across a couple of ambiguities during play, but nothing that two gentlemen couldn't resolve between themselves! It has been a while since I have finished a game and very much wanted to play again as soon as possible (especially massed battle 28mm), so that is high praise from me.
Thanks for reading!