Monday, June 4, 2012

Quar: Songs of Our Ancestors: Test Game

I've used Quar in games for a VSF campaign, for Legends of the Old West, and for home-brew games, yet until last weekend I never had a chance to try an actual game of Quar.  At KublaCon, the Zombiesmith folks run late night games of Quar, this time Songs of Our Ancestors, and this was the first time I had a chance to go to that, so I was looking forward to it. I was kind of hoping for a huge mega-battle with lots of participants, but they were running the skirmish game with the new scenarios- which was fine, I'd wanted a chance to learn the game, so this worked out.

Songs of Our Ancestors is the skirmish game for Quar using the Songs of Blades & Heroes game mechanics from Ganesha Games. I'd played the fantasy skirmish version a few times so was generally familiar with it.

I brought my painted Royalists, and my friend Dan had his newly pained Crusaders, and appropriately enough we got paired up to confront each other. Since Royalists & Crusaders have been at each other's throats forever, this was a good mix.  The author of the new scenario book was on hand and set us up with a mission.

My Royalists had a small squad with rifles, a small squad with sub-machine guns and a heavy machine gun team.  They had to defend the two generator buildings at a river.  The Crusaders had a few combined arms squads, including grenades and two satchel charges to blow up the buildings.  we alternated placing the extra terrain: trees & crates, for cover.The field looked like this:
The two structures to represent the buildings on either side of the bridge (the river runs under it and then into a waterfall that goes underground.

I didn't have a machine gun team, and had just 1 submachine gunner, so I borrowed the team (at left and some of the submachine gun squad). the heavy machine gun was set up on the roof.
The Royalists get ready to shoot any Alkynder-lovin sot that raises his head.
The Rhyflers go on overwatch:
And so the Crusader rebels start lobbing grenades:
Guess those troopers will now be watching over from the afterlife. But one survives, he moves around and shoots the Quar with a satchel charge and gets a 'gory kill' and the others run off!
Yay! But they soon recover and send my Rhyfler off to join his mates.

And here is where it bogged down.

The crusaders had grenades.  So he used them: kept lobbing them out, killed my troops when lucky.
So I pulled back and kept on overwatch.  This made him stay behind the crates.  He felt (maybe rightly so) that if he went up to attack the building I would kill him with the heavy machine gun, and he was in overwatch, so if I went to dig him out I would die, but if I stayed where I was, I'd eventually die from grenades.  Since you can go prone in the game, which is a free action, you could stay behind cover, safe from attack, and if the other guy came out, you could raise, shoot, then go prone again. There was no turn limit, so the crusaders were smart to stay put, lob grenades until they ran out (a random roll after the 3rd one) and hope to clear me with grenades. If I retreated to the buildings, I couldn't see out to defend them and he could walk up and destroy them.

I ended up feeling like I had to sit, hope he ran out of grenades before I ran out of Quar, and see if he would walk into my line of fire which hadn't happened yet, and he felt like he had to sit and wait until I failed to roll enough actions to put my heavy machine gun into overwatch, which hadn't happened yet.
So we were both waiting for the other to have bad dice luck.  It was a Catch 22 and didn't really work out.
"Just give me something to shoot" 

Some of the problems were our own ignorant fault:

We set up terrain in a way that made what was nearly a trench war.  Given that, it worked out just right: trench war should bog down to a stalemate where no one wants to move if accurate.  We shouldn't have had all that terrain ready to make complete cover when prone.

We were letting troops that were prone go on Overwatch. They can't, we didn't know, and hadn't questioned it enough to find out.

It is a fun scenario for the story, but needed players more familiar with the game and game options than we were.  I do see a couple problems that I'd want to fix in home games:

1. Going prone should cost an action.  It is a free action, but that causes some problems.  It creates something I remember from 2nd & 3rd Ed. 40k: Pop-Up attacks.  You're safe, you suddenly move out to shoot, then move back safe & untouchable again.  That should cost an action, if it does it makes it harder to do.  Also, if this is allowed, the defense for it is overwatch.  That can work, but that means people will sit on overwatch, which is then countered by the enemy sitting on overwatch to watch them, and soon the gears grind until nothing is happening. But it is fixable.

2.  Every tactic should have a counter.  Overwatch is a defensive tactic. If the only real counter is to go into Overwatch too, then that puts both sides on defense: nothing will happen.  There should be offensive tactics to defensive tactics.  I'd suggest something like 'covering fire': have one squadmate shoot at the overwatching unit, to try to break their overwatch, while another squadmate moves.  That's how it happens in the movies, which is a good guide for the tabletop.

We should have just played "my 10 guys in the woods hunting your 10 guys in the woods" at this point.
I love objective based scenarios, but you do need to have the basics well understood to see potential pitfalls.
A lot of the scenarios are in a linked campaign, which sounds like a lot of fun.  It also means they probably will not all be equal & even, which is fine in my opinion: as long as I know the odds are against me ahead of time I don't mind, since you adjust your expectations, then try to beat the odds. The scenarios do have some specific unit types & equipment, so if you don't have a large collection, be ready to borrow or proxy, or if you have a good grasp of the mechanics and power levels, adjust the troops on each side to what works for your collection.

This scenario didn't work out for us. We got to a point where we had to face that there was not much either side could do, other than wait for bad luck to take advantage of. A learning experience.  But that's ok- I'm still looking forward to playing the game again, change or add options if it is needed.

Some other local people are talking about starting a Quar league using the Songs rules, which would be awesome: I hope it happens!

What I really needed in this scenario was this:

This gun was hanging out on the table behind us, and I had to get a picture!


Dr. Willett's Workshop said...

Thanks for review, all sounds interesting. Wow, the cannon!!!

Chris said...

That cannon is great, I need something like that for my 'War in South America'. I was curious about the Quar game, seems like it could be a lot of fun.

Paul of the Man Cave said...

Great minis and awesome cannon!

Lobo said...

The layout is amazing... I mean it!

Michael Awdry said...

There is something so wonderfully appealing about these Quar. I never knew about them before visiting here, but now find myself inexplicably drawn to them and as for that canon!

Impcommander said...

cool stuff. I love the cannon. and all the pretty painted Quar

Anonymous said...

It's somewhat hilarious that I spent two months panting my Quar squad for this game, and then they are literally out of LOS to your camera except for a single wide shot. Lol. Really shows how the game played out. For. Your side of the table I appear far more protected than I felt! That HMG had me shaking in my boots the whole time.

I like your offensive suggestion about Overwatch units losing that state if they receive incoming fire. I wonder if that's in the rule book already... if not, I think that's our first house rule. ;-)

Laughing Ferret said...

Thanks all :) I hope there willbe more Quar gaming in the future to report on!

Dan: If your troops hadn't hid behind the crates all game I might have got more shots of them.. and at them ;)

BigGoblin said...

Great battle report. It sounded like there should of been something in the scenario that would make the Crusaders lose if they didn't blow up the two buildings. That would have forced them to come out and attack if they wanted to win.

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