I played a multiplayer game of “Battle For Wesnoth” (a free, turn-based high fantasy game) this weekend with some friends. We had two teams- myself as Elvish Rebels, Zacifier as Human Loyalists, and a Dwarvish AI faction on one team, and two Loyalist factions (played by Calruthan and King James) and a Drakes faction on the other.
I was on the eastern side of the map, with the Dwarves to the north and Calruthan’s Loyalists to my south. In the west, poor Zacifier had both King James and the Drakes to his north.
As I spread my troops out to secure villages, the economic foundation of the game, Calruthan rushed out to attack a small patrol of Elvish archers. We both hurried troops to the front, and at first, Calruthan’s humans had a distinct advantage. By nightfall, I had lost four troops to his two. His troops exploited gaps in my line and teamed up to take my men out piecemeal. But by nightfall I had found more reinforcements to plug the line. A few Dwarves arrived as well, saving my leader from being mobbed by the enemy vanguard. Humans suffer a 25% combat disadvantage in the dark, but Elves and Dwarves are unaffected by the time of day. Furthermore, Calruthan was over-extended in his eagerness to attack, and I was able to outflank him and take his men down piecemeal.
The High Water Mark
His best troops lost, his drive on my leader blunted by the Dwarves, and his flank outflanked, Calruthan quickly retired. His rearguard was cut down by combined Elvish and Dwarvish forces, and I started to advance upon his fortress. Realising the game was up, he fled westwards, where the Drakes had slaughtered my ally Zacifier in a short but valiant defence, and left a fortress empty, ready for him to reoccupy.
Calruthan’s retreat was harried constantly by the Dwarves, while I turned north-west to penetrate the enemy’s centre. Here we both made a fatal mistake, as King James’ large army of Human Loyalists were marching on the Dwarvish capital. With practically no army in the north, the Dwarves made a valiant, if patchy defence, and I rushed to their aid. Unfortunately, my advance was hindered by my initial moves to the west before I realised how much trouble the Dwarves were in. The Dwarvish leader was killed in a brave foray (eliminating the Dwarves’ ability to recruit) and I was stuck trying to pin down some veteran dragons, levelled up from their conquest of Zacifier.
I eventually managed to kill off the nigh-invincible dragons by surrounding them with my own veterans, and moved my own leader up into the late Dwarvish leader’s fortress, to recruit more men. At this stage, King James’ overextended vanguard were fencing with the few remaining Dwarvish outposts, and Calruthan was beating a hasty retreat westwards with more Dwarvish remnants on his tail. The dragons were doing very little, their veterans gone (I later learned King James had absconded with all their villages, crippling their economy! With friends like these…).
I raised more recruits, and then started marching west. My army was starting to become quite a formidable force, as Elvish archers and swordsmen levelled up after beating Calruthan’s first army or the Dragon veterans. I was met by a small and dispersed but quality vanguard of King James’ loyalist troops, levelled up after mopping up operations against the Dwarves. I exploited the gaps in his line and surrounded his extremely elite pikeman with archers, and shot him to 1 hit point of his life. While I was frustrated that I could not finish the job in a single turn, everyone else was impressed how I had killed 78 hit points for practically no loss; one of my archers even beat off a desperate pikeman charge. Just goes to show, the grass is always greener on the other side!
I kept pouring troops into the vanguard’s position, and King James kept feeding troops into the meatgrinder. However, some of his troops couldn’t meet up with the main battleline before I cut them off from help and destroyed them. Devoid of reinforcements, the nucleus of his vanguard was outflanked and beaten down.
The road to my enemy’s heartlands was open. King James fled south towards the now-motionless Dragon kingdom and I occupied his old headquarters and recruited more men, with the gold I’d accumulated during my westward march.
Calruthan’s rearguard that had escorted him to Zacifier’s base was now very elite, but dispersed; I either contained or eliminated by them with superior numbers of my own elites. Elves rushed into the humans’ last citadel, surrounded the valiant kings, and shot them down. My own leader killed Calruthan in a sword versus staff (he was a magician) duel, after Calruthan had been badly injured by one of my own mages.
The Death of Calruthan
In the end, I had killed 51 enemies for the loss of 20 of my own. Calruthan had been on the backfoot ever since his failed sunset assault, and only killed 12for the loss of 24. King James had killed 10 for the loss of 30. My valiant Dwarves, who had been destroyed by committing so many troops to my defence, and to chasing Calruthan, killed 18 for the loss of 10.
It was a very enjoyable game, at least for me. Calruthan, definitely the most talented player, had a weak starting position separated from his allies, but he made things worse by rushing to attack me, instead of waiting for the dawn and sending cavalry out further afield to expand his economy.
The Dwarves ruined themselves by sending so many soldiers so far away from their king, but it saved me at the height of Calruthan’s assault, and tempted King James to overextend and exploit the gap. I then in turn exploited his overextension by surrounding his vanguard before he could build up an army large enough to match mine. And at that point, the result was inevitable.