A visit to Gripping Beast…

Initial Deployment
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A small, unremarkable doorway…

Sunday 30th October saw the rather unusual event of the entire Meeples podcast crew joining together for a day of gaming, followed by an interview.

swordpoint_rulebook_53372The occasion?

We had been invited down to Gripping Beast in Evesham to have a demo game of their forthcoming Ancients rules, Swordpoint, and to record an interview.

We arrived and were invited through a small doorway into the magical place that is Beast Towers, and led upstairs to where we were treated to coffee and cake before battle commenced (very civilised!)

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We would be fighting would be an encounter battle between Teutonic Knights and a force of Russ, somewhere on the undulating frozen steppes. Given the option of forces, I of course chose the knights (is there any doubt of that choice?)

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The dastardly leaders of the Russ…

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My chivalrous fellow general, trying to Google what he had done to deserve being on my side…

We were using a table and a couple of armies that have been seen touring UK show scene over the past few months (along with gracing the pages of certain magazines).

Both the table and the armies upon them looked fantastic, and certainly added to the enjoyment of the battle – although, having been used to playing with my plastic Norman Knights, the sheer weight of the Teutonic Knight unit was a bit of a shock (not to mention giving me something to be nervous about, less I managed to drop them during deployment!)

Mike W and I decided upon our battle plan, which was to essentially hold our left flank whilst we delivered a mighty armoured punch around the right with our two units of knights, plus some accompanying Turcopoles. Despite advice from Andy, I deployed our best units on the flank of the army – it was my hope that they would sweep gloriously around the flank of the Russ and carry all before them.

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As it turned out, this tactic met with limited success, as our Brother Knights ended up getting distracted by the threat of being outflanked some nomadic cavalry (a role much more suited to the Turcopoles) and thus didn’t play much part in the game.

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The game feels familiar and yet different to Ancients rules I have played before. Here are a few notable differences:

  • The turn sequence is different (Shooting – Charge – Movement -Combat)
  • Movement is remarkably simple – measure from centre of until, and pivot at the end of the turn (restrictions apply)
  • Armies can gain bonus markers during the game for things such as successfully shooting, or charging the enemy. These can be used to gain advantages during initiative and combat.
  • Combat tends to be attritional – it is rare that a unit will break on first contact, especially if supported by friendly units, but rather units will degrade before breaking.
  • It is possible for mounted units to charge foot units. disengage and then charge again without being forced to maintain the combat.

We played for a couple of hours, with Andy and Martin explaining the rules as we went along. We had a fun time, though the game was marred by some of the worst dice rolling you would ever care to witness on a wargames table – from all four players!

Having played the game, we retired to the office to record an interview, which included a fairly in-depth explanation of how the game works. Look out for this being published towards the end of the week.

Many thanks to Andy and MArtin for a most enjoyable day!

Swordpoint is due for release at the Warfare show in November 2016. More details of the game can be found on the Swordpoint area of the Gripping Beast website.

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