Orcs vs. Humans - Campaign Battle Action Report

This battle was to decide an encounter between a smaller force of humans fleeing an orc pursuing force. I can't give specifics on the when and where because the players do read the blog and they won't hear about this battle yet!

News travels at the speed of a horse in my campaign, and this battle takes place probably a season or two worth of travel. My tabletop campaign is just hitting the Fall season, so I suspect they'll hear about it during Winter. We'll see. Once they do hear about it, this whole section will get replaced by the actual campaign scenario.

The battle was conducting using the rulebook One Hour Wargame - Scenario 20 - "Fighting Retreat" and supplemented with rules from my Campaign Wargame Rules (CWR). I felt this scenario reflected the tactical situation and number of forces involved.

The board set-up, per the scenario, using Pedion terrain tiles. The "river" is the black cloth (usually roads) and the river crossings are marked.

The belligerents:
Orcs (right): 4 Infantry, 1 Warband, 1 Skirmisher (Red - 6 units)
Humans(left): 3 Infantry, 1 Warband  (Blue - 4 units)

These were determined randomly using the 1HW tables. The number of units are how the scenario lays it out.

Turn 1 - Humans deploy using rules from the CWR. It was all random and all on one side. Go figure! Their disposition is "aggressive", so the plan is to have one unit guard this crossing, have the warband dash for the hill to hold it and the other infantry move to in front of the hill and bottle up any attackers. Hold the hill through Turn 15 and the day is won!

Turn 2 - Orcs deploy using CWR. Their disposition is "cautious." I didn't take a picture of the initial deployment on the edge, but the following picture shows the situation after their move. The skirmishers to the far left corner will shoot at the moving humans while the warband and an infantry pursue. The orcs to the right will attempt to sweep in from the right and get to the hill.

The humans had to not be "south of the river" after Turn 2 or they were eliminated. Since that last force was on the river crossing, I ruled he was good. That unit will become one of the important factors of the battle.

Turn 3 - The humans redice their disposition, which is now "defensive." They continue their dash to the hill while the brave infantry unit holds the crossing, waiting for the attack of the ravening Orc warband! Meanwhile, the Orc skirmishers continue to take pot-shots at them.

Meanwhile, the Orc infantry to the right sloooooooowly make their way across the river. 6 inches at a time.

Turn 4 - MRRRAWARRRR! The orcs attack! However, the infantry's shields *and* their position on the river crossing give them two tactical advantages for hand to hand combat. Each factor cuts the casualties in half. Meaning that the most that warband can score is 2 casualties. But how long can they hold out from the combined attacks of the shooters and attacks from the infantry? [1]

Turn 5 - The human infantry moves around the lake to position themselves to stop the orc infantry. Since only skirmishers can enter woods (to the right), if the humans can get into position with a line, this might tie up the orcs long enough for them to hold the hill till Turn 15. This fits the defensive disposition.

Meanwhile, the orc infantry waits to see the outcome of battle between the warband and infantry.

Turn 6 - CRASSSSHHHH! The Human infantry charges the Orc infantry to stop their advance while the other infantry unit moves to stop the Orcs from reaching the hill.

Turn 7 - The Human infantry holding the river crossing let out a roar as the Orc warband dissolves from casualties. Orcs lie dead bleeding in the river, while a few scurry away.

Unfortunately, the Orc infantry waiting smashes into the wearied humans and it is now they who dissolve, dying or fleeing for their lives from the Orc onslaught. The river crossing is open... but did the brave Human infantry do their job and buy enough time?

Meanwhile, the line is set! Orcs and humans battle in a broad line, hacking at each other. If the line can hold long enough, the humans may be victorious! If they fall, that lone warband holding the hill will probably not survive long.

Turns 8 through 12 - Slowly the Orc infantry to the left marches towards the hill held by the lone Human warband unit. The skirmishers follow close behind, ready to rain death from the skies.


And closer...

Meanwhile, the orc and human lines steadily whittle each other down, but it is the Humans who are victorious first! One Orc infantry unit is destroyed.

Turn 13 - The orc infantry finally reaches the hill but finds it is difficult fighting uphill. The tactical advantage held by the Human warband comes to play! They get a +2 on their casualty roll and they enjoy half casualties by holding the top of the hill!

Meanwhile, the Human infantry who was victorious does an about face and smashes into the side of the attacking orcs, flanking them and causing double damage!

However, just as it seems that momentum is swinging to the side of the humans, the Orcs finally defeat the last of the line of humans, setting themselves up for a charge to the flanking humans.

Turn 14 - The orcs smash into the flanking humans. If they can manage to destroy that unit, they would be able to flank the warband. That same warband is steadily being whittled down by both the infantry's continued attacks and the skirmishers shot. Everything balances on the edge of a knife...

and the orcs cannot defeat the humans! The infantry unit holds on for dear life! (with 1 point left!)

Turn 15 - The warband is victorious! They smash the remnants of the attacking orc infantry down the hill and the orcs flee or die at the end of human spears. The brave human infantry that had supported the warband cannot hold and the relentless attacks on their flank causes them to dissolve

But in the distance, horns are heard as the human efforts have been seen and fresh troops are arriving! The orcs, realizing that they cannot win the day, turn and move off the field of battle. Only 1 human unit, the warband, remains and they with only 3 points left to spare!

I was pretty surprised by how this went down to the wire. Usually, the 1HW battles are pretty much decided by turns 7 or 8, but this went back and forth in the last 3 turns. I think if that infantry unit hadn't blocked the river crossing as long as they did, and the line protecting the hill from the right hadn't held as well, the Orcs would have won the day. That last unit was never able to get into the action, blocked by units in front and impenetrable woods to the right.

The dice told a great story and I had a lot of fun playing this out.

[1] One thing I ran into...  Shooters shooting into a melee or when line of sight is blocked by another unit. Here's where the RAW for One Hour Wargames can give me pause. The rules state nothing about either situation. As far as I can tell, it's allowed - but that just ... seems so wrong!

So, I diced to choose which of 3 options: 1-2: yes - allow both, 3-4: no - allow neither, or 5-6: subtract another 2 from the casualty roll for either/both situations. The dice said "2" - so that is a "yes." And off we went. I get it, 1HW is meant to be extremely simple wargaming, but this might be the first area where I change a bit. I would rather opt for the -2 if blocked by another unit or in melee.


  1. "Here's where the RAW for One Hour Wargames can give me pause. The rules state nothing about either situation"

    This is an issue with a lot of Neil Thomas's stuff in my experience. There's a lot of stuff in his head that's not on paper :)

  2. The more I play it, though, the more I appreciate it. It allows me to tune a game to my needs and how I see it happening.


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