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Northymbra at War – a (short!) Burrows & Badgers Tournament Project

Northymbra at War – a (short!) Burrows & Badgers Tournament Project

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Project Blog by oathsworn Cult of Games Member

Recommendations: 20

About the Project

Choosing a warband for the 'Northymbra at War' Burrows & Badgers tournament run by the Phoenix Gaming Club in Rushden, Northants. And how my games went...

This Project is Completed

So, I won a tournament... for a game I'd written. But it still counts, right? Right!?!

Tutoring 6
Skill 7
Idea 7

One thing I often here from players (and more often from people who’ve read the rules, but not actually played) is that Badgers, Beavers and other Massive beasts are overpowered, and all-but unkillable. Wildcats too, are often cited as OP. Along with Heavy Armour, Heavy Shields and pretty much any character with a high Tough Skill.

So when I chose my warband for the Phoenix Games Club’s ‘Northymbra at war’ tournament, I decided to test that out… we had 450 pennies to spend, and needed a minimum of 6 models. I wanted a ‘Rangers of the North’ style warband (only with squirrels and stuff, not Dúnedain! 🙂 ) So I picked out several models that I thought suited that look, and started writing a bit of background:

Hardpaw Troop

Hardpaw Troop are one of the nine Troops of the North Riding Chapter of the Kindred. The Kindred are the militant arm of the Children of the Green Mother, and defend the woods and forests of Northymbra against all foes, and hate those who promote industrialisation and the use of advanced technology. Officers of the Kindred are recognised by their leaf-patterned cloaks.

Led by Sterren ‘Dead-eye’ Grumm, a stoat, and a hare named Gaylefor Quickhop, Hardpaw Troop specialise in volleys of bow fire, and avoid getting drawn into melee combat wherever possible. They eschew armour, preferring to travel light, moving through the forests and valleys of Northymbra at a rapid pace, ready to strike wherever the Children of the Green Mother order them.

Sterren has a particular hatred for the smoke and noise of black-powder weaponry; anybeast carrying such a weapon had better be on their guard. You never know when Hardpaw Troop’s arrows might come flying from the shadows…

With the background done, I started recruiting my new band.

Allegiance: Royalist. They’re not really supporters of the Crown, but the Royalist Allegiance works well for any band with knightly training, so seemed best. It was that or Rogues, really. The Concealment bonus would have been good if I’d planned a lot of Hiding / Ambushing, but I find that an annoying tactic when it’s used a lot in one-off games, so didn’t want to inflict it on my opponents!

I’d initially planned to use the Otter ranger model as my leader, as that way I could have a Ranged stat of d10… but he doesn’t have a cloak, and my warband background meant all officers need a leaf-patterned cloak. So I used the ‘Eddie Stoatbart’ model, with a different paintjob. Not as good at shooting, but at least it kept to my warband theme!

So, I won a tournament... for a game I'd written. But it still counts, right? Right!?!

Leader: Sterren ‘Dead-eye’ Grumm, Stoat. I used the Royalist Allegiance bonus to up his Strike to D10, and the Leader bonus to increase his Ranged to d8. I gave him two daggers, a healing potion and a crossbow. He also got the ‘Fast Shot’ Skill.
Total cost: 77 pennies.

Second: Gaylefor Quickhop, Hare. Gaylefor received the second Royalist Allegiance bonus to increase her Strike to a mighty d12… and with a Block of d8, that made her my only serious close-in fighter. To complement that, I gave her a two handed sword, which with her natural Strong (1), made her attacks Strong (4). I gave her a healing potion, and the Zweihander Skill, to increase her chances of hitting.

Total cost: 71 pennies.

Slippery’ Jack Garrick, Otter. Two daggers, a healing potion, and a bow. 87 pennies.

Celwyn the Fey, Otter. Celwyn is the Troop’s mage. She took two Spells from the Natural Magic list – Haste and Cure. I considered giving her a Mage’s Focus, but instead went for a Mage’s Pouch, and took 3 x Lugwort, and 3 x Thyme Leaves to store in it. Those ingredients allow me to automatically cast my spells, when I get to those critical moments in a game. With two Spells, she ended up Weak (1) and Delicate (2), so would be a soft target for the enemy.

Total cost: 80 pennies.

My last three warband members were really just making up the numbers; they’re the kind of characters who would develop in a campaign game, but in these sort of one-off games they need luck to achieve anything. With just ranged weapons, they would struggle hand to hand, as they had to fight Unarmed…

Marrek Branchclimber, Squirrel. Bow.

Total cost: 49 pennies.

Red’ Sara, Rabbit. Bow. One Bodkin arrow. (I had a single penny left!)

Total cost: 47 pennies.

Filbor Filborsson, Mouse. Bow.

Total cost: 39 pennies.

So that was Hardpaw Troop recruited… no Badgers, Beavers, or Wildcats, and not a single point of Tough anywhere!

The warband, with one of those fancy carrying tray / display base thingies...The warband, with one of those fancy carrying tray / display base thingies...

In my first game, I was on Table 2 against Byron Chatzis. The scenario was pretty straightforward – secretly pick a member of the enemy warband you have a grudge against, and take them out. Double their pennies cost in Victory points if you take them out in close combat, or one and a half times for taking them out with shooting or magic.

Byron had secretly picked ‘Red’ Sara, my rabbit, as his target. His plan was to use his mole’s Tunneller rule to pop up in base contact, and take her out fast. But I’d been expecting that, so I’d secretly picked his mole as my target, and deployed my beasts close together, ready to support each other… The mole popped up, swinging a mighty hammer, but Sara survived the initial attack, thanks to judicious use of Fate points, and the rest of Hardpaw Troop surrounded her assailant.

The rest of Byron’s band were charging at speed across the table now, led by a mighty badger – and by the time I’d finished off the mole (in close combat, for double points!) the badger was only about six inches away. So everyone started shooting! Celwyn used a Thyme Leaf to automatically cast Haste on Sterren, and he used his Fast Shot Skill to loose four crossbow shots! I spent a Fate point on each shot… and the badger went crashing to the ground.

After that, it was really just a case of mopping up, picking off the remaining members of the enemy band one by one, aided in no small part by some very bad dice-luck on Byron’s part. I ended the game with a Major Win.

So, I won a tournament... for a game I'd written. But it still counts, right? Right!?!

Game two, and I was on Table 1 with Ian Adams. The scenario this time was simply to get as many models as possible off the opposite table edge, with a bonus for getting your most expensive model off, and for getting everyone off. Plus, you got points for taking out the enemy.

Ian headed straight down the edge of the table, while I split mine band between the middle, with it’s nice wide road, and the far edge. And things went well for the first couple of turns, just moving forward, keeping a wary eye on the opposition. But then Ian started loosing a volley of arrows at my leader, and Sterren went down hard! My best move at this point was to keep going, and get the points for escaping. But there was no way the Hardpaw Troop would leave their fallen leader unavenged! So Gaylefor the hare, ‘Slippery’ Jack and Celwyn changed direction and went after Ian’s leader… after a few rounds of furious combat, ‘Slippery’ Jack joined Sterren on the ‘dead’ pile. But so did three of Ian’s warband, and honour was satisfied. Then we all legged it off the table!

Once we’d counted up the Victory points, we ended the game with a Draw.

So, I won a tournament... for a game I'd written. But it still counts, right? Right!?!

For game three, I was back on Table 2, this time opposite Mike Hitchings, with his fast-moving band of beasts.

Both players were given two crystals to place in their opponent’s table half; the aim of the scenario was for both players to collect their crystals, and bring them back off their own table edge. With bonus points for nicking their enemy’s crystals!

As it happened, we didn’t get any crystals off the table at all.

My opening moves were pretty tentative; I moved up slightly, but wanted to be ready to shoot Mike’s badger as it approached. That was the plan, anyway. But Mike was much faster… his mole used Tunneller to pop up in base contact with my mage Celwyn! He followed this up with his rascally fox wizard casting The Gate onto his badger, and he too, appeared in base contact with Celwyn… my mage was in real trouble! But I was also facing a threat from his owl and sparrowhawk, both of whom had already flown into my half of the table.

I burned a lot of Fate points on Celwyn’s Block rolls, and again to flee her safely from the combat, whilst my hare Second charged in to tackle the enemy pair, hopefully buying time to get Celwyn clear. Thus began a very protracted combat; Gaylefor the hare slowly chipped away at both opponents, taking damage in the process, not helped by regularly being scared by the badger’s Fearsome skill. But my nearby mage was able to keep her in the game with regular Cure spells, and eventually, Gaylefor prevailed, bringing down the badger at last!

At this point, ‘Slippery’ Jack had been charged by Mike’s owl, but survived the initial strike. My leader Sterren and Marrek the squirrel both charged in to help, and the barn owl went down in a flurry of blood-stained feathers…

For the several turns, Mike suffered appalling luck on his spell casting dice; his squirrel mage tried to throw several Lightning bolts, to no avail, and his fox mage’s efforts with his The Gate spell failed repeatedly, leaving him stuck at the back of the board, unable to affect the game any further.

My mouse made a run for one of our crystals, and started running back with it. Mike’s shrew keep Sprinting into base contact, forcing me to disengage each turn, and risk the free strike… thankfully, the damage was minimal, and the board edge was looking close!

Unfortunately, right then, we ran out of time, and the game ended. Once we totaled the Victory points, the game was another Draw.

So, I won a tournament... for a game I'd written. But it still counts, right? Right!?!

For the final game, I stayed on Table 2, and played against Carl King. This was effectively two games, with the players taking it in turns to defend a central objective against the attacking foe.

For the first game, I was attacking. Carl deployed four of his band around the objective, but had three moles, ready to pop up anywhere on the board. They worried me, so I set up all my models in a ring around Celwyn, my mage, to try and keep her alive.

Sure enough, two of Carl’s moles popped up in base contact with ‘Red’ Sara and Marrek, my squirrel, and started laying down some hurt. His other mole came up nearby, ready to use magic, and his crossbow. Carl’s beaver also started moving in to attack.

I decided to spend a turn or two suffering the mole’s attacks, and focussed my other beasts on shooting at the charging beaver and rabbit. Which a few Fate points spent, this paid off, as the rabbit died to arrow fire, and the beaver was sorely wounded before he reached us.

The game progressed with more combat and shooting, with both sides suffering losses. We were running very low on time at this point though, and the objective was close enough to run to… the smart move would’ve been to spend my last two activations killing the wounded beaver. But we decided it would be more fun for ‘Slippery’ Jack and Filbor to make a run for the objective instead. Of course, this meant suffering free hits from all three enemies in base contact… Despite using my last two Fate points, their glorious run was not to be, and Carl’s evil rotters gleefully hacked them both down as they ran past!

We totalled up the points, and reset everything for the rematch, this time with me defending.

I set up in a semicircle around the objective. There was no way to protect my mage this time, and I was banking on getting the initiative, so she could at least cast a spell before getting mole-whacked… alas, it was not to be, and up popped one of Carl’s moles, in base contact. I couldn’t even move back and cast, because then I be touching the objective, and one of the scenario rules was that the objective nullifies all magic.

So Gaylefor ran in to help, and was promptly engaged by another tunnelling mole.

Meanwhile, Carl’s rabbit and beaver were charging in. Sterren and ‘Slippery’ Jack stood still and loosed multiple shots, with Sterren’s ‘Fast Shot’ skill really paying off, as both enemies fell before they reached us. Poor Celwyn had been moled to death by now, sadly, but the Gaylefor led ‘Red’ Sara, Filbor and Marrek in laying into the moles in revenge! They cut one down, but the other stubbornly held on… although we were fast running out of time.

This left Carl in a difficult position, with only his mole near the objective, and his other three remaining characters isolated, still some way from the objective, and me with lots of long ranged weapons pointing at them. Predictably, they all fell to sustained shooting, although Carl’s mighty mole managed to survive a last turn flee from combat to gain a safe spot on the objective! I used my remaining moves to bring everyone else back to the objective too, and scored a lot of points as a result.

With everything totted up, I’d done enough in the last game to secure a Major Win.

All of the games were loads of fun, with a lot of fantastic / horrifying moments, and all my opponents were wonderful to play against, clearly there determined to enjoy the experience, and play in the spirit of the game. I had a great time! I’ve also decided moles are annoying…

So, two draws, and two Major Wins for Hardpaw Troop! I reckon the Children of the Green Mother will be pleased with that… I know I am!

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