Last Saturday I got the opportunity to GM a fantasy tabletop war game battle with Ellen Morin and Chris Smedile using my War Must Be set of rules. One of my goals was to play test the rules, especially the crew-served weapons and the adjusted morale rules. The other was to let Ellen and Chris play using my shortcut cards and determine if game play moved along well.
Chris had the evil attackers, consisting of several units of Orcs led by a Gnoll, two Insect Men skirmisher units, a Troll large ballista, the skeletal Nightmare Legion, and two wizards controlling large creatures respectively (a giant scorpion and a giant tarantula). The overall HQ was the Nightmare Legion’s command group. Their objective was a bridge at the rear of their enemy’s lines.
Defending against them was a collection of Dwarves, Neanderthals, and Ents. The Dwarves had excellent positioning of two primitive cannons (one large and one small bombard) on top of two escarpments – both with excellent fields of fire. These veteran crews were led by the infamous “Dwarf with No Name”, armed with two black powder pistols. These were reinforced with three Scandinavian Dwarf Skirmishers (Danes, Finns, and Swedes). The Swedes guarded the base of the escarpment with the large bombard, while the Danish and Finnish Dwarves defended chevaux de fries in front of the flank of the small bombard’s escarpment. A large mass of neolithically-armed Neanderthals held a gap between a swamp and a forest on the left flank. While they held, two Ents (Redbeard and Tanbeard) recruited small trees to augment the defenders. These two plus Waldo the Wizard were under the command of the overall force commander, Treebeard.
This set up forced Chris to move his forces up right under the guns of the Dwarves. The first salvo from the large bombard missed the forward unit of Insect Men skirmishers. However, it struck the follow on unit and killed 3/4 of them. The remaining figure, once activated, failed its morale check, and went buzzing off into cover.
Ellen continued to hold her position while her Ents recruited trees for the fight. Chris, realizing that he needed to bring pain onto at least one of the bombards, moved his Orc Death Head Longbow up, and made a miraculous set of rolls – killing one of the crew of the small bombard, and degrading its effectiveness at reloading and firing. He took his best melee Orcish troops with maces and put them into column as they moved into point-blank range of the large bombard. It looked like bowling for Orcs was about to happen. Ellen got the card activating the large bombard – aimed, and gave the order to fire…
She rolled a misfire…
She rolled for the consequences of the misfire…
The large bombard BLEW UP, killing one crew member, severely wounding the crew chief, and putting the gun out of action for the remainder of the game.
The other undamaged Insect Men fought the Swedish Dwarves, driving them back. This allowed them to swing around the hill and hit the Dwarf with No Name. The DWNN raised his pistols to fire…
One jammed, and the other blew up, wounding him severely.
Meanwhile, the Neanderthals were being attacked by Kaadastral, Bringer of Plagues (a demon), and a Giant Scorpion controlled by the evil Wizard Greencape. A large Tarantula controlled by the evil Wizard Rooney was closing in as well, but it took a fireball from the good Wizard Waldo, wounding it but not killing it.
The Neanderthals gave a good fight, damaging the attackers, but not killing them. After losing about a third of their number, with the Nightmare Legion closing in, they said “we’re outta here” and ran for shelter in the Ents woods (as peasants are wont to do).
At this point, the game was halted as my parents arrived and we had dinner. This was the day of the East Brookfield fireworks – so that took over and we celebrated Independence Day East Brookfield-style (a week later for cheaper but still fantastic fireworks show).
Both Ellen and Chris thought that the rules upgrades worked well, as did the shortcut cards. Of course, Ellen did get the bad rolls, but Chris took some maneuver chances that worked out for him. I’m not sure how it would have turned out. While the bad guys could have shot at the Dwarves with longbow and ballista with some degree of impunity, the Ents had recruited several trees and the fight was by no means certain.
What was certain, is that it was fun!