Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Punish Them!

A Witchfinder  General scenario.

From the outset I need to clarify something, I have a real problem with wargames rules - they just leave me cold.  I strongly suspect that it has something to do with the numbers therein, -1 modifiers for this, +1 for that and I'm gone, switched off and drifting away.  Now for someone who has aspirations of commanding his newly painted miniatures across the table top this is proving to be something of a real problem.  What I really want to do is pick up a cavalry unit, make a clippity-cloppity noise and place it somewhere else, but alas it seems that things are rarely this straightforward.

For a couple of years now, I have been tinkering away, painting miniatures, amassing terrain and generally researching all things folklore with the intention that I would, one day, be playing ‘Witchfinder General- days of Revelation' the problem is that every time I went to read the rules I would find myself slowly glazing over and gone – back I went to painting miniatures.  

It was a chance comment made by that splendid chap the ‘Dark Templar’ regarding hosting a game of Wichfinder General in the summer here at ‘Awdry Towers’ that galvanised me into taking the bull by the horns and getting stuck in.  So waiting until the saintly Mrs. Awdry was out of the house, not due back for hours as involved in a golf tournament, I quietly set up the table for the first encounter - I could do this!  I had everything I needed, miniatures, terrain, tokens the lot and when all was in place it was time to begin - but how? 

Seeing the miniatures on the table made it easier for me to visualise what I was reading and slowly the game started to fall into place.  The first scenario or encounter was entitled ‘Punish Them’ and was played out as follows.

The villagers of Skinnersgrove have become unruly, Prince Schubert of the Tyne decides to punish them and acquire sustenance for himself and his vile abominations.  Seven ordinary clubmen, four trained with muskets and a Witchfinder that was spreading the good word in the village at the time of the attack defend their homes against the vile abominations, six Noctelinger and six Barguests.  The battle is set in gloomy conditions, which reduces line of sight for the Clubmen to a maximum of 24” depending on the out of two D10+4* but after the second turn the sun would rise on a roll of d6 5+.

*There are those modifiers again, steady Michael, steady!

The clubmen were split into four groups and each group started in one of the houses with the Noctelinger within seven inches of the table’s edge and Barguests within three inches.  Ideally would have been 4’x4’ set up, but as I was commandeering the dining room table I only had a 3’x4’ and as a result the barguests were on the villagers in double quick time!  What ensued was carnage, but I have to say it was rather good fun.  This is probably the only of the scenarios that lends itself to solo play with both sets of combatants actively seeking out the other and engaging them in fisticuffs.  Tactics were minimal, but it did give me the opportunity to start to get o grips with the rules – this constituted a major breakthrough in my mind.  

Mistakes were made including not realising that there was a special rule regarding capturing the villagers and trying to remove them from the table.  The initial wanton slaughter of the Clubmen, was clearly going to anger the Master!  I know that I fudged the loose formation movement rule and will need to look at that along with entering and leaving buildings, but on the whole I was very pleased with how it went.  I like the partial IGO-UGO system that allows for some reaction to the opponent’s strategy depending on how the Fisticuffs was resolved and I was starting to feel more confident about referring to lists during the movement and shooting phases so a successful first venture.

The plan now will be to run through the scenario a couple more times so that I feel more confident with the rules.  I need to build a little more terrain to slow down the Barguests a tad and allow the Clubmen more of a chance in getting themselves organised and then we should be good to go!

71 comments:

  1. Ohhhh this looks interesting!!

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    1. We'll have to get you down for a run through.

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    2. A new game system is always fun and the first game will always be full of mistakes – our first game of Malifaux was over 4 hours!
      You've definitely got the right attitude, practice makes perfect (ish), so play more games!

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  2. Cool. I have a similar problem with rules. Very hard to get into the brain of the writer. I prefer to write my own. To get around the +1 problem by using different dice. Raw troops d4, normal d6 etc. Then just a straight dice roll with highest score wins.

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    1. That sounds like sound advice and once I get my head around the dynamics a bit more, I could certainly see myself adopting something similar.

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  3. Excellent Michael, excellent!

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    1. Thank you Fran, it was great to get some dice rolling across the table.

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  4. An excellent battle report m'Lord. Sometimes with rules you just have to knuckle down and read them, but trying them out in a game does help to make things clearer :)

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    1. Thank you Tamsin and you are, of course, absolutely right, I just needed to get on and do it, but I am so easily distracted.

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  5. Hola Amigo
    MAGNIFICO,escenario,buenas pachangas de juego os echáis
    un saludo

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  6. Great looking game! I think part of the dreariness of wargame rules also comes from somewhat poor editing and lack of examples that is quite common place. Running through a sample situation in addition to listing all the modifiers etc. would be much better, but I guess page limits usually tend to cause these to be dropped.

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    1. Thank you and a very good point, once you have mastered the mechanics all becomes second nature, but it is getting started that often puts me off.

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  7. Great looking minis and table. :)

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  8. Superb battle report...lovely looking table and figs. As for rules...I have the same problem. These days rules really need to be concise, straightforward and intuitive as well as clearly written otherwise they end up gathering dust on the shelf.

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    1. Thank you so much Gordon, I am glad to hear that it is not just me!

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  9. The game looked like a lot of fun. I'm sure the rules will become clearer as you play them through a few more times.

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    1. Thank you Nate and I am sure they will become more second nature, after all I have invested too much time in the project to give up on it just yet!

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  10. Nice looking game. Have you considered playing Lion Rampant? Like you, rules often seemed to me to be written like a guide to complex mathematics - in Dutch. I was simply collecting figures and terrain until I got involved with the rules. There are only a few of the dreaded modifiers. If I can pick the rules up then ANYONE can!

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    1. Thank you Matt, I've heard good things about Lion Rampant and will have to have a closer look, possibly even Dragon Rampant too?

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    2. Once you learn the basics of the game, which takes about ten minutes (literally) then the principles apply for all the variants LR, DR and the upcoming colonial and ECW versions. One of the simplest, easy to play and most of all fun games I've played since I was a kid.

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    3. Sounds like they will be heading my way then, thank you Matt.

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  11. Looks fantastic Michael! As others have said, it will get easier the more you play.

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    1. Thank you Rodger, here's hoping. ;)

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  12. I get your frustration regarding rules. I myself learn them best by being "thought" by someone who gets them already and by playing. So yeah this is the best way to tackle the issue. Cheers for the batrep, highly enjoyable.

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    1. That works for me too, having someone guide me through the first couple of times is priceless.

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  13. What a beautiful report Michael! Don't know about the rules, but your story is wonderful, great picutres, splendid minis and fantastic write-up!

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    1. Thank you so much Phil, it was lovely to see it all coming together finally.

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  14. Very nice, Michael. As someone who downloaded the free Batman Miniature Games rules, read through them twice whilst scratching my head, then decided that were too complex, I can understand exactly what you mean - and I still understand how to calculate THAC0! Think your Witchfinder needs to bolster his forces for the next game, though.

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    1. Thank you Jez, although I have to confess that I had to look up THAC0! A couple more Witchfinders would certainly made a game of it, but it would have helped if I had discovered sooner that they carry two pistols and not just the one shot I was allowing them!

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  15. A great batrep and it certainly looks interesting and above all fun to play. Like you I have a problem with some rules and the saving throw mechanism, you know the one " killed you" - "oh no you did not my magical saving dice means you missed" grrr..

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    1. Thank you Andrew and a lot of fun in the end, as for magical saving dice, let's not go there! ;)

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  16. Wonderful game and presentation, Michael. A set of rules I had intended to pick up when they came out - alas, never did, but I can still enjoy it through your post.

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    1. Thank you Dean and I hope that you may see a few more of them before too long.

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  17. Terrific-sounding game Michael, even if the fiends night dwellers did take the high ground by the end. It certainly sounds like you had fun, and its an absolute delight to see your splendidly painted minis in action on the tabletop :-)

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    1. Thank you Simon, one of the twists of Witchfinder is that you are supposed to swap sides on completion so you play both and tally the points. I didn't do this as I was on my own, but sounds fun.

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  18. Lovely looking game sir, I like the idea of walking through games while reading the rules as it can bring the game to life and motivate you more, something that is happening with me for Bushido. Your minis as always look beautiful and I love the little puffs of smoke for the muskets!

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    1. Thank you and I couldn't agree more. Just seeing the miniatures on the table meant that if I didn't quite get something I could replay it until it made more sense. The little puffs o smoke were just teddy bear stuffing and helped to remind me who had shot and needed to reload.

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  19. Great looking game....I do remember reading an article ages ago of gaming with no rules or rulers just dice. With no charts you just decide what feels right in the situation, obviously this wouldn't suit all but I think it would be nice to try.

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    1. Now I do like that idea and would involve a certain amount of gentlemanly conduct in order for it to work.

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  20. Nice report. IMHO make, take, and break any rule system that doesn't help you play a game like YOU WANT to play. break. The mo fun the mo better.

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  21. Interesting report and some beautiful minis here i especially like the look of your villagers.
    Would be interesting to read more about your experience with these rules.

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    1. Hopefully this will give me the encourage to try other scenarios.

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  22. When we 'free play' we use a probability dice ranging from almost certain to probable then maybe and down to certainly not. You 'make your case' for performing an action and the players agree the minimum level of result necessary to complete the action.
    The best part is inventing a reason why you can do something.
    Only one rule and a single D6 used. Simple !

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    1. That sounds refreshingly simple Nigel, great idea.

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  23. Great looking table/minis, Michael.

    As you observed, utter carnage.

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    1. It is only going to get worse apparently what with werewolves, witches and vampires to come!

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  24. Excellent setup and game - great to see your lovely collect of goodies being used Michael!

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  25. Wow -- a most excellent AAR indeed, horrifically gruesome though it may be! In fact, I think your cinematic "CUT TO:" from the "SPIRITS WERE STARTING TO RUN HIGH" pic, to the "...BUT FEAR LURKED IN THE SHADOWS" pic, may be the most impactful juxstaposition of 2 images I've ever seen on a miniature wargaming blog. Well done, "Auteur" Awdry!

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    1. Thank you so much, that comment has really made my day!

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  26. I've run games like this before, though not with the Witchfinder General rules. How do you find them? Are they a fairly traditional "move, shoot, melee" skirmish game, or is much made of the horror aspect? Just curious...

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    1. "move, shoot, melee" as you would expect but there are some lovely additions, like 'pounce' and 'slash' attacks for the beasts. The other curiosity is the idea that you play both sides so a total score of both games gives you a result.

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  27. Excellent Mr. Awdry! I definitely know what your talking about, beeing more painter than gamer myself. If it wasn't for me dear fellow Chris I'd probably never field a single miniature in anger, content with just painting along with the intention of playing at some point in the (distant) future.

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    1. That sounds far too like me Nick, glad I'm not the only one.

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  28. Lovely report and pictures Michael, I have to agree, I prefer my rules to be as simple as possible. My kids find it hysterical that I can write a set of rules myself and then still struggle to remember and understand them!

    Cheers Roger.

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    1. Thank you Roger, I seem to have developed a number blindness when it comes to rules - all very confusing.

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  29. Fantastic Michael it all looks fabulous :D

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  30. Great report. The pictures really promote the story along with the fabulous figures and terrain. It looks like fun game and rules.

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  31. The text with the pictures is an excellent addition to follow the game report! Thanks for sharing!

    Greetings
    Peter

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  32. Gret looking report. What a climat!

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  33. Even your batrep photos look like cool art. :)

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