The Darkness beneath Cluntyn Abbey

A Burrows and Badgers battle report from the campaign day at Sidekick games, Birmingham, run by Andy and Pam Bridgwater on the 27th October 2018.

It’s no secret or surprise to anyone when I say that I absolutely love Burrows and Badgers as a game and the chance to meet up with 19 like-minded gamers and roll some dice in a campaign day was too good to pass up. And I am so glad that I did….

I attended a competitive tournament earlier in the year run by Carl at the Pheonix gaming club and although I loved the day, something was missing. That something was the campaign element so to come to an event that had no competitive structure but was a straight campaign day backed up by a good narrative story was seriously fueling my keen!

So, on too business…

I must have made about 15 warbands before settling on an idea based on a little narrative that had built up in my head.

‘Betsy’s Bakery’ was born 

Betsy’s Bakery – background

‘Times were hard for small shop owners under the raven lord’s rule. Taxes and corrupt officials were all but robbing Betsy’s of her daily takings and barely leaving her with enough to pay her seven staff. The bakery had belonged to her mother and her mother before that and they in turn had all worked hard, as is in the nature for mice, to keep the bakery going. A popular little place, there were no shortage of customers but the truth is that Royalist greed was choking her and her people.

So came the day when she started to reach out to the free folk beyond the town and came the chance to ally with a fox brigand of note; Vulpinne Valentine. After some time, the mice managed to get enough weapons to kit themselves out and they started to plan their first endeavour against the raven lord. But that never came to pass as Vulpinne and her war band called for allies to launch an attack against the raven lord and against an unknown darkness gathering near the abbey.

The 8 mice, with limited provisions scavenged hung the ‘closed’ sign on the door and left to join the free folk. Only time could tell what would transpire from there onwards…’

Vulpinnes Invitation
Vulpinnes Invitation

The warband!

I had a pretty simple plan coming in to this that I was figuring would be genius or get me smashed! It was simply to do what mice do best, hide and ambush and where possible use the fact that I would outnumber most warbands to swarm in and cause mayhem. I had taken 3 archers and a mouse with a sling, so ranged damage was going to be a major factor in the warband. Also, taking a same species warband gave me two additional skills or stat upgrades. I went for skills and gave my third archer targeteer and my 2-handed weapon wielding mouse the skill zweihander!

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Betsy’s Bakery

Warband Rating: 45
Den: Ruined Farm
Upgrade: Magical garden

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The starting stats (350 pennies)

Game 1

So with that all done, it was straight in to it for my first game vs. Tim.

Tim was playing a 5 beast war band and we were playing the ‘all-out battle’ scenario. I was weary of his heavily armoured hare and hound and knew that if they got in amongst my little mice I was having a bad day! Also, 2 archers gave him good options and a well-balanced warband is always a threat.

Tim2
The Wyre Forest Loyalists

He started the turn by racing his mouse knight and hare up the table using cover well. I started hiding as much as possible and when his mouse archer fired from a 1st storey building at Mary Merryweather…. It was on…

My decision to go for targeteer really paid off here as I shot his mouse archer off the table between Mary and Betsy by the end of turn 1. In turn 2, Tim kept advancing but found it hard to manoeuvre through all the ambush traps I had laid with 4 mice hiding and ready to shoot or charge from the shadows. I managed a search roll to bring his mouse knight out of hiding and from there the archers went to work. I turn 4, I managed to get a bead on his hound and once that went down it was rout check time.

Tim was a superb opponent and he had a good idea to get up in my face but positioned his hound badly turn one and by the time it got back in to the fight, I had superiority. Targeteer and bodkin arrows won the game for me as ignoring armour and not taking penalties for cover or partial line of sight is brilliant. No mice were taken out of action either and I achieved my secondary objective of isolate so with all 8 of my mice on 3 experience, it was time to do some post-match rolling!

After Pam witnessed some absolutely bonkers results from my 4 wandering rolls which included earning over 60 pennies at gambling dens! On the rare item table, my luck kept on going and I got the chance to buy a +3 suit of very heavy protection armour for the measely some of 23 pennies!

I was looking pretty good going in to game two as the gambling den winning and my 4 mice labouring hard had built me an archery range with the material I won and my post-match rolls were also insane. Pam’s eyes boggled as I think that karma played a part here for all the bad times I’ve rolled in my life because these 8 mice were starting to look pretty threatening…

Warband Rating: 74
Den: Ruined Farm
Upgrade: Magical garden, archery range

betsy bakery 2

Game 2

Cathy was playing a pretty well balanced war band as well but in this round her leader was injured and had been replaced by wildcat slave! WILDCAT!!!!! Fearsome creature and with some pretty good stats along with a fox duel wielding pistols. I’m not going to lie, they were concerns… I was looking at her bird warrior, adder mage and the rest and was thinking that I was going have to be really clever as I didn’t really have much of a numbers advantage going in to this one. The take and hold scenario favoured me slightly as it was all about controlling the 8 specified terrain pieces and I had 1 extra mouse over her.

Cathy
The Greenhearts

In turn one, Cathy’s dice went beserk and everything I threw at her was laughed away by perfect roll after perfect roll. I was starting to lose control as she had already captured 3 objectives and I was scrambling about and worse still only two mice were hidden!

Cathy took initiative for turn 2 and in a surprise move sprinted her wildcat across the table to disrupt my mice. She triggered 2 ambushes but the real win for me here was that I now had 3 mice around her!

This left me Eekzykiel to activate with his 2 handed sword and after passing his fearsome check, it was my turn for a perfect roll and with the -4 to block, Eekzykiel took the wildcat in one swing. A few activations later and Cathy’s fox went down and she declared that she would rout at the end of the turn seeing as her leader and second were out of action. I was surprised as I hadn’t been playing for that but it came as welcome relief because I was feeling under pressure.

No level ups from this match up and I didn’t achieve my ‘devastate’ secondary objective. No mice went out of action either so I set 4 to work and 4 to wander. Betsy gained divine wrath for her next game and that +2 on her already bonkers archery package was going to be extremely dangerous. I apparently like gambling dens and again racked up a decent amount of pennies before deciding my luck couldn’t hold out much longer! With the labour and materials that I gained from winning and wandering, I built a fletcher and pell’s training ground and now I was really excited that I didn’t have to worry about arrows or ingredients anymore!

On another note! Cathy’s war band were fantastically painted and probably one of my favourites of the day. As she said, the mini’s do almost paint themselves.

Warband Rating: 74
Den: Ruined Farm
Upgrade: Magical garden, archery range, Pell’s training ground, Fletcher

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Game 3

Nick was my next opponent and I know that he can play. He had a mole with a 2-hander and it’s the third game in a campaign… that mole was likely to be a nightmare! Also, with the scenario being ‘recover the paychest,’ that mole could pop up next to any of the center terrain pieces and start searching immediately. I was going to have to try to get to the center as soon as possible if I was going to have any chance.

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Maisey Stoneheart engages the enemy leader!

The game started with the mole popping up next to the largest centre terrain piece and as the first activation of turn 2, he had the chest! My mice were taking sprint actions to try to get to it but he threw his leader and squirrel in the way to block me. Eventually, I managed to get some good shots on his mole and managed to take it out. His mouse archer grabbed the treasure and started off towards the board edge. There was no way I could take it out in time to get the chest back so realising that his mole was his second, I went nuts at his large hiound leader and with the last activation of my turn and his leader with only 1hp remining, I burned my last fate point to avoid shooting a friend and let a luck buffed Betsy do what she does best…

I have never been happier to see a perfect roll knowing that even with a perfect roll, Nick couldn’t defend the damage. Nick routed at turn end 2 inches from his table edge with the pay chest. It was a cheap victory as I don’t really like winning through the leader and second rule but in that scenario, he had out manoeuvred me and there was no way for me to stop that damn mouse so it was my only way to win.

Again, all my mice survived the game and I didn’t score ‘devastate’ for my secondary objective. My post-battle rolls were pretty good again and now the war band was really cooking on gas. I rolled a 6 when determining what was in the chest and then on the rare items roll got a magic item come up. I ended up with master crafted very heavy armour, a +2 block buckler +1 strike 2-handed sword!

By this point, I knew I was up against either Andy or Rich in the battle royal finale and I knew that both had really good war bands and that we were going to be playing witch hunt… I also was pretty darn sure that Andy and Pam were not going leave that magic user as per the book so this one so I thought about my penny spend, went nuts leaving myself 2 pennies and this was what I was going to rock in the final.

Warband Rating: 74
Den: Ruined Farm
Upgrade: Magical garden, archery range, Pell’s training ground, Fletcher

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Game 4 – The final battle!

The final game was against Rich. He’s a great player and he had rolled ‘scout’ in his wanderings in his last post-game. This gave him 2 armoured hares and a caster within 9” of the mage I knew that I was going to struggle to get to the objective before him.
The battle royale was a nice twist on the witch hunt with the evil wizard having greatly boosted stats and on top of that, a secondary objective of get the tome of magic he drops off your table edge. Having had a lot of problems with the paychest scenario due to my slow mice, I was looking at his hares and thinking… ruh roh! But I hoped I could sprint in there while my archers took care of the mage and leg it back under cover of crazy mouse arrows. In another twist! Andy also had the rest of the players pair up an a capture the objective style scenario where at the end of each round the person with the most characters on the objective was able to add or take away fate points from the top table! I needed my freebeast allies to step up in a big way!

top table
Rich and I get ready to throw down in the battle royale!

As Andy announced the final, massive amounts of excitement erupted when he produced the unreleased badger mage from the upcoming Kickstarter as the main bad guy! Huge thank you to Michael and Jo for doing that as it ramped the tension right up for Rich and I.

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Badger necromancer! Game over man… game over!

Let me tell you right now that this guy is huge and looks better in the flesh (metal?) than any photo can do him justice in; it’s a remarkable model!

The game started and straight away I nudged forward and my three archers opened up a can of whup ass on the badger and by the 2nd activation of turn 2, he was a pin cushion. In a scenario where the mice can just settle down and use fast shot these mice are bonkers good.

In the mad scramble for the book, his hare grabbed it and I just couldn’t keep up with it. Rich played it perfectly by leaping the ruined wall and then I was trying to run mice around the ruins while the rest of his war band tied up my combat mice in the ruins. I managed a few good shots on the hare but because I was having to move and shoot a lot I just couldn’t get the extra I needed to stop him. He left the board with the tome and the Royalists took the campaign win. But we took out the dark mage and that means the citizens of Cluntyn need not fear him again! (I’m calling it a draw!)

So, as per the witch hunt scenario I thought I would advance my war band. With everyone on the table when the mage was killed, everyone went up a level and after all the rolling was done (and rescuing 2 slaves…) Betsy’s Bakery now has a whopping 10 members! I was really happy to roll a small creature because that meant a 4th mouse archer but wasn’t really sure what to do when I rolled a large one. I decided otters kind of looked like big mice and went for that! It also gives me an excuse to buy that otter mercenary 😉

what I’ve learned is that 8 mice are devastating as a skirmish force using hit and run tactics but suffer in any game where something needs to be collected and carried away. this is not a issue however as I understood from the get go that taking an all species war band was going to leave me weak in some areas.

Here’s where Betsy’s Bakery ended up!

Warband Rating: 123
Den: Ruined Farm
Upgrade: Magical garden, archery range, Pell’s training ground, Fletcher

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The last bit!

Burrows and badgers is a game that reminds me that while competitive gaming has its place there is real joy in a fantastic narrative based game where everyone is on the same page. Between the superb miniatures, fantastic community and the insanely good campaign system I am hard pressed to find a game as engaging and as good.

I’m already planning on how Betsy can steal that tome back from the Raven lord (and destroy it) and I’ve even had ideas of a follow up event to this! I think this speaks volumes of how much a miniature based skirmish game, when created with love and attention, can make player versus player gaming an absolute pleasure.

Finally, I’d like to thank Andy and Pam for the day and also a huge thank you to all 4 of my opponents; you are legends all.

I’d also like to thank Michael and Jo for taking such care over this game and as an indirect result, all of us.

See you all soon!

Andy

 

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