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!