Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Hunt for the MacGuffin

We've played a few games of Firebrand lately. The rules hold up well and the new order system makes moving blocks of soldiers around the battlefield easier and less prone to turn-overs than the original SBH.

I'll post a batrep of the latest game below. Here's a peek at the gaming table:

I'm still putting together a warband that will fit the Firebrand setting, so we decided to use generic fantasy figures instead. Behold my bricky company of dwarves and gobbos.
The dwarves use a heavy infantry profile from Firebrand. Heavy infantry has the armoured trait, which protects the soldiers from archers. If a soldier with armoured is targeted in ranged combat, the opponent will only be able to affect them when rolling an even result for the purpose of the combat test.

The four-armed monster standing between the dwarves and the gobbos is my lieutenant, capable of improving the quality of my troops and issuing orders.
The gobbos hugging the left flank are light infantry. They ignore difficult terrain (ranger trait) and carry javelins (shooter (medium)).
My right flank consists of three berserkers. Berserkers have the berserker and unruly traits. Berserker allows a soldier to attack with every action. Unruly means that a soldier will not respond to orders. I've placed these guys away from my lieutenant, since I intend to have the lieutenant march along with the main force.
My opponent's company consists of a lieutenant, a mage, four archers, four light infantry and two heavy infantry. Magic in Firebrand works differently to SBH. Casting a spell triggers a quality test on three dice. The number of winners rolled determines the strength of the effect. There are a few basic spells available to all types of magic-users (currently fireball, lightning and paralyse), as well as specialized spells available only to certain magic-users. My opponent's mage is a basic spell-caster with access to generic spells only.
A yeti roams in the middle of the abandoned town. We ruled that the yeti performs one action at the beginning of every round without having to activate. Unless there's a figure within one long, it roams in a random direction determined by rolling three dice and following the vector from the lowest to the highest scoring die. If a soldier gets close to the beastie, it'll start pursuing him and initiate combat. Its combat and quality scores are the same as every other soldier's (C2, Q4), but it's got the big trait, giving it a +1 combat score bonus in melee over smaller opponents.

The scenario involves searching the houses for MacGuffins (thanks, TV Tropes!). When a figure enters a building, it can spend the next turn searching one of its floors by first activating and then rolling one die. If the die result is odd, the figure has found a MacGuffin and will be able to leave the house with it during its next activation. If the result is even, the house (or the floor if it's a two-story building) doesn't contain any MacGuffins. Once a figure has the item, it must escape off its table's edge to score a victory point.
My opponent masses her troops on the left flank. She's aiming to search as many houses for before the fighting starts. A couple of soldiers start off on the right flank to search the nearest house on that flank and potentially tie up my own forces for a bit.
I bulk out my left flank, hoping to avoid the yeti and keep my soldiers shielded from enemy archers.
Vanity shots!
My opponent begins by marching down the left flank to search the houses. The lieutenant issues a march order each turn, keeping the combined forces moving along nicely. Unlike SBH, issuing an order to a group of soldiers in Firebrand doesn't require the targeted group to roll for activation. Instead, if an officer successfully activates and spends one action to issue an order, the group being ordered will carry out the order automatically.

There are four types of orders -- march, charge, volley and operate siege. A group of soldiers issued a march order will move one medium in any direction. We've used this order extensively to move blocks of soldiers around.
My dwarves similarly march down the opposite flank and search the houses for some coveted MacGuffins.
I get lucky and the first three houses visited by my opponent's soldiers contain nothing. The barracks pictured above however contain one of the MacGuffins.
The sharp-eyed archer nabs the knickknack and legs it for his table's edge.
My berserker fails to find anything in the first house I get to.
Meanwhile, my opponent has her unit of light infantry charge the yeti. A charge order, issued by her lieutenant, allows the ordered group to move up to one long as long as they end their movement in base-to-base contact with an enemy soldier. The charging group then triggers a combat test with a +1 combat score bonus for charging.
Charging an enemy could be pretty powerful way to take out soldiers one-by-one, but a group of soldiers can only be issued an order if there are no enemies within one short of them. Also, if the defending soldier has any buddies within one short of the ensuing fray, his player is free to automatically move them up into combat to even out the odds. The defenders brace together and receive the charge in a group. Ideally, this works to keep the charge order from being overpowered.
After a long scuffle, the yeti falls to the ground.
I bring up my dwarves to charge the weaker human force.
My gobbos rummage through some houses. By now, I'm dubious about catching up with my opponent, who's already made off with one MacGuffin and has another almost off the table.
The knight runs towards the table's edge to palm another MacGuffin off before coming back to the fight.
Some decent dice rolls, and the dwarves make short work of the humies.
The yeti has managed to get up and keeps the light infantry tied up. The human lieutenant orders the archers to charge it.
The yeti puts up a fight for a couple of turns --
-- and, after ripping up an infantryman, finally goes down for good.
The dainty hand of doom. The berserker, who found a MacGuffin in the smithy, got shot in the back and died. At least my dice rolling was consistently terribad!
My dwarves charge down the alleyway in a last bid to chase down an enemy soldier making off with MacGuffin.
The mage casts a lightning. My opponent rolls three winners for the magic test. This means the lightning strikes up to three nearby figures. My leader is struck and dies from the shock. The picture above pretty much shows what the morale test has done to my company at that point.
A lone dwarf attempts to bump off the human leader, hoping to trigger a poor morale test.
The human leader recoils from combat and legs it after the soldier with the last MacGuffin.
This is pretty much where I lose whatever little hope I've had to score a draw and concede. (:
 My opponent has been using the volley order frequently with some good results. A volley order is issued to soldiers with the shooter trait. The ordered group performs a ranged attack, much like in SBH. The armoured dwarves did alright to soak up a bit of the firepower (armoured trait means a ranged attack against the figure only affects it if the die that the opponent rolls for the combat test is even).
We've had fun with the rules and will hopefully organize a rematch soon. If you're interested in giving Firebrand a go, you can find the .pdf of the rules on the Ganesha Games website:


  1. Love the figures, where are they from?

    The buildings are also fantastic? What brand are they?

    Great post!

    1. Thanks!

      Figures are all Lego with a few third-party pieces.

      Buildings are from Deep-cut Studio (website). Have a look at the link to their eBay store on the right-hand side of that site.

    2. Excellent! Thanks! It looks like I may be getting some new Lego and bits and pieces!