As some of you may know I have indulged in the odd bit of Dadhammer over the years - a term I think coined by Rab of the excellent Geekly Digest fame or possibly Erny from the eponymously titled Erny's Place. Both Oldhammerers whose names are writ large in the pantheon of Oldhammer heroes for their part in the epic Siege of Avalone!
Anyhow, I decided it was about time for the boy to get some serious tabletop gaming under his belt having just celebrated his 6th Birthday. Any allegations that I was using this happy occasion as an excuse to purchase and play Battlemasters, a game that by pure coincidence I have coveted since it came out in 1992, are completely erroneous and have no substance what so ever.
I couldn't find the TV advert in English so this will have to do - you get the idea on how my young mind was bludgeoned into wanting this game though! And, hey - isn't that the same Goblin that pops up in the Heroquest advert?
I must admit that I hoped my nostalgia for the game and my desire to find something suitably shiny to really get my son excited by wargaming wasn't blinding me to what these chaps so humorously say about the game...
Well there was only one way to find out and that was to unfold the immense play mat, find a flat area big enough to accommodate it and get rolling some Heroquest style attack dice!
|Yes it really is that big - image courtesy of BoardGameGeek.com|
Luckily we were able to just fit the vinyl play mat onto the big table. I decided we might as well play the first game in the campaign included in the rule book - Battle of the Borderlands.
Harry took on the role of the noble defenders of the Empire - swayed by the inclusion of the Mighty Cannon!
Meanwhile I mustered an evil horde under the command of Gorefist the Destroyer - with a name like that his folks were probably quite happy for him to enter the profession he did.
The outline from the scenario states that,
Gorefist the Destroyer has surged across the border with his Chaos army, destroying everything in his path. An Imperial army is being assembled by the Grand Duke Ferdinand, one of the Empire's most decorated commanders. Gorefist must be prevented from reaching and capturing one of the border watch towers which will give him a firm foothold in the Reikland. The task of stopping him has fallen to you.
Turn one started well for the Imperial army with a well aimed shot from the Mighty Cannon! An entire unit of Beastmen perished in a blinding flash.
The two armies begin maneuvering towards each other.
The Mighty Cannon roars once more but this time something is wrong - a massive explosion engulfs the machine, destroying it entirely. Unfortunately Harry drew an explosion card from the deck as his first card which meant the end for the cannon - a loss he took remarkably well so early on!
The first charge of the game came from the Knights, as the Knights Panther, Reikland knights and knights of the White Wolf crash into the Goblin lines.
|Each unit can take three skulls or hits - the Gobbo's didn't fare so well against the knights!|
On the left the Goblin Wolf Riders charge forward towards the defenders of the tower.
The Halberdiers are wounded by the Wolf Riders but the Archers manage to fend their foes off...
... and wipe them out!
The knights swing round and give the Orcs a bloody nose.
But out of the ranks comes the Ogre, making straight for the Grand Duke and his Lord knights - after a frantic few rounds of combat the brute stands victorious.
The knights continue their deadly work on the right, mowing down the Orcs before them!
The Wolf Riders continue their struggle but begin looking a little isolated.
However, slowly they gain the upper hand.
Once more the ground shakes as the Ogre stomps forward. Having enjoyed pulping the Lord Knights, he repeats the process with the Knights of the White Wolf.
Meanwhile the Reikland Knights desperately try to vanquish the Orcs to come to their rescue.
Filled with their traditional hate for Chaos, the Knights Panther bloody the Beastmen.
The Orcs aren't going down without a fight and the Reikland Knights find themselves hard pressed...
and the combat degrades into a battle of attrition.
Taking aim, a rather brave unit of archers succeeds in wounding the Ogre!
And the Reikland Knights finally crush the Orcs under their Warhorses' hooves.
Seeing their chance to add to the slaughter a unit of Chaos Knights charges into the Knights Panther and wipes them out.
Heartened by their earlier success, the Archers pour volley after volley into the Ogre until the brute goes down like a felled tree!
On the far left the last Wolf Rider unit is destroyed by a second unit of archers.
But Gorefist the Destroyer has his eye on the tower and charges in to fill the breach.
The melee in the centre drags on as the Beastmen virtually destroy the Halberdiers.
And the Reikland Knights finally meet their match with the Chaos Warriors.
The Chaos Thug archers finally enter the fray and get some lucky hits on the Archers defending the ditch.
Gorefist makes short work of the valiant archers and revenges himself for the loss of the Ogre.
Their brothers in arm let fly a well aimed volley and succeed in wounding Gorefist.
It is a futile gesture as Gorefist's warriors overwhelm them.
The last Imperial units are mopped up by the elite of the Chaos army.
And Gorefist marches on the tower itself.
The defending Crossbowmen are no match for the Destroyer!
and the way over the border lies open for the forces of Chaos!
So how did the game go?
As you can see there was plenty of action and luckily we didn't seem to have lots of turns at the beginning just pushing our armies towards each other. The use of a card deck to determine which units move and fight each turn was definitely child friendly and didn't seem to random in this game at any rate. As units got wiped out we found we had to cycle through the deck to find an appropriate card for those left on the table towards the end.
The combat system seemed to work pretty well with the Heroquest style dice, although I think the Ogre seems a little overpowered. If I was playing it right that is! You have a deck of 6 cards - 3 to move the Ogre and 3 attack cards. These cards are turned over to determine in what order the Ogre performs its six actions. I suppose if you're after a target that is far away you risk wasting the attack cards in an effort to get there. If you're close up to your target it seems that you get three rounds of combat to fight and with 4 combat dice the result is pretty much guaranteed!
The Mighty Cannon was fun - you lay a trail of cards to your target and the illustration on the card tells you what happens to the cannon ball - flying through the air, bouncing or exploding. Units under an explosion are wiped out as is the Cannon if it draws the explosion card first!
The boy coped very well with his losses (especially the Mighty Cannon!) and his eventual defeat. His first question at the end was when we were going to play it again!
Mission accomplished I'd say.