Brewery Bash - A Torch & Shield Battle Report
Updated: Oct 14
With the launch of Torch & Shield fast approaching, it's a fitting time to unveil some of the game mechanics and show off some of the narrative excitement that can come from skirmish combat in the ruins of the Dwarven empire.
What better way to do that than with a Battle Report!
The Grimskald game devs and playtesters have commenced a studio campaign and this was the opening game between my Copperbrow Dwarves and Jacob's Ironthanes.
Throughout this battle report I have scattered some rules references in green just to help prospective players get an idea of how the game plays. If you are only interested in the action, you can skip these rules references.
Right, onto the battle!
Durgan Brickbeard looked at the map.
"It must be ahead, down that stairwell" he huffed with relief.
They had been searching all day for this Hold's brewery without success but a lucky map find in the adjoining level had revealed they were on top of it. Brickbeard knew that if they could secure the brewery, they could generate a steady income selling ale to the other Dwarf crews squatting in the trading post above. The thought of a steady supply of coin made Brickbeard's palms sweat with eager anticipation, but before he could give any instructions to his crew, a shout echoed ahead.
"We're not alone, boss!" It was Jori the shortbeard who had been standing guard at the stairs. "There is torchlight up ahead!".
Durgan hurried forward to the stairs and listened. He always paid to take care before letting the lads charge forward and light the blackpowder but he could feel his beard bristle with the thought that some other clan were going to take his brewery.
Then he heard it.
"Secure the rooms." came an unknown order, followed by the sound of ironshod boots marching on cold stone floor. They were the movements of well drilled soldiers.
"Ironthanes" Brickbeard growled with a volcanic rumble.
Durgan Brickbeard unsheathed his Baduraz steel blade and it gleamed in the torch light. "Right lads, lets go. I'll be dead before I let our thick skulled kin steal our hard earned claim!", With that, he then led the charge into the brew chambers.
The Brewery Bash is the introductory scenario in the Quick Start rules of Torch & Shield but is a scenario that can also be used in your regular games.
The concept is simple. There are four main brewing rooms in the brewery and the crew that is holding the most rooms by the end of the sixth turn will be the winner. If there is a tie, then the crew that suffered the fewest casualties will be the winner.
The table was set up as below:
In Torch & Shield, you can set up your underworld dungeons however you like (provided no side has a distinct advantage over the other), as long as some core requirements are met. In this scenario, the core requirements are:
Two opposite player entrances
Two monster entrances
Four objective rooms and,
We added a few excellent 3D printed terrain objects from here to fill out the area but these are very much optional.
In Torch & Shield, you get 100 gold crowns to create a crew with. Let's see the crews!
As the designer of Torch & Shield, I felt I needed to put in a pretty good showing here, so I set about making a crew with some chest hair!
I knew I wanted to let the Copperbrow technology advantage shine, so I started out with an Engineer equipped with both a bomb and a firebomb. These are somewhat random weapons that can cause carnage to your own crew at times, but in the reliable hands of Drakki I hoped he could cause some chaos in the Ironthane ranks. A crossbow with a flare bolt (just in case the lights go out too early) rounded him out. To support Drakki, I enlisted two Shortbeards, one with two pistols and the other with a firelock. With luck, these three Dwarves will be able to pick off the Ironthanes as the game goes on.
Then it was time to look toward close combat options. I decided to arm Brickbeard to the teeth. Platemail and a shield should keep him safe from all but the deadliest of threats, and a Baduraz steel sword will help him win drawn combats and do extra damage. Supporting Durgan is Kazrik, the Knight of the Crown. Knights of the Crown are great fighters but they cant do much else - which was fine as all I wanted him to do was swing a big axe. Axes have the Brutal Trait, adding to damage caused, and a great-axe also increased the Knight's Strength by 2! A formidable opponent indeed.
Rounding out the crew, I added a couple of Clansmen - the brothers Skaldr and Thorgr. Skaldr took a halberd and a lantern, and I gave Thorgr an axe.
With 1 gold crown left, I purchased a stein of 'Manling Piss', a human ale that Dwarves will only drink in desperate circumstances. Thorgr can use it to (temporarily) dampen the rage of a particularly angry enemy. Should be a nice little surprise for the Ironthanes....
As an avid Roman history enthusiast, when I saw the style and theme of the Ironthanes, I fell in love with the models and their playstyle. Generally, a smaller crew than others, the Ironthanes duke it out with heavy armour and military precision. Not just a ragtag band of misfits, they are a troop and they are off to reclaim their hold!
So, when I went about putting together what I call Bjorn’s Cohort to verse Dan, I looked to history and tried to emulate the Roman legion in micro (with a little dwarven flair). I wanted to make an imposing wall of steel that would give Dan's crew a run for their money, so here it is.
I needed to have a strong frontline of armour and shields. My Greyshield, Bjorn, is armoured in the finest Ironthane equipment and given a good strong broadsword. His job is to be the linchpin of the crew and get in the thick of it with his Weaponthane.
Additionally, two Shortbeards armoured and shielded. One with a pick to crack open armoured opponents and one with a spear for that the flexibility that they provide via a bit of cheeky Reach attacks if I get the chance.
A Reach attack is performed without Engaging and from one square away, allowing attacks without reprisal.
I also included a grizzled Clansman armed with a glaive and a torch. He has a dual purpose; keep the lights burning and cleave his way through anyone that punches through my Shortbeards!
Next, we move on to two Ironthane specialties. First, the Weaponthane (aptly named Tyr the Mad). His job is to jump into the thick of it and blender all who avoid my wall of shields with his two axes and high Martial Skill. Equipped with as much armour as I can layer on the Dwarf and a good Black Skag beer (allows him to take a Barge action without a shield), he will stride into opposing crews and be a force to be reckoned with.
Finally, a Siegethane is added as the backline. He keeps a torch handy for those dark halls and an arbalest loaded and at the ready. Arbalest bolts can go clean through even the most heavily armoured Dwarf, or the most imposing monster. To ensure his aim is true, he is carrying a pint of Blackpowder Brew, which will give him an extra dice on for one turn when firing his ranged weapon!
Dan: In Brewery Bash, both crews can only deploy half (rounding up) of their delvers on Turn 1, with the second lot arriving on Turn 2.
I decided to keep the blackpowder boys (what I am now affectionately calling the Engineer and his two Shortbearded allies) off the table, with the thought that they would be ill suited to the initial rush into contested territory, and start off with my heavy hitters.
Jacob went with a similar strategy, putting his Greyshield, Weaponthane and Siegethane on to start.
As the tension started to build, we flipped the Coin of Fate! I won the toss and began the game as the Fated One. The Fuel counter was set to 1. We checked to see if there were any wandering monsters but there were none. It was time to begin.
The Fated One is a special designation that one player has each turn. The role of The Fated One is to determine who will take the initiative when action cards are tied, and they will also decide any situations where a decision is not clear or has equally viable options. On the downside, the events each turn will often affect The Fated One, so it is a two edged sword. Each turn in the Event Phase, the Coin of Fate is handed to the other player, who becomes The Fated One next turn.
Brickbeard's orders were clear, capture the brewery at all costs. This wasn't the time to be cautious! I had the highest delving card and activated Thorgr the Clansman, performing a Rush action. This allowed him to move eight squares, double the usual four, to run into the corner of the Brewing Room.
In Torch & Shield, players get a card for each warrior on the table each turn and activate their models in card order, Aces, then Kings, then Queens ... and so on. Different suits allow different Special Actions to be used. In the above case Thorgr was activated with a Diamond, allowing him to take a Rush action.
Tyr the Mad was eager to test his skill against the Copperbrow warriors, and also Rushed toward the Brewing Room, immediately engaging Thorgr in combat. Tyr was followed by the Siegethane, who also Rushed to illuminate the Brewing Room with his torch. Brickbeard moved into the Tasting Room making sure to stay in the range of Skaldr's lantern. The Ironthane Leader advanced toward the doorway, intent on blocking any Copperbrow progress into the Liquor Still. While Kazrik the Crown Knight marched forward, readying his great-axe for the coming fight.
In the Fight Phase, things looked bad for Thorgr but despite being outmatched and cornered by the Weaponthane, he managed to deflect the crazed Dwarf's blows.
With no further contests, it was on to the Event Phase. The Fuel counter was set to zero. Next turn the lights would start to splutter.
In the Fight Phase, all models that are Engaged will fight in combat. Unengaged models will not fight, even if adjacent to an enemy. They are busy doing other things. Thorgr was enganed by the Weaponthane, so they fought a contest by rolling D6 equal to their relative Martial Skill. As a Clansman, Thorgr rolled four dice, while the Weaponthane rolled six. Any results of 5 or 6 are a success, and the fighter with the most successes wins and causes hits, which can potentially injure enemies.
Brickbeard heard the click of a trap mechanism, and as a seasoned delver he knew should have been more careful. As he prepared to throw himself out of harms way, behind him the thunderous crash of a portcullis falling down echoed through the halls. He was trapped alone in the Tasting Room - not only would he have to hold the room alone, but he would need to somehow contest the Liquor Still. It was going to be an uphill battle for Brickbeard's Lads now, unless they could open the portcullis!
Turn two started off with placing the second wave of warriors on the entrances for both sides. Then the Copperbrows had a lucky break. I drew a Joker card and immediately used it as my first activation to declare a Duel action with Brickbeard, marching him over to the doorway to the Liquor Still and looking Bjorn square in the eyes. The Ironthane Greyshield was not one to back away from a challenge and accepted. It would have been easier to decline and mob him, but that was the elvish way, maybe the manling way - not the Dwarf way. In response to the challenge, Bjorn Furied, improving his chances of a quick victory.
While two Dwarves are fighting a Duel, no other Dwarf may interfere in any way, and the two warriors will fight until one is victorious.
Tyr the Mad lived up to his namesake, working himself into a Fury and engaging Thorgr again. The Clansman knew he was not skilled enough to beat the Weaponthane, but he could hold him until help arrived, as long as they came soon! Thorgr performed a Defend action to buy the time he needed.
A Fury action adds one D6 to a Dwarf's Martial Skill and Movement speed for the turn, while Defend adds two D6 to Martial Skill, but if the Dwarf wins the contest, they will not inflict any hits on their foe. In addition, while Defending, you can not be driven back.
In the Brewing Room, the situation turned into a brawl. First, the Knight of the Crown ran in and engaged the Weaponthane fighting Thorgr. He was in turn engaged by the Ironthane shortbeard Grimir, splitting the contest into two separate fights. However, Skaldr dropped his lantern by the portcullis (to provide ongoing light to his duelling Greyshield) and took off to provide support to Kazrik fighting the Shortbeard.
The two Copperbrow Shortbeards advanced into position to provide covering fire in future turns if need be and the Ironthane reinforcements stood at the door to the Brewing Room at the ready.
On the Ironthane side, the Siegethane Erik breathed out and let a bolt fly from his carefully aimed arbalest. Thanks to his Support Fire special action, friendly warriors did not block his Line of Fire this turn and the bolt flew true, right into the vitals of Kazrik! The Knight of the Crown fell gurgling, and was removed as a casualty before he ever swung his axe.
In the subsequent Fight Phase, the Duel between the two Greyshields began. The Ironthane leader had the measure of Durgan, beating him back into the tasting room, and striking him twice with his broadsword. The first was parried by Brickbeard's shield, but the second bit into him, and only his Fortune point kept him in the fight with a flesh wound.
Heroes in Torch & Shield like Durgan, Bjorn and Tyr the Mad will have either Valor or Fortune points. Some powerful heroes may have both. Valor points can be expended to turn any dice into a success while Fortune points will turn a severe injury into a Flesh Wound.
In the Brewing Room, Thorgr once again held off the Weaponthane, but the Ironthane Shortbeard was able to hit Skaldr with his spear, driving him back out of the room and inflicting a flesh wound.
In the Event Phase, Baugi's torch spluttered and died, leaving him standing alone in a very dark storeroom. The dying light was too good an invitation to miss. A Dark Dweller emerged from the darkness, ready to try its' luck at dragging an unsuspecting Dwarf to their doom next turn.
The initial clash had not gone in favour of the Copperbrows. Losing Kazrik was a massive blow. To make matters worse, the Ironthanes were all but in control of the Brewing Room and that was my only way through to the Liquor Still and beyond. Brickbeard was now cornered and fighting for his life. To grumble is to be a Dwarf. Nevertheless, it was about time for a counterattack! I still had a few tricks up my sleeve.
The Ironthanes started with the initiative. Having driven his Copperbrow foes back, the Ironthane shortbeard Grimir steeled himself at the doorway setting to defend access to the Brewing Room. Behind him, the Siegethane spent his turn loading another deadly bolt into his arbalest. Taking the Brewing Room was getting more challenging by the minute...
Now the Copperbrow counterattack begun. Engineer Drakki pulled a firebomb from his pouch, then lobbed it over Grimirs' head toward the Siegethane. His aim was off and the bomb rolled into the Liquor Still room, beneath the feet of the shortbeard Tolsveg before exploding. Luck was with the Engineer as the ensuing blast caught the Siegethane anyway. Though the bomb failed to harm the Dwarves, they were both burning and would take damage if they could not pat out the flames.
In the Event Phase, when you check to see if your Torches and Lanterns die out, you must also check burning spaces and models. On a 1-3 they will splutter out and on a 4-6, they will keep burning. Anything still burning after these rolls takes one damage.
Skaldr decided he would not be pushed around by a Shortbeard and took a Fury action to engage the Ironthane.
To help Skaldr out, the shortbeard Baugi came around the storeroom corner and quickly pulled the trigger on his firelock. When the smoke cleared, the shortbeard Grimir was laying prone with a deep shot wound, now in the ‘wounded’ state and at the mercy of his Copperbrow opponent.
When a Dwarf takes damage they reduce their Resilience by 1 for each damage suffered. If their Resilience is ever reduced to 0, all other stats are also reduced by 1. The ‘deep wound’ result caused two damage to Grimir, putting him in the wounded state. This reduced his Martial Skill down to 2. Being knocked down also reduces Martial Skill by 1. That will leave poor Grimir rolling only one D6 in the coming fight phase...
The other Ironthane Shortbeard jumped up, and moved to intercept the monster that was crawling into the nearby storeroom, all while frantically patting his smouldering clothing.
Despite the counterattack, Thorgr was the only Copperbrow preventing the Ironthanes from capturing the Brewing Room. Jacob sought to end this troublesome Clansman once and for all, charging in and engaging with his own Clansman, Murzond. To make sure Thorgr would fall, he also Furied and engaged with his Weaponthane but Thorgr was a hard nut to crack. With the odds stacked against him, he took this opportunity to throw his pint of Manling Piss into Tyr the Mad’s face, removing his Fury bonus. Thorgr then Defended. I wasn’t sure how much longer Thorgr could hold out. Even removing the Weaponthane’s Fury he would still be rolling 7 dice against Thorgr in the contest!
When an outnumbered contest occurs, the outnumbering side chooses a single model as the attacker. The player uses the attacker’s Martial Skill in the contest, +1 for each other supporting model. In the above case, Murzond is supporting, so increases the Weaponthane’s Martial Skill from 6 to 7.
In the Monster Phase, the Dark Dweller engaged the flaming Dwarf Tolsveg. In the other storeroom, Baugi found himself in the dark, and had to make a Danger in the Dark test. Luckily for him, he rolled ‘Quiet, too quiet’. He was safe for now.
After the Delving Phase but before the Fight Phase, the Monster Phase occurs. There were no monsters for the first two turns, and everyone was in the light, so the phase was skipped. All Dwarves in the dark are considered ‘shrouded’ and must make Danger in the Dark checks to make sure that no monster is about to eat them. Being Shrouded also has other issues. Shrouded Dwarves suffer -1 to their Delve and Craft characteristics. Furthermore, Shrouded monsters will gain +1 Martial Skill and win any drawn contests, making them significantly more dangerous.
The sight of a burning Dwarf must have distracted the Dark Dweller because before it knew what was going on, Tolsveg had driven his pick neatly through the creature's mushroom hat and into its' brain.
In the Brewing Room, Thorgr once again defended against the beer soaked Weaponthane but how much longer could he keep this up? Nearby, Skaldr roared his battle cry and assaulted the prone Shortbeard before him, driving his halberd down with irresistible force and removing the Dwarf from the fight.
In the Duel between the two Greyshields, it was Brickbeard's turn to drive the Ironthane back. He won the contest and the Ironthane had to use his Valor point to prevent a second hit. Despite the victory, Durgan could not penetrate Bjorn’s armour, so the duel continued.
In the Event Phase, Murzond’s torch burned out, along with the Shortbeard Tolsveg, who successfully patted his flaming garments out. The Siegethane Erik was not so lucky, his clothes catching and causing him burns equal to 1 damage, although his square and his torch did stop burning. This left only the fire burning in the Liquor Still as light for most of the warriors. There was no event this turn, leaving it to the Dwarves to settle things themselves. The Copperbrow counterpunch had been thrown, now to see how the Ironthanes would respond.
Jacob was getting increasingly frustrated with Thorgr and his refusal to die, and set his Siegethane to the task of putting him down. Again, he used support fire to shoot over the Weaponthane's shoulder but the shot missed!
In response, the Engineer Drakki threw his last bomb into the room, landing the explosive directly between them. The explosion shook the very walls and removed both the Weaponthane and the already injured Siegethane as casualties!
I was not going to miss my chance to sink the knife in. I proceeded to engage Jacob's remaining Clansman, Murzond, with Thorgr, Skaldr, and Baugi the Shortbeard.
The Ironthane Shortbeard Tolsveg rushed to guard the door against the oncoming Copperbrows, with only a burning space as his ally.
All Danger in the Dark rolls were uneventful and we proceeded to the Fight Phase. Murzond fought bravely but the odds were too far in the Copperbrow's favour. He was beaten and broken by Thorgr and was removed as a casualty.
Returning to the duelling Greyshields, it was a close fight with the warriors scoring a draw on the first bout. We added a dice each and rerolled them. This time Bjorn got through Brickbeard's defences, scoring a single hit. Despite Durgan wearing platemail and bearing a shield, Bjorns sword hit the mark.
When Durgan hit Bjorn last turn, he only got to roll one D6 on the damage roll (Durgan's strength of 5 minus Bjorn's armoured Resilience of 4) and failed to injure him.
Bjorn had an easier time against Durgan. Brickbeard had suffered a flesh wound earlier in the duel, and this meant that his armoured Resilience had dropped to 3. To make matters worse, Bjorn was wielding a broadsword, increasing his own strength to 6. This meant he got to roll three D6 on the damage roll.
Jacob rolled the dice ... a triple 6!
It was off with Brickbeard's head. A triple 6 on the Damage Roll causes Instant Death to any Dwarf. The player removes them from the table and from their crew roster if they are playing a campaign.
In the Event Phase, the fire helping Tolsveg guard the doorway burned out. That left only the light of the lantern with Jori, who had been waiting at the portcullis. The rest of the brewery was in darkness.
Suddenly, growls and scratching sounds could be heard as a swarm of grub demons started scuttling into the storeroom behind the Ironthane crew. With enemies on both sides, and only two warrior fit to fight, Jacob turned back voluntarily. The game was over. The Copperbrows had captured the brewery, but at great cost… their leader was dead.
Bjorn took no pleasure in the kill, but if he hadn't killed old Brickbeard it would be his head laying on the stone right now. He didn't have time to brood over the fight right now. There would be time for that later. For now, he had to take his objective.
What Bjorn saw when he turned made him grimace. A lone Shortbeard, Tolsveg, stood at the door holding off the Copperbrows while a trail of wounded Ironthanes limped and carried each other toward the exit. Even Tyr the Mad could barely carry himself on his own legs.
This fight was over. No sooner as he had thought it, he heard the squeal of grub demons from the storeroom. 'Damn this place, the Copperbrows can keep it' he thought, then he gave the order, redundant as it was.
"Fall back brothers, we are beat!"
Musings after defeat
This was a really good match against Dan, the running duel between Bjorn and Brickbeard whilst turning out to be crucially a misstep (I should have just attacked the lone leader with weight of arms) was an epic fight. Breaking up that frontline sloggerknocker in the brewing room.
Overall I was happy with how the crew worked, a few dice rolls my way and I could have pushed through the brewery and pressed the advantage a bit better I think. furthermore I got very hyper focused on trying to brute force my way through, where I should probably have spread out (those bombs sure did a number) and broken up the combat to create some much needed movement later on in the match. Finally, that portcullis slamming shut really swung how the game panned out immediately limiting our options of manoeuvre and flanking (unless we lifted it open with great effort).
This is why I immensely enjoy this game, things can swing wildly with even the best laid plans, to and against your favour which add so much fun and thrilling action. Those casualties will definitely be felt in the next matches of this campaign. We will have to see what the Copperbrows can bring to the field and if Bjorn’s stoic resolve can turn defeat to victory next time on the field of battle.
Rough start to our campaign
Well, that went almost perfectly, except for the part where Brickbeard lost his head!
I think I did everything I could have done, sometimes that's just how the game goes. I had the option at the start of Turn 2 to try and lift the portcullis. It is a tough ask with two Dwarves. If I could have got a third, it would have been possible, but still not a sure thing. I didn't want to give the Ironthanes the time to shieldwall up across the doorways. I knew I had to get them into a bit of a brawl so my ranged attacks could whittle them down. So I made the decision to go it alone with Brickbeard. If Jacob had declined my challenge, the game would have been an almost impossible win for me, so even though he died, Brickbeard held up Jacob's leader for the whole game.
Moving forward in the campaign is going to be tough though. The Greyshield was over a quarter of my crew value, and without him, I am weakened. I don't have enough gold to replace him either. Worse still, Kazrik was Seriously Wounded, meaning I wont know until before next game if he will have recovered. In the meantime, Thorgr will take on temporary leadership of the crew. He put up an excellent effort today, and I am sure he will have sworn an oath to avenge Durgan.
The Brewery itself will grant my crew an additional 1gc after each game as long as I can hang onto it, but before any game, an opponent can choose to attack the brewery to take it for themselves. In my weakened state, I don't think I will have it for long unless I get some reinforcements...
"Hey Shortbeard, pick yourself a blade. You're in."
Torch & Shield will be launching on Kickstarter on October 10th!
To be notified when we launch, go to www.grimskald.com
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