Once I had my terrain boards and houses completed I started to really itch for an opportunity to get them on the table for a game. I've also been getting pressure from my local gaming friends to host another game...and I've been wanting to give the Donnybrook rule set a try on my own.
I've played a couple of low key games with My Boy Airborne Grove in the past but hadn't tried to host one myself...and that required gaining a more complete understanding of the rules and adapting them as much as possible to the Warhammer world and "feel."
If you are not familiar with Donnybrook...well you should be! This is a fantastic set of historical rules written by Clarence Harrison and Barry Hilton. The rules are focused on skirmish sized battles in the late 17th and early 18th centuries...though Clarence does include some basic pointers for how to add some fantasy elements to the game as well. The game has a number of really interesting features...the two most prominent of which are the Card based activation system...and the use of different dice to represent different quality troops.
With the Card based Activation you break the monotony of IGoUGo play...which is standard in warhammer games. This adds a real tension to the game as it is unclear when your (or if) a particular unit will get to move again. There is a card for each unit and character in both forces...these are shuffled between each turn so come out in a random fashion. There is also a Turn End card in the deck which can cut any turn short unexpectedly.
The dice mechanism is equally interesting. Most actions...shooting...combat...leadership etc. all have a target number for success (typically 5 or 6)...but as the quality of your troops increases so does the number of sides on the dice they use for that test. Raw recruits use a D6...and therefore have a hard time achieving their goals....while elite troops use a D10 and have a much higher chance of success...heroes use a D12 etc....its very clever and works great in practice.
The challenge comes in adapting this system to Warhammer forces without losing the "warhammery" feel of the game. I feel I had mixed success with this aspect of the game...but see plenty of area for improvement.
For my game with my local crew I pulled together a mixed bag of "Good guys" consisting of some of my Bretonnian collection and some of my dwarfs.
For the "Bad Guys" I used some of my Orcs, Chaos Dwarfs and a friends Skaven troops (sadly I did not get a good studio shot of them).
We played a general encounter battle...with no particular mission other than driving the enemy from the field.
The game played out very smoothly without needing to reference the rules overly much. There was a period of adjustment as we were all new to the rules and all our previous gaming had been with Rogue Trader or WFB 3rd edition. Plus, other than my stalwart companion Bob (who supplied the Skaven), the other three players are only casual wargammers...the type that rely on me to supply figures, terrain, and rules...but bring a lot of enthusiasm, laughter...and beer to the the game.
Anyway...here are a few more pictures...
In the end I think that most people like the card activation system...though there was a bit of grumbling...particularly when units failed to move at all for a couple of turns. In particular the right flank of the Good Guys force was immobile for a couple of turns in a row.
One other area that I feel needs addressing is the fact that with Donnybrook being a historical set of rules the heroes are powerful...but not in the way they are in Warhammer. Namely they have just one attack...like normal humans would. This left many of the players feeling unsatisfied with the heroes and large models (ogres) and in the future I will adopt multiple attacks for heroes and elite troop...perhaps 2 attacks for D10 units/characters and 3 attacks for D12 characters and monsters. This should allow them to have a more impressive influence on the battle without becoming over powered.
Overall this was a great game...and while we identified some rules that needed refinement we had a lot of fun playing...and of course that is the main goal of any game. I highly recommend the Donnybrook rules to any interested skirmish player and feel they provide a very adaptable framework for modification to fit alternative environments like Warhammer fantasy. Stay tuned I'm sure that further adventures in DonnyHammer will be forth coming soon.