The Bridge at Bergring-er-ding - A Donnybrook battle

Leaving my wife with a pair of screaming children I skipped off into the night to play games with Antipixi and Malc. It's nice to go round your friends house and do a bit gaming. The plan was to try and squeeze some new games in and maybe roll up stats for an RPG character or two.

First things first. Let's moan about work.......
The three of us being teachers this took quite some time......

Right. That's the education system sorted out, lets get on to something serious. 

Chaos Marauders!

It's only the second time I've played this game and once we'd figured out how mean and backstabby we could be we had great fun. The aim is to draw enough cards to build 3 battle lines in order to stomp on your enemies. You need to have a standard bearer on the right of your line and a musician on the left and you have to fill the space inbetween with troops and warmachines. As soon as you complete one of your lines you can attack one of your opponents and try to sweep one of his incomplete battlelines away using the cube of devastation. The game is full of up's and downs, one minute you only need 1 card to win the next you have nothing left and have to start from scratch. If there was more drinking involved this could descend in hilarity. 

Once i'd wiped the floor with the other two we set about rolling characters for Dark Heresy. Antipixi wants to run a campaign sometime in the future using a mix of traditional roleplaying and some miniature action for combat etc. Malc has never roleplayed before and I haven't done any since my early teens so it'll be interesting. Rab from the Geekly Digest will also be likely joining us. Malc ended up with a Feral world assassin and I ended up with a Hive world plumber scumbag. Both ended up with decent stats so we'll see if we go anywhere with this.

By this time it was 10pm and I was itching to get a game of Donnybrook in. I'd carted all my stuff with me so that we could throw down some Dutch revolt fun and thankfully there was enough enthusiasm left for me to organise a battle.

For those of you who don't know, Donnybrook is a set of Skirmish rules that the lovely guys at League of Augsburg put out a couple of years ago. Ostensibly they are aimed at the 1660-1760 period but they are a really adaptable and flexible. There are no stats as such which is a welcome change, and different qualities of troops are differentiated by the dice they roll. Elite troops being d10, drilled troops being d8 and raw troops being d6. The base pass for most actions is 5 or for shooting and fighting 6. So far so easy. The different quality of troops give you a different number of figures for each point you you wish to take. So you and your opponent decide to have a 4 point game this means that you can choose the quality of your troops and thus the number. Pick Elites and you get 4 foot figures or 3 mounted. Pick raw and you get 12 or 9. Simples. Each army gets a Hero to lead them for free and for each point you spend you gain another character that goes along with that group. The character could be a standard bearer, a musician, an officer or a wide variety of other options presented with the various factions with the book. This gives you the option build lots of character into your little forces as you give your characters names and abilities. You can arrange your forces any way you want after this, combining and splitting groups and attaching characters as you see fit. The initiative system is card driven, so that each unit and character has his own card and he gets to perform actions, move, shoot and fight on his or their turn. There is also a reload card in the deck,which allows all the shot armed figures to reload their weapons, as well as a turnover card, which ends the turn. Yep that means that your troops might not get their turn, this would prove devastating for Malc. In addition there is also an Event card which allows you to roll on random events tables in the book making the progress of your troops quite unpredictable. 

As we were late starting I set up the table with a several buildings and clumps of trees and a small river covering the bottom corner (I really need to do myself a proper river). Over the river was a small bridge that the Spanish had taken in order to ensure that the flow of supplies into a nearby town was stopped in preparation for a siege. The small hamlet Bergring-er-ding would see a Dutch force try to wrestle control of the bridge from the Spanish. All the Dutch had to do was to get a figure over the other side of the bridge for them to win.

Malc was given control of the Dutch force which was 5 points worth. It consisted of

2 groups of 8 Drilled pike
2 groups of 8 Drilled Arquebus
1 Group of Elite Halberdiers

Each group had an attached character (a mix of officers and Standard Bearers) and of course a hero leading them.

Antipixi was in charge of the Spanish and was given

2 Groups of 4 Elite Musketeers
3 Groups of 4 Elite Arquebus

Plus again Characters and a hero.

As it was only our first run through (and Malc's first Wargame outside Bloodbowl!) we didn't have witty names prepared for the characters and we also didn't use the event card. Both of these would add a great deal to the fun and intend to do both for the next game.

Malc set up on the board edge and prepared to advance into the Hamlet. The Spanish kept two groups (1 musketeer and 1 Arquebus) on the other side of the bridge and spread the other 3 units through Bergring-er-ding in order to try and block lines of approach.

Almost right away the Dutch were hampered by unlucky initiative order. The pike were able to advance but they weren't supported by the Arquebusiers who skulked around the buildings. Time and again the Turnover card appeared, spoiling the Dutch chance of moving forward.

This meant that the Spanish were able to take pot shots at the advancing pike, whittling down their numbers. As unlucky as the Dutch were, the Spanish always managed to find a reload just when they needed it. This meant that one of the pike groups was destroyed before they ever got to grips with the Spanish.

The other group were luckier and managed to charge the central unit of Musketeers. The hero cane along with them and they managed to make short work of the dastardly Spaniards. It was all to short a victory, however, as the nearby group of Arquebusiers came to the rescue of the Spanish hero.

Then the Dutch Halberdiers chose this moment to charge into the melee. The fight was bloody and viscous with only the Officer form the Halberdiers surviving, but in some style as he dealt with remnants of the group and the Spanish Hero.

Meanwhile the Dutch Arquebus had moved into a position where they could harass the Spaniards guarding the bridge, but they had forgotten to keep their powder dry and they failed to shoot at the swarthy protagonists (two turns in a row they missed their go due to the Turnover card!) The Spaniards took great delight in showing off with their longer ranged muskets and destroyed the Dutch group where they stood.

The other Dutch Arquebusiers were faring better and had been able to fire into the remaining group of Spaniards reducing them to a couple of figures and allowing the now utterly berserk Halberdier officer to charge into them. They swiftly followed and beat the Spanish colours into the ground.

All that remained was to try and take the bridge. The Halberdier officer led the charge into the teeth of the enemy and the stones of the bridge grew slippery with blood but alas, the superior quality of the Spanish troops gain showed itself as they defeated the dutch one by one. As the last of the rebels fell the Spanish breathed a sigh of relief as they proved themselves again to be the best infantry in the world.

I was really impressed by Donnybrook. It's fast and easy and gives a pretty good result in a reasonable time. It's flexible enough to allow the turnover card to be removed and this would have given a very different outcome as the Dutch Arquebus would have been able to keep pace with the pike and deal with some of the Spaniards guarding the Bridge. It really is a scenario based game and as I play it more I'll be able to build more detailed tasks and events into the games. I'm definitely going to be naming the characters and painting a few more to give different options. Next up is some cavalry for both sides and I've got some figures for an English unit to back up the Dutch on the way. As soon as I get them done, I'll arrange another game. 


  1. Looks like a perfectly balanced buddy evening !

    1. It was good fun and pleasantly relaxed.

      Donnybrook was a nice flowing game. I got very lucky on the draw for initiative; poor Malc couldn't react to close with my troops as I shot him to pieces. With a different draw and 'reload' not being drawn so favourably, it would have been a very different game.

  2. Great little batrep, very nicely done. I'm warming to Donnybrook rules and this report has helped there no little amount.

  3. Sounds like a great game. Sure looks good!

  4. What a great evening, with loads of good gaming, very jealous Gobbo here...

  5. Sounds like an interesting ruleset.

    The table looks the business too.

  6. Imagine my thrill seeing Donnybrook show up on one of the sites I follow for Oldhammer stuff! I've used the rules for everything from Warhammer skirmishes to 19th century colonial games. Of course you need to make your own rules for non-humans and monsters in Warhammer, but it is relatively simple in most cases. Elves and Dwarves can simply be considered d8 or d10 troops, Ogres might be d12 and get saves on the Hero chart, Undead cause fear like the 'Ghouls' from the Cultist list. I actually have a fantasy variant, but it seemed like a good idea to hang onto it for a while with the juggernaut that is Frostgrave rampaging around (I like it too)!

    The Turn Over card can be devilish, but I enjoy the chaos it causes. As you pointed out, it is easy enough to leave it out for a more traditional turn sequence.

    I should point out at home I rarely use the point system, relying instead on designing scenarios. I included the points because I felt gamers were more comfortable with some sort of structure. The math works pretty well, but certain combos of special characters imbalance things. I generally don't play that way and figured any system I might design could be abused on purpose so I left it pretty simple.

    Anyway, great report and I'm looking forward to seeing more!

    1. From the first outing it seems that I can easily work in the fantasy elements that I was using in earlier games and I'll give it a shot in the future. I enjoyed them immensely and I'm already trying to avoid buying a load of convenanters or highlanders to do a different period. Need to stay focussed!

    2. Been tempted by these rules over a few years now.
      Your AAR might just force me to switich from Songs of Blades.


Post a Comment