Battleshed Diaries

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Fun with livestock

On Monday I was involved with a bit of sheep rustling. Or maybe it was cows. Sometimes I get confused. And there were some unearthly noses coming from the pig pen. In amongst all the shouts of panicked alarm and gangs of villainous riders appearing out of the early morning mist.

Of course, this all took place amongst the busy confines of the Falkirk club's usual Monday evening session. This was a multi-player practice for the Border Reivers Public Participation game being put on by the club for the Scottish Battlefield Trust's inaugural Wargames show at Prestonpans next Saturday.

Border Reivers were raiders along the Anglo-Scottish border from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century. Their ranks consisted of both Scottish and English families, and they raided the entire Border country without regard to their victims' nationality. [Source:Wikipedia]

John Ewing from the club has put on another cracking game, this time using the Blood & Faith Genre Pack for the In Her Majesty's Name ruleset.

The scenario is set at a small rural village somewhere in the Scottish-English border country. Possibly Teviotdale. Players take on a faction of either the village defenders or one of the Reiver families. I took on the roll of one of the 'Hendersons', with my six livestock-worriers starting the game mounted and armed with variety of villager-persuaders, such as swords, lances, pistols, crossbows and blunderbuss.

The object to the scenario is for the Reiver factions to raid the village for its livestock, herding their four-legged booty back to their deployment area before the alarm is raised in the village. The Reivers have to dismount to successfully cajole the animals via a Pluck Roll. Failed Pluck rolls can mean the animals take exception to these stranger-humans attempt to woo them. The Reivers may even find themselves at the eye-watering end of horn or hoof!

One of my fellow Reiver players sent a man into the pig pens - who never came out. You can imagine the hilarity and jokes around the table as the erstwhile Pig rustler attempted to whisper porcine sweet nothings! 

By the end of the game only one of the Reiver factions managed to purloin some sheep. With much suggestive banter! And 'flush' with his success, he decided to try their luck with some cattle instead - herding them down the village's main street. At least, until the Militia turned up and persuaded the chancers to flee via some very pointy sticks!

Points were awarded for the amount of livestock the Reiver factions capture or defending village militia they put out of action. Similarly, defenders are awarded points for thwarting the raiders plans. Small bands of Village Militia can turn up at random points each turn, once the alarm is raised.

Only my head-man survived from my faction, galloping off home after the rest of this men got embroiled with two militia groups whilst, allegedly, coming to the aid of one of their fellow Reivers families.

The truth was my raiders were rather hoping that was what it seemed; whilst all were distracted some would slip into the nearest cow field. And they would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling militia!

Given the great fun and banter this game generated, moving quickly even with six players participating, it all bodes well for an imaginative and suitably thematic game for the forthcoming wargames show at Prestonpans. 

I'm looking forward to this show. It's near to the site of the Battle of Prestonpans, during the second Jacobite Rising on September 21, 1745. It'll also be my first wargames show of the year too. I'll let you know how it goes!

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