Certain Scottish nobles have been in, potentially treasonous, correspondence with England's Queen, but their messenger was waylaid by a notorious footpad and the letters stolen. The villain slipped across the border and is hiding in a nearby village until he can get to Carlisle and fence his stolen goods. The Scots are desperate to get their letters back, the thief may be unaware of their value, but they cannot risk the letters falling into more knowing hands.
Unable to risk sending their own men to retrieve the letters, the Scots have engaged the services of a border reiver clan to do the job for them for a handsome reward. Unfortunately the nobles did not consult with one another and so each noble has engaged the services of a different family!
These are three less well-known border "Names", the Webbs, Ransoms and Harrisons. Each warband consists of a Chieftain with a sword, a Veteran with sword and pistol, 2 Reivers with sword and buckler and 3 Broken Men, 2 with matchlocks and 1 with a bill.
The thief is hiding in one of the buildings. It takes a full move to search a single floor of a building, roll 1d6, 1-3 the floor is empty, 4-5 not sure (search again next turn) 6 = thief found! To win the thief had to be escorted off of the players starting area. Because of his struggles, the escorted thief would move only 3" per turn. If the escort has killed, the thief would run in a random direction after all the players had moved.
In order to make a game of it we ignored the first 6 each player rolled when searching, which was just as well as I rolled a 6 on my first search, so it would have been a quick game!
The quiet before the storm
"Get more ale, the vicar's coming!"
Each warband entered from a different corner and rushed men into the nearest houses to search them. The Ransoms and Harrisons exchanged ineffective gunfire and long range, whilst the Webbs swarmed around the church.
The Webbs set up shop around the church (the white marker indicate the pistol is unloaded, having just fired and missed).
Soon frantic sword fights broke out. The 2 Harrison Reivers rushed into a building from one side whilst the Webb Chieftain and a Reiver burst in from the other. After a fierce tussle through the rooms the Webb Reiver had a grievous wound, but both Harrison men were dead.
On the other side of the village the Ransom Veteran found himself ambushed by the Harrison Veteran and billman. At first the ransom Veteran gained the upper hand against his two opponents, until a matchlock man join the fray to "help" him. Luck turned against the ransoms now as the nwecomer was skewered by the billman before he could strike a blow and the Veteran was first wounded, then finished off.
A villager rushes away from a vicious street corner brawl (red markers are wound, yellow indicates a stun).
The Ransom matchlock man rushes from the building to help his comrade, just before he ends up as kebab on the end of a bill
As the casualties mounted the Ransoms found the thief, skulking in a house. Ignoring each other, the Harrisons and Webbs rushed towards the Ransoms, who hustled the prisoner away whist forming up a rearguard to protect their escape. The Webbs reached them first and seemed unstoppable as they cut down all in their path. They finally caught up with the last of the Ransoms at the table edge, a whisker away from the exit point an victory for the Ransoms.
As they battled each other the last of the Harrisons arrived. The Harrison Chieftain crashed into two Reivers locked in combat and took them both on! (His Fast ability meant that he could launch two attacks in a single round). Both fell to his superior swordsmanship. Now the Webb Chieftain rushed up to join the fray, but the Harrisons turned on him and fired, putting a pistol and a matchlock ball into him. Despite his armour this left him grievously wounded.
In a final attempt to snatch victory, the last Ransom man broke off from his combat, dragging the prisoner with him. This was a risky move as it allowed the Webb Reiver he had been fighting to take a free hack at him as he backed off. The Webb dice were good and the last Ransom sank to the ground. This left the prisoner unattended and in the next turn everyone nearby was engaged in combat (and reluctant to turn their back on the enemy having seen what had just happened to the Ransom man!), so we rolled a random directional die and the promptly ran off the table and escaped!
Despite everything no one won! (Although you could argue that the Ransoms lost as they were all dead). Great fun was had by all with another excellent little set of rules from Osprey.
"Got Him!" It all went downhill from this point.
There were three other games that evening, a Zombie hunt game, Warhammer 40K and a WW1 naval bash (unfortunatley I was so involved in killing off the Ransoms that I forgot to take pictures of those!).