Sunday, 26 March 2017

Burrows and Badgers

I had occasion today to play a game I have liked the look of for more than a little while now: Burrows and Badgers. Burrows and Badgers is an anthropomorphic fantasy skirmish game, written and published by Oathsworn miniatures. The rules are free to download - and well worth doing!

I don't quite know what it is about anthropomorphic animals swaggering about in chain mail hauberks and carrying swords, but it's a visual and thematic device that never fails to draw me in. Perhaps I can attribute this strange attraction to Disney's Robin Hood, Lewis' Reepicheep and too much Wind in the Willows as a lad, I don't know exactly, but I like it.

AEthelric's Guard (my Royalist Warband, using Splintered Light miniatures)

Burrows and Badgers is a light and enjoyable game, players will each command a warband of some 4-10 figures and play through one of a range of scenarios in the book. Each model has a line of stats defined as a dice type (ie: Move = D8, Strike = D6 etc), as well as equipment, skills, spells and so on.  Each turn players will rotate the activation of their models, a model that has been activated may perform and action, then play switches to the opponent, until all the models on the table have acted, at which point the turn ends and a new one begins.

The system is fairly simple, when rolling a test, roll the relevant dice for the attribute required, and add or subtract any modifiers. Most tests will be opposed, in which case the opponent also rolls and the results are compared. There is a lot of little addition and subtraction in the game, as skills and equipment predominantly add or subtract from the dice roll, but it is not overwhelming and doesn't interject on game flow significantly. My son, at 7, was easily able to play the game and work out what his results were after a couple of turns.

Our first scenario: Surprise Attack! My lad's warband: the Beasts, catch some of my AEthelric's Guard on their own...

A round of ranged fire was nearly the end of AElla, my Hare.

I am not 100% sold on the rules yet, but I suppose this is a natural result of having only played the game once. The negative modifier for charging into combat (-1 per inch moved) seems unnatural in a world of wargames that typically provide a charge bonus, but that may be just a mental hurdle. What does play on my mind with that rule is that it seems to promote a more stand-offish style of play, whereas ranged weapons are under no such constraint (although a terrain dense board may change that). Melee orientated models, wanting to close and engage, may hesitate to do so for fear of accruing too much of a negative. Some of the skills, most notably toughness, also feel a little overpowered. But, it is a first game, and those reservations aside, I had a great time, and I am looking forward to playing again soon.

While I have harped on the negatives, I think it's also worth noting that the game is a light and friendly one, where the story of the game is as important as any other aspect. It plays well, and the activation system means the game moves quickly and never really feels bogged down. The small recommended table size and large comparative movements also mean that the state of the game can change quickly, which is a good thing in this style of game.

Burrows and Badgers also includes a comprehensive campaign system, those familiar with games like Necromunda and Mordheim will note the similarities, and it looks like it is done well. I am looking forward to starting a campaign against my lad!

All in all I think Burrows and Badgers is an excellent game, there are some nagging thoughts, but more play will iron them out, overall the good resoundingly outweighs the bad, and I am looking forward to the second edition, which will be published by Osprey.

Oathsworn make a wonderful range of miniatures for Burrows and Badgers, while I have been using my Splintered Light 20mm minis, Oathsworn's figures really are spectacular.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Michał! The minis from Splintered Light are really nice! As are the buildings from 4Ground.

  2. Now, this is a very interesting game.
    I've been eyeing the game since Salute but have a hard time deciding whether to start with it or not.
    Like you I really like stories like Wind in the Willows, but also anthropomorphic animals are a bit a wrak spot.
    The use of Splintered light miniatures is a great alternative.

    1. The rules are free to download - which is a great way to test them out.

      Yeah - I love the Splintered Light models - really nice sculpts.