Monday, April 20, 2015

Beaver Wars playtest, Turn 4

My prediction for tribes on the warpath during Turn 4 followed as surely as the rumble of thunder chases the arcs of lightning across the sky. Five tribes danced around their campfires and -- with a yell -- struck tomahawk home into the war post. Warriors of the Ohio tribes sweated and fasted, then applied black and red warpaint to their faces as they ventured forth into the woodlands of the Ohio Valley.

For the first time since the campaign began, we would have more battles to fight out than we could game in one evening. The turn began peaceably enough. The Potawatomi, chose not to strike back against the Ojibwe who had seized one of the main towns last turn. Instead, they chose to Trap & Hunt, hoping their rivals thirst for new lands was abated.

Next, the Wyandot stirred from their reverie and struck out against the Illinois, who had been creeping ever eastwards for years. They invaded, hoping to seize their town on the Wabash River.

The Seneca continued their march westwards across the Ohio Valley and invaded the remaining Illinois town on the White River. They chose to ignore the Miami, who they had went to war with last turn, hoping their blow against them had cowed their rival.

The Ojibwe were the next to stir from their winter reverie and they proved they were thirsty still. The Potawatomi once again felt the northern tribes' wrath as a large warparty moved upon another of their towns.

Perhaps responding to a treaty laid out upon a belt of wampum, the Ottawa roused themselves to defend the Potawatomi. They launched a fleet of canoes across Lake Erie to attack a Ojibwe town on the water's shore.

Last to throw off their warm buffalo robes and gather together their tribal warparties were the Miami. They heard about the Seneca attack on the Illinois and deemed it a good time to retake the town they had lost to the Iroquois last turn.

Five battles, but with only six of us present, we could game out just three that evening. We could have done a marathon session and staged a round two. However, the players did not seem interested. Once again, the curse of Chief Leatherlips spat upon Ohio on the evening of a Beaver Wars session. A spring rainstorm drenched the trees outside and clattered upon the roof, driving those inside the lodge to huddle around the smoke of the campfire. I gave the players who had two battles (Seneca and Ojibwe) the choice of which battles to game out. Both chose to defend their towns first, and resolve their invasions later. I played the part of the Illinois again, defending against the Wyandot attack.

Two of this turn's battles took place inside Indian villages
Allen and my battle took place within the confines of the Illinois village in the immediate aftermath of the Wyandot attack. A furious Illinois counterattack was driving into the village, catching the Wyandot dispersed as they looted the bark lodges and hunted down hiding villagers. The Wyandot moved first, probing towards my forces and circling around the edges of a large longhouse in the center of the table. We charged the invaders, hoping to close quickly and minimize their advantage in firearms. Our gambit was a success as the battle was mostly one with tomahawk and war club. There were a few warriors slain by musket and bow, but most fell in melee. Allen struck first killing one of my warriors, but we slew two of them on the next turn. We went back and forth for a few turns, until a couple crucial, back-to-back Illinois "turnovers" (failing with two or more activation rolls on the same warrior) allowed the Wyandot to press their advantage. Once again, my leader proved relatively useless -- never killing an enemy with his musket or in melee. In addition, he was the cause of at least two of my failed activations. Appropriately enough, when our numbers fell below half and we checked morale, the leader was the only one to flee off table! Seeing their leader desert them led to another round of morale checks, and the end of the game as the Illinois counterattack melted away, and they surrendered control of the town.

Ojibwe scouts brought news of the approach of the Ottawa canoes. This gave them time to marshal a force and meet them in the forests before the invaders could reach the town. The meeting engagement quickly went the Ojibwe's way. The report from the players was that the Ottawa player (Tom) was having a horrible evening with his dice. Five Ottawa warriors fell at the loss of two Ojibwe. This broke the will of the invaders and they streamed back to their war canoes. The Ottawa celebrated, scalped the fallen, and carried their weapons back to their town, shouting their war cries.
Ottawa warriors disembark from their war canoes to attack an Ojibwe town
 Hoping that most of the experienced Seneca warriors would be in the warparty attacking the Illinois, the Miami struck back at the town they'd lost last turn. Many of the same Seneca warriors who'd fought in that battle were still in the town, though, and they hurriedly collected to oppose the Miami invasion. The battle swirled amidst the bark longhouses and wigwams of the former Illinois town. The Seneca triumphed again over their Miami foes, losing one warrior while the Miami lost four. The Miami leader also fled the battle, causing his troops to lose heart and flee for the entrance way of the palisaded village, leaving four of their slain warriors behind.

Seneca warriors gather to defend their newly-conquered town
The "table talk" as players were announcing their tribe's actions for this turn featured a rousing oration by the Ottawa player. He tried to fire the other players into attacking the two leaders of the campaign, so far -- the Seneca and Ojibwe. The Wyandot ignored them. The Miami player listened, though. Their elders debated long around the council fire before accepting the belt of Ottawa wampum. However, with both of the campaign leaders successfully defending their villages, it remains to be seen if they will be equally victorious in their invasions of the Potawatomi and Illinois towns. If only one succeeds, that tribe will be the clear leader after four turns. If both are, it will likely continue to be a tight struggle. How long before the leaders turn on each other, though?

No comments:

Post a Comment