Ah, Pig Wars in Britain.
Friends and family gathered to play a Dark Age brouhaha over the weekend past. The game was Pig Wars; the scenario pitted numerous wandering warbands bent on pillaging a Roman villa in 5th century Britain. Food on the hoof, and who doesn't like killing bloody Romans?
There were 5 warbands and 5 starting points. Each warband was slightly different, but each offered aspects to make them attractive to the players, from extra shooting, to mounted troops (an attack bonus) to guys with two handed axes. What we did was randomly determine 'picking order' for the warbands and then reversed the order for picking starting points, ala Settlers of Catan. So Nat had the first choice of warband but the last choice of his starting point.
Each warband would be awarded points for getting livestock off the board and killing dudes, plus score points for secret Victory Conditions I invented, also randomly selected. Some examples of the secret VC were extra points for killing 'a guy with a chicken' or extra points for 'killing guys on the roof of the villa *if* you exit a goat', and so on.
I would play the Romans again who were there only as obstacles to the players' designs and could score no points of their own.
We also added a new dimension: we used old Warhammer direction dice to randomly move the farm animals each turn. That way, they didn't just sit there and wait to be picked up. It worked out pretty well, as they sometimes would run in a different direction just as someone was about to grab them. Just an extra bit of fun.
So, each player having selected their warband and starting point and armed with a special purpose, let's get started!
The villa. I picture it wet and muddy, like I do the entire earth from the 5th til the 15th century.
The 'house' and barn. More of a barracks than a house, it would be revealed as the game wore on.
The fortified manor house. In hindsight, it would need a lot more fortification.
Tony, Nat and Ogre Dirty Dog fondle their warbands, getting ready to high tail it onto Roman property without so much as an invite.
Tom aka 'Thakules' also sets up his warband. His guys would prove, let's say, opportunistic, as they strolled into battle and cleaned up the remnants of several bitter conflicts.
Tom's troops moving inexorably forward. (That's Latin for 'slow'.)
Chris' warband schleps through the muck. That duck never knew what hit him.
Ogre DD's warband has no qualms about ruining anyone's day. The head straight for the barn and the highly prized horse.
But the barracks reveals the first of the sleepy Roman defenders forming a shield wall to stop them. Unfortunately they had no time to don their armor.
Not so these boys. The Roman centurion and his Legionum Sanguine Fructos forms up outside the villa. They are sick of this provincial life and welcome a fight. Careful what you wish for, fellas.
Nat's warband comes in waves. They lost a few guys on the way in to bow fire but were on a mission.
The Romans engage Ogre, providing him with many victory points as they were apparently swinging nerf swords and were pretty much butchered, setting a frightening precedent for the home team.
Nat's shield wall closes with... a sheep?
Wait for it...
What's left of the Roman shield wall runs for his life. There was another 4 man shield wall hiding in the barracks but Ogre smashed them as well, leaving a lone peasant holding his chicken.
Less archers on the roof than a few turns earlier. Those guys were arrow magnets while they lived.
An important shot. This is Chris' guys about to exit a chicken, a goose, a duck and a sheep, which is 4/5ths of his secret VC. For a whopping 7 points he needed to get each of the above off, plus a goat. He did it too, through careful negotiation and a non-aggression pact with Ogre. (Until he reached his goal and then turned on him.) Well done Chris!
Nat's armored shield wall clashes with the Legionnaires. His two handed axes would break the Romans until they were fighting in a few separate knots.
Wait for it...
Tom's warband gets into the fray, cleaning up what's left of the bloody Romans. (The dirtiest kind.) The Roman centurion finally goes down after a Popeye/Bluto type fight with Nat's war lord.
Tony moved his warband in well measured temperament.
Two Saxons fight over their girlfriend.
Final positions, not too many dudes left. You can see Chris' and Ogre's warlords engaged in mounted combat between the barracks and barn and Nat's and Toms also engaged in front of the villa. Lots of warlords took wounds but only mine died. :-(
But, the Romans had one guy survive! The priest was hiding in the villa and no one entered to brain him.
It was a close run thing. After tallying the points, Ogre Dirty Dog emerged victorious, edging out Chris by a single point. The rest of the pack were separated by 6 points and first and last place separated by only 11 points. Very close and well played by everyone.
Pig Wars is a great 'convention style' game. It allows multiple players to have a good time. The use of playing cards over dice is a great equalizer as well. It's an old game but holds up well. We recommend it.
Else, how can you answer the question when you are an old gaffer and you grandchildren ask: 'What did you do in the Pig Wars, grandfather?'