Earlier this month the crew mustered at the War Room (John’s garage workshop / game area) for a new campaign of Nightwatch.
Nightwatch is a fantastic, rules-lite skirmish game focused on low fantasy monster hunting. Think the Witcher, or Conan. Each player controls a powerful hunter who specializes in some sort of monster-hunting task. The game is intended to be played as a multi-part campaign, where your hunter attracts thugs and hirelings along the way as they battle ever more ferocious monsters, culiminating in what can only be described as a boss battle. The monsters are controlled by a simple yet satisfying AI system, which also supports solo play.
We were excited to try out this campaign, as we love skirmish games with low model counts that are focused like a laser on achieving a singular tabletop vision. Nightwatch (written by P. Todoroff, the same guy who wrote Zona Alfa) fit the bill perfectly.
We set the game in Heerstelt, a border hamlet north of the dwarven empire of Miravec in our homebrew fantasy setting. The hunters were summoned to investigate some mysterious goings-on in the village. Heerstelt is in the northwest corner of this map of a portion of our setting.
The scenario called for the players to explore four bent, twisted trees located on the four corners of the play area. Scenarios and objectives vary from game to game, but in this case, most of the game focused on the edges & corners of the game, which meant that the center of the board, with its gruesome trophy outside the ruined manor, didn’t see much action.
Seeing as how this was game 1 of our campaign, each player controlled just their own hunter, with no backup or lackeys. They’d have to do all the dirty work themselves…
Vincent’s alchemist and Jim’s swordsman took the left flank, creeping around the perimeter of the village to get to the twisted trees. Unfortunately, the bad guy deployment zones were also located on the perimeter of the battlefield, and each turn two of the four spots were selected at random. Foul vermin and hordes of evil poured forth!
As it happened, the majority of the monsters that arrived in our game randomly spawned near Vincent and Jim’s characters. They quickly found themselves scrambling to the high ground while fighting off an ever-growing horde of desert raiders and beastmen!
Over on the other side of the battlefield, Paul’s elf archer and Daniel’s wizard had a much better go of it. The elf archer loped across the board and secured both trees, though it took a little time – you have to make a successful dice roll to secure the objective, which the elf failed repeatedly to do, leading to many, many jokes about how the elf just can’t figure out these trees, etc.
And Daniel’s wizard almost certainly won the team player award. He crossed the entire battlefield, flinging lightning bolts left and right, and ultimately helped the party secure the final objective and win this particular scenario.
Towards the end of the game, there were some real questions whether or not the players would be able to win the scenario and escape alive. Nightwatch intentionally ratchets up the danger by deploying more dangerous monsters in the later turns. So while the game started as a cakewalk, with the players easily dispatching the vermin that emerged in the early turns, they were scrambling by the final turns and absolutely needed every last trick that each of the four characters could muster to secure the victory.
Here’s a peek at the action as they reached the final tree and closed out this game…
Nightwatch gave us a smashingly fun game for our first outing. Our adventures will take us deeper into the badlands known as the Hattendorf Border Marches. I’m particularly excited to see some hirelings show up … this game starts with a very low model count, but I was jonesing to get more toys on the table! Thankfully, the players were already scheming about how to spend their hard-earned silver pieces.
The Hunt continues … stay tuned for more!