Burrows & Badgers is a skirmish game of Anthropomorphic Animals set in the kingdom of Northymbra. Players take control of warbands made up of a variety of creatures, but how do you decide who to bring to the battlefield? Author Michael Lovejoy is here to give you some advice!

When you first start choosing a Warband, the sheer number of options can be a bit confusing. People keep asking us endless questions; which races work well together, are mice any good at fighting, should I just get foxes, and should they all be wizards? Complicated stuff, obviously…

Normally, we just smile cheerfully (or is that maniacally?) and reply ‘Just get the half a dozen miniatures you like best!’ which usually does the job… but sometimes people want more information. So this is our attempt to give you just that!

Warbands can have from 3 to 10 miniatures; typically most starting warbands have 5 or 6.

Let’s have a look at the different races you can choose from; there’s nearly forty of them, so this might take a while. Grab a hot beverage and a biscuit, and we’ll begin…

The Beasts of Northymbra

We’ll start with the tiddlers of the bunch; the Small beasts. They all go on a 30mm base, and there’s only four of them, but they do have some key differences. First up is the archetypal anthropomorphic animal, the mouse.

A mouse and a shrew, locked in battle!
Miniatures available from Oathsworn Miniatures

Mice (which includes Dormice) are cheap to hire (24 pennies) and are not really great at anything, to be honest. A mouse fighter will want some armour, maybe a shield, and ideally be backed up by a couple more mice! A mouse spell caster will struggle to cast many spells successfully – to get around that, you’ll need to take advantage of Items like the Mage’s Focus, and avoid Moving to get the +2 Casting bonus.

Shrews are very similar, but their slightly higher Block stat makes them a bit tougher in a fight, and their d8 Fortitude makes them acceptable casters of Natural, Dark and Wild magic.

Small Birds have low Fortitude and Presence; unless you want to rely solely on luck, don’t make one a wizard! Their real strength is using Flight to get rapidly about the tabletop, carrying out objectives.

Bats are a bit of an enigma; Flight and Unarmed Fighter makes them good at attacking unexpectedly, but their low Strike and Block plus Delicate (2) means they don’t last long. As spell casters though, they can be deadly; Flight gets them into position quickly, then using a Mage’s Focus and the Gifted Skill, they can usually cast most spells. Just be aware that bats are definitely glass cannons!

The Medium beasts also use a 30mm base. Hedgehogs have Spines, which helps them survive in combat; with Heavy Armour and a Shield, they can make decent tanks. Their d8 Presence stat makes them acceptable Light, Unbound and Noble magic casters too.

Squirrels are reasonable with Fortitude based magic, and their d8 Nimbleness and Concealment keeps them fairly safe from missile fire and makes them decent as sneaky ambushers.

Moles are slow, and their Short Sighted Skill makes them poor at shooting. But the Tunneller Skill provides some interesting options for deployment.

Weasels and Stoats make great close combat fighters; high Movement and Nimbleness let them close with the enemy safely, and d8 Strike with the Fearless skill makes them a threat to most beasts. Ferrets are basically the same, but with higher Fortitude and Presence.

Three tough looking customers - an otter, a marmot, and a hare!
Miniatures available from Oathsworn Miniatures

Cats are similar, but slightly slower. They also have higher Presence, so casting Light, Unbound and Noble magic is an option. Black Rats have a competent statline; they are pretty much a powered up mouse! d8 Strike makes them acceptable fighters.

Rabbits are fast movers, but d6s across the board for their other stats means they don’t excel at anything. The ears look cute, though!

Toads can be equipped to be excellent tanks, and also make very good ambushers; they also make some of the most survivable spell casters in the game.

Frogs have a very similar statline to mice, making them average at best. The Leap skill can be useful, but it depends largely on your terrain setup.

Adders’ main strengths lie in two areas; close combat ambushes, and casting spells.

Medium Birds are fairly average, but d8 Nimbleness and Flight makes them good at avoiding missile fire and redeploying across the tabletop.

Medium Raptors are good at one thing – flying into the enemy, and hitting them hard!

Medium Hounds are competent fighters, and Strong (1) helps them deal out the damage, but they are poor at hiding, and not great with magic either.

Marmots are basically like mice, but slightly worse!

Green Lizards – again, similar to a mouse in terms of stats, but slightly better at remaining hidden.

Siamese cats – similar to a regular Cat, as you might expect, but slightly less nimble, and slightly better with magic.

Tortoises (specifically the Hermann’s tortoise, which is the only type we’ve sculpted so far!) are very capable tanks; armour them up, give them a shield, and they’ll absorb a lot of hits without too much harm.

The Platypus statline means it is effectively a mouse that swims; there’ll be a better version once we get the time to add Freelances back into the game…

Large beasts are next; they go on a 40mm base, and you can take a maximum of 6 in your Warband.

Hares are the best all-round warriors in the game; d8 Move, d10 Strike and d8 Block plus Strong (1) makes them excel in a fight. d6 Ranged isn’t great, but they can develop into reasonable shooters.

Support from the skies can be invaluable on the battlefield!
Miniatures available from Oathsworn Miniatures

Wildcats are best at close combat; fast and nimble, with d10 Strike and Strong (2), Tough (1) and Fearsome, they can threaten any beast in the game. But at 62 pennies, they don’t come cheap!

Brown Rats are pretty much a mouse on steroids; anything a mouse can do, they do slightly better. The Tough (1) Skill can be very useful too, especially when combined with armour.

Foxes and Otters bring similar skills to the table; both are quick, good fighters, good at shooting and have Strong (1). Otters have slightly higher Nimbleness and Fortitude though, plus the Swim skill.

Large Birds are slightly improved versions of the Small and Medium Birds; their main strength is still the ability to use Flight to get around very quickly.

Large Raptors are all about flying full speed into an isolated enemy, and using their d8 Strike and Strong (2) to deliver a powerful attack. They can be competent spell casters too.

Large Hounds are reliable fighters; not exceptional, but their strength and toughness gives them a decent edge.

Raccoons are competent fighters and decent spell casters too.

Armadillos are fast, nimble and tough – they can absorb a lot of damage, and are pretty good in a fight, too.

Fennec Foxes really excel at spotting hidden enemies. They can be very useful if your opponent plans on doing a lot of sneaking about.

Finally, we come to the Massive beasts; they go on a 50mm base, and you can only take a maximum of three.

First up is the Badger; Strong (3), Tough (2) and Fearsome makes badgers hard to kill and able to dish out a lot of damage. d8 Fortitude and d10 Presence can make them excellent mages too.

Beavers are even harder to damage, but their slightly lower strength and lack of Fearsome mean they are not quite as good in a straight fight. Armour a beaver heavily though, and they’ll survive almost anything.

Massive Birds have a reasonable statline; nothing incredible, but they have Flight, and d8 Fortitude and Presence means they can be fairly good spell casters.

Finally, Massive Hounds have d10 Strike, Strong (3) and Tough (2), meaning they are one of the few beasts happy to go paw to paw with a Wildcat. A Ranged stat of d4 and the Natural Hunter skill means they won’t be doing much shooting, though.

One key thing to remember is that all the above comments are based on the starting stats and Skills of the different races. They will all develop and improve as your Warband gains experience; so, while a mouse or a rabbit may not look much good on paper, they might well turn into a great hero before long…so don’t worry about trying to choose a ‘powerful’ starting warband.

Allegiances

So, that’s the beasts of Northymbra; what about the Allegiances? Well, you’ve got Royalists, Rogues, Freebeasts and Wildbeasts to choose from, and each brings its own benefits to the Warband.

The Badger makes a fearsome foe, but strength in numbers could overpower the beast!
Miniatures available from Oathsworn Miniatures

Royalists provide you with bonuses to the Strike stat of two of your characters, and the Smithy Den upgrade, allowing easy access to weapons and armour. If you’re planning a close-combat, military style Warband, Royalists are a good place to start. Hares, otters and hounds can form a good core for a Royalist Warband.

Rogues give you an increase to Concealment for two of your characters, and an extra two Fate points. The Gambling Den upgrade provides you with a fast but risky way to make money. If you want to be sneaky, do some ambushing, and like Lady Luck on your side, try a Rogues Warband. Black rats, adders and squirrels are all good for a hiding-heavy playstyle. Or if you want to have a laugh and rely on luck, try a mole with a crossbow!

Freebeasts don’t provide any stat increases, but give three free rolls on the Rare Items table, and the ability to modify any rolls on that table by + or -1. These items get added to your starting Equipment free, and can give you some very useful gear. The Alchemy Laboratory gives you easy access to poisons and potions too. If you like the idea of dealing in exotic items, and aren’t concerned with such foolish notions as ‘honour’, then the Freebeasts might be the right choice. Foxes are a traditional Freebeast critter; weasels and ferrets are a good fit too.

Wildbeasts also gain no stat bonuses; their benefit is often assumed to be pretty poor at first glance. They ignore Difficult terrain for any horizontal movement. While that doesn’t sound like much, a lot of the game involves movement; getting to objectives, charging foes, ambushing, and much more. Being able to treat the bulk of the tabletop as open terrain means a Wildbeast warband typically ends up much faster than most others. The Magical Garden upgrade to their Den provides free ingredients for spells, and earns a few extra pennies for you every game as well. A toad or two is a good start if you’re going for a magic-heavy Warband, or a wildcat backed by rats and shrews for a combat based Warband.

One other thing to consider when choosing your Allegiance is that you can always use the rules without sticking to the background. For example, if you wanted to play a Clan of Rat warriors, where the strongest fighters lead, with lots of armour and weapons, then the Royalist Allegiance gives the kind of bonuses and Den upgrade that would be ideal. Just call it ‘Iron Claw Clan’ or something – so long as the other players know what Allegiance you’ve used, there shouldn’t be any problem.

Burrows & Badgers is a tabletop skirmish game set in the ancient realm of Northymbra, a kingdom where mice, badgers, toads, and other animals wear armour, wield swords, and cast magic spells. Order your copy today!

Post Comments

ZorroG posted on 6 Sep 2018 16:57:19
Been trying to avoid another FRPG (AL D&D 5e is enough, right?) but the PDF price might push me over the edge. Curses!

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