Last night we played a one off special for the holiday season. Instead of our normal 4e campaign we played out some skirmishes between monster war bands. It was a nice change of pace, and the guys seemed to enjoy it. Here’s how it worked.
I cracked open the Compendium and looked up all monsters from levels 1 to 3 in the Monster Vault. From there I picked out 500 xp worth of loosely themed monsters. I also had a look at Threats to Nentir Vale and did the same. (I went with these books on the basis that I knew I’d have the correct tokens for them, you could easily go to other books depending on your minis resources). A bit of cut and paste later and I had eight war bands ready to go. These are exactly like generating an encounter, using similar guidelines.
The players grabbed some tiles (we used Icewind Dale tiles for the snowy scenes) and set up the war bands ready to fight. And that was it! Really simple, and I think we needed to think about two rules call all night (could a monster use a healing surge? What damage would a healing surge count as against a monster?) both easily answered. (no, and a quarter of hit points)
It was interesting to see my players running monsters, and actually getting really involved with the narrative that emerged from the interaction of powers and systems. We had a white dragon pulled down into the snow by zombies. That same dragon froze and then shattered a water elemental. And loads more.
We all voted to give it another run out soon. We’ll go for more points (probably 1000 xp, with anything from heroic allowed) and we can prepare some elaborate battlegrounds in advance. It’s low maintenance, beer and chips D&D and I recommend it.
Makes me wonder though, the new official skirmish game is in play test now, and it’s in production next year. What will it do that we didn’t get from our amateur version last night?