Thursday 3 October 2013

Battle Report: The Bridge Over the River Chai - Post Mortem

Post Mortem

And just when you (and I) thought this little shindig was over, it turns out there is one final piece of administration that requires processing - the post mortem. This is really the place where the final thoughts of the participants are captured and where we discuss the game, really.

Of course, if you are new to the blog (or at least, to The Bridge Over the River Chai) then you may not realise that this entire battle has taken just about a year to chronicle.

Yeah. An earth year. In the vicinity of (but not exactly) three hundred and sixty five days.

Which is not to say that the game was played in one year - only that the time to tell the story took about a year.

Anyway, the net result of publishing a post mortem quite some time after the players completed their participation means that their thoughts and comments are possibly somewhat out of context. As I write this, I don't actually know what they have said, but I thought I'd put it out there that if they do say anything confusing or unusual (more so than perhaps they normally would), it might be because what you are about to read is historical.

That's what having kids gets you.

Winners and Losers

Warhammer is about fighting. And fighting, I think you'll find, tends to put things into some pretty black and white categories, chief amongst them being winning an losing.

Although the story was all centred around the legendary Percolator, possession of this device was not the overarching victory condition. When Dreamfish and I looked at the story, we thought that if it was, then players would move in as quickly as possible to claim the thing, hand it off the fastest/toughest character and then leg it off the table.

That's not to say that wouldn't have been an interesting game. But, we thought, if we're going to have a remote game, we're bloody well going to do it properly and wring the maximum value out of the armies once assembled.

So if we look at the game from the winner/loser point of view, we find much to our surprise that the Dwarves have claimed a nominal victory!

Storyline wise, that actually makes sense. The orcs did bicker amongst themselves a lot before finally engaging and when they did engage, their line was not cohesive or supportive at all.

From a dwarven perspective, it seems fair to consider that no enemies crossed the river, suggesting that if nothing else, their lands were still 'safe'.

And, of course, when you see the survivors, it gets a little clearer...

Orcs & Goblins - DA Swedicine Purfurds

Dwarfs - Ironbeard's Conquerors


Gamesmaster: Dreamfish
Remote Gaming

By far the biggest remote game we've played to date. The brand new table with its river and hill sections, the bridges and some unseen miniatures allowed us to entertain our ever demanding audience once more.

The separation of tasks between Gaj and me proved to be most valuable. The collaboration allowed us to work out the scenario, discuss and introduce new elements to the game as it progressed.

The Blood Formatting Engine helped with the technical annoyances of formatting. Using standardized templates various presentational formats could be generated by the push of a button.

Battle Chronicler was used for making the overview pictures and the players used it to get a better estimation of the unit positions and/or distances.

A private sub-forum on the Oldhammer Forum was used to publish each phase. Communication with each individual player was done by email or PMs.

The Game

When we created the scenario we hoped it would draw out the units to the center. The GM controlled chariot and the Percolator definitely contributed to achieve that goal. Obviously, the players did the rest.

Throughout the game I tried to be as objective as possible and keep true to the narrative before anything else. The decisions made during the game were always well-motivated and with approval of both players.

We used the Hamete Virtual Dice Server to log all dice rolls. The Dicelog proved invaluable to the game and it took over 800 dice rolls to complete it.


The WFB3 Rule Reference and WFB3 Army Builder Data Files helped a lot to maintain an overview of the rules, although some minor mistakes did slip through, rule wise, this was the best game I've played to date.


Both players were enthusiastic and committed to the game. Their experience and knowledge of WFB3 varied. One player in particular enjoyed asking questions, while the other had a more "go with the flow" attitude.

Not everything was game-related and even though we live miles apart, you get to know each other a bit. During the course of the game, someone got promoted, acquired parenthood, children got neglected and marriages being put to the test.

I'd like to thank the participants and the community for supporting us. Special thanks go out to Gaj for his cooperation and for bringing the story to life.

Player A: Thantsants
Remote Gaming

A great experience - the Dicelog made dice rolls easy snd Battle Chronicler enabled us to keep track of where units were, although sometimes it became a little tricky to visualise LOS - Dreamfish was most helpful here with great and impartial advice. Speaking of which, Dreamfish did a great job of relaying all the necessary information to keep game ticking along nicely.

The Game

Why oh why did I forget that most true of all military maxims that no plan survives contact with the enemy. Especially when that enemy turns out to be your own bickering army! Having spent ages considering the best deployment of my units to reduce animosity and ensure they arrived at their objectives in a timely fashion with support, the whole thing fell apart as the Goblinoid ranks fell to bickering anyway. To compound things the Dark Elf units found that mountaineering wasn't their forte as they tried to get to grips with the Wood Elves in the face of some terrifyingly deadly Dwarf artillery.

The plan had been originally to wipe out the Wood Elves with the Dark Elves - Hate is a fine thing as the Goblin spears were to find out when they won several combats in a row against a vastly superior Dwarf unit! Once the Wood Elves were dealt with, the Dark Elves were to sweep down the right flank, cross the river and take the baggage and artillery area. Meanwhile the Orcs were to advance on the Dwarven left flank, screening Rogaine and his cavalry as they made a dash for the Percolator. As you will have read from Gaj's highly entertaining write-ups that bits of that happened...

All I can say is - thank goodness for my individual characters, ther ability to ignore difficult ground, their magic and their fighting prowess! Although my army was pretty comprehensively wiped out and sent running for the hills, I do take great delight in their highly pyrrhic victory! The Percolator is mine, the cream of Dwarf nobility lies dead on the battlefield and I nailed that treacherous dog Master B'tor!


The house rules were great and I really appreciated Dreamfish's flexibility and fairness when interesting situations arose. The combat rules made them much more action packed than some of the grinding melees that can drag on for many turns in the original 3rd ed rules. I still think that stonethrowers are somewhat overpowered... or at least Dark Elves too soft!


The whole experience was highly enjoyable and this was down to the fantastic team effort of the all the participants. Dreamfish steered a firm and steady course as GM, Airborne was a canny opponent who kept me on my toes for the whole game and Gaj - thanks for the brilliant story telling which is what this game is all about!

Player B: Airbornegrove26
Remote Gaming

Dreamfish was a perfect host/GM making it work across three months and an ocean. I think we averaged one turn per week which is quite an accomplishment. All of the game aids mentioned by Dreamfish are easy to use. Communication was smooth and quick.

The Game

We met in the middle as Dreamfish intended then slogged it out for about 7 turns. Tactically my goal was to first crush the Dark Elves, and keep the Greenskins held up with my ranged weapons. As it turned out The Greenskins did the work for me with animosity. Mastor B'tor proved to be an awesome character and single handily destroyed my Woodelves. That is when my plan had to change. I vowed to keep lines and stay as a cohesive army. However around turn 8 the action got the best of me, and the game board became a jumbled mess of single unit combats. Isn't that how it always turns out, lol.

Note to self, dwarves are slow. My time table for my moves became a bit bogged down by being unfamiliar with them. However once they got stuck in they preformed admirably. The losses from the dwarf line turns 8-10 came more from terrible dice rolling (thanks dice log)!!! I also got excited and attacked that last turn when I should have probably consolidated. I really wanted to kill Thantsants characters though especially Wineghum.

Dice log is an amazing game aid and make things very simple. There were some points when I was on the edge of my seat about to hit roll, "Why dice log have you forsaken me!!!!!" It was my undoing in the end. Poor Borri rolled nothing but 1's for his challenge, ugh. Winghum helped dicelog out as well with some tactical mist, that might be the move of the game. Thantsants kept my warmachines down for 4 turns, then unformed my whole dwarf line the last time he used it.

Victory was mine but felt hollow. I held the river but at what cost? The Percolator had been stolen, and Morgrim and most of my characters where dead. It made for a heck of a story though.


Dreamfish stayed as impartial as possible, if a question was raised, all three of us made a fair and cooperative decision. We must remember this isn't about being competitive but becoming part of the story. Dreamfish's house rules really streamlined things, and the remote gaming game turn worked out really well. I especially like two rounds of combat back to back. It made things quite bloody!


Dreamfish was and awesome host/GM, Thantsants was a great opponent, and Gaj being our scribe has done an amazing job! I would gladly participate again. If anyone has some specific question about the game or my participation I would be happy to go into more detail so feel free to ask.

Writer: Gaj
Remote Gaming

It was a strange sensation being the chap who 'just got the outcome' after a turn had been played. Obviously, I could watch the instructions as they were revealed, but it was peculiar not being someone who could offer instructions, especially when I've got an idea of what I think should happen next!

Still, the processing for this game was the fastest we've ever had it. As I'm sure you'll have noticed on the various turns - those large blocks of arrows and numbers basically represent a battle notation that Dreamfish concocted that allowed us to work out what what was happening to whom quite quickly - before, these would have been long paragraphs of fluffy nonsense which could lead to confusion as to who the target was meant to be.

The Game

The game itself was stupendous - it absolutely delivered on everything I hoped it would - it was exceedingly bloody, it didn't end too soon and the sorts of things one felt they could predict (like warmachine effects, the giant or the gyrocopter) didn't come through at all - certainly the most twists and turns in a game I've ever seen. That's the huge advantage of a GM, I suppose!


I dunno - I wasn't involved this time :)

Looks like everyone else thought they worked okay, so that's good. I've long since come to see that Dreamfish knows more about this ruleset than anyone else, so we (they?) were always in good hands...


Of course, the games are entirely dependent on the players. In this case, I was very happy with the player behaviours. I don't think we railroaded them into behaving as they did - I think they were genuinely committed to the scenario and that drove ideal player behaviours - I suspect if they were drawn to winning over any other activity, the game would have played very differently.

From a personal point of view, I do feel like I let the side down as I started taking longer and longer to write up the turns. I think this led to a general loss of enthusiasm (not from the players so much, but it would have been nice for them to see their grand story complete in the same month they ended it...), which became infectious. The report itself became my scourge and curse as it then stared preventing me from looking at other writing projects, which has led to a general slowdown on that whole front. I would also feel a suitable level of guilt whenever I tackled other hobby work instead of writing, but in my defence, that was taken up both in the organising and the preparation for the Bring Out Your Lead! 2013 weekend.

One thing that is especially interesting for me now is that there are far more people playing 3rd ed. and reporting on it. Which does raise an interesting question - have these remote games now served their purpose? Have they contributed to the growth of 3rd edition gaming to the point that reporting would now be done much faster from games that are finished in the same day they start? What about those not fortunate enough to have players close enough to them - do they still see remote gaming as a viable method?

I'll note leave the post on a question, because this post is about closing The Bridge Over The River Chai. So, to Dreamfish, Thantsants and Airbornegrove - I say thank you! To all you poor sods that were waiting with baited breath for the conclusion to this - again, I say thank you! Especially, thanks for your patience with this.

Until the next one...


  1. I can't think of many published battle reports on this scale, and of such good quality too, it would be a shame not to see more. It may not be realistic to expect more than one every year or two but even with me getting games in a fair bit I would still appreciate reading more like TBOTRC, and Thantsants' Mayhem epic.

    1. Well, hopefully, we can still achieve this sort of report, but with the gamers in the same room at the same time.

      That said, I know I have a long outstanding appointment with The Eternal Private, who I believe will shortly be starting a very similar activity with Thantsants and Mouse. And you, maybe? Was there a fourth? I don't remember...

  2. Until the next one... Interesting, so you didn't lose you mind on this one. Next time we'll make a movie out of it.

    I've compiled the report into a PDF document and posted it on the oldhammer forum. You might want to link to it from your blog. 385 pages of goodness.

    1. Nicely done, Mr D - I think, now with the sudden bourgeoning supply of reports, I will have to make a separate page just for reports. That might also tie back to the general state of each character as we discussed. I think that would be the place to link.

      Coming soon...