Friday, 28 January 2011

Skull Crusher Battle Report And Review!


As part of my attempt to get more games in heres a quick battle report and review of Skull Crusher, a freely available ruleset:

The Forces

2 Dwarves, Heavy Armour, 2 Handed Weapon, 16 points

1 Dwarf, Heavy Armour, Throwing Weapon, 8 points

4 Dwarves, Heavy Armour, Shield, 32 points

2 Dwarves, Light Armour, Crossbows, 22 points

78 points

8 goblins, shields, 32 points

1 goblin, light armour, 2 handed weapon, 5 points

4 goblins, short bows, 24 points

2 goblins, heavy armour, throwing weapon, shield 14 points

1 goblin, sling, 4 points

79 points

The Scenario:

The boar company sets out to the frontier but runs into some unexpected trouble in the form of a large group of goblins. Unsure as to their intentions Grimli orders his troops into battle in the hopes of wiping the goblins out before they can report on the location of the small dwarven force.

Despite being heavily outnumbered, Grimli is confident that his dwarves superior training and equipment will see them through safely.

The scenario requires at least three goblins to break through the dwarven line and exit their table edge. The dwarves must kill as many of the goblins as possible.

The Battlefield

A few stunted trees clinging to life in an otherwise barren landscape.

The Map


The goblin force lost the initiative so had to deploy first. Forming a ragged line with their basic warriors forming a group in the centre and the archers and slinger guarding their flank. Mingled into the mass stride the goblin leader and his bullies.

Meanwhile on the other side of the table, Grimli forms his troop into a tight ranking formation with his crossbow-armed hunters holding one flank and his axe-throwing standard on the other.

The Game!

Turn 1

Grimli leads his troops forward in a somewhat ragged line, possibly caused by their relative inexperience at operating as a unit. On his right flank the hunters move forward steadily in an attempt to outflank the goblins. The hunters open fire but fail to hit. The dwarven turn saw the boar company reform their tight line.

The goblin chieftain let out a shrill battle cry, which was soon picked up by his ragged troops who broke into a shambling run in an attempt to close with the hated dwarves as quickly as possible. One of the goblin bullies out distanced his fellows in a fit of enthusiasm. On the right flank the goblin archers scurried forward with the aim of angling round the smaller dwarven force. Meanwhile the right flank archers moved towards the dwarf hunters. The goblin slinger skulked around in the rear, obviously less eager than his fellows to engage the armoured line.

They fired a crude arrow each at the opposing hunters and one actually managed to hit and take a cursing dwarf out of the battle, a barbed arrow embedded in his shoulder. The left flank archers were less successful, merely embedding arrows in the ground around the dwarven standard bearer.

Heartened by this early success the goblins rushed forward with their leader and his bullies showing unexpected courage by actually leading the charge.

Turn 2

The dwarves retained the initiative and charged the goblins. Grimli spotted the goblin chief and engaged him in single combat while Flint took on one of the goblin bullies and the remaining dwarves also chose opponents. Enraged by the plight of his companion, the remaining hunter moved to defend his fallen comrade while the dwarven standard skirted the combat on the right flank in an attempt to close with the goblin archers.

The combat proves less than impressive as not one of the dwarves manages to damage their foes, meanwhile the hunters crossbow bolt once again flies wide of its mark. On the other flank the dwarven standard manages to hit one of the goblin archers with a well placed throwing axe, planting the blade in the goblins head.

The goblins slowly start to envelop the dwarven line while their archers and slinger angle in for the kill. The combat saw blows traded and a single dwarf fall to a rusty cleaver. Again the goblin archers fired but this time the remaining hunter was left unscathed. On the other flank the dwarven standard fell from a goblin arrow. Things were starting to look grim for the dwarves.

Turn 3

The goblins seized the initiative, possibly sensing the dwarves were crumbling. The goblin archers finally struck down the last hunter, however they failed to kill a single dwarf in combat. Bellowing his clan’s battle cry Grimli stuck the goblin chief’s head from his shoulders along with an unfortunate goblin that had attempted to sneak behind him. This was more like it! Obviously inspired by his leaders courage, Flint similarly struck down one of the bullies and a second goblin attacker. One of the other dwarven troopers also managed to strike down his opponent.

Turn 4

Suddenly things were staring to look less grim for the dwarves as the goblins began to lose courage. Seizing the initiative, Grimli waded into the remaining goblins, striking down another of the vile creatures, Flint also succeeded in running another through. Seeing their standard lying bloodied, one of the dwarf troopers hurled himself at the goblin archers killing both outright!

Meanwhile another goblin fell to dwarven steel and the remaining goblins decided that discretion was the better part of valour, running from the bloodied but victorious dwarves of the boar legion!


The dwarves underwent a real trial by fire, but survived to fight another day with two lightly injured and two seriously injured. The lightly injured standard and trooper would be able to return to duty in a few days but the hunters would be missing for several weeks, leaving the unit very short of ranged firepower. Fortunately they were within a few days journey of the dwarven outpost of Dur Zamor, a fortified keep high in the mountains where expert medical attention and fresh recruits could be found!


Well that was quite an exciting game as it looked like the more numerous goblins were simply going to overwhelm the dwarves for a while but the boar company came through in the end

This was the first game of Skull Crusher that I’ve played and have to admit that the four page document did not initially inspire me with confidence as its just a word file

Playing the game itself was really rather fun though with some quite bloody combat and some nice touches. For example the goblins are penalized when shooting as they are poor archers or their arrows are sub standard, meanwhile the dwarves are very hard to kill (mostly!)


Skull Crusher is a free set of fantasy rules that

“is a skirmish war-game developed by, and for, those of us who (a) are fantasy fans, (b) have purchased our fair share of fantasy miniatures and (c) have neither the finances or time to commit to a proper war-gaming hobby-BUT who still want to kick some orc-butt when we have a spare hour to kill !!”

It is available from HERE and is a small PDF running to four pages. Aimed at quick and fun games between small numbers of models it has stats for creating orcs, dwarves, goblins, elves, humans, skeletons and zombies, along with some basic equipment such as armour and weapons.

The players must choose whether they be good or evil, which is supposed to limit your choice of troop with the good getting humans, dwarves and elves, while the evil gets humans, goblins and orcs.

Once you have created your warband both sides roll a d6 for initiative with the looser being forced to deploy first. There are some basic rules about deployment such as all members of a warband must start the game within 2 inches and at least 16 inches from opposing troops.

Next up comes movement, the player must roll a d6 and add the models racial modifier, dwarves have 1, while elves have 3 which results in dwarves moving generally quite slowly while elves will quickly move over the battlefield.

This roll must be done for each model which can result in them spreading out somewhat. Alas it doesn’t make it clear if they have to move this amount or up to it. I took it as common sense that I could chose to move them up to the distance required, but the option of forcing a berserk dwarf the maximum has real possibilities.

Once movement on all of ones models has been completed they may fire their ranged weapons, with hits being effected by the range, either short, medium or long. Next both players roll a d6 and add any modifiers. If the attacker rolls higher than the defenders modified total, the defender is removed as a casualty otherwise there is no effect.

If a model ends within 1 inch of an opposing model, combat ensues with a similar opposing d6 plus modifier roll being made. Again if the attacker rolls higher, the defender is removed. Unfortunatley it does not make it clear whether or not if the defender caused damage by rolling higher than the attacker.

Once all this has happened, any model that has not either been in combat or fired a weapon may move a further d6 inches. Play then moves to the other player.

All in all it’s a nice simple little set of rules that allows players to easily have a quick and fun game without getting too bogged down. I did feel that about a dozen models a side is the maximum one should go for with the game as theres quite a lot of dice rolling required.

There is also no morale to be taken into account, but I simply had one side retire once they had lost 50% casualties.

I suspect I will be using Skull Crusher again as its both simple and fun and allows for a game to be played quickly and without too much record keeping. Despite having a few minor quibbles with the rules I quite like them and with the addition of a little narrative, had a good time using them!

Incidentally I decided to roll a d6 for each casualty with a 1 being dead, 2-3 seriously injured, 4-5 lightly injured and 6 fit for duty. This will allow me to re-use characters and models throughout the campaign.

Also serious injuries take two games to recover from, while light only one. This will limit my choices in future but as the boar company have found shelter in the keep of Dur Zamor I am sure I will be recruiting some fresh blood while allowing the injured to recover some of their strength!

Hopefully the review will encourage folks to give the game a go!

All the best!


  1. Nice Report and Rules Review! Really an exciting fight. I've looked at the Skull Crusher rules but haven't actually played with them. It sounds like they play really well though. Thanks for sharing -- I always love reading other people's battle reports!

  2. Heya

    Thanks for the intro to these rules... always looking for different ways to play :)

    A little tweak we introduced was to replace the numerical values given with different size die. Then scale it up or down depending whether the circumstances were good or bad. It may sound slighlty complicated but it allows for a smooth flowing game where what you roll is what you get for quick "no surprises" resolutions.

    goblin archer d6 base with clean shot so gets d8
    dwarf defender d8 with heavy armour and shield so scales d8->d10->d12 but is facing the wrong way so d12->d10 then its a straight head to head role. d8 vs d10

    looking forward to future reviews / reports...

  3. Hi!

    Thanks for the comments!

    Its a really nice simple little game thats well worth a look!

    I'm liking the dice idea! I may have to steal it for future games as my heroes had some very lucky escapes in situations that they shouldn't have so the extra level of customisation is a great idea!

    All the best!