Tag Archives: dwarves

Beards and Battle-axes: Play through


It was a cold winter’s night and two shadowy figures were waiting outside the empty house. One of the figures paced back and forth obviously growing impatient.

“He probably just forgot, you know how his memory is.”

“Probably, but it’s not like him to have his phone off…

…I hope he’s alright”

This was the situation I found myself in on the night of play testing my semi-developed board game I have been working on. I had organised with a mate of mine to come over to his palace at 6 with another mate so I could playtest my game with them. This did not end up going according to plan. My friend and I turned up at my other mate’s house at 6, and after 45 minutes of waiting my mate finally turned up. He had forgotten, got caught up at work, and his phone had died. So, we had 15 minutes before everyone else arrived for D&d and I had to teach my mates how to play my game, play through a game, and then leave time for them to give feedback.

So with all of that in mind here is how my play through went.

The concept of the game didn’t take long to explain, they had both talked about it with me beforehand about it, and as you’d expect from people about to play a game of D&d they both easily coped with the level of abstraction in my game.

In terms of material my game was far from complete. My floor tiles were made from printed out copies of a floor plan that was no longer under copyright, cut into tiles with markings I made with a whiteout pen to show what happened on each tile. I used the life, mana, gold, and strength counters from Talisman, as well as any encounter/equipment card I thought would work in my game. The only real material aspect of my game that was close to the finished product where the character/boss cards I had made. So with this dog’s breakfast of things, we played (quickly) a very crude version of the game I have in mind for the final product.

Play was quick, both of my mates picked up the game mechanics pretty well. We revealed tiles, killed some monsters, got some loot, killed the boss, no worries. It is good to keep in mind that both my mates are pretty seasoned gamers though and I’m sure it wouldn’t have run as smooth with less experienced gamers.


So, what went well?

The combat in terms of encounters went well, using the tried and tested method of rolling off using one stat. I will need to include some stronger monsters though.

The player cards where easy to understand, players all used their ability’s at least once. Thankfully I don’t think any one character ended up being over powered either.

What needs to change?

One of the comments my mates gave me was that too much was happening, pretty much every tile had an encounter of some kind, and they said they just needed some time to think and take stock of what they had and what they wanted to do. So I’ll have more tiles with nothing.

Something I noticed was that in making the movement only one tile a round made the game monotonous. I think adding a counter showing how many spaces you can move, like in Betrayal at House on the Hill, would add another element of play, deciding what would be the best use of your turn for that round.

The other major thing was the Boss. Having the boss appear after a certain number of rounds, with the players then being forced back to the centre to battle it did not make for fun combat, or an exciting ending. I think letting the players know what they’re up against, will add a level of strategy, rather than just hoping for the best. I think having the Boss spawn after a certain amount of rounds still works, but I want to give players the option of when to attack and if they want to attack all together or go one on one. Obviously I’ll have to add a consequence for if the players take too long to defeat the monster, a buff to the boss, environmental impact, instant death, something.


So definitely some things to change and tweak, but I think with the feedback from playtesting and just thinking through the mechanics some more I’ll be able to make some big improvements.

Special thanks to Laurent and Will for being my guineapigs.


Pitch: Beards and Battle-axes: A Dwarfs Quest


Something or someone has slaughtered everyone in the dwarven stronghold under the Black Mountain. Hordes of monsters have taken over, the once glorious mine, and it’s up to you and your fellow dwarf kin, to find what has caused this, remove it and return the stronghold to its former glory.

Search- Kill- Loot- Repeat

This is the situation you and your friends find yourselves in when you play Beards and Battle-axes: A Dwarfs Quest.

Beards and Battle-axes: A Dwarfs Quest is a dungeon crawler based game for 2-6 players.

The game begins with each player choosing a character/class to play as. At the moment there are four classes, Wizard, Fighter, Berserker, and Engineer, and each class has different abilities and stats. There are 3 stats that make up each class, Strength, Magic, and Life, much like in the game Talisman. I’m also toying with the idea of everyone wearing knitted beards while they play, not only because I think it would just be funny, but because one of the things about dwarves is that you can’t really tell if someone’s male or female because they all have beards.Long_viking_beard_hat_1024x1024

After everyone has chosen there class, players pick up 2 treasure cards, placing them face up if using it at the time, otherwise placing them face down in front of them. Players then place their character piece at the entrance to the mine and play begins. The mine splits off into tunnels in all different directions.

Players each individually pick a tunnel to venture down at the start of the game.

The tunnel system will be randomly generated as players flip tiles that show what’s in the room. Kind of like Betrayal at House on the Hill if any of you have played that.


The symbol shown on the tile will tell the player to encounter a card from either the treasure deck or the event deck. The treasure deck is pretty self-explanatory it is made up of weapons, potions, equipment, etc, the event deck on the other hand will be more random, including curses, enemies, strangers, pets, other stuff. There will also be a few tiles that have specific things that only happen there, like a pit fall, or a treasure room.

The combat system will be much the same as in Talisman, with if the player has to use magic or strength to beat it written on the card. The player then rolls a dice along with the monster (played by one of the other players) and adds their number for that stat to it, the player/monster with the most points wins. If a player loses they must take off a life point (obviously if a player gets to zero life they die). A player may choose though to not fight the enemy at all and can choose to run away, on a four, five, or six the player succeeds, if they fail the enemy catches them and they lose a life.


Back to the objective of the game, players are trying to get themselves ready for defeating the boss (which I’ll talk about soon), to do this players are trying to level up. To level up players need to defeat monsters, for every monster a player kills, the player will go up a level. W   hen a player goes up a level they choose one of their stats to increase by one. There will also be random encounters that will give players the possibility of gaining levels by other means.

The Boss

The final boss will arrive after a certain amount of turns, and will draw all of the players back to the entrance of the mine for the final battle. Now is when all players really are working as a team, as you combine all of your power to try and defeat the boss.

There are different bosses that players can fight against for different difficulties, this will be evident by the colour of the boss card when its face down. Green=Beginners, Yellow=Skilled, Red= Expert. The amount of rounds it takes for the boss to appear will be shown on the back of the card, with a different amount of rounds for the number of players.

The bosses will all have different special ability’s that will be written on the cards, this might be special attacks or maybe a resistance to a type of attack.

The combat system will be much the same as in Talisman, with if the player has to use magic or strength to beat it written on the card.

To defeat the boss it will be pretty much the same as a normal monster but it will have stats for both Strength and Magic, with players having to best it in both.

That’s what I’ve got so far, I hope it makes sense.