Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Treasure in the woods...

Since the man from Harsten had come, the missing cattle had been found, all reckonings had been tallied and paid and the man had disappeared with as much aplomb as he had arrived.  It had been a busy week or so at the Tepid cup.  With purses full and palms freshly greased the ale had flowed as freely as something that costs a very reasonable price per flagon can.

Talk of the successes of the Crump Troubadours and the Order of the Wild Wood were much celebrated; their small victories told and retold.  The poor and feckless Marrow Raiders, their purses filled with more fluff than coin, had to nurse their drinks and swallow the jibes and slings that barbed them for their general uselessness in the cattle raid that had become so much the toast of the bar.

They took it like a quiet wound, a hurt that cut them, but they wouldn't stoop to mumble about.  Well, all of them except for Willy the Fist; it's ironic that the smallest of a bunch is often the most belligerent.  Willy ‘The Fist’ had the quick eyes and restless hands of a troublemaker.  While the Wrecking Machine had hands that could make short work of skulls and likely even coconuts, Willy ‘The Fist’ was not so naturally gifted with strength or size.  He was diminutive, smaller than average, but quick.  He also suffered from Small Person Syndrome, a regularly near terminal case of it.  He liked a challenge, he was the sort of rogue that pick pocketed pick pockets and started fights with people in groups.  In short he was a bastard.

If it hadn't been for the timely recollections of the barman, who was overcome with a sudden desire to lean into the limelight and procure as much attention as the lack of sobriety would allow him to filch, it could have gone very badly at the Tepid Cup.  Luckily, as it was, Ralph was a man who much liked thieve attention.  He was the sort of thief that liked to wait till the flames of whatever blaze had gathered everyones attention had died to nought but glowing embers before stepping in.  That perfectly timed coup, where those besotted with one thing find themselves suddenly overtalked on that subject and are just starting to cast about for something else to discuss - that is when Ralph the barman would strike.

Finding a silent pause loud enough to fill with your own distinct noise is hard enough in a bar, but Ralph was the sort who managed it every time.  After a last telling of the Rustling had died away, and the bar was full of sniffs, shrugs and staring into near empty mugs, as Willy the Fist had begun to cast about for someone big enough to pick a fight with, Ralph leaned in...

"Course, there's still the silver they managed to got."

The Badger shuddered at the sentence; for grammar was a sore point.

"They been stealing and selling cattle for what, a couple'a month or more.  Talk says there's still bags o' coin buried away up there, awaiting them come back."

And that started it.  A day of excited chatter, hurried preparations and rushed plans.  The Crump Troubadours and Order of the Wild Wood left that afternoon, making their way toward the Blackwood along the roads, quiet and confident.

Willy the Fist had stayed in drinking, and with a bastards eye had watched them go.  He grinned a thugs grin, roused himself from his seat, sniffed, and with the Marrow Raiders in tow, headed by thieves trails into the woods.  They'd be damned if they'd be the laughing stock this time, anyone who was going to laugh at them was going to do so through a mouth filled with missing teeth...

To each their own... the Order of the Wild Wood are in the foreground, while the Crump Troubadours are far left, and the Marrow Raiders far right.

After finding again the base of operations, the three bands set-up and prepare to get in and get what they can.  Some early luck on the part of the Order of the Wild Wood put some of their members far forward, within searching distance of the rumours...

The gems were rumours, while the chests were treasures... the Order of the Wild Wood managed to get first pick of both...

A Ring of Flying?  Were Badgers ever meant to wield such powers?

The Order of the Wild Wood seemed poised to take the day...

Ahh, but the Marrow Raiders wouldn't be so easily dismissed...


Some quick arrows loosed... while little damage was caused the poor Hedgehog was knocked down.  It was a warning shot of what might be to come...

Never tangle with a mouse in a fine orange cloak!

While the photos stop there they fail to catalogue the imminent arrival of a flying badger on the left wing. The general failure of all the Crump Troubadours bar their new wolf - which was most effective. And the resurgence of the Marrow Raiders, who after a tussle on the hill managed to steal away with more gold and glory than the either of the other bands.

Every dog has it's day...


The second of the three scenarios I had planned.  We never managed to get their third played - so hopefully that one is still to be fought.

The starting zones were the points of a triangle, while all the treasures were positioned equally between all the forces - so treasures roughly half way along each of the sides of the imagined triangle - as well as some in the middle.  There were four treasures, and a bunch of gems that represented rumours - moving into contact with those meant a roll of the dice - on a 5 or 6 they yielded some treasure, otherwise nothing.  Teams that found nothing took the gem, and would receive a +1 on their next rumour roll.

There was less combat than we expected, again the game was driven by positional play, with all of those figures forward earning treasure, and becoming too valuable to potentially throw away in combat.  Had any of us had a good quality long range archer it could have been very different.

This game was a lot of fun, though the luck of the dice turned this time against the Crump Troubadours, they still managed to end the game with more than they started.

If I set this up again I would have one change to how it worked.  The rumours quickly disappeared - so I would have made the rule that any rumour that was not treasure could be replaced into any empty terrain feature of the players choosing - I think that could have added a fun twist to the game.

In any case - the game was fun!  Here's looking forward to the next engagement!


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Rustling rustlers...

Rumours at the Tepid Cup, a secluded inn on the road to Harsten, with a reputation for having a reputation, swirled around the bar room like heirs around a dying monarch.  Most of them started with Ralph, the publican.  They started with Ralph because they would usually end with Ralph leaning over the bar telling his whispered hearsay over and again; he was a man who liked the sound of his own dramatic whisper and had a positive penchant for leaning.

The rumours of the past week flowed as free as ale, which is to say that for a fistful of copper coins one could partake their fill of both.  Cattle had been raided from farms outlying Harsten, there were brigands in the Dark Wood; cattle thieves hiding up and away in the forest.  Ralph rather enjoyed repeating his joke; that he had heard rustling in the woods.

That's what they were and what they remained, rumours and idle jokes oft repeated. That is until the tall man from Harsten came offering real coin for any familiar with the Dark Wood who could return the stolen cattle and stop the forest rustling.

Three intrepid bands set out to claim their share of what they could.  
A run-down farmstead with signs of recent repairs? 
What ho? What be those bovine-like creatures there in that pen?
The three groups came at the farm from different angles, each trying to make off with as many of the cattle as they could, the tall man of Harsten would pay well for each head returned, as long as the body was returned as well, and everything seemed in functioning order.

The first moves are made, with as quick and cautious a foot as could be laid...
Searching the old farm houses found no trace of the rustlers...
A group led by Lord Tuffington, known only as the 'Crump Troubadours', made for the old farm houses in the hope of finding rustlers or loot, or both.  The cattle thieves had left signs of a hasty departure, and a search yielded some stashed coin, enough to make the effort worthwhile.

All very cautious... trying to avoid getting bogged down in fighting while there was loot to be had.
'The Order of the Wild Wood', led by Badger (who else?) made the first  attempts to secure the pen, or at least as many of the cattle as they could safely lead away.

In, grab, run.  Get away with as much loot (well, cows) as plausible and safe...
Sadly, the Crump Troubadours and the Order of the Wild Wood raced into action too quickly for the lumping likes of the 'Wrecking Machine' and 'Willy The Fist' members of the group known as 'The Marrow Raiders' - who managed after some time to nab one misbegotten and emaciated old cow the others had left behind as too shabby.

To the victorious go the spoils... the Crump Troubadours managed to make the most hay whilst the sun shone...


So this was the first of several scenarios I designed to be three player affairs.  Each of us players had a 300 point warband, using the rules from the basic Song of Blades and Heroes Rulesbook - as well as campaign rules from Song of Deeds and Glory (both from the excellent Ganesha Games).

Each warband started in its own little deployment zone on the points of a triangle, with the goal or objective of the game (in this case being the Cattle) smack bang in the center.  The goal of the game was simple - you could move a cow if you had a member of your warband within 'short' of it, and the maximum move you could make while getting the cattle away was also 'short'.  The cattle had a combat of '0' - so theoretically one could try and kill the cattle being led by the opponents in a sort of scorched earth approach to winning the scenario.

Each cow a warband managed to return to their deployment zone was worth D6x5 gold.  

As it played out there was no combat at all, aside, I think, from the odd ranged shot.  This didn't mean the scenario was uninteresting however - we all avoided combat, wanting to get away with as much as we could as quickly as we could.  Our better quality models were quickly moved into position, and this positional play was a tense little dance.  It would have been interesting if one or all of us had a better quality long range archer, but as it stood it was an interesting and fun game.

As a three player scenario it worked well, the poor 'Marrow Raiders' didn't manage to achieve much, and this mainly due to some poor rolling.  From that point of view the scenario seemed relatively balanced.  In retrospect I would have positioned the terrain differently - perhaps have the cattle in a forest clearing with a few paths in.  A slightly different terrain layout may have concentrated the figures and encouraged more combat.  But despite the lack of direct conflict the game was a lot of fun, so maybe I'd leave everything as was!

I should note that the poor luck of the 'Marrow Raiders' continued after the scenario was played out.  I wrote that the warbands received a D6x5 gold, he (my brother Ewen, erstwhile brain behind the Marrow Raiders), of course rolled a '1'. 

In the Song of Deeds and Glory rules warbands go exploring between scenarios and can find interesting things and have interesting encounters.  A fun way to build a little history and sense of campaign.  The Crump Troubadours managed to encounter and recruit a wolf - useful and definitely increases their awesome factor.  I wandered into a 'blessed glade', and found a one use magic charm stone, good for one reroll.  The still wily, less successful and increasingly less optimistic Marrow Raiders rolled one less than I did and managed to stumble into a 'cursed glade' - of course it was cursed.  Hilarity ensued, jibes coming from at least two players.

At the least the Marrow Raiders managed to make good in the following scenario...  but more on that later.


Monday, 15 July 2013

The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune...

A narrow stretch of sea, dotted with islands, separated the Tsarist fleet from that of the Covenant of Antarctica.

The Russians were spread out...

With the advantage of initiative the Covenant fleet was huddled in one corner of the board.  
The Russians are famously like walnuts - hard to crack, their ablative armour serving to shield them long enough for their big guns to get in dangerously close.  With my Covenant managing to concentrate away from the spread out Russians, and with the advantage of having some much faster ships, I hoped to be able to fire off a few early salvos before they engaged, blasting away their ablative protection before my big guns engaged.

The Russian line spread out across from the concentrated Covenant force.

The forbidding Polish Zamiec airship lurking in the distance...

Without much hesitation, as the Russian fleet slowly ground forward, I sent my small fast Frigates ahead at full steam to tackle the giant Borodino.  It was a gamble, I hoped that between the three squadrons of Diogenes Frigates I'd fire off one lucky torpedo salvo that would break the ablative armour of the Russian's most fearsome battleship.  With the aid of a fistful of Bullseye cards, and some darn lucky rolling, the first strike was a success, and the linked torpedo fire of the Covenants tiny frigates managed to find a weak point in the Russian behemoth.

Their quick movement allowed them to get close enough for a damaging salvo of torpedo fire...
And some damn lucky rolling, in addition to the Borodino having a crippled generator, helped!
Part way through the first turn and I could taste the victory.  The Russian fleet's most prized fighting ship was crippled after several lucky torpedo barrages.  It could only limp forward...

And then it opened fire...

It also ran straight over the top of one of my Diogenes - shredding the poor little frigate and sending it straight to the sea floor.
The opening firestorm of death from the Borodino turned the sweet taste of victory into the ash and dusty taste of so much ruin.  My frigates perished under a withering storm of fire.  Everything within range of the Borodino was left nought but twisted, blackened, burning ruin, fire and destruction.  It was a bitter lesson, never close on a wounded bear...

Wave after wave of attacks, from my cruisers to my bombers to my dive bombers worked to bring the Borodino down, I poured everything into its ruin.  Still it came on, threatening fire and death to anything that came too close.

Finally, as my Epicurus sky fortress closed, and wave on wave of dive bombers wore it down, it succumbed.

A vanishing fire was all that remained of the Borodino... and a legacy of mass destruction...
I had brought low the giant, but in so doing had crippled my fleet.  The wounded bear, which looked so vulnerable after a lucky shot, had worked my fleet with rending claws and violence and death.  

I limped on, what remained of my cruisers swung about to face the oncoming Russian cruisers, luckily my big ships were relatively unharmed amidst all the destruction.  It was a close run thing, but eventually I managed to bring low enough of the Russian fleet to force a victory.  What remained of the Russian war machine was beat.  My gloriously victorious Covenant couldn't taste the full sweetness of victory however, we limped away, victorious, but not unwounded.

A particle accelerator to the midships and this Suvorov cruiser went down.  Just enough to break the Russians...

It was a tremendously fun game.  Already I am formulating plans for my next entanglement with the might of the Russian war machine... and I'm sure they'll be ready.


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Three players, three games, one campaign...

I want to steal/borrow/modify/design some scenarios for the upcoming weekend.  The game will be using the wonderful Song of Blades and Heroes rules, from Ganesha Games.  My wants list, my ideas:

  • All three players must be able to play each game at the same time, with equal forces, without a simplistic victory condition like: 'winner manages to wipe the most models off the table'...
I think the best way to do this will be to use objectives, markers that can be found on the field, that may or may not (on the roll of the dice) be what the player is looking for, or hoping to find.  It may be items, it may be money, it may be something else.  But there should be more than one real objective, and each 'real objective' should be something the player can use or that will benefit the player going into the next game.  

  • The three games should have some form of story arc, or be a precursor (set the scene) to a set of linked scenarios that do.  
Either these scenarios follow a story, or set the scene for a future story.  Given the time constraint I'm wondering whether the latter might be easier to accomplish, and allow for the three players (and the scenario designer) to ease into the game.

So, has anyone got any suggestions for where I might find such scenario ideas, interesting ideas, what to avoid or what might just work...

Thanks for any and all advice...

Oh - and this is a rough map of the area in which the games will take place... why? I'm not sure yet - maybe over several campaigns we'll find out...


Oh - and thanks for any advice!