Monday, 10 July 2017

Werewolves Who Keep Their Ulterior Motives

Or ‘How to Cram as Many References to a Game in a Title as Possible’.

Gaming chum Alan kindly invited me and Giles to his palatial man cave for a game of Frostrgrave last weekend. Alan wanted to try ‘The Keep’ scenario, as he hadn’t played that one yet, whilst Giles and I wanted to try out the new Ulterior Motives pack. Combine the two and who knows what will happen?

Alan had set up a table with lots of great scratchbuilt scenery and white paper disks denoting the teleportation circles. We had previously decided to field lower level warbands – each wizard roughly at level 7. With baited breath we drew our Ulterior Motives cards…

Yikes! It turns out one of my warband had been bitten by a werewolf! The beast was lurking in the centre of the board, next to a treasure-laden tower. I had to kill the creature before the end of the fourth turn or my female thug would start sprouting fur and fangs.

I fielded my Illusionist, Miss Mazement and her starter-level band of chiefly thugs, archers, thief and warhound; beefed up with a man-at-arms and a captain (regular readers will know my experience with captains so far, so this was something of a risk). We deployed in an upside-down Y shape (from my perspective), with me taking the right-hand corner, Alan (fielding Dwarf wizard Rinsesoap Washbag) the corner to my left whilst Giles (and the fiendish summoner the King in Yellow – KIY) deployed in the middle of the opposite board edge.

Giles had placed various pieces of Ulterior Motives terrain on the board, including a zombie on top of the central tower. The KIY and his band of cultists moved forward. The summoner cast the imp spell right on top of the nearest transport disk, hoping to send it into the midst of mine or Alan’s bands. However it stayed where it was, forcing one of the cultists to see it off.

Alan had also put down various terrain bits, including a strange black monolith decorated with golden runes (Giles had brought his box of freshly-painted Ulterior Motives scenery). Rinsesoap’s motley band duly advanced, snagging an early treasure token thanks to the trusty telekinesis spell.

After failing to cast a beauty spell (oh, it’s going to be one of those days again is it?), Miss Mazement sent her band forward. The archers tried to find decent high spots whilst the captain, having being given the leadership skill, took some thugs and the man-at-arms on a werewolf hunt towards the centre.

We moved forward and began to engage. Shots and long-range spells were fired and as usual I was rolling poorly. The KIY and Rinsesoap’s men had already snagged treasure, but there was a token tantalisingly ahead of my band on the right. Could I grab it?

On my left, another treasure was taken by a cultist thug, but this caught the attention of the werewolf, which charged snarling at the yellow-hooded fighter.

On my side of the table, that tantalising treasure had been snatched by another cultist before I could get my band into gear. To make matters worse, a wandering wolf, attracted by all the howling no doubt, appeared nearby. My warhound faced a dilemma: attack the treasure-carrying cultist or pounce on the wolf?

Meanwhile the werewolf chomped on the cultist and turned to the supporting warhound that the KIY had sent up to help out. They were soon joined by my thief, who had walked onto a circle and had been transported thence. Could she sneak away with the treasure while the canines were occupied?

My warhound decided to chase after the thug, leaving my own werewolf-bitten thug to face down the wolf. (Having re-read the card, I realise I should have started her -5 health – oops!) She beat the creature in one round of combat and pushed it away.

This leaved it in full view of one of Miss Mazement’s archers, who put it down. The bitten thug, free from further combat, moved up along the right flank. If the werewolf was fated to live after the fourth turn and my thug thus transformed into another, then I wanted her as far away as possible – ideally in the midst of another warband!

My warhound chased the thug into a ruined tower and attacked. However a cultist archer came in to support his fellow fanatic and, rolling low again, the hound was put down.

Various members of the opposing warbands were converging on the werewolf and it was clear that my thief would not be unable to snatch away the treasure and live to tell the tale. Why not try for the two treasures on top of the central tower then? With the zombie wandering off the way was clear, so she downed her teleport potion and ‘pop’ appeared atop the tower.

The werewolf, having chewed it’s way through a couple of cultists, headed towards another target but stood on a circle in the process. Suddenly it found itself somewhere else – right in front of Miss Mazement’s starting point! The captain and his men would have to turn around and race to catch up with it, unless they stood on the circle too…

By now I was losing the game. Both Alan and Giles had nabbed treasures, whilst I had yet to claim any. Giles had also fulfilled his ulterior motive by slaying the zombie, which turned out to be a rogue homunculus. I was also rolling low again. The only ray of light was the fact that the two other wizards seemed more intent on battling each other than Miss Mazement, the occasional pot-shot notwithstanding.

The captain and co. stood on the circle and were transported to different locations. One thug reappeared out of harm’s way, another stayed where he was but the Captain and man-at-arms landed smack bang next to the werewolf!

The man-at-arms was viciously slain, as was the thug that had been left stranded. Surrounded by Rinsesoaps’s warband he had no hope of surviving.

The captain readied himself to face the lycanthropic onslaught. It was turn four – now or never… He swung his magical mace, I rolled my less-than-magical dice… a 20! The captain slew the werewolf with a critical hit, just in the nick of time!

With my objective complete, it was time to concentrate on getting treasure. Pretty much everything had been claimed, except for the two tokens on the exposed tower top in the centre. Having finally managed to cast the beauty spell, Miss Mazement took a thug onto the central ruin and headed for the tower. Her apprentice had also cast beauty and made his way hence.

The captain took a break while he cut off the werewolf’s head for a little extra bounty. On my left, the area next to the standing black stone was being contested by the other two wizards. Something of a slug-fest was developing there.

In an attempt to deprive me of the tower treasures, the cultist apothecary sneaked up a walkway whilst Rinsesoap’s bear engaged his comrades. The evil doctor reached the top, but was cut down by bone darts courtesy of Miss Mazement and her apprentice.

Fighting around the mysterious stone continued, but Rinsesoap pushed forward. Suddenly everything went dark as a beam of light shot down from the sky and hit the stone! The diminutive wizard had timed his approach well and was on hand to benefit from the eldritch magic. The rest of us weren’t so lucky, as the line of sight was now reduced to 12”, forcing me to move my archers forward.

With her opponents bedazzled by her beauty spell, my illusionist climbed to the top of the tower and bone-darted the cultist marksman. She was soon joined by the thug, wounded from being so exposed but still alive enough to grab one of the treasures.

The former would-be werewolf thug had by now reached the KIY’s flank and slew a cultist archer. The dice rolls were beginning to improve at long last! Meanwhile my apprentice had also reached the top of the central tower, also protected, by and large, by a beauty spell.

Having climbed down from his perch, one of my archers notched his bow and shot down another cultist archer. The KIY was now fighting two warbands and, having taken three treasures and killed the homunculus, was conducting a fighting withdrawal.

This was hampered however by the arrival of an ice toad and some animated skeletons, which had appeared behind his line of retreat!

The KIY was still full of fight though, sending an imp (impervious to beauty) up the tower to attack Miss Mazement. Luckily my dice rolling held and the creature was defeated.

The KIY was pulling back, summoning another imp to stall one of the armoured skeletons that had caught sight of them. Following behind was the ice toad, that had lolloped into an alleyway, cutting off that exit.

The imp managed to dispatch the armoured skeleton, leaving the KIY and his surviving cultists to evade the slow ice toad and pull back…

…right into the line of sight of a skeleton that had just arrived! Meanwhile my wounded thug, benefiting from an invisibility spell, was able to slowly drag one of the tower treasures away. The second treasure was picked up by my apprentice, who then got out of harm’s way thanks to a teleport potion.

Alas my captain, limping back with his trophy, was shot by one of Rinsesoap’s archers. One of my archers ran up to collect the severed werewolf head, but was cut off by Rinsesoap’s bear.

Time was running out, for it does not do to tarry among the ruins for too long. The KIY’s cultists finally managed to destroy a zombie summoned by Rinsesoap, thus allowing the necromancer to make his escape. Miss Mazement and her surviving band were also able to bid adieu, with their two treasures either invisible or teleported away. Alan very sportingly allowed me to keep possession of the werewolf head, rather than have my archer fight it out with his bear.

Wow, what an epic game! Giles was the clear winner, having won three treasures and fulfilling his objective. Alan and I were joint runners up, having claimed two treasures and an objective apiece. Post-game survival rolls saw everyone in my band survive, so, considering how poorly the first half of the day went for me, I went away very happy!

A fantastic day all told. Alan and the noble Lady Rita were smashing hosts and the game itself was really fun. The Ulterior Motives cards really forced us got get in amongst each other’s warbands and added a lot of spice to an already interesting scenario. This, coupled by the mayhem that always occurs in 3+ player games, made it a frantic day in the frozen city!

Giles’ game report can be read on his interesting yet informative blog, starting here.

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