Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Unsuspecting Victims (I mean, New Players)

A change of job means that I no longer have time for painting and model making. However I can still fit in the occasional game!

After indoctrinating Brendan into the mysteries of Frostgrave, he and a handful of others expressed an interest in having another bash. An afternoon was arranged and, after roping in Giles, we were able to knock up a couple of tables.

Giles treated Keith and Rob (playing Chronomancer, Elementalist and I can't remember the other one) to his amazing Mordheim scenery and, borrowing my statues, played the Mausoleum scenario.

Brendan and I faced off once more (Beagoo the Orc Witch and Sister Sans-Serif the Sigilist respectively); this time joined by Glyn and his Elementalist Gerant the Magnificent. I thought it'd be fun to have us battle over the Well of Dreams and Sorrows.

Newbie lesson number one: when a wandering monster turns up, it is invariably behind you. Thankfully my warband was able to mob the ghoul (my apprentice having failed to control it).

Newbie lesson number two: group activation is very useful, as Gerant discovers. Having all started off with level zero wizards, we had great fun watching them completely fail to cast spells.

Beagoo the Witch skulks behind cover. Newbie lesson number three: don't get shot! Sans-Serif didn't have this problem after successfully casting Wizard Eye (about the only time she managed to cast a spell!)

On the other table, similar lessons were being learned as statues sprang to life, spells were fluffed and blows were struck.

We were a little more restrained, content to exchange the occasional shot as we cautiously advanced. Beagoo slowed down my warband with a Mud spell.

However this did not deter Sans-Serif from reaching the well and taking a sip. This left her very exposed, but thankfully the arrows thudded harmlessly into the icy ground.

Newbie lesson number four: placing your archers in high-up positions can bring them very close to shooting your opponent's wizard when they spend time faffing about near magical pools.

Gerant continued to look for treasure, having killed a lurking wolf (see lesson one). Would he be the next wizard to reach the fabled well?

The carnage continues on the other table, with at least one warband losing both spellcasters and nearly being wiped out.

Time to teach these newbies lesson number five: even the lowliest thug can be deadly. My warband brings the fight to the Greenskins.

Although this doesn't stop Beagoo from having a wee dram of magical water. At this stage my apprentice had nearly killed herself by failing to cast spells, and my wizard was faring only slightly better.

Combat continued between Sigilist and Witch warbands as the Elementalist band lurked nearby. Three-way games can be carnage! Here endeth newbie lesson number six.

Newbie lesson number seven: don't put your apprentices in harm's way - replacing them is both expensive and annoying. Gerant's apprentice is punctured by an Orcish arrow.

Despite this setback, Gerant reached the well, having seen off my warhound. However one of my thugs wanted to earn his spurs - what better way than to kill a wizard?

Yup, that'll do it. From henceforth you shall be known as Brian the Wizard-Slayer! Alas Brian the Wizard-Slayer quickly became Brian the Dead, after an Elementalist man-at-arms repaid the compliment.

Time for the Greenskins to lose a spellcaster. The Witch apprentice, having being rashly moved into view by a Leap spell, gets shot by an Elementalist archer.

Time for the survivors to limp back with whatever treasure they could carry. Sans-Serif got four, Beagoo got three and Gerant bagged a brace. Thankfully all spellcasters who went down survived their survival rolls, and so live to fight another day.

A very enjoyable day was had by all (on the other table they even had time to fit in another basic head-to-head while we finished off, but I didn't take any photos of that) and we're looking forward to next time!

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Aeon Flixx and the Telescopes of Terror (featuring the Sinister Stones)

A lifeless plain rendered black by a void-riven sky; a vast sea of sand dunes blasted by merciless suns; a cyclopean cave, made crazy by a cavalcade of luminous insects; a huge, shattered chamber, lost for centuries under a cataclysm of ice.

Aeon’s head swam as the pictures flickered in her head like a broken holo-screen. She closed her eyes, forcing her mind to concentrate on the here and now.

“Yes, this is the place,” she said, voice thick with effort.

Concentrating, she traced out the crazy lines of magic, arcing from one device to the next in random patterns. Battered optical devices beamed strange forms onto the rubble floor whilst eldritch stones glowed with strange energy as odd shadows moved in and out of existence.

Beside her, Brunhilde the apprentice frowned.

“But I see nothing but junk mistress.”

“Ah yes, that may be the case, but one woman’s junk is another woman’s ticket to her own time-stream.”

Aeon paused.

“Okay, so it’s not the pithiest of sayings…”

Following the epic rescue of the prince, Giles and I turned to the penultimate scenario of the Forgotten Pacts expansion. With the two greater demons thwarted, it’s time to find our way home in the Chamber of Horrors! This scenario calls for three telescopes per player. Giles duly brought three nice models, but, as I haven’t got around to making any yet, I used three of my magic rune stones instead.

Aeon Flixx and her band bunched up in the centre of her chosen table edge. The scenario states that models can only exit through trapdoors/stairs (one to be placed by each player). However we couldn’t find where we were supposed to enter the board, so we stuck to table edges.

Aeon’s old adversary Shazam(!) the Illusionist appeared opposite, and was immediately threatened by a giant worm that had slithered up into the chamber after treasure had been claimed (very possessive creatures in Felstad aren’t they?)

As the terrain was reasonably open (this scenario states that there should be nothing taller than a single level), Shazam conjured up a wall of fog to screen himself from the barrage of elemental bolts sent his way by the Chronomancers.

Making his situation even more difficult, a minor demon had also crawled into the building, joining it’s wormy friend in hunting down the Illusionist’s warriors. Thankfully the balance was soon restored thanks to a sword thrust or two.

Suddenly one of the telescopes shimmered into life. The scenario allows the player with the lowest initiative to nominate a device to activate. If he then rolls high enough, he can roll on a table to see what demon materialises. In this case it’s a hard-shelled Grakyura.

In addition to avoiding demons and picking up treasure, the name of the game was to disable as many devices as possible by spending an action in contact with one. One of Aeon’s archers quickly fulfilled this role while Brunhilde blasted an enemy soldier with an elemental bolt (there was to be no Chronomancer's finesse in this game, just lots of blasting!)

On the right flank, it was Aeon’s turn to have her soldiers shot down, while her lowly thief is relieved of treasure by the enemy treasure hunter – both living up to their job descriptions!

At Shazam’s rear, the worm is finally turned. By now most of the devices had been disabled, having projected few demons into the fray, thanks to some low dice rolls.

The Grakyura continued to cause havoc among the Illusionist’s warriors however, grabbing them with it’s mighty claws and flinging them away before moving back into combat.

Another demon, this time a burrowing multi-headed Toravor, scrambled out of a portal as another device flickered into life. Aeon’s warhound attempted to head it off.

Grey Leopard the captain attempted to rush to the thief’s aid on the right flank, but arrived too late to save her. Outnumbered he wisely backed off, allowing his opponents to claim the treasure.

The Toravor was pushed back by the warhound before being shot down with an elemental bolt. All but one of the devices had now been disabled and Aeon had managed to grab the lion’s share of the treasure.

Meanwhile, Shazam’s soldiers were still contending with the Grakyura. Their master was doing his best to cover his movements with fog, lest he ended up crispier than anticipated.

On the right flank, the enemy apprentice and his companions guarded their treasure against Grey Leopard. With renewed confidence he faced them off, knowing that his comrades were moving up in support.

On the left, the demon hunter and archer were moving up around the fog bank as part of an impromptu pincer movement (no doubt inspired by the Grakyura.)

More of the Illusionist’s followers were flung around and dispatched by the demon. With Aeon’s warband closing in fast, it was time to disappear down the nearest trapdoor and make his escape.

With the captain closing in on one side and the demon hunter the other, Shazam’s apprentice requested a parlay. In return for their lives, they would forfeit their hard-won treasure.

With the lion’s share of treasures and less casualties under her belt, Aeon claimed the victory, having also disabled more of the gizmos than her opponent. It was another fun game, although it would have probably been more of a challenge if we hadn’t disabled the devices so quickly or they had spewed out more demons. I was also lucky that those that did appear arrived nearer Giles' warband than mine!

While her comrades celebrated a bumper haul of treasure, Aeon Flixx, Chronomancer, sat alone in a small workshop. Eyeglass in place over her more aged eye, she peered into the innards of one of the devices taken from the fabled building.

“Ah yes, I see…”

She looked up as Brunhilde approached, smiling at her quizzical expression.

“You did well today dearie – your aim is very good.”

The apprentice bowed.

“Thank you mistress. I take it your research is successful?”

“Indeed it is. Given a little tinkering I believe this stuff could replace the burnt-out circuitry of my capsule, but I still lack a useable power source for the temporal positioning locator.”

She turned to make a few adjustments to the lash-up of arcane machinery she had built, oblivious to Brunhilde’s look of total incomprehension.

“However, due to the Celestial Telescope I’ve been able to buy thanks to a certain grateful prince; I have pinpointed the exact location of such a source. Saddle up the horses my dear – we ride at dawn!”

“Er, we don’t have any horses mistress.”

“It’s an expression dear…”

Monday, 14 October 2019

Aeon Flixx and the Imperilled Prince

For Chronomancers, time does not move in a neat, evenly spaced line. Days and adventures may whizz by at speed and then, seemingly, it is a whole year since the last expedition into the frozen city.

Or perhaps it just took that damn long to decipher the hieroglyphics copied down from the mystical pillars.

Either way, the work was now done and the location, time and date of the terrible ritual that would summon forth the evil demon Tszisirain was ascertained. The time had come to venture forth once more and put a stop to such blasphemy, for if Aeon Flixx were to sit by and do nothing, then the rapacious appetite of the monster would be unleashed upon the world, both in the present and the future…

And so, as Giles and I met up to play the 'Rescue the Prince!' scenario from Forgotten Pacts, Aeon Flixx finally stepped back onto Felstatian ground after about a year’s wait! The table was duly laid, with the barbarian Summoner Balkren and his princely captive in the centre, while a 6” square is marked off at each corner by a sinister Chilopendra.

Aeon Flixx led some of her warband through the rubble on the left. If they were to stop Balkren, they must first destroy the demons that formed the cornerstones of a protective forcefield. If they took too long, then the ritual would be completed, unleashing the terrible monster.

Brunhilde the apprentice also advanced, from roughly the centre of the board edge. On the far right, the two archers were poised to climb up the only elevated part of the battlefield. Hopefully this would give them a good line of sight, not only to the demons, but also the Illusionist Shazam and his band, which deployed opposite.

However Balkren had already arranged for some backup in the form of some formidable barbarian berserkers. These would come on from a random table edge at the beginning of each creature phase (regular readers will know that I use Bugbears for my berserkers).

Of course there was also treasure to be had (including revealed secrets and fool’s gold). Such trinkets were always jealously guarded by wandering creatures and today was no exception. A Grakyura waddled onto the table, looking for victims to smash. To make matters worse it was soon joined by another minor demon – both creatures appearing on the right-hand edge.

Aeon’s warriors , in this case a thug and the captain Grey Leopard, slew a berserker, enabling one of the thieves to claim the treasure nearby. The Chronomancer’s aim was to free up an area of space so that she could pick off the Chilopendra.

Shazam’s men also advanced, but ran into the combined threat of the Grakyura and berserker. For their part, the Chilopendra stood motionless, maintaining the forcefield that protected Balkren.

The Illusionist’s band tried their best to put a stop to this, attacking one of the demons. Alas to the cost of one of their number (who was also carrying treasure).

Aeon went for a less direct approach, although she had kitted out all her warriors with magical weapons, first blood (or ichor) went to the demon hunter, who shot down a Chilopendra, thus breaking the forcefield.

After a tense battle, Shazam’s men evened the score by slaying another demon. The way to the central altar was open, but who would get there first?

Things became a little more complicated when a berserker charged in from the left, threatening the Chronomancer’s position. It was up the the captain and the apothecary to fight off the barbarian.

The opposite side was also having issues, as the Grakyura and berserker combo continued to make trouble as they ploughed their way through Shazam’s band.

The Illusionist himself, however, was unperturbed. Racing forward with his templar, the pair attacked the evil wizard Balkren, slaying him before he could plunge his magic dagger into the hapless prince. The monstrous Tszisirain would not be making an appearance today!

It would be but a small matter to untie the prince and claim complete victory, but Aeon had other ideas. As the thug she had dispatched to carry the fellow off would not make it in time, she resorted to telekinesis to rescue him (I must confess to being a bit ‘gamey’ here. The scenario stated that the prince should be treated as treasure, so why not use telekinesis?)

Shazam, having slain Balkren, could now at least claim his magical Blade of Feasting. To cover his movements, he laid down a blanket of fog to screen himself from any pesky arrows or elemental bolts.

Freed from maintaining the forcefield, a Chilopendra charged at Brunhilde and her team, hoping to gore the apprentice with it’s horns. Thankfully it did not succeed in this.

With a spectacular thrust of is sword, the enemy captain took the honour of finishing off the final Chilopendra, although other monsters lurked threateningly nearby.

The battle was joined around the now vacant altar. Could both sides disengage themselves from the carnage with a decent amount of treasure? As the fighting raged, more berserkers poured in.

One of Aeon’s thugs dispatched the enemy treasure hunter with spectacular ease! However, with barbarian berserkers and demons rampaging around, it was time to begin a withdrawal.

Grey Leopard the captain fell under the barbarian onslaught, leaving the plucky apothecary to fight the ruffians alone until reinforcements arrived.

Shazam’s fighters were also holding their own against the barbarian tide. Magnificent victories were won, but they still could not defeat that pesky Grakyura.

Having failed to hit anything throughout the game, the archers descended to ground level to help clear the right flank of demons, raising their daggers in support of the lone thug.

Eventually the apothecary succumbed to the violent blows of the berserkers, so it was up to the warhound to finish the battle. All that remained was for both sides to make their escape and tend to their wounded.

It was a great game, with both warbands suffering casualties. While dispatching the Chilopendra and killing Balkren happened well within the time limit, the constant trickle of berserkers made the game a very tricky one. While Aeon could claim to have rescued the prince (and thus earn a nice reward in gold), Shazam(!) was declared the winner for having not only slayed the evil Summoner, thus preventing the cataclysm that would result in the major demon’s appearance, but also taking his magical blade.

“A great deed has been done this day. The monster that would consume it’s way through the centuries has not been summoned. Your task, dear Aeon, is at an end…”

“…but alas,” Mother Synchronous shook her head, “it is clear by your continued presence that returning to your own time is not as simple as we had hoped.”

“Yes… so it seems…” Aeon sighed, flopping down into her armchair and helping herself to a generous glass of wine. “And my own time capsule is, I fear, beyond repair…”

The air grew still and silent, until:

“Perhaps I can be of assistance, noble sorceresses.”

It was the prince, who, sitting up, swung his legs woozily off the bed on which he rested.

“My people know of a legend – a tale of a great tower.” He ignored their sceptical looks. “Not just any tower mind you, but a place reported to hold many marvels, including, it is said, strange portals to other worlds…” 

He paused, making sure that all eyes were on him.

”… and other times…”