Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Throwback Attack - Warhammer 40k AAR

This week, I hope you'll allow me a little trip down memory lane.

Back in 2008, I had just recently entered the wargaming hobby in a way that I'm sure many can relate too - with a small collection of Warhammer 40k miniatures from Games Workshop. I was collecting Space Marines - plain, vanilla Marines, nothing fancy - back in the heyday of 5th Edition. My friend Curt, who's miniatures have appeared on the blog before, had started collecting before me, and had amassed a decent mob of Orks. 

Back in those days, we didn't have painted miniatures, or decent terrain. We played with our grey toy soldiers on battlefields made from books and LEGO structures, on a pool table in Curt's basement. The hobby was new to us, completely fresh, and we didn't mind that our games looked nothing like the intricately detailed pictures in the 5th Edition rulebook. 

Time having moved on, Curt and I don't really play 40k anymore. My Marines have been sold and are hopefully in someone else's collection now. Curt still has his Orks, but they mostly reside in boxes along with some Catachans and Chaos Marines. I haven't really played 40k since 5th, and while Curt has the 6th Edition rulebook, it has really only been thumbed through more out of curiosity than any serious use. 

So when Curt expressed an interest in having a small game of 40k (750 points max), I agreed. And we made sure to make the game as much like the old days as possible.

Curt was using the 6th Edition Codex for his Chaos Marines. He took a Chaos Lord, a Chaos Marines Squad, a Cultist squad, a Thousand Sons squad, and a Chaos Predator with an autocannon and lascannon sponsons. 

I played as the Orks, using Curt's increasingly ragged 5th Edition codex. I had a Warboss, two big mobs of Boyz - one with Sluggas, Choppas, and Rokkits, the other with Shootas and Big Shootas - and two small squads of Lootas and Warbikes.

The battlefield was... well, let's say it was nostalgic, resembling the battlefields of our teen years. We were deploying lengthwise, with five objective markers scattered across the table. 

The Ork deployment saw the Warbikes take up one flank, and the Shoota mob on the other. A phalanx of Choppa boyz lined up for an advance up the middle, while the Lootas took advantage of the long, flat elevation. A decidedly cowardly Warboss hid behind a six-pack carton.

The forces of Chaos arrayed themselves to take advantage of their superior shooting. The Predator lined up against the Warbikes, and the Chaos Lord, Marines, and Thousand Sons deployed forward. The Cultists, only wielding autopistols, cowered behind the intervening terrain.

I had managed to get the first turn, which was fairly important, as a lot of the Ork's strengths rely on getting into close combat, and the table had fairly open lanes of fire that Curt's Chaos forces could shoot down. Of course, that meant that Curt was nearly guaranteed to seize the initiative from me. Which he did.

My Orks slowly advanced up the table, under covering from from the Lootas and the Shoota boyz. It would be a reoccurring problem for me in this game that I would forget all about the Warboss, and so he didn't get much use - or any at all, really. 

Curt's two squads of Marines held the line, firing into my mobs, while his Predator picked off my warbikers turn by turn. I'm also being forced, at his insistence, to make mention that he did make the first kill, and so received First Blood. 

My phalanx of Choppa boyz slowly trudged their way forward into the hail of bolter shells. I had decided to take two mobs of thirty boyz each, meaning I could afford a few casualties. The Thousand Sons squad (in all silver) was also preoccupied by the other approaching ork mob. 

My boyz finally closed and decided to get a good crumpin' in on the Chaos Marines. The Chaos Lord decided to opt out of the combat. The duel between the Aspiring Champion and my Nob (er...) ended with the Champion being torn in two by the Nob's power klaw, and the massive amount of dice I ended up rolling for the ork close combat attacks resulted in all but two of the rest of the Marines dead and fleeing. 

Curt's Predator had, with sniper-like accuracy, managed to reduce my Warbike squad down to just the Nob. Curt's Marines weren't doing quite as well, with the Thousand Sons squad staring down the various sized barrels of a number of Shootas and Big Shootas.

The Chaos Lord attempted to intercept the Nob Biker, but both missed with their attacks. The Thousand Sons continued to fall back, with a Rubric Marine periodically falling to the dense cloud of incoming lead. 

My Choppa mob decided to get stuck in with the Chaos Lord, who finally went down. Freed up from combat, the Nob warbiker drove up to the Predator and hit it with several Immobilization and Weapon Destroyed results. 

We decided to call the game then, as Curt had run out of units and we had both run out of beer.

The game was fun - if a little confusing, thanks to our mixing of 5th and 6th Edition rules - and it was also inspiring in a way. I'm currently rooting through the house for cardboard and other little items that can be used for ruins if we decide to play again. Hopefully I'll have an update on that soon.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Dungeon Runs Through It - Palasé Dungeon Crawl 2015, Part 2

This is a continuation of last week's post

Having found their way down the waterfall, Lady Clothilde and the rest of her band made their way around the side of the lake and into a room cloaked in magical mist. They found what appeared to be a small urn constantly filling with some sort of red liquid...

The Imperial troops found a large pile of gold and a magical portal. They began to debate the merits (and dangers) of passing through. 

One of the adventuring parties (and apologies, but their name has unfortauntely slipped my mind) lost a man to a giant face in the wall. He walked in of his own choice - heavily weighted by his fellows, of course - and failed to reappear. Not wanting to lose more of her men, the player sent her warband to investigate a pile of treasure on the other side of a rickety-looking bridge. Unexpectedly for one of Bob's games, it wasn't trapped.

The pirate goblins drifted closer towards my Salvage Company, but managed to anger a tribe of troglodytes. Their poisoned darts killed one of the crew members, who fell overboard and sunk into the murky depths. 

A second Wall of Flame sent pirates into the drink, along with a few of the other goblin gang who had crawled their way onboard. The magical boat kept drifting towards the dock, albeit with a few new passengers. 

Senator Rudiger and his men found a magical talking door that posed to them a riddle. They solved it quite handily - the answer was "Thirst" - and inside they found a magical orb. Quite the find!

The pirate captain and his first mate struggled to get over to the edge of the water, where there was a small ledge they could stand on. Deciding to investigate a small alcove, they found the nesting site of the troglodytes, including a mass of slimy eggs! This angered the dungeon dwellers, and the two goblins were swiftly turned into poison-filled pincushions. 

The dwarves had managed to find a Ring of Teleportation (that would only short out on a roll of 1 or 2 on a d20) so they started to hop around the dungeon in search of treasure. One of their finds, a large chest, acted like a portable mega-flashlight.

As it turned out, the 'Brian' I found was actually Brian van Hoose, of Knights of the Dinner Table fame, who decided to break character and offer me help in the form of a loophole or cheat with the rules. This was just at the moment when the magical boat drifted over the dock, and the goblins attacked. Brian's cheat came in handy, and for a few moments the goblins took damage from their own infighting. Unfortunately my archer took a goblin dagger to the stomach and died. 

Still curious about the man-eating face, the remaining adventures decided to go back and enter. They were transported to another section of the dungeon and reunited with the previously lost member, who had been quite worried after sitting in the dark all by himself for some time. 

One of the surviving goblins, clutching at a pillar of rocks rising from the water, was astonished to find a blue-skinned woman looking down at him. She asked him to retrieve a certain scroll from another area in the dungeon, and offered a reward. 

In a somewhat nostalgic moment, the dwarves used their Scroll of Fireball (remember that from last time?) to attack another warband, managing to kill four of them. Unfortunately, one of the dwarves had activated a trap, and had been killed when a giant bear-trap closed on him.  

An unfortunately timed 'Plot Card' - you'll remember them from some of Bob's other games - caused the magical boat to sink. The remaining goblins and the thief and fighter from my party end up in the water. 

One of the remaining goblins from the non-pirate crew saw the commotion involving the dwarves and decided that he wanted to get in on the action against his race's ancient enemies. Looking over his spell list, he decided to summon a swarm of spiders. What he got instead was a sea monster! 'Nessie' quickly laid into the dwarves, who hadn't been expecting an attack from the lake. 

Remarkably, another toot on the horn at the dock brought the magical ship back up from the depths of the lake. My men clambered back on, leaving the goblins behind. 

Lady Clothilde's group emerged from the mist - after battling a undead horror that had killed a large part of their party - only to find one of their party members had been murdered by goblins while guarding a raft. They decided to attack!

The last remaining goblin swam over to the other side of the lake and discovered a discarded urn on a pile of rocks. This urn contained a genie, who promised the goblin three wishes, and then his destruction. For the first wish, the goblin asked for the genie to disappear after the second wish. There was a moment of silence, then laughter as everyone realized this meant no third wish. 

So for his second wish, the goblin asked for his crew to be returned to life, and to have their boat back. Apparently feeling magnanimous, the genie did so without any twists. It then disappeared, taking the surprised goblin with him. I expect we'll see the two in some other game.

Another player forced his way into the sealed room in the picture above and found that it contained ghostly hounds and a pyramidal crystal. A mad dash for the crystal revealed that it, like other features in the dungeon, sent the touching party member... somewhere else. He wasn't seen again.

The last struggle of the game was between the Empire warband and the summoned lake monster. I also threw my remaining party members into the fight, but it seemed as though Nessie had the upper hand. 

At the conclusion of the game, it was determined that the dwarves had gathered the most loot, thanks in large part to the ring of teleportation they had found. 

Like all of Bob's community game, this dungeon crawl was full on unexpected surprises and some pretty funny moments. I'm eagerly waiting for the next level of the dungeon to be found, hopefully sometime next year. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Dungeon Runs Through It - Palasé Dungeon Crawl 2015, Part 1

Hello, and happy new year! I'm hoping everybody had a great holiday season.

Just as an aside, By Brush and Sword is now two years old! Hooray!

Almost a year ago, I wrote a blog post detailing one of Bob's community games. It was a massive dungeon crawl, filled to the brim with dangerous monsters, deadly traps, and plenty of backstabbing (and frontstabbing) from the players. 

Well, the time came once again when, thanks to the drunken exclamations of a pair of men in a local tavern, word got out that another level of the infamous Palasé Dungeon had been discovered. With the dungeon's predilection to somehow accumulating fantastic amounts of wealth in coins, jewels, important artifacts and magical items, it didn't take long for a number of dungeon-delving salvage crews to make their way down to the newest level. 

The stage was set for another rumble in the dungeon!

Last year's game featured a dungeon with plenty of rooms and constructed hallways. This year's offering was vastly different, and was fairly eye-catching from across the game store. A large part of the level of the dungeon was covered in murky water, whose depths swirled with both currents and things best unseen, flowing from left to right. While the left half of the table did have some of the classical dungeon features, the right side was dominated by a small lake. The level was dotted with a number of boats, whose use would be critical during the game. Bob also had a number of areas hidden from view, which could only have meant they contained important treasures. 

All the familiar faces from last year's game made a return, and now the goblins were options as playable characters.

Both goblin groups began the game afloat, with the pirate crew showing off a rather imposing cannon...

The other groups started in scattered locations all around the right side of the table, some uncomfortably close for comfort.  My Salvage Company Squad began the game close to the shore of the underground lake. 

The game began in a usual chaotic fashion with Lady Clothilde's party opening a grate in the sewer floor. What emerged was a pack (or a lobe?) of grells! The monsters were swiftly dispatched, although now without dealing out a few scratches to the adventurers. 

The dwarves of the Elderberg Expedition used their innate senses (and their eyes, as it was placed right in front of them) to find a pile of treasure near their entrance. However, a ghastly ghost - or a ghostly ghast - appeared and the dwarves fled. 

The Salvage Company Squad found what appeared to be a dock on the edge of the massive lake, with several odd features - a magical rune, a trapdoor and a horn. My mage sensed that some sort of powerful magic waited just around the corner. But not wanting to get his robes wet, he sent one of his lackeys. 

The source of the magic turned out to be a flying shield! Not only was it worth 5,000 gold pieces, but it also hovered around a person, giving him a defensive boost in combat. 

A warband from the Imperial Army had also descended into the dungeon, and their leader's eye was quickly caught by a strange looking fountain that burbled quietly in a dark recess. 

One of Clothilde's men - the Torchbearer, in fact - thought to make his way down the slimy waterfall to reach the lower depths of the dungeon level. Unfortunately, staring at his torch for so long meant the man's vision in the sudden darkness was rather rubbish, and he slipped and fell to his death. Luckily he had passed his torch on to another member of his party, so it wasn't extinguished when his body hit the shallow pool at the bottom. Senator Rudiger and his men watched on. 

The goblins decided to announce their presence by launching a cannonball and a fireball at the Salvage Company, killing their torchbearer! Luckily, his body was useful as a larger torch. 

The goblin's victory was short lived when the Salvage Company's mage cast a Wall of Fire directly on top of one of their ships. While the goblins managed to make it into the water, slight singed, their boat was less lucky. It caught fire and started to sink. Meanwhile, another boat appeared from the darkness, apparently summoned from the horn on the dock. The goblins, sputtering and splashing, couldn't believe their luck - another boat had appeared, ready to be boarded. 

And decided that now was better than never, the Salve Company thief opened up the trapdoor to reveal and man named Brian!

Yes, I know. Bob said he couldn't believe the coincidence either.

Well, that it's for part 1. Part 2 will be up next week, and we'll see how the exploration of the dungeons goes on.