Friday, April 12, 2019

Starlight, Starbright - Red Book of the Elf King AAR

Yesterday, Sam and I decided to meet up at the local community center (which turned out to be very nice, so we're planning to use it for future games!) to play our first full sized game of Red Book of the Elf King. 

We're running a four-player game this weekend (basically a regular game but with two Thanes per side), so we wanted to re-familiarize ourselves with the rules, as well as get our painted miniatures on the table. 

Sam used Vachel Goldenhand as his thane, while I used Lowic, Hero of the Ecanna. Vachel is the most combat focused Thane in the game, while Lowic is close behind in melee ability, so we thought it'd be an interesting match. 

We set the table up with some impassible and rough terrain and decided to play the Star Fall scenario. You can see the piece of starmetal at the center. Both sides start off the table and move on during the first turn. Either player's Thane need to grab the starmetal counter and move off the table by the end of turn seven, or take out the opposing player's Thane.

The complication is that the starmetal's power gives the Thane a Penalty Token at the start of the turn. A very important detail, as Sam and I were about to learn!

During the first turn both sides moved onto the table. I managed to use a Glamour (Red Book's version of spells for the Elf factions) to remove the activation tokens from my Thane and surrounding Companions, which gave me a decent headstart on moving towards the objective.

Both Thanes watched as their Companions formed shieldwalls and advanced. The starmetal sat, emanating waves of power.

We used this game to get our heads around combat in Red Book. It's fairly straightforward, but in our previous game we played as though you just rolled dice and assigned hits like most other unit-based rules. However, a reread revealed that only shooting works that way. In melee, fighters square off as evenly as possible.

This made combat a little slower, but it felt more tactical. And with such a relatively low model count, it went faster as we got into the rhythm of declaring combats and rolling dice.

The first round of fights were fairly bloody, with Lowic's Companions forcing Vachel's warband back. Lowic took the opportunity to move up and claim the starmetal - a fateful choice.

As Sam and I quickly discovered, the single penalty counter that the starmetal gave to the Thane holding it was detrimental, especially when you rolled low for activation counters. It also didn't help when Sam used a Glamour to restart the turn after I had gotten ten activation counter's to Sam's five.

Lowic was stuck holding the starmetal as his Companions kept the opposing warband at bay.

However, the tide began to turn against Lowic, and he soon found himself stranded as his warriors were pushed back, bloodied and weary.

And fate showed its displeasure for the Elven Thane when he failed the Courage test needed to remove the Penalty Counter at the end of the sixth turn, and ended up with two!

In Red Book, units can be given multiple Activation Counters, but only if they're evenly spread out. Penalty Counters are also included when dealing out Activation Counters, so every other unit in the warband would need to be given a Counter before Lowic could be given one! He was thoroughly stuck in the middle of the board.

Vachel now had a good chance of, if not retrieving the starmetal, then at least striking Lowic down. To prevent this, I charged unit after unit of Companions into Vachel. While his Sunsword easily cleaved the Elves into neat little pieces, I was able to deal three wounds to the enemy Thane. With only a single wound left, Vachel was suddenly less eager to attack Lowic, who could use his twin swords to defend himself with ease.

And so the game ended with neither Thane able to claim the objective or fell his opponent. Both Circles withdrew from the table to deal with the wounded and dead.

Sam and I both had a great time getting Red Book back on the table, and this second game went a long way to understanding most of the game mechanics. I'm looking forward to playing again, especially since the Troll Wars expansion was recently released. The Troll and Mortal Thanes look interesting, and I'll likely pick them up as soon as more Companion units are released for the two factions.

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