Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Desperate Defence

I finally managed to arrange a game of Otherworld Skirmish.  I received the rules last year and even wrote a review, but have not really had the chance to play them.

I decided that it was about time and opted to do the "Under siege" scenario from the rulebook. 
The scenario is fairly simple, an Ogre, Giant and some goblins are attacking and trying to burn a village to the ground. The village itself is defended by a bunch of mercenaries, including all your basic fantasy tropes, so basically a fighter, wizard, cleric, assassin, along with some archers and war dogs for numbers. Also not forgetting the trusty pack mule!
the Raiders consisted of:
An Ogre
8 Goblins with swords
4 Goblins with Bows
A Giant
2 Dire wolves.
5 of the goblins carried flaming torches that they could use to burn down the buildings in the village.
The night got off to a ropy start as my wife, who works in Glasgow got caught up in all the transport disruption at Glasgow Queen Street station and was late home, meaning I was an hour and a half late to the club.    We managed to quickly set up and although slightly harassed I managed to explain the basics of the game to everyone.
In the scenario there is a small village with a central building, the Black Dragon Inn, and the mercenaries had to deploy within 4 inches of this building, with Dave opting to deploy his three archers within the tower at the top of the inn, and the rest of his band at the Inn's front gate.  The defenders also have eight treasure tokens to deploy, with Dave opting to put the majority of them within the courtyard of the inn, plus a couple scattered throughout the village. These treasure tokens represent various things in the game, and only the attacker is able to uncover them. they could be treasure, which are worth victory points, traps, wandering monsters if any are available or even cards that give re-rolls or other in game effects.
Early game and the Raiders advanced, quickly managing to take out a wardog with a lucky shot from a goblin.  Everyone else tried to close the distance to get stuck in to the treasure and burn some buildings down.  In the game you are only ever able to activate half your force in any turn, plus any extras for having commanders on table.  The Raiders had sixteen models and even with the Goblins mob rule were not able to activate everything.  The defenders had no such problem, as they had two models with the Leader ability and so were able to activate their entire force.  They got some lucky shots and managed to kill the enemy Ogre very early in the game, much to Rory's annoyance.
When the giant arrived in mid game the adventurers all had to take Fearsome tests, with some of them failing and acquiring the "frightened" status, which stopped them charging any fearsome models and made them a lot worse in combat.  In return for this the mercenary cleric used his mind control ability to take control of their Giant and a tug of war ensured, with the hapless monster spending several turns running back and forward as both sides tried to force it to do what they wanted.  
Late game and a small melee took place on the outskirts of the village between the leader of the mercenaries and a Dire Wolf, with the Dire wolf getting the worst of it.  Goblin casualties were also starting to mount, thanks to the archers in the Inns tower.   The Raiders did manage to set the barn on fire, but it must have been raining as it took most of the game to actually burn down, plus they managed to set fire to the Black Dragon Inn itself but it did not succumb to the flames before the end of the game. One Dire Wolf managed to unearth a treasure token, but it never got used as it was a bonus that came into play when a character model was down to one wound. In the final round of the game there was a large melee in the Inn's courtyard, with the raiders coming out of it badly with several dead goblins. 

We had to stop at this point as we had run out of time, but the Raiders were close to losing half their models, which would have caused their forces to become shaken, and possibly start leaving the table in panic. 

All in all not a bad first attempt, considering how harassed I had been trying get to the club, and given more time we could have played at a more leisurely pace, rather than the slightly hurried game we had. 

It played pretty much as I expected, and there were a lot of tokens in play at any one time, especially when the Giants fearsome came into play. I think this game re-enforced what I thought when I read it, in that it will be suited to a narrative style of play, with a GM setting the forces and scenarios rather than pick up and play type games where each player can just pick a force to an agreed value and have at it.  This doesn't bother me though as the main reason I bought the game was to use it for themed scenarios. My only gripe would be the number of tokens in play at any one time, and the difficulty in removing some of the status's from your models as quite often you roll a die for each hit you have remaining, but you need to roll a 6 so that could be a real pain in game.
I will press on with my plans for a themed set of games, using Goblin and Halfling characters, with some occasional monsters and adventurers for flavour and see if there is any interest.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Looks Like Another Bug Hunt.

This week I finally managed to give Aliens vs Predator: The Hunt Begins a try.
I received wave 1 and 2 of this just before Christmas but haven't actually had the opportunity to do much with it beyond assemble one of the board games, ready for use.
I had a gap in my gaming schedule and so appealed fro some players, and managed to get three volunteers.
We played mission 1 in the main rulebook, which is played on a small table. 
The boardgame has three sides in it. Colonial Marines were represented by a squad of 5 men including a smart gun and flamer as per the Aliens movie.  Predators, represented by three hunters, each armed with various implements of death used in the various movies and finally the Aliens were represented by 5 "Stalkers", which are the dog Aliens from Alien3 and 10 "Infants" which represent the Aliens from the original horror movie.
Each side had its own mission to complete.  the Marines, who had just woken from hypersleep had to get to the computer room on the other side of the board to open up the emergency bulkheads and then get one marine to the elevator located in the engine room.
The Predators were on a scouting mission and had to either scan three rooms on the board that were close to their starting position, or alternatively make their way to the computer room on the other side of the board from them, complete a scan and return to their starting position.
The Aliens had the most straight forward task, which was basically to eliminate five enemy models, with Predators counting as 2 due to they toughness.
No one had played the game before, and I had only ever read the rules so there was some scratching of heads, but we soon got into the swing of things.
At the start of every turn each player roles for Initiative, with them taking it in turns to activate their forces one model at a time starting with the highest roll.  The person who rolls initiative also gets to draw an "environmental effect" card which represents things malfunctioning on the ship such as doors refusing to open, or the sprinkler system going off.
Each model has 2 action points, which can be used to move, run, shoot, attack in close combat or perform other specialist action such as hiding or going on "sentry".
Each model also starts of as a Ping token with each faction having its own rules.
The Predators get an additional two tokens, to represent their ability to confuse and distract the enemy.  The marines can deploy any model to any token, giving them great flexibility and the Aliens just have loads of them, lol.  Each Ping token is revealed and replaced by the correct model when it comes into line of site of an enemy.
We started the game, with the Predators rushing from their pod, eager to complete the mission, and the Aliens also moving quickly to try and get some quick kills.  Unfortunately the first environmental card drawn stopped any doors being opened for the first turn, so the Marines had to stay put and do nothing. Turn 2 and the Marines started to cautiously advance, while the other two forces got stuck into each other. The Predators showed their skill in combat when one of them almost cleared a room of Aliens in one assault. Unfortunately when an Alien is killed there is a chance there will acid spray, and there was a lot of this and the Predator was wounded.
This pretty much set the tone for the game, with the Predators eliminating the majority of the Aliens on the board, but then taking a lot of wounds from the acidic blood in return.  The Colonial Marines managed to polish one of them off with a flamethrower, and the final one was eventually killed by, you guessed it, the acidic blood spray from the Alien he had just killed.  This gave Rory 4 kill points and he only needed 1 more to achieve his victory conditions.   The Predators were all dead, having achieved none of theirs, and the marines hadn't really done much of anything so far apart from kill a couple of Alien Stalkers and a Predator. 
Late game and Rory only had 3 Aliens left, against a full squad of marines.  Luckily for Rory Tim managed to put one of his marines within reach of his Aliens and he pounced, failing to inflict any damage at all. Tim retaliated with his smart gun, and managed to kill the two remaining Alien Infants.  Unfortunately the Aliens Acid Blood did its work again and the marine was killed, giving Rory the required five kills.  So in the end both the Marines and the Aliens satisfied their victory conditions in the same turn, while the Predators all died.
A good first try of the game, and a broadly positive response from the players. There was some confusion about each factions strategy cards and when they should be played, plus some the wording on them is a bit vague but we managed to work most of it out. we also enjoyed the environmental cards as they changed the game a little every turn, which helps keep thing a little unpredictable.
I had read a lot about the game and its rules and was a little nervous about trying it out, but I think it works quite well. the main thing with these rules would be to try and stick to the intention of the rules rather than use them as written as otherwise some odd situation can arise.   
It took most of the Alien force to subdue two Predators, but in then they succeeded in their objective, which is good.  The marines worked quite well and their rules definitely encourage them to stick together as a team, while the Predators look quite formidable but they were so unlucky on the night that it was hard to come to any kind of conclusion about them. More testing is definitely required.
I wont comment about the state of the kickstarter, as there has been lots written about it elsewhere. the game is a lovely package, with nice components and beautifully sculpted models. I just wish Prodos was a bit better run and then we could all just move on.  I am hopeful that I will get the few pieces I am outstanding later on this year, including the tabletop rulebook as that will be when the fun really starts.