Friday, October 31, 2014

The Island of Coatzaco

            When we last left our intrepid adventurers, they had battled vile and evil creatures on the island of Coatzaco.  They boarded their ships and sailed out of the harbor to regroup, only to find a squadron of ships sent by the Governor was waiting to intercept them!  Cannons roared like thunder and tempered steel flashed like lightning as men clashed with men off the island coast on the glorious 21st of June.
            Luck would be with our characters that day, crippling several of the warships and taking the flagship as a prize by boarding action.  Petru and a small prize crew transferred to the flagship only to find the Governor himself onboard!  An epic hand to hand combat ensued as the ship drifted toward the island.
            From the deck of the Gimlet, Captain Dwailyn could hear the actions from the flagship.  He knew Petru was a seasoned seadog and could handle himself, but there was something in the back of his mind that was bothering him.  Was it that Petru could be in need of assistance?  No, Petru’s capable of taking control of his situation.  Was it the fact that the Governor’s ships were waiting in ambush as if they knew we were here all along?  No, that can’t be possible, chances of them knowing our exact heading when we left Lion’s Port are slim to none.  Was it all the booty and the 400 gold coins that sit in the Captain’s quarters?  Aye, that’s it!  A very nice payoff for the crew after facing what they went through on that cursed plot of sand!
Wait…the crew…  Dwailyn did a visual check of the crew on board - Chun, Little Jim, Doc, Pankin, Sven…  Where in the hell is Sven?  A frantic search of the decks revealed no Sven!  In fact none of the crew had seen Sven since the landing party hit Coatzaco’s shore.  Sven’s still there!  We have to go back and find him!
Dwailyn assembles Chun, Doc, Little Jim and some other crew members as a rescue party.  As they discuss a plan, Chun mentions a temple marked _ _ ZOD _ _ on one of the maps he acquired from the island.  It’s determined that this is where they will start looking for Sven and they won’t stop until he’s found – dead or alive!

Are you willing to take up the quest to find Sven?  Does the thought of returning to the island make your skin crawl?  Do you have your brown pants on?  Don’t bother, they’ll be brown at some point, but a red shirt might be handy.

The Secondhand Lions gathered for the annual Halloween Heroquest game and this time we revisited our pirate themed re-skinning of this game.  It has been a full year and the tales of the brave Flashing Steel gang are growing numerous and vivid.  We were heading back into the jungle island of Coatzaco to rescue a friend.  The game was a dungeon crawl and was played with the full Heroquest mechanics.  Unfortunately no visual images survived the dank and horrendous caverns of the tomb below the island.  
The synopsis however was a huge butcher's bill and a very vivid Halloween horror tale. Dwailyn crawled out of the dungeon at the end of the night dragging Petru's  arrow riddled corpse followed by an egregiously wounded Sven.  Left in the howling undead mound of skeletal warriors were Chun, Doc and Pankin.  The last sounds were of gunshots and the slicing clash of many scythe wielding skeletons as the lost disappeared in the maze.
We lost the "Rapier of Despair"  in the final run for safety.  It was left behind with Chun as he tried to hold off a zombie rush that outnumbered him 12 to 1.   Pankin got greedy and went into a room against the best wishes of Dwailyn.  "There has to be great prizes in those chests!  This adventure is not over," were his last words as a failed attempt at unlocking a chest animated about 12 skeletal warriors all around him and Doc.

Great times with the best of friends.  Comradery and an annual gaming tradition.

The night ended with a little box hockey.  Caroms on speed.  More of that in another post.

A guest write up from our own Mr. T. Conn...

{Hours later in the aftermath of the brutal final fight...

Pain.  Pain and nausea.  Pain, nausea and…snoring?  Chun opened his eyes to slits, not wanting to alert anyone to the fact that he was awake.  
Initially, he couldn’t see anything, as his location was as dark as pitch.  Eventually, his eyes adjusted to the gloom and he could make out the faintest of forms to his left and right.  The one on the right was making an incredibly loud sound much like a saw scraping through wood.  The one on the left was smaller and dead quiet.  
Chun realized several things at once with a start.  First and foremost: He wasn't dead!  The last thing he recalled was Doc retreating along the corridor, urging Chun to run with him.  Debris on the ground kept Chun from fleeing the horde of undead sailors he was staving off with Dwailyn’s ‘Rapier of Despair’.  Wounded and regretting his decision to hold the rear, he watched as Doc’s Angel of Death spell whirled by, tagging the undead…captain?...before him.  The creature literally fell to pieces when Chun impaled it on the rapier’s point, but he didn’t have time to gloat under the press of decayed flesh forcing its way toward him.  A vicious blow to his head and…what?  Chun didn’t remember anything after that.
The next thoughts that whirled through his sluggish mind were that the forms to his left and right were Pankin and Doc.  He’d heard that buzzing snore before and hoped that Pankin was merely knocked out and not dead.  Chun rolled over and gently shook his fellow Chinaman, placing a careful hand over his mouth so as not to rouse their captors.  Pankin’s eyes popped open in surprise.  He quickly assessed the situation and gave an infinitesimal.  Chun took his hand away and asked “Are you injured?”  Pankin shook his head and quickly glanced at Doc’s still slumbering form, a look of confusion crossing his features.
“How did you get caught?” Chun asked quietly.  Pankin quickly filled Chun in on what happened after the group left with Petru and Sven.  Pankin’s story of greed in the face of danger and Doc’s problem of “wrong place at the wrong time” had Chun shaking his head in dismay.  
Chun sighed and said “Let’s wake Doc and see where we are and if we can get out of here!”  Doc was roused easily enough, his snore cut short, bringing a very sudden silence to the room.  
A quick search yielded few results.  It was a small room.  Hardly more than a storage closet, really.  A lone door let in a strip of faint light along its bottom.  As the trio stood there, quietly discussing their next step, the room shook then swayed to the familiar motion of waves.  They were on a boat!  

Miles away on the other side of the island and in the company of our portion of the crew that made it to safety...

Petru grimaced as he watched the receding coastline of Coatzaco.  He rubbed his ribs, his fingers gently probing the scars from the arrow wounds he’d sustained.  ‘Thank goodness for Doc’s poultices,’ he thought.  ‘Without them, I’d be nothing more than another tally mark on the Governor’s death count.’  
Dwailyn had rushed him aboard the Gimlet, roaring to the crew to shove off and fetch him a vial of Doc’s murky concoction.  Lucky thing he had, too, as Petru was just about as far gone as he could be without permanently joining the Ever After.  ‘I owe him one’, thought Petru, a thin smile on his lips.  ‘Not that he’ll let me forget it!’
Petru’s musings were cut short by a cry from the crow’s nest.  “Rigging spotted, Cap’n!”  Indeed, Petru could spot the tall masts of one of the Governor’s ships moving out of the sheltered harbor…toward them!

Dwailyn’s roar for all hands on deck and getting them the Hells out of there made everyone jump and scurry.  Petru eyed the slowly approaching ship and thought ‘Your time’s comin’, Governor.  The Boys and I are gonna have some words with you that you’re not gonna like.’  He turned and headed to his post, readying himself for the upcoming confrontation.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Song of Arthur and Merlin

Welcome dear reader to another session report for the great Ganesha Games title:

Song of Arthur and Merlin by Daniel Mersey

Part 1
The Joust:

As we recall, the knights of Camelot have been journeying northward to the realm of Duke Aeron of Lindsey on a progress ordered by Arthur to receive and exchange gifts of fealty from the Duke and his fief.  The event of a king's entourage will of course call for feasting and a tournament.  In preparations the duke's men have started clearing and refreshing the list at Lincoln castle.  Join us now table side for images of the jousting game as played in the Lion's Den using the mechanics of Song of Blades and references to how we did it back in the day.  Our rules are not as written in Song of Arthur and Merlin.  We have resurrected our old format and will demonstrate here for you now...

The knights are characters from SAM with all stats and specials intact and in use.
The jousting field or list is prepared from a terrain feature that is six increments long.  We used the medium move distance when constructing our jousting rails.  See the image and click for a closeup view.
The participating knights are placed as demonstrated on the list facing each other and ready to move toward each other in traditional jousting fashion.  Now in SAM and SoBH the mechanic is move counter move based on a success throw of a set of D6.  What we actually feel is different in a joust is the Rochambeau mechanic of "ready, steady, shoot," in that both participants are acting in unison or in synchronous order.  To model that with the already in place mechanic of SAM we salute and require each knight to throw 3D6, (the full set of SAM success die.)  For each success the knight may advance one move increment down the rail.   

So as you can see in our demonstration joust, 3 rolled successes will leave you at mid-point on the rail.  Any failures and you will be caught closer to your start point by a more successful knight opposing you.  From beyond the midpoint you get to add +1 to your combat score for each full section you have moved past midpoint and closer to your opponents start point!

We assume that a contact will occur when the two knight figures pass in the same segment of the rail. At this occurrence we roll a combat roll with and if there are any left over successes to use for combat.  ALL special abilities are in play.  Passing blow especially.  If you don't have enough successes to make an attack then you simply defend or if both are out of successes than it is a pass by.

In the combat roll.
In our joust if you are beaten by an even roll you are unhorsed and defeated.  If you are beaten by an odd roll you are recoiled and remain in the saddle however the opponent has "broken" a lance on your shield and scores 1 point.  The knights continue to the end of the list and pass again.  Three broken lances are equal to a win or "unhorsing" of the opponent.

With this format we play-tested our old jousting rules from Pendragon and within the new rules set of Song of Arthur and Merlin we experienced unhorsing, ties, wiffs, and broken lances.  Some of the knights had to make several passes before the contest was decided.  The +1 per increment of rail past midpoint was fun and key.  If you get "up" on your opponent and hit him close to his end of the list it is really demoralizing.  We allowed passing blow and that was sometimes very significant.  We discussed Assassin skill and our group is really wrestling with this in Arthurian background but we decided that an assassin in a joust isn't trying to kill someone ....

Will take a break for now and continue this post in a bit.

Part 2  Blood Feuds and an Ambush
The entourage is traveling by many roads  and the knights are free to roam and experience adventure as it presents itself.
The rumor of a knight bearing an evil red lance has circulated.
A kidnapping has occurred.
And of course Mordred's men dog the column and present sorites for blood at nearly every crossroad.

When we rolled up our scenario for each table the first two games produced a Blood Feud and an Ambush.
Here is is Terry's warband advancing into an ambush.  The ambush can be seen below.  We used rune stones to ID each location for the real and dummy markers for Jon Mark's warband.

Rune stone location markers some of which represent the ambushing warriors below.

Jon Mark's warband footmen.

Across the room we see Mordred's men in Ted's war-band.  Secundus the berserk has had a long standing feud with Bishop Kenneth the pure.  Kenneth, a paladin by discipline, has brought his warband into the battle to kill Secundus.

An ambush revealed. Some of Terry's knights move through rough terrain and expose the hiding places of Jon Mark's foot knights.

The advance of Sir Morholt, Sir Lanvil, and Brave Sir Robin.

Back to the blood feud.  Bishop Kenneth is unhorsed by the berserk and looks as if he was knocked dead from his horse.  The only saving grace was his fortitude and Tough skill.  So back in the saddle he returns to fight and kill Secundus.

I liked the use of rune stones for ID markers.  They were expedient and I have had them for a long time and never really used them in wargaming.  Now I have a valid use for them.

Second scenario of the evening created a "Kill The Monster" and "Rescue a Kidnap Victim" set of games.

Here we see the berserk as an object of a massive hunt and kill game.

And on the other table we have a kidnap victim that ends up being saved and rescued.

Dwaylin the Dwarf unhorses and kills nephew Connor.  Bishop Kenneth's nephew.

Kenneth and two mounted men-at-arms confront the Knight of the Red Lance!!  He is an Assassin and quite deadly in hand to hand combat.

Great night of gaming.

Thanks for looking in on the post.

Up next in this story arc will be the joust in Lincoln and then the Christmas Feast in Camelot.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Song of Arthur and Merlin

The Battle at the Ford.
The table.

Mordred and his retinue.

Round table knights from Camelot enroute to Lincoln for a tourney.

Crossing a disputed ford.

None shall pass.

Song of Arthur and Merlin.

Mordred's forces defend the ford.

Arthur's knights just keep coming and in stronger numbers.

Mordred is unhorsed and will eventually leave the field.

The retinue fights on but the victory goes to the knights of the round table.

The ford is captured.

Great game and wicked awesome figures.  Stay tuned this one is heating up.

Recruits Convention September 2014

The pinnacle wargaming meet up has come and gone in the heartland.
Lee's Summit High School's Recruits convention is a great show and always a fun time as a GM and a player.  Here is one fellows tour of duty...

American Civil War in the West.  The battle of Wilson's Creek.  I have toured this battlefield and even wargamed on the actual battle location at a scouting event.  This was my first game to play in at the convention.  This game was presented by Alex McDonald in 9mm scale.  When we asked him about the scale it turns out that a lot of these minis are old Scruby 9mm ACW!  So that was cool in itself.
I played as Franz Sigel and commanded the attack on the Confederate cavalry encampment.  We did pretty well and scattered almost all of the mounts. (our objective.)  So that too was cool.  However I exhausted my command in the Fire and Fury system and was ineffective after this series of attacks.

Marching through the encampment kicking over frying pans and getting dirt in the reb's coffee!

Click images for a close up.

Further afield from my command.

My overall commander over on the hill top.  I don't think it was named bloody hill after our replay.

And then to close out Friday night I presented my game called "Angry Birds."  This is a cock-fighting game ala gladiator rules and some feathered models I got  off of E-Bay.  The presentation was entirely to get a reaction from passers by and to that end it was a success.  However, it did not get played a lot and was only marginally successful.  Anyway, take a look at the pixels because it was funny.  Look close at the cock's eyebrows - Angry Birds!

To cap off the night I played Thunder Road from Ted Conn's collection.  This is a scaled up miniatures version of the MB boardgame and it was a hoot.  Ted has really created something marvelous with these minis and his Axles and Alloys game.  See below.

Running and gunning in the wasteland.

Saturday morning I arrived early enough to get in on Scott Newberry's Medieval FUBAR.  Wow!  A massive collection of toy soldiers from the Warhammer BattleMasters sets was amassed on the table for an interesting look at mounted warfare.  Scott is a veteran wargamer and showman.  His games are wonderful and have been a formative aspect of my learning about the hobby from years ago when I used to frequent his hobby shop.

Pre-battle line up.  The great thing about this presentation that Scott put in the event were: player created terrain selection, hidden initial deployment by use of screens between the two sides and catapults that operated kinetically by shooting sponge boulders at the target troops.

The fray! FUBAR.

Scott looks on from behind the center of my opponents.  I commanded a convergence of catapults in the center.

Great game.  Thanks Mr. Newberry and Mr. Yates of the Park Forest Gamers.

Nest stop, the Sudan.  The HATSOFF wargamers are another keystone in the region.  They too have been presenting games at local conventions for over 20 years.  This Bod Davis production involved a relief column from the Gordon Relief Expedition pushing towards Khartoum.  I landed overall British commander status and was place in the center of the square.  The square was broken in a couple of ways and we suffered mightily in the contact with the Dervishes, Ansar, and Baggara horsemen.

From the sandy desert to the deck of a frigate!  Only at a wargame convention right.  Next battle I played in was Sails of Glory, presented by Tim Harwood.  I envy this game however it came out 10 years too late for my collection.  I already have all the ships I need for naval gaming but wanted to try this rules set to see what it offered.  The rules are great.  The miniatures superb.  My style of naval gaming wouldn't fit with this because I want way more ships on the table than this could handle.  I did have fun except for the jackanapes players that were commanding the rest of our squadron.  You know those convention games where your side forgets the overall objective of the scenario only because they want to go shoot at one of their friends/family on the opposing team.  Yea- you get it.  Anyways I got my taste of this game rules system and I would play again on someone else's dime.

Egregious doohickey.  That's our flag ship t-boning our squadron because he wants to go shoot a friend.

And finally the masterpiece of gaming that is Ted Conn's 

Axles and Alloys.Fuel Run

from the convention program:
Fuel. Fuel is everything. It`s so rare, you`d do practically anything to get it. When you hear there`s an entire truck filled with fuel heading through the Dead Zone to Summit City, you round up your posse and head out to intercept. Problem is, you`re not the only gang with that thought. Who will leave the Dead Zone with the fuel, you or another gang? Will the fuel truck survive to deliver its goods? Not if you have a say in things! Axles and Alloys is a quick-playing, over-the-top sci-fi vehicular combat system based upon Full Thrust rules. Think Mad Max meets Car Wars, but with simpler rules.

This was popular.  Well presented.  And amazingly fun!

That is Motherload.  The objective of all the gangs desire.  Get that beast and win the game.

Well maybe next time.
And that my friends is Recruits.  They also have always had really nice signage and branding.  This is the convention program.  I keep these because I like them to look back over and see what games my club presented and also they always look really cool.