Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Middle Earth Quest": Komponent Kaos

Every time you buy a new board game I highly recommend that you inventory the components immediately.  If you haven't been doing this then I suggest you retroactively go through your entire board game collection right now.   You'll be amazed at how much crap is missing.

But there is a silk purse to this sow's ear.  Quite often board game manufacturers are more then happy to mail out any replacement bits that were either damaged or missing from your copy free of charge.  In fact, they often have a tendency to overcompensate with this sort of request. 

This happened recently when my buddy Andrew acquired a copy of Middle-Earth Quest from Fantasy Flight and discovered that "The Northern Fortress" card was M.I.A.  He sent an email off to Fantasy Flight who then proceeded to send a spare copy of every single deck in replacement.  

The other bit of set up to this podcast is Andrew's prodigious game collection.  He currently owns approximately one hundred and twenty seven games.  Even taking our weekly games night into consideration, we still alternate picks between the four of us.  Needless to say, waiting for a specific game to hit the table is kinda like the equivalent of Haley's Comet flying over your patio.

To try and remedy this, Andrew's been lending out his games to anyone with a particularly keen interest in running it on their turn.  For Chad, this bad boy has been in his wheelhouse for quite some time:

Described favorably by Tom Vasel in his two-part review and bearing a more then passing resemblance to a more thematically sophisticated Runebound, all of us were pretty keen to give this one a whirl.  Chad took up the challenge of absorbing the hefty rule book and doing a dry run at home before rolling it out to the rest of us.  He had ample time to prepare and play test this before his turn finally arrived this past Wednesday.

Andrew, Dean and I could tell that he'd done his homework, since his breakdown of the game was virtually flawless:

Thanks to Chad's excellent tutelage it didn't take us very long to move, explore, and seek adventure and peril in Tolkien's rich and expansive realm.  In Part One of this game session podcast, Dean quickly strikes an unexpected blow against the forces of Sauron by handily ganking one of his minions...

The Roles:   


In Part Two we delve further into the game, exploring the far reaches of Middle-Earth and completing some slow-pitch quests:

In Part Three of  Middle-Earth Theatre Young Mawster Dean tries to single-handedly deal a deathblow to the forces of EEEE-vil while Messrs Andrew and David ponder retail space and lakefront property:

In Part Four Argalad is finally laid low while Beravor and Thalin seek the head of  "Kevin" Gorgoroth in an effort to prevent Sauron from rallying.

When The Witch King appears in Part Five it's clearly an omen (or is it an ottoman?) that The Lidless Eye is  surging.  In other news: I blatantly fuck up the healing/rest rules.

Due to our ludicrously difficult secret mission, the game comes down to a somewhat arbitrary and underwhelming "rock paper scissors" finale between the Heroes and the forces of Mordor.  Even worse: our epic component fail is revealed.

Yeah, as you might expect, we're definitely tryin' this fucker again next week.  Except maybe this time we won't mix all of the replacement cards in with the original ones.

Seriously, if we all had brains we'd be dangerous...

  Photos by Chad Seward.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

From The Archives # 1: "Star Wars Miniatures"

February 27, 2005

Since I've already sunk what amounts to the Gross Domestic Product of Peru into the "collectible" Star Wars Miniatures Game, I figured that I might as well go for broke and pick this up:

Prior to playing this with anyone else, I decide to test-drive Mission IV # 10 foreshadowingly titled "Race To Docking Bay 94".

In this scenario, the Rebels (Ben Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2) have to safely reach Docking Bay 94 by exiting the east side of the map.  The Imperials, consisting of a Stormtrooper Officer leading a Sandtrooper on a Dewback, as well as two Heavy and two Vanilla Stormtroopers have to either gank Han and Chewie or "capture the droids".

This second condition is accomplished by moving a trooper adjacent to C-3PO and/or R2-D2.  When this happens the Imperial player can "take control" of the droid and move it along with the trooper.  If both droids are successfully moved off the north edge of the map, the Imperials win.

(Ummm, as a side note, can any fan out there who actually bought the rip-off Blu-Rays confirm or deny that this scenario is based on the most prudent deleted scene in cinema history?) 

Regardless, here's the map at set-up:


ROUND ONE       Initiative:     Rebels    3        Imperials 11

Imperials:  The Dewback charges up four spaces to the entrance way and tries to gum Han through the doorway.  Rolls 16 + 4 attack and a bonus + 4 (for it's "Momentum" ability).  24 is a hit!  Han takes 20 damage.  The Stormtrooper Officer  moves down five spaces and takes a pot-shot at Han, who has cover behind a giant, green lizard.  Roll is 9 + 8 = 17 vs. Han's defense of 21 (17 + 4 for cover).  Miss!

RebelsHan fires at the giant green lizard at point-blank range and rolls a "1", a Greedo-like miss!  He falls back six spaces.   Chewie, similarly afflicted, also whiffs with a "1" and slinks off next to Han.  As the dauntless duo turn tail and run, the Dewback gets an Attack of Opportunity against both of them, rolling 18 on Han for 10 points of damage and 20 on Chewie for 20!!! 

Who the fuck is this guy!?!?

Imperials: Heavy Trooper # 1 elbows past the giant, green lizard and manages to get just inside the doorway.  Since he can't move and attack in the same turn, he just bides his time by making obscene hand gestures and using sarcasm against our favorite pair of rogues.  The second Heavy Trooper moves four spaces down behind the Dewback.  If this was a Prequel film, I'm sure he would have just trod in Dewback poo.   

RebelsBen "Obi-Wan" Kenobi (the Man With The Name Like A Chinese Menu) might be old enough to collect Social Security but he can still haul ass.  He moves twelve spaces in an easterly direction towards the exit.  Luke, due to his six-packs-a-day smoking habit, is hard-pressed to keep up with him.  

ImperialsVanilla Stormtrooper #1 Moves up six spaces and spies Luke wheezing towards the junkyard.  He takes a pot-shot at Luke's mullet: rolls 7 + 4 = 11 vs. Luke's defense of 21 (17 = 4 for cover)...miss!      Vanilla Stormtrooper #2  Moves five spaces down to stand by his by squad mate and fires as well.  His roll is 8 + 4 = 12.  Miss!  Their aim is proving to be canonical.

RebelsR2 moves up twelve spaces next to Ben.  C-3PO minces his way up behind (!) Luke.   For the record, I've never seen these droids move this fast in the movies ever.

ROUND TWO       Initiative:     Rebels    15        Imperials 12
RebelsChewie takes a bead on the lone Heavy Trooper in the storage building with him.  Rolls 10 + 8 and misses (his defense was 20...16 + 4 for cover).  Chewie retreats six more spaces, exiting stage right.  Han blasts away at the same dude, rolling 17 + 8 + 4 (Cunning Attack) = 30!!!  The Heavy Trooper has his head blown off in an appropriately PG-kinda way.  Han also falls back six spaces next to Chewie and shares a fleeting kiss with the wookiee.   

Imperials: The remaining trigger-happy  Heavy Trooper (who apparently thinks he's in a Star Wars film directly by Stanley Kubrick) spies The Worlds Most Conspicuous Target (I.E. C-3PO) and takes a pot-shot.  Rolls 16 + 6 + 3 (for the Officer's Commander effect) vs. defense 15 + 4 (cover) = 19.  Hit!  The subsequent 30 points of damage blows C-3PO's head off an appropriately PG-kinda way.    Not to be shown up in front of his supervisor, Vanilla Stormtrooper #1 fires at Luke, rolls 19 + 4 - 4 (cover) + 3 (Commander effect).  22 is a hit for 10 damage.

Rebels: R2, non-plussed by the violent death of his life-partner, races through the loose sand as if he's competing in the the Baja 1000, moving twelve spaces down the corridor.  Luke follows suit.

Imperials:  The R.T.D.P. (Royal Tatooinian Dewback Patrol) moves twelve spaces along the northern part of the map.  The Stormtrooper Officer  fires twice at Obi-Wan rolling 9 then 1, both misses.  Vanilla Stormtrooper #1  Tries to snipe Obi-Wan in the beard.   Rolls 12 + 4 - 4 (cover) +3 Commander Effect total 15.  Miss!

Rebels:  Neo, er...Obi-Wan  hustles up twelve spaces and is now leading Luke.  ("Run, Luke, RUN!  Cripes, you're one-third my age, get the fuckin' lead out!")

ROUND THREE       Initiative:     Rebels    11        Imperials 1         

RebelsChewie and Han both move up twelve, entering the corridor.  Um...okay

Imperials: The Dewback advances twelve spaces towards corridor entrance.   The Stormtrooper Officer also moves up twelve spaces.

RebelsObi-Wan and Luke move off the map.  Wow, that's exciting.

Imperials:  Move their remaining Heavy Trooper and Vanilla Stormtrooper #1

RebelsR2 leaves the map.  Why do I have this sudden overwhelming feeling of buyer's remorse? 

ImperialsVanilla Stormtrooper #1  moves down twelve spaces.  Wow, this sucks

Rebels:  Both Han and Chewie move off the map, ending the game.


As if it's not bad enough that this so-called "scenario" was completely boring and pointless I'm also left scratching my head as to who the fuck won.  After all, the book states "all Rebel characters must safely reach Docking Bay 94" and Old Goldenrod was conveniently left back there in the junkyard.

So I sent the following email to Lizards of the Toast, seeking clarification:

Rebel victory conditions for this scenario state that that 'all Rebel characters must safely reach Docking Bay 94' in order to win but the Imperial victory conditions clearly specify that 'they need to defeat Han or Chewie in order to win'.  So, who won this scenario?   

Reply from Monkey Answer Lizard # 12:

It's a "draw".  

A "draw", huh?  Yeah, I bet that's gonna happen a lot in this brain-dead scenario.

Rule holes so big you could fly a T-16 through really hobble the "Ultimate Missions" book.  Honestly, just save your credits and make up your own missions. Whatever you throw together can't be nearly as bad as this hastily-cobbled-together-cash-grab.

P.S. The Heavy Trooper who shot one of the winning conditions in the head was immediately sacked. 

Although I can't say a lot of good things about the "Ultimate Missions" book I positively lurve the Star Wars Miniatures Game.  I give it a solid five pips outta six!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Kobold Ate My Homework...

Dungeons & Dragons has been an integral part of my life since I was thirteen years old.  As such, I started a blog series about my history with the game back in April of last year.  Inspired by a phrase spouted Tourette's-style by my buddy Mark every six to eight minutes during our Ravenloft campaign, I dubbed this series "I Hit It With My Axe".

Well, a few months later, while Googling myself (early odds-on favorite to win the "Most Inadvertently Pervy-Sounding Pastime of 2012 Award"), this title search invariably brought me to a certain D&D-related video series on The Escapist.   

I blasted through these in short order and eventually landed at the salacious-sounding blog of series overlord Zak Sabbath (née Smith).  He's a Dungeons & Dragons ambassador of sorts: a diligent DM and a tireless writer, sometimes posting as many as forty five inspired (and inspiring) RPG-flavored entries in a single month.

Much has been said about Smith's headline-grabbing connections to the alternative adult film industry but frankly, I don't give a shit.  When you get down to brass tacks, the dude is intelligent, perceptive, well-read, artistic and he's obviously madly in love with the same quaintly antiquated girl I'm enamored with.

To be perfectly honest, I think a case can be made that I started this self-same blog just as an excuse to respond to one of Smith's recent posts.  On Wednesday January 18'th, he posted a "GM Questionnaire", thinking about which has done more to re-kindle my desire to play Dungeons & Dragons then anything else I've read in the past five years.

So, now that I'm done publicly fellating the man, here are Zak's questions (in bold) followed by my answers:

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?

As a young Catholic kid I was always fascinated with the concept of God made incarnate.  But in my warped fantasy world, "Jesus" was named Llelewyn and she was the product of an unnatural union between two mortals made similar only in their extremes of good an evil.  This impossible birth somehow usurped the hierarchy of the ruling gods and the resulting Days of Chaos that followed turned my campaign into a pen-and-paper Mattias Grunewald painting for a few exciting months.

2. When was the last time you GMed?

July 16'th, 2011 (*hangs head in shame*)

3. When was the last time you played?

August 28'th, 2011 (*shoots dirty look at DM*)

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.

PC's get pulled into the still-active brain of a comatose wizard where they're forced to win a Laurence of Arabia-style guerrilla war against his imagined rival in order to escape.     Hey, you asked. 

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?

Find notes, dig out minis, think of threatening lines of dialogue, think of stupid voices with which to deliver those threatening lines of dialogue, try and silently answer questions like: 'Oh shit, what do I do now?'   

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?

I eat anything smaller then I am. 

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?

Physically, no.  Mentally is another story, tho...   

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?

Scrambling up a rope to ring a bell which prevented a bunch of evil undead beasties from eating our collective faces off.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?

Talk around the table is decidedly unserious, probably 'cuz the in-game action is often grim as shit.  

10. What do you do with goblins?

I usually let them die by the wagon-load.  To make up for that, I hereby pledge to make all my future goblins more perverse, decadent and hoarier.  Is that a word?     

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?

A lake that I hike to in the summer became the site of a deliciously precarious ambush.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?

Notwithstanding the one included in my first entry, there was that one adventure where Thomas knocked himself out more times then Curious George with a bottle full of either.  Or when he cleverly employed his much-maligned full-length mirror to creatively knock out a bunch of orcs with a "Sleep" spell.  Or that time he kept randomly casting spells and drinking potions while his character was suffering from amnesia.  As you can tell, Tom often brings the funny...    

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?

I was looking in the D&D 3 / 3.5 edition manuals trying to figure out why time-keeping wasn't indexed.  Seriously, what were they theenking?

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?

I'm still convinced that I've yet to see my "perfect" illustrator, but I dig Keith Parkinson, Tim Trueman, (some) Clyde Caldwell, Larry Elmore, early Brothers Hildebrandt and D.A.T for his olde-skool hoary (?) weirdness.  Here's an awesome example:

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?

Yes.  If fact, if I didn't instill a modicum of fear, I've failed miserably as a DM.  

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)

Lack of time and sheer laziness caused me to slum with the creatively bankrupt pref-fab adventures included with the 3 / 3.5 Basic boxed sets.  They were universally wretched but knitting them all into a cohesive campaign made them tolerable and then my awesome players made them great.  A grueling defense of a dwarven stronghold besieged by goblins was quite memorable and it was capped off by a dramatically- appropriate PC death. 

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?

My players seated in granite-hard chairs around a massive board-of-directors style oak table while I'm ensconced in a twelve-foot-high tennis umpire chair with a massive cotton ball cloud stuck to the bottom of it. 

Oh!  I'd also like to have a dumb waiter attached to the side of my chair so I can lower snacks and/or minis up and down.  

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be? 

Agricola (a board game about farming) and Star Wars: Queen's Gambit (a board game which has the distinction of being the only decent thing to come out of the abominable prequel trilogy)

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?

Lapsed Catholicism, conspiracy theories, David Lynch, and John Carpenter's The Thing.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?

Inventive, intrigued, good-humored, easy-going and vaguely terrified.   As a corollary I hate it when people whine and bitch about their bad luck or how much their character "sucks".  Everybody's in the same boat, princess.  Suck it up. 

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?

Not much since I consider the main function of RPG's is to escape from real life.  Having said that, training large groups of people at work improved my public speaking skills.  My writing and many public readings  have also positively influenced my presentations.  I also think it's relevant that I secretly long to be a ham-ball Adam West-style actor and also harbor a nigh-pathological contempt for authority figures. 

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?

I'd like a fifth edition of D&D with a slew of fully-formed, ready-to-play character class templates, a la Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.  This same edition would also feature a slew of monsters which are, at the very least, as scary as your average drunk driver.  I would like for these books to be written by someone with the weird, creative verbosity of a Gary Gygax and illustrated by the aforementioned Monsieur Trampier.

Thank you.  Hey, I asked nicely!  

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?

My buddy Greg, who used to play D&D with me but now doesn't.  Usually he tells me that "Well, y'know, WOW gives me all of those things now."   But lately his tune is changing.  
*Heh, heh.*

Well, there it is.  I'm sorry that my homework assignment was late, Professor Smith.

But this little dog-headed, pointy-eared bastard ate the first draft...

Mattias Grunewald "The Temptation of St Anthony"
Catoblepas by David Trampier
Kobold illustration by Jim Patrick Guyer. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Last (But Not Too Late) To The "HeroScape" Dance

If I had a dime for every time I was standing in Toys-Is-We holding a clearance-sale copy of HeroScape (2004) in my sweaty little mitts, well, I'd probably have five dimes.

But regardless of how cheap the thing was, I could never pull the trigger on it.  Just look at this box cover :

Okay, so we got a dragon, alright, fine, cool.  But then we've got this guy who looks like Spawn holding a plasma rifle standing next to a suit of mech armor and a blue-skinned centurion astride what appears to be an allosaurus.  

The scene inside the velcro-sealed front flap is even worse.  We've got Morpheus carrying a broadsword, G.I.s toting laser weapons and a samurai who's dressed like Pyro from American Gladiators.  This looks like it was designed by a hypoglycemic six year old with ADD on a Froot Loop bender. 

'Nope, w-a-a-a-a-a-y too childish," I'd say, turning up my game snob nose and placing the box back on the shelf.      

Wow, 'childish' huh?  This coming from the same guy who probably purchased this piece of shit just a week earlier.

So I managed to resist HeroScape's siren call until this (clearly less infantile) release came down the pike:
Yes, to the average eye, this still looks like the sort of thing that should reside only scattered under the bed of a nine-year-old kid, but I just couldn't resist the Marvel theme.  So, when I caught it on sale $10 bucks off the retail price, I decided to take the plunge.

I could also justify this purchase 'cuz I'd managed to avoid the financial sink-hole that was the collectible miniatures HeroClix game.  Plus game-review guru Tom Vassel just loves the shit out of HeroScape:

So, I got the thing home and read the rulebook.  To help simulate this riveting experience, here's the game's overview, courtesy of Board Game Geek:

"Marvel Heroscape (2007) features plastic figures of Marvel Universe heroes and villains - each with a card to control movement and combat strength. 

Players can build many different battlefields by attaching and stacking terrain tiles of different sizes. The battlefield/scenario section includes 8 scenarios and 2 terrain layouts. Games can be opponent elimination, getting to a certain space, protecting a certain figure, or holding out for a certain number of turns.

The rulebook features two games: a basic and a master version. In the basic version, designed for younger players, characters move, attack, defend, and have range -- but there are no special powers and some other rules are minimized or eliminated. The master game includes special powers, wounds, engagement rules, falling rules, and a few other additions.

Each unit has a movement rating in hexes. Combat is fairly straightforward. You roll attack dice as listed on your unit's card, and the opponent rolls defense dice equal to the number on their unit's card. Extra hits count as wounds (figures may have more than one wound)."

So, I set up the first scenario, a pretty straightforward affair with no terrain elevations and only three characters (Spider-Man and Captain America vs. The Hulk).  After a five-round slugfest, the Green Goliath proved triumphant.
Here's my post--play take on the game from back in September 2007 (!):

"Fun, quick and clearly brainless beat-em-up.  If the Hulk lost this particular scrap, I would have been seriously pissed.  

Having said that, the designers did a good job building a simple mechanic to replicate the Hulk's growing rage.  Captain America is well-simmed in the sense that he's a genius at hand-to-hand combat and exploiting a weak defense.  Spidey is appropriately nimble and if his spider-sense had worked better in this match, you may very well have seen a joint Web/Wing Head victory!"   

 In other words, I had fun.

And then, just as I'd hoped, an expansion was announced which would have added ten new characters: Sandman, Human Torch, The Thing, Doc Ock, Punisher, Super Skrull, Invisible Girl, Bullseye, Beast and Black Panther.

So I waited.  And I waited.  A-a-a--a-a-a-d then I waited some more. 

But the reinforcements never arrived. As it turned out, this Marvel-flavored license had laid a giant goose-egg.  The original core set (sub-titled "Rise of the Valkyrie") had been produced under the Milton Bradley banner.  When Milton Bradley was swept up by the toy Goliath Hasborg, er, Hasbro, someone must have seen dollar signs in marrying HeroScape with various licensed products.

Unfortunately, fans who'd been there since the beginning loved the game for what it was: a disparate kooky way to answer that age old question: "Hey, what do you think would happen if a bunch of U.S. Marines fought a mechanical dragon being ridden by a flaming ninja?".  They really didn't want any licensed influences coming in and muddying up those LSD-laced waters.

Translation: they loved HeroScape for the exact same reasons that I initially found it to be terminally stupid-looking.   

In fact, I found more reasons to invest in the game after HeroScape was married to the other great love of my life: Dungeons & Dragons.   I recently got this core set for Jesus Present Day:

Immediately I planned to run this sucka for our group's weekly game turn, so I did a solo run on January 6'th.  What follows is a turn-by-turn transcription of the game.

BTW, if you're already heavily into HeroScape, you may find this interesting.  If you're not that familiar with the game and/or you're a human being with a normal brain and reading this is the equivalent of watching oil-based paint dry, just skip past the following italicized section.

"Campaign Master Game - Adventure One - HeroScape D&D Battle for the Underdark

Round One:  I place all of my Order Tokens on the Troll.  Order Token 1 & 2 goes on Tandros, 3 and I place the decoy on Ana.   Initiative roll:  Adventurers   7  Troll  11

The Troll reveals Order 1 and moves up 5 spaces between the two stalagmites.  Tandros reveals Order 1 and also moves up 5 spaces.  The Troll reveals Order 2 and moves up another 5 spaces.  Tandros reveals Order 2 and Engages Mr. Troll.  He rolls 4 attack dice and gets 2 Skulls.  The defending Troll rolls 1 Shield so he only takes 1 point of damage!  The Troll reveals Order 3 and tries to kick Tandros in the cubes, rolling 4 dice now (since he has 1 wound) and gets 2 Skulls.  Tandros rolls 1 Shield and takes 1 point of damage.  The Troll regenerates 1 wound!   Ana reveals Order 3 and moves up 5 spaces.  She attacks with 2 die but misses!

Round Two:  All Order Tokens on the Troll.  Order 1 & 2 on Tandros, 3 and decoy on Ana.   Initiative roll:  Adventurers 20, Troll 20 Re-roll: 20 vs. 9

Tandros reveals Order 1 and swings at the Troll but gets only 1 Skull.  The Troll rolls all blanks for defense so it’s a hit for 1 point of damage.  The Troll reveals Order 1 and lashes out at Tandros.  He rolls  4 die (since he has 1 wound), but only gets 1 Skull.   The defender's roll fails so he takes 1 damage and the Troll regenerates 1 wound!  Tandros reveals Order 2 and stabs the Troll in the groinal area.  He gets 2 Skulls and the Troll fails to defend.  Two hits!  The Troll reveals Order 2 and  attacks Tandros with 5 dice!  (2 bonus for his wounds)  He rolls 2 Skulls, but Tandros rolls 4 Shields in defense so there's no damage!   The Troll regenerates 1 wound!    Ana reveals Order 3, moves up 5 spaces including 1 extra point for going up one terrain level.  She attacks the Troll with a 2-die ranged attack and gets 1 hit which the Troll fails to defend!  The Troll reveals Order 3 and tries to eat Tandros's face.  He rolls 5 dice and gets 3 Skulls!  Defense roll:  only 1 Skull.  Two hits and the Troll regenerates 1 wound!

Round Three:  All Order Token on the Troll (d'uh).  Order 1 & 2 on Tandros, 3 and decoy on Ana.   Initiative roll:  Adventurers 4, Troll 12

The Troll reveals Order 1, tries to maul Tandros.   He rolls 4 die and gets 2 Skulls.  The defense roll is a bust so Tandros takes another hit and the Troll regenerates 1 wound!  Tandros reveals Order 1 and pokes at the Troll only getting 1 Skull which he defends!  The Troll reveals Order 2 and tries to pummel  Tandros with 4 die…but no Skulls!  He regenerates 1 wound as a consolation prize!  Tandros reveals Order 2 and tries to perforate Monsieur Troll.  He gets Skulls, which goes undefended for 2 hits.   The Troll reveals Order 3 and flies into Tandros with 5 dice.  He rolls 4 Skulls!  Defense roll:  only rolls 1 Shield, takes 3 damage and he’s killed!  Troll regenerates 1 wound!  Ana reveals Order 3, moves up 4 spaces and tries to free the caged Erevan.  Rolls 1, fails! 

Round Four:  All Order Tokens on the Troll (whatta shocka).  All Order Tokens on Ana.   Initiative roll:  Adventurers 19, Troll 13. 

Ana reveals Order 1  She rolls an 18 and manages to free Erevan!   Troll reveals Order 1 and moves up 5, ending up partially in the shadows.  Ana reveals Order 2.  She jumps into the water to flee from the Troll, then rolls 2 Skulls on a 2-die ranged attack.  The Troll defends successfully (after rolling 2 dice thanks to the shadow)!  The Troll has taken 7 points of total damage so far this game.  He was fully healed but now has 1 wound!  The Troll reveals Order 2.  He moves adjacent to Ana and attacks her, hitting with two undefended Skulls and then regenerates one point.  Ana reveals Order 3.  She scampers up the bank (taking one Leaving Engagement point of damage in the effort) and retreats back but also fires off a 2-die ranged attack but it’s a miss!  Troll reveals Order 3.  He moves into the water and then attacks Erevan.  He rolls one Skull but Erevan defends with a Shield!          

Round Five:  All Order Tokens on the Troll (Zounds!).  Order 1 & 2 on Erevan, 3 and decoy on Ana.   Initiative roll:  Adventurers 18, Troll 14

Erevan reveals Order 1.  Troll misses him as he breaks Engagement and backs up four spaces.  He tries a four point fire blast and rolls three Skulls!  Defense…no!  Fails!  Troll reveals Order 1, moves up 5 and Engages with Ana (knowwhutImean knowwhutImean, nudge nudge, wink wink).  Attacks with 6 die!  He scores three hits, and Ana's defense…fails!  She's killed!  Troll heals 1 point of damage!  Erevan reveals Order 2.  He moves back five spaces onto another higher outcropping, fires off with another blast.  He rolls 4 hits on 5 dice (+1 due to elevation)!!!   Troll defence…failed!  Takes four points of damage!  Troll reveals Order 2.  He lumbers up 4 spaces and tries to stick his dick in  Erevan's ear.  He rolls 3 hits on 6 dice!  Defense roll:  rolls 3 Shields (+1 die for higher ground!)  Only 1 damage. Troll heals 1 point of damage!  Ana’s Order is wasted.  Troll reveals Order 3 and crawls up 4 spaces to be on par with Erevan.  6 die attack:  three Skulls.  Defense:   failed, Erevan takes 3 points of damage.  Troll heals one! 

Round Six:  All Order Tokens on the Troll.  All Order Tokens on Erevan.   Initiative roll:  Adventurers 20, Troll 3.  

Erevan reveals Order 1.  He tries a 4-die fire blast, rolling 3 Skulls! Defense…rolls 1 Shield and is still alive!  Troll reveals Order 1 and lashes out with 6 die!  He scores two hits, Erevan's defense fails and the mage is eaten like a Boston Pizza chicken wing! 

Post Match Commentary: Wow, pretty crazy stuff.  Obvious tactical error is “splitting the party”, so to speak.  Both starting adventurers probably need to try and rescue Erevan together.  The Troll’s regeneration ability seems pretty insane when he’s solo.  It would be hard to overcome it even with three active characters.  I wonder if I played it right?

Still, with a bit of luck this can go either way.  Erevan rolled dynamite but he just couldn’t defeat the Troll alone.  I’d like to try this again soon.

So, with HeroScape now fresh in my mind, I was ready to host the game last Wednesday.  Since I potentially had four other people showing up (Andrew, Dean, Chad, and our newest pledge Mark), I intended to create one of the mega-maps from the core set.

But then, like a game group version of "Ten Little Indians", the numbers begin to drop off.  Mark was out first due to familial responsibilities (*Ppfffffttt!!!*).  Andrew had contracted the Andromeda Strain and I knew it had to be serious.  Andrew's kinda like the bugs in Starship Troopers; you can blow off one of his limbs and he's still 86 percent gaming effective.  Dean, on the other hand, blearily called me just before kick-off time and said:

"Um, yeah, seeing as it's ten to eight right now and I just woke up..."

But this isn't really a bad thing.  As people started to drop out, I began scaling down to the first scenario, which is perfect for two players.

Chad arrives and quickly assumes the mantle of the Troll, since it's only one character to control.  After a quick Headless Hollow tutorial, we're off to the races.

After reading and adopting the rule that two-space figures can just walk across water, Chad charges the Troll directly at me.  I try and split the offense and hope I don't get beat up too badly.  Tandros crosses one side of the river and is forced to go toe-to-toe with the beastie:

When Chad rolls his first attack he points out a major gaff that I made during the solo run.  The Troll's "Blood Frenzy" ability gives him extra attack dice only if his target is wounded, not if the Troll is hurt.  D'oh!  I though it was a "berserk-with-pain" and not a "piranha feeding frenzy" sorta deal.  Oh, well.    

Ana flanks the creature just long enough to try and get past him.  I try and keep Tandros in motion as well, but both of them take wounds as they try and run past. 

Tandros is killed before he can get back to the cage, but he buys Ana enough time to free Erevan.  The effort has her pretty beat up as well, not to mention caught in  terrible defensive spot.  As such, Chad's Troll then proceeds to gorilla-fuck her to death.

Erevan uses his fey step (which is sorta gay, but not in a bad way) to beam past the Troll, luring him back to the entrance.  I get super-lucky and manage to fry the fucking thing with two four-skull fireballs.

In Game Two Chad wisely keeps Ana and Tandros together as they try and maneuver past mein Troll.  Ana's healing ability actually keeps the beatstick alive.  At first I'm hoping that Chad runs out of time, but he manages to free Erevan just before he drowns.

So, for the first time ever, all three heroes are united against the evil Troll!

But Tandros has been pretty beat up by the effort.  Chad wisely tries to keep Ana close to him for some hot "lay-on-hands" action, but it just doesn't happen frequently enough.  My damage rolls aren't stellar, but without those healing rolls I eventually kill the stubborn little fuck.

Mercifully Ana's 2-die attacks are also like water off a big, scaly, green, regenerating duck's back.  She's also bloodied, so I keep hammering at her with the Troll's blood frenzy, dropping her quicker then a co-ed's tube top on Spring Break.

I start chasing that wily fuck Erevan around the board.  I do a slightly better job keeping the Troll within mangling range but this still doesn't prevent the Eladrin wiener from tea-bagging my Troll with a few  well-placed Fireballs to the mush.

So, two "Hero" wins, but with heavy losses.  All told, a pretty balanced scenario.

Okay, I clearly like the game, so now what?  I guess I'll just go ahead and pick up some of the D&D-flavored expansion packs.

Oh, wait...It's out of print?!?!?

Regardless of its fleeting availability, I've gotta give D&D HeroScape four pips outta six!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

By Way Of Introduction...

Defenders of the Dicetower, I hereby present to you:

A General Timeline Leading Up To The Creation Of "Yet Another Friggin' Gaming Blog":

1975-1982:  I develop an embryonic awareness of board games and soon became decidedly intrigued by them.  And yes, that includes Clue.

1983-1997: In succession I invariably fall head-over-heels in lurve with war games, and RPG's.  After a tragically futile period of time in which I tried to avoid self-imposed celibacy, collectible card and eurogames quickly pulled me back in Al Pacino-style, turning my intrigue into obsession.

1998-July 12, 2010: Board Game Geek educated me on the endless variety of available games out there and was also kind enough to tell me which ones suck.  My ability to quantify games and purchase the ones which scratch a certain itch caused my personal collection to balloon well past one-hundred.

Yeah, I know what yer thinkin':


June 2001 - present  Caught up in Lord of the Rings-mania I managed to rope my wife Cheryl and five of my "gamier" peeps (Dean, his wife Claudia, Sabina, Thomas, and later Angela) into playing Dungeons & Dragons.  I was immediately reminded of how much I love the game when the following spontaneous exchange occurred:

ME: Okay, Dean, you completely missed the thing.  Claudia...the creature tries to grab you by the throat.  It rolls..."16".  OooOooo, a hit!  You start to black out with a ghoul on top of you...

CHERYL: (without missing a beat) Yeah, but how's that different from any other night?


We've probably only played about ten sessions in total, with the last one happening in July of 2010, but every once in awhile I feel the hankering to write up a new adventure.  Of course, this is just a flimsy excuse to get everyone back together let them murder a bunch of poor, defenseless orcs.

Oh, I'm also supposed to be playing in a Ravenloft campaign, but it's pretty much dead in the water until our illustrious DM comes up for air after playing Star Wars: The Old Republic for a month straight. 

Goddamned MMORPG's.  Fuckin' up my Christmas...

Feb 27'th 2004-present:  After purchasing about fourteen-thousand dollars worth of Star Wars Miniatures, I record my very first board game session report on loose-leaf paper as well as every one that followed.  When my wife catches me indulging in this pathetic behavior she offers to play with me occasionally.  Bless her boundless heart.

January 6, 2010  After a decade's worth of careful consideration, yours truly and two other equally oblivious friends (Andrew and Dean) finally decide to set aside one night a week just to play boardgames.  I tell ya, we're nothing if not spontaneous.

Chad joins us a week later (nice profile, buddy!) and Mike is inducted as a permanent member in June of 2011 while I'm away in Toronto.  Privately, Mike has since told me that he still has a hard time sitting down for any real length of time.  I don't have the heart to tell him that there wasn't supposed to be an initiation.

April 2010 to present  I start writing this lame-ass blog.  Since it's all about me and my oddball interests, I end up writing no less then nine separate posts about gaming.  Wanting to preserve my blog's original mission statement (I.E. as a place for me to bitch about my shitty work experiences, failed creative ventures and cock-eyed views on life)  I decided to spin off any future game-related posts right here.

Please note that my decision had absolutely nothing to do with being inspired by such dedicated game bloggers as Zak Smith, Jeff Rients and  Mike Moscrip.  Nope.  No, sirree.

As such, YAFGB will include my latest session reports (sometimes with reviews), older accounts from the archives (which should amuse the original participants at the very least), and anything game-related that I wanna just sound off on.

In doing so, I'm sure it'll be vastly different from the one-hojillion other gaming blogs out there.

July 13, 2010-Dec 7'th 2011  I managed to play well over fifty new board games in just over a year.  Yeah, I can hear you guys now: