Monday, January 23, 2017

Age of Sigmar: First Matched Play

Am I behind the times or what? Saturday I drove over to the Warhammer store in Ann Arbor and got a 1k point pick up game, my first game since the Generals' Handbook was released and my second overall.  My opponent played Aelves and I had Gutbuster Ogres. I don't know all the Aelf units all that well, but it was a bolt thrower (long range, lots of damage 1 shots with -1 rend) with a Loremaster nearby to cast buffus extremis on it, a unit of archers, a unit of Phoenix Guard with an Anointed hero nearby, a unit of 5 cav (Silver Helms? Dragon Princes? I dunno), some spearmen or halberdiers or something and a general Lord Elfy on horsey. I had a tyrant, a butcher, 6 ironguts, 3 ogors and 3 ogors.


I got tabled at the end of turn 3, but he had very little left by then. The bolt thrower, 4 archers, 2 or 3 Phoenix guard and the loremaster. I probably could have won if I had played a few things differently, but it was definitely a learning game. Here are a few observations:
  1. Two saves are better than one - Anything that gets an armor save and then another save (even a 5+ save) has a lot more staying power than a single save model. Those Phoenix Guard with their 4+/4+ save were crazy resilient.
  2. Things to lower bravery aren't always useful - The Anointed in his army making the Phoenix guard immune to battleshock made it so that even when I kill a handful of them they weren't going to run away.
  3. Rerolls are king - the bolt thrower re-rolling hit and wound rolls was amazingly effective. Having to make 5 or 6 armor saves on anything is going to hurt. On normal ogors with 5+ saves rended to 6+, it's brutal.
  4. Kill the big guys when you have the chance - I opted to let him attack my tyrant with his cav general, thinking there is no way he could kill an 8 wound warlord with a 3+ save. He wasn't, but he did 6 wounds to me. Ouch. Battle brew did another and archers finished me off.
My opponent Thomas was a nice guy, and didn't have a tremendous amount of AoS experience either. We worked through the rules, looking things up when needed. It was nice to have such a limited number of pages that contained rules. No more "I know I read that somewhere...." syndrome. Our biggest problem was forgetting to use our skills/powers/artifacts.

I had a little internal laugh because Thomas was clearly a paint snob, making a point of how he only fielded painted models and was an excruciatingly slow painter. Don't get me wrong, he was a really, really nice guy and I would play against him again in a heartbeat. I just find paint-snobbery a little exasperating in a game that encourages constant buying of little plastic dudes. To each his own. I really like the look of two painted armies on the table too. I heard someone chat on Warhammer TV that their local club rule is that painted models have "preferred enemy: unpainted model" which cracks me up.


Monday, May 02, 2016

The Game Will Not Be Denied

We made a grave error by thinking we could get away with letting that whole endeavor thing pass from last lantern year. No problem. We just skip getting endeavor this year and draw another event and see where that goes.

Us: "Hey, it's all good, The net result is the same and it would be a pain to go back and undo all the rolls we did."
KD:M: "Pain? I'll show you pain."

We started the settlement phase and immediately drew.... plague. Plague is what wiped a prior settlement. We are terrified of plague. It's especially bad when you have a limited number of survivors to choose from, since it can only infect survivors with at least 1 hunt XP. Each of the four you choose has a 20% chance to die from contracting the plague.

We lost all four. One of them was a savior.

Also, plague comes back next lantern year. That means we have to choose four more survivors to roll on the plague table. More potential tragedy.


For the hunt, we decided to add Spidicules to the campaign, the first expansion we've added. For a new campaign he could replace the Screaming Antelope, so we thought that would work well.

Yeah, right. Remember the pain thing?

Warning: some Spidicules spoilers here...
Right away, the "Young Rivals" story event to introduce the big spidery ball ended up losing us an experienced survivor. We were really down to a limited number of survivors who had been on a hunt at this point.

We set out with two new survivors, the red savior and the experienced archer Link. Getting Link to bow mastery is part of our settlement strategy to allow more survivors to get bow specialist points. Right away the hunt started oddly. We faced a muggy heat wave and had to roll for heat exhaustion. We all laughed because last time we faced a snap of freakish cold that damaged the unarmored. What did we get later in that hunt? The cold snap again. Survivor Al was especially beat down by the cold.

What went especially well was the hunt event that resulted in our getting the rare gear Spidicules sword. We couldn't use it this time but we'll have that one ready for next time.

Facing Spidicules was scary but not terrible. In fact, we walked out of that encounter with more survivors than walked in thanks to the nest at the center of the table, from which we freed two captives. He flings lots of little spiderlings around, and they are a decent enough threat but easy to kill. We must have drawn another easy AI deck or immediately buried any difficult cards because nobody suffered any maiming. At the end of the showdown, the spider (another spider maybe?) grabbed survivor Al and carried him off. We'll find out what happened to him if we fight the spider again or as a settlement event on lantern year 11.

We took our loot and headed back. One thing we didn't really notice before is how great armor sets are. If you have all the same type of armor in all five slots you get some pretty good (and fairly distinct) buffs. Things like being able to switch hits to other locations or getting spent survival back 50% of the time. We only noticed it when adding the Spider Silk armor card to the set.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

I'm Still Writing Lantern Year 5 On All My Checks

Lantern Year 6 is almost over. Sometimes it gets a little sketchy as to when one lantern year stops and another one starts, since part of the settlement phase happens in one lantern year and the rest in another lantern year. In this case, the settlement event (haunted) from lantern year 5 carried on to bite us in lantern year 6.

So, to recap....

We fought an antelope in year 5, and returned.
We drew "haunted" and lost all our endeavor for the settlement phase.
We incremented the lantern year, and fought a Kingsman (as a result of "armored strangers")

...but then we cheated.
We forgot we had lost our endeavor, and so we endeavored. We got two new survivors as a result of intimacy rolls, but nothing else in augury or scavenging. I'll get back to that after describing the hunt.

Deciding to hunt another antelope, we crafted a couple new weapons (including the counter weighted ax I've been wanting) and departed. Since Daphne died last battle I was now controlling Sharon.

Nobody likes Sharon. It all started as an in-joke with my daughter but we decided Sharon was the girl in the office (or settlement, I guess) that nobody likes or pretends to.

But Sharon got the counter-weighted ax and almost zero armor and we departed. The first thing that happened was a freakish cold snap that froze the less armored of us (I guess not everyone is smart enough to dress in layers, Sharon.)  That ended up being a big problem for Sharon when the antelope grabbed her in its gut-mouth and chewed on her. She lost an arm. Fortuitously though she managed to grab a strange toothed heart out of the beast's innards and it proceeded to barf her out. Yay! Oh, wait. Lost arm means no more counter-weighted ax. Boo. So we killed it without further maiming, and returned victorious (quit your whining, Sharon. We all have problems.)

We called it a night, only later realizing that we had spent non-existent endeavor. The idea of rewinding the settlement was daunting enough (more from inconvenience than result) that we decided to lose the endeavor from this settlement phase instead. Yeah, I know. We have been really hardcore about doing things exactly by the book, but fixing that just seemed.... onerous. None of us feel terribly guilty about it. The group is expected over here to play again in 8 minutes, so I suppose it's time to publish this.


RULES LESSON: We've been playing something wrong. During the hunt/encounter phase, resource cards do not return to the deck. That limits the number of some things you can get from a monster (makes sense, since "Lion Testes" is an option) and makes it more likely that you will get one of the rarer cards if you draw enough. Okay! We will start doing that correctly.



Sunday, March 27, 2016

Lantern Year 6: Brutally Outclassed

Having so recently killed a Screaming Antelope for the first time, the group was feeling pretty good about our combat readiness. We were also looking forward to crafting more gear now that we had some more resources.

Instead, we met an unexpected adversary.

Armored strangers entered the camp before we could even craft more gear, and marked 5 of our 10 survivors for execution. We decided to rise up and fight rather than let our population be halved.

So begins Showdown: Kingsman.

Dave couldn't make the game, so Stef, Seth and I took our red savior along and gave her the zanbato to ensure some high strength auto-hits. Survivor Hondo had his lion katars, Kiki used Link's bow and Daphne used her bone dagger.

It became evident quickly that this was going to be difficult. The Kingsman uses his own fighting style, and could easily counter any one of us. Only by overwhelming him with attacks or attempting to learn his rhthyms can you hurt him, and attempting to match his steps can result in injury or death for you. Survivor Daphne managed to figure out his fighting style well enough to keep him distracted long enough for the others to get a swipe in. Even with Daphne figuring his style fairly early on, his attacks were devastating, destroying armor and requiring us to burn survival points to avoid too many rolls on the dreaded severe injury table. Daphne kept close to ensure she could keep him distracted, but ended up getting her head exploded near the end of the battle. Hondo suffered a leg injury and can no longer use fighting arts. Kiki and red savior Zelda escaped unscathed. The dying Kingsman drops no resources.

So now we are down a survivor and haven't even done the lantern year 6 hunt.

Spoiler: for landing the killing blow on the Kingsman, Hondo is now cursed to slowly become a Kingsman. It might. Not happen for a while (at least 4 more hunts, likely many more) but it's inevitable. Even in victory this world punishes.




Monday, March 14, 2016

I Have Two Mouths And I Must Scream

Lantern year 5 started with emboldened survivors ready to take on new quarry. The "bold" didn't last long.

Right off the bat, the settlement event resulted in two of us getting our strength decreased by one. Ouch. Nick-names... who said names can't hurt you?

We had been living in fear of the Screaming Antelope ever since seeing the artwork depicting its stomach maw devouring survivors. This game is brutal, but that was especially horrifying. Nevertheless, we had recently geared up, had some decent survivors and thought it time to try something beyond the lion. Hondo was concerned about his 0 insanity going into the battle, but went anyway.

On the hunt phase, we were immediately subjected to a stampede, which struck Kiki right in the head, splattering her brains all over us. Everyone suffered brain damage as a result. This was really starting poorly. We even started asking if there was a way to back out... there wasn't. We were on the hunt now.

....except, that didn't really happen...

A little further investigation revealed that event damage is non-lethal. It can cause woulds, but can't make you roll on the dreaded tables. Kiki's head miraculously reassembled itself. We all got some insanity back, Hondo and Daphne recovered from the disorders they had so recently acquired and we were on our way. It's funny how our first reaction to this was not relief but surprise. The game didn't kill us with extreme prejudice?! We lived?! Even so, we were all down 2 damage in each slot, which put us at a perilous disadvantage.

The group had actually modeled our various survivors, so not only were we hunting new quarry but we weren't using starting survivor miniatures for the first time.
Stef modeled Kiki with her huge Zanbato and Seth modeled Hondo with his lion katars, both of which their survivors are using. I chose a somewhat different route, since I'd only ever used a bone dagger. I modeled a survivor with the counter-weighted ax (a very cool looking bit) and holding a lantern out, as if on the hunt phase. Now that I've got some skill with dagger I'll probably model another survivor with daggers, since the daggers you can get from the blacksmith are pretty great.

Dave even went so far as to magnetize Link's limbs/head so that he could reflect gear as the game went on. He's a fellow "bakcer" (in-joke: game creator Adam Poots is a famously bad speller, so his kickstarter backers are colloquially known as "bakcers") so he's got all the bits at home to make his own minis.

Side note: as a fellow "bakcer" Dave and I both received the Spidicules expansion. There is a huge packing issue with that kit, with many people receiving a duplicate leg sprue instead of the two distinct sprues they should have received. Dave and I each had the problem, but it turns out that he got two of sprue #1 and I got two of sprue #2. We swapped a sprue and now each have a full Spidicules!

The battle with the antelope was much less eventful as we thought it might be. There wasn't even much screaming involved. I ended up getting bashed against the side of the board, so the antelope stayed over by me as the others harvested acanthus plants to prevent the antelope from regenerating. We must have pulled the easiest AI deck possible because everything just fell into place. The claw head arrow lowering the beast's evasion by 1 didn't hurt us either. I burned almost all my survival avoiding rolling on any severe injury tables, and everyone got a good hit in for weapon proficiency progression before bringing it down. We gathered up our newly acquired resources and headed back to the settlement.

In the settlement phase, we drew "haunted." Since our last session had resulted in Al and Peggy playing out "Story Event: The First Hookup" and Peggy dying, we decided to nominate Al as the survivor to see ghosts. We decided to keep him around, and so lost all our endeavor for the year. Nuts. No innovation, no augury, no salvage.

Now comes the hard part of figuring out what to craft out of this stuff! After the Butcher popped the only resource we had were broken lanterns, so it's nice to be able to make some stuff again.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

San Francisco Dark Ride

Somehow we got on the topic of San Francisco today at work (and the "treat" that is Rice-a-roni) and I remembered this:
Skip to 4:45 for the "Old San Francisco" ride.

I rode this thing when I was five years old, and loved it. I was easy to impress as a pre-K I suppose.
We had a 45 rpm record of that "San Francisco, San Francisco out on San Francisco Bay..." song for years and years.

Good times.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

KD:Monster ... a very unlikly night

If there's one thing we've learned playing Kingdom Death: Monster is that the game is relentlessly brutal. A single attack can take a survivor from unhurt to dead if the dice and cards conspire against you. Even the phase after the battle can wipe out an entire settlement. If you commit yourself to following things exactly as drawn/rolled this game will run you over like a semi, then back up to finish the job. Unforgiving doesn't cover it.

As a group, we've committed to letting the chips (or more often, severed limbs) fall where they may. We've also tried very hard not to read ahead, experiencing things as the survivors would. That's why last night's session was so amazing. It didn't start that way though. The settlement event saw two of our characters re-enacting a hunt and one of them being killed in the process. Ouch. On the settlement enhancement side, we had been constantly struggling with whether to invest resources in new settlement assets or gear for survivors. We knew we were going to face the Butcher this year, but we still had the whole rest of the settlement phase to do prepare. It turns out there was very little we could craft, so we innovated and got bed to go with our hovel. We still had some endeavor left so we gave augury a shot. The dice came up "intimacy", which was thrilling and terrifying. The only other time we'd used intimacy resulted in both survivors dying at a time when we were low on survivors. That settlement was eventually wiped.

So we looked up the intimacy story event, and were pleased that both hovel and bed enhanced it. Neither removed the potential lethal aspects, but added some nice enhancements to the good results. So survivors Al and Peggy got bizzay and... Peggy and the child died and Al was traumatized. Lovely. Driven more by a surplus of endeavor we augured again and got... intimacy. Okay, this could still be a good thing since we were out of unnamed survivors. We held our breath and rolled ... a lantern! Twins! No, wait. With hovel it triggered a different event. Birth of a Savior! Saviors are the super-humans of the Kingdom Death world, not invincible but definitely enhanced. We chose the red variant, which has better attack skills. The whole group was giddy about getting such a great edition to our settlement.

We looked at wrapping up the settlement phase and getting to the Butcher, but we still had one more endeavor to spend. We decided to auger again, and rolled an 8... intimacy again?! Alright! Stef threw a die for the intimacy table and... another lantern! We had another savior born! This time we chose the luck/range savior (green? can't remember...) and planned to equip with bow. That extra luck for scoring crits would be handy.

Now the mood was decidedly less grim than a normal KD:M session. (Don't get me wrong, we love the grim. It is a nightmare horror game, after all.) Two saviors in one lantern year. But now it was time to face the Butcher. We decided to leave the saviors out of the fight, since we only get a few battles with them before they disappear forever. Tonight the regular survivors would face the nemesis monster.

Like I said, we've really been trying to keep the game suprising for ourselves by not reading ahead, so we had no idea really what the Butcher was about other than his little background blurb in the showdown section of the book. When the first AI card we drew was a mood, a scream that he does every turn that does brain damage to all survivors, the color drained from Dave's face. His current character had zero insanity, and would therefore be in mortal danger from this scream. Everyone else had a fair bit of insanity to shield our brains from the mind-rending horrors of KD. The turn the mood card came out he filled his only damage box for brain. Next turn he would have to roll on the table.

Just in case anyone missed this, "roll on the table" is typically a bad thing in KD:M. There is almost always a "you're dead" on that table.

But as luck would have it, it was Dave's turn to be the monster controller, and he could give his character a point of insanity by having the Butcher target him for an attack, That would give him yet another turn to try and do something to avoid rolling on that table. We continued to pummel the Butcher, doing some damage but not nearly enough to avoid that table for Dave.

The moment of truth finally came... the maddening screams of the Butcher pushed Dave's character to roll on the brain trauma table. The result....? Impossible! How can this be? (I think that's the actual name of the entry.) Dave gained 7 points of insanity (brain armor in this nightmare world) and +2 luck for the rest of the encounter! We proceeded to wear the foe down until he finally exploded and left broken lanterns scattered around. We didn't get any of the good drops from him, but we survived without anyone being maimed. We decided to proceed with the settlement phase next session.

Executive summary for Lantern Year 5:
2 Saviors added to settlement
The Butcher defeated

This is as close to good times as it gets for KD survivors. For the players, definitely good times.