Saturday 18 January 2014

Legacy of the Gods - Episode 1 (7th Voyage AAR)

With no warning at all I've found myself buying 7th Voyage from Crooked Dice and beginning a solo campaign charting the heroic journey of the young Altheus (nerd points available for getting the reference) as he grapples with his heroic legacy and battles nefarious villains and stop motion monsters along the way.

The idea came from a combination of some excellent advice I read online about solo wargaming, a hankering to try out Crooked Dice's rules, a Greek army sitting unused since the demise of WAB and childhood memories of Ray Harryhausen's fantastic creations.

So here goes...

Legacy of the Gods - Episode 1: His Father's Son

The episode opens with a young warrior (Altheus) knelt before a statue of Ares, the God of War, in a ruined temple. After a moment, Altheus stands and moves what remains of the doorway. He pauses, and turns to look at the statue again before he speaks.

"Still you give me no word, no sign grandfather."

He turns to go, but the camera lingers on the impassive face of the statue.

Cut away to a hill overlooking the ruined temple. A motley assortment of Thracian bandits look down towards Altheus leaving the temple.

"Take him," sneers the leader.

The scenario I chose for my first game was a small skirmish between Altheus, a Favoured Champion who'd traded the Insprational special effect for Shield, and a group of five Mercenary extras accompanied by a single Psiloi wielding a sling. Despite my attempt at random deployment for the villains using scatter dice, the villains were clumped together at the edge of the table.

The villains gained initiative and immediately rushed forwards. I decided that in the campaign, all villains would have a 'script' which would govern their movements. The Thracian Mercenaries would always move directly towards the nearest enemy, whilst the Psiloi would do the same, unless the opportunity for a clear shot could be gained.

The Thracians continued to gain the initiative round after round, and Altheus soon found himself under fire and beset by assailants on all sides. Despite his ability to Parry and his Shield, I quickly burned through the event cards (none which were directly useful as anything other than a modifier) just trying to keep Altheus in the fight.

Amidst the flurry of attacks, Altheus began to show his prowess, and despite continuing to lose the initiative, two of the Bandits fell to his blade. However, numbers told and with the event cards expended, Altheus was eventually beaten into unconsciousness and captured.

As Altheus' vision blurs, fade to memories of his younger life in Thebes: playing as a child; being stronger and faster than the other children; learning the arts of war and being told of his heritage.

Altheus' mother tells him than his grandfather was one of the Spartoi, the 'Sown Men' of Thebes and sons of Ares, God of War. Altheus resolves to venture to Thrace, Ares' birthplace, to search for his destiny and prove himself to his 'grandfather'.

Fade back to present, Altheus is chained to a wall and beaten by two Thracians. As his rage builds, we something burning behind his eyes and suddenly the tables are turned and the chains fall loose. Altheus uses the chain to quickly disable his tormentors. He grabs his sword, shield and helm and slips away.

Suddenly, a horn sounds and the hunt is on.

The next part of the story would be the Escape scenario. Altheus would be attempting to flee the table, whilst 5 Mercenaries and 4 Psiloi (1 sling, 3 javelins) would try to stop him.

Altheus luck immediately changed from the first scenario. Not only did he automatically have initiative in the first turn, but the event cards he was dealt were infinitely more useful for the scenario.

The random deployment of the Thracians also helped as a flank was left weakly guarded and Altheus headed straight for it. Whilst the Thracians rushed to stop him.

Altheus was immediately confronted by the Thracian that had blindsided him earlier. However, a skillful parry and winning an initiative roll for the first time helped him to dispatch his opponent with little fuss. Something had changed in young Altheus.

Nevertheless, the Thracians continued to swarm towards our hero.

Judicious use of the Out of Step and Run For It! Event cards allowed Altheus to keep one step ahead and take down several Thracians one at a time rather than get swamped again.

Surveying the damage he had wrought, Altheus notes the advancing enemy and decides that having proved his worth, it was time to leave.

As Altheus disappears over the hill, the bandit leader emerges. With lightning speed he slices the throats of two of his subordinates.

"Failure will not be tolerated. It looks like I must finish this myself. Find him!"

Cut to the ruined temple of Ares, which Altheus has found his way to again. The statue glows and animates as the God of War manifests to speak with Altheus.

"You seek your destiny? It is hidden from me, but you could be a great hero, lay your enemies low and stand alongside Theseus and Heracles. No more running, they come for you. Stand tall and meet your fate like a warrior."

The statue returns to stone and Altheus draws his sword, and walks out to meet his fate.

I decided to introduce a co-star for the finale, and so the bandit leader was a standard Deadly Assassin, accompanied by a Mercenary and a Psiloi on a mission to slay Altheus. Despite bringing in a more dangerous opponent, fate conspired to make this finale much less dramatic than expected.

Having located their quarry, the villains seized the initiative and moved purposefully towards the ruined temple.

Inspired by the words of Ares, Altheus rushed out to attack. In a blur of iron and bronze, our hero dispatched a surprised Psiloi and leapt towards the bandit leader. A furious exchange of blows ensued but the bandit failed to leap aside in time and was caught on Altheus blade. The remaining Thracian fails his shaken test and runs for the hills.

"Who are you?" splutters the dying bandit.

A blood-spattered Altheus stands, and walks back towards the temple. Standing before the statue he says quietly, "I am Altheus, favoured of Ares."

So, that's it. My first real go at narrative solo gaming, and I have to say that it was a lot of fun.

7th Voyage is a really simple and effective set of rules which helped a lot, as I didn't spend my time constantly flicking through the rule book. What's more the simplicity means that this will be an easy game to teach and so will be very good for encouraging others to play what is essentially a niche period.

My solo play house rules worked quite well. The balance is in Altheus favour, but that's not a problem as it kind of gives him plot armour. Also, during the first game, a run of poor roles showed that the bad guys do stand a chance.

I'm adding up his VPs for character and cast development, currently he's got 9 rating points to either spend or save. I've already decided that extras can be added in scenarios without cost, but co-stars need saving for.

I'm already planning a series of episodes where Ares tests Altheus, and my WFB collection is likely to be raided for stop motion monsters.

Monday 6 January 2014

An Enterprising Opponent

Our next couple of games in our Star Trek: Attack Wing campaign were played over the weekend and saw Romulans defending against a Klingon invasion in a match up which will be hence forth known as a 'Cloak Off'. Meanwhile, my mighty Dominion fleet decided to have a go at expanding in a different direction and take on somebody they could actually see; the Federation.

As usual, my fleet consisted of three ships: Breen Battleship the 'Gor Portas' commanded by Thot Gor, a Jem'hadar Attack ship packing phased polaron beams (which ignore enemy shields) and a Cardassian Galor Class ship. I feel that I'm missing a ship as I'm still having to pack my ships with upgrades which feel surplus to requirements.

With Picard injured, the Federation fleet was led by the 'Enterprise' captained by Will Riker, a Miranda class ship with Clark Terrell in charge and a second Galaxy class ship packing an array of fiendish mines.

The beginning of the second turn, and everything seems to be going well...
Thing began well, with the Federation flying its two Galaxy class ships towards my fleet, whilst Clark Terrell took his ship around the back of the planet. Facing a divided enemy, the Dominion leaped forwards and poured photon torpedoes and polaron beams into the Federation fleet, knocking down the shields on one ship and putting early hull damage on the Enterprise. However, the Jem'hadar Attack Ship was engulfed in phaser fire and immediately put out of action.

The Cardassian ship tried to add fire to proceedings and aided the Gor Portas in taking down the Galaxy class ship. However, in return the Gor Portas was mined, torpedoed and phasered into submission, leaving the Galor class ship outnumbered, outgunned and outmaneuvered. It's one advantage of a 180 degree fire arc was worthless against a Miranda (180 degree also) and the Enterprise (360 degree) so I was left with no option but to run and hope I could turn quickly enough to return fire.

"Quick, turn around before space ends!"
I  did managed to separate the enemy ships by flying round the planet and traded shots with the Miranda, knocking down its shields. However, the Galor was left severely weakened and unable to match the Federation's maneuverability, was eventually cornered and destroyed.

I managed to avoid losing any unique cards for the campaign, but both the Gor Portas and Thot Gor we injured, and as I was attacking I didn't lose territory. However the addition of new ships to the Dominion fleet can't come quickly enough for me. I made a couple of mistakes by not going after the Miranda earlier, or concentrating my fire in the early exchanges, but I still feel over-matched by all three opponents.

Meanwhile, on the other side of space, the Martok led his Klingon fleet into Romulan space and promptly wished he hadn't as a generic Romulan fleet demonstrated the art of concentrating fire and systematically pounded one Klingon ship after another into dust.

This looks like the Romulans are surrounded, however,
those target locks tell a slightly different story.

With attacks proving fiendishly difficult to pull off for no significant reason, there's been little movement on the map. This campaign could last for some time at this rate.

Unless people start attacking me that is...

Klingon Fleet 1 - I.K.S. Kronos OneChang ("Once more unto the breech"), Kerla
Klingon Fleet 2 - I.K.S. Gr'OthMartok
Federation Fleet 1 - U.S.S. Enterprise DJean-Luc Picard, Will Riker, Clark Terrell
Federation Fleet 2 - Generic
Romulan Fleet 1 - Donatra
Romulan Fleet 2 - Mirok, N'Vek
Romulan Fleet 3 - Generic
Dominion Fleet 1 - KraxonGul Ranor
Dominion Fleet 2 - Glinn Telle
Dominion Fleet 3 - Gor Portas (injured), Thot Gor (injured), Luaran

Thursday 2 January 2014

Building For The Future

Well, it's that time of year again that gives me a chance to look back on what I've achieved and look forward to what I intend to get done.

Let's review 2013 first:

Batman Miniatures Game - I started this in 2013 and I have to say that I'm pleased with how I've done. 19 Miniatures done along with three buildings, lampposts and terrain for my board. Here's the latest building from Sarissa Precision:

This was a Christmas present and an absulute doddle to put together compared with both the Dust Tactics building and the Warbases warehouse. Especially considering that it has more detail than either. There's still a bit of finishing to do, but Sarissa can probably expect more of my money.

Resolution 1 - continue to paint and build at a steady rate. I got Bane, two more Joker thugs and two more cops for Christmas and I've decided to use a few more Clix figures for my Penguin crew, so there's plenty to do. I also want to get more games in.

Flames of War - one campaign finished, another one halfway done and a bucket load of games played. My Americans gained an infantry platoon whilst my Germans got Nebelwerfers and PaK 36's.

Resolution 2 - Get the Lorraine Campaign finished and possibly play a big D-Day landing game on the 70th anniversary.

Zombies - Zomtober got me motivated to finally start this project and now have two dozen fresh shamblers, half a dozen civilians and a couple of survivors.

Resolution 3 - begin my solo All Thing Zombie Campaign. I've a couple of survivors to do before this can happen, but I'm very close.

Bolt Action - had a brief flurry with this, and Matt and I settled on these as our preferred rules for VBCW. I've half-painted a 500 point Russian force.

Resolution 4 - Finish the Russians and the two VBCW units that have sat unpainted all year.

Impetus - another passing fad that I need to return to. I obtained Sicilian Greek army from Bill and began painting, although I only did a few stands.

Resolution 5 - paint the Greeks.

Bloodbowl - I began the year finishing off my Halflings/Mushrooms team and competed in a league where I actually managed to win a game.

Resolution 6 - play in another league this year with a team that has a bit more chance of winning.

Star Trek: Attack Wing - one of three games that I've been lured into by Pete in one way or another, but I'm enjoying it and in my customary manner have developed campaign rules for.

Resolution 7 - Continue with the campaign and try to learn how to make the Dominion not suck.

The Club - our club, the Wargamers Free Company, came to an end due to the differing priorities and family commitments  of the members. Although disappointing at the time, it has led to Matt, Pete and I (along with Wes on board game nights) forming a free-floating mini club which is a blast as we are pretty much in tune in terms of gaming interests and attitudes.

Resolution 8 - try to get more games in with folk from the old club, which includes getting out to the South Yorkshire Dice Devils in Rotherham at some point.

Resolution 9 - Begin work on my War of 1812 US Napoleonics, not only to clear the back log, but to help give Matt some motivation with his British.

The Blog - despite a couple of pauses, I've managed to keep this going on a fairly regular basis and I'm particularly happy that I've started to get some semi-regular contributors on the comments. Joining in Zomtober was a big success and I hope this can continue in the future.

Resolution 10 - Keep the blog regular and be more active in the blogging community. I'm a bit of a lurker, but if I want people to comment on here, I've got to get out and do the same on other blogs.

All in all, 2013 was a successful year for me in gaming terms. I've not painted masses, but I'm painting for myself and achieving a higher standard than ever before. Most of my long delayed personal projects have got off the ground and I'm really enjoying all aspects if my hobby as much as I ever have.

Here's hoping 2014 is as successful.

Happy New Year blogosphere!