A quick rummage through the miniature collection and a little bit of delving into the backlog threw up two small 50 ducat gangs of Rashaar and Strigoi to throw down and see if this was a game I wanted to invest in for more than just the pretty miniatures.
Having read the rules, watched some videos and printed out some stat cards, I was ready to give the game a try. Wes kindly agreed to join me in my venture and I delved into my terrain to create setting as close to Venice as I could manage.
It's a little more backwoods bayou than the Queen of the Adriatic, but it has the key element that seemed necessary: a 'canal' complete with a bridge; some buildings to climb and leap from; and plenty of smaller obstacles to bounce around on.
I also put a single objective in the centre of the board to force us both to fight for it. The side which controlled the objective at the end of five rounds would be the winner.
In this case it seemed appropriate to place a damsel in distress who eas doomed to either be sacrificed to sea monsters or end up as an aperitif at a Vampire banquet.
The Rashaar are a race of fishmen and their tame cultists who draw more than a little inspiration from the works of H.P. Lovecraft. My small force consisted of (from left to right):
Lesser Ugdru (Henchman) - 16 Ducats
Slave (Henchman) - 7 Ducats
Demagogue (Hero) - 15 Ducats
Cult Officiant (Henchman) - 12 Ducats
They were likely to be tough in combat but slow when out of the water, with the Slave there to make up the numbers.
Meanwhile, the Strigoi are vampires of varying types. The official miniatures pay homage to the many movie versions of this classic monster. The scratched together force Wes would be controlling was (from left to right):
Nosferatu (Henchman) - 13 Ducats
2 Starved Dhampires (Henchmen) - 18 Ducats
Highborn Servant (Hero) - 14 Ducats
Poison (Equipment) - 5 Ducats
This force seemed to be quivk and aggressive glass cannons who would get stronger as the fight went on.
The game began with the Cult Officiant immediately exploring the jumping rules as she bounded across the canal, on to some barrels and then leapt down (poorly) to a position behind the house.
She was followed by the Demagogue and flanked by the Lesser Ugdru, who kept yo the waterways. The Slave brought up the rear.
In return the Strigoi also leapt across the canal with varying degrees of success and some of them ending up wet. The Highborn Servant maintained her dignity by heading for the bridge.
The second turn saw the Slave advancing recklessly and unintentionally drawing the fire of the Highborn Servant away from more valuable targets.
The shots did not totally hit their mark and the Skave took only a little damage.
Seeing an opportunity when one of the Starved Dhampires advanced too far, the Demagogue clambered up on to a roof...
...and leapt down into combat, injuring the famished creature.
However, this left the Demagogue exposed to a vicious charge from the second Dhampire, which had been flung forwards by the Nosferatu's clever use of its command ability, Shadow Walker, each blow causing the Dhampire to grow stronger.
The Strigoi seized the initiative as the enhanced Dhampire continued its relentless assault on the Demagogue leaving her on just one wound.
Realising her wnd was near, the Demagogue burned all her command points and will points to not only cut down the weaker Dhampire, but also enhance the Ugdru and Officiant.
She was in turn cut down by the remaining Dhampire, who continued to grow stronger, when we realised, too late, that the Nosferatu could use its last command point to trigger an out if sequence activation.
Realising that the Dhampire was a growing threat, and imbued by the Demagogue's martyrdom, the Officiant and Ugdru leapt in and tore the Starved Dhampire limb from limb in revenge.
Meanwhile, a frustrated Highborn leapt into combat with the Slave.
Although she only inflicted minimal damage, the Highborn Servant's poisoned blade left the Slave stunned.
We're not sure if we played the Poison correctly as the equipment rules are not in the free download.
Faced with overwhelming odds, the Nosferatu opted for an ostentatious move, clambering up onto a roof before diving down onto the Ugdru to inflict 3 points of damage and burning a number of life points in the process.
The Slave slipped away from the Highborn Servant, taking damage as she went, but diving into the embrace of the water, hoping to be of service to the injured Ugdru.
The Strigoi once again took the initiative and the dextrous Nosferatu slipped out of the clutches of the Ugdru and leapt to the safety of a nearby chimney.
Left without an target the Lesser Ugdru aimed to guard the objective whilst the Cult Officiant ran off to attack the Highborn Servant who, having reloaded, fired another poised round at the Slave, stunning her and guaranteeing her death.
The Cult Officiant and the Highborn Servant traded blows and the fickle fate of initiative left the Ugdru unable to stop the Nosferatu once again swooping in to contest the objective, leaving the game a draw.
We both really enjoyed the game. The fluidity of the movement rules led to some really dynamic moments, and the mechanics of will and command points allowed us to tinker with fate just enough. The core rules are simple enough to grasp (the most complex bit is deciphering the layout of the quick reference sheet) but will clearly be tricky to master.
I liked the game enough that I've ordered the starter set, and Wes mentioned potentially dipping his toes into the waters of Venice with the creepy-looking doctors of the Ospedale.
Expect to see more from Carnevale in due course.
Although I've not painted anything else this week, I might need to get a shift on to offset my purchases. However, I think this game more than qualifies as 'skirmish sized', therefore at least I've got another box ticked off.