The opportunity for a short notice game came up with Matt, and we decided to return to the mean streets of Venice in a bid to complete the intro campaign from the Carnevale starter box.
When last we left the Guild and Rashaar, they were in the middle of a series of scuffles over possession of a mysterious stone. Both sides had tasted victory, but only by the narrowest of margins and so things were finely poised going into the final two scenarios.
GAME 5: ASSASSINATION
Not content to let the Guild continue to meddle in their schemes, a sinister Magi-Rashaar has emerged from the depths of San Canciano, intent on unleashing eldritch powers from beyond the Rent upon its foes.
And yet the Guild know the streets truly belong to them and so the Capodecina in the area led his forces to hunt down and slay the foul creature before it could work it's fell magics.
This scenario was a straight up fight with the aim being to survive whilst making the enemy bleed. Each surviving model would score its side 1 victory point, with the added wrinkle that the Guild could score and additional 3 victory points if the Capodecina killed the Magi-Rashaar. Finally, each side could also score points from 3 secret agendas.
As might already be clear, the scenario introduced leaders into the fray, along with the rules for magic. As suggested by the scenario, the Magi-Rashaar took the Blood Rites discipline and loaded up with offensive spells.
With their mission parameters clear, the Guild advanced in force, intent on cleansing the streets of Venice of the scourge of the Rashaar. The Capodecina moved swiftly across the rooftops seeking a position from which he could leap down upon his quarry.
Meanwhile, the Rashaar all dived deep into the canal to hide their movements and take advantage of their skill in the water.
No casualties were caused and no agendas were completed, leaving the score at Guild 5 - Rashaar 5.
The Guild Citizens rushed across the bridge group together for safety in numbers, but the wily Magi-Rashaar saw this as an opportunity and unleashed the Kraken's breath upon them, causing severe damage.
Meanwhile, the Gondolier stumbled upon a Slave leaping about on boxes for no apparent reason, a fight ensued and although it didn't finish in this turn, we shan't be mentioning it again as this was a curious engagement with the Gondolier trying to not kill the Slave before disengaging with her several times. Meanwhile, the Slave was hugely embarrassing, managing to do more damage to herself than the Gondolier, who ultimately put her out of her misery in the following turn.
Seeing the Magi-Rashaar had come out of hiding, the Capodecina leapt across the canal in attempt to get to his prey. However, his leap fell short. Although he escaped harm, he could no longer reach the Magi-Rashaar and redirected his effort toward a lowly slave.
Somehow the slave survived this assault and the Capodecina was counter charged by the hideous form of a Lesser Ugdru erupting out of the canal.
Whilst this was happening, the other Ugdru continued to Hold Its Breath and dived beneath the canal once again. It's not clear what his agenda was, but it succeeded.
Guild 5 - Rashaar 6
With the foul sorcerer in the open, the Capodecina struck, inflicting significant harm on the creature but not slaying it. He just had to survive the inevitable magical counter attack and he would complete his mission in the following turn.
However, what followed was a torrent of eldritch power as the Kraken's Breath again burst out from the Magi's trident, killing two of the Citizens. Then, Blood Drain sapped the life force of the Capodecina, slaying him and revitalising the Magi-Rashaar into the bargain.
Hopelessly outnumbered, the valiant final Citizen charged into the sorcerer but failed to bring him down, and her bravery proved to be her undoing as she was in turn ripped apart by the Lesser Ugdru.
Despite killing the inept Slave, the Gondolier was now on his own against almost the entire Rashaar gang.
Guild 1 - Rashaar 5
The game was now up for the Guild and the Gondolier was pursued up on top of a building by the Lesser Ugdrus.
It was almost as if the Gondolier was trying to Draw Them In as he let one of the creatures charge him only to disengage in order to drop down onto the one still on the street, intent on cleaving its skull in two.
However, a quick read of rules for interrupting with Command Points allowed to Lesser Ugdru to slash at the Gondolier as he fell, ripping the life out of him before his blow struck home.
With a message of death well an truly sent, the Rashaar left the corpses of the Guild strewn across the streets and returned to the depths of San Canciano.
Guild 1 - Rashaar 5
GAME 6 - WAR!
The failed assassination had further inflamed tensions and both sides now prepared for all out war. The mysterious stone had now fallen into the hands of the Rashaar, but appeared to have been planted to draw these forces into conflict, control of the stone would allow its owner to find out more about their mysterious manipulator.
This final scenario used everything from the starter box and was an all out fight for control of the stone (worth 3 Victory Points). However, plenty of other points were potentially available from cycling agendas which could be doubled for even more.
In pursuit of this goal, one of the Rashaar Slaves spent almost the entire battle leaping around like a lunatic, trying to chain 4" jumps together. He failed. You won't be seeing much of him in the rest of this battle.
Meanwhile both sides began to manoeuvre into position. Whilst the Capodecina took to the rooftops, many of the Guild took the guard action with the intent to Hold Ground against the fish monsters of the Rashaar.
For their part, the Rashaar made good use of the canal to position themselves to drag the Guild beneath the depths and protect the magic stone which was in the keeping of one of their slaves.
The stage was set for an almighty showdown.
Guild 1 - Rashaar 3
The Rashaar struck first as a Lesser Ugdru sprung out of the water at a Citizen who had wandered too close to the edge and hurled her into the canal.
As she resurfaced from the initial impact a huge shape glided towards her and the mighty Raadru dragged her down beneath the surface to her doom.
In response the Guild Fishermen moved in towards the Udgru by the bridge, but almost as if they were goading the beast, the deliberately seemed to High Dive into the water as they moved up.
The new Capodecina leapt from the rooftops to attack the Magi-Rashaar and avenge his predecessor. However, just like the previous Capo, he failed to bring down his prey and was assailed by a torrent of magic and counter attacked by a Lesser Ugdru, leaving him in a weakened condition.
Guild 2 - Rashaar 3
Realising discretion was the better part of valour, the Capodecina slipped away from his foes and sought to Lead From The Front in the fight against the Raadru, Strengthened by command abilities, the Guild rained blows down upon its monstrous form. However, a Slave rushed to its aid, leaping straight into its mouth, her sacrifice lending the beast new vigour which hurled itself upon the Capodecina, leaving him with just a single life point left.
In the square, a mob of Citizens advanced towards the Magi-Rashaar, who was somewhat drained after his tussle with the Capodecina. He still had enough strength to use the Cantrip of the Devil to slay his rival from affar, the success of this casting restoring some of his will and allowing him to Blood Drain one of the Citizens to revitalise himself whilst a Lesser Ugdru rushed to place himself between the mob and his master.
Both sides expended most of their resources in this phase of the battle. The Guild prayed, "Gods Guide Us!" whilst the Rashaar grimly accepted that their Gods' Will Be Done and endured the fray.
Guild 4 - Rashaar 4
Things got brutal as the Raadru, under the command of the Magi-Rashaar, savagely mauled a Fisherman before hurling him into the canal, stunning him and then leaping after the unconscious fool. However, the beast somehow failed in its attempt to drown him, but being stunned would ensure a watery grave for the Fisherman.
The Citizens, unsure of tangling with the eerie Magi, went to attack the Lesser Ugdru at the same time. Lured in by the Decoy, one of the Citizens were cut down, but the others bludgeoned the foul beast to death.
Guild 4 - Rashaar 5
Although the Fisherman in the water was destined to die anyway, the Raadru seemed intent on drowning him, but failed again. This left it vulnerable to those members of the Guild determined to Keep The Monsters At Bay and was slain by the combined efforts of a Gondolier and a Fisherman.
At this point, something strange happened. The Slave carrying the magic stone, which had been hiding the entire time, seemed to head back towards the fray, almost seeming to act as bait in a trap that nobody but he could see...
The Guild took the bait and rushed towards him, injuring the Slave before he somehow managed to hurl one of the Citizens into the water, stunning her into the bargain. However, he was immediately set upon by another Citizen and killed, surrendering the stone to the enemy.
What actually happened here is that I realised that the scores were even after the Raadru was killed and I went for broke in trying to win the game, by trying to get another Drown action performed to win the game. I thought that the Slave would survive his encounters with the lowly Citizens.
I was wrong.
I continually underestimate just how rubbish the Slaves are at everything.
Guild 8 - Rashaar 2
The wheels had well and truly come off the Rashaar plan and desperate times called for desperate measures. Their only hope now was to try to retrieve the stone.
The remaining Slave leapt into the water and pulled the Citizen beneath the surface, determined to Let The Tide Take Them.
The Magi-Rashaar took a mighty leap onto the statue and sprang towards the last Citizen. However, he fell agonisingly short and was left with not enough time to inflict the necessary damage on the man left clutching the stone, who staggered away to bring victory to the Guild.
Final Score: Guild 8 - Rashaar 3
Ultimately, the Guild won the battle for the stone but every battle (with the possible exception of the failed assassination) was a closely fought affair. I really like Carnevale as it delivers really action-packed games full of some frankly ridiculous moments. Some of the agendas can be a bit weird in the middle of the battle (especially the parkour ones), but they at least mean that you have ways to win other than just slaughtering the enemy.
As well as the game being good, I think this is probably the best starter box I've ever encountered for a game. A decent, but not overwhelming amount of good quality models, terrain, loads of accessories, a full rulebook and a proper introductory campaign that teaches you the game in sections. There are many companies that could learn a lot from TTCombat.
I'm trying to coax people to buy in so that I can play some more games of this. If I'm going to get out to some local events, I'm going to need to buy some more models and buy the Blood in the Water expansion for the rules updates.
Whatever happens you can expect to see some more Carnevale on the blog in the future.