Thursday, July 24, 2014

Quake & Mourn Campaign: Session 3 Report

Welcome back for the report of our third campaign session! Last week's games featured a few guest warbands, as Devin (an occasional player who we haven't seen in some time) stopped by, and Josh and Pat both brought out new warbands for custom scenarios.

Deep Woods Vengers vs. Tharks of the Wyl'st Horde
Location: Brionbock Dale
Scenario: We Came for the Honey, We Stayed for the Cave Bear

This scenario is part of the forthcoming Band of Gnomes supplement. Tim's Tharks and Karl's Elves battled over a trove of rare honey guarded by a bear deep in the wooded dale. It was a hard fought battle in which the elves managed to steal the honey and slay the mighty cave bear. However, unsurprisingly the Tharks were brutal in their combat prowess and slaughtered enough of the elves to secure a draw.  

In the scenario, players score points for securing batches of honey, slaying the cave bear and killing their enemies. It had an interesting mechanic for bees to be riled out of the hive and attack the thieves. We were able to identify a few areas where the scenario still needed some work, but overall it was very enjoyable. 

After the battle, the Tharks passed through the remains of a haunted fortress, but found it empty. The Elves came across an evil dark unicorn, but it quickly fled, recognizing their good natures and wanting nothing to do with them. Tim and Karl tied in this game.

Garrison of the Sunken Fort vs. Undead Marauders
Location: The Moaning Marsh
Scenario: The Sunken Fort (a custom scenario)

Devin played the Defenders of Sunken Fort, a group of lawful knights and footmen who had stumbled across the Sunken Fort while exploring the Moaning Marsh. As night fell, the defenders learned all too well how the marsh got its name, as rotting, shambling undead warriors stumbled out of the gloom to assault the fort!

After several tense turns, Devin seized the initiative and turned the tide against the ghoulish marauders. This was a fun game and a nice opportunity to try out a batch of new terrain that Pat had recently completed.

Tainted Thegn and His Dire Men vs. Royal Assassination Squad
Location: Sunderstone Badlands
Scenario: Assassination 

In the first of two scenarios featuring Josh's Royal Assassination Squad, he made short work of the Tainted Thegn's Dire Men. The mechanical monstrosities (dispatched on assignment from the city council of Vildeburg) were tasked with defeating Ditherprank, a powerful* wizard in the employ of the Dire Men.


After a brief, savage battle, the Dire Men were unable to overcome the hulking automatons of the Assassination Squad and so quit the field. Josh won, and after the battle Mattias's forces came across an abandoned watchtower which they claimed.

Garrison of the Sunken Fort vs. Deep Woods Vengers
Location: Brionbock Dale
Scenario: We Came for the Honey, We Stayed for the Cave Bear
After departing the Sunken Fort, the knightly garrison attempted to foil the Elves' second gathering of honey. However, the wily elves had learned from their last encounter. The garrison managed to get 3 of the 5 honey batches, but the elves rampaged through their ranks to claim the victory. Following the battle, the garrison's bad luck continued as they became lost in the wilderness. The Elves came across an adventurer's ghost, but couldn't persuade him to give up any treasure. Karl defeated Devin in this scenario.

Tainted Thegn and His Dire Men vs. Undead Marauders

Location: The Moaning Marsh
Scenario: The Sunken Fort (a custom scenario)

The Tainted Thegn and His Dire Men came across the Sunken Fort, which had recently been the scene o fa fierce battle earlier in the evening. Mattias's warband was very well positioned in this battle, since they were all mounted cavalry figures and could trot to and fro on the battlefield in response to the undead incursion. 

Mattias routed the raiders, then his warband found a stash of gold in a nearby graveyard.

Royal Assassination Squad vs. Tharks of the Wyl'st Horde
Location: Agamin Boneyard
Scenario: Assassination
The Royal Assasination Squad tested their mettle against the battle-hardened Tharks in another assassination scenario. However, the Tharks turned the tables and managed to kill the leader of the assassination squad, causing the mechanical monstrosities to flee the battle. Following the battle, the Tharks discovered an abandoned graveyard, but it held nothing of value. Tim defeated Josh in this scenario.

So far, the campaign is progressing nicely. Each player has been able to play about two games per session, which means those who have attended every night have at least six games under their belts, and their warbands are quite advanced. The club seems to be enjoying the scenarios, and plenty of players have invented their own custom scenarios. Next week we'll take a break and do some post-apocalyptic gaming (another CSW passion for sure), but will be back soon with the second half of the campaign.

-- Karl, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quake & Mourn Campaign: Assassination, with Extreme Prejudice

Last week the club gathered to play the next round in our fantasy campaign. In this game, Josh and I faced off in a quick assassination scenario set in the windswept wastes of the Sunderstone Badlands.

Ditherprank came to rue the day he desecrated that road-side shrine of St. Gormly with his kaotic magicks, because, as by whisper on wind, news of his deed came to the royal Heirophant in Vildeburg and she dispatched her Royal Assassination Squadron to destroy the blasphemer. The priesthood mechanical duly, and with the blessings of all the saints, awakened the cold metal contrivances of murder and set them on their path, with an Adept of the brotherhood militant to guide them.

Fulgid Glim and his banditry were tracking the remnants of a defeated orc warband south across the Sunderstone Badlands when they heard the royal klaxon echoing off the stones. The Adept militant called forth Ditherprank by name. 

Glim glared at his puckish magician sharply and hissed. Ditherprank whimpered, as much in fear of the Tainted Thegn as of the Murder Machines arrayed against him. The mute sycophant who carried Ditherprank said nothing, but then he never did.

Needing no spurring from Fulgid Glim, nor any excuse for the glory of battle and trampling dust, the Dire Men rode at the assassins, and were knocked aside and gunned down as the contraptions spun violently forward.

Ditherprank shrieked at his mute to find some cranny-hole in which to hide themselves, but they found no sanctuary in the blasted dirt. In a breath, a magnificent machine was above him, and with its blessed hammer smote the mute full in the trunk, sending him - and Ditherprank beside - in a bloody arc that could only be described as celestial in its height and grace.

The machine stalked to the broken, twitching body of the mute and regarded it for a cold moment...and as the mute gave a final spasm and expired, the machine moved just as coldly away. 
A dozen yards off, in the pit of a pock-marked crater, from the skull that imprisoned the spirit of Ditherprank the wizard, there issued a rattling sigh. His calcic temple had gained a long and painful crack, which would irk him greatly over his centuries of imprisonment, but he had escaped otherwise without harm. It was a shame about his mute, but one could not fret greatly over that withall. Because, thought Ditherprank, when the shit hits the shrine, there are many mutes in the world but there is only one Ditherprank.

-- Mattias, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

Friday, July 11, 2014

Playtesting Song of Hammer & Forge

Last week Tim and I got together to try out the work-in-progress dwarf supplement for Song of Blades & Heroes. Entitled Song of Hammer & Forge, the forthcoming supplement introduces a whole bunch of new rules for the ol' stunty guys, including sections devoted to black powder firearms and artillery. The new additions add a bit of crunch to the game, but longtime SBH fans will be pleased to hear that everything is presented with the same rules-lite flavor of the core game.

We played the Treasure Hunt scenario since we wanted a simple, no-frills scenario to try out the new rules. I made a dwarven warband featuring fighters, halberdiers, a drunk berserker and some boar-mounted cavalry with hand cannons. Here's my warband.

And here are Tim's Tharks, the same warband he's running in our ongoing campaign.

I started out by dispatching my dwarves across the battlefield toward the three treasure markers. We were using a couple new pieces of terrain that I had just completed building over the weekend (the moss-covered ruins).

I kept these guys together for much of the game because I wanted to try out the long reach special rule, which allows the halberdiers to attack over the shoulder of their comrades if they are stacked behind them in close combat. Within a couple of turns, I had my chance! Tim charged his beast into contact with my dwarves, and the halberdier in the second rank was able to dispatch it by stabbing over his buddy's shoulder.

Meanwhile Tim's Tharks were moving ever closer to the three treasure markers on the table. The barrel in the photo below is one of those markers, but only one of the three is the actual treasure (determined randomly before the game started).

The black powder rules are pretty nifty. Basically you fire your gun and it produces a puff of smoke, which drifts across the battlefield according to a the wind's direction (determined at the start of the game, it never changes and is predictable, which is nice). All shooting that passes through a smoke puff suffers a penalty. Here's the outcome after my first shot.

I just so happened to have smoke puffs on hand from way back when I did WWII wargaming, and they looked perfect on the tabletop with my dwarves.

Discharging a black powder weapon for the first time causes all mounts (cavalry, pack horses, etc) on the table to test morale. We forgot to implement this rule, and it might have mattered since Tim's most potent figure was a cavalry model.

Here's another explosive hand cannon shot from the other side of the table.

Black powder weapons and crossbows feature improved stats compared to the SBH shooter rules, but they also require reloading. Depending on the weapon, this typically costs 2 actions and most figures can't move while reloading. I had two dwarves with crossbows and two with hand cannons in our battle, and we found that the reloading rules didn't slow the game down very much.

Song of Hammer & Forge also includes an extensive array of rules about drunk dwarves. Yes, you read that correctly. There are four separate rules to simulate drunken fighters, so I made sure to take one (sloshed) for one of my warriors. The rule proved to just as zany as you might expect; the melee bonuses I received were outweighed by the few times he tottered off in a random direction as a result of a quality check.

Personally I don't see myself using the drunk dwarf rules very much. My dwarves are stoic Norse-inspired heroes, not drunkards teetering from battlefield to brewery and back again. But the drunk dwarf rules do a good job of simulating some of the Warhammer-inspired silliness we've come to expect. 

Even though I found the treasure first, Tim ended up winning the scenario, and this photo is a good example of why. No halberdier in his right mind would go toe-to-claw with a Thoat, but my guy decided this was a prudent course of action for some reason.

I've been eagerly anticipating this ruleset for many months, and this playtest showed it was well worth the wait. I'm looking forward to shelling out some hard-earned cash for this supplement as soon as it's available!

-- Patrick, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Quake & Mourn Campaign: Session 2 Report

Last week a few players got together for some make-up campaign games, so we decided to combine their results with the campaign report from the previous week's game. So we'll call this the Session 2 Report, even though it encompasses games that took place over the last couple of weeks. You can find the locations for the battles by taking a look at our awesome campaign map, which was hand-drawn by Mattias.

The Scourge of Longrieve vs. Deep Woods Vengers vs. Tharks of Wyl'st Horde
Location: Vildeburg, Old Town
Scenario: Tug of War (modified)

This three-player game took place in a ruined section of Vildeburg, the main city in our campaign world. Karl quit the field early, Pat soldiered on and took more casualties, and eventually Tim won by virtue of his impressive firepower. Click here to read an expanded battle report with lots more photo.

The Scourge of Longrieve vs. Deep Woods Vengers vs. Tharks of Wyl'st Horde
Location: Vildeburg, City Center
Scenario: Critters!

Our second three-player game of the evening saw the warbands competing to capture foul, chittering beasts that were pouring out of a magic portal that sprang up in the center of Vildeburg. We used this scenario as an opportunity to really pack the table full of buildings from our fairly impressive shared collection of terrain.

Anyway, Karl won the scenario after ensnaring five demon creatures with his elven warband.

Nobanga's Ronin vs. Deep Woods Vengers
Location: Grimshade Hills, along the edge of the Hollowbone Mountains
Scenario: Defend the Find
Jon's warband, Nobanga's Band of Ronin, faced off against Karl's Deep Woods Vengers as they struggled to "Defend the Find," in this case two barrels of potent healing water from a sacred spring. The spring, located in the wilds where the Grimshade Hills meet the Hollowbone Mountains, is claimed by many factions.

It was a quick battle, and it was cut short when Nobanga himself went down early in a valiant face-off against the elvish horde. He survived the battle, and having no lord to fail, he was luckily not required to commit seppuku.

After the battle, Nobanga's band survived by fleeing across a rope bridge, and the Deep Woods Vengers failed to catch a wolf while exploring a cave. Karl was the winner.

Nobanga's Ronin vs. Tharks of Wyl'st Horde vs. the Deepwood's Vengers 
Location: Brionbock Dale
Scenario: The Streets of Vildeburg (modified)

The three warbands met at a crossroads and began taunting each other and daring the other warbands to come into their territory. We played a quick version of this scenario since we were nearing the end of our game night. The Tharks and Ronin immediately joined forces to defeat the elves, which had bested each of them in previous fights. The elves attempted to flee, but their leader, the Bearer of the Headstaff, went down in combat, causing even more confusion in retreat.

Soon the elves were out, and the Ronin swarmed across the table and seized their opponents' territory. Victory went to the Ronin! After the battle, Karl's leader survived, but the attacker's blades must have been tainted, for he is now a mutant!

The Tainted Thegn and His Dire Men vs. Green Orc Raiders
Location: Valkenrath Palisades
Scenario: All-Out Battle
This report was missing from the session one blog post from a couple of weeks ago, so we're just now getting around to it. Mattias and Mike fought a battle in the shadows of the Valkenrath mountains. The orc leaders were fighting under a cursed moon this night, because victory went to the Dire Men in quick fashion. But even so, Blind Krell, standard bearer to the Tainted Thegn, was slain. The Banner of the Mumbling, Many-eyed Thing must now pass into new hands. Perhaps the hands of someone who is not so blind? After the battle, the Dire Men came to a Cursed Glade. Toller Brigg, a scout for the foul agents, was first to wander in and will be fighting the next battle with a -1 Quality penalty. The orcs, of course, found an ale house.

We're playing again next week, so stay tuned for more campaign games!

-- Karl, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Quake & Mourn Campaign: Tug of War in the Ruined City

Last week a few of us got together for a couple more campaign games. Since there were three players available, we found some multiplayer scenarios in the big Song of Blades & Heroes scenario book that we've been using for the campaign. If you've not flipped through it before, it's worth a look; the book is full of scenarios ported over from Warhammer Fantasy and Mordheim, all ready to play in Song of Blades & Heroes.

The first game took place in Vildeburg's Old Town neighborhood, an urban district strewn with crumbling ruins. The three warbands (Tim's Tharks, Karl's Deep Woods Vengers, and Pat's Scourge of Longrieve) were battling to seize control of the ruins, as rumor had it that they housed an entrance into the sewers and dungeons beneath Vildeburg.

Here are Karl's elves in their deployment zone.

Here are Tim's Tharks arranged at the edge of the city district.

And here are my chaos raiders, known collectively as the Scourge of Longrieve.

And with that, we were off! Karl and Tim were a bit closer than I was, so they opened the game with a series of probing attacks against each other. Here Tim's Tharks advance through the outlying streets.

Karl sent his elven prince galloping ahead into the ruins, where he hoped to secure an early foothold.

Meanwhile, his archers advanced as a group, hoping to use their group fire ability.

Across the table, Har'Khul the Mindflayer mustered his warriors and sent them scurrying through the ruins, hoping to seize the objective.

In the background of the pic below, you can see the ghoul that I found in last session's game. He joined my team and was happy for the chance to prove his undead worth to Har'Khul.

Here's a look at the Old Town district in the center. You can see figures from all three factions beginning to infiltrate the ruins.

Alas, it was right around this point that Karl's warband took a turn for the tragic. His winged elf goddess was slain in single combat, along with a few more elvish casualties, which prompted Karl to quit the field before his losses mounted. Here are his elves beating a hasty retreat off the battlefield.

That meant it was all up to me to stymie Tim's advance. His Tharks were marauding through the ruins by this point, so I sent my shock troops in as quickly as I could. Alas, poor dice rolling swung the game in Tim's favor pretty quickly. Here are a couple more pics of the carnage before I yielded and withdrew.

It was a great game, and we all got gold and loot in varying degrees after the campaign was over. Song of Deeds & Glory has a nice, extensive list of random tables that you roll on after each battle to determine the fate of casualties, as well as whether or not you found anything cool in the territory you just fought over.

We actually ended up playing two games that night, so check back soon for our next battle report!

-- Patrick, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member