Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Damsels, Dice, and Everything Nice

They've dropped episode two of Damsels, Dice, and Everything Nice!  In case you haven't watched it yet, here's episodes one and two . . .

Damsels, Dice, and Everything Nice: A Royal Roleplaying Adventure (Episode 1)

Damsels, Dice, and Everything Nice: Episode 2- The Party Gathers

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Crusaders, Vikings, and Birds

Knocked off a few boardgames in the last couple of weeks, though I have been less than diligent in my camera duties, let alone blogging about them.  The store hours at Lake Geneva Games have expanded, we've hired and are training two additional staffers (so far), and a new MtG set dropped.  Dare I say I have had a fairly full plate lately.  Nevertheless, after months of trying to arrange a game of Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done (2018) the LG lunchtime gamers managed to get it to the table.  I was thoroughly trounced due to a disjointed strategy that garnered a steady stream of victory points during play but left me wanting for end-game points.

Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga (2004) has been around a while but was recently acquired and three of us put it to the test last week.  We played incorrectly but in such a way that we all, more or less, equally benefited from the error.  Essentially we were all taking additional actions each turn which, surprisingly, slowed down play rather than speeding it up.  We even removed the cards they suggest you set aside in games for beginners.

Wingspan (2019) is something Mark M. just got hold of, a slightly dented box copy which he lucked into getting, considering this game is seemingly hard to track down for less than double it's MSRP.  We had to truncate our game due to time considerations but got through about 80% of a full game and none of us had played before, so we all needed to learn it.  Rodney's How to Play video on it helped me out tremendously, as he always does.

I found all three of these games enjoyable and will play any of them again, if given the opportunity.  I think Crusaders can be played much faster than we did but we'll see.  Fire & Axe might need a closer look next time as I am not really sure how much playing it correctly will change the game.  I think the additional cards will make it a lot more competitive.  Wingspan works just fine as is but feels a bit like a race with little interaction between players, except when an action allows all players to benefit.  There's a bit of blocking other players when choosing dice but it didn't seem too egregious.  We'll see!

Mopping Up,Getting their Due, & Tracking Down in 1E AD&D Grymvald

The Lake Geneva 1E AD&D crew gathered a few weeks ago with but one missing member to unfreeze time after the big cultist temple battle from two weeks prior.  They still had the Witch of Dour Haven to locate and bring to justice.  Plus, there surely must be some treasure to be had.  And, of course, there must be experience to tally and some sweet, sweet leveling to be done.

The light of two huge braziers on the riser at the far end of the temple highlighted the carnage.  The bodies of almost a dozen heavily armed and armored cultists lay mangled on the floor along with two comatose party members.  There were two archways leading out of the temple, one to the north and one to the south.  They suspected the witch had cast a spell during the proceeding combat and that she had done so from the southern archway because now, a few feet down the hallway beyond the archway, a membrane of green slime blocked further progress.

Photo by "Scott Michael"
Why is the DM hiding, one might ask . . .

This was a more cautious foray into the complex at Marak Tor than many of the previous trips, but also one that was meant to be thorough.  They wanted to be able to say they had cleared the place and have it as a potential HQ for future expeditions deeper onto the Trackless Moors.  Once they had removed the slime-obstacle, they were able to ensure both the southern room and northern room were free from opponents.  This left the question of where the Witch of Dour Haven had fled.  The room was outfitted as a sleeping quarters for the witch, alone.  Some treasure was found as well as signs that others treasures had been here but were now gone.  A quick reconnoiter by the Half-Elves revealed a secret door to a supply room where food stocks and other provisions were stored for the witch and her closer bodyguards.  After some additional searching, yet another secret door was found to a lower chamber where a standing stone was kept, as well as a great deal of coinage).  It obviously had been brought here from elsewhere, as evidenced by the damage to it and the manner in which it had been propped up on an unlike pedestal.  The runes upon it were some form of ancient Dwarven language so they figured a way to transport it out of the structure (and eventually back to town in a double-locked box).  A later search of the same areas, mostly to retrieve coinage they were not able to carry on the first trip, revealed an additional hideyhole containing a wand of enemy detection.

After regaining civilization, the group spent some time converting their treasures into more directly useful items for the various party members, some healing potions were distributed, as well as cure scrolls and a few other spell scrolls.  Armor and weapons were acquired through trade or purchase to try and optimize everyone who might be in the line of fire.  A fair bit of time was spent seeking sage advice on the standing stone / obelisk, what it might be meant to represent or possibly do.  The group had sussed out that it might be used as a portal but were not clear on how.  A first attempt to discover its secrets from a wizardly mentor was only minorly helpful, though he did direct the group toward a more knowledgeable information source in the form of the Temple of Darien, the Guardian, a military-religious order in the kingdom's capital, Jalston, with which the party had previously had dealings.  In fact, Nydijan the (Human) cleric, one of the original party members (and still kicking) is of that order of Darien, though the temple in Jalston has a mostly Dwarven membership.  This, of course, worked out well for the adventurers because they were able to discover that the portal-stone was not usable without some sort of accompanying headwear, that it was connected to the Dragon's Teeth (a series of tors-cum-towers spanning the Trackless Moors), and the stone was probably what the witch used to escape.  All this being likely, arrangements were made to cover the stone in molten gold, encasing it in such a way that no one could come to it from elsewhere, or so it is surmised by the temple sages.  They also left it in the temple vaults for safe keeping.

Mind you, the above took place over a couple of game sessions and yet a third has transpired since.  Although the witch had escaped, she was no longer considered an imminent threat and chasing her straight away in the unknown seemed like suicide.  The group opted, rather, with the help of a map and some information from a mining camp scout, to check out a ruins south of the Deadrop Goblin caves where that threat may have originally emanated.  This was also confirmed by their ally, the mist dragon that had been freed by the group from the Deaddrop Goblin caves.  The mist dragon, Vaporex, came up to them in a fog bank, making the party a bit nervous as to what might be approaching, but thanks to the newly found wand of enemy detection they group managed not to jeopardize their friendship by plugging the dragon full of arrows.  This newly discovered ruin, while not directly tied to the Dragon's Teeth, seemed like something the group should be better equipped to tackle without too great a risk to life and limb, something the group had begun to learn was worth consideration.  Early losses in the numbers of the group had been slowing down their overall progress and they felt a more incremental approach to adventuring might be prudent.  There were only a handful of founding group members (and a number of players had worked through several characters).  They understood that what they would find at this new ruin would be an underground goblins' lair and rats' nest, and so it has proved thus far.

The group scouted the hillock upon which mere remnants of a crumbled ruin sat, discovered a spiral staircase from it to below, but also found a cave entrance down the side of the hill.  Some goblins were dealt with outside of the complex, including several caught unawares while gambling by the top of the stairwell.  The cave entrance was determined to be primarily used by disease-ridden rats, so they torched and blocked it as best they could then made use of the spiral stair to descend within.  Inside they had several tense battles with goblins, mostly, but also a few hobgoblins, and a trained ferret in the keeping of the goblins.  Though they did not discover the location of the goblin spellcaster from the Deaddrop caves, they did find some treasure as well as a stairway leading even deeper underground and that's about where the group has left off.  With more to explore, they plan to hone their skills as a well-oiled machine to become a more competent strike force for these dangerous journeys in hopes of someday going on more legendary adventures!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

No Denying It in the Grymvald 1E AD&D Campaign

Well, the group was left frozen in time the previous session as they needed to decide if making a strategic retreat and leveling up outweighed whatever advantage they might have from surprising the cultists of Marak Tor.  They had carefully approached, caught a few unaware and dispatched them, but at least one had gotten away after noting some arrow fire and a cleverly laid trap.  If they charged in immediately, though with some party members not in attendance, they might gain some advantage early on but they also knew the numbers were heavily against them.  In the end, as their first act after restarting the clock this time around, they headed back to civilization to resupply, gather more of the group (ten players this week!), level up, and report what new information they gained.

But they would not be denied and returned to Marak Tor stronger than ever.  This proved to be a wise move because although the cultists knew they were returning, and set up an ambush and a further choke point, the adventurers withstood what was thrown at them and cleared their way down to the main temple, defeating nine more cultists along with ten of the personal bodyguards of the Witch of Dour Haven.  Though she had a hand in the battle, heating up the armor of one of the top fighters and adding green slime obstacles in the group's path, the temple defenses were not strong enough to keep the party from a victory.  Now with the temple secured, what lies behind the scenes needs to be discovered, the witch needs to be located, and whatever else might be awaiting the brave adventurers must be faced.  I wish them well . . .

Busy with the Boardgaming

It was a busy first half of the week with some boardgaming and some AD&D (posting on the latter soon).  It's been a while since I played Kingsburg so I got it down off the demo shelf to show it to Jesse when we had a little time on Monday evening to check it out.  It was the base game and very close at the end, just a few points between us.

Tuesday saw some visiting gamers in town with Dave Conant and Jim Ward joining Tom and Ernie, as well as Brad and myself, for a few afternoon games including San Juan (using two copies of the game to increase the player count).

We also played a Tom Wham classic, made manifest through the Game Crafters as guided by Dave, called Felithian Finance, a Sci-Fi stock market game.

And we finished up with Architects of the West Kingdom, a worker placement game I've mentioned on this blog not long ago.

A good week for gaming, indeed.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Systematic Assault on Marak Tor

The largest group we've had in a while for the 1E AD&D game in the Grymvald setting with eight players in attendance, one still on vacation but a new face in the mix.  Welcome to Jesse!

Last session, the party finished their side trek to the Caves of the Deaddrop Clan.  The goblins had recently secured a long-abandoned hidden Dwarven outpost to use as weapons manufacturing facility and general HQ for other tribes wishing to raid the settlements along the northern causeway.  The adventurers nipped the goblin plans in the bud and gained some undiscovered Dwarven treasure for their efforts, though not without some losses and injuries.  Details of the battles, and tough consequences, came in my previous campaign blog posts but I should mention magic armor and weapons were garnered and some leveling took place.

This latest session, however, saw a considerably more systematic approach to the site of their original adventuring, Marak Tor.  The cultists seemed fairly entrenched but many of the obstacles to dealing with them had been cleared away or figured out.  They had a fairly good idea of what they would be facing and did their best to avoid incidental injury along the way toward their goal.  They had some fun removing a nasty slop bucket trap, then resetting it elsewhere with the addition of some flasks of oil, which was tripped to good effect, taking out a couple of cultists (a third dying to bad luck).  They also managed to lead an owlbear and her two chicks-cubs (the players dubbed them "chubs") to the tor and upon a couple of other cultists, one of which was a goner.  Unfortunately, they had underestimated the population below.  After finally venturing back within, they chanced to discover a previously unknown secret door which revealed a larger temple complex than formerly reckoned and considerably more cultists than expected; dozens more! 

Photo by Scott Michael!

The group reconsidered but with the evening winding down we chose to freeze time before they moved off and gave the cultists a chance to regroup or reinforce.  It's a tough call.  They are seemingly outgunned but know the complex much better than they did when they first came upon it seven or eight games ago.  The rewards could be great but the danger is undeniably tougher than they can hope to overcome without some serious losses.  I do not envy them their decision . . .

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Architects of the West Kingdom (2018)

One of the downsides of working in a game store is playing a lot of nifty games that we just can't keep in stock!  One of the more recent culprits is Architects of the West Kingdom (2018) by Garphill Games, Angry Lion Games, Banana Games, Ediciones Primigenio, Fever Games, Meeple BR Jogos, PixieGames, Reflexshop, Renegade Game Studios, and Schwerkraft-Verlag (all according to Board Game Geek).  It's a strategy game for one to five players that involves Card Drafting, Set Collection, Variable Player Powers, and Worker Placement.  It has a lot of interaction and ways to disrupt the games of others even as you advance your own.  It's a colorful board with a lot going on but it is not difficult to keep track of anything and the iconography helps a lot in that regard.  A few of the building cards might do with a bit more explanation but we think we have figured them out.  I've played five or six times now, counting a double header today with four then three players, and I daresay I will play this more in the future.  Good stuff!