Saturday, 30 May 2020

Dragon Rampant - The Crystal Gale

It's been a while since I played Dragon Rampant, so I modified the two HOTT armies from the other day - Fishmen and Ophidians - into warbands. I set up a random terrain, and randomly got the Crystal Gale scenario.

Both forces were built to 30 points. 

Fishmen

Leader - Heavy Foot
2 x Heavy Foot
1 x Offensive Heavy Foort (Troll)

2 x Heavy Missiles
1 x Bellicose Foot



Ophidians

Leader - Heavy Foot with Spellcaster
2 x Offensive Light Foot with Enchanted Weapons
1 x Light Missile
1 x Greater Warbeast


The Quests were as follows. They were randomly determined; I normally randomly select four and drop one, plus drop or change any that don't make sense:

Ophidians - No more than one Battered unit, and no use of magic (3 Glory each). Cause 3 Strength Points of damage in a singe turn (1 Glory).

Fishmen - At least three enemy units Battered at one time (3 Glory). Destroy two enemy units in one turn (2 Glory). Have opponent make first failed Courage check (1 Glory).

This is a scenario where the Quests are important, since both sides will generally acquire roughly equal numbers of crystals. The scenario ends when the last crystal is collected, so one side may be looking to deny the enemy access to last crystal or two whilst they set about trying to achieve their Quests.

The Ophidians had the edge on Quests; they could probably avoid having multiple Battered units, and with a small unit count were unlikely to have three Battered units in play at one time, making the Fishmen's Quest difficult to achieve. Their spellcaster was wasted points, but could be used in an emergency. But on the assumption that both sides would collect roughly equal numbers of crystals, the 3 Glory for not using magic was, in fact, quite worthwhile.


The Ophidians got off to a slow start, whilst the Fishmen advanced and grabbed up a pile of crystals. The Fishmen went for an aggressive attack on their left, but were up against the Ophidian's assault troops. Needless to say the fighting was bloody. The Fishman bellicose foot routed from the first combat.


With a few Quests to achieve, the Fishmen covered one of the crystals in order to stop the Ophidians from collecting it. A crystal is only collected if a unit moves over it; a charge doesn't count. So by sitting near the crystal, the Fishmen forced the Ophidians to drive them away from it before they could collect it. And this would expose the Ophidians to morale tests which in turn could see their units battered or destroyed, thus giving Glory to the Fishmen.


The Ophidians failed to move forward on their left. The Fishmen moved some missile troops into the bad going there in order to contest the collection of the crystal in it.


Eventually the dinosaur and the archers started moving.


The Ophidian assault troops attacked the troll, wounding it, but also taking casualties.


The troll held the first attack, but ran from the second. The Ophdians lost a unit, which was bad for the Fishmen as well, since a dead unit can't go battered, and they needed three battered enemy units on table at the same time.


The Fishmen moved forward in order to try and damage Ophidian units - their missile troops in the brush opened fire on the dinosaur, hoping to goad it into a charge, whilst some of their heavy foot advanced towards the archers.


On the other flank their heavy foot formed a wall of spears, forcing the Ophidians to assault them in an attempt to drive them away from the crystal.


The second unit of assault troops was lost; the Ophidians were now down to three units, but were still ahead on Glory despite having fewer crystals. In the background you can see the second unit of Fishman missile troops occupying the temple, where they collected another crystal.


The dinosaur charged. The Fishman missile troops hadn't really slowed it as it closed, and suffered accordingly.


The Ophidians kept up the attack on the Fishman phalanx.


In the centre another unit of Fishman heavy foot had contacted the Ophidian archers, but the archers held firm, and drove the attackers back.


The dinosaur routed the Fishman missile troops, whilst the archers drove back the heavy foot with shooting. Battering three Ophidian units was looking increasingly unlikely.


Indeed another volley of arrows routed the Fishman heavy foot.


From their position in the temple the Fishmen opened fire on the Ophidian leader.


Meanwhile the Fishman leader approached the dinosaur, hoping to goad it into an attack, but the brush slowed its advance and made an impetuous charge difficult. The dinosaur collected the ninth crystal though, leaving just the one on the Fishman left.


Things were looking bad for the Fishmen; their heavy foot covering the crystal failed a morale test, and routed ...


... but under fire from the temple the Ophidian leader - the only unit which could collect the crystal - also went battered, and couldn't move until it rallied. The archers went battered as well, thus failing the Quest to have only one Battered unit on the table.


It failed to rally, and routed.


With their leader lost all of the Ophidians had to take a morale test, and the archers, who had also taken casualties from the missile troops in the temple, routed as well.

(I wasn't sure if this counted as two units destroyed in one turn, but assumed it did - the Fishmen achieved that Quest for 2 Glory).


At that point I did some calculations, and called the game. The Fishmen couldn't win, but had pulled it back to a margin of 1 Glory from what looked like a whitewash early on. I assumed they'd collect the last crystal.


The Fishmen collected six crystals (6 Glory), achieved on Quest for 2 Glory and failed two other Quests (-2 Glory). This was a total of 6 Glory.

The Ophidians collected four crystals (4 Glory), but achieved Quests worth 4 Glory (no use of magic and causing 3 Strength of damage in one turn). They failed one Quest (-1 Glory). This was a total of 7 Glory.

So a close game, and very much dominated by attempts to achieve Quests and pick up, or deny the enemy, Glory.

(Ironically I gave the Ophidians a spellcaster because I haven't used them that much and wanted to give magic a try. But the setup of the scenario made the No Magic quest very attractive indeed.)

Jaws!

Nearly three weeks after the event (and at least six weeks after ordering it), my birthday present arrived today!


Needless to say, Catherine and I played it this evening.

The Jaws boardgame is for 2-4 players, although really it's a two-player game where one of the players is a team. One person plays the Shark. The other person, or people, play the Crew - Bodie, Hooper and Quint. It's a game of bluff and deduction, and ... well, actually it's two games of bluff and deduction. Let me explain ...

The game is split into two Acts, which are (and can be) played as distinct games in their own right. In Act One the shark stalks the beaches of Amity Island, picking off swimmers as they venture into the water in a card-driven random manner. The shark's movement is kept hidden, with only the result in terms of triggered motion sensors (see below) or eaten swimmers fed back to the other player(s)The Crew each have distinct roles in this one - Bridie runs about on land, closing beaches, scanning the sea with his binoculars and delivering barrels to the docks. Hooper has a speedboat and can cruise the waters around the island, rescuing swimmers, moving barrels around and using a tracker to try and find the shark's generall location. And Quint cruises around in the Orca. he can also rescue swimmers, but his role is to launch the barrels the other two crew are moving around into the water. I he launches one into an area without the shark, then it acts as a motion-sensor, triggered is the shark moves through that space. But if he can correctly launch one into a space containing the hidden shark, then it attaches.

This game ens when either the shark has eaten nine swimmers, or if the crew manage to attach two barrels to the shark.

Here we are, set up and ready to go.


A lone swimmer off the North Beach disappeared. Shark attack!


Quint shouted at some swimmers off the South Beach to get out of the water.


More swimmers off North Beach - and Brodie spots the shark!


This triggered a fairly quick chain of events. Catherine was playing the shark, but it being our first game she hadn't quite worked out how the Crew can coordinate their efforts. Quint got round to North Beach and attached a barrel to the shark, but Catherine's next move ended in a feeding-frenzy at the West Beach which, whilst it cost me four swimmers, allowed me to deduce that the shark was still off the beach. Thanks to an event card brodie was able to rush a barrel to  Hopper, who used his boat to deliver it to Quint who attached it to the shark ...

... and Act One was over.

Catherine had eaten six swimmers in total. Not a bad score for a fairly short reign of terror.


The board was cleared and flipped for Act Two - The Orca.

In this Act, Brodie, Quint and Hopper head out on the Orca to hunt the shark. The results of Act One dictate how much gear they have with which to fight it, and how many special ability cards the shark gets for the inevitable fight.

The Orca is made up of eight segments. A segment can be flipped to show it's damaged, or removed when it is destroyed. The shark's goal is to either destroy all eight segments of the Orca or to kill all three crew. The crew simply have to kill the shark, using the various weapons they acquire as part of their gear allocation.


Each turn, the shark secretly chooses one of three card-driven locations in which to appear. The crew know the possible locations, and move round the boat trying to target them with weapons.

Each card not only dictates the location, but also the shark's attack and evade scores, and they are visible to all players, so the crew can use deduction if they think they can understand the shark's strategy.

Here's the shark popping up at the rear of the boat. Quint had guessed this would be the spot, hence the green target marker, and rammed a flare into the shark's mouth. This does continuous damage until the shark can shake it off (a process also drive by the location cards).


The shark has ability cards it can play each turn. In the first turn it used one to attack two sections of the boat, damaging the stern. Then it hit the port side, and knocked Hopper into the water. Once in the water the shark can opt to directly attack crew, instead of the boat, but also gets a basic bonus attack against them if they are close.


The shark shook off the flare, so whilst Brodie and Hopper used a rifle and pistol to take on the beast, Quint went in with his trusty (and potentially lethal) machete.


The Orca was now badly damaged. Hooper has used all the ammo for the rifle and Brodie was down to his last pistol shot. Quint was in the water, hunting the shark with his machete.

(Yes, you can use weapons whilst in the water. It's a bit of an abstraction, but keeps the game simple. And crew in the water ar more vulnerable to attack, so it's riskier than being on what's left of the boat.)


Where's that shark gone now?


.Quint managed to entangle the shark in a fishing net, reducing its ability to evade attacks.


The Orca was almost gone, as the shark picked off the remains of the stern.


The badly injured Quint was attacked again, and escaped death only by use of a shark-cage. The shark had also accumulated a fair bit of damage and had run out of ability cards. But the entire crew were down to hand weapons, and the boat was almost gone.


The shark attacked again, and Hooper, in a splendid display of aggression, bashed its head in with a hammer as it tried to chew the vessel's bows.


So a win for the crew. Quint was one hit away from death, Brodie fairly badly hurt but, somehow, Hooper had received but a single hit. And got to be the shark-killing hero.

This is a splendid game. It took us a couple of hours to play it, but we were learning, and I think the game's claim of 60 minutes is about right once people know what they're doing and can crack on. It captures the feel of the film, and has the lovel components you'd expect from Ravensburger. Highly recommended.

Next time it's my turn to be the shark.

Friday, 29 May 2020

HOTT 52 - Week 22 - Fishmen vs Ophidians

I hadn't really felt up to putting together anything special for our regular Thursday evening game this week, so I grabbed a couple of boxes HOTT armies, because HOTT is a zero-prep game par excellence. And, in a two birds with one stone kind of way this gave me my HOTT 52 game for the week as well.

Anyway, Catherine and I ended up with the Fishmen and the Ophidians on the table. She opted for the Fishmen as they looked easiest to use: six spears (including the general), four shooters and a behemoth.

I got the Ophidians which, as long-time fans of this blog will know, are three magicians (including the general), four warband and two shooters.

Here we are, set up and ready to go. Catherine had positioned her behemoth in her centre where it was going to hit my warband but I reasoned I could zap it with magic before it became a danger. Meanwhile her spears were facing off against warband as well, so I decided that if I could grab the forward slope of the hill I was deployed behind I could break up her phalanxes as they attacked.

Catherine's plan was to just bulldoze forward and see what happened.


On my left I advanced my archers and took up position along the edge of a wood, hoping the cover would offset Catherine's 2:1 avantage in missile weapons.


The behemoth is a 3D print of a sea-troll.

I should do an army showcase for this lot really.



We both advanced, and I got the hilltop position I needed. My magicians slithered about on the right flank waiting for a chance to drive off the troll.


Here comes the troll ...


... and I completely failed to impress it with magic. Catherine was amused.


And then her army was upon me!

In the distance she held her shooters back, too much of an old HOTT pro to get into a shooting match with archers in cover. In fect it worked well for her; my archers were too far back to cover their army's left flank, and if I advanced to do that her shooters would cut me down with their superior numbers.


The Fishman phalanx pushed up the hill.




The sea-troll smashed its way through the Ophidians opposing it.


And the rest of the Fishmen drove back or destroyed their opponents.


I sent some Ophidian sorcerers to attack the Fishman flank, but they held and drove off their attackers.


The troll attacked some more Ophidians, but was forced back.


I piled on the pressure on the Fishman left flank, but the phalanx held firm.


An overview. The troll had been driven back to the point where it was now pinned by the frontal zone of the Ophidian archers. This left it unable to advance towards the centre, and Catherine spent the rest of the game retiring it (under fire) and then bringing it around the back of her line in order to return it to where it was needed.



The Fishmen reorganised, ready for another attack. The Ophidians were looking thin on the ground, having now lost three of their four warband.


A very confident Fishman line.


On my right the sorcerers had been steadily pushed back by the phalanx there, and were in danger of being recoiled off the board. In fact they held their ground and were slaughtered to a ... snake.


The Fishmen attacked again ...


... and as the remaining sorcerers moved in to try and outflank them again they cut down the surviving warband, to give them a win.


And not just a win, but a total whitewash - Catherine didn't lose a single element.


With hindsight I should have opted for more bad going, and made use of the fact that my shooters and warband are at home in such terrain. The Ophidians are too small an army to fight a straight open battle such as I opted for; Catherine had the advantage of numbers, and used it.

To be fair attacking warband uphill with spears is pretty risky; I only had to win to kill two elements, but at no stage was I able to translate any positional advantage to the actual kill I needed for an opening.
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