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Like most people minus a few games here and there with my wife I haven't played a proper wargame or skirmish game in quite awhile. My wife and I did start a Frostgrave Ghost Archipelago campaign awhile back but instead of an ongoing campaign it halted after a single game. As she usually steamrolls me in most games I understand why she prefers to wait until our usual group finally starts getting together again. I guess she just knows me too well, making me an easy opponent. As for myself I'd rather be playing, even if I always lose, but I can see how always winning could get boring (Not that I'd actually know). The need to play finally brought me around to solo games which I'd never tried before and here we are. On many recommendations I ended up with Rangers of Shadow Deep, which makes sense as its only a modified Frostgrave system with a bit more meat to it.
Before writing up my first experiences with the game however there is one problem I've found. Its nothing to do with the system itself instead it has to do with my own shortcomings. Apparently my terrain and miniature collection (especially when it comes to monsters) is amazingly lacking. Up until playing this first game I thought I had a fairly decent collection but I guess I was just fooling myself. My warband didn't even escape this oversight and ended up being the most ramshackle bunch of any of my armies/squads. With that warning out of the way here is my first game...
The first mission begins just after the destruction of a neighboring kingdom and the appearance of the Shadow Deep itself. The book describes this as a realm permanently covered in black clouds and filled with evil creatures. With the entire kingdom on high alert you are tasked with locating a missing Ranger that was investigating attacks on a nearby village.
As you approach the village you feel that something is wrong. Everything is too quiet and the village itself smells of recent death. You pass bodies lying in the dirt as you move into the village proper. As your group reaches the village square and is beginning to form search parties you hear a horrible moaning sound surrounding you.
Seems like a great place to start the actual game right, but there are still a couple last pieces of bookkeeping. First up is introducing my actual warband (you were warned they were an odd lot).
Missing almost all of the necessary monsters I had to improvise.
The modern zombies are filling in for fantasy zombies.
The kobolds are filling in for giant rats.
The skeletons are filling in for giant spiders.
The three adventurers will be filling in for the village survivors.
As if that wasn't enough proxying I also had to proxy buildings with small wall sections. With the scenario needing houses with doors I selected center of the open area on each wall to act as the door.
Starting out your warband is deployed in the center of the village represented here with the well. There are six different points of interest that may act as clues to the missing rangers whereabouts. As you can see four zombies and two giant rats are deployed around the village. Clue 1 was moved 6" closer to my Ranger as he passed a perception check prior to the game.
With my first turn I started pairing my warband off attempting to reach all the clues. Going clockwise starting with my ranger (I'll be doing this going forward), he easily reached the first clue and managed to find a survivor (represented by the red wizard). Recruit 2 (The Ninja) managed to kill a zombie right off the bat. My arcanist (Oswald the overladen) started moving toward the clue inside the "house" while my knight (female half Orc) and hound (dog from a quarter machine) killed a giant rat. The archer (high elf archer) almost completely hidden by the well shot the zombie in front of him and brought it down to half health. Meanwhile my templar (old pikeman) and recruit 1 (villager with torch) were having trouble with their giant rat as the templar went down to only four health. That rat really did a number on him. Finally before the turn ended the event deck brought two more zombies onto the board.
On turn two my Ranger started working his way over to the other clue "house" and killed a zombie. The survivor made a beeline to the center of the village. Recruit 2 was knocked out fighting a zombie and the arcanist had to finish the job. The knight and the hound managed to defeat their first zombie while recruit 1 had to step in and save the archer after he was nearly killed. The templar slowly made his way closer to another clue. Then the event deck spawned another two zombies.
Turn three my ranger entered into his second combat. The survivor reached the well and the arcanist finally reached the door. The door requires either a Pick Lock or Strength roll (TN8) to enter, he tried to pick the lock but failed. Using a double move the knight went around the building getting closer to the second clue. Also using a double move recruit 2 started moving toward clue five. The archer shot at another zombie almost killing it but came up short. Meanwhile the hound tore across the board with it's double move and the templar reached the third clue. The third clue ended up being a mutilated body and with a very lucky survival roll he was able to determine the nature of the bite marks. Finally the event deck caused one of the buildings to collapse (Going forward it received a die on top of it), recruit 1 was too close and was nearly crushed. Fortunately he came away unscathed.
Turn four found my ranger and hound struggling to kill a zombie with my hound taking a hit. The survivor was content to hold his ground at the fountain while the arcanist continued to struggle with the door. The knight made it to the second clue but all she found was a zombie. The archer finally one shotted a zombie while recruit 1 finished off another. Recruit 1 also made it to clue five and found a potion of Wraithwalk. Try as he might the templar was still too far away to help the ranger and hound but he did close the distance. The event deck even spawned a zombie beside one of the clues inside a "house".
Turn five my ranger killed his second zombie with an assist from the hound. Again the survivor was content and the arcanist struggled with the door. Poor guy just couldn't get a decent roll. The knight began trading blows with a zombie and after just one turn they were both down to half health. Recruit 1 used a double move to start heading down to the arcanist hoping to put his +3 lockpicking skill to use. Obviously I should have sent him there in the first place but I really underestimated that simple TN8 roll. The archer like the survivor was content to stay where he was as he was very close to death. Last but not least the templar reached the "door" of the second clue "house", unfortunately he missed his strength roll. Finally thanks to the event deck my hound was struck with terror completely incapacitating him for a turn.
Turn six the ranger opened the door (after the templar failed during a group activation) and found strange tracks at the fourth clue. Using his tracking skill he was even able to determine their nature. The hound remained where it was frozen in fear while the survivor chose again to stay at the well. Recruit 1 used a double move again trying to get to the sixth clue. The arcanist continued to struggle with the door while the knight finished off her zombie and moved in to assist. The archer again stayed at the well. Then event deck then spawned four more zombies at the same location as the starting enemies.
Turn seven found my ranger, templar, and hound stuck fighting two zombies and managing to only kill one. The survivor and archer finally moved away from the well and closer to their allies. This didn't work out to well for the survivor as you see. The arcanist left the door and positioned himself between the archer and the incoming zombie. Recruit 1 killed another zombie and the knight opened the door. Instead of a clue as to the whereabouts of the missing ranger she found a treasure token (represented here by an old scatter die). The event deck had one more surprise in store for me however, it spawned two more giant rats.
As you can see in the picture I initially placed them incorrectly and forgot to take another picture after discovering my mistake. They are supposed to spawn out of line of sight beside a random building but if that's not possible they must spawn beside the building as close as they can to an enemy. In this case I could spawn only one out of line of sight (the one on the left) but the other one was clearly visible to my knight no matter where I placed him behind the building. The photo doesn't give this justice but believe me my laser pointer had the last word on the matter. So instead of spawning behind the building they spawned almost right on top of the survivor as the altered picture shows.
As you can imagine turn eight was quite a melee. The survivor was killed by the giant rats before I could intervene. I did however manage to kill one of them. My arcanist even got his hands dirty again at the end but only managed to lose two health for his trouble.
Things were a bit better with my ranger's group as they killed their last zombie.
They didn't exactly achieve their goal of finding the missing ranger but that wasn't due to lack of trying, that's just the way the dice rolled. Securing a treasure wasn't bad though as it turned out to be a Herb Pouch which in this system is a pretty good "magic item". The ranger received almost enough XP to level up while all his companions received two progression points, minus recruit 2 of course. As for recruit 2's injuries I'm happy to say he'll make a full recovery.
As far as a first game goes this actually went pretty smoothly, already knowing most of the system certainly helped though. I've got to say I really appreciate the way the scenario system handles monsters, knowing everything you need ahead of time for a mission is great. I know that comes at the sacrifice of a table of random encounters but it certainly makes it easier to plan for (even though I just proxied everything, you know what I mean). Also the number of each monster that it suggests was spot on, I really thought I'd have to grab some extra zombies or "rats" but I didn't. I really think this system might be the perfect fit for me. Even before lockdown and everything that came with it I had trouble finding anyone interested in playing Frostgrave or Ghost Archipelago (which I prefer). So a system that expands upon that and offers solo play is right up my alley.
With any luck I'd like to play this once a week for at least the foreseeable future. I'm a little rusty with writing battle reports and honestly I haven't written that may to begin with but with practice I hope to get better. I can already see that my notes need to be way better if for no other reason than to make writing the report quicker and less tedious. I had to look up so many things that could have been avoided had I just taken better notes.
Since before all this craziness started my wife and I have been saying how we should start gaming again. This of course led to the question of, what to play? After some discussion and explanation (not to mention some gentle nudging) we decided to start a Ghost Archipelago campaign seeing as it ticked the most boxes. Its fantasy based, not too complicated or hard to learn, plays quickly, and the combat/general gameplay is enjoyable.
I'll be the first to admit this discussion and decision occurred at the beginning of the lockdown and our first game was last Saturday. Why the long delay between deciding and starting? A good and valid question, which basically boils down to home repairs, relearning the system, and creating two identical (stat wise at least) crews. So as the lockdowns start to lift in some places our lockdown campaign finally begins.
Before I forget to mention it this was my wife's first game and only my second. So we opted to ignore Heritor and Warden abilities/spells altogether. I know this takes a lot away from the game but we figured it was better to get the basics down first. Our next game will certainly include these however.
By simple luck of the die our first scenario just happened to be X Marks the Spot, the first scenario in the book. We placed all the treasures and deployed our crews.
My wife's orks.
That's when I noticed I hadn't rolled for the creature/creatures defending the central treasure. It almost didn't matter as it ended up being a skeleton that my archer killed on turn one. I'd call it the play of the day.
Placement after turn one or two. I honestly lost track.
As you can see we're both positioned to grab two regular treasures apiece while a melee is brewing at the central treasure.
It was around this time that we both really got into the game and subsequently forgot to take any pictures. Not a bad thing, just not great for a battle report, I'll try my best to report everything missed however.
1.)The central treasure had become quite a melee involving both our Heritors and Wardens. I managed to knock out her Heritor just before mine went down. In the picture you can see the two Wardens squaring off for the treasure afterwards.
2.)At bottom center you can see one of my crewmen getting ready to escape with a treasure.
3.)Top right corner you can see one of my archers getting ready to escape with another treasure. I managed a very lucky shot which outright killed one of her crewmen that had nearly escaped with that treasure.
4.)Middle right my goblin crewmen is almost off table with a treasure.
5.) Not pictured my wife's orks secured a treasure on the left side of the board.
The next turn I secured three regular treasures and the desperate fight began for the central treasure. With only my Warden and mercenary remaining I squared off against her Warden, mercenary, infantryman, two archers, and a regular crewman. Though I came close to taking out her warden mere inches from table edge and safety it wasn't meant to be. Both my Warden and mercenary were knocked out and she secured the central treasure.
Her final positions after removing my last two figures.
My casulties and treasure.
My mercenary was killed outright while everyone else made a full recovery.
Fury Leaves +30gc
Smoke glass and Lingle berry
Heritor XP: 185
With my level up I increased my movement to 7.
Warden XP: 60
Her casulties and treasure (including the central treasure).
Her Heritor took psychological scars subtracting 1 from her Will, while everyone else made a full recovery.
Stinkwort and Farlight Leaf
Fury Leaves + 30gc
Heritor XP: 160
With her level up she reduced a heritor abilities utilization number by 1.
Warden XP: 60
All in all it was a ton of fun and neither of us can wait for the next game. This game did however show me just how little fantasy terrain I actually have, so I guess I know what my next project is.
By Lidless Eye
Kislev lives on in our hearts forever.
I've continued my theme of building the Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago Crew with a Steppes feel. The majority of these are built using bodies and arms from the Crew kit, with some Empire/Mordheim heads and other outsourced bits.
The last batch wound up being more generic Pirate types.
By Lidless Eye
My most recent painted pieces are the Tribals from Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago.
I really liked the spirit mask options. My grandmother had a set in her spare room, and I was fascinated with them as a child.
The Cyclops is actually a 3D print by Valandar to celebrate the successful funding of his Titans of Legend Kickstarter. The Cyclops stretch goal in the FG:FA Nickstarter wasn't hit, but the file was released the same day. I figured he would fit in with them.
By Rob Dean
The club's next Ghost Archipelago campaign starts this coming Saturday, so I am taking advantage of the day off to make sure that I am ready. We are starting with new crews, and my new spell caster (warden) has a spell to create a little piece of blocking terrain, so I decided that I had better make a few today. I am hoping/expecting that 6 of them should be enough. The parapet is supposed to be 2" long and a half inch high, so I pulled out some 50mm cavalry bases to stack stones on.
Glue on stones and wait for things to dry.
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