Friday, 18 December 2015

Baby, It's Cold Inside

Day 18 - and we continue with our evening of Dwarf King's Quest

For his birthday, Gavin's getting Type II Diabetes

This continues from the same session as Mission 2 - we had time for a re-rack and heading on the next stage. Mission 3: 'Restless Guardian' (which was about a banshee, not a broadsheet newspaper).

Mission 3 - Collecting Your Jar of Hearts 

Flushed with victory, our party went on to face the Elshara, the Elven Banshee (How did we know? Because the flavour intro told us. I think we'll have to skip these, or get Kraken to make up his own - the damn things are spoilers).

Anyway, 'Restless Guardian' was a different proposition that the previous three 'fight to the final door' missions.

For a start, we were immediately facing the undead hero, who had access to spells (pretty damn good ones too) and was both ethereal and indestructible (no Zombie Troll style heroics here) - so we were going to be stuck with her for the whole game.

That pillar isn't from the game, but part of my Mines of Moria set - something else I've got to paint.

The point of the game was not to escape, but to retrieve and assemble the four pieces of the banshee's stone heart (character could collect and pass on the heart just by being in contact with each other).

Finally, there was no expansive dungeon, just a square room with an impassable pillar and four doors (each leading, as it turned out, to a small room with a chest - so no mystery as to where we'd find the heart fragments).

As it was a simple layout, I was kept in the dark about it - with Kraken instructing me which tiles to lay as they were revealed. It was a pretty simple layout after all, but it worked to keep suspense, so we'll be trying it in future games.

To make things more interesting, we decided to include campaign rules and secondary missions:

  • You have a set number of hours to complete a campaign. Each mission takes an 'hour', but if you finish it fast enough (i.e. if there are sufficient command cards left unplayed), you get the hour for free. If you fail the mission, you still get a do-over, but now you're eating into your time.
  • The secondary missions can be anything, but it forces you to think and prioritise (for example in the last mission, we would have had to go into the unexplored room). For this mission, the pieces of the heart must be held by Danor, the Wizard.

The Dwarf and Barbarian took on the first room - their sheer combat strength made them the best door-kickers.

When it came to the Banshee's turn, she was able to float into a central position and use her most dangerous spell - Banshee Wail - a scream that wounds or paralyses anything in short range. Due to an unfortunate sequences of '6's, the Elf, Dwarf and Wizard all took a hit.

(lucky, all of Elshara's spells are major, so take a turn to recharge)

Despite the Banshee's efforts, we were making good progress. The Barbarian had got the first piece of heart, the Dwarf had opened the second room and was fighting the Dwarf Revenant to get in, the Wizard had unwarded the only magical door, ready for the Elf to dash in and attack the unguarded chest.

Then it went a bit pear-shaped: the Elf failed to smash open the chest (even 2/2 is hard to beat when you only have 3 attack dice) and so was left stuck in the room.

The Banshee then used another spell - Faithful In Death - to summon a Ghost (a new minion - not much in combat, but a bugger to injure) to block the Elf in the room.

Back to the heroes turn, the Wizard went to save the Elf, blasting the Ghost apart with a boosted Burn spell (Burn is the big fireball, Flamebolt is the little one).

Now free to attack the chest, the Elf failed to crack it open again. We were starting to think that maybe doors and chests should be left to the Dwarf and Barbarian.

The Dwarf put paid to that theory, when he tried and failed to kick open the final door. We were starting to think that maybe doors and chests should be left to the Barbarian.

Sure enough, the Barbarian had no trouble opening the next chest and getting our second piece of heart (the first had already be passed off to the Wizard, who ran into the room to get it).

The Banshee then played her third spell Shriek - which is just a five-dice blast - on the Wizard.

Normally we don't care if the Wizard takes a wound or two - unlike the Elf, he's equally combat-ineffective whether he's injured or not. But now he was getting dangerously close to being crippled, which could scupper the whole mission.

I didn't get a shot of this, but the Dwarf managed to kick the door down on the second attempt, revealing a Dwarf Revenant and a warded chest that only the Wizard could open.

(and due to my bad positioning of the Dwarf, he was blocking the doorway from the Barbarian, who was waiting to rush in and kill the Revenant)

This was followed with a second Ghost summoned to harass the Elf - and that chest is STILL not opened!

The Wizard then managed something rather neat: he used his move phase to go from the second room to the third (facing the Revenant and running out of move two squares short of the warded chest). He then cast three minor spells:

  • a boosted Flamebolt to kill the Revenant and clear the path
  • a new spell - Brisk Work - that allows a character to move two steps out of sequence, and bring him in contact with the chest
  • a Break Ward to open the chest and retrieve the third piece of heart!
Saving us a quite a lot of time and work in a single turn. That Wizard is a pretty versatile character, and a lot of fun to use. His only deficiencies, aside from frailty, is he's useless against standard doors and chests (sadly magical blasts don't work on them - which I suspect is deliberate, or he'd be too independent).

The Barbarian continued this cooperating by running up and smiting the second Ghost. Emboldened (and probably to avoid the Barbarian doing it and showing her up some more), the Elf finally opened the fourth chest.

We had all the pieces! Now to unite them!

Elshara's counter was another Banshee Wail - which bounced off most of the heroes except for the one that really mattered: the Wizard was unharmed, but rooted the spot with fear. The necromancer would get another turn to whack at him (he was now down to two wounds) before we could get the last fragment of heart to him.

Fortunately, we had enough movement to see it through - although it did involve a quick passing game of 'heart fragment rugby' - the Elf moved and gave it to the Barbarian, the Barbarian ran and blocked the entrance Wizard's corridor, waiting for him to rouse himself. (The Dwarf just stood there, as Skeleton Archer arrows bounced off him).

The Wizard had to endure another Shriek from the Banshee, but he was able to get himself to the Barbarian, unite the heart and banish the Banshee!

Mission over. And in quick time! And we got the secondary objective! Butterbears all round!

Back At The Tavern

The second round of a very enjoyable evening! I think we all agreed this is a cracking game to play and we had a lot of fun. The campaign timer and secondary objectives are a nice addition to the play.

After we sailed through the previous mission, this one had us nervous right until the end. We finished ahead of time, but I'm not sure how long you can last against an indestructible villain with the ability to chip away wounds. Doors and chests certainly proved an obstacle when you're in a hurry.

I'd say The Wizard stole the show this time - those magic spells really do add another dimension of play, and I'm sure they'll only get more powerful and numerous.

After the previous stellar performance, the Elf probably did least well, but was in her least-favourable element, where raw strength and durability were needed (unless you were a wizard, and had other tricks). Nice that the heroes really have to lean on each other to get through this.

So another thumbs-up for Dungeon Saga - I'd better get painting some more models!

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