Friday, 17 June 2016

Sink or Spin

A-dungeoneering we shall go! Back to the Dwarf King's Quest, and after the easy mode of the last mission, Dungeonmaster Kraken was promising us something more challenging.

Dungeon Saga, Dwarf King's Quest - Mission 6: Turned Around

To show he meant business, he even skipped the prologue...

Well, in keeping with previous spoilerific intros, it did contain grid references for the traps. 

The All-New, All-Different Dungeoneers!

As we tool up for the adventure, we discover that all our heroes have achieved Legendary Status! (Really? Defeating a banshee, a fancy dress troll and a couple of skeletons is all it took? Fair enough - I got into med school with less).

Our statlines a generally a little harder, we all get some new feats and abilities, and the Dwarf actually appears that he might be able to damage things now.

Lordy - a competent dwarf. Now I'm in for it.

That said, I'm quite glad I didn't spring for the legendary versions in the Kickstarter. I can accept the fighters picking up a few pieces of armour in their travels - but where the hell did Danor find the time to grow a beard and age thirty years? (that's some Brisk Work, that is).

Turn 1-2

Anyway, fortified with armour, potions and power crystals, we storm off into the dungeon: Madriga and Orlaf park themselves on piles of bones, Rordin kicks in the first door and Danor charges in.

Dungeon Saga, Dwarf King's Quest - Mission 6: Turned Around
Boom! No stopping us.

We reveal a small square room with four short corridors, each ending in a door. For some reason, the wizard is still our point man, so Danor moves forward to open a warded door, revealing a pair of Armoured Zombies waiting for him. He fires off a couple of spells: Corrode to drop armour, then Flamebolt to ... achieve nothing.

Dead bodies just don't burn well. You get a smell of burned hair and scorching, that's about it. Take it from me. 

Danor then uses his last spell to Brisk Work himself out of the way, so the Dwarf can move in to plug the gap. After doing such fine work against the door, Rordin sadly fails to dent the corroded zombie. As a consolation, even mobbed by zombies, the Legendary Dwarf is pretty indestructible.

With Madriga holding back to cover the bone piles, Orlaf barrels into the non-warded door and smashes it in ... to reveal a large room containing large trolls.

And then something weird happens.

Dungeon Saga, Dwarf King's Quest - Mission 6: Turned Around

The central room we're standing in spins around 90° clockwise (there's some flavour text about the evil overlord pulling a hidden lever - the bastard), this not only disorientates the heroes, but it moves the doors as well - the door to our right, which was closed, now moves behind us.

This cuts off the newly-roused Skeleton Archer in the room behind us (ha-ha), but also 'opens' the room to our right - which contains another Skeleton Archer and two Dwarf Revenants (doh!).

Dungeon Saga, Dwarf King's Quest - Mission 6: Turned Around

One of the Revenants moves to engage the Barbarian and takes off a wound - it was around this point that we realised we'd been rolling three fewer defence dice for Orlaf, which explained why he was leaking wounds faster than a wizard. One wound was sportingly restored, and we learned our lesson.

In the opposite room, the two Armoured Zombies hammer away at Rordin, who yawns, scratches his beard and wonders what he's having for supper.

This is preposterous. The Dwarf is so heavily armoured, I need sixes to even scratch him! And it wasn't like he was a pushover before. 

The two Zombie Trolls remain at the back of the large room, in no way reminiscent of an ambush about to spring. Oh no, not at all.

Dungeon Saga, Dwarf King's Quest - Mission 6: Turned Around

Turn 3

Deciding we all need to pile into the big room, before the spinning starts again, we once again send Danor in there first (not because he's remotely the best qualified for taking the lead, but we always get greedy and want him to start throwing around hexes before the fighting starts, completely forgetting about Overlord Interrupt actions).

Sure enough, no sooner has Danor cast Feet of Stone on one Troll, the Overlord plays a double Interrupt, steps up to the wizard and cuts off anyone else getting into the corridor. Let the squishing commence!

Nya ha ha! I'd been dealt a cracking hand of cards so far, and no mistake. As soon as the wizard was in the room, I was licking my lips and shuffling excitedly like a toddler in need of a wee break. Lucky this was over Skype, the heroes would have backed right out again if they'd seen me. 

Good job they'd frozen one of the Trolls, really, although the wizard was actually too far into the corner for them both to reach him. In the event, I sent a Revenant lurching forth to get in the Barbarian's face, and even wounded him again despite his newfound memory of basic defence techniques. 

The Dwarf bounds to the rescue, and with a little help from his friends, clobbers the nearest troll (a slayer-in-waiting, that one).

Then everything starts spinning again. Everything.

Dungeon Saga, Dwarf King's Quest - Mission 6: Turned Around

Once the Overland has advanced his minions down the corridor junction, it starts spinning again. Not only that, but the large room also starts spinning. The upshot is that the only intact door (warded, so only the wizard can open it) has now moved to seal off poor Danor, who is left to play a very one-sided game of tag with the remaining Zombie Troll.

This couldn't be going any better if it tried. The weakest party member is locked in a room, alone, with the largest minion I've got. If they get out of this, I'll eat my pointy hat. No! What am I saying! I have terrible luck. I'll, er, I'll humbly concede they were lucky this time.

Turn 4-5

Time to bust out the special feats: Danor mobiles all his major spells: first immobilising the Troll with Feet of Stone, and then throwing a Burn on him with a Lv 3 power crystal for good measure. Unfortunately, the wizard is throwing rocks, and no less than seven dice still fail to harm the damn troll.

Burnt hair smell, I'm telling you. Troll hair, which is even worse. 

Aside from Rordin finally swatting down an Armoured Zombie, the heroes don't achieve much in the junction, and the corridors are still clogged up with deadies when the rooms rotate again!

Dungeon Saga, Dwarf King's Quest - Mission 6: Turned Around

The rooms spin once more, bringing Danor tantalisingly close to being reunited with his comrades (aside from the ruddy great Troll in the way).

As the wizard cedes another wound, we finally try a bit of teamwork: Danor sneaks up to the Dwarf Revenant (who suddenly finds himself exposed) and blasts him with a Flamebolt. This clears the way for Orlaf to charge forward and go to town on the Troll - job done!

Wretched Barbarian! Somehow, he one-shots the Troll. He'll get his, just you wait.

Clearing up the Armoured Zombie to the rear, Rordin smashes once more (I'm liking this Legendary Dwarf), although by steadfastly refusing to move, he's denied Madriga a line-of-sight to shoot ... unless she pulls out her Trick Shot feat and sends an arrow over her shoulder, ricocheting off two walls to skewer the Dwarf Revenant through the eye socket.

Dungeon Saga, Dwarf King's Quest - Mission 6: Turned Around

Turn 6-7

Finally! We've all made it through the junction and can start exploring the rooms beyond (that is the point of the mission, after all).

Orlaf smashes through the left hand door, to reveal three piles 'o bones, two upright Skeletons, a chest and a table! An actual table - we've got some furniture!

Dungeon Saga, Dwarf King's Quest - Mission 6: Turned Around

The room spins around and, as we regroup, Madriga pulls off her last feat, shooting three arrows to fell one of the new Skeletons and another of the ones still left in our rear. More crucially, she gets close enough to hand over the healing potion to Danor, who is now puffing quite badly on his last wound.

With the path cleared, Rordin and Orlaf start clearing the room, smashing down one Skeleton and engaging the rest. However, there is still a Skeleton Warrior, Skeleton Archer and Dwarf Revenant to our rear, and the spinning room has just allowed them access...

Dungeon Saga, Dwarf King's Quest - Mission 6: Turned Around

Before we can properly realise our danger, Dungeonmaster Kraken plays a couple of timely interrupts to catch us off-guard. A Dwarf Revenant moves up to attack - but Danor's hastily-quaffed Healing Potion keeps him in the game.

Then the Skeleton Archer takes a shot, and the wizard falls. With a wounded member of their party to look after, the other three heroes abandon the quest and drag away Danor for a lie-down and a restorative cup of Bovril.

Dungeon Saga, Dwarf King's Quest - Mission 6: Turned Around

Mission failed!

Back At the Tavern

Our first defeat - I hope they don't revoke our Legendary status after this shambles.

I suspect you actually get Double Legendary for actually managing to lose for a change. 

I guess we had this coming: a perfect storm of a tricksy dungeon, a canny DM (damn those interrupts!) and a healthy dose of overconfidence.

For all his incredible utility, the wizard has always been the squishy Achilles heel of the group, and we were a bit reckless to expose him like that (even if we couldn't anticipate the spinning rooms). We've played fast and loose with Danor before, but until now, there have never been enough Overlord actions to exploit it. An increase in the number of actions really helps the Overlord make a competitive dungeon, and quite right too.

It's got to be said, the game is pretty tough in many ways for the heroes. Losing a single guy costs you the match, and having plenty of actions and minions on my team really ramps up the pressure. Several of the games have felt mighty tame so far, so it felt good to have the balance shift in my favour. 

That said, this might be a bit too far. It's a hard mission, this one, the random element can be really disruptive. I'm looking forward to seeing how they plan for it next time out. And worse, I can say with some decision that the next few missions are even tougher!

If there is to be a silver lining, the Dwarf has really stepped up his game. From being a millstone with a beard in the early games, he is now seriously tanky and can dish out a solid hit. He certainly makes the Barbarian (who is nonetheless still our best fighter) look a bit fragile. Even when he's rolling all his dice.

A good game, and if we have to replay any of them, at least this one is so random it won't feel samey.

But for now, we must drown our sorrows with mugs of Hordin's finest ('Gnasher's Bite') and plan our return into the depths.

I'm going to suck a charred Troll piece and cackle maniacally in the depths. 

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