Monday, 11 July 2016

Firewalk with me

Image result for river of fire

Back to Hell for us!

Chapter three of the Infernal Crypts beckoned on a quiet Sunday night. Kas once again took the helm of the adventuring party, which was a shame because the Barbarian was wearing it. That left me manouvering the malefics.

This campaign gives you ten hours to complete six missions. Each attempt counts as one hour, unless you manage to do it fast enough. Kas has won two but only just, so he's got eight hours left for the rest.

How many levels of hell are there?

Round One - Great Balls of Fire

This level isn't pushing the level design envelope out too far. Get to the other side of the cavern, open the door, win the level.

And here it is, in all its firey glory.

Barring the way, however, is a hot streak of lava and a reasonably high number of bad guys. With some nasty abilities, like the hypnotic succubus or the rather deadly flamecasters with their high strength fireballs.

And a moloch, one of the toughest monsters around in the whole game.

The heroes make a hard start out of the gate. Kas romps down the main corridor, taking out the hellhound guards, and runs the wizard forward so he can't get flanked. This doesn't work, the two Abyssals just run round ahead instead and double team the poor shmoe for a pair of wounds.


After that, things go south fairly fast. Despite managing to take out one of the Efreets guarding the lava by pushing it on to dry land and then ganging up on it, the heroes end up taking a lot of flak from Flamecasters. The Cleric in particular ends up isolated and beaten up, because she tries to protect the Wizard by using her transfusion spell. This soaks the next wound that hero takes and transfers it to the Cleric, and the Wizard is such an easy mark...

There's the Cleric, balancing on a lava bridge in front of an alluring demon. Poor choice.

The heroes push hard and make some headway, despite my best attempts to use the Succubus to hold them up. They even manage to put a nasty dent in the Moloch, with the Cleric turning it round so that the Wizard can hit it in the back with a boosted Tornado.

Four wounds down, and with a crystal in hand I could try an unboosted one next turn. 

Luckily, the Cleric hasn't avoided enough of the barrages of fireballs I've been sending in over a couple of turns, and she can't really go toe to toe with the big guy. With a few tidy interrupts, she ends up crisped on the far shores of the river, a mere five turns in.

I thought I was going to have a chance to heal but nasty interrupts took that option away; as well as remaining lifeforce.

Round Two - Fight Fire With Fire

This hasn't taken much time, so we reset, switch sides and try again.

I get off to an excellent start, killing all of the nearby baddies except for a single Hellhound. Then, in a deft display of why I usually play as the bad guys, I get the Cleric killed in two turns flat. Scorched by fireballs twice over after an early double interrupt, then eaten by a hellhound.

And hypnotised by the succubus for good measure to prevent any turn two healing.


Round Three - Disco Inferno

Third time's the charm? Maybe. After a short discussion about whether my abortive attempt to beat the level has eaten an hour of Kas's campaign time unnecessarily or not, we switch sides again.

(Kas says the hour didn't count, he'd have may gone easy easier on me if it did. I say it did count, because if I'd won we'd have moved on to the next level. What would you say from the safety of your judges' box, panel?)

Well not easy as such; but there was a ruthless ganging up on the cleric. I think you swung it when you said we would have moved to the next level if you had beaten. So the hour stands in my mind. 

Off to a strong start, the heroes form a line and head down the central corridor again. Although the hellhounds die again, the two Abyssals at the edges flank in and chop wounds off both Cleric and Naiad.

No problems, Kas takes this and keeps on trucking. The Barbarian sprints through the lava to smite down one of the flamethrowers early on, and manages to keep his beachhead clear enough for the Cleric to join him. The others deal with the flankers without too much bother.

Double activations for me, a ferocious six at once, so my whole team takes a turn. It's not that spectacular in the end, though. Fireballs eat away at the Wizard, knocking him down to two wounds, but elsewhere I'm just shuffling about to block the advances more than hurting anyone.

The Naiad chucks over her healing potion and the wizard is briefly back to three wounds... it didn't stay that way for long.

Looking a little empty, there.

Things stay balanced for a few rounds with the Succubus darting around and shifting position to keep one or another hero locked out for a bit.

Causing me to run around and use one hero to slap sense in to the one gazed, only for an interrupt to let the succubus have another go.  She has to go. Cool hands buys me a turn where no monsters can close for an attack if not there or get free hits if I break - so in best ghostbuster style: "Get her!"

But I keep underestimating the Wizard - this one has no ranged spells, but when I rush teams of monsters in close to hack him apart, I get blown up by his deadly Tornado spell. I manage to lose four monsters to this over the next few turns, with others being slowly worn away by attrition.

Although I've done quite a lot of damage during this, it's pretty evenly spread amongst the heroes.

All down one wound, except the wizard who is down three. Both cleric and wizard can steadily recover.

And although lava is slowly spreading around the edges of the river, blocking off the stepping stones, I'm left with only the Moloch to protect that key door after only two more turns. Although he's ungodly tough, he's also slow. The Wizard acts as bait, letting the others dash past. He's good bait, too - there's slim chance I can beat him before the door falls, but it's also the best chance I've got.

But it's not to be. The heroes boot in the door on their first try, and scarper, easily within their time limit. No hour used up this time!

I did eye up the Moloch. The barbarian, naiad and tornado all at once. I might have got through the five wounds; then I could have looted the chest before leaving. Having been thwarted twice though the party wanted to just romp forward. They did have time to bottle a bit of the efreet's essence mind: allowing some flame walking and regeneration of their own in a future level.

Epilogue - Play with Fire

Youch. On balance, we decide that my abortive attempt did count, leaving the heroes halfway through the campaign with six hours left to complete it. Nasty mission, though! And I'm starting to get a handle on the demons, who are generally hard hitting but fragile. Rather like the party is, in fact.

The Succubus is an excellent interrupter, with her ability able to stop a hero dead from a distance. That can really screw up a plan, if a key mover is suddenly half asleep in a corner somewhere. And the Moloch is a big standout, able to soak a ton of damage and deal a hell of a lot back. Sneaking round it is an even stronger plan than it is for the Undead big guy, the Zombie Troll.

Yes, she is nicely evil; the other thorn is the half move interrupt that you've played on me every game.

More to come, I'm sure, although I'm off on holiday for a couple of weeks, so there's likely a lull coming!

Then I am off to US for a couple of weeks. Although with time difference a potential weekend lunchtime battle when you are back could work.

1 comment:

  1. Damnation, this seems a much tougher campaign (hint: you'd roll better dice if those models were painted).

    And my verdict from the judges panel: you should have decided in advance if the hour counted.