Wednesday, 6 July 2016

If You Can't Stand the Heat

Dungeon Saga time! An impromptu Skype session with General Kas. For his inaugural session, we started the Infernal Crypts campaign. 

Appropriately, the devilishly lava-based board was laid out in my kitchen. Seems we could both stand it.

Some Like It Hot

The Infernal Crypts makes for a good change of pace from the Undead campaign. You can rest assured (or uneasy in your graves, if you'd prefer) that we'll be continuing that in due course. Nice to see some other heroes in action, though, and to compare how it affects the game.

This lot are, as a group, faster on their feet. They're also much less armoured - no tanky dwarf. And little ranged hitting either, sacrificed for some strong CQB powers. Although the Naiad can shoot either crossbow bolts or water blasts, they're pretty tame compared to the Elf's bow. And this Wizard is a very different kettle of fish - some interesting defensive spells to counter enemy magic (not that there is any in the first couple of levels), and a very powerful short-range tornado blast, but nothing to shoot over distance.

Instead, the Barbarian is a bit more defensive as he levels up, getting the protective Stalwart ability. And the Cleric can heal herself and take hits for the team. So they need to stick close, healing each other as they nip across the map, and not get bogged down even more than their counterparts in the Dwarf King's Quest campaign.

Weirdly, though, the Naiad disrupts spellcasting! Anyone too near to her triggers her Null ability, potentially stopping enemy spells dead. Or friendly ones, is the problem, so it's a strangely mis-matched group of heroes to send into the fray.

Let's see how they fare in the devilish depths of hell, Mantic-style!

The Tunnelling Inferno

The first map is a nice training wheels level. As ever, it's a case of find the exit door and get it open, and it's a very simple two-room challenge. There are two focuses - speed and lava, with a sample lava pool to dip your toes in.

Rookie though he was, Kas took the team swiftly past the pool, through the door and into the guard room beyond. Here, it got a bit tricky.

The room beyond swarmed with fiendish sentries - a pair of hellhounds and a quadrilogy of Lower Abyssals, the weakling grunts of Hell's armies. Armed with a full hand of interrupts, I did my best to hold the heroes in the doorway as they made their explosive entrance.

Also aided by my poor choice of ordering meaning I also blocked my own advance.

It nearly paid off, but the Wizard comes with a handy trick - the Push spell. Shunting my grunts back, the other heroes darted through, slaughtering all but two of the demons in the process. A close run thing, though, as the Naiad uses her Calm Waters feat to pin the remaining guards in place and allow the Cleric to dash past. They kick the door in with no rounds to spare.


I Fell Into a Burning Ring of Fire

The first level took a mere hour or so to play, so we cracked on with a second, the astonishingly-named 'Lake of Fire'.

No idea where they got that title from. 

So in terms of rocking the boat, the level is plain sailing. Get to the doors on the far side and get one open. One is a tough 4/4 planker that needs brute force, the other a strength 2 ward that'll take the Wizard two rounds of spellpicking to unjam.

And defending it?

A massive hall of lava and firey demons! With tempting chests on either side, as well as stepping stones for the more flammably-inclined. 

Seven short turns to reach the other side! Go!

I was working on the basis I had nine, neglecting to realise about starting hand not being drawn yet.

Turn 1 - Disco Inferno

The Naiad and Cleric are hot to trot, leaping out onto the first stepping stone and smacking the nearest abyssal down. The Barbarian also fires up, hacking apart a tough Abyssal Guard that's lurking behind the nearby barrels as though in ambush.

But he's a decoy! Before the Wizard can even get out of the gate, he's interrupted by a second Abyssal Guard that pins him in place and lights him up for some early damage. His attempt at a Tornado spell is a flash in the pan, leaving him burning with embarrassment.

Lesson learned: don't leave the wizard to fight for himself; or alone for a minute given there can be interrupts!

Pouring petrol on the fire in the Overlord phase comes a second Lower Abyssal, hitting the Barbarian in the back. And the blaze spreads - an Abyssal Flamecaster on one of the side banks burns the Naiad for a wound with a powerful fireball.

Turn 2 - Fire! I Take You to Burn

Leaping from rock to rock, the Cleric dashes for the nearest chest, knocking a wound off its firespewing guard in the process. But she's just fanning the flames! A deadly Efreet interrupts her by flying forward over the lava and trapping her. Her Naiad pal does her best to shoot the Abyssal in front of her with a water jet, but she's just letting off steam. (Enough fire references now. Ed.)

Although the Barbarian kills his ambusher, he's pinned in place for a round. The Wizard, now temporarily tapped out of Tornadoes, tries to push his assailant aside, but forgets he can't cast that spell this close. Instead he shields himself and summons up some new crystals.

Fighting fire with fire, the demons hit back. The Naiad somehow escapes further crisping from the fireballs, and the Wizard is very glad of that shield as it protects him from a firey barrage of Guardian blows.

Turn 4 - It's Getting Hot in Here

The Wizard is burning for revenge and he's got the power to do it. He launches another Tornado, boosting it with the largest power crystal he's got. Phew! It's a scorcher - the Abyssal Guard is no more, but he's still stuck right at the back and is no nearer the crucial doors.

Swigging down a swift draft of Haste, the Barbarian legs it towards the other side. He's close enough to reach the Abyssal at the far end of the lava, but all that jumping has tired him out, so there's no combat. Also wilting is the Naiad, who tries another snipey shot at the firethrower near her and fails to connect.

And then disaster strikes again! Faster than wildfire, a Succubus sneaks out from the far depths of the halls. Her hypnotic gaze interrupts the action and pins the Cleric in place before she can act. Whatever plan Kas had for her is left in ashes.

Evil. Nicely done. 

Worse, I'm just getting warmed up! I've got three extra commands in my phase, thanks to a nasty card. All my minions get a turn, and there's a real firefight developing. (Aargh! - Ed.)

While the Cleric is overheating at the sight of the Succubus, she can't keep her foes in the fight. The Efreet swishes over the lava to hit the Barbarian in the rear again, while the Naiad is plastered with fireballs from all sides. She's starting to look pretty crispy...

Finally, the Succubus switches her wiles to the Barbarian, leaving him sweating at her Flashdance.

Turn 5 - Feeling Hot Hot Hot

It's no time to get cold feet, so the Naiad takes a risky plunge. Flitting over the lava, she miraculously manages to avoid catching fire, and gets close enough to the Barbarian to snap him out of his hypnotic spell.

The Wizard has some catching up to do, and does it with aplomb. A long-range Push sees the last Abyssal floundering in the lava. They're fire-resistant but not fireproof, and even a devil can't cope with the really hot stuff! (Please stop. Ed.)

The Barbarian manages to dent the Efreet, and manages to avoid getting hit by the aura of retributire fire that surrounds it. However, the hellish entity can regenerate as long as it's floating on lava, and it stays in the fight.

The Cleric is once more thinking unholy thoughts, though, as the Succubus interrupts again and keeps her pinned at the back. That Naiad needs some healing, see, and I've no intention of letting the Cleric get close enough to do any!

In the Overlord's turn, I dance the Succubus backwards and switch her dazzling charms to the Barbarian again after the Efreet playfully splashes him with fire. And then I play a really nasty card - the stifling heat of the cavern saps the heroes speed, halving their movement next turn. Only two turns left, and nobody's anywhere near a door yet!

Turn 6 - Burning Down the House

From the rear, although slightly less nimbly than the Naiad, the Cleric wades over the flaming coals. If she's scalded, it's worth taking the heat for as she manages to explode the Efreet with a blindsided blast.

The Barbarian staggers forward after the Naiad sacrifices her turn to wake him, but he can't connect with the sly succubus. And the Wizard is barely able to close the gap, merely stepping from hotplate to hotplate as he traverses the lava.

Throwing down extra commands again, I use both the firecasting Abyssals to pepper the Naiad. She dodges one before feeling the burn from the other one.

Luckily, she's got a healing potion from the first level (she looted a chest during the action) and just about stays alive, but she's very nearly toast. One more hit will see her off, and as she's extra vulnerable to fireballs (being an aquatic sort), I'm confident I've got her number.

Eager for resolution, I dash the Succubus forward and attack the Naiad from the side. Nope! She's just a damp squib, not a Katy Perry-style firework after all. (Seriously? Enough! Ed.)

Time for the last turn...

Turn 7 - Come on Baby Light My Fire

The Wizard has the hots for the Succubus - using another crystal, he dashes up, summons a flamenado and fries her to cinders in a second. That leaves the others free to rush for the doors, but I'm still not dead yet.

A final interrupt, and it's a firey climax - a fireball in the rear to the already torched Naiad! She can't repel firepower of any magnitude right now, and down she goes...

Nearly, anyway. So close! But the damned Cleric has taken a turn just ahead of all this, and thrown a Transfusion spell down on the Naiad. She's close enough that the Naiad's Null ability triggers, so the spell might have been wasted - but no, this is General Kas we're talking about here, and so that final wound is soaked up to the Cleric instead.

With a final blaze of speed, the Barbarian gathers his speed and hits the door as hard as he can. It's a big one, probably some kind of fire door I suspect, so it's going to take some ramming. Luckily, the Barbarian is on fire in terms of dice rolls (merely singed otherwise) and knocks it in handily.


We Didn't Start the Fire

Another very closely run race - almost a dead heat! (You're fired. No! Now I'm doing it! - Ed.)

I'm a little disappointed not to have got some of the best Overlord cards for the fire theme yet, but I'm sure it's a matter of time. Spreading extra lava over the field unexpectedly is a great mechanic, and a throw-back to one of my childhood favourites, the Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs.

I still feel bad that I didn't paint the the models. Those lava tokens would look boss with some fire effects. 

Some strange rules in the book, although we used common sense to narrate over them. According to one rule, the demons are fireproof and take no damage from moving through lava. But there's another rule that says any model ending on lava takes a six-dice hit, worded in an ambiguous way that suggests it overrules this ability. That's how we played it, in the event, although I maintained that Efreets really are totally lava proof, as that's the only way their magma-powered regenerate ability makes sense.

Made sense to me on the Efreet, and we justified the other that the abyssals might be flame proof, but not capable of floating on top when they stopped and so the damage was the crushing/suffocating forces as they sank.

Technically I don't think humans are dense enough to sink in lava, which is stone, after all. Demons must be made of something else. Mind you, I hear that breathing in stone fumes can very quickly kill you too, so I'm sure there's some science behind it somewhere.

Interesting to see a different team dynamic here. They're faster and frailer, and if I had my doubts about game balance with their oddly off-kilter abilities, I was reassured seeing them in action.

More in the weeks ahead, I suspect.

Indeed, it was a nice easy and enjoyable few hours. I'm up for exploring the next level. 

And more Dwarf King's Quest too - Generals Leofa and Stylus, dare you return to the rotating rooms of confusion?


  1. UNPAINTED MODELS? - who is writing this and what have you done with Kraken?

  2. I know! I know! I'm sorry! I did manage to get a single door painted in time during the half hour setup. but it's not good enough, I'll do better for next time.

    1. That's quite all right. Apologies for the incendiary post.

    2. Not at all, it's all firewater under the bridge.