Saturday, 20 August 2016

Taking it to the Streets

Kraken, Leofa and I were sucked into the latest kickstarter for CMON - Massive Darkness.

And Proud

In case you missed it (and it's still not too late), it's a dungeon crawler with no GM, pitting your heroes against the usual motley assortment of big bads. For $120, which is I think about the gross economic product of the UK post-Brexit, you get over a hundred very nice models, including some very very cool monsters. (Kraken here, how do)

The Nightmare Thing - only my second favourite.

Although the Kickstarter is now over, you can still get a late pledge here. Worth a look, I'd say, as the core set is a bargain for the model hunter, plus the game looks pretty sweet too. 

Overseer next to Whisper, for scale.
Yeah, this one is my favourite. I still have a crush on beholders.

Unfortunately one of the optional extras was a crossover kit for Zombicide. I had a quick search and thought: "they look like cool minis but really don't fit the feel of the games I play", then Leofa pointed me to Black Plague... my wallet grimaced.

Image result for black plague zombicide

Okay, so here was a zombie game set in fantasy era that was compatible with the dungeon crawl game set in fantasy era and, for 5 or 6 pounds, I could pick up a set of rules that allowed all the minis from one game to apply to the other and vice versa. Well that sounds a good idea! Well, I suppose it is a good idea if you have the game.

It did not take much more of a nudge from Kraken saying "the minis are nice" for me to jump on to Amazon, find some unused gift vouchers and order myself the game... But I am Kasfunatu after all and, you have probably already gathered from comments from others, I can be impulsive and irrational with my purchases - so, I also bought the add on immediately! It took two games before I ordered as much other additional content as I could find at reasonable price.

Yeah, don't go and look at these fancy dice, Kas, it's not a good idea.

I regret not stumbling on the kickstarter as there were a lot of bonus extras. Not least the the crew of Holy Grail film as characters. I have to live with what is going to be re-released as retail (and potentially any good ebay deals).

Thrudd the Barbarian was another stretch goal. They had a bunch of well-known fantasy artists design guest heroes for the game, and this was my favourite. The pack of Adrian Smith sculpts is very good too.

So far I've played the levels 0-5 with Kraken and Leofa with varying skype and in-person interactions and 0-2 with an aspiring group of gamers from work.

The game is a cooperative one, pitching your team of six heroes against endlessly spawning zombies. These start off as a trickle, but scale up fast as your heroes level up. The hero with the most XP sets the overall tone, and you have to watch nobody falls behind the curve and gets swamped. 

Generally, you move round a ruined townscape, searching abandoned buildings and ganking shambling dead things. Opening a building makes noise, which attracts the horde. If you don't get in and search, though, you don't find the weapons and equipment you'll need to kill the larger, tougher zombies like Fatties or the massive Abominations. 

Massive Pecness

Kas, Leofa and I have played three times now. The first game was a training wheel, a quick sprint across a short board to learn the rules, and we did that handily. The heroes are all more or less the same, all able to use any weapons or armour for example. They have different skills, though, which make them better with specific gear. Baldric the Wizard, for example, gets to cast a free spell each turn. Or Sebastian the Dwarf uses armour more efficiently, and evens starts off with some. 

The standard heroes. Ann the Nun is a berserking combat fiend, Baldric I mentioned, Clovis dual-wields extra well, Nelly is fast, Sebastian does padding and Silas the Elf is best with a bow.

Game two was the first real challenge. We had to hunt down and kill one each of the two special enemies in the game. One Necromancer, a sneaky sort who bring extra zombies on to the board and try to avoid the heroes and escape. And one Abomination, essentially immune to all our weapons and only killable by setting up a dragon bile trap, luring it in and igniting it with a torch. 

We did it pretty well, in the end. Leofa kept his warrior Clovis out of sight with an invisibilty spell while everyone else did their best to keep the dead tide back. Although we found the Abomination before we could kill it, clever use of the noise-making mechanics helped us kite it around until we could burn it down, and despite a few scratches, we all survived. 

Image result for jaws exploding shark
Sadly, the rictus-frozen face of the abomination made it impossible for him to smile before exploding.

In game 4 with K&L we had two deaths despite the win, and decided (seeing as I already had Wulfsberg and Hero Box on way) that we would not resurrect them and continue, but they would be replaced by another random hero from the pile.

The mission in game four was to thoroughly search a large section of board for survivors. I lost Nelly when she wandered off alone and got jumped by a trio of Runners. We also let some of the team get a bit ahead with experience, and Clovis ended up under too many zombies than he could safely manage just before the end. Didn't help that Baldric's attempt to blast him free was a bit indiscriminate.

My chief interest in all these games from CMON is the models, really. Simple plastic stuff, kind of like the Mantic models I think, but good detail and take paint very nicely. I can't wait for MD to arrive so that I can add it to the distant end of the leadpile.

By the time we played, I picked up a couple of other boxes at a good deal on ebay and so had 24 heroes for K&L to choose from. (I had not had a death yet, and so did not get to play with the new toys).

We played that a death allowed you to see two new heroes and pick the one you most wanted to play/most appropriate to the party. We replaced the battle ready Clovis with Klom and the fast moving Nelly with fast searching Arnaud.

A typical game board.

The most recent mission saw us trying to find lots of food, then lock ourselves into a nice safe basement. The new heroes really helped out, but it helped that we'd got a feel of the game now. Lots of organised searching early on made sure we had a ton of equipment, easily enough for us to savage any zombies that came sniffing around. We even flamed a pair of Abominations before game's end, and everyone got out handily. 

Our party is now

We've yet to face any of the expansion Abominations, including ones that can smash through walls. No rush.

Whilst the new necromancers get swapped out to ensure a static amount of cards, the new abominations are to be just added. Gulp. That said the sound advice from the interweb rightly points out that once you've added the deadeye walkers and crows (not yet available), the wolves (not yet added as saving for second campaign) and the NPCs (now in there): that the increase is just proportionate.

I'm not wholly convinced. In the base deck of 100 odd encounters there are eight cards with abominations on, but you have to be at the right danger level to trigger. The new abominations come in on 3 out of 4 of the danger levels. So adding will increase their turning up drastically.

I am going to add one before next game; then one with crows, one once walkers included (the wolves will add their own when they are added).

Black Plague is a good game - easy to learn, pretty fast (two hours tops for a game, roughly) and cheerfully cooperative. 

I'd potentially move the ', roughly' until after the ')'

Massive Darkness has almost the same rules, which I find very encouraging. It adds in a stealth mechanic that replaces the noise mechanic in Black Plague, a Heroquest-style combat dice system and a nifty way of swapping out over-full backpacks for better gear, which is one of the few criticisms I could think to level at Black Plague. 

Although, I think our backpack challenge is in part down to skype and only one of us managing the cards.

We've got more games planned in the future, so I may well get round to a proper battle report eventually!

Yes, as this has lasted a few sessions, I think the next event should have some form of timely and accurate writeup.

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