Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Warlord of Galahir: A Spell in the Clink

Dungeon Saga, Warlord of Galahir - Mission 5: Visiting Time.

Back to jail for this lot. 

A second attempt at freeing the merchant Pietor Grube from his captivity at the paws of the orcs. This time, the heroes are armed with the knowledge of the first three rooms, plus the Dwarf and Gladewalker have levelled up and come with some new and dangerous spells!

Dungeon Saga, Warlord of Galahir - Mission 5: Visiting Time.
We'z waiting for yerz

It is I alone, Kraken, their chronicler, who can tell their tale. Although actually Stylus might chip in a bit too. So I'm not really alone. Or a chronicler, I usually self-identify as an Overlord. So that's good.

I, Stylus, will chip in as required. Albeit rather dry chip.

Dungeon Saga, Warlord of Galahir - Mission 5: Visiting Time.

After getting ambushed and trapped by Mawbeasts and Goblins in the first turn, the heroes are determined not to waste any time on such speedbumps this time out. The dwarf runs round the corner and buffs himself with fury, the Salamander darts off to kill one Mawbeast while the Elf shoots the other one, and the Gladewalker gets out the gate unhindered this time. So far, so good!

We got the Gladewalker off the first tile, which was our principle goal after having him stuck there for most of the last mission.

Dungeon Saga, Warlord of Galahir - Mission 5: Visiting Time.

They pause and take stock, knowing full well a large guard room full of Orcs lies ahead. Do they sidetrack to kill the Goblin guards and steal the potions in that room, or plough on to take out the more dangerous Orcs while they're still at full strength?

Dungeon Saga, Warlord of Galahir - Mission 5: Visiting Time.

No rush to decide, it turns out, as the Salamander fails to open any doors in their next turn. Everyone else shuffles into position and changes their minds about the plan. Although they'd initially decided to go for the nearest Goblin room, the extra turn of movement makes it easy to prepare to blitz the Orcs instead.

Even painted doors are no easier to knock down, it seems.

I play the long game, waiting, quiet and deadly, for them to walk into my trap. Because all my minions are dead again, and there's nothing on the board to use. 

Crack! The Elf kicks in the door, with callous disregard to the stereotypes of Elves as aloof types who dislike brute force. The Gladewalker tangles the nearest Orc up with a spell, the Dwarf buffs himself again and then the Salamander rushes in, ready to take all comers. 

Dungeon Saga, Warlord of Galahir - Mission 5: Visiting Time.

Of which there are a few, as those empty turns of mine netted me a few nice cards. The curious Goblin guards pop out from the next room again, and start poking the Gladewalker with investigative glee. And one of the other Orcs comes and starts hiding the Salamander, wounding him easily.

Yes, we're getting the familiar feeling of having bitten off more than we could chew, just at the moment the Overlord unleashed all of his carefully-husbanded Command Cards...

Dungeon Saga, Warlord of Galahir - Mission 5: Visiting Time.

But I've reckoned without the terrible powers of the Gladewalker's new spell. Malevolence is a very nasty bit of work - everything within short range of the caster takes an automatic wound. And being right in the middle of my counterattack, the Gladewalker is in the perfect place to set off this baby nuke, wounding the Goblin who just stabbed him, setting the two nearest Orcs into their berserk Green Rage state and finally chipping a harmless Goblin Spitter whose only sin was to be born Goblin.

Hey - two missions ago we were killing Orcs in their sleep. There is no moral high ground down here in the depths.

Dungeon Saga, Warlord of Galahir - Mission 5: Visiting Time.
Blam - it's the same picture as last time, with the addition of lots of wound counters for my guys. 

The Elf shoots the wounded Goblin spearman down, after which I decide I'd better play a double interrupt before things get any worse. The Orc Greatax, previously rooted to the spot, jumps forward to doubleteam the Salamander, while the Goblin Spitter runs off towards the exit to get help. Although he also shoots the Salamander in the back as he goes. 

And then the Dwarf heals everybody, using his big healing cloud spell. Hmm.

That little dungeon nook is proving to be a very effective bunker: the Salamander kills at the front, the Elf shoots from the rear, the Dwarf heals everybody and the Gladewalker nukes anything that gets too close. Not wonder our kill tally is going crazy!

Despite my best efforts, the wounded Orcs get beaten up, the Goblins get shot or stabbed, the Dwarf continues to repair all the heroes, and it's no time at all before the last Orc, an archer, is pinned in a corner of the room being stabbed repeatedly in the back by all the so-called 'good guys'. 

Dungeon Saga, Warlord of Galahir - Mission 5: Visiting Time.
This is not heroic behaviour.

Having butchered the guards, the heroes take it easy for a couple of turns, looting the place. There's a mysterious door in the Goblin room, that could only lead to a single square, and Stylus suspects this could hold the merchant.

A door that can only lead to a single-square room? It must be a cell - you can't fool me.

Nope - it's a fake door set to waste their time. Job done, door! You can die happy.

Oh. You can fool me.

Dungeon Saga, Warlord of Galahir - Mission 5: Visiting Time.

The Elf reverts to type and fails to open the chest, but by now the Dwarf has healed everyone back up to full by using Energy Crystals to recharge his spells early. The Gladewalker roots around (ha!) on the tables to find a handy key, although it's a bonus key for the next level rather than anything to be used here. 

Dungeon Saga, Warlord of Galahir - Mission 5: Visiting Time.

Finally, they get round to kicking in the next doors, There's a little antechamber with some guards, but the Gladewalker and Salamander make short work of them. And through the doors beyond that?

Even as the Elf finally gets the chest open, their torchlight falls on the bedraggled form of Pieter Grube, merchant and plot device, as he huddles in the corner of his cell...

Dungeon Saga, Warlord of Galahir - Mission 5: Visiting Time.
Our mission is complete!

A room with nine squares? Where were they holding him, a squash court? Proper cells should have a footage no greater that one square, and preferably be behind that door I opened erroneously.

Dungeon Saga, Warlord of Galahir - Mission 5: Visiting Time.
What mission? I found stuff in a box, though.

Back at the tavern

That seemed to go much more like I expected it to. That new Malevolence spell made short work of the Orcs. Indeed, it's a tremendously powerful spell against them. Previously, you need to guarantee two hits on them in a single turn to kill them, no small feat given their high stats. Instantly chipping one off with an early druid strike makes it much easier for another hero to finish them. 

Short ranged, yes, and totally useless against the Undead. Possibly a little unbalanced here? I don't know - it makes the Gladewalker an offensive powerhouse, as opposed to the short ranged and defensive version of the hero in the original rules. And anything that does automatic wounds it always pretty badass.

I'd go further than a 'little unbalanced' and say it it completely overpowered for Dungeon Saga. In all the missions we've played, the minions tend to rely on a) high armour, b) swarming with weight of numbers or c) multiple wounds - and this counters them all. Once we'd realised its potential, coupled with the ability to recharge them with crystals and cast it every turn, our party fell into a pattern of: nuke > mop-up > heal > repeat. This is not the stuff that nail-biting quests are made of.

It's also a more exciting and interesting spell to use. In a tight space like this one, packed with baddies, it's a great spell to have, and helped the heroes sweep through with ease. 

Yes, this dungeon was a breeze - not only because of the new spells, but we had foreknowledge of the layout and I happened to roll exceptionally well (for a pleasant change). The greenskins make for good antagonists (although the Mawbeasts and Orclings often prove the trickier prospects), but it would be nice to have a bit more challenge.

For one thing, I think the Overlord should have control over when they open doors (rather than relying on a sole card) - that would add some unpredictability. Being able to switch around where the minions are when you repeat a dungeon mission could also avoid making things too easy.

I guess this type of game doesn't have to be exactly 50/50, and it's okay to be weighted in favour of completing the level, but the last few games have fallen short of even the 'beer & pretzels'* level of passing the time and the fault lies, not in our stars, nor our Overlord, but some half-arsed game design by Mantic.

*Not that I drink beer when gaming. I have a nice Ovaltine.

And some housekeeping - we made out like bandits in this level, racking up the kills while filling our pockets with potions:
  • Katooka (Gladewalker): 0 kill + 1 exp + Haste Potion
  • Hrrath (Salamander): 4 kills + 3 exp
  • Thessilar (Elf): 2 kills + 3 exp + 1 Healing Potion + 3 Battle Potions
  • Turaf (Dwarf): 4 kills + 2 exp + 1 Healing Potion + I Battle Potion

Only one mission left - babysitting Grube whilst taking on the Warlord himself!

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