Thursday, 19 October 2017

Warlord of Galahir: For Real This Time

Dungeon Saga! It's the final *final* quest for Warlord of Galahir. Somewhat unimpressed by the milk run that was the last mission of the campaign, we asked Kraken to unleash his inner sadist and design us a proper finale that would shed blood and test our mettle.

I didn't realise I had an inner sadist. I thought he was mostly on the outside these days. 

So we bring you the concluding chapter to Warlord of Galahir: the warlord has been slain, and now our heroes must escape the green tide and, not matter how many of them fall, to get the hostage out alive!

So the mission is a straightforward one: navigate through a dungeon and get Pieter Gruber, the soiled merchant we came to rescue, out of the exit door alive. As a twist, the Green Tide rule is in immediate effect - so we'll be facing waves of greenskins coming from our rear and various entry points from the get-go. This exacerbates once we run out of Overlord cards.

This is because I felt I shouldn't go overboard as the Overlord, so in order to activate Green Tide in my turn ahead of time, I need to burn a card to bring in my boyz. 

For the team, it's the usual line-up of Hrrath, Madriga, Katooka and Turaf. We don't have any extra weapons or abilities, because we're off-book here. And we don't have any experience points because we carelessly threw them all away last mission, like mortar boards at an American graduation.

(although Hrrath does have the Warlord of Galahir's magical amulet, which he filched from the corpse last mission and kept for himself - these guys are real heroes).

Escape from Red River

The mission opens into a large chamber with two goblins (swiftly killed) and three possible exits. Like the idiots in every morality tale, we take the path of least resistance and kick down the weakest door.

This reveals a complex network of corridors and we see that we are no longer playing Mantic's 'back of an envelope' style of dungeon design. We take a turn to regroup as the Salamander had to dash back and kill a couple more goblins that were already streaming after us - although we realise that we can't keep delaying to kill pursuers - we need to crack on.

If you're curious, we used Roll20 as our browser-based tabletop for the game. I'd recommend it thoroughly - bit of a learning curve to it, but great functionality once you're there. 

And crack on we do - right into a heap of Orclings. Although they're lurking in the north passageways, we have to get to one of the three doors to the south, and we've experienced too much of their roadblocking nonsense to allow them to live.

Meanwhile, a new entry point for the Green Tide has opened up in the top-left section, and Orcs are starting to come through it. A random goblin archer also manages to put a wound on our merchant.

He's not your merchant. He's ours, and we're having him back dead or alive.

Orclings duly squashed, the Salamander runs over to engage the Orc Morax, only for a second pack of Orclings to appear from the south and block off the merchant - who appears to have been left out in front. There are no safe places in this dungeon.

Meanwhile, the Elf is holding rearguard and plinking off any more goblins who are pursuing us, Legolas-style.

We continue to get stymied in this corridor, mostly because we only have one proper fighter and, when he whiffs his attacks, we all get a bit stuck.

The Morax continues to stand and more goblins are coming. Most of the party is down a wound, but luckily, we've been able to spread them among the group.

The Morax is finally slain, but he's quickly succeeded by an Orc Greatax and we realise we could be all day at this. We decide to break away from our combats, kill those pesky Orclings and make progress to one of the exit doors.

Orclings duly dispatched (it seems only the Salamander, our group's designated fighter, has a problem killing them), the Elf charges forward and kicks down the door. The Dwarf also has a try at another one of the doors, so we don't get stuck with only one exit, but fails miserably.

As the Merchant cowers in an alcove, waiting to be told he can move, the rest of the party break away and start to join up, ready to head out of this maze of corridors.

Oh God, is that another swarm of Orclings waiting for us?

Yup. Meh heh heh. Of the three exits from the first room, you definitely picked the long and wiggly one, and I was very happy at how it played out. I.e. just as frustratingly as I'd hoped, trapped in a stuffy labyrinth full of snickering horrors. 

Time's a -wasting, so we send the Elf streaking down the corridor to kick open the door at the south end (and hope the room contains nothing too formidable - or Orclings).

We hit paydirt! The room is a library, and beyond that is the way out! It also contains two Orcs, and a couple more entry points for the Green Tide, but we can't do much about that. The rest of the party jogs to catch up, and we throw a Hold Fast spell on one of the Orcs, to keep him in place.

(this library also had a large door to the north end, which suspiciously looks like it connects a narrow room to the entrance room - so we could have been here in a few steps, rather than taking the Orcling-infested scenic route)

(Well, yes, but you've only yourselves to blame there. And if there were fewer steps, that's because the doors were bastard hard, with a tiny room full of chests between them. Only one chest contained the correct key - but which? And while you pondered that, you'd be quite near the entry point behind you with nowhere to hide that precious merchant.)

On the Overlord's turn, the one Orc who can move charges forward to thump the Elf - but no! Her rarely-used Nimble skill comes into play and she dodges out of the way, leaping back a square, which unfortunately leaves the Greatax vulnerable to a counterstrike.

And the countersrike comes fast: the Gladewalker teleports himself out of the way, clearing a path for the Salamander to charge down the corridor and kill the Greatax.

The Dwarf is now guarding the rear, and getting threatened by the Morax we left behind, but with judicious use of his area-effect healing spell, we're all still pretty healthy.

(which is a good job, as we drank all our potions in the party after we killed the Orc Warlord - we've been potionless for the entire mission, and it makes it a lot trickier)

We scramble into the penultimate chamber, with the Salmander clobbering the Orc Sneak from behind and blocking up one of the entry ports for the Green Tide.

The Elf dashes in after him and plinks a wound off the newly-arrived Sneak (the arrow somehow navigating its way through the bookcases).

The Dwarf drags the merchant along the corridor and now the Gladewalker, of all people, is holding up the rear.

As we all tumble into the library chamber, the last vestiges of the Green Tide gather around us: a Morax at our rear, a Greatax newly-arrived, the wounded Sneak advancing forward and a couple of Goblin Spitters.

Most of our heroes take a wound, but with one room to go, and the party united, it looking promising.

And so it goes. The adventurers start throwing down a pattern of area effects and buffs that leave the greenskins easy meat for the combat-orientated party members - the Salamander in particular can build up a head of steam when he gets going.

When the dust has settled, the room is cleared (all the orcs and goblins in the screengrab below have been pushed off the board).

As a last-ditch attempt in the Overlord's turn, an Orc Greatax appears. But we can easily Hold Fast the latecomer, so he's not only ineffective, he's blocking the way for any others.

The path is clear to get Gruber out to freedom, and the whole party follows behind, mostly intact for their ordeal.


The Mission, and the Quest, is complete! And so, Overlord Kraken draws back the curtain to reveal the three options for our escape:

  • Right hand route: a troll-guarded corridor that led directly out.
  • Middle route: a small room filled with potion chests that led directly to the library, and then the way out
  • Left hand route: a labyrinth of corridors and goons waiting in ambush, before kicking in a couple of doors to get to the library, and then the way out.
So I'd say we totally chose the more difficult path (suckered by the lure of the weakest door - we're such idiots), but it was by far the most entertaining route.

Potion chests? Why would I put potions in the dummy chests? What is this, Deal or No Deal? 

Back at the Tavern

Well, that was a much better finale to the Warlord of Galahir that the official one, so props to Kraken for writing it. Though we seemed to breeze through at the end, we definitely felt the pressure of time against us, which is the way these dungeons work best.

And as a side-note, I liked the number of weak doors. I'd rather face a roomful of minions than have the entire part stuck behind a 4/4 or 5/5 door, which seem to crop up too often in the book's dungeons.

Agreed. Although I'd also put the weak doors in front of the longest exit path. Even though I scrupulously counted the squares to the exit and worked out the number of turns you'd need to move there unopposed, then added three (I think) to give you a little slack, it did still get tight.

Balance seemed pretty decent. If anything, it was a little underpowered. Top end heroes are very hard to bring down, and I think if I'd got Green Tide reinforcements each turn for free (although it was nice to have a use for the many useless cards I got dealt otherwise), you'd still have made it. Note to self - unleash inner sadist further next time.

It was good having a choice of route through the dungeons, a constant stream of antagonists, and some actual problems to solve. Our lack of potions seems to balance things, since we were already using the Dwarf's healing spell to good effect. 

So it was fun, and it's done. I don't think we'll be racing to face the Tyrant of Halpi any time soon (it took two months just to get this battle report written up - the lure of the Grimdark Future has sucked up a lot of attention). So that's the dungeoneers on ice for a while.

Well, I've got a write-up of Massive Darkness to get round to at some point! So some dungeoneering to cover. But yeah, 40K seems a lot more pressing right now. Interesting, though, that Mantic are still releasing campaign packs for the game, so nice to see it's getting some love over time from someone. Just not us right now!

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