Sunday, 31 May 2015

Assassinorum Execution Force, notes on gameplay.

I will elaborate a little further on my experience playing Execution Force last night seeing as there is some interest. First of all, let's take a look at the board and get to know it.

Hello board, how you doin'.

What you see in the picture is the four board sections (three that fit together and a fourth that floats off to the side which needs teleporting to), an event deck, a room deck, the rules, stat cards for the minis of both sides, a few tokens and some dice.

The human players take on the role of four assassins, one from each temple, and the aim of the game is to infiltrate the lair of an infamous Chaos sorcerer and execute him before he can complete a terrifying ritual.

Your guys begin outside the structure represented by the three connected boards. Four of the six entrances will be guarded by a cultist sentry (decided randomly) and all the rooms are blank. After you slip in (through one of the two empty doors) you must get line of sight to unexplored rooms and flip over the room cards from the deck. You are looking for the teleporter that gives access to the sorcerer's ritual chamber and the control panel which is in a separate room.

Each assassin has a stat card which is packed with all the information you need to operate them. Unsurprisingly, the Vindicare is best when shooting from a stationary position and the Eversor excels at melee. The Callidus is sneaky and the most versatile and the Culexus comes into his own when psychic problems arise. A nice touch is the addition of some limited resources such as grenades, frenzon and special ammo. These can be spent during the game to get you out of a fix but are best reserved for use as late as possible!

The game is split into an assassin turn and a Chaos turn. The Chaos forces are not in the same league as the assassins but it is not simply a case of running around rolling twos to slaughter them. It is necessary to plan your advance and your tactics carefully, working as a team by supporting individual assassins and exploring with a degree of foresight.

When a room card is flipped over it will show how many cultists appear and what direction they face. Thereafter they patrol around the board following a number of criss-crossing routes marked by arrows. At junctions the players roll dice to see what paths the cultists take. The Chaos defenders decisions are all decided by either dice rolls or a flow chart printed on the back of the rule book.

Lines of sight and movement both follow straight lines, not diagonals. This and the lack of human agency for the enemy are the most abstract factors of the game, though in reality when you're in the thick of it the overall feel is of a tense, stealthy insertion behind enemy lines, punctuated by short and brutal encounters that can be followed by dangerous periods of frenetic activity as the enemy reacts to your presence. All tied together by a final climactic confrontation!

The best thing about the room cards is that depending on where you are in the complex you draw one, two or three cards and pick the lowest numbered room to encounter. The others go back in the deck. You can use this to your advantage by plunging into the one-room-draw area and hoping for the objectives to appear but the terrain requires much more thought to use effectively. There is also the risk that you don't get both the rooms you need and subsequently get drawn deeper and deeper into the lair searching for the controls, only to have to fight all the way back to the teleporter at the other end.

The little Chaos familiar fellow is used as a turn tracker. The time limit keeps your mind focused and adds an extra element of tension, especially when something goes wrong and things get bogged down for a turn or two.

Combat works on the tried and tested principles that have made 40k such a perennial success. In the assassin turn your guys get to shoot or melee with D6, applying bonuses where applicable, and have to beat the 'resilience' factor of the defenders. There are many special rules that can be brought into play when circumstances allow by a canny player. The Chaos turn then sees the foe (if they survive your onslaught) fight back in the same way.

Cultists feel like an inconvenience and Chaos marines feel like a more worthy foe, while the sorcerer himself is quite the challenge. We lost our poor Callidus along the way, and missed her bitterly in the finale. Fortunately we had carefully hoarded our resources and the sorcerer was slain by the combined efforts of three assassins over two turns.

Hope that has helped better inform the curious amongst you!

Thanks for stopping by!

The man from Del Monte... he say yes!

I played that new Execution force game last night, round a friend's house. It was really good! I don't mean to sound surprised but I've kind of come to terms with not liking the rules output from GW over the last decade or so and just using the minis for other/older versions of the games I play. We both got really wrapped up it in though and loved every minute, can't wait to play it through again, hopefully with one person per assassin to see how that goes.

At £75 it's a little pricey, but board games have evolved so much in recent years that actually, that price is pretty average. If we're going to compare this to board games then really it is having to assemble and paint the miniatures that is the pain in the behind, instead of just snipping them off a sprue.

I'm not one for reviews, as I've stated many times, but I have had plenty to say about certain mistakes I think are being made in the past so I am only too happy to report the fact that something has been done well this time.

EDIT, it didn't take much convincing to expand further on this subject, but it's definitely not a review!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Albion Adventures II, the scenario explained.

This is a nuts and bolts post about the scenario I ran for a bunch of my Oldhammer gaming buddies yesterday.

My intention with most of the Albion scenarios I construct is to take advantage of the player's knowledge of current affairs, politics, religion or some similarly explosive topic and give them every opportunity make jokes about it. The only thing the average British casual gamer loves more than satire is a bit of pun-fu! To that end the obvious choice going into a big game in May so close to the general election was to riff off the silly circus we know and love.

The general background revolved around the election day kerfuffle in a hotly contested constituency. The player's warbands had traveled there to make a bit of coin working as mercenaries ensuring things went 'smoothly' and the electorate voted 'wisely'. The electorate consisted of only one family, the local lighthouse keeper and his kin. This made Beacon Island something of a Rotten Borough, unfortunately all the candidates were thoroughly rotten too and weren't inclined to leave things to chance!

I set up the terrain to take advantage of one of the excellent tables on offer at our venue, the Wargames Foundry. As the Isle of Thanet (particularly the constituency of South Thanet) was such a focal point for the media coverage I set our game on Albion's 'Beacon Island'. The name Thanet likely comes from a Celtic origin meaning bright or fire island, indicating beacons were placed there to help ships.

In real life Thanet, and Essex in general, is at the centre of a new debate about cultural identity. If you know anything about British culture at all you will understand this makes it the perfect target for our irreverent sense of humour!

I met a girl called Janet, she was from the Isle of Thanet, when I mentioned social justice she said why can't we just ban it?

The rivers formed a natural island with a road and a bridge so I set up a polling station and a Slann-gate I had been working on. I made sure the warbands started a good three feet (as the crow flies) from their objective and besides the river I set up a wood, a secret patch of quicksand and a secret patch of magical mist to act as further barriers, so much so that the swift Elves ended up with at least four foot of table to negotiate.

The river was monster-haunted and one of the players nominated a character to be obsessed with slaying large beasties. Setting up possible opportunities like this is a great way of engaging players in other ways that needn't depend on the main objective. Slaying the river monster would be a personal victory. Each of the warbands was deployed close to each other to encourage interference with each other's plans.

I had had the players choose small warbands of 4-6 models in advance using a Facebook event to guide things along, and I made them all characters or at least 'personalities' with names, good wargear and a bit of background. It's much easier to marshall 10 players or more when each of them has only a small unit each and the greater survivability of minis in Warhammer 3e means they can easily last a day of wargaming.

I lined up the candidates...

Lord McCameron the Bastard
Sir Edward Hatband the Betrayer
Nicholas Haystacks the Disappointer
Lord Far Age the Mad Usurper
Lady Pike the Kingmaker

... and dealt out 'election promises' from a deck of treasure cards I borrowed from a board game. I interpreted rules for the items that suited W3e on the fly and the players had to pick a candidate to back, or risk holding out for more and losing the offer altogether. I would've rolled a 50/50 test for each offer whether to withdraw or deal another card but there were no gamblers on the day!

Once the treasure cards were all handed out and allocated each warband got a voter to look after, one of the unfortunate lighthouse keeper's family. Even young Timmy decided to vote and had used ashes from the hearth to simulate stubble!

I calculated that to occupy the players from 11am to 4pm (with a break for lunch and mini shopping) I would hit them with three enemies or obstacles each. How they negotiated the river with its fords, bridge, currents and monster would also play a part in how they progressed. I drew three imaginary lines around the polling booth objective which would trigger encounters when crossed. As each monster popped out it immediately got a topical pun name, I had a few prepared but pretty soon the players were doing it themselves of course!

We had Hatbands unfortunate brother, locked away after a betrayal. There was the Spectre of Northern Independence, the Ghost of True Socialism and the Shy Tory Zombies roused from their slumber. We had the Serpent of Temptation to Vote with your Wallet. There was even the Social Network Troll with its venomous bile! And many, many more...

Eventually, most of the voters made it in time to cast their vote. The halflings voter was sadly killed but one stood on the shoulders of the other and put on the voters clothes... you can guess the rest! That's GMing on the fly for the benefit of the game!

In case you were curious, the Slann-gate was just a cool piece of scenery I wanted to bring along and use and it offered an excuse to have the final round of monsters pop out close to the polling booth.

And the result? A bizarre Albion Independence Party/Democratic Liberals coalition.... it''ll never last, if only because all that yellow and purple is so harsh on the eye!

TL:DR summary. Set up your 'campaigners' about three feet from the polling booth objective and give them a vulnerable civilian voter to protect. Have the candidates offer some tempting wargear to win the campaigners loyalty. Start them close enough to each other to cause friction from the first turn. Hit them with an enemy every foot or so and offer them opportunities to win personal victories along the way. Let them vote and announce the result!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 1 May 2015

Back to my chaotic roots.

I first started blogging as a way of recording my progress for the Realm of Chaos game at Bring Out Your Lead 2013 and after being more involved with playing/painting for D&D lately the time has come to start recording my progress getting ready for BOYL '15.

My new warband, ready for a spritz of matt black!

I'm hoping to find an opponent (or two) for this RoC warband on the Sunday at BOYL. I have games of Warhammer 3e booked for the Friday and Saturday this year and it'd be nice to get some RoC action in on the last day before heading home, laden with lead and tales to tell. There are two more thugs in the mail and another beastman in the FPS which I'll add in. I am choosing members and traits rather than rolling this time so I can use some minis as they are.

I'm also working on a baggage train for my Chaos Army, a much neglected facet of 3e.

Turnip cart from Warbases and a current Steed of Slaanesh.

Re-purposed monks from Gripping Beast, to be used as cultist baggage guards.

That felt like a good start, I've been spending too much time on the Facebook pages and not enough time putting the hairy stick to lead! I will soon have a few more painted bits to put up. Really looking forward to this year!

Thanks for stopping by!