Sunday, 31 December 2017

The Battle for Christmas

Last post of the year is going to be the promised Frostgrave AAR. It's been my first approach to the game and I've enjoyed it beyond imagination. I wanted to have played it some days ago, but you know what's calendar like these days. Anyway, there we go!

The ruins laid silent, the thin snow shining under the light of dawn, giving the whole view a true magical aspect. Magic would indeed be unleashed in a matter of minutes. Both Wizards felt each other. Close, really close. Father Chistmas and his Elves better run to get as many treasures as they could. The Grinch and his evildoers would do everything in their hand to beat them and avoid them to take the presents for the Children of Men. The Battle for Christmas was about to begin...

The Grinch Warband on the Left. Father Christmas' Warband on the right
Let's see how this goes. My pal will lead Father Christmas (Illusionist) and his merry ransackers while I take command of evil Grinch (Witch) and his green grin henchmen. The Elves have a bowman, a treasure hunter, a barbarian and thieves; the Gnolls have two bowmen, a templar and thugs. The spells were selected with the characters in mind. For example, Father Christmas has Beauty (you have to be a &%$# bastard if you want to beat Santa, for heaven's sake!) or Furious Quill (seriously, imagine a giant feather tickling the enemies, can you think of anything merrier? Ho ho ho!). The Grinch had Monstrous Form (needless to explain!) or Steal Health (as the Grinch steals joy, life and anything good in Christmas) instead. That kind of stuff helped the game to be more in the 'proper' mood.

I guess that Frostgrave is quite well known by now, so I think I can skip the rules explanation thing (if there's something you want me to explain better, please let me know in the comments!). For the first turn, Father Christmas got the initiative. He and some of his soldiers moved towards the closest treasure...

It's inside the church. Spoiler alert; you see it's half painted/half built. You will see it finished during 2018
So did the Grinch and some Gnolls...
Keep formation!
The Elf Apprentice casts Beauty on herself and more Elves run for the treasures...

Yeah, you run while I think of how beautiful I am
Gnoll Apprentice and his followers move on the other flank
So the first turn was about moving through the ruins and running towards the presents. Second Turn started and soon blood would be shed...

The Grinch throws a Grenade to the Elves (a stone embedded with evil magic)
Kills a thief and hurts the treasure hunter. Glups!
A thing I've liked about Frostgrave is its lethality. Strikes really disable you. That doesn't mean it actually kills you, but at least leaves you out of combat (which is the same in terms of gaming). Not many fantasy games dare to give this approach to its rules.
Meanwhile, a Thug reaches a Treasure
Father Christmas teleports close to more treasures
Rudolph gets the treasure inside the church and the other Elves move against the Gnolls
The Elf apprentice casts a spell sings a magical Carol and a Furious Quill begins to harass the Grinch:
Tickle tickle, ho ho ho!
Nasty Gnolls attack father Christmas!!
Gnoll offensive is not to be taken lightly
Rudolph takes advantage of the mess and drags a treasure towards his lair
The Elf bowman decides to shoot to the Father Christmas melee. Two Gnolls agains his master, what are the odds he accidentally hits his own boss? Well... Let me tell you.

1/3 is enough. The arrow hits the bearded wizard himself. Ouch!
On one side of the board, we have a one-on-one fight over some gifts
On the opposite one, we have the epic clash between the treasure hunter and the templar
A thief tries to sneak out with more presents
General overview of the battlefield by the end of Turn 3
The critical moment arrives...

Father Christmas is taken down by the filthy Gnolls!
Oooops! This may turn the tide of the game. Not only the elves' Wizard is killed, the treasure he was to get is in the power of the enemy!

In addition, the Grinch steals the treasure hunter's health, leaving her dead
A Gnoll takes another treasure...
But not everything are bad news to the Elves!

A critical hit immediately kills the Gnoll thug
And a pinpoint arrow kills the Gnoll Apprentice!
Well, things get interesting! A Gnoll leaves the board with a treasure. There are still 5 on the board. Two of them in the Elves' power (and a third left by Rudolph, so he can finally get into combat) and the other two in possession of the Gnolls.

End of Turn 4. can you spot all the treasures?
So let's go for Turn 5. Initiative is for Father Christmas Warband...
Frenzy Rudolph charges against the murderer of his master
The archer takes down the Elf thief. The treasure falls derelict
On the limits of the board, the Gnoll templar charges the Elf thief
The poor Elf has nothing to do
Neither has the Elf archer, slain with a critical hit
Green grinning hyenas begin to smother the Apprentice
At the beginning of next turn, the Grinch uses his magic to leap...

...and support his minion against Rudoplh
No matter how beautiful the Apprentice was, she is ruthlessly dismembered
Well, by now two Gnolls have left the board with treasure and two more are on their way. Father Christmas' Warband is reduced to just poor Rudolph, and things don't look good...

But he decides to give battle till the end. Respect
In fact he delivers a deadly blow to the Grinch himself!
But only to succumb immediately afterwards
The desolation after the battle
So in the end the Gnolls had three treasures out of the board and control over another one, while the Elves hadn't taken any for their profit and the whole Warband had been killed. Ouch. Appaling, I'm afraid. So yes, though the Grinch didn't survive to see his evil deeds fulfiled, the spirit of Christmas has been smashed. Spoiler: That explains why you didn't receive gifts this year and had to buy them yourself. Sorry, my fault.

What can I say, I've enjoyed the game a lot. The alternate activation system works perfectly and gives a lot of thrill; even if you have the initiative this turn, if you don't have a Wizard, your enemy is moving first, that kind of things. The spells were selected with care, trying to fit the characters' traits, and they have given a lot of flavour to the battle.
The game is tremedously agile, and deadly, as I said before! You have to be cautious about your actions, and I think that is what failed to my rival. He didn't make the most of his Wizard, using him mostly as a regular combatant, and the same goes for Rudolph the barbarian, who only used his full potential in the final turns, when all was almost lost. Besides, I have to say my pal had some extrememly awful dice rolls. That didn't help, of course, he jinxed almost all his rolls and had some catastrophic results at crucial moments that in the end turned the tide for the Gnolls.

Anyway, the system works and now we may have to think about a campaign. I'll have a look at the book, as many ideas may fit in this context. New characters and settings. Hmmm....

Until that moment comes, I hope you have the best 2017 ending and of course the best 2018 greeting! Happy new year!!

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Merry Christmas! (Don't trust the pics)

First of all, merry Christmas you all! I hope you enjoy these days with family and friends. If I were to be polite, I would say season greetings, with respect to whatever god/gods/absence of gods/old ones/etc you may want to celebrate. But I'm afraid today is not that day, sorry...

The Grinch does not care of your puny celebrations
This is the second warband for Frostgrave I've been preparing, all around the character of the Grinch, to oppose the Father Christmas warband (or whatever you want to call it!). You may recall I was using this Gnoll Chieftain by Otherworld as the Grinch:
 
You saw this in the other post
Some arrangements later, it looked this way:

You can be no wizard without a hat. It is law
Then I painted it as you saw above. I didn't want it to be too cheesy (despite this whole project calls for it!), as the original mini is indeed intimidating and I had the idea of building a Gnoll warband that could be used out of this silliness.
So the Gnolls! I used the official Frostgrave box. 20 fine plastic minis, full of options. I needed nothing else. I only used greenstuff on the Apprentice...

He had to look like a magic user
A nasty magic user would work
The rest of the warband was easy to assemble, I wanted to keep it simple...

Two archers and a templar. Yes, a Gnoll templar, I'm being innovative here
And thugs
As many thugs as I could bring in
The obscure creature known in the Realm of Men only as the Grinch has lived for many years in the dark ices. Always patient, always resentful against humans. It is said that he took part in the Old War and that he was banished for life. But his hatred is focused not only in the race of Men. He has an enemy of old, the Red Wizard, the Merry Father, his most feared antagonist. As every year, he will come to the abandoned city to plunder its treasures with his filthy Elves. But this year it will be different. This year the Grinch will be waiting for him with his own offspring. He will see his enemy defeated and humiliated when he won't be able to pay his annual tribute to the humans...

The end of Christmas!
Mwahahaha!
So now I have two warbands! Of course I need lots of scenery, I'm on it. But there is one more thing needed for this. Treasures!! I found these beauties from Ristuls Extraordinary Market:

Worth of any dungeon
I didn't add snow effects as I can also use them for other dungeoneering purposes. But I also got these, which are way more seasional...

Christmas presents!
I'm on my way of having it all ready! I hope to play this epic battle in the next days. Since then, my friends, as I said at the beginning... Merry Christmas to you all!

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

'Forbidden Stars' preparations

My plans are always long term plans. I had this game awaiting for too long, but I've finally put my hands on it.

You know, like stars you are not supposed to go to
I'm planning to finally play it next Christmas holidays, so it needed to be painted first (of course it needed to; we try to keep some basic decency at home). It has quite a lot of tokens/minis, but that wasn't to disencourage me; after all we've done worst, haven't we?

There are four factions. Ultramarines, World Eaters, Iyanden Craftworld and Orks. Of course this is a board game, so the sides are really quite symmetrical, nothing too wargame-oriented, with different gaming styles depending on the units you have in your army (Well, it's only a deduction from the content, as I haven't even opened the rulebook, only painted the minis!). You essentially have space ships, Titans and tank/dreadnoughts, plus some pieces I assume must be victory points tokens or something.

Here you have the Ultramarines:

I haven't painted a single BFG ship in years and I suddenly paint a whole fleet!
The same goes for Epic. Three Titans on a row!
Agh, I can't make blue look right in the pics :(
I guess the 'Ultramarines are here' message is clear
OK, let me make a pause at this point. As you can see, the minis look outstanding for a board game. They are indeed close to wargame standard quality. But the question you may be asking right now is 'are they by any chance compatible with the source games?' Well, let's see some comparison shots:

No way you can make it pass for a huge Battle Barge, but maybe a Frigate? Hmmm...
On the other hand, the Land Raider kind of fits in the Epic scale among his cousins
Ahem. Maybe a Knight size?
Well, I think you can make an idea. So let's go on the other factions. Chaos! The World Eaters:

Yet another fleet
Do you know how much do these cost in Forge World? :P
I confess I don't like the 40K equivalent model, but it is what it is
Red & Brass. Pure Chaos essence. Oh, and tentacles, sure
You can see I stayed in the board game vibe, so I went for Team Red and kept it simple.

The same goes for the Eldar from Iyanden...

Yellow. They had to be yellow...
I had a hard time deciding what to do on them and what part would be in what colour
I would definitely sweat if I had to replicate these in 40K scale
Apparently different factions have different number of tokens, but I don't know how these work
Undoubtley the hardest to paint. These may be my first Eldar ever, I don't recall painting space Elves before (Oh! With the exception of some Eldar Harlequins I was commissioned with some years ago!). But I've somehow enjoyed the experience (even with yellow!). Gasp, I hope it doesn't mean I'm about to start a 40K Eldr army!!

Ahem. The Orks:

Oi! Da shipz!
You can guess the Gargants can be more or less used as Stompas in Epic
Vroom vroooom
Orks ar da best!
I also spent some time deciding how to paint these. I wanted to use green to keep them attached to the Space Ludo theme, so I finally did that. I think it works, so it stays so.

But this isn't the end! The game has some objectives you have to control. Here they are:

Hive cities
Mechanicus factories
Military bastions
All the objectives
Well, now this is it! Phew! It's been some weeks work, but I think it's been worth of the effort. My intention is to have a first game in a few weeks, so I'll let you know how it goes!