I'm on my bi-annual trip to visit Kuhmo. This time I brought A Touch of Evil with me, as I knew I would be seeing only this friend of mine with whom we're playing Touch of Evil campaign.
And there's really only one Villain you can play against on 23th of December... the Volgovian Nutcracker. Though nowadays you can also play against Krampus, but I haven't printed him yet.
Heroes we had were Inspector Cooke and Isabella von Took. Ah, this Christmas would be a child's play, then, with such an overpowered character as Isabella.
Except Isabella spent two first rounds beaten to the ground with zero investigation points, which are essentially her extra wounds. First culprit was a Stuffed Bear who appeared from Ye Olde Woods and second time it was Toy Soldier. Toy soldier was especially depressing to fight against - Isabella got it to one wound remaining twice during the fight. And yet the combat ended with the toy soldier being at full health.
Inspector Cooke was much more efficient, and was quickly rolling in investigation. But no matter how many investigation points there was - all he could see (though very, very clearly) was their impending doom.
Isabella, by the way, got Devil's Mark mystery card (-1 Honor), which made her rather depraved at her grand total of Honor 1. Cooke bought a Crossbow for himself, but he also got a Devil's Mark (-1 Combat).
None of these setbacks were insurmountable. Biggest problem was the huge map size. Shadowbrook + Echo lake + the Coast had so many corner locations, that a few unfortunate spawnings of Toy Cannons at the Tidewater village caused Shadow Track to fall way too rapidly - and our heroes did not have reliable ways of killing four wound minions, not to mention the difficulty of reaching the Tidewater village in the first place.
Cooke and Isabella tried to trigger Showdown with the Nutcracker, but they didn't even reach that far. Because one evil elder had the "Shadow's Puppet" secret and the Shadow Track was at "1" when we had our chance of starting Showdown. We'd have to kill the 16+ wounded villain with about eight dice worth of attacks in one round or lose. So we didn't start the showdown and hoped for events that raised Shadow Track.
No such events happened, and game was over. Volgovian Nutcracker was victorious. Cooke's and Isabella's corpses were half-chewed and the parts littered all over Ye Olde Woods where villain's lair was.
Well, we took another match against Volgovian Nutcracker right away.
This time heroes were Abigail Sturn and the Scarlet Shadow.
Very early in the game this Mystery card "Ominous overture" was drawn, which is one of the better mystery cards for heroes. It gives a 100% certain investigation point at the start of every Mystery phase. The drawback is that every time a hero rolls "1" for movement, the hero draws a mystery card instead of an event card. But rolling one is not guaranteed.
This game was characterised by the Volgovian Nutcracker developing a growing hunger for human flesh after grinding Cooke and Isabella into bits. At least every other mystery card was the villain killing a town elder. Luckily not every murder attempt was successful or the Shadow Track would have plummeted again uncontrollably.
These unfortunate accidents were pretty much the only occasions that were reducing Shadow Track in this game. When compared to the last game, the Shadow Track was almost as quick as thick maple syrup. This, the ominous overture and a couple of relatively profitable encounters with toy soldiers and cannons gave a pretty good start. Abigail exchanged Book of Town History with Scarlet Shadow's Book of the Occult.
Scarlet Shadow made an early purchase of a Duelling Pistol from Tidewater Village. With seven Fight Dice none of the Nutcracker's heinous villains were much of a threat, though one of the Toy Soldiers fought Scarlet Shadow to a draw. Toy cannons became ridiculously easy after Scarlet Shadow found the Fisherman's net (-1 Fight dice for enemies) - toy cannons were shooting with just one Fight dice from then on. This toy butchering gave the outlaw such amounts of investigation points that he went and bought Silver Bullets for the Duelling Pistol. Eventually he dumped the Book of Town History away and bought an Old Map.
Abigail built up an amazing amount of hit points. She had six or seven. She was also carrying all book items from town items, including the one that gave re-rolls for cunning tests.
Now, I said the Shadow Track was almost immobilised. This means that a nasty amount of Remains-in-Play mystery cards had been drawn. There were a few Orders's Influences and a grand total of +3 Fight dice for the Volgovian Nutcracker. The continual Town Elder killing spree drained all the "I think not!" cards we had, and after that the Shadow Track put up a new dial. We thought we had pretty much already won the game, and we were intentionally stalling a little, trying to get the perfect build-up to start Showdown. This was almost our demise.
Both heroes didn't have any suspicions who was behind the holiday killings - both had so much investigation points that neither would have had any problems at convincing Stephen Hawkings that a malicious toy was slaughtering local people all alone by itself.
But still the Shadow Track somehow fell to space number five and showdown hadn't even started, and we knew there was at least one Shadow's Puppet elder again.
Big fight started at Manor. It must have been some sort of a record that there were only two evil elders. One was +3 wounds, +1 Fight die Darkest Secret villain, and the other one was the Shadow's Puppet.
First round of combat was mildly interesting. Our hunting party was Scarlet Shadow with Sophie and Abigail with Doctor Manning. Sophie would have died right away and Scarlet Shadow would have lost his Fisherman's Net on the first round if it wasn't for the "ignore all wounds dealt in one round with a roll of 3+. Abigail, Scarlet Shadow and Sophie all succeeded in the roll and Doctor Manning didn't even have to roll.
Eight fight dice with each roll of six inflicting two wounds came up as two wounds inflicted on the Volgovian Nutcracker. Two of those dice had been dedicated to the Shadow's Puppet, which wasn't enough even with one re-roll that came from an event card.
Oh well. There was always Abigail's turn. She had nine dice total with re-rolls available to every failed roll. She dedicated two dice for the Shadow's Puppet and the rest to Nutcracker itself. She dealt only something like two damage to the villain, but killed the Puppet.
Second round was a little anti-climatic. Scarlet Shadow dealt nine points of damage and all of Nutcracker's damage was prevented with Knocked Away. Abigail did the last two or three damage points in, and that's it. The clockwork mechanics had fallen silent in the big fight. Nobody had reloaded the Volgovian Nutcracker despite it having eaten around ten persons (town elders and heroes) in both games combined.
Both games were quite random this time around. They had their exciting moments, especially the last one. Still it feels like the first game was a complete facerolling of heroes, while the second run was a peaceful little strolling on a meadow where you accidentally step on a poo, and notice the poo was a sinister and powerful ancient evil that you just happened to squash under your feet.
Villains defeated: Spectral Horseman, Vampire, Siren, Bog Fiend, Volgovian Nutcracker
Villains still to be defeated: 13
Heroes dead: Argot Blackwell, Inspector Cooke, Isabella von Took & Liliana, Lost Soul
Heroes remaining: 20
Stashed investigation: 5