Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dark Alchemy solo campaign

Well, since I bought the Dark Alchemy mini-expansion for Frostgrave, I have to play the campaign at least once, no? Also the board was all set up, as we continued the actual Frostgrave campaign just a day before.

I'm not a big fan of solo wargaming, though. Or who knows, I don't think I've ever actually tried. Only a couple of solo games of A Touch of Evil come to my mind.

So, my initial warband for this three scenario mini campaign was thus:

-Soothsayer Wizard with Staff
Combat Awareness (12), Wizard Eye (8), Will Power (10)

Blinding Light (12), Teleport (12), Fast Act (10)

Push (12), Steal Health (14)

- Apprentice with Staff
- 2x War Hound
- Thief
- 2x Infantryman
- Javelineer
- Captain with leather armor, hand weapon, shield and Furious Attack trick of the trade.

I didn't want to tailor the wizard into beating the campaign too easily. I didn't read the scenario rules (except for the first one before I realised I don't want spoilers), but still picking Teleport as one of my spells seemed a bit cheesy. Perhaps it wouldn't be that bad if I didn't have any proper damage dealing spells? Steal Health is the only spell that deals any damage at all, and it's capped.

Alchemical Monstrosity

In first scenario I chose following party:
- Wizard
- Captain
- Javelineer
- Infantryman

Game started with initiative 10 for my wizard. Javelineer and Infantryman took one flank. Javelineer got sight of Alchemical Monstrosity and lobbed a spear at it. Roll was good, but so was the monstrosity's, too. Captain took another flank, and wizard unsportingly abused Teleport right away and teleported to one of the doors. Roll was 10, so he or she had to Empower it a bit. Alchemical Monstrosity lurches forward to Javelineer.

Then initiative rolls "1".

Angry giant rat appears and attempts to gnaw on my wizard, but wizard rolls 19. Monstrosity, on the other hand, kills Javelineer right away with just one attack. Damn. So much for buying a little extra time.

Infantryman runs to hide in a building, outside of Monstrosity's line of sight. Wizard tests if the door on left would let them out - it didn't. All he or she could do now was to go into contact with one of the treasure tokens nearby.

Next turn initiative is seven. Wizard beats one more rat, and then Alchemical Monstrosity goes after Captain. Captain picks up a treasure and tries to run out of sight.

Now initiative is five. Blech. Alchemical Monstrosity takes a double move to engage Captain, and Wizard beats one more rat. On his or her own turn wizard advances a bit closer to duel of Captain and Monstrosity and tries to cast Combat Awareness, but fails. Infantryman picks up a treasure.

Then it's time for me to finally to get 8+ initiative. Wizard ditches captain all alone when I check Monstrosity's hit points. Brave captain, your sacrifice shall not be forgotten. Monstrosity hits captain for ten points of damage.

I win initiative. Infantryman opens up the escape door. And a miracle happened! Despite being wounded, Captain staves off the Alchemical Monstrosity, dealing in no less than four damage points!

Then it's time for initiative to go to enemies. Giant rat almost ties up the wizard, as it rolls nine, and wizard rolls eight plus fight value. Treasure lowered that by one, so it was a tie. Rats had such a low armour that they died, while wizard took no damage from the simultaneous hit. Monstrosity butchers Captain and moves closer to wizard.

I won last initiative, which ended the game. I carried off two treasures, which incidentally was also the number of survivors.

Warband found 10 gold (nine thanks to Captain), two potions and a magic weapon/armor.

Potions were Potion of Healing and Explosive Cocktail.

Weapon was Staff with +1F modifier. Couldn't have been better!

I got enough experience for one level, which went into improving Push by one.

Skeletal Run

Second scenario started with following party:

Soothsayer with Staff +1F, Potion of Healing and difficulty 11 Push-spell.
Thief with Explosive Cocktail
War Hound

Game started easily enough. First wizard cast Combat Awareness on the Infantryman, and then tried to Push the skeletons a little bit farther. Of course one inch more would have put wizard out of burning reach of the skeletons, but nope. Good thing infantryman was able to force one of them dead. I thought I might as well force combat with wizard against the other skeleton but, well. That wasn't a very clever thing to do. Wizard was down to five hit points remaining. Next turn, though, the skeleton was blown to bits and wizard drank healing potion.

Lots of skeletons spawned at the back end of the board. During my journey there wizard cast Combat Awareness on him- or herself, and thief. Infantryman and thief were carrying treasures.

Skeletons are dying left and right, but then there was this one particular martial artist. It was being engaged by +5(+9 with support) Infantryman, +4(+6 with support) and +3 fight value thief. Now, by then wizard only had eight hit points and infantryman had also taken few stray points in. But still... the skeleton killed infantryman and wizard, and dealt some damage in to thief.

Suddenly I felt far less confident in finishing this scenario with top scores. If I was going to finish it at all, that is. All the skeletons that were shambling at the back edge unanimously decided to come to the board edge my both survivors were attempting to get into and escape.

Thief tried to lob explosive cocktail on a couple of skeletons, but they were burning already and didn't care.

Before I'd get to activate War Hound, at least one skeleton would engage it. Thief looked like he was doomed, no matter what happened.

But as far as the War Hounds in this game go, this one was not an exception. It bit the engaging skeleton in half and sped of the board.

Even thief shaped up and killed a couple of skeletons. If it wasn't for one damn skeleton that spawned exactly where it shouldn't have, I believe thief might have escaped with a treasure.

But as it was, no treasure for me. Also, wizard would start next scenario with only ten hit points. And a smashed leg.

Wizard got 130 experience from kills and spells, and upped fight stat.

Spreading Flames

Last scenario I took wizard, apprentice, infantryman and thug. I didn't quite like the fact that if you're so inclined, you can run off the board on turn one. I guess the point in this scenario is just the amount of personal challenge and risk you're willing to take.

For some reason this was fastest scenario to play. It was a bit anticlimatic, too. On first turn wizard cast teleport to get close to treasure token on the hill. Three other soldiers moved to lure one Fire-Slinger away from guarding the closest treasure. This Fire-Slinger accomplished nothing with it's attack.

Turn 2 wizard moved in contact with treasure and picked it up. The three bravos wrecked Fire-Slinger. Apprentice got Combat Awareness off to infantryman.

The two Fire-Slingers moved to shoot wizard, but didn't do any damage. Last Fire-Slinger entered the smouldering field and would now have sight for my soldiers.

Turn 3 wizard casts Blinding Light on closest Fire-Slinger, and rolls 20 for casting roll. Ha-ha, useless Fire-Slinger. Wizard exits board.

Thug picks up treasure and infantryman enters fight with the Fire-Slinger in the cloud.

Fire-Slingers come to shoot thug, and unfortunately manage to make him wounded. The Fire-Slinger with Blinding Light rolled 20 for Will-test. So much for my moment of triumph.

Turn 4 infantryman finishes a Fire-Slinger, and starts speeding up mid-field. Wounded thug continues to move treasure token, and apprentice valiantly steps between Fire-Slingers and him.

Turn 5 infantryman takes aim at a treasure token at 32" mark. Thug moves. Apprentice enters melee with closest Fire-Slinger, since they're worse fighters than shooters. Or so I thought. The thing butchers my apprentice.

Turn 6 infantryman picks up treasure token. Fire-Slinger shoots thug dead.

Turn 7 infantryman exits board.

Scenario gave 130 experience points. For completeness sake treasures were 30 gold coins and four potions.

Burning batches of ground seemed inconsequential. I rolled one or two for initiative a couple of times, but really they just did nothing. Better system might be that you place additional circular area token instead of moving the original. That way the flames would actually spread, and not just move around.

So. What to say, on the whole? Campaign took around five hours to play, though I did write this report at the same time. First scenario was the most exciting one. Twenty hit points on the Alchemical Monstrosity means that you're not going to one-hit it even with an amazing roll and the playing area was so tiny that you couldn't easily outrun the enemy either.

Second scenario was, uh, I don't know. Maybe I was overconfident there and paid a harsh price for it. I was picking up treasures, which slowed me down. But if one skeleton wouldn't have rolled 18's and 20's many times in quick succession, I'm not sure if there would have been enough challenge in the scenario. Maybe that's the thing, though. So many usually worthless skeletons are bound to roll good one time or another. Their extra burning rule was nice addition. It put some pressure on the warband, as damage was slowly trickling in. Lack of different enemies made the encounters a little boring, though.

Last scenario was lackluster. It needs a loss condition and something extra. Perhaps the flames might really spread, as I proposed earlier. Another "climatic" event comes to mind that if the player didn't kill Alchemical Monstrosity, it bursts from the centre of the board at the start of turn six, or something.

Overall there was very little warband progression. For true solo gaming it was too slow, though I guess three to five levels is a good start for a new warband that has to catch up more experienced warbands a little.

Hunt for the Golem mini campaign could be relatively easily converted into co-op/solo format. It kind of already is. Story there seems a bit goofy. "Now, we both wizards are here to study that arcane marvel, but also we're fighting, because of reasons."


Heck, I wrote this conversion myself in a brief moment of dodging responsibilities. Go and take a look if you're so inclined.

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