Saturday, February 27, 2016

You wanna piece o' me?!

The pirate game continues.

The crew: 
Jon Mark (Mr. Pendleton), Terry (Captain Beefheart), Ken (Mr. Stephens), Bill (Mr. Harrison), Tommy (Isabella) and Tim (the natives).

The hook:  
Dawn faintly lit the otherwise peaceful horizon.  The peace of the moment was suddenly broken by the Bosun's loud bellow of "Where's the Cap'n?!"

"Where's Isabella?" chimed in Mr. Pendleton.  "She's supposed to have watch duty this mornin'!"

"Where's Mr.Stevens?" puzzled Mr. Harrison.  "He said to bring my money 'cuz he'd teach me how to play knucklebones this morn."

The cry went up aboard The Skidmark as the search for their missing crew mates (and Captain) continued.  They were simply gone...vanished from their berths.  The captain's cabin looked like there had been some sort of altercation, but nobody had seen or heard anything during the night.  

Now, with the night's watch ready to be flogged for falling asleep at their posts and the rest of the crew warily eyeing the Royal Marines for signs of mutiny, the faint sound of drums can be heard from the island.  

Why had the Captain order his ship so close to the island?  Sure, the deep bay offered a wonderful shield from the odd and often random weather patterns of the archipelago, but it seems that the island wasn't uninhabited...
The plot:
The captain, Isabella and Stephens were indeed spirited away from The Skidmark by natives...native cannibals!  With the crew skittish and wary, the bosun stayed on board while Mr. Harrison and Mr. Pendleton ventured onto the island to see what the drums indicated.  Unbeknownst to them, a small group of natives, intent on rescuing one of their own captured men, was also closing in on the cannibals.  Will their combined might be able to save the captives, or will there be fresh meat in the stew tonight?

The game:
GM's note-  In my mind, this game would've unfolded like this:  Isabella is close to being cannibalized while the captain and Stephens watch in horror, when out of the jungle comes Harrison and Pendleton, pistols blazing.  At nearly the same time, the natives swoop in from the opposite direction, causing further chaos.  A fight ensues, the cage is opened and the good guys win.  There's more to it than that, but you get the point.  I also wanted to use both Quality checks and Swashbuckling rolls in this scenario, as we've mainly bypassed that element in this campaign.  I wanted to see how well it worked as a vehicle for plot development.  Here's what happened...

Captain Beefheart, Mr. Stephens and Isabella wake up to find themselves in a bad spot.  The men are locked in a large metal cage, while Isabella is lashed to a pole in the middle of a clearing.  As their heads clear, they notice several things.  First, they are in a primitive village of some sort.  Next, the village is populated by pygmies wielding short spears...and they don't look friendly.  Third, there's another captive in the cage, but he's not a pygmy and he looks terrified. Also, there's a rather large native (again, not a pygmy) standing on an old statue of some forgotten god, staring at Isabella.  Finally, there's a pygmy in a ceremonial mask (a Witch Doctor?) standing front of a bloody altar, complete with dissected corpse. 

Just as the mental mists begin to clear, the 'Chief' began talking to Isabella in island patois.  He asked her where Captain Bonefist is and why she was on a different ship.  She was still too groggy to form a culpable lie and informed the Chief that she was no longer part of Bonefist's crew.  The Chief laughed maliciously and nodded to the masked pygmy to begin his ceremony.  

Meanwhile, Beefheart and Stephens gave a thorough look at their prison.  It seemed hopeless, as they had been stripped of pretty much anything that would've helped them escape.  After grilling their native cell-mate, they learned that their weapons were being stored in a hut not too far from their jail.  All that remained was how to get free and get their weapons...
The crew watched as the Witch Doctor presented some of the pygmies with pieces of the unfortunate soul on the altar that were then thrown into the bubbling cauldron.  
Isabella was untied and led to the altar to suffer the same fate.  She struggled mightily against her captor, making him trip and allowing her to slip her bonds!  Free at last, she scrambled for a spear and dashed toward the cell.  The Witch Doctor, ever vigilant and somewhat antsy, left his altar and tried repeatedly to stop Isabella with mystical incantations, but to no effect.  Despite his failures, Isabella's freedom was short-lived.  She was eventually ganged up on, knocked over, pummeled and bound again. 

Isabella, captured

Isabella, free!
No voodoo for you!
Isabella, recaptured
While all this was happening, several things were afoot.  First, Pendleton and Harrison had taken a circuitous route to the back of the statue and prepared to take on the Chief and his guard.  Second, Beefheart and Stephens distracted their guard with various displays of...ingenuity...while Isabella tried to escape.  Finally, the natives finally arrived on the scene, but took a very indirect approach toward the cage and their tribesman.
Events unfolded quickly after that.  On the far side of the clearing, Pendleton and Harrison got into a scrum with the Chief and his guard.  During this exchange, Pendleton was knocked out of action, but Harrison was able to reload fast enough to shoot both enemies.

In front of the cage, Isabella was once again able to get free from her captor, snag a spear and get into the hut where the crew's stolen weapons were located.  She killed the guard in the hut, grabbed everyone's gear and headed back into the fray.  She began firing and advancing when she was hit from behind and almost knocked down by Timba, leader of the native 'rescuers'.  

Indeed, the natives had chosen that particular moment to appear from the dense jungle.  Not knowing what was going on, they attacked the pygmies.  Timba was killed quickly and the rest of his men were either killed or forced to retreat in short order. 

Finally, when things looked like they were going against the crew, their fortunes reversed.  With the death of the Chief, the rest of the pygmies ran, morale temporarily broken.  The Witch Doctor, perhaps afraid for his own life or more likely sensing that retreat was the correct way to stay alive, fled.

The final native, in a fit of sheer bravery, returned to the cell and freed the captives.  The captain and Stephens rushed to a beleaguered Isabella's side, armed themselves and commenced to waylay the remaining pygmies.  A couple escaped into the jungle and the crew was reunited in victory! 

While not the most exciting adventure in the campaign, it was still fun.  Of course, the company, crack corn and cool libations help immensely!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Blood Bowl preseason, game 2

For part 1, please refer to my previous entry, aptly labeled "game 1".

Game 2 pitted Terry's Fingolfin Thorons Wood Elves against the Orcland Raiders.  I borrowed the Orcs from Jon Mark, as my humans were being used by Timmy.

It was a game of speed vs brute force.  How would it turn out?

Gondolin Grove, home of the Fingolfin Thorons

Thorons sideline

The coin toss saw the Raiders getting the ball first.  Both sides set up in the 'wedge' formation and prepared for what lay ahead.

The Raiders took the ball to the right, trying to press the flank.  Unfortunately, the linemen, Black Orcs and blitzers couldn't keep the elusive Thorons on the ground, which curtailed the Raiders' efforts.

Heading right...

...right into a mess!
Then it happened:  A fumble!  Unable to stop the fleet-footed Elves, the Orcs could only watch as the ball was picked up and thrown beautifully down field on a long pass.  Knowing they couldn't catch the receiver making his way to the end zone, the Raiders instead focused on what they do best:  Knocking their opponents in the dirt!

Yeah, there's no catching that guy!

Touchdown, Thorons!
With a couple of turns in the first half to go, the score was 1-0 for the home team.  The squads set up for another kick off by the Thorons.  This time, the Raiders set up in a more solid formation, while the Thorons crowded the line.

Orcs receiving
The ball bounced into the end zone, so the Raiders gave it to their "Thrower" (it truly is a relative term with the Orcs).  Knowing the speed of the Elves, especially around the ends, he backpedaled a few feet and let the crush of bodies on the scrimmage line take shape.

'ere we go!
As expected, the Elves closed like sharks to blood in the water.

Hemmed in...
With barely any time left, the Raiders, realizing they weren't going to score this half and that the Elves would get the ball first in the second half, tried to bring the pain.  This worked with limited success.

End of the first half:  Thorons 1, Raiders 0.

The second half saw the Thorons get the ball deep in their back field.  Their player calmly waited for his receiver to get open, but this proved more difficult than expected.  The Raiders were blasting Thorons left and right, keeping the Elves from executing their play.

Bringin' the pain!
Finally, one Thoron got free.  The pass was up, the catch was good.  Then it happened...a hit by a blitzing Raider into the Thoron blocker blasted him into the runner.  The ball and player were driven into the stands.  The player was carted off to the locker room, bleeding from his pointy ears.  The ball was thrown back into the pitch...into the vicinity of a Raiders lineman!

Aerial view, courtesy of DGC (Dwarf Gyrocopter Camera)

Thrower pushed out of bounds...

He scooped up the ball and in an uncommon bout of wisdom and physical aptitude, threw the ball at a wide open player down field!  Even more shocking, the receiving Raider caught it and galumphed in for a touchdown!  In the waning seconds of the second half, the score was tied!

End of period.  Overtime!
It was late and Terry had to go home, but we couldn't end the night in a tie!  A die toss later and The home team came away with a Pyrrhic overtime "win".

Great game and one that really taught me about the strengths and weaknesses of both teams.

Blood Bowl pre-season game 1

The gang this week was Terry, Jon Mark, Bill, Tommy, Timmy (new to us and Tommy's brother) and myself.

I'd given the crew the choice of either playing Blood Bowl or continuing our Dungeons and Dragons Fantasy Board Game campaign.  The group's size (six) actually dictated the evening's festivities.

It had been a while since we last played Blood Bowl (BB from here on out), so we had a bit of a learning curve and leaned on Jon Mark's memory to get us going.  We had three games running concurrently:  Jon Mark's Chaos team (Lost Angels Rams) vs Bill's Wood Elves (Kandarian City Chieftains), Terry's Wood Elves (Fingolfin Thorons) vs Jon Mark's Orcland Raiders team (I played them) and Tommy (New Order Saints) vs Timmy (Webb Stadt Kardinäles) in an all-human scrum. 

Three games starting!
My wife graciously made Crack Corn, thus appeasing the hungry masses!

All behold the Crack Corn!

This blog post will be a little different, as Jon Mark has graciously written his own after-action report of his game with Bill.  With so much to report, I'll break the night's festivities into two different postings.

WARNING:  This is picture intensive!!!

So, without further ado...

Lost Angels Rams logo
"It is a be-a-u-tiful day in Spearhead Stadium as the Kandarian City Chieftains take on the Lost Angels Rams!" - Bob Grisley.

Bill prepping his team for kickoff

Bill received the opening kickoff and was moving the ball until he ran into a wall of Beastmen. His Wardancer got hit and fumbled the ball while attempting a dodge.

The pitch is getting dangerous...

Wardancer dancing
The Rams, who were more intent on doing as much damage to the Elves as physically possible, realized that the ball was loose and they could actually score for once. Faulkenhoof, one of the Beastmen, picked up the ball and started moving his hooves as fast as possible, picked up some blockers and headed to the end zone.

Faulkenhoof's got a convoy...

Stumblin', bumblin'...
Score!  Excessive celebration?

It was a frightening sight to behold as the minions of Chaos rolled through the Elves! It has to be said that the Chieftains put up a valiant effort to try to stop the Rams from scoring, but momentum (and die rolls) were against them on this drive. Score - Rams 1-Chieftains 0 with 3 turns left in the half.

The ensuing kick was short and the Chieftains found themselves in great field position. A well ran route (clutch dodge rolls) by the Elven catcher had him well behind the Rams defense, who again, couldn't care less about where the ball was. The catcher made his break and overran the spot where his thrower was aiming. A fantastic pass was launched and the ball landed 2 squares behind the receiver.

Eldrid Blitzwind winds back and chucks it...

The Chieftains have one more turn to get the ball and score. This is where things got brutal as the Rams started inflicting heavy damage! The beatings seemed to gone on and on, several Elves had to be carted off the field and taken to the infirmary.

Bleeding Elves...literally.
On their last turn, the Elven catcher picked up the ball and sprinted toward the end zone only to run out of movement one square from pay dirt!


The second half started with the Rams receiving the ball and the Chieftains barely able to field a team.

The Elves are hurting!
The Rams moved the ball down the pitch and scored, but not before losing a Chaos Warrior. Those pointy-eared devils are tough and fast! Score - Rams 2-Chieftains 0.

Rams with the ball!
Nasty scrum!  Bye bye Chaos Warrior!
2-0, Rams

At this point things got exciting! The ball landed in the Chieftains end zone on the kickoff. Coach Bill masterfully positioned the remaining players in a run and gun formation. With little time left, he had to pick up the ball, move his thrower into position and pray that his healthy Wardancer could get free. Momentum shined on the Elves as the play evolved, but time was dangerously close to running out. The Wardancer leaped and twisted through hoards of the enemy and the thrower lined up for a last second long bomb pass. All the odds were against Coach Bill (he needed to roll a 5 or 6 on every skill check), but nobody told him that! The thrower heaved the ball in a perfect spiral and hit the receiver right in the hands. Alas, the Elves could not capitalize as they ran out of movement. Final Score: Rams 2 - Chieftains 0.

Thank you, Jon Mark, for that scintillating account!

Stay tuned for highlights from Game 2!