Sunday, 19 March 2017

Dances with Lions

Continuing our predatory fine-tuning, we turned our eyes to one of the scenarios in the Palaeo Diet rule book - Dances with Wolves.

The tribe’s dreamer has dreamed a dream of the most exquisite fruit. Not only that, but his spirit guide has led him to the very spot where it may be found. Unfortunately for the tribe, the fruit tree is at the centre of a territory patrolled by a savage wolf pack.

Set up the table with an important resource in the very centre. Place three to five pack predators 1x Medium distance from the resource and no closer than 1x Short to each other. Hunters may be placed within 1x Long of any board edge. To gather from the resource, hunters must be in base contact with it and spend one action.

The gathering exercise is successful if at least two thirds of the hunting party (rounding down) manage to collect the resource and make it off any table edge. The individual winner will be the first hunter who collects the resource and gets off the table.

JB and I took two hunters each this time, rolling traits for each of them. Rodan was this time, less of a Thinker and far more Hungry. I guess it's hard to think on an empty stomach. Bow was a Tracker, allowing him to move more stealthily without disturbing beasts. Those two are to the right of the picture above.

This time, Urg was lame, being unable to lope because of a gammy leg, while Ogg was a Healer - skilled in patching up fresh wounds, but with only enouch spider webs and fungus for one. So, first come, first serve I suppose. Urg and Ogg can be seen to the right.

Not exactly the best team players, Rodan and Bow did a lot of jumping up and down early one, scaring the lions away from their own approach, and directly towards Ogg and Urg.

 They swiftly made it to the tasty berry bush...

Meanwhile, Ogg was bitten in the leg, and Lame Urg only just missed out on a similar wound. Luckily, Ogg, being a healer, knew a minor flesh wound when he saw one. He skulked away off the the top of a hill and patched him self up with his fungus and webs. First come, first served indeed.

As Bow and Rodan legged it off the table, Urg and Ogg made it to the berry bush and gathered as quickly as they could. Unfortunately for Urg, the lions were still very close and bad activation rolls saw him attacked. This time Ogg was out of supplies, and there was no helping him out.

Ogg did indeed manage to get off the board with his berries, but Urg... well, Urg was lame. And them Urg was bitten. And then the other lions came. Urg fell behind. Urg was left behind. Poor Urg.

And so we tested out the scenario to great satisfaction. There is room for co-operation and room for skulduggery if you are that way inclined. As a tracker, there was never that much doubt that, in this scenario, Bow was going to be the individual winner. But! But, was also ended up with a tribal win, because two thirds of our hunters (actually three quarters) survived the game with their tasty, tasty, berries.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Urg the Hungry, Rodan the Thinker and the survival of the tribe

We sat down to do some fine tuning of the predator mechanics for Palaeo Diet: Eat or be Eaten this week. The first game saw a hunting party of five hunters and a hound trying to secure 6 'bulk' worth of kills in order to feed the tribe. We divided the party between two of us and decided to roll for character traits for one hunter each. 

JB took Bow, the archer, and his trusty hound, Hound. He also had Bow's spear carrying twin brother Rodan. He rolled for Rodan's trait, and discovered that he was a Thinker. Thinkers are useful tribe members and can gift successful activation to other hunters within line of sight.

I took Urg, Ogg and Ferg. Ferg carried fire, while the other two were spearmen. Urg rolled for a trait ant ended up Hungry. Hungry hunters make uncontrolled movement towards wounded models and risk breaking cover completely when the first model on the table is killed.


We deployed with Bow, Hound and Rodan along one edge (the left of the photo above), while Urg and Ogg deployed in the centre of an adjacent board edge (bottom of photo), with Ferg in the corner (off screen to the right). The centre of the table had a herd of grazers - our intended prey - while a pride of lions watched from a nearby hillock, and a bear did something nondescript in the woods.

In the opening couple of turns, we set the pattern that would continue throughout, rolling terribly for activations and spooking the all too timid grazers with every bad roll. While most of the hunters tried to form a perimeter around the goats, Ferg the fire guy loped up the board edge, attempting to start fires to drive the prey back toward the waiting hunters.

An isolated ibex looked like a ready meal for Hound. Unfortunately, Hound rolled no better than the hunters when making its attacks and all the commotion started to attract the unwanted attention of the bear and the lion pride.

Cornered, the wounded goat rams Ogg the Nondescript, catching him off guard and delivering a painfully placed wound.

Meanwhile, bear met hound with (ultimately) predictably bad results for Hound.

Both Hound and the bear received wounds. By this stage, most of the grazers had been wounded once, but the hunters could not land killer blows. Ferg was doing a great job stopping the herd from stampeding off the table, but with every additional wounded beast, the lions crept closer.

In the end, after far too many attempts, our hunting party did manage to kill three of the grazers, but not before the already wounded Hound (savaged by the bear) was trampled under the cloven hoves of stampeding goats. All the fresh blood drew the predators in, but Ferg's timely arrival with his fire was able to shoo away all those pesky carnivores. 

So, in the end, the hunters had one wounded party member, and 8 bulk worth of meet (because why waste good dog meat?) - a secure victory for the tribe!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The mauling of the Frog - Sharp Practice 2

This week, we returned to the semi-wild woodlands of 1750s eastern North America for my second game of Sharp Practice 2, the large scale skirmish game for the black powder period from Too Fat Lardies. The game saw a mixed force of French regulars, Canadian militia and allied Indians (Huron probably, but they never got close enough for me to ask) on the warpath. Their immediate target was a British homestead, part of the fragile network of settlements seeded across the woodlands to start the exploitation of civilising of the New World.

As the photo above shows (taken from the east, looking west), the roguish Captain Hotspur heard of the French threat and hot footed it towards the homestead from the south, leading a column of Inniskilling fusiliers with Indian scouts, while his bookish 2iC, Lt Fitzjames (of the Cherrymount Fitzjames') approached from the east with a second force the same size.

While the French regulars slowly approached the farmstead across the open ground, Hotspur marched his men up a lane between freshly planted hedgerows. Fitzjames' lads forded the river and took up a defensie position behind yet more hedgerows.

Hearing the sound of marching men, the colonials gathered together into a hastily formed militia within the walls of the farmstead itself.

From the woods to the northwest of the farm, Canadians and the Indian allies leaped out of the trees, hooting and howling as they loped towards the fields of ripe grain.

With the approach of the Canadians, the colonial militia ducked inside the blockhouse and proceeded to conduct sporadic and largely ineffective fire through the windows. Hotspur's Mohawk scout sprung up from the wheat fields, only to find themselves the easy target for the Canadians. To the east, Lt Fitzjames reformed his fusiliers into a firing line at the foot of the hill, while his own irregular scouts ran to the top of the wooded slopes and proceeded to fire down on the French column. The French regulars themselves formed into a line, facing up the hill.

Captain Hotspur split his own column of troops, commanding a rear guard at the hedgeline by the block house, while sending the rest forward under Sgt Maguire to aid Fitzjames to the north. The Canadians ran howling into the Mohawk among the grain, tomahawks flying, and made short work of them. Meanwhile, French regulars advanced part way up the hill and presented their muskets in readiness to fire.

Under Lt Fitzjames and Sgts Maguire and Hamill, the Ulster regulars and Indian scouts were keeping up a steady rate of fire against the French Line, slowly whittling it down.

When the French did start to return fire, however, shock quickly began to accumulate on the Inniskillings. The Mohawk among the woods at the crest of the slope managed much better. Back at the farm, the remains of the Canadians approached the block house, but once there, the stress of the skirmish so far began to tell. The men were parched, and responded sluggishly to further orders.

The French allied Indians tried to approach the barn to burn it down and gain some victory points, but some sharp practice from Hotspur and his rear guard inflicted so much shock on them that they became paralyzed and could no longer advance.

As the game finished up, both firing lines of regulars were feeling the weight of accrued casualties, with various groups starting to break formation and pull back. However, Hotspur's rear guard were still unharmed, and Fitzjames' Indian scouts were also almost fresh. With no realistic chance of driving the redcoats from the field and burning down the farm, the Frog conceded defeat and his forces withdrew. 

It was a fun and brutal game with many casualties on both sides. It was also still very much a learning game, so took a while longer than perhaps it should have done as with both got used to the rules. All-in-all, Sharp Practice 2 is a great wee game that will certainly be a regular for us in the future I think. Although if I was smart, I would retire now after two victories. That way I could forever be undefeated!

For the fun of it, below are some close ups taken on the night of my brave, brave, boys and my settlers. All figures are Blue Moon.