Saturday 21 March 2020

Palaeo Diet: Grey Wolves and slimy Trout in Swamp Valley

*Another report on the Grey Wolf clan - last seen dining well on mammoth steaks - by Mark.*

The winter snow has mostly melted, though some renegade areas persist. An advance party of the Grey Wolf clan is on the move. These are the most capable hunters. Their destination is a marshy valley a few days away from the wintering caves. The rest of the clan including women and children, is following a days march behind. The clan will make their summer base here.


For this first game, the party of four hunters (2 spears, 1 club, 1 bow) and a hound (belonging to Blondie, the club-armed team leader) must kill at least 4 bulk before nightfall (8 turns) so there is enough food for the main party when it arrives tomorrow.

Here is the tabletop layout and the starting positions. The tabletop is 900x900mm more or less. There are two areas of bushes (thickets), two hills, three marshy areas, and various patches of residual snow.

Fauna includes a herd of 4 caribou grazing in the table C, and 3 aurochs (+ 2 calves) around the waterhole at R. The caribou are herd grazers. The aurochs are giant grazers except that the calves have a bulk of only 2 and reaction-wise will usually follow their mothers.

The hunting party enters at bottom of shot. Lastly, note the Trout clan scout on the hill at lower R. The Grey Wolf party do not see him, and he slips away unnoticed to report ...


The hunters decided to stalk the caribou herd, because the Old Chief likes toasted caribou brains. Definitely not because no-one fancied going up against aurochs defending their calves.

By the end of Turn 3 one beast has been wounded by an arrow, but the whole herd then stampeded towards the table edge. The hunters are now strung out along the flank of the herd, all tiptoeing (skulking) so as not to spook the caribou again.

In Turn 4 the hunters successfully completed their first kill, spearing the wounded caribou (that’s 2 Bulk in the bag). They also wounded another caribou, but all the beasts then took off at high speed, the hunters trailing behind. During the pursuit, the aurochs bull and a nearby cow (out of shot to the R) stopped grazing to sniff the air, and decided to put a bit more distance between themselves and these fast moving small creatures (hunter activation failures > nearest beasts > “move away” reactions).

The hunters decided to continue following the caribou, hoping to finish off the wounded one ...

This turned out well. On Turn 7 Blondie the team leader was able to skulk right up to the wounded caribou and finish it off. The hunters have now achieved their target of killing 4 Bulk within 8 turns, and can turn their attention to bringing the carcasses into their camp area before nightfall. Don’t want them to fall into the wrong paws overnight.

Speaking of “wrong paws” Blondie’s hound played an inconspicuous part in this hunt. It failed every activation roll with 1 or 2 dice, so spent the entire game either “ambling towards its master” or  “skulking towards the nearest beast”. If it’s thinking about steak for dinner tonight, it’d better think again. You can see it on the oval base, behind the hill, out of harms way.


It is now several weeks after the advance party arrived in Swamp Valley. The snow has melted. The Grey Wolf clan have established their summer camp here, and much hunting and gathering is going on in the hinterland within 1-2 days march.

Unbeknownst to the Grey Wolves, their some-time rivals the Trout Clan still want revenge for that episode last season where Grey Wolf renegades temporarily occupied the empty Trout home caves (see AAR, 4&5 Feb 2019) while the Trouts were all away at a spirit ceremony. And the payback will be audacious. They plan to stampede a herd of Glyptodonts through the Grey Wolf summer camp!

I originally thought of making this a night attack, but the special rules required were too much to face. Anyway, I reasoned, the fear and confusion of a night attack would be overbalanced by the lack of surprise (as the Trouts can only “control” the beasts by fire and howling), and at night more of the Grey Wolf clan would be in camp and able to respond to the attack.

Here’s a photo of the tabletop and set up. The positions of the figures are staged. The Glyptodonts and their Trout drivers will come on in the NW corner of the table with a free Stampede move. All the Grey Wolf figures will start within 1xS of the campfire. Sorry about the campfire representation. I couldn’t find my real campfire.

And here’s a closeup of the Glyptodonts (giant angry armadillos) (giant grazers) and the Trout clan warriors driving them on: 2 x Fire, 2 x Spear, 2 x Club. And all with red hair: how sus is that? The Trout figures are from Pulp Miniatures, the GW are Copplestone. the Glyptodonts are Safari (IIRC) from eBay.

And here is the Grey Wolf camp. Nearly all the folk are away hunting and gathering, the attack has caught the clan by surprise.  The available defenders are the Shaman, 2 x women (1 x Spear, 1 x Club), 1 elderly warrior (club), and 1 boy (Stone thrower, counts as bow). The Grey Wolf women are as capable as the men. Both women, and the boy, have hounds looking to them.

The Glyptodonts stampeded on, their handlers close behind and to the flanks, driving them on with fire and howling.

Turn 1 went through with no surprises. The Glyptodonts thundered on, followed by the Trout clan warriors. The Grey Wolf folk went to action stations, with the Shaman and 1 woman warrior going up the hill, and others taking up defensive positions.

However ... Turn 2 was a little bit more complex. Despite being howled at and and threatened with fire the beasts declined to stampede on, preferring Alarmed and Flee reactions instead. At this point the leading beast was stalked and had a spear thrown at it by the Shaman on the hilltop. Perhaps you’d like to refer to the next photo now ...

The beads show the track taken by the beast as it reacted to successive threats during the overall course of turn 2.  There are six tacks, in order as follows.

1. The beast moved Alarmed in response to Trout warriors howling from its rear.
2. It was pelted by the Shaman on the hill and Moved Away. 
3. It now had (Trout) fire within L and Stampeded right up to the nearest Grey Wolf tent.
4. It was pelted by the woman warrior on the hill and moved away, Alarmed.
5. It now had a GW Hunter within S and Moved away.
6. It now had GW fire within M and Stampeded away to its current position.

This is a record for me. Can anyone beat it?

By the end of Turn 3 the Grey Wolf defenders had turned aside the Glyptodont attack. All the beasts were now heading away from the camp without doing any damage (except for trampling 2 hounds that got in their way). This turned out to be easier than expected. The Grey Wolf folk attacked / pelted the beasts so that when they reacted by retreating, the direction of retreat was away from the camp. It helped that the beasts got a couple of Roar reactions, including reacting to Trout attempts to chivvy them forwards, which led to some Trout folk hastily skulking back.

One other important development in Turn 3 was that the Grey Wolf Shaman, having been forced to skulk off his hilltop perch by a Glyptodont Roar, and with a load of spears in hand, found himself near a Trout warrior. That Trout, at the bottom of the hill, is now dead.

So Turn 4 rolled around and a vicious fight started between the hunters / warriors of the two clans, up the side of the hill. The last photo below shows the final stages. Two Trouts are left alive, both wounded. Two Grey Wolfs are also left*, one wounded. In the end they accounted for both the remaining Trouts.

* there was another GW figure on the table, the “elderly warrior”, hiding in a thicket, but in the excitement of the game I overlooked him until he emerged, looking sheepish, when it was all over. A true survivor.

When it was all over, the Trout clan had lost all the 6 warriors it fielded, and the Grey Wolf clan had lost its Shaman (a grievous loss) one of the women warriors, and all 3 hounds (including 2 squashed by Glyptodonts). Three GW warriors including the boy archer survived, and the campsite was not damaged.

The Glyptodonts wandered off, wondering what the hell that was all about, and vowing never to accept drinks from the Trout clan again.

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