Monday, 4 May 2015

Amera: the Terrace

Introduction

I managed to play a couple of games today with my sons, whilst the visiting relatives were out shopping in the big city.  To tease: I'll have reports of a small All Things Zombie game and a larger SAGA battle some time soon - but not today!  Instead, now is the time for description of another vac-formed terrain piece from Amera.  So, what have we got here?

F207 Terrace Ruins

F207 Terrace Ruins is the smallest of the various Amera terrain pieces that I've bought so far; excluding the rim at the base it measures just about 15cm (6") square.  It comprises a series of wide, shallow steps leading into a building with low walls and a sunken floor.  The building has a step up to a small back door, or maybe it's the start of a further staircase, or a fallen block across a passageway...

This was a very simple piece to finish.  I've followed my normal method for "ruins", though it probably takes longer to describe than it does to paint:

  • Trim the base to produce a slightly less regular outline than the model had before.
  • Coat the rim with tacky glue and sprinkle with grit and sand.  Do the same for a few patches inside the ruin where dirt has accumulated.
  • Undercoat with grey car paint.
  • Wash the stonework with black.
  • Drybrush the edges of the stonework with pale grey.
  • Paint the dirt with a middle brown - I used DecoArt "cocoa".
  • Highlight the dirt with tan, then again with "antique white" ( a pale tan).
  • Stick some clump foliage and static grass to the model, concentrating on the rim and on the joints between the flagstones.


I thought that the terrace looked a little bland even after this, so I added one last touch.  I found some pictures of Roman mosaic floors from the internet and printed one of them out (at a size of 3" x 2", from memory).  I then tore this into fragments and used some of them to decorate the sunken part of the building.  Obviously this was a high-status building before it was ruined!

Conclusion

The Terrace Ruins is a strange piece of terrain.  On the face of it, it doesn't look to me to be particularly ruined.  Apart from a single block of masonry, the walls and floor slabs seem as if they might have been designed to be as they are now, though for what purpose?  I suppose that there might be other blocks missing; they might have been carted away by locals to use as an easy supply of building materials rather than left lying about.  We'll never know...

Even if the walls were higher before being ruined, I still cannot quite work out what the sunken "room" might have been.  It seems odd to climb the terrace steps only to then descend into the building.  I don't quite see the point of this.  Mind you, the lowered area would make a brilliant water feature if filled with some suitable clear compound (see my earlier ruined bathhouse for a similar concept).  If converted in this way, the steps down into the terrace building would make a bit more sense, I think.  Perhaps this was a reservoir or the rather fancy head of a spring or well?

Or maybe I'm over-thinking this; at just £3 this is cheap terrain and I should just accept it as such!  I'll most certainly use it for my Greek Myth games, as well as any other genres which require some ruins of antiquity for the opponents to fight across.  Maybe some pulp archaeologist could lead an expedition to figure out what was the purpose of this building?

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Sky Pirates!

Introduction

It's been another very mixed week, with not enough time and too much to do.  Nevertheless, I've managed to finish a number of small side-projects (and therefore I have a good supply of quirky models to show over the next few weeks!).  The big news in our household is that we're expecting my sister-in-law and her husband to visit for a few days, so this article will be a bit rushed and my next post might be slightly delayed.

On with the show...

Sky Pirates

Some time ago, I bought a "lucky bag" of pulp figures from the brilliant Artizan Designs range, as sold by North Star.  Most of these just went into storage for later consideration (why do we do that?!), but some models have been slowly painted up as I've remembered about them and felt the urge.

In that vein, here are 3 Sky Pirates.  They're airmen from the 1920's through to perhaps the 1940s, when flying was (just) practical but was still a romantic adventure.  I suppose that they fill the niche that highwayman did for stagecoaches, or pirates did for ships - at least in pulp adventures.

Each of these guys has a patch on the right shoulder of his jacket.  I've attempted to paint these with a skull and crossbones (not very original, I know), but such small insignia are at the limits of my ability and I don't think the result is all I would have desired.

The pirates are heavily armed: all have pistols and plenty of ammunition pouches in addition to their submachine gun or rifle.

Fierrali, Marco and Piccolo
You can have bonus points (and my admiration) if you can tell me what is the inspiration for the names that I've given to these bandits.  Without googling it, of course - that would be cheating!

I'm not sure when I'll use these models, though a vague plan is forming that involves Tarzan and his apes, Captain Colquhoun (the famous pilot) and some Nazis (sinister leader, stooges and experimental panzerbots).  Add in the Sky Pirates and anything could happen!

Monday, 27 April 2015

Medea, the Sorceress

Introduction

I missed my normal Sunday posting yesterday.  Well, I say that it's "normal", but the truth of it is that I probably post on a Monday or Tuesday more often than I make the Sunday deadline.

Anyway, I have a valid excuse this time: I spent pretty much all of Sunday chaperoning my second son to the Scottish Junior Chess "MegaFinal" in Airdrie.  Despite its name, this is effectively the first serious round of the competition for those that qualify from school chess clubs.  Winners from the megafinal then go on to a "GigaFinal" in northern England and, if they win that, to a UK "TeraFinal" (?).  Anyway, my boy won 1, drew 1 and lost 4 of 6 matches, so he won't be progressing further this time.  Still, we enjoyed the day out.

So, limited time this evening - what to show?

Medea

Here's another piece of 7th Voyage goodness that I've just completed.  This time it's Medea, the sorceress.

When Jason and the Argonauts reached Colchis on the final leg of their search for the golden fleece, the sorcerer king Aeëtes was suspicious of the strangers and rejected their requests.  However, his daughter Medea fell in love with Jason and used her own magical powers to assist the adventurers in stealing the fleece and escaping.  It all ended very unhappily: she killed her young brother and threw bits of his body overboard to delay the pursuing Colchian ships.  This, together with an escalating series of murders caused Jason and Medea to be cursed by the gods and each to die unhappily and alone.

 

My Medea is a Foundry 28mm figure.  Technically, this is a model of the goddess Hera from one of their Greek Mythology packs, but she looks like a sorceress to me.  Medea holds a mirror in one hand and a short rod or wand in the other.  I've tried to paint her wand as if it were made of marble and tipped at each end with bronze.  As befits her royal status, her dress is a rich red, edged with white and gold.  She also wears a tiara.  Altogether she exudes power and I wouldn't want her to be angry with me!


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

If you go down to the woods today...

Introduction

Today it's time to show another 28mm 7th Voyage cast from Greek Mythology.  They're freshly finished, having been given their coat of varnish this morning before I went to work.  The warm, dry, summer-like weather we're experiencing at the moment is exceptionally good for spray paints, so as soon as I've finished writing this I've got some more models to take down to the garage (for undercoat, this time).  Better hurry up, then!

The Dryads


A dryad is a form of ancient nature spirit (or nymph) that is particularly associated with trees.  I believe that the name derives from the Greek word for "oak", though the term is used more generally to mean any tree spirit.  As you can see from the picture, they could take the form of young women (and indeed would sometimes live their lives amongst either humans or gods), but they were shy creatures, rarely encountered by mortals.

These models are made by Foundry and are (oddly enough!) from their "Greek Mythology" range.  4 of the 5 figures are in the process of entering or exiting a tree; they obviously have considerable magical powers!  The 5th is quite separate, though she does still have vines and flowers growing over her.

As always, my models have been given appropriate names from Greek Mythology.

In the 7th Voyage expansion "Myths and Monsters", there are no dryads mentioned by that name.  However, there are Hesperides - a form of nymph who tended the garden at the end of the world.  The garden of the Hesperides is famous mainly because the 11th labour of Heracles was to retrieve the magical golden apples that grew there.

Having looked at the description of Hesperides in 7th Voyage (in particular their seducesacred grove and "relocate from tree to tree" abilities), I think that these models are perfect for that role.  I'll probably call them Dryads, but they're the same creatures no matter what they are called.

The Heavies

In the "Apples of the Hesperides" scenario from Myths and Monsters, it is suggested that the nymphs are backed up by a water elemental from a sacred pool in the garden.  This should give such a group some real hitting power to deal with those heroes who are immune to their seduce powers.  That's a good idea, but I don't have a water elemental model (I've just ordered one today, mind).  However, I do have some leftover models from a bargain set that I bought a while back.


These "tree monsters" come from a Fanticide warband and are therefore made by the excellent Eureka Miniatures of Australia.  They're listed in the catalogue as "Fae Bogies", mind you.  I've mounter mine on 30mm washers; the creatures are bigger than a human but not really massive.  More like saplings, really...

There aren't any stats in 7th Voyage for tree creatures and they don't have any basis in Greek mythology, as far as I know.  However, they seem very much in tune with the spirit of the woods and it wouldn't surprise me if these were trees "animated" by the dryads.  Alternatively, they could be an angrier, less human form of the dryads.  Either way, I'll create some stats for these monsters and use them alongside the rest of the woodland defenders.

Conclusion

This group should provide an interesting challenge for any band of wandering heroes such as my Argonauts.  They're very much a defensive cast, tied to a particular type of terrain (I couldn't imagine them operating in anything other than a forest), but they'll provide strong opposition to anyone who defiles their sacred groves and gardens!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Battle Report: Jason and the Harpies

Introduction

A week ago, I promised that there would be 3 battle reports as a result of a recent all-day gaming session.  The first two have already been published:
Well, it's time for the 3rd (and last) of this group of games.  It's a slightly larger game of 7th Voyage that involves Jason and the Argonauts vs. a flock of Harpies!

The Scenario

The gods have punished King Phineas for some impiety by turning him blind, exiling him and sending harpies to plague him constantly by stealing or fouling his food (wow, these Olympians don't mess about, do they?!)  However a seer has prophesied that the hero Jason has been chosen to end this punishment and drive off the bird-women monsters.  Shame that Jason can't restore Phineas' sight as well...

We're going to play this as an almost-standard Steal mission, straight from the 7th Voyage rulebook.  The main difference is that in our version, Phineas will be the "item" to be fought over, rather than a fabled and magical Gift of the Gods.  Since he is blind, he may only make 1 move per turn (of 6") and then only if he is guided by a rescuer.

Phineas may not be attacked by the harpies because they've been tasked with tormenting him and not slaying him.

The Heroes

The Argonauts entered the table from the southern side in a fairly classical formation, with heavy infantry in the centre and skirmishers on both flanks.

  • Jason the Argonaut (star, in the centre with the blue crest)
  • Meleager (co-star Brother in Arms, back rank, blue armour and bare head)
  • Antigone ("also starring" Amazon, with the long green dress, beside Jason)
  • 5 veterans with shield, armour and spear or sword.
  • 8 psiloi with javelins or bow.

The Harpies

The winged monsters set up in a ring around Phineas, centred on the ruined theatre in the middle of the table.
  • Podarge, "also starring" harpy leader.
  • 9 harpies with a mixture of sword, spear, bow and claws

The Game

Although the table had quite a bit of vegetation on it, the Argonauts decided to march straight up the middle, between the broken columns and towards the theatre.  All of the action would occur in just this quarter of the battlefield.

"Stand aside, please!" called Jason to the harpies.  His men may have felt uneasy at the dark shapes crouched on broken columns and ringing the ragged man who stood alone in the centre of the ruins, but the hero showed no sign that he was perturbed.  "We're just going to collect Phineas and then we'll leave".

The harpies were clearly not impressed by this bravado; they had no intention of giving up their plaything!  Uttering a series of awful screeches, the flock leaped into action.  Some of the monsters took wing and flew overhead to look for an opening, whilst others rushed forwards and attacked the heroes.  Laokoon, taken by surprise at the swiftness of this assault, fell immediately.  Antigone was engaged by Podarge, the leader of the harpies, and immediately took a wound from the terrible creature's attack.

The men struggled to regain their composure, though Antigone the Amazon struck back at the harpy leader and drew blood.  More harpies flew overhead and it looked as if the leaders of the heroes would be swiftly surrounded and cut off from their friends.

On the left flank, psiloi loosed arrows at one of the harpies, but came off worse when one of them was slain by the harpy's return shot.

Quickly, Argonaut reinforcements rushed forwards.  Meleager took some of the pressure off Pheidippides, who had been holding 2 harpies at bay all on his own.  This wasn't without cost, though; Meleager's new opponent promptly injured him.  Apart from this, the tide started to swing, with both Jason and Pheidippides both managing to wound their opposite numbers.  Also, in a bravura show of marksmanship, Phaleros threw a javelin high at one of the flying harpies and pierced the creature's wing.

Almost unnoticed, the 3 psiloi on the right flank ran past the columns and towards Phineas.  Could they get there and rescue him before the harpies could react?

This was the moment that the harpies chose to play a "Weak Spot" event card.  The monster facing Jason struck at him with a blow that was obviously intended to hamstring him.  The clumsy strike missed, but it was obviously a feint as the harpy's next attack struck the hero in the arm and gashed him badly [sometimes this happens - the harpy missed the easy shot at the weak spot but then made the much harder, normal strike!].

The other harpies renewed their assault as well, killing the brave Pheidippides and moving to block the 3 young lads who were attempting to outflank them.  Augeas ran up to assist Phaleros, just as the harpy he had injured landed in front of him, snarling with rage.

For the Argonauts, Amphion (the last hoplite reserve) ran along the line of the columns to try to relieve the pressure on their leaders.  Encouraged by this. Meleager slashed at his opponent and drew blood from the foul monster.

In the chick fight in the centre, Antigone finally saw an opening and stabbed at Podarge.  Stupefied, the harpy felt the spear bite deep; she slid off the Amazon's weapon and fell to the ground, mortally wounded.

At the back, one of the javelinmen distracted the harpy in front of him, whilst his colleague ran past and grabbed the startled Phineas by the elbow.  "Come with me if you want to live!" the lad shouted - but already further harpies were taking to the skies in pursuit.

As Phineas and the psiloi ran and stumbled away from the theatre, the Argonauts struck back with renewed vigour.  Antigone ran to cover the brave lad, whilst both Jason and Augeas slew their opponents.  Another javelin-man ran up behind a third harpy and struck the creature a damaging blow from behind, whilst the Greek archers on the left flank finally achieved a hit on their opposite number.

The harpies gave chase to Phineas and his would-be rescuers, shrieking loudly.  Still, with their leader dead they seemed to be a bit sluggish and not as many of them reacted as before.

Jason now ran to assist the pursued humans, but he was too late.  Antigone spun round and impaled the harpy who was approaching her from behind; she left the creature dying in the dust.  At the same time, the Greek archers scored further hits on the harpy with the bow and killed the monster outright.

This was the final straw for the remaining harpies.  With 5 of their number down, the rest became shaken and most of them fled.  In turn, that meant that the flock was wiped out and all of the remainder also took to their wings and made off.  Jason and the Argonauts were victorious: Phineas was saved!

Conclusion

Although the final tally looks lop-sided (50% of the harpies dead in exchange for 2 hoplites and 2 psiloi), the game felt really close right up to the end.  Casts without some form of star leader are very brittle when they start to take casualties!

The Argonauts' flanking manoeuvre always seemed like a forlorn hope; there were just too many unengaged harpies and they might have been able to block such a move.  Surprisingly, it worked pretty much as intended - perhaps because the monsters just didn't have enough activations to chase the psiloi as well as fight the hoplites.

Could the harpies have made more use of their distinct characteristics (especially flying and screech)?  Possibly they could have used the flying to outnumber and surround the small groups of humans one at a time, but as it was the screeching was very effective in bringing further harpies into the fight.  It really did feel like fighting a flock of enraged birds!

(Wo)man of the match: Antigone, for sure!  She single-handedly slew the harpies' leader and then finished off another monster.  Jason struggled to deal with just one of the creatures and none of the other humans or any of the harpies were particularly distinguished in the fight.  Credit to Agaios, the teenager who ran through the harpies in just a tunic to rescue Phineas, though.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Battle Report: The Hunt for the Calydonian Boar

Introduction

In my last post, I promised that there would be 3 battle reports arising from my Saturday of gaming.  I gave you Robin Hood in "Song of Blades and Heroes" already; this time it's 7th Voyage and a visit to mythical Ancient Greece!

The hunt for the Calydonian Boar is a strange tale from the Olympian age.  Put simply, a monster boar was ravaging the district of Calydon in Aetolia.  The local king sent out a summons for heroes that was answered by many, including the Argonaut Meleager and the huntress Atalanta.  However, some of the others present objected to a woman taking part in a "man's" activity and this dissent spilled over into violence, resulting in a number of deaths.  I'll not reveal the classical ending here - you can do your own research to find out who lived and who died.  However, I will tell you that I believe Meleager fancied Atalanta (he certainly took her side), but she did not return his feelings!

The Hunt for the Calydonian Boar

This will be a standard Slay! mission from the 7th Voyage rulebook.  I've decided on quite a small skirmish, so we're playing it at 100 ratings on each side.  The original boar hunt involved 30 or 40 named heroes, but I'm going to rationalise this by claiming that the other hunters are spread out over a wide area; this scene represents just the climactic moment of the hunt.

The Heroes

  • Meleager, "Brother in Arms" co-star.
  • Atalanta, "Enchanting Beauty" co-star.  She has the magical Horn of the Hunt, which makes her fearsome when it is blown.  This could be used to scare any enemy extras, but importantly it means that she doesn't have to take fear tests herself when approaching the monster.
  • Laokoon and Amphion, veterans with spear, armour and shield
  • Eupythos, psiloi with bow

The Opposition

  • The Calydonian Boar, monstrous beast.  On its own this is worth more than the 2 co-stars; it's really nasty!
  • 4 dissenters (psiloi with javelins).
It might seem odd that the boar is "allied" with men, but in reality they have shared aims (drive off/kill the heroes) and little else in common.  Indeed, I was sorely tempted to make the dissenters subject to the boar's fearsome trait themselves, but in the end decided to avoid such a complication.

The Terrain

This skirmish was fought in a heavily wooded valley with a stream running through it.  Underbrush and trees would prevent movement and provide cover, while the stream could be waded at half speed, or crossed at the fords without penalty.

The Game

The heroes advanced cautiously across the ford.  There was no sign of the monster, though they could glimpse men hiding behind the trees up ahead.  "It's only a pig" said Meleager.  "I don't know why everyone is making such a fuss about this.  Just how fierce could it be?  Yes, I'm sure that it's bigger than average, but the whole "monster" thing is some peasant's exaggeration, if you ask me".

Just then, one of the dissenters jumped out of cover a good javelin's throw away.  "Go back to your cooking and spinning, woman." he shouted.  "We'll kill you if you come any further; you've no business here!"  Atalanta drew an arrow and shot him dead.

Meleager cheered.  "All riiight!" he crowed as he ran forwards to shield Atalanta.  "My turn now, if you please, my lady".  But it was Eupythos who shot dead the next enemy, after the dissenter foolishly peeked out of the tree in which he was hiding.

"Look out!" cried Atalanta, but it was too late.  Amidst a crash of breaking branches, a gigantic pig charged out of the undergrowth straight at the heroes.  It was as large as a horse - not as tall, perhaps, but longer and heavier and it had a wicked set of teeth set in an enormous jaw.  The creature's bull rush bowled Meleager over and he was gored as he fell to the ground.

At the same time, one of the dissenters used Atalanta's distraction to throw a javelin at her.  It hit the woman in the side and caused a painful flesh wound.  [Wow, both co-stars reduced to a single remaining hit in the same turn.  That's not good.].

This seemed like the perfect time for the heroic side to play a "High Drama" event card!  They won the turn's initiative roll by 1 and gained 2 extra Audience Appreciation tokens from the event.

Atalanta scurried backwards, out of javelin range, while Laokoon ran forward to help fight the boar.  While the creature's attention was on the newcomer, Meleager scrambled to his feet again.

Between them, the 2 hunters managed to knock the boar off its feet, at which point Laokoon stabbed it with his spear.  If it bleeds, it can be killed, right?

Atalanta took her revenge on the dissenter who had injured her.  As the man stood still, perhaps as shocked as the heroes by the sight of the monster, she shot him down.

But the beast wasn't finished yet!  It sprang to its feet and delivered terrible wounds to both Laokoon and Meleager.  Laokoon crumpled instantly in a heap, but Meleager swayed and stayed on his feet, pale as a ghost.

"Err, that can't be right.  Meleager should be dead, shouldn't he?" I can hear you all thinking.  Technically he had lost all his hits, but I quickly played a "Taking Your Time" event to draw out his death scene.  Cunning, huh?

Amphion now charged at the boar, but he missed his footing and slipped.  The creature was on him in a flash and had inflicted a mortal bite to the poor veteran.  But Meleager, dazed as he was, took the opportunity to sink his sword into the monster's side [so that's 2 of its 3 hits gone now].

The dying hero sank to the ground as Atalanta blew her horn and ran forwards.  The wounded boar used a "Flee" event card to put some distance between itself and the vengeful huntress, but it was still in bowshot range.  Before it could reach cover, Atalanta had loosed another arrow at it.  3+ to hit, with 1 Audience Appreciation token that I could use to adjust the score - and I rolled a '1'.  Some choice words went through my mind at that moment, I can tell you!

But then I remembered that Atalanta had 1 point of Luck, which could be used to re-roll a single dice once during the game.  If ever there was a time to use a re-roll, this was it!  The re-throw was a '6', so a palpable hit!

Now I just needed to wound the beast, needing a 5+.  OK, so I rolled again: a '4'.  Billions of blistering blue barnacles!!!  Ah, but the Audience Appreciation token could be spent to add +1 to this, even after the roll was made.  Hurrah - the boar was indeed wounded for the 3rd time and with that it expired.  The game was won by the heroic side!

Conclusion

This was an exciting game and went right down to the wire before the heroic side scored a narrow victory.  I did consider using 2 boars on the monster side to make it a rather bigger encounter, but in the end I think it worked well as a small skirmish.

One thing to note about very small skirmishes in 7th Voyage is that the morale tests for Shaken (50% casualties) and Wiped Out (75% casualties) can be devastating, especially as the former can trigger the latter if even a small number of extras flee .  In this game, both sides passed all such tests, but that's not guaranteed.

Good Points

  • The event cards were very characterful and gave some interesting decisions (do I use this card now for a +2 on the next dice roll to keep my hero safe, or do I keep it until I can play it for the printed text?)
  • The range of traits really do make a difference to the way that the extras play, let alone the stars.  I don't think that many men would have charged the monster in this scenario, but my brave veterans with Martial Training did so.

Not so good Points

  • Character design in 7th Voyage (and 7TV too, I imagine) is fiddly and requires much toing and froing in the rulebook.  This would be helped enormously if there was an online tool for building  your stars!
  • I still feel that melee combat is a bit static (I use each action to try to hit, then you hit back with your actions.  Repeat until someone is lucky enough to score damage).  Yes, I know that there are options to push back or knock over an opponent - and we did use these occasionally.  But they are choices and the default choice is usually just to go for a damaging blow instead.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Battle Report: Robin Hood's Escape

Introduction

Today, my friend Steve visited and we spent the entire day gaming.  This doesn't happen very often, usually because of health issues or family needs in one or both of our households, but sometimes we do find a suitable conjunction in our calendars.

Anyway, we played a total of 3 miniatures games: 1 of Song of Blades and Heroes and 2 of 7th Voyage.  All of these will be described in due course.  I finished off the afternoon by introducing Steve to The Awful Green Things from Outer Space, in which I played the Green Things and lost very badly.  Still, I did destroy the crew's robot.

So, back to the first game...

Robin Hood's Escape


After the disaster at the tournament, the captive outlaw Robin Hood was thrown into the dungeons of a small castle to await the king's justice.  Maid Marion has learned of this and has vowed to assist him in escaping.  She has tricked her way past Sir Godfrey, the castellan, and his guards and has managed to open Robin's cell and pass him a sword.  Can the pair now escape to the safety of the outlaws' forest?

The Scenario


Robin and Marion must escape to the edge of the table behind the forest.  To do this, they will need to overcome or evade the guards at the castle and flee before a large relief force of the king's men arrives.  Some help is available though: there are some further outlaws in the forest.

Victory conditions are simple: if both Robin and Marion escape then the outlaws win a major victory; if Robin escapes alone then the outlaws have a minor victory; if Marion escapes but Robin doesn't then the sheriff has a minor victory, while if neither Robin nor Marion escape then the sheriff wins a total victory.

The outlaws take the first turn.

Forces

In the Castle

  • Outlaws: Robin Hood and Maid Marion.  Robin is armed, but doesn't have his bow as that sort of thing isn't stored anywhere near the dungeon.  He can collect a bow as he leaves the castle, though.  Marion has the 'distract' ability (in Song of Blades terms, this is just entangle) to represent the confusion caused by an apparently-loyal subject suddenly exhibiting such rebellious behaviour.
  • Sheriff: Sir Godfrey, 2 men-at-arms, 1 crossbowman.

Reinforcements

  • Outlaws: Little John and 4 merry men.
  • Sheriff: Sheriff of Nottingham, Guy of Gisborne, Sir Walter, 2 crossbowmen, 9 men-at-arms.
The sheriff has a lot more men than the outlaws, but most of them are rabble and are therefore not very good.  His knights are better than the average merry man, though.

The Game

Straight away, Marion told the castellan that she was absolutely not helping Robin Hood to escape, but instead just making a simple visit to enquire after the prisoner's welfare.  In the background, Robin slew one of the guards.

The outlaw chieftain continued his rampage; he charged at the confused knight and ran him through.  However Hodge, the remaining man-at-arms, was a bit quicker on the uptake than his boss had been.  "You bitch!" he shouted at Marion.  "You'll pay for this!".  He stepped forward and smashed Marion to the ground.

Bruised but still defiant, Marion clung to the enraged guard and impeded him enough for Robin to turn and slay him too (gruesome kill).  This was too much for the remaining crossbowman, who half ran and half tumbled down the steps to get away from the victorious outlaw.

The sheriff's column were still marching steadily along the road (I just couldn't get them to move any faster!), though the knights and crossbowmen were running on ahead.  They could see outlaws on the edge of the forest now, even though they were't yet aware of the breakout attempt at the castle.

Thinking that they were safe now, Robin and Marion ran down the steps of the castle.  They hadn't realised that the last remaining guard had stopped nearby.  He fired his crossbow and although the bolt missed, the distraction caused Robin to fall down several steps (ouch!).

Recovering quickly, the master archer loosed an arrow of his own at the troublesome crossbowman and slew him (another gruesome kill, but there were none of the Sheriff's men in range to be bothered by this).

Did the crossbowman die in vain?  Perhaps not, for the delay had allowed the vanguard of the sheriff's column to reach the road junction.  Just as Robin and Marion ran down the path towards their friends, Sir Guy of Gisborne stepped forward from his men to challenge the outlaw!

On the fringes of the forest, Sir Walter held off the merry men by hiding behind a hedge.  The outlaws loosed a few desultory arrows at him, but the knight was untroubled by this.  However, after a few turns, Little John had had enough.  "Sod this!" he exclaimed as he strode forward and felled Sir Walter with a single blow from his staff.

Seeing all the reinforcements coming, Robin and Marion attempted to evade - but Guy was too quick and managed to catch up.  "Coward!  Face me and die!" he shouted at his rival.

A file of soldiers followed the sheriff's orders and engaged Little John in an attempt to isolate and (ultimately) surround him.

As Marion ran past on her way towards the forest, Robin and Guy fenced each other for several turns.  They were evenly matched; neither could land a telling blow on the other.  Sometimes Guy forced Robin to take a step backwards, whilst on other occasions Robin landed a blow that was only deflected by the knight's armour.

All the time, more men-at-arms were arriving, though they were not yet close enough to intervene on Guy's behalf..  Little John attempted to reach his friend, but was constantly engaged by the sheriff's spearmen.

Just short of the forest, the fleeing Maid Marion was intercepted by the Sheriff.  He had been skulking in the background until this point, urging his men forward.  However, when he saw Marion alone in the distance, he caught up and grabbed her by the arm.  "Not so fast, my lady" he said.  "You seem to be running away, but from whom?  What is your part in this affair?"

"Of course I'm escaping, you idiot!" she replied.  "They're fighting back there; I don't want to get hurt!"  The sheriff was distracted momentarily, but he recovered quickly.  "No, I think you're assisting the outlaw, Robin Hood!" he returned.  "You're going to spend a good, long spell in a dungeon.  Let's see if that changes your disrespectful tone" (muah ha ha!)

Just as Guy forced Robin backwards again, one of the merry men loosed another arrow and finally achieved success.  He hit a man at arms who was charging towards him and felled the soldier.  Not only that, it was another gruesome kill, which would mean a morale test for all the sheriff's men that were within 'L' distance.  Fortunately, Guy of Gisborne was fearless, which made him immune to such tests - the rabble soldiers weren't so important.

As if the prospect of the men-at-arms running wasn't bad enough, this single casualty took the sheriff's forces to half strength, which would cause a morale test for all the remainder - including Guy.  But hey - he was Q3+, so I wasn't too worried.  3 dice, needing 3+ on at least one of them?

Predictably, I threw the dice for Guy's morale test and got 2, 2, 2.  He panicked and fled so fast that you couldn't see him for dust.  Most of the remaining soldiers also fled, though the few that lingered were no match for the outlaw heroes (and they knew it).

The sheriff was, surprisingly, unaffected by this rout.  Perhaps he was too far away to see the full extent of the disaster, or perhaps he just expected his minions to let him down like this.  Anyway, he decided to retreat voluntarily.  "This isn't over!" he hissed to Marion.  "Enjoy your life with the outlaws while you can, for it won't be long before they are all destroyed and you can then rot in a dungeon forever!"  With these parting words, he ran off before the triumphant Robin and his men could reach him.

Conclusion

A major victory for the outlaws.  Not only did Robin and Marion escape, but none of the merry men were hurt!  That is to say, none were killed, though both Robin and Marion must have had scrapes, cuts and bruises from their adventures.

As the player of the sheriff's forces, my main consolation is that the evil man didn't kill any of his own men during this game.  I think that's the first time that he hasn't knifed at least one underling who failed him!

So, Song of Blades and Heroes delivers again!  There were some moments of high drama and the game never felt hopeless for either side right up to the end.  Very cinematic.

Having said that, I'm thinking of removing the rabble characteristic from the sheriff's men-at-arms.  It means that he'd have fewer of them, but they wouldn't be quite such pushovers!