Howdy kittens, cats, and Aquabats!
Just had a great weekend taking a trip down to Novo Yogo to hang with my good friend Delta and the lovely and effervescent Miz G. They were most excellent hosts, and they have my gratitude. It was a GREAT weekend.
Since this is Delta we're talking about, there was indeed gaming, as well as many other most excellent activities which I may expound upon in an addendum, but since this is a gaming blog I shall highlight the games we played.
I suppose I should note that upon picking me up at the Port Authority Delta was kind enough to help me schlep my luggage as we took advantage of the opportunity to visit some of the city's finest nerd haunts, two excellent comic book stores, as well as the narrow, tightly packed, game filled corridors of the Compleat Strategist, which was cool.
MARVEL SUPER HEROES - THUNDER OVER JOTUNHEIM
The gaming aspect of the weekend started with a boom of thunder from the hoary halls of Asgard, as Delta led me through a solo Marvel Superhero's module in the golden haired guise of the Odinson himself, the mighty THOR!
Seeking in the fell land of Jotunheim for the missing Sword of Frey, to gird the forces of Asgard with another weapon against the gathering threat of the Frost Giants who flocked to the banner of the treacherous Loki, the god of thunder didst set out across the blasted landscape of that dark land.
After traveling a day, weary of brow did he lay himself down to slumber, and was met in a dream by the mysterious apparition of Karnilla the Queen of the Norns, who did offer him a boon in exchange for his promise to soundly trounce Loki in her name. Accepting the role of the Lady of Fate's champion, he accepted a lock of her hair as a token.
Thundering forth like … well… thunder upon awakening, the Odinson didst come upon a quartet of foul Frost Giants who had tied a female of their kind to a stone and prepared to slay her. Verily didst the Greatest Son of Asgard layeth down yon smack, and didst he pummelth them aplenty about their misshapen heads.
And lo didst yon maiden joyously thank the Golden Haired one and did she also leadest him to a mysterious hut on the outskirteth of a village of giants, wherein he was led to council with a wise woman under whom the rescued damsel was apprenticed. Verily didst the hag proclaim that the Mighty Odinson may seek beneath the very earth of Jotunheim in some hidden fastness to findest ye dancing sword of Frey wherein the Trickster Loki hadst behidden it. And thence did yon wise witch combust into a cloud of prophetic smoke and vanisheth to the Odinson's visioneth.
Much emboggled, as yon Jotun maid fled the hut, the base trickster Loki didst appear, waxing wroth in his weaselness and seeking to waylay his noble half brother with spells and trickery vile. Thus annoyed a provoked Odinson backhandeth yon ratface twerpeth and fetched he a proper beating upon the treasonous one.
Alas, had yon beatdown occurred outside in view of the giants, the clever one might have been much besmirched in their regard, but yea when the God of Thunder's Asgardian knuckles did vile Loki partake in the manner of a starving man at a great banquet he did hie himself from that place shaking his own bony little fists and vowing to enact surpassing mischief upon his noble half brother.
His regal brow darkened by portents and troubled by ye god of jerks did the Odinson strike forth, clefting yon sky with the thong of Mjolnir the Hammer of Thunder clenched in his fist as he made for the great flaming chasm that splitteth ye breadth of the blighted land of Jotunheim. The thunderous logic of the Mighty One reasoned thus that a chasm may lead underground to the hiding place of the missing sword.
Walking boldly down into the very cleft that split the foul land of giants in twain, did the Odinson findeth a chamber abandoned, what perchance mayhap have held a thrilling encounter had he but chosen a different route at the outset of his adventure. But verily the chamber was empty as the boiling skies above the domain of the giants, and thus did the Mighty Thor step onto a bridge across the boiling river of lava to becross yon chasm.
Lo, when the mighty thonged boots of the Odinson step upon the other side, didst a fell and fiery quartet of magma monsters arise to challenge the god of thunder. While alarm didst disturb the brow of the golden haired son of Asgard, he didst deflect their magmanous hurlings and deflectest their blows with the whirling wall of Uru metal that a wielder of mighty Mjolnir may createstith. Then, as the heat made the sweat embead his godly brow, didst the Odinson pop yon fiery weasels with the hurled hammer of Thunder.
His battle done, the mighty Thor didst clambereth upon the far lip of the chasm, and steppested did he upon the marshy groundeth of yon everburning swamp, wherein the very mud didst burn like kindling in the furnaces of the dwarves.
Whilst he sojourned in the odious expanse of flaming putrescence, did he come upon a strange hut, its very walls builteth of sheets of fire. Much relieved to see an open door, precluding that the Odinson wouldst singe his thunderous knuckles upon having to knock on a door of flame, didst a tongue of fire lick out from the house to burneth ye wandering Asgardian prince. Batting this affront to his unburned state aside with a whirl of Mjolnir did the Champion of Asgard beginneth a fight with a piece of overheated real estate, and didst his hurled assaults with his trusty hammer come to little effect.
Never being one to allow discretion to be the better part of valor, did the Odinson changeth his tactics in a gambit most clever, instead using the mastery of the elements conveyed by his mystic hammer to call down the tears of the storm clouds above, causing them to weep with joy at his upcoming victory as he quenched the flames ensheathing yon hovel and then laying forth the wrecketh upon its tottering walls.
Flush from his triumph over a building, didst the god of thunder wend his way back to the chasm, wherein he saw a giant aflame standing at the prow of a stone boat. The flickering lout didst smile an ingratiating smile and promise yon Asgardian a passage across the expanse of lava.
As the mighty hand of the Odinson stroketh his mighty chin, a bird of flame burst from the lava and cry that the boatsgiant, who was klept by the name of Scrog, was a base liar who schemed to cast the god of thunder headlongeth into yon sizzling abyss when we was not lookingeth.
Twas truly a puzzlement, and one which caused the godly earholes of yon son of Asgard to smolder as the chasm didst as he weighed who may be lying and who may be not telling the truth. Then did the Odinson hie himself to a snapeth decision, wherein yon flaming bird's angle for helping him could not be determined, so didst the mighty one send it screaming upon its way with a toss of Mjolnir.
Boarding the giant's stone lavacraft, did the god of thunder come to rue his choice, as midheim along yon lava floweth did the vile Scgrog smacketh him with his stone pole in foul ambuscade, gloating at the seeming success of his ruse.
But could a giant of flame who would sink to such foul gambits best yon son of Odin.
I say thee NAY!
Verily didst the mighty Thor turn from his seat and tappest in the face the treacherous giant a blow of remonstrance from the enchanted mallet of his birthright. Wailing in brutish despair, base Scgrog was undone and deboated, cast into the very lava he had conspired to betip yon god of thunder athwart. Satisfied that he had made his pointeth, didst the Odinson makest like yon motorboats of Midgard with Mjolnir and power to the other side of the chasm.
Heaving himself upon yon other side, the mighty Thor did find himself in a mist, wherein the towering outlines of four frost giants seekest to findeth him. Two of yon brutes did spotteth ye Odinson, and gave charge, whilst the others did search in vain. Both were laid low by his mystic mallet, and then wisely didst ye god of thunder tiptoeth away in avoidance of ye other two.
Then did the hero of Asgard cometh to a bridge across a great canyon in the rocky abiding place of the lumpen trolls. There by the entry didst he find a weeping giantess, who had been chained thereto.
As he stepped up to rescueth her, did a half dozen trolls leap out to waylay the Odinson. A quick whirl of Mjolnir sent all of them yodeling mournfully to their doom.
The jotun maid lamented her part in baiting any would be rescuers into the troll's terrible trap, and left the golden haired son of Asgard singing of her gratitude.
The mighty Thor did presseth on into the kingdom of the trolls, striding with godly purpose through a cavern carved in the terrible likeness of a the gaping maw of the serpent of Midgard.
Therein, did he findeth the foul king of the trolls holding court over his minions, and thus taking the part of emissary, did the Odinson seek to parley with yon creeps. Frowningly didst the troll king scowl, and vowest didst he that he wouldst not venture to parley with the Asgardians until the mighty one didst show his mettle by besting his champion.
Of course, did the golden haired champion of his own exalted kingdom agree to the hunched monsters terms. Then, from out of the shadows stompeth the worst of trolls, the horrible Ulik, he of the uru forged brass knuckles, and the battle was joined.
Back and forth the titans didst brawleth, but alas did his many travails and the long journey wear the mighty Thor down, until, lo though he didst nearly vanquish the brutish Ulik, was the Odinson cast down upon his godly posterior and then did the troll king achieve the ill wrought honor of capturing the god of thunder for ransom.
And thus did the mighty Thor strike outeth, and then didst he coolest his heels 'til his people didst bail him out.
Overall, a fun adventure, and even though our man Thor got whupped at the end, it was still pretty epic, and I was doin' good 'til I finally ran out of juice against what was probably the toughest foe in the adventure. So all told, a good game. Very mythic in tone.
BOOK OF WAR - FANTASY BATTLE - FIRE & LIGHTNING
(Pics to follow once Delta sends 'em my way...)
The second game I played was another chance to try out Delta's magnum opus, The Book of War. The cool thing for both of us was that this was his first chance to give his fantasy based troop rules a shakedown run.
I chose my forces in kind of a dilettante fashion, choosing to go with a basic wizard armed with a Wand of Lightning Bolts, a Blue Dragon, A Storm Giant, a force of Dwarvish medium infantry, and a smaller but more expensive force of elite Dwarf heavy infantry, as well as a single stand of halfling commandos since I had five points left after all my pricy unit choices. Maybe I was still grooving off of Thor's adventures when I picked 'em. In fact, I'll declare this army Team Thunder in his honor.
Anyway, we were faced off against a much more conventional force of combined elvish archers, human pikemen, a unit of heavy cavalry, and an opposing wizard armed with a Wand of Fireballs as well as a few other spells, which I hereby designate Team Fuego.
Terrain placement kind of favored my strategy. Delta's terrain rolls came up bupkis, whereas mine gave me a hill and a stream, which I deployed to help bolster what I figured would be kind of turtled, pick 'em off with lightning strategy.
Right from the start, things kinda busted bad in my direction. Delta won initiative and skootched his forces forward, and then I led with my dragon, which was my first and biggest mistake. Delta had wisely kept his main pike unit with the sorcerer imbed about an inch back, which was just short of my dragon's range. That left the dumb brute open from a charge from the side, which took it out on his next move, since my dragon couldn't breath on a unit of guys without being in base to base contact. So bang I lost an expensive unit right off.
I used my storm giant's power over the weather to try to turn the already cloudy conditions into rain, which would screw up Delta's archers, but his wizard countered with a weather control spell of his own, equalling out the effect and keeping the weather the way it was.
I'd sent my giant around the hill, while my wizard and his honor guard of hard chargin' dwarf elites climbed to the top for a good view of the carnage, and a chance to start plinking with the Lightning Wand.
Meanwhile, my regular dwarves and my one sorry little attachment of halflings moved up into the gap between the hill and the river ready to receive visitors, while Delta marched his pikes and archers up in a phased advance.
My giant got taken out with a fusillade of elven arrows, and Delta's Fireball Wand started whittling down my normal dwarves. I think I managed to get a little of my own back with a couple shots from my Lightning Wand, and it was looking like it was gonna end up as a wizards duel of magical ordinance.
It was here that Delta made HIS big mistake of the game. He used his wizard's Move Earth spell to shove the hill my wizard and his heavy dwarves were standing on back out of wand range of his main line.
Unfortunately for him, this still left me in range of his advancing heavy cav, which helped me make up my mind what to target with my wand attack. I zetzed his cavalry with a broadside of two shots that wiped out two thirds and sent the survivors galloping for the edge of the board.
This was probably the best offense I managed to make. I think I sent my medium dwarves and halflings across the stream to try to slow down the wave of troops coming my way so that I could start plinking at them with lightning, but I never got the chance, as a round after Delta invoked the Move Earth and dragged the hill back into range, he nailed my sizzling wizard with his Fireball Wand and decapitated the head of my army.
I'm not remembering if it was pikes or bowfire that routed my medium dwarves, whilst trampling my hapless halflings underfoot on the way to get to 'em, but I was soon down to just my elite corps of bad@ss dwarves.
I was ready to throw in the towel, but Delta persuaded me to keep going for the sake of completeness, pointing out the my forces were still mighty mighty, being 3rd lvl elites who required a 6 to even hit. I think they held their ground and managed to even rout a couple of the weaker units facing them, but eventually numbers overcame my doughty defenders, and the board was wiped clean of Team Thunder.
Even though I had chalked up another loss, it was no biggie for me. A: I was helping Delta test out his masterpiece, and B: I'd fully expected to get my clock cleaned. I had the dice bust ugly on me a few times in the game, and that had an effect on my success (like his wizard managing to just make his save against a couple lightning strikes and surviving to toast my guy's sorry kiester.)
There's kind of received wisdom that if you just pick "cool" units for your forces in a war-game, you're probably asking for grief as you tie up big wads of points or quatloos or whatever into flashy units that hemorrhage your advantage as your enemy concentrates on them and takes 'em out.
That being said, though, the game actually was pretty close, and Delta and I agreed that even playing a whim based army build can be effective with his rules. Thats not to say actually thinking things through isn't the preferred option, it's mostly that the ruleset is honed to the point that a beginner isn't gonna get bucked off too hard making less informed choices, which then leads to them sticking with it and becoming more experienced and thoughtful, which really is a good thing for a good game to encourage, 'fya ask me...
So all told, a jolly good day's gaming.
Our third game was a choice driven by nostalgia, the obscure Parker Bro's board game Shadowlord, which came out in 1983 and that I remember fondly from owning my own copy. It just so happens that Delta has a copy, and after a day of active adventuring we returned home and laid out the board to play.
Now, my memory of the game itself was kind of garbled. There were these four color coded elemental space lords who could recruit all these groovy fantasy heros for their space armada in that wonderfully loopy fantasy meets SPACE Flash Gordon/Xanadu style of the early 80's.
I seem to remember playing it a couple times with my brother, Mom & Dad, and since I was all of 11 years old and my brother was 8, I think it was a bit too complex for us kids and we never played it much, although all the bits and the funky portraits of the space heroes were cool.
So after perusing the rules and getting our heads wrapped around them, we started playing a 3 person game, with myself as the Earth Lord with a coterie of critter headed allies, Delta as the Water Lord with a proper force of chaps, and Miz G as the Fire Lord with her all chick hit squad of galactic kneecappers. We were all faced off against the sinister Shadow Lord, who'd usurped our birthright, the Star Crystal, and had amassed a sinister armada of space bastards to cloak all the galaxies in darkness.
(One note, I was always kind of bummed that the Shadows never had portraits like the Element Lords and their comrades. I'd have liked to have seen how The Invincible Darkness, Baron Cruel, or the Iron Claw's ugly mugs looked. I guess being cloaked in darkness made it hard to get a good shot for the Shadow Lord's "Employee of the Month" plaque.)
The game itself was pretty fun. Surprisingly so. I think while it was too heavy for a young kid, it was kind of light and fluffy and easy to grok for a much more experienced gamer.
It sort of played like Starfarers of Catan (a.k.a. Sternenfaherers Auf Catan to my home-slices in the former GA crew) with all the Catan-ity taken out (i.e. No resource noodling or trading. No getting space wood for their space sheep).
You set your dudes up in these space rings and added space ships to 'em which told you how many moves you could make, and you had to have a guy in a space to keep moving thru it, so you moved your forces around to leapfrog your guys. A class of character called a Diplomat, who had no fighting power, was needed to flip over a chit placed in each galaxy space. If it was an unattached potential ally, you could get 'em to join your side. If it was the name of one of the sinister Shadows, they'd be plunked on the board and kitted out with black ships.
If a fight happened, your space ring and the enemy's would be transported to the DIMENSION OF BATTLE!!! where you'd count up the guy's number, the number of ships, and then draw a power card with a number. The defender could also play cards they'd cached under their dude's portrait. Once the numbers were added up, the higher one would emerge victorious, the number of ships destroyed would be calculated by a draw from the deck, and the loser would fall prisoner to the winner and they'd all re-enter galactic space.
So the game went down like this. We spent the early innings recruiting space dudes and adding ships, and there was some early setbacks for the Fire Lord's forces as she rumbled with some of the Shadows and lost, her allies facing capture by the vicious Baron Cruel.
The Water Lord played a pretty canny game, but then got in a tangle with the Shadow Lord's worst minion, the Invincible Darkness. (Why did you attack the darkness?) Ol' Invincible got some pretty good power draws and managed to whup the Water Lord, thereby taking him out of the game. (Your leader was a big vulnerable point. While they had the best number (8) on the good side, if they were lost you lost the whole enchilada.)
In the confusion following their brother's defeat at the hands of the Invincible Darkness (something about the baddy's name might indicate why…) the Fire Lord found an opportunity and struck at the Earth Lord with her forces, bringing him down as well and ending the war of succession with her victorious.
Now, technically this meant that the Fire Lord had won the game, but since the Shadow Lord was still crouched at the center of the board, and still had a bunch of henchmen floating around space and still held the Power Crystal, we decided after a brief break to play the game out as a final battle between the Fire Lord and the Shadow Lord, with yours truly doing the funny voices for the Shadows, and Delta refereeing.
This was satisfying, but we house ruled some things that tipped things pretty strongly in Team Fuego's favor. I wasn't able to move the Shadows, and since the Fire Lord could take turn after turn, she was accumulating power cards (POWER!) at an amazing rate.
She eventually lured all the other Shadows out of the Forbidden Zone (It's just a name, like the Death Zone or the Zone of No Return. All the Zones have names like that in the Galaxy of Terror) and went in and whomped the Shadow Lord off the throne and planted a flaming boot in his nethers before walking off with the Power Crystal. The forces of good, obnoxious in victory tho they may be, had carried the day.
I enjoyed this game a lot. I suspect the copy I got when I was but a tender lad has long since been thrown out or flea marketed away, so someday when I get a little free-er financial flow, I may try to dig it up on Ebay or whatever. While it's a bit too esoteric for a young audience, for my fellow children of the 80's it's pretty fun.
(Delta's got some pics of this game too. There's also some other things he may share from this session, so stay tuned to this blog and his as well...)
In addition to all the awesome gaming I did with my good friend Delta this weekend I:
Talked and joked and generally just relaxed with some seriously copacetic folks.
Saw "Captain America". Loved it! Best Marvel movie thus far, in my opinion. I'd see it again. Really spot on! The tone was right, the references were deep and rich, and it just worked on all levels for me.
Read a bunch of Delta's vintage "Shogun Warrior" comics. The adds were almost more fun than the book itself. It reaffirmed that the monstrous "Hand of Five" is one of the awesomest monster foes out there and deserves to be dug up as some kind of monster encounter.
(When Tiamat the Dragon and a Bigby's Grasping Hand love each other very much…)
(Okay, that's freaking me out…)
(Okay, that's freaking me out…)
Ate excellent Chinese, a darn fine burger, and all weekend Delta fired my morning rampaging with bacon and chocolate chip pancakes! And there was copious fine sodas and ice cream cones with chocolate sprinkles. Truly a feast for the very champions of yore!
Checked out the hip bohemian scene down on the Lower East Side. Also checked out a lot of the cool artwork that Miz G was up to.
Rode the ferry to Governor's Island. Stomped around the fort and its ramparts and checked out some awesome underground ammo magazines. Saw some neat environmentally inspired art projects there.
Saw a neat show of Lee Ufan's zen inspired minimalist painting and sculpture, a neat little sampling of Kandinsky's Bauhaus drawings, and a room papered with dollar bills at the Guggenheim.
Rode the subway a lot. Delta proved his mettle as a gentleman and a scholar on Sunday when he guided me through the rain soaked chaos of the subway to get me to my bus for the return trip.
So all told, a most excellent adventure and an immensely satisfying visit with some dear, dear friends.