Sunday, 17 January 2016

Dungeon Saga: The Dwarf Kings Quest - Campaign Review

After some epic gaming over the start of the winter myself and my friends Mike & Richard have completed the campaign from the Dungeon Saga core box; The Dwarf Kings Quest.  Mike played as the evil Necromancer Mortibris and me and Richard shared out the heroes between us, I got the Dwarf and the Wizard, which of course left Richard with the Elf and the Barbarian.  The campaign is 8 missions long and the heroes get a total of 15 attempts to complete them all.  If you can do it quickly enough an attempt won't count towards your total (we found that to be VERY rare as most of the missions are very finely balanced) and if you fail you have to do that mission again until you get through.


If you plan on playing this as the heroes there might be some stuff here you shouldn't read before you've had a go at the missions, unless of course you don't like surprises......

Before the campaign there are two training missions, I'm not going to bother going through these, they are very easy for the heroes and just give you a chance to practice the main rules.

Adventure 1: Well Met

This may be adventure one, but this is no gentle introduction for the heroes, you need to move quickly and kill stuff to win this one and get through the final door before the cards run out.  In our first play of this we were playing as if this was Warhammer Quest, by which I mean to conservatively, trying to secure each area fully before moving on, we all survived, but the timer beat us quite comprehensively.  You can't move too quickly either though, the Wizard and the Elf start separately from the Barbarian and the Dwarf and can be very vulnerable.  Loose one hero and you loose the mission, don't forget it.  Pay attention in this mission and think carefully about every move.
Tries to complete: 2
Star Rating: ****

Adventure 2: Into the Depths

This adventure is another one where you have to open the final door before the time runs outs (there's quite a of these).  This is however where you meet your first Zombie Troll, which at this point are pretty scary things.  We really enjoyed this one, the key is not to get bogged down fighting the troll and try to slip someone through on either side to make a run for the final door. Remember that only one person has to get to the door to win the mission.  Our run through of this one came down to a dice roll to smash the door as the final action of the game! how's that for balance.
Tries to complete: 1
Star Rating: *****

Adventure 3: Restless Guardian

Time for the first boss fight!  Except you don't actually fight the Banshee in a normal fashion, you need to survive her attacks whilst you collect the four fragments of her shattered stone heart and collect them together so she can finally have rest.  This was a walkover for the heroes, the Banshee has some nasty spells, but can't do enough damage on her own to realistically cripple a hero before they collect all the pieces.  There are a few minions about, but with only one Overlord Command per turn they're not going to achieve much as they rarely get to even activate.  This is also the first time that the Overlord gets to use magic and Mike didn't get it at first which helped ease our victory.  We were looking forward to our first boss, but ultimately the speed at which we accomplished the task took away the joy of victory.  We might try this again with two Overlord Commands per turn.
Tries to complete: 1 (Within bonus time limit so doesn't count towards total)
Star Rating:*

Adventure 4: Left or Right

We're back to getting through doors within the time limit now.  The twist this time is a randomly collapsing dungeon.  This is a winding dungeon, with several routes to the final door, wether those routes will still be there next turn is part of the gamble you'll have to take.  We found this one to be incredibly close and like Adventure two it all came down to the last dice roll of the game against the door.
Tries to complete: 1
Star Rating:*****

Adventure 5: Stench of Death

A proper boss fight at last!  This time against the Zombie Troll Shaman Hoggar.  Like the Banshee fight the Overlord is severely limited by a single Command per turn.  The mission is a pretty straightforward romp through some Zombies and Zombie Trolls until you get to Hoggar himself.  He's a pretty tough beastie to kill.  It looked like we were storming it until we got to the boss who then took a lot longer to kill than we were expecting and we only just did it before the time ran out.
Tries to complete: 1
Star Rating:***

Adventure 6: Turned Around

It was going so well upto this point, we'd been a bit lucky on adventures 2 & 4, but basically we'd aced everything!  This was also when your heroes become legendary! But..... This mission really held us up, on the plus side this made the campaign mode interesting again as suddenly it was all there to play for.  The twists here are the two large randomly rotating rooms and a random exit point.  If you can roll sixes when you get to a chest(the exit is hidden in one of them) this one can be over quickly and easily, if however you flunk those rolls and have to do it the hard way by opening all the chests this mission is hard, especially as it's impossible to plan from turn to turn as you never know where your men are going to be!  Having said all that it's still a fun mission, but I'm glad we didn't have to do it for a fifth time.
Tries to complete: 4
Star Rating:****

Adventure 7: The Final Insult

The penultimate level and the penultimate boss.  This is our first, and only true 'fighty' boss, Grund, the Undead Dwarf King.  The first room is full of  monsters, you need to try and clear these quite quickly, but without getting overwhelmed in the process, we found the dwarf stood in the center did a great job of splitting the monsters into two groups.  Once you get through the first room you have a pretty clear run upto Grund himself where you attempt to kill him before the time runs out.  On our first attempt we had Grund down to a single wound when the time ran out, frustrating to say the least, but to be fair it was Mikes turn to pull off a last victory.  The second attempt also failed in the last room, this time the Barbarian had taken too many hits and went down just before Grund would have done.  The third run finally went smoothly and victory was ours.
Tries to complete: 3
Star Rating:****

Adventure 8: Only One Gets Out Alive

The final showdown, we finally get to confront Mortibris himself, even the heroes are expendable here and the game doesn't end if you loose one, the mission is also big containing all the minions in the set to slowly fight through.  I say slowly, actually we smashed trough them with ease, our dice rolling was nuts here, we didn't flunk a single attack, nor had we taken a single wound by the time we entered Mortibris' inner sanctum.  Obviously a lot of luck helped here and I expect that result is unusual.  Even though we were unharmed as we got to the end boss Mortibris soon started knocking wounds off us, he is a tough cookie indeed, he can't stand up to four heroes, but if you loose one on the way to him I think you'll be in trouble.
Tries to complete: 1
Star Rating:****

Final result:  The heroes win on the 13th out of 15 potential tries, although with one 'freebie' we actually had 14 tries; pretty damned close!

In conclusion this is a really good campaign, with different challenges for both sides, and we found it pretty well balanced, which is always tough in games like this.  The limited time mechanism puts a slightly different slant on this than other dungeon crawlers that I'm familiar with, it won't be for everyone, but I found it added a sense of drama and tension to proceedings.  We only found scenario 3 to be horribly unbalanced and 2,4 and 7 in particular where spectacularly close and therefore more enjoyable.  I also like how the heroes get better over time and there's always a new ability or item to learn to use.  The average of my (admittedly subjective) star ratings comes to 3.75, make of that what you will, but I think this is a solid initial campaign for Dungeon Saga.

However Mortibris is not quite dead and may come back yet.........

Monday, 11 January 2016

Dungeon Saga: The Dwarf Kings Quest & Return of Valandor Painted

Since Dungeon Saga arrived it has been pretty much the only game we've played, and we've now managed to complete the campaign in the 'Dwarf Kings Quest' core set and will soon be embarking on the sequel 'The Return of Valandor'.  Both sets are facing off against the Undead, so I painted them all at the same time.  The base game gives you two of each minion and the expansion another one.  Both sets come with unique Hero and Boss sculpts. 

Overall I'm very impressed with these for board game minis, they take the paint well, have good detail and have (so far) proved Mike proof.  The only real issue is that a lot of them came bent, but I've pretty well managed to fix that I think.  I've also tried to paint them up to match my Warhammer/Kings of War armies, so the Dwarf Revenants and Armoured Zombies match their living counterparts.

The heroes; Rodin, Orlaf, Danor and Madriga 

The bosses, Elshara the banshee, Mortibris the Necromancer and Grund the Undead dwarf king.  Anyone else think that Motribris has more than a shade of Denethor from the Lord of The Rings movies?

Hoggar the Zombie Troll Shaman 


 Skeleton Archers

 Dwarf Revenants


 Zombie Trolls

 Armoured Zombies


Valandor and B'ael 

And finally a couple of bits of the furniture

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Kings Of War Kickstarter Wave 2 - The Forces of Nature

My second package from the Kings of War Kickstarter has now arrived which means I have a lot more minis to paint.  I didn't go overboard on this and the bulk of this package is the $50 Forces of Nature starter army.

Lets start with the undoubted highlight on the set which is the massive Greater Earth Elemental in resin.  This is one of those WOW figures when you open it up.  Much bigger than I was expecting and I love the style.  It shares the same body as the greater obsidian golem for the Abyssal Dwarves but comes with different arms and head.  It's not quite perfect, there are a few air bubbles, but nothing a little bit of liquid green stuff won't fix, and nothing in a key place, so I'm still happy with this.

The leader of this little force is the Druid.  She comes with an alternative head and staff arm, allowing for four different combinations.  This is the one mini here that I'm not convinced by, lets hope a lick of paint will improve her look.

The starter set also includes three regiments, the first of which are the new hard plastic Salamanders.  I got 20, although I've only assembled 10 so far.  These are a proper hard plastic multi-part kit with options for hand weapons and shields or double-handed weapons.  I've armed mine with double-handed weapons as I have a unit f old GW Saurus with hand weapons and shields already which I've been using as Salamanders.  There are also command group options and little bits of flame you can decorate the bases with.  Very pleased with these, one small gripe is that getting them to rank up properly isn't easy, but overall they get a thumbs up from me, I prefer them to GW's current Saurus kit as well.

The second regiment is another hard plastic kit, this time the watery Naiads.  Again I got 20, but have only assembled half so far.  These have also been given the whole multi-part kit treatment with full command options and this time the weapon options are for 'shooty' harpooners or 'fighty' with nets and spears/tridents.  I'm creating a regiment of the harpooners, but am assembling a few as fighty types, just because I want to really.  These look much better in person than in the official photos and I'm also rather pleased with these.  Each sprue also comes with a frog and an otter, the otter in particular is I think rather inspired.

The third regiment was three Tree Shamblers, I'd already jumped the gun and bought another three of these and have them ready painted so have at look at these ones rather than the three in plain metal.

last minute on the campaign Mantic also offered a Centaur hero for the FoN that wasn't included in the starter army, obviously I had to get him as well, and I think he looks pretty good, although I do wish he was facing forward....

Finally I got the campaign book, 'Destiny of Kings' which has rules for map and narrative campaigns, an example campaign and rules for using some of the Dungeon Saga heroes as living legends in KoW.  I'll do a proper review of this at some point soon when I've read it thoroughly.

So in conclusion, I'm very happy with this and am very much looking forward to the summer KoW season we have planned, I think there's a good chance we'll actually try the narrative campaign from the book.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Merry Sithmas

I hope everyone enjoyed a break of some sort over the last few days, even though I don't really believe in Christmas I seem to have managed to have three Christmas dinners over three days and have enjoyed the holidays more this year than I have in a long time.  With all the (justifiable) hype over the new Star Wars movie I correctly predicted that I'd get a slew of Star Wars related gifts.

Some good stuff here, the 'Spark of Rebellion' DVD is one that I haven't seen and I really love the mug, I feel the tea will be strong in this one (sorry, terrible joke I know).  I'm not entirely convinced with the sticker book however.

The highlight has to be the metalworks 1:20 scale R2-D2 model.  This was a lot more complicated than it looked at first glance.  Clearly I'm no novice when it comes to model making, but this is the first time I've never done metal-folding and there was a lot of learning of techniques as I was building it, I found it pretty tricky at times and in the end I haven't got it quite right.  It took a lot longer than I expected as well, several hours in fact.  I like the end result and will have to try and get another one from the range at some point.

I couldn't help but buy myself some of the brand new Lego sets for 'The Force Awakens' as well, focusing for now on the incredibly stylish First Order.

I saw the new movie a couple of days before Christmas, and whilst I'm not going to do a full spoiler filled review I am just going to say that I liked it a lot, it's not perfect, but I reckon 8.5 out of 10.  Star Wars is finally back and I can't wait for the next installment.

May the force be with you, always....... 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Review - Kings of War: Uncharted Empires

I've been eagerly awaiting this book, Kings of War has been very well received in my gaming group and we've been having a lot of fun experimenting with new army lists.  This book of new lists by Mantic is a very clever move, they don't make minis for any of them, but quite a few bear a striking resemblance to armies from the now defunct Warhammer Fantasy Battles.  This will ultimately encourage even more people to give KoW a try and allows those of us who already have extensive Warhammer collections to use a lot more of our minis in our games, and ultimately for our group pretty much signals our complete conversion from Warhammer Fantasy to KoW.  It sounds like a giant win-win, lets take a closer look.

The book is just over 70 pages, softback and in full colour, plenty of art and photos, some new some reused.  The footprint is the same as the gamers edition of the main rulebook and the interior is done in the same style.  This is all for the good, I like things to match, it makes it feel like there's a bit of thought gone into the range.  There are nine new lists for some of Mantica's minor factions, and whilst a lot of them are shall we say 'Inspired' by Warhammer fantasy armies the included background section for each list grounds them firmly within the Kings of War world.

Lets take a brief overview of the Lists one by one.

Name: The Brotherhood
Alignment: Good
Warhammer Equivalent: Bretonnians

This knightly Brotherhood guard the southern realms from the depravations of the abyss.  These are classic good guy knights and peasents, very closely following the Bretonnian mould, except with added water elementals.  There are different flavours of knights, including the long lost and much asked for foot knights and some cool flying knights.  And there is even a Robin Hood style unit which will allow me to use my 'Bowmen of Bergerac' minis again.  It's not the most inspired list, but then neither was the Bretonnia one, but it is solid and I definitely plan on giving it a go.

Name: Salamanders
Alignment: Good
Warhammer Equivalent: Lizardmen

This one like the Brotherhood is very inspired by the Warhammer equivalent, in this case the Lizardmen.  The Saurus have been renamed Salamanders, the skinks Ghekkotah and the Kroxigor Tyrants.  No sign of any Slann though.  There are also added fire elementals to fit in with the Salamander background.

Name: The Herd
Alignment: Neutral
Warhammer Equivalent: Beastmen

Fauns, Stayrs, Beastmen, Centaurs, Minotaurs etc.  This is my favourite list in this book, I love the fact that they made them neutral which puts a totally different stance on them.  I think this makes a great companion list to my favoured Forces of Nature army.  Nice to see Harpies and especially Lycans in the list as I have some being painted.  Adding some units from this list to my collection is definitely going to happen.

Name: League of Rhordia
Alignment: Neutral
Warhammer Equivalent: None

I've said 'none' for the equivalent army here, but it's sort of old school Empire.  This is a mix of fairly standard human troops, lots of Hobbits Halflings and some cool war machines.  The ability to field Halfling armies is welcome and it's cleverly done with the humans to create a balanced list, whilst leaving the pure Halfling army open.  Not on the immediate horizon for me though.

Name: The Trident Realm of Neritica
Alignment: Neutral
Warhammer Equivalent: None

This one was unexpected, finally the much joked about Fishmen list appears!  Most of the troops are a variety of Naiad, which is handy as Mantic will be releasing plastic Naiads in the new year, this list is the converting opportunity list.  Just how far can you push that one sprue? As well as the Naiads you get various water elementals and sea monsters.  I also think calling the armoured Naiads Placoderms was inspired!

Name: The Empire of Dust
Alignment: Evil
Warhammer Equivalent: Tomb Kings

The ancient desert undead, mummies, pharaohs, chariots, scorpions and plenty of long dead skeletons.  Another pretty straight 'inspired' list here, nothing really exciting or radical, but of course welcome if you have a tomb kings army, or just really like undead chariots.

Name: Night-Stalkers
Alignment: Evil
Warhammer Equivalent: None

This one is interesting.  The night-stalkers are the embodiment of the fears, horrors, nightmares and dreams of mortals.  A whole army of trans-dimensional Nightmares.  Rules wise they are fascinating they have no inspiring of their own, but steal their opponents, they also have a unit that can use all their opponents fighting characteristics in combat.  I'm not quite sure what to make of it all yet, but it certainly is interesting.  I'm also not sure which models to use, Mike (my regular opponent and irregular contributor on this blog) has a plan to use some of his Tyranid minis to play this list.  I'm looking forward to seeing what he comes up with and I'll see if I can persuade him to share it here.

Name: Ratkin
Alignment: Evil
Warhammer Equivalent: Skaven

Another pretty straight copy here, but nonetheless a welcome one.  In the Mantica background they are a former slave race who have broken free.  You have the various infantry you'd expect with a mix of crazy war machines.  In a change from Warhammer you can also have Ratkin cavalry and you can give the Vermin Lord equivalent wings!  I have small Skaven Ratkin army, with some more to paint up at some point, and one of my main opponents has a large collection so we're really pleased to see this one included.

Name: The Varangur
Alignment: Evil
Warhammer Equivalent: Warriors of Chaos

These are the barbarian tribes from the north with attendant monsters.  You have heavy and light infantry and cavalry a few specialist infantries (including some bowmen!), trolls and wolves.  Pretty much what was expected (except the bowmen).  The background is a bit different than I expected though and I like it.  The Varangur don't worship the Abyssals as I was expecting, but a different older god of the north 'Korgaan' he is a many faced god and there is a limited 'mark' system here as well.  As I have quite a big Warriors of Chaos force I'll be looking to try out this list at some point.

In conclusion I think this is a fantastic and imaginative product, and I have absolutely no qualms in heartily recommending this.  In fact I would even go so far as to say it's an essential purchase if you're a KoW player.  I also hope Mantic do eventually make some minis to support this, a single plastic kit for each of the lists would be a great start.  Things continue to look very bright for Kings of War.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Reaper Bones for Kings of War

Kings of War has been set aside now for a few months whilst we play dungeon saga over the cold winter nights.  This doesn't mean that I'm not working on my armies in the mean time.   Today I have a few recent editions that are all from the 'Bones' range by reaper minis.  These are cheap flexible plastic figures designed mainly for roleplaying, but I found a way to add these ones to my KoW collection.

First off is this Ogre chieftain, who I'm planning on using as a Warlord for my small, but growing Ogre force.

This is a unicorn for my Forces of Nature army.  I already have an old citadel unicorn, but couldn't resist getting this one as well.

Keeping with the forces of nature here we have a dryad, a beastman and a hunter of some sort, these will all be used as 'hunters of the wild' in my army.

These quirky figures are 'mushroom men' the small ones will also be used as 'hunters of the wild' whereas the big one will make an expert forest shamble.

And finally this demon figure which will make an excellent succubi champion for my embryonic Abyssal army.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Using Dungeon Saga For Kings of War

A few days ago I posted an unboxing of my Dungeon Saga kickstarter package, with this giant pile of minis from the world of Mantica I couldn't help wonder if I could get some Kings of War units out of all this.

One of the defining features of KoW as opposed to Warhammer is that unit sizes are fixed, usually 10, 20 or 40 for standard infantry, or 3 or 6 for large infantry.  This makes putting together units out of the set slightly trickier than it was when I used my Warhammer Quest minis in my Warhammer armies back in the day, however here are my solutions...

The easiest place to start is with the heroes and bosses, most of which happily serve as characters  for their respective armies.

The four heroes out of the starter set can be used as Kingdoms of Men, wizard, a Kingdoms of men hero, an Elf Master Hunter and a Dwarf King.

These three make excellent heroes for the forces of nature army, as a Salamander Veteran, Naiad Stalker and a Druid.
And these two obviously fit nicely into the Basilean army as a High Paladin and an Abbess.
 These two Bosses from the base game will make an excellent Revenant King and Necromancer.

And finally for the characters we have an Orc Krudger, an Abyssal Champion and an Efreet (who is a minion in dungeon saga, but a character in KoW).

If you got a 'carton B' like me you got three Molochs, which is enough for a regiment, they even come on the right sized (50mm) bases.

You also get three each of zombie trolls and trolls, enough for a regiment of each.  One slight issue here is they also come on 50mm bases whereas in Kings of War they should have 40mm bases.  After much deliberation, including considering rebasing them we've decided just not to worry about it and just let them be used as is.  That wouldn't be OK in a tournament obviously, but for friendly games we don't think it will have enough of effect to be worth worrying about unduly and I'm not the only player in our group who wants to be able to add dungeon saga zombie trolls to their kings of war Undead army.

I've also been able to put together a lower abyssal troop.  The bases on these are also the wrong size for KoW, being 25mm rather than 20mm.  The solution here is a bit different, I'm using a frontage of four instead of five (still 100mm) and keep the depth of two, which does mean a depth of 50mm instead of 40mm, but that's not a real issue for friendly games.  You can pull off the same trick with the skeletons, but it's not worth it for me as I already have loads of skeletons on the right size bases.

This is where things get slightly dodgy, in my package I got three tortured souls, on 25mm bases.  In the KoW list they are large infantry on 40mm bases and come as three for a regiment.  My solution is just to put those three figures on a large base of the right footprint.  Ideally at some point I'd make a scenic base with three holes which I could pop the figs in when I wanted to use them in KoW

This little lot of Abyssals comes to 710pts, which if you add 40pts of magic items it becomes a legal 750pt Abyssal army.  Then consider that you can spend 25% of your points on allies, those two troll units come to 240pts, which added to the Abyssals creates a legal 1000pt army.  It may not be the best army ever but you could definitely have a fun battle with it.  If you have a carton B (base pledge plus the three expansions) you also have a Kings of War army!
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