Our heroes were simply the only four classes that we haven't played with yet. This worked out surprisingly well when the heroes stayed bundled together, but with so many fire breathing monsters, it was also dangerous to bundle. So:
1. Reynard the Worthy, a Champion who likes to blow on his horn to buff his friends. Toot Toot! Toot!
2. Ulma Grimstone, an Apothecary who just loves her elixirs and is truly a healer. Annoyingly so.
3. High Mage Quellan, a Geomancer who tosses boulders at things, then blows them up for blast damage. Or blocks my Dragon being able to land. Jerk.
It begins with a terrible map (Above) -- too big and too many choices. There was no tension to it. Three paths, one goal. Life for the heroes was very easy. A dragon had cornered some miners, so the heroes walked up and killed the dragon who really had no backup. The heroes were a little bored because they found the scenario to be too easy. And it was. I hope the other ones in this mini-campaign are better and the Overlord can get some killing done soon, otherwise I'm afraid this one might be a bore of a mini-campaign.
On reflection, this was probably just the introductory-teach-people-to-play map.
We had a fourth player for the next round: 4. Logan Lashley as the Stalker class. The stalker lays traps everywhere and ambushes my monsters. Ugh.
As the heroes neared Blackwater Inn, they saw smoke and fire and heard the screams of survivors and slaughter. Really, they should be used to this by now, what with the Trollfens being full of smoke on the horizon and fresh in everyone's mind still. They also spied a man sneaking about and, hailing him, have added a Stalker to their group. He brought chocolate chip cookies and traps. Nobody knows his name, but his traps are deadly. The heroes, as usual, saw some damaged villagers on the ground and proceeded to pick them up and carry them away from the blazing Blackwater Inn. Fire imps kept crawling from the fiery heaps of rubble and sprinting into the inn to explode in a burst of flames, hurrying the inferno along. The heroes argued a lot over what tactic to take to free the villagers and slow down the fire, but in the end the villagers got out with plenty of time to spare. The innkeeper, however, succumbed to his severed spine, slit neck, sliced forearms, and general evisceration and died. And the man the heroes came to find, a miner named Jorem, was long gone before the got there.
This map (Above) was great! I would play it again. There was a ton of tension and exciting dice rolls and I felt like enough breathing room on both sides that a couple of mistakes wouldn't ruin either's chances. After the last map sucked so bad I had my sights set really low for this one, figuring that this first expansion pack may have been an amateur effort by a group burnt out after building the base game's campaign. But no, this map was great!
What's Yours is Mine
After being warned off by a surviving miner, the heroes finally found Jorem. His slavery consisted of being bonked on the head so he would mine Aurium ore for the Overlord. However, once he mined the ore, he would temporarily turn back to his normal self, attempting to run off or attacking the Overlord's minions before being brought back into line with a big whack on the brain pan. Observing this, the heroes came into a U shaped space with Jorem being driver before them towards the other end of the U. Immediately they were beset by dragons and half dragons and it took them turns and turns to wriggle free and attempt the door leading down into the mine. With two dragons poisoned and retreating to lick their wounds, the unnamed Stalker tried the door. It didn't budge. He put his ear to the door and heard a duet of snoring from the other side. A massive Ettin was passed out on guard duty on the door. Having a bright idea, he and Reynard decided to chip away the door from their side, hoping it would cave in. One Ettin head awoke and, not noticing the Heroes or their efforts on the door walked down the stairway to find a place to pee. Reynard burst in, sprinted down the stairs, and struck the Ettin a killing blow from behind before he got a chance to relieve himself. His selves? How do pronouns work with two-headed monsters? The dwarf came after Reynard, healing him as best she could and shooting bolts of magic over his shoulder at his enemies. At this point, Quellan and the Stalker continued their stand against the endless stream of Half Dragons, both taking some damage. Reynard reached the first of two Shadow Dragons and felled the poor, poisoned quadruped with a single strike. And then he tripped over a tripwire. Ulma helped him to his feet, handing him a potion, then hurried around the corner to hunt the second Shadow Dragon. To the dismay of Quellan and the Stalker, a third Shadow Dragon appeared right behind them. However, the dark passages of the mine kept Reynard tripping over tripwires and falling into pits for two more turns, and the 2nd Dragon, knowing the paths, kept just ahead of the heroes, out of reach, and blocking their progress.
Suddenly the Stalker kicked a rock over and found a map that showed him a secret passage making the space into an O instead of a U. Shouting his news down into the mine, he turned around in time to watch Quellan finish off the third Shadow Dragon, only for a fourth to take its place. The Stalker and Quellan ran for the secret passage and that's when the game got very serious and curses were thrown by everyone and both sides thought they won it numerous times only to have the other barely have a chance and every single dice roll from here on out was for the win or loss and wow what an amazing map this one was! The Ettin had all the ore out of Jorem he needed and was making a run for it. As he stepped out of the door, with 16 health and reach, the Stalker ambushed him, immobilizing him in his tracks with his last fatigue, though the Ettin was blocking the door to the secret passage from the outside. The 4th Dragon came up behind and knocked Quellan over. The Overlord played Word of Misery and, dealing a single damage to the Stalker with a Hybrid Sentinel, knocked him over too because he was at full fatigue, clearing the path for the Ettin's escape. With both Quellan and the Stalker down, Reynard finally connected on that 2nd Dragon and brought it down hurrying to the door and finding it blocked by an Ettin's bulk, again. The Hero's confidence was wanning, but they were still pretty sure of victory. More Hybrid Sentinels and Dragons kept pouring in behind them, sure, but they had the Ettin surrounded and if they could kill him and deny the Aurium to the Overlord... Just then Jorem took a swing at Ulma and missed. She attempted to heal Jorem and failed. Then the Ettin broke from his spell and dashed to within one turn of the exit, where he stayed for 3 turns (See Photograph Below) as the Heroes, all getting knocked over except Reynard with his Aurium armor, barely kept the Ettin immobilized with the Stalker's attacks -- Quellan and Reynard clearing him a firing lane through the regenerating half-dragons while Ulma kept him sort of healed. Eventually, a half-dragon blocked one of Reynard's killing blows and the Ettin was free to run away. Cackling to himself as he fled down the mountain path, the Heroes realized that they had lost. A miner came up to them and said that Jorem had been taken -- yet again -- by the flying half dragons -- yet again.
What a map! That last map was good with the inn burning down and all, but this was awesome! Long, but awesome! I started setting up at 4:30 and we finished tearing down at 10:30 with a 45 minute or hour break for dinner in the middle. As a player put it afterwards, "Long map, but would play again." Starting right next to where the monsters respawn is brutal. I like that neither Quellan nor the Stalker moved more than 10 spaces from their starting point all the hours we were playing. What fun! At this point we decided that the last two maps were so good, we would play both Finale's for double the fun! We started with:
At the Forge
Map 1: The Stalker bought these claws that are terrible and routinely due +5 damage to my monsters. Then the heroes decided that they thought they knew where the dragons were going, and they try to cut off the dragons and kill them instead of tracking them. Elementals got in the heroes' way. Tracking them was probably how they would've won this map, so I sort of cleaned up. Both dragons escaped to be back in the next map...
Not a great map, but then, nobody expected it to be a good one. Is it supposed to be a slow chase map? I'm not even certain what this map is trying to be. Too easy for the Overlord, pretty much.
Map 2: Much better map (Above). Probably would've been a ton of fun if the heroes attempted to win. They may have been a little too inebriated to attempt to win though.
The heroes decided that they were not done trying to kill those two Dragons from the last map, so they were going to kill the dragons instead of collecting the stuff off the ground that they needed to win. Elementals got between them and the dragons -- yet again -- slowing them down. Then they rolled some really bad dice and the dragons stayed alive for a really long time, by which point it was really too late for the heroes to do anything useful, so they argued about which really useless action to take. Funniest part was when Quellan sprinted over to free Jorem -- which could have been useful, but was already 5 turns into the game and also spawned Valyndra onto the map which sped up my winning. But Quellan ended up getting knocked down by a Hybrid Sentinel's fire breath. Then he got up, all by himself, using both of his actions, and got knocked down by the same Hybrid Sentinel's fire breath again. Then he got up, all by himself, using both of his actions, and the Dragon who was blocking all of his escape routes except the one across the lava, hit him for all but one HP, so he couldn't cross the Lava without dying. Poor Quellan, I felt bad, but it was too funny to change. Oh, and the Stalker met the Plague Worms. We then went shopping and Quellan finally managed to get the Geomancer a very nasty weapon, with a little rules bending because no magic weapons had come up at all in any of our shopping phases. So hey, suddenly that bow is an enchanted magic bow!
Then I had a junk attempt at some flavor text tying the two finale's together: "So, the heroes could not kill Valyndra and she flew away with the weapons Jorem Tolk forged for her. The heroes watch her go and then, as one, turn to glower at Jorem Tolk as he tries to explain, stuttering, that he was tortured into making those things. Like a smart man, Jorem runs off, scared of the look Quellan was giving him and distressed at the noise of the Stalker sharpening his claws idly while staring at his throat. After unsuccessfully looking around for the Miner for a few days, the heroes decide to go back to the Blackwater Inn for a pint, and maybe some information on his whereabouts."
Armed to the Teeth
Map 1: This map went off much better than anybody had hoped. This chase map was actually pretty fun! And not just fun for a chase map, but actually fun! Though the map was huge (Below).
The scenario started with the heroes accidentally stumbling across Jorem Tolk at the recently rebuilt inn that burned down when the imps invaded. He drew them a map to find Valyndra's lair, but they ran into Splig on the way. Splig, being dumb, didn't notice them right away. His minions even lit signal fires to attempt to alert him of the heroes' presence, but he paid those no mind. Not until the Stalker ran up into his field of vision did he notice that heroes were on the map and, let's be honest, by then a third of his minions were dead after throwing themselves against Reynard's Aurium armor in seven fruitless attacks in the first round alone. Reynard and the Stalker chased Splig after Ulma and Quellan punched a hole in the monsters' defenses -- Quellan's hit with the stone killed three or four monsters with one roll. It was a great roll with the new "Magic" Bow. Then Quellan suggested punching a hole the other direction on the map, through the lobster/spider hybrid things on the campfire, and his stones did it again. At that point, Stalker and Reynard raced over that direction to cut Splig off. The not-dead spider-lobster moved in to knock Quellan and Ulma over twice, but that gave Reynard and Stalker enough time to catch up with Splig and Stalker's web weapon immobilized him. At this point, the match was over and it was just mop-up -- unless the Overlord could knock Stalker or Reynard over. After the seven fruitless attacks on Reynard in a single turn, the Overlord focused on Stalker, giving up on Quellan and Ulma. But, after the Overlord rolled four consecutive Xs in attacks, the Stalker was left with 2 hit points. Stalker Immobilized Splig again, and Reynard was able to finish Splig off. Splig was tied to a nearby tree with almost all of the rope the heroes had, because he is fat, and they continued on to Valyndra's lair, following the smoke on the horizon, as is typical in this campaign.
Map 2 (Above): Valyndra, hiding in a castle other than her own, left behind a map that the heroes followed to entomb her in her new abode. Upon reaching the place, they dispatched her guards without any trouble, then moved in to take on her and her children, the Hybrid Sentinels. However, the Overlord simply had too many cards stacked up from the last few maps to let them win and, once indecision struck them and they split their forces, it was over. The rest was just slaughter. I even knocked down all four heroes in one turn, which was fun. Quellan's stone blast almost took down all three of my Sentinels, and that would've been a setback for me, and given them all a better chance, but I was told that I didn't explain the role of the Sentinels well enough at the start. I apologize for that. Ulma was, as always, utterly annoying with all her elixirs and standing people up for free. The Stalker was deadly with trap ambushes immobilizing Hybrid Sentinel movements. And Reynard, with his armor and sword, definitely was a thick thorn in my side the entire time.
I don't think anybody really enjoyed this map. But with 15-20 Overlord cards against the heroes, and a misunderstanding about the Hybrid Sentinels, it was pretty hopeless for them. So that's the end of Valyndra's mini-campaign. Two maps were awesome: "What's Yours is Mine" and "Rude Awakening" are two of my favorite Descent maps yet. The Finales were both let-downs, as was the first map. Though Map 2 of "At the Forge" was pretty good, and Map 1 of "Armed to the Teeth" was the best Chase Map we've played, I don't think we'll play this mini-campaign again.
- Last edited Mon Jun 9, 2014 12:08 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Jun 7, 2014 8:28 pm
Thanks for a great write-up! A really fun read and good overview of the LotW quests.
Theaty Hannington wrote:
However, the Overlord simply had too many cards stacked up from the last few maps to let them win [...]
This here got me thinking you might have confused the rules for when to keep OL cards between encounters. Your hand of OL cards are only kept between encounter 1 and encounter 2 in a 2 encounter quest. You do not carry over your hand of cards between quests. The process goes like this for a 2 encounter quest:
1. Before encounter 1 of a quest you have the option to reduce your deck down to a minimum of 15 cards by removing cards and putting them aside for the whole quest. You now have a deck that is (hopefully) optimized for your particular goal and strategy for this particular quest.
2. Draw your starting hand of cards equal to the number of heroes.
3. Play encounter 1. You get some cards, you play some cards, and hopefully have some left after the encounter is finished.
4. You carry over your hand of cards to the next encounter, where you again get some cards and play some cards.
5. When encounter 2 is finished, you add the cards you removed in step 1 back to the deck, and you are ready for the next quest (start over from step 1).
For Gold Diggers:
- Valyndra's shadow gets all of her special attacks, such as fire breath. So she can generally fry 2 miners at once, with a bit of luck on the dice this can apply serious time pressure.
- Valyndra's shadow does not need to go straight for the miners - she can attack the heroes also. Assuming you time your 2 open groups so they attack simultaneously you stand a good chance of defeating multiple heroes with Fire Breath.
So there are other strategies & tactics at the OLs disposal which can make things much tougher for the heroes. You're right this is a relatively straightforward quest, but I disagree that it is necessarily easy for the heroes.