Josh Murphy
United States
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This is the continuation of my first session report, The Horrific Tale of Eliana the Rancher and Garth Brooks. This finale was originally posted on the Geeklist: Solitaire Game on Your Table - December 2014. Scroll to the end for my half-baked review.


Another Prelude To Terror

“When there’s a rescue needs doin’, folks usually call on someone else to be doin’ the rescuin’, and that someone else, more often than not, be me, The Solitary Marshal.” That’s how Sol talks. His trusty sidekick, Squanto, doesn’t say much. They balance each other out.

Sol is a U.S. Marshall who was called into town to investigate the disappearance of local Lawman Garth Brooks. Along with Sol came Squanto, his consummate traveling companion and a highly skilled tracker. After poking around the local saloon, the marshal was directed to a little ranch on the outskirts of town. Apparently Garth had been spending an unseemly amount of time there, “helping” the widow Eliana. Squanto’s search of the ranch inevitably led the duo to an old mineshaft sunk into a nearby hillside. The two looked at the dark entrance doubtfully, but a sudden cry of horror echoing from the pit pushed their hesitations aside. As Sol waxed on about a marshals duty to answer all cries of distress, Squanto strode silently forward into the dark. Sol didn’t mind. “Speechafying” to himself was one of his favorite pastimes. He finished his soliloquy, gave his mustache a jaunty twirl, then dove into the mine, following the flickering light of Squanto’s old lantern.

Game 3 - Search Party (A Farmer’s Son)

Squanto’s lamp carrying abilities leave much to be desired and the pair met with an ambush at the far end of the entrance tile. In inauspicious start. Fortunately it was a single Night Terror who fell quickly to a furious hatcheting/shotgunning combo. The first room they peeked into turned out to be nothing but a long hallway. This won’t do. If we didn’t hurry, Squanto’s incredibly bad Lantern handling would end the mission prematurely. But Luck was a lady and granted the search party 3 clue tokens in succession (I pull from a bag that receives a thorough shaking before and after every draw). The final showdown saw the duo facing off with a swarm of zombies backed by three corpse piles. The rancher’s son, Bert, was passed out at the back of the room, no doubt rendered unconscious by the overwhelming horror of finding his mother as a reanimated, shambling monstrosity.

Squanto failed in his duty as lamp bearer many times during the fight and the zombies seemed to grow stronger and faster (Chill of the Grave: undead receive +1 initiative, +1 combat). Sol was just beginning to ruminate on possible replacement sidekicks when Squanto went nuts. Perhaps driven on by his many wounds and nearly broken mental state, the brave little scout ran wildly into the nest of Corpse Piles screaming a savage war cry (+2 combat). Sol immediately flashed his badge. Seemed the thing to do. Squanto found this oddly infuriating and added +2 dice to his combat roll. All told, he rolled 6 combat dice. I’ve learned that a lot of dice does not equal a lot of damage, and in this case, only two of those dice hit. Fortunately they were both crits that wound up taking out two of the three corpse piles. This left 1 undamaged corpse pile and a zombie for Sol to mop up. He took a few steadying steps forward, and blamm-blamm-blammed the remaining corpse pile into a formless lump of gore. The final zombie (an undead Garth Brooks) took a half-hearted swing at Squanto who repaid the gesture with a hatchet to the neck.

The boy was rescued alive and well, but with no one left to care for him, he sold the ranch and gave a chunk of the proceeds to Sol in thanks. (He stiffed Squanto.) The dynamic duo then headed to town, stopping only to pull some kittens from a burning house. Sol gained some XP for his heroics while Squanto got his eye gouged out by a demon. Oh, Brimstone.

Miscellaneous Ramblings

“When a man, especially a solitary man, needs to blow a mine to hell and back, that man needs to have equipment... darkstone infused equipment... and dynamite. Lots of dynamite. And bandages. And whiskey. Gallons of whiskey! And money... with which to purchase... said essential materials.” As Sol pontificated, the exasperated shop keep put everything on sale. Maybe that would hurry the marshal along.

I wasn’t in a hurry to lose two more heroes to the Blow the Mine mission. I decided they would need some protective gear, upgraded weaponry, and another character level before I sent them back to finish Eliana’s mission. Sol had his eye on a grip upgrade for his shotgun that would allow him another shot every round, but he was short 4 darkstone. So it was off to find more!

Game 4 - For a Few Darkstone More (Medium Deposit)

Things don’t always turn out how we plan, and it was looking like the guys were destined to reenact Eliana and Garth’s untimely second-mission demise. 3 rooms into the expedition they stumbled into a flooded room that also harbored a crack in reality. The men screamed as they clutched their heads, minds reeling at the glimpse of infinity (and beyond!) They plowed slowly through the waist deep waters and couldn’t help but peek at the crack again, just to make sure it was still there. It was. They screamed and clutched their heads again.

Squanto looked through to the next room and sighed. x2 encounters and a darkness card later the men were surrounded by ambushing hell bats (with razor wings!), void spiders, undead, tentacles, and a night terror. The new room was also flooded. Oh, Brimstone.

Two well placed sticks of dynamite cleared the Razor-Wing Hell Bats and saved the day. Wouldn't have lasted another round against them.

The heroes actually pulled a victory out, but only after using every single one of their supplies: 6 bandages, 2 sticks of dynamite, and 2 bottles of whisky. A costly win. That’s $800 worth of gear.

They slogged on to the next tile, though some water seemed to have gotten into Squanto’s old lantern. The darkness moved 3 more spaces by the time the next map tile was revealed. An insane prospector greeted Sol with a suspicious eye, but warmed to the bruised and beaten men and lent them some of his medical supplies. On his way out, the geezer passed Squanto a mysterious orb and cackled madly. Squanto had his doubts about the old man’s mental stability, but kept the gift anyway. When held during combat, the Orb of Ro’kal gives the bearer +1 damage for every corruption on the hero. It also gives a corruption hit for every kill made by the hero. It can be awesomely powerful, especially for a melee focused character like Squanto, but when used frequently, mutations are almost assured.

The boys stopped and took stock of their situation. They were 4 rooms deep (two of which were flooded), had 2 clues to go, the darkness was over halfway out, they had NO side-bag items, and were still badly damaged.

“A man needs to know when he’s licked, Squanto. There’s no shame in knowing when you’re outclassed and outgunned. Discretion is the better part of valor, after all. Sometimes turning back is the bravest thing a man can do. Staying alive is, in many ways, it’s own form of victory... uh, Squanto?”

The scout was already halfway out of the mine.

Will Sol and Squanto come back from their failed expedition and succeed in blowing the cursed rancher family mine? Will Squanto continue to be the worst Old Lantern bearer in history? (Spoilers: Oh yes.) Will Sol ever shut up? (Spoilers: Never!) Will dynamite still be awesome if somewhat OP? (Spoilers: of course it will!) Tune in next time to find the answers to these questions and so much more in the exciting conclusion of the Cursed Mine Saga!




The Exciting Hasty Conclusion

I'm not planning on writing up the last game, as I can't remember the details anymore. But the boys did manage to seal up the old mine and claim vengeance for the deaths of Eliana and Garth Brooks. For what it's worth, it was epic and felt extremely satisfying.

A Mishmash of Thumbs

thumbsdown - Currently there are no official campaigns or story lines made for this game

thumbsup - But the theme is so strong that constructing a story that you feel invested in is not difficult. This was the most engrossing game/story experience I've had!

thumbsup - Visually incredible!

thumbsdownthumbsup - I've heard a lot of talk about the models. I don't think they came out as well as FFP hoped, but they're still nice. I'm hoping FFP learns a thing or two from this experience and future expansions have higher quality miniatures. They paint up well!

thumbsup - When you play with fewer heroes (2 or 3) you don't run into the problems of running out of new content that larger groups are reporting. Seriously, there's enough content here to last at lest 40 - 50 plays (I've played 15 times and still have WAAAY more unseen cards then seen)

thumbsdown - Feels too easy and slow with 4 or more players. You gain loot at an incredible rate.

thumbsup - I hate house ruling games. I feel compelled to have the "intended" experience. BUT this game makes house rules feel OK. I can ramp up the difficulty and it doesn't feel like it's breaking the game. It feel like it's supposed to be house ruled. If the only way you like to play Skyrim is with "reality" mods, this game is right up your alley.

thumbsdown - Set up time

thumbsdown - Takes up an incredible amount of space when set up

thumbsdown - Doesn't pack away back into the boxes (Harbinger). I've heard people say they can't get all the tiles packed, but if you store the tiles in the City of Ancients box they do all fit.

thumbsup - BEST. SOLO. EXPERIENCE. EVER. (Inspired me to spend hours writing a stupidly long write up!)
 Thumb up
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