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Subject: Mad King, Act III: Look Who's Coming to Dinner... rss

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Jonathan Rowe
United Kingdom
Spalding
Lincolnshire
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In order to make time for writing I must give up working or gaming...
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This time it's my Archer (equipped with the Blackwood Bow and Green Quiver) and Al's Brigand (with Umbral Sword and Thieves Tools). After the tragic death of the Old Soldier, Luke returns with his nephew, the New Soldier (armed with basic Brown Items). My daughter Juliet joins us, taking over the Apprentice (Wand, Bracers of Will, alternating Fragment of Fate or Forsaken Tome in secondary slot) and Juliet has the geek power of "Always Winning" in board games, so this bodes well.

TILE 1: In which Our Heroes crash a Garden Party

This is a big 12x12 with special rules. There's a grill for us Heroes to crawl out of and lurk behind some bushes. The Story mandates two monster groups and we choose Grubbers (because they're classic) and Tailless (because they're cool). We set up the Grubbers in the central benches, having some sort of dance-off with their Mucker Captain MCing. The Tailless are all sat on the far steps around their Rath Captain, jeering and catcalling and generally cracking wise. What a sentimental scene of street culture among monsters. Shame they will all be dead soon...

Because of the tile's special rules we don't bother with a Quest and get right down to it. The first HC has all Actions at -1AP (representing the element of surprise, I suppose) and we take advantage of this to slaughter the Grubbers. We're old hands at Grubber-slaughtering, but once the Tailless activate, things change. Tailless are tricky, see? They have semi-ranged attacks letting them stand at a distance. They move fast. They go for the least Threat. A much more interesting set of opponents than Grubbers. They have rubbish Courage but the only survivor with the Harbinger Title is the Apprentice who's flinging fire from the back anyway.

The Rath Captain is problematic too. His Priority is "Furthest Away" and his Shadow Reach power has him teleporting about the board. That automatic crossbow shoots two targets twice and it really starts to add up in damage terms. On top of which, my Archer has embarked on a personal project called "Rolling the Worst Dice Ever" so even though I throw Orion's Tears and Kharon's Payment at the big rodent, the wretched Rat endures.

In fact, a quirk of Priorities has him lined up with me and the Brigand, all of us watching while the Soldier draws the other monsters to him with well-crafted insults.

We get the measure of him eventually and after that it's mopping up and collecting treasures before the last minion expires. We're aware of have no Acolyte and no healing and this makes us anxious to pick up Whites in the hope of getting Vitality Potions.

Evaluation

The problem with healing has been discussed before. We allow Green or Blue draws to be substituted for 2 or 3 White draws respectively. This ends up giving us Focus Potions and Shadow Potions and a smattering of gold, but no healing. Maybe it would be a good idea if Serendipity could be spent for healing? If 4 Serendipity resurrects dead people, then 3 ought to allow one character to be fully healed. Is that a good idea?

(I'm aware that some Allies who can be summoned for 3 Serendipity have healing powers, but we've not 'earned' those Allies yet.)

Tailless are certainly a hoot. You have to think a bit harder about their Movement and the battle area becomes much more dynamic and unpredictable compared to the familiar logjams you get with Muckers and (especially) Crawlers.

The tile generally has a nice scaling mechanic for Hunting Packs (3 Minions per Hero, a Captain at 9 and another at 15 Minions) which is worth using as a general rule.

TILE 2: In which our Heroes walk down a long corridor...

This tile is actually two 4x6s, positioned at right angles. Does that make it a 4x12 or two separate 4x6 tiles? The rulebook offers no clue so we decide to treat it as a 4x12. The Trap rolls up "Darkness Falls" and we place a pack of 6 Tailless (ignoring the mechanic from the previous tile which would suggest 12 Tailless and 1 Rath but - hey! - Darkness Falls is a tough trap).

First the Soldier fails to disarm the trap, then the Archer continues his run of failure - this despite a Find Weakness Card and a re-roll from the Apprentice's Research Spell. Truly, truly bad dice.

So, this Trap s going OFF and there's nothing we can do about it. We console ourselves slaughtering the Tailless and resign ourselves to the Darkness Meter dropping to max. 5 from now on - very bad news in light of what lies ahead.

In fact, the Trap is quite atmospheric. It is as if the Hermit King is scrying us as we approach, gazing into our souls, tempting us and first the Soldier then the Archer succumbs.

It's time for some help. We spend Serendipity to summon Talek Three Dunes and buy Potions from him. What is the Merchant doing here? Maybe he followed us in or perhaps we rescued him from the Hermit King's dungeons (in which case, why is he charging his rescuers for gear?) or does his appearance represent a "flashback" to earlier, when we bought Potions we only now remember we had. That's a charming idea, especially as we now consume the Vitality Potions.

We hold back 4 Serendipity for a resurrection on the final tile. We're going to need it.

Evaluation

Darkness Falls is one of those (especially) confusing traps, but this is how we run it. At the start of each HC, roll a single FD: the Hero whose symbol matches the die gets attacked by the trap (so re-roll if a symbol comes up that isn't in play). On a roll of Darkness, EVERYONE is attacked by the trap. Victims of the Trap get a disarm roll and if they fail, they take 1 damage and +1AP. If three disarms succeed the Trap disappears but if AP gets to 6 before 3 disarms are accomplished, then the trap takes effect and the Darkness Meter shrinks to 5.

I think this mechanic makes the trap slightly less arbitrary - every HC at least one Hero will get a chance to disarm it.

The ambiguity about whether a right-angle double corridor counts as a 4x12 or two 4x6s is so of-a-piece with the rulebook's general approach to detail as to be not worth further comment.

TILE III: In which Our Heroes attend a society dinner party...

A giant 12x24 tile. Four Lairs. A Mini-Boss. Put it together and it spells EPIC. Oh, and a long table in the middle. No particular rules for that (is it off limits? does it block Line of Sight?).

We place two Grubber Lairs at our end and, on the further tile, a Tailless Lair and, furthest of all, a Crawler Lair. We're sick of Yardu but now we have Keesi & Og - a giant Rat-Troll steered by an impish mini-Grubber. Seems appropriate.

The strategy we adopt is called "Carefully Does It!". We inch into the room, luring the Grubbers into a funnel between the columns where the Appretice has placed Glacier's Grip. We figure if we keep our Threat low we won't wake up the Tailless Lair too. Carefully.... carefully...

The Archer is having none of this. Tile 1 was a humiliation for him and, back in the corridor, the Darkness corrupted him. He wants a glorious immolation. He advances on the nearest Lair with Orion's Tears and a Focus Potion and gives it 5 Arrows. The Blackwood Bow's Fate Recipe causes each Arrow to hit an adjacent Grubber too. That's the Lair gone, 5 Grubbers gone and the Archer with Threat 10. All hell breaks loose.

To make matters worse, the Darkness Card is one of those "Threat Penalties on 8 Threat this time" Events and the Threat Penalty is ANOTHER Mini-Boss - Etrus the Minotaur.

A delirious sequence occurs where Keesi & Og do their suicide run through the other Heroes and Etrus charges in from the other end and the Soldier is sandwiched between them and killed.

Wait a moment... How would things go if the Archer _didn't_ unleash that particular type of hell on us? We all shake hands and agree that, if we allow this to stand, we're dead and done for. A soft reboot is in order.

We return the minis and replay the Archer's assault _without_ swigging the Focus Potion. He doesn't get his Fate Recipe. The Lair dies but the Grubbers don't, the Archer's Threat is only 5, things look better.

There's still Keesi & Og to deal with and a Heavy Spawn that produces a big Mucker. Og savages the Soldier pretty badly but the Brigand has the solution - assassinate Keesi! Not easy (he's TN11 to hit) but a -2TN buff and a ton of D10s help. The Brigand does 3 damage on Keesi and the Umbral Sword drains the rest of his Vitality. Without Keesi to steer Og, the Mini-Boss is down.

Just the Grubbers to deal with while the monsters at the back of the room snooze on. Clearing up Grubbers is a walk in the park - especially when their other Lair conveniently explodes!

Now we can use those Shadow Potions - the ones we were so disappointed to acquire! - to control our Threat so as not to wake the Tailless.

Then we wake the Tailless anyway. The Archer (determined to redeem himself) leaps on the table and lands Kharon's Payment on their Lair. This sends them all swarming towards him.

As I've said before, Tailless are a trickier proposition than Grubbers and their Heavy Spawn is pretty heavy indeed! The Archer knocks out the Lair but only at the cost of activating the Crawlers at the back of the room. Boy, those guys know how to Spawn too!

The Soldier is killed by the Rath Captain, but we resurrect him. The Rath, with his quirky movement and Priorities, is never in one place long enough to be clobbered and his auto-crossbow is proving deadly. Then the Scorpions appear behind the ranks of venom-spitting Crawlers.

When the Soldier dies a second time, the Archer knows enough is enough. Everything the Darkness whispered in his ear is coming to pass. He fails a Courage test against the Stalkers and, with 1 Vitality left, I decide it's time to cut and run. In fact, to Tumble and Hustle. Maybe later, to Sprint.

The Brigand is left in the front line, after taking out the last Stalker.

Then one of those weird things happens. A Darkness Card mandates rolling 1FD and all monsters on the tile target that one Hero. We roll Focus/Arcane which means the horrible hordes ignore me and the Brigand and make straight for the Apprentice. The Apprentice who is a Harbinger and is pretty much undamaged and ringed around with mystic armour. That, my friends, is called "A Break".

You only need one break in a game like Myth - something to break up the enemy's formations and give the Heroes to room to manoeuvre. A delightful Chaotic Overflow takes out the Rath and the last Tailless and the Crawlers, caught in the middle, are decimated. From the jaws of defeat, we appear to have snatched victory.

The Hermit King is nowhere to be found ('natch!) but we have Titles ("Kingslayer") and the Archer gets to keep his Blackwood Bow, the Brigand his Umbral Sword. The Apprentice is now holding 3 Titles and a small arsenal.

What's next?

Evaluation

We were promised "Epic" and "Epic" was delivered.

In case you were wondering, we used the Orcneas Darkness Deck through to the 3rd tile and when that ran out (about when we took on the Tailless) we switched to the Rat King Deck.

The tables in the middle of the room seem to be just local colour. We allowed characters to move over them. In hindsight, this is just the sort of thing Anthony's Random Features rules would be good for (see the

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1294772/random-features

thread for this) - or indeed my own Tricks rules (see the file on

http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/111871/expanded-traps-myth

for this).

Overall, "The Mad King" proved the best scenario so far. It was simple but is hung together coherently - unlike "Stone of Life" which had a cool ending but never really made any sense, or "No Rest for the Weary", which felt like a slog and, if it were a pilot for a TV show, would've ensured the show never got made.

Best so far is still a long way from "great" however. A scenario like this showcases Myth's strengths as a dungeon-crawl monster-mayhem game, but there's no subtlety or drama to it, just a succession of standard fights. Interestingly, I recently got hold of the Kickstarter Exclusive Quest Book and the stories in there are _much_ better - more complex, more atmospheric, offer variations on the routine kick-the-door-in-and-kill-everyone theme.

Are there ways of varying the Myth experience?
How long can dungeon-crawls hold my attention?
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Frank Franco
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deadmarlowe wrote:
Best so far is still a long way from "great" however. A scenario like this showcases Myth's strengths as a dungeon-crawl monster-mayhem game, but there's no subtlety or drama to it, just a succession of standard fights. Interestingly, I recently got hold of the Kickstarter Exclusive Quest Book and the stories in there are _much_ better - more complex, more atmospheric, offer variations on the routine kick-the-door-in-and-kill-everyone theme.

Are there ways of varying the Myth experience?
How long can dungeon-crawls hold my attention?


I'm interested in seeing you tackle those as to me they make a lot less sense (in terms of how to play them.)
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