We had a huge battle! Lots of critters died! It was awesome.
Art by Mike Krahulik.
Copyright Penny Arcade / Lone Shark Games
• Glider pack attack! As the Judge I got to roll 30 attack dice in a single round! (5 attacks x 6 dice each). Handing out 15 wounds to the Guard and 11 wounds to the Sage at the same time was amazing XD
• The Sage handed back all of those wounds! Verdant Shield blocked everything and it went straight back into the wound deck! ugh XD (but as a player, a very cool ability)
• The Blade evades death! The Blade used Dodge to remove the die that would have killed him and ended the battle in Thornwatch failure (emptied the entire wounds deck). Very useful maneuver.
• Empty fireball! The Sage tried to use their biggest attack spell (Fireball) on a big group of Gliders, but rolled all misses! 0, 0, 2, 3, 3. Thanks for the free ebb and not killing any of my monsters!
• Sage revenge! The Sage later combined the Bridge of Ages terrain effect (+1 die on all hero rolls in that area) with Rend Earth to roll 3 dice for each Glider again! They killed four Gliders in one turn.
• Trail of Blood! The Blade used Trail of Blood to dance across three areas and slice off two enemies! (even as the Judge I love this skill; can't ever have too much of it).
• Seven monsters dead in one turn! Because the party had coordinated and knocked the Gliders to the edge of the Momentum track, attacks from the remaining two players killed Glider pawns outright. This meant 2 kills for the Blade and 5 for the Sage, taking out 7 enemies in a single turn. Savage. (it turns out I had the rules wrong and we were playing incorrectly, but it was still fun)
• Somebody planned ahead! The Guard actually used Plan, which let him go first next round no matter what. It was cool to see how this ability worked, and it actually prevented the large pack of Gliders from smashing the Thornwatch and ending the game. The Guard was able to damage the Gliders before their turn, knocking them down the Momentum track so the remaining Thornwatch could play their turns and recover. Very useful.
Three players, one of whom had never played Thornwatch before. This brings my total to 8 new players introduced to Thornwatch and/or boardgames and roleplaying.
Party: Guard, Blade, and Sage. The players from last session each tried new classes this time (Guard -> Blade and Blade -> Sage).
Setup time: 15 minutes (including explaining the rules to the new player)
Play time: 52 minutes
Final Outcome: decisive Judge victory! Twice. But we kept playing the scene anyway to have more fun and see what would happen.
Scene: Signs and Portents
Signs and Portents scene title.
Art by Mike Krahulik. Copyright Penny Arcade / Lone Shark Games
Custom Victory Condition
Because the scene doesn't specify a victory condition (I asked about that here) I made one up: after all objective tokens are gone or all enemies are dead, the party collectively rolls 5d10. If they get 4 or more successes, they win! They have found enough trace of the tracks to continue following. Otherwise they fail - tracks washed out. For each objective token the players picked up during the scene they would get 1 additional die to roll at the end, hopefully encouraging them to grab the tokens.
Time to be a Jerk- er, I mean Judge
Last time I went easy on the players. This time: no. I wanted to test the limits of the Judge roll and see if the game could be competitive. It was fun.
I placed Ebb Well and both Ley Line terrain cards to grant me lots of ebb (Judge currency), and spent all of it purchasing all eight Gliders included in the print-and-play.
I sent three of the Gliders to cover objective markers so I could pick them up in future rounds. The rest honed in on the party and went for blood. Playing the Gliders as a pack was much more effective. I also used Ebb Well ebb plus some unlucky player rolls to purchase Ebb Infusion and buff the monster stats before their biggest attack.
The battle was fierce, over multiple rounds, with blows on both sides. At one point I dealt 26 damage in one round, enough to exhaust the wound deck and defeat the players. The Sage had played a Verdant Shield, however, which lets them return wounds on top of their deck to the wound deck. Since the Judge decides the order of enemy attacks, I could have dealt damage to the Guard first, and then the Sage, exhausting the wound deck. However, I thought it would be much more fun to keep playing the game, so I chose to damage to the Sage first. The Sage was then able to activate their Shield and return the wounds to the wound deck, so the deck had enough wounds remaining to hand to the Guard. First Judge victory! But we kept going.
Later in the same round I had two remaining Glider attacks, and only one wound card left in the deck. I attacked the Blade, and would have killed him and won the game - but he Dodged! The Blade was able to choose and discard two of my dice after the roll was made. This was a very nice use of the card by the player. I could have then used my second attack to deal one guaranteed point of Glide damage, but again thought it would be more fun to keep playing and see what happened. Everyone was enjoying the game. So I ignored the attack and ended the round. Second Judge victory!
After this the party closed in on the Gliders and ended the fight. As noted above the Sage cast several large spells and many dice were rolled
The Sage takes a stand against a pack of Gliders.
Art by Mike Krahulik.
When the last objective token was pulled (by me), the players rolled for victory. They had found 4 objective tokens, so rolled 9 dice, needing successes on at least 5 of the dice.
*drumroll*...They failed! The players only rolled 4 successes, leaving our custom victory condition in failure. The tracks eluded them - third Judge victory!
Just for fun we resolved the rest of the combat, and the Thornwatch mopped up the remaining Gliders.
Only after the session did I re-read the wound rules and realize we were playing incorrectly. The rules say that when a monster is killed their Momentum card is moved back up the track - "as many spaces towards the root as you would when initially resolving the momentum track at the start of the round". We didn't do this, and it makes a big difference. Because the players coordinated their attacks they were able to kill 5 Gliders in one round. With proper rules they would have only killed 3. At least we know for next time.
The players did a good job of cooperating - attacking Gliders to move the Momentum card onto the edge so the other player could make a kill.
The Sage even used their Heart Of Power ability to help the Guard draw extra cards, simply to put more wound cards in the Guard's hand and use them up sooner, so more wounds could be returned to the wound deck at the end of the turn. This was clever, and it's neat that player abilities can be used in multiple ways.
A lot of damage was dealt by monsters, and things can become deadly very fast! The players also had no healer and no Hero Dice, which likely would have made a big difference.
Perhaps if you want to speed up play you could houserule that players earn Hero Dice over time, regardless of roleplaying. For example, perhaps they roll a die at the end of their turn, and earn a Hero Die on success. I prefer roleplaying, but this could be an option for people who don't.
It was a fun game!