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Subject: Game 2: The Dragon's Lair (pictorial) rss

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Merric Blackman
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After our first game of Wrath of Ashardalon, it was time for a second. This time, I wanted to see a bit more of the new mechanics of the game, so I turned to the final "full" scenario in the book: Adventure 12, The Wrath of Ashardalon.

(The final adventure in the book is actually a campaign, which could be as many as 14 linked adventures. We didn't quite have the time for that... but it sounds really fun!)

Perusing the special components needed gave me this list:
* Start Dungeon Tile (huh)
* Dire Chamber Entrance Tile
* 5 Dire Chamber Tiles
* Horrid Chamber Entrance Tile
* 5 Horrid Chamber Tiles
* Unknown Overlord Chamber Card
* Ashardalon's Lair Chamber Card
* Ashardalon figure and Villain card
* Ashardalon Breathes! Encounter Card
* Monster Tokens

That's a fairly hefty list of special components, and it took us a little while to get organised - partly due to the game still being half-unpunched! (We'd dived right into the first game).

Mark went off to do store-ownery things, so Josh and I drafted Marcus into playing a third character this game. Josh and I chose characters that hadn't been played in the first game, and Marcus, after asking which of the remaining characters had ranged attacks, chose the one character that didn't have any!

So, heading off into the dungeon were:
Merric - playing a Dwarf Fighter
Josh - playing a Human Cleric
Marcus - playing a Elf Paladin



Here's my character, his powers and starting item:


And so, into the dungeon we went! Once more, I won the die roll and moved first...

It wasn't long before we were under attack - by three monsters having revealed only two tiles! This was due to one of them calling for help (an encounter card). My dwarf was surrounded by the Cave Bear, the Orc Smasher and the Cultist and was already wondering what exactly he was doing in this dungeon.

Our overall goal was to find the Horrid Chamber that held Ashardalon. We knew that lay somewhere between the 9th and 12th tile of the dungeon stack, but before it (somewhere in the 1st and 8th tile) would be the Dire Chamber that held his chief servant. What was that servant? We didn't know: it could be one of six separate villains. (And, if you wanted to combine Wrath with Castle Ravenloft you could add even more possibilities...)



Although we didn't have good area attacks - indeed, about none of us could attack more than one opponent per round - somehow we were able to defeat the first trio of villains. Marcus sent his paladin forward to investigate, and discovered a Snake waiting for him. It would subsequently poison him - not the last time he'd be poisoned in this adventure!



In the next picture, there are actually two elements that are mistakes we made when playing. The first is the placement of a Long Hallway without the addition of another tile at its end. I've no idea how we did that - I assume Marcus placed the tile (as he hadn't played before) and failed to note the special text.

The other tile that is wrong is the Tunnel Exit tile. This was something that I didn't realise, not having read the rulebook in detail before we started: only the standard dungeon tiles are used in every game. You remove the horrid chamber and dire chamber entrance tiles, along with the tunnel exit tile, the secure exit tile and the vault tile before playing (Rulebook page 4). So, dead-ends aren't something that will happen that often in the game. (You can still get the effect of passages the lead nowhere, or the false doors which exist in this picture).

Hidden Snipers made their existence felt, especially since the group was now somewhat scattered, with monsters approaching from a number of directions. We were taking far more damage than in our first game, though (thanks to Josh's cleric) we had more healing. As yet, we hadn't used any scenario special rules, either!



I moved to explore further whilst Josh and Marcus caught up. I discovered a Long Hallway of my own, which held a Cave Bear and a Kobold Dragonshield (as the Kobold appeared in the nearby section of the hallway, it couldn't summon more monsters and instead moved to attack me).

Meanwhile, Josh discovered that the intersection that led to me had filled up with Volcanic Vapors (through an Encounter Card). For the rest of the game, whoever passed through that tile would become poisoned - and Marcus was on the far side in a dead end passage! Oh, Josh and Marcus were going to take some damage getting through there; luckily, Josh could use his Sacred Flame power to do some healing and end the Poisoned condition to ameliorate the worst of it.



Marcus found a Flying Carpet on the body of one of the monsters he slew, and he used it to proceed down the long corridor that stretched in front of us. I moved forward to explore: another Kobold Dragonshield, which summoned a Gibbering Mouther! At least the Mouther started far enough back so that it couldn't attack me immediately, but I shouted for reinforcements and from behind came the cry, "We'll get there... sometime!



A few interesting things happened in the next couple of turns. The first is that I drew the Duergar Outpost card: it's a fascinating card, which reorders the monster deck: you draw the top 5 cards, discard any that aren't devils, then place the remaining cards (shuffled) on top of the deck - which means the next encounter or three will be with devil cards (Legion Devils, Duergar). It's a very nice way of theming the next set of encounters.

The next thing that happened is that Josh discovered the Dire Chamber Entrance tile, and the first chamber appeared in the game. Chambers are wonderful - and not a little scary. You immediately draw from a separate "Dire Chamber" tile stack (they've got different backs so are easily distinguished) and place chamber tiles adjacent to all the the first (there's also a "Large Dire Chamber" tile which causes the chamber to become even bigger!

This also triggered the placement of Ashardalon's lieutenant. Reading the instructions on the Unknown Overlord card, we discovered we had to randomly select one of the monster tokens, and that would be the overlord we fought. (Due to that design, you can easily include the Castle Ravenloft villains). It proved to be Krash, Orc Storm Shaman.

Then each of us drew an additional monster card and placed them on the chamber tiles (unoccupied tiles first). That gave us a Duergar Shaman and a Legion Devil... no, not one Legion Devil, but three Legion Devils! Whenever you place a single Legion Devil, you place all of them remaining... and you only get the XP bonus when all are slain. Marcus also drew a Legion Devil card. Three devils... it must be because of the Duergar Outpost!

Having two players holding Legion Devil cards was scary: all three would activate on two player turns! It's another way that Wrath moves past some of the basic ideas presented in Castle Ravenloft.



What was in our favour was that there was only a narrow gap through which the monsters could attack, and the Legion Devils were somewhat discomforted by this. Josh managed to knock back the Duergar with an attack whilst also slaying a Legion Devil. Whilst this was sort of nice, it meant that the next few turns would see the Duergar placing new tiles and summoning more monsters!

Kraash, the Orc Storm Shaman, was proving frightfully inaccurate, which we were very grateful for. Every so often, he'd knock one of us back a square with his Windstorm attack, but mostly he was missing us. This was mostly due to us possessing a fine selection of magic armour and shields we'd found in the dungeon. Marcus and I had both also gained a level by this time (much to Josh's frustration, who could only roll natural 20s when he made monster attacks, not attacks on monsters).



Our Experience Point pile was rapidly dwindling as we staved off scary encounters that otherwise could have wrecked us: things like Lava Flow and Volcanic Burst (the latter attacks each hero, dealing 3 damage on a hit or 1 on a miss!)

We finally slew the Gibbering Mouther, then took out Kraash, who really hadn't had a very good time against us. An Orc Archer appeared in response to an encounter card, but Josh moved next to it so it couldn't use its bow. The Duergar Guard summoned a Human Cultist, and we just spent a few turns getting rid of monsters: it would be bad to meet Ashardalon with too many other monsters on the table!



We made another rules error here: when a villain dies, the card counts for XP (we assume equal to its level). We just discarded the card. The XP could have come in handy later.

You may not have noticed the Grell in the background of the last few pictures: an Encounter on my turn placed it and a new tile next to any unexplored map edge. So, I chose one a long, long way away. It would spend the rest of the game trying to reach us.

After a bit, we'd slain most of the monsters and explored a few new tiles. Still no sign of Ashardalon's Lair. Where was the dragon? 15 standard tiles had been placed, but several were due to monster special abilities, which places them from the bottom of the Dungeon Tile stack, so that they don't count towards how far it is to the lair. Oh, and we'd also hit the Lost! encounter card, which puts the bottom tile on top of the deck.



I tried another archway: was the lair there? No, it wasn't: a Cave Bear was instead. The Grell moved closer. By this time, all of us had pretty impressive equipment.

Marcus had a Crossbow of Speed, a Captain America's Shield (throwing shield) and a Potion of Speed. I had a Blessed Shield (+2 to my AC and all other heroes on the same tile) and Gauntlets of Ogre Power (+1 to my attacks against adjacent enemies), as well as a Staff of the Elements (+2 to my attacks within 1 tile). Josh was doing the poorest for equipment, but at least we were all still alive, though very low on hit points.



And then he appeared, Ashardalon himself, in the middle of the Horrid Chamber. We drew the Large Horrid Chamber tile, so it was even bigger than normal: a massive chamber, and Ashardalon and some of his minions, a Human Cultist, a Gibbering Mouther and a Orc Archer stood before us. We actually had to reshuffle the Monster deck at this time (we'd drawn a few lair/outpost cards that had discarded a number of cards).

Ashardalon appeared on Josh's turn, and moved closer to the three of us.

We also shuffled his special attack card, Ashardalon's Breath into the top three cards of the Encounter deck: every few turns, he'd breathe fire on us, and we'd not enjoy that at all. We were low on hit points, but we had two healing surges left. Surely we could triumph?



Josh moved up and also attacked, but Marcus was this time to dodge the tail and was knocked back a tile. He was also affected by Dragon Fear (a Encounter Card) and would take one damage for each tile he entered! As a character with mainly only melee attacks, this was bad.



The next tail swipe by Ashardalon knocked back both Josh and me, and Josh was dazed by an encounter card... this was not good. The Cave Bear jumped on me, reducing me to a lone hit point. The Grell was now a mere two tiles away from me - would it finally be able to attack?



Marcus moved up and attacked with shield, crossbow and sword (it sounds odd, but the combination of cards allowed him to do it). He hit with shield and crossbow, but not the more effective sword. Ashardalon responded by breathing fire on Marcus and me, and that was enough to reduce us both to zero hit points. We fell over, dying, and Josh looked on in horror as Ashardalon advanced towards him.



I used a healing surge to stand up, but I was also dazed from a previous Encounter card, and I chose to slay the Cave Bear before me. Josh had previously healed Marcus, only for the monsters to knock him out again. Ashardalon advanced on Josh and knocked him down. Josh on 0 hit points, Marcus on 0 hit points... and only one healing surge left. The mission teetered on the brink of disaster. Ashardalon had two hit points left. Could we slay him? It was all down to Marcus.



As I mentioned before, Marcus would have three attacks. He stood up, spending our last healing surge, and rolled his attack with the Crossbow of Speed... he missed.

He rolled his attack with the Throwing Shield... he missed.

He rolled his attack with his Holy Strike... he rolled a natural 20 and dealt 3 damage to Ashardalon. The Great Wyrm fell, and we were victorious!

It was victory snatched from the jaws of defeat, as we would have lost the very next turn as Josh was on zero hit points with no healing surges remaining. The game had taken about 80 minutes, and we were delighted when the dragon fell.



So that was the end of the second game for the day, after which I had to leave. I'll likely play a few more games of Wrath of Ashardalon in the next few days, and I'll endeavour to put more pictorial session reports up when I get the chance. We haven't yet played a game where we got all the rules right, but those we have had wrong have been minor and haven't affected our enjoyment of the game.

For those interested in how my character ended up, with all its gear and so forth, you can see it here:



For those interested in how long these session reports take to write: it's a while. I think this one has possibly taken slightly longer than the actual game took to play (about 90 minutes)!

I hope you've gotten an idea of some of the different aspects Wrath of Ashardalon brings to this series of games. The heart of the game remains mostly unchanged, but the experience does differ in some respects. If you really didn't like Castle Ravenloft, I doubt you're going to like Wrath, although I might be mistaken. The game is what it is: a fast, furious expedition into a deadly dungeon with a lot of combat and (especially in this version) gaining of treasure. To linger is to perish, but to press forward too quickly can be bad as well!

We used all of our XP in this game by the end - and we slew a lot of monsters. Knowing when to avoid encounters is one of the keys of the game. We had single-use items that allowed us to recharge our powers a couple of times: both times we gave them to Josh's cleric to recharge his healing ability, something we're very glad we did given the close finish.

I'm very much looking forward to trying the campaign scenarios, and to seeing some of the other mechanics the game uses. It really is a game that you can expand yourself, and combining it with Castle Ravenloft looks fascinating: I was already thinking of a very interesting (and deadly) monster deck using the best from both sets.

So, until I have the chance to sit down at a computer again and relate some of my other recent boardgaming adventures, I bid you a very good night!
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Another excellent report. Looking forward to reading one where the doors are also used, and possibly the NPCs
 
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Rauli Kettunen
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Is there a noticeable chance of getting multiple free attacks per turn, like that last turn of the game?
 
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Jake Di Toro
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MerricB wrote:




This picture leaves me a bit puzled. I don't have my copy, so I haven't seen the official rules on Chambers. But it would make sense that if you explore off of a chamber tile then you would continue to draw chamber tiles, and not tiles from the general stack.

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K.Y. Wong
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Wow, that was a pretty epic for a short game! Loved the idea of there being a mid-game boss to deal with before meeting Ashardalon.

The Duergar Outpost encounter is a great new mechanism. I immediately had ideas for similar custom cards like:
- Volcanic Activity: discard cards that are not Hazards.
- Skeletal Remains: discard cards that are not Traps.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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karrde wrote:
MerricB wrote:




This picture leaves me a bit puzled. I don't have my copy, so I haven't seen the official rules on Chambers. But it would make sense that if you explore off of a chamber tile then you would continue to draw chamber tiles, and not tiles from the general stack.



He played correctly. When you draw a Chamber Tile, you add to its direct sides (i.e. you would add 3 more tiles, if possible), unless you draw the "Large" chamber tile as one of those 3 additional tiles, then you add to its sides as well. So the most you would have of a chamber is 6: the initial chamber, 2 normal sides, the large chamber and its two sides.

-shnar
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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chromaticdragon wrote:
Wow, that was a pretty epic for a short game! Loved the idea of there being a mid-game boss to deal with before meeting Ashardalon.


Wasn't Strahd's adventure a lot like that too in CR? His "bodyguard"?

Anyways, this was the adventure we played first as well. Might as well go for gold! We drew our Chamber tile really early though and boy does that add a lot of monsters. We were missing a good AOE dealer too (we had 4 heroes, and no one picked the wizard) so made for some tough fights.

Nice report

-shnar
 
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K.Y. Wong
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shnar, you're right. I guess with the "bodyguard" having his own bodyguards, it really comes across more strongly as a mid-level boss encounter.
 
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Merric Blackman
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Dam the Man wrote:
Is there a noticeable chance of getting multiple free attacks per turn, like that last turn of the game?


There are 32 Treasure Cards in all. The ones that give you extra attacks are...

THROWING SHIELD (no action, +6 attack, 1 damage)
CROSSBOW OF SPEED (move action, +4 attack, 1 damage)
RING OF SHOOTING STARS (no action, one use, +8 attack, 1 damage)

And that's it. So, you need one or more of those items - Marcus just had two of them, and the two permanent ones at that!

Cheers!
 
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Rauli Kettunen
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Alright, sounds better, was worried you might get a bunch of heroes zapping 3 times per turn each gulp .
 
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You also cannot use them during the same turn. There's a tidbit in the rules that talks about using only one item that give to AC, and one item that gives a ToHit bonus. I don't have my manual with me so cannot give an exact quote (when are you posting that PDF, WotC?!?) but the idea I believe was to keep one hero from stacking a bunch of "bonus" items (i.e. having 4 different sword items gaining a bonus from each).

-shnar
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If its like Merric described in the first session, you use the highest of the attack bonusses and the highest of the AC ones, but you gain all special abilities of the items.

Also I think you missed the new movement rule where monsters move from scorch mark to scorch mark if they use tile movement wow
 
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Merric Blackman
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Infyra wrote:
Also I think you missed the new movement rule where monsters move from scorch mark to scorch mark if they use tile movement wow


I did. I didn't really have the time to review the rules in detail before we played, but we'll get it right next time.

Cheers,
Merric
 
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Keith M. Sandler
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Infyra wrote:

Also I think you missed the new movement rule where monsters move from scorch mark to scorch mark if they use tile movement wow


Do we think it was intended then, that in CR monster tile movement should be from bone pile to bone pile? Has anyone tried that yet?

Great report, btw. I'm loving some of the new monsters. Nice to see the Grell make an appearance, as well as the gibbering mouther. Getting excited for my copy to arrive. :-)

--kMs
 
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Merric Blackman
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Dark Son wrote:
Do we think it was intended then, that in CR monster tile movement should be from bone pile to bone pile?


It wasn't orignally intended in CR. Peter Lee explains in this post:

"The monster placement change directly impacts speed of play -- I don't want people debating on where to place the monsters too much."

Cheers,
Merric

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Andrew Swan
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Excellent write-up, keep'em coming!

By the way, how much table space does it take to play this game? I'm starting to worry that my dining table won't be big enough!
 
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Do you really start with five powers in Wrath?
 
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Merric Blackman
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Curtis Anderson wrote:
Do you really start with five powers in Wrath?


You do in CR as well, for the most part: two at-will powers, one utility power, one daily power and one set power (often racial, but occasionally class-based).

Cheers!
 
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Merric Blackman
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game_boy wrote:
Excellent write-up, keep'em coming!

By the way, how much table space does it take to play this game? I'm starting to worry that my dining table won't be big enough!


It depends a bit on the scenario. And the size of the dining table! I've played CR on relatively small tables fine; you just need to be a bit careful about where you put your character powers.

Cheers,
Merric
 
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MerricB wrote:
Curtis Anderson wrote:
Do you really start with five powers in Wrath?


You do in CR as well, for the most part: two at-will powers, one utility power, one daily power and one set power (often racial, but occasionally class-based).

Cheers!


It just looked like you were starting with five power cards.
 
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That IS five: 2+1+1+1=5
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Keith M. Sandler
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UndeadScottsman wrote:
That IS five: 2+1+1+1=5




1+2+1+1...

Good shot, Green. Oh, VERY good.

--kMs
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I think there are more power cards available to the Heroes (though they all still start with 5). It seemed that there were more power cards left over after we started...

-shnar
 
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Another great session report and photos. Keep up the good work and please keep these session and photo reports coming. I cant wait to get my copy of this game.
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Merric Blackman
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shnar wrote:
I think there are more power cards available to the Heroes (though they all still start with 5). It seemed that there were more power cards left over after we started...

-shnar


Each hero has ten cards.

Cheers,
Merric
 
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