tiistai 15. maaliskuuta 2016

Seizing the Spellglass Sphere

Greetings readers!

It is time for ExtraBushyBeards' 10th Narrative Battle Report, a quick and brutal "Hold or Die" game between Dark Elves and the Seraphon. The battle setup can be seen here:

A small Seraphon force has found something valuable in the old barrows and a huge Dark Elf army surges forth to seize the prize. Only 1/3 of the Seraphon force was deployed at the start, with the rest acting as reinforcements and relief troops, while the elves had everything on the table right from the beginning. To win, both sides had to slay all the enemy's starting models. Sounds fair, eh?

The Seraphon reinforcements would enter the game at the start of battle round 2. Will the handful of defensive buffs and scenario rules keep the lizards alive long enough for help to arrive? Read on to find out!


It shimmered and shined, radiating golden light like a miniature sun. Mage Priest Tezozomoc held aloft the glass orb about the size of a human head, turning it around in his long-fingered hands while staring into its golden depths where a strange light danced in circles.
He and his Saurus retinue had just discovered an ancient artefact of power, the Spellglass Sphere, hidden in the tombs of the dreaded Blackhill Barrows. This magical object was capable of great deeds, both noble and terrible, and as such it had to be claimed by the Seraphon to be locked up in a celestial sanctuary, far away from the greedy hands of lowlier races.

Once Blackhill had been a thriving city populated by the race of Man, until a weak individual brought about the settlement's doom thousands of years ago. A sorcerer called Memendil had become desperate to obtain more personal power and delved into forbidden arts to reach his goals.
Performing a great ritual at the top of the city's tallest tower, Memendil had cloaked Blackhill in purple flames, incinerating thousands upon thousands of innocent inhabitants in the course of a summer evening. After the flames had died out, a lonely shimmering object had emerged at Memendil's feet, a ball of glass with a flickering light inside it. This was the Spellglass Sphere, a powerful artefact created from the grieving tears of the city's inhabitants as they watched their families burn.
Apalled by the brutality of the deed he had committed, Memendil had hidden the Sphere in the deepest depths of the Blackhill Barrows, sealing himself inside a stone wall alongside the result of his greed.

Now, thousands of years later, Mage Priest Tezozomoc had breached the sorcerer's magical seals and obtained the Spellglass Sphere to take it away into the stars. As he was examining the orb, a Saurus Warrior approached from the dusty barrow doorway. It growled, forming short words in an old language to deliver its message. An enemy was closing in. Elves. Dark Elves.
Heading his floating palanquin towards the door to the surface, Tezozomoc reached out with his mind to warn the rest of his retinue.
"Greedy minds approach. Form defensive circle in the yard," he told his Saurus Warriors and Temple Guards, telepathically placing the orders into the minds of his subordinates.

Up on the surface his followers were already in position. The Mage Priest's personal standard bearer, Cipac, turned to gaze at his master, growling a word. Ready.
All around Tezozomoc his utterly loyal and devoted warriors formed a wall of shields, hissing angrily at the foe emerging from the surrounding ruins. They were ready to fight to the last.

Leading his merciless troops forward, Lord Arocadel flew above the ruined city carried by his strong wings. Down at the barrows he could see a flicker of golden light in the midst of the foe. His prize was there to be taken.
Gesturing his bloodthirsty army to advance to the barrows, Arocadel descended to ground-level, unsheathing his twin daggers. He would see to the success of this battle personally.

Completely surrounded, the Seraphon gazed upon the greedy enemy that advanced towards them with a feverish haste. Disgusted by this emotion-driven horde of lowly elves, Tezozomoc outstretched his right hand to send a bolt of white lightning zigzag across the grassfield to zap into the chest of the closest elven Sorcerer, knocking the enemy mage into the ground.
As the Sorcerer got back to his feet, wounded, the Mage Priest was already casting a new spell. This time there was an echoing eerie scream as the sky itself split open and a group of Saurus Warriors descended from the heavens, accompanied by rays of celestial light. Having thus doubled the numbers of his Warriors, Tezozomoc nodded to his standard bearer. With a zealous roar Cipac drove the end of the standard deep into the soil and drew his celestite warclub. The planted standard began to glow blue, lending extra strength and flexibility to the muscles of all the Saurus that basked in its magical light.

Having done everything they could to brace against the inevitable assault, the Seraphon waited for the enemy to close distance.

Shouting out vile warcries at the tops of their lungs, the elves surged forth. Above them the skies darkened as iron bolts and giant spears arced across the blue vault of the sky, falling amidst the surrounded defenders. Tezozomoc raised his hands and deflected the enemy volleys with magical barriers and force waves, but despite his efforts a couple of his retinue fell to the ground, pierced by elf-forged iron.

Lord Arocadel glided purposefully towards his target: the Spellglass Sphere that rested in the lap of the toad-like Mage Priest. His ascension to power and glory depended on that artefact, and he would not let it slip from his iron grasp.

Like a tidal wave the elves crashed into the barrow yard, throwing themselves at the defenders with no regard for their own lives whatsoever. Spears and cutlasses battered scaly hides and shields, with some blows finding purchase and biting deep into saurian flesh. Lord Arocadel himself crashed straight into the Saurus Warriors, incapacitating lizards with swift strikes from his jagged daggers and throwing the Seraphon shield wall into disarray. When the elven Chariot rammed in, scythed wheels dismembering enemies and the Cold Ones snapping their powerful jaws, the Saurus shieldwall was permanently gone.

On the other side of the barrows the Temple Guard held their line. The charge of the enemy knights was blunted, the ranks of the elite Black Guard were shattered and the enormous War Hydra was fended off, securing this flank for the Seraphon for now. The halberds of the Black Guard and the Hydra's multiple heads picked a couple of Temple Guards from the stout shieldwall, but the lizards did not falter.

Fleetmaster Lokhir Fellheart had joined his corsairs in the assault on the barrows. Weaving his way through the Saurus line with his red blades, Lokhir cleared his way to the planted enemy standard. Scar-Veteran Cipac, the keeper of the standard, stepped in between him and the device, challenging the Fleetmaster to try his luck.
Lokhir charged the Scar-Veteran head-on, hacking brutally with his enchanted scimitars only to have them all blocked by Cipac's indestructible shield. With the star-drake scales of his shield absorbing the initial fury of his adversary, Cipac launched a counter-attack with his warclub. A blow at the ribs, a shield in the face and an enraged bite to the leg left Lokhir Fellheart reeling, until Tezozomoc finished the job. All it needed was a lift of the Mage Priest's finger and a batch of lightning leaped from the runes of his palanquin to engulf the elf lord.
As the smoking carcass of Lokhir Fellheart dropped limply to the ground, the Dark Elf army seemed to lose heart.

Alas, it was not to be! The hope of victory faded away as soon as it had appeared as a new volley of elven missiles rained upon the Seraphon, this time directed against Mage Priest Tezozomoc himself. He managed to block or deflect many of the missiles and even the giant iron spears from the Reaper Bolt Thrower, but the last volley from enemy crossbowmen proved to be too much even for the powerful Slann. Dozens of iron bolts thudded into his flesh, slaying him outright. As the Mage Priest's spirit departed, the magic that held the palanquin aloft faded away and the entire stone throne crashed down, sending Tezozomoc's bloated body rolling on the blood-soaked ground.
The Spellglass Sphere rolled away from the fallen throne, coming to a halt seductively in the open. The artefact with the power to destroy nations now laid uncontrolled on a bed of reddened grass, ready to be claimed by the swiftest.

The remaining Saurus Warriors fell into confusion after their master's death and were quickly cut down by the rampaging elves. Only Cipac and a few Temple Guards were left standing between the Dark Elves and the glowing orb on the ground.

"Ahoooo! Aahooooo! Aaahooooooo!"
A warhorn sounded somewhere near. It was the Seraphon relief force!
Old-Blood Mazatl emerged from the ruins surrounding the barrows, roaring furiously as he saw the fall of Mage Priest Tezozomoc. Gesturing with his starmace, the saurian warlord signaled his cohorts to converge upon the warmbloods and commence slaughter!

Having witnessed the death of the Mage Priest, the relief legions were driven into a mad fury! Saurus Warriors leaped on the nearby Dark Riders, pulling them from their saddles and clubbing them to death with celestite weapons. Swarms of venomous jungle life covered the ground, their poisonous bites claiming the lives of many elves and steeds.
The twin Skink leaders fell upon the wounded elf Sorcerer, stabbing him to death with ritual daggers, while the Skink cohort let loose a volley of glowing arrows aimed at the elves on the barrow yard. The missiles punched through armour and muscle, laying low half a regiment of Dreadspears in one volley!

Amidst the press of elven bodies Cipac the standard bearer still stood beside his glowing standard hacking, kicking, clawing and biting the greedy warmbloods who tried to topple his banner and claim the magical orb. Envigorated by the magics of the standard, Cipac was more than a match for the elf warriors that opposed him. Spears and swords glanced off his thick scaly hide and stardrake shield while his return blows slew with every strike.
The numbers of the enemy seemed endless, however, and after taking a dozen spears stuck into his skin Cipac finally met his end in the form of a Corsair Champion who cut him down with a wicked cutlass.

Only two Temple Guard yet remained to watch over the Spellglass Sphere, surrounded by a sea of foes. Would the elven army break and flee under the weight of the Seraphon relief force, or could they finally slay the Guards and claim their prize?

So it was that the Dark Elves finally prevailed. After hacking apart a regiment of Black Guard, a band of Shades and a group of Cold One Knights, the Temple Guard faced their demise. The War Hydra picked up both of the remaining Saurus in its jaws and tore them apart with its multiple heads, leaving no-one to guard the artefact that lay on the ground.

Lord Arocadel swooped in with his wings and picked up the Spellglass Sphere from the pile of corpses. A wide smile split his pale face, revealing a pretty row of perfectly white teeth.
"We got what we wanted! Fall back and regroup!" the elven noble shouted out, causing his army to immediately turn tail and run.

Having received orders for a full retreat the elves disengaged and ran away. Many were still slain by the vengeful Seraphon as they unleashed their rage upon the murderers of their master, Saurus Warriors mauling every elf within weapon's reach and the Skinks loosing a final volley to decimate the band of Corsairs.

Lord Arocadel and his army escaped with their prize, albeit with heavy casualties. Old-Blood Mazatl and his legions secured the barrows and claimed the bodies of Tezozomoc and Cipac, to be taken to the sacred star-fortresses for a proper burial.
This was not all, however. Mazatl gazed after the fleeing enemy, feeling his natural hunter's instinct awaken. There would be a pursuit to reclaim the Spellglass Sphere and avenge Master Tezozomoc!


A rather quick game, that one!
To some the outcome of this battle might have seemed obvious, but it really was a close game. Had my Temple Guard held up a couple of more turns, my relief force would've had the time to slay the enemy or drive them away from the Temple Guard. Now the game ended at the bottom of battle round 2, unfortunately for me.

It was a great game and I didn't actually feel like the game was unfair in any way. It was so much fun and the elven victory was hard-won (and costly)! The most interesting thing is, we didn't use any balance method, not even Wound count. We just deployed models on the table until both of us were satisfied. I could say this kind of "unbalanced" deployment has its own appeal! At least when both players are true  gentlemen (or proper ladies), that is...

sunnuntai 13. maaliskuuta 2016

Watchers of the Way

Hi there!

After quite a while I have finally got something painted again. This time I had some Ironbreakers and my girlfriend's Waywatchers on the workbench, and here are the results:

The Waywatchers! Very nice models in my opinion, old metallic ones. There are a total of 6 models with four different pose variations: the two with knives, the two clearly females, the one leaning on a tree stump and the one reaching for an arrow.
I basecoated them black and applied the chosen palette: dark green & turquoise. My girlfriend wanted them to have a darker theme than the rest of her army, kind of like a forest at night. Thus I used turquoise quite freely, especially in edge highlights for the dark green parts. I bet they'll look very nice on finished terrain bases!

Regrettably I didn't get to put them on round bases. The whole army thus far stands on squares, so the aesthetically more suitable round bases were not an option anymore... 

The same unit from behind. Blond hair is the special thing that unites this whole Wood Elf / Wanderer Aelf army, with the only exception being the Spellweaver who will get a nice fiery red hair.
The dark & turquoise theme pops up better in this pic, as the dominant colour on the models is the one on the cloaks.

She prohibited the use of gold on her models as she prefers silver, but in this unit I managed to sneak in a few golden parts. My explanation was simple: "Honey, if your knives and swords are pure and shiny steel, the guard and the pommel shouldn't be silver as it would look like I'm just a lazy painter."

For once, I got it my way.

And finally, my Ironbreakers! These are the ones I bought from the Spanish Momminiaturas, very neat (and cheap!) models after a good hour of cleanup. You can find my closer review on the models here, in one of my previous posts.

There was no command group in the box, so I lack a musician and a standard bearer. An Ironbeard champion I managed to create, though, and he's standing in the middle of the front row, distinguishable by his grey beard and a raised axe.
Perhaps I'll attach a banner on one model's back or something, or I'll just use the command group of my older metallic Ironbreakers when the need arises.

With these units finished, I'm now searching my endless hoards of models for something more to paint. Right now it looks like my desk is going to be filled with Dwarf Warriors, Sisters of the Thorn and a mighty Forest Dragon!

And who knows, there might be a new Narrative Battle Report coming up...

sunnuntai 6. maaliskuuta 2016

A Breeze From the Past

Greetings everyone!

Today I'll tell you about a little find I made while helping a relative to clean up a garage. Here's what popped up:
Yes, it's a HeroQuest boardgame from 1989 designed by Stephen Baker and published by Milton Bradley & Games Workshop! And quess what, it also has the "Kellar's Keep" expansion inside! It's a translated version (Finnish) but that doesn't bother me at all.

At first, I didn't recognize it when the relative came to me asking if I needed any old boardgames. In the pile there where a couple of games, one of which caught my attention. "HeroQuest..." I thought, "why does it sound so familiar?"
Not before I had opened the lid to look inside did I realize that  the booklets had "Games Workshop" written in the corner and the models were easily recognizable. At that moment I knew what I held in my hands, and now it's one of my most valued treasures!
The game itself is in very good condition. The cards, the board, the "furniture" and the models were all well kept, but the box itself had suffered a bit. As far as I'm aware there's nothing missing from the game, except for the "Mummy" and "Skeleton" monster cards which I could easily find on the web. Quite many of the character sheets were already used, but I photocopied a bank one to get many many new ones! Now let's take a closer look at the contains of the box...
The models! Here are the Dwarf and Elf hero models on the front, and behind them are some of the game's monsters: a Zombie, a Mummy, a Chaos Warrior, a Fimir, a Goblin, an Orc and the Gargoyle!
Quite many of them have a certain GW-ish look on them, don't you think? The Orcs, Goblins and the Chaos Warriors are the ones that strongly remind me of old GW models, as does the Fimir - they were a legal and playable Warhammer race at some point after all!
Some cards, the Chaos Warlock model and the game's special dice. The cards are in Finnish (as I told you earlier, this game is a translated version) but they're written in a very oldish-sounding Finnish that's actually a bit amusing, so I don't mind. It still fits the atmosphere of the game and the translations are very good!
As I mentioned a few sentences ago all the cards are still there and in good condition, except for the Mummy and Skeleton cards. The booklets are also well-kept and clean, so I could start studying the rules straight away!
This final pic is from the adventure booklet that contains the various missions of the basic "vanilla" game. What you're looking at now is the very first mission called "the Crucible", in which the players must seek out the tomb of a deceased wizard and return back to their Mentor alive. Of course, this map is meant for the eyes of the Games Master only as it advises him how to set up the board as the players advance through the rooms.

A very valuable and nice find, to me at least. We've already played through a couple of missions in a small group with me acting as the Games Master, and it's been a blast! When you set up actual plastic-and-cardboard furniture inside the drawn outlines of rooms and open doors finding funny-looking monsters to fight with your heroes the time just flows by. The game has a real adventure feeling that one couldn't hope to get from a video game, for example!
One grows to love his/her hero models. Naming them, designing a personal coat of arms and a motto, playing through various missions with them, purchasing gear and finding treasures really makes you feel like role-playing!

I hope everyone would still give boardgames a chance. They have something video games do not, and it's very similar to the feeling I get when playing Age of Sigmar or other tabletop games. I think it has something to do with the social and getting-to-grips-with aspect that these kinds of games posses. They are some real, actual fun!