Monday, September 17, 2018

Death in a Gorilla-Haunted Jungle Clearing

Joel's Squirrels arrive first and survey the battlefield, eyeing the Central Treasure with the pirate loot
After freeing the prisoners of the Ratmen, the Raccoons and Squirrel crews agreed to share the information they provided. As it turned out, the prisoners belonged to a notorious pirate and treasure hunter -- who none mourned as he lay slain by the ratmen. However, the Raccoons and Squirrels were able to convince the freed crewmen into telling them the location of their buried treasure. They immediately set sail for the island, little realizing the Mice, Pine Marten, Jungle Rat, and Crushers crews were tailing them.
The archway of the Central Treasure was hotly contested by the Mice and the Pine Martens
According to the survivors of the pirate crew, the captain's treasure lay buried beneath a massive stone archway, decorated with stone heads staring out in all directions. Six ships anchored off the island, and six crews crept stealthily through the jungle. The haunting sounds of gorilla calls made the treasure seekers nervous, as they searched for the archway. We were playing "X Marks the Spot" from the Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago rulebook. We used one central treasure and then each player placed two minor treasures. All began 31 inches from the central treasure, though only the Pine Martens and the Mice seemed to move towards it in the early going.
The Crushers' Hunter Yoti, at top, and Badger crewman Buckey eyeball a treasure to see if others will go for it
Since we had five players, I stepped in to make it an even six, using my Crushers crew that fared relatively poorly last time. In addition, I realized I had not even spent my Heritor's experience -- d'oh! Still, we had a successful outing. We decided to be flexible and move forward without making a beeline for any particular treasure. We had the Pine Martens on our right, and our nemesis the Mice on our left. With both our neighbors going all out for the central treasure, that left us with the opportunity to snatch up a number of minor ones.
Bentley secures the treasure while Yoti sneaks around the giant stone stature to stalk another treasure he spotted
I not-so-wisely sent both my Wolverine Heritor Hugh, and Wolverine Warden Jack, off by themselves, splitting my group as far as command and control. Hugh used Wraithwalk a number of times to move through thick patches of jungle with no penalty. Jack cast Beast Strength on most of the crew, after another "successfull" Beast Call. To my friends' amazement (and amusement), I continued to defy the odds on rolling up a random encounter after successfully casting Beast Call. If the last game went 6-7 turns, then this one went about the same. It wasn't until the final turn of this game that I actually rolled a 10+ on a 20-sided die to summon a random encounter. That is about 11 straight misses on a 50//50 chance!
Our nemesis, the Mice crew, snag a treasure early on...while unfortunately leaving their Warden to snipe at us again with lighting bolts!
Still, some monsters showed up after players quickly began snatching up treasures. Two gorillas and a Frog-man Warrior showed up, with each monster killing a crew members. This was a fairly lethal game, with the hated Mice losing their Heritor an almost losing their Warden. Specialist crew members from two other crews died, as well. My Crushers were doing great, though. We suffered no casualties and managed to snatch up four treasures -- the most of anyone. Along the way, we wrought vengeance on the Mice -- whose Warden continued to take Lightning Bolt potshots at us whenever he had the chance. My hunter Yoti and Warden Jack ambushed him, though, wounding him and forcing him to use Windwalk to get away.
This time we counter-attacked the Mice vermin! Yoti delivers a deep wound to their Warden, while Jack prepares to engage one of their crewmen (who would later be finished off by Yoti)
Buckey and Bentley, my loyal Badger crew members, each snagged a treasure and made it off-table. Both Yoti and the Heritor Hugh grabbed treasures, then dropped them to go Mice Hunting. Eventually, both made their way back to their treasures. With the Mice Heritor dead and the Warden fleeing the table, we decided to call it a victory and withdraw.
Two members of the Jungle Rats crew advance past a large, stone idol in search of treasure
Meanwhile, the battle between the Mice and the Pine Martens for the central treasure went back and forth. The Pine Marten Heritor grabbed it and moved off, only to be chased down by a Wraithwalking Mice Heritor. A deep gash from the Mice Heritor's two-handed sword, saw the Pine Marten summoning his crew to his aid. Two responded, but the Mice had the better of the three in the second round, as well. Frustrated, the Pine Marten Warden cast Wind Blast and hurled the Mouse nuisance away. A crossbow bolt and Raccoon arrow weakened the Mouse Heritor, who decided to flee. The Raccoon archer took one long range shot at him as he fled into the jungle and amazingly scored a hit, dropping him.
The Jungle Rats' Warden secures a treasure, which will be handed off to a crewmen to carry back to their ship 
After losing one crewman to the Frog Warrior, the Squirrel Heritor charged into the fray and cut the interloper down. Content with one treasure, the Squirrels then withdrew from the clearing. Another gorilla had appeared, and with Raccoon arrows flying everywhere, they decided to the call it a day. The Jungle Rats were dodging the attacks of gorillas, and cursed as the Pine Martens disappeared with the central treasure. They moodily and reluctantly withdrew, shaking their fists at the harassing fire of the Raccoons. All crews except the Squirrels got at least two treasures, with my Crushers taking four and the Squirrels one. As more gorilla calls rang out through the jungle, the treasure hunters decided to hurry back to their ships with what they'd found.
Although in position to contest for the central treasure, the Squirrels decided to hang back and fight off the Frog Warrior who wandered into the glade
After the game, the players decided to increase our crew size from five to six. We felt that we needed more because a crewman who takes a treasure off board is lost for the rest of the game. We made it a point to move more quickly, and have multiple players taking their turns at once if they were far away from each other. This six-player game lasted about 2 1/2 hours, which is about what we want on a Sunday evening. Two specialist crewman died and the Mouse Heritor ended up with a permanent leg injury. Otherwise, the only casualties were standard crewmen. The players seem to be picking up the rules more now, plus it helps two of my regulars have purchased the rules and read them. We don't play it often enough to remember everything, so it is a group effort. All in all, everyone seems to be having fun exploring the Ghost Archipelago -- which is the goal, after all!
Keith's Raccoons were the true spoilers of the day -- snagging two treasures early then launching arrows and casting Brambles to frustrate our snipe at the other crews

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