Monday, 19 January 2015

7th Voyage: The Argonauts go forth!

Introduction

Finally, time for my first game of 7th Voyage!  As all my regular readers will know, I've been preparing a heroic cast based on Jason and the Argonauts and I have various groups of possible opponents available (satyrs, harpies...).  I've got some event cards and I spent part of yesterday making quick-reference cards & status counters and designing the 2 introductory forces.  So...Lights, Camera, Action!

The Scenario

For our first game, we'll use the Skirmish scenario from the 7th Voyage rulebook.  In this case, 2 small bands meet each other; the winner is the first one to slay or drive off the other.  Simples!

So, Jason and a small group of followers are exploring a small, seemingly deserted island.  They're looking for fresh water and supplies for their ship, but maybe the island isn't as deserted as it seems.  Without realising it, Jason's party are trespassing on the meadows and woods of a band of satyrs.  Hylaeos, chief of the satyrs, has followed their progress as they trek inland.  He's not entirely keen on tackling the intruders alone, so he's talked a very large (but somewhat dim) cyclops into helping to chase off the intruders!

The Forces

Argonauts

  • Jason, Hero (straight from the 7th Voyage book - he's an average sort of hero with lots of leadership abilities and swimming)
  • Meleager, "Also Starring" Veteran, with Swimming skill
  • 5 Argonauts, Veterans (4 with spear, 1 with sword)
The Argonauts were the nominal defenders and deployed first.  They set up in the quadrant which contained the woods, as this would protect them somewhat from early archery.

Monsters

  • Hylaeos, "Also Starring" Satyr leader.  Importantly, he has the Hypnotise skill as well as the usual satyr's Seduce.
  • 6 Satyrs (3 with spear, 3 with bow)
  • un-named Cyclops (pumped-up Guardian Beast.  Note that he causes Fear in all models, friendly as well as enemy!)
Hylaeos deployed the satyrs just across the river from the woods, intending (I think) to use the ford as a choke point against the better-armoured Argonauts.  The cyclops was placed in a different table quarter; at least there he wouldn't scare the friendly satyrs!

The Terrain

  • The woods were classed as difficult ground which would reduce speed to 1d6 for most models.  The cyclops could just stomp through the trees without slowing down, though!
  • We decided that the river would be deep and fast flowing, apart from at the 2 fords (which were easy going).  So, a model who wished to cross at any point other than the fords would either have to swim or would have to leap across.  Once again, the cyclops could ignore such concerns; he was too big to be put out by such a puny stream.

The Game

"Come on, lads!  I can hear running water nearby.  It can't be far now" called Jason in encouragement to his followers.  They were all cursing and grumbling at the thorns in the underbrush - moving in a forest is not easy when you carry a large shield and long spear.  "It's all right for the hero, marching ahead there as if he's the gods' own chosen one", they thought.  "But we didn't sign on to this cruise to trek through mud and branches like this!"

The Argonauts won the initiative for the first turn (and the maximum number of Audience Appreciation tokens as well - not that they were much use at this point in the game),  Jason strode ahead of his men and stepped out from the edge of the trees whilst the other adventurers were struggling with undergrowth.

Immediately, he was set upon by 3 satyrs who ran screaming at him across the ford in the river.  Despite the apparent ferocity of their attack, not one of the creatures managed to land a damaging blow on the startled hero.

Hearing the sounds of fighting, Meleager and Amphion ran up to help.  Meleager arrived just in time to see Jason dispatch one of the fauns and then turn to face a large, ugly satyr who appeared to be their leader.  Amphion came out of the woods onto the river bank, but before he could even get his bearings, a satyr shot him through the neck and he dropped down, dead ('6' to hit, '6' to wound' and '1' for the armour save.  Truly a remarkable shot - not even audience appreciation could save this!)

More Argonauts rushed in to help their leaders.  Even as Meleager slew his opponent, Pheidippides pushed past him to face the next satyr.  The 3 fauns on the far bank of the river were still annoying the men by showering them with arrows, though all of these shots went wide.  More worryingly, the Argonauts could hear something very large crashing through the trees behind them!

Since he was now unengaged, Meleager ran towards the noises to find out what was coming up behind the Argonauts.  He came face to face with the largest, ugliest beast that he had ever seen.  Mastering his fear briefly, he sliced at the monster and missed.  In return, it swatted him aside contemptuously.

The archers continued to shoot at Meleager, though again this was ineffective.

Augeas, another veteran, had been struggling to keep up with the rest of the Argonauts as they made their way through the woods.  He now changed course to head towards the loudest noise of fighting, but instead of finding his comrades he stumbled right into the cyclops.  The bold man stabbed the creature in the thigh and drew blood, but in return it smashed him aside.  Amphion's lifeless body flew through the air, hit a tree trunk and slid to the ground.

The dazed Meleager picked himself up and shook his head to clear it.  More arrows were landing close by him, so he made a quick decision to tackle the archers rather than charge back into combat with the monster.  He crouched and sprang, clearing the river with ease and ran towards the satyr bowmen (I wasn't particularly worried by taking the chance of falling short and landing in the water since Meleager had Swimming as his "Also Starring" skill).

Whilst Jason continued to fence with Hylaeos, the satyr leader wasn't really fighting back.  Instead, he was defending whilst making eyes at Jason's friend Laokoon.  Indeed, various satyrs had been trying their Seduce powers (and Hylaeos's Hypnotise power) throughout the game, but without much luck.  This time was different though and Laokoon became bewildered and confused as to why he was trying to fight the beautiful wild creature that was in front of him.

In the heat of the moment Exion, one of the other Argonauts, followed Meleager's example and attempted to leap across the stream.  He failed with a miserable roll of '2', which would have left him just short of the far bank.  I chose to use one of Jason's "Luck" points to re-roll this - but my son countered with a Hand of Fate event card to reduce my re-roll.  The die came up with a '3' this time, so after taking off the -2 for the event, Exion plunged fully into the deep, cold water!

Suddenly, things were not looking good for the Argonauts.  They only had 4 models still active out of a starting total of 7, so they were perilously to having to take a morale check for 50% losses.  Worse, one of the 4 remaining men was struggling in the water (Exion couldn't swim) and Jason had been trading blows with the satyr leader for what seemed like forever with neither side managing to do any damage.  At least Meleager might cause mayhem amongst the lightly-armed archers, I hoped!

Sadly for me, it seems that Meleager was more shaken from his encounter with the cyclops than I had realised.  The very first archer thumped him so hard that the Argonaut collapsed in a groaning heap.  The giggling satyr then dragged the half-conscious Meleager to the edge of the river and pushed him into a deep pool.  They've got quite a sense of humour, these wild party animals...

As if things couldn't get any worse for the Argonauts, the cyclops chose this moment to come crashing along the bank.  It grabbed Pheidippides from behind, crushed the unfortunate man to death and hurled the corpse over the heads of the other combatants.  One of the satyrs was terrified by the sudden appearance of this fearsome monster, but for most of the humans it was too much.  They took a Shaken test, failed it - and suddenly Jason found himself alone as all the other Argonauts vanished.

Feeling utterly desperate Jason used a "Ropey CSO" event card to disengage from Hylaeos without taking a parting strike.  (Mind you, Jason would probably have been quite safe from Hylaeos' parting blow anyway.  I had considered using this event card to push the cyclops into the river instead, but the big lump wouldn't even have noticed...)

In the manner of true heroes, Jason then attacked the cyclops (before it could attack him in the back!) and stabbed it.  The great beast roared in pain as the sword cut into it, but the monster stayed upright.  With 2 out of its 3 wounds gone, if Jason could topple the beast then that might just turn the tide?

It wasn't to be, however.  The last Argonaut had to take a Wiped Out morale test now that his cast had taken over 75% losses - and he failed.  He also failed the re-roll permitted by his Martial Training special effect.  Ah...

Result: Jason fled from the battlefield as if the hounds of hell were after him!  Cut!

Conclusion

Well, that was fun.  I have a number of issues that came up in our first game of 7th voyage and I'll need to seek clarification on those, but none of them spoiled our enjoyment.  We'll need to play again, of that I am sure!

Observations:

  • A small cast is likely to evaporate very quickly when it reaches 50% losses, since a failed Shaken test will remove 1d3 models.  This in turn is quite likely to trigger a 75% loss Wiped Out test the very next turn, which will probably eliminate the survivors!
  • I was surprised at how long Hylaeos and Jason traded blows with neither managing to wound the other.  Jason should have had a very decisive advantage here, since his abilities and armour were considerably the better of the pair, but he just wasn't on form today.  Still, kudos to the satyr leader for not chickening out and hiding behind his even lesser followers.
  • For me, Meleager stole the scene for the Argonauts; he killed a satyr, tackled the monster, was sent flying, leaped across the river and then...collapsed.
  • The cyclops did pretty much as expected, once it finally managed to reach the battle.  It crashed through the undergrowth, throwing adversaries about as if they were nothing and generally scaring the cr*p out of everyone!  It wasn't invulnerable, though; this suggests that a more concentrated attack could have taken it down.
  • The monster player split his forces.  I thought that the Argonauts could defeat them in detail, but the satyrs proved surprisingly hard to kill and the cyclops caught up with the fight before any decisive losses had been taken.
  • Equally, the satyrs were somewhat frustrated that their archers and their Seduce powers were unlucky.  Although many arrows were expended and many alluring looks given, they only shot one Argonaut and confused another.  Still, that was probably enough...
  • The Argonauts won initiative for all the early turns, but the Audience Appreciation tokens that they earned never seemed to be enough to change any of the results.
  • In the second half of the game, the initiative rolls were all tied, which meant that there were a lot of turnovers.  It also meant that the monster player never got any Audience Appreciation tokens at all!
That's a wrap!


27 comments:

  1. Terrific stuff C6. Really enjoyed this. Tremendous game. My only worry is that you're going to tempt me away from "ZombieTV" which we've only just gone back too :-) Looking forward to the next one.

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    1. Thanks, Blax - but don't you go blaming me for any weakness of willpower that you may experience :-) ! I'm watching your ZombieTV stuff with interest, so please do continue it...

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  2. I may not have mentioned this but I've been waiting a long time for this. Jason and the Argonauts was my most favorite film as a child so I've been waiting with bated breath to see your game it doesn't disappoint!

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    1. I was brought up reading tales of Greek heroes (and Norse and others as well, but that's another matter), so I think I know where you are coming from :-) . Mind you, I don't think that Jason actually met any satyrs in the film, let alone fought them...

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  3. Great batrep C6! Cool sounding ruleset, like the event cards. Good summary through your observations.

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    1. Thanks, Bob. I'm still feeling my way through these rules a bit, so it helps to write down all my thoughts at the time. If that helps others to understand the nuances as well then I'm delighted!

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  4. I love it! I really need to have a closer look at this.

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    1. Thanks, Michael. The Greek myths are full of inspiration, with a number of major heroes undertaking numerous quests. 7th Voyage really captures the spirit of this (at least, our modern, Hollywood-based understanding of the stories!)

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  5. An interesting AAR. Would the game been very much different using "Songs of Blades and heroes"? Like you I have both sets of rules and can see the joy in using either. So I would e interested in how much Harry Harrison type move fun came into play.

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    1. I was completely torn between 7th Voyage and SoBH for this project. However as you know, I use the "Song" series for other settings so I decided to give 7th Voyage a go this time.

      Would the outcome have been any different? I'm not sure. I think that activation in 7th Voyage is a bit more predictable and therefore there's a bit less chaos around. 7th Voyage has a much more developed magic system that SoBH, but the melee combat feels a bit flatter.

      I'd say that either ruleset could work very well, if you put the effort into the scenarios, the models, the terrain and so on...

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    2. cheers mate. I appreciate the reply. And I have painted some harpies last week so one step behind you .Ok a dozen steps behind you.

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  6. great batrep. The rules look really interesting and if I'm not careful your posts will make me want to buy them. I was particularly interested in the rumours about a dungeon bash version in a kickstarter with otherworld miniatures. Wonder if that is still on the cards or have I missed it?!?!?!

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    1. Thanks! I've seen 7TV and 7th Voyage criticised as too expensive and hardback, but I like the well-made rulebooks with many pictures in them. Of course, the rules have to be *good* as well; I think that these delivered the goods for this game.

      Don't know anything about a dungeon version, though.

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  7. Great scenario and excellent aar read. Jason seemd to have had enough on his hands with just the satyr. let alone the Cyclops as well, but I'm sure he'll have his revenge.
    re-reading through this it did sound (and play) like a pulp alley scenario.

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    1. When Jason scored the first kill of the game (a regular spear-satyr), I thought that he'd just go through the rest of the creatures like a hot knife through butter! After all, Hylaeos' combat skills were nothing very special. However, my hero just couldn't get it together - he hit the satyr leader often enough, but consistently failed to wound! Maybe he was trying to shave him or something like that :-) ?

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  8. What fantastic looking game - figures terrain so inviting! Nicely done!

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    1. Thanks, Dean. Personally, I think that my terrain is a bit average, but I'm still delighted that you like it!

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  9. Very smart, I really enjoyed that Batrep. Thanks.

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    1. Thanks, Irqan. Glad you enjoyed it!

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  10. I was waiting a long time for this and it did not disappoint! It was a shocker to see Greece's finest die like flies, though!

    So, what's next, Jason being chased while running to the Argo for reinforcements? :P

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    1. Well, technically only 3 of "Greece's finest" died - the rest just vanished. Who knows whether they escaped, drowned or were caught and eaten by the cyclops :-) ? Indeed, I suppose that some of the "dead" might merely have been injured, so maybe it wasn't as bad as it seemed.

      Next...I hadn't thought that far ahead. However, some sort of rescue or rally mission would seem appropriate, wouldn't it :-) ?

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  11. Great stuff. Lovely table and figs.

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    1. Thanks, Gordon. Glad you liked it!

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