Saturday 23 February 2019

8th Voyage: House Rules for Crooked Dice's 7th Voyage


In this article, I present my revised combat rules for the 7th Voyage rules, by Crooked Dice.  Straight away, the question is: why modify anything at all?

Well, I've always wanted to play games that recreate episodes from Greek myth (or rather, from movies about Greek myth such as "Clash of the Titans").  This is exactly the point of 7th Voyage and so when it was published, I bought the rules and played a few games:
As you can see, in 2015/2016 we tried these rules exactly as written, but it just didn't feel as exciting as it might have done.  Command & control was fine, the scenarios were good, the magic system (which we barely scratched) seemed workable.

What fell flat for us was the combat system.  Once 2 models were in combat, there seemed to be an endless stream of dice rolls (to hit, to wound, saves for armour, shield or mystical force), with the only outcomes being either injury or nothing at all.  Sure, the rules allowed an attacker to attempt to knock down their opponent instead of striking for damage - but who would ever choose that option?

Compare this with another set of rules that I use (though not for this type of game): Song of Blades and Heroes.  In that, the combined results of a single die roll by each of the attacker and defender determines whether either is pushed back, knocked over or killed (or even killed gruesomely).  Note also that this is accomplished in a very simple manner; it doesn't require any table lookup or anything like that - just the application of a few simple rules.

Using Song of Blades and Heroes, we have had some really swashbuckling games where sword fights between the good hero and their evil protagonist have moved all over the scenery.  In particular, I recommend "Robin Hood and the Forest Road" (or here for the thrilling conclusion, if you're too impatient to read the whole thing).

So, I want heroes to be forced to the ground by the weight of the monster's crushing blows, before summoning up a lucky strike to the bad guy's vitals.  I want soldiers to have to watch their step when fighting on a cliff top (or rampart, ship...); if they give ground then they may be in for a fall!  I want combat to be resolved quickly and easily with a minimum of dice and statistics, but with a variety of possible outcomes for each attack.

What you see below is my attempt to meet these goals and breath fresh life into 7th Voyage.  To distinguish my house rules from the base set, I'll call my version 8th Voyage.

So far, 8th Voyage has been tested in these battles:

8th Voyage: Revised Combat Rules (v0.2)

First principle

The basic rules of who and when an attack can be made remain unchanged from the rules found in the 7th Voyage rulebook.

A minor additional rule

A couple of adjustments to facing are permitted to a defender:
  1. If a defender sees an attacker at any point during that attacker’s activation then the defender may turn on the spot so as to keep the attacker in their front arc.  It’s not reasonable for an attacker to run completely around an aware defender and strike them from behind in a single turn.
    Note that the defender may choose not to change facing, presumably because this would expose their rear to a future attack from a different, more dangerous enemy.
  2. After any attack from the rear (even one that failed to have any effect), a defender may choose to turn on the spot to bring the attacker into their front arc.  Put simply, you cannot make multiple attacks from behind without the defender noticing something...

Strike vs Defence

The mechanism for resolving an attack is changed as follows.  Note that this is strongly inspired by, but not completely identical to, the Strike rules in 7TV (2nd edition):
  1. Declare a target
  2. Determine line of sight (for ranged targets only)
  3. Determine the range (for ranged targets only)
  4. Defender makes a defence roll
  5. Attacker makes a strike roll
  6. Determine the effects of the attack.

4. The Defence Roll

  • Start with the defender’s Defence statistic.
  • Add or subtract modifiers as follows:
  • Per defender status:-1
    If prone:-1
    Soft cover, against missiles:+1
    Hard cover, against missiles:+2
  • Add the score of 1d6, unless the target is unconscious.

5. The Strike Roll

  • Start with the Strike value of the attack being used.
  • Add any modifiers which apply:
  • Per attacker status:-1
    If target is flying-1
    If range is more than 6”-1
    If prone-1
    If attacking from behind+1
    If a ranged attack is aimed+1
  • Add the score of 1d6

6. Determine the Effects of an Attack

If the strike result is equal to or greater than the defence total then the attack has been successful and the defender takes the normal status effect and/or damage from the hit.

  • The defender may convert any strike total which equals the defence value into a push back instead of a hit (i.e. the defender retreats from the attacker by one base depth).  This cancels any damage or status that would otherwise be inflicted and does not permit any parting strikes from any models.  If the defender is unable or unwilling to be pushed back then the damage/status is not cancelled and has its normal effect.

    A defender which is larger than the attacker is not pushed back; they can simply ignore this hit.
  • The defender may convert an attack which equals the defence value or exceeds it by one into a knockdown instead of a hit (i.e. the defender is knocked prone, but avoids damage and any status that would otherwise be inflicted by the hit).  If the defender is already prone or is unwilling to do this then the damage/status remains.  Presumably the defender would only choose this option for an 'equals' score if they were unwilling to be pushed back as in the previous bullet point.

    A defender which is larger than the attacker may choose to be pushed back rather than knocked down.
Note: even if the damage and/or status from the attack is cancelled by a push back or knock down, it still counts as a hit.  That will be academic in most situations, but some rules may have other results which are neither damage nor status.  For example, the Hurl special effect allows a defender to be thrown 2" and knocked prone on a successful hit.  This is neither damage nor a status and therefore the result of this effect cannot be cancelled or avoided.

Design Notes:

Calculating a Defence Value

The Defence value is calculated as the original ‘Def’ value, plus 4.  Here are some examples:
Def [original rules]Defence [revised rules]

Calculating a Strike Value

The Strike value for an attack is calculated from the data for the original 7th Voyage attack using the following formula:
Strike = 8 + Weapon Str  – Hit number (- 1 if the attack is unarmed).
This assumes that a weapon or natural equivalent such as claws or horns is in use; subtract 1 for an unarmed/brawl attack.
Here are some pre-calculated Strike Values (for weapon attacks.  Remember to take 1 off for an unarmed attack):

  • If no ‘Hit’ number is given (for example, a Str 4 hit is made automatically if a Dangerous weapon explodes) then assume a value of ‘Hit 3+’ and work out the Strike value accordingly.
  • If a weapon, spell or other game artefact has ‘Scatter’ then roll the ‘Hit’ number as normal, but only for the purpose of determining whether a direct hit has been made or whether the weapon/spell/... scatters.  Calculate the Strike value from the combination of Hit and Str as above when resolving damage to any model that is under the template.

Weapon Effects

Unless noted here, there is no change from the rule as written in the 7th Voyage rulebook.

  • Entangle: If the Strike total equals the Defence value or the Strike total is only 1 lower than the Defence total then the defender is knocked prone instead of being hit.  The defender may not choose to cancel the hit by being pushed back.
  • Parry: A Defence roll of ‘1’ by the defender cancels the first otherwise successful attack in a turn.
  • Thrust: Roll 2 dice against flying targets or against defenders which are larger than the attacker and choose which result to use.
  • Unwieldy: Cannot make an attack as part of a move into contact.

Special Effects

Unless noted here, there is no change from the rule as written in the 7th Voyage rulebook.

  • Armour: Adds +1 to Defence value.
  • Shield: Adds +1 to Defence value against attacks from the front 180 degrees.
  • Titanic Blow: Adds +1 to the Strike value for a Brawl attack.
  • Herculean Strength: Adds +1 to Str and to the Strike value of melee attacks from this model.
  • Dodge: For the first attack against them each turn, the defender rolls 2 dice for defence and chooses which one to use.  Cannot use this to dodge attacks from the rear.
  • Invulnerable: Adds +1 to Defence value.
  • Bull Rush: Attacks where the Strike result equals or beats the Defence result, or in which the Strike result is only 1 lower than the Defence result cause the defender to be knocked prone or pushed back (Attacker’s choice) in addition to any other results.
  • Shield of Force: Ignores successful hits on a further roll of 5+.


  1. A warrior (Strike 7) uses an action to attack a satyr (Defence 8).  The warrior rolls a '5', for a strike total of 12.  The satyr rolls a '4', also for a total of 12.  The satyr avoids the blow by skipping nimbly backwards.
  2. The same warrior uses his second action to move forwards and attack again.  The warrior rolls a '2' (giving a strike total of 9) and the satyr a '1' (giving a defence total of 9).  This time the satyr has his back to a rock and cannot avoid the blow by retreat again.  However, he can - and does - avoid taking damage by being knocked to the ground.  The satyr is now in some difficulty; it cannot avoid any further attacks by falling prone or retreating since it is already on the ground!
  3. A hero (Strike 8) attacks a huge cyclops (Defence 8).  Both roll a '3', thus tying the scores.  Normally, the defender could avoid such a hit only by stepping backwards or falling prone.  However, the cyclops is larger than the attacker and can just shrug off such a weak blow with no ill effects.
  4. The cyclops retaliates!  Its Strike is 8, compared to the hero's defence of 8 (7 natural, +1 for armour).  This time the cyclops rolls a '5' and the hero rolls a '3', giving respective Strike and Defence totals of 13 and 11.  There is nothing the hero can do to avoid this blow, so he takes a wound.
For what it's worth, the probabilities of an injury are much the same in 8th Voyage as in 7th Voyage, at least in some situations:
  • 7th Voyage: consider a fairly average "Hit 4+, Str 3" attack on a "Def 4" target.  The chance of a hit is 3/6 and of that hit converting to an injury is 2/6.  This gives the overall probability of a hit that causes damage at 6/36, or 1/6.
  • 8th Voyage: the statistics above convert into a Strike value of 7 and a Defence of 8.  The odds of the attacker's total beating the defender's by 2 (needed to ensure a damaging hit) are 1/6 - exactly the same as for 7th Voyage.  However, the attacker also has a 4/36 chance of knocking the defender down and a 5/36 chance of pushing them back.

Further Thoughts

This a work-in-progress and although I'm reasonably happy with the reworked rules above, there are still some questions in my mind:
  • Should there be an option to spend an action on a "power blow" when in melee, possibly for a +1 to the Strike value?Pro: this is analogous to aiming for a missile attack and would give more choice to an attacker (do I use a flurry of weaker blows or try one more potent attack?).
    Con: it's exactly the same as the Herculean Strength effect as written above.  So would Herculean Strength then need to be changed, for example to add +1 to Str and +2 to Strike?
  • Should there be a greater chance of a push back and/or knock down?
    Pro: it would make combats more mobile.
    Con: how would such a rule be framed differently, without becoming much more complex?
  • Should combat be more bloody?  Possibly by increasing all Strike values by 1?
    Pro: games would be quicker and more decisive.
    Con: an attacker is already allowed to spend both their actions on melee attacks.  This might change the tone of the game quite a bit...
  • +2 Defence for a combination of armour and a shield seems very potent.  There has to be some benefit from having either and a greater benefit from having both, but how can it be made a bit more subtle?  Perhaps rerolling '1's on defence for one item and rerolling '1's or '2's if the defender has both?
  • I'm not keen on the 'Shield of Force' effect requiring a further die roll to resolve.  But equally it seems wrong to reduce it to (for example) a +1 to Defence.  How else might it work?

Wednesday 20 February 2019

7th Voyage/8th Voyage: Kill the Enchantress!


I don't normally run the same game 2 weeks running at the local club, but I've been trying out my "8th Voyage" house rules for Crooked Dice's 7th Voyage game.  This time, I thought we'd delve into the realms of magic...

So, the scenario is going to be a standard Slay mission.  Jason and the Argonauts have been tasked with hunting down and killing a powerful enchantress whom the locals accuse of all manner of misdemeanours.  Mainly this comes down to the occasional seduction of handsome young men, but you know how superstitious these villagers can be, full of tales about the dangers of the forest and so on.

Anyway, our heroes have finally caught up with Circe at the site of a ruined bath, deep in the woods.  She is only accompanied by a few nymphs, barely visible behind the foliage, so this shouldn't take long.  After all, it's just one woman and a few teenage girls, versus a large number of Greek warriors.  Mind you, some of those trees look a bit creepy.  Weird - I could have sworn that one just moved - and not just swaying in the breeze either.  Must be imagining things...

The Forces


  • Jason: star/hero (though more of a leader of men than a combat monster).
  • Meleager: co-star/minor hero.
  • Atalanta: co-star.  In our game, she was given a powerful magic bow as well.
  • 11 hoplites/veteran heavy infantry.
  • 6 psiloi/light infantry.

Forces of Nature

  • Circe: extremely powerful enchantress, with magic and hypnotic powers.  She was given a magic item: the "All-Seeing Eye" - so she knew that the Argonauts were coming...
  • 4 wood nymphs.  Capable of seduction and with an ability to move instantly between trees.
  • 4 treemen.  More shrubs than mighty oaks, but still able to tear a man in half.  These start the game concealed in plain sight; they are treated as part of the scenery until they either choose to act or until they randomly let their enthusiasm get the better of them and act anyway.
  • 1 water elemental.  An almost unstoppable force of nature.  This doesn't start the game in play; it needs to be summoned first.  Mind you, that shouldn't be at all tricky for a sorceress of Circe's abilities...

The Game

Jason, Meleager and a couple of Argonauts ran forwards towards the lone figure near the pool.  This was easy money; what could go wrong?  4 warriors against one defenceless woman - the fight should be over in just a moment, right?

It seems that Circe had other ideas, though.  She immediately summoned a huge figure of living water from the nearby reservoir, followed by calling down a pillar of fire on the heads of the impudent mortals who had disturbed her meditations.
Perhaps the second spell was a bit hasty, as the fire didn't strike the earth anywhere near where she intended it.  Still, as a warning shot it was quite impressive!  [Note: from this point on, we left the 'fire' templates where they fell, just to show the pattern of the action.  Apart from the moment of summoning, these fireballs had no effect on game play.  Though I did nearly run out of such markers by the end of the game...].

Most of the remaining hoplites were then ambushed!  Bushes came alive and grabbed at them, whilst seductive spirits stepped from within the trunks of trees and whispered promised of delight in an attempt to entice them.  Most of the hoplites were too steady to be affected by this surprise, but it did hinder them and prevent reinforcements from reaching the leaders immediately.

The water horse flowed forwards to engage Jason and his bodyguard, and a treeman approached the same group from behind.

At this point, a veritable horde of Argonauts rushed down the far side of the pool.  Atalanta stopped to turn and shoot at a nymph, but missed [this turned out to be very much her thing all game long.  Even with a magic great bow, she just couldn't hit anything much.  Definitely not pulling her weight/points cost...].  Mind you, it looked as if Circe might be swamped by this body of soldiers even without the assistance of the famed archeress.

Never underestimate the power of an enchantress!  Circe stepped back from the mens' rush and summoned one of her nymphs to her side.  She turned to cast another pillar of fire on her pursuers [with rather more effect this time] and then effortlessly hypnotised a lone hoplite who thought he had the drop on her.

Another pillar of fire struck the Argonauts, slaying some and sending most of the rest running around with their clothes burning!

Meanwhile, Jason and his buddy were having a hard time against the forces of nature.  Time and again, they were saved from serious injury only by the narrowest of margins (and stout armour!), but they were very much on the defensive.

Circe even had time to call down fire upon Atalanta; the strike wasn't exactly on target but it still set her alight.

Not everything was going against the Argonauts.  They had slain a couple of the wood nymphs and had even managed to injure one of the treemen.  However, the humans were now completely scattered across the landscape.

Circe continued to stoll through the glade ahead of her pursuers, throwing pillars of fire at any who came too close.  Another lone Argonaut charged at her, but was immediately hypnotised before he could do any damage.

Meanwhile, the elemental contemptuously turned from the fight with Jason, leaving him to the tender mercies of a treeman.  It moved to try to save the last of the nymphs from Meleager and Amphion, but it couldn't halt the slaughter.  The water horse did take revenge by slaying the hoplite, however.

At this point, Circe's luck ran out.  Jason knocked down the treeman he was fighting and then ran after the enchantress.  He caught up with her just as Meleager and one scared hoplite arrived; together they attacked the witch!

Even when it seemed as if there was no hope, Circe was unstoppable!  She ducked out from the middle of the scrum without so much as a scratch, then turned and invoked another blast of magic that left both Jason and Meleager burning.  Circe wasn't friendless either; the water horse was sloshing along to her side as quickly as it could.

The enchantress was becoming tired, now.  Meleager had panicked and run around until he burned to death and Jason was preoccupied with dousing the flames on himself.  Despite this, there were still more Argonauts around.

Two hoplites managed to corner Circe and even though one of them was drowned by the water elemental, the other man stabbed straight and true [aided, if I remember correctly, by the sacrifice of an event card to gain +2 on the strike].  Circe finally took a wound - though this was only 1 of the 3 that would be needed to slay her.  At least it was some consolation for the Argonauts...

At this point, we had to call the game because we were running out of time.  Both casts had been reduced to 50% of their starting figures, though both had high morale values and had passed the required tests to avoid any further effect.  Atalanta and Jason both managed to put out their fires and survived, but there weren't many hoplites left!


I think it's fairly obvious that Circe and her allies won this game!  For the record, she gains 3VP for simply being alive [after all, it was a Slay mission], plus 2VP for dispatching Meleager [don't worry - I'm sure he'll be back, miraculously unhurt, for the next episode in the series].  So, a grand total of 5VP.

In contrast, Jason and the Argonauts gain 1VP for surviving [because of his Honourable trait - the VP gain cancels out some of the disadvantages] - and that's it!

Looking at the forces at the beginning of the game, it seemed as if the Argonauts had an overwhelming advantage.  They outnumbered the enchantress' force by 2:1 - all they had to do was trap her in combat and sooner or later the sheer weight of attacks would have cut her down.  Indeed, there was one turn where the hoplite rush might well have achieved this, if only they had won the initiative.  Instead, Circe won that turn's initiative and moved away, out of their reach.

This game was intended as a playtest of my revised combat mechanics.  For the most part, I think it worked well.  I've added some extra house rules to cover artefacts that scatter [such as the pillar of fire spell] and also to permit defenders to turn to face their attackers under some circumstances [basically, when any initial surprise is over].

In addition, I'm having doubts about whether armour is too potent and/or strikes are too weak - although the casualty rate from this game seems to suggest that there's not really any imbalance here.  The elemental did seem maybe a bit too invulnerable, for all that...

So, further tests will be needed.  Who's up for another game?!

Thursday 14 February 2019

The Pledge: update


A short while ago, I made a pledge: here.  For anyone who doesn't want to revisit that article, I promised myself that I would only start one brand new model for every two part-completed pieces in my collection that I finished off. This was aimed at helping me to reduce the numbers of my many "stagnant" models; pieces which had been started (built, undercoated, or even partially painted) but for a variety of reasons had not been completed.

Well, it's time for an update, I think...


For the most part, I have indeed been sticking to my self-made promise.  There was one set of new purchases that excited me too much and I have started them even though I didn't have "credit" to do so.  However, that's only a slight wobble and (at least in theory) these models are straightforward and should therefore be completed with very little effort.

Apart from that glitch, here's the list of pieces which I have finally finished:

A couple of Dreadball hangers-on.  One coach/owner and an excitable fan...

More "Nightfolk".  These (and others) will form my "green" warband for Frostgrave - or any other game, really

A flock of Stymphalian birds for my ancient Greek heroes to encounter.  These are cranes from some 'O' gauge railroad supplier, though I did paint their beaks bronze, as they should be for flesh-eating, armour-piercing monsters of death!

A pair of bramble thickets.  With a few more of these, I could really populate a gaming table with some difficult terrain...

So, the above are on the "credit" side; they were all models that I had begun before I took the pledge.  By my own self-imposed rules, finishing these 19 pieces permits me to begin 9.5 brand new models.  Here's how I used some of that credit:

3 shifty-looking Zanzibaris, to add to my Congo column.  I've got quite a few more, but am not yet ready to start painting them.

Another 5 ninjas for Test of Honour.  Painting black isn't terribly exciting (and I don't think I did it very well in this case), but at least they're finished and ready for action.

So, there we have it.  I've stuck to my promise (mostly) for 2 months; let's see how much longer I can sustain it!

Tuesday 12 February 2019

7th Voyage/8th Voyage: Jason and the Playwright


It's been a long time since I played any games based around ancient Greek myth; I think the last such one was in 2016 (here: Jason and Medea).  All my previous outings have used the 7th Voyage rules from Crooked Dice, but despite there being much to admire in these rules, something wasn't quite right for me.  More specifically, the combat felt flat; both sides would simply stand next to each other and hack repeatedly until someone got lucky and hit their opponent enough times to knock them out.  Boring...

Since that last game over 2 years ago, I've been intending to write my own, revised combat rules for 7th Voyage.  This new adaptation would be based loosely on the equivalent combat rules from 7TV (2nd edition), but with inspiration also taken from Song of Blades and Heroes and the existing 7th Voyage.

Well, I finally got round to firming up and writing down my ideas (which I'll call "8th Voyage"; more on those in a future article) and this is a report of the first playtest.

Jason and the Playwright

The story for this game would be very simple: it's the Steal scenario from the 7th Voyage rulebook.  However, instead of an object the Argonauts have been charged with the rescue of a person.  The famed playwright Phineas has fallen in with bad company; he's been taken away by a bunch of hard-partying satyrs!  It's not completely clear whether Phineas has been kidnapped, or whether he has been beguiled and tricked into this wasteful life...

Either way, Jason and his fellow Argonauts have determined to rescue the man.  They have an ulterior motive: Phineas's work is much respected in Agathopolis, their next port of call.  If they can persuade the playwright to put on a show in that town then their passage would no doubt be expedited by the locals!

So, forces are as follows:
  • Jason, plus a whole bunch of heavily-armed Argonauts.
  • Meleager, plus some very lightly-armed skirmishers/psiloi.
  • Antigone.  She doesn't have any followers at all, but has a magic helm which makes her invisible.  The black "7th Voyage" counter denotes when she has activated this item and cannot be seen.  Note that this doesn't make it impossible for opponents to hit or impede her; it's just much more difficult for them!
Antigone with her Helm of Invisibility.  You really cannot see her at all, can you?

On the other side:
  • Hylaeus (the satyr leader) plus several spear-armed satyrs (in the background of the picture above).
  • A small group of satyr archers, beside the river.
  • A larger group of satyrs with a mixture of bows and spears (foreground).
  • One cyclops.  Note that this monster is a neighbour of the satyrs and therefore an ally against human intruders.  However, there's not much love lost between him and the satyrs, so the monstrous cyclops causes fear in everyone who comes within 6" - friend as well as foe!
Phineas, the playwright, starts in the middle of the ruined theatre.  He is too befuddled to move on his own, but can move when accompanied by any of the rescuing humans.

The Game

Made invisible by her magic helmet, Antigone stalked forwards towards the amphitheatre and the playwright.  The nearest satyrs sensed her presence (maybe saw dust swirls, or smelled something)  but although they prodded the area with their spears, they failed to make contact with the heroine.

She reached Phineas and was just about to make herself visible and lead the playwright away when the cyclops came lumbering up.  Like the satyrs, it could sense that something wasn't right, but unlike them it had a much longer reach.  One of its flailing limbs caught Antigone with a forceful backhander and threw her across the stage.  She wasn't injured but - at least temporarily - was decidedly out of action.

Help wasn't forthcoming from Meleager and his light infantry.  The young javelineers were ineffective against the tougher satyrs who rushed to intercept them, though one lad caused a lot of frustration to Hylaeos (the satry leader) by simply refusing to die!  Even the hero Meleager was knocked off his feet and wounded; for a few moments he seemed to be in real trouble...

Jason made better progress.  Two satyrs tried to block the river ford, but Jason and his hoplites swept them aside with ease.  Not everything went their way, though: a lucky, long range arrow from a satyr archer felled one of the Argonauts in return.

Now that the way was clear, the Argonauts surged forwards.  The cyclops was reaching about in the dust trying to find the still-invisible Antigone when one of the hoplites ran around and stabbed it from behind.

Remember that the cyclops is fearsome to all other models on the table?  Since it was now pretty much the centre of the action, an increasing number of Argonauts and satyrs had to take fear tests whenever they were activated.  Not all of them passed; indeed later in the game we ran out of my yellow & black "Scared" tokens and had to improvise with other types of counter as well...

Whilst the cyclops roared with pain, Antigone made her move.  She stabbed at the creature (thus becoming visible at least for a while) - but her blow was ineffective.  In return, the cyclops belted her so hard that she landed in the amphitheatre's cheap seats (at the back).  It then turned around and swatted the Argonaut away as well.  Truly it was a very annoyed monster!

The dazed - and now visible - Antigone was promptly showered with arrows from the nearby satyrs.  Although a fair number bounced off her shield, eventually one shaft struck home and took her out of action.

Bellowing loudly, the cyclops rushed at the approaching Argonauts.  Its initial rush left Jason on his back in the dirt, but the hero was soon on his feet again and attacking.  Whilst he and the approaching Meleager distracted the monster, a brave Argonaut sank his spear into its flank [the spearman was considerably aided by a +2 modifier gained from sacrificing an event card.  As it happened, this particular event card was only useful for a spell caster, so "sacrificing" it wasn't much of a loss for the Argonaut player!].

Between them, Meleager and the Argonaut attacked repeatedly and forced the cyclops back all the way across the amphitheatre.  Jason saw his chance, rushed up to Phineas and started to hustle the confused playwright away from the fighting.

Before he could escape cleanly, Jason was shot in the back with an arrow.  Of course, it would take more than a single injury to fell a hero of his standing, but even so it was worrying...

Two Argonauts had been tasked with killing Hylaeus, the satyr leader, or at least with keeping him occupied so that he couldn't do anything especially useful.  After fighting with them inconclusively for much of the game, Hylaeus switched tactics and started to use his hypnotise power instead of his spear.

Almost immediately, he managed to dominate both of the humans; they were at least temporarily under his control.  The wily satyr suggested that they go and take a bath in the river, reasoning that the Argonauts would have to take drowning tests when they were next activated.  In this way there was a good chance that they would be lost to their original side whether or not they regained control of their senses.

As it happens, neither man recovered from the hypnotism by the end of the game; they were never seen again by the other Argonauts...

The cyclops tried to go around the amphitheatre to reach Jason and the escaping playwright, but it hadn't gone very far when it was charged from behind by an exceptionally enthusiastic Argonaut.  The man stabbed the monster fatally and as it writhed around on the ground [courtesy of a "Taking your time" event card], he stabbed it some more until it finally stopped moving.  Thus was Antigone avenged...

The exhausted Meleager was suddenly surrounded by satyrs who bounded into and across the amphitheatre.  He tried to defend himself, but was struck by arrows and fell.

With the loss of this hero and the two hypnotised hoplites, the Argonauts cast was thoroughly shaken.  Jason escorted Phineas off the table and at that point we had to call the game because we ran out of time.


So, who won?  Scores were as follows:

Hylaeus and the Satyrs

  • 2VP for knocking out Antigone
  • 2VP for knocking out Meleager
  • 1VP for shaking the opposing cast [i.e. reducing them to less than half their number of starting models].
So, a grand total of 5VP.

Jason and the Argonauts

  • 3VP for knocking out the cyclops
  • 3VP for rescuing Phineas and escorting him off the table.
...for a total of 6VP.  Therefore, it's a marginal Argonaut victory, albeit a somewhat Pyrrhic one.

However, consider this: if the game had gone on for just one more turn, the satyrs would almost certainly have axed the Argonauts [i.e. reduced them to 1/4 of their starting models] and would thus have earned themselves another 2VP, increasing their score by enough to claim themselves a marginal victory.


This was a fun game for me (as umpire) and hopefully for the players as well.  I'm delighted to have re-entered the world of gaming Greek Mythology!

The Argonauts achieved their goal of rescuing Phineas.  In addition, their heroes all acted, well, heroically.  Some hoplites got stuck in enthusiastically to help their leaders, though a few just cowered at the back and refused to engage.  The psiloi/javelinmen were not particularly effective, which is as it should be...

For their opponents, the cyclops did its thing, dominating the centre of the action and terrifying all and sundry.  The satyrs proved to be remarkably resilient; relatively few fell in combat - though this might reflect their tactics rather than any special powers.  I'm still not quite sure how they managed to wipe out so many armoured, veteran warriors!

My revised, "8th Voyage" combat rules seem to have worked very well and I don't see any immediate need to make changes to them.  Some more play-testing would be good before I can declare them to be "finished", of course.  I will publish this set of house rules soon, so if anyone is curious then you can see where my thinking has led.  In the meantime, I think that combat in 7th Voyage has become a whole lot more fluid and interesting...

Sunday 3 February 2019

Terrain for Congo: Termites and Grass


Here's a short post describing some terrain I'm making for games of Congo.  I've already got some large trees which can be used as stand ins for Baobabs or other large specimens (see here), but the new pieces below give me the option of some area features as well.

Termite Mounds

Let's see now; one of the iconic sights of the African veldt is a cluster of termite mounds.  These wouldn't be too hard to make from scratch, but I didn't have enough time or energy to do that.  Instead, I bought this set from Warlord Games.

This set is fairly expensive for just six smallish pieces of resin, but it does come with some MDF base plates as well.  I don't know if this is normal, but my pack had 9 base plates in it!  All of these are different shapes, some larger and some smaller than the one shown in the picture above.  So, given that I had 8 spare base plates, some more terrain was required.

Tall Grass

So, how am I going to fill another 8 area terrain base plates?  Well, I can and certainly will make some inserts from rocks, to represent rough ground.  However, I also wanted some elephant grass or something similar.  This vegetation is so called because even an elephant can hide in a clump of such grass; hardly surprising when you consider that some varieties can reach 18 feet high (i.e. about 5 1/2 metres)!  Good luck finding your golf or cricket ball if it vanishes into a patch of that!

There are a number of ways of modelling elephant grass in common use, but I thought I would try something different.  I'm not completely convinced by the end result, but see what you think...

I started with some artificial turf.  There is at least one company in the UK that offers free samples, so I carefully picked the longer styles (typically 40-45mm pile) and ordered some of these.  In only a day or two, I received a parcel containing 6 squares like the one above, each somewhat over 6" square.  That's the best part of 2 square feet of artificial grass which didn't cost me a penny!  The only downside is that every website I visit now puts astroturf in all the advertisement boxes - but I guess I'll just have to live with that...

So, artificial turf isn't the easiest material to work.  Cutting disks was moderately difficult, as was gluing it to the circular insert bases.

Additionally, the plastic turf was far from upright.  It had a definite and pronounced lean in one direction which was not at all what I expected or wanted.

I squirted copious amounts of white glue into the base of each piece and found a way to force them upright whilst the glue dried.  That seems to have done the trick and the tufts have pretty much stayed upright since.

I finished the pieces off by spraying them with a pale tan colour from the underside, so as to make the "stalks" look pale but allow the "leaves" to remain green.  This could possibly have been done better by dry-brushing instead; maybe I'll try that on the next batch...


Savannah/veldt isn't open, empty grassland with as few obstacles as a cricket or football pitch.  As well as significant hills and forests, there may be many local areas of blocking terrain.  I've just started to scratch the surface, really - and I'm doing it fairly cheaply so far!