Chapel of the Dead AAR
Four factions converged on the desolate Lakeview Cemetery. For days, strange lights had appeared among the broken tombstones and shattered chapel. All those who arrived knew of the rumors that three powerful Elder Symbols were rumored to be hidden among the graves. But now, the forces of the Elder Gods were searching and using the desecrated grounds to perform their own summoning! Can any of those who have made their way there survive their enemies and escape with an Elder Symbol.
I had four players for this Thrilling Adventure test and though I used cemetery terrain and altered some of the cards for my Terror at Castle Markoff GenCon game slightly to accommodate it. Here is the board and the four victims… err… players (Glenn, JT, Heather and Sean).
(They all study their cards intently, looking for an advantage)
The game started out with a quick discussion of the rules and then each of the players assigned their equipment and abilities to their characters. The game was played with each player having three characters. I did not tell anyone how they should assign their cards and let them decide on their own. Here is The Gargoyle faction set up.
(The Gargoyle is Given Ambidextrous and Twin .45s, Bridget gets the camera, and Mo gets One-Two Punch)
After initiative is determined, players draw 2 cards for each of their characters. All of the important numbers are on the left of the card so that when fanned together in the hand, you can see them. The Action card final design will also have the Bonus number in the lower left, though on these cards it is still center right. I also think I am going to change Bonus to Luck. Sounds more pulpy. Sounds pulpier. Whatever.
Play began with the first player drawing a Scenario card. One thing I learned is that I am going to change how Scenario Cards are drawn. I originally set it up so that each player only drew one at the start of each turn. This proved slow, so after Turn 2 I changed it to drawing a scenario card with each faction model that you activate. This sped things up considerably and led to a lot more movement. I’ll probably make one more change before GenCon and have players start drawing Scenario Cards with Turn 2 instead of Turn 1 (since they’ll be learning the rules and I want them to focus on that for the first turn).
The first two turns were very conservative with players ending the turn with cards still in their hands. Now, because the Action Hand is discarded at the end of every turn, their is no incentive to not use all your cards. This does favor the players who go later in the turn as they do not have to worry about who might attack them and whether they need to hold onto any cards. This led to my second revaluation in that Scenario Cards will be allowed to be held until the end of the turn, giving the players that go earlier some leverage over the players that go later. Some cards like Clue cards and Triggers will still need to be played first, but traps and guardians can be played at any time.
One spot on the board was aptly named Damnation Hill. This is where nearly all the action was played. Emile Lusk and the cultists faced off against Emerson P. Balldridge and his team. It seemed like all the Scenario cards kept getting slapped down on poor Emile. He had Darkness, Pits, Fear, and more all sent his way (though it was not nearly enough to stop him as you’ll see later.) One rules clarification to make (and I will update the playtest rules) is that if a model is targeted with a Skill Test they will use the No Move number if they have not activated during the current turn and the Move number if they have already activated.
The battle between the Jade Hood and his faction and The Gargoyle and his came down, really to a slug fest between Mo and Lou. See the link here to my combat example to see what was going on.
Now, despite everything that was thrown at Emile, he did manage to find one of the Elder Signs and escape through a secret tunnel between graves. Despite a last minute Deep One appearing to slow him down, he did make it off the board with the first Elder Sign. Here is where the player used the Bonus numbers on his Action Cards in order to boost his movement. Despite Emile only having a Move stat of 4, he was able to cover 12 inches with his Action Card and the Bonuses from the rest of his Action Cards thrown in.
With Emile off the board, the cultist player now only had two characters and was drawing only 4 Action Cards each turn. He had one of the prizes, but his options were severely limited. He had far fewer bonus cards he could throw in to try and take down Rocky, which became the goal of both Emile and the Jade Hood (something about the guy with the shotgun seemed to really make people mad).
(Poor Rocky surrounded by two Deep Ones and the Mad Cultist. He survived for quite a while as al the Wound results kept being Morale Checks instead of wounds.)
Emerson P. Balldridge was able to find an Elder Sign and escape off the board as well. Though it was a close call since earlier in the game someone had mistakenly summoned an Elder Thing (played here by a Lurker in the Woods).
(I do believe I feel a very hot and rancid breath on my back. Oh my!)
In the end, along with Emile and Emerson, the Gargoyle was able to find an Elder Sign as well. There were two characters killed in action (the Mad Cultists and Rocky) and two very close calls (Nick and the the Fanatic cultist). All the other characters were either unwounded or sported only some minor cuts and bruises. The game was a great success and with the few tweaks I am going to make, the scenario should be perfect for GenCon play testing. It was an excellent open road test of the rules as I had to explain to one new person and show the changes to three veterans. I had varying age levels as well. I am going to put together a slightly updated version of the playtest rules this week.
One thing to be aware of is that playing with three upper echelon characters, you will not have a lot of easy wounds. It takes a lot and you have to be smart about it. The players were very conservative early on and very few wounds occurred. As soon as they got bold and started throwing multiple cards into their attacks, the wounds started piling up fast.
(The first casualty.)