It have been a LONG time since I played an miniature games in the basement game room. Like pre-Covid, even. Some of that was due to renovations upstairs and the basement being used as storage space for stuff we had to move out of the way (some of which never got moved BACK upstairs!). Some of it was just having too much stuff. Some of it was just getting comfortable with just playing smaller skirmish games on the kitchen table upstairs...
The Game Room renovation has been, more or less, finished for some time now, but no miniature gaming has taken place. Partly because, well, COVID!? Partly because no one in the family is super interested in playing miniature games with me anymore. Amanda has been playing a lot of Warhammer Underworlds with me this year (which is sort of a miniature game), but she's more interested in Wingspan at the moment. I'm sure she'll play Cursed City, if/when I ever get those miniatures painted!? (I've been in a bit of a malaise the last few weeks and haven't gotten much done at all!!) Keira's just not interested in miniature games anymore. Finnegan's... well.. just BUSY - with school - and all the D&D games he's involved in (online)! Yesterday, I did manage to talk him into playing a quick game with me in the evening!
Amazingly, we didn't even play a GW game - which I've pretty much been solely focused on the last few years. For the last few weeks - with all the miniatures finally organized in a more permanent storage place, I've been looking through them, reminding myself of what I have. This started during the moving of stuff back into the game room. Likewise, while organizing all the books into the Game Room, I got looking at those and thinking about how long it's been since I played then and remembering how much fun some were and others that I always wanted to try, but never got around to... So I started looking for some "low-hanging fruit" - games that I could just play NOW! No painting required! Ideally, also quick and easy games that don't require a lot of thought and preparation or re-reading of rules. l've mostly been looking at One Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas, all of Dan Mercy's games, and the series of Ganesha Games based on the Song of Blades and Heroes engine.
For this first game I went with Dan Mercy's excellent fantasy game - Dragon Rampant!
The others will likely be making an appearance in the not-too-distant future! I am very excited to try out One Hour Wargames - though there aren't many forces that I have the right number of miniature in the right proportion... I might be able to pull it off with Great War miniatures... Also I am very excited to get playing ALL of the SoBH games - (recent posts be Barks and Jon really got me thinking about it!) - but it's been even longer since I looked at those games and there are SO MANY special rules and traits and I feel like there's a bit more involved in scenario design for a really great game.
Enough prattling, though... to the game!
After much consideration I went with some Greek Heroes and Mythological Creatures - Jason and the Argonauts versus Centaurs! I'm not sure any of these have seen action in a game - and there was lots to play a game with.
For the scenario I used a slightly modified version of Scenario B: The Sacred Mole of Ukkert - right out of the Dragon Rampant rulebook! the only thing that was really changed was the table size and deployment (because the centaurs would have had to deploy on the very top of the mountains...
Basically, on his way to pilfer the Golden Fleece from Aeetes in Colchis, Jason, the great larcenist of antiquity decided to pull a side-job and make off with the Sacred Mole of Ukkert! One of the Argonaut units is carrying the Sacred Mole and needs to exit off the opposite corner of the table. If they do, the argonauts win! If they don't (because the unit has been eliminated!) the Centaurs win!
Jason - Elite Foot, Single Model Unit - 6 Points
Herakles - Elite Foot, Single Model Unit, Mystical Armour (Nemean Lion's Skin) - 8 points
Zetes - Scout, Single Model Unit, Flying - 4 Points
Argonauts - Heavy Foot - 4 points
Argonauts - Heavy Foot - 4 points
Centaur Matriarch - Light Rider, Single Model Unit - 4 points
Centaur Warriors - Heavy Riders - 4 Points
Centaur Warriors - Heavy Riders - 4 Points
Centaur Skirmishers - Light Riders - 4 Points
Centaur Skirmishers - Light Riders - 4 Points
Satyrs - Light Missiles - 4 Points
So, the Argonauts have two more points, but I stipulated that Zetes could not carry the Sacred Mole (it's cage is just too heavy to fly with). I went with a Light Rider Single Model Unit for the Centaur Matriarch make her fast and able to run away and the shooting ability is to represent her ability to do magic or curses or something... Zetes isn't carrying any sort of shooty weapons, but I figured the ability represents him flying over units and dropping rocks on them.
Setting up! I gave Finnegan the choice of forces, after explaining the scenario and all the forces and their abilities and he went with the Centaurs.
The Argonauts having nicked the Sacred Mole, are attempting to get to the Argo and make good their escape. Leaving the Vale of the Sacred Mole they encounter a host of rather put-off Centaurs that have no inclination to just let them leave with their Sacred Mole.
(I had to secretly write down who was carrying the Mole - I chose Heracles... I had thought about giving it to one of the units of Argonauts to hid amongst themselves, but, thematically, Herakles seemed the most likely to be carrying it, and I am ALL ABOUT THE NARRATIVE!)
The Centaur Host, blocking the Argonauts path.
All of the Argonauts made their way forward, further up into the pass. Well, all except Zetes. He had a pebble in his sandal. He shouted out "No! No, you go on ahead, I'll catch up!"
And then it was the Centaurs turn... Most moved forward the Centaru warriors getting ready to charge. The Matriarch and one of the units of Centaur Skirmishers made Skirmish actions - a half move with reduced shooting action. The former's attack was not particularly effective. The Matriarch had tried to curse Jason with The Pain of a Thousand Eels, but instead only conjured a breeze that made his beautiful locks flow in the wind.
The Satyrs had a bit more success. Their leader shouted out "Fill 'em full of bronze, boys!" and they rained arrows down on one of the units of Argonauts, Piercing Amphidamas through the thigh.
(I kept Neil Smith's Jason and the Argonauts handy - to look up names of Argonauts to be wounded when the Centaurs caused casualties).
This injury triggered a Courage Check and...
The Argonauts were broken by their compatriots injury - and they broke and ran!
The Centaur Skirmishers also shot at Jason, and the flurry of arrows made him hid behind his shield for a moment, damaging his self-esteem.
To start things off I had to attempt to rally the Argonauts.
ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME!?
The Retreat quickly turned into a panic, which almost turned into a route - as they Argonauts continued to flee perilously close to the edge of the table! Iphitus completely lost and ran off into the nearby woods (failing a Courage Check, while the unit is already Battered, means losing another Strength Point). Jason had to spend his Action moving back to help with their next Rally test.
GUYS! SERIOUSLY! YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE HEROES!"
Herakles continued up into the pass and spied the Centaur Matriarch. He had a brief moment of confusion, unsure if he should attack or seduce that Magnificent Mare (oh those Greeks...)! The other Argonauts, finding themselves alone and with Centaur Warriors bearing down on them, formed up locking their shields together.
The Centaurs charged the Argonauts and broke upon their shieldwall as waves upon... something waves break upon...? Clytius was kicked in the head and rendered unconscious, but one of the Cantuars was also taken down, so the attackers were obliged to retreat.
The Martiarch tried to summon the Curse of the Legless Goat upon Herakles, but only seemed to make the sheen of his Nemean Lion Hide even more... sheeny... She shook her staff and wondered aloud "Is this thing even working!?"
Having failed to curse the demi-god, teh Matriarch ordered her other unit of Centaur warriors to charge!
"He is only one MAN!' cried the warriors leader.
From behind, one of the warriors protested; "but he is a rather LARGE man!?"
As they met, Herakles stoved in the head of the first centaur to reach him with his mighty club, then stepped aside and shattered the back of a second. While he was turned a third centaur managed to get in a stab under his protective cloak, piercing his gluteal muscles before the survivors galloped off in horror!
A lucky shot from one of the Centaur Skirmishers further injured Herakles as the arrow struck him through his forearm. He broke off the arrow tip and yanked the shaft out more angered than pained by the attack!
Jason's passioned plea rallied the fleeing Argos and they gathered themselves and prepared to return to the fight. Jason turned and sped back up the hill.
The enraged Herakles charged after the fleeing centaurs. The brief clash was brutal and bloody. The Greek Hero, blessed of Hera, slaughtered all but one of the remaining Centaurs. But Herakles took a beating himself as the mighty centaurs crashed into him and stabbed at his legs which were not covered by his protective cloak. (Herakles now below half Strength! Uh-oh!)
The other unit of Argos decided there was no way they'd get back to the ship if they just sat there waiting for the Centaurs to come to them, and charged up the hill after the fleeing centaurs.
They took a second out of action and the Centaur Warriors continued to gallop away from them.
On the Centaurs turn, the warriors circled and charged again! This time Polydeuces was pierced through his breastplate - not enough to kill, but enough to cause some serious bleeding and the brother of Castor was compelled to fall out of line and bind the wound. The Centaurs took the worse beating, losing two more of their own and retired back up the hill.
Others took some shots but failed to hit and the Matriarch failed her attempt to preform a skirmish action, ending their turn.
The Argonauts charged the Matriarch - who failed to Evade, She was injured, slightly, and retired from her attackers.
The others advanced further up into the pass
Both Warrior unit broken and the Argos moving up a little TOO close to the Skirmishing Centaurs and their matriarch, Finnegan decided it was time to use their mobility to his advantage and pull some of those units back to the other side of the pass where they could rain arrows down on the Heroes as they crested the heights.
TheMatriarch attempted the Curse of the Inebriated Llama on the Argos, which did not work at all... Probably because the greeks had no idea what a Llama even was.
The Centaur archers had more luck, piercing Menoetius with an arrow through the shoulder.
All the Greeks advanced. Except Jason, who was too busy shouting at everyone else to advance!
Or maybe HE had a pebble in HIS sandal now! Whatever the reason, he failed to move... Sandals are the worst.
Some of the Centaurs continued their tactical withdrawal, while other shot at the lead group of Argos, seriously injuring Erytus. This proved to be the last straw for this group of Argonauts and they fled the field, hoping to find an alternate route back to their ship!
Herakles managed to charge one of the surviving groups of warriors and dashed one of them against the rocky cliff face of the mountain. The sole survivor fled in terror!
Zetes hurling stones from on high, managed to hit the Matriarch in the right breast injuring and outraging her!
So horrified by sight of Herakles vicious killing, the entire host of centaurs stopped and stared for a moment.
(failed first activation attempt, nothing happened)
Getting close! Looking like there might be a chance...
Herakles chased down and killed the last of the Centaur warriors he had been fighting. Zetes Attacked the Centaur Matriarch hitting her with stones again. Jason attempted to charge the Centaur Skirmishers who successfully evaded.
The other Centaur Skirmishers let fly at Herakles, puncturing his foot. Severely wounded and losing enthusiasm for this endeavour, Herakles managed to pass his Courage Test and soldiered on.
The other centaur Skirmishers showered arrows down on the remaining Argonauts, felling Butes. The Argonaust withdrew from the storm of missiles.
The Argonauts quickly regained their nerve and turned to reenter the fight. Herakles stumbled forward, determined to make it to the Argo. Jason attempted to charge the Centaur matriarch, who again successfully evaded.
The last remaining Centaur Warrior charged Herakles. Both were to weary to injure their opponent with the blows they traded.
The Matriarch attempted to conjure a curse to make his hair fall out... but it only ended up looking fuller and wavier. Arrows rained down on Jason and Herakles. Jason was missed, but Herakles was hit - BUT for once his Mysticcal Armour actually saved him! Woo!
The Argonauts charged the final Centaur Warrior and took it down, but the warrior soul itself dearly, brining down Läertes with them! Jason charged the Matriarch, once again, who successfully evaded - retreating into the very corner of the battlefield. Herakles pointed his great club at the Centaur Skirmishers and shouted "I'm coming for YOU!" but lacked the energy to charge and stopped to catch his breath.
The Centaur matriarch attempted one last curse; the Claws of 500 Badgers... This one actually worked - and Jason skreiked as his body was lacerated with scores of cuts and ran screaming from the field of battle. It only caused one damage, but...
He super failed on his Courage Check and ROUTED...
This caused a cascade of failures. The rest of the force had to do Courage Checks, of which both Herakles and the remaining Argonauts failed.
Centaur Skirmishers then shot at the Argonauts felling Telamon and Peleus - failing another Courage Test, Eriginus fled the field of battle (or, perhaps, he was helping the injured Telamon and Peleus to safety...). The Satyrs then shot at them, felling two more and that was it for the Argonauts - they threw down their arms and entreated the Centaurs to show them mercy.
This dropped the army below half and Herakles was obliged to test Courage again... and failed... failing a Courage Test when battered means losing another Strength Point and as he only had one left. He resigned and relinquished the Sacred Mole of Ukkert to the Centaurs, calling to his fellow Argonauts; "I'm sorry, lads, I have failed you in this endeavour. I just have not the vigour to vanquish this energetic and implacable foe..."
And THAT's why you never read about the Sacred Mole of Ukkert in any of the standard versions of the tales of Jason and the Argonaut's voyages!
The game was SUPER FUN and Finnegan suggested he would be up for more gaming like this!
What to do next, though!? Since this game I've been considering the aforementioned games by Neil Thomas, Dan Mercy and Andrea Sfiligoi (and assorted co-authors and conspirators). Finnegan said he is "less interested" in purely historical battles, but would be totally down with any sort of mythical or fantastical kinds of games. I do have other Greek mythological creatures and gods and heroes. We could possibly give Of Gods and Mortals a try.
Published by Osprey Games, Of Gods and Mortals was the very first game I picked up by Andrea Sfiligoi, which I was immediately enamoured with and ran out and bought Song of Blades and Heroes and a bunch of the other Ganesha Games. Though I have played MANY of the games using the same basic game engine, I have never actually played Of Gods and Mortals!? Maybe it is time.
I've also been giving a serious look at a Fistful of King Fu - Another game in the series, also published by Osprey Games, which I was SUPER EXCITED about when it was first announced. I went ALL IN on the North Star pre-order - picking up all of the gangs that they sold along with the book (this was pre-Nikstarter days... so there wasn't a bunch of bonus goodies...) but by the time the game arrived and I'd gotten through painting (most of) the miniatures... I'd moved on... I think I was feeling like I'd need to make a BUNCH of new terrain to play the game and didn't have enough energy or enthusiasm for it anymore.
We COULD always just play some straight up games of Song of Blades and Heroes - Finnegan actually has his OWN miniatures he could put together into a warband for that game! I like the idea of forging some sort of narrative campaign for that, though. I like running it almost like a tabletop role-playing game with me a Game Master - presenting challenges and encounters for a band of adventurers or whatever.
So, lots of ideas... not sure what we'll do next... just have to wait and see, I guess!