Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Muck and the Mire (and some other places) - Cragheart, Mindthief, and Gloomhaven continued campaign (part 2)

Everyone's favorite character design was the Cragheart, but the model was a little lumpy and unspectacular, so I decided to do some radical surgery.

I added a lot of flying debris: I've played with this style of effect a couple times before, and, more than anything, this work has taught me patience with kneadatite: as soon as I reach a decent stopping point, I will stop to let it cure, because otherwise I'd probably mess it up.

Less dramatic, I also added a couple millimeters of height to his ankles, since the model was remarkably short and, a lot of Gloomhaven models seem to have disproportionately small legs: I don't know if this is intentional, but it's not an aesthetic I like so, either way, he got some height.

The Vermling Mindthief took a fair bit less effort, since I liked the model more. I mostly just added the smallest Warhammer oversized rats I had, and sculpted it so the weird nubby elevated base didn't look out of place. The extended arm is also re-posed, but that's rather difficult to notice.

Campaign, part 2
continued from part 1
(copy-pasted explanatory intro)

This will inevitably have some spoilers so it doesn't read "In a level, there was a room with guys, then we completed the thing we were supposed to do," which would be completely incoherent and boring.

However, in keeping with GH's obfuscation (which is a pretty neat mechanic and is teaching me to maybe tolerate legacy designs), I'm trying to keep spoilers on the light sideI'll be using italics for story stuff that might be more spoilery.

This will probably be best read either as someone who's already played, or read by players who aren't immediately going to play (so my vague spoilers aren't particularly fresh in your mind when you get to the scenario).

A lot of this will, therefore, be about the experience rather than the details.

I'll vaguely describe strategies, emphasized with bold my group found worked well (or didn't), so, if you're browsing this for tactics, it might also be useful. Also, hopefully this will keep things interesting enough without spoiling details with describing more memorable surprises.

I'll also be using location names, not numbers, to keep the map a little more obscured in theory.

Mission 6: Toxic Moor (9)
We started off, trading some loot for a mystery, which turned out to be another level.

We'd already decided to try out the poison zone we'd unlocked early, and all agreed to try out what seemed to be a side quest, rather than getting straight back into the story, so we tried out what we quickly realized was a gauntlet level. Somehow sensing how wrecked-up the tree was, on the other side of the map, we pushed as hard as we could. As with many scenarios, it felt a little artificial, getting a timer on a scenario we can play whenever we want, when we already have the timer of running out of actions...

True to its name, the Toxic Moor was, as we expected (and why we initially avoided it), full of poisoning dudes.

This one was a bit rough, even with generally flexible maneuvering. The level of bottlenecks here led to probably the tensest our group's been, and we could have done better coordinating.

We won, though not with very much leeway.

We couldn't tell if we gamed the scenario... It was a lot easier, letting the Drakes come to us.

Mission 7: Abandoned Sewers (10)
We decided to try another possible one-shot, b/c one of the group wanted to do more stuff in the city, so, into the sewers we went.

This also happened to be the place where we realized that our main goals aren't secret. So! Some backstory!

Urd, our Cragheart, wants to kill forest imps and then has other plans. Janett, our spellweaver, wants to build up her cards. Gezelda, our Mindthief, wants to kill bandits and cultists. Archibald, our Tinkerer, wants to kill Vermlings (other than his coworkers).

Of these, at this point, Gezelda and Archibald are the only ones that have made any progress.
Being good samaritans before the fight was actually perfect, since it got two of us enough XP to level up. Then we took a trip below the city.

So... this was another cluttered level. We definitely suffer from traffic jams a lot, but this was largely counteracted by crowd control. Cool new enemies, but nothing particular to report after that. 

We discovered the source of the problem and...

Mission 8: Frozen Hollow (11)
...followed our new information, bartering a quest to the caves for some loot, but not before some requests for help, one of which increased our prosperity and one of which gave us a minor penalty.

This area was full of tanky and/or retaliatory guys, but our group is very range-oriented, so did pretty well. We got a couple rough turns right at the end, which had us a bit tense then, but we pulled through, getting the chest.

Oh, and I got a personal best, at 47 gold in a session!

Then Enhancements were unlocked, which was all sorts of exciting. We weren't very sure where to go next, but eventually we decided to keep going in the same (roundabout) quest and to tackle the...

Mission 9: Drake Nest (12)
First, two of us added hexes to our area attacks. FWIW, we went with the semi-non-destructive approach, by affixing the stickers to sleeves. Then we got a neat bit of gear from our event. (So far, we're learning to trust strangers who won't tell you what they're selling. Good life lessons.)

Again, the description more or less told us what to expect; having fought some drakes already, we were prepared for another set of fewer, stronger guys.

One of us ran in alone, somehow expecting not to get killed, and got killed. That would be the main reason for all 4 losses we've had.

Pro tip: Don't run in without a really good plan!

We did pretty average after that, but that start was enough that we were a few attacks shy of winning.

Mission 9: Drake Nest (again! 13)
This time with strategy!

Well, this time we went in, had figured out how to handle those stupid fire demons (indirectly), and got a few lucky draws that kept baddies from making attacks at convenient points.

With the exception of poor Gezelda's complete inability to draw anything but a null, this one went extremely smoothly. Mostly, we just coordinated well, and did a better job judging threats and applying the right amount of force in the right direction.

Huzzah! That one felt pretty darn smooth, compared to kind of disorganized.

We also hit prosperity 2 and unlocked our blessing-based envelope, which was pretty neat.

Mission 10: Ancient Cistern (14)
Having all the components we needed to proceed, we returned to the beginning, to finish our sewer mini-quest. 

So, we got in there, and even with some situational advantages the small-seeming level turned out to be a complete slog. 

This was the first scenario that I felt our loss had nothing to do with player error.  We got a lot of unfortunately timed moves: we got two terrible timings for multi-attacks, and one single baddie action lost us the entire party 2 turns.

So, at the bottom of the level 3 range,  with a bit of bad luck, we regular-old-lost.

Mission 10: Easy mode :P (15)
After some talking, since we were at the bottom of level 3, and things felt overwhelming, and, most important, we all recognized that we wouldn't have fun if this ended up requiring a third scenario run, which mattered more than our pride, we played the next one on easy.

The lessened damage output was enough that we were able to win this one, again, feeling like one of our better coordination jobs, handicap or no.

May I remind the attentive reader that, after four scenarios, braving the mountains, forest, demons, dragons, death (TPKing twice), those damn guards who gave us a mission still haven't paid us a dollar, unless the scenario rewards here are to be inferred to be from guards who were never mentioned.