Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Darklands battle report: Norse vs. Khthones (499 gold)

Mierce Miniatures is currently doing their third Kickstarter, to fund and flesh out the rules for Darklands. To date, there haven't really been a lot of battle reports showing how the game works, and whether or not it's fun! This the first of a couple of battles I hope to do over the next few weeks, showing off a few of the models Mierce produces, giving a bit of background into the world they're playing in (which isn't that far off from our own), and highlighting some of the rule differences between this game and others that are currently out there.
Skirmish combat and a lightning bolt or two, after the jump!

Skranjun scowled as the warband continued trudging through the foliage on this cursed island. When his Skipari had first put his longships in, the crew had all been excited at finding the little island off the western coast of Kernow.  It existed on no charts, and more importantly, had an settlement without walls visible from the shore. The celebration over plunder died out as they had stormed the settlement, and found the inhabitants oddly missing. They took a chance to hunt and refill their fresh water stores, before the Skipari had made his decision: he would send Hrafnmenn inland, to figure out where the dwellers had gone, and where they'd hidden their silver.
The Gothi had cast his runes, and saw death in them. He argued with the Skipari that the land had no worth, and they should go back to raiding the helmeted humans around Carn Dhu, but the Skipari was in charge, and resented Skranjun's questions. However, he still gave some credence to the runes, hence why the Gothi found himself marching inland with his Jarl and two of their kindred.
As they marched through a ravine, the Hrafnmann accompanying the trolls landed quietly alongside. "Movement," the half-bird croaked. "Not far ahead. Seems larger than humans. Maybe another of those cursed brutes?" Kerdunn, the Jarl, bellowed an order. He too had been frustrated with the assignment, but the humans built and crewed the longships that allowed the trolls to raid for meat and plunder, and so the Jarls listened to what the Skipari said as well.
The branches parted, and sinuous forms slithered forth from the underbrush. Behind them, a lizard the size of a small Vore strode through the foliage, its beady eyes glittering with malice. A serpent clad in half-plate armor hissed syllables that carried through the brush, and his warriors responded to them.
"Thor be with us!" boomed Kerdunn as he drew his cleaver and pointed the trolls towards the scaly ones.

This battle features an Encounter between a Norse warband and a Khthones warband. The lists for each are as follows:

For the Norse:
Kerdunn, a Troll Jarl with Heavy Armor (145 gold)
commanding 2 Trolls with Heavy Armor and a Yfirthurs (150 gold)
also commanding 1 Hrafnmann, who is a Yfirhrafn (64 gold)
and a secondary Commander: Skranjun, a Troll Gothi (127 gold).

For the Khthones:
Ssstivores, a Gorgonarch with heavy half plate (132 gold)
commanding 2 Gorgonares with heavy half plate and a Champion of Khthon (159 gold)
and a secondary Commander: Stetrunyos, a Liskarch with Heavy Scavenged Armor (200 gold).

Using the current muster rules, the Liskarch should be the General of the Khthones force (his Authority is 1 higher than the Gorgonarch), but since there are no Liskar models (or indeed rules for them), we agreed the Gorgonarch would be the General for this encounter.

We deployed in opposite corners. The Gorgonarch deployed Joined to the unit of Gorgonares, with the Liskarch just to the middle of the board. The Trolls deployed with the Hrafnmann on the right flank, the Trolls leading the front, and the Gothi and Jarl deployed behind.
We then issued our Initial Orders.

Hour 1:
The Khthones Gained the Initiative, and activated the Liskarch, who was under Move orders, first. He moved him into the forest.
He then attempted to Retain the Initiative with the Gorgonares. He succeeded, and marched the Gorgonares up as well. He then issued new orders to the Liskarch, who succeeded his Authority test to accept them.
As a counter, the Norse player activated his Trolls (Attack order) and had them Run.
Since the Khthones player had already activated all his units, he passed the Initiative back to the Norse player, who moved the Holumann (Attack order) up along the left flank, moved the Gothi (Move order) laterally across the field, and the Jarl (Attack order) up behind the Trolls.
The field at the end of Hour 1.

Hour 2:
"The runes had forseen death," thought Skranjun,"but whose had they seen?"
The lizard/serpents had moved forward through the grass with alarming speed, though the larger lizard had moved into the shelter of the trees for some reason. Kerdunn seemed content to let the serpents come to him; he tended to lean towards inaction rather than action until the time was right - probably why his paunch was growing. Still, the Jarl hefted his cleaver with the best of them, and it would be many years before another troll would be able to challenge him for leadership."Let them come," grumbled the massive Troll Jarl. "A solid blow should be enough to slice through these skinny ones, and then we can feast on what's left."
The Khthones again Gained the Initiative, and moved the Gorgonares up.
The Khtones player then attempted to Retain the Initiative with the Liskarch, and succeeded. The Liskarch (now under Attack orders) Ran out of the forest, and decided to Shoot his Baleful Gaze against one of the Trolls. He succeeded, and the Troll failed his Constitution Test, taking 18 damage. He then passed the Initiative to the Norse player.

The Norse player activated his Gothi. The Gothi performed a Run action to get behind the Gorgonares, and then Invoked Lightning Bolt, choosing to boost its Power by 2. He successfully Invoked with two dice, and caused 23 damage to one of the Gorgonares.
Thor's power smites the Gorgonares!

With the Khthones units all Fatigued, the Norse player then Charged his Troll unit against the Gorgonares. The Trolls did 7 damage from their Bulk Charge, and then did 24 more from the Cleavers, enough to slay one of the Gorgonares and put 5 damage on the other. 
(As an Editor's note: we messed up Parry rolls on this game; we used the C+A for all models at full health, rather than reflecting the damage done to the unit. Later on, it would make a crucial difference in the game, but hasn't to this point because you use the C+A of the healthy member of a unit).
The Troll charge, before any blows are scored.
The Norse player then activated his other units, using the Gothi to block the Liskarch from charging into the Blind side of the Troll unit, and moving the Hrafnmann into the Liskarch's Blind arc.

Hour 3:
Skranjun cackled as Thor's lightning seared scale and bone, and the acrid taste of ozone on the air reminded him, as it always did, of the Thunder God's might. His Troll brethren waited patiently for the snakes to come in range, and then executed a perfectly timed charge as the serpents winded themselves. Surely Odin's ravens would bring word of this mighty victory back to him, of how we slew these spawn of Niohoggr and claimed this land!Kerdunn had behaved as a good Jarl should - he had let his kin take the field against the lesser beasts, and positioned himself both to save them from the larger threat, and win the greater glory by slaying the stone-lizard. The Hrafnmann had moved to behind the creature, probably to strike one of the cowardly blows that typified its kind. "That sort of attack was more likely to please Loki than Thor", Skranjun thought, and he hoped his Jarl would strike the killing blow. He did not trust this stone serpent, with its gleaming eyes that could somehow change troll flesh to stone, which froze the blood and slowed the arm. Perhaps he would take the beasts eyes when the battle was won, if Kerdunn did not wish to claim them as trophies.
The Khthones commander continued with his snake-like reflexes, and Gained the Initiative again. This time, he activated the Gorgonares unit, and performed an Attack Move to get the Gorgonarch into the battle. The Gorgonarch did 5 damage with his Bite attack, and then added 25 more with his Polekhine to slay a troll and put 2 damage on the Yfirthurs. The Gorgonar missed with his bite and tail, and the Troll parried his three hits. The troll hit back with 6 of his Cleaver dice, but the Gorgonar parried 5 of them, taking 8 damage.
The Khthones player again Retained the Initiative (which, I've been told after the fact, is illegal: each Commander may only Retain the Initiative once per game!), and charged the Liskarch into the Gothi. He did 5 damage with his Bulk Charge, 7 with his Tail Strike, 4 with his Club, and 6 with his Chain. The Jarl parried nothing, until the Liskarch swung with his Stone Blade, when the Troll parried all four successful Strikes. The Jarl swung back, causing 26 damage with his Cleaver. The Jarl's Constitution stood at 34, while the Liskarch's stood at 30.
The Troll player then activated the Gothi, Ran him into the Liskarch's blind arc, and attempted to Invoke Earthed, again boosting the Damage by 2. However, because we used the Liskarch's full C+A of 75 (instead of 49), the Invocation caused no damage. The Gothi's Constitution dropped to 34 after paying the Price.
The Troll player then activated the Hrafnmann, and Charged him into the back of the Liskarch. Six of his Strike Dice hit, but (again using C+A of 75 instead of 49) the Liskarch Parried 5 of them. The successful dice rolled a 0, doing no damage to the Liskarch.
The Liskarch doesn't seem to mind.
An epic duel between an unpainted Liskarch, an unpainted Hrafnmann, and a Troll Gothi.

Hour 4
"Does Thor fight with us?" thought Skranjun as the combat waged. His brethren had slain one of the snakes, but then the armored one had raised itself up and driven its glaive through the throat of the trolls before it. The Gothi could see its blood watering the grass in slow pulses as the body struggled to fight on, not realizing that the following stroke from the armored snake had cloven through the troll's unusually thick skull and splattered its brains across the earth.The stone lizard had proven even more frightening, at least to the Gothi. Kerdunn had waited for it to charge, and taken a club and tail strike to provide the scars he used to remember his enemies. The strike with the chain seemed to have taken him off guard, though he parried the lizard's stone glaive with the expertise that had earned him and his tribe room in the Skipari's boats. His return strokes had chipped large chunks of stone from the creature's tail and one of its arms, but the beast showed no signs of slowing down. In fact, its eyes seemed to gleam with joy at having found a challenge. The Hrafnmann had, as expected, charged into the back of the fight, but his blades had bounced harmlessly off the thick stone hide.He had called for the dvergr beneath the earth to drag the stone lizard into their realm, but the ground had not stirred itself. Even so, Kerdunn was a Troll Jarl just past the prime of his life. His blows still had the strength of his youth, though some of his mass had changed to fat as he became complacent. The Gothi had seen his blows bring down mantichora, and the horns on his shoulder plate came from a beast Kerdunn had brought down with a headbutt after its tusks had disarmed his cleaver.  He would feel better about the combat, though, were the stone lizard not quite so large.

In the Fourth Hour, the Norse player finally gained the Initiative, and activated the Jarl. He first attempted to change the Gothi's order to Attack, but the Gothi failed his Authority test. The Jarl threw his attacks into the Liskarch, but again using the wrong C+A, the Liskarch parried all the attacks. The then used his Tail Strike against the Hrafnmann behind him "like a horse flots a swy" (we had been drinking during the game). The attack did 2 points of damage to the Hrafnmann. The Liskarch then put everything else into the Jarl, doing 4 damage with his Maul, 8 with his chain, and 18 with his Stone Blade. The Troll Jarl's Constitution stood at 4, while the Liskarch's remained at 30. The Hrafnmann attacked as well, but (still using the wrong C+A) all the attacks were parried. It was at this point we realized we had been doing C+A wrong, but after several beers and four Hours, we decided to continue doing it wrong for consistency's sake.
Epic duel, more epic whiff.
The Norse player succeeded in Retaining the Initiative, and activated his Troll unit. The Troll was able to kill the remaining Gorgonar, but the Gorgonarch mowed through the remaining Troll, doing 1 damage with the tail, 3 with a bite, and then a staggering 43 with the Polekhine.
That's a dead troll, right there.
The Norse player then activated the Gothi, Ran behind the Gorgonarch, and unleashed a Lightning Bold. This time, 4 dice Invoked (with a lucky 9), and the Gorgonarch took 32 damage, dropping his Constitution to 12.
"Run closer! I want to Lightning Bolt it with my hammer!"

Hour 5
How quickly the Norns had changed things! One moment Skranjun was debating the best way to store the eyes of the stone lizard to find a way to embed them in his predecessor's skull, the next his Jarl had turned coward and the battle had lost."Aid me!" Kerdunn had bellowed at Skranjun. "Bring your arm in here and aid me in slaying my foe!" Skranjn had refused. A Gothi is generally older, and connected to Thor, and only engages in combat when there is no other choice. Kerdunn should have been able to slay the beast; his arm was still strong, and he had a Hrafnmann behind him to provide a distraction. The Gothi are wise, and his wisdom (and the whispers of his predecessor, whose skull adorned his staff) told him that his presence could not help the Jarl.Worse, the armored serpent had slain the second of his kindred, drawing his glaive across the troll's throat with enough force to decapitate the Gothi's hard-to-kill kinsman. The armored serpent would be able to charge Kerdunn's rear, and Skranjun's as well should he enter the fray. Instead, he moved behind and called upon Thor's might. The clouds had answered, and the resulting lightning bolt would have, he was sure, slain one of the smaller serpents. The armored serpent had been greatly damaged by the attack, and if he did charge Kerdunn, his Jarl should be able to defend himself. Between his cleaver and the Hrafnmann behind the stone lizard, surely their blows would get through the creature's skin before the serpent could react from its victory! To be safe, though, he would call upon Thor to destroy the serpent first. He raised his staff aloft and pointed his hammer at the armor-clad snake. "Thor, pierce the sky with your thunderbolts, and reduce this serpent to ash, for your glory!"

The Norse player Gained the Initiative, and activated the Gothi. He attempted to Invoke another Lightning Bolt, but flubbed the Invocation roll and got nothing out of it.
The Norse Retained the Initiative, and activated the Jarl. He failed to cause any damage on the Liskarchon, who did 7 to the Hrafnmann behind him before doing horrible things to the Jarl's remaining 4 Constitution. To make matters worse, the Hrafnmann continued to be unable to get through the Liskarchon's defenses.
The dead Jarl lies at the Liskarch's feet.
The Khthones player then activated his Gorgonarch, and charged the Hrafnmann. The combat ended about how you'd expect: with a dead Hrafnmann.
The Liskarch doesn't even bother turning around, he's so confident in his commander.
At the end of the fifth hour, the Norse player has to take a Woe test, because his Mustered General is dead. The Gothi fails spectacularly, rolling a 95 and fleeing the battle. The Coldbloods win the day!
The lone Norse survivor gets the heck out of there!

He had called for Thor, and the thunder god had not answered. Skranjun had feared the death his bones had showed him that morning, but he knew the death would not be his. Instead, Kerdunn - child of his sister's son, and his Jarl - lay with his entrails exposed to feed the beasts. He had been enthused by the combat, and swung at the stone lizard before it could react, but his cleaver had done nothing more than carve chips from its shoulders, and had not slowed the stone one down. Almost casually, the stone lizard had gotten that odd gleam in its eye, and then swung its chain and wrapped it around Kerdunn's neck. It had lifted - pulling up the Jarl's head - and then slashed down with the stone blade clasped in two of its other hands, opening the Jarl from breast to groin. The troll guts had slid forth into a pile on the ground, where they now stood steaming in the cold air. The armored lizard had ignored Skranjun, perhaps knowing him to be old, weak from his invocations, and not worth the time. Instead he had charged straight towards the Hrafnmann, sinking his teeth into the raven-man before bringing its glaive down through one of the raven's wings and taking a leg on the counterswing. Then, as the bird's body slumped to the ground in death, the snake had detached from its prey, and swiveled around to fix Skranjunn with a look from its vertically slitted eye."The Skipari must be warned," was the thought going through Skranjun's mind as he turned and fled. At least, that's the thought he told the Skipari some hours later, when recounting the slaughter the lizards had wreaked among his kin. Now the Skipari stood in council with his Steersmen and the other Skipari, trying to decide whether this island was worth more of their men, or whether they should return to the lands of the skraelings, where much easier prey awaited the dragon-prowed ships.

1 comment:

  1. Very much enjoyed reading this Ryan (particularly the comment on the lack of Liskar models, I hope Mierce take note! :D )

    Nice to see the mix of Fluff and Rules, just enough of both to both 'see' the battle, and understand what was going on.