System: Battletech / Mechwarrior Basic 2e
Setting: The Capellan March, Inner Sphere
Players: Tim, Adam
Schedule: Occasional Thursdays
- Mjolnir's Wrath was invited by their contact, Lt. James Hollaster, to a sort of "contract party" hosted in the Fortymile system. The AFFS was apparently planning a military campaign that was going to make significant use of merc units, and a number of the best in the region were present in the large hotel conference hall.
- The officiating major welcomed the various units and presented 8 potential contract offers with few details for which they could offer their services, including planetary assault, search & destroy, and reconnaissance. The evening was to be spent in negotiations and socializing over horderves, dinner, and champaign. Hollaster had privately suggested they take one of the low-paying recon missions, but his motives are not precisely clear and something with a bit more cash and action seems more attractive...
- The group found themselves under attack by mystery agents - presumably tied to the RVR corporation. Hotel Bluestar security arrived on the scene shortly after, but the chaos of the situation was already out of hand. The group managed to fight off the attackers and escape before more Bluestar arrived on-scene.
- Having obtained the data from the designated contact, V made the swap with K-Method for info on "Justin Mills". The alias was apparently being used by a corporate mercenary and assassin by the name of Victor Malstrik who seemed to be hired by a defunct corporation called Aethercorp.
- The group received a message from the DCPD on behalf of Marrion Plaskov, who had requested to speak with them. Their conversation didn't make much sense, but he did slip them a business card for an antique shop in the Neon district with the word "Watchful" hand-written on the back.
- V got a message from Rory offering a job. He apparently needed whatever was in the case Victor had taken, and is offering the group 60k to swipe another from the upper levels of the Proto-Nine headquarters...
Homestar Decemberween IOUs
And it did! Eventually. When it came in a month or so ago, he hurried over to my house with it. We took a look and the humorous contents and read the hilarious rulebook, but we didn't have time to play...
...until last night!
Some Good, Old-Fashioned Burninating
While the game's flavor definitely plays for ridiculous laughs, the actual game-play is pretty solid. The basic mechanics are a tug-of-war-style back-and-forth on your health and the tiles that make up the game board. The game is co-op (which I love), and the players take turns moving Trogdor around the board, burninating the countryside (tiles), peasants, and finally, thatch-roofed cottages. But after each player moves the mighty, beefy-armed dragon, they'll also draw a card for the movement of the peasants, knights, and archers which can repair some of Troggy's damage - and also damage him. You win if you can ever toast the entire board and everything on it.
The game was fun, and involves quite a bit of strategy (if you really want to think about it that hard). The turns are generally fun and satisfying - they give you options without being overwhelming. And they're pretty quick once you get the hang of it (unless you're agonizing over which card to play).
In our play-through, we seemed to get pretty unlucky up-front, and by the end of the game, we were having the dragon move and hide from the knights for multiple turns before we could bring some special cards into play and burn(inate) the final cottages to win. For an absurd game, there was quite a bit of serious discussion on what should be done each turn by the end of it, which I think speaks to some good game design.
Our session lasted a bit over an hour, but we were figuring things out and taking it pretty seriously (the cat-and-mouse at the end drug it out some). It probably plays a bit quicker on average.
The game plays up to 6 people, making it a good choice for slightly-larger groups (a lot of games cap at 4-5). Mechanically, you could probably even play with up to 9 people (there are 9 Keepers and Items), but the game experience might get a little fractured in one way or another.
The printed age range is 12+, but I'm betting my 8yo could probably handle it pretty well. While kids' strategy might be less-developed, the actual turn actions are pretty straight-forward.
Overall, I'm pretty impressed with this one and I'm sure it'll get a bit of play at our table. BGG is giving Troggy a 7.3 at the moment, which is pretty decent - I've found anything over about 6.5 or so is at least worth a look. Iron Dragon, one of my favorites, comes in as a 7.0.
The game isn't available for retail purchase quite yet, but they're promising it soon here.
You can see Strong Bad's (musical) game overview here - and you really, really should.
Oh, and if you want to know where this madness comes from, this is it.
- Concerned about a double-cross from Justin, the group hurried back upstairs. There they did indeed find someone with a gun in the room with Plaskov, but it wasn't the thug - it was Rory, a former coworker V knew from his days at Proto-Nine. V and Mario were able to talk him down enough to pass on what they knew about Justin and the case he had taken, at which point Rory bolted out of the room, apparently in pursuit. Unsure exactly of what was going on, the group kept tabs on the room until the police arrived - just to make sure no one else came in trying to do something with their target.
- They met up with Sgt. Askara again the following morning. She told them their pay would be on the card, but commented that there were a few details of the case that didn't make any sense. For one, Dynamics (the primary financial corp of the city) hadn't said word one about the missing cash. Also, they'd had an odd call from someone at Proto-Nine asking if they recovered any of the company's property when they arrested the perpetrator.
- Meanwhile, V got a response from someone within the hacker collective he'd asked to dig up info on their medic friend, Justin Mills. The contact, a person going by the handle "K-Method", told them there were 16 records for "Justin Mills" in Delcron's personnel database, only two of which were active. None of the 16 looked anything like the medic. The contact said they had additional info, but if he wanted it, V was going to have to do something for them. Namely, he needed to go to a casino in the upscale Marquee district and exchange an ID card for a data stick from a certain man. After some discussion, the group decided they'd make the exchange. V made the card per K-Method's instructions, and the crew bought some fancy clothes and made their way to the White Stag Hotel Casino.
- While Mario made some money gambling, the others set about looking for their mark in the sprawling 4-level gaming hall - eventually finding him among a group of wealthly-looking individuals from the RVR corporation - the single most powerful corp in Delcron City.
- When V gave the man the ID card, he was given a hotel keycard and a room number instead of a datastick, and was advised to 'keep an eye on' a particular man that seemed to be watching their exchange. The group headed into the hotel, pretty sure they were being followed, and made their way up to floor 56 which was undergoing renovations. While the others waited in the cluttered hallway, V found a suitcase in the room containing the datastick and a silenced, high-caliber pistol with a note reading "just in case". About that time, Kendra heard a crashing sound of something coming up behind them...
- While Lily and Taryn inspected the dagger they'd found in the abbot's back, Kael, Ravina, and Tyrrox descended into the catacombs. There they found the bodies a few orcs and hobgoblins and a number of scattered bones decorated with golden runes.
- Meanwhile, Lily and Taryn heard a banging sound which they traced to a set of large double-doors that had the familiar eye-tooth symbol painted over them. When they called out to whatever was inside, the pair received a two-word reply: "save us".
- Scouting ahead, Kael descended to the bottom of the crypt, where he found more bodies and a group of five glowing, skeletal guardians positioned near one of the far tombs that had apparently been broken open. The whispered chant they'd been hearing seemed to be coming from these beings.
- Taryn pulled the door open. On the other side they found a large meeting or dining hall containing dozens or hundreds more bodies, all of it shouded in a thick, ghostly mist. The distressed spirits of the deceased seemed trapped and confused. Taryn and Lily performed a kind of musical 'last rites' for them, and felt the ghostly presence fade from the room.
- Having decided not to engage the skeletons without their companions, Kael, Ravina, and Tyrrox made their way back into the monestery. After some discussion, the group decided to head to a library they'd found while searching the place. While Lily and Taryn spent some time learning about the history of the place and the saint for whom it was named, Kael, Tyrrox, and Ravina took one of the volumes recording who was interred into the catacombs and returned to them, trying to determine who might be buried in the far tomb. As they examined the grave sites, they heard growing whispers and something scraping against the stone drawing near...
- Standing over Lily as she climbed out of the blood pool was a massive stone giant, accusing her of the evil twisting the place. He called down magical fire upon her as well as the ghosts and bodies, banishing the corrupted spectres and sending Lily diving for cover.
- Ravina and Kael made their way back to the courtyard to see if they could find Lily. Taryn and Tyrrox were still upstairs in the abbot's chambers when his ghost appeared - unmoving and floating over his body slumped over his desk. They spoke to it and it answered, but they couldn't understand it. When it made no aggressive move, they looked at the dagger in his back, noting that it bore a symbol of Many Eyes, Many Teeth.
Back in the courtyard, Lily attempted to convince the giant that she and her friends were not responsible for the state of the place as he pressed his attacks - eventually convincing him to stop. After a final threat, he and the two other giants that arrived began burning the blood and bodies - turning the entire courtyard into an inferno.
- Once the fire burned out and the giants left, the group discussed what they had seen and tried to piece together what happened here. Making their way to the broken-down door leading into the catacombs beneath the monestary, Lily heard a voice echoing up from it: "The sacred ground has been broken, and now the living must return to it."
- The group made their way to the Gale-James Hotel and set about trying to figure out whether Plaskov was there and where he might be. They ended up running into Justin Mills - the medic from the previous night - and learned that he was actually after Plaskov too: not for the man himself, but for something he had apparently stolen. Some sort of tech his "clients" wished to recover.
- They'd figured out a likely floor, and after their discussion with Justin, decided they'd just go room-by-room, with a skeleton-keycard V had made from a room key lifted from one of the guests, until they found him. Sara's empathy gave them a clue, and they found Plaskov, apparently passed out drunk on his hotel bed. They bound him with ducttape and found the combination to the room safe. Inside was a bunch of cash, and the case Justin had been looking for, which he took and left.
- Not sure how they'd get Plaskov out of the hotel without raising a LOT of suspicion, they decided they'd tell their police contact where he was and just let them pick him up. While Sara was downstairs sending the message from the hotel's PostTerm, she saw Justin Mills have a brief exchange with another man as he was walking out - a man that happened to be one of the bikers from the night before - the one who'd shot Mario...
- As the voice echoed through the stone courtyard, red lightening began to arc from the floating ghost to several of the bodies, which seemingly spawned horrifically corrupted ghostly creatures which floated, oozed, and clawed their way toward them. Taryn, Ravina, and Tyrrox headed deeper into the settlement after Kael, who was following the trail of blood.
- In the uppermost room, the group found a sigil oozing blood and burning brightly on the wall. Its potency was so great that even looking at it was difficult and disorenting. With some guidance from Taryn, Tyrrox was able to enter the room and smash through it - disrupting its magic but producing powerful electrical discharges and a gush of blood.
- Meanwhile, Lily found herself in a room of complete darkness with a pair of voices asking her who she was and what she wanted. The voices spoke some form of ancient draconic and identified themselves as a "great serpent". They didn't get far in the conversation, howevern when she suddenly found herself submerged in blood. Swimming up and out, she found herself back in the (relative) bright light of the Saint Orvusk courtyard, with a booming voice demanding answers of her...
- The group continued away from the forest up into the mountains. As they approached the settlement, they began to discover signs of violence. When they reached the monestary, they found it littered with bodies.
- They noticed a pool of still-liquid blood standing in the area, with streams connecting to most of the bodies in a somewhat odd fashion. As they investigated, ghosts of some of the dead monks and townsfolk began to appear - obviously maddened.
- As the ghosts attacked, the party reacted. Ravina was able to turn several of the ghosts, and Tyrrox managed to obliterate another's manifested form. Kael set one of the bodies on fire, resulting in a ghost that burned with ghostly flame. Taryn discovered that by separating a body from the pool of blood, the ghosts would calm.
- Lily then attempted to dispel any magic on the blood, but when her spell completed, she vanished. Also convinced the trailing pool of blood was at the root of the "problem", Kael took off into the monestary, following the "trail" to see where it led.
- Back in the courtyard, Taryn, Ravina, and Tyrrox were still dealing with a couple of lingering ghosts when they heard a booming voice from above them...
- The group broke into an abandoned apartment building across from the bar to stake out and watch to see if their target return - and he does, very early in the morning, meeting some kind of medic.
- The group decided they'd go grab him, but they hadn't counted on a trio of bikers arriving, apparently after Plaskov as well. The insuing firefight left Mario, Kendra, and the bartender wounded, the bar shot up, and Plaskov chased out of the bar.
- When the group met up the next day, they decided to sneak back into the closed bar to see if anything left behind might point them toward their quarry. Here they finally had some good fortune: Plaskov's jacket. Inside they found a folded piece of stationery from the Gale-James Hotel with what looked like a product model number for something secretive produced by V's former employer...