Saturday, November 5, 2016

Dreadfleet and the Lord of Death

I missed doing an entry for last week because I was busy taking a quick trip to the East Coast to spend a weekend playing games with my buddy Rob. I really needed to just de-stress and hang out with an old friend, and this was just what the doctor ordered. It was like attending a convention, just with less unwashed strangers and more booze. We got in several games of Dreadfleet and Deathwatch:Overkill as well as a nice big game of Warhammer Age of Sigmar.

The Heldenhammer squares off against the Bloody Reaver over the rights to Turtle Island
The first game we played was Rob's freshly painted copy of GW's Dreadfleet. I've heard a lot of negative things said about Dreadfleet since it's release, and while I understand a lot of the criticisms I have to respectfully disagree. Our first game nearly confirmed my fears - a one on one game of the Empire ship vs the Vampire flagship that seemed to take FOREVER. The introductory scenario was super tedious and seemed way too random in its combat mechanics. We then marched onto the second scenario, where a Sea Giant immediately stymied my ability to win the scenario in the allotted time. But Rob and I persevered, having felt we fully understood the system, and played a game with both fleets vying to scoop up treasure floating in the sea.

Rob's paint jobs were stunning, and the models were so much larger than I expected.
The third battle underway. I had already sunk 2 of the Dreadfleet's warships by this point.
This is where the game shined for me - there was constant action and crazy events changed the game at the drop of a hat - like Rob's Skaven vessel burning from stem to stern and still managing to fight at nearly full strength.  At the point I thought I had the game locked up, a random Mer-Man attack on my fleet killed the crew of one ship and caused the magazine of another to explode, sending both ships to the briny depths. By the final roll of the dice, my stomach hurt from laughing so hard at the absurdity of it all. I think that players looking for a game with predictable outcomes and careful strategies will HATE Dreadfleet with a passion, but those willing to roll with the punches and enjoy the randomness that you loved as a kid rolling on charts in the Dungeon Master's Guide or classic Realm of Chaos books will have a great time.  The games does an excellent job of providing an "Experience" (yes, with a capital "E") that Rob and I will remember for a long time to come. I've come to value that as I've gotten older, and its more of a hallmark of a good game than one with predictable game play. That, combined with just how beautiful the models are in person, has made me open to picking up a copy for myself if the opportunity presents itself.

The main even of the weekend was game of Age of Sigmar on Rob's beautiful scenery. We played a tournament game from the General's Handbook - the Escalation scenario with 2000pts for each side. Rob brought out his magnificent Nagash and I set my Bloodbound to battling the Lord of Death.

The battle commences! Over the course of the game, more units graduated onto the board until the board was clogged with the fallen.
Some Bloodreaver lead the assault. They were wiped out in a single turn by the combined effort of Nagash and his skeleton warriors.
One flank was secured by Satan himself - a mighty Cygor. 
The Lord of Death faces off against the Cygor. A literal clash of giants finished the battle. The Cygor fell to Nagash, but at least I managed to get the big man down to his 4 last Wounds.
Man, what a beast - Nagash is seriously powerful and I felt like I was behind the eight ball  from turn one. I think if I had Archaon or a Bloodthirster in my army I might have thought it was a more even playing field. Thankfully, the Tournament rules meant Nagash wasn't just raising entire regiments of skeletons each turn, because with Rob's nearly inexhaustible supply of painted models we'd probably still be playing. In the end, I barely squeaked out a victory by securing the objectives but I still don't fully know how I did it.

It was a fantastic game and an amazing weekend. While I enjoy painting, its always nice to get some great games in against good opponents - it makes the effort worth it all.


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