Unable to wait for friends to play with I broke open Legend of Drizzt and played about ten solo games after picking it up from my FLGS a couple of days ago. Winning every game led me to believe that the heroes are a tad stronger in this title than in Castle Ravenloft or Wrath of Ashardalon (and they are).
So when Mmzomba dropped round last night for a gaming session with his brand new copy of Game of Thrones: LCG (boy, are our fingers on the pulse or what?) we contemplated for about 3 seconds which title to play. Our third player didn’t turn up because he had some kind of ‘date’ with his ‘girlfriend’ - poor lad needs to sort his priorities out. So we opted for a night of intensive 2-player dungeoneering over political wrangling, intriguing and power token challenging. Or whatever. (Still want to try GOT: LCG btw, TV show rocked, made me buy the book, read the prologue, remembered how I never have the time to read books anymore...)
Since Mmzomba plumped for Artemis Entreri we skipped the adventure where Artemis is the baddie and started with the Shimmergloom adventure, i.e. ‘Find the shadow dragon Shimmergloom, rip his heart out and then show it to him as he dies’ or something along those lines. If he was going to play the coolest character from the books then I’d obviously have to play the second coolest...
Mmzomba began to grow dubious early on when in my first turn as Drizzt I summoned his pet panther Gwuenwhueevhuarrrarrrer, went into Last Blood Stance drew a monster, jumped forward and chopped said monster into bits and grabbed the treasure spilling from its guts, then had Guen come over and eat the leftovers.
Artemis wandered the caverns, revealing monsters and using his batshit crazy ability to place them on any tile, whilst Drizzt jumped around going “hi-YAH!” and murdering the poor things. When I finally missed two attack rolls in a row against a measly goblin Mmzomba’s eyes lit up at the prospect of being able to finally attack something. But Guen jumped over and swallowed the cowering little archer in one gulp.
By the time we reached the Dark Chasm goal tile we’d stocked up on treasures, healed the few injuries we’d taken, Artemis had killed a couple of beasties too (by deliberately placing them away from Drizzt so he could get there first), and we’d both commented on how the new tiles and encounters had great little evocative effects on them. Volcanic vents igniting lava, narrow tunnels suffocating movement, a hidden tunnel providing short cuts, a secret cave giving reprieve from encounters, a campsite offering temporary safety. We also learnt to get rid of Lolth’s Curses as soon as possible. Said Curses only affect you once each time in solo play, but with more than one player they can rapidly start to dish out the damage if you don’t manage them effectively.
Even so, as Drizzt and Mr Entreri sauntered into Shimmergloom’s lair there was only one creature in the Underdark quaking with fear. The poor dragon put up a meagre defence as we leapt in and tore him a new one. With two untouched healing surges and maybe 4 HP damage between us it was a relatively unchallenged victory.
After discussing possibly house-ruling Drizzt to one attack per turn we quickly decided to put Mr D’O and Mr E to one side for the time being. Instead we took Bruenor and Catti-Brie on the quest to save Wulfgar from Errtu the big nasty Balrog who isn’t really a Balrog because his sword is made of lightning not fire, see?
This was a much closer game. After laughing confidently about our incredible hero powers we ventured forth into the dungeon only to have a Feral Troll appear and start wind-milling its gigantic arms at us. Catti-Brie ran off and continued exploring whilst Bruenor was beaten to the floor by a rather exciting NINE HP of damage from 3 consecutive Troll attacks. Spitting a tooth and wiping his mouth, Bruenor got back to his feet and snarled at the troll, “That all you got?”
Then, in a flurry of blows and curses Bruenor brought the troll to its knees before sending its head whirling into the Underdark. There’s basically no point attacking a troll unless you’re going to take it down fast. Troll regeneration in LoD is nasty. And in a two player game they activate every turn, like a villain, so you really have to take it down if one appears. If two appear together, well, time to go home really.
We ploughed on and when the “Secret Cave: Spa and Hotel Retreat TM” appeared (which stops you from having encounters whilst you’re on it) we made good use of it, Catti-Brie even discovering a Hidden Tunnel that would lead us there and back when we needed it. As Bruenor finally found the Crystal Shard objective tile Catti was well behind and still discovering tiles but our HP was running low. Bruenor’s healing Dwarven Ale had long ago been consumed, but a lucky encounter with some moaning spirits had provided him with a Blinding pair of Bracers which allowed him an extra attack each turn.
Errtu the bigass demon appeared, snarled and stalked towards Bruenor swinging its sword and whip. Catti meanwhile opened up a narrow corridor from which Dinin the Drider emerged. Quickly realising she was not remotely equipped to tackle the 3HP Drider, Catti ran away and hid in the Secret Cave which meant that the Drider scuttled over at a pace towards the already beleaguered Bruenor.
Realising I was going to be attacked multiple times by two of the toughest enemies I had to decide who to take down first. Errtu was blocking the path towards Wulfgar, who was trapped in the crystal prison, so I couldn’t free him as an ally and get his help. But the Drider would keep chipping away at me until I took him and Errtu down. So I turned my attention to Dinin the Drider. With a mighty axe swing, a nifty application of one of Bruenor’s Power Strike tokens (+1 damage) and a desperate Headbutt, Dinin the Drider collapsed into a heap of wiggling spider legs. His treasure was the Girdle/Belt of Storm Giant Strength (+2 damage on adjacent hits). This is LoD’s ‘Holy Avenger’ or ‘Captain America Shield’. Awesome.
Sprinting away and strapping on his new belt Bruenor turned to face the demon. Catti considered exploring because she didn’t want to feel left out, but was also too far away to help battle the demon. So she revealed a new tile along with a Goblin Archer, took a shot at him with her bow, missed, and got taken down in a hail of goblin arrows.
Errtu stalked after Bruenor and bellowed some curses about Drizzt, who incidentally wasn’t there anyway. Psyching himself up Bruenor charged the demon and attacked repeatedly. With a natural 20 level up, using up his remaining power tokens, and by applying the power of the Giant’s Belt and Blinding Bracers, Bruenor started hacking big chunks out of the demon. The demon struck back repeatedly but Brunoer held. Catti spent a healing surge to get back up after the goblin’s attacks and shot the little critter through the eyes.
Then Bruenor took his axe in both hands and leapt at Errtu. With a mighty swing the dwarf’s axe put paid to Errtu’s retirement plans and the demon fell to his knees, looking the dwarf in the eyes. As a final insult Bruenor stepped forward and head-butted Errtu in the face. The demon squealed and clutched its broken nose, before falling back over and expiring.
Blowing through all our collected XP to keep encounters at bay we legged it to the crystal shard and smashed it apart setting Wulfgar free and winning the game.
No healing surges left and about 4HP between us this was indeed a much closer session.
And for our final game we played Athrogate and Jarlaxle defending Mithril Hall against the invasion of Matron Baenre and her relentless armies. This adventure uses the fixed cavern setup and is pretty cool, although you’ll have to fudge some of the encounter events. For example, I drew a “draw a tile and place it, then put your hero on it” event which would have effectively taken me out of the game straight away.
Basically, running around smashing up fissures to collapse them, and then defending against the monsters coming through the open fissures is the order of the day here. Whilst I as Jarlaxle was intent that we get the fissures closed as a priority, Athrogate wanted to fight stuff instead. Which meant monsters kept emerging and keeping us back from our ultimate objective. And when Lolth’s servant, that nasty Matron Mother arrived we were immediately put under enormous pressure having to deal with her, the encounters she potentially reveals, the monsters pouring through the fissures, and having to destroy the final two open fissures.
Athrogate’s morning star ‘Cracker’ led to an interesting rules situation as it inflicts a -4 AC on baddies. So can you just keep doing this until you bring a Villain’s AC to zero? We house-ruled, “no, that would be silly.” But then I had the Dark Fire ability too, which also brings an enemy’s AC down by 4. So could I use this in addition to Athrogate’s Cracker and bring the villain’s AC down by 8? We house-ruled, “no, that would also be silly”. So I used it on a water elemental instead. The poor thing died soon after.
After much fighting, running and swearing, eventually Athrogate manged to close the final fissure and Jarlaxle nuked a bunch of underlings with a careful blast of the Lightning Wand. Then it was just us and the Matron. She chopped us down a couple of times and poisoned us both, so we spent a healing surge or two before bringing her to her knees and then bashing her skull in. At that point it was game over, midnight, 3 victories under out belts, and an end to the evening.
Loads of fun and lots to enjoy in this game: cool tile effects, really thematic implementation of hero abilities and monster/villain skills and card and tile effects. We both felt like there was more to do as the heroes, more options and decisions to make about how to use stances and powers. Even some strategy about which tiles to move to, and some negating of kiting tactics by monsters who don’t care for kiting heroes (hello teleporting Drow Wizard). But a huge leap in favour of the heroes in general I feel. Clearly the designers wanted the Companions of the Hall to be kickarse, and it shows. I really want to send Drizzt up against Strahd next and see how he fares. But that adventure belongs to another day...