Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Test of Honour


It was early last year that I first became consciously aware of a game called Bushido, which is a very cool table top skirmish miniatures game set in Japan in the age of the Samurai. Bushido is a very beautiful game: with gorgeous character/stat cards, exquisite (though costly) miniatures,  and amazingly high quality components, such as attractive rule book, sublimely intricate dice sets (even the dice bag is aesthetically pleasing to the eye ) and the purchasable table  top terrain for Bushido is almost out of this world, it`s so good. But I reiterate, it`s not an easy game to buy into, unless you have a fairly fluid surplus of spare cash to hand, or you are prepared to be patient and collect the game a bit at a time, over a long period of many months – or even longer.

It was Andy from Da Gobbos Grotto who first got me intrigued by this genre of game: 

though I knew I would never pick it up and collect it myself (the price was simply too rich for my wallet). BUT it is because of Andy`s endless enthusiasm for this subject, and his dogged focus on this game.. that I became aware of a far cheaper alternative which arrived on the shelf recently. When Warlord Games first released “Test of Honour ”the game literally sold out within the first two weeks of it hitting the shelves. The facebook page for the game started with 15 subscribers in the first hour, and by the end of the first day alone, had risen to 15000 people. So wow, this game immediately started to make its mark. Especially as the game is now (as of last week) available again… and Warlord Games have produced a `second wave`  for all those not fortunate enough to have bought the starter set on the initial run. What`s more, they offered a special `bundle package` deal which meant that for £100 you could order the base box set game.. but you also got ALL the expansion sets with it. All included in that special one off price. I don’t think I need to spell it out too much for anyone. Basically, this deal has made it possible for a fledgling enthusiast (like me) wanting to get into Samurai style gaming, to be able to buy into the hobby as a one time (fairly affordable) purchase, without having to spend literally hundreds and hundreds of pounds to do it via the other.. far more expensive (but beautifully alternative) route.

So with everything currently available for Test of Honour as a one-time only lump purchase, I found I simply could not say no, and ordered myself the whole bundle deal.

Whereas Bushido is a lot more about fantasy and mythology, with the inclusion of monsters, and animals, and familiars, and magic, and all that kit and caboodle: Test of Honour is more of quasi historical, big cinematic block buster - Hollywood style (aka “The Last Samurai” and “The Seven Samurai”) type affair.  And what more can I say, it`s pretty darn addictive, gripping, and stunningly attractive stuff.
Test of Honour focuses more on the Hollywood myth of the Samurai. A sort of East meets West, Spaghetti western style shoot-em-ups, with a heck of a lot of role play narrative added in for good measure. This creates table top glory, honour, love, courage, betrayal, dishonour, and all the bits in between, all meshed into a fabulous miniatures game of true eastern promise.
And I absolutely bloody love it. The first couple of test games I played through to get used to the rules, was enough for me to be able to state categorically, that for me (personally) this is one of the best games I have played and enjoyed in a very long time. And as an added bonus, for the solo gamers out there, I can confirm, this game is a ruddy miracle. It is a solitaire hobbyists dream game. Quite frankly,  could play this game on my own for hours and hours at a time and not get tired of it.
Like most of Warlord Games miniatures, the bulk of this stuff is plastic. The miniatures are HIGHLY attractive although I have to say, a negative about them is that they come on spru`s, unassembled, and they are without a shadow of doubt THE most complicated, fiddly little buggers I have ever had to assemble in my life. I was planning on assembling and playing a tentative first game through on the same day I received the parcel in the post. But would you believe it took me a full day just to assemble the first 12 figures needed to play the first scenario in the Battle Guide (mission/scenario) book. Painting the models wasn’t difficult (I have my initial 12 figures half painted at this stage), but that was another day`s session just to do that, so all in all it wasn’t until day three that I was finally able to get down to playing my first game with some nicely half painted pieces
I took a leaf out of Andy`s page, and instead of being frustrated by all this complicated and difficult assembly, instead I treated each model as Andy would for his Bushido collection: effectively making each thing I did feel special, and unique. This turned a chore into something I was able to enjoy.. simply by appreciating  each and every miniature I assembled, as opposed to moaning and cursing when the fiddly little swines kept refusing to go together how I wanted them to (never again tell me superglue is perfect for modelling… it`s simply NOT hahaha). But in the end I got there and was, all in all, utterly delighted by the results. When assembled these lovely Oriental guys had all that wow factor I was hoping for… and more on top. Once the first 12 figures were assembled, I sat there looking at them and going Oooo and Aaaaa for quite some time I can tell you.

What I like about this game is the way you don’t, right away, have to assemble all the 35 miniatures that come in the base starter box set. The first scenario calls for only 12. After that, you have various build options for each successive scenario you play in the introductory rule book five/six part campaign. Do you want commoner bowmen, musketeers, a banner -man, a sergeant, a musician, and so on and so on? So yeah, it`s actually wise not to assemble everything straight away, because you will have many decisions to make later on, just how you want to build your Warband(s) for future games…. the base set alone gives you lots of leeway for customising your two starter set forces. By the time you eventually add in the bumper deal expansion sets, oh man, you will have yourself one hell of a complete and eclectic collection. And with more expansions looming in the imminent horizon, we can look forward to Ninjas, The Imperial Army, female Samurai… and Lord knows what else Warlord Games has in the pipe line, to tempt and offer us in the foreseeable future.

The game rules themselves are simple, but not too simple. *hmmm, thinking of a few example comparatives**  I would say the 16 page rule book for Test of Honour is about on par with “Zombicide” or “Last Night On Earth,” when it comes to ease of understanding and playability; and I would say that “Song of Blades and Heroes” or “Mutants and Death Ray Guns” could definitely be considered slightly harder to learn. So that gives you an idea of the scale of complexity. But what I really like is how the game has a lot of strategy to it, meaning the rules won`t ever get old and samey. .. especially by the time you keep factoring in the additional pages of rules contained within each new expansion box of miniatures you add to your games: rules for Cavalry, rules for Geishas, additional rules for campaign games, etc etc.

Terrain makes a good game come alive.

Would Test of Honour be any use to someone who already owns Bushido. At this stage I would say YES.  This game is all about recreating block buster Hollywood, larger than live Eastern Samurai narrative adventures. Bushido is something altogether different. And the two games should be totally compatible on the same shelf. Two entirely different takes on a similar subject. Owning both would be a bit like owning Warhammer 40K and Necromunda. Or owning and playing both Pathfinder rpg and Frostgrave. Similar, but ultimately different.
                                                                                    And so I set to task thinking about my painting. But I had not been idle while I waited for my parcel to arrive. I set to work studying. First I scoured the blogs and websites for examples of other people`s Japanese Samurai style modelling prowess. And then I started to devour all the images I could find from historical sites, graven images, woodcuts, silk painting, the lot. And this is where I ran into a blindingly clear contradiction. Almost all the miniatures I found on line were gaily painted, like in the block buster movies, in gaudy reds, yellows, gold, green, blues, orange, and so on and so on, creating a really attractive collage of colour. Most atmospheric and conducive to the genre, I thought. But then I started to see the discrepancies between this and a more stoically realistic appeal. This was all myth. Start looking at real woodcuts and especially silks (from the actual era), you quickly discover that the real life Japanese look is far more muted, more sombre toned, and strangely co-ordinated in tone and symmetry.
Look at the following for example:
Notice how few colours are used here. And this is an accurate image of geisha silks.
And again here.

And again here, with this Samurai woman. See.. only three colours: yellow, red, and blue.

You can see, a pattern is starting to immerge here. Here exists, a minimalistic use of colour to create an overall aesthetic symmetry.

I would not say I have found something incredible or undiscovered d. But for me, it has given me a focus to want to create an original/unique overall theme to my miniatures. Where most go for the Hollywood vibrant display of colour, I knew I wanted to create a more muted, minimalistic approach. And the best way I could do that was to paint my Test of Honour guys in inks… a technique I haven’t employed in years, but one I am very familiar with from my modelling past (Many years ago I used inks to paint my entire Pulp era Heroes, Chinese Hoodlums, Tramps, Dames, Gun Molls, Femme Fatales, Gumshoes, Gangsters, Mobsters, and good old Boys in Blue).
Some examples of my inking can be seen in the first test game I played. Though they are only half finished. They are done enough for you to get the idea.
Battle 1: First Clash
Two Rival Clans clash on a deserted forest path. One clan, the Motsamya, are moving slaves up the Mei Pou trail. These commoners are carrying empty containers (ready to be filled) to an illegal rough saké wine still hidden deep within the trees.
Nearby the wine still.. Inside an old hut, an old man and his loyal daughter argue about the business about to take place. The old man feels trapped and must do the Motsamya clan`s bidding. He has no choice but to harbour the illegal wine still on his land. His daughter is vehemently opposed.

(these are old miniatures from former gaming days… desperately in need for a nice re-paint. However, they will do as `walk on walk offs` for this sample game).
Clan slaves eventually arrive at their destination. There in the trees, lies the old wine still.
But suddenly, through the canopy of jungle trees, there is a noise. It is the sound of approaching soldiers. The cowardly slaves run for their lives, vanishing into the trees.
The slaves run from the field. Vanishing into the trees.
The Motsamya who had been accompanying the slaves, stand their ground. Led by a brave young Samurai Lord, they feel confident they can see off anyone trying to interfere with them.
Standoff. It is rival Tya Cuma Jitsun clan, led by an equally brave and stubborn young Samurai. Both Samurai Lords have much to prove. This will be a test of honour.
The Motsamya samurai sees his rival, the Tya Cuma Jitsun Lord ahead on the bridge.
The two samurai standoff..  not moving. Standing like statures, and stare fixedly at one another.
Shots are fired left and right of the pair, as clansmen shoot their bows at one another. Nerves are apparent on both sides, and no one is hurt in the exchange.
Spear armed clansmen taunt and curse each other through the canopy of the trees, but no one seems overly keen to come together in close combat.

I love my token cup, a lovely find lying about the house, and now commandeered… by me. It looks most in keeping: and will make an excellent addition to my games from now on.
Suddenly, upon an unspoken word. The two Samurai pair off in mortal combat Both exchanging blows almost faster than the eye can see.

Suddenly, almost as quickly as it begun: it is allover. Tya Cuma Jitsun is cut down…. bleeding from a severe wound to his midriff. Honour is served. Motsamya will keep their hidden still, and the contested ground now belongs to them.
The injured Tya Cuma Jitsun will be escorted away by his loyal followers. The rules of engagement have been satisfied.
Today…. The Tya Cuma Jitsun lose. And must concede the field.
The victorious Motsamya.

 .......Meanwhile! While the old man and his daughter are still arguing over the illegal wine still: the daughter`s two innocent young cousins are playing happily outside the hut, oblivious to any danger. When suddenly! Out of the blue, a terrible, foul smelling fiend approaches them from out of the shadows. The girls scream and........  ooops, hold on. Wrong story! That’s a different tale altogether.
.... and  CUT!

 Article by Steve




Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The Prequel - A Celebration of a Great Game

And so, it is time to remember the past. To remember when the hobby was simpler and much more forgiving: a time in the hobby when the sheer excitement of simply playing was always a wonder filled adventure, and a journey into the unknown. Nothing was taken for granted and no one was blasé (a time before people could compare each new game to hit the shelves, with something similar that had gone before it). This is a time when Mage Knight was King, and ruled supreme among the collectable miniatures games of yester-year.

I think this regal game (now long forgotten) still holds many whispered secrets of promises still to reveal, to those who would listen. This is a sample of such a game. A celebration of a what a good game really is.
Tiffany and Tar` Plot, and Plan how they will defeat the Dire Dungeon of the Mighty Overlord “Lord Steve of the 2D Dungeon.”

This is a glimpse at a wonderful game: an evening`s play and delight in an ongoing campaign, set in the wonderful world of MageKnight.

The Prequel:
Bought up in the streets of Boudichan in the Far East: it was En-Zar (the eccentric and truth to tell, slightly effeminate soothsayer) who originally brought the group together.
His insistent rantings and weirdling visions ensured the majority of passers by kept a very wide birth of this seemingly deranged mad man; but anyone actually taking the time to listen to En-Zar`s words and prophesies might very well have noticed that his cryptic speeches almost always carried hidden pearls of wisdom, and his detailed predictions often came to pass with uncanny accuracy.
Khoura was the first. In a moment of stark lucidity, En-Zar had spotted the young girl in the slave pens of Nar-Kupor… destined for the prostitute dens of the Merchant Princes. Bidding everything he owned, En-Zar ended up paying a small fortune for the girl. He quickly earned her gratitude, which soon led to a deep and loyal friendship - and eventually he won her heart, and then her chastity. En-Zar taught Khoura all he himself had learned about survival on the city streets. Eventually, the girl`s thieving skills surpassed the master, adding her own innate ability to wield the forces of magic to her talents.
Amir an out of work mercenary fighter came next. When he had stepped in to help the pretty Khoura from an irate lynch mob (a robbery gone wrong), he and the little thief had quickly become fast friends.
The beautiful and exotic Hazna completed the heroic band. Her reputation as an accomplished thief and burglar was all ready spreading through the Dock and Castle Wards of Boudichan… and when En-Zar`s band discovered her, the sensual woman was building a reputation of stealing from the houses of the rich to aid those less privileged… in especial, Hazna had a forte for helping battered and abused women escape their plight – using money stolen from the rich, fat merchants, she would set these women up in new and secure positions, free from the tyranny of their former abusers. Being of a spiritual nature and considering herself devoutly religious, En-Zar`s prophesies inspired Hazna`s wild spirit, and she willingly join their ranks. Amir has sought her affections ever since.
Now, guided by En-Zar`s mystic visions and dreams, this tight nit band of thieves seeks The Pelamite Gate… a (portable) mythical portal, legendarily reputed to lead to strange lands, maybe even other time lines. Armed with En-Zar`s hand drawn maps, personal scrolls and ancient tomes; the party now finds itself standing at the entrance of an extinct and long lost Underworld civilisation. Originally built as an oubliette, and a funhouse for a corrupt line of Pharaohs, to play God with various creatures and monstrosities from their `pet` dungeon collections - the Underworld Temples & Dungeons of Ra-Lu-Tek represents the culmination of  months of research and intensive searching, and will be the Heroic Band`s greatest challenge.
The discovery of the Pelamite Gate would make them all rich beyond their wildest dreams. Suladan himself might offer a whole city and all it`s wealth included to get his hands on such a valuable treasure.
The Beginning:
Khoura runs through all the arcane words of power she can recall. All the tricks she has learned from her Mother… many years ago, when she was still a child…. like the fact that some magicks do not require the use of `the gift, ` merely the `willpower` to use them.
The doors she and her friends are trying to enter now, do not look magickal, but they are certainly enchanted with some sort of power.
Using strange, esoteric gestures…. almost ritualistic in their exaggerations…. Khoura explores the door with her mind; attempting to find a word or movement that will allow the portal to open.
A trickle of perspiration runs down the side of her cheek, a stark reminder of the unknown… but very real dangers that lay beyond this door.
A sudden gesture… theatrical, almost… and the door swings open with a loud “click!”
A gust of air brings the scent of musky dog to the nostrils of all four companions.
“Gnolls. By all that is Holy!” Amir pronounces, as a rhetorical statement of fact.
Using a combination of arcane words and gestures, Khoura opens the portal into the complex.

Khoura pushes forward into the narrow passage ahead of her. I faint green glow, shining from some strange form of phosphorous vine, clings to the walls - providing a little light for the companions to see by.
Khoura heart leaps in almost blind panic when her feet crunch down on dry bones underfoot, and she has to check herself violently from screaming in horror. Behind her, in the tunnel: the stoic Amir, the nimble En-Zar, and the beautiful and exotic thief Hazna, no doubt sense the sudden tension in her…. but like all good friends, they say nothing.
There is a snarl! A sudden flurry of motion - and two Gnolls appear out of the gloom, ahead of the Healer.
Khoura the Healer, peers into the darkness, and notices a pair of Gnolls advancing on her.
With a gasp, she instinctively backs away. But Amir steps past her with weapons drawn, and pushes forward to meet the enemy.
Amir draws his twin blades, and advances.
There is a flurry of movement, as Amir slashes and wounds both the mage spawn, but he is himself wounded in the exchange of blows.  The fighter side steps the Gnoll standing in front of him, and allows Hazna to enter the fray. She slashes with a wicked looking dagger, cutting a Gnoll deeply across it`s midriff. Hazna`s wound demoralizes the creature, and it is unable even to counter-attack.
Hazna displays her deadly worth in close combat.


The demoralized Gnoll breaks away from the thief woman, and dashes away from the fight.

From the darkness of the under-deeps, the sound of more mage spawn can be heard moving through the complex to defend their home. Obviously the Gnoll engaged with Hazna is encouraged by this, and rather boldly rakes at the female thief with its blade. Hazna easily avoids the attack and counter strikes – scoring a critical hit in the process. The Gnoll howls in pain, and slides slowly off of the point of Hazna`s short sword, and onto the floor… dead!
Khoura glides past her friends and attends to Amir`s wounds. Blood drips freely down the fighter`s arm from a deep shoulder wound. The big man feels a strange tingling sensation… and suddenly his wounds are healed.
Khoura heals Amir with her special healing ability.

Hazna runs through the tunnels, catches the cowering and demoralized Gnoll, and dispatches the mage spawn with a nonchalant back hand swipe across it`s throat. Blood splatters the wall in a wide arc. The dog like creature coughs once, then fall dead at her feet.
The girls do their thing.

A few muffled barks, accompanied by yelps of agitated excitement can be heard approaching from the deeper chambers of the complex. Hazna in the lead takes a tighter grip of her sword, licks her lips nervously, and prepares to meet this new threat head on. But familiar footsteps approach from behind…. it is Amir…. a kindly hand on her shoulder as he pushes past… and the strong warrior steps forward into the unknown.

He sees three more of the canine looking mage spawn, and rushes the nearest one, thrusting his sword deep into it`s body . Foul smelling blood oozes from it`s wound, but the creature growls and comes on strong for a counter attack. This is obviously no ordinary Gnoll - it is an elite. Amir ducks clumsily out of harms way… barely avoiding it`s backhand slash. But Khoura comes fleet footed to his rescue, and dispatches the creature by snapping it`s neck with martial expertise.
Hazna wades carefully through a deep pool of water to engage the remaining two Gnolls. A Gnoll yelps loudly as her blade connects with it`s flesh. But a cruel looking blade finds a way through her own defences, and she gasps in pain as a rusty knife penetrates her side. A second attack slashes open her thigh, and suddenly she is demoralized and completely unable to carry on the fight.

Hazna successfully disengages from her enemy, and painfully limps away to safety. Khoura rushes to her side, but fails to staunch the free flow of blood on her first heal attempt.
Amir wades across the deep pool of water to reach the Gnolls who have just bested Hazna. He nonchalantly decapitates the tougher looking of the pair.

En-Zar who has all this time been busy pouring over his charts thinks he recognizes the part of the complex they are in from a small portion of his map. “Here it is! By all the Gods of Abrahim, here it is.” He exclaims, to no noone in particular, and rushes forward into the darkness.
En-Zar, the unofficial leader, in his excitement, rushes off alone into the darkness.

The fight is fast and furious, and continues blow for blow for a few minutes. At the end of it, all the Gnolls lie dead on the ground, Amir is bleeding from multiple cuts and slashes, Hazna who has been healed by Khoura is send back into the fray, and En-Zar has an arrow sticking out of his shoulder which might teach him not to go running off alone into dark tunnels.
After Khoura patches up their wounds, the intrepid team heads over to the last chamber. Amir carefully pushes open the door… and reveals a female Nightblade warrior defending a pair of swelling treasure chests.

Without even spending a moment to wonder what a member of the Necropolis Sect is doing here, Amir wades over to tackle the chamber guardian in combat. Wielding his swords like a true professional, his weapon master skill cuts her down to size in less than a blink of an eye. Demoralized, and bleeding from half a dozen wounds, the Nightblade warrior lies prostrate at Amir`s feet, a blade to her throat.
The fight between Amir and the Nightblade is short and sweet – a single turn; and Amir`s Weapon Master special ability whittles the woman down by 6 clicks (1 from death).
The team approach the last chamber (of this session).

Amir is merciful, and in exchange for opening the treasure chests, lets her go – to flee swiftly away to safety.
The first stage of their adventure is successfully and safely over, and the party decides to rest up and recover their strength before venturing deeper into the dungeon complex .......................`
Article by Tarot
 Next Week: An In Depth Review of Warlord Games New "Test of Honour" Samurai Boxed Set Special Bundle Deal - plus a First Battle Report (and first impressions).



Sunday, 21 May 2017


A Horrorclix fight involving
Aliens (Xenomorphs) and Vampires.

As promised, following closely on the heels of the first part... here is the second instalment of the retro-horrorclix AAR mini campaign. Actually written many years ago. As was the first part “School For Bad Girls” (which was re-posted a few days ago).

I`d like to ask anyone interested in reading this to be a little bit lenient in criticism as to the style of writing and the bad quality of the photographs. Antarctica was only ever originally written for ourselves to enjoy (in way of a personal hobby journal), as we tend to write up almost all the games and adventures we do: so as to keep a hobby journal/record of events, however basic.  At the very least, maybe it`s a small peep into our gaming minds... and shows how we like to catalogue (in intricate detail) even the smallest of our hobby endeavours, usually with a passionate ardour.

Keeping a game journal was a little trick I learned from Donald Featherstone way back in the 1970`s: and I have kept it up ever since.

I wince a bit when I see all the AAR rule explanations through.... especially as there are few now who play Horrorclix, or can even remember how the rules are played. A good game write up should make the rules almost invisible (unless showing the reader how a game works) and sadly, this one fails all the rules of good pen-man-ship lol.

But it is, never the less, something I would dearly like to archive for posterity`s sake: so please forgive my indulgence here. I suppose keeping these old games alive is more for my personal pleasure, than any serious hope that others will find the adventures amazingly interesting. But then again, sometimes with blogging you just have to do what makes you happy.  Still, persevere, and you may just titter in mirth a bit at a few of the desperate antics our little toys tend to get up to on the battle board.

So yeah, I don’t really expect much comment response to this short series of write ups.... amazingly great if you do find them interesting, but it is really a personal thing that I am doing here, and I am not expecting suddenly to convert everyone (or anyone for that matter) to the joys of Wizkids Horrorclix gaming.

Normal blog articles will resume soon enough, once we have posted all the retro AAR`s necessary to fulfil this desire to reserve them for posterity.

Thanks guys.



Year: 2025.

Location: somewhere in the middle of the Tun`Dara Plate… on the lower slopes of the Aborus Shelf.

Situation and Premise: An awkward alliance of convenience between a private Scientific Ice Station Hel* (similar to the one discovered in 2004, on the frozen arctic island of Bouvetøya) and an alien race of hunters called species 019; sometimes known as the Predators… by the scientific team.

*Norse Goddess `Helheim` of the Underworld.

The scientific team known simply as “The Lab” works privately for multi billionaire business tycoon Mr Charles Bishop Weyland. Back in 2004, searching for remains of a lost and ancient civilisation, containing elements of Inca, Egyptian, and Cambodian architecture and hieroglyphs; noone could have predicted the conclusion of their find.

Mr Weyland unfortunately died on that expedition, but his adopted son Henry Weyland took over the business, and was not slow to capitalise on his father’s findings.

Rather than go public with evidence of extra terrestrial life on Earth, Weyland Industries decided to make contact with the Predator alien race, and forge a `business` agreement – in what was a foreshadowing of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, to come in later years.

Wayland Industries provides the `big game` for the hunters to enjoy (found from the vast collective of  the paranormal: ghostly entities, the undead, werewolves, bio-altered humanoids, and just about anything else The Lab can get its hands on - or create from scratch), in exchange for the occasional `devices` which Wayland Industries can use to create anything from wondrous household appliances, and state of the art modern time saving conveniences… to technologically advanced military hardware, and satellite surveillance systems. It`s a seemingly perfect alliance, forged from a balance of predator instinct and human greed.

….. and when Henry Wayland has the urge to `get rid of`` anybody who is becoming a nuisance to Wayland Industries (annoying news reporters, truculent bankers, incompetent employees, etc) or feels the need to teach rival business executives a lesson or two… well then: The Pyramid is always open for fresh meat.

***          ***          ***

The Game: Okay, I`m a complete Wizkids games fanboy. I’ve collected heaps of Mage Knight and Hero and Horror Clix figures over the years, but I’ve never actually played a proper Clix game using this amazing new Aliens boxed set before. So this should be interesting.

Basically, my first Aliens game will be a simple skirmish, fought between three Ravorvixens: Rookie, Experienced, and Veteran - and an Acid-Tail and a Leaping Alien… both Rookies.

The point of the game is simple: the vampires have just awoken to discover they are no longer in their native home, but have been bought somehow to…. Well God knows where?

A wall opens up before the vampire babes… revealing a set of stone steps leading down into the darkness. Sniffing the air, the vampires can smell death; not just other people’s blood, but potentially their own demise as well.
Razor-babe`s set up area.

The two Aliens have likewise, simultaneously been `allowed out` of their holding pens, and their natural instinct to protect, kill, and to survive will, hopefully, do the rest.

Last side still standing at the end… wins the game.
Two Aliens are released from the pens – the hunt is up.

Meanwhile, `Lab` workers sitting comfortably behind nice safe monitor screens, and eight inch tinted plasglass – watch, and take notes.

Upper Pyramid Level.

I am not using Plot Twist or Sub-Plot cards in this game, so players will skip the Preview Phase on every turn of this game.

Victim Tokens represent a small team of scientists `probably deliberately trapped within the complex, and a bunch of  `other` victims no doubt snatched from the streets. The Lab learns a lot about human behaviour by studying survival instincts under extreme stress.

Initiative (for the duration of the game):  Aliens 3. Vampires 6. Vampires take the first turn of the game.

Turn 1 - The Suspense Phase:

A 5 is rolled on the die, and some sections of wall start to shift position. Where before there were two clear passages… now sections of wall have snapped shut. In a few minutes time the Pyramid’s inhuman mind will randomly move some more wall sections, revealing new passages and chambers, or temporarily sealing off old areas – a computerised mind is stoically intent on keeping the hunt interesting.

A victim token is flipped over, revealing a terrified Girlfriend archetype with a movement of 4.

An almost insidiously inaudible yet incessant hissing seems to  fill the woman’s head, and in blind panic she scrambles and stumbles away into the murky darkness, completely unaware which direction she is taking… and completely oblivious to the fact that she is actually heading straight towards the lead most Vampire. In the distance… up ahead of the victim, somewhere… muffled by so many labyrinthine corridors, twists and turns… an agonizing scream fills the woman’s ears – then abruptly dies in a gurgled shudder… one final breath!
The Hunting Phase: the red based Razorvixen moves forward with feline grace. Ahead… in the gloom, her superior, inhumanly enhanced eyes spy a lone victim. She stalks this new prey, who whimpers and screams in terror. The Vampire is rewarded by sinking her teeth into a Scientist (first token slain ), alone and lost in the complex.
The Vampire is now blooded. Using the snack ability, the Vamp drains the blood of her victim and enjoys the satisfaction of having her dial clicked once anti-clockwise to the left… invigorating her strength by 1 damage point - all the way back to the green start line of her stats.
Hourglass Phase: There are no hourglass symbols showing on any of the monster dials. So we move rapidly on to the second turn.
Turn 2: The Aliens roll a 2, and suddenly the Pyramid re-configures into a new shape – two wall sections spring up out of nowhere - completely separating two victim archetypes who were previously conversing in desperate, whispered tones.
The Girlfriend Token (now controlled by the Aliens) suddenly loses heart… or does she think she sees the flicker of movement up ahead? In a moment of sudden intuitiveness, she turns around and heads back the other way.
In a flurry of movement, almost faster than the eye can follow; the Acid-Tail Alien bounds forward… rounds a corner and comes face to face with two Victim Tokens (a Cop and a Scientist, both lost, bewildered, and now utterly horrified).
But the Alien is in a hurry, and merely hissssses as it passes between them both: carries on and splashes unhindered through some water… leaving the half feinting victims behind - in the egg chamber!
A Cop and a Scientist still live – for now!
Turn 3, 4 & 5: The passage behind the Acid-Tail Alien vanishes, and is replaced by a solid stone wall… the Pyramid has re-configures itself again.
The red based Razorvixen takes a second action, and moves on up the narrow tunnel towards her second victim. The Vampire has now taken two actions in a row and is vulnerable – so may not do anything on it`s next turn.
The Girlfriend Archetype is caught in a new and potentially deadly situation. Splashing through the water… coming towards her with a loping stride, is a horrifying monster… even her worst nightmares could not have conjured this up – until now! Yet turning back into that tunnel, seems to her, to be almost as bad.
Something has been padding along behind her… toying with her, and her nerves are almost ready to snap and submit to utter insanity. Steeling herself for an inevitable encounter with – God knows what, the woman dashes back into the tunnel. Anything seems better than facing that Alien thing coming up fast behind her.
The wall section that had separated the two Victim Tokens suddenly vanishes out of sight, and the companions are once again united.
Through the grainy darkness of the complex, the red based Razorvixen watches the out of breath woman run back into the tunnel…. towards the Vampire. But she gives a hiss of frustration as she realizes she can`t eat this victim – not yet. The Vampire is vulnerable and can`t take any Actions this turn.
Instead, the yellow based Vixen makes her first move and runs headlong down the long passage, eager to taste her first blood.
Two Vampires are now in play.
Turn 6: The Girlfriend Token pushes along the narrow tunnel like a steam train. Suddenly she feels cold air on her left cheek, and almost tumbles down a new passage…. a way out and perhaps freedom!
Meanwhile… elsewhere - it’s simply not meant to be! The two companions are again separated when the walls rise up between them.
The Acid-Tail Alien leaps into the tunnel and scampers towards the red based Razorvixen. The creature`s move carries it to within two squares of the lead most Vampire.
Acid-Tail, Vampire… and Girlfriend Victim Token.
Turn 7: The Pyramid re-configures, and this time the wall behind the Acid-Tail Alien closes the space where the narrow tunnel used to be. For now, there is no way back for the Alien, and it must fight – win…. or die!
But it is the Vampire`s turn. A victim Token is flipped over, revealing a Sheriff with an extremely good movement value of 6. The Vampire player moves the token towards the yellow based Vamp babe. The Sheriff almost bumps into her, pulling up in front and adjacent to the blood hunter. The peace keeper fumbles for his gun, but it`s too late…. the Vixen is all over him before he even gets his finger to the trigger. The yellow Razorvixen is now blooded.
Turn 8: Amazingly, the Aliens throw a 2 and once again the wall section separating the two Victim Tokens disappears. But this time one of the tokens is missing! The Sheriff is now nothing but a bloodstained mess on the stone floor. The remaining Victim Counter calls carefully and tentatively into the darkness: “Jack….. Jaaaaaack, where`d you go?”
But there is only silence!
The Acid-Tail Alien sees the humanoid female raise its projectile weapon… and whirls its tail round at her before her finger can unleash a hail of death in the creature’s direction. The tail hits the wall beside the Vampire`s head like a whip crack. Acid sprays along the passage behind her… but the Razorvixen remains unscathed. With an amazingly bad stroke of luck (4 rolled on 2d6) the Alien misses.
Oh my God! The passage ahead is totally blocked. The Girlfriend archetype token is trapped, and has no choice but to watch the deadly and horrifying chapter unfold in front of her eyes, as two equally unearthly monsters fight to the death in a display of unbelievable acrobatics and nerve wrenching hostility.
Of course, here I suddenly realize I haven`t been counting the Acid-Tail Alien’s Actions. The creature should have run out of Action Points moves ago. Ooooops! Never mind, I’ll just place 2 action tokens on the Alien now and say the creature had an amazing burst of energy which lasted several turns.
Turn 9: The red based Razorvixen gives the Alien a lopsided grin, and pulls the trigger of her machine-pistol. Round after round tears towards the body of the Acid-Tail Alien – but the creature`s camouflage ability saves it from taking even a single hit.
Unbelievably, the Pyramid roll is a 5, and the blocking terrain in front of the Girlfriend Victim Token moves silently aside.
Turn 10: The woman half crawls, half runs away down the tunnel and out into another chamber. She laughs and cries at the same time… relieved simply to live another minute, and utterly terrified by her plight.
The Wall behind the Acid-Tail Alien moves away… and once again the tunnel re-appears behind the creature. But the Alien is in a vulnerable state, and cannot do anything except stand swaying and hissing at it`s foe this turn.
The Leaping Alien lurches into gear…. and comes steaming down the passages, eager to find it`s enemy. Its jaws are slack and the monster slobbers as it moves….dripping ichor and saliva on the ground as it passes.
Turn 11 & 12: It`s fortunate for the Leaping Alien that it decided to come through the tunnel system opposite the Acid-Tail Alien, because the walls have just shifted and completely sealed the other way forward.
The red based Vixen aim and fires again – and misses for the second time in a row.
But Acid-Tail whirls its tail around for another attack, and cracks the Vampire square across the chest… which sends her crashing and sprawling against the nearest wall.
When she doesn`t move again, the Alien is satisfied… her neck is broken and dangles at an odd angle from the rest of her body. The alien job here is done.
The Acid-Tail Alien dispatches the Red based Razorvixen.

More wall sections move… and the Leaping Alien suddenly finds itself with no way forward down the tunnel it has taken - for now.
Turn 13 & 14: The blue based Vampire moves forward and places herself in position, ready to tackle the Acid-Tail once the walls re-configure again. She will revenge the death of their dark sister and teach these alien monsters the real meaning of fear and respect.
The Leaping Alien rounds a bend and finds the way blocked by a Victim Token (a Jock). The Alien really hasn’t got time to deal with these insignificant humans and would much rather have simply passed it by (Aliens don`t need to kill victims to become blooded, they are automatically blooded anyway); but the victim is blocking the way forward… crying and whimpering in terror…. utterly unable to move a muscle. `The human seems to be leaking warm, steaming yellow water down its leg,` the Alien observes as it smashes down on the thing and kills it. But then again, the Alien is not really surprised! It has seen these inferior creatures do this many times before in the past.
More grinding of stone on stone, and the Pyramid changes itself again.
Turn 15 & 16: The patience of the blue based Vampire pays off, as sure enough the wall separating the Acid-Tail Alien and herself moves aside (simultaneously, the wall blocking the way forward for the Leaping Alien moves aside as well).
The yellow based blonde Vampire… the youngest of the group… lures a Victim Token (Teacher) to a perfect position so that the blue based Vamp can snack down on some lunch – and become blooded… just in time to deal with the impudent Alien in front of her. But now the blue base is vulnerable and will have to stand up to what ever the Alien can throw at her on the next turn while she gathers her strength.
Okay, I`ve just found out I`m doing something else wrong. I`ve been allowing the Acid-Tail Alien to use the special ability acid spray for the last few moves. Actually, that ability isn`t available for use on the initial stats, and in actual fact the Alien has to have received a couple of damage before this deadly ability becomes active at all. Oooops again. But never mind; it wouldn’t have changed things much – if at all. The Alien’s normal tail whip ranged weapon is deadly enough in any case. Besides which… this battle report is enjoyable, atmospheric – I`m having fun, and also learning the rules as I go along. So, the Alien suddenly finds its tail wound has cauterised, and it can no longer drip acid at its enemies.
See the green acid tipped tail
Acid-Tail swishes its tail round again (this time without using acid spray), and inflicts 2 damage points on the blue based Razorvixen, who staggers momentarily, but keeps to her feet.
Turn 17 & 18: Wow, what amazing opening to the move: just in time to save the vulnerable Razorvixen, the wall section randomly chooses that precise moment to re-configure and block the path between the Acid-Tail Alien and the Vampire.
Acid-Tail moves up slowly to the blocking terrain, hisssses in frustration, then settles down patiently to wait for the stone to re-configure and open the tunnel again. The time will serve the creature well, for it is now vulnerable and needs a turn to recover.
Stand off.
Meanwhile, the blonde haired, pony-tailed, and blue clad Vampire runs down another passage, and ends her move by snacking down on a Victim Token (the Scientist who was earlier conversing with the Cop).
Blonde and cute – eeer…nope!

Turn 19 & 20: The floor section that pigtails is standing on, starts to shift. Leaping forward and out of danger, the passage behind her is suddenly blocked. She continues her sprint up the passage until she stands in front of a blocked wall section leading onto the rear of the Acid-Tail Alien.
A lone Lab Scientist Token moves forward cautiously through the dark and watches the blue based Vampire from close quarters. Even in this terrible plight, he is performing his job and taking notes for the rest of the Weyland team… but his Mother always used to say Johnny was very ambitious – even when he was just a wee lad.

The Leaping Alien quietly slithers forward… slowly…. simply waiting for the blocked wall section ahead to re-configure again.
Turn 21: Wall sections block both Vampires from reaching their enemy, and they wait patiently for the Pyramid to re-configure. But by a bad turn of fate for the Vampires; the wall section (separating the Vampires from the Aliens) shifts to one side at the beginning of the Alien’s next turn – and not during a Vampire turn as they hoped might happen. Suddenly both Vampires are now potentially open to Alien attack.

It is Acid-Tail who moves: flipping its stat card to the other side to reveal a new ability acid blood… and like a coiled spring, the monster bounds forward and charges straight at the Vampire ahead of it. The blue based Vixen receives 1 damage from the ensuing attack.

Turn 22 & 23: Wow, amazing. The Pyramid shifts again, and the wall section in front of the blonde Vixen opens before her, allowing her to move up on the Acid-Tail Alien if she chooses. With the blue based Vamp now needing to throw ten or higher on the dice to get through the Alien’s defences, the Vamps decide to move Blondie up from the rear.
However, the narrow tunnel slows her advance to a painfully slow crawl.

Hahahaha: the Hobby Gamer Victim Token is flipped over and the archetype moves past the Girlfriend Token and nearer to the monsters. I guess gamer curiosity pushes the geek on to observe some real action…. But even his lucky dice might not save him this time, if either the Vampires or the Aliens decide to rub out this annoying little pest.
The Hobby Gamer

Acid-Tail strikes again, and this time the Vampire in front of the creature is toast. With a last phlegmy cough of un-breath… she utters some filthy curse at the ugly monster standing triumphantly over her torn and broken body.

The Alien is unmoved by her oratory… and simply hissses.
Acid-Tail dispatches his second Vampire of the game.
Turn 24: The Blonde Vampire Razorvixen moves off down the tunnel towards her third Victim Token. She needs time to recover her strength, and seeks to put a bit of distance between herself and the enemy for a few moves… so why not snack on a human while she is waiting.

“Jon clutched his precious sourcebooks and his dice bag as the thing closed in. The last sound he heard was his dice spilling onto the floor. In death, as in life, Jon failed to make his saving roll.”
Slash…. Gulp!!!
Turn 25:
The Girlfriend is trapped! With utterly nowhere else to run, she closes her eyes and prays the end will be quick. But the Alien thing merely hisses as it passes… a whirlwind of movement…. and it is gone. Intent only on reaching the last remaining Vampire, it has no interest right now in this weak fleshy human – the woman lives another turn.

Turn 26: The Vampire is vulnerable…. out of breath… and can`t take any actions this turn. She can hear the Aliens moving in on both sides… and she can sense her last few moments on this earth are drawing near.

But suddenly there is fresh hope for pigtails. A section of the floor between herself and the Leaping Alien springs up from no-where and completely blocks the passage, as the Pyramid re-configures itself yet again. Good! She now has a chance to deal with the Aliens one at a time.

Turn 27, 28, 29: Hahahahaha Oh cruel bloody fate. The blocking wall section that had previously sprung up…. disappears back into the floor on the Alien’s turn.
Suddenly, the Leaping Alien is on her. Raking her with its claws, it inflicts 1 damage point on the Vampire; but her acrobatic skill reduces this to 0 wounds. The Vixen slashes back, but her frenzied attack fails to find its mark on the Alien.

Acid-Tail moves up slowly.
Turn 30: The Vampire strikes at the Leaping Alien again, with a swift series of attacks. She slashes a wound across its chest - 1 damage: but the Alien has acid blood and the Vampire feels a searing pain across her shoulder as the creature`s blood splashes onto her, causing 1 wound of it`s own on her.
A lucky break! The wall in front of the woman suddenly grinds open… she starts running again, away from the monstrosities still fighting it out behind her.

She runs as fast as her long legs will carry her.

  Turn 31: Once again the Blonde haired Vampire slashes and wounds the Leaping Alien, but its own blood spills onto and wounds the Vampire as well in a tit-for-tat exchange.
Yellow based Razorvixen and Leaping Alien battle it out.
Turn 32: But finally the Leaping Alien thrusts its long extendable jaw through the throat of the Vampire… and suddenly the battle is over.
Silence descends on the Pyramid.
Victory goes to the Aliens.
The Lab teams watching the `show` through their monitors, slap themselves on the back, smile at one another, and congratulate themselves on another successful experiment.
An important looking Lab worker in a clean white coat presses a few buttons; and chambers start to close off from one another, making them air tight. The Pyramid is filled with a nerve toxin to render the remaining Victims unconscious. A stronger concoction is used on the Aliens to render them `safe`.
Soon men in brown uniforms are scurrying into the complex and removing the bodies of the living and clearing the remains of the slain…. even dead bodies are useful to The Lab!
***      ***
Wow, complete victory to the Aliens. Three wounds to the Leaping Alien was all the damage this pair took during the whole game… yet they managed to take out all three Vampires with relative ease. Utterly amazing!

Hmmm I wonder. The Scientist who risked his life to gather notes for the Lab would no doubt find fresh favour with his co-workers, and might even have earned himself a promotion within the Weyland organisation.

The Girlfriend who found herself in this confusing and terrifying situation might wake up at home in her bed next day… all memory of this little incident wiped from her mind… completely oblivious – except for the nightmares… which will re-occur every night for the rest of her life. Otherwise she will be safe and happy… unless they abduct her again… dragging her back to the mad Lab… for some new dreadful experiments?

The Gamers dice bag will eventually end up on eBay. Perhaps the dice will bring the new owner better luck!

Article by Steve & Hils