Rangers of Shadow Deep & Warcry: July Gaming

Shadow Deep welcomes Careful Rangers, L to R: Erik, Witch Hunter Darius D’Argento, Arnulf, Roberto the Rouge, Witch Hunter Byron Maiden, Manuel Jung.

After several months of planning and preparing, I recently got together with The Bazpaz for a socially distanced 24 hours of gaming.

The Bazpaz “Splintered Fang” Warcry warband.
Manuel Jung flamboyantly teaches zombies why he carries a 7′ blade in “The Deserted Village”.

My last few months have been hobby productive. I have prepped a large number of bits and pieces for gaming, some visible here, some others visible here and a few more yet to be shared. Primarily this work was done with an eye for filling the requirements for playing Rangers of Shadow Deep, but almost every element worked on has multiple, very definite hobby/gaming applications.

To some extent the gaming session last weekend – in addition to being a nice way to sensibly and carefully socialise after being isolated for a significant period – was the payoff for several months of hobby work, for both of us.

The schedule was very clearly defined, as you might expect after such a long period of preparation, and it proved to be pretty much perfectly gauged. Go us.

Byron Maiden discovers the sword of missing ranger “Aventine” in the ruins…

The less than perfect, but hopefully evocative in-game snaps in this post document the day.

Meet and greet was at 1500hrs on Friday, to be followed by playing through the first three Rangers of Shadow Deep scenarios, with food served at an appropriate time. About 80-90% of the items used in the three RoSD games had been prepped specifically for these games, and were hitting the tabletop for the first time. In itself, that was a bit of a kick really.

Erik and Manuel spot a cocooned villager and attempt a rescue in “The Infected Trees”…

Neither of us had played Rangers of Shadow Deep before, but both of us had given the rules a read. I had played a bit of Frostgrave in the past (most notably here) and as the core mechanics in both games are essentially the same, that was useful too. Rangers is simple to pick up, with the opposed single dice rolling aspect to combat, integrated mechanics like an event deck that tracks the length of the game and individual activations keeping things rolling along nicely.

Roberto discovers a magic ring and a concealed giant spider nest…

After the first game in “The Deserted Village” we had the basic mechanics locked down pretty well, and we comfortably won the scenario. We decided not to be too cocky about the second scenario and entered “The Infected Trees” without using the “Challenge Level” (“hard mode” in video game terms), just in case.

Byron considers having an underling dig through the bug goo, rather than ruin his calfskin gloves.

We romped through the second scenario, swashbuckling our way through the spider haunted forest, squishing arachnids with abandon.

Manuel Jung hopes to rescue a pretty maiden from a vile, supernatural spider cocoon… but finds Inga instead…

By the end of the second scenario, we had eaten, and were suitably buoyed up by a successful Ranging careers to date and associated celebratory booze, so went into “The Bridge Guards” scenario with a cocksure attitude, and a certainty that playing the game on Challenge Level was the way to go.

Skaven (counts-as-gnolls) and rat ogors (count as ogres) prove significantly more lethal than giant spiders and the occasional zombie…

This scenario turned out to be a lot deadlier for the witch hunting rangers. Deadly accurate missile fire from the skaven slingers (gnoll archers) tore strips off the rangers and their companions, even with the ambush advantage that the stealthier rangers had engineered (throwing rocks to draw attention elsewhere, that sort of thing).

Poor ratman manners ensure that those campers will not get their full deposit back…

Companions fell and the witch hunters plans had to be reassessed on the move. Heroic sacrifices were made and a couple of big problems were taken out with lucky single shots, leaving the scenario hinging on a few chancy, all-or-nothing combats.

“I came here cleave ratmen in twain and to watch you pick up your litter… and you have made very little effort of any kind to leave this part of the countryside as you left it…” cried a badly injured, and possibly mildly hallucinating Manuel Jung at the climax of “The Bridge Guards”…

The witch hunters made it through “The Bridge Guards” in the end, but it was a close run thing. A nail biting end to what really was a very successful first outing for a rule set. We followed that up with a boozy chat for a couple of hours, and then got a relatively decent seven hours kip before we set up for some Warcry the following morning.

The Bazpaz “Splintered Fang” Warcry warband.

Last year The Bazpaz painted a Warcry warband and two sets of Warcry terrain, but for various dull real life reasons, we didn’t manage to get together to play a game back then. It was correspondingly extra-satisfying to see these guys strut their stuff on the table after that delay.

The Splintered Fang attempt to corner Plague Monk “Ratsputum” of the “Boomtown Rodents” for their own, presumably fairly heavily snake-themed ends…

I have been working on skaven models recently, specifically with a view to using them in Mordheim, as mooks in Rangers of Shadow Deep as already seen above and, obviously enough, Warcry. Having spent the previous evening trying to take out the horrible little guys, I got to drive the ratmen at The Bazpaz’s reptile enthusiasts the following day.

My Warcry experience has been exclusively good, and this session was a hoot, with loads of fun, imperfect decisions to balance and a sense of agency throughout. December was the last time that I played Warcry, and this session fired up my enthusiasm for the game again.

The old “the rat ogor has a gun” trick in full effect.

Both games systems were a treat to play. Warcry left me with enthusiasm to work on some of my own Warcry terrain pieces (which fit in to some future Rangers of Shadow Deep and Frostgrave scenarios) and to add a few more skaven to the pleasingly substantial group that I have finished over the last few months.

Being the record of the rise of the Paw Clan, ratmen most foul…

Similarly, a lot of the work required for the next RoSD scenarios is already completed, and the success of the days gaming means that enthusiasm for working on the next pieces is high (and who wouldn’t want to work on detailing a tiny dungeon for their toy soldiers to rampage through anyway?). I expect that we will get stuck in to “Tor Varden: The Lower Level” in the not too distant future.

Ratsputum the Ecstatic squeaks in disgust at the sight of the man-snake-things…

Bottom line is that for a combination of reasons, that was one of the most enjoyable 24 hour gaming sessions that I can remember. You haven’t seen the last of the Paw Clan either…

12 Responses

  1. I assume you served lots of cheese at the lunch break 😆

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sounds like a hoot! Should hit Ireland once the global bastard is over and done with.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Excellent – great to see that RoSD gear get used mate!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It was nice to work towards a very specific goal and then to play it out. Very satisfying.

      A little like, but not as ambitious as, your Wolf Time project Alex.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post, glad to see these in action. Gaming must go on!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So great! I’d really like to try both RoSD and Warcry, I’ve heard quite positive things about them!

    Like

    • Warcry is easily one of the best tabletop miniature game systems that GW has made to date.

      It is deceptively simple, but with some depth, and vast replayability. The rules mechanics are not slavishly following existing Warhammer mechanics, and use more modern game design elements, inspired by the clever and concise boardgame design that has had a strong influence on the industry this century. It’s still a tabletop miniatures game that uses physical measurements, with the unavoidable imprecise elements that brings, but as tabletop miniature games go, it is lean and streamlined, like a sexy cat. I thoroughly recommend it.

      The two Warcry expansion books bring in an awful lot of modular elements that can be added to taste, without screwing up how it works. As well as being suitable for tournament play for lots of reasons (short game duration, relatively small table footprint, small number of miniatures required) the core game is in part designed for ongoing campaign play. It features elements that are less punishing than those in, for example Necromunda or Mordheim. It aims to prevent the runaway leader effect, and to limit those demoralising recurring downward spiral issues that can spoil campaigns like that. The supplements include a “Champion Mode” though, which introduces more of that, for the masochistic player who likes higher stakes and a bit more drama. I like both versions for different reasons. I highly recommend Warcry, and the core box (now OOP, but maybe still in some shops) is a really excellent core box of content. Worth keeping an eye out for.

      Rangers of Shadow Deep is co-op or solo. I’m not really into solo play, but co-op is lots of fun. RoSD feels like the highlights of a roleplaying session. It also features very straightforward mechanics, that allow the players to get on with playing the game and exploring the narrative without having to get bogged down in rules. I highly recommend that too, for different reasons to Warcry. The two games scratch different itches, really well.

      I hope that you get an opportunity to play them some time Suber 🙂

      Like

  6. Ou lalala! This looks violently good! Although I cannot allow myself to digress at this point, I must say my interest has been piqued by this shadow fantasy nonsense. 😉

    All the best

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: