Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Santa shot in back - Shock horror!

I hope many of you will have read the introduction in my previous posting to this bit of Christmas fun had with some members of  my family. If not please do so - 

This posting is the report of our main game played on Christmas Eve, accompanied by consumption of a certain quantity of beverages, and by new grandson Baby Euan as an occasional bystander (Ok...that should be byhelder!)   

In the event we only had four players able to participate so the groups were allocated as follows, and Pirate landing points diced for:
Matt T.   - The Revenue Men  - start at G
Matt B.   - Naughty Nic's Mob - start at F
Lucy       - Luskaya's Looters    - start at B
Jon         - Nasty Natives Group Two - start in village in any dwelling
CG         - GM and non player "characters" 
Here is the table annotated with potential starting points (letters) and potential clue locations (numbers). Not all clues were to be used and it was up to the GM to start each team (except natives) with a suitable clue and thence give them out at the appropriate times (see rules) to keep the game interesting, fun and maybe challenging.

A blow by blow account would be boring so I'll give the highlights and some pictures. The Revenue Men (RM) had to find their first clue at the toe of the boot shaped lake (2) so Matt T. split them into two groups with one heading there and the other heading down the track in anticipation of  being well placed for the next one. 
Captain Matthew Chumley-Smythe leads Sir Bulkily Billt,
 "Black Dog" the bagman, Master Thomas Baxter, and a soldier
 in pursuit of  "revenue" for the King.
I set Matt B. with Naughty's Nic's family (NN) of cut-throats and ex Roger's Rangers, the clue of going to the cat head shaped rock (1 at very top of the table photo) expecting some inevitable conflict with the Revenue Men. His progress there was slowed by an unfortunate Chance card (he had to shoot one of his crew for delaying them by being too drunk!) and meanwhile Santa Gunn had spied their arrival from his ridge top refuge and random dice rolling by me spurred him into action. As Santa approached the second NN group with musket leveled the pirates made a fast move and got right up to him before any firing could take place. By a combination of coercion and pleasant conversation (2 successes from their searching dice) the NN boys got  a clue off Santa Gunn which was to go up to his hut (3) for the next one. After that Santa wandered round by the native longhouse looking a bit phased by his encounter (my random arrow dice).
The Rangers, led by Nic, marched up hill and got the clue from the hermit's hut which led them down to where a waterfall was gushing out of the rock face and supplying the source of the stream (6) which flowed down to the sea. Encouraged by all this success Matt B. abandoned the slow trek to the cat head rock by Jolly Jules' group to reinforce Nic's group at the waterfall.
Jolly Jules decides against long range musketry at the Revenue group
bogged in the malaria infested vegetation by the lake
One group of the Revenue Men had got to the lake edge and by Chance cards found it infested with malaria and vine loop noose booby traps, causing delay and sickness (counted as wounded). Eventually finding the clue, it called for them to go to where a rotting corpse lay under a fallen log on the ridge top (4). Before they got far on that route castaway Santa had returned to his favourite lookout point on the ridge and decided (by dice) that the RMs were hostile. Priming his pan with the extra fine grain powder he had salvaged from shipwreck (giving him an extra two inches range which surprised poor Matt), he took a pot shot at this RM group, but without hitting. Thereafter his dice seemed to represent bottling out as he proceeded at best pace 
(that long coat was not conducive to running!) back across the ridge top, pursued by angry RM officials.
But Santa was going nowhere since ahead of him stood the other fierce group of RMs, by now searching the corpse for their next clue. Without warning, an RM soldier, acting on instruction from his corporal, shot Santa Gunn in the back!
Captured by 18th century CC TV (so that's why Santa is fuzzy!)
Corporal "Pee-brain" lives up to his dirty reputation by ordering the murder.
The Honourable Charles Anstruther is an unwilling witness. 
I'm afraid my saving roll for Santa added another corpse to that ridge....if it had been a movie his sack would have spilled out toys that rolled down to the waterfall...........sigh.
I've got a long way into this account without mentioning Lucy and her mob of Russian pirates who had started right at the far end of the peninsula and was finding clues in fairly quick succession without too much incident. Her first one was at the junction of the streams (12) followed by the next at the lone palm tree (11). However by that time, Wild Rover, the shipwrecked dog, who had been resting lazily in a patch of crops at the edge of the village, caught a whiff of vodka soaked fur coats (24 inch smelling distance) and headed at speed in search of his next meal (at 3 x D6 inches per turn he was potentially the fastest creature in the game).  The sight of the vicious-looking dog heading towards her group put the wind up Luskaya but luckily the dog's nearest opponent was Hawkovitch "the Hunter" and he sent his hawk to attack Rover. However this achieved nothing and the hawk returned to his hand just in time to assist in fending off Rover's snapping jaws. This fight actually went to 4 rounds of hand-to-hand combat, so well matched was the hawk and its handler's sword arm to Rovers gnashing teeth and sharp claws. But eventually the saving rolls went against my little pet and he died under the hawk's beating wings, much to Lu's relief. (I was so excited by this tense action that I forgot to photograph Rover's tussle :-(  ). Lu's Looters (LL) found the next clue which was to lead her men in two groups towards the village bridge (8). As Chance (cards) would have it the vodka was taking effect and her groups fell to rushing wildly into the murky pool (10) and squabbling among themselves, which caused a delay.
Lots of threatening pistol pointing and whip cracking
as Luskaya's Looters squabble among themselves
Jon, who had been very patient and cunning, had held his natives back up till now and sent four out to attack the leading LL group.  They threw axes on approach but only one hit and caused a wound, they had no time to recover the weapons but charged on into combat with knives and shields against Luskaya and her nearest men. One of these was Krakovski "the Slaver" who held off one native spearman with his long whip. But a hard fought struggle took place and the poorly armed natives held up well to the curved sabres and pistols of the Russians. I had allowed them an extra 1 on their saving rolls for shields and bone "armour" and for being athletic in H-to-H combat. Jon was out to capture a prisoner for the cooking pot but without success. Although he inflicted wounds and delayed this group for a couple of moves he suffered badly and only had one man to retreat back to the village, empty handed.
Luskaya herself eventually went down under the knife of
one of the brave natives, leaving Dadski in charge of the band.
Showing no remorse for the loss of his daughter he led them
down to the clue at the bridge
 Back at the waterfall Naughty Nic had organised her group so that three men went down to search at the foot of the falls while she and a Ranger guarded from the top. Dice did not come up favourably so the search continued, but this allowed Jon to attack with four natives out of the long house up the stream and pin the white men against the falls. A terrific struggle then commenced with firing from the top of the waterfall wounding one native, but one of Nic's mob also got wounded in the close combat. In a see-saw action three of Nic's men were wounded, two being captured, but one was released when his captor was killed. Nic herself closed in on Chief Big Horns and shot him dead. Jolly Jules came up with what remained of her party and joined in. Despite his best efforts Matt was unable to prevent Jon from dragging off his wounded prisoner and putting him in the cooking pot nearby. Rolling his two dice Jon scored 9, so that was the first Victory Points  "in the bag"; unfortunately he only had two figures left. Fearing such a dire situation I had said quietly at the start that if all his figures were lost he could bring the second native group into play. In his gentlemanly way Jon did not throw his last two warriors away recklessly but kept them in play as a threat; since they were not attacked that's how he finished the game.
Three of Naughty Nic's mob search the waterfall for a clue

What a mess by the waterfall!
Red stickers indicate wounded and the lying down figures are prisoners.
But Chief Big Horns is about to meet his maker
and one of the natives will sneak off with his tasty snack
It was about this point that we got one of those magic moments only a model soldier nerd can really appreciate..... Your daughter, unused to handling 28mm metal miniatures, is bringing her handful of  piratical fighters up to the bridge to start searching underneath. But she fumbles....and drops one.....and he bounces so that his little elbow hooks over the model bridge just as if he's hanging on for dear life!  I assure you this photo is in no way staged, faked or doctored.

Well, order restored, Luskaya's Looters still did not find the clue straight away. Time was now moving on and I realised I'd better start letting the teams have the critical clue to the hidden treasure hoard. Although I had three different endings to allow for future games, for this one I stayed true to Charles Grant's original and had the treasure on the beach under the prow of the wrecked boat (16).  Within about two turns of each other all three remaining players got the relevant clue and since they were all grouped round the native village it was going to become a race to the beach (last one in is a sissy!)

Luskaya's were the first on the scene as she sent one group straight from the village to the beach, they were hotly pursued by the first two of the Revenue Men.   The other group attempted to skirt the high cliff so as to protect the route towards Lu's boats. A good tactic, except while clambering over the wreck she did not get favourable Movement cards.

Rear guard action on the rocks keeps the Revenue Men at bay
What happened next was that Dadski and two cronies got to the prow of the wreck and started digging. Lucy's dice indicated the discovery of a chest full of 20 VPs of treasure. Unfortunately by this time her support group had been reduced to just Hawkovitch and Krakovski who were under fire from some of Nic's Mob and not in good shape. The rest of the NNs lined the cliff top and began to pour fire down on Dadski's Looters while the two nearest Revenue Men took shelter literally under the cliff edge and joined in the firing. The remaining RMs were basically in good health and had by-passed the two last natives to threaten the rear of the NN group.
Lu looks surprisingly happy
while Matt T. acts out the typical Revenue Man facial expression!
The following picture, although the last one I took, does not quite wrap it up. Under the weight of fire two of the Russian Looters had gone down and Dadski was left wounded in charge of a chest full of booty, the only other two members of this group were, at best, two moves away and under close threat.
Nic and Jules encourage their men to all round defence on the cliff top
 while  the remaining Looters can be seen in the distance.
 Captain Chumley-Smythe and Master Baxter in the foreground
have yet to scuttle under the cliff for cover
It was now nearly time for the real Santa to visit and we were all getting a bit tired after 5 - 6  hours play, only broken by a supper of  the Duchess of Grandchamp's very fine vegetable bake followed by chocolate cake. I was called on to make a decision how we should end. Since the discovered treasure was 20 VPs it was more than twice Jon's native's 9 VPs of roast meat, so the natives were unlikely to win. Luskaya's Looters were all likely to die in a vain effort to secure the loot. This just left Naughty Nic's Mob to fight it out with the Revenue Men and since half the NNs were wounded I decreed that Matt T's Revenue Men would be the ones taking the loot back for the Crown (less the coins that just happened to fall into their deep pockets!).

In conclusion we all felt the game worked well (even though the Contraband Cards did not turn up frequently enough a fair amount of the Jamaica rum, French wine, English ale and cider, and the rum and raisin chocolate, did get consumed!).  It was very difficult to judge balance among the diverse groups but nobody complained that their force was not powerful enough. Jon's natives were a small but fairly worthy group who had to attack to win, so maybe I was a bit hard not making them up to 10 figures. Apart from that I don't think anything else needs amending if anyone wants to try this. If you do, please let me know how it goes. Don't forget the rules, briefing sheets, map etc are available as PDF downloads  in this shared folder from my side bar:    pirate game files
If you want to see more photos of the game, here they are in a Picasa folder:


  1. I'm not gonna lie, I didn't read a word of this article, but I liked the models and miniatures, if you built that then you are amazingly talented!!

  2. Hi Victoria. Thank you for visiting and for your very kind comments. I'm not concerned that you didn't read it (though some of it is meant to be moderately amusing) but I like photos too so am pleased if visitors just enjoy those. I also paint landscapes and figures in oils.
    For my regular readers - if you like superb photographs I suggest you click on Washington Boudoir Photographer above.

  3. Great report and photos Chris.

  4. So enjoyable and pleasantly illustrated!

    The photos on your 'teaser' post were indeed teasing, and the AAR is up to any expectancies and above! A *great* treasure hunt, and you were right, your minis made a colorful, variegated bunch more than any pirates ones. Sorry for Luskaya, she looked cute! Wish to see her (and all other ones) again. In Imagi-Native 18th C. the Russians can well be already well settled in Alaska (and the Yukon, including the Klondike region!) and some Cossacks roam on the Westernmore fringes of Nouvelle-France...

    Hope the whole group enjoyed the game as I enjoyed the report.

    Thanks for sharing and best wishes,

  5. Jean-Louis
    Thanks for your support for my "non-pirate" treasure game.

    Hmmm.....now for some Imagi-neering with other comments on a previous posting - we have a vision of France having won "Canada" by 1763 and Lauzan's Legion defending Nouvelle France against a Cossack incursion somewhere near Fort Michlimackinac!
    I think I'll stick to Europe for the moment, and Lauzan's boys won't have to cover up those nice uniforms with heavy greatcoats.....

  6. That sounds like a good fun game on a great looking table Chris. Poor old Santa Gunn - shot in the back on Christmas eve! Sounds like a Tim Burton animation.

    all the best