Saturday, June 3, 2017

Warlord Games Convention Review, Day 1

The Warlord Games Convention in Oklahoma was Friday, Saturday and Sunday last week. Not only was it an opportunity to demo and/or play in a tournament for a variety of offering from Warlord Games, they also allow gaming from other companies. In the official schedule there were sessions planned for Team Yankee and 9th Age, the community created edition of Warhammer Fantasy. As long as it was miniature game, they were happy people were playing whatever.

Tracy and myself attended all three days. When we arrived on Friday to pickup our con badges and swag, many aspects of the con was still being setup, including the vendors. This was also before we could check-in into our hotel rooms. That meant we had nowhere to go and nothing to do for 40 minutes. We didn't have room to properly look through our swag bag. Despite the slow start I will still really excited about the convention. Eventually I did get check-in so I could relax while waiting for more things to open up. In the meantime I got to see the free swag I got.

There were a few more things in the bag but they either had codes on them, where ads for other conventions/stores or both. I couldn't get a clear picture of the two metal figures. They are nice World War 1 28 mm figures. I don't see myself getting into any WW1 game but nevertheless they are nice to have and they will be something I will practice on. The Arena Rex booklet is the full rule set of an interesting battle arena game. I did get to play a little of it later in the weekend and will talk more about it then. The sprue is of female survivors from the game Project Z. It is not a game I think I will be interested in, however female miniatures are hard to come by so I am quite happy to have it. Will be converting them into something. Don't know if it will be Test of Honour, Age of Sigmar, my Shieldmaiden force or something else that I hadn't consider yet but I will be using them sometime in the near future.

After a quick nap I went back to the convention floor. I was happy to see more vendors had setup shop. The thing I most wanted to buy was the Test of Honour box set. I need the special dice and skill cards to play in the Tournament Sunday. The box has been hard to find since the game came out but with word a large shipment was release before the convention to stores, I was hoping to snag one. The second vendor I visit had a few so I asked to buy one. We had an issue in that I could only pay with card and the employee that had the credit card reader was still running the store front and wouldn't be at the convention for a few hours. I was fine with this and since I was the first person to buy (or rather pledge to buy) a box set, he gave me the Test of Honour unarmored figure. He also gave me the cardboard terrain from his own personal collection because he didn't need it anymore since he uses 3d terrain. This was more than enough to make me happy so I had no problem waiting.

I caught back up with Tracy and we started to check what the other vendors had. The one thing Tracy really wanted was the Geisha Spy. The Geisha Spy was a pre-order bonus, making her exceptional rare. Vendor after vendor, no one seem to have one. The last vendor we check was Warlord Games own booth (which we didn't realize at the time). Tracy was looking at their specialize dice for various games when something caught my eye. I thought I saw a stack of plastic containers that Test of Honour special characters are normally in. I grab one and to my immense surprise it was a Geisha Spy! Tracy was quite jealous because he thought I grab the only Geisha Spy they had. We were both shocked that the entire stack of plastic containers were all Geisha Spies! So we both grab one and immediately ask if they were for sell and how much. Apparently we weren't the only ones shocked to see the Geisha Spy there. We learn that the Geisha Spy wasn't suppose to be outside where customers could see her. She was suppose to be given out for free to customers who purchase a lot of Test of Honour stuff at once. I could see the manager agonizing over what to do. In the end we were allowed to purchase her at a really good price and the remaining Geisha Spies where quickly removed.

Now that we got our purchasing needs out the way, we could roam the convention floor to see what games were out and being played. We visit a table where a Test of Honour demo was going on all weekend. I've been considering getting some of Warlord Games' Japanese terrain and getting to see some of it in person at the demo was nice. Being able to chat about Test of Honour with others was a lot of fun but I had to learn to scale back my excitement. In my overzealousness, I was giving a new player advance strategic advice, not realizing that he was still learning how the game works. Still, he was appreciative and after the demo brought himself a box set. At another table I saw Hail, Caesar setup to play. No one was around to talk about the game to me and I never saw the game in action during the con. It was still an impressive display with a lot of cool looking models

Another interesting tidbit at the con for me was that there was a vendor whom was mostly selling Games Workshop stuff. Board games, Warhammer Fantasy boxes and single assemble miniatures. If I had to guess, someone working there was hosting the 9th Age event. The thing that really pique my interest was the Dreadfleet box. Dreadfleet is Games Workshops pirate boardgame set in the Warhammer Fantasy Old World. I've been wanting to pick it up ever since it came out but its price tag has been just a little too high for me. I started talking to the vendor about the game and he offered it a third off. As tempting as that sounded I wasn't going to bit and walked away. While I was still in earshot the vendor said if that wasn't enough I could get it at 50% off! That got me. I didn't buy it then but Dreadfleet was coming home with me sometime during the weekend.

At this point we decided there wasn't much else that was going to happen that night that we were interested in. We both eyed a chariot game on a massive board but as far as we knew it was only being played Saturday and Sunday. With the Team Yankee mega battle on Saturday and the Test of Honour tournament on Sunday we figure we wouldn't have the time to try it. It look like it would be really fun.

So Tracy decided to go back to his room for the night and finish his dinner. I still had to stay because the credit card guy hadn't shown up yet. I figure as soon as he did I would pick up my Test of Honour box, drop it off in my hotel room and then make a search for dinner. There was some issues with the card reader but eventually they got it to work and I had my Test of Honour box. I was really hungry by that time so I started to head out of the convention hall. And that was when a Warlord employee near me shouted to everyone in the hall that anyone interested in playing Circvs Maximvs needed to take a seat in the next 5 minutes. Circvs Maximvs was the chariot game we were eying and it wasn't on the schedule to be played that night. My desire to play it outweighed my hungry. I gave Tracy a call to let him know he need to get over here.

The board to this game was huge. It was probably around 4 feet wide and 10 feet long if not bigger. The host mention he has been playing Cirvs Maximvs for over 40 years and he scratch build the current board and models 30 years ago. Normally when you pick a chariot, the game has a lot of choices to customize your driver. Instead the host uniform the stats into three types of chariots: light, medium and heavy. Light chariots had the best drivers, highest top speed but the lowest endurance and took a penalty for attacking other chariots. Heavy chariots had the worst drivers, lowest top speed but the highest endurance and if they hit another chariot did extra damage. I picked a light chariot while Tracy went with a heavy chariot.

I was the furthest left chariot. The rules are really simple and easy to understand. However there are a lot of rules and the consequences of some actions were not always apparent. At the beginning of the turn you decided how fast you going. You can pick any speed up to your chariots maximum. You can also decided to whip your horse which increases your speed by die roll. This also decreases your stamina. Turn order in the round is random. After everyone has pick their speed, the host randomly selects the next person action. Once that person completes their turn, another person is randomly selected. Therefore you will never know when your turn will come up. When it is your turn, you can move a number of squares into the speed you chosen. The chariots are in two parts. You move the front of the chariot when you resolving your turn. Once you finish your turn you then move the back part up. This way if you loose count of what you were doing, you will always know exactly where you started. If your chariot section is right next to another players chariot section, then you can attack that player. There are two options for attacking. You can either ram your chariot into theirs or you can attempt to whip the driver. Ramming is free but it has the risk that you could damage both chariots or even only your own chariot! Successfully damaging your opponent means their wheels are deteriorating. For the rest of the game they will have to do a check every turn to see if the wheel gets worst. Whipping the driver means you are trying to kill your opponent. Drivers have 10 hit points and each time you successfully whipped a driver reduces their hp by one. Whipping the driver has the risk that your opponent might take the whip from you. If that happens then you will have to wait 3 turns before another whip is given to you. I can tell you 3 turns is a very LONG time in this game to be without the abilities having a whip gives you. Whipping also cost movement. When you decided to whip someone the number of space you can move is reduce by the number of times you want to whip them (yes, you can whip someone multiple times at once but this counts as a single attack). The goal is to complete 2 laps on the track and if you are spending your movement attacking others too much, you not going to make it very far. Now if you move your chariot section next to an opponent's horses, then you can attack the horses the same way you can attack the driver. Ramming, again is free, will do damage to the closest horse. Horses have hit points equal to their speed(the top speed of your chariot is equal to the total hps of all your horses). Damaging horses will decrease their speed. If one of your horses die, it becomes road hazard and the player will have to cut it free (which greatly reduces their speed that turn). Whipping another players horse increases the chariots speed. I will explain why you might want your opponent to move faster in a bit. If you are the subject of the attack, you get a chance to dodge if you want. Dodging does have a cost but if you failed to dodge then you do not have to pay the cost of the dodge. Suffering the affects of the attack is enough. There are two options to dodging. You can either move away, which reduces your speed the next time you act, or you can slow down which backs your chariot up 2 spaces and cost endurance(if you run out of endurance your horse will start taking damage instead!). There are reasons why you might not want to dodge. There are also the possibility that you are unable to one or both dodge options because something is in the way! On attacking, you can only attack once per space. If you are near two enemies, you can only attack one of them on that space. Move one space and you can attack again if you are still near someone.

The turns is where the game gets really interesting! Each lane has a safety speed. If you are moving faster than the safety speed for that lane then you need to do a check, modified by how much you are over the safety speed. Failing this check could mean your chariot/horses take damage or you flipped the chariot. Flipping the chariot is really REALLY bad! That means for the rest of the game your driver is getting dragged at high speeds by your remaining horses which cause you to take damage every turn. This is why you might want to whip someone else horses. If they are in the turn then the addition speed might mean they will flip their chariot.

The previous picture is of Tracy and myself taking the lead. We both manage to avoid a massive traffic jam where most of the other drivers were stuck in. We were among the last to get to go on the first turn, which is a good thing. While everyone else gather together to attack each other, we could put in most our movement into going forward. We didn't have to waste movement moving around other people. Tracy got to go first the next 3 turns in a row. You don't want to go first in round 1 because it just makes you into a very big target. After that though, going first is big. Since Tracy was already in the front, getting to go first meant he couldn't get attack because the best the rest of us could do is catch up. But this is where his luck ran out, briefly. While he was in the second turn, Tracy was almost last to act. With people finally passing him, we got a chance to attack! No one had whip someone horse in the game yet (mainly because the window where it would be useful is really small) and I was interested in seeing exactly how the mechanics work. So I move up to Tracy and attack his horse 6 times. Tracy tried to avoid it but failed. If he had succeeded on the avoid then all 6 of my attacks would have miss since it counts as one attack. From there we did 6 contested rolls. If Tracy won a roll, his endurance would decrease by 1, if I won a roll Tracy speed would increase by the amount I won by. After it was all said and done, I had increase Tracy's speed to 27. The safety speed in the lane he was in was 12. There was a slim chance that Tracy could have control his chariot in the turn but he didn't roll it. Tracy's chariot flipped and was fling across the track becoming a road hazard. His driver was dragged and took a lot of damage. We weren't very clear on the rules so at this point we thought Tracy was out of the race. Tracy left then, upset that his completely undamage chariot got one shot. Thing is that you are not out the race until your driver dies and if your driver dies on the round you cross the finish line, it still counts! Also he still got to go 27. From that point on his horses (fresh undamage horses) would go full speed. He did have the problem of someone could just run the driver over and instead kill him. In fact, a kid whom was playing tried to do that but ran out of movement to reach Tracy. And of course Tracy action came up which put him even further in the lead.

We ran out of time which meant Tracy, whom was the furthest on track won! Even if the game didn't end early, there was a chance Tracy would have won anyways. By the time the game ended Tracy need 2 more actions to cross the finish line. His driver had 3 hit points left so if he only took 1 or 2 points of damage on the next action, Tracy would have won. He was far ahead and in the next turn. That meant for any of us to catch him we would have to greatly exceed the safety speed limit. As for me, I was stuck in the middle of the pack, if not near the rear. My attack on Tracy actually cost me dearly. When I used up valuable movement to attack him, it left me still in the turn. Despite being in a light chariot and having the highest top speed, I misplayed the turns. The next round after my attack I had to go really slow to make sure I didn't flipped myself. It was also funny someone in the race did die. In the round after Tracy's flipped, another racer went into the turn slightly over the safety speed, trying to catch up to the rest of the pack. He need to roll 12 or less on 3 dices to not flip over, he roll 13. I then found out when you flipped, there is a check to see where the chariot goes (I miss this part with Tracy). Unfortunately for this racer, his chariot went straight up and down, landing on the driver! The driver immediately took 9 points of damage (again drivers have a max of 10!). Then he got drugged, taking more damage and died.

The game was a lot of fun. There was a lot of rules to understand but by the third round we could run the game ourselves (unless something new happens). With a group of mostly new players that says a lot. Its funny that I had text Tracy that he won. Even funnier that the next day he got greeted by the kid (same one that tried to kill him) who congratulated him on his victory. It is a game I would love to play again. Understanding the risk/rewards of every action, I can make much better choices. Yet, I don't see the game being reduce to only a few viable strategies, which is good. Overall Circvs Maximvs was a great way end day at a gaming convention. My only regret was that I was starving and nothing was open to eat at except Wal-Mart. This ended my first day at the convention but there was two more to go.

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