For our Relicblade in Colorado, we decided to just throw down a quick 75 point game instead of continuing with the campaign we can set up earlier through Tabletop Simulator. This meant I’d get to bring the magic of Grey Rock to bear on Sean’s Deep. We rolled for a random mission and got Temple Defense.

Temple Defense is a new mission type for us as it defines roles for each side with asymmetrical goals. Sean chose to be the attacker which left me in the center. Three temple treasures were scattered about the middle of the battlefield and the attackers have five rounds to get at least two of them off the map for victory.

My team consisted of Teklin, sniper extraordinaire, my Gnome Wizard, and Battlesmith on Ibex. I placed Teklin at the top of the tower to overwatch while the Battlesmith was at the base of the tower. Before the game we talked about the inside of the tower has stairs and it would take move actions to move up and down it. You had to completely move in and out of it in one turn with a distance equal to height of the tower from the overhang to base floor. Rounding out my deployment, the Wizard was placed in a protected alcove, ready to sweep in and bomb unsuspecting enemies.

Sean had to divide his forces up and placed his Eel Sorcerer with a contingent of Pooners in one corner and his Shark Warrior and Hookers in the other. We rolled initiative and I won. My Wizard flew out and went on a hit and run attack, throwing a fireball at the unprepared Pooners. This could have went way worse but luckily the splash damage from the fireball was blocked by all except the target Pooner, who was felled from the blow.

The Hookers rounded the broken wall from the other corner and came into view of Teklin. I soon realized that as cool as that overwatch position was, it was mainly good for just watching the action below. Teklin’s rifle only reaches 10 inches and losing several inches because I’m up so high wasn’t as great as I thought it would be.

The remaining Pooner comes out to assault the Battlesmith. His harpoon is blocked and the rider then charges in to counter attack. The blow hits squarely and the Pooner falls, joining his buddy in unconsciousness. The Eel Sorcerer comes in but with the rider dodging, he does little damage.

Teklin times his descent from the tower poorly and is quickly engaged with a dirty Hooker. Just like in real life, this is usually a situation that will not end well. In Teklin’s case, he has no close combat weapons except his fist so he is forced to burn most of his actions disengaging.

The Battlesmith gets surrounded by assailants and double dodges every turn to try to hold the line. The Hooker leaves Teklin to help deal with the tar pit I’ve created and Shark Warrior tries to get in as well. Unfortunately, that left Teklin alone and with enough room to come back in and drop the Shark in a volley of rifle shots and grenades. The Wizard has very little to help here as his only attack is an area effecting Fireball. The Battlesmith is still doing well enough that I don’t want to mess it up with an accidental friendly fire incident. At the same time, the rounds have been counting down and the Battlesmith tar pit I’ve created has done it’s damage.

One Hooker remains in the open and makes a desperate run to grab a treasure and run. A “last round+first round” activation swing for Sean allows the Hooker to get the Hooker all the way across the board but not far enough. The Deep need to remember that this temple is sacred and theft of even one relic will be met with justice both swift and terrible. Teklin rounds the crumbling stone walls, lines up the shot, and fires. The Hooker never even heard the shot before he fell lifeless on the frozen ground.

And with that final shot, the game came to a close. Battlesmith eventually fell later that turn but there were no further actions to pick up any of the treasures let alone get them off the map. Grey Rock successfully defended the temple from the onslaught of the Deep.

After discussing the game, I’m convinced that this game was lost in deployment or turn zero, as they say. With Teklin being absolutely deadly at range and the Wizard able to easily hit and run, there was no good way to assault this group when placing them in defense. Sean had won the roll off and made the decision but I don’t think he realized how tough this would end up being.

If the situation was reversed, I’m pretty sure the results would have been very similar. Attacking this mission is going to be rough. I think my team likely has an edge with all the powerful ranged attacks but I still would have struggled get the treasures off since my team consists of riders that need to burn one of their scant move actions to pick up the treasure. Once I have it though, my team can really haul ass, ignoring climbing or just outright flying over things. The challenge would be the same though in the Deep having more activations and bodies to just tar pit my guys as soon as they stop to grab the treasure.

Range has been a particular issue for us in this game and we’re likely going to house rule some stuff just to even it out. It might be my specific characters but it feels like there is no downside to ranged combat to even out its use: there is no cost difference to take ranged characters, achieving a successful ranged action is not harder (and frequently requires easier target rolls for some odd reason), on top of the obvious wargaming advantages of not needing to burn extra actions to get physically into melee.

Our proposal is to have gun and crossbow weapons (they seem to be the most abusive in this system) require a reload action before they can fire. They will start the game loaded but will become unloaded after firing. Magic will also get a revamp in that spells cannot be cast against targets while engaged except for the targets directly engaged with them.