I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of the rules with my pre-ordered troops from North Star at Salute a few weeks ago, and in a fit of painting completed two of the factions in record time. I probably didn’t pick the best faction for a learning game in The Servants of Ra, but the Prussian Society of Thule troops aren’t quite finished yet, so the Servants will be facing off against Lord Curr’s Company (which includes a lady in an armoured bodice and a Sikh wielding an HMG on his own!)
The scenario is adapted from the rules, in that the factions are vying to get to the boat first and escape, but without the flood/lava flow pursuing them across the board (advancing at a random distance each turn) . Being as how the Servants of Ra call Egypt home, this learning game is set there amid the hovels, palm trees and vineyards(!) bordering the great river Nile.
The figures from North Star are really well sculpted, though with a few mould lines, but I managed to clean these up fairly easily – I really enjoyed painting these figures up which is unusual for me as normally I find it a chore.
At first glance, the companies will play really differently – Lord Curr’s company seems to have all the long range guns while the Servant’s of Ra have mystic abilities. The boxed sets come with a handy little QRF with all the abilities, powers and equipment of the supplied figures printed on them.
The companies deployed on the corners of the board furthest from the river, then rolled for initiative to see who would move a figure first. The Ra folk won, and moved Sairah (the Lady assassin) a full 12″ towards the waiting boat – normally a figure can move 6″ or run 9″ plus a movement bonus if they have it. Sairah has a movement bonus of 2″, so could run 11″, though because of crossing a low wall, this would be reduced to 10″. Terrain works in a clever fashion in that there are 3 levels of terrain, and the number of the terrain is the factor which is applied to movement and shooting – a low wall is type 1 terrain so reduces movement by 1″ and gives a +1 cover save – simple. Sairah has an ability called “Path of Shadows” which, if she matches or beats her “Pluck” (think morale, where the lower the number the better) of 3 on a D10, allows her to move 12″ and ignore terrain – if she fails the roll she can do nothing. She succeeded, and in response to this, Mohan Singh jumped over a wall and set up his machine gun behind some barrels ready to greet the mob of Cultists.
Lord Curr’s plan, for what it was worth, was to cover his advance with the MG and riflemen, while he and his shotgun armed troops would rush the boat. Meanwhile Lady Felicity and one of his rifle armed troops would attempt an outflanking movement through the maze of houses.
The Servants of Ra were obviously hoping to gain control of the boat through Sairah and slowly move up as a mob to join her, killing a few of the opposition on the way.
By the end of the movement phase, there were plenty of targets for the MG and rifles, but seeing what was coming their way Professor Abir tried to cast “Zone of Shadows”, giving himself and every figure within 6″ a type 3 terrain cover save – unfortunately, he flunked the Pluck roll and 7 Cultists were left exposed to the fire in the open. Firing is conducted by using each figure’s basic shooting values (SV) modifying it by the weapon used (a rifle gets +3 while and MG gets +5) then amending by cover and whether the firer or target had moved – this figure is then added or subtracted to a D10 roll and if the number beats or equals the target’s armour value, it’s a hit – sounds more complicated than it is :-). The armour value of a Cultist is 7 (basic clothing), but as they and the riflemen had both moved, the overall factor was -1. However, 2 out of 3 rifles rolled a 9 which resulted in 2 hits. After a model is hit, it must roll greater than its Pluck – equal and it is knocked down, less and it is dead. The Cultist had a pluck of 6, but a rifle subtracts a further 1 from Pluck, so they needed over 7 but both failed and went down.
Then it was the turn of the MG. There is another interesting mechanic for MGs called “walking fire” where the shooter can split the SV of the weapon over any number of figures within 2″ – I chose to split the +5 over 3 figures, giving a +2, +2 and +1. However, bad rolling saw only 1 hit, and even with the MG’s pluck modifier of -2, the roll was made. (Thanks to Dewbakuk on the Lead Adventure Forum for pointing out that I got this wrong – it’s the SV of the shooter, not the weapon which is used. In this case, the shooter has an SV of +3, so can split his fire against 3 figures at +6 – SV of +1 plus +5 SV of MG).
This ended the turn, and Lord Curr won the roll for initiative for turn 2. Alternating moves saw Lord Curr and his shotguns with Mad Mick the Engineer move towards the boat, while the remaining Cultists and the Professor ran to get out of line of sight of the rifles and MG.
While Lady Felicity and her escort crept through the hovel, the Pharaoh and Mummy priest pealed off from the mob to give them an unpleasant surprise. Sairah continued her sprint for the boat.
In the shooting phase, the only target for the rifles and MG was the Mummy, but he would be difficult to take down, having the Numb attribute (meaning he had to ignore the first hit which killed him) and he had the “Clouding Men’s Minds” ability which meant no-one could target him unless in base-to-base contact. As the rifles were raised against him, the Mummy tried to activate his ability, but flunked the roll – never mind, he had 2 lives…then the riflemen cheated :-(. Figures with ranged weapons (but not explosive, arc or flamethrowers) close to each other can perform volley fire, which only allows one roll to hit, but adding +1 to the roll for each figure in the volley. The volley slammed into the Mummy, but he shrugged it off (Pluck of 3+, even with the +1 for rifle fire, easily achieved). The MG wouldn’t be such an easy proposition though, as Mohan Singh concentrated all its +5 SV on the Mummy. A combination of a good to hit roll, the MG Pluck modifier and a lousy Pluck roll saw the Mummy fail, but its Numb attribute meant it quickly recovered its composure. Lady Felicity saw her chance, and fired off both pistols in the direction of the Mummy – one shot missed, but the second hit. The pistol didn’t have any Pluck modifier, so the Mummy only had to roll 4+ to succeed, and even a 3 would only knock him down – he rolled a 2 – the ground opened up and the Mummy was dragged down into the pit of hell (well, actually the VP area off-board, but the pit of hell sounds so much more dramatic).
The Mummy-less Servants of Ra won the initiative for turn 3 and the fleet-footed Sairah made her roll to move 12″ and ended up dancing on the gangplank of the boat.
A flustered Lord Carr ran towards her on the boat, ending up behind some barrels, hoping to line up a shot on Sairah next turn.
With no targets left, the MG and rifles also started sprinting towards the boat….
…while Mad Mick showed how mad he actually was by stopping off for a drink out of the fountain – he was charged by 5 Cultists under the control of the Professor. Lady Felicity and her escort backed away from the skulking Pharaoh, but he would not be distracted by a mere woman (even though she had just creamed his Mummy priest) and made towards the boat where the final showdown must inevitably come.
And there we must leave it for today – will Mad Mick survive the assault of the Cultists? Will Sairah fall foul of Lord Curr’s arc rifle? Will I get even more rules wrong? Find out next time.