Last Sunday the BOD Big Battle Day was held. One of our club members turned 50 and thought this was a good excuse to have a day of mass battles at our club venue. No arguments here. Matthijs and I decided to host a Legends of the High Seas battle, but not just an ordinary battle. This would be a battle joined by at least 6 crews and we were planning to make a very large table. It did not take long for crews to join up and we ultimately would have no less than 7 crews, two game masters (me and Matthijs) and one NPC player who would sail with my Undead crew as part of the scenario and control the cannibals.
We had a few months of preparation, which started during our summer holiday when I brought along several models to paint and we had some brainstorm sessions about the battle itself. Very early on we decided that it would not be a crew versus crew battle, thinking that a battle like that would have a very swift ending and we would end up playing several of those battles on the day. We wanted the game to last all day and therefore decided to make a scenario based on gathering victory points by completing tasks and challenges. We had some ideas about those challenges and how they would influence other challenges which could see crews clashing along the way. We also made a draft of the table and what would be needed for scenery and such. In our enthousiasm we planned to make a table with three separate islands and overall table measurements of around 6 x 1,5 meters and an extra part of about 2,5 x 1,5 meters.
In the next coming months we started building and painting the items needed. Extra palm trees were needed. Extra island sections would have to be made. The islands would need some buildings or huts and such. Matthijs made a fortress. More models needed to be painted, especially models which had a key role in the scenario. And the list went on and on. In the end I had trouble finishing all the stuff I had on my list and Matthijs still needed some houses for his island. Luckily we have a very active group of players and most of them brought along al the items we still lacked. Extra houses, models and boats were provided and in the end we had a very big and impressive table.
We made a scenario booklet and printed cards with challenges and treasure. Challenges could be found in one of the two island’s taverns, treasure could be found simply by opening up treasure chests placed around the table. The scenario booklet provided the players with all the extra rules and backgrounds needed to play the game.
We started building the table as fast as we could so we could make the most of the time left to play the actual game. When we first placed all the tables and rolled out the matts with the sea prints on them we were impressed by the amount of space we had, but quickly found that there would not be that much room left in between the islands. We almost dared to say we needed some more space…
All the way in the background is a small island filled with a native population living in huts and further inland is a low hill with the ruins of a church.
Right in the middle is the island of New Haven, ruled by an English Governor. The town contains his mansion, a tavern, a shipwrights cottage, a trading house and several smaller buildings. The harbor is overseen by an impressive fort which is currently occupied by a infamous pirate captain and his crew. There is no clue as to how this captain got himself on the payroll of the English. On one side of the town a large shipwreck lies near the beach, on the other side lies a fetid swamp.
In the foreground you can see an group of smaller islands called The Devil’s Teeth. These islands are filled with pirates and other scum. Most of the islands are linked by rope bridges. The main island sports several buildings, one of which is the tavern where rumors/challenges could be found.
The island of New Haven:
The island with the cannibals:
The Devil’s Teeth:
The players deployed their ships and the game was off. To win victory points one had to get rumors/challenges which could be found in both taverns. Some captains immediately set sail to one of the islands to get some crew onshore to gather some rumors. Others were lured by several mysterious tokens which could be found all over the table. Once these tokens were reached you could flip it to see if it contained treasure or a trap. When several traps were found which killed or injured crew members these tokens were mostly ignored. During the day we used a card based initiative and once players were to far away from each other to influence each other’s actions we ignored initiative during rounds of play. Since this game is tailored for two players we had to make some adjustments to keep a measure of speed in the game. We did not succeed in this all day, but all in all I think we managed.
I tried to create challenges around a bit of a narrative and arrange them in a fashion that crews would find themselves trying to complete a task which other crews would try to prevent from happening. During the day we had gunfights on open sea, attacks on the fort, a race against the Undead captain’s ship in order to save the Governor’s daughter from being sacrificed in a savage native ritual to please their heathen gods, small boats being eaten by giant sharks, some brave souls who ventured into the swamp to find an Aztec gold idol, the death of a beloved character on the Devil’s Teeth and the swift retribution of the local populace against the crew of these vile murderers and a Chinese crew hauling cannonballs to and fro. In the end some big treasure was found in the ruins of the old church while the Catholic Cardinal was evacuated from the island of New Haven.
So much happened that I honestly can not recall all events. And since me and Matthijs acted as gamemasters during the day on separate parts of the table things happened on New Haven that went completely unnoticed by me. I had a great day though, and as far as I can tell all other participants had fun as well.
When the time came to see who had gathered the most victory points I was very surprised to hear that our long time friend Jack had won the day. Jack suffers from a long streak of bad luck in our Legends of the High Seas campaign and has only been successful in bankrupting his crew and rolling the most 1’s in a single game. It seemed that he had been gathering victory points left and right without anyone noticing. He was allowed to declare himself pirate king for the day and received his prize: an eye patch and a Black Scorpion pirate model.