Paul W and I recently hauled out the Elves and Trolls for a Red Book of the Elf King clash. It’s a game we both really enjoy despite the lack of recent releases – you can see more about it on my Red Book of the Elf King page here – and always provides a challenging scrap.
We had started playing through the Troll Wars scenarios in order a couple of years ago, but had forgotten where we’d got to, so decided to just pull a scenario out of the original rule book. This was Star Fall – a fairly simple quest to retrieve a piece of star iron from the centre of the table. The problem was that only the Thane (the leader of each circle, or warband) had sufficient power to carry the star iron off the table – and would automatically take a penalty counter for doing so, thus inhibiting their actions. As it turned out, this would decide the game!
I was playing Vachel Goldenhand – the most powerful warrior Thane in the game – along with his companions, the Circle of Towers (18 elves in units of three). Paul selected Troll Lord Ragnvhar Earsplitter – who bears a striking resemblance to a blue version of Slaine – and his gang of cronies (15 trolls in units of three). By sacrificing a further unit of trolls, Paul was able to take a Pel Witch, a human spellcaster.
Terrain involved pulling out one of my snowy cloths (created from fleece fabric) plus a number of frosty stone circle pieces – either repurposed pine bark chippings or 3d prints.
The activation system in Red Book is rather good, being a much evolved and (in my opinion) far superior version of the Bolt Action draw bag. Both sides roll a d6 for their number of activation tokens but the roll of a ‘neutral’ d6 is also added to both sides, giving a total of 2-12 tokens each. Units can activate more than once, but only after each unit has had one activation. Also, Thanes have various special abilities and glamours (spells) that can mess with the time-space continuum and therefore add or take away from the tokens in the bag.
My elves got the worst of it at the start, with Paul getting the most activation tokens. I countered it with the Geas glamour that gave me more tokens, but the Trolls were certainly making the best headway into the stone circle in search of the precious star iron.
Various clashes occurred around the periphery of the circle. I attempted an outflanking manoeuvre and there were a couple of bloody clashes between outlying units of Elves and Trolls. I got lucky and managed to wound the Pel Witch with a surprise attack – before she flew off to safety and healed herself.
Paul had some success with some pretty nasty spells that wounded or killed a number of my Elves near the star iron. However, I had a plan involving the spell Wyrmwing, which would (if successfully cast) allow me to fly my Thane and the star iron off the table. Easy. All I needed to do was to rush Vachel Goldenhand up to the star iron!
Well, I managed that part. Vachel proved his warrior prowess by carving his way through the Trolls and grabbing the star iron. Unfortunately, after that it was all downhill. With a penalty counter inflicted at the start of every turn and a number of poor activation rolls, Vachel was stuck for several turns, during which Ragnvhar attempted to turn him into a pillar of ash before belting him with a final attack that took down the Thane. Game over! As ever, great narrative fun.
The minis are, as ever, glorious to play with and the rules are simple and challenging at the same time. Need to get that Troll Wars campaign back under way again!