Greek Midgard 3: Basileus in the Underworld

Basiileus’ hoplites face off against the shades of Hades

In testing my Midgard rules, we’ve been slowly playing our way through a Greek myth mini-campaign based on the adventures of Greek prince Basileus and his hardened crew of hoplites – you can read more here in previous instalment Basil and the Horn of the Minotaur. The whole thing is loosely based on Jason and the Argonauts with more than a dose of Harryhausen and nothing too serious involved.

This weekend’s game was prompted by the outpouring of excellent and well-priced 28mm plastic undead mini kits over the last couple of years. Tom, Martin and myself have all succumbed to a greater or lesser extent, thus we had enough skeletons and shades to put together an army of Hades. Tom had recently added Hades, Cerebus and Orpheus to his collection as well, and thus a simple scenario was born…

Legions of the Dead – nearest unit is Wargames Atlantic skeletons with some Victrix Greek parts

Greek hero Basileus has been set three highly dangerous (and probably fatal) tasks by the King of Athens in return for the hand of his daughter.  Fortunately, Basileus can call on a large band of followers – the Argianauts.  Having successfully escaped from Crete with the Minotaur’s horn during his first task last year, Basil has also recently liberated Apollo’s chalice from the Isle of Delos. 

Now Basil tackles his most dangerous task – emulating Heracles in bringing Cerberus out of the Underworld.  Fortunately, he has acquired the services of the famed Orpheus to charm the three-headed hound, but Hades is on the warpath to stop him.  Who will prevail?

The scenario would be fought as a straight battle but with Orpheus in control of the enchanted Cerberus – the mission for the denizens of Hades was to get him back at all costs! Which was pretty much what happened.

Battle in the Underworld – Greeks on the left, army of Hades on the right

The forces deployed looked roughly like this:

FOLLOWERS OF BASILEUS

Basileus, Greek Hero and Army Commander

Deianeira, Priestess of Athena

Orpheus, Bard

Parthenios of the Winged Sandals, Greek Hero

Haplus the Steersman, Hero

Eryx the Marksman, Archer

10 x Hoplites

3 x Archers

Eryx the Archer and his men. Eryx couldn’t hit anything for toffee for the first few turns but his followers did the job!

FOLLOWERS OF HADES

Hades, King of the Underworld (arriving later in the game after being invoked by his followers)

High Priest of Hades

Priest of Hades

3 x Skeleton/ Shade Warleaders & Champions

5 x Skeleton Archers

9 x Skeleton Warriors

2 x Shade Warriors (summoned during game)

1 x Wurms of the Underworld (summoned during game)

The Legions of the Dead deploy for battle – mostly Oathmark skeletons in these pics, painted by Martin. There are some Alternative Armies Celtic undead at the back.
Terrain: a piece of painted dark grey polar fleece fabric that Tom created for Frostgrave games, with various drop-on pieces of terrain. Big pillars are pieces of wood with wooden moulding from the DIY store, based on slottabases.
This skull has been living on the shelves in Tom’s gaming room for some years but I’ve never seen it used in a game (obviously playing the wrong stuff). If you can’t use this in Hades, where can you use it?
Mucking around with camera settings – we quickly discovered that the ‘Dramatic Cool’ filter sucked out some of the colour, perfect for the Underworld. Tom, you’ll notice, has also made the correct colour choice of shirt for the day 🙂

The battle opened cautiously, with both sides advancing into bow range. The left flank on each side was slightly overlapping, as you can see, and that became the focus of the action.

Eryx and his men exchange arrows with the skeletons on the flank

Hades’ forces were praying for the arrival of their God, who took his time and didn’t turn up until Turn 3! Once on the table, he moved down the line and summoned the ‘Wurms of the Underworld’ to support the undead on the exposed right flank.

Hades finally turns up but is deep in contemplation! SHQ Miniature painted by Tom.
Orpheus advances his men, keeping a close eye on Cerberus. Footsore (Orpheus) and Reaper (Cerberus) Miniatures respectively, again both painted by Tom.

With Hades flexing his godly muscles, the Greeks decided to act. Parthenios of the Winged Sandals drew his legendary blade and was sent to challenge the King of the Dead to single combat. The Priestess of Athena had used her ‘I Foretell Mighty Deeds’ trait to give Parthenios extra, er, Mighty Deeds in the turn that followed, and Parthenios decided to blow the lot in the first round of combat. The gamble paid off! Hades disappeared in a puff of blue smoke, not to return – a huge blow to the Army of the Dead (but cheers all around from the Greeks).

Parthenios of the Winged Sandals takes out the Ruler of the Dead in a daring single combat

The Greek line was now advancing across the field against the skeleton archers. Casualties were inflicted on both forces, but the Priests of Hades were replacing their losses as quickly as they occurred. Clearly the hoplites would have to get stuck in to break some bones!

Deianeira casts a wall of mist to protect the advancing hoplites from Hades’ archers.

It was crunch time, literally, and the hoplites crumbled their way through a couple of units of skeletons with a clear view to rolling up the flank. The Priests of Hades summoned some shades to bolster the line and the Wurms of the Underworld were sent forward to do their deadly work.

Yet more shades are summoned by the High Priest of Hades
Crunch time for Hades’ bony buddies

Seeing the threat, Parthenios of the Winged Sandals and Eryx the Archer attempted a pincer attack on these thirty-foot long monstrosities – I say ‘attempted’ as it all went wrong. The Wurms turned on Parthenios and swallowed him whole in the following round of combat. Ah well, it was heroic!

Farewell, Parthenios of the Winged Sandals. The Wurms of the Underworld are 3d prints from Martin’s collection.

The High Priest of Hades now decided to commit everything to the battle and there was a huge melee in the centre of the field. Orpheus and Basileus found themselves engaged by different units of skeletons.

With Basileus’ unit pinned on one side, one of the skeleton warleaders led a charge against Orpheus and his men. Clearly inspired by the flaming skeleton and his dreadful steed, the skeletons won the combat decisively. Not only that, but Orpheus was slain (rolling a double one on his Risk to Heroes dice). Cerberus was free!

Orpheus falls in combat with the skeletons

Unleashed, Cerberus reverted to being Hades’ big, brutal watch dog (a Legendary Hero in the game) and proceeded to rip chunks off the hoplites encroaching upon his territory.

Hades’s forces caused chaos on the Greek right flank, winning several combats and causing the hoplites to fall back in fear. The goblet of Reputation for the undead briefly ran empty – but was refilled by successful charges and spell-casting from the Priests of Hades. With Cerberus back in his role as the watchdog of Hades, it was time for Basileus and his surviving warriors to beat a hasty retreat, albeit with a glorious tale to tell on their return.

What unpleasant task will the King of Athens dream up for Basileus next?

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