My son and I played Trapped Under a Mushroom last night (after distracting my four-year-old daughter, who was determined to join in with a stegosaurus she's been painting ...). I had a band of goblins, consisting of a gang of five spearmen (Q4, C2, Long Reach, Gang) and a gang of five archers (Q4, C2, Short Bow, Gang), a goblin leader (Q3, C3, Heavy Weapon, Leader) and a goblin hero (Q3, C2, Short Bow, Hero). My son had four lizardmen (Q3, C4, Amphibious, Tailslap), a lesser lizardman (Q3, C2, Amphibious, Short Bow), a snakeman archer (Q3, C3, Shooter: Long, Poison) and a dinosaur-rider (Q3, C4, Mounted, Dashing, Trample, Long Move).
My son declared that one of my troops should be trapped (in our case, swallowed by a carnivorous pumpkin - an old Fantasy Forge resin scenic). We decided there was an equal chance of the captive being a personality, an archer or a spearman, and rolled a spearman. We used a sparser table than normal, with just a few patches of ruins scattered around the pumpkin.
The goblin leader directed the two gangs to spread out to screen the hero and a solitary spearman, who were striving to free their friend, from the advancing reptiles. The archers advanced towards the dinosaur-rider, but though they fired numerous shots, the monstrous mount ploughed into their line with a reaction and, thanks to Dashing and Trample, made short work of his first foe (although he missed a gruesome kill on the fallen goblin by a single pip). Meanwhile, a lizardman and the snakeman clambered atop some ruins on the other side of the archers, and the other lizards advanced towards the spearmen.
The goblin hero and spearman had so far failed to rescue their friend. Shortly afterwards, the spearman had to rush off to help his kin engage the first lizardman to reach them. By this point, the goblins had already lost a couple of archers and a spearman. But then their luck turned. A well-placed shot knocked the dinosaur rider down, and the goblin leader was able to rush in and dispatch him. The snakeman and his lizardman companion descended from the ruins to avenge the rider, but were outnumbered by the leader and surviving archers. The initiative shifted once more, and the goblin leader rolled a 6 with a Power Blow, killing one of the lizards.
With their heavy cavalryman gone and their infantry heavily outnumbered, the lizardmen now looked markedly less formidable. To make matters worse, the goblin leader dashed back to join the hero at the pumpkin. Together, they managed to prise open the voracious vegetable and free the trapped goblin. The remaining lizardmen were closing in, but just as the lesser lizardmen aimed a shot (at Short range for the bonus) at one of the goblin archers, he failed one of his activations, allowing his target to loose a 3 vs 2 shot in response. The dice made that 9 vs 3, and a gruesome kill ensued. The snakeman retreated - and was then shot dead by one of the other goblin archers. A mob of spear-armed goblins made short work of another lizardman, leaving just two on the table.
It was then a question of whether the rescued goblin would make it off the table. He set off as fast as his crooked legs would carry him, but a lurking lizardman managed to catch up with him on three longstriding activations. But before he could attack, the goblin hero, leader and another spearman joined the fray. The last of those attacked – and the lizardman was killed.
That left just one – and he was too far off to prevent the rescued goblin from escaping. We played another turn, in which the lizardman was mobbed and killed by the remaining goblins.
This was a choice victory for goblin-kind against the usually all-conquering lizardmen (high combat and good quality are a killer combination). The Gang rule was a big part in this, as the goblin leader effectively had two or three group activations in the early turns (the two gangs and the pumpkin team could all activate as groups, provided the leader activated at least once, and all three groups enjoyed the leadership bonus as long as he remained close by).
The power of the Short Bow trait is also a great help to goblins, given their low C. With aimed shots and Short range, they were taking on lizardmen as equals (3 vs 3).
The scenario itself was interesting. The presence of a vital task made for a good challenge; unlike the treasure-hunt scenarios, there was little point in trying to fight it out first, as a rout could leave the defending forces too scattered or depleted to release their friend and protect him from the enemy.
One consideration that arose towards the end was what happened if the rescued character routed off the table. Right at the end, a pursuing lizardman was locked in combat with various goblins, including the leader. Had the leader been killed, the resultant morale test would probably have driven almost all the goblins off the table, so close were they to the edge. Would that have counted as an escape? The distinction between running away to escape and routing seems a bit arbitrary in the circumstances.
Another thought that struck me is that perhaps it should be a personality that is trapped. It was a little hard to rationalise the importance of one particular goblin in narrative terms (I couldn’t help thinking of the passage in The Lord of the Rings in which the goblins discuss how they laughed at, and refused to release, one of their comrades who was captured by Shelob!). Perhaps these were unusually kind-hearted goblins. But the stakes might have been higher and the story more satisfactory if one of the warband’s personalities had been trapped.
That would also make the escape from the table more rational. It was hard to justify several mean-spirited goblin spearmen giving up their miserable lives to help one of their own escape, rather than leaving him to his fate, given that he was a goblin of little consequence. But getting a hero or captain or wizard away from the ambushers makes for a less abstract goal. It might also provide more tension in the game, as the released character would be more consequential on the battlefield and thus would be the “cavalry coming over the hill” as well as a victory goal.
That said, it made for a very enjoyable game as it was. All in all, this is a fun scenario with an interesting concept and lots of tactical challenges.