Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Force on Force battle report

Some time ago I played a game of Ambush Alley and really rather liked it. As a set of squad level modern rules, it is fast, fun, unpredictable, but seems to provide a good feel for modern, street level combat. Since then Osprey have released Force of Force, which takes the mechanics of AA, and expands the whole system to cover a much wider range of engagements than the urban combat against irregulars which is modeled in the original Ambush Alley.

Force on Force is a fatter book, and more mechanics have been tacked on to it, but it is well laid out, with modular rules which one can absorb over time. Hence I read up on the basics as well as the chapter on infantry combat, and then invited Kelvin round for a game. At the end of the infantry chapter is a sample scenario, using the battle for Fallujah in Iraq in 2004 as the background.

In this case two US squads need to cross the table and occupy a pair of target buildings at the end. In the way are seven units of Iraqi fedayeen, occupying pre-assigned buildings. Although they were classed as irregulars, we were not using the asymmetric engagement rules from later in the rules manual, partly because it was Kel's first game, and partly because there was enough new chrome in this game that I didn't want to start worrying about hot spots and out of contact movement.

"You're not in Kansas anymore Dorothy!"

Kelvin took the role of the US side, which meant he had initiative for the first four turns. Out of a total nine turns he kept it for seven (I think). He used a walled compound to get his squads to move quickly to the objective without the fedayeen getting a bead on him. One fire team occupied a tower to provide overwatch and lay down some covering fire.

US fireteam using overwatch to cover the advance,

Another fire team stormed the house which was one of the key strong points of the defenders, taking two prisoners. Most of my guys were finding it hard to react to the US advance, as their Troop Quality (TQ) was D6, although morale was high at D12. Kelvin's troops were fighting at D8/D10. Both sides were rated as Confident. The game system focuses more heavily on relative training and morale and tends to abstract differences in hardware, so that you don't need to worry about the rate of fire of an AK47 versus an M16 for example.

Two fire teams prepare to storm an enemy strong point.

Once the Americans had occupied the building, a big firefight developed with the building next door. It was the fedayeen team in this building that would probably do most of the fighting with the Americans. By the end of the game, the fedayeen still held it, although they were pinned down and every single one of them was wounded. It was interesting to see how the system modeled a squad gradually being reduced in effectiveness, to the extent that they could hardly influence the battle at all, although they still technically held their position.

Storming party goes in. Red bead = a hit on them.

Kelvin kept up his advance, but this is where the first relevant Fog of War card was pulled, giving the Iraqis an off-table sniper, who inflicted some damage on one of the US fire teams before he was reassigned.

Target buildings in distance - red counter means squad has one serious wound.

Crucially, I managed to occupy one of the target buildings with a squad of my own, but they took a lot of enemy fire, and with their leader seriously wounded, were not able to do more than react to fire towards the end of the game.

US has taken one target, but many soldiers are wounded.

Kelvin occupied one of the target buildings, but the fire team that managed it had too many wounded, plus three accompanying POWs and they were suffering from dehydration (Kelvin is having problems with water in war games, having suffered a Bad Water event in the last game of The Sword and The Flame).

Last turn of game - fedayeen on right were only squad still unscathed.

We reached the end of the game with not enough US troops in position, and one US infantryman killed in the very last turn as he was running across a street. However, losses among the fedayeen had been heavy (two units virtually wiped out, and all but one ineffective due to casualties), and with three captured as well, Kelvin was able to claim victory honours at 25-16.

I still really like this system. It doesn't take too long to play. It uses a small amount of space. You don't need very many figures. It forces you to think hard about your tactical choices. And it does feel relatively realistic. I'm keen to play more.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Zulu War Skirmish

It being a quiet time of year, Kelvin and I put a day aside to play some Zulu War. We used a variant of Warhammer Historical's Legends of the Old West, incorporating some of the mass combat rules from its Alamo/Mexican War supplement. Having played quite a bit of Lord of the Rings in the last year or so, which makes use of the same mechanics, it was relatively easy for us to get going, as we were both quite familiar with the system.

I have expanded both sides since our last game, with the British getting some more Natal Native Contingent and some regular horse, and the Zulus getting some more warriors (including some of the Wargames Factory warriors I bought ages ago at To The Redoubt in Eastbourne) plus some more Foundry musketeers. The stage was set.

The scenario was another of the free scenarios downloadable for The Sword & The Flame on Boardgamesgeek. In this case, the British column has been sent to secure an abandoned farm as a first aid post. The Zulu brief was simply to inflict enough casualties on them to force them to break, while still avoiding more than 50% losses themselves. The Zulu impi was organised into two wings this time, each with its own break point, under the overall command of the Zulu prince Indekazi,

The Zulus were allowed to set up hidden on the table. Kelvin could organised his units and wings as he wished, with each unit having a minimum of 10 warriors and maximum of 30. Muskets could be mixed in with warrior units if desired. He was also given as many dummy markers as real units to distribute on the table. As per the rules in LotOW's Blood on the Plains supplement, British units could spot markers within 12" at a 50% chance of success. Opening fire or moving into the open in LOS of British units would reveal a marker's identity. Markers, dummy or not, could also move 3" per turn if concealed.

The British column moved onto the table, with the regular infantry platoons leading, and cavalry screening off to the right. Boer volunteers covered the left. Captain Goodheart, the OC, stayed close to the head of the column. It was far too quiet.

No sign of the Zulus so far - the British player consults his notes.

The first marker to the left turned out to be a dummy. The column proceeded into the centre of the battlefield with no response from the Zulus. It was starting to look positive for Goodheart and his men. Then some Zulu muskets, under the command of Prince Indekazi himself, sprang up in the wheat field to our front. The British infantry moved quickly into line to respond with the full force of their rifle volleys, but Zulu musket balls dropped a couple of privates. The Boers and cavalry moved to secure the flanks.

Zulus under Indekazi pop up in the field ahead of the British column

With my rifle fire now whittling down the Zulus - who were making full use of their cover in the field - my cavalry tried to spot movement in the undergrowth on the right. They couldn't see anything, but I hoped that if there were more warriors there, the presence of the horsemen would discourage them. Goodheart sent the NNC contingent on the double towards the seemingly empty farm.

The British firing line gets to work.

Indekazi was winged by a British bullet - sitting up on a horse made him a tempting target - and decided to leave the last of his muskets to their duty - they were losing the exchange of shooting, with only a couple left standing. One more crashing British volley, and that was it for them.

The NNC moving across to the British right as another volley goes into the field.

However, now Zulus appeared on both flanks, including the elite White Shields under the induna Amagonogo. They poured out of the undergrowth on the British right, ambushing the cavalry, who got off a single volley from their carbines before they were attacked. I made the tactical mistake of keeping them too close to the hidden Zulus as they tried to recon the bushes. A Zulu initiative win allowed them two charge moves and they were into the cavalry, driving them backwards. The horse tried a counter-attack, but it failed to make much impact, and having lost their momentum, the horsemen started to get carved up in short order.

This is where it all started to go wrong. The Boers, despite being better shots than the British, failed to down enough Zulus on the left, and were forced to retire while the firing line shifted to meet the onslaught. Kelvin had caught the column between the hammer and the anvil of his two wings. Fighting back to back, the British platoons made a desperate stand of it, but started losing men quickly once the Zulus closed to melee.

Captain Goodheart rallied his men through morale check after morale check, but both British officers were burning through their points of Might (used to adjust critical die rolls). Goodheart finally made a dash for the farm, to support the NNC, which I realised would need a British officer leading them if they ran into trouble. Lietutenant Trembley was left to command the melee with the Zulus.

However, Goodheart was pursued into the cornfield and dragged from his horse and speared to death.

With one British platoon wiped out, over half the Boers dead, Trembley looked to be about to meet his maker. However, one platoon peeled away, as its sergeant sought to get clear of the Zulus and reform his men. As one Zulu iviyo turned to meet this threat, it created a gap for Trembley, and he broke clear, along with the remains of second platoon.

A Boer's eye view of serious trouble. White Shields on right.

By this time the NNC had discovered the farm was occupied, and were in an exchange of fire with the Zulu musketmen defending it, reluctant as they were to force an assault. Eventually, realising that I needed to take the farm, and hoping to be able to hold it until the Zulus broke, I attacked it with the NNC. It soon looked as if the brave natives might in fact manage this, particularly as Trembley arrived to support them with his high Pluck score.

Lt Trembley of the 80th killed two White Shields with his sabre.

A British platoon was on its way too, but at this point the British passed their break point, and the sight of another big Zulu posse breaking cover was too much for them. They fled, leaving their sergeant on his own. He spotted Prince Indekazi commanding the defence of the farm, and leaped over a wall to try to kill the induna. His attack failed, however, and pursuing Zulu warriors clubbed him to death with knobkerries.

Trembley rallies the NNC for one last assault.

Kelvin's right wing now passed its own break point, and a large Zulu unit decamped. This was little help to me, as the only British platoon - or what was left of it - on the field, also chose the better part of valour, leaving the White Shields to pursue to surviving Boers and a lone British sergeant.

Fugitives making a fighting retreat pursued by White Shields.

All that was left was the bitter fight for the farm, but with the Zulu witch doctor now present to help rally the troops, it was only a matter of time before the gallant Trembley fell (in a struggle with Indekazi himself) and the rest of the NNC routed.

The attack on the farm finally peters out, and with it game over.

A great game. It took seven hours to play out what would have probably been a 30-40 minute encounter in real life. The rules system can still just about manage a game of this size, but really only just. Any bigger, and my Zulu War games will need another rules system. I thought the British firing was not as damaging as it could be, but Kelvin had chosen to create bigger Zulu units that could take losses without needing a morale check, so credit to his canniness as a tabletop general is deserved. I really enjoyed the hidden deployment and movement mechanic, which I largely designed myself, with some rules for spotting from Blood on the Plains, but it worked very well and is almost a sub game unto itself. The game itself ended a draw, as I failed to complete my mission, and Kelvin lost too many Zulus in the end. But full credit to Kelvin for enduring another epic contest!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Shadowrun Online

Way back in the 1990s I used to play a great deal of Shadowrun. Many, many hours were spent playing the second edition of the RPG, with my brother running a very long Seattle-based campaign. We got into it after playing Pendragon and Call of Cthulhu, and from it we traveled on to SLA Industries. I've dabbled a bit in the game since moving to Brighton, but nobody has been able to mount a sustained campaign.

I've always been a fan of the cyberpunk genre, and loved William Gibson's earlier books when I read them in the mid-1990s, although I've been less impressed with his more recent fiction, like Virtual Light for example. Shadowrun, however, was a great opportunity for total immersion in a cyberpunk environment, and very different from a dungeon bash or the 'high brow' academic Cthulhu investigation. When the bad guys turned up, instead of going mad, you got to unleash some serious military firepower. One of my highlights of the campaign was bringing down a dragon with a surface to air missile.

Shadowrun somehow managed to successfully mesh the genres of cyberpunk with fantasy, using the plot tool of the Awakened World. It was great fun, although towards the end there we were getting bogged down in the reams of equipment and hardware available to runners, and the detailed operational planning (a fun part of the game, but it did mean the GM could go off and make a cup of tea, go for a walk, come back and still find us plotting).

This is not, however, a paean to Shadowrun per se. I doubt I'd even use the Shadowrun rules today to run the game, opting instead for d20 Modern or Savage Worlds. But what is exciting is the prospect of the game graduating into an MMO format, via a Kickstarter campaign.

Oh yes, this does look interesting:

Shadowrun strikes me as an ideal setting for an MMO. I suspect you could get the most out of the game by joining a team/cadre of other players. In this case, Cliffhanger Productions in Austria is looking to launch a highly interactive environment, which will be gradually expanded with additional city modules, just as the original RPG was.

I also like the way that they are being less ambitious with the graphics. Not everyone has high speed broadband connections, and a game that is less graphically ambitious may work better for a bigger slice of the potential audience. I for one am certainly happy to trade in some graphical beauty for superior game play.

But one of the sexier parts of this game is how individual runs can influence events in the broader campaign environment. In particular, corporations in the world will have live stock prices, and events in the game will be able to impact their overall value. If we can also bring in some kind of active media component, like an in-game newswire, that would be even better. I loved the corporate politics and machinations in Shadowrun, and this mechanic really helps to bring it to live.

Anyway, really excited about this, and hoping that Cliffhanger will make it work!

Monday, 23 July 2012

D&D 5e first thoughts

Well, the holidays have started, and seemingly on cue the weather here in the UK has improved dramatically. A couple more weeks and I'm off myself on the annual trip to the Balkans. Meanwhile, I've noticed the blog has passed the 40,000 visitor mark over the weekend, which is great news indeed.

The subject of this post is really 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons, and the recent play test I've been participating in. I'm not going to go into massive detail here, but just wanted to air a few of my own views on the topic.

There are great hopes for the new edition. As a group we ended up being somewhat disenchanted with 4th edition, although I should note here that my son has started running this version of the game with his school friends, and it seems to have gone down well with a generation of kids raised on Pokemon and Nintendo. It does make you wonder whether new blood will really only be brought into the game via an edition that appeals to their own experience - e.g. collectible power cards and plenty of fighting - rather than the game of their fathers' generation.

It all sets Wizards something of an interesting challenge. How do you tap into the Old School movement which has been growing in strength since the launch of 4th edition, attract players who have gone from playing 3rd edition to playing Pathfinder, and still appeal to a new market of teens where you need to take on console games in the battle for their attention spans (limited at the best of times)? A seemingly impossible task?

Perhaps not. I have to say I'm favourably impressed with what I have seen of 5th edition so far. I've enjoyed returning to the Caves of Chaos, the sample adventure, as a player. I ran it myself a couple of times when I was at school, when it appeared as part of B2 Keep on the Borderlands, but there are enough changes to the dungeon to catch me on the hop. It is a welcome trip down nostalgia lane.

The game also comes at a time when some of our group - myself included some weeks - are suffering from exhaustion at the end of long working weeks. I have to say my work situation has improved somewhat this year, leaving me feeling less tuckered out by the time the Friday RPG slot comes around. But certainly during term time we seem to be leaning towards a simpler system that is based heavily on combat and exploration and less on the intrigue and intense role playing of the games we used to dabble in (mind you, if I look back at my RPGing in the last decade, the bulk of it has been d20-oriented). D&D 5e seems to slot into that nicely.

I'm sure other games, like Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Castles & Crusades would work just as well. But D&D 5e has been streamlined, it seems, to avoid the complexities of Pathfinder which have been making that game harder to GM at the higher levels.

So what's to like about D&D 5e? The real strength of this system, and indeed what I would have done myself if the Wizards had come to me and asked me to launch the game's fifth edition, is that much of it is optional. You can seemingly play the game with a highly stripped down old school approach, or you can add further layers of complexity according to your tastes. This means there could be no one 'true' way to play the game, and groups can configure the game to their own personal tastes accordingly. If Wizards can stick to this approach with the final edition, then it could well be a success. Flexibility will be the key.

There are some issues I have with it as it stands. The new initiative and surprise system does not, IMHO, work very well, and I'd suggest ditching this in favour of the previous one. I continue to find it confusing and unrealistic. Some of the spells at first level have been tweaked - classics like Sleep for example - and as a group we're not convinced these are improvements. However, clerics and in particular magic users, seem to be more effective and less vulnerable at 1st level, which may not be completely old school, but at least does not lead to the situation where low level parties are wiped out on a regular basis, or the GM is pulling his punches until at least 4th or 5th level.

I also like the advantage/disadvantage mechanic, whereby a character with an advantage in a particular situation can roll d20 twice and pick the better result, or the worse one if they are at a disadvantage. This is an excellent idea, and can additionally be improvised into the game by the DM. I hope they keep it. A good example is the way Kobolds have an intrinsic advantage mechanic in certain situations (I won't spoil the surprise) which makes them a much tougher proposition than they were in AD&D.

It looks like we'll be taking a break from D&D for a bit. The summer vacation is upon us, and soon our little band will be heading off for their August breaks. We may get a little bit of Call of Cthulhu in before we go, if the opportunity presents itself. Otherwise, RPGing will be back in September.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Tyranid army list - 500 points

Well, luckily I've not sold off my WH40k stuff, because it seems Kelvin is potentially interested in getting back into 40K and has a small Eldar army in the making. I'm using this as an opportunity to get back to work on my somewhat dormant Tyranid project, which is now going to jostle for space on my painting table with the last few Zulus I'm painting for this month's Anglo Zulu War clash and my 6mm Carthaginians, which I'm painting for use with Impetus in the autumn.

The Carthaginians have been delayed by my brown primer running out, but a new can arrived from Warlord Games this morning, so it's off to the races again.

Kelvin and I are aiming for 500 point armies to start with. Consequently, I'm looking at the new Tyranid codex with a view to coming up with a reasonable number of Tyranids to paint over the summer.

So, here goes with the initial army list, which helps me to establish what I need to paint/assemble:


Tyranid Prime with Barbed Strangler and Scything Talons (90pts), accompanied by:

Tyranid Warriors (2) with Deathspitters (+10pts) and Scything Talons = 70pts


Genestealer Brood (11) = 154pts

Genestealer Brood (10) + a Genestealer Brood Lord (+46pts) = 186 pts

Total: 500pts

Only 500 points, but it gives me my HQ slot and both basic Troop slots for the army. Plus the Brood Lord can act as an additional synaptic creature once more weak-minded critters like the Termagants get added to the mix. From tiny acorns and all that...

NB: Kelvin has a kickstarter project on the go for an adventure he is writing for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. You can read more about it here. All support greatly appreciated, as there are 19 days left.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Blow the Bridge: modern war game scenario

I'm working on a modern wargames scenario, for Force on Force, although in this instance I'm not including any stats so that it can be adapted to other systems if needed. The idea is to use as many of my modern figures as possible and get most of my desert terrain, as it currently stands, onto the table. I've now also succumbed and ordered myself a Blackhawk and an extra M113 to give my troops some extra mobility.

Blue objective - take the bridge in one piece. Anything else is a FAIL.

Background: This scenario is loosely based on Reserve Demolition, by Charles S. Grant (p.50, Scenarios For Wargames, Wargames Research Group, 1981). Red Force irregular/reservist militia have been tasked with destroying a bridge across a canal to slow down Blue's advance on Red's capital. Red must destroy the bridge before it is captured by approaching elements of a fast-moving Blue motorized infantry unit. Some Red army engineers are working to plant explosives under the bridge.

Terrain: a 6x4 table split into three 4x2 sections. Section 1 has a settlement reached by a bridge over a canal, which runs along the edges of Sections 1 and 2. More buildings are in Section 2. A highway runs lengthways across the middle of the table, over the bridge and through both settled districts. It is bisected at a crossroads in Section 3, which also contains some low hills, desert scrub, perhaps palm trees (if the table is roughly 50% urban and 50% scrub, that should do it). There are three Blue entry points in Section 3. He chooses which one to enter his forces on, but does not declare it until Red has secretly deployed his squads. The helicopter enters anywhere along the short edge of the table in Section 3.

Militia Forces: The militia player gets all the irregular infantry forces I have (have not counted them yet), plus two Toyota pick ups equipped with MMGs on the back. Each pick up can carry up to four additional figures should he choose. The pick-ups must start the game in Section 2. All militia begin hidden (a sketch map will probably be used in this instance). They can be deployed anywhere in Section 1, and anywhere in Section 2. Each squad must have at least seven figures. Commanders must be evenly distributed between squads as far as possible. All militia are armed with 7.62mm assault rifles or RPGs.

Additional resources: The militia player also gets to place three land mines anywhere in Sections 1 and 2. In addition he receives two salvos from an off-table 82mm mortar. Hot spots are placed anywhere in  Sections 1 and 2.

Objective: hold the bridge until ordered to destroy it. The militia commander may not destroy the bridge until orders are received from HQ to do so. If he has more than 40% of his troops in Section 2 (i.e. trapped on the wrong side of the canal) at the end of the game (i.e. when/if the bridge is destroyed), he loses. The tactical challenge facing him is how many fighters he can safely maintain on that side - too few and the Blues will probably take the bridge too soon.

Regular Forces: Elements of the motorized infantry brigade will consist of four eight man squads, plus a small four man platoon command team. Where possible each squad is broken into two fire teams. Each fire team should be allocated a Commander with an assault rifle, a grenade launcher, and an LMG (squad support weapon). All squads enter the table in armoured infantry carriers, or up-armoured four wheel drives (e.g. Humvees/Land Rovers). Additionally, one squad deploys by helicopter.

Objective: take the bridge in one piece. The Blue force can enter from one of three possible entry points after the Red player has assigned his troops. All Blue forces must enter by road initially, apart from those in the helicopter who can enter along the short side of the table.

Umpire specific rules: Roll a d10 for ever turn from #7 - this will indicate when orders are received to blow the bridge: #7 (1), #8 (1-2), #9 (1-3), #10 (1-4) and so on. The explosives are remote activated. US forces will detect them within 4" of bridge (infantry only). Once Blue forces are across the bridge, roll a d20 and minus the turn number. If the result is less than zero, explosives are disarmed. Anyone on the bridge when it blows is lost. The explosives can only detonate if there is at least one Red leader functional on the table.

Militia Reinforcements

As per the usual asymmetrical engagement rules in FoF, militia move on from hot spots placed by the Red player. My reinforcements table is based on my own pool of troops as they stand at the moment. Proposed Insurgency Level is 4. Obviously, if not a sufficient number of figures are available, there will be no carry over to the next turn.

The Red player can trade Fighters for RPGs/Leaders at a rate of 3:1 if there is a shortage of one of the other. For example, if he rolls for four fighters, but only has one left to recycle, he can add an RPG to make up for the lost fighters.

Die Roll

2  = 2 RPGs + 1 Technical with MMG
3  = 2 RPGs + 1 d4 Fighters in back
4  = 1 Technical + 1d4 Fighters in back
5  = 2d4 Fighters + 1 Leader
6  = 2d4 Fighters
7  = 1d6 Fighters
8  = 1d6 Fighters + RPG
9  = 1d6 Fighters + Leader
10 = 2d6 Fighters
11 = 2d6 Fighters + Leader
12 = 2 Leaders

A work in progress to be updated over time. Suggestions welcome.

Getting troops on the deck under hostile fire: a lot harder than it looks.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Super Dungeon Explore

It has been far too many moons since I ventured down to the Hove Area Wargames Society...but I finally managed to get there last night, even after a phone call with the Cayman Islands overshot. I was hoping to play Dystopian Wars, to get a feel for a steampunk naval system that the whole group seems to be raving about, but the loss of Duncan to lurgy meant the absence of the French squadron, and hence no DW.

Not to be fazed, Peter pulled out Super Dungeon Explore, a game I knew very little about, although it reminds me a little of the older Dungeons and Dragons board game I bought for my son back in 2003. It is defined by the very cute and detailed anime-style pieces, of which there are many, and if Pete follows through with painting them, they will look truly spectacular! It is also highly reminiscent of the Wrath of Ashardalon board game from Wizards of the Coast, although with a less extensive dungeon to explore.

One player takes on the role of the dungeon master (I think he's called a consul in this) and controls the critters, which spawn out of spawning points, a la Gauntlet (if you're young enough to remember that venerable 1980s arcade game or its entertaining PS2 successor). The rest of the players take on the role of the adventurers, who must destroy the spawning points to win the game.

The game gets underway!

The adventurers conform to classic D&D-style classes. We went with a Rogue, a Paladin and a Ranger, but lacked any kind of arcane magic user, which is where we may have come undone.

The dungeon itself is composed of square sections, with a spawn point in each. We failed to get out of the first one, although we managed to destroy a spawn point. I also failed to use my Rogue's teleport ability which, combined with her backstab, could have enabled her to take down another spawn point in fairly short order.

The opposition was mainly composed of kobolds or derivatives of kobolds as far as I could see. They're superb miniatures, very chunky, and somehow more appealing than the conventional D&D miniatures.

Each character is defined by attributes and special powers -for example, Stealth, which my rogue had, can be used to reduce the range of ranged attacks made against you, to the point where they may not reach you at all. Quite a nice little mechanic. A turn track keeps tabs on how many monsters the players slay, and this generates rewards for them in the form of loot cards - items you can use to boost various powers and abilities. I found a caltrops dagger which enhanced my ability to dodge attacks. Nice.

The Paladin gets into a scrum with some kobolds as the Ranger and Rogue look on.

The combat dice come in different colours, with red being the weakest (i.e. with fewest dots on them) and green the strongest. All rolls use one or more of these dice in combinations. Hence, my Rogue's Dexterity score was 2d6 red. When she found her magic dagger, she was given an extra blue d6 to roll with her Dex, useful for her, as she was using her Dex score to dodge attacks. These dice also generate potion and wound symbols, the latter used to help you to dispose of wounds. The potions come in handy to power special abilities, like the Rogue's teleport for example.

We abandoned the game when the Ranger was KIA, as there didn't seem a point in going on with two characters while a third player twiddled his thumbs. We managed to squeeze in a quick game of Kingdom Builder before it was home time. I lost KB badly, but it was my first game, and my mental capacities after a long day were undoubtedly waning and in no fit shape to take on a new game like this (that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it).