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Friday, 16 March 2018

Palaeo Diet - The Mammoth Hunt

The Rock Clan needs more furs and meat to survive the coming artic winter, a Mammoth has plenty of both, we just need to persuade it to part with them. Eat or be Eaten a Palaeo Diet Adventure.

Mammoths on the long trek south to the Alps before winter comes.

The Rock Clan

They are a small group of Palaeolithic Hunters, who inhabit the scrubby plains that the Mammoth herds have to pass through on their way back from their summer feeding grounds of Dogger, the area that is now the North Sea. They need to make a big kill to survive the coming winter and so far they have had a lean time of it.

However they have been trailing a small group of mammoths and have managed to split 3 animals off from the main herd. Mammoth hunting is quite simple, you either find a big cliff and drive them over it, or the harder way is to dig a pit and herd one or more animals into it.
There is a 3rd way but no one in their right mind uses it as it involves walking up to the big beastie and hitting it until it dies. You will immediately see the flaw in this method.

The scrubby plains where they live is devoid of cliffs and so they have to dig a pit, a bloody big pit, but in the vast expanse of the plains it is quite a small target to hit with your chosen mammoth, at least an inner bull.

The method of driving the animals is not as easy as you might think, shouting and waving your arms about is just as likely to get them charging at you as stampeding away. Fire which is the other method can be just as difficult, carrying it about is quite tricky and lighting it on demand even trickier, there is the added danger of setting fire to the brush which is just as likely to roast you as your prey.

The rules I am using are Palaeo Diet – Eat or be Eaten, they are by Nic Wright and published by Ganesha Games.
This link should take you to his blog, there a quite a few games showing the rules as he was developing them, with as cute a set of mini's as you will ever see, I think they are 15mm and from Australia I believe. http://irregularwars.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/palaeo-diet-bloodbath.html

I was keen to try them because they are designed for solo play, the animals reacting to an AI series of tables, there are 5 groupings of animals, Apex Predators, Pack Predators, Giant Grazers, Herd Grazers and Critters, all self explanatory.

The hunters all have the same statistics although as is customary with rules nowadays there are traits such as Alert, Healer, Thinker etc, takes me back to Bruce Quarrie with national characteristics.

This is something I dislike for two reasons, they usually seem so artificial and have some strange special effects but mainly because I can never remember to use them and have to continually look them up when I do remember. This is not aimed at these rules in particular, just rules in general, and yes I know I'm out of step with the rest of the world, or maybe the rest of the world is out of step with me.

I mention all this because I usually use character cards that give me some feeling for the figure are they brave, weak, fast etc, and this also does away with a lot of artificial traits. Well in this case I’m not, I'm using the rules as written, so the characters will hopefully develop as I go along, or they will die, whichever comes soonest.
My original intention was to steal Nic's AI ideas and incorporate them into the rules I normally use and I may still do that. This is the 5th game I've played though and I've not felt any great compulsion to make this change, there are a couple of things I might still be doing wrong, but if not I'll probably change the rule, but on the whole I'm very much enjoying them, they are simple enough for me to grasp easily and give a fun game.

Please note I am not recommending you buy the rules just explaining why I am using them for this game and the cover art picture is just there to break up the text.

OK sorry for the rambling introduction but you’re probably used to that if you’ve read anything else I’ve posted. So on with the game.

The Mammoths are only moving slowly, eating on the way and this has given the clan time to get into their designated ambush positions.

A quick overview, the mammoths – giant grazers - are being ‘driven’ by Akoba, out of sight on the right, I say driven but basically they are going in roughly the right direction and he is following. You can see the pit, or CD covered in a bit of flock.
If I was serious about this stuff I would have created a beautiful pit for the mammoths to fall into like Frank did, but his Nickel and Dime film production company has a bigger budget than mine and anyway I’m not digging a hole in my table for anyone.

Hopefully you can see the two females who are either side of the planned route and will guide the beasts into the trap, and also out of sight just beyond the pit is the other male, Tumak, he is acting a bit like a line backer, his job is to stop the beasts if they are going to miss the pit. Good luck with that one.

The only other thing of note is that by each member of the tribe is a fire pit. This should have had small bits of wood in them, ready to catch fire but I’ve only just thought of it.
If you could just imagine they're there and we’ll all be good.

Mouflon sheep – herd grazers, they are Warbases figures but I got them from Col Bill because you get more adults for your money.

This is Tumak the line backer and just beyond the pit are a small herd of Neolithic Horses – herd grazers. These are plastic zebras I got from B and M a cheap supermarket in the UK and I painted them to look similar to the cave paintings in the SW of France. They are probably a bit tall but they were pennies rather than pounds so will do for me.

Yani - one of the clan females with a cave lion – apex predator in the distance. This is a plastic tiger again from B and M in the same set and repainted.

Wolves – pack predators - very badly painted I’m sorry to say. After I’d done these I saw what Joakim had achieved with some wolves he had painted and made a much better job of them, I might go back and re-do these.

You still can’t see Akoba but it’s a good shot of the very expensive mammoths that didn’t come from B and M.

After the long winded preamble, Akoba skulks forward and howls. Each hunter can do 3 things in a turn, they have to roll 1, 2, or 3 D6 and achieve a certain score to be successful in each action, the 3rd die is harder than the other 2. Different sorts of movement cause animals to react once the hunter is within a certain distance, failed activations have a similar effect. Basically you try and creep up on the animal so as not to disturb it and then attack. Akoba is trying to frighten the beast into running away towards the pit.
He moves forward quietly but fails the 2nd roll to howl, I guess being so close to a mammoth might make your throat go dry.

This is probably not the sort of close up view you would normally want of a Mammoth.

Failing the action causes the mammoth to react and it attacks him. Ironically with the same throw, if he had successfully howled the beast would have fled. What a difference a dice roll makes.

Those sweeping tusks miss by inches, Akoba ducks to one side. Next turn he activates and slams his club down on the mammoths leg, causing it 1 point of damage, 3 to go before the Mammoth is down. The mammoth reacts and attacks back, wounding Akoba, 1 more point and he is down.
Mammoths have a Resilience of 4 wounds and Hunters 2.

Next turn Akoba attacks again, bravely or stupidly but he hits again and the mammoth takes another point of damage – 2 to go.

In response the mammoth roars in pain and anger, Akoba is frightened by the noise and backs off.

As this is going on the rest of the clan are trying to remain quiet but still have to test for activation even if doing nothing. At this point both Yani and Tumak fail an activation, this causes the nearest animals to react and the horses become alarmed and some start to move away.

Akoba needs to get the mammoths running and so he howls but it is more of a mewling noise and the beasts just turn and move away on their original path.

He realizes he is letting the rest of the clan down and makes a final effort to howl convincingly and this spooks the wounded beast and it stampedes.

Nuponda, the female who had been nearest to us sees that the beasts are in direct line from her to the pit, she ignores her instructions and she skulks forward howling like a banshee, this has the desired effect.

All the animals flee directly away from her and the big male mammoth falls directly into the CD err mammoth pit and can not escape.

You can just see Yani in the distance – in front of the calf.

A close up

A very close up – oh dear.

Tumak runs forward to attack the calf but it turns and roars at him, he is so surprised that he backs away.

Yani has been frantically trying to start a fire and finally she gets smoke but not much flame. Tumak moves forward again and attacks the calf, and the calf attacks back, both take 1 hit.

Nuponda skulks forward but fails 2 activations and the calf and mother both attack.

The calf sticks it’s little, umm 2’ long tusk into Tumak and he falls to the floor. Akoba rushes to Nuponda’s aid.

The wounded mother mammoth roars and they both recoil from the angry animal. In the background the calf appears to be goring Tumak as he rolls wounded on the ground. That’ll teach him to mess with baby mammoths. At this point in the game I realize I’m not sure whose side I’m on.

Akoba howls but the mother and calf ignore him, he really is a pathetic howler but both animals are wounded and obviously tiring. However when Nuponda howls they both move away from her and back towards Yani. I’m not going to make any comment about a female howl being more effective than a male howl.

Just at this point Yani gets the fire going, flames start to leap up, this scares the animals.

You just know what’s going to happen and it does, the beasts turn 180’ from the fire and run.

Nuponda manages to jump out of the way stabbing the calf as they thunder past. Akoba runs in to attack the big mammoth, will he never learn.

Yani’s fire is now burning brightly. Did you see how it got bigger, did I mention I had been making stuff with DAS.

Predictably the mammoth turns and attacks Akoba and you can see Yani running in to help, but the big beast roars and she stops in her tracks, Nuponda backs away but Akoba stands his ground.

As the fire starts to spread, the herd of horses and the cave lion run off in fright.

Yani gets to the mammoth just as Akoba is wounded again and collapses in a heap. She strikes at the beast but causes no damage, in return she is struck and is wounded. Nuponda moves forward and strikes causing no damage but the mammoth moves away.

The mammoths moves off and the 2 females are wondering what to do.

A quick recap at this point might be a good idea, Nuponda and Yani have both been wounded, one more and they are down. The Mammoth has 3 wounds and the calf 2, 1 more for either of them and they are also down.

These girls are as tough as my western ladies and of course chase after the mammoths.

Which might not have been their brightest idea to date as the female mammoth attacks and Yani is down. Nuponda has a longer reach with her spear and stabs at the mammoth, but fails to do any damage.

They obviously did not read my opening preamble about getting close to big beasties.

The mammoth and it’s calf then moved away. At this point any sane person would have backed off and tended to the hurt and wounded, but I knew it just needed one final push to have 2 mammoths to feed the clan during the coming winter. Maybe even 2 and a half, and calf meat has to be tender, doesn't it?

That’s not really true – I was after blood at this point – mammoth blood, rare steaks, veins in my teeth, I started jumping up and down, shouting kill - kill - KILL, and that's when the little white van arrived.

Nuponda moves forward and makes that killing blow and the mammoth is down. The clan will survive the winter, well what’s left of them will. Just need to see how the calf reacts.

Sure enough, rather than running off it stays and protects it’s dead mother, stabbing Nuponda with the small 2’ tusk, and she sinks to the floor.

Anyone who has read these rules knows that the predators have a part to play in the game, when they are in sight of a wounded or dead animal they may move towards it and indeed may end up eating the animal before the hunters can drive them off. In the excitement of the game I forgot all about this and so they didn’t take any part. When I realized I’d forgotten them, all the clan were wounded and would have been eaten by the wolves who were still on the table. This seemed a bit rough on the poor old Rock Clan, especially as it was their first time on the table, so I ignored it. I also had far more animals on the board than the rules recommend, but I've spent time painting them and wanted to show more of them.

The game fairly zinged along, but strangely I’m a bit uncomfortable about it. When Mrs Vagabond came into the room, (she likes to make sure I’ve not died in here, it would make the place even more untidy than normal) and saw the mother mammoth on it’s side - dead she gave me hell for killing poor defenceless animals. My “it’s only resin” defence didn’t seem to cut any ice and the fact that all the hunters were down didn’t worry her one iota.

The game rules have a series of scenarios and after each game the hunters see if they survive or don’t, One hunter who has contributed most to a successful hunt gets to roll on a trait table (yes I know I don’t like them) and if it is unsuccessful something else happens but I can’t remember what.

I’m not sure how to call a game in which everyone on my side was taken out, even though the only thing to survive on my opponents side was a calf that will undoubtedly die or be eaten now that I’ve killed it’s parents. (There’s that uncomfortable feeling again). As the clan has enough food for quite a while I decided it was successful.


Nuponda recovered from the goring with a nasty disfiguring scar. She is my man of the match and becomes Alert. She gets to re-roll 1 failed activation dice if within medium distance of something.

Yani survived and made a full recovery with a disfiguring scar.


Akoba makes a full recovery but has a nasty disfiguring scar. ( all 3 of them rolled a 6 on the recovery table and I now have to change their name from the rather dignified Rock Clan to the UGLY Clan, I don’t think I can to do that.

Tumak – he was only mostly dead and makes a recovery for the next game but has a nasty disfiguring limp.

If you've not already read it Colgar6 posted a better resume of the rules than mine and its also a pretty good read. Here http://colgar6.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/paleo-diet-hunt-begins.html

Well if you are still here – thanks for reading and please leave a comment so I know you were here.


  1. Nickel & Dime has a bigger budget you say John ? well let me tell you it's a lot cheaper to dig a pit then to genetically engineer long extinct animals :)

    A great job all round John the set apart from the kop out on a real pit ;) was first class as was the cast & animals, I seen C6's report a week or so back but prefer your's as he doesn't have that same humor that always make your AAR's that extra bit special.

    I think I've to side with Mrs Vagabond on the abuse of the poor mammoths & leaving the poor calf to fend for himself after butchering his mother is imo the lowest of the low, you could have at least feed him to the wolves :)

    1. Frank the Smithsonian institution did all the work on the genetic engineering, we just used their research and the wooly rug things that came from it.

      All I can say about the calf is that if I had a hunter still standing it would have been 2 1/2 mammoths in the freezer not 2. Hope the RSPCA don't monitor this!!!! ;-)

  2. Marvellous stuff, Vagabond. Really enjoyed this write-up, and it sounded tremendous fun. My biggest fave though was actually the Neolithic Horses - which I thought looked spot on!! Terrific work, and a great-looking game. Hopefully more to come form the Rock Clan :-)

    1. Don't you worry - those Neolithic horses can't just stand around looking pretty, when the Rock Clan are hungry, they'll eat anything.

  3. Great to see you posting a Paleo Diet batrep on your blog at last. I, too had mixed feelings about who I wanted to win. At first I was all for a Rock Clan victory but as the game progressed I started rooting for the mammoth family. I think it was the fact that the mammoths were a family that elicited my sympathy for them. Still, I guess this is why the mammoths are extinct now. Even so, this was an enjoyable read, written in your very inimitable style with much humour.

    1. Hi Bryan - I've had this written up for a little while but I wanted to put a link to Nic's blog and at the time I was ready to post I still hadn't found it so went with Red Sparrow down, imagine my surprise when I looked at your blog and saw the next post to mine was C6 with his Mammoth hunt game, although he gave two games for the price of one. Much better value for money :-)
      I will eventually put up the games from LAF but I'm trying to leave them as long as possible so that you will have forgotten you've already read them ;-)

    2. What charging people good money for repeats John ? I like your way of thinking :)

    3. There's a lot of competition out there, we have to make our money where and when we can. ;-)

  4. Gotta catch 'em all! Sounds as if the ugly tribe will need a lot of bed rest to recover from their injuries and from the exertions of building a pit big enough to hold a mammoth - at least they've got plenty of food.

    Thanks for the shout out as well :-) .

    1. Hi C6 - yes I don't think I've got the longer term idea yet. I am intending running the Ugly Rock Clan for as long as they stay alive but the way I played them it's not likely to be long.
      The pit worked fine as you saw, much safer than trying to bash the Mammoths. In a couple of games time I have the wolf cub raid so I might get dogs to help hunt in the future, although they seem a bit of a two edged sword.
      Thanks for dropping by.

  5. This looked loads of fun, but I’m gonna have to call the RSPCA....

    1. It's very light weight, and yes loads of fun. The AI seems to work quite well, better than I expected but it can be a bit frustrating because the buggers just wont stop still to be killed.

      If I'm shut down by the RSPCA I'll know who to blame ;-)

  6. Just read this after battling my way home from Scarborough through the snow, and it cheered me up no end :-)
    Due to the weather, I empathised with the Uglies need to get food before the onset of winter, and was rooting for them all the way through the hunt - "Aw, poor ickle fluffy mammoth" never enetred my head ;-)
    I'll also think about how lucky I am the next time I'm out shop-pain and standing in a queue at Tesco's, which has got to be far better than digging a blooming great pit or taking on one of those unpredictable tuskers!

    Oh yes, VERY neat touch with the smoke becoming fire, which in turn grew to a bigger fire :-)

  7. Hi Greg, you probably did well to get home, we have about 6 to 8" of snow overnight and it's still coming down. Maybe instead of global warming we are starting the next Ice age.
    I made about 8 flames from the das I've been using, so expect to to see fire's all over my new games, it will keep me warm as we slip back into the cold artic winter.😁

  8. No wonder the mammoths went extinct.
    Great action,but like you I have many reservations about these new-wave rules that use spurious (imho) mechanics sch as cards, random dice {"So your figure wants to climb a tree? Throw three yellow dice and a red one against his tree-climbing skill" etc..
    I guess I'm just getting older and grumpier.
    I do like the setting ever since I saw Matakishi's set-up, but still looking for a good set of rules, but like most game, if I ever get 'into' this, I'll end up writing my own or butchering some other set, like Paleo. The one thing that has put me off getting a pre-historic project going (other than the painting aspect) has been the price of Mammoths!

  9. "I guess I'm just getting older and grumpier" - Hi Joe I think you've just described me, well at least according to Mrs Vagabond, but she's rarely wrong :)

    The Mammoths were the most expensive thing on my Christmas list last year, I did wonder about converting the Wilko elephant, they are virtually the same size but as I've never done anything like that and as I could only find 1 it seemed a step too far.
    I've just spent 3 hours reading Matakishi's new blog, didn't know he had a new one and I couldn't find the set up you referred to. Not to worry I enjoyed the reading, that man is just awesome.
    You do have the hunters so a Lost Worlds scenario in Jimland could be easily done and the big bonus is that they are easy to paint.

  10. Beautiful terrain and a great report. Yup I think you are going to have to rename the clan. The things you've got to do for a feed in the per-historic age are outrageous.

    1. Hi DEW - thanks, that was one of the the things that sent me down this route, terrain is easy, and very few figures needed. Tick and tick.
      You are right about the food though, no macburgers although im sure there would have been mammoth macburgers.

  11. That was an enjoyable fight, but a bit... ambivalent. I had my money o the Mammoths. Poor family, slaughtered for the viewing pleasure of a bunch of mostly middle-aged men ;-)
    Seem better to turn vegetarian, but those AARs will probalby be very boring.
    Great job with the neolithic horses, they look perfect. I like all the animals, actually.

  12. Thanks - yes ambivalent about sums it up. Weird.

    I was pleased with these horses but I've been painting some for my western games and really struggled with them. You notice i kept the wolves well out of sight. ;)