Erik handily won the first scenario, which required obtaining the most Alchemical Stones from a chest in the center and returning them to your side. Erik kept his eye on the objective and immediately used his Shiek leader's 4 Action Points to zip to the center and dig for Alchemical Stones. His minions kept my guys occupied, while his Shiek struggled to find the valuable Stones in the midst of all the other junk in the chest -- gold and jewels and whatnot. My leader, a wounded Tecum'seh, tried to head off the Shiek's escape route, only to be cut down by a lucky Suleman strike, Tecum'seh's nimble Defense failing him. The Shiek exited the board on Turn 3 with 5 out of 7 Stones in hand.
My Crow Thunder Warriors made a desperate attempt to find the other two stones. The time remaining required a bucket-line strategy, where one guy would find the stones and then throw them to his brother, who would have to catch them and run off the board. Unfortunately, the first guy failed in 3 attempts to find the remaining stones, each failure missing by only one point!
The Khaliman entered the second scenario with their prize of 5 extra Stones. The second scenario introduced the faction Alchemists. We learned that the Khaliman Oracle has significantly fewer Stones in her profile card (8 compared to the Toad Shaman's 10 or 12), so the extra Stones from the first scenario were all that much more tasty for the Oracle to have. In short order, the Oracle kicked off her power-spell, which resulted in giving the entire Khaliman crew endless free Reactions, due to her spectacular oracular abilities. That was a serious buff.
The objective was to control the Jin Post in the center. The more crew-members in contact with the Jin Post, the better the odds to force the enemy to abandon the field. Unfortunately, the scenario's designer (me) didn't account for the Shiek's super-high Mind attribute (9), which made it almost impossible for the Aurlock Nation to win the scenario, even when they had 4 crew-members hugging the rock. Tweaks will be made to the scenario.....
To add insult to injury, one of the narrative highlights of the game was seeing the Shiek chase the hapless Toad Shaman up the winding stairwell, plugging him with arrow after arrow, felling the gasping amphibian in cold blood. Erik is a harsh and ruthless opponent!
As it turned out, though, the Aurlok Nation was able to turn the table and win the scenario through straight-up annihilation. The Auroch Totem Warrior was sacrificed, unfortunately, and the Toad Shaman bit the dust, but Tecum'seh and his Crow Warriors were able to finish the job that the Auroch started, thanks to some lucky/unlucky dice-rolling (depending on which side you were on) and the Crow Warriors' excellent dodgy Defense.
It was great to see the Khaliman Republic in action. It says a lot for the game's design, yet again, that each faction plays very differently and yet shows very good balance. The Khaliman are very fast, and they have a versatile tool-set, including the longest ranged weapons in the game plus some Long Reach weapons. I didn't like being on the receiving end of that. However, I had the consolation that I was getting hit only twice, compared to Tecum'seh's potential 4. One disadvantage the Khaliman have is their shorter life-lines. Erik is still futzing with the Shiek's Marksman ability, so we'll have to wait to see how big a factor that can play.
The reaction to Alkemy among my game-group has been consistently positive. It's an easy game to learn, and the core mechanics offer a lot of interesting decision points, which gives it its tactical fun. The factions are balanced and flavorful. It's easy to get your head around the special abilities -- you have fun options to work with, without burning out your brain. There are fewer models to paint and transport. It's a nice pick-up-and-go game that you can knock out in an hour or two, depending on how large you want to go.