Saturday, January 14, 2017

Holiday Haul of Chaos (?)

While I was at Warhammer Shibuya a few weeks ago, I came across a bit of a commotion among the punters. A Japanese gamer was in store, looking to sell off some unopened items. 

At the time, no-one in the store was really interested - they weren't making armies that featured anything from the mix of items he had. I soon found out that he had some 40K items, and that he wasn't into 40K at all, and would I be interested in some still-shrink wrapped items?

Intrigued, I was shown the following:



1. A Stormtalon Gunship (Space Marines).
2. A Tau battlesuit box (set of 3 XV8's).
3. A "Crimson Slaughter" Dark Vengeance expansion set.

As it happens, I do have a Space Marine army (Black Templars, who only an hour later than this would suffer the ignominy of bitter defeat), a Tau army, and even a small band of Chaos Space Marines, so this fit me almost perfectly.

The price?

50% off list price for the whole lot.

I almost immediately said "yes!", not because I'm greedy, but because I thought that these items might help get me out of my painting funk and bring me back to the "hobby" side of the hobby. I had never finished the Chaos SM models that I had collected over time, and this might be just the thing to get me back into it. (In my next post, I'll crack open the old GW case that houses "Black Jack's Brass Legion" and we'll line up the squad to see what is there.)

I wasn't familiar with the Crimson Slaughter expansion set, so I set about finding out more after getting home. I had quickly looked at the back of the box, and at the time felt it would add a bit of punch to my current CSM troops.

Let's have a closer look:

Crimson Slaughter box image (front)
Crimson Slaughter box image (rear)
So "What's in the box?"
  1. A Chaos Land Raider
  2. x5 Chaos Space Marine Terminators
  3. x5 Raptors/ Talons
  4. x5 Chaos Cultists
Not a huge force, but it should supplement my footslogging CSMs (I seem to remember I only have a Chaos Rhino) and also give me a bit of close combat and fast hitting power. While the Cultists don't help me at the moment (as I don't have any others) they might form the basis of a blob squad later. I'm not sure if this still holds, but without some of other elements the army will stay quite weak (air power).

Now, will I actually follow-up on my good intentions and start painting again?


Friday, January 6, 2017

Frostgrave Fightin'

Happy to get in a game of Frostgrave the other day with an old friend and opponent. We decided to kick off a campaign as this was our second ever game. I dusted off some of my homebrew Frostgrave terrain and a GW battlemat and off we went!

Our warbands were very similar, here is mine:

Melvin the Mildly Marvelous and gang.

Battlescribe Screengrab. Double click to expand


Wizard: "Melvin the Mildly Marvelous": (Elementalist.)

Spells: (See image below)
Spell cards. Before you ask, can't remember where I got them...
As the elementalist has the image of a traditional "explosive" damage dealer, I went with Elemental Bolt and Ball, Grenade. I also went with a couple of buffs (Fleet Feet) and debuffs (Slow, forget Spell)
EDIT: A friend has pointed out to me that I have chosen my spells wrongly. You choose 3 spells from your OWN school, three spells from aligned schools (but each of these must come from a different school) and two from any of the five neutral schools, (but again, each of these must come from different schools.) Thanks for the advice, and apologies to my opponent.

Warband: Some heavy hitters (Knight and Infantryman), ranged damage (archers), fast mover (thief) and cannon fodder (thug.)

I've still got to get a more "frosty" battle mat, so the city of Frostgrave was a bit verdant, but here are some photos and highlights.

The Warbands:

First of all, team photos:

Melvin the Marvelous (wizard at right) and Halfnar (the Cack-handed) at left

Da enemies.

The (decidedly unfrosty) City of Frostgrave:

Drone shot: Avenue of Heroes and Wizards Tower at center. Wailing watchtower at right.

The City Graveyard (scratch build treasure chest at top right)

Wizards Tower (with treasure chest)

The Old Stone Circle

Treasure chest (out in the open? revealed by the melted snow) by the Avenue of Heroes

Treasure in the town hall.

Highlights:

With both warbands on the table, I deployed mine into three groups, wanting to head straight up the table for a treasure grab. One treasure chest was right in front of me in the Graveyard, so Melvin, guarded by a couple of the warband, picked his way gingerly among the bones ("Damnit Jim, I'm an elementalist, not a necromancer").

Another group composed of the thug, thief and an archer sneaked off for the town hall - those corrupt politicians would surely keep their ill gotten gains from over taxation and bribery there right?
Melvin makes his way across the Graveyard. Thug and Thief at bottom right.

All that glitters...is not gold! (pill box, and gold tape!)
In these opening moves, Melvin failed to cast "Fleet Feet" on his underling, instead injuring himself. Halfnar the Cack-handed meanwhile DID get the spell off and the knight found himself able to run further than usual. (Although, as we all know, Knights were actually very mobile in their armour.)

Enemy warband makes their move, hiding behind (foam!) walls...

...and swiftly grabbing some nearby treasure.

Across town, the other warband moved up, making careful use of cover. After quickly recovering one chest of loot, their wizard successfully cast "Glow" on Melvin. Now lit up like Tokyo tower, Melvin is a juicy target for ranged attacks. An enemy archer grazes him, but he is then struck in the head by their tracker, and drops to the floor! DAMN!



Before his untimely death, Melvin looses an Elemental Ball spell,
while one archer picks up some treasure at top right.
Perturbed by his mentor collapsing like a sack of non-magical potatoes, Halfnar nonetheless surprises himself (and me), by actually managing to cast Elemental Ball, taking a whopping 13 points off the enemy wizard. Seeing how badly injured the enemy spell caster is, one of my archers takes a pot shot at maximum range, and manages to hit him. The other hauls one set of treasure to safety, and will now trudge back to base
The end of turn 2, and already two wizards have bitten the dust!

With both wizards out for the count, the two apprentices square off. Glow proves to be a devastating spell for my opponent, and he makes good use of it. I probably should have tried to use Forget Spell because of this, but was out of range.

Now into turn 3 and noticing one of the enemy trying to sneak off with some gold, Halfnar aims an Elemental bolt, but fails to complete the enchantment and for his trouble gets hit with an arrow (2 damage).

Halfnar, supporter by the Knight, looses an Elemental Ball

Stepping up to the plate, my second archer wings the enemy apprentice. Meanwhile my thief and thug sneak around the buildings, still heading for the town hall for a bit o' burglary.

The enemy warband proves their mastery of using cover by moving into good positions and continuing to lay down a hail of arrows, one finding its mark in my infantryman, who suffers a minor wound.
The enemy lines up some cover, continuing to loose off arrow shows.

...the enemy tracker moves forward. Aware of his predicament, Halfnar
hides behind the outhouse (Wizard's tower lacks plumbing!)
They make good use of this maneuvering in turn 4. The tracker (surely man of the match?) looses another arrow at Halfnar, hitting him. The apprentice, (foolishly thinking that hiding behind the outhouse would keep him safe) sinks to the floor, ignominy adding to injury by the unpleasant smell of night soil that fills his nostrils before he succumbs (to the arrow injury, not the smell of night soil!)

Not wanting to go down without a fight, the now leaderless warband rallies and sticks to the plan. One of my archers hits the tracker, but doesn't kill him. My thug, thief and infantryman have continued towards the town hall, finally within reach of some treasure. The thug and infantryman now break off towards the enemy warband, hoping to put them under some pressure. On the right flank, the knight, now alone, makes a dash for home with some treasure. (This was a big error from the beginning of the game as I barely made use of him. I should have let an underling go for the treasure and run him into the enemy warband.)


My archer lines up a shot at the enemy tracker - and HITS!
Knight does a runner...

In turn five, the enemy apprentice fails to cast a healing spell on himself, resulting in more blood loss, and my second archer goes down to an enemy arrow, slumping lifeless behind a building. One of his band also gets a second treasure chest to the board edge!

With the tide turned against them, Melvin's band have some tricky choices to make. We have safely gathered two treasures, and the thief is close to a third, but will he make it back to safety? Over the next couple of turns my infantryman and thug decide to run interference, hopefully distracting the enemy as the thief gets his gloved hands on another box of treasure. The infantryman's leather armour doesn't protect him for long though, and he falls.

The thug does a bit better, tying up a few enemy in the center over a couple of rounds of combat. Despite his lowly reputation, he gives a good account of himself before being overcome by sheer weight of numbers.

Thug life...ain't no life.

In an exciting finish, and now totally alone, the thief makes off with his treasure. He runs from cover to cover trying to arrange arrow fire (pesky bowmen!) or magical interference. In turn 8, the thief makes a run from cover towards the solid stone walls of the graveyard. Falling back on an old tactic, the enemy apprentice casts "Glow" in the hope of aiding his archers, but fails! (taking another wound).

Sighting down his arrow, the archer lines up a final shot, lets fly...
...and misses, his arrow ricocheting harmlessly off a graveyard wall!

Behind the old tower...

...to the graveyard wall (notice the combat in the back as the thug runs in!)

...and to safety!

Relieved to have made it to safety, the thief staggers away into the mist towards the warband's lair with his prize, but with many injured, will anyone survive to make a run at the city again?


Post game!

Great fun! Lots of shooting (both mundane and magical) and lots of wounds and excitement to go around. In the final analysis I managed to get 3 sets of treasure out of the city, and he got two. As we decided to make this the first game of a campaign though, we consulted the treasure table. Here is what I ended up with:

Experience points:
-190 points of experience (I got off x4 spells, and 3 treasures)
-130 gold coins
-2 magic scrolls ("Write" and "Create Grimoire")
-1 "Banish" grimoire
-1 magic item ("Fate Stone")

Don't know if that is a good haul or not, but as to the warband itself:
  • Melvin survived (phew!)
  • Halfgar the Cack-handed recovers, but is "Never quite as strong" (so starts every game at -1 health)
  • Archer 1: wounded
  • Archer 2: OK, and hungry to return, and wreak some rewenge.
  • Infantryman: Dead, DEAD, DEAD!
  • Knight: ready for duty.
  • Thief: ready for pilfering.
  • Thug: Really dead.

Lessons

  1. It is super easy to die. Use those buff spells on yourself if you have them.
  2. Archery is really handy. Would it be fun to have a Robin Hood themed "Band of Merry Men"?
  3. If you have debuff, get it in when you can (for example, Forget Spell might have helped by causing his wizard(s) to forget "Glow", which tipped the archery battle in his favor.)
  4. Don't skimp on thinking about your deployment. As with many games, this is one of the most important aspects. I wasted my knight carrying treasure by putting him with the wizard. More careful consideration of who goes where at the outset might have helped me.
Cheers!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Shout Out to Battlescribe


Credit: calculator,pencil,pen by ShelbyCox on Flickr (cc by 2.0)

I'm going to get this out of the way first: I have no great love of writing up my army lists, running through the numbers, or fiddling around on a games day rewriting my armies. Some people DO have a great love of this, and see army list building as a fun part of the hobby - props to them, but that isn't me!

For this reason, army list software is a godsend, whatever game I am using. I have used both Army Builder and Battlescribe over the years, in both cases paying for full-priced versions (just to note that I have no connection - financial or otherwise - with either company or their owners). I started with the former, but then a proliferation of app and browser based options with lower-priced (and easier to manage payment) options came along, and I moved away from it. In particular, I found the payment process and licensing complex and frustrating (it may have changed since then.)

Over the last year, I used Battlescribe, but as I got in fewer and fewer games it sat mostly unused, until Jan this year when I wanted to prep for my first game of the year. That's when I noted that there is a new version, 2.0 (or maybe later by this point).

As I went to download the app, I could see that there was an unusually high number of very low ratings for the app (at time of writing) on the Google Play store. These were mainly to do with speed issues and how the new version was inferior to the old version. Some of these also noted that despite paying for the old "Pro" software they were now being asked to pay again for 2.0. (NOTE: As an existing user, I was able to input my old license on the website, and you can get a discounted price on the app if you bought the old version.)

With some trepidation, I downloaded the free app, which has ads and limited functionality, and set to work making a list.
Battlescribe (ver 2) on Android phone

I soon found out that on my tablet, the app was very slow, with some buttons taking seconds to respond, but overall, it was intuitive and relatively easy to use. Unlike some users, I didn't have massive issues (which is not to say that they didn't!) The app did what it said on the tin, and allowed me to make lists in short order and make on the fly changes to a list. It isn't likely to be perfect (as the app uses source data created and updated externally by others). It is faster on my phone by the way (Galaxy S7, so much newer and faster than my tablet).

Battlescribe on my PC (Win 10)

On that basis, I went ahead an also downloaded the new version for my PC. As you can see in the screenshot above (double-click to enlarge) it is quite barebones in terms of design, but it does what I want:
-Download the appropriate files for your game system.
-Select your army roster.
-Choose your units.
-Adjust their weapons and loadouts.
-Print roster (not that easy for me, as I use Google Cloud Printing and had some problems with the PDF) or save as a file.

Army Builder does these things, but could be said to offer a more polished interface and other advanced features, but at a very different price point ($39.99) and with a different model. No doubt Army Builder is the right option for many, even if not for me. (If I needed some of the features on offer, or played on a regular basis I would likely invest).

To cut a long story short, I became "a supporter" of Battlescribe, and paid for the Android app and the PC version at the cost of "$1.99 per platform, per year". Yes, it is slow on my tablet, but the developer seems active so I expect it will get better, and the app is faster on my phone and the PC version works well. I'm willing to pay a low annual subscription fee to a small firm for software that meets my needs. If it DOESN'T, then I will not renew my pass, but I don't begrudge spending less than $2.00 to a company that addresses a need I have for an enjoyable hobby, especially when getting into a game can cost hundreds of dollars.

To existing customers, (or potential customers), before purchasing anything take a good look at the Battlescribe website and the FAQ. In November, the developer made an effort to describe why the changes have come about, and provided further information about upgrade options and offers for existing customers. (The developer is also active on the reddit thread for the software).

So, Battlescribe, keep up the good work, and I wish you the best - keep at it!
:-)

Cheers.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year's Destruction!

++Black Templars beat(en) down++



So I headed over to one of my local Games Workshop Warhammer stores for a New Year's game of 40K. This was my first trip to the Harajuku shop in Tokyo, and I enjoyed stepping into a GW as it is something I rarely do - even rarer that I play a game on site.

My opponent and I had previously agreed 1,500 points. I decided to take Black Templars, and he brought Daemons. Not having played a game in ages, I took a very standard list that I had read about online as it matched the models that I have (and I really didn't have any idea about my opponent's models or list).

TL:DR
In a game of Purge the Alien I got crushed and we called it at the 5th.

  • Enemy VPs: 12?! (2 from destroying my independent characters. 7  from eliminating my units, 3 from Firstblood, Linebreaker, and Kill the Warlord)
  • My VPs: 2 (1 from eliminating a unit, 1 from an enemy Deepstrike mishap)

Lessons learned:

  • Templars yearn to get up close and personal. Let them! (I let my Tau gene rule my head and tried to rely on firepower from the back. Didn't work!) Otherwise you are just wasting the (limited) Chapter Tactics we have that come into play when advancing or getting into close combat.
  • It is one thing to have Adamantium Will, but Daemons bring SO much psychic power to the table you should expect to just eat it. 
  • With dedicated transports/ vehicles giving up Victory Points, fragile skimmers and flyers are easy points (and a lot of psychic shooting will take them down!)
  • Space Marines are of course going to go down to massed flamers.

First, my list:


+++ Black Templars 1500 pts  +++

+ HQ +
  • Chaplain [Bolt Pistol, Crozius Arcanum]
  • The Emperor's Champion
+ Elites +

Sternguard Veteran Squad
  • x2 Veteran [Combi-Grav]
  • x2 Veteran [Combi-Melta]
  • x1 Veteran Sergeant [Bolt Pistol, Chainsword]

Venerable Dreadnought [Assault Cannon, Powerfist w/ Built-in Storm Bolter]
Drop Pod [Storm Bolter]

+ Troops +

Crusader Squad [Rhino]
  • Sword Brother [Boltgun, Boltgun, Melta bombs]
  • x3 Initiates [Boltgun]
  • Initiate (Heavy Weapon) [Multi-Melta]
  • Initiate (Special Weapon) [Flamer]
  • x2 Neophytes [Space Marine Shotgun]
Crusader Squad
  • Sword Brother [Chainsword, Melta bombs, Power Fist]
  • x6 Initiate [Chainsword]
  • Initiate (Heavy Weapon) [Multi-Melta]
  • Initiate (Special Weapon) [Flamer]
  • x6 Neophyte [Chainsword]
Land Raider Crusader [Extra armour, Multi-Melta]


+ Fast Attack +
  • x2 Land Speeder Typhoons [Heavy Bolter, Typhoon Missile Launcher]
  • x1 Stormtalon Gunship [Twin-Linked Assault Cannon, Typhoon Missile Launcher]

Created with BattleScribe (http://www.battlescribe.net)

The plan was simple:
  1. Put the big Templar squad and the Emperor's Champion in the Landraider.
  2. Keep the smaller squad with the Rhino back field for objectives.
  3. Deepstrike everything else, using the Landspeeders and Stormtalon to harass anything on objectives, or threaten my opponents back field.

(Edit) My opponent's Daemons list (1,499 points)

Daemonic Incursion detachment:
x1 Lord of Change (Exalted Reward)
x1 Daemon Prince (Lvl 1 psyker)
x1 Daemon Flock of 8 Chaos Furies

Warpflame Host
x1 Herald of Tzeentch (Lvl 3 psyker, Exalted locus, exalted reward, paradox)
x2 Exalted Flamers of Tzeentch
x11 Pink Horrors
x11 Pink Horrors
x11 Pink Horrors
x11 Pink Horrors

x3 Flamers of Tzeentch
x3 Flamers of Tzeentch
x3 Flamers of Tzeentch

So what went wrong?


a.) I didn't get stuck in and stayed on my side of the board with my LRC and big CC squad, effectively wasting them for most of the game!
b.) Relying on my guns to whittle down the enemy was a mistake. Sure I had plenty of Typhoon missile launchers and cannon support from the LRC but I just didn't manage to finish off some units.
c.) Without taking advantage of the Black Templar Chapter tactics, a regular Crusader squad is going to struggle in CC, and a Chaplain is no wrecking ball!
d.) Multiple flamers make short work of Space Marines.

Visual Highlights (and lowlights)

Brother Marius drops in and takes a stand, by good fortune blocking the board.
Dreadnought Brother Marius had a fortunate Drop Pod arrival, not going where I wanted, but still managing to block the center of the board and take down a fair number of daemons before being destroyed.

Brother Marius faces the Daemon horde alone.
A squad of Sternguard drop onto the table to high ground, but their poisoned weapons fail to do any damage to one of the larger Daemons (bad luck? Or was this ordained?)
5 Sternguard drop onto the Flyer pad, overlooking the enemy below.
A Chaplain makes his final stand, his squad all but obliterated by Flamer and Close Combat.
When I decided to disembark my big Templar squad, I intended to move into close combat and then leapfrog from that into the next Daemon unit. However, I failed the charge miserably, leaving the squad out in the open.
Big Crusader squad takes to the field...felt good.
This allowed them to be surrounded by flamers. A unit of three appeared....

...until Daemon flamers turned up to turn this into a barbecue party. Three at right.
 ...then one more at top (a big one!) and the remaining flamer from another unit (at bottom.) Under all of these flamer attacks, the squad got roasted!
...and another flame attack from below, and ALSO from top left. Voila! No Templars!
Stormtalon v. Flying Daemon Prince? That is a one way ticket to hell for the flyer!

Despite being tabled, I had a good time. My opponent was friendly and patient, and we had some good laughs at fate and dice rolls (I rolled x4 ones at least once, but some other good rolls too).

Happy New Year!

p.s. If you are ever in the Harajuku area, don't hesitate to drop into the Warhammer store there. Although very small, it has very friendly staff, a decent selection of items, and a small gaming area in the main shop too. (Also, it is only a few minutes walk from the station.)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

40K Funk

++Squeek++
The guilt in the pit of my stomach can only come from not having written anything on this blog for a long, long time. Every time I have thought about it I just couldn't muster the energy. I have to admit it...

I haven't painted anything.
I haven't played anything.
I haven't purchased or read any rules.

I'm in a 40K Funk.
Credit: Despair by Lloyd Morgan on Flick (CC2.0)


I think this started for a particular reason, and continues for one more. Perhaps writing this will be therapy?

Reason 1


The funk was initially caused because there was just too much stuff coming out. I'm all for options, but as a casual 40K player I also want simplicity. With access to only very occasional games, it simply became overwhelming to keep up with the different releases. Not only "Keep up" in terms of purchases - I simply don't have that kind of wealth, but "keep up" with the sheer volume of content coming out and what it means for the game and the rules. 

I play as Tau and Space Marines (Black Templars to be precise) and I just felt that all the different rule books coming out if different formats, and the changes to the force organization in terms of units and formations is over the top. I started to feel this after buying the new Tau books - there were what, 4 of them in two packs?? Then this started to be the base with the different rules for chapters etc.

  • Expansions?
  • Codexes?
  • Supplements?

I'm probably going to pick up a lot of hate for this but it takes up too much headspace for the casual gamer.

Perhaps the recent release of Warhammer 40K: Eternal Crusade will help?

Reason 2

Compounding the funk has surely been the disappointment that is (by most current accounts), the poorly implemented release of WH40K Eternal Crusade. If you were a 40K fan (check!) and a PC gamer (check!) and a shooter/ coop combat fan (check!) then this WAS looking like it would be a dream come true. 

From https://mmos.com/review/warhammer-40000-eternal-crusade 

Sadly, almost all the promised gameplay has failed to materialise so far, and players are left with a sub-par lobby shooter which appears to not only be not much fun, but also looks poor (and performs even worse. Granted, any reviews you read are going to be subjective, and there is a lot of blame out there right now (especially for the publisher, who has pushed this out in a poor state), but if these first few days are anything to go by the player base will be very small and this will probably be shuttered pretty quick, even as a full price game.

In my mind, perhaps unrealistically, I had been hoping for a 40K theme Planetside 2 (which remains one of my favorite games of all time) so the negative reviews have been a real blow (as is the current inability to customize your space marine armour to that of a chapter of your choice other than several presets - so no Black Templars (by SIGISMUND!)

Looks good eh? Apparently not the case...

There is a glimmer of hope though - the devs seem to be working hard to fix the most egregious issues, and they obviously have some love for the source material - but even "glimmer" may be too positive a word. Also, there are plenty of videos of people having a good time as Space Marines, Orcs and Eldar (but even these make me concerned about the long term viability of the game.)

Hopefully I'll get over this soon!


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