Sunday, June 29, 2014

Battle Report: Lizardmen vs Warriors of Chaos

One of my favorite Warhammer opponents is moving to California, which is fantastic for him and his family, of course, but it's a downer for our Warhammer addiction.  But he has been gracious to introduce me to not just one, but two new players, who can re-bolster the ranks!  We may very well have the beginnings of an actual local gaming group, which would be awesome.

This battle report is the first game with one of these fine gentleman, Bogo.  Bogo is a narrative-leaning Warhammer enthusiast, who owns around 9 painted armies!  He has an appreciation for the cinema of the game as much as I do, often lacing the proceedings with color commentary from the characters in the game -- a mark of a true narrative player.  I see many more games ahead of us!

We played a standard 2000-point game, having rolled up the "Meeting Engagement" scenario with very little terrain.  The ziggurat counts as a building, and the line marks the centerline, from which the armies must deploy over 6" away.  This photo is after the Movement Phase of Turn 1, so the Lizardmen have already swarmed into the no-man's land.  The scenario requires each player to roll to see if any units are in reserve, which explains why the Warriors of Chaos army looks sparse.  3 units are in reserve!

I've played against Warriors of Chaos only once before, and that was about 3 years ago at the first NOVA Open that I attended.  WoC was a bitch back then, and they're now considered a top-tier army, from what I gather from the podcasts, so I figured I was in for a tough fight.  Especially when I saw a 40+ horde deathstar of Warriors!

So my plan was to use the river and chokepoints to isolate the Warriors unit and concentrate on whittling it down with Skink Poison and Salamander Flame until I could have an even match against my Saurus unit.

The Slann would use Wind Blast to keep pushing the Warriors back across the river, since I've learned the hard way that the enemy can simply skip across the river if I give them a viable charge target.  I think it's ridiculous that a unit can't march through a river, but it can run through it!  But, hey, that's one of many things that make Warhammer a "game" and not a "wargame".  ;-)

On Bogo's turn, the rest of the WoC army entered the board, including a Hellcannon, a Chosen unit, and a third Chaos Hounds unit.  During the preceding Lizardman turn, the Slann, the Chameleons, and the Stegadon Giant Bow had all concentrated fire on the War Shrine.  The averages probably should have put 3 Wounds on it, but I had to be content with only 2.  I really didn't know much about the War Shrine, but I figured it probably had to be "A Big Deal", so I really focused a lot of target priority to take it out, which ended up, through bad luck, requiring double the amount of targetings that it should have.  I learned at the end of the game that it's not as game-winning as I assumed, so I wasted a lot of resources on it!

Something else I realized when I saw this photo is that I should have used the Jungle Swarms as a redirecter in the river.  That would have possibly forced the Warriors into the river, which is where I really wanted them, in order to deny their rank bonus and give me the charge with at least 3 units simultaneously.  As it was, I positioned the Swarms thinking ahead to where they would supplement the inevitable melee and give my units Poison.

The Chaos Hounds assaulted the ziggurat ruins to attack the Slann.  Only to discover that the Slann was Ethereal and impervious to their mundane gnashing teeth.  Bwahahahahaaa!

The War Shrine figured it would try to get some work done before it was demolished, so it tried to give some Wounds to the Stegadon, which it pretty much shrugged off.  The real value of the War Shrine, though, was that it tar-pitted the Stegadon and the Kroxigors.

I was having success, however, with tarpits of my own on the right flank, keeping the chaff and the Chosen away from the main battle and potentially upsetting my plan.  The Skink Skirmishers actually did a good job whittling down the Chosen, before the little buggers were stamped out.

So this is where the plan went to hell.  I made the mistake of positioning my Chameleons behind the Warriors, in line with the direction of the Wind Blast, negating my own strategy!  With the Warriors within easy charge distance, they rushed across the river like it wasn't there.  That's the third time I've let that happen!  Needless to say, my Saurus unit wasn't ready for this melee to happen yet.

It was all pretty academic from that point...

I did have a ray of hope, however, that I could still overcome the Warriors deathstar with Poison and Flame.  It actually worked pretty well, but I missed forcing a Panic test by only one casualty!

I knew I would have to sacrifice my Skinkigor unit, but I would have one more round of shooting once it was gone.  Unfortunately, 2 Skinks in the Skinkigor unit survived!  Leaving the Warriors engaged in combat and immune from shooting. Bah!

In desperation, I sent in everything to attack it.  It was pretty much the only option remaining, my hope being to win on combat resolution from the charge, the flank, and the rear attacks.  In retrospect, that idea might have worked, if I had left the Chameleons out of the fight, since they offered easy casualties to the enemy unit.  The lizards and the Stegadon could resist Wounds, whereas Skinks fall like flies.

The Warriors beat everyone soundly, and the surviving lizards scattered to take protection in the jungle.  The Warriors chased down the Stegadon and cut down the noble beast to roast him over the firepit for the evening's dinner.

The Slann faded away into the Ethereal Plane, having learned valuable lessons against this new foe....

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Prussians decide to conquer the world again

Albeit, with much heavy sighs and shaking of heads....

I had an opportunity today to leaf through Dystopian Wars 2.0, and it appears Spartan addressed my primary concern -- the indecipherable "to hit" determinations.  Yay.  However, judging from my flip-through, it appears that what gains they made in streamlining the target numbers, they lost two-fold in complexity in other areas, particularly boarding rules.  

But at the end of the day, while the rules are far from elegant, they are no worse a brain-burner than Warhammer Fantasy or Malifaux, two games I do enjoy, despite their daunting learning curves.  The learning investment is worth the net enjoyment of the models, the scope/scale of the game, the aesthetic, the diversity, and the support/community.

I now have my copy of Dystopian Wars 2.0, and I can once again seek world domination.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New projects entering the queue

For Saga

My buddy, Steve, and I plan to play a big game of Saga to celebrate the 947th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.  Steve has laid out a map and a scenario, and we're getting pumped.  This is the motivation I need to start my first set of historical miniatures.  I'm going to proxy a band of Celtic warriors by Warlord Games, to use for the Normans (whoever ends up playing them in the game).

The plastic portion of the set is looking good.  Renedra manufactures the sprue, and Renedra has a good reputation, from what I've heard.  Looks like they get double duty out of the sprue, since it looks like it's basically a sprue for their Celtic infantry.  I'll have some new breeches-wearing legs to add to my bits box.  Might be good for some pirate conversions down the road.

The sprue offers a good variety of poses, heads, and weapons.

The horses are nice designs, but the casting leaves a little to be desired.  The metal gunk on the bottom of the base will require some industrial-strength files to remove all that material.  There are significant flash and mold lines (especially on the bottom-left two), and the rumps on the right-most horses show significant pitting.  The sword hilts have metal gunk on the inside, which will be pain to remove.  Looks like the molds are getting old for these horses.  Still, all-in-all, good models for the price, and I'm looking forward to putting them together.

For a friend

This next set of miniatures comes from out of left field.  One of my childhood friends, Mark, who introduced me to Basic Dungeons & Dragons, so very long ago, bought into the Kickstarter for the relaunched Metamorphosis Alpha, the 1970's D&D-like sci-fi dungeon crawl.  Mark has an odd assortment of old-skool-style miniatures that he's asked me to paint.  I rarely paint for other people, and this is one of those special occasions.  After all, if it wasn't for Mark, I would have discovered this hobby much later than 1978!

Mark has requested that I paint two males and two females.  I will definitely paint the lizardman dude, regardless.

The sculpts hearken to a bygone era.  The detail is rough by today's standards, but these would have been sharp models, back in the day.  It's going to be challenging to find a painting style that will complement the near-featureless faces.

This one by Prince August is pretty good.  She's a strong contender.

Progress for Malifaux

Over the weekend, I visited my parents, and I had a fun painting session, slapping on some base colors (finally!) for my Sabertooth Cerebus proxy and its cerebus pups.  My folks are a very  appreciative audience, and it's a pleasant way to spend some quality time with them.

Painted miniatures do perform better, even ones with only base-coats.  On Malifaux Monday, the Cerebus, with assistance from Cojo, was able to take out Izamu the Armor -- no small feat!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Jump Master Challenge

Dropzone Games of Glen Burnie, Maryland, hosted a Crystal Brush qualifier painting competition this past weekend, dubbed the Jump Master Challenge.  This is the second year of the challenge, which Dropzone hosts in celebration of their store birthday. 

Crystal Brush trophy winner, Robert Chandler, was the lead organizer of the event, with tremendous support from Cool Mini Or Not, Mantic Games, and Wyrd Miniatures.  A panel of three judges judged the entries:  Dave Manganaro, Joe Neet, and Dave Taylor.  All the judges sport accolades from Golden Demon, Crystal Brush, and other competitions.

Competition was pretty fierce this year, just like last year.  At stake, awarded for Best in Show, was free airfare to Adepticon 2015 to compete in the Crystal Brush.

Here are some of the entries that caught my attention:

It's great to "sea" some Deep Wars models, ha, ha!  The colors are fantastic, and I love the colors on the bases.  Gonna have to steal that theme, when I eventually paint mine.

This was a great modeling job to achieve such a dynamic and believable pose.

This one really shows the state-of-the-hobby/industry.  As in spoiled for choice.  Rackham, Wyrd, Mantic, GW, Privateer Press...   My Squig Hoppers are in the upper right.  They earned Silver for Fantasy / Steampunk Squad.

Loved this one!
I would love to see this Som'er Teeth Jones crew at our Malifaux Mondays.

Some big gribbly beasts.  Including Robert Chandler!  :-)
Very well done.  Gross -- but nicely executed.  :-)
An excellent historical piece -- Civil War Zouaves.
The pair on the black display base at the upper-left are mine.  They're separate entries, but I wanted to display them together as a themed pair.  The Amazon-looking one is a Tharn Bloodtracker by Privateer Press, but I use her as a proxy in Malifaux.  In the game, she shape-changes into the crazed, albino ape.
This is the fine work that beat my Squig Hoppers.  The painter, Kri, has been painting for only a year!

My Sapo bust was displayed next to the Best in Show winner.  Which is kinda cool, since I gather they were neck-and-neck for the top choice.  I might have won, if only Sapo had a neck!
No complaints here, though.  I had a good showing!

Congratulations to Best in Show Winner, Marc Raley!  Check out his blog.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Old goblins are new again

I came across a pleasant surprise on Tabletop Gaming News, which was a new release by a company which I was hearing about for the very first time -- Northumbrian Tin Soldier.  What was awesome about this news item was seeing new designs for goblins and similar folk, which may be inspired by the great Brian Froud, concept artist for Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, and who first captured my imagination as a kid with his book, Faeries, a collaboration with Alan Lee, one of the two concept artists for the Lord of the Rings movies (John Howe being the other).

Whether inspired by Brian Froud or not, I just had to have these characterful models.

But not only are the models charming (and single-cast! What a rare pleasure these days....), but the company owner is as well.  There was a snafu with the order, which he cleared up right away, and he threw in an extra magazine for the trouble.  And as you can see here, he took the extra trouble to individually wrap each magazine in tissue and seal it with a company sticker.  And inside the tissue, each magazine is in a thick plastic protector, with a backboard.  Much appreciated, especially for back issues of Scale Model Handbook!

So not only did the goblins journey me back to a yesteryear of the hobby, the customer service did, too! 

By the way, stay tuned.  I have a big backlog of hobby events to report on the blog.  Unfortunately, I may not have a chance to report on them in detail until next week.  But in short, I need to report on Warhammer gaming, Malifaux, and the Jumpmaster Challenge painting competition!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bring me my mead!

And, yes, I indeed had the pleasure of sampling my first taste of mead, courtesy of my friend, Steve, in celebration of our weekend game of Saga.  And it was good!  The mead, that is.  And Saga.  A fantastic afternoon all around.

Steve and I are still learning the rules for Saga, so we're playing smaller 4-point games, instead of the standard 6-point games.  We've been swapping factions back and forth between Anglo-Danes and Vikings.

Steve did a bang-up job, painting these Dark Age warriors by Gripping Beast miniatures.

It's such a pleasure to play a tactically satisfying miniatures game with superbly painted models.  This is what I imagined the hobby would be like when I started 8 years ago.  I've finally arrived!

We wanted to add shooting to the mix, so I brought some stand-in models to help expand the forces.  I brought my Haradrim archers from the Lord of the Rings Strategy Game.  Not a perfect fit against Steve's Dark Age warriors, but close enough until we can expand our Dark Age forces.

Steve and I are both very impressed with the Saga rules design.  The rules are compact, understandable, and elegant.  They strip away complexity and yet succeed in providing a fair representation of the period and styles of combat.  It certainly leans more towards game than realism, but it delivers a satisfying blend of realism and cinema, which definitely hits the sweet spot that we're seeking from a pseudo-historical miniatures game.

The game is very well paced, too, allowing us to fit in 2 or 3 games in one afternoon, with enough time to take breaks and enjoy a frosty beverage outside.

Here we are lined up for our second game, after Steve's Vikings clobbered my Anglo-Danes in the first game, where I insisted on using my Levy bowmen, despite the counterproductive price in activation cost.

I just had to see how they performed, and they were very convincing in their cost-to-performance ratio.  They are indeed a support option, best for area denial and running interference.  You can't count on them to win a shooting battle.

I applied them more practically in the second game, returning priority to my warriors and hearthguard.  Steve exposed a flank to one of my hearthguard units, which managed to collapse the Viking flank.

The Vikings almost overturned the combat when their chieftain shockingly survived an onslaught of Danish axes and made a desperate attempt to slay the Anglo-Danish warlord.  But the loyal Danish warriors sacrificed their all for their mighty hero, allowing the head Dane to settle the score once and for all with the Viking upstart.  At least until next game!