Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Army Update: Dwarfs

So, one of the first posts I made here, about a year and a half ago, was about getting my Dwarfs ready for a small tournament. Since then, I've done a lot of terrain posts, a few battle reports, had about three posts with no content at all, and used Valten in more photos than he's really worth. So I figured I'd revisit the Dwarfs, since the launch of 8th edition spurred on quite a bit of painting.

The first time the Dwarfs appeared on the site, they looked like this:
Now, that was hardly all I owned at the time (I had a couple thousand points back then, too!), but that was about all that I had done, apart from a Grudge Thrower and a couple of heroes. Here's what the force looks like now:
It's a little harder to get the whole thing in a decent picture now... Time to pull out a few highlights, I think.

The core of any Dwarf army build of mine is the war machines. Depending on the role they're called upon to perform, there's nearly always a combination of weapons and runes to get the job done in an impressively explosive manner.
The War Machines
The Grudge Thrower dates back to the Hobbytown days, before I even had a Dwarf army, and the Cannon from my first post on the Dwarfs is joined by another. Relatively new to the party are the Organ Gun, and the Bolt Thrower. There's some interesting stuff going on with the paint schemes, since there's about a five year window between when the Grudge Thrower was painted, and finishing the Bolt Thrower. The Grudge Thrower is very bright and shiny, going way back to my older painting, though the crew has some detail from my first flirtations with strong use of inks. The Cannons and Bolt Thrower are much more modern in terms of my paint style, with heavy use of washes and a more utilitarian look. The Organ Gun occupies a funny middle ground- while it's painted using the same techniques as the other newer guns, it's painted with the bright, bluish silver tones that I used on my Ironbreakers. More on them later.

Core Units
With the change in the army construction rules in 8th Edition, there is more of a focus on Core units than ever. (Gee, maybe that's why they call them that? I should ask about that...) Points-based requirements mean that a lot of my army lists are fielding more Core than I'm used to, and that means that I had to expand my basic unit selection. Not a lot, mind you, as Dwarfs are still pretty pricey models. The half-finished Warriors from the first post are still the first choice, though now they look a bit better.
Backing them up are two units of Thunderers. Shooting unit choice in the Dwarf book is interesting- everything is Move or Fire, and the Quarrelers trade off a +1 to hit for 6" of extra range. I have never managed to get them to work for me, but they may get a second look now that the rules allow for shooters to fire in two ranks. In the meantime, the Thunderers have quite a few kills to their tally.
The final Core unit is the Longbeards. Modelled with Great Weapons and shields slung over their backs, they are one of the most expensive units in the army, but they repay it in versatility, striking power, and support for nearby units through the Old Grumblers rule. Built before the lovely metal Longbeards were rereleased, they're built from the Warrior kit, with metal facemasks and quite a bit more gold detailing to differentiate them (not to mention their much paler beards).
Special Choices
The Special units are really where the Dwarf army book comes into its own. Containing most of the war machines (with the exception of the Gyrocopter, Organ Gun, and Flame Cannon), it also has several of the most deadly (and coolest looking) Dwarf infantry units. In Ye Olde Days of 7th Edition, it was a careful balancing act to get all the different army roles filled, as there are several very different units in the Special section. Now that army construction is percentage based, with up to half of the total army points spent on Special units, there is much more room to expand and use a variety of different units in concert.
The Ironbreakers are probably my favorite Dwarf unit. While not always the highest performing on the table, the concept of Gromril-armored dwarfs that specialize in clearing infested tunnels is a pretty cool one. Here's hoping that in the next army book, the Dwarfs get something similar to the Vault Wardens from Lord of the Rings. The Ironbreakers were originally going to be painted in P3 Platinum in order to get a very different finish to their Gromril armor. After painting my Grey Knights, however, I ended up changing my mind, and going for the blued, polished steel look. It sets them apart from the rest of the force, without going too far off the mark.
Hammerers just might be the best unit in the Dwarf book. Damn near uncrackable when a Lord is joined to the unit, and brutally powerful in close combat, they know how to get the job done. Funnily enough, though, they're the most recent addition to my army. As older metal models, a full unit is damned expensive. Big ups to the Joes for a superlative birthday gift. They're painted in the same way as the Longbeards- similar colors to the Warriors, with extra gold trim, and a unique beard color for the Champion. I would like to go back and dress up the standard at some point, though- compared to the newer ancestor pole bitz in the plastic kits, it just looks a little dull.
You've already seen these guys, there's not a lot to say other than that no matter how many times they get shot full of arrows crossing the battlefield, they keep finding their way into my army lists. It's hard to say no to that kind of daft enthusiasm.
The Heroes
And finally, the leaders, the shouting gits that get the Dwarfs to run willy-nilly at much taller and angrier opponents (Except the Slayers, there's nobody as angry as they are). The bloke with the white beard and the grouchy look on his face is actually the model that made me want to start the army- released at the same time as the army book in the waning days of 6th Edition, I was unpacking an order at Hobbytown, pulled him out, and thought "Well @*&#, now I'm going to have to start a Dwarf army." There are very, very few models I've ever seen that get across the character of a race as effectively as he does. Joining him are the Lord on Oathstone, a model which I like quite a bit, but haven't been able to quite talk myself into using as my general, the Battle Standard Bearer, the Runesmith, the Skull Pass Dragon Slayer (who also occasionally does time as a Giant Slayer in the Slayer Regiment), and an Engineer. Previously, the Master Engineer was a foolish waste of a character slot, so he was just occasionally a regular Engineer serving with the Bolt Thrower crew. With the low cost of Dwarf Lords and the new rules, I've been tinkering more and more with running my Runesmith as a Runelord instead, and using the freed up points in the Heroes allotment for the Master Engineer. Now that heroes cannot join war machine units, his rules have changed, allowing him to hover in a cluster of war machines, choosing from turn to turn which of the machines he's going to aid. It's always fun to see a model get new use like that.

I really need to spend an afternoon getting static grass on all the new units, I keep putting that off. Next up in the queue is the Anvil of Doom, and I'd like to add another rank or two to the Ironbreakers. A Gyrocopter might be a good idea too, the flying machine and the Flame Cannon are the only Dwarf units I've never actually tried out. With the way the Dwarfs have been doing in 8th Edition so far, I'm seriously considering a unit or two of Warriors with Great Weapons, or using the special rules from the Lord to allow for a second unit of Longbeards. Somehow, no matter how many points get finished up, there always seems to be just a little more to add...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Battle Report- Ultramarines Vs. Tyranids

Played a game tonight against the ZombieArchivist as part of a Planetary Empires campaign that's been going in fits and starts. It's supposedly also a bit of an Escalation event, so tonight's game was at 1000 points. Just enough points to fit in a few nasty things, but not enough to take everything.

We played the Seize Ground mission, with 4 objectives, with Pitched Battle deployment. Nice and easy, especially when compared to my 5-6 game streak of only playing Dawn of War deployment. My force consisted of a Captain with bolter and power sword (my cheap replacement for Sicarius in small games), Tactical Squads I and II with plasma guns and missile launchers, Tactical Squad III with a flamer and a missile launcher, 5 Scouts with a power fist for the Sergeant and a heavy bolter, a Dreadnought with an Assault Cannon, and a Vindicator with Siege Shield. Lots of bodies, but with the tank and the Dreadnought to handle any big angry bugs.
The Tyranid force was not quite what I was expecting. I'd been seeing lots of Genestealers out of him lately, and this list was basically the opposite of that. A Tyranid Prime with Rending Claws and Adrenal Glands, 2 Venomthropes, a unit of 30 Hormagaunts with Adrenal Glands and Toxin Sacs, 30 Termagants, a Tervigon with Catalyst, and a Mawloc. Way more bugs than I'd planned to be seeing across the board.
My deployment was pretty straightforward- I split all 3 Tactical squads into combat squads, while the Scouts got into position on the objective in the near crater with their Scout move. The back halves of Squads II and III (IIB and IIIB) parked on the hill with their missile launchers, while IB got ready to set up shop on the wrecked Rhino with the objective. IIA and IIIA were escorts for the Vindicator, and getting ready to take the far crater objective, while IA ran with the Dreadnought to leapfrog the Scouts and take the objective in the forest on the Tyranid side. At least, that was the theory- we all know what happens to plans at contact.
The Tyranids set up in a couple of huge groups- the Hormagaunts in the forest on my right flank, the Termagants and Tyranid Prime on the hill on the left, with the Tervigon and the Venomthropes in between.
Taking the first turn meant that things were easy for me to start with- everyone moved up as planned, and my shooting phase was tremendous. With Squads IIB, IIIB, the Scouts, and the Dreadnought shooting at the Hormagaunts, I was able to thin their numbers very quickly, and an incredible stroke of luck with the Vindicator obliterated BOTH Venomthropes. All of the A squads ran, moving into position for the next turn.
Turn One for the bugs was not nearly as positive. Awful Difficult Terrain checks left the Hormagaunts swinging in the breeze right in front of the Scouts, and the Tervigon rolled 1-1-2 for his spawning, creating a unit of 4 Termagants and running out of eggs for the game.
In the second turn, the A squads continued to move up, while pouring fire into the Tyranids. The Scouts, IA, IIA, and the Dreadnought continued to lay waste to the Hormagaunts, while all of Squad III and the Vindicator dropped fully half of the Termagants.
In the bottom of the second, the Mawloc showed up, right in the midst of Squad IIIB, easily chowing down on four of their number, the missle-armed trooper just staring up at the massive beast in shock. The Hormagaunts finally remembered that they were hungry, assaulting the Scouts and Squad IA. The Scouts weathered a terrific number of attacks, managing to lose only one of their number, along with one Tactical Marine. Only managing to kill three of the Tyranids, that fight continued. On my left flank, Squad IIIA managed to account for 5 Termagants to no losses of their own, with the additional armor saves from Fearless accounting for 4 more dead Termagants.
In the 3rd turn, Squad IIA, accompanied by the Captain, moved up to support the Marines fighting the few remaining Termagants and their extremely angry Tyranid Prime, while the Dreadnought turned back towards where he started in an attempt to go deal with the Mawloc. His shooting was inadequate, but the two missile launchers on the hill were able to account for a wound on the huge monstrosity. The Dreadnought was slightly better in the assault, wounding the Mawloc twice while being immobilized itself, as the Mawloc failed its attempt at Hit and Run. The Captain and the Tyranid Prime squared off, with the Tyranid scoring one unanswered wound on the Marine hero. The Scouts and Squad IA continued their stalemate with the Hormagaunts, with the other Tactical Marine forward elements accounting for five Termagants, the rest of them falling to extra wounds from fearless, leaving the Tyranid Prime in combat with a full ten marines and the Captain.
The third turn for the Tyranids was almost entirely done in the Assault Phase. The Tervigon jumped into the fray to defend the Tyranid Prime, while the Hormagaunts were cut down by the Scouts, leaving the two remaining Scouts to consolidate their hold on the flag in the crater, with the Sergeant and Plasma gunner from Squad I making a break for the lightly defended forest objective. The immobile Dreadnought managed to inflict an unanswered wound on the Mawloc, while the fight between the Tyranid Prime and the Space Marine Captain continued to be a tied contest.
Turn 4 was a big shuffle for the Ultramarines, with squad IB moving from the wrecked Rhino forward towards the unoccupied crater objective, while IIB and the lone survivor of IIIB moved to take up their positions in the wreckage. The remaining Scouts, IA Tactical Marines, and the Vindicator collectively only accounted for 3 of the 4 Termagants guarding the forest objective. The Dreadnought managed to inflict a fifth wound on the Mawloc, though it got exploded for it's troubles, while the Captain continued his streak of bad luck, still failing to injure the Tyranid Prime, while it cut down two Tactical Marines. Their resolve held fast, however, keeping the fight going for another round.
With it's mechanical opponent now scrapped, the Mawloc took the opportunity to dig deep into the desert sands, avoiding any hostile gunfire. With a lucky Fleshborer shot, the lone Termagant in the woods managed to bring down the plasma gunner from Squad IA, leaving a lone Sergeant to face off against the vile Xenos. The Captain finally managed to wound the Tyranid Prime, but not without cost, with three more marines killed, while a fourth fell to extra wounds from combat resolution.

Returning from the ground, the Mawloc, eager for vengeance against the Vindicator, attempted to bore straight through the armored behemoth, but miscalculated, missing completely, a move that would take it almost completely out of the fight. The Vindicator, unfazed, brought it's Storm Bolter to bear on the lone Termagant, robbing the Sergeant of a chance to best it in single combat. The Tervigon crushed the last member of Squad IIA, but the Sergeant from Squad III and the Captain held fast, with all four objectives now solidly in the hands of the Ultramarines.
With the random game length forcing the Ultramarines to hold on, they had little to do besides hope that their Captain could hold the Tervigon and the Tyranid Prime in combat. The Vindicator easily obliterated the already wounded Mawloc, but the Captain again failed to wound the thick-shelled Tyranid Prime. The Tervigon had no such problem, eviscerating the Sergeant from Squad III, and feasting on his remains.
With only two models on the table, the Tyranid turn progressed quickly. Now undistracted, the Tervigon easily devoured the Captain, with Consolidation moves allowing the Tyranid Prime and the Tervigon to contest the objectives held by Squad IB and the Scouts, respectively.
Another unlucky turn roll led into turn 7, with nearly every Ultramarines model on the board firing on the Tyranid Prime in hopes of dealing a deathblow. The Heavy Bolter from the Scouts managed to deal a wound, but it was not enough to bring it down. With the Tyranids getting the last chance at assaulting, the Tervigon handily beat the Scouts, with only a single wound from the Sergeant's Power Fist on his way down the Tervigon's gullet. The Tyranid Prime managed to kill two of the five Marines holding the far crater, but the rest held fast as the game drew to a close.
With the Forest and the Rhino firmly in their grasp, and the Tervigon in the near crater, the Ultramarines held the field, two objectives to one for the Tyranids.

I think this game was a pretty good example of going in with a well thought-out plan, while remaining adaptable. I had hoped to get my Captain and Squad IIA onto the far crater, but with the Captain's power sword the only real shot at cutting into the Tervigon (with the exception of the Scout Sergeant's Power Fist, and he already had a job to do), I had to play leapfrog with my units on the left flank. The Mawloc was extremely disruptive- during turn 5, I spent my whole movement phase trying to spread out the squads holding objectives in hopes that the Mawloc's return wouldn't blast me off of an objective- really the only thing that kept it from being devastating was Joe's intense hatred for the Vindicator, even going so far as to admit that it wasn't the smart tactical play. There were a couple of rules errors that should have been obvious to me at the time- we misplayed And They Shall Know No Fear for a couple of turns, defaulting the Marines to Fearless when they failed a morale check, rather than after being caught by a Sweeping Advance. That cost me a couple of Marines and probably a few attacks from charging back into the fight, and there's really no excuse for it- I've been playing Space Marines for more than a decade, and ATSKNF has not really changed all that much. I also was panicking over the Tyranid Prime during Turn 7, forgetting that because it wasn't a Troops Choice, it had no chance at taking the objective away from Squad IB, just contesting it. Really, Turn 7, especially the Tyranid half, was a formality- there was no way for the two remaining bugs to contest or destroy enough Marines to keep the victory away from me. My own mental failings aside, however, it was a well-fought game by Joe, especially considering his poor luck early on with the Tervigon, and a pleasure as always. Certainly a worthy game for his debut in the Steamwerks.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finishing an old terrain project

So I've had the CNC Workshop church sitting around on my terrain shelf for like three years now. I bought it, built it, sprayed most of it with GW Roughcoat, and then couldn't decide how to roof the damn thing. After taking a whole pile of pictures with it for yesterday's battle report, I figured it was about time to finish it up. I had tinkered with thatching the roof, but I didn't think that'd make a whole lot of sense in the desert, plus I already had a bunch of wood slats handy. Here's how it started out:
Unfinished Project
Slat roofing is pretty much as easy as it gets, and I got lucky- the roof on the entryway was just the right size to fit nice and even without any overhanging sticks. This was pretty much the only part that fit that neatly.
Foyer Roof Complete
The tricky part about the roof was fitting around the belltower. With shingled roofing, like on my Flying Tricycle buildings, you have some room to fudge any minor fit issues, since they overlap. With the slats, everything has to fit at least close to flush or it'll look funny. I initially started laying slats from the top of the roof down, but as I hit the bottom of the belltower, I realized I was going to run into trouble, with the roofline under the tower being about half a slat out of the pattern. I ended up redoing it with a slat under the belltower edge, then working my way up and down from there, leaving a small gap at the top that would be capped off later. Throughout the process, I tried to keep the spacing fairly irregular, using slats cut to different lengths to keep it visually interesting.
Main Roof Complete
Checking ahead this time, I found that the tower roof was just a hair longer than an even set of slats, but since I planned ahead, I was able to use a bit of extra spacing across the whole section to eat the extra space.
Starting with slats flush to the top and bottom of the roof, I started laying in pieces to fill in the middle, adding a tiny bit of extra space between slats in order to take up the quarter-slat of extra space.
Getting the Spacing Right 2
With the guides in place, it was a simple matter of filling in the gaps to finish it off.
Finished Belltower Roof
With the roof laid down, all that was left was to cap off the roof with one horizontal slat, to cover the peak of the roof, and deal with a few warped slats.
Warping Shingles
A few drops of glue and some patience (while watching a little TV on Hulu) got them sorted out. I like a bit of irregularity in the roof, but obviously the lifted edges in the photo are a little much.
With the roof done, there were still a couple of details to attend to. The kit is designed with a big crucifix on the back of the belltower. Given that it gets used mostly for Warmachine and Warhammer Fantasy, two settings where Catholicism doesn't have a whole lot of sway, something had to be done about it.
Original Belltower View
A quick trip to Michaels netted me a half-dozen wooden discs about 1.5" across, for the princely sum of $1.30. Craft stores are awesome, and these feel like the kind of things that may come in handy later.
Belltower Fixed
Belltower Fixed, 3/4 view
The other issue that remains is the windows. CNC Workshop likes cutting out windows. On their village buildings, that's not so bad, as they have interiors, but for my church, they either just look dark, or show off the tan table underneath the building. Once I get some paint on this thing, I'm planning on gluing paper inside the building, colored to look like stained glass. The last part I leave as a question to the gentle readers- What denomination is this church? Certainly not Sigmarite, as there is a beautiful GW piece for if I decide I need a church in the Empire. Menite? Bretonnian? Generic "Church of Happiness" a la Pelor in D&D? Let me know your thoughts!

Warmachine comeback!

So, after a post-GenCon hiatus, the Usual Suspects have been clamoring for a bit of Warmachine. After feeling a bit burned out on the game, I'm trying to try something a little different from my old Severius and 2 Revengers assassination list. The game ran a little late, so there were a few tactical mistakes, but for the most part, it was back to what I originally enjoyed about Warmachine- tight tactical play and tense fights.

Protectorate Vs. Cygnar (Martha), 35 points, 'Caster Kill

Protectorate Force: High Exemplar Kreoss, Heirophant, Revenger, Crusader, Vanquisher, 6 Knights Exemplar, 5 Exemplar Bastions, 4 Choir, Knight Exemplar Seneschal.
Protectorate Army
Cygnar Force: Commander Coleman Stryker, Squire, Lancer, Thunderhead, Gunmage Captain Adept, Journeyman Warcaster, 3 Stormsmith Stormcallers, 6 Sword Knights, 10 Storm Guard
Cygnar Army
The table was set up "competitively", but we ended up fairly symmetrical, with a bit of a road running down the center. This was where most of the bloodshed was going to take place, with a bit more right around the church.
Table Setup
Turn 1 was pretty uneventful for both sides. I went first, with most of my army advancing and Kreoss setting up a couple of upkeeps- Lamentation on himself, and Defenders Ward on the Knights Exemplar, preparing them for a flank run towards the Sword Knights. Martha's force did much the same thing- Stryker set up Arcane Shield on the Stormguard and Blur on the Lancer, to buy it a turn safe from the Vanquisher shelling it, while the Journeyman Warcaster gave the Sword Knights his own Arcane Shield.
Menite Turn 1
Cygnar Turn 1
Turn 2 started a little bit of violence. The Choir set up the Vanquisher for a fire mission with a little Hymn of Battle, his Flame Belcher killing off 3 of the Storm Guard. The Crusader and Bastions advanced, preparing to meet the remaining Storm Guard head-on, while the Knights, Seneschal, and Revenger continued to position themselves.
Menite Turn 2
The Cygnarans had a bit more going on. The Stormsmiths set up a nice chain of electrocutions on the Knights Exemplar, but only actually managed to kill one of them for their trouble. Stryker attempted to Earthquake the Bastions, but failed (forgetting the ability of the Squire to re-roll a casting roll once per turn). The Storm Guard charged into the still-standing Bastions, killing 3 of the 5, thanks to Sanguine Bond allowing the ones next in line to be hit to be killed instead, minimizing the impact of the Storm Guard. The Gun Mage Captain Adept took a potshot at the Vanquisher, but only hit it for two points, only managing to make it angry.
Cygnar 2- Main Fight Aftermath
Cygnar 2- Stormsmiths
Going into Turn 3, the Menites were getting ready to bring some pain. The Vanquisher obliterated the Gun Mage Captain Adept with a well placed Flame Belcher shot, smearing his remains all over the underbrush in the copse of trees he was attempting to hide in, while the Crusader smashed a pair of Storm Guard into the sand with his Inferno Mace. He probably only really needed one focus, if any. The Bastions failed to hit anything, probably too busy laughing at the two warjacks massively over-killing their targets. The Seneschal dropped one more Storm Guard, while the Exemplars split their charges amongst the Stormsmiths, completely (and hilariously) destroying them. Old men are not well-equipped to tangle with the finest soldiers in the Protectorate.
Menite 3
Cygnar's response was fairly quick in coming. The Sword Knights managed to kil two of the Knights Exemplar, while Stryker cast Snipe on the Thunderhead, allowing it to zap the Crusader for five points of damage.
Cygnar 3- Main Fight
Turn 4 was the clear turning point of the game. Dropping all of his upkeep spells and only allocating one point to the Vanquisher, keeping the rest for himself, Kreoss activated his feat, knocking down all of the Cygnarans but Stryker, his Squire, and the Journeyman Warcaster. A blast of Cleansing Fire killed a pair of Storm Guard, while Purification stripped the Sword Knights of their Arcane Shield and the Thunderhead of Snipe. The Bastions and Crusader handily saw off the helpless Storm Guard, as the Knight Exemplar Seneschal took a run (and a Smite) at the Thunderhead, but not hitting him hard enough to knock him into Commander Stryker. The Knights Exemplar tried striking back at the Sword Knights, but even knocked down they were only able to kill two of them.
Menite 4
Reeling from Kreoss's feat turn, the Cygnarans spent this round mostly in damage control mode. The Thunderhead and Lancer each spent focus to shake off their knockdowns, with the Thunderhead managing to zap Kreoss with a 6-point bolt of lightning. Stryker himself managed to hit the Crusader with Arcane Bolt, splash damage hitting the Bastions. The Journeyman Warcaster re-cast Arcane Shield onto the Sword Knights, who then failed to damage the enraged Knights Exemplar.
Cygnar 4
The fifth turn was the Protectorate's best shot at bringing down Stryker. With an open charge lane due to the Thunderhead ignoring him, he bore down on Commander Stryker, managing to pummel him for 15 points of damage, not quite enough to bring him down, even with the slam taking him straight into the Squire. The Revenger moved to screen Kreoss from the Thunderhead, allowing the High Exemplar to channel a couple of Immolates into it, not doing much damage, but managing to light it on fire. The Bastions charged the Thunderhead, doing a bit of damage, while the Vanquisher took a shot at the Lancer, blowing its shield arm off. The Crusader advanced towards Stryker, while the Knights Exemplar only killed a single Sword Knight.
Menite 5- Stryker vs. KES
Another damage control turn for Cygnar, the Thunderhead lucked out on his Fire roll in turn 5, the flames going out without doing any damage. The Sword Knights finally got the best of the Knights Exemplar, but they were still far from the rest of the fight. The Thunderhead managed to catch both the Bastions and the Revenger with an Energy Pulse, for a single point of damage to each, but then crushed one Bastion with a Shock Fist attack. Stryker cut the Seneschal in half for daring to hit him, but again forgot to activate his feat.

Round 6 was really the end. The Crusader beat the Lancer into scrap, while the Vanquisher, aiming for Stryker and missing because of his wooded cover, blew up the Squire. The remaining Bastion managed to destroy the Thunderhead's right arm. Even with it in combat, Kreoss managed to light the Thunderhead on fire again before the Revenger moved to engage it, keeping it from making a run at Kreoss at the buzzer. With the Thunderhead burning up during her Maintenance Phase, Martha surrendered at the start of turn 6.
Menite 6

There were a couple of key mistakes this game (Does everyone forget Stryker's feat?), but overall it was pretty damned close until Kreoss's feat turn cracked the midfield open. The Storm Guard were fairly brutal, though not nearly as dangerous against the tough Bastions as I'm used to them being against softer infantry. The Bastions' ability to move damage around in the squad is much more interesting than I'd thought at first glance- it's not just about keeping more of the squad alive longer, it can very effectively prevent the enemy from having targets to hit in the first place, especially heavy hitters like the Storm Guard. This game did do what I needed it to- remind me that Warmachine is actually a game worth playing occasionally, rather than just a few hundred dollars worth of models sitting in a dusty case. I also just picked up the new Privateer token set, which may merit a review of it's own.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

GenCon 2010- Day 4

Day 4 was pretty much just a pack up and go sort of day, with a little bit of final purchasing before getting back in the car for a ride home.

There was one relevant detail, though. I had missed it initially, but one of the guys from the Clan Grand Melee messaged me on Twitter, looking to meet me. Turns out, one of the line developers that wasn't at GenCon saw my angry tweet about the event, and wanted to try to make amends. He sent along a painted 'Mech as a peace offering, and Joseph, the bloke from the game, passed it along. It was much appreciated, and the chance to talk about the game after I'd cooled down a bit was almost as good. CGL seems to like to structure these things like the fiction says they should be, which I can respect, much as single-elimination stings. Apparently there is talk about upping the Battle Value next year to allow Medium 'mechs if there's going to be water on the board. I suggested having a second table already set up and sending downed mechs over there to continue playing, even if they're not eligible for the win, just to keep people from feeling like their time is wasted, and apparently someone in the Powers That Be dug that idea, so maybe it'll be in effect next year. Like I said, I can dig that they want the Grand Melee to be the way it is described in the events, but in tourneys for other systems, even if you know you're irrelevant after losing game 1, it's still fun to get to play the next few rounds.

GenCon 2010- Day 3

Day 3 was largely recovery from Day 2, with a hell of a lot of Malifaux thrown in for flavor. Slept in until about 2, which would be much more luxurious if I hadn't gone to bed at 7:30AM, and headed over to the convention center for a 4PM Malifaux tournament. Now, I must admit, that with some of the other big releases lately (WHFB8 in particular), I was NOT prepared for this tourney. I hadn't gotten a chance to play lately, and I had just skimmed the new book. The local "scene" (which pretty much consists of 4 of us playing occasionally), which I was dominating pretty handily, is missing a couple of the armies that can really give the Ortegas fits, apparently. Round 1 was against the new Ophelia Special Force, which is a Goblin army with a group of goblins dressed like the Ortegas. It's about as silly as it sounds, but damn if they aren't effective. There's a couple of bizarre things going on there (like an ability that can deal damage through solid brick walls with no save or attack roll), but the hardest for me to deal with was the sheer number of models. Malifaux does not have a system for balancing unequal numbers of activations like Battletech does, so being outnumbered three to one just means that you have to show your hand earlier. I got smoked pretty badly.

Round 2 was against a Leveticus warband. He is a seriously weird dude. His entire warband is designed around him actually dying over and over again, and getting put back on the table at the end of each turn. Unfortunately for my opponent, he drew the Slaughter objective, which requires you to kill more Soulstones worth of models than your opponent, and a Master kill is worth 10ss. One of my Schemes was "Family Justice", which requires me to kill 3 models with Perdita's Execute ability. I managed to achieve it on Leveticus alone, which along with a kill from Nino Ortega put him 40 points behind. Apparently because of our game, the design team is going to look at the rules for Leveticus in that context. Hilarious game, but due to secondary objectives, I lost it 2vp to 1.

Round 3 was against a Ramos warband. Playing against Leveticus showed off a lot of the model replacement shenanigans in the Malifaux rules- Ramos is built entirely around them. Combining Steampunk Arachnids into swarms, creating new ones entirely, summoning electrical constructs, the whole game was about weird mechanical things showing up and slowly crunching away at my army. When time was called, the game was pretty much a draw, but he had me dead to rights- lucky for me it was a slow bleed.

The terrain for the tournament was the prototypes of the new TerraClips terrain. It was, in a word, horrendous. Badly warping, with clips that were difficult to play over and were not holding buildings in place. Given Wyrd's attention to quality and the usual level of polish on WorldWorks's stuff, I was appalled. Rumors were rumbling around the tables of it being cancelled, of the designers being angry, etc. There's a posting up on the Wyrd site here: Apparently they are delaying them until they get fixed. Hopefully they'll get it sorted out, since it's also the first time for WorldWorks selling a physical product. The art is pretty decent, but given the quality of the newer stuff in WorldWorks's fantasy line, I'll probably skip TerraClips- for what they're asking, a flat baseboard with a sewer printed on it is pretty weak.

I was impressed with the running of the event. Things proceeded pretty quickly, players were friendly, and Malifaux continues to surprise me with how crazy they can make the rules and still have them interact in convincing ways. I think I'll definitely be looking into the events next year.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

GenCon 2010- Day 2

Friday was a LOOOOOONG one. There had been an Arcane Legions event that I'd wanted to go to, but it was supposedly sold out (found out 20 minutes after it started that it had in fact opened up, but too late), so we spent a lot of the afternoon wandering again. I spent a couple hours in the WoW TCG room- they are doing a weekend-long league that lets you play against anyone else in the league and get swag for playing. I played a bit against other starter-only players, had a pretty good time. I also ended up picking up a Dragon Dice starter and fooling around with that for a bit. Martha and I did a demo for WarGods of Aegyptus, which we were both very impressed with. With Greek armies on the horizon, I might be getting on that bus. It helps that they also have a beautiful Yeti army that Martha is eying. We wound up wandering around town for a little while, killing time getting ready for the big event of the day- the all-night Warmachine tournament.

Tournament-level Warmachine is an interesting animal. It's fast, insanely brutal, and played by a very particular class of gamer. The more I see of it, the less I want to play it. The setup for the tourney was pretty disorganized- we got there 15 minutes early and tried to get registered, and they told us to wait, which led to waiting in line and rushing through paperwork, annoyances that could've been saved if they'd just given us the signup form. There are apparently several different versions of the Killbox scenario floating around- I lost my first game because at this event, premeasuring the size of the Killbox wasn't allowed, and they started tracking it at turn 2 instead of turn 3. What really burns me is that the guy that got the free win off of me ended up winning best overall. There was a huge majority of Hordes players, and I think it really made a difference. Mk. II definitely improved on some of the inequities between Hordes and Warmachine, but I'm sure I was not the only player whose feat was utterly useless for several rounds (my matchups were Trollbloods, Rhulic Mercs, Trollbloods, and Trollbloods). Players bailing out because of the lateness of the hour led to me drawing a bye in the third round, but with the exception of the exceedingly pleasant gent that was playing Dwarves, the tournament was definitely not worth getting back to my hotel room at 7AM.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

GenCon 2010- Day 1

So, since last year, liveblogging from the show floor didn't go so well, I'm taking a moment to collect my thoughts in my hotel room (plus, this keyboard is much nicer than my phone). Today was mostly wandering the vendor hall, plus a Battletech event that I was quite looking forward to (more on that later).

I haven't gotten to sit down and check out demos just yet, today was more scoping things out, and picking up the "got to have it" items. The new Malifaux book is quite lovely (Martha is reading it at the moment, so I haven't gotten all the details yet), and the Battletech Hexpack: Lakes and Rivers is a giant leap forwards from the crummy paper mapsheets included in the current starter box. There was a show special on starters for the WoW CCG, so I picked one up on a whim and played a game- it's a decent "post-Magic" game, not the sort of thing that I'm going to rush out and buy a case of, but it's kind of a fun thing to have kicking around for a lull in the show.

So about that Battletech event. Total bullshit. Apparently the full rules didn't get posted until a week ago on the Catalyst Games forums, which I had checked a few weeks ago. There was very little info on the GenCon registration site, beyond "bring a Clan Omnimech". No weight limits, BV totals, etc. So I happily went to work on my Summoner, ordered some decals, tinkered with different variants, until I was pretty sure I was set to go today. I even emailed the contact address listed on the GenCon website to make sure I had all the details. When I arrived, they had trouble even pointing me to the right place for my event (which was not the table with the sign for the event on it). Once I got there, I discovered that it was really just a qualifier for the actual Bloodname Trial that's going on tomorrow (and I couldn't find tickets for earlier, oddly). Everyone had to pick from a list of five light mechs, none of which I was even remotely familiar with. I know there is a segment of the BT-playing populace that really likes lights, but while it's fun to run around the battlefield 9 hexes at a time, I can't think of a single other thing that recommends them. With armor made of tissue paper, they become incredibly luck-driven. So anyway, after a 30-minute delay, since half the table didn't know the rules that had been added, so everyone had to pick mechs, we get started. Turn one, I advance (walking, not running...) into a river. My mech immediately trips, takes one point of damage, and the right torso floods with water, rendering everything in that section and the right arm inoperable. Turn 2, I manage to stand up, catch a flight of missiles in the chest, and a lucky center-torso crit causes another engine hit, and I'm out. Elapsed time: 45 minutes, 30 of which were waiting to pick a mech and get started. The program specified 8 HOURS, which meant that the whole experience cost me $16. Easily the worst experience I have ever had at a convention. I will very likely not be bothering with BT at GenCon again, unless CGL seriously gets their shit together.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Army Building and 8th Edition WHFB

I have held the book in my hands. It is very big, and full color, and overall, pretty nifty.

With that out of the way, a look at the new (Old?) army composition in WHFB8. It's been a source of a lot of rumors, a lot of "OMG the sky is falling", and rather a bit of wringing of hands. I didn't get a long look at the book today, but I wanted to at least see precisely what the rules are on composition, so I can start to prepare my army for the new book.

It's pretty simple. >25% for Core, <25% each for Lords, Heroes, and Rares, <50% for Specials, and no more than 2 duplicate Rare units and 3 duplicate Special units.

For someone who cut their square-base teeth on WHFB5, this isn't terribly strange, but if you've only played 6th Edition and later, it's going to take a little bit of getting used to. So what's it mean for the game?

-Points are important, not unit counts. I think this may be one of the biggest (and best) changes for high-cost, elite Core units. No more cheapo filler units to take up the third core slot, if you have a couple of big smashy ranked units that add up to 500pts (in a 2k game), you're all set.

-The sky is not falling for heroes. This is important to note, especially as compared to many of the rumors. Lords get their own points allotment, with plenty of room to stretch their legs. Monstrous mounts are going to get relegated to the larger games, but it also means that Lords are available in ALL GAMES. Now stop, read that again, and make sure that you're not drinking anything while you do it. 1000 point game? You can have a 250 point Lord running your army. Granted, 250 points isn't going to get you a Chaos Lord with all the trimmings, but it does mean that in smaller games, armies with less smashy Lord choices will have a good shot at going toe to toe with some of the more punishing Hero choices, like in the Warriors of Chaos book.

-Unit spam is not completely gone. There was a lot of scuttlebutt going around about stiff penalties for running multiples of the same unit. It's just not true. The book clearly specifies that "2 for 1" choices still count as a single pick, and 3 of the same Special is still going to be quite a few of the same models. That said, the limit does reward running two larger units of a Rare slot, rather than running seven or eight tiny ones, so it does nip a few of the more ridiculous hypothetical builds from the rumor phase in the bud.

I sat down and wrote out a new Dwarf list over my lunch today, and it's actually legal in both editions of the rules. I suspect most people that were running relatively even-handed armies are going to be in a similar position. More Lord or Rare focused forces might be in for a little reorganization, but from what I've looked at for the rules for close combat, I suspect that most of those armies are going to be wanting to take a few more skeletons/warriors/spearmen anyway. I don't envy the guys that have to rewrite the validation rules for Army Builder, but on the whole, I think it's a strong step towards rebalancing things for the better.

Friday, June 11, 2010

It's been a while...

So, while doing the site redesign with Blogger's neat-o new layout tool, I kept on having the last update from November of last year staring at me. It's got a way of making a guy want to get something done. So here's the "state of the steamwerks" since then.

-Repainted my table! I finally got around to both reinforcing the thing (no more bending!) and getting a fresh coat of paint on it. Now I can actually be reasonably sure my terrain will match the board, and I've got a hell of a lot of Tausept Ochre and Bleached Bone look-alike latex paint.

-Painted a bunch of terrain. With the table repaint, I wanted to get the rest of the terrain set shipshape. In addition to the stuff that's already showed up on the blog, now there's two Gaming Hills, a Temple of Skulls, some assorted small ruins, and the Bastion properly finished, plus the Battlescape and a couple of forests at least partially finished.

-Reorganized my gaming space. This one is still a work in progress. I moved the desk out, and moved in another bookshelf and Martha's display cabinet, along with adding some new terrain shelving. Still plowing through organizing the (probably thousands) minis in boxes that let me actually find things, but I'm closer to having a more usable space than I have been in a while.

-Lost my camera. This one is the main reason I haven't been posting- my phone just doesn't take the quality of pictures that I would like. There is some suspicion about the timing of it, but the main point is that I just don't know where the damn thing is.

-Played a hell of a lot of Xbox. This is one of those cyclical hobby things... With a lot of people being busy around the last big 40K release (Battle Missions), I just didn't end up doing as much tabletop gaming as usual. That said, Splinter Cell: Conviction, and Halo3: ODST were not a bad way to kill a few weeks.

So. Moving forward. Right now, I've got some decent work done on my Romans for WAB, and with the 2.0 rulebook out, it's getting some good play. I've been getting back into painting my Vostroyans, after some disappointment with the codex. What do you folks want to read? More battle reports? Painting logs? Philosophical musings about the state of rules and players? Let me know what you think!