Second game with Gunny against Legion again but this time eVayl. Same list as the last game but this time Highwaymen instead of Scattergunners and I put my tier two trenches down.

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The Legion list was small and elite including an Angelius, Zuriel, Typhon, 2 x Forsaken and 2 x Deathstalker. Looking at eVayl’s spell list this was going to be a very maneuverable force with lots of stealth and possible assassination threats. I decided to go with the usual strategy of rushing the burrowers forward to tie-up the centre ground and then look to punch a hole for the heavies and Gunny to assassinate at range.
First round went as planned but the Legion redirected making it harder for the Burrowers to get a substantial number of attacks on one beast.

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The Highywaymen ‘water-falled’ on the Angelius but only managed a couple of points of damage. The Burrowers also failed to make an impact on Typhon and Zuriel. To be fair my dice were poor but this meant I had lost the initiative.
The Legion beasts ripped into my Infantry causing heavy casaulties leaving me in trouble for the scenario  and opening up the table for the Legion to attack my Battlegroup.
In my next turn I took two (somewhat diminished) death star shots from my Highwaymen which in hind-sight would have been a better option in the previous turn. I also had a go using the battlegroup to drop some templates near eVayl using Dozer’s Bank Shot to gain more control over the scatter. This tactic clearly has merit and I can see it being very good in the right circumstance. I do need to plan the activation order carefully to make the most of it and remember all the buffs and synergies.
From here in the Legion played a game of hit and run and Gunny failed to get any traction in inflicting serious damage. In fact it was looking like I would fail to kill a single model so I turned Gunny on a Deathstalker to avoid this embarrassment only to allow Typhon to rear-end him into oblivion.

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Another good learning experience. Although I didn’t do well I was faster and used more of the aspects of the Gunny list that should make it a good one. I need to make some trench templates – although they had little effect in this game I can see them being useful in others. I also made the mistake of putting my objective in one trench meaning there was less space for models – must remember not to do that next time.

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2015 : Year in Review

Posted: December 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

Another year of gaming has passed and it’s generally been a good one. I continue to be amazed by the sheer number of excellent games, models and accessories that are available. It does not seem so long ago that there was only really Warhammer Fantasy and 40K as genuinely well supported and popular games. Long may this last and I’m looking forward to even more diverse gaming in 2016 including a return to Dropzone Commander and the new Dropfleet Commander that I have backed with a club mate.

Getting the negatives out of the way first I must say I’ve found it increasingly difficult to reconcile family, work and gaming so it is a truism that the amount of time I am able to devote to painting. modelling and tournament play has fallen dramatically. I’ve prided myself on being a very good painter and reasonable completive player but increasingly I’m having to settle for less than my best and my skills and motivation on this front are waning. The most obvious symptom of this was my failure to take part in the tournament play at SMOGCON and failure to win anything in the P3 painting contest. This state of affairs is unlikely to change in the medium term, but I am thankful for being able to attend my local club on a regular basis to play a good selection of games.
And local gaming is where the positives have been for me this year. 2015 has been all about four really good systems that I have managed to invest a decent amount of time and energy to. I’ve enjoyed some great games with some great people (you know who you are!) in Warmahordes, Infinity, Batman and Kingdom of Death: Monster. I’ve played a couple of other systems too, but these four have commanded the majority of my time.

Warmahordes remains by preferred system for competitive play and I’m looking forward to updating my Trolls in the lead up to SMOGCON 2016. It is a blessed relief and a great credit to Privateer Press that the game has remained steady and balanced for a number of years, and where there have been problems they are skillfully dealt with via FAQ and new releases. For me Warmahordes is by far the most developed and well thought out product available to the gaming community and I don’t see that changing in 2016.

The arrival of Infinity N3 was much anticipated and the game itself is better for the new edition. The new rule set is clearer yet even deeper pushing the envelope for futuristic skirmish gaming even further. Much like Warmahordes I do find it to be a brutal alpha strike game and it can be disheartening if you get off to a bad start. Whereas I feel I’ve cracked Warmahordes and can hold my own I still don’t feel on top of Infinity. Perhaps for this reason I continue to bang the drum that says this game is really best seen as an immersive campaign setting rather than a pick-up and play competitive system – I’m aware many disagree with this interpretation. I’m certainly going to want to come back to Infinity in 2016 and I’m still waiting on a Kickstarter for some really nice pre-painted terrain that I will likely use a spring-board back into this game.

In contrast to the punishing alpha strike nature of Warmahordes and Infinity, the Batman miniature game has been a breath of fresh air and the best surprise of 2015. Like many gamers I was attracted by the familiar setting and cool models but the system itself is very, very good. The rules are interesting and cinematic in creating a ‘beat ‘em up’ feel rather than a massacre in which everyone dies. This makes it a lot of fun and much more forgiving, while remaining viable for competitive play. In addition I’ve already bought some models in anticipation of the Spiderman game which is due for release soon, although I’ll probably hold on playing this until there is a better selection of choices for forces. I also really enjoyed making my Arkham Asylum for this game and that particular project has to go down as my most ambitious and original this year.

Finally, and by far the most anticipated game, Kingdom of Death: Monster. For me this has raised the bar in terms of board gaming by effectively offering a self-running role-play game. My gaming roots are in role-play but over the years I’ve lost the youthful imagination and creativity needed to generate and then maintain a vivid fantasy (sad I know!), which is why I find wargaming much easier to access. The great news is that KOD tells the story as you play it. The rules are fairly thin (in a good way) and I would imagine it would be possible to break the game through careful analysis, but that’s not the point for me. What this game is all about is getting a group of gamers around a table and having fun in a grim unforgiving world. It needs a dark sense of humour and the perseverance to get up and give it another go when things go wrong, but if you have that it is a beautifully conceived universe to lose yourself in.

So, there we have it for 2015. Less painting and modelling but a healthy amount of gaming. I’m optimistic about 2016 and as mentioned my predictions for 2016 include Trolls at SMOGCON, Dropfleet Commander in the Summer, Batman and Spiderman and more Kingdom of Death: Monster. There are lots of other games to take further too including All Quiet on the Martian Front, X-Wing and Armada to mention just three. Just too much to choose from 🙂

Highwaymen in progress. Took a while to construct these guys. I was a little disappointed with the variation across the models. There are basically 4 sculpts: 3 x 3 and the leader. Nonetheless the sculpts are good for plastics with a good amount of well defined detail. There were a few mold lines to clear up and gaps to fill but nothing too horrendous. I’ve taken the trouble to do it properly for these guys as too often I’m a bit lazy about this.
First step is scraping or cutting the worst away with a scalpel. I’ve then taken to using a bit of wet and dry wire wool to achieve a smooth finish. After this my usual black primer with an azimuthal white. Note the darker undercuts in pics 2 and 3. This picks out any remain imperfections that need attention. In pic 4 an awful mold line was discovered and needed some quite aggressive tidying up to get to the siultuation in pic 5. Once these are gone another light dusting of white finished them off.

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First practice game was a 35pt affair vs  eAbby. This was going to be a refamiliarisation exercise rather than a competitive game, so I took Gunny and what is pretty much my old sub-par list with Dygmies + Fellcaller, Scattergunners + UA, Bomber and Impaler. I used to take two Bombers, but as I have a semi-painted and built Dozer and Smigg they made the list instead. It was probably a tier 2 list with minor benefits I didn’t take, but I’m not too worried about that at this stage. The eventual plan is to upgrade to 50 via max Highwaymen and a Blitzer but I’m keeping it small and familiar to begin with. The Scattergunners should probably go too, possibly replaced by a War Wagon or 2nd Blitzer, I may even try the Mountain King with Gunny ….. but I digress.

eAbby was accompanied by a Carnivean, Scythean, Raek, Shredder, Swordsmen, 2 x Shepard and 2 x Deathwatcher. I’ve played these models before and always found them troublesome, especially the heavy beasts. However we rolled a scenario that favoured a backfield shooty Warlock which at least meant I didn’t need to worry about this aspect. I got first turn and deployed as seen below.

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I’ve learnt that it is best to have a rough strategy rather than just ‘going for it’ and improvising. With this list there are basically three waves of attack. The Dygmies go in first with the intention of occuyping the middle ground early and posing a fairly credible threat to anything centre board turn 2. If they can hang in there for a turn or two the Scattergunners can get in and start spraying without fear of hurting the Pygs via their UA. It is likely they will get get tied up too turn 3. However, by now Gunny and the Heavies should be in a good position to start laying down the big blast templates and with the help of Gunnies feat they should enjoy protection from blast damage in turn 3 or 4. Finally, all being well, it should be possible for Gunny and his Heavies to find the gap needed in the mid to late game to knock out the opponent’s warlock.

The game itself roughly followed this plan but could have gone either way. The burrowing Pygs failed miserably to made any headway in attacking the Legion heavies but I did at least learn a new trick of giving them Snipe via Gunny to give them the range needed to attempt this. Thankfully they did do a reasonable job of jamming the centre ground allowing the Scattergunners and Fellcaller to get some reasonable sprays in.

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At this stage Abby popped feat and the Legion beasts gained Flight. The Carnivean came down one flank and the Scythean straight at my Battlegroup putting Dozer and Smigg down to a single box. This was now the Trolls moment to try and punch a hole through to Abby and assassinate her. Gunny managed to knock her down with Critical Devastation, although she was carrying enough transfers to probably keep her safe. Nonetheless the remaining Scattergunners and Pygs did their best to finish her and a cheeky Arcing Fire shot from Dozer and Smigg put some hurt on her. The Bomber bravely stepped away from the Scythean, riding out the free-strike, but even his two boosted bombs were not quite enough.

Unfortunately I had left Gunny dangerously close to the Scythean and I must say I thought this meant game over. Somehow Gunny survived the onslaught giving him another bite at the cherry with the heavily wounded Abby crouched in a wood. The Trolls firstly attacked Abby’s beasts that were transfer targets successfully removing the Raek but leaving a badly injured Shredder.

Gunny just needed to escape the Scythean…..
Earlier in the game we had been disussing how the Bomber might do this and realised a friendly Push power attack would do exactly this and stop free-strikes to boot. The Impaler circled behind Gunnbjorn and did the deed freeing him up to have a go at Abby. I’m pleased to say he had a superb hit roll followed by a decent damage roll and Abby was a goner.

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Dead chuffed to win, especially against arguably the best Warmahordes player presently at my club. Having said that we did do a lot of mutual coaching and the 35pt game took a good three hours to get through. Clearly there is no way the games at SMOGCON are going to be like this so regular practice including timed turns will be essential. I’m not looking to achieve a placing at SMOGCON but I would like to be a credible opponent.

So, main three learning points:

1) Dozer and Smigg are very nice. The Arcing fire is a nice addition to the Gunnbjorn assassination gunline tactic.
2) Don’t forget the option to push a model out of melee: friendly model or foe!
3) Snipe works on units as well as beasts. This is potentially good with Pygs and will be even better with Highwaymen.

Lets hope its onwards and upwards for Gunny and co. from here! 🙂

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I checked the SMOGCON website yesterday and it told me there were 54 days to go. While I am quite excited about attending what is currently the only tournament I make the committment for, I am hopelessly underprepared. I’ve barely played Warmahordes since the last SMOGCON and my plans to up my painting have come to nothing – in fact my painting standard has dipped since last year.
Although I’ve left this late there is still time to get myself in reasonable shape. I’ve decided to set myself three targets following on from the experience last year:

1)  Enter a Warmahordes tournament which will require rehearshing three lists.

2) Learn High Command and play a couple of tournaments in this lower key system.

3) Prepare a couple of entries for the P3 competition but avoid making this the focus of the weekend.

Thinking about the fairly tight time scale and my limited preparation time, I’ve decided to go back to familiar territory and concentrate on Trolls. Reading Battle College and the PP forums the Troll meta has evolved since I last studied them. Particularly noteworthy is the improvement in choices for Gunnbjorn via Dozer and Smigg and Highwaymen, the minor buff the Mountain King recieved and finally Calandra’s Elemental list which seems to be favourite. I’m also quite interested in doing a Runeshaper list with Doomshaper but I’m far more familiar with Grim who I’ve enjoyed playing. Gunnbjorn will of course be my number one and I will consider which two of the other three I use nearer the time. I’ll paint the new models I need for these lists and if any look promising they will become my  P3 entries. Of course it goes without saying I’ll be using Trolls in High Command too, and just for a giggle I’ll use the same three Warlocks in this system too. 🙂

Without further ado I dug out Gunnbjorn for a 35 point this evening…….

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This evening Lion’s Bane and his partner Betty Bane embarked on their quest to rebuild Lion’s Burg following the devastation left by the Butcher. As the final two Survivors it was vital that they discovered Intimacy in order to build the population up. Sadly fate was once again cruel and Lion’s Bane was hideously scared from an exploding lantern and was forced to leave Betty all alone. Now with only one survivor left Lion’s Burg was in a desperate situation.
To cut an unexpectedly long story short Betty went on to kill two further Lion’s and build a very effective gear grid that included complete sets of hide and then leather armour. Key to this success was the affinity between her hide head and body armour that allowed her to turn over two Lion AI cards and rearrange them as she chose. This often meant that she was able to manipulate the Lion into ‘sniffing’ and allowed her to get plenty of unanswered damage in with her bone axe.
There were plenty of other interesting events in the session including meeting the King’s Men for the first time and gaining the Phoenix as a potential quarry. While it does seem possible to build a settlement back from one survivor the odds of this happening are very very slim. We concluded that although Betty was having little trouble dealing with level 1 Lions it was only a matter of time before one got her or an event in the storyline would finish her off. Rather than work through what may have turned out to be several more hours of gradually beating up Lions before the inevitable happened, we gave thanks to Betty for teaching us more about the game and showing us what a Survivor could achieve before retiring her and Lion’s Burg.

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So, I’ve played quite a few games of Monster now and still feel I’ve only scratched the surface. It’s a lot of fun and can be very brutal and frustrating. Lion’s Burg got off to a great start but three factors led to failure. The first was failing to get any new births in the settlement – not one! This was in the main bad luck with the dice. It seems that a settlement can expect to lose one or two survivors each year so there really must be a fairly steady birth rate to balance this. The second factor was taking six survivors against the Antelope. The buff the Antelope got was deadly and resulted in the loss of five survivors in this showdown. The third and final problem came with the failure to take bandages against the Butcher plus the wasted opportunity to lead him away from the settlement by sacrificing one survivor. With hindsight it should be possible to mitigate against these problems next time.
One thing that became clear from Betty’s success in the final session was the importance of a good gear grid and manipulating the monster. A big hitting weapon and a complete armour set are well worth working toward, but I feel that some of the other items such as bandages and gear that allow some control over the flow of the action may be very useful indeed.
Lots to think about and there will be many more hunts to come 🙂

Lantern year 5 means it’s time for the Butcher Nemesis encounter. Before this though Lion’s Bane harvested the corpse of the Antelope. Upon his return Queen Tabitha ordered a re-enactment of the hunt in which she played Lion’s Bane and new Survivor Knick-Knack played the monster.Sadly Knick-Knack took things a little too seriously and lashing out at Tabitha with real claws slayed the Queen. Oh dear another survivor down before the Butcher had even turned up!

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During the settlement phase the Survivors had an ambudance of Endeavours due to the five casaulties in the previous showdown. To make the best use of this the group decided to innovate partnership and the six remaining survivors paired off. New survivor Wide-eyed attempted an Augury and white studying a bone learnt a little about the universe. Sadly the survivors failed again get intimate and numbers in the settlement remained steady but low. Further weapons and armour were made and it was time to face the Butcher.

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The basic plan was to use the +1 strength bonus from partnership and attack in pairs. Wide-eyed and Sid rushed in with Bone Axes while Knick-Knack and new Survivor Andy held back hoping to use their bone darts.The initial attacks did not go well and Sid took a worrying number of bleeding tokens. It became clear to the group that bandages would have been a good idea!
As is often the case with best laid plans, it was not long before the survivors were in a mess. A mixture of the Butchers strength sapping lanterns, manical screaming and viscous blood token attacks began to their toll. There was a glimmer of hope when the Butcher made Andy his priority target and the option of Andy sacrificing himself to lead the Butcher away became an option. The group decided to fight on and Sid went down. It all became too much for her partner Wide-eyed who entered a state of Frenzy. Over the rounds to come the Survivors fought bravely but they gradually succumbed to the Butchers onslaught and all were slain. The Butcher added their faces to his lanterns and ransacked the settlement.

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Not good. There are now only two survivors in Lion’s Burg: Lion’s Bane and his partner Betty Bane. For future reference two errors and two point of information need to remembered. Firstly when making the AI deck S cards start in play. Secondly survivors can only swap resources during the showdown not items from their grid. Thirdly when resolving tiggers it is once per attack, not once per hit. Finally we had been a little generous with the gear grids and it is important to ensure all the links are made before taking a buff.
With only two Survivors left the future is uncertain for Lion’s Burg but one thing is for sure – the Butcher certainly lived up to his name!