Friday, 20 April 2018

Chapter Doof

Apart from some bungee cords (need to get the right colour elastic bands) she's ready to rock and roll! I'd normally save a centrepiece for last but, I couldn't resist I wanted to get her done.

I am considering putting a weathering powder on the vehicles, will check which ones I have available and if any suit the theme, but if I do I'll do them all when they're all finished, for consistency. So for now, we'll count the doof wagon as finished and displayable.








Saturday, 31 March 2018

Max, meet Nux. Nux, meet Bloodb... Max.

Rules wise just a warbuggy. But for this collection, an important warbuggy...




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Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Board Game Corner: Creative Packaging

Recently I ordered a game called Fugitive, and when it arrived I at first struggled to open the box... it looked like you should push the side like a box of matches, but no give there. It turned out the box was cleverly designed to look like a briefcase, and you opened the top of the case in a similar manner. it's quite a neat little thing and part of a recent trend I have noticed among games, particularly those hunting for the elusive kickstarter money.
 
 


 
 
As you can see from the pictures above, the case contains all the marshall needs to track down his quarry - wipeaway notepad, wipeable pen, and a host of cards as the fugitive lays his trail and the marshall hunts him.
 
I've played the game a couple times so far, and I'm not yet convinced on it... it seems very easy to get caught early on. On the first turn, the marshall has a one in three chance of just catching the fugitive with a random guess. This seems incredibly high, and there is absolutely nothing the fugitive can do to narrow those odds, unless the rules are incorrect. He starts with card 1 2 and 3, and can lay one or two of the cards. If he lays one, it's a simple one in three guess. If he lays two, the marshall can guess multiple cards, so it's just which one is still in his hand, meaning it's still a  1 in 3 chance. According to the beginning of play guide, the fugitive doesn't draw cards on their first turn, which means the marshall knows they are only laying from their starting hand. if they could at least draw, they may draw something useless, but it would at least add uncertainty to the mix. Did they draw something they could reach? Did they sprint to reach a higher card, or did they sprint just to bluff? I think drawing one card would make this a hell of a different prospect. The faq even says it is ok for the fugitive to sprint to their first hideout, but if they are starting with just 3 cards, all reachable, there is no need to sprint, and the marhsall knows this... at least if you draw a card you MIGHT have gone somewhere you need to sprint to. I shall have to check and see if there is an online update to the rules, but the game does have promise... if the fugitive can escape the first turn or two, then you get a nice little cat and mouse run going on and it is quite a good puzzle. But on the flip side I've had games where I've put a card down, been guessed first time, game over in 30 seconds shuffle and re-deal.
 
The next game I am bringing up in this is my flatmates game, Tortuga. This is a great multiplayer mostly hidden team game that I have had a barrel of laughs with, and it is beautifully packaged in this lovely fake book. I almost want to put it on my bookshelf, instead of with the other games. I think my flatmate may object to this.



 
While I must leave Tortuga in the lounge with the other games, I have recently backed Deadwood from the same publisher, on kickstarter. Taking a good game with wonderful packaging and putting it into a theme I enjoy almost as much as pirates? Yes please! This one, being my own, will give me the dilemma on whether it goes with games or books, but I shall decide that when it eventually arrives - the one downside of kickstarter being the long lead time of waiting for the game you want.
 
Ironically when I mentioned to a group of friends that I had backed Deadwood the flatmate who owns Tortuga proudly pointed out that he had turned me to the aesthetics of nicely boxed games... true, he did show me Tortuga, and it is nice. But he's also the guy I know who minimises his games into MGC deck boxes, so he can fit them into a travel bag so he has a "go-bag" of games to take to friends... I think he has like 20 games in a bag barely big enough to put a six pack in. As much as I admire his diligence and efficiency, it seems odd for him to also claim respect for original packaging..
 
Tortuga is a team based game where up to 9 of you are voting on actions that your ship may take, but you may not all be on the same side. Depending on where you are on the ship depends on which actions you can take. So if you think the Captain is a frenchie then you can call a mutiny and strand them. Of course you yell "who's with me lads?" and turn around to see the rest of the crew smoking cigarettes and shrugging their shoulders and you think "ah shit I really misjudged this audience..." Next it's the captains turn and you surprise surprise find yourself marooned on the aforementioned island of Tortuga. Perhaps go try to join the crew of the other ship instead... Or would you rather be governor of Tortuga? Interesting possibilities.
 
Finally, the last game in my "interesting box" collection, was picked up precisely because of a juvenile streak of wanting to back a game that came in a furry box.

 
I've played this game a couple of times, I am hoping with a larger (and drunker) crowd it may be more of a hit, thus far it has seemed to get by on just plain silliness of the cards and combinations and the gimmicky packaging/perks/faq, rather than the gameplay itself. From the makers of the excellent exploding kittens, I'll be honest I had expected better. It does feel like they've cashed in on a gimmick, but at the same time it wasn't that much cash, I spent just as much money on a wooden box with a switch on it - if you turn it on, it switches itself off. That is the only thing it does. Again, a useless gimmick, but certainly amusing in social situations.
 
Finally, as much as I have shown an admiration for unusual packaging in this post, I am still a great lover of identically sized standard boxes... it makes a gaming shelf so much easier to organise...


Saturday, 10 March 2018

Witness me Brother! Witness me!

Da doof wagon is assembled.

Still a long way to go yet (wait for good weather, undercoat, paint, glue in the bits I'm painting separately, mainly the musicians... and oh yeah build and do the same for over half a dozen other, thankfully smaller, vehicles)

 
But to get the centrepiece of the project built, it feels a good milestone. So a quick photodump to celebrate.

I found some awesome plasticised I-beams that have proven very useful at making the whole vehicles look heavier and better supported compared to previous pictures that, while completely structurally sound, didn't look as strong, given how heavy the speakers are supposed to be. I am happen to have rectified this with purely decorative bits of plastic.










Monday, 5 March 2018

You Are Awaited In Valhalla!

So, with Double Trouble coming up this summer, I have been working on a little project. I had originally planned to keep this under wraps and then do a big reveal, but the centrepiece part of the big reveal is now, sadly, but probably for the best, not going to happen...

With that in mind, I figured a progress update wouldn't hurt.

I present, my battlewagon, da doof wagon!


The guitarist will be painted separately and glued in place later... I did have bigger plans for this guy but alas he shall have to suffice with being a painted model alone...


I still have much to do on the doof wagon. The speakers are well supported structurally, but they don't LOOK well supported for how much they are meant to weigh... so I shall have to add more, purely decorative struts, to make it look as strong as it is.


And of course, I still have a good amount of work to do at the back, bringing the speakers together and adding four drummers on the end...


Of course this entire project would have been even more monstrously difficult had I succeeded with phase one... I wanted the guitarist to have a functioning flamethrower!

I had a design I found online and was trying to scale down to a size I could build a battlewagon around... unfortunately making it smaller limits the size of the electronics, and in the end the motor I had just didn't have enough "oomph" to proper the gas that would have thrilled the crowds (and quite possibly exploded my battlewagon, in true orky fashion)

With how big a task building this doof wagon around nothing is proving to be, I am now very glad I didn't have to hide even more stuff inside, I'm not sure I could have made the thing any smaller than a baneblade!


Friday, 23 February 2018

Investigating the Underworlds: Squeaks and Tweaks

Next up for review is my skaven deck, as I recently got a few games in with them, and while it wasn't straight back to the drawing board, I did go back and alter the deck slightly.

First up it has to be said I have my priorities. my Orks are my first party, and get all the cool toys. my undead come second, but they're such a different playstyle they still pretty much get their first picks. In their case, lots of objective cards - with that many regenerating bodies, why wouldn't you?

So I happened to build my dwarf deck before my skaven deck, and with fighters that are inspired by being on objectives, it made total sense to build a deck around being on objectives to score some points. I may come back to that deck as I had to leave out a lot of cool, flavourful cards for the deck I wanted to build, and will need a few test games with it to see if it works.


So then it comes to the skaven, a fast moving warband that can get fighters behind enemy lines, that's perfect for objective grabbing... ah. I've used up my objective cards...

Not wanting to swap cards between decks every game, and not having another copy of the Base game yet (although I am considering it) I had to come up with a plan B...

Noticing that the skaven, unlike most warband, generally don't hit much harder when inspired, I built my objectives around three core themes - precise use of small force at distance, grabbing many objectives for good points, keeping my leader alive.

So, on the first theme, I have "The Bigger They Are" "Arm's Length" and "Precise Use of Force" objectives that are score immediately objectives, worth 1 point each, for killing something with a damage characteristic of 1, killing someone not adjacent, and killing with precisely the amount needed to kill.

With objective grabbing in mind, I have "Cover Ground" to score immediately if I move 6 or more hexes. I have "Supremacy" for holding three objectives, and "Making a Statement" for holding all objectives in enemy territory. As these inevitably involve sending rats into harms way, I also have "Lives are Cheap" which I score if someone kills two of my fighters in a single phase.


With the goal of keeping my leader alive, I have "Leading from the Back" and "Live to Fight Another Day" a couple of third phase objectives that reward me for my leader being in his own territory with no adjacent enemies, and being the only survivor.

To round out my objectives I have "Brilliant, Brilliant" which rewards me for completing two other objective cards in this phase, with so many score immediately cards I'm hoping to daisy chain this. And as Skaven are inspired by having ploys played on them, I have gone with "Ploymaster" (score for 3 or more ploys played) and "No More Tricks" (have no power cards left)

So, what weapons and tools of war have I given myself to achieve these objectives?


The first thing I noticed from my games the other night was that I didn't have enough self influencing ploys. I had a few, but I had others that messed around with the enemy, same as any other deck. Now this was a multiplayer game so perhaps 1 vs 1 my opponent will have to use his enemy targeted ploys on my fighters rather than others, but I don't like this being in his control. It certainly didn't seem like much of a deterrent value, and given my rats increase in survivability when inspired, I wanted to activate that asap.

So a tweak to the deck later, I now have 10 ploy cards, 9 of which can be used to interact with my own models. Some two at once.

I have "Sprint" and "Sudden Skittering" two cards that do the same thing, double the move characteristic of the first model to move. This should come in handy with my "move 6 hexes" objective and with grabbing objectives my opponent thought were well out of reach. And of course, whichever rat is picked to move is thus affected by the ploy and inspired, so a mad dash into enemy territory, at least you're rolling two defence when you get there.

"There Are Always More" let's me bring a skaven (apart from the main two) back from the dead and put them on any starting hex, so the same as the leaders ability, but because it's a ploy, it also inspires them...

"Sacrificial Pawn" is a ploy that let's me pick a fighter (inspiring them) which means if the enemy kills them in the next activation, I gain a glory point. Good for deterrence, or compensation.

"Heightened Caution" gives the first friendly target an extra defence dice... handy, although I have less control over who is the recipient of this one.

"Aversion to Death" is a reaction card to when a friendly fighter dies... I can push two friendly fighters on hex each. Handy if someone is planning to swing into a horde and kill several, to scupper their plans. But also it's a ploy affecting two rats, so very action efficient. Similarly, "Confusion" let's me switch any two adjacent fighters... handy for objective grabbing, but in a pinch can be used on two of my own to make them more likely to live long enough to hold the objective. "Sidestep" is push a friendly fighter one hex, again nice for reclaiming objectives and for inspiring.

"Last Chance" is a reaction that gives a one dice roll to get a result that would normally be a failure, and if so, you survive. Given the majority of my models are defending on dodge this is a very good card for them. Finally, I have "Duel of Wits" that let's me draw more power cards if my opponent plays a ploy, which could be quite handy.


So, what upgrades have I selected for my rats? Well, as with most decks, there were several upgrades to make my basic fighters hit harder... but with my plan to attack with a nibble from range approach, this didn't suit my needs. So I have been quite selective in my upgrades.

To bolster my leader, who already has a ranged attack, I have a plan to equip "Flee" which is an action that let's himself and an adjacent fighter move away from the enemy, handy for pulling his bodyguard with him. I also plan to give him "Skitter-Scurry" which let's me push him one hex each time he makes an action... so if someone is getting too close I can take a pot shot at them AND back away too. I plan to give him the "Vampiric Weapon" which let's him heal for each casualty he causes - not a great deal but he's my hardest hitter with a ranged attack and probably a high priority target for my opponent so, giving him the potential to heal a wound or twois probably a good move. I then have two more that might go on the leader or potentially other rats... "Ethereal Shield" to change my defence characteristic to Shields, and "Acrobatic" which gives me an extra defence dice if i'm looking for dodges, or am on guard while looking for Shields.

In keeping with the goal of leader survivability, I have set up krrk with "Bodyguard For a Price" which means that if Skritch is adjacent to him, he is on guard, even if he charged. I have also given him "Swarm of Rats" an attack all adjacent models that is strength 1 as opposed to Krrks base attack strength of 2... which ties in nicely with my precision nibbling approach.

The lowly skaven I see as having the most potential for my list is the lurking skaven... he starts more survivable, and can be equipped with "Throwing Stars" a range 3 str 1 attack, perfect for my long range precision nibbling goals. I also plan to put "Sneaky Stab-Stab" on this fighter as, for one, it sounds like his approach, and two, it let's me push him one hex before making an attack. With a range three attack I can imagine there will always be plenty of targets within 4 hexes I can potentially stalk, and if they've moved already I can advance on an objective while picking at them nibble by nibble...

Finally, I have "Expendable" which I would put on whichever rat I was sending most into harms way... it let's you sacrifice the rat if they're about to take damage (which on a 2w model almost always means death anyway) and inflict 1 damage to the enemy, which may kill them, or better yet, soften them up for a "nibbling" on my next turn...

So that is my deck as it currently stands, until I either give up on scoring objectives with the fyreslayers, or pick up another core set... which to be fair I am watching on ebay as I'd like a second set of board anyway, it'd be handy to be able to play four player without the only other person I know with a copy having to be there... plus we could potentially houserule some six player shenanigans, or a mini tournament...

But in the meantime...


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Investigating the Underworlds: A Series on Shadespire

I have never been one to normally be taken by small scale skirmish games, always much preferring the grand spectacle of hordes of infantry and companies of tanks (explains my masochistic tendency towards horde armies like guard and orks anyway) however the fairly recent release from Games Workshop, Shadespire, has managed to capture my attention. What started as a "Go on I'll give it a go" with a friend who had picked up a copy soon became a complete, and recently updated, collection of my own. Despite there being enough dice in the box to play the game, I have even bought the individual warbands dice sets. Godamn you Geedub...

Now you may be forgiven for thinking there isn't too much variety to be had in a game that has maybe 3-7 fighters that are all based on fixed character cards, but that is where the deck of cards comes in. A hell of a lot of variety can be added to a warband, completely changing how it plays, just with the application of these decks. When the Dwarves and Skaven were released the other day, I went through their new cards and cherry picked a few from each to upgrade my existing Orks, Undead and Sigmarines decks. I then went through and picked out all the cards I liked the look of for the Dwarves. I'd picked 37. The deck size is 20. I then had to spend a good hour deliberating over which way I wanted to set the deck up. I settled on one setup. After a few games I may tweak, or do a complete overhaul, I don't know we shall see. Bear in mind, that's 37 choices I liked AFTER setting up 4 0ther decks of 20 cards each first... if the dwarves were my first priority (orks all the way) I would have even more choices to agonise over...

So, for the uninitiated, I am not planning to give a rundown of how to play the game, there are tutorials out there for that. But I will cover a couple of basics that may be pertinent to the tactical decisions to follow.

Boards

First off, board placement is a big thing. You roll off for placing the boards as the layout of the battlefield can make a big difference to a warband.


In the example above, the undead player has deployed the second board, going for a long board, allowing him to hide his all important Warden (the only fighter he has that he can't bring back to life, and the one that does the resurrecting of the other fighters) a loooong way from harms way...


This is a good setup for the Sigmarines, keeping the minimum board contact amount so their small numbers can hold the line together


The khornate loonies would probably prefer something like this... wide open spaces to make use of their numbers to get around the individual fighters

So how you set up the board makes a big difference to how the game is played. Whether it is going for a wide frontage, choke points, or even potentially isolating half your opponents warband. Up against Orks? Deploy so they can put 2 or 3 of their 4 fighters next to you, but one is left isolated. Now do they put their leader at the back out of harms way? Or a less destructive character? And if the latter option, do they spend actions trying to drag him into the fight? Or do they just forget about him and leave him back there? Forcing your opponent to ask difficult questions is all part of the game.

The Decks

In this game you have two decks... an objective deck of 12 cards, and a power deck of at least 20. Now the sleeve sets that you can buy come with exactly that amount, you could buy your own sleeves and have a 40 card power deck, but it's very rare to run out of power cards in the game in my experience, so all doubling your deck size would do is give you less predictability over what is due. If you want some carnage, go for it, take 100 cards and see what happens. But I wouldn't rate your chances beyond blind luck.

A maximum of half those power cards can be ploy cards, the other half have to be upgrades. Upgrades cost glory points to fit to your fighters, which means a starting hand of 5 upgrade cards can make it difficult to get the ball rolling... but at least if you mulligan then you are twice as likely to get ploy cards as upgrade cards when you re-draw. The downside being you can't reshuffle the deck, So maybe you don't want to throw all of them away, just a couple. This has meant that one game I drew 5 upgrades, discarded 3, drew 3 more. Struggled as my opponent threw ploy after ploy at me. FInally managed to score an objective so use an upgrade, drew another one. My remaining deck was 10 ploys and 1 upgrade, which would have been great, if I didn't have a full hand of power cards already and going into turn 3 with a 17 point deficit... but hey, that's the luck of the draw sometimes. t least I can moan about that... If I had a 100 card deck then drawing 10 upgrades first just gets a "So?"

Now, with 12 objectives 10 ploys and 10 upgrades being your expected deck, let's have a look at an example deck and how I plan to play them... at least in theory...

Sigmarines

Yes I know it's not their official name but it's stuck with me now so... there you go.

The sigmarines are the smallest warband thus far, and I don't think that will change any time soon. Their individual fighters are however tough and hard hitting. Their defence is the more common shields, and a good defence roll makes them inspired, which lets them roll two defence dice instead of one. Being inspired gives each of them a second attack characteristic too, the leader now being able to strike at all adjacent enemies, while obryn can nowCleave and brightshield can't be pushed and can make a counter attack - making her very handy for holding an objective. With this in mind I would want to set them up with a narrow frontage and basically try to plug the gap and hold the line.


Something like this really...


With this in mind, what objectives do I plan to score? It's also worth mentioning that during setup, I would try to make sure there was an objective in enemy territory as close as possible to no mans land, to give my slow moving party an easy to reach enemy objective.

Now you can't have the same card twice in your decks, but you can have differently titled cards that broadly do the same thing, and I have utilised that to try to limit my focus, hoping to maybe double up on points for one objective where possible. As such, my objectives consist of:

Dauntless - score in an end phase if I'm outnumbered three to one - with such a small party this seems a good fallback option, allowing me to score points if things start to go wrong and I'm losing fighters.
Perfect Planning - Score if none of my guys made a move action - if I set myself up in a static defensive position, or am running out of fighters, this could be a good one to score.
Unbroken Wall - Score in an end phase if all my fighters are in a single group and adjacent to each other - it's a bit risky as it has a minimum group size of three, but if it comes up early game it should be an easy one to accomplish, especially if I'm plugging the gap as shown above.
Twilight Conquerer - Have all my party, (at least 3) in no mans land. Again, risky as if I lose a model I can't complete it, but it compliments Unbroken wall quite well.
Consecrated Area - have no enemy adjacent to my fighters.
Alone in the Darkness - There are no adjacent fighters on the battlefield. Similar to the above although harder to accomplish.
Seize Ground - Score if you hold an enemy objective.
Plant a Standard - score if your leader is holding an enemy objective (this is another example where, if the draw is favourable, you can score two points in one hit...)
Immovable Object/Determined Defender - both of these reward you if the same friendly fighter has held the same objective for two consecutive phases... again, going for the double bubble on a favourable draw.
I also included a couple of "score immediately" cards as they can be handy to get the ball rolling...
Lightning Strikes - take an enemy out of action with a charge
Crushing Force - deal twice as much damage as needed to take out a target - with two of my three fighters swinging at three damage, plenty of plus one damage cards out there and plenty of two damage enemies, it seemed an obvious choice...

So in summary, I am trying to keep myself near the neutral gap, perhaps stepping slightly onto the nearest objective and staying there, keeping my guys clustered together for mutual support, keeping the enemy away from me, and making the occasional dash if the situation demands. I did used to tie this up with "Keep the enemy in their territory/out of your territory" objectives, but I realised that my decks were very geared towards one on one combat, and that the minute the game being three or four player I could hold one line but then someone else could attack from the opposite flank, and I had no hope of keeping my territory free unless I placed the very last board. So I tweaked the deck. With the above being what I need to do to score points, how do I intend to go about it?

Unlike most of my decks that feature as many ploys as legally permissible, I felt the sigmarines were worth investing in, as they were less likely to die swiftly and thus be a waste of an upgrade. As such I have a 12/8 upgrade/ploy split in this deck.

These broadly fit into three categories - keeping my guys alive, getting them to hit harder, and playing around with movement.

For the keeping them alive, I have Great Fortitude and Blessed by Sigmar (two ways to get +1W) as well as Soultrap ( a dice roll that might prevent someone from dying) a Brightshield specific upgrade that plets her take an action to put herself and all adjacent fighters on guard, and if all else fails, Army of One, a card that only works if you're the last surviving fighter, but does let you roll an extra dice in attack and defence. Now my overall plan is to spread the survivability out among my fighters, but if I have a bad start and lose someone early, I may instead switch focus into making one unkillable tank to sit on that one enemy objective for two consecutive turns and not bloody move.

To compliment these upgrades I have some ploys for survivability, I have the ubiquitous healing potion, Sigmarite Wall (puts two adjacent fighters on guard) Rebound (on a successful dice roll the attacker suffers his own damage not me) and Valiant Attack - which could be used offensively or defensively, to strip support from my presumably outnumbered warband.

For offence, I have some nice character upgrades. I can make Obryn inflict a point of damage to enemies adjacent to his target, which could be nice to finish off a hiding fighter. I can give my leader a ranged attack, always handy if he's the last man standing and wants some options. Plus I have a generic +1 damage that can go to anyone.

In damage dealing ploys I have the ability to make a second attack if a first attack fails, and a one off +1 damage for the next round.

Finally, movement and objective tricks, I have an upgrade for Brightshield that means she cannot be driven back, and in fact can push her attacker one hex - handy for those "don't let anyone stand near you/hold an objective for two consecutive turns" objectives. I can give my leader the ability to move one hex if an enemy ends his movement within two... so if someone wants to stand just out of range, I can step in for the kill. Or if someone scary looks ready to pummel my leader, I can get out of harms way. I could even use it to claim an objective I'd been pushed off. I can also give my leader a riposte, allowing him (on a successful dice roll) to not be pushed back at all and in fact to counter strike. Finally an upgrade that can be applied to anyone allows them to, instead of pushing an enemy, swap places with them. This doesn't sit too well with the whole adjacent/no enemies near tactic, but it could prove critical to getting the enemy objective for two consecutive turns.

Ploy cards for movement are an ability to push an enemy fighter one hex, or if I kill an enemy, push all adjacent fighters to my hero one hex. Handy for clearing my lines for those "have no one nearby" objective cards.

So that is my Sigmarine Deck. I can't say how well it plays yet, I'm only just dabbling in this game thus far, and trying to encourage greater participation at my local club. But if a scene for it develops around Portsmouth, I'd love to test my theories and see if they hold water. I will explore my other warbands in future, although I'm saving the skaven and dwarves till after I've played my friend - he reads this blog and hasn't even seen what comes in that box yet, it'd be rude to ruin the surprise for him ;)

Sigmarine Summary

Objectives
Alone in the Darkness
Consecrated Area
Crushing Force
Dauntless
Determined Defender
Immovable Object
Lightning Strikes
Perfect Planning
Plant a Standard
Seize Ground
Twilight Conqueror
Unbroken Wall

Upgrades
Army of One
Blessed by Sigmar
Block
Cunning Duellist
Fatal Riposte
Great Fortitude
Great Strength
Heroic Stride
Lightning Blade
Lightning Blast
Shield Bash
Soultrap

Ploys
Healing Potion
Peal of Thunder
Rebound
Righteous Zeal
Sigmarite Wall
Tireless Assault
Triumphant Roar
Valiant Attack