Sunday, 8 February 2015

Why I don't miss sixth edition...

So, today I took part in an apoc game, which our side lost (as I anticipated) and before this comes across as griping, might I say that I enjoyed the day overall. I am not saying it was a wasted day or that the host was wrong in his approach. He took steps to simplify the game so that the less experienced players could easily take part, and that is his right to do when he is hosting.

I just want to say it felt like a sixth ed apoc game... and revisiting the old style made me more appreciative of the new.

We all remember the old apoc style. Several turns of beating the crap out of each other followed by a last minute dash for the objectives. Well for this scenario we'd be playing with no objectives, just kill points... so while the last minute objective grab was out, the several turns of kicking the crap out of each other would be familiar. Now with three ork players (hordes of cheap easy kill models, that are cheap so you have plenty of them) against a primarily Space Marine opponent (so, fewer much harder to kill models that are more expensive) one of whom we knew had many knights to act as point sinks... This is why I was sceptical about our chances from the moment I got the scenario.  For example, I brought 31 units, if I remember correctly. My opponent on the flank I was driving down had 13. Five of these were knights, two were Land Raiders, and one was the hardly easily dispatched Logan Grimnar.

Yet again strength D proved to be too strong for my liking in this game, and when the enemy had 6 strength D shooting attacks per turn, 6 str D combat units, and 8 str D stomping units, against our paltry 2 str D combat/str D stomping units, we were most definitely outgunned in this department, as aptly demonstrated when the Stompa with a 4++ save and 10 hull points evaporated from a single salvo of ONE of the Eldar titans weapons. Far too many of the kill points our team gave away were from cheap characters that were trying to protect our flimsy vehicles... a 15 point mek to try to repair a hull point a turn on a 5+ seems a good idea, but when the Stompa blowing up means the 45 points of "unit" you had inside gifts the enemy as many points as the Stompa did, you aren't looking so clever after all.

Reducing this game to Kill Points also robbed the game of some of the tricky decisions. When you are winning in Strategic objective points by 5 to 3, you might consider sacrificing a point to activate a powerful strategic asset, but you may also decide it isn't worth the risk. When points are flowing so freely, sacrificing a point for an orbital bombardment is a no brainer. If that bombardment kills a single truk it has earned it's points back, any more is a bonus. The final score was 89-73 in the end I believe... do you think any of us would have balked at paying a point for a bombardment there? But if you are leading 5-3 going into the final turn, knowing that unless you get ridiculously lucky and cap either a super heavy or a warlord with that bombardment, you are definitely sacrificing points, then you need to weigh up the decision against what you hope to tactically achieve. If the strategic resource frees your warlord from a combat he is destined to lose, then by all means, that is worth it. If it's just to kill some enemy stuff in the back corner, well how much can they do anyway?

What I love about 7th edition is the move to Maelstrom games, which has you bouncing around from one tactical objective to another, rather than simply trying to steamroller your opponent. Apoc in this edition is similar... sure the objectives are fixed, but the fluidity of the battle may make you decide that one is easier to get than another, especially if you can All Out Attack a unit halfway across the board to intervene in a situation and stop an objective from falling into enemy hands. It is this tactical challenge that I missed today. It went back to being the old target priority game. What can kill me most? Right, kill that first. I had a unit of grots survive the entire game, something they rarely do in a game where they can sit on an objective and serve a purpose. In this game, they were beneath the attention of most people (the only casualties they took all game from when a basilisk shot missed it's target and hit them instead.)

Anyway, there were some highlights to the game for me. My meganobs charging a Stormlord turn 1 and annihilating it in one round of combat was fun. The survivors then charging across and having a go at an invisible warhound was entertaining too (damn invisibility, would have mullered it if that trick hadn't reduced me from 23/25 hits to 5!) Lysander then bounding in to save the titan was fun, the first round of combat going my way thanks to Ghaz 2++ save, but then the second round, invulnerable-less (and shanked for a couple of wounds by an Avatar of Khaine it has to be said) finished Ghaz off, but not before he could deal Lysander a death blow or two... Interrupting HIS finest hour, getting our team a bonus point, which admittedly was kinda lost in such a high scoring game... I also enjoyed my Big Mek flipping a Knight off the table (thankfully, otherwise the reactor overload would have likely ended him and his buddies!) and the inescapable ineptitude of one Imperial sniper who I'm pretty sure achieved NOTHING all game, despite having several chances where "ooh that guy is down to one wound, sniper him and finish him o... oh. you missed." It WAS an enjoyable day.

I just don't miss the old style. And anyone who wants to pine to me about the good old days, I'll be the first to set them straight.

Apart from templates and blasts hitting multiple floors of buildings. Yeah that one I don't know what GW were doing...

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Review of the Year - 2014

So once again I round up my record for the year against the usual markers to see how my year in wargaming has gone...

To start with, I have recorded fewer games this year than last, however past of that can be explained by the rise of X-Wing. This is a much quicker game where you may play a few skirmishes in a single evening, so I haven't been keeping track of it. I'd still class it as a solid evening of gaming nonetheless. Perhaps I shall record it next year, but we shall see.

Whilst I may have recorded fewer games, I have had a more balanced year. Last year I played 56 games, however 44 of them were 40k. This year I have only played 48 games, but by fluke have played exactly 24 of each system (well, I may have played a few more of either system, as I don't count multiplayer games in my record - just 1 vs 1 games where I can only blame myself and thus claim all the credit when things do go right)

Of last years 56 games, I won just over half (30) whilst losing 19 times and getting 7 draws. Despite playing only 48 this year, I have managed a solid 32 wins, so 75% victory rating. I got 11 losses and only 5 draws. These are split fairly evenly between 40k and fantasy, leaning ever so slightly in fantasys favour, but not much.

My best performing army was my Empire, but given it's the only fantasy army I played with all year throughout a long campaign that makes some sense. That army chalked up 17 victories, 5 defeats and 2 draws. As for 40k, that was split between my guard with 6 wins, plus 2 losses 2 draws, my Dark Eldar (a theme army I took on as a modelling project, took to a tournament, and promptly got spanked in) got a solitary win and 3 losses... credit where it's due though, that solitary win was in the playoff to avoid the wooden spoon, so they won when it mattered. Kinda. My Orks made up for my Dark Eldar, taking a solid 8 wins from 10 games, losing one and drawing one.

My best streak was 11 wins on the trot, in a 13 game undefeated streak that lasted over the summer. I couldn't put this down to one army though, as it was quite a mixed bag between campaign games, plus a few guard games and me starting to use the ork army that has been doing so well this year.

As for the games against my close friends Neil, Rich and Ken. Well surprisingly this year Ken was not the person I played least! Despite him living miles away. I played 5 games against Ken, winning two. Whereas I only played 4 against Rich, again winning 2. There were no draws against any of the three, so a fairly evenly matched year there. The same cannot be said for Neil. He kept challenging me in the campaign. I don't know why. I played him 8 times. I won 8 times. A lot of those were in the campaign, though there were a couple of 40k games too.

Overall, a decent amount of games played and a lot of fun had. A bloody good win loss ratio that is always gratifying, even if it isn't the primary goal of the hobby, let's be honest it's nice to win. I have no particular goals for next year, I don't know if my game count is likely to rise as I do wish to try out a few different game systems, and unless I decide to count them too... Tempting, but it would mean messing with the pattern established over several years of keeping track. Do I really want the extra work? Probably not, but no promises either way.

In the meantime, good luck to you all in the new year.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Chivalry Dost Live Yet...

The Ogre Tyrant manoeuvred his armies into the Elven lands. They had already seized the elven capitol, and were now pursuing the refugees. "I want blood, and an easy victory!" the ogre tyrant roared.

Some of the fleeing elves were captured by a small patrol of humans, and brought before their leader in the small encampment they had at Hanging Rock. They pleaded for their lives. They told their tale, of the Tyrant in search of an easy victory. They caught Old Man Ulric on a good day. Whilst he was on a quest to free his son from the clutches of the hated Lizard foe, he could not let the weak be ridden over in so roughshod a manner. To do so would mean that while he may find his son, he would sacrifice his honour to do so. Ulric wouldn't have that, and knew that, wherever he was, William would agree.

As the ogres advanced into the field where the elves had finally stopped running, they noticed the foe looked more numerous. Were those humies over to the right flank? Why was there steam rising from both flanks of the host before them? The ogre advance slowed to a crawl...

This mattered not to Ulric, as he spurred his horse towards the enemy. The elves followed his lead, and two mass forces of cavalry advanced towards the now stationary ogres. The elves seemed cautious, wary that the humans may not keep their word. Ulric rode with the confidence of righteousness. It probably helped that there were demigryph knights ready to pounce should anything attack his flanks, but that was for the benefit of his men. Ulric needed no such reassurances, as he had by this point become convinced of his own invincibility.

A large horde of ogres, lacking the comprehension to understand why their general was being so cautious all of a sudden, went charging after a lone human wizard on the left flank. As they crashed after him through the forest they ran straight into the Steam Tank that Ulric had loaned to the elves to bolster their flank. The Tank battened down the hatches and held the ogres there while the elven infantry, somewhat left behind by the cavalry advance, flanked the ogres and routed them.

The Steam Tank on Ulrics flank seemed to be having trouble brewing enough steam, and after an emergency vent the boiler remained stable, but the tank was still somewhat slower than usual and unable to aid Ulrics attack. It was no matter. Ulric and his hammers smashed through a mammoth creature, before charging into the Tyrant and his guard. They slaughtered the bodyguard, and the Tyrant turned to flee. Ulric and his knights were faster, and caught the rotund creature before he could make it two steps. They dragged the crying sobbing creature away from the field of battle. With Ulrics steadying influence occupied, some minor scuffles broke out between the elves and the rearguard of Ulrics army, but it was largely irrelevant. Ulric carried the field that day, and the elves were spared and allowed to escape, to regroup another day.

Ulric made camp in the lands of his victory. His horses needed rest, and it wasn't a bad position to perhaps raise a small holding to regroup and continue the search. He released the chastened tyrant, but not without extracting a suitable bounty from the Ogres Overlord. He also felt that the leaderless elves needed some help to regroup, so he ordered their Loremaster to be released from his dungeon. The grateful elves gifted a beautiful suit of armour to Ulric as thanks for his generosity. Ulric would stick with the tattered old armour he'd worn for the past 30 years - if Mrs Von Lichtenstein couldn't get him to change it, and her complaints were mostly down to the smell and the appearance, he'd be damned if some pointy ear would get him to change it now. But the gift was well received nonetheless, and placed in the armoury to await a suitable recipient.

To top the day off, a squire arrived with news from Roughguts. Sir William had been located. He was being held in a castle near the Marshes of Madness. Roughguts was amassing an army to attempt to free him.

"God Speed old friend" uttered Ulric "God Speed"

A gift from the ogres...

Monday, 20 October 2014

Growls in the Gatehouse

As Geheimnisnacht arrived, the armies forging Empires in the Badlands formed up. Bitter differences between man and Lizard were put aside, to stand alongside the ancient Elves and Dwarves against the horrors that stood against them. Warriors of Chaos, far from the north. Ogres from the East, and Dark Elves from the West. As the armies ranked up and eyed Fozzriks Gatehouse between them, vile vermin started to spew from the north, between the Elves and the Dwarves. Astounded to see the ratmen abroad above ground, the Dwarves turned most of their wrath from the men of Chaos and onto them. The Elves, with an allied force of Lizardmen to their left, did the same. The ratmen were swiftly dispatched, and the fulcrum they had debased was secured.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the battlefield, a mighty ruck had broken out between the men of the Empire and the ogres. However the narrow confines of the terrain, combined with a floating fortress and an uncooperative Steam Tank, left the enemies spending much of their time eyeing each other up as they champed at the bit waiting for their turn to fight.

With the forces of good dominating the winds of magic, mostly down to a combination of the Lizards Slaan controlling the casting, and the Dwarves using their knowledge to deny the enemy much power, the forces of good were in a solid position. The skaven had broken and fled, the ogres were being butchered to a (very fat) man, and the Dark Elves had not had chance to get out of their corner. The warriors of Chaos had turned the tide against the dwarf forces despatched to them, but with the skies darkening far too quickly, even for Geheimnisnacht, everyone felt trouble brewing.

At this point, a lone truthsayer took on a gamble and teleported into the Gatehouse. Exploring the (thankfully abandoned) building he found some treasures, but nothing more. Roughguts, knowing he would not be able to make it to the tower with the gathering stormclouds, left the truthsayer to his task, and set some ogre mournfang to rout.

Roughguts returned to the battlefield, and surveyed the scene. Sir Ulric and his hammers were going hell for leather against some Dark Elf knights, who seemed to have a very similar trinket on one of their heroes. No matter how many blows they struck against each other, they would shrug them off. The few that were felled with seemingly fatal blows soon got back up and back into the saddle. Crazy old Sir Ulric was having a smashing time, singing bawdy songs about rotund maidens whilst bashing his enemies brains out, several times in a row - Roughguts left him to it. Let the old man enjoy himself. But of the truthsayer who had teleported into the Gatehouse, no sign. Roughguts swooped across the battlefield, and found him hiding in some woods in the lee of the gatehouse. When asked why he had abandoned the fulcrum, the truthsayer just said "big, scary... nasty sharp pointy teeth..." and kept rocking back and forth in the foetal position. Roughguts sensed he would not get much more out of the man on this day, but from what had been said (and he had no reason to doubt the words, cryptic as they may have been) Roughguts held back from the tower.

As Morrsleib hung full, every surviving wizard on the battlefield felt a surge of power. The winds of magic flurried and swirled around the Gatehouse, as one of the very fabrics of magic was torn from the veil. The sky darkened still further, and the world felt chill. Roughguts sensed something epic had taken place, though he knew not where. The truthsayer stopped rocking, and softly breathed the words "He is Risen..."

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Try-It Table

As some of you may know, I run a small local wargaming group. Recently we had quite the surplus of club funds built up, and with adequate scenery I decided to splash out on some of the starter sets for other game systems, to try to broaden the clubs horizons at a time that GW felt a little stale.

Of course, shortly after that GW released Codex: Imperial Guard (no I won't use the new name) and Codex: Orks, plus kicked off the Fantasy End Times with my old favourite Nagash... so well done GW for reinvigorating my interest.

This does however leave several boxsets that haven't seen the love they deserve. With this in mind, I plan to run something in the new year, once I have finished running the Fantasy Badlands campaign, called the Try It Table. I will, each week, set one of the gaming tables aside to be solely used for "other" games. I intend to pick a game each week and either run it myself for any interested parties, or get someone who is into that game to do so.

I plan to start with X-Wing. I know this quite well, we have a few players who are into it, and between myself and my friend Rob we have enough rebels and imperials to run two games simultaneously. It's also a quick and easy game to get into, with plenty of well known background, and is very accessible.

We also have Dystopian Wars (which hasn't quite taken my fancy but we do have three players on that one) and Warmachine (again, not for me but we do have a few people who have played in the past and there is some base interest around the club.


Then it's onto the stuff that seems more of a gamble. Flames of War seems to be of interest to only two members thus far, though I am vaguely interested... though it has to be said I tend to window shop at Flames of War when GW feels stale to me, so right now with GW kicking out lots of shiny I'm not  paying flames much attention. At the bottom of the scale is Dropzone Commander. I've heard good things about this game, but so far I seem to be the only one to have shown any interest - though this isn't helped by me not exactly being able to explain how the game plays to anyone yet.

Now in anything like this it is always easiest to get people into it if you already have some people that know what they are talking about. With the earlier mentioned stuff we have that, so I don't see any problems there. With Flames we don't, but we did have a former Portsmouth resident drop in who seems to know his stuff, who kindly offered to run an intro game for us if he is ever in town visiting his folks when we meet - an offer I shall gratefully accept should it ever become available, though with real life obviously being a priority I won't hold the guy to that.

That leaves DZC as the ginger stepchild of the family - unloved, locked in the basement and fed nothing but fishheads from the one person who remembers they still exist.

The new year will be the new games time to shine. I know my club, it generally needs someone to make people get out of their usual habits and do something different. At the moment I have my hands full with the campaign, but that finishes just after Christmas. Then the Try-It Table will become a mainstay of Tuesdays. I'm confident on the early games. I'll give the rest a good go too though.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Enduring the Storm

With a Storm of Magic Loremaster game against Stephen and his High Elves, lead by his Loremaster, I knew we could get into a long game. So I made a plan and stuck to it. I decided to hit Stephen with an angry tree. Then hit him again. And again.

Basically this plan revolved around a Truthsayer with the Living Deadwood Staff. All forests were blood forests. They hit harder. And I could summon them, either with the staff itself or with the Life Cataclysm spell The Gardeners Warcry. I would then use whichever lore happened to bein ascendency (I had 5 level 1 wizards of various lores, meaning I had 6 of 8 lores covered) to throw a random hex at the target. Ok, that unit is -1 initiative... oh, and it gets hit by 4D6 str 7 hits. A minor afterthought...

My opponent on the other hand seemed list from one turn to the next as to what to do. At the end of the game I asked him, what was your plan before this game. He had none. Now I know no plan survives contact with the enemy but having one is better than having none. He complained that Storm of Magic was confusing with so many spells. I pointed out that I had just defeated him using only one Storm of Magic spell... plus a bound item that was practically the same spell. After that it was just regular spells to activate the forests I had just buried him in. I wonder how many other people have been overwhelmed by Storm of Magic for much the same reason. I like it as a game variation, and while I wouldn't want to play that way every week (some of the double miscasts can be utterly game changing, and thus there is more of a random element than a regular game) they are fun for variety from time to time.

Anyway, campaign wise this puts me up a couple more relics, and I am sat on Steves mine and his wizards tower. I'd like to expand my territory to take them, but I imagine he'll throw relics at me to keep hold of them, as the poor guy is swiftly running out of territory. I have a nice little empire tucked away, but with Neil suddenly emerging as runaway leader on mine count (and mines are the key to victory in this campaign) I think next turn I'll be running my armies full pelt north to try to steal some off him.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Ominous Signs

So, just to let you know, Stephen the newest Fantasy player at the club, who can barely buy a win in the campaign, beat me AGAIN. Now the first time, I could see it was a bad combo of a sneaky trick he had as a random event roll combined with the worst possible mission (playing lengthways down the table and several key parts of my enemy being forced into reserve) In the summer campaign game, he won by stealing the initiative. Literally. He'd placed a scouting unit next to my Helblaster. Ok I thought, that's some easy points turn 1. No, he seized. Now by the odds, that's still easy points turn 1. They have ten shots needing 3s followed by 6s. He got 7 hits. About average. He got 4 wounds. What the ACTUAL fuck?!? Dead helblaster. I figured I'd ignore the unit till his Bolt throwers were dead then turn something to deal with them. It took 5 turns of shooting by my three cannons to kill his three Bolt Throwers... And do bear in mind that two of the Bolt Throwers were killed by Bolts of Magic fired by one of my wizards, so ten cannon shots to kill one Bolt Thrower. Meanwhile that small skirmish unit chewed it's way along my line, eventually eating about 600 points of my army. In a game I lost 1200 to 1000 that is a big chunk.

Annoyingly, despite all that, I was still looking at pulling off a win as I'd got my knights into a slugging match in the middle. His ward save was mostly keeping him alive, so I was slowly chewing through him, but my armour save was deflecting nearly all of his hits. Until his wizard miscast. The wizard that was in the front rank and had flukily survived several punishing blows from great weapons due to his sodding ward save. He miscast big, putting a large template on his head at Str 10. For his infantry with a 3+ ward, painful but not devastating. For my knights however... It took them all out. The few wounds that went into the surviving characters for the remainder of the game took out the BSB. Were it not for the explosion (which didn't even have the good grace to kill the sodding wizard, I had to do that myself eventually) the BSB and the unit would have survived the game, meaning I'd have lost about 400 less points than I did... enough for a victory again.

So in summary, my opponent beat me by rolling a 6, followed by four 6s, and then a double 6 followed by a double 1. Motherfucker...

However, I am set for Revenge. I had told my opponent I would be heading for the mine he nicked off me to regain it. But then the flying fortress passed over, and I didn't fancy sending my cavalry army (which only has a couple level 2s) into a Storm of Magic game. So I turned away from my mine he captured, and have gone to try to steal his mine instead. The mine he had captured from me duly collapsed. Because he rolled a 1. Karma for you right there motherfucker... :-P

In the fight we have lined up, I get to force some of his units into reserve, so a fitting revenge. However he does get to pick the scenario. To make sure he doesn't get too much advantage from this, I have committed an extra 500 points to the battle. That should hopefully do the trick. Unfortunately I shall have to include some infantry, as it is almost inevitable he will go for the Watchtower against my cavalry based army. I shall just have to make sure I include a small unit of something else, so that if I get the win and get a regiment of reknown again, I don't end up stuck with a large block of infantry in the middle of a cavalry army, like I did until Stephen was gracious enough to beat me the other week (one of the few upsides of the whole affair, losing that sodding regiment)

Overall in the campaign The Dwarf player is still steaming ahead in relics, one of the Dark Elf players is on about half what he is on (and that's second place) while Everyone else has between 9 and 11. That's made things very interesting as we enter Autumn...