Sunday, 31 December 2017

Review of the Year - 2017

So here we come once again to the time to look back over a year of hobby progress... and from a hobby point of view, there certainly has been plenty...

I've clocked in a personal best 585 on my painting points tally... I was considering trying to break the 600 mark by finishing up some Brimstone Horrors this afternoon, but the spray undercoat I used has obscured some of the detail and I'm not really happy with how they are progressing, I think I will probably fairy power spray them and try again, or perhaps get some more instead. Either way, not really one to use to set a record - "oh how did you get past 600?" "Er... some dudes that were so bad I stripped them to be repainted..." nah.

I'll settle for my 585 it's still a record, plus it keeps my turnout in the 500-600 range, if I break 600 I'm putting more pressure on to break it next year, whereas if I settle for 585 then all I will feel the need to aim for next year is 500 or more... slightly more manageable aspirations.

As for the games statistics, well I didn't get too many games in, being distracted by stuff I don't record for years end like Bloodbowl games (won more than I lost and sneaked the final to win our league, against a guy who'd beat me every time I'd played him previously) and x-wing. But I managed to get in 30 games of 40k overall.

It wasn't a great year, 14 losses, 2 draws, 13 wins and one result that... well I won on maelstrom, he won on kp,, he won on combined score, but it was a test game for a tournament that only counts your points not who won/lost so... yeah fuck knows what to call that one :P

On the flip side... there was a noticeable flip. I lost two thirds of the games with my orks early in the year, then 8th dropped, and I won two thirds of my games. I still think they need some work and a codex, but it was certainly an improvement, and I look forward to chapter approved changes making them even more effective, if only for the points saving on power klaws...

The usual suspects... I played Ken twice (won one lost one) I played Rich four times (won three lost one) and I played Neil twice (won one lost one) which is both a rather low number and also quite possibly the first time Neil has beaten me at 40k in years. Damn him for taking the chance to give my deathwatch a kicking in that upheaval when I was still looking at 8th... new ruleset for a new army that turns out to be badly in need of a codex to help it out especially when compared to stuff that had their own codex - like his chaos marines do. Yeah, he got me. He also finally beat me at a game of Star Wars: Rebellion (I'd figured out where the base was, but also that I couldn't reach it... I ALMOST spooked him into moving his base, because the only places he could move to, I could reach all simultaneously, in time... but at the last second he spotted that he was actually safe and rescinded the move order, and just waited out the last couple gameturns going "nayh-nyah-nyah-na-na-nah" or the galactic cantina equivalent...) So a good year for Neil at least.

I haven't played too much with my guard yet mainly because after my codex came out I annihilated my friend Rob in such short order it sent shockwaves around the club and people are refusing to play my guard... hence I've been playing more shadespire of late.

Looking forward to 2017, I'm going to start the second season of our bloodbowl league, I also have a couple of xwing challenges to look forward to, and whilst the Tale has been postponed till the summer, I will still be painting up my Tzeentch stuff because I've been waiting ages to do so and the codex is imminent so I'm gonna do it and pick a different army for the tale... maybe more orks. again. :P

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Tale Postponed

Sadly due to heavy work commitments on the part of one of the participants we shall be postponing our Tale of Four Gamers till August.

As I had been gearing up to paint my tzeentch forces I am going to continue as planned with those, and pick a new force for the Tale come August. It means the narrative I had been planning will not come to pass, which is a shame, but I had been counting down the days to making a start on this... I don't want to go from 3 to go to having 245 to go...

So we will come back to the Tale, and there will be some Tzeentch updates, but it will probably be from a purely hobby perspective rather than the full story/challenge.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Shadespire - Painted

A nice little side project, I got some paint on the Shadespire models.

This cool little skirmish game caught me by surprise, I'm not normally one for small scale skirmish stuff, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and have bought into it.

It has four wargames so far, I assume more are on the way - there are another four mentioned in the rulebook at least...

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Spring in Winter

Well... my window box is blooming marvellously for the time of year...

In case it isn't clear, I took to blu-tacking models to a piece of pipe for easy undercoating (well, where possible, doesn't work with tanks) a while back... but with inclement weather of late spray painting opportunities have been few and far between, and the time to leave them outside to air a bit even less so. Thus I came up with the above. A plant pot thing full of sand. Several lengths of pipe. Do in a big batch then leave on the windowledge to air. Hope no comic book (beano/dandy, not marvel/dc) characters pop by and steal them.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Unexpected Consequences

The law of unintended consequences came to fruition today, here in the New Revolutionary States, as the revolutionary leaders aim to truly drain the swamp did not take into account the drastic drop in the average human IQ over the past half century. Full of verve and revolutionary vigour, the young leaders words were taken to heart down here in Florida, and after several failed attempts to literally drain the swampland, they napalmed it instead, destroying a precious ecosystem that has been intact for thousands of years. Greenpeace were the first to attack the new leader, whose supporters, nicknamed the pinkos thanks to their colourful attire, have proven to be an effervescent if somewhat unreliable base.

"When they started with those pink knitted p...p... I can't say this can I? ok, pink knitted hats, we thoroughly supported them, little realising where this path would eventually lead" expressed a spokesman for Greenpeace "The fact that this beautiful garden has been destroyed is most displeasing, and we can all be assured that Grandfather shall not approve." After this rather cryptic message the spokesman popped a spot and was carefully examining the excretion, and seemed to be about to taste it when the camera feed thankfully cut elsewhere.

Breaking news, the leader has issued a statement that the destruction of the everglades is all part of a grand design and whilst we may not see it, rest assured it is all part of the plan.

Monday, 11 December 2017

It Begins...

Deep in the mists of time, in a period long forgotten by imperial records, and remembered only by the emperor himself, a revolution quietly brews. There are utterances of dissent, but not too many, for those who speak loudly of their distrust in their betters soon find life rather more difficult, to say the least. All that is left is those who utter quietly, who utter discreetly, and look for a leader... one who can shout what they merely utter, one who can shout it to a crowd of true believers, and hope that none of them will run and tell the authorities of what has been shouted, that should barely have been uttered.

One young man thinks, hopes, that he can be that leader. He is nervous. He is about to go out and speak, publicly, words that could mean the end of him. Or the beginning of something greater. It is a high wire act without the safety net, with the added distraction of someone throwing things at you while you try to impress the onlookers below.

They meet in a dusty old bar on East 47th street. He has a quiet room out back. As far as the authorities are aware, it is used for illicit gambling, which they don't particularly mind. If they knew that the gathering tonight was gambling not with chips or rations, but with their lives and freedoms, then they would certainly intervene. The room is full, with close to fifty people crammed into the tight confines. There are more out there, but these are the bravest. If he can convince these, they will head forth and spread his message to the even more cowed and wary, and start to develop a groundswell of support. All revolutions start somewhere. This one would begin, or end, with this speech.

"Broth..cough..." he cleared his throat nervously "Brothers and sisters, thank you for gathering to hear me today. I know it is dangerous for us to gather like this... but I remember a time when that was not so. As do you. I remember a time when we openly mocked our overlords. I remember a time when we thought that he would never survive his first year in office. But he did. All the things we thought would bring him down, they all failed us."

There were general murmurings of agreement from the audience, so he decided to continue on this vein to build a rapport with the crowd "We thought the special investigator would get him, but he pardoned himself. We talked of emoluments, but the party backed him. We thought they'd impeach him, but he disbanded the senate. We thought the term limit might get him, but he changed the law. We thought the voters would turn, but he gerrymandered to the point that he only needed 1 in 5 votes to stay in power and he could buy those... that was back when he still allowed votes! Remember those days?" A few mocking laughs from the crowd showed most of the people to be older than the speaker... although there were a fair few with the rueful look of those who have only ever heard of voting and never participated "We thought that there may come a change when his own sons tried to seize power, but if anything that made him angrier still... who'd have thought anyone would nuke one of their own cities just to kill their own children?"

Calming from his list of injustices, the speaker paused... "But now finally, we have that which all men fear... time. Time caught up with him eventually. It's been 29 years, and finally the seat of power is vacant. Who shall take over is still to be seen, although the mysterious death in his sleep of his son in law within 24 hours of our overlords demise should serve as indication that his daughter is not going to be much kinder to us than he was..."

"Nevertheless, the time to strike is now. We must seize this opportunity, before she can get her claws in and make this an official dynasty. The moment the crown passes from father to daughter we become a dynasty for who knows how many murderous generations. This is our last chance to remind people that the rule of this land should be decided by the will of the people of it."

"I was but a boy when we last had a true democracy, but I remember him well. He promised so much change, and while he didn't manage to deliver as much as we'd hoped, by the gods he tried, and when his time was up, he left gracefully. Who would ever think we would remark on that as being a rare quality. He may have been in charge for a mere eight years, but he left his mark on me... the mark of change... I believe in change, I want change we can believe in, and we need change now more than ever!"

His soaring rhetoric had lifted the crowd, he could see this, but they were still timid... finally, one stepped forward... "What you say has merit buddy, but what chance do we have? Between the Army, the feds that swear loyalty to him, the cops that shoot on sight, the second amendment militia on their patriotism patrols... hell, he's even got the church to sign off on him. Those fuckers have god on their side! What do we got?"

"They have one god on their side" admitted the speaker "But there are others..."

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Restarting the Revolution: How to run the grot rebellion under the new codex?

Some time ago I started on a grot revolutionary army, heavily inspired by Soviet Russia. Down with the nobility, down with the boyzoirse and all that jazz. I have painted all the infantry in a simple colour scheme with barely any individualism at all, which I am happy with, and have assembled and undercoated 4 of the 6 vehicles.

The original 2000 point list was basically:

Yarrick, as the revolutionary leader. His heroism and hatred of orks made for the perfect grot rebellion leader.

A commissar lord and two commissars - other true believers to help keep discipline.

2 full size infantry platoons - as in command squad, 5 squads, each with a lascannon.

3 manicures (designed to look like katyusha rocket trucks)

3 deathstrike launchers (designed to look like topol icbm vehicles)

Now I haven't yet reassessed the points, I know my infantry costs will have dropped by a couple hundred points, but my vehicles are probably more expensive, so it may balance out. Model wise the vehicles and commissars are set, I have 10 lascannon, I have 94 basic guardsmen, I have 18 that can be used as squad sergeants/veterans/officers (no special weapons though) and one regimental standard. So I have a little wriggle room, but not a great deal. The question becomes, what doctrines best suit these revolutionaries?

I have three front runners, and I'll run through my reasons, in fluff, orders, strategums, and doctrines.

Strangely I have not included armageddon on this short list... I now it is where Yarrick is best known, but he isn't confined to it, he is a commissar after all, and the style of their warfare (mechanised) didn't suit the poorly equipped rebellion look of the army.

I have also disregarded Catachan ... they don't like commissars and, I'm using grots for guardsmen, I'm not gonna try and say they're strength 4... :P

Contender 1: Mordians.

Fluff wise, there's not a lot going for these guys and the theme.

Orders, the mordian order allowing rapid fire weapons to target characters that are not the closest could certainly fit with the theme of targeting the nobility rather than the proletariat.

Strategums, the volley fire order would certainly be useful for an army toting so many lasguns... sheer volume of fire and "quantity has a quality all of it's own"

 Doctrines, models in base to base have +1 leadership and improved overwatch. This fits nicely with the well drilled, backing each other up, sheer volume of fire ethos I've been going for here.

Contender 2: Valhallans

Fluff wise, they hate orks. Boom, score one straight away. Life is also cheap on valhalla, and life is cheap for grots, so we're looking very good here.

Orders, following up on the life is cheap background, you can shoot at units that are engaged with your units, do you do risk harming said units. Oh well. This fits in nicely with the brutal life expectation in the source material of both grots and the soviets.

Strategums, another wave of a troop unit that has died. Now admittedly, this would be better with a good quality unit or possibly a large mob of conscripts, but I could certainly write the latter into the list if the need arises. This again fits very well with the style of the army.

Doctrines, less casualties to moral checks - when I first looked at this, I felt it was pointless given the prevalence of commissars in this army. Then they changed how they work, and suddenly this grim resolve looks a lot more tactically useful to me.

Contender 3: vostroyans

Fluff wise, well the models clearly look like they are inspired by the same source as my own army, and the background of them being from a forge world fits with the background of the planet my grot revolution took place on.

Orders, firing into someone who has assaulted my unit at point blank range sounds fun, although I struggle to find a link for it to my theme apart from sheer desperation.

Strategums, similarly, adding +1 to hit to a unit is nice, but the pride in themselves for overthrowing the boyzoirse is a tenuous link at best with this theme.

Doctrines, heirloom weapons... I simply like this because of the fact the bulk of my force is made up of very classic gretchin from a very old 40k set, and it tickles me to count these antique models as being equipped with heirloom weapons...

By the looks of it we have a clear winner here, the only doubt I had about the Valhallans at first codex reading having now been overturned by the commissar neutering faq. It's not set in stone yet so if anyone thinks I'm wrong and wants to convince me please do. It'll be a while before I get the rest of those vehicles down anyway, 2 of the remaining unassembled ones are essentially scratch builds, copying the prototype made from bits, plasticised, a deodorant can and a toilet roll tube... they've been low on my to-do list for a loooooong time...

I'll knock up a list at some point.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

It's For Your Own Good! A History of the Imperial Commissariat

Unless you live under a rock (or, perhaps, don't play 40k... but if the latter why the hell are you reading this blog anyway?) you will know that Commissars have been much discussed of late. Having been recently nerfed, there is a debate raging about whether things have gone too far. But before I put my two cents in on this, I thought I would explore back through the history of commissars, to see what their long-standing influence has been, to best gauge whether they have been nerfed too much compared to what they used to do. From my own recollections, their role has changed greatly over the years, but I went through my codex history taking some pictures to back my thoughts up.

So first up a blast from before my past - I never used this guard codex, it is actually from before I played 40k, I only have it because someone was throwing out some (very) old books and I took it to have a bit of a look at what things were like before I joined up, laced my boots, popped my imperial primer in my breast pocket and hefted my lasgun to face the enemies of our glorious emperor...

Looking at this they started with a very simple role, hopping around from squad to squad providing a morale boost in key areas. I couldn't find anything in the rules regarding summary execution, jus the morale boost. For no downside whatsoever! They didn't do much, but they had no drawbacks.

My own induction to the guard came with this codex in particular, although of course it was alongside the standard guard codex. I can't seem to locate my standard codex of this era, I think it was more used and didn't survive (damn paperbacks) as I was catachan about half the time, but whether catachan or not I needed the standard codex.

I do remember the basic rules at this time. They had a LD of 10, compared to most officers 8, maybe 9. And at the first failed morale test, they'd execute the guy in charge, and retest on their, better leadership. This lead to a deliberate playstyle at the time of giving officers absolutely no equipment, seeing the unit fail the morale test and going "oh, no... right, commissar takes command, you've just made my army better." As at the time most guard units could test on the leadership of a nearby officer, it was a welcome change to see the commissar step up. This is where he started to have an impact beyond his immediate squad.

I did always love this particular special rule for catachan armies, and was pleased to see it at least mentioned in the fluff in the latest army book.

So in this edition, the commissar was absolutely useless... until you failed that morale check. Then he made the squad better than it was under the officer, and if in a command squad the surrounding squads too. This strange state of affairs lead to opponents either hitting the commissars squad very hard to make sure to take it all the way out, no morale test... or just focus on hitting other aspects of the army and watch as an increasingly frustrated commissar sat on the bench grumbling how he could do far better if only they'd force his commander to take a morale test...

Next we have a codex I have a great deal of love for - the skills and doctrines codex. Having lost my independent catachan codex, I could at least still fashion something similar with the traits and drawbacks system.

This also radically changed the usage of the commissar for me. First off, a commissar now provided a benefit before taking over command - a nice leadership bonus to represent his focusing of the officers attention. Tied in with leadership value being communicated down vox lines, it was not uncommon to have an entire Leadership 10 guard army. I remember frequent arguments with friends... "There is a dread daemon prince towering over them, why don't they flee?!?" "Well, there's a guy on a walkie talkie saying that he'll shoot their commander if the commander tries to run away, so they should probably just follow his example..." This was a massive boost for the entire army, and if someone tried to break the lynchpin by gunning for the command squad, I could usually set it up to be well hidden, resilient, and if they DID force a morale check... up steps the commissar to take command...

In this edition voxes were reworked (boo!) to being related to the new orders system, rather than a leadership boost. Which massively changed commissars role once again. No longer there to provide a bulwark of leadership for an entire army, they could now provide a short range aura effect (for lords) which not only helped with morale, but also with orders. Vox links gave squads rerolls on orders, but those lovely heavy weapon squads couldn't take a vox. What's a guy to do? On leadership 7 they'll fail the order half the time. Go stand a commissar lord in the nest of heavy weapon teams, and just watch how clearly they receive your instructions now. It's like he is a locus of calm, softening the sounds of battle to make your officers voice a clarion call...

The summary execution rule was still there to hit the highest leadership ability, and I do remember a funny tale from this time as a friend played Creed, Yarrick and Nork in one uber squad... an uber squad that failed a morale test. So Yarrick shot Creed. Nork then beat Yarrick to death. The unit then failed the reroll and ran away anyway. Three heroes of the imperium lost in one bad afternoon...

We then came to the first Astra Milita-fuckit... last guard codex before the age of indices. In this one the commissar became less focussed on killing the officer core and you had a degree of choice over who he shot. There was still the chance your opponent could have him execute the sergeant (or a special weapon trooper if he wanted to be extra cruel, the gun costs more than any guardsman) but we are back to a shooting meaning a passed test as opposed to a reroll. The Lords also still have their aura, but have lost the effect on orders.

This brings us to the index and codex, which gave us the much maligned "shoot one pass the test"

Now I can see both why this was thought characterful, and also some problems. Shooting one guy to pass the test was, by this point, well established as part of how commissars work. However, that had always, to that point, been for THEIR squad. There was even a brief time when commissar lords were IC and basic commissars were squad upgrades, like sergeants. In this age of aura effects and characters not joining squads, a single dude being able to provide such coverage to so many units was probably a bit too effective.

I can also understand why they've tried to alter it. Shoot a guy, get a reroll does have historical precedent, AND the caveat of "the first time" means he only effects one squad. So I guess he can be insurance for a couple but he can only work on one.

The problem with this, is that in prior times of reroll, there was always a chance to pass. Whether that be trying to pass on HIS leadership which was better than the recently deceased officers, or even when you've taken an absolute hiding and need a double 1 to pass, that slim possibility. But now we are in an era where sometimes, morale checks simply cannot be passed. If a unit of 20 conscripts takes 8 casualties, their leadership of 4 means they are losing some more regardless. I'm hoping for a 1, and I get it... but because there is a commissar nearby, I MUST execute a guy, then reroll... let's say I roll a 6. I have gone from losing 5 more guys, leaving me on 7 (not great but potentially still useful) to losing 10 more guys, plus the one I shot, leaving me on 1 survivor. The commissar should NOT cause an outright panic like that, that is precisely what he is supposed to prevent.

How would I fix it? One of several ways.

Option 1, make it a choice. The commissar can choose to intervene with one squad per turn, but he has to decide before they roll for the morale. That way I can avoid wasting him on a lost cause.

Option 2, Have an improved roll. Whether it be "first squad per turn" or a chosen squad, the unit that the commissar "helps" rolls a D3 for the morale test. This means that even in the case of the "can't hope to pass" he could still prove useful in stemming the tide of fleeing troopers.

Option 3, give him a drawback. Let him keep his trigger happy ways where he makes a squad auto pass, but there is a downside. Each time he does so, roll a dice... on a 1, the squad decides "frak this" kills the commissar and the original morale test stands. People may be more receptive to him being effective if there was an obvious drawback... force enough morale tests near him and pretty soon the trigger happy son-of-a-bitch will find himself the victim of a friendly fire accident.

Sadly, with the FAQ recently out, I can't see them changing course on that one again any time soon, so sadly commissars will not be a feature of many of my armies. For my catachans that makes little difference, I had deliberately taken none in my catachan lists so far simply for fluff reasons. It is a little annoying for my "Grot Revolution" as this is a soviet style guard army that is lead by Yarrick and has several commissars. But I still have to work out how that list works in 8th edition anyway, so I'm sure I can tinker around and find something to do with them.

Anyway, that's my two cents on the commissar debate, let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

It's close to miiiiiiiidddnight...

So a couple of months ago I mentioned a Halloween scenario and, by complete co-incidence, last night I ran it...

Now this was originally from 4th or possibly 5th edition, so I had to do a fair amount of work to bring it up to date, and I didn't have time to playtest, so just winged it. So, now the game is done, what feedback can I give?

Well, the zombies won, so it was probably a little too difficult.

The zombies armour save of 5+ followed by the resilient save has not modified well. It was based on their 5+ armour and FNP of 5+ from several editions ago. Of course in that time there were many weapons (flamers/bolters etc) that would completely bypass that armour save, something less common now. There were also ways to bypass the FNP roll, by using power weapons or double the toughness of the target. Of course FNP doesn't exist any more and I borrowed from plaguebearers in my design and perhaps it was a bit too much (although plaguebearers with a 5++ followed by disgustingly resilient will prove to be a real problem to shift)

The consensus on the table was a 6+ save would have been more suited.

World War Z-zombies - I increased the speed of the zombies from an original 2D6 per turn to 3D6 per turn. The 2D6 was set at a time when most units could move 6, then run D6 or assault 6. Very few could run and assault. So the chances were that the zombies on 2D6 would keep up. Now though, you can move about 6" (varies from race to race) advance D6 and while you then usually can't assault, some units can... and if you chose not to advance, you can assault 2D6. That's about 18" per turn potentially, and I felt the zombies needed a bit of a helping hand keeping up, so I gave them an extra D6.

Now admittedly, I couldn't have known that I was gonna roll less than 12 on only about 4 occasions, the two occasions I rolled a collective 4 everyone breathing a sigh of relief and making a break for it... it's a random dice roll. I still think that with the speed of certain units, the 3D6 isn't too much, unless I acted in some way to slow the speed potential of certain units down.

Speaking of which, jump infantry. On original design spec they'd have been disallowed under the "infantry only" rule but now they count as infantry, but with the "fly" keyword. I hadn't anticipated this when designing the rules and only noticed it when picking a team on the day, so I took a squad of 9 stormboyz. This lot could move 12, advance D6, then assault 2D6 (taking mortal wounds for everyone who rolls a 1, costing me a third of my squad on my first charge) orks being able to innately reroll one of their charge dice. This unit could potentially reach the choppa in 2 turns, it was unreal. Luckily for the game, I played it in character. The boyz went hell for leather down the middle making as much noise as possible creating a mass brawl within sight of the choppa. They were all dragged down and turned... leaving a massive herd of zombies in everyone elses path. They all loved that...

On a second attempt I took someone elses suggestion and flew to the top of a high rise building, and then just hopped from rooftop to rooftop, leading a small band of zombies up one building, then back down and up the next, then back down and up the next, as I stepping stoned my way to the choppa. This was way too powerful a tactic, and if I hadn't lost some of my orks after getting stuck in a brawl (a brawl I entered to rid myself of the ork boy tagalong I had "won" slowing my pace and crippling my tactic) I could have beat the end boss and won, instead I got bogged down fighting him and the following back caught up, swamping me once again.

That was clearly too good a strategy. However I am loathe to outlaw the "fly" keyword as that hits a large proportion of tau stuff, which hardly seems fair. Although the swooping hawks pull back and redeploy rule definitely needs stopping. I think the best case would next time not to be crossing a city, but leaving a 40k shopping mall. Necromunda style scenery, nothing higher than one level above street level. Have a doorway to the parking lot where the choppa is waiting. but assume anything before that doorway has a roof, so while you can get up a level quickly, you can't fly high and away. That would stop the sneaky swooping hawks, and mean that while you could gain a few inches safety from the zombies, you wouldn't be able to put yourself 12" of vertical movement away from them.

Ironically the boss zombie himself could probably do with being a little tougher. My 5 boyz almost had him, if the full squad of 9 had hit probably would have.

The powerups could do with a little clearer wording... the chainsaw seems OP unless we say it's one attack only. No you can't ducttape a chainsaw. stuff like that. Also, with the option to ALWAYS take the blue shell unless spawning, and if you're last you can add 1 to the roll, it seems zombie bile would NEVER take effect unless you rolled a double 1 in first place... and even then, you'd probably be better off taking the blue shell rather than the bile. Maybe incorporate the blue shell into the list and just let the bad times roll around every now and again.

All in all though, despite the fact no one won, and we eventually called it a zombie win, much fun was still had. With a few tweaks there is still potential for this scenario. Maybe next year...

But in the meantime...

No one's gonna save you from the beast about to strike...

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Dabbling with side projects and Breaking records

Well, personal ones anyway...

I am planning a new army in the new year to be run as part of a Tale of Four Gamers, so in the meantime I have been putting odds and ends on my paintdesk to keep the painting bug chugging along...

Most recently I painted up the figures from Assassinoruim: execution force. Now this is a beautiful game, it has lovely components, there are four gorgeous assassin models, plus some models for a small chaos warband that are I suppose a little blocky but what the hell for this kind of box kit who cares.

The only problem I found with this game, was it was rather easy to beat. I was playing solo, to get the gist of the game to later explain to friends, and by doing all the sneaky sneaky creepy creepy... I managed to kill the chaos lord in half the allowed time without even taking a wound. Dafuq?

So I played again going he'll for leather pretty much trying to cause as much of a ruckus as possible... still won, though at least I lost an assassin this time (detonating the eversor to kill the chaos lord)

It was still rather easy.

So I then tried it with two friends who know nothing of 40k. I watched over them, doing the bad guy moves and answering any questions they had on what they "can" do, but I never told them what they "should" do, hell I didn't even layout all the things they "could" do, I mostly sat and observed. They managed to complete the mission, but at the cost of two assassins and a lot closer to the end of the clock. And they thoroughly enjoyed it.

So I think this game you need 4 players, preferably with no knowledge of 40k, and to give them an assassin each and tell them that while they all work together and they can't target each other, the TRUE champion of the day will be the one who claims the chaos Lords head. By engineering a feeling of competition it may make the mission more challenging to complete.

Anyway, was an interesting quick job to build and paint these guys, and I am happy to say there were enough models in the set to take my painting points score to it's highest ever level for a single year. Nice to have the time to get some painting done, and with a couple months left there's still room for more, although the busy Christmas period is fast approaching which may eat into my free time somewhat.

One other minor bugbear with this game... now that he's built I can't fit the sodding chaos lord back into the box! Should have magnetised his arms. Bah!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Back to my Roots

As the name of this blog may suggest, I was once a guard player, although it may be hard to imagine given the amount of Orks I have done of late,but it's true.

Last night I dug out the old guard to try out their new codex. What can I say... ouch!

Having heard that conscripts and cheap smite spam are the way to go according to the tournament scene, I wanted to avoid that route entirely. I also wanted to take a fully painted army for my inaugural game (much harder with my guard than Orks, for one the guard were always my played with army, so I have a lot that was speedily built with no consideration of later painting practicality, two it was from an earlier time, meaning a lot of what is painted is... of a quality that wouldn't make my display shelf to say the least. Plus it's spread across different colour schemes, styles, model and paint ranges. I have two styles of Cadians and about three styles of Catachans, which while I have a plan to broadly bring into one colour scheme, will take quite some time...

So I started off with taking a Catachan regiment, because they're who I started with. Their benefit is +1 str on infantry, which is fantastic and fluffy and suits catachan units down to the ground - when I first started playing it was catachans, the infantry was WS4, I played combat guard... it didn't work very well, but occasionally would pull off a surprise or two as a Hive Tyrant recoils as the puny humans run towards it... think it died of shock more than anything else...

However, the other part of the doctrine is that veicles can reroll 1D6 for their random number of shots. Which makes tanks awesome. Which bugs me. We shouldn't make tanks awesome for Catachans. They were always the footsloggers. If this same rule had, instead of applying to vehicles, applied to infantry and sentinals, it would have made their mortars and flamers/heavy flamers more effective, which would have suited the style of the army background perfectly.

Instead it makes tanks stronger, possibly too strong if last night game is anything to go by.

So, playing to the cards I'd been dealt, I built a Catachan mechanised company of sorts. two pairs of wyverns for fire support, a tank commander in demolisher, 4 basic squads with flamers in chimeras, a squadron of 3 leman russ. a company commander with kurovs aquilla. Had some spare points so upgraded the second company commander to Straken. Took a Hellhound too. And to round things out took 2 astropaths (what else are you gonna do with a spare 35 points?)

I was up against Robbie Guillemon leading Ultramarines (for a change) the army consisted broadly of Robbie, dread, big dread, devastator squad with 4 grav cannon (combat squaded, 2 in each) 2 primaris troop squads, primaris plasmagun squad, 10 reavers, a tactical squad (combat squaded) a librarian, captain and lieutenant.

I had the first turn. Now I will say that I was rolling pretty hot... each time I rolled a 1 for number of shots and used the Catachan reroll ability I invariably got 6 shots instead... but even so...

My opponent wanted to hand me the game before I'd finished my first shooting phase.

In that phase, I had killed both halves of the devastator squad, all the plasmaguns, one of the primaris squads, and half the tactical marines. He had the dreads and characters that could kill my tanks in combat, and a lascannon and a metlagun, but other than that he had very little left that had a realistic chance of hurting me, and he had a long walk ahead of him.

Having no other models with me, I offered an instant rematch, perhaps letting him change his army if he had anything, or at the very least going into the storeroom for more line of sight blocking scenery, but he gamely decided to carry on regardless.

Now at this point, I eased up because jesus after that who wants to completely crush someone. He'd forgotten to take his morale tests for his survivors, but I let it go. And tactically my gameplan had been to slowly retreat the leman russes (at half speed) while maintain a punishing volley of fire from them, but under the circumstances I decided to hold position and let Robbie advance on me, as my second round of shooting saw off both dreads and a few straggling infantry. Even this worked in my favour. I'd managed to take one wound off Robbie. He charged my leman russes. Killed two. Jammed that flaming sword right into the fuel tank of one of them. Uh oh. Boom. Took three mortal wounds off him. No matter, on he goes, and next turn charges the wyvern that had been causing him such grief. Jammed that flaming sword right into that fuel ta... uh oh. Boom. Three more mortal wounds from Robbie. Took his last wounds in overwatch from the other wyvern. He then got up (we're not sure if he could, because he'd used a CP reroll on his failed armour save, unsuccessfully, and his get back up is at the end of the phase, so technically that means same phase so it can't be used right? Under the circumstances we allowed him to anyway, and he got back up with 3 wounds) The next turn he tried to charge the wyvern again, lost three wounds to overwatch fire, 2 of them from 3 shots from the Heavy Flamer. At the end of turn 5 he surrendered. He was down to two characters on a combined total of three wounds, was losing 19-6 on VP, and the next turn I could retreat my guardsmen from combat and lay into those characters with a demolisher and 3 wyverns. It wouldn't have ended well for them.

Actually, Drive me Closer, I want a Primarch to hit me with HIS sword seems the more effective strategy
I suppose I should do some more games before I pass judgement, but DAYUM that was brutal, too brutal. I stand by my original assessment that the rule, applied to infantry, would a) suit the fluff more and b) not be quite so devastating. Even just a mortar comparison. Being able to reroll 1D6 of 1D6 on a str 4 gun, meh no real harm. Being able to reroll the only 1 you rolled out of 4D6 that is str 4 and rerolls wounds, far worse. Getting a reroll on those str 5 heavy flamers on that sentinel is a different kettle of fish to getting a reroll on the amount of str10 BS3 (with an order to reroll 1s) demolisher cannon shots!

On the flip side, a little part of me did find it gratifying to bring that smug son of a bitch primarch down. For too long he's been marching around the battlefield singing "raindrops keep falling on my head..." as my mortars do absolutely nothing to him. I stand by him being too good, but now Guard tanks are too good, and while he basically killed himself this game (doing 6w out of 11 to himself) I can at least take away all those protective bodies that stop me targeting him in fairly short order...

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Bloodbowl: Ye Orkshire Rippers B-Team

I picked up a goblin team a while back, and decided to paint them up in the same colours as my orcs so the troll and a couple gobbos could be interchanged if I felt like it.

I also picked up the forge world special weapons, as they are gorgeous. The chainsaw wielding maniac has clearly seen too many horror movies, while the bombardier I think best embodies the Wile E Coyote nature of the goblin team...

Of course not all the special weapons are available yet, so I had to improvise for the pogoer and Ooligan... still trying to find a Doom diver that isn't eye-watering expensive, I will probably find one about a week before forgeworld release their own, far better versions, but hey ho...

And finally, I painted the box of goblins. It does give me far too many linemen, but in a team as fragile as goblins it probably can't hurt to have plenty of potential journeymen...

They give their looney a wide berth, even in the squad photo...

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Deathwatch... Basically Complete

In the past few weeks I've managed to get some painting done, finishing off the deathwatch infantry that I picked up as part of a joblot on ebay. I prioritised my list I had designed and will probably stick to that list for a while (at the very least till I get a sodding first turn to test my theory... yet weirdly, played my first game with guard last night, a 32 drop list, went first. Figures.)

Anyway, it was nice to finish the rest of the infantry off so that if I do want to play around with my list, I have some models that can seamlessly slot in without looking out of place as grey plastic.

Incidentally, I have no rhinos/razorbacks/land raiders/drop pods/dreadnaughts... and no intention to add any. Yes, these are key core elements to a space marine army. Which is precisely why I don't want them. Everyone has them. What few bikes, terminators and vanguard vets I have will almost exclusively be used as parts of a larger squad of basic vets, to enhance the squad with their abilities.

I would like to add more Corvus... I love the model, found it a joy to put together, and find it incredibly aesthetically pleasing. I want to get about four more, as I think that should theoretically provide sufficient transport to carry almost all of my infantry, so if I wanted to play a humongous game with my deathwatch, I could. But no rush on picking those up, I'm thinking of adding those over the next year or two, as don't think I'll be playing apoc any time soon... why run before you can walk in this new edition?

So, here is what I have at my disposal...

1 Watch Master
1 Captain Artemis
1 Chaplain
1 Librarian
1 Librarian in Terminator Armour
1 Character in Terminator Armour with Thunder Hammer and Stormshield

1 Terminator with Assault Cannon
1 Terminator with Heavy Flamer and meltafist
1 Terminator with cyclone launcher and pair of lightning claws
5 Terminators with Cyclone Launchers and Thunder Hammer/Stormshield

2 Bikes

2 Vanguard vets with pistols/combat weapons
1 Vanguard vet with lightning claws
1 Vanguard vet with stormshield and combat weapon
1 Vanguard vet with thunder hammer/stormshield
(potentially could use any of the above as a jump pack equipped character, the lightning claws being most likely)

2 Watch Sergeants with xenophase blades
(In other cases I may not equip the sergeant with anything special and just nominate a model, al vets can take pretty much what they like anyway so it does give some flexibility)

2 Black shields with Lightning claws
(As black shields have no personal markings, this is one of the few none-negotiable ones I have. The trouble with getting most of my stuff second hand, if the person who assembled it didn't know that they don't keep chapter symbols, then boom you've got no black shields)

1 Vet P Fist
10 Vets bolters
5 vets pistol/cc weapon
2 vets plasma pistols
1 vet combi melta
8 Vets Stormshields and close combat weapons
4 vets Infernus Heavy Bolters
5 Vets with deathwatch shotguns
6 Vets with deathwatch frag cannons
8 Vets with Missile Launchers
6 vets with Heavy Thunder Hammers

2 teleport Homers
2 Corvus with Assault cannons, deathwatch rockets, hurricane bolter and auspex array

I also have my Aliens themed side project I did a while back, unlocking an extra...

Corvus with assault cannon, deathwatch rockets, infernum halo launcher
3 Vets flamers
1 Vet Infernus Heavy bolter
1 vet with shotgun
2 vets with frag cannons
3 vets with boltguns
1 blackshield

And that's it, Deathwatch project, for the moment, complete.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Halloween Scenario

As this year the 31st of October falls on a Tuesday, my regular gaming club night, I decided to do something special, so I am bringing a scenario back, one that died several editions ago but I'm digging up and giving a burst of life to resurrect for our enjoyment...

I originally found this on a blog called Awakening Ynead, I have no idea if he's still blogging (or perhaps has renamed his blog given that Ynead is now, y'know, awake) so original credit goes that way, but hopefully I have updated it to work in 8th edition. I have tried to keep the original character as much as possible while abiding by the obvious changes to the ruleset.

Army Selection:

You have 75 points. There is no minimum requirement for squad sizes (so an Eldar player could take one Fire Dragon, one Striking Scorpion and so on). Only three of these can be "upgrade" characters, like a sergeant or an exarch, though that model may take an upgrades allowed without counting for further "upgrades." No more than two can have "upgrade weapons" such as a heavy or special weapon that isn't standard equipment. For example, a Space Marine player takes 3 Marines and a Scout. He can upgrade one into a sergeant with any weapons normally allowed, and two more can have special weapons normally allowed by their codex entry.

You may select team members from any Force Organization slot except HQ. Only infantry models may be selected.  No dedicated transports are allowed. You are not allowed to select anything with the “character” special rule.

All selected models form one squad. Your squad must remain in 2" coherency, and are treated as a single squad.

Setup and Objective

Set up the board with the normal amount of terrain for a 40k game.  Ruins and graveyards make great terrain for this mission.  If you have a large amount of players you may need to either split into two tables or widen the current table.  The players should have to cross about 6' of board with enough room side to side so that everyone isn't clustered together.

The goal is to reach the escape helicopter (or truck or whatever). The first squad (at least one guy alive, obviously) to be within embarking distance at the beginning of their movement
phase wins (so you have to survive one round before you can win).  If there is another unengaged player within embarking distance you may not embark.  You must duke it out with the other player as there can only be one.  There should be one escape helicopter per 5 players, spread out evenly along the back board edge.  Each escape helicopter is guarded by a boss zombie.

Turn order is determined randomly.  Each player will move, shoot and assault, then pass to the next player.  When all players have gone the zombies take their turn.  There's no need for a zombie controller as the zombies are on autopilot. After the zombie turn, everyone takes any relevant morale tests. This is of course unlikely as most squads will be small in size, but do so if necessary. Use the highest leadership value in the squad.
Movement Phase: Players who fall back from combat must end their move not only further away from the enemy, but also further from the nearest chopper.

Shooting Phase:

More Pressing Matters: Treat all player controlled squads as if they had the “character” special rule for the purposes of shooting. This rule is thrown out the window once a player controlled team gets within 18” of the chopper. A team within 18” of the chopper can return fire at any squad that fired at them, but otherwise the character rule still applies to the pursuing squads.

Assault Phase:

On each player turn, only teams in an assault involving the active players models will fight. This is to prevent each team potentially getting as many rounds of combat as there are players between zombie phases, which would brutalise the local zombie population. So if you charge zombies, you will fight them. Everyone else waits for their (or the zombies) turn.

If your assault involves multiple squads of zombies, for simplicity's sake you don't have to say which squad you're attacking.  Remove casualties from the smallest squad first (you get more powerups that way)

If you assault a player squad, they get to fight back as normal. If you assault an ongoing assault between a player team and zombies (or between multiple player teams) then people can attack whoever they wish following the usual rules for combat. Everyone with skin in the game gets to fight, each time it is the turn of someone involved in the fight. A mass player team bundle will get messy very quickly.

If a team starts it’s turn in combat with other players but then withdraws, those players do not get to fight that turn.

After all players have gone the Zombies will move.


Zombies come in squads of 5. There should be about two squads of zombies per
player, deployed in a spread out fashion. Their stats are as follows:

WS5+ S3 T3 A1 W1 LD10 Armour 5+

Resilience: Zombies save all suffered wounds (even mortal wounds) on a 5+
Bit! - Any to wound roll of a 6 inflicts a mortal wound instead of a normal wound. If this isn’t saved by some other means, such as a med pack, then a new zombie joins the squad that inflicted the mortal wound.

Zombies only have two phases, the Shamble Phase and the BRAAAAAIIINS phase.

Shamble Phase: Killed zombies will respawn in groups of 5 during this phase, before rolling to move the zombies.  Roll a  D6 on the following chart to see where they go.

1:  Starting table edge
2:  The table edge to the left of the starting edge
3:  The table edge opposite the starting edge
4:  The table edge to the right of the starting edge
5:  Scatter 3d6" from the center of the table.  Zombies deepstrike like a drop pod and will move out of the way of obstructions.  They will move and assault with the rest of the zombies as normal.
6:  The player who is furthest from the chopper chooses a result 1-5 on this chart.  Further rolls of a 6 will go to the second furthest player and so on.

Zombies moving in from a board edge will enter in line with the nearest unengaged player.  Subsequent entries in the same phase on the same table edge will move in towards the second nearest, and so on.

Zombies will move 2D6 to the nearest target. All zombies on the
board move the same distance but at their own relative targets. If this move
brings them in base contact with a player squad they count as assaulting. There is no overwatch… we’ve all seen zombie movies, those sneaky fuckers always pop out for the jump scare.

Zombies will join a current assault if they can fit.  If they can't fit they will instead move towards the next nearest target.

If a player kills the last member of a zombie squad, or kills the last member of a player squad (only whomever removed the last model, doesn't matter who did all the work) he may roll on the powerup chart.

BRAAAAINS Phase: Zombies assault during their movement, we just combine it because they don't shoot.  They receive +1 attack if they charge.

The Boss Zombie:  The boss zombie does not move during the shamble phase as normal.  It will only move if a player moves within embarking distance of the escape vehicle, and will automatically assault that squad.  If there are multiple squads that meet this requirement randomize which one it assaults.

WS4+ S4 T4 A3 W3 LD10 Armor 4+

Resilience: Zombies save all suffered wounds (even mortal wounds) on a 5+
Bit! - Any to wound roll of a 6 inflicts a mortal wound instead of a normal wound. If this isn’t saved by some other means, such as a med pack, then a new zombie joins the squad that inflicted the mortal wound.
Really Resilient - any attack that would do multiple damage only does 1 Wound instead.

It is of course perfectly legal to move your squad and escape in the vehicle while the other player is off fighting the boss or another player.


Should your squad be destroyed, you may respawn in your turn no closer than 6" behind the
furthest player, but it can be anywhere on the board (as long as you are 6" further away from the choppa than the current furthest squad).  You lose all upgrades and powerups earned during their previous lifetime.  If you wish you may play a new team.  When you respawn you may roll on the powerup chart.  You may voluntarily suicide your squad at any time to respawn, but if you do you may not roll on the powerup chart.


If you kill the last member of a squad (zombie or player, this also includes killing the boss zombie, and also includes wiping them out due to morale rolls) you may roll 2D6 on the powerup chart.

2:  Zombie Bile:  You are treated as the only target for the next Shamble Phase.  If two or more players have this then the zombies will move to whomever is closer of those players.  If another player is in the way of the zombie movement, the zombies assault that unfortunate unit as they just happened to be in the wrong place.
3:  Banana Peel:  In your next turn, your movement value is determined by rolling 2D6 and using the highest. This may technically make your squad faster… hey, guess you got some momentum from that banana skin.
4:  Ork Boy Tag Along:  An Ork boy has decided to join you for some reason.  He is armed with a pistol and a choppa and is treated as a member of your squad for all purposes.
5:  Duct Tape:  Whether it's a chainsaw taped to a kayak paddle or a duct-taped-over-under gun, you may give one model either +1 attack or +1 shot per turn.  Permanently.  Until you die.
6:  Chainsaw:  The ultimate zombie close combat weapon.  One model may be equipped with this item.  Requires 2 hands.  Hits on a 2+, and if it hits instantly takes a wound (no saves, even resilience saves) off any zombie in close combat.  If you roll a 1 the chainsaw has run out of fuel and is discarded (but any hits you got in this round still count, if you roll a 1 and get a reroll it does not run out of fuel unless you roll another 1).
7:  Medpack.  May be saved, one use only, you may carry any number of these.  You may ignore one suffered wound. Even a mortal wound. This is after a failed armour roll.
8:  Shotgun:  There is no better tool in an zombie invasion.  One model is armed with it, and that model does not need to have a ballistic skill.  The shotgun has a range of 6" and hits on a 2+, instantly taking a wound off a zombie with no armour or resilience saves allowed.  It is an assault 1 weapon.  If shot at a player it is treated just as the Imperial Guard version of the shotgun.
9:  Super Mushroom Speed Pack:  You may carry up to one of these in your squad.  When activated all members in your squad may add an extra +1 to all their movement, which includes movement, advancing and assaulting.  
10:  Defibrillator:  Counts as a Medpack but may be used to bring back one model in your squad who has previously died.  If that model had multiple wounds only one is restored.
11:  Sweet Aviator Shades:  In the next Shamble Phase, zombies will ignore your squad for the purposes of the closest target.
12:  The Blessing of Chuck Norris:  Your squad receives the blessing of the Great Red Bearded One until the end of their next turn.  Your squad may reroll all rolls they make (if they already have a reroll they can reroll that reroll as Chuck is that awesome).  All shooting counts as AP -5 with no cover allowed and all assault counts as AP-3 and allow no resilience saves.

If you are the furthest player from the board edge, you may add +1 to your roll.  You may roll the dice before deciding whether or not to add the +1.  You may also switch out any rolled result for The Blue Shell.  If you pick The Blue Shell you may move the player closest to the escape vehicle back D6" away from the vehicle.  If they are in close combat, the whole combat moves with them.  If your roll on the powerup chart is because of a respawn, you may not select The Blue Shell.

The +1 can only take you up to 11… it’s a spinal tap, but not a blessing of chuck norris. Only a natural double six can get you the blessing of chuck norris. Chuck himself managed it with only one dice.