Friday, 10 August 2018

Boardgame Corner: Kero

Witness me brothers! I found a cool little two player game that very much seems to be set in the post apocalyptic wastes of the Fury Road. And it's great fun to boot!

In Kero, you are part of a band of survivors, competing with a rival tribe for control of territory and resources and that ever precious Kerosene, or Kero. You go out on foraging parties searching for what you need, but you must be careful, you don't want to run out of Kero or your trip will be wasted.

This is a dice rolling assigning game that has a cool timed effect. Basically the dice give differing resources that can be used in combination to buy different things. However unused dice are wasted, so you want to roll exactly what you want... but you're also on the clock, so how much fuel will you waste rerolling that one useless dice hoping for the result you want? Basically, you can reroll your dice as often as you like as long as you have time left... but you need to spend resources to replenish time, so you need to be frugal with it.

The sand timers and dice... not gonna lie, the purchase of this game was HEAVILY influenced by these...
My opponent and I found the time factor to add great tension to the game. When refueling we'd go through the process and look at our meagre supply and think "is that it?" We actually both asked the question "does it flow out quicker than it flows in?" No, of course it doesn't, it's a sand timer not a complex system of valves. But man it feels like it.

The resources you seek...
I added a bit of psychological warfare to my game by referring to the "burn" symbol as a 1... could just as easily be a 6 or a 4, but I referred to it as 1, goading my opponent (who has long held me to be a dice jinx and won't use a die I have touched) by saying he could refuel for as long as it took for me to roll all 1's... his face dropped!

And the Burns to avoid...
It's a short game, only played for three rounds before scoring up. It has great replay value as you try to figure your way through the puzzle of what to spend on... more fuel, sending out your explorers, upgrading your cards, or recruiting help from nomadic wanderers. And you can't predict when it will end either, meaning scoring can vary greatly. My last two games I won 51-16 then 20-17. I don't know how I ran away with it so much in the first game, but in the second we were both frustrated, as you don't know exactly when the game will end (it's a card reveal in the deck) and I had a good supply of fuel and a few upgrades for my next turn... a next turn I never got to see.

There are better dice available (for a price) and they are more likely to get the symbols you need to buy the cards you want...


I also have to give credit when packing away... everything has it's place, and this pleases me.

Add caption
All in all, a great two player puzzle game with a good amount of tension. The none active player is still involved by watching the sand tick away and teasing their opponent - I've psyched one person into stopping their turn and then they've seen they had plenty of time left, i'd merely been teasing them about their engine spluttering and gasping for breath. It's technically nothing to do with me he should have been checking his own fuel state, not my fault he panicked...

Anyway, next time I play, I'm putting my Doof Wagon on the table, blasting out the soundtrack, to really ramp up the stakes!

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds...

A quote often used to represent someone looking at their creations, and fearing for the consequences. With one sentence on Saturday night, I fear my flatmate may have created his own epic doom...

To start with, we have played a fun team game called Pit Crew. You race against each other to get your car ready to race as quickly as possible, and as soon as you're ready you can start rolling the dice and move your car each time you roll a 6. It isn't great odds, but the pressure it puts on your opponents is fantastic. Once they finish their car, you check both cars for mistakes... the pressure from you rolling probably made them make a few of those right? Well every mistake they make moves your car along the track more. However how did you manage to finish so quickly and start rolling? Oh wait, you missed a bit here...

Too many mistakes will crash you catastrophically out, mistakes move your opponents, although taking the time to get things perfect can earn you bonuses... but those can all be undone by your opponent rolling a lot of 6's while you faff around. Anyway, great game, takes the real time stress of Captain Sonar but gives simpler tasks. Great fun.

I got a new game and we tried it out on Saturday, it's an old classic called Formula D. You get to race your tiny little car around the streets of Monaco by rolling dice. Shifting up a gear lets you roll a better, faster dice, however if you go through the corners too fast, you damage your car. So you have to drop down in gears to roll slower dice for the corners to make sure you stop enough times within them to not basically do a Senna. We had some fun with the game, I was pipped coming out of the last bend as Emma was right on my tail, and I rolled an 11 and she rolled a 15, meaning she was ahead and would therefore roll before me next round, and with the finish line less than her minimum roll away, victory was hers. Simon wasn't too far behind us. Jake and Leo were smoking ruins being dragged from the track.

It was after this game that Jake said "I see in the longer version of the game, the two lap race, you can pit to restore health... wouldn't it be great to combine this game with pit crew?"

What, oh what has he done?

I'm still mulling over whether to use pit crew rules to fix the cars and then you leave with the health you have or the result from a game of pit crew determines pit exit order... I mean, what if some cars are way ahead of others? A good pit may catch them up a bit but overtake seems unlikely? And what if someone chooses not to pit? Do they sit this bit out and wait? Or do I make someone do a round of pit crew against an egg timer just to get their health points back? They do it solo with everyone else watching, laughing at them, and then deciding if they feel up to the challenge of making a pit themselves?

I fear we have created a monster...

Friday, 22 June 2018

Your army can do what?!?

On Tuesday Rich and I had a game of Whatcanyourarmydohammer 40k. Neither of us had played much 8th edition so we were sorta groping our way around the rules and tactics, and just about remembering what we could do most of the time, just not doing so well at knowing what the other guy could do...

So for this game I decided to give my Deathwatch a run out. After following the exploits of St Andrews wargaming I took a few things on board, but was still working within the constraints of an existing model collection...

So, my list. It's basically 2 battalions, but I'll just throw it all down here as it's all deathwatch so no different rules to worry about.

I had a watch master as warlord, with the watch eternal warlord trait and the beacon angelis.
Watch captain Artemis
librarian in terminator armour, with a storm bolter and force stave.

2 squads of ten veterans, including 3 heavy thunder hammers each, 2 stormshields each, a sergeant with xenophase blade, a black shield with paired lightning claws, bolt pistols and chainswords where appropriate.

2 squads of 5 vets each with 4 missile launchers

2 squads of 6 vets, including 3 frag cannons each, 2 stormshields each, and a vanguard vet each

1 squad of 5 vets with deathwatch shotguns

1 squad of 5 vets with 1 Infernus Heavy Bolter

Both librarians had Veil of Time and Might of Heroes. The plan for the army was to set up the watch master and two large squads in the teleportarium strategum, use the terminator librarians deepstrike ability to join them, and when they land use the beacon to pull the other librarian over and buff the hell out of the squads before charging in.

I had the stormshields and vanguard vets with the frag cannons as obviously to get the best out of them they need to be danger close, so I wanted some protection, and the ability to fall back from a combat and shoot it to death.

The squads with missile launchers are my fairly obvious heavy support, and the heavy bolter is because I saw it synergies well with a strategem on St Andrews (although that also seemed to require an armorial cherub, which I didn't take, don't think I can...)

So what was I up against? Well, Rich brought a Bloodthirster, Belakor, 2 daemon Princes of khorne, 2 daemon Princes of nurgle, 1 of slaanesh and 1 of tzeentch. Plus about 5 or 6 juggernauts of khorne. Everything had wings apart from one of the nurgle Princes that was using a strategem to deep strike. Well, certainly plenty of high value targets, but this could go wrong very quickly...

Rich isn't a fan of the beta rules preventing out of deployment deep strikes on turn 1, so I played it the rulebook way for now. Just means I get my big dangerous squads in sooner. We were playing tactical escalation, where you have an increasing number of objectives and can gamble on certain objectives being more important.

I'm not gonna do a play by play as chances are I wouldn't remember it all, we'll go with a highlights reel...

Rich went first and turn 1 just moved everything forwards and cast a few psychic powers. He dropped his nurgle prince in front of my missiles but just tried to psychic them instead, to no avail. End of turn 1, I lost one shotgun vet to smite.

My turn 1 I drop everyone in on my right flank behind the khorne and slaanesh Princes. I move the frag squads forward (they'd held back to prevent him dropping behind my lines) although one of the squads I foolishly put behind Los blocking terrain when juggernauts were nearby. Some good shooting by my missile launchers saw the recently arrived nurgle prince take a battering, and my heavy bolter used the mortal wounds strategum to finish the job. I killed a juggernaut (though the morale roll brought him back!) And whilst I managed to cast might of Heroes on both large vet squads, veil of time was stopped for both. This was to prove problematic.

I charged the khorne prince first, and needed a CP reroll to make the charge. The watch master then failed his charge, as did the unit trying to take out the slaanesh prince. Damn you Rich for stopping veil of time! I took the khorne prince down to 1 wound, his retaliation mostly bounced off the stormshields, only causing a single casualty, and then just as I was debating using the command points to attack again, I remembered might of Heroes... we couldn't exactly take guesses about how many more wounds I would have had for the extra strength, if any, but we could still do one attack each... and that did the trick. I took an early lead in the score as I had to kill a couple of characters that turn, and I had.

In richs turn 2 the juggernauts charged the frag squad, the nurgle prince charged the shotguns, the slaanesh prince and Belakor wanted to pick off my characters, the tzeentch prince advanced on my missiles and the bloodthirster turned towards the big fight on my right flank (funnily enough when I saw him on the left flank I chose to drop on the right near warlord Belakor instead...)

Belakor stripped my warmasters invulnerable save and knocked his rolls down by one, so he was pretty much done for. Belakor charged him while slaanesh charged both librarians. He was then most unpleasantly surprised when I did what I had to do, and heroically intervened with both squads. This was a very unpleasant surprise for him... he had been mulling over multi-charging the squad too but decided it was a bad idea... as it turns out his decision was irrelevant. Belakor cut down my warmaster, but then I paid 2cp to interrupt and tear the slaanesh prince in two. The nurgle prince annihilated the shotgun scouts, but the frag cannons were protected by stellar work by their stormshield bearing brethren, one of them falling to the flurry of attacks while the other held firm. However he did have a good scoring round, as he completed both objectives, including the bonus for completing one with a nurgle unit, and they were both his chosen special category, so he netted 5 points, taking the lead.

In my turn 2 the frag cannons fell back (the vanguard vet meaning I could still fire at full effect) and the other squad moved up to close range too. The juggernauts were toast. The nurgle prince took some missiles, but I couldn't finish him off due to Los blocking terrain (the LGT would be proud) so my other missiles took a pop shot at the big fella, Mr bloodthirster, and took 9 wounds off him. Not bad for a pot shot! Belakor was dragged down in combat by my veterans. I had a poor card draw so only scored warlord this turn.

Turn 3 saw rich focus on objectives from another favourable card draw, the injured nurgle prince and bloodthirster taking objectives whilst the khorne and tzeentch Princes took out my left flank of missiles and heavy bolter. This saw him reach 10 points.

My turn 3 my librarian had something to prove and double 6'd his powers twice, going down to a single wound remaining. Still, got the job done. My vets charged the nurgle prince and bloodthirster, despite using a stratagem for +1 to wound I couldn't quite take the bloodthirster down. Took out nurgle and wounded khorne though.

Turn 4 the bloodthirster fell back from combat and finished off my suicidal terminator librarian. This turn he had potential to score good points if he could make me fail a morale test... however he was in amongst the small squads and the bloodthirster was down to 2wounds at this point. His tzeentch prince suited the survivors from the heavy bolter squad, but was overzealous and wiped the squad out. The khorne daemon prince charged the frag cannon unit... and found out how painful they can be. He survived on a single wound. My stormshield then failed his save at the first asking and the entire squad perished. No morale test for me!

My turn 4 the other librarian smote the bloodthirster as vengeance for his fallen brother. The frag cannons finished off the khorne prince, allowing the 4 missile launchers to turn the tzeentch prince into a cloud of feathers. This was Rich tabled for the win. I would have scored points for killing characters, and for getting objectives, which would have just about caught me level on points with him. He had the mobility to try to hide the tzeentch prince and wait the game out, but I would probably have outscored him if he'd tried that.

So, lessons for both of us. Rich missed a sitter earlier, his khorne prince could have charged my frag cannons from outside Los. This would have probably saved him, and maybe required me to shoot the missile launchers at him instead of big bird. He also now knows to be wary of black Shields. I meanwhile had forgotten how nasty daemon Princes with just claws can be in combat. I passed way more stormshield saves than I should have.

I do miss my corvus so will probably try to fit them back in at some point, so consider this to be an audition for which squads fit in well with that. I thought the frag cannons did superbly, but then rich was a combat army, against someone with guns I can see them getting shot before they can get close. The missiles did a solid shift. I did originally have these in a larger squad of ablative wounds but that ties 5 extra bodies backfield, and if you aren't getting shot at, it's a waste.

Using the beacon just to pull across the librarian did seem wasteful, but I wanted the buffing powers and I only have one librarian in terminator armour. I do have more terminators so maybe a proxy test run is in order... besides, I had nothing else i'd want to bring in... the missiles? The 8" deadly frag cannons to deploy 9" away? Pfft! I suppose it would have let me take a different relic but there wasn't anything that leapt off the page at me.

Anyway, a good fun game, and some food for thought for future list tweaks.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Odds and Ends... Caught up on Shadespire

With the Fury Road project complete and another project not yet lined up, I have been pecking away at some other little odds and ends projects. I have now finished the rest of the warband for Shadespire. Only to a tabletop standard, but I'm pleased enough with them.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Oh, what a day... what a lovely day!

So Immorkan Joe and his warboys got to ride eternal... well, for a day at least, at Double Trouble run by Alex over at fromthefang. This was a mixed doubles event, with MIX being the important word here... every round you'd be paired with someone different fighting against some-two different. Meaning three games and nine fellow hobbyists to meet.

For this I yet again did a themed army, this time a speed freaks ork warband in the style of Fury Road. The Doof Wagon provided the soundtrack for the day.

If I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die historic, on the fury road!
Was it a top notch list? Far from it. It was a pasted together list using a self restricted list of units to make a themed army from an army that still doesn't have a codex... I wasn't expecting much from this. And arguably it did as expected... I don't think we won a game all day, but we had lots of fun.

Don't "think" I won a game all day I hear you ask? Well it's hard to say... each game you count up VP for objectives at the end of each turn and Bloodpoints killed at the end of the battle. You write down what you got and they all go towards your final VP/BP score. I am pretty sure I was behind the opposite side of the table on VP and BP in all three games, but I can't say for sure, as what they scored was meaningless to what I took forward. Arguably you could lose all three games but if you score highly in all three games, regardless of losing, and your opponents go on to score low in their other games, you would come higher in the rankings. It doesn't care if you won or lost, just how many VP/BP you score.

Game 1 I was with a guard artillery force against Tau and Harlequins. I ran across the table and got shot a lot, grabbing objectives and buying time for the guard artillery to do it's work. Unfortunately it lacked a little in accuracy... I think we killed a pathfinder and a drone in turn 1, and in fact by the end of the game had done little to temper the tau firepower, but had taken to spitefully picking on fire warriors in order to rack up some bloodpoints in what was clearly going to be a loss. My guys didn't do much in this game apart from hold objectives and get shot as I had a long table to cross. I feel they earned a respectable VP score and did their job of "distraction" quite well.

Game 2 I was teamed up with my friend Chris and his Blood Ravens, and we were against a guard player and a Blood Angel. This was a fantastic game with some real epic moments, and a very close VP score, think it was 1 or 2 apart in the end... Both marine players were wiped out, but unfortunately most of the guards big points sinks survived. I briefly had Joe in combat with Pask AND a wyvern, with the doof wagon in support, but he fluffed his attacks. The doof wagon then got charged by some blood angels, which ended messily for them, but one of them survived to the second round, meaning the battlewagon couldn't support Joes charge on Pask... and he died to overwatch.

Ah, mediocre...
Highlight of this game had to be the nigh indestructible truck, which took 3 lascannon hit and a battlecannon hit and only lost 4 wounds due to the ramshackle rule. It was eventually obliterated by a further 6 battlecannon hits, but even then it passed another 2 ramshackle rolls just out of spite...

Luckily this is an Ork truck, so still has 6 wounds left and is fully functional...
Game 3 was a wonderful affair, as it was played on a desert themed board with rocky outcrops... it was the perfect set for my finale. I was with a nid player and against guard and alpha legion, and the guard player was boasting that the bullgryns had some tricks which made them incredibly resilient... Joe decided to put that theory to the test, and promptly walloped them with 8 mortal wounds (rolling a 6 to wound makes the ensuing damage mortal, after rolling 3 6s to hit I rolled 3 6's to wound... meant I forgave him for missing with one attack) Of course he then got immediately clobbered for 8 wounds in response, but at least he went out in a blaze of glory. The doof wagon too had a great time squashing cultists. and this game was again quite close in VP although our side was close to being tabled by the end. But all in all a great time.

I live! I Die! I live again!

As for the overall day, all the battlefields looked superb, I saw a huge army preparing for a game of heresey which was quite the sight to see, I won the Best Converted Prize I had been hoping for... although shall we say I didn't have much competition this year. That isn't me being arrogant, I literally was unopposed. Whether my entry intimidated others into aiming for other categories instead I couldn't say, but hey I'll take a win however I get it :P

All this over a family squabble... healthy babies...

Oh, and the scenery was far better than the LGT ;) I really do wish we had something even half as od as this place in Portsmouth.

Sadly this is likely to be the last appearance I make at one of Alexs events, as he has announced that his next will be his last, and I can't make it. He will be spending more time with his family... selfish bastard!

No in all seriousness, Alex has run some excellent tournaments over the years, and his are now the only tournaments I attend, precisely because they don't have the same tournament atmosphere you get elsewhere. I hope someone takes up the mantle, if I had something like the NWGC in Portsmouth I would consider it myself (much good that would do for those who are local to the even in all fairness) Admittedly, my wallet will probably appreciate a return to just normal hobbying, as opposed to "Oh but it's a tournament, you've got to do something *special* for it..."

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

It's All in The Mind

I had a flurry of boardgame purchases of late, some that I had been looking forward to for some time, but one that was more of an impulse buy. I'd heard good things, it seemed a simple yet interesting concept, and it was cheap. Nine quid from amazon, delivered. This cheap little gem is called The Mind, and we tested a few games last night. All enjoyable, but none had quite the surprise factor that The Mind had. For such a simple concept, we never realised how much fun could be had, nor how much tension could be generated. We had three grown men in a pub, yelling at each other and jumping for joy... because they managed to get three sodding cards in the right order!

So, how does this game work? Well, there is a deck of 100 numbered cards. In level 1 you get one card each. All you have to do is put them down in the correct order. The catch, you and your teammates are not allowed to communicate. In any way. No nods, no winks, no sneezes. You have to be like tibetan monks, absolute zen masters... until your teammate puts down a 57. A 57?!? What the fuck?!? How could you possibly think it was time for a 57? I've still got a 35 in my hand!

In this round, the player in the top left would be quite justified in thinking "surely someone must have less than a 75?" And the odds are with him on that one. Or not in this case. But the player with 82 has similar odds and similar thoughts, the question is who breaks first.

The little bunny cards represent lives and the stars are a special trick (you can earn more of both as you progress through the levels) If you want to use a star, you raise your hand. Anyone who agrees raises their hand. If the decision is unanimous, a star is used. Every player discards their lowest card. This not only reduces the cards you have to lay, but can also give a big clue going forward. "Your lowest card is 86? Right, we won't wait on you for a while then..."

If a mistake is made then whoever can see there is a mistake says "Stop" they remove a life card and then anyone who has been overtaken by the keen bean player discards any invalidated cards. This can mean if someone jumps several guns they only cost you one life... however, to avoid someone playing the 100 card first and thus clearing an entire level for one life (you may consider that a fair swap late game) you always must lay your lowest card.

This concept seems so simple, yet we had so much fun with it. We played for what must have been an hour. We failed on the tenth and final level and decided enough, we had to play a different game. Although to be fair, in that hour of play where we failed on the tenth and final level, we had only got past level 5 once. So that shows how good we were.

The highlight was the end of round 9 if I recall correctly. I had two cards, rich and scott had one each. We had a single life left, so no one wanted to fuck things up. We were up to 90. So 4 cards in 10 numbers to play.

Now I had 98 and 100, so knew that even IF one of them had 99, the other MUST have a lower card, so they must go before me. Rich had 99, so even if someone has 100, 2 cards must be played before his, so he was correct to wait. Scott had 96. So there are 5 cards lower than his, and 4 higher, so it's fairly good tactics for him to wait. So we waited. We just sat looking at each other, screaming silently inside, for what must have been two minutes, before scott tentatively put down his 96.

Thank God it was a 96. If it had been a 93 or 94 we'd still have sat there looking at each other, but when rich didn't IMMEDIATELY slap down a 97, I knew it must be me for 98, and the rest completed as expected. We roared with approval and relief. We spent the next few minutes talking about how close we came to messing it up. And that was one where two of the three players knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that they could not play first, and STILL the tension was killing us!

This game is absolutely fantastic, and I cannot recommend it enough. I don't know if it's available in English yet, but I picked up the German copy off amazon cheap enough and it was a snap to find downloadable English rules from the Internet. It is good for up to 4 players, and if there's more of you, take it in turns. When 4 other players finished their 40k doubles game and came to join in with one of the other games we were playing, we forced them to play a few rounds of The Mind first. Just watching them start yelling at each other was highly entertaining for the three of us who had already lived through it once. So there is entertainment value in watching people play this game.

And you never know, one day I may even complete it.

Anyway, to paraphrase a song sung by a friend of mine, The Mind Is a terrible thing to waste. So pick up a copy now.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Discussing Scenery: Are Tournament Organisers Breaching the Social Contract?

I make no secret of the fact that I am not a tournament player, it tends to bring out the kind of lists that are not fun to play against, and while testing yourself against such lists may be fun for some people, it's not my thing. My tournament attendance tends to be smaller affairs, run with more quirkiness, such as Double Trouble, Fluffageddon, Blog Wars - events that have unusual comp restrictions or flat out make the best prize the raffle in the hope of encouraging people to play nice. So cards on the table, my views on this point are most definitely those of an outsider to the tournament scene.

I know several people are, as I write this, attending the London GT. And the feedback I have received has been one of poor organisation and scenery that is... somewhat lacking. Apparently the scenery was a big complaint last time, and promises were made to do better, and this is what they have provided.

Now as I said, I'm not a frequent tournament attendee, and I'm not sure what rules are in place regarding army painting at the London GT... I know the tournaments I attend expect a minimum painting standard for entering armies. We're doing the hobby equivalent of putting on a nice shirt, smart shoes, presenting our best selves before we go to meet someone else who is hopefully doing the same. And then we arrive at the venue, both dressed in our finest, to find walls that have damp patches, carpet with holes in, crackly speakers... it's disappointing to say the least.

I want to see my fully painted army clash with someone else's fully painted army on a nice table. I want to take pictures of the game to write battle reports or just to remember the event. The pictures will look a little underwhelming when you have two beautifully painted armies fighting over a piece of polystyrene that hasn't even been painted. You may as well be fighting over the fun size cornflake packets on your kitchen table for all the spectacle it produces.

I know I'm spoiled. I run a gaming club with a wealth of scenery, so I have a weekly opportunity to play on boards like this.

Expecting a tournament venue to match that standard is unrealistic, I appreciate that, but surely there must be some minimum standard? Especially if you're expecting a minimum standard of entrants armies, and charging them for the privilege.

Recently a friend of mine gave me a battle rundown of a game he'd played on "planet bowling ball" that hadn't gone well for his going second against a gun-line army tyranids... here's the battlefield.

Now that may be lacking a little in LOS blocking terrain, but it is all at least painted. I would rather wing it as best I could with an army on that table than fight around old VHS tapeboxes - hey, they block LOS so what are you complaining about?

There are alternatives. I picked up a lot of cheap, easy build, wooden scenery online for my own gaming table. It isn't great, and as my friend points out, there isn't much LOS blocking stuff in my home collection, but I'm sure with a little more effort the kits could be modified to provide what is needed. Would it take a lot of time and manhours to do 200 tables worth? Undoubtedly, although the amount I did to give me options would probably populate half a dozen tournament tables and it took me a week single handed if I recall correctly. I'm sure a team, organising an event that was criticised last year for poor scenery, could do better than I could.

If I was expected to single handedly do 200 tables worth of scenery in, I don't know, a week... then you might get something like this...