Saturday, 27 May 2017

Drinking with Dwarfs

I did go to Salute this year, but, given my current plan to buy fewer models and concentrate on doing things with the ones I already have, I ended up taking a slightly different approach from usual.

Instead of my normal plan to buy enough models to keep busy until the next Salute, which normally left me with has left me with an every accumulating backlog, I concentrated on scenery. Specifically, scenery I didn't have to paint, just assemble and that would work with models I already had assembled and painted. More specifically, 4Grounds Dwarf Brewery.



I have been a Dwarf player for over twenty years and have dwarfs for Warhammer, Lord of the Rings, Confrontation, Kings of War and even a handful for Warmachine. Despite this, I have no Dwarf specific scenery. For a little while I had half a plan to build a Dwarf Inn/Brewery until I realised that 4Ground already made one. I already have a few of 4Ground's Japanese buildings and like their work, particularly, the fact that you don't have to paint it, just glue it together. It's the lack of painting that really makes them stand out from the other major producer of nice wooden scenery, Sarissa Precision.

So, this year, I ended up putting most of my money into a single item. Not as much as I had originally thought as 4Ground were doing some decent discounts and I bought a few other bits and bobs from them. I also got another one of their Dwarf buildings, not from them directly, but from Dark Sphere who were having a bit of a clear out and were offering 4Ground stuff at half price. My heart sank when I first saw this as I thought I might have just dramatically over payed for something, but they didn't have the brewery, but did have one smaller building. In addition, as it didn't have a price, the guy on stand just guessed at a price and then halved it, offering it to me for £15. I wavered and he immediately offered it for £12 at which point I snapped it up. I later found that 4Ground charge £36 for it, so I really got lucky.

 Smaller, L-Shaped building

In the end, I was very glad to have the smaller model as it allowed me to get in some practice assembling a dwarf building before moving on to the big one.

Even the smaller building has a detailed interior with separate rooms

Anyone who follows me on Twitter will have been able to track my progress as I put it together. There were 17 pages of instructions and the process was rather like assembling a big Lego model only with glue, so it's very difficult to correct mistakes.

 Early work in progress

I was as careful as I could be, but still not as careful as the professionals and there are some places where my model has walls that aren't perfectly flush or surfaces that are not completely smooth. I hope none of it is too visible.

 I had to cut this piece, or the top would not have been flush with the column below

There was one piece that I simply couldn't get to fit and I had to cut it to make it work. I really don't know what I did wrong there.

 Interior Ground floor. Note the gold trim around the ceiling and stair rail. These should have been grey

There was one further complication. Part way through assembly, I realised that one sheet that should have been printed on grey card had been printed on gold. I'm sure if I contacted 4Ground I could have gotten a replacement, but I didn't want to disrupt my momentum and pressed on. For the most part it worked fine, most of it was wall trim for the interior that looks good in gold. The only real problem was with the separators for the roof section, some of which were grey and some gold. In the end, I repainted the gold ones. They aren't quite the same shade, but I don't think it's too noticeable.

 Interior second floor, showing off the wealth of brewing equipment that comes with the model

I think I can get quite a lot of use out of this model. As well as being useful for games in which one side is dwarfs, I could also see it being useful as a Dwarf run tavern in other fantasy games. I'm planning to try it out in a game soon and will post some pictures of it in action.

The finished piece from another angle

Monday, 8 May 2017

Beyond the Gates of Antares - The Final Battle

I have finally finished off my last two Ghar squads, which means its time for my largest Beyond the Gates of Antares game yet, 1250 points. For my Concord, that meant essentially taking everything. I was even able to include Kai Lek Atastrin, the special character from the starter box. I had had the points to include him before, but he is classed as a "limited choice" like my Nu Hu. As you can only include one limited choice for every four units, I needed eight before I could afford them both.

For the Ghar, things were a little more complicated. I had comfortable more than 1250 points, but couldn't afford to take two complete squads, so instead, I bumped up a couple of squads to 4 Troopers.

The complete army lists were as follows:

Concord
4 C3 Strike Squads (one including Kai) each with plasma lance and spotter drone
NuHu Mandarin with Shield, Spotter and Gun Drones
Squad of 3 C3D1 Light Support Drones with Spotter Drone
1 C3D2 Medium Support Drone with Spotter Drone
1 C3M4 Combat Drone  with Spotter and Batter Drone

Ghar
4 Trooper Ghar Battle Squad with Plasma Amplifier
3 Trooper Ghar Battle Squad with Plasma Amplifier
4 Trooper Ghar Assault Squad with Plasma Amplifier
Outcast Squad with Disruptor Cannon
Command Crawler with Plasma Amplifier
2 Trooper Bomber Squad
4 Tectorists
6 Flitters

As I hadn't much like the last scenario I had played, I decided to play this one as a straight forward fight. Each army's goal was to break the other or, failing that, do as much damage as possible. An army would be broken when it had lost half its order dice (which would be 5 in each case as both sides include 8 units, one of which had two order dice). The game would last six turns and potentially continue if neither side were broken.

 Deployment

In the very first action of the game, the Concord strike squad on the right of the board took a pot shot at the Ghar Assault Squad at extreme range, only for a lucky hit from the plasma amplifier to take out one of the Troopers. This was a terrible start for the Ghar and I contemplated restarting the game, but I considered that if I adopted that attitude I would be essentially saying luck first moves were not allowed and so decided to let it stand.

Other than that turn 1 was pretty uneventful, both sides advanced slowly, though the Ghar were slowed by a few unlucky rolls that saw them stalled by difficult terrain.

On turn two, most of the Ghar activated their Plasma Amplifiers to try and move things along. The Bomber squad fired twice, missing twice, but on one occasion the shot scattered onto the strike squad hiding in the woods on the left. On the right flank, the strike squads continued there success by destroying a Battle Trooper.

 Under Bomber Fire

Both sides dropped a lot of pins on one another, and the Command Crawler scored a lucky hit on the Combat Drone taking out its batter drone. It also managed to drop 5 pins on the light support drone squad.

 Batter drone down

After two games in which all Plasma Amplifiers burned out on their first turn, they appeared to be paying the Ghar back. All but the Bomber Squad's lasted into turn 3 which was when everything kicked off. The turn started well for the Concord when the NuHu's gun drone took out another Assault Trooper.

 Exchange of Fire

But, the pins the Ghar had spent turn two dropping on the Concord units started to pay off. Kai Lek Atastrin's squad were hit hard by a Battle Squad and broke. After the Light Support Drone Squad failed to activate, the Command Crawler put two more pins on it, giving it more pins than its command value and causing it to auto-break. On the right flank, the Ghar took revenge for their lost battle suits, by reducing one strike squad to a single man.

 Strike Squad culled

The chaos continued into turn four when the Combat Drone failed to activate and then an insanely lucky shot by an Outcast Lugger gun destroyed it (it rolled a 10 to resist and then another 10 on the damaged table). This reduced the Concord left flank to a single squad hiding in a wood and leaving them one order dice away from breaking. There was some small comfort for the Concord when the Medium Support Drone destroyed the Assault Squad leader and the remaining Trooper broke and fled and the last of the plasma amplifiers burned out.

 Combat Drone destroyed

Assault Squad broken

On turn five some unlucky rolling by the Ghar stopped them taking full advantage of their position, when one battle squad failed to activate. Nevertheless, the Command Crawler was able to destroy the Strike squad that had been reduced to a single man, breaking the Concord. Their only chance now was to break the Ghar, a pretty unlikely occurrence. But, the game continued into turn 6.

 The Strike Squad hangs on

On Turn 6, the remaining Strike Squad on the right flank was wiped out by the Battle Squad. The remaining Concord opened fire, but to little effect and the game ended with the Ghar unbroken and victorious.

 Final fire fight

Notes and Comments

1. I had completely misread the rules for the NuHu's intel stave. I didn't realise until turn 6 that the thing could shoot. I knew it was pretty good in close combat, but thought the NuHu would be too vulnerable to risk in an assault. In fact, the thing had a range of 20" and a strike value of 6. I had missed this for three games. In my defence, it is listed under "Close Combat Weapons" I just missed the range value. Had I know about this, I would have used my NuHu much more aggressively, possibly leading an assault force of drones using her follow ability to get them to all activate at once.

2. I had also failed to spot that Ghar Disruptor weapons can not only put two pins on a unit, but can do so even against heavily armoured targets. This proved hugely effective this game as the pins the Ghar were able to drop in turn 2 proved hugely important in turn 3.

3. I was incredibly stupid not to rally the Light Support Drones on turn 3. If I had done that, I could have removed some pins and they would have survived another turn. Just a daft oversight on my part.

4. Other than that, I don't think the Concord did anything obviously wrong. Things just came together for the Ghar. The Plasma Amplifiers proved hugely effective, simply because it gave the Ghar so many extra activations. The Combat Drone being destroyed was insanely bad luck, but it shows that in a game were anything can destroy anything with a lucky enough roll you can't treat anything as indestructible.

I have now finished painting all the models I currently own for both the Ghar and Concord and played the highest point game I can. With that, my Beyond the Gates of Antares project is officially complete. This does not mean I am done with the game. I have two armies fully painted and a few different scenarios to try out.

It's likely that at some point I will add some more units to both sides. Given how pleased I was with how my Command Crawler turned out, it was inevitable that I would have an eye on the Bomber Crawler and as soon as Warlord release some bomb loader scutters I'll be after them as well. For the Concord, I am less certain, but the interceptor bikes look like fun. I am also planning a third force. I bought some Boromites a little while back, which I haven't gotten round to painting yet.

But, for the time being, I want to look at a new project. Anyone who follows me on Twitter may have seen that I got some Dwarf buildings from 4Ground and have been slowly putting them together. This will only keep me busy for a little while though, as I have some plans for a very different project, but more on that in due course.

Monday, 17 April 2017

A quick Recommendation

Not much of an update today. Work is proceeding on my last two Ghar units, but I haven't gotten far enough to share any pictures.

Instead, I thought I'd share something from another blog that I have enjoyed. The Realms of Chaos 80's blog recently featured a blog post in which the author pledged to share more of other people's work and I thought I would take a leaf from the same book. Generally, I haven't bothered to share other blogs, because I haven't thought this blog was visited enough for it to have any effect. But, I'm happy for every view I get, and if I can pass on even one reader it's worth it.

Anyway, these two posts are game reports for the Pikeman's Lament rules. These are a Pike and Shot variant of the Medieval and Fantasy, Lion Rampant and Dragon Rampant rules. I have the rule book but haven't played them yet.

These two posts cover a half sized test game and a full sized game and featured Scot's Covenanters, Highlanders and Royalists during the English Civil War.

Tim, the author, clearly shares my taste for blow by blow accounts, with a bit of narrative and plenty of pictures. He also has a very nicely painted collection of models.

If you're at all interested in English Civil War gaming or the Pikeman's Lament rules, they are well worth a read.

http://saskminigamer.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/pikemans-lament-pork-on-trotters.html

http://saskminigamer.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/pikemans-lament-river-crossing.html

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Return to Sender

For my latest Beyond the Gates of Antares battle I was going up to 1,000 points which meant I would be able to use my Concord Combat Drone for the first time since the introductory scenario. For this battle, I used the newly published PDF army lists available from Warlord's website. This didn't introduce many changes, but it did reduce the points cost of my Nu Hu Mandarin, allowing me to add my Combat Drone to my existing army list without making any other changes. I also gave it the self repair rule and a batter drone (which throws up a field making it harder to hit) as I imagined it would attract more than its fair share of attention.

The Concord list was as follows:

Nu Hu Mandarin with Spotter, Shield, Gun and Medi Drones
3 Strike Squads each with a Plasma Lance and Spotter Drone
C3D1 Light Support Drone with Spotter Drone
C3D2 Medium Support Drone with Plasma Cannon and Support Drone
C3M4 Combat Drone with Compression Cannon, Spotter and Batter Drones

Getting the Ghar up to a 1,000 points was a bit more tricky. I actually have plenty of models (though not all of them are painted) but because most Ghar squads cost so many points, its difficult to get to exactly the number you need. I added my newly painted Bomber Squad a fourth battle suit to one of my units. I also upgraded everything that could have them with Plasma Amplifiers. These had proved pretty useful last game and I was hoping they would be again here.

The only major change to the Ghar in the new army lists was that the Techtorists now count as probes, with a movement of 15". I'm not sure how I feel about this. It simplifies things, but means that they behave in a slightly unintuitive way, floating over obstacles. The big change is that they no longer count as infantry. If this rule had been in place last game, the Ghar would have lost.

This was the Ghar list:

Battle Squad of 4 Troopers with Plasma Amplifier
Assault Squad of 3 Troopers with Plasma Amplifier
Outcast Squad with Disruptor Cannon
Command Crawler with Plasma Amplifier
Bomber Squad of 2 Troopers with Plasma Amplifier
4 Tectorists
6 Flitters

I decided to play the "Return to Base Camp" scenario. This put a hill in the Centre of the table, surrounded by low obstacles (rocks in this case) to act as the base camp. Half the defending force (determined by order dice so the Command Crawler and Combat Drone count as 2) deploy on the hill with the rest making a command test to arrive from turn 2 onwards. The attacker gets to deploy their whole force at the start of the game. The winner would be whoever held the hill at the end of the game, assuming one side didn't break (lose more than half its order dice) first.

I decided to make the Ghar defenders this game as they had been the attackers in the last one. I deployed the Assault, Battle and Outcast squads first. I seriously considered deploying the Command Crawler, but with its 2 order dice it would have counted as 2 units on its own. Also, given the reserves would have to pass a Command Check with a negative modifier to arrive, the Command Crawler had the best chance of passing. If I kept the Outcasts in reserve, they might never show up.

 Deployment

The Concord got most of the early activations and moved into firing positions. The Combat Drone opened proceedings by firing on the Ghar Battle squad. It's Compression cannon made no impact, but it got in three hits with its plasma light support and the Ghar promptly failed two resilience tests on a 10. This was pretty disastrous so early in the game.

 Two down already

The rest of the turn's shooting was pretty unimpressive. With the Ghar battle suits behind obstacles, the Concord troopers plasma carbines couldn't even pin them, so they turned their attention to the Outcasts, and even the Tectorists who suffered some early casualties.

The Command Crawler and some of the Flitters arrived on turn 2. The Bomber squad failed its Command Check. The Combat Drone moved to intercept, which also put it too close to the Assault Squad for them to use their Gouger guns. The Command Crawler put a lot of pressure on the Concord, but didn't do much damage. Ghar shooting in general was frustrated by the Batter drone.

 The Command Crawler and Combat Drone duel

Turn 3 saw the Bomber Squad and the rest of the Flitters arrive and a lucky hit by the Command Crawler took out the Batter Drone. However, the Ghar suffered more bad luck when the Assault Squad leader was killed by a plasma lance, despite getting a re-roll.

 Assault Leader destroyed

Over the following two turns, the Concord piled more pressure on the Ghar. The last two Battle suits were destroyed by the Combat and Medium Drones and the Outcasts succumbed to fire from the strike squads as did the last Tectorists. Finally, a concerted effort by all the Concord put enough pins on the Assault Squad to break it.

 The Command Crawler fails to lead a counter-attack

By this point, the Bomber squad had made it to the hill and the Command Crawler had moved to the edge, though failing an agility test had slowed it down. The Concord had two options, to assault the hill in force or to try and break the Ghar army. The latter seemed easiest, 4 squads had been destroyed, if one more went, that would be enough. The best chance was the flitters. As the Concord had so many more order dice in the bag, it was hardly surprising that they were able to destroy four flitters before the Ghar could even activate. The last two fled, but they weren't able to get far enough away to escape the Medium and Combat drones.

The Ghar could still, theoretically win if they were able to break the Concord and still controlled the hill. This could have happened if the Command Crawler had managed to destroy the Combat Drone and another unit and the Bomber squad took out another. Sadly for the Ghar, this was not to be. The Bomber hit bang on target, but only rolled 1 hit and then did no damage, while the Command Crawler got nowhere. Victory went comfortably to the Concord.

The last defenders succumb

Notes and Observations

1. I have been playing the more unusual scenarios to try and stop the games becoming and unfocused brawl, but I'm not convinced this one works. It's significant that the section of the rulebook on setting up terrain says to avoid placing hills in the centre as the battle will turn into a fight for the hill. This scenario is explicitly a fight for the hill. The Ghar had no room to manoeuvre and the Concord essentially got into decent firing positions and had no reason to move.

2. I didn't play the Ghar very well. They had spectacular bad luck, losing 2 Battle suits on the first turn, but they would have benefited from being more focused. I ended up throwing away firepower on the Combat Drone, because I saw it as the biggest threat, but the Ghar had little chance of damaging it. It only occurred to me late in the game, that the Ghar could actually have tried to break the Concord force, instead of just trying to survive. If they had focused their attention on softer targets, picking off the Strike squads one at a time and moving on to the lighter drones, they would have has a much better chance.

3. Introducing the Combat Drone put the boot on the other foot for the Ghar. They are used to being heavily armoured, but are not good at busting through it. Their highest strike value, from the Scourer Cannons set on concentrated, was 4, enough to put pins on the drone but still only able to damage it on a 10.

4. The Flitters were literally useless this game, not once did their targetting rule work. I definitely prefer Tectorists, 

5. Normally, I have Concord troopers fire on Ghar battle suits in standard mode, as this gives them a strike value of 2 and means they can pin Ghar without damaging them. In this game, thanks to the resilience boost of being behind an obstacle, that wouldn't work. This lead to me having one squad use rapid fire which gave them 2 shots each at strike value 0. The Ghar would still be damaged only on a 10, but with more shots and more hits this was much more likely to happen. The Concord got a bit lucky, hitting with 6 out of 8 shots, but doubling the number of shots still doubles the chance of rolling a 10. Something to remember for future games.

6. I have ridiculously bad luck with Plasma Amplifiers. I have used 6 over the course of 2 games and not one of them has lasted past the first turn of use, despite there being a 50/50 chance of this.

For the next game I'm going up to 1250 points, which is as high as I can go right now. I am thinking I might try a basic battle scenario playing for victory points.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Two Steps Forward...

I picked up the new Miniature Wargames magazine on Friday. I'm a sporadic reader of most wargame magazines, but I usually pick up Miniature Wargames at this time of year because it includes the Salute show guide. This is a probably unnecessary as they hand them out on the day, but I like the chance to look at it in advance and work out which stalls and games to look out for.

The guide includes details of the free show miniature, which, in keeping with the show theme of the Russian Revolution, is a Bolshevik Woman soldier. This is the second year in a row that the miniature is of a woman but, in contrast to last year's Steampunk Victorian lady, this year's miniature is more historically plausible. The guide includes a three page article on painting the miniature with three suggested colour schemes.

This is the headline for the article.


Oh dear.

The soldier's age is not easy to determine, fairly common for a 28mm model, but I suppose she could plausibly be in her late teens or early twenties. On the other hand, she could be older, in her thirties, forties or even fifties, depending on how she was painted. So why "girl." I don't think the 2015 miniature was referred to as "Archer boy" nor was the semi-mythical Greek soldier from 2014 called "Argonaut boy."

You could argue that I am being unnecessarily fussy about a fairly trivial thing, but, in a way, that's the point. This miniature does so many things right; it's historical plausible, sensibly dressed, no hint of a chain mail bikini or a skin-tight cat suit here, in a strong and commanding pose with no hint of being submissive or needing to be rescued. Given how male dominated the hobby is and how often miniatures of women are sculpted entirely to appeal to men, this exactly the kind of inclusive miniature that's needed. So why balls it up with a stupid headline in the accompanying magazine? And remember that this is the official show guide, it will be handed out in the same goody bag as the miniature, this is, in effect, the model's official name.

They managed to come so close and yet are still so far.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Beyond the Gates of Antares - But I feel fine

For my fourth game of Beyond the Gates of Antares I jumped to 750 points a side. This allowed me to add some command level reinforcements in the form of a NuHu Mandarin for the Concord and a Ghar Command Crawler.

Other than this, I largely kept my armies the same as the last game. I added a light support drone to the Concord and took away my Medium Drone's self-repair ability to make up the difference (not that it had had much effect in the last game). I also gave the Concord the Army Option "Block" which allowed them to return an order dice to the bag once per game.

The Ghar swapped out the Flitters for Tectorist Scouts, largely because I wanted to try them out, and upgraded both of their Battle Suit squads with Plasma Amplifiers, which, when activated, would give them an extra order dice each. Though there was a danger of them burning out in subsequent turns.

I decided to play the "Hold the Line" scenario, which would see the defending Concord guarding three objectives (represented by red crystals) from the Attacking Ghar. The Concord would deploy half their army at the start of the game with the other half and the Ghar moving on to the table from turn 1. I took the opportunity to try out the Lava game matt I got for Christmas.

 Deployment

I deployed the Concord strike squads to guard the objectives with the squads on the left and right flank set up with Ambush orders. In the event, they were joined pretty quickly by their reinforcements with the NuHu and Light Support Drone taking up position between the left and centre squads and the Medium drone between the Centre and Right.

 Concord assume defensive positions

The Ghar advanced quickly, with the Command Crawler and Battle Suits moving from slightly to the left of centre, while the Outcasts crept over the rocks on the right. The Tectorists were pretty evenly spread. The Ghar came under heavy fire straight away, with the Assault Suits taking a heavy pounding and lots of pins. They had to activate their plasma amplifier to get a bonus rally order and clear the pins, but it burned out the following turn. And then one of their number was destroyed.

The Assault Squad comes under fire

The Battle Suits did slightly better, making use of rocks for cover and advancing cautiously towards the left flank. The Command Crawler gave a decent account of itself, killing 4 of the centre Strike Squad, though the survivor passed his break test.

The Ghar were granted a brief respite on turn 3, when two Strike squads failed their command checks to activate, while the Outcasts were able to advance unmolested for a while as the Concord had better targets.

The Ghar advance stalls


Unfortunately for the Ghar, things took a dramatic shift on turn 4. A lucky shot from the NuHu's plasma pistol took out another Assault suit, while the Medium Drone damaged the Command Crawler costing it one of its order dice and putting six pins on it, while the right Strike Squad took out three of the outcasts. The Ghar had to spend the next turn consolidating and removing pins, though more failed Command checks prevented the Concord really pushing their advantage.

Ghar prepare for an all out assault

It was all or nothing for the Ghar now. The Battle Suit Squad advanced on the left Strike Squad, while the Assault Ghar assaulted and destroyed the Medium Drone. But, unless there was another turn, the Ghar had lost. The dice finally turned in their favour and the game continued to turn 7.

Assault Ghar destroys the Medium Drone

The Battle Suit squad assaulted the left strike squad, a high risk strategy given what happened to the Assault Suits in the last game. In fact, neither side proved spectacularly effective, with only two Concord killed, both sides ended up with three pins. This technically meant both sides had lost and had to make a break test. The Ghar passed theirs, but the Concord failed, surrendering the objective.

 The Ghar commence their Assault

With no chance of taking the central objective, it all came down to the right flank. The Strike squad shifted position to level all their firepower at the Assault Suit, but they didn't manage to do anything more than drop pins on him. But, then, in a spectacular display of shooting, the Outcasts and Command Crawler wiped out the squad. All the Assault Ghar had to do was activate to claim the objective. With three pins he needed a 5, but then he rolled a 10 and went Down.

 Command Crawler and Outcasts wipe out the Strike Squad

It seemed to be all over for the Ghar, but then I remembered that the Tectorists hadn't activated. Could they claim objectives? The scenario said it had to be an infantry unit. The Tectorists are described as a "special sharded infantry unit." They were unarmed, but claiming the objective required no enemies within 3", so it would have to be clear anyway. I couldn't find anything in the rules or FAQs that said they couldn't claim it. The Tectorists would have to sprint and pass an agility test to cross the Concord's barrier. He just about made, failing his test for exhaustion and gaining a pin. But it didn't matter, the objective was claimed and the Ghar won.

Observations

1. Adding a unit or units with the Command or, especially, the Follow ability really changes the character of the game. Follow allows units within 5" who haven't activated to be activated with the same order as the unit with Follow. It's faintly reminiscent of the way Might points can be used in Lord of the Rings to break the turn sequence. The NuHu made particularly heavy use of it to the point where she was given a Fire order, even though she was unlikely to be able to shoot much, but because it was more useful to give the order to the Light Support Drone and Strike Squad near by.

2. Pinning had much more of an effect in this game. Partly this was because of more effective shooting by the Concord who used their ability to have Strike Squad Plasma Lances shoot different targets to put pins on other units. Another factor may be the larger number of units, which meant more shooting. I can see pins becoming more of a factor as games get larger.

3. There's not much to choose between Flitters and Tectorists. Flitters are faster and have a longer range, but their effect doesn't always work. Tectorists are more consistent. On the other hand, Flitters definitely couldn't claim the objective which won the Ghar the game.

4. It felt like the Ghar had their bad luck at the beginning of the game and their good luck at the end, but having luck at the end was ultimately more useful.

5. Breaking up the sight lines did make for a more interesting game.

5. A bit of trivia of little interest to anyone except me, Beyond the Gates of Antares is the first miniature game I have played more than once which I have only ever played with entirely painted models. That particular hedge is to exclude demo and display games at conventions which are invariably use entirely painted models.

There may be a bit of a gap before my next game as I have to paint some more Ghar to get the points I need. Hopefully, I will be able to post some updates on my progress.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Beyond the Gates of Antares - An Unexpected Encounter

For my next Beyond the Gates of Antares game, I went to 500 points a size, the minimum supported by the army lists and tried some more varied units. I didn't fancy playing the most straightforward, "kill everything" scenarios, so I tried scenario 3, "An Unexpected Encounter." Both sides were trying to get into their opponent's deployment zone and stop their opponent doing the same. Each unit into the enemy zone was worth 3 victory points and each opposing unit destroyed was worth 2.

At only 500 points a side, I didn't have a lot of options, but I tried to make the two sides a little bit varied and interesting. The Concord had 3 strike squads, each with a plasma lance and spotter drone and a medium support drone with a plasma cannon, spotter drone and the self-repair ability.

The Ghar were a bit more varied. A squad each of Battle and Assault Troopers, a squad of Outcasts with a disruptor cannon and a shard of 6 Flitters. I purchased the "pull yourself together" army option to make up points and then forgot to use it all game.

I didn't take very detailed notes on this game, because I wanted to concentrate on the game, but I jotted done a few bits and bobs and took a few pictures.

 Deployment.

Each side was only allowed to deploy half their force, with the other half moving onto the table on the first turn once they passed a command check. The Ghar Flitters, as a probe unit, had to be deployed and they were joined by the Assault Squad. One Concord squad deployed in a wood, ready to defend the deployment zone from any approaching Ghar, while a second deployed ready to advance through some rocks on their left flank.

The Concord moved on smoothly on the first turn and advanced quickly. But there lead squad came under heavy fire from the Assault Ghar, whose Gouger guns were inaccurate, but good at pinning. They were backed up by the Battle Ghar who wiped out the squad before turning their attention to the Medium Support Drone, the firefight between the two would last all game.

 The Concord advance comes under fire

The more cautious second Concord squad advanced over the central hill and opened fire on the Ghar Outcasts, killing four of them. Surprisingly, the Outcasts passed their break test, but backed off.

However, the shooting attracted the attention of the Assault Ghar who launched a close assault. At this point, things went a bit strange. The Ghar's Disruptor Dischargers, essentially grenade launchers, killed 3 Concord, but the Concord responded with a lucky hit at close range, killing 1 of the Ghar. In close combat, the Assault Ghar should have had the overwhelming advantage, but they only rolled a 1 for their strike value (Plasma Claws have a 1d4 strike value, effectively a saving throw modifier) and couldn't get through the troopers armour. The trooper struck back, hitting the Assault leader who, failed his resistance roll on a 10, the only way he could fail, and then, amazingly, failed the re-roll, leaving only one solitary trooper remaining. Having both suffered heavy losses, both sides broke, but the trade was well worth it for the Concord.

 The Ghar assault does not go as expected.

By now, it had become apparent that neither side had advanced quickly enough to reach the opposing deployment zones, so it was all going to come down to casualties and, at this point, the Ghar had the advantage. The waiting Concord squad 1 broke cover and went after the Outcasts.

 The Outcasts come under fire

The Outcasts had the choice of standing and fighting or running and reducing the Concord's shooting effectiveness. It seemed more Ghar to shoot back, and they did have a Disruptor Cannon. The Outcasts gave a good account of themselves, killing 2 troopers, but in the end they were wiped out.

On the other side of the hill, the Battle Squad and Drone's fire fight concluded with the Drone immobilised and one of the Battle Suits destroyed, but this wasn't enough to score any points.

 An immobilised drone, destroys a Ghar Battle Suit

The game ended with a 2 all draw.

A few notes on the game.

1. It plays very well at this level; quick and simple but with enough crunch to keep things interesting. I was done in just over 2 hours. I hope it continues to scale this well.

2. Pinning continues to be important, but not decisive. No squad had more than 1 or 2 pins at any time except during the assault. In a larger game, it concentrating fire might be more possible, and that might prove more decisive. One thing I keep forgetting is that pins effect shooting and not just command roles. I'm still getting used to this mechanic.

3. Assaults don't play quite the way I expected. Ghar, with a strength of 10, are almost certain to hit, but they don't have a lot of attacks and even Assault Ghar don't have a huge strike value, so troopers have a good chance of surviving. Close range fire proved more effective.

4. Speaking of assaults, the one in this game was obviously atypical, but I'm glad BTGOA is the kind of game where these odd situations can occur. Personally, it's these bizarre situations that I remember best.

5. The Flitters survived the game largely intact, mostly because there were always greater threats than them to shoot at. They helped the Ghar, but didn't tip the balance.

5. I'm still not sure of the best tactics for the Concord to use against the Ghar. I think concentrating fire is key.

For my next game, I want to jump up a level to 750 points, which will let me use my Ghar Command Crawler.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Beyond the Gates of Antares - First Games

This post has been delayed a bit. My original plan had been to write a report on my first game of Beyond the Gates of Antares, using the Drone Integration scenario from the Warlord Games website. The point of the scenario is a very basic introduction which uses a cut down version of the BTGOA rules, all of which are printed on a single page. In principle, you don't need to use the rulebook at all.

The scenario pits 3 small squads of Ghar Battle Suits, each with 2 members, against 2 five person Concord Battle Squads and 1 battle drone on a smaller than usual table. The Drone starts the game deactivated and the Concord have to activate it, which should even the odds. The rules use the order dice activation system, but simplify pinning, shooting and morale and have no rules for close combat.

Deployment for the basic game


It's a nice idea for an introduction and allows you to get used to the order dice and pins. Unfortunately, the simplified rules leave the Drone very vulnerable. Although it can shoot more effectively than the troopers, it can only take one hit and isn't any tougher than the troopers.


Both sides come under fire, but the Ghar prove more resilient

The Concord started the game pretty well, one squad stayed put to cover the other while first squad ran to the Drone. Despite taking heavy fire, the squads got the Drone activated on turn 3. Unfortunately, the Drone didn't have much more luck shooting at the Ghar than the troopers and after taking heavy fire went down pretty quickly. With the Ghar undamaged and the Concord badly damaged, there didn't seem to be much point continuing.

The Ghar triumphant

Being somewhat disappointed by this first attempt, I decided to reconvene and play the scenario again using the full rules. I decided to let the Concord squads have one trooper with a plasma lance and a spotter drone each, while the Drone was equipped with a Fractal cannon, simply because it happened to be attached to the Drone.

 Deployment for the second attempt

The Concord deployed pretty much as in the first game, with Squad 2 covering Squad 1. Thanks to the full rules, Squad 1 were able to sprint to the Drone, but Squad 1 came under heavy fire losing four members of the unit and their spotter drone, thanks to a lucky hit. Amazingly, the 1 survivor passed his command check and stayed put.

 Squad 2 under fire

The Drone activated on Turn 2, but despite getting 2 order dice and firing twice, it didn't do any damage and only put pins on the Ghar. The Ghar's shooting wasn't any more effective and the left squad's advance was slowed by the rocky terrain after they failed their agility check.

Drone Activation

Turn 3 started well for the Concord when the Centre Ghar squad failed it's command check and went down, preventing it from activating. Unfortunately, the Drone followed suit, failing two command checks and staying down all turn. Squad 1 advanced towards the Concord deployment zone, but there shooting by both sides was largely ineffective, though the centre Ghar squad stayed down.

 The Concord Strike Back

The Concord finally made a breakthrough on turn 4 when the Drone managed to destroy one of the left Ghar squad, though the other passed its break test, though it then failed its command check to activate and went down. Concord Squad 1 continued its advance, while the last surviving member of squad 2 got lucky and destroyed one of the centre Ghar squad and then got very lucky when the other failed its break test and was removed.

 The first Ghar casualties

On Turn 5, the surviving Battle Suit in the left squad was destroyed, not by the Drone, but by a lucky hit from Squad 1, which continued its advance. The surviving Ghar squad made a last attempt to take out the Drone, but had no luck and the game ended with the Concord in control of their deployment zone and victorious.

 Concord secure the landing site

In retrospect, the Ghar probably lost because they concentrated their fire on the Drone once it activated, They would have been better off trying to wipe out the troopers, which would have forced the Drone to advance and weakened its shooting.

I have few general thoughts on the game.

1. Despite claims that the BTGOA rules are complex, I found them pretty intuitive and smooth. The order dice activation system is simple, and almost all dice rolling is based around rolling under a characteristic with a few modifiers. The only complication was the pin markers, I  kept losing track of exactly which tests removed them.

2. The Ghar are insanely tough. Most weapons only damage them on a 10. Even the Drones Fractal cannon only knocked it down to 6 or more, still a 50/50 chance of survival. At least the Concord, armed with plasma carbines, were able to put pins on them. Against Boromites, Algoryns or Freeborn who mostly use the weaker mag-guns, they would have counted as heavy armour and would only have taken pins if they were damaged.

3. This means they're probably not the best choice for an introductory scenario or a starter set. They're a fun faction to play and play against, but its like sending infantry against an army of tanks. It requires different thinking. This isn't conducive to learning the rules. Warlord appear to have realised this as their new starter set pits the Concord against the more conventional Algoryn.

4. I am actually really looking forward to playing this again with some slightly larger forces, which says something for its playability.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Like last time, but more so

While it's pretty much agreed that 2016 was an absolutely terrible year internationally, politically and environmentally*, from a personal point of view, it has actually been pretty good. I recognise that this isn't so much small comfort as complete and total absent of comfort, and possibly offensive, but I'm reaching here.

At work my job has changed so I am now making more money for more interesting work and I got back to Japan for the first time since 2016, which is kind of a lifelong dream realised for the second time. From a wargames perspective things have gone pretty well too.



At the start of the year I said I want to game more, paint more of my existing models and buy less. Overall, I haven't done badly. I finished my Warhammer Siege Campaign, finishing a bunch of long neglected models in the process. The year's second project, Beyond the Gates of Antares, saw me focus on models I had picked up at the tail end of 2015.

Beyond the Gates of Antares was supposed to be a small project, finishing just enough models to play a game and then move on. But, once I finished my first Ghar battle suit, I got so into it, that I got slightly carried away. While it's good to get excited about a project, I did break my "no new models" rule pretty comprehensively.



So, in summary, I made progress towards my goals without quite meeting them. With that in mind, my goal for next year is to focus on my existing models and buy as little as possible. Pretty much the same as last year, but this time with more success.

The other thing I want to do is update my blog more, with more up to date posts on my progress. Even if no-one reads them except me, reviewing old blog posts and finding month long gaps can be pretty motivational.

Finally, here's a last update of the year, a C3M4 combat drone for Beyond the Gates of Antares. I picked it up a while back because it was pretty heavily discounted. I pretty much stuck with my standard Concord colour scheme.



The C3M4 is a key component of Warlord's new introductory scenario "Drone Integration." The scenario is so introductory that it doesn't even require the full BTGOA rules, all the rules you need are printed on the sheet.



So my BTGOA plan is: 1) Play Drone Integration, 2) Play a 500 point game with the full rules, 3) Finish painting all my Concord and Ghar stuff and play a 1000 point game, 4) Move onto a new project, using only models I already own.



On to 2017, I'm hoping it gets better for the planet without getting worse for me.

*Seriously, David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Victoria Wood, Alan Rickman, Carrie Fisher etc etc and yet Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Rupert Murdoch are still breathing!