Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Shadow War Campaign - Dark Eldar and Blood Angels

It's been too long since my last update, but I have been working on my Shadow War project, it's just that a series of busy weekends, and a short break in Wales, have gotten in the way of updating the blog.

Anyway, I have finished off two more Kill-Teams and played one more game. The models from both of these teams date back to Warhammer 40,000 3rd edition. When it was released, I bought the boxed set, with its Space Marines and Dark Eldar. I tried expanding both sets of models to full armies. I didn't really get anywhere with either of them, but still have some of the models lying around.



The Space Marine Scout Kill-Team are metal models that were released just after 3rd edition. The current plastic scouts have the basic design, in my opinion, not executed as well. The current ones are a bit blocky and cumbersome. Their faces, in particular, are very square jawed. The old metals are much more fluid and elegant models, probably because they were sculpted as single pieces and not as a collection of parts.

I painted them as Blood Angels because my original army was supposed to be Blood Angels and I had the transfers. I stuck pretty closely to the colour scheme in the Shadow War rulebook, but tried to add some diversity in skin tones. It's a bit daft to suggest that in the 41st millennium everyone will be a uniform shade of white.

Generally, I think the more recent Dark Eldar models are a huge improvement over the originals, but I will make an exception for the Wyches. The new sculpts don't have the energy of dynamism of Chris Fitzpatrick's original, comic book style versions. I've had lots of them sitting around for years, neglected, so it was great to have an opportunity to put them to use. I stuck to a pretty straight forward purple and black colour scheme, with some deep red for hair. A pretty classic Dark Elf look that translates well to 40K.



I'm pretty happy with both of these Kill-Team. They're some of my sharpest and cleanest painted models (though the black backdrop I've started using for my photos helps).

Having finished both teams, I didn't waste any time in trying them out. For my second campaign game I played the Scavenger scenario. 6 loot counters were scattered across the board. For each counter held at the end of the game, roll a dice, a 6 got the team an extra data cache.



With hindsight, I played the Dark Eldar spectacularly badly. I split them into three groups and had them run, using their higher speed to grab the loot counters as fast as possible. The Syrin, the Team Leader, got first blood, shooting down one Scout. Unfortunately, I left them dangerously exposed and they were shot up by the Scouts with their superior range.



Instead I should have had them make use of cover to get them into charge range and deal with the Scouts hand to hand. After the last game in which both sides blasted ineffectually at each other, I clearly forgot that Kill-Teams that aren't even fully dressed, let alone fully armoured, are not immune to bullets.

 Sorry for the blurry picture, I think my camera flinched

Fortunately, the damage done to the Dark Eldar by my mishandling wasn't severe. Only two went out of action and both came away with "injuries" that were actually pretty beneficial. One ended up hating the Scout Sergeant and the other with fear-causing horrible scars. A few other Wyches gained some skills or profile bonuses and the team recruited a new member, a regular Wyche with a splinter pistol.

Ouch


The Scouts, however, did very well for themselves. As well as rolling a maximum 3 data caches for winning, they also got a bonus cache from the loot counters and most of them picked up bonuses of one sort or another. Rather than recruit a new team member, most of them picked up red-dot laser sights to improve their already pretty impressive firepower.

By way of an apology for the delay, here is a quick preview of my next Kill-Team. Still a work in progress.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Shadow War Campaign House Rules

We previously established that the Shadow War rules are exactly the same as the old Games Workshop game Necromunda, right down to the wording. However, the campaign rules, which allow your Kill Team to gain experience, acquire new equipment and recruit new members over a series of games, are somewhat different. For the most part, Shadow War simplified them, for better or worse.

As a proud owner of the original Necromunda rules, I had the choice to either follow the Shadow War rules or to import some, or all, of the campaign rules from Necromunda. To help make that decision, I summarised the differences between the two sets of rules in the table below.



Shadow War
Necromunda
Campaign
Subplots Each side rolls on a 2d6 table at the start of the game. Not Used Shadow War
Injuries D66 table. 1/6 chance of death D6 table. 1/6 chance of death Necromunda
Advancement 1 nominated fighter gains an advance after each game. Roll on a 2d6 table, favouring skills. After 3 games, a new recruit becomes a trooper. Fighters gain experience according to the mission. Once passing a set threshold, a fighter gains an advance. Roll on a 2d6 table favouring characteristic bonuses. A new recruit (Juve) becomes a trooper (Ganger) after gaining 20 experience points Necromunda
Recruitment 100 credits per game + 100 bonus for sacrificing a promethium tank (see below). Credits must be spent on equipment or recruitment. Any credits not spent are lost. Equipment must be assigned to a specific model and cannot be transferred. Gangs start with d6 territories generating random amounts of credit, adjusted for the size of the gang. This goes in a gang stash which can be freely spent on equipment and recruitment. Credits not spent remain in the stash Shadow War
Special Operatives Sacrifice a Promethium Tank to recruit an operative for one game. Operatives cost a set amount to hire and must be paid a fee each game to remain with the gang. Shadow War (with modifications)
Winning the Campaign After each game, the winning side gains D3 promethium tanks and the loser 1. To win, collect 15 tanks and win one more game. No set conditions, though Gang Rating (Total Credits + Total Experience) can be used to track gang progress Shadow War, but use Gang (Kill Team) rating to determine bonus experience.

The subplots table is a basic random table you roll on at the start of the game to add some extra interest. It isn't found in Necromunda but I saw no reason to leave it out of my campaign.

The injuries table was a bit of a no-brainer. You roll on it for each model taken out of action during the game to see what happens to them. The Shadow War one is a d6 table, with only 5 different results, while the Necromunda one uses a d66 for 36 different results. Games Workshop was a bit enamoured of d66 tables in the mid-late 1900s. These work by having you roll 2 6 sided dice counting one as tens and the other as units, giving a value of between 11 and 66, but with certain values missing (you can't get anything ending in 7-9 or 0). As the Necromunda table had more and more interesting results, I decided to use that, so far so good.

The experience rules presented a bit more of a dilemma. The Necromunda rules require a lot more book keeping, as you have to track what your fighters do during the missions and assign experience points accordingly. They can also be a bit unbalancing as a a kill-team that does well early on can get a big advantage. On the other hand, there is gang rating system that scores you gang based on a combination of points cost and experience, with the "underdog" getting bonus experience which can help to level it out. It also relates your fighters development to their actual behaviour in-game, so I decided to risk the balance issues and use the Necromunda version. Translating the experience scores from the Necromunda missions is pretty easy as all the Shadow War missions are copied, pretty-much straight, from the Necromunda book.

For the recruitment rules, I decided to stick with  Shadow War. Necromunda uses a system of randomly generated territories which generate a variable income. Like the experience rules these can be unbalancing, as gangs ongoing income is dependent on a random roll at the start of the campaign. Unlike the experience system, there isn't anything to offset this. The bigger problem for me though, was making the rules make sense in the context of my campaign. The rules describe gangs scavenging for scrap metal or dangerous chemicals, which might work for Orks or Dark Eldar, but is a bit odd for Space Marines or Sisters of Battle, who probably don't get supplies on the black market. I didn't think the effort required to re-write them for my campaign would be worth it.

I also decided to use the Shadow War Special Operative rules. These allow you to recruit more powerful or unusual fighters for one off games. Necromunda has similar rules, but its rules gives each operative a specific cost and allows you to keep them around between games if you keep paying it. As the Shadow War operatives all have the same cost, this doesn't really translate.

The Shadow War victory conditions were definitely staying, largely because Necromunda doesn't have any and I wanted my campaign to have a definite end point. Though I may reduce the number of Promethium Tanks required to win, depending on how long the campaign goes on and whether or not I get bored.

I did decide to introduce a house rule. In Shadow War, recruiting a special operative costs you a promethium tank. Given you need the tanks to win the campaign I didn't think I would ever use them. It wouldn't be worth the risk giving the winning side only gets d3 tanks, meaning that even if your operative is the difference between victory and defeat, you only had a 2/3 chance of coming out ahead. But, I do have some nice Special Operative models I would quite like to use, so I decided they could also be recruited by sacrificing the credits you get for recruitment between games. So, under my rules you can either recruit 100 credits of new models, buy 100 credits of equipment or recruit a special operative for the next game.

With the rules established, I wanted my campaign to have a bit of back story. I have six different Kill Teams planned and I wanted some excuse for them to be wandering around in the same place at the same time. I didn't want to get too elaborate, so I worked out the little story that follows.

Inquisitor Rudolphus was a controversial figure, skirting the line between reactionary and radical and never being entirely friendly to other side. He was, however, a greater collector and hoarder of artifacts, whether Imperial, Chaotic or Xenos. On his death, his archive was much sought after but never discovered.

Recently, a signal beacon started transmitting from the Hive World of Chet. The Seismic activity under the abandoned Prag Hive had allowed the beacon's signal to penetrate the atmosphere. This signal was identified as coming from Inquisitor Rudolphus lost archive. This contents of this archive are of great interest to dozens of factions and teams immediately set out to search for it.

For the purpose of my campaign "promethium caches" will be replace with "data caches" which provide my teams with information leading them to the archive. The final game will take place in the Archive itself, with the winners taking off with a collection of invaluable relics, treasure and information.

With the admin out of the way, here are a few pictures from my first game. The Sisters of Battle of the Order of the Argent Shroud took on the Death Guard Plague Marines. I didn't take many pictures as this was quite an impromptu game, as I was relearning the rules, and include (heresy) unpainted scenery.



The game started with a fire fight between the Plague Marine and Sister Specialists across the centre, while Sister Superior Winnifred lead a small group in an attack on the Plague Marine's left flank. Sister Winnifred took out Brother Scrofula with her Power Sword, only for her group to come under heavy fire. They weathered it well, with only one Sister going down and she recovered with a flesh wound.



The Plague Marine Champion, Brother Corpulous ran moved to fire on Sister Superior Winnifred, but missed and exposed his back to Sister Theodora who gunned him down with her Storm Bolter. With two out of five Plague Marines out of action and the Sisters stubbornly refusing to go down, the Plague Marines only lasted a couple more turns before bottling.


The Sisters did very well out of the game, securing 4 data caches, having rolled a three and getting a bonus one for having taken more than three times as many enemies out as they lost themselves. It wasn't all bad for the Plague Marines, however, thanks to the underdog bonus they all gained plenty of experience points and Brother Buboes gained the exceptionally useful "Scavenger" skill, giving them an extra 50 credits for recruitment, which allowed them to just barely afford an extra marine.

The Sisters also did well out of experience, also getting the Scavenger skill and recruiting another Sister. All of which means more painting before their next mission. Though, before that happens, I have four more gangs to paint.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

New Project: Shadow War

When Games Workshop first announced Shadow War: Armageddon I didn't pay much attention. It seemed like a way to flog their new industrial scenery by throwing together a game using the old Necromunda* rules and some Space Marine Scout and Ork models. Basically a smart use of existing assets, but not of great interest to me as a I already owned Necromunda first edition.


Games Workshop also didn't seem to expect much from it as they made it limited edition and let it sell out in about five minutes. They clearly underestimated the interest in their old games as this lead to a huge fuss online. To their credit, and uncharacteristically, GW responded to the complaints and released a paperback version of the rulebook on its own. In addition to the rules from the game, this also included the rules for additional Kill-Teams based on other armies that they had published online and a couple of new ones.

It was at this point I started to take an interest as I realised that I could put together about six gangs without having to buy a single model and, in one case, without even having to paint a single model. And, even better, I would be able to use some lovely old models that had been sitting around neglected.

Having finished my Beyond the Gates of Antares project and finished my Dwarf buildings, now seems like a good time for a Shadow War project. It's a bit of contrast to my last two projects, in that its based on small teams of models, which means lots of variety and that I can afford to take a bit more time over the individual models.

It's also likely to go slightly differently than my last two projects. For Warhammer Siege and BTGOA I basically painted enough models to play a game, played it, painted some more and so on. I'll probably start that way with Shadow War. I'll paint two Kill-Teams, play a game, paint two more and so on. But once I have six teams painted, I'll be more or less done with painting, barring a few new recruits that I might add to the Kill Teams as the campaign progresses.

On the other hand, the campaign is likely to last longer than three games, quite a bit longer. To actually win a campaign in Shadow War, a Kill-Team is supposed to collect 15 Promethium caches and then win one more game. The rules give the winner of each game D3 caches and the loser 1, play some scenarios give you the opportunity to win one more. This means that to win a campaign, a Kill-Team needs to play a minimum of 5 games (4 to collect the caches, if they are very lucky, plus one more win). And I have six Kill-Teams. Depending on how things go, I may reduce the number required to win, but I'm still likely to be playing games long after my models are all painted.

But, this gives me an opportunity. With the campaign still going on, I can turn my attention to a new painting project, probably an army-sized one that would require me to paint a lot of models before I can do any gaming. I haven't decided what that will be yet, but I have plenty of options.

In the meantime, here are my first two Kill Teams. The first are Sisters of Battle from the Order of the Argent Shroud. I've had Sisters of Battle sitting around for years unpainted and recently picked up some more because I thought (completely wrongly) that Games Workshop might be about to retire them. I painted them in the Argent Shroud colours because I knew I could do a decent and quick job using Army Painter plate metal spray as a base, having used the same trick for my Concord and Chaos Dwarfs


My second Kill-Team is the one I didn't have to paint. I've had my Death Guard Chaos Marines for years and haven't used them since Warhammer 40,000 4th edition, so this was a good chance to get them out and give them another chance. I painted them in double quick time for a campaign, mostly by dry-brushing grey over brown which gave them a slightly dusty look which I think works okay for Nurgle Marines. I think the painting stands up okay, though the champion's face looks a bit basic and I may at least try painting his eyes. My biggest regret is my choice of yellow-brown as a contrasting colour makes them look a bit purple even though they were only painted in grey.


More soon as the campaign gets under way.

*According to one reviewer who owns a copy of the second edition Necromunda rule book, it actually replicates them perfectly, right down to the layout as though they just did a bulk find and replace on the word "gang" and "gangers" and swapped out the design template.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

That's my beer!

Following my previous post on my lovely new Dwarf Brewery model, here are some pictures of it in action. I played a smallish, 2,000 point Warhammer game in which the Chaos Warriors of Azazel, Daemon Prince of Slaanesh, attempted to invade the Dwarf Brewery and steal all their beer. After all, who else would want to steel good Dwarf Beer but a Daemon Prince dedicated to the God of pleasure?

The Brewery building had two functioning floors and a roof. I decide the ground floor could be accessed from three side, and the second floor and roof from the side with the stairs. If the Chaos forces could drive the Dwarf defenders out or contest one of the floors, they would get a bonus 500 victory points. I set this condition quite low as the Dwarfs started out in control of the building.

The Brewery stood defiant, assisted by a cannon on the roof.
Dwarf Slayers wiped out the Forsaken in combat. At least the Forsaken got to do something this time though, instead of being wiped out by Organ Gun fire.
The Chaos Giant was shot dead by mass Dwarf crossbow and handgun fire. They were taking no chances after the last battle.
The Hammerers sold their lives dearly in defence of their beer.
Marauders assault the Longbeards on the ground floor, but were driven back. The Musician rallied the unit from his position on the bar. The Standard was too tall to fit in the ground floor and so took up position on the roof.
The Organ Gun was lethally effective, wiping out the Chaos Warriors and the fleeing Marauders.

In the end, the Dwarfs were able to hold the brewery. The Daemon Prince and Doom Knight finished off the Hammerers and the Cannon on the roof, but were too big to enter the building and too far away from the other three sides to assault the Longbeards.

A quick, messy and fun game that gave the new buildings a good workout. Having some proper dwarf scenery really added something. IT was also a good to give Azazel a workout. The model has been lying around for years since I picked him up cheap in some Games Workshop sale or other. I painted him up quickly for the game and he proved pretty deadly in combat.

That's one mini-project out of the way and so it's on to the next. More on that soon.

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.