Monday, June 21, 2010

Chess is a WARGAME!

Hey everyone,

So this weekend included a great deal of outdoor time in the sun, which was great but I did manage to get a little bit of hobby vibe going on. I originally started wargaming with a WFB dwarf army that I played when I was in my early teens. I tried to build it up but lack of money (even back then it was too expensive) and lack of players near me (I lived in a village of maybe 300 people in Cornwall, England) meant that I dropped it.

Still, having no new models meant I had painted everything up and so I put it up for trade recently. In a great jackpot moment, I found a guy who was getting out of Privateer Press games to focus his money/energy on WFB. We set up to trade and I managed to get a new Skorne Warpack for Hordes...

...and another Trollbloods starter pack plus some rulebooks

The rulebooks are from Mki and so not compatible with the current game, but they have some great background, artwork and modelling tips in them. I am feeling particularly inspired by the Pirates of the Broken Coast book that has all sorts of fun nautical-themed stuff going on. Can't wait to see that one redone for the new edition.

After congratulating me on my shiny new acquisitions, my wife asked if we could get a chess set. We played a bunch before and had a good time doing it but it was late on a sunday and neither of us had the energy to make a trip out to find an open store. Then my eyes fell upon the Skorne Titan Gladiator (the big tusked guy above) and I that looks like a queen that could take any other piece.

5 minutes with pen and paper plus a few miniatures later, we had a chessboard.

Admittedly it's a bit crowded but I tried to go for things that made sense.

Clicking in will show that Kroot and Fire warriors are pawns, the dreadnoughts and troll impalers are castles (dreads look like castles, impalers throw in straight lines), crisis suits and troll axers are knights (the knight funny movement is apt for a crisis suit I thought), Chief Madrak Ironhide x2 and Cyclops Savages (big sword chaps) are bishops, the queens are the aformentioned Skorne Titan and Gilgamesh from Ramshackle Games, and kings are reprented by the Skorne warcaster and Matilda Grey from Ramshackle.

The game was a complete blast though quite confusing as some of the pieces were bigger than the squares and so it was tough to see where the lines of attack etc. were. Still we had a lot of fun and Emily was great at making relevant sound effects as pieces were taken (it makes the game so much more fun).

So there's a lesson for you. You don't need a $15 chess set, you just need $200 of finely detailed miniatures and a great wife who will play along.

PS: She also said that the painted ones looked a lot nicer and she could see how it would be more fun to play against them in 40k/WM....perhaps I can talk her into helping with painting.

In other news, I finally finished my first Marneus Calgar figure painted in a white scheme rather than as an Ultramarine. (By the way, he is sitting on a copy of the Vegetarian Times cookbook, which has many tasty recipes. It also points out that veggies typically have a slower rate of age-related issues, including decline in sex drive and fuction so I'll be eating my veggie food so I can keep up the good times lol)
Front view

Rear view

And here he is facing off against the Titan Gladiator. You can see the big gaps on the titan model here. I can't decide whether to gap fill it or pull everything apart (it's superglued) and rebuild it with epoxy resin, pinning and putty to gap fill as I go along. Anybody have any thoughts? I'm leaning towards a rebuild because it would be more hassle if it fell apart after being all painted up.

Hope everyone's weekend was also good.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Played my first game of Warmachine this weekend.

So after months of moving apartments, managing life, getting used to a new city and being the proud parent to two dogs, I finally got a game in. It was warmachine and so this post will be a little lengthy to help those who've never played get a feel for the game flow compared to 40k/WFB.

The store where the Fail Gamers club plays in Frederick is called Hobby Town USA and it is quite frankly massive. The front part of the store must be 150x150 feet easily. It's about 10 times the size of most GW stores I've been in. It's not just wargames though as there are every kind of hobby option in there. In the back of the huge store is a seperate area with workbenches for radio controlled car fiddling (based on how many people were workign on it) then there is a huge (100x50) track for racing those cars on. Next to that is a long room where they have half a dozen tables set up for wargaming. There is a goodly stack of terrain that the club owns and it was cool to see it looming over us from the shelves.

I found two Warmachine players who were good enough to not only give me a starter game, but one of them sat out so I could use his models. He basically gave me free reign over his collection so I could play a small game with the other guy. What a nice gesture.

Our game was at 15pts, which is the starting level for most WM games and represents a small skirmish (units generally go in cost from 4 to 10 points, warjacks are 4-12, solos 1-5, just to give an idea of the game level). The only model that is free is your warcaster, who represents your general and is critical not only for their power, but because you lose the game if they die.

I was given control of the Protectorate of Menoth, a group of religious folks who would be very happy if everybody worshipped Menoth. If everybody won't worship him, the protectorate would be happy to set everybody on fire. There is a strong theme of faith and fire in this army. My opponent had Cyngar, who specialise in ranged combat and lightning.

My army was (all pics from Privateer Press):
High Exemplar Kreoss is quite well rounded as warcasters go. His combat ability is strong, but not excessive, he has good spells but can't win solely through them and his feat (a once-per-game spell each warcaster has) knocks down everyone in his control area, making them easy for your other troops to hit and forcing them to waste their turn standing up.

Crusader Heavy Warjack. This is a pretty basic heavy jack that hits people with a flaming mace, or can smack them with its open hand (or throw them, headlock, armlock etc.). It's a basic, but well regarded beatstick.

The Castigator brings two open fists (now we can two-handed throw models) that also sport flame throwers. As a special ability it can set everything around it on fire, then wade in with fists swinging.

Holy Zealots bring the power of the massed faithful to Menoth's cause. They are armed with maces, but mostly go into battle to throw their hand grenades. They are a cheap unit that can bring a lot of pain if you let them get too close. Definitely a tough one to face as you either spend precious time/firepower/attacks dealing with them (leaving the other foes alone) or you risk getting grenaded to pieces.

The Paladins of the Order of the Wall are holy warriors who believe in redeeming the populace and can be at odds to the rest of the priesthood who favour inquisitors and cleansing fire. In battle though they bring magical weapons that hit very hard as they are weapon masters (meaning +1D6 damage on each attack).

This army pointed up as:
Kreoss: -5 pts
Crusader: 6 pts
Castigator: 8 pts
6 Zealots: 4 pts
Paladin: 2 pts

Now there was a big change when Warmachine Mk2 came out to make warjacks more useful. In the first edition they became overshadowed by infantry for effectiveness and the game was often called Infantrymachine. No longer though. The revamp to the entire game let the developers up the abilities of warjacks and make them more important. One method was by making warcasters cost nothing and giving them a number of warjack points. These essentially are free points that can only be spent on warjacks. So my 20 point army above is actually 15, as I can use Kreoss to save me 5 points on one of the warjacks. A good idea and it can make playing different casters intersting as they have different points (generally 5-7 jack points though).

My opponent's army was much less melee oriented and his plan was to bring me down at range.

Lt Allistair Caine - think a warcaster who stars in a John Woo Wild West movie. Two pistols, lots of speed and a feat that murders infantry (he gets one free shot at everything within 12", regardless of other models in the way)

Defender Heavy Warjack - A heavy jack with a nasty hammer (burns out jack cortex controls) and the biggest cannon in the game.

Arcane Tempest Gun Mages - Tricksy pistol wielding folks who have access to special ammunition. Like a squishier version of Sternguard veterans.

Arcane Tempest Officer - Leader for the gun mages who also can be a jack marshal, giving him control over a warjack.

Hunter Light Warjack - A very Tau-like jack that isn't so tough but wields a nasty armour piercing cannon designed to take on big jacks and do damage to them. This jack was marshalled by the AT officer, meaning he could fire the same special shots as the mages. Imagine a dread who can fire special sternguard-type ammo....yep, nasty.

The Game

I won the roll to go first. Kreoss gets seven focus points per turn and I gave one to each warjack as they need them to do anything other than move and attack. This means running, charging, special attacks, boosted attacks (more likely to hit/more powerful) and extra attacks all need focus. I knew I would have to close to stop getting shot to pieces so basically everyone ran forward this turn. Running doubles their speed at the cost of any other action. Kreoss didn't run until after he'd cast a defensive spell on the Crusader warjack. He and the Paladin also tucked in behind the warjacks so they couldn't be shot easily. I wasn't too worried at this stage as Kreoss had 3 focus left and each point added 1 to his armour. In my opponent's turn, he used the hunter's armour piercing gun (boosted by the jack marshal's special ammo) to cripple one arm from the Castigator (ouch) then used the gun mages special ammo to push it backwards. The defender killed a zealot and not much else happened.

My second turn I charged in again, getting as close as I could while still being protected. Nobody could reach anything at this point sadly though. In return, the gun mages pushed the castigator back, opening up the Paladin to be shot and he was duly taken to pieces. My zealots also lost two more of their number to Caine's deadly pistols. The defender managed a sniped (extended range) shot into the Castigator and cripplied its legs, meaning no running or charging, drat!

It was crunch time on turn 3 as I couldn't keep taking all this fire without doing anything. I moved Kreoss forwards so that all of my opponent's models were in my control area (a cirlce 2x the size of your focus stat, so 14" in my case) and popped my feat, knocking everyone down. My crippled Castigator waddled forwards, the zealots moved up to bomb the downed defender, crippling the gun arm and my crusader came out menacingly, ready to charge next turn. Kreoss was the star though as he dropped a flaming template spell that killed off four of the gun mages, including their officer. The marshalled Hunter warjack became inert and could only be recovered by Caine getting all the way over to it and spending a turn in B2B...not going to happen. My opponent had to spend his turn standing up but he moved the Defender into B2B with the Crusader, hoping to block off a charge against Caine. The warcaster used his focus and deadly gun skills to wipe out the zealots.

In my turn, I pumped focus into the crusader to give it multiple attacks and it happily smashed the defender into pieces. Knowing I had no way to get Caine this turn, I ducked Kreoss into cover behind the jack. My opponent then used his gun mages to push the crusader back, just far enough for Caine to get a shot. Caine went all out, popping his feat so he got a free shot at my three models, then buying as many shots as possible to try and gun down Kreoss. I took a lot of damage but hung on with 5 points left.

In my turn, the crusader and Kreoss both charged Caine and by using all of the focus we had, managed to land a hit on the tricksy warcaster (he's evasive but not tough) and defeat him. I also move the Castigator into combat with two of the remaining 3 AT gun mages, just in case we don't get Caine down this turn. Phew, close game!

Thoughts on a new game system

Well I really enjoyed my first foray into Warmachine. I can definitely see this being a game I keep up with. Unlike 40k, where I like to stay at range for the most part, I found myself itching to get in close to hit things and make a mess in melee. The models are really fun and the way they play together is very interesting.

The Good
- Sequential models, not phases. Each model does its own thing before the next goes. This is a huge change from 40k where everybody moves, then shoots etc. It adds a whole different layer with the combinations that come up with it. This was a simple game but I figured out to activate Kreoss first when I did his feat so that everyone else could take advantage of the easy-to-hit knocked down foes. My opponent used his AT gun mages to open up lines of fire to my paladin and warcaster for other models to take advantage of. I think this will take a while to get used to as it is quite ingrained for me to consider my own models as cover that can't be removed unless they are totally destroyed.
- Damage grids. I love how the warjacks and warcasters have damage boxes that need to be filled out before they are destroyed. It gives a good challenge to hit them hard enough to bring them down, while still letting units contribute until they are completely destroyed. I don't like how a penetrating railgun round has the same chance to blow up a rhino as a Land Raider once it gets past the armour. Here you can tell the difference between a Cryx Bonejack with maybe 18-20 damage boxes and a Khador heavy jack with 34.
- Spells and funky abilities. Nearly every unit has some cool thing it can do that can work really well with other units. Combinations are a big part of the game and finding the best ways to use your units together is the difference between winning and losing.
- Feats. I love the way each warcaster gets a great big dollop of kick*ss once per game. It really gives you a way to turn things around and make the opponent pay but also adds a layer in that you need to be careful not to pop it too early, or too late.

The Bad
Nothing much so far ;-)
- In the future though, I can see the frustration at playing against somebody who knows the models inside and out and pulls out a combination that I haven't even considered. I'll reflect on this after more games though.
- The expense. I know that I'm tempted by so many models and they can be relatively pricey ($20-45 per warjack). The good thing is that the game can be played from the lowest points levels upwards so there is no feeling of having to buy another $200 of models just to play (like I feel about my Tau).

So hopefully you enjoyed reading this far and I look forward to hearing any thoughts or questions.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Painted Ramshackle Figures

Hey all,

A brief update on my painting. I've not had much time to do it what with commuting a lot more now (1hr trainride each way - nice views though) and having two dogs who need a lot of attention. I try to get some done each weekend at the least as my wife (plus dogs) like to sleep in and get extra shut-eye. I take the opportunity to brew up some nice coffee and start painting or writing, depending on my mood.

In any case, the attention to detail needed for the Harbinger of Menoth, the layering needed for my SM honour guard and Marneus Calgar figures plus the sheer quantity of unpainted, large surface area vehicles I have yet to do meant that I was feeling uninspired.

Instead, I went into my massive collection of Ramshackle figures (I have all but about 4 figures that they produce) and pulled out a simple, easy one. It was a chance to work through a model from start to finish without too many worries of complex details or thinking up a fancy colour scheme. Instead I went with the muted look and had fun with it.

This led to a burst of inspiration and before you know it, I've finished off the entire Society Against Mischief (4 figures) as well as doing a mostly finished Oliver Sprockett (from the Society of Intrepid Explorers). Now I have 8 well-to-do Victoriana figures just raring to bring some good manners to those ruffians in the radioactive wastes of the future.

Here we have (L-R) Fidelia St-John Smythe the sniper, Spanny (technically not Victoriana, but she was another cool resin figure to work with), Thaddeus Borlase-Arlington, Archibald Trumpton on Buzzby his vehicle, Oliver Sprockett and his calculating machine, and Matilda Grey the medic.

Here they are swapped around so you can see the parrot Thaddeus has, the cool letterig on Sprockett's printout, and Spanny's rather high-cut hot pants ;-)

Last up is the Society with their vehicle, The Brass Coffin. Sadly the shield broke during our move here but a bit of resin fixed that up. I've also added an assault marine for scale. What's interesting is that he looks pretty bulky compared to the Ramshackle figures, giving you a good idea of what a true-scale figure would look like relative to a marine. Some of the GW human figures are really bulked up when looked at this way. You can see now why Fidelia comes with a dinky small base, since she's supposed to ride in the tank and take down enemies that way.

Also in the photo, note my 3 new Privateer Press P3 paint pots. I have Menoth White Base, Menoth White Highlight and Morrow White. I really like the trend PP have of making base coats for their major schemes (i.e. Cygnar Blue, Khador Red) and then providing a complimentary highlight colour. It really helps keep the tones even and highlighting consistent when you know the pigments are in the same shade. They are really easy to blend as well and water down excellently without getting thin or failing to cover.
The paint pots are like the old-school GW ones with the airtight lid that pops closed afterwards. They come sealed from the factory too, which is nice as I always wondered how I would know if my GW paints had been used by somebody else since they lack any kind of seal. They have about 18ml of paint in them I believe, giving them a price advantage over GW at their similar basic cost. To be honest, I can see me replacing all of my GW paints with these as I run out/dry out of the paints I already have invested in. They really do cover nicely, thin out well and are better value for money. I'm sure there will be a few colours that are challenging to match but I'm happy to work around that. The only downside is that the paints are too tall for my little set of drawers I keep the GW paints in.

I hope everyone is doing well and I will continue to update my progress on things as and when I get time.

All the best,


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sorry for the quiet - I have two dogs! Also a new Ramshackle Release

Hey all,

My posting has not been what it should have been recently and mostly I blame the sheer exhuberant nutcase joy of getting not one, but two great dogs.

So here are my two engines of great cuteness and destruction. They have no rules so far (we're trying) but many strength D+ attacks can result from their behaviours.

And just for a funny face moment. This guy makes me smile all the time with his crazy face antics. He's a complete nutcase but also very loving and adventurous. He's happily tried bread, cottage cheese, spinach, sugarsnap peas, icecubes and frozen blueberries without complaint or digestive issues. The little guy must be buzzing with vitamins and antioxidants by now ;-)

In other news, Ramshackle's Curtis got my corpse markers so hopefully we'll see some resin casts of those up for sale on the website sometime. Also he is releasing some new stuff and venturing into Fantasy. I don't play those game systems but I could see the giant making a great venture in a NR battlefield as a result of radation leaking.

The Hill Giant is part of an upcoming range of fantasy models. The range will launch with the Hill Giant and orc archers shown, plus a bolt thrower with goblin crew, a goblin war giant and two mounted goblin mages. Trolls will also be available.

The fantasy models are to compliment Ramshackle Games range of post apocalyptic figures and vehicles. The next Nuclear Renaissance release will be a set of metal bikers and new resin bikes.

Looking good to me. I can't wait.