Monday, 23 January 2017

Batman: War Games

As I alluded to in my previous post, I was at another Batman Miniatures Game tournament. Again I was at the (newly done up, with heating and everything) Holmfirth Gaming Centre for another Animosity themed event.

This time the event had the players split into three teams which each had mission objectives on top of the normal 'try to win' goal. They were:
  • Batman & Law: needed to arrest of KO more than half the opposing crew
  • Underworld Unleashed: needed to casualty more than half the opposing crew
  • J.A.N.U.S. Directive: needed to kill the opposing leader
Given the less than stellar result of my Justice League 'experiment' last time, this time I decided to take things a little more seriously and break out the filth:

The crew list was as follows:

Arkham City Joker (Leader)
Hush (Free Agent)
Suicide Squad Captain Boomerang (Free Agent)
Ringmaster (Henchman with Grapple Gun & Antidote)
Borgon (Henchman)
Sniggering (Henchman)
Contra Auguste (Henchman)
Clown with Shield (Henchman)

My basic plan was to use Joker's slightly naughty explosive teeth and Sniggering to soften up the opponent (possibly with the aid of Joker Gas Canister objectives), for the henchmen and Hush to beat up when they got close. Captain Boomerang would make straight for his priority target and (or so I thought) leg it in classic Catwoman fashion. Hush and Joker also combined their abilities to give me a few pre-game advantages - more counters in the bag than my opponent for turn activation and being able to cancel opposing strategies (which nobody else can do now the Batmatch rules are in place).

Well, that was the plan, anyway...

Game 1 - Joker vs Bane (Sammy) - Street Fight

As I was using Joker, I was placed in the Underworld Unleashed team, and my first game saw me paired against Sammy's Bane crew, which were part of the J.A.N.U.S. Directive. I've played Sammy at the last event and I learned all about how not to use Hawkgirl as Sammy's Penguin thugs clipped her wings en masse. His Bane crew looked like this:

Dark Knight Rises Bane
Suicide Squad Deadshot
Ted Hunter
Mohawk (with a Grapple Gun)
Axe Prisoner
Smoke Bomb Prisoner (with Backpack)

We were paired on the Gaming Centre's newest Batman board, which posed some interesting tactical quandaries, especially given that we had corner deployments. We pretty much knew that there would be an almighty clash on the centre of the bridge...

...except there wasn't.

This was a really strange game, as we ran out of time on turn three. I don't know if we were playing slowly (it didn't feel like it), we took too long setting up, or we didn't have the same amount of time as the other games, but we had to end the game before the crews clashed properly.

The beginning saw my gas canisters deal out minimal damage, despite Hush ensuring that Sammy's Fast Advance was cancelled so the Bane crew remained tightly packed, due to Deadshot conveniently having Leadership, allowing them to reroll their Willpower rolls. We both moved cautiously towards the bridge and grabbed loot. I took an extra turn to get Boomerang to his loot, but this was balanced out by Sammy forgetting to grab the loot with his backpack guy, preventing him from simply running off with it. I was wary of Deadshot, who surprisingly took two goes to put Sniggering out of action. Meanwhile, Joker took advantage of the tightly packed henchmen on the bridge to dish out liberal damage, eventually KOing Smash.

What turned out to be our final turn saw a concerted effort to take Shield Clown (who was on 'get in the way' duty) out of the game, and in return, Ringmaster swung down from the bridge to not only KO the Smoke Bomb prisoner, but also deny Sammy from scoring his loot in the final round. I picked up a scenario VP for holding more objectives...and that was it.

It was a shame we didn't get to play more as it was shaping up to be a really even game and the the crews were about to clash. I think the Bane henchmen are a bit better in combat, but they were almost all carrying damage from Joker and the cannisters, and both Boomerang and Hush had full ammo. It would have been a fun fight.

Anyway, it was an interesting prelude and a draw was a fair result.

Final Score: Joker 7 - Bane 6

Game 2 - Joker vs Riddler (Jimmy) - Fight For Gotham

For this game I was paired against another J.A.N.U.S. Directive crew, however, this time I was against the Riddler, a crew I've never actually played against. Having never played against Riddler, I didn't really know what my best strategy would be, but looking at his line up, it seemed certain that I was going to have to shut down a few Riddler Bots...

Arkham Knight Riddler
Classic Deadshot
Captain Boomerang
Axe Prisoner
Six...count 'em...six Riddler Bots

There are apparently different types of Riddler Bots, but even after playing, I'm no clearer on which ones are which. I'd be chasing these guys around the Lian Yu board that had caused me issues in previous events. This time, however, as a special table rule, there was guaranteed fog, which reduced vision (for everyone except Joker and Deadshot) to 20cm.

Jimmy deployed in a long line, clearly intent on spreading out to drop clues everywhere he could. I opted for a fast advance to get me up the board and enable me to get stuck in as soon as I could, and get to my own objectives to counter Riddler's steady flow.

Hush ran up the left on his own, popping off shots at Bots that he passed, and even killing one, before he got to my Ammo objective to start racking up points. Captain Boomerang and Ringmaster went up the right to secure the loot. Once this was grabbed, Boomerang began taking out Bots with pinpoint accuracy, whilst Ringmaster turned on the pace to run to the Titan Container in the centre of Jimmy's deployment zone.

In the centre, Sniggering blasted a Riddler Bot and managed to survive a strangely inaccurate Deadshot. Joker's teeth blew a hole in the Riddler's line, and the clowns poured through, pouncing on those who'd been knocked down by the explosion. Shield Clown was brought down by Jimmy's Boomerang, but he, in turn, was taken out by Sniggering, who was surprised to find him close enough.

Riddler tried to turn the tide against the clowns, repairing Bots and knocking out Contra Auguste, but the game was really up when Joker sauntered up and took him out with the One Shot Gun. At the end of the game, Deadshot, outnumbered and out of ammo was swarmed and brought down. The final tally was even worse because the scenario granted me extra VPs for everything I killed.

In retrospect, this was one of those game where the scenario, the board and the crew match-up all favoured me, as there was nothing to stop my guys getting to grips with the Bots. Top add insult to injury, Deadshot was misfiring, whilst Joker was on fire - pretty much everything I did went right. I admire Jimmy for keeping his spirits in the face of such dire circumstances.

Final Score: Joker 53 - Riddler 19

Game 3 - Joker vs Two-Face (Chris) - Skirmish

It was time for me to face the Law...yes, I know it's Two-Face, but sometimes things need to stretched to make the teams, and at least he was a lawyer.

Game 3 would be against Chris, the organiser of the event. Chris has been at all the Animosity events, but I've never played him. What's more Two-Face is another crew that due to circumstance, I've never faced. A quick glance revealed that whilst I probably had the advantage in combat, Chris certainly had more guns.

Arkham Origins Deadshot (yes, I faced all three versions in one day...yay!)
Mr Pink (guess which one he is...)
MG Goon
Axe Goon
2 Hammer Goons

We would be playing on the bizarre Joker's Fun House board (it seemed appropriate). Replete with mirrored surfaces and perspex, getting your head around what you could see was tricky. I opted to deploy at the top end to deny Chris from getting some sniper towers for his guns. I also chose Fast Advance again to enable me to get to grips with the foe quickly, and as Two-Face, Deadshot and the MG Goon deployed on my right, I formulated a plan to place my objective on the left, so that I could get forward without worrying about guns.

After not bothering against the Bots, I once again broke out the Joker Gas Canisters, which were really effective against the low willpower goons, putting blood damage on almost all of them. The first turn also saw Sniggering execute a Two-Face Goon who was standing too close to a lamppost.

On my left, Captain Boomerang ran forward to grab his loot, before heading to the centre, whilst Hush ran past to take out another Goon and jump on the Ammo, where he was happy to stay for the remainder of the game. Meanwhile, Ringmaster swung down to intercept Boris, before he could do anything to stop Hush, and slowly beat him into unconsciousness. Despite the fact that Mr Pink grabbed his priority target loot as well, this meant that without anything else happening, there was a steady 3VP advantage to me each round, which steadily began to build during the game.

In the centre, Chris wisely avoided bunching, which meant that Joker really had to target the solitary MG goon, and so the exploding teeth were all used on knocking him out. Christ has placed his objectives in the open near the middle of the board, forcing me to choose to defend them and get shot, or hide.

I opted for a slightly different tactic, my clowns spread out to cover and ran an intercept strategy, either blocking the way forwards, or running out at opportune moment to prevent Chris scoring from his objectives. Shield Clown was shot early (guess who by) but Borgon did a sterling job of activating late to contest Chris' Ammo, and ensured that he only scored off it for one round.

Man of the Match was Contra Auguste, who somehow managed to survive beign shot at by Two-Face (twice) and Boris and mauled by Axe Goon long enough to slow them down, forcing them to keep moving to get shots on him.

The final turn saw the game turn heavily in my favour, as Joker stepped out from hiding to One Shot Gun Deadshot to the floor, for Borgon to step out again an smash his head in. Captain Boomerang used his monitoring device to shoot round corners and take out the Axe Goon.

I was really pleased with how this game played out. I was a little fortunate with Contra Auguste's extended death scene, but overall my strategy of frustrating Chris' attempts to score worked well. By this point in the day it was beginning to dawn on me that having two people who could shoot round corners, whilst being able to manipulate the number of activation counters and cancel opposing strategies was actually really quite powerful. This was another really fun, but challenging game.

Final Score: Joker 39 - Two-Face 21

Game 4 - Joker vs Batman (Reuben) - Patrol

It seemed fitting that the final game would see Joker pitted against Guano-Man. I've actually played Reuben twice before, and both times he's been fielding a lot of police. The first time we played, Poison Ivy did terrible things to his henchmen, and the last time, Batman made the Penguin run and hide. I enjoy playing Reuben, and this game was no exception.

Dark Knight Rises Batman
Commissioner Gordon
SWAT Alpha
SWAT Bravo
Agent O'Connell
2 GCPD Detectives (one of them is the Rorschach model)
Female Cop

This game saw me playing Patrol on the city street board, which I've played on twice before...doing the Patrol scenario. I kind of knew how this game would play out and decided to use a defensive strategy to wear down the cops as they slogged across the board, whilst Ringmaster and Hush made a dash over the rooftops and through the sewers to reach my objectives. I wasn't sure what I would do about Batman, as he was more than a match for any of my guys in combat, but I hoped that Ringmaster might lure the Bat into chasing him away from the main fight.

Batman began by zipping down the street and using his EMP strategy to put out the lights around him, whilst the cops ran up behind, securing loot and taking pot shots at clowns lit up by Gordon's aerial support. The clowns clustered behind the white car for cover, whilst Boomerang grabbed loot Reuben had conveniently placed nearby. Hush jumped in a sewer, Ringmaster took to the rooftops, whilst Joker detonated the SWAT team to minimal effect due to their bulletproof vests.

The cops continued to advance at pace, their better firepower causing the clowns to withdraw, but not before Sniggering managed to kill one of the Detectives and Contra Auguste took significant damage. With Batman not taking the Ringmaster bait, I ran Borgon forward to the alleyway, hoping to lure Batsy away and keep him fighting by stacking my Defence dice. However, I forgot about this Batman having Sneak Attack, and Borgon suddenly found himself on the receiving end of 6 stun damage and a knockdown. Things looked bad.

Simply because he was in range, I took a chance with Captain Boomerang, who threw his LE Boomerang round the corner to inflict 4 blood damage on the Dark Knight. He then, thanks to the fact that I had the advantage in activation counters and got first turn again, followed up with a regular boomerang. This, due to his ability to re-roll to hit and damage, inflicted another bunch of damage, knocking out the Bat in two rounds. I didn't see that coming, and neither did Batman. Literally.

From this point, Reuben was in trouble. His cops were running out of ammo and he needed to get Batman back in the game. Agent O'Connell leaped out of sewer to knock out Borgon and protect Batman, but Hush did the same, killing the second Detective and persuading Gordon to act at the wring time to do anything about Ringmaster, who swung down into Reuben's deployment zone, and grabbed a Joker Gas Canister for good measure. Bravo made a dash towards my deployment zone, but fell short by a couple of centimetres.

Another really good game, I was fortunate with Boomerang taking Batman down, but having re-rolls and the ability to shoot round corners, there was a good chance of doing significant damage anyway. I think I've got the measure of this board and knew that running up the centre into gunfire was a bad idea, and my strategy with running Ringmaster over the rooftops was sound and effective. Had we played on a more conventional board, I think Batman might have been able to terrorise my clowns more effectively.

Final Score: Joker 21 - Batman 5

So, after four games and three solid wins, I was delighted to find myself in second place overall. First place was taken by Mark, who won all of his games, including his last one against a Cyborg/Starfire/Batsignal crew in which he heroically one-shotted Starfire on the first turn, knocking her out with a multi-fire attack from Green Arrow, which caused her to fall to the ground, killing her. Everyone agreed that this alone was worthy of the win.

As ever the prize support was excellent, and I won a Mr Freeze Crew starter set, a limited edition Harvey Bullock stat card and a certificate for finishing as the highest placed Underworld Unleashed player. Yes, of course I've framed it. It will go with the only other gaming trophies I've ever won: WPS Club Challenge Most Sporting Warhammer Player and the GIMPS (our old club) Bloodbowl League Champion (I didn't get a second one when I won it for a second time).

All in all, it was another cracking day out, and I'd like to say a big thanks (if they're reading this) to Animosity (especially Chris), the staff at Holmfirth Gaming Centre and all my opponents. These events really are played in the right spirit by everyone who attends.

In terms of what I learned, here are my 5 takeaways from the day:
  • Arkham City Joker is very, very good for his points. His ability to control the game beginning (activation counters), middle (exploding folk with no risk to himself) and end (using the one shot gun to finish the job) is frightening.
  • Under the new Batmatch rules, which ban the Snitch strategy, Hush's ability to cancel the opponent's key strategy, whilst your own is guaranteed is signifiantly more powerful. He's also a solid Free Agent in game.
  • Captain Boomerang is excellent. Although a little slower than Catwoman on loot grabbing, his lethal ranged ability allows him to contribute much more to the rest of the game. Having both him and Joker shooting round corners felt a bit dirty...but, you know, the good sort of dirty...
  • Ringmaster is underated. Whenever I see him discussed, the focus is always on damage. However, he is durable, versatile and mobile. In ideal candidate for heading off alone to grab an objective, especially if given a grapple gun.
  • I need to speed up. With more models than I'm used to, I need to play faster as in all but the second game, we were struggling for time.
I'm not sure if I'm going to stick with Joker next time, as this was a very successful crew set up. However, I do like to use the all the models I've painted and there are still Black Mask and Wonderland Gangs I have yet to use. I've also got the Freeze Crew and the Suicide Squad box to work through, so who knows. Mind you...the Suicide Squad box has Joker stuff...and Deadshot...hmmmm...

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Dynamic Duos

A quick post with some eclectic pairings I've been working on recently.

First up are the Doctor and Amy Pond from Crooked Dice. These models are sadly out of print now, along with pretty much all of Crooked Dice's not-Doctor Who models; clearly an unfortunate result of the imminent release of the official Doctor Who game from Warlord Games. However, I was fortunate to scoop these up from Grekwood Miniatures remaining stock and so can actually do some of the Doctor Who gaming I've been planning for so long.

As ever, Crooked Dice models are a pleasure to paint. Matt Smith is not my favourite Doctor, but these are lovely sculpts, and there are no decent David Tennant sculpts out there (Heresy probably did the best, but that's disappeared recently too) so there'll more than do the job for my gaming needs.

Next up, some reinforcement for my fledgling HYDRA forces. The guy on the right is the Silver Samurai; can you guess why he's called that? He's a Dixon miniature, I think, that I picked up from a show for this reason and was, as you can imagine, a doddle to paint.

The last time I used my HYDRA forces, the henchmen found themselves horrendously out manoeuvred by Daredevil and Black Widow, and one of the main reasons for this was that they struggled to generate enough plot points to activate. Therefore, I decided to add a Minion Commander to the team to enable me to use the Minion unit card and free up some plot points in game. I'd previously converted this model to turn into Baron Zemo, so I needed to replace his weapon hand, and a radio seemed appropriate for a commander.

The final pairing includes Captain Boomerang from the BMG Suicide Squade boxed set. I'll admit to having felt a bit overwhelmed when 14 new miniatures suddenly needed painting, and have shied away from starting on them. However, I'm off to another event tomorrow, and wanted to include Captain Boomerang, so that seems to be motivation I was needing.

The model itself was surprisingly simple to do, something that I think is due to him wearing clothes rather than a costume. The unicorn was made from some bits I won at a previous tournament and is both a nod to the movie, and actually based on a game mechanic as Captain Boomerang has Primary Target: Loot (Unicorn), so I'll be using the unicorn as a loot counter in games.

I'm really enjoying my eclectic painting at the moment, so expect it to continue.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Scarper! It's the Rozzers!

The main part of the second of my 7TV starter sets. This time it's the Police. These five come with a Tough Detective, Investigative Academic and a Marksmen, however, at least for now, I'm not sure that those three models, lovely as they are, really fit the humdrum seventies feel of these five, and so I'm going to be backing them up with a couple of, in my opinion, more suitable models which you'll see over the next couple of days.

First up is the Sergeant. An imposing figure, with his sleeves rolled up and ready for action. He's probably my favourite of bunch.

Next up is a short, rather rotund chap who almost certainly stood on his tiptoes to pass the height requirement.

This is clearly a young officer, possibly played by Nick Berry, whose so action oriented that he's out of focus.

This hirsute chap makes me think that his name should be need to be of a certain age, and have watched BBC school based reference to know why. It annoys me that my own eyes did not pick up the flash on the hand, but the camera has. I might need to go back to that now.

The WPC has destiny to actually be the station commander in some games as my wife has expressed an interest in playing some games based on Juliet Bravo. Am I the only one who was confused as a youngster that the title wasn't the main character's name?

All in all, these have been quick and fun to paint. I really enjoy Crooked Dice miniatures, as there's a real charm to them. The lack the extraneous detail that clutters, and doesn't really add to, the modern CAD designed miniatures that seem to be all the rage. I often find that a lot of the details cause me a lot of hassle, for no real benefit, as nobody is ever going to notice that tiny buckle on the inside of the ankle.

These are simple and straightforward. I like simple and straight forward.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

New Year, New Game

It finally arrived!

Over a year since I first backed the Kickstarter campaign, six months after the expected delivery date, and three months after they began shipping, I eventually received my Dropfleet Commander starter set. And it looks like it's been worth the wait.

The models are excellently detailed, multi-purpose plastic kits that are straightforward to assemble. The rulebook is a thing of beauty, with only a few charming typos - Traffic James, I'm looking at you. The gameplay seems simple but some difficult aspects to master. It is even a game of space combat which manages to provide a logical reason why the battle is taking place on a single plane (all the battles take place over the surface of a planet). All in all, its a good product.

Its also meant that I've been able to finish off my starter fleet that I began when Wes received his pledge.

Note the detailed bases with battlegroup colours...snazzy!

One of the new ships - a Wyvern Cruiser

A Shenlong Heavy Cruiser - a veritable space shark.

Obviously, getting a new game, means needing to play a new game, and so Matt brought his Shaltari fleet over for a game. Unfortunately for me, Matt had already played one game, and so had already learned what not to do.

The Wyvern does a suicide rush at the Shaltari frigates.

After destroying the Obsidian Heavy Cruiser, my Ifrit is in trouble.

The Shenlong stirkes, but is crippled in the explosion.
At the end of the game, an unfortunate spell of ground combat went against me, giving Matt the victory by a score of 15-11. Had I won the combat, the game would have finished 14-12. This basically pointed to it being very close. I had probably lost the Wyvern too cheaply and should have at least tried to do something about the Shaltari Voidgates, given that Matt was being cautious with his Emerald Mothership. Meanwhile, Matt had split his frigates from his cruisers, which had led to them being overpowered and allowed me to gang up on his cruisers towards the end of the game.

Overall, it was a fun and cagey game, and although we definitely got some stuff wrong, there was a general feeling that we didn't get as much wrong as we usually do with new games, which is a good sign.

There will be plenty more games of Dropfleet in the coming weeks.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Rites of Passage

Christmas being the busy time that it is, I never find loads of time for painting. However, I did manage to squeeze in a few hours to complete the 7TV Occult Starter Cast.

The starter sets have been put together to provide a complete 30 ratings cast, straight out of the box, and this one includes a Sinister Mystic (Star), an Inhuman Servitor (Co-Star), a Cult Leader and 4 Cultists, and an Animated Construct.

The Cultists are delightfully simple sculpts with an old school feel to them (the Leader's knife is clearly in the style of 90's GW fat weapons). They are also nicely appropriate for a range of periods, and simply dropping the automatic weapon models allows them to back through time, from modern day, to Pulp Adventure, Victoriana, and even medieval/fantasy for some of them.

I kept the painting simple to match the models, although it was nice to finally be able to use mu blood paint for what it was intended. I'm pretty certain I will be picking up a few more to add to the cult's numbers.

The 'Inhuman Servitor' is a bit of an odd choice for the box in terms of rules, despite being aesthetically perfect for the cult, as she doesn't exaclty look 'inhuman' in any way. You might also notice that she has a passing resemblance (unintentional, surely?) to Sigourney Weaver in 'Ghostbusters', and she's more than likely to take on this role in my Paranormal Exterminators games with Pete. In fact, it was this that determined the use of dark red for the cult robes.

The Sinister Mystic is a suitably imposing model. Again, I've kept things simple, despite the fact that this is a more detailed sculpt that the rest of the cultists. I might go back to the trim on his robe and drybrush it to bring out the detail, but I'm not sure about this.

My favourite model in the cast is the Animated Construct. Really simple to paint, and posed in a way that implies that the statue is just at the point of waking up, so I was able to add a few more living details on the face. At a push, this model can also serve as sinister scenery.

Overall, I really like this cast, and I can't wait to use them in a range of games.

With the last painting of the year covered, it's time to turn our attention to the review of last year's resolutions and setting new ones for the coming year.


1. Continue to set targets each month to motivate my painting.

Well, I completely missed this one, but for a good reason. I decided to start painting what I wanted, when I wanted. Too often, the targets became a chore, and this year I've been enjoying my painting far more as I've really been doing only the stuff I've wanted to.

2. Complete three of the following projects:

  • US War of 1812 for M&T - This continues to be a big, fat nope!
  • Mid-Was US Tank Coy for FoW - Also no, although I have a playable force already.
  • German Last Levy for Bolt Action - This is a 'never' as I've sold the miniatures.
  • 6mm ACW Union Army for Black Powder - I've done some, but they're far from finished.
  • Rebase Wood Elves for KoW - Yes! Finally some success!
  • Marvel Rules, Heroes & Villains - Yes. Although the rules came courtesy of KM.
  • Get DZC Resistance to 1500 points - Almost. Just a few models to do.
  • Penguin & Two Face Crews for BMG - Almost. I'm just missing Two-Face himself.
Overall, given that I've painted loads of BMG (adding several new crews), despite not getting the Two-Face crew finished, I'm going to call this target complete.

3. Respond to all comments on the blog and comment on other blogs.

I think I've been doing quite well at this, although a bit more commenting elsewhere could be done.

4. Play in at least 3 BMG events.

This one I've definitely done, I think I've actually been to four, although I might be mistaken, and there are more already planned for early in the New Year.

5. Get a playable fleet for Dropzone Commander

This is definitely a no, although it's not my fault. The Kickstarter delivery was pushed back to the autumn and then a significant number of pledges seemed to disappear. Unfortunately, mine was amongst these. However, I've finally had my delivery notification (yesterday...they did say they'd get them out before the end of the year), and I will be collecting my toys on Tuesday.

Given that I've already painted a cruiser and four frigates, I should be good for getting on a par with, or ahead of the others because:
  • Pete and Mike are sadly still waiting for their pledge
  • Matt got his on Christmas Eve and has the fiendishly fiddly Shaltari to paint.
  • Wes has had his since October and done almost nothing yet.

1. Paint my Dropfleet Commander force

Given how long I've waited for this, I want to get it done. I'm hoping that the contents of my pledge and the swap I'm doing with my UCM ships for more Scourge ships, should mean that I don't have to spend very much on this game in the short term. At least, I'll probably pick up a battleship later in the year. So expect to see a slew of silvery-squiddy-looking spaceships that all look sort of similar over the coming months.

2. Complete a battle report for 7TV at least once a month

You may have noticed the steady increase in 7TV content over the last couple of months. This is because I signed up to be part of the 7TV Directors programme, which involves playing games and providing Crooked Dice with pictures and reports. That's right up my street.

I've got a bunch of stuff to paint for this and plan to be doing games focusing on TMNT, Pulp Adventure, Lovecraftian Horror, Mars Attacks, Doctor Who, Ghostbusters, Scooby Doo, and whatever else springs to mind.

3. Play more big games

By this, I mean games which require a 6'x4" table. Not having access to one of these myself, and the emphasis on boardgames and skirmish games in our group this year has meant that we've not played many big games like Kings of War, Flames of War, Bolt Action, Dropzone Commander or Black Powder. Doing this will require putting more effort in to arrange these games, as they will probably need to happen in addition to regular gaming, but I'm hoping that the success of our recent game of Kings of War and the arrival of Dropfleet Commander will help in this regard.

4. Paint what I want to paint

My output has probably dropped this year, but my enjoyment of painting has increase. I've allowed myself to follow my whims and impulses, which has meant that I've not really felt that painting has been a chore. I want to continue to do this, as I think the quality of my painting has improved because I'm paying more attention, and not just trying to slog through it.

5. Run a campaign of something...anything!

I like campaigns. I like organising campaigns. I like running campaigns. Ideas for them build up like a traffic jam in my head, and I want to loosen the congestion a bit. I curently have plans for an ACW campaign focusing on Vicksburg, a BMG narrative campaign between Batman and the League of Shadows, rules for a Marvel campaign, a Pulp adventure seeking lost relics, and several ideas of how to integrate DZC and DFC. That's not to mention the solo campaigns I started for ZTV and 7th Voyage.

One of these will get played.

So, that's it for this year. Thanks for sticking with my inane ramblings and hopefully I can continue to provide content that is a suitable distraction from the coming Trump-fuelled apocalypse. Here's to surviving until 2018!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, 29 December 2016

The Battle of Four Armies

It's Christmas, and that means one thing in our little world of wargaming...Christmas Wargaming Fun Day! It's one of the few times in the year that we get to do big games, and this year was no exception.

Originally, we were going to use the day for learning about Dropfleet Commander, which we all backed as part of a Kickstarter campaign over a year ago. Wes received his PHR fleet back in October in the first wave of posting, however Matt finally got his Shaltari on Christmas Eve, and both Pete and I are still waiting.

Therefore, we needed something else, and into the breach stepped Kings of War. I broke out the Wood Elves I re-based earlier in the year, Pete supplied his Dwarfs, and Matt brought both Bretonnians and Empire, as Wes has never been a WFB player, and so doesn't have an army.

We arranged the game at 3000 points per side (we could/should have gone higher, but I underestimated how many points I could do with my Elves), with the Elves and Bretonnians fighting some kind of border skirmish with the Empire and Dwarfs somewhere at the foot of the Grey Mountains. (No, we haven't abandoned the WFB background - screw you GW!)

The initial deployment saw the Elves face off against the Dwarfs, and the Bretonnians line up against the Empire. One of the downsides of KoW, is that the allies rules really discourage intermingling armies, as you can only gain inspiring re-rolls from your own sides. However, Wes and I did concentrate our archers at the far end beyond the castle, because everything else in our armies was built to charge.

Matt's Empire force was built using the very versatile Kingdoms of Men list, and featured two hordes of infantry, two cannons, a steam tank (beast of war with ballista), a griffon riding general and sundry smaller units.

Matt had created both human lists before he flipped a coin to decide which side he'd be on, to keep things fair. He'd given Wes a very aggressive force, using the Brotherhood list in Uncharted Empires, featuring four blocks of knights, Pegasus knights and a few peasants. The tactical advice we gave Wes was, "get stuck in!"

Pete's stalwart Dwarfs added a flame cannon, a cannon, an organ gun and a block of crossbows, backed up by several blocks (including one horde) of Dwarf warriors and a couple of berserker characters on giant badgers (he was suitably chided by Matt and I for including stuff that wasn't 'warhammery' enough for our tastes).

My friendly and fluffy Elf list had managed to squeeze in a Dragon, a Treeman, a unit of Eagles (Drakon Riders), a unit of cavalry and a couple of fast moving forest spirit units. It wasn't exactly subtle.

And so the stage was set for Wes and I to charge hell for leather across the board, hoping to weather the storm of lead enough to deliver a hammer blow. Techincally, the scenario was loot and kill (I think), but we all knew that this was going to be about who smashed whose face most effectively.

The first two turns went rather predictably, with Wes and I advancing, whilst Pete and Matt braced for impact. I managed to get both of my forest spirit units killed, one with a failed surge into the Dwarf general, and the other by standing in front of the massed firepower of a Flame Cannon, Cannon, and Organ Gun that had been combined in the centre of the enemy line.

In return, we managed to silence the Dwarf Cannon with arrow fire, and one of the Empire Cannons with peasant cavalry.

Turn three was when the inevitable impact came. My Elves smashed into the Dwarf line, with my cavalry ans Eagles breaking the Dwarf horde, but the Dragon and Treeman faltering on their respective targets. It looked like the Elves would get caught in an evelopment as the Dwarfs proved difficult to budge.

Matt did his best to disrupt Wes' charging knights, and the Bretonnians initially failed to shift the hordes of infanty, despite the support offered by flank charging knights. The Empire Handgunners were negated, but with their charge spent, the battery in the centre still dishing out horrendous damage and the Steam Tank and Griffon poised to charge, the Bretonnian position also looked precarious.

However, Pete also struggled with nerve rolls when he piled damage on my expensive units and although the cavalry were eventually broken, the Eagles, Dragon and Treeman held on against the odds, managing to take out the crossbows and Dwarf General, despite taking massive amounts of damage.

Meanwhile, Wes lost all but one of his Knight blocks to Matt's combined artillery, and fierce charging Griffon and Steam Tank. However, the Grail Knights held out long enough to delay the Empire forces, allowing his Knights Errant to win the shoving match with one of the infantry hordes, and turn the flank, eventually finishing by charging all but one of his remaining units into the Empire General.

At the end of the game, Wes and I were delighted that we didn't gain an additional turn, as even a single point of damage would likely have seen the Dragon, Treeman, Eagles, and Knights all run delivering defeat.

As it was, we managed to win by a fair margin due to the hordes and characters we'd killed being worth a significant amount of points, and gaining the additional bonus of securing a couple of objectives to add to our tally.

Pete and Matt pointed out that winning isn't everything and that these games are meant to be for fun anyway, however, we have decided that Pete shall hereafter be known as 'Snake Eyes' and Wes and I have bragging rights for the next twelve months, due to the fact that winning a game of toy soldiers confirms us as all round superior human beings...

Monday, 26 December 2016

Unleash the Dragons!

As it's Boxing Day, officially the laziest day of the year, I've got a little time to post something I did last week:

I've revamped my old Necromunda Gang, which have sat unused for at least a decade. I didn't do anything complicated, just a simple rebase (using the growing mound of Knight Models knobbly bases I've amassed), throw a wash over them and change the colour of their gang colours. Overall, I'm happy with how they've turned out with a minimal amount of work.

The gang used to have green bandannas and loincloths, but the colour change has been prompted by, of all things, my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for 7TV. I do have some plans for villains such as Baxter Stockman, Bebop and Rocksteady, the Krang and, of course, the Shredder, but in the short term, I wanted to put together some suitable opponents for them.

Therefore, in the spirit of saving money, my Orlocks have been transformed into a heavily armed version of the Purple Dragons, a street gang which the Turtles (in almost all of their incarnations) tangle with very early in their crime-fighting careers - which seems appropriate.

I'm not sure I'm going to use all of the heavy weapons in a TMNT game, but certainly the flamethrower might make an appearance. I'm planning to use the Minion profiles for the gang and have them led by either Baxter Stockman, or Chris Bradford (using the Bolo profile from the SHIVA PDF).

I might, of course, also use them for Necromunda...