Sunday 26 June 2011

June Progress Update

So, I've decided to call time on June's progress. This week is likely to be a bit busy, so painting time will be limited - I don't think I'll gate anything else finished by Thursday.

Anyway, here's the army shot I've been promising:

Progress for this month is as follows:
  • 5 Peasant Bowmen, defensive stakes and brazier - unit completed
  • 5 Men-at-Arms painted, transfers added to shields and banner - unit completed
  • Transfers added to one Pegasus Knight
  • 3 Knights of the Realm painted, transfers added to whole unit
  • 1 Grail Damsel painted - character completed
Next months target will be:
  • 2 more Pegasus Knights to complete the unit
  • 2 more Knights of the Realm to complete the unit
  • 1 Paladin Battle Standard Bearer
I know it doesn't seem a lot, but I've found that knights really take me some time to complete and with the exception of the second Grail Damsel I need to paint, everything else I have ready to paint is a bit too big to add to this months target (i.e. I wouldn't get them done).

So I'm done for the month and only need to score the others. We've decide to make each month a mini-competition with each of us throwing in £1 for a prize that must be put towards the project. The winner is decided by us by each of the 11 gamers giving the others a score out of ten.

Lee's said that how we mark things is our own business, but I thought it might be worth setting out the criteria I'll be using so that everyone knows I'm being consistent.

Progress (0-3 marks)
0 - no progress from last month
1 - less progress than I've made
2 - roughly the same amount of progress made as me
3 - more progress than me

Painting (0-3 marks)
0 - nothing painted this month
1 - painting is of a standard that I deem to be worse than mine (not likely, looking at the blogs)
2 - painting seems comparable to my standard
3 - painting is clearly better than I can do

Blog (1 mark awarded for each of the following)
1 - regular updates (roughly one per week) as I like to have something to read
1 - lots of pictures of figures
1 - content other than painting log (battle reports, comment and discussion, etc.)

Bonus Mark
This point is kept for me to give to only one other participant for something that stick in my mind from the month. For example, this month Tom is likely to get the bonus point because his display board for his Orcs really impressed me. It will also serve as a consolation prize for when he loses the Blood Bowl final!!!

So that's how I'll be awarding marks during the 11 gamers project. It will be interesting to see how others are doing it. Roll on Thursday.

Friday 24 June 2011

Oh oh ohhh she's magic...

Well it's bonus time in June and here's a bonus figure - a Grail Damsel/Prophetess of the Lady. She'll lend much needed magic support to my troops and possibly be packing the Prayer Icon nof Quenelles to grant the unit she's with (probably the Men-At-Arms) the Blessing of the lady (6+ ward save, 5+ vs Strength 5 or more) to give them a bit more backbone before she naffs off to hide with the Peasant Bowmen.

This is a model I picked up at last year's Triples show in a blister pack with a mounted Damsel for £2.50 (Rule 7 again), I got a Battle Standard Bearer and a character model who is going into my Questing Knights for the same price each.

As you can probably tell, the close up of a single model reveals some of the limitations of my painting. Although I personally think she looks better in real life than in the photo. I've never pretended to be very good at painting and my stuff certainly doesn't hold up to too close a scrutiny and won't win any prizes.

However, recognising this I've always aimed for the models I paint to look good on the table top and add to the aesthetics of the game. I feel I achieve that more often than not and I'm happy with Giselle...yes, she's got a name!

There's another six days to go in June so there might be another addition before the month is out, but there will certainly be a full army shot this week. There's also the Blood Bowl final to come in which I don't think I've ever been a dog so under - but whatever happens, you'll read about my side of it (be it gloating or griping) here!

Wednesday 22 June 2011

A bit more post game analysis…

I’ve been thinking about that game and what I did wrong, and although I could grumble about bad dice, the fact is that with 20/20 hindsight I played really badly and forgot some of the basic principles of wargames in general and WFB in particular.

1) I didn’t have a plan.
I knew what I wanted to do with certain units, but not with the army as a whole. This meant that when it came to deployment I was reacting to what Shane was doing. The result of this was that I was deploying piecemeal, too spread out and ended up unable to support different facets of the army.

2) I was too timid.
I should have used the vanguard with my Wild Riders to put pressure on Shane’s line. If he’d have got first turn then his Sphinx would probably have charged them, but the was the unit I wanted to be in combat with anyway (destroying it would have taken two turns less). If’ I’d have had first turn I’d have been able to march into Shane’s backfield and make him react to me. The Wild Riders would also have probably drawn fire away from the Treeman and Dryads.

Similarly, I should have thrown the Treekin forwards earlier and used the eagles to protect them from the Chariots.

3) I wasted the Wardancers.
I was waiting for the Tomb Swarms and Stalkers to pop up, but what happened was the Stalkers trashed the Wardancers anyway and the best defence was to do what I did and turn my archers to obliterate them with arrows. If the Wardancers had gone forwards as well that would have made five extremely dangerous units bearing down on his lines.

4) I didn’t concentrate fire.
This is a basic one and I’m still kicking myself. I didn’t focus on one target with my archers, instead I fired at something different in each turn, didn’t do enough damage and then this was healed. If I’d consistently shot at the Skeletons, for example, I probably would have whittled them down.

5) I didn’t advance my Glade Guard.
The Glade Guard are really strong below half range. I didn’t consider that the Tomb King bows are equally good at any range, whereas mine get much better the closer I get. He was never going to come for me, so I should have gone for him. 30 BS4/S4 shots per turn would have had a significant effect.

6) I used my Spellweaver poorly.
He needed to be closer to units like the Treekin to support them with magic, and I needed to always cast the spells I wanted first rather than play 7th edition magic tactics, trying to draw out dispel dice.

All too often, discussion of tactics and strategy in WFB becomes a list analysis and complaints about relative army power levels. I do think my list could be better (I felt horribly outnumbered), and there’s no doubt that Wood Elves have lost some of their advantages, but in all honesty, I look back on last night and have to admit that even though I might not have won, the reasons it wasn’t closer were that Shane commanded his army well and I didn’t.

I set out to be more aggressive, and the army list was, however my approach was still cautious and reactive. 8th edition seems to be all about seizing the initiative, and that’s something I singularly failed to do.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Curses! Foiled again!

I took my Wood Elves out for a run tonight against Shane's disgustingly well painted Tomb Kings and got my ass handed to me...again! That makes it almost twelve months without a win with the Wood Elves - it's beginning to get me down.

So the game lowlights...

My Treeman was taken out by a flaming catapult in the first turn. My Wild Riders failed their charge that would have turned the flank. I miscast three times despite only rolling a maximum of three dice at any spell. The Sepulchral Stalkers nuked my Wardancers with a ridiculous amount of sixes. I allowed my army to be taken apart piecemeal. I continually failed the ward save on my archers that I'd paid a whopping 75 points for.

In short, it didn't go well. There was one brief ray of light when Shane left his Heirophant (which was down to one wound at that point) out in the open. Although it needed sevens to hit it, I shot everything I had at it, and caused one wound. The Heirophant only had a 5+ ward save...he made it. He made it again a turn later when he miscast.

To be honest, I could moan about bad luck, but the reality is I still haven't got to grips with how to play my Wood Elves in 8th edition. I tried the Lore of Beasts tonight, but my Spellweaver was too far from the action to contribute any buffs - it's back to the Lore of Life for me. I also tried a block of Wild Riders with character support as a sort of glass hammer. This did seem to work (to destroyed a Nercrosphinx over several rounds of combat) and with a little tweaking, it will stay in the army. The eagles performed well, but I've got to get better at using my units in concert as none of them are strong enough to blast through enemy unit on their own.

A bit of a post mortem has led me to re-evaluate some of my list to try to squeeze in another unit, and bring back the Hail of Doom Arrow. Also, if I can cheaphammer up some more Treekin from somewhere, it might finally be the subs bench for Steve the Treeman as he's being taken down far too easily these days and isn't worth 285 points.

So it's back to the drawing board, but it was a good game against a good opponent who plays a lot of tournaments. I need to play somebody not very good, so once the Blood Bowl is over I'll be looking for games of WFB at the club!!!

Sunday 19 June 2011

Vive le chair a canon! ('scuse my French)

Another unit done! Well, I say done...I still want to add a few arrows to the unit to add to the feeling that they're under fire; sticking out of shields, embedded in the ground, etc. But that can wait for now as the main work is done.

Well, it's only the 19th and I've already hit my June target which is quite novel for me as I'm usually a very reluctant and slow painter. However, this doesn't seem to be the case at the moment, and I have to admit that I think it's the blog that is motivating me. So, kudos to Lee for suggesting this whole project, as it's certainly working for me.

So after the first month, my army now numbers the following:
  • 1 Hero on Pegasus
  • 6 Knights of the Realm (or 5 and a BSB if I end up playing this month)
  • 20 Peasant Bowmem
  • 30 Men-at-Arms

Admittedly, I've only actually painted 5 bowmen, 5 men-at-arms and 3 knights (the horses were already done), but if you throw in the 10 Glade Guard and Great Eagle and all the fiddly transfers I had to do (around 50!) then it's probably the most productive two weeks of my painting life.

So what to do with the rest of the month?

As mentioned before, I'm going to add a little to the men-at-arms and I might reward myself with a character or two, and finally I might see if I can add a couple more knights as I get the feeling that 6 knights aren't really going to make waves in 8th edition.

I'll do a full army shot at the end of the month as a visual measure of progress (kind of like those height charts on the back of your door when you're a kid).

Friday 17 June 2011

Remember the Titans!

Much to my, and everyone else's surprise, my Ogre team, the Tinys 'n' Titans, have managed to qualify for the final of the club Blood Bowl tournament, successfully negotiating their way past Wayne's undefeated (until now, tee hee) Chaos team, the Slaanesh 69ers.

To be fair, I'm slightly baffled myself as Wayne knows his way around a Blood Bowl pitch and his team were phenomenally well developed, sporting Block and Strength increases all over the place.

I did benefit from a distinct lack of failed Bonehead rolls an so was always able to act in my turns. However, I think that a big part of it was from my cunning plan of largely avoiding getting drawn into a big fight in the middle of the field with his Minotaur and Chaos Warriors, and really putting pressure on his Beastmen to reduce his mobility.

Combined with a moments of daring such as a Snotling breaking for the end zone on his own and a desperate blitz and pass combo to prevent a second half equaliser, the dice were favourable enough to allow me a 2-1 win and a trip to the final.

Ah...the final. Not only will I be an Ogre down, but also I'll be facing Tom's Chaos Pact team, the GIMPS (terrible name), from the Pro League and therefore massively advanced. In fact one of two things in my favour if the fact that to my knowledge there will be something like a 450,000 difference in team values.

The other thing in my favour?

I'm ace!

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Tally Ho!

Now these...are Bretonnians!

Now that I've got a workable army, I thought I'd take a moment to discuss the choices I've made for this army, and more specifically the uniform appearance, I wanted to create an army that was more homogeneous than the sea of varied heraldry to often see. I find that look too busy (I'm not a fan of the army in the Bretonnia book). I also wanted to base the idea of the army around the household retinue of a Duke or Baron, or even King.

I've decided to give the knights off-white barding to help their coat of arms stand. The Knights of the Realm, Knights Errant, Men at Arms and Peasants will be in red and blue. The army banners and peasantry would all bear their masters arms and the Knights will have their own devices reflecting the deeds that made them knights. The Knights errant will have no devices on their shields (taking an idea from the 4th edition army book). The other units of the army will be done in another way which I'll discuss when I get to them.

I'd like to pretend that I've deliberately based my red and blue colour scheme on the colours of the Duchy of Couronne, the seat of power of King Louen Leoncouer, and clearly depicted on the cover of Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia.

However I can't. The real inspiration for the red and blue theme with the Lion crest is way back in my youth...with Lego!

That's what I call a KNIGHT!

Monday 13 June 2011

Reinforcements...wait, they're not Bretonnians!

You're right...they're not.

My Bretonnians are still some way away from table-ready (I'll wax lyrical about my thoughts on unpainted and proxies at a later date) and even fielding the grey hordes I wouldn't be able to put out the 2400 points needed for a game I've arranged in a couple of weeks. So, I turn to my other two armies; Vampire Counts and Wood Elves.

My Vampire Counts have been fairing quite well since the advent of 8th edition. I've not played many games, but the VC have won more than they've lost, largely thanks to the addition of a large number of Grave Guard and a certain magic hat. The problem is, however, VC are boring to play - at least to me. March quickly forwards, weather the storm of magic, if you've still got enough guys left, grind to victory. Also, I've still got all of those Grave Guard to paint too.

That leaves the Wood Elves. They're doing less well. During 7th edition, my Wood Elves served me well. They'd slow down, divert and annoy the faeces out of opponents and I'd pick off the smaller units to win. However, in the new edition, not only have small, vulnerable units gone the way of the dodo, but also diverting, march-blocking and avoidance are much less effective and big units of choppy guys now hit Mach 3 on their way across the table. All this has led to my Wood Elves not winning a single game in 8th edition.

I intend to change this.

I've spent some time perusing the interwebz to discover what others are doing to keep the Wood Elves competitive. The main answer seems to be, "BUY MORE TREEKIN!" However, this is directly in opposition to the principles of Cheaphammer. So I looked some more, applied Rules 3 and 7 and have added enough points to my army to bring them up to 2400 points.

Rule 3 came into play with the discovery of unpainted Glade Guard. The Blood and Glory scenario demands standard bearers and my minimalist Glade Guard units were the only place to put them. In addition, ranked shooting means I can increase the size of my units. Ten more Glade Guard added.

Rule 7 always comes up and surprises you. Whilst perusing Wargames Emporium (my FLGS) I spotted a Great Eagle for £3! Sorted. What's more, Great Eagles are one of the few units that can still divert effectively. Great Eagle added.

I know ten archers and a big chicken aren't going to suddenly make my army more competitive, but they are part of a new overall strategy, which I'll go into after I've had my next game - although I will say it doesn't involve more Treekin.

Now that the painting table is clear, it's back to the Bretonnians.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Open Fire! - First Unit Complete

Well, as promised I have actually managed to do some painting this weekend and I've completed my first unit...Peasant Archers! Not only have I painted the five models required to complete this unit, I've also added a brazier and defensive stakes. How quick am I?

This technically means that I've completed June's challenge requirement of painting one unit. I know that I've set myself a more ambitious target, but legal loopholes may be required later in the month as Lee has mentioned forfeits!

20 Peasant Bowmen with a unit standard, musician and braziers only comes to 140 points, and I'm some way from a playable army, but it's a start. I'll make decisions about whether to include a champion when I've got a Grail Damsel of foot looking for a bunker, however the guy with more armour will serve in that role should I need him too.

So, next stop Pegasus Knight!

Friday 10 June 2011

The Best Game Ever!

Our club is currently engaged in the furious dice-rolling, insult-hurling and cursing of the annual Bloodbowl tournament. We've just had the quarter finals and I'm currently on cloud nine after my Ogre team, the Tinys 'N' Titans, narrowly beat Mark's Orcs, the Pigsturd Stealers, to book a place in the semis.

Due to this being a playoff game, and needing to be decided, the game lasted 28 turns after I had equalised in the last turn of normal time with a throw team mate move. Over time featured last gasp blitzes, goal line trips, sendings off (for a failed foul on a Snotling!) and at least one death.

The game was the most fun game of anything I've played for quite some time. The only spectre on the horizon being that in the semi-final I have to play Wayne's Chaos team, the Slaanesh 69ers, a team with a ridiculous level of advancement (three Strength 5 Chaos Warriors!!!). Wayne beat me in the last game of the regular season, but it was only by one touchdown in the last turn, so although I'm clearly the underdog, there's room for hope.

However, the Ogres provide an excellent example of two more of the rules of Cheaphammer.

Rule 7: Never buy new, if you can help it.

The basics of this rule is that miniatures are always cheaper second hand. Sheffield is belssed in the second hand department by the presence of Wargames Emporium, our FLGS, but however you get hold of them (ebay, FLGS, friends, jumble sales, etc.) second hand models will be cheaper than new, and that's how I got the Snotlings/Gnoblars for my Ogre team.

An added tip is to look for second hand models at a time when the market is saturated or when particular armies are a bit unfashionable. So right now, High Elves and Skaven from the Island of Blood, and Wood Elves, Ogres and Bretonnians (especially foot troops) are a little bit cheaper than the equivalent Daemons, Dark Elves and Orcs.

Rule 8: Have yourself a strategic little Christmas.

Let's face it. Some parts of the army you want, you simply cannot get second hand, nobody will simply give it to you and there aren't many cheaper alternatives. Big centrepiece models like the new Tomb King Necrosphinx are a good example of this. However, all hope is not lost. Plan you Christmas and Birthday presents accordingly and tell relatives EXACTLY what you want.

I did this with the Ogres for my team. I wanted new Ogres as I wanted to have the arm and head options and to be able to give them the belly plates without weapons attached. Specifically telling my wife what I wanted, I was not disappointed and technically I got the Ogres without spending money (I argue this because my wife would have spent the equivalent on me anyway).

So, there's two more ways of doing this stuff relatively cheaply. More to come, and I promise to actually do some painting this weekend...

Tuesday 7 June 2011

The Golden Rules of Cheaphammer

Rule 1. Do not choose an army; let the army choose you.
The key concept of my approach to building an army is to begin with something you already have. All wargamers have models and bits and pieces hanging around from half-finished projects and impulse buys. Take another look through your drawers (ooer!) and think about what those discarded and unloved models could be the start of.
In the case of my Bretonnians, they began with me stumbling upon a bag of Hundred Years War English archers that had belonged to my Dad and had not seen the light of day for around twenty years. I thought, "they'll do as Peasant Archers," and the Bretonnian army was born

Rule 2. Do not be afraid to beg.
Wargamers are a generous bunch. What's more they've all got massive piles of unused models sitting round, cluttering up cupboards and generally annoying their wives. (Sadly, most wargamers aren't initiates of the Cheaphammer cult.) Simply ask the question, "Has anyone got any spare bits for _____?"
So in the case of the Bretonnians I got two responses to my question. Andy gave me a box of bits which included a load of plastic archers, men-at-arms and a pegasus knight. Ginger Dave sold me a bigger box of bits which was essentially a battalion box (more archers, more men-at-arms, some knights and three more pegasus knights) for £20! Bargain!

Rule 3. Be creative. Use what you have.
So, looking at what I've managed to get my hands on for the princely sum of 20 quid, I can see the mandatory hero, standard bearer and unit of knights (rrp £18.50), a unit of pegasus knights (£24), a big block of men-at-arms (£37) and a unit of metal archers (18.50). I've also got a shed load of plastic archers which not only look silly next to the metal ones, but also will not make for an interesting or effective army. Therefore, I applied rule three, a craft knife and liberal helpings of super glue and built myself a grail reliquae and the mandatory six battle pilgrims (£25.50). I've also got more than enough peasant archers to make more battle pilgrims later on.

Rule 4. Unit fillers are your friend.
Now some people are funny about unit fillers, but I tend to find that as long as they are appropriate for the army they help to break up the visuals, draw attention to often overlooked units and most importantly take up space and save money.
Here we've got two mini-dioramas (look, it's that useless Boromir model!) that begin to add some character and action to the men-at-arms and use four guys to take up the space of eight. The other fella is a bit of running with the theme, and I'll be adding some more arrows (embedded into shields, stuck in the front of the movement tray, etc.) when I've done the shield transfers.

Rule 5. Small is beautiful.
When building your army, especially early on, make your units as expensive (in points terms) as possible. It may not make for the most competitive or tournament ready force, but it will get your painted army on the table as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Take the pegasus knight. I've no idea if he'll be any good, but he's going to serve as the army general (a Lord no less) in my first games with the Bretonnians and he'll save my buying/painting another unit.
He'll get drafted into the pegasus knights later on, but for know, he's in charge.
A side effect of rule five is that you'll learn to play with your army with a sub-par list. This means you'll learn to think creatively in terms of tactics, and when you've added more units later, you'll be a better player. It beats buying your way to success.

Rule 6. Think versatility.
What else could this army be used for? If you can find an answer to that question, then you're not only saving money one one army, you're getting a second one (or third, or fourth) for free!
The club is running a Wars of the Roses campaign over the summer and I intend for my Bretonnians to see service for the House of Lancaster in games of Impetus. They won't be perfect, but they won't be completely wrong.
Knights, archers, halbersiers, hero on a pegasus? Add a cannon and use the battle pilgrims as free company, I've got an Empire army that nobody would argue with...although they will probably stomp it into the ground.
Three for less than a fifth of the price of one...result!

There are more principles of Cheaphammer that I shall prattle on about when I get to the units I haven't touched yet. But in terms of the challenge this is meant to be about, you can see that there a few blobs of grey still around, shields and transfers are missing and the Knights of the Realm are too few. Although it's meant to be a unit per month, these three issues are what I will address by the end of June.

Welcome to Cheaphammer!!!

Why start a blog?

Well, the short answer is because I've been told to. Our wargaming club has begun a Tale of 4 Gamers (retro White Dwarf stylee) project and to join in I've got to report my updates on a blog.

So, what's the project?

Bretonnians. A Bretonnian army I started last year and kind of lost interest in about the time the 8th Edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle came out. It wasn't to do with not enjoying the new edition, it was more that I was a bit Warhammered out and got side-tracked into an awful lot of historical gaming, which culminated, six-months later, with a campaign.

So, why Cheaphammer?

Well, I thought that seeing as I was writing a blog, I'd take the opportunity to get on my soapbox and wax lyrical about my own approach to collecting, painting and playing with toy soldiers for as little cost as possible, without compromising on the aesthetics (i.e. paper counters, proxies and unpainted figures are right out).

I'll begin with giving you a guided tour of what I'd already done, along with some piccies, and outline some of the key concepts of Cheaphammer.