Monday 28 September 2015

Batman Day at Wayne Manor

As I've pointed out in recent posts, I entered the national Batman Miniature Games tournament, colloquially know as 'Batman Day'. There were several events held on the same same day around the globe, including Spain, Canada, the U.S.A. and Australia. I also believe that some stores in other locations joined in (I definitely know of one in Scotland and at least one in the U.S.), holding events on the same day for people who couldn't get to the main event.

The British event was held at Wollaton Hall in Nottigham, which is where the exterior scenes for Wayne Manor in the Dark Knight trilogy were filmed. The venue was an excellent and atmospheric choice and also proved central enough for pretty much every corner of the U.K. to be represented (although one guy who'd come down from Scotland had had an epic journey the day before). The event was run by Animosity Games in conjunction with the admins of the Arkham City Limits Facebook group, and despite some of the curve-balls that seem to have been thrown at them during the run up to the event, the day was brilliantly organised and run. The tables that had been arranged for the day were simply breathtaking, there lots of excellent city scenes, but some tables were worthy of special mention.

Gotham Zoo

Gotham Rogues' Stadium - post Bane

The Frickin' Bat-Cave!

Arkham Asylum - one of these was the top prize

Wayne Manor - the top table
 On top of this, due to the heavy prize support from Knight Models, DC Comics, K.R. Multicase and others, the organisers set out to ensure that everyone left with something. This meant that not only were there prizes for the top three in the tournament, there was also a painting competition, a fancy-dress competition (oh, all right, 'cosplay'), a raffle and spot prizes on the door. I picked up one of the spot prizes as I walked through the door, which was a Huntress model (one I don't have), so that put me in an excellent mood for the rest of the day.

As you may remember, I'd taken a slight variation of the crew that I did well with in the Titan Games event in the summer featuring:

Arkham Origins Batman
Red Hood
Agent Ron (with a Magazine)
Male Cop (with a Med Pack)
Female Cop (with a Whistle)

Game 1 vs Joker Gang (James) - Skirmish

When I realised I would be playing the Joker, my heart sank a little. Mainly because it's a crew I've played with and against several times and I was hoping to get games in against crews I hadn't yet faced. However, I was pleased to find out that James' crew was a little bit different from the norm:

James' Joker Crew
Joker (Heath Ledger)
Killer Croc
Triston (with Bat-Claw)
Knife Clown
Tube Prisoner
2 Asylum Lunatics

I'd never played against Heath Ledger Joker before, and although Deadshot is fairly common, I'd also not come up against Croc in competition either. This would be interesting. In addition, we were playing on what was probably the most terrain heavy board, with very few clear lines of sight. Something I was hoping to use to my advantage.

See the bottom of what looks like a crane on the right?

Now look at the top of it!
My plan was to use Batman to take down as many of the low rent goons as he could, whilst Catwoman scooped up loot and the rest of the crew stopped the clowns, loonies, reptiles and assassins from getting to objectives. If I'm honest, in this game, everything I tried came off and the crew functioned exactly as I'd imagined.

Batman punches clowns whilst Catwoman grabs loot.
Batman took down a Lunatic with his first batarang of the day and proceeded to run a hit and run operation for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Catwoman scooped up her loot and proceeded to rack up her usual impressive tally of VPs.

Deadshot and Joker go looking for someone to kill.
I have to be honest and say that the terrain really worked in my favour in this game, as not only did it block lines of sight, something that doesn't bother Batman's remote batarangs, but it also severely hindered James' movement more than mine due to the bat-claws and acrobats in my crew. Two turns in, I realised that the terrain had split James' forces and was able to switch Red Hood to the other side of the table to defend where James had placed his scoring objectives, leaving Male Cop to hold up Joker and Deadshot, something he managed to do, whilst staying alive (his whistle helped).

Red Hood fighting 'defensively' against a ticking clown.
Pitting Batman and Red Hood against three clowns and two lunatic was really only going to go one way, and Red Hood set about using his instinctive shooting to take down and take out a series of henchmen. There was one hairy moment, when Joker blew up one of his own henchmen and caught Catwoman and Red Hood in the blast, however, poor dice saw only Red Hood take damage, and that was soon healed by the Female Cop. In fact, James was cursed by poor dice throughout the game, neither Deadshot, Sniggering or Triston managed to score any damage on my crew with their shooting. I think I played the terrain well, but when they did shoot, they dice gods abandoned James (Deadshot missed a clear shot on Female Cop...twice!).

Agent Ron eyes the biggest collar of his career.

Unsure how to use him and his short ranged attacks without getting him killed, I'd held Agent Ron back in the sweeper role to hopefully do something about the inevitable appearance of Killer Croc in my backfield. Sure enough, up popped the monster, right next to an ammo crate and Ron set about emptying clip after clip into Croc. I had better luck with my shooting and over two rounds, Ron's attacks enabled Batman to put Croc on the floor, and when h got up again, Ron finished the job.

Batman steals the limelight, but it's Ron that finishes the job.
We didn't quite get to the last turn, but in my view it wouldn't have changed the outcome of the game. We both would have taken out another henchman each, Female Cop would have reached my ammo crate, but I'm fairly sure Deadshot would have eventually killed somebody. The final score was 16-6 to me. A narrow victory.

Although I feel I played this game well, pulling of a bait and switch to allow me to dominate one flank, I'm under no illusions that a combination of the terrain, the scenario and James' poor luck with his dice (he also failed to get any points from two riddles) really helped me to do this.

Game 2 vs Gotham Sirens (Sam) - Patrol

The second game saw me pitted against Sam's wonderfully themed Gotham Sirens gang in the patrol scenario.

The Sirens in all their glory.
Sam's Sirens Crew
Poison Ivy (Comics)
Harley Quinn (Classic)
High Security Prisoner
Prisoner 1
Prisoner 2
Spore Plant
Creeper Plant

That's a very open street.
The board we were playing on in this scenario was extremely open, and I think we were both grateful that the other didn't have very much shooting. Had I been playing James on this board in my first game, things would have been very different. The buildings in the corners also made the diagonal deployment zones tricky for this scenario, however I still prefer boards that look like something real.

Batman spots the Sirens in the car park.
With bonus points available in this game for getting to the opposing deployment zone, we both headed out into the street en masse, aiming to pick up objectives on the way. Out in the open, Male Cop was shot and knocked out quite quickly by the Spore plant that popped up on the roof of the red warehouse (he was later finished off by the High Security henchman). Meanwhile, my luck from the first game deserted me and Batman fluffed the first of several attacks during the game.

This fight isn't as uneven as it looks.
Sam used his Catwoman exactly how I use mine and we both dashed for loot. I wasn't able to get to mine on the first turn, so Agent Ron scooped it up to ensure some points in the shadow of a Plant. Here's where I made a major mistake in the game. Instead of running away and letting Catwoman come to Ron, I got drawn into a needless and ineffectual fight with the Plant to no avail. To compound my mistake, I brought Catwoman into the fight rather than using her Acrobat trait to jump over the fight and pick up dropped loot from Ron. I had a serious brain fart here and missed out on roughly 4 VP's and almost got Catwoman taken down by Harley later in the game for my trouble.

His face is that red under the hood.
To compound my errors with Ron and Catwoman, my luck with shooting continued to be completely absent. It wasn't all terrible, Red Hood managed to avoid being hypnotised by Ivy, but then failed to capitalise on this by missing Ivy with NINE shots over two turns. Admittedly, with Defence 4 and Acrobat allowing her to dodge shots, she isn't the easiest target, but seriously, I missed with all but one and she dodged that!

As the game wore on, I was singularly failing to inflict damage. Batman did take out the Spore Plant and inflicted some hurt on Ivy, but I kept just missing out on points here and there. It became apparent that Sam would reach my deployment zone so I dispatched Female Cop through the sewers and sent Red Hood running up the street to reach his.

With the last activation of the game, a gasping Red Hood staggered into the scoring zone, but it was too late. The final score was 16-10 to Sam, one point away from a draw.

I'll admit to being a bit annoyed with myself for this one. Even with a bit of bad luck on shooting, I could have at least pulled off a draw if I'd had my head in the game a bit more. Getting drawn into a fight I didn't need and not getting anything out of Catwoman during the game was foolish. Sam did pretty much everything right even though the terrain really didn't suit him at all as it subjected his crew to a dash across the open ground, risking Batman's hit and run attacks.

Game 3 vs Joker Gang (Jack) - Plunder

A win and a loss found me smack bang in the middle field playing against Jack's Joker crew. His was another Heath Ledger Joker gang, but featured a miniature I'd not actually seen in the flesh before, Lobo.

Jack's Joker Crew
Joker (Heath Ledger)
Master of Cermonies
Prisoner 1
Prisoner 3
Prisoner 4

Both of us sighed when we saw the terrain we were playing on. I saw a lot of open ground and nowhere to use the bat-claw, Jack saw lots of places for Batman to snipe his goons from the shadows (I saw that too).

Batman vs Joker in Feudal Japan?
I've felt for some time that the Plunder scenario really favours the larger crew. However, Jack was hindered initially by a row of fencing in his deployment zone, and this had a significant impact in that it prevented Lobo from reaching the ammo objective in the first turn, not only denying Jack 3 VPs, but also giving me the scenario based 4 VP bonus for controlling two objectives first. That 7 point swing would not have changed the overall outcome, but it did give me enough of a cushion to play very evasively.

Notice the tiny gap? Jack pointed that out to me, I thought he'd made it.
With Jack's guns controlling the centre ground, it allowed him to move clowns up to sit on objectives throughout the game. Red Hood and Female Cop both survived runs into open ground to grab riddles, and Acrobat and a Medi Pack allowed them to survive a barrage of fire. Catwoman scooped up loot, and Ron sat on ammo to keep the flow of points even.

Batman used his remote batarangs to frustrating effect, trying to knock henchmen off the loot counter to prevent Jack closing the gap. He knocked one out, but couldn't stop the others. Sniggering failed to hot Batman when he had him lined up for a full blast from his assault rifle. At the end of the game, both Red Hood and Batman made a charge on Joker's bodyguard in an attempt to sneak extra points, but both failed.

This left the score as 27-25 to me. A draw. In fact, this felt like a draw all the way through. Nobody had any outrageous luck, which could have swung it either way, but this result seemed sort of inevitable. On such an open table, I couldn't risk going out to fight Jack, and he couldn't risk splitting up to hunt my models. It was a very cagey game, but enjoyable for that.

That left me with a win, a loss and a draw for the day. If what Batman says is true, "It's what I do that defines me," I'm defined as utterly mediocre as I finished 19th of 38.

Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day playing a great game, on great scenery, with great models against nice people. Despite my misgivings about KM's decisions in the run up to the event, the actually organisation of the day was fabulous and the overall atmosphere was excellent. I'll definitely go again next year.

The only criticism I have of the day is that of the four lampposts I took...yes, those lampposts...two of them broke. One before the first game started! I proper hate them...

Other than that, cracking day!

Thursday 24 September 2015

Ready To Take On The World

The first part of my goal for this month is done!

I've completed all the necessary bits and pieces for the Batman Miniature Game Worldwide Tournament, the British leg of which is being held at Wollaton Hall, Nottingham, which was used as Wayne Manor in the Dark Knight trilogy.

Here's my team that's going to attempt to take on the world.

Batman (Arkham Origins) - a beast of a character (rightly so), whose goal is to put the hurt on as many enemies as possible with both Batarang and fist. His mobility and toughness, should keep him safe, but I need to stay aware of models that can put out a lot of hurt quickly, as I almost lost him to ninjas the last time I used him.

Catwoman - fast and agile, she's going to be focused on her Primary Objective: Loot trait, which enabled her to rack up between 10 and 12 VP's per game in the last tournament. She needs to avoid fights, and I need to remember that she can climb to escape pursuit.

Red Hood (Comics) - the eagle eyed will spot that this is a new model to my collection. Jason Todd was the second Robin, but was killed, resurrected, went mad, turned bad, then good and now pals around with Green Arrow's former sidekick Speedy. He's got the ability to deliver devastating close ranged attacks with his pistols, and so I'm hoping that he can ambush a high value Free Agent or take out a few henchmen per game.

Agent Ron - The only cop in Gotham smart enough to carry a sidearm. Ron is largely a defensive piece, ideal for hiding behind an objective and taking shots at those who approach to closely. To help him in this, I've given him some extra ammo.

Male and Female Cops - these two are pretty much of a muchness. The Male Cop is marginally more aggressive and the Female Cop is a tiny bit more defensive. Their are my objective grabbers, who will also seek to Arrest those taken down by Batman. The Male Cop has a Whistle to interfere with enemy movement, and the Female Cop had a Med Pack to help keep herself, ore someone else in the fight.

I've also had to get some new lampposts and sewers as Knight Models ruled that players could only use their products at their event. This is a fair enough decision, but I had a couple of gripes with it:

  1. The decision was made late in the day and KM's distribution network is less than perfect, which meant getting hold of them in time has been a bit of a pain. I was let down by one supplier after a two week wait.
  2. I don't like them. The sewer entrances are too bulky for what they're meant to be, and the lampposts are top heavy, awkward to put together and are mounted on base toppers (which I'm not a fan of). The lamps themselves aren't a regular shape either.
  3. The come in packs of two lampposts and two sewers, yet the basic rules of the game require you to have three.
Overall, I feel I've had my arm twisted to buy something which is over-priced and I just don't think is good enough. But they're done now, so at least I won't have to fuss about future events.

Finally, my objectives. KM made a similar ruling about these needing to be official, but back-tracked when folk pointed out that their objectives pack doesn't come with enough riddle objectives (which would require purchasing a second pack for a single objective) and that their decision was a bit boring and stifled creativity. To their credit, they adjusted the rule to say that objectives made by companies which are producing items for BMG without permission (such as Counter Attack Bases, who made the question marks I used for my riddle objectives).

Therefore, I set about making a point about creativity. I've always preferred my Ammo objectives to the official ones, so that was fine. I added some gold coins to my Loot objective, as it was the one I was least happy with. Finally I made Riddle objectives which not only contained actual riddles (and clues to their answers), but might possibly be making a cheeky point about crews which aren't available for the tournament either due to being unable to field a 350 rep crew, or not being released yet, even though they featured heavily in a recent, rather successful, console game.

So that's me ready for the weekend. It's going to be a long day as it starts early and has unusually long gaps between games to allow people to fit in a tour of Wollaton Hall. If I'm honest, my hopes of overall success are fairly low as looking at some of the other crews people are using, I think I might find myself short-handed and out-gunned in some games. I'm aware that I was lucky with my match ups at the last tournament I went to, as in at least two of the games I had the gang better suited to the scenario. Even with Red Hood taking over from the ever useless Robin, I suspect that I'll still struggle to cause enough damage in some games.

However, the goal is to have fun, win at least one game and meet some people I've only spoken to online. Looking at the prize pool for the event, I suspect that everyone will be walking away with something, and in fact, if I'm in actually danger of winning, I might throw my last game, as I have no space for the first prize, which is a massive MDF Arkham Asylum!

Tune in next week for a tournament report and and update on how I've got on with the Dropzone Commander models I wanted to get done. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

Sunday 13 September 2015

Getting Back in the Fight

After a brief hiatus in my painting productivity, I'm finally getting back in the groove. This time of year always has this effect as the start of a new school year beckons, my painting output drops, and having not set myself a clear target this month didn't help with that.

What I needed was a deadline, and two have come along at once.

Firstly, after our initial forays into Dropzone Commander, the 'new game arms race' has begun in earnest as we all rush to add new threats to our forces.

First up for me is an M3 Alexander heavy command tank.

This unit packs a hefty punch and is the one unit in my army that can offer a serious threat to buildings and enemy heavy armour. Sadly, this makes it a massive target for artillery fire, and so far I've found it a bit of a race to get the Akexander to have an effect on the game before it's inevitably destroyed.

The other element that this unit brings to my army is that it houses my cousin commander which opens up the use of command cards to add another layer of strategy to the game.

It's a big beast, as you can see from the picture above, but it's slow and I'm wondering about the validity of keeping it aboard it's Lifthawk for another turn to help get the Alexander further into the action.

I've got a few more units to paint this month: an additional Lifthawk, some Freerider bikers and a couple of Cyclone attack helicopters. As such, I've definitely burned one of my three remaining jokers on Dropzone Commander. My goal is to get these done before the end of the month and before I buy anything else.

The other project I have is this:

In two weeks I'll be going to Wollaton Hall  (which was used as Wayne Manor in the Nolan Batman films), to play in the first official national BMG tournament.

Not only do I have to get another model painted for this, I also need to get some official lampposts, sewers and objectives done as KM have ruled that you have to use their stuff in their event. This in itself is not a problem, but I really could have done with more notice on this requirement as with just a fortnight to go I'm still waiting for the stuff I've ordered to arrive.

However, having spent more money on what I need, that's another joker gone, leaving me on just one. I consider myself to have succeeded this month if I can get all the BMG stuff I need for the tournament done as well as the models for Dropzone Commander.

Busy, busy, busy...