Sunday 21 August 2016

March of the Penguin

Tournament time again, and this time it was the 'In Squad We Trust' event run by Animosity Wargames at Holmfirth Gaming Centre.

"I'm gonna play this stinkin' game like a harp from hell!"
As with the last event this wasn't a straight up tournament, but a campaign where the A.R.G.U.S. Agents (the good guys, broadly speaking), were trying to apprehend a mass breakout of criminals (the bad guys). Each round, whichever side that won the most games would decide what the next scenario would be based on a pre-written campaign structure.

I decided to take a Penguin crew for a couple of reasons. Mainly this was because I'd never use the crew, but also because the guys at Animosity are more relaxed about conversions and proxies, so it was a chance to get my Solomon Grundy on the table as he's actually the Hulk.

My crew was as follows:
Leader - Penguin (Arkham City)
Free Agent - Solomon Grundy
Free Agent - Deadshot (Arkham Origins)
Henchman - Emperor Penguin: Helmet, Laser Sight, Grapple Gun
Henchman - Royal Penguin: Magazine, Radio
Henchman - Blue Penguin: Backpack

Although not as mobile as my usual crews, this line up was distinctly more 'killy'; Deadshot has a fearsome reputation, Solomon Grundy can dish out and take a massive amount of damage, and I had a dirty trick up my sleeve making use of Penguin's Mob trait, Emperor's Laser Sight and Royal's Radio and Assault Rifle to ambush unsuspecting enemies who thought they were safe in the shadows.

Game 1 - Defend the Goods vs Rob's Suicide Squad

The Gotham Zoo Board
Killer Frost, Deadshot, Harley Quinn & Deathstroke
This scenario saw me having to split my crew across two opposite table edges, whilst the Suicide Squad deployed in the middle. In theory, this meant that I had them surrounded, in practice I knew that half my crew would very shortly have four big hitter right in their faces, and this is exactly what happened. The Suicide Squad made a b-line for my 'gunline' side (Penguin, Deadshot and Royal Penguin), pausing only to grab loot and ammo on the way, but taking some damage as they came. Meanwhile, my combat force rushed across the board to my own objectives to try to balance points as quickly as possible.

What happened then was the most epic scale of poor attacks I've ever seen. Deadshot and Deathstroke unloaded ammo, Killer Frost flung ice shards and Harley Quinn leapt in with her baseball bat but between them failed to significantly damage Penguin and his Henchman, who were busy cowering beneath a table.

This allowed time for my Deadshot to find his range, my henchmen to get set up to score victory points every round and Solomon Grundy to unleash a world of hurt on Deathstroke and then Rob's Deadshot. When small crews lose members, things tend to go back quickly, and with Killer Frost and Harley Quinn away from the objectives, the difference in scores began to rack up.

Penguin 38 - Suicide Squad 13 

Game 3 - Infiltration vs Mark's Team Flarrow

The Lian Yu Board
TV Flash, TV Green Arrow, Echo, Kid Flash and Agent Ron (not pictured)
In this scenario we had to collect GPS tokens from the area around the bridge, and deliver them to our opponents very small deployment zone. Team Flarrow had the advantage of speed and had negated Arrow's lack of night vision by investing heavily in lampposts from the strategy points. I had brute strength and more guns. This match up meant that Mark didn't want to get his guys too close to me to let my fists and bullets tell, and I wasn't keen on heading towards to floodlit bridge whilst Oliver Queen was perched in a tree watching it (house rules).

Ultimately, this was a very cagey (but fun, nonetheless) affair as neither of us were really able to get to our objectives. Although Flash did manage to snaffle a loot counter, and Arrow shot down two of my henchmen who got too close to lampposts, Solomon Grundy's defensive smashing of lamposts meant that my deployment zone was effectively out of bounds for the speedsters. For my side, I was able to exploit a paradox which saw Kid Flash unable to dodge for a turn, and took the opportunity of gunning him down, but couldn't move quickly enough to threaten Mark's deployment zone.

Ultimately, having a large stretch of difficult terrain crossing the board prevented my Acrobat-free crew from going on the attack, and meant that any attack from the speedsters would be met by my full crew, so Mark wisely steered clear.

Penguin 6 - Team Flarrow 5

Game 3 - Ambush in Gotham City vs Reuben's Nolanverse Batman Crew

The Back Alleys of Gotham Board
Alpha, Agent O'Connell, Bravo
Catwoman, Batman, Gordon
I'm going to have a moan. This scenario has issues. In theory, the good guys were supposed to be trying to escape an ambush by getting Batman across the board, with the bad guys split on either side in ambush. In practice, there were three problems with that idea as a game:
  1. How does anybody stop Batman simply bat-clawing across the board at the end of the game, if he chooses not to fight?
  2. My deployment zones were touching Reuben's and therefore he could place his objectives within reach of his models from turn one.
  3. My forces were split, so he could simply rush one side, beat me up, grab his objectives and win.
None of this has anything to do with my opponent, who, being a clever sort of chap, took advantage of all three things. I deployed badly and so Solomon Grundy was late to the fight, but a made a battle of it by snaffling Catwoman's loot from under her nose, and placing my own objectives in a kill zone for Deadshot and Royal Penguin, and so after killing Alpha and Gordon, they were able to sit on objectives and score heavily.

On the other side, Blue Penguin was scratched to death by a worryingly effective Catwoman (she never fights like that for me), Penguin was chased into a sewer and Grundy was eventually arrested by the Batman after clobbering a few cops.

I'd actually managed to keep it very close by contesting Reuben's objectives whilst scoring my own, and the game came down to a single shot from Bravo to try to blow Royal Penguin off an objective. He missed and we thought the game was a 28-28 draw. However, it then dawned on us that Penguin shouldn't have been able to take the loot into the sewers.

This change in events would have either lead to Reuben scoring more points from Catwoman or me taking a completely different strategy which might have prevented Batman and the cops ganging up on Grundy. Without knowing how it would have played out, I still think Reuben would have won, so I gave up the points Penguin had scored for the loot. We both enjoyed the game, but this scenario needs some serious house-ruling.

Penguin 24 - Nolanverse Batman 28

Game 4 - Skirmish vs Jimmy's 1966 Batman Cast

The Batcave Board
Alfred, Alpha, Agent O'Connell, Female Cop 1, Agent Ron
Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Female Cop 2, Male Cop
This was a straight up fight on a board I've been itching to play on since I first saw it at the Wollaton Hall event last year. Never mind that the walkways would cause my crew more issues than Jimmy's, Penguin was fighing Batman in the freaking batcave!

As a straight up fight, I opened with a salvo of shots taking down two cops in two turns. Jimmy countered by running across the floor of the cave to grab objectives, but failed to solve riddles. Batman saw an opportunity when Penguin stood on the edge of a platform to take a shot, he bat-clawed up to push him off ("I won't kill you, but I don't have to catch you!"). However, 1966 Batman isn't exactly a combat powerhouse and he failed in his attempt, which left him vulnerable to a counter-charge from Grundy, which was brutally successful.

Batgirl also tried to ambush Deadshot and then Royal Penguin, but found herself outnumbered and then clobbered when Emperor Penguin swung into the fray. Meanwhile, Alpha emptied his weapon into a hard-charging Grundy, bringing him crashing down.

With Robin sat on some ammo, and everybody else out of bat-claws and bullets, the last couple of turns saw us scrabble around for objectives, which for some reason I'd placed in the corners of the board, completely inaccessible to me.

Penguin 23 - 1966 Batman Cast 19

My results saw me come in fifth out of fourteen (I think), although I was briefly third due to a clerical error, and because of this I was (completely unnecessarily) elevated to joint fourth, and was given the following haul of cracking prizes:

Hush, Shadowstorm Tourney Card, Speedforce Tokens & Terrain bits
Everybody who attended walked away with at least a blister pack or some MDF terrain and a pack of counters. There was a best painted prize and a bounty prize for the winner of a sub-game within the tourney pack. Everybody who attended had a great time, and what was really nice was the fact that the non-tourney format brought out a range of interesting crews and there wasn't a bat-signal in sight. It was a great atmosphere all day (although it was a loooong day) and I'd recommend attending events run by these guys. Particularly, I'd recommend this for people who are new to the game, as Chris and Rob who were running the event even took care to match new players up against people who not only knew the game, but also knew the other guy's crew, so they could help them with the rules in the first game. In my view, this is the kind of environment in which BMG shines.

So finally, what have I learned?

  1. I like the Penguin crew. It has tough henchmen and sneaky tricks. I may have to invest in more henchmen to try to get the most out of Mob, Mobster and the equipment list.
  2. Solomon Grundy is a beast. Attack 5, Strength 2+, Brutal and his Improvised Weapon give him a very good chance of doing eleven damage in a single round. He took down both Deathstroke and Batman during the day, and occupied my opponent's thoughts in every game.
  3. Deadshot ain't all that. He may have a fearsome reputation in the game, but Deadshot is at his best killing henchmen. He comes unstuck when trying to hit tougher or faster opponents. He's good, but he's not as badass as he seems.
  4. The scenarios in the Flash and Arrow book are flawed for a whole variety of reasons and probably need to be re-written if they were to be used in a more conventional tournament.
  5. Different types of terrain really change the game and the effectiveness of different crews. The river on the Lian Yu board was too much for my slow crew, whilst the buildings on the alleys board caused Reuben's crew real movement issues. However, this isn't a bad thing as the themed boards really made each game massively different. I might need to look at my own terrain set ups to see how I can achieve different effects.
I will be going to the next Animosity event, and I'm already looking at my miniatures trying to think of something interesting to take. I feel the Wonderland Gang calling me...

Monday 15 August 2016

Bustin' Makes Me Feel Good!

Pete and I finally managed to get in that game of 7TV using his Ghostbust...ahem...'Paranormal Exterminators' from Crooked Dice. We played the 'Cats and Dogs Living Together Scenario' from the Paranormal Exterminators PDF in which the Exterminators would be battling it out on the streets of New York with a host of supernatural fiends.

There's something strange, in this neighbourhood...
Pete would be the good guys:
  • Jim Blutowski
  • Dr Ziskey
  • Don Winthorpe
  • Billy Ray 
  • 2 Bystanders

Who you gonna call? Paranormal Exterminators!
Stepping away from the movies, my bad guys would be more Hammer Horror than 80's visual effects, mainly due to the fact that I was raiding my Undead army for models:
  • The Destructor
  • 2 Demon Dogs
  • Harbinger (the robed dude)
  • Poltergeist (the creepy zombie thing)
  • 3 Spectres (the Ringwraiths)
  • Ecton (the bat)

There's something weird, and it don't look good!
The scenario was a straight up fight, with a few twists. If there were objective counters still in play, I could bring one busted ghost back to life at the start of my turn, and when the Finale began, the Destructor would arrive (with bonus health points for each objective I had claimed). Peter would get a significant chunk of VP's for bustin' the Destructor.

In terms of story, a possessed sorcerer is summoning undead and demonic forces to capture energy conduits and generate enough power to allow a terrible entity known as the Destructor to enter the mortal plane. The Paranormal Exterminators had marched out to stop him.

An innocent bystander finds herself surrounded by demonic hounds.
A spectre sneaks up on Blutowski.
A chill touch petrifies the terrified woman.
Like a well-oiled machine, the Exterminators trap their first ghost.
Meanwhile, Billy Ray secures a conduit.
The Harbinger brings another ghost to the fight.
An Ecton Bat attacks Blutowski, to no avail.
More ghosts slide through the city.
Feral Demons stalk through the streets.
Another ghost is pinned: "Don't cross the beams!"
Billy Ray rushes in to trap the spectre.
The Harbinger blasts and takes down Dr Ziskey.
Billy Ray is savaged by demonic creatures, but keeps fighting.

More spirits are ready to strike...
...but Ziskey's assistant hurls one of his devices, weakening them.

Winthorpe traps one of the weakened spirits.
Billy Ray somehow holds on.

Unfortunately, Blutowski is blasted by the Harbinger...
...and ghosts are queuing up to attack Winthorpe.
Blliy Ray manages to slip away to safety, but...
...Ziskey's asssistant is struck down...
...and Blutowski disappears under a flurry of ghosts...

...and then the Destructor arrives. "Destructor SMASH!"
"Jim! You're not dead?"
"Never better Billy. Now let's blow this thing and go home."
(sorry, wrong film)
The Harbinger defeats his inner demon and joins the good guys.
Winthorpe holds demon jaws at bay.
Billy Ray clings on grimly as the demonic energy dissipates.
A cracking game. The paranormal was thoroughly exterminated. The Destructor turned out to be really easy to...erm...destroy, especially Blutowski came back to life next to Billy Ray, and I couldn't even get petty vengeance when a series of terrible rolls meant I couldn't spitefully push Billy Ray off the roof. Ah well...

Pete won by 4 VP's in the end. The Paranormal Exterminators came, they saw, and they kicked ghostly butt!

Wednesday 10 August 2016

All's Well In Gotham City?

I've been adding to both my urban terrain, and my BMG collection recently, and I thought I'd show some of it off.

First up, is my new gaming mat from Deepcut Studios. I've previously been a bit annoyed with my lack of roads in my game set ups, and this fits the bill perfectly. It's made of mouse-pad material so its safer for my models to be laid down on and is bizarrely quiet when you roll dice on it (not sure I'm used to that yet). It stores away much smaller and more portable than my old boards (which have been donated, somewhat ironically, to Matt) and really adds to the loom of my games...when I get them.

The only real downside is that the lay out is fixed and I really need to ensure that there is some more suitable street furniture and vehicles around the roads, as the distinct lack of cover could be a bit lethal.

Trouble on the streets!
The GCPD set up (newly painted) jersey barriers as a road block.
All quiet around the warehouse.
Although someone might have stolen the contents of the (new) skip.
Oh no! Code Green!
Don't worry, help is on it's way!
Hang on!

That's new!

Yes, yes it is. This is the Knight Models Batmobile that I treated myself to at Salute. I'd dithered about putting it together and painting it, but when I finally got to it, the model was remarkably easy to build and paint. There were some chunky bits of flash to remove, and there was a mould error in one of the wheel sections, but it was in one of the connecting points, so it just took a little carving to sort and didn't affect the final model. Otherwise, the model is cleanly cast and what appeared to be major issues as I was building it, ended up hidden by the rest of the model later. The fiddliest bit of the whole model was attaching the fins to the cockpit after the model was painted.

In game terms, I don't think this model will see a lot of action, other than as a piece of terrain. Firstly, it's a 'Legend', which although perfectly allowable in regular games, steps up the power level to a point where some crews can't cope. Although Joker and Scarecrow have rocket launchers and gatling guns available, Poison Ivy doesn't have access the any ranged weapons (without hiring Classic Deadshot), that can deal reliable damage to this fast moving target.

Secondly, at 150 reputation, £1500 funding and also requiring Batman to be present, it eats up a good chunk of your crew in regular games. It really belongs at higher points categories with other Legends, of which there are currently none. It's also the only vehicle in the game at the moment, but I can't imagine that staying the same for long. After my experience with this, I'd definitely be interested in more KM vehicles, and I really want them to publish official rules for the MDF SWAT van (I might even forgive them for mow much of a pig it was to put together then).

I've also added a couple more heroes.

Nightwing is what Dick Grayson became after quitting as Robin. I needed a new model when I decided to turn my cheaphammered Nightwing into a cheaphammered Colossus, and I took the opportunity to pick him up at the Titan Games event in Lichfield. Really straightforward to build and paint, the biggest issue was his massive tactical rock. I couldn't just cut it off, as he would have looked like he was doing lunges, so I decided to replace it with tactical bricks from the Mars Attacks game that I picked up cheaply recently. I'm happy with the results.

In game, Nightwing packs a really good punch having both combo (allowing him to attack more often) and handy (allowing him to re-roll attacks), making him more dangerous in combat than Batman, although the Dark Knight is more durable. He'll probably be a central feature of my next hero crew.

I've also painted Hawkgirl (sorry about the poor photo), who is a bit of departure for me. She is only second non-Gotham character I've painted, and unlike the Flash, she does not appear in any of the Batman books, cartoons or films that I own. She is, however, my favourite character from the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated series, and she also showed up in season 2 of 'The Flash' and so I've given her a pass on  my usual rules for purchasing from KM.

The photo doesn't really do her justice, but I'm quite happy with how she's turned out, and she may feature in a Flash crew at some point - I figure Flash, Hawkgirl and some cops are suitably thematic for the CW show, perhaps facing off against Killer Frost, Reverse Flash and some goons. Should be fast and fun.

Finally, after seeing how well the bricks on Nightwing's base turned out, I painted the other brick piles from Mars Attacks as they were really quick and simple to do. I'm going to start doing the rest of the Mars Attacks scenery soon. but I think I'm going to need to base the wall sections for stability.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to. TTFN.