Thursday, September 30, 2010

Empire vs Skaven, 2500 pts, 9/4/10 (First game of 8th!)

Wow, this post really is quite late. Better late than never though, right?

After getting the 8th edition rulebook, I was really excited about playing the game. The rules are significantly different, and really you can feel just from the reading that the game is going to be a very different experience than 7th. So, with the girlfriend out of town, I really wanted to get a game in. Frans volunteered, so I went over to his place for a fun, relaxed game.

Of course, I got home, and since we agreed on 2500 points (and since I randomly choose which army I'll play- choosing Empire) sat down to start working on the list, and realized, to my panic, that I really didn't have enough points of assembled Empire. Some digging through my pieces relaxed me some, and some extra upgrades on the characters made up the difference. Clearly, need to work on these Fantasy armies some!

Well, let's start with the list I ended up with. Not optimized, but since it was supposed to be a 'fun' game, I wasn't going to worry about it.

Wizard Lord (lvl 4) w/ Rod of Power, Holy Relic, Ring of Volans, Barded Warhorse, Lore of Fire
Captain (BSB) w/ Armour of Meteoric Iron, Wyrmslayer Sword
Wizard (lvl 2) w/ Dispel Scroll, Lore of Life
34 Spearmen w/ shields, full command
28 Swordsmen w/ full command
20 Handgunners
11 Handgunners
12 Knights w/ Full Command, Banner of Valour
2 Cannon
2 Mortar
5 Pistoliers w/ Musician
Steam Tank

6 war machines, although the Steam Tank really isn't that scary these days. Lots of stuff that really was just a waste, but sadly, no choice.

I don't have Frans' list- but some of it's basic components:
Grey Seer w/ Power Scroll
Warlord on Bonebreaker
2-3 Warlock Engineers
3 min. size units of Stormvermin, one with the Storm Banner
1 large (50?) unit of Clanrats
2 20 or so man units of Slaves
About 3 Poison Wind Mortars as weapon teams
unit of 5-6 Rat Ogres
2 Hellpit Abominations

Frans may end up commenting to correct it. I wasn't pleased about the addition of the Power Scroll, but whatever.

We rolled up some terrain, then realized we really didn't have much available, so kind of fudged things a bit. By a bit, I mean a lot. We also rolled the Watchtower scenario, so that was the main piece in the middle.

Quick summary for those that are without rulebook:
Sorcerous Portal casts a random spell a turn. During our game, all it did was cast Wyssan's Wildform and Soulblight on the nearest unit of Slaves... in the exact opposite order for it to be useful.
Sigmarite Shrine would force Skaven within 6" to reroll successful ward saves.
The Charnel pit causes all units within 6" to have -1 leadership.
The Wyrding Well had a chance to recover models in a unit, as well as a change to force the unit to be completely inactive for a turn.
Our three pillars represented a Nehekharan Sphynx, which could add cool special rules randomly to a character who goes near it... or damage it. I don't think we ended up using it during the game.

I rolled to be in the watchtower, and sadly only had a choice between a 20 man unit of Handgunners, and an 11 man unit of Handgunners. I chose the former (perhaps not a good idea). We deployed our armies, and the game started.


Full picture of the deployment

Better picture of the Skaven side.

With that done, we got stared.

Turn 1:
The Doomwheel starts off by going 14" straight towards the Steam Tank. The Hellpits move 7 and 17" (ugh). The Rat Ogres started the game by charging the Watchtower, and get shot at by the defenders, losing a taskmaster and I believe a Rat Ogre.

The Skaven successfully get off Bless with Filth and a Howling Warpgale, protecting the army from shooting.

The Doomwheel generates electricity and sends it at the Steam Tank, rolling a 6 or so. He does get one wound by, however, and deals 3- a very frustrating blow to start the game. Other Skaven shooting is just as effective... 2 direct hits by Plague Wind Mortars on the Spearmen result in 24 dead, but it's not all good as one of the Plague Wind Mortars misfires and dies.

In Close Combat, 11 of the Hangunners die, and they do 4 wounds in return to the Rat Ogres, and continue holding the building.

The Watchtower, surrounded, but still held.

I generate 4 Steam Points with the Steam Tank, and the Spearmen recover 3 models from the Wyrding Well. I move a few things forward, mainly the Pistoliers to a side of a clanrat unit, and the Steam Tank into his Doomwheel. The rest of my army stays put, hoping to do some damage with shooting (of course, Frans had popped the Storm Banner at the beginning of the turn).

I don't really accomplish much with magic, but do succeed in getting a Fireball off onto one of the Hellpit Abominations, dealing maybe 1-2 wounds. The shooting doesn't help much either. I do another wound to the Hellpit with a Cannonball, the rest of my shooting deals a single wound to a Rat Ogre. Not the decisive firepower I need.

In combat, I roll up my 5d3 for the Steam Tank's impact hits, hoping this will help turn the tide a little... and roll a 6. *sigh. It does total to 4 wounds on the Doomwheel, however, but that's not enough to kill it.

Nope, really didn't move a whole lot that turn.

Turn 2:
The Rat Ogres launch themselves at the building again, the nearest Abomination charges into my unit of Knights, and the other one rolls a triple 2, moving itself 6" backwards. Everything else moves up a little.

The only accomplishment from shooting or magic is the Doomwheel, who rolls a 10 for his strength that turn... destroying the Steam Tank. This causes Frans to scream and dance around in joy.

His joy continues as his Rat Ogres destroy the remaining Handgunners and enter the building, and the Abomination destroys the unit of knights, takes no wounds in return, and runs them off the board, Wizard Lord in tow.

I believe everything I have left is in this picture. Frans also has a Doomwheel and 2 Abominations off to the left. Ugh.

The Storm Banner had worn off on his turn, so I had high hopes that a good round of shooting would help even the gap some. Maybe I could salvage this. I didn't really move a whole lot, although my infantry units started to move up a little to start getting ready to assault the building.

My shooting phase starts off promising- the Pistoliers drop the Doomwheel. The Helblaster then kills 4 slaves (a cannon kills another 2), and my handgunners kill 4 Stormvermin. The other cannon, however, explodes. My mortars kill 11 slaves and 7 clanrats total. This all causes a unit of slaves and a unit of Stormvermin to panic and run. Not dominate, but it's certainly a start.

Turn 3:
Frans doesn't really move much, just enough to get things around the watchtower.

He Power Scrolls the 13th spell into the only decent sized unit I have, killing 17 of my Swordsmen (and killing 17 of his Clanrats who were by the Grey Seer!). The Swordsmen then panic off the board.

His shooting also takes a toll again, killing 3 Handgunners, and 4 Spearmen. The Spearmen then panic off the board.

At this point, I had no combat unit capable of assaulting the building, so I concede.

There were a few things I did wrong this game, but there really wasn't a lot I could do. My army, for now, is really only designed to work in one phase in the game, and Frans was able to stop me playing. I really ended up spending the entire game watching him.

Obviously, this soured my opinion of fantasy some, but I'm willing to play a few more games before I really start hating on it. There's a lot of reasons this game wasn't that enjoyable. As Rob, our spectator, pointed out- my luck sucked BAD, for instance. Also, I really need to run an army that can compete in the close combat phase. There's so many new changes, and there's a lot of maneuvering to do. I can't judge a game unfairly when I don't even try to take advantage of it, right?

Following this game, I showed Frans how to play Warmachine, and he played against Rob. Frans took a modified version of the Khador starter set, taking Vlad instead. Rob took Mercs. I won't bother with a report, suffice to say that Frans won, and ended up thoroughly enjoyed the game, and the faction.

Agonizer: Thoughts/Tips

"Its agony leaves our enemies vulnerable.  They hear its piteous cries and tremble to think what suffering we have in store for those who stand against us."  Man, that just about sums up the theme behind this model.  The concept is actually sick enough that one of my most common opponents described the Agonizer as 'horrifying'.  When you see the art in the book, it's hard to disagree...

Slow, but decent DEF and ARM for a solo.  It also has 8 Damage Boxes, which is great for a solo.  His combat stats don't matter, as we'll see.  For only 2 points, it's not difficult to fit him into lists, as well.

No attacks.  That's not what he's here for.

Special Rules:
Fearless: The thing has been through horrors you can't imagine... what's scarier to an Agonizer than potentially staying alive through a fight?  Pretty good too, since its CMD is only 6!  You wouldn't want it running, after all.

Agonies: First off, they aren't an action.  You can run and use them!  There are three different ones you can use, and each costs a fury point, and effects enemies within a 4-8 inch range.

- Gnawing Pain: Enemy warbeasts get -2 to damage rolls.  I find this the most commonly helpful, since it can really help keep your tough Skorne beasts and your warlock alive.  10" run + 8" agony means that you could also use this to go stop a ranged warbeast somewhat too.  Of course, they could just go after the Agonizer, but that does help preserve the rest of your army.

- Maddening:  Enemy warbeasts are -2 THR.  It's good, but it's not as common to find uses, although late game it would probably come in handy.  Dropping someone's THR from 8 to 6 is a MAJOR threat if the beast has 1 fury left on it, 9 to 7 is nice, and 10 to 8 still increases the chances of failing.  There's potential for some serious game-shifting potential here, just not always applicable.

- Spiritual Affliction: Enemy warbeasts can't use their animi; warjacks lose the use of their arc node, nor can be allocated focus for a round.  This is the only Agony that works against Warmachine.  Against Hordes, this could be awesome.  There are some great Animi that warlocks depend on- stopping their use for a turn, or forcing a beast to get away just to allow the use of it, could really screw with your opponent's plans.  Against Warmachine, as Ian points out in the comments, this can be quite devastating.  Some jacks absolutely need focus to be effective.  Not getting it can really hamper the effectiveness of the army.  This is a great denial ability, and against some opponents will probably cause the Agonizer to draw a lot of fire.

Fury Bank: This is how the Agonizer gets the fury he needs to use his Agonies.  Early on, you'll have some spare fury, so it's not hard to fill him up with the 5 max he can have.  Later on, if he's still alive, he can fill in for potentially dead beasts to give you that fury back.  In some ways, he may be worth taking just for this, but if you're depending on him to get your fury, you're probably pretty screwed anyway.  Like I said, it shouldn't be a problem to fill him up by turn 2.

Master Tormentor Morghoul:  Inflict Pain + Maddening could be incredibly effective mid/late game to get a warbeast to frenzy at a useful time.

Archdomina Makeda: Not really much... but she becomes even harder to kill in combat when backed up by an Agonizer.

Titan Gladiator: Not much, although Gnawing Pain helps keep it alive once it's in combat.

Cyclops Savage: Not much, although Gnawing Pain helps keep it alive as well.

Titan Cannoneer: Same as the other beasts.  Not really much synergy, just an ability to keep the beasts alive once they are engaged.

Paingiver Beast Handlers: Inflict Pain + Maddening is still great here- a full unit can add another 6 fury total to opponent's beasts, and the decreased THR can really screw with the opponent's plans.

Tier Thoughts:
He can be taken in Hexeris' theme force, which will virtually ensure he can be stocked up on focus turn one, since the upkeep spells are free.

Void Seer Mordikaar can take an Agonizer in his theme force as well.

Dominar Rasheth, however, actually requires Agonizers.  First, for every Titan you take, you can take an extra Agonizer.  For tier 3, you're required to take 2 Agonizers (starting them each with 3 fury points).  I'll have to actually play with Dominar Rasheth to get a feel for the synergies for them, but they do seem to be great targets for Dark Rituals.

It's only two points- and there's always something it can do for you. Against Hordes, it's more versatile, but it certainly has some pretty effective ways to screw over warjacks as well.

It's a quite disruptive piece that's versatile in its role, and should definitely get under your opponent's skin, especially on crucial turns.  Definitely consider taking one.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Contact Information

Added my contact information on the bottom right.  Feel free to email me about any news you may have about board wargames, and once I get this blog moving (*sigh) feel free to email suggestions for things you'd like to see here!

Friday, September 24, 2010

News for week ending 9/24/10

Friday, September 17, 2010

News for week ending 9/17/10 (or lack of news!)

Hmmm... as far as I can tell, there were no news items this week.  Sad.  I'll put my contact information up on the blog over the weekend, if you happen to have any, please don't hesitate to send them to me!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Archdomina Makeda: Thoughts/Tips

Makeda is the overall leader of the Skorne forces, both of the Army of the Western Reaches, as well as back in their own lands. Although this doesn't represent the 'overall ruler' incarnation of her, she's still a powerful leader with great fighting discipline.

Honestly, her stats are about as average as you can get. MAT 7 is nice, and her DEF/ARM of 15/16 is good, but not outstanding. Other than that, very average stats for a melee caster.

Two weaker attacks with the ability to Combo Strike for P+S 17. Having two melee attacks is always nice, and the flexibility of having a stronger attack really adds to the utility of the weapons. Again, it's not amazing, but it's certainly helpful.

Her feat is Walking Death, which saves all trooper models who are in her control area for one round, returning them to play at the start of her next turn if they were destroyed. These models can't move, but can certainly attack. Also, she can't save the trooper if the whole unit is destroyed.

This is a great feat... if you're running infantry, so it's not really geared for the really small games. At about 25 points, however, you should be running at least a unit, and sometimes two, so it's awesome. The feat specifically says Trooper models, which I believe means that you'll be returning just about everything that was in the unit, including all the attachments (like the officer) and even character attachments, for the one unit we currently have with one.

Also take note: it only works with living troopers, so Immortals and Hollow models (in a two warlock game) are unaffected by this (unless after dying, Hollow models are no longer considered Undead? Hmm...).

One final thing that a lot of people miss, and may actually be wrong despite my inability to find a ruling against it: the models don't have to be returned within 3" of the remaining member(s) of the unit. They just have to be placed so that when you're done, all the returned models are within 3" of a member of the unit, and in formation. This is an interesting difference- take for example, a unit of 10 Praetorian Swordsmen. If 9 of them died, I have seen a few (okay, maybe just once) people drop the 9 in a tight circle around the last guy. You can actually set them up quite spread out, so long as the conditions are met when you're done- all the models within 3" of another model in the unit, and all in formation. Pretty slick.

The feat is great, obviously, and you're going to get a lot of mileage out of it. The timing can be a bit rough, since your opponent could just ignore your troops for that round. If he does, I'm sure you'll make him pay. Also, if your feat is about to be used, try to keep in mind that you'll want to protect at least one member of each squad. Don't bunch them all up too much, which could just lead to them dying to a man.

Carnage: Friendly models targeting enemy models in her control area get a +2 on their attack rolls. This is really useful, as Skorne seem to have a lot of lower MAT models. Praetorian Swordsmen, Ferox, and Immortals all have MAT 6 (Karax are 5!), as do several of our beasts. Why not give them effectively MAT 8, which really helps their chances to hit those pesky enemies? I find this spell being cast from turn to turn, as it's so helpful for getting your close combat attacks to be effective and helps save fury on your beasts.

Defender's Ward: Great spell. Extra 2 defense and armor, and it's an upkeep spell. There are not many places this doesn't come in handy. On herself, it makes her 17/18 which is incredible. It can make beasts tougher to kill, and even your basic infantry get a huge boost from it (and obviously your elite infantry get a better boost). You should have this cast on someone first turn and upkeep it, or recast it on a new target every turn of the game.

Muzzle: A low powered offensive spell that stops a beast damaged by it from advancing towards her. Its range is 10, which is long enough to be useful, and it has a decent shot of putting a hurting on light beasts (and heavies if boosted). I rarely find a good use for this spell, however. I imagine if you find an opposing beast that really is that terrifying, however (maybe Mulg or an opposing Molik Karn or something), it will have its uses. Certainly not useless, but probably not getting used every turn.

Savagery: I believe Makeda is the only model with this spell. Great SPD increase when advancing, but can't make ranged attacks. This obviously works well with her special warbeast (which I'll mention when I cover him), but the uses of this spell are incredible. First, it makes your beasts move a lot faster, especially those heavies. Obviously, you have other means to enhance their speed, but this is still very handy. It can increase the speed of your infantry, while still giving them options afterwards. One trick, mentioned by loftybloke (check out his blog for more Skorne stuff!) was to have this upkept on a unit of Cataphract Cetrati, who could move up 9" a turn and end in Shield Wall (then using Defender's Ward once they are in combat). That's just such a cool use. You are going to find a lot of utility in this spell, so it will probably be upkept most of the battle, or recast when the need arises.

Special Rules:
Blood-Quenched: Pretty nice ability that gives her an extra point of STR and ARM for a round after she kills a living enemy model. It is cumulative as well, so if she somehow kills 3 such models, that's an extra 3 STR and ARM. It's great for keeping her alive, although it's not easy or common to be grabbing more than one or two of these bonuses. Still, one or two certainly can make a huge difference, especially if she's in the thick of the fighting.

Inspiration [Skorne models]: She is the leader of all Skorne forces, after all. They won't run if they are within her CMD range (of 9), and if they enter it, they'll automatically rally. Most Skorne units are CMD 9, so they aren't too likely to run anyway, but with her, they don't have to worry about it at all.

Side Step: After she hits with an initial or special attack, she can move 2", ignoring free strikes.

This has a few uses. First, she can use it to get out of combat. With a .5" melee range, she can get to the edge of her melee range, hit, and then get 2" away, out of my opponent's melee range. Of course, that's really helpful if she's already hurt and in a bad spot.

Another, and probably more useful use is to side step into another opponent. With two initial attack, she'll be able to side step twice (or once if she combo strikes), as mentioned ignoring free strikes. If she's going against low ARM models, this could put her into position to kill quite a few models, enhancing the rewards from Blood Quenched. Defender's Ward provides some additional protection for her as she does this, and of course the B-Q ARM bonus will just make you tougher and tougher to kill.

Certainly, it's another useful skill that just gives her more options.

Titan Gladiator: Nothing that isn't already obvious. Carnage helps save a lot of fury, bringing the Gladiator effectively to MAT 8. Defender's Ward doesn't have much use on him either. Savagery is wasted, since Rush is available, and he'll want to charge/slam if that's an option. The Gladiator is such a useful beast (because of granting Pathfinder) that it may be worth taking anyway.

Cyclops Savage: Prescience + Carnage will make your beasts incredibly likely to hit for minimal fury costs. Other than that, not much to speak of.

Titan Cannoneer: No real synergies. Diminish + Defender's Ward + Blood-Quenched all on Makeda can make Makeda very resilient against close combat death, however.

Paingiver Beast Handlers: Makeda helps out infantry, these guys make beasts better. Great for enhancing your entire army, but don't really have much interaction with one another. Makeda can help keep them alive longer, if you really have no other targets or desperately need these guys alive. Enrage + Carnage will make your beasts more reliable, obviously.

Obviously, she'll have better synergy with infantry, but I haven't covered other infantry yet... I promise it's coming!

Tier Thoughts:
Her Theme Force is called 'Army of the Western Reaches', and as you can imagine, is about infantry and combined arms. It's also very inclusive, including most of the living close combat units, every warbeast, and several solos (Praetorian and Cataphract). It also includes Saxon Orrik. It's fairly generic, and gives you a slightly increased deployment zone, as well as Advance Move on some units. More on this when I have a chance to put it into action.

She's a good warlock with a lot of tools to make her infantry better. Obviously, she's more geared towards close combat, with Carnage and her own special rules (and short range on her enhancement spells), but really any infantry you take with her will find her useful because she does offer some protection. Your ranged elements will love being brought back after death, and will love to see a warbeast get Muzzled instead of crashing into them. If you love Skorne infantry, and want to run a variety of different types, she's absolutely worth considering as your warlock.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Arcane Legions game, 9/3/10

I haven't played Arcane Legions since PrezCon (in February), but now that Rob had some stuff, and I had a free Friday, I figured it was as good a time as any to break it out again.

Rob has pictures of the game, so whenever he decides to post them, I'll make sure to link to them.

The original goal of this post was to give you a battle report of the game, but alas, Rob and I were drinking, and we'll only have pictures to show the game happening.

I will say a few things about the game, however.

First, the distribution system is kind of nice. I find collectible games to suck- they are annoying to get into, and really annoying to stay 'up-to-date' on. However, Arcane Legions makes it a little easier in two ways. First, the starter box comes with a decent sized army for all three of the different armies (Romans, Hans, Egyptians). Second, the booster packs are split up by faction. There's a Roman booster box, an Egyptian one, etc. That really helps keep the overall cost of playing down, since you'll likely choose an army and only purchase things you need.

Second, although I like the overall simplicity of the rules, I have to wonder if they've made a balanced game. In the game we played, I destroyed my opponent by shooting. And shooting and shooting. Really, I didn't spend THAT many points on shooting, but even two units right down the middle were capable of killing anything that approached them. And you can sacrifice a model in the unit to shoot again, once per turn. Sure, that means I lose guys- but overall it's too effective not to do from time to time. I don't like that.

Third, the games we've played are very simple. Two control points in the middle of the table, the objective being to control them and score points (3/turn, first to 21 wins). You also gain a few points for killing the opposing units. I wonder if there's more options for playing the game I don't know about?

Finally- the way orders are given out, only a small portion of your army does anything on a given turn. We each had about 7 or so units, and with only 8 orders per turn (and each of our units requiring two orders to do anything, so basically 4 a turn!), a few of our units spent the entire game as spectators. It's kind of weird.

I like the game, but it's going to take a few games to get my head around some of these issues. It really may be just lack of experience.

Also, the minis have some pretty mediocre quality... that's never a good thing in a miniature game. I wonder if some good paint jobs would enhance their look. Rob needs to get on that! ;)

Happened again...

Yeah, another half finished post went up. I'm not really sure why I keep doing that lately, but I promise to be more careful.

If you don't follow this blog by as rss aggregator or something, you won't see these things happen, so this is really only an apology to people who do use them.

It won't happen again!

News for week ending 9/10/10

  • Ad Astra Games put out a development status report, detailing what new products would be coming out for Birds of Prey, as well as how things are going with version 2.0 of their rules. Read it here.
  • Legion Wargames began shipping Saipan & Tinian, the first in a line of their new Island War series. Lots of potential in these game, and of course, it's always nice to support a small publisher.
  • Lock N' Load announced a new game, Steam and Steel. It's basically a steam-punk version of World War I. Might be fun though.
  • GMT Games removed Arctic Storm and June 6 from their P500 list. Probably were moving too slow, and the lack of interest made them decide against it. Always a shame to see games get removed.

New Skorne additions!

It's been a very long time since I've bought any new miniatures, but I finally have!

Molik Karn, as is often noted, is probably among the best warbeasts in the book, if not the game (I've even heard of him described as the 'best Skorne warlock'). He'll definitely come in handy to bolster my offensive punch.

The Agonizer will be nice as a support piece, plus I know Ben hates them, so hopefully they'll draw some fire as well (put the poor guy out of his misery!).

Will hopefully have them assembled by next week to get into some games!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Fifty Year War: Conflict and Strategy in the Cold War

Wow, a non-news post!

I just recently finished reading The Fifty Year War: Conflict and Strategy in the Cold War by Norman Friedman. Norman Friedman is a strategist who worked during the Cold War at the Hudson Institute, partially as the deputy director of national security studies. He combines a lot of research, as well as first-hand experiences and knowledge in this book.

I wasn't alive for much of the Cold War (was born in 83, so I was 8 at the 'end' of the USSR in 1991), so this book was of additional interest to me given the influences of the Cold War even today, especially with our foreign policy.

The book starts by talking about the origins of the Cold War, and its various roots, starting with the Spanish Civil War, and Stalin's 1937 attempt to control it. It then moves through World War II, and the various decisions and moves made by the powers through the end of the war.

It moves on to discuss the opening moves of the Cold War, from Stalin's military buildup, to the Marshall Plan, to both Tito in Yugoslavia and Mao in China.

The increased tension, the buildup of the two nation's military forces, and the eventual downfall of the Soviet Union are also covered in extensive detail.

For starters, the book is a fantastic resource to anyone who wants to learn about the Cold War as a whole. Not only is there a lot of good information and insight in the book, there's also a very extensive bibliography in the back for further reading about almost any aspect or period of the war.

In addition, the book provides a lot of context for the decisions of the time, as well as gives a great feel for the misinterpretations each country had about one another, as well as how they were exploited. For instance, the "black" (above Top Secret classification) programs towards the end of the war, was used to sop up the Soviet's hard currency in two ways (in addition to the desire to develop some of these projects in secret, of course) - first, because the Americans knew the Soviets wouldn't be able to stop themselves from spending the resources to uncover what those projects were, and second, combined with deceptive leaks to journalists, the US forced the Soviets to spend a ton of money trying to replicate things that even we couldn't do, solely because the Soviet opinion at the time was that the West, particularly the US, could accomplish anything with technology that they wanted.

It also clearly goes into the political, economic, and military decisions that made the US successful during various phases of the war, as well as the decisions made by the USSR that led to their downfall. The book is also very critical of the McNamara era, and the setbacks the period caused on the US's strategy.

The book is EXTREMELY detailed in some places, and I suspect probably more than the average reader will be able to handle, but generally these are contained in only certain areas.

Naturally, if you're interested in the Cold War, this is must-read. Either as an overview, or just to get more information about the 'chess match' played by the two sides, it's a great source.

Of course, the purpose of this blog isn't books, but wargames tend to have a strong relation to an interest in military history. When talking about the Cold War, there's really only one game that comes to mind: Twilight Struggle.

In my opinion, and of course my limited experience, no other game does as good a job of providing a feel for the tension of the Cold War, as well as the consequences of many of the decisions made by each side throughout it. And what's interesting (to me, at least), is finally knowing the history behind some of the cards, and seeing their effect on both the table as well as on my opponent. As I've said, I wasn't alive for the Cold War, and honestly it was barely covered in school. I didn't know all that much about it... but now, I can appreciate both the results of the war, and the topic of the game.

Also, now I want to play Twilight Struggle more :). Maybe I need to get VASSAL running...

Pete W's first sculpt!

Pete W over at Ghost Nebula had his first sculpted models cast, and sent me a set!

To start, here's a picture of the models in my hand:

These guys are going to be perfect for corpse markers, which various games have use for.

This guy will make a pretty good object marker, as well.

Of course, my photography sucks, but if you want to see these guys a little better, as well as see them painted (or if you want to buy them, since they are very affordable!) you can check out Ramshackle Games' page for them.

While you are there, you may want to look into their post-apocalyptic game, Nuclear Renaissance, which you can find plenty of information for on their web page. Heck, you can even download the rules for free, to see if you're interested. One of these days, when I have money, I'll end up picking up the starter, since I'm always down to try a new game :).

Friday, September 3, 2010

Titan Cannoneer: Thoughts/Tips

The Titan Cannoneer is based off a simple concept- it's a big titan holding a cannon! It's also such a pain to put together, it had better be worth taking, right?

Slow speed, which isn't a huge issue given his role. Low MAT and RAT, good DEF and ARM, average FURY/THR. A bit more expensive than his Gladiator brother, at 9, he also has few health boxes, especially for a heavy.

His first and most distinctive weapon is the Siege Gun, a mid-range, decent POW weapon with AOE 3. With his low RAT, you're not going to be hitting much, even with aiming. With boosting, you'll hit most things, but regardless the AOE is nice. He also has Tusks, which increase the strength of his head-butt and slam power attack damage rolls, as well as a War Mace which hits pretty hard.

Obviously, the focus of this beast is the siege gun, which is strong but not likely to hit without fury spending (which you probably will, so not a big problem). I wonder at whether or not the Titan is really going to be more useful overall than the Venator Catapult Crew, who has another half a foot on their range. I suppose I'll find out with more plays, and actually trying the other unit.

His Animus is Diminish, which lowers the strength of enemy models within two inches of the user. It's an interesting tool, even though it can only be used on the Cannoneer or the warlock. In melee, in turns the Cannoneer into a more survivable beast than the other heavies Skorne have available (aside from the Sentry), and it can help keep the warlock alive when the opponent gets up close. It also can make it easier to throw targets, especially if combined with another STR enhancement on another beast. Overall, it's a very handy animus which should give the Cannoneer a place in lists.

Special Rules:
Bullheaded: Same as with the Gladiator, this changes the way the Cannoneer frenzies. He'll slam instead of charging. Overall, this can be very useful at the right times. Once your opponent has moved his army up into your army's face, leaving fury on the Cannoneer isn't nearly such a big deal- if he frenzies, he could make the battle a lot easier for the melee elements of your army.

Master Tormentor Morghoul: Not too much, here. Diminish helps Morghoul's survivability, but not enough to save him if he gets seriously threatened. Admonition can help keep the Cannoneer out of combat.

Titan Gladiator: Not really anything exciting here- Diminish helps the Gladiator throw things more easily. They are designed for very different roles, so not much synergistic overlap.

Cyclops Savage: If you're running enough beasts, the Savage is very handy- Prescience on the Cannoneer can really keep your Gladiator's fury usage to a minimum. If you're aiming at that DEF 15 warlock (needing a 9), you can roll and see if you're close before spending the fury to boost the hit, saving the fury for the damage rolls. These two go very well together. Also, if they are close, Diminish can be awesome for keeping the Savage alive, since he's quite fragile otherwise.

Paingiver Beast Handlers: Medicate is the most useful ability here, since the Cannoneer doesn't have that much health. Enrage may be nice to make the Cannoneer useful on a critical turn as well.

Tier Thoughts:
Usable in all the same theme lists that the Gladiator was. I could see him having a place in Dominar Rasheth's list, just at a guess, but since I've not used the warlock, I can't tell quite yet (since the Sentry may be a better choice).

Overall, the Cannoneer is a fairly well-rounded beast, with both ranged, melee, and support elements. He's capable of providing some use the entire game, unlike some of the other Skorne options who are melee geared. I think he's a little overcosted myself, since I don't find him any more useful than the Gladiator (who's a point cheaper), but I imagine that opinion will change upon facing more infantry-centric armies. Regardless, you can't go too wrong by taken this guy.

News for week ending 9/3/10

  • Avalanche Press has two new games up for order: Western Desert Force, a quick-playing game, but without much information given on their website, and Fortress Malta, a book expansion to their Island of Death game.
  • Lock 'N Load begins shipping World at War: Operation Garbo either today or tomorrow. Very exciting- I'm always happy to see expansions for this great system.
  • GMT Games announced another product in their Combat Commander line, Combat Commander Battle Pack #4: New Guinea. Looks like 14 more scenarios, using the Pacific rules. That's actually really exciting, but I don't even own the regular CC: Pacific rules. Maybe an incentive to do so.
  • Worthington Games began shipping Red Poppies and Anzio/Cassino. The former covers regimental level combat from WWII, the latter is a quick-playing game covering two different airborne operations.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Skorne vs Trollbloods, 15pts, 8/31/10

Another battle vs. Ben during our lunch break.

My list:
Archdomina Makeda
- Cyclops Savage
- Titan Cannoneer
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 3 Grunts)
Praetorian Swordsmen (Leader and 5 Grunts)

Ben's List:
Chief Madrak Ironhide
-Troll Impaler
-Dire Troll Bomber
Trollkin Champions (Leader and 2 Grunts)

With the Cannoneer, I actually have decent shooting, and with the Cyclops' animus I can be very efficient about hitting.

Normal terrain- rough patch in the middle, various obstructions scattered around.

Ben began the game advancing his warlock and beasts up towards my right side, and sent his Champions off towards my left.

I moved my Cyclops over towards the Champions, but still a distance away, and sent the Swordsmen behind an obstacle so they wouldn't get shot at. The Cannoneer moved forward and took a long range shot at Madrak, knowing I was out of range and hoping for a lucky deviation, which I didn't get. Makeda moved up a little and Defender's Warded herself.

Ben advanced again and took some shots with his shooting elements, to no effect.

I started my turn by charging the Cyclops into his Champions, expecting to do some decent damage. On my charge attacks, I needed a 6, and I could boost after seeing the result. I of course rolled snake-eyes. *Sigh. I did manage to kill two out of the unit, but that was definitely worse than expected. The Titan took a shot at Madrak, missing, and scattering off of anything. I moved my Swordsmen into a blocking position, in front of Ben's beasts, to try to hold them up. I used Makeda to cast Defender's Ward on them, as well as popped her feat.

Ben thought for a second, then popped his feat and moved Madrak forward. The Bomber took off, rushing into the swordsmen, killing 4, I believe, after the feat. Pretty scary. The Impaler moved forward and dropped one. They failed to kill the last one in the unit, however, meaning my guys were coming back! The Champion took a huge chunk out of the Cyclops.

Sadly, the Cyclops was out of range- so he frenzied, not really accomplishing much. The Titan hit Madrak square on with a shot, but he used his scroll to ignore it. All of my swordsmen had come back, and they surrounded his beasts, taking chunks out of the Impaler, but failing to kill him.

Ben Trampled the Bomber through my Swordsmen, past Makeda. Madrak moved into the swordsmen to kill a few as well. The Champion finished off the Cyclops, and the Impaler I think accomplished nothing. Not so exciting.

Things weren't looking too bad- Madrak was close by, and I was hoping to kill his beasts to force a concession. Makeda charged into the back of his Bomber, doing a lot of damage, but failing to kill it. The swordsmen succeeded in killing the Impaler however.

Ben stared the last turn by moving Madrak around, and attacking Makeda from behind. That was not a good thing- after a few swings, he had killed her, and was once again victorious.

Honestly, there were a lot of things that hurt me thins game. My poor rolling with the Cyclops was a start, but wasn't a major reason for the loss. I just made too many mistakes, both with positioning, and in moving to protect my warlock. I did finally get a good use out of Makeda, but I really need to run a bigger unit just to ensure they stick around. Madrak's feat finally did something, and after seeing it in action, I'll need to be conscious of it. I think I have a better hang of all the models in the army as well- my next addition will be the unit attachment for the Swordsmen, which should certainly help their capabilities.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Local Competition August results!

Well, we came to a some-what majority, so let's update the scores.

Again, rules are here.

Painting: Ben narrowly wins this, making great progress on his Slann and Stegadon. Rob was close as well, finally making some painting progress. I finally started painting, but really wasn't in the running.

Playing Games: Frans again takes this, playing 10 games of Warhammer Fantasy, at various point sizes. Ben comes in second.

Blogging: I take first in a very close competition, which definitely had some disagreement. Ben came in second.

Construction: Rob gets his first point of the competition! Nathan was second, but Rob completed a LOT of models this month! Go Rob!

Next month should be interesting, since I will be playing more games, starting to get my Malifaux minis worked on, and painting more (I forgot how enjoyable it is).

Scores so far:
Ben: 2 (2 Painting)
Frans: 2 (2 Playing)
Steve (me): 2 (2 Blogging)
BK: 1 (1 Construction)
Rob: 1 (1 Construction)
Nathan: 0

Accomplishments for last month

Well, a brief walkthrough of what I did in August for our friendly competition.

Just a little

4 Paingivers and the Totem Hunter

I played 4 15 point games of Hordes.

Finished up my Dark Elves in 8th articles, started working on some Skorne strategy articles, and also started fleshing out some Cryx articles. Obviously, I'm on a big Warmahordes kick right now, but I have some GW games coming up, so that'll help balance me out some :).

We'll put our results up by the end of the day, once I hear what some people have done.