Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Half-year Resolution Progress

Way back in January, I posted some New Years Resolutions for 2010. I'm not doing so well, but there's hope on the horizon!

Let's take a quick look:

No new armies, no proxying!
This is my one success. I haven't started any new armies this year, and it's looking pretty good that I won't. In games, I've also been great about not proxying. The worst I've done is fielded models that weren't finished. To me, that's acceptable. The models were purchased and had been started. Usually they just needed arms or some such. I'll take it. So far, so good.

Build my Empire army
I've made progress here, actually. As the progress bar on the right shows, I'm about halfway done fully assembling what I'd like to run. This one is in limbo, primarily because 8th edition may change the layout of my army some, and I'll need to rethink what goes in there to adjust to it. Otherwise, this could very easily be done by the end of the year. I consider this on track.

Paint my Dark Elves!
Well, this one is at a bad spot. I've not made any real progress here this entire year. A lot of reasons for it, but mainly it's laziness. However, there's potential for change here as well (at the end of the post). This will be pretty tough, however. Not giving up yet!

Build Witch hunters
I work on this occasionally, whenever it looks like I might get a game in. With them pulling Sisters off the shelf, this may be a tough one (since I need more Immolators), but I should be able to get it fairly close. Overall, not good, but maybe salvageable.

Play more games!
To date, I've played 6 games of Warhammer Fantasy, 4 games of Warmachine, 2 games of 40K, 2 games of Space Hulk, and a game of Lord of the Rings. The only thing really lagging behind is my 40K games. Hopefully I can get more games in there. Once 8th comes out, I'm sure to get a ton of fantasy games in. I may also push some Kill Team games, which are a lot smaller, just to get my friends and I playing some 40K games. Anything to get those models on the table. So far though, pretty good here.

Play through Great Battles of Alexander
Haven't started at all. This should be changing shortly, but this is really more of interest at my other blog. My board wargaming has pretty much stalled out, but should start happening again in July.

Play through Fellowship of the Ring
No progress here. Really really hoping to get this one moving end of July. Just need some free time to work on the terrain with Rob, and then we can get it going! Not sure if I'll succeed on this one, truth be told. Just so far to go.

Get 100 painting points
Currently at 0. Not looking good. I just need to get painting, and I'll start chipping away at this. A hopeful help is mentioned below.

Watch the top 50 movies
Needed to watch 41, made it through 11 so far. Kind of slow, because of moving to a new apartment, and the girlfriend moving down and in. With some dedication, I might be able to pull this off. Will probably watch these while working through the other goals.

So 3 out of my 9 resolutions look to be on track, and most look like I could get back on track with some effort. The moving and girlfriend moving have really disrupted me, but as things settle down, I should be able to get moving again.

Alright, so what's going on for me the rest of the year?

Well, me and some of my friends have decided to try a full hobby challenge to get us all working on our stuff, as well as expanding our progress into the hobby.

Every month, we will be keeping track of our progress in four areas: Painting, Playing games, Blogging, and Construction (assembly of miniatures, terrain, as well as conversions). At the end of every month we will go through and determine who has done the best for that month in each category. The winner of that category will be awarded one point. After 6 months, we'll see how we did. No real prize yet, but if the competition heats up, we may involve some sort of incentive. Mainly we just want to get some stuff done.

The competitors:
Me! (and you're already on my blog)
Ben (at his blog)
Nathan (at his blog)
BK (who will most likely only have pictures of his progress show up on Nathan's blog as well)
Frans (at his blog)
Rob (at his blog)

Some of our other friends here may contribute as well.

This challenge should be a little interesting, because Frans has the most free time out of all of us by a pretty large margin (as in 2-4 hours a night!). We'll see if it's a fair fight.

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to be trying to get as much quality stuff done as I can, and see if I can't knock out these resolutions, as well as win me some bragging rights! It's not over yet!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Horus Heresy, brief thoughts

So me and Rob have played a few games of the recently released Horus Heresy from Fantasy Flight. Again, there are great in-depth reviews out there, so I'm just going to hit on a few points.

First off, I've never played the old version of this game. This version apparently is very different, and has a very different 'feel'.

The Good:
  • Great components. The little miniatures are fairly nice, although unpainted (but that's not a problem). The cards are nice and easy to read. The board is pretty well laid out (with one small issue). Tokens are nice and thick. You definitely get a lot of great components here.
  • The characters are 'characterful'. Great description, right. More specifically, the primarchs really give you a feel for just how incredible they are by both their special rules and the fact they get extra (and sometimes cool) cards. Jaghatai Khan, for instance, has a rule to let him and White Scar units become very mobile and get a pretty good attacking threat range. Mortarian causes opponent units to become weaker. Things like that. I find it very cool.
  • The combat system. I was really unhappy with this after the first game, but after a few more plays, I've grown to like it. The strength of your forces determines how many cards you get each battle. The cards are both for attack and defense, but have fun abilities that really make the battles individually tactical and interesting. Plus, the cards can go after your opponent's heroes in some cases, which is just a cool feel, especially when you get one of them to die. Overall, the combat system works very well.
  • Good re-play. 6 Scenarios (mainly just different set-ups), and the games have actually all unfolded differently. Of course, it's all about assaulting the Imperial Palace, and there's only so much you can do different each time, but so far it hasn't gotten old.

The Bad:

  • Seems too static. There are large parts of your army that just generally have no impact on the game. As the Imperial Player, my tech-priests never bother moving. Neither do most of the people in the palace until it finally gets assaulted. Imperial Army and Tank units don't really move a whole lot either. For Chaos, you're dropping units all over the board, but aside from one or two large pushes, you aren't doing a whole lot of actual maneuver either. I've never seen Horus leave the Vengeful Spirit (which fits the background, but is kind of boring). If you have single units of something (for either side) somewhere on the board, good bet their contribution to the game is over.
  • Victory conditions. Killing Horus or the Emperor wins the game. That part is fine with me. It's the other two I have issues with, since they seem to be the only ones that come into play. You can win by owning all 4 spaceports (after the midway point of the game), or the Imperials win by default if the game goes too long (the other Space Marine legions succeed in getting back to Terra in time to overwhelm the heretics). The time constraint makes it really hard on the Chaos player... too hard, I think, given the mechanics. Your actions (and a GOOD chunk of Imperial battle cards) cause you to get closer to that game end. The Imperial player really should just be going for this every time. And it's so easy! You win one major battle against the Chaos player, and you're set. He's not going to have time to prepare another major assault. The Chaos player, however, seems to want to go for the Spaceports. They tend to be fairly lightly defended early on, so if he can take them and hold them, he can win. I just don't think it makes for an interesting game- two of the spaceports start in the Chaos player's hands, and he'll usually get a 3rd one really early. Then it's a battle for a single space on the board. Whoo. How fun is that, really?
  • Balance. I personally think the game is too hard on the Chaos player in most of the scenarios. You can't move around the map easily, and you can sometimes have quite a way to go. And you're on a time crunch. That's harsh. I understand that Chaos lost, but this is a board game, and there are a some scenarios I just don't think Chaos has much hope, and after one or two bad things happen to them, I think it becomes impossible too easily.
  • One small component complaint. Some areas on the board are just way too small to hold the things they are going to need to hold. Parts of the Imperial Palace, specifically. Setting up 3 Imperial Fist units + Rogal Dorn in one of the smaller Imperial Palace areas just creates a jumble of things. If there's major fighting in the area, it quickly becomes overly crowded, and hard to keep straight sometimes. Seems like they could've done that a little better.

The 'I don't get it':

  • Imperials can build reinforcements... but there never seems to be a point to doing so. Imperial Army/Tank units don't really have a whole lot of use, so building more of them doesn't really help you, especially since you'll need to use those orders on other things, like trying to get things into position. I built a Titan in a game... but it didn't go anywhere (see above). What's the point of having all those reinforcement cards, when the reinforcements start in positions they aren't likely to leave?
  • The Vengeful Spirit. In the 40K background, the Horus Heresy culminates with the Emperor, two of the primarchs and several terminator squads teleporting there, and results in the death of Horus and Sanguinius. You can do it right away in this game most of the time (the card for the Imperials to do this starts in your opening hand a few scenarios), but there really doesn't seem to be too much point. Yeah, killing Horus or the Emperor wins the game, but why bother when it's easier to go the other routes?
  • Co-existence battles. I just don't get these rules. If, for some reason, you and your opponent's forces start in the same area, you fight, but the Imperial player counts as attacking, and therefore the Chaos player get to choose to play his card first or second. Usually co-existence battles happen at the beginning of the game (when some elements are turned traitor), or whenever daemons appear because of cards. So generally, we're talking small forces on each side. One card to one card fights generally are in the favor of the first player to play a card, and that's what happens. You're forced to fight all these fights that you get to die in. Oh course, it helps the Chaos player, and they need it, but it still seems like a slightly strange rule.
  • Yeah, it's a 40K game. Not all of FFG's customers are 40K fans. Do you know what Khorne's legion is called, the name of their primarch, and what color their minis would be (out of red, blue, purple, and green?). Yeah, I do too. Most people don't. Why not have a play-aid to point this out?

Overall, the game is very enjoyable (despite the fact I wrote more about the negatives than the positives). You really get into it once you start playing it, and you don't think about all the negatives. Maybe more plays will get rid of my feelings on the parts I don't find so attractive, and in that case, the game will only get better in my eyes.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Forces of Warmachine: Cryx

Well, I got my Forces of Warmachine: Cryx book last week, and I've spent the week looking at it, and getting really excited to play some darn games with all this stuff. There's plenty of great in-depth reviews online, so I'll just post a few thoughts.

The story, I thought, was very well done. You get a great feel for the dynamics between some of the Lich Lords, as well as the chance to see two in action that I don't remember being in the previous stories- and one is even playable: Lich Lord Venethrax, the Cryx master of Draconic Lore. More on him in a second.

There is a few pages on the history of the Cryxian Empire, as well as some bits and pieces about the organization of their army, and the roles of the twelves Lich Lords. Again, very well written stuff, but I'm not sure if there's anything totally earth-shattering here.

The Tier Lists are again here, and some of them actually seem VERY strong.

Both Asphyxious Lists are very flexible in their allowed choices, the basic version allowing you to take 5-point Slayers (which is fantastic!), but with a few more restrictions. The Epic's theme list is even less restrictive, letting you take most of the models you would want to take in his lists anyway, but needing to put a few Cephalyx (who I've never used, so don't know how good they are) units to get all the way to Tier 4.

War Witch Deneghra's List doesn't seem too great, but running a bunch of Warwitch Siren solos could be pretty effective against some armies. Epic Deneghra's theme list focuses on incorporeal models, with Bane Knights and stealthy solos thrown in, so should be a HUGE headache for some armies to face.

Regular Goreshade's theme force revolves around Stalkers and Bane Thralls (and gives the Bane Thralls a free move at Tier 2), which would be interesting. A very in-your-face melee army with a lot of Stealth from Goreshade's Shadowmancer spell would be a lot of fun to run. Epic Goreshade has Bane Thralls and the Withershadow Combine. That's a strong start for any Cryx list.

The rest of the theme lists seem fun, but I'm not that experienced with any of the other casters, so I don't know how well they'd perform, or even how well they'd synergize with their components. As I get some of that experience I'll make sure to post about them individually.

As with all the new army books, this one includes several new inclusions (although many have been previewed in No Quarter.

Our new caster, as mentioned, is Lich Lord Venethrax. He has rules and abilities to make him extra effective against warbeasts, as well as a feat that should be moderately useful against Legion (I think they're the only ones with a lot of Eyeless Sight?). Not sure of his effectiveness as a general caster, but he'll definitely see some use.

A new bonejack: the Ripjaw, a 5-point arcnode with an Armor Piercing melee attack. 5 points to give me a way to deal some melee damage to heavy armor? Why not. I bet this thing will be pretty fun to use, but I'm not sure how much I need more melee ability in my Cryx armies.

Our new heavy is the Corruptor, who has a 12" range, Pow 14 gun with interesting abilities (including the ability to turn a living casualty from the gun into an arc-node for a turn!). It's interesting, and has some VERY cool potential, but I don't know if I'll get much use out of it either.

Our Bane Thralls got a FANTASTIC unit attachment. Tough + a free standup at the beginning of the turn for 3 points? Heck yes. Makes my favorite unit harder to kill, with none of the penalties. Will absolutely be giving this some play time.

We get a new unit in the Satyxis Blood Witches (and their unit attachment, the Blood Hag), but I think they are fairly mediocre. Decent at going after infantry, and capable of doing a lot of damage to said infantry for just a few points. The Blood Hag makes them better, but not good.

The Satyxis Raider Captain is new. She's a solo with a bunch of abilities to support and enhance Satyxis Raiders, but she's pretty soft, so I don't know if she'll have much of a role either.

The Warwitch Siren, however, is freaking cool. She's like a 2-pt mini-Deneghra. Seduction and Venom, along with stealth, is going to be incredibly useful in a bunch of situations. I can see myself taking 2 for a few games, just because I think they're going to be really handy.

Overall, with the changes made to the Cryx models I'm used to as a result of Mark II, these new additions and the new book just give me plenty more reasons to be excited playing them. I can't wait to get more games in!

Monday, June 14, 2010

2v2 battle report, 5/29/10

Me, Ben, Frans, and Sam sat down for a bigger two vs two game a few weeks go. We decided to play 2250 points per person, Me (Empire) and Ben (Lizardmen) on one side, Frans (Skaven!) and Chaos Daemons (Sam) on the other.

The lists:

Good guys:

Empire:
Wizard Lord (lvl 4) w/ Grey Wand, Barded Warhorse
Wizard (lvl 2) w/ 2 Dispel Scroll
Wizard (lvl 2) w/ Rod of Power
Captain (BSB) w/ Imperial Banner, Full Plate Armor
10 Handgunners
10 Handgunners
31 Spearmen w/ Full Command
8 Knights w/ Full Command
25 Swordsmen w/ Full Command
Cannon
Cannon
Mortar
5 Pistoliers w/ Musician
Steam Tank
Helblaster Volley Gun

Went quasi-gunline here, mainly because we needed to have some range threat against these foes.

Lizardmen:
Slann (BSB) w/ Focus of Mystery, Focused Rumination, Becalming Cogitation, Cupped Hands of the Old Ones, Plaque of Dominion, 2 Dispel Scolls
Skink Priest (lvl 2) w/ Engine of the Gods, Dispel Scroll, Diadem of Power
Saurus Scar-Vet w/ Great Weapon, Light Armor, Charm of the Jaguar Warrior
Saurus Scar-Vet w/ Great Weapon, Light Armor, Horned One
12 Skink Skirmishers
12 Skink Skirmishers
12 Skink Skirmishers
15 Saurus Warriors w/ Spears, Musician, Standard
15 Saurus Warriors w/ Spears, Musician, Standard
3 Terradons
16 Temple Guard w/ musician, standard Bearer

You can find some information about Ben's thoughts on this list when he posts about it (soon after this goes up, I'm sure).

Team Evil:

Skaven:
Vermin Lord
Warlock Engineer (lvl 2) w/ Warp-Energy Condenser
Warlock Engineer (lvl 1) w/ 2 Dispel Scroll
Plague Priest (lvl 2) w/ Shadow Magnet, Plague Furnace
25 Clan Rats - with PWMortar Weapons Team
21 Slaves
21 Slaves
30 Plague Monks - Full Command - Banner of Under Empire
6 Jezzails
8 Censor Bearers
DoomWheel
Hell Pit Abomination

Frans finished painting that Vermin Lord the the night before the game, it looked really good! You'll also notice that the evil team had a nearly fully painted army compared to the Good Guys.

Daemons:
Lord of Change (lvl 2)- don't remember gifts (see below)
Herald of Tzeentch
Herald of Khorne on Juggernaut
Blue Scribes
Block of Bloodletters
Big (30 or so) block of Horrors
10 Pink Horrors
Beast of Nurgle
3 Bloodcrushers
Flesh Hounds ('Khorne Dogs')

Sam may have to correct my list, so I may be editing it as he reminds me of things. He took a Lord of Change + Blue Scribes which REALLY messed with our concerns with the game (I personally failed a Ld test), but he ran it as a level 2 with the goal of casting Flaming Sword of Rhuin on it, and sending it in. It actually went pretty well (and really threw me off guard- I loved it!)



On to the battle!


Our Deployment


Their Deployment


Turn 1:

The evil guys won the roll to go first. They started their movement phase by basically moving everything straight toward us, except the Vermin Lord and Lord of Change, who went to our right to work on crushing our flank.



Managed to stop most of their magic, allowing only Flaming Sword of Rhuin to go off on the Lord of Change (followed by 10 minutes of me laughing due to the awesomeness of the idea) and Howling Gale which hindered our movement and shooting some. Their shooting accounted for 3 Censor Bearers from the Doomwheel, and a single Spearmen from the Plaguewind Mortar.

We started our turn by sending the Steam Tank (with 5 steam points) into the Doomwheel, and Ben sent one of his Scar-Veterans charging into the Khorne Dogs. I send my cavalry around to start threatening the evil guys' right flank.




We managed to do a few thing with our magic phase: killed 4 slaves, 6 plague monks, 3 Censor Bearers, 2 wounds to the beast of nurgle, 1 wound to doomwheel. Nothing devastating, but certainly a few turns like that would help. Shooting, however, was another matter. I guess completely accurate with both my cannons, destroying the Plague Furnace, and the mortar drops right on top of a unit of slaves, killing 13, and having them run off the board. In combat, the Steam Tank drops the Doomwheel, whereas the Scar-Vet and Khorne Dogs fail to do anything to one another. So far, looking good for the good guys!

Turn 2:

Frans' Censor Bearers charge the Steam Tank, hoping to deal a wound or two to limit it's effectiveness. The Plague Beast charges a unit of skinks (who I believe flee), the Hellpit goes into another unit of skinks, the Juggernauts charge a unit of Saurus (and fail the charge because the mentioned Beast of Nurgle doesn't get out of their way), and the Lord of Change charges into the other Saurus unit. In combat a little earlier than we would've liked. Their only magic success was casting warp lightning on some handgunners, killing 5, and they managed to put a wound on a wizard with some jezzail fire.

In combat, the Censor Bearers don't do a wound (but will hold the Steam Tank in place for a turn, which isn't a bad thing for them), the Helpit beats the skinks and runs them down, the Lord of Change kills 4 Saurus, still manages to lose by 1, but doesn't take any wounds, and Karnak dies out of the Flesh hounds, but the rest of the unit is fine.



We began our turn by charging the unengaged Saurus unit into the Beast of Nurgle, hoping to overrun into the Juggernauts (saving us from being charged by them), and sending the Terradons over the blue scribes, dropping some rocks (and ending up killing it).



Our magic phase kills 9 slaves (who panic away and are never seen from again), and results in my first miscast, which allows the Vermin lord to 13th spell all over my Spearmen, killing 18. We then follow by doing almost no damage with shooting. Not exactly the strong second turn we needed.

In combat, the Steam Tank wipes out the 2 Censor Bearers facing it. The Saurus do a wound to the Plague Beast, who instabilities to death, and overrun into the Juggernauts. The Lord of Change kills 5 Saurus, who do a wound back, but still lose combat by 1 (but hold). Flesh hounds and the Scar-Vet continue to accomplish nothing.




Turn 3:

They charge their Furnace-less Plague Monks into the Slann/Temple Guard unit, and the Hellpit + Vermin Lord charge into the Saurus block that has been fighting the Lord of Change. Not looking good. Their magic starts to do some damage as well- the Vermin Lord casts Scorch right onto my swordsmen unit, killing 15. Their Jezzails then kill a Terradon, causing the unit to panic and die.

In combat, the Juggernauts receive a wound from the charging saurus... then deal 12 wounds in return, breaking the unit, and running them down (and causing my one wizard in the area to flee from their murderous charge... he doesn't return). The Flesh Hounds lose by one again, but hold, and the Temple Guard lose combat, but hold. The Saurus on our right (with the Lord of Change, Vermin Lord, and Helpit)? They don't make it either. Really just getting a lot of evil guys on our side of the board at this point.




We don't do a whole lot of movement on our turn. Ben hides the Engine of the Gods, I rearrange my infantry blocks some. I start the magic phase off by dealing 4 wounds to the Hellpit with a fireball, then proceed to miscast on my next spell, ending our magic phase (VERY poor timing, as the Lizardmen hadn't cast any spells, really hurting our chances). A cannon finishes the Hellpit off, and the Helblaster deals a wound to the Juggernauts breathing down our backfield. In combat, the scar-veteran finally dies to the flesh hounds, and the Temple Guard lose again, but hold.



Turn 4:

The Vermin Lord looks hungrily at the first cannon he sees, and charges it. The Lord of Change charges the nearest unit of handgunners, who also flee (right off the board). The Flesh Hounds charge my swordsmen. Bloodletters finally get into combat.. vs the Temple Guard. The Juggernauts turn around and make their way out of the forest they were stuck in. They do nothing during the magic phase, but do a wound to the Steam Tank through Jezzail fire.

In combat, the flesh hounds lose by three to the swordsmen, taking three more wounds, the Temple Guard lose as well, but again hold.

Time to counterattack! My Steam Tank runs head on into the Pink Horrors. My Knights attempt to follow... but fail their fear test. My Pistoliers attempt to charge the flank of the bloodletters... but also fail their fear test. L'sigh.

The Engine deals a wound to the Bloodcrushers in the magic phase, and the Slann conflagurates into the Plague Monks, killing 10 (and it turned out we did this VERY wrong... but it didn't matter in the end result). The Handgunners fire point blank into the Lord of Change, dealing three wounds, resulting in it's death. In combat, the Steam Tank gets 12 impact hits... and does 2 wounds. Stupid 4+ ward save. The Flesh Hounds lose combat by 4 and blow up, the Temple Guard finally get wiped out, but the Slann holds.



Turn 5:

The Juggernauts charge the knights, who flee way out of the way, and the Juggernauts happily head into the Steam Tank. The Steam Tank takes a wound during the magic phase, while my sole surviving handgunner unit is brought down to a single man. The Skaven Mortar kills 3 swordsmen during the shooting phase, and their Jezzails take 2 wounds off the Engine of the Gods.

In combat, the Slann take 3 wounds, and ends up losing combat by 6, but rolls double ones and holds! The Steam Tank takes 3 wounds as well.




My Knights rally, and face the Pink Horrors near them. My Spearmen charge into the small unit of Pink Horrors on our right, hoping to break through and claim a table quarter, the Engine charges into the flank of the Bloodletters, hoping to save the Slann.

The Engine deals 3 wounds to the Bloodletters during the magic phase, and Cleansing Flare from my Wizard Lord sends the Jezzails packing. The Helblaster fires at the only target it can see, the Vermin Lord, rolls 18 shots, and deals 3 wounds to it.

Combat doesn't go enough in our favor, sadly- the spearmen win their combat by one, but no more horrors die. The Steam Tank kills a juggernaut, but takes two more wounds in return. The Slann dies in the combat, and the Engine wins by two vs the Bloodletters, but they don't take enough wounds to matter.



Turn 6:

The Vermin Lord charges into the Helblaster, and the plague monks charge a cannon. They wipe out the last of my swordsmen unit (including the BSB) with their magic phase, and continue to pound on us in combat. The Steam Tank doesn't take any wounds, thankfully, although the Engine dies, sealing our entire left closest quarter. The Spearmen once again beat the horrors, causing two more of them to die through instability. My Cannon and Helblaster are destroyed.

Our final turn, we accomplish nothing with magic, but kill the Vermin Lord with skink shooting. I do succeed in blowing up the horrors in the final combat, as well as dropping the khorne herald with the Steam Tank, but the outcome is already clear....

Outcome!

Well, we lost pretty handily. I don't think it was quite a massacre (as we definitely killed quite a bit of our opponent's forces), but it certainly wasn't a draw. There was almost no lizardmen left on the table (a unit of skinks), and aside from my untouched knights unit and badly mangled steam tank, there's not many Empire miniatures on the board either. If I had waited for Ben to do his magic phase before I miscast the one turn, it could have been a lot closer, but I'm not sure it would have been enough to change the outcome.

It was, however, a fantastic and fun game, and it was great seeing the balance of the game shift from us to our opponents as the game wore on (they were none too happy after our first turn, but were significantly more excited later on). A well fought loss is always worthy of a rematch though!