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Monday, 23 December 2013

Catching up

So, it's been a while since I last posted. Largely because I haven't really had much to contribute, but partly because I've just been a bit busy recently.

Anyway, as a bit of a catch-up this is what I've been up to recently at the club.

The Judge Dredd campaign continues. I had a couple of games against Dan and his two robot forces. The first one was a complete whitewash that lead to my ape gang dropping out of the campaign due to the number of fatalities and serious injuries they picked up facing off against Dan's more experienced force. The second was much more enjoyable, I took a brand new Justice Department force against Dan's less experienced robots. This was a much closer fight which I eventually won due to heat seeker ammunition ignoring cover.

I also managed to get in a few games of Ogre, the new "designer's edition" that I backed on Kickstarter. Great game, easy to play but very tactical and a lot of fun. Thoroughly recommended, if you can find it anywhere.

Last week I got in a game of Star Trek Attack Wing, the Wizkids game that uses the same rules as Star Wars X-Wing (but with cloaking devices). Turns out Romulans can be really annoying to try to draw a bead on, and that teaming up Kirk and Picard in their respective Enterprises is really quite effective.

Tonight I continued trying to get new players interested in Dreadball. First off, I refereed a game between Mike and Dale, neither of whom had played before. Mike has his own team, the Asgard Valkyries, playing in the colours of his beloved Minesota Vikings. Dale borrowed my teratons and proceded to pummel Mike into the floor, then lose by a landslide. The moral of this story: while you don't have to always play the ball, it helps if you don't ignore it completely.

After Mike left, I took over for the second game. I wanted to try out my new Zee team (I finished painting them in the early hours of this morning) while Dale kept the Teratons. This was much closer. Dale kept pounding on me but couldn't advance the ball. In the end, he won by a singke point as I failed a last minute attempt to even the score.

Lessons learned:
1: Zees are incompetent on a level I hadn't truly appreciated, but a lot of fun.
2: The "Monkey Business" special rule gives you a random number of free coaching dice each turn. This is great unless you're me and manage to roll 0 dice for 5 consecutive turns.
3: Teratons really are a bad match-up for a Zee coach.

Net result though, Dale's now talking about getting his own Teraton team. Looks like we'll have 8 players for the league we're starting in the new year.

Ultimate DreadBall next week!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Mantic Open Day - Dreadball Tournament Report

Yesterday was Mantic's second open day this year, I went to the last one for the Dreadball tournament where I had a less than stellar result playing as Orx. This time, I had the new season 3 teams to pick from and went for the one team that's capable of playing even more aggro than the greenskins, Teratons. This gave me a team of teleporting tortoises where even the jacks are as good at slamming the opposition as an Orx guard, so my natural tendencies to win by just pummelling the opposition into the ground should be well-suited to the tools at my disposal.

I only managed a couple of practice games with the team before the event and only finished painting them the night before, no I wasn't exactly confident about winning my matches. However I went into this with one goal, whether I won or lost my matches I really wanted to be able to win the award for most violent coach.

Matt, from PWC, and I set out bright and early. Matt was about as well prepared for this as I was, also having only finished painting his team the night before. However in his case he had a good reason, he's only been playing the game for a month so this would be a bit of a baptism by fire. We got to Nottinghamjust before the doors opened to the same disused NHS surgery as last time, that Mantic are apparently looking to turn into a permanent games centre. They're going to have to sort out the lighting before then though.
Slightly worrying, the lighting at the venue owed a lot to duct tape and hope.
My first game was against Adam, another Teraton player so this should be interesting. I was playing the home team, which allowed me to get a good start on the inevitable fight that kicked off by killing one of his guards with the first dice roll of the game. We had a very close game, but at the end of 14 turns I was ahead by 3 points and claimed the win. Unfortunately, that first kill was the only one I got so I was hoping for someone squishier for my second game.

Between games I checked out the Kings of War tournament that was taking place in the main hall. Some great looking armies, and unlike some companies I could name Mantic weren't worried about players using models from other manufacturers although the "best painted" prize could only go to an army of Mantic models.
I have no idea what this thing is, but it looks cool.
My second game was against Chris, playing Orx so there goes that hope. This game was truly incredible, two teams who started out only paying token attention to the ball, then proving to be incapable of doing anything with it when they tried. We reached the end of turn 14 with the game scoreless and went into sudden-death overtime. I managed to miss what should have been an easy 1-point strike to win the game, then Chris's goblins got the ball, ran down the pitch and managed the same thing. Eventually I managed to score a point in turn 8 of overtime to claim the win, but this was a truly epic game against a great opponent who really took our combined incompetence in his stride.

Dreadball convict team
We had a break between games 2 and 3 to allow us to attend one of the seminars that Ronnie was hosting, which was a nice touch as we hadn't had a chance at the last event. The seminar was just a Q&A session with Ronnie and Jake Thornton about the future of Dreadball, Dead Zone and Mantic games in general and was informative and amusing in equal measure. I may be reading to much into things, but at times the 2 of them didn't seem to be on quite the same page as Ronnie was making pronouncements from the corporate point of view that didn't seem to sit with Jake's game-designer point of view, so it'll be interesting to see how various predictions shake out.

Dreadball Brokkrs
Highlights included - Dreadball annuals, Dreadball Extreme (saw some sculpts for a couple of teams for this, looks good), Warpath getting a 3rd edition (still free-to-play beta) that will be more in line with how Kings of War plays and Jake's throwaway comment about the next Deadzone scenery pack coming with added skulls and eagles in an obvious dig at another Nottingham-based games manufacturer. This last one got a huge round of applause, not least from the guys from Beasts of War who were filming the seminar (and whose contribution to the discussion was amusing, predictable given their recent history and largely unrepeatable).

Back to the tournament and game 3 saw me up against an Asterian team, unfortunately I have forgotten the name of their coach which is a shame because he really deserves a mention. This could have gone really badly for me, as Asterians were more than capable of running rings round me. They're also capable of getting my players sent off too, and 2 of my guards wound up watching from the sidelines as a result. I tried to get into a position to score, but the Asterians kept stealing the ball from me no matter what I tried. A well timed "The Ball Shatters" card stopped them from scoring a 4-pointer, and allowed me time to get back to plan A. Six fatalities later, we went into overtime scoreless and with only one Asterian player left on the pitch. Once I pounded him into the dirt, I won the game by default. Another great game against an opponent who really kept his sense of humour throughout the battering I dealt out.

Between games 3 and 4 I took the opportunity to pick up my Dead Zone kickstarter rewards, so I've got that to look forward to playing sometime soon. I have too many games on my "must play" list again, an unfortunately all-too-common occurrence.
The Dead Zone rewards waiting to be collected.
Not ALL of these were mine.
Game 4 saw me up against Luke and his Zzor, another hard-hitting team with 4 guards. Luke really made the most of his "sticky" guards, using them to keep my players on the floor once he had them down. Once again we managed a game with no scores, despite our best efforts, and went into overtime. This time my opponent had 5 players on the pitch, but only one of them was striker capable of moving the ball so I committed my only foul of the tournament and stomped on him while he was down. With Luke now unable to score, I won this one by default as well.

End result: 4 wins out of 4 games. Much, much better than I've ever managed before. Since none of my wins were landslides, and because all my tie-breakers sucked because of all the overtime wins, I would up in 6th place overall which I was more than satisfied with. More importantly, 10 kills over the course of the event saw me take home that coveted title of "Most Violent Coach". Mission accomplished, and proof that playing the ball can be regarded as optional in Dreadball. :-)

Overall I had a great day, played against some great opponents (I still have yet to play a game of Dreadball that I haven't enjoyed, win or lose) and had a lot of fun. In fact the only negative point on the whole day was getting home and finding out that, once again, Mantic have managed to screw up my Kickstarter rewards. Hopefully that gets sorted out quicker than the mess they've made of my Kings of War and Dreadball rewards, and I refuse to let that take away from my enjoyment of the day.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

One Night in Mega City One - Judge Dredd Campaign Day

Today was the third tournament I've attended at Mongoose for their Judge Dredd miniatures game, for that matter it was only the third that they've run (I intend to keep up my perfect attendance record if at all possible).

All 3 events have run with different rules, and I have to admit that I'm not 100% sure that this one works as a tournament format. Basically it was a competitive campaign, we played using all the rules from the basic campaign from the rulebook which meant tracking experience points, hero levels, injuries and income and all the other faff that comes with the campaign rules. At the end of the event, the force with the highest total value is the winner regardless of the number of individual games won.

Don't get me wrong, I love the JDMG campaign rules (after all, I'm running a campaign at the moment that shows no sign of stopping any time soon). But it's all a bit much in a time-limited format like a tournament. Plus things can all get a bit unbalanced and silly if you're not careful (which we weren't). That's not to say I didn't have fun today (I did, a lot of it), but I think the other events Mongoose have run worked better.

Anyway, enough of that. Back to the report.

I arrived at the event this morning with 2 force lists and all the models for both, still completely as to which I was using. One coin-flip later (literally) I had my answer, a Zombie Horde consisting of one zombie mistress with long rifle (to keep the enemy at a safe distance) plus 21 reanimated cadavers. This was compared to the other forces that had between 3 to 7 models each, so it was always going to be an interesting choice. I knew this was an option that may or may not work, either I'd be able to buy so many zombies that I could swarm anyone, or the other forces heroes would increase in level so far that I wouldn't be able to touch them. Time would tell...

We had a total of 6 players turn up, possibly due to the fact that Mongoose only started advertising the event 3 weeks ago. With 7 rounds in the event some duplicate match-ups were guaranteed, but Matt assured us he'd keep it to a minimum.

Round 1 was against Trish and her Ape Gang, playing the Scrawl War scenario (zombies spray-painting downtown buildings, whatever next?). She had 2 orang-utan snipers, a couple of chimps and a couple of gorillas - one with club and one with a double-barelled stump gun (the perfect zombie-shredding gun). I wasn't sure how this would go, but I worried less after my zombie mistress fatally out-sniped one of the orang-utans (Trish's gang leader) with the first dice-roll of the game. Trish had some terrible dice luck and didn't manage to take out any of my zombies as they swarmed over her apes. An easy win in the end, and enough credits earned to add 10 more zombies to my force.

One of Trish's gorillas, just before he tried to flee the zombies.
He failed.
Game 2 was against Richard, playing as Mega City One Judges. This was the Demolition scenario, and I was attacking which meant that my zombies had to attach explosive charges to a target vehicle in the centre of the board while Rich's judges tried to stop them. Rich gave a good accounting of himself, the judges' high-ex ammunition proving to be predictably excellent for taking down zombies. In the end though, I had too many models for him to stop and the target was history. This time I'd taken a lot of casualties that needed replacement, net result was that I still ended the game with 4 more zombies than I started with.
The zombies swarm towards the objective as Rich's riot judge tries to stop them.
Game 3 was against Carl's Sov Judges and was the Demolition scenario again. This time the terrain was much more open and Carl did a lot of damage to my zombies before they once again swarmed over the objective and destroyed it. The zombie mistress sniped out another model but that was the only casualty I caused this game. Another win, but casualties taken meant that I had a net gain of 7 zombies, taking my total to 42. My force was winning games, but expanding too slowly compared to the way some of the others were advancing.
Carl's Sov Judges lay down covering fire on the objective... the zombies advance.

Brit-Cit's finest fail to hold the line.

Game 4, after lunch, was against Andrew's Brit-Cit judges. Three judge players, all using forces from different cities. This was a straightforward Street Rumble, last man standing wins, and was back on the same table as my first game against Trish with all that lovely cover to shield my advance. The judges dropped a handful of zombies as they shambled forwards, then got dragged under by superior numbers. Slightly more successful, I added 10 more zombies to the force overall.

In game 5 I found myself facing Rich's judges again, this time in a Heist scenario that required me to stop them from fleeing the table with a number of recovered artifacts. Rich's force had expanded since out first game, and got a lot more dangerous. They were able to shrug off most of my attacks as the majority were able to flee the table with the loot. My first game loss, but I did earn a lot of credits and expanded my force by another 8 zombies, plus I picked up a Pyrokinetic mutant who'd fought for me as a mercenary this game and added her to the force as a loyal follower.

Game 6, I was facing off against Andy's Citi-Def. This was another Street Rumble, against a force with a missile launcher and lots of spit guns and back on the wide-open scenery. Familiar situation  for me by now, lots of early game casualties before dragging down the enemy under weight of numbers. Another 12 zombies added overall this game, taking my total to 72.

The final game, I was back against Carl's Sov Judges, on the table where he'd caused so many casualties the first time out. It was another Demolition, but this time I was defending and Carl's troops had the explosive charges. But Carl had no interest in going for the objective, he was contesting the lead of the event and just wanted to pick up lots of experience and boost his heroes as much as possible. He spent the game retreating from my zombies, firing as he went, in a very tactical display that worked perfectly for him. We ran out of time just as I managed to corner him. Technically I won the scenario, since Carl never even approached the objective, but he did pick up loads of experience.

In the end, I won 6 out of my 7 games but my final force rating was only high enough to secure 4th place overall. Carl won, thanks to the experience he picked up from our final game.

7 highly enjoyable games, against some great opponents, but I can't help feeling that this way of running an event leads to some odd situations where losing a game can be much more beneficial than winning. If the next event runs the same way, I'll have to alter my way of thinking.

On a final note, I wound up with 78 zombies in my force after 7 games (plus my 2 heroes). This led Matt to comment that the zombies need some kind of "big option" for a bit more choice. A zombie T-Rex (from the Cursed Earth) was suggested, so there's that to look forward to. :-)

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Judge Dredd - Kind of a Reboot

Tonight marked our first campaign games using the new edition of the Judge Dredd miniatures game. We'd made the decision to continue running our existing forces from the original campaign, which has given rise to a few inconsistencies (robodogs now have completely different stats, some mercenaries aren't even an option any more) but nothing we couldn't figure out.

In preparation for this, I painted up a few new models for the Judgement League. This was to take advantage of the fact that it's now possible for me to actually spend some of the credits my force has been accumulating so far, and takes the full force up to 8 models with a scarily high total value.

L-R : Outlaw, Captain Metropolis, Wreckage and Bluestreak.
The new additions to the Judgement League.
As it happens, I'm also running an Ape gang in the campaign. These are a newer force with less experience, specifically so that I have something to fight opponents with smaller forces. We have a new player, Dale, with a zombie force that's only played a couple of games so this seemed like a good idea. So guess which force I wound up using tonight? Put it this way, the new models didn't see the tabletop.

My first game was against Dan, who's been using robots since the start of the campaign but has just started a new force (robots again) so that he can rebuild using the new game rules from the start. This was a fun game, although I had the lion's share of the luck this time out. High point of the game was when Doris, one of my gorillas, blasted Dan's mercenary executioner droid out of the sky with a double-barreled stump gun then laid out his demolition droid two seconds later. In the end, Dan's one remaining droid ran away while I only lost a single chimp.

The new game rules worked really well. I've found myself taking a completely different route with regard to talents as the force advances, which I guess shows that the changes have added some viable new options.

Second game was against Adrian's cursed earth desperadoes, another new force and one that he's really gone to town on with some of the conversions (although I suspect he may tire of me referring to one of his lovingly converted mutants as "fish boy"). This was considerably closer than the first game. Ady's Klegg mercenary took out one of my gorillas before I could return the favour and his robodogs swarmed another. In the end though, the fact that my apes were higher level with better stats meant that I made the most of the long range gunfight and got another victory under my belt.

Incidentally, the other game going on was Chief Judge Cal (under the control of Andy) vs Dale's zombie horde. Since Dale was so badly outnumbered we allowed him to take zombies as mercenaries (not normally allowed) and so he was fielding a total of 86 zombies plus a few other, random models. He still lost, and there were many, many casualties. But the game scaled up to that size of battle really easily, which speaks volumes in and of itself.

So yeah, new rules are a big improvement over the previous version (which I was already a huge fan of). Looking forward to next month's campaign games, maybe next time I can unleash the League.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Dead's Army

We have a bit of a tradition of impromptu Halloween themed games at the club, and tonight's affair was my bright idea - an undead invasion of Walmington-on-Sea lead by an SS necromancer and ably defended by the stalwart troops of the Home Guard. Homebrew rules, best described as a hybrid mix of Bolt Action, Judge Dredd and Lord of the Rings and are available here if anybody's interested.
The village of Walminton-on-Sea, complete with phone box on the village
green. The Home Guard are on patrol.
We had a lot of fun with this one, The German players had to strike a balance between skulking in the cemetery and raising more zombies or striking out with those they already had in order to keep them under control. The Home Guard had to try to shoot enough zombies before they got into a position to charge and start dragging them down in close combat.
Nazi troops use the zombies as cover as they advance over the bridge into the village.
The Home Guard have formed a firing line in the distance.
The game began with Private Walker, returning from one of his entrepreneurial ventures, raising the alarm by telephone before being gunned down by the SS troops accompanying Leichnamsturmbannfuhrer Skorzeny. As the zombies shambled towards the village the Home Guard initially had things all their own way, gunning down the undead before they could get close. However once Skorzeny left the graveyard (following a much-too-near miss from a lucky rifle shot) and began to direct them personally, things got a little more dangerous. 
The zombies swarm over Captain Mainwaring's section, the good captain
having already hopped it over the hedge.
Before long, Skorzeny was raising the dead bodies of the Home Guard themselves and setting them on their erstwhile allies. The zombie-Godfrey was particularly amusing, as were some of the comments when Private Pike lost his nerve and fled.
"Mister Mainwairing! Mister Mainwairing! Uncle Arthur's had his face ripped off!"
 - Pike flees across the village green.
In the end, we ran out of time to complete the game and had to call it a draw. The Germans definitely had the upper hand, but Corporal Jones's section (with a Lewis gun) was still largely intact as was the Vickers gun in the window of the General Store. It could still have gone in favour of the Home Guard, but at a terrible cost (Mainwairing, Wilson, Godfrey and Mr. Hodges had all perished).
The SS open fire on Mr. Hodges and his section. Most of the Home Guard decided
discretion was the better part of valour at this point.
In the end, a very enjoyable game that worked surprisingly well (given that I only came up with the idea last week and we'd had no playtesting). Everyone seemed to have fun, and there's talk of a rematch, or even taking this to Hammerhead or similar in future. Big thanks to Mike for providing the Home Guard, he has his own battle report and more photos up on his blog, and also to everyone who took part for making it so much fun.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

You have got to be kidding me!

I've been at Derby today, playing in the Bolt Action tournament. More on that tomorrow (there's more games to play before it's over), but when I got home I checked out the new Warhammer Dark Elf releases. I have one thing I need to get off my chest.

£35 for 10 plastic Witch Elves? What the hell are they smoking? Who do they think would actually pay that? And I don't even like the posing on the minis (not a fan of including themed scenery on bases as standard).

Even as I write this, I know that plenty of people will actually pay that. And because of that there's a good chance this is going to become the new price for new plastic minis.

Oh well, plenty of alternatives out there to GW.

Anyway, rant over. My next post will be more cheerful.

p.s. Someone should point out to GW that their one-click collection of Witch Elves is actually £9 more expensive than buying the boxes separately. Unless that's the point of course.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Judge Dredd Miniatures - Tournament Report

A couple of weeks ago we ran our first Judge Dredd tournament at the club, and when I say "we" I actually mean "I" since this was my project and my first time ever organising a tournament like this.

This was to be a combination tournament/campaign day, a mini tournament in the morning leading to a big multi-player game in the afternoon that would be directly influenced by the results of the tournament. Somewhat rashly I offered to provide all the additional miniatures required for the big game. This would include a horde of zombies, the Dark Judges themselves and the leading defenders of Mega City One (Dredd, Anderson et al). I later came to regret this promise.

In anticipation of my usual level of organisational skill I booked the week before the tournament off from work, so that I would have the time needed to paint up all the miniatures I had failed to paint in the run-up. With one thing and another this turned out to be most of them, but in the space of a week I managed to paint the following:

84 Zombies (only half of what I'd bought but more than enough for the game)
One Zombie mistress, plus a repaint on an old vampire model to serve the same purpose
One zombie Judge
All 4 Dark Judges and their spirit forms
Judges Anderson, Giant, DeMarco and Dekker
One Judge in holocaust armour
One rookie Judge
Mean Machine Angel

Not a bad little haul really.

When it came to the Dark Judges I had a minor crisis, I'd been waiting for the models from Mongoose to arrive. I'd got these as part of my rewards for supporting their Kickstarter and when I'd first planned to run the event it seemed certain that they'd arrive in plenty of time. Now the day drew closer and there were delays after delays until it seemed like they were finally going to arrive just a few days after the event. So at the last minute I mail ordered a set of the miniatures from Wargames Foundry, they're nice but they never did one for Judge Fear and they didn't do the spirit forms (although I had an idea for an alternative paint job which meant I bought 2 sets). On the Tuesday before the event, both sets of Dark Judges fell through the letterbox in the same post. I went with the Mongoose miniatures in the end, but I guess it shows I was panicking for nothing.

The Dark Judges - we have arrived (in the nick of time)
Anyway, on to the day of the event. We had allowed for up to 14 players based on the level of interest expressed at other events and I got there early to set the hall up accordingly. In the end we only got half that number, mostly club members who were regulars in our campaign, and I wound up playing in order to even up the numbers. With 8 players split into 2 factions it meant that everybody would wind up playing each player from the opposing faction and I was able to ensure that nobody played more than one game on any one table.

With a hastily cobbled together force of Renegade Robots (we figured they'd get on well with Judge Death, both groups want the "fleshy ones" dead) my first game was against Arfon. He'd come down as a guest of Adrian's, one of our regulars, and this was going to be his first ever game of JDMG. So my robots lined up against his borrowed force of Judges, with their mission being to eliminate the highest ranking Judge. Long story short, I failed. I'd love to blame beginner's luck, or bad dice rolls, but the fact of the matter is I made mistakes and just got outplayed by the rookie. However the other Justice Department players all lost their games, which left Arfon in the lead in the tournament and things looking grim for Mega City One.

Game 2 was against Rich and his very colourful Citi-Def, who had travelled up from Welwyn Garden City for the event. This was the Raid scenario, Rich had one model deployed on my side of the table and I had to stop him escaping. Which my combat droid did with style, right at the last minute, with a sniper round to the back of the head. So I had a win, and the bigger picture wasn't looking too good for the Judges as once again only Arfon had managed a win this round.
Rich's Citi-Def - photo stolen from the Mongoose forums
Game 3 was against Andy Miller, one of my regular opponents using Cheif Judge Cal's Personal retinue. I was up against a brainwashed Street Judge, a Klegg and the big man Cal himself. This was the Heist scenario, with Cal and his retinue trying to escape a building in the centre of the table with my robots trying to stop them. My combat droid provided covering fire while my robodogs ran into the building to flush out the defenders. It all degenerated into one big melee in the building and at the end, only the Klegg was left standing. He threw himself out of the window in an attempt to get away from my combat droid and succeeded too, fleeing the table with my droid in hot pursuit.

Game 4 was against another regular club opponent, Mike Whitaker and his Judges on a Lawmaster. You can read his account of the day here. We both took early casualties and the game degenerated into his Judge and my combat droid facing each other and trying to blast east other, suffice it to say that bike-cannon beat sniper rifle in this case.

So one win from 4 games, which left me firmly at the bottom of the table for the bad guys while Adrian went undefeated and finished the day with a perfect score. For the Justice Department Arfon had managed to hold onto the lead by the slimmest of margins (only 4 points separating 1st place from 3rd).

Me awarding Adrian with his trophy, photo courtesy of Mike.
Arfon winning a trophy, first time out.

And so we were onto the big game, a variant on the Zombie Apocalypse scenario. The bad guys each had access to a Zombie Horde force in addition to their regular tournament force, while the defenders got additional reinforcements. Both sides had access to some of the major personalities from Mega City One. The Dark Judges had Judges Death, Fear and Fire, while I had to make do with Mean Machine (a much lower level character as befitted my performance on the day, but also one of my favourite characters from the comic). The Justice Department had Judges Dredd, Anderson and Giant, while Arfon availed himself of the Judge in holocaust armour.

Mega City One in all its glory
We had a 16' table set up, representing the edge of Mega City One leading into the ruins left following the Apocalypse War. I would up facing off against Rich on one flank, supported by Judge Giant and Arfon's Mechanismo Droid. Mean Machine and the robodogs lead the charge, with Mean going up to 4 after he took a couple of hits and pulverizing one of the Citi-Def. He then went on a bit of a rampage, headbutting Judge Giant into the middle of next prog before trying the same on Dredd and coming up a bit short.

Mean Machine leads the charge across the wasteland
while Judge Fear watches on
Meanwhile Judge Cal managed to successfully arrest Judge Fear - he can arrest judges, Fear is a Judge, we actually ran this one past Matt from Mongoose and he didn't see a problem, but I happen to know that this has been reworded in the new edition of the rulebook so we may be the only ones to ever get to see this particular loophole in action. Judge Fire was eliminated by Judge Anderson, with assistance from a healthy dose of bike cannon fire. The holocaust judge was swarmed by zombies and brought down. Things were just shaping up for a showdown between Anderson and Death when we had to end the game due to time constraints. In the end, we ruled it a narrow win for the forces of darkness, but everyone agreed it would have been good to see how it turned out.

On the whole, I'm very pleasantly surprised with how smoothly everything ran. Everyone had fun, every game seemed to be enjoyable and I think it's agreed that we're going to do this again. Though I may try to be a bit more orgainsed for the next one.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Operation Overlord - Bolt Action Tournament Report

August 31st saw the Phoenix Wargames Club in Rushden put on their second Bolt Action tournament this year, entitled Operation Overlord. Although I've been playing Bolt Action since the game first came out, I hadn't ventured near any kind of competative gaming. I think I'd been largely put off the tournament scene by my experiences with competative Warhammer but going along to a few other smaller tournaments, most recently the Judge Dredd events organised by Mongoose, convinced me that not all competative wargamers are complete dicks and I decided to give it a go.

I hadn't used my Russians for a while and due to other commitments the only practice game I was able to get in was a blue-on-blue (red-on-red?) battle against Chris's Russians at the club. That game had started out even enough but turned into a rout in my favour, I'm not sure how much I learned tactically but at least I'd brushed up on the rules.

So, onto the event itself. We'd be playing 3 games using custom scenarios and a different victory point system which awarded points based on the type of unit rather than their value. This meant, among other things, that I wouldn't just be able to throw my free unit of inexperienced infantry/cannon fodder into the fight like I normally do, as they were worth exactly the same as my veteran squad. That could make things interesting.

My first game was against an opponent whose name I have regrettably forgotten (common problem for me) who was using fallschirmjager. Lots of veteran infantry, a Puma recce vehicle and a big anti-tank gun which had me worried for my T-34. The scenario was a pitched battle with a twist, we each had to nominate an enemy unit that would be worth double victory points if destroyed. I picked the smallest of his 3 unit of veteran infantry, he picked my free unit of conscripts so I really couldn't throw them away now.

In the end I needn't have worried. The Puma turned out to be fairly annoying, in the way only recce vehicles can be (stand still and let me kill you, damn it), until I eventually opted to ignore it and concentrate on the rest of the army. I think I got more than my share of luck in this game as everything I set out to do worked almost perfectly. Even my veteran squad fubar'ing and fleeing at exactly the wrong moment was only a blip. When the dust settled all I'd lost was my mortar (to the Puma, after it stopped hiding) while my opponent had lost everything except the Puma and his medic. Final score 20-1 in my favour. But more to the point, a thoroughly enjoyable game against an opponent who took everything in his stride, even when it was all hitting the fan.

Incidentally, my conscripts took a total of 4 casualties, 2 of them inflicted by my own commissar. Nichevo.

Game 2 was against Pete Melvin, one of the event's organisers who was fielding more fallschirmjager. This time there were a couple of flak units on his side of the table, which was a concern as I was using an air force forward observer who'd so far had things all his own way. During setup we each exercised the option to hold a couple of units in reserve, in my case the T-34 and my squad of SMG-armed infantry (if they could outflank the enemy it would get nasty) and in his case 2 squads of veteran infantry. Setup was interesting, as we both chose a refused-flank option. My left flank had my conscripts and commissar facing off against a lone veteran infantry squad, while the rest of our armies were concentrated on the right. Turn 1 saw my veteran infantry take a big hit from a heavy mortar that wiped out two-thirds of the squad, while my AT gun blew up his armoured car (one of the flak units) with its first shot.

On turn two all of our reserves came on. My SMG troops had failed to outflank (different rules to normal for this scenario) and turned up on my own baseline so all I'd effectively done was waste 2 turns of movement, but my T-34 turned up on the right flank and was able to throw some more firepower into what was already looking a little one-sided. Both of Pete's units turned up on my left flank, which left the conscripts doomed but meant that those three veteran infantry squads would take little part in the rest of the battle while I mopped up on the right. Final score 15-5 in my favour, another major victory.

All of this meant that going into the final game I was the highest placed Allied player at the event. Which was mildly unnerving and meant that I had everything to lose in the final game, where we only had 750 points to use. This meant that I would be losing my commissar (not a huge problem, the guy was a bit of a liability) and my T-34 (big problem, it'd had a big influence on the first 2 games), and also playing against the guy who was top of the table for the Axis players.

This turned out to be Brian McGonagle, who was also using fallschirmjager (sensing a pattern here guys). I had the better set-up, with most of my army in cover while Brian's was largely in the open. Then I started rolling dice and it all went down the toilet. I lost my SMGs to a failed morale check (needing 8 or less on 2D6, with a re-roll) then lost my veteran squad exactly the same way. My airstrike didn't turn up until turn 4 by which point Brian had isolated the target unit to minimise the impact, the NCO of the target squad was the sole survivor, passed his morale check and spent three turns taunting my sniper who completely failed to kill him netting me no victory points. I had a couple of chances to pull things back but they didn't materialise and by the end of the game it was a minor win to Brian.

When all the other results were in I finished up in third place for the Allies, which was definitely more than I was expecting going into the event but still a little disappointing given the way things had worked out. Still I had three thoroughly enjoyable games against some excellent opponents, and now I'm off to warlord's first official Bolt Action tournament at Derby next weekend.

Incidentally I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the success of the other club members who were at the event. Ryan scored third place among the Axis players with his Japanese, and Tony took the best-painted army award for the Axis (with Ryan in second place). So a good day all round, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

p.s. I didn't take any photos at this event, but you can see Pete's here. Mine are the very basic looking Russians about halfway down. Brian's account of our battle is on the Warlord forums here.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

What I Did On My Summer Holidays...

It's been a LONG time since I updated this blog, which is really quite inexcusable even with how much I've had to do from both a gaming and real life viewpoint. However, I seem to have a relatively quiet week ahead of me so I guess I've got time to touch on some of the highlights from the last few months.

Star Wars - The Card Game

July saw me heading down to Exeter for the regional championship for the Star Wars LCG. I'm a huge fan of the game but as with anything CCG/LCG related I really struggle to find opponents locally for either casual gaming or tournaments so I decided to combine catching up with family (my brother lives in Exeter, as does my 18 month old nephew) with another crack at a regional championship (I came 2nd in the event held in Sheffield on May 4th).

The tournament consisted of 4 rounds of swiss, in which I managed to win all 4 (a couple by tiebreaker and a couple by luck) which meant I finished in 2nd place at this stage. We then went to a top 4 knockout stage. My opponent in the semi-final turned out to be the guy I'd just beat in the final round of swiss and our rematch went much the same way which put me into the final. At which point my Sith deck decided it had had enough and didn't want to play any more - I saw none of the cards I needed and was beaten in fairly short order. I managed to win the second game with my Jedi deck (each round consists of 2 games, light side vs dark) but my opponent got the tiebreaker and the win. Second place again. Still, I'm starting to believe I may actually know what I'm doing with this game.

I can thoroughly recommend Clifton Road Games in Exeter, where the tournament was held. Great shop with a wide range and a huge gaming hall out back, the staff and regulars were all very welcoming and I wound up hanging around after the tournament to play Mansions of madness until past midnight. Great start to a holiday.

Judge Dredd Miniatures - Heroes of Mega City One

This was the second ever JDMG tournament held at Mongoose HQ in Swindon, I went to the first one as well and had a blast despite finishing somewhere mid-table. This one was a slightly different format, you had the option to field higher level heroes this time round (up to level 5) which opened up some options, or you could field mobs of minions. This made it hard to predict which way the meta would go and I had to hedge my bets a little, I wound up settling on a squad of 3 Judges, all boosted to level 5 and with a range of talents to take on heroes or mobs as necessary.

Adrian from PWC and I left Peterborough at silly-o-clock in the morning, making it to Swindon just in time for the start. I'll admit that I've not retained a great deal of detail from this event. I remember a battle against a robot force, all armed with sniper rifles and lined up against the back of their deployment zone an a massive table with a nice killing field in front of them; I lost that one. I wound up playing against Ady's renegade robots (naturally, you always wind up playing against the chauffeur) and won that one largely due to the fact that I knew exactly what he was going to be taking and had tweaked my force to take it into account. Otherwise I had a number of games against other Justice Department forces, all of which had more models than me but were lower level so I was able to take them apart bit-by-bit. When the dust settled, I'd wound up in 2nd place overall which was frankly astonishing. Looking forward to the next event Mongoose put on, there's no way I'll be missing it if I get any say in the matter.

Warhammer 40K - Club Campaign

I'll be brutally honest, this campaign has done more to send me into a general wargaming funk than anything else that's happened recently. I'm doing well (6 wins out of 6 games, some more by luck than judgement) and no disrespect meant to Dan (the campaign organiser) or any of my opponents but I'm really getting fed up of the mess that is the current 40K ruleset. Some of the new stuff they've put in there is great, some of it needed a lot more playtesting/rewriting before it was fit for release, and some of it is blatantly just there to sell new models (they're not even trying to hide it any more).

But what's really got my back up (and this may sound petty) is the new Space Marine codex, specifically the Centurions. Can somebody please explain to me what GW were thinking with these? Why bother with veteran company terminators when all the regular companies have access to these which are just better? Just retcon them into the background material and throw most of the existing stuff out at the same time. Plus they just look stupid. Prime example of rules being driven by the need to sell models (they're damned expensive as well). [/rant]

Anyway, the end result is that I've sworn off 40K for a bit. I've dropped out of the campaign, which thankfully is structured to allow people to do this with minimal problems, and won't be playing again for the foreseeable future. Which of course means that my Grey Knights have been put on the back burner indefinitely as well.

Judge Dredd Minatures - Club Campaign

This continues to bumble along, we're all having a lot of fun and eventually somebody's going to win it. In the meantime we all get to play some games and not take much of it too seriously. My Judgement League are now getting to a scarily high level without actually becoming all that competent in game, which makes things interesting to say the least. We haven't yet quite decided what to do about the imminent release of the new edition of the rules.

Bolt Action

I've been playing a lot of this recently, if anything it's taken over and filled the hole that 40K left behind. Great ruleset, much less fiddly than some other WWII rules I could mention and makes a lot more sense in game as well. It's a ruleset where you can just worry about tactics and let the rules pretty much take care of themselves, which is probably why I like it so much.

I went to my first BA tournament at Rushden a couple of weeks ago and will be posting a full tournament report in the next couple of days.

Judge Dredd - Necropolis 2 Tournament/Campaign Day

Somewhat scarily, this was the first time I have ever organised a tournament of any kind. Again, I'll be posting a full report soon but in short it all went surprisingly well. And while I didn't get all of the zombies painted in time, I did get more than enough done.

So anyway, that's what's been occupying my attention over the last few months. I'll try to keep this more up-to-date from now on.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Zombie Swarm!

I had one of those weekends where I just couldn't summon any enthusiasm for painting. However I really didn't want to let the time go by without achieving something hobby-related, so I decided the time had come to assemble the several boxes of zombies that I'd amassed for use at our Judge Dredd tournament/campaign day coming up in September. We're planning on fighting out a sequel to Necropolis so I knew we'd need quite a few, but I may have got a bit carried away...

That's 175 zombies, assembled and ready for painting. I've got models here from a number of different manufacturers in order to add a bit of variety.

  • The bulk of the models are from Studio Miniatures, a company I hadn't heard of before I saw these at Salute. Excellent sculpts with virtually no preparation work required, it really was just a case of cutting them off the sprues and sticking them together which was a piece of cake. If I have any criticism, it's that there isn't really enough variety. There are only 4 different bodies, with the legs attached, so it's down to the heads and arms to provide variety. I think they'll look varied enough once they're painted.
  • There's also a box of Wargames Factory zombies, which were a real disappointment in comparison. The figures are fine, but they had some terrible mould-lines and needed a lot of clean up. On top of this, the integral bases are too small to be stable and there are no separate bases included. Fortunately I was able to use the bases included with the Studio zombies, where the integral bases were big enough to be useful.
  • Wargames Factory also provided a sprue of zombie vixens, which I actually got for free at Gencon last year (free zombie cheerleaders with every Nazi platoon, you have to love this hobby just for sentences like that). Really nice figures, no prep work necessary but they were a git to assemble. The contact points between the arms and shoulders, and between the feet and the bases, were just a bit too small to be convenient. They do look great now they're done though.
  • Finally, there are the new zombies from Mongoose's Judge Dredd line (received via their Kickstarter project). These are based on Mantic's zombies, with some additional bits to make them fit into Mega City One (primarily heads and kneepads). On paper, you get enough to make 6 zombies, however with one more Mantic sprue (which I happened to have lying about) you can double this to 12. Plus a zombie Judge and a female necromancer/zombie mistress in metal. Nice models but because they're based on the Mantic miniatures they share the same faults, primarily not enough arms to provide enough variety so I had to use some of the spares from the Studio models.
The Zombie Mistress and deceased Judge from Mongoose.
So all told, a productive weekend, even if I didn't get any painting done. I'm going to have to make a start on this lot sooner rather than later though, and get them painted a bit quicker than my usual standard if I'm going to get them done in time.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Apocalypse Just Now - Battle report

Today was probably my final game of Warhammer 40K - Apocalypse using the current rules, given that there's a new edition being launched next month. Our club had hired the hall where we meet for all day rather than our usual Monday evening sessions, which allows us to play the kind of game we just don't normally have time for. In this case, a game of Apocalypse on a 6'x12' table with 5,000 points per side.

My opponent was Mark, who I've known and been playing 40K against since we were both teenagers (more than 20 years for those who are keeping track). We've played countless games against each other and recently I've been coming out on top, our last Apocalypse game was a bit of a whitewash in my favour. This time however I was using a combination of Daemons (only my second game with the new codex) and my corrupted Grey Knights (first game ever) while Mark was using his trusty Imperial Guard and Marines so this was going to be interesting.

I went into this with a cunning plan; start most of my daemons in reserve, make sure I take the second turn to give me a full turn with most of my army off-table where it can't be shot, use the careful planning stratagem and a healthy dose of instruments of chaos to deep strike everything on turn 1. Unfortunately that plan started to go wrong right from the start when I lost my Bloodthirster to a deep strike mishap, which took some of the teeth from my attack on one flank.
Commisar Yarrick leads the Imperial Guard against a large
force of Khornate daemons on the left flank. In the background,
Txeentch horrors lead the assault led by a Prince of Tzeentch.
On the other side of the table I started in a good position; my Grey Knight Terminators, led by the Grand Master and a Librarian, were holding 2 of the objectives, supported by the possessed Dreadknight and a Warhound Titan. The bulk of the Pink Horrors landed on this flank as well, contesting one of the remaining objectives in the centre of the table.
Terminators hold the objectives in the ruins as the Horrors lead the attack.
Those are the titan's feet at the top of the picture.
Back on the left flank, the Baneblade opened fire and obliterated an entire unit of Bloodletters in one round of shooting. Any hope of reinforcing the combat against Yarrick and his fearless retinue was gone, the Khornate daemon prince would have to stand alone.
The prince of Khorne surrounded by Yarrick's entourage. This combat
would continue until the end of the game.
All things considered, things could have gone better in the first couple of turns but they could also have gone a lot worse. We were using the alternative scoring method from Apocalypse Reload rather than the "all or nothing" system from the main rules. At the end of turn 2, it was all tied at 5 victory points apiece. Then the rest of Marks reserves turned up. Pitching in several terminator squads and a dreadnought right where they were needed, Mark was able to turn the tide decisively against me. The left flank was lost, although the Tzeentchian daemon prince was able to destroy the Baneblade before he was incinerated in the resulting reactor meltdown and the Khornate prince was quite happy eviscerating guardsmen (though achieving nothing from a tactical point of view).

In the centre, the marine commander (and Mark's warlord for this game) finally turned up along with a pair of Chemdog tanks which wore down the daemons before the Warhound turned up, gunned down the surviving marines and trampled the marine commander underfoot. But in the meantime, a pair of Vendettas had managed to kill the Dreadknight, take the objective he was holding and shoot the Grey Knight Grand Master in the back. At this point my army was down to less than a dozen models (although admittedly one was a titan) and we'd hit our time limit. A convincing victory to the forces of the Imperium, but a thoroughly enjoyable game nonetheless.

Now I just need to get my mind out of Apocalypse and back into regular 40K mode, I've got a campaign game tomorrow, and I haven't even decided which army I'm fielding.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Battle Report - Judge Dredd Miniatures

Tonight was club night, specifically our Judge Dredd miniatures campaign. We've been playing this for a few months now, and it's getting to the point where some of the forces involved are getting a bit silly (in terms of their size relative to the others in the campaign). But due to the way the mercenaries system works you never wind up outnumbered by much (if at all).

I managed to get two games in tonight with my vigilante super-heroes, which is a disappointment compared to some of the early rounds where we were managing three or more games on each campaign night but still better than the others who struggled to get a single game completed. But given the size of the zombie horde Matt was fielding against Paul's beleaguered Citi-Def, that's not really surprising.

One of the tables we were using to represent Mega City One.
Unfortunately, not the one I was gaming on tonight.
Both games were against Adrian's renegade robots, a scary proposition at the best of times with his (frankly terrifying) demolition droid that can make a mess of any opponent in close combat. Add to that the fact that he's now equipped it with suction cups so that it can climb buildings, and you've got nowhere to hide.

Our first game was a bit odd, it was using the Scrawl War scenario from the Block War expansion book which requires each gang to scrawl their graffiti tags on various points across the scenery. When the game ends, whichever side has the most tags in place wins regardless of casualties taken. My heroes used their jetpacks to carry them easily to the targets and get their tags in place early, before opening fire and taking out some of the robot minions. Then Adrian's demolition droid got into play, along with his combat droid toting a missile launcher, and he really started to make a mess of me. I didn't last long, but because my tags were still in place I won on a technicality. Thankfully, none of the damage had any long lasting effects so we were ready to go again.
Adrian's renegade robots, before he started adding mercenaries
Adrian had used the credits earned from the last game to recruit another demolition droid, thankfully this one was a lower level than the other so it might be a bit easier to take on. The scenario this time was Turf Grab, played on a 2'x2' table each player needs to gain full control of 3 table quarters by eliminating all the enemy models in that quarter. A small table meant that we were going to start right on top of each other, so we packed it full of terrain and went at it.
The (somewhat cramped) table from the Turf Grab game
My heroes aquitted themselves well this time, but the real star of the show was the newest addition to the force. Dreddpool's new sidekick Nocturne spent the game taking flying leaps of the scenery to do over Adrian's combat droids in unarmed combat, along with mopping up a couple of robodogs who tried to assist. Dreddpool got lucky and survived several rounds of combat against both of Adrian's demolition droids, until it became obvious that they would be all that would be left of his force at which point Adrian called it quits and retired to mend some of the damage done.

At the end of game we worked out that we both had forces worth more than five times what they were worth at the start of the campaign, but that pales compared to what Matt will be able to field if he spends all his remaining credits on more zombies (84 models on the table in a small-scale skirmish game is just wrong). We should have some truly epic confrontations coming up soon.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

God of Battles - First Impressions

I spent today up in Nottingham at Foundry, where they have a truly impressive set of gaming tables set up on the main floor of their building and open their doors to the public every Saturday. God of Battles is the new fantasy wargame from Foundry written by Jake Thornton (of Dreadball fame, amongst others), and on the first Saturday of every month he's running games at Foundry. I picked up a copy of God of Battles at Salute but hadn't had a chance to play it yet, so this was my chance to play an intro game with instruction from the designer.
One of the gaming tables at Foundry, a valley with proper sized hills
Right off the bat, I'll just say that I am hugely impressed with this ruleset. The basic rules are deceptively simple, but they manage to capture those ever elusive aspects of wargaming; playability and realism. Or at least as realistic as you can hope for in a fantasy game anyway. I'd read through the rulebook before the first game (last night in fact) but I was still impressed with how easy it was to pick up once the game was underway. It helped that all I really had to do was concentrate on the tactics, unlike a lot of games the rules flow so easily and don't stop you from doing what comes naturally so you wind up fighting the battle rather than gaming the rules.

The game is a fairly straightforward alternating-activation system, with a few added tweaks. The biggest is that each side has access to a number of stratagems and can choose to play one per turn, immediately before activating one of their units. These stratagems can allow you to do things like activate a second unit at the same time, mark an enemy unit as activated (so they can't act this turn) or remove an activated marker from one of your units so they can act again.

All movement and measurements are done from a unit's leader, to an opposing unit's leader where appropriate; the rest of the models are really just there as wound markers for the unit. It's a little odd for someone coming from a Warhammer background, but it works really well and saves any arguments. Another thing that seemed odd but worked well is that the number of models in a unit govern not just how many dice you roll when attacking but also when defending; each dice succeeds on a fixed roll that depends on the unit involved with any modifiers adjusting the number of dice rather than the target number. Nice, simple, straightforward and remarkably instinctive once you get a turn or two under your belt.

The armies advance across another impressive battlefield
My first game was against a guy called Matt who had also never played before (and who it turned out I knew from playing CCG's against him about 10 years ago, small world). We each had fairly small forces, mine were Blood Gorged (aka beastmen) while his were Orcs. Both very aggressive armies so we could get stuck into things quickly. After a turn or two of maneuvering, we got stuck into things fairly quickly. The big turning point in the battle was when I managed to bring my elite unit of Ravagers alongside his Orc Ironskins, use a stratagem to remove their activation marker and then charge into the flank of his unit. With supporting attacks from a chariot and a minotaur, the Ravagers made short work of their target and went on to rampage through the remains of the Orc army. The result was pretty definitive but we both enjoyed the game and I learnt a lot.

The Orc Ironskins fall to the elites of the Blood Gorged army
I got a second game in against a guy called David who was a pathfinder for Mantic games, and had also never played God of Battles before. This time I took the Orcs and he had the Blood Gorged. Having seen what the Ravagers could do I made sure to charge them with the Ironskins and play the battle on my own terms. It worked, the Ravagers and Ironskins tied each other up for a few turns, before I managed to get some supporting attacks in again and wipe out the Ravagers. Only for the Ironskins to get trampled underfoot by the minotaur. In the end, this game was much closer and came down to whether I could wipe out a unit of Blood Gorged brutes before my Orcs got overrun by the enemy chariot. As it turned out, I couldn't.

So two games done, in approximately two hours each. It says a lot about how easy it is to get the hang of the game that, on our second turn of the second game, Jake just said "you guys really don't need me any more do you" and just left us to it.

If I have any issue with the rules it's that the big monsters really don't live up to their billing. We had a troll and a minotaur in our games, but with a couple of exceptions they generally weren't aggressive enough to do much damage and simultaneously tough enough to shrug off anything thrown their way. It made for a lot of drawn combats when they were involved.

So yeah, I can't recommend these rules highly enough. Simple, fun and highly tactical. I can't wait to see how they scale up to larger battles rather then the small skirmishes we were playing today. Anybody at the Peterborough club can expect to be pestered to play a game sometime soon.

P.S. We also got a chance to talk to Jake about Kickstarter and what he thinks of the runaway success of the Deadzone project. Short answer, he seems a bit blown away but he wishes Mantic would stop making promises that depend on him writing more scanarios, rules, characters etc. without running them by him first. :-)

Friday, 31 May 2013

Why I Hate Parcelforce

One of the many projects I've backed on Kickstarter finally shipped my rewards last week, as a result I have a new card game called Strategy of War to look forward to. However I'm going to be waiting a while longer before I can get my hands on it, because of the disorganised farce that dares to call itself a parcel delivery service.

To paraphrase the Joker: I have given a name to my pain, and it is Parcelforce.

This particular shipment was sent with full tracking via USPS, as a result I know that it was posted on May 20th and arrived in the UK last Sunday (May 26th) and cleared customs first thing on Tuesday morning. Fair enough, they didn't process it on a bank holiday and I wouldn't expect them to. But I can see that Parcelforce took possession of it by Tuesday lunchtime.

I received the invoice for the customs charges today. Since it came by first class post that means it took 2 days for Parcelforce to process and send an automated invoice! I've already paid it, but since it won't be delivered until Monday (no way am I paying an extra £12 for a Saturday delivery) that means it's probably going to wind up getting redelivered to my local post office. Which means I won't be able to get my hands on it until next Saturday, since (like most reasonable people) I'm at work while the post office is open so I won't have a chance to pick it up before then.

Net result of that 2 days delay; I have to wait over a week for a "next day delivery".

I shouldn't get so angry about it, after all this is the standard of service I've come to expect from Parcelforce. At least they've acknowledged payment this time. Last time they took my money and refused to admit it, it took me 2 weeks and half a dozen phone calls to finally get them to arrange delivery.

I'll stop ranting now. It doesn't help, but it does make me feel a bit better.

P.S. On a lighter note, Mike from Peterborough Wargames is still running his prize draw in celebration of hitting 100,000 page views on his blog. If you haven't taken a look at it yet I thoroughly recommend it, it's generally a good read. But if you haven't enjoyed this post, don't read his rant about UPS. :-)

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

(Lack of) Progress Report

I said that my aim for the bank holiday weekend was to get enough models painted for my corrupted Grey Knights army that I would be able to field a legal allied contingent in a game of 40K. I'm ashamed to say that I failed in even this modest task.

It wasn't a complete failure. I did get my first HQ choice painted, a Librarian/Sorceror. I have a squad of 5 Terminators that's about 80% completed, but only one of those is in a state where I could call it complete. So success on the HQ, but a fail on the troops choice.

Plus I now have a much better idea of what the army will look like. I've posted pictures of the Librarian, and I'm happy with the colour scheme. There's certainly no danger of these being mistaken for regular Grey Knights anyway.

Close up of the Librarian/Sorceror - a mix of Grey Knight and Chaos Terminator parts

Detail of the model's cloak, I'm quite pleased with the flame patterns
So what's next? Well, obviously I'm going to finish the 5 Terminators I've got almost completed, plus I've got 5 more undercoated to take the squad up to full strength. After that, I want to concentrate on the possessed Nemesis Dreadknight (also undercoated and ready to start).

P.S. When I say the Librarian is finished, I'm not including the base in that. I like to base models in batches, otherwise I always wind up wasting glue. So what I'll do is wait until I've got the full squad of 10 Terminators done and base the Librarian at the same time.

P.P.S. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the prize draw that Mike from Peterborough Wargames is running on his blog in celebration of 100,000 page views.

Friday, 24 May 2013


So, I haven't got a great deal done on my Grey Knights army over the last couple of weeks. The distractions have been kind of piling up, in no particular order I've had to deal with the following:

  • Work (always a problem)
  • Movies I couldn't miss (Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness and Oblivion in the last 2 weeks)
  • Miniatures I had to paint up for Judge Dredd
  • Miniatures I had to paint up for a different 40K army
Since I'm here to talk about gaming I'll concentrate on the latter (although all the movies get a big thumbs up from me).

I've been running a Lone Vigilante in the Judge Dredd campaign we've been running at the club. up until now he's been fine by himself but he recently picked up a couple of superhero allies and a sidekick, all of which needed painting for a game 2 Mondays ago at the club. You can see the results below.
The Judgement League (from L-R) - Captain Liberty, Dreddpool, Tin Man and Nocturne.
As it happens, my efforts were in vain as my force got roundly thrashed by Judge Anderson.

Then this week I had a game of 40K in the other club campaign I'm taking part in. This time I was using my Daemon army and wanted to include a couple of Daemon Princes, but they weren't painted and as my Daemon army is one the few where I can field a fully painted force I wasn't going to ruin that. So I got them done, and this time managed to wipe the floor with Jonathan's Ultramarines thanks to some better than average luck with armour saves. Again, the results are below.
Daemon Prince of Tzeentch

The Prince of Tzeentch has actually turned out to be a test model for my Grey Knights, the cyan and red colour scheme on his power armour is what I had in mind and I like the results. The cyan is suitably garish for an army of Tzeentch and the red offsets it nicely.

So I guess I have achieved something towards my new army after all.

Daemon Prince of Khorne
My goal for the bank holiday weekend is to get enough Grey Knights painted up to be able to field an allied contingent, which means an HQ and a troops choice. We'll have to see how that goes I guess.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

And now for something different

When I started this blog I was going on about how I'm starting on 2 new armies. Up until now I've only been going on about my new force for 40K, I haven't even touched on the new historical army I've been planning. It's time to change that.

My plan - and it's an idea I've been kicking about for ages - is to put together an army based on Spartacus' slave revolt. I'll admit it right up front, I'm a fan of the TV series and even though I know it's about as historically accurate as Braveheart it's still my primary inspiration here. But I think I can still put an army together that fits the historic details while capturing the feel of what I want to do. Either way, it's going to be fun but it's also going to be a longer term project.

I made a start at Salute, I picked up a box each of Wargames Factory's Ancient Germans and Numidians - they're the right period, they're wearing tunics or less, with a few head swaps I figure they'll make up a couple of decent sized units of slaves. What I'd like though is to be able to field some of them with equipment looted from fallen Roman troops; weapons and especially shields. I got a few free sprues of Warlord's new Republican Romans at Salute as well, so that gives me a dozen shields plus some gladiuses and pilums to play with. Gripping Beast do a pack of scutum shields for an excellent price that I may have to pick up.

So next on the list are some gladiators. The obvious candidates are Foundry, plenty of character and variety. I've got plans to use the retiarii as skirmishers with their nets counting as bucklers. There's a good mix of weapons and armour types too. My only possible issue is one of scale, I know Foundry's miniatures tend to be on the smaller end of the 25mm scale. Fortunately Foundry have an event coming up soon that I'm planning on attending to try out Gods of Battle so I can see how they measure up then.

My big issue though is finding a ruleset to use. WAB is the obvious candidate, but I've had issues with the rules in the past and the fact that it's out of production is another issue since I don't own a copy of Armies of Antiquity. I picked up a copy of War and Conquest at Campaign the other week, partly because the army lists are a free download. I've not had a chance to play a game yet, but I'm hopeful. The other alternative is Hail Caesar from Warlord, but as far as I can tell they don't have an army list for the slave revolts so I'd have to adapt something. I've not played that one yet either, so I see some practice games in my future.

Anyway, that's the plan. Such as it is.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Oldhammer - Feeling Nostalgic?

So I've noticed the whole "Oldhammer" revivial of the 3rd edition Warhammer Fantasy Battles going on and I'll admit it's got me a bit nostalgic. WFB 3rd  was the edition I started with and only the second wargame I ever played (after 40K Rogue Trader), and I'll admit the idea of going back to where it all started has a certain appeal.

Don't get me wrong, I play the current version of WFB and I still enjoy it; in spite of all its flaws it's still a good game and it's a lot better than the mess that was 7th edition. But 3rd edition was a whole different kettle of fish. The level of detail (and associated complexity) in the rules was like nothing I've seen since, probably a bit much for a 14 year old in hindsight but I just about managed back then and I'd love to see what I could make of it with another 20+ years of experience under my belt.

But, I told myself I wasn't ever going to splash out the kind of cash necessary to pick up a proper Oldhammer army on eBay. Not when I had so many other current armies on the go. So despite the fact I still have my 3rd edition rulebook kicking about somewhere (the benefits of being a hoarder as well as a gaming addict) I thought that was as far as I was going to go.

Then on the drive home from work tonight I remembered something. Right up there along with the rules is my original Chaos Warrior army. Couple of bit units of Warriors on foot, a couple of units of Chaos Thugs, a handful of cavalry and a whole bunch of dragon ogres and other assorted monsters. Given how many points Chaos Warriors cost back then (it was a whole unit of hero level troops and you paid for it) that should actually make a fairly substantial army.

So I guess I'm heading up into the loft sometime soon.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Mantic Open Day 2013 - Tournament Report

Today was the Mantic Open Day, held in Nottingham in one of the most unusual venues I've seen for an event like this. We were in a disused NHS surgery that had been fairly comprehensively stripped of anything that could have been considered useful. The Dreadball Tournament (the reason I was there) was in the main reception area, the shop area was in a storeroom, Mantic CEO Ronnie Renton was holding seminars in on of the reception offices while the other reception office was being used for Deadzone demonstrations. The highlight (pun very much intended) was the Warpath participation game that they had set up in what I think was an old exam room; the room itself had been stripped of its light fittings so the whole game was illuminated by a single spotlight set up in one corner of the room. Made it very atmospheric, but I'm not sure that was intentional!
Corporation troops defend a fortified position at twilight (well, sort of)
All in all it was a very weird setting, it felt a bit like we were gaming in a squat. None of this stopped it being an excellent event though.

One thing that really struck me was just how quick to play Kings of War is. I backed this on Kickstarter, I love the miniatures and I really like the look of the rules but I haven't had a chance to actually play it yet. Mantic had set up a 16ft table packed with miniatures on both sides. If we tried doing something like this at the club using Warhammer the game would take all day and we'd still run out of time. Mantic ran the whole thing in about 3 hours and were set up for another game after lunch! I need to give this game a try sometime.
The battlefield for the Kings of War game
Orcs with battle elephants - great idea

As far as the tournament goes, I started out great and got steadily worse as the day went on. I had intended to run a human team using the new Void Sirens list from Season 2, but after getting the models painted up last week I chickened out at the last minute and went with my Orx and Goblins, the Obliterators,  since they're the only team I have any experience with. My first game was against a Forge Fathers team (I'll apologize to my opponents now, as I've forgotten all of your names). This really couldn't have gone better, I battered his team into the floor and basically controlled the pitch all game. The lack of speed from a Forge Fathers team makes it easy to play around them, and this really was a landslide. My opponent admitted he'd only played a handful of games before but he took the result very well and was great sport. Plus his team will look great once he's painted the rest of them.
The Obliterators face off in their first game of the day

My second game was against a human team and was a lot more hard fought. I managed to get 3 of my Orx killed, but hung in there and fought back. In the end, time got called on the game while we were in the middle of sudden-death overtime and the final result was a draw. A fair result for an excellent game.

My third game was more humans, this time an opponent I'd faced before at the tournament at Hammerhead in February using the Void Sirens list and . In fact this was exactly the team I'd been considering bringing. I had an absolute nightmare of a game; everything I attempted seemed to fail, I had players who refused to get up off the floor for several turns, 2 Orx killed and one ejected from the game. In the end, I was lucky not to have lost by more than I did although I was actually in the running right up until the final turn and could have won if my last couple of dice rolls had worked out.

Finally, I had another standard human team. This time from the Starktech corporation wearing standard-issue red and gold armour. I had a great time in this game, hammered my opponent into the floor, got a couple of kills and was looking good for the win. Then I lost. Things really can shift that quickly in Dreadball, a couple of good dice rolls and the right cards played can see the ball down the far end of the pitch in the blink of an eye. Even my opponent didn't realise he'd won until I pointed it out. Unfortunately it appears I didn't grab any photos of this team.

End result, 1 win, 1 draw and 2 losses. Better than my last tournament, but this time I hadn't killed enough opponents to get the "Most Violent Coach" award. Apparently this is going to be an annual event, so I will definitely be back next year.
Mix of Dreadball and Deadzone models on display

In addition to the Dreadball, I got a chance to see Deadzone in action. The game looks really interesting, it doesn't play like any other wargame I've played before now. It's a bit boardgame-like, but in a good way. Really looking forward to this one. Plus the models look amazing.
I hadn't realised just how big the first generation Plague models were until I saw one in the flesh...