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maandag 28 november 2011

Monday Morning Gamer - 28/11

Hello and good morning! What a week it´s been. First the weather was too crappy for me to take pics for Midweek Modeling and then my Campaign Battle got pushed back till Sunday, leaving me little time to write up the battle review for Game Night! All of which combines to me not having any content to post for most of last week. I shall endeavor to do better this week! (I like ‘endeavor’, such a nice word. People don’t use it enough.)

So, with that out of the way: Welcome to another edition of Monday Morning Gamer! I have actually had quite a fun week, gaming wise. I received a text that set off all sorts of ideas forming in my mind, I found something really awesome visiting my parents this weekend and I played the final battle in our 6 month Fantasy Campaign, which was a really cool battle!

For this week’s episode of MMG I have for you the following: A review of my absolute favourite unit in the Ogres Kingdoms book, a look at a spin off game by one of my favourite miniature companies ever, a very early look at a Dark Eldar only Escalation Campaign, and, finally, a look ahead!

Plenty of stuff, so let’s get to it!

My Favourite Fatties – Ogre Kingdoms Maneater Review
That’s right; it’s time for a comprehensive review of an Ogres Kingdoms unit. I did Leadbelchers here and I’ll be looking at the most well-traveled of Ogres today: The Maneaters!

Apart from having arguably the coolest models in the entire Ogre range, Maneaters are also very useful in an Ogres army. They have some very stiff competition in the Specials slot, but it’s never bad to be spoilt for choice, right?

Let’s look at what you get for the points. For 7 points more than a Irongut you get vastly better stats and trade in your heavy armour for light armour and your great weapon for a hand weapon. Just these stat increases alone are almost enough to make this a really good unit. Suddenly you have a unit that can actually shoot with some degree of accuracy (Bs 4), who hits better and harder in combat (Ws 4 / S5) as well as more often (A4) and who has Ld 8 and I 3. I 3 might not seem like such a big deal, since they  will still strike simultaneously or after most other troops anyway, but that little bonus actually makes Maneaters the Ogres’ most resilient unit when it comes to those dreaded ‘I-test or die’ spells. Ld 8 is also a big bonus since it means you can more or less reliably leave the Maneaters alone outside of your general’s Inspiring Presence range. Don’t get me wrong, Ld 8 is by no means a sure pass when you have to take a panic test, but it’s miles better than Ld 7.

Probably a Maneater’s main weakness is its relative fragility. Even with heavy armour it still loses wounds about as fast as an Ogre Bull, and for 66% more points, that’s not really a good deal. This is something you have to be mindful of. Don’t through your Maneaters recklessly into a combat where they will be hit with a lot of S4/S5 hits, because they will die before doing anything and they will just be a huge waste of points. Exposing them to lots of ballistic skill shooting is also bad for the same reason, although at least then the enemy isn’t shooting at the rest of the army. While there isn’t any foolproof way of protecting your Maneaters, maneuvering cleverly and using terrain to your advantage helps a lot. This is also where the Scouts special rule comes in. Being able to deploy after your opponent has put down pretty much all of  his army will allow you to place your Maneaters somewhere in cover or outside LoS of most of the enemy’s missile troops, even if you don’t use Scouts to place your Maneaters closer to the enemy (and why wouldn’t you?).

Also, I pretty much always pay the points for heavy armour. Sure, it’s pricey, but it also doubles my Maneaters’ armour save.

Now, what makes a Maneaters unit really good is how customizable they are. You can tailor a unit of Maneaters to your needs during army building. With the ability to choose a different weapon for every model in the unit you can equip them for more attacks or for harder hits (additional hand weapon vs.  great weapon), or give them ranged weapons. Always buy at least an additional hand weapon for a Maneater, since this will give you an extra S5 attack for only 2 points! Also, remember that when you buy just a single Pistol, you also get an additional attack at S5, in addition to also being able to stand and shoot when you’re charged.

The many weapon options aren’t the only way to tailor your Maneaters to your play style. The “Been There, Done That” special rule and this becomes even better. BTDT allows you to choose any 2 special rules out of a list of 8, and all of them make the unit a lot better.

Immune to Psychology means the unit’s Ld of 8 isn’t that big a deal anymore. It’ll auto pass all important Ld checks. Combine this with Stubborn and suddenly you have a unit that will dish out lots of S5 attacks and that will stay in combat no matter how badly they are outnumbered!

Vanguard and Scouts allow you to position your Maneaters better. I’d always choose Scouts over Vanguard because Scouts allows you to keep the whole unit back during normal deployment and then lets you deploy it pretty much anywhere you want. Keep a gap in your deployment where they could go to keep your opponent unsure of where you’ll put them (if there are no suitable spots outside of your deployment zone) and take advantage of any gaps he leaves open. Just don’t deploy them too far out on a flank where they’ll have trouble having an impact on the battle if you’re not careful.

Strider is another one of the rules I’d not choose often since it doesn’t really impact the game that often. Dangerous terrain test aren’t something that an Ogre will have to take that often, and when he does, well, he has 3 wounds, so he can survive losing one. I’d rather choose a Special Rule that will help my Maneaters more often. That said, Strider combined with Swifstride can make for a unit that can be a nasty surprise to your opponent. Suddenly those Maneaters he thought far away are charging straight through that patch of dangerous terrain and hitting his unit he thought safe! Still, this is probably something I’d only use for a second unit of Maneaters.

Finally, we have the two rules that allow for the combination that was talked about the most before the book was released: Poisoned Attacks and Sniper. If the interwebz were to believed, no character would ever be safe in a unit again because they would all be eating poisoned lead (wait, isn’t that a pleonasm?) and dying horribly T2! Of course, the truth is a little different. Yes, Maneaters with brace of pistols, Poisoned Attacks, and Sniper can snipe at wizard lords hiding in a unit of regular troops. However, to kill said wizard lord (assuming, T3, 3 wounds, a 4++, and long range), you’ll need 36 shots on average if you’re moving (which you probably will to get into position / range). So either you’re taking 18 Maneaters or shooting at the same wizard lord for two turns or more. Really, but the time he’s dead you would have probably been better off walking the Maneaters across the table, charging the unit holding the wizard, and clobbering him to death with your poisoned pistol butts.

So, yes, Sniper is good. But it’s not great. Poisoned attacks, on the other hand, are. Especially in combat, where you’ll have a lot of attacks. Every 6 to hit will cause an auto wound with a -2 save modifier because you’re S5. Chaos Warriors and Greatswords will hate you. Not to mention Tomb King Sphynxes.

Finally, Maneaters can also carry a Magic Banner. Don’t go crazy here, any Maneaters unit will already be expensive enough as is, but it is nice to have the option to give them a banner to help them. My three personal favourites are Banner of Discipline (upping their Ld to 9 and increasing their ability to operate independently), Gleaming Pennant (poor man’s solution to Ld issue), and Banner of Eternal Flame (to make them effective vs. regenerating targets as well).

Now, one of the most frequently asked question about Maneaters is: what’s the ideal size of a unit Maneaters, hotly followed by: should I take 2 units or 1? That, like the answer to “Which skills should I use for BTDT?” is entirely up to you! I generally take only one (big-ish) unit of Maneaters and then spend my other points on something else, but I’m sure you can make a viable build with 2 or even 3 units of Maneaters. These will be costly fast, though, so you’re army will never be big. But then, hardly any Ogre army will ever be big, numbers wise.

My favourite Maneaters set up is 6 strong, full command, brace of pistols, Gleaming Pennant, Poisoned Attacks and Scouts. Sure, it’s expensive, but it also allows me to deploy a unit dead last that my opponent will absolutely HAVE to deal with because they are good enough to seriously dent his army otherwise. And we all know the key to winning is forcing your opponent to adapt his plans to you and force him into making choices you can exploit!

So, in the end Maneaters are by no means the best unit in the book. They are expensive and fragile, but they do allow you to have a unit you can almost completely tailor to your gaming needs. Whatever role you need your Maneaters to perform, you can customize them to do it.

Rackham Hybrid & Nemesis

I went to visit my parents this weekend and had a rummage through the attic, looking for some of the games of yesteryear. You know, games you used to play years ago, then got fed up with and stowed away in a box and then forgot about.

I was actually looking for some of my old Warhammer Fantasy Figures for me to use in my House Horendal Project (more below), and then I came across these!

Rackham - Hybrid

And the expansion: Rackham - Nemesis
How awesome is that? I was completely psyched I still had that. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s Hybrid, a Dungeoncrawler game by Rackham. Rackham, for you young ‘uns, was a French miniature company that brought us Confrontation (including spin offs Age of Ragnarok and Dogs of War), Cadwallon RPG, and AT-43. That in itself might not be enough to be impressive, although some of those were very fun games. My gaming buddies and I have spent quite a wonderful summer playing Dogs of War, for instance. What made Rackham really special, in my mind, is that they produced some of the best miniatures ever. Sure, there were some not-so-greats, especially in their early range, but on the whole their range was simply stunning. Don’t take my word for it, browse this gallery and you will be awestruck.

Cool, huh? Sadly, Rackham went under a few years back. So, children, let this be a lesson: No matter how cool your miniatures are, don’t ever go pre-painted plastics if you want to keep doing business.  What a shame…

Right, so how did I get to this again? Oh, right. I found my copy of Hybrid and Nemesis. I haven’t played this more than once or twice, so everything in the box still looks great. I remember buying this with a mate who wanted the Alchemist models for his collection, and I ended up with the Templars of Hod and everything else in the box! I have no idea what I’m going to do with all those floorplans, doorways, and counters, but I’m sure going to have a fun time rummaging through everything and see what was in the box and read up on the rules again. Maybe this is a good time to dust off my Warhammer Quest book again and use these cool floor plans for a new Adventure! I also found some of Rakcham’s Reversible game tiles they made for the Cadwallon RPG, so might use those too. We are looking to start doing something new now we’re finished with our Fantasy Campaign, after all. I’ll keep you posted!

Dark Eldar Escalation Campaign

The other day I received a text from a mate of mine who is always deeply involved in one hobby project or another. The past year he has been working on an all-Harlequin army, using the Dark Eldar Codex, and as such he’s developed a strong liking for the Dark Kin.

Now, like many other people around the world, our gaming group has hit a bit of a slump in our 40K gaming, and looking for alternatives. It’s a great game, but things are starting to get a bit repetitive with all those imperial Codexes out there. If you go to a tournament, which we often do, 75% of the armies will be Marines of one persuasion or another. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, and 5th edition is probably the best 40K rules set so far, but we’ve gone a bit bored with it.

Enter my mate and his text, who suggested we start a 40K escalation project of sorts, with all players using just the Dark Eldar Codex. We’d start off with just a 500 pts army and work our way up to a larger force, playing through different missions (some from the book, some made up ourselves) and just trying to get in the game a little again. Of course, this would only involve the small number of our group who have Dark Eldar, but really, that’s about 4 players, I think, and that should be enough for a small campaign.

This is still very much in the planning stage and, heck, it might never actually get off the ground, but it’s a fun concept to think off. Years and years ago I adapted the rules for Necromunda into a game that had 12 different types of Eldar gangs running around on an abandoned Craftworld, and that was great fun. This escalation league will be similar to that in that it will focus on story as much as it will on gaming, with missions having a strong narrative theme and the Characters developing a personality of their own.

As mentioned, the army will start off at 500 pts and I have been busy thinking up different lists. You’re only allowed 1 HQ, 1 Elites, 1 Fast Attack, and 1 Heavy Support. I must admit, I’m enjoying the list building immensely! It’s great fun not only figuring out what will work and what won’t in 500 pts, but also building a list that you know will only be facing other Dark Eldar and no pesky Marines! You should try it!

What’s next?

Lastly, I’m very excited about the Blood in the Badlands expansion book that is released this week. Can’t wait to get my hands on it and see what they’ve come up with. I’m especially excited about the Siege rules! Although, I hope they aren’t that great, else I’ll have to start building a Castle and I already have too many hobby projects as is! I’ll try and see if I can get a copy Thursday and give some more info on what’s in the book in Game Night!

Speaking of which, here’s what else is planned for this week here on Thunderstomp!

For Midweek Modeling I’ll give you the final batch of WiP of my Tale of the Painters for this month, I’ll show you what I have planned for Zharuff’s Blackhearts for my House Horendal project, and maybe some additional info on the painting of a very special Space Marine diorama!

Game Night! will have the Battle Review for the awesome final battle for our Fantasy Campaign, where overall victory hang in the balance, and neither army was out of it until the very final D6 roll. Really, it was that good. Also, I’ll answer the completely hypothetical question “ Were I to do Necrons, what would my army list look like?” and give a preview of the Fantasy Doubles Tournament I’ll be attending this Saturday.

See you next time!