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donderdag 9 februari 2012

Wednesday Morning Gamer - 9/2

Late again, as per usual!. Still, here I am with another installment of MMG, chock-full of all manner of wargaming goodness. Let’s see what’s in store for today:

Firstly a look at how we’re getting on with Dystopian Wars. Played another game this Sunday, and boy, did I get beat! More on that later.

Next, a look ahead at our Blood in the Badlands campaign. Originally, when the book was just released, the plan was to start the campaign “somewhere a couple of months in, after new year’s”. Well, according to my calculations that would be right about now, or at the very least, soonish!

Thirdly, I thought I’d do a bit of a guide for people looking to start collecting a new army. As everyone who’s ever pondered which army to play can tell you, there’s a lot more that goes into choosing an army than “ pick the models you like best” . Here’s some tips and pointers.

Lastly, some thoughts on the LotR strategy battle game revival that’s been brought on by GW’s releases this month.

Promises to be a pretty long post. Think I can use that as an excuse for posting late? No...?

Off we go!

Dystopian Wars – How we are getting on.



Two main thoughts on Dystopian Wars, which we have been taking out for a test drive the past few weeks. Firstly, I (we) think it’s more suited for campaign play than for straight up, make a list and bring it, type pick-up games. Secondly, the book is an absolute beast to use. Allow me to elaborate.

Last Sunday, while waiting for the Super Bowl to start (btw, I’m not congratulating the Giants on their win, however deserved it may have been; I’m an Eagles fan and the only thing worse than seeing the Giants win the Super Bowl would have been seeing the Cowboys win it… Yes, I can be petty), David and myself played a game of Dystopian Wars. He, playing Prussians, had been having a bit of trouble taking on the Empire of the Blazing Sun and he wanted to try out something different. I was going to use Covenant forces.

We decided on a 1000 pts game, mainly to give us a bit of practice with DW list-building. I took my starter set as a base and just added to that. David decided to go in a completely different direction and took an Air force as his Core.

<small caveat> we found out/remembered that D’s Prussian army wasn’t exactly legal if we followed to tournament army selection rules, since Prussians don’t have Small Flyers, but we never officially settled on which army selection rules to use, so it was all good in the end. </small caveat>

Flyers vs Boatsies
I won’t put down the exact lists we used because A) I don’t remember exactly what he took and B) it’s not really relevant to the point I’m trying to make.

Suffice to say I got hammered, and not in the fun, alcohol consumption kinda way.

Now, I am definitely not a sore loser and I understand that, in any complicated game system (like DW), some match ups will not be as balanced as others, but I do like to have  chance, at least.

Roughly what happened was this: All his flyers deployed obscured and remained there. What flyers I had (2x2 Icarus) did the same. This meant I would hit him on 6s and he would hit my fleet on 6s and my flyers on 5s (special rule that most of the flyers he used had). Nothing overpowered or over the top, but it did make the game fairly boring. The first few turns I think I managed one point of damage on a single vessel. He proceeded to shoot my flyers out of the sky and then flew, still obscured, to within RB1 of my vessels. Then he dropped out and shot my fleet to bits. Being in RB1 I couldn’t really do much of anything as I couldn’t use my primary weapons. My broadsides did do some damage, so I avoided a blowout loss, but not by much.

The point of this little rant is that that match up, while totally fair, was no fun. We could play that same game a dozen times more and I still wouldn’t have a chance to win it. Not a slight chance, which would be ok, but no chance at all.

Narrative Campaigns - Island Assault!
Basically, if you do not agree on which type of Core Force to use for DW, the game will be imbalanced, one way or the other.

Which is why I think narrative campaign games, where you use either a pre-set force or at the very least a pre-set list to choose your force from (as opposed to your whole army list), will work a lot better.

Of course, I realize I could avoid this problem and just agree to play naval battles exclusively, but the beauty of this system, to me, is that it allows the different unit types to be included in an army.

I still like the game system, so we better start making some scenarios. I’ll see if I can think up some this week.



A beast, I say!
I do have a tiny point of complaint for Spartan Games: The rulebook is a beast. It takes ages to look stuff up. The wording is convoluted, rules pertaining to the same unit are divided all over the place, and it just lacks a logical structure. This is especially annoying for new players, like we are. Now, I like to think that my group and I are fairly experienced wargamers. We understand different game mechanics and have played Idon’tremember how many different game systems by almostasmany different game companies. If I tell them this game uses an Initiative based alternate activation turn mechanic, we all know what this means and how this effects game play.

But we have a bit of a rough time getting to grips with this system. We have most of the basics down but the main problem we have learning the more intricate rules is that we just can never easily find them!

It´s not just the book, it´s the errata documents as well. I know Kraggi over on theVarcan Cluster just did a post on how nice it is to have the designers of the game available on a forum, with frequent updates and errata readily available on Spartan Games´ site, but I don’t completely agree. For me, learning the game, the errata´s are a pain in the behind. When we play a game we have the rulebook plus a stack of printed pages with the FAQ and errata´s. If we need to look something up (which happens a lot, tbh), one of us starts flicking through the book while the other starts rifling through the pages of errata, trying to find what we are looking for.
Annoying.

Especially when info is hard to find in the book to begin with and then, after you’ve found it, you realize it’s been errata’d and made irrelevant (tiny flyer rules, I’m looking at you).

Mind you, I still like the game a lot, I just hope SG makes the book a bit more accessible for v2.0. These little complaints aren’t enough to chase us away from the game!






Blood in the Badlands – Trying to get something started…

Think you can stop me?!
I think it’s about time we got this thing rolling. Let’s start by doing an inventory of who’s playing and with which army. If I got something wrong, just let me know!









Players participating – Army

Thalenchar – Warriors of Chaos (Order of the Moon)

Balephon – Lizardmen (Hutzequetl Hooligans? ;) )

Shalen – Beastmen (Fists of Decay?)

Bra’Tac – Ogres (Ferocious Vikings Tribe?)

David – High Elves

Jetro – Vampire Counts

Btw, you last two guys so need an internet name…  All the cool kids have one these days, you know. As do the rest of us gamer nerds.

Anyway, that’s six of us playing the campaign, which would work wonderfully. To recap, all you need to start is 3 (lord level?) characters who will lead each of your 3 armies. These can be any character you want, as long as it is legally allowed to lead an army. We probably need to decide if we’ll allow special characters or not. I’m not planning on using any but we probably need a ruling. See this post for a bit more info. And remember that theme song!

The way the campaign works is as follows:

We make a (digital) map of the badlands (anyone wants to do this?) and chose a starting territory for every player.

The campaign is divided into 4 seasons and every season is divided into 3 turns. At the start of each season every player places all three of his army markers anywhere in his territory. Then each army moves d3 squares. Each player then does one battle (I’ll explain how you chose where to fight later) and after all battles have fought you find out what happened to all of your contested map tiles. All this technical stuff is for a later time. Just remember that you’ll only have to play one game per campaign turn and you have some control over where (on the map) you’ll fight that battle. Where you fight that battle (in the real world) is entirely up to you and your opponent, as is the points value of the battle.

At the end of every Season there is a special scenario that we all play. Reading them over 6 players is perfect for all of them. Most of these scenarios are a variety of multiplayer games. For instance, the Spring Scenario takes place on three different tables, where two teams of three players fight for supremacy of Mount Bloodhorn . The first (main) battle is a Siege game between 2 players (Siege rules are in the BotBl book). The second table is a Watchtower Scenario played by another 2 players. On the third table the 2 remaining players will play a Battle for the Pass. The battles on tables 2 and 3 affect the outcome of the one on table 1. All three battle start simultaneously but as soon as either battle on tables 2 or 3 ends, the surviving troops of the winning player will arrive on table 1, ready to assist their teammate! So the quicker those other battles end the better! Whichever team wins on table 1 wins the Spring Scenario. Cool, huh?

Relics!
Playing battles can earn players so-called Relics. These are important! Whoever accrues the most Relics during the course of the campaign will start in control of the castle in the final game of the campaign.

The final game of the campaign will determine the overall winner of the campaign. It is basically a large Siege & Storm of Magic battle (i.e. lots of fun!). One part of the table will have a large castle in it. In the castle are 5 objectives and whoever controls the most objectives at the end of the game will win the campaign!

Now, whoever has the most Relics at the start of this battle will be  allowed to deploy inside of the castle. This puts him in control of all 5 objectives right from the start. Unfortunately for him the other players will deploy around the castle and try to take the objectives from him. Sounds like a great game to me!

Some thoughts:
-          Some games will be Storm of Magic games. I know not all of u have the book so we’ll have to think of a solution for this.
-          Every army will have a small special rule associated with it, a racial trait that affects some of movements on the map. Warriors of Chaos, for instance, have a slightly easier time conquering a tile held by an opponent, while High Elves can reroll the D3 to see how far each of their armies can move each turn.
-          It is ok if you aren’t able to play a battle during any given campaign turn. There are ways to resolve a pending battle by a D6 roll, so if you can’t make it to a battle the Campaign can still progress.
-          At the same time, it would be nice if we could all come together for the End-of-Season games. These are loads of fun and really bring the campaign to life.

The idea is to start the campaign at the end of this month. Each campaign turn would then take 3 weeks. So let’s say we start during the weekend of 25th February we’d then have 3 weeks to play our battle(s). That means we’ll get through a season in 9 weeks, or roughly 2 months. At the final weekend of a Campaign Season we would all have to meet for the End-of-Season battle. So the end of Spring would be the weekend of 15th April.

Cash Money, b!tches!
Finally, as a bonus / incentive: After a prompt from the CEO of wargaming.nl we have the option of awarding a prize to the winner of the campaign! For this to work we’d have to set an entrance fee for the campaign (5,- pp). Wargaming.nl would then magically turn this total amount into a 50,- voucher to use in the store. Basically we would be playing for a chance to earn back our money tenfold. Of course, we’ll need to decide if this would make the campaign more fun, or less? I vote more!


That’s it! Let me know what you think!




Choosing an army for Fantasy – What to keep in mind?

If you’ve ever frequented a forum to do with any kind of wargame (Warseer, dakka, BoLs, etc) you will have seen posts where new players ask for advice on which army to play next. Invariably you’ll get people championing their chosen army, arguing over which army works and which army sucks. It can actually be quite entertaining; I especially like the threads where people try to argue why certain armies suck and aren’t competitive (like Bretonnians, Beastmen or Tomb Kings).

Invariably someone then comes along to give that bit of sage advice we have all received and given at one time or another: “just pick the army you like the look of best and you’ll have made the right choice.”

Sound advice, that. But what if I like two armies equally? What if I want some more in-depth advice before I make a choice and spend a large sum of money on something that might turn out not to be what I expected? Well, here are some more points to keep in mind when you go about choosing your new / next Warhammer Fantasy army. Thalenchar’s Tips!

There is no wrong choice, though there are bad choices.
I always hate talking about army tiers and power levels. Contrary to popular interwebz beliefs there is no group of “best armies”, followed by some “Okay armies” and some “ these suck armies”. The truth of the matter is that you can win a game of Warhammer with every army book. Sure, some armies might make it easier than others, but that has as much to do with you as a player as it does with the book. That said, certain army books do work better with the current edition of the rules than do other.
Obviously the newest books (TK, OK, OnG, VC) work perfectly in 8th. Most other books also work fine, although some might be more limited in which units work and which don’t. DElves, HElves, Daemons, Warriors of Chaos, and Dwarfs for instance all work fine, although out of those mentioned, High Elves might have the least amount of ‘viable’ units in its list.
The one army I don’t really feel survived the transition to 8th edition that well is Wood Elves. To be fair I haven’t played any games vs the treehuggers yet and I know there are people vehemently defending them, but I’ll just say that if you want to collect Wood Elves, be prepared for an uphill fight to get your wins in. Wood Elves look awesome and are very characterful, so there is that.
Just remember that whichever army you choose, there is no wrong choice.

Looks are important, right...?
Looks

                One of the questions I always ask myself when I wonder about which army to collect next is: Can I paint this? With my skills as a painter can I do this army justice? And it’s not just about if you have the techniques down to paint the army to whatever standard you prefer, but also about if you feel up to painting, say, hordes of zombies for a VC army or 100+ night goblins for that cool Squig army you want to do. On that same note, if you know you are better at painting large units to a serviceable standard where individual details might not stand out, do you really want to collect an army where there are so few models in each unit that your painting skills (or lack thereof) might stand out more? Just something to ponder.

Of course, trying new things is always fun and if you never try something new you’ll never get better.



Also, do not be limited to GW colour schemes. You can paint the models you purchase whatever colour scheme you want. And yes, that means painting my blood angels green or my grey knights black (I know, 40K reference, but that to me are perfect examples). My models, my colours.


Play style

                There are no point and click armies. Utter bullocks. Warriors of Chaos are not a point and click army, nor are Daemons. Every army has a certain play style and, unfortunately, certain armybooks only allow you to do a limited number of these styles. You can never make a Warriors of Chaos army that will have a strong presence in the Shooting phase, for example. And you’ll be hard pressed to do a proper horde sized WoC army as well.

All this just to show you that not every army might work with the play style you prefer. Of course, you’ll not know which style you prefer or suits you until you play a few games, but it bears keeping in mind. Here’s a list of the most frequent play styles as I see them.

Smash ‘em – Hit your opponent and hit him hard. Use a few units of elite troops like Ogres or Warriors of Chaos and just kill unit after unit with them.

Shoot ‘em – stand back and shoot your opponent from afar. Classic examples are Empire and Dwarven gunline armies.

Swamp ‘em – Flood the table with models and watch your opponent struggle to deal with them all. Suitable for horde armies.

Grind ‘em – lock down enemy units with replenishable tarpit units, like zombies, to hold them in place, and then use your few elite units to win the combat when and where you choose.

Outflank ‘em – Outmaneuver your opponent. Rule the movement phase. Position your units for flank charges. Use redirectors and bait units to direct your opponent’s moves. One of the more cerebral tactics to use.

Zap ‘em – Use lots of magic to overpower your opponent in the Magic Phase. Either blast your opponent to pieces (fun but unreliable) or augment your troops and hex your opponent’s troops to give yourself an edge (easier and more effective).

How many models do you want?
Model count

                This one is fairly easy. There are certain armies that will require you to buy a lot (!) of miniatures before you will have enough to play the game. Skaven and Vampire Counts are good examples of this, but Orcs and Goblins armies (emphasis on the latter half), Empire and some others can have a very high model count as well. Do you want to spend the money needed to collect that many?

                If the answer to that is “no” you might prefer going for a force where less models are needed. Ogres are a prime example of this, but Warriors of Chaos and Daemons can do a small model count (aka Elite) army as well.

LotR revival? Is enough ever really enough?

Brought on by the new-look GW blog. I like it, I must admit. Numerous small posts every day. I like the gaming posts more than the fancy painted models posts, though I understand they are important too. Show me real people’s armies over golden daemon standard models any day of the week, bar Sunday. Ah, heck, on Sunday too!

Anyway, as you may know, GW rereleased their Lord of the Rings Strategy game this month. They released a bunch of new ‘armybooks’ and a slew of new figures, all to promote the game and create some hype for the Hobbit game that’ll be released in time for the movie dec 2012. They also moved War of the Ring (Warhammer Fantasy sized LotR) to the specialist games section, which means that’ll get as much support from now on as do Necromunda and Battlefleet Gothic.

Anyway, having played WotR a few times (great game, btw. people hating on it don’t know a good game when they see one) so I’ve always had a thing for the LotR system. I have never really played the Strategy game though. This rerelease has me somewhat interested. I mean, is the game as good and as fun as War of the Ring? It’s more skirmish-size, with all individual models doing their own thing, but that just means I need less to get started. It looks like fun and like something I could try out. I already have an Easterling Force from WotR, so the startup costs would be very low.

But seriously, with Dystopian Wars and Blood in the Badlands, do I really need a new game to play? I do love the Easterling figures, the Corsairs are great (especially the Arbalesters), the poisoned attacks of the Haradrim make for a play style I would really like, and who could ever get enough of those Trolls? Oh! Could I do an army entirely of Trolls? Pretty please?

Sigh… The musings of an overly excited wargamer laid bare…


That's it for now! Until next time!