Thursday, 31 October 2013

I'm not a geek, I'm a level 9 warlord!

Morning all, (well it is here).

I thought today I would talk about the idea of the campaign and stories behind characters in our wargames - by which I mean adding depth to the games themselves by making us care more about what happens to the models 'on the table'.

Some of you may know, I like to give names to my miniatures as I like the idea of them being something more than just 'bolter marine in tactical squad'. I also like the idea that that particular model has a story behind it, a marine for example will have come through a multitude of hardships and rigours just to earn the right to wear the armour, and that's not something we think about too much, because it doesn't affect the game at all. Or does it? Personally I think that story is an important part of the hobby, and ultimately in a marines case, it's part of what makes them so tough, so does have a tabletop influence in that its the justification for their higher BS, WS etc. 

Which brings me neatly on to the idea of the campaign, in terms of linking battles together, and having one game influence another in some way. Now 40k doesn't provide us with a formal method for doing this, which I personally think is a shame as it wouldn't take much to introduce a campaign system as a supplement to the core rules particularly when we see so much effort given over to creating a narrative in the rulebook and white dwarf. And yes, I’m aware of the crusade of fire, but I’m talking about more general campaign rules.

 

Where GW did get it right however (in my humble opinion) is in their specialist games, which they sadly don’t seem to support any more. My particular experience lies with necromunda and bloodbowl, and that probably explains the number of posts I’ve written recently relating to those games. The enduring pull of these games however for me, is that you’re playing a game that has a distinct winner or loser just as in 40k (well, technically you can draw in bloodbowl…) but the game itself goes beyond that result through their inbuilt campaign (league) systems. Bloodbowl leagues enable your players to gain star player points as they complete touchdowns, inflict casualties etc, and necromunda gangers gain experience for surviving and inflicting hurt on their opponents. Both of these methods of gaining experience lead to your models gaining stat increases or skills, meaning that as you go through games, they start to improve and become better at doing what it is they’re there for. It’s a very similar mechanic to computer games, each action increases your abilities and that makes you better enabling you to take on more deadly opponents. The bottom line with me therefore is that playing the game ceases to be entirely about winning and losing, but also about how your team/gang improves to make them better for the next game. Of course, there’s the possibility that some of your models will actually die from wounds inflicted during the games, and that just adds to the fun, after all, if there was no possibility of getting worse, getting better would be less of an achievement. The other important factor in this, is that the result is less important overall, as even if you lose, your team or gang can still improve (though it’s harder than if they won!).

 

On occasions I’ve used this to a certain extent in my games of 40k, particularly with my Dark Eldar – raiders of the 40k universe their whole reason for going to war is usually to capture slaves, but there’s nothing to represent that in the 40k rules. What I have been known to do therefore is to use the serious injury chart in Necromunda to work out how many of the ‘dead’ from the tabletop end up in the arenas of Commorragh. It has no real effect of course, but I do enjoy writing background every now and again, and to have actual casualties represented in those stories gives them more flavour to my mind.

 

So there you go, how many of you have regular gaming nights in 40k and never consider the consequences of what happens to those armies you’re using beyond them being ‘dead’ on the tabletop. Why not think up some method for determining if those models are truly dead or just incapacitated (that grenade didn’t actually kill those guardsmen, it just knocked them senseless, or injured them to the extent that they couldn’t fight on) and incorporate it into a campaign, fighting further battles only using the genuine survivors?

 

Till next time, remember, if you were to break Chuck Norris open, inside you’d just find a smaller, angrier Chuck Norris!


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Shootout in Shining Falls

 
 
Evening all, hope you're dice are rolling well, I thought I'd share with you a scenario I've written (well, tweaked) for the opening game of my upcoming Necromunda Campaign, the fight for Shining Falls. So without further ado, here it is...

Monday, 28 October 2013

The gang and their watering hole

Hi all, Monday again, it comes round so quickly!

Still, on the bright side that means I can update you all on my painting and construction progress!

This week has again been focused on getting my orlock gang up to scratch for the Fight for Shining Falls necromunda campaign I'm about to join. I'm pleased to report though that painting made a big leap forwards on Friday night, and the gang is closing in on being complete with the exception of one heavy, who needs a bit more construction as it was a fairly significant conversion (by my standards).

I've also begun construction on their preferred place to drink, and 'The Brewery Tap' is taking shape nicely

Brew

Maggot

Crank

Rebel

Butcher

Weasel

Boone

Vulture

And the brewery tap itself

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Gang war and a pair of fresh eyes.


Hi all, hope you're all fit and eager to hear my latest ramblings on the warhammer 40,000 universe!

Last night I played two warm up games of necromunda against my friend Matt (read his fledgling blog here). We stuck to the basic rules, so no falling off buildings etc, as its been 15 years since my last game. That being the case I was pretty pleased with the outcome, one win and one loss. We played with a lot more scenery than I used to back in the day, so fire lines were much more obstructed than I remember.

What that meant was that my longer ranged gangers and heavy were of much less use than I’d hoped, but realistically the table we were using was also slightly smaller than it should be too, and my opponent was extremely canny with his model placement and movement, meaning any shots I did get were hampered by lots of cover.

 

The first game was over pretty quickly to be honest, My set up was average at best and several guys were visible and in range from the start. Hawg went down quickly to a scatter shot blast, my opponent putting him out of action with his first shot. My close combat group, consisting of leader, 2 juves and a ganger did get into combat relatively early, though they made the mistake of getting charged. Unusually those combats were less than decisive in the early turns. On the other side of the table, my flamer heavy let rip and hit a juve, but failed to either injure or set him on fire, and to add insult to the lack of injury, he failed the resulting ammo roll – thankfully I’d had the foresight to equip him with a lasgun as a backup! The combat then swung away from me before I managed to do any damage at all, and I failed my first attempt at a bottle roll (which ironically, I’d have passed if it wasn’t my leader that had gone out of action to force me to roll it!)

 

The second game went much better, though it was a close run thing – my shooting was more effective, and I managed to get my leader and a juve into combat with a ganger and juve. The ganger went out of action and the juve went down in the next turn, my leader managing to consolidate just beyond range of the nearby flamers, leaving the juve to get toasted. That was when I got a bit cocky, I’d already put down another goliath ganger with a shotgun blast, so I just needed one more casualty to force a bottle test on my opponent. All my gang closed in for the kill, moving to get the clearest shots possible. And then dice impotence hit me, it’s something I suffer from regularly, but the doc says there isn’t anything they can proscribe to cure it. Two lasguns, one autogun, one heavy stubber, a shotgun, an autopistol at close range (so hitting on a 2+) and a stub gun all missed the target leaving me horribly exposed. I even forgot about my leader so no charge into combat or shooting with his plasma pistol. Needless to say after my opponent’s next turn, my combat ganger and second juve were rolling around on the floor (flesh wound and pinned fortunately) and the autogun ganger was down, my opponent needed just one more casualty to force a bottle test, and so did i. That was when my luck turned, and though my leader, who’d been charged by a couple of juves, failed to roll well enough to win the first combat and then failed to wound with the one hit he caused form his higher initiative (on a 2+ from his plasma pistol on full power!) the second combat went my way. Just. My opponent rolled a six from his three attack dice, which I forced him to re-roll using my chainsword, and the resulting die came up a four. Enough to tie the combat so I again caused a single hit from having a higher initiative. This time the dice gods looked on me favourably, and the juve went down forcing a bottle roll. Which my opponent failed, thankfully, since he’d got a squad of 4 guys about to make my leader’s life a nightmare in the next turn.

 

All in all therefore, a reasonably successful reintroduction to the game, and several lessons learned for the campaign opener in a fortnight. As an aside, I decided to see what would have happened to the guys who were down at the end of the game if we had been playing in a campaign – the juve recovered fully, as is the tendency for the young and virile, but the ganger went blind in one eye (thank goodness it wasn’t a campaign game!)

 

On to the Random Musing for today then, and that’s to do with the usefulness of fresh eyes.

 

I find often that the grizzled amongst us have been playing so long that we rarely consult the rulebook for certain parts of the game, and therefore we know the generality of the rules we use, but sometimes the finer points escape us. This came up in particular last night, when resolving a combat in one of my Necromunda games, and my opponent rolled a ‘6’ on one of his attack dice. No bother, I thought, as it’s only the first six he’s rolled and he needs another before he gets the bonus for a critical hit. My opponent however thought that six counted as a critical even though it was the only one he got. Now I’m not trying to boast that I knew the rule better, it was simply that having not played for so long, I had re-read the rules carefully this week, and in this instance my interpretation was correct. That meant that the combat was tied, and went on into the next turn – as it turns out, it didn’t affect the outcome of the game, but my point is that sometimes it’s useful to play against someone new to the hobby, because if they’ve come fresh from reading the rules, they may actually understand them better than you, in this instance one part of one sentence could have made a huge difference to the game’s outcome. (If you think I did come across as boasting there, I should point out that my reading of the sustained fire rules was corrected by my opponent – though if you notice there’s a subtle but significant difference in the way this is calculated between the living rulebook and the original rules, which are the ones we’re using. The original rules you roll once to hit, then see how many sustained fire hits you get, under the new rules you roll to see how many sustained fire shots you get first, then roll to hit with each of them – and with a heavy stubber that means on average 4 attempts at scoring a hit, meaning that your sustained shooting is much more likely to cause some damage in comparison to the original rules).


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Gaining experience and what to do with it.


Morning all, today's tactical post is going to be something a little off the wall, and relates to the skirmish games produced by GW, in particular necromunda and bloodbowl. Both of these games have campaign (league) rules allowing your gang (team) to become more experienced and therefore better at what they do, and today I'm going to look at how you can make those systems work to your advantage to surprise your opponent.

First off, we need to consider the basic attributes of the teams involved, and this is where the two games differ slightly. Necromunda is based in a hive city, and the original set of gangs are all human, so their base characteristics are all identical (scavvies etc change this slightly but not too much). The living rulebook adapted this slightly by bringing in house weapon lists, meaning some gangs had access to certain types of weapons others didn't in order to bring some variety, but the basic principles remain the same, so any gang member is equally capable at both shooting and close combat. Bloodbowl however uses individual races as the different teams so all the stats vary a little making each team more suited to a particular style of play.

So the first choice therefore (putting considerations such as the appearance of the models to one side) is whether or not the basic stats of the gang/team suit your favoured style of play – this is less relevant to necromunda for the reasons above, but can make a huge difference in bloodbowl, where choosing Dwarves if you want to play a passing game would be an horrendous mistake.

 

Each race however has a pre-defined preference for certain areas of development using the experience system. In a reverse of the statline situation, the wider variety of skills available in Necromunda means more option to tailor your models to a particular style, though the more random nature of skill selection can influence a fighter’s future more so than being able to pick skills to complement their existing abilities. It’s the skill selection however that I want to concentrate on, as the skills/skill tables you choose can significantly affect how your gang/team operates and can spring many surprises on your opponent.

 

Let’s take Necromunda first, and I’m only going to concentrate on the original 6 houses since I have little to no experience of the outlander gangs.

 

The skill tables look highly confusing at first when you look at them all together, but a little analysis shows a pattern – juves can access two skill tables, gangers three, heavies four and leaders six. Fairly obviously, the juves (who will eventually progress to become gangers) can only access skill tables that gangers will have available to them. All heavies have access to the Muscle, Shooting and Techno tables, with one more table tailoring their skill set to their house, half of the original house heavies get access to combat skills, with one each accessing Agility (Escher), Ferocity (Cawdor) and Stealth (Delaque).

 

Let’s use the heavies as an example of what I’m talking about therefore. Typically I would expect most gangs to equip their heavies with a heavy weapon (durr!) or a special weapon, as only heavies have access to the former and heavies and leaders the latter. This instantly makes the heavy into a fire support unit and you’d be pretty daft to have them on the frontline. However, the easy access to muscle skills (5 of which directly affect combat performance) and combat skills for most houses means that the heavy is actually your most able hand to hand fighter outside your leader. Equip these guys with a pistol and some kind of close combat weapon and they’d form a formidable combat presence to threaten any gang.

 

Let’s take this one step further then, Van Saar are typically the house everyone expects to be shooting at you, lots. Van Saar gangers also get access to Combat skills however, so you could quite easily equip a Van Saar gang to be solely dependent on combat, with two heavies and a leader backed up by several appropriately developed gangers.

 

So think carefully about the skill tables you select, as they can have a great influence on your playstyle and what an opponent might expect from you.

 

Secondly, let’s look at Bloodbowl, where the skill availability is considerably more available for personalisation.

 

Here, when you learn a new skill, you can pick your skill from a selection of tables, which are generally tailored to the racial characteristics represented by their statline (so elves get agility skills, dwarves get strength skills etc). The general skill table however gives a lot of flexibility to support those crucial doubles rolls (that give you access to all the skill tables) and whilst you won’t create an agile player using the general table alone, you can supplement certain areas, making elf teams more able to survive in a fight (Fend, Block, Dauntless, Frenzy, Wrestle etc) and Tougher teams better able to control the ball (Sure Hands, Kick, Shadowing for example). Imagine for example an Amazon team with all their linemen (women) having Block and Frenzy in addition to their default skill ‘Dodge’. I certainly wouldn’t fancy my chances on their offense!

 

So there you have it, if you do get involved in a skirmish campaign from one of GW’s specialist games (and I strongly recommend that you do, they’re great fun), do me a favour and think carefully about your gang/team selection to start with, even more carefully about how you want to play the team and develop its members, and most of all don’t be afraid to do something unexpected (but not stupid!)

 

Till tomorrow’s random musing, have fun, and remember – Chuck Norris is allowed to talk about fight club.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Recruiting the gang - necromunda and Iron Fists updates

Hi everyone,
Back to normal this week I hope, and here's modelling Monday's update for you.

Regular readers will remember that I've recently got back into necromunda, and I and a few friends will be starting a campaign in November. We've set wysiwyg rules for all the models, so this weekend I spent stripping my old Orlocks down to bare metal and starting again (it's 15 years since I painted them and I've improved a lot since 

I also decided to make themed scenic bases for them all, and the complete gang is shown above. I've done close-up photos of all the individual models below, and written a brief history for each based on the campaign background, which you can read here.

This is Brew, he's taking cover in the gap created between two industrial looking uprights created by the support framework from an imperial guard dozer blade. He's standing on a couple of pieces of cork to stop his tabard from interfering with the scenery.

Brew is the only member of the Death Spectres to have volunteered for the job, seeking Boone out when news broke of his survival. Brew owned the bar where Boone first came to the attention of the Shining Falls Guard, and the two men formed a firm friendship over the months he spent in the town.

This is maggot, one of two juves in the gang and he's standing on a cupola hatch from a razorback and a door from a landspeeder, intended to represent a sewer cover and some rubble.

Maggot is unique amongst the Death Spectres, as he is the step-son of Brew, and as such was neither a volunteer nor a recruit, his acceptance was a condition of Brew joining the gang. Whilst not as experienced an underhiver as many of the other members of the Death Spectres, Maggot does possess a keen mind and an ambitious nature, and is determined to take this opportunity to take control of Shining Falls, and sees the Death Spectres as the ideal vehicle for achieving that goal.

This is Crank, he's sheltering behind a random piece of armour I found in my bitz box, not sure what its from. That's supplemented by a jerry can, a shovel and a pintle mount.

Crank was another former acquaintance of Boone back in his Guard days, indeed he served as Boone’s squad sergeant to begin with, and the two instantly formed a close bond due to Crank’s commitment to making Shining Falls a safer place. He was not one to follow authority however, and was well known for being prepared to always go one step further than the criminals he apprehended. It made him a feared enforcer of the town’s laws, but eventually the Governor took the view that the summary public examples he made of criminals prior to their guilt being established was reckless, and he was dismissed from the force. Boone knows however, that if he is to gain the revenge he seeks, then he will need men such as Crank who will give everything for him, regardless of the cost.

This is rebel, he's a basic ganger with a lasgun an I've used some etched brass from a GW basing kit along with a couple  of parts from a leman russ dozer blade support to make it look like he's standing in front of some sort of screen/window.

Rebel was the Governor’s eldest son, and although the two men were not close, the massacre hit him hard. The Governor had banished him not long after Boone arrived in Shining Falls for abusing the authority and power he held due to his position, and Boone was tasked with removing him from the township and seeing him safely to the nearest settlement. During the journey, the two men had the chance to come to understand each other’s motives, and realised that Rebel still cared about his father but needed a focus for his energies that had not been forthcoming. If anything, Rebel is even more committed to the cause of revenge than Boone, and sometimes the icy-calm of the leader of the Death Spectres is tested to its limit in keeping Rebel from doing something reckless.

This is Butcher, he's been converted to carry a flail instead of a knife, and is standing over a random piece of tech I found in my bitz box. 

Butcher, or 'Butch' as he is often known was not, as his name suggests, the town meat seller. He was in fact the main enforcer for the one gang element to have ever gained a foothold in Shining Falls, and he gained the moniker for his inventive knife-work in that field. At the time of the massacre, Butch was languishing in a detention cell where Boone had put him, and agreed to join the Death Spectres in exchange for freedom. Although Butch is not a natural leader, it remains obvious to all that he retains a grudge against Boone himself, and is planning for the day when the grim leader of the Death Spectres lets his guard down.

This is junkyard, one of the heavies of the gang, and he's there to thin out the crowd of any close assault gangers that try to get near. He's also the only model that's not quite finished, as I need to finish sculpting his arm and the flamer strap.

One of the Death Spectre's heavy weapon specialists, Junkyard was a weaponsmith of of no small skill that was known to Boone during his days in the Shining Falls Guard. A genius at making weapons from scrap, he is somewhat less able when it comes to people skills. Boone managed to persuade him to join the gang however, enticing him with promises of being able to continue his preferred occupation whilst remaining under the protection of the gang themselves. In combat, Junkyard prefers the cleansing power of flames to destroy his foes and is a master of wielding his customised flamethrower.

This is weasel, he's the second juve in the gang, and he's been converted to carry a stub gun. He's standing behind a cut down piece of armour from a chimera.

The most recent recruit to the Shining Falls Guard, Weasel escaped the massacre completley unharmed as he was taking part in a covert assignment at the time, spying on the nearby gangs and their plans. Boone quickly made his recruitment a priority when he realised Maggot was not among the dead, and the knowledge he has provided led to many of the Death Spectre's early successes.


This is Hawg, he's the test model I painted to make sure I was happy with the gangs colour scheme, and I've since built his base to suggest him taking cover behind a barrel that's standing on some shattered deck plating.

Recruited less for his fighting ability and more for his ability to unearth archaeotech treasures, Hawg was a notable horde miner before the massacre, and scrounger without compare. Hawg therefore forms a major part of Boon's strategy for revenge, and takes responsibility for squeezing the maximum possible resource from the Death Spectre's territories.

This is Boone, the gang leader, who's been converted to carry a plasma pistol and a chainsword as he's the main close combat punch of the gang. He's standing on part of the casing from the arm of a marine dreadnought with an HK missile rack.

Regulus Boone was a modest, honest and hardworking man who happened upon Shining Falls when working as a guard on a guilder's caravan. The guilder's trade however required less protection on the return journey uphive, and several of the guards were released, Boone included. He became another statistic, mining the horde by day and occupying the town's bar by night. One day however, a brawl broke out in the Brewer's Tap and as a friend of the landlord, Boone was prominent in breaking up the fight before anyone was killed. His actions brought him to the attention of the Shining Falls Guard, and by extension the Governor. The Landlord's good word saw Boone elevated from miner to the Guard himself, and over the following months he proved to be an asset to the township, being a crucial figure in breaking up a gang that had settled into the town, attempting to wrest control of the horde from the Governor. Boone settled into life in Shining Falls well, and was a shining exemplar of someone who worked tirelessly to make the town a better, safer place.
Then came the massacre, and everything he had known came crashing down. Boone was not the first to fall that night, nor would he be the last, but he was at the forefront of the fighting in the compound, and it was only the frantic nature of the fight that saved his life. When it became apparent that they were being attacked, the Guard organised the majority of their remaining personnel into a single strike force, intended to overwhelm the Spyrers. Boone was in the front lines, and though he was cut down, the blow merely caused superficial wounds and knocked him unconscious, the Spyrers leaving him for dead to turn their attentions to the rest of their attackers.
In the aftermath of the fight, Boone became a bitter man, driven by a burning desire for revenge on the creatures that had taken from him everything he cared for. Using his unique position and knowledge of both the town and its surroundings, he quickly gathered to him a group of individuals keen to make the most of the power vacuum to claim the territory and exploit the riches of the horde themselves.
Boone's motives remain more destructive however, and he intends to see revenge at all costs, even his own life and the lives of his gang.

Finally this is vulture, the second heavy. He's also standing on a rhino hatch, and has an open ammo crate by his side to strengthen the image of a weapon with a high rate of fire.

Vulture is a sadist, pure and simple, and loves seeing others suffer. In fact, he's exactly the kind of person Boone would have avoided at all costs in his former life, but was one of the first people Boone visited when recruiting members for the Death Spectres. Vulture's speciality though is in firearms, the heavier the better, and he wields his trusty heavy stubber the way an artist would wield a brush.

In other news, I've done a bit of work on my Iron Fists, pics attached below.



And the top highlight for my bloodbowl Yhetee

I'll be back tomorrow with something tactical.

Till then remember, Chuck Norris doesn't sleep, he waits.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Massacre in Shining Falls - setting the scene.

Times are changing. Uncertainty is in the air, war is brewing.

Shining Falls used to be a beacon of safety and civilisation in the underhive, the constant stream of material and nutrients from the levels above pouring down through a rent in the hive’s fabric providing a rich stream of income for its masters, and as a result it was well-equipped and well protected. No gangs even considered trying to take over, the settlement’s guards wore full body armour and carried high quality weapons. Added to that, they outnumbered the local gangs several times over.

All that changed recently. The population of Shining Falls woke one morning to find the streets deserted, utterly devoid of the protective presence it had benefitted from for the entirety of living memory. Slowly, it became apparent that the guards weren’t coming back, and some of the braver citizens formed a delegation that made their way to the Governor’s compound. There were no guards there either, the weapon turrets guarding the gate stood silent, their protective guns unmanned, the gates themselves hanging loose from their hinges.

Cautiously entering the compound, the citizens were faced with a horrifying sight, the entire guard population of Shining Falls filled the area around the main building, but each of them lay still, brutal wounds across their bodies testament to the savage lethality of their attackers.

Amongst the carnage stood a single figure wearing a baroque suit of armour, twin blades protruding from each forearm, blood coating the blades proving that here was at least part of the force that had caused so much damage so quickly.

The figure slowly reached behind it, drawing forth a gruesome trophy, and casually tossed the Governor’s head towards the group of citizens, causing several of them to scatter from its path.

‘People of Shining Falls’ the figure hissed, its voice not much more than a whisper, but carrying effortlessly across the compound with all the dripping venomous menace of a sumpsnake.

‘You have become soft, fat on the spoils of the archaeotech horde you mine here. That will change, we have ushered in a new era of uncertainty, and you will adapt or you will die in the crossfire.’

With that, the figure sprang over the heads of the citizens with a single mighty bound, and was gone.

Since that time, the settlement had seemed like a ghost town, and any attempt to bring in outside help met with failure and the summary assassination of the instigator and in the following months, the gangs in nearby territories have gradually become more adventurous, eager to secure the archaeotech pile but wary of over-committing their strength to a failed coup.

Open war has not broken out as yet, but it is simply a matter of time before a drunken brawl becomes a lethal gunfight and gang battles break out once more in the streets of Shining Falls.


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Resurrecting necromunda and the joys of stand-up



Hi all, first I have an apology to make for missing yesterday's tactical post, however I was out enjoying Bill Bailey's latest stand up show 'Qualmpeddler' so hopefully you can forgive me.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Four games in three days - total war


Hi all, this is going to have to serve as a replacement for modelling Monday I'm afraid, partly because I haven't got a huge amount done this week. The reason for that is that whilst my wife took my young daughter to Sheffield for the day on Saturday, five guys from my club and a sixth friend spent the day gaming in Nottingham. Granted those 8 hours would have seen plenty of progress made on the iron fists, but the games were great fun played with great people in a competitive but friendly spirit.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Perception - it's big and stabby, you fight it!

http://lathander1987.deviantart.com/art/Anti-Tyranids-271367832

Hi all, and welcome to Random Wednesdays, the first of my (hopefully) regular posts on random topics to do with the wargaming hobby.

Today’s topic is perception, or in other words, why some things are apparently scarier than they should be, yet others are completely underestimated.

There are several fundamental points underpinning this topic, which are (in no particular order):
How new you are to the hobby
Where you get your information from
How influenced you are by visuals
Your playstyle
Previous experience

I’ve been a wargamer in Warhammer 40,000 since second edition, approximately 20 years ago. Since that time, I’ve played under 5 different versions of the rules, several space marines codices, and seen a very long list of models brought into the range since the early days. Without a doubt, that has tinged my perception of the game and the models opposing me – mainly because the tweaks to the rules over the years blend together and I can’t remember whether something I’m convinced of was a rule in this edition or a previous one. As such, the chances are I’m more inclined to underestimate something that has more recently been buffed to be more dangerous, or vice versa than someone who’s new to the hobby and only used to dealing with the current version of the model. Let’s dredge a couple of more extreme examples out of memory, the first relates actually to yesterday’s tactical post regarding terminator armour. When I first started gaming, terminators took their saves on 2D6, and still only needed to get 2+ (now as it happens, all weapons modified that result based on their strength, but it made shooting at termies with lasguns as pointless and difficult as the fluff would have you believe.) Whilst I’m not in the position of thinking I should be taking terminator saves on 2D6, the lasting impression I have from those early games is that terminators are really tough to kill. As yesterday’s post proved, that’s not really the case anymore but my perception of how tough they are is coloured by those experiences. Second example then is the eldar guardian. Again when I first started, these guys only took shuriken catapults as an upgrade, they came with lasguns as standard. Eldar guardians were walking ablative wounds for the heavy weapon platforms they dragged around, and the shooting of the unit itself wasn’t scary at all. Consequently, facing an Eldar army these days I’d have to concentrate very carefully to avoid discounting the threat of those massed shuriken catapults to my power armoured warriors.

The second point that affects perception then is where you get your info from, are you a web trawler? Do you listen to ‘that guy’ at your local club/GW store, or do you buy all the codices yourself and pore over them to figure out the best/most scary combinations of units and weapons. Now I’d love to say I’m in the latter group, and given the choice that’s exactly where I’d want to be. Sadly, disposable income (and time) is nowhere near as prevalent as it used to be and that’s not an option, so I’m reliant on internet reviews and people at my club who actually have the codex. Just a word of warning here, never trust a single internet review, as it will likely be as skewed by perception as anything else – trawl around and read several reviews, and more importantly try to get info from someone who’s reviewed a codex you do have and check that you agree with their conclusions before you start reading about any codices you don’t have. They may not have done their research properly, or may just have a different take on the game to you (I disagree with a lot of what’s I’ve read about grav weaponry, but that’s my perspective and it’s influenced by how I play – see later). Remember, if the person you’re talking to has misunderstood a rule, or had a bad experience with a certain type of model, than that will influence what they tell you about that army.

Thirdly is visuals. What I mean by this is what you see on the tabletop. Tyranids are the classic, and have previously even had special rules to address it in games terms, called ‘shoot the big ones’. If I set up my army opposite you, and at one end of it sits a wraithknight/riptide/gargant etc, that inevitably draws your focus. You may not have the weaponry to deal with it, or you may be able to take it out with basic squads (DE are great at taking down monstrous creatures with basic troops units) but simply the fact that it’s there and drawing your attention alters your perception of what you’re facing. Concentrating fire on something like that is great, but you mustn’t lose sight of what else is happening on the table. The simple fact is that big models come across as more threatening than small ones, even if actually the main threat comes from those smaller units. Remember, 5 of the 6 missions are objective based, and those huge models are rarely able to claim objectives. Some people are more influenced by this than others, and a full education of the rules as considered in the previous point certainly helps an objective assessment, but ultimately some players are able to tune out the visual side of the game better than others. Interestingly, I find that painted miniatures have a similar effect – if your opponent has a partly painted army, then you notice the painted stuff more than the grey – in fact I’m pretty convinced that often why freshly painted models die quicker than unpainted ones, because your opponent subconsciously notices them more. Quite simply, camouflaged models can actually survive longer because your opponent doesn’t see them. Beware though, that works both ways, because if they’re that well camouflaged, you can forget they’re on the table too!

Your playstyle also influences your perception of models and their abilities, and here’s where I’d like to talk about grav weaponry. Forgive the digression but it’s also going to branch into a little rant on list tailoring. Some models are more threatening to certain types of unit than others – let’s use the grav gun as an example – it’s ideally suited to taking out monstrous creatures and terminators due to the unique way it rolls to wound, and it being AP2. Problem is, if your opponent backs out of those choices and goes a different route your weapon is pointless. Let’s take Chaos for example as the perfect antidote to Grav weaponry. You like em, you load up on bike squads with grav guns, and centurions with grav cannons, safe in the knowledge that your opponent is playing chaos, so there’ll be lots of power armour, terminators, obliterators and demon prince(s). There’s just one problem, your opponent likes hordes, so he’s taken cultists instead. I played a Chaos army the other day with only 1 model wearing power armour, 3 obliterators and 1 demon prince. Taking lots of grav weaponry against 40+ cultists would have been like trying to kill them by beating them over the head with candy floss. If your playstyle is to take a certain type of unit (my DE include no coven units) then the threat of the opposition will change based on how good they are at killing what you’ve taken. This is why I’m a great personal fan of taking a list to face all comers instead of concentrating weaponry and units that affect certain parts of the game at the expense of others. And I’m in no way bitter when someone takes two heldrakes against my marine infantry list. Ok maybe then. Just a little bit.

Speaking of heldrakes, my final point is how your previous experience influences your perception of something. There’s a guy at our club who has a heldrake in his Night Lords list. Don’t think it’s ever done significant damage, because it has a tendency to get intercepted and shot down the first turn it arrives. If my first Heldrake experience had been against him then I think I’d have laughed off all the internet wisdom about them being threatening, ‘just shoot em down, they die easily’ I’d have said, and cheerfully ignored the threat. Fortunately that wasn’t my first experience, which was when a single Heldrake tore the guts out of my Raven Guard infantry before a very lucky lascannon shot ripped it from the sky. As such I’ve been more wary of them since, but I’ve still been burned by them (see the aforementioned game against two of the buggers, where they almost single-handedly trashed my entire force, which was comfortably on top until then).

So what does all that mean then, exactly?
Well, quite frankly it’s just been something that I’ve been thinking about recently, and if it helps one person understand their opponent better then I’ll be a happy man. The bottom line though is that in order to become a better player, I think we could all benefit from listening to more people’s opinions on things, getting good quality first hand experience, either from a codex or playing games, and actually thinking about what impact the different elements of the opposition are capable of and how to counter them. Only when all that is put together do you get a complete picture of the enemy and how you’re going to beat them.

Thanks for reading, and until next time remember, Chuck Norris’ tears cure cancer, it’s just a shame he’s never cried.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Terminator armour - is it worth it?



Ask anyone that’s played me about my terminators and they’ll laugh. I just can’t seem to pass their saves consistently, ‘1’s turning up with alarming regularity. If dice rolling were a skill then I’d happily admit it’s just not something I’m good at, but I’m not aware that it’s something you can really get wrong through a lack of talent. It’s made worse by the fact that in other instances my dice can be absurdly good, I’ve spent a whole game where my Dark Eldar’s flickerfields failed me once. Similarly, passing power armour saves doesn’t seem to be a particular problem, and I’d probably say I pass more than averages suggest I should.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Iron fists: air support


Hi all, today is the first of my Modelling Monday posts, which will hopefully be a weekly event that you look forward to.

So what have I been up to this week? Well I have mainly been working on my Iron Fists, focussing on the storm talon and captain models.

Here's the full command squad to go with captain Sakai



And the man himself, coming on nicely with not too much left to do, I will be modelling and painting the base, but wanted to get the main model finished first.



Here's the Storm Talon in all its glory, finished with just the base to paint.



And here's the armoured support, first a Whirlwind.



And then a land raider, which will eventually become a transport for some assault centurions.


Next week will see captain Sakai finished hopefully, and the base for the Storm Talon well on the way if not done. As a priority though I'll be finding some time to get my Yhetee finished for the Asgard's Wrath, having won enough in my last game to finally afford it.

Friday, 4 October 2013

MAD Bloodbowl - Asgard's Wrath vs Lions of the Three Rings

Hi everyone, and welcome to my first full match report on the performance of my Norse bloodbowl team in the inaugural MAD League.

Last night saw the mighty Norse warriors take on the girly high elves (I'm serious, the models are all female). I'm pleased to say that both teams performed appropriately to their character, with the Norse just trying to hit everything in sight and the Elves actually trying to use the ball. In fact, it wasn't until deep into the second half that an elf actually followed up a block.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

M.A.D League Bloodbowl update

Greetings all, this is the first of my irregular posts about the progress of the bloodbowl league I'm commissioning at my local club (MAD Wargames).



So far we've had seven games played and I'm pleased to say that things are working out well, casualties are high, strange plays are commonplace, and the crowd is getting involved!

Here's a brief run down of the games so far, head over to The Eternal Wargamer for a more in depth look at the Egdenberg Undertakers matches.

Match 1. Egdenberg Undertakers (undead) v Asgard's Wrath (Norse)

Two experienced coaches pretty much nullified each other here, it finished one touchdown apiece and one casualty on each side. A Norse thrower was killed and a skeleton suffered a smashed hip.

Match 2. Underworld misfits (underworld) v fester city Poxes (nurgle)
2-0 to nurgle, this game was most memorable for the pouring rain that stopped the misfits from picking the ball up at all, and one of their goblins putting a nurgle warrior in the casualty bin, though he suffered no long term effects.

Match 3. Ugly gitz (Orc) v lions of the three rings (high elf)
Carnage, absolute carnage. The high elves were leading 2-0, but casualties mounted and mid way through the second half they were unable to field the minimum number of players at the start if a drive. As such, the game counted as a 2-0 to the ugly gitz, with several elf team members dying.

Match 4. Egdenberg Undertakers v ugly gitz
Largely a one-sided affair, this match ended in a 3-0 victory for the undead. Much scrapping occurred on the line of scrimmage, with the undead's regeneration rule proving the deciding factor. Once again, one of their mummies killed an opponent, this time a black Orc. 

Match 5. Asgard's wrath v ugly gitz
Suffering rather from the match against the undead, the gitz brought in a journeyman to fill out their roster, but it didn't prove to be enough an the wrath pulled off a 2-1 victory. For the third game in a row, the gitz had a player killed on the field of play (though on this occasion it was the crowd that did the killing). One bright moment however was when the Norse attempted a risky throw down the wing near a crowd of players and after much bobbling around, the orcs managed to smuggle the ball to their black Orc, who managed to stretch his legs jut enough to reach the end zone before the defenders.

Match 6. Egdenberg Undertakers v fester city Poxes
2-1 to the undead, and the undead mummy has now killed three players (I wouldn't be at all surprised if this guys ends up with a price on his head). This time though it was the great green arkleseizure, a beast of nurgle that bit the dust. With the score at 1-1, the Poxes looked all set for the winning touchdown, but a last minute block saw the ball bounce into the crowd, who flung it to the other end of the pitch for a ghoul to run in and snatch the win.

Match 7. Fit and famous (amazon) v lions of  the three rings

Match 8. Fester city Poxes v ugly gitz
Lots of punches thrown, but the high armour of both teams meant little damage was done, the ugly gitz running out 2-0 winners with the most notable action of the match being when a Poxes pestigor fell flat on his face going for it to score in the first half.

So far we've seen pretty widespread use of the testimonial cards issued for the league, which double the winnings of the team playing it for one match, though no-one has made use if their free star player or the squig ball cards yet. 

Despite the high casualties, we've also not seen a bounty issued on any players, though with the mummy and black orcs gaining star player points quickly, that may only be a matter of time.

Two more matches due tonight, with the monster munchers (lizardmen) due to make their entry into the league.

Till next time, and remember, Chuck Norris doesn't go hunting, chuck Norris goes killing.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Codex review: Space Marines - Troops

Good evening all,
and welcome to part 2 of my space marine codex review (part 1 here) and today I'm going to be looking at the Troops section, including the dedicated transports.