Monday, May 17, 2010

Blood Bowl 2010 season - Hashut's Hammers

rookie Chaos Dwarf team:
-6 Hobgoblins (240k)
-3 Chaos Dwarf Blockers (210k)
-2 Bull Centaurs (260k)

4x team re-rolls (280k)

Fan Factor: 1 (10k)

Total: 1,000,000 gold pieces, 11 players

variant #1:
-6 Hobgoblins (240k)
-3 Chaos Dwarf Blockers (210k)
-2 Bull Centaurs (260k)
-1 Minotaur (150k)

2x team re-rolls (140k)

Fan Factor: 0 (-)

Total: 1,000,000 gold pieces, 12 players

variant #2:
-6 Hobgoblins (240k)
-2 Chaos Dwarf Blockers (140k)
-2 Bull Centaurs (260k)
-1 Minotaur (150k)

3x team re-rolls (210k)

Fan Factor: 0 (-)

Total: 1,000,000 gold pieces, 11 players

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I can quit anytime I want: aka Alt-itis, the Hidden Killer

(EDIT: have fairly radically changed all 3 lists after a bit of browsing at Advanced Tau Tactica)

TAU v1: 400pts

Troops: 12x Fire Warrior Team
-upgrade one to Shas'ui w/ Bonding Knife, EMP Grenades
-Devilfish APC w/ Disruption Pod

Elites: Stealth Team x5
-upgrade one to Team Leader w/ Fusion Blaster, Bonding Knife, Hardwired: Targeting Lock, Drone Controller, 1x Gun Drone

TAU v2: 400pts

Troops: 12x Fire Warrior Team
-upgrade one to Shas'ui w/ Bonding Knife, EMP Grenades
-Devilfish APC w/ Disruption Pod

Troops: 10x Kroot Carnivores

Elites: Stealth Team x3
-upgrade one to Team Leader w/ Fusion Blaster, Bonding Knife, Hardwired: Targeting Lock

TAU v3: 400pts

Troops: 12x Fire Warrior Team
-upgrade one to Shas'ui w/ Bonding Knife, EMP Grenades
-Devilfish APC w/ Disruption Pod

Elites: 3x Crisis Suits
-2x suits w/ TL-Missile Pods/Flamer
-Shas'ui w/ Bonding Knife, Hardwired Multitracker, Hardwired Target Lock
--suit w/ TL-Flamers, Missile Pod
and EITHER:Hardwired Drone Controller, shield drone x1
OR Failsafe Detonator

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The first demo night!

Lists here - in case I forget/lose them I can look them up on my phone tomorrow:


Troops: Slugga Boyz x 12
-upgrade one boy to Nob
--w/ Bosspole, Power Klaw
-mounted in Trukk
147 pts

Troops: Slugga Boyz x 12
-upgrade one boy to Nob
--w/ Bosspole, Power Klaw
-mounted in Trukk

Fast Attack: Deffkoptas x 2
-both w/ TL-rokkit launchas
-one with Bigbomm


Scouting elements of the Recusant 113th, 395pts:

Veteran Squad #1 170pts
-Meltaguns x3, Vox-caster
-mounted in Chimera w/ Dozer Blade

Veteran Squad #2 185pts
-3x Plasma guns, Vox-caster
-mounted in Chimera w/ Dozer Blade

1x Scout Sentinel w/ Autocannon 40pts

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

War Without End League: the Recusant 113th gets it in the neck

For a few minutes there I was worried I was going to get tabled, but in the end my Traitor Guard did better than I thought they would have, and held on until the bitter end when Chris Genest's Deathwing list snatched the only objective out of 4 on the board by burning the remnants of one of my Veteran squads off of it with an extreme-range, non-scattering plasma cannon shot from his sleepy Venerable Dreadnought (who almost snoozed through the whole game, only arriving on turn 4).

But lets not put the cart before the horse. We rolled the Seize and Hold mission and the 'Dawn of War' deployment style, and Chris wisely chose to go second and keep his HQ and 2 Troops units (Belial and two squads of Deathwing Terminators) in reserve for a Deathwing Assault in turn 1. So deprived of anything to shoot at, my two Chimeras full of Veterans popped smoke and loitered near my edge of the board, while my command squad went to ground in the second floor of a ruin near my right-hand corner.

Chris then teleported his two squads of Terminators in close to my board edge, using the Assault Cannon-armed squad to hose down that ruined building, killing 3 members of my command squad and wounding my Commander.

I got fairly lucky on my reserve rolls for turn two, getting my Autocannon-armed chicken walkers, my explosive-lance armed Rough Riders, and a Penal Legion unit that I wound up criminally underusing by hiding behind a wall and only firing once in the game (NB: if you're going to have a cheap scoring unit, you need to either score with the damned thing or fling it into combat, not have it sit on its collective thumb all game). At this point I got a real taste for just how ludicrously survivable Terminators can be. Shoot 'em with whatever you want - either they get their 2+ armor save or their 5+ invulnerable save. Plus Chris was running a (wonderfully converted!) Terminator Apothecary, which means one that I could have killed with a lucky autocannon shot got to ignore that wound instead. Also, whatever I should be doing with my Rough Riders, slamming them into a CC-tooled Terminator unit probably isn't it. Maybe throwing them at the shooty squad would have been the better choice. As it was, they all got slashed to bits by Belial and the other Lightning Claw-armed members of termie unit #1. Grr...

Chris's only other unit in reserve, the Dread, failed to arrive this turn. So he made hay instead by pranging one of my Chimeras and killing like half the dudes inside in the resultant explosion (at some point his CC Termies did the same thing to my other Chimera, but I'm a bit uncertain as to whether it was this turn or the next one).

Turn 3, I brought my second HQ - a Primaris Psyker (reskinned as a Chaos Sorcerer in my Traitor Guard theme) and the lovely, lovely Leman Russ. Whatever else I've decided, I think the main thing I've learned is that my next 250 points are going for a 2nd Leman Russ and 55 points of who the hell cares, because the LR is gold. If I'd been smarter and deployed it further off to one side or another I could have really capitalized on it; even so I think it accounted for all but 2 of the 9 Termie kills I got in this game. It did much better than the sorcerer, who promptly rolled boxcars on his Psychic test and ate his own brain rather than dropping some lightning on the shooty Termie squad like I'd hoped. Still, between the lone survivor of my command Lascannon team and the rapidly backpedaling survivors of the plasmagunner Vetsquad, I think I got two Termie kills on the shooter group. Meanwhile, the CC Termies with Belial started soaking up Leman Russ fire. I'm a bit hazy on who died when, but I know that by their assault next phase this unit was down to 3 or 4 men instead of the 6 it started with.

So lets move on to that. In a really smart move, Chris launched this unit into contact with my Sentinels - which meant that since the Sentinels were walkers, he was locked in combat, and therefore untargetable by the thundering guns of my LR. Curse the craftiness of the Deathwing! Plus he was able to aim his charge so one of his Thunder Hammer termies was knocking on the sides of my LR. Fortunately he never got through the armor on the Leman Russ. One of the Sentinels went boom, but who cared. At this point I'd have been happier if he'd killed all 3 immediately, since I'd have had an extra turn to shoot him up.

We were starting to run out of actual real-world gaming time by this point, so I'm a bit hazier on what happened and when. Suffice it to say that my other two Sentinels got Luke Skywalkered to death, the LR pounded his CC Termies down to just one, and Chris ran his shooty Termies towards the midfield objective. His Dread showed up and cranked a shot at my LR that bounced off the armor; this was clearly just a ranging shot however, as the next (and final) turn he wasted 6 of my 7 Veterans off their objective, leaving one guy armed only with a lasgun and harsh language to try and fend off the Master of the Deathwing. That didn't happen, and while his other squad didn't make it to their objective due to a mediocre 'run' roll, Chris's destruction of my Veteran unit was enough to claim the one and only objective anyone held at the (slightly early) game's end.

Scattered highlights from the game for me include the moment when Chris saved against two meltagun hits from the dwindling remnants of my melta-Vet squad, but lost a terminator to their buddy and his lasgun (aka 'flashlight). I also can look back now and see a few things I should have done differently, as well as a few things I just plain old forgot about (ie using any of my Company Commander's 'Orders' to bolster my shooting). Still, it was a fun game all in all; Chris was a friendly and helpful opponent, who was able to put up with my slight unfamiliarity with the rules and helped me to remember stuff that slipped my mind. So a loss, but a good game; and that's what it's all about anyway, right?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera."

-T.S. Eliot, "Four Quarters: Burnt Norton"

But Chimeras are Imperial Guard vehicles, I hear you say. But Eliot didn't write anything about Rhinos (so far as I know), and this was the only time I could recall that he uses the word 'lament.'

Anyway. Thanks to insomnia, enjoy a few Lamenters Space Marine CP lists, built from the new Blood Angel Codex

No.1: Jump-pack Assault, 400pts ("Let us go then, you and I"))

Assault Squad #1: 5-strong (155)
-1x flamer
-sgt has Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield

Assault Squad #2: 10-strong (245)
-1x meltagun, 1x Plasma Pistol
-Sgt has Power Weapon, Inferno Pistol

nb: can split squad #2 with 'Combat Squads' rule for 3 scoring units

No.2: Tacsquad/Jump-pack Assault combo, 400pts ("Grishkin is nice: her Russian eye")

Assault Squad #1: 5-strong (155)
-1x flamer
-sgt has Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield

Tac Squad #1: 10-strong (245)
-1x flamer, 1x missile launcher
-sgt has Power Fist
-mounted in Rhino

nb: can split tacsquad with 'Combat Squad' rule for 3 scoring units also

No.3: Razorback Assault ("Apeneck Sweeney spreads his knees")

HQ: Sanguinary Priests x2 (100)
-attach one to each Assault Squad

Assault Squad Alpha: 5-strong (150)
-1x flamer
-sgt has Power Fist
-swap Jump Packs for Razorback with Twin-Linked Heavy Bolters

Assault Squad Beta: 5-strong (150)
-1x flamer
-sgt has Power Fist
-swap Jump Packs for Razorback with Twin-Linked Heavy Bolters

Lists #1 and #2 are actually kinda tempting, as they share one squad, and the tacsquad from list #2 can be built (almost) entirely out of the raft of starter set marines I have floating around the garage. List #3 would be fun to run, and I'd love to see if the Furious Charge and Feel No Pain from the Sanguinary Priests would make up for the tiny squad sizes. But it would be the most hassle to build, and while I think I could get plenty of use out of the other three component squads that make up lists #1 and #2 at higher point levels, I'm not as sure about any of the stuff for list #3.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Roxanne... you don't have to put on the Red Army

Soviet midwar lists at 1500; will be editing this post as I add new lists until I fall asleep....

Gvarrdeyski Tyazhelyy Tankovy Polk list #1 (aka the Bad Idea Express), 1485pts

HQ: 1x KV-1s (165)

Combat Companies:
-CC#1: 4x KV-1s (660)
-CC#2: 4x KV-1s (660)

Gvarrdeyski Tyazhelyy Tankovy Polk list #2 (slightly less ludicrous), 1500pts

HQ: 1x KV-1s (165)

Combat Companies:
-CC#1: 3x KV-1s (495)
-CC#2: 3x KV-1s (495)

Corps Support Companies
-CSC#1: Sapper Company, w/ 3x Sapper Platoons, Pioneer Supply horse-drawn wagon (345)

NB: or replace Sappers with:
-Strelkovy Battalion w/ 1 Rifle Platoon, 1 SMG Platoon, Komissar team, 1x Maksim HMG team, 2x Light Mortar teams (345)

Guards Tankovy Batalon, 1495pts

HQ: 1x T-34 obr 1941/42, w/ Tankodesantniki SMG team (110)

Combat Companies:
-CC#1: 5x T-34 obr 1941/42, w/ Tankodesantniki SMG teams on all (560)
-CC#2: 10x M3A1 Stuart (400)

Weapons Companies:
-WC#1: Tank-Rider Company w/ 2 Rifle/MG Platoons, 1 SMG Platoon, Komissar Team, 1x Maksim HMG team (455)

nb: drop the Stuarts to 9 (so I'm not buying an extra bag to only use 1); can add a 2nd Maksim HMG team to the Tank-Riders, pts will be the same

Guards Strelkovy Batalon (Red God of War themed, cheesy), 1500pts

HQ: Battalion HQ, w/ Company Command Rifle Team, 2iC Rifle Team, Battalion Komissar team, Anti-aircraft platoon (3x DShK AA MG on trucks) (95)

Combat Companies:
CC#1: Strelkovy Company w/ 1 Rifle Platoon, Komissar team, 2x Maksim HMG teams (200)
CC#2: Strelkovy Company w/ 1 Rifle Platoon, Komissar team, 2x Maksim HMG teams (200)

Corps Support Companies:
-CSC#1: Strelkovy Artillery Battery w/ 8x 76mm ZIS-3 and 4x 122mm obr 1938, Komissar team, observer rifle team, 2x anti-tank rifle teams, wagons & limbers, tractors (455)
-CSC#2: Reserve Heavy Artillery Battery w/ 8x 152mm obr 1943 hwzrs, observer rifle team, wagon and tractors (550)

Batalon Opocheniya (Militia Battalion, aka how much room do we have on the table anyway), 1480 and just silly

HQ: Battalion HQ, w Company Command Rifle Team, 2iC Rifle Team, Battalion Komissar team (25)

Combat Companies:
CC#1: Opolcheniya Company w/ 3x Rifle platoons, 4x Light Mortars, 3x PTRD anti-tank rifle teams, Komissar team (335)
CC#2: Opolcheniya Company w/ 3x Rifle platoons, 4x Light Mortars, 3x PTRD anti-tank rifle teams, Komissar team (335)
CC#3: Opolcheniya Machine-gun Company w/ 3 MG platoons, extra HMG per platoon, Komissar team (175)
CC#4: Opolcheniya Mortar Company w/ 2 Mortar platoons, Komissar team, observer rifle team (85)

Weapons Companies:
WC#1: Opolcheniya Heavy Mortar Company w/ 2 Mortar platoons, Komissar team, observer rifle team (90)
WC#2: Opolcheniya Anti-Tank Company w/ 6x 45mm obr 1937, Komissar team (110)
WC#3: Opolcheniya Anti-Tank Rifle Company w/ 3x Anti-Tank Rifle Platoons, Komissar team (160)
WC#4: Opolcheniya Artillery Battalion w/ 4x 76mm ZIS-3, 4x 76mm obr 1927, Komissar team, Observer Rifle team, horse-drawn wagons/limbers (165)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hypermind 40k League - not dead yet

Actually a tiny little flurry of activity and renewed player interest this week/weekend, which was nice. At the same time, I need to get off my ass and do a lot of wargaming-related stuff:

1) finish assembling and start on painting the Recusant 113th, or at least the first 1000pts or so of them. I've been coming up with all sorts of keen stuff to paint on the sides of their tanks, which would of course necessitate getting said tanks, you know, built and painted.

2) get some primer on Hashut's Hammers, my Chaos Dwarf Blood Bowl team for this year's Bloodlust Football League, as mentioned on my buddy Britt's blog.

3) paint up my Sorylians for Firestorm: Armada

4) ditto my Ork and Chaos fleets for BFG, since that's ever so slowly moving forward at Hypermind as well

So what did I spend my free time doing tonight? Making up lists for the army I'm wanting to field in the Hypermind league, of course. Hooray for the Angels of Ecstasy. Now I just need a good recipe for a nice creepy pink paintjob....

Sunday, March 28, 2010

War Without End League: lists for the Recusant 113th

Well, while the attempt to build up a 40k league at Hypermind in Burlington is stalling out, apparently The Game Connection in Knightdale has a very healthy 40k league scene. While I still want to build something up at Hypermind, I'm starting to think it's a good idea to get some more experience under my belt, both simply playing 40k and seeing how a thriving league gets run. So for a change of pace I'm about 90% sure I'll field a (Chaos-tainted) Imperial Guard list up there. Here's some tentative lists at the stated point values for the league:

Company Command Squad 100pts
w/ Regimental Standard, Vox-Caster, Lascannon Team, Commander has Power Weapon

'Primaris Psyker' (Chaos Sorcerer) 70pts

Veteran Squad #1 170pts
-Meltaguns x3
-mounted in Chimera w/ Dozer Blade

Veteran Squad #2 185pts
-3x Plasma guns
-mounted in Chimera w/ Dozer Blade

'Penal Legion' Squad (maddened cultists) 80pts

Scout Sentinel Squad 120
-3 Sentinels, all with Autocannon

Rough Rider Squad (1 Rough Rider Sgt, 5 Rough Riders) 80
-2x Grenade Launchers, Sgt has meltabombs

Leman Russ Tank 195
-w/ Lascannon, Heavy Bolter Sponsons, Dozer Blade

1250 pts: add
Infantry Platoon #1 250
-Platoon Command Squad w/ Vox-caster, Autocannon team
-Infantry Squad #1.1, w/ Vox-caster, Autocannon team
-Infantry Squad #1.2, w/ Vox-caster, Autocannon team
-Heavy Weapons Squad, w/ 3x Autocannon teams

1500 pts: add either
Infantry Platoon #2, equipped as #1 250
Ogryn Squad (1 Bone'ead, 5x Ogryns) 250

1850 pts: add
2nd Leman Russ, equipped as #1, 195
Hellhound Squad 155
-1x Bane Wolf, w/ Multi-Melta, Dozer Blade

2000pts: add
5x more Rough Riders 50
'Ratling' Squad x10 (possibly Skaven minis?) (100)

Veteran Squad #2 w/ Plasma guns
Penal Legion Squad
Full-strength Rough Rider Squad
TOTAL: 395

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Revolt on Antares #3: Psionics and Status

Bear with me. In the Revolt on Antares mini-game, the heads of each colonist House have powerful psionic abilities, and in my attempt to hack it into a RPG setting I'd like to key in on this, with the notion that the more of the 'royal blood' you've got, the higher your power level will be. I'd thought about just taking the notion of psionics as written in the Diaspora rules as a Stunt that lets you swap a skill
for another skill, and just changing that wild-card skill from Psionics to Assets.

My second idea was using it as is, and just saying that you can't buy Psionics skill at a level above your assets without some explicit Aspect ('Exiled Heir-in-hiding' or the like). This version feels like it allows for more, and more interesting, stories than the first one, and also makes powerful characters (scions of the various Houses) have to invest some real character resources in being both wealthy/powerful and being hereditarily psionic instead of the cheap freebie of the first idea.

But both of these made me wonder - is just putting Assets as your Apex (or close to it) skill sufficient to model the kind of semi-feudal overlordship I'm trying to convey? For people who aren't familiar with the game I'm emulating, maybe a decent comparison would be the head of a House in "Dune." What's the thing on Duke Leto's character sheet that lets us know he's head of House Atredies, and lets him act
as such in game terms? Is it just Assets: 5 and an Aspect (Imperial Duke)? Should something as powerful as "Head of a powerful, militarized Royal House" be a full-fledged Stunt? Or am I missing something? And how would we model someone further down the line of succession? What's on Feyd's character sheet, other than the Aspect 'Tiny Leather Underpants?'

not pictured: the na-Baron Feyd-Rautha's aforementioned tiny leather underpants


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Panthers or Tigers or StuG Gs, oh my

Eastern Front, midwar lists: should I go for a three-Tiger Schwerepanzer company (with 335 points of miscellaneous list-filler), or a 7-strong Pantherkompanie with only 185 points of other stuff, or a mixed bag panzerkompanie with even less room for hangers-on (150 spare points in the version below)? The problem with all these is that I wind up with just a tiny tiny amount of infantry - usually one smallish specialist platoon like scouts or pioneers. Are pure- or nearly-pure tank lists even remotely viable in FoW?

1943 Schwerekompanie (Heer) 1500

HQ: Company HQ: 1x Tiger I E, Sd Kfz 9 (18t) Recovery Vehicle (400)

CP#1: '43 Schwere Panzer Platoon: 1x Tiger I E (385)

CP#2: '43 Schwere Panzer Platoon: 1x Tiger I E (385)

WP#1: Gepanzarte Aufklarungs Platoon, 3 squads (6 MG teams), Command Panzerknacker SMG team, 4x Sd Kfz 250 (230)

WP#2: Panzer AA Gun Platoon, 2x Sd Kfz 7/1 (Quad 2cm) (100)

Pantherkompanie (Heer) 1500

HQ: Company HQ: 1x Panther D, Bergepanther Recovery Vehicle (210)

CP#1: Panther Platoon: 3x Panther D (565)

CP#2: Panther Platoon: 3x Panther D (565)

DSP#1: Panzergrenadier Platoon, 2x squads (4 MG teams), Mortar Squad, Command Panzerknacker SMG Squad, 3x Kfz 70 trucks, 1x Kfz 15 staff car (160)

Panzerkompanie (Heer) 1500

HQ: Company HQ: 2x StuG G, add Sd Kfz 9 (18t) Recovery Vehicle (345)

CP#1: Panzer Platoon 3x Stug G (510)

CP#2: Panzer Platoon 3x Panzer IV G(late) or H (495)

WP#1: Panzer Scout Platoon, 3 squads (3 MG teams), Command MG team, replace bikes w/ 4x Kubelwagens (150)

EDIT: interesting note on the Pantherkompanie - if I ditch the infantry and the Bergepanther, the points I'd have left are just enough to buy a 2iC Panther, which I could then use the kampfgruppe rules with (although doing so in a 8-model list might be odd at best...)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tunisia? I hardly knew 'er!

I may clean this up a bit later, but basically it's two proposed Flames of War lists for the Tunisian theater. Looking for suggestions/criticism as usual:

1500 Panzerkompanie (Tunisia) (1500)

HQ: Company HQ: 2x Panzer III L or M, add SdKfz9(18t) recovery vehicle (235)

CP#1: Panzer Platoon: 3x Panzer III L or M (345)

CP#2: Panzer Platoon: 3x Panzer III L or M (345)

WP#1: Panzer Scout Platoon: 2x Scout Squads (115)
[1 Cmd MG teams, 2 MG teams, 3 Kubelwagens]

WP#2: Panzer Pioneer Platoon: 2x Pioneer Squads (120)
[1 Cmd MG/2 MG teams, 1 Kubelwagen, 2 Sd Kfz251/7 (Pioneer) halftracks]

DSP#1: Assault Gun Platoon: 2x StuG G (340)

And someone to fight them, of course:

1500 US Tank Company (1500)

HQ: Company HQ: 2x M4A1 Sherman, add M31 TRV (240)

CP#1: Tank Platoon: 5 M4A1 Sherman (575)

CP#2: Tank Platoon: 5 M5A1 Stuart (310)

WP#1: Recon Platoon, w/ Bazooka teams and AA MGs on Jeeps (90)
[Cmd rifle, Bazooka, 2xRifle teams; M2 half, 2 Jeeps]

WP#2: Recon Platoon, w/ Bazooka teams and AA MGs on Jeeps (90)
[Cmd rifle, Bazooka, 2xRifle teams; M2 half, 2 Jeeps]

DSP#1: Armored Field Arty Btty: HQ section (swap Jeeps w/ M2 Halftracks, 3x M7 Priest (195)
[Cmd carbine team, staff team, observer carbine team; 3 M2 halftracks, 3 M7 Priest]

I wanted two armored forces, but I also wanted them to have some differences in composition and playstyle. Will these two forces be too similar to make for a fun teaching/opfor duo for me to lend out?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Missing comments

So this is weird/sucky - several comments (mostly from around the new year, and almost all of them from Britt) have vanished from my blog. Anyone more familiar with blogger/blogspot/whatever got any kind of info for me on how I can recover these?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Battlefleet Gothic

"Announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh."

Well, after some (admittedly rather disorganized) pushing to get the 40k league off the ground, maybe the smart play is to get the people who are already regular Hypermind Attendees and who already have BFG stuff to start something up as well? Who do we have, and what fleets are they planning to use?

ALTON - Space Marines (Black Templars)
JIM - I honestly cannot remember which fleets he had
STEVE - has large Chaos fleet, needs some escort ships though
ME - can bring 500pts of Imperial Navy, Chaos, and Eldar
NEW BRAD - seems like he'd mentioned BFG as well, maybe this is an opportune time to email him again?

I need to work on some way to synergize this stuff. Jim brought his copy of the BFG supplement about tying boarding parties, gamed out with 40k, into BFG - maybe when the new Battle Missions book gets here there'll be some inspiration for an update of that idea (and maybe if I win that eBay auction for a whole Necron fleet, Britt might borrow them to run tandem with his 40k Necrons for that kind of dual-game fun)?

Plus maybe we need an "Admiral's Cup" to compete with the prestigious "Golden Warboss" trophy....

(EDIT: the fact that an Al Swearengen quote came to mind for this turn of events has nothing whatsoever to do with the name of my Imperial Retribution-class Battleship, the Lord Swearengen)

EDIT #2 - added Steve to list

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Revolt on Antares #2: One Size Fits Most

I'm not as up on my current game theory stuff as I should be, but I just had a revelation about handling the Imperial Terran presence on Antares 9. Vincent Baker - who is well known in indie RPG circles for his amazing Dogs in the Vineyard, and whose Lego-based mecha-themed wargame Mechaton will be getting some love on this blog sooner rather than later - also wrote a little bit o' wonder called Rock of Tahamaat, Space Tyrant. In 'Rock', one person plays the eponymous and nearly-all-powerful Rock, and everyone else plays people who are being crushed by his tyrannical rule. The genius of the game is that mechanically, it treats the Rock differently than everyone else. He doesn't have the same type of numbers as eveyone else but 'turned up to eleven;' the game handles him in a fundamentally different manner than all the other players.

And this is the cognitive leap I had - that while it would be nice for there to be different results for any given table's version of the Imperial Terran consular government, there's not only no need for it to be delineated or generated in the same way as the Houses, it might be better for the game and the story your table tells if it's done in a totally different way! Instead of shoehorning the Terran faction into the same set of stats as the Houses, why don't we come up with some different model - something that still has room for variation from campaign to campaign, something that helps us come up with good stories for RPing OR interesting scenarios for wargaming. Maybe all we need for some nice variation on our Imperial Terran consulates is one stat! But what will that be?

To do this, maybe we should set some assumptions about the Terran role in the game. In the original boardgame, the Terrans have more and better units than any of the Houses, and have at least double the 'replacement points' of any single house as well. In two of the three scenarios of the original game, it's Terra and their hangers-on versus someone else (either the Rebel Houses in the main game, or the Silakka invaders and their hangers-on in the second scenario). Imperial Terra isn't here winning hearts and minds; in the introductory paragraph of the gamebook they're described in terms meant to evoke a sort of crumbling Roman Empire; perhaps here it'd be worth pointing out that the Terran 'leader' unit is Ward Serpentine, Imperial Consul and 'commander of the Berserkers of the Imperial Guard,' who are a stronger-than-usual Power Infantry Battalion.

Fig. 1 - Imperial Consul Ward Serpentine negotiating with Silakkan envoy

So Terra is set up to be at least partially a military overlordship, having probably come to Antares 9 and imposed, at blaster point, their rule over the Colonial Houses (who no doubt came here Lord-knows-how-long ago and did the same thing to the poor natives) and I think their military and technological supremacy needs to be a constant. It can get whittled away during the game by the acts of the PCs (or by the results of continuous campaigning in a wargame setting), but for our start-state there's just no reason to roll for it. Similarly, while the Terran forces on the planet are probably cut off from the Empire as a whole (either actually cut off somehow, or just as a result of the weakening of the Empire overall), their high 'replacements' value means they've either got access to a logistical infrastructure of their own, or at least have pretty massive reserves of both materiel and personnel they can call on in the same timescale as the Houses' resupply efforts.

So what's interesting enough to make into a variable? How about we take a cue from Mr. Baker and jump the tracks entirely? Instead of rolling for firepower or industry, why not roll for the Imperial Terran attitude?

Granted, we've already established that Terra is probably doing a lot of (if not all of) their governing by the sword. But a Consulate that's wary of the colonials to the point of paranoia is going to generate very different stories from a Consulate that's nakedly contemptuous of them. A Ward Serpentine that expects (and may one day get) backup from the rest of the Empire will behave very differently from one who suspects (or knows for a fact) he's all on his own here on Antares 9, left behind by the receding tide of a dwindling Empire.

So maybe two stats, to give us a nice 4-box x/y graph. "Degree of Contempt" on one axis, and "Degree of Isolation" on the other? What would be other interesting variables along these lines? The book itself only ever mentions the Empire in terms of it's growing weakness - would it be better to assume that whatever's on the planet is all they've got and all they'll ever have, and come up with a different variable here?

EDIT TO ADD: The Silakka - the alien invader faction - are pretty powerful too, and cry out for some kind of behavior matrix of their own....

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Diaspora Hack: Revolt on Antares

The very first 'gaming' product I ever bought was the old TSR mini-game "Revolt on Antares." While my first copy is lost somewhere in the attic or something, I grabbed a fresh copy off eBay a few years ago and have fallen in love with the setting all over again. I've made a few half-hearted attempts at figuring out some way to do some gaming in the setting - either RP, or once I stumbled into the wonderful world of 15mm sci-fi minis, tabletop wargaming. Nothing has ever really seemed to click, but I think Diaspora's version of FATE (plus its integral wargaming ruleset!) might be the way to go. I'm going to hammer away at this some here as well as on the Diaspora mailing list, and I'm actively soliciting feedback, suggestions, or just commentary on the process. I think one of the main strengths of this approach will be the player 'buy-in' as they'll be actively involved in detailing the setting, which was one of the neatest moments in our first Diaspora session.

For people who never played the original "Revolt," the bare-bones version of the backstory is that Antares 9 is on the edge of the (presumably crumbling and decadent) Terran Empire; seven noble houses, descended from the first wave of human colonists, are fighting for power and control of the planet. The leaders of each house have some fantastic over-the-top psionic ability (teleportation, electrokinesis, telepathy - a different one for each house), and each house also has some artifact of unreproducible Precursor god-tech. In the basic scenario for the original game, some of the houses revolt against Terran rule, some remain loyal, and the others get recruited into one side or the other as the game goes on. Other wrinkles in the setting include a lot of off-world (some frankly alien) mercenaries;. the (again presumably) oppressed native population of Antares 9; and gribbly tentacled alien invaders (that show up in the second scenario, but I'd certainly want to include them in my conversion).

One of the reasons I'm thinking Diaspora will be a great fit for this is that rather than sitting down and doing all sorts of background work for all seven houses and hoping that I'm brilliant enough to capture the imaginations of the rest of the players, I can hack the Cluster creation rules and let the whole table help define each house, with the help of some Fudge dice! But this takes us right up to my first issue: what are the 'stats' we'd be rolling up for each house?

Here's the only one I've gotten so far: the starting state of Loyalty. This is the key, because rather than having to sit and decide who takes which side, etc, we'll roll for it. +4 is absolute fanatical servile devotion to the Terran Throne; -4 is going to be open and total rebellion, taken to war-crime-y lengths like systematic atrocities visited on Terran civilians and/or Terry sympathizers. Zero will be 'neutral.' We'll put a 'slipstream guarantee in at this point as well: if there's not at least one House at +2 or higher and one House at -2 or less, we'll use [some algorithm that we'll determine when we figure out what the other stats are] and place a House at any needed value of +2 and -2.

Now we've pointed out my problem - I'd like to figure out what other stats need to be determined. I don't think tech is a good choice, as the original game presents each of the houses having equivalent values for their forces (in other words, everyone's laser tank battalions are as good as everyone elses), with the Terran forces being slightly better than their House counterparts. So I think tech gets a pass here. Which house gets which power is set by the original game as well, and rolling to determine which Artifact they get isn't interesting enough from a narrative point of view to bother with (if we even stick with this idea, it'll just be a flat die roll, or picking the actual chits from the original game out of a bag).

The original game does give each House a slightly different mix of forces, and the ones who have arguably 'worse' forces get more reinforcements - this dichotomy might lend itself to a 'guns or butter' stat, where +4 is an overbuilt military force that's already stretched the limits of a House economy to the point that it's unsustainable, while -4 is a House with virtually no military at all, but with tons of economic and industrial potential to be converted to a war footing in the future. The problem is that this feels a bit reductionist and silly, and I'm not sure it really passes the laugh test. I could split this into two seperate stats - 'Mercantile' and 'Military.' That would give us the possibility of having some houses be all-around powerhouses, and some getting screwed on both fronts. This doesn't replicate the game, but I want to be inspired by the setting, not shackled to it; and the thoughts of some Houses getting to be like pre-WWI Germany, with a massive military and a bumpin' economy while others get stuck being post-WWI Germany with no military and a boned economy seems like it could make for both good RPing as well as interesting fodder for wargaming scenarios. But splitting them out thusly means we're already at 3 'rolled-up' stats for each house. I'd be willing to go to four stats, but five or more feels like it would be a bit much.

Can anyone suggest any other stats that you, as a player, would be interested in knowing about a faction before you sit down to game with it? I'd thought of some sort of 'democracy' or at least 'decency' stat - while the houses are all run by the noble families, maybe something that moves them along a spectrum from 'legitimately concerned with our subjects and giving them some voice in their governance' to 'throw another serf on the fire, this one's quit screaming?' Maybe a stat for how stable each House is? While the backstory suggests that they're some sort of long-standing hereditary nobility, an unstable house might have lots of cadet branches of the main family arguing that they're the real heir?

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Later on this week I'll post something about character creation in this setting, and fish for ideas on how to handle the 'immovable objects' of the setting (the Imperial Terran Consulate, the natives, the invaders, and the mercs).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Diaspora 2: The Gazetteer (1st draft)

COMBINE (T:0, E:2, R:-1)
We called it Combine, after the generations of strife were over and we were all finally in agreement on everything important.

Now able to look outward after centuries looking in, we began to re-explore our system. Finding remnants of our former glory didn't surprise us - but finding the Slipstream beacons of the Fallen Ones did.

Their hubris destroyed them, and their children are too enervated, or too corrupt, or too complacent, to do anything more than play with their dead Fathers' abandoned toys - the same toys that killed them.

We won't make their mistakes. We learned their foreign tongue, are learning to eat their poison food, but we'll find our own way up the ladder. When we climb to the final rung, we won't be indebted to these vultures.

DESERET (T:-1, E:1, R:0)
The people of Deseret are... different. Mostly, they look human, but subtle differences make others feel on edge when looking at them directly. A lifespan of 200 to 300 years is one difference, but an extremely low birthrate (caused by 1 in 3 females being infertile) limits population. Life, at least of others of "The Chosen" (as they call themselves) is precious. The Chosen are unified by a benevolent theocracy, who worship and revere the Fathers in a constant plea that they return and take their left-behind children with them into Forever. In the meantime, though, they jealously protect their world from all others... with atomic force if necessary.

LORD CARNAVON (T:2, E:-1, R:-1)
It seems nice enough. Air's alright, suns aren't too bright (a little heavy in the UV spectrum, but nothing a little melanin tweak can't handle). It's got a slightly different version of the same ecosystem all Fathers' Kids have (not like those left-handed freaks from Combine). And the house they left - even when the household AIs followed the Fathers into Forever, the walls and floors and furniture and everything still work perfectly; still change themselves to stuff you didn't know you wanted them to change into, but damn if they don't guess right, every time.

Maybe that's why it's so horrible here.

Smart Diggers don't squat in the Old Manses. Smart Diggers truck in their own food, too. Smart Diggers wear blinders and earphones and nose filters, and basically do everything they can to stay as seperated from this place as they can.

Poke around, try and find something useful, then drug yourself to sleep every night until you can buy your way back offworld.

The Strand is the used up, burned out system used by the Fathers to fuel their society. Now it's controlled by warring families who have their hands in all aspects of life here. Nothing happens without their blessing or knowledge. Rules don't apply here. Lack of indigenous food sources have forced the Families to become the black market/money-laundering system of the Cluster. You can get anything here, but it will cost you.

NEW EDEN&trade (T:-1, E:3, R-2)
A trio of paradise worlds orbiting a glorious yellow star. The worlds themselves are the result of precise terraforming by the Fathers, but are now each controlled by competing corporations out to exploit the natural resources, both human and otherwise, to turn a profit. Life is cheap here, unless you are an executive in a corporation or a visitor at one of the resorts. The population grows weary of this exploitation, but currently lack the leadership and coordination to do anything. For now, visitors see only the pretty face of New Eden&trade, which promises to do anything, and they do mean anything, to keep their business.

TELLOS (T:2, E:1, R:4)
"Nothing is too good for my guests." This is the philosophy of Tellosian culture. Blessed with an unlimited supply of everything and wanting nothing, they have developed a society where humility is the ultimate hubris.

This is the world where the Refusers came after the Fathers went into Forever. Technology has collapsed some from the Fathers' level due to the sheer abundance. Drive has left the Tellosians and they exist to please. Society is paralyzed.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Vague recruiting post goes here

Well, I couldn't think of a better way to organize this, so here we go. If anyone is interested in joining any of the minis fun we're trying to get set up at Hypermind, just reply here. We're trying to start with a Combat Patrol league for Warhammer 40k, but I'd like to expand in the future to things like:

Warhammer Fantasy
Battlefleet Gothic
Heavy Gear
Flames of War

and other stuff as well; if there's something you're interested in that's not listed, please feel free to reply and tell me about it!

If you're interested in any of this stuff, just reply here, let me know who you are, some form of contact info (email works best), and which minis gaming you're interested in!

Thanks in advance!

Ken Coble

Thursday, February 11, 2010

WWI Naval gaming, and naval-style gaming in general

Late last year I read Robert Massie's Dreadnought, and I'm currently about halfway through with his Castles of Steel, so of course I'm looking into some WWI (and maybe some pre-dreadnought) naval gaming. I ordered a copy of the "Dreadnought" rules by Ben King, and am grabbing two more rulesets in PDF (Grand Fleets and Naval Thunder) later this week. Once the rules get here I suppose I should start figuring out what scale to go with, although I'm looking at the lovely Navwar 1/3000th scale offerings.

All this has sort of revived my interest in several different naval (or faux-naval) wargame settings; when I ordered the "Dreadnought" rules I also gave in and grabbed a set of GW's Napoleonic-era naval wargame "Trafalgar," as well as digging out my old Battlefleet Gothic stuff and taking a serious look at it, and the BFG rules, for the first time in a long time. I'm also eagerly awaiting Catalyst games upcoming dieselpunk/WWI-ish game of giant flying ships, Leviathans. This style of gaming is something I've got no experience with at all, but it seems like an interesting area to explore.

A detour: Diaspora cluster creation mini-game

"Mini-game" not in my normal sense of "game with minis," but in that it was designed by its authors to be the separately playable world(s)building portion of the wonderful Diaspora Role-Playing Game (which, to be fair, does actually include a wargame system utilizing a modifed version of the FATE system, which I hope to try out sometime this spring when/if I ever get any of my 15mm sci-fi stuff painted up). Chris N, Tom G and I sat down during boardgame night this week, broke out our Fudge dice, and took a stab at it.

Briefly, Diaspora is a sci-fi RPG, with only the barest of background details. Humanity has spread throughout the galaxy (hence the name) and systems are connected by 'slipstream points' allowing limited instantaneous travel between connected points. Each Diaspora 'campaign' is set in a small cluster of such colonized systems, and the Cluster creation mini-game is how the table generates and conceptualizes those worlds. You roll for three stats (Tech level, Environment, and Resources), discuss how you're interpreting those stats for the world/system, then roll to connect the systems to each other and discuss the implications of those connections. (Those of you interested in playing along at home should buy the book, obviously, although the creators were kind enough to release a SRD you can look at while deciding on your purchase.)

Since we only had 3 people, we went with two worlds each, for a small cluster of 6 planets. To be fair, we actually threw out our first set of results, as the Fudge dice gave us all a very, very flat set of values, and we wanted a bit more 'oomph' in the stats we were playing with - our first 6 planets had no values above +1 or below -2. Our second set gave us what we thought of as more interesting numbers (although we did have to invoke the Slipstream Guarantee, giving two of our planets advanced enough technology to be able to use slipstream travel), so we ran with them. I'll list the finalized Aspects here as well, although there was plenty of change right until the end of the process:

COMBINE: {0,2,-1}
-Legitimately Foreign
-Totally Unified
-Meiji-era Japan - IN SPAAACE

LORD CARNAVON*: {2, -1, -1}
-Combat Archaeology
-Too Perfect
-Scraping the Bottom of Someone Else's Barrel

THE LESTER STRAND: {0, -3, -1}
-Ghost Town
-Cattle Barons

TELLOS: {2,1,4}
-"No, no - it's on me"
-Hand-me-down Utopia
-Potlach Society

DESERET: {-1,1,0}
-Don't Tread On Me
-Failed Experiment in Transcendence
-Untapped Potential

NEW EDEN&trade: {-1,3,-2}
-Revolution is Right Around the Corner
-Playground of the Idle Rich
-Going All the Way to Get Your Business

(*Lord Carnavon was called 'Junkyard Prime' most of the way through the creation process, until the table drastically rewrote our interpretation of its stats and it's place in the cluster's history - more on this in the writeup)

The two planets blessed by the Slipstream Guarantee were the fantastically wealthy Tellos system and the sort of raggedy Junkyard Prime. Junkyard Prime was immediately described as being the relict former home of a Transcended faction, and the T2 didn't represent an actual working technological base so much as the organized scavenging of the leftover artifacts of the Transcendants that we came to call "The Fathers." Tellos, the other Slipstream-capable system, was obviously the current center of power in the cluster, with a sustainable technological base that we later decided was also based on the Fathers' old technology, but with more of a capability to produce their own new stuff than the grave-robbers of Junkyard Prime.

Deseret, one might argue, was the seed crystal for the theme which grew to encompass the whole cluster (and even our last minute decision to make Combine an explicit outsider to this theme just seemed to reinforce the theme further). The pseudo-Old West theme its name called out wound up being a major thread of our cluster, growing to influence both the Lester Strand (specifically referenced in its first Aspect, "Ghost Town," and later used as fuel for its internal political situation as "Cattle Barons") and at the very end of the design sequence by helping to push Combine from its original conception as a sort of British Empire/Soviet Ukraine analog (don't ask) into a hard-charging Victorian (and therefore Old West-appropriate) Japan as seen through the lenses of The Difference Engine and Red Sun. The insular hillbillies of Deseret, complete with orbiting atomic platforms as the reskinned shotguns toted by a suspicious homesteader warily greeting some stranger come to his front doorstep, wound up being the hidden repository of the Fathers' biological experimentation. Low birth rate, two- to three-hundred year lifespans, and who knows what other alterations may be hidden in the junk introns of their DNA?

New Eden&trade probably changed the least over the course of the creation process, but it had such a wonderfully perfect and spot-on role from the beginning that all the table could do is refine it a tiny bit. With three garden worlds, the system was pictured as a luxurious resort from the beginning; also present from the beginning was the image of the simmering resentment of an increasingly exploited service-industry underclass. As we started to tie everything in the cluster in with the story of the Fathers, I think we agreed that New Eden&trade's utterly unlikely bounty was the result of early practice in planetary engineering by those Transcended busybodies.

The Lester Strand, mentioned in passing before, was visualized as being a mined-out system, stripped bare by those same busybodies as they went about the process of running up the staircase to godhood. As a crumbling, clapped-out asteroid belt, it tied into both the Western theme as well as our continuing story of how the Fathers altered everything in the cluster. Originally we saw it as being like a Chicago gangland, but actually the day after we did cluster creation Tom G realized that a better note than 30's Chicago was the classic Western trope of the warring Cattle Barons. Stranders barely have enough resources to survive, and as things continue to creak along they're having to trade even some of those scarce resources for the simple necessities of life.

Tellos wound up being the next-to-last place the Fathers were messing around with before their apotheosis, and by now they'd gotten things almost perfect. Packed with resources (probably stripped from the Lester Strand), with a single lovely planet and the technological base to exploit slipstream travel commercially, they're the dilettante overlords of the rest of the cluster. Originally populated by the Refusers (those who didn't want to Transcend), whose descendants make up the moden population, Tellos has an elaborate reputation economy based on humility and generosity. Naturally, this pisses off the hardscrabble inhabitants of virtually everywhere else in the cluster to no end.

Right up until the end of the creation session, we were calling Lord Carnavon "Junkyard Prime." Late in the session, however, the table turned this idea through 180 degrees - rather than being marginally habitable due to ecological collapse, the planet (no longer a junkyard) is actually still in the pristine condition the Fathers left it in. It's just that the degree of perfection the Fathers engineered for their day-to-day lives is toxic to normal humans; not poisonous to the body, but to the psyche. Diggers live in windowless bunkers and drug themselves to sleep. When they go outside to search for usable artifacts they do all they can to insulate themselves from the world with earplugs, nose filters, and visors. From here we moved from talking about it in terms of a junkyard, and more in terms of grave robbery and the Mummy's curse - hence the last-minute rename to Lord Carnavon.

Finally, Combine, which never quite seemed to fit into the rest of the Cluster, got revamped so that it actually never was. Unlike the other five systems, which were basically the Fathers' backyard garden/laboratory, Combine was discovered but never contacted by the Fathers (possibly the slipstream link was one of the Fathers' last grand experiments before they got bored with this universe). We noticed that the other five systems in the cluster were either explicitly balkanized, run by warring coporations, or were mere coalitions of individual groups; so to run counter to this we made Combine a tightly-organized unified world government. We also decided that while the other five worlds in the cluster all descended from the same founding population (and were therefore fairly homogeneous), that Combine's population were part of some totally separate branch of the original human Diaspora that no doubt stabilized into a different 'melting pot' state, and so they look totally different from the rest of the cluster. During the final writeups we even toyed with the idea of making them chiral to the branch of humanity found in the cluster (using right-handed proteins and left-handed sugars), but whether they're that different or not, they certainly view themselves as being different (and better, in their own minds), than the relicts of Fathers' Children.

So again, we had a blast. The cluster creation mini-game is a ton of fun, and a great tool for getting the table to come up with weird stuff you wouldn't get with just one person having to handle world-building. It also does a neat job of encouraging the whole table to be involved with each world, while fuzzing the boundaries a bit so people don't feel like they're the sole and final arbiters of what goes on on 'their world.' Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I noticed we did tend to defer to the 'originator' of each world a lot. We still had fun, and still gave and accepted a lot of input among the table, but I wondered if another step (something like everyone rolls up their planets, then hands those raw rolls to the person on their left, or mandating that at least one aspect per planet come explicitly from another player, or something) might help decrease the ownership issue? Again, this presumes that people find it problematic - I don't think our table found it to be a problem, but I did think on reflection that we were probably a bit more invested in 'our worlds' than the Platonic ideal group would have been.

Thoughts/feedback are of course totally appreciated - while I've got my (tiny) core readership who come for the minis gaming stuff, I'm linking this to the Diaspora mailing list, and if you come here from there feel free to comment, or even just say hello!

EDIT TO ADD: I realize I left out the cluster map - which is fine because I cannot find the app I saw once that would draw them for you, and there's no way I can freehand one. Suffice it to say that we uniformly rolled high for connections, with no world having less than two direct connections (Tellos) and a hub connected to four seperate worlds (Lord Carnavon). I'm trying to recall if we specifically said so or not, but I have a vague memory that we cited this high degree of interconnectedness as another relic of the Fathers' screwing around with T4+ grade science to make their little pocket of lab worlds easier to navigate. If someone could point me to the app I'll happily post the cluster map here!

EDIT #2 - thanks for pointing me to the cluster gen software, Brad! Here's our map:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Loaner Lists and the Build Queue

I suppose Mark G. will be the person to ask about these, since he'll be the one borrowing them, but here we go just so they see the light of day:

CHAOS SPACE MARINES: (Alpha Legion, 400pts)
Troops: 8x Chaos Space Marines
-Asp Champ with PF
-mounted in Rhino w/ Havoc Launcher

Elites: 5x Chosen
-3 flamers, 2 meltaguns
-mounted in Rhino w/ Havoc Launcher

The Chosen can infiltrate, or outflank if held in reserve. And the two missile-armed Rhinos might be a big plastic hassle for people to deal with at this level. But it's a small list, only 13 minis, and only 8 of them are scoring.

SPACE WOLVES: (13th Company, 400pts)
Troops: Grey Hunters x10
-flamer, plasmagun
-power fist

Elites: Wolf Scouts x10
-plasma pistols x2

Like the Chosen, the Wolf Scouts can infiltrate or outflank, or even come in from the enemy's own board edge using their special rules. They don't have quite the ranged punch of the Elites, and they don't come with their own transport, but then again there are 5 more of them.

These lists are a fair amount alike; both have a mobile Elite element that will probably get devoted to anti-vehicle work before turning on any remaining infantry. The CSMs have more punch, but might be more brittle, since they have only 13 men to the Space Wolves' 20. On the other hand, the CSM have an extra APC, and both of them are much shootier than the Space Wolves' vanilla ride. Both of these lists will have the (mild) added complexity of the Infiltrate/Outflank rules to deal with, but I don't think that will make them too much of a headache for a starter army.

I've also toyed with pulling two of the Wolf Scouts and their Rhino; if I did this, I could give them an 8-strong unit of Fenrisian Wolves for some additional melee punch, as well as an additional maneuver element. But at the moment, I'm not sure that losing the mobility of the Rhino for the only scoring unit is worth the addition. They'd certainly be the 'sideboard' unit for this list.

And storyline-wise there's no problem with them; having spent the past 10,000 years or so in the Eye of Terror, I'm sure any Emperor-fearing Sister of Battle would attack these guys first and ask questions later. Frankly, I'm starting to sell myself on these guys; if Mark doesn't want to play them I might (especially since all my Dark Angel stuff is on hold in case the current rumors about them getting a new codex sometime this summer wind up being true).

Oh, and the third possible list, in case Mark surprises me and wants to go swarmy:

TYRANIDS: (Hive Fleet Name-to-be-determined-later, 400pts)
Troops: Genestealers x10
Troops: Termagants x18
Troops: Hormagaunts x20
Elites: Zoanthrope x1

The Zoanthrope will act as a half-assed synapse creature to keep the gants and gaunts on a slightly shorter leash than their instincts would permit; it'll also be a potential anti-vehicle unit assuming the stealers don't crunch the vehicles up first. They'd be even more straightforward than the two lists above, and having 4 units instead of 2 will probably be at least a little useful (particularly when 4 of them can hold objectives). Also, I priced this list out from memory - I might be 10 points off on the price of the Zoanthrope, which means two more gants have to go bye-bye (or two gaunts, and suffer the indignity of running a 398-pt list instead of using all 400). One of the best things about this list is that it's already built, and Nids are supposed to be tailor-made for the dip method of painting.

As for the Traitor Guard, I think they'd be too wonky for someone who doesn't own the rulebooks to work with for a first-time list; I must admit, however, that they look better and better. My Eldar are, conversely, looking worse - I'm just not sure that the two Vypers in that list can reliably (or even semi-reliably) handle 2+ Penitent Engines. Of course, having said that, I do have the odd notion of replacing one block of Dire Avengers with some Fire Dragons, and using the Vypers to mow down infantry like Khaine intended....

Friday, January 22, 2010

Putting the cart before the horse

This one is more of a reminder for myself than a real blog entry, for which I apologize to my 1.5 current readers (the .5 assumes that Chris Norwood is still in fact reading these from time to time). But in the process of stumping for the 40k CP league, I've run across some other possible minis gamers at Hypermind:

-Two potential Battlefleet Gothic players - Jim, who Britt told me was a BFG player and Brad, who I spoke to at Hypermind this Tuesday, mentioned he used to be a big BFG player and still had his Imperial and Chaos fleets.

-and one potential Warhammer Fantasy Battles gamer, Beth whose last name I can't remember, but who's a semi-regular at boardgame night.

I'm interested in playing both of these systems - although it would be kind of silly to do anything concrete with WFB at the moment, since I think it's all-but-officially been announced they're getting a new core rulebook this summer. But a few pickup games of BFG - which I've long heard being touted as GW's best ruleset next to Blood Bowl - would be a nice little addition.

Still, I guess the main point of this is that there's at least some small current of minis gaming, even among the people at Hypermind who come for the board and card games. I'm considering making up two poster/broadsheets to ask Denise to hang up now - one for the specific CP league stuff, and another, more generic one, about other stuff such as BFG and WFB. If we could get Thursdays to be 'minis night' and get a quarter of the participation that Tuesday's boardgame night gets, I'd be thrilled stupid. Chris, if you are still reading these posts, I'd sure like to get some pointers from you on your efforts promoting and organizing the Tuesday night wingding.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Combat Patrol League: inching towards Doomsday

Fortunately, Britt has sharper eyes than I do, and noticed someone painting up some Sisters of Battle at Hypermind yesterday. Brad (the gentleman in question) did seem interested in joining in once we got a firmer idea of what nights we'd play (he also mentioned Battlefleet Gothic, but that's a post for another day). Mark G. also seemed like he'd at least be interested in playing a few scrimmage games with a loaner army, and possibly joining the informal league; and finally original Brad said he'd want to use my Orks while he works on getting his built. So, preliminary interest and armies seem to be:

Britt: Sisters of Battle
original Brad: my Orks
new Brad: Sisters of Battle
Chris Knight (who we met at the 4 corners game): can't recall what army, although Space Marines sounds right for some reason
Mark G: whatever I foist off on him, I guess, although I will get some feedback from him next Tuesday if he's got any preferences and if I've got stuff that would fit
myself: whatever I don't foist off on Mark G, yet can still fight Penitent Engines (bane of the tables that they are)

So here's six players, one overlapping army (which is no problem, in my opinion - presumably Britt's SoBs and Brad's SoBs can try and burn each other to death over which hymnal they're supposed to be using this century), and I've got to figure out two more 400-pointers to finish up in a semi-timely fashion, along with my poor Orks that I'm going to be fostering out. I'm not going to use my Berzerkers, or hand them off to Mark, as I still think they're a bit one-note and cheesy in this format. My Eldar are almost assembled, so I think I'll go with them, and maybe I'll make a non-Berzerker Chaos Marines list for Mark's loaner - although I did get the new Nid codex last week, and I've actually got everything built to make a passable CP list for them already. I still would like to see the Guard make an appearance, but I've only come up with two lists for them, one of which is a static autocannon spam gunline with a borderline-cheesy three Chimeras, and the other of which is a probably almost impossibly gimmicky and unwieldy collection of convicts, veterans, Sentinel walkers and explosive-lance-wielding cavalry (which, to be fair, will probably be much more fun and characterful for Traitor Guardsmen than the disciplined gunnery one). If anything, that one might replace Eldar for my pick, assuming I don't wuss out and run the easy-to-paint Nids instead of either of them.

This looks disturbingly like the nexus of a decent little 6-person ladder league as Britt envisioned last year. Maybe now I should start working on firming up commitments, and trying to nail people down to Thursday nights; or conversely, get everyone to tell what nights work best for them and try to reach some consensus that way.

The next question is how to handle our rosters. I guess there's two main ways to approach this - either everyone turns in a master list at the beginning of the league, and sticks with it for the whole thing, or we allow some degree of change. I don't particularly want to end up with people custom-tailoring their lists to fight whoever's going to be their next opponent (not to mention that since I'm going to be providing half the armies in the league, I've got no real desire to be retooling three lists every week), but I'd hate for people to realize they don't like their force composition and yet be stuck with it for the foreseeable future. Maybe we can declare some sort of halfway point where everyone can totally rewrite their list, so long as it's still the same Codex they started with? Give everyone one or two free rewrite tokens, which they can cash in whenever? In any event, in the interest of fairness I'll finalize my list first and hand it off to someone unaffiliated, then collect initial lists and vet them for point totals, adherence to the CP rules, etc.

Hopefully we can maybe get this cranked up by late February? It's interesting that we're slowly unearthing people at Hypermind who play - one can only hope that real live games will flush more closet 40k players out of the woodwork!

EDIT TO ADD: assuming arguendo that we get 6 players and make a little 3-2-1 triangular ladder as per the 'War Without End' format GW mentions, how should we fill the board for this first informal league? Right now I'm frankly thinking just a pure random draw to populate the board, but I'm open to other suggestions. Also, what order should challenges be resolved/played in? For example, Players 4 and 5 (third rank) both issue challenges to player 3 (2nd rank); deciding whose challenge resolves first might be a significant decision, but at the same time, real-world issues might dictate who will have time to meet up in a given week. Or am I just borrowing trouble by thinking about this stuff this early, and should I just wait to resolve such possible 'problems' if and when they occur?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Talk me out of this

Someone please talk me out of this.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A brief interruption for new content

Got a nice heavy box in the mail yesterday from, containing two really sweet looking Old Glory 15mm armies: mid-Republican Romans and Late Carthaginians. Earlier I think I mentioned that first game of Napoleon's Battles as my true move into full-on grognardism; however, I think the two bags of triarii I got yesterday, complete with piano wire spears, are the real descent into madness. I'm planning on using them with the Field of Glory rules. (Interestingly, while I'm sort of pushing uphill to get the 40k thing started up, Brett from Hypermind and my old buddy Steve have both, totally unprovoked and without lobbying on my part, expressed interest in some wargaming with this ruleset. I've actually lent all my FoG books to Steve, and he probably knows the rules better than I do at the moment.)

Also included was a copy of Sam Mustafa's "Might and Reason," a set of 18th century wargaming rules. I've barely skimmed them so far, but they look interesting - there's a nice initiative system, and each turn is made up of a variable number of sub-turns, or 'pulses.' It seems like it should do a good job of mitigating the 'I-go/U-go' problem, without being too cumbersome. The other thing I've skimmed is the campaign system. There are actually two of them - one a way to model a year's campaigning in a particular region, the other a method to run a large Europe-wide (or possibly worldwide, if I read it right) campaign of up to eight players. The problem with this second system is that it's predicated on using a boardgame called "Soldier Kings" as an integral part of the grand campaign system. I guess it won't be a huge issue, as playing the grand campaign stuff isn't on the radar for the foreseeable future, but I do wish it had been more self-contained. Also, Soldier Kings is listed on the Geek as a playtime of 4 hours, so I don't see being able to work it in boardgames night at Hypermind anytime soon.

Just so I don't sound overly negative, I do really like what I've read of the rest of the rules - they look simple enough to be quick to pick up. The book itself is nicely organized and laid out, and is full of little gems like the random battle naming table (Unterhunddorf will fall!) and some good historical primers (which makes sense, as Mr. Mustafa is a history professor). There's a nice list of rated officers for the various nationalities, and while there are only two scenarios in the book, there are several more offered for free on the game's website, as well as two free expansions for adapting the rules to other locales and conflicts (such as the War of Spanish Succession, or the wars of the Ottoman and Persian Empires). I'm looking forward to grabbing some 6mm dudes and slugging it out - maybe the War of Jenkin's Ear?

Finally, while I've been too shiftless to get my German list finalized for Monday's game (tonight, I swear!) in the interests of fairness/full disclosure/all that happy nonsense, here's my new Ork list that will hopefully be less horrible against crazy people bolted into spinny cutty burny things like Penitent Engines:

ORKS REDUX, 399pts
Troops: Slugga Boyz x 12
-upgrade on boy to Nob
--w/ Bosspole, Big Choppa
-mounted in Trukk w/ Wrecking Ball
137 pts

Troops: Slugga Boyz x 12
-upgrade one boy to Nob
--w/ Bosspole, Power Klaw
-mounted in Trukk w/ Wrecking Ball

Fast Attack: Deffkoptas x 2
-both w/ TL-rokkit launchas
-one with Bigbomm

We'll see if the ability to get around the table a bit faster does any good, or if it just gets me cut into steaming green bits that much quicker... If Brad doesn't run Orks in the league, I think this will be the Ork list I use. If he does, I guess I need to get into R&D on something else!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Playing catch-up #4: Combat Patrol for the first time

I am in a mad dash to get current before Monday, when the plan is to get in some Flames of War and some Warhammer 40k Combat Patrol; so I'm going to try and churn these things out pretty fast. Fortunately, this one will be short, since it was a total learning/practice game. Britt brought a Vindicare Assassin (basically a super-bad-ass sniper) and two ten-strong units of Sisters of Battle. I brought two eight-man squads of Khorne Berzerkers. We lined up on opposing table quarters with no real cover and started rolling.

Already I'm taking some pretty big casualties, despite being in power armor. Fortunately (and cheesily) Berzerkers effectively don't take morale checks, so I didn't really care; I kept popping bolt pistol shots into the groups, not really caring if they landed or not since I was just desperate to launch an assault. Unfortunately I inadvertently cheated, having my right-hand unit of Berzerkers both run and assault during their second turn. While I think I was probably in charge range anyway, this could have made a big difference - either another turn of rapid bolter fire, or a spoiling charge, might have changed the outcome pretty drastically.

The results of my perfidious behavior - each of my squads launched an assault on one of Britt's squads, and the Berzerkers' simply goofy amount of attacks (three, four on the initial assault) took over. Britt's Vindicare keep shooting into the melee, but there wasn't much he could do at one kill a turn. The left-hand Berzerkers killed their way through their victims, and prepared to turn on the Vindicare while their slowpoke comrades kept chainswording their way through the remainder of the Emperor's most devoted servants.

Eventually the surviving Berzerkers took down the Imperial Assassin with a flurry of bolt pistol fire, which seemed anticlimactic but was probably smarter than giving him another round to pinata-stick their noggins.

If, at this point, you find yourself feeling bad for the Sisters of Battle, bear in mind that this act of martyrdom would apparently piss the rest of the chapter off to no end, as they prepare to beat the whiz out of all comers for the rest of these batreps (and possibly the foreseeable future).

Playing catch-up #3: Illinois Nazis

"I hate Illinois Nazis."

Not much of a batrep here. Poor Britt spent at least ten minutes setting up all his Soviet Strelkovy Battalion, digging in and prepared to fight tooth and nail for the Rodina. I cleverly (hah!) diluted my already numerically weak forces even more by using the German "Kampfgruppe" rule in an attempt to gain superiority in maneuver elements. The plan for this game was to also introduce artillery, so that I could start to learn the FoW rules for it; my force had some 10.5cm cannon, and Britt was fielding the dreaded Katys. You can even see the artillery template on the table, here at the end of turn one when things were already falling apart for me:

I basically wasted my 105s on Britt's light tankovy company - miraculously getting a kill on one of them, but not slowing them down at all. Instead they forged ahead and began blowing the jeepers out of the two units I was trying to roll up my right flank, killing two out of the three Panzer IVs I had left after peeling one off for a singularly ineffective Kampfgruppe on the left flank.

The next turn it got worse, as the last Panzer IV got hosed by the remaining six T-70s (I think that's what they were) of Britt's Tankovy company. My Gepanzerte Panzergrenadier platoon took a hit too, losing one of their three halftracks; and if memory serves they failed a morale check and ran the hell away in fine Teutonic fashion, instead of occupying the woods commanding the fordable portion of the river as initially planned.

Meanwhile, on my left flank, my kampfgruppe and another platoon of panzergrenadiers (mounted in Kfz 70 trucks) had bogged down under withering MG fire from Britt's Soviet infantry, who were dug in like ticks all along his deployment zone, as well as sporadic bombardment from Stalin's Organs (I guess that sounds less dirty in German? maybe not), the annoying Katyushas.

By this point I'd killed one tank, lost virtually all my armor (the tank I had left was pinned since the infantry carriers in the rest of his Kampfgruppe were pinnable), and had basically nothing that could realistically oppose Britt's virtually unscathed horde of valiant pesants, so I threw in the towel and we played a game of Space Hulk (which will eventually get a writeup here, despite arguably being a boargame rather than a wargame).

Wrap-up? I made some pretty big mistakes, and did some abysmally bad shooting with my tanks prior to getting them all shot out from under me. I also totally misused my arty; while it wouldn't have made too much difference, I'd have been better served by using it to shell Britt's densely-packed infantry, and saved shots on his tanks for later (presumably shooting over the open sights as they came barreling down my right flank, but no matter). But basically, Britt rolled through me like the Bluesmobile through the Illinois Nazis.