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.