Monday, April 25, 2011

BattleTech Quick Strike Rules, o how I love thee

Seriously, what a great ruleset. I cannot understand why there's not a separate, perfect-bound $20-or-so book with just what you need to run a Quick-Strike game; instead you have the 450-page Strategic Ops book, either in PDF or in the dog-killingly-big hardback. Even the PDF is less convenient than it should be, as the QS rules are scattered throughout the dang book. The ten or so pages of the actual rules have multiple call-outs to multiple tables and subsidiary rules interlaced through the rest of the 450-page tome.

And yet if they could cram all that stuff into one easy-to-use place, I think it would sell like gangbusters, because a big percentage of gamers today don't have the time or the energy for a fetishistically detailed system like Classic BattleTech. But if you told them "hey, you can run a two or three lance (eg, 8-12 mech) game in two hours or less with these rules" I really do think they'd be a big hit. There's sort of a hex-based version of the rules in the starter box, which is a step in the right direction, but I'd be happy to buy a stand-alone product with these rules laid out in a neat, logical fashion.

So the reason I'm talking about this, is that my friend Britt is organizing a sort of campaign/league hybrid thing this summer, with six of us sort of loosely running the War of 3039, a canonical conflict just before the Clans showed up and ruined the storyline. Two of us, namely Darren and myself, met up at Hypermind in Burlington to play a little mindless 'kill em all' skirmish with the rules to get familiar with them. I'd played them once a few months ago at a demo game and immediately fell in love, despite my really atrocious job of running the recon lance I got assigned. Darren is an old BattleTech hand, most recently having played a lot of the MechWarrior clicky iteration of the game. Both of us threw together 100 Build Value (which QS uses instead of the classic tonnage system) 2-lance forces and lined 'em up on a 3'x3' mini-table (due to the Saturday crowding at the store from all die Kartenspeiler).

There's really not much to say in terms of an after-action report; with no objectives other than KILL and only a smattering of terrain, we did what you'd expect and formed several of BattleTech's trademark "Conga Lines of Death*" through the eight turns of the game. We found a few things we need to check into (like how a critical hit on Weapons is supposed to interact with the mechs that have some of their weapons broken out into separate entries, rather than the consolidated rating for most other mechs), and we also found out that ammo explosion and headshot crits are still a Bad Thing. We also did some playing with the melee rules, particularly charges and the fan favorite Death From Above. Some of these worked better than others, and frustratingly they both referred to a table in some portion of the book about 200 pages away from the Quick Strike rules. Gaaahh....

I also found out that my iPhone has a really astoundingly wide range of picture quality; at some point I need to find my little point-and-shoot and start carrying it to these things because while the pics look ok on the small iPhone screen they look like trash on the monitor here. Rather than try to salvage them I'll just append them all to the end of this post for the truly dedicated reader (and later I may even go through and shop in some tags or at least colored circles to distinguish the two forces, since we were both running the classic urban camo pattern of 'not painted yet').

* the "Conga Line of Death" is when one mech can get in the rear 60 degrees of another for bonus damage; frequently once one mech does this, an opponent can then do so to them, and then someone can do it to that mech, etc.

Turn 2. Offscreen to the left, around the back of the low hill whose edge is just visible, is my 'recon' lance. In this turn both of our Grasshoppers will absorb the majority of each others' successful fire.

Turn 3. Conga lines already forming; also notice our two biggest mechs (my Atlas and Darren's BattleMaster) are bumping chests in the middle of the right-hand scrum. Our Grasshoppers (we both fielded them) have enterprisingly jumped in behind each other's big bruisers for some backstabbery fun.

Round 4. By this point I'd gotten a very lucky ammo explosion result on Darren's BattleMaster. Our biggest Conga Line is formed here. Notice the yellow rubber bands used to differentiate my Dragon and Grasshopper from Darren's. A recurring question from onlookers (particularly onlookers under the age of 12) was 'how can you tell your robots apart?' O the shame of an unpainted army.

Turn 5, I think? Maybe 6? The big Conga Line has dissolved, with both of us losing our Grasshoppers as well as some other stuff if memory serves. Notice that my Cicada, which we last saw getting mugged by Darren's Reseen Shadow Hawk at the corner of the hab-block, is now downscreen left on the low hill helping my Zeus pin his Griffin. I think I fell in love with that speedy little bastard at this point.

By this time most of Darren's mechs were pretty beat up. I'd been fortunate in my dicing, and he was less so. He'd scrubbed all the armor off my Atlas by now, so I was moving at 3" per turn, shooting at -2 to damage, and was just waiting for another crit to finish the poor thing off. I'd also had a minor brain hemorrhage at this point apparently, and not only did I give him a key shot at the back of my Banshee, I'd also left it with no targets whatsoever, which is really dumb since by this time I'd realized it was better as a melee attacker than using its weapons. Dumb.

The valiant end of Darren's lone surviving Shadow Hawk, who died with appropriately Kuritan honor by killing my one-point-of-structure-left Atlas just as the Hawk fell under the Atlas's mighty fist. Worse was that I'd forgotten that due to multiple 'Weapons Hit' criticals Darren's Hawk could only attack in melee, so handing him my 19BV Atlas was another genius move on my part. Clear moral victory for Darren, if you ask me.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Games Workshop: phasing out metal minis?

I cannot imagine that this blog will provide a source of late-breaking hobby news for anyone, but I learnd something interesting yesterday when I went to pick up my order at All Fun and Games. Apparently Games Workshop (the 800-pound gorilla in the minis wargaming room, for those of you who don't know) are moving away from at least part of their metal minis production. The stuff in the distribution chain right now is what's left, basically, and at some point in May they're apparently going to announce what exactly their plans are for replacing them.

Obviously GW has been moving to more and more plastic kits instead of the old metal minis, and I mostly have been happy with this. However, they still tend to cast 'leader'-type minis, as well as other, more specialized units, in metal. Current rumormongering is that they'll move these kinds of lower-production run single/small group minis to some kind of resin or new-ish plastic that can be spin-cast in the same old molds used for the current metal versions. However, in the meantime, once they're out of something (say, Dark Eldar Archons, which only came out a few months ago anyway) they're not casting any more.

In the meantime? Like I said, they're not casting any more of stuff as it sells out, and several part codes have apparently been pulled from their distributor/store catalogs. What this means for Your Humble Narrator is hard to see at the moment, since I'm waiting on AF&G to call me on Monday and let me know if they've managed to scrounge up a (currently metal) Dark Eldar Succubus model for me or not. The Warhammer Fantasy Slaaneshi metal champion I ordered DID come in which raises some interesting questions. It's an older model from their collector range, and I wonder if those things will continue to be cast in metal in small runs, or if they're also going to get the plastic/resin treatment. I also wonder what this will mean for GW's 'Specialist' ranges, like Battlefleet Gothic or Blood Bowl, both of which are nearly entirely metal model ranges. Will the Summer of Slaanesh become the Summer of Proxied Slaanesh character minis? Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Summer of Slaanesh: WFB Warriors of Chaos build list

500 points

Hero: Sorcerer, Mark of Slaanesh, 'Sword of Might' 110

Marauders x20, Mark of Slaanesh, flails, full command 130

Chaos Warriors x10, Mark of Slaanesh, shields, full command 200

Chaos Warhounds x10 60


Chaos Knights x5, Mark of Slaanesh, full command 260

add Marauders x10 50

remove Warhound unit -60
Remove warhounds -60

Summer of Slaanesh: Dark Eldar build list


HQ Succubus w/ Agoniser, Venom Blade 90

Troops A:
Kabalite Warriors x10 w/ Shredder, Splinter Cannon 105
-Sybarite w/ splinter pistol, power weapon 20
-Raider w/ splinter racks, shock prow 75

Troops B:
Wyches x9 w/ Razorflails x1 100
-Hekatrix w/ blast pistol, Agoniser, phantasm grenade launcher 45
-Raider w/ Disintegrator Cannon, shock prow 65

Summer of Slaanesh: Angels of Ecstasy build list

first 500 points:

HQ: Chaos Sorcerer w/ Terminator Armor, Mark of Slaanesh, Lash 140

Troops A: Chaos Space Marines x 10 w/ Mark of Slaanesh, Hvy Bolter, Flamer 185
-AspChamp w/ PW, Meltabombs 35
-Rhino 35

Troops B: Chaos Space Marines x 5 w/ Mark of Slaanesh, Meltagun 105

upgrade to 1000

HQ: Chaos Sorcerer w/ Terminator Armor, Mark of Slaanesh, Lash 140

Elites: Chaos Terminators x3, Mark of Slaanesh, HvyFlamer, Combi-flamer, Combi-melta 120

Troops A: Chaos Space Marines x 10 w/ Mark of Slaanesh, Hvy Bolter, Flamer 185
-AspChamp w/ Power Weapon, Meltabombs 35
-Rhino w/ Havoc Launcher 50

Troops B: Chaos Space Marines x 10 w/ Mark of Slaanesh, Meltagun, Plasmagun 195
-AspChamp w/ combi-melta, Power Fist 50
-Rhino w/ Havoc Launcher 50

Fast Attack: Chaos Raptors x5 w/ Mark of Slaanesh, Plasma Pistol, Meltagun 145
-AspChamp w/ Power Weapon 30

Back to the salt mines

Well, the blog and my minis gaming both took a huge nosedive last May. What's the best way to remedy that this spring/summer? Why, biting off way more than I can chew, of course. Here's the project list in rough priority order:

1) AK-47 Republic, in 6mm (minis by GHQ). Minis are here, waiting on bases. Slightly terrified of trying to paint stuff that small; the infantry is roughly grain-of-rice-sized. On the plus side I won't be painting web gear or belt buckles at this scale...

2) Battletech, using the highly superior Quick Strike rules. I'm still waiting on about half of my mechs, which I bought from an increasingly shady looking eBay dealer. Paint job will be simple as I'm rolling with the Fighting Urukhai this summer. My friend Britt is putting together a campaign setting and six of us will be recreating (precreating?) the 3039 War.

3) Flames of War. I have finally started assembling my filthy Nazi bastids, and am eyeballing a valiant workers' Soviet Lend-Lease army. Emchas! Woo!

4) WWI naval gaming. I've got some incredibly cheap (and incredibly tiny) 1/6000th scale minis on the way in from Strange Cargo games in Marathon, FL (one of the few places in South Florida I don't detest). I grabbed enough stuff to do the German East Asia squadron stuff (Coronel and Falklands) as well as the Goeben's run to Constantinople.

And the biggest, most indigestible thing I'm working on?

The Summer of Slaanesh! Lots of 40k and WFB stuff that has been languishing way too long. Most of what I'll be putting together now that the weather is turning is going to be Slaaneshi-themed, viz:

a) WFB Chaos Warriors, all Slaaneshi-aligned, for the Slow-Grow League at All Fun and Games in Cary. What better way to learn the rules than to play other people who already play? Minis inbound. I've been agonizing over the listbuilding stuff as I have no real idea of how this game actually looks on the tabletop.

b) 40k Dark Eldar for the same league, fluffed as being a renegade Cult of Slaanesh (in memoriam of the great old Cult of Slaanesh list from WFB about 2 or 3 editions ago). What's the one thing guaranteed to irk the jaded Dark Eldar establishment? Worship of She-Who-Thirsts! Bulk of the first 500 points are already here, although I forgot to order any transports.

c) 40k Chaos Space Marines, Angels of Ecstasy. I just want to play some Marines damnit!

d) Mordheim Cult of the Possessed: I think the Mordheim gaming at The Game Connection in Knightdale is on hiatus, but it's only like 6 minis and I'll be using the same color schemes as some or all of the Slaaneshi stuff above. Why not?

e) Blood Bowl Chaos team: I'm not certain of the mechanics of my local BB league this summer, as I haven't discussed it with my benevolent commissioner Da'vesh (or is his brother in charge this year?) lately. But whatever store it winds up at, and even if I only get to play a few exhibition games, what better time for a return of the Libertines than in the Summer of Slaanesh?

f) Battlefleet Gothic: Angels of Ecstasy warfleet. 'Nuff said.

Time to stock up on pink paint.

So anyway, since I have various materials shortages for some of these, the current worktable is slapping together 500pts of Angels of Ecstasy. One CSM unit in a Rhino, and a Terminator Sorcerer with a small retinue (yes, I know the retinue rules are gone. shut up). Pics tomorrow; I should have everything bar the Rhino built by then.

A Very British Civil War (Fascist Yanks take the Isle of Wight!)
Martian Empires
Revolt on Antares gaming in 15mm
Heavy Gear
hell freezing over, etc

What's this?

Looks like someone left a blog lying around here unattended. Shame.