Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Dark Omnissiah Cometh

It seems I have had the technological touch of death recently.  Various electronics have been going down based on their proximity to me, one of which includes my laptop.  Sadly, that came at a time in which I was dragging my feet about backing up my files, so I lost a lot of my pictures, my data, and a few other bits and bobs.  Between that, the holiday season, and an upcoming move, I think it is time for Elfen Stuff Up to go dark for a while.  See you in a few months hopefully and thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Homemade Special

One of my biggest draws about Fantasy/40K/Pathfinder/every game ever is the possibility of an on the field avatar.  Not THE Avatar, but, rather, an idea of a character given tiny form.

With this thread of thought in mind, I and a couple of friends decided to give the homemade design process a run during our weekly gaming session.  Each of us plays the same army fairly regularly at this point.  In making a set of special characters, we though we could put an interesting twist on our standard games.  Not only would it mix up the way units interact and provide some uniqueness, but it would help us structure a narrative around the games.
Antisthenes leading his merry band

So this is what I came up with:

Antisthenes, Master of the Host   200 Points
WS  BS   S   T   W    I    A   Ld    Sv
5      5      4    4    3   5    3   10     3+

Wargear:  Bolt Pistol, Frag and Krak Grenades,
Sigil of Corruption, Gift of Mutation

Warlord Trait:  Black Crusader

Word Bearers vs. Death Wing
Special Rules:  Beseech the Dark Gods, Zealot, Demagogue,
Champion of Chaos, Magister of Rituals

Magister of Rituals:  An army that includes Antisthenes
can count one squad of Possessed Marines as Scoring.

Chaos Artefact:  The Accursed Crozius
S: +2   AP:  4  Special Rules:  Melee, Daemon Weapon, Legion

Legion:  On a turn in which the Daemon Weapon adds attacks,
roll a D3:  1: Re-roll Hits and Wounds.  2: AP2.  3: +2 A and I.

My Word Bearers have been wishing for a Dark Apostle worth being "the guy."  Someone who you look at and think, "Yeah, he'd lead a legion of psychotic zealots."  The standard Dark Apostle is a decent buy in terms of being a force multiplier, but in reality, he is only his special rules and wargear.  You take him for the Zealot rule and hope the Sigil of Corruption keeps your investment safe.  I understand him being a second to the Chaos Lord, but not really as the face of the franchise.  For the Word Bearers, something a little different makes sense. 

I'll pass on trying to take this objective.
I kicked off with most of the basic Chaos Lord statistics.  I reduced the weapon skill by one, reasoning that even if he were going to be "teh awesome", he still wouldn't necessarily be the master of blades.  I added the Dark Apostle special rules, a Warlord Trait, and went for a very minor force org adjustment.  Finally, I thought, "Time to come up with a daemon weapon."  While raking my mother-in-law's leaves, it occurred to me to make an artefact that reflected the Daemonkin table of the Possessed.  Obviously, this can be very random, but so it goes.  In his first three games of service, he's had positive results.  In the first game, he mostly did mop up duty.  A Daemon Prince on his last wound, plus a wounded enemy special character formed an auspicious pair of pelts to start with.  The second game saw him hit a timely roll against some Assault Terminators and roll a squad by himself.  The third game, against the same Deathwing army, he rolled the dreaded one.  In the end, he accounted for a total of two terminators.  He has yet to die, which, frankly, is quite surprising to me.  There have been a lot of Thunder Hammers floating around lately.  We'll see what the future brings for him.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hobby Update: Spousal Perspectives, Death Company and More

I imagine that many men who play Warhammer or something like it have had something similar to the following conversation with their wives:

Wife:  I like that your army men are on the kitchen counter.  They're cute.

Me:  ...Um, they're the Death Company of the Blood Angels Chapter.

Wife:  They're still cute.
Can a unit with the Rage USR be cute?
Anyway, these past couple weeks have been good as far as painting progress.  Actually, quite good.  I managed to finish up the aforementioned Death Company.  I painted the entirety of three Banshees for some Daemons.  I airbrushed the first coat of green on a Coven Throne.  I finally finished remodelling my Defiler.  I primed a bunch of basic Chaos Space Marines.  Progress!

Of the ten models in the squad, one of them has been done for quite some time.  The remaining nine have sat with varying stages of colors finished.  At one point, all the actual Marines were finished, but the jump packs were still totally black.  Motivating yourself to bang out nine jump packs can be quite a task, but I managed to sit down and knock out three batches while watching football.

It's probably a little cliche, but I am feeling good about how they turned out.  OK, it's very cliche.  But once I slapped a layer of Dullcote on them, they lost a lot of the shiny black gloss color that tends to bleed through because of the crappy primer I use.  Prior to that, I was pretty nervous.  The varnish does tend to even things out, but it's definitely never a matte finish. So, happy surprises.  The other reason I like these guys is they include my first attempt at doing lots of highlighting.  In some cases, I may have gone a little overboard, but the orange really pops coming off the red, and the dark gray looks really good on the black armor without making them look like they're supposed to be gray.

Some of you who tend to focus on the play side of things may be wondering about the squad and its loadout of weapons.  Technically, Death Company can't take a meltagun, nor do they have a unit champion option, and seriously, where the heck are the power weapons?  Well, the squad was put together during fifth edition, when Allies weren't a thing.  This unit was intended to be a Skyclaw squad originally, but with the advent of sixth edition, I reached a point where I could conceivably include them as Death Company.  I'd love to do that.  What I'd really love to do is add five more dudes with power weapons and Infernus Pistols so I can do both, but we'll see what comes.

I plan on using them as Flamers.
Trying to prove that I can paint colors other than just red, I also painted a trio of Banshees for my Fear Daemons army.  My original intention was to try to do these girls in their entirety with an airbrush, or as close as possible to it.  That didn't happen.  I went all paintbrush.  Unfortunately, I had some serious issues with getting any kind of paint flow through the airbrush.  Turns out, I tried a little too hard to keep the pots clean and created some Q-tip blockage.  Whoops.  So I got that fixed, but not in time to work on these ones.

The models were originally from the Coven Throne kit.  I clipped off the tails after applying the paint, so I'd have something extra to grasp while I painted.  It was a pretty straightforward process.  The models got multiple layers of the same shades of green that I've used on some previous monsters, with lots of dark greens blending into much yellower versions. I've added some of the lighter colors towards the top of the models, which is a departure from the way I painted their big brother, the Nightbringer.  I tried to make those lighter colors more prevalent, but I think the extra layers could do with some more glazing to try to smooth it out.  I also might try to matte up the black some.

Briefly, I'd also like to touch on my Defiler.  Not in a dirty way.  A few weeks ago, I went a little nuts and ripped off all the legs and arms, plus I pulled the torso(?) from the chassis(?).  I'm not sure what to call what on a daemon engine.  Then I went even further off the deep end, magnetizing just about everything.  The result?  A defiler that was more transportable since I could take it apart and put it in a Rhino slot in my carry case, plus I could also easily represent the vehicle being immobilized, destroyed, or losing weaponry.  Success!  Except that the weight of the model was too great, so the Defiler just slid down to its base as the magnets would rotate.  Failure!  Because of that, I pretty much just left the thing at home.

Now he's a walker, instead of a sitter
After some practical thought about problem, I decided to go as simple as possible and glued some ordinary sprue to the Defiler's ball and socket joints.  This prevents the magnets from rotating, holding the legs in an appropriate pose.  It doesn't look pretty right now, nor will it when it is finished, but there's enough going on that I don't think it'll matter if I stick to dark colors in those sections.  Plus I'd much rather have a functional model at this point.

Hobby Goals
-Airbrush the Coven Throne by Wednesday
-Mechrite Red on the Chaos Marines by Saturday
-Silver on the Possessed by Sunday

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tournament Recap

This weekend, two friends and I ran a tournament at the local shop.  We were blessed to have a long lead time and a lot of publicity going in, based mostly on the fact that the owner of the store put up a pretty substantial sum for the grand prize.  You can find an independent review of the tourney here.

Overall, things went extremely well.  We had a full house of 24 people, even with a $20 entry fee.  Between that, the grand prize, and some prize support donated by some sponsors, our total prize pool broke a thousand dollars.  That allowed us to put out some substantial awards, beyond just Best General/Painted, to the point where ten different people got to walk away with something to show for their efforts.  Of course, the downside to having a full house turns out to be that the game store just barely has the space to support twelve tables.  We were pretty much bumping back sides for most of the day.

The missions we ran were a variation of standard book missions.  We ran, in order, Big Guns Never Tire, The Scouring, and The Emperor's Will, all with slight variations.  Every mission included a Kill Point component added in, however, there was a cap to the number of points available depending on the mission.  Big Guns was fixed at four objectives.  Beyond that, it was fairly straightforward.  The second mission, The Scouring, saw more changes implemented.  Rather than random values, we went for a pair of four pointers, with four more two pointers.  That fixed my biggest gripe with the design of the mission. Finally, for The Emperor's Will, we doubled the value of the objectives.

This all seemed fairly simple to us, however, we ran into a pretty common problem for TO's.  No one read the $%&# missions.  Somehow, despite me explaining it to what felt like every table in the first round, I was still explaining how to score the mission in the third.  I have been in tournaments where the mission packet gives a whole page of instructions to a single mission.  In this case, there was never more than a paragraph.  So, as always, simpler is always better for players.  The one thing that keeps getting pounded into my head from tournament to tournament is that most people won't take the extra time to digest the words you write down.  Make it as simple as possible.

It's always interesting to look at a tournament and try to understand why people chose to take certain things like armies, units, etc... According to the web, only certain things are "good."  Yet, I can't remember a single codex being extremely well represented.  Looking back at my notes, there still isn't anything that makes an impression.  There are a dash of Space Marines, a pair of Necrons, some Imperial Guard.  The IG also showed up as allies in a number of forces, but not in more than two or three armies.  Really, the only thing that was common was the Aegis Defense Line, which was pretty much ubiquitous as a fixture throughout the top tables.

The armies that ended up on tables included Sisters of Battle, which ended up taking Best General, plus Chaos Marines and Space Marines, all of which went undefeated.  On those very same tables were Black Templars, Space Wolves, and Tyranids.  So, not much of a consistent thread there.  I chalk that up to a couple things.  First, a high percentage of the guys were just locals who showed up with their favorite things.  Second, the top players were top players.  Apparently, we had four of the top ten players in the country as per one of the national rankings sites.  A lot of them really seemed to want to win with something that would be a challenge, which led to armies that I would consider unique.

The Sisters absolutely brought the thunder, tabling all three of their opponents.  It turns out rending Heavy Bolters are nasty.  Who knew?   The Black Templars player ended up taking Best Overall.  Despite the one loss, he scored a ton of battle points, had the second highest paint score, and maxed out his sportsmanship.  He ended up with a score just two-tenths of a point higher overall then the undefeated Space Marines player.  Adding in the results after the final round was about as crazy as Excel can get. 

Overall, it was a great tournament.  Everybody had mostly good things to say, and I think everyone had a good time.  I know I did and would love to continue running tournaments given the chance.

Friday, November 16, 2012

League Night: We're Talkin' 'bout Playoffs

Iron Warriors
Abstract:  Summarizing the last five weeks of time I've been too lazy to post about the league and using it as an excuse to run pictures of the "Best Painted" entries, finished off by my thoughts of the last nine weeks.

An absence from the game store became prolonged due to a hurricane.  I came back to find that the league had kind of taken care of itself.  Mostly. 

...and Champion
I knew I had a vacation coming up, so I made arrangements to have scores posted on the store's forums.  That turned out to be a great move, because the scoresheet gnomes wandered off with them in the meantime.  Between those results and what I pieced together from the few recorded games I found for the extra third week, I deduced that the final standings for the top two tables looked something like this:

Group A
*Blood Angels
Kustom Dakkajet
Chaos Space Marines

Group B
*Imperial Guard
Grey Knights

The lower two tables did not exactly keep up with their games, which doesn't really surprise me as it was pretty common knowledge that they were out of the running for the league title (which is something I think I'll talk about in the next league post).  Moving on from that point, in an effort to keep folks interested and coming until the next start up, we began running increasingly narrative driven games for anyone not in the playoffs.  These were a big hit and led to cries for more.

My Word Bearers
The initial random draw produced groups that saw a few surprise contenders advance.  In particular, the 'Nids player sought me out and mentioned that after three straight games of getting roflstomped, he was ready to return to the kiddy table for a while.  The real contenders really separated themselves at this stage, and while some folks came up with surprise L's, they were mostly after the dust had settled and the cream of the crop had secured advancement to the next stage.  That stage, being the single elimination playoffs type of deal, had fixtures that looked a little something like this:

Necrons vs. Imperial Guard
Tau vs. Blood Angels

Red Orks Biker
At this point, scenarios became random again, and ended up having a hand in who would eventually advance.  The heavily static Guard played Crusade against the hyper resilient Necrons.  In a game with three objectives, the 'Crons got two of them, and made no mistakes.  He refused a flank, got into the lines fast enough, and swept away his competition.  Meanwhile, the Blood Angels and Tau played Purge the Alien.  All those rail rifles led to easy light vehicle punches and the BA player got held off just long enough to secure an 13-7 victory for the Tau.  Between the Drop Pods and the Razorbacks there were just too many easy targets for that much strength 10.

Interestingly, this set up the first rematch of the league, as the Tau and Necron player both came out of the same initial group.  I think that speaks to how strong the group was, as even the bottom two players were pretty solid.  After way too many jokes about how nervous they were about playing for all the hyperbolic marbles, they rolled up the straightforward "Emperor's Will" scenario.  The Tau successfully shot everything to death except the Wraiths.  The Wraiths then ate all the Tau.    Thus ended the first league.

Frankly, I'm kind of glad.  I know I initially wrote about how excited I was.  In retrospect, I really think I got the format wrong.  Like, REALLY, wrong.  As much as it appeals to me, as much as it works cleanly and efficiently, as much as it is a strong system, it is just plain wrong for this store.  Other stores may have the culture to do it and enjoy it, but the guys here want the freedom to play whomever they darn well please.  If there is a structured way to determine who won the whole thing, that's great, as long as it is very simple and doesn't get in the way of pitching the dice.  So that creates the challenge.  Can I get creative and be versatile in creating a whole new format that appeals to this kind of player?  I've got two weeks to figure that out. 


Monday, October 8, 2012

League Night: Herding Cats

We have (mostly) completed Round One of the current league.  Things have not been boring.

Red Fish, Blue Group.
Current Standings (W-T-L Pts VP Diff)
Blue Group
Guard         3-0-0 6pts +14
Eldar           1-0-2 3pts +1
Tau              1-0-2 3pts -7
Guard          1-0-2 3pts -8

Black Group
Necrons            3-0-0 9pts +10
Tau                   1-0-1 3pts -1
Space Marines  0-0-2 0pts -4 
Orks                 0-0-2 0pts -5

Mano a mano, gunline a gunline.
White Group
Grey Knights     1-1-0 4pt +5
Space Wolves   1-0-1 3pts -3
Orks                 0-1-0 1pt +0
Chaos Marines  0-0-1 0pts -3

Red Group
Blood Angels  3-0-0 6pts +9
Tyranids         2-0-1 6pts +1
Orks               0-0-2 0pts -2
Orks               0-0-2 0pts -7

Blue Group had a runaway winner, but the final game saw the winless Eldar player win big over the Tau.  This forced a three-way tie, which had to be broken by VP differential.  The size of the win swung things, and the Eldar squeak through.  Black Group also had a runaway winner.  One game is supposed to get played this Monday, between the Tau and Marines.  I'm expecting the Tau to win, but you know how dice games go.  Red Group was an easy one.  The Orks lost both opening games, so the Blood Angels and Tyranids played to essentially see who would win the group.  Finally we have White Group.  White Group embodies a problem I'm going to talk about in a minute, but it is easily filled with the most intrigue.  I've been told that all the games have or will be played, but pretty much everyone is eligible to win this thing.  The deadline is Tuesday, so we'll see what happens.

IG+Fortress=Win.  Who knew?
I do have my doubts about White Group completing the course.  They are a microcosm for one of the problems with the league as a whole, and, perhaps, for gamers in general.  Thursday is league night.  How the heck do you pin people down for this thing?  Life does happen, and gaming doesn't exist that high on the priority list, but the commitment level seems to be very lacking.  I've had to be pretty quick on my feet as far as setting up games against ringers (which is why the game totals don't add up).  With a league of 16 people, we should filling up tables, no problem, but we only had five playing league games, and not all of them were complete league pairs.

I need to find a way to incentivize attendance, rather than disincentivizing forfeitures.  Perhaps I'll award points for attendance in future leagues.  I don't feel comfortable changing the rules now.  I've always been taught you finish with the same ruleset that you started with.

Having seen the dedication of other groups in the area, it's disappointing not to be able to match it.  I worry that some of that is on me being too rigid, but on the other hand, maybe I thought the group was ready for something it wasn't.  I don't know that this sort of league is the right ruleset for the group.  It may be elegant if you're sure you can pull it off, but a loose group of casual gamers are never going to make it work.  I am pretty sure that's what I have on my hands, which means I have to abandon some of my preconceived notions about what makes for a "good" league, in terms of competition, balance, and functionality, and sacrifice it for a "good" league, in terms of generating enthusiasm and providing a background for people to gather.  I'm pretty sure I've got an idea for how to pull that off too.

In the meantime, how to make what we have now work?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

League Night, Opening Moves

One week down, seven to go.
Kick off for the new league happened Thursday night.

We had a pretty good turnout.  I was expecting something in the mid-teens and ended up having fifteen.  I gotta say, that's pretty solid.  We've got pretty much everyone from the previous league returning minus a few stragglers.  There is a pretty solid mainstay that we can rely on on that front.  We also have a couple new faces.  I've gotten to play against some of them, and they're at least decent dudes and good sports which is all you can really ask for.

The selection process seemed to go pretty smoothly.  I had everybody draw poker chips from a bag and grouped them according to colors.  "Random" doesn't always mean "fair", of course, but you have to be the last guy standing at the end anyway, so no loss in crawling over the toughest competitors in the opening stage anyway.  If anything, getting one of the tougher players in your opening group means you can avoid them in round two if you advance.

That said, match-ups are always a thing.  Here's what we came up with:  Blue group has two Imperial Guard players, plus Tau and Eldar.  Black Group has Necrons, Orks, Tau and Marines.  Red Group has Tyranids, Blood Angels, and a pair of Orks.  Finally, White group has Chaos Space Marines, Grey Knights, and Orks, and fields the ringer or wild card.  Interesting, only four power armored forces take the field, which is equalled by Orks, as well as the extremely shooty pairs of Imperial Guard and Tau.

Black group appears to be one of the toughest.  Necrons are a heck of an army, while the Tau and Orks are played by two of the better players in the league.  Blue group will likely have the most games fought at range, with Tau and both Guard players.  Red group is the one I am least sure about who will come out on top.  Finally, White group will have the easiest time through, since only three of the people there are eligible to advance.  I'm hoping one more person shows up to fill in the gap.  Meanwhile, it's not the worst thing to know that I have a chance to get in a weekly game.

Though I didn't stay for the entire night, it was interesting to see the way some of the games were going.  Two of the apparent favorites looked to both be on their way to posting losses, while the third was slogging his way through Guardsmen in a Fortress of Redemption.  If the first week is any indication, the league is wide open, which makes for an entertaining few weeks.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Beginning a New League plus Putting on the Pants

The bad news:  Thursday's regular 40K night was lackluster, with a grand total of two games being played.

The good news:  That's because it's the off week before the next league starts.

The exciting news:  I've been asked to run the upcoming league.

Previous leagues have been very well run, but the organizer has a lot going on and has decided to take a step back.  I was asked to step in and fill the void by the store owner, and the decision seems to be well received by those in the league.  I am very excited about the opportunity. 

While not being eligible to win the league is a drawback, directly contributing to the community I enjoy so much makes it totally worth it.  I also enjoy the organizational aspects involved in running things, whether that be an event or a sustained competition.  Blending the game into an elegant and competitive string of events that everyone looks forward to and can't wait to attend gives me a lot of the same things I enjoy about the game itself.  Additionally, if I'm being totally honest, I enjoy being "the guy."  I take a certain amount of pride from being the one to ask about rules, the ambassador to new players, and generally being in charge.  It feels good to know that you've got the trust of the whole group.  I might rethink that if we get three sign-ups for the next one.

Of course, running the league means coming up with a set of rules for the league.  Previously, there was not an established form for the league.  Things changed each time we started back up.  That means I'm working with a blank slate, which is bad since I have nothing to go on, but good because I'm free to operate without precedent.

The format I've come up with is drawn from my days playing volleyball in college.  It involves pooling players, then re-pooling those who finish high enough in their group together, and, finally, giving those who finish well in those groups a slot in the single elimination final four.  I'm expecting there to be roughly sixteen participants which would be ideal.  This would allow for four groups of four, though I can support more of each, with two members of each group advancing each round.  Because of this, players aren't eliminated with a single loss or hosed by a single bad game, nor can they win it all with a lucky draw and run against lesser players. Meanwhile, we still get the high stakes of a playoff at the end, so no one can run away with things.

There's no guarantee it will be perfectly, but I have seen it work before, and I think it accomplishes most of the things I want it to.  I guess we'll know in about eight weeks.  In the meantime, it should make for some solid material to post every Friday.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hobby Update: A Return

It's been a pretty busy month.  Life is slowly starting to resume some pattern of normalcy.  I like what it seems to have in play and am looking forward to more.  As the pattern becomes more clear, hobby time has begun to appear in a regular fashion which feels pretty good.  Here is a sample of what that time has yielded.
One particular model has dominated my focus.  I have been working pretty diligently on the Nightbringer while rotating my attention between a few other units at the same time.  Rather than scrapping the current paint job and starting over, I decided to keep working on smoothing out the colors as they were.  The results have been generally positive, though I don't think I've had the same success as with the Manticore, nor do the colors run to as vibrant a finish as I'd like.  That said, it's a solid paint job in my opinion, and I'm ready to toss him on the field.
To do that, I had to build him a base.  I kicked off with a GF9 60mm magnetic base.  Because I plan to have a lot of other big models in the army, I wanted to make sure the Nightbringer would stand out.  It's a pretty easy effect to achieve in a Necron army where he towers over the basic troops, but on a disply board that has a Coven Throne and a bunch of other big creatures, the Nightbringer is so slight of build that he may not stand out as the centerpiece.  To save on glass material, I glued down a trio of 25mm bases on top of each other, then put the Nightbringer on those.  This bought me about an inch of extra height.  From there, it was a matter of adding rings of glass and building them up to the appropriate height and picking out a few things to add as detail around the base.

One of the aforementioned rotating projects includes a herd of old school/out of production metal Khorngors.  One of the reasons I like this project is that they're a return to painting some grittier fantasy models.  They'll get a little highlighting and a little shading, but they're line troops that are supposed to be dirty, with a bunch of natural browns, so I'm not sweating them too much.  They've been sitting in the queue for a while, but once they got in, they got done very quickly.  By far, the most effort consuming part was making the bases.  With everything else in the army, I just glued the model straight to the surface of the marble square.  The Khorngors were never going to be so simple.  The bottoms of the hooves are angled, providing minimal contact points, and the metal makes the models top heavy.  Basing them entailed snipping the metal strips for the slottabases into nubs, then drilling a pair of holes to sink the nubs into.  The end result is imperfect.  I have a few gaps to fill and hoofs that don't sit squarely.  Overall though, they seem to work just fine.
Finally, for those of you interested in nerdetry and sports at the same time, I recently completed a mock auction for a fantasy football league (the American version).  If you've only done a draft before, I'd encourage you to give an auction a chance.  It's extremely entertaining.  I'm pretty happy with my team:
QB: Michael Vick
RB: Lesean Mccoy
RB: Matt Forte
WR: Percy Harvin
WR: Marques Colston
FLX: Brandon Lloyd
TE: Cody Fleener
Def: NY Giants
K: Alex Henery

I have a pretty high ceiling for scoring from week to week.  My running backs should have consistently big numbers, and each of my receivers should yield solid weekly results, with chances for big plays.  My big worry is injury.  More than one of these guys has a history of getting hurt and my back ups don't inspire confidence.  I suppose that's the risk of paying to have nice things.  Resource management becomes tricky.  Finding value becomes important.  Patience gets put up against scarcity.  In a lot of ways, it's like many of my favorite games.  Except that I only get to play it once a year and don't know the result for four months.  Oh, and it's absolutely infuriating sometimes.

Hobby Accoplishments
-Finished the Nightbringer
-Finished the Khorngors
-Wrote down five of six missions for campaign project

Hobby Goals
-Get all six missions typed and finalized
-Finish the Death Company in the next two weeks
-Prep league format for two weeks from now
-Prime Banshees and Coven Throne
-Airbrush two coats on second Possessed squad

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Randomly Hilarious

So apparently one of the things in the new CSM book coming up is a sixty-six result Eye of the Gods style table.  This is not the final rules as written, but could be pretty close.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tournament Missions and Recap

Setting up for round one
This weekend, one of my buddies and I had the opportunity to run our first sixth edition tournament for 40K.  We had seventeen players, which is three less than our max capacity, so almost a full house.  Things seemed to go really well.  I say that because nearly every one of the players came up to me during or after the tournament and said things went really well.  A portion of that may simply be that we provided a reason to play games for eight hours, and who doesn't love that?  But we also had no real logistical issues, managed to produce pretty clear winners, and were able to answer all the rules queries with pretty minimal fuss.

We opened the day with Crusade (Seize Ground) and Dawn of War (Pitched Battle) as the mission and deployment type.  We figured this would make for a pretty easy first mission for the day.  Everybody has seen it before.  Everyone knows what to expect.  Theoretically, no rules questions to speak of.  It's also a good way to ensure that everyone has a chance to score an equal number of points, since we preset the number of objectives at five.  We were operating on wins to determine the Best General award, but because of the number of players, it was likely we would need victory points as a tie breaker.  This is what eventually pushed us away from using Purge the Alien (Killpoints) since second round match-ups would favor those that scored more victory points.

Tau and CSM:  Surprisingly well represented
Round two pitted the high and low seeded winners against each other with Big Guns Never Tire and Vanguard Strike as mission and deployment type.  Again, we preset the objectives, this time at four.  This allowed for a little more variance in score, as Heavy Support choices gave away victory points, but the window for variation was only three points.  Things actually played out very cleanly for us, with one tie amongst the initial winners.  This ensured only four undefeateds going into the final round.  Even better, two of the players had a significant edge in battle points.  This was significant as they would be paired against each other for the title, barring a draw.

Our final mission was The Relic with Hammer and Anvil as deployment type.  We had judged this mission to be the most likely to produce a winner, while agreeing that we didn't want last editions "roll dice and tie" or The Scouring (because that most definitely is the worst designed mission, whether playing competitively or otherwise).  You may note that there are only six points available in this mission.  That was also an intentional decision.  The hope was that most of the points for establishing yourself as the top contender needed to be earned in rounds 1 and 2, while round 3 would be focused solely on winning.  Additionally, it meant that tanking your score to get an easier round three opponent was mighty risky.  Because of this, we felt like we could pair the best players of the day against each other with everything riding on just that one game.  Again, things turned out how we hoped, with one of the top table contenders winning his mission going away. 

Wolf on Wolf action.  Those on the left would take best painted.
At the end of the day, Tyranids (Tervigons and Gaunts) ended up beating Dark Eldar (hybrid gunline/Wyches) on the final table for the top spot.  It seemed to come down mostly to a few rolls, but that's how it goes in a dice game.  Chaos Space Marines also managed to go 3-0 with an interesting monster mash list, outlasting Eldrad with Eldar.  The Chaos Marine army won best overall, with some fantastic conversion work and paint. 

Interestingly, the field was incredibly diverse.  Seventeen players showed up with twelve different armies.  Miracle of all miracles, none of them were Grey Knights.  The most represented army was Tau (3), followed by Chaos Marines (2), Blood Angels (2), and Space Wolves (2).  Not counting Deathwing, only seven of the entrants were power armored armies.

Maybe interestingly, we tracked First Blood victory points against first turn.  The results may not be what you might have thought.  Out of eighteen games (we counted the first two rounds), ten of them resulted in the player with first turn getting first blood, and that figure includes a couple games where it was not earned on the first turn.  That is a majority, but hardly the runaway number some may have expected.  Granted, I would not consider this population normal, so I hesitate to say we've achieved a statistically significant figure, but it could be interesting if you're a stats nerd.

More pictures and such to come...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hobby Update: Monster Mash

It's been a minute since I've thrown any models up here.  I've made plenty of progress, but that is what's supposed to happen over the course of three weeks.
The Nightbringer has seen a fair bit of attention.  I've got most of the colors down, but before I can be closer to "finished" status, I need to A) decide if I like the placement of the colors and B) work on getting the colors to blend together more smoothly.  If you compare the before and current versions of the model, you can see pretty plainly that the colors are migrating north and becoming increasingly extreme.  I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing yet.  I think I'm going to remain patient and decide when I've cleaned things up a bit more.

I've managed to do something somewhere between an update and a redo on my Dark Apostle Daemon Prince.  Previously, he had white armor with black wings.  Now he has black armor with white wings...  so the opposite.  But with a lot more colors applied and technique.  The wings started with Dawnstone, Badab Black, Codex Grey, then finally Skull White with a quick drybrush of the new dry compound Praxeti White.  From a distance, they look great.  Close up, I am less sold.  A few of the lines are a little less clean than I'd like, but I think the biggest issue is I may have left too much of the dark coloring behind.  I'm not sure how feasible it would be to fix without redoing the whole thing, so I think I'm going to make my peace with it.  I also redid the shoulder pads and highlighted the robes.  Previously the colors were clean, but flat, which was typical of my painting back in the day.  With a new Chaos book coming up, I really want to have my army up to what I consider my current ability to be.  This guy is definitely going to be a centerpiece so I'm glad to have him done.

My Defiler has been a pretty regular presence in my Chaos Army over the last few months... or always, I suppose.  It has always been an awesome model and being able to throw around a battle cannon shot is a lot of fun.  However, part of the model's cool factor comes from its size and design, which makes it tough to transport elegantly.  Because of this, his spiky bits tend to take a lot of damage.  I got fed up with it this week when he took a tumble and one of the legs popped off.  I gave the others a pull and they actually came off pretty easily.  Before I knew it the drill was out and magnets were setting in the glue.  Despite repeated testing, not all of them were set the right way.  As a general piece of advice, definitely set the magnets that are harder to get in first.  Now the model breaks down into eight pieces that fit perfectly into one of the random extra slots in my carrying case that is currently unoccupied.  My big problem is the guy is a little finicky about standing up.  It was top and forward heavy to begin with, and now the legs tend to spin and slide out from under him.  I might try a second magnet, but we'll see.  And of course there's the high possibility that they just give the walker a base when they update the book in a month or so.

I showed off the Possessed Marines I finished in one of my last hobby posts.  I was hesitant to start the next batch right away since I was hoping to acquire two more bodies and a few arms and legs from some friends.  Honestly, I never got around too it and, surprise, surprise, my patience ran out.  I raided my own bitz box and came up with an Ork head, some Crypt Horror hands, and a few other bits that got grafted on randomly.  They don't fit perfectly, but if you don't know to look for them (cuz you're not me) they'll blend well enough.  Now on to paint!

Hobby Accomplishments
-Finished the Dark Apostle Daemon Prince
-Built Possessed Marines from scratch
-Added layers to the Nightbringer
-Magnetized the Defiler
-Wrote rules packet for this weekends tournament... so all in all, a productive three weeks.

Hobby goals for the next two weeks
-Get the next two coats of red on the Possessed
-Get red and gold on the Death Company
-Finish the Nightbringer

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tournament Planning

At the worst, we'll have great tables to play on.
For any of you out there in the San Diego, I and one of my buddies will be running a tournament at At Ease Games on July 21st.  Check in kicks off around 10, games at 11 if you're interested.

It will be my first official tournament experience with sixth edition, which makes being the boss of it kind of intimidating.  Someone has to be the first, I suppose.  Of course, that comes with a can of worms in the form of the lack of a successful, preexisting template already being in place.  Because of that, I have a myriad of concerns in my head racing to be the biggest and they're all winning.

With the newness of the edition, we've decided to stick mostly to book missions.  The theory is that nobody has played (half of) them enough that they've gotten particularly stale, so why go out of the way to create a wholly different framework?  That said, how do you best string a chosen three of these missions together to promote a healthy, balanced competition?  Especially when it has been made abundantly clear that the intent of the edition is to push for more narrative gameplay.  Though perhaps that's not the best point to bring up when trying to sell a tournament invitation.  Mostly, it's been a process of trying to pick and choose between the new stuff that seems to provide something close to equal footing, then filling in with the holdovers.

Wanna team up, bro?
One decision I'm content with is excluding allies and fortifications for the first tourney.  I know it's in the rulebook.  Three weeks in, it's just more complication than I want to deal with.  I don't know the edition nearly as well as I'd like to for judging, let alone the way all the extra interactions from new combos will work.  Players haven't had a lot of time to experiment or see what is out there either.  Give it a bit more time, and then we'll get real crazy.

Theoretically, it should be that simple, but with a positive turnout, we come to one of the common problems faced by three round tourneys.  Obviously, I'm referring to how to stratify multiple undefeated players in an equitable manner.  We have room for roughly twenty players, meaning three 3-0's is in play.  And while one of my racing concerns is no one showing, I'd guess we'll be running out of space before we're struggling to fill tables.  In 5th edition, I typically rotated the three missions as primary and secondary, with something a little funkier for tertiary.  I used the system both as a way to score battle points and to break ties.  With six missions, it seems odd to leave any of them out, and with so may of them being objective based, they tend not to combine quite so well.  That is to say, how the heck would play The Scouring and Crusade?  Not a lot of folks bring eleven scoring units, even with Fast Attacks thrown in.  That would pretty much tip the scale all the way to MSU style armies before a die gets cast...  Though if it means no Draigowing...

So that's kind of where things stand.  I'll have more about mission selection and the actual format after the tourney, plus whatever observations I have as far as results and data.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Big Game

Maybe a challenge you wanna think twice about making?
Sunday was the final day of the most recent incarnation of our 40K League at At Ease Games.  We decided, again, that the best way to cap things off would be a massive multiplayer game.  I was a little nervous after the previous Apocalypse attempt, but we thought to give it one more shot.  So eleven of us showed up with no idea what to expect, built lists of 1500 points, then were all told to prepare to vie for possession of the Fortress of Redemption...  And, oh by the way, one of the guy's Reaver Titans would be on the board, firing at the behest of the league organizer.  Let the shenanigans ensue!

Once things actually got put on the board, and we figured out the turn order, things actually moved at a really fast clip.  One of the things that tends to suck the fun right out of a big game is turns that drag on and on with a lot of passive players.  By a somewhat serendipitous set of rolls, most of the players were not next to each other either physically or in the turn order, so when a player wasn't engaging the next guy in the order, we were able to get two and three people to take their turns almost simultaneously.  Because of this, we got in a full four turns in just under four hours.  That may not seem that great, but when you consider that we had essentially eleven different turns to get through for full armies plus a new edition, and that's actually really good.  As a result, no one had to sit around for an hour and not do anything.

I enjoyed the way the Titan interacted with the game.  Essentially it took the twelfth player turn and started firing at things not getting stuck in to the middle of the board.  Meanwhile, we gave it a dozen hull points and raced to see who could blow it up first.  It took a bit more doing than we initially anticipated.  I dropped in a Bloodthirster and threw him directly into the Titan, knocking off half a dozen of the hull points with a bunch of patented ankle bite attacks.  Unfortunately, my treacherous Dark Eldar buddy decided he wanted the glory for himself and shot down ol' BT.  I was more surprised than I should have been.  One of our Blood Angels players jumped in at the top of the last turn and did the last of the dirty work...  And then the reactor went supernova.  A lucky string of sixes cleared a whole swathe of the board, including three squads of Sanguinary Guard, effectively tabling one of our players.  He offered a wry smile and a chuckle at his misfortune.

The game wound down on turn 4.  There wasn't much left on the board, and what was left made a mad dash for the middle.  I had the good fortune to have started most of my stuff close to the fortress, plus I failed to bring in my Plaguebearers until that turn.  They deep struck onto the fortress, while the last of my Possessed mobs staggered into it.  The lone remaining Daemon Prince that had survived the supernova jumped up onto the tower and claimed it for Chaos.  A few Orks also made the run, while a pair of Wave Serpents dropped a batch of Banshees and Seer Council just onto the edge of scoring.  Of all people, the Dark Eldar just didn't have the speed to get where they needed to be.  At that point, we counted up total points on the objective.  I came up with 655, while the Eldar tallied up 697 with all those IC's.  So close.  Regardless, it was an awesome game and everyone seemed to walk away happy.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Few 6th Edition Initial Thoughts

Have you read a thousand of these posts yet?

We had a sort of informal tournament on Saturday at At Ease Games.  There wasn't a prize pool or an entry fee or scoring, but we had a time and a points value and a very large turnout.  By the end of the day, we had improvise extra tables, and there were still people standing, watching, and waiting for their turn.  The excitement was palpable and great to see.

I went 2-0-1 on the day, playing my Chaos Space Marines, with games against Daemons, Tau, and vanilla Marines.  I played the new versions of Seize Ground and Capture and Control, plus one of the new missions called "The Relic."  Overall, I really like the changes, while it also feels like I'm still just playing 40K.
I don't know that this edition will be kind to the tournament-centric mindset.  The random elements seem to be pretty prevalent.  By way of example, I'd pick Warlord traits.  A single D6 can have a pretty significant effect on the game.  In the Relic mission, I turned my Daemon Prince into a scoring unit, while my Tau opponent got the ability to score victory points by slaying enemies in challenges.  To me, that seems like a pretty big disparity.  On the other hand, the game is really fun, seems to play quickly, and does a good job of making things cinematic.  For those kinds of games, I think it's going to be a tremendous rule set.  Woodchuck and Hanover's please.

I'm not too worried about Allies.  It seems like it was written similarly to how it was in the 8th edition Fantasy book, which never seemed to see a profound emergence of allies.  And while there may be some crazy combos, everyone can play them.  It also gives me the opportunity to field a detachment of daemons in my Chaos army while I'm building them up.  Now I don't have to buy a whole army to start playing with it.  I can have an all painted force, even while building one up.

A few other brief thoughts.  First, overwatching Plasma Guns are TERRIFYING.  Second, I like the way vehicles work.  They're more reliable and easier to kill at the same time.  I don't think we'll see a lot of light mech in assault armies because you need to be out of them a full turn to charge, but shooty armies might still spam light chassis.  Hopefully this means we'll see the addition of lizard and Spock to the rock, paper scissors mix.  Finally, I really hope flying things don't become the level 4 wizards of 40K.  They seem to be difficult to handle and able to dish out the punishment.  Most armies aren't ready to handle them beyond praying for sixes.  That may change as each book comes out, but that will take a while.

In the meantime, game on!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hobby Update: And the other randoms

In an attempt to pique the interest of some of my board gaming friends about playing what I totally swore was a skirmish game, I acquired a pair of War Machine starter boxes quite some time ago.  Since then, they've languished in their primer.  I understand that put's me in the conversation for best painted at a War Machine tournament...  I kid, of course!  But seriously, one of the new guys at the club comes to us from playing War Machine, and I saw an opportunity to maybe get a little bit of use out of my small crew of Jacks.  It turns out they're super easy to get painted.  I knocked out the big jack while taking breaks from the Possessed, and the little ones in about 20 minutes apiece.  They aren't much more than table top quality, but I don't feel like putting a large amount of effort into models for games that I doubt I'll play a whole lot.  Still, a sense of accomplishment is always a nice thing.  You might recognize the color scheme.  I swear I know that other colors exist.  The first Jacks I painted were actually for use as Obliterators in 40K, so in an effort to be able to use them for both games, I found my options pretty limited.  I think it works pretty well though.

My other stated goal from previous updates was to get the Nightbringer fixed up and ready for paint.  A cursory glance told me I'd need a little green stuff.  When I started the more involved work, I found the work would need to be a bit more expansive.  Obviously that didn't faze me much, as I've got more than a few colors already on this bad boy.  I am starting to wish I had been a bit more patient.  I am careening forward without a plan beyond simply, "Make it green."  It's a more complex model than I initially thought.  The model has a robe that wraps around the body, parallel to the ground.  This breaks up the flow of the model.  The initial inspiration for the whole army was actually a simple dark to light transition on this piece.  Now I find I need a new plan.  I may go with all green on the robes, with black skin and green highlights.  That seems to be the simplest of solutions.