Friday, November 28, 2014

Plague monks

Some pics of the unit of plague monks I am painting:

I placed the leader and standard bearer on broken stone slabs so I could use the Army Painter ivy that I bought.
A unit filler base using the crew from a Screaming Bell set converted to take hand weapons, plus a plague monk holding a scroll.
I've got 21 more figures to go. Slow and steady does it, I suppose...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mid-week game: Blood Bowl and Arena Rex

fg and I decided to have a mid-week game and continue our Blood Bowl league. As it had been four months since our last game and we can't make out some of the notations we used in our notes, we decided to replay game 2.

Game 2 was a disappointment for the fans as both sides failed to score any touchdown. What's worse - neither team managed any advancement after the game. I did win enough money to buy another bull centaur player, so hopefully that will give me an edge the next game.

After the game wahj arrived and we broke bread (which he made) before fg and I tried out Arena Rex.

My brother had backed the kickstarter and I picked the package up at the post office for him and decided to give the rules a run.

The 32mm resin figures that came with the package are exquisite - perhaps too exquisite. The weapon shafts are thin and it looks like it will be difficult to assemble the figures or to transport and play with them without breaking - already there are complaints about the feathers on the helmets of one of the figures on their forum. There are also custom dice and fatigue counters which came in the set which I thought were redundant to the average wargamer since the dice were just regular d6s that came in different colours and a symbol instead of a number on the '1' face, and the tokens marked only two states, so any small token or chits or coin will do the job - omitting these or making them an optional add-on would have cut postage for the backers, but I suppose some people want a complete, ready-to-play package instead of the Cheapass Games approach.

That said, all the components are of high production quality; the rulebook looks like a promotion booklet of some big corporation, and the game cards are already sturdy.

The rules I am more ambivalent about. Arena Rex is a gladiator team game, which means that some gladiators have skills that are only useful in a team context - their skills are about assisting their team-mates. The characters are also "balanced", and there are no rules for advancement and ludus development.

Even though the game is not hex-based movement and engaement ranges are all given in 1" intervals, so we decided to use fg's Heroscape tiles and some 25mm gladiators I had painted ages ago for a test-drive.

Another feature of the rules is that "pushing" is a major part of the combat system. Arenas in Arena Rex feature obstacles and hazards, the latter being living hazards like chained beasts and inanimate ones like spikes or pits - which is why you see the pits in our set-up in the photo below. In practice this means that you should try to make sure your gladiators are not fighting with their backs against some hazards, as they can die from taking damage from weapons or being shoved into a pit '300'-style.

A strange landscape to fight over.

The two teams approach cautiously.

"This is ARENA REX!"
There are a lot more to the rules, of course: a system of Favours and a fatigue system that is quite clever, but somehow they don't give me the feel of gladiatorial combat.

During the game I put Youtube on my TV to watch clips of Gladiator, and it went on to play clips from Vikings and rather inexplicably Sudden Death. Eventually it played this rather hilarious John Woo movie with homoerotic overtones; do watch it if you have the time:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Real Steel

It took a while, but I now have a horde of Greatswords painted.

They are a mix of Perry plastics and metals, old Grenadier figures, and a Trent Miniatures figure. Fielded in the above configuration this single unit is almost 800 points - 40% of a 2000 point army.

I based 14 of the figures on multi-bases, which will make it easier to deploy the unit, and also allowed me to decorate one of the bases with a broken lance.

With this unit done, I have to wait for Perry to release their plastic light cavalry and Claymore Castings to release their new crossbowmen.

Meanwhile, I am working on a unit of skaven plague monks, which are not as nice sculpts as the clanrats, but are at least easy to paint.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mecha Sunday and Fun with Laser

As the gang are backing the Heavy Gear Blitz Kickstarter but we are a little intimidated by the rules, we decide to give two sets of mecha rules a spin to see whether we will like them.

The first one we tried was the introductory version of the Battletech rules. We each piloted one mech. It was a bit of a learning curve but the details allowed for some hilarity, like when the two mechs piloted by wahj and fg engaged in a kicking match, and both fell down - one with both hips damaged and the other one his gyros shot out; it was like a scuffle in a retirement home between a guy with Parkinson's and a guy with broken hips.

Two mechas have fallen down and can't get up!
The second game we tried was Mech Attack. This is a much simpler system which features a clever mechanic where each weapon type has a different damage profile and depletes the armour in a specific fashion. I liked the rules on first reading, but was bothered by the fact that there was no arc to the armour. I came up with two options to tweak the system, but neither was satisfactory. The third came to me at 4am in the morning and worked well enough with the rest of the rules I decided to try them this afternoon.

The gang liked the modified Mech Attack rules well enough that we will likely use it with our Heavy Gear models - but then again, the release is in 12 months and we have plenty of opportunity to try other sets of rules.

I loved the Battletech rules myself, but I think the details means it will be difficult for use to pilot more than one mech per player; with Mech Attack, we can conceivably pilot 2 or 3 with practice, perhaps more.

We then ended the session by trying to take photos of the mechs with laser effects. wahj brought along a green laser pointer and with the aid of some incense I had and a tripod we managed to produce a laser hit effect.

This photo shows the set-up we used.

Grown men playing with toys of robots, laser pointers, and fire... I guess it could be worse...

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Battle Standard Bearer

As with the Warrior Priest, I decided to paint a new figure for my Battles Standard Bearer.

This figure is made from the Perry Foot Knights box, with the left hand drilled through and a steel pike added. The flag is custom-made by Maverick Models (not to be confused with Maverick Models).

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Warrior Priest

On of the most fun characters one can field in a Warhammer (The) Empire army is the warrior priest. I have previously used a generic leader figure for my warrior priest, but I decided to paint two dedicated figures to represent the character when I got my box of Perry Foot Knights.

The two figures above are made up of the torso and arms from the Perry Foot Knights box, with the shield coming from the European Mercenaries box. The heads are from the Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors box set, which I got on a bits trade. I thought the bald and bearded look made the figure look distinctive, especially once I gave him flaming hair. The "traditional" Warhammer warrior priests comes bald wearing a circlet and shaven, so my version looks more like a priest of Ulric, but no matter.

I made two versions of the same character because I have two "builds" for him: one for leading my Greatswords when my general is mounted, and one to lead my unit of swordsmen if my general is on foot (and leading the Greatswords himself); a third option is to field him and the general with the Greatswords in one single unit, which looks excessive.

I now have another 20-plus foot knights to go through, including the Battle Standard Bearer - hopefully I can complete him this weekend.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Chain of Command Campaign: Normandy Game 3

Game 3 was another nail-biter.

We played the Delaying Action scenario, with my Germans trying to delay the British so they can withdraw their forces south. For the terrain I took inspiration from the Teaser scenario in the latest issue of Miniature Wargames and laid out a table bisected by a wooded ridge.

Martin rolled low for force support and I ended up choosing a sniper team, thinking that I have enough cover on my side of the table to use him to good effect.

The opening moves of the game saw me quickly occupy the wooded ridge on either side of the road with one section each. I set up Overwatch and waited for Martin's sections to break the cover of the woods and a low rise.

Perfect killing zone... if only the British would oblige me by advancing into the open!
Martin on his part picked an extra 2" mortar team to lay smoke, plus a Forward Observer with a 3" mortar battery, and proceeded to pound my sections.

I held on to my positions despite casualties, but my MG fire failed to exact a similar toll on the British. Martin patiently waited for the artillerymen to do the work, and finally, down to an MG section per side of the road, I decided to withdraw to my secondary line of defence. My Force Morale has fallen to 4 and I now had only 4 activation dice instead of the 5 I started out with.

This was the moment Martin was waiting for; he pushed one section towards the ridge on his right, and deployed another to advance on his left, and was going to bring his FO and mortar onto the low rise to cover them...

Then disaster struck: his lead section movement roll left them just short of the cover of the wooded ridge. Just then I had the right dice and deployed my sniper team! Which proceeded to miss.

No matter - I had just the die roll to deploy the MG team from my last section with its section commander, who proceeded to direct deadly fire onto the British in the open... for three consecutive phases!

The British broke and ran for the cover of the low rise, and the commander redirected the MG's fire on to the British on the low rise, killing a Junior Leader.

Sniper! Four shots, one wound. Back to school with you!
Meanwhile, the British section on the left made it to the cover of the ridge. But with one MG team on their right and two to their front (if they dared to break cover), they decided to wait it out and withdraw under the cover of darkness (Martin spent a CoC die to bring his Jump-Off Point forward so he could withdraw them safely) - and frankly, at this stage in the war, the Germans were happy to let them.

Despite the success in the final stage of the battle (all but one of the British casualties were caused by a single MG team!), I still lost more men than Martin. My men now hate me so much, if I screw up again I am likely to be shot by "an enemy sniper, at close range, while in camp".

Martin isn't in a much better position either. He called for reinforcements but rolled low, meaning he will start the next game 6 men down. What's worse, two of his Junior Leaders are new and will have a lower command span and Command Initiative.

The final game will depict a German counter-attack on the British position. Hopefully I will roll high enough for force support to deploy more toys.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Mirliton Handgunners

With all the non-human units I have been painting for the rest of the gang, I thought I needed to restore balance to the Warp by painting up the Mirliton Handgunners (or Fighting Men with Guns in the Forlorn Hope catague and Harquebusiers in the Mirliton catalogue) I bought along with the Halfling archers.

As you can see, these come in 5 different poses, with handguns that look rather different too - which makes me wonder: historically, did handgunners have the same "model" of guns?

Here you can see them poses with my Perry plastic handgunners. The Mirliton figures are smaller than their Perry counterparts, but because of their stances they blend in quite well.

I have been thinking about giving my army a more "pike-and-shot" doctrine, so these are a useful addition. I should be getting my Perry foot knights from Martin tomorrow, which will let me bulk my Greatswords up to a horde of 40. Thereafter I hope to buy a dozen crossbowmen from Claymore Castings when their new figures are released. Stay tuned.