Tuesday, September 13, 2016

NoVA Open Age of Sigmar tournament report

Wow, I actually attended an Age of Sigmar tournament!  A year ago I declared my hate for the game. Then, I changed my mind.  Then, the advent of the General's Handbook and the reintroduction of that hallowed competitive gaming concept, points values, seems to have really lit a fire under this game.  There were 28 players, many of whom brought very nicely painted armies, to play a 3-round competitive tournament with custom scenarios.  You can see the full rules of this year's event here:  Age of Sigmar 2016 Primer

I took the following Chaos army, containing Khorne mortals and demons.  The concept for my army was to maximize attacks from my big units using the bonus attacks from the Aspiring Deathbringer , Wrathmongers and Bloodsecrator, along with other bonuses inherent to the units and their interactions.  I took the Chaos trait that gives a +1 to hit upon activation and a roll of a 6, and a command trait which raised that to 5+.  So yes, that meant whenever I activated a unit on a 5+ that unit got +1 to hit.  In short, my larger units (and smaller ones really)  had the potential to roll a lot of dice and hit fairly easily if I played my cards right.  The army was all about massive amounts of attack rolls.

Aspiring Deathbringer (80)
- General
- Bloodaxe and Wrath Hammer
- Trait: Great Destroyer
Bloodsecrator (120)
Slaughterpriest (100)
- Bloodbathed Axe
Daemon Prince (160)
- Flying with Axe
- Artefact: Chaos Runeblade

Blood Warriors x 5 (100)
- Goreaxes
Bloodreavers x 20 (120)
- Reaver Blades
Khorgoraths x 1 (80)
Wrathmongers x 5 (180)
Bloodletters x 20 (200)
Bloodcrushers x 3 (160)
Skull Cannons x 1 (180)

Total: 1480/2000

Game 1: My first game was about escorting an objective marker off the table from the center of the board.  I will save you all some time: that didn't happen.  My opponent was a fine chap who brought a nicely painted Ironjawz Orruk (Ork) army to play.  This army had a trick: it used a battalion that allowed all his war boarz (goregruntaz I believe) to make a 15" move before the game begins.  He had 3 units of them, plus the warlord on mawcrusha (a very large wyvern) and a shaman.  He won the roll for first turn and predictably his boar line launched!  

Initial Orruks position

NoVA Open 2016 Recap Day 1

This year I was able to attend 3 days of the NoVA Open gaming convention.  NoVA open is mostly a tournament-oriented convention, but it has been expanding to other kinds of games like narrative scenarios and campaigns.  In fact, most major games systems present at NoVA (40k, Age of Sigmar, etc.) seem to have a narrative event as well as tournaments.  For my part, I wanted a "sample" of different games.  So, I signed up for a Lord of The Rings narrative event on Thursday, an Age of Sigmar tournament on Saturday, and a Wrath of Kings tournament  on Sunday.  I also hoped to get in a little opportunity gaming as well.  

My first game was a narrative scenario pitting the forces of a reconstituted Saruman and his Easterling servants against the forces of Queen Arwen.  I brought most of the Easterlings so I took command of them, with another player representing my brother as second.  I present the assault on Dol Amroth!

Dol Amroth under attack by land and sea.  Most of the Easterlings are my models

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Wrath of Kings: You should play this game! Also, House Nasier gallery

As some of you may recall from my Historicon post, my son was interested in Wrath of Kings (WoK), from CMON, Inc. by a demo he played there.  He spent the money he had saved on a starter box of the game, and we played a few games together that weekend.  I found the game to be very interesting, and picked up some more models to assemble and try more games.

Since that time, I have really become hooked.  What follows is a short review on WoK and why I recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy skirmish-scale miniatures games.

What is it?  

Wrath of Kings is a tabletop miniatures game by CMON, Inc.  It was launched as a Kickstarter in 2013 and was reasonably successful, clearing $700k.  Delivery took about a year and it arrived to backers in 2014, following on to store shelves thereafter.  Like many kickstarter miniatures games, it took a while to catch up the retail collection with the kickstarter offerings, and my impression is the game has flagged in popularity since the KS was delivered.  However, CMON recently released a second book with revised rules and a ton of new units and fiction.  The game is poised to take off again!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Age of Sigmar: Khorne vs Slaanesh Battle of Storms!

Scott came over for another round of our Age of Sigmar Khorne vs. Slaanesh rivalry.  This time we played about 1350 points, and chose a narrative scenario "War of Storms" from the General's Handbook.  

Scott took the following:

Keeper of Secrets
2x 20 Daemonettes
Herald of Slaanesh
10 Seekers of Slaanesh
Slaaneshi Soul Grinder

I took the Khorne Bloodbound with some Chaos Dwarf (Legion of Azagor) allies:

Exalted Deathbringer
Skaughter Priest
20 Blood Reavers
5 Blood Warriors
5 Wrathmongers
30 Infernal Guard Ironsworn 
10 Infernal Guard Firedrakes
3 Bull Centaur Renders

The mission objective was to move a storm front from the center of the table (lengthwise so starting at the 3" mark) to the opponent's table edge.  The storm front can be moved in 6" increments to the opponent's table edge by wounding the enemy general or 18" for killing them, and by 6" for winning an opposed die roll at the beginning of each turn.  A player with a "priest" model can add one to the roll.  Scott had not brought a priest so we decided his Herald of Slaanesh would function as one for balance.  Oh and if no one wins by the end of 6 turns, the player with the largest Storm territory wins.

Scott got the role of the "corrupter" and had two special rules: 1) He could use a general's command ability to give his troops a bonus to battle shock rolls  is he had a greater storm territory, and 2) when his models are wholly within his storm zone, get a plus one to wound rolls.  My role as the guardian gave me the ability to 1) summon a unit of 10 troops if I had a greater storm territory and 2) when my models are wholly within my storm zone, add one to my hit rolls.

My setup:  As usual the Blood Reavers play the part of expendable vanguard, backed by the Wrathmongers and the Bloodsecrator.  The Blood Warriors hold the left flank, while the Ironsworn hold the left with the Bull Centaurs as a vanguard.  Bringing up the rear is my general, the Exalted Deathbringer, accompanied by a Khorgorath.  Also present is a small gun line of Fire Glaives on the hill.

Monday, August 15, 2016

LOTR Battle Companies: Haradrim unleashed!

On Sunday I played in a Battle Companies campaign day at Island Games.  It was put on by Lance, who is unfortunately leaving the area for a few years, but has been running LOTR games for a while now.  We played the original Battle Companies rules published in White Dwarf, now OOP and available here:  http://www.lordsofmiddleearth.com/Battle%20Companies/Battle%20Companies.pdf

I decided to play a Haradrim company, the "Serpent's Strike", led by my warlord, Verthigras the Bold.  I started with 5 Haradrim with bows and 5 with spears.  My leader simply had one point of Fate.  The Haradrim are very average but get half bowmen to start and the "poisoned arrows" rule allowing them to re-roll wound rolls of one when shooting.  I figured that would be a nice perk.  

Battle 1: My first battle was against dwarves.  I was not happy about that as they have phenomenal defense.  The scenario was "Take the High Ground" where we were fighting over a central objective.  In this case, the nice statue of a Gondorian.  Once one warband dropped to 50% the game would end on a roll of 1 or 2, with the winner being the player with the most models within 3" of the objective.  

I advanced quickly and took the high ground as the stunties slowly came forward.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Age of Sigmar Reconsidered


So about a year ago, Games Workshop dropped the literal and figurative bomb on the Warhammer Fantasy community. They actually did what they said they were going to do: they ended the Old World.  In the storyline, Chaos was ultimately victorious and destroyed the forces of Order.  Only a few "good" races survived, such as the Slann and some of the Elves.  The god Sigmar survived as well, on a planetoid of Sigmarite that formed the Old World's core, speeding out into space. This massive change in storyline was certainly jarring for long-time devotees of the Warhammer world.

What came next was a complete re-haul of the game itself.  From a 200-plus page tome, the rules were reduced to (free) 4 pages: AoS rules

From ranked mass units, loose skirmish formations arose. The bases changed from square to round (unofficially as you can play with any base).  The army lists and to-hit and wound charts were replaced by "warscrolls" which gave you all the stats for each unit. Example:  Skaven Warscroll

No longer would you compare stats and look up results on a a chart.  Every warscroll gave you the to hit and wound numbers. Saving throws remained and so did saving throw modifiers, called the "rend" stat.  GW provided new (free) warscrolls for (almost?) all legacy models.  Their presentation was rather tone-deaf, in that there were a number of "silly" rules that left smarting fans feeling insulted. Example: Dwarf players with beards got re-rolls, etc.  (These appear to be removed from the currently available free scrolls.)

The 4-page rules set had only one scenario at release: battle to the death.  This was an error.  And to make matters more jarring, there were NO POINT VALUES.  The rules stated that players took turns placing models until both stopped.  And if one player had 1/3 more or greater number of troops than the opponent, they got a "sudden death?" win condition of their choice.  This seemed outrageous to most.  No other scenarios or game modes were provided at the time of release. Initial reviews of the new game were overwhelmingly negative.  Most described it as a dice-fest scrum in the middle of the board. Many real and imagined possible abuses of the no-points system were discussed.  Reaction as a whole seemed very bad.  Many players  (including me) renounced Warhammer Age of Sigmar for other systems such as Kings of War.  The US tournament scene voted overwhelmingly to replace Warhammer/AoS with Kings of War.  Kings of War becomes US tourney choice

Finally, GW added a new army, the Stormcast Eternals.  This new army comprised the forces of Sigmar.  In the story, Sigmar had retreated to his realm, Azyr, and pondered the creation of a weapon to oppose Chaos.  His answer was rather Nordic: re-forge the souls of fallen heroes of the mortal realms into nigh-immortal (albeit killable) armored warriors.  The result was a powerful and intimidating army of good (hitherto rather absent from Warhammer, to be fair) but which bore a strong similarity to Space Marines.

The reaction to the Stormcasts was rather mixed.  Some appreciated the new aesthetic and the presence of a "strong" army of good, others saw them as a cheap imitation of Space Marines and a ploy to boost sales by falling back on GW's biggest selling models.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Historicon 2016: A Father and Son Journey

This year, for the first time, I brought my oldest son to Historicon for the full convention.  Last year I brought him down for one day and he begged me to come back and to stay over in the hotel.  So I made plans to stay for the whole event, reasoning that we might as well get the full experience.

I made a special effort to sign him up for the HAWKS give-away game where they send kids home with entire armies to play with.  In addition, I had plans to help Luke of WWPD run a big Team Yankee game and to put on a game of my beloved DUST Tactics as well.  In addition, I planned to support and/or participate in some Gates of Antares gaming and a Hobbit Strategy Battle game.  On top of all that, I had a lot of stuff to sell off at the Flea Market, aka Wally's Basement.  In retrospect it was a very ambitious schedule.

I packed Wednesday night so there would be minimal delay on Thursday.  We dropped the little brother off at daycare to minimal complaint with the promise I would bring him back a "big monster" as a present.  Luckily we made it down to Fredericksburg in just over an hour.

Thursday:  First stop was the excellent Hobby University, where my son and I did some painting. Check them out here: Hobby University

 He realized there was shopping to be done, however, so we quickly moved on to the dealer hall!  He played a demo game of Wrath of Kings and had a great time.  We did get a starter set and play a bit!  Check it out here: Wrath of Kings