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:

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 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

SBG Dunland vs. Free Peoples-Who is the real Istari?

Four brave souls gathered at Huzzah Hobbies last night to play the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game (new name).  We decided to do a 1000 point battle using a NoVA Open scenario.  The goal of the game was to bring a "jewel-bearer" to a forge and "cast it into the fire" for three VPs.  Other goals included killing the enemy general, occupying ""diversion" points, and breaking the enemy force.  

The Forces of Good consisted of Saruman the Wise and Elendil of Numenor leading an alliance of Men and Dwarves.  Arrayed against them was an evil version of Saruman, Saruman of Many Colors (or the White if you are going by the movies) and his horde of Dunlendings and Uruk-Hai, aided by a Troll!  

Incidentally the battle was fought on the Trollshaws terrain made by John McConnell of DCHL and will be featured at the NoVA Open.  Excellent work, John!

Evil deployment

Good deployment


Evil takes priority and advances.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Team Yankee: Opening moves

Ah, the 1980s.  The time of my youth.  Who can forget Red Dawn, Rambo, The Day After, Reagan, Andropov (who?) and Star Wars (both kinds)?  Well, I can't.  And having had a father in the National Guard and an unhealthy (and continuing!) obsession with military topics, I was fascinated by the prospect of WWIII and a war with the Soviet Union.

My father set the tone by telling me in the early 80s that, if they so chose, the Soviets could be in France and on the English channel in 3 days.  He told me his 13F MOS (Forward Observer) had a very short life expectancy if the balloon went up.  I was terrified and fascinated by the Soviet war machine and its weapons like the Hind-D, as well as our own wonder weapons like the AH-64 Apache and the Stinger missile.  

Fast forward approximately 30 years approximately 30 years later and one of my favorite games, Flames of War, has reincarnated into a new version called Team Yankee.  

Based on the book by Harold Coyle, Team Yankee is a miniatures game of the mid-80s Cold War gone hot.  Seeing the fantastic models and reading the rulebook (filled of course with gorgeous pictures of said models on great gaming tables) I was hooked.  I quickly obtained starter-sized armies for both sides (okay maybe a bit bigger than starter-sized) and got painting in a frenzy.  

Due to family and other demands, I don't get to game as often as I would like these days.  Luckily I do have a rather agreeable game room and a good supply of 15mm terrain.  I was able to play a small game with a buddy but that was before I had painted anything.  So, in order to get my teeth into the Team Yankee system with all my shiny new toys, I decided to play a decent-sized solo game.  

The scenario I chose was "Dust Up" which consists of a meeting engagement between the two forces, with reserves potentially arriving from Turn 3.  Each side had two objectives in their deployment zones, and the zones were diagonally opposite halves of the board along the long table edge.  The combatants can achieve victory if either side suffers a morale failure, or seizes control of an objective in their opponent's deployment zone.  

To keep the game reasonably short, as I was playing later in the evening, I made two approximately 75-point forces.  I am still learning the game, so I apologize for any rules errors in advance.

1x M1 Command tank
2x 2 M1 platoon
2x 2 M1 platoon
2x Mech Inf Platoon with M113, 8 teams per platoon with law and dragon
2x VADS M113
2x ITV M113
2x Cobra Helicopter
2x A-10 Warthog flight

1x Command T-72
7x T-72 Company
6x T-72 Company
1x BMP Command w Ak47 team
4x BMP with 4 AK 47 team and 3 RPG-7 team
2x Gopher SA-13
2x Mi-24 Hind Helicopter

Setup:  Each side had to hold half their units in delayed reserve.  The Soviets deployed their larger T-72 company and the Hinds, along with the force commander tank.  

Across town, the M1s set up behind buildings, and the VADS deploy to cover them from air threats.