Tuesday, August 9, 2016

First Game of MkIII

Strakhov felt as though something was off. He didn't know when it had started, but the sensation had been growing stronger for several weeks now. It was hard to say for sure, but he was starting to suspect it was something to do with his magic. It just seemed... different somehow.

Pushing the persistent thoughts to the back of his mind, Strakhov focused himself on the task at hand. The Skorne scouting party he had been sent to intercept was coming into view, their Titans bellowing angrily at the sight of the bright red, highly visible warjacks the Khadoran master of stealth had brought with him. Well, looked like it was time to earn his paycheck.

This was my first game of MkIII. Needless to say I'm still hazy on what's different in the rules, so it's quite possible that I might have screwed stuff up. Anyway, I picked Strakhov, Torch, a Spriggan, my sniper-solos, and my usual Merc infantry. I had 12 points left after that, which I ended up spending on a Berserker and Sylyss; I debated some other combinations, but I though it might be interesting to try Berserk on a MAT 7 warjack with Overrun.
Nyss Hunters
Alexia & the Risen
Widowmaker Marksman

Beanpole was playing the new Battlebox caster:
Beast Handlers
Master Tormentor
Orin Midwinter

We rolled up a game with two flags and a zone, that looked quite easy to score your own flag. Beanpole won the roll and chose to go first. Out of habit I picked the side with more forests (I need to remember that Hunter doesn't work the same way anymore).

Beanpole had his warlock and battlegroup generally tending to my right, near his flag, with the infantry to my left.

I put Strakhov behind my flag on my left with my jacks lined up across the center. The Nyss Hunters went on the right to take advantage of the forest. The Risen were in the center behind everything.

The Bloodrunners went on my left, facing my caster.

Obviously I had to deploy the Cutthroats on my left to protect Strakhov. I wasn't sure what to do with my snipers so I put them together in the center to start.

Round 1:
Beanpole advanced everything. The Bloodrunners got Tough from the Willbreaker.

I put Superiority on the Berserker, Occultation on Strakhov, and Sentry on the Marksman. The Cutthroats spread out to jam a bit; I tried to use the wall to hold off the Bloodrunners by taking up most of the space behind it, which would also protect the Cutthroats from the Slingers. I decided I wanted the Snipers on the far right, so I ran them across. The Nyss Hunters spread out and tried to use the forest protectively. Alexia ran to my left as I realised I was probably going to lose a lot of Cutthroats.

Round 2
Xekaar debuffed the Nyss (-2 DEF and ARM). His infantry killed some Cutthroats. The Cannoneer fired at something and missed, but the deviation drifted over Cylena and the Widowmaker Marksman, killing them both. I was quite sad to lose the Marksman. The Agonizer used an ability that would debuff the STR of any of my models if they got close.

I was going to have a very hard time killing his Titans if that Agonizer was allowed to keep that up, so I decided to trade the Berserker for it. The Berserker got two and I gave out some focus to the other two jacks for boosting. Strakhov moved up to the flag, cast Overrun on the Bersker, threw a cinder bomb at it to kill the nearby Bloodrunner (I may have forgotten to give it the defensive bonus for being engaged), then killed a Slinger with his gun. Everything else worked on clearing infantry, except Kell who put some damage on the Agonizer.

The Berserker then charged a Slinger in order to trigger Overrun, but instead got counter-charged by the Bronzeback (who actually missed his charge attack). After killing the Slinger, I didn't think to trigger Overrun to escape or move something else closer or anything, and instead spent my focus putting a bit of damage on the Bronzeback. Fortunately the jack did not explode. At the end of the turn I scored a point for dominating my flag.

Round 3:
Beanpole was planning to kill the Berserker with the Gladiator and charge the Bronzeback into Torch. However, abysmal rolls mean the Berserker actually survived the attack (thinking back though, I don't remember when the movement system got crippled; it's possible he shouldn't have missed one attack - or maybe he would have, I distinctly remember a double-one for one of his attack rolls). Instead the Titan finished off the Berserker by throwing it at Torch. The rest of his  forces focussed on clearing the zone so Xekaar could move in, feat, and dominate for two. I scored one, tying our scores.

I wasn't going to be able to kill his Titans with a total of -5 STR this turn, so instead I jammed the zones with my Risen and toed the Spriggan into the zone in the forest for extra insurance. Torch got Superiority. I finished off most of his combat infantry, making damn sure to kill the Master Tormentor with a double-boosted Torch spray (I did not need to loose half my Risen to a single MAT 8 Reach Thresher). I scored again, putting me at 3.

Round 4:
Xekaar debuffed the Spriggan, then the Bronzeback got Rush and simply walked through the woods to annihilate it. One Slinger ran to contest my flag. The rest of his army managed to take out all the Risen, allowing him to score two points, bringing him up to four.

Well, I pretty much had no chance of winning by scenario now, so it was time for a last-ditch assassination attempt. A Thrall I had from last turn charged the Bronzeback to stop any counter-charge nonsense. Kell and the Cutthroats shot down the Agonizer, Alexia managed to land an aimed double-boosted handcannon shot on Xekaar, doing a pretty impressive 11 damage which was obviously transferred, leaving the warlock with 2 Fury. Strakhov filled up Torch, cast Overrun on himself, walked up to catch Xekaar in his feat, and just managed to kill the contesting Slinger to walk Torch close enough to Xekaar to get the charge. The assault spray missed but the initials hit. I rolled abysmally for damage; on the five damage dice for the first two attacks I rolled four 1s and a 2. It didn't really matter though, because he only had two transfers left and I had three attacks, which was just enough to finish it.

Xekaar's magical defenses finally failed under Torch's spinning sawblade. He fell back, bleeding heavily, but before Torch could follow up for the kill he sensed his master's mind rapidly growing more distant. Abandoning the Skorne warlock, he ran to keep up with his warcaster.

Kell yelled at Strakhov as he ran past.
"Boss! Where are you going?"
"Isn't it obvious you fool? I'm running away, like we always do!"
"But boss! We won!"

Strakhov came to an abrupt halt.
"I said we won! Look!"
Strakhov turned to see the remaining Skorne forces hastily carrying their injured warlock to safety. He scratched his head, confused by this unfamiliar feeling.
"Huh. Well, that's new."

As nice as it is to be able to say that I won my first game of MkIII, it was a very narrow and lucky win, and if Beanpole had thought to reave the Fury from the Agonizer, I would have lost.

Which is a little bit of an annoying thought; a fully-loaded up Torch, with a buff and a free charge, and a bit of help from Alexia, would not have been able to kill the most fragile caster in all of Skorne if my opponent hadn't made a mistake. Basically, the big assassination move that Strakhov is partly built around is just not very useful against Hordes.

If course Strakhov isn't just an assassination caster, and he's probably better at general attrition than he was in MkII. Plus it's not like I didn't make plenty of mistakes myself.

Actually, I felt very rusty going in. I must have spent at least 10 minutes at the start of each turn, if not much more on some turns, just staring at the board trying to figure out what to do. I basically did nothing at all with my Nyss and very little with my snipers for most of the game.

I forgot about the Bronzeback's counter-charge again, then after he used it I just left Torch in his threat range when I could have moved him away (I think I had already activated the Spriggan, though I could have repositioned him with the Overrun move from killing the Slinger if I had thought to), leaving both my main heavies in it's threat range, but just out from contesting the zone - in fact I almost completely forgot about the zone, any models contesting it were there by chance.

I'm wondering if I could have reached Xekaar without killing the Agonizer. Of course, if Torch had Bulldoze then that wouldn't have been a problem. It honestly feels as if the kit that Strakhov wants in his main warjack is split between Torch and the Spriggan: he loves Bulldoze and 2" reach to make sure the jack can get to the target, but he wants the better MAT and Sustained Attack so he's not at the mercy of the dice against high-DEF warnouns (which is pretty much all of them). I would have loved it if they gave Torch Bulldoze; I reckon he needs it far more than Black Ivan does.

Playing Strakhov is so much less painful now that he doesn't constantly find himself lacking the focus he needs to do even simple things. The fact that he can get all his upkeeps out on turn one feels amazing (which is kinda sad; it really shouldn't be that big a deal). Being able to fully load up a warjack and cast Superiority and Overrun on it is so liberating. I love it. To be clear he doesn't feel like he has more focus than he can use or anything, but in this game at least he felt to me like he had exactly enough; every turn I seemed to have the exact amount of focus needed to do what I wanted.

While I missed Poison on the Cutthroats, I do like that they're cheaper and reposition is nice on them; it actual works as a pseudo accuracy buff, as I can afford to aim more often with it. I really wish Croe still had 2" reach on his sword though, it made him much better at jamming.

Man, P+S 18 does not feel like enough when you've got the Agonizer debuffing your STR. I really should have gone after it more aggressively with the Nyss Hunters, as I basically couldn't touch his Titans as long as it was alive. Heh, it's stuff like this that keeps pushing me to build for shooting against Skorne.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Are these guys for real?

I just received some more Knight Models in the post. Here's one of them right out of the box. By the way, this model's other leg is suspended and does not help support the model.

I've complained about Knight Models' poor casting quality and ridiculously delicate weapons before, but this is just too much. I mean, sculpting an entire soft metal model - that's a gaming piece meant to be handled, not a display piece - that relies completely on such a tiny little ankle to support it? What were they thinking? This is just unforgivable. A weapon is one thing, but the whole model? I have literally never seen such a stupid sculpt for a gaming miniature. I mean, it didn't even survive transport in it's foam-padded blister pack unscathed, how is supposed to survive cleaning, painting, transport, and handling? Pretty sure it won't, not if I don't install a pin for added strength.

I don't really understand how Knight Models was able to aquire and maintain the rights to all these licensed properties, when there's much bigger companies that are much better at casting. Well, OK, Knight Models' sculpts are usually (in my eyes at least) as good as most and better than many given the scale and subject matter, so I won't fault them for that, but... sigh. Maybe I've just been spoiled, but I can get great sculpts with better casts for lower costs from at least a half-dozen other companies, so I'm just not feeling satisfied with Knight.

Oh well. Let's just hope the end result is worth it I guess.

Monday, July 18, 2016

In the immortal words of James May: "It's the Rozzers!"

With the whole "MkIII" thing going on, I've been somewhat demotivated when it comes to Warmahordes lately, so I took the opportunity to paint these fellows. I actually think I could have finished them quite quickly if I hadn't been quite so busy with Real Life (TM); as it was they took far too long, and I got bogged down with annoying details and stupid mistakes at the end.

I figured these guys would be a good chance to experiment with painting cloth, which I'm not very good at. When painting the ninjas I used simple drybrushes, but I tried a slightly more involved technique for this lot. Basically, I started off by painting the cloth in the shade colour, then drybrushing lightly with the highlight colour, then actually painting the highlight colour directly onto the raised areas that were now easier to see, before finally applying a heavier drybrush with the same highlight colour to soften the transitions. I think the results are pretty decent. The jackets and trousers are Regal Blue highlighted with Enchanted Blue, while the shirts are Enchanted Blue highlighted with Ice Blue.

This is Reginald
Or "Reggie" for short
Named after Reginald VelJohnson
Who played Sgt. Al Powell in Diehard

I actually tried applying a wash of Asurmen Blue to one model ("Reggie" here) before highlighting to further increase the contrast, but I decided that it was too much and did not do it on the other three. I painted Reggie's skin the same way I painted Zeddemore's: Doombull Brown, a wash of Devlan Mud, then a drybrush of Doombull Brown.

Here we have Danny
Named after Danny Trejo
You may not remember this, but Machete was originally a cop
Although I can't image Machete using a tazer...

In order to introduce some contrast I used Vallejo Model Colour Black highlighted with Codex Grey and Vallejo Model Colour Black Grey highlighted with Fortress Grey on different materials. On Reggie and Danny I then washed the blacks and greys with Badab Black, but didn't on the other two. Not really sure which I prefer here. Danny's skin was just Dwarf Flesh washed with Ogryn Flesh. The yellow on his tazer is Iyanden Darksun washed with Gryphonne Sepia (I think) then highlighted with Sunburst Yellow.

Meet Kelly
Named after Kelly Hu
Who played an awesome Kung-Fu cop in Martial Law

Kelly's hair was painted with Vallejo Model Colour Black Grey and highlighted with Shadow Grey (which is somewhat bluish-grey) then Blue Horror; I hoped the blue tones would help her hair stand out from her hat, but I don't think it worked quite as well as I had hoped. Her skin is just standard Elf Flesh washed with Ogryn Flesh. Her lips were Elf Flesh mixed with Scab Red (although it seems I accidentally painted Elf Flesh back over the top lip without noticing, I might have to go back and fix that some day). I had initially tried lighter shades of red but once mixed with enough Elf Flesh to start to blend in with the skin in it would get too light, using Scab Red gave me a decent red/skin colour.

And last but not least is Bruce
Named after Bruce Willis
Who has of course played more cops having a bad day than I can count
Here I was specifically thinking of Detective Jack Mosley from 16 Blocks

Bruce's skin is the same Elf Flesh/Ogryn Flesh combo. As you can see in the photos, I tend to have trouble getting Elf Flesh to look smooth. I like the colour though, at least in conjunction with Ogryn Flesh. I might have to try different paints in similar colours; maybe the new GW version will be smoother, or perhaps I should see what PP has (I've never tried their "liquid pigment" paints, I really should). I think his hair was Iyanden Darksun highlighted with Sunburst Yellow, but I don't really remember. I should have done something to increase the contrast further as it looks a bit flat right now, but I wasn't sure what to do and just gave up in the end.

The bases were Doombull Brown with a generous wash of Devlan Mud, same as before. Badges were just Gehenna's Gold over Doombull Brown, highlighted with Auric Armour Gold. I tried Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Gloss Varnish since I've been having trouble with Citadel's Gloss Varnish and the Winsor & Newton is available locally; it went on fine, though I'm not sure how it compares in terms of protection given. Eyes were painted white with a simple black dot, done before skin was washed. While this looked fine on Reggie, the lack of a strong outline didn't look as good on Kelly and Bruce (Danny didn't get eyes as the model was basically squinting); they kind of look as if they haven't been getting enough sleep or something.

I had considered laying down a black or dark brown layer first, then painting the eyes on top to leave a stronger outline, but decided against it because a) it would have taken a lot more work (when working on eyes it takes a lot of back-and-forth between colours to get the shape right; adding another colour into the mix adds a LOT of work), and b) I was afraid I would not be able to get a fine enough line at this scale and it would end up looking bad.

Speaking of the eyes, I found their eyes harder to do than usual. Often when painting miniatures you can get the model to do much of the work by allowing the brush to glide gently along seams and edges and things. When painting these four's faces however, I found problems with the casts (or maybe with the sculpts) meant that the model was working against me instead; the underlying topography did not match what I wanted the eyes to look like. It was very frustrating.

That wasn't the only casting issue I had. While I typically like Knight Model's sculpts, so far I have been quite disappointed with their casts. I've never has as much trouble simply assembling metal Games Workshop or Privateer Press models as I have with these simple grunts. There was a lot of cleanup needed, and quite a bit of reconstruction; separate pieces such as arms often don't really meet very cleanly and need a lot of gap-filling (more than I'm used to).

Take Reggie for example: even though his left arm was not seperate from his body, his left shoulder was such a mess that I had to cut off a lot of extra material and try to sculpt a decent looking shoulder area myself. His original nightstick was of course a hopeless lost cause (why do Knight Models keep sculpting these tiny weapons that they must know won't last five minutes of casual handling, much less actual gameplay?) and had to be cut off and replaced by a length of paperclip, of course the same was true for Kelly's. And by the time I had finished cleaning the mold lines off his head, he no longer had a right ear. I'm not sure if it was actually there or not to begin with, but I don't remember seeing anything except a nasty mold line. I had to sculpt him a new right ear, which didn't really match his left in the end. Oh well, I guess he just got a cauliflower ear from boxing or something.

Overall they just took more work than I expected them to. Well, I guess they look pretty good in the end, at least for grunts. I'm fairly happy with the cloth considering this is quite a low-skill technique, and I expect I shall be using it on most clothing moving forwards. Funnily enough I actually haven't painted a model from my either of my current Warmachine factions all year so far; I should probably do something about that. Meh, I'll think about it.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hoisted By My Own Petard

I had a rare chance to play against Blondie, but unfortunately he didn't have his army with him. So I put together two 35 point lists from my Khador and Mercs. I gave him the Butcher, who I figured is the easiest of my casters to get the hang of:
Butcher I
- Kodiak
- Devastator
- Sylyss
Croe's Cutthroats
- Valachev
Kayazy Eliminators
Alexia & the Risen
Widowmaker Marksman
Kell Bailoch

The two biggest problems I've had with the Butcher are his lack of speed buffs for his jacks and his inability to hand out Pathfinder. So I picked the Kodiak for Pathfinder, and the Devastator, because it can afford to be slow. Then I tried to pick shooty models since I figured that would match Blondie's playstyle. I gave him Alexia and the Eliminators as they are just fun units. For myself I decided to take the chance to play the Hoff:
- Torch
- Wardog
MOW Kovnik
- Berserker
Nyss Hunters
Harlan Versh
Koldun Lord

This was an opportunity for me to pull out some models that don't get much play time anymore, like the MOW Kovnik and Torch. Thor is in there because I had a couple of points left and no other solos. OK, yes, I could have taken mechanics or something, but why would I do that?

I remembered the terrain this time, but forgot the gaming mat. Sigh. We made do by taping the zone markers at the corners of the 4' play area. We picked the mission with two round zones. I won the roll and chose to go first.

Nothing special happening on my side. I put Strakhov on the right so he could potentially hang out in the forest for protection.

Blondie spread out a bit, putting Butcher in the middle, Alexia on the far right, the Eliminators on the left, the Kodiak behind the forest and the Devastator balancing him out on the other side. The Cutthroats went in the center, Kell stood in the forest where he could get Stealth, with the Widowmaker behind the wall.
Forest and a wall on each side, a hill in the center.

Round 1:
I ran my models up and spread out. Superiority went on Torch (obviously) and Occultation on the Kovnik. Strakhov stood in the forest.

His forces advanced. The snipers and Cutthroats took out half the Nyss. He toed both zones even though he didn't have to worry about them yet. Fury went on the Devastator and Iron Flesh on the Cutthroats.

Round 2:
I lost more Nyss Hunters than I had expected last turn. Unfortunately for me he was still out of range of most my models; it's possible that my some of the Nyss Hunters might have been able to walk into the 5" range where I could actually shoot at his models, but it would only have been two or three of them at most, shooting at DEF 16 models; I decided I had best run forwards to jam instead. So the Nyss Hunters ran to engage the Cutthroats.

For some reason I decided to try to put some damage on the Demolisher, so I moved Strakhov up and feated. I cast Overrun on Torch in the hopes that I could use it to move Strakhov backwards, but I failed to kill the Cutthroat in front of the Devastator so I had to use to move Torch into engagement instead. This left me running all my support models around Strakhov to try to protect him from the Eliminators. The Kovnik and Berserker took advantage of the feat to close the distance with Blondie's lines.

Meanwhile, filled with righteous fury, Kell gunned down four of Alexia's foul undead servants.
Kell is actually out of frame, on the bottom right.

Butcher popped his feat and charged Torch, taking out almost half his boxes with a single hit. The Devastator then finished him off with his initials, leaving him sitting on 3 focus with nothing to use it on (I suggested he use it to attack the nearby Cutthroats, but Blondie wasn't convinced...).

The Cutthroats then used Zephyr to disengage from the Nyss Hunters (why did I run to engage again? I should know what Valachev does!) and shot a couple down, with Croe himself cutting down the Kovnik with the exact damage roll needed. The Kodiak used his Vent Steam to kill two more Nyss Hunters. Three Risen charged Versh and clawed him to the ground. The Eliminators and the Widowmaker took down Strakhov's screen.

The Eliminators scored the left zone, and the Kodiak scored the right, bringing Blondie to two points.

Round 3:
Well, I had just lost most of my army; all I had left was Strakhov, the autonomous Berserker, and a single brave Nyss Hunter. But I still had a small chance to win.

The Nyss Hunter killed the Cutthroat in front of the Butcher, and the Berserker charged him. Needing 9's he whiffed both his initial attack. Oh well, it was worth a try.

I still had a chance to score my zone for one point though, if Strakhov could kill the four models in the zone. I figured I could kill the Eliminators with a Rift (which would also help keep Strakhov safe), then hopefully the two Cutthroats with shooting attacks. Sadly it took two Rifts to kill the Eliminators, and without any focus Strakhov couldn't hit the Cutthroats even though he aimed.

So Blondie scored another two points, bringing him to four.

The Kodiak attacked the Berserker in the back; he used his chain attack to knock down the Berserker, and finished it off with the Butcher. Something killed the last Nyss Hunter. The Alexia, the Marksman, and the Cutthroats all shot at the zero-camp Strkahov, but only managed to do a few boxes to him.

Finally Blondie scored another two points, bringing him to six points and winning him the game.

Well, at least Strakhov survived, right? Even if nothing else did... seriously, I was not expecting my army to get wiped out so easily. Eh, I guess that's just what the Butcher does, right?

In hindsight, I can see a lot of mistakes I made. I should have put Occultation on the Nyss Hunters; I was worried about poisoned weapons killing the Kovnik and depended on their good DEF to keep them safe, but with aiming snipers and Cutthroats on the other side that wasn't good enough. Meanwhile I wasted my most accurate model - Torch with Superiority - on the ARM 25 Devastator. I probably should have just ignored the Devastator; Strakhov probably could have kept him locked down with Rift or something, and left Torch to occupy the Cutthroats, or tried to get him into Butcher.

Thematic though it may have been, Holt was wasted on Risen. Well, with Stealth on everything else he wasn't going to do very much before getting killed no matter what. Still, he killed four models in one turn, that's pretty cool. The Kovnik's death was rather sad; if I had just left him out and taken the Berserker on Strakhov then I might have had a better chance of taking out Butcher in the end, seeing as I would have been able to allocate focus to the Berserker and cast Superiority on it.

Perhaps I should have tried to put up a bit of a cloud wall in the early turns, with Reinholdt for the second Cinder Bomb and Torch's own smoke bomb? It would have meant moving very slowly, but against a stealthy shooting army that might have been the right way to go.

Anyway, Blondie played a good game, quickly getting the hang of the different model's strengths and using them to good effect. I don't think he needed to get Butcher involved the way he did, but I imagine it was fun for him since I don't think he's had a chance to play with a heavy hitter like Butcher before.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Final MkII Battle Calculator Release

I've finally gotten the MkII Battle Calculator to the point where it basically works for most normal situations. There's still a few special rules that it doesn't deal with (like Convergence force fields and Crit Shred)... that I know of, and probably a whole bunch that I haven't thought of, but it finally handles the five W's: Warcasters, Warlocks, Warriors, Warjacks, Warbeasts.

It also displays more information now, though not quite everything that I was originally thinking of. I initally planned to have it display the chance of both a Warjack's cortex and main weapon surviving, but I decided it wasn't worth the effort at this point, especially since it's a simple multiplication of the two numbers that it does give you.

I can't promise that it doesn't have any bugs (actually, I'd be pretty surprised if it didn't), so it might be a good idea not to put too much faith in it right now. I don't really have any ideas for how I could have made it more robust, but again it doesn't really matter since it'll be obsolete very soon.

Some things I would like to do for the next version:
  • Make it look nicer
  • Make the interface neater and more modular
  • Display the actual damage done by the attacker assuming infinite damage boxes on the defender (currently the simulation stops when the defender dies, so we don't actually know the total damage done; though you can basically figure it out for simple situations by creating a warrior with, like, a million damage boxes).
  • Allow simulation of multiple attackers (right now you can fake it for attackers with a single weapon profile by adding focus for each extra attacker). 
  • Comment the code better so that it's easier for others to read it and give me feedback.
  • Give more structured visual feedback / debug info to make it easier to catch bugs and check that everything is actually working the way it's supposed to.
  • Perhaps add some way of saving out the profiles, so you don't need to enter a model's full profile every time you want to run a simulation with it (not sure if I would be getting into some sticky I.P. territory here).

We'll see how it goes once I've had some time with MkIII.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

[ArnieVoice] Ice To Meet You! [/ArnieVoice]

New naming convention: from now on all battle report posts featuring Sorscha will use horrible "cold" jokes from Batman & Robin. That should save me from having to think up my own stupid jokes for a good while.

It'd been so long since my last game (a whole six weeks) that I'd forgotten how to play. Either that or I just hadn't been getting enough sleep. Luckily I had a list all ready written up since before my last game, so at least I didn't need to waste any precious brain juice on that.
Sorscha II
Croe's Cutthroats
Nyss Hunters
Aiyana & Holt
Harlan Versh
Koldun Lord

That's right, no Alexia. MADNESS!!! It was difficult and slightly painful, but I decided to take her out of rotation for a while as I wanted to try Harlan Versh; he's supposed to be good when you can freeze whole units. Beanpole has announced his intention to play Makeda I through the rest of 2nd edition; I think he might not be particularly enthusiastic about some of the leaked changes that will effect her in MkIII.
Makeda I
-Molik Karn
Cetrati (6)
Immortals (10)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (4)
Tyrant Commander
Ancestral Guardian

We played the scenario with three flags. I won the roll and chose to go first; I decided today was not a day to make things harder for myself than they needed to be. Beanpole picked the side with less rough terrain. By the way, I had actually forgotten to bond a warjack to eSorscha, so we played without it.

I put one unit on each side, with Sorscha and my solos in the middle sandwiched by my jacks. Beanpole basically did the same, but in a tighter brick.

Round 1:
First thing I did... was make my first mistake and forget to allocate focus. Second thing I did... was make my second mistake and forget to leave anything close enough to Sorscha to put Iron Flesh on. So my jacks got Boundless Charge instead (I even forgot that I could use Power Booster...), and everything spread out, with my solos running unprotected down the middle.

Beanpole put Savagery on the Cetrati, who moved up in Shield Wall, then swapped Defender's Ward onto them and moved Savagery over to Immortals. The Krea put up it's animus to protect some of the Immortals.

Round 2
Well, I didn't want to have to deal with DEF 14 ARM 22 Cetrati in my face, so I decided to jam them away from the flag with Iron Fleshed Nyss. I decided that Sorscha would focus on the left flag, so I moved her posse towards it while running the Koldun Lord over to the other side to support the Spriggan.

Meanwhile, I wanted to start whittling down the Immortals as quickly as possible, so Aiyana moved up and Kissed them. Holt killed one but whiffed on another, and Versh gunned a couple down as well (Savagery is an upkeep...); sadly the 2" limitation on his quad-iron coupled with poor target acquisition on my part kept him from killing more. The Spriggan killed one with hot dice on a grenade, and the Cutthroats killed one or two and I think put a few boxes of damage on the Krea. At this point it occurred to me that Karn might be able to reach my Spriggan, so I ran the Eliminators forwards to try to help keep him safe.

The Krea moved up and used it's animus to reduce the DEF of my Eliminators. The Immortals and Ancestral Guardian jammed forwards and killed a bunch of Cutthroats and one Eliminator. Molik Karn walked up and cut down Aiyana, Holt, and Versh. The Cetrati moved up a bit and killed an Eliminator but missed their attacks on the other. Finally Karn used Fate Walker to move over and help shield Makeda. I think I might have had a chance to trigger Versh's Witch Hunter shot on Makeda this round, but I forgot until later and I doubt it would have done anything anyway since she didn't have any upkeeps on her.

Round 3:
The Cetrati had killed one Nyss but missed the other, which was slightly annoying because it actually meant that most of them were engaged, making them harder to hit with Freezing Grip. So Sorscha took all the help she could get, moved up and boosted the roll, luckily landing the hit. However, she didn't have enough focus left to move back now, so I tried to form a wall in front of her with Nyss Hunters, spending their actions on CRAs into Molik Karn. I had planned to move the frontmost Eliminator in front of the Cyclops as well, but for some reason I didn't. The Decimator walked two inches into the forest, then shot a Cetrati and used Beat-Back to move the extra half-inch needed to base the flag and score me a point.

Over on my right, I decided to use my two Greylords to spray the bunched up Immortals rather than casting support spells - they would ignore engagement and the Krea's animus after all. Their attacks whiffed horribly and didn't do any damage at all. The Cutthroats killed, like, one Immortal, then the Spriggan hit the Krea a couple of times. The remaining Eliminator charged at Molik Karn, mainly to make it harder for him to get to Sorscha.

It seems I can't judge Molik Karn's threat range very well, because my "Nyss Wall" wasn't very good. Makeda moved around the well and killed the Eliminator, clearing his path, and he charged the Nyss. With Carnage up he needed 9's, and luckily for me his first attack missed even boosting. His second attack killed the Nyss Hunter and allowed him to Side Step closer, but it turned out he was about a quarter of an inch out, so he used FateWalker to move back and base the central flag.

Something (probably an Immortal) killed the Koldun Lord, and my Cutthroats were cut down to just two men, who failed their command check. The Ancestral Guardian and the Krea put a bit of damage on the Spriggan. I scored a second point on the left flag, while Beanpole scored a point in the center.

Round 4:
I had to decide whether to freeze the Cetrati again, or to focus on Molik Karn - I might be able to kill him without freezing him, but it improved my chances. Ultimately I decided that Karn was by far the bigger threat. So Sorscha hit him with a boosted Freezing Grip, the popped her feat to catch him, the Gladiator, and the Cetrati, before walking away and camping a point of focus. The Decimator then hit him with a POW 15 shot, rolling 1 damage (which was doubled to 2). Three Nyss Hunters walked up to jam the Cetrati, managing to kill one (no shield wall this turn thanks to Freezing Grip last turn, and the feat helped of course), while the remaining five put a POW 15 CRA into Karn, rolling 8 damage. Doubled to 16, this was enough to finish him off. I was planning to walk the Spriggan up and stab him if he survived, but looking at the photos now I don't think I had the range, so I was lucky I got that big damage roll. Instead the Spriggan finished off the Krea, and the Cutthroats rallied. I scored a third point.

The Immortals killed another Cutthroat but left Croe alive. The Ancestral Guardian, Tyrant Commander, and some Immortals started focussing on the Spriggan. The Gladiator based the flag. Makeda killed a couple of Nyss Hunters, allowing two Cetrati to walk forwards and contest the flag. Beanpole scored another point for the central flag, bringing him up to 2.

Round 5:
Dammit, Shield-Walled Cetrati were contesting my flag! I gave the Decimator a point of focus. Sylyss gave Sorscha Arcane Secrets, then she froze the Cetrati again. The Decimator fired twice at the rear contesting model; sadly it bumped into Makeda while still in contesting range. Three Nyss Hunters killed his now unsupported buddy, but it wasn't enough to let me score. One Nyss Hunter moved up to contest the central flag, and Reinholdt joined him just to be extra annoying. The Spriggan finally finished off the Ancestral Guardian, and Croe killed the Immortals' UA.

Makeda put up Carnage. The Gladiator abandoned the flag and focussed on killing Nyss Hunters, managing to take two down. The Beast Handlers moved up to take his place, basing the flag and attacking Reinholdt; luckily for me they missed. The Immortals surrounded the Spriggan and started chipping away at his armour, while the Standard Bearer based the flag on the right - this would allow his unit to score if he could just take down the Spriggan.

Round 6:
I might have been able to get the Decimator into the Gladiator this turn, but that would mean spending my focus on that rather than keeping the Cetrati locked down. So I decided to take the chance that he could get to the Decimator and focus on scoring. Sorscha froze the Cetrati again. The Decimator killed the contesting Cetrati. The Nyss Hunters shot at the Beast Handlers, killing two, and formed a wall in front of the Decimator. The Spriggan rolled poorly and failed to kill the Tyrant Commander. I scored my fourth point.

Makeda came forwards and tried to open a path for the Gladiator to reach the Decimator, but whiffed both her initial attacks against the Nyss Hunters. So she just camped the rest of her fury. Marketh swapped Defender's Ward onto the Gladiator, who moved up to contest my flag, killing Cylena while he was there. The Immortals and Tyrant Commander spread out so the Spriggan couldn't get his shield attack without taking some free-strikes; he was probably down to a third of his boxes or less at this point. The Beast Handlers whiffed on Reinholdt again.

Round 7:
OK, I just needed to score one more point to win. The Decimator might be able to push the Gladiator far away enough to let me score, or I could go all in and try to kill it. Or I could try to kill Makeda, though with 4 fury I didn't think that was very likely. Ultimately I decided to try something else instead.

So I allocated one focus to the Decimator as a backup, and charged Sorscha at Makeda. I actually got the hit, doing 8 damage which was transferred to the Gladiator. Then I used Cyclone to move over and base the middle flag, killing one of the Beast Handlers. Unfortunately I had misjudged the distances and the second one was out of Sorscha's melee range. With three focus left, I cast a boosted Razor Wind and rolled high, killing the last Paingiver.

The Decimator whiffed both his shots against the Gladiator, the Nyss whiffed on Makeda, and the Spriggan whiffed on the Tyrant Commander, but none of that mattered as I scored my fifth point for the win.

That was a tense game! Even though I was technically in the lead the whole time, my position was always tenuous; many times a single good roll was all it would have taken to cost me the game.

Actually, Beanpole had some pretty poor dice on some pretty important rolls. Obviously Karn missing his attack on the Nyss Hunter was the only thing that saved Sorscha, but a single good Paingiver attack roll would have taken out Reinholdt and allowed Beanpole to start scoring the central flag, and a few good damage rolls against the Spriggan (he was rolling solidly below average on that side) could have freed up the flag on the right. Makeda missing the Nyss Hunters while trying to clear a path for the Gladiator to get to the Decimator was also crappy luck, but to be honest it wouldn't have changed anything since at that point I was already prepared to send Sorscha into the Paingivers and the Gladiator wouldn't have changed that.

Of course if I hadn't managed to kill the last Paingiver at the end, Sorscha would have been left high and dry with Makeda in her back arc. Well, even if Sorscha had missed Rienholdt could have moved out of engagement, giving my Nyss Hunters and perhaps even the Decimator (who had a focus on him) a chance to do it themselves (assuming they survived the free strikes, but at DEF 18 they had a decent chance).

Thinking about it, perhaps I should have tried to kill Rienholdt using the attack from Cyclone at the end? That way I would have had much better odds of hitting the last Paingiver with a Razor Wind since he wouldn't have been engaging anyone, and Sorscha could still score since she was basing the flag.

In retrospect, it would have been nice if the Spriggan had been bonded. Not for the focus, but because then I would have kept freezing Beanpole's models, which would have made a big difference on that side. Especially since the Spriggan missed several attacks. Also, I've been thinking that Beast 09 would have done more than the Spriggan in this game. Having less ARM would have been a factor, but Thresher and his higher MAT would have done a lot more work in that situation than the Spriggan did. Of course a Devastator would have worked too. Still, the Spriggan killed more than 8 points of models and held up that side for the entire game, so I certainly can't complain.

I was careless with my solos; losing Versh early was a shame on his first game, but that's pretty much normal for me; I think it happens to most models first time I put them down. Of course killing them kept Karn busy; otherwise he might have been able to reach the Spriggan, so it was a worthwhile sacrifice I would say. Maybe next game I'll do more with him. Losing the Koldun Lord was probably the stupider move; having some focus to put on the Spriggan would have been nice. Eh, Sorscha 2 doesn't really want to spend focus on jacks anyway so I probably shouldn't be taking two of them, but I don't really have anything else that isn't dependent on DEF to survive, and against the wrong army having too fragile a force is a problem, plus they are more dependable armour crackers than the Nyss or Cutthroats, so I like having them.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Bustin' Some Ghosts

I played a "learning game" of Ghostbusters with some friends who don't play wargames but have been known to partake of the occasional boardgame. Needless to say it was quite messy at first, but things were moving a little more smoothly near the end.

Dramatis Personae:
Dr. Peter Venkman........... NeoXFire
Dr. Ray Stantz................. Soul Samurai
Dr. Egon Spengler............ Fish
Winston Zeddemore......... Plastic Man

Ironically, the only one of us who is an actual doctor is Plastic Man. Anyway, the game started with us all hopping out of the car and catching some of the smaller ghosts... and getting slimed.

The slime really bogged things down, plus we had problems with ghosts escaping from our traps, so we started to stick closer together to clear the slime off each other, focus our proton beams on the tougher ghosts, and deposit ghosts as soon as we caught them.

Thanks to slime and some bad rolls, it didn't feel like we were making much progress for a while.

But eventually we managed to focus on the gates and shut them down.

By the end of the first game everyone had reached level 2, with Dr. Plastic Man leading in experience. Interestingly enough none of his experience came from his characters' special ability (unlike myself and NeoXFire). Either he caught a whole heap of the ghosts, or he was subtly cheating...

The game played a lot slower than I was expecting; it felt like you couldn't do very much in a single turn. However, I think our inexperience was part of the problem; perhaps next time we'll get through turns quickly enough that not doing as much in a single turn won't feel like such a limitation.

There's a few rules I'm still not sure about. It seems that getting into or out of the Ecto-1 requires a "maneuver", but you can also get into it by just walking "onto" it? Also, do you get experience when you catch a ghost or when you deposit it? We played it as being when you deposit it, which I suspect makes more sense since there's ways in which ghosts can escape.

The first scenario at least didn't really have a realistic loss condition. I haven't read the loss conditions on later scenarios, but I hope they will be slightly more threatening. We'll see I guess.