Monday, August 31, 2015

Team Yankee

Team Yankee is a new upcoming miniature game from Battlefront, the makers of Flames of War. It is an alternate history World War 3 game based on the novel of the same name. I talked a bit about it on the War Journal podcast, but I want to give it more attention here. As Battlefront's first non historic miniature game (to my knowledge) there is a lot to say about it.

At this time very little has actually been release about the game. Nevertheless, excitement for it runs high. Why the excitement? Set in the mid 80s, it will be the only major miniature war game that features modern day weaponry. So whether you are a historical fan of modern military vehicles or you love classic 80's action war movies then you will soon have a miniature game you can play at your local gaming store. There are so many vehicles fans are looking forward to such as the Tomcat, Apache, Black Hawk, Abrams and more. Probably the most exciting and talk about vehicle is the Russian Mil Mi-24, known by most as the Hind. In every movie I've seen that has a Hind in it, that helicopter has such a intimidating and terrifying presence. I wouldn't be surprise if most players of Team Yankee has a few Hinds, regardless if they play Soviets or not. Personally I have another favorite I want to see on the gaming table (well third favorite after the Hind and Apache). I've nearly forgotten about this helicopter until very recently. It is the Hughes OH-6 Cayuse and its various cousins such as the MD 500 Defender. I first got introduce to this helicopter from the TV show Airwolf as more than one villain had a Hughes variety. I also remember a Hughes variety in many other movies as well. Off the top of my head both Blue Thunder and Fire Birds movies had a final showdown with one.

I do have some concerns with the game. There are a lot of modern military vehicles that I love and they all are aircrafts. In Flames of War aircraft have a very minor role in the game and on the battlefield. That is not to say they are not important. Aircraft can easily change the outcome of a battle but the actual time they are on the game table is very small compare to other models. Lists can have a maximum of one aircraft and for that option you only need one model. I really hope Team Yankee does not go with the Flame of War style and instead give aircraft an much more active role in the game. I would love to be able to field an entire force of aircraft but that might be a bit much to balance against an all ground force. Nevertheless I want to be able to take more than one aircraft in my Team Yankee games. The ability to have 2 Apaches, a Hughes and a F-16 covering my ground troops would make me a very happy gamer. I think it would also draw in a lot of other players into Team Yankee.

Given that Team Yankee is not historic opens the door for creative options on the battlefield. Historical players can paint up a 1980s era appropriate force while others can bring something from their imagination to the table. Have an idea for a fictional private contractor or terrorist organization? Bring it to life with Team Yankee. Or go with a more well known fictional terrorists group. Painting up a force that looks like something from the GI Joe cartoon/comics would be awesome. I think this is a good direction for Battlefront to go. Flames of War is a great game along with its Vietnam and Fate of the Nation cousins I assume. However there is a limit on what you can do with historical games. You can't create new vehicles that wasn't in World War 2 if you are a historical game but alternate history is a different story. If the US and the USSR went to war with each other in the 80s, that would most like push the need to develop newer, more advance weaponry. After Battlefront puts out models for every vehicle that existed in the 80s they can then work on models of vehicles that could have been develop in a hot war. If Battlefront encourages new fantasy minded players that fictional armies are an accepted option then they can greatly expand upon their historical audience with Team Yankee.

There is lots of creative options to play in Team Yankee but what am I going to play? To be honest I have not completely decided on that but I do have a few things in mind. One idea that will definitely see light in some way will be my Himmlisch Drachen Stamm army, 40 years later. There is a lot I still need to develop for my fantasy Flames of War army so it might seem strange to also work on a 40 years later version of a work in progress but it makes sense to me. There will always be some regiments of it after its Flames of War results. Whether it is still a nation-state or has now become a private contractor like organization, there will be a Himmlish Stamm story to tell. How Himmlisch Drachen Stamm will look in Team Yankee is something I am less sure on. I might use West Germany as a template or I might use a mixture of various different nations to make my dragon army. Of course this is all before I even know what options to play as even are. The second option I thought about is quite similar to the first. Himmlisch Drachen Stamm will need a rival and Team Yankee might be the place to develop them. Being the GI Joe to the Drachen Stamm's Cobra of a sorts. Both Tracy and myself are excited about Team Yankee but nether of us have committed to a force yet. What I finally decided upon to play will partially be depended on what Tracy goes with, if he decides to play.

Which brings me to a point where I need to inject a little realism. What happens if Team Yankee is a game I don't like? With what little is known about Team Yankee it is very possible it will be a system I can't stand. I hope this is not the case. I enjoy Flames of War so I have faith that I like another game from the same company. But it is entirely likely that Team Yankee uses a different system. So in case I do not like it, I will still buy some of the models. Just not in the numbers need to play the game. There are a lot of vehicles I would love to have models for and I like Battlefront's miniatures. Of course I would prefer to buy models for a specific game but sometimes you need to look for the silver lining. Having a collection of modern military vehicle models can still serve a purpose other than being showcase pieces. I've recently came across an intriguing game called Frostgrave. Frostgrave is a fantasy game base around playing with war bands lead by wizards. The interesting thing I found about Frostgrave is that in my initial search I didn't see anything about the game's miniatures. I found a lot of information about how good the rules are and how nice the rule book is. But nothing on the official miniatures themselves. If anything mention models, they were about other companies models such as Games Workshop or Reaper. I finally found the miniatures on my second search attempt and they were nothing to write home about, at least to me. That tells me that the most important thing about Frostgrave is the rules themselves and I should just uses models I already own or buy them from other companies. The take away from this is that something similar could happen with a 15mm modern/sci-fi game. A game could come around (or is already out and I don't know about it) that has great modern warfare rules but lacks models. Heck, I could even use Team Yankee models in BattleTech. Battlefront's models are somewhat too large for BattleTech, but if BattleTech fans can accept counters and scraps of paper, then painted oversize models should work just fine. But here is hoping Team Yankee will be a rule set that I can enjoy.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Age of Sigmar, Round 2

I've played my second game of Age of Sigmar. Vampire Counts vs Goblins. We decide to go with 100 wounds per side. This game was even more of a disaster than the first but amazing I had more fun playing it.

Vampire Counts had 4 vampire lords, a tomb banshee, a Black Coach, 5 hex wraiths, 2 blocks of skeleton warriors and a unit of six vargheists. I had a goblin shaman, night goblin shaman, a unit of 31 goblins, 3 nasty stalker, goblin spear chukka, a unit of 20 night goblins, 3 night goblin fanatics and 14 forest goblin riders. You might notice my opponent had way more firepower and I had little chance of winning. That said this was the first time I've played with goblins and it was a learning experience for me. Also my opponent played a little loose so we could see some things in action. The forest goblin riders shot up and charged the hex wraiths. They nearly wipe the wraiths out, much to my surprise. Unfortunately for them the banshee move up and screamed at them which prove to be devastating. That and their bravery was well, goblin-like. Nevertheless they did remarkable well against the charging skeleton warriors ... well until the warriors got vampiric backup. On the other side of the battlefield the normal goblins fired their bows at the incoming vargheists. Being enhanced by the magic of the shaman, their arrows did work on the vargheists, just not enough damage to stop the vargheists from charging in and wiping them out. Did I mention the vargheists had the help of the Black Coach as well? It was not pretty. The nasty stalkers popup and said hi, but the undead just ignored them. The goblin spear chukka after 4 turns of doing essentially nothing, finally killed one of the vampire lords, and that was all it did all game. So that leave 2 shamans, the night goblins and their fanatics to face the remaining vargheists, Black Coach, 3 vampire lords, a banshee, and 2 units of skeletons. So yeah, I surrender soon afterwards but at least I got to see what the fanatics can do and it was glorious.

As I said, this game was more of a learning experience than anything else. My opponent and myself both agreed that making army list base on wound totals alone is not a good method. It hurts multi wounds models like the forest goblin riders unless they are really really good for its wound totals. Vampire Counts brought way more value per wounds than I did. That is okay because I didn't think wound totals was a good method in the first place. More importantly I learn important details how I can play a goblin army in Age of Sigmar. I was surprise at how fast the forest goblin riders were as well as the amount of damage they can dish out. They also die fast so they are a powerful but delicate tool. The key to their use is to know when to retreat with them. On the "core" front" I found myself liking normal goblins a lot more than night goblins. Night goblins has more unique tools that I did not utilize that should increase their worth but the sheer power of normal goblins' shooting is immense. If I had a warboss along with the shaman, my goblin shooting probably could have deleted the vargheist unit in one round. Their only problem is that they are worthless in close combat while night goblins seem to be more capable in hand to hand. Now when talking about these units, I also have to talk about what can be hidden in them, the nasty stalkers vs night goblin fanatics. Nasty stalkers are better to counterattack with since they can go first and their damage is decent. However I think fanatics are better in nearly every other way. They have no save but the damage they do is insane. In my game I had them charge the Black Coach on the Vampire Count's turn to prevent it from charging my night goblin unit. The safe play for my opponent would be to start combat with the Black Coach and wipe out the fanatics. But he wanted to see what they can do so we did another combat where he crushed my forest goblins instead. So the fanatics got the chance to attack and obliterated the Black Coach. Then the fanatics move across the board and charged a vampire lord. It was my turn so they got to attack first and obliterate the vampire lord. After that they just died but the thought of how much damage they can do makes me giggly. While I don't have to hid fanatics in a night goblin unit, its far too dangerous to start them in the open unless I'm facing someone like Vampire Counts with their limited shooting. That means fanatics and normal goblins are going to be fighting each other over who I am going to pick up for my own army. There is not much to say about the shamans other than I forgot about the mushrooms ability. They did well and I will use them when I used their goblin type units. The last unit I used was the goblin spear chukka and its results were disappointing. Reading its stats I thought it would be pretty nasty on the table but it was actually quite tame. The goblin spear chukka is only going to be useful against a handful of units and its going to take me some time to learn when to use it. I was really hoping more out of it because I have plans to pick up 6 for my 8th edition goblin list.

I keep saying goblin army because I am not a fan of orcs and I will not be using them. Of course this means I have few choices for a front line. Goblin archers are nice but I need a tough unit to screen and guard them. Fanatics are too much of a glass cannon to be of use for this job. That leaves for my choices either trolls or mangler squigs. I have 3 trolls that I need to finish up and will probably need to pick up a few more. I love the rules for the mangler squigs but I am not a fan of squigs concept. So I need come up with a replacement monster to use in place of the mangler squigs. I have started my goblin army with a pack of fanatics. I am slowly assembling them and then I need to decide how I want them painted.

I've been thinking about how to balance my third game. Just going by model or wound count doesn't work and I am still against using anything like points. I ran into another friend when we played our Age of Sigmar game. He mention he played a game of Age of Sigmar and it was completely unbalance because he plays Ogre Kingdoms. That got me thinking. Anything I come up with I want to make sure it would work with Ogre Kingdom as well. And I think I finally came up with something that might work. I still need to propose my idea to my friend but I want to do a game base on war scrolls. Each side gets an army of 20 war scrolls worth of units, of which there can only be 10 unique scrolls. There is a "limit" of three hero war scrolls and two monster/war machine war scrolls. War scrolls that has multiple models (non war machines) can take up to twice their minimum model count as a single choice. If the war scroll has no minimum, then it can take 5 models as a single choice instead. War scroll sizes can be increase at a cost. A war scroll can take up to three times their minimum model count at a cost of an addition choice. A war scroll can further increase it size to four times their minimum model count but this reduces the number of unique war scroll the army can use. Again if the war scroll has no minimum then 10 can be taken at a cost of an additional choice and 20 at the cost of the reduce unique of 1. Additional heroes and/or monster/war machines can also be taken at the cost of an addition choice. Heroes that are also monsters count as both.

My system does not deal with the issue of summoning yet. It does form the backbone of my ideal way to play Age of Sigmar. I still think what models you bring compare to what you use in the game needs to be consider with any comp system and will handle summoning problems but I am ignoring this concept for now so my friend and myself can concentrate on learning the other aspects of the game. In my next Age of Sigmar topics I will go into my design philosophy, why I am against using a point system and example armies using my comp system. Until then, stay positive and have fun.