Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Start of My Poison Army - AoS

I finally got the first 15 models of my Poison Army assembled. While I still have another 11 models to put together, I wanted to pause here to show off what I have and to test out a paint scheme. I think I want to do some combination of brown, green and yellow. I will paint the monks' robe and the warriors cloak the same color so it looks like it came from the same place.

I did some minor conversion to help make the army look like it is one force. I notice there were giant rats on the sprue when I was assembling the plague monks. I got an idea to put a few rats on warrior's heads so they might look like pets or at the very least to show the warriors were comfortable around rats. I don't want every chaos warrior to have a rat on his head but I think a third or a fourth of them should be fine. The rest I want to put a giant rat on their base. I decided it would be easier to paint the rats and chaos warrior separately since it didn't look like there was a lot of room for a brush if I had already glued the rat on the base. I've been thinking about other uses for giant rats. If I ever decide to add a character on a Palanquin, I can convert one being carry by a rat swarm. As interesting (and helping to unify the army) that would be, I wanted my Poison Army to be more Skaven than Warriors of Chaos. Of course when I decided to make this army I thought there were a lot more Clan Pestilens options available.

I also did some weapon swaps. One monk has a chaos axe and one warrior has a Skaven blade. I like how they turned out except the monk's robe is hanging in the wrong way. It is hard to see in these pictures though I suppose I could say it is like that because of the force the axe is being swung downward. When I get it painted up I will make sure I will have a much clearer picture of it taken. With there being people locally playing Age of Sigmar now, I'm really excited to play AoS myself again. And this was my first step.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Expanding to Osprey Games - Ronin, Of Gods and Mortals

Since returning from the Warlord Games Convention, I've been trying out a couple of new games from Osprey. Tracy picked up Ronin while we were at the convention and later Of Gods and Mortals. I had heard about Ronin in the last few months due to it being similar to Test of Honour. The few complains I saw online about Test of Honour was that they already had Ronin for their skirmish samurai game and saw no need to change. I can certainly understand that feeling. While I really enjoy Test of Honour, I was interested in seeing what Ronin had to offer. Tracy picking up Of Gods and Mortals really surprised me. He told me that he wanted to limited the games he played to just Team Yankee and Test of Honour. Perfectly reasonable giving how much of an investment it is to get into these games. Him getting Ronin makes sense because we can still use Test of Honour miniatures with it. Of Gods and Mortals on the other hand requires (at the very least some) getting new miniatures. In a way, I suppose I do understand why he would be tempted to look into it. Both Test of Honour and Team Yankee are historical games and sometimes you just want to play with magic or a dragon. Also OGAM doesn't "lock" you into particular company miniatures. While there are some official models, you are encourage to get any miniature than you want. I guess that would make sense as Osprey only makes game rules themselves and commissions out the miniature making process to third parties. Both of us already have a large collections but while we could adapt some of it to Of Gods and Mortals, picking up a few new models is going to be needed. But are these games even worth it?

My answer for Ronin is at the moment is I'm not sure but my gut feeling says yes. I've only played one game and I still need to read the rules completely myself. From what I played, I see a rule set that is far more complex with a far different tone than Test of Honour. Ronin doesn't have a group system so every model acts on its own and fewer miniatures are used compare to Test of Honour. The game is broken into five phases in which all players will have the options to act during each. The first phase is Initiative. For most of the game you activate a single model and then play passes to your opponent to do the same. Initiative determines who will have first choice in each of the phases for the entire turn and it is rolled every Initiative phase. So you could be going second every turn for the whole game. Morale is also checked in the Initiative phase if you took enough casualties in the previous turn. Next is the Movement phase. This phase is when players take turns moving troops around. What is interesting with this system is that range units can also fire at a penalty during this phase as well. The third phase is for melee combat. The melee combat has a lot of quarks and complexities with it that I'm saving talking about it when I do a full review of Ronin. What I can say now is that the core melee mechanic deals with risk management of actions. Each troop has a number of actions they can do per turn based on their stat. At the start of combat you decide, in secret, how you want to split up your actions into offensive and defensive actions. Offensive actions needs to be spent to do a melee attack. Dodge is free but spending a defensive action increases your chances of surviving the attack. Play swaps between combatants until all players decides to pass instead of attacking. It is interesting that after the combat, figures are not pushed back. Once you are in base to base with an enemy, you stay that way until one decides to move away which comes with risks. The fourth phase is when range units can shoot again. There is a table with all the different range modifiers you have to consider when making a shot, including whether or not you shot in the movement phase. The advantages of bows vs muskets are similar to what it is in Test of Honour. In Ronin they have the same range though muskets suffer an additional penalty beyond 24 inches. In 2 turns bows can fire a maximum of 4 times compared to 1 of a musket. However muskets are far more deadly. Range damage is resisted by roll a d6 and adding the troops combat value and armor. Muskets ignore light and medium armor while heavy armor gets downgraded. In the single game I played I notice it was hard to get any damage done with bows. Not impossible, but certainly challenging. I can say ignoring armor is a big deal. The last phase is for cleaning up. Minor things that while important doesn't change the big picture.

I like Ronin for being a more detailed game. Strategy can do deeper in a complex system. Also Ronin uses more traditional army lists and has options for Chinese and Korean forces. All positives and makes me want to play more of it. One downside I notice is that some weapons doesn't seem to be a viable option. In particular, Naginata seem to be better in almost every way to the Nodachi (Naginata is a polearm while a Nodachi is more like a great sword). I did notice a very slight advantage for the Nodachi, but I don't think its worth taking over the Naginata. I don't like see weapon options being next to useless. In Test of Honour every weapon has something unique about it. I'm not sure they all are of equal power but since the benefits are unique and changes gameplay, I think they are all viable options. Of course I might have miss something in Ronin which would make the Nodachi more tempting. As it, I think there are enough ups for playing both systems. I think I will wait on playing Ronin again until the Test of Honour Ninja box set is out. Seeing Ninja as an option makes me want to take it but I don't have an appropriate 28mm miniature for it. One last bonus about Ronin for me is that there is an expansion that includes supernatural options for the game. I'm all for adding supernatural to my games.

Of Gods and Mortals is the game we have put more time into. So far I've played 2 games of OGAM. It is an interesting war game about the various traditional mythological pantheons warring each other. If you ever wanted to play game where the forces of Zeus fight against Odin, this is the game for you. Models are classified into either Gods, Legends or Mortals. A force will have a single god, 1 to 5 legends and the rest are mortals. While gods are by far the most powerful units in the game, losing all your mortals means you instantly lose. Also if the god is defeated, mortals has the option to resurrect them. What attracted us to the game is that OGAM has simple mechanics and a large roster of options to play with. However after a single game there was one aspect we really didn't like (and it was a big one). Combat is resolved by both players rolling a single d6 and adding various modifiers. The side with the higher results wins and knock their opponents back. If they win by 3 or more, then their opponent takes a casualty. If there is a tie, then both sides take a casualty and you roll again. Everything only has a single hit point and one bad roll attacker or defending can kill you. If you get killed by a lower class enemy (legend dying to a mortal, or a god dying to a legend) you do get a check to see if you can ignore the damage. We like everything else about the game but the combat system was a deal breaker. Tracy came up a new system that tried to stay close as possible to the intent of the original but we found more satisfying. It involves taking the total combat modifiers that would normally be added to a single d6 and instead roll a dice pool equal to that number. So if normally for combat you would add 4 to your d6 roll, the new system would have you roll 4d6s instead. Any result of 4 or higher is counted as a success. Both sides compare success and the side with more success roll a dice pool of their net successes for damage. Any results of 4 or higher on this roll is a wound. Gods are defeat after taking 3 wounds, legends after taking 2 and each wound removes a single mortal model. With this change we think the game is a lot more enjoyable.

The official miniature line doesn't cover everything that is available in OGAM. What models they are, some of them are tastefully nude. And some aren't tastefully nude. For example Hercules isn't wearing pants, nor are the harpies. With this in mind we are going with other companies miniatures. Tracy is interested in Greek and has pick up a few Reaper Bone miniatures to fill out his army. As for me, I've been leading towards Japanese Mythology so I could expand my Chaos Test of Honour force. There are so many armies I want to work on that I feel like I shouldn't invest in a new one unless I can connect it to a current project. I still want to do my Warhammer inspired storylines which require multiple armies themselves. One plot line I'm wanting to do is some chaos force travels away from the current lands and arrive in a Japanese like nation. For this I need to build up a collection Japanese models. Some of the things I was wanting to do is to have a Warhammer Fantasy 8th edition Nippon force. With the death of Warhammer Fantasy it looks I will have to craft these stories around using Test of Honour and Ronin. Of Gods and Mortals is a possibility though I don't see any of the Japanese Mythology gods fit in with my Chaos Samurai force. Still, the legend options of Japanese myth offer ways I can expand samurai into supernatural areas. One of which is the Snow Woman. I think she would fit perfectly into my Chaos force and I've already build a model for her. The sprue I got from the Warlord Games Convention turned out to be all female zombies. I really don't like zombies which means their value greatly went down for me. However I did find one combination that looks okay if I use green stuff on her leg. This model I can prime/paint her white, and just paint her dress, hair and maybe her lips. This will make the model resemble the Snow Woman from her mythological stories. If that is not enough, I can also use her as a Geisha Spy in Test of Honour. Basically Japanese Mythology will give me a reason to look for supernatural options for my Test of Honour force all the while I can continue expanding Test of Honour which will also help with the mortal requirements in Of Gods and Mortals. My only sticking point is not having a suitable god to use in OGAM.

There are other pantheons in OGAM that I'm interested in such as Norse, Egyptian, Arabian and not to mention Greek. But unless I can tied one of these pantheons to one of the armies I need to build, I do not see it being worth it for me to invest at this time. That said, Of Gods and Mortals does have rules to make up your own force. With how simple the rules are, I'm worried that players could break the game making custom armies instead of building something to fit their personal fluff. Putting that aside, I could make up a rule set for an Arthurian Legend list. The main army in my Holy Moon story is inspired by Warhammer's Bretonnia which itself heavily borrowed from the Arthurian Myth. I don't like using the create your own option to make an entire force, but that might have to be my option outside of Japanese. I'm sure in the upcoming weeks we will be playing more OGAM to see if our new system works. If things works out in our upcoming games then you can be sure I will be writing more about Of Gods and Mortals in the future (I keep wanting to call it Of Gods and Monsters).

One last thing I like about the game (Tracy doesn't) is it the first miniature game I've seen that unique characters are truly unique. By that I mean that while most miniature games have unique characters you can only take once in your force, most of them allow mirror matches. Of Gods of Mortals rules say that if both players have the same unique character, roll off and the loser will have to replace the unique with something else of equivalent value. The story is always important to me in war games and having unique characters on both sides always bother me a little. At least in Warhammer players could say their own custom character just has the same stats as an unique. But that really doesn't work in a game about traditional mythology. Also I think it can deepen strategy since you will have to consider backup options in case you are denied your uniques.

Ronin -

Of Gods And Mortals -

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Progress Review #4

For once I am quite pleased with the progress I made in May. I only got to work on models from one game, Test of Honour. I can separate the progress I've made into three groups. The first is my tournament list.

On one hand I tried to have my tournament force completely finish by the tournament, that didn't happen. In fact I was working on it on Saturday and Sunday morning of the convention. Part of the reason I was having so much trouble finishing was that my glue had gone bad and I didn't realize it. It wasn't making very strong bonds so it was taking longer for it to cure and later on would come undone when the model was being handled. The important part was that the entire force was painted, not quite finish but at least everything had paint on them. Because of this I have decided to change a little how I want my Chaos army to look a little. With how dark the spearmen are, I think I want to have some models to be brighter. I should be able to accomplish that by inking with a red instead of violet. I won't be changing the color scheme, just the inking.

None of these models are finish thanks to the wind incident. Those models need to be resealed. As for the others, several models need to be repaired, bases need to be finish painted, horses needs a lot of work, some weapons need work and lots of inking and sealing has to be done. The horses needs to get a special mention. When I started working on the horses I thought there was some cloth or armor on them and the only part of the horse's skin you could see was around the neck. I decided to paint that 'cloth' bluegreen, the same color as the underside of my Lord's cape. After I had started, I realize that tassel fabric around the horse doesn't go above the belt. This was Thursday before the convention so I was really running out of time. I decided to just go with the bluegreen and later I will go over it with a darker flesh shade. Another thing to note is that I did not use the special character. When playing with Takeda Naoko, I notice the blade of her naginata kept bending at extremely angles. So much I thought it was going to break. I didn't want to deal with it so I just assemble a mount samurai. I had one more idea for my force that I didn't get to in May. I figure that since this was going to be my Chaos army, I should put the kanji for chaos somewhere in the force. I learn that there are several different ways to write chaos but after settling on one I ran out of time to paint it. I want to paint it on the back of my Lord and on the flag of the battle standard.

These were models I was working earlier in the month. The archer was my original Sergeant of Archery. However I put way too much primer on him so I decided to make a new one instead of fixing it. I figure I would striped the primer off and try again though I might attempt to scrap the excess off with a knife. I don't feel comfortable with a knife so its up in the air what to do about it. Also pictured is the battle standard though you can't really see the flag that well in this picture. Sorry for that. He is really top heavy and I will probably have to put some weight in his base when I finish him. I was also working on a musket group for my chaos force. I stop working on the banner and muskets so I could focus on the tournament list. Now that is done, I can finish them up so I will have some options for different ways to play chaos.

When I got back from the convention I immediately started working to build my Oda army (after I brought more glue). I was planning on just using stuff from the main box set for Oda but that wasn't going to work because I'm using more muskets that the box set could make. The box set only makes 10 range guys and I need 12 for my list (still got 2 more to build). I got extra range models from stuff I already own so its not that big of deal, though it is a little surprising. I like to imagine that each box of miniatures is a group of men that my two sides are fighting over to recruit. Though I'm just starting my Oda force, the first wave is going to have more models than my Chaos force, at least that is in the tournament list. I've also already decided on a color scheme and what to do for the bases. The only thing that will slow me down with Oda is that I need to invest in a way to make my own decals. I know what the Oda family crest looks like and its way too detail for me to draw it by hand. Still I should be able to get the army to a state where it is mostly done before I need to add the decal.

That's everything I got done in May. I also have big plans in June. I want to continue working on Test of Honour models as I'm not only building up a second force, I also want to do a mini 3rd force to use in scenarios. I also want to get work done on other games. In Team Yankee when I pick up my Berlin box I hope to have all 6 Leopard 2s finish by the end of the month. If I can also get to the Gepards and Pahs, that will be icing on the cake. And there is still my Skaven I want to get assembled, about 5 Sisters of Battle painted and there is still Relic Knights. Let see how much of this I can get done in June. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Warlord Games Convention Review, Day 1

The Warlord Games Convention in Oklahoma was Friday, Saturday and Sunday last week. Not only was it an opportunity to demo and/or play in a tournament for a variety of offering from Warlord Games, they also allow gaming from other companies. In the official schedule there were sessions planned for Team Yankee and 9th Age, the community created edition of Warhammer Fantasy. As long as it was miniature game, they were happy people were playing whatever.

Tracy and myself attended all three days. When we arrived on Friday to pickup our con badges and swag, many aspects of the con was still being setup, including the vendors. This was also before we could check-in into our hotel rooms. That meant we had nowhere to go and nothing to do for 40 minutes. We didn't have room to properly look through our swag bag. Despite the slow start I will still really excited about the convention. Eventually I did get check-in so I could relax while waiting for more things to open up. In the meantime I got to see the free swag I got.

There were a few more things in the bag but they either had codes on them, where ads for other conventions/stores or both. I couldn't get a clear picture of the two metal figures. They are nice World War 1 28 mm figures. I don't see myself getting into any WW1 game but nevertheless they are nice to have and they will be something I will practice on. The Arena Rex booklet is the full rule set of an interesting battle arena game. I did get to play a little of it later in the weekend and will talk more about it then. The sprue is of female survivors from the game Project Z. It is not a game I think I will be interested in, however female miniatures are hard to come by so I am quite happy to have it. Will be converting them into something. Don't know if it will be Test of Honour, Age of Sigmar, my Shieldmaiden force or something else that I hadn't consider yet but I will be using them sometime in the near future.

After a quick nap I went back to the convention floor. I was happy to see more vendors had setup shop. The thing I most wanted to buy was the Test of Honour box set. I need the special dice and skill cards to play in the Tournament Sunday. The box has been hard to find since the game came out but with word a large shipment was release before the convention to stores, I was hoping to snag one. The second vendor I visit had a few so I asked to buy one. We had an issue in that I could only pay with card and the employee that had the credit card reader was still running the store front and wouldn't be at the convention for a few hours. I was fine with this and since I was the first person to buy (or rather pledge to buy) a box set, he gave me the Test of Honour unarmored figure. He also gave me the cardboard terrain from his own personal collection because he didn't need it anymore since he uses 3d terrain. This was more than enough to make me happy so I had no problem waiting.

I caught back up with Tracy and we started to check what the other vendors had. The one thing Tracy really wanted was the Geisha Spy. The Geisha Spy was a pre-order bonus, making her exceptional rare. Vendor after vendor, no one seem to have one. The last vendor we check was Warlord Games own booth (which we didn't realize at the time). Tracy was looking at their specialize dice for various games when something caught my eye. I thought I saw a stack of plastic containers that Test of Honour special characters are normally in. I grab one and to my immense surprise it was a Geisha Spy! Tracy was quite jealous because he thought I grab the only Geisha Spy they had. We were both shocked that the entire stack of plastic containers were all Geisha Spies! So we both grab one and immediately ask if they were for sell and how much. Apparently we weren't the only ones shocked to see the Geisha Spy there. We learn that the Geisha Spy wasn't suppose to be outside where customers could see her. She was suppose to be given out for free to customers who purchase a lot of Test of Honour stuff at once. I could see the manager agonizing over what to do. In the end we were allowed to purchase her at a really good price and the remaining Geisha Spies where quickly removed.

Now that we got our purchasing needs out the way, we could roam the convention floor to see what games were out and being played. We visit a table where a Test of Honour demo was going on all weekend. I've been considering getting some of Warlord Games' Japanese terrain and getting to see some of it in person at the demo was nice. Being able to chat about Test of Honour with others was a lot of fun but I had to learn to scale back my excitement. In my overzealousness, I was giving a new player advance strategic advice, not realizing that he was still learning how the game works. Still, he was appreciative and after the demo brought himself a box set. At another table I saw Hail, Caesar setup to play. No one was around to talk about the game to me and I never saw the game in action during the con. It was still an impressive display with a lot of cool looking models

Another interesting tidbit at the con for me was that there was a vendor whom was mostly selling Games Workshop stuff. Board games, Warhammer Fantasy boxes and single assemble miniatures. If I had to guess, someone working there was hosting the 9th Age event. The thing that really pique my interest was the Dreadfleet box. Dreadfleet is Games Workshops pirate boardgame set in the Warhammer Fantasy Old World. I've been wanting to pick it up ever since it came out but its price tag has been just a little too high for me. I started talking to the vendor about the game and he offered it a third off. As tempting as that sounded I wasn't going to bit and walked away. While I was still in earshot the vendor said if that wasn't enough I could get it at 50% off! That got me. I didn't buy it then but Dreadfleet was coming home with me sometime during the weekend.

At this point we decided there wasn't much else that was going to happen that night that we were interested in. We both eyed a chariot game on a massive board but as far as we knew it was only being played Saturday and Sunday. With the Team Yankee mega battle on Saturday and the Test of Honour tournament on Sunday we figure we wouldn't have the time to try it. It look like it would be really fun.

So Tracy decided to go back to his room for the night and finish his dinner. I still had to stay because the credit card guy hadn't shown up yet. I figure as soon as he did I would pick up my Test of Honour box, drop it off in my hotel room and then make a search for dinner. There was some issues with the card reader but eventually they got it to work and I had my Test of Honour box. I was really hungry by that time so I started to head out of the convention hall. And that was when a Warlord employee near me shouted to everyone in the hall that anyone interested in playing Circvs Maximvs needed to take a seat in the next 5 minutes. Circvs Maximvs was the chariot game we were eying and it wasn't on the schedule to be played that night. My desire to play it outweighed my hungry. I gave Tracy a call to let him know he need to get over here.

The board to this game was huge. It was probably around 4 feet wide and 10 feet long if not bigger. The host mention he has been playing Cirvs Maximvs for over 40 years and he scratch build the current board and models 30 years ago. Normally when you pick a chariot, the game has a lot of choices to customize your driver. Instead the host uniform the stats into three types of chariots: light, medium and heavy. Light chariots had the best drivers, highest top speed but the lowest endurance and took a penalty for attacking other chariots. Heavy chariots had the worst drivers, lowest top speed but the highest endurance and if they hit another chariot did extra damage. I picked a light chariot while Tracy went with a heavy chariot.

I was the furthest left chariot. The rules are really simple and easy to understand. However there are a lot of rules and the consequences of some actions were not always apparent. At the beginning of the turn you decided how fast you going. You can pick any speed up to your chariots maximum. You can also decided to whip your horse which increases your speed by die roll. This also decreases your stamina. Turn order in the round is random. After everyone has pick their speed, the host randomly selects the next person action. Once that person completes their turn, another person is randomly selected. Therefore you will never know when your turn will come up. When it is your turn, you can move a number of squares into the speed you chosen. The chariots are in two parts. You move the front of the chariot when you resolving your turn. Once you finish your turn you then move the back part up. This way if you loose count of what you were doing, you will always know exactly where you started. If your chariot section is right next to another players chariot section, then you can attack that player. There are two options for attacking. You can either ram your chariot into theirs or you can attempt to whip the driver. Ramming is free but it has the risk that you could damage both chariots or even only your own chariot! Successfully damaging your opponent means their wheels are deteriorating. For the rest of the game they will have to do a check every turn to see if the wheel gets worst. Whipping the driver means you are trying to kill your opponent. Drivers have 10 hit points and each time you successfully whipped a driver reduces their hp by one. Whipping the driver has the risk that your opponent might take the whip from you. If that happens then you will have to wait 3 turns before another whip is given to you. I can tell you 3 turns is a very LONG time in this game to be without the abilities having a whip gives you. Whipping also cost movement. When you decided to whip someone the number of space you can move is reduce by the number of times you want to whip them (yes, you can whip someone multiple times at once but this counts as a single attack). The goal is to complete 2 laps on the track and if you are spending your movement attacking others too much, you not going to make it very far. Now if you move your chariot section next to an opponent's horses, then you can attack the horses the same way you can attack the driver. Ramming, again is free, will do damage to the closest horse. Horses have hit points equal to their speed(the top speed of your chariot is equal to the total hps of all your horses). Damaging horses will decrease their speed. If one of your horses die, it becomes road hazard and the player will have to cut it free (which greatly reduces their speed that turn). Whipping another players horse increases the chariots speed. I will explain why you might want your opponent to move faster in a bit. If you are the subject of the attack, you get a chance to dodge if you want. Dodging does have a cost but if you failed to dodge then you do not have to pay the cost of the dodge. Suffering the affects of the attack is enough. There are two options to dodging. You can either move away, which reduces your speed the next time you act, or you can slow down which backs your chariot up 2 spaces and cost endurance(if you run out of endurance your horse will start taking damage instead!). There are reasons why you might not want to dodge. There are also the possibility that you are unable to one or both dodge options because something is in the way! On attacking, you can only attack once per space. If you are near two enemies, you can only attack one of them on that space. Move one space and you can attack again if you are still near someone.

The turns is where the game gets really interesting! Each lane has a safety speed. If you are moving faster than the safety speed for that lane then you need to do a check, modified by how much you are over the safety speed. Failing this check could mean your chariot/horses take damage or you flipped the chariot. Flipping the chariot is really REALLY bad! That means for the rest of the game your driver is getting dragged at high speeds by your remaining horses which cause you to take damage every turn. This is why you might want to whip someone else horses. If they are in the turn then the addition speed might mean they will flip their chariot.

The previous picture is of Tracy and myself taking the lead. We both manage to avoid a massive traffic jam where most of the other drivers were stuck in. We were among the last to get to go on the first turn, which is a good thing. While everyone else gather together to attack each other, we could put in most our movement into going forward. We didn't have to waste movement moving around other people. Tracy got to go first the next 3 turns in a row. You don't want to go first in round 1 because it just makes you into a very big target. After that though, going first is big. Since Tracy was already in the front, getting to go first meant he couldn't get attack because the best the rest of us could do is catch up. But this is where his luck ran out, briefly. While he was in the second turn, Tracy was almost last to act. With people finally passing him, we got a chance to attack! No one had whip someone horse in the game yet (mainly because the window where it would be useful is really small) and I was interested in seeing exactly how the mechanics work. So I move up to Tracy and attack his horse 6 times. Tracy tried to avoid it but failed. If he had succeeded on the avoid then all 6 of my attacks would have miss since it counts as one attack. From there we did 6 contested rolls. If Tracy won a roll, his endurance would decrease by 1, if I won a roll Tracy speed would increase by the amount I won by. After it was all said and done, I had increase Tracy's speed to 27. The safety speed in the lane he was in was 12. There was a slim chance that Tracy could have control his chariot in the turn but he didn't roll it. Tracy's chariot flipped and was fling across the track becoming a road hazard. His driver was dragged and took a lot of damage. We weren't very clear on the rules so at this point we thought Tracy was out of the race. Tracy left then, upset that his completely undamage chariot got one shot. Thing is that you are not out the race until your driver dies and if your driver dies on the round you cross the finish line, it still counts! Also he still got to go 27. From that point on his horses (fresh undamage horses) would go full speed. He did have the problem of someone could just run the driver over and instead kill him. In fact, a kid whom was playing tried to do that but ran out of movement to reach Tracy. And of course Tracy action came up which put him even further in the lead.

We ran out of time which meant Tracy, whom was the furthest on track won! Even if the game didn't end early, there was a chance Tracy would have won anyways. By the time the game ended Tracy need 2 more actions to cross the finish line. His driver had 3 hit points left so if he only took 1 or 2 points of damage on the next action, Tracy would have won. He was far ahead and in the next turn. That meant for any of us to catch him we would have to greatly exceed the safety speed limit. As for me, I was stuck in the middle of the pack, if not near the rear. My attack on Tracy actually cost me dearly. When I used up valuable movement to attack him, it left me still in the turn. Despite being in a light chariot and having the highest top speed, I misplayed the turns. The next round after my attack I had to go really slow to make sure I didn't flipped myself. It was also funny someone in the race did die. In the round after Tracy's flipped, another racer went into the turn slightly over the safety speed, trying to catch up to the rest of the pack. He need to roll 12 or less on 3 dices to not flip over, he roll 13. I then found out when you flipped, there is a check to see where the chariot goes (I miss this part with Tracy). Unfortunately for this racer, his chariot went straight up and down, landing on the driver! The driver immediately took 9 points of damage (again drivers have a max of 10!). Then he got drugged, taking more damage and died.

The game was a lot of fun. There was a lot of rules to understand but by the third round we could run the game ourselves (unless something new happens). With a group of mostly new players that says a lot. Its funny that I had text Tracy that he won. Even funnier that the next day he got greeted by the kid (same one that tried to kill him) who congratulated him on his victory. It is a game I would love to play again. Understanding the risk/rewards of every action, I can make much better choices. Yet, I don't see the game being reduce to only a few viable strategies, which is good. Overall Circvs Maximvs was a great way end day at a gaming convention. My only regret was that I was starving and nothing was open to eat at except Wal-Mart. This ended my first day at the convention but there was two more to go.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

First Test of Honour Batch Done, More to Go

I finally finish a few Test of Honour models. And it occurred to me that these are the first of ANY models I have work on and consider done (I still need to matte finish the models but otherwise they are done). There are lots of things I would like to improve on them but nevertheless I'm happy to actually have something done. Given that I have a convention to go to tomorrow, I still have a lot of work to do. I just wanted to show off my current progress now. I will talk more about them in the end of the month review.

These are my spearmen group and sergrant. The tray and bases are meant to invoke a battle aura. The empty tray is for my bowmen group that I'm still working on. I'm happy with how the colors came out. That was pretty much exactly what I had in mind. The poses and some of the details, not so much.

*edit* And they are all broken! I applied matte finish to them and while they were drying a high wind blew them apart. One of the bases have disappeared. Very disappointed but I'm also running out of time. Will post updates later.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bows Vs Muskets: Test of Honour

I've probably played between 20 and 30 games of Test of Honour so far and in the vast majority of those games I used bows over muskets. I did play one game with muskets and I quickly saw the advantages and disadvantages of them. If you are interested in getting into Test of Honour but are unsure which range unit to make, I will give you my recommended base on what role you want your range guys to fill.

Before I can start my comparison, I need to go into the odds of success for 2 dice pools. I don't like it when people try to break down tabletop games like its a math problem to be solved. But in this case I think knowing the odds is a must to understand the trade offs between bows and muskets. Especially since the game uses unique dices. Again to succeed at any test in the game you need to roll 3 swords. The game uses 6 sided die which has a single sword on 2 sides and 2 swords on a third side. With a pool of 3 dice you have a 33% or a 1 in 3 chance of succeeding. With a 4 dice pool your chance of succeeding is 52%. Assuming my calculations is correct.

The first thing I want to say in my comparison is that I'm not including other units that can affect the efficiency of range units such as the Sergeant of Archery and the Oda Nobunaga special character. The stats of commoners are quite similar. In fact the stats of single non commander commoners are exactly the same. There is a little difference between commoner groups but for the purpose of this discussion I'm going to consider them the same. So with the men having the same stats, the difference between the two range units is in the stats of bow and muskets themselves. The bow has a range of 24 inches and 3 dice for damage up to 12 inches away, 2 dice more than 12 inches. Muskets has a range of 20 inches and 4 dice for damage. Muskets also need a turn to reload after every shot.

The way I see it, range units can be used in two ways: suppression and sniping. Suppression is used when targeting units that has not acted yet. This will (assuming you hit) force the enemy to lose actions by dodging. Sniping is when you target units that has already acted with the purpose of taking them out. Between the two I prefer using range units for suppression. With commoner groups being exceptionally hard to take out and samurais having multiple actions and good chances at dodging, trying to reduce your opponent's actions comes up more often and therefore is more useful than trying to snipe an unit. If suppression the goal, then bows are superior to muskets in achieving that goal. The reason for this is because you want to hit as often as possible. Bows longer range and ability to be use every turns makes them ideal for this. Muskets only advantage over bows is better damage. Single commoners have 3 dice to hit their target. That means Musketman only has a 1 in 3 chance to hit something every other turn. That is a really bad ratio for trying to deny your opponent actions and too unreliable to count on musket's damage as a backup. Granted bows has the same lousy hit chance with bowman but they has the benefit of being every turn. Commoner groups has 4 dices to hit, making them much more likely to land shots. With commoner groups, musket's higher damage has some worth. Bows do not have the power to reliable to take out units unless the target has a few light wounds. Still, for the reasons given above I prefer bows, in particular bowmen groups. And its the reason why both Tracy and myself have almost exclusively played with bows.

As I've said, suppression is one of two ways I can see using range unit. While suppression seems like the better option to me and fits my play style more, I haven't played enough to know if one style is truly better. If your goal is to snipe, then muskets are the better option. With 4 dices, muskets has a better than a coin flip chance at taking units out. It is almost laughable the number of times I've seen someone hit with an arrow and survive. If you want to use muskets then I would suggest trying to pack as many commoners into your list. Increasing the total number of commoner actions in the game will raise the chance your musketmen will a reload turn. You also need to play around targeting issues and get as many clear shots as possible. Range units can not shot if a friendly model is hindering (in the way) their view. A tactic I was thinking about involves using melee units to charge in and remove actions so the muskets can finish the target. Samurais would be ideal as they would have the extra actions to then move out of the way in the same turn. I don't know how viable this will be but in my mind to proper use muskets would require some aspect of this.

It is almost becoming a standard that as I write these articles on tactics, I think of something new to add that never occurred to me when I started. I came to this topic thinking it was an either/or choice. When making a list in Test of Honour, I figure you would either have bows or muskets for your range options. And if someone took more than one range unit, I just assume would be the same type. It now occurred to me that you could take both, bows to remove enemy actions and muskets to finish them off. I would caution against investing in too many points in range if you decided to get both. Melee units are useful because melee weapon's critical success abilities are stronger than range ones and they can quickly change the flow of battle. Having a mix of both range and melee units will give a list the flexibility to deal with whatever the opponent has to offer. Of course everyone play style is different so to truly find out what is for you is to test out the various options yourself. I am sure I will revisit this topic as there are many things I still want to try in the game, I want to play against a wider range of play styles and there is new expansions on the way. For now I hope I was able to offer something of value to you. Thanks for reading and see ya next time.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Topic of the Week - 40k 8th Edition and You

With the newest edition of Warhammer 40k around the corner, Vince decided to do a Topic of the Week on our feelings on 40K itself. Whether you have left the game a long time ago and are considering coming back to it now, or you are a current fan and have thoughts on the new set or you never played it but you are thinking about starting now, Vince wants us discuss which camp we are in and why. For me, I was already considering coming back to 40k before I even heard of the new edition. Now I'm thinking it's a pretty good time to come back.

I've started my war gaming hobby with 40k 4th edition. While I left sometime in 5th edition, I still have fond memories of playing both editions. In fact I still remember a big event at my local gaming store at the time. The plan was to have a megabattle, including any player who showed up (I think about 30 or 40 people did), that starting with using the 4 edition rules and later switching to 5th edition at midnight. Things did not go to plan and frankly it was a mess. Nevertheless it was an enjoyable experience for me. Eventually I did leave 40k for Warhammer Fantasy. I think what separates me from others whom left 40k is the fact there was nothing about 40k itself that push me away. I didn't hate the new edition at the time (I think I was pretty neutral towards it) nor was I upset at Games Workshop and decided to boycott 40k. I simply enjoy fantasy more than science fiction and a group of players brought Warhammer Fantasy to my attention. I had limited resources so I put all my effort into the fantasy side and quietly quit 40k.

Though I gave up playing the war game, I didn't leave the setting itself. Part of the reason for this was that in Fantasy I was only playing a single army, Chaos. From time to time I would browse other army lines in both Fantasy and 40k to look for stuff I could convert into my Chaos force. In addition to that, I got into a pen and paper Deathwatch game. That game lasted over a year when it got disbanded for other reasons. I also continued to constantly hear about 40k from one friend whom kept playing the war game and another friend continued to collect the 40k RPG books. For all these reasons my thoughts never left the setting for long. There was even a time where I very briefly return to the war game. I played 2 games in 6th edition but I had no enthusiasm in it. It was more of an choir than fun so I gave it up again. I didn't put much thought into why I had no interest in 40k anymore. I suppose at the time I chalked it up to be not wanting to get up early Saturday morning to play as that was the only time those friends could play. Reflecting back on it now, I don't think that was the reason. Instead I think it was the same reason I cleanly quit 40k the first time, a reason I didn't know about until now.

There were 3 armies I was interested in when I first played 40k; Witch Hunters/Sisters of Battle, Eldar and Blood Angels. I had limited funds but I had pick up something in all 3 armies during this time. I had to proxy whenever I played Sisters of Battle because I never own enough models. I was fortunate to have a friend whom own over 5,000 points of Eldar so I could almost play anything I want using his model. He has since moved on with his life and I no longer have access to his models. Blood Angels was the one army I could play without proxying because I brought a large force from another friend. They are beautifully painted, far better than what I can do. Yet I have rarely used them. I think because they were not my vision of what I wanted my Blood Angels to look like, I subconsciously didn't want to use them. It took a long time coming but eventually in fantasy I got to the point where I could play a large game without proxying and only using models I put together myself. The first time it happen I was almost overwhelm with pride. It was never something I thought would matter that much, but it did. And it was something I never had in 40k. More than anything else, I think that is what pushed me away from the game.

That said, if there is one thing I really miss about playing 40k then its the Sisters of Battle. I still like Eldar and Blood Angels but my level of interest in them isn't enough to compete with my current projects. But Sisters is a different story. Even when I had no interest in coming back to 40k, I sometimes consider picking up a few Sisters of Battle models to paint up just because. But the true trigger has been my friend Phil whom being trying harder than ever this year to get me to come back to 40k. He has provided me with the resources to learn how Sisters currently work and introduce me to local players who are more knowledgeable to answer my questions about the state of the game and Sisters of Battle. He talks about the Kill-Team scenario which allows you to play with very few minis. I tried to resist at first because I figure I just had too many other games I'm currently trying to play. Yet Phil knew exactly how to provoke me and the handful of unassembled Sisters of Battle models I still own in storage were calling to me. My willpower eventually vanish and I started looking into how to get back into 40k. And as if right on cue Games Workshop release Adeptus Custodes and Sisters of Silence, two mini-forces that I've been interested in their fluff and never thought they would ever have actual models. Adeptus Custodes have a history with the creation of Sisters of Battle, and the Sister of Silence have a theme similar to the Battle Sisters. Sisters of Silence were also briefly in "Faith & Fire", the only Warhammer novel that I own. Given that 40k now allows you to mix armies together, (I know this is old news, but it wasn't around the last time I played) making a Sisters of Battle/Sisters of Silence/Adeptus Custodes army would make sense thematically.

And it is at this point I first heard about a new edition! For me this comes at the best possible time. I have no connection to the current rule set so any rule changes won't bother me. I'm mostly okay with the Age of Sigmar rule system so having 40k changes to be more similar to it is a positive. With a new edition means a new meta that everyone will be learning at the same time. That will put me in the same position as everybody else. Despite not knowing many details, I am quite excited about 40k 8th edition. It will have to get in line as I have committed myself to playing Team Yankee, Test of Honour, Age of Sigmar and Relic Knights. However one thing this hobby and even this year have taught me, priorities can change quick!

Topic of the Week Video -

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Progress Review #3

I will make this one quick. In April I got a few Test of Honour models done, a little more than half of what I'm planning on using at the upcoming tournament. What I got done is a group of bowmen, a mounted archer, sergeant of archery and Widow Takeda Naoko special character which I'm using as a normal mounted samurai. Naoko was glued down but she was dropped in my first game with her and broke off. I haven't repaired her yet because I'm thinking its going to be easier to paint her like this. My progress slowed during the second half of the month when I had trouble deciding on what to do about the bases. I dislike terrain on bases but at the same time I don't want plain or unpainted bases either. Now that I have an idea on what to do, I can finish my tournament force and maybe start on my Oda force. I'm not going to make any predictions on what I will get done this month as I seem to be bad at them. What I can say is that I'm planning on getting a lot done this month, what exactly is kind of up in the air.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Thoughts on Test of Honour

I mention Test of Honour briefly in my Progress Review and figured I should probably go into a more in-depth review of the game. The game was just recently release in the last 3 or 4 weeks and has gain immense popularity locally. I think this is due to the theme, interesting gameplay and it being incredibly cheap for a war game. The base set has a MSRP of $50 and comes with 35 models that has a wide range of choices of how to put them together. This is more than enough for a player to build a force to their liking and even two players can mostly play what they want with just this box as well. For many other war games $50 would be a good start but only 15 to 30% of what you need to a play a full game. The expansion sets come with an unique metal hero and a small band of troops that are duplicates of what comes in the base set. The one exception to this is the Mounted Samurai expansion in which everything in it is new and doesn't come in the base set. Most of the other expansion do come with unique heads so you can customize your force a little more. This makes the expansions useful to have but are not required in any way (unless you want to play with cavalry, then the Mounted Samurai expansion is required to get your horses).

Let me go into how the game is played. There are two types of units in the game. Commoners and Samurai. Commoners have one action per Game Turn. Samurai have 2 or 3 actions per Game Turn. A community bag is filled with action tokens equal to the available actions both players have. If one player has a single samurai with 3 actions a turn, and the other player is using 2 samurai with 3 and 2 actions each, 8 samurai tokens is put into the community bag and the same is done with commoners. When it's a player's turn to act (which is different from the Game Turn) they blindly draw one token from the community bag and an unit matching that token takes one action. Once that action is resolve, play passes to their opponent whom then also draws one token from the community bag. If you draw a token that you can not used because all of your units of that type is out of actions, then you give that token to your opponent whom then activates a matching unit and after that unit has been resolve, your opponent also get the next draw from the community bag. In addition to the action tokens, 3 fate tokens are also put into the community bag. Drawing the third fate token immediately ends the Game Turn. All action and fate tokens are place bag into the community bag and play continues starting with the player who drew the third fate token. Drawing the first or second fate token is a miss activation and play continues with the opponent.

The game is based around tests which involves rolling a number special d6s equal to an unit's corresponding stat. The dice have 4 sides to them: blank, X, a single sword and double swords. If a test result has 3 or more swords, then the test succeeds. Less than 3 swords or having more Xs than swords is a failure. Combat has 3 steps. Striking, which involves an unit rolling dice equal to their Aim stat. If hit, then the target gets to avoid if they still have an action available. Remove the defender's action token from the community bag. The target test with agility. If the avoid test succeeds then the attack misses, otherwise the attacker rolls damage using their strength stat. If the damage roll succeeds then the target is "dead" or "cut down" which is the term the game uses. If the damage roll fails, then the target gets a minor wound. Minor wounds give bonus die to future damage rolls against the target. On Strike, Avoid and Damage tests, results of 5 or more swords is consider a critical success. Critical successes does extra stuff based on what weapon was being used. On the flip side, getting more Xs than swords on these three test is a fumble! Fumbling on striking risk injuring yourself, an avoid fumbling means falling down and fumbling on the damage roll means no damage was done. There are other tests in the game like testing wits or honor. Critical success or fumbles do not apply to those tests.

Skill cards is another twist the game have. Skill cards are techniques, items or other abilities that enhances the samurai's abilities. Before the game both players are dealt a "Fate deck". This deck is a number of skill cards equal to the actions the samurai in the force have. The Fate deck is face down and players are not allow to look at them. When the first or second fate token is drawn, the player loses the ability to activate an unit, but they can draw the top card of their fate deck and give it to one of their samurai. If your fate deck is empty or all your samurai has already been defeated, then drawing the fate token does nothing for you.

And that is how the game is played. There are more rules to the game, but what I just wrote is what you need to know to understand how the game works. It is pretty simple to understand which is probably another reason for its surge of popularity. There are no factions in the game. Everybody have access to the same options. It is a point based game and everybody starts with a Samurai Hero who cost 5 points. The expansion have other characters you can used to replace the default Samurai Hero at an increase in cost. From there you can add up to 2 more samurais if you want. These samurai are not as powerful as the hero but they are still strong. Lastly you fill out the rest of your points with commoners, which have to be at least a third of your points anyways. Warlord Games seems to want 24 points to be the standard game in Test of Honour. I have not played at 24 points yet though I am looking forward to it.

In my nearly 10 games of it, I can say Test of Honour is a great game once you know the rules. My biggest gripe about the game is that the rules are not written well. The flow of the game is easy to grasp, but there are a few details the rule book is horrible at explaining. In fact, Tracy's rule book was missing a paragraph which explain an important mechanic of the system. Fortunately the downloadable version of the rule book seems to be complete. Despite the trainwreck that is the rule book, the game play is fast and entertaining, and the models are nice and detailed. I hate putting them together but the sheer depth of options more than makes up for that. And that's why it been very easy to get multiple other people to buy into the game.

Sadly I don't own the base set. They are currently hard to come by. Another example of a maker completely underestimating the demand for their product. The expansions are more readily available. I have three expansions - Pauper Soldiers, Mounted Samurai and the Samurai Warband. The Samurai Warband gives me half of what's in the base set, model wise and the Mounted Samurai gave me the cavalry I wanted. I actually didn't need the Pauper Soldiers. I thought the archer units in it was significantly different from the bowmen in the base set. They were not. One unit had a slight change to its stats compare to the base set version. Not worth it when I wanted special archers. On the flip side the Pauper Soldiers came with bamboo hat heads which I love using so in the end it was worth it.

So what is next for me? I mention I was planning on going to a Team Yankee tournament next month. As it turns out, that tournament is going to be at a Warlord Games convention and a Test of Honour tournament is going to happen as well. I've decided to scraped my plans for the Team Yankee tournament because it will take more than I'm willing to invest at the moment to get my West German playable (about 3 times what I've spent on Test of Honour). Instead I'm going to work on finishing a Test of Honour force to play at the tournament. In addition we have enough players locally to do both a campaign and league. Some ideas have already been thrown around so I will try my hand at coming up with a playable rule set for either a campaign or league or both. But that will be after I finish assembling my tournament list. Model count, I'm over half way done. I actually got plans to make 2 armies. I'm constantly remind of the video game series Samurai Warriors when I play Test of Honour. I love the Samurai Warriors series and its what help me learn about Japanese history. The first army I'm working on is based on how I want to play the game. The second army I want to build will be inspired by how Nobunaga Oda is portrayed in the Samurai Warrior series. There are a couple of things in Test of Honour that I want to see in action that would also fit my image of an Oda Army. Once I'm finish my tournament list, I will post pictures of it here, talk about how it works and compare it to the Oda Army idea. Until then, thank you for reading.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Topic of the Week - Your Best Convention Memory

Earlier this (last) week Vince ask us to talk about our personal best convention memory. The idea is for people whom never been to a convention to hear stories from people whom have and maybe get inspired to attend a convention of their own. I completely agree with this settlement. I've only been to one small gaming convention but I've lost count of the number of anime conventions I've attended (I think the number is around 13). I haven't been to many conventions in recent years but I hope to be able to start regularly going to various types of conventions again. Being at a convention was some of the most exciting and unique moments of my life and I would suggest if you have the opportunity to go to a convention in subject you enjoy, you should put in every possible effort to attend. It is truly an experience like no other. Now there is no way I can single out one memory as my best convention story. I just have too many wonderful memories to pick one. What I can do is write about 3 particular stories that are currently on my mind. They are not rated in any way. These just so happen to be the first ones I thought of when I heard the topic.

I'll start with the preparation of going to my very first convention. After hearing about cons I decided I would put in the effort to go to one. I did the research to find a mid to large size convention that was in driving distance. I talked friends into going and I even did the paperwork to get funding from our university as a club activity. Only one of my friends had ever been to a convention before and the one he went to was fairly small so this was a new experience for most of us. The convention was during the first week of June. That put it just after college finals. Didn't think much about it at the time but two week before the trip one of my friends whom I was planning on going with us moved. Moving after spring finals was quite common for people whom lives on campus. Even if you plan on staying in the same dorm, if you wasn't quick enough your room could be taken and you would be force to move down the hall. The thing to remember is that this was a time most of us didn't have cell phones and we rarely contacted each other online. Landlines was how we talk to each other so with my friend moving, I had no way to contact him. I hope he would try to contact me but he never did. Everyone else was not happy about this. If my friend didn't go, that would mean everyone else would have to pay more for the hotel room, which was sizeable. Most of us had been budgeting for this trip for months so a last minute expense was infuriating. Not a good way to start our first convention trip. So the big day came and I still had not heard from my friend. I got the call that people were on their way to pick me up. It almost felt like an action movie with my time running out. Even at that point I was still trying to think of a way to find him. Then I suddenly got an idea but I had to wait until the Office of Housing opened. That ate up 15 minutes I didn't have. When they were open, I call Housing and asked if my friend still lived on campus. They told me he did and I was nearly overwhelm with relief. So I asked for his number and they refused to give it to me, putting me right back into despair. Before I hung up in anger (or maybe I did hung up and called back) I thought of another idea. I asked if they could transfer me to him and they said yes and I started hearing the phone ring. It felt like there was a 10 minute pause between each ring but eventually I heard my friend's voice. It took a lot of self control not to shout. I asked him if he was still interested in going to the convention. He told me yes and I was like great, tell me where you are at, we will be there in 15 minutes! Then he panic and hung up after giving me his address. He probably thought the convention was next week or just simply lost track of time. In either case, I'm sure when he woke up that morning he wasn't planning on leaving for a 5-day trip! Everyone else was ecstatic that he had been found. It was like we all won an extra 50 bucks. It was funny. The two weeks before the trip was a nightmare and yet once we were on the road everybody was in high spirits. Once the convention started, said friend whom almost got left behind disappeared that Friday morning and the rest of the group practically never saw him until the convention was over Sunday afternoon. Which is completely fine because each of us enjoyed the convention in different ways.

My next story deals with the same convention about 2 or 3 years later. It was at a different hotel so it took a little time getting used to the difference. Since the first time we went to that convention, my group had taken a liking to eating at Jack in the Box. Its fast food with a wide range of choices and there are no location where we live. It became our ritual to eat at Jack in the Box on our way home and sometime when we first arrive in the city. The hotel during that particular year had a Jack in the Box right next door, within walking distance. That made us really happy! It also probably dawn on the manager that they could make a lot of money if they cater to the 10,000 anime fans next door. Either that or they got tired of Con-goers standing in their drive-in waiting to order. Jack in the Box's lobby normally closes at 10 pm but very quickly they had a sign saying if you showed them your convention badge they would let you dine in until 4 am. I certainly took advantage of their offer. The convention ended Sunday afternoon but I like just relaxing in the hotel Sunday night and leave on Monday. On our trip home we visit that Jack in the Box one last time. The first person in line found out Jack was out of what they wanted, as well as their second and third choice. Normally people would be upset with a resturant being under-stocked. We just laughed it off, considering it another part of the convention experiences. In the end, we had to ask them what they DID have to make ordering take any reasonable amount of time.

My last story also deals with food. Last year was the first time I've gone to a war gaming convention. It was a small, one day convention and I had no idea what to expect from it. I was looking for a people to play Team Yankee with and found a friendly and very inviting community of players. After a morning of playing games and trading Team Yankee strategy, Tracy and myself had lunch with half the group running the Team Yankee event. Twenty minutes into eating, laughing and trading hobby stories with each other, somehow the topic of my old podcast with Tracy came up, which we were still doing at the time. Its hard to tell how many was actually listening to it but it was worth a try to hawk it to people we knew were interested in the subject matter. Their response was something I never could have imagine. One of them said "I thought I recognize your guys voices!". They were already listening to our podcast and enjoyed the content we created. It brought a smile to my face but it was also humbling knowing my work was being appreciated. We return to the convention hall after lunch and had another 8 or so hours of gaming fun. I had a lot of great memories that day but the one that sticks with me is the thought a podcast duo can eat lunch with their fans and neither side knows the other identity!

You might be wondering why none of my convention stories were technically at the convention. The reason for this is that the convention experience includes far more than just your time at the convention. The road trip, time at the hotel(if you stay at one), or just eating with friends or other con-goers all contribute to what makes conventions so special. I have many more convention stories I could tell and will probably write about them in a future series. But that's all I have for now. Thank you for reading.

Vince's Topic of the Week -

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Progress Review #2

This was another month that I was disappointed in the amount of progress that didn't happen and at the same time happy any progress was actually made. I didn't get to Relic Knights or the Plague Monks. I did do a lot more priming than what I will be showing. For one reason or another that stuff needs another coat and isn't ready to paint. Here's what I did get done by the end of the month:

I'm still mostly just got Team Yankee stuff done. Might as well start with the non Team Yankee stuff I got done.

Not much to say here. Both of my BattleTech models were assembled, primed and are now ready to be painted. I had to re-glue a limb on the Warhammer because of a nasty fall from me bumping the table. It might need a touch up with a little priming but otherwise it should be ready to paint. I just need to come up with my BattleTech paint scheme.

I still haven't got the replacement part for the 5th Soviet tank so I only have 4 T-72s to work with. I manage to get paint on 2 more tanks but all 4 has a long way to go. The red needs a quick touch up and then I will need to put on the green camo. I'm in a quander about what to do with the others. I'm not sure whether to still do red camo, just have 4 red dots or leave them a solid green. In any case they still need a few more coats before I have to decide.

On the West German side, the only thing I got done on my Leopard 2 was get a little paint on the tracks. I spent most of my time with the T-72s instead. The Gepards were easy to assemble. I was priming several things at once so I included the Gepards. There was no trouble with the bodies but the turrets had issues which cause me to stop. I have since fix those issues but still need to finish priming them. I have since started painting their bodies however.

My plans for the rest of the month is quite a bit different from my previous month's goals. I still hope to get started on Relic Knights but I'm putting the T-72s and Plague Monks on the back burner for the next two months. I recently learn that a Team Yankee tournament that I can get to is coming up. I'm not a fan of a 85 point game but I can reach that with my West Germans by finishing what I already have, proxing in my American M109s as West German M109s and three new purchases. Not that much all things considering. So the West Germans is where I will be putting the bulk of my efforts into. In addition, Tracy has talk me into trying a new game, Test of Honour. For a war game it is relatively cheap. It is a 28 mm samurai warfare game which puts it in a similar scale as Warhammer. I plan to pickup a box and put the handful of models together by the end of the month.

Friday, March 31, 2017

BattleTech: Defense of David Rules

It was a good thing that I forgot some details as the campaign needed a lot more work to make it playable. There are still a few things behind the scenes that needs to get done before we can start but now the framework is done. I will not be posting our full roster until the end of the campaign. The reason for this is when we ironed out the rules, we made the campaign secret. I will get into how this work in a bit. I will be repeating some of the stuff that was in the Introduction. I want all the rules to be in one place and some of the rules have slightly change or have been clarified. In any case, here are the rules:

This campaign is a fight between Draconis Combine and Federated Suns. Each side will get 55,000 battle value points to build their force. Both sides will also get 36 million C-Bills for supplies and repairs. Each point of BV not used will be converted into 10,000 additional C-Bills. The Federated Suns will have to split their force and C-Bills into two; a planetary defense force and a relief force that is on its way to the planet. The Federated Suns can split their force and money in any way they want, it doesn't have to be 50/50 and the Draconis Combine will have no idea what the split is. Both sides force is further divided on the map into elements referred to as Lances which will be 4 mechs, 4 combat vehicles or 4 of any combination of the two. The map will show the movements of Lances on both sides.

Time in the campaign is track by strategic turns which is one day. At the start of each strategic turns except the first, Federated Suns rolls a d20, adding that value to the reinforcement running count. When the reinforcement count reach 100, the relief force has jump into the system and will make planet fall in 12 days. At that time the Federated Suns will have access to both forces and C-Bill totals, and it will now count as one force. Each player may give each of their Lances a single order per strategic turn. A Strategic Move is the amount of distance the Lance can move at the rate of its slowest member. The following are the types of orders that can be given to a Lance:

Fight/Scout - Can move up to its strategic movement to engage a fight. The type of order given will affect the type of battle and win conditions. Also if a side wins while given a Scout order, they get to see the stats of the enemy involved in that fight.
Defend - Can not move but will get a bonus to initiative if engaged.
Repair - Can not move but will get to spend C-Bills to repair, reload and upgrade vehicles in the Lance.
Move - Can move up to 2 times its strategic movement.
Fast Move - Can move up to 3 times its strategic movement, can't move next turn.
Dropship Move - Lances can load up into a drop ship and move into a new hex. This takes 2 turns unless you control the space port in which case it takes a single turn. Draconis Combine have 3 Leopards(dropships), Federated Suns have nothing until the relief force arrive. When that happens Federate Suns will get access to an Union dropship.

The orders for each Lances will be written down in secret and revealed simultaneously.

This is a hex map based campaign using a single continent the length of about 8,000 km. A strategic movement is calculated by how many hexes the slowest vehicle can cross in an eight hour period. Both sides has a HQ base that will allow them to do full repairs and supplies anywhere on the map. If this base is captured by the enemy, then half of the C-Bill stock is lost and that side will only be able to do field repairs. The location of these bases will be chosen right before the campaign starts. The Federated Suns based will be hidden, meaning the Draconis Combine will not know where it is. When the relief force arrive, the Union dropship will act as a second base for Federated Suns. In addition, Federated Suns can setup other hidden bases if they wish. These other hidden bases will be locations where one or more Lances are waiting to spring a trap for a Drcaonis Combine unexpecting force to walk into. There are three other key locations on the map besides the 2 HQ bases. The spaceport which allows a Dropship Move order to be perform in a single turn and two factories. If a side controls a factory then they will receive a 20% discount on the C-bill cost of repairs and supplies, and their mechanics get a 20% bonus on time to finish the work. If one side controls both factories then the bonus increases to 30%.

One side will achieve victory if they can drop their opponent down to 20% of their starting battle value amount. For Federated Suns this is 20% of the planetary force until the relief force arrives in which case it becomes 20% of the combine force. This includes any mech or combat vehicle that can still function in some capacity as well as captured enemy mechs and vehicles.

Other Tidbits -

Any time Federated Suns is the defender, they will get for free three 28-man infantry platoons.

Tech teams can provide 8 hours of work per day. Each Lance has 2 tech teams assign to them. These are the numbers we will used to look up how long it takes for repairs and refits to happen.

Injured pilots can heal 1 point of damage after 2 days of non-combat rest due to the medical teams both sides have access to. Non-combat orders are Move, Repair, Fast Move and Dropship Move, and they don't get engaged by the enemy.

And finally the map itself:

Dots are cities, S is the Spaceport, I are Industrial Cities(which is where the factories are), - are badlands, T are forests, blue lines are rivers, ^ are mountains, curve lines are hills and blank areas are plains. Each hex is equal to 300 mapsheets across.

And that are the rules of our campaign. I still need to make my list and a few questions has come up recently that needs to be resolved. All that should be done quickly and the campaign can begin. Any changes or additions to the rules will be put on the nexus page which will go up sometime next month. Thank you for reading.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Top 10 Differences Between Flames of War 4th and Team Yankee

Version 4 of Flames of War is finally here. A quick scan of the new rules tells me that Battlefront has adapted the Team Yankee rule set into the newest edition of Flames of War. Which is fine by me as I think the Team Yankee rules are easier to learn and use. Cause overall they are both essentially the same rule set, might as well go with the simpler version of the two. Taking a closer look at the rules however, I notice while Version 4 Flames of Wars has the same framework of Team Yankee, there were some easy to miss significant differences. I thought I would make my top 10 rule differences between Team Yankee and Version 4 to help people get into the game. Also if you never played Team Yankee as a Flames of War player, hopefully this guide can still be useful to you as there is a sea of changes between Version 3 and Version 4.

#10. Mistaken Targets - If you never played Team Yankee then something new you need to get use to is that the shooter gets to assigns hits, with some restrictions. To balance out the attacker picking the juiciest targets allowed, the defender on a +3 may swap all the hits on two teams. At first glance Version 4 Mistaken Targets rule (beside being better written) looks identical to Team Yankee's. However, there is one additional restriction that isn't in Team Yankee. In Version 4, hits can only be swap once! I'm not entirely sure how much this will make a difference. I need to see it in action and take some time theorycrafting to really understand what this change means. But in the mean time keep this difference in mind.

#9. Aircraft Spotting - Aircraft is very different in Version 4, if you haven't played Team Yankee. They now behave mostly like other units. A Team Yankee player will be used to the aircraft rules. Something that can be easily missed is that ground units can not spot for aircraft's artillery and vice verse. It makes sense in that communication between the ground and aircraft was probably very limited in World War 2.

#8. Repeating Bombardment - A couple things a Version 3 player needs to know about artillery is that staff teams is no longer used and the spotter picks a point on the board (not a unit) to be a target of the bombardment. There are three things different about doing repeating bombardment in Version 4 from Team Yankee. The first is that the spotter (who could be different from the one who did the initial bombardment) doesn't need line of sight to the aiming point!(there is a penalty for not having line of sight to the aiming point, but it doesn't stop the bombardment) Second, infantry and Gun Team hit by a repeat bombardment have to re-roll successful saves! Third, moving the artillery also removes the range in marker. This third one is something for a while I thought was in Team Yankee but its never mention in the actual rules. Version 4 on the other hand makes it loud and clear moving means losing the marker.

#7. Bombardment - To do a bombardment first you need a spotter, who does need to see the aiming point. The spotter can be a member of the artillery, Formation HQ or a specialist Observer. A Team Yankee player might notice the one thing not listed. Unit Commander! I know it will take me a while to get use to unit commanders not being able to spot for artillery. But that isn't the only change from Team Yankee. In Team Yankee spotters can only spot for a single artillery unit but there is no such restriction in Version 4. Spotters are still limited to 3 attempts but in Version 4, for example if they range in on the first attempt, the spotter can use their second and third attempts for a different artillery battery.

#6 Move Orders and Reserves - Not Team Yankee players will need to get use to movement order. They are a group of abilities that any unit can do and require a check to perform. One of these movement orders, Blitz move, has been extremely useful in Team Yankee for reserve units. It gave the possibility of move or shot units to arrive from reserves and still fire. This will not be an option in Version 4 because it block units from using movement orders until they are on the board.

#5 Reserves - How you pick what goes into reserves is completely difference from both Version 3 and Team Yankee. The rule in Version 4 is that no more than 60% of the agreed point total may be deployed on the table with the rest going into reserves. That means it no longer matters how many units you have in your list. In theory this should force closer to a 50/50 split between on the table and reserves. While this does prevent taking several cheap units to manipulate what goes into reserves, I'm not sure how much this will change stuff in actual games. I know it will change how people build some lists but beyond that I need to play a few games to see how this will truly affect the game.

#4 Commander Re-rolls - This would be a rare case that it would be better to have never played Team Yankee. Version 3 players are used to their HQ giving re-rolls. Team Yankee removed all those rules so its a little surprising to me to see that they are back. Failing to remounted bailed out tanks, rallying from pinned down or Last Stand Test can be re-rolled if the unit is within 6 inches of the commander (and line of sight to unit leader). Just when I was getting use to not worrying about when can I do re-rolls, its back.

#3 Starting Step - The Starting Step between Version 3 and Team Yankee is quite similar. However Version 4 is vastly different in many ways. First reserves is now before aircraft. Team Yankee has it the other way, which can frankly was mistake on the designers part and caused issues that had to be resolved in FAQs later. With reserves happening first, Version 4 no longer have those problems. A far more significant change is that the Formation more check has moved from the beginning like it is in Team Yankee and Version 3 to the middle of the Starting Step. This means you will have a chance to remount bailed out tanks, before dealing with the Formation morale. This rule change is quite beneficial to armor user. In Team Yankee, if you only had tank units in your formation and every tank was bailed out, you had to check whether you lost the game before you could remount. In Version 4, you roll for remount first and if you get enough success you no longer have to worry about auto losing.

#2 Last Stand Test - Both Team Yankee and Version 3 have a rule that the last remaining infantry team in an unit need to make a check every turn to stay in the game. Version 4 has greatly expanded on that concept. Now what triggers a morale check also triggers the Last Stand Test. For infantry that means they need to start taking Last Stand Test when reduce to 2 teams instead of one every turn. For tanks which are normally immune to this rule are now affected. Lone tanks now have to check every turn or get destroyed, unless they started the game as single team (or they are warriors). And still lone non warriors/non commanders tanks that are bailed out also have to take the Last Stand Test. Another thing to keep in mind is that when unit leaders died, you immediately pick a new one unless no one was within 6 inches of the leader. If that happens then the unit remains leaderless and until the unit leader is replace that unit will have to make Last Stand Test no matter how big the unit is. This is a huge change. All the different ways this one change can impact games is almost too many to count. I thought this was the biggest and most significant difference in Version 4, until I read ...

#1 Formation Morale - In Team Yankee you need at least a single unit that is apart of the Formation to be in Good Spirits for the Formation to be consider in Good Spirits. Version 4 requires 2 units instead of just one. If that wasn't bad enough, a Formation not in Good Spirits in Version 4 is auto destroyed! There is no roll from the commander to stay in! The only bright side to Version 4 is that looks at both units on the table and in reserves while Team Yankee only checks units on the table. So you won't auto lose because of reserves but once everything is on the table this will end games much faster than either Team Yankee or Version 3 did.

If you are a Version 3 player and do not know what Formation are, everything but your support platoons are in your Formation. Combat platoon, Weapon platoons and sometimes Regimental/Brigade Support comprise your Formation. If you never played Team Yankee, this is only a taste of the differences between Version 3 and Version 4. It will probably take sometime to get used to the vast differences.

I have only skimmed the rules but these are the 10 things I thought were by far the biggest changes from Team Yankee. Still I'm more excited to try Flames of War again now than I have been in quite a while. When I get some games in I can provide more detailed thoughts on Version 4. Until then, I hope this was helpful and thank you for reading.