Friday, September 8, 2017

Progress Review #5

I got back to some kind of track in August, making some progress on my models. Here is what I got done.

I started painting my spell caster for Dracula's America and finally decided on a look for my Leopard 2s. This is my only picture of the caster but I was only a third done with her at the time. I've since nearly finished her and will have more pictures of her later this month. For my Leopards, I've started the process of painting my tracks and attaching them, one by one.

By the end of this month I hope to have the caster finished and at least 4 tanks with the tracks and camo. I gave my 5th tank a commander and I'm having a slight issue with him. Once I figure out how I want to handle it, then I will bring it up to speed with the others. I primed an old Panzer IV H to test out washes for my Leopards. I ended up liking both washes. Once for the green base, the other for everything BUT the green. Using both is going to make the wash process really slow and a pain in the neck. I suppose it will be worth it to make sure I like the final results this time. Thank you for reading.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Issue with Weapons in Dracula's America

I've played four games of Dracula's America and my interest in the game is even higher. (I actually played two games before I publish my review.) Its unique system keeps all players involve for most of the game. And every game so far has been very close, though I've always been on the losing side. Without a doubt Dracula's America has become one of our favorite games to play and we are looking forward to eventually starting a campaign. But as we prepare what we want for our initial posse, we realize an issue with the weapons in Dracula's America, at least under a campaign system. Well, an issue if you don't want to buy and paint 5 times the amount of miniatures you would otherwise need.

The issue has to do with a "what you see is what you get rule", which a lot of miniature games have. If you don't know what this rule is, it means that the model needs to have the weapons its equip with to be physical modeled on the miniature. In most games this is not a big deal once you figure out how to make the model fit your playstyle. But with Dracula's America, a model can only have 3 weapons and no more than two models can have the same weapon beside the basic pistol. A starting posse has 6 models and $22 dollars to equip them with. You can't have any uncommon gear in your initial posse, like repeating rifles, sawed-off shotguns and others. After your first battle, both sides get some cash and then you can start upgrading your crew. So the equipment your posse has can (and most likely will) change after every game for most if not all of a campaign. As someone whom uses proxies a lot the hobby, I understand why the rule is in place. In games with fully equip posses, it is extremely important to know that a model with a rifle if that suppose to be a normal rifle, repeating rifle or a buffalo rifle. Losing track of whose who is a big problem with using proxies, both for the user or their opponent. But at the same time if I'm planning on making a character look vastly different in two or three games from now, why should I model how they look now? I don't want to buy a model for every version I want to use. I suppose I should say this is a problem unique to Dracula's America's campaign system. If you are not a campaign style of player, then this won't be an issue for you. Dracula's America does have a match play system where you build your entire posse with $100. But I haven't play it yet and I'm currently focus on campaigns, so my point of view is only from the campaign side of things.

I didn't realize this issue when I pick up my first mini, a cheap Reaper Bone miniature. I like the model a lot but it only has a single pistol. Knowing what I do now, I wouldn't have pick it up, or I would have pick it up with the purpose of doing conversions on it later. But since I have it, I will make it my posse's spell caster (which the game calls Arcanist) and build the rest of my posse around her. Deciding on what to get next is further complicated by another issue related to weapons, available models. Northstar makes the official line for Dracula's America but I've not been that impress so far with what I have seen. To be fair, I've never seen their models in person which could make a difference. However, it is really off putting to me that they modeled something wrong. There are several creature that you can summon in Dracula's America and a specific summonable creature is an angelic two pistol using gunslinger called a Seraphim. The Northstar official model only has a single pistol. When the game has rules about models being accurately depicted, having the official model wrong undermines the rules. I also prefer to get my miniatures at brick and mortar stores and my local store would have trouble getting Northstar stuff. So that leaves me to find suitable western options that my local store currently has on the shelf, which is two: Malifaux and Reaper Miniatures. Malifaux has been on the edge of interest for me. I knew its setting was called the weird west but I've never got around to truly look at their model line until I needed to find stuff for Dracula's America. At this point I realize they went all in on the "weird" part as most of what I saw while flavorful was extremely outlandish and grotesquely weird. The only things I thought might fit was one crew (which another player interested in Dracula's America already have), a lone model and box of random bits that will allow you to build custom characters. The random bits is out of range of my budget for a while and I don't want the crew because I would like everyone posse to be as different as possible. The only other Malifaux model I'm interested in is the Forgotten Marshal. While he is pricier than what I would like, if no one else gets him, I will probably pick one up.

With Malifaux out, that just leave Reaper Miniatures. I've always been fond of Reaper's products though in the past I just browse their stuff without looking for something in particular, and picking up any miniature I thought was interesting. Now I'm looking for wild west miniatures equip with particular weapons. And it doesn't help Reaper's website is awful for searching. Reaper's miniatures have searchable labels and western is one of those labels. However that doesn't bring up all their western models for some reason. If I had to guess, I think the problem is that the western label only brings up miniatures under their Chronoscope brand and not under any other brand, like Savage Worlds which has their Deadlands minis. Whatever is the reason, it means I will eventually have to look through Reaper's very large catalog, one mini at a time. The reason I need to do this is because I need figures with multiple weapons, in particular rifles, shotguns and carbines. Figures holding a weapon in a way to make it easy to snip the hands off for conversion purposes is a bonus. What disappointed me the most about Reaper was the lack of Native American figures. I found only 3 in their catalog so far and none of them had range weapons. I wanted at least one Native American in my posse but at this time I don't have any viable options. If someone wanted to play the Skinwalkers faction(which only Native Americans can join), then Malifaux and Reaper are not options for them. Unless you want to do heavy conversions on three different models, then you would have look at one of the smaller miniature companies for Native American figures. Who? I don't know. I didn't see any Native American figures at Northstar under Dracula's America either!

As I mention earlier, many of these issue are only present if you play in a campaign. Under match play, you can make a list and then buy and convert your models to fit your list with little problems (unless you want Native Americans). For me, I think I will be looking to build my posse around where I see them during the middle of the campaign. Early in the campaign I think it will be easier to remember to disregard certain gear as weapon options are very limited then. As the campaign goes on, I can start buying items on the model but I don't have in my posse yet. By the time it gets past the middle and heading towards the end, I will probably be needing to expand beyond the initial six and will have a lot of experience to know what exactly I need. That's all I have on weapons in Dracula's America. Next time I will go into what I'm working on for my posse and talk a little bit about the factions. Thanks for reading. Until next time.

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Quick Review: Dracula's America

I had seen pictures of models on Twitter and in an email for Dracula's America. I wasn't really interested in it at the time. Partly because I'm already in too many games that I'm trying to buy miniatures for. And partly because westerns is a distance 4th for genres I want to play in. That said, I got the chance to read a review copy of the book during a 2 and half hour trip to play some Team Yankee. I wish I didn't. Not because it was a bad read. I wish I had not read it because now I really REALLY want to get a few western models and play a few games.

Dracula's America is a skirmish wargame in a similar vein as Frostgrave, Necromunda and Mordheim. You have a warband of six to ten models (Dracula's America calls it your Posse) where you battle other players' warband and random encounters to earn treasure. Build in these games are campaign systems where your force can gain experiences and grew in power. I will admit that I haven't read all of Dracula's America from cover to cover. I didn't get to the fluff of its alternate history. But I did read the rules of how to play, the various game mechanics, how to build a Posse, a few magic spells and all the powers you get from the special factions. In all, I think I read about 65% of the book and I feel confident that I could play a game with a pre-made Posse and would only have to look in the book for charts. To me that is amazing after a single partial read. For me to do that means the rules were written in a simple and easy to understand way for a game that has quite a bit of complexity to it.

The game uses a dice pool system in a way I've never seen or heard of before. Your base dice pool will depend on the action you want to take. For example, shooting is a 3-die pool while a dodge reactions is a 1-die pool. Situation modifiers can increase or decrease this dice pool, though nothing can reduce the pool below a single die. Any die that rolls a 5 or higher is a success. The more successes rolled, the better the result. The type of die used is depended on the characters. If a character has only recently started wearing a gun on their hip, then they will be using d6s for all their die rolling. Now if a character has been in a few fights and has seen a thing or two in their time, then they would be using d8s. But if a character's name is known throughout the country because of their exploits, then they would probably be using d10s. I really like this tier system. It is a way to make veterans of the west more powerful than novices without giving them bigger numbers for stats.

Like all western based games, Dracula's America uses a deck of cards. A deck per player to be exact. Cards are used as an initiative system. At the beginning of the turn, all players draw cards equal to half the number of models in their posse, round up. So if you had 9 miniatures on the table, you would draw 5 cards. You get to draw an extra card if your boss (whom is the leader of your posse) is still on the table. Initiative is done by each player picking a card in their hand and playing it face down. Once everyone has picked, the cards are reveal. The player with the highest valued card gets to act first, any black cards before red cards. In case of ties, roll off. And if two of the exact same cards are used, a special event happens as well. When its your turn to act, you can either pick one model to take 2 actions or you can pick two models to take 1 action each. After you have resolved both of your actions the model/s get a done token and discard the playing card. The player with the next highest card gets to act. Once all the players get a chance to act, play repeats itself by everyone picking a new card. Models with done tokens can't act again. Play continues until either all models on the table have acted or all players are out of cards. I've never seen an initiative system like this and at least on paper I love it. While essentially play is swap back and forth between two players, I see interesting choices being available at all points. You never know if your opponent will activated one model or two on their next turn. With the right cards in hand, you can setup a plan to take two turns in a row by playing a low card followed by an Ace. You won't have enough cards to have all your models take two actions, so you need to strategize who best to get those extra actions and when.

The types of actions available and interaction with terrain seem to be more or less standard with skirmish games. The one significant difference is that facing matters. Not only does a model have to face in the direction where it is shooting but also getting shot in the back does extra damage. Also one of the available actions is a ready action which allows you to interrupt an enemy model later in the turn. However you have to be able to see them to interrupt and if your back is to them, then you can't use the ready action. Now combat is anything but standard. I already explain how skill test work. For combat, you attack with a skill like shooting. If you get at least one success then you hit. The victim now has to make a save. This is not a test so a success isn't automatic at 5+. Instead the number needed to save is based on the number of successes the attacker got. 5+ on a single success, 6+ with two successes and so on. The victim needs to make this test even if they can't roll high enough to succeed. Damage is based on how much the victim fails their saved. There are three damage states in the game; shaken, down and casualty. Shaken means you have some light wounds and have some penalties. Down means you are either serious wounded, or too scared to get off the ground. Either way, the only thing they can do is crawl until they get healed. Casualty, like the name implies is being dead or too gravely wounded to continue. A model that takes a casualty is removed from the board.

I didn't get to fluff where they explain the story behind the setting because I ran out of time. I only know the tagline which is that Dracula's minions assassinated the president and mind control the congress into making him President for life. I also read about the playable factions in the game. I only got to their game rules but that was enough for me to get a favor of who they are and the possible role in the setting. I think the setting has a lot to offer. I am reminded of Deadlands in tone and mystery. I could very easily see adapting Dracula's America to play a wargame in the Deadlands world. Also I can see adapting your favorite pen and paper roleplaying game to have a lot of fun in Dracula's America as well. Just using Dracula's America ruleset as is or with slight changes make work as rpg as well. Some of the available factions includes The Crusaders of the Twilight Order (whom members can have knight armor, holy bless weapons and can summon angelic gunslingers), vampires that serve Dracula, devil worshipers whom can summon demons, Native American shapeshifters and just a lot more.

What I like most about Dracula's America is how they separated the mundane and supernatural. In most fantastical games, the supernatural aspect is entwine through out the rule system. This fine by me as I love my magic. But if someone was a historical player, it would be a headache if not just impossible to use these fantasy games as mundane historical games in my opinion. Dracula's America on the other hand has made it extremely easy to go mundane. If you want to play a historical skirmish western game, then all you need to do is read the first half of the book and play as it. If you do want to play with supernatural elements then the second half of the book can be seamlessly inserted into your game. I don't know if this design choice was intentional but it is really cool they gave us the option to play without magic if we want.

The only thing that disappointed me about Dracula's America is the campaign system that came package in the book. After seeing a few Frostgrave campaigns and how seemingly rich Dracula's America backstory is, I was expecting something rich with story. Instead we got a very abstract campaign system with very bland scenarios. To be fair Frostgrave's rich campaigns came in separate releases from the initial book. But at the same time Frostgrave had more initial scenarios and those scenarios were far more interesting. I suppose its not too bad to have this as your weak point as it easily fix with a new campaign book release. And my complains only deals with how you suppose to organize a campaign, how to decide the campaign winner and the lack of any kind of story. The system for how your posse grows in strength is excellent.

I'm really looking forward to trying Dracula's America. If you are a fan of a weird west setting or enjoy skirmish wargames with leveling up mechanics, then I would definitely suggest you take a look at Dracula's America. Even if you dislike westerns and/or vampires, as long as you are a skirmish wargame fan, I would still suggest looking at it. The uniqueness of the system might be enough for you to love the game despite its genre. Thank you for reading.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Topic of the Week - Allies in Age of Sigmar

This week topic is related to the up coming General's Handbook 2. I'm not exactly excited about the book because I dislike buying books (just rather put that money towards more models). Also, personally it feels like I just brought General's Handbook 1 and seeing it replace is a downer to me. That said, I AM excited about Age of Sigmar getting allies. There is probably more details about it out at the time of my writing but I don't know it. I get the vast majority of my Age of Sigmar news from the Topic of the Week videos and the few times I get to watch Warhammer Weekly. My understanding is that in the General's Handbook 2 there will be the option to take up to 20% of your army from a different faction as allies and still keep your allegiance abilities. It is unknown to me exactly how this will work, including whether or not it will be possible to cross grand alliances. In any case, my response is that I'm all for it to the extreme. I certainly understand this can lead to abuses and realize this can bring a lot of headaches to the community. However I think the flexibility is worth the risk. I create my own lore and it rarely fits into the same boxes Games workshop sets up. I have two examples of armies that mixes alliances. To really understand why I mix alliance, I need to explain the lore and ideas behind each army.

Funny that I was just talking about my goblin army in my last article when before that I probably hadn't thought about it since a little after Age of Sigmar was first release. My goblin army is a mix of death and destruction and I got inspired to build it from the Diablo 3 expansion. The undead in that game were an eerie light blue. The lore behind my goblin army is that an Angel of Death made a bargain with a tribe of goblins. If the goblins devote themselves and worship him, the Angel bestow his powers to them, allowing the goblins to use it as they see fit. The Angel showed off his powers by instantly killing the Orcs whom enslaved them (and greatly weaken himself in the process). The "default" army would be all goblins. Two-thirds of the goblins would be painted green like normal, while the rest would be painted light blue. The blue goblins would represent goblins that had died and are currently being animated by the Angel's power (gamewise, there is no different between green and blue). Once the Angel recovers some of his strength, he would then be able to animated and summon powerful undead that would be under the control of goblin shamans. The undead would be blue in color, in the same shade as some of the goblins. The undead would be mostly skeletons with the potential of a few heavy hitters, outside of vampire/Tomb King characters. A side benefit to this army was that it was a "reservable" army. By that I mean it wouldn't take much to make it playable as a completely different army. Get a few undead characters, expand a little on the undead elites and use the blue goblins as ghouls and it can serve as a playable pure undead army. The Angel himself wouldn't appear on the battlefield with the exception as unit fillers under 8th edition rules. The unit fillers would have represent the ability of large groups of goblins projecting a ghostly image of him. All I needed to find were Demon Prince size Angel models. Probably would have been one of the few unit fillers that would have cost more than just buying more models!

I discarded the idea of building the goblin army early in Age of Sigmar because I had too many other games and armies I also wanted to work on. Which is probably for the best as it would probably get smash by anything remotely competitive. Since AoS split up goblins into 3 or more factions, I probably couldn't ever get allegiance abilities for it whether or not I included the undead. Its a shame as I really love the theme behind it and think it would have look cool on the tabletop.

My Chaos Army is something I plan to get back to and has multiple narrative parts. Chaos has two separate storylines but the one that mixes alliances deals with the Chaos King Amirren. Amirren is pretty much my version of Archaon. Think I even use Archaon rules to represent Amirren once in a campaign. Powerful warlord, decent sorcerer, but Amirren's greatest gift was his charisma. With it he manage to convince 9 other warlords that were almost as powerful as he is to serve under him. Each of these warlords, which I called the Lords of Chaos, had their own uniquely looking armies (I very much didn't limited my imagination to what my budget could afford!). Half of the Lords of Chaos were sorcerers, some of the greatest in the world and each sorcerer was a master of something. There is the Master of Magic, a sorcerer with knowledge of nearly every possible spell in the world. When I have used him in 7/8th edition games, I've gave him the Third Eye to represent this aspect of him. There is also the Master of Fire, a sorcerer whom can bend flames to his will. Outside of always having lore of fire, I hadn't figured out how to show off his flame mastery on the table. I suppose I can use flamers to act as fire elementals he controls as part of his army. But the one Lord of Chaos I probably developed the most was Vikihra, the Master of Death. Amirren has ordered his Lords from time to time to temporary disband their army and wander the world alone to search for ways to better themselves. Vikihra, having completely mastered death magic, decided to seek the knowledge of undeath magic when she was asked to go on one of these worldly trips. Her goals were not only to gain more power, but also find a way to heal her body. Centuries ago she was burned alive and only survived due to her knowledge of death magic. However her burned body is a constant source of pain and healing magic have shown to have no effect on her. For decades she studied under various vampires and dark priests to learn necromancy directly from those whom wield it. Eventually Vikihra develop her own type of necromancy. In many ways it was inferior to either of the other necromancy magic, but to her, it was better because she made it. Her new fond powers and knowledge did nothing to heal her body. When Amirren summoned his Lords of Chaos and their armies, she shocked the other Lords and even Amirren himself when she arrived with a significant larger army that was bolstered with her own undead creations.

Vikihra is one of the few characters I brought a specific model for though I never got around to convert and paint it. I loved the look of the Queen Khalida miniature and once I decided to use it, it help develop some of Vikihra's history. Unlike my goblin army, I do consider this an active project. And since Vikihra is one of the most develop concept I have, I could see myself having this army on the table in a year or two. It would be also a lot of work. Vikihra's undead will require a lot of conversion as her undead doesn't look normal. Kitbashing Chaos bits with undead parts and making it look good and easily identifiable will be time consuming (and maybe outside of my skill set at this time). But when I do get to it, I would want to be able to travel the country to events with it and not be handicapped. I do see it being stronger than my goblin idea but I don't think its overly strong. But that is something further down the road for me.

What allies means for me NOW is less interesting. The AoS army I'm working on now is my Poison Army which is a mix of Nurgle Chaos Warriors and Clan Pestilens. I have a problem with battlelines. Nurgle Chaos Warriors is the only battleline I can/want to use. I don't mind warriors but they are too expensive to fill my battlelines ONLY with warriors. Plus I want the army to be more Skaven than Chaos. Allies will allowed me to add clanrats as battleline and still have the feel I'm going for. I suppose I could start looking for poison users in other forces and add them with allies though I can't think of any at the moment. Another thing I could do is have Chaos be my allies so I can have allegiance Pestilens. Since I want to use more than 20% Chaos, I'm probably not going to do that. But it is an option and having the option is much better than no option.

Vince's Topic Video -

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Progress Review - My Plans For Armies

My progress in June had been on the lower end. I did make a lot of progress but most of what I did was start work on assembling several different miniatures. Progress is progress, but except for stuff I've already publish about, nearly all my progress was with incomplete models. Nothing I want to show off at this time. So instead I will talk about all the armies I have plans for.

I've gotten the opportunity to get involve in a lot of new games recently. With a growing need to collect and paint new miniatures for these games, I've almost forgot the main purpose of this blog, which is to be the place where I can publish the narratives surrounding my war games. That aspect of the blog is something I haven't work on in a while. One reason I've delayed writing fiction was because many of my ideas required a better miniature collection. This was further complicated with the death of Warhammer Fantasy as I was no longer sure what game I can find people to play with. I crafted my mythological world by mixing concepts from Warhammer Fantasy (or rather concepts I thought were from Warhammer as I got some of them wrong) with some of my own ideas. I figure it would be fairly easy to swap to a different game. I was wrong. Finding a game system that thematically fits what I've already developed, that also excites me to want to play it and have local players interested in it is much harder to come across than I thought. This is the problem I have with Of Gods and Mortals. OGAM is a game I enjoy a lot and I have a lot of local player willing to play it. However it really does not fit into my setting. Aspects of classic mythology, sure. Armies made entirely from a single mythology and lead by a god causing havoc on the land, not so much. Trying to decide what force I wanted to play in OGAM was difficult because I wanted whatever I build for it to also be used, if possible in my narratives. What I settled on what take models from several different armies to have something playable, but not necessarily a complete force of itself. It might look like a single army when I'm done but whether that is the case because all its parts are from the same faction or just a happy accident remains to be seen.

So between deciding on an Of Gods and Mortals force and discussing doing a Frostgrave campaign, I figure I should list all the different miniature armies I plan on building. Many of these armies are not apart of the Chaos Magic Mythology narrative that I've started here. However the ones that are apart of it I want to explain how they fit into that narrative. There are a few armies I had plan on building but are now off the table. I will mention the ones I can remember at the end.

Team Yankee - Earlier this year I was still planning on having three Team Yankee armies. 120+ points of West Germans as my main army, exactly 100 points of Soviets and then going back and redoing my Americans. However I no longer see myself doing three armies any time soon. I rarely play Team Yankee anymore and it is hard to justify investing in three armies when I have so many other games I want to play as well. When I do get to play, I mostly enjoy it. So for now, the only Team Yankee army I will be working on is West Germans and once I get to around 120 to 140 points, I will probably be done with Team Yankee for a while. I would love to do more with Team Yankee but it doesn't make sense for me at this time. And it figures I decide this around the time Battlefront release rules for playing big Team Yankee games. It should go without saying but none of Team Yankee is apart of my Chaos Magic Mythology.

Battletech - I almost forgot about BattleTech. Its also not apart of my Chaos Magic Mythology, though at some point I might make a space mythology for the sci-fi games that I play. I see all my current BattleTech models to be apart of a single force and will paint them up as such. I don't see myself investing a lot into BattleTech though I do see myself getting a vehicle here and there. I'm also will be playing in a campaign so BattleTech deserve to be on the list.

Relic Knights- Given I know very like about the factions and their playstyles in Relic Knights, I plan to only have a single Relic Knight army, Roh Empire. The Roh Empire reminds me of my Chaos force and if I end up not liking the game I can still use the models for something Chaos. In fact, I have even more of an incentive to work on Relic Knights now. My Of Gods and Mortals army will use two Relic Knight miniatures. I plan on painting my Roh Empire force in a similar way to my other Chaos stuff. Relic Knights is not apart of my Chaos Magic Mythology but I may be reusing some of its miniatures in the Mythology anyway (OGAM isn't apart of it either).

Sisters of Battle - The newest edition of Warhammer 40k has interested me enough to return to it. Even though I'm interested in most of the factions in the Warhammer 40k world, this time around I will only be working on one force, Sisters of Battle. Or to be more accurate, a force who's core will be Sisters of Battle. I will be adding Sisters of Silence and maybe the Adeptus Custodes to my force, but the rest of it will be Sisters of Battle. Outside of maybe grabbing the Talons of the Emperor box in the fall, I don't see myself buying much for this army this year. I have 10 year old models that I've never finish that I can work on. Will probably have to proxy my first few games to get a feel of what to buy next after finishing the old models. Sisters of Battle is not apart of my mythology either.

Chaos - My Warriors of Chaos army is where this blog started. At first I didn't have a narrative behind the army, I just added to it without regards to any story. I later develop two narratives out of the army once I started playing campaigns. I didn't bother restraining my narratives to models I own. As such both armies look quite different from not only each other but also my actual miniature collection. Towards the end of Warhammer Fantasy, I started collecting with an eye to making key aspects of the narrative have model representation. These two armies (Chaos King Amirren and Arkyrian Cabal) were meant to be the backbone of my Chaos Magic Mythology, but I could never build on their narrative because campaigns kept ending early. With Warhammer Fantasy officially discontinued and my desire to find other games to play, my Chaos forces are frozen for the time being. It is unlikely that I will get to play with them anytime soon so it doesn't make much sense to work on models for it at this time. Getting miniature versions of units I mention in the narrative will be the first things I will work on when I go back to Chaos.

Poison Army - My Poison Army is in a weird position in my mythology. I haven't develop any kind of narrative for it yet. The Poison Army came about from my desire to play something similar, yet different for my first army with Age of Sigmar in mind. I might even have multiple different narratives for it, also like my Chaos army. I consider the Poison Army to be an completely different army from my Chaos force even though a few units are in both. I have an idea for a Skaven campaign that will be sequel/side story to the unfinished Border Price Campaign. I will be using the Poison Army in said campaign and it should be the Poison Army's first entry into the my narrative. Now whether the campaign will shape the identity of the Poison Army remains to be seen. The answer will depend on the results of the campaign. Sadly that campaign wouldn't be able to start until I get a lot more done with the Poison Army first. Since the Poison Army is one of the armies I'm currently investing in, I hope the campaign will be able to start sooner rather than later.

Elven Nation - An Elven Nation has been in the background of my writings for a while and future plot points will have them take on a more prominent role. That said, I don't have any plans to start on an army outside of picking up a random unit to practice painting or something to that effort. But if I get involved in a new game (which has happen a lot in the last 4 months) and elves fits in that game as a playable force, then it is possible the Elven Nation will see a sudden appearance on the table top. For now, I just have an unit of archers to paint.

Fae - When working on my setting, I wonder if fairies and other fae creatures should be apart of the Elven Nation. As I flush out in my mind various nations' role in the story, I realize that the two should be separate entities. Allies, but separate nations. When I decided to get into Hordes, I felt a Fae force was the closest nation in my fiction that would fit the Circle Orboros. The more I look through Circle Orboros available units, the easier it was for me to get a clear picture of what the Fae army look like. This doesn't mean my Fae army was identical to Circle Orboros. While there are some overlap with miniatures I see little to no reason to do conversion, Circle Orboros also had miniatures that didn't fit my version of Fae. Not to mention I also thought about miniatures from other games that would flush out this army. I was planning on building a Circle Orboros army but that is on the back burner due to other games taking up too much oxygen in the room. Once I get done with some current projects, I will get back to Fae/Circle Orboros. It is also possible that Age of Sigmar suddenly becomes my main game and my Fae nation would make a perfect second army in AoS.

Thylalon - The knights from Thylalon is going to be the protagonist in my Holy Moon stories. Thylalon started out as my Bretonnian Army. But I quickly develop concepts for Thylalon outside of Bretonnian. Warhammer Fantasy ended right as I was starting to build this army. With an uncertain future I haven't touch it since. More than any of my other forces, I've been looking for another game that I could play my Thylalon knights in. But the only thing I found with an Arthurian Legend favor was Saga and its another historical. Saga is a game I'm looking to get into down the road so I have reason to work on the mundane aspects of Thylalon. I will still be on the lookout for more traditional fantasy games to use my knights in.

Samurai Nation - The idea was to have a country inspired by Japanese culture and separate from the events of previous campaigns, to have its own campaign that will setup who's who in the land. After that, one of the Chaos King's generals was going to sail to that land and invade it, creating a host of storytelling potential. However, due to Test of Honour, my Japanese miniatures have progress much further than the rest of my stuff for the Chaos Magic Mythology. While I could do a samurai campaign relatively soon, the invasion part wouldn't come for a very long time given there was suppose to be at least 2 or 3 campaigns worth history before said invasion happen. With Warlord Games release new Test of Honour stuff, I might have to change my planned story arc. In any case, my Test of Honour miniatures will be going strong for the foreseeable future.

Shieldmaiden - My Shieldmaiden Knights started out as a desire to have a miniature force of all female warriors, regardless of rule set. I didn't have a story behind them and I didn't care if I could used them in a game. When I started this hobby, outside of using proxies for testing, I only wanted to use the official model for the war games I played. It did feel right to me to use another company's model to play their game. Nowadays, I'm far more willing to any model I feel is appropriate to what I'm trying to represent. Not only that but I'm sometimes modeling with an eye towards using a miniature for multiple games. This change to my outlook is what makes my Shieldmaiden Knights idea a possible gaming force. Also realizing that the Shieldmaiden Knights was similar to Sisters of Battle help inspire me to develop what their proper place should be in my mythology. Now that I have some understanding in how they are organize and why, I have some guidance on how to collect and build them as an army. Which comes at a perfect time as I want to use them in a Frostgrave campaign. Given that Frostgrave is a skirmish game, I only need to paint up a handful of figures which will allow me to ease into a full army later. I'm also have a short story idea which I can use to kick off the campaign and introduce who the Shieldmaidens are in the setting.

And those are all the armies I am currently working on or could be working on any in the future. It it's a much bigger list than I initially thought and I'm glad to be able see everything like this. I do want to mention the armies I was planning to build at one point but are no longer a consideration. The first is my Flames of War German army. I was even planning on getting something for it this year, but chance my mind for more Team Yankee Soviets instead. But the death knell of my German army came with Version 4 of Flames of War. V4 looks like a great system but it is way too similar to Team Yankee while also being vastly different in key ways killed it for me. I recently visit a Team Yankee forum and I could see several players confusing the two systems. Now I just heard rumors that Team Yankee will eventually fully adapt the V4 system. If that does happen then I don't have a reason to stay away from Flames of War and my Germans, providing my time is completely taken up by other games.

The two other armies I was planning on building were both Warhammer Armies and they both died with the transition of 8th edition into Age of Sigmar. One was a pure goblin army. I've never been fond of orcs but goblins always had a place in my heart when I want to be evil. Chaos was the only army I had for the entirely of 8th edition and after years of only playing Chaos I finally wanted to start on a second (and third) army. I just wasn't sure if I wanted to do goblins or Bretonnian or both. The story behind it was that a god-like being of death empowered goblins to kill their orc slavers and to worship it. I was inspired to make it after playing the expansion to Diablo 3. The army had a lot of ideas but when Warhammer became far less important to me, I had to cut it. I would love to work on it again but I just have too many other things that is more important to the mythology, plus the many games I'm playing that isn't apart of the mythology. The other army I cut was a 3rd Chaos army. This army not only would have had it own separate story but I would have start building and converting it like I didn't already have a ton of Chaos. I wanted to start with a short story and then continue the tale by playing narrative battles and more short stories. The same process I wanted to do with Holy Moon. But alas with me playing less Warhammer I really didn't need another Chaos army plus the Poison Army sorta took it place. I had almost completely forgotten about the 3rd Chaos Army and the goblin army until I started writing this piece. They both had great stories behind them and conversion I want do with them. Perhaps I will be able to revive one or both of these armies. Who knows what the future will bring.

And that's all I have for my army plans. I'm sorry I haven't updated in over a month but this article took me far longer than I could have imagine to write. I've had troubles writing before but rarely has it been this bad. I won't have a progress review of July because I spent most of the month working on this. Sorry again, and thank you for reading.

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 -