Thursday, May 25, 2017

First Test of Honour Batch Done, More to Go

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

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

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bows Vs Muskets: Test of Honour

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 7, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topic of the Week Video -

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Progress Review #3

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Thoughts on Test of Honour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Topic of the Week - Your Best Convention Memory

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

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

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

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

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

Vince's Topic of the Week -

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Progress Review #2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

BattleTech: Defense of David Rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Tidbits -

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

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

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

And finally the map itself:

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

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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 13, 2017

Random Links - Manga, Claymore, Sisters of Battle and Shieldmaidens

Have you ever read or watch something that reminds you of something else, which in turn reminds you of something else, which in turn gives you an idea for something else entirely? I get that a lot. And over the weekend it happen again, starting with a manga One-Shot.

An One-Shot manga is a comic that either tries to tells a stand-alone short story or tries to raise interest in a new series that author wants to write. I know some of my favorite manga series started as an One-Shot like Berserk and Seven Deadly Sins. In both of these cases the One-Shot was not connect to the series but was very similar to what ended up being the first chapter of the series. I've recently read Arcadia of the Moonlight One-Shot and it seems to me to be more of the pleading its case to be a new series kind of One-Shot. Its a science fiction boy meets princess and decides to help her story. Cliche but manage to perk my interest so I would like to find out more. The plot was rushed but then again you don't have a lot of time in an One-Shot. I don't read a lot of manga anymore. The only reason I read Arcadia of the Moonlight was because it was by Norihiro Yagi. He wrote one of my favorite manga comics in Claymore.

Claymore is a dark fantasy series about its heroine, Clare out to get revenge on a powerful enemy. Clare is a Claymore, a term used by citizens of the country to refer to a supernatural warrior from the organization. Thought to be half-human, half demons these warriors are expert sword masters with supernatural strength, speed and a range of other powers. They earn their name from the fact each wields a large Claymore sword. The warriors of the organization are also all female. Their uniform is pretty simple with a grey/off white/silver color (I found a wiki that says the uniforms are grey but they look closer to an off white or silver to me). Yet it works for them. Reminiscing about my love for Claymore, I was suddenly reminded of another all-female organization.

Phil has been trying to drag me kicking and screaming back into the 40k universe. I hear a lot about the state of the 40k from him and what's new with his 40k armies. As much as I love Eldar and Blood Angels, it wasn't enough to bring me back to the game I started the hobby in. However Sisters of Battle is a different story. Getting to play Sisters of Battle again is probably the one way I consider going back to 40k. Phil knows this and has giving me all the rules I need to have to play them. Phil has also mention to me kill-team rules which is a way to play without having a full army. I still have what little of Sisters of Battle I own before I quit though none of it was ever completely painted. A compelling reason to at least look into kill teams is that I would have 20 to 30 models I can work on before I would need to spend money on 40k again. I started with a red and purple color scheme but since I never finished painting a single model, I could easily go with something different. Related to thinking about if and what to paint my Sisters as, I've also been thinking about colors for my fantasy Sisters like army in the Shieldmaidens. I need to paint the Cloud Giant in my New Year's purchase soon and I hadn't settle on the Shieldmaidens' color. I was leading towards a light green and purple but I wasn't really happy with that.

With Claymore, Sisters of Battle and Shieldmaidens all on my mind, it occurred to me that I could borrow Claymore's colors to solve my problems. 'Light green and silver' or 'purple and silver' looks better in my mind than 'green and purple'. I also solved a problem I hadn't gotten to yet with how I was going to handle rank and/or unit specialization (by unit specialization I'm talking about things like the Dominion Squad and Seraphim Squad in Sisters of Battle). I knew I was going to have one character with red in her outfit and she was going to be some type of officer. The red would be unique to her so how would I distinguish other officers? If I'm going to have special units or military branches within the Shieldmaidens, how will I distinguish them as well? The answer is to paint the entire army two colors with one being silver. The other color will depend on rank and special units. Silver will be the main color with the second color as highlights except for officers whom this will be reverse. Higher the rank, the less silver on their uniform. Sadly I only have two models to try this on and they both most likely officer characters. My Sisters of Battle models would be a good place to try out this color scheme on the average warrior.

I still have a lot to work on with my Shieldmaidens. I haven't decided whether to mirror them on an existing army or makeup my own force and fit something into it later. And of course there is the issue of finding models for them. Nevertheless some aspects of the Shieldmaidens are now resolved because I read a random One-Shot and my mind went into overdrive. Its funny how that works. Thanks for reading about the inter working of my thoughts. Until next time!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Topic of the Week - On Painting Miniatures

Topic of the Week is a question pose by Vince Venturella to the Warhammer Youtube community to encourage interesting discussions. The questions are sometimes Warhammer and/or Gamesworkshop specific while other times they are more general relating to the hobby itself. This week topic is the latter. The topic for this week is On Painting Miniatures. Vince ask "would you still paint miniatures if there was no game involve", "what is the value of painting to you", "is painting a choir" and "your feelings on pre-painted miniatures". I didn't think I would do a responds for this topic because I really hate painting. Still, after thinking about it I realize my answer is more complicated than that. So here is my written responds.

I'm going to start with the pre-painted miniatures part as my answer to it has change over my time in the hobby. I started the hobby with Warhammer 40k. I hated painting then as much as I do now, maybe more so. I really wish the 40k models were pre-painted at the time. I didn't have a lot of model and what I did have were either not painted or partly badly painted. Over time I develop a narrative for my forces. I've always enjoyed crafting stories and making one within the 40k universe help connect me to the game and to my miniatures. As I got a better picture of what my cast of characters look like, I got further away from a "default" look of 40k. It wasn't something I thought about at the time but if GW did come out with pre-painted miniature after I came up with my own narrative, I'm not sure I would want them anymore because they no longer fit into my story. When I move from 40k to fantasy, I had completely divorce my miniatures from the official setting. All honestly I didn't know Warhammer fantasy even HAD an official setting until years after I got into it. I kind of thought it was a make-up your own kind of setting. In any case, not only was I going with my own color scheme, in some cases I went with different miniatures and/or conversions. Examples of this is me swapping the traditional colors for the Chaos Gods because I want my favorite color to match my favorite Chaos God. Also I modified my Nurgle theme into more of a corrupting Nature. When my army is this unique and different from the "default" setting, pre-painted miniatures does me no good. Making miniatures my own is really important to me now and if I get into a new game, I would want to put my own twist on the models. This is why I have had very little interest into getting into the X-Wing game. Some settings are so big and important that the main reason to play the game is the setting itself. Ignoring the setting of Warhammer to me is one thing, trying to do that with Star Wars doesn't feel right. I love Star Wars but if I'm putting my limited funds into a miniature game, I want to play something that feels right crafting my story. So that's why when I started the hobby I really want to buy pre-painted models but now I avoid games that has them.

On the main topic, would I still paint if there was no game involved? That depends if that includes games I make up. I always thought I would be playing miniature games at some point in my life. Before I learn about Warhammer 40k I thought I would have to make the game myself and somehow find pieces for it. Now that I think about it, there is no way I can divorce the game from the miniatures because if these types of models were out there, I would develop a game for them if one didn't already exist. It would have taken me longer to get into the hobby but I think I would eventually find my home here. I do not enjoy painting at all. I do enjoy seeing my story come to life on the table. Despite my lack of enjoying painting, I have notice my painting skills have gotten better over the years. This is really surprising to me as I paint so irregular and infrequent. I do spend a lot of time thinking about painting in terms of what colors I should use for certain units and in general what colors I see walking around that I would like to use on a model. The most common example of this is seeing a car drive by me with a unique color scheme and I'm trying to imagine what would an unit of knights with that color for their armor look like? I'm not trying nor have any desire to be a better painter. Instead it is a by product of trying to get my vision on the table.

One of my goals for this year is to paint more often. It is not an easy goal for me to achieve given how much I dislike painting itself. Yet so much of what I want to accomplish is reliant on me getting a lot of painting done. And that I think pretty much sums up my relationship with painting. Thanks for reading.

Topic of the Week link -

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Team Yankee Tactics: Encounter

I recently played a game with the Encounter mission. Our game ended disappointingly suddenly with the destruction of the Soviets force along with Tracy's lack of ability to get any reserves in. He was extra frustrated because his previous game had the same mission and ended in a similar way. We both had new test lists and were sad that the game ended before we got a chance to get a feel for our lists. At least that what I thought at the time. Thinking back on it, I think I did learn something about my list. However, more important I think I learn the Encounter mission is far trickier than it appears and I though up some advice to think about when playing that mission. I just want to say that I will be using examples of what I think Tracy did wrong in our game. I'm not trying to insult his playing. In fact I would have probably behave in the same way. It was only after witnessing the game going very wrong and contemplating on it that I came up with these ideas.

The first thing I need to tackle is the elephant in the room when dealing with a lot of this missions, list building. Tracy said next time we should just play a game with everything on table so we can properly test out our list. At the time I agree with him but now I think that is the wrong way of thinking about it. 7 out of the 9 Expanded Missions has at least one player dealing with reserves. Reserves is very much a big part of the game and if your list has troubles with reserves then its not a good list. Up until now I only thought about reserves in how many units I have in my list (and by default, how many units need to go into reserves). I now know that I need to put far more thought into how my list deals with reserves. Neither of us had very reserve friendly list as we both struggled with deciding with what to have on the table and what to put into reserves. Here are the things I think you need to think about for reserves:

1. A strong infantry unit on the table. - Infantry are very hard to remove in the game. Having some infantry start on the table means it will be unlikely for you to take (and failed) a formation morale check before most of your army can come in from reserves, even with bad rolling. You have to consider that you might not get anything from reserves until turn 5 while your opponent have access to nearly everything with some bad rolls for you. What you start the game with has to be able to survive for a long time and infantry are the best units for this goal. You don't want to auto lose the game because of a failed formation morale check when you only have 30% of your force on the table.

2. A game changer unit in reserves. - By game changer I mean an unit of 3 main battle tanks from NATO forces or 5 - 7 T-72s from a Warsaw force. I think the reason you want to do this is twofold. One is that if they not on the table, they can't get destroyed! When you have to deal with reserves, there is a good chance you will be out numbered on the table. When you are vastly out numbered, main battle tanks make easy targets. Second, when you are hurting, out numbered and with your back against the wall and you only got 1 thing coming in from reserves, you want something that can make a different. In addition to their natural power, main battle tanks coming in from reserves has a good chance of getting side shots on enemy MBTs.

3. Try to have a balance force on the table. - Since what you start with on the table could be the only units available until turn 5, you should try to craft a list that can have a balance force on the table. Its pretty obvious that your list should be balance so it can deal with armor, aircraft and infantry. But what some people, including myself don't factor in is that you need to have a balance list after taking away your reserve units. That means you should already have a good idea what is going into reserve and what's going to be on the table regardless of what your opponent has.

4. Make adjustment based on your opponent's list. - That said, you need to pay attention to what is in your opponent list and if your opponent has to pick their reserves first, be sure to consider that as well and make adjustments to your normal plan as need be. If your opponent puts all their aircraft in reserves, then you should be safe with putting your Gophers in reserves as well for example.

These are four things that I think will not only help with Team Yankee in general but in particular should help with the Encounter Mission. And they are all things I never consider to do until now.

If your not familiar with the Encounter Mission, it splits the table in middle such that both players have an entire long table edge deployment zone. The key elements of it is that both players have scattered reserves, have to defend two objectives place by the opponent that can be taken on turn 1 and no one knows who has first turn. That's why I started talking about reserves. How you handle reserves is extremely important, maybe more so than some other missions with reserves. Something that is really easy to miss is that the objectives are in a location where that if you are controlling your opponent's objective to win, your opponent's reserve can flank you. The fact that you can immediately take the objectives leads to the incentive to rush across the board to do just that. It's easy to forget that your opponent has the chance to get new units on Turn 3 and will definitely get something in on Turn 5. Or you might think you have reserves of your own so it evens out. If this is your thinking then you need to remember that while you are in your opponent's deployment zone, your reserves might have trouble lending support arriving from your own board edge. In our game Tracy rushed two units of T-72s to my side to put pressure on me and it look like I was in a lot of trouble. But me getting back to back reserves of Leopard 2s and Leopard 1s who got flank shot lead to all of his T-72s getting wiped out. You should always based your tactics on the strengths of your force and what your opponent is capable of, but I think a general rule of thumb is that for Encounter you should resist the temptation to rush for objectives for the first few turns.

If in the first 4 turns you get obliterated, it is pretty easy to get demoralize and give up. Before you do take a deep breath, relax and take a serious look at the state of the game because you may not be as bad off as it seems. Unless your reserves can't hurt your opponent like Shilkas and Gophers against Main Battle Tanks, then its a good chance you still have a large portion of your force ready to come in. In our game Tracy lost 8 T-72s in one turn, completely wiping out 2 units and failed to get any reserves of his own. He thought he had no hope of defending both objectives. The thing is that I wasn't going to win on my next turn as I wasn't near any of his objectives. He still had his T-72 HQ on the table and infantry in a building that I had no hope of doing meaningful damage to. In reserves he had an unit of 4 Hinds and 2 units of 6 Carnations and he was going to get at least one of those units next turn. The Hinds would be risky to use as I still had most of my Gepards and the untouched Redeye Teams on the table. His biggest threats were the unit of 2 Leopard 2s and an unit of 3 Leopard 1s. The carnations if lucky can deal with both of them. If Tracy didn't give up, I would have moved the Leopard 2s up to try to control an objective to win. In retrospect, this would have been bad because now Tracy's carnation would of had the opportunity to get on the flank and with 6 guns the averages say he should wipe out the Leopard 2s. Even if he couldn't get on the flank, 6 carnations has a decent chance of taking out a single Leo2 per turn. And dealing with the Leopard 1s would have been even easier. It would have been an uphill battle to win but Tracy had the tools to handled the board in his reserves.

The last point I want to bring up is that the scattered reserves in Encounter is not as random as it appears. A concern I've heard about and had myself is that your reserves are unreliable because its random where they will arrive from. However a third of the time you can place the unit anywhere on the table edge. Also objective tends to be near the corners to make defending them as hard as possible. That means if you are worried about being able to contest an objective, you have a 2/3 chance of getting to arrive where you want. Failing that, the enemy should still be in range of the arriving unit's weapons, assuming firing lanes are available. Terrain can change this, but in general I don't think you have to worry about the scattered part of reserves in this mission.

These are all my thoughts on the Encounter mission. I hope it can be useful in our own games. If have your own advice on this mission or if any of my advice here help you, please tell me about it in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Summoners Journal #3 - The World Boss

It's been a while since my last episode and I haven't really made all that much progress. I've still been playing almost every day. My issue has been that I've not been very active when I do play and I'm at a point in the game that my current play style isn't advancing me anymore ... or so I thought. There is one way my play style can still make a difference, I just haven't been trying it yet.

Before I go into that I want to go back to where I left off in the last episode. I has hyping up the Light/Dark scroll because whatever I got would have been fairly rare. However I was less than overjoyed with a Bearman. Not that he is necessarily bad, its just that I have no interest in him. The most common way to get monsters is by summoning them with scrolls. The most common scroll you can earn is the Unknown Scroll. An Unknown Scroll earns you one random monster of grades 1 to 3 stars of the Fire/Water/Wind type. After the Unknown Scroll, the next type of scroll is the far rarer Mystical Scroll. The Mystical Scroll gives you a random monster of grades 3 to 5 stars. The thing about these scrolls is that you can only get Fire, Water or Wind monsters from them. In terms of rarity, the next types of scrolls are Fire, Water and Wind scrolls which acts like a Mystical Scroll but only summons one type. So you can't get Light or Dark monsters from the most commonly found scrolls in the game which makes them far rarer than other types of monsters. Its not until you get to the even rarer Light and Dark Scrolls that you actually have a chance of getting one. Like Mystical Scrolls, Light and Dark Scrolls summon monsters of grades 3 to 5. I'm getting to the point in the game where I'm beginning to sacrifice 3 star monsters for other purpose. Even though I have no interest in a Bearman and have sacrifice other Bearman of different types, I'm keeping the Light Bearman just because Light/Dark monsters are that rare.

After my last episode I was seriously considering change my play style. Relatively speaking, I've been in the same place in the game for 4 or 5 months now. Techniques other experts suggest didn't appeal to me but I was beginning to think I have no other choice if I wanted to advance any farther in the game. And then I unlocked the World Boss. The World Boss operates in a completely different way from anything else in the game. To fight the World Boss you use 10 to 20 monsters at once and you can fight the World Boss three times per day though a monster can only be used against the World Boss once a day. Its also not a "fight" in any sense of what you normally do. Instead the monsters you use in the battle is assign a score to them. The score is based on a number of factors and the score of all your monsters is added up to determine how much damage you did to the World Boss. Higher the damage, more the reward you get from fighting it. Some of those factors include the grade and level of the monster, the grade and level of the runes the monster has equip and how many of the monster's skill has been upgraded. Normal combat effectiveness doesn't matter in the World Boss. Improving the overall power of the monster helps get better rewards from the World Boss.

Because of the World Boss I can play how I like and still make progress in the game. I now have a reason to advance 60 monsters as far as I can. The higher tier World Boss rewards are quite valuable and well within my ability to earn them. I had moved away from collecting and powering up as many monsters as I could to focus on a smaller group, but now a large volume of monsters is the key to doing well against the World Boss. It also doesn't matter what type of runes I give my monsters as long as they are the strongest I have. Nevertheless this will be very slow progression. When I first started playing the game and learn most of its mechanics, it never occurred to me how slow this part of the game is. After 8 months of playing some experts will still consider me in the "early" game. I suppose this is fine as long as I have a goal in the game and haven't gotten myself burnt out.

This is another one of those topics that finding a comparison to miniature gaming doesn't quite work. The amount of effort that goes into maxing a monster's strength in the game is insane. Once a miniature is assembled and painted, its done. There is no need to go back over it outside of repairs and rare touch ups such as change a model's base for some reason. If repainting miniatures was more of a thing then I could make a comparison. In a way the work that goes into a monster is similar to the work of building an entire army in a miniature game. 8 months in and I'm still not close to having a single monster maxed out. Yes I have a few monsters at the highest grade and level, but that is just one part of the monsters strengths. Next time I think I will go over combat strategics as that should be a topic with a lot of crossover with miniature gaming. Until then, thanks for reading.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Progress Review #1

It is the end of the first full month since I've started my new direction. At least until I completely finish my initial purchase, I want to do a review at the end of the month to look at the progress I have made and where I plan to go next month. I had hope I would get more accomplish but at least I've made more progress than my usual pace last year.

As you can see I only got to Team Yankee stuff this month. All six tanks are mostly assembled. One of the smoke launchers was deflective so the far end T-72 can't be finished until I get the replacement in about 2 weeks. The Leopard 2 and one T-72 is fully primed and I started painting them. I should get to/finish priming the remaining 3 T-72s tomorrow. I was really up in the air on how to paint my tanks. For some reason green and red was strongly appealing for both countries. For West German I wanted to do green, red and yellow camo. I didn't have the right shade of yellow so I had to buy it. For the Soviets I was leading to green as a main color, something else for a secondary color for one formation and red as a main color with the green as a secondary for the other formation. I was a little worried at first that my two countries were going to look too similar. Fortunately I don't think that will be an issue now. I had a lot of Flames of War paint I've never used and it help solve my dilemma. It had a brown in the set that look like red to me. I thought it was the perfect shade for my Germans and I knew I wanted a stronger red for my Soviets. Even better the set had two different greens: Reflective Green and Luftwaffe Green.

Luftwaffe Green was what I was feeling towards my West Germans. The Reflective Green is suitably different to work with my Soviets. I've only just started painting but I'm liking what I'm seeing so far. The next thing I need to try is red for the other Soviet formation. Funny enough I already have a strong red from Games Workshop.

I'm going to use that red camo with the Reflective Green. I hope this comes out well as I'm picking my colors in the Joy of Painting style. I hope to be done with the painting on most of the tanks in a week or two. After that I'm going to need to pick up a gloss spray so I can follow in the footsteps of what Tracy did for his Soviets. It might have been what I did wrong with my US as I didn't put a gloss coat on before I added the shade.

For next month I plan on finishing the tanks, do a little work on the Gepard and Fliegerfaust Gruppe I already had, start on the Plague Monks and Relic Knights and maybe do something with BattleTech. I don't see myself getting into the Hordes stuff until April or May. Let see how much of this I can get done by the end of March.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Team Yankee Tactics: Mistaken Target

I think a lot of people do not realize how useful the Mistaken Target rule is in Team Yankee. Its value does take a bit to truly appreciate. I myself didn't realize some of the things that could be done with it until I play a few games where it came up. Here I will share some ways the Mistaken Target rule can help you in games.

First I better explain what the Mistaken Target rule is. When your opponent is shooting at one of your platoon, they pick an individual team to target. The attacker can assign the hits how they like as long as the first hit goes on the initial targeted team, and all the hits are evenly distributed within 6 inches of that target. Mistaken Target comes in here as now the defender has the option to swap all the hits on one legal team with all the hits on a second legal team. The first use most players think of for this rule is if some teams in the platoon are inoperative (bailed/bogged down) then you want to try to move as many hits away from the active tank teams. But this just scratches the surface of what you can do with it. Look at this example:

In this example an Abram shot at the T-72s and hit once, putting the hit on tank marked A. You might think it doesn't matter which tank gets hit but it does. Tank A is within 16 inches of the Abram while tank B is more than 16 inches. That puts Tank B at long range so its armor is 1 higher. So it would be in the Soviet player's best interest to swap hits for a higher chance of a tank surviving. In a related note, remember you have to keep track of where each hit came from, especially if some of the shooters are getting side shots like in this next example:

Let's assume the Abrams in this example are more than 8 inches away. If each Abram hit once then the US player would want to put the hit from C on Tank B and D on to Tank A so it would be impossible for the Soviets to make an Armor save because it would be side shots. The Mistaken Target rule would allow the Soviet player to swap hits so both shots would be on front armor. In the heat of battle it can be easy to forget to use the Mistaken Target in this way. On the flip side, a tank "knife" fight is far more deadly than I initially thought. I figure that if my opponent is going to flank my tanks and there is no way to stop it, I would deploy my vehicles facing every directions, hoping I could then use Mistake Target to put as many shots as possible on front armor. What I didn't realize until recently is that if my opponent close the distance, then not only can they practice place the hits for maximum side shots, I also wouldn't be able to use Mistake Target rule because they are too close. In the above example the Abrams are actually 4 inches away, which would prevent the Soviets from using Mistake Targets. In this in mind for your games.

In the next example I have two pictures. In the first picture things are in the actual distance I will be describing. The second picture is a close up of the action so it would be easier to see what the issue is.

This situation happen in my last game, to my detriment. I pointed the issue out in hopes for me and Tracy to become better gamers and it bite me in the end. In this example it is the US turn and the Cobra hasn't fired yet. Wanting to protect my aircraft, I attempted to wiped out the enemy AA. The Soviets still had two working Shilkas and I just had my HQ tank to take them out. The Abram only hit once so I put the hit on the Shilka labelled A. It doesn't matter what angle the shot is coming from, any hit on a Shilka from an Abram is practically a dead Shilka. However in this case, Shilka A is in range of the Cobra while Shilka B is just outside of range to shoot at the aircraft. Since there is nothing else to shoot at the Shilkas it is in the Soviets player best interest to swap the hit so they can still do AA fire on the Cobras. In our actually game we played West Germans vs Soviets and I lost a Tornado because of this situation.

So always be aware what your opponents can still shoot next before deciding on using Mistaken Target rule and rolling saves. Because just swapping hits away from the active tanks may not be in your best interest. Instead it might be more beneficial to try to protect certain Anti-Aircraft teams or move hits onto teams that are the only targets for enemies that still can shoot.

One last point on Mistaken Targets and its something I only learn when I decided to write this post. Infantry can ALWAYS use the Mistaken Target rule outside of assaults. The restriction on using Mistaken Targets specifically mentions tank teams. And I think this makes sense. No matter how close you get, the enemy probably can't tell which individual soldier is apart of which team. And even if you could snipe a special weapons guy like a Milan Missile Team, the platoon probably has some people cross trained with those weapons and could pick them off the dead guy. In fact, something like that happen in the Team Yankee novel. use the Mistaken Target rule if they are outside 4 inches. Their usage of 'either' confused me and I thought the rule was saying something else. The thing I've never notice before is that you can't swap hits to a tank within 8 inches even if the initial target is more than 8 inches away. I always just check to see if the target was within 8 inches or not. I know now I need to also pay attention to who the hits is getting swap to. I also thought that if someone in the shooting platoon was within 8 inches, then none of the platoon's shoots could be swap. But this is incorrect. You need to check whether each shooting team's shots can be swap separately. Sorry for the error.

I hope I was able to offer some advice on playing Team Yankee. If you know of some tactics using the Mistaken Target rule that I didn't cover, please leave a comment about it. Thank you for reading.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The New Beginning Starts Now!

I got my Battlefront stuff today so now I'm ready to discuss my miniature fresh start. Here is a group shot of everything I picked up.

One thing you may notice is that there is no World War 2 miniature. I was planning on getting the Kleinpanzer Wanze to restart my Flames of War force because its a cool looking vehicle but I eventually decided to just drop it for now. Part of the reason was being unsure which Flames of War list to work on since working on multiple German list sometime have as much in common with each other as complete different armies. Also with Team Yankee going from "a game I may get to play sometime in the future, maybe" to "setting up a Team Yankee night", I have more of an incentive to get my Team Yankee stuff done.

From my Battlefront only picture, you can tell I dropped the T-72 singles and the Wanze to get the T-72 box instead. And its a good thing that I did. I had plan to buy a single tank here and there and maybe get the Potecknov's Bears box set from my local store. I now know that won't work for me because of decals. I hadn't taken a good look at the Soviet decals until I open my box and they sucked, at least for my purpose. For start there are only 16 big number decals on the sheet. I don't know why they have two different size numbers on the sheet but if I'm going to use any decals, I'm going to use the same size on all my T-72. My list has 20 tanks so I will need to customize a few numbers no matter what. However the numbers on the sheet is what really gives me problems. The sheet has the numbers "200" and every number between "216" and "230". I don't see a system that makes sense using those numbers. What's extra strange is that you couldn't number your tanks the same way as the tanks on the T-72 box picture. All the tanks on the box are numbered in the 300s. There is noway to number your tanks in that way because they only give you 2 pairs of 3s. Long story short, trying to number my tanks in a way that makes sense to me is going to require a bunch decal sheets. To grab as many decal sheets as possible means I should only buy my tanks in the T-72 Tankovy Company box. I guess this does makes my next three Soviet purchase straight forward.

My West German force is a different story. I don't have either a partial or full list preset to build for my West Germans so I have a different set of considerations for what to get next. A combination of options I'm likely to choose often and reducing proxies are my top priorities. With those in mind artillery will one of the last things I will get as I can us my US 109s to stand for West German's M109s in the meantime. That said, getting my first Leopard 2 assemble is going to be nice but I am really not sure where to go next. I need tank decals so getting the Leopard 2 box or the German Army deal is a good idea. At this point I am not sold on the helicopters so I will probably go with the Leopard 2 box. I just think helicopters are too expensive point wise and I need to play a lot more games with them before I commit to them. The Marder box is another strong option as I will need some amount of infantry to balance my force. With all things consider I think my next Team Yankee purchase will be the Leopard 2 box so I can finish my current Leo2 with my following West German purchase most likely being the Marder box.

Moving on to Warhammer, I was able to get exactly what I wanted to start my Age of Sigmar Poison Army. I love the 3 snap together Chaos Warrior box. It maintains the Chaos aspect of the army and gives me something to practice a new color scheme. The focus of the army however will be with Skaven and the Plague Monks will give me my first taste of rats. I already have square bases to base them with. The next step with them is either another box of Plague Monks since my local store has one on the shelf, the Pestilens Starter Box or the Clan Rats box to get more square bases and rat bits. I will need quite a few more purchases before I will have enough to play with the army. I also need to keep an eye on the General's Handbook 2 news as that may change the outlook of my army. For that matter I need to learn what's in the Pestilens Battletome as well.

It's a little easier to determine what to get next for Hordes and BattleTech after these purchases. Nothing for a while! In BattleTechs case I feel I only need a few mechs for my purpose. Proxying is not as big of an issue in BattleTech and Chris has more than enough models to supply us both for the campaign. I don't need that many mechs to show off the look of my force and I think both the Warhammer and Longbow capture the essence of my army. If need be I can always add one or two more mechs later based on what I will bring in the campaign.

On the other hand I'm getting nothing for Hordes for while because I truly have no idea what to get. I still haven't play enough to even know I like the game. My knowledge on the game and Circle Orboros is quite low. I pick up the Druid Wilder because I really feel she will fit in how I want to play the game. They didn't have the Warbeast I was interested in so I grab Morvahna the Autumnblade instead. I knew I wanted her eventually and I need a warlock to start playing with so I figure might as well start with her. I wanted to start with a different warlock but I never found anyone else I was interested in. I initially wanted Morvahna later was because the story I'm crafting doesn't have her appear for a while, at least in combat. At least now when she does appear in my story I should be good at using her. But that is a long way down the road. Right now learning the game and what is my prefer play style are my top Horde priorities.

I initially wanted to pick up two female cloud giants to go into my Shieldmaiden army. I decide to just grab one now to see if I like the model and how I can paint it. If it turns out well then I will pick up a second cloud giant shortly. After taking her out the package and getting a good look at her, I think chances are good I will be getting that second one. The second giant will probably be a good time to practice doing conversions such as giving her a different weapons.

I'm really excited about everything I pick up. I hope by the end of the month I can have half the Plague Monks, the Chaos Warriors, and all the Team Yankee stuff finish. I'm already getting Team Yankee games in and I should be getting BattleTech and Hordes games soon as well. A gallery page will be forthcoming so I will have a place to post my progress with all these projects. Stay tune. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Delay is Over!

I finally got my Christmas purchase done. My Battlefront order should be here early next week and I have everything else on my gaming table. What I ultimately got is a little different from my initial plans. I will go into how when my Battlefront stuff arrives and I can do a group picture. For now I want to go over my immediately Team Yankee plans.

Tracy has returned to the hobby and picked up the new books. We were given the option the join the next campaign our Oklahoma friends were putting together. We both decided to decline as the campaign was starting that week and we wanted some time to get back into the swing of things (and I was still busy for another week moving). Tracy has found a lot interest in both the British and East German armies. However he wants to get some games in before he invests in them. I on the other hand has shelf my incomplete US army to make a West German and Soviet force. With the prospect of actually getting games in I will be investing in Team Yankee a lot more than I thought I was going to do. We have restart doing Team Yankee demos again though this is mostly Tracy. Today at the demo there was discussions to have a Team Yankee game night with a third player. Even being away from the scene for half a year, it seems our previous efforts are beginning to blossom a local Team Yankee scene beyond the two of us. And all this happen a little over the last 2 weeks.

So what does all this mean? For this blog it means more Team Yankee articles are incoming. It means more Team Yankee tutorials and battle reports on Tracy's channel. And it means we may soon have enough players and interests to do our own Team Yankee campaign. This is quite the unexpected turn around for me but I am excited for it. I have a few ideas for campaigns. Now I can feel confident to work on them and know I can put them to use almost immediately. I'm already thinking about what to get next but that is a discussion that should go with the upcoming group picture post. So I will leave things here. I need to start designing a logo for my AoS army anyway. Thank you for reading.