GenCon 2011

I actually made it to the Con this year, family in tow just off a weekend+ of strep throat for me and the missus as well as my car getting totaled in a t-bone on the way to work.  We were crossing our fingers up to the last minute that the one uninfected shorty in the family would stay healthy and she did: in her body at least.   After 5-6 hours at Gencon, I will never be sure if she’ll be right again.  As any attendee is well aware, some of the things viewed there can never, ever be unseen.  There was one moment of almost-regret when, while being dragged through the morass in the dealer hall by her and her cousin, we essayed into a dank waft a malodor the likes of which neither of their young, unblanched olfactory organs had experienced before.   While I winced and imagined the sort of lifestyle choices that accompanied such a reek, they just pushed on, dragging me to whatever corner of the dealer hall their fancy took them.

Saturday I was free from the burdens of unprotected sex and I while I missed the Shadowfist world championship by 23 minutes, it gave me ample time to wander around and get some demos and shop.  Here are some of the results I can remember.

Ventura: new game by Fantasy Flight dealing with the Condotierre period in Italy.  Interesting take on the whole ‘hexes make up the board’ mechanic that Nexus Ops, Kings and Things and Twilight Imperium use.  You draw and lay the tiles nearest your own controlled area, so the board builds out form a conflicted center.  All and all, an easy, fairly elegant area control game that I would have picked up immediately had the price point not been… drum roll please: 80$ !  That’s what I would expect to pay for a big box hobby game like Descent or Ikusa.  While it seemed like a good game, the price point is going to crush it.

Blood Bowl League Manager:   An insta-buy when it comes out, this was the belle of the ball for me.  I was highly skeptical they would be able to pull this off, and they did!  It’s a little deck building a bit of bluffing, some luck and the most important part: they integrated the block dice really well into the whole game mechanic.   Essentially, you have a deck of your players and you play them on different games that make up a season.  It’s abstracted but essentially represents you pulling out all the stops for a game with a player position for whatever effect in that game.  If you have more strength than the opponent for each game, you win and get whatever benefits the game provides.  This could be more player cards, some team special abilities or special coaches (or just fan factor).  Whoever has the most fan factor at the end of the league wins.   Looks like it can scale with players and really easy to play a short game or a really long campaign.  Can’t wait to get my hands on this one.  FF ran out of their 300 copies on Friday morning, or so I heard.  Damn.

Rune Age:  Another new one from Fantasy Flight.  I half-heartedly tried to get into a demo of this but after looking over someone’s shoulder and seeing how Dominion-esque it was, I took a pass.   Some will like this a lot.  Unless someone says it’s not like Dominion at all, I’ll take a pass on this one.

Talisman Dragons: it was there, but after the 10 hours worth of games a few weeks back, I was just not ready to pick this up yet.  Definite purchase, just later in the Fall.

Shopping.  I was tentatively looking for some Dreamblade stuff and it was found only at one booth and fairly expensive.  I missed last year’s con, but there was plenty around in 2009 to be had, mostly for a song.  It’s a solid area-control miniatures game and with the figures super cheap, no reason not to pick up a bunch.  As they ramp up in price; not so much.

AT-43 was also on my list, and I found one booth with a couple of very cheap items I needed, and another booth with a bunch that was half off retail, but still expensive for my tastes.  Again in 2009 there was  a ton to be had (mostly due to Fantasy Flight’s liquidation) but that well has very much dried up.  AT-43 is an excellent game and I’m quite close to having a Therian and Red Block army of some size to meddle with.  Along with AT-43 is the old 3.5 Confrontation stuff– amazing minatures for the most part and one booth had a bunch, but they just didn’t have anything I really needed.  I may be kicking myself someday for not breaking the bank picking some of it up.   The main issue is, I paint so slowly the stuff will sit in boxes for a decade before a brush hits it at all.

Warhammer: I found a booth that had TONS of bits and I will be hitting that every year that they make it.   I would literally spend the whole con going through their shit. They didn’t have anything exceptionally old, but had a mess of stuff for any and all of the big box GW games (Necromunda, Blood Bowl, BFG, Man O War, etc).

Sadly, I didn’t buy a single ‘new’ game to say, like most years,  “a ha! I got this at Gencon, we must play!”  This is due to blood bowl league manager being sold out and Ventura– well 80$ was just too much to spend.

"I'm not sure what that smell was my childe, let's move on quick!"

Shadowfist.  Though I missed the nationals Saturday morning, I did make it to the invite-only tournament for past tournament winners, which started right after the morning tournament final concluded after a 4 hour final!   I was able to pull out the win after getting a tie in my first game, winning my second game after a long slough (thank you petroglyphs!) and winning in short order the three man final.   In the final against ascended and architects (least that’s what I saw), I started strong and got a High Noon face off using a foundation character (thank you Yellow Senshi Chamber!) and a ring of gates out (protecting from stuff going back into my hand which my deck hates).  The Ascended player laid out bull market (5 power to all players) as a response to the end of my turn, allowing me the power to lay out a site and be at play and take for my next turn.  Then he announced that he had gotten all Feng Shui in his draw.  Now, getting all Feng Shui at a time like that really sucks, but to announce it in the final of a tournament–it basically said to both myself and the other player that he was pretty much out of denial cards and we needed to go for the win.  The Architect player to my right brought out some little stuff, but couldn’t take a site (thank you Final Brawl!) and after gaining 4 power in addition to the 5 from the Bull Market, I was able to lay out a foundation character, a Big Brusier and have a power left for a confucian stability to stop the inevitable zzzzzap (which came in the form of an Op Killdeer).  Going for the win, the brusier got redirected onto a 9 body site (he’s only 8 fighting) , but my foundation character’s damage was redirected onto that 9-body site via the yellow senshi chamber, reducing it to a feastable number for the big brusier, for which the table had no answer.  All in all, I got real lucky with my draws and was able to capitalize on both the bad luck of the other players as well as some mistakes on their part.

The deck list is here.

My MVP cards:

Character: Big Bruiser

Event: Blue Meditation

Edge: Shield of Pure Soul

Feng Shui: Petroglyphs

State: none in deck

After winning this and the Wisconsin state championship this year after many years of tournaments of just barely not making it into the finals, I’m looking at a long decade or so of getting my ass handed to me in competitive play as I well deserve.  Bring it!

It’s bad when….

…you find a print out at the top of a stack of papers next to the printer at work of your 1000 point beastman army.   It LOOKS like a normal spreadsheet except that it has words like Chaos Hounds, Gorbull and Bray Shaman on it.  Obviously someone found it and put it right on top.  I don’t even remember printing it is what’s worse.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle – Storm of Magic: July

probably no dwarf wizards

WFB 8th edition kicks total ass.  I’ve mentioned this before, and I will continue to keep reiterating it.  Other than Blood Bowl, which is the best thing Games Workshop has ever and will ever create, WFB 8th edition is a solid second place: it’s better than Necromunda (gasp!), better than Man O’ War (I would be throttled for saying this in some quarters of our fair city) and, as always, it’s the better game between it’s cool but not so fun to actually play Warhammer 40K.

That said, it’s getting close to a year since 8th edition came out, and we have only a single army book that’s ‘official’ and one just announced (Tomb Kings).  Granted the Skaven and Beastmen books were written as crossovers from 7th to 8th and work just fine, but there hasn’t been all that much out for the game in the last (almost) year.  There was supposedly a big announcement for the summer, and this could be it: just announced is not another army book (which we need) but a ‘Storm of Magic’ expansion that extends the magic phase and adds in what appears to be some bigger, more powerful MONSTRARS.   Given that my last game I shocked and awed my opponent as my measly lvl 1 Bray Shaman transformed in to an 8’s across the board Greater Red Dragon FTW, I guess— bring on the MONSTRARS!   In addition, it’s pretty obvious from reading some 5000 per side plus battle reports that the magic system (while great) does not scale up when there are half a dozen or more spellcasters on the table per side.  I’m looking forward to it and damn I still have so much to paint…

Reading about this announcement across the interwebtubes you really get the impression that long time Warhammer players love nothing better than to complain about every possible thing.  I just want to shake some of these guys and remind them that in the 70’s and early 80’s NOTHING like what Games Workshop has created and maintained was even close to existing.  Everything miniatures-wise pre-Citadel (i.e.:. before the mid 80’s) was pure shit on toast.  If you think differently, you have your nostalgic head straight up your pre-gen-x butthole!

Rule of the day!

Goal failure! sort of…

10 miniatures a month complete.  Seems easy? Doable?  Yes and yes.  How could I have failed?  I blame the weather and Rackham!  The first week of the month started off awesome: I finished 6 Beastmen Gor and was poised to meet the goal by mid month– if I had had any more primed Gor or Ungor.  Then the weather turned from bitter cold to the drizzlin shits of rain, where priming was impossible.   So I grabbed one of my bigger models, the hound of scathach from Confrontation 3, as a stand in for a Razorgor and that took two weeks.   Eventually the weather cleared and was able to get a mess of stuff primed and I tried to pull it out and get to 10 in the last couple days, but I just couldn’t pull it off.  Still it’s only 103 points…

April has to be 14 or I’m no brushman.

Wow that's a messy table.
probably just mad because that corpse stinks something awful

WFB 8 Battle Report: Beastmen vs Goblins (or– Thank you Anvil of Vaul!)

Cain indulged the current obsession for the fourth time this weekend hauling his Night Goblin swarm over to pit them against the primal fury of the beastmen in Warhammer Fantasy Battle.   We rolled ‘battle for the pass’ for the scenario,  which means the armies fight it out starting on the short ends of the 6′ X 4′ table rather than the long ones as normal.  This gave a very compact center with little room on the flanks for maneuver or trickery.   At 1500 points per side, that made for quite the crowded table with few places to escape the big blocks of rank n file.  A tough fight for the goblins to start with as the table set up neutralized the Gobbo advantages on the flanks (there weren’t any!) was exacerbated by a bit of terrain that worked just a wee too well in the beastmen’s favor: the Anvil of Vaul (oh and his fanatics).

The fanatic didn’t go exactly the right way shortly after this shot

Under normal circumstances, the Anvil of Vaul, which gives Flaming and Magical attack augmentation to all units within 6″, would be a pretty even bonus for both sides in a fight, but I just happened to choose Blackened Plate as my only magic item for the army (man was 1500 points a squeeze).  Blackened Plate gives a 2 up ward save to the wearer against flaming attacks AND a 4 up ward save for any unit he is with.  In the clutch block on block fights during the battle, all within 6″ of the Anvil of Vaul, this gave my main Gor unit, who usually go skin with no save at all, a horrific advantage over the Goblins leading to their decimation, flight and subsequently ending up inside a stomach for their pains.  Still it was a great game and we’re finally getting down the rules.  It’s been tough to remember the fiddly bits here and there and to remember that Charges are resolved before compulsory movement (a big change from almost every Warhammer ruleset I’ve ever played) but we’re getting closer.  One makes a big investment getting into a game like Warhammer, and committing to an edition and so far I couldn’t be more pleased with the games played– all just a total blast that makes 4 hours go by in a wink.

My list was finally legal after struggling to reconcile the 7th edition book with the 8th edition rules (sorry Cain) but was not fully painted, which is my personal shame as I really dislike hitting the table with unpainted stuff:

Gorbull (General)
Blackened Plate*

Wargor (Battle Standard Bearer)

Bray Shaman Level 1 (Lore of Beasts)

Core:

38 Gor with additional hand weapons, standard, musician and champion (both the Gorebull and Wargor joined this unit)

10 Gor with additional hand weapons, musician (in ambush)

29 Ungor with spears and shields, standard, musician (the Bray Shaman joined the ungor)

2 Tuskagor Chariots

5 Chaos Hounds

Special:

Razorgor (played by a Hound of Scathach from Confrontation)

Rare:

A big fat Giant!

Smell my book!

I accidentally picked up a Dark Elf army real cheap today with the 7th edition book in tow.  I cracked it open a few minutes ago and not only has it been obviously exposed to rooms filled constantly with smoke from them tweeds, it reeks as if it was regularly used to hold quantities while it’s former owner was, say, packing a bowl or rolling a fatty not that I would know about any sort of things like that.

10 BEASTS

As of 1:10 PM today, I made my quota for miniatures painted for the month.  4 Ungor, 6 Gor AHW for a total of 68 points added to the 1000 or so painted I have.   That means In 5 months if I can keep pace I’ll have an additional 340 points for the beastmen army. That’s it?  Ouch….

These were from a set off ebay that I picked up pre-built and pre-primed, so there are some mold line problems on some of them.  Recipes– I hate it when people post pics of their stuff and don’t post recipes.  Flesh is over a black undercoat, Dark Flesh, Vermin Brown and then Vermin brown with a slight amount of bronzed flesh for the final.   I use the dynamic layering method so no washes, and only drybrushing where it really makes sense.  The axes turned out pretty well as I overbrushed the blades and then cleaned up the head of the axe with a wash of black to just lightly cover the dry brush.  Again, these are core troops, so if hold one to your eye you will see the impressionist style that layering methods create (as opposed to blending).  and each color only at most, four layers (In contrast to 10+ for a blended model).

This batch of models includes the first time in history that I enjoyed painting shields.  The plastic shields GW is putting out are just exquisite.

Now I just have to keep momentum and get more on the table to drive the horn in some more Night Goblin ass.  Next up is 5 more Gor AHW.

Beasts we are lest beef we become

Over the summer I fell into obsession with old west miniature gaming, well, painting them that is as I only got to play once so far.  I had a goal to get through that involved painting 8 miniatures and completing two full gangs for Warhammer Historicals Legends of the Old West–gangs that I have been ‘working’ on since 2005.  Over the Xmas break, I was able to finish all but two, and knocked the remainder out over the worst weeks of January.

Rock lobber, doom diver with a bunch of goblin meat between

Now after my first play of Warhammer 8th edition, I took a long view over my painting table and backlog in order to get to 2000 points painted.  50 beastmen, 1 chariot, a chaos spawn, a hound of scathatch, a giant and 5 harpies.  59 miniatures all told, with two of those being big models that will take weeks to complete. At my rate– about 5 miniatures per year that will take me until my kids are deep into high school.    The bottom line is, I’ve never tried to paint an entire army before– sure Necromunda gangs, blood bowl teams, etc. but nothing equaling over 100 models– it seems totally insane.  So to keep it reasonable, but to have a goal, I’m going to try to paint 10 miniatures per month, not including the big shit–the Giant will take me more than a month probably.  At that rate I should be able to spend a few hours here and there on week nights and then one big chunk of time on either weekend day.

The motivational part is that my 1000 points painted hit the table this weekend, and though it was  chaotic game where we absolutely did not get the rules right, my stuff just looked totally awesome on the table,  even painted as mediocre as it is.  Of course, the game itself was just great fun, 4 hours went by in a snap (and I stood for the whole game, forgetting to get a chair!).

Yes that's the tower from Dark Tower

The game was against Night Goblins, with their whirling fanatics, a doom diver and a stone thrower.  All three did horrific damage during the initial turns of the game, but not enough to save the hapless goblins once the beastmen closed in for the kill.  The beastmen themselves aren’t that great, just tough, but when you take into account that most of the time they can reroll misses on any round of combat with a slight chance of Frenzy happening, they get a ton of hits in combat with the potential, however slight, of just going totally fucking apeshit.  Though the beasts smashed most of the Goblin army it was actually a very close run thing and a lot of luck in the pinch.

What I loved was the huge combats– just too fun, but also the insane terrain on the board.  We randomly rolled and just about every roll had some crazy magical mystery terrain.  The forest on my left was a fungus forest that caused Stupidity in my army, but helped the goblins!  In the center was some sort of Necrosphinx who granted wishes or ate characters who tried to solve her riddle, and on the right flank was a Tower of Blood overlooking a dismal fen.  The tower of blood shot the dicepools into the stratosphere– causing units within 6″ to have Frenzy (double attacks) and Hatred (Reroll misses).  Never in my wargaming career have I rolled so many dice.

Giant

This is on the painting list TBD circa 2015

I’ve got a medium-size collection of gaming books, old D&D, some of the older White Wolf stuff dealing with the effete, paederast blood-suckers, loads of the obligatory Warhammer Fantasy/Battle/40K books, almost everything published for Exalted (of course) and quit a few random books here and there bunged from musty used bookstores I couldn’t pass up at the time.  Many of these books are impressive in their binding and artwork and design, some are pretty hefty collections of paper, especially the 2nd Edition Exalted books– however, nothing could have prepared me for the sheer size and gleaming glory of the Warhammer 8th edition hardcover.  I’d even seen it and handled it in stores before, but you forget you see, you forget just how huge it is.  Clocking in at over 500 pages literally packed with full-color images throughout–it can easily be deemed the Armageddon of miniature war-game books.  I contrast it to my first miniature wargame rule set from the late 70’s: Swords and Spells and it’s staggering reminder of how far we’ve come in the hobby– that a company that sells toy soldiers and some books to a tiny portion of the planet’s population could pull together the cash to write, design and publish something so massive it cannot even be used as crapper reading without a crapper reading stand– it’s just that friggin’  huge.

And so officially begins my descent yet another miniature gaming obsession that will produce probably less than 20 painted miniatures and 2-3 actual games in the next year.  Sad but probably true.