Monday, April 29, 2013


The armies muster for battle...
Our Friday night Dark Hersey game was suspended due to low player turn out, so those of us that were left sought out a game that we could play that was quick, easy and fast! Glancing up on the shelf, I noticed Battlemasters, the old MB/GW game, and very soon the night would quickly become entertaining! For a more accurate accounting of what Battlemasters was, check out the wiki entry on it.

Once upon a time Games Workshop actually made an effort to focus on the games aspect of their name as well as the workshop aspect and focused on developing new games all the time, Their stores and mail order even provided a small, yet diverse selection of games for casual board gamers to tip their toe into realms of GW. Over the years this has waned tremendously so, with their main focus being Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40.000 and their tertiary support pretty much devoted too Lord of the Rings support (with a mystery box tossed onto the market every two years). But I digress. It seems some time in the late Ansel period of GW, they had a partnership with MB (Milton Bradly, maker of many games for kids of all ages) to produce and distribute games that were for the most part gateway drugs to the highly addictive plastic (and lead or pewter) crack that is WHRB and WH40K). For many people in the late '80 and early '90s these games were often the introduction to wargaming and the GW cosmologies. These games were Heroquest, Space Crusade and finally the big blow out of Battlemasters. They were decently priced (by board game standards) and easy to find. The ability to get your parents to find a copy of Heroquest at the local Toys R Us as opposed to sending them to a complicated and potentially awkward gaming store was something of a win. Why GW doesn't do something like this now still eludes me....! The above scenario is how by brother ended up with Space Crusade, Heroquest and Battlemasters for either Christmas or a birthday over the course of a few years.

Sally forth! The empire knights storm across the field!

Battlemasters is a massive set! Just huge! To date, GW has yet so make a boxed set with this many figures in it! Scoring one of these sets today would give you an instant Empire army, and a damn fine start on Orcs & Goblins and Chaos.

The game itself is quick to learn, easy to play, yet still reliant upon the player having a sense of strategy and a lucky instinct.

The calvary units clash!
 There were five of us, and we broke up into 2 teams of two while I took it upon myself to GM the game, and act as a rules ref and the card flipper. Let me explain what that means: All actions are determined by a deck of cards that lists which stands can take a turn. A turn is a move and/or and attack. Some cards might allow for additional actions (x2 movement for Gobo Wolfriders for example). It is a shockingly elegant system which eliminates a lot of the time spent on trying to move units in a certain time while also forcing the player to try to leave other models a clear path to get them where you want them to go.

There are two really wonky units: the Great Cannon and the Ogre. Each has a unique system for performing actions. The cannon is used by placing a target circle on the unit you wish to destroy, and you then shuffle additional cannon ball cards and lay them down between the cannon and the target. You flip them over an apply the effects to which ever unit ends up under an explosion or bouncing cannon ball.

BOOM! A unit of wolfriders is blasted to little green and fuzzy bits
The ogre has a really crazy deck of cards of his own, which determines what he does. You get as many cards as he has wounds, which allows him to launch into the field and hopefully pound your foes to death!
The Ogre and Knights fight to the death!

 I haven't played this game in about 17 years, and we had a blast! It also helped that I now have a table big enough to play it on, as before we had to play on the floor and some models are damaged from those days. We had the whole game wrapped up in just a few hours, and I am sure now that everyone knows how to play it we will get more games in down the road.

I hope you enjoyed!


Saturday, April 20, 2013

My solution to my Space Wolf biker dilema...and a rant about Blood Claws

"Let's not shoot them and just charge!"
"Ok!!! ...You know this means you'll strike last with that power fist right?"
"Shhh! I'm preparing to deliver a devastating charge..."

"But all I need to do is squeeze the trigger!"

Back in the early days of Warhammer 40,000 4th edition, when the 3rd edition Codex: Space Wolves was still semi-current, I began to put together a squad of Blood Claw Bikers (now called, cutely enough, 'Swiftclaw Bikers'). Years later, I looked at finishing them up with the 5th edition Codex:Space Marines list, and looking over it I quickly found (and wasn't surprised to find) that the weapon options I had planned out originally were no longer valid. This caused me to scrutinize the rules, and like the regular Blood Claws, I found the points vs. payoff were very much not jiving well with me.

Disarmament treaties really suck

Let me elucidate: The Blood Claws/Swift Claws suffer from a reduced WS & BS with totally supported background to justify this. They also have the Berserk Charge special rule which I feel is quite a good asset and trade off for the stat penalty, and Headstrong which reinforces their commitment to being crazy, forcing them to charge into an assault if within 6" of a foe.

Between this codex and the previous one, the Blood Claws base cost went up a point however the Head Strong special rule was blessed with this additional caveat: if within 6" of an enemy model and not accompanied by a character model, the Blood Claws/Swift Claws are so worked up that they cannot take the time to aim their pistols. "They're too carried away" with frothing, raging and just going berserk-crazy to point the gun -pistol- in their hand in the direction that they are about to charge. Reading it as is, it sorta makes sense. Sorta. But then after they do charge they count this unaimable pistol as an extra Attack in melee which is now used in conjunction with their close combat weapon! This really is weird when you consider orks who have Furious Charge that somehow can wander up to a unit, shoot it twice with a shoota, then charge in -furiously- and even get a point increase to their strength! And they didn't have to 'prepare', 'work it up' or get 'carried away' to achieve this benefit!

And since I'm ranting I have to throw this in: Blood Claws get similar weapon upgrades with their previous Codex entry, however some significant changes have been made. Now, if I take the maximum Squad size of 15, I can get a free Special Weapon in addition to the one I might have already bought! Two melta guns for the price of one! Nice! But that isn't the issue. Actually, looking at it now, two free flamers in 6th edition is sort of appealing...but only as a counter-charge strategy with Overwatch! The template of the gun isn't long enough to use it effectively as it is about 6" long, and, well, the Blood Claw holding it is just too "carried away" to actually use this weapon! Unless someone declares a charge at him! LOL, But despite that weird scenario, it's in the close combat weapon choices that irks me...

Pictured here is the Blood Claw unit built using the 2nd edition Codex. Yes kids, they ALL have power gloves! They weren't quite as awesome back then, but still awesome enough to model up the unit. They are still some of my favorite paint jobs, and I just still don't have the heart to rip those arms off and modernize them for the current rules, so they get reassigned to other units in need of a good power fist model.

With the 3rd edition book Blood Claws used to be able to take up to 3 power fists (12pts each) or power weapons (8pts each) and I used this option often and effectively. After all, this is a unit made for assaulting and close combat and they were good at it! So, I sense the designers of the current book wanted to nerf or punish this unit, and they did so by limiting the unit to one of these choices and upping the cost. The one power fist now costs 24pts! And in the new rules set, they are more difficult to keep alive than in the edition (5th) that this book was written for.

I hope I have made a strong case as to why I simply don't use them any more. Grey Hunters, for the same cost, just make far more sense, have a good stat line, and are simply more tactically versatile. Comparing the Swiftclaws to the Blood Claws they seem to have the same hang-ups really. There are some weapon choices on my models that I will need to change but this isn't that big a deal. But for their cost, I just didn't see how their usefulness would justify the time I was going to spend working on them. If you follow this blog you might have learned that I just am not as quick as I used to be with painting, so to dedicate my time to work on a unit I would either rarely take or never take would be silly, but I really like these models! I want to paint them! And I have wanted to build the Attack Bike since I bought it.

 Then it struck me out of the blue the other day: Wolfguard! I can take all my bikers as a separate Wolf Guard unit! Furthermore, 33pts is the base cost to do this vs. 25pts base cost of a Swiftclaw with reduced BS &WS and I get an extra point of A and LD and without wonky special rules! And the weapon options suddenly get into the realm of solid dairy products: Power Weapons for 10pts, Power Fists for 20pts, Frost Blades for 25pts, etc. and we're talking EACH here! Yeah, they get expensive quick, and I can't take an Attack Bike with this option (waagh), but my goodness! Time to go hunt me some Nob bikers! LOL! I am pretty much sold on this and will probably (re)start work on them this week.

Stay tuned, meanwhile if you have any thoughts or comments I would like to see them!

The original pic I took for the intro, but it was even sillier when I realized he doesn't have a gun....

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The rise of Waaagh Bink!

When billboards attack!
 The title says it all, but I'm sure it raises lots of questions as well! My old pal, the wild Bink, has quite a huge collection of Orks. Most of them are circa the late '90s and represent a good mix of 2nd and 3rd edition era models. He even has an Armorcast Gargant. None of his stuff painted with exception to few odd models here and there, but at least they were in a mostly playable state. Well he hasn't played in years and with his wife out of town for the weekend I was able to convince him to play at Hobbytown this past Saturday. We spent the afternoon working up lists on armybuilder, gathered up a fraction of his collection, and proceeded on down to HT in Johnson City for his first 6th edition scrap.

The Ultramarines deploy.
I brought the Ultramarines for their 3rd game, but mostly because the list I had didn't have any of the weird cheese that might shock a new player in it. Well, except the Legion of the Damned, but they aren't so much cheese as just weird.

I had 3 Tactical Squads (10 troop each), 4 man Terminator Squad, A Librarian in Terminator armor, Legion of the Damned, Land Raider, and a Whirlwind for 1500pts :

He had all of the above! 2 Bigmeks (The army warlord was escorting 2 deff dreds with his kustom force field, while the other took a shokk attack gun and hung out with the big gun battery). A squad of Nob bikers with a painboy, a 30-ork squad of choppa boys, and 30-ork squad of 'Ard boys. And the big guns were all kannons by the way.

Since this was a training game, I wanted us both to have fun. Understand that although he hasn't played in years, Bink is a shrewd tactician, so there was no "going light" taking place, but rather try to show him as many scenarios as I could for his orks to get involved with. Most of what follows will be highlights:

Turn one. The Orks run to and claim the 1st objective!

Both sides advance...
The Landraider and Whirlwind begin to whittledown the Ard Boyz.
The Bink went 1st and he blasted a few marines away with his big gunz and assorted shooting. My 1st turn was lame, with very few causalties claimed.

This was a 10-man squad but after a resounding hit by a Shokk attack gun, etc, this squad was reduced to just three guys!

The Deff Dreds approach!
Around turn 3, The whirlwind scores a direct hit on Big Mek, giving him a wound and blowing up one of the Deff Dreds! I thought it was definately the radest thing I've seen a whirlwind do in quite a while!

And from the mists, the Legion of the Damned appear!
The Legion of the Damned appear and start killing orks. Not many, but some!  Note that his is the very first time I have EVER used these guys in any edition despite the fact that I finished working on the unit way back in 1999!

Eventually my Terminators arrived and to have the shot up squad on the far left, and drive back the slugga bloys, only the Librarian gave himself a wound thanks to a Perils of the Warp result on double 1's. The nob bikers (only one of which did I manage to kill) came careening around the field to finish off the remaining member of tactical squad.

Can you spot the painted Legionnaires amongst all that metal?
The Legion of the damned were jumped on by the 'Ard Boyz who tore the mysterious marines up, but the one marine remained to tie up the orks, and keep them off of that objective!

"Super run away!"

The Terminators and Librarian shoot at the slugga boyz. With concentrated fire and a reduction of their numbers, the slugga boyz made a run for it! Almost off of the board!

Saved by the boys in blue!
Leaping from the Landraider, the tactical squad rushed into the melee with the 'Ard boyz and the last Legionnaire. They win the combat, forcing a route by the orks who are cut down! They consolidate toward the objective...but would it be close enough?

The deff dread takes taunts the survivors on the roof...

The game ended, and, with all his troops choices in route, or dead I thought I might just...oh. I forgot that that BigMek allowed the Deff Dreds to be taken as a troops choice, and he was just within the 3 inches of the objective! The Orks WIN!!!

Orks: Objective: 5pts total: 3pts, 1st blood, and Line Breaker.
Utlramarines: 0pts

We had a blast, with Bink getting a good grasp of the 6th edition rules, I think he's hungry for more! A few more training games he'll be able to take down cheesy crap like Blood Angels! He was damn near surgical with the shokk attakk gun and the kannons! I have never used 'Ard Boyz before, and Bink showed me the error of my ways!

Meanwhile, on the other tables:

Murl and Screech in a fight between chaos and Space Wolves. Both claim that is was close game and very fun! Glad to hear. I forget who who though...

Screech, walls of dice won't save your rhinos!

This looks like a nasty skirmish.....

 Da Masta Cheef, Hiveangel and a new guy.

Hive Angel's Blood Angels (some of whom now have heads, which is a paradigm shift that I am having a hard time adjusting too...) vs, an allied force of Tau and Eldar.

The "hide everything" deployment method.

 Maybe some one else can fill in what's going on here....

 ...and here...

Proxy Mephiston lacks the vampire mullet...:(
 I took this one when I heard the rage and gnashing of teeth coming from Da Masta Cheef's dying eldar. I guess it was bad enough getting slaughtered by Mephiston, but a proxy Mephiston was just too much to handle!

I think the Blood Angels won...

EDIT: Read the full report here: blood-angels-vs-allied-xenos-battle.

Monday, April 08, 2013

"I am the Law!"

"No, I am the law!"
"I am the law too!"
"Yeah, well, I have a cyber mastiff, and that makes me the law and than some!"
"...But I'm the guy with the bigger gun."

Or something like that as my players got into their roles as Adeptus Arbites, Imperial Judges of Task Force Gamma.

If you recall back at the end of summer I did a review of Dredd and compared the Judges found in the world of Judge Dredd to the Arbites of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. I believe I stated that I really wanted to run an all Judge campaign for Dark Heresy. This past Friday I got my wish!

"I said: "Hotshot" "
My group hasn't played since last summer, and numerous personal events kept occurring that prevented us from picking that game back up. Leaving everything in a 'cliff hanger' state, I decided to run my Judge game, and have it pick up in the aftermath of the previous campaign, not revealing to the players the fates of their previous characters.

Accept one.

In the previous game, the players were running two teams and things were sort of crossing over and intermixing as both teams were working simultaneously to achieve multiple ends and stumbling over similar clues and tangents. In one of the last games, I had Da Masta Cheef's character, Boris, sent to join another character that was sort of removed from the main action to assist with whatever was going on. I decided that this new team of Judges, Task Force Gamma, would be investigating why Boris never showed up.

I just finished and sent out the mission brief, so for your amusement I shall share it with you. Sadly, I can't give you much insight with what's really going on as it would tip off my players (the few that bother to read my blog), and most of them only have a clue at best! LOL

(It was this or show you more progress shots of have half-finished Grey Hunters...)

Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice,

Mission Statement: You have been assigned to special Inquisition sponsored task force. Your skills and attributes have been found exemplary in your previous roles, and together you are the unit we need to assist in finding and retrieving Boris Sevastopol, a missing agent of the Holy Inquisition. You are to assess his last known location and from there track down his whereabouts, and retrieve him. Early indications point towards an abduction scenario, but this is a theory at best. Find the facts. Find Boris. Bring Boris back.   


Team Composition: Zurio Lug, Metalus Zek, Pontius, Bones Gunner, Taron Drake, and another member who will join later.


Note 1: You are mostly likely going to descend into areas of the city where Arbite presence is scare or totally non-existent. You are the law. But to enforce every infraction you see would take a life-time. You must stay focused on your task and achieve success in your mission.

Note 2: You have been provided with a special Inquisitional Rosette that will allow you to by-pass most systems, and deputize you to carry out your orders. You have also been assigned a pack with additional gear: A combat shot gun, 3 clips of ammo, Magnagles, Carapace Helm, and Arbite Riot armor. Use these at your discretion. Remember that resupplying you will be difficult. Also you have a week’s worth of water and rations.  

Note 3: Keep a log of your progress, clue gathering, and who made what decision so that all note-worthy events can be properly vetted upon post-mission examination.

Note 4: Regardless of what has transpired with Boris Sevastopol he must be brought back alive. If he is involved with sinister or heretical forces, your assigned Inquisitor would like to personally pass judgment: you are not to make a termination of the subject unless the situation can be resolved in no other way.

Note 5: The chain of command of your superiors is as follows: Col. Gentleman, Interrogator Errasmus and Inquisitor Svech.
And now the mission notes, in case you're curious...

Game one Notes:

  • Task Force Gamma’s 1st mission takes them to the abandoned lander where the lander black box has been retrieved. The pilot has been violently slain and is in a state of rapid decomposition.
  • A sniper kills the pilot to Gamma’s lander and it is lost. The sniper wounds a squad member. The sniper is still at large
  • Navigating through the abandoned retail complex of Freddicus Mejiers Mexiplex Location XXV, Gamma follows a trail of dead gangers gathering clues that lead them to the Sommer Wells Hab Level 33.
  • In Sommer Wells Hab Level 33 a precinct is found with a lone Enforcer who is unkempt and a touch mad. Sgt. Rathers is his name, and he tells Gamma on the fate of his unit. He tells of the times of trouble,the coming of the flys and how they coincided with the arrival of “the one who promises to bring salvation.” He provides info on how to proceed to the next sublevel, as well as where to get medicae treatment.
  • Sgt Rathers has a container that contains a contagious object that burst out of one of his men’s navel. No one from Gamma wanted to see what was in it.
  • Sgt Rathers provided some Inferno shells (12) to the group if they would send word that he desperately needs assistance at his precinct.
  • Sgt Rathers IDs Borris Sevastopol as this salvation figure, and points to a 3-story work in progress mural of Boris. The mural has the words “The Grounds Keeper of the Garden of Salvation” on a scroll at the bottom of the piece.
  • The medicae provides healing assistance to Zurio and Bones*.
*Bones injured his leg leaping from the crashng lander, and Zurio was shot by a sniper.

It was a lot tension having these guys worm their way through an abandoned store bloc, gathering clues and follwing the bread crumbs. It was even more fun getting to role play the Sgt Rathers NPC who was pretty much mad as a hatter and paranoid. Also, I got to assign this team to Col. Gentleman who a previous player, that moved away, based (loosely) off of the character with the same name from the Venture Brother's Cartoon, but played more like SNL Sean Connery on the Jeopardy skits. But I totally envision the character in the cartoon, but suited up as an Arbite. I could go on, but let's just say that Colonel Gentleman in my campaign was a riot!

"With Mind-bullets!" Our Psy player will join us in a future game.
So after the game, with half the group gone, I put in the Dredd bluray for additional inspiration and we stayed up late getting idea for next time. I like the dystopic and quasi-anarchy state of the lower and underhive, and the amped up level of paranoia and danger that these Judges are going to have to endure. I wanted to point out that Judge Anderson and Judge Dredd being trapped in Peachtrees isn't going to be too different from where these guys are going, only that this team is going down deeper and will be experiencing more hardships and challenges and with little chance of back up or extraction... it's going to be blast!