Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Return to 9th Age

This week saw another trial of the 9th Age rules, which is the fan set of rules created after GW killed of 8th edition.  It was a return match against Andy and his Empire, with me opting to again use my Dark Elves.
This time I decided to field a full MSU force, with no unit being bigger that 10 models. Andy had changed his force slightly, opting to drop the second unit of knights for two units of Pistoliers, and replacing the Greatswords with a big unit of Halberdiers. This left him able to field four characters, with 2 in his main unit of knights and 2 in his big units of halberdiers. 
I had a total of 15 small units, and was hoping to do some movement and manoeuver nonsense, but alas it didn't quite work out that way.
Deployment was fairly standard, with the majority of my units occupying the centre , with my Bolt Throwers on my left ready to deal with the Empire Knights, and the Cold Ones on my Right in a position to tackle the Demygryph Riders. 

Dark Elf deployment

Empire Deployment
I had a couple of new units that I wanted to try out this game, including the Warlocks, Executioners, Sisters of Slaughter and a chariot. Andy got the first turn and romped his army down my throat, with both units of Pistoliers getting within shooting distance of my troops.  In his opening shooting phase things got pretty bad for the dark elves, as the cannon managed to one shot a bolt thrower, and the mortar landed a direct hit on the Executioners, killing 6 and causing the rest to panic.  they never rallied and promptly fled from the table in my first turn. In addition to this the Pistoliers killed 4 out of the 5 warlocks. This left me with the no left flank, and I hadn't even rolled a dice yet!
Seeing the way this was going in my turn I advanced as much as I could in the centre, my left had nothing left to move and my Cold One Knights advanced while staring down the Demigryph Knights. The harpies advanced, trying to get into the Empire back line and try to deal with annoyingly accurate artillery. My shooting was fairly average, and I managed to deal with the Pistoliers on the right flank, strip a few ranks from a unit of spearmen and that was about it.  My bolt thrower failed to do any damage to the knights though, making a bad situation even worse.  my Corsairs with Hand Bows advanced and shot at the Pistoliers on my left flank, inflicting 2 kills.
Empire turn 2, and the knights charge my badly out of position Warlocks, catching when they turned to flee. One unit is spearmen charged a unit of Witch Elves and the Demigryph Knights sat on the hill, quite content to wait for the Cold One Knights to make the first move.  the empire war wagon (I forget its name) charged the Harpies, who fled but were caught and wiped out. The Empire shooting proved decisive again, with the cannon taking out the other bolt thrower and the Pistoliers killing 5 of the Dread Elf Corsairs.  Andy at this point felt the need to apologise for the way the game was going.
The witch Elves managed to fight the spearmen in the centre to a draw, mainly thanks to some impressive armour saves on his part.

Dark Elf turn 2, and things were getting desperate. In an effort to inflict some casualties and salvage my game I charged the second unit of Witch Elves into the Halberdiers, and moved the Sisters of Slaughter round ready to receive the charge from the incoming Knights.  My shooting was again fairly average, with some casualties inflicted on various empire units, but not enough to make any big difference.  Andy finally had some average luck and I managed to break and run down the first units of Spears, while my second unit of Witch Elves inflicted eleven casualties on the Halberdiers, before being wiped out. My remaining Corsairs opened fire at the Pistoliers again, inflicting 4 wound, and Andy duly saved every single one on them even though he was needing 5's or 6's.
Empire turn 3 saw the knights charge into the Sisters of Slaughter, and the spearmen on my right flank catch the chariot off guard and managing to charge it.  In the shooting there were not many targets, with Pistoliers killing all but one of the Corsairs, before the super accurate laser guided cannon took the head of the last one with a precision shot.  Luckily the mortar misfired this time.
In the combat phase the chariot manage to see of the spearmen, running them down, while the Knights managed to beat the Sisters of Slaughter, but not by much thanks the their ward save who then held to fight another round. 
Dark Elf turn 4 and wagon, which was right in front of it, and not much else moved.  In the shooting phase the Crossbows fired at the advancing Halberdiers, trying desperately to get Andy to final at least one panic test, but with no success.  the sisters of Slaughter managed to hold of the knights of for another turn, although the Cult Priest was killed in the process.  the chariot did not manage to quite kill the war wagon, but it did rout from combat, fleeing from the field though so some small mercy.
Boxed in

things were getting even more desperate as I was rapidly running out of troops.  the Chariot charged the empire war
Empire turn 5 and there was not much movement.  The Halberdiers charged the first unit of crossbows hiding in the woods and that was about it.  The Empire Knights managed to kill off the last of the Sisters of Slaughter, while the Halberdiers wiped out the Crossbows. True to form the cannon pivoted and killed the chariot with one shot, leaving me with pretty much no troops left on the field.
Dark Elf turn 5 and there wasn't much left to do. the Cold One knights attempted a long charge ta the Demigryphs, which failed. The Dark Riders charged the empire mortar and the remaining Witch Elves charged the flank of the empire Knights.  Shooting achieved nothing and in the ensuing combat the Dark Riders failed to kill the mortar(!) and the witch elves managed to kill the last of the knights, but were then done over by the remaining characters.

Empire mopping up.

Near the end now.
We called it quits there as there really wasn't much left for me to do at this point. A clear victory for the Empire.
So second game in and not really a great test.  Andy's dice rolls were so extreme that I had pretty much lost the game in the first turn, although I still made quite a few mistakes with movement.  think I might have pulled it out of the bag but I wasn't aggressive enough. Having a unit of Cold One knights, including two hefty characters spend the game staring across the table doing nothing is probably not  a great use of points (and they were worth a lot). The executioners never got to do anything at all, but the Sisters of Slaughter were the stars, really saving my night by holding up the big knight unit for a couple of turns.
My main issues this game were the empire artillery and the empire characters. If it weren't for the presence of the double characters in the main empire combat units the combats would have gone differently and I will need to find a way to deal with characters for the next game. Perhaps give an assassin a trial. 
I think leaving the general with the cold ones was also a waste, and he would have much better used in the centre, where he could have started dealing with the empire characters.  I am also pretty rusty at the positioning of units, and lost a few of them due to not thinking ahead properly but that is something that I will relearn with time. I always used to position units by thinking one turn ahead, and have lost the habit of doing that. the cold one Knights are a classic example of this, as they did nothing all game due to my inability to work out how to get them into position to get the charge, which their lances require.  I would like to split them into two small units but I think the stupidity would then cause me problems.
As for 9th age itself there are  still a few things that bug me.  The super accurate cannons are annoying, although in this game Andy was very lucky, hitting with every shot and doing maximum damage every time, but it still seems a bit off.  The line of sight rules are very odd, with war machines able to shoot through woods, and even friendly troops with reduction in accuracy. In 8th edition you could shoot a mortar or catapult indirectly, but your chances of hitting were much reduced. Also the lack of templates is a bit sad as well, with mortars and stone throwers being pretty much digital, with either a hit or a miss. the scattering templates were much more entertaining to use due to the risks involved.  I dint bring any magic this time, as I don't thing it is worth the cost you pay, especially for elves as they suffer horribly from miscasts and I cant say that I noticed its absence much.
There are still some odd things in the Dread Elves army book as well, that I think need addressed, such as cult units losing Killer Instinct and some dodgy points values. There doesn't seem to be any particular reasoning behind this, and I would be curious to know why they did that. I imagine the answer would probably be "balance issues". 
Its still good to be playing Warhammer again, which has been my main game for a long time, even though I grumble about the rules a bit (or a lot!) and I've got to give credit to Andy for putting up with it (me) and remaining a gentlemen throughout.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Going Rogue

The club had a large scale test of the new Rogue Stars rules from Osprey.  We had 10 players in all, each one interested in giving the rules a try.
The Rogue Stars rules are from the same stable as the Song of Blade of Heroes rules, and share some similarities. As usual I found myself caught short and opted to make a force using whatever models I could quickly find.  This turned out to be the Aliens vs Predator game so I managed to quickly gather a force together consisting of 2 Predator's and a couple of Predator Hounds.  The Rogue Star rules aren't really intended to be used to create dogs, but I managed to shoehorn some dogs in by making sure they only had traits and no equipment.
My opponent had taken one of the lists form the back of the book and modified it slightly to accommodate his chosen figures correctly.  Rogue Stars is more of a toolbox for tabletop based roleplaying games, and to reflect this there are a large amount of table sin the book, one for scenario, one for location and one for any complications.   We rolled for scenario and ended up with Hostage, which looked a bit complicated for out first game. We rolled again and got Gladiatoral Combat. Even Worse. In the end we opted to just go for a simple raid, with the attackers (my Predators of course) trying to push the opposing forces off the table within an hour. We waived the hour limitation, as it was our first game.  My opponent had the luxury of deployment and occupied a couple of buildings, while I attacked from my table edge.

Rogue Stars has a simple activation system. One player is active while the other is reactive. As the active player you select a model and declare how many actions you are gong to attempt, up to a maximum of three. You then roll a D20 for each action, with a target number of 10 or above.  For each success you can the perform one action. For each of these die roles that fails your opponent gets a reaction die, which he can then use to attempt to activate one of his models, or steal the initiative, becoming the active player instead.  Every time you perform an action you receive a point of "stress". These stress points make it harder to activate your models, as each one gives you a minus to your activation roll. You can keep on attempting to activate your models indefinitely, until your opponent steals the initiative or you relinquish intuitive to your opponent.  The only way to get rid of your stress points is to end your turn, or have it stolen at which point all your stress points are removed.  It is theoretically possible to keep activating your forces for a long time, with individual models activating multiple times, but eventually you will build up so much stress you wont be able to achieve anything. 

In our game my die rolls were pretty awful and I gave away lots of reactions to my opponent while just trying to move.  After a change of die things heated up pretty quickly, with one of my dogs being psychically controlled, until the psyker was shot by a Predator. That predator was in turn killed by the big robot with the laser cannon hiding in the shed.  We managed to get the feel of the rules pretty quickly, and while there are potentially a lot of rules in the book, you will only ever need to remember the select few that apply to your squad.  In the end we ran out of time and had to halt with 2 Predators left on the table and my opponents big stompy robot.

So not a bad introduction to Rogue Stars, and the general feeling seemed to be quite positive. The rules seemed pretty easy to get the hang of, although I really struggle with games where you have to roll a die to be able to activate your troops. It is the same reason I am not too keen on Warmaster or Dragon Rampant. It can lead to some very frustrating games, as indeed this one proved to be in the early stages of the game.

There is lots of flexibility in the rules, with the author adding more traits all the time via facebook.  I see there being two strengths to these rules.  The first is the level of interaction. At no point in our game did either myself or my opponent feel disengaged from the game, or that we were just spectating while the other person took their turn. This is a good thing and keeps all parties involved.  The second strong point is the sheer flexibility of the game. The warband creation rules are very broad, with the ability to create almost anything, and use any models. the sheer variety of models on show during our test was testament to that. We had 40k Imperial Guard, 40k Necrons, Void Miniatures, AvP miniatures, and a few others I cannot remember the name of.
Psychic Apes!


Imperial Guard


Ion Age

I think the game will have some legs at the club, with already some talk of a campaign. The trick will be to use the tools in the game to create a warband of characters and then use the rules to tell an interesting story. If you want to use the rules to create the most powerful warband possible and crush your opponent then these are probably not for you, plus you wont make many friends.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Age of Sigmar

This week Ian and I gave Age of Sigmar another try. Ian has had a few more games than me so it should be an interesting learning experience.  I opted to dust off my very old Orc and Goblin army, which has not seen the table in a long time, while Ian brought his Ogres.
I took a mix of everything:

30 Orruks with Spears
30 Orruks with Bows
40 Moonfang Grots with Spears
10 Boar Riders
20 Ardboyz
4 Grot Fanatics
1 Doom Diver
2 Orruk Warbosses
1 Moonfang Warboss
Orruk Deployment

Ian brought:
6 Ogors
6 Ogors
9 Ogors
20 Grots
1 Thundertusk
1 Ogor
2 Wizards
2 Tyrants

Ogor Deployment

I don't really have any Age of Sigmar stuff, apart from the Generals Handbook so was relying on he free app on my phone for the stats. We opted for a random scenario and got "Gift from the Gods", which involved getting victory points from controlling some meteors that impacted on a random part of the battlefield on turn 2.

I deployed fairly evenly across the board, with my boar riders and archers on my right flanks, and the other Orruk unit on my left, next to the Ardboyz.  The grots held the centre. Ian deployed his army fairly centrally.  I wont the roll off for first turn and legged it up the table, trying to get to grips with the Ogors. My shooting proved ineffectual, with the Doom Diver missing and half of the Orruks being out of range thanks to their dismal 18 inch range.  In Ian's turn he got stuck in, with one unit of Ogors managing to charge my Ardboyz.  Combat in Age of Sigmar is a bit odd as you take it in turns to select  a unit to make its attacks, so the order in which you choose your units can be quite important.  To cut a long story short the Ogors made a mess of my Ardboyz, killing quite a few with not very many losses in return.  This game seems to be all about what buff you can add to units, and the Ogors seemed to get quite a few. 

How many attacks?

Tally Ho!

Turn two and I won initiative and decided to get stuck in. the Boar riders charged Ian's Grots, the second large units of Orruk Spears charged in to help the Ardboyz, as did my general. the Moonfang Grots had advanced to the centre of table and hidden in a wood, but decided now was the time for the fanatics to strike. the four of them popped out of the units and managed to charge the Thundertusk, but fluffed all their attacks, inflicting only three wounds.  On my right I kept on at the Pgor units with my Ardboyz, finding them to be a tough nut to crack.

Still at it....

Lots of useless archers...

Hiding in the woods

In Ian's turn he charged with everything he had. ON my right flank his rampaging Orruks inflicted 24(!) kills of my poor unfortunate Orruk archers. In the centre he inflicted 19(!) kills on the poor Moonfang Grots.  My army was disintegrating before my eyes!  We managed another turn but there was pretty much nothing I could do and by the time we finished I think I had about 8 models left on the board, while only inflicting minimal casualties on the Ogors.
Just before I removed a very large pile of casualties

And again!

So not a great result for the Orruks, but in interesting learning experience for me.  There are a few things I would have done differently here.  the Orruk Archers were useless, as were the Fanatics, Doomdiver and Moonfang Grots mob.  I didn't bring a wizard, although that was mainly due to the Orruk wizard being pretty poor.  I didn't really pay much attention to the various buffs and bonuses that you could perform, which left my army at a disadvantage.
Not many Orruks left now!

Mopping up the last few models...

Age of Sigmar itself had a part to play here as well, as the rules certainly favour large multiple wound models much more that horde style armies.  With larger models you are better able to bring your attacks to bear, as there is less need to try and get 30 models into weapon range. You are better able to resist damage, as you only lose any combat ability when you have lost 4 wounds, plus it takes 4 wounds to reduce your units attack total by three, whereas a horde is losing an attack per wound suffered.  The moral rules are a massive problem for hordes as well. In the game you test whenever you suffer casualties. You roll one die and add the amount of casualties you suffer. For every point this exceeds your bravery by another model runs away. When you have a bravery of 5 and just suffered 20 something casualties it is pretty obvious what the end result is gong to be!  In the end the Ogors seemed pretty indestructible to me, but that is usual when playing a new game.

I will definitely play the game again, but will be a bit more mindful of how everything fits together.  There are some very odd points values in the Generals Compendium though, and I hope they will be corrected in the hinted at annual revision coming soon.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Mordheim, Season3, Game 7

The club Mordheim campaign rumbles on, with all 6 players assembles for this months instalment. This was to be a dungeon delve, with us all trying to locate a certain piece of treasure, while trying to survive the denizens that lurked in the darkness.

Assembles were:

My Undead
Andy's Skaven
Dave's Marienburgers
Ian's dwarfs
Rory's Protectorate of Sigmar
Andy's Witch Hunters.
Protectorate of Sigmar




Witch Hunters


We each started in one of 6 rooms, and all had to fight our way to the centre, defeat the residents and then make off with as much treasure as possible hoping that one of them will be the artefact that we are looking for.

I ended up sandwiched between Andy's Witch Hunters and Rory's POS, and decided to make my way for Rory, as he is worth more xp to me.  Early game went pretty typically by this point in the campaign;

  • The Marienburgers and Witch Hunters engaged each other.
  • The Dwarves started the long slow march through the dungeon.
  • The Skaven threw out a screen of Giant Rats and ran ahead of everyone hovering up the treasure.
  • The PoS and the Undead advanced toward each other.

That pretty much set the tone for most of the game. There are now 18 Skaven , and they just put a screen of giant rats out, while using their increased movement to hoover up any treasure and avoiding any fights.  This time the Witch hunters were victorious, seeing of the Marienburgers. The Dwarfs kept marching along, although they managed to get in contact with the Skaven this time.  the undead and PoS got into a pretty good scrap, with POS giving a good account of themselves and managing to take the Vampire out of action (he really has been utterly useless this campaign!) before deciding to retreat due to casualties. the Undead followed suit right after, carrying of the Vampire and prepping the sticky tape and staple gun, ready to get him back into action.

Late game and as soon as the Skaven had the required amount of casualties they left the board. With the Undead and PoS leaving to lick their wounds, and the Marienburgers had routed early doors this left only the dwarfs and the witch hunters on the board. A stalemate ensued, with neither of the cowardly scumbags warbands willing to engage the other.  In the end they agreed to call it a draw, with no one claiming victory. Both warbands should hang their cowardly heads in shame!

In the end my undead had a terrible night, with everyone, but especially the vampire  fluffing his attacks something rotten, and gaining a chest wound for his trouble.  No permanent casualties though which was good , and one Ghoul was promoted to a hero bringing me up to the maximum 6. the campaign is approaching the end now, with only a couple of games to go, and the clear frontrunners are currently the Skaven, although they don't actually do much and have yet to win a game, which is very in character. The big question now is whether or not to buy a some armour for my weakened vampire, or to invest in a couple more ghouls. The ghouls will probably be more effective (wouldn't be hard!) but I feel I should try and keep this vampire alive having already got one killed in the campaign.
So far we have played 8 games and the win tally so far is:
Undead - 4
Dwarfs - 2
Witch Hunters - 1
 and 1 draw.
There are 3 games left, I think plus any raids that anyone wants to conduct so we are definitely on the home stretch.
Next week I am giving Age of Sigmar another bash. This time though I am using my Orcs and Goblins as I have a bigger collection of them and can make a slightly more balance force than my dark elves.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

A New Age

I have been watching the development of the "9th Age" rules set for a while, but had never really thought anything of it.  The (9th Age is basically a fan made 9th edition of Warhammer Fantasy battle. It started out as 8th edition with a few rules tweaks, but is now heading the direction of being its own rules set.
Andy, one of the club members is a big fan and has been trying to get everyone inot the game. I have resisted for a while but finally caved and we had our first game last night. 4500 points, my Dark Elves against his Empire, or whetever they are called to avoid copyright infringement.
My army consisted of:

Noble Dark Elves
Dreadlord on Cold One
Dread Prince on Cold ONe with Army banner
Oracle with lore of Alchemy.
21 Corsairs
22 Repeater Crossbows
21 Witch Elves
Cauldron of Blood
8 Cold One Knights
5 Dark Riders
5 Shades
2 Repeater Bolt Throwers
5 Harpies
Andy brought:

Smelly Humans
1 General on a big Horse
1 Warrior Priest Type
1 Her with Battle Standard.
20 Spearmen
20 Spearmen
30 Greatswords
1 Cannon
1 Mortar
1 Wizards Wagon, or something.
1 Units Inner Circle Knights
1 Unit normal Knights
12 Archers
4 Demigryph Riders
Deployment was fairly standard, with all the infantry facing off against each other, with the cold one knights and Bolt throwers on my right flank, facing off against 2 units of knights, and a unit of Demigryph Riders on my left flank facing off against the Dark Riders and eth Shades.
Andy managed to lose the roll for first turn, allowing me to open things up. I managed to inflict some casualties with shooting, killing some knights and one of the Demigyph's, but apart from that didn't achieve much. Andy's opening turn involved some very accurate artillery fire, as his cannon damaged the cauldron of blood (imagine the mess!) and the mortar landed a shot right on top of the Corsairs, but thankfully the damage was limited.
Mid game saw some more of the same, with the Dark elves trying to inflict as many casualties with shooting as they could, concentrating on the mounted part of eth Empire army. The Empire artillery continued to be pretty effective, hitting the cauldron of blood again on his second turn, destroying it and landing a mortar shot directly on the Witch Elves, killing a third of them.  Dark Elf shooting also proved ot be effective, reducing the Demigryphs to a single model and damaging the wizards wagon (sorry, forgotten its name).

Dark Elves under pressure

Lots of Knights
Mid game and the infantry in the middle finally met, with the Corsairs and Witch Elves charging the spearmen, and studiously avoiding the deathstar looking unit of Greatswords. Both units managed to inflict heavy casualties on the empire units, but unfortunately both held their ground.  The turn after saw the Greatswords go into the flank of the witch elves, reducing them to a couple of models, but not before they managed to reduce the spearmen to two only two men.  the same happened to the Corsairs, with the remaining Demigryph charging them in the flank. Casualties were high the Corsairs were broken and run down by the Demigryph, but once again managing to reduce the unit of spearmen to a couple of models.  ON the Dark Elf right flank the Dark Elf general was charged by the other unit of knight, but he managed to kill 4 of them, receiving 2 wounds in return and the combat remaining deadlocked.
The Demigryph managed to pursue into the Crossbowmen (crossbow elves?), who excelled themselves in the next turn by seriously wounding the giant chicken.  Sensing things were going badly the Dark Elves charged everything they could. the Harpies charged the Mortar, the Dark Riders charged the Cannon and the Cold One Knights charged the Inner Circle Knights, who had up to this point just sat on a hill looking menacing and not wanting to get their freshly polished armour dirty. It was a long charge but they were lucky and made it in, with the Dark Elf nobles making a big mess of the human knights, who despite the presence of the general fled of the field.  The Crossbow elves, in a feat of bravery managed to kill the remaining Demigryph Knight as well. 
By this time troops were getting pretty thin on the ground for both side, but we kept going. In the final turns of the game the Empire General fled the field, the remaining spearmen were mopped up by either magic or shooting and the empire wagon was destroyed by the Bolt Throwers.
End game saw just the large unit of Greatswords and archers left on the Empire side, with some scattered remains of various light units, the crossbows and the Cold One Knights left on the Dark Elf side. 
My first taste of 9th age was fairly enjoyable, probably due mainly to having an opponent who was great fun to game against.  9th Age itself feels pretty much like another version of WHFB, which it pretty much is.  The rules are a bit tighter, but slightly less fun, I think. A few sections have been sanitised so much that they seem quite dull. Artillery don't have templates any more. I thought that was quite an entertaining part of the game.  While there is no faulting what the designers are trying to do, I think sometimes they don't quite have the same sense of the fun that previous edition of Warhammer had.
The line of sight rules also seem a bit strange. I remember the fuss that was made when 8th came out and you could shoot through forests etc. In the 9th Age you can even shoot through your own troops, with regiments proving to be no obstacle to line of site. I find this a bit jarring and it reduces the need for clever deployment as you can just shoot through eth troops in front of you.
Magic is also a sticking point, with the expensive wizard in the Dark Elf managing a grand total of 2 spells all game, neither of which were of any real importance. In hindsight the points would have been better spent on something else, like a chariot or a Hydra.

in general I had a good game, and enjoyed it. At the end of the day it is just a version of WHFB with a few tweaks on the edges, much the same as any of the previous editions. The real sticking point with 9th, as it has always been is trying to produce 15 or so balanced army books, all with their own play style and identity, and that is where they will struggle, I think. Just like previous editions..........

Next week we are back to Mordheim for a trip into the catacombs, so my undead should feel right at home.