Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Painting Update - All Quiet on the Martian Front

I've been working on a few projects lately, which hopefully I'll get a chance to share soon. For right now, I'd like to show my progress with the All Quiet starter set.

The American infantry units have been based and spackled (using DryDex, which is what I use whenever I need to fill in a base with miniatures that have integral bases.) I just need to clean up the edges. 

I'm planning on creating a fictional unit in the All Quiet universe, based on the real life "Jersey Blues" from the American War of Independence. This will give me the chance to do something a little different from the usual brown-and-green miniatures you see for the American forces in All Quiet. The infantry will be painted blue, tan and khaki, and the tanks painted blue. 

Speaking of tanks, I had to do a little cosmetic work on the American tanks before priming them. Since the tanks run on powerful steam engines (made possible by reverse-engineering Martian technology) they have these big rectangular coal hoppers on the back that are empty. I decided to fill them in with beach sand and some watered down white glue. Hopefully, once the painting is finished, these particles will resemble coal. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

NJCON 2015 - Loot

It wouldn't be a convention without a vendor hall, and NJCON actually had two. The first was a bring-and-buy room, where one could bring some items to sell, pass it along to the convention workers, and then see if anything had been picked up at the end of the day. I wish I had taken advantage of this, but maybe next time.

The actual vendor hall had seven shops set up, covering everything from terrain to bases, miniatures to books. Having saved up a little spending cash, I took a look around to see if there was anything I wanted. 

If you remember my All Quiet AAR, I played at On Military Matters, who ordered an All Quiet starter set for me. Since I haven't had the opportunity to get over to the store, I was able to pick up the box set at the convention. I don't plan on buying any other All Quiet miniatures, since there are other people in the area who have plenty enough for big community games, but I'll be happy to paint up the human and Martians in the starter and add them to the community resources.

From Maplewood Hobby I bought a few interesting items. The first was a steal that I was surprised no one else had bought yet. It's one of the currently out-of-print Corvus Belli DBA army sets - the Ancient British. These are absolutely stunning miniatures, with plenty of details and not a whole lot of cleaning necessary. It doesn't have any bases in the set, but those are cheap to eventually purchase. And the set, while originally produced for DBA 2.2, is still viable and offers plenty of options for the DBA 3.0 army list.

I also picked up the Blücher rulebook and the Hundred Days card set. I've heard plenty of good things about Blücher, and I'm still looking for a good Napoleonic ruleset. More importantly, I can play Blücher much like I did Kings of War - without any miniatures! The cards are fantastic, covering all the units available during the Hundred Days campaign.

I also got an award for winning the first game in the SAGA tournament - an objective marker/bases with some cool looking runes. I'll trying painting this up with some sort of glowing effect. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

NJCON 2015 - SAGA Tournament AAR

As cool as the participation games looked, the main reason I went to NJCON was the SAGA tournament. Truth be told, I was a little worried, as it had been a while since I've played any SAGA, and I wasn't sure if I was going to get my face smashed into the cloth-covered tables during each of the games.

As it turns out, this couldn't have been further from the truth. The other five players in the tournament were all incredibly nice. They were either looking to get some games of SAGA in after a long time not playing, like me, or hadn't been playing for very long. This gave the tournament a very relaxed air, as everyone was quite happy to get a few games in. 

The warbands were varied but basic, and this tournament could easily have been set during the 800s or 900s in England. There were two Viking players, and one each of Normans, Welsh, Anglo-Dane and Anglo-Saxon. 

My first game was against John and his Normans. He'd taken two units of mounted Hearthguard, two units of mounted Warriors, a unit of crossbow Warriors and a unit of archer Levy. The scenario we played was Sacred Ground, where the three terrain pieces on the table were the objectives. At the end of each opponent's turn, the player would count how many victory points he scored based on how many models he had on the terrain, and what the models were (Hearthguard being worth more than Warriors, Warriors more than Levy, etc.)

On my left, John charged a unit of Warriors across the table and into one of my Warrior units. He managed to to some damage, but in the next turn I had my Berserkers attack. I lost the unit, but the Norman Warriors were reduced down to a single model, and my own Warriors spent the rest of the game chasing after him. 

In the center, my Hearthguard and Warlord planted themselves on the hill. On the right my unit of Levy worked their way into the woods, while the smaller unit of Warriors moved in between the two pieces of terrain. 

From here on, John and I worked away at each other's Warbands. I managed to reduced several of his units down to only two or three models, but never had the ability to actually kill them off. John, meanwhile, managed to destroy both the smaller Warrior units and the big Hearthguard unit. However, as I had scored a large amount of victory points from having my Hearthguard sit on the hill, I did managed to win the scenario. 

My second game was against Cliff and his Anglo-Danes He had two units of Hearthguard (one with Dane Axes), three units of Warriors and a unit of Levy. We played using the normal terrain rules, with a hut being set down on one side of the table and woods on the other. The scenario was the Challenge, where our two Warlord started locked in combat with one another in the center of the table as our warbands came in from behind. 

On the left side I sent a unit of Warriors sneaking through the woods. Cliff countered them with his Dane Axe Hearthguard. The axes fell and the woods were awash with blood. A single Viking Warrior scrambled back out of the woods, with the Danes in hot pursuit.

On the left, a twelve-strong Dane Warrior unit slammed into my Levy, who had ineffectually shot at them. While only managing to cause a couple casualties, Cliff used the "The Push" Battleboard ability and sent a large amount of the unit off the table. I tried attacking with my Berserkers, and while they caused plenty of casualties, but couldn't get rid of the Warrior unit, and I lost my Berserkers in the attack.

In the center, my Hearthguard and Warlord clashed with Cliff's Hearthguard, Levy and Warlord. While Cliff did get his Hearthguard unit into combat with my Warlord, they didn't managed to kill him. I had led Cliff in wounds caused to our Warlords, and I attack with my Hearthguard, killing Cliff's Warlord and winning the game. 

My final game was against Tim and his Vikings. We had both won our previous two games, so the winner of this match was going to be the overall tournament winner. 

Tim's warband had two units of Hearthguard and four units of Warriors - he wasn't messing around with any Levy! We were playing Clash of Warlords, with some slightly altered rules - both warlords would be deployed first, exactly opposite of one another, L length from the table edge. Our two warlords faced off, obviously after some perceived insult or badly received joke in the nearby drinking hall. 

Tim tried to get a unit of Warriors around the left side of the table, behind the drinking hall. I ran my own small unit of Warriors into them. While my unit perished, I also managed to remove Tim's Warriors using the Viking "Loki" ability. 

On my right, the Levy did... nothing. Apparently this game they decided to take up thumb twiddling as a hobby. Guess who's scouring the bottom of the longboat for the rest of the month?

All the action took place in the center as Tim and I traded units. He ran his Berserkers across the table at my own big unit of Hearthguard, but some lucky defense dice kept most of the Hearthguard alive, and they counter-charged and killed the frenzied enemies. My own Berserkers went after Tim's Warlord, but were blocked by some Warriors and died in the melee. Tim and I wore each other's warbands down to only a few models apiece. But it was Tim who emerged victorious when he had his Warlord and few remaining Warriors attack my Warlord, cutting the rival Viking leader down. 

With that, I managed to place fourth overall. While I had won two of the three games I played, ties were decided by slaughter points (i.e., how many enemy models had been killed during the game) and most of my games had been Pyrrhic victories. I didn't walk away empty handed, however, but I'll talk more about that in another post later this week.

Most importantly, I had a great time playing SAGA and meeting some awesome players. We even managed to get some passers-by interested in the game, and at least one was seen walking out of the vendor hall with a rulebook and starter warband in hand.

Personally, this has reinvigorated my interest in SAGA, and I think I'll try pushing it a little harder in my local community. Since I own four warbands already, getting some demo games in shouldn't be that hard. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

NJCON 2015 - Saturday Games

This past weekend I headed over to New Jersey to participate in a SAGA tournament at NJCON (more on that in a later post). Having arrived there early, I decided to peruse the ongoing games in the main hall. Regrettably, I couldn't participate in any - I didn't have enough time - but I did manage to get plenty of pictures of some fantastic tables.

There were a wealth of games being played and rulesets being used, from Medieval to WWII, with some Sci-Fi mixed in for good measure. There were plenty of other games that I probably missed, like a Battletech Alpha-Strike game that was going on later that night, and of course all the games that had been played on Friday. 

Hopefully I'll get the chance to go next year, and try out of the participate games. In the mean time, enjoy some pictures!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

NJCON 2015 - Tournament Pre-Game

This weekend I'll be heading over to New Jersey to partake in the NJCON's SAGA Tournament. Each participant will need to bring a six point warband, and there'll be three rounds, each with a different standard SAGA scenario; Sacred Ground, The Challenge, and Clash of Warlords. We'll have 90 minutes to complete each round.

Apart from studying my rulebook - since I haven't played SAGA in some time - I've also had to decide what faction to take. I have six points of fully painted Vikings, Anglo-Danes, Welsh and Normans (although the Normans have some cavalry that need to be painted if I don't want to rely on foot Warriors and Levy archers). Since it's been some time since I've even looked at my SAGA miniatures, I decided to get back to the basics and go with the very first warband I owned, which came back from Ireland with me - the Vikings. Aren't they the reason why people get into Dark Ages wargaming in the first place?

My warband is going to my standard build for the Vikings. Three points of Hearthguard (with one unit of Berserkers), two points of Warriors, and a point of Levy. This allows me to mix things up a bit with the list.

Hearthguard provide a solid block of armored troops in SAGA, although the Vikings have the option for one point of Hearthguard to completely eschew armor and let the red rage take over. I generally write the Berserker Hearthguard off during a game. They tend to slam into a unit and do a bunch of damage, but quickly die at the same time. So they're a glass hammer unit, and I don't think I can count of them for any support as a game goes on.

The other two points of Hearthguard can either act as their own units or be lumped into a single unit of eight. This big unit might only produce a single SAGA die per turn, but it'll be much more difficult to remove from the table, and can be a major threat. The Viking Battleboard has a bunch of abilities to make them hit even harder, or toughen up their defenses. 

The Warriors in a Viking warband are much like the Hearthguard, except they're not as handy in a fight. There's more of them, though, so they have the chance to stick around longer than a four man Hearthguard unit. And again, the Viking Battleboard can make these units into swirling dervishes of pain.

The twelve man unit of Levy was probably the hardest choice to make. I could have replaced them with another unit of Hearthguard or Warriors, but I decided to take the Levy instead. Apparently they're necessary if you're facing Jomsvikings (and while I'm not sure I will be, better safe than sorry), and you can always split a single unit into two units of six if you just want them to sit in a spot and act as a roadblock. Unfortunately, the Viking Battleboard doesn't do much for their Levy, but who wants to waste valuable SAGA dice on a bunch of slaves?

I'm not exactly expecting a stellar performance - from previous experience I'm rubbish in tournament games - but at least I'll get a few games of SAGA in, and get a chance to check out NJCON as well. Wish me luck!