Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Defector - Heroes of the Aturi Cluster AAR

Once again, Raider Squadron has been tasked with a new mission.

Rebel Command: "One of the test pilots for the Empire's new space superiority fighter, the TIE Defender, is a Rebel sympathizer. She's been in contact with our operatives and wishes to defect with a stolen prototype."

Rebel Command: "The best opportunity for us to help her escape intact will be during one of her squadron's training exercises in the Parein system.

We'll jump in, make contact and provide cover while she escapes. However, she won't know we're here to cover her, and we won't know which of the prototypes is hers, until we can make visual contact."

Raider Squadron
Raider One: X-Wing
Pilot: Kevyn
Callsign: Idol

Raider Two: X-Wing
Pilot: Brian
Callsign: Starfish

Raider Three: Y-Wing
Pilot: Bob
Callsign: Screwball

Raider One: "We're heading right into the middle of a training exercise, so we'll have the element of surprise for a short period of time. All we need to do is cover the defector until she hits lightspeed and jumps back to safety. We go in fast, hit hard, and get out before the Imps realize what's happening."

Raider Three: "Hutt's balls, Idol, you weren't kidding about getting stuck in, were you?"

Raider One: "Okay, so maybe things got a little more heated than we expected. Scanning now..."

Defector: "Are you the ones who are supposed to get me out of here?"

Raider Two: "Supposed to, yeah. We've got you covered, get your hyperdrive started and get out of here."

Defender Pilot: "You're working with these rebel scum? Traitor!"

Defector: "Hyperdrive is still warming up, and I'm taking a lot of hits. What are you idiots doing out there?"

Raider One: "We're working on it, lady. Give us some slack and focus on escaping!"

Raider Three: "She's out! I repeat, she's out!"

Raider Two: "And not a moment too soon. We've got a shuttle coming in with reinforcements!"

Raider One: "Raider Squadron, retreat and go to lightspeed. Let's make sure the newest addition to the Rebellion made it back base in one piece."

Rebel Command: "Pilots, today has been a great victory over the Empire. We've captured a TIE Defender! We may be able to adapt some of this ship's advanced weapons technology."

Friday, March 25, 2016

Tread Softly - Heroes of the Aturi Cluster AAR

Raider Squadron is back after a fresh start, along with some new members!

Rebel Command: "Our efforts to undermine the Empire's operations in the Nulan system are getting noticed. Imperial forces have begun cracking down on hyperspace travel by deploying minefields along hyperspace routes favored by smugglers. 

We aren't in any danger yet, but this operation has the potential to disrupt our supply lines and restrict our future movements. 

Our best option is a pre-emptive strike - get out there and clear those mines!"

Raider Squadron
Raider Two: X-Wing
Pilot: Brian
Callsign: Starfish

Raider Three: Y-Wing
Pilot: Bob
Callsign: Screwball

Raider Four: Y-Wing
Pilot: Dan
Callsign: Stinger

Raider Two: "I've got a Dupe patrolling the minefield. Target's locked, I'm going in."

Raider Three: "Roger, Starfish. Stinger and I will work on clearing these mines."

Raider Three: "Careful, One. That Dupe's laying out mines as fast as we can take them out."

Raider Two: "Not for long, Screwball. I just need another good shot."

Raider Four: "Might need a little help over here, guys..."

Raider Three: "Getting friendly with the locals, Stinger?"

Raider Four: "Not funny, Three! Get these Eyeballs off me!"

Raider Two: "One Dupe chased off, but I've got another one behind me. Just my luck."

Raider Two: "Gotta clear these mines, or I'm going to get spaced!"

Raider Four: "Run, you Imp cowards! And don't come back!"

Raider Three: "Good shooting, Four. Mines in our area are gone. How're things holding up with you, Two?"

Raider Two: "It's getting a little crowded here, Three!"

Raider Three: "On it, Two. Get that Dupe, and leave the Eyeballs to us."

Raider Two: "And down goes the Dupe!"

Raider Four: "Woah! Eyeball's getting a little close for comfort."

Raider Three: "Get those mines cleared, Four. The Imp's not going anywhere."

Raider Four: "The mines are gone..."

Raider Three: "And say goodbye to the last Tie! The route is clean and the Imps are on the run."

Raider Two: "Alright, Raider Squadron. Engage hyperdrives and let's get back to base. Drinks are on me!"

Rebel Command: "Excellent job, pilots. Keeping those routes clear of mines will buy us the time we need to take delivery of some much needed supplies."

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wishing Well - Frostgrave AAR

One of the local stores has started a Frostgrave campaign, which Kevyn and I decided to join. Of course, on the day we went, no one else showed up, so after a game of Guild Ball against Alex and his Masons, I played a game of Frostgrave with Kevyn, with our new warbands. 

Since no one else was there, we got the chance to not only use a really cool 4'x4' board made by one of the store's employees, but we also raided the store's terrain cabinets to cover that larger playing area (a normal game of Frostgrave is played on a 3'x3' area).

We decided to play the Well of Dreams and Sorrows scenario, which has regular treasure placement, but any wizard that drinks from the well in the center of the table gains 100 extra experience points - basically, a free level.

Kevyn's warband was lead by a Thaumaturge, and included a Captain from the new Sellswords supplement.

And while I took my original roster, which I think works well, I decided to run an Elementalist instead of a Sigilist. I wanted to see how well Elemental Bolts really worked.

As it turned out, they worked really well, as Logarius the Elementalist took out Corvis the Thaumaturge in the second turn.

However, Logarius traded a large portion of his health to successfully cast the spell, and was felled by an archer's arrow in the same turn. Because of that, neither of us could drink from the well and gain the extra level.

Kevyn's Captain didn't fair well, either, being taken out by my lowly infantryman's halberd. 

My two Thugs carried off two treasure tokens, and my Treasure Hunter killed one of Kevyn's thugs and got his treasure as well. My last treasure token was secured by a crossbowman who kept hold of the treasure as the warband retreated off the table. My thief, however, didn't manage to reach his counterpart in Kevyn's warband before the enemy thief got off the table with a treasure token. Kevyn secured two others.

Of course, just before the game ended, Kevyn's archers (the MVPs of the game, really) turned my apprentice into a pin cushion and killed him.

In the after-game, Logarius lost his staff but survived; his apprentice, however, died. However, the treasure tokens turned out to be 580 gold coins, a Potion of Healing, and a Potion of Teleportation. After establishing his base at one of the many Inns popping up around the frozen city, Logarius had a Kennel built, and then hired a new apprentice, a Knight, and another Thug, bringing the warband up to twelve members - hopefully a numerical advantage against any other warbands that might be encountered in the future.

In addition, Logarius increased his health by 1 and made both Fleet Feet and Elemental Bolt easier to cast by 1.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Painting Update - Kings of War

This week's update brings us back to Kings of War, with the second of three large infantry blocks.

This time it's four bases of halberdiers. Since they're multi-based on the smallest sized elements, these can be used as four Troops, two Regiments, or one massive Horde.

And because of the way I based these units, they're multi-purpose between the Kingdoms of Men and League of Rhordia lists.

In the Kingdoms of Men list, the previously shown swordsmen and the halberdiers can be used as Shield Wall units and Polearm Block units, respectively. Alternatively, both units could be used as Foot Guard, with the halberdiers giving up a point of defense for Crushing Strength (1).

In the League of Rhordia, these bases can be mixed together to represent Citizen Militia units - cheap, low-defense troops with Crushing Strength (1).

With the halberdiers done, I'm moving on to the last big group of infantry. From there, I can work on some of the more interesting parts of the project, like the warmachines, heroes, or the big Steam Tank that I've converted for use as a Beast of War or Iron Beast.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Lord and Lands - Rules Review

As recent activity on this blog can attest, I've been pretty busying with painting miniatures for and playing games of Kings of War. It's a creative and hobby outlet for a desire I've had for a long time - to play mass fantasy battle games. 

Skirmish and Warband sized games are all well and good, but I've always wanted to fight the epic battles described in fantasy novels, with lines of infantry and cavalry of various fantastic races clashing alongside big monsters. 

Almost a decade ago, I dabbled in Warhammer Fantasy Battles, back when 8th Edition was first released. But even then, Games Workshop's prices and rules weren't very attractive, and so my brief dalliance quickly came to an end. 

Seven years passed before I would try a mass fantasy battle ruleset again, and that was the previous version of Kings of War, in the form of the Battle of the Sta Lat Hills battle report I posted last year. Here, I thought, was a ruleset I could get behind. Fast playing, easy to pick up with apparently plenty of tactics, no individual model removal - everything I could want.

Or so I thought. But after a dozen or so games of the newest version of Kings of War, I seem to be stagnating. It may be because I chose a faction that isn't very fantasy-esque, and so loses in an arms race against the other factions that can field bigger and better units. It may be that I chose to use Games Workshop models for the majority of the army. In my defense, however, they were on sale! But for some reason, I find myself becoming less and less enthusiastic about playing Kings of War, and I'm not about to drop another $200-$300 for a new full sized army. I began to look for potential alternative, like Pendraken's new game, Warband.

And then, about a month ago, I listened to Episode 164 of the Meeples & Miniatures podcast and was introduced to the Lord & Lands ruleset, produced by Craig Armstrong. 

After listening to the episode, I decided to buy the PDF of the Fantasy and Historical versions of the rules directly from Craig for a little less than $12. By the way, if you haven't figured out by now, this is a review of the Fantasy rules.

So, what's in the PDF?

The 60 or so pages are split evenly between the rules and the background for the world of Mikronos, from which Lord and Lands borrows its factions and models. All of these are available from Microworld Games.

I decided to make a physical "gamer's edition" copy of the rules for myself by cutting out the background. Not that you should skip over the fluff, however - Craig has done a great job of fleshing out Mikronos, with histories and conflicts ranging over the various continents.

The factions currently available in the official army list document are:
  • The Army of Rexunus - standard medieval fantasy humans
  • Wildland Alliance -  were-elephants, rhino-men, and simians
  • Dwarves
  • Orcs & Goblins
  • Woodlands - wood elves and their allies
  • Undead
  • Beastkin - the more savage and evil opposite of the Wildland Alliance
  • Vikings - with giants!
  • Dread Elves - evil elves
  • Lizardmen
  • The Firmament Army - molemen and stonemen
  • The Dark Alliance - evil humans
  • Hobgoblins
  • Demons
Fourteen factions to start is a pretty nice, and there's even a points calculation system if you want to try adding in your own races. In addition, the Fantasy and Historical versions are compatible, so if you've ever wanted to see what might happen if Rome was invaded by Orcs instead of Goths, here's your chance. 

So, apart from the factions, what else makes this game intriguing?

First is the use of commands pips (player initiative points). Each player rolls a number of dice depending on the size of their army, adding in one additional die for their General. This determines both initiative for the turn, and how many actions each player can take. 

PIPs can be spent for a number of actions - moving, increasing movement distances, improving combat abilities, casting spells, etc. Since unit activations alternate between players, one has to know when to spend PIPs and when to conserve them for later. You may decide to move your troops all over the table, only to realize that, with no PIPs left, the enemy has the ability to outfight you in every battle.

I find that these kinds of mechanics - those that generate "friction" when commanding troops - are important for mass battle games. In Kings of War, units do exactly want you want them to do, with no chance of messing up or potentially being left behind. 

Another interesting mechanic is the "dips combat system." There's no dice rolling for combat in Lord and Lands! Well, there is if you want it, but what's the fun in that? Instead, players "dip" their hands into a bag full of tokens. You want to have equal amounts of two different colors - one to indicate success, and the other failure. Tokens are replaced after each player's "dip" so there's no chance of diminishing chances. If you want to, the same mechanics can be recreated by rolling dice and counting each result of a 4+ as a success. 

As for potential problems, there are formatting and spelling errors. There are frequent enough that a rewrite might be necessary, but the game is playable from the current rules.

Additionally, a readthrough reveals some odd sections here and there. For example, units can move in groups of up to four bases, but the rules don't cover how units can enter and exit these groups. I assume that units can move out of groups freely, and can join together by having the sides of their bases touch at some point during their movement.

The army lists are a little messy as well, but on a whim I decided to go through them and do a little cleaning for my own usage. 

I'm hoping to get a test game done soon, with some notecard cutouts. In the mean time, why not visit the resource page, or check out Craig's Youtube channel to watch some demonstrations of the game's mechanics.