Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Weekly club report, fourth week of June

If a picture is worth a thousand words, here you go.

For the record, that would be my librarian HQ being attacked by fifteen termagaunts, one from a regular troop unit and the rest spawned by a monstrous creature (lurking at the top up there).  The Tyranids' ally, the Tau, are ready to hose him with blasters should he somehow manage to kill all of them.

This was after the first turn, where upon going first I tried to have the librarian cast Warp Gate (or whatever it is), roll two ones on the Psychic Test, take a wound, and then roll doubles on the scatter and kill a member of his accompanying unit. Then in the shooting phase my plasma cannon-wielding marine lit himself on fire with his weapon, meaning I've given myself three wounds before my opponents have even gone.

The one good part?  On the previous game that evening, also against the Tyranid opponent, my librarian rammed his Force Weapon into one of his monstrous creature's necks and flicked on the juice.  First time the guy had seen a librarian in action, and he wasn't pleased.  Thus in game two, he swamped the librarian and his unit with 'gaunts.  

To his credit, the librarian actually held out three turns before succumbing to the onslaught.  He scythed his way through a good dozen of them, though.  He might get fully painted soon as a result.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Bitz Bonanza!

One of the things that happened immediately after I started playing 40K again was that people began offering to sell me miniatures second hand.  I think this is because I chose to play vanilla space marines, and that tends to be the first army a lot of people play, then get tired of.  Heck, half the marines I have were from when I first started, then got tired of, and am now going back to.
I'm demurred in most of these cases, but a close friend wanted to unload most of his Space Marine stuff, and some Chaos Space Marine stuff as well, and I succumbed to temptation.  It was quite a lump of money, but I think I made out pretty well.  Here's what I got that I wanted:

  • The limited edition SM Captain that I can convert to a relic blade/storm shield configuration
  • A ten-marine tactical squad
  • meltagun, plasmagun, and plasma pistol bits
  • two marines with plasma cannons
  • one marine with lascannon
  • scout sergeant with plasma pistol
  • scout with heavy bolter
  • marine sergeant with power fist
  • landspeeder with missile launchers
All told, not a bad lot, and at retail more than what I paid.  However, that wasn't all that was in there.  As I said, there were some Chaos Space Marines in there as well as some Space Marine stuff I don't need, and that stuff I'm willing to sell or trade away.
Side note: why not keep the CSM stuff?  Because if I am going to play an army other than Space Marines, it won't be Spiky Space Marines.
Here's some of what I don't want, but maybe you do:
Some of these guys have been primed or partially painted, but I am going to give them all the Pine Sol treatment and strip them down.  I also have loads of plastic bits.  You need a power weapon for that sergeant, or a particular helmet?  Let me know, I probably have it.  There may even be some Khorne Berzerkers in there somewhere, I think.

Anyways, I'll post pics, both of the salvaged pieces that will become part of my Brazen Claws army and the pieces that would love a new home.  If you're interested, leave a comment and I'll be in touch.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Milking the He-Goat

Every now and then I come across an expression that just encapsulates a concept, and recently "milking the he-goat" has been it.  What's better, it doesn't really have an inappropriate context, since I'm assuming you're working the vestigial nipples and not something else. (I call those nipples "papparies.")

Anyhow, getting the Brazen Claws painted has lately felt like milking the he-goat.  In particular, those damn Space Marine bikes, which were a pain to assemble and didn't fit together right at the end.  Oh, and the arms that hold the handle bars came off every time too.  But I needed to paint them before I fielded them, because I wanted to do it by sub-unit instead of assembling the whole bike and then trying to do a neat job of painting the legs without getting the side of the cycle, etc.  I'm just not that good.

I also made the mistake of going onto DakkaDakka. I mentioned at the beginning of my journey into 40K that I would try to avoid that, but in my attempt to pimp this blog I went there to post pics.  I then succumbed to temptation and decided to do a little poking around which uncovered the article of Space Marine tactics.  Bleh.  I guess the las/plas combo has now become the melta/missile launcher combo (probably cheaper, given that missile launchers are now free) with the tac unit divided in half using the SM special rule.

I don't want to get too into the fluff/tactics do-I-play-to-win-or-have-an-interesting-army question too much here, but I think that army lists that just exist of taking the most effective unit in each category is a lot like being able to pick what you want to play chess and then making an army with one king, two queens, and five rooks.  Yeah, it'll be an easy win, but at some level don't you feel like something is lacking?  I don't know.

I've also been in paint-paint-paint mode, trying to hit my annual painting goal by the end of June, which is pointless for two reasons.  One, I'm not going to do it, there's just no way that could physically happen.  I don't have the time.  Two, it's an annual goal, and getting it done in six months doesn't make me a painting hardcase or something.  What I've realized inside my own head is that if I hit the goal, I would relax and putter about building terrain and other things.  Which is also a crazy way to be treating my hobby.

So, I'm having a moment of self-revelation.  I have six months to paint thirty figures, and in the process have maintained a pretty nice painting schedule, given my past accomplishments.  I am also thinking about starting a new army, just to have one to bounce back and forth from the Brazen Claws, so I when I get weary of painting red and blue I can switch to the other.  Or more likely, use the partially-painted Brazen Claws while slowly painting up the second army until it is ready to go.

In case you are wondering, I do have a second army in mind, but I'm keeping it a secret for now.

And finally, I hit 10,000 visits.  I made a big deal out of 9,000 because for whatever reason I like base 3/12 numbers better than base 10, but it is still a nice milestone.  Traffic on the blog has increased nicely over the last few months, so that's all good.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Brazen Claws Bikers

Rollin' like James Brolin and killin' like Penicillin
Ugh.  Okay, these are not my favorite models of the Space Marine line.  They actually have been kicking around the lead pile for over a decade, and I finally decided to give them their due.  But, particularly given the difficult "quartered" paint job, I painted each sub-unit separately: the bike, the marine, and the backpack.  When the time came to put it all together, they didn't always fit right (most obvious on the marine on the left).  But, they're done and ready to go tank hunting, which is their primary role in my mind, since I've seen how bad they are in assault.  Too bad I can't give the sergeant a power fist.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Weekly club report, second week of June

This week I played my friend Sam's Black Templars at 1100 pts, just a straight shoot-em-up battle.  I like Sam, but I wonder why the BT army list hasn't been voided yet, given that there have been at least two iterations for the SM Codex.  But enough complaining.  I obviously lost, and I should take it like a man.

Again, the descriptions will be rough at times.

My army list (aka the "this is what I own" or the "walking marines" list)
Captain with terminator armor and relic blade
Terminator Squad
Assault Canon Dread
Multimelta Dread
Tac Squad with power fist, heavy bolter, and flamer
Scout Squad
Scout Squad with sniper rifles
Devastator Squad with three missile launchers and a lascannon

The BT army list
Marshall with terminator armor and twin lightning claws
Emperor's Champion
large tac squad with noviates or whatever they are called
5 man tac squad with plasma gun and lascannon (see earlier comment)
Land speeder
Land speeder with missile launcher
Bike squad
Land Raider Crusader

The battle:
I deployed my forces with the two scout squads on one side with the multimelta dread, the termies and the assault dread in the middle, and the tac squad on the other side.  The devastators were in the back on a hill.
Sam stole the initiative and ran his bikes towards my two scout squads.  He settled his land speeders along the back of his deployment zone, where they took out the melta dread with missiles.  The land raider plowed towards my tac squad.  Aside from the dread, his shooting was abyssmal and my armor saves downright impressive, as they would be for most of the game.
On my turn I moved my termies to back up the inevitable assault on my tac squad, while my non-sniper scouts rushed to engage the bikes.  The sniper scouts shot and but failed to do anything against the 5-man tac squad, which would be how they spent the rest of the game.  My librarian hit a glancing blow on the Crusader with "Machine Curse" and got "can not shoot" at which point Sam said the Crusader had a Machine Spirit that allows it to shoot once even thought it got a "can not shoot" meaning it was still going to run up on me while shooting so thanks for playing.  That was a classic example of the rules/counter-rules quality of 40K that makes me dislike the game some times.  My devastators were useless against the front armor of the Crusader.

The Crusader deployed its units, the large BT tac squad going against my librarian and tac squad while the Marshall and Emperor's Champion went up against my terminators and Captain.  This proved to be a mistake: the termies and Captain rolled over the two independent characters in a flurry of power fists and invulnerable saves.  Over on the other side my scout squad took out the five-marine bike squad, but sustained heavy casualties.

Sam threw his Crusader into reverse (causing me to make the "BEEP BEEP" noise that garbage trucks make while backing up) and essentially moved backwards for the rest of the game, all the while shelling my tac squad and terminator squad.  It was a cycle.  My guys would move up, make glancing blows on the Crusader which half the time would be negated by the Machine Spirit, while he would take out a couple of guys with the Crusader's guns.  My devastators must have loaded up on nerf missiles that day, because they were completely ineffectual against the Crusader's armor.

All the while this is happening, the two BT land speeders slowly dissected my army from 48" away: first the assault dread, then the devastators, then the sniper scouts, and finally on turn six the last of the terminators.  My only high point was the single scout sergeant made his way to the very back of the board, assaulted the mini-tac unit, and ran them off the board all on his lonesome.  His unit must have worked extra-hard because I had finally painted them.

At the end of turn six Sam still had both land speeders, and a dinged-up but functioning Crusader.  I had two miniatures--the power fist-wielding sergeant from the tac squad and the scout sergeant.  I called the game in his favor.

What I learned:
  1. At some point, I just should have given up using the devastators on the Crusader and turned them on the land speeders instead.  It's hard to ignore ~300 pts. on the battlefield, but the land speeders did far more damage than the tank did.
  2. My own psychological weapon was the terminators, against whom Sam threw so much ammunition I was surprised if they had any paint left on their armor.  They just couldn't fail an armor save, even the 5+ invul save.
  3. I love my assault scouts, which proved once again how poor SM bikes are in the assault phase.  Without a power fist for their sergeant they would've been wiped out by the dreadnaught if the scouts hadn't torn them apart first.  I've got my own bike squad on the workbench, but I'm definitely going to use them as tank hunters.
  4. Speaking of tanks, I need to think about investing in one, or at least a transport vehicle.
I asked Sam not to go easy on me, which he didn't.  There's no point in getting a false idea about how effective or ineffective your army is.  I did buy a new unit of sniper scouts (the ones I used were borrowed) on the way out the door.  I think my order of purchases for the army will go as follows:
  • Predator
  • Command Squad
  • Razorback
  • Two rhinos (for the two tactical squads)
I'll save my internal debate regarding what configuration to use for the predator for another post.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Some more post-apocalyptic figures

Click for larger pic
I'm still just bouncing around at the moment between miniatures.  These are three various Mutant Chronicles figures, all painted to match my others, at least roughly.  The stain really is too red and brown; I think I will be going to the hardware store to look for something else to use.

At some point I will be finding a game in which to use these figures as well.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Some Chainmail Dwarfs

Click the pic for an enlargement
I decided to change up from Brazen Claws for a bit, and painted up a dwarf booster pack from the old D&D miniatures game Chainmail.  Some time I'll use them in a game of Song of Blades or something.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

On the Market: Central Casting Dungeons

I came across a copy of this book recently and decided to sell it.  I have a second copy of my own, and it is a real treasure for old school Dungeons & Dragons fans.  It contains pages and pages of charts and descriptions for randomly generating different kinds of dungeon encounters and rooms.  Even if you don't use the random tables, there's plenty of great room descriptions to get your imagination going.

The list for the auction is here

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Brazen Claws Scouts

Finally got these guys done.  They are another bunch of miniatures that have been in my collection for ages but never saw a paint brush until the past couple of weeks.  For whatever reason, it didn't really come easy, either.  I found myself getting frustrated. But I knuckled under and now they are done.

By the way, my chaplain got second place.  The other mini wasn't as well painted, but had conversion work.  It's only a $5 difference in the prize money, so I'm still pretty pleased.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Gamer's Movie Review: No Escape (1994)

I saw the trailer for this movie when it came out, but never managed to catch it in theaters or elsewhere until this week when it popped up on Netflix.  Part prison movie, part post-apocalyptic survival movie, part redemption movie, No Escape was a surprisingly good flick, especially for a wargamer's perspective.

The year is 2022, and the world's prison systems have been completed turned over to corporations.  Cpt. J.T. Robbins (Ray Liotta) is an ex-special forces soldier sentenced to life in prison for killing his superior officer in a glorious bit of cinematography in the opening credits.  Deemed both too dangerous and politically sensitive for a regular facility, Robbins is sent to Absolom, a secret penal colony located on a tropical island.  The island is divided into two communities: a fairly civilized commune of about one hundred prisoners led by a benevolent, messianic figure called "the Father" (Lance Henriksen), and six hundred brutal savages living deep in the jungle led by Marek (Stuart Wilson).  The savage prisoners regularly raid the primitive fort that the other prisoners have set up, but Robbin's presence serves as a catalyst for bringing the conflict between the two factions to a head.

The movie is, as I said, a lot like your typical prison flick.  There's the big tough black guy (Ernie Hudson), the doomed kid (Kevin Dillon), the sadistic warden (Michael Lerner) and the shifty scrounger (Kevin J. O'Connor, whom it took me about half the flick to finally put together was "Benny" from The Mummy).  But it is also very close to a post-apocalyptic sci-fi story, with the scratch-built armor and primitive weapons and the one, single firearm on the island.  But what really makes the movie stand out is the deliberate attempt to develop some sense of depth beyond the basic plot.  Liotta's plays Robbins as barely holding onto his sanity and a good part of the story is his refusal to accept the hospitality and support of the Father's commune.  The movie's script takes the time to put quite a bit of humanity into the characters so you appropriately sympathize with the prisoners who are seeking redemption and a new life, even as they can never escape the island.

If there is one sour note to the movie it is Wilson's depiction the charismatic yet violent leader of the savages.  Wilson chews the scenery with a lot of hammy over-acting that made me check that in fact 1994 was when Jim Carrey was exploding into the Hollywood scene.  He could have toned it down just a notch or two and come across as a truly sinister sadist, rather than tap his Shakespearean acting roots and gone for the bombastic, broad gesturing stuff.

Now from a wargamer's perspective, what I liked about the movie was the whole post-apocalyptic big siege battles that appear regularly in the film in a great bit of futuristic low-tech fun, but not taking place in the arid, lifeless landscape so common to the genre.  The island is beautiful from afar, but fetid and rat-infested within, a great metaphor for the dystopic outside world (which Henriksen at one point dryly points out might just be worse than Absolom).  The jungle makes a great place for mud-daubed psychos to jump out you, rather than being seen from miles away across the sand dunes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

First weekly After Action Report

Since I'm usually doing one 40K game a week now, I thought I'd at least try to share some of what happens each week.  I can't provide the detailed reports that some people can; for one thing, I don't know the rules well enough and for another I'm not taking detailed notes while I game.
My gaming club suffers from having too few tables in the FLGS where we play, which means that at least one table is a two-on-two battle, and I was part of that last night: my Brazen Claws and Imperial Guard vs. Orks and Nurgle Chaos Space Marines (each with 1000 pts).

The Army Roster (of sorts)
I fielded my captain in terminator armor, a tac squad, a scout squad, two dreads, a terminator squad and a devastator squad.  My partner had two tanks (a Leman Russ and a demolisher), a Chimera, a command squad, two regular infantry squads, and a veteran squad.  Again, I'm short on details.
The ork player had three big trukks, one with the force field, two units of lootas, one unit of bikes and one helicopter.  The chaos player had a chaos lord, two units of plague marines in rhinos, a dread and a predator with lascannons.

The game was to claim five markers, with Spearhead formation.

Humanity's finest fall on the mysterious planet Plywood
The short version is the dice crapped out on us.   Despite our heavy weapon resources, we actually failed to destroy any of our opponents vehicles with the exception of one of my dreads using a multi-melta at point blank range to destroy the chaos dreadnought and the same dreadnought hitting and destroying the predator's rear armor on a mulligan because they felt so bad for us at that point.  We failed to destroy any of the transport vehicles, however, so my tac squad was overrun by 19 Shoota boyz and the Imperial Guard were tank-shocked with Chaos Rhinos.  By the bottom of turn three all I had left was an immobilized dreadnought and two terminators while my partner had a Leman Russ and the Chimera.  On the other side, they had lost the predator, the dreadnought, the helicopter (which I had taken care of) and the 19 Ork Shootas which my partner had wiped out with barrages.  That was it.
Our opponents agreed that we suffered terribly for poor dice rolling, as I said before (hence the mulligan when I rolled a 1 to damage with the multi-melta).  I did get a few tips about army composition, but really I'm just playing with what I own, so all I can do with that is file it away on the chance I decide to purchase more Space Marines.

And on that note, I'll break here for some meandering thoughts.


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