Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I'm back, baby!

So, if you've been keeping up with my angst-filled hobby-related drama, you know that I've been generally losing heart with playing 40K, and have been fairly listless about taking up any other direction because I don't know if I could get anyone to join me.

Well, last Tuesday I ended up missing the beginning of the weekly club meeting at the FLGS.  By the time I got there most of the people had gone, but the ones that were remaining said, "Hey, next week we're starting Necromunda."


I've got the starter box for Delaque gangers--I've had it for years.  For that matter, I've considered making a gang using the Wargames Factory Shock Troopers.  What I would really love to take a crack at if I was feeling exorbitant and ambitious is a Goliath gang using Chaos Marauders and Catachan Imperial Guard.

And terrain?  Oh yeah, I've been waffling for months now about building either gothic, fieldstone, or sci-fi terrain.  What's more, the sci-fi terrain could be re-used with 40K, MERCs, and just about anything else this side of Warmachine.  What I really want to avoid is the foamcore-sheet silhouette terrain that seems to be the staple for "ruined buildings."  My FLGS has several of those, and there's popular because they are interesting in terms of tactics, but you can do tactical buildings without having to look boring.  I was thinking I could try to build one terrain piece with a 8" by 8" footprint per month, and in a year I'd have 5 1/2 square feet of terrain.  Not a long on a 4' by 4' table, which has 16 square feet, but we'll see.

So, the spice must flow, as they say, and it is going strong.  The first step is to paint the Delaque gang.  I may try to get it all done by Tuesday, which means a speed paint job, but that's okay.  These days my speed painting looks almost as good as my slow painting.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Mythic GME

The Mythic Game Master Emulator (GME) is getting a lot of love on the solo-wargaming online community, and given my current side-interest in solo wargaming I thought I would give the product a look-see.
Basically, Mythic is a pretty free-flowing RPG that has it its rules the option to game without a GM, as long the group is willing to engage in a little creativity, logic, and a handful of random charts.  The concept was popular enough for the publishers to create a separate (and less expensive) book that just had the GME in it.
Here's how the GME works.  Basically there are several components.  The first handles basic questions about the narrative of the game.  For example, the PC's enter a cemetery looking for a monster that has been ravaging the countryside.  A PC asks, "do I hear any noises?"
At this point, the players consult a chart which determines how likely, given the situation, something might occur, anything from very likely to impossible.  There's percentile number given then, which when rolled determines if this is, in fact, the case.  So the chart result might indicate the PC's hear nothing, or that they hear a noise.  The PC can then ask, "does the noise sound like something is approaching?" and the chart would be consulted and so on.  Now the rules specifically say that you have to use some good judgment and a little well-intended creativity here.  A person couldn't then say, "is the noise a person coming to hand me a machine gun?" for example.  Like I said, there's an expectation about common purpose that is implied here.
The second part has to do with plot twists.  Basically, at the beginning of every "scene," and when doubles are rolled for a simple question from the first part, you roll on a second series of tables.  The first part indicates what dimension of the game the twist effects, e.g. a PC, an NPC, a major plot thread, a minor plot thread, etc.  The second part indicates essentially the verb, and the third part the object of the verb that will be the plot twist.  So you could roll an NPC, the verb "forgotten," and the object "clue."  With those three things, you could say (given the above scenario) that a professor the PC's met back at Ginantonic University pulls up to the cemetery is his car to tell the PC's that he had forgotten this notation at a book back in his office that said that the cemetery was the home to the grave of a famous mass murderer from the 18th Century.
The GME can be used for people interested in doing a little bit more of a structure-free RPG session, or a solo RPG session, but as I said it is also getting some play in solo-wargaming.  Basically, you (the living participant) could say, "will my non-existent opponent charge my archers (as opposed to, say, a unit of spearmen) with his cavalry?"  Then you could speculate that the cavalry are more likely to charge the archers because it is more tactically advantageous.  Then you roll on the chart and discover that, despite it being more likely, the NPG (Non-Player General) has decided to charge the spearmen instead, because something real opponents do stupid stuff like that too.  You can also use the GME to develop a campaign model, indicating for example that the room your zombie-hunting miniatures have entered contains the plot twist: "major plot line, lost, and solution," in which case your heroes may discover that the scientist they were hoping to find to produce a zombie vaccine has shot himself in the head, having discovered his family has been lost to flesh-munching undead.  See how it works?
For a little under seven dollars and 54 pages of text you can not go wrong with this thing.  If you're a RPG player, it is a way to add some random twists to the game your running, or you could test drive a game that you haven't talked your friends into playing yet.  If you're a wargamer whose thinking of getting into solo wargaming, it is as good a device as any to simulate another player.  Definitely should be on the must-buy list.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I am so tired of losing

So, another weekly club report, another loss.  I read somewhere that most players lose most of the first games in the first year of playing 40K, but I wonder if that is really true.  I also think I'm not an idiot, I've got a fairly good grasp of the rules.  I think my continual losses are a result of two things: first, my limited army selection, and two, the army itself (vanilla space marines).

In the club, there are two Black Templars players, one tyranid player, one Grey Knight and one space marine player who regularly show up.  All four play in the tournament leagues (Hard Boyz, etc.)  All have larger armies than my own.  All have played longer than me.  Out in the fringe there are an Imperial Guard player, a Chaos Space Marine player, and two Ork players but I haven't seen too much of them in the past several months.  Mostly I've been losing to BT players.  And can I just say how much that sucks?  The BT codex is old.  It has marines that run towards you when you shoot them and then get to re-roll when they get into assault.  Oh, and when I do shoot them, they get taken off of neophytes.  Damn it I hate those guys.  But it's okay, if I get tired of them, there's always the uber-cheesy Grey Knights.

So here's how I figure it.  There are four factors to doing better in 40k: skill, luck, army choice (as in what army you field, e.g. Space Marines or Eldar), and army composition.  I don't think all factors are weighed equally.  I can't affect my luck.  I can improve my skill, although I wonder how much farther I can go with that.

That leaves the other two options.  I can pump up my Space Marines, buy a Land Raider or another Land Speeder or a bunch of terminators with thunder hammers and storm shields.  I could overcome my aversion to Special Characters.  Or I could build a second army, maybe an anti-MEQ army since that seems to be the flavor de jour in the group.  But that means investing another $500 in this stupid game.

Oh well, enough griping.  Feedback welcome.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Other Brazen Claws Demi-Squad

Click for a larger pic
Hey, I'm back to painting Brazen Claws!  I decided to spend my day off getting the last of the tactical squad figures.  A lot of time I split one of the squads to put the HQ and the assault half with a razorback.  I think I may consider fielding a command squad or a squad of veterans in the Razorback instead.

So, I'm on the board for September with five miniatures.  I think I'll try to tackle some of the vehicles now.  My current plan is to finish the Brazen Claws by the end of the year.  That is basically a scout squad, a termine squad, two rhinos, a razorback, and a predator.  We'll see how it goes.

In other news, it's D&D night, and we're already down one player.  I wonder if it'll be a wash again.  If so, I may give up.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Depreciating Value, Round Two

My earlier post about depreciating value was a big hit, so I thought I would give you one more, an Eldar army list.  This comes from Collecting and Painting  Wargames Armies (1998).  The army list is "I Wanted to Invent My Own Craftworld" pp. 30-31

  • Farseer with seer runes, spirit stone, and witch blade
  • Warlock with singing spear
  • 6 Howling Banshees
  • 5 Swooping Hawks
  • 6 Fire Dragons
  • 4 Dark Reapers
  • 5 Guardians with power weapon
  • 5 Guardians with power weapon
  • 2 D-Cannons and crew
  • 6 Jetbikes with meltagun and power weapon
  • Vyper
  • Falcon with scatter laser and crystalline web
Now, right off the bat, I'll need to consolidate the Guardians into one unit and add the warlock.  Plus there's no power weapons or melta guns, but how's the total work out?

1998: 1,998 points
2011: 1,052 points
Depreciation: 47%

Note: One of the biggest offenders is the warlock, which went from 177 points to 28 points, but whose stats also took a beating.  The falcon went from 258 to 140.  Guardians went from being ~20 a piece to 8.

This'll be the last of these entries for a while, since I don't have an exhaustive collection of up-to-date army books.  If you'd be interested in my posting 1998 numbers and someone else out there telling me what the total is, let me know.

Weekly club report, first week of September 2011

1500 points, my valiant Brazen Claws against Black Templars.  Take and hold, dawn of war

My army list:

  • Captain with RB/SS
  • Dread with multi-melta
  • Dread with assault cannon
  • 5 Termies
  • Tac Squad (10) with flamer, missile launcher, rhino
  • Tac Squad (5, should have been bigger but forgot minis) with power fist, razorback
  • 7 Scouts with sniper rifles, missile launcher
  • 3 Bike Marines with power weapon, meltagun, plasmagun
  • Landspeeder with multi-melta and typhoon missile launchers
  • Predator with autocannon and lascannon sponsons
My opponent (not quite sure on details)
  • Emperor's Champion
  • BT Dread with twin-linked lascannon and tank hunter
  • Tac squad with power fist, rhino
  • Tac squad with power fist, rhino
  • 2 Landspeeders with multi-melta
  • Assault Marines (10)
  • Biker Marines (5)
  • Vindicator
Honestly, I should have won this one, but the Landspeeder and the Predator both fell victim to terrible die rolling.  For that matter, rolling 1, 2, and 2 on three attacks on the Captain didn't do me any favors either.  His landspeeder took out both my landspeeder and my pred, despite my having the drop on him each time.  He swamped my deep-striking termies with his assault marines and one tac squad in close combat, and that 2+ save doesn't do much when you're rolling 21 armor saves. I took out the vindicator, both rhinos, the assault marines and the biker marines.  He got my captain, the termies, one tac unit, the landspeeder and the predator. In the end, my flag was uncontested while one of his tac squads was sitting on his, so the game was his.

Next week my wife's new work schedule kicks in, meaning she doesn't get home until about two hours after the club starts.  That could put a crimp in things unless I can get some people to play at my house.  We'll see.

I've got your point devaluation right here

Von over at A Year of Frugal Gaming  posted an interesting article about, in addition to miniatures costing more, you're also getting fewer points in army lists than you used to.  He kicked around some numbers, but I thought I'd give you some flat-out examples.  I possess Collecting and Painting Wargames Armies, published by Games Workshop in 1998, thirteen years ago.  The book is nothing more than lists of various people's armies and a pic or two of each one.  The idea was to inspire you to build your own army, but the description also included point values.  For those checking, 1998 would make it fifth edition for Warhammer Fantasy (which came out in 1996) and right at the publishing of the third edition of Warhammer 40K, in fact I think that the army lists are really 2nd Edition.

So, example army number one: Space Marines, namely "The Dark Crusaders" on pp. 26-27.  The list contains the following figures:

  • Captain w/power fist, conversion field, master-crafted chain sword
  • Librarian Epistolary w/force sword and psychic hood
  • Tactical Squad of ten w/missile launcher and flamer
  • Tactical Squad of ten w/missile launcher, flamer, power-fist, and vortex grenade
  • Terminator Squad of five w/assault cannon and chain fist
  • Techmarine w/servo arm, haywire grenade, power axe
  • Dreadnought w/twin-linked lascannon, power fist, and auto-launchers
  • Landspeeder
  • Whirlwind
Interestingly enough, you couldn't even field this list now because of the odd outdated bit of hardware, but looking for some comparable choices, how many points do you have here?
1998: 1,991 points
2011: 1,265 points
Depreciation of 37%

Okay, let's look at the fantasy side.  We'll go with the "Beards, Beer, and Cannons" on pp. 4-5, obviously a dwarf army

  • Lord (called a "General") w/heavy armor, shield, Rune of Iron, helm with Master Rune of Spite, Master Rune of Swiftness
  • Runesmith w/heavy armor and shield, Rune of Fate, Rune of Cleaving, Rune of Resistance, ring with Rune of Spellbreaking
  • 23 Hammerers w/standard bearer and musician, Banner w/Rune of Courage
  • 12 Trollslayers w/standard bearer, musician
  • 12 Trollslayers w/standard bearer, musician
  • 17 Crossbowmen w/standard bearer, musician
  • 1 Flame Cannon
  • 1 Dwarf Cannon w/Rune of Forging
  • 1 Gyrocopter
I don't have the current edition of WHFB, but I'm pretty sure this list isn't street-legal with its conspicuous absence of Core troop choices and way too many points of runic items on the Runesmith, but how many points worth of miniatures have you bought?
1998: 1,928 points
2011: 1,606 points
Depreciation of 17%

I could probably donate more time to the fact that WHFB in particular had a shift away from tooled-up heroes to more bountiful troop choices, but there's the numbers.  Von makes a point of saying that the increase in the cost of miniatures and the depreciation of their value isn't a moral issue, it's just their business model.  Whether it works or not is obviously up to the market to decide.

First Look: MERCs

Sadly, no pics right now.  I don't post WIP pics too often, and besides most people can look up what an assembled Space Marine Razorback looks like.  But I did think I'd just check in with what I've been up to lately, on the topics of interest to readers of this blog.

I have built two Space Marine rhinos, a razorback, and a predator for my Brazen Claws army.  I magnetized the razorback turret and the predator side sponsons so that the weapons can be swapped out.  I had an extra razorback weapon mount from the large lot of used Space Marines I purchased (no idea why it was there, but it was).  I didn't magnetize the predator main turret; I'm not that adept at magnetizing models and I don't see myself going for the twin-mounted lascannon all that often.  If I change my mind I can also buy the turret sprue online.

I also got the foam trays for my Sabol Army Transport ripped out and ready to go.  I've got an older model of the Army Transport that opens on the top, but I can see the advantage of a side-opening container.  But now the Brazen Claws can travel to their weekly thumping together in style.

I bought on an impulse a copy of the wargame MERCs.  MERCs is a sci-fi skirmish game in which each side only fields five 28mm miniatures on a 2' by 3' board (some use 3' square).  The background is pretty standard for your cyberpunk dystopia: mega-corporations rule the world, jockeying for technology, resources, or things like the Panama Canal.  Each player plays a team of MERCs from one of the megacons or the independent mercenaries.  The rulebook is a huge, richly illustrated brick of a book for a skirmish game that only lists four factions, but full-color photos and ample artwork make up the bulk of it.  I haven't read it enough to judge the rules, but I will share with out the big quirk of this game.  In addition to the five miniatures, none of which can be duplicated on a team, you also need cards for each of the miniatures, which are sold separately.  These cards cover not only the miniatures stats (not shown in the rulebook), but are also used for calculating movement, weapon ranges, blast radii, and a host of other things.  The writers of the game claim their forcing you to the use the cards is altruistic, since it spares you having to buy and lug around an army book, a tape measure, blast templates, etc.  You can get the rulebook for $30, a complete set of cards for the existing miniatures in a given faction for $7, and each miniature will run you $8-10, depending on where you get them.  Each faction has five or six miniatures so far, so you'll basically need to buy one of everyone one you can in the faction.  Total cost to play is about $80, if you buy your own copy of the rules.

The figures look great, but I'm aware that the producers of the game clearly believe in the "Sci-Fi Tax" that seems to be applied to all sci-fi miniature lines.  I wonder how much variety can be in a game that doesn't have a lot of flexibility in the army lists, but I'll know better after I finish the rules.


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