Sunday, May 28, 2017

First session trying out Shadow War: Armageddon

I sat down with my friend Jeff today to play GW's new Necromunda game called Shadow War: Armageddon.

We had two games today to learn the rules, and weren't really playing the campaign game just yet. 

I brought along my Imperial Guard infantry and built a kill team, Byteknight's Bastards..

I named my guys after troopers in one of my favourite war movies.. Can anyone guess which movie these names come from?

I was facing Jeff's Eldar kill team. The Eldar, in case you're not familiar with the 40K universe, are derived from fantasy Elves. Just think of them as Space Elves... (yeah, yeah, I know. :-))

In the campaign game, your kill team fights skirmish battles until they win a fight, or rout. Either way, after the battle, each team gets some currency, but more importantly get "Prometheum caches" which enable your kill team to level up over time. This is similar to other miniature skirmish games that have campaigns. Your surviving guys get better and stronger over time.

We were just trying out some fights to learn the pros and cons of the game. Shadow War is based off Games Workshop's Necromunda, which alongside their Mordheim game, is a beloved skirmish based game. In the old Necromunda, it was human gangs that fought in the campaign.. Now, it's basically any race in the 40K universe. I was thus facing off today against the Eldar.

I equipped my guys with camo gear, clip harnesses, laser rifles ("Las Guns"), grenades, pistols, knives and for the leader, a chainsword and a Bolt Gun, which is more powerful than a Las Gun.

Jeff outfitted his guys with this machine gun- like weapon called the Shuriken Catapult, while I basically had single shot rifles. This proved to be decisive in the two battles.

Interestingly, he was also equipped with this grav machine that allowed him to fire at four feet away, which also vexxed me in both battles..

In the first fight, we had some 2 story buildings in the centre of the battlefield..

I started off making a dash to the building to ambush Jeff  as he was going to come up around both ends of the centre building..

but his weapons platform pounded me from a long distance, raining explosives on me.. Missing on turn 1 but then knocking down one of my guys early on, on my left flank..

While on my right flank, I was gearing up to ambush his troops coming around the building..

However, Jeff used a game rule to effect that stated that a trooper who is on overwatch (waiting to shoot a trooper on their movement who comes into visual range) must make an Inititiave roll to see if they can spot enemies who start outside the Overwatcher's LOS and finishes outside the Overwatcher's LOS.

Thus, even if you're lying in wait for someone, if they dash briefly in your vision and then disappear, there is a chance you might not get a reaction shot off in time. All Jeff had to do was start behind a wall and then end his movement in "hiding" mode, which would thus qualify for me to make an initiative roll before even shooting.

He thus climbed his guys behind the wall (where there was a ladder) over to the roof and then ended his move hidden.

I disappointingly either did not get a shot off in time, or I missed the two guys on the roof.

Jeff then proceeded to cut me down with his Shuriken Catapult scatter shot while I was basically firing at him in the equivalent of a bolt action rifle.

One of my guys got hit and went down, and the guy beside him broke. When an ally falls within 2 inches of another ally, all such allies have to take a moral test... Well, one guy went down and the other pissed his pants on my right flank.

The rules require you to take a bottle test when 25% of your guys are down... Well, I now had 2 guys down, one on my left and one on my right, with another guy crying for Mommy.. 2 out of 6 guys is 33%, so I had to take the test..

Well, guess what, I failed my bottle test and my kill team instantly routed, losing game 1.

Needless to say, I was not happy losing so quickly without so much as scratching that pretty yellow paint of at least one Eldar...

On game two, we made the terrain more industrial, laying down pipes in the centre..

I proceeded more cautiously, and hid behind walls and pipes, enabling "hiding" and "overwatch" a lot more.

Jeff was doing the same thing, hiding behind pipes on my left flank, and the blue generator on my right flank..

However, he *still* managed to shoot down one of my guys on my left flank from a far distance, while I couldn't hit the side of a barn..

I make a mad dash to sic my flame thrower on him after he exposes himself...

and I knocked him down, but it turned out to be only a flesh wound for him and he got up the next round, while my guy was killed when I tried to roll on his recovery..




Meanwhile, on my right flank, he drops another one of my guys from a long distance.. Though the guy on my right flank recovered and got up on the next round, I still had 2 guys down and had to make a bottle test, which I barely passed.

So, I barely scratch him with a damn flamethrower at close range, but he drops 2 of my guys at a distance..

Now, I am getting annoyed.

To add insult to injury, in the centre, I had 3 guys waiting to ambush anybody who made a dash behind the blue generator.. One Eldar did, but all 3 of my guys miss..

I then throw a hand grenade, and finally dropped one Eldar..

Then my flame throwing guy goes down like a ton of bricks on my left

and my Vet Sgt gets shot down on my right, while another guy engaged in hand-to-hand in the centre gets skewered..

That was the game.. I lost again..

I seemed to be badly out-classed by the Eldar..

Some takeways we learned about Shadow War in no particular order:

  • It's stupid there are no climbing rules and that ladders are considered open ground. We think this has something to do with GW wanting you to buy their new terrain, which are fitted out with ladders, rather than using what you already have. 
  •  I had too few guys.. Six men is not enough, as it only takes 2 guys to activate the 25% bottle test. It's better to have 10 guys, 3 or 4 of them cheap cannon fodder. I made the mistake of equiping my guys with camo gear, clip harneses, pistols, etc, when it would have been better to get guys running around with just blades and going in front of your good troops. The rules state that you must shoot at enemy troops closer to you, so if you put a disposable guy in front, you leave your better trained and equipped guys safe and allows them to shoot without getting a scratch. 
  • The outside LOS to outside LOS dash when the enemy is in overwatch is the best ploy. Ending your move in hiding seems to qualify as being outside your LOS and it can be abused as you basically limit how much you can get shot at. Indeed, hiding as much as possible seems to be the heart of the game.
  • There is little benefit to shooting an enemy who is already down as he has to roll to get up as long as he is down anyway. Better to attack a standing enemy to increase the chance of inflicting a bottle test on the enemy so he can rout and instantly lose the game. 
  • We had too much terrain, which favoured Jeff's Eldar, as it allowed him to hide and sneak up on me and basically negating the 24 inch reach of my rifles. If too much terrain in a scenario, it favours the HTH/Melee types and if less terrain, it favours ranged weapon figures.
  • I brought the wrong equipment. I should have had a sniper armed with toxic bullets (which only my faction can have), This way, I can automatically wound someone if hit. Instead, I had single shot rifles that gave me a 50% to hit (on a 4, 5 or 6), and then another 50% chance to wound. Jeff's Eldar on the other hand, could hit me on a 3, 4, 5, 6 but was allowed to roll a D3 for the number of rounds extra he can try and hit me with ever time. I never had that.
  • I had too much equipment on each guy. My Vet Sgt was kitted out in 265 points of goods, when all he needed was his chainsword and bolt rifle. No use for the pistol. Those points could have been better spent. Indeed, my Imperial Guard flak armour overall was useless against the Eldar weapons. It seems to be good only for small weapons like pistols. I also bought a clip harness for each guy, which is good to prevent nasty falls from heights. However, you have to waste a movement to do so, and it's better to move to a better location than stand there wasting time with clip harnesses in case you might fall.
  • Like all skirmish games, eventually someone has to take a chance and charge/go out into the open.

Jeff wants to play again as he likes the 40K universe much more than me. I was very frustrated playing this, but will give it a try, but maybe paint up Dark Eldar or Chaos Cultists next time. We'll see..

Friday, May 26, 2017

Had to make my own Shadow War Armageddon Artillery Dice

I have a try out tomorrow of the new Necromunda, Shadow War: Armageddon. I couldn't manage to buy the boxed set, damn GW's eyes, as it was sold out on the first day. I bought the rule book instead.

30 years ago, everyone disliked TSR, the company that ran AD&D, for the way they pushed their weight around, but TSR ain't got nothing on GW. Why they deliberately limited copies of Shadow War beats me, unless they like to antagonize their customers. But I digress.

Anyways, the game calls for the use of scatter dice and artillery dice. I have scatter dice, but no artillery dice alas given I don't have the boxed set, so I had to make my own.

An artillery die is a d6 with 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and a misfire symbol (an exclamation mark), used for how far an explosive round or grenade veers off the mark in inches. Some fans I hear are just rolling a d6 and doubling the amount.. thus if you roll a 1, it is counted as a 2; a 3 is counted as a 6, etc, with a roll of a 6 counted as a misfire.

I have some blank d6s lying around, so I decided to just label two of them.

I had to remember that opposite ends of a d6 should add up to a seven;.. a 3 on top should have a 4 on the other side of the cube.. the same with a 1 and a 6 and a 2 and a 5. I just matched the same sequence on my blank cube so opposite ends add up to 14.

6 and 8
10 and 4
misfire and 2  (a misfire being a 12)

I now have some artillery dice for me and my friend Jeff tomorrow.

I also made some counters in Word, cut them out and put them on cheap poker chips.

AAR to follow tomorrow night.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

My workbench: Quick paint job of a Micro Arts Studio Tau Ceti Power Plant

Now that I've scratch-built some industrial pipes (as discussed here)

...I still got about 2 days left to get ready for Saturday's Shadow War: Armageddon try out.. Only, I haven't read the rules yet nor built the stats of my kill team. I plan to do so tomorrow (Friday) night.

That will just leave me tonight as all I had left to finish off more terrain. Last night, I decided I can do a quick paint job of Micro Arts Studio Tau Ceti Power plant. I have no idea what this setting this is for, but if I had to guess, it would be the Tau from 40k.

I have these three other small Tau Ceti vents as well.


This thing is made of hardfoam but I was not sure how it would react to being spray-painted. I know styrofoam reacts badly, so I tested it out last night from it's bottom with some spray cans..

..and it worked fine. No deterioration in the hardfoam. I then spray painted it grey..

but I realized it looks uninspiring.. I have plenty of grey stone terrain and didn't want even my sci-fi terrain to be grey looking.. So I suped it up by re-spray painting it last night in this glossy blue to make it look like.. I don't know.. it was made of plasti-steel and such.

Tonight, I'm out of time, so without any fancy highlighting, I painted the cracks in this fluorescent orange to make it look like throbbing sci-fi energy and then did a light blue highlight for the top.  I also resisted the urge for once to not dirty it up and make it look worn out and rusted. A clean utopia style power plant.

That's it. The three other minor Tau Ceti vents will have to wait.  I'm done. Tomorrow night after work, it's reading the rules.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Reached the 10 year milestone as a miniature player

I recently remembered that I've been on Coolminiornot for 10 years now.. My earliest miniature posting was in April 2007

Hard to believe it's been 10 years already. My painting has improved slightly over the years, but I didn't get into the hobby to win the golden demon award or anything.

Nice to know I was on Coolmini before it was even cool, and at a time when people voted there a lot (unlike now). I suspect that the harsh voting on Coolmini has chased away a lot of hobby painters.. I myself post less and less as well, but I digress. Still, it's a good record of when I started.

I came to the miniature hobby late in life. In the 1980s, I played some Avalon Hill counter games but really, I was a *fanatical* role-player of  FASA Star Trek, Gurps, West End Star Wars, among other rpgs but not too much miniature painting. One friend, A.C., did most of the painting, but even there, it was for FASA Starship combat.  However, at the very end of my RPG hobby in the late 1980s, I dabbled in West End Games's Star Wars miniatures for their RPG. Here is a picture of me and my friends Jim and Craig circa 1989 with my painted West End figures..

But seriously, apart from some FASA Starship Combat, the West End SW figures was the only use of miniatures I did for about 10 years of RPGs. We didn't need them as we were hardcore experienced RPGers.

I got out of tabletop RPGs in the early 1990s (as discussed here) and did a little dabbling of PBEM RPGing between 1998-2006 (as discussed here), so I had very little to no miniature experience overall.

In 2006 or so, I used to walk in on my lunch break to see a local gaming store (closed now) and go in the back to look at the vintage 1980s RPGs for nostalgia purposes. One day, I browsed their Reaper line of minis and for some reason, I bought some sculpts and some paints and crudely painted them up even though I had no intention of using them. I thought it was a gaming itch, but looking back, I think it was scratching a modeler's itch. A manager at another store weeks later suggested Coolmini and voila, I posted one in April 2007, shortly after painting it.

I've come a ways since my crude paintjobs and I stuck with it. Over the years, I've discovered that I found I enjoy conversions more than painting..

I also discovered that I am better at terrain painting and terrain kitbashing than figures..

but I've also found that when I get a miniature's face just right, there is a great deal of more satisfaction than I would have gotten with terrain.

My ambitions with respect to painting and miniature play have increased these last 10 years as well.. I started off modestly 10 years ago with some ship battles..

and some Blood Bowl..

as well as lots of boardgames..

but I'm finding my interests lie in ever greater miniature painting with lots of variety..

I find I don't just want to paint one mini anymore, but a platoon, minimum a squad of them, at one batch..

I recently chastised myself for assembling 85 zombie sculpts, when I just needed about 20 to make a horde.. I don't know what I was thinking or why I did it, but the task of painting all of these is daunting now..

I am also pushing myself for variety.. everything from Space Hulk

to dinosaur hunts..

to space battles..


to fantasy..

but even there, I discovered that I am gong back to my RPG roots and want to tell a story, rather than compete against my friends..

My friends just want to compete to win in boardgames and such, but I am slowly losing interest in doing so. I am truly an old GM RPGer at heart. I'd rather be painting and modelling only now and building up the RPG character in my mind as I paint them.

Still, I don't mind a miniature game with them once in a while if they are willing and have ambitions to try out mass battles like Kings of War on them one day.

I am curious what my younger RPG self from the 1980s would think of me now. I had very little interest in minis all those years ago, apart from painting 1/35 WW2 models in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Perhaps if I kept at the 1/35 WW2 modeling hobby back then, I would find no need to "catch up" now, as the 85 Zombie sculpts perhaps testify.

I don't know how long I can keep this up though... my eyes are not what they are used to be, and truly, the miniature hobby is expensive, in both time, storage space and money. It's been an enjoyable 10 years, and I hope to get another 10 years out of it more, but we'll see.