Thursday 24 November 2016

9th Age - Empire Civil War

Another week gone by and another weekly club game at the .... club. This week we have been mainly playing 9th Age, the fan written reiteration of 8th Ed. WHFB.

Myself and Andy L had had this game organised to play sometime ago, but before our game, the 9th Age team had revised the rules as written and amended the 'Empire' army list to suit. To avoid any issues (ie having to re-do our army lists) we plumped to play the 1.1.0 release of the rules we had based our lists on.

Playing a 2,500 pt a piece game, each of us playing Empire, the game was set for an Empire vs Empire Civil War pitched battle.

Both of us were unfamiliar with the rules though fairly competent with the previous 8th Ed rule set on which they are based, but we went for pretty different line ups with Andy going for a character/magic heavy line up with a small number of point heavy hard hitting units. I, on the other hand went for quantity not quantity with a large number of cheap cannon-fodder units and only a couple tough but smaller units along with a smaller number of characters with minimal magic giving more figures on the table. (The first different thing noticed was that the troop/troop types are generally slightly cheaper than their predecessors).

Andy was deployed first and had the initiative to start and advanced his Templar Cavalry on his flank with his centre & right stationary to hold. His Cannons commenced their sniping and one round one took out my Volley gun and damaged the Steam Tank.

I preceded to have a general advance and threw out my left flank to circle round his open left and refused my right to draw out his Knights expecting the clash with my Electoral Cavalry to be one way but once lost would draw his Knights off position or even pursue off-table next round.

Round two went much the same with my centre advancing and Andy's centre holding but the flank went differently than expected. Andy failed on his charge roll to get his Knights into my Electoral cavalry and I promptly broke with my plan and decided to get any advantage I could and my slightly out number Cavalry charged his and in an unfortunate state of events (for Andy) I completely ace'd the combat and his Witch Hunter led knights broke and were destroyed in pursuit allowing me to flank charge his other unit of knights with his general in tow.

My firing all concentrated on his hefty unit of Spear in the centre while Andy split his fire on the steam Tank (reducing it to lass than half strength before it got out of the line of fire), and my unit of Imperial Guard Greatswords.

My flank attack continued it's plod round the out side and slowly closed in and only managing to make contact at the closing turns of the game with the Flagellant band managing to make it and charged his Crossbow and easily breaking this unit and pursuing it to destruction and into the rear of his Spear thanks to the additional move this allowed. 

Meanwhile, engaged to their front by the Steam Tank which had cleared to alley of fire from the cannons luckily intact but much depleted in strength, the tank proved pretty nigh-on indestructible in combat against lowly infantry and this unit, already down to half strength by the close looked to be doomed.

The two units of Imperial Guard clashed right at the end and with Andy's skillful playing of the magic had managed to buff up his Greatswords and his Spear making them pretty resilient and with re-rolls on wounds the combat here went very much his way by a factor of roughly 2 to 1 but the Bodyguard rule saved my Guard from an ignominious fate.

The magic in general was low key with Andy generally getting a slight advantage due to more spell casters, but the effect here tended to be quite local, though in the Guard vs Guard fight proved to be the decisive factor.

With five rounds played and running out of time Andy conceded defeat though the game was far from over (especially given the fickleness of Warhammer-esque games) but things didn't look great though (not counted up, but I suspect the points difference on the table probably wasn't too disparate).

The run through of the rules was enjoyable and fairly painless with only some of the tweeks that had been made having to be checked. It was pointed out that my enjoyment of the rules was probably down to an un-characteristic win for my Empire (which I probably agree with).

A couple of points didn't sit right with either of us, but mainly the ability of the Cannons to be heavy duty snipers (the offsetting previous misfire/blow-up rules having been much toned down) and this ability on initiative could be quite disproportionate to their point cost. That said I believe things have been changed in response to this in the new iteration of the rules.

In conclusion, I can see where the nomenclature of a Tournament Rule Set comes from and I think they do this pretty well but they still play quite nicely. The trial with Empire vs Empire does limit this review with some of the other heavy army list requiring trial to see if more balanced but I did enjoy the experience if only because the 8th Ed WHFB rules were pretty OK but just broken by the Army Lists released to sell more and more figures. Shame really but 9th Age seems to do a reasonable stand in from what has been seen here. 

To be played again in the New Year definitely.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Chaos Wars - Second Assault

Following our recent initial trial run of the Chaos Wars rule set available through Ral Partha in Chaos Wars - Trial Run a month or so ago, myself and Andy W had got together to give the rules another outing.

With a bit more confidence in tour knowledge of the game, ie we gave the rules a read through and Andy had picked up on a few bits we had previously carried out completely wrongly, we put together a larger (medium sized) game and included most of the bells and whistles and also went for the 'high fantasy' option of more points to spend on weird stuff.

Still using the generic army lists that are available for download, we put together a Humans versus Elf conflict with the Elves being quite shooty/magicy and the humans not. (I had forgotten to bring most of my artillery pieces, so struggled to make up my fantasy points but we just went along to see how things played out).

The game itself was fine and with a fresh perception of the mechanics things went pretty quickly with only minor checks of the rule book (mainly to deal with the magic system, which is simple enough but just unfamiliar) and managed to get the game to a conclusion by the end of the evening.

At the end of the game, we drew conclusions on the rules as we had seen them after two outings.

All in all, the rules produce a quick play style fantasy game which is relatively easy to pick up and quite enjoyable. The rules mechanics all seem to work together and there were no jarring results once we had understood the concepts.

We did have a few issues with the amount of 'fantasy points' or the proportion to standard troop points for a given size of game, with our average sized game you had 300 standard troop points and 90 fantasy points. Given the strength and powerfulness of some fantasy type units (Andy's Dryads were super-powerful probably taking half my 'normal' army to take out one unit, he had two units btw)), the proportion of these fantasy points seemed disproportionate to the army size. As a guide we pretty much agreed that the half the proposed fantasy points wouldn't be far off the mark to get a more balanced game. I might be prudent to limit the number of similar fantasy/fantastical units available or making some units unique given their strength on the field.

After the clear up we had decided that the rules were fun to use and its malleability to produce almost any army/type you could think of and to suit your existing collection, the rules were certainly worth playing again and into the future. A few constraints may be necessary with the army lists to avoid going all 'Armies of Arcana' with the lists.

More of these rules in the future.

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Defence of the Westfold

This week I have been lending a hand (ie moving some figures about and throwing really bad dice) to Kev who was having a dry run for his club demo game that he is intending to put on at Targe later this week up in Kirriemuir.

The game is a recreation of Theodreds' defence of the Westfold during the War of the Ring involving Rohan and Isengard forces on the banks of the River Isen. Kev is using the GW War of the Ring rules for the game as they are good and simple to use and give a reasonable feel for the forces involved.

All the troops mustered are part (and fairly small part to boot) of Kev's huge LotR collection which includes multitudes more Rohan and some Mordor forces too. You can find more of Kev's WotR festivities on his blog Double Six.

Here follows a couple of shots of the evenings activities;

Initial Deployment

Isengard advances towards the static Rohan lines

Crunch time

Check out the full game at Targe this coming Saturday 12th Nov at Targe for more info and a better look at Kev's impressive troops.

Sunday 6 November 2016

Mordheim Season 3 - The Lair of the Beast

With the next round of the third Mordheim Season up, the usual suspects gathered chasing the Witch Hunters, who had proven victorious in the last round, in search of powerful Holy Relic which was in the hands of one of the Necromancers Captains, Rufus, The Beast of Dalberz, who had been instrumental in much of the destruction of the town and in particular the academic quarter.

Rufus had been tracked to the area of Jurgengard, north east of the remains of Dalberz on route to his stronghold at Slayer's End.

The Witch Hunter's then sprung an ambush on the Fighter and his small bodyguard while passing through the abandoned village.

Along with Andy L's Witch Hunters, following him to the field were Dave's Marienburg Mercenaries, Kev's Vampire led Undead, Andy W's Skaven and my Protectorate of Sigmar. (The Dwarves not managing to make an appearance for this engagement).

The table was the now standard 6' x 6' layout with the Beast and his guard of thugs holed up in part of the village necropolis and the bands deploying in the usual equi-distant fashion around the board. The Witch Hunters getting the initiative and a free move to kick the proceedings off.

The Witch Hunters promptly made a bee-line straight across the board towards the Marienburgers who were directly opposite and the Marienburgers then reciprocated in kind. The two largest (biggest warband ratings) bands then proceeding to clash in the north of the village, largely ignoring the objective and indeed the rest of the combatants for the first half of the round.

Next up were the Undead who played things a bit cannily (due to the newly raised Vampire, brought in to replace the previous now deceased commander) and not wanting to move towards the larger bands to the north, move slowly through the ruins towards their arch enemies the Protectorate.

The Protectorate also reciprocated in kind with a much depleted (but similar warband rating) towards the Undead, generally keeping cover and conjuring up Armour of Righteousness the Warrior Priest was emboldened.

The Skaven, now pushed out on their own by other movement were free to head en-mase towards the objective and Rufus and his small band.

Generally avoiding a couple of poor shots from the guard (other than a knocked down rat) the Skaven horde spread out and headed as quickly as possible and closed on the cornered henchmen.

In fairly short order, over the space of a couple of turns, the Skaven swarmed Rufus and his henchmen and took out a four of the thugs in quick succession.

The Captain in turn charged with his bodyguard, and took down one of the ratty number but otherwise the Skaven were un-phased.

Meanwhile, in the north the Witch Hunters and the Merc's clashed with the newly recruited Ogre Merc for the Witch Hunter's being a prime target barely managed to swing his axe before going down to the fire power of the Merc archers. The Witch Hunter's closed as quickly as possible and got to grips with the mercenaries to even things up and a viscous melee ensued.

To the south, the Protectorate, who were devoid of any missile capability, tried to maneuver into charge range while keeping in cover to avoid the Undead shooting. The Undead slightly withdrawing in return to keep that option. 

My Protectorate having no option moved forward to the attack and forcing the melee but having to give the Undead the first contact option.

With a mix of effective shooting and a reasonable charge, the Undead croaked a Crusader, a Templar and one the Acolytes and knocked the Warrior Priest to the ground with Kev's dice being very kind to him (but not to me).

The Protectorate response was poor with exceptionally rubbish dice except the bold remaining Crusader who managed to roll a critical against the newbie Vampire and things look ominous for a second but a a successful roll with a Lucky Charm saved the day for the Vamp. Otherwise the other Acolyte went down on his charge against the much mightier Dreg who took him apart.

The Skaven now overwhelmed the ruffian captain and his thugs, and with most of their number swarming in, including the hefty Rat Ogre, the fight was short lived. The Captain and his lieutenant went down and were duly searched and the relic 'The Witches Hammer', a holy tome was duly uncovered.

The rats consolidated their advancing sweep across the centre and hoovered up at least three of the treasure tokens scattered in this region in the process. The Skaven Sorcerer then began his incantations in preparation for destroying the hated holy relic.

The Witch Hunters and Marienburger's continued to take lumps out of each other, both sides trading blows and neither side gaining the advantage.

The Skaven tidy things up and now have a eye on the Undead and Protectorate battling to the south along with some unclaimed treasure tokens in the intervening ruins.

The Undead now pressed their advantage on the Protectorate and charged in with most of their number now out numbering the Protectorate 3 to 1 and with little trouble took out the Warrior Priest on the ground and the remaining Crusader leaving one solitary Templar who with hate filled zealousness stood his ground swinging his sword at the surrounding Undead Minions (and failed to wound anything again thanks to another lucky charm). The combat saw his demise under a mass of teeth and claws.

To the north and casualties mounting the Marienburger's were beginning to get the worst of the comdat and with any likelihood of any further treasure being had, the Merc's voluntarily broke for hills with the loss of five of their number.

The Witch Hunter's only marginally better off and on break tests remained and began an advance on proceedings to the south but a ways off.

On their first break check on their way south, the Witch Hunter's failed their test and disappeared into the gathering darkness.

With the Skaven sorcerer successfully destroying the ancient tome, the Skaven now advanced in a wide arc towards the Undead who consolidated their line and put out a blocking fear causing ghoul to slow things down. 

This tactic from the Undead was unprecedentedly successful as with the first round of shooting from the Undead at the advancing Skaven, they managed to pick off the Skaven Captain who had exposed his position going for the last treasure token onto of some ruins.

This then meant it was practically impossible for the Skaven to successfully overcome the fear causing blockers and failed to initiatate a charge due to the low Leadership scores caused by the loss of their leader. A brief tussle was had between the Rat Ogre and a Skaven Gutter runner and one of the blocking zombies (who repeatedly fell down but failed to die) and with things looking pointless and a large haul of treasure in tow, Andy decided there was no point in lingering and voluntarily broke leaving the Undead their third victory of the campaign.

A bit of a surprise result for all concerned and with no losses at all and a good haul of experience, Kev's Undead were very happy with the result from tactical play.

Losses were minimal for everyone post game and even the Protectorate who went down to a man didn't loose any one (though no exploration cash and a couple sitting out the next game pretty much puts them out of contention in the campaign).

Next up, the Undead have decided on the strategic view (and to prolong the campaign) to carry out a raid on one of their neighbouring warbands and plumped for the Marienburger's being the biggest threat of the choice available, so the Merc's are to try and defend their camp from the other bands as best they can.

Friday 4 November 2016

Dr Strange - A Review

Managed to go and see the latest movie offering from the Marvel stable in the shape of 'Dr Strange' yesterday.

I had been looking forward to see this one as Dr Strange was always a favourite character of mine back in the glory comic days of my youth, though I never seemed to manage to get many of the comics at the time, mainly due to all the pot-heads had swiped them before I could get to the shop where I got my weekly/monthly comic fix.

With Benedict Cumberbatch as the lead, I was hopeful of a decent portrayal of the mystic character and I wasn't disappointed. The film is very well cast with Tilda Swinton (always playing the 'weird or intense character in a film she's in) as the Ancient One, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo and Benedict Wong as Wong (funnily enough) who brings a good level of humour to the story. Solid bad guy place goes to Mads Mikkelsen who plays the main antagonist Kaecilius and does this suitably menacingly.

The plot of the film basically forms around the origin story of Dr Strange who is easily the initially least likeable Marvel character being an arrogant, self obsessed neuro-surgeon who has a life changing accident and manages to estrange (pardon the pun) all who are near him in the process and ends up seeking a cure for his injuries in Napal. There the adventure real begins.

I wont follow the whole film plot as a spoiler but needless to say, if you know anything of the comic-book history of the character the film includes a large degree very effective and brain melting psychedelic scenes and mind bending spatial jenga particularly during the New York combat scene, think the film Inception hear but just more mandala-like, Lots of Escher inspired impossibles are prevalent throughout these scenes, definitely worth seeing these in 3D as the 2D may loose some of the 'wow'.

The movie does not offer up any major surprises plot-wise though there are a great deal of internal nods and bumps, particularly in a dark humour kind of way.. A good sharp wit is evident through out and the screenplay does give the audience credit of a good dose of intellect to catch the humour. The very well done almost slapstick humour induced from Dr Stranges' cloak is particularly well done.

The usual end credit teasers are there as would be predicted and the Marvel Universe tie in with the bigger world is there with the next in line being the next in the Thor story line and the hunt for Odin. Should be good.

Thoroughly recommended film, enjoyable at several levels a definitely good escapism, 'Dr Strange' gets a solid 9 out of 10 'must see from the Warblog.
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