Sunday, 7 December 2014

054. Taking stock of my hobby moving into xmas 2014 and the 2015 calendar year...

WARNING - this is a wall of text - things on my mind post.

I have peaks and troughs every year with my hobby output, as work takes precedence, or the winter months set in and I prefer to pursue other pursuits in the cold, or during the height of summer when it becomes impractical to keep trying to apply paint to miniatures.  This year I can add the growing demands of my daughter on my time.  It's hard to think that 6 months ago she turned one, and still didn't register much on my spare time, and now, at 18 months, she is a walking, running, climbing, jumping whirlwind of laughs and screams.  My after work and weekend time is now dominated around her needs and my desire to spend some time with her during these peak formative years.

The boys in the gaming group (Ackland especially with his living miniature) know just how hard it is to find the time spare to set aside for our infrequent catch ups.  With my coming Xmas leave, I'm not sure it will be like previous ones at all.  In the past I have had roughly 4 weeks each year to swan around, hobby at leisure and pursue whatever takes my fancy each day.  Somehow I think this year that luxury will be gone.

I have set some goals though for my time off.  I've negotiated with the missus to have some precious days alone outside of parenting and house maintenance tasks.  She has asked me to paint another two rooms in the house (now looking like a tradition for my leave - we've been here 6 years and I still have yet to paint each room to the colour the missus picked when we moved in) - one of which is my back spare room which also serves as my hobby storage and painting room.  This gives me the opportunity to change the layout of the room, as well as pursue some of my own goals like adding extra shelving space etc.

The boys and I have been having some deep and meaningful s on our hobby this last few weeks including what motivates us.  I struck upon the point that having all my stuff (nearly all unpainted) out on show (even though it is behind me when I paint) dents my motivation as it puts a daunting task out on show.  Repainting that room and reorganising it is the right time to look critically at my collection and see what I can possible let go of, and what can go into storage.

I've already commenced action to divest myself of my first army lot - my Warhammer Empire army which I bought over two years on the cheap to act as my counter force to my Warriors of Chaos.  The reality was I would never paint the Empire stuff, let alone play with it.  It has sat in a box for over two years.  Looking at it, i pulled out miniatures that had significance to me for one reason or another, and then bunged the rest up on a local FB swap page - I had offers within 30 minutes - absolutely nuts.

The rest of my collection is harder to justify (in my mind at least) getting rid of.  Ackland has warned me against doing things for the wrong reason, so I think I am going to follow one of the other lads in the group, James, advice and put stuff into boxes to store away.

I started painting this chap up one night on a whim
On the topic of motivation, I also posted in our group page about how I had hit the wall with a mini I had started a few weeks back but then stopped when it didn't progress as I wanted - that's down to me not painting enough to develop the painting techniques and skills I need to actually get the results i have in my head.  What I spoke about in the group is how I utilise a simple process to clean away the negativity from my mind space about a mini and start looking at it again with fresh eyes.  That process is done by painting the rim on the base black.  Simple as that.

Then he languished for two weeks - motivation disappeared
By blacking int the rim, I tidy away all the previous mess made by drybrushing the base and the early base coat over run stage, and reframe the mini on a clean base.  Its enough to get me going again on a mini I have stalled on.
Blacking in the rims helped reframe the mini and get be going on it again. Still WIP but now progressing

This has been a meandering wall of text for which I apologise to anyone who took the time to read it.  Between chasing the kid, and painting the house, I should have some time to get on with the act of hobbying and hopefully start delivering new content to this blog sooner rather than later.

In other news, James from our group has kicked off a blog recently (In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbyist) meaning there's only Dale yet to follow suit.  Between the three blogs, come a games day, we should now get some decent coverage of events.

Cheers all, and if I don't post before then - merry Christmas to you and yours from the Warne family, and a safe and happy new years, with plenty of good hobby for all in 2015.

Cheers all,

Liam

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

053. Ackland leads a cavalry charge...

Our monthly catch up has swung around once more with nary a post from me in between the last catchup - I have been lax in applying myself to the hobby - with luck that will be changing soon and I can get some regular content up.  In the interim, below is the pictorial biography of another Sunday was well spent at Rays (Col. Ackland) throwing dice and moving miniatures around the board.

Ray had myself, James and Dale around for a couple of games.  The intent was to play 2 matches each at 1,000 points, with the match results deciding the teams for our next match that is going to be held as a 2 v 2 at my place in a fortnight.  Ray was keen to try out his home brew cavalry codex (see more about that here at his blog) he has been working on and I had agreed to be his guinea pig after giving feedback on it over the past fortnight.

I had initially reviewed his codex cold, and made comment about a number of the orders and unit options, and I carried that discussion through to the games day.  My main concerns were that too many of the orders/unit options seemed to add quite a few too many extra rules to a units profile for one or more phases of the game, adding to some already rules heavy units as a result of the basic unit builds Ray had established.  

As we discussed on the day when talking through Dales Raven Guard army selection, generally, an all comers list will not specialise in anything and do reasonably in each phase of the game (movement, shooting and assault - I'm leaving the psychic phase out for now as none of us have played that phase yet).  Dales army, being assault focused, was always going to be weak in the shooting phase, but have benefits in the move and assault phase. The additional trade off here being the army needed greater tactical finesse to ensure that the units survived the opposing players shoot and over watch phases to a) get across the board in tact, and b) make it into combat where it should generally excel.

Ray's home brew codex seemed to ensure that in some instances, a unit would actually be buffed in each phase - benefiting in movement from the cavalry rules, in shoot by receiving buffs to its shooting from orders, or an ability to run/charge as a result of an order, and in the assault phase due to the nature of the unit profiles and weapon load outs.  While the units were still just Guardsmen on horseback, with low general strength, the weight of dice they could generate (see picture later) meant they could be sure to get some wounds on a target unit.

Ray pointed out to me that aside from a couple of character profiles, he had actually only amalgamated existing unit entries/orders from the FW DKoK lists and the Astra Militarum Scions lists - what I thought was overpowered home brew, was actually legitimate GW/FW unit entries/rules.

Anyway, for the interest of those who have stuck through the wall of text, here are some photos of the day.  Ray has also posted from his point of view - see the link above to his blog.

The table set up - Ray picked up a new gaming mat (a giant mouse pad) on some Kick Starter - it was very cool
The only shot I have of the other lads game - Dales Raven Guard v James' Imperial Fists
The start of Rays cavalry getting set up as well as his Lascannon support
My lines - we set up on opposite corners and were playing the Scouring mission
My plucky Grots nabbed a secret objective worth one point that was in my deployment zone
My right flank - a mob of Boyz and some Deff Koptas
My left flank - some Kans, my Warboss and Nobs, and another mob of Boys
My list was composed of my Orks - but it turned out I didn't have enough for a full 1,000 points so I (unwisely it seems in the end) kitted out the two 10 Boys mobs with armour and also armoured my Nobs and loaded the Boss up with kit.  I realised midway through I would have been better off scrounging more Boys from one of the lads to beef up my unit sizes, and maybe tried to fit in some Grot Big Guns as I had a lack of ranged capability (not really an Ork strong suit I know), and the armour saves from the 'eavy armour, never really came into play due to the dearth of AP3 being used against me.

Looking across no mans land at the massed cavalry
The view from the other side on Rays right flank
And his left flank
Standard pre game cheese shot
Ready for the first dice roll - Ray won first turn.  He sneakily scouted a unit of Veterans (Hussars with Melta Bombs and Shotguns) behind the top left Baobab tree nearest my Kans.  His first turn saw him edge his right flank Lancer units and Company Command  towards my centre mass - looking for that first turn charge using his orders.
He pushed another unit of Veterans (Hussars on the far left), Storm Troopers (Heavy Dragoons) and Storm Trooper Platoon Command forwards on the left towards my Koptas and centre unit of Boys.  We were fighting under the Night Fighting rules on turn one (the Orks suffering a barrage of smoke from the Cavalry lines in preparation for the charge)
Rays first troop of Lancers charges my Nobs and Warboss - the Boss's armour seeing off the charge and the Nobs munching the Lancers in return - First Blood to me.
I threw my Koptas towards his ST Platoon Command on the left flank, my twin linked Rokkits corkscrewing off into the smoke and doing no damage - and the ST seeing off my charge with Krak Grenades (they had higher initiative so went first).  It looked at this stage like it was better to be charged than the charger!
Ray advances towards my Boys on the left flank, line abreast during the second turn.
My Orks await the next charge in the centre
My poor Kans saw one of them being immobilised by a stray Lascannon shot, and then the unit was wiped out by the charging, Melta Bomb wielding Hussars.  I did take one down on the way in with my Kustom Megablaster.
Ray sweeps his Command around the left, and the second troop of Lancers to the right, ready to pincer my Nobs and Warboss between them.
On the right, a unit of Storm Troopers sweep past my Boys, heading for an objective, while the Platoon Command and Hussars drop half the unit to well placed Hot Shot.
The scrum kicks off between the cavalry and my Nobs
While the Boys on my right flank cop a pasting
Lances levelled, the cavalry ride in
With Ray's higher initiative, some of my Nobs are dropped
These are the dice rolls for the 5 man command and the Lancers (this was after suffering the Hammer of Wrath impact hits as well) - the red dice are the Colonels power maul - the green for the Lancer Sergeants sword.  Although Ray was rolling bucket loads of dice, my high Weapon Skill (including the buff from Da Lucky Stikk) and high Toughness was meaning he wasn't getting many wounds on target.
The combat finished up like this - I thrashed the Lancers (even with their save and Feel No Pain), and took the command squad down to the Colonel - who promptly used his Hit and Run move to break combat and back away.
At this point the game was a tale of two sides - in combat Ray just couldn't cause enough wounds to bring down my Nobs - being high toughness and two wounds, and able to dish out a lot of punishment of their own when it was finally their turn to retaliate.  My other flank though was crumbling with Ray able to outmatch me with his movement, shooting and follow up assaults.  He was maximising the use of an order to convert his rapid fire Hot Shot carbines to twin linked assault weapons which meant his Storm Troopers (Heavy Dragoons) were able to soften up my Boys with shooting and run the rest down in combat.  I had no answer to that on the right flank.  In hindsight I would have been better dropping the points investment in the armour save and reinvested those points in adding bodies to the units.  Weight of numbers would have tipped the balance in my favour I think, or at least allowed me more time to recover some other units to aid that flank.

After the messy combat with the Nobs, I split my Warboss off to chase down and assault the Veterans (Hussars) who had destroyed my Kans.  Da Lucky Stikk helped me out in this combat, getting me some crucial re-rolls when I needed it enabling my Boss to munch the Veterans without much hassle.  The remaining 1.5 Nobs also managed to chase down the Colonel and do him in for the loss of the previously wounded Nob, and a wound from the final Nob.
Here's my Nob teebagging the good Colonel - Ray and I are quite juvenile sometimes.  Slaying the Colonel though earned me another victory point for 'slaying the warlord'.
By this stage it was getting late and I was needing to wind up and head off.  My force had been reduced to the Warboss and solitary Nob (with only a single wound) lurking in my top left hand corner, and the unit of Grots holding the solitary objective claimed so far (this picture is from  just before Ray wipes out the last of my boys in the centre).
These Grots died miserably to a brace of Acid Grenades launched by the marauding Hussars.
A later than normal start time, pregame banter and general jibber jabber during the game itself meant that both Rays and mine, and Dales and James' first games went over time.  At this point of the game I called it - My Warboss was not going to be enough to see off the balance of Rays army on his own.  My other commitments meant I did not get chance for a second game.  

Ray volunteered to play against both the boys in a 2 v 1 match up, and his general jamminess seems to have stuck with him, seeing him win that game in an 8 points to 7 end game - I assume he will post about it over on his blog at some point.  It looks like it will be James and myself v Ray and Dale at the next catchup at mine in a few weeks.

My final thoughts on his home brew were that some more thinking was needed on the order system as right now it seems too powerful a bonus to already good (relatively) units.  Ray in some cases was able to dominate all three phases of the game.  Visually, he also outnumbered my force (recognising my points allocation across my force and upgrades chosen was not ideal) which doesn't sit right if the idea is that my force was a horde and his a small specialised detachment.  I did talk to him about enforcing some form of limit on the number of specific unit entries chosen.  He had two units of Lancers, two units of Veterans, two units of Storm Troopers, and only a single Dragoon unit (standard guardsmen squad equivalent).  His force was nearly all 'elite' and no basic troop.  This meant each unit was already accessing a number of special rules, and then getting buffed with yet more if an Order was successfully passed.

Bottom line though - it was extremely fluffy, extremely well modelled, and at some point when he finishes it all (like I'm one to talk), will be extremely well painted.  It was a really characterful army, and it was a good outcome from a narrative sense - the mounted charge seeing off the low tech, foot army.  Would I play it again - definitely.  Would I take my Orks - not in that list configuration ;).  Lets see how they fair against my Wolves Ackland!

Cheers all,

Muppet

Saturday, 4 October 2014

052. Gaming with Ackland and James (Pic Heavy)...

Today, taking advantage of the long weekend, the beautiful weather, and the loving missus who gave us the day off parenting, I got together with James and Ray (Col. Ackland) over at Rays place to pursue that most grown up of pursuits - playing with toy soldiers!

Ray had a free weekend and I took advantage of that (having missed the last scheduled gaming day with a sick missus and kid), jumping at the chance to throw some dice around.  In correspondence during the day before, Ray had established that he would field 2,000 points alone, while James and I teamed up with a 1,000 points each to take him on.  I brought miniatures and lists enough to field any of my Orks, Space Wolves or Ultramarines, knowing only that James was taking Imperial Fists.

When I got there and saw what Ray had laid out, and what James' list contained, we agreed I'd run my Wolves, the Orks and Ultramarines lacking in any meaningful heavy support - while Ray would be fielding a force of Necrons which included two Monoliths!!!!
See!  TWO Monoliths!  EEK!
Ray was using FW IA13 - the Fall of Orpheus, and one of the special characters (a 200+ point beast), fielding 3 large (15 Cron) units of Warriors with Cryptek support, two units (which would prove to be a gamble lost on Rays part) of Flayed Ones (he would have been better with a single unit of 20) and three units of Scarabs.  Ray also had a Cryptek with some kind of instrument of doom - a Harp of Dissonance for those playing along at home (cleverly modelled as a Violin on the figure).
Ray's Uber-Lord of Doom
Uber-Lord of Doom (Right) and Violin playing Cryptek (Left)
Particularly tricky buggers to deal with - Scarab Swarms are definitely worth their points

Three x 15 Cron Warrior blobs with Crypteks - ACKLAND, I never asked why one unit is blue?

Flayed Ones built using a very clever Cron and Tomb King bits mash - both of these units proved difficult to destroy due to rubbish dice performance, though they would have been stronger if rolled into a single unit

James had a nice force comprising two full Tactical Squads in Rhinos, a Combat Squad with Heavy Bolter, a five man Assault Squad (sans packs) in a Drop Pod, a Vindicator, a four Las toting Devastator Squad (with some extra plebe meat shields) and a Techmarine who would bolster a set of ruins.

I supplemented James force with two full Grey Hunter packs, a Dread with an Auto Cannon, a pack of Long Fangs (we discussed this squad throughout the day - I don't think they are effective enough for their costs and in future will trial replacing them with a Predator kitted out to suit whatever the game requirements are), and a Wolf Lord on Thunder Wolf with three Thunder Wolf Cavalry in support.
Bit of a rubbish shot of James and my armies - blocks of troops is what I like to see
Across all armies, there was a solid grounding of troops forming the back bone and mainstay of the forces arrayed for battle (something I in particular thought was fantastic - the common troop seems overlooked more often than not in most on line lists you see), with only a smattering of 'elite or specialist' units to bolster the line.
The now traditional pre-game cheese shot with Ray
Ray had set up a cracking board for us to fight over - including a set of what I imagined as Crusade/Post Scouring era Imperial ruins, with a newer Mechanicum/Adeptus Bioligis lab network established on site to study some recovered alien archeology/archeo tech in the form of some of Rays WIP Necorn Temple scatter terrain.  I supplied the ruins, whilst Rays Battle Systems Kickstarter terrain set gave us a great lab set up.
Fantastic Battle Systems terrain set up as a secure lab complex to study recovered Xenos ruins
Looking down the table Ray set us up on
And across ways

The other lab building - storing more Xenos ruins for later investigation

Fittingly the game we rolled was Purge the Alien - Ray was out to wipe the Imperial facilities and their defenders from the face of the 'tomb world' and recover the lost artifacts, while Imperial Forces needed to see of the newly risen Necron threat.  James and I won deployment and first turn, and Ray failed to seize the initiative.  I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.
James leads the charge - setting up on our left flank - his Devastators, Combat Squad with Heavy Bolter and Techmarine deploy into the bolstered Ruins, along with my Long Fangs
The balance of  James' army deploy as a Quick Reaction Force in their Rhinos, together with the Vindicator.  I'd deployed my two Grey Hunter packs into the storage building, with the Thunder Wolves in the centre behind cover and the Dread on the far left flank
Ray deployed a Scarab swarm, one of his Cron units and a Monolith on each flank.  His violin player perched on the top of the ruins mirroring the Techmarine James had placed in the ruins on the opposite corner
He kept another unit of Crons with his Lord of Doom in the centre, with one pack of his Flayed Ones
The other pack of Flayed Ones deployed behind the Fire Base on our left - not sure why one of them has wandered off from the pack (bottom right corner)
The Monoliths had me worried - I hadn't played against one in years, and I hadn't expected lots of AV14 - this would be interesting
Turn One was a slow burn with both sides fluffing around moving units into better positions to square off against opposite sides - although I did snipe the Violin player with my Long Fangs - he duly failed his 'we'll be back' roll
The Flayed Ones in the centre hadn't been placed very strategically and started taking hits
James Drop Podded in his demi-squad of Assault Marines who wasted no time laying some flame on the other Flayed One pack
Lurking under the gantry of the Fire Base - Ray's done a cracking job with the bits mash on these
The Rhinos have both edged out to see whats about and the Vindicator makes itself known with a good shot on the centre unit of Flayed Ones
Half way through turn one my phone died so I had a gap in my pictures - after a quick charge it was back to functioning - just in time to record my casualties from Rays shooting - the Monolith on my flank had made itself known
Ray had been unsuccessful with a lot of 'we'll be back' rolls
James had lost his Drop Pod to a swarm of Scarabs and a couple of his Assault Marines to the Monolith on his flank
Turn two saw me advancing further out of our zone and towards Ray's line
The view from the Monolith - Those Scarabs were a bugger to shift - we stayed locked in combat for two full turns (four fight phases)
Looking out over Rays centre - I had an eye on his central Cron unit housing his Lord - My Thunder Wolves would make short work of those for sure I thought to myself
Or not - I was a sad panda
I fell foul of the initiative steps and interplay with the assault order and challenge rules - meaning my Lord made it in to challenge Rays Uber-Lord, striking second due to his Frost Axe being 'unwieldy', and my other Wolves loafed about on the sidelines
Ray was a happy panda - but not for too much longer
Ray and I both fluffed the combat between our Lords, leaving them locked, and my Thunder Wolves free to consolidate in the next turn.  James had had more luck on his side. taking out the Monolith on his flank with the Devastator Squad
Ray used the remaining Monolith on my flank to bring his unit of blue Crons who had been muffing about in the central lab all by themselves into play.  Nifty things those Monoliths
Shazam - with a nonchalant gesture, 15 more Crons for me to worry about
Rays Scarabs moving into contact with a Rhino - it won't end well for the Rhino.  Meanwhile the Flayed Ones have gotten into contact with the left over Assault Marines - another combat that would go on for a number of turns
Rays central unit of Flayed Ones move towards my Long Fangs.  We ended up with units bogged down in slow combats all across the board.  Even with the massive volume of dice we were rolling, we consistently muffed 'to wound' rolls or successfully passed wounds that were caused
James' Tactical Squad was forced to emergency disembark from their Rhino after it was dissolved by the Scarabs
Smack - My Lord lays the beat stick down on Rays and then successfully sweeps the unit of Crons he was hiding in.  400+ points gone in an instant.  This seemed to be the turning point - Ray having lost one of his Monoliths, and his Uber-Lord of Doom as well as a big chunk of his Flayed Ones and Crons
Now I'm the happy panda
I bring my cavalry down the board, with a Grey Hunter Pack moving in behind to support - ready to roll on the next unit of Crons
James is about to lose his Vindicator to more Scarabs, but not if his second Tactical Squad has anything to do about it.  At this point Ray demonstrated his grasp of mathematics to us - whats 10 - 3 again Ray?  6 is it?
The Devastators, Combat Squad and Techmarine (who wasn't as effective this game with his Conversion Beamer) hunt for targets while my Long Fangs slog through another round of combat with some Flayed Ones
Take that Ackland - Smack, Biff, Kapow - showing how it's done, Wolf style
Dum, dum, dum..... Ray makes the 'we'll be back' roll for the Uber-Lord of Doom - It all starts coming up Ackland
Insert evil laugh here
And then he makes more successful 'we'll be back' rolls and the tide slowly turns
Ray is slowly (oh so slowly) bringing the Monolith on my flank into the centre lane - that and the unit of blue Crons has already seen off all but one of the Grey Hunters that had finally stopped the Scarab Swarm (centre left), as well as doing for the Grey Hunter pack I had been bringing in to support the cavalry.  James' Devastators were slowly chipping away the Monoliths hull points, but Ray had been jammy with his cover saves, and the Techmarine was having no better luck
Rays Uber-Lord wades back in
My last Grey Hunter lets out a howl and charges back into the fray - he takes 36 shots of Gauss and Cryptek shooty stuff on the way in - the last one gets through his armour - 35 other shots missed, failed to wound or I made a save - one bloody dice roll failed and cost him an epic saga if he'd made it in
This is Bob the Flayed One - Bob eventually killed off the last two Assault Marines, and then led a Tactical Squad and Rhino on a merry chase while pretending to be trying to secure the 'linebreaker' objective.  What Ray really planned was to let me and James think we were being smart and tactical while we worked out how to to claim Bobs scalp (or metal head or whatever) and thus another victory point, when really he knew all along he was going to be teleporting Bob through the Monolith to the opposite end of the board to hide him in a corner, thus saving himself a victory point, and being clever at the same time
How this combat between my Long Fangs and a couple of Flayed Ones went for so long I don't know - eventually I triumphed, but only after I knocked the same Flayed One down a few times, and lost two Wolves to him when he inevitably got back up
Ray manages to kill my Lord with his Uber-Lord (I finally took a wound and fluffed my invulnerable and 'feel no pain' roll [Warlord Trait boon]), thus gaining the 'Slay the Warlord' objective and another victory point.  He can't make much headway against my cavalries Storm Shield invulnerable saves.  I wish my Lord could 'get back up' - jammy git
We called it after five turns (we wouldn't have got a sixth turn anyway based on the after action hypothetical dice roll) as I needed to go home to the kid.  The Monolith was down to one hull point and was about to see a whole lot more Las.  Bob still lurked behind the ruins (that white spot at centre bottom of the left hand black ruins)
We ended up tied at seven points a piece.  Playing out the hypothetical 'what would the sixth turn have looked like?' - we agreed the Monolith probably would have fallen, and James' two Tactical Squads could have penned in Rays blue Cron unit for long enough to whittle it down with Bolter fire.  Would my Cavalry have been able to see off the Uber-Lord and the last remnants of the second gold unit - I don't think so.  And Bob was still cowering in the corner denying us the victory point.

We have talked about trying to set up a campaign to play through - maybe building of one in the IA series - between Ray and I it looks like we have the full collection.  Even if we don't get around to that, we will definitely be playing again - next time should be at my place where with luck the forces of the Imperium can wage a stronger fight and really wipe the floor with those Xenos scum!

I really enjoyed myself, and hopefully the lads did too.

Cheers all,

Muppet