Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Campaign Report: First Blood

Our Players


Justin Cunnane: Chixl's Warhost (Lizardmen)

Jason Pierson: Waaagh Blackfang (Orcs & Goblins)

Louis Mule: The Murderous Legion (Dark Elves) 

Josh Affrime: The Horde of the Scorched Cauldron (Ogre Kingdoms)

Steve Stiefel: The Roving Province of Sigmarheim (Empire)

Rob Hawkins: Skryre Lord Skreekits' Lightning Engineer Cult (Skaven)

(You'd think we were having a contest to see who can come up with the longest army name!) To see more about the players and their armies, check out last week's post.

When we left our intrepid generals, the headquarters of the Roving Province of Sigmarheim was under attack from Waaagh Blackfang:



Another thing worth pointing out on the map is the collision of Lou's Dark Elves and Josh's Ogres in territory 55. Their armies are allied, and obviously didn't coordinate their orders very well. Josh opted to yield to the Dark Elves and Hold on the road instead.

The reports have come in from the front– Steve's Empire have successfully staved off Jason's Orc attack. Jason learned firsthand the folly of attacking an Empire gun line in a fortified position with a 150 point advantage. His Orcs retreated, for the moment.



In the following turn, Jason ordered his banners to fortify their positions and moved his reinforcements forward. I strategically planned my Skaven's banner maneuvers to capture as much territory as possible in subsequent turns.

Josh moved his Ogre banners down the road. Allied with the Dark Elves, they are enveloping the territory of the Lizardman. Lou sent his legions forward, launching two attacks against Justin's Lizardmen.



The two battles were: 1000 points of Lizardmen vs. 1000 points of Dark Elves, and then 1300 points of Lizardmen vs. 1200 points of Dark Elves. Because of the small size of the games, Justin and Lou were able to play them back-to-back the same day.

The reports indicated that Lou underestimated the all-around toughness of the Lizardmen; he was able to throw out a ton of Strength-3 attacks, but it was all for naught against the high-Toughness Lizardmen. Combine that with a lot of bad luck (despite the ungodly amount of re-rolls that Dark Elves are entitled to) and you've got one lost battle. Justin's Bastilidon held up Lou's Hydra long enough to flank it with Kroxigors for the kill. The battle turned into an all out rout after Lou's Witch Elves were broken by a unit of Saurus warriors.

The second game was much closer, but two failed Stupidity tests cost Lou his Cold One Chariots. Lou tried to take advantage of his superior shooting but, playing a little too conservatively, he'd only brought two bolt throwers and 10 crossbowmen. Next time the gloves would be off!

Both games were massacres; The Dark Elf banners were annihilated. Lou barely had enough territory to reform them back at their headquarters. If he lost any more, his realm wouldn't be able to sustain three banners, and he would need to dissolve one.

Here's how things looked at the end of turn 6:



Te Skaven and Orcs are quickly gaining territory as the other realms fight over their close proximity. The alliances are still in effect (Empire & Lizardmen; Ogre Kingdoms & Dark Elves; Skaven & Orcs) but would they last?

'Til next time!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Map Campaign 2014, The Players

The map campaign I've been longing for is finally underway. Five of my friends and I have marshaled our forces and are ready for war! We are using the Border Princes campaign rules and map from the General's Compendium, an awesome supplement produced way back during Warhammer 6th edition.

For anyone unfamiliar with the campaign rules, here is a quick breakdown:

Each player has a starting headquarters territory and one "banner" representing an army. As they amass more territory they gain additional banners, at the rate of one extra banner for every 3 territories controlled. New banners spawn in the player's headquarters at the end of the turn.

In a campaign turn, the players issue orders –in secret– for each of their banners. Banners can be ordered to Move into an adjacent territory, Hold in place, or Fortify in place. They can also Raze territories to make the land useless to other players, or Recover a territory that has been razed.

The fun part (for me, at least) is seeing everyone's orders revealed on the map each turn– Playing a clever game of cat-and-mouse, trying to anticipate the opponent's moves and attack where he will be weakest, or consolidating my own banners to fortify against an upcoming assault.

Whenever a banner moves into a territory containing an enemy banner, or if two opposing banners move into the same unoccupied territory, a battle occurs and a game of Warhammer is played. Adjacent, friendly banners can help support, by adding 10% to the army's point value. The winner gains control of the territory, and the losing banner must retreat.

Our campaign will run for 20 turns, at the end of which victory points will be awarded for how much territory everyone controls. There are also a number of special territories that are worth extra points and have special rules during the campaign.

The Players


I asked everyone to put together a blurb about themselves and their armies, so, without further ado, let me introduce the participants:


Jason Pierson

"I've been playing some form of orcs for almost 18 years now. going back to late 2nd edition 40k, and 5th edition fantasy. Before that it was the Blackblood Orcs of the game Chronopia and way back before that it was when I started painting the orc figures from my copy of Heroquest. Growing up a Tolkien fan, I always had a soft spot for the penultimate antagonists. Morthak has always been a named character in all of my iterations of orc/ork armies through the years. He also ended up as my main in WoW. He's kind of become my green alter-ego." 


Waaagh Blackfang

(Orcs & Goblins)

The Spinesnappa Clan toiled about through history as nothing more than a nuisance to travelers and small villages. Their survival comprised mostly of the few scraps they could could scavenge and plunder in the wastes. Their relative isolation saved them from being pummeled into the fold of other, more prominent orc tribes.

The destiny of this nondescript clan would be forever changed with the coming of not one, but two orcs. One of them was a powerful conduit of the orc god's magic, and the other was a violently truculent beast with a peculiar mark that would become his namesake. These two would be remembered by scholars as Zargoza the Green and Morthak Blackfang, respectively.

Morthak and Zargoza started their lives no differently than any other among the Spinesnappas. However during a particularly distant raiding excursion they became caught up in a chase that would take them far from home, Their warband refused to relent until all were dead and pursued tirelessly until they found themselves the only ones alive in unfamiliar lands. Through the cunning of Mork and the might of Gork, they carved out an existence among the mountains and deserts. There they encountered tales of mighty orc armies and the destruction that they wrought. It became clear to them that this was the life a proper orc was to lead.

With that they made the journey back to the lands of the Spinesnappas, intent of starting a waaaagh of their own. What they found filled them with disgust. Lowlife scavengers and opportunistic plunderers abounded, and not one seemed to thirst for anything more. Bellowing with rage, Morthak stormed into the heart of the camp and began laying about in a bloody avalanche of rage. Orcs that cowered were butchered mercilessly, those that fought back felt a long forgotten instinct rising within them. Soon more than half of the tribe lay dead, but those that stood, swore their fealty to Morthak with the promise of more bloody carnage to satiate their now revived bloodlust.

So it is that the Spinesnappas have renamed themselves in honor of the large, black tusk that marks Morthak as a chosen vessel of Gork, and march to conquest behind he and Zargoza.



Justin Cunnane

"I play Lizardmen because they are so awesome! Dinosaurs riding Dinosaurs? Where do I sign up? Take my money, please! The true reason that drew me to the Lizardmen are the ridden and unridden monsters, their pure magical firepower, and their rock hard Saurus blocks. They're a tricky army to play, but can be very destructive in the right hands. I have been in the hobby for over 15 years, but am a more recent comer to the realms of Fantasy, being primarily a 40K player since the inception of 3rd edition. I'm excited for our campaign with old friends, and I'm sure it'll be a blast."


Chixl's Warhost

Lord Chixl, Venerable Slann of the Tomb of Gold, has guided his forces across the great ocean to the land of the border princes. The ancient plaques have been further deciphered, and for reasons only known to the Lizardmen, they have moved a great warhost across the great ocean. It is known that Lord Chixl's force hails from the Northern Lizardman temple of Hexotal, located on the Isthmus of Phaux. These Lizardmen are known as enemies of the Dark Elves, and it's no coincidence they have arrived within close proximity of the raiding force of the Dark Elves.



Josh Affrime

"It has been a long time since I have played WFB and getting back in I wanted an army that I could potentially paint well and that might look cool. Plus stompy killiness is fun."

The Horde of the Scorched Cauldron
(Ogre Kingdoms)


The Horde of the Scorched Cauldron streamed out of the dusty mountains intent on plunder and the rich savory cuisine of the borderland marches. Led by the Slaughtermaster Kaga his nephew the Butcher Sakai and the dread Firebelcher Masahiko. They shall burn all they see and serve it with a fine wine!



Rob Hawkins

"I took up the mantle of the Skaven because their play style is completely different from my Vampire Counts. They run off the battlefield at the drop of a hat, and have a lot of shooting and wacky machinations that will either work perfectly or fail spectacularly. The army presents a lot of opportunity for unique conversions as well. I always get a kick out of running map campaigns– Seeing allies formed, and the inevitable betrayals that result.  Coordinating banners for support is key to winning the campaign, which means grabbing as much territory as possible!"

Skryre Lord Skreekits' Lightning Engineer Cult


Skryre Lord Skreekits and his cult of lightning engineers have been toiling ceaselessly in the depths of their Under-Empire. Warp-fueled abominations and war machines are ready to be unleashed upon the Old World. 




Steve Stiefel


"I’ve been playing Empire since their big relaunch way back in 6th Edition. Back at Gamesday in Baltimore in 1999, I saw a preview of the metal Engineer model armed with the Hochland Longrifle held by an imp. I was hooked! When the new boxed set came out my buddy and I did the whole “buy two boxes-I’ll take the Empire, and you take the Orcs” deal. My Bretonnians, Wood Elves, and Dogs of War were immediately put on the back burner, (sounds familiar, right?) and I furiously began amassing my Empire army that quickly rose to over 2000 points in just a little over a month of non-stop modeling and painting.


"These days, that army started so many years ago has grown to over 10,000 points, fully painted, with a few thousand more in various stages of completion. This is actually representative of the Empire’s greatest strength– versatility. The map campaign gives me the opportunity to draw from my great selection of models that are as varied as the many different foes that I’ll be facing over the next few weeks."


The Roving Province of Sigmarheim


Pious and powerful, yet arrogant and rash, bristling with a power of faith unseen in even the most notable of the Sigmarite creed, a young warrior priest named Albrecht Hexenjaeger, set forth from Altdorf many years ago with a single purpose in mind– to raise an army of the faithful the likes of which the Empire had never seen. Unburdened by the Emperor’s tempered hand and the bickering politicians, unshackled by the constraints of the Church of Sigmar, he would take it upon himself to reclaim the lands that had fallen into the hands of the enemy. The evil. The weak. This would be done in Sigmar’s name, and His alone, as foretold by the twin tailed comet seen above Albrecht’s boyhood home and the voice in his head all those many years… 



 Louis Mule


"I started playing dark elves in 5th edition because they seemed most similar to my 40k eldar army (this was before they created the dark eldar). Also the background story of the elf civil war was always one of my favorite bits of warhammer lore. This campaign will be a good motivation to paint some of the newer units like Doomfire Warlocks and Kharibdiss."


The Murderous Legion

(Dark Elves)


A lone raven flies over the Druchii encampment and lands on the slender arm of Etienne Kinslayer, sorceress and twin to her brother Katienne Kinslayer . Her dear brother is "general" of this host he calls his Murderous Legion, but she is clearly the clever one of the pair. The scroll tied to the raven's foot has news about the results of her brothers latest tactical ploy. She ponders if she should pass on the information to the general or make some minor alterations first.

Born on Death Night and to lowborns did not help their prospects for glory, but their unprecedented victories in the Witch King's Murder Games made them the talk of Druchii noble society. Sponsorship and slaves were heaped upon them. Famed generals all vied for their enlistment but the Kinlsayer twins would not fight for another generals glory. Malekith, in a rare gesture of amusement and whimsy, ( and to humble his other generals a bit ) raised the Kinslayers to nobility and granted them rights to invade and conquer of the Border Princes in his name.



Deployment and Initial Turns

After meeting to discuss the rules over drinks and dinner we were ready to get started.  Only a few minor tweaks were necessary to bring the rules in line with the current edition and iron out a few rough spots.  Since some of us were starting new armies, we also set the points on a sliding scale, to incorporate a slow-grow aspect.  Starting out, banners represent 1000 point armies.  At turn 10 that increases to 2000 points, then 2500 points at turn 15.  

Next, we selected our headquarters territories, and got rolling.  As you can see from the deployment map, the Skaven were isolated in the Northeast with plenty of room to expand.



The first few turns flew by, as everyone moved out from their headquarters.  A few failed difficult terrain rolls aside, everyone had expanded enough to gain an extra banner or two.  The Orcs' special rule allows one of their banners to attempt a Force-March, potentially gaining two territories on its own.


Alliances were also swift in coming– The Dark Elves and Ogre Kingdoms have allied, as have the Lizardmen and Empire. The Orcs and Skaven have agreed to ally, split the map in half, and then fight it out once the others are defeated!


In turn 5, however, things got interesting. The Orcs were multiplying quickly, and made a beeline (squigline?) straight for the Empire's headquarters. 



Steve would have his hands full, but HQ territories count as Fortified, and combined with the Empire's special rule, his army would have a bonus of 250 points and extra defensive fortifications. It would be 1250 points of Empire vs. 1100 points of Orcs & Goblins.

Once battles start occurring, this is where campaign turns start to slow down. Rather than just emailing orders, players need to schedule their battles and play the games. I'll be posting updates as the campaign progresses, and I hope you'll follow along.


By the way, losing one's headquarters doesn't mean they're out of the campaign; the player has three turns to recapture it, and can't generate new banners until they do. Hopefully Steve can defend his headquarters and stay in the game!

'Til next time!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Whistle While You Work

For a while now, I've been meaning to do a post about what I listen to while I work, so here goes. (Note that a lot of the podcasts contain horrifically explicit dialogue, and may not be safe for work, or human ears in general.)


I'll listen to movies sometimes, and they are always ones that I've already seen, so I don't need to look up to follow what's going on. Films with a lot of dialogue and/or music are best. Blade Runner is my go-to flick; I think I've listened to that more times than anything else. I've got the "Final Cut," so I'll run it back to back, cycling through the three different commentary tracks. Nixon, JFK, and Platoon are also in regular rotation, and Oliver Stone provides some great commentary on those, as well. Glengarry Glen Ross and Heat are great too. I could listen to Al Pacino read the phone book. "Johnson, Michael. Three-four-two. Nine-oh, FIVE! FOUR! Whoo-ah!"

Red Letter Media
Redlettermedia.com has a lot of great video reviews, the most famous of which are probably the "Mr. Plinkett" Star Wars Prequel reviews. I've listened to those countless times, and they're actually more interesting (and well thought out) than the movies themselves. If you're a fan of film in general there's a lot of insight into the film-making process, too. The site has a lot to offer in that regard.

Wargaming Podcasts

When movies and Pandora Radio get too repetitive, I turn to podcasts. They're a great window into the outside world while I'm locked away in the basement cutting strips of plastic and gluing them together for hours on end.

I've listened to a handful of gaming podcasts over the years and the ones that are overproduced, or focus primarily on list building and game meta lose my interest pretty quickly. Here are a couple that I'm currently enjoying:

Game Classy
A great source of miniatures news and commentary. I've been listening to this one for a while. They talk about a little bit of everything from miniatures, to board games, card games, and RPGs. I'm always looking forward to it, and while they often get side tracked it's entertaining and, most importantly, funny. Steve and Joe can't put this out fast enough, in my opinion. Fortunately they have sister podcasts like Play On! and Comic Book Logic.

Gamer's Lounge
This one's a recent discovery, and pretty good so far. I'll have to check out their back catalog. Recent episodes have focused on Wild West Exodus and X-Wing with some interesting game play overviews. Their new feature Designer's Corner sounds promising, as well.

If you have any recommendations for interesting, funny gaming-related podcasts post them in the comments. I need to find a good Warhammer Fantasy podcast; most of them seen to be 40K and Warmachine centric.

Other Podcasts

Some of the non-game related podcasts that I enjoy:

Tell 'Em Steve Dave
This podcast has been around for a few years and it's the only show from Kevin Smith's Smodcast network that I've stuck with pretty much from the beginning. Hosted by the guys from Comic Book Men, it's always funny.

The Podcast Eating Contest
Regrettably, this one is now defunct, but with over 80 episodes, it's always fun to go back and listen to the olde shows. It ranges from inappropriate musical numbers, to movie commentary tracks, and comedic skits. Funny stuff. I miss having new episodes to look forward to.

Bigfanboy Livecast
This is a (sort of) weekly podcast that focuses primarily on movie reviews, but delves into all things film, comic, or otherwise "geek" related. It's recorded on the Talkshoe network, so if you catch it you'll be able to listen live or even call in. The show has been running for over 300 episodes and Mark keeps promising to end it. Enjoy it before it's gone.

We Hate Movies
My buddy Chris just recommended this podcast, and it did not disappoint. They discuss classic movies from the 80's and 90's and carefully recount, scene by scene just how awful they are. (Despite the title, they really do like more of these bad movies than they hate.) I think my favorite episode so far is The Principal. I've never heard anybody enjoy watching Jim Belushi getting the living crap kicked out of him more than these guys. And they just put up an episode featuring the Dolph Lundgren epic Masters of the Universe. I know what I'm listening to tomorrow!

'Til next time!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Terrain Tutorial: Simple Stairs

For this landmark 100th post, here's a terrain tutorial!

If you've ever wanted to add stairs to your sci-fi terrain, you have a few options. First you could use molded styrene stairs from a company like Plastruct.



The stairs work perfectly for miniatures gaming, but the the largest size is only about 1.5 inches across. That's fine for 25-30mm bases, but not quite wide enough to accommodate larger-based models.



The second option is to scratch-build them. I'll show you a simple way to make stairs with some basic materials.

What you will need:

Styrene strips (1.5mm wide x 12.7mm thick)

Styrene rod (1.5mm square)

Steel ruler

Rafter square


Hobby knife

Cutting mat

Super glue



Building the Sides

Start by trimming the ends of the strips at a 45 degree angle. If your cutting mat has 45 degree markings, use that as a guide. Otherwise, you can use the rafter square (see below).



To evenly space the steps, mark the strip at half-inch increments. This will make each step approximately 3/8 inch high. That's a little high for steps if you're thinking of them in true scale, but it's not terribly out of scale and , more importantly, will allow miniatures to stand on the steps.



Using the rafter square, draw guidelines at each mark.



Remember to "mirror" each side of the steps, so the markings will be on the inside.



To set the height of the staircase, fit the strip in place and make a few marks to indicate where to trim.



Trim the side and dry fit it in place. Here you can see that there is a little bit going under the ledge, and the top was trimmed even with the frame. This is something that you will need to adjust, based on the surface you are adjoining the stairs to. Make sure you fit both sides separately and adjust for any slight imperfections in the construction. If in doubt, cut the piece a little large, and then shave off little bits until it's snug– Better to work gradually than take off too much and end up with a piece that's too short.



Both sides are ready for the next step. (Heh, get it?)



Adding the Support Rail

Super glue the square rod along the guideline. Set the step below the line, not above it. The end at the front of the step should be about 1.5mm back from the edge, so it won't stick out from under the step. This detail isn't too important, as the rails can be trimmed later.



Cut the rail at the back, even with the edge of the side.



Repeat this process for each rail, and use the guides on your cutting mat to keep everything square.



Add the rails to the other side, and then it's time to cut the steps themselves.



Making the Steps

You can make the steps as wide as you like. I've cut these to 2.25 inches, plenty to accommodate a 50mm base. As with the previous steps, make sure your cuts are square, and that the measurements are precise so everything fits together evenly. 



Start by gluing the bottom step to one side. Align the top of the step with the edge of the side.



Here you can see the spacing, and how the support rail aligns with the edge of the step. If the rail is too far forward, it can be trimmed flush with the step.



Add the rest of the steps, trying to keep them as vertical as possible. 



When the glue has dried, apply a bead of glue on top of the opposite support rails. Place the two halves together. If your spacing is accurate, everything should fit perfectly. Otherwise (like with mine) you may need to push the steps into place a bit. 



Once both sides are dry, the steps are ready to attach to the terrain!



Super glue them in place and distress them a little by cutting notches with your hobby knife.



As I said, models (even larger-based models) can stand on the steps– perfect for maintaining accurate placement when a model's movement will only take it halfway to the next level.



This type of construction is great for metal stairs and they can be painted with metallic colors and washed with P3 Bloodstone to simulate rust.



I always strive for terrain that's playable and takes model placement into consideration. And these simple stairs fit the bill perfectly!

'Til next time!