Friday, August 27, 2010

Skirmish Gaming

I've been somewhat obsessing about Skirmish gaming of late outside my Legends of the High Seas and Lord of Rings SBG interests. While I really enjoy the rules for these games, they occasionally get a little "busy" and I started thinking about other rules sets for other genres of gaming. Initially I intended to just modify the core skirmish rules that both LotHS and LotR use.
Early this summer I built my "Skirmish Dungeon" , built primarily with High Seas in mind, however I knew it would be fun setting for any kind of generic skirmish games. I've been wanting to do a "low fantasy" (think 1st ed D&D) warband type game that incorporated characters that could advance..without too many pre determined stats.I like to stay away from too many RPG elements but wanted enough to reflect the setting and a limited resource type game that I love.

An atypical Dark Elves warband for SoBH as I will run it, the Drider will probably just be a dungeon monster there are 6 other Drow still being painted. Dungeon Games will run around 500 points, Dark Elves a bit more expensive than most average 30 points for a Soldier to 80+ for a Hero type.

Some quick research and back link to the great "lead adventure forums" turned me on to Ganesha games and its Songs of Blades and Heroes rulesets. simple, with an interesting mechanic it still only uses a D6 and was about perfect for what I looking for. Essentially each figure has only 2 statistics with a variety of special rules are either inherent or learned, its open ended enough that its very adaptable to be used how you like it.

my WotC Umber Hulk from 1999, I love this model.

Given I have a pretty substantial fantasy miniature collection going way back to when I was kid, I figure I'd put all this together and do something fun. Since I have ton of terrain already, I've started going thru old sets of figures and picking out figures for various types warbands and Dungeon monsters, the last month or so I have been painting a bunch of them up. I have a couple of two player scenarios laid out that involve using the skirmish dungeon, where you play against each other and the dungeon simultaneously. there is a certain board game element to it
where I'll have some cards you draw that trigger events or dungeon residents, not unlike the new FFG release of Dungeon Quest which I have and will also be talking about eventually anyway, I'll continue to post photos of some recent works here as well as some narratives from the playtesting..hopefully all this month.

L to R, Drow Ranger, Drow Soldier..."City of the Spider Queen" by WotC 2002
Drider, by Grenadier, 1980,- Drow Cleric, "City of Spider Queen by WotC 2002 and Drow Soldier by Citadel 1985. Note the scale on these stands up pretty well, all the figures work together. This is a rarity.

Having run a day long Legend of High Seas Campaign last year and In order to facilitate the planned Legend of the High Seas event at Adepticon 2011, I know some changes have to happen to make a 4-5 hour event run smoother, the campaign systems of LotHs while great, doesnt lend it self well to a 4- 5 hours event with maybe 30 mins between rounds reconciling increasing stats per round over 8-10 teams and redistributing the stats each round is hell on the T.O., so some modification is in order, potentially increasing the gold to buy your team and/or picking one advance per round or submitting pre selected advancements that you can check off should you live and qualify for them or just running the same (but more advanced team) over 4 games. I don't know exactly where I am going yet, but I want to use play testing with other skirmish gaming to solidify how I want to run this High Seas event and to most of all make it fun. Sort of using "B" to get to "A" if you will I'll of course update this all as it happens

The Chainmail era figures by WotC are great and still available at reasonable prices, the last decent miniatures WotC made before moving over to low quality pre painted plastics.

Skeletons by Otherworld

The torturer fellow is the "harvey psycho" chronoscope model
by Reaper, Reapers GW+ scale prevent too much mixing with older
figs but I have lots of Reaper stuff.

Anyway, you all get the idea...I'll update when we throw down with an actual game.
oh and all minatures bases seen here are by Back 2 Base-ix

Thursday, August 26, 2010

WFB 8th Ed Analysis- Beating Yourself Up.

Nothing is quite as interesting or annoying (depending on your POV) then facing off against your own army in Warhammer Fantasy Battles, continuing in the flavor of my posts this month, I’m finding playing against myself, in this case.Empire vs Empire (two games now) To give both a new perspective on the game and my army.

During 7th edition, while I certainly didn’t mind the occasional “one-off” I certainly loathed facing another Empire army in a tournament- something that happened more regularly than I would like. The meta game had it standards and even if it was a softer event certain iconic units we mandatory as well as even the basic army setup and play style.

Now with 8th edition, once again all that’s out the window. While I still play my Empire Army In the spirit of what I think an Empire army in WFB is supposed to look like and with the bell and whistles you’ll need in a tournament. My friend Jeff has no such limitations and looked a 8th as an opportunity to push the envelope of 8th edition with Empire.

Last Tuesday we got together for the same narrative type games we’ve been running. pre set terrain-.a large village encompassing the full 4 x 6 with the exception of the deployment zones. Since I had a watchtower, we used “The Watchtower” scenario from the rule book and made three of the forests on the table mysterious.

The Lists

Empire, Talabecland (Me)

General, Armor of Meteoric Iron, The White Cloak, Crown of Command, Pistol , GW

Wizard Lord, Shadows. Seal of Destruction, Talisman of Preservation (4+ ward)

Captain, BSB, Full Plate, Mounted, Sword of Strife

Warrior Priest, Holy Relic, Mounted, GW


30 Swordsmen , FC War Banner

30 Free Company FC

30 Flagellants

10 Handgunners x 2

5 Knights with Musician, Lances

5 Knights with Musician, Lances





Steam Tank

Empire, Altdorf (Jeff)

General, Biting Blade, Full Plate, Shield

Wizard Lord, Level 4, Lore of Life, Dispel Scroll

Battle Wizard Level 1 Lore of Beasts

Captain BSB, Razor Standard

Master Engineer, HLR.


60 Spearman FC

Detachment 30 Swordsmen

Detachment 30 Swordsmen

Handgunners 10, Marksman HLR


30 Greatswords FC,

Detachment 15 Halberdiers

Detachment 15 Halberdiers

5 Pistoliers, Champ Repeater




Helblaster Volley Gun

Radically different lists, I spent roughly 200 more points on Characters with one less character than Jeff. His list topped out at over 200 models mine was around 130…that's a lot of extra kills I needed to do, Jeff’s huge blocks could a take a lot of punishment In both the magic and shooting phases and still have plenty of fighting power. I made the mistake of trying out the Lore of Shadows attempting to nerf his troops, big mistake

Mainly because my magic dice were horrible only generating above 5 dice once in 6 turns things like Pit of Shades are only mildly effective against this many troops..I never did manage to pull off getting a “Miasa” off lower and units Initiative then hitting it with The big template “Pit of Shades” much harder to do than it sounds.

The game played out like so, I started with 10 Handgunners in the watchtower. Jeff pushed on both flanks, I won the my left flank, he ended up winning the right. Some bad luck had my Flaggies in a “Venom Thicket” T1, causing me to lose 5 right away. Great luck with Mortar gave jeff 4 bullseyes’ out of 6 with mortar which hurt me terribly reinforcing that Mortars are best 75 points in the game. While I had great luck with my Cannon eliminating Jeff’s Cannon and Helblaster by T3, I couldn’t hit the mortar and it punished me all game. My Stank got hit by his Greatswords ASAP..but low D3 rolls on the grinding..forced me to put my Free Company into the melee. My swordsman unit failed to block a detachments counter charge with a bad charge roll allow the detachment to join the fray, unsupported by magic, (no help from Shadow) they did some kills but I took too many casualties and routed, the Stank holding the Greatswords in place.Inevitably the Stank, and Greatswords tied each other up all game. A detachment of Swordsmen, inevitably stormed the tower, securing Jeff the Victory..while almost 100 Empire infantry filled my right flank. Late game I managed a comeback, killing his Wizard Lord and Great Swords..and thinning out the infantry considerably but I had nothing that could dislodge the Swordsmen in the watchtower. On points I only lost by 138…so it was a pretty close game.

Conclusions are apparent, Lore of Life is about mandatory for Empire if you are only running one wizard, be wary of too many toys in your army I spent lots of points on toys That inevitably didn’t matter or never came into play..Jeff took barely any toys in favor of mass infantry, and beat what should have been a superior and more flexible force. Bodies matter, model count is important don’t think the days of running low model count armies is not at all realistic in 8th edition, maybe High Elves can pull it off…but that’s about it. And finally the magic phase, ye who controls the magic phase controls the game It was the same in 7th and while the mechanic is different is 8th, the adage is the same. Since I am preparing for our local Core Competency tournament coming up here in about 4 weeks and then the North Star about 1 month after that, I was glad to play this game as it gave me a new perspective on running my own army. Definitely some things I hadn’t considered before came to light and its is only because I played against my own army. So don’t be so hesitant those mirror match ups, you never know how it might change your own perspective in 8th edition.

I’ll be moving away from these WFB commentary posts the next few weeks in favor of some other games, and some new models I’ve been working on. Keep an eye out for a full on 8th edition Battle Report, I am primed to do one I just need the right game and two painted armies- its in the que.

In scoop/rumor news I can report that the next WFB army book Is Orcs and Goblins and not Tomb Kings or Ogres as we hoped, O&G looks like its getting a big boost in putting bodies on the field cheap and big bump in magic With a retool of “Waaagh” magic and access to at least some of the standard lores.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

WFB 8th Ed. Analysis- Adjusting Tactics

It goes without saying that WFB 8th ed is a radically different game, well radically different in respect to the rule changes have completely change the way some armies are played. A perfect example is my beloved Empire. I recently wrote about how I was scratching my head when I took my first lost of the edition against 60 Chaos Warriors led by a Daemon Prince. While my pal Aaron brought his Warriors to the table for two games Tuesday with slightly augmented lists, the majority of the tactical change for both us came in the magic phase.

It's become clear to me that the Magic Phase has replaced the movement phase as your primary set up sub phase for every turn. Part me wishes the rumor had come true and the magic phase was first in the turn order..that certainly would have put an interesting spin on things. With things being what they are I am looking at the magic phase totally differently. In 7th Ed I would basically use the magic phase to mainly throw out some sort damage spells and hope to thin out what ever I was shooting at. Now its become my force multiplier, meaning when the majority of your troops are S3, T3, you need augments to make them better fighters or your opponents weaker. In my initial game I continued with my previous choices of the Lore of Life and Lore of Fire, life for its buffs and healing, Fire for its damage. This time I used some the great synchronicity between Life and Shadow, to really change the game up.We all know "The Dwellers Below" is great spell against my fellow toughness 3 troops but it wasnt so good against Chaos Warriors, especially ones bumped up the Strength 5 by a Warshrine..but how about hitting a unit of Chaos Warriors with "Dwellers"after hitting them with Lore of Shadows , "Enfeebling foe" reducing there strength with a good roll to "2", say goodbye to 21 of 30 Warriors..thats one hell of spell chain. Using Magic to attempt to disable my opponents strengths, (in case WoC's brutal fighters) so they were on equal par to my rank and file or simply no match for things like Inner Circle Knights or the Steam Tank was really the key to victories. It wasn't that unit themselves that performed so well, it was the conditions I created to make them perform well.

Warhammer is 7th Edition played like a traditional Rock-Paper-Scissors with Dice...meaning I'd have "X" units of various strengths, that I would maneuver into position to take out opponents units that with average dice would lose to the stronger element. However in 8th Edition this new magic phase takes pleasure in now changing the conditions, often when you least expect it. Example, I have moved my Rock into combat with your Scissors..however my Rock just got irresistibly turned to Paper!. While this of course existed in 7th Edition its much substantial as result of way dice are generated and used per turn, not to mention the changes in all the spells.

With the Magic Phase is more powerful, abet differently, this now opens the door to also use your shooting differently. In the past I'd rarely set up shooters for concentrated fire..I using small units to protect my flanks or artillery from smaller harassing units, saving my Artillery for the big monsters or uber units. with the Magic Phase so aptly changing conditions for infantry or shooting ot just flat out making things go bye, I find the aspect of concentrated mass shooting combined with new artillery rules equally as punishing...While 30 Shooters is generally nothing to sneeze at, 30 shooters, a Cannon Rank punching, followed by a mortar pie going to inflict a world of hurt.

Its not that these tactics didn't exist in 7th edition, they of course did. I just find myself using them differently and with a new appreciation. Similarly in the close combat phase every army has at least one Big Baddie, while I have had alot of success manipulating, through magic, average or slightly above average units into elite units at the right time, nothing is quite as satisfying as dropping your big baddie on the table and its actually being big baddie it supposed to be. While I had serious reservations about the Steam Tanks effectiveness in 8th edition versus it cost, its becoming T10 has changed all that.While tough for people to deal with in the past its now truly terrifying, While I've gritted my teeth having a a Lord on Dragon race unstoppably thru my army in the past knowing my only counter was ineffective after 1/3 of wounds were gone and you were only a bad die roll away from doing it yourself if you tried to shoot it..having the Steam Tank be able to "take a lickin and keep on tickin", hell you can even heal the thing now.

Finally scoring changes have adversely changed my tactics when you start trying to tabulate the final result I find myself having to chase down that last model more often than not as not getting half points for unit radically changes how I now go after troops. I must analyze every combat past the break point, to how I will finish a fleeing the unit completely off , a lone cavalry model or handful of rank and file can keep an inordinate amount of points on the table if you give them the chance both my games the other night we much closer than they appeared do scoring changes. I find myself using things like my Pistoliers completely differently than I used too.

While nothing I say here is particularly new to those of you that have studied the game, I just find myself bemused by the fact, I could play an army for 3 years with borderline average success, to now winning 11 of my 12 games with the new edition and find myself playing my old army complete differently, or least looking at it with fresh eyes. While the power curve with 8th Edition has dramatically increased, which is something I normally wouldn't be supportive of. I am finding the payoff's to be substantially greater, the "anything can happen" factor has noticeably increased, and the end result being just plain fun..what more do you really want from a game? The downside is my Lizardmen who were all psyched to be out on the table are sitting around half built. I really want to give them a go and see my Stegadons thunder stomping around the table. My drive to get a new Army on the table was strong, The problem is I did get a new army, its just the one I already had.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

WFB 8th Ed. Analysis- True Line of Sight

Hyperbole is often like shooting yourself in foot.

There's much hooplah out there in the ether about WFB 8th editions new "True Line of Sight" rules. I've read both silly and hyperbolic commentary and also been involved in some serious thought provoking discussion.I'd be lying if I said the new Line of Sight rules have not come into play in some of my games so the subject needs addressing.

All the drama revolves around two issues: The Literal: what the model can see, what it cannot and what cover does the target get, if any. And the Abstract: willful modeling abuse by people who'd use the rules to gain some sort playing advantage. While the douchery of the latter should be limited to tournaments and is valid concern. Modeling now has new caveat other than WYSIWYG. Reason and even logic should suggest that creativity in the hobby not be punished by these new Line of Sight Rules. So, how do you put all this together and take an objective look at Line of Sight in 8th Edition Warhammer?

Let's start out by reading the new rulebook, or better yet a shout out to the verbal application of one of my favorite acronyms "RTFM!" page 10 of rulebook under "Line of Sight" states;

"For one model to have line of sight to another, you must be able to trace an unblocked line of sight from its eyes to any part of its BODY (i.e. the head, torso, arms or legs) of the target."

"Sometime. all that will be visible of a model is weapon, banner or other ornament he is carrying. In these cases the model is NOT visible. Similarly, we ignore wings and tails, even thought they are technically part of a models body. These rules are intended to ensure models dont get penalized for having impressive Banners, swords and so on."
(Bold emphasis above mine,)

For starters- this is pretty cut and dry. One should be able to discern what is and what isnt visible given the above..Your Daemon Princes Wings sticking out from the behind the watch tower or your wizards staff extending straight above his head over the cav models in front of him dont penalize you as far Line of Sight goes. This goes a long way in creative modeling.

The ambiguity comes into play when you start getting creative about basing. Your Warhounds jumping over a 3 inch high rock bases so you can have a movable LoS blocking wall is pretty much crossing the line..while my wizard on 1 inch base, yes does get additional height to see over intervening infantry see but he can also be seen .In my opinion that falls into the line of acceptability, as it puts just as much risk as it does reward on the table. Similarly I have friend who put all his Waywatchers into model trees on 40mm bases..the models are at least 4 inches off the table..looks cool- great- 7th edition 8th edition, not so much. is 4 inches too high? the risk vs reward is there, I have no problem with it..but someone could..what's appropriate when it comes to basing? there is no clear answer.

As far as the practical application of what models "see" what. Some issues that have come up in my games: Elevated units of shooters on a slope that are in the path of fire on another unit of shooter who are on a high elevation..yes they are in the way-, however they are elevated and can see more that half of the target..Soft cover?, Hard Cover? no Cover?.. The cover rules, while clear do not go into that kind of detail, even something as common place as half of a rank and file unit being behind a wall and half not is not mentioned.

In my experience so far and various discussions about this, Line of Sight issues are relatively minor and easily resolved with a simple discussion and at worse a Jervis style "dice off". However we can't escape the pitfalls with Tournaments that inevitably lie ahead.

TO's are going to have to be conscious of modeling abuse. If something looks to be designed to manipulate line of sight..for instance if I show up with my Empire Cannons now based on 6 inch towers, "who needs stinking hills anymore right?"Then the event judge will have to make the call. If something slips through the cracks into your game, that you dont like , Sportsmanship or Favorite game votes are your last recourse to keep your opponent in check. These aren't the kind of finite solutions people like- I am aware, its just what GW leaves you with

Of course all of this could be fixed with simple intuitive system that takes into account models
sizing based on base size and special rules to determine "what" can see "what". Lo and behold on the Warhammer Forum we find THIS.

Systematic Line of Sight:

Skirmishers: All skirmishers have x/0. This means that they use their normal Troop Type for determining what they themselves can see or be seen by, but other units treat them as having a value of 0 when drawing line of sight through them. Infantry that skirmish would be 1/0 for example.

Large Targets: Other Troop Types that are also large targets (such as a Large Target Chariot) always count as being Large Targets for Line of Sight purposes.

Troop Types:
0 Swarms
1 Infantry
1 War Beasts
2 Cavalry
2 Monstrous Cavalry
2 Monstrous Beasts
2 Monstrous Infantry
2 Chariots
1/2 War Machines
3 Monsters
3 Large Targets

0 Forests
0 Rivers
0 Marshland
0 Obstacles/Fences
2 Hills (per level)
2 Buildings (per level)
2 Impassable (in most cases)
? Arcane Architecture
? Monuments
(? will be specified where applicable)

Hills: Units standing on hills add the hill's value to their own. Cavalry on a one level hill have a value of 4 for example.

Obstacles: A unit in base-to-base contact with an Obstacle can see and shoot past it with no cover penalties.

Buildings: Units garrisoning buildings add the value of any upper levels to those drawing line of sight from the upper levels. 10 Infantry in a two level building would have a value of 1 for the five in the lower level and 3 for the five in the upper level for example.

Cover: If you shoot at a unit while there are intervening troops between the shooter and the target, then there is a hard cover modifier applied. If the shooter is on a higher level hill, or on the second or above level of a building, then this hard cover modifier is ignored unless the intervening troops are also on the same level of hill or building.

Large targets can never claim cover from such intervening troops.

A pretty simple intuitive system if you ask me with little (if any) ambiguity. a revelation for running a tournament for end running potential issues..As you can see in the thread I link to they are talking about making SLOS or TLOS the players choice in the mentioned event.

Once again creative minds end run Games Workshops continuation to make its flagship games less and less tournament friendly despite the demand for such from its customer base. Ultimately I see" True Line of Sight" as minor hiccup in the grand scheme of 8th Edition, as a strict implementation of the rules as written with a smattering of just "not being a douche" solves 95% of the problems.

As far as tournaments are concerned if the above will not suffice with your crowd..then a house ruled "Systematic Line of Sight" based on the above should do the trick..if not, then you're best served just grabbing the nearest fire hose, turning it on the crowd and calling it a day.

Big props to the Warhammer Forum, for staying at the very top of the game with the issues that matter. I'm going to try to keep up the pace on these pragmatic viewpoint articles covering various facets of 8th Edition play. Trying to keep it real and not let hyperbole blow your foot off is always a noble quest. Some things are never as big a deal as the internet makes them out to be so don't let them "kill your game"

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Couple of Slugfests.

Club Night 8/3 -Plastic Legions HQ

I played two great games of the new Warhammer Fantasy Battle 8th Edition last night, both games were 2400 points and I played the exact same Empire List posted below on 7/21. My friend Chris ran his Tomb Kings (again list posted below) while Aaron ran a new version of his Warriors of Chaos list. Going along with new flavor of the rules we set up the table as a scene, and we did use mysterious terrain for several items on the table both Watchtowers had different effects, the was a charnel pit as well as one Wildwood.

Game 1 Empire vs Tomb Kings

A knock down drag out bloodbath...Chris misjudging the power of the Flagellant horde plowed a wall of chariots into my Flaggies but with Initative 2, the Flagellants destroyed the entire unit except for the king before he could strike back. Tomb Kings magic raised some hell with me...I was unable to keep any bounds spells going..and while I had "The dwellers below" it was turn 6 before I got it off. I hard time with the Catapults my cannon rolling poorly on wounds and misfiring it. my Fire Wizard didn't do much either. my Mortar racked some big kills against the TK's T3 troops and I had some problems with one big block of 30 skeletons with a Tomb Prince that broke and killed my Free Company and Wizard..overunning into my BSB and his knights where a bad set of rolls, had me losing combat, breaking, even with the re roll and getting caught. on the upside my General and his Swordsmen smashed in to the tomb guard who held for a round..but I gambled and ran my Inner Circle Knights thru the Wildwood and into the Tomb Guards Flank. While I only lost two models in the woods it was more than enough to obliterate the Tomb Guard..and send my Knight overrunning across his rear lines. Late game
I managed to finish the Skeletons, get my captured banners back while my expensive units crushed the Tomb King the End a great game, The Empire slew the Tomb Kings to a man and I still had around 800 points on the table.

Game 2 Empire vs Warriors of Chaos

At this point I was undefeated with Empire in 8th edition but Aaron had my number with this list

Daemon Prince, Level 3, Lore of Heavens
Exhalted- BSB
Exhalted- Uber fighty guy

30 Warriors FC
30 Warriors FC

2 Chariots

5 Chaos Knights FC

only 70 models to my 150, I thought I could do ok, but I must tell you whatever genius was out there claiming the Empire was the best 8th Edition Army, obviously forgot Chaos Warriors. It doesnt surprise me because in competitive gaming Chaos Warriors were all but forgotten or token filler in 7th Ed Warrior of Chaos Armies.

I couldn't do anything to those units of Warriors...I tried dual charge on one block of warriors in Horde Formation with my Knights and Flagellants..the Flaggies where short on the charge with a bad charge roll...The Knights in alone won the first round but Aarons horde was steadfast and didnt Knights got slaughtered on the bottom of turn I got my Flaggies in there..buffed to T5 from Flesh to Stone...I killed plenty of Warriors, but with extra hand weapons in horde he had 22-28 attacks per round they ate me my Flagellants quick. I had my Lore of Life Wizard with Renewal and "Flesh to Stone" nearby and was using "Regrowth" but in that situation it wasnt replacing enough models to make a difference.

I shot up his knights pretty badly killing two before he charged my Generals block..there was a weird situation where I screwed up and his Unit champ challenged and I stupidly had my champion except. My champ gets killed, the Knights due around 10 wounds total to strike backs kill both other knights but I General still hasnt gone and cant strike the remaining knight because he's in the challenge and I lose on combat res and break. I do rally and come back and kill the one knight but it threw of chance to engage the other block of warriors on 2 sides. Oh why didnt I accept that challenge with my General? , it was unlikely he kill me and I probably could of gotten the 1 wound I needed to kill him and wipe the unit...STUPID. Anyway I killed both Chariots, the Knights. captured there standard and did two wounds to the Daemon Prince..(who hid a cast spells all game that I shut down pretty hard..he was a non issue, although I tried hard to kill him at 500 point Aaron just got lucky on the 5+ saves. at 500 points I should have tried harder to kill him.) I had killed around 15 Warriors in one Horde and maybe 10 in the other. Mortar wasnt doing much S3 vs T4 even with lots of bullseyes was doing avg 3-5 kills...Cannon was useless guessing 6" away I was short x2 , short /stuck in mud, misfire /dud, misfire/ Kaboom...bad rolls. My dice were less than stellar across the board in the end he had 1269 in Kills to my 500 something.. A tough tough game!, two blocks of 30 Chaos Warrior are two giant movable brick walls not sure how I handle WoC with that kind of build, potentially the Steam Tank, more offensive magic ...I'm scratching my head on this one
great game Aaron!.


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