Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Grey Company, Expanded

So I wrapped up getting my Grey Company complete to 600 points this past weekend. I added 10 rangers and the eagle Gwaihir to the list as well as the new display base extension. While that certainly is Aragorn above he's not in the list he's just proxying one of the "Rangers of the North" I need for the list, if I added Aragorn it be almost 800 points. My list is pretty simply: Gandalf the Grey, Gwaihir, 5 Rangers of the North, 20 Rangers (10 w/spears) 27 models with break point of "14" of course breaking is semi-irrelevant as long as Gandalf is alive and there haven't been too many games where the big "G" had been killed before the games very end.

Of course I am well accustomed to the fact by know that this list isnt particularly competitive but it is fun. The Eagle adds a new dynamic as its move "12" and defense "8"..Gandalf while awesome always needs support, when engaged against other beefy heros..I can't go hand to hand with Str 5 attack and last for long. The Eagle is great for going after other heros to either soften them up or kill them outright, also quick enough to get back to support Gandalf as well.

Gwaihir, Lord of the Great Eagles

The whole display with the 10 man add-on for the new figures

Not much more I can do with Grey Company, other than add some characters like Arathorn or Halbarad, I recently picked up a box of Warriors of Minas Tirith and probably do up a bunch of them and have a more well rounded Gondor force. I've been fiddling with my Cirith Ungol for a bit as well, a good couple days of painting and I have 600 points, but that included running Shelob. Anyway its Bilbos Birthday Bash for these guys next weekend, If I get my act together to take a personal vacation in February to attend GitD, it might be these guys or Cirith Ungol. Do yourself a favor pick up a hero blister and a army box and go play this game. I'll be sure to do a write on the event when its concluded with 22 people paid points its over triple last years attendance! It would be really ironic if the event gets close to Core Comps shoddy numbers from this year. LotR SBG going head to head with WFB in a tourney body count 2010???? Not sure what to make of that, but someone upstairs at GW probably wouldn't be happy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Talking yourself off the ledge

Despite the ominous title, it's not that serious and a purely rhetorical post here. I'm well aware I have not had an update in a couple weeks. I've been working on polishing up my 600 point Grey Company force for the Bilbo's Birthday Bash tourney coming up in a few weeks I've been working on few odds and ends here and there and seriously need to set up the photo studio and post some new stuff, I do have lots, its just combination of overall hobby malaise and being extra busy.

Something's in the air here ever since Core Competency and even slightly before I have been a funk over 8th edition WFB. Don't get me wrong I do like the game, certain things I like much more than 7th edition. I just think after almost 4 years of constant Warhammer it's natural that eventually you get that "meh" feeling, and then when your biggest/favorite local tourney has a 50% turnout reduction and its like pulling teeth to get our usual rock solid TO to post the final results, almost 3 weeks later! You got to figure somethings up. It also didnt help the previous tournament back in May didn't post results either and as far as I am aware people still havent gotten awards. So with creeping malaise going on all around me it sure doesnt help me move my new lizardmen army along.

Games Workshop certainly doesnt do themselves any favors by doing second waves of model releases now, before another army book. GW really needed to capitalize on 8th edition and get some new books and updated model lines out to cash in on the interest with the new edition. I am unbelievably hearing March 2011 for the next book and it's Orcs (being playtested right now)...IF thats true GW really has its head where the sun don't shine, while "supposedly" Tomb Kings and Ogres books have been ready for awhile...and where are those Empire Knights I keep hearing about, instead we are looking at Skaven second wave, one containing a Abomination? a bit soon I'd say especially for all those folks that made custom ones, and have barely seen the table for a season.

GW's horrid management of its own lines aside, the general funk I am in got me thinking about my friend Tim's post from early in the month regarding the highly underrated Lord of the Rings SBG. From the commentary there it seems people seem to have the opinion that the 'lack of customization" seems to be culprit. You'll have to excuse me but as for all but the most fanatic that's a wheelbarrow of horse dung. With most robust alliance rules of any GW game and at least of half dozen different models of every major character..you've got a slew of options in both list and modeling options, plus the plactic figures, while not at the level of GW's flagship stock are still way better than say the current Wargames Factory plastics I have boxes on boxes of that I struggle with for Warhammer Ancient Battles, and basically just as convertible.

Personally I see attention gap coming from the games narrative. Both 40k and WFB are open narratives meaning while there is plethora of background information and stories, and even a current timeline, the narrative is flexible nough that just about everyone interested can find their "special" place within of what interests them and create their forces accordingly.
Games like Lord of the Rings and even Warhammer Ancient Battles are closed narratives meaning the books, models and events operate on a historical perspective. LotR really just operates as 3 chapters of fantastical history novel. In the end Boromir is still dead, Aragorn is still King and Sauron is destroyed. I find the parallels between WAB and LotR interesting because currently playing my Saxons, I fight the same battle more less every week, its 1066 and I am fighting Normans..or hypothetical Arab invaders or 9th Lost Legion of Rome reborn making it military comeback.

Obviously WAB is about the battles and the excellent ruleset more so than getting hung up on the narrative. LotR is special because it has both rules and narrative, the tools are there for you to create whatever scenario you want, with whatever forces you want it doesnt have to be a replay or the movies or books. So I think the games biggest stumbling block is really a matter of perception or even perspective. (Keeping in mind Sci-fi regardless is just more popular than fantasy.) To its credit GW is digging in deeper with obscure new releases that get into the books more than movies, I expect a big shot in arm for the game when "The Hobbit" film gets released expect 28mm Battle of the Five Armies, "War of the Ring" style for sure.

As to the "what does it take" question in the end I think it takes the same thing it takes for any game to gather attention people to be out in public place playing with awesome looking terrain and models..that is what attracts people to any game..in short for an experiment..I may drag myself, 2 fully painted armies and some awesome terrain over to my local shop and get some SBG games going and just see if drives any interest..until I get my Saxons painted to where I can stand looking at them or WFB gives me a big shot in arm..seems like a good goal..of course I still have host a 10 player Legend of the High Seas event at Adepticon next year, there is alot to do there. Photos soon I promise!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bilbo's Birthday Bash

Next up for me is Bilbo's Birthday Bash, a great local tournament for GW's red headed step child otherwise known as The Lord of Rings Strategy Battle Game. Taking place November 6th and 7th, I originally was signed up to make the weekend trek to Minneapolis for the North Star for WFB, but life, the wife, the kids and the business, made traveling away for what amounted to 4 days for Warhammer, not an option. Given that my Saturday and Sunday day time were free, I got the hall pass and BBB is on. Upped to 600 points and only one army this year, (as opposed to two 350 point armies, last year, one good, one evil) My Grey Company with Gandalf the Grey is return with another 10 Rangers and the Great Eagle, Gwaihir. With a break point of 14, I am sure I'll get my arse handed to me at 600 points..but its fun army..and while I've lost alot a games , actually most games are very close, and the great eagle is surely to be a real problem for my opponents. I should note, after my horrid luck at probably my last 3 WFB events, the law of averages says I am long overdue for some luck breaking my way in a tournament, so I am optimistic. I am working on the new models right now, pictures of additional models and my expanded display are coming soon

Speaking of the Lord of the Rings, SBG..I'd like to point out a great recent post from my pal Tim over at Cursed Treasures, titled "what does it take" Tim laments the inability to keep this game relevant amidst the volume of 40K, and WFB and to an extent its sister game WotR. A great post and I sympathize. Finding people to play LotR with is like pulling teeth..even thou most folks I know agree it's a great game, with fantastic models, a very low cost entry point, and some great local events every year. Let not forget the years premier LotR event Gathering in the Desert out in AZ, a great excuse to get out of Chicago in middle of grey and cold February, Once again I certainly plan on trying to get away for the weekend and be there!, fingers crossed this time it will work out. If you're local and have an interest in throwing down with LotR SBG, definitely
shoot me an email.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Core Competency meets 8th Edition.

Just some final commentary on the weekend, This being my first actual tournament of 8th Edition..It probably relevant that while a great event I should talk about the impact that 8th edition has had on the game when it comes to tournaments. There are definitely some issues that will likely need to be addressed in the future. Core Comp is a rarity in that its a fun social event and people tend to bring softer lists to, its not smashface competitive Warhammer and its also not a very expensive event to attend. Some of the issues I am about to talk about are drastically magnified by the cost of a "GT style event" ( entry fees, housing, travel expenses) and what people expect as far as the competitiveness of the event.

Attendance this year at Core Comp was basically 50% less than last year..the event had grown, grown and grown every year only to be bushwacked this year with huge attendance drop. My own observations conclude this is due to 3 things. First and foremost 8th Edition. At least a dozen regulars who have consistently played in local events over the last several years, were absent. Of course they could have "just been busy". however I get the feeling through forums and general conversation that an 8th Edition tournament malaise has struck the community. The website for the event also need a major overhaul, lack of updates and not working with anything but IE, doesn't exactly motivate people to travel from out of town, it could have also deterred people from attending because if you didnt know better, the lack of an updated site, could lead you to conclude the event wasn't happening. Finally holding the IL/WI team challenge close to the Event was a horrible idea..because you had a dozen players many of whom who had attended Core Comp in the past, just here the previous weekend, and WI also lost-a definite buzzkill to make the follow up drive for another tournament the following weekend. So low player turn out based on a new edition, and some local /advertising factors, then the following 8th ed. specifics on the event.

Time: contrary to popular or GW marketing belief, The game does not play any quicker. This is a myth. I too thought the game seemed to play much quicker, but after 30 games and a tourney, its simply not the case. In a tournament setting with the increase in points, rules calls, and more methodical and calculated game play, its seems 8th edition actually takes longer.. 2.5 hours a game was not enough time, I had games end on turn 4, 2 games ended at 5, and just 2 going 6...I am not a slow player, and have never been accused of being a slow player and I felt like .we were rushing every game, since 3 hour games.are not realistic tournament figure..there is only one thing to do and that is lower the points to 2000. a tough pill to swallow for alot of us...but its just the reality..if you like only going 5 or even 4 turns and losing then lamenting, "well if I only got my full game in" then I guess you dont care..but I would guess that if you are paying hundreds of dollars to travel and play in an event like Adepticon..you want to get your full game in, period.

Scoring: 8th edition scoring per the rulebook for tournments will simply just not cut it, if you want anyone but the diehards to show up and play. Not getting points for fleeing units at the end of the game or scoring any points for half units is simply not acceptable in even a marginally competitive event. Again this was ok for Core Comp..but at an event like Adepticon..if a half dozen people had games like I had in rounds 2 and 4, there would be gamer outrage on the loose in spades, and no one wants to pay money to watch that kind of drama. While this type is scoring is fine for book dictated scenarios and thematic battles..if you going to continue to mine the 7th edition tourney format..you have to return the old scoring rules.. This doesnt effect the new rules themselves and would create a better perception of fairness. Its either that, or you have to change to games from pitched battles to scenarios that reflect the new scoring ( either by using the rulebook scenarios or something else the takes thematic nature of 8th edition into account.)

Composition: Other than 900 points of Core requirement , there was no Composition requirement, other than ranking your opponents comp 1-5 on the Sportsmanship sheet at the end of the tourney. Being a long time supporter of Composition, it may surprise some of you that its pretty clear to me at this point, most of 8th edition does police itself in regard to composition .There are some outstanding issues with Magic and Shooting, and maybe a generic item of two (power scroll) Some of this could fix itself but lowering the points. I should say that everyone in all my games seemed to be a well balanced affair..there were a couple "lets see what I can break" type armies out there. (example 2- level 4 mages, + 80 shooters). Special Characters were this time allowed with the exception of Greater Demons, again the jury is out on Special characters for me until you can justify they are equally costed to their generic counter parts, you have to be skeptical and since some are clearly not..banning some but not all just isnt fair...so you are just better off leaving them off the table. I do think when we start talking an event with 150 players..some form of 8th Edition Comp is going to have to rear its head.

Sportsmanship- as illustrated at Core Comp this year, and still applicable across too many events. Can we please stop ranking people 1-5 in Sportsmanship?..all of my opponents were great sports and I would gladly have anyone of them to my house for a game having to rank them in order 1-5 from best sport to least is a total insult to both myself and them, and not even remotely accurate. Since you are already asked whether you would voluntarily play them a again on your results sheet. (so if you get a no vote, you'd get dinged) there is no point is this exercise. Sports need to be eliminated in favor of Favorite Opponent..pick you top 2 and the guys who get the most votes wins with ties being broken by least battle points easy and effective.. this isnt a tough one..I keep waiting for this system to be accepted as the norm, yet we continue to see the same old point giveaways and arbitrary meaningless crap.

I write this I am pretty Warhammer'd out..so this month I am working on several other things, with the exception of maybe one game, after that I can reboot and start thinking about Adepticon2011 where I'll be running an event Friday ( Historical- High Seas) and playing in WFB

Core Competency, Day 2.

10/3 @ the Chicago Battle Bunker

Day 2- Dice were at 10:30 am sharp the following day as we continued rounds 4 and 5.

Game 4 vs Jeff B, Lizardmen- Loss

Slaan, 2 Scar Vets (1 a BSB) two big blocks of Saurus, two triple krox skink packs, a Stegadon., 2 Salamanders and Skinks, First time playing Jeff, good guy and player. I was basically controling the flow of this game, and his own dice where shutting the magic down until the very end. I did make one fatal error the ended up costing me. With the Stegadon tied up with m General and Swordsmen..I knew it would take me two turns to get enough wounds to clear unless he failed his stubborn cold blooded, which he didnt. I decided to charge my BSB out the Free Company (as they where too wide to fit) and over to aid taking down the Stegadon but the angle I was at caused my BSB to meet the tail end of the Stegadons base , I thought he would slide up but the judged ruled he was stuck at the point of impact. ( I later found out that I could wheeled at lot more for free and got him where I wanted, my bad for not knowing the rules well enough) Anyway where he met the Steg, allowed and and entire block of Saurus to Charge him alone and he was killed....this allowed the Saurus to overun into my free company breaking them and they eventually got run down but a lone salamander with one wound. I had some other tough breaks especially not being able toe with the Stank..and leaving 1 damn Saurus model in the other unit of Saurus with his Scar vet...in the end, the ended after turn 5 again running out of time. Still a tight game, Jeff gets off a strong magic phase late and it hurts me bad. The games ends and the difference is 165 point Jeff's way, I lose by 65 points!..my Battle Standard alone gave him 100 points and...., that unit of Saurus that had 1 model left in it at the end of the game was worth 360 points, plus the single Salamander with 1 wound stil worth his units full 150. IF we had gotten the 6th turn in, it was extremely likely I would have picked up over 500 points and the win, but again an 8th edition FUBAR loss...Jeff was a great opponent thou...it is what it is.

Game 5 vs John W, Dark Elves.- Win

Dreadlord, Master BSB, 2- Sorceress's (Lv 2) 39 Warriors, 20 Warriors, 19 Corsairs, 10 Crossbows, 5 Dark Riders x 2, 20 Blackguard, Hydra.
I think I have played John's Dark Elves with my Empire probably a half dozen times in tournaments since 2007..I think we had one Draw...other than that he has always managed to Squeak out the win...This was a strong match up for me because he didnt have a real counter for the Stank, (no RBT's) shooting and magic aside..I had to give up my Flaggies and Knights to take down the Hydra, but I did kill and ended up crippling his Corsairs that supported got tangled up in the wild wood and taking a lot of shooting, with his harpies wiffing and getting killed in hand to hand with my Mortar crew, I had no pressure from either flank, which makes the game alot more controllable. There was a building in the center of the table that was a haunted house per the rulebook and you had to hold that as the objective. John had his Blackguard bunkered up in there all game which was fine by me as the were not a threat to my infantry and were slowly taking losses from the Haunted House and my Artillery. My Stank got in with his 39+ Spearman and DreadLord...They could not put enough wounds on the tank to be effective and then I got my General and Swordsmen in there as well and they splintered...A couple miscast from his Sorceress, left them each with one wound, I picked one off alone with a gunshot..the other survived. A the bottom of turn 6, I charged my Free Company into the haunted house with the Black Guard who were almost all gone after a bad round of dice from the haunted house and his BSB took a ton of wounds and failed enough ward saves to die...I took the building, score 2000+ VP for me versus 900 ish for John...and I got full Objectives..a good way to close out the event...John's probably my favorite tourney opponent we always have great games, I was just due this time.

So I wound up 2-2-1, not at all bummed out by my result because my Draw and 2 loses could have very easily been W's if I got to finish the game or just had a bit of luck on the die roll,so it goes..that's Warhammer.
On to the Awards!

While final scores aren't posted, I know I managed to score 63 out of 84 potential battle points, if my appearance and sports scores are anywhere near normal, I should have definitely gotten a top 10 finish.

(edit: with final scores posted here I actually got 69 BP, my paint being tied for second, and my sports at 19/30 and Comp at 19/25. I knew with the Stank I'd take comp ding and a 19 is higher that I thought I expected a 14 or 15, my Sports is lower than I thought expecting 21-24 range..not sure what that means..my opponents liked the Steam Tank better than me!?? In reality I had three really close games where things can get a little testy so you just got to roll with it..again I must reiterate how bad having to rank people for sports sucks. Anyway...7th overall was my best showing yet.)

I did win the runner up in players choice category (for favorite army) which was nice. Winning the silver bunny trophy and certificate.
I had already won Best Appearance at Core Comp 2008 so I am not eligible until I bring another army. That award went well deserved to Brian H whose High Elves can be seen in a previous post here., Player's choice and Best Overall went to Dennis G's whose Slanneshi painted WoC are always a top contender in all categories and can been seen here and on many of the WFB forums..finally congrats to Alex N winning best General going 5-0! and my pal Steve for winning the award..for scoring the least amount of points in a game 66!! while getting tabled..despite that game Steve still had a strong showing winning 3 games.. Huge props to Alex G the organizer its about the most professionally handled and run as a gaming event can be, which is a good thing as Alex is running the WFB action at Adepticon next year.
Once again Kudos to everyone for another great event here in Chicago!.

Core Competency- Day 1

10/2 @ Chicago Battle Bunker

Core Competency 2400 points w/ 900 point Core requirement 5 rounds

Game 1 vs. Jeff Wood Elves - Draw
Two Treeman, 60 Glade Guard, level 4 mage (Lore of Life), level 2 mage,(Fey Magic) Wood Elf ,10 Dryads, 8 Wardancers Glade Riders. obviously shooting took its toll...Got the Steam Tank ran the Dryads off the board early and got charged by one Treeman early but it broke with one would left and I couldn't get the last wound for the points. The other treeman never got into combat as I played chicken with it with my knights. I did my infantry line across the field quick getting into those 6 glade guard units..eventually killing 4 of the 6 units. A big volley from some handgunners shot his glade riders out from under his wizard...leaving her an easy target. We both left tons of points on the board at the end of the game...Each getting around 500 vp there was small difference either way so about as much a dead heat as you can get a total Draw. Jeff hadn't played too games on of 8th and there were several quirky things that came up the required time consuming rules reviews. We only managed to finish 4 turns. If we had gotten the full game in some one would have clearly won, for sure.

Game 2 vs Scott, Wood Elves- Loss
Treeman, 6 Treekin, Waywatchers..36 Glade Guard..3 Units of Dryads, Warhawk Riders, Level 4 Spellweaver ( Lore of Beasts) Noble BSB.

Scott and I have played before, I knew this was going to a tough match. the game started out with one of the worst starts for me of any game in recent memory Scott went first and got off an irresistable "Amber Spear on Steam Tank and rolled 6 wounds..by the time I healed the Stank enough to get it moving the game was over. Waywatcher's landed 3 killing blows on my knights in the first shooting phases and on my follow up turn I just had to charge them thru some woods which and I lose 4!! on the difficult terrain test.I end up engaged with 2 Knights and my Warrior Priest and in the resulting combat .The Waywatchers kills my other two Knights..I still do kill enough of them to win and break them and my Warrior Priest runs into a full unit of Dryads and is subsequently killed. I did do a good job and getting rid of his Warhawk Riders, I shedded and broke a units of Dryads with Gunfire and I put all my Infantry and magic in fighting the treeman and treekin.I broke the tree kin and ran them down..and my General killed the treeman outright. Scott had some glade guard and his characters bunked up in a building and I was trying to kill em all of with my Cannon which was working well..except his character kept making their ward saves...at the bottom of turn 5 we where out of time, with no knights or pistoliers alive..I had now of finishing of 3 dryads routing, 2 glade guard, routing and 1 glade routings...I hit the building with a cannon scott again makes his 4+ and 5+ ward., we add it up and he's ahead by 225 ish points....He's got 400 points routing and either on his characters fails a save I win, or in 7th a edition..a Draw...not in 8th edition I lose....a bitter loss, but Scotts a great guy and player- so it's all good.

A pile of wound counters like this before your first turn is never a good thing!

Last turn I put a cannon ball into the building, Killing the Glade Guard, but Scotts pull of there
4+ and 5+ wards...

Game 3 Vs Chris, Orcs- Win

Warboss. Great Shaman, Big Boss, 50 boyz, 44 Night goblins, 20 Black Orcs, 2 Rock Lobbers, 2 Doom Divers, 2 Chariots, 10 Wolf Riders.
Chris is a friend and we had played basically identical lists in practice, so we both knew what we had in store for each other. Deployment really cost Chris the game or hurt his chances because terrain placement put a wall of forests and building in line on the half of the table where he set up his infantry so he had to go thru the forests which of course turned out to be a wild wood and venom thicket...I wisely used my Seal of Destruction turn 1 getting "Gorks Warpath" out of the game..because I knew he'd use his power scroll to force the irresistible "Waaggh" Spell. on turn 2 he did, but I kept my distance and with some luck of the dice he was short on most of the charges....allowing me to dictate the charges the following round....except he put a big unit of boyz and them the Chariot into the Stank to hold it up. Unfortuately my own Deployment screw up forced me to get my BSB out of his unit and his own to try to get a ward save on him, but a lucky fantatic hit and killed him.Chris's Stone Thrower also blew up my Cannon first turn. Everything else the could have went wrong for him did..and he was basically tabled in the End..with a few small units left and both his characters dead. I got all the objectives from the scenario here for maximum points. Chris was a great sport about the game and he knew how it was since he did the same thing to me last time we played.

Good shot of turn 3 Deployment...Orc just bumrushed the woods and called out the "Waaagh" it just didnt pan out this time...

At 1 win, 1 loss, and draw...I headed home for some dinner and movie having a great time on the day.


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