Saturday, 20 August 2011

Battle Boxing

Holdenstein jr. and I had a simple game of Warmachine yesterday, pitching Stryker's battle box against Kreoss'. I took Kreoss, which put me at two disadvantages. Firstly the Menoth box isn't painted yet and secondly I judge that Stryker's Battlebox is somewhat more effective in 'jack on 'jack action than Kreoss'.

My Revenger was taken out early on with some boosted shots from Junior's Charger, followed up by the Ironclad smashing it up. Subsequently, the Lancer was set on fire by the Repenter and broken up by the Crusader. I had lost the advantage, however and had to move Kreoss up as all my wrajqcks were either disrupted or had knocked out corteces. I set Stryker on fire and knocked off a half his damage, but a charge from Stryker with boosted attacks and damage killed Kreoss.

Junior got the basics down pretty easily, and some of the metal arithmetic was challenging, but I judge that to be a good thing. Junior's pretty good at maths and giving him something challenging that's relevant can be quite tricky. Overall, this was a success. As long as we stay away from things like soul token mechanics, small Warmachine games are a decent option.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Warmachine mkII

Another game last night, again my pStryker against Alan's Phinneus Shae theme list, but this time a 35 point match. I'm happy to report that my army works better at 35 than it does at 25. I'm not sure why, but I would suggest that the two decent infantry units are better enhanced (I hate that Buff/Debuff crap) by Stryker through spells and his Feat than a single one.

I took an Ironclad and lancer in Stryker's Battlegroup, with a small Trencher unit, UA and Grenadier, and a gun mage unit plus UA and Hunter jack. I would have preferred to squeeze in my Defender over the Lancer, but you can't have everything.
Team Photo

We played  with the two central objective zones. Over on my right the Trenchers squared up to Sea-dogs with Mr. Walls and the Commodore cannon and deck gun, while on the left my gun mages went for the objective, up against a Mariner, a Freebooter and Press Gangers, with both Warcasters in the centre, which had a wood blocking line of sight in the middle of the table.

To cut a long story short, the zone on the right dragged in my Lancer and First Mate Hawk, and we ended up with the Lancer, Grenadier, Hawk and the cannons not doing much to each other, with a lot of dead trenchers and pirates.
On the left, Stryker, the Ironclad, Shae, grog spar, Doc Killingsworth and dirty Meg all got dragged in to the scrap. My gun mages acquitted themselves very well, with their high def plus blur making them very difficult to hit, and them slowly whittling down the Freebooter jack and Press Gang, even with 4+ tough rolls and no knockdown. When push came to shove though, Stryker had to disrupt the Mariner to prevent it destroying the Ironclad and in doing so put himself in range of Shae, who was just able to kill him with a couple of fully boosted attacks with slightly better than average rolls.

Oh well c'est la vie, as they say in Barnsley. Lessons learned- Jack Marshall does not let you use power attacks, but does get transferred from the officer to the unit leader. Blur is ace on ATGM units and PStryker works better wi two units.
Oh, and Arcane Shield Stryker instead of camping on 2 focus. That extra point of ARM might just have made a difference.
Here's a little bigger photo of the Hunter, who I have finished since last week with his forest base.

Friday, 12 August 2011


This is one just for me. With Holdenstein Jr's. health improving and work getting a little easier I went out to play last night for the first time in around 3-4 months. Leeds Games Club still meets on a Thursday night in Headingly, but it seems that it is increasingly going towards board and card games, and the Thursday wargaming has moved to the Leeds Wargaming Centre on Meanwood Rd, where the Leeds Night Owls now meet on a Sunday.

I played Warmachine last night. That James Rhodes is one mean miniature games player. Only joking, I played a chap called Alan, with my Stryker lead Cygnar taking on his Phinneus Shae theme list. Phineus Shae's theme list is one mean mother, with the excellent pirate solos coming in a point cheaper and getting the frickin' massive cannon, not to mention some really nasty movement spells and feat. It didn't help that my armies main trick is knockdowns, and just about everyone in his army was immune to being knocked down. Anyway I lost, due to not seeing a caster kill run coming from First Mate Hawk, who went from being out of range to all too close to Stryker after a quick cast of Coup de Main. Same old problem for me, not keeping the caster safe enough.

The other thing that I got up to was buying some of Alan's forest bases. Alan casts up bases and buildings from resin under the moniker Fat Spider. I had been looking for some cut tree trunks for a little while, in order to nicely base my Hunter warjack, and this was an easy way to do it. The bases are nice and uncluttered.
Fat Spider bases

Anyway it was an excellent night, and hopefully the start of weekly/biweekly gaming once more.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

What we've been painting

A bit of a family painting session here. I have been painting Tyranids and I am currently working on a magnetised Hive Tyrant. These are my last efforts...

Holdenstein Jr. fancied a go at a Moria goblin, and it worked pretty well..

And finally Holdenstein Mk III wanted a go too. For you Tommy, this war is over. This is what happens to the enemies of the Imperium.

MkIII is only four, so give him some slack

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Good News

We are playing again, today going through the Mines of Moria missions once more. This time a complete clean sweep for Holdenstein jr. First two missions as discussed below. I was actually pretty impressed with the way that Holdenstein Jr. approached the first mission, using Gandalf, Boromir and Gimli, who are basically impervious to missile fire to shield the hobbits (who are most definitely not impervious to bow fire).

The initial move
Just about to get the win

The third mission was a bit of a free for all, involving everything apart from the Cave Troll. Lots of goblins at the start with most of the Fellowship apart from Aragorn. The Fellowship have to close two trap doors at either end on the board, with goblins coming in as reinforcements through the traps and Aragorn arriving on the roll of a 6 at the end of each turn. Trapdoors are closed by a member of the fellowship standing on them at the end of the turn.

I originally thought that Holdenstein Jr. had made a mistake. He went in both directions, and tried to thin the goblins out as soon as possible. I would have gone for one trap door and then the other. Fortune favoured the brave, however, and he was able to attack the goblins at each of the choke points. He was also lucky that Aragorn turned up at the end of the first turn and immediately set about the goblins with extreme prejudice.
Boromir is about to lock the final trap door
So it all worked out in the end despite me taking out two of the hobbits on the final turn, and failing to wound Legolas, which would have bought me and unlikely win.

I am afraid to say there was much gloating from the boy. I am currently gluing model railway ballast to the bases of the unpainted models in preparation for undercoating.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Risky Business

Last night Mrs H, Holdenstein Jr. and I played Risk. A lot of serious gamers turn their noses up at the humble game of Risk, but I have always enjoyed it, right from being a young 'un myself. What's not to love. You get to take over the world, rub your family's noses in it, roll loads of dice and improve your Geography (cf. Pandemic).
To be slightly serious, I have always found the defender and attacker dice to be wonderfully balanced, allowing large armies to usually take out small armies easily, but throwing the odd spanner in the works occasionally. For those not familiar you roll as many dice as you have armies, with the defender being capped at 2 and the attacker at 3. You then compare the highest dice (and then next highest if both players rolled at least 2 dice) to each other and whoever wins destroys one of their opponents armies, with defender winning ties. If you think that you've seen it before, or since, its the basis for the combat systems in Space Hulk, Lord of the Rings and a bunch of other games too, but Risk takes into account the second die. The genius of the game is in the title: Risk. You've got to know exactly when to push it and when to end your turn and let someone else overreach themselves.
Holdenstein jr. won this one due to the twin effects of me and Mrs. H tearing lumps out of each other and then going for it with his big turn and capturing the two continents that he needed to complete his mission (despite Mrs. H confusing Asia and North America because "the map was upside down").

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The Second Game

Woah there! What happened to the first game I hear you cry (I'm good me and I can receive messages from the future). Well the first game didn't go exactly to plan and there was a certain amount of bad temper after Holdenstein jr. lost the first game with both good and evil sides. Not ideal stuff for a blog post.

This went much better, and was at junior's suggestion. After a short renewal with the basic rules we were off with Scenario one from the Mines of Moria book, which only allows shooting in a mad dash to a doorway. I was pleasantly surprised by two things. Firstly Junior was able to remember most of the things he needed to, like movement distances, without any prompting, and despite losing both with good and evil again, wanted to play some more. He was particularly unlucky the second time too, with my Moria goblins just hitting and wounding constantly and killing Legolas. Junior is far to smart to allow me to throw the game too, in case you're wondering.

We racked the figures up again and played Scenario two, where Aragorn has to again make his way to the door, while getting through Moria goblins, this time only using his sword. Junior won using both forces this time. 
 Aragorn lays the smack down on Moria gobins

I was more impressed with the combat mechanic than the shooting one. Junior got the hang of them seamlessly and really got in the swing (and stab) of things. It really was impressive the way that heroes can take on one or two enemies with a high degree of confidence, but quickly find themselves at a disadvantage once they get surrounded, due to taking double strikes (wound rolls) when they can't retreat.
Overall this time: Great success

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Table

I've been wargaming for over twenty years now and I have a confession to make. A dirty little secret if you like. Listen closely, because it's just between you and me. Up until the start of this project, I have never owned a gaming table. Why? Well I have always been in the fortunate position of having very good friends with tables or been in close proximity to a very good club at which to play. If I have needed to play at my home, then it was a case of getting out some gaming mats and playing on the floor. In short, I have never needed one, or had the space to store the board and terrain.
That changed about a week ago. We have a kitchen table, which is three feet by five feet so all I needed was a board to put on the top and away we go. With this in mind, my initial plan was to buy an 8x4' piece of chipboard and get it sawn in half, to make two 4x4 boards, which would work nicely individually for LotR, or Warmachine. The boards could also be put together for larger games of 40K or similar, with a line drawn on them to make a 6x4 for standard games. Great plan, and off I trotted to B&Q (if you're in the UK, it is just the larger stores that have the cutting service).
Here's my first cautionary tale from this blog. A 4x4 board is quite a lot bigger and more difficult to get into a car than you would first think. No matter which combination of doors and hatch I used it just wouldn't go. And when I say just wouldn't go, I really mean just. By about a centimetre. Just enough to keep me trying to get the piece of timber into the car for about 15 minutes, scratching the interior in the process. So do measure up first. 
I did seriously consider abandoning the chipboard there and then in the car park, but instead made my way, shamefully, back into the store to get a bit more cut of each end. Now I have a pair of boards measuring 3 x 4', so they will still go together for a game of 40K, but aren't quite as convenient for LotR or Warmachine. The other cautionary note, is that the cutting process produces quite a bit more dust than expected, so don't do on the way back from work in your suit. Fortunately that suit did need a dry clean in any case.

I also picked up a tin of Dulux "Urban Obsession" for painting the Mines of Moria/ City fight side of the board, which is an amazing colour for a gaming table with a great name (almost as if they had an eye on the gaming market). So Junior and I had an afternoon painting the surface of the table together. I also had to make a difficult decision to not cover the table with sand. This was due to wanting to use both sides, one green and one grey and not wanting to risk the ire of Mrs Holdenstein when her kitchen table ends up with sandy divots in it.
The table is now complete. Time to get some games in!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Plan

My boy, henceforth known as Holdenstein jr. Has been bugging me to play and model with my toy soldiers for quite some time. We've been playing some of the more simple board games, such as Carcassonne and Summoner Wars for a little while and I've decided that it's time to take the plunge and introduce him to a little light war-gaming, which will have the added benefit of giving us a bit more quality time together.
As an introduction to wargaming, I had two main considerations; a suitable theme and a simple ruleset. So firstly an odd question: What is a suitable theme for a wargame?
This is a question that has puzzled war gamers for years. Wargaming is a simulation of killing people using toy soldiers. There's no getting away from that slightly uncomfortable fact. In fantasy settings people never existed and so therefore there's no problems over "real" morality getting in the way, but anything historical will have moral baggage coming along with it. Why are the forces fighting? Who is right? What happens if the bad guys win? Couldn't they just have talked it over and come to some arrangement? These are all good questions, and ones that I can't be bothered to answer, so I'm going to go for a fictional gaming setting to begin with (although I note that Holdenstein jr.s next school project is about Vikings so that might be a chance to try out some ancient wargaming)

So a fictional setting- great, I have a massive amount of 40K stuff and quite a bit of Warmachine. Well, straight away  we've hit a problem. That problem is that in their quest for a "mature" edgy seeding there's quite a bit in those settings, especially Warmachine's, that isn't really suitable for a young 'un. Both games have their sadomachochist faction, and a general grim dark mentality. Plus Warmachine has too much cleavage. I won't get into whether or not this approach is actually mature, or rather childish in it's own way, but suffice to say I won't be going there yet, and don't get me started on Malifaux. Plus their rules are too difficult to simplify. 

That leads me to where I am going: Lord of the Rings, the Strategy Battle Game. This is a new game to me. The imagery is uncontroversial, the rules are pretty simple and the bad guys are obviously bad, but not in a sadistic way. Hurray. I am actually in two minds about whether to stick with the rules as supplied, or go for the "Song of Blades and Heroes" rules, which are simple but effective. We will try both for a few games each and then make a decision. That's the plan anyway.