Tag Archives: gaming

Bolt Action – Alternate Mortar Rules


One of the things that comes up– a lot– in our games is how Mortars suck in Bolt Action (by “mortars” here we really mean “anything firing Indirectly”).

They’re so swingy: when they hit they hit really, really hard and when they don’t they’re just a waste of points. When something boils down to “how good are you at rolling dice,” IMO there’s a problem.  It’s also weirdly inconsistent in terms of how mortars fire mortar shells vs. smoke: if you’re firing at the place Unit A is sheltering, Unit A moves and Unit B takes their place… you’ve suddenly forgotten where your mortar was pointing.  There’s also nothing differentiating Inexperienced Troops from Veteran Troops when it comes to firing indirectly: club members who have, in the past, fired mortars for a living have expressed dissatisfaction with that. Finally, it’s binary: you’re either trashing a unit with indirect or they could care less.

I really kind of like the way 40K handles this with the blast template and the scatter and the scatter roll being modified by Ballistic Skill… but you can’t do templates in Bolt Action. The rules avoid them, and there are some clear benefits to not having them, so they’re right out.

We chatted through a different approach at Fall In; might as well share it here. Not asserting that this is perfect, or final but this is on track with what  would like to see.  (In fact, I’ll tag the parts I’m less than certain about).


Replace INDIRECT FIRE, paragraph 2 with the following:

When using indirect fire, pick a point on the table within the weapon’s maximum range and outside of the weapon’s minimum range and place a marker there. Roll a d6*. Your opponent may move the marker that many inches in any direction, so long as the marker remains between the weapon’s minimum and maximum ranges**.

In subsequent turns, the unit may either choose a new point to fire at (in which case your opponent chooses where to place the marker, as above), or may continue firing at an existing marker: place a new marker d6″ away from a previously placed marker.  Placing a new marker does not remove the previous marker; how many markers are left on the table depends on the quality of the unit firing: Inexperienced Troops may leave only 2 markers, Regular 3, and Veteran 4.  If a unit already has the maximum number of markers on the table, remove the least recently placed marker****

If a marker is placed within 1″ of a unit, that unit suffers a hit from the weapon. as usual.  If a marker is placed within 3″ of a unit, that unit instead suffers a hit from a weapon one step down on the HE chart*****.  For example, a Light Mortar 1″ away is HE (D3) and 3″ away is HE (D2).  A unit greater than 3″ away is unaffected.

There are no guaranteed hits, but saturating an area with fire makes you more likely to hit units in that area. A unit’s quality is reflected in that they are progressively more likely to hit units in their target area as they range in.  Impact on a target unit is no longer binary: there’s a reduced impact from a near-hit.

Thoughts? Comments? Criticism?

* Maybe it should be 2d6.  It should be possible that the first shot of a mortar hits its target, but unlikely.

** Or maybe not?  Maybe it’s okay to let your opponent

*** Or possibly every unit that may fire indirectly.  It’s not like they’re not coordinating.

**** Or any of them, I guess.

***** I’m least certain about this.  Maybe the ranges need tweaking, maybe the stepping needs tweaking (down 2 steps instead of 1?), but fundamentally this is where I’m at.

NoVA Open 2012 – Part 2 – Game Reports

The Fantasy GT was originally scheduled to be six games but, because some folks dropped out and no-showed (I assume), only the five games were necessary.

I ran my Skaven (which I think we all knew was happening, right?).  It was my usual list, further tweaked a little bit to (hopefully) better handle Ogres.

Warlord (General) – War-Litter, Weeping Blade, Enchanted Shield, Luckstone
Grey Seer – Talisman of Preservation

Chieftain (BSB) – Shield, Armor of Destiny
Plague Priest – Plague Furnace, Flail, Dispel Scroll, Ironcurse Icon
Warlock Engineer – Doomrocket
Warlock Engineer – Death Globe, Ruby Ring of Ruin

Clanrats x30 – Full Command, Shields
– Warpfire Thrower
Skavenslaves x44 – Champion, Musician, Shields
Stormvermin x20 – Full Command, Storm Banner
– Warpfire Thrower

Gutter Runners x6 – Poison, Slings
Gutter Runners x6 – Poison, Slings
Plague Monks x31 – Full Command, Plague Banner

Hellpit Abomination
Warp Lightning Cannon
Warp Lightning Cannon

No surprises there, right?

The Weeping Blade never really came up, but it never felt like a waste.  The second cannon worked out brilliantly.  The second Engineer with the globes and ruby ring was crap.  I might have gotten more use out of the ring (maybe), but the globes were a waste.  I’d have gotten far more mileage out of a ward save on my Priest.

Anyway, as I said the other day, “Five games total, three really great games, four really fun games, and one game that wasn’t all that great (but hey, could have been a lot worse).”  With five games, you’re bound to have at least a bad game or two, my low this weekend was “Not great but not bad.”

Plus, given that the field was something like 60% Ogre Kingdoms: only one game against them is pretty shocking/fortunate.  High fives all around.

Unfortunately, while I’ve got everyone’s army lists, I failed to note VPs or even game results.  I can’t seem to find the results/standings anywhere, so I’m going from memory here on those.

Game 1 – Michael Shaefer’s Lizardmen

Slann (General, BSB) – Becalming Cogitation, Focused Rumination, Cupped Hands,

Skink Priest – Blood Statuette of Spite, Dispel Scroll

Saurus Warriors x40 – Full Command, Spears
Skink Skirmishers x10
Skink Skirmishers x10
Skink Skirmishers x10

Chameleon Skinks x8
Kroxigor x5 – Champion
Temple Guard x20 – Full Command, Glittering Scales (Champion)

Razordons x2 – Skinks x8
Salamanders x2 – Skinks x8
Salamanders x2 – Skinks x7

During the pre-tournament milling about and army-gazing, I stopped by Michael’s army and chatted the longest by far.  It’s gorgeous; I wasn’t surprised at all when he won one of the painting contest awards (Best Diorama) or when he won Best in Show.  He’s an extremely talented painter.

I did remark on how many Salamanders & Razordons he had: “I hope I don’t have to play you!”  So, of course I did, first round.

Michael’s a local guy that I hadn’t really met before.

It was a great way to start the tournament.  I’ve got a high opinion of my army’s appearance, and two great lookin’ armies throwing down is our hobby at its best

The game was kind of slow paced. While it’s nice to know that I’ve gotten faster at playing (I know it’s a problem I’ve had), it does make me much more aware of when my opponent has to take a lot of time to think things through.

A couple of stand out moments:

  • Plague Monks smacking into the Temple Guard and just about obliterating them.  Man, those rats hit hard when they want to.
  • Michael getting a mite too clever in trying to pin down the Abomination (by keeping him from changing his facing), but ensuring his Salamanders overshot him with their fiery breath

It was a good, fun game against a really nice guy with a gorgeous army.  What’s not to love?

In the end, although it looked like I’d just about tabled him, between not being able to (fully) take out his Saurus Warriors and the pretty severe casualties he’d inflicted on me, it was much closer than I’d have expected.  Still,

Game 2 – Eric McKee’s Orcs & Goblins

Orc Warboss (General) – Wyvern, Charmed Shield, Dragonbane Gem, Potion of Strength, Sword of Bloodshed

Black Orc Big Boss – Armor of Silvered Steel
Goblin Big Boss (BSB) – Gigantic Spider, Light Armour, Enchanted Shield, Sword of Striking
Night Goblin Big Boss – Great Cave Squig, Great Weapon, Light Armour, Dragonhelm
Orc Shaman – War Boar, Dispel Scroll

Forest Goblin Spider Riders x5 – Musician
Forest Goblin Spider Riders x5 – Musician
Goblin Wolf Riders x5 – Musician, Shields
Goblin Wolf Riders x5 – Musician, Shields
Night Goblins x30 – Full Command, Netters
– Fanatics x3
Orc Boyz x30 – Full Command, Shields

Goblin Spear Chukka
Goblin Spear Chukka
Night Goblin Squig Herd x13 – Herders x7
Night Goblin Squig Hoppers x5
Orc Boar Chariot
Savage Orc Boar Boyz – Musician, Standard, Big ‘Uns, Spear, Shield,
Snotlings x2
Trolls x3

Mangler Squig

Eric’s a fellow CGL’er (even if he doesn’t make it out to play all that much), and we’ve played more than a few times before.  He’s got a really cool Orc & Goblin army that’s all-squig.  Dang near everything’s converted up to be squig-like.  It works really well, I think.

Unfortunately, his army’s still optimized for 7th edition with MSU units out of the wazoo.  Between an unreasonable number of failed Stupidity checks and a couple of lucky rounds of shooting on my part, and the game’s outcome was pretty clear early on.

We plugged along through the game anyway, though, and he ended up doing better than he expected.  Even though he lost, he managed to make up a lot of points and close the gap quite a bit.

It was a good, fun game and, despite the beating he took, I think Eric had an alright time, too.  If there’d been a sportsmanship vote, he’d have gotten mine.

Game 3 – Ken Stubbs’ Warriors of Chaos

Sorcerer Lord (General) – Lvl 4, Death, Chaos Steed, Crown of Command, Spellshield, Talisman of Preservation

Chaos Sorceror – Lvl 2, Death, Chaos Steed, Charmed Shield, Dragonbane Gem, Favor of the Gods, Infernal Puppet, Third Eye of Tzeentch
Exalted Hero (BSB) – Tzeentch, Chaos Steed, Shield, Biting Blade, Bronze Armour of Zhrakk, Dawnstone, Ironcurse Icon
Exalted Hero – Tzeentch, Chaos Steed, Halberd, Book of Secrets, Power Familiar

Chaos Warhounds x5
Chaos Warhounds x5
Chaos Warriors x22 – Khorne, Full Command, Halberd, Shield, Rapturous Standard
Marauder Horsemen x5 – Slaanesh, Musician, Standard Bearer, Flails, Throwing Axes
Marauder Horsemen x5 – Slaanesh, Musician, Standard Bearer, Flails, Throwing Axes

Chaos Knights x8 – Tzeentch, Full Command, Standard of Discipline

Chaos Warshrine – Tzeentch
Chaos Warshrine – Tzeentch

So, that happened.  IIRC, Ken went undefeated over the weekend.

I could ramble, I think, about how he brought a dickish, unfun army meant to winwinWIN… but I actually really enjoyed my game against him.  It was a tremendously unfun army to play against, yes, but he was a great guy to have across the table and we had a great time.  That’s a lot more important, yes?

Also, the more I’ve thought about this game, the more convinced I am that if it hadn’t have been the last game of the day, I’d have done much better.  I was seriously fried by the end of the day, and made a lot of pretty bad calls.  I’m not saying I’d have won, mind you, but it’d have been a lot closer (and maybe, just maybe it’d have been possible).

Ken’d come up with several Cobra Kai folks from North Carolina. (They’re running Southern Assault in about a month, and there’s a chance I’ll make it down to to that.)

Anyway, out of the gate, he got some solid rolls from the Warshrines: giving his death star unit Stubborn and 4+ (3+ because of Tzeentch) and +1 Toughness from the get-go.

IIRC, I managed to kill everything save the death star cavalry unit and the two Warshrines.  (Warshrines make me lament Warp Lightning Cannons’ variable strength.  If I didn’t have to worry about maybe being Strength 2 or 4 or whatever, I’d just hammer away and look to an eventual failed ward save.)  He, of course, got most of my stuff.

The stand out moment, to me, was after he’d Purple Sun’d my Stormvermin down to the Warlord, Greyseer, and command.  Then, using Third Eye of Tzeentch, stole Curse of the Horned Rat and turned the unit into (his) Clanrats.  Very well played.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure this was a Major Loss for me.  He beat the crap out of me, but I still really enjoyed the game.  That says a lot about him, I think.

Game 4 – Brad Close’s Daemons of Chaos

Bloodthirster (General) – Armour of Khorne, Firestorm Blade, Immortal Fury, Spell Breaker

Herald of Khorne (BSB) – Armour of Khorne, Banner of Unholy Victory, Firestorm Blade
Herald of Slaanesh – Siren Song
Herald of Tzeentch – Flames of Tzeentch, Master of Sorcery (Life)

Bloodletters x38 – Full Command, Icon of Endless War
Daemonettes x20 – Full Command, Banner of Ecstasy
Furies x5

Flamers of Tzeentch x6

Fiends of Slaanesh x6
Fiend of Slaanesh x1

Somehow, I failed to get a picture of Brad’s army.

Brad quibbled about the rules, kind of a lot.  Unfortunately, that’s something I respond to (and I respond to it by quibbling even more) and I’m sure that’s something he responded to, resulting even more quibbling.  Quibblepocalypse.  So, there were kind of a lot of rules arguments during the game, and I hate that.

But hey, I’ve played in some bad games, and this was not one of them.  It was just argumentative and a little exhausting.  Those happen, and it was probably as much my fault as it was his.

Anyway, according to fellow club member Joey, Brad’s a local guy who shows up at local RTT’s occasionally.

The Abomination got into it with his block of fiends before the end of Turn 1 (they failed a Frenzy check) kept him safe from the Flamers (which were the old Flamers, not the new ones if you’re wondering why numbers don’t add up), which made a big difference.

Plague Monks killed the bejesus out of the horde of Bloodletters (like, for serious), which made me feel pretty good about myself.

Unfortunately, I was never able to kill the Bloodthirster.  The Herald of Tzeentch, of course, spent every turn healing him, which meant that I needed 5 wounds through his Toughness 6, 3+ Armour, 5+ Ward in a single round… and that just didn’t happen.  I did manage to shut down the spell occasionally (including a very lucky double-6 dispel roll on three dice), but never for long enough to put him down.

I think this was just a Minor Loss.  He didn’t have much on the table besides the Bloodthirster and the Daemonettes by the end, but it wasn’t enough by a long shot.

Game 5 – Wesley Cogdal’s Ogre Kingdoms

Slaughtermaster (General) – Lvl 4, Fencer’s Blades, Glittering Scales, Dispel Scroll

Bruiser (BSB) – Heavy Armour, Ironfist, Crown of Command, Dragonhelm
Firebelly – Hellheart

Ironguts x9 – Standard Bearer, Lookout Gnoblar
Ogres x9 – Standard Bearer, Musician, Ironfist, Lookout Gnoblar

Leadbelchers x8 – Musician
Mournfangs x3 – Standard Bearer, Musician, Heavy Armour, Ironfist
Sabretusk x1
Sabretusk x1


What a great way to end the tournament, huh?  I started the tournament playing against a great guy with a gorgeous army and ended it playing against a great guy with a gorgeous army.

Wesley’s the guy behind Stiff Neck Studio, and he and his crew’d flown out from the Pacific Northwest to sponsor the NoVA.  I’m quite confident that that’s why he didn’t win best army: as a sponsor, he couldn’t.

I mean, just look at that.

We had a great game.  It was low-key, relaxed, and friendly.  There was a lot of back and forth: it was a very close game.

Yes, it was an Ogre Kingdoms list, but it was a relatively soft one.  Only three Mournfangs, for example.  A Stonehorn (which isn’t bad, but I’m not used to seeing them).  Just one Ironblaster.  No. Horde. Of. Ogres.

At the end of the game, I got very tactical and tricksy in terms of whittling him down and denying him points. For example, in my final turn, the Grey Seer went all in on a Skitterleap to get across the board and to safety: yes, he miscast, but at that point, there was no rat around him to care.

Unfortunately, during all of that over-thinking, I made a pretty big mistake.  It got down to his Stonehorn charging my Clanrats.  After a lot of deliberation, I fled with the Clanrats.  Huge mistake.  They ran farther than average, which put them through an Engineer-less Slave unit and off the table.  The Slaves panicked, and were off the table.  The Stornhorn shrugged and redirected into a Cannon, which it unsurprisingly obliterated.  So, rather than giving up 155 points from the Clanrats (which, furthermore, probably would have died, but dice are dice and you never know), I gave up those 155 points, plus 116 for the slaves and 90 for the cannon.

I lost by 196 points.  (If I’d chosen correctly, I’d have won by 10 points.)  That’s an insanely close game.

A great opponent running a gorgeous army in a win-by-the-nose game: perfect.

Even though I didn’t do nearly as well this year (2/3/0) as I did last year (4/1/0, Best Overall), I had an excellent time.  I’m pretty sure I enjoyed more of my games and more this year.

The rest of the weekend:

NoVA Open 2012 – Part 1 – Overview

I had a great time this weekend at the NoVA.  As expected, I was unable to repeat last year’s ridiculously successful showing, but I still did okay for myself and– more importantly– had a really great time.

Seeing as how I’ve got a lot to write about, I’m going to break things up into a few posts: an overview of the weekend today (obviously), followed by the usual game-by-game breakdown (actual pictures in that post, I swear!), and then finally a post where I’ll look at how what needed improvement from last year’s convention shook out, plus some comments about what did and didn’t work with this year’s.


I had nothing going on on Friday save two hobby seminars run by MisterJustin from Secret Weapon Miniatures.  They were (relatively) early in the morning; ideally, I’d have done the other sessions, but there was just no time: these were basically the only slots that didn’t have me up at the middle of the night or conflict with the GT.  Fortunately, traffic (and an unhelpful GPS) made me only 10 minutes late on the drive in from Manassas.

Anyway, Justin ran three seminars: airbrushing, weathering powders and basing.

The airbrushing seminar was very, very inspiring. I’ve needed something along these lines for a while: getting into airbrushing is hard, and while YouTube helps, it doesn’t quite compare to having someone three feet away from you walking you through what they’re doing and why.  I’m going to do more airbrushing, now.  It’s gonna happen.  I think I’m going to start with some Dark Vengeance minis.

The weathering powders seminar was interesting, but exciting to me.  It doesn’t help that I’m simply not all that nuts about having things super-weathered… or that I just had a lot of trouble getting the powders to behave the way I wanted them to.  Still, it’s a neat technique, and nothing compares with having an expert walk you through what he’s doing from feet away.  I wish I’d had a project that was ready for weathering; I’d have gotten a lot of mileage out of bringing it with me, I think.

What was far more interesting was the realization that doing decent weathering requires a holistic comprehension of the reality you’re trying to replicate on the model.  Since the preceding example was probably barely English, the example he brought up a couple of times was: you need to understand that mud dries differently on the the hull of a tank (inside-out because the vehicle’s engine makes the hull hot) than on the treads/wheels (outside-in because, hey, that’s how mud dries).  Weathering requires far more thinking than just drybrushing Calthan Brown on your models’ feet and calling it a day.

I passed on the basing seminar.  On reflection, I think I’d have gotten more value out of it than I would have from the weathering seminar.  I certainly had nothing keeping me from doing it.


This was the first year NoVA did a full-on, big deal painting contest.  At the last minute (Thursday night), I’d remembered this, so I read the rules (more on that later), grabbed some entries (my Dark Heresy character and a D&D antagonist that I’m really proud of).  As usual, nothing painted specifically for competition, just a, “Hey, there’s a painting contest, I have no excuse not to enter something.”

Although I couldn’t tell you who won four out of the six categories (see: feedback, later), it was plain that there were a good couple of fistfuls of stronger entries than mine.  No shame in losing to competition that fierce.

The Tournament

I’ll do a detailed breakdown of my games in my next post, but the short version is: I went 2/3/0.

I started the tournament on a great foot, and ended it on a great foot.  Five games total, three really great games, four really fun games, and one game that wasn’t all that great (but hey, could have been a lot worse).  That’s fabulous for a GT.

I won best fantasy single mini with my Ruby Ring of Ruin Warlock Engineer, which I was quite pleased with. As with the standalone painting contest, there was some really amazing competition.


I got to catch up with a good handful of IFL guys that I haven’t seen since probably last year’s NoVA.  That was nice (even if it did have me up until stupid late on Saturday night).  Also saw a mess of other folks, like Bob that are great to hang out with that I only ever see at things like NoVA.

Between that, and meeting some new folks at the gaming table has really motivated me (as did the last tournament I played in) to get out and play with a wider selection of folks.  I’ve very much settled into a rut over the past year where I really only play against a small handful of people: I really need to change that.

The rest of the weekend:

20120714 CGL RTT

Have I seriously not posted about the tournament last weekend? Time to fix that!

Last weekend was a CGL RTT: one of our members was going in for hip replacement a couple of days later (I had mentioned that our club is generally a somewhat older crowd, right?), so the goal was to cram in a bunch of games before he had to be off his feet for several months.

It as a 2,800 point tournament, and folks could spend up to 25% of their points on Scrolls of Binding. While I didn’t do this (the only thing I could really do with that would be to run the Fimir, and I’ve found him to be a disappointment), several folks did: I saw some stuff from both Storm of Magic and Monstrous Arcanum on tables. I reallylike this in the context of a local RTT: it gives space for folks to play with goofy, neat stuff like that and really doesn’t seem to be all that unbalancing.

This was a week ago, so details will likely be a smidge fuzzy.

I waffled about whether or not to take Empire or Skaven: I’m playing the former, but the latter is fully painted. In the end, I decided to run the Skaven: a tournament’s a tournament after all. It was, I think, the right choice.

2,800 – Skaven RTT List

Warlord (General) – War-Litter, Shield
Grey Seer – Ruin, Dispel Scroll, Talisman of Endurance
Grey Seer – Plague, Foul Pendant

Chieftain (BSB) – Shield, Armour of Destiny
Plague Priest – Flail, Plague Furnace
Warlock Engineer – Doomrocket

Clanrats x32 – Full Command, Shields
– Warpfire Thrower
Skavenslaves – Champion, Musician, Shields
Stormvermin x27 – Full Command, Stormbanner
– Warpfire Thrower

Plague Monks x26 – Full Command, Plague Banner
Gutter Runners x6 – Slings, Poison
Gutter Runners x6 – Slings, Poison

Hell Pit Abomination – Warpstone Spikes
Plagueclaw Catapult
Warp Lightning Cannon
Warp Lightning Cannon

So, nothing terribly unusual for me, save for the second Grey Seer, the Catapult, and the swapping of Mortars for Warpfire Throwers (and I’ve already talked about those).

Game 1

Minor Loss vs. Phil’s Tomb Kings

Phil, as it turns out, lives nearby: on the other side of Manassas (in NoVA terms, that’s effectively next door). Given that we had a great game, I probably should try to roll dice with him more often. (This is a theme for the day).

He was running a monster-heavy list (Tombzilla? Sphinxilla?), and with so many enormously big bastards and such high Toughness scores… I just couldn’t break through it all.

2,800 – Phil’s Tomb Kings

Khatep (General)

Liche Priest – Lvl 2, Dispel Scroll

Archers x22 – Standard
Chariots x3
Chariots x7 – Standard

Tomb Guard x37 – Champion, Standard, Halberds
Warsphinx – Breath Weapon

Caset of Souls

Neither of us play very quickly, so we wrapped at Turn 3. It’s tough to say where the game would have been had we pushed on through Turn 4.

The key turning point in the game was when my Hellpit Abomination had rolled into his Tomb Guard to the front and stuck around; one of his Warsphinxes moved forward and stood on their flank… exposing its flank to the Plague Monks. The Monks charged it and, if they’d been able to beat it in combat, they’d have rolled forward into the Tomb Guard, gotten two combats in with their Plague Banner, and put Khatep in base-to-base combat with the Plague Priest. If I’d won that combat, man, I’d have gotten a very solid win.

It wasn’t to be: I don’t care how many attacks, rerolling to hit and wound… if you’re not able to successfully cast Bless with Filth on ’em, you’re going to have some trouble getting through T8. In hindsight, I should have gone for the Irresistible Force on it; that’s how key it was. Instead of blowing through the Spinx, the Plague Monks did some damage… but then took flank and rear charges from the two units of Chariots.

Game 2

Massacre vs. Bill’s High Elves

2,800 – Bill’s High Elves


Noble (BSB) – Great Weapon, Armour of Destiny

Archers x14 – Musician
Lothern Sea Guard x40 – Full Command, Shields, Banner of Eternal Flame

Phoenix Guard x30 – Full Command, Warrior Bane, Banner of Sorcery
Swordmasters of Hoeth x25 – Full Command, Ironcurse Icon, Gleaming Pennant

Great Eagle
Great Eagle

Scrolls of Binding
Great Dragon

Second game was against the Man of the Hour… and I felt pretty bad about it.

I went first and, before he had the chance to do anything, I’d Gutter Runner’d his Eagles to bits and used both Warp-Lighting Cannons to pop his Dragon. It goes without saying that this was a big deal. IIRC, due to deployment, I was actually even able to kill something like half of his Swordmasters with Warpfire Throwers, as well.

The scenario was a variant of The Watchtower, and although Bill started in control of it, I was able to (on a number of occasions), Curse of the Horned Rat the Elves occupying it… eventually converting Teclis into a loathsome ratman.

Bills only real defense was to spam Final Transmutation, which was effective in killing a lot of models (but not units) and making me really nervous about my characters (though he only managed to tag my Warlord after several tries).

In the end, I tabled him… and even though nobody likes getting tabled, I’m reasonably certain I made the process as pleasant as possible.

Game 3

Minor Win vs. Cody’s Orc’s & Goblins

I don’t have a copy of Cody’s list to post… and I was a bit preoccupied through the game, so I can’t recreate his list. It was a fairly standard O&G list: deep units of Night Goblins with Fanatics, some Mangler Squigs, a bunch of Doom Divers and Bolt Throwers; he also ran three Snotling Pump Wagons and an Ettin from Monstrous Arcanum.

Before the game started, I started to feel bad. GPC has some serious air conditioning issues over by the mini gaming tables; they have for years, and it’s persisted even after they fixed their AC system. The main source of this problem isn’t a bunch of gamers: it’s that there’s a kitchen restauant on the other side of the wall on the far side of the tables… the wall I stood next to all day long.

At first, I thought it might have been something from lunch… but in hindsight, I’m quite convinced it was heat exhaution: vertigo, nausea, headache, and a mad dash to the bathroom. Mark, who’s both a gentleman and a scholar, ran out to K-Mart to game some Pepto for me. It was not cool.

I figured I’d worked through most everything, came out and threw down.

Despite feeling pretty terrible, and worrying through the whole game about whether or not I’d have to run back to the bathroom, I didhave a good game; I’m not sure if I’ve played Cody before, and that’s a shame. There was a lot of back-and-forth but, by the end of things, I pulled out a Minor Win. Had we pushed on a bit farther, I think I was positioned to widen that lead, but there weren’t any huge, drastic events. (Like I said, I was preoccupied.)


Overall, despite getting sick near the end (which also knocked me out for Sunday), I had a great time! I had three fun games against folks I don’t normally get to play against, and that’s always a good thing. It’s something I really need to make of point of doing more of: it’s a big group ’round these parts, but I end up just playing against the same handful of folks… I need to broaden my horizons.

Anyway, between the VPs from tabling Bill and points from Players’ Choice votes (thanks, folks!), I ended up coming in second place overall (woot!).

Here are some other pictures of some of the really great armies I didn’t get to play against:

First Stab at some 6E Lists

Frustratingly, I haven’t had the chance to play 40K yet.  It doesn’t help that I’m still getting over this cold or that the AC’s busted/not working/not working well enough at GPC.

I have been thinking about what I’m going to do with 6E, though.

To recap, I have three 40K armies:

  • Tau Empire – My first army post-return to the hobby.  It’s about half-painted and rough (since it consists of some of the first minis I’d painted after a ~decade long hiatus).  I’m desperate for an excuse to revisit them.
  • Dark Angels – I think I’ve got something like 7,000 points of painted Dark Angels and probably about as much unpainted, hanging out.
  • Khornate Daemons – A fun, if gimmicky army.  Still in need of some repairs from when they were dropped.

Starting a new army at this point, while probably fun, is simply not an option.  I’m still neck-deep in painting Empire, and the goodies from the Kings of War Kickstarter are going to start materializing before I know it.

  • Tau – Got a shot in the arm with the Rapid Fire fix.  I say “fix,” because I don’t think Rapid Fire ever worked the way it was supposed to (“Hey, I’ve got this gun that shoots really fast, so obviously I can’t move and shoot it!” and the “half range” vs. “12”” thing has always infuriated me)… but I’m not sure.  Their vehicles look like paper now, and everything’s costed at 4E points.  Not the best start for me to learn the new game*.
  • Dark Angels – Easy.  I’m fully painted with this stuff, and Terminators look to be even better in the new book.
  • Daemons – Daemons themselves might be able to work out okay, but my specific list feels like it’ll be a non-starter.  No shooting means I still have trouble dealing with armor.  Hellblades are now a bit more like Heckblades.  Beasts feel less speedy now (but that might not be the base).  I don’t know.

So, Dark Angels it is.

This first list is effectively the list I threw together immediately after the FAQ that fixed our cut-rate equipment issues was released:

1,750 – Deathwing

Belial – TH/SS
Interrogator Chaplain – Terminator Armour, Combi-Plasmagun

Deathwing Command Squad – Apothecary, Standard Bearer, TH/SS x2, Lightning Claws x2, Heavy Flamer
Deathwing Squad – TH/SS x2, CML
Deathwing Squad – TH/SS x2, CML
Deathwing Squad – TH/SS x2, CML

Heavy Support

This second list is one I threw together the other day: I don’t expect it’s a great list, but it’s a start:

1,850 – Deathwing & Ravenwing

Belial – TH/SS
Librarian – Terminator Armour, Combi-Plasmagun

Venerable Dreadnought – Heavy Flamer, Plasma Cannon

Deathwing Command Squad – Apothecary, Standard Bearer, TH/SS x2, Lightning Claws x1, Chainfist, CML
Deathwing Squad – TH/SS x2, Lightning Claws x1, CML
Deathwing Squad – TH/SS x2, Lightning Claws x1, CML

Fast Attack
Ravenwing Squad x3 – Plasmagun x2, Meltabombs
– Attack Bike – Heavy Bolter
Ravenwing Squad x3 – Plasmagun x2, Meltabombs
– Attack Bike – Heavy Bolter
Landspeeder – Heavy Flamer, Heavy Bolter

Heavy Support

Finally, Casey’s suggested that I give something like this list a spin. I don’t think it’s great (or will be fun to play against), but it’s a goof.

1,850 – Chaos Daemons


Blood Horrors x8 – Changeling
Blood Horrors x8

Heavy Support
Daemon Prince – Wings, Mark of Tzeentch, Daemonic Gaze, Bolt of Tzeentch
Daemon Prince – Wings, Mark of Tzeentch, Daemonic Gaze, Bolt of Tzeentch
Daemon Prince – Wings, Mark of Tzeentch, Daemonic Gaze, Bolt of Tzeentch

Allied HQ
Daemon Prince – Wings, Mark of Tzeetch, Sorceror, Warptime

Allied Troops
Thousand Sons x5

* Because that’s what it is: a new game.  If you try to play 6E like it’s 5E, you’re not going to be very good at it.  I probably have a longer kvetch about that in me at some point soon.

Empire Helper Cards

How is it that I haven’t posted these here yet? Anyway:

I keep forgetting I have various innate bound spells (Battle Prayers, wizard wagon weapons) until I’ve blown all of my power dice (if I’m lucky; I normally remember them several phases after that).

So, knocked together a couple of cards to print out and put with my various spell cards to keep track of them. There’s one for Battle Prayers, the Luminark, and the Hurricanum.  They should print out to be the same size as the spell cards (3″ x 4 5/16″).

If you’ve got a copy of the Empire book, grab ’em here.  (If you don’t have the Empire book, you probably shouldn’t.)

Empire, after several games…

So, I’ve gotten a handful of games in with the Empire at this point: 1-2 a week since the new book came out.

I’m doing okay with it.  (By “okay with it” I really mean “I’ve yet to lose with it,” but it’s not a point I’d like to swagger over, since several games have been learning-the-new-book games, and there was even a teaching game in there.  That’s very different from crawling to the top of the challenge pyramid with it.)

This is basically the list I’ve been running for the past couple of weeks:

General of the Empire (General) – Armour of Meteoric Iron, Sword of Might
Battle Wizard Lord – Heavens, Lvl 4, Talisman of Preservation

Battle Wizard – Shadow, Dispel Scroll
Captain of the Empire (BSB) – Great Weapon, Shield, Armour of Destiny
Master Engineer – Light Armour
Warrior Priest – Heavy Armour, Enchanted Shield, Ironcurse Icon, Warrior Bane
– Warhorse, Barding

Halberdiers x33 – Full Command
– Handgunners x10
Halberdiers x32 – Full Command
– Handgunners x10

Demigryph Knights x4 – Full Command, Steel Standard
Great Cannon
Outriders x5 – Champion w/ Brace of Pistols, Musician
Outriders x5 – Champion w/ Brace of Pistols, Musician

Celestial Hurricanum
Luminark of Hysh
Helblaster Volley Gun

Next time I play, I plan on swapping on of the Demigryph Knights for a Witch Hunter with a Brace of Pistols. I like having an ablative Demigryph, but in combat I’ve found I don’t always get him in to swing, and he makes the unit pretty unwieldy to maneuver (225mm wide).  Conversely, I’ve yet to not yearn for that 4+ (Witch Hunter + Aura of Protection) Ward Save vs. unpleasant magic.

For the most part: the General and the Lvl 1 go in one unit of Halberdiers, the BSB and the Lvl 4 in the other.  The Warrior Priest joins the Demigryphs, and the Engineer (obviously)  hangs out by the Helblaster.  Ideally, I place the Cannon near enough to the Helblaster that the Engineer can go support it if necessary.

I vanguard the Outriders up so they have a good angle to shoot at things until they get charged, stand and shoot, and die.  Halberdiers hold back as long as they can.  The Demigryphs hang out on a flank and either push forward really aggressively or hold back to counter-charge or, at least, disincline my opponent from charging where they might be able to countercharge.

The Hurricanum and Luminark move around enough for the whole army.  I’ve had really good fortune in getting them where they need to be to support whatever needs their support just in time.  Ideally, the enemy pushes towards me: once they’re within 24″ the Handgunners and Helblaster open up.

Heavens has been magnificent.  The debuffs it offers goes a long way to helping out my otherwise mediocre dudes (the Wizard Wagons help a lot, too).  Harmonic Convergence on the Helblaster is, frankly, bullshit. So good.  I need to never not take Miasma on the Shadow Wizard.

The Cannon is a cannon.  I’d love two, but I can’t afford the points.  The Helblaster is soooo good.  In one game I rolled one misfire (that the Engineer rerolled) total.  Well before that, I rolled three 10s.  It’s amazing.

I tried Pistoliers instead of Outriders, thinking that their additional mobility would help with War Machine hunting: they’re cheaper, but for a reason.  The lower BS, the lower range, the lower number of shots really hurt.  I love Outriders, however.  Amazing BS, disgusting rate of fire.  Someone at the store (John) suggested (in the last book, but just as applicable now) taking a Champion with a Brace of Pistols: this means that, when they stand and shoot, they always do so at 12″ from the Champion.  Depending on positioning, this means that at least half of your Outriders should be firing at short range.  This has been amazing.

The two Wizard Wagons are so good, I feel like they’re auto-includes.  I don’t think I can say that one’s better than the other, though: they’re both very useful in different ways.  Halberdiers hitting on 3’s (or, if Miasma’s in effect, 2’s) is really, really nice.  The 6+ Ward save runs hot and cold: sometimes it doesn’t do much, other times, it makes the army (within 6″) invincible.  I hate them, though, because they’re going to be nightmares to paint. :(  If and when you assemble them: magnetize those suckers.  It’ll make transport a lot easier.

Demigryphs are really intimidating.  They hit pretty hard, and I’ve been pleased with them.  Hatred from the Priest is immensely helpful.  If they ever FAQ it so Hatred doesn’t affect mounts, though… I’m going to have to rethink things.

New Empire Draft List

So, the Empire book came out over the weekend… and I’m not sure I’m entirely pleased with it.  I don’t hate it, but there’s some oddness in it.  I dunno.  It’s definitely going to take a lot of time for me to process.

My list’s definitely going to have to change a fair amount, but I certainly expected that.  I’m extremely thankful that the Halberdiers I’ve built look to be the Right Choice: Spearmen are cheaper, but clearly worse, Swordsmen are better, but not worth their cost.

I’m not going to try to do a unit by unit or even a section by section breakdown, though: I’m sure much better players than me are doing/have done that right now.

The sad truth is that, with the new book, I’m less enthused about knocking together an Empire army.  My initial motivation was that they did everything I did with my Skaven list, only with better Leadership, better shooting, more reliable shooting, better magic defense and more magic options.  Now… that’s not quite as clear.

Anyway, I’ve started noodling through a list.  It’s probably horrible, but I’ve got to start somewhere, right?  Stop judging me!

General (General) – Shield, Gold Sigil Sword, Ironcurse Icon, White Cloak of Ulric, Gryphon
Battle Wizard Lord Lvl 4 – Light, Talisman of Preservation

Battle Wizard Lvl 1 – Metal? Beasts?, Dispel Scroll
Captain (BSB) – Great Weapon, Armour of Meteoric Iron
Warrior Priest – Heavy Armor, Warhorse w/ Barding, Enchanted Shield
Witch Hunter – Ruby Ring of Ruin

Halberdiers x34 – Standard Bearer, Musician
– Handgunners x10
Halberdiers x34 – Standard Bearer, Musician
– Handgunners x10

Demigryph Knights x4 – Full Command, Banner of Eternal Flame
Great Cannon
Great Cannon
Outriders x5 – Champion w/ Brace of Pistols, Musician

Helstorm Rocket Battery
Luminark of Hysh

Core is two buses of Halberdiers.  I don’t waste points on champions, ’cause they’re going to be character-heavy.  Handgunners are probably not as worth it any more, but I really like the models (and have 30 of them).

I’ve got a block of Demigryph Knights instead of Greatswords.  The models are badass, they’ll be able to counter-charge better, and they cost less (shocking!).

There’s still a unit of Outriders in there.

I’m not in love with any of the Lord choices.  Besides the Wizard Lord, none of the choices feel like they offer enough to justify their cost.  So, to make a General feel worthwhile, I’m bloating him up up with a Gryphon and a few defensive items.

I’m taking a bunch of cheap Heroes, ’cause you can do that.  I like to take a baby Wizard, but I’m not sure what I want to do with him in terms of Lore.  The BSB and the Witch Hunter go in one unit of Halberdiers, Battle Wizard in the other.  Warrior Priest goes on a Barded Steed and rides with the Demigryphs; he’s a different type, so no Look Out, Sir! but I figure the army’s target rich enough to minimize worries about that… and if there’s a unit in here that wants Hatred, this is it.

Effectively four warmachines. Two Great Cannons, might be too much.  We’ll see.  The Rocket Battery (and the Volley Gun) have gotten much better, and I already have one painted, so that’s an easy call.  I think I’d rather have a very accurate, higher strength small template instead of the lower strength mortar.  Finally, the Luminark (and the Hurricanum) are best considered War Machines.

I put enough time & money into the dang Greatswords, but there’s just no room in the list for them.  They cost even more than they did before, and I’d have to replace the Demigryphs and something else to make room for them.

The overall idea is to be obnoxious with the War Machines and force them to come to me.  Try to take their charges with the Halberdiers and counter-charge with the Gryphon or Demigryphs.



Last weekend was Madicon the college gaming con (run by SFFG, my college gaming club) I’ve been going to since 1997.  I’ve missed two (thanks to grad school in Texas) since then, so you could say I’ve been a few times.

This year, I passed on playing in any mini tournaments so I’d have more time and flexibility.  I like mini gaming, but even a three-round tournament pretty much eats your entire day.  This was the smart move, since it meant I got to get in a lot of tabletop and board gaming.


I’ve had a WFRP 2E bug that’s been picking up steam for a bit, and Madicon was a great opportunity to act on it.  I’ve got a larger post to make about what worked and didn’t work with the game (probably not here), but everyone seemed to have a good time and that’s what counts.  I like the system and I’m obviously invested in the setting.  I’ve been steadily picking up the books over the past few months: I still have a few holes in the collection, but it’s mostly complete.


I got in a game of Thunderstone (Dragonspire to be precise), which I’d been eyeballing for quite some time.  Although we had some speed issues, I liked the game enough to order the newest core set (Advance: Towers of Ruin).

Then I got pulled into trying the Resident Evil deckbuilding game, which impressed me less.  Different modes of play sound interesting, but I couldn’t get past the abominable graphic design of the thing.  Evocative design is good: design that makes your components that hard to read is terrible.

We got in a few games of Elder Sign, which was fun but so very, very, very hard.  We were crushed thoroughly both times.  I like the game, but I’d advise people to avoid the mobile game which I find to be too unbelievably difficult.

Ended the day with our third annual Madicon Dark Heresy game.  Not much to say about it besides that this image pretty much sums up our party:


Didn’t see anything besides a test run of the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game, which I liked a lot.  I think the system did a good job of emulating the source and there are a lot of clever little things built into it.  I hope I see some more of it.

The Doldrums of Magic

As a follow-on to yesterday’s post about Storm of Magic:

We’ve got one local player, Arromanche (who maintains the Army Builder 2.2 WHFB files), who doesn’t normally play in tournaments any more, but he always stops by to help out and play ringer if one’s needed.  He really hates magic in 8th edition… and Storm of Magic is a bridge too far.

Early in the planning, he offered “I’ll help out but I am NOT playing. The very word MAGIC means no way.”

Totally reasonable, and the help’s always appreciated (he knows the rules and books better than I do, better than you do, and better than both of us combined)… but I thought this was funny, so:

The Very Word MAGIC Mans ‘No Way’

Practitioners of the Arcane Arts are well familiar with a phenomenon known as the “Arromanchic Doldrums,” when furious Winds of Magic inexplicably and unexpectedly (inexplectably!) ebb– even during the most tempestuous of magical storms.

During any Magic Phase Arromanche observes the beginning of, instead of using the Wild Magic rules, use the following rules:

  • Roll 3D6 to determine Winds of Magic
  • The dispelling player receives the sum of the two highest rolls as dispel dice, treating the second highest roll as a d3 rather than a d6. If the two highest rolls are doubles, treat both as d6s.
  • The limit of power and dispel die pools is 18.

I’m proposing using this rule at the tournament. So far one participant and one non-particpant have said they think it should be used… nobody’s said it shouldn’t. I’m still debating whether I should use it or not.