Players and Sheet Maintenance: A Comment Too Long to Post

•November 17, 2014 • 1 Comment

The Man Larkins had a semi-recent discussion about players and character sheet maintenance, and where the GM’s mandate falls/should fall/must fall. I’d originally intended this to be a comment on that post, but then it got lengthy.

This problem–which more broadly manifests as the stratification of investment players and DMs have in a setting, system, and individual character–really caught me by surprise in the transition back to tabletop from roughly a decade of play-by-post gaming. On all of the sites where I played, DMs (and often even other players) had ready access to at least -viewing- your sheets at all times. Getting into games was often pretty cutthroat, too, since even when the communities were small the pools of quality and reliable DMs, skilled and reliable players, and talented and descriptive writers were generally fairly shallow. People were on point. If they weren’t, they got replaced…except for whatever inner circle illuminati had orchestrated that particular game, who were functionally a terrible and irreplaceable tumor. I was usually such a tumor; which is why, on those rare occasions when I ran a game, I made my own inner circle apply every time. I knew that I’d end up taking them, but I wanted everyone to see that it was because they were (and remain) incredible writers, who also took the time to read instructions and even went so far as to craft characters to fit with each other. Man, typing that out I sure miss the game.

When I started a tabletop game with a wide swathe of player-experience (ranging from folks who played in high school and on and off since to my wife, who had previously not held a d20 except when I whispered “Hold it…hold iiiiitt” with steepled fingers, now and again), sheet maintenance became a real thing. Continue reading ‘Players and Sheet Maintenance: A Comment Too Long to Post’

Imagine Civilization V With More Aliens, Zombies, and Fallout

•November 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’m taking the position in this review that the reader is at least passingly familiar with–and interested in–Civilization and its cadre of similar games. If you’ve got some wild oats simmerin’ and want to jump in even if that assumption doesn’t apply to you, remember: stack food.

The question is, which empire do you want to govern:

  • Dragonmen? They’re men (and ladies, the game’s relatively gender-progressive) with dragon bits. Get a boost in social development from the start, and excel at diplomacy. Essentially, races aren’t eager to blow off folks with dragon bits, so they listen to you.
  • Baroque mannequins you might see in Silent Hill? They’re eager to spread the Good News of their kind-of-robot gods, and excel at the equivalent of Civ’s Social track (they’re better able to shape and guide the growth of their cities and overall empire, focusing every score or so turns on different approaches to gameplay). Homebodies, though, so once you establish a city it’s where you’ll be staying. In compensation, though, you’re so compelling that you can just talk enemy villages into joining you.
  • The merchant at the beginning of Aladdin? The nomadic race excels at trade, cash money, and mobility; the brutality of an all-cavalry army is difficult to overstate. This crew also has the ability to uproot and move their cities–a la Terrans in Starcraft–and those cities are giant beetles. You can also keep other players from using the market, and any time a player does make a transaction (buying or selling), you get a cut.
  • Fallout-style Vault Dwellers, but with capital-R Religion? In addition to some neat travel tricks, they can pick one particular resource (titanium, say, or hyperium) and declare it their holy…stuff. Their units gain special bonuses when wearing material crafted from the stuff, and their cities excel at exploiting it, letting them race ahead in scientific discovery.

I was going to do some teaser-style business and leave it at those factions, but they’re all so dope… Continue reading ‘Imagine Civilization V With More Aliens, Zombies, and Fallout’

Marvel Heroes is from the Streets!

•November 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Man, I sure love Marvel Heroes. I’ve picked up both of the Advance Packs, which are moderately high buy-in (though roughly a unit and a car in, say, Warhammer) packages that pre-purchase all the upcoming heroes for the game’s next year of development. The game’s had a bit more than a year of development. I’ve also invested occasionally in costumes, boosts, “team-up” heroes (essentially uncontrolled sidekick characters/purchased buffs, depending on how you equip and employ them), and so, so much storage. It’s safe to say that I’m invested, and happily so!

However, I’ve had absolutely no luck fostering an even remotely similar investment on the behalf of my wife. Continue reading ‘Marvel Heroes is from the Streets!’

On the Concept of “Table Ready”

•November 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I find this idea fascinating. In brief, folks describe a model (or unit, or army, etc.) as “table ready” when it meets the requirements for…play on a table.

To some extent this is informed by general tournament requirements, which are more or less 3 distinct colors and “basing material.” The basing material bit tends to piss me off, as it usually means one has to not only paint the bases of the models but also provide them with some sort of texture…which I wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t required, but since it is I chafe at the demand. It bothers me primarily, I think, since there’s a texture paint line GW sells–and those paints are just basically thicker paints. Which you’re generally then expected to drybrush, also potentially wash, and…pah. There’s already a texture to model bases, and it looks about the same.

What fascinates me more, though, is that I see some blog posts–and even have some War Party members–discuss “table ready” as a concept that has a personal element. In other words, folks look at a model they’ve primed, basecoated, washed, drybrushed, potentially highlighted, and theoretically done all that again…all before basing…and said something like: “That’s not very good, but I’ll play it.”

do have models I’d say that for. They’re unpainted. Or they’re just primed. Or they’re half-based. Or maybe I just need to do the interminable detail work (see for reference all of my Chaos Marines). The idea of an additional layer of painting complexity for anything beyond a specific showcase model, therefore, very much befuddles me. If you’re painting your stuff, you stop when it’s painted. The tabletop standard and the “painted” standard seem like they should be roughly the same for the hobby. I suppose the general concept is one of eyeline and scrutiny; that models are table ready when you think they look good from a high vantage. That makes more sense in Fantasy, where there are many ways to goose a unit of models by recognizing what’ll be in the front rank roughly all the time. I do this in terms of how I build and place my sculpts, at the very least. I’ve had friends tell my wife that she can get away with only painting some of her troops from the waist up since they’ll be in the back of units—and she plays Ogres, so that’s not all that many bodies in the first place.

But table ready, as a concept, seems unnecessary for me. Or–and I think this is why the idea bothers me–it seems insecure. If your business is dope, it’s dope. If you’re unhappy with it, keep painting or start over. If you don’t care, put those gray plastic mans on the table and roll like a fiery god.

FAQ Changes Are Exciting!

•October 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Folks at my local store are still deep below decks on that Privateer action, but Warhammer Fantasy just got a significant update.

Short version is that the End Times changes to army building (Lords and Heroes increased from up to 25% to up to 50%) are now across-the-board official. Lore of Undeath also made available to every army. Basically it just makes clear that the changes in End Times aren’t a special sub-version of the game, but rather the way the game now is.

Couple 40k changes too. Super Heavies now move double the highest die when moving through difficult terrain (so you roll a 3, 2, 4…highest roll’s 4, doubled means you move 8 inches). It’s my understanding that this was something folks were doing anyway, but while folks at my store have supers (and particularly Imperial Knights) I’ve yet to go up against one. Because I want to enjoy life. Still, it’s good for them and at some point potentially good for the Chaos Knight that one day may exist. Good for Stompas too, I suppose!

Tau are clarified to not get Ignores Cover from marklerlights on a blast that hits a unit not targeted by the original attack. Tau should suffer in all ways at all times, so I’m glad to see this potential exploit nerfed.

Space Wolves have some changes, including to wounds on Harald and the AP on Dispersed Hellfrost Destructors…dunno if that stuff had already been changed back in August, though. What’s apparently new there is that SW terminators can take power and frost axes. I’ll get clarification from my dude Danny at some point on if that’s all new-new or only the axe thing.

Black Legion had an artifact that I’ve never seen anyone at the store take changed to be like a power I’ve never seen anyone at the store take. Basically they can manifest Sunburst (mid-strength, poor AP nova) with extended range. That likely has some use, since novas always get better the more enemies they can affect; given their ability to hit Soaring/Zooming models, in particularly, being able to reach out further may result in some unexpected anti-air. The shoddy strength and risk of completely exploding, though, makes the power risky enough I’m not sure it sees much use.

Daemon chariots loyal to Khorne got a big upgrade, in that they now have 2 Bloodletter attacks at init 4. Unlike the other chariots in the game, Khorne chariots don’t come with a rider or a crew, so previously they had this weird relationship to combat (which they want to get in, because they’re S7 on HoW and can heal themselves off unsaved wounds). Once they were in combat they had no attacks, though, and since chariots do get stuck in they’d basically just get eaten. Now that’s not a thing! I’ve had plans to build a Skull Cannon of Khorne out of Slaaneshi chariots, so now I’ll need to accentuate the AP-appearance of the daemonette crew to avoid cries of foul down the line.

Thrilled, though, because this rule change makes me much more comfortable devoting the time to that project. I wanted a cannon mostly for the pseudo-grenades (Daemons don’t drop to init 1 when charging through difficult terrain if their target unit took a hit from a Skull Cannon in the preceding shooting phase), but wasn’t sure if I’d be wasting the points on a model built with an eye towards charging stuff. Now I’m definitely going to find a home for at least one!

Dark Eldar FAQ is currently a blank page…how devious! Update 10/24/14:  Dark Eldar, not Elves…my contemptuous references to Eldar as space elves bites me in the ass. That FAQ works now and…it wasn’t really worth worrying about! Presumably that will change after the new codex has been out for a time, but maybe they’ve mastered the art of codex-delivery and the book was perfect, neither too weak nor capable of exploitation?

Gamechanger

•October 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Quick post…do have some battle reports in the hopper, for Warmachine and Warhammer alike.

This post, though, is a short one. A short, tragic tale…which didn’t start out tragic, at the least, but I confirmed what I was about to type and realized that my dreams were utterly dashed. See, I was reading this article, and right off the bat hit the line about how taking a model in Mega Armor grants Slow and Purposeful to the unit (didn’t know that Slow and Purposeful was something that carried into a unit!) which, in turn, grants the entire unit the ability to fire heavy/salvo/rapid/etc. weapons freely. So I thought Hey, Self! You only run Noise Marines, ever, because you love them and all your CSM are converted to be them! So this is essentially the best thing ever. You can take a cheapish Chaos Lord in Terminator armor<&mdash>which is non-Ork Mega Armor<&mdash>with the mark of Slaanesh, and suddenly you’ve got mobile Noise Marines!

I thought that this was an awesome example of how minor rule tweaks over editions can dramatically alter the quality of units and options. Mostly, I deal with Slow and Purposeful with my Nurgle Daemons, where it’s a straight nerf since daemons lack any form of rapid fire, salvo, or heavy weapons on infantry or monstrous units. I’d never had any reason to consider the rule beyond it preventing my boys from running, so it felt completely reasonable for me to suddenly learn that it was a rule that was actually dope. I’ve still got the Stormclaw box, entirely untouched. At some point my wife’ll put the Orks together, bolstering her forces by a fistful of Nobs and some Kans, at the least; meanwhile, I’ve a multitude of Space Wolves to apply in a variety of ways. My plan has been to turn some Bloodclaws into Raptors which are magnetized to also serve as Warp Talons; I know Warp Talons aren’t good, but that only tempts me to attempt to put them to valuable use, and having a daemon-heavy army with lots of Icons improves the utility of their blinding deepstrike. They are mad expensive, though! Still, my regular use of Furies means I appreciate having maximal jump troops to shove down an enemy’s throat.

Anyway, Stormclaw also came with a unique model I’ve already turned into a Warpsmith…

Snerr Aspenthet

Unfinished but…sup?

…despite how universally reviled Warpsmiths are. I considered having one high-value because I rely so heavily on Soul Grinders, which lack It Will Not Die, and thus suffer badly when immobilized or deprived a weapon. I do struggle to find an appropriate place for him, since his weapons are relatively short-ranged and he’s a close-combat monster, but I tend to run my Grinders in the back of the map. Nonetheless, I love having him and enjoy practicing with his proper application.

Anyway, for what’s left I’d planned to use some of the Wolf Guard Terminators to make HQ slots (a Sorc and a Lord, most likely) and the rest to make another 3-man Obliterator unit, potentially magnetized to serve as Mutilators as well.

All this to say that learning Terminator armor provides huge bonuses to my Noise Marines was very exciting!

Then I read my codex, and saw that Terminator armor doesn’t actually give Slow and Purposeful. Then I read the 7e codex and learned that the things it does provide aren’t unit-wide, unlike Slow and Purposeful.

Then I wrote this post.

I feel there’s solace to be taken in not being the only one who thought he’d crafted this incredible and valuable combination, only to learn that it in no way actually works. Right?

Right?!

WaH: Twofer!

•September 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This is the (bereft of actual notes) battle report of a 2v2 game at the club’s Saturday Open Gaming.

On Thursday, my wife and I popped over to the shop for a day of games. After the somewhat grim tidings earlier in the week, we wanted to till the community soil, so to speak. We’d planned to play a one-on-one game (her first) but a couple of friends were just starting up their own game with relatively slim forces, and they invited us to join them.* They ultimately decided to bust back down to their respective battlegroups, though we discussed just adding Stacey’s and my forces each to a table side (our points break out at the same, so that would have balanced things too).

Force Setup

On one side of the table, we had my wife playing The Retribution of Scyrah (Elven xenophobes with quick, relatively low-damage Warjacks who enjoy a unique forcefield system; the field is repairable for focus, meaning that with careful management these guys are insanely durable. She made excellent use of the Chimera’s teleportation and Arc Node abilities to throw some magic death into the back ranks) and Danny following up his last administered beating with the return of his Khador forces (Honkin’-high armor, brutal close-combat, and that icy-gaze-having Warcaster).

The Hordes side of the table featured me with my gator boys and my partner with the Legion of Everblight force (which I’ve talked about before). Having the Shredders on the board gave us a slight model advantage, and my two heavies helped Hordes tie the Warmachiners in that regard. Having fewer light ‘Jacks meant that we’d be at a disadvantage in terms of durability, and be reliant on charges and perhaps ‘Caster assassination to succeed. Continue reading ‘WaH: Twofer!’

 
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