Friday, 9 May 2008

Wednesday 30 April, 2008: Warhammer Fantasy Battles.

After the disastrous battle against the dwarves, a great lord of Brettonia saw that his lands were in peril from the stumpy invaders. He sent word for his knights to gather and soon assembled a mighty army. Seeing this host arrayed against their dwindling force, the dwarves sought desperately for allies. Bordering the land of this noble Brettonian lord was a forest which was home to a small enclave of wood elves. They had lived happily here for centuries but now the greed of humans was becoming apparent as Brettonian peasants had begun cutting into their forest for wood and to create more agricultural land. So it was that when the Thane who led the dwarf army swallowed his pride and approached the elves for assistance they were only too happy to assist.

When lord Currain’s army was assembled, he mounted his hippogriff and took wing to lead his forces to destiny. 2000 points of Brettonians (due to a pretty damn hectic day of gluing) faced off against 1000 points each of dwarves and wood elves. Would lord Currain be able to defend his lands or would the elder races prevail to take new lands to settle?

Dwarves (Olly): Thane with horrifying runic weapon; Dragon Slayer with likewise; 10x thunderers; 1 cannon with master engineer and some runes; 20x miners with command group and blasting charges (oh, god!); 15x warriors with command group; 10x rangers with throwing axes and command group.

Wood Elves (Johnny): level 2 spell singer; some kind of eternal guard hero; 2(12x) glade guard with command groups; 10x eternal guard (I think); 6x way watchers; 6x war dancers; 12x dryads. (apologies if this list isn’t quite right)

Brettonians (Carl): Lord Currain with all kinds of magic trinkets and a hippogriff; paladin with battle standard, barded horse, magic banner of twilight; paladin with great weapon, barded horse, questing vow; level 2 damsel with barded warhorse; 5x questing knights with command group; 4x Pegasus knights with standard bearer; 5x knights of the realm; 6x knights of the realm with command group; 9x knights errant with command group and magic banner of shalloms; 2(16x) peasant bowmen with command groups; 2(15x) men at arms, one with command group and 1 with spears.

I set the terrain up and felt that it was a good compromise on open areas of dwarf slaughter and cover. With such a large army I was forced to spread it a little and so created 3 groups. My right flank was held by an archer unit, all of the close combat peasants and lord Currain himself. My centre group had the Pegasus knights, knights errant and the unit of knights of the realm with the army battle standard bearer whose magic banner would allow them to charge the gun-bristling hill across a difficult terrain grave yard. My left flank was led by the questing knights and their paladin with an archer unit lending support and the other knights of the realm.

On my right flank the archers began a long range shooting match with a unit of glade guard – both sides proving only average shots. Even so, it kept those units still and busy. The peasants marched up behind a nearby hill to protect them from the firepower of their adversaries and were awed to see their lord’s terrifying mount gliding over their heads to land effortlessly on the hill to wait for them. The Pegasus knights were preparing to fly over a wood in front of them when a small band of elite elven archers emerged from the foliage. One man was wounded by an arrow but their armour protected themselves from the worst. Giving praise to the lady that their lances would be bloodied so soon, the unit charged the way watchers and ran them down to a man. In search of more pray, the flying cavalry settled on the roof of a building (looked cool but rather complicated rules issues). Braving the missiles of their enemies (and giving thanks that the thunderers were set up on a hill at the back of their lines) the main cavalry force spurred their mounts to the gallop in preparation for a second turn charge.

Revenge was swift and terrible. Cannon balls ploughed through the knights errant, felling several of their number. Elven arrows landed all around and a couple more brave men fell. Even lord Currain was not spared as 2 arrows pierced the hide of his mount. The stage was set now though for the lord to press his attack.

The peasants trundled happily on – a major feature of their performance this game, but at least they all survived). The right hand archers prepared to fire on their elven adversaries but their shots were not clear as the mighty lord Currain swept down on them. Too close to draw a bow at the terrifying monster, the elves strove to free their hand weapons but they were no match for the skill of Currain and the brute force of his mount. The survivors scattered and ran but were chased down and killed. The Pegasus knights once more took wing and couched their lances for a charge against the eternal guard. They tore through the elite elven troops but their enemies held firm. The elven hero fought back valiantly but the armour of the knights once again stood firm against the majority of their attacks. The paladin charged with bearing the battle standard for lord Currain spurred his horse to the charge, loosing the magic woven into the venerable banner so that the tomb stones would fade before him and the knights of his household. They thundered towards the line of elven archers on their hill-top vantage. Arrows whistled around them but there was no time to mourn the 2 brave souls who fell from their saddles. The rest struck home, sunlight flashing from their lance tips and the steel of the paladin’s sword. The survivors of their surprised enemies scattered before them and were run down in their panic (are you starting to see the pattern here?)

Now the army had closed though the missiles of the elder races were more telling. Arrows and bullets rattled like rain from the armour of the brave knights and it was inevitable that some would fall. Again the cannon fired and cut a bloody swathe through the knights errant. They were also caught by a surprise attack from dwarf rangers who emerged from their hiding place behind a building. Their throwing axes brought down several more horses. The intrepid survivors charged bravely to meet this new threat but were too few. The stragglers broke off and galloped from the field. The advancing Questing knights and their accompanying knights of the realm were ambushed by dryads who charged from the woods which had concealed them. After a fierce fight however the tree-creatures were routed and the knights moved on towards the dwarf firing line.

Seeing the embattled flying cavalry were preoccupied by the elven elites, the nearby dwarf dragon slayer charged into their flank. He surprised the knight charged with guarding that vulnerable position and wounded him. He only received a minor injury however and fought back, slaying his attacker. The remaining knights redoubled their efforts and finally defeated the stubborn elves who, along with their lord, were scattered among a cluster of buildings as they retreated.

Then the tides began to turn. My damsel, who had summoned an irresistible cloud to pour a deluge of rain on the cannon, completely failed to affect its stock of gun powder. The wily dwarf engineers were able to find dry stocks for the rest of the engagement. Seeing that her magic was prevailing, the troops of the elder alliance redoubled their efforts. Drawing on ever-deepening threads of power, the damsel over-exerted herself and was overcome by the warp. As her body was consumed, her horse took fright and bolted. His warp-touched, mutated form was never seen again by mortal men - although tales are told of a dark thing which haunts the countryside. When darkness falls, shutters and doors are barred as the chilling whinny of the Black Horse echoes through the trees.

Despite the apparent rout of the wood elf contingent, the eventual Brettonian victory was not without its price. On the left flank the dwarf Thane led a unit of elf War Dancers in a counter attack. A duel, which would have been sung of in legends if the bard-playing questing knight hadn’t been killed, between the Thane and the questing paladin resulted in the Thane’s demise. With his death, the resistance on that flank broke down. The knights of the realm swept past this combat to slaughter the dwarf thunderers and drive them from the field. On this flank to, the miners became involved in the bitter fighting and they took a horrible toll on both knightly units before they were routed. Much to the despair of his men, lord Currain was also fatally wounded. He had led the charge around the left flank, with the intact body of peasants trudging wearily far behind him. He launched an attack on the central hill from which the cannon continued to blast his men. The fiendish dwarf engineer loaded with grape shot and a particularly hard bit felled his steed. He tumbled from the body of his dead hippogriff as it fell from the sky and was killed by the fall. The last remaining Pegasus knight – personal guards of the lord – saw his master’s demise. He alone vanquished the cannon’s entire crew in close combat.

The game was a Brettonian victory although the celebrations were somber indeed with the lord’s son – having to abandon his quest for the grail and wounded himself in the fighting – now running the estates. Almost all of the peasants survived – only a few archers having died from long range fighting with the wood elves in the early stages of the combat and a close ranged fight with axe-throwing dwarf rangers at the end. The Pegasus knight left the field in a valiant retreat and bore the body of his dead lord with him. After fighting through the centre of the battle, Currain’s standard bearer found himself alone – the knights of his household having been cut down around him. Eventually he to was felled in combat with the deadly dwarf miner unit but his sacrifice bought time for the remains of the army to mount the decisive final attack. There was great rejoicing when the standard bearer returned to Currain’s castle during the funeral of his lord. He still had the tattered standard with him and was recovering from his wounds. His horse was dead. The lord’s standard was laid to rest with him in his tomb and the colours of his son were raised above the castle to shine under the morning sun.

Sorry the story isn’t all that good – it was quite fun to write though. The game was fantastic with some characterful incidents and a final success for all this terrifying cavalry the tactics forums keep going on about. I made a fantastic number of both armour and ward saves (there should never be a time when a Brettonian army doesn’t pray to receive this benefit in a game). The elves were hideously unlucky both in combat dice roles and break tests and as they retreated in short order, causing very few casualties in return, the other half of the alliance army could not contain the Brettonian cavalry. The medieval-themed army has captured my imagination utterly and I look forward to their next outing. This, with hindsight, should be on Wednesday 14 May where we should also see the first outing of Johnny’s new Vampire Counts undead army. We may have also nearly convinced Olly to use a dwarf gyrocopter as well. Check back for that wild ride.

Commander Portman

Monday, 21 April 2008

Wednesday 23 April, 2008: Warhammer Fantasy Battles.

Due to commitments with his puppetry course – awesome! – Johnny wasn’t able to join us this week. Therefore, we weren’t able to play Warhammer Fantasy Role-play as we had originally planned. Instead, Olly and I played a 1750 point Warhammer Fantasy Battles game with my Brettonians vs. his Dwarves.

Dwarves (Olly): Thane with shiny bits; dragon slayer with shiny bits; cannon with engineer and magic words; cannon with master engineer and magic words; flame cannon; 2(10x) thunderers, both with command groups; 15x long beards with command group; 15x miners with command group and blasting charges; 10x warriors with command group.

Brettonians (Carl): paladin on horse with great weapon, questing vow, gromril great helm; paladin battle standard bearer on horse with Twilight banner; level 2 damsel on warhorse; level 2 damsel with prayer icon of Quenelles; 5x questing knights with command group; 9x knights of the realm with command group; 4x Pegasus knights with standard bearer; 9x knights errant with command group and Standard of Shalloms; 16x peasant bowmen with defensive steaks and command group; 16x peasant bowmen skirmishers with command group; 25x men at arms with command group and spears.

I had my misgivings from the start. Usually our boards are fairly liberally covered with terrain, this one was rather barren. There was a wall of buildings near one end (representing the wall and gate of a town), a couple of hills and a church scattered along the centre and a wood near the other end. Light brigade style, I lined my knights up in front of the guns and prayed. Olly took advantage of my piety to take the first turn. A cannon ball ploughed through a pair of knights of the realm. They both made their Blessing ward saves. “This is easy,” I thought as another cannon ball splattered 3 of my knights errant across the ground.

My own first turn saw a general charge towards the enemy. I got into a bit of a traffic jam behind the woods where combats held up my crap knights so that my questing knights and their characters couldn’t get to grips with the enemy on their preferred terms. I only got to declare 3 out of the many charges in the game thus making my lances completely impotent. My magic didn’t succeed throughout the entire game (hooray for uber-resistent dwarves and crap spell roles). My shootin was also appalling with the master engineer’s entrenching ability paying dividends in the ranged battle in front of the city. My men at arms trudged stoically along under constant handgun fire until they were in charge range. At this point they failed a leadership test due to casualties and equally determinedly ran off of the board, nearly taking a unit of archers with them. Both of my damsels died the same horrible death under the template of the flame cannon. When my last knight had been bludgeoned to death by Olly’s dice rolls, I capitulated.

It was actually a fun game. Olly made a fairly valid point about how easy it is to allow knights to outpace the rest of the army and get stranded. This is true but this game saw their apparently devastating charges fail utterly. One charge, for example, saw me role 4 twos out of 6 dice to hit. The terrain also favoured the dwarves dramatically. In order to avoid difficult terrain (which was actually my main mistake) I compliantly went down the vast fire lanes set up. His guns were able to support one another to bring all the firepower they wished to bear where it was most required. I also woefully under-used my special abilities and equipment and allowed myself to be slaughtered.

I think it is the army. I absolutely love the medieval feel of the Brettonians. They represent a side of Warhammer which has always appealed to me: swords, knights and bows and arrows. I shall try them again on Wednesday with 2000 points – yes that’s right, a lord choice – vs 1000 points each of Dwarves and Ogre Kingdoms in an alliance. Come back and see how it goes.

Commander Portman

Wednesday 09 April, 2008: Warmachine

This week’s Wednesday evening gaming session was given over to the Privateer Press game of Warmachine, based on the Iron Kingdoms role-playing game and adapted into a tabletop war game with an extensive range of 30 mm miniatures. As I said in my last post, this is a new edition to our gaming repertoire. Johnny finally seduced us after a disastrous game of Epic Armageddon in February and it took off from there.

Unfortunately, Olly was a little late in joining us this week due to unforeseen work commitments. Unperturbed, Johnny and I set out to play a quick 350 point game with his Mercenaries, led by their caster Magnus, facing off against a proxied Khador list of mine led by The Butcher. So as to start playing as quickly as possible, we didn’t stop to juggle precise points values but used the warjacks (or just jacks) from our respective army starter boxes. I substituted the starting Khador Caster for the Butcher because he seemed more fun at the time. We chose to play the Mangled Metal scenario, the object of which is to kill the enemy caster. Also, in Mangled Metal games, only a caster and their jacks are allowed, no infantry units or independent characters (known as solos) may be fielded.

Mercenaries (Johnny): Magnus, Mangler, Renegade, Talon.

Khador (Carl): The Butcher, Destroyer, Juggernaut.

Both deployments were unsubtle with us both placing our small forces in clumps in the centre of our deployment zones on opposing sides of the large castle/cathedral which still survived (due to its size and architectural diversity) from the Warhammer game the week before. The two forces edged around to my right hand side of the cathedral and a ferocious close quarters battle broke out. I played rather cagily for Khador, keeping out of charge range and attempting to do some damage with the bombard gun on my Destroyer jack. Eventually however I was unable to hold the mercenaries back any longer and I found myself surrounded by their little jacks. I grinned to myself as I declared the Butcher’s feat. The feat is a special ability that all Casters have and can use once per game. Each Caster’s feat is different and they are usually ludicrously powerful and bizarre powers. The Butcher’s feat is to allow all friendly models near him to roll an extra dice on their damage roles in combat. With their weapons extra sharp, my barely-scratched jacks retaliated. One of his jacks collapsed into a heap of mechano and another tenacious one took a pounding but stayed in the fight. Still Magnus and his remaining jack hung on but when the Butcher clambered over the wrecked jack and focused his energy for a mighty blow with his axe, Magnus was unable to resist. Several bits of him conceded the game. This was my first outing with Khador and I was pleased. They seem more uncomplicated than my main army, Cygnar, and I shall certainly at least experiment with them in the future.

By this time Olly had arrived so we quickly set up for the main game of the evening. Johnny played his main army, which is Cryx (undead guys), Olly used a heavily proxied Menoth (religious fanatics) list, and I continued with Khador (big armoured stuff). I’m very sorry but I can’t remember the army lists properly.

We played a Hordes scenario in which there are a number of fires burning around the board and you must hunt through them to reach the enemy caster. To make the job harder, the fires spread randomly throughout the game and can engulf models or cut you off from either the main battle or the rest of your forces. This is one of the most fun game scenarios I have ever played and we often return to it in our Warmachine moments.

In this game, Olly was at a distinct disadvantage. His deployment zone was sandwiched between mine and Johnny’s and, what with the fires denying us the middle of the board, he experienced a dose of good old pincer attack. He held out remarkably well considering but was pretty much holding off both armies at one point and so could do nothing but crumple. Johnny’s fire spread quickly and effectively cut a reasonable chunk of his force off from the main battle. The Khador army once again did me proud with Cryx pressure from the other side and unlucky dice preventing Menoth from mounting a coherent defence. The Menoth army was driven from the board entirely leaving behind several ruined warjacks. Unfortunately, it was not possible to determine an over all winner as play was curtailed once again by a need to sleep because of work in the morning. Even so, it was a close run thing with the potential to go either way. Again I was pleased with the Khador army which aquitted itself adequately. I used a unit of mechanics who are able to fix warjacks and the few points of damage that my jacks took were almost all removed again by the end of the game. I was also pleased when a Khador Solo, called a Man Hunter, caused 60 points of damage in one turn. Obviously the final damage was much lower than this with the armour of the jack being subtracted but the machine was still torn to pieces by his furious axe blows. I really could come to like this Khador army. They are different from Cygnar in that they are a little more unsubtle. They have their tricks and “buffs” just the same but they seem less complicated. Experimentation will definitely continue.

Next week – which is last week now of course – Warhammer Fantasy Role-play will not happen and Olly and I will have played a game of Warhammer instead. Check back to see how that went.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Friday 04 April, 2008: Warhammer 40000 Apocalypse

I shall start this report with a grovel. I have absolutely no excuse for the enormous gap between postings. A huge amount of incredibly cool gaming stuff has happened and I have allowed some fantastic games to fade in my memory. I will try to recap as much as I can and I truly do hope to get back to regular reporting from now.

We have only played one more session of Vampire: The Requiem since our first foray. In my first Vampire report I hinted at the problems that Joseph and Derek would have with combat. I was proved right when a ferocious – some might say possessed – dog attacked Derek and sent him into torpor. The timely arrival of the local Nosferatu down-and-out, Rhodri, was all that saved them both. They also met again with the blood-doll followers of the psychotic masquerade breaker again and may have been in more trouble if not for the intervention of a couple of Gangerel students who quite literally tore two of the ghouls apart. A third ghoul, a young woman, was taken back to Derek’s haven to feed him when he awoke from his torpor. After a day of what he considered accidental torture of the terrified young woman (which included almost drowning her in the bath among other things) he had learned a couple of interesting hints about her violent master. At that point, Derek awoke and was overcome at receiving such a succulent snack. He frenzied and tore the poor girl’s throat out. Oh well, so much for more answers. At that moment – almost as though I planned it, isn’t it? – there was a crash from below Derek’s flat. The old lady who rented the ground floor of his house had been attacked as a reprisal for the deaths of the ghouls. She was stabbed and a large message, painted in blood on canvas, had been pinned to her body with knives. It was a clear warning. Upon moving the body, Joseph discovered 2 old-style pennies. Interestingly enough, the mysterious messenger who had been writing on Derek’s mirror mensioned pennies. Further investigation was curtailed however by the sound of police sirens. Alerted by the noise, neighbours had notified police of the attack on the old lady. Joseph decided to remove any evidence of the murder. He turned on all of the gas rings on the old lady’s kitchen and went around slamming doors. Just before the police arrived, he threw a lit zippo lighter into the kitchen and ran up stairs to the open window of Derek’s fire escape. The 2 fugitives fled along the rooftop teraces of the row of old Victorian houses and just escaped before the police reached the house – which suffered the full effects of the gas leak and promptly exploded. And that’s where we left the 2 of them. Derek had no haven, Cambridge had been plagued with acts of random violence and vandalism and they could only hope that they had hidden the evidence of the two murdered corpses (the old lady and the young ghoul) from the police. There was also the rapidly approaching Dead Boat Night – a vampire tradition extending back for over a century.

We have also completed another adventure in the wilds of the Empire in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Sophia and Heini were hired to investigate the disappearance of an aid to a wealthy man who lived in the new town which their travels had led to. The clues they found soon led them down into the sewers to investigate the horrifying meeting place of a mysterious cult who wore green and used the symbol of an inverted triangle. The troup of rat catchers who escorted them to this dark place were almost entirely slaughtered on the way back to the sewer entrance by some mysterious attackers who moved inhumanly fast and disappeared back into the dark as quickly as they had arrived. The now diminished and frightened group made their way back to the surface as quickly as possible. Further clues and rumours led from a poison-adict elf who ran a bath house to a terrified leaflet printer and a fantastically mad puppet maker. Eventually, the cult was discovered and Heini, Sophia and Handsup the ogre launched an attack on them at their base in a glass-making factory. They were seen consorting with scaven and this was all the evidence the intrepid mercenaries needed to bring them to justice. The scaven fled back to their subterranean lair at the first sign of trouble and a desperate battle broke out between the party and the five cult ring leaders. Eventually, the cultists were killed to a man. Leaving the grievously-wounded Sophia in the capable hands of a passing doctor (thank the gods for the fate point system which can save a character from death), Heini explored the base and found the imprisoned aide. Unfortunately, the man had been poisoned and died shortly after. Heini rushed back to their employer to find him fighting for his life against a scaven assassin. Surprised by Heini’s entrance, the assassin was caught between 2 opponents and killed. The lord was startled to hear of the death of his henchman and left in a hurry to continue his plans to thwart the Scaven incursion – not before paying the intrepid adventures of course. With Sophia recovering from a very dangerous hand wound, and news of the ratmen so close to the highly-important city of Nulne, what will the dubious duo get up to next?

And yet more excitement has arisen in the interim of my reports with our introduction to a whole new game system. Johnny attempted to introduce us to Warmachine, created and supported by Privateer Press, some time ago. The idea never quite caught on. However, after a rather disastrous game of epic Armageddon (details later) he tried again this February. This time, he succeeded and it has taken up much of our time – and money – since then. Johnny collects the Mercenary faction and Cryx who are basically the undead army. I have now amassed a considerable Cygnar army (the closest thing to the good guys). I will branch out into either the Pirate army or Khador, famous for their heavily armoured units. Olly is currently looking at, but hasn’t yet bought, Menoth who are the zealously religious faction famous for their flame throwing weapons. The game is set in the Iron Kingdoms of Western Imoran where each kingdom’s armies fight constantly for power, glory and, in some cases, their very survival. The setting is categorised as ‘Steampunk’ where a fantasy world of elves, dwarves, wizards and ogres meets an industrial revolution world of steam technology and primitive fire arms. The main feature of Warmachine is the Warjack. A warjack is a six ton, steam-powered machine which is controlled via its Cortex (magical brain thingy) by a Warcaster who is a magician special character who leads the army. There are several different Warcasters for each army with different weapons, spells and abilities which make them more suitable to different styles of armies (IE: ones with lots of Warjacks or lots of infantry or a mix of the two). The game is much more clearly defined in terms of unit allowances and points limits permitted than the Games Workshop systems but is much more complicated in terms of the huge numbers of special rules and abilities of the units available to field. I’m afraid that there are far too many warmachine games from the last couple of months to write up any specific reports but we are planning this Wednesday’s (09 April) gaming session as warmachine so I can give you more details of a specific game after that.

As I mentioned above, my introduction to Warmachine came after a particularly disastrous game of Epic Armageddon. Johnny and I had planned a 6000 point game with Orks vs Space Marines. Unfortunately, I discovered that fate doesn’t have a sense of humour. I named my army and its various elements in very bad taste and every god in every game system I have ever played rebelled. My brand new Space Marine landing craft, packed full of devastater marines and land raiders was shot down by extremely lucky ork flak with the loss of all hands and precisely 1500 points of my army in one go. A similarly charmed Ork anti-aircraft role saw the total destruction of a Thunderhawk gunship full of assault marines with the loss of another 550 points at a single stroke. Combined with other insanely-accurate ork shooting I had lost no less than half of my army before we had finished the second turn. I pleaded for mercy and Johnny admitted that this really did represent a situation in which even the Adeptus Astartes were allowed to run away and hide behind the sofa. We haven’t played any epic since but my interest has been recently rekindled by a rules up-date and I may get back into it soon.

We restarted our Mordheim campaign around a month ago. My Carnival of Chaos warband is battling constantly against Olly’s new scaven and Johnny’s Ostlanders for our particular patch of rubble. It was good to get back into the skirmish games and we look forward to catching up with it again soon. The three games we played were Scaven vs Carnival of Chaos with the Scaven winning due to more missile armed gang members. Then came a game with the Ostlanders fighting the scaven. I believe that this was an Ostlanders win due to even more missile-armed warband members. Finally, the Carnival of Chaos fought the Ostlanders and won due to achieving the break through victory conditions. My nurgle melee warband was finally able to get to grips with the enemy on their own terms and much fun and violence there was.

And lastly, before the apocalypse bits, we move to Warhammer Fantasy Battles. I recently bought a Brettonian battallion in order to indulge my interest in knights and archers to get a truly medieval themed Warhammer army. The effect was only slightly lost by my small squadron of flying cavalry. But, as everyone pointed out: at least the rest of the army would have probably believed in such things in the Middle Ages which tenuously justifies them. Eager to try them out, I called for a Warhammer evening. I had a practice game of 500 points of Brettonians vs Hordes of Chaos against myself which I will include here as a short report:-

Hordes of Chaos: aspiring champion on horse, 7 knights of chaos, 10 chaos warriors.

Brettonians: paladin standard bearer on horse, paladin general on warhorse, 7 knights of the realm, 10 men at arms including command group, 15 archers including command group.

The cheapness of the Brettonian infantry paid off in this game. The board consisted of a fairly densely-packed town on one half and a wood and scattered hills on the other. The Chaos knights gallopped around the far edge of the town to try and outflank the Brettonian archers. The knights of the realm bravely spurred their mounts to meet this threat but by the time the two cavalry units had negotiated the town the Brettonian knights were just a fraction too close and the aspiring champion of Chaos led the charge. Unable to bring their lances to bear, the Brettonian cavalry was hacked down until just the 2 paladins fought bravely against their intact opponents. Still they refused to give ground. Just when all seemed lost, the peasant men at arms arrived. They to had been threading their way through the streets of the town and they launched a charge against the flank of the Chaos knights. One brave man drove his pole arm into the throat of a great Chaos steed and the horse reared in pain. It threw its armoured rider to the ground where the other peasants fell on him with hacking spears. The dying horse bolted through its unit, scattering the knights in all directions. They turned from the new enemy and fell back straight into the wall of a farm house. Even more demoralised by this new obstacle, they milled in confusion and were cut down by the Brettonian champions and their dutiful peasants. In the meantime, the Chaos warriors used as much cover as possible to reach the Brettonian archers who had a wonderful position on top of a hill. Forced to leave shelter for the last mad dash, the warriors were pelted with a hail of arrows which felled 4 of them in one turn. Panicked by this frankly amazing show of accuracy, the others turned tail and fled back towards their own lines. It took them some time to regroup and when they returned to see what had become of their champion and his knights they found the reformed Brettonian force waiting for them. One more fell to the fire of the now mobile archers and the rest were cut down by men-at-arms and the gallant paladins. This was a great game with ups and downs on both sides. Once more the knights of Chaos proved themselves to be horrifying close combat monsters but the massed firepower of elevated long bows demonstrated its game-winning potential. If it wasn’t for the lucky strike of that peasant then the whole force could have been lost.

The three-way Warhammer game we played on the following Wednesday (last week actually so I’m finally catching up) saw 750 points of Brettonians vs Olly’s dwarves and Johnny’s also untested ogres.

Brettonia: paladin standard bearer on horse, paladin general on horse, 7 knights of the realm, 6 knights errant, 3 pegasis knights, 13 skirmishing peasant archers.

Dwarves: 1 cannon with engineer upgrade, thane with pretty axe of horror, dragon slayer with equally horrible runic weaponry, 10x warriors with command group, 10x warriors, 10x thunderers.

Ogre Kingdoms (apolagies, I don’t know the names): hero ogre, 3x core choice ogres, 3x core choice ogres, 3x special choice ogres, 8x nobbler trappers, 8x other nobblers.

The Brettonian army prayed – who wouldn’t – and were delighted to find that their ward saves did actually come in hand once or twice. Even so, their armies waited for them to make the first move. The archers prepared to repel the ogre advance on their right flank while the knights levelled their lances and gallopped towards the dwarven lines. The pegasis knights flew into the courtyard of an awesome castle/monastery (which Olly had fashioned with various Cities of Death buildings) and marvelled at the copious icons of the Adeptus Mechanicus which daubed every surface. Having the same idea as the Brettonians, the dwarves positioned their thunderers to hold their flank against the advancing ogres and prepared to meet the Brettonian cavalry. Unfortunately, the knights misjudged the height of their opponents and succeeded in little more than messing up the hair of one angry dwarf before being hacked to pieces by the sturdy little warriors. I failed far too many 2+ saves and my paladins fell to challenges by the ogre hero. With the average strength of a Brettonian soldier being just 3 they really do suffer tremendously when they don’t get the charge with their lances. Despite the small number of models on the table, the ogres did rather well for themselves. With their three wounds each they were able to withstand charges and their move of 6 and special impact hits rules made them horrifying on the charge. The dwarves fought stubbornly and well, despite never actually leaving their deployment zone. They were hopelessly outpaced by both of the opposing armies but their unbreakable leaders and high toughness kept them safely and they quite handily saw off the Brettonians. The cannon only fired twice, killing just 1 knight in its short life before some kind of ogre scout tore it in half and used the bits to bludgeon its crew to death. The Dwarves suffered because they, in effect, dealt with both armies. The Brettonians hurled themselves straight at the dwarves and the ogres, who couldn’t catch the cavalry to start with but made up for it when the knights were caught up in combats of their own, also moved towards the dwarves in search of anything to fight. Weakened by the Brettonian charge, the dwarves couldn’t face an almost fresh ogre army as well and so were crushed by their new lumbring foes. As expected, the nobblers ran away and the small ogre units did suffer telling casualties simply because of their limited numbers . This was a fun little game but I don’t actually remember exactly who won. I believe there was one depleted Dwarf warrior unit and some sort of ogre left but we called time due to the lateness of the hour and the ominous threat of gainful employment the next morning. From the perspective of measuring Brettonian performance in the game, it does highlight the importance of a hard-hitting unit like the Questing Knights for Brettonia as a remedy for their low strength against my main opponents who play high toughness armies. Next on the purchase list methinks.

And then there was Apocalypse. Since my last report we have actually played three Warhammer 40K Apocalypse games. The first was an alliance of Orks and Chaos against an alliance of Tau, Space Wolves and Dark Angels. I’m afraid I can’t remember exactly what happened in the 5000 point game but some devastatingly-accurate Chaos artillery and a rather textbook Ork flank charge devastated the Imperial army. It was a clear victory for the forces of evil which I genuinely regret not writing up sooner for posterity.

The second game saw a welcome new addition to our Apocalypse coven. Another John brought his Eldar to the fray so the game we played in early March saw 6000 points a side with 2000 points of chaos, 2000 points of Orks and 1000 points of both Dark Eldar and fallen Dark Angels facing off against 2000 points of Tau, Space Wolves and Eldar. I regret that I remember even less about this game except that everyone enjoyed the Chaos army which comprised: Brass Scorpion, 5x Khorne lords on Juggernauts, 4 units of 17 mutants, 1 unit of 20 mutants including 2 heavy stubbers, 1 Tzeentch terminator lord with daemon gun.

The daemon gun was fantastic and killed a comparatively huge amount. The rest of the Chaos army surprised everyone simply by surviving. I still had elements of almost every unit left at the end of the game because I couldn’t get to the enemy through terrain, vehicle wrecks and minefields (a well-chosen asset Eldar John). Again this was a loss for the forces of evil due to having very static armies which couldn’t reach the objectives in time to win an Apocalypse victory. Apocalypse datasheets also revealed their terrifying destructive power with the Brass Scorpeon, Baneblade and a Sunstorm Squadron of 5 Fireprisms adding to the uber-template fire. All in all, it was a whole lot of fun.

And now, without further ado, the gripping report of our last Apocalypse game played on Friday 04-Saturday 05 April. The game was a 6000 pointer with much more clearly defined good and bad armies. 2000 points of Eldar, Orks and Necrons faced off against 2000 points of Space Wolves, Tau and Imperial Guard. Here are the army lists as best as I can remember:-

Orks (Johnny): warboss on bike with loads of hurty upgrades, 10x flash gits with their special character, 15 looters, 2(12x) ork boys with power claw nobs in trucks, 3 battle wagons, 2 big mechs with shock attack guns, big mech with force field, 2 linked rocket buggies. Asset: Bunkers.

Eldar (John): seer council with 1 farseer and 3 warlocks; 10x guardians with star cannon; 10x dire avengers including exarch; wraith lord; avatar; 10x fire dragons including exarch; 5x dark reapers including exarch; sunstorm squadron with 6x fireprisms. Asset: disruptor beacon.

Necrons (Lance): 2 lords with resurrection orbs and a whole bunch of other horrifying wargear spred between them; 5(11x) warriors; monolith; nightbringer; 1x heavy destroyer. Asset: scheduled bombardment.

Imperial Guard (Carl): command platoon with heroic senior officer command squad and anti-tank squad with 3x missile launcher; 10x storm troopers with 2x flamers in chimera; 10x storm troopers with 2x grenade launchers in chimera; 10x storm troopers with 2x meltaguns in chimera; 10x storm troopers with 2x plasma guns in chimera; 2 hellhounds; infantry platoon with junior officer command squad including missile launcher and 1x grenade launcher, 2 infantry squads including missile launcher and grenade launcher; 3(1x) sentinel with lascannon; heavy weapons platoon with junior officer command squad including lascannon, 2 mortar squads. Doctrines: drop troops, grenadiers, storm troopers, sharp shooters, heavy weapons platoons. Asset: shield generator.

Tau (Olly): commander chappy with upgrades; 2 railheads; 22x kroot including shaper and 2x oxen; 2(12x) fire warriors in devil fish; 3x stealth suits; 3x battle suits with burst cannons and flamers; 3x battle suits with fusion guns and plasma rifles; 1x broadside. Asset: vortex grenade.

Space Wolves (Emily): Logan with 4x wolf guard retinue; 9x blood claws in rhino; 10x assault marines; land raider crusader; Whorlwind; Leman Russ Exterminator; baneblade. Asset: orbital bombardment.

The good side won first deployment and turn with 10 ½ minutes to 12. We started dropping our mechanised infantry across the front of our deployment zone (the random no-man’s-land once again went across the width of the table). The plan was to advance with the transports and then unload a withering hail of fire on the enemy assault units with the guard heavy weapons, tau guns and baneblade laying down suppressing fire on the further away stuff. It all went horribly wrong as our first turn’s shooting was utterly appalling. Logan Grimnar was able to assault and wipe out a unit of necron warriors (the Space Wolf power weapons taking advantage of the fact that they had run out of time to deploy the resurrection orb on that side of the board). The terrain impeded the advance of the storm trooper chimeras so that it was a truly pitiful amount of shooting we were able to let lose. The fire warriors did alright with some sneaky EMP grenades destroying the monolith in turn 3. The storm troopers quickly began falling back due to the leadership test causing Necron lord psychic power. The monolith got 2 turns of its zapping everything around it power and it more than made up for its previous performances with casualties and vehicle damage a-plenty. Advancing behind the rhino and land raider, the Space Wolf assault marines thought themselves safe until a barrage of laser energy from the fireprism formation wiped them out to a man. Logan aquitted himself admirably with Ork, Eldar and Necron gore (or nearest equivalent) coating his frost blade. He lost all of his retinue by the end of the game but held back the enemy completely on the Imperial left flank. The baneblade again attracted an amazing amount of fire which proved almost ineffectual with the loss of only a single structure point and no systems through the entire game. It dished out the hurt though with a constant barrage almost phasing out the necrons and one shot wiping out a buggy, 11 orks and their truck. The vortex grenade proved more adventurous than usual. In previous games it has achieved its function fairly competently but then fizzled out of existence. This time it zapped around the board accounting for no less than 5 necron warriors, the nightbringer, an Ork battle wagon, a chimera and a storm trooper. Much more apocalyptic and fun!

As usual, deep striking/reserve troops were a mixed bag. One of my anti-fireprism sentinels landed on top of its target and died. A second was redirected to our back board edge where it had a fatal collision with my arm and the floor resulting in a quick substitution. The disrupter beacon proved its worth this game with a steady stream of Imperial reserves being hurled back to a particularly round patch of woodland. They were followed with indecent haste by the third turn scheduled orbital bombardment which, quite frankly, really hurt. The Imperial bombardment was just as effective however with a salvo of missiles screaming down to breach a bunker and wipe out the entire looter unit – yes, all 15 – in a ground-shaking explosion.

Highlights of the game include the fireprism destroyer hit failing to hit or wound – twice. Also, the fantastic display of bravado from the last surviving Ork nob. His unit had been decimated by the Baneblade as I said earlier. Still he refused to flee the excitement of this highly explosive battlefield. He rushed towards the Leman Russ and punched his sparking power claw right through its armour. Wiggling it about and snapping it madly closed on anything he found inside he accidentally squashed a fuel can. The sparking mechanism of his claw touched off an explosion in the confined space, detonating the tank and killing both him and his nearby warboss who was happily basking in his victory over the Imperial Guard officer and his command squad. A splendidly violent end for all involved and the most damage the Leman Russ had caused all game.

The mechanised advance was stalled completely by the sheer luck and weight of gaus fire from the Necrons. I will always maintain that the ability of even their standard infantry weapons to destroy land raiders is excessive. The Imperials were hemmed in by a wall of immobile or wrecked vehicles which also reduced fire lanes for the heavier guns behind. We simply couldn’t advance.

The game was a clear victory for the forces of darkness. They held 4 objectives to 1 imperial held marker. One marker was unclaimed for some odd reason which I can’t remember. Our last turn was spent almost exclusively gunning down Necrons as they were only 4 or 5 models away from phasing out. Had the vortex grenade – which remained in play until the end of the game – scattered just a little further at one point it could all have been entirely different.

Our next apocalypse game is scheduled for early May with an alliance of Tyranids, Necrons and Eldar facing off against Orks, Tau and Space Wolves. What’s that? Background fluff? The game is set to be another 6000 points a side with my interim project being the scratch building of a Tyranid Barbed Hierodule – with slightly altered genetic make up to reflect the model I have in mind – Check back to find out how that goes. This Wednesday’s gaming will be a 3-way Warmachine game so we can delve further into the mechanics with the next blog report. Stay tuned for what I fervently hope to be more regular up-dates.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Friday 11 January: Warhammer 40000 Apocalypse

Well that was an awesome week end! We played a 6000 point a side Warhammer 40,000 Apocalypse game with my Chaos Marine and traitor Imperial Guard facing off against a desperate alliance of Necrons, Orks, Space Wolves and Tau. Read on to hear the bloody story of how Lord Charnell fared in his first Apocalypse command without Abaddon’s supervision.

Necrons (Lance, 1500 points): 4x 10 Necron Warriors, Lord with Orb and the electric close combat power, monolith, Nightbringer. Disruption beacon stratagem.
Tau (Olly, 1500 points): 2 hammerheads with rail guns, broadside, sniper drone team, 8 path finders with devil fish, rapid insertion force with 6 stealth suits and 3x 3 crisis suits, commander. Orbital bombardment stratagem.
Orks (Johnny, 1500 points): warboss, 12 nob bikers, 20 storm boys, 2x 1 buggy, 11 boys with truck, big mech with shock attack gun. Careful planning stratagem.
Space Wolves (Emily, 1500 points): Logan Grimnar with 4 wolf guard retinue, 10 bloodclaws in rhino, 4 bloodclaw bikers, leman russ exterminator, whorlwind, 9 grey hunters, wolf lord. Vortex grenade stratagem.

Chaos Marines and traitor imperial guard (me, 6000 points: leman russ demolisher, 2x leman russ battle tank, leman russ exterminator, artillery battery with 3 basilisks, baneblade, brass scorpion of khorne, 2x defilers, 2x chaos predators, chaos vindicator, chaos dreadnought, 3x armoured fist squads in chimeras, imperial guard command squad with commissar in chimera, 2x 10 chaos marines in rhinos, 9 chaos marines in rhino, chaos lord with combi-melta and power fist, chaos lord with mark of khorne and daemon weapon, 2x 9 khorne berserkers, 10 chaos bikers with mark of slaanesh, sorcer on bike with mark of slaanesh, 5 raptors, chaos lord with jump pack and paired lightning claws. Disruption beacon, blind barrage, precision barrage and jammers stratagems.

We rolled the scatter dice for deployment zones and the no-man’s-land wasn’t so straight this time. It actually ran diagonally across the width of the table making for a much narrower front line than I had anticipated. Interestingly, I was given the deployment zone with most of the usable cover but this was not such a blessing as all my long-ranged reserves were hemmed in behind a large central wood which blocked sight for my battle cannons. It also cramped my assault units some what. I had originally intended to send the Brass Scorpion off on its own so that it would either blow up and kill all their models or blast and tear everything apart. Either way, I didn’t quite intend the rather destructive thing that actually happened.

I just won the bid for deployment with 14 minutes to their 15. Frantically, I began dropping vehicles across the front with the two groups of mechanised infantry dominating the right side backed up by the baneblade in front of which was the jump pack lord with his raptors. On the left were the bikes and the sorcerer with the brass scorpion. My berserkers and khorne lord went in the woods in the centre of my deployment zone with the disruptor beacon. The basilisk battery went behind the woods right back on my board edge.

The front of their deployment zone started out as a terrifying mass of necron warriors and space wolf assault troops with the storm boys to back them up and the monolith in the centre. Lines of tau guns and the big mech made up the rear with Logan Grimnar and his vortex grenade starting surprisingly far back (you have to love the jammers asset).

In my first turn I gave them everything. The Scorpion wiped out the bike unit with its tail cannon and then annihilated the bloodclaws in their rhino with its demolisher. The sorcerer successfully lashed a unit of necrons into charge range and then the bikes rapid fired into them, wiping the unit out in their assault phase. The baneblade cannon wiped out almost another unit of necrons but I think the demolisher and smaller guns missed. The lascannons on the baneblade proved utterly useless throughout the entire game. The artillery battery opened up on the storm boys with 8 kills in 2 shells - Not bad and it did pin them. With a turn like that it didn’t look good for the good guys.

Then they had their turn. The monolith released a torrent of electrical energy which stabbed and rippled over the nearby enemy units – and didn’t wound a single one. The majority of the ork reserves were successfully diverted by my beacon to their back board edge. 3 rail guns completely failed to damage the baneblade. With a turn like that things didn’t look good for the good guys.

Turn 2 saw the scorpion forget to fire its tail cannon and miss with its demolisher. It charged the monolith and began tearing into the living metal. Such was its fervour that it missed with 3 out of its 4 attacks. The last one did penetrate and immobilise the terrible machine though. The bikes charged the Tau commander and there they would remain happily locked in combat for most of their foreshortened lives. Olly’s dice returned with a vengeance as he happily made some 9 or 10 invulnerable saves for his commander against the sorcerer’s force weapon. The scattered shots of the basilisks accounted for one or two more models, not a particularly good show. My second barrage proved fairly useful though as it dropped several necrons and blew up one of the ork buggies which had arrived from reserve this turn.

If I was a less fair man I would probably not tell you about the second turn of the good guys. I would simply say “Um, ouch!” and leave it at that. I am fair however so here goes...

The last of the ork reserves arrived – remember that they took careful planning as their asset. Most of them – the nob biker horde and the warboss with his truck mob – were moved by the disruptor beacon. The stupid 35 point buggy wasn’t. It fired its linked rokket launcher at the back of my brass scorpion. It missed. It rerolled. It hit. It penetrated. It rolled a 6. That meant a chain reaction result on the superheavy damage chart. That meant losing one of its two structure points and rolling on the damage chart again. It rerolled. It rolled a 5. That meant losing a structure point on the superheavy damage chart. The scorpion was destroyed. When a superheavy is destroyed you roll on the catastrophic damage table to see what happens to the wreck. The brass scorpion represents its psychopathic khornate tendencies by adding +2 to its catastrophic damage chart under the Doomsday Reactor rule. It achieved an apocalyptic explosion. This meant that everything within 3D6 inches (9 in this case) takes a strength 9, AP2 hit. This happened to be most of my army. I lost 3 chimeras, 4 marines, 4 berserkers and 12 guardsmen. The monolith took no damage. I think the only wounds on the allied side were 3 grey hunters and the buggy that fired the shot in the first place. This is definitely the point where things started to go wrong. Olly also used his bombardment in this turn, massive lasers and shells screaming down from orbit to pound 2 of the basilisks into scrap. Shots also started getting through the baneblade’s armour as well with it losing its demolisher cannon and having its drive damaged over the next turn or so. My dreadnought, all excited about fighting the monolith, decided to wait a turn to wipe out a guard infantry unit with a fire frenzy. When it did charge the nightbringer it was so nervous that it couldn’t perform properly. It missed and so the necron god chopped its face off.

After that, things just got disastrous. My vindicator rumbled on to the field and its bound daemonic essence was released. Howling with glee at being freed it fired a demolisher shell right into one of my rough rider units. Those that could galloped swiftly off the field. 2 more leman russ shells also scattered harmlessly and my predator, which spent most of the game dueling with the space wolves’ exterminator, failed to hit.

I am afraid my memory becomes a little hazy about the precise order of things after this. The rapid insertion force were rapidly inserted and killed the vindicator and a defiler. The second defiler tore through two units of crisis suits in combat before being fusion gunned into oblivion. The baneblade, which could now only move 3 inches a turn, was chased half way down the board by some not so carefully placed ork reserves (why won’t people drive their trucks under the designated area of an orbital bombardment when you ask them?). One positive thing about the baneblade is that it did make something like a dozen saves on its primary weapon to avoid it being destroyed. It did end up being stunned for almost every turn in the rest of the game but it did not blow up until the tank itself did.

On that subject, I thought it deserved a little fiction…

“Gerrit lads!” roared the warboss. Vaulting over the side of his truck he charged towards the massive bulk of the baneblade, his great chopper slamming into the metal with tremendous force. Giving shout to a mighty “Waaagh!” his boys followed, slugger shots rattling off of the tanks front armour. The nob grinned. Here was a foe worthy of his power klaw. With a puff of oily smoke and a grinding of gears the teeth of the weapon bit deeply into the scarred vehicle. The tank commander stood in the turret braving the badly aimed bullets of the orks to rake them with fire from his heavy stubber. All around him the sounds of battle rang with artillery and automatic weapons fire booming and chattering. Suddenly, a cacophony louder than everything else drew his attention. A cloud of black smoke and a din of engines announced the arrival of a horde of enormous orks on bikes. Power claws and shooters bristled from the great green monsters as they turned to face his beleaguered tank. With a gunning of engines and another ear-splitting war cry they charged. Blows hammered again and again against the tank as it desperately tried to extricate itself. The smaller weapons mounted on its hull and sponsens fired until their barrels warped but still the tide of ferocious greenskins came on.

Suddenly, the commander was thrown from his perch to land in a heap in the noisy interior of the vehicle. A great blast of vivid emerald energy had slammed into the side of the baneblade and a jagged crack appeared in the armour down the left side. As the crew watched, yet more of the armour was stripped by the disintegrating energies of the monolith’s cannon.

“Stand to your stations!” called the commander. “anti-tank weaponry seek targets on the port side.” The nervous young lascannon gunner on the left sponsen fired shot after shot but his hands trembled and he didn’t stop to aim properly. A few moments later, the awesome energy of the monolith’s gun hit the vehicle again and sliced effortlessly through the armour where the gunner’s head was. It stripped him to his component atoms and he was whisked away in the maelstrom of energy from the cannon’s blast. A sizeable slab of armour had now been torn from the tank’s side and the commander, who had now regained his feet, could see the light and smoke of the battlefield beyond. He scrambled back up the ladder to the stubber in a desperate attempt to rid the tank of more attackers. As he stuck his head above the hull of the tank he was suddenly gripped with a terror the likes of which he had never known. Visions of violence and evil surpassing anything he could imagine flashed through his head and he screamed. He looked back to see a patch of blackness gliding across the battlefield. The only thing truly discernible was a great, gleaming scythe. The commander fell back against the rim of the turret hatch and stared in horror as the apparition slowed to a halt directly behind his baneblade. It raised its massive weapon and the commander’s mind exploded with the great booming laugh of the immortal creature as the blade swept down.

“We’s neally froo!” bellowed the warboss in triumph. Most of his mob were dead now but the armour was torn and holed in many places.

“Boss, da god of the metal skelies is comin!” called one of the bikers.

“no! we’s gonna get the humies tank first!” screamed the war boss.

His eyes were caught by the mesmerising curve of the nightbringer’s enormous scythe raised over the vehicle. He tracked the swing of the great blade down and was then knocked several feet backwards as the massive vehicle exploded in a ball of shrapnel and flame.

The explosion of the baneblade was not quite so much fun. It didn’t reach as far as the scorpion. It didn’t spread as far. It did kill the nob of the warboss’s boys unit and I think it took a wound off of one of the nob bikers. The nightbringer stood in the wash of flames, impassive.

The last part of the game was just mopping up. My sorcerer finally redeemed himself by killing Logan Grimnar before he could use his vortex grenade but I think he was then zapped by the monolith. My Khorne lord clambered bodily over a wrecked chimera (there was a cool bit where his move only took him far enough over the hull to hang by his axe from one of the tracks of the tipped vehicle), and charged into the commander fight which, at this point, had Logan, Olly’s Tau leader and my sorcerer. With a roar, the frenzied slaughterman leapt down from the top of the vehicle and charged into the fray, hacking in all directions. Unfortunately, he tripped over his cloak and cut his knee quite badly (bloody new codex daemon weapons). While the sorcerer was bandaging it for him, Logan cut his head off.

My predator lost its duel with the leman russ and one of my standard Leman Russes was destroyed by a rail gun. With no infantry, and no more than 5 vehicles, I conceded the game.

We all agreed that this had been a much more apocalyptic game. We had the templates and superheavies to make it stand out from 40k in a very exciting and destructive way. I heartily recommend it.

I lost because of some horribly unlucky ordnance in the middle turns. I fired at one unit of battle suits with 2 leman russes, a defiler, an exterminator and an anti-infantry predator with no effect. It gave them the respite they needed to regroup and shoot the crap out of me.

Our next apocalypse game is scheduled for early February and will see a team with my Chaos Marines allying with Johnny’s Orks and facing off against Lance, Emily and Olly with Dark Angels, Space Wolves and Tau respectively. Keep checking back for it.

For the rest of that evening we played a 1500 point 3-way game with Imperial Guard, Tau and Orks.

Guard: 3x basilisks (one indirect fire), 2x 25-man infantry platoons, heroic senior officer command squad, 6 hardened veterans, 3 sentinels, 10 storm troopers in chimera, 10 rough riders.

Tau: 2x hammerhead, 1 broadside, 12 fire warriors, 8 path finders with devil fish, 1 commander, 19 kroot with shaper and 2 krootoxen, 1 piranha, 7 vespids.

Orks: battle wagon, 20 storm boys, 2 deth kopters, 20 shooter boys, warboss on bike, 12 boys with truck, big mech with shock attack gun.

We played a modified take and hold mission with a crossroads representing the objective. The first turn was night fighting.

After the mammoth apocalypse game the turns seemed to go fairly quickly. The basilisks did relatively well, wiping out the vespids one turn, pinning the kroot for a turn, destroying a hammerhead (thereby denying the Tau control of the objective) and stunning the battle wagon several turns in a row. The orks two units of note were the storm boys who were able to assault the imperial guard on the first turn (gulp!). The only problem with having 3-way armies is that there is fairly limited space and so the ork assaulters were able to tear their way through almost all of my army. I was only saved by a stubborn autocannon crew who finally downed the power klaw-toting nob. By this time however I only had 3 or 4 scoring units left and they were all miles away from the objective. The ork warboss on bike also made multiple armour and cover saves with abandon and chomped his way through the Tau lines destroying almost all the infantry. He was finally brought down by a fusillade of Kroot rapid firing.

The Tau, despite being on the end, were caught between a rock and a hard place. With orks running amuck through their lines, crap dice rolls and imperial guard artillery bombardment they were hard pressed. They did incredibly well under the circumstances and would have won if we hadn’t realised that independent characters weren’t scoring units. When we discovered this it was nearing half 3 on the second night of a very late week end and we thought a draw was a good result considering the carnage we’d packed into the game so far. It really was probably one of the most evenly-balanced games I’ve played in a long time.

I like the artillery battery heavy support configuration. 3 basilisks, despite their weak armour, can be a formidable challenge when in good cover. I felt that all three armies were well balanced and the gaming showed both this and our relative experience at playing one another.

Sorry again that this is so hideously late, I will catch up soon - I promise.

Commander Portman

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Wednesday 9 January, 2008: Warhammer Fantasy Role-play

I’ve been both lax and busy over the last couple of weeks which is a very dangerous combination. Nevertheless, I hope that now we can get the reports back to normal – just one or two to catch up on.

Well it’s a new year and we threw ourselves back into gaming with great gusto. Over the holiday period I played several games of Epic with my dad and our friends at his Welsh Weyr Gaming Club (the link to their site is on this blog, it’s well worth a look). This included a fantastic four-way 3000 point a side game with 2 Space Marine and an Eldar player as well as myself with my inconceivably exciting new Chaos army which was an unexpected and truly fantastic Christmas present. Thank you very much again, Julian. Unfortunately, this game had to end early but what we had was quite intense and violent.

That, however, is now unfortunately too far back for even my memory to remember in any detail so it must remain a mystery in the blood-soaked past of my models.

Our first game back in Norwich after the new year though was a sojourn into the dirty and violent lands of the Old World for a session of Warhammer Fantasy Role-play. To find out what fiendish designs Johnny had for Heini and Sophia, read on.

As you may recall, we left the two characters basking after their triumph over the Nurgle witch which allowed the Pie Eve celebration to go ahead. Sophia awoke the next morning in a hysterical fever with gums which oozed puss and violent delusions aimed at all around her. After the exorbitent procurement of some ointment (which we later discovered was made from deer excrement – thanks Johnny) her fever and puss eruptions began to subside. This adventure, which took place during her convalescence, was a fantastic blend of farce and adventure in which our ownership of the ogre Handsup was called into question. His previous owner, whose town we ravaged in our first adventure, came to the town to which we had fled. She recognised her ogre but, as she mistreated him, we refused to give him back. Besides, we had stolen him fair and square. We challenged her to the ancient halfling custom of Trial By Pie and, as it was coincidentally still pie week, the trials began.

There were three challenges: the eating, the throwing and the making. We, of course, cheated. Our entrant in the eating contest was the ogre in question while our opponent only had her halfling nephew to call on. He did his best but was too slow and the ogre ended up eating most of his pies as well so was declared the winner.

Sophia, with her steady elvish hand was chosen for the throwing but her illness weakened her. She was bested by some crap dice and the brattish niece of the ogre’s previous owner.

So, amazingly, it came down to the last trial: the making. Heini and Grechin, being the two challengers, were to take this challenge. Grechin was a wonderful cook and so looked to have the upper hand. Heini, however, had absolutely no scruples so we decided to think laterally.

Some gossipping revealed the existence of a mystical halfling who lived a couple of villages away. Conveniently we had 2 days to the tasting and that gave us just enough time to make the journey.

The village proved to be a filthy backwater of a place but we were able to charm the villagers into cooperation with a round of drinks for all at the tavern. We discovered that Hans, the pieman, lived in a little house at the end of the street. He turned out to have no legs. He wheeled himself about on a little frame. He promised Heini he could make him a pie with his face on it and demanded nothing more than a turnip from us.

Thinking this would be an easy proposition, Heini went hunting for a turnip. He stole the last one from one of the gardens and returned it to Hans. Hans delightedly ate it. It wasn’t for the pie, he just liked them. What he really wanted was a kiss from Heini. Promising him this one request, Olly’s character bid him close his eyes … and ran away with the pie.

The pie did indeed bear a fantastic likeness to Heini’s face. This, combined with some terrifying dreams in which wheeled torsoes called to him for kisses, led to Olly’s character losing a sanity point. The next morning, having some time to spare, Sophia went to see the miracle of the pie with faces on for herself. She asked for a pie and asked in advance what the price would be. This time, obviously not liking the look of her fair elvish features, Hans declared that a turnip would suffice. Hunting desperately, Sophia was unable to find a turnip but, unscrupulous to the last, the two adventurers came up with a plan to paint a raddish or something white. Amazingly, this seemed to work and they made their escape with their 2 portrait pies.

When they returned to the village in which the contest was to be held they discovered that Grechin had used their absence to run a propaganda campaign. She had been busily making and handing out pies so that word would get around of her fantastic cooking. We wasted no time in doing the same. Shuddering slightly I cut my face into little pieces and handed them out. People were mesmerised by the wonderful flavours of the pie and soon the village had changed its mind. We were the favourite.

On the morning of the contest, everything went wrong. Heini, in a last ditch attempt to win support, made a proclamation about having a “pie for the people”. They thought this was a good idea and were eager to share the rest of Heini’s face after the mayor had taken his piece for the tasting. Unfortunately, there were two people, the mayor and a food critic from a special society in Nulne, who greatly desired the rest of the pie. We decided, once we had been declared the winners of the competition, to sell the pie to the highest bidder. The mayor offered a huge sum and, seeing the agitation of the crowds who came to witness the contest, we quickly gave it to him proclaiming that he would be happy to share it with his village. At that point a full-blown riot broke out and the mayor was mobbed. Startlingly, he suffered a heart attack whilst in the middle of the maelstrom and died. The pie was literally torn apart. The mayor’s assistant collapsed into a hysterical heap imploring us to leave their town in peace. Our goal had been achieved. Grechin, upon tasting our pie, gave in gracefully and left the town. The ogre was now truly ours. With this in mind, we bade farewell to the very few friends we had made in the town and legged it before the crowd could reorganise and take things out on us. We headed into the empire proper. I wonder what will happen next?

That was one of the most interesting role-playing sessions I have ever participated in. There was no combat but the contest and the story line continued Johnny’s awesome story telling. The system and the characters continue to engage us and I really can’t wait to see what adventures we will find as we continue our journey to the city of Nulne.

Next time, the 6000 point a side apocalypse game we played on Saturday. It was brought forward for various reasons. This isn’t all bad though as it means we can fit another one in in early February. Read all about it as soon as I have time. A teaser: super heavies and 3d6 inch strength 9 explosions.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Wednesday 19 December, 2007: Warhammer

I’m sorry this one’s so late, I thought I’d already posted it. Alas, the internet toys with us all. Here is the account of the rather strange, although extremely fun, warhammer game I promised last time.

The most fitting background that we could conceive of was that the wood elves had been corrupted by the insidious whispering of Chaos. The unthinkable had happened: members of the elder race had fallen to the ruinous powers! News of this treachery swept through the lands of the Old World and folk trembled behind closed doors at the thought of such a terrible army as was now sweeping through the Empire.

Empire troops were in short supply with Greenskin and Chaos incursions elsewhere and a rampaging army of the dead massing in the south. The only force which could be mobilised to counter this heretical horde was a brave army of dwarves who issued forth from their mountain stronghold to give battle.

Dwarves: lord with some upgrades, 20 thunderers, 2 cannons with engineers (one of which was a master), flame cannon, 10 long beards, 8 assorted slayers, 10 rangers, 9 miners, tooled up thane.

Wood Elves: 2X 10 glade guard, 8 glade riders, 10 dryads, 6 way watchers, level 2 spell singer, Noble on horse with shiny things.

Hordes of Chaos: aspiring champion on barded steed with toys, 9 chosen knights, chariot, 10 warriors, 15 marauders, 12 hounds of chaos.

This was the first in our new team gaming season. We are coming to appreciate the level of enjoyment which scenarios and missions add to our games. Due to the rules and restrictions for these missions though they are not easy to adapt for multi-player gaming. To resolve this we have started teaming up. This game saw 1000 points of my Hordes of Chaos ally with 1000 points of Johnny’s Wood Elves to fight 2000 points of Olly’s dwarves.

We had more units so were able to keep our best for deployment until last. We were also lucky that the boarded was quite thickly wooded on our side meaning that the tricksy elveses could sneak into effective range without movement restrictions. The knights were able to put a great deal of nice high terrain between themselves and the cannons and the sheer speed of the elves allowed us to run rings around the dwarves.

I had recently read about the “weighted flank tactic of warhammer where one end of the army is comprised of fast assault troops. The other flank should be strong enough to hold up the enemy but this should be a delaying tactic only. The rest of the forces will be deployed in the centre to assist where needed. I thought we should try this out. We deployed the knights with the chaos champion and the elf cavalry on the right flank (and what a sight it was to). The warriors, chariot, glade guard, sorcerer and elf lord made up the centre while the nice cheap marauders and fast but inexpensive hounds made up the left flank. The dryads advanced through a large wood which extended far into the board on the left side.

With the miners burrowing and the rangers infiltrating the dwarves had little to set up. Their war machines all set up at the same time with the two cannons covering either side of the large wood and the flame cannon ominously scanning the centre. The thunderers deployed behind a hill on our weighted flank (dramatically underestimating the speed of our cavalry). The longbeards and slayers held the centre.

Winning the roll for first turn we sent almost everything barreling forward with the spell singer skulking in the ruined building to do his mojo and some of the glade guard pacing themselves to get some shooting in. The way watchers, which had infiltrated, moved out in front of the cannons and let loose with their bows. Their shooting was quite limited with only one dwarf crewman falling victim to the hail of arrows. With noticeably browner trousers they waited to be obliterated by the dwarf guns. The dwarf retaliation was below par. The first cannon fired a wall of grape shot at the way watchers. 4 were hit but only 2 were seriously injured by the scything shrapnel. The second cannon, reloaded too quickly to take care of the nearby threat, misfired and was then unable to fire either that turn or the next. The flame cannon did slightly better by landing a gout of fire on the now visible chaos hounds. Three were incinerated and the rest turned tail and ran but were able to regroup shortly afterwards. The thunderers, choosing to shoot with several of their number rather than moving onto the hill, sent shots towards the galloping knights. Needless to say, they clanged harmlessly from their armour.

Turn 2 saw combat joined. The knights hammered home into the thunderers where the chaos champion and dwarf lord dueled for a turn or two before the lord’s extra wound prevailed and he felled the champion of chaos. Immediately another knight took his place however and the lord was cut down by the chosen warrior’s already blood-slicked blade. The sheer size of the thunderer unit helped the dwarves as the knights were bogged down for several turns allowing the dwarves combat troops to stump about grimly unhindered.

I’m afraid that the turns become a little blurred after this however. The way watchers proved quite limited with their shooting again but the dryads soon reached the cannons and tore their crews to pieces. The flame cannon was destroyed by glade guard arrows and the chariot charged and dispatched the whole unit of longbeards (although their great axes did some terrible damage to its paintwork).

The game did not all go right for chaos. The glade riders executed a flee reaction to a charge by the slayers. Confidently we decided that this was the best course of action. After all, the table edge behind them was quite far enough away… It turned out to be 16 inches away which was quite irrelevant to the elven cavalry which rolled a massive 17 inches for their fall back. The slayers ended up in combat with the chaos warriors and, much to the chagrin of the unholy warriors, beat them. The ensuing flight saw the warriors skulk behind a unit of glade guard who were charged by the berserk slayers. Unfortunately, the knights were free by then and they charged the flank of the depleted slayer unit. The frenzied dwarves were soon destroyed.

The game ended with the miners, the last dwarf unit, being slowly whittled down by elven archery and magic. Their truly terrifying weapons load out saw the entire chaos army desperately trying not to get into combat with them. Desperate to escape the hail of arrows, the few survivors moved into a wood. They were literally surrounded with the knights, chariot, warriors, hounds, marauders, dryads and at least 1 unit of glade guard still above half strength. In the end though wild magicks proved their undoing and the very cover they sought rose against them and smote them down. A fantastic round of elven magic.

Well that was a truly great game. The dwarves had some appalling luck with their usually devastating missile troops proving almost entirely useless in the long turn. The terrain was also extremely favourable for the chaos/elf alliance with woods, hills and buildings offering cover from the thunderers particularly. In the end though it comes down to the power of our alliance. The awesome combat prowess of the hordes of chaos combined with the mobility and firepower of the wood elves makes for a formidable army which I for one would greatly fear to face. After saying that, I did agree to play 2000 points of orks and goblins against an alliance of elves and dwarves. They’ll be picking up the pieces from that one for a long time!

Our next planned session will see a return of Warhammer Fantasy Role-play. I wonder what Sophia and Heini will get up to this time? In the meantime, have a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Commander Portman