Friday, July 31, 2009

Battle report: who needs Tiger tanks?

Ju-87 with 37mm AT - ready to wreck some sh*t.

Last night we assembled at Dallas' place for a game of WW2 Spearhead. The scenario was based on an article from an old copy of Gloire, pitting a German heavy tank battalion against a Russian tank brigade loaded for bear with JS-2 heavy tanks. The scenario was set for Command Decision, but I fiddled with it and set it up for Spearhead. A clash of the heavy tanks - should be good stuff...

The scenario was a basic breakthrough, set in early 1945 in Eastern Poland. The hapless 9th army, watching its supply corridors get overrun, decides to protect at least one of them by committing the 502nd HeavyPanzer Battalion, freshly equipped with some new Tiger II tanks, against the Soviet Spearhead.

Dallas and Brian rolled with the Germans, while Bill, Mike F and Wes went forward for the proleteriat.

The terrain was covered in swamps and forests, and if that wasn't good enough, all the clear ground was treated as rough going for tanks, to account for the winter muck.

The German side had battle group of an infantry battalion, with attached PAK 40s, included one mobile battery on an RSO chassis, and a company of Stug IIIgs. The Panzer Battalion had two companies of Tiger IIs, and one company Tiger Is. I applied a house rule for the King Tigers, where they would risk breaking down if they tried to move too far too fast, to account for what I understand to be their pretty awful record of mechanical liability.

Soviets always bring a lot to the Spearhead table, and this was no exception, with 20 platoons of T-34/85s, 9 platoons of JS-2s and attached heavy and light gun regiments, as well as two infantry battalions.

Of course, with Spearhead, you get to have all of the elements covered off, including off-table artillery and air support. The Russians had the use of a Sturmovik flight, while the Germans had a 150mm gun battalion off table (with only three fire missions) and the vain hope for as many as two passes by Ju-87s with AT cannons. Given the state of the Luftwaffe at this point in the war, the Germans would need to roll Vegas to get those Stukas to show...

"Who came up with the terrain rules for this f**ing scenario?"

The Soviets made a slow, mud-choked advance, ultimately being ambushed by the waiting German infantry and AT guns. The hapless German rifle platoons knocked out several tanks, and a first mission of 150mm artillery hit some Russian infantry pretty hard, but the mud was a bigger opponent than the Germans. Gradually Bill and Mike managed to collect a fairly serious concentration of armour and infantry ready to roll over some Stug IIIs defending a German roadway.

For the German's part, Dallas advanced the heavy panzer battalion slowly on to the table, with only one platoon suffering a break down. The pace was gradual, but a pretty cool head to head tank smack down was taking shape.

But then the Stukas came...

Yes - the German players needed a vegas roll, and they got it - TWICE! The German forward air controller obviously had a phone plan with unlimited weekday and weekend minutes. The Russian armoured column was quite concentrated, and the Stug crews had a great vantage as the planes massacred the Soviet tanks with their 37mm AT cannons. It was enough to rout the JS-2s, and leave the T-34-85s, weakened by suprise AT attacks from pockets of German infantry to face a gun line of Tiger IIs...we called the game at that point.

Props to Dallas for the Rudel-like air support rolls (especially after the last two artillery strikes accomplished nothing). As Arty says in his rules, airpower brings "joy and heartbreak". A valley full of smoking Russian tanks served as testament to both aspects of timely air support in this game.

So, in terms of the JS-2s vs. Tiger IIs...I guess that will have to wait for another game! The JS tanks were all wrecked before the Tigers could engage them.

As for the scenario, I really overdid it with the terrain restricitions. While the gumbo-like terrain rules gave an appreciation of what fun it is to lead a tank spearhead through muck, I think it prolonged the game needlessly. In the event we play this one again, those aspects of the rules will change for sure!

Thanks to everyone for coming out and playing (even though the mud-like progress kept us up pretty late). Thanks also to Bill for the show and tell from Historicon!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

40K Reborn

It seems that Greg and Dallas are building 40k armies, Cam has talked some trash about finishing a Tau army, Dave is making a Crimson Fist army and with my modern Germans done, I'm going to finally get this 1500 point Space Marine army repainted. With all this flurry of 40k, do we want to set some kind of goal to keep us on track (and hold Cam to his word)? Last summer Dave mentioned running a mini-campaign including some Apocalypse games. This idea sounded pretty cool! Do we dare delve into so much 40k? Did Cam actually paint his Tau? Does Greg have any gaskets to spare? What do you think?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bundeswehr finished!

This squad will ride in their soon to be complete Marder
The 40mm grenade launcher!
Panzerfaust 3's and Milan below.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I've Seen the Future, and it is Dark

I feel like I'm fast becoming master of the mini-project. Stick some junk together, roll out a game on Thursday, call it done. Works for me, I guess :-)

Anyway in this case we roll back about 4 years. A local used book/comic shop had a copy of the old GW game "Dark Future", the game of future vehicle combat. It was in great shape, complete and something like $20 so I picked it up and it went in the closet, there to sit for, well, 4 years.

A couple months ago I was at Wal-Mart looking at the toy cars (like you do) and saw a very cool line of 1/64 vehicles with a unique theme: "For Sale". These were basically models of cars that you see parked in a driveway with a "For Sale" sign on 'em. Kinda beat up, a bit rusty, but the kind of vehicle that would instantly attract and induce an overpowering sense of want in a 17-year-old car enthusiast, or me ;-)

So I saw these cars a few months ago, and an idea started to percolate. Last week when I saw that they were going on sale it all came together - I would pick up these cars to use for Dark Future! They're already pre-painted with some neat paintjobs, all I have to do is some minor conversion to add the guns and hey presto! Thursday game. So tonight that's what I did...

Camaro ex-Police Interceptor

"There's no Justice, there's just us"

Datsun 510

Hood lascannon and turret MG

My favorite - Shelby Mustang GT350

Called the "GT350" because it was 350 feet from Shelby's workshop to his office... true story

1967 Chevy Nova SS

My first car was a Chevy II (lower trim version of the Nova) but it wasn't much like this one!
This was a great mini-project because of the sheer lack of effort involved. I basically blacked out the front windows, drilled holes for the weapon mounts, and installed the wire cages inside the cars. I think they look pretty cool, now I just have to paint the bikers that came with the game. I've done some minor conversions to add helmets to them and they should only take maybe one or two evenings to paint.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Kampfgruppe Burch: Forget the Marder; meet the PUMA IFV

On July 3, 2009, the German Defence Procurement Office and PSM GmbH, Kassel, signed the contract for the production of 405 PUMA Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles, to replace the Marder in the Bundeswehr mechanized infantry.

Here's some pages with photos:

RE: new Imperial Guard APCs:
Quick solution - use Razorbacks instead of Rhinos to "count as" Chimeras, and mount the secondary weapon (heavy bolter or heavy flamer) co-axially in the turret instead of in the hull. Count the hatches as the fire points for the mounted infantry.

Cool - Bundeswehr Theme it is!

Thanks to Conscript Dave V for his awesome and quite thorough recommendations on a new, 1500 point 5th Edition 40k army. Definitely looks cool, and I am fired up to get moving on it.

Painting the camo could be tricky - I've done it on ultra-moderns, but on my 6mm tanks! Dallas and Mike F are the ones with the awesome results painting camo, so I'll have to crib off of them to get a sense of how it is done. But I'm pretty sure the GW washes will definitely come in handy!

I'm still trying to decided whether to go woodland, desert, or perhaps something a bit "alien". We'll see what the upcoming experiments bring...

Also, I may experiment with bashing a GW Rhino into some kind of APC that would count as a Chimera - it could be made to look a lot like a Marder IFV. On the other hand, I have a bunch of unpainted Chimeras - and while they are a pain to assemble, they look plenty fine on their own.

So watch for photos kit bashing and experimental painting, coming soon to this blog! And thanks again to Dave V for his excellent tips.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Imperial Guard - 5th ed.

I'm thinking that, in addition to the items Greg mentioned in his main post, he is also a tread-head, thinks snipers are cool, and thinks GunSchwarm is 'da bomb'.


With that it mind, I suggest as a theme the 40K equivalent of a Bundeswehr reinforced mechanized platoon. The Guardsmen themselves could be painted in the Flecktarn scheme adopted by the modern German Army.

Wiki on Flecktarn:

Here are some ideas for painting the figs themselves:

Here are some links regarding vehicles like the Leopard 2:

In the end, Greg would get a very interesting looking army, that could easily do double duty as Gunschwarm forces mobilized by Future Angela Merkel.


Company Command Squad = 245
- Hauptmann Burch (Company Commander) w/ Plasma Pistol
- Veteran w/ Vox-caster
- Veteran with Medi-pack
- 2 x Veterans w/ Meltaguns
- Officer of the Fleet
- Master of Ordnance
- Bodyguard
- Chimera APC w/ Scatter Laser/Heavy Bolter

Infantry Platoon:
Platoon Command = 120
- Leutnant (Platoon Commander) w/ Plasma Pistol
- Guardsman w/ Vox-caster
- 2 x Guardsmen w/ Meltaguns
- Guardsman w/ Lasgun
- Chimera APC w/ Scatter Laser/Heavy Flamer

Infantry Squad = 125
- Feldwebel (Sergeant) w/ Plasma Pistol
- Guardsman w/ Vox-caster
- Guardsman w/ Flamer
- 7 Guardsmen
- Chimera APC w/ Scatter Laser/Heavy Bolter

Infantry Squad = 125
- Feldwebel (Sergeant) w/ Plasma Pistol
- Guardsman w/ Vox-caster
- Guardsman w/ Grenade Launcher
- 7 Guardsmen
- Chimera APC w/ Scatter Laser/Heavy Flamer

Veteran Squad = 130
- Oberfeldwebel (Veteran Sgt.)
- Veteran w/ Vox-caster
- 3 x Veterans w/ Sniper Rifles
- Veteran Weapons team w/ Autocannon
- 3 Veterans
- Forward Sentries - camo cloaks and snare mines

Veteran Squad = 150
- Oberfeldwebel (Veteran Sgt.)
- Veteran w/ Vox-caster
- Veteran w/ Flamer
- 2 x Veterans w/ Grenade Launchers
- Veteran w/ Demo Charge
- 4 Veterans
- Forward Sentries - camo cloaks and snare mines
- Demolitions - Melta Bombs and the one Demo Charge

Fast Attack
Bane Wolf = 145
- Heavy Flamer
- Extra Armour (Crew Stunned counted as Crew Shaken)

Heavy Support
Leman Russ Vanquisher = 250
- tank commander = Knight Commander Pask (Tank Ace)
- Lascannon
- Dozer Blade (re-roll Difficult Terrain tests)
- Camo Netting (+1 cover save)

Heavy Support
Leman Russ Demolisher = 210
- Heavy Bolter
- 2 x Multimelta Sponsons
- Extra Armour (Crew Stunned counted as Crew Shaken)


1500 points:
The force totals exactly 1500 points.

unifying theme:
This force represents elements of a motorized infantry (Panzergrenadier) company, with some attached regimental assets.

The two Veteran squads represent elements of the regimental reconnaissance company. They're first on the battlefield; the sharpest end of the stick, that the rest of the battle group supports.

The core response force is a mechanized infantry platoon, which has the capability to fight enemy light infantry and armour at relatively close range. Using its vehicles, the squads can move to seize distant objectives, or can quickly change the direction of an advance.

Tanks from the regimental panzer battalion have been seconded to the panzer grenadiers. Supporting the infantry directly are the Bane Wolf and the Demolisher. The Vanquisher supports the formation as a whole at longer range.

It should have a chance to f***ing win:
Orders are a new feature of the Imperial Guard. All the Vox-casters in the various units allow re-rolls of failed Ld tests when giving orders.

There is a mix of effective weapon types throughout the army. The sniper rifle/autocannon Veteran squad pins the enemy at range. The Veteran demolitions squad handles enemy fortifications and bunkers. The Vanquisher and its Tank Ace is able to deal with the heaviest tank armour at long range (BS4, 9+2D6 AP w/ Vanquisher Battle Cannon, 10+D6 AP w/ Lascannon, re-roll wounds against Monstrous Creatures). The panzer grenadier squads and all the Chimera APCs have a mix of weapons to deal with both lightly armoured tanks and with hordes. The Bane Wolf can kill an entire Marine squad with its chem cannon (template, AP3, wounds on 2+), and has capability against other infantry and hordes with its heavy flamer.

Meltagun variants are "the new black" for 5th edition; the extra D6 penetration helps against most vehicles (not the Wave Serpent energy field, but oh well). Rolling +1 on the Vehicle Damage Table is a good way to destroy both Land Raiders and Eldar skimmer tanks. The two command squads have Meltaguns to deal with tank armour at close range (I envision them fighting from inside the Chimera, using its fire points). At medium range, the Demolisher can deal with 2+ armoured foes like Terminators with its cannon (S10 AP2, large blast marker), and can deal with heavy tanks with its 2 sponson Multimeltas.

The Officer of the Fleet delays enemy reserves, allowing a force multiplier for the Guard forces already on-table. The Master of Ordnance rains down S9 pie plates.

The Extra Armour helps keep the Bane Wolf and Demolisher assault tanks moving. The dozer blade allows the Vanquisher to move more easily into terrain, thus allowing it a 3+ cover save due to the camo netting.

Defensively, the Veterans' snare mines count as defensive grenades, disallowing the "charging" extra attack for enemies that close assault the Veterans. The Veterans' camo cloaks add to their cover save. If they Go to Ground while in cover, they'll gain a 2+ cover save against incoming fire.

avoid any outright cheesebag options:
No two units in this battle force are identical.

The one named character, Pask, merely adds to his unit's effectiveness, rather than being some uber killy guy himself.

There are no obvious "ploys" like a Psyker squad pinning an enemy unit, then indirect fire ordnance nailing them.

This is a balanced force, able to deal with a lot of different mission types. For what it's worth, under Astronomi-con Composition scoring, this battle group scores 19 out of 20.

it should look cool, without taking forever to paint:
IMO, the Flecktarn camo scheme looks cool. Greg has done it before with his ultramoderns. To change it up, he could go with the desert variant.


So, what do you think?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Imperial Guard for 40k - Now What?

Well, now that I have ranted about the "new" Imperial Guard Codex for Warhammer 40k, the question is - Now what? While 40k games still make me mental, I have quite the pile of painted 40k Imperial Guard figs and vehicles, and following a recent browse through the pending/will-have-to-get-to-that-sometime-pile, I have actually amassed quite a bit of unpainted stuff. From Vostroyans to plain old plastic Cadians. Why not attempt to reconnect with my inner fan boy, and attempt to build a new 40k Imperial Guard army based on the new Codex. As the poster above says, enough whining. Besides, I am not in the physical condition to join a European soccer team.

If nothing else, it will make for great blog fodder. After all, this blog is more than a venue for teasing Cam (FYI - be sure to vote on our latest poll). Fellow Conscript Dave V, likely the most knowledgeable and passionate 40k gamer amongst us, has agreed to chime in with feedback and observations as I contemplate this new force. So let's start the discussion.

My prior preferred Imperial Guard force was essentially a glorified Storm Trooper unit - a "Grenadier" platoon. Low on troop numbers, high on vehicles (which themselves have a lot of add-ons), low on success! The army had some regular troop elements - enough for a platoon of three squads of grunts, but not much more than that.

With the changes in the Codex, this force is no longer a valid one. The Storm Troopers are (logically) elite choices only. I could use one infantry platoon, and then bang together some veterans, creating a second troops choice and a "valid" army for the Codex, but that still leaves a pretty top-heavy setup, with three elite slots packed with mechanized Storm Troopers, and a few hapless grunts who in truth are doing more to serve as technicality to allow the Storm Trooper detachment on to the table than actually contributing to success on the table.

Guidelines for the "New" Army

Broadly speaking, what should the new force look like?

Well, I think it should be 1500 points. As Dave V has often pointed out, larger army lists don't really compel any tough choices in terms of selections. If I can come up with a solid 1500 point Imperial Guard force, then I'm set. For fun games, we'll just add the Baneblade!

It should have some good character to it - some kind of unifying theme - even if that is just attained through the painting.

It should have a chance to f***ing win, in particular against the Eldar and Space Marine armies likely to be encountered in tournament settings. Especially against Space Wolves, who are about to receive yet another completely unneccesary codex of their own, and who suck on the level of Wolverine, C3P0, Sony and British WW2 tanks.

Even with winning, though, it should avoid any outright cheesebag options. Special weapon team with melta guns? Cool. Four special weapon teams with melta guns? Dude...

And finally, it should look cool, without taking forever to paint.

So - over to you Dave - fresh from your successful encounters at Astronomicon Winnipeg - what sort of Imperial Guard forces have you seen that might fit into these criteria?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Product Review - New Imperial Guard Codex

Readers of this blog may recall that it took a bit more effort than actually anticipated, but I did finally acquire a copy of the "new" Imperial Guard Codex for Warhammer 40,000. I use the quotation marks because, like so much of the 40k universe these days, there is almost nothing truly "new", just a middling re-shuffling of piddling rules that had little impact on the fighting ability of the Imperial Guard forces themselves, but will still f**k with the players sufficiently to compel them to have to reorganize their "army" (editor's note - a 40k force is a "detachment" at most, but anyway...)

So you may be asking "why go through the frustration of continuing on the Codex Carousel then?" What can I say? As Dallas has already hinted at in a recent post, there is something about the game which snagged me in its Rogue Trader era. Especially the Imperial Guard (once known as just the "Imperial Army"). They were the first figures I painted. And when I got tired of the paint job, I re-painted them! Then again! They had like four layers of paint on them, including a layer of Testors...

Yes - the 40k fan boy is still in there somewhere. With some really excellent rules out there (including elsewhere in their own company!), I hope one day the 40k über tubes will see a business case for wargaming that is actually engaging and fun, and not an exercise in soul-draining scoring-unit power calculation.

So, with this in mind, let's do a little review of the book.

The fluff is pretty much cut and paste from prior GW publications. The Imperial Guard is big. They are loyal to the Emperor. At some point in the past, Human Resources had issues with a guy named Horus, leading to some manner of intergalactic civl war. Commissars are mean. Cadians are organized. It's cold on Valhalla. Yawn.

The fluff in many ways is the most depressing aspect of this codex (and others). The paint-by-numbers-nothing-new cut-and-paste approach to the character of the faction is an implicit endorsement of the core dominance of power gaming calculation in the 40k aspect of the "Games Workshop Hobby".

You can almost hear the writers at the 40k studio talking. "This key audience doesn't really care about the fluff. We know it. They know it. They know we know. Let's get right to the rules, and include enough fluff to have covered all the bases." Depressing to see the results of that in print. In the Rogue Trader days, a single article about a single new type of Imperial Guard squad would have more entertaining and engaging writing than this entire Codex. The 40k Compendium is still the best "book" for liking, and reading about, the Imperial Guard!

As for the rules themselves, there are certainly "new" things. Some good, and some bad, and some I have missed because I don't have the necessary 40k background to immediately spot rules changes. I'm sure the more knowledgeable 40k gamers out there will correct me.

The Good

Great news everyone - we're all a troops choice!

First big change - no more "doctrines". I think that a lot of Guard players were ticked at this - at least they were if they were trying to give their army character (as opposed to some kind of Necron player). At one level, this ticks me off too - by eliminating the doctrines, my Storm-Trooper Grenadier Cadian Force - which never won a single game - was rendered invalid!

But if you think about it, the doctrines were so restrictive that it was very difficult to get real differences into your force. People who may have done "drop troop" armies, "armoured" forces (i.e. Vostroyans) or even bizarre things like "warrior weapons" may feel the pain. But chances are these will re-emerge in some White Dwarf article (if you're lucky) or appalling Imperial Armour book (if you're unlucky).

The other "doctrines", that helped perhaps in close combat, or with firing, were very restrictive as well. The system of issuing orders I think is less bureaucratic in terms of organizing the force (although it will be more bureaucratic on the table).

Other positives - Storm Troopers now have a weapon that will actually hurt something. The 40k game is all about Armour Penetration or "AP", and they have an AP of 3 on their weapons now. So, assuming they wound something, it will probably drop. Which makes sense, given the size of the stupid backpacks on the figures!

Veterans are a troops choice now - so you can pack your army with veterans and still get credit for picking "troops" slots (this is an example of how some players should not pine so much for the doctrines).

Heavy Weapon and Special Weapon squads are now wrapped into the "infantry platoon" troop choice. This is a big improvement, as previously they were in the HQ section, or a heavy support choice. So you can now have these without sacrificing a selection of a tank, or having an HQ echelon so large it looks like the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

It's nice to see the plastic Valkyrie on the scene too, despite the challenges of the model. And the Vendetta variant will clearly draw a lot of adherents.

The Bad

Sly Marbo sez "For the Emperor..."

The Guard can get vehicles in "squadrons" now. In theory, even more tanks, artillery, etc. In practice, not a big advantage. Squadrons have a variety of ridiculous conditions that apply to them, and a squadron of tanks actually makes them a liability to one-another. Just take two or three seperate vehicles using your three heavy support choices!

The new rules around issuing orders, while compensating for the lack of doctrines, will slow the game quite a bit. Each officer gets a certain number of a certain type of orders...conceptually it's fine, but why would the Guard only have this? Why would your Eldar or Space Marine opponent play a normal turn, and then your turn have to resemble a game of Cold War Commander?

Oh, and Catachans are still around. Worst. Models. Ever.

The Ugly

"How many shots do I get?"

The Hydra - finally in the game without the encumbrance of Imperial Armour! You still need to pick up a kit from the clowns at Forge World, but it's progress. So why is this "ugly"? Well, why is it that a quad auto-cannon vehicle has such a limited number of shots????? It's like a ZSU-23-4 set to single-shot. Worried about game balance? Then why allow a stupid Leman Russ variant with 20 shots (see below)?

The Meaningless

"Fire on that sniper!"

Not content with the nine (by my count) variants of the Leman Russ already available, GW seems to think the storied tank is some kind of app-store, with even more new variants that, frankly, are so similar to some of the others that you lose track. There is one that even has 20 strength five shots! Don't get too excited - the AP is "-", meaning it will help you slaughter things you can already slaughter with your troops. Classic.

Joining the ranks of the whatever, GW has also issued a whole new set of command figures - which double up nicely on the ones that are already available....they are fine figures, and plastic to boot, but again - did we need them?

Also, even more Commissars. Don't get me wrong - they are very nice figures. So were the other ones. How many frigging Commissars are needed????

Another blip - the "advisers" - Astropath, Fleet Officer, and some Ordnance Dude. Nice figures, but really marginal little odds and sods. A potential to delay your reserves slightly? No compensation for being obliterated a turn late.

Final Red Herring - the Guard can have a Death Strike Missile Launcher now. Because those would really apply in a tactical situation.

Final Thoughts

Chimera with Autocannon - no longer valid, but still for sale

It seems increasingly each new 40k Codex is like some kind of government bail-out bill, where some factions win, and other lose, and no core issues are addressed. When you see the final product, you often wonder at what sort of Potemkin groupthink led to a given change. Like the "vox-caster", now with a limited range. Was someone out there cleaning up at tournaments thanks to vox-caster loop hole? Seriously?

Imperial Officers can issue orders - but what, the Space Marines lack the discipline to concentrate fire? Or the Eldar?

Was some group of players out there saying "Get me rules for the Death Strike Missile Launcher or I'll never play again!"? Seriously?

Why is the Chimera not able to have an autocannon? Especially when you can still purchase one for a cool 8.80 GBPs? Were autocannon Chimeras cleaning up at the GW tournaments?

What could have been - whole new regiments? Including rules for the Elysian Drop Troops or Death Korps? Why mention the Valhallans and Steel Legion guys when they are like 40$ US per squad now as "collectors"?

In the final estimation, this book is a C+ disappointment - like much of the 40k universe - not so much because of what it is, but what it could have been....

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Obsessions in progress

This is the start of a small Citadel Ork army for Rogue Trader. Yes, Rogue Trader. I've collected an Ork army of metal Citadel models from the 1987-1989 period. I even have two of the crazy old Ork Dreadnoughts... the Orks number about 45 in total, and I have 25 or so metal Space Marines from the same period to be the Opfor. Not sure why the RT obsession has gripped, perhaps it's just nostalgia for my teenage gaming years. In any event it should be fun to once more play the old rules that originally started me into the "Games Workshop Hobby" - and that was even before there was such a thing as the "Games Workshop Hobby."

More goofy terrain for Epic/Aeronautica Imperialis. Random syringe parts, bits from a 1/35 T-62 that got built for Futurkom, some GW bits and a large Flames of War base...

... become an offshore Promethium drilling platform. Once painted this should be a fun objective/terrain piece for Aeronautica games.

Unlike most objectives I've built this one actually has some capacity for self-defence!

ZombieZ PhotoZ

Zombietown about to be overrun...
Greg's "not-French" mercenaries in a spot of bother

"D'you 'ear somezing around ze cornair?"

"Creatures crawl in search of blood / To terrorize y'alls neighborhood"

Special Forces apprehend "Cam, the Rogers Man"

This ain't a scene, it's an arms race

"I-Team" reporter on the scene

SWAT far from the action, as usual

ZLO (Zombie Liberation Organization) aka "Deader-Meinhof Gang"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Quick Battle Report

Last night we gathered at Dallas' place for a Wolrd War 'Z' game. Several different factions including SWAT, the Homiez, the Zombie Liberation Army, Delta Force, Corporate Suits and Mercenaries, fought the Zombies, and each other, to capture a Rogers Wireless sales representative who was immune to the Zombie virus, and who could help keep their Iphones running through the Zombie apocalypse.

Visiting Ottawa conscript Sean joined Dallas, myself, Brian, Mike F and Dave V for the came. Iphone Cam joined us later in the evening, once his onerous Fringe Festival responsibilities had lapsed for the night. Dallas had the SWAT team, Brian had the ZLA, Dave V had Delta Force, Sean had the Homies, Mike F rolled with the Corporate Suits, and Sean had the homies. I had the Mercenary team. Cam pushed Zombies after he arrived.

Sean provided a huge number of Zombies for the game - new plastic ones from Warlord Games. They looked great, although less great when they were stacked fr*gging six deep around my team!! At one point there were over 60 Zombies on the table, including I suspect about 25 around my faction!

As advertised previously, we added some fun with random Iphone apps afflicting the different factions before each turn. Some of the apps, like IChainsaw or PDF copies of "World War Z" were a bonus to fighting the Zombies. Some, like IGrenade, Alien Farts and Blu Movies were not so much help.

Through approximately 10 turns, Dave V's elite Delta Force team ultimately captured the hapless Rogers rep, and evacuated to a chopper on top of one of the buildings. Dallas, Mike F and Brian engaged each other, and Zombies, in different firefights. Brian and Dallas nearly managed to stop Dave, but once he got control of the Rogers person, he was able to freely select Iphone apps that were most helpful and get away. Dallas' SWAT struggled to get the drop on the Delta lads, and took a lot of shooting casualties. Mike F's Corporate Suits ended up as food for the automatic weapons of the ZLA. They also fed a few Zombies.

Sean's Homies fought their way around the table, and although they didn't manage to capture anyone, they did kidnap a news crew, so something good came out of it for them. My team, beset by Alien Farts and Blu Movies, ended up as grey-matter calories for Sean's excellent Zombie horde, piles and piles of which emerged from the "S" Mart near my starting point!

Thanks again to Dallas for hosting, and for everyone for coming out to enjoy some light-hearted, Iphone-and-Cam mocking World War Z gaming!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

And the winner of our first poll is.....

For our first poll, we asked fellow Conscripts and visitors: "what should be resuced from the Zombies during our game this week?" The winner of our first poll is....a tie, as you can see, between a person immune to the Zombie virus and, disturbingly, a supply of Iphones. Out of respect for the democratic process, we will incorporate both elements into tonight's scenario. Besides, who can pass up a chance to use Apple products take more digs at Cam?

I love the book World War "Z", but in a way, it's too bad that it arrived on the scene before I-turd mania reached current epic proportions. Had World War "Z" arrived on shelves at this moment in history, one chapter would surely have slayed the image of Itools, nattering away about their stupid apps while the Zombies destroyed the US army at Jonkers. Author Max Brooks would probably have killed a couple of birds with one stone by having the Itools represented as a bunch of stock brokers who sold mortgage-back securities and structured-investment vehicles. But I digress...

So tonight, as inspired by Mike F's comment on the poll, the factions fighting the Zombies, and each other, to survive in the World War Z universe have determined that the continued function of their Iphones will be essential to coming out on top in the Zombie apocalypse.

The factions will be looking to capture a Rogers Wireless representative who is immune to the virus AND has the necessary technical knowledge to ensure the Iphones can continue to function. This person has been located (thanks to GPS and Google Maps, still working despite the apocalypse) in downtown Toronto, and stupidly bragged about their immunity using their Facebook status and various Twitter postings ("@WarZ bit two days ago, still nothing but want nachos"). From the SAS to the Bank Robbers and Homies, survivors have determined that this guy must be captured.

And the Zombies? Well, they are just happy to have some brains to eat.

To keep with the Iphone vibe, and as inspired by Dave V and Dallas' suggestions, before every turn, players will roll to see which stupid app their faction manages to activate on their Iphones. Some might help against the Zombies - others, not so much...we've polled some of the real apps, and made up some impacts. We'll see if Cam actually has any of them too. I know he has at least one...

See you all tonight for some World War Z, Iphone-bashing mayhem. Also, welcome to stray Conscript Sean! Looking forward to seeing you.

AstroPeg 2009 Game 6: Midnight Patrol

Under the cover of darkness, your forces are looking to surprise the enemy – unfortunately, they’ve got the same idea.

Final game of the tournament. I was matched up against Kevin and his Imperial Guard:

5th Theron Rifles
Company Command w/ Medic, 2 Bodyguards, Primaris Psyker and Officer of the Fleet
Veteran Squad w/ Vox, 3 x Sniper Rifles and Autocannon team
Veteran Squad w/ Vox, 3 x Sniper Rifles and Missile Launcher team
Platoon Command w/ Commissar, 2x Melta Gun, Chimera APC w/ Scatter Laser/Heavy Bolter
Infantry Squad w/ Plasma Gun, Chimera APC w/ Scatter Laser/Heavy Flamer
Infantry Squad w/ Flamer, Chimera APC w/ Scatter Laser/Heavy Bolter
Stormtrooper Squad w/grav chutes, Flamer and Melta Gun
Leman Russ Vanquisher w/ Lascannon, Heavy Stubber, Dozer Blade
Leman Russ Exterminator w/ 3x Heavy Bolters, Heavy Stubber

Total = 1499 points

The scenario involved night fighting for the entire game. Players scored Victory Points for enemy units killed, PLUS Victory Points for each of their units remaining at the end of the game. This meant that if, say, I lost a 100-point transport, that would open up a 200-point gap between us, enough for a win!

The table was a Necron-esque series of pyramids, obelisks and ruins, with a large pyramid at one end of the two rows of little pyramids, and a reflecting pool at the other end. Each side could only set up one Troops pick on the board at the start of the game.

Kevin won the roll and chose the (north) board edge with the reflecting pool. He set up his first Veteran Squad in the pool. A good choice. Their ML could cover almost the entire table, especially if firing at something caught in a searchlight.

I set up the Companions, mounted in Ancient Whispers, hiding behind the large pyramid.

Tactics note:This Wave Serpent had TL Shuriken Cannons in the turret, and a Shuriken Cannon in the nose. If I ever have to go with only one Troops pick, this unit is my default choice. This skimmer would be good against most vehicles, especially from the flanks. I also feel that the two-gun Exarch gives me the best options against most infantry targets. My other Avenger Serpent has TL Bright Lances. Placing it alone on the table would make it a high priority target for any opponent. Also, by keeping the Brightlance Serpent in reserve it may be easier to move it where it needs to be when it becomes available.

Nothing at all happened the first turn, as neither of us desired to move.

Into the second and third turns, it became very clear that Kevin and I were going to play this one very cagey. The tournament was Swiss for pairings after the first game. Facing each other as we were in the final game, Kevin and I would have had identical or similar battle points for game play (that is, roughly equal win-loss-tie scores, factoring in extra battle points for mission objectives completed). A tie would garner each of us 7 Battle Points, plus any bonuses. However, a win would be a base of 10 points. We were both at or near the top of the leader board, so I figured that a tie would be OK, but that we'd both try for an end-game win if we could.

Starting from approximately the centre of the north board edge, moving west, Kevin deployed the second Veteran squad in a stone bunker-like affair, the Exterminator, a Heavy Bolter Chimera, the Heavy Flamer Chimera, the remaining Chimera, the Company Command Squad, and the Vanquisher. With the searchlights on the Chimeras, the APCs could be deployed forward, lighting up vehicle targets for the Vanquisher to hit with its penetrator rounds.

For the Eldar, the Guard Stormtrooper Squad was a worry. With aggressive placement, it could Deep Strike behind a transport and pop it, maybe even killing the occupants if there was no room to get out. I'd seen a good IG player named Stephie (yes, she's a woman) from Burlington, ON, do the same to me at the Toronto Astro a couple of years ago.

So, I moved on cautiously in the southeast table quarter. I declined to use the Autarch's "+1" for Reserves roll until my 3rd turn. That is, until after the Vanquisher had appeared. That way, I was helping to keep my skimmers off the board and immune from being shot at. I used the various pyramids to mask the skimmers' movement, using the Warp Spiders and the HQ jetbikes to shield the rears of the transports.

By the top of the fourth turn, everything on the Guard side had shown up. The drop squad Deep Struck next to the wading pool, declining the bold insertion. Everything except the Fire Prism had shown up on the Eldar side. The Guard was too far away for any of their night fighting spotting rolls to work.

At the bottom (Eldar) half of the fourth turn, I decided that it was time for the Swordwind to make its move. I rolled a "1" to bring on the Fire Prism. Oh well. I went with what I had.

The Veterans with the Autocannon were the most exposed of the Guard infantry. They seemed to be dangled out as bait for the Eldar to try and snatch up. The four Wave Serpents moved flat out north and west, leading with the Banshee Serpent ("Fencing Master") capstoning the Dragon Serpent, with the other Serpents, the jetbikes and Spiders following up behind them, using pyramids to block LOS. If Fencing Master went down, the Banshees would still be in a good position to assault the Veterans.

At the top of the fifth turn, Kevin moved back the Exterminator, keeping it away from the Dragons' melta range in my following turn. He re-oriented the Chimeras to face east with their front armour.

However, this is where he made a critical choice. He could have either moved the Veterans back or, as he ended up doing, kept them in place to try and shoot down a Serpent with their Autocannon. The lead Chimera lit up the Banshees' Serpent with its searchlight. However, none of the Guard shooting stopped it; Fencing Master was merely Shaken.

By moving the Exterminator back and by not moving the Veterans back, Kevin left a slight gap between the Veterans and the rest of his army. This was exploitable if I moved very aggressively.

The Blade Dancers dismounted and moved toward the Veterans in their stone bunker. Their Serpent moved over them at combat speed to block vehicle movement toward them and the bunker.

The Kid (the Fire Dragons' transport) moved flat out to the other side of the bunker, to help shield the Banshees next turn from heavy flamer fire and to place the Dragons in a good position. The skimmer made its Difficult Terrain test, required because it didn't quite make it all the way to the other side of the bunker. Even if their boat was shot down, The Dragon squad, Fate's Tears, might disembark, move, run and be able to assault a couple of Guard vehicles with their melta bombs.

The Avenger Serpents, the Spiders and bikes moved up in support, ready to pounce next turn if the Guard counter attacked.

The Fire Prism had also showed up. I placed it in the middle of the south edge, to take a shot at the source of the searchlight beam, the Chimera.

Now for the Shooting phase. Shooting at the Veterans would be pointless (2+ cover save when Going to Ground, and the Eldar had no flamers), so I didn't even bother. The Banshees could reach the Veterans on the charge with an average Run roll - they rolled a "6" and the Exarch Angelic Rhapsody led her warrior women in an all-out sprint towards the Guardsmen.

The Fire Prism failed to do anything to the Chimera.

The Howling Banshees made their difficult terrain check, and assaulted the Veterans.

The Veterans were wiped out. The Banshees consolidated as best as they could to open up their formation, wary of flamer templates and marker weapons.

At the end of the assault phase, the Shaken counter was removed from the Banshee Serpent, and Kevin rolled for random game length. He rolled a "2" thus ending the game.

The only casualties on either side was the lone Veteran Squad. That garnered the Eldar 130 Victory Points, for a total of 1629 VPs versus the Guard's 1369.

Result: Eldar Victory

We were finished early, so Kevin and I had a good chance to talk. We agreed that this was maybe the most tactical of our weekend's games. It was all about placement, movement, and counter-movement. He admitted that those Veterans with the AC were bait. He said that not moving the Veteran Squad was critical to the game's eventual outcome. We agreed that we both had great fun, despite the relatively bloodless result.

Tournament Results:

The photo below shows Mike Major and Christian Augst, two of the three Astronomi-con organizers. Missing from the photo is Keith Grant, the resident rules guru (he's pretty much memorized the 5th ed. rulebook). Mike and Christian were announcing the results of the tournament.

The prize plaques can be seen on the table behind them. They are different resin plaques (for each category) rigged up with electronics and a 9v battery to light up like a 41st millennium data pad.

As the organizers stated in their opening comments, many of the awards went to tie-breaks and many games came down to a die roll at the end. From my own batreps, I can attest to the latter fact.

Award Winners:
Best Overall - DaveV (me) - Eldar
Best Sportsman - Mario Rocha - Ultramarines
Best Army - Dave Handy - Orks
Best Appearance - Tony Resendes - Nurgle Plague Marines
Best General - Mike Knudsen - Dark Eldar
Best Terrain - Kevin Nelson - Battle At The Farm
Best Single Miniature - Rob Passingham - Grey Knights
Best Army List - Jason Dyer - Witch Hunters

Thanks again to all my opponents, and to Christian, Keith and Mike for a great gaming weekend.