Friday, September 28, 2018

Adeptus Titanicus Game - The Titans Go For A Walk

"Full stride!" Legio Mortis moves to engage some deluded "loyalists" during a game of  "Adeptus Titanicus"
With the paint only just dry on the Warlord kits from my copy of GW's re-booted "Adeptus Titanicus", we took the Titans and the new rules out for a spin this week during our Thursday night game.  After rushing to get the Titans finished and poring over the new rule book for three weeks, I was anxious to try the game, see how it played, and see the towering new Warlord models on the table!

The Scenario & Set Up
Poster featuring the official spokesperson for Legio Mortis...
We went with a very simple scenario, and a small number of Titans on each side. Legio Mortis and Legio Griphonicus would be confronting each other amidst an urban area on some planet in the war-torn Imperium.  I told the players the loyalty of the planetary governor was wavering as the Horus Heresy raged, and he would likely declare support for whichever faction had more Titans standing around his enclave after the battle! Thus the objective: "total annihilation".  How Horus-Heresy-sounding...

Each side had three Titans - one Warlord, one Reaver and one Warhound.  The Warlords were the beautiful new models from the box set, while the Reavers and Warhounds you see here are private sculpts, not commercially available (which is why they are so small - but it still worked fine overall). GW has released a Reaver model, and I expect the Warhounds will be out before too long.

Preliminary deployments complete - Loyalists at the top of the photo, Rebels at the bottom - and the Imperial Governor's facility in the middle (planetary officials likely cowering in a sub-basement). 
Dallas and Dave V took command of the Legio Mortis detachment, pursuing bold action in the name of hope and change from Horus Lupercal! Byron M and John M commanded the delusional "loyalists" of Legio Griphonicus, preparing to waste their precious Titans in some pointless attempt to halt the inevitable triumph of Horus over the weak and false "Emperor"...

The table was 4' x 4' - I wanted to a) test the assertion by the designers that the game worked well on a smaller space b) ensure we had room on the tables for the nice, but cumbersome, "terminals", and c) have the Titans killing each other right from the first turn...

The Game

Missiles flew! Reactor were pushed! Machine spirits were awakened! Orders were issued! In all, we managed to play five turns before folks had to call it a night, and...none of the Titans were knocked out!?

Legio Mortis Warlord providing covering fire
Look, damage was done - the Reavers on both sides were not doing great, with the Princeps yelling at the servitors to get those void shields back up on both God-engines.  I think one more turn would have seen one or both of them cook off.  John also maneuvered his loyalist Warhound into a good position to dish out some serious harm to Dave's Warhound in the opposite Legio.

But the lads were rolling hot with both saving throws (meaning the Void shields hung around longer than expected) and had good luck with the reactor dice, meaning that reactors were pushed, but there were no melt-down incidents, which was a disappointment for me, but good news for the Titan crews :)

Dave's Warhound tried to find some cover amid the buildings, but John's loyalist Warhound was hunting it down as the game ended. 
The guys also had great rolls with their repair actions, so the Void shields were constantly being restored, all that reactor pressure was being vented, and even critical hits were being restored! Impressive stuff. Unless you wanted to see reactor meltdowns...oh well...

Final dispositions - you can see the Warlords hardly moved, while the duelling Reavers were closing  in on each other in the middle. 
In fact, the only time the dice were NOT hot occurred when one Titan or another had a chance to make a killer shot on an unshielded opponents - the shots would miss, or do only superficial damage...this helped keep the Titans around longer than they otherwise might have been.

In the end, the game was a stalemate, although both Reavers were going to need some time in the repair docks...

Thoughts On The Rules & Other Ephemera

Overall, I really like the new game.  The rules are fun and clever - so often the case with GW rules that are not 40k rules.  It was our first time playing, and I'm sure we missed opportunities for nuance and perhaps some clever tactics which might come with more experience, but really in a first game like this you want to get used to the basics first while enjoying the models, and this was a good chance to do just that.

Reaver moves to engage the enemy...hopefully before being blown to bits - this fellow lost his shields many times, and suffered a couple of critical hits...but he was still upright at the end of the game! 
Were there some frustrations? You bet - I'll get to them momentarily, but know as you read some of my own "reactor venting" here, it comes from a foundation that still really, really enjoys the game.  And hey - these are subjective thoughts - YMMV! But, a few irritants of varying scale, lets get to those...

I'll start with the dice.  With the new box set, you get a whole set of really nice dice! Some are superfluous - like custom D6s (you will already have a ton of those, but I'm a sucker for dice with logos in place of the "6", so, nice to have).  A couple of D10s. Fine.  Nice to have, but I already have a bunch of those too. BUT, there are the order dice...specific to the game, good to have (I could improvise with the old order dice from Epic or Battlefleet Gothic, but there are a couple specific symbols for Adeptus Titanicus, so good to have). Then, there is the hit location dice. Oh, and the scatter dice. Oh - and these are very important - the reactor dice.

What is the problem, you say? They are all the same !@#!@#ing colour! It is a huge pain to try and pick the hit location dice out of the order dice, or find the reactor dice or scatter dice. Yes, generally, be careful and organized with your dice on the table, but come on!  One of the best lines from the game last night was the deadpan suggestion by one of the guys that GW keep the dice the same colour in order to try and keep the cost of the game down....ROFL.

Warhound hunting prey...
Anyway, my advice for dice - bring your own D6s, D10s, and a scatter dice from a previous GW game - ones that will be a different colour.  Print up some paper markers for orders.  It should be much easier to keep track of your reactor dice and hit location dice at that point.

Ok. Enough about dice.  How about the table size? Well, whatever the rules designers claim in the book, a 4' x 4' table size is kinda lame for this game.  Even a small number of Titans should spread out into a more standard 6' x 4', in order to give the Princeps - particularly those commanding the towering Warlord Titans - a reason to maneuver a little.  Between the "Apocalypse Missile Launchers" and the "Bellicosa Volcano Cannons" the Warlords had little reason to move, even with the intervening buildings on the table, thanks to the very long range of the weapons.

So you need more room. This brings me to the "terminals".  They are very nice, yes they are! But they consume substantial wargaming-table real estate - we only had a total of six Titans in action, and the space the "terminals" took up was a not-insubstantial pain in the ass.  When combined with the need - in my opinion - for at least a 6' x 4' gaming surface, you will need to make accommodations for your gaming space to deal with this if you want to play this game, .  This may, or may not, be a big deal depending on where and how you game, but plan for it. The "terminals" will need to be somewhere the players can see them and keep track of them as they move the markers.

The "terminals" for "Adeptus Titanicus" - very pretty, but they soak up a LOT of space in your gaming table/area.
OK, enough about the physical space. What about the rules? I am pretty sure we mixed up some rules a couple of times - this is to be expected in any new run through the rules, but there was one particular issue I kept going over in my head, and it was caused by the obtuse writing in the rule book.

Now I pick on GW a lot, for a lot of good reasons - and dumb writing is a good reason. But dumb writing is hardly limited to GW.  Go try and read about forming squares in the first edition of the "Black Powder" rules, or the patrol phase in "Chain of Command", or to understand just about any basic aspect of "Tomorrow's War"...and those are all excellent rule sets (try them all!)...bad writing happens, no matter the intentions.  It is almost always a product of the fact that game rules are written and reviewed by those that developed and tested when the rules are proof-read, well, it will all seem obvious, as you already know the rules, right? This leads to baffling explanations of simple concepts, or concepts which are not explained, because those who proof-read assumed others would know the rules as well as they do. I know this is an issue, because I do this all the time in my day-to-day work, and our business is constantly trying to guard against the problems it can cause...problems like the "blast" rule in "Adeptus Titanicus".

Those of us who have played GW games over the years have experienced many of the little variances they inflict on how to use weapons that use the round blast effect templates.  The core elements are consistent - a round template, a direction dice, and a dice (or number of dice) for the "scatter".  The GW "scatter dice" itself is almost ubiquitous in every gaming collection.

These core components have been consistent over the years, but the specific steps involved in using them always seem to be something the rules writers at GW feel compelled to fiddle with - they can't seem to help themselves, and each new edition/new rule set that makes use of these same basic tools always has some slight difference in process.

And so, the explanation of the "Blast" special rule for weapons on p. 38 of "Adeptus Titanicus"  could be part of a court filing by one of President Trump's lawyers...I would share the whole section here, but I don't want to be sued by GW, so I'll limit it to one quote:

"Then, check to see whether the central hole is within range and arc. If it is not within arc, the shot is wasted and has no effect. If it is not within range, do not roll To Hit - each shot will scatter as follows:"

The section goes on to explain a scatter mechanism any GW gamer would be familiar with. Which is fine.  It notes that even a "hit" result on the scatter die is still a scatter (using the little arrow on the "hit" symbol - again, a familiar GW mechanism). But...what about if the the shot IS within arc AND within range?

I wish I could tell you. Do you just make a ballistic skill shot like normal? Do you still use the scatter die, but count the "hit" symbol as a hit, with no scatter? I don't know, and the rules, as far as I can tell, seem to assume you just know what to they don't specify.

This came up a lot last night, as the Volcano Cannons are "Blast" weapons, so every time the Warlords opened fire, we needed to go through this..I ended up forcing the guys to use the scatter die process regardless, and then still rolling to hit with their ballistic skill after.  Which, now that I think about it, is kinda dumb, and surely wrong...but I'm not sure what I should have done, at least by the letter of the rules...

Further confusion - if you get the centre of the blast marker over the model, it counts as two "hits"...yet the Volcano cannon is listed as getting 1 die for attacks - so do you still get two dice if you land the centre of the template, or does that "1" in this instance mean only one template? I'm not sure.

And this issue is really forced to the forefront, because all you have for your Warlords right now are Volcano Cannons!  I feel I must again express frustration at how GW saw fit to only include a single weapon load out in the Warlord kit, which retails for over $200 CAD.  For now at least, we are stuck with these stupid Volcano Cannons on our I need to figure this out.

What did I do wrong here? I'm sure my approach was the wrong one.  Is there an official answer? Did I miss a page where this was explained (this is possible - I am quite dense!) - let me know, fellow gamers...

For Next Time
Huge Warlord Titan for Legio Gryphonicus in action last night. 
I did not deploy any Knight Banners last night.  Again, we were just getting to know the rules. And for me, "Adeptus Titanicus" is about Titans, not Knights!  I just SO love the setting and back story of the Titans, but I am utterly indifferent to the silly Knight houses.  Don't get me wrong - the Knight models (both these new ones for "Adeptus Titanicus" and the big 28mm ones) are absolutely stunning. But where the Titan Legions are cool, ominous and impressive, the Knight "households" all sound like a bunch of cosplay rejects from a Harry Potter fan fiction play. Playing the Knights in "Adeptus Titanicus" would be like going to a steak house and ordering chicken.

Still, after last night, I can see how the Knights must be important in this game.  With their ability to maneuver, the Knights might get close enough to cause some serious aggravation to the other side. I may never embrace the stupid Knight Households ("Oh look, here comes Lord Humperfeather from House Pony-tickles"), but I had better get those Knights painted up - a couple banners will add a neat dynamic to the next "Adeptus Titanicus" game.

So there was some venting here, but again - the bottom line, I certainly enjoyed the game, and I hope the other fellows did too. I look forward to more games of "Adeptus Titanicus" through the end of the year!  Overall it's a neat set of rules, and Titans blasting each other to bits is a lot of fun.

Big thanks to Dallas for hosting, and to Dallas, Byron, Dave and John for playing last night.  The reactors are powered down for now, but I hope we can try the game again sometime soon!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Kill Team and Gaslands

Since Kill Team came out I've been putting together a few teams from my very random collection of impulse buys and forgotten minis. So far I've put together a chaos renegade/Alpha Legion team and an Eldar team. The Eldar models are among the first models I ever bought way back in the early 90's! I realize that many of you started collecting in the 80's and before, but it's still a depressing realization for me.
Chaos Marines build from random bits I had lying around.

Bought during Last Chance to Buy. Arms, legs and weapons from Victoria Miniatures

These were bought in either '95 or '96 and just painted them now. The grav platform is from a 15mm vehicle kit.

Even older is my collection of Matchbox and Hotwheels cars. My mom kept them around for my nephews when they were young and planned to do the same for my daughter. She's only 5, but she's been very curious about all the guns and spikes I've added to the cars for Gaslands. Luckily she hasn't asked why the cars need guns and spikes.

Perhaps Dallas will recognize the paint job for the first car in this line-up

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The New "Adeptus Titanicus"

New plastic Warlord Titans and Questoris Knight from GW's new-re-released "Adeptus Titanicus"
Oh much to blather about here...apologies for the too-long post...

It's back - finally! I honestly never thought it would come back. There have been rumours for years. Reports of playtests at events like Adepticon, fuzzy photos on the Web. All circulating for years.  But as a devoted fan of the old, long-discarded "specialist" games such as Epic, I always thought it was just vapour. I totally discounted the rumours.  GW had killed these games off, and bringing back something like "Adeptus Titanicus" would be something akin to admitting a mistake, which the GW-type entities of the world almost never do.  It would also be something along the lines of observing your audience and responding to demand, something which I am always hard-pressed to see any evidence of GW doing.

Besides, it was taking so long to actually show up (the "official" rumours had been out there for years), it was practically moving on Kickstarter-style timelines.  Just vapour.  Even with the actual arrival of official photos, and promotional posts in GW's official online community, I still didn't believe it would happen. 

Ah - the good old days! Gigantic robots, you say?
But it has, in fact, happened! A new version of "Adeptus Titanicus" has hit the shelves! Unlike so many Kickstarters, it physically exists, and you can purchase it! Devoted fan that I am, I of course made a purchase.  My good friend Curt has a very sane and mature overview of the new game over at his Analogue Hobbies blog, and I encourage you to check that out.   It is more thoughtful and well-organized than the rest of this post...

I was quite excited to finally get one of the new box "Adeptus Titanicus" sets late this summer. Dismissive as I had been about the notion that the game would ever be released again, once I actually had it, I was really fired up.  Yet these emotions were mixed, my excitement quite evenly matched with long-held grudge of how these games had been "managed" by the GW clowns in the first place.  It is impotent, pointless fan-rage.  It has no meaning or force in the world (which is why GW can ignore it), but it was there all the same as I dove into the new game, this strange combo of excitement and frustration, all at once. What is wrong with me? Anyway...

If you are, like me, a keeper of the flame for the old "specialist" games, then you would find this new box game to be very much the epitome modern GW - capable of incredible feats of hobby creativity, great rules and stunning models, together with decisions which appear to be specific attempts to anger long-time customers in ways that would rival the practices of any airline or cable company. 

The new "Adeptus Titanicus" game is at once great and also frustrating. It pays homage to the old game, while also urinating more than a bit on the old game and its fans, and doing so in douche-bag ways. You will love it, and hate it.  You will wonder at what blend of opaque committee thinking led to this specific approach by GW to the release of this game. You will be thrilled to have it.  Excited. And disappointed. You will wonder at why GW can look at an open net, and still miss many of shots...

Long time fans of the TV show "The Simpsons" may recall that early season when Homer purchased Krusty the Klown doll for Bart in one of the Halloween Specials...getting the new Adeptus Titanicus is pretty much like this: 

So if you used to love Adeptus Titanicus, you will love the new one. You will. But yes, the frogurt is also cursed. 

I will share some of my many contradictory and convoluted thoughts amid photos of some newly completed models.  Please note that the Warlord Titans and Knight seen in the photos in this post  are from the new GW box set. The Reaver and Warhound Titans in the photos, however, are not new GW models, but are private sculpts and not commercially available. GW is coming out with plastic kit versions of those variants (the new Reavers are already out there, and Curt will have one up for view soon I'm sure) which I expect will scale much better with the big new Warlord kits. 

The Models

New Warlord class Titan for Legio Mortis. The "Death Heads" fight for the Warmaster, for hope and for change!
You receive a big schwack of plastic in the box. Two Warlord Class titans, six Questoris class Knights, a bunch of new modular buildings, and a set of markers.  It's a lot of plastic!

The models are compelling and baffling all at once.  Compelling, because they show GW at its very best.  Very best. The new Warlord kits are marvels of plastic model engineering - bloody amazing.  They are not simple to slap together by any means - be ready to take some time to do it right. I lost count of all the parts.  This is no lame two-piece Contemptor Dreanought form the "Betrayal at Calth" box.  This is a full-on, serious kit that will reward your time and effort. 

Warlord class Titan for Legio Gryphonicus.  Foremost among the ranks of the so-called "loyalists", these dupes of the False Emperor waste their God-engine's glory engaging in acts of futile terrorism against the beloved Warmaster.
The yellow on this sucker was a real challenge...the photos flatter it.  Up close, it is not quite so nice...something to remember for next time - choose a better base coat for my yellow!
In particular, take your time "posing" the legs on the Warlords - there is, in theory, a lot of possibilities for articulation thanks to all of the parts. But the overall size and shape of the model limits the actual useful outcomes with posed legs - the torso, the weapons, that is all a considerable amount of stuff up there, and you need to make sure the leg pose you develop will hold the whole thing up.  

The old and the new...the old 1990s Warlord Titan on the right doesn't even top the "hips" of the new edition Warlord!
You will see one of the Warlords in the photos here (the Legio Mortis engine) is posed mid-stride.  This was an ACCIDENT on my part (I thought it would be stepping forward - I suck), and not recommended, as the whole weight of the thing is supported on the base by only one leg. Not ideal at all...we'll see how long this fellow lasts on the table... 

I achieved something of a "mid-stride" look on this one by total accident, and this is not recommended... 
A view of the incredible and intricate detail on the back...I did a pretty basic paint job, but if you are inclined, there is a great deal of detail to go to town on here...
As many others have suggested, consider painting the armoured plates separately from the skeleton underneath.  I think you will find this makes the painting smoother overall. Yes - I hate painting parts separately or on sprues, but it does work with these suckers, and I'm glad I took that approach.

The weapon points on the Warlords can be easily magnetized - in fact, the models were designed to hold little disc magnets - huge "thank you" to Curt for pointing this out, and to Byron for spotting me some magnets on short notice!

As you can see, the completed Warlord Titans are HUGE! Way, way bigger than the old plastic Titan models from the 90s. I'll have more to say on that further down (see "The Scale of the Game").  But these models are incredible, really something to see up close. 

Are there downsides? Well aside from the cost and scale incompatibility (again, more on that below), the big disappointment here is the weapon load out.  The Warlord model comes with ONE weapon load out - only ONE. And it is a boring one! Two Volcano Cannons for the arms, and two Apocalypse Launchers for the carapace mounts. Come ON, man!!  All this money (see "The Cost" below) and you get two Warlords with the SAME vanilla weapon load out? That is so LAME. And so BORING. Dick move. And a huge whiff when you consider that so much of the fun of the original game came from cooking up the different weapon load outs. Come on, GW...

One of the new Questoris Knights for "Adeptus Titanicus". 
This whiff is even more baffling when you consider the Knights.  The plastic Knight models are quite cunningly designed and very nice. They are faithful recreations of the new, "28mm" scale Knights released for the 40k game some time ago. Again, these show GW at the top of its game. Where the Warlords will take quite a while to assemble properly, the Knights are very fast and straightforward to build - I think I managed to put three of them together in about 25 minutes or so.

Lovely little plastic kits, go together fast, and paint up fairly quick as well. 
But weapons for the Knights? You have three different weapon load outs for the Knights, all on one sprue, complete with an option to replace the secondary heavy stubber with a melta gun.  So, GW designers, you could figure that out, but couldn't get a power fist or set of laser cannons in for the Warlords? Come on, man... 

The buildings are clever and very nice.  They are made to be modular, but they do not go together so smoothly - much trickier than they should be, amplified by instructions which, in my view, give poor direction.  The end result is worth it, as they are looking pretty neat (although, of course, I don't have painted ones to share yet - too busy painting Titans).  I confess I miss the simpler buildings from simpler times, but the new ones are very, very nice.  I'm thrilled to add these to my Epic collection, and I hope little Space Marine Legions have a great time fighting over them. 

The Game

When we think of GW, we think so often of rules systems like 40k, which, though now on their 8th edition, are still so...bad. But GW has actually been home to many innovative and fun rule sets, and this new edition of "Adeptus Titanicus" looks to be one of them.  Players will be tracking the detail on specific Titans such as the state of their shields, hits to specific locations, and - I can't wait to have fun with this - the status of their reactors. Let's push that plasma reactor, shall we? I mean, what could go wrong with a plasma reactor? I'm sure it's totally safe to operate above-maximum, just for a turn, right?

Family photo! Legio Mortis battle maniple, ready for action. 
Are there some nits? For me, not so much with the rules mechanics themselves, just the design decisions. The thin rule book is nice, but there is no index or glossary, so you get to have fun hunting and pecking around the book to find information.  There is also a tendency to make simple ideas sound much more complicated than they are - such as all of this "matched play" vs "narrative" vs "open play" nonsense. Meanwhile, the book itself contains no listing, statistics or points costs of the Titans or Knights, or the weapons they use.  For that, you need the cards and the "terminals" which come with the game.  Come ON, man. 

The cards and "terminals" are very nice from a production value standpoint. Like, really nice, on par with the nicest stuff you are seeing from board games out there.  But not having that info listed in the book, thereby compelling you to have the cards and terminals themselves if you want to play the game, is just a bit of a dick move.  Like, GW couldn't spare two pages to just list this stuff out in the rule book too? Come on guys (see "The Cost" below for more).  

Legio Gryphonicus battle maniple, ready to sacrifice their Titans in some pointless stand against the glorious Warmaster, Horus Lupercal!
Another little piss-in-the-beer aspect of the rules relates to the weapons mounted on the Warlord Titans. Warlords have always had four weapon mounts - two on the carapace, and two "arms".  At first glance on the new models, you would think the new ones do too.'re wrong. 
If you have an old collection of the plastic models from the 1990s like I do, I expect you have all sorts of whacky weapon combos on them - but that very few of them would have the weapons on the carapace mounted in pairs...?

In this new edition of the game, a decision has been made that all weapon mounts on the carapace of Warlord Titans will be "paired".  WTF? Why? I suspect this decision was spurred by a some kind of design restriction on the fancy "terminal" cards, which would not have room for four different "weapon cards" - and thus the carapace mounts were decreed to be "paired", keeping the limit to three weapon slots on the "terminal". This is actually a pretty material change. Not only is this lame and less fun, but I bet very few of your old models have pairs of weapons up on the carapace, right? 

So, look, the rules look fun. But are there some dick moves? Yep. 

The Scale of the Game

To the extent that the vapour/rumours/chatter online was out there about this game while its development wound through whatever byzantine, years-long new-product process GW follows these days, the largest amount of discussion focused around the "scale".  The models were said to be "8mm" instead of "6mm".  A dick move was widely predicted, and this did come to pass.  

So...everyone has a different opinion on scales of things, but there is no way the old Titans will mix with the new ones on the table, save perhaps as a sort of statue or monument, a piece of terrain?
Seeing the models for real, yes, they are larger - not just in "scale", but just in size generally.  The old classic "turtle shell" Warlords from the 1990s don't even clear the leg pistons on the new beasts!

Revising the scale strikes me as a deliberate douche bag move - pissing on the old guard still out there who nourished collections of old models. I...don't understand this. 

Hey, few can unleash more fan anger at GW than me, but there are a couple ways to look at this...the first is to say, yes, dick move, but the new models are just incredible.  Could they have been smaller and still incredible? Well, yes...the plastic Knights prove that. But all the same, even with all my GW-loathing, I have to say, right up front - these new Warlord models are really, really stunning.  If you take the point of view that the Warlord Titan is a penultimate beast, and you want to let your new model-design capabilities go to town...well, I can respect that. 

New Knight beside an old Warlord...again, the old models are just TOO small to ever mix with the new stuff. 
Now, lets go back to scale again.  Sure, the old Titans won't mix.  But what about the old Epic foot troops and vehicles? Well, IMO if you have Epic vehicles and infantry, I, for one, actually think these new Warlords are just fine. Are they f***ing huge compared to the Epic Land Raiders and Space Marines? Well, YES. But...they should be! The massive size relative to the old infantry and tanks doesn't bother me so much... and what is so odd is that the new buildings and the new Knights match up so nicely, scale wise, with the old infantry and tanks too.  I think there was a case to be made that the old classic plastic Titans were more than a touch too small vis-a-vis the old Epic infantry and tanks.  Well, if you thought that...then the new models have got a treat for you!

New Warlord with a Land Raider from the old "Space Marine" game.  Again, everyone's preference varies, but this would work for me...
These huge beasts do impose other challenges on your sci-fi gaming too, do you come up with cover? Mountains...OK. How big of a hill can you put down? Do you have 12mm sized sci-fi trees? Probably not.  Even the new buildings, when stacked up, don't do much to obscure the view of the new Warlord Titans...I mean, they are HUGE.  The old time buildings made of card certainly don't. Now, this is not an insurmountable obstacle - certainly there are some way more creative terrains types out there than I - but it will be something to think about as you plot your "Adeptus Titanicus" games.  I may need to plot some kind of huge refinery or something made of straws and cans, something clever like Dallas comes up with all of the time...making terrain? Me? I dunno...but we'll see. 

One of the new Knights with the old Land Raider. Again, I think this would be fine on the gaming table...YMMV.
The large models also serve to limit the size of games you can play, even on a standard 6' x 4' table. If you go back to the big all-Titan game of Epic we played back in 2013 as an example of what was possible with the old models, well, you could never do that with these new models - there would not be enough room.  Another factor for your table - remember you will need space for the "terminals" to track the status of your God-engines.  These "terminals" are, as I said, very nice, but they are large and will eat materially into available gaming space.  The game designers claim they have put the rules together with this in mind, suggesting many games would take place on a 4'x4' table...but making the models huge AND shrinking the tables...look, this is not a deal breaker - it is just not a consistent approach. Come on, guys.  

The Cost

Oh man.  Even by GW's OPEC-like standards, the price of the new "Adeptus Titanicus" stuff is absolutely eye-watering.  So, like, I hate the GW prices, just like everyone else. But at the same time, well, it's a free market, and they can charge what they like so...if you see the value, you can pay, or you can decide not to. 

Me, I absolutely love the Horus Heresy setting, love the stories of the Titan Legions, love the Titans and love the game.  So I am right in the marketing crosshairs for this, and even at these bowel-adjusting prices, I am going to participate.  But to say "this won't be for everyone" is a material understatement.  To assemble an "axiom battle line" maniple formation for just one Titan faction will easily set you back something in the neighbourhood of $350 to $400 CAD, probably more, depending on how much they price out the Warhounds once they are released (pending as I type this).  And remember you need cards for the weapons (as the weapon stats are not in the rule book) and the "terminals" (as the Titan core stats are not in the rule book).  That's just to put your maniple on the table, and ignores terrain etc.  So, this is going to be a niche game.  I encourage you to try it, because the setting is so cool! will cost, yes.   

Profile view of the loyalist Warlord Titan. 

Detail view on the rear of the loyalist Titan. 
Even if you are happy with your old models and "just" want to try the new rules, well, you can buy the book (and the "terminals" and weapon cards).  But as per above, the switch to paired-weapons-only for the Warlords is a big change, and will be something you will need to work around. 

The money you pay also amplifies the frustration you feel at the aspects they whiffed on.  For me, one stands out - as mentioned above, I cannot believe the vanilla weapon load out they put into the Warlord kit - just astounding when you consider there is so much else to totally LOVE about those new models. I expect the power fists/plasma annihilators/vortex missiles etc will come later in some manner of separate kit or upgrade set. I am concerned this will be from Forge World, which, in addition to the even-higher than normal high prices, will introduce the unreliability of resin castings, separate huge shipping charges, and weapons which are too heavy to be supported by the magnets...sigh. 

And So...

Look, for all of the frustration, I am very pleased to see this game out. There is a lot of good stuff here, and potential good stuff for the future. The good parts are great, GW doing what is can do best. And the frustrating parts are also very GW too: GW annoying and enraging fans the way only GW can.  GW won't change. If I boil it all down, I can't wait to play this with my friends!

Costly? Well...yes. But if you like them, better buy them before they are gone...
I am trying to gather the new models while I can. Between the pricing and uneven marketing, I expect this game is at great risk of heading into the GW doom loop, where they release something that is too expensive, it doesn't sell, and then they kill it because it doesn't sell...look, I'd rather be ranting about a game that is still for sale, than one that was killed off before it could take off.  So I hope it sticks around. It won't be for everyone, but if you dive in, I think you will really like it. 

We'll take the new models and new rules out for a spin this week with the gang on Fawcett Avenue. Reactors to full power! Full stride! Horus for hope! The God-engines will walk! 

Monday, September 24, 2018

More Warhounds for the Epic 30k Pack

Reinforcements for my Epic 30k forces - two Warhound class "scout" Titans
I have been ripping through some different projects in the vast "pending" pile on my painting tables.  Inspired by the arrival of the new version of "Adeptus Titanicus", as well as some fun Epic 30k gaming a couple weeks ago, I pulled up two Warhound class scout (!) titans for my Epic 30k collection.  These models (private sculpts, not available commercially), had been sitting in their black base coat for months waiting for my painting whims to return to science fiction, to 30k and to Epic.

Loyalist Warhound titan. 

Turbo-lasers on the right arm. 

"Vulcan mega bolter" on the left arm
My Epic 30k Titan collection featured engines from two different Legions - the Legio Mortis for the Warmaster, and the Legio Gryphonicus for the loyalist side.  Each Legio in my force already had a single Warhound painted already (see here for some action shots of the Titans for both forces). Often in the "fluff" of the setting (and in many formations from older version of the Epic game) Warhounds seem to be deployed in pairs, so I split up the newly painted Warhounds accordingly to ensure parity in my growing Epic 30k collection - by adding one new Titan to each side, each of my Legios would be able to put a pair of Warhounds out on to the table.

The new Warhound (left side of the photo) forms up with its brother-engine which had already been painted.
While the idea of a so-called "scout Titan" is pretty silly, I have to say I totally love the notion, and the Warhound is a fine-looking beast of war.  In Epic 30k the Warhounds can cover the battlefield with solid mobility, enjoy the protection of heavy armour and some shielding, and their weapons hit with enough power to wreck enemy detachments.

The loyalist Warhound here is sporting a set of turbo-lasers (great for wrecking armoured stuff) and a "Vulcan Mega Bolter", which will reduce even heavily armoured infantry detachments to mist (unless, of course, Byron is rolling saving throws for them - but I digress).

Rebel Warhound class Titan. 

Turbo lasers on the right arm.

Very nasty Plasma Blastgun on the left side. 
The rebel Warhound is also equipped with turbo-lasers, but its other weapon is a plasma blast gun, a nasty, nasty piece of kit that can harm just about anything, even other Titans.

The newly expanded Legio Mortis Warhound pack pose for a photo together.
Of course these "lighter" Titans are more vulnerable once the big guys like Reavers or Warlords show up, or if the enemy can bring some of the big super-heavy tanks into action (such as the Space Marine Legion "Falchion" tank).  The Warhounds have some shields and armour, but limited amounts, and are vulnerable to the big "Titan Killer" class of weapons - if the shields are down, they can vanish after a single shot...

With the re-release of "Adeptus Titanicus", I expect GW will be rolling out with new versions of the Warhound models for their game (and they will probably be a lot larger than these, based on what I have seen from the massive size of the new Warlord Titan models).  I haven't seen the new Warhounds yet - so far only the Warlord and Reaver class Titan chassis have been put out for sale - but it shouldn't be too long...

Whether it is more Epic 30k, or a game of "Adeptus Titanicus", I hope to get these "little" guys out on the table for a game sometime this fall!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

An Epic 30k Skirmish - Imperial Fists Fold...

Blast markers abound in an Epic 30k confrontation at Byron's place last week!
Games Workshop has recently re-released the game "Adeptus Titanicus".  As a long, long time fan of GW's long-abandoned "Epic" games and the 30k setting, news of the return of "Adeptus Titanicus" stirred many feelings.  I'll probably share/rant about those in another post. But more than anything, news of the release made me, first and foremost, want to get a game of Epic 30k in! I haven't played the setting or scale in many months, and back from my summer at the lake, I was keen to play a game - Byron M was kind enough to host and oblige last week.  Here are some pictures of the game.

For rules we used the "Epic: Armageddon" version of Epic, and stats from this amazing Epic 30k wiki. The scenario was not at all complex - a meeting engagement of two opposing detachments. Byron brought his lovely Epic 30k Death Guard to the table, while I played the part of the "loyalist" fools, deployment a force of Imperial Fist Legion Space Marines.  There were no Titans in the game, but each side had a couple of super-heavy Legion tanks backing up their forces.  The objectives were brutally simple - break the other force! The first side to have five detachments broken would lose...

Initial deployments taking shape...the Death Guard seem to be moving right into my trap *cough* (that's the official version I'll report to Malcador later...)
The first turn looked good for the Imperial Fists, as Byron struggled with his command rolls and so my forces were able to get a bit of a jump on the Death Guard.  Little did I suspect this would be the high-point for the Sons of Dorn...

Here is an ominous sight...Death Guard Spartan troop carriers, backed by a deadly Glaive super heavy tank...

Fellblade, Flachion and Dreadnoughts advance on the Death Guard flank.
In subsequent turns, Byron's evil dice mojo returned, with amazing saving throws, solid command rolls and other sinister benefits (no doubt derived from his forces' devotion to the great Warmaster, Horus Lupercal).  Meanwhile, I whiffed on command rolls, rolls to hit, rolls to know, ALL THE ROLLS YOU NEED TO MAKE.  Sigh.

VII Legion armoured forces move out - Falchion providing cover at the top of the photo.

Falchion barely lumbering forward, thanks to failed command rolls on my part. Oh well. What could go wrong?
My Fellblade detachment wrecked some serious sh*t, blasting the Death Guard Sicaran tank detachment to tiny pieces. But that was it for meaningful success. Among many low points, the worst for me was the moment I thought I had Byron's assault marines dead to rights: surrounded by my Sicaran tanks, I was certain all of those Herakles auto cannons and heavy bolters would ventilate those sad Sons of Barbarus...but, no, Byron had blazing hot saving throws and...

Stars of the show for me - Fellblades, oh yeah!!

Spartans move ahead, carrying a detachment of tactical marine aboard.

And Land Raiders broke, then my Spartans, then my Predators were blasted to pieces, then then one of my tactical detachments was broken in an assault carried out by the Death Guard assault marines who should have been misted by my Sicarans...the final blow came when my Falchion was blasted to particles...VII Legion suddenly remembered a meeting they needed to attend off world, and beat a hasty retreat, leaving the table to the victorious Death Guard.
Battle is joined - Death Guard Sicaran tanks halt my advancing spearheads...although the Fellblades (top right of the photo) will soon make short work of them...

The mendacious assault marines of the Death Guard.

Old Skool Predator tanks of the Death Guard move on through a drop pod LZ.
Another view of Byron's fine Sicaran tank detachment.

Near final dispositions (the only thing yet to happen before my defeat is the obliteration of my Falchion super heavy tank, seen hiding out near the middle bottom of the photo).
This game was a lot of fun, and again a reminder of just how excellent the "Epic: Armageddon" rules system can be.  The current editions of 30k/40k are such a morass, it is easy to forget that GW did release so many fun and excellent rules, "Epic: Armageddon" being foremost among them.  The rules reflect the character and "fluff" of the factions very well. And the 30k setting is just such a favourite of mine, so this was a great time. I hope to organize another Epic 30k game soon.