Sunday, 22 February 2015

An update on The Northern Crusade...

So Warmachine had become our go to game at the moment and I've been playing quite a bit of it. As ever I've got some thoughts on how is going and where I want to take it in future...

For Menoth!
As I mentioned in a previous post I started out playing Severius and own both versions of him. I've had more fun playing the prime version of him (Grand Scrutator Severius) than his epic form (Hierarch Severius). pSevvy has a nice collection of buffs, a focus stat of 8 meaning he can boost his jacks and some nice offensive spells. He has a really nice looking feat too that messes around with enemy focus allocation but I always realise I should have used it the tturn after it would make or break a game!

Old men with sticks. Fear them.
In general I've found Severius's playstyle a little too 'hide and buff' for my liking. I know Menoth is the faction of synergy rather than raw, naked power but I think it'd like to try a caster who will do a bit more of the lifting. I'm considering Ferrari, Priestess of the Flame, Thyra, Flame of Sorrow or Grand Exemplar Kreoss as the next one to try. I welcome thoughts or direction - I'm still at the stage where I trust Battle College.

This man just read a page on Mow Bombardiers
As for the other models I've bought, I'm really impressed with the following:

1) The Choir of Menoth

Yep,  the Choir is as good as they say. Hymn of Passage to start with then Hymn of Face Smashing in later turns. I've got enough models to do a second when we start playing bigger games too!

2) Reckoner

I love my Reckoner! It's 8 points but between the gun and the mace it makes a hell of a mess of things. It seems to take damage pretty well too which is a bonus. Especially as I don't have anything that repairs yet.

3) Redeemer

Its focus hungry but it clears out infantry really well. Especially with a Choir encouraging it.

My Temple Flameguard have only been out once and then they got destroyed by Orin Midwinter (blasted mercs hunting buffed units!). My Exemplar Errants haven't been out yet but I'm keen to try them. I could do with a box of Zealots or Daughters of the Flame but I'm making myself paint some of these first...

Not mine but I love these.
Things I've learnt so far

1) Watch your charge lanes!

I lost to Raye and her Cygnar on turn two after I stupidly let Major Katherine Laddermore get the drop on Severius.  A couple of hits with her weapon and he was dead (though technically he was killed by the Wrack that he was standing next to after it did to a Lightning Arc from the we a pin and exploded). I gave that game away during the deployment phase...

2) Keep the Pressure up

Warmachine doesn't seem to reward the cautious.  While I hate their tagline I do understand the philosophy - you need to play aggressively and get in your opponents face. This doesn't really come naturally to me so is taking some doing.

3) Focus is Important

Managing focus is hard and due to my love of jacks its always tight. Especially with an upkeep factory like Severius. Especially, especially if you want to overcharge your powerfield. I've still not got the hang of it yet. I have a nagging feeling that the solution is one jack and more troops... especially when we get to larger games.

Aspirational artwork
The musings about focus got me interested in fury and how it worked in Hordes. So for science I've bought Dr Arkadius, Targ,  Maximus, a gun boar, two road hogs and some bone grinders. Yep, I've gone pig for my second faction (it came fairly naturally as a gremlin player!). I was sorely tempted by voodoo crocodiles (and will likely end up with some in future) but the dieselpunk pigs won me over...

How could you not love this?
So there are. Comments and tips are very welcome. Especially on the viability of Farrow or combat Menoth casters!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The lay of the land...

So I've been thinking and talking about terrain a lot recently...

This has been sparked by the radically different approaches to the use of terrain in the two games I'm playing a lot of at the minute - namely Warmachine and Malifaux. I even did some research by asking on Twitter and Reddit. I am a proper blogger at last...

Fine! I asked a baby!
Malifaux, bring an objective based skirmish game, seems to take the approach of "Use as much terrain as you own (or can fit on the board)". At least when we play anyway. Having checked the rulebook it recommends "enough terrain to cover 25 to 50% of the playing surface" on a 3 by 3 table.  Each piece gains a variety of traits which then interact with an LoS system that was designed to collect tears from the Baby Jesus.

"I don't know how the elevation rules work either my son..."
Warmachine, a game of fighting designed for people who really like defining things, throws us a curve ball by saying "place as much terrain as seems appropriate" for your 4 by 4 table. I was floored by this but once I recovered I downloaded the 2015 Steamroller tournament pack and was reassured to find terrain setup defined thuslessly: As a general rule, an average table should have five to seven pieces of terrain placed closely enough to eliminate large open areas without unduly constricting movement. The size of terrain pieces is also important. No piece should be insignificantly small or extremely large". Then it says not to place terrain in deployment zones or within 5" of an objective. Like Malifaux, terrain has traits to tell you how it behaves.

No. Comment.
(As an aside, I wanted to reference the current Warhammer rules because I love the random terrain tables but it seems I've left by 8th edition rulebook somewhere...).

Something like that anyway.
So that's what the rulebooks say - two broadly similar approaches but players see me to have quite different expectations. What really struck me was what people said about abilities that let you ignore some of the terrain traits. To be specific, Malifaux players said "more terrain is good because it let's you hide and sneak around to do your schemes but some things can still get you" whereas Warmachine players said "too much terrain makes models that ignore it too good". I assume this comes down to the goal of the game. As Malifaux has less of a combat focus it's more legitimate for a model to not engage or be engaged in fights (hence "we like being able to hide" vs "ignoring it is too good"). As bring able to setup or block charge lanes is a key element of Warmachine it makes perfect sense that having lots of terrain in a game where entire factions are immune to it is a little rough.

What low wall?
So I guess the question is what do we, as gamers, do about it? I know I hate the idea of playing on an empty field with 2.5 hills, a wood and a pile of skulls that I never interact with. I've found that the trick is to make sure you know the game before you plan your terrain. If you need to be able to block off areas, you need the terrain to do it. If you need room to move, well those narrow city streets are going to ruin your fun. That said, Ben and I are determined to try Warmachine with our Malifaux approach to terrain and see what happens - my hope us that it makes movement even more important and increases the value of infantry over jacks (we are new so jacks are still the coolest bit of the game!)

Like this. But with more 'jacks
From a designer point if view I think the key is making terrain something you interact with. It's often said that terrain is the third player in a game of Infinity but the rulebook made my eyes bleed so I guess i'll never know. A Fistful of King Fu has an awesome terrain system that allows you to break up chairs and things to use as weapons or throw goldfish bowls or handfuls of dirt  at each other but it is a very low figure count game So I doubt the terrain bookkeeping gets too arduous. For me (and I know this will be controversial but hang in there) is something like GW's random terrain effects in WFB and later editions of 40K. Terrain pieces that you move around, get cover from and are occasionally eaten by.

Jackie Chan doesn't suffering penalties for rough terrain
As those of you who remember by post on 2015 goals will know I'm looking to make more terrain this year. Below are some photos of my work so far...

This is a statue using the Governor's Proxy model from Malifaux and a plinth from eBay.

These two are a sort of chemical refinery thing that didn't quite work out.

Some islands and sandbanks for Dystopian Wars. I literally bled to make these, I almost had to go to A&E after slicing my finger open cutting the insulation foam. Stupid islands...