Thursday, July 31, 2014

Malifaux Battle Report - Marcus vs Rasputina

Malifaux Monday was canceled this week, but my friend, Bogo, insisted on getting his Malifaux fix, so we organized our own game for Tuesday.  I introduced Bogo to the game just a couple of months ago, and he is absolutely enthralled with the game.  To the point that he has not only purchased around 4 crews, but he's already painted most of them to an above-tabletop standard!

We held a grudge match of my Marcus crew versus his Rasputina crew.  The last game we played resulted in a hard-fought, nail-biting tie.  So the two crews were spoiling for another fight.

We used my made-for-Malifaux Terraclips terrain set, Streets of Malifaux.  This is the first time that I've finally used this terrain, having purchased it 3 years ago!  This is exactly the kind of terrain that I want to have for the canal district that I've been developing as a side project.  Something that adds more 3-dimensionality to a skirmish game, with lots of catwalks and nooks and crannies.  I'm building a similar concept for 40K, but an industrial theme instead.

Start of game

We have a standard deployment 12" from the centerline.  The strategy is Turf War -- basically "king of the hill".  Have two models within 6" of center to score one victory point per turn, beginning at the end of Turn 2.

Rasputina is on the left; Marcus is on the right.  For those who know Malifaux, the 5 Schemes to choose from were:
  • Line in the Sand  (Rasputina, Marcus)
  • Breakthrough  (Rasputina)
  • Protect Territory
  • Plant Explosives
  • Frame for Murder
 Both of us revealed 'Line in the Sand'.  Bogo also revealed 'Breakthrough'.  I kept my second Scheme hidden.

Rasputina with her evil, sidekick Wendigo.  Plus two Ice Gamins and a Silent One.

Three December Acolytes were forward-deployed to the centerline.

Marcus, Myranda, the Jackalope, Sabertooth Cerberus, 2 Silurids, and 1 Moleman.  Plus another Silurid & Moleman pair deployed on the left flank.

Turn 1

With the December Acolytes forward-deployed, the action started right away.  This picture fails to show all the action that happened at the top of photo, where 4 models immediately engaged in furious combat.  It took a Sabertooth Cerberus to finish the task of dispatching a tenacious December Acolyte.

I made the same mistake on the first move of this game as I did the last time we had this match-up.  Tempted by the proximity of the December Acolyte, I needlessly jumped it with a Silurid, just because I "thought it would be fun".  It was fun, but it was no longer fun when he got squished, and the realization sunk in that I had needlessly sacrificed not only a useful resource, but an activation as well.  Same as last time.  It was even a Silurid the last time.  You know what they say, when you repeat the same behavior and expect different results....

The dead pool.

In the foreground, the rest of Marcus' crew has stacked manpower against the threat on Marcus' left flank.  Marcus used +3 to his Walk to zip him 24" from the opposite side of the table!  It's a risk for Marcus, if Rasputina wins Initiative on Turn 2.  The Wendigo could theoretically Devour Marcus and remove my Master from the game!

Turn 2

Rasputina won Initiative with a 13!  But Rasputina's activation went towards a different threat than Marcus.  Whew!  That left Marcus free to deal with the Wendigo.  Pumping up his Shillelagh into a 4/4/6 beat-stick, he stomped the Wendigo with a Red Joker on the first attack!  Which left 2 Actions to actually Charge the December Acolyte and whop her on the head, scoring two kills in one Activation!  This is the first time I've seen Marcus actually work a full offensive beat-down.  The field was re-leveled, after losing the Silurid.

Meanwhile, Myranda made a move for the center courtyard, in order to claim the objective.  She wanted to transform into the great white ape, Cojo, but she was underneath the bridge, and she couldn't fit Cojo's Height 3 form under the Height 2 bridge!  So she transformed into a Sabertooth Cerberus instead, to replace the first one, which had just been killed.

Marcus' beasts look mean, but those Ice Gamin are nasty, channeling spells for Rasputina and exploding when they die.  But what made them really hard to deal with was the protection they gained from Sub Zero, canceling the beasts' activations after the first hit.

Along the way, a Silurid Plants Explosives and scores 2 victory points!

Turn 3

Marcus' luck totally reverses.  Bearing a constant onslaught of attacks, and despite spending his Soulstones fairly wisely, he eventually falls, due in part to a vicious series of 3 Aces and the Black Joker.

Turn 4

Sabertooth Cerberus goes on a suicide run, to shut down Rasputina's devastating spells, buying time for the Silurid and the Molemen to concentrate on Line in the Sand.

A Moleman "Digs In", desperately holding on to his last remaining health point.

A December Acolyte makes a desperate run to attempt the Breakthrough mission, but the resurrected Jackalope intercepts the Acolyte and spoils her plans.

Turn 5

All of Marcus' crew is dead except one resolute Moleman!  But...Line in the Sand is achieved and Marcus' crew pull out the win 7-4!

<sung to Queen>  We are the Champions!

A photo I submitted to Wyrd's Summer Painting Challenge (now finished, so I may now post the photo)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Historicon 2014

I enjoyed a solid 2-and-a-half days of gaming and socializing at Historicon this year.  One thing that made it extra cool was sharing the experience with my good pal, Steve.  This event was Steve's first historical wargaming convention, and it fell on his birthday weekend, which gave him a kitchen pass away from the family and gave us free reign to eat, drink, and roll dice.  Good times.

Of course, ironically, I go to Historicon to play the sci-fi and fantasy games!  Those genres are viewed by some of the historical gamers as second-class citizens at Historicon, but the alternative-reality games are a drastically different experience than what Adepticon and NOVA Open offers. 

Rather than competitive tournaments, most fantasy/sci-fi games at Historicon are narrative, collaborative games, hosted by a game master for about a half-dozen players, plus-or-minus.  The rulesets are more "convention-tailored", streamlined for quick-learning and fast play.  And there is a healthy dose of alternative genres, like Victorian steampunk, pulp, Western, etc.  So Historicon is definitely worthwhile to non-historical players.

All Quiet on the Martian Front

Speaking of alternative genres, here are photos of models for the new game, All Quiet on the Martian Front, a War of the Worlds -inspired game by rules-author legends Alessio Calvatore and Rick Priestley (and Ernie Baker, too, but I don't know what his credentials are).  This is the first time I've seen the game in person.  The number, variety, and creativity of the models absolutely blew me away.

Jessica "Brushmistress" Rich

One of the unexpected surprises at Historicon this year was that I had the pleasure to meet regional painter extraordinaire, Jessica "Brushmistress" Rich.  It was a real treat to see her freehand work in person, especially a banner that showed a Brian Froud-inspired collage of fey and goblins (why-oh-why did I not take a photo?).  I even had the opportunity to play one of the "big table" games with her husband, Ray.  He played all the Bad Guys for the entire table!


As a matter of fact, here it is.  The game is called Crom, basically a setting for Conan the Barbarian.  That's me on the right side, standing up, in the blue shirt.  Ray is on the opposite side of the table from me.

Photo credit: Miniature Addicts Anonymous on Facebook

Conan fights in the mid-town bazaar, amongst the dancing girls.
The party arrives at the third scene, the Jungle Ziggurat!
Fantastic terrain.
The secret, underground ruins arise, and the dark summoning ritual begins.  Will our heroes save the day?!
The person who played Conan had the honor to wear the horned helmet.  It was temporarily passed to the people who played female characters who were lucky enough to win "Conan's Favor".

Lord of the Rings Strategy Game

 Saturday morning, I played a game of Lord of the Rings Strategy Game, a game I've wanted to play for a long time, but have never really had the opportunity to.  I learned that the gentleman who ran this game is local to me, so maybe I'll be able to work LotR into my rotation!

That said, I was surprised to find the melee combat a little unsatisfying.  Logically, it makes sense to me -- the opposed roll, one-side-wins mechanic is fast and sensible.  It's something I think I might have come up with myself.  But for some reason, it didn't hit on all cylinders for me.  I suspect if I read through the rules, the logic of it will open the emotional response.

In any case, the terrain and the models were fantastic, and the overall scenario and game-play was what I had always imagined wargaming to be like.  The attention to detail really brought me into the story.  There's even laundry hanging out to dry on the clothesline!

Unfortunately, our orc raid on the farmstead failed, no doubt due to a young Aragorn leading the defenses.  Punk.

40K Homebrew

The day before was a 40K game using a set of homegrown rules.  The game was a blast.  It was a real treat to just focus on the narrative and enjoy all the flavor of 40K, without all the baggage of overwrought rules and competitive list-building.

I requested to play the Gretchen, the goblin-like guys in the center.  Because I like goblins.  They suck in combat, but they crack me up.  As a bonus, I also played the Killa Kan and the Orc Heavy Weapons team.

For the first 3 Turns, the Gretchen hid in the forest on the flank, taunting and tempting the Space Wolves away from the center objective.  The Space Wolves took pot-shots at them to no avail and then finally decided to ignore them.  At which point, the Gretchen popped out of cover, pop-guns ablazing!  They actually took out enough Space Wolves to weaken their effort at reinforcing the center, and the Gretchen made a substantive contribution towards the Ork victory.  Yay!

Napolean at War

As I mentioned, I didn't go to Historicon to play historical games, ha, ha.  As it turned out, though, my gamemaster was a no-show for one of my games, and I tracked down Steve to see what he was doing.  Turns out they needed another body for a Napolean at War game, and the empty chair was directly across from Steve!

Now if I'm inclined to play anything historical, it would be something from Ancients up to Renaissance, in chronological order of preference.  Napoleonics is pretty much off my list.  But I have to admit, this game was really fascinating.  I really enjoyed the formation maneuvers, the tactics, and the troop types.  And aesthetically, the 15mm scale was pleasing to the eye for that scale of  battle. 

I was on the side of the French, and I was assigned to defend the village, which was the objective overall.  Poor Steve was assigned to launch an attack through the swamp.  I had a definite defensive advantage, and it played out true to expectations.

Steve maneuvers units through the mucky swamps.

The offense had difficulty forming a wide enough frontage, and the French defenders pretty much had double the firepower.  None shall pass!

The swamp was a lost cause, so we shifted our attention to a cavalry fight to see if we could break/hold the line on the battlefield.

The French won the initial conflict.  I then sent units on suicide missions, just to see what would happen.  They died.

But the French were victorious in the end!

Evening pick-up game

I tracked down Steve after all of the organized events were over, and he had settled in with a good group of dudes who live in our region.  They were playing a relaxed Wild West game, basically drinking and rolling dice.  This was a great way to wrap up the day.

Most, if not all, of the terrain is home-made!  Phenomenal.  You can see Swearingen from Deadwood on the balcony of the center building, designed to look just like the building from the series.

The signage on the left is a giveaway that I was playing with people my own age!

Art Competition

I didn't realize that Historicon hosted an art competition, much less one that featured a fair amount of fantasy and sci-fi figures.  If I had known, maybe I would have competed!  There's always next year.

Always nice to see a nicely-painted Rackham figure.

Love these Samurai rabbits.

For even more great photos of Historicon, check out the gallery of the Miniature Addicts Anonymous Facebook group, here.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

WIP - On the assembly table

These are the kind of files that make short work of the metal gunk on the bottom of bases.  I filed all 10 horses somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes.  It would have been double or triple that, just using my usual triangular file.

Here I've used a Milliput slurry to fill in all the pitting on the front two horses' rumps and neck.  Unfortunately, it's hard to tell how smooth the final result is until I prime the models.  I think there will still be "shallows" and dimples, but this should be good enough for tabletop quality.

I also glued metal plates on the underside of the black, plastic bases.  The metal plates are slightly larger than the plastic cavalry bases, and the edges of the metal plates are somewhat sharp.  So that meant filing the corners and rounding them off.  More work than I bargained for, but it will make for some solid game-pieces that will feel good to handle on the tabletop.  The metal plates not only add heft, but also serve to transport the miniatures in magnetized containers.

Having based all these horses on individual bases, I finally now understand why the historical players prefer basing multiple models on "stands".  You can position the models much more realistically on stands, staggering the front-back positions and varying the distance between models.  Much more organic and pleasing to the eye.  On the other hand, basing them individually gives me the option to use them in either skirmish games, using the models individually, or in mass-combat games, using the models in rank-and-file formations.

Finally, here's my conversion for Joss, for my Ramos crew in Malifaux.  I like the official Wyrd model a lot, but it's only available in the full Ramos set, which I don't need.  This model is from the game, Eden, and I outfitted him from various salvaged pieces from my bitz box.

The original model holds a wrench instead of an axe.  I kept the wrench handle and epoxied on an axe-head, I think from Confrontation.  The cable and counterweight are the usual stand-ins from guitar strings.  The other end of the cable emerges from a power-pod on his back, not from out of his head, which is what this camera angle suggests.

I green-stuffed the mohawk.  It might need a little tweaking once it's cured a little more.

This guy is a beast in-game.  His Pneumatic Fist has one of the most brutal damage stats in the game.  I look forward to seeing him on the tabletop.