Thursday, May 8, 2014

Seasick Sanguinary Guard

I painted this model for a friend. I took it as an opportunity to experiment a bit, and the results are... interesting. I don't think it really suits the model, but painting gold this way might work for, say, an undead model or something like that.

I've nicknamed him "Seasick Steve" after the singer of the same name, simply because the name seems to fit. I was in a bit of a hurry to finish the model so I didn't spend as much time as I might otherwise have, but I think it still came out well except for the colour not really working for the model. Basically I painted it in normal golds and bronzes, then applied a green glaze, then drybrushed with gold. This turned out very greenish and not shaded enough, so I used Armypainter Quickshade strong tone on top of that, which reduced the green-ness by covering the deepest areas and generally adding a bit of brown.

The base was interesting; I was trying something new, the results are much more subtle than I expected, though still quite cool:

Basically after priming the model I stuck some little "battlefield rocks" on to match the rock that's part of the model's foot, then covered it all with a layer of Agrellan Earth. Once that had dried and cracked, I painted watered down orange into the cracks (it took several coats to get it to build up in some areas, seems it kept getting "wicked" into hidden hollows), then brushed on black, then drybrushed it with dark grey to avoid overpowering the orange. While the black looks quite flat and the orange isn't bright enough and the cracks are too small to be easily visible from more than a few inches away, it looks pretty good up close...

While I'm not satisfied with the model overall, I think it looks pretty good considering how much less time I spent on it than usual. It makes me feel that there is actually hope for me to paint a small army if I use a simple colour scheme and don't spend too much time on highlights, and use shortcuts like army painter. Maybe someday I actually will have a fully painted force on the table. Maybe. Hey, it could happen, right?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

More Shooting Shenanigans

We had an extended day at the club and I was able to play a couple of games of Warmachine and an introductory game of Infinity.

We were using the Infinity quickstart rules, I found the game very interesting and a great deal of fun. Models are very fragile as a single shot can take one out of the fight, but there's a high degree of randomness involved so you could lose a model to the first shot of the game (as I did) or have two models flailing at each other for multiple turns without doing any good (as we did). I really like the reaction system; the game feels much less "my turn your turn" since you are reacting to your opponents moves. I also think the dice system is very cool, it's much harder to work out probabilities than in other games I've played, and while having better stats gives you an advantage it could always realistically go either way. And of course the models are amazing, although from my limited exposure to them I don't think that the factions have as strong a signature visual style as factions do in other games. Perhaps it's just more subtle and I'll pick up on it if I keep playing.

But back to Warmachine. I played my current Harkevich list against a Cygnar list that went something like:
- Stormclad
- Sylyss
Storm Blades with the UA and Gunners
Storm Lances (5)
Tempest Blazers (5)
Storm Blade Captain x 2

My opponent gave me a heads up on what the army could do and what Caine's strengths were. We rolled a scenario with two zones, each with an objective in the middle. I won the roll-off and opted to go second. He deployed most of his army opposite the objective on my left, with pretty much just the Tempest Blazers on my right. I deployed Torch and Thor's group to the right to deal with the Tempest Blazers, Ivan and the Demolisher on my left, the Nyss far to the left where they could run into the forest, and the mechanics behind the Jacks.

Round 1
He advances and casts a lot of buffs. I advance and cast the usual Escort on Harkevich and Fortune on Torch. I didn't use Thor's Drive as I didn't want to overextend the Blasters. Sylyss stays well back this time, and the Mechanics decide to stay back where it's safe.

Round 2
His Rangers and some Storm Lances do a number on the Nyss - the Rangers' ability to lower their defense basically makes them easy pickings, and he rolls pretty well. Also, electroleaps.
My army is the one with no paint on it. Sigh.

His Tempest Blazers take out Thor and some Engineers, and start to circle around behind my army. The Storm Blades (and a few of the Storm Lances) move up and try to take out the Demolisher, but between Cover, being engaged, and being armour 25, he barely scratches it. Because of the Killbox he moves Caine up a little and sits him between two pieces of the (very nice) generator terrain object.

In my turn I have an idea; I give Torch a single focus point and the Demolisher a single focus point. The Koldun Lord moves up and gives Black Ivan a focus point. I run Torch as far up as I can towards Caine then cast Broadside. The idea is to hit Caine with a fortuned spray attack; it won't kill him but it will do damage as he's not camping very much, and if it hits it can set him on fire. Problem is, I forgot that Warjacks have to be in Harkevich's control area to get the shot from Broadside, and I've run Torch too far forwards. If I had made sure to keep him in Harkevich's control area, or even moved Harkevich up first, it might have worked. Oh well. I use the Demolisher's shot to kill the Storm Lance engaging him (with help from a Blaster - the other does very little), and Ivan's shot to kill a Storm Blade Captain hiding way back behind the Storm Blades. Ivan then tries to kill the second Captain in his activation but is out of range; the deviation kills a Ranger (and possibly a Storm Blade). I don't want to open up the Demolisher; it's much more valuable contesting the zone and blocking his army, but I want to try to score, so I use a slam power attack against the objective. It doesn't do any damage. I pull my support models in to shield Harkevich from the Tempest Blazers; I know this only a temporary measure, but oh well. The remaining Nyss charge the Storm Lances; the two on the right miss, prompting Cylena to show them how it's done; she hits and rolls three sixes for damage, leaving the last Hunter with nothing to do. I like to think she cut both man and horse clean in half with a single swing.

Round 3
I don't think he likes where Torch is standing, because he decides to try to go for the caster-kill. He moves up Caine and uses Thunder Strike to slam Black Ivan into Harkevich. Unfortunately, because of the pylons sticking out from the terrain object I was hiding behind, I couldn't put the Battle Mechanic Officer in base contact with Harkevich, otherwise he at least would have stayed on his feet.
BTW that's a forest in the top right.

I don't remember why, but he took the opportunity to set the Stormclad on the Demolisher. It didn't do very much. His Rangers and Tempest Blazers then shot Harkevich to death.
Armour 18 isn't really enough to save a Warcaster from being shot to death.

The game was fun and I enjoyed seeing all that cavalry on the table. I like the idea of the fortuned shooty Jack running up and shooting at the Caster with Broadside (even if I screwed it up this time); perhaps a fortuned Destroyer or Behemoth together with Black Ivan could catch people by surprise? I was also impressed by how useful the Demolisher was in just holding people back; the terrain and objective helped a lot of course. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised however at how quickly the Nyss died thanks to the loss of a couple of points of defense.

My second Warmachine game was a 35 point game against a Mercenaries army. Against my better judgement I decided to drop the Nyss rather than a Warjack, and I also dropped Thor's group and put the Man-O-War Kovnik back in. To be fair none of them had been doing very much for me lately and it was getting a bit late so I didn't want to spend to much time stressing over army composition. His army included:
Gorten Grundback
- Driller
- Blaster x2
Forge Guard x2
Herne and Jonne
A girl and her pet bear (?)

I didn't take any photos and we ran out of time early in the game as the club was closing, but at that point I had made some mistakes in my positioning: I set up Torch at what I had judged was just in range to charge the bear or one unit of Forge Guard through rough terrain, the Kovnik about 8 inches away from the same unit of Forge Guard, and the Demolisher likewise about 8 inches away from the other unit of Forge Guard. The thing is, it turns out Forge Guard have Reach. My opponent had mentioned it, but I hadn't heard him and it just hadn't occurred to me that Dwarves would have Reach - I mean, seriously, would you expect them to? So they got the charge on the Kovnik and murdered him, and the other unit charged the Demolisher and put some damage on him. Also, after checking their card(s?), it turns out the Bear and his girl have Pathfinder so they were able to charge Torch. Luckily he was just out of range of the girl so the Bear wasn't able to get a gang bonus, but the bear still did a lot of damage (damned Warbeasts with their infinite Fury) then threw Torch out of Harkevich's control area, effectively crippling him.

With five minutes left, we decided to play on because I thought there was a chance I could pull off an assassination; I trampled the Demolisher over the Forge Guard and tried to shoot at Gorten. We were in a hurry at the time so we didn't spend long figuring out if it was legal or not, but in retrospect I don't think it was; Torch pull that trick because he has Virtuoso, allowing him to make ranged attacks in the same activation as melee attacks, but Demolishers don't have Virtuoso. Anyway, the Dwarves' free strikes crippled the Demolisher's left arm, so I didn't bother to buy a second shot because I forgot his guns aren't in his arms; I missed the first shot and the Broadsides shot, so we stopped there.

I was impressed by how strong a list that was: the Forge Guard are tough and hit hard and will kill Warjacks or infantry (if they can reach them), Herne and Jonne bring a fair bit of anti-infantry, and of course he's also got the Blasters for that, and then there's the Driller (which he can buff to P&S 21!) and the bear for even more armour cracking; the list is slow but can really dish out the pain. Even if I hadn't underestimated the army and gotten all my models charged, I still don't know how I could have won short of a lucky assassination run.

So this time I was up against two large Weaponmaster units with Shield Wall and Reach. So Weaponmasters can kill infantry, heavy infantry, and Warjacks; kinda makes me feel like any other kind of unit is a bit redundant. It just kind of feels like paper-rock-scissors-shotgun, and guess who's the shotgun.

I'm really starting to like the possibilities Harkevich brings for a ranged assassination, although I would need a more focused list to make the most of it - maybe it's time to give Behemoth a go? I think it's time to drop the Mechanics; I just so rarely do anything useful with them, especially with my Jacks moving up more quickly thanks to Escort. The Koldun Lord isn't doing very much either now that he's not marshaling a Jack (and he's a lot easier to kill without one to take shots for him), I think I'll drop him too. I think I need to trade Thor and co for some form of resilient infantry. Or Doom Reavers with the escort; you can never have too many Weapon Masters right? While I'd love to swap the Spriggan back in, I'm really starting to see the value of the Demolisher as a mobile wall that you can't ignore, and I'm not sure I'm done experimenting with Torch just yet.

I've have noticed that I tend to swap back and forth between the past and present tense when writing battle reports. I need to keep an eye on that.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Undead Cheese

I just played my first game against Cryx. I was running a small modification of my previous list:
- Black Ivan
- Torch
- Demolisher
- Sylyss
Mechanics (min)
- Officer
Koldun Lord
Thor Steinhammer
- Blaster
- Blaster
Nyss Hunters (max)

I don't remember my opponent's exact list, but it was something like:
- Harrower
- Cankerworm
- one of those little TMNT mouser droid things, not sure which one
Bane Thralls (max)
- UA
Banelord Tartarus
Satyxis Raiders (max), and some sort of attachment or supporting solo
A fat mechanic thing, I think it makes bomb zombies or something
Scarlock thrall (I think)

I forgot to take pictures so I can't remember exactly what happened, but I'll give at least a summary. First of all, my list: I was meaning to try this list last week but forgot to bring the right bits. I had a theory that Harkevich would run Torch better than Strakhov; between fortune and Broadside the flamer could be very effective. Throw the feat into the mix and Torch could potentially get three shots with the template with rerolls on them all in a single turn, that could help a lot with my infantry problem. I needed an extra point in order to afford Torch, so I decided to drop the Spriggan (sob) and give the Demolisher another go. I've been reading a bit about him so I think I have a better idea of how to use him now, with potentially up to four 4" AOEs in a single turn he should give me some good anti-infantry firepower... well, more than I had before anyway. Yes, I have less armour cracking ability than before, but between Torch and the Nyss it will probably do.

Let's talk about the Bane Thralls. I was expecting my opponent to bring Cryx, so I decided to read the Cryx section of the main rulebook again as a bit of preparation. Last time I learned what a pain Stealth could be, and at this point I'm pretty much terrified of Weaponmasters. So guess what Bane Thralls do? That's right, it's a unit of Stealthed Weaponmasters. So you can't shoot them, then when they reach you, they put out a lot of damage. But wait, there's more! They also debuff your armour just by being close to you (Dark Shroud I think it's called), so not only do they deal more damage, all the rest of your opponent's army does too. Oh, and his unit are also tough and have a mini-feat thing that lets them stand back up once for free. Lovely. A few of his other models also have Stealth, including Cankerworm. Which also has an armour-piercing attack, so that's another one I need to watch out for.

Now that's OK, I know there's going to be ways to deal with them. Problem is I'm not sure if my list has any. Well, my best bet is probably the Nyss; they're faster and have ranged attacks, so with care I can get them withing 5 inches and whittle him down a bit with shooting, or get the charge, and they have high defense, so they won't be completely wiped out up close. Plus, my list now has a lot of templates (which have a chance of doing damage) and sprays (which ignore stealth), so that's something, even if they are close-range weapons.

The scenario is one with two rectangular zones. I win the roll-off and opt to go second. He deploys everything centrally, with his Bane Thralls on my right and the Satyxis behind them. I deploy my Demolisher, Nyss, and Torch opposite his infantry, Ivan on the other side with the Koldun Lord, and the Mechanics spread out behind the Jacks.

Round 1
He moves forwards and spreads out his Bane Thralls in the zone on my right so it's almost impossible to get more than one with an AOE. Harkevich puts up Escort and Fortune on Torch. I run my guys up, except Black Ivan who takes a shot at a Bane Thrall. It misses automatically and the deviation isn't helpful.

Round 2
He moves up further. The Harrower takes a shot at Harkevich and kills off Sylyss, who was in base contact (I need to keep that guy farther back). Tartarus runs up to my Nyss and forces them to take a leadership check. Boxcars. Great. I'm still not clear on how failing leadership checks works, so I opt to not move the Nyss in my turn. They successfully rally though. At this point I'm worried about the Harrower, which if I understand correctly can shoot me through anything (filthy Cryx). So I decide to charge it with Black Ivan, even though I'm not sure it's in range. So I move my other two jacks up to take shots at the Bane Thralls, then I feat with Harkevich, then cast Broadside for some more shots at the Thralls. Ivan then declares a charge at the Harrower, taking his free shot at the Cankerworm. Which I forgot had Stealth, so he misses and does nothing. The problem is I didn't give Black Ivan enough focus as I wanted to maintain the upkeeps but had lost Sylyss, and I wanted Broadside as the Bane Thralls were still my primary concern. As a result Black Ivan did some damage (I think he took down the Harrower's gun), but not enough to wreck it. One Blaster moved up to where it could fire at the Thralls, taking a few points of damage off the Officer (had I known he was the officer before rolling for damage I would have boosted the roll, but I hadn't realised it from across the table), the other (which had the benefit of Thor's Tune-Up) tried to move up to a position where it could catch both Asphyxius and another model with it's spray, but I didn't realize Aspyxious had Reach and ended up putting it too close so it couldn't shoot. Sigh.

Round 3
Guess what? Bane Lord Tartarus has Reach, Weaponmaster, and Thresher. Oh, and he can curse a unit to drop their defense (in the same activation that he attacks it seems), so my Nyss' high defense didn't save them from losing half their number -including Cylena - to a single swing. But wait, there's more! I didn't just lose five Nyss, he also gained five more Bane Thralls that could activate in the same turn. Ugh, filthy Cryx. So the Bane Thralls are almost back up to full strength now (actually they might have been above full strength at this point). Luckily a few were knocked down and I was able to kill the guy who lets them stand back up, so they didn't all get to swing at me. Anyway, he did plenty of damage to Torch and the Demolisher but luckily they survived in working order thanks to Harkevich's feat (I think I had not opened the Demolisher at this point, just taking the shots from Broadside then closing him back up in his activation). He tried to cast a spell at Black Ivan but missed as he was engaged; I took the opportunity to use Dodge and move into base-to-base contact with Asphyxious. This was a mistake on my part; I was hoping for the chance to get a free strike on him, or possibly even to survive the turn so I could actually attack him. Unfortunately I moved before he had activated Asphyxious, the Harrower, or Cankerworm, so he devoted all three to try to kill Black Ivan, which he managed to do (the fact that he was able to use multiple armour debuffs didn't hurt his chances). Had I waited until later, I might have been able to move away after one or more of them had activated, and ideally during the Harrower's activation to rob it of some attacks, which might have been enough to survive and put him in a bad position, but oh well. Oh, and the Nyss failed their leadership roll for losing half their unit. Sigh.

I finally ask what's giving the Bane Thralls Tough. Turns out it's the Standard Bearer. So I hatch a plan to get rid of him; I wasn't sure this was legal but we discussed it and decided it was OK, and I've looked it up online since then and the consensus seems to be that it's fine. After Harkevich casts Broadside to help Torch clear some Thralls, Torch tramples up towards the Standard Bearer. He kills a couple of Thralls along the way and avoids any free strikes as any Thralls in range were knocked down from making Tough rolls. After trampling you can buy additional melee attacks, but Torch has Virtuoso, meaning he can make ranged and melee attacks in the same activation. I figured he couldn't make an initial ranged attack since you can make either initial attacks or a power move, but that didn't mean he couldn't buy additional ranged attacks. So he bought an attack and sprayed the Standard Bearer, finally ridding me of those annoying Tough rolls. The Demolisher tried to kill Tartarus and failed. The Nyss stood still then rallied again.

Round 4
Tartarus kills two more Nyss and a mechanic, generating three more Bane Thralls. The Thralls activate and kill off my Jacks. At this point I'm down to just Harkevich and a few machanics, so when his turn ends he scores a bunch of victory points and wins the game.

Post-game thoughts
So basically by the end of the game he had killed off almost my entire army and was only down most (but not all) of a unit of Bane Thralls? I know I'm not a very good player, but that was ridiculous. Of course between his good Tough rolls and respawning the damned things, I pretty much had to kill each one about three or four times.

The Nyss did NOTHING. I had a couple of unlucky rolls with them, and that was all it took. If I had known what Tartarus could do (and if I'd thought about it properly), I would have moved most of them away but left just one engaged with him, so he either killed just the one or took a free strike in order to try to reach more. Had the Nyss not frozen in fear, thing would have been very different as they were pretty much my best bet for dealing with the Thralls.

Thor and the Blasters didn't do very much. I know that they can be useful, but they aren't working for me so far; Thor tends to die early on and the Blasters keep getting engaged, at which point they suck.I really with they had Gunfighter.

Torch was pretty good in the game; Fortune really helped his spray, and getting two of them proved to be pretty much the most effective thing I had against the Bane Thralls, especially since even if they survived their tough rolls, they would still be on fire giving me one last chance to kill them.

The stat my Jacks have that's rather nice is their armour, but what good does that do when Cryx can drop my armour just by standing next to me, then can layer on two or three armour debuff on top of that?

Overall that was quite a painful match; I must say I'm not feeling an abundance of affection for the Cryx right now. Stealthed Tough regenerating Weaponmaster infantry who debuff you just by standing next to you? Yeah, nice going there PP.