Friday, December 30, 2016

Brainstorm of Sigmar

So, I have been thinking.

"A dangerous passtime."
"I know".

I'm pretty darn good at running my Stormcast army. I win with them more than I lose (provided I'm doing more than goofing off), and I like the way the army plays on the board. The way you can shuffle buffs around as you need them is honestly a joy to use. Throwing Liberators with Sigmarite Shields and a +2 save modifier headlong into my opponent's most dangerous unit and watching them bog down the models that, by all accounts, should be gutting my army effortlessly for 4 turns (or more) is just satisfying.

...But I've been working on a project. Maybe you've seen them? The Sylvaneth? They (not to break my arm patting myself on the back) look great. The Stormcast? Dip & flick. In other words, not so much.

The Sylvaneth are an experienced player's army. You have to be careful. Now that the new FAQ nerfed Sylvaneth Wyldwoods (each has to be within 1" of all others in the feature now) the Sylvaneth Stripe O' Doom down the center of the table is gone. It's a bummer in a way, but that just means we have to adjust our tactics.

I have to do it.

I have to put the Stormcast into mothballs and start running (as well as step up the pace of painting) my tree peeps. I need to start getting in reps with my Sylvaneth.

At least weekly, if not more.

I need to get into a Sakura Sylvaneth State.

Now, why am I thinking this? Simple. I'm aiming for the NoVA Open this year. I intend to get good- not a little good, but intimidatingly so. I intend to hone my list to a razor's edge. I intend to face as many different opponents with as many different armies as possible. I intend to have That Army, but not be That Guy.

I'm going for the win.

Now, I have opted out of tournament play. I hate the people who WAAC (Win At Any Cost), because it seems that unless they are winning at playing with toys (and face facts- that's what we do) they have no self worth. Northern Virginia is rife with those people.

I must not let them get under my skin. I must remember the one Grand Tournament I went to when Games Workshop ran such things. I must remember that not all tournament players are scum, and that those who are should just be ignored.

I must stomp them pleasantly, and with a cheerful demeanor. After the game, I can report their Sportsmanship. During the game...

Well, let's just say I have my fair share of sportsmanship awards.

Now to start honing my gameplay.

I have another box coming.

What's in it? What will end up in my army?

Wouldn't you like to know.


Friday, December 23, 2016

Sakura of Sigmar

Why yes, I do like Asuka.
I've been doing a lot of painting. That painting has been to a level higher than you've seen on this blog in a while, and it has been rewarding to be producing an army painted to this standard.

When GW first started posting pictures of the new Sylvaneth, I knew I would be restraining myself from buying some, rather than just not getting them. They are all works of beauty, and I wanted to build and game with the minis in a way I could taste.

So, a couple of months ago I broke down and got the minis I had longed for.

It was worth it.

As soon as the boxes arrived from Dicehead Games, I tore the boxes open and got down to business.

*A quick aside here, if you buy GW online in the US, go through these guys. They are paragons of customer service!*

My first order of business was research. I had to find out which units were wort building, and which to avoid. It turns out that Treelords are all pretty great, and to my joy it turns out that the only real difference between them is their head & weapon. Both of these components are their own part, and the assemblies don't share any parts, so I had the option to magnetize them. This is a thing I had never done before, but the savings (both in terms of cash and time) made the call a no-brainer.

Best... Hair... Ever!!!
Turns out that if you know how to do it, the process of installing the magnets is nearly mindless. Thus, after assembling the components, I went to work with a pin drill and some rare earth magnets. The final result is just wonderful. I can build any two Treelords I desire, and it's just a matter of gently pulling off the head and hand, and then placing the appropriate replacement part into position.

Then the long slog... I put together 62 Dryads- 58 troops, and 4 leaders so that I can deploy 2 to 4 units as needed. This wasn't so much a nightmare as it was a marathon. Luckily I had a few days off and alone to do the assembly. Those models really hold up, even after over 10 years.

The Tree and Spite Revenants went together quite nicely, and left behind quite a few great bits and bobs to go on other models.

The Kurnoth Hunters, on the other hand, were a bit more trying. Not horribly difficult, just requiring patience.

Drycha, the whole reason I started this army, was a pain. The mini has lots of areas that have to be painted before assembly (the crystal in her leg in particular), so she had to be primed and painted half built, and man did I forget why I hate putting together a painted mini. I sure got one hell of a reminder! Unfortunately I don't have a pic of her readily available. Maybe next post?

I also put together and painted two Branchwraiths. luckily, the ethereal yet rugged look of the minis made it so I didn't have to fill each and every gap. Looking at them again, I well and truly adore this sculpt.

These are the first 21 dryads painted. Eleven more are just entering the third phase of my painting process for this army. In other words, I should be half way through the army very soon.

...And finally, my first ten Tree Revenants. I am particularly pleased with the result of the banner.

I am overjoyed that the hours I spent wandering around my neighborhood comparing paints, washes, and test minis to actual cherry trees paid off with such a great looking army. I'll be posting more pics soon, and hopefully this blog will pick back up as I prepare for a new project tangentially related to this one.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Pokemon: I Came, I Left, I Returned (Sorta)

Shameless Pokemon Cheesecake.
So, I was really obsessive about Pokemon Go, but then tragedy struck and I traded away my best critter with an accidental tap while in a conversation. Oh, also, there is one- let me repeat that, ONE Pokestop, and zero gyms, anywhere near where I live. This means I have to buy supplies in-game, because the construction of the game is stupid, and it rewards those in urban, upper-class environments. I ragequit the game, and swore it off.

Of course, in my usual style, I have returned. Not because the game is great or anything. I think the game is a waste of time. But I have a reason.

I have put on a fair few pounds of late. Now, I'm not "typical 'Murrican Wal-Mart shoppin' Rascal scooter drivin' washin' under the folds" fat, but let's just say I've put on 50% of my initial body weight again over the last few years. That's not good. I may be off the dating market, but I still wand to be okay with looking at myself in the mirror.

To this end, I am going to play the game for at least 30 minutes each day in order to get a walk in and if not lose, maintain, my current weight. This will slow my painting production, and the fact that I'm playing Elder Scrolls Online right now (say "hi" to Mitsune Kanno and her pet fox on the North America server some time), but it will continue to progress. I even have some pics to post- including a fairly huge development.

Oh, also, I have some thoughts on the General's Handbook. That will be addressed in its own post, though. As a preview; the points seem okay, but I have reservations about some of the army selection implementation choices...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

More Stormcast, And At Last, a Win!

Smug sense of satisfaction.
So, my Stormcast got their first big win against Demitra yesterday. I won't say that there weren't bad rolls on his part, but there were bad rolls on my end, too. In particular a Decimator Prime who hit three times in as many rounds of combat.

That said, I think I have found an overall army comp I'm okay with. My Drakesworn Templar could have done better, as all he ate were some weapon crew, an unlucky Engineer, and a Handgunner unit. In WHFB monsters were best employed hunting down squishy targets, so that's what I did.

There is also Very Big News. I have decided to change up how I'm painting my Sigmarines. The Celestial Vindicator scheme I have been using is too dexterity intensive to stick with, so most of the minis I have painted are in a bath of Simple Green right now. I took a close look at my shading and highlights, and upon realizing that they were... terrible, I switched to dip. Yes, I'm dipping minis again. Sue me.

Of course, I'll most likely lose soft score points for painting if I go to a tournament, so I will touch them up with some minor highlights, but with my hand what it is, serious painting is pretty much out of the question. This is why painting, while required, should not be added into a player's score in a tournament. For people like me, who don't have the fine motor control needed for a nice paint job, this may very put us out of the running before an event even begins.

Even sportsmanship (which is what is making me lean toward bowing out of X-Wing- too many players are jerks) is a score which, while it have some bearing on the tournament's outcome, is left up to players to decide, and can lead to dishonest players torpedoing their opponents' scores out of spite, or worse, to make sure their game club wins.

But what would be a solution? There will be jerks everywhere. It's a fact of life. When I ran Monsterpcalypse tournaments I would take a couple of minutes once or twice a round to just mosey through the tables and look in on the games as they were going on. In a really big to event, this just isn't possible.

This is where assistant judges come in. At a particularly large event, the T. O. will have a few extra staff on hand to make rulings when they are not available. Well, in between rulings just mosey from table to table checking in. The bad games are usually pretty easy to spot. Posture, expression, body movement, voice tone. It's all on display. Just quietly jot down the players involved, and keep on moving. If one (or both) players continue have games that appear less than pleasant, you probably have a problem gamer on your hands. Talk to their opponent, and find out what was going on. If the stories match up amongst the player's opponents, you have a problem participant. This is, in my opinion, a less biased way to determine sportsmanship. As far as how to implement it in terms of overall score? Got me there.

Any way, I'll throw up pics of my new Sigmarine color scheme soon. They should be dry enough to retouch the paint on tonight.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Starting To Understand Stormcast

So, I got in another game against Demitra in Age of Sigmar. Needless to say, I lost again, but I am picking up ideas.

First, when it comes to this army, numbers don't count for much. Five Decimators can lay out plenty of hurt against an opponent who still runs 20mm square bases. The tighter packed the enemy is, the quicker they will die. Stormcast are an MSU army. That's just how it is.

Second, when you set your eyes on a unit, kill it. This may seem elementary, but some enemies, once mangled (for instance Stormcast), are nigh useless. Others (the Celestial Hurricanum) are still very dangerous.

Third, don't be afraid of sacrifice. I hurled a unit of Decimators headlong into Demitra's handgunner mob using the Pennant of the Stormbringer turn one, and every ranged weapon on my right flank was instantly silenced. After the monstrous casualties the last three gunners turned tail and fled after only firing a single volley due to their musician.

Fourth, kill the enemy general. This may be a "duh, no joke" to many, but the loss of Command Abilities is a Very Big Deal. Once I had offed his boss, and still had my Lord Celestant trucking around handing out his +1 to hit bonus, the game felt very different.

Fifth, it's all about the characters. Having a pair of Knight-Heraldors hanging back and allowing my units to disengage & run & charge all at once was amazing. Teleporting a unit of Decimators into charge range turn one was stupendous. The Knight-Venator paid for himself impressively.

Bravely run away!
Sixth, don't be afraid to retreat. Seriously. I caught a lot of flak for the tactic, but the death of Demitra's general came at the hands of my Lord Celestant after he broke free of a drawn-out melee, spun around, and charged the foppish noble. Don't feel as though you have to stay in a fight that is less than ideal. You can (with the help of a Knight-Heraldor) pull out of a no-win situation and put your troops in a location they want to occupy. Alternatively, you could swap out mismatched troops for ones more suited to the situation, or even just withdraw and set up a roadblock in order to buy time. Think of Liberators with shields (already basically a speed bump unit) that have taken a charge from an elite enemy (in my last game, Greatswords). They cannot do enough damage to matter this turn, and in fact they may be mauled to the point that your opponent's unit will be able to wipe them out now, and continue toward an objective unmolested. What happens if they fall back a few inches? You can adjust the unit's position so the enemy cannot go where they want to without dealing with the nuisance unit, and they cannot be gotten rid of this turn. You have bought yourself a round to maneuver (and perhaps send help) just by falling back a bit.

I am pleased with myself.
In the end, this game is going to be what you make of it. My tactics are not the end-all be-all by any stretch. I lost my last game, I have not mastered the Stormcast, and I may never. I do, however, feel that I have improved vastly since my last outing. I forced myself to be patient, I was not afraid to leave a tactically sour situation, and I tried to prioritize targets (I was incorrect, but it was a start.

I did, several times, forget some abilities. I think I need to make up some reference cards with what abilities models have and when they trigger, but one thing at a time. First, master the basics, then on to the memorization.

I'm still looking forward to the General's Handbook. It will be a whole new way to play the game. As much as I love the PPC system (and I do), a standardized pick-up-and-play system for anywhere you go will help the game a ton.

Finally, I have some more minis done, and I'll show them off soon!