Monday, July 30, 2012

Dust Arrives And Gets Painted

Well, as stated before my Dust shipment arrived. Everything save the Campaign Book Zverograd arrived in a single big box from the Miniature Market. The book I ordered from my FLGS. Unfortunately the shipment came in right before I had to leave for work, so all I war able to accomplish was lining up and photographing my haul.

The next day I set about unboxing and assembling the minis. Yes, some assembly is required. Grand'Ma (Koshka's personal KV47) came in four pieces (two arms, a body, and a base) so she got some superglue to hold all her bits in place. The normal KV47 walker is supposed to have interchangeable arms, but because of the way they're put together the arms droop and/or just plain fall off the mini. That required some superglue, and now the mini is permanently a KV47-A variant. Also, one of my Rifle Squad members wasn't attached to his base properly, but that was just a matter of gluing his foot back onto the base. No big deal.

One thing I did notice about the infantry is that the heads are haphazardly attached. The minis come looking in directions that make no sense whatsoever. Luckily the heads aren't really glued into place very well, and with a gentle tug you can take the head off of the miniature. The head comes with a peg that acts as both the neck as well as the anchor into the body, so a dab of superglue took care of that problem.

From there it was on to painting. I began with the models that would set the tone of the army; the Commissar Squad.

These fellows would be attached to various squads about the army, so their uniform had to match the rest of the force, yet stand out to denote their importance. The brown jackets would match the SSU uniform I would use (I tries to match their uniforms to those I found by Googling "Soviet WW2 uniform") and their armor was painted in what Vallejo Model Color calls "Soviet Green". The way I decided to make them stand out against the masses of normal infantry was to give them blue pants. This would be a stark contrast to the earth tones used elsewhere in the army, and served to offset the red stars on their hats nicely. One of these minis (the fellow pointing) will not be in my finalized army, but I painted him up any way.

The bases on the models are steel plating, so I painted them up appropriately.

My next project would be to tackle the Combat Squad. These fellows will be featured prominently in my army, so I decided to use them to determine the paint job on my infantry. I matched the colors found on the commissars' jackets and body armor. There's a lot more leather found on these minis, so you can see the coloration on that area of the minis much clearer in this photo.

Next up would be Koshka. I wanted to save the character mini for last, but I just couldn't resist.

I wanted her to match the rest of my army, so she has a black leather jacket and brown pants. Unfortunately this is what she's suppose to look like:

Oh, well. I still think she looks okay in my color scheme.

From there I decided to paint up a little armor. I grabbed the KV47-A and went to town. Again I Googled the appropriate camouflage scheme, and from there adapted it to a walker.

I probably should have gone with Grand'Ma (Koshka's walker), but I decided that if I was going to mess up a color scheme, I'd rather do it on a non-character mini. I don't like how the base came out, but aside from that the model looks good.

Yesterday and today saw me focusing on the Rifle Squad. They're done as of about an hour ago, and here they are:

They're a good match to the Combat Squad, and I'm glad that Fantasy Flight Games/Dust Studio decided to give them different headgear than the Combat Squad, as this unit is literally a hybrid of the Combat Squad and Sniper Team minis with a head swap. Don't believe me? you'll see once the snipers are finished.

That's it on the painting front for now. Grand'Ma is sitting on the painting table as her Nuln Oil shade dries, and she ought to be ready for me to get back to painting right about now. Time to turn the ol' podcasts back on and get to work.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Another Army List- This Time SSU

That's right, I'm posting my SSU army list for Dust. It's mostly a conglomeration of almost every SSU miniature on the market, and it's up for re-tweaking, but this is pretty close to the final version.

From what I can figure, the SSU's main advantage is their commissars. The ability to tack them onto any squad in your force, as well as their ability to add new and exciting weapons to squads makes them the x-factor your opponent will have to think around. Their units all act a little odd compared to Axis and Allied units (our squads are quite specialized) but that allows every unit to focus on one aspect of the fight rather than spreading their fire around the field. Plus the commissars' ability to paste two identical squads together into one makes them a scary prospect. I plan on fielding an 11 man squad armed with five machineguns. That should put a dent into Infantry 2 units!

The SSU however does suffer from a single major drawback- they can't effectively engage enemy armor. Maybe that will change once the super heavy tanks arrive (December-ish) but for now we have to fall back on our Widowmaker rifles, which are much less accurate than our Axis and Allied equivalents, but we just plain get more sniper rifles than they do. The fact that they're either in the hands of a pair of snipers or hidden in a squad (the rifles have Penetrator, which is nice) ups their effectiveness, but they can only engage up to Vehicle 4 units, which puts us at a serious disadvantage against the new Axis Vehicle 5 & 6 walkers. Let's not mention the Axis & Allied Vehicle 7 machines.

Our other method is praying that our KV47 walkers and Close Combat Squads can take out the enemy walkers before they can paste us. Sulfur Throwers are great at this (setting enemy vehicles on fire will be a ton of fun). Provided they can:
A) Be brought into range (our best Sulfur Thrower has a 14" range), as they may very well be destroyed on their way into combat.
B) Hit. One die needing a 5+ to hit just isn't a very good chance, and then there's armor negating damage...

Here's what I plan on running:

Command Section: SSU Command Squad (25 AP)
-Special Support 1: "The Trediakovsky" Commissar (8 AP)
-Special Support 2: "The Karamzin" Commissar (8 AP)
Section 1: SSU Battle Squad (20 AP)
Section 2: SSU Battle Squad (20 AP)
Section 3: SSU Rifle Squad (20 AP)
Section 4: ---------------------------------
-Support 1: SSU Sniper Team (14 AP)
-Support 2: MIL-MI 45 Airborne Transport (40 AP)

DEFENSE PLATOON (Political Importance- 5AP)
-Special Support 1: "The Sumarokov" Commissar (5 AP)
-Special Support 2: "The Derzhavin" Commissar (5 AP)
Command Section: Koshka (18 AP)
-Grand'Ma: (35 AP)
Section 1: SSU Close Combat Squad (21 AP)
Section 2: SSU Close Combat Squad (21 AP)
Section 3: --------------------------------
Section 4: --------------------------------
-Support 1: KV47-A Walker (30 AP)
I'm really only running Koshka and Grand'Ma in the army as a way to shoehorn in another KV47 variant. Since I can assign the platoon "Political Importance" so I can run the commissars I want in order to keep the Close Combat Squads in the fight (they get an action even if they have a reaction marker on them and are suppressed).

The Battle Squads will be joined together in order to form that 11-man, 5 machinegun squad (their commissar has a machinegun too) and the rocket launcher armed commissar will either join the Rifle Squad or the Sniper Team. Either unit has its own advantages and disadvantages, so he may float around until I come to a decision as to where he'll be the most effective.

Of course, I ultimately want to remove the rocket launcher commissar as well as the Airborne Transport in favor of a MIL MI-47 Attack Helicopter (D variant- I like the idea of dropping all those bombs it has). The transport chopper just doesn't really fit into what I'd been planning for the army, so the aggressive, anti-armor stance the helicopter brings to the table is most welcome. I've already come up with some fun ways to use the way the bomb rules work. This is a while out, however, as the mini for the unit is still being manufactured, let alone packaged, shipped to America, and distributed to retailers.

This is all still a pipe dream, however, as I don't even have my second Battle Squad and Close Combat Squad yet.

I do have some units fully painted now, so I'll be posting them soonish. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

2,500 Point Skaven- Tomorrow's Army

Reusing photos, hurrah!
Yesterday I outlined the reasoning behind the thought processes involved in my Skaven army. Today I'll break down what is actually in the army and how it will be deployed and fielded.

Grey Seer w/ Talisman of Preservation, Ironcurse Icon- 290 pts.

Assassin w/ Blade of Corruption, The Other Trickster's Shard- 170 pts.
Chieftain Battle Standard Bearer w/ halberd, The Armor of Destiny- 122 pts.
Warlock Engineer w/ lvl. 2 wizard, Warp-Energy Condenser- 120 pts.
Warlock Engineer w/ warplock pistol, Doomrocket- 53 pts.

60 Clanrats w/ shields, full command; Poisoned Wind Mortar Weapon Team- 355 pts.
40 Clanrats w/ shields, full command; Warpfire Thrower Weapon Team- 270 pts.
40 Skavenslaves- 80 pts.
40 Skavenslaves- 80 pts.

7 Gutter Runners w/ Poisoned Attacks, slings- 126 pts.
6 Rat Ogres; 4 Packmasters- 272 pts.

Hell Pit Abomination- 235 pts.
Hell Pit Abomination- 235 pts.
Warp Lightning Cannon- 90 pts.

The plan is to deploy the Clanrat units centrally, flanked by their weapon teams and then the Skavenslaves. The Rat Ogres will deploy on one flank , and the Abominations on the other. My Warp Lightning Cannon will be dropped in a corner, and the Gutter Runners will deploy in the best possible location to assault enemy war machines.

The Grey Seer and BSB will drop in the 60-strong Clanrats, slightly off-center and toward the Rat Ogres- the plan here is to keep the Ogres in Leadership boost/re-roll territory. The Warlock Engineers will deploy in the 40 strong Clanrats. I'll try to keep the Doomrocket as close to whichever wizard generates Skitterleap as possible, planning on teleporting him onto one of my opponent's flanks. The Assassin (obviously) will start hidden in the Grey Seer/BSB's unit. He's there to pop out and off any serious threats to the army command section's health.

From there the plan is to advance into optimal spellcasting range and begin raining death down on my enemies. I'll try to avoid combat until the last few turns when I should be facing a fairly depleted army. The Skavenslaves will act as tarpist/redirectors, and the Rat Ogres/Hell Pit Abominations the sledgehammers to break up the combats remaining after I dump all the firepower I have into the Skavenslave combats.

The battle plan is fairly straightforward, reliant only on assessing my opponent's biggest strengths and dismantling them.

Now to find out what all this "Hold the Line!" stuff is about...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Skaven Army Construction- 2,500 Points

After my long post yesterday I wanted to show my concepts in action. I pulled out my netbook and opened Army Builder. Clicking away frantically I set about building a Skaven army worthy of my rantings.

My first concern was a solid core of Lords and Heroes. The ever present Grey Seer was the first on the scene. As stated before his utility as general, spellcaster, and attention magnet  all combine to keep the rest of your army a secondary thought (well, after the A-Boms). From there it was a matter of choosing his immediate subordinates.

First up is the ever-present Battle Standard Bearer. This one's a no-brainer, and should be the second mini you reach for in any Skaven army build.

From there it's a matter of spellcasting. You should never leave home without a backup spellcaster, and so I slapped together a competent level 2 Warlock Engineer.

I have a personal favorite dirty trick, that weather your opponent knows it's coming or not can be very useful. slap a Doomrocket on a Warlock Engineer (and a warplock pistol if you have the points) and Skitterleap him across the board onto the flank of the opposing battle line. The effects of this tactic are one of three options:

-Your opponent spends the whole game trying to keep you from Skitterleaping your Engineer across the table, allowing other, potentially more destructive spells through (I've forced a Dreaded Thirteenth through using this tactic).

-Your opponent doesn't see the move coming/doesn't care about the effects, in which case you get to launch the rocket down his flank assured that it's going to hit something on the way across.

-Your opponent overreacts and spreads/staggers his line allowing your sledgehammer units to take him apart one bit at a time.

Any of these options is great, as the model only costs from 45-53 points (depending on the presence of the Warplock Pistol) and can cause all kinds of havoc. Once he's fired off his rocket you can even use him to take pot-shots at artillery, or if he's feeling particularly brave he can gum up charges.

Finally there's the model I only include if I think I have enough points (and as I'm building a 2,500 point army here I do). The "card up my sleeve" if you will. I toss in an Assassin for good measure, as he's great for taking up challenges (or even issuing them) with his high Initiative, Always Strike First, and good number of attacks. With his usual loadout my assassin is Strength 5, doubles wounds he inflicts, and forces enemies to re-roll successful Ward Saves. He's a pretty lethal dude.

Next up you have Core choices. In this department you can never have too many warm bodies. Here I've opted for 182, but you may wish ti go even higher. There's the 60 strong Clanrat regiment with Poisoned Wind Mortar that my Grey Seer and Battle Standard Bearer reside in, my 40 strong Clanrat block with a Warpfire Thrower that my Warlock Engineers run, and two 40 strong blocks of Skavenslaves. The Clanrats provide bunkers for characters and Weapon Teams for adden firepower. The Skavenslaves not only tarpit enemies, but since you can shoot into combats involving only Skavenslaves they set enemies up to be decimated as well.

Now we're on to Special choices. I start with seven Gutter Runners. I don't know why but this seems to be the magic number for them. As discussed in a previous article, they require both slings and Poisoned Attacks. No discussion here.

My next addition is probably my most controversial one. Rat Ogres. Many people will say that they're over costed, under perform, or are too unpredictable (with few ranks they have low Leadership and are more likely to go charging off and leaving your battle line all out of whack). I find all of this (except for the unpredictable part) to be bluster. I have never been disappointed in my Rat Ogres' performance except in the games they don't make it into combat. When they don't get their paws on something It's usually my fault any way. The 21 attacks an unmolested unit of 6 Ogres and 4 Packmasters crank out more than makes up for a little mystery as to what they'll do in the Movement Phase.

Finally, Rares. I start here with two Abominations. In they go, no questions asked. They hit like a ton of bricks when they make it to your enemy's line, and they soak up a ton of firepower when they don't. Your Gutter Runners' first priority should be to silence cannons and any flaming war machines (Dwarf war machines, Screaming Skull Catapults) your opponent has, because without Regeneration these fellows die quickly. With it however, two of them is more than enough to deal a death blow to even an elite unit.

Finally, a Warp Lightning cannon. for its point cost the thing is a bargain. If you get a Strength 10 blast in the middle of your opponent's unit, feel free to give yourself a pat on the back. You've just severely weakened his battle line at that point. Aside from that, it's a cannon. Use it accordingly. Point it at tough, multi-wound stuff and blow it sky-high! Also keep in mind that if you fail to kill a multi-wound monstrous model with a cannon shot, the attack stops there. If the attack stops, the template is placed. What you want here is for the lightning blast to kill the first Ogre, then fail to off the next. Place the template where the shot stops and fry a bunch more!

My next post will have exact numbers and point values of units, but for now I just want to let you in on my thought process. For your entertainment, here's a picture of the army.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Skaven State of Mind

Well, after a devastating loss at Demitra's hands today, I need to refocus my attention onto Friday, when I'll be facing the new Empire army book. My regular WHFB gaming buddy will be dropping by/ having me over (I probably should find out which) and we'll be going toe-to-toe with our armies. This one is going to be special. The army lists are set at 2,500 points, which is a fairly large number. I've been slapping together army lists and I've settled on one. The list is a touch more aggressive than the last one I fielded in preparation for the tournament I was supposed to go to, but blew of in favor of going to a brewfest. After seeing the traffic on Google and sampling the wares at the festival I must say I made the right call.

So it's back to pondering lists. I won't post the army yet, just some notes I've gleaned.

1) Plague Monks are trash. Seriously, they didn't even come close to winning a single combat. They may be devastating the turn you set off the Plague Banner, but that's just a single round of combat. The rest of the time they're relying on volume of attacks to get them through combat. That works fine for Witch Elves with their Poisoned Attacks, but not so much for my little rats.

2) Don't rely on your artillery. I had a fair amount of shooting in my last list (I do in my current list as well), but Warhammer Fantasy is won and lost in melee. If you can't cut it up close and personal you will lose games, pure and simple. If you aren't ready for the Close Combat Phase and your artillery goes up in flames, you're in deep, deep trouble.

3) Rat Ogres are unpredictable. It's hard to keep them in check when they're Frenzied on Leadership 7 (provided they're near the general). Failing to keep them in line results in them charging after something worthless the whole game, and while they're glorious once they get their big, meaty paws on something, they're not worth squat being kited around by fast, cheap stuff.

4) Your Grey Seer is your lifeblood. There's a reason I keep my command section (Grey Seer and Battle Standard) together in my biggest block is twofold. First, we have... poor Leadership. Without the General and Battle Standard's presence we're totally out of the game. The second reason is simpler. Your Grey Seer is your best utility piece on the board. He casts, he dispels, he channels. Skaven magic, in particular the Dreaded Thirteenth, is pretty potent. It's not as nasty as, say, the lores in the rulebook, but they were designed without the caster being able to add his level to the attempt in mind. This (arguably) makes them easier to cast than they should be. With that in mind, you can ratchet up their lores (and really, you should ever pick your spells from the Lore of Ruin) a bit on the power curve.

5) Warlock Engineers are amazing. They're 15 points each, and they can either be built as spellcasting or fighting characters. Sure you could do both, but then they'd be expensive and they wouldn't really be good at either role. A Warlock Engineer with either a Warp Energy Condenser and Level 2 spellcasting will get the job done at range. One with a Doomrocket and (if you have points left over) a Warplock Pistol is great at backfield harassment. Shoot, for 15 points you could keep them bare-bones and just Skitterleap them at your opponent's line to stop them from charging. It's cruel and a nasty ploy, but never forget, you're a Skaven General. It's a great reason to try out all kinds of despicable tactics (as long as you're not cheating, of course).

6) Clan Eshin? Yes please. With oodles of nasty shooting from slings with Poisoned Attacks, Gutter Runners are your premier war machine hunters. You don't even have to get into grips with them to destroy them. Just hit the offending machine with a hail of poisoned rocks and watch it vanish! Oh, don't forget assassins. Pesky challenges getting you down? just accept with your hidden assassin and tear apart the enemy character. My personal favorite loadout is the Blade of Corruption and The Other Trickster's Shard, but an argument can be made for an Ogre Blade and a Potion of Strength.

7) Soften them up. You have magic, Warp Lightning Cannons, and Weapon Teams for a reason. Cripple (or better yet eliminate) big threats as they close with you. Didn't I just say not to rely on your shooting? Yes, but you need to thin your enemy out on their way in. If the enemy closes with you unharmed, your less than stellar fighting ability will show. Be ready to get your paws dirty in melee, just don't fight intact enemies.

8) Abominations are your melee masters. If you're going to play Skaven, you're pretty much buying at least one (in big games two) of these puppies. The way they move and fight can be very confusing to your opponent, not to mention that it can get him around situations that would otherwise roadblock another unit. Just point, click, and roll dice with this bad boy. Not to say that this model is an auto-win. Not by a long shot. Anything with high strength and Flaming Attacks (Black Orcs with the Banner of Eternal Flame and cannons with The Flaming Sword of Rhun are my most top of mind examples) will take away this model's survivability very quickly. This model relies on its above average Toughness, large number of Wounds, and most importantly Regeneration special rule to stay in the game. One well placed Flaming cannonball can turn this as much as 250 point monster into a smoldering heap in one shot.

In the end, it all comes down to one thing- your whole army has to work in harmony from the list writing stage to the tabletop. If your army doesn't hum, you'll know it. No true Warhammer General is truly ever done tweaking and re-tweaking his list. Hopefully I'll have tweaked my list to pull out a win over the forthcoming man-things this Friday. We'll see.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Two Armies Near Completion

That's right, it's just a matter of time. I've nearly completed two armies, and it just feels so good!

Note the "Coming Attractions" sidebar. It's gotten quite a bit smaller. At least until I get that SSU stuff, any way. I'm getting closer and closer to the finish line as far as my Dark Eldar and Space Wolves are concerned. Now I'm at the mercy of the weather as far as matte varnishing the minis is concerned. Monday will see me cracking down and putting the brush back to that last eyesore Raider. You see it there. The one that's still mostly primer. The one I kind of highlighted there. It's driving me nuts, all sitting there in my display case mocking me. It will be put in its place! I will make it pretty!

...Then there's the matter of the Splinter Cannon armed Trueborn. Those three jokers aren't even primed yet. No, I must focus on one effort at a time!

The above army was fielded against Demitra on Tuesday. While it still has the Blaster armed Trueborn, I did drop the Splinterborn, a unit of Kabalite Warriors, and a Venom from the list in order to accommodate an Archon and her Incubus bodyguard. They performed somewhat under par, charging a Blood Angel Tactical Squad and getting wiped out (well, except the Archon- she failed her first Shadowfield save and then annihilated the unit) to a man. All in all this proved to be the most entertaining game Demitra and I played with me using my Dark Eldar.

As far as actual painting progress is concerned, Behold! Today was dedicated to painting up my Land Raider Crusader. It started the day basecoated and washed, and hopefully it'll be dullcoted soon enough.

I also painted up my Wolf Priest, two Lone Wolves, and got a touch further on my Grey Hunters. You'll have to wait to see them though, as I have company coming over soonish.

Now, back to sweeping...


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Njal & Co.

They need some love.
Well, I know some of my readership just isn't fond of army lists, so feel free to skip this post.

My Space Wolves have sat in their box for too long! In particular these fellows, who have been painted but never fielded. This is because the interwebz say Wolf Guard Terminators are just way too expensive. I threw together an army list, and boy am I inclined to agree. I'll show you in a few minutes, but first my thinking.

Demitra and I have been attempting to "break the mold" of "internet wisdom". This is to say we've been re-tweaking our army lists and putting stuff in them we just plain want to field, rather than what we "should" field. I've had a squad of Space Wolf Terminators sitting in my figure case for who knows how long, and they need to come out and play. As I'm without any real "need to paint" minis, I'll whip out my Land Raider Crusader that's been sitting half-finished in my gaming closet ever since I bought this army. Should I finish that, my Wolf Priest and even my last Grey Hunter squad will feel the sweet caress of the paintbrush soon too. I'm going to try to un-burn-out myself on these fellows, since it's really a shame to leave them half finished in my case.

Any way, here's what I'm thinking:

Njal Stormcaller w/ Terminator Armor- 270 pts.
Wolf Priest w/ Meltabombs, Wolftooth Necklace- 115 pts.

Wolf Guard Pack;
-4x w/ Terminator Armor, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield- 252 pts. (OUCH!)
-1 w/ Terminator Armor, Chainfist, Heavy Flamer- 53 pts. (OUCH AGAIN!)
-Land Raider Crusader w/ Multi-Melta- 260 pts. (TRIPLE OUCH!!!)

9x Grey Hunters w/ Meltagun, Mark of the Wulfen; Rhino- 200 pts.
5x Grey Hunters w/ Meltagun; Razorback w/ Lascannon & twin-linked Plasmagun- 155 pts.
5x Grey Hunters w/ Meltagun; Razorback w/ Lascannon & twin-linked Plasmagun- 155 pts.
5x Grey Hunters w/ Meltagun; Razorback w/ twin-linked Lascannon- 155 pts.
5x Grey Hunters w/ Meltagun; Razorback w/ twin-linked Lascannon- 155 pts.

Long Fangs;
-Pack Leader
-4x Long Fangs w/ Missile Launcher
115 pts.
Long Fangs;
-Pack Leader
-4x Long Fangs w/ Missile Launcher
115 pts.

2,000 pts.

Okay, Njal goes with the Wolf Guard Terminators and the Wolf Priest goes in with the big pack of Grey Hunters. These are my hammer units. The other four Grey Hunter packs are there to grab objectives and lend close-in fire support.

That Wolf Guard Terminator pack had better hit like a ton of bricks, because if not that's 835 points just standing there picking its nose (or worse, getting massacred by Death Company). That, my friends, is why the Internet says that the unit is too expensive. I guess I'll see on Tuesday, huh?

SSU Just In Time

Just a touch of cheesecake.
Yesterday I made a most alarming / shocking / happy discovery. The SSU book is on its way to distributors as I type! This changes things a bit more than slightly.

I plan on buying into the SSU rather than the Allies. This was the original faction I fell in love with (since Demitra laid claim to the Axis) due to their walkers as well as the fact that they're the second most evil faction out there. I mean, let's face it, Stalin wasn't a really great guy. Why do I like the bad guys? That's a question best left to a therapist I suppose. (^_^)

This means my plans for purchasing a Dust army are on hold for a while. I'm going to need to pour through Campaign Book Zverograd for a while studying up on the SSU's strengths and weaknesses. I'm going to need to sell a few more useless college books. I'd really like to sell off my Skorne. If you know anybody who'd like these guys for the low, low price of $70, let me know. Back on topic; I need patience now. This is something in short supply for me, as I've run out of stuff I want to paint. I could finish that stuff over there under Coming Attractions, but I've burned myself out on them. I need something to break up these projects. This was supposed to be my Quar, but they arrived sans a piece, and it takes forever for Zombiesmith to ship stuff, so they're a no-go for now. My Kabuki models showed up a while ago and I painted them, but they're a little NSFW (and I try to keep this blog family friendly), so you won't be seeing them.

In Soviet Russia, party finds you!

At least the book came out before I placed my order, right? I'd be a bit irked if I had placed my Allies order before then, so thank goodness for small miracles. Now back to the ol' waiting game.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Prelude To Dust

Demitra and I are about to take the plunge into Dust Warfare. Well, I am any way. My order will go out on Friday and will consist of; 1 box of Corps Officers, 3 boxes of Grim Reapers, the Allies character box, 3 boxes of Red Devils, a sniper/observer team box, and 2 LAW (Light Assault Walker) boxes. The idea is to build a 300 point army quickly so I can game with it while I paint it. I've joined the Ordo NOVA board as well as the local Dust mailing list. I'm lookin' to jump into this game with both feet. That plus free shipping.

Demitra, on the other hand, is more hesitant. He wants to start with less stuff so he can buy in more slowly. I can understand this point of view.

I myself have fallen in love with the game (on paper) and I'm hoping to get in some (at least semi) regular games. I'm not looking for something every week, just something to blow off some steam every now and again. Since the regular night for the game is Tuesday (while I'm here at work) I'll be needing to schedule games with people over the message board or mailing list. While this poses some problems, hopefully they're minor.

The reason for my passion for the game is simple- the game is simple. As somebody coming from a Hordesmachine, 40k, and Infinity background this is refreshing. The core mechanics are solid, and the special abilities units have aren't things that bend and break the rules left and right. The core of the game remains intact, and this is a very good thing. Does the game have markers and states to keep track of? Yes. Are ten billion markers needed to monitor the various states? No. This game does have its share of markers, but not a ton of little personalized ones like in say, Hordesmachine.

There's another bonus- I love the morale system. You can see a squad's combat effectiveness gradually ebb away until they break. This is a very refreshing change from things like the GW system where you never know when a unit will run screaming from the board. Command sections can issue orders that get a broken unit back in the fight, and that again adds a wonderful degree of predictability to the morale system. I do fear this system, however. My units are small, meaning their morale drops rapidly. They're tough as nails however, and my Grim Reapers are highly mobile, which hopefully means I'll be dictating where the fight happens.

Weapon ranges are my next point. They're relatively short (between 40k and Hordesmachine) and you can pre-measure them, which again adds a degree of predictability. The short ranges offer an advantage over games like Infinity where not only can you not pre-measure (I guess all that targeting equipment is just for show) but the ranges on weapons are so long that the game often rewards you for standing still and shooting things as they come to you. On boards without enough terrain (and Infinity calls for a TON of terrain) this turns the game into a shooting gallery where every time a model tries to change its position it gets shot to death by weapons fire. Shorter ranges encourage movement and maneuver, and this makes the game more tactically challenging. Can stuff in Dust hang back and pound away? Yes, but those weapons are very few and far between.

Then we come to reactions. This is the bread and butter of this system. Sure, Infinity has the ARO system, but being able to react to every last thing you see happening on the battlefield is not only unrealistic, it's absurd. In Dust a unit gets to react to a single enemy action that happens within a set distance of them. This tones down the "defense is king" mentality so prevalent in Infinity (again, where there is not enough terrain). There is also the possibility for harassing fire in the game, as long as you stay outside the reaction range. This allows you to pin down key enemy units with longer range fire while other elements advance. Then choices have to be made. React to unit X? React to unit Y? Wait and see what comes of their advance? Choices abound in this game, and that's also very cool.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on Hordesmachine, Infinity, or 40k, just pointing out what are, in my opinion, flaws with their systems. Dust has them too. The miniatures come pre-primed, which in itself is okay. The but attached to that statement is this- what about mold lines? What are you supposed to do if the model needs to be cleaned up? prime over the primer? In the same vein, the miniatures already have their decals on them, and if you want to do any real painting you'll be covering them up. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there doesn't appear to be a way to get your hands on more decals to replace the ones that got painted over.

Then there's the weapon statistics. Models are rated in classes- Infantry 1-4, Vehicle 1-7, and Aircraft 1-3. Every weapon has a profile for each and every one of these fourteen classifications. That's a lot to remember / write down / memorize.

Finally, there's the issue of special rules. They're scattered all over the book. Luckily the miniature that has said special rule usually has a page reference so you know where to turn to to find a given ability, but not so with weapons. They're clustered together in their relevant sections. The Allies' weapons are part way into their section, and the Axis ones are a few pages into theirs. This calls for some aimless flipping through the book. It's probably my biggest annoyance with the system.

Well, there you have it. My initial thoughts and pre-game review of the system. Hopefully my stuff will arrive soon (after I place my order I mean) and I can get to painting. I've got some idead I've been kicking around, and I wonder which will win. We will see.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wait, What? A Battle Report?

Well, my usual long period of silence has been broken again. This time I'm trying something that both Demitra and I have been slacking on, chronicling our weekly game of... well it's mostly been 40k. This report pits our arch nemesis, the Blood Angels and Plague Marines against one another. You may notice that our lists are a bit... sub-optimal. This is because we've been getting tired of running the same armies headlong into one another (or simply having my Dark Eldar kite the Blood Angels around the table) so we broke things up a bit by running some random stuff we like but never really try out. In my case Typhus and mt Terminator Chaos Lord, in Demitra's case, well, just about everything.

I'm not going to post our army lists here as that doesn't really make for good reading. What I will say is that upon review (I was making up a reference sheet so Demitra doesn't have to run to his Codex every 30 seconds to check something) Army Builder said that Demitra's army only came to 1,910 points, while mine was 2,000 points. Whoopsie! Of course Army Builder could be wrong (it wouldn't be the first time), but since I don't have the Blood Angels' book, I just don't know for sure.

Note: We're still playing 5th ed. 40k, as neither of us really wants to plunk down $75 for a rulebook when that's the cost of most of a Dust Warfare army.

The first thing I did was assemble the board, then I pulled out an assortment of terrain. You may notice that a lot of this terrain has appeared in recent articles here. That's mainly because I've spent a good amount of time and effort on the stuff, and I want to use it.

That's right, 25% terrain just like the book says.

Once Demitra arrived we set about placing the features on the board. I had made sure to place an even number of terrain items to choose from since I really like the idea after reading it in the Dust rulebook. It helps to make sure neither player really gets the advantage of placing more items on the board.

From there we generated the scenario. I forget what it's called, and I'm too lazy to go get my rulebook right now, but the scenario was the one with two objectives, and the deployment was everybody's favorite- Dawn of War! Thus, the above picture not only serves to demonstrate the terrain layout, it also shows our deployment.

Turn one saw my forces rolling onto the board. Not too much to say here, my plan was to drive an armored wedge up the center with my Land Raiders screening my Rhinos, but as they say (and you will see) no plan ever survives contact with the enemy.

Demitra's response war to use his Predator to screen his Land Raider (?!?) and to send an outflanking force of... every thing else around to my right.

My bright idea was to send Typhus' Land Raider unsupported up the middle toward Mephiston and into the teeth of the Blood Angel army. My Rhinos cut around left to deliver their Meltaguns into a position where they could attack the Predator and the Land Raider. I hoped they would be screened by the Land Raider and then the woods as they approached.

See that little red thingy on top of the Land Raider in the next picture? That's a little flame marker I use to denote destroyed vehicles. That's what happens when a Demolisher Cannon lands bang on target. Typhus' squad got shot up, and they were relegated to standing out in the open and waiting for their impending demise. Great move, EV.

Trying to make lemonade out of the lemons I had so cleverly created, I sent Typhus rushing up the center toward the only redeeming thing he could do- rushing the exposed Assault Squad. The plan now shifted (great idea to change plans mid-stream, I know) to eliminating the two scoring units in Demitra's army, forcing him to fight for a draw. Typhus did not disappoint, as he rushed the squad and scythed down several Blood Angels. My Power Fist armed Plague Champion also did his share of lifting, leaving the Plague Marines winning combat by a hefty margin. The Assault Squad miraculously did not run, and Typhus remained safe from shooting.

...But not safe from Mephiston. The vampire came rushing toward Typhus, increased his Strength to 10, and caused my mighty Plague Lord to go splat. The Attack Bike ran around behind my Rhino that was squatting on my objective, fired off its Multi Melta, and missed. The Assault Squad on my right was now getting uncomfortably close to the Rhino as well, and had to be dealt with. Aside from that, the Blood Angel turn was largely uneventful.

The Great Unclean One decided that this was the turn to make his entry, and erupted from the rear Rhino. My remaining Chaos Lord rushed back around to kill off the Assault Squad that threatened to kill of my objective squatters. The Unclean One and one Rhino moved into the woods.I was preparing for the inevitable Death Company charge, and an amassed counter attack was all that could really save me. The Death Company weren't scoring though, and so every ranged weapon I had fired on the left hand Assault Squad. The first of my two targets was eliminated. The second Assault Squad was ploughed into by the Chaos Lord's unit. The Blood Angels were again defeated in melee, and this time they fled. My Chaos Lord and his squad were now exposed, and there was a Demolisher Cannon parked right around the corner. Also, note the little red arrow in the image below. This is Mephiston's heroic hiding spot.

Of course, Mephiston wouldn't hide forever. He leapt from cover and headed toward my Great Unclean One. Since Summoned Greater Daemons aren't Eternal Warriors Mephy was intent on using his Force Sword to banish Fatty back to the Warp. Everything on the right opened fire on the Chaos Lord and his bodyguard. Everything on the left opened up on the Rhino in the forest. Both were destroyed. The Chaos Lord stood heroically against the forthcoming charge of the Blood Angels while the Plague Marines (now in a crater rather than an APC) cowered in the face of the Death Company. The crazed Marines in black armor utterly destroyed their opponents in close combat and advanced. The Chaos Lord however, he fought on like a champ. Managing to scythe down four of the six charging Assault Marines, he prepared to eliminate the last scoring Blood Angel squad.

Oh, and Mephiston. He upped his strength to 10, rushed toward the imposing bulk of the Greater Daemon, and...

Wait for it...

Missed with every single attack! Seizing the opportunity, the massive daemon slammed his sword into the Blood Angel hero. The vampire stood his ground and passed all of his No Retreat wound saves. This was surely an unexpected turn of events!

See that arrow? That's important.

My Meltagun armed Plague Marine squad disembarked. My Land Raider returned to the top of the hill. Then the Rhino decided to Tank Shock the Death Company in order to keep them away from the Great Unclean One. In the frenzy endowed by his genetic defect the Powerfist armed Death Company marine chose Death or Glory! His mighty swing connected, and the Rhino was destroyed. The Plague Marines opened fire on the Godhammer Land Raider and only managed to shake it, My Land Raider fared much better, immobilizing the Lascannon Predator. A salvo of Plasmagun fire destroyed the Blood Angel Attack Bike. The Terminator armored Chaos Lord finished off the final Assault Marine on the table, and was wounded by the Sanguinary High Priest for his troubles.

The titanic battle between Mephiston and the Great Unclean One continued to rage. This time the Lord of Death lashed out with his sword, and inflicted four wounds on the hulking monstrosity. I picked up my dice and prayed to Papa Nurgle. I tossed the "cubes of fate" onto the table.

FOUR SAVES!!! Mephiston had met his match in this behemoth and was promptly torn apart by the gleeful daemon.

A sudden complete lack of vampires.

 The titanic ball of filth's elation would be short lived, however. The Death Company surged forward and rushed fearlessly into combat with the monster. The Baal Predator roared forward and fired all of its guns into the Rhino, achieving nothing. The Vindicator "climbed" the Land Raider wreckage in front of it and attempted to shell the remaining Land Raider, missing completely. The Sanguinary High Priest was easily offed by the Chaos Lord's Lightning Claws. The Death Company however? That's a different story. Before he even knew what hit him the avatar of Nurgle was banished back to the aether. The Death Company swung back around and turned their sights on the Plague Marines harassing their transport.

Turns were getting short at this point, and thus these paragraphs are as well. My Rhino ridin' Plague Marines assailed the Baal Predator with their Plasmaguns, doing nothing. The Plague Marines near the Land Raider rapid fired their Bolters into the Death Company. The Land Raider joined in the fun detonating the ammo stores of the Vindicator with its twin-linked Lascannons. The berserk marines were not thinned out as much as I had hoped, but one thing had come of this turn- The Death Company were distracted by the Plague Marines and would remain stranded on the far side of the battlefield for the remainder of the game.

This would prove to be the final turn of the game. The Baal Predator swung around behind the Rhino that was securing my objective. It unloaded all of its guns into the machine's rear armor, and the APC exploded into a thousand pieces. After the smoke cleared, however, the entire squad emerged from the wreckage intact. With a hateful roar the Death Company surged toward the remaining Plague Marines. The foot soldiers of the Plague God were torn asunder under the hateful blows of the now completely insane Marines. This would prove to be the final act of violence in a bloody game.

The final tally of the game left me in possession of my objective. A totally undeserved win for the forces of Chaos.

I learned a lot from this game- mostly basic things I should already know like "don't send your stuff in unsupported". Hopefully next game I'll perform better than this one. Demitra has promised me a new look to his Angels tomorrow, and he's going to see a new look to a hated foe as well. I promised myself I'd use these models when I bought them, and use them I will!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Boards Finished

This is another one that consists more of pictures than text. I just really wanted to throw up pictures of the final product despite the likelihood I'll throw up pictures of the board in use soon.

...And there you have it. Hopefully the Quar will show up in the mail today. I'm starting to get annoyed that they're not here yet. I'll be really annoyed if the minis I bought from Kabuki Models show up before the Zombiesmith order does.