Saturday, June 15, 2019

Glory for the Ironjaws!

  Like I said in the last post- I haven't posted a lot lately because I have a gazillion projects going right now and other commitments that keep me from gaming.  But I haven't been totally absent and finally got a couple of games in that I could post about.

  After a quick game of 40k with my son, my wife got off work and we set up for a 1500 point battle of Age of Sigmar.  She has everything for death ever and a massive love for the Nighthaunt forces, so that was what she wanted to run.  I, of course, brought Ironjaws.

  Her army consisted of a battalion that included Hexwraiths and the Black Coach, for mobility, and another detachment with a ton of Chainrasps with some Guardian of Souls magic for support.  It didn't look terribly mean, but this force is fast and happens to spam some mortal wounds sometimes.  For an elite force like mine, that can end really badly.  

  My force never changes because I only have 1500 points in Ironjaws.  A Megaboss on Mawcrusher (with the artifact that increases his second weapon's damage), a Megaboss on foot, a Warchanter, a Warcaster, some 'Ardboys, a couple of  units of Brutes, and a few Gore-gruntas all make up this force and even gets me an extra command point for being so few points.  It's elite, but it hits hard!  Plus, the army's Allegiance traits are ridiculous, and that helps...

The battlefield
  My wife loves the terrain aspect of the game and set up the table.  With realism in mind (in a game world where realism is an ideal and not at all a reality), she set up an ancient site with ruins of unknowable origins scattered about.  This meant that the battlefield would have some cover (even though neither of our armies have ranged attacks) and there would be 'corridors' that forces would have to move through. 

  The battleplan was "Gifts from the Heavens".  This means that each army gets an objective that randomly appears somewhere in their deployment zone starting their Turn 2.  Each turn after that of holding those objectives gets you points and the player with the most points wins.  Simple and random.  

  My army was deployed in a line, with the Maw-crusher holding the center and the Brutes rallied around him.  The Gore-gruntas were out on the flank with the plan to scout around and possibly take the objective if it appears on the far side of the battlefield.  The 'Ardboyz were deployed on the other flank with the idea to protect it.  

  Her army deployed with her speed in mind.  The Chainrasps held the flank and the cavalry made up the center for a spearhead.  Her Black Coach anchored the strong side next to the tower and supported the battalion's riders.  More Chainrasps remained in the other realm and the plan was to pressure the Orcs quickly and hold objectives when they appeared.  

Battle Round 1
  Since the Ironjaws were deployed first, they chose to let the ghostly legion take the initiative in the first round.  With that, the army glided forward as much as it could and awaited the enemy's move.  The second unit of Chainrasps appeared in front of the 'Ardboyz to tarpit that flank in case the greenskins got brave.  Now it was just the waiting game...
End Nighthaunt Turn 1

  As soon as the Nighthaunt forces paused, the Maw-crusher bellowed and charged into the nearest unit of Hexwraiths and the Black Coach.  With the force of a mountain, the beast and his rider dispatched four of the cavalry models, leaving one behind, and wounded the Coachmaster before suffering some minor damage in return.  Unfortunately, none of the abilities of the Ironjaws or Maw-crusher itself were triggered.  Despite the disappointment, the 'Arboyz followed and charged into the newly-arrived Chainrasps and killed all but one of them.  Again, it was disappointing because the special army rules don't trigger.  It was also scary because undead have a frustrating habit of returning hordes of slain models and making life very difficult...  
  Other parts of the force simply advanced as they were planned.  The Gore-gruntas took a wide approach to avoid the Black Coach and head for that table quarter, while the Brutes slowly moved to be able to react.  It was exciting, but not yet the crescendo of the might Ironjaws' attack.  
End Ironjaws Turn 1
Battle Round 2

  With the all-important priority roll for the second Battle Round, the Nighthaunt were very happy to be able to go first and established an early lead.  The objective, er, meteor descended and appeared on her right flank, behind the tower and within reach of some of her cavalry.  Unfortunately, the magic wasn't very strong for the ghosts yet and their resurrections were minimal.  Despite that, the rest of the Chainrasps positioned themselves to further tarpit the orcs' on that flank, and a second unit of Hexwraiths came in to support their buddies and the Black Coach.  
  And that charge was devastating.  Between mortal wounds and piercing lances, the Mega-boss on Maw-crusher was instantly devastated.  The damage caused on the way out was negligible and the center of the line was irrefutably under the control of the undead.  
End Nighthaunt Turn 2

  The Ironjaws weren't easy to intimidate and pressed their attack even harder, even as their meteor objective descended on their right flank.  Despite the Megaboss on beast falling, there was still another Megaboss to direct the attack.  Brutes were buffed and attacked the Chainrasp horde from the rear, disrupting their cunning plan and allowing the 'Ardboyz to finish the first horde.  This opened a direct line to the Guardian of Souls and the orcs were thirsting for exactly that kind of glory. 
  Strategically, this distraction allowed the Gore-gruntas to sneak around and attack the cavalry holding the objective, causing enough casualties to take control.  This also allowed the other unit of Brutes to sneak around, planning to lend support, but they became too frenzied and turned to charge the Black Coach.  This would keep the massive vehicle still for long enough to give the rest of the greenskins time to do what they had to do. 
End Ironjaws Turn 2
With control of both objectives, the Ironjaws scored more points and took the lead. 

Battle Round 3

  Gorkamorka was definitely paying attention to this army and gave them the priority.  At this crucial point in the game, having back-to-back turns can be the deciding factor, and it certainly looks that way for this battle.   The Brutes fighting the coach simply retreated towards the objective and the rear of the cavalry that had just caused enough damage to take their meteoric objective back.  They couldn't charge... yet.  The Brutes on the other side of the battlefield finished off the Chainrasp horde and took control of that side.  Unfortunately, the rest of that line couldn't get to the Guardian of Souls but there was more then enough to guarantee his destruction by this point.  The Warcaster maintained control of the orcs' objective, at least keeping them in the lead for now.  
End Ironjaws Turn 3

  The undead were not to be denied.  The Guardian of Souls stole the initiative and jumped the Megaboss, hoping to cut the warleader down.  The resilience of the Megaboss is amazing and he suffered very little, but the caster didn't suffer much damage in return.  Surrounded, the undead general's goal was now to hold up the enemy as long as he could.  
  Meanwhile, trying to use cunning and sneak around the distracted greenskins, the Hexwraits tried to rush towards the enemy objective.  Unfortunately, they caught the attention of the Warchanter, who then tied them up and called for help.  This was a key mistake in the Nighthaunt strategy.  The Black Coach, appalled at the developments in the battle, was paralyzed and couldn't decide which way to support its forces.  This was the key mistake that cost the undead the battle.  Unable to score any more points, the Nighthaunt force finished their turn two points behind.  
End Nighthaunt Turn 3

Battle Round 4
  This turn was heavily discussed.  Here's the weird part- if she wins the roll for priority, the undead will lose.  If she loses priority, there is still a decent chance of pulling out a victory.  The reason for this ironic pairing was based on the order of casualties.  Is the Ironjaws go first, they have to kill those models they are in contact with and effectively lose their turn, when then the Nighthaunt army gets to react and snatch points.  But if the ghosts go first, then they have to retreat and give the orcs the ability to do what they want during their turn, effectively wiping out all the undead forces.  
  So this was an important roll-  And the Ironjaws won!  That meant that the game could go on with some hope...

  The Ironjaws were already in their favorite position- in combat or about to be.  The Ironjaws running from the Black Coach charged the cavalry and immediately slaughtered their way to control, while the Warchanter held up the Hexwraiths and allowed his allies to reposition and guarantee control of the objective.  This immediately jumped the Ironjaws ahead by so many points that even a perfect game could only lead to a tie due to lack of forces. 
End Ironjaws Turn 4

    With that, we ended the game with an Ironjaws victory!  The scenario is an absolute blast and I still like the size of the battles.  But we did come to some conclusions from this game-

1.  It's all about the moral victory of killing the Maw-crusher so easily.  That scary beast has the ability to wreck entire days and the Nighthaunt proved that they shouldn't be worried about it anymore.

2.  The single most powerful rule in Age of Sigmar is the random priority each turn.  No matter how many games we play, we find that the winner and loser of that single roll matters more than movement oftentimes. 

3.  The Nighthaunt army isn't as resilient as the Legions of Nagash.  While they have invulnerable saves and the 6+ FNP, they are still less wounds and some units don't even have a good save.  Chainrasp hordes only have a 5+ invuln and one wound each.  Without the amazing resurrection rules of the Legions, there are so many more models lost and so many less models recovered.  However, this army can cause a lot of mortal wounds if built correctly.  I think that Nighthaunt might be a glass cannon force.

  All that being said- it was a great game!  My wife loves AoS and all this game did was fuel her need for revenge and another game.  Oh boy...

Happy Gaming!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Glory for the Heretics!

  It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted- sorry about that.  Lots of stuff going on all at the same time.  I started working on my Chaos Marines, but then Necromunda terrain got involved, just in time for a commission project to arrive in the mail.  More on those later.

  It's been quite a bit of work lately, and I haven't been able to push my dollies and throw the cruel cubes of probability...  I missed it.  While the family and I have squeezed in a couple of board games (like Batman: GCC), my son and I were itching to get some 40k on.  Better, my wife was begging for some Age of Sigmar!  I think I can make these happen...

  Yesterday, we played our games. My son brought out his Dark Angels to battle my Chaos Marines first.  Lately, his streak of losses has been getting longer.  His force typically relies on Devastators and rerolls and we play Maelstrom missions, meaning that the cards can be absolutely vicious and determine the winner more than they should.  So we decided to play an Eternal War mission and to change up his forces a bit. 

The battlefield

  We found a neat little app in the Play Store that randomizes missions and decided to take advantage of it.  We made sure to choose the Chapter Approved 2018 tab and pressed the button...  And it gave us the mission "No Mercy".  Kill Points.  Hmmm...  

  This was going to be interesting because the adjustments that we made to his Dark Angels was including more and faster units so he could actually claim some objectives.  And the first mission we get is Kill Points.  Oh goody.  

  While my Chaos Marines haven't changed from what I'm going to paint up when I'm done with this commission project, his Dark Angels are quite a bit different.  He brought Scouts to make up the troops in his Battalion, Azrael to buff his Devastators- now each including Missile Launchers and Heavy Bolters to take advantage of the strategems, and a bunch of bikes.  Three-mans with plasma guns and Black Knights equals a lot of speed and dakka.  And then he brought the flyer that loves doing mortal wounds...  
  My army has a couple of huge blobs of heretics- either Marines or Possessed (and a Greater Possessed to buff them).  Otherwise, the firepower is taken care of with Autocannon-Havocs and a heavy weapon tossed into some small units.  The pressure is from Heldrakes and deep-striking Obliterators, and it's all led by Huron, a Daemon Prince, and a Sorcerer.  Not too many units so not much to score in a Kill Point scenario, while the Dark Angels have a ton of Kill Points to give away.  

  The Dark Angels placed their firebase in a building for cover and covering fire, formed a hammer of characters and Scouts around the Dreadnought, and scattered bikes on the flanks and in counter position.  The flyer set up to directly attack the mobs of heretics and make them pay.

  The Chaos marines were worried about the snipers deployed in tall ruins and the huge amount of mobility they were facing.  The Dark Angels could quickly pen-in and slaughter their forces if they didn't get the initiative.  With that, all marines were deployed in ruins or cover with heavy weapons taking the highest points they could.  By being on upper levels, the bikes couldn't get to them and could have to rely on shooting.  All characters were completely hidden from the view of the snipers, which really limited their impact on the strategy.  Finally, the two Heldrakes were deployed with the express purpose of killing snipers and flyers so the characters could come out.  Either this strategy works or the Chaos forces will be 'walking in the rain'.  

First Battle Round
  By the glory of the gods and antiquated rules, I finished deploying my smaller army first and got to choose first turn.  The Dark Angels felt too confident and didn't attempt to Seize, for which Chaos took full advantage...

  Having a strategy, the Heldrakes launched forward and immediately engaged their targets.  On one end of the street, the flying beast unleashed his balefire into the ruins and killed three of the Scouts and then charged into some Black Knights in the alley.  Suffering a little damage, he managed to destroy one of the bikers and wound another.  The other end of the street had a balefire blast as well into the buildings, immolating a Devastator, and then the beast charging into the flyer.  With damage from the Lascannon, Missile Launcher, and four Autocannons from the Chaos lines, the loyalist flyer was in no shape to survive that daemonic onslaught and fell from the sky.  While the furious assault took place, the hordes on the ground rushed forward as fast as they could, with the Daemon Prince even hiding from the snipers despite his mighty form.
Chaos Turn 1
  The Dark Angels were not simply going to let the Chaos marines roll over them.  With deft movement of the Ravenwing detachment and the march of the baby-'Deathstar' in the middle, a trap was set to begin decimating heretics.  The Black Knights, having just lost one of their own, retreated from the Heldrake and let the rest of the bikers' firepower finish it off.  The Devastators took aim at the advancing hordes below and the Heldrake flying by, managing to wound the Heldrake and kill on Chaos Marine.  With their firepower spent and the need to kill at least the other Heldrake, the second unit of Black Knights and another unit of bikers tried to charge the beast.  Into flames they rode and didn't survive- one squad completely incinerated with another surviving long enough to get ripped apart by the daemonic claws.  It did not seem that the Dark Angels' strategy would hold for long!

Dark Angels Turn 1
  The end of the Battle Round saw the Chaos marines with 3 kills (flyer and two bike units) and First Blood, while the Dark Angels only had one kill (a Heldrake, and we weren't using 'First Strike'). 

Battle Round 2
  With the snipers mostly neutralized, the Chaos characters were emboldened and ordered the army forward.  The Daemon Prince and his mob of Chaos Marines rounded the corner and faced the core of the loyalist line.  With a roar of bolter and plasma gun fire, the mob wiped out one of the Devastator squads sheltering in ruins.  With an equal roar, the Daemon Prince let lose with his Warp Bolter and slew a Scout in preparation to charge and wipe the rest out.  The surviving Heldrake flew into the block and sent balefire into the ruins, killing another sniper, and prepared to charge a unit of Scouts on the ground.  Possessed, curious and anxious to fight, rounded the other end of the block and prepared to rampage through at least two units of bikers.  And to make the entire situation even more hopeless- a flash of light saw Obliterators appearing behind the lines and wiping out the last big unit of bikes. 

Chaos Turn 2

  That was it- Azrael called the retreat and the Dark Angels conceded the battle.  With a final score of 5-1 and very probably 9-2 at the end of Round 2, the outcome was a given.  There was just nothing the Dark Angels could do to kill that much and catch up in points.

  Some thoughts- First, it was very nice to have a strategy and then see it executed so perfectly in the first turn.  I cannot remember a game that I played where this is the case, and it was cool.  Especially with an army that isn't 'optimized' in any way.  But this is where the first point comes in- the first turn is too powerful in these old missions!  Being able to choose going first can be a real boon that directly impacts the game and that's where the whole idea of 'alpha strike' comes in.  If he had gotten first turn, I would have been pretty well demolished and it would have been a struggle for me.  I am happy with the modern first-turn rules.

  Second, Kill Points is such an unfair condition in ways.  It accentuates the 'alpha strike' mentality and really unbalances things to one army over another.  For example- my IG brigade in this mission would never lose if it got first turn and never win if it didn't.  The only army I might want to go second with is Orks, but I'm not sure there either.  My son complained about Objectives a few days ago and I explained this exact problem to him.  It was convenient to see it in practice and demonstrate why Objectives are so necessary to this game.

  Finally, I REALLY LIKE PLAYING THIS LIST!  It's not spammy other than a second Heldrake, it doesn't have anything really good other than a single unit of Obliterators (and that's still 345 points!), and it doesn't rely on crazy specialist detachment rules or anything that requires an analysis out of your oppenents.  It has everything I want- shooting, speed, Smite, and strength.  I think I may have a decent list!

Any good games of 40k lately?  Let me know below!

Friday, May 10, 2019

A battle in the Underhive

  Now that I have everything for this game (except the new Hired Guns just released by FW) and some fantastic terrain to use, it was time to actually play it.  So I recruited my wife and dove into the main box.  We weren't planning on using the 3D terrain yet as I still had to finish building it and we needed to learn the new rules to this game first. 

  The box comes with quite a bit of stuff and is HEAVY.  The fact that I added all the books and expansion board pack didn't help, but even at its basic set the game is not a light game.  The first task was the build the models and we did.  I pulled out the Goliath models and she pulled out the Escher (of course) and we went to town. 

  I'm not going to show off pics of the models and then review them for you- there's plenty of that all over the blogosphere already.  But I will note that the models aren't as customizable as I expect Necromunda models to be.  While not 'monopose', they are very close and have specific bits that are required for specific loadouts.  My wife actually did customize one of her gangers before I explained that we're using the characters from the game, so it's still definitely possible.  But I was surprised at how limited I felt building these.  (That being said, FW makes some great weapon packs that actually replace all the bits with new ones in favor of the new weapon, so it's definitely not an issue to the game.)

  The next task was to read the rules and learn how to play.  This meant using the 'basic rules', which were really basic, in a very small game inside the box.  That's right- inside the game box!  Rules like Injuries and Skills were ignored for the battle and the focus was definitely on the turn mechanics.  Unlike the old game, this version uses Alternating Activation and turn-by-turn Priority.  Then there's the 'Action' mechanic where a character may take up to two actions in their activation, including move, shoot, charge, reload, and even duck for cover, which has limitations and effects on the game.  Overall, a romp around the basic box is probably a good idea before trying out everything else. 

  After easily mastering the basic rules and playing that scenario, we decided to get a real battle going.  So reading the rulebook more (and again- "measure twice, cut once") and pulling out the characters' cards went by and it was finally time to get to scrummin'!  The first scenario in the book is called 'Tunnel Skirmish' and requires four game board sections and each gang to bring six of their choice.  The mission is the typical 'kill 'em all' style, lasting six turns or until one gang bottles out. 

  I should note that the Necromunda game, in its 'board game' format, is actually the Zone Mortalis setting for 40k.  This represents tunnels and corridors inside spaceships and fortresses, but also translates very well into the underbelly of Hive Primus and the gang warfare taking place in the sewers, abandoned hab-domes, and crumbling ductways.  In this version of the game, there are doors that can be operated and line-of-sight issues everywhere. 
It was a take that I wasn't expecting and not looking forward to (remember that I'm an oooooold Necromunda player, used to everything happening in elevation and 3D), but it was still convincing and executed very well.

  The task of choosing our gangs was interesting, because there was no limit.  The player that chose the 'weaker' band received an extra Tactic Card (similar to Strategems in 40k, but no cost and one use only) to compensate.  I chose the Leader, my CC Champion, my CC-focused Ganger, and three more Gangers with stub cannons (Goliath's basic firearm).  They were slow, but they were tough and could put out some pain if close enough.

   My wife chose her Leader, two Champions, a Ganger with autogun, a Ganger with a couple of pistols, and the last one set up for close combat (CC).  They were very fast, had range, and even some template-based attacks that are more than scary.  And poison/toxins everywhere...

  The final task was to setup and play! She won the roll-off and set up her first model, then I set mine up, and back-and-forth until we were done.  All doors were closed and the gangs were ready to sneak about.  Because she won the roll-off, the Escher gang had priority in the first turn...

  The first couple of rounds weren't really exciting.  Both gangs moved up, maybe let off a shot when they saw someone, and consolidated to where they wanted to be.  It was actually quite fun considering the 'mood' around trying to hide behind walls and getting up to doors without alerting the enemy or getting shot at.  I even started making some Alien movie sounds as we went through our turns.

  The end of the second round saw the Goliaths moved into cover or coming out of a corridor nearly on top of the Escher gangers.  Meanwhile, the Eschers had moved up and overloaded on either side to set up the kill zone on the corridor and weight of numbers behind the door.  With a couple of actions, the doors started to slide open and the firefight started!

End Round 2
  Escher won the priority for Round 3 and immediately let loose on every ganger they could see, pinning a couple and severely injuring another.  The chem-thrower even took the CC Champion out of action!  But the Goliaths were not be denied.  Using one of the Tactics Cards, the pinned fighters recovered and responded in kind.  The remaining CC ganger charged into combat and bullied the ladies back.  In support, the Goliath leader fired his plasma pistol and took out the Escher leader with a well-placed shot. 

End Round 3
   The Goliaths won priority for the fourth round and they took advantage of it.  The CC ganger, watching the enemy leader go down, was emboldened and charged the remaining Escher.  With his oversized spanner in one hand and a cleaver in the other, he easily dispatched both opponents and roared in triumph.  Both of the gangers from the corridor got to their feet, blasted one enemy to smithereens, and charged another to finish her off.  The corridor strategy worked!  Under the pressure, the final Escher on that side broke and fled as far she could. 

End Round 4
  Finally, the Escher failed their bottle check and it was obvious what the outcome would be for the lone survivor.  She brushed back her hair, muttered profanities at the brutes, and fled from the area.  It was a Goliath victory!

  I'm sure that the game can be much more balanced as we play more, but this one was very 'swingy'.  The Escher were knocking Goliaths down left and right, but they couldn't finish them off.  Then the Goliaths got a number of good die rolls and the Escher were finished.  But it was still very fun.  There was a certain cinematic element to the way everything played out- every action and die roll was important the whole way!  

  This is definitely not the same Necromunda that I'm used to.  It's not so different that it's no longer the same game, but there's a reason that 25 year-old system had to be redone.  I'm very happy with this new game.  And the fact that my wife easily understands it and enjoys playing makes it even better.  A couple more games from the rulebook and we'll have to move to the 3D stuff...

  Have you played the new Necromunda?  If so, let me know what you thought below.  Happy Gaming!