Friday, April 22, 2016

Fantasy Gaming's Bleeding

That is an extreme title isn't it?

But as titles should be succinct I feel like that is the best I got in this case. I don't plan to ramble on but I do want to put this out there to maybe stimulate some conversation. Also I don't know if this issue i'm about to bring up is a localized one or a global one considering our community of hobbyist.

The issue in short is...

 Fantasy gaming has become so branded that we are losing our creativity and the fantasy that made it fun.


I may just be deep in nostalgia so as always take me with a grain of salt. A little history is in order to get where i'm coming from. I started role playing games (Dungeons & Dragons) at around 10 years old with the Keep on the Borderlands module. I started painting miniatures at about 16 years old, my first finished miniature was a Troll by Ral Partha (seen below and formerly posted on this blog). My frist card game was Magic the Gatehring at around 16 asa well. My first war gaming experience was Warhammer Fantasy Battles 5th edition (the lovely set with Lizardmen and Bretonnians) and from that point my gaming entered what I would call the "maturing phase".

So my back ground is pretty solidly grounded in the famous brands. DnD, Games Workshop, Magic, these are the core of gaming in general. All my initial learning was from these companies and my community which was limited to my college friendships and the off and on LGS friendships as the LGS's opened and closed in my area.
I was very proud of this figure then, and still am now :)
But as I have grown as a hobbyist, gamer, what ever you want to call it, I have come to realize there was a wild frontier at one point where fantasy gaming wasn't branded and these brands that are so dominant today were only one of the strange beasts out there.

If you get that then you are on my page, if you think i'm crazy then either i'm crazy or you're not on my page.

I feel like the pioneer spirit has been lost in contemporary fantasy gaming. Where before game masters and players built elaborate or daring fantasy war games with scenarios or orders of battle, now they willingly limit themselves to the branding's structure and therefore limit their creativity.

Age of Sigmar is a good litmus test for this. I've not played AoS so i'm not talking about how it plays. I've read through the 4 page rules set and honestly it was mixed feelings on my part. I'm not a fan of it, not because of the rules being 4 pages but because they sacrificed a fantastic game and model line for it.

The litmus though is the rules of army building. Or more specifically the lack of rules for army building. I liked those aspects as the advent of points system has created a false idea that fantasy gaming is symmetric warfare (which it isn't) and that you can design something to balance something as wildly various as trolls and elves and dwarfs and whatever else with out a referee to impose some situation based common sense (which you can't).

Since that game launched people have been trying to find a way to apply a points system to it. Which is not only unnecessary it also absurd considering the power level of the little plastic men and the designers obvious intent for epic wild battles.

Let it happen people. Just let it happen.

But back to my point. 30 years ago no one would have batted an eye about this. They would have just started collecting models and played with them. Hell they would have played with any models to play the game just to play what they wanted to.

Look. I can go on and on about this. Really. I'm a talker. But I feel like I got the gist of my point across. I have been looking into re-pioneering my own gaming and hope to have some kind of interesting battle report/rpg/war game/thingy to post on here soon.

Until then I hope this generates some thinking and conversing. Also I hope all your dice roll in your favor ;)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Beyond the Gates of Antares

If you haven't played Beyond the Gates of Antares by Warlord Games (which I will now permanently shorten to "GoA") then you owe it to yourself to find someone with some and play just one game. It's a very good game, very fun, and fresh in a few ways. Some people I've talked with refer to it as the sci-fi Bolt Action but that really isn't true. They share a single mechanic in the form of the order dice but that is really where the similarity ends. Really people are picking up on the tactical style of game play they both exhibit which is less about overwhelming your enemy with super weapons and mega units and instead not screwing up.

Which I am not good at. I excel at screwing up.

It's like a gift.

I have the starter box for GoA (see I did it) and it is a really nice product. A lot of people have reviewed this so feel free to look that up but in general it is worth it's price hands down. I've finished a few units so let us take a look shall we?
 This is a light support drone for the Concord faction. Basically it's a mobile, AI controlled, weapons platform. Kind of like the Eldar heavy weapons platforms but independent. It has a spotter buddy drone with it. The Concord faction has a lot of buddy drones and the spotter basically gives you a re-roll on an dice to hit so that is worth the points.

The box comes with two Ghar units; a battle squad and an assault squad. This is the battle squad with it's less big claws and bigger gun. That gun arm is surprisingly adaptable with three fire modes making an army with limited unit options versatile enough to play well. Also they are nearly impossible to kill without some really heavy weapons. I went with a much darker armor scheme than you'd see in the promotional pictures.

This is a standard Concord unit. Well not standard as the guy holding the head of a Ghar battle suit is a named character but he is equipped the same. They are carrying standard plasma weapons and the guy in the back has an upgraded version of that weapon. Also you see a handy buddy spotter drone over the guy on the right's shoulder.

Also in the back you can see some U.S. GI's getting painted up.

My color schemes are pretty simple, easy to complete, but I think they will come together nicely on the table.

If things go well I should have a small GI force ready to show off soon and a squad of dreadnoughts for my Ultramarines. YES an entire squad!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Soldiers of War: Past and Future

That totally sounds like a title to something doesn't it?

I just googled it, it isn't.

Anyway I have finished (for now) my Bolt Action collection for my army of Great Britain! It is a very exciting event for me. I love to "complete" armies and then set them up and see my beautiful force ready to roll into battle. Please allow me to reveal them to you now!
Gorgeous are they not? It is a mix of Crusader miniatures and Warlord Games miniatures. I got the Crusader British in a trade a while ago and it began my desire to build them into a Bolt Action collection. The Cromwell in the back is obviously a great piece for my army but in a previous post I pointed out it is my first British tank model I've ever done. I was surprised that all this only game to around 650 points though.
If you're interested here is the roster. Basic reinforced platoon but I think it's pretty solid. I'd like to add an artillery piece to it and some Bren carriers with squads. Maybe mix these four sections into two sections with the Brens as support. I'm eager to get them on the table and see how they perform before adding more though.

Also I finished the Germans for a local store's demonstration copy. I mixed them in with my Germans for a big family photograph.
Again this is a mix of Crusader miniatures and World Games. The demonstration consists of two five man squads, a Hanomag half track, and a two man squad for leadership. My two infantry squads and personal command swells it nicely, actually to almost the same points as the British, but they lack the tank and weapons teams.

Finally we will zip to the future. Two friends and myself are participating in the idea of a "new year new army" build and I am doing Astra Militarum. I am buying into the idea of a mega tank being supported by a lot of infantry and my primary goal is two infantry platoons to accompany the mega tank. If I can afford it in points i'm going to also make sure they all have Chimera transports but we'll see what fits. Here is the accumulated infantry thus far...
This photo also includes my inquisitor with his henchmen. Some of the henchmen will find their way into the AM as priests, because they are. I'm pretty happy with how the progress is going. My paint scheme is pretty doable and the idea of fifty plus infantry facing down my foes is exciting. I know the casualties will be horrendous, but this is what the Imperium is made of my friends!

On the board right now is some American GI's for the demo kit and some Gates of Antares. I am hoping to have those done in a few days so that I can move on to some fantasy figures.  Until then I hope your dice favor you, your tactics are well planned, and your model kits are complete! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Bolt Action and Ready Player One

I play a lot of different games and if you are like me you struggle with the same thing I do. You have so many games but so little time that eventually you know you aren't going to get to them all, literally, before you die. So my solution has been to parse down a bit and try to focus on just like...fifty of them.

Yup, right around fifty games should be doable.

Right?

So anyway one of the games that I've always had some interest in because of my general interest in historical war gaming has been Bolt Action. I've always liked the scale and after obtaining a rule book for free from volunteering a few years ago I really liked the rules. I've brought it up a few times to my friends and I've slowly grown a British and German collection to  have a little bit to play with.

Recently a local game store began to carry the game so I have been able to decidedly add to what I have and am on my way to a nice British force. In fact I recently completed my Cromwell tank...
She is a beauty isn't she? I haven't dirtied up the tracks and rollers yet but i'll get to that probably. It's my first piece of British armor in my entire model collection so it holds a kind of semi-special place you know.

Also a local toy soldier shop is beginning to sell Bolt Action and I'm painting up their demo set for them. I've completed the Hanomag and so of course I've got to show it off...
A fine piece even if I do say so myself. I like how the kit has troops you can put in the back but don't necessarily have to put into the back.

I'm looking forward to getting to play out some nice mid-war games against a local player. I need to add to my Germans since he is also a British enthusiast but my main collection will be the Brits for sure. To date I have a nice collection that rolls in around 700 points if they are all regular that includes;

2nd Lieutenant with one rifleman tagging along
Artillery forward observer with a rifleman tagging along with him too
Flame thrower team
Anti-tank team
Light mortar team
2 rifle sections each with a LMG and a couple SMGs
"Missy" the Cromwell tank

I could and probably will split the two rifle sections into four rifle sections since I have 10 soldiers in each. That will give me more order dice and tactical options.

My real hope though, if i'm completely honest, is to find someone to begin the collection of Black Powder American War of Independence with me ;)

The war gaming aside I just finished a fantastic book according to who you are. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a really good read if you are around my age, Generation X so to speak. It is filled with my childhood and teenage years. The material and references strikes deep into my nostalgia and made me smile and feel like a man filled with something valuable which in general is something I don't feel at this point in my life. The writing is really solid and enjoyable but if you are too young or too old you might not value some of the references which isn't necessarily a bad thing it just means you won't get as much out of it.
I will say something for Mr. Cline though. A small part of me hates him and I think I always will. He has, "literaturely", cashed in on my nostalgia. I don't hold that against him. I just wish it had been me. Who wouldn't feel this way. He has taken a childhood that is almost the same as mine and crafted it into a beautiful story that had an emotional affect on me which not all writing does. Further I try to write short stories and fail so much at times it feels as if there is no point to keep trying.

It is a wonderful book. Not all books can make you both admire and want to murder the same person, I hand Mr. Cline an honest to goodness pile full of acclaim for that. Even if it is just from some middle aged blogger lost in mediocrity. Even token counts doesn't it? And if you read the book you'll get that.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Where has the time gone?

A lot has happened in my life since last September. The vast majority of it has nothing to do with this blog or the hobby it revolves around so i'll not write about it here but some of it does have to do with the point of this blog, which I sometimes forget.

The "new year new army" disease has taken a firm hold in my hobby groups and I think it's been a good thing in general. I have started building the Astra Militarum army of my dreams and on top of that working on adding to my Bolt Action British and German forces. Also I am starting to play around with Beyond the Gates of Antares as well as keeping up on my X-wing skills, fiddling with some Star Trek attack wing, and usually playing a weekly D&D session with my sons.

Quite a handful I know!

My dream AM army involves a lot of infantry. I'd always liked the idea of an army of basic infantry men with their transports confronting terrible enemies like Tyranids and Chaos where it would seem their is no way they could be victorious but through their rugged bravery, combined firepower, and guts they are able to overcome. I decided I should have at least 2 infantry platoons and not take the short cut of 2 veteran squads to fulfill my troop choices. That means the core of my army will have fifty soldiers and six tanks.

I've painted up a couple pieces of armor that I got in trade so far...
This is a Manticore I got in trade and while it doesn't fit my original plan anything festooned with huge missiles I will find a place for. The front side panel has my army colors; Caliban Green and Codex Gray which will be the standard for the infantry. The tank itself is actually "German Field Grey" from VMC an I think i'll use that for all of my non-transport armor.

Also I've finished one Chimera...


This is "Midnight Blue" from Delta Ceramcoat brand. I am going to make all the transports this color and have the heavy flamer forward mounted. If I recall the rules right I should be able to move 6", shoot the multi-laser (or heavy bolter in this case) then fire my heavy flamer as well. With a full unit in one that is also another two guys shooting from the access point and another six from the mounted lasguns. That is a lot of firepower, not strong enough to take on the likes of a Wrightknight or similar epic size enemy but I have a Hellhammer for those.

Also I'm going to mix in some Imperial odds and ends such as the assassins and the Inquisition. In fact I plan to use an Inquisitor as my warlord for the army, some kind of story about him taking control of the Astra Militarum to fight chaos or what have you.
Here are a few pieces I'm looking to add in. The space marine is from the Dark Vengeance box set and I think i'm going to mix in that squad as a dying chapter that have sworn themselves to the Inquisitor's cause. The other two are for the inquisitorial henchmen band or maybe as other AM characters. 

Well I think that is enough for now. I could go on about my Matilda tank in progress or my thoughts on the Ghar from GoA but I don't have pictures of any of that yet so I'd rather wait until I can accompany text with photographs. 

If you've read all this I'd like to take a moment to thank you. There are a lot of blogs out there and many are more impressive than mine. I'd like to think what mine brings to the world is the feeling that anyone can get into this hobby and have fun with it. 

So until next time, I hope all your dice roll good for you...unless you're playing me ;)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tie Punisher and Dungeon Delving

So with Wave 7 of X-wing firmly out, and a new core starter set featuring a couple exciting new ships from the upcoming movie, I can't help but feel this is the golden age of Star Wars table top gaming. I feel like i'm in the middle of it all and really that i'm not getting to play enough. The 1980's were arguably the best time to be playing Dungeons and Dragons and that was a golden age I only got to dabble in as a child and early teen. I yearn for those days with the mind and abilities I have now and would work to recreate them but I don't have the community I need. Gamers today are firms lodge in the modern era of gaming and don't look favorably on things like 1st edition AD&D or 3rd edition WHFB.

Hmm, maybe I should start a club focusing on just that? That may be something to explore.

That aside I meant to talk about my views on the new ships, well lets be honest, I want to talk about the Punisher and bitch about the K-wing. My initial frustration about the Punisher based off from the information provided by FFG before it's release. I felt that we fine upstanding Imperial players were getting robbed of the bomber we deserved! The K-wing was being given the "slam" action which made it a superior bomber hands down and the Punisher wasn't getting anything to make it a better bomber than the Tie Bomber. The "extra ammunition" upgrade was good but that could have been just given to the TB. I was frustrated FFG did not give the Punisher the "slam" action.

But then I played with it and I understood I had MISundertsood the entire purpose of the Punisher. I was an idiot, the Punisher was not a bomber at all, it was and is the best damn missile boat in the game. You pack that puppy with an extra munitions card, some proton torpedoes and assault missiles and for a mere 32 points you have a ship that can really hurt swarms or bring some punishment to a larger ship. (See what I did there?)

I'd like to get more games in though, especially with the Tie Punisher as a support assault craft though. I think it would either do wonderful to draw fire or throw it's missiles (and possibly bombs) into key fights to soften them for a kill.

Space battles aside the Dungeons & Dragons continues to be run by both my sons. Their campaigns fluctuate according to their interest but one is usually pretty well DOTA themed although recently it has switched to the new module that was just released. The new module Out of the Abyss looks like a nice classic exploration of escaping from Drow captivity and then the under dark in general. This is good solid dungeon module design so long as they don't mess it up with TOO much role playing. That is odd for me to say, i'm sure, but the truth is if you put too much drama into an adventure it gets bogged down trying to resolve the issues. So far their produced modules have struggled with that a little bit. Even a skilled DM like myself has had players get bored in some of the role playing scenarios the modules use. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

I Am Not Feeling the Passion for AoS You Are...

Age of Sigmar has basically taken over the fantasy/sci-fi gaming sphere and for the first time I understand the idea of being drowned in Games Workshop. Now don't get me wrong I like the models, they are quite nice, but Games Workshop makes a lot of nice models...an almost inhuman amount...no no it is inhuman. So new nice models are just that and nothing more. I've read through the rule pamphlet and through the war scrolls for my collection but I am not engaged. I really think this is for two reasons...

1. I feel old.

2. I am also drowning in skirmish.

I am forty which is not that old, I've been war gaming for half my life and I've played a pretty wide range. I have a solid flavor for the blocks of soldiers that you can find in whfb and much of the historical war gaming community. If my child hood and friend base had been different I probably would have several nice armies of mounted knights and Romans and Celts. Never the less Age of Sigmar makes me feel old. I see so many people jumping on this game and holding it up as such a wonderful game. I don't see it. I know I've not played it and it's hard to give my opinion any credit but you don't have to eat a dog turd before you can say, "I don't like dog turds." I'm not saying AoS IS a dog turd but I am saying it feels like one to make because I don't want to go around it and I certainly don't want to pick it up. I buy White Dwarf every week without fail but I hardly read the articles in it right now because it is all about AoS.

The primary distaste AoS puts in my mouth comes from it's skirmish format. I am pretty full up on fantasy skirmish games. Everyone today wants to put them on big round bases and run around in a mess but they always devolve, none of the maneuver that would be implied happen. Models move in straight lines and slam into each other. I find there is much more play of movement before commitment in a game of warhammer fantasy battles than in warhammer 40k. In fact I feel this way strongly enough I am feeling my taste start to rejoin my Roman and Celt project and maybe get some resolution there.

This being said I have joined a friend in playing the game Wrath of Kings because he was very very interested in it and I have a soft spot for anthropomorphic pig men, don't ask.

Other things have ignited my interest though. Star Wars X-wing very much so and I've started dabbling in Star Trek Attack Wing mostly because I have a lot of friends who play it and I want to support them. I recently worked out a trade for some few Klingon ships...I am a Klingon man they suit my play style quite nicely.

So we will see what is on the horizon. I can honestly say I don't know. I feel abandoned to some degree like I've had dirt kicked on me and moved on.

I might be just depressed, who can be sure. 

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