Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'm actualy part of an ancient lizard race...

...but not ones from UFOs.


I have been playing (off and on) a game called Warhammer Fantasy Battles...

... for many years now and my army of choice are the Lizardmen. My army is from back in, oh, circa 1994 when the fifth edition of the game launched and it came with a nice chunk of Brettonians (knights and archers) and Lizardmen (saurus warriors and skink archers). Anyone who played this box is likely familiar with the horrid imbalance it provided. I'm not shitting you here, I spent the entire first year that I played the game getting my ass handed to me by the Brettonians and all the weak ass friends I had who played them. Which was everyone sans one guy who has an obsession with Dwarfs.

No not that kind of obsession, geesh, perverts.

Anyway...over time my collection built until it is the awe-inspiring army that it is now. The first addition of note was that of a General, the Slann, which was a huge toad that was supreme wizard being carried about by four ass-kicker saurus. It was devistating in both close combat and magic combat. Times have changed and now he floats alone (although still a big fat frog) and is not so grand in close combat, he continues to be unbeatably hoss in magic though.
Pretty sweet eh? Yeah I think so too. That's not mine, mine isn't painted that good and it's the old version, this is the 'new hotness' version that does look better but I feel no need to drop 40 bucks on it when mine can kill the enemy just as effectively..

Anyway, this weekend I had a match against a High Elf player and long time friend. We haven't played the game in years but we both had our armies and we wanted to revive the "good ole' times" if you know what I mean. I wanted to take pictures and produce entire battle report but it didn't happen. I can give you the primary layout though...

The High Elf host consists of a unit of light cavalry, two small formations of archers, 3 repeater bolt throwers (ouch), a block of spearmen, a small formation of Swordmasters of Hoeth (with BIG two handed swords) and three characters; a wizard, a mounted hero, and a hero on the back of a griffin. He had to randomly determine which was his general and it turned out to be the weakest combatant of all three characters, the wizard. This will hurt him later as you'll see.

The Lizardmen Cohort consists of a Slann escorted by a block of saurus warriors, another large block of saurus, a large skirmish band of skink archers, a block of saurus cavalry, three Kroxigor and a saurus hero on a cold one mount. Oh, and a Stegadon with a howdah full of armed skinks. Oh, and two things called Salamanders with their handlers.

I set up the table with some woods and a hill and pond (we are aquatic after all) and deployed my battle line giving him the option to respond to my deployment. Let me say it's been a while and I've been playing alot of skirmish games so I kinda forgot how important the initial battle line is. From left to right went; salamanders, cavarly, slann with escort, saurus infantry, skink archers. Behind the skinks was my kroxigor which is a completely valid combat strategy as they can charge the enemy through the skinks but can't be targeted by ranged attacks through the skinks. A huge mistake I made was placing the stegadon behind the battle line. In retrospect I have no fucking clue what I was doing. The stegadon is a huge triceratops looking sucker with a wooden box full of heavily armed warriors and a bolt thrower strapped to it's back. The absolutely last place it should have gone was in the back, but I must have failed my stupidity roll that day.

The high elf battle line, from my left to right was; light cavalry, spearmen, archers, bolt thrower, bolt thrower, bolt thrower, archers, griffin hero, swordmasters. Somewhere in that was the mounted hero and the wizard but I can't remember where. Anyway it was clear I was going to have to march into a wailing hail of fire and suffer casualties in the 50% range I was figuring before engaging his warriors in hand to hand. I love this guy, really, he's like a brother. BUT. The dirty son of a bitch always sits back with a shooty campy army and makes you come to him. It gets old alot of the time but this time it didn't. It had been long enough I wanted to see if they scaly swordsmen of my command could hold up. Plus I was figuring on my magic thinning their shootiness a bit.

We only played four turns which took about an hour or a little more which is a pretty good clip for a war game. I'm going to give a jist of each turn because I honestly don't remember the specific moves. We rolled a d6 for first player, I won the roll but after some thought gave him first turn so that I could react to his missile attacks.

Turn 1: The only movement he did was on my left bringing his light cavalry up so they could fire on the salamanders which he feared, and rightly so. The majority of the turn was me moving forward, him winging something in the area of 30 dice worth of missile attacks and me loosing 3 of my 8 cavalry which he also feared. My crowning achievement of the turn was calling down CONFLAGRATION OF DOOM upon a unit of two bolt throwers totally frying the crew, they would be reaping no more this game. OH, and my salamanders decided to luncheon upon their handlers instead of shooting. Yaaa me!

Turn 2: More marching from my warriors and a failed charge of my cavalry on a unit of archers. I figured they were out of range but it was worth the guess since they were going to be targets ANYWAY and and extra round of shooting them wasn't going to hurt any. The highlights included my salamanders burning the light cavalry killing four of 10 and their difficult maneuvering through the woods. It should be noted on my right flank I was a total cluster of failure. The stegadon wasn't doing anything useful, the skinks weren't hitting a damn thing, and the Kroxigor were picking their nose. The high elf general was sweating through because he hadn't caused enough casualties for me to be worred, and it was primarily devoted to the apparent indestructible quality of the cavalry. He was pouring arrows and bolts into the last five and doing nothing!

Turn 3: Finally there is some melee! He really did place his units all the way across the battlefield, I mean they were within 2 inches of his edege putting about three feet between me and them, and on speed 4 that takes some time. His missile far took more casualties and he charged my cavalry with his spears before I could charge his archers, which was the smart thing for him to do but ultimately they didn't really hurt the saurus. He also charged his hero into their flank but only contacted one, which he slew, and thus removed himself from combat. His griffon mounted hero charged a saurus cohort and did some casualties but ultimately the saurus one due to nubmers, ranks, and bravery and he failed his break test and fled, I did not pursue because I didn't think I could get a 10 on 2d6 and I didn't see the point in over extending the guys.

Turn 4: More melee between saurus and elfs ensues with no significant casualties except the defeat of my cavalry. They had held their own for so long then suddenly turned tail and ran! They also didn't run very far and were run down the spear men. If this had been a six turn game it would have been a bad idea for the spearmen as they were now behind my lines and well within death but it was the last turn so it was a good plan. My saurus charged the griffon hero but got tangled into a fight with the swordmasters as well and the kroxigor finally got into the game. The total unit losses included a salamander with handlers on my side and a unit of 10 archers on his side. Four turns of raw war with little true death, it was great! The break point was his wizard though. He had been charged by my stegadon and the 7 IMPACT HITS that it dealt him destroyed him. The ensuing panic tests were horrible and all but his heroes fled the field. If that hadn't happen the results would have been around 600 victory points each and a draw game, as it was the route turned it into a solid victory for me.

I've read up on the rules some more and we did alot wrong by the rules as they are written but I don't think we did anything wrong in the play of the game. We both had fun and except the bad panic rolls for the high elves it was a fair and balanced fight all the way through. I'm looking forward to playing again!

Maybe against undead. Maybe against Brettonians. Who knows.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Fritz and I went to see the movie Doomsday this weekend, allow me, please to give you my review...

Let me start with an acronym...WTF?!

Okay, i'm all for movies with Mad Max levels of road rage and I'm all about the post-apocalyptic-plague-world-sci-fi-future.

But at what point did Neil Marshall think that throwing a full blown dark ages castle with full crew of men-at-arms and self-made hand-beaten armor wearing executioner was going to make this thing gel.

Again, don't get me wrong, I love it. This screen play took GUTS like I've never seen. We are talking like seventy feet of 'em.

Let me break it down for you;

1. We gotz a plague...OHNOES!

2. We gotz to wall off HALF THE FRIGGIN ISLAND! OH F-ING NOES!!!11

3. Cook at 350 degrees for 25 years.

4. We gots TEH PLAGUE AGAIN! OH F-ING NOES!!!111!!!111???

5. WAIT! LOOKZ! There be peeps in da plague lands.


"wtf cares!"


6. K boyz, send in da chica with da robots eye.

Mix with 2 old APCs, about a dozen peeps with guns, stir gently, let simmer all of 15 minutes.

7. Crazy post-apocalyptic peeps --> "Get 'em da be fud!"


8. Cook up da doctor and eat 'em.

9. Robot eye chica escapes with Maid Marrian.

10. Find Robin Hood.

11. Go to mountains.

12. Go through secret passage through HIGH TECH GOVERNMENT INSTALLATION FILLED WITH SHIT, but don't look at it! Not yet.

13. Find crazy knight, get Robin Hood killed, become prisoner...again.

14. Find crazy 'king', fight in arena, kick crazy knight's ass. Well, stick a spike in his head, same difference.

15. Escape with grenades (boom!)

16. Go back to secret passage through hi-tech installation and this time look in the damn crates.

Add MOTHER F-ING BENTLEY with full tank of gas in a big box plus GPS tracking cell phone.

17. Go have awesome Mad Max road battle.
18. Drive Bentley through a bus, DO NOT I repeat DO NOT scratch the paint bitches!
19. Get stopped by helicopter, turn over 'package', use cool robot eye to record bad guy giving monologue.
20. Wrap up film, go back and take over post-apocolyptic cannibals.

Now, you can't say that doesn't sound like some wild ass FUN to you, because I know it does. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, even in the 'suspended reality' department but FCUK IT it how often do you get to see dark ages knights AND post-apocalyptic road warriors in the same flic? NEVER that's how often.

The people critics are rating it a C+ on yahoo, and sure sure it's a C+ movie, BUT COME ON it should be given more just for having the cajones to mix what it did!


Thursday, March 6, 2008

E. Gary Gygax: July 7th, 1938 - March 4th, 2008

I was someplace between 8 and ten years old when I discovered Dungeons & Dragons. It was at a flea market, here in Ohio, and it was two Dragon magazines and the adventure module B1: The Keep On The Borderlands. I was with my oldest sister and we were walking down the row of card tables and trestle tables looking for something cool. Two elderly people, a couple if I remember right, had set up a couple tables out side their RV to sell off some stuff they had accumulated. Underneith one of the tables was a couple milk crates with magazines and books, in amongst these were the beginnings of a life time of adventure. They were a nice couple, I'd wager in their sixties, and they sold the three paper back volumes for a mere dollar twenty five. I asked my sister if she knew what they were and she said she did, that it was a game called D&D. It sounded amazing, looked funner than anything I had played before, and asked her to teach me and she said she would.

Later that afternoon she sat with me, and my unofficial brother, and the module and magazines and taught us to play the game with a few pilfered monopoly d6's. I played a magic-user named Thife, because I didn't know how to spell thief, who had 20 hit points and could cast any of the spells on the 'sheet.'

The 'sheet' was a double sided reference sheet meant for new players who were using the Basic (redbook) rules. It listed weapons, armor, equipment, a combat matrix, how to figure your armor class, and listed some first, second, and three third level spells.

We explored the keep map, which incidentally was NOT where the monster lay in wait in the regular adventure, and my sister made up the rules on the fly. I'd wager a Deck of Many Things right now that Gary would have approved of our play even though we were butchering the rules. My brother played a fighter and we went room to room fighting monsters like werewolves, minotaurs, and goblins and found gold coins and gemstones aplenty. We were hooked right then for a life time. I think probably part of what sunk the hook in was that at one point that evening my Mom joined in the game. She played a Cleric (which is probably an aspect of why I like Clerics the most) and sprinkled holy water about the rooms where we slew these horrible beasts. She grew borde quickly though and went to do something else. I'm pretty sure she was just making sure the game was 'okay' and considering the press it got at that time who can blame her?

Gary Gygax was not my hero, and nor was he and icon to me, he was something else, something closer. Heroes die or go away and icons continue unchanging always and inhuman in a way. Gygax was someone I could relate to, someone who I was like in many ways, someone who shouldn't have died at a young age of 69. His death hit me pretty hard, harder than it should have considering I did not have the fortune of meeting him in person much less mourn him, but it did. I think because of the relativity I had for him, it was like having a litle bit of my own mortality thrown back at me.

His game of course changed my life, there are thousands of us, if not hundreds of thousands, who can say the same. But more than his game changing my life, his life changed my life. It showed me something that right now I can't put my finger on but I think has something to do with opportunity and enjoying life. It's...complex.