Monday, December 14, 2015

Frostgrave: The Eclipse

The second game of the weekend was a game of Frostgrave, playing the Eclipse scenario which is the fist scenario from the newish "Thaw of the Lich Lord" book.

Mike used the same warband as he had from our previous set of Frostgrave games (as related here) and I chose the same type of wizard (Sigilist) but, since I had lost my paperwork, I started a new warband from scratch.

We made the table with a castle wall and a series of larger buildings separated from it by a wide street. There is more open LOS here than is recommended by the Frostgrave rules but this was balanced to a degree by the eclipse special rules which reduced the distance for LOS.

I had split my warband in 2 and sent the apprentice with a smaller force along the top of the castle wall and my wizard with the rest of the warband along the road to the near treasure.
Reaching the first treasure turned out to be quite easy but it turned out that disturbing the treasure attracted the attention of an ice troll who came on the table behind my warband.
The ice troll made short work of my thief who was carrying the treasure, fortunately he was far enough away from the rest of my warband that he didn't automatically move towards them but he stayed near the treasure for the rest of the game so no one got that one.
Soon the two warbands meet in the middle of the table and combat ensues. I briefly had the upper hand by distracting the enemy templar with the "Furious Quill" and almost killing him with bow fire. The group on the wall managed to get another treasure (and disturbed some wild dogs)

The dogs came on on one of the neutral sides and just wandered around their entry point for the whole game.
As the battle in the street went on, things got worse and worse for me.
Things started to go badly on the tower as well, I did get the first treasure away but lost the fight over the next treasure at the top of the tower.
In a move of desperation the apprentice climbed up the tower and cast explosive rune where the treasure was. When the enemy moved, the rune exploded and caused great carnage but sadly the only survivor was one of Mike's warband. In the following turns everyone in my warband was killed except the thief that managed to get off with the treasure.

I ended up with 1 treasure, Mike got 4 and the ice troll kept 1. When we checked the warband for casualties I only had one warrior who was seriously injured (sadly it was the best one!) but Mike had several deaths.

We did set up the treasure properly this time (the treasure is placed before table sides are chosen) so I think that  made a big difference and the eclipse did a bit of interest. In the post game discussion we decided that a lot of the house rules we used last time were not really needed except for the one that removed the gain of XP for killing enemy warband.

Looking forward to more Frostgrave in the New Year!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Saga: Moors vs Rus

So Mike was over this weekend and we played a game of Saga and then we had a game of Frostrgrave. This is the battle report of the Saga game.

We played a 7 point game so that I could use the Moorish army that I have been painting up. I had bin Yusuf, a hearthguard unit of 8 African Horse, a hearthguard unit of 8 Black Guard and a warrior unit of 8 mounted on camels. I did have an Imam painted as well but I felt I already had enough special rules to deal with this time around.

Mike had a Rus army (I think it was Christian Rus rather than Pagan Rus, but really, they are all infidels anyway!).  He had a unit of 8 mounted hearthguard (much like the Black Guard, they cost an extra point and have several special powers), a unit of 12 Levy bow and 2 units of 12 Warriors. We decided to play the river crossing scenario from the original Saga book.

My plan, such as it was, was to have the Black Guard move on to the right ford and have the mounted units sweep across the left ford and crush all in their path.

I started out sensibly by moving slowly up and using some of my board abilities to slow down the Rus.

The Rus were also being sedate in their advance.

By the second or third turn my instinct to immediately get stuck in took over and the Black Guard crossed over the ford with Ben Yusuf.

And the horsemen charged across the ford into the Rus horse (who had killed one of my horse on the previous turn with bow fire). It was at this point that I realized that several of the battle board abilities I was counting on for this attack wouldn't work because they are armed with javelins and the abilities specify that they only work for troops not armed with missile weapons.
My horse were forced back with great loss and managed to inflict no damage on the Rus

The remains of my horse were wiped on the following Rus turn (they weren't so keen to attack the Black Guard though...)

The Black Guard smashed into the Rus warriors driving them back over the hill but they did lose a stand to the levy bow on the hill.
The Rus began to move towards the left ford with only the camels between them and victory.

The Black Guard finished off the warriors and faced off against the levy bow.
The camels charged across the river into the mounted Rus and just disappeared in a mist of tawny fur and blood. I had hoped to do a bit better here due to the penalty of horse fighting camel but it was not to be.

The Rus crossed over the river and the hearthguard took a few bow shots at the Black Guard to no effect.

At the end of the game the Black Guard had not quite wiped out the bow. The Rus won handily with what they had crossed the river with.

I was reasonably happy with how things went given that it was my first time playing with this force. I really didn't take much advantage of Ben Yusuf's special abilities and I think that having 2 big hearthguard units (especially when one costs an extra point) is not really a good strategy (but this list was based on what I had just painted and wanted to play with). I think the next time I play with them I will not take Ben Yusuf but just the Black Guard with foot warriors and maybe levy bow or one unit of mounted warriors. The other way to go is to go with Ben Yusuf and a mostly mounted force and use the abilities to slow down the enemy and then pick of units at the edge.

I have now played with all 3 of the Islamic armies from Crescent and Cross and I like them all, the Moors might be my favourite but they are all close. For the next few games, I want to use more foot (some of which is still being painted but I should be able to finish them off over Christmas) and also try out the 3 varieties of Cleric. I do want to just stick with these three armies to try and learn them a bit better (sticking to one would be better but I don't think I can limit my self to that).

This was the first time I had played at 7 points and I think it worked ok because we had both taken special units or figures. I don't think that there would be much point in going to an even larger point value (though maybe will will try and find the upper limit in the future...)

We also talked about using Lion Rampant with these figures to run a Crusades game at Cangames. I have since read some reviews and it seems it would work well for that .  I will probably get the Kindle version and read it over the holidays.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Waiting for the Cold War to go Hot

I had been quite excited about the Team Yankee releases when they were first announced and then as time went on (and my enthusiasm for painting seemed to wane) my interest began to fade. There was quite a buzz about it at the club on the Saga tournament day so my interest began to rise again and when I was in Fandom this week and Randy asked me if I was interested in it, I ended up getting the book and a starter set for each side.

In preparation, I decided I should finish of the US self-propelled guns that I started earlier in the year (they were the first models I painted with my airbrush). I am not sure that I will get much use out them initially since I think both Stan and Mike are going to be painting US forces (but then again I am likely to be getting some "Lend-Lease" from the Kingston Red Banner Army so I will have a bit of leg up on my Soviets as well).

I am kind of annoyed with the way Battlefront has been handling their production troubles. I think I would have been happier if they had kept the original mix of the starter box and delayed them further rather than just releasing them with all tanks (this probably would have cost them some money so maybe they feel that they are not taking a big enough hit on the good will side to care). In any case, I hope they will be in Fandom this weekend so I can grumble as I glue together all my tanks!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A review (of sorts) of the Games & Gears D6 Generation brush set

I am calling this a review of sorts because I am in no way qualified to judge higher end paintbrushes but I do want to talk about why I bought them and how I feel about them now that they have arrived.

For the past month or so I have been painting quite a bit after a long dry spell over the summer and I was considering getting one or two good brushes. I had my eye on the Winsor Newton System 7 brushes because I had heard good things about them and they carry them at the local art supply store so I could see them in person before buying them.

Shortly after I had begun considering this purchase, I head on the D6G podcast that were promoting a set of brushes from Games & Gears. At 45 pounds for 5 brushes they were a little bit less than the cost per brush for the Winsor Newton ones but I was really only considering getting 2 of those (one around size 2 and one around 0 or 00). I did a bit more research and was leaning towards the Games and Gears brushes and then figured that if it was a limited run of 250 it wasn't really worth the effort of the hosts of the D6G to completely sell out for such a small gain so they probably could be trusted on this one!

I finally decided to go for it and just when I was about place the order, I got a call from my Mum saying she was going to send me some money for Christmas and coincidentally it was almost exactly the amount that the set with the D6G Brushes and the DLB technicals was going for. So in a moment of madness I bought that.

About a week and half ago the brushes arrived. They looked really good and the feel and weight of them was good and they went together well when you took them apart for storage.

I wasn't really sure what to expect when I started to use them (to be honest, I was dreading that there would be a huge moment of buyers remorse) but they are very good. I don't know that I could say that they make my painting that much better (though I think they do a little bit) but they do make the experience of painting much better, the brushes keep their point much better and for longer than the brushes I was using before and they hold the paint better. When I paint with very watery paint it "stays" in the brush better. I can paint for longer without getting annoyed and frustrated.

The 0 00 and 000 are much more useful than I would  have imagined. Although they come to a very fine point there is still enough "bristle mass" to hold a decent amount of paint so you don't feel that you are painting with a toothpick. If these brushes last for a good long time (and I have no reason to think that they won't) I will be very happy with this purchase.

I haven't done anything with the Technical set of brushes yet, I will likely give the drybrush brushes a go soon and will try the "katana" on some free hand shield work (not really much hope of success there since my drawing is awful with a pencil and I don't think there is any reason to think I will do any better even with the best of brushes).

So the final word is that I have come to realize that having better brushes will make my painting more fun (and perhaps a little better) and that these are definitely better brushes. I can't say that they are better (or worse) than other higher end brushes but I can say I am quite happy with them and would recommend them to anyone looking to move up in the brush world.

Fate of a (different) Nation

This past weekend at the club Mike and I played a couple of games of Flames of War: Fate of a Nation. Being more disorganized than usual, I couldn't find all of my Israeli forces so I just brought my Egyptians -- To provide a thin veneer of "historicalness" we decided they would represent the Iraqis in the 1970 Jordanian Civil war.

My force consisted of a T-55 Commander, a platoon of 10 T-55s, a platoon of 6 IS-3s, a platoon of 5 SU-100s and a platoon of 2 ZSU 57-2s. Mike had an HQ of 2 M-48s (I don't remember the Jordanian name for them) 2 platoons each with 3 M-48s and a mechanized infantry platoon with M-113s

 Here is the Egyptian force ready for action (I hadn't brought all my SU-100s so there are some BTR50s standing in for them)

For the first scenario I had to set up in one corner of the table and the Jordanians set up in the 2 adjacent corners and the objectives were in the 4th corner (but didn't count until turn 6). Mike set up one platoon of M-48s in the town area and the mechanized infantry with the HQ tanks in the valley in the big hill. I set up my T-55s to attack the tank platoon and the IS-3s to go after the HQ and infantry.
On the first turn I managed to take out 1 M48.

In a surprise move the Jordanian M113s do a double time move across the front of the IS-3s!
The IS-3s seem to have been surprised since they rolled really badly but you don't have to roll all that well to destroy an APC with a tank!

Mikes saves for the infantry in the APCs were not all that great (and the surviving M113 fled -- oddly the infantry chose to get out before it fled).

Meanwhile, I managed to take out another M48.
One of the reserve platoons of M48s arrived in the valley but by then my force had concentrated and I had managed to destroy the command tank. Shortly after this, I wiped out all the other tanks for convincing Egyptian (Iraqi?) victory.

For the next came we were again set up in corners but this time the objectives were in the setup corners.
Mike had only one platoon and chose to dismount his infantry around the near objective and put his HQ tanks hidden in the valley. I lined up all my tanks to charge at the infantry thinking I could wipe it out by turn 3 and win before the delayed reserves could arrive. In hindsight this was unwise

As I moved up, I lost my nerve to some extent and made a long chain of T-55s so I could leave some back on the objective. I am not sure why I didn't just move the IS-3s back and all the T-55s forward but this seemed like a clever thing to do at the time.

The T-55s that moved forward assaulted into the infantry but could go no further because I couldn't move my commander and still be able to get good shots on the reserve M-48s that were now arriving.

They managed to destroy one T-55.
And I destroyed one M48 in return
When the second reserve platoon arrived it moved through my tanks to shoot them from behind causing my moment of grief with the Flames of War rules that I usually have in one form or another each session but even now, I think this rule is a bit dumb even when I think of it just in game terms. Oh well. Mike would have won at this point but we then realized that the objective couldn't be on the edge and he moved it in (I would count this as a win for him since we played with the objective there)
We carried on for another few turns and I managed to kill the Jordanian CinC and enough stuff to force a company check so I managed to win in the "overtime".

I am still enjoying the Fate of a Nation games, which is odd because I don't really like really tank heavy games of regular Flames of War. I guess this will soon be eclipsed by the Team Yankee stuff but I think I will come back to this from time to time.