Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Be! Aggressive! Be Be Aggressive!

We played a few games of Warmachine last night. My first game was 35 points against Josh and Allister Caine. My list was as follows:
Koldun Kommander Aleksandra Zerkova 6
Decimator 9
Spriggan 10
War dog 1
Battle Mechaniks (Leader and 3 Grunts) 2
Doom Reavers (Leader and 5 Grunts) 6
Greylord Ternion (Leader and 2 Grunts) 4
Kayazy Assassins (Leader and 5 Grunts) 5
Kayazy Assassin Underboss 2
Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist 2
Idea was use Zerkova's high focus value to give Decimator a good chance at hitting stuff. Spriggan would light up stealth stuff and AOE and hopefully get in a good melee charge. Doom reavers provide early disruption with the ternion hopefully making things hittable.

Josh used Caine + two hunters + stormclad + some knight dudes + some solos. I thought I was doing really well at the beginning; he moved Caine up and left him wide open. I was aggressive and moved Zerkova up with her two 'jacks with Watcher up. The ternion took a few ice cage shots at Caine and I learned he had 17! defense. Decimator missed some shots at him while he was in the open.

Caine then moved up, outside of Watcher radius, and used Gate Crasher to move right next to Zerkova and it was over. :( I thought I might get a hit from Watcher but we looked it up and placement means you don't make an advance. I definitely learned from this one! Be aggressive, but be careful about placement!

Next up I fought Adam. He brought Ravyn with a lot of dudes with bows and mage hunters. It was a close match - he nuked my Kayazy and Doom Reavers pretty quick, but once I got close my high ARM 'jacks were tough for him to take down. Decimator got off a great 13 dmg shot to his caster and then ended it in the last turn. Victory for Zerkova!

Watcher was super important during this game - Adam was hesitant to move his 'jack up until later (and he got a good hit in on Zerkova when he did... and she almost died the next turn from fire). When he did move up to her, Decimator moved up and did 18 damage to his 'jack with the ripsaw. 

Man of the match: Decimator!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Feeds to Follow - 40k and Warmachine

Jeremy had requested a list of sites to follow regarding 40k and Warmachine, so I figured I'd provide the list that is in this blog's blogroll. I'll start with our Michigan brethren first then move on.

Ruinous Powers: Phil's blog about his Chaos SM army and his WM armies. He's going to start a new army soon!

Drop Pod Assault: A blog run by our gamerbro Josh. He puts his hobby progress and batrep information here, sprinkled in with some strategy. Can't recommend it enough.

Dark Future Games: Run by OST and CVinton out of Lansing, this blog details all the local happenings and their thoughts on 40k. Lots of awesome hobby progress posts and great painting. Adepticon coverage was awesome!

MI40k: Run by R3con and a few others, this site has a lot of theory and news as well as quite a bit of local tournament coverage. Also has an awesome forum to post about local events in.

Rhellion's Tabletop: Rhellion is another local gamer who plays a lot of Fantasy. I feel bad for him because he plays in GW stores :(

Fresh Coast 40k: Yes, I follow my own blog :P

Gamers Sanctuary: Our FLGS has their own blog.

Hulksmash's Homeplace: I subscribe to this mainly for the awesome Tyranid stuff.

NQMagazine: The blog for No Quarter magazine, PP's official mag.

Mid-Life Gaming Crisis: Another awesome Tyranid blog, as well as some information about gaming as a professional with a real life. Great stuff.

3++ Is the New Black: Kirby's blog. I mostly subscribe to read Tyranid articles, but there is a lot of good theoryhammer stuff if you're into that.

A Gentleman's Ones: Such a lovely blog. Brian has created so many great terrain boards; I found his site because he was raffling off a really really nice one. I follow mostly for his terrain updates but he also provides pretty awesome army updates too.

Apocalypse 40k: This is a blog for a site that is mostly forum-talk about Apocalypse games in 40k. They have a great set of house rules and lots of experience running Apocalypse games. I don't believe we've had a perfect Apocalypse game yet, but I think we're getting there using some of their guidelines.

Best Overall: Another Tyranid site with lots of other batreps and 40k information. He also plays Circle in WM.

Iron Agenda Blogging Network: This is a meta-list of a bunch of WM blogs. Might call it a webring about 10 years ago.

Pulp Citizen: Dustin and I are looking at a new game called Pulp City. I have a thing for superheroes and DC Comics - so does Dustin, so we're going to check out this game. Heroclix are cool but I could never stand the paint. This game might be good!

Fritz 40k: Lots of awesome Tyranid stuff! I actually bought his Tyranid strat guide. Haven't read through it all yet, but it is on my Kindle.

Secret Weapon Miniatures: This e-shop is producing some of the best wargaming hobby stuff around. I've only bought a few things, but you should definitely check it out.

Synaps3: Tyranids! This blog is run by a dude who goes to major tournaments and does really well with Tyranids.

Tales of a PP Press Ganger: GW gamers might be unfamiliar with the concept of a local representative (since GW hates the idea of developing their game locally!) but a press ganger does just that.

BOLS: Yeah, BOLS. Josh from DPA is publishing some great Battletech articles here.

The Back 40k: More Tyranid articles. Some great strategy and thinks I never thought about.

So there you have it. The entire list of blogs regarding 40k or WM that I subscribe to. I'll use another blog post another day to describe the podcasts I listen to.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Visit to the nerd capital

So last year, to celebrate finishing my PhD, my wife and I visited England. We spent most of our trip in Liverpool, with trips down to London, Down House (Darwin's estate) and Nottingham. Luckily she had super awesome friends in Nottingham. They showed us around the sights, and went with us to find and visit GW HQ. The place was surprisingly difficult to find. It's in a kind of industrial area, and would be easy to pass were it not for this guy on the side of the road:

The aquilas all over the buildings helped, too:

Here's a sweet diorama they had set up out front. You may have seen it in White Dwarf. There's so much character and so many little vignettes going on. I don't want to spam all the pics of it, but it's really amazing in person. Bonus that it's Hive Fleet Behemoth, the best hive fleet (sorry Mike).

This board was pretty funny. It was cool to visit the HQ for a couple hours, but I wouldn't make it part of my honeymoon!

For some reason I don't have good pics of the gaming area (an amazing large room full of all those tables you see in WD, available to play on for free.) Also no good pics of the interior of Bugman's. But I do have lots of pics of the Miniature Hall:

The best part is the whole room is dark until someone comes in. Then, one by one, lights slowly "thunk" on from the front of the room to the back. Epic fantasy style music starts playing as well. It was pretty awesome, and amused me greatly. Here's some sample pics from the hall (I have tons more):

If you haven't seen this before, you will now. Nurgle baneblade, best baneblade:

These were the only deffskulls in the entire hall. Such a bummer!:

Old-school models and dioramas:

My favorite painter, Darren Latham doing one of my favorite models:

My wife knew to go straight to the Salamanders area of the hall. She took lots of pics of them for me. But I'll spare you all with the previous and this really cool banner bearer:

Some nice dioramas on display:

Finally, the outside of Bugman's:

The tavern was pretty cool, all done up in a fantasy style. Full bar and food was available, though we didn't have time to sample anything. I bought a few odds and ends, including a print of this iconic 40k art:

So that was my exciting trip to GW-HQ! Shame I couldn't get any games in, or meet any e-celebs/designers, but moving models across the pond wasn't going to happen, and all the dev work seems to go on in a separate, (and totally locked down) building. Hope you all enjoyed a peek inside nerd central.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How do you consume wargaming media?

With so much media available on the webs about Warhammer, Warhammer40k and Warmachine, how do you bring it all in? How do you separate the signal from the noise? How do you manage to read or listen to everything?

I'm going to provide a simple explanation of how I manage all my RSS feeds and podcasts and then if you don't mind, throw in the comments how you do it.

The first thing I learned to use to organize my life was Google homepage. Also known as iGoogle. This page allows you to setup how you see everything; your gmail, your calendar, RSS feeds, Google Reader, etc. Pardon me while I whip this (huge image) out:

Click to see bigger
So you can see on the left side I have my gmail, then my calendar (notice all my nerd events, and then my wife keeps track of every person we've ever met's birthday). Twitter goes in the middle (tons of good stuff to follow on there - I'll have a list in the next post I do). On the right is a Google Reader pane.

In the Google Reader pane are the latest posts from every RSS feed I have setup in Google Reader. I have them setup in groups; News, Sports, Gaming, Comics, etc. This allows me to choose each one from the dropdown and see it in the pane.

So how do I get these RSS feeds in my reader? When you're on a webpage, say this webpage, there should be an RSS icon at the top in Firefox.

If you click this button, it will take you to a screen where you can choose how to subscribe. Choose Google and you can then select Reader and now you'll have an RSS feed for that in your Google Reader.

Once you have it in your reader, if you log into Google Reader you'll see a list of all your subs. You can edit them and create folders etc. Here is part of my list:

RSS feeds with new articles show up in bold. 

This pulls the RSS feeds into your iGoogle as well. You can also install the Google Reader app on your phone so you can read articles while you're waiting. Google Reader has allowed me to organize myself so much better when it comes to blogs; it is really easy to read everything or even mark something as read if you're not interested.

There are tons of podcasts available for each chosen wargame. I have listened to quite a few. I'll make recommendations in the next post. What I'll post here is a different way to listen to podcasts; most people use iTunes and their iPod or iPad or iPhone or iLife or whatever. iTunes is bloatware, so I don't have that on any of my machines. I choose to use Google Reader to manage my podcasts.

The first thing to do is install Google Listen on your phone. One caveat: this program seems to be out of support from Google and can be buggy sometimes. The payoff when you get to use it to listen to podcasts is definitely worth it, though!

To subscribe to a podcast using Google Reader, do the same method by going to the RSS feed for the podcast then subscribing to it. Once you get to Reader, make sure you move the podcast RSS to your Google Listen folder. Then start up your phone, go to Listen, go to My Listen Items, and hit Refresh. It will download all the header information for each episode that is new. You can then click into each episode and download them individually.

This is a great way to listen to podcasts and manage all your content. I use it in my car during my 45 minute commute each day.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. How do you manage the blogs, podcasts, even forums you read?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Warmachine Progress

New cover art from PP's next Iron Kingdom's RPG. See their blog here: http://nqmagazine.wordpress.com/

This is just a quick post to explain some of what we've been doing with Warmachine. We've actually added another player, Jeremy, who will be playing Circle Oroboros, our first Hordes player!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the rest of us have been playing 15 point games and 25-35 point games testing out new strategies, learning the rules, and just realizing how different it is to play Warmachine. I've won a few and gotten destroyed in a few. There are a lot of players at Gamers Sanctuary helping us out with their experience!

It is funny telling stories to the experienced Warmachine players - it is almost like we're taking baby steps! Any time you tell a vet that you used Razor Wind I found you get some laughs, lol. (Zerkova did 13 damage to Nemo in one shot from Razor Wind! Earlier in the game Spriggan did 19 points of damage to a Charger! BOOM!).

I've been painting like a mad man, finishing my Spriggan and Doom Reavers and starting on my Kayazy Assassins.

Sooo many rivets and screws

Painted arc needs to be touched up. I think some flock got on it

The business end

All the Doom Reavers want is a nice day on the deck in the back yard.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Warmachine Renaissance: Part 3

So you've read a few accounts of getting into Warmachine / Hordes by some of my comrades here at Fresh Coast 40k. Most of us have really delved deep into the game and rules and are taking it as a nice break from a long period of 40k-only gaming.

I started Warmachine way before most of the others - probably last fall or so. I bought a ton of models for it (when I do something, I usually go whole hog, which really doesn't work well for me sometimes). I bought pretty much 1 of every Khador warjack (a lot of them used models) and a ton of units - I didn't really touch the Winterguard, the Assault Kommandos, or Man-O-Wars, however. I really love the Uhlan cavalary so I purchased a full unit of those and the Kovnik.

I didn't really paint any of the models as I was also getting into Chaos Space Marines at the time, and the Warmachine models intimidated the hell out of me. The amount of detail and all-pewter models and different aesthetic just seemed to really scare me.

I played about a dozen games last fall. I went to the Warmachine Invitational tournament that Gamers Sanctuary hosted and had a ton of fun. I brought Epic Vlad with Uhlans and some jacks and just jammed the field. I went 2-1, narrowly losing my last game. Vlad had personally assassinated two casters before that.

Over the winter and this early spring I didn't really play much. WH40k was (and still is) growing huge at GS. During late spring I started playing a few games with Bill (Geneguard) and about that time our 40k campaign was wrapping up. Some of the 40k players were interested in a new game; we showed them Warmachine and we're now well into a pretty great local scene of cogs and steam.

GS has a wealth of really great players and painters when it comes to Warmachine. Chad, the store owner, is a huge WM / Hordes advocate. We're learning now about the game, the rules, and the strategy and mostly playing each other before we take our first steps into the world and get annihilated.

That is a short history of my WM experience. I've played GW games and historical games for about 20 years - so I'm not new to the hobby overall. Anyway, my answers to the questions:
What got you into Warmachine?
I was mostly looking for a new game. I believe firmly that when players settle themselves into one game and only one game, they can become narrow sighted and lose the idea of what that game is all about.
You'll see it on message boards. The dudes that argue for pages and pages about some crappy rule that GW wrote up. Is it really worth the time? Or the constant hyper-competitiveness that some GW players bring out to what is essentially a beer-and-pretzels game. There are other games out there that would suit it better!
Sorry about the diatribe. I play tons of games, and after having been anti-Warmachine for some unknown reason for a long time I tried it out and figured out I love the game, the fluff, and the hobby.
What has been the biggest adjustment from 40K / Fantasy?
The assassination victory objective is really tough for me sometimes. In 40k with some armies you don't have to push forward every single turn. You can be cautious and not want your units to die. In WM, you HAVE to be aggressive. I learned early on that worrying about your caster or not taking chances will mean you don't ever win or have fun.
What do you think of the fluff and artwork?
I love the art. I play Khador, and the icy north snow-world theme is extremely prevalent in the art and even makes you get chills sometimes. The fluff is pretty good; the stories are all connected and I LOVE how it seems that they're advancing the fluff.
I really like in the art when the casters are casting spells how it shows the spell effects in word form around their hands. I just think it is the coolest thing in the world.

How about the price?
I think a lot of the prices are better, but a lot aren't. The overall price to get into the game is really nice. The price of the rulebook (full color! 250 pages!) is amazing, and almost ludicrous compared to GW.

One thing I find especially playing against younger players is that they never buy a rulebook because it costs $90 for other games. A cheap rulebook means they get the rulebook easily and all the fluff. The price of the upcoming box set really is also great.
Some of the models still in pewter are mind-boggingly expensive. Any of the cavalry models are nigh unobtainable for the current price. Plus pewter horses just seem dumb to me, I don't know why.

After playing eVlad for a while, I chose to start trying out Zerkova. I really like her fluff and her model. She is apparently the worst warcaster in the world. Sometimes I like to be different I guess!
Are you using P3 paints (Privateer's brand)?
I have the P3 Khador starter box. I really like the paints and it is nice to use different colors. I'd love it if GS could carry the whole line, but I don't know the logistics.
What do you think about the models themselves? Packaging?
Missing parts are a really annoying thing. When I impulse buy a model I want to go home and clean it up and put it together that night, sometimes even start painting it right away! Not having pieces and having to wait weeks is awful. I do like the models quite a bit. They have their own aesthetic. Some of the models are so old - they really need to be re-done. Case in point: Kayazy Assassins.
Remember the X-Files episode that got banned? "Home"? Remember what the boys did with their own mom? Kayazy Assassins are part of that family
What do you think about the rules?
I like how each force has pretty universal special rules between most forces. I love the tight set of rules. I love not having true line of sight. TLOS is the worst sometimes.
Where do you see it going from here?
I can see us playing a nice campaign this fall, learning a lot of the different casters and the strategies. I do have some Gatermen models so I'll be painting those when my 400 lbs of Khador pewter are painted.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reth Notes: Fluff Bonuses

This is a quick note - we finished out the Reth campaign Sunday, and I had a few things I wanted to do with the end of the campaign. I wanted to reward players for playing without making it monetary or "best" or a competition. I also wanted to make the Apocalypse game a little more interesting.

What I ended up doing was asking my wife to help me out with a little hobby craft project. We made Reth Purity Seals (with pinback) for each player that they can keep and throw on their bag. They were cheap and quick and the players really seemed to like them!

The other thing I did to make Apocalypse a little more interesting was to create mission cards, similar to ideas I've read in the Imperial Armour books. I have no idea if they're balanced, or FAIR, or whatever, but I thought they'd be fun. I asked each commander to hand one to each player based on how they thought their force would do using that mission goal.

The mission goals were intentionally devised to have each player do something different; I don't imagine a large combined-arms force in 40k to intermix all their troops together - they'd have different objectives. In all I'd guess about 50% of the players scored their objectives. Here are the cards:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Warmachine Renaissance: Part 2

This post will continue the article I started here. I asked a couple newer Warmachine / Hordes players a few questions each as to why they're starting to play Warmachine right now. First we'll start with Paintvagrant (Brian).

What got you into Warmachine?
I'm sort of a game dabbler, so when Warmachine came out I played it briefly then got attracted by other, shinier toys. Over the last 3 years or so I have gotten much more into game-design, and been playing lots of boardgames as well. Warmachine's miniatures and play-style, and incredible overall strategic depth really attracted me. I tend to get bored with other games very easily, not so with wm/h.

What has been the biggest adjustment from 40K / Fantasy?
Order of operations is hugely important in Warmachine. While your opponent is playing their turn you also need to be planning your next turn and the order you will activate your models in. That's very different than 40k. Also, the "caster-kill" as a win-condition is obviously very different from 40k games.

What do you think of the fluff and artwork?
The fluff is pretty solid. I like the overarching history of the Warmachine world, although some of the fiction I find at time hokey or mediocre. It varies tremendously, but it's definitely good overall. Art-wise, I like the approach of having numerous art styles and designs, but some of the artists aren't my cup of tea. Others, like Carlos Cabrera, are incredible. Matt Wilson is a very good illustrator, I always enjoy his stuff.

How about the price?
Prices are fine, after playing 40k for years Warmachine feels relatively cheap.

Brian's Skorne army. Embiggned for beautifulness!

Are you using P3 paints (Privateer's brand)?
Yes, a lot of them. I use a mix of GW, Vallejo, and p3. Primarily p3.

What do you think about the models themselves? Packaging?
The ranges are large and vary. For the most part I like them, and I think that they tend to be more 3 dimensional than other miniature ranges. This makes them hard to photograph, and generally when I have a model in my hand I tend to like it much more than when I see it online. Packing is fine, I like that stat-cards are included.

What do you think about the rules?
The best written rules set in wargaming. It is not a system that sacrifices game design for fluff or narrative. It is designed to be a balanced, competitive game first and to tell a story second. Not the other way around.

Where do you see it going from here?
It is an adult's game, because the barrier to entry/learning curve can be high (there is a ton of factions and combos to learn) but as a company PP is doing everything right and their player-base continues to grow like crazy.

Our last two new Warmachine players are sons of Cygnar (and they're both educators! weird). Josh has played wargames for years and years and has recently started blogging for BOLS about Battletech. He also started his Solaris League at GS and has been playing Warmachine at the shop as well as with Phil.

What got you into Warmachine?
I wanted a change of pace from 40K. Warmachine's models, especially the Jacks, drew me in.

What has been the biggest adjustment from 40K / Fantasy?
The single minded nature of killing the Warcaster. I'm so used to the idea that killing Troops is most important, it was hard to adjust my tatics to killing a single model.

What do you think of the fluff and artwork?
I love the artwork and the fluff. Even the "Good Guys" aren't always that good. EVeryone has justification for fighting everyone else. I would like to see more ficion being written, a la the Black Library.

How about the price?
The price is great. A starrter set that is very playable for $40 and reasonable prices on their metal and plastic models make it very affordable. The fact that you don't need a lot of models to play also helps. However, it is the rlebooks that really steal the show; they are top notch in production and price. 

Are you using P3 paints (Privateer's brand)?
I haven't used P3 paints.

What do you think about the models themselves? Packaging?
I love the models. The Steam Punk setting makes for a very unique looking game. Compared to GW's newclamshell packages, the PP ones are a breeze to open. Packing the stat card in with each model is awesome. You don't need the faction books to play.

What do you think about the rules?
The rules are simple and easy to pick up, but difficult to master; just the way they should be. It makes for a potentially quick and brutal game.

Where do you see it going from here?
I can see myself adding to my 50 points of Cygnar throughout the summer. I can also see the game adding a more defined Campaign system. Not being much of a competative tournament player, I look for ways to make my games more "fluffy".
Bill (geneguard) is relatively new to Mid-Michigan and has been playing 40k for a number of years and a few other wargames. He is a contributor to this blog.

What got you into Warmachine?

My nerdbro Brian aka PaintVagrant's incessant nerding out on it, mostly. I had been interested for awhile but the scene was non-existent where I used to live, and I was a little put off by the whole "play like you have a pair" thing they used to push. I finally broke down and got a plastic Cygnar starter when they were available early at GenCon.

What has been the biggest adjustment from 40K / Fantasy?

Definitely getting used to order of activation, facing, that kind of thing. Also I have to get away from moving and treating units like I would in 40k. (Maintaining 2" coherency, that kind of thing.)

What do you think of the fluff and artwork?

It's a little hit and miss for me, but overall decent. I definitely like the art from Andrea Uderzo.

How about the price?

Individual models and so forth are very reasonably priced, but the bigger stuff like heavy jacks, cavalry, that kind of thing are definitely pricy. I try to buy used (from GS!) or do trades when I can though.

Are you using P3 paints (Privateer's brand)?

I use a few. Their blues, especially Arcane Blue, are fantastic. I'm a big fan of Menoth White Highlight as well. It's my go to 'off-white' color I used for making highlight mixes. I would love to GS to carry more of the range, as I love some of the color choices that other lines don't offer.

What do you think about the models themselves? Packaging?

The packaging is decent enough. Some of the older models are showing their age, for example older jacks. But the new stuff is good for the most part. One thing I've found is I often find myself not liking a model when I see it online, but in person it looks much better.

What do you think about the rules?

Coming from GW's more casual beer and pretzels style rules, it's a big shift. Well-written, tight rules that provide an actual competitive environment. That's nothing against GW, just two different mindsets at play with these rulesets.

Where do you see it going from here?

Your guess is as good as mine, but I'm very excited to see where it goes!