Bristol Megalofunotron 2

by paet the pagan-gerbil18. October 2014 08:00

Another Bristol tournament! The last one was really fun, and seems to have introduced the ‘league-in-a-day’ format to a few local tournaments (the previous one in Carmarthen, the upcoming one in Cwmbran) and even the DreadHeads tournament coming up at the next Mantic Open Day (November 2014).

The dice were handed out throughout the day, and seemed to help...

Preperation

Having just finished a league season with my Zees, I’m feeling a little bit cloned out. I need to pick up a different team altogether. The ‘league’ format makes it possible for the less-competitive teams to compete (for example: in the last Megalofunotron tournament, I was in 2nd or 3rd place with the Zees…), so I might revisit something like the Z’zor that I played last year and did terribly with. This tournament would also see our biggest personal group going – with regulars like Jen, Oli and Dan; and more new players: Gareth, Dai, and Stuart. The pagan-gerbil DreadBall team is coming together nicely!

Given all the new players, and veteran players who’ve not played in a while, we hosted a weekend of DreadBall the week before to teach the game, practice the game and go over some of the quirks of this tournament format. We got in a few games, and an Ultimate one (Dai’s first, and only, game of DreadBall before the tournament!)

In the end, it was down to either the Z’zor, the Judwan or the Veer-myn. Since the Judwan are too easy to shut down completely without their Speed boost, and I wanted more practice with the Z’zor that there just wasn’t time for, I went for the Veer-myn.

Format

This time round, there are four regular games with decreasing credits to spend after each one – Game one starts with a 130mc team, game two adds 15mc to that, game three another 8mc… and so on. Finally, there is an Ultimate game to finish the day off.

An interesting quirk in this tournament is that skills rolled are kept for the remainder of the day – so my normal Veer-myn tactic could be scuppered by a bad roll in game one. The upgrades available after each game are also limited – although you have 8mc available after game two, you can’t buy a coach with it.

Game One – Gareth’s Teratons (The Blue Suns)

I felt a little bad about this game – Gareth is one of our new players, and I beat him by a landslide. Two of my Veer-myn had skill increases, and were able to run rings around him to get the points. We were over in about 15-20 minutes, giving us time to plan our next few games upgrades.

Game Two – Oli’s Void Sirens (Saltford Slappers)

Oli and I have been playing against each other for over a year, so we were a little disappointed not to have anyone new to play against, but we knew it would be a close match. I said near the beginning that since we would end with a low score or a draw, the chances of one of us winning was pretty low.

At least this time he's not using my own models against me.

In the game, it worked out that way. Oli knows how to use Running Interference perfectly, and it’s very difficult to get around it. We had a fairly high-scoring game with both of us getting more than six points before turn 12, but the score being zero.

In the final rushes, I scored three points to get ahead and Oli failed to match it – I had broken a slim win out of it.

Game Three – Chris’ Nameless

One of the neat things about this tournament is that MVPs and Giants were permitted. They could only be bought in the first round, and all MVPs had a flat cost of 20mc, all Giants cost 30mc. Chris had bought the Nameless Spawn and worked out that with it’s large base and Gotcha, it was able to single-handedly (tentacley?) reduce any strike attempt in the 3pt zone by two dice. This had to be rectified.

It was a really tough game and even closer than against Oli. I expect that’s because I know Oli’s tactics well, but had to constantly think about what Chris might do next. Having the Giant made him play different to most Nameless players I’ve seen and he had upgraded a Striker (who now had 3+ Skill, naturally) making all of his strike attempts pretty golden.

One of my Guards spent a good deal of time attempting to hit the Giant in the back – fouling where necessary – to attempt to turn it around and free up a hex to score from. This worked a little, but I missed some of the possible consequences and ended up wasting a slam to turn it around and not open the strike zone. Then his Hard Guard came out to knock my Guard over and stand watching him, not wanting to risk getting sent off to remove the poor rat.

 

The other Guard had been more successful – tag-teamed by a Sticky and a Hard guard, he opted to Slamback and managed to roll two sixes, followed by another two successes. He was pushed back, still tag-I was so hoping that he would try to Stomp that Guard...teamed, and another action was spent to Slam again. I said “Well, he won’t get that sort of luck again” and then rolled two sixes. And then two more. And two more successes just to cap it off, sending off the hard Guard injured for a turn. That was a roar of triumph that brought Liam over to see. At first commiserated because of my jammy luck, then realised it was a Nameless team and gave me a high-five.

It was another high-scoring game and eventually the score was 1pt in my favour. Liam called time, and since Chris had just started his (Away) rush I suggested that we call it at the end of the rush since we wouldn’t have time to get through another rush each before the end. He was happy with that arrangement and went on to throw a 2pt Strike on 3+ Skill… and missed it. That was the second time I roared in that game! A few minutes later as we recounted it to his clubmates, he remembered that he had a coaching dice. I very un-sportsmanlike didn’t want to accept it at that point, although in most tournaments, a 1pt win wasn’t going to put me near the running for the top. The tension of the match had got to me and my heart was pounding. Two very close games, and I needed a break. There’s still round four to go though…

Game Four – James’s Teratons

James is another player from Chris’ club, and was fairly new to the game but had picked it up quickly. Playing against each other a lot, they clearly have developed strong skills as both are great players.

Teratons are a hard team to face, I’ve normally only met them in their ‘smash face’ guise and not this high scoring team. He made it almost impossible to get three-pointers, while he managed to get a couple of four-pointers in my zone. I felt very pleased with myself using a guard to Slam his defenders in the back, forcing them to teleport away (and having blocked the other hexes, opened up the four-point lane) but then realised I didn’t quite have the actions to get the rats out of the way. That being said, the four-pointer was left open but with two Teratons threatening the bonus hex. I went for it with a single coaching dice and managed to pull it off, and the final roll of the game tried the same thing (that would have brought it down to a single point loss or a draw). It failed.

There were a few things in that game I should have done differently – moving around for the easier 3-pt strike (would have had at least an extra dice, possibly two) would have been a smarter thing to do, and the first few rushes I attempted to score while running (taking the penalty) instead of using the ‘Striker – Throw’ card I had in my hand. Maybe it would have gone differently if I had, maybe it would have gone worse!

In the end I lost by 5 points – Chris N (who had been watching from a polite distance) came over and told me he had found it agonisingly tense too! I was ready for a lie-down in a dark room to calm my nerves. There’s still an Ultimate game to go though.

Ultimate – James’ Teratons, Chris’ Nameless, Craigs’s Veer-myn, Chris’ Zees and Byron’s S1 Corporation

This was it, one of four Ultimate games and I was there at the top. For most of the game, with all the cross-scoring, most players were averaging 1 or 2 points before getting dragged down quickly.

My heart had aged another five days by this point in the day... Then I was sat next to the sodding Giant again!

In one memorable moment, I attempted to Steal from a Teraton – the ball was stripped, bounced and scattered around before ending up in a different Teraton’s claws. In his next rush (a sort while later), the first Teraton was moved to a strike zone and attempted to throw… “With what?” asked five players together. Facepalms have never been so hilarious.

I managed to get four points late in the game, and was followed by the Nameless player sharing my arm who fouled to bring on his Giant (all the foul rolls were sixes, naturally) and clear out my scoring zone. Time was called, and there were three players left to go – leaving me as a spectator.

Byron performed some magic to bring his Striker to my bonus hex and score – putting us equal on 3 points each. Then the Zee player flubbed the ball and passed his turn. Finally, Craig’s Veer-myn were in the position to score against either me or Byron – not enough to win themselves, but to choose the winner between us. There were no other eligible targets. If I thought the previous two games were tough, I think I nearly passed out here. It was worse because there was nothing I could do – at least I could have flubbed a roll and gone out easy in the other games.

At this point, I was no longer taking part in the game. Note my strike zone, formerly defended by Veer-myn but now outsourcing it's defence to the Nameless!

Thank goodness for petty vengeance, as Craig announced Byron had been ticking him off all day! I won by 3 points, to Byron’s 2.

Conclusion

After this Ultimate game, I milled around helping to tidy up and waiting for the rest of my gang to finish up their games so we could see how they did. A few other people came up to me to chat, and some tried to work out how well I’d done. Knowing that I hadn’t gotten more landslide wins, I figured that it was unlikely that I’d won but I kept hearing how close it was. The results would be announced shortly, and I would know then.

The more I heard how close everyone thought it was though, especially those who’d found out other scores, the more I wondered…

When the results came out, I was pleasantly surprised that none of our group got the Wooden Spoon – although it wouldn’t have damaged anyone’s enjoyment of the day, and it would probably have been a nice start to a tournament career for them to take home a trophy. James, who beat me in round four, got the runner-up trophy leaving me to take home first place. I was absolutely over the moon – this was a large tournament (22 players) and the competition was very tough (I had to wait to calm down before I drove home), and it was absolutely amazing that I had won considering that most tournaments I have been to have an outright winner after three rounds as the only one with three landslides and no-one else can catch up. Part of that is down to Liam’s decision to treat landslides as regular wins – 2 tournament points, since the strike difference also favours landslides used a tie-breaker.

The Veer-myn definitely deserve me taking the time to paint their MVP and rone figures...

In the end, it came down to the Ultimate game being worth one tournament point more than a regular win so my three wins and Ultimate win were a single point better than James’ four wins. If it wasn’t, the first tie-breaker was on strike difference and we both had +8… The next tie-breaker was cheers, and we both had 16… Then we’d essentially be rolling a dice to see who took the trophy home! I don’t think it’s possible to et much closer than that.

I would like next time to try and get clubs or groups separated so they don't have to play each other, we all ended up with our mates in the first round!

And huge congratulations to James – this was his first tournament, he’s not been playing for long, and many players deem Teratons to be under-powered unless you are aiming for the ‘Most Bloody’ award. To have come so close to the top is incredible – it took me a lot of time to get that close, and it’s still a fair dollop of luck when I do (see above, being slammed by the Nameless…)

As for the rest of our group? Oli came 8th, fairly respectably and Jen got 12th – almost exactly halfway through the pack. Dan, Stu and Dai picked up 14th, 15th and 16th and Gareth came out at 20th out of 22 players. All have resolved to get more practice and go along to Cwmbran, and possibly even pick up additional teams. I’m going to try and arrange some more practice days before the next tournament to raise our average score just like a real coach would.

Personally, I’ll be moving to a different team for the rest of the year. It’ll be nice to win with something other than the Veer-myn, so they’re going to retire for another six months or so.

He wasn't really as bored as he looked...

Thoughts on Format

I liked that, for a change, four landslides weren’t required to win. There must have been no-one there with four landslides anyway, even James can’t have done that well if he ended up with only +8 strike difference. I think squeezing the Ultimate game in makes it a long, tough day and Liam is considering making the next tournament just five straight games. This might have to depend on the number of players, as I don’t know if less than 15 players could support those games.

It was nice to see MVPs and Giants even though I didn’t use them. The Nameless Spawn in particular is devastating – perhaps it will need to be specifically excluded like Buzzcut and Number 88 are, or perhaps that’s just a reflection of how helpless I felt against it! Other than that I didn’t see the other MVPs, it will be interesting to see if this format gets picked up in the future and I get a chance to play with or against them.

The venue was great – we’ve been to few parties there recently, and it worked as a tournament venue too. Not too cold (even in October), hot food and drinks available in the attached pub (oh, and it’s a pub) and loads of space. Each game had it’s own table to fill out, and the tables were nicely spaced so you didn’t bother people while moving around. It’s those little touches that make the difference.

All in all, we have about half a dozen players all heading to the tournaments in Cwmbran and Nottingham over the next couple of months!

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Radio Stars: Revisited

by paet the pagan-gerbil4. October 2014 08:00

About a year and a half ago, I wrote about the podcasts I listen to. I thought it’d be fun to review those podcasts and see what’s changed.

.NET Rocks

Last time I talked about possibly giving this one up. Since then, I’ve taken it off of my regular listening on the commute, and instead put it on when I worked from home and don’t need to concentrate too heavily. When they put out a Geek Out show, I take that on the commute with me – they’re more interesting, and I want to pay a lot more attention to them. So I haven’t dropped it, and still don’t plan to, although I am getting quite a big backlog and might just drop some of the less interesting subjects.

The D6 Generation

I’d recently picked this one back up last year – having the time to spend on it again. I’m leaning away from it again though – 3 hours of talk about games I don’t play, and in many cases don’t intend to play, just doesn’t strike me as interesting anymore. I like some of the reviews, but the interviews are mostly a little dull. In fact, the one with Own Statter I just skipped entirely because the sound quality was so poor it was not pleasant to listen to.

On the other hand, there was the interview with David Weber – I had never heard of him outside of this podcast, and hadn’t read any of his books. Their interview with him made me want to run out and read every Honor Harrington book there is, the series sounds fascinating.

At the moment, I’m skipping most of these podcasts until I have nothing else to listen to and a longer commute day to listen to them.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

I still love this one, and look forward to the new episodes. They’ve just started a series on the First World War, and I’ve already learned a lot about it (despite covering it in detail in school many, many years ago). I listen to it almost as soon as it comes out, and will find the time to sit and enjoy it as I would a book – it’s definitely that sort of show.

Hanselminutes

This has unfortunately gone the same way as .NET Rocks, and I only listen to it when working from home. I’m much less likely to skip it though, as the episodes are just the right length. I’ll probably skip the upcoming Hanselminutiae episode though – I don’t really care what gadgets they want to buy or use. I’ve never been a fan of gadgets shows or car shows or any of that sort of thing, and hearing two guys with enviable disposable income talk about exchanging one gadget I can’t afford with another when the first isn’t broken… Wow, it winds me up.

Webcomics Weekly

There were recently some new episodes, thanks to a Kickstarter promise for some reason. I really wish the show would update more, it’s really interesting, the hosts are fun and the topic is a nice change from the other stuff I listen to.

Heelanhammer

This podcast came back last year, and I’m enjoying the new format. They have formalised the podcast sections, but aren’t forcing it – some segments are every episode, others are rarer, and at least one episode was all about a tournament with no regular segment in it. So far, there hasn’t really been an army review like there used to be, I’m looking forward to seeing if they do one and how they handle it again.

Bad Dice

This show has been getting better and better, and most of that has been Gareth – he’s been getting more involved and invested and I really enjoy what he brings to the show. Unfortunately, I’m wavering on Warhammer a little bit and I might drop one of the four Warhammer podcasts I listen to. Bad Dice is a little bit too tournament focussed for me, where I rarely even play the game anymore.

Bad Dice Daily

This recently mutated into the Bad Dice Weekly – I’ve yet to listen to it, it might be the Warhammer podcast that gets dropped. I’ve played one game in 2014 so far, which sort of hints that something is amiss.

Mantic Podcast

I’m a bigger and bigger Mantic fan, and you may have noticed a fair bit of blogging here about DreadBall… Even though this podcast is less and less about DreadBall, I still avidly look forward to each new episode. Besides, Mars Attacks will have a DreadBall team out sometime soon! I am optimistic that DreadBall coverage will be treated equally with the other games, when the Galactic Tour Series or Xtreme get releases.

Garagehammer

Garagehammer’s battle reports have gotten easier to follow – the one between Dark Elves and High Elves was excellent. It’s still a bit long and the ‘Toolbox’ – the personal journal type part of the show – talks about US TV shows and films and things, and I really don’t have much interest in it. I try and skip this whenever I’m able, but I like the show in general – possibly the most of any Warhammer podcast I have on.

Radio 4 Friday Night Comedy and Comedy of the Week

Still listening to these, still 98% awesome. Also something that I can enjoy on a long car trip with others, who may not be interested in technical or gaming podcasts.

LRRCast

Still good, a nice break from the other things I listen to. I have to skip all the Magic talk though, that’s just not my bag.

Penn’s Sunday School

I’m still slightly wavering on this one. I’m a little behind, and sometimes there are fantastic interviews and wonderful episodes. Other times, there’ll be a dud ‘congregation news’ and stories will be rehashed from earlier podcasts. Jen listened to one on the way down to Portsmouth and enjoyed it, so it’s another one I can share with other people. It’s also less cerebral than a lot of my other shows, while not being ‘dumb’ (despite the host’s protests). There’s quite often some interesting political or moral philosophy to think about. I don’t always agree, but it’s presented well and in a way that I can work through in my head and work out what I think and why.

Meeples & Miniatures

The promised DreadBall Podcast didn’t materialise – there were a couple of episodes, then it died. Maybe weekly was too ambitious, or being ‘in-character’ was too difficult or restrictive. Who knows? Maybe someone else could bring it back. I think a monthly show might have worked better. There were at least two episodes they could have devoted to Kickstarter deliveries last year, two to cover the Open Day tournaments, that leaves eight to go into depth on particular teams or tactics… then again, that’s the eight new teams that were released last year. I think I’ll stick to blogging on a range of subjects, just one game may end up being restrictive.

The Diecast

Nope, never picked this up. I really ought to try it out and see if the sound quality has improved, but I just don’t care about computer games anymore. It’s probably not for me. Sorry Shamus!

Stack Exchange

I listen to this whenever it’s out, and I enjoy the interviews. It sits in a weird intermediate place – I can listen to it easily, it’s good fun, and I enjoy it. On the other hand, I don’t learn anything from it and it’s not a hobby focus. I think the only thing I can say about it is that it’s interesting and different to everything else that’s on my list.

History Hour & Science Hour

These two are great. I don’t have a lot of time for the news, so Science Hour keeps me up to date with some of the less headline-grabbing, but more interesting, developments in the world. I can’t keep up to date with magazines because there isn’t time to read them before the next one is out.

The History Hour is especially interesting, because it is covering history with accounts from witnesses. This constrains them to the 20th Century, and because it is produced by the BBC World Service, it has global scope. This leads to interesting stories about the pro-choice movement in the United States, the non-Mandela members of the ANC in South Africa, missing nuns in Mexico, Jonestown, and more.

The problem with both is time – my commute is a lot shorter these days, and they tend to have a bit of a mature focus (violence, death, disease) on at least a portion of each episode so I can’t listen with the kids around too easily. I’ve got a big backlog to get through!

The Strike Zone

This is an interesting DreadBall podcast, unfortunately I have skipped most of the early episodes. They were often talking to beginners about the basics of the rules, and I found them extremely dull to listen to (I have taught plenty of beginners to play, and I didn’t much care for the style in the podcast – however that might be down to filling a whole episode with a single concept, whereas I am trying to teach the whole game in 5 minutes). I did listen to the Season One review, and it made some interesting points on the Forge Fathers. I don’t think they’re quite as good as told, but did make me want to pick them up and try them out now I have more experience. The interview with our local pathfinder and tournament organiser was also good fun! We have a few tournaments coming before the end of the year, which I am getting excited about.

As the shows are moving into Season Two and Three now, I might be listening to more of them to get insight on some of the more peculiar teams. It’d be nice if they had a co-host though, with the exception of the bite-sized Bad Dice Daily (now Weekly) all the gaming podcasts are team efforts and it would be good to hear discussions rather than monologues. I’m interested to see where this one goes in the future.

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Why So Zeerious?

by paet the pagan-gerbil27. September 2014 08:00

They all look alike to me

I couldn’t come up with a backstory for the Zees. I had so many ideas for them, drawing from many sources including my love of genetics and the Planet of the Apes series. I came up with something long and complex with pointless detail and it wasn’t even entertaining for me (and as you’ve seen elsewhere on this blog, my standards are fairly low). It occurred to me that the Zees are anarchic and unpredictable, they’re irresponsible and irreverent. They aren’t going to be honest about anything, much less their own history. They probably even stole their equipment, rather than look at all cohesive and organised. Every single one of them will end up giving a different account of who they are and where the come from, and laugh about the confusion caused.

Grrrr!

For the Zees, I went for a colour scheme inspired by The Joker. I put more orange in than purple because I wanted to differentiate them from the Z’zor team I already painted, but I think the three main colours match well.Tra-la!

The skin is Khemri Brown with a Flesh Wash (ancient GW paint), another highlight of Khemri Brown and some have a Dheneb Stone highlight. I found Dheneb Stone a bit difficult to highlight with because it is so strong with pigment (being a foundation paint, I guess) that it doesn’t have anything between ‘covers everything’ and ‘this is a wash’. The eyes were Eshin Grey. The orange was a practice run for my Nameless team – it works here, but I might need to do something else to get the effect I want on the Nameless. It was a Vermin Brown base with Squig Orange. The purple was Liche Purple with a Genestealer Purple highlight. Some of the models had a Tentacle Pink edge highlight, but I didn’t like the effect too much. The green was Snot Green, Orc Flesh Wash (again, an ancient GW wash), more Snot Green and Scorpion Green highlight.HIYAAAAA!

It still needs to be finished off with a highlight of yellow on the visors, and Incubi Darkness on the bases to cover my sloppy boot painting.Eye of the tiger!

This is the first team that I managed to name every member of it. It was always the plan to name the teams, but I find it a little difficult. This one was much easier! The line-up is:

  1. Benjamin
  2. Benchamin
  3. Benjummin
  4. Benzhamin
  5. Benchummin
  6. Benzhummin
  7. Benjimun
  8. Benchimun
  9. Benzhimun
  10. Benjamon

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Doombar League Part Two

by paet the pagan-gerbil20. September 2014 08:00

Game four was cancelled, as my scheduled opponent quit the league after his prior game. Since this is a structured league rather than a free-form one, the organiser decided to award all of his future matches as an average of his recorded ones. The upshot of this is that my monkeys got three experience increases (resulting in a Skill 4+ player!) and their first win of the season! Hooray!

Game Five – Josh’s S1 Corporation (team name unknown)

This was a nail-biting game – neither team’s coach managed to pass they coaching play rolls very often, and only three scores were made in the game. An early three-point lead completely failed to be matched by the Zees, the closest that they got was scuppered by the ball shattering as they got to the strike zone. They made it back by waiting for a human Striker to sprint all the way to the ball, before Running Interference onto the ball, flubbing the pick up and having it scatter (with a Fast Pitch event in play) way too far for the Striker to catch it.

Another Zee tried to Sucker Punch a human guard to turn him around but kept rolling 6’s, until the Guard was dead. Dead dead dead. Zees don’t normally kill things, so that monkey was very happy. And removing him from the board is even better than turning him around!

On the other hand, I lost two turns – once to trying to pick the ball up for my first action (and failing) and once because the ball launch landed on a prone Zee, bounced into the ref, bounced into a human Guard, bounced into another Zee who had no dice to catch it with – thus ending the rush before it even began.

It wasn’t until the final Zee rush that they finally scored, bringing the score back to zero and hoping to go into Sudden Death – however, there was one Corporation rush left and they got a single point to finish.

I really love it when a game comes down to the wire, and Josh is fun to play. I played him at the previous Bristol Megalofunotron tournament (also with Zees, he took Robots).

The Relegation Battle – CJ’s New England Patriorx (Marauders)

As I was now second from the bottom, I had to play a match against the second-place player in Division Two. If he won, we swapped places and if I won, I stayed where I was.

It turns out I was playing against CJ, from the last league. He’s still taking his Marauders except that his league team has hired Slippery Joan (all of his models are female Orcs… including the Jeerleader).

It was the tensest game yet, on both sides. I was in the lead (barely) for most of it, but the luck just wasn’t with me where I needed it. Four monkeys bit the dust, most of them had some unused experience but no ranks.

I managed to hold onto a draw for the final turn, but only had three players on the pitch. Slippery Joan started with the ball, and all she had to do was score… and did so. Easily. Game over by two points in Sudden Death, and with four simian corpses to recycle. Luckily, the underdog bonus managed to replace them all in time for the Ultimate season-ender!

And good luck to CJ in the second season, playing up in Division One!

Season Finale – the Ultimate Battle

We managed to get all five remaining players in Division One together for a massive Ultimate game – it was a good finish to the league, as we’d all played each other previously in the season. I actually wasn’t the massive underdog in this game, despite not having as many advances as the other players and suffering worse casualties throughout the league – I did have enough underdog bonus to max out my cards and hire an MVP for the game (the Praetorian).

The Praetorian was sent off early as I attempted a Sneak foul, and a massive pile up blocked much of the centre near our arm (I was sharing with Tom’s humans) with Sam’s Nameless taking on everything around them. Stu had hired the Enforcer for the game, and he flew around looking for a good place to smash things.

I did fairly well, scoring a few points and defending myself well (The Ball Shatters on Stu’s striker, after he’d committed the Enforcer to moving my defence and travelled from the far side of the pitch to a scoring position…) and once the Praetorian got back into the game, scored a few points in his zone (rather safely since there’s only one Ball Shatters in the game).

The Nameless managed to grab a landslide win, since monkeys can’t stop very much at the best of times and his guards had advanced a few ranks already. I did finish on 5 points though, so if I’d managed to grab the next turn somehow it would have been my chance to take the win – and would have been my first legitimate win of the season, just before I leave for Division Two!

What’s Next?

At the time of writing, Division Two haven’t played their final Ultimate game yet. I think there will be a short break – there’s a new player in the area who is interested in getting in on the league so we might be back up to 12 players again when Season Two starts.

The underdog rules are being changed for Season Two (trialled in the Ultimate game) that allow us to hire MVPs, coaching staff, cheerleaders etc as well as the free agents.

We’ve also got the opportunity to scrap the team and start again with a new one. I don’t think I’ll go that far – I’ve actually got a monkey with an extra rank, and almost the full complement of cards. It’ll be nice to follow them on a more long-term journey.

The Ultimate game also left us with huge piles of cash. I’m considering buying an MVP, but this is fraught with peril for Zees. They are vulnerable to ref check fouls, and takes away the point of playing a ridiculous team like the Zees if you actually hire a star player who is good at scoring. Maybe having a bruiser on the pitch would be a better idea, or maybe I’ll just stick with Riller to support the clones and provide some more power to the monkeys.

On with Season Two!

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Star Trek Episode Autopsy - Where No One has Gone Before

by paet the pagan-gerbil4. August 2014 08:00

What can I say about this episode? Not a lot. It was fun!

It touched sideways on an argument between anecdotal evidence versus scientific evidence and scepticism. Kasinsky is arrogant but misguided, and although his actual changes are meaningless he has evidence to back him up. It isn’t mentioned in the episode, but based on the circumstances that the changes had an effect on the engines, we can say with certainty that if someone had taken his published findings and tried them on a starship without his (and more specifically, the Traveller’s) help, they would find nothing to back him up. Of course, given Kasinsky’s arrogance, he would put this down immediately to people not doing it right, only he is able to do it properly, and so on.

This technobabble sets a disturbing precedent...

Riker and Argyle (the early, bearded chief engineer – or ‘one of’ them) are the voices of scepticism putting Kasinsky down. They’ve analysed it from a scientific point of view and find errors with the reasoning. Kasinsky isn’t smart enough to answer these, and doesn’t have the core scientific value of trying to prove himself wrong, or testing under neutral conditions. That being said, Riker and Argyle appear hostile to Kasinsky but let him try anyway. They didn’t really have an opportunity to be anything but hostile, given Kasinsky’s general demeanour towards them – rude, condescending, dismissive of rank and disrespectful. I think the crew’s attitude is entirely justified. Actually, I think quietly stuffing him out of an airlock is entirely justified.

If Kasinsky is the only person who could make these changes work, is he planning to visit every starship and upgrade it personally? Did the other starships see continued improvement once the Traveller had left?

Like a cosmic hitch-hiker.

How did the Traveller end up with Kasinsky anyway? Kasinsky was investigating ways to get warp engines to run better. He presumably didn’t see results until the Traveller became his assistant, but how does a non-Starfleet person, a civilian, join a Starfleet research project? Was the Traveller involved in any research institute, hoping to hitch a lift on board starships? If his goal is to explore, finding Kasinsky seems like a roundabout way to do so. Maybe he only approached Kasinsky once there was a trial beginning to test his theories, or maybe Kasinsky was already doing his research on a travelling starship.

Other Captains

How would this have played on Deep Space Nine? They don’t  really have engines, just ‘reaction control thrusters’ to move the station nearer to the wormhole in the first episode. The Defiant is the only ship with a warp engine. I can see O’Brien wanting to punch Kasinsky for his attitude – considering how Kasinsky treats Commander Riker, I can’t see him appreciating O’Brien’s authority (as an NCO) or later in the series, Rom’s (as a Ferengi working for the Bajorans!) Worf would actually hit him. He would guard the Defiant's engine room with a bat'leth to stop Kasinsky getting near it (especially with knowledge of the Enterprise's encounter...)

That being said, I think Sisko would overrule any misgivings based on personal feelings (O’Brien and Rom can be petty) and allow the changes to be made. Kira would have broken his nose in about ten minutes – twenty in later series, when she mellowed out a bit.

Given that the Defiant is more for defence of the station and engine efficiency is not the key point of the Defiant (officially – escort vessel, design brief – to battle the Borg), as well as the fact that it has a really convenient way of getting halfway across the galaxy faster than Kasinsky’s changes – it’s probably end of the queue for any changes.

Janeway would not hesitate to do anything that might make her engines a little bit faster. B’elanna would punch Kasinsky in the face if he treated her as anything less than chief engineer (let’s not forget, she never finished the academy and is a wanted terrorist). Seven of Nine would definitely need a chat with Janeway before she’d even work with Kasinsky, after the first antisocial encounter. His enhancements would probably not match whatever Borg magic she pulled anyway. How Kasinsky gets to the Delta quadrant to offer these enhancements, I don’t know – if he’s an alien, maybe there’d be a little more scepticism and mistrust from the crew.

In the second half of the episode, the problem is not Kasinsky’s stinking attitude – it is getting the ship home safely. I can’t help but think that with the parallels between Wesley’s inherent understanding of space and Sisko’s inherent understanding of time (as the Emissary) could give the spark of realisation a little sooner – the Prophets would give a little hint, perhaps, but Sisko would lead everyone with varying degrees of reluctance depending on his acceptance of his Emissary status in believing themselves home. And Kira already has a belief you can power a starship with, that will be proven right here. Dax and O’Brien might find it more difficult, as Dax is a hardcore scientist, and O’Brien is a very literal person. That being said, he’d already lived through this somewhere on the Enterprise (although I don’t remember seeing him in the episode)…

One fun thing to imagine is how rich Quark would be once he saw that belief (and he has incredible belief in his own abilities as a businessman and entitlements as a person, even without adding Rom’s faith in him to that) becomes real. The look on his face when it all vanishes too, would be absolutely priceless.

Voyager was a much less spiritual show. I only see Chakotay as being the one to start ‘believing’ them home, and maybe the crew would go along with it? There are so many scientific, literal people on the ship it might be hard to generate enough good will past the scepticism. How would Tuvok fall on the issue? B’elanna believes what she sees, Seven even more so, Tom is naturally cynical of everything and Harry questions everything. Janeway has a scientific scepticism – I remember one episode where she could not progress until she accepted something that wasn’t scientifically sound or reasonable, and spent days looking for the ‘trick’. So much of Voyager took beliefs, such as Chakotay’s, and any number of Delta Quadrant aliens and reduced them to an explainable, scientific curiosity. Could the crew then get behind an apparently unscientific belief?

That’s not why I don’t like thinking about Voyager facing this situation though. The reason I don’t like it is because they will be moved to the furthest galaxy we know, and I know they would be returned to exactly where they began, give or take a month’s travel. The whole episode would be entirely pointless and not cut any time off of Voyager’s journey at all.

Conclusion

Nice strong episode, no science to trip them up and a good example of ‘there’s amazing things out there that we don’t understand’, a bit of optimism about humanity’s future, I liked it. The background story of Wesley being someone special is begun here, and I’ll try to remember to watch out for more indicators of this beyond the child prodigy he normally displays.

It’s also a good example of Wesley saving the ship without causing the problem in the first place. His role, like Deanna’s in The Last Outpost, is a little understated – he just pays attention and tries to get people to watch the Traveller and see what is happening.

  • Times Wesley saved the ship: 2
  • Times flung out of known space by bizarre entity: 1

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Doombar League - Games One to Three

by paet the pagan-gerbil9. July 2014 08:00

After the Vanguard Wargaming store closed permanently, the Bristol Vanguard club found a new home at the Old Duke pub in the centre. The parking is slightly harder but the public transport is much easier.

Also, it was time for a third league! This one is more organised than previous ones – the pairings are fixed, there is a two week time limit to get the game in, and while friendlies are allowed they won’t gain XP or cash. There are twelve teams split into two divisions, with a promotion/relegation mechanic at the end of a number of rounds. It’s also possible to permanently hire MVPs, although I’m not sure that I’ll ever get the money to be able to afford Riller (the only one worth taking for the Zees).

I took the Zees again to this one – I think in a league setting, with a bit of development, they can really shine. They’re obviously not as easy to play as some other teams but the victories are much, much sweeter.

Round One – vs Sam’s Nameless

Things started alright, in the first few turns I managed to avoid injury or sending off, and even scored a three-pointer! The tables quickly turned though and by the fifth rush I only had three players on the pitch. This is very, very bad. The score was only one point down for me, but with so few monkeys around it didn’t look good. It was at this point that I started to remember to roll for Monkey Business dice…

I brought the score back up to three points but the slow trickle of players back from the injury bench wasn’t going well. On top of that, Sam’s luck was coming back and he began to kill players – three had gone off the field by the end of the game. He took the score three points into his favour, and there was nothing I could do on the last turn to even mitigate that slightly.

So, Sentient Being of the Match went to a Nameless Sticky Guard and three Zee clones were recycled. I’ve decided to only replace one of them and buy an Offensive Coach – maybe that can help get me the scores when it looks good and call Defensive plays if it doesn’t. I’ll have to replace those missing Zees at some point – I’m only one credit away from getting another Zee which would bring me back to nine on the roster, and hopefully in my next game I can get at least back to the starting ten.

Game Two vs Stu (Pale Marys, S2 Corporation)

Having gone back to the clone farm to pick up a new recruit and hiring an assistant coach (offensive), the team went on to the next fixture - the Pale Marys, on top of the first division after round one.

Being an underdog, I got a Nameless guard (sticky) as a free agent to help out. The danger with free agents in a Zee team is that they might be sent off, but I was lucky this time around. A sticky guard is a really great addition to a Zee team, especially one that is down a couple of players.

The game went OK (no-one died, on either side) and my strong-Zee picked up more experience as my only score of the game but I still lost by 4 points. The sticky guard really shook things up and I think it used it to best effect. I didn't Slam much, but he as able to hold players in place and prevent the human guard from causing too much damage.

The final turn, I had the choice of a 3 point score to lose by one (on two dice), or a four point score to get a draw (on one dice). I figured a draw was infinitely better than a loss, and a loss by one isn't much better than a loss by four. Having thought about it since, maybe the minor loss would have been better for the league tie breakers, but any chance at a win should have been taken (even though I still had the unfinished problem with scoring again in Sudden Death...) because that's Dreadball!

With my underdog 'winnings', I replaced another of my clones to put me back at 9 players. I'd like to buy some cards, but at the speed the Zees go out of the game I need plenty of spares.

Game Three vs Tom (Woolwich Armourers, S1 Corporation)

Going into the third game, I was bottom of the league thanks to my 'risk it all' attitude in the last game. I picked up an Asterian Guard as a Free Agent, which could be useful.

The game was very close, Tom was very good at keeping players off of the pitch and rolling good ref checks. The Asterian guard used their Dirty Tricks twice (thanks to a card) while a Vigilant Ref was in play but only managed to send one player off.

I managed to get the ball to the far end a few times, but Tom had great use of Running Interference cards to block me whenever I looked close to scoring. On the other hand, he failed an appalling number of pick-ups, catches and throws. Incredibly good luck with his good plays, and incredibly bad luck on the game-winning ones.

Picking up tons more cash thanks to the underdog bonus (17mc!) I now have a choice between buying cards or players. I do find that with only nine players I am finding it hard to keep more than six on the pitch at a time, but I also need the additional cards to give me more options in the turn. In the end, I decided on a bit of both - one card and one Jack.

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Cardiff League – Conclusion

by paet the pagan-gerbil25. June 2014 08:00

My first four games in the league have been good so far – my first experiences against the Robots at the top of the rankings, which I think may have been orchestrated to get me a head-start on income since I was inheriting a poor, downtrodden team with no experience. This catapulted me to a high enough team ranking that I couldn’t get MVPs or Free Agents any more, and the second two games (Corporation and Teratons) ended in wins to the monkeys.

I’ve missed one game so far, the player has been MIA from the Facebook page and the club and everyone seems to be waiting on them for a game (that explains why ‘weeks five to nine’ would be five games, not four…).

Game 5 – Home vs the Wrong-Tech 69ers (S1 Corporation)

This game went awfully for my opponent. I actually managed to turn up in person, intending to play someone else but I ended up playing one of my missed games from a previous week since I could start a little earlier and be sure to catch the train.

Having twelve Zees available really helped, but I wasn’t able to get all of them on the pitch at the same time. My luck was up exactly when I needed it and two Zees scored 4-pointers. The cheerleader was placed on the score track again but was never used, and I ended up scoring a landslide in the thirteenth rush. Luke managed to score a three pointer, killed a Zee and injured a couple of others. That got his Guard the Strength upgrade he was holding out for and his Striker (already a superstar) getting on the cusp of another rank. The underdog bonus also favoured him, getting almost twice as much in income as I got!

The End?

At this point, a ‘break’ was announced and an offer for someone else to run the league for a while. I had two more opponents to play, but having altered my hours slightly in work I was finding it harder to get to the club and one of those opponents has been completely absent for a while. It looks like momentum has dropped out of this league as well, and the results haven’t even gone up.

Conclusions

I found this league more enjoyable than the previous leagues I’ve played in. The big difference is that instead of being a completely open format, the Pathfinder running it was very hands-on. You could play friendlies, but the league games were set at a rate of one per week, and it was arranged for you. I’m not sure whether this was randomly determined of the ‘remaining matches’ or if there was an algorithm to determine who was best placed. It was good for me coming in late to play against a team as far as ahead as the robots I played, because the underdog bonus catapulted me ahead.

The other nice thing was the pace. Both leagues were double-round-robin leagues, but where the Cardiff league set your matches for you one a week it gave an incentive to arrange and play the game. In Bristol, I was on the forum every week saying what days I was free and getting very few replies.

The only downside is the way that this league has ended – much the same as the previous ones I’ve been in, the momentum fizzled out (in Bristol, who knows why and in Cardiff, because the organiser took a break). In both of them there was no end, no event, nothing to mark the league as ‘over’ at all. Even in the Bristol leagues where the ‘last day to play’ was announced, it was after the league was already unofficially over and the date came and went with nothing really happening at all.

So what are you going to do about it?

Well, I don’t know if I can play a league in Cardiff again. It’s not easy to fit around family and travel and things. I enjoy the team progression of a league format – the standard 120TR tournament format is nice, but there’s no growth from game to game. There’s no feeling of ‘ooh, my star player just levelled up again’ or ‘let the rookie take the shot’.

I might even start a long-form league between friends, since we can get together for a day and play a few games together it should be possible to make a lot of progress in short bursts.

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Welsh Regional Tournament 2014

by paet the pagan-gerbil11. June 2014 08:00

There wasn’t really any way that I could miss this one, as last year’s winner. It almost looked like it had been cancelled too, as the local Pathfinder was no longer able to run it. I was offered the opportunity to both run it and play, and as I was planning on being there anyway it seemed like a simple enough deal!

I wouldn’t need to do any of the tricky stuff like arranging a venue, sorting tickets or prizes or anything like that, just sort out who plays who in each round and give out the toys at the end (provided by Mantic, given to me at the Open Day). In addition, since I was still allowed to play (and win – I checked).

This helped to decide my team for me – I was dithering between Nameless and Zees, since I’ve used them both this year and enjoyed them, but the Zees are quite a complex team and if I was going to be called by anyone else for rules queries, I didn’t want to have to cut a game short with my current opponent in order to answer a rules query for someone else. Not a lot of people have played with or against the Zees, and not everyone has the Season Three book, so quite a few people are unfamiliar with the way that they play and all their odd rules – they’d be likely to cause rules queries, and I didn’t want there to seem to be a conflict of interest. Finally, a Zees game can take a while (more rules, more decisions, less ability to score) and I wanted to have time to go around and take pictures, collect results and get the next round sorted out as early as possible. With all that involved, I figured the best choice was to take the Nameless. They have fairly well-known rules already, their errata and FAQ are very simple, no strange Running Interference, Teleport or Dirty Tricks to annoy people with obscure rulings, timings and loopholes.

Game One – Dan’s Brigstowe Raiders (S1 Corporation)

I started off well with a rematch of last week’s game in the Azure Forest tournament at the Open Day. This went much more my way with good rolls, and I hit a landslide win to take the game. I even managed to kill two models, putting on top in points, strike difference, kills and cheers!

Game Two – Oli’s Saltford Slappers (S2 Corporation)

My lead didn’t last long – Oli plays Running Interference perfectly, and held up all of my strike attempts. He did manage to take a win, putting him in the lead overall.

My Game Two

Game Two - Dan vs Andy

Game Three – Andy’s Arkham Harleyquinns (S2 Corporation)

I first played Andy back at the Bristol Megalofunotron, and he was the only player at the Welsh Regional who hadn’t come from Bristol! He travelled up from Exeter. He was even hotter on the Running Interference than Oli was, and took a landslide win in turn five.

Seeing as three of the four teams were painted by me and I was the organiser, I decided against giving a prize to 'best painted'.

I was feeling bashy on the day - this player saw a lot of action!

 

Game Four – Dan’s Brigstowe Raiders (S1 Corporation)

As there were only four players, we had to duplicate our results and I ended up playing Dan again for the final game. Again, I managed to take a landslide win – and so early, that we started off a friendly game – swapping sides to try out the opposite teams.

Oli gets serious for the last game, after being told it wasn't yet cut and dry victory...

Dan has a habit of doing this to people...

The moment where Andy cemented his win in all tie-break categories, just to be sure...I've heard from so many people that DreadBall tournaments are the friendliest around - I have to agree! Everyone had so much fun, winning and losing.

Results

It was slightly disappointing having a small field again, it would have been nice to have some of the guys from the Cardiff League turn up but unfortunately it was left a little unconfirmed until about three weeks before (hence my being drafted in to keep things running).

I managed to pull third place, Dan unfortunately had last (losing every game, as compared to his standing in the Open Day tournament). Oli and Andy were so close going into the last game that if it was a draw, Oli had won. If Andy won by two points or more, he had won. It went backwards and forwards all game, it could have gone either way.

It came right down to the last couple of dice of the game, and time ran out… It finished with three points to Andy, and his strike difference won the tie-breaker. In fact, cheers would have been identical if the final event of the game wasn’t ‘Bored Fans’, losing a fan check card and putting Andy on top there too.

It was a fantastic day, it was nice that everyone had a chance to play everyone else even though it was a low turnout. We all had a good laugh, the final game on the ‘top’ table was good and nail-biting (as is only proper).

I didn't get any sort of spoon, there were too many other prizes. Seasons One and Two for the loser!

Second place, and Oli chose the Season Three book to complete his set.

One champion hands over his title to the next... see you next year, Andy!

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Azure Forest Tournament May 2014

by paet the pagan-gerbil24. May 2014 08:00

I was pretty disappointed that the Open Day in May didn’t originally have a DreadBall tournament planned. The Open Day last year was the first tournament I’d ever been to, and got us both into the tournament thing. When first announced, they said ‘bring a team – get a few pick-up games.’ Coming from Bristol, it’s a pretty long way to go since we don’t play Kings of War, Deadzone, or any of the other Mantic games and we’re not likely to pick up new toys on impulse. Three hours drive each way, a B&B and getting babysitters for the weekend are just too much for a seminar which may talk about the games we’re really interested in and a look at the shiny DreadBall Xtreme models currently in development.

So when they finally announced the tournament at the event, I was over the moon. The fact that it’s an Azure Forest tournament is even better, as I like the changes it introduces. We may still miss the seminars (like we have previously) but I think they did a good job last time of trying to give everyone the chance to attend, and I’ve heard that this year there’s a seminar specifically for event participants timed around the games so we should be able to have a look this time.

The Gang

In the 2013 ManticBowl, Jen and I went on our own. For the November Charity Tournament, we managed to drag Oli up to Nottingham too. This May, Oli was busy but we convinced Dan and Chris to come along with us. Both are new to DreadBall, have played a couple of games each, and convinced they are going to come last but at least only one of them can! At the last second, Jen got ill and wasn’t able to attend – but the other three of us were on our way.

Dan took the S1 Corporation team (the one Jen usually takes, since he had practiced with those and Jen wasn’t using them) and Chris took the Judwan, as he figured using a team of all Strikers would be less to remember. I painted up a Nameless team, putting my faith in extra ranks rather than cards. I put an ability on two Strikers (hoping to get Skill 3+) and an ability on each of my Sticky Guards (hoping to get 360 Vision, so I can sit them in the three-point Strike zone as a super-defender). Without cards, I’ll be vulnerable against bad weather events but hopefully that will be as much of a hindrance to my opponent.

Game One – Adam Cooper’s Crimson Corpse Creators (Marauders)

Adam and I have an Open Day history – we played in the first ManticBowl (I beat him by a landslide), the Gamers For Life charity tournament (I beat him), and we were drawn first in this tournament. He took his Marauders again, and for the majority of the game the weather was ‘heat haze’ that lets us get away with fouls. Despite that, neither of us had to foul to get the advantage. My luck was awful here – I flubbed pick-ups, evades, dashes, and when I got there – strike attempts too. The game ended at a one point loss to me.

Game Two – Dan’s S1 Corporation

My second opponent, and again someone I’ve played before (since I taught him the game and brought him with me…) Again, my luck was foul. Dan managed to get me six points down – I pulled it back with a four-pointer. He jumped up to five points… I pulled it back to two… he got back to four points, and there we sat on his last turn. I’d just failed a strike attempt, so the ball was in the high-scoring zone with my Striker. He slammed me, I doubled the dodge and stepped onto the ball. Doubled the pick-up, threw the strike, and pulled it back to another one point loss in his turn (for a couple more fan checks). Still, not making great progress in the tournament.

Game Three – Charlotte’s Veer-myn

I met Charlotte at the 2013 Nationals back in March, but hadn’t played her. She’s the only other Veer-myn player that I’ve seen in a tournament, and was able to match me bad roll for bad roll. This was the first game that I rolled skill upgrades for my Strikers, so I was able to score quite easily. I killed a Guard and managed to get a landslide win! Quite a reverse from my other fortunes today.

Game Four – Nick’s Judwan

We suffered for most of the game with a Scorcher weather effect in play. It forced me to make more slams, and with less players, he was unable to use all five tokens most turns. It started off tit-for-tat scoring, but we both failed a few and I was getting my guards up to the full 3-pt defence to try and get some more opportunities. In the last couple of turns, I killed four Judwan – clearing out that nasty defence, failing every strike up there, and taking a two-point loss.

Conclusion

So with a barely-positive strike difference, I wasn’t anywhere near the top. There were 7/8/9 players total, probably because of the Open Day, Kings of War game, Deadzone campaign, Loka tournament, and everything else happening. Several people I’d seen playing previously were also working as Pathfinders on the day, so there’s some more potential players out.

I don’t think my plan was too bad, but the dice failed me on the day. I didn’t work hard enough to push my guards to the back to open my opponents defence, or maybe I need to write off the first couple of turns to just smash my opponent’s scoring potential. I’m still not sure I’ve worked out how to use the Nameless – or bashy teams in general – yet.

The overall winner was also using Nameless, and there was a third somewhere around that I hadn’t seen. Chris managed to take away the Wooden Spoon prize – a Rebs Starter Box for Deadzone!

The Open Day

I walked around the Open Day, but I didn’t really dip into anything other than the tournament. I went to the ‘tournament players’ scheduled seminar and heard a lot about Dwarf King’s Hold, but didn’t get into anything else. I had a quick chat with many people I’d seen at previous Open Days, which is great fun, and picked up the prizes for the Cardiff Regional next week. I was also just about coming down with something nasty that knocked me out of work for three days, so I think that affected my enjoyment on the day – I was exhausted, I didn’t bother taking any pictures (after promising myself that I would) and didn’t make the time to try anything out (Project Pandora and Deadzone were high on my list to sample between games). If I’d known the seminar would be dominated by Dwarf King’s Hold, I might have gone for another game or to have a better look at the ‘studio’ – a table with painter, sculptor, and lots of unfinished/pre-release models. I really regretted not talking to the Mantic painter, but didn’t realise this till later when I had the time to run the day through my brain and work out what I’d missed.

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Sinister Statue Skirmish

by paet the pagan-gerbil10. May 2014 08:00

I finally got around to playing a game of Warhammer with the new Dark Elves, against my regular opponent (once every year or two is regular, right?) with his Warriors of Chaos. We made it 3000 points, to get a few neat toys in, and stuck with the Pitched Battle to keep things simple.

We managed to remember a good deal of the rules between us, and everything just seemed to work the way that I intended. I took a horde of 30 Corsairs with a Battle Standard Bearer, a horde of 30 Witch Elves with the Cauldron of Blood, 10 Cold One Knights, 21 Black Guard, 3 Bolt Throwers, some crossbowmen and a Death sorceress (level 2), a Kharibdyss and finally Morathi as the general.

I was up against a Tzeentch force led by Vilitch the Curseling – there were some knights, a Fire wizard, two units of warriors, some Forsaken and Marauder Horsemen, a chariot, a Mutalith Vortex Beast, some Warhounds and a Hellcannon.

We placed a Bretonnian ruin, and grabbed a Buddy Christ dashboard ornament to sit inside it – flicking through the rulebook, this was designated a Sinister Statue and we completely forgot to roll for it about 30 seconds later. Still, it looked good.

On my left flank, the Warhounds kept running, rallying, regrouping, and running again from the Kharibdyss. By the time I got the hint and pulled it back to deal with other threats, it was almost too late to reach anything. It’s last action was to declare a charge against the Warriors with the Fire wizard, who fled right off the table. It never saw combat.

Morathi was extremely powerful. I took Dark magic, to get the maximum benefit, and loved the fact that all the little things that should work together did. The Hellcannon focused on destroying the Black Guard, while Morathi snuck behind the tightly packed lines and successfully cast Shroud of Despair. Just outside of the effect, the Cold One Knights destroyed the Chaos Chariot easily – causing a panic test in the Marauder Horsemen who were inside the Shroud’s bubble. The following turn,  another unit caused a panic test over there, and the effect just kept stacking… At the same time, outside of the effect, my Death wizard cast Doom and Darkness on the Chaos Knights while the bolt throwers caused casualties enough to make them run off. They probably would have gone off of the table, if I hadn’t taken Doom and Darkness off of them at that point, thinking it could do more good elsewhere.

It didn’t all go well for me – the Witch Elves were charged by the Vortex Beast, and dragged out of the way of being able to slam the fleeing Chaos general’s unit in the flank, Morathi was charged by the Hellcannon and needed to be rescued by the Cold One Knights, the Black Guard crumbled to the Forsaken and the Corsairs fell to the other unit of Warriors, who overran into a bolt thrower.

The Forsaken moved onto the Witch Elves, but they were destroyed in short order. Once the Hellcannon was dealt with, the Cold Ones charged Vilitch’s unit (now rallied) and broke it (even though Morathi’s second Shroud failed) and the Chaos Knights charged Morathi. The game was called at that point, as I still had more than half of my army and there was only the Warhounds and 2 Chaos Knights left, but I insisted that we finish the turn and the Chaos Knights finished Morathi off with that, so it wasn’t a complete rollover.

I think the main boost in that game was the Shroud of Despair scattering and disorganising the Chaos lines, and being pleasantly surprised that Morathi isn’t too bad in combat. In particular, her Leadership test for Enchanting Beauty (designed to be failed) along with the Shroud of Despair (everyone suffers from failing Leadership tests) means that you could end up with a big penalty to a unit’s Leadership, for crossbows or bolt throwers to force a panic test in.

On the Warriors side, the Chaos knights did alright to kill Morathi (even with that crippling penalty), and the Hellcannon did impressive damage against the Black Guard in a single shot. I think the top unit had to be the Warhounds for getting the Kharibdyss out of the game, essentially, and being the only Chaos unit to not suffer a single wound.

So what do I think of the new Dark Elves? The magic I used was mostly the subtle stuff, but in concert with other effects it was devastating. Getting everything lined up, in the right place and at the right time, might be a challenge if the opponent knows what is coming though. Murderous Prowess was a nice bonus, and occasionally gave me an extra wound, but nothing special. Always Strikes First is a massive boost, much better than Hatred was in the previous version. The Dark Magic lore attribute was too difficult to remember, and feels a little weak for what it does. Maybe if I wasn’t using Morathi, I’d be throwing more dice at spells and then would be doing a little more with it, but by the time I remembered that ‘hey, I have a lore attribute!’ I only cast a couple more small spells and didn’t get a double or triple to trigger it.

I wasn’t too impressed with the Cauldron of Blood. It’s a nice Ward save for the Witch Elves, and makes them a little more deadly in combat, but I didn’t get into any big units to really try that out in this game. It’s a very expensive way of boosting Witch Elves as well, being 200+ points of Hero allocation. In a smaller game, I don’t know that I could justify it.

Next time, I would either repeat the Shroud of Despair with a Bloodwrack Shrine nearby to try and really force the issue, or I’ll replace the ‘powerful wizard’ magic with some Doomfire Warlocks, and completely swap the subtle stuff for the big blasty stuff. Hopefully, the next game will be less than 12 months away…

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