Friday, 28 December 2012

Another full army shot

It's become a habit for me to take a photo every 6 months or so of my Empire army, to show how it has progressed. It's been about 6 months since the last shot, so I figured it was time once more, as the new year approaches.

Unfortunately the photo is not exactly a work of art. I was about to pack up the army into cases so that I could move it in preparation for the Hel Fenn game, and was a bit pressed for time. I still hope to get better at shots like this, but I really need to give myself more time if I want things to turn out properly. The green in the corners is me blotting out all the junk I had sitting in the background...
My Empire army, which is getting pretty big by now.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

From the vault: Judicious Rulings

A discussion on WargamerAU prompted a friend to ask me what had happened to an article I wrote a long time ago on the club website (it was 2006, apparently). Seems like a good time to dig it up again...

A standard game of Warhammer is between 2 players. However, sometimes there are more than 2 people influencing the outcome of the game...
Recently a player was telling me about a game of Warhammer that he had watched at the club. This game was between two regular opponents, one of whom had always won in the past. Naturally everyone was expecting the same result this time round, but this time things turned out differently. The game was close, and at a critical juncture in the game, a bystander pointed out to the underdog that he was calculating his combat resolution incorrectly. As a result of this revelation, the player went on to record a historic victory. It also upset the eventual loser of the game, who felt that the game had only been won because of outside intervention. Was the bystander right to point out the underdog's mistake?

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Planning Hel Fenn

The artwork for the Battle of Hel Fenn, as found in the Empire at War source book
I've written a number of times about my intention to recreate the Battle at the Gates of Kislev, and how this is one of the driving forces behind my continued efforts in painting my Empire army. It's a long road if I am to get the army to the size I want, and the game has now been a long time coming. Discussing this with my friends, we came to the conclusion that we needed some sort of stepping stone rather than simply going all-out at some ultimate and still far-distant target (after all, the Kislev battle is meant to be the largest ever seen in the Old World). Thus we started to consider other, more achievable targets for the near future. And we came up with a plan. We would recreate the Battle of Hel Fenn.

I suspect most Warhammer players will have at least heard of this battle, even if they don't know all the details. Indeed, as with all such "historical" encounters in the game, the actual details are a bit vague, and tend to conflict depending upon where you read them. But there are some basic details that are consistent, and those are what we shall work with.

Hel Fenn came at the end of more than a decade of conflict known as the Winter War, in which Mannfred Von Carstein had invaded the Empire with his undead army and unsuccessfully attacked both Marienburg and Altdorf. Pursued by a combined army of the Empire and the Dwarfs, Mannfred eventually turned to fight at Hel Fenn, within the borders of Sylvania. In the ensuing battle, Mannfred met his demise at the hands of Count Martin of Stirland, and his army was destroyed.

Depending upon which version you read, there may have been High Elves present as well, or the Archmage Finreir may have been using his great powers to assist the allied forces from afar. Some accounts have the Dwarfs arriving late to the battle, and likewise some of the Empire army, including the Knights of the Divine Sword.

Mannfred was eventually cut down by Count Martin's Runefang, however you would normally expect a Vampire to be able to handle a mere human general. Martin's triumph may have been caused by Mannfred's exhaustion from controlling a vast army of the dead in the field, or it may have been brought about by the intervention of a third party - a rogue Vampire named Jerek Von Carstein, who had once been Grand Master of the White Wolves (other accounts state that Jerek was never raised into undeath, and his corpse was found at the foot of cliffs around Middenheim, drained of blood).

As you can see, the variety of accounts leaves things a bit open to interpretation. We'll be keeping things relatively simple, as there will be enough interest in the game due to its sheer size. The game will be 20,000 points per side of fully painted models, making it one of the largest games I've ever heard of, and it should make for quite the battle report. 

The models will come from 6 different owners and involve a variety of colour schemes, which largely dictates the unit types and sizes that will be used. I collated what we had available and arranged it into usable forces, which should help things work on the day. One point to note in this battle is that it was in the year 2145 - some 150 years before the formation of the Colleges of Magic. As a result, the Empire army contains no wizards.

Below is the "player pack" that we will use for the game. It will be taking place on the 30th/31st of this month, so this is no long-term pipe dream - it's happening in less than 2 weeks...

Owen has been busily preparing terrain specifically for the battle, and has also found time to whip up the logo you see below:

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Paint your wagon!

In my previous post I discussed the creation of my wagon unit filler for my Stirland halberdiers. Well, now it's painted! 
Finished surgeon's wagon unit filler
In my previous update I only had a basic wagon and an untextured base to show for my efforts, so obviously there have been a few things done to the model before paint could be applied. Here are some shots of the thing during assembly.
The assembled wagon from the left. The horse's harness was kept simple, rather than trying to include chain or anything fancy like that.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Print your wagon

My recently completed Stirland Halberdiers were painted without the inclusion of any unit fillers. 42 models, no filler. This was not because I didn't want to include a filler, but rather because I had only vague plans in terms of what I wanted to put in there, and the schedule of Duelling Paintbrushes didn't give me time to fiddle. Many of my Krakenberg (purple and white) units will include customised Ogre unit fillers, however I didn't want to continue that theme through to forces included from other provinces. It's meant to help reinforce the difference between the Krakenberg forces and those used by the rest of the Empire. Instead I figured I would go with an older plan I had - to include carts and wagons of various types in the units, being protected by the soldiers. These would then also give me the chance to stage scenarios involving the defence of caravans and the like, which I liked the sound of.

So then, I would need wagons. Games Workshop have at various times produced a number of different carts and carriages, however they're all pretty difficult to come by now, and prohibitively expensive. Nothing else jumped out at me as a cheap and viable solution, so instead I decided to give Pete's 3D Printer another try (or rather, to get Pete to give the machine a try. I stay back at a safe distance and wait for the magic to happen). This wondrous contraption makes things out of practically nothing, and we've already used it to make a few Wolfygryph bases and the plinth for my War Altar. The wagons would be a more ambitious project, and rather exciting.

The first step was to try to plan the thing out in Sketchup, designing each individual component I would need. I had a rough idea of how large I wanted it to be, and some Google image searches gave me a reference point. So I did my best to put the plan into action.
My Sketchup 3D wagon model, in a state of confusion and disrepair

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Duelling Paintbrushes 2 - the violent finale

When we commenced Duelling Paintbrushes last month, it was suggested that at the end, participants would bring their painted 1000 point armies along and use them against each other in a game. This idea was not abandoned, and on the weekend we got the chance to follow through on that plan. Thus was born Duelcon, which would consist of a round-robin event between Owen (of Terrain for Hippos), Drew (of Back in Drew's Day) and me - the only people that successfully painted at least 1000 points of Warhammer Fantasy during the challenge.

Owen got a little carried away and even devised a player pack of sorts for our little event, which you can see here (spoiler alert: it also contains the results). Note that the points limit was increased to 1150 points at Drew's request, because true to form he only read half of the original Duelling Paintbrushes terms and it didn't occur to him at the time that he might want magic items and the like for when he played with the finished 1000 point force.

Epic contest that this promised to be, we figured we would take some photos. I'm not going to go into a proper battle report for the games, but I'll let you know what was going on in the captions.

Here are the final lists:

Me: Empire Stirland

  • Wizard Lord (Level 4, Lore of Fire) with Talisman of Preservation, Dispel Scroll
  • Warrior Priest with Great Weapon, Armour of Meteoric Iron
  • Captain with Great Weapon, Full Plate Armour, Dragonhelm, Obsidian Trinket
  • 41 Halberdiers with Standard, Musician (the Champion got sucked off to act as a Captain to help fill out the extra 150 points)
  • 16 Crossbowmen with Standard
  • 5 Pistoliers with Champion with Repeater Pistol
  • Great Cannon

Drew: Orcs and Goblins (who fancy themselves as Wood Elves)

  • Goblin Great Shaman (Level 3) with Dispel Scroll
  • Black Orc BSB on Boar with Shield
  • 30 Orc Arrer Boyz with Standard, Musician
  • 20 Night Goblin Archers with Full Command, 3 Fanatics, Nets
  • 6 Trolls
  • Giant

Owen: Skaven of Clan Skitterclaw

  • Warlord on Great Pox Rat with Talisman of Preservation, Weeping Blade
  • Warlock Engineer (Level 1)
  • 25 Clanrats with Spears, Shields, Full Command, Warpfire Thrower
  • 25 Clanrats with Shields, Full Command, Poisoned Wind Mortar
  • 20 Stormvermin with Shields, Full Command
  • 3 Rat Ogres with 1 Packmaster
  • Doomwheel

Game 1: Empire vs Orcs and Goblins

Game 1 deployment. The Pistoliers used Vanguard to move past the forest before the game commenced

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

2012 Australian Masters - Day 2

This is the second half of my account of the Masters tournament I attended last weekend. You can find the first half of it here.

Game 4: Sealed Section
Casey Tabner, Dark Elves
Supreme Sorceress, (Level 4, Lore of Shadow) with Darkstar Cloak, Talisman of Preservation
Sorceress (Level 2, Lore of Metal) with Lifetaker, Tome of Furion
Death Hag (BSB) on Cauldron of Blood
Master on Dark Pegasus with Heavy Armour, Cloak of Hag Graef, Dawnstone
11 Repeater Crossbowmen with Champion
11 Repeater Crossbowmen with Champion
39 Dark Elf Spearmen with Shields, Full Command
5 Dark Riders with Musician, Repeater Crossbows, Spears
5 Harpies
5 Harpies
29 Har Ganeth Executioners with Full Command, Banner of Eternal Flame
War Hydra
Reaper Bolt Thrower
Reaper Bolt Thrower

Comp score: 1.5/5

Casey is normally a Skaven player, but she would be using Zac's Dark Elf army against me. For my part, I had inherited Sam's Chaos Dwarfs:

Sorcerer-Prophet (Level 4, Lore of Death) on Bale Taurus with Charmed Shield, Earthing Rod, Talisman of Preservation
Infernal Castellan (BSB) with Shield, Mask of the Furnace, Luckstone
Daemonsmith Sorcerer (Level 2, Lore of Metal) with Chalice of Blood and Darkness
20 Hobgoblin Cutthroats with Full Command, Bows, Light Armour, Shields
20 Hobgoblin Cutthroats with Standard, Musician, Bows, Light Armour, Shields
32 Chaos Dwarf Infernal Guard with Full Command, Great Weapons, Lichebone Pennant
Deathshrieker Death Rocket 
K'daai Destroyer 

Comp score: 1/5

I'm not going to lie to you - when I saw the match-up and had a look at the Dark Elf army list, I figured I had no business losing this game. It was a horrible match for the Elves - the K'dai Destroyer presented a massive headache for which the army had no real answers. The shooting was unlikely to threaten it, the only spell that might hurt it (Pit of Shades) relied on it failing an Initiative 5 test, and the Executioners were flaming, so granted it a 2+ ward save. The only real chance of killing it would be Mindrazor on the Spearmen, using Mystifying Miasma AND Pit of Shades, or (maybe) knocking 3 off its Toughness with The Withering before shooting it - not an ideal scenario. The Bale Taurus was almost as bad, and the Chaos Dwarfs would be well capable of dealing damage to the Dark Elves in return. All in all, this game was a bit of a gift for me.
Game 4 deployment (well, soon after)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

2012 Australian Masters - Day 1

Well the weekend is over (actually, by the time I am posting this, it's already Wednesday morning) and I survived another whirlwind trip to Canberra for this year's Australian Masters event. After a weekend with plenty of gaming, karaoke and too little sleep, I'm just a bit tired. But it's time for another tournament report - this one with more pictures than ever before! I might actually be getting better at this...

For those not familiar with the Masters, it's a tournament with a unique format. Comp scores are determined by the players, with all the lists being collated and sent out prior to the event. The 3 highest and lowest scores were discarded, and the scores were then averaged out and attached to the armies, rather than the players? Why is this an important distinction? Because in rounds 3 and 4, players use the army belonging to someone else, drawn randomly out of a hat. So for those rounds you get the comp score associated with the list you draw, rather than the one you arrived with at the start of the event. These 2 rounds are referred to as the "sealed section", and are the real distinguishing feature of the event.

I've already revealed the details of my Empire list here. It received a comp score of 2.5 out of 5, so was considered about mid-range in terms of strength. Having said that, a number of people expressed their admiration for the list going into the event, and declared that it should be strong enough for me to do well. If people were to be believed, the list had the goods. In that case the only remaining question marks were around the player...

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Duelling Paintbrushes 2 - finished!

Well, it's the morning of Friday the 30th November, and I'm already at work. I get on a plane to Canberra this afternoon, so that means I am officially out of time for Duelling Paintbrushes 2. But that's OK, because I am finished! And I was successful! Well, sort of...

My success here is only partial. I did manage to paint a legal 1000 point Empire army in a month, which was my original stated intention. However, the finished product is not the same as the one I announced at the beginning. I realised pretty early on that my original target was overly ambitious, and there was no way I was ever going to get it done. I kept painting however, and about a week ago I decided that I could still hit the 1000 point mark if I just reshuffled my target a bit. So out went a couple of characters and 20 Free Company, and in came a Great Cannon and a couple of magic items.
My completed 1000pt Stirland force. Excuse the poor picture; I was in a hurry this morning
My 1000 point legal force is as follows:

  • Wizard Lord (Level 3) with Talisman of Endurance, Warrior Bane (oh yeah, baby! The weakest of magic weapons for the fighter least deserving to get one)...
  • Warrior Priest with great weapon, Armour of Meteoric Iron
  • 42 Halberdiers with full command
  • 16 Crossbowmen with standard bearer
  • 5 Pistoliers with musician, outrider with repeater pistol
  • Great Cannon

TOTAL: 996 points

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Duelling Paintbrushes II - Pistoliers done! (4th update)

The final week of Duelling Paintbrushes II continues, and last night I had the rare opportunity to spend about 5 hours straight at the painting table as my wife was at work and our son was with his grandmother. I sat down at 6pm, and apart from a couple of breaks for food, I painted solidly through to 11:30 at night. And what do I have to show for it? 5 completed Pistoliers.

I took a couple of progress shots, but they're not terribly interesting. I just thought I might track things and pay attention to how long it actually took me to paint them. 
6pm: 5 Pistoliers, unpainted except for the bases (which I sneakily did last thing the previous night)
8:30pm. By this point I probably wasted half an hour eating, so this is about 2 hours of work. The horses and their leather components are painted, the metal bits are painted and washed, and I've done the green basecoat

Monday, 26 November 2012

Duelling Paintbrushes II - 3rd update

November is rapidly disappearing; we are now into the final week of Duelling Paintbrushes II. My updates have been few and far between this time around, however I have still been trying to make steady progress so that I would at least have something to report. And that's what this is - a progress report!

It's been more than a week since my last progress update, but it's taken me that long to reach the target I set out then. I have completed the final wave of 16 Stirland Halberdiers. This means I now have 42 in the unit. It's not enough for an effective unit in a proper battle, however with a decent unit filler the regiment will be a good, solid size.
The final 16 Halberdiers rank up for the camera

All 42 Halberdiers, somewhat tediously ranked up together. These current plastics really don't line up all that well, especially when most of them were assembled by a previous owner...

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Once more to Masters

To war!
The year's end is fast approaching, which also means we've reached the conclusion of the Warhammer tournament season. This means the Masters, which will be held in Canberra on the weekend of December 1st-2nd. That's only a week and a half away now. My strong finish to the year with Axemaster means that I've wound up ranked 3rd in the country, so I'll be making the trip for the second year running.

Rather than building an army list from scratch for the event, I decided that I might as well stick with the formula that worked well at Axemaster. I had to trim 100 points off due to the 2400pt limit at the Masters, but that wasn't too hard. This is what my list looks like now:
  • Arch Lector on War Altar with Great Weapon; Heavy Amour; Shield; Talisman of Preservation; Van Horstman's Speculum
  • Wizard Lord (Level 4 Lore of Light) with White Cloak of Ulric
  • 1 Captain of the Empire on Barded Warhorse with Full Plate Armor; Battle Standard; Charmed Shield; Talisman of Endurance; Biting Blade
  • 50 Halberdiers with Standard; Musician; Sergeant
    • Detachment: 5 Archers
  • 9 Knights of the Inner Circle with Lance; Shield; Standard; Musician
  • 24 Flagellants 
  • 4 Demigryph Knights with Lance; Shield; Standard; Musician
  • Great Cannon
  • Celestial Hurricanum
  • Steam Tank 

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Duelling Paintbrushes II - 2nd update

After my rather poor start to the painting challenge this month, I now have some momentum up. Not enough that I'm likely to actually achieve my original target, but I might now get to the point where I am not too embarrassed...

After finishing the 16 Crossbowmen during the week (Tuesday night, I think), I then started to tackle the Halberdier horde. My first batch was only 10 models, and I managed to get them done by the end of Thursday. I then decided that I'd much rather finish the unit in 2 more batches rather than 3, so on Friday I started to paint 16 more of them. Late last night (Sunday), I declared them finished.
26 Halberdiers. A bit of static grass will brighten their bases a bit, but I'll do that at the end of the challenge.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Duelling Paintbrushes II - 1st update

This will be a bit of an experiment, as my computer is currently busy doing other things, so I'm posting from my phone. Bear with me...

Well, my start to Duelling Paintbrushes has not been everything I might have hoped. After setting myself a very steep target, I shot out of the gate and got 16 Crossbowmen mostly painted within a couple of days. Then I stalled. There were things on, and I didn't find any time to sit down at the painting table. Then Halo 4 came out on the 6th. I really should have factored that into my plans. Oh well. Anyway, that lost me a few evenings.

I'm actually away on holiday for a few days at the moment, and I am only now getting any real progress made. And we're already halfway through November. I am quietly admitting to myself that there is now no way that I am going to achieve my ambitious target. Nevertheless I shall soldier on and try to put a serious dent in the tally.

I'm reasonably happy with how the first unit has come out. They're also effectively my test models for the yellow and green Stirland scheme. The approach was fairly simple - the yellow with Iyanden Darksun, washed with Devlan Mud, then highlighted with Golden Yellow. Yes, I am still living in the past, using the old paints (or their Vallejo equivalents). The green is a similar approach - Dark Angel Green, Devlan Mud and a Snot Green highlight. None of it is fancy, but it will do the trick.

The next target is the large Halberdier unit. I've decided to do them 10 at a time, and the first batch is underway. Only 32 more to go... Sigh.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Quiz: Are you a wargamer?

I found this quiz on a couple of other blogs (Napalm Elf & Rebel Scum was where I spotted it first), and thought it would be a bit of fun. Here is how I did...

To genuinely call yourself a Wargamer, then you must have done most or all of the following:

Spent at least $1000 on figures/vehicles/monsters and you get extra kudos for every $1000 you've spent
Ah, well. Starting strongly here, I see. I would say that over the last 22 years I've probably spent $10,000 on models. It's not even that much when you space it out on a yearly basis, but it sure adds up. (10 points)

Covered your fingers in layers of superglue to the point where you can no longer bend themI'm normally a bit more restrained than that, but it has happened. And sometimes fingers are used to rescue other more valuable things when things go wrong... (1 point)

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Duelling Paintbrushes 2: It begins

Today is the 1st of November, which means it's the first day of the second edition of Duelling Paintbrushes. I've been a bit lax in the lead-up to this, so I'm still yet to commit to my plans. Well, time to rectify this. Here is what I plan to paint in the next month:

  • General of the Empire on foot
  • Warrior Priest on foot
  • Battle Wizard on foot
  • Witch Hunter on foot
  • 42 Halberdiers
  • 20 Free Company
  • 16 Crossbowmen
  • 5 Pistoliers

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Axemaster 2012 Aftermath - Day 2

This is the second part of my 2-post account of Axemaster. You can find the other here.

I had come off day 1 feeling a bit flat to be honest. I don't know what it was. Maybe I was just tired from getting nowhere near enough sleep for the past couple of nights (I was up until midnight rolling truffles the night before, then we got to the venue at 7am to start setting up). Speaking of truffles, this is why I was making unhealthy food in the middle of the night:
Black forest cake, cupcakes, truffles, donuts, jelly shots, energy drink... Everything a growing gamer needs to keep growing (in the wrong direction)
It had been decreed in the player pack that bonus points were available for anyone who baked/prepared cake or some similar food and brought it to share on the day. Nick got this idea from a tournament he attended in Germany, and it seemed to be a hit. Even if it did cost some of us sleep.

Oh, and I said I would include a photo of my army in this post. Well I went and took it the other night, then realised (when it was far too much hassle to go and re-take it) that I had missed the biggest model, the Hurricanum. I am a stupidhead.
My army, minus the Celestial Hurricanum, which had gotten lost on the way to the photo shoot.
You'd think it would be hard to miss, right? Duh...
Anyway, on with the tournament. 

Celestial Hurricanum finished

I was hoping to post the second half of my Axemaster report today, but I found myself a bit busy and it's not done yet. Instead, you will have to make do with pictures of my most recent painting effort, the Celestial Hurricanum. This thing was part of my army at Axemaster, although technically it wasn't quite finished. I've added a couple of last touches now, and am happy to declare it done.
The Hurricanum doesn't share my army's colour scheme - I figure it's purely affiliated with the Celestial college

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Axemaster 2012 Aftermath - Day 1

Axemaster is over for another year, and now that I've had a day to recover, it's probably time for me to start writing a report before I completely forget what happened...
The tournament about to kick off
I've posted my list before, but I'll repeat it here for convenience. I received a 12/20 for comp (scores for everything were doubled in the event in order to avoid rounding and decimals, so you'll find the games were out of 40 instead of 20, and the comp scores out of 20 instead of 10). Axemaster used comp-battle, where you take the difference between the two comp scores, halve it, and apply it as a modified to both battle scores (so higher comp adds half, lower comp subtracts half). Overall scores for the round were capped at 0 and 40.

Arch Lector on War Altar
     General; Prayers of Sigmar; Great Weapon; Light Armour; 
     Talisman of Preservation
     Van Horstman's Speculum

Wizard Lord of the Light Order
     Magic Level 4; 
     White Cloak of Ulric
     Fencer's Blades

Captain of the Empire
     Barding; Full Plate Armor; Battle Standard; Warhorse
     Charmed Shield
     Talisman of Endurance
     Biting Blade

51 Halberdiers
     Standard; Musician; Sergeant
     Detachment - 6 Archers

9 Knights of the Inner Circle
    Standard; Musician; Barding; Shields; Lances
     Banner of the Eternal Flame

28 Flagellants

4 Demigryph Knights 
     Standard; Musician; Barding; Shields; Lances

Great Cannon

Celestial Hurricanum

Steam Tank

TOTAL: 2498 points

If 12/20 seems like a pretty high comp score, that is because everyone across the field was slightly higher than you might expect. I felt my list was fairly strong, with good synergies and answers for most things. It was competitive. I haven't taken a photo of my army yet, but I'll make sure there's one on the report for day 2.

Round 1 - Glood and Glory
David Lowe (High Elves)

Archmage (L4 Shadow) with Folariath's Robe, Talisman of Saphery
Noble (BSB) with Armour of Caledor, Dawnstone, Great Weapon, Longbow
Mage (L2 Life) with Annulian Crystal
32 Sea Guard with Full Command
10 Archers with Musician
10 Archers with Musician
20 Phoenix Guard with Full Command, Razor Standard
20 Phoenix Guard with Full Command, Banner of Arcane Protection
5 Dragon Princes with Standard, Musician, Banner of Swiftness
5 Dragon Princes with Standard, Musician

Comp Score: 16/20

Monday, 15 October 2012

Axemaster and beyond

This coming weekend sees me involved in yet another tournament. Axemaster will most likely be the last event on the local calendar. This is probably a good thing, as I'm about ready for a break. I always make resolutions to step back and attend fewer tournaments, then end up getting caught up in the social aspect of things when lots of other people are going.

Axemaster will also be the final tournament to be included in the rankings system for this year, along with Castle Assault which is running at the same time up in New South Wales. The push to make Masters will be extremely tight this time - it looks like there are at least 8 players at Axemaster who could make the cut if they finish on the podium. 8 into 3 doesn't fit, so this could be a very competitive event.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Warhammer World Series - Did it work?

Well the weekend is now well past and I've had time to recover from the frenzy of gaming that was the Warhammer World Series. I've already talked about the unique format out the event and my concerns leading into it. Now it's time to look back and see what worked, and what could have been done differently.

What went right
My primary concern going into the event was time. Our schedule was brutally tight, with 1 hour and 45 minutes per round, and no gaps between rounds except for the lunch break. In truth, I was worried it wouldn't work - especially when many players would be using armies they were completely unfamiliar with. I did my best to convey my concerns to the participants, and issued regular warnings as the time ticked down. I also setup a large countdown clock on the TV sitting on the stage, and I think all of these things combined to keep people moving. In the end the event ran almost exactly to schedule, and I believe only 1 or 2 games over the whole tournament had to be cut short. This is an amazing result, and testament to how quickly 1500pt games can be played, especially when people are conscious of the time.

A major danger in this unique event was potential army mismatches. One of the great strengths of the format was that each table could be setup with armies that were more or less on a par in terms of power, allowing for relatively even games across the board. However, if the matches were done poorly, this strength would instead become a pronounced weakness - the mismatches would be locked in and games would suffer each round as a different pair of players arrived on the unbalanced table. We ended up setting up 16 tables, although in the end we had only 22 players. Having 5 extra tables was not a problem, and just allowed for a bit more variety for the players. Over the course of the event, I only heard a few concerns about match-ups, which I will cover later. In general people seemed to be happy with what they were using and facing, and as a whole I would consider this aspect of the tournament a success. 
The tables are setup and the armies come out - more preparation than usual for this event

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Ulric War Altar Finished!

Well I may have been delayed by the tournament over the weekend (I'll discuss this in a later post), but the War Altar is now finished. I'm pretty happy with how it's turned out, and I will have the satisfaction of knowing that I'm using something unique when I put it on the table. Now I have over a week to paint a Celestial Hurricanum. It's a pretty fancy model, but how hard can it be..?
All pimped up and ready to go!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

A very different tournament

On the weekend we will be running the Warhammer World Series, which (despite the grandiose name) is a small 1500pt one-day tournament with a difference. There will be no comp scores, nor will there be any painting scores. Neither of these things are applicable, because players are not turning up with their own armies. Instead, the armies are already allocated to the tables, and the players arrive at the table and play with what they find there. The scenario is also pre-determined for the given table. 

This is not a concept I have ever seen tried before, but I think it's quite exciting. I was looking forward to playing in such an event, but in the end I've put my hand up to run it instead, to try to ensure everything goes smoothly. There are a number of advantages and potential pitfalls for a tournament using this approach:

Players don't need to worry about making armies, and there are no comp restrictions or scoring required. Entering an event like this couldn't be simpler. This is a particular advantage for those who don't like the underlying game of writing competitive army lists and trying to "beat the system" as some might.

Armies and scenarios can be balanced in advance. Not all armies in a tournament like this need to be of a similar strength. All that matters is that they face off well against the force on the other side of the table. You can even field unusual, unbalanced armies that would be a serious liability in a normal tournament, because you know what they will be up against. You can make it work.

Players will be tested in ways they never have before. It is a rare player that has used every army in Warhammer - many tend to focus on one or two. Entering a tournament where they could find themselves with a different unfamiliar army each game will test their versatility and overall game knowledge. It also adds variety for the players - no chance of getting bored with the using the same list all day. For players who are looking for a new army to collect, this offers quite the opportunity to take a few for a test drive.

Organising an event like this can be problematic because you need a sufficient supply of armies that people are willing to let other people (potentially strangers) play with. With the amount of time and care that goes into preparing armies, people can be quite protective of their work. You also need a wide variety of armies available, or the whole point of the exercise is somewhat lost. If everyone just brings along a Daemon army, you haven't gained much. In our case we have every army represented except Tomb Kings, so we're doing well. some armies are more numerous than others, but that's partly my fault - I'll be contributing 15 of the armies (not looking forward to setup)...

Whilst it's all well and good for players to try to adapt to new things, it will inevitably slow things down. In our case this promises to be a particular problem because we've ended up with a very tight schedule. Combine that with people picking up a new army every round, and we may be headed for problems. I'll be trying to keep on top of that, but people can expect to be hurried up. Under different circumstances, the learning process could be better accommodated by allowing extra time for each round.

Being able to pick the armies that will face each other round after round and choose an appropriate scenario is definitely an advantage when it comes to game balance. However, there is still the requirement to get this bit right. An unbalanced match-up could see one player on the table with a disadvantage each round. Of course, in a normal tournament you are relying on a comp panel to get the scoring right (or a set of caps to level the field), so the element of risk may be no greater overall.

The Armies
So, having looked at the potential advantages and pitfalls of this unusual tournament, let's have a look at the armies we have lined up. Ideally with more preparation you could actually playtest the pairings to determine how well they stack up, but we will have to make do with the analysis of several experienced players.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Empire War Altar progress

So, I have finally stopped putting off the construction of an War Altar, and progress is now going well. I talked previously about being an inefficient fool who ignores a perfectly good plastic kit in order to make something unique. This delayed me in the past, but no longer! Construction is complete and painting has commenced...
It always amazes me how much a project comes together visually when the undercoat hides all the bits and modifications.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Lores of Magic: The Lore of Vampires

Magic used to define the Vampire Counts army in much the same way as it did the Tomb Kings. The primary difficulties an opponent faced was the prowess of the Vampire characters, and the fact that the generally modestly powerful units could regain lost models (or even grow beyond their starting size), spring up from nowhere, and charge in the magic phase. 

Things have been shaken up a bit under the latest Vampire Counts book, including the loss of the ability to charge using Vanhel's Danse Macabre (continuing the trend we have seen across all new magic lores under 8th edition). The book has seen a number of new units added, many of which fight well enough that they don't necessarily need magical assistance to get the job done. 

So then, the army has reduced its reliance on magic (assuming the player builds his army list correctly). What does this mean for the new Lore of Vampires? Let's take a look.

Monday, 24 September 2012

By the power of technology!

Axemaster is approaching (it's now about 3.5 weeks away), and this time I managed to settle on an army list well in advance. One of the things I need to assemble and paint as part of this army list is an Arch Lector on a War Altar. I've had plans to build one of these for a long time, however it has taken until now for me to actually act on those plans.

Recently I seem to have developed a nasty habit of making things harder work than they need to be. I have overlooked things like the normal Demigryph models and instead converted my own, opting for theme and style over practicality. The War Altar continues this theme - there is a perfectly adequate plastic kit available nowadays, but of course that would have been too simple. Besides, I don't yet have any Sigmarite priests in my army - they all worship Ulric. Another conversion was the order of the day.
The War Altar as sold by Games Workshop
After a lot of fiddling and dithering, my plan is to use a number of parts from the official War Altar kit, but the end result will be quite different. For instance, I will not have horses pulling my Altar. Nor will the statue at the back be a Griffon. I don't really fancy the small house and ridiculously elevated position of the Arch Lector, either. So really, I will be using the chassis and that's about it.

I have started work on this project, although I don't yet have any pictures of my work in progress. As I was assembling it however, I ran into a problem. My statue needed to be elevated well above the chassis of the Altar, and I couldn't work out how best to do this. I also wanted to leave a central section of the chassis visible, as I had carved off a couple of the Sigmarite symbols and replaced them with wolf heads - I didn't want that to be wasted effort. So I needed a plinth, but it couldn't just be square. At painting night I was making resolutions to build the thing out of plastic bases before covering them with greenstuff and trying to make them look like a construction of wood and metal when Pete (one of the painting night regulars) said, "I could print you one."

This offer may not make much sense without a little bit of context. Recently Pete bought one of those fancy newfangled 3D printers you may have read about. Actually, he bought all the bits to make one, and then set about the laborious task of assembling the thing from a confusing jumble of wires and bits of metal and plastic. Once this was done (and it didn't happen overnight), he set about trying to calibrate the thing so that it would actually make what he wanted, rather than a strange, blobby, slant-wise version of it. This involved battling printing speeds, different temperatures, extrusion rates, and other things that I may or may not be making up. Eventually though, this is what he ended up with:
Pete's 3D printer waves its magic wand and creates something out of (almost) nothing

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Lores of Magic: The Lore of Hashut

By now I would imagine that most of you would have come into contact with the Tamurkhan: The Throne of Chaos book. For anyone who has not, it contains a lot of story and rules for many of the weird Chaos monsters that Forgeworld are well known for. It also includes a full, stand-alone Chaos Dwarf army list called the Legion of Azgorh.

Chaos Dwarf sorcerers can use the Lores of Fire, Metal and Death. The lord-level Sorcerer-Prophets have another option, however. They can use the Lore of Hashut, which is included with the army list. Many people probably only have a vague idea of what this Lore does, so I thought it might be interesting to take a closer look.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Adding a little more character

As part of my preparation for Book of Grudges, I had a small amount of painting to do. I knew I wouldn't have that much time to work on things (turns out the jet-lag got to me a bit too, which made things harder), so I planned my list to require fairly minimal effort. In the end I needed to paint 4 infantry characters - 2 Light Wizards, a Witch Hunter and a General of the Empire. However I had a few different plans for what I wanted to use for Light Wizards, and ended up painting an extra one whilst I was at it. This is how they all turned out. There are one or two small things I need to do to them - an extreme highlight on some gold and eyes for those that need them - but they're basically done.
My General of the Empire. I have realised that I probably need a lot more General/Captain models on foot for all my infantry units, so this guy is the first step toward that.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Book of Grudges 2012 Aftermath - Day 2

This is the second and final part of my report for Book of Grudges 2012. You can find part 1 here.

So day 1 had gone remarkably well, and I arrived at the start of day 2 prepared to duke it out for the lead with the current frontrunner, Aaron Graham. However, someone else had other plans. Enter: Hieu Lam!
Dazzled by Hieu's charismatic posing, I was unable to take a steady photo...

Round 4: Battle for the Pass

Hieu Lam - Skaven

Warlord - Fellblade, shield
Grey Seer - Talisman of Preservation
Warlord (General) - 5+ ward save 
Chieftain - Battle Standard, Shrieking Blade, Dragonhelm, 5+ ward
Warlock Engineer - Doomrocket
Warlock Engineer (Level 1) - Dispel Scroll
30 Slaves - musician
30 Slaves - musician
28 Clanrats - full command
30 Stormvermin - full command, Storm Banner, Warpfire Thrower
7 Gutter Runners - poison, slings
10 Rat Ogres
Warp Lightning Cannon 
Hellpit Abomination

Comp score: 3 (I think)

Hieu grudged me in last year's Book of Grudges and the game ended up pretty one-sided when his Skaven lined up 12" away from my army and got rolled by my all-cavalry Empire. Having decided he hated me forever as a result of this (I think he told me a few times during the game), I was somewhat surprised when he figured he'd have another go at me, this time halfway through the tournament...
The table for round 4 looked something like this, with me on the left and Hieu on the right.  We were separated by the 2 central columns on the grid.
The scenario was Battle for the Pass, so we would be playing lengthways down the table. The terrain looked something like the rough map above. I deployed on the left, and Hieu's Skaven were on the right. I put my Demigryphs at the bottom of the line, then had the main Halberdier block, the detachment, and the Steam Tank in the forest. The Volley Gun deployed just off the hill behind the Demigryphs, whilst the Cannon was on the hill behind the Crossbowmen and wizards.

Hieu deployed his Stormvermin on the bottom of the line, led by his crazy Fellblade-wielding nutter of a Warlord and the BSB. Next to them was a Slave regiment with both Warlocks in the unit. Behind them was the Warp Lightning Cannon. Next to the Slaves (and off the hill, I think) was the large Rat Ogre unit, 3 models wide. Next to them was the Hellpit Abomination, sitting a bit back from the line of deployment. The other Slave unit led by the Grey Seer sat behind the forest, and next to them was the Clanrat unit with the Warlord who was leading the army. The Gutter Runners scouted behind my lines, just over 12" away from the Cannon, near the ruined building.
The Empire battle line.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Book of Grudges 2012 Aftermath - Day 1

Well it's Monday morning (actually, Tuesday by the time I am posting this) and I am starting to recover from another weekend of gaming. Book of Grudges was run at the usual Hampton club venue, and managed to attract some 54 players, which makes it the largest Warhammer tournament in Victoria for a couple of years.

BoG is not your average tournament - it is all about the grudging. For the uninitiated, grudge matches are really just a case of one player challenging another, and this taking the place of what would otherwise be a random or seeded match. Many tournaments allow grudges in the first round, so people can line each other up before the event and duke it out rather than playing a random opponent (before the swiss chess system has kicked in). BoG goes further, allowing players to grudge each other for the first 2 rounds, with everyone else playing random opponents. Even after this, at the start of each round, anyone sitting in a position that is a multiple of 5 (so 5th, 10, 15th, etc) can issue grudges throughout the tournament up until the final round, where people finally have to play people at their own level. 

The upshot of this is that results can be rather odd in BoG. Normally players and armies find their own level before the end of the event, but with so many interruptions and potentially uneven match-ups, it's possible for a player to get through until the very last round before actually having to play someone on a similar score. So long as you embrace the event it's really not a problem, but BoG is definitely an unusual beast prone to throwing up some surprising results.
My 2400pt Empire army for Book of Grudges 2012

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Lores of Magic: The Lore of Nehekhara

Two posts in one day?? Well, I promised some time ago to review this Lore, so it's now well overdue. Let's have a look and see what the Lore of Nehekhara has to offer...

In the previous army book, Tomb King magic used to be the defining characteristic of the army. It behaved differently from other Lores of Magic and could be largely unstoppable if the player built his army right. It allowed Tomb King units to charge with impunity in the magic phase, and completely changed the dynamic of the game. Those times are past, however. The new book contains a Lore that is more in keeping with the game as a whole, and most notably it does away with the magic charges (which are now all but extinct in 8th edition).

What does it do?

The Lore Attribute of the Lore of Nehekhara is The Restless Dead. Units affected by augment spells from the Lore immediately regain D3+1 lost wounds, in addition to whatever effect the spell has. The Restless Dead is now the only way for Tomb King units to regain lost wounds or models. This is both a good and a bad thing. The upside is that you no longer need to dedicate some of your magic specifically to raising stuff back, as it happens anyway as a side-effect of your other spells. In effect you get two spells for the price of one. There is no one spell that your opponent can plan to block in order to prevent your raising - so long as you still have an augment spell remaining, you still have a chance to raise.

The downside to the raising being restricted to the Lore Attribute is that there is no way for you to make a concerted effort to save an endangered unit. No matter whether the spell is boosted or not, the affected units will only ever regain D3+1 wounds. The other downsides are the limitations I have not yet mentioned. Animated Constructs may only ever regain a single wound per phase from The Restless Dead - regardless of how many augment spells may be flung their way. This is a very harsh limitation, and means that choices like Ushabti are slightly less appealing. One wound per turn will never compensate for a concerted amount of punishment from the enemy. Furthermore, characters and their mounts will never regain wounds from this spell. So you can't heal Tomb King characters. This is a significant disadvantage compared to Vampire Counts (the other life-challenged army out there), who are still able to prop up their characters.

Preparing for Book of Grudges

Another weekend, another tournament. Only a week and a half after we flew back into the country, Book of Grudges is on. I really enjoyed the event last year (the first year it was run), so I was delighted when I heard that I would be able to make it this time around - I was kind of assuming it would occur whilst I was overseas. This year it's being held at the regular HGC venue, after Realm of Legends shifted stores and no longer had the room required. So it's nice and local for me, so there were really no excuses.

Unfortunately army lists were due whilst we were still travelling, and I found it difficult to find the time to really give my army much thought. I knew that I wanted something different from what I was using at the ETC - specifically, I wanted to include some infantry. Unfortunately I knew I wouldn't have much time for painting before the tournament, so I couldn't do anything too interesting. I tried making a couple of lists, but in the end this was what I settled for.

Book of Grudges Empire army list

General of the Empire
     General; Full Plate Armor
     Talisman of Preservation
     Crown of Command
     Enchanted Shield
     Shrieking Blade

Captain of the Empire on Pegasus
     Full Plate Armor; Shield; Battle Standard
     Talisman of Endurance
     Biting Blade

Wizard Lord of the Light Order
     Magic Level 4; Lore of Light
     White Cloak of Ulric
     Dispel Scroll

Battle Wizard of the Light Order
     Magic Level 1; Lore of Light

Warrior Priest
     Great Weapon, Armour of Meteoric Iron

Witch Hunter
     Brace of Pistols; Light Armour

Master Engineer

50 Halberdiers
     Halberd; Light Armour; Standard; Musician; Sergeant

     Detachment of 25 Halberdiers
          Halberd; Light Armour

17 Crossbowmen

5 Demigryph Knights
     Barding; Lance; Shield; Standard; Musician

Great Cannon

Helblaster Volley Gun

Steam Tank