Sunday, 31 January 2016

Guild Ball Match Report 1


After our intro games just before New Year, it was time to step onto the big stage with full 6-man teams (or rather 5 men and a small animal).

In fairness I had not given the game much thought prior to the day before. As you may have gathered, life is crazy here at the minute and my plans of getting my new players painted up prior to the game were shot down early in the preceding week. Only a heroic painting session the night before the game could ensure that my team at least had colour on them, even if they weren't looking as shiny as my captain, Ox.


On the morning of game day it was a different story, anticipation had reached fever pitch (I'd been up since 5am – seems our son was too excited about the game to sleep as well). Luckily I had packed everything and left it by the front door the night before, thus ensuring I didn't forget anything – Bull may live a lot closer now but it would still be a trek to come home to retrieve missing stuff.


I would finally get to see what the full Mason team was about and Bull would have to survive the carnage that is a rampaging Butcher's team. We set up, sat down to play and realised we'd forgotten the rules almost completely since our last game!

Didn't take long to get into our stride though…


Bull had Flint Kick-off and it skewed wildly to the far side of the pitch. I sent Boiler chasing after it whilst the rest of the team geared up in the middle of the park for the inevitable brawling. Flint managed to grab the ball but skewed his back pass to Harmony, the ball pinging towards the Mason's goal line – this was not happening for Bull at all. Rather than chase the ball I sent Boiler in on the stranded sister and he started to hack and slash.


Ox went steaming across the field to grab the ball, closely pursued by the Mason's captain Honour. Meanwhile, elsewhere on the pitch, Boar and Shank got bogged down fighting Mallet and Tower, and Brisket was goaded by the Mason's monkey and couldn't move until he was dead – no problem!

I had started to rack up the points as Harmony was taken out (twice!) then Tower finally dropped. Honour managed to strip the ball from Ox and successfully kicked the ball to Flint who was still stuck out on the wing. He charged off towards the Butcher goal, being tracked by the rather nifty Shank.


For once my superb dice rolling deserted me – despite getting three rounds of attacks against Flint (in the region of 22 dice!), Shank was unable to make any serious impact and stop him getting a shot away. Bull finally saw the bit of luck he needed (though in fairness he had stacked the dice roll as much as he could) and the ball soared to the Butcher goal – SCORE!… and the first Mason points on the board.


The ball bounced away across the other side of the pitch where Brisket and the Butcher's dog, Princess, were still brawling with the monkey. If I could kill the damn thing and get away, this whole side of the pitch was clear to the Mason's goal. Bull saw the danger and had Flint race over and strip the ball off Brisket.


Not to be outdone, Shank followed suit and inched the ball from Flint, racing away towards the goal. Ox finally downed Honour and Brisket killed the monkey – I was only two points away from a win. I was pretty confident Shank could skip through the middle of the field and grab a goal, supported by Ox next turn.

However, we never got that far. Brisket reaped revenge on Flint and he died in the Maintenance phase due to poison. I got the points I needed to secure a win.


Final score: Butchers 12 – Masons 4


Go over to Bull's blog to read his version of events – they may differ somewhat in the details and perspective ;)

…and thanks to Bull for a superb game, and providing additional photos as my phone decided it had no more space for images part way through the game!

Lots to mull over – there will be analysis and team interviews soon. Stay tuned!




Thursday, 28 January 2016

Pre-fight Update



It's less than 48 hours until I will be journeying across town to Bullcher Towers for this month's game day. The plan is for Bull and I to have a game of Guild Ball followed by a game of Frostgrave – however, things don't often go to plan.

My preparations have been non-existent as life has barged it's way in. Job searching and poorly family members have derailed my pre-game plans for this week, so it will be a bare bones affair from me alas. I don't even have a D20 dice to use!

I have managed to get some black undercoat on my three remaining Guild Ball players. I'm really looking forward to playing this again. The extra players on each side will ramp up the options and things will no doubt play out very differently from last time.

As for Frostgrave, I chose my warband quite quickly – even printed out lots of reference sheets and spell cards. The intention was to put together some models and give them a quickie base colour in time for Saturday. When that wasn't going to happen I looked for stand-ins amongst my model collection but I'm still a couple short. My warband may look a bit eclectic at the weekend!

Still I have one full evening remaining so anything could happen!



Thursday, 21 January 2016

Creating My Frostgrave Warband: Part 2



The composition of my starting warband is no less tricky than picking out spells for my Wizard. Of course it makes some kind of sense to leave the expensive boys behind – something to aspire to as the campaign cash comes rolling in (thanks for the tip Clint).

Looking at the bargain end of the list we have a War Hound, a Thug and a Thief (sounds like the start of a joke to me!). Hounds can't carry treasure which means they're going to have to earn their pay some other way. They're low on health and armour – and they're animals so could be controlled if your opponent has the right spell – but appear to be ok fighters, and they can move quickly. Thugs are not dissimilar, but slower with a bit more health and a bit more fight. The Thief falls somewhere in between.

Next on the list we have Archers and Crossbowmen. Decent fighters, decent shooters, with a bit of armour. Their stats and gear are identical except for…you can guess. The Infantryman, who costs the same as our shooty friends appears to be a poor man's version of a Templar in the list, a decent fighter with a 2-handed weapon.


In the next price bracket things start to get a bit more funky. We have a Man-at-Arms which, again, appears to be the poor man's version of the more expensive Knight. Better armour than the Infantryman thanks to a shield but similar in most other respects. Then we have a Tracker, a rather speedy all-rounder and a Treasure Hunter, a good fighter.

I'm not going to look any further on the list. The expensive end of things looks very cool but would mean I won't have many men in my list. As things stand I could possibly take all Thugs and Thieves (to go alongside my Wizard and obligatory Apprentice) giving me a head count of 17!!

Of course this would give me no ranged attacks, which is rather silly, but a lot of bodies could do the business – too many targets for the enemy to deal with perhaps?


Alternatively I could take a mix of Archers/Crossbowmen and Infantrymen, giving me a head count of 8. However, if there is a lot of terrain all that firepower could be wasted (especially if my opponent has the Wall or Fog spells).

This leaves us with a mix of characters from all three price bands which, as Bull has noted, gives a few less bodies for a bit more punch.

More things to consider before I make my final list!




Monday, 18 January 2016

Creating My Frostgrave Warband: Part 1



After some initial thoughts, I've had more time to mull over options in the Frostgrave rulebook, but with the possibility of a game in a couple of weeks it's time to start making decisions. Today I'm going to look at my Wizard and see what options I have to narrow things down a bit. 

It's no secret that I'm going down the Necromancer route. Aside from maybe Summoner, I think it's the closest thing to the Dark Side on offer (prior to the expansion). Immediately that maps out my spell options and dictates which schools of magic I'm allowed (or forced) to use. Given that we're starting out on our campaign, my wizard is rather feeble when it comes to casting spells so it makes sense to choose the easiest spells to cast where possible. In addition, failing to cast a spell successfully can inflict damage on the wizard, so easy spells make even more sense. The third thing to consider is that the apprentice will be using the same spell set so making sure they've got a decent chance to be successful is also important for them.



Most schools of magic have spells that require dice rolls of 8+, 10+ and 12+ to be successful (there are 14+ and 18+ dotted around but that would be taking silly chances at this stage I think). I will be looking mainly at my options for 8 and 10 spells as this, I feel, is where my road lies.

The full list of Frostgrave spells and explanations can be found here.

As my primary ability I have to take three spells from Necromancy and my options are Bone Dart (8), Raise Zombie (8), Bones of the Earth (10) and Steal Health (10). I also have level 12 spells available to control undead models, cause an opposing model to miss an activation and the ability to dispel magic in play. The only definite at this stage has to be Raise Zombie – no self-respecting Necromancer could live without it surely!

Next I have to take a single spell from each of the aligned schools of magic – in this case Witch, Summoner and Chronomancer. 



The Witch list offers a few things of use: Animal Companion (8), Fog (8), Mud (10), Curse (10) and Poisoned Dart (10). 

The Summoner: Leap (8), Imp (10), Bind Demon (10). 

Chronomancer: Fast Act (8), Fleet Feet (10), Crumble (10).

Whilst it may seem a challenge to try and pick three spells from this list of eleven, I think some spells jump out as first choices to try out initially. Some of these may turn out to be pointless but that's part of the the trial and error 'theory-crafting' of starting a new game.

Finally I get to choose my last two spells from Neutral schools of magic: Elementalist, Enchanter, Illusionist, Sigilist  and Soothsayer. This allows me to dip a toe into the wider pool of magic spells, but the choices are almost overwhelming. Spells that jump out at me initially include one that gives me an increased Initiative roll, one that gives instant extra 50 experience at the end of a game (if I don't die), Invisibility and Teleport. These last choices will be rather tricky.



The only other thing to consider is whether I shall take a staff or hand weapon. I'd like to think my Wizard will be surrounded by people to do the dirty work, but there will be times when he may have to go it alone. Preempting trouble will be priceless of course but I may need a rack of defensive/ attacking spells to make sure I get through the game in one piece!

Stay tuned for part 2…

Friday, 15 January 2016

Secrets…!


Things are hitting full stride behind the scenes here, yet there's no painting or building of new models for the upcoming game day with Bull. My model tray sits with an ever thickening layer of dust upon it!



No, things are hitting full stride because the guys at Anvil 8 Games are about to embark upon big things come the beginning of February, and I have to make sure they have what they need so that all you Aetherium fans out there get the next round of shiny things.

I am very excited and itching to show you stuff, but they'd have me hanged, drawn and quartered for sure so you'll just have to wait. I may do a retro post once the news is out there, we'll see.

Have a good weekend everyone!



Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Happy 6th Blog Birthday!!


Monday was the blog's 6th birthday, though I can't remember a time when I didn't have the blog.

We passed the 400k hits mark just before Christmas, though things have been slowing down for the last couple of years. I even managed to lose 12 followers in the space of 4 hours in December, I guess they didn't like my Force Awakens post, lol!

Last year I made a few predictions, but I'm learning that they're rather pointless these days. Life keeps throwing curve balls in there to make sure none of us get comfortable (I was made redundant on my first day back after the holidays) and having a little one running around the house leaves little time for anything other than to get your breath back, eat and sleep.



I did manage to get some painting done in the last 12 months (approx. 12 models), and managed a handful of games. I spent money on Batman, Guild Ball, Zombicide, a host of random stuff and even a bit of Malifaux.


I would love to get back to the old days of posting painted models every week, but I've realised this won't happen soon. This year I hope to paint a few more – a model a month would be good – and to play a few more games – again, a game a month would be good. Bull and I have pencilled in a gaming schedule for the coming months so I'm upbeat about that.

As for the rest, bring it on. A lot of things can happen in 12 months – the last year proved that – so let's see where we are this time next year!

Monday, 11 January 2016

Size Isn't Everything…


Just before Christmas I was contemplating the options for building a Frostgrave warband. Scale can be a bit of a minefield so I thought it was time to do a bit of a lineup to see how my various options fared against each other. The photomontage above (they wouldn't fit nicely in a single shot) is the result – the image is pretty big so give it a click for a closer view.

From left to right:

Dark Emissary – (Warhammer) Games Workshop (OOP)
Sin Assyris – (Confrontation) Rackham (OOP)
Ranger – (Lord of the Rings) Games Workshop
Mendevian Crusader – (Pathfinder) Reaper Miniatures
Lenore – Hasslefree Miniatures
Norman Crossbowman – Wargames Foundry
Clovis – (Zombicide: Black Plague), Cool Mini Or Not
Cultist Barbarian – (Frostgrave), North Star

You may have noticed an official Frostgrave model in there, so I'm comparing everything to the guy on the far right.

As you can see, the majority of the models would happily sit together on the tabletop from a scale perspective, but would I be happy with them?

The Dark Emissary is distinctly bigger in scale than the majority of models around him. This could come as a bit of a blow as I was intending to use him as my wizard. However, given his hunched posture we could actually get away with it. I think this could be a winner.

Sin Assyris is very tall, even taking into account the slightly taller base. Proportion-wise the model looks ok – hands, head, etc seem on par with some of the others. Maybe it's just this model in particular, so I may have to try a different Rackham miniature to be sure.

The LoTR Ranger looks ok, if a little on the small side. He would easily pass as a youthful addition to a warband and is a pretty suitable model all round.

The Crusader is awesome and a perfect fit for a role in Frostgrave.

Lenore was my Maid Marian stand-in and is a great model. Whilst being very slight compared to the Frostgrave Barbarian she would fit into a warband nicely without looking out of place.

Similar to the Ranger, the Foundry Crossbowman is a little on the small side, but there's not much in it. I think he would be a great addition and I have so many poses to choose from.

The Black Plague Clovis model is lovely, as are all the new Zombicide:BP miniatures. Alas he's just a bit too big. If I had a single model from this range included I could get away with them being a giant of sorts. Unless I was going to have an entire band made up of these models I think I'm going to have to pass – real shame.


This has been a very worthwhile exercise indeed. However, I was very lucky this Christmas and received not only a fistful of metal Frostgrave models but also a box of the plastic Frostgrave Soldiers. Now I'm really spoilt for choice!


Friday, 8 January 2016

Guild Ball: Team Reinforcements



With Guild Ball taking the pole position in the hobby this new year I've spent some time putting together the rest of my Butchers team.


PRINCESS

The Butchers loveable mascot is a three piece model. Alas two of the pieces are tiny legs, which proved a bit of a challenge to not stick to my fingers. I'm hoping this will be a quick win on the painting side as Princess should be a straightforward colour scheme and there's not a lot to her.

On field she should boost Boiler and Brisket as well as add a bit more bite to the team. I'm not sure what to make of mascots yet, they seems almost comedic. We will see!




SHANK

I love the overall pose of this model, if not the character himself. Another three piece model – the body and two hands holding weapons. I just needed a little reference to get the right hands in the right places but a very easy model to build. I did pin both hands to make sure nothing got lost. I have no idea how I'm going to transport this model without bending the chains and subsequently damaging the paint job.

This guy is all about dodging and damage, with an extended melee range. Other players have mentioned his scoring ability too, but regardless, he seems a solid all rounder.




BOAR

The big man, huge model. This is the one that everybody wants to see (or not if he's charging straight at you). A four piece model – body, two forearms/hands and his belt. That belt is quite fragile at the blade ends and it's not a terribly good fit at the body end. However, there is plenty of glue securing it in place so it should stay safe – worried about those blades bending though.

This guy will be a monster on the pitch no doubt, though his maximum allowance of 1 influence will please Bull. I'm going to have to be clever in how I use him if I'm to get the most of out him.




TENDERISER

I have raved about this Season 2 model for a while – love it – but building it has been a challenge. It's a two pice model (plus some accessories) and therein lies the problem. The hammer and both arms come as a single piece and will not fit into the sockets on the body. I tried for hours, tried brute force, tried pliers… no joy. I've no doubt the resin version could be bent into place but the metal was having none of it.

I have ended up (as you can see above) resorting to hacking off one arm with a hacksaw at the wrist, pinning the first arm in place, with the plan of pinning the second at a later date. It will need some greenstuff repairing but should look the business when done. Note to Steamforged Games: make this a three piece model in future please!

As my goalkeeper, Tenderiser will no doubt hang further back to ensure no opposition players can score. He gets lots of bonuses in this regard and a wicked hammer blow pulse that knocks everyone down. I will have to drop someone else from the team if I include him so difficult choices to be made.


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Guild Ball: Post Match Review

We've had a bit of time to think about our intro games of Guild Ball last Thursday. Despite the Butchers running out 6-0 winners on all three occasions, there's still a lot to consider and analyse. I always found in 40k that you learned more from your losses than your victories and that will mean that Bull will come back very strong next time, so I need to take in as much as I can about my own team.



OX
The Captain performed as I expected him to. He was brutal on the attack and had enough hit points to make it very difficult for the Masons to take him out without committing everyone on their team to the task.

The extra damage that team mates gain from his 4" aura was very telling when the action was concentrated to one part of the pitch. In game 3 when the team was spread out more and I was unable to use the aura, I really felt the difference in damage output. His Legendary play needs to be used wisely and early on in a turn. The one time I did use it I didn't really get full benefit, but it would seem to be quite devastating if used correctly.

I'll be honest, I didn't use his plays much as I didn't feel the need. I think these will become more important as we move up to bigger teams. He also scored a goal which showed he is quite versatile when required, although his playbook only has pushes not dodges so he is relatively slow.




BOILER
This guy was something of a surprise package on the day. I had expected him to be quite fragile, but when he got into melee he was devastating. His -1 ARM and Bleed additions to any damage caused had quite an impact, and a couple of the Masons were taken out thanks to bleed damage. His TAC 5 is decent and his 4+ DEF proved to be quite good too.

I didn't use his playbook much – too interested in hitting things – but again, this could prove more useful when there are more players on the pitch. He did miss out a little not having the mascot, Princess, on the table, but still proved to be a rather important member of the team.




BRISKET
As my striker there was a bit of pressure on Brisket. Alas she was the one model I didn't get painted properly, sporting a basic coat only colour scheme on the day. Maybe it affected the way I looked at the model but she was the weak link (if there was one). She seems a little at odds with the Butcher remit of getting Momentum via damage. She is only 4 TAC and can't inflict much damage, the idea being that she makes use of the dodges instead. This would have improved if Princess had been around, so she missed out a little there. The lack of punch didn't really match what the rest of the team was doing though.

She proved her ability with a goal in Game 1 and was handy with a pass or two. Brisket also made extensive use of Unpredictable Movement, which frustrated Bull on several occasions. Facing a Masons team with only one guy in it I didn't get to use Charmed as much as I would have liked, but she did become the one to face Mallet as he struggled to do much damage against her. She managed to support the other two bruisers in the team in melee and as such took on more of a supporting role.

Her main contribution however was the dishing out of Dirty Knives. This proved quite devastating on a number of occasions for Honour, who was losing wounds in most Maintenance Phases. Poison really is a nasty condition and the -1 DEF aids the rest of the team with the damage dealing.




TEAM PERFORMANCE
I understand now why the Butchers are considered one of the starter teams. There was no real learning curve – you just charge in and wail on the opponent. I had Momentum Points coming out of my ears, and even forgot to award myself some at times such was the volume of damage being done and frequency.

Whilst not as effective working as individuals, it was very forgiving and I rarely felt truly threatened in any of the three games. This team is brutal and the opposition needs to stay out of melee as much as they can. I did manage to play some ball-related tactics but that's not what the Butchers are about. I can see this becoming a little one-dimensional in the future, whereas Bull will no doubt evolve his tactics as time goes on.

I'm looking forward to seeing the other members of the Butchers team in action and seeing how the players interact and cope with more opposition players. I expect Bull to have much more success with bigger games as he will have more options to move the ball about and tie up key members of my team.

Bring it on!!





Saturday, 2 January 2016

Guild Ball Intro: Butchers vs Masons


On the morning of New Years Eve, Bull and I finally got our introductory game(s) of Guild Ball. It's always exciting trying out a new game for the first time, especially after poring over the rules for weeks before. This was no exception.


I had my Guild Ball gaming mat and everything was quickly set up to go. I brought my Butchers, sadly no further painting had been done but there was at least three colours on every model. They are suggested as one of the starter teams as their rules are very straightforward. This would prove to very much be the case. Bull's Masons were well armoured with plenty of tricks up their sleeves. They would however take a little more getting used to.




GAME 1

Opening games are usually quite cagey affairs so I decided to jump in with both feet and see what happened. I knew my team gained momentum by inflicting hurt on the opposition, not playing with the ball, so immediately started to weigh into the Masons.


I managed to get my first 'Taken Out' result against Bull hard man Mallet, two points on the board. The game ebbed and flowed a little as we made inroads and got rules a bit wrong here and there. Eventually I managed to get the ball to Brisket who scored a cracking goal to bring the game to an end.

Result: 6-0 Butchers







GAME 2

Bull had picked up a few ideas in the opening game and came charging out of the blocks for Game 2.
I managed to take out Harmony early on for a couple of points, but Bull was a man with a plan.


He eventually got the ball behind my lines, managed to get the Momentum Point he needed and had Honour clear on goal.



Alas, in his moment of triumph, needing to roll a 4+ with any one of four dice, his little blue dice failed him and he missed.

The Butchers went on to inflict more damage, taking out two more members of the Masons team and racked up the required 6 points to end the game.

Result: 6-0 Butchers








GAME 3

This was an odd one. I kind of got too cocky here and my team ended up running around as individuals rather than taking advantage of the benefits of working as a team. Bull revised his plan and I spent the next hour reacting to him for the most part.

Again I managed to take out Mallet to get two points on the board, leaving only Honour and Harmony in my half to try and score. On several occasions Bull came within a half inch of being able to take a shot, but it wasn't to be. The one time he was in range he didn't have enough Momentum Points to actually take a shot. Things were just not going his way. Then I took out Honour.

Harmony and Brisket had a hilarious turn of taking the ball off each other several times, before the Butchers striker got the ball away to the waiting Ox.


He made his way down field but the patched up Mallet and Honour were waiting for him by the Mason goal. He barged Honour out of his way and took the shot, scoring the goal to end the match.

Result: 6-0 Butchers



So not a very successful day for Bull, and something of a stroll for the Butchers at times it must be said. The reasons are quite simple. The Butchers are straightforward to play, can still persevere as individuals, and dish out a lot of damage. The Masons are more of a machine, working together as a team to get the job done. They can't go toe-to-toe with the Butchers without coming off worse, so have to play to score. It'll take a little time for that machine to start humming but I've no doubt Bull will get them scoring soon and my one-trick pony will feel the hurt.

Plus we were using starter box models, so we have a host of new players and mascots to introduce, not to mention playing with a team of six models instead of the three we used this time.

The game itself is very interesting. We were expecting something along the lines of Blood Bowl without the gridded pitch. Not so. This game has far more in common with Malifaux than Blood Bowl. Warmachine has openly been quoted as a source of inspiration and you can see that through a lot of the mechanics also.

Lots to take in after our opening day, lots to contemplate and analyse. Expect more games soon as we look to take this one up a notch.

Now, where did I put those other Butcher models?



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