Sunday, 28 February 2016

Guild Ball – Match 2


The big re-match came around quicker than expected but both coaches were ready to get stuck in I think. We added the final dimensions of terrain and plot cards to the proceedings. Alas the plot cards I was dealt were pretty awful, and the one I could have used I forgot about!


We used Bull's rather fetching salt and pepper dispensers as goals – very impressive they looked too!


Brisket kicks off – from Bull's website

Bull won the initial roll-off and decided to receive – unknown territory for me already. I gave the ball to Brisket and she hoofed it into space on the far right. Alas it scattered back and landed at Harmony's feet. No point chasing that down.


Honour in the thick of it – from Bull's website
Harmony came steaming in to Boar and knocked him on his backside. The wounds were piled on and before long the big man was down to half. In the meantime Mallet was wailing on the Butchers captain, Ox. He also took a boat load of damage and was staggering on half strength before long. This was a side of the Masons I was not used too – sustained damage dealing – I was in danger of having a player taken-out (god forbid!).

The Masons moved the ball across the pitch to the other wing, where their main man Flint was waiting. It was done via a series of passes and earned Bull a stack of Momentum. This too was something I was not used to – the Masons outstripping me for Momentum points!


Shank intercepts Flint – from Bull's website

Flint had the ball on our left wing, but Shank still had his go left. He moved to intercept and engaged Flint from his superior melee distance. The Masons striker had a clear run on goal if he could get past Shank, but I had a plan. Each turn Flint ignores the first Tackle result against him (I've been the victim of this in the past), so come the new turn I had to make sure we got that out of the way.


As he was within my melee zone, when Flint attempted to move away I knew I would get a free attack. I activated Shank first, did some damage on Flint and attempted a Tackle (knowing it would automatically fail). Job done.

As expected when Flint tried to run past I got my second Tackle in and stripped him of the ball. This took the wind out of Bull's initial attack but with their Momentum stacking up I knew he would win the Initiative roll and I'd probably be down a goal. The silver lining was that I had taken out Honour and was currently 2–0 up.


As expected Flint charged in and got the ball back off Shank. He was able to move just enough to be in range, shot and scored. The Masons took the lead for the first time in a game 4–2.

However, play continues and when the ball came straight back out and I targeted Shank when I positioned it. It landed in a decent place and he raced off down the pitch.

Whilst the main focus was on this left side of the pitch, there was something of a large brawl in the middle. Boar managed to finish off Harmony and Marbles, making the score 6–4. Both he and Ox had managed to recover from their opening wound-related scare and were almost back to full health. Brisket had taken a handful of wounds but she too had recovered. The Mason players across the pitch (with the exception of Brick) were all down to half wounds or thereabouts.


Honour had come back onto the pitch immediately thanks to one of Bull's plot cards and she raced in to stop Shank from scoring. Ironically, because she was wounded, Shank got extra change distance and managed to engage her at his maximum melee distance ensuring she couldn't hit back. He did a small amount of damage in order to get a 2" dodge which took him to within range of the Mason goal.

With only two dice and needing a 4+ it was going to be a close call.


I need not have worried. The Butchers man of the match hit the target, 10–4 scoreline. I only needed 2 more points to win.

Shank then raced away towards Honour – he had to try and prevent the inevitable immediate counter attack. He wasn't quick enough.

Bull calculated his sequence of moves in order that Honour could get the ball to Flint, but when it was executed it somehow didn't work out. We went back and talked it through step by step to make sure he was maximising the available options. Eventually it all fell into place and Flint was away with ball in hand. With nobody in his way he strolled towards the goal, shot and scored. 10–8 and things were hotting up.

I knew that by this time most of the Masons had taken heavy damage. I only needed to take one down in order to kill the game. I had to decide where to place the ball after the Masons goal, so I pinged it across the opposite side of the pitch from Flint, into no mans land. Bull couldn't possibly get to it before I had killed off one of his players.


Boiler takes down Honour – from Bull's website

It fell to Boiler to take the glory and he leaped at Honour, needing only two rounds of melee to finish off the Masons captain.

Final score 12–8 to the Butchers.


This was a much better game than any we'd played so far. Bull had got the Masons playing much more as a team and playing to their strengths. We were both having to out think our opponent rather than just outfight each other.

Once I'd ridden out the opening exchanges and starting to inflict a bit of damage I grew in confidence and in the end was happy to concede the second goal in order to set up the finale. Lots to talk through and analyse. I think we may see a lineup change next time out!

Stay tuned!


Friday, 26 February 2016

Guild Ball Game Day…


Game Day for this month is tomorrow!

Can you believe it's almost a month already since our last game of Guild Ball? Bull and I learned so much from our last outing. We're yet to add terrain and plot cards into the mix, so maybe now is that time – extra layers to keep us on our toes.


I had big plans for this game. I have my two new Butchers players to try out but they haven't made it past the undercoat stage. The rest of my team were deserving of some extra paint but they too remain unchanged. Life is throwing our family a series of curve balls at the moment and we're struggling to get anything else done – hobby time has no chance.

The main aim for tomorrow's game is to get the team playing better as a whole. We know the Butcher's can get the job done just hitting things, but with so many abilities between them there has to be a more efficient way of doing it!


For starters my badly painted Shank will take on a new support role, rather than trying to stick it out on the front line. He shouldn't be going in first, better able to take down opponents who are already damaged.


My badly painted Boar will need to make better use of his abilities. By being stuck in combat for the whole game I was missing out on free attacks. As much as he has lots of wounds, he is easy to hit and therefore an easy target should an opponent want to get off a play. He needs to choose his targets better.

Stay tuned for the match report and post mortem…!


Saturday, 20 February 2016

Infernal Kickstarter Miniatures


Some of you may remember my post from Salute 2015 where I raved about a game called Infernal by Wartorn Games. Obviously having a link to the project helps one's enthusiasm (we know one of the creators, Jon Corps, from our 40k tournament days), but Al did a great job of selling the game to us on the day. It was not a difficult decision to back their Kickstarter when it launched.


As with many a Kickstarter before, I forgot about it once it finished. Messages and updates from the guys landed in my inbox but I'll admit I didn't take much notice as most were production updates. Unfortunately when the survey came in I wasn't paying much attention either and managed to send it back with our old postal address on it. Fast forward to earlier this month and I suddenly felt left out as everyone was getting their stuff and I was still rather empty-handed.

Miss Neith

A bit of investigation revealed my mistake. What an idiot! I sheepishly contacted Al to explain the situation. Without any hesitation Al was happy to send another set to the correct postal address. How awesome is that – customer service at it's best. This was quite a gesture since they had gone out of their way to make sure people gave them the correct details, with reminders and prompts (which I had ignored). What an idiot!


Spider Bitch

Anyway, a top group of guys who are so enthusiastic about their new venture it's infectious… but on to the models. I went down the Tortured Souls route with my pledge – always rooting for the bad guys – and they arrived earlier this week.


Let's get one thing straight – this game is a horror movie in miniatures form and is not for the faint hearted. The monsters will give you nightmares and elements of the rulebook should come with a 15 certificate. For my £45 pledge I got six models: Miss Neith & Spider Bitch (two pics above), Dr Goodall & Black Death, plus a couple of scrawny looking zombies (Husks?).


For me the flagship model has to be the 13-piece Spider Bitch. Digitally created, it has a massive amount of surface detail and I am happy to say that it looks amazing in real life. The resin is remarkably clean (no release agent residue, almost no mould lines and no imperfections), in fact it's some of the best resin gear I've seen… ever.


Just to prove a point I took a closer image of the Spider Bitch body sprue.



The Black Death model is a huge lump of solid resin. I get the impression this was sculpted traditionally rather than digitally? The detail doesn't seem quite as crisp as Spider Bitch, but that may be intentional and it doesn't stop it being an impressive (and rather large) model. You can just imagine the ink washes flowing over this model bringing out all that amazing detail.


The 'host' models for these two big nasties are similarly impressive. Very unique characters that benefit from the same great production as the bigger models.

As you can see I haven't built anything yet – this is just an opening observation. I also got to download a monstrous zip file containing all sorts of files: tokens, character cards, wargear and of course the rulebook.

I have looked through the rulebook and that's going to need it's own blog post – I have plenty to say about that! Till then just enjoy these lovely models…!



Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Wargame Resource Management


This is something that has been bubbling around in my head for a while now, especially as I consider possible routes for my Hood skirmish game. I have played several games involving resource management and so I thought I'd see if anyone has experience of others. It is a concept that really intrigues me and I love tinkering with the various outcomes that they can deliver or deny.

I first experienced resource management in computer games. The 90's were the heyday of strategy games with resource management, with the likes of Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, Command & Conquer and the like, forging a path before high-resolution graphics took over. Board games have had resource management involved for what seems forever. My first experience of wargame resource management came when we dabbled with Warmachine, so let's start there.



Warmachine
This was the game that opened my eyes beyond 40k (thank you to Mr Craig "Critical Mass" Grady for the introduction all those years ago). Your warcaster generates an amount of focus points at the beginning of each turn and it's is down to you how you distribute it amongst your troops (or horde it so your warcaster can play with all their spells). Focus points allow individual units to take special actions and increases their abilities on the battlefield. Of course you don't have enough focus points to let everyone do everything, so there is a choice to be made – which units get the points and at what point during the battle? Your decisions, and timing of them, can be the difference between a loss and a win.




Malifaux
The resource management here comes in the form of a hand of cards, dealt to you at the beginning of the game. You get to choose when to play these cards to boost a combat attack or defend against one. They don't always guarantee success so choosing your moment to unleash your 'Red Joker' (highest scoring card in the game) can be paramount. Not only that, the suit of your cards can be the difference between a successful spell cast and a fail. You get to refresh the cards in your hand periodically, but, as with all card dealing, it's pure chance which cards you receive.




Guild Ball
More recently, our journey into Guild Ball has revealed another example of resource management. Heavily influenced by Warmachine, Guild Ball teams generate an amount of Influence each turn, dependent upon which players are in the side. These Influence points are distributed throughout the team, allowing each player to make additional moves, attacks or character plays. On top of this we have a second resource in the form of Momentum. This resource ebbs and flows each turn, allowing you to make additional moves, heal your players and is essential to shoot at goal. Any left over at the end of the turn will boost your initiative roll next turn, making it a very important part of the game. The fact that Momentum resets at the beginning of each turn keeps things relatively level throughout the game. Individual players can generate Momentum, or even steal it from the opposition, opening up these extra options to the team.

Saga also have a form of resource management in the form of Saga dice. After you've rolled your dice you have to decide how to make best use of the result.

Of course not all wargames require resource management. 40k doesn't have it and Blood Bowl is an excellent game without it. Bolt Action has no resource management and remains both popular and exciting. Are there any others?

Have you come across a tabletop wargame that makes good use of resource management? I'll admit my experience is limited so I'm opening up the floor for you to champion your favourite game… with or without resources. Is a game better with resources or do they just get in the way of a good fight?





Monday, 15 February 2016

Review: Guild Ball Tokens


I don't review things very often on the blog. I don't have the time or the inclination usually, but when my Guild Ball Butchers tokens arrived I felt compelled to post some thoughts.

As usual I ordered my tokens from Element Games, and as usual they arrived within 24 hours and came with a discount on the RRP. Those guys are so reliable.

I'll be honest, I didn't intend to buy the tokens at all. We've been using random dice to indicate conditions, etc. during our games and it's worked ok so far. I'd never be so cheap for a tournament – it's unfair on your opponent not being able to identify exactly what's going on, only that something is going on – but for fun games it's fine. Only when I saw that Bull had purchased some Masons tokens I felt obliged to restore balance.


++ PRICE ++

Let's get it out of the way now, my biggest gripe with these tokens is their price. £16 (discounted) for 37 pieces of shaped plastic is excessive to me and would normally have stopped me parting with my money. When you compare it to the Warmachine tokens that cost £7 (discounted) for 44 pieces of shaped plastic, it makes you sit up and think. Now, I have no doubt that the cheaper price that Privateer Press charge is down to cheaper quality plastic and economies of scale. Also, don't forget that the Steamforged guys are still starting out and finding their way – Privateer have been around for decades. Still, £17 for a set of team-specific token is a lot – god help you if you have multiple teams!

2/5

Warmachine Cryx Tokens… my comparison product

++ QUALITY ++

There is no doubt that these tokens are a quality product. The printed text/icons are flawless (that I could see), the plastic itself is a good 3mm thick and the bespoke shapes are smooth and well finished. The tokens even come with a blue protective film over the top of each of them – the image further up has a few tokens with a darker hue to them, these still have protective film on them. This film is a double-edged sword, however, as I had to spend 15 minutes with a scalpel trying to get the film off without damaging the token surface… off all 37 tokens. In the end it's only a minor inconvenience that comes with what is definitely a very good product.

5/5



++ USEFULNESS ++

An odd category title, but one that presented itself when comparing the Guild Ball and Warmachine tokens. The Warmachine set is very generic – it has tokens for focus and a few common conditions, the rest are plain for you to write on. They will never have to be updated (in theory), but require some house keeping during the game. In contrast, the Guild Ball tokens are specific to each ability and condition available to the Butchers at present. Yet all the tokens look identical and I found myself having to study the small text to identify a specific ability. Each token does indicate (in a basic way) what each ability does in addition to the title.

Unfortunately, as Guild Ball expands and my team gets new players, Steamforged will no doubt have to expand the range of tokens available for my team, or re-issue this original set with additional tokens – not financially great for me.

4/5



++ OVERALL ++

I quite begrudged paying £16 for these. I certainly won't be buying them for my Morticians. But despite that, they are nice bits of kit, it cannot be denied. They are better quality than the Warmachine tokens without doubt. However, if they are to be pitched as a premium product, I would be tempted to upgrade the zip lock bag with something a bit more glam and long lasting, then add an extra page in the paper doll document for those who would rather print them out themselves.

Looking forward to putting them to some use.

4/5



Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Just One More…



Not content with two new additions to the team, I've acquired the services of the "must include" Union model for the Butchers team… Gutter.

Like most new Guild Ball players, I've trawled the internet for pearls of wisdom regarding my team of choice. To be fair, the Butchers don't require much finesse – it's all about maximising the damage output – unless you decide to go down a more challenging goal-scoring route.

From what I can see, Gutter fits into the Butcher mould perfectly and still manages to bring something new to the party. In addition to being another 2" melee player, she has an ability that will pull an opposition player towards her. This, of course, can totally mess with your opponent's plans – not to mention drag them into a world of Butcher hurtiness.



The model itself is possibly the smallest Guild Ball model I've seen (with the exception of the mascots) and I'm not convinced was worth the (discounted) £8 price tag. A very delicate model, I have been handed another pinning challenge – her hand and arm are surely thinner than Meathook's!

Like all the Guild Ball models there is lots of detail to be found on the miniature. She's also my first Union player (the Union players can join other teams as well as play on their own team) so won't be painted up in the Butcher's colours – I may need her to join another side later down the line and have no intention of buying or painting a second model!

No doubt we will be seeing more of this one soon!




Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The (Butchers) Circle Is Now Complete



As Guild Ball fever starts to ramp up I decided to push things on and get my Butchers collection complete. When starting out with a new game, a lack of knowledge can hamper your purchasing decisions, especially when not wanting to invest too much too early, and this was the case here. However, with each Guild Ball team having so (relatively) few models it made sense to give myself as many options as possible (even if they average £10 each) now that we're more committed to playing the game.

Meathook arrived from Element Games last week and I had but the briefest of glimpses at the packet before it was whisked away till the weekend.


I found myself with a spare* half hour on Saturday morning, with the house empty – rare occurrence indeed – so took the time to pin some rather dainty hands onto some rather scrawny arms. Another triumph for tiny drill bits and tiny pins. There were very few mould lines but she is now ready for an undercoat.

* I found half an hour that I could skive from the jobs list and not be found out by SWMBO. Luckily she doesn't read the blog!

I need to read up on her rules a bit more but she will add a slightly different dimension to the team when included. She's got average speed and a decent kick, albeit it a short distance. In truth Meathook is all about the Bleed condition. She dishes it out and gets bonuses when facing enemies with it. She is very INFluence greedy though, only bringing 1 to the table and looking for 4 in return!



Next we have everyone's favourite goalkeeper, Tenderiser.

You may remember I'd had problems with his arms. Seems it's quite a universal issue, but I took the opportunity this weekend to stick the last bits in place, patch up the gaps and get his base sorted. I do like this model, and the pose is appropriate to his special abilities, but I would love to see him in a traditional ice hockey goal tender's stance, making himself look big.

From a rules perspective he is first and foremost (as you would expect) about goal prevention. He is relatively slow and has typical 'big guy' stats, but his speciality is his character play list. Boom! He will provide another obstacle for opposition strikers to get past if they want to score.

I'm looking forward to getting some paint on him.




Talking of which, I've made a decision regarding the application of paint going forward. After the mad painting session before the last game I think I will apply a similar 'basics only' paint job on all my new models while I decide how useful or not they are in my team. Once I have a character that has earned a regular spot I can go back in and spend more time giving them a more worthy paint job, like Ox.

This way I get my team painted quickly and don't waste time on characters that won't see much time on the pitch. After last week's game Shank is the early contender for some more paint – although Princess is a must, being the mascot.

With a bit of luck I will be able to squeeze in a bit more time this week and we may just see some painting!


EDIT: No sooner do I post this than I get more projects to do as part of job applications! That's this week's evenings gone then, lol.



Friday, 5 February 2016

Black Plague Zombies…!


It seems an age since we pledged for the Medieval version of Zombicide on Kickstarter. It's all due to arrive in the summer, but we did receive the starter box game just before Christmas. Needless to say I haven't done much more than open the lid and have a look at the models – another game gathering dust on the shelf.


Last night my friend Chris came round for our semi-regular game night. When mulling over which game to play my mind suddenly leaped back to the aforementioned Zombicide: Black Plague – perfect for both of us.

We were limited with time so we stuck to the intro mission whilst we acclimatised to the revised rules. It definitely feels like v2 of Zombicide, with lots of extra and tweaked rules that make things that little bit better. Even the intro game was more interesting.


Our first attempt had us constantly flipping Fatties during the zombie's go, not great when you don't have a strong enough weapon! I managed to find an enormous hammer that would do the business and it didn't take long to level up a couple of times. I ended the first intro game on 30 kills!!

Our second go at the intro game had Chris take the lead with the funky weapons, racing to his first level up before I had scored a single kill. This time the Fatties were in short supply (need to shuffle the deck better!) so we positively sailed through, though it helped that we knew what we were doing this time.

Loving this game and I have to say I think it's a definite improvement over the original. Everything about it just seems stepped up a level, from the command consoles to the new skills. We haven't even go to the whole Necromancer or Abomination bits yet.

Looking forward to a bigger game!


Thursday, 4 February 2016

Aetherium: House Ikaru


Just a quick post to say that the cat is now officially out of the bag – the new Aetherium Kickstarter is live.

I've been working away since November on this bad boy, not only putting together the graphics for Kickstarter, but composing the new Schema, cards and other bits that are required for the new expansion to the game. I will start work on the new book will start imminently and I'm very excited about that!

Whether Aetherium is your thing or not, you have to admire those new models (the image below shows a few) – some of them are simply amazing – and it's been a pleasure getting to work with the new imagery so far.

Who doesn't like ninja robots?!!

We got a brief glimpse of them in the original Aetherium Kickstarter, but they've been fleshed out (so to speak) and are now a fully fledged faction of their own.

Brian, Chris and the guys at Anvil 8 Games have done an amazing job, as we're coming to expect.

Go and have a look at the Kickstarter, and if you see something you like take a punt!




No doubt there will be more Aetherium updates from behind the scenes coming soon.



Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Guild Ball: Post Match Analysis


I've had a couple of days now to let Saturday's game of Guild Ball sink in and reflect on how things went for my Butchers Team.


Well first of all we won, which is the point of Guild Ball. We also racked up all our points on take-outs alone, which is the point of Butchers. So, on paper the game was a big success, but let's take a closer look at how the team really played.


The Captain: Ox
I made a single big mistake with the captain and that was sending him off after the ball once it spilled back towards the Masons goal line. This took him away from the rest of the team and meant that nobody was benefitting from the +1 DMG that his aura provides. It also meant that everyone was out of range for any of his character plays. He was supported to an extent by Boiler early on, but it was very poor use of the main man.

He did take down Harmony, contributing 2 points, but was unable to stop Honour stealing the ball from him which ultimately led to the Masons goal.


The Young 'un: Boiler
I sent Boiler shooting off after the ball when Flint skewed his kick-off. I was pretty confident he would be safe enough and if he could hold onto the ball or pass it back to Ox then all the better. He hung around that side of the field for a large portion of the game, taking out Harmony and Honour and contributing 4 points to the final score.

His ability to dish out the Bleed condition supplied a steady loss of wounds to the Masons and this aided the taking out of Tower and forced Bull to use up Momentum to heal several other team members.

Again, not great use of character plays, though he did bestow a couple during the course of the game.


The Striker: Brisket
Oh my word. She was Goaded by the Mason's monkey early on and couldn't inflict enough damage to kill it over several turns, even supported and buffed by our own mascot, Princess. Being tied down to that extend, with all the ball-related action happening on the other side of the field was a waste.

She did turn things round a little after the Mason's goal, with the ball landing at her feet. Despite Flint tackling her, she managed to finish off the monkey and bestow the final nail in Flint's coffin, ultimately ending the game. A 4 point contribution but it's not what she's meant to do – she didn't get into the opponent's half of the pitch.


The Beast: Boar
First time using the big man, and I was very conscious of his poor movement stat and lack of INF. He got stuck in the middle of the field fighting Mallet and Tower. He came close to dying on a couple of occasions but managed to heal completely due to his regenerate ability and a bucketload of Momentum points.

All things considered he didn't inflict that much damage but became something of a tank, taking all the hits from the Mason's two big hitters.

What I should have been doing is charging him all game. He charges for free and if he inflicts damage gets to attack again – that's two free attacks! He then gets to use his one INF to hit again, gaining another free attack if damage is caused. I was getting half that at best and Boar never moved after turn 1.


The Ninja: Shank
I seemed to think that this guy was a killing machine – distracted by the lovely model with whirling chains I guess. He should actually be used as a defender to take advantage of his trait when charging damaged opponents. He should be constantly on the move – it's in his playbook – and looking to pick up the ball where he can. As a consequence of my misunderstanding he got stuck in combat in the middle of the park inflicting a few wounds here and there and taking a few in return.

He did finally take out Tower – 2 points – and stole the ball from Flint late on, poised to shoot at goal when the game ended.


The Mascot: Princess
The Butchers Dog had one main goal in this game – to buff Brisket and support her in combat when needed. This was done ably but because I felt that INF points were better used elsewhere Princess wasn't able to attack the monkey for several turns. Whilst it was mission accomplished here, I just feel the mascot could have contributed more if used better.


Conclusions
So, all was not as rosy as the scoreline might have suggested. I think from a team perspective I had a poor game and my players all performed as individuals for the most part, rather than as a team. They missed out on a lot of buffs and as such it felt like a slog getting to the 6-kill target.

Yet I shouldn't be too hard on myself. It was the first time that I had had to juggle 6 player and the first time that I had used Boar, Shank and Princess. I also came into the game without any prep so defaulted to what I knew from our earlier intro games. Positioning is everything and I think I could have afforded to give the Masons possession of the ball for a while instead of chasing it down like a rabid dog and losing position as a consequence. Like any footy coach will tell you, play to your strengths, maintain the team structure and don't go running all over the pitch chasing the ball like school boys!


The other thing to consider is whether to swap out some personnel. I have Tenderiser, my goalkeeper, waiting in the wings. I then have the option of the (recently ordered–oops) missing Butcher, Meathook. Eventually we will get our new captain… Fillet. Decisions, decisions.

Looking forward to the next full game and seeing what myself and Bull have learned about our respective teams (and our opponents).



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