Wednesday, 31 August 2016

40k: All About Eldar


Almost 20 years ago, when I first started by Dark Templar space marines, Games Workshop revamped the Eldar model range. Naturally, being a twentysomething with lots of cash and few responsibilities I decided to start an Eldar army as well – my Drassan Craftworld Eldar. They had a background, a funky purple colour scheme and I spent a long time painting up 20 Guardians. Many of the other models I purchased never got to see paint and in the end I donated many of them to our resident Eldar player. I kept hold of a few key models though and vowed one day to complete my Eldar army. A familiar story on this blog I think you'll agree and one that is often accompanied by a rolling of the eyes and a wry smile.

Fast forward to present day. I've just dusted off the paints and invested some time and money in resurrecting my Dark Templar marines – so what happens next? That's right! I rediscovered my Eldar models in their (rather dusty) case and thought "They'd be great for our 40k in 40 minutes revival games".

Having decided during the intervening years that my Dark Templar would be represented by a purple colour scheme, the Eldar were looking like sad copycats (despite being the originators of this rather funky colour palette) and in need of a refresh. After lots of contemplation I thought I would test my Blood Angel red recipe and go for a Saim-Hann look.

The test models

All went well and the excitement grew (as it invariably does). I recalled that Bull had acquired the aforementioned Eldar army from our former gaming pal and had resided in his garage for many years - including two house moves – since it last saw the gaming table. Never one to lower himself to using the pointy ears, I asked Bull if he needed to clear some garage space, explaining my readiness to aid his Eldar infestation. He was very receptive and proceeded to catalogue the collection, as indeed it turned out to be an entire collection of Eldar models - many, many more than I had remembered.

The newly acquired Eldar Host…

Last Friday I dropped by on my way home from work and collected the entire lot, much to my wife's disappointment. I spent the evening going through everything. So many memories of past battles held in one cardboard box - the number of models I considered nemesis at one time or another was quite unbelievable. There was something strangely satisfying having them laid out on the table in front of me, knowing their future was in my hands - hahahahaaaa!

Five dusty, falling apart Vypers
I picked out the key models that I wanted to include in my own collection and spent some time fixing, rebuilding and undercoating, ready for their new red colour scheme.

Two solid, undercoated Vyper chassis
No promises here as, already, available hobby time has evaporated in favour of essential chores and family time, but the enthusiasm is still there so I'm hoping to get a few more models painted before they hit the hobby cupboard again. I also have quite a few models to put up on Ebay, some of them quite old and no longer available. However, I'm determined that the Eldar will see the light of day again and face the Orks once more in battle.


To be continued...


Friday, 19 August 2016

My Zombicide: Black Plague Dream Team



Over the last couple of weeks I've been highlighting my choices for a Black Plague Dream Team - the characters that I think make up an elite team for running your average ZBP scenario.

Here's the recap...


THE ATTACKERS:



Xuxa is my main melee choice for the simple reason that she can take down an Abomination from the opening turn. Once tooled up with a couple of decent melee weapons, she's the one you can rely on to take down the big bad guys with ease. She's also pretty nifty with a bow if there is an abundance of gear.


Morgan is my main magic choice. He quickly accumulates additional dice to his magic actions and is the magic equivalent of an assault cannon. He's not suited to take down the bigger foes but when it comes time to clear entire zones, and there's no dragon bile in sight, Morgan is your man. Be warned though he will level up very quickly once let loose.



Cadence is my main ranged choice. She is built to be a sniper thanks to starting with the Marksman skill. Her main role is to take down Necromancers as they roam through the zombie hordes. Give her a Longbow and she can do this from 3 zones away. Because the Longbow won't take up a hand slot she can arm herself with other gear to expand her contributions.



THE SUPPORTERS:




James was added as the main Searcher of the group. His abilities allow him to pick up multiple cards when performing a search action, which will in turn speed up the process of gearing up the survivors. He also has ranged and magic skill available later on so will support in combat as the game progresses.



Theo is my runner. He starts the game with the Sprint ability, allowing him to move faster than anyone else. His main role will be to run about the place, opening doors early on and grabbing objectives before the zombies numbers start to tell. He is also decent in a fight which will help him achieve his goal when out on his own, as well as when supporting the rest of the team.



Gowan is my tank, plain and simple. His ability to regenerate lost wounds means that he can be thrown into the thick of things and make sure other key members of the team don't die. He needs to be given a shield and armour as soon as possible to enhance his wound-taking ability. Once he's levelled to max he becomes immune to certain zombie types, making him untouchable... almost.



So there you go. That's my Dream Team. It's been fun doing the theory-crafting but the real test will coming on the gaming table. Some of these characters have already proved themselves, some yet to be tested.

I'd be interested to see if anyone has alternative characters in their Dream Team, and why.


Thursday, 18 August 2016

Black Plague: The Dream Team – part 6


This penultimate post in the Dream Team series is a day later than anticipated - I thought I'd ramp up the drama! Earlier this week I inducted character number 5 into the team, who gets the final spot and why?

All best laid plans can go awry, even if you're running an elite team (have you seen Predator?), so it helps to have someone around who can mitigate any problems should your team have a round of shooting blanks or hitting like a schoolgirl. Basically you need either a tank (someone who can take the hits for the team) or a healer (someone who can recover any lost wounds). The ideal would of course be someone who can do both.

There is a healing spell floating around in the gear deck but you're probably better off giving that to someone with the Spellcaster skill should it appear, in effect making it a free heal. Spellcasting and tanking don't tend to go hand in hand so we may need to look elsewhere for an individual to take one for the team.

Another mitigation skill that I discovered is Lifesaver. This allows the character to be able to pull another survivor in an adjacent zone into his zone, pulling them out of danger. That sounds good, but costs an action when there might be better solutions to a situation. Shove has the opposite effect, pushing zombies out of the character's zone into an adjacent one. Another very useful skill, but needs to be tested first I think. Neither of these will be of much use if the zombies get a bonus turn and your character is lying in a pool of his own snot before he can take an action.

The ultimate tanking skill surely has to be Ironclad:X which makes the character immune to attacks from zombie type X. Only one character has this at the beginning - Gregoire - and his immunity is against Zombie Wolfz, which is pretty good. Is it Dream Team quality though? Is it enough?

The only other character that I can see with the Ironclad skill is Gowan, who gets to choose between being immune to Fatties, Walkers or Runners once he reaches red level. That is awesome, the only negative being that he has a lot of levelling up to do before he gets there. The thing that gets him into my Zombicide: Black Plague Dream Team is his opening ability, which is Regeneration.

As we discovered in our Black Plague game day at the beginning of the month, taking a couple of wounds on behalf of your teammates and be able to heal them automatically at the end of the turn is a superb ability to have from the start. Throw in some armour and a shield to negate some of those wounds before they land and you have a true tank! Should things get nasty and Gowan levels into the red, he is now immune to your zombie flavour of choice! Stunning!

So by my reckoning that's my Dream Team complete. Just to be sure all the bases are covered I'll do a recap and a look at the team as a group.




Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Black Plague: The Dream Team – part 5


My Zombicide: Black Plague Dream Team currently consists of Xuxa, Morgan, Cadence and James (to give them their official in-games names).

Speed can be a bonus when you need to grab an objective or get a door open in a hurry (usually trying to out-run an undead mob at the same time). In the Black Plague box, Nelly is your go-to gal with her free move action at the beginning of a game. This comes in handy but sometimes it's not fast enough.

My choice for character number 5 in my Dream Team is Theo, from the Wulfsburg expansion box. He doesn't have a free Move action. What he does have is Sprint

"So what does that do?" I hear you ask.

Sprint allows you to use one of your actions to move the survivor up to THREE zones! So, once Theo has levelled up initially he could move up to 6 zones if he used all his actions to move. 

Let me say that again… Theo could move 6 zones in a single turn!!

He doesn't have any other movement orientated skills like Slippery, but at orange level he gets to boost his melee or ranged ability and at red level he could take Marksman (though by that point you probably won't need it).

His body slot will take a standard sword so you could equip his hand slots with a second sword and/or ranged weapon. Not unlike James, he will never be one of your bigger hitters unless he gets into trouble, but will support the rest of the team well enough I think. He has a specific skill that will come in very handy – he's bloody fast when you need it!

So, only one character slot left to go. Who will be our final Dream Teamer?


Monday, 15 August 2016

Black Plague: The Dream Team – part 4



With my choices now made for the main Melee, Ranged and Magic slots within my Dream Team, it's time to look at the supporting characters and see what gems can be uncovered.

One of the primary goals early on in a game is to gather gear for everyone and the main way to do that is to Search. James (Sean Connery's character William of Baskerville from the 1986 film Name of the Rose) gets to take an extra card every Search action. Whilst other characters may get a free Search action, getting two gear cards instead of one means that the team will be geared up a lot quicker.

To boost this ability further, his third gear slot allows him to take a Torch. This allows him to take an additional card when he searches… wait ANOTHER card?! Yep, once he has a Torch, James can take 3 gear cards for every Search action. Wow – it's like Supermarket Sweep in a dungeon! In addition, he could also take a Transposition spell that would (in effect) give him a second search (albeit he couldn't take 3 cards for that!) – if he picked his Spellcaster skill later on, this extra 'search' would be free.

Now, the obvious flip side to all that is once your team has decent gear he becomes redundant, does he not?

Well I don't think he will be relied upon as much, once the team's gear is looking healthy. However, because he can take the Torch in his third 'body' slot, it means he still gets to carry a couple of weapons. The skills available to James means that he can go down the Magic route or Ranged and have some impact (giving him a Longbow and the +1 max Range ability would allow him to shoot zombies up to 4 zones away!).

This ultimately means he plays an essential role early on and will not be too shabby as the game progresses – he can always search for better gear!



Friday, 12 August 2016

Black Plague: The Dream Team – part 3



Now the (obvious) initial members of my Dream Team have been chosen, we're on to number three. Xena and Merlin have filled the main melee and magic combat roles respectively, time to look at ranged combat options.

This slot in the team was quite contentious as (by my reckoning) there were three good candidates. The original Black Plague box comes with Silas. He gets a bonus to his ranged dice rolls from the off and can pick up a free ranged attack later on. He's a solid choice without being outstanding.

Bull brought Genevieve to our game day and she had a great time. Starting the game with +1 ranged damage meant that she was a Fatty killer early on. She got an extra ranged dice after levelling up a couple of times and was very effective, especially once she got hold of the Orcish Crossbow.

It was only when I went trawling through the collection of Kickstarter character cards that I discovered Cadence (from the Marc Simonetti box set) and she quickly became my ranged choice for the Dream Team.

So what makes her so special?

One thing stood out here, making her a unique member of the team – Marksman. She has the ability to ignore the usual targeting priority and choose her target in a given zone… from the start of the game!

That means that when it comes to taking out Necromancers – from distance – she's the man.

Throw into the mix here that she can add a Longbow (sniper rifle) to her third body slot and add some extra arrow in her backpack and an extra range dice once at orange level and you have the assets of a true sniper – if you manage to get a second Longbow even better. Multiple ranged shots (no reloads required thanks Genevieve) up to 3 zones away and the ability to pick out a Necromancer in crowd means that losing a game thanks to 6 spawn points being on the table is much less likely. Not having to commit key characters to march in the opposite direction to the exit in order to achieve this is simply awesome.

So, wow, we're half way to completing my Zombicide: Black Plague Dream Team. Where do we go from here?


Thursday, 11 August 2016

Black Plague: The Dream Team – part 2



With the first member of my Dream Team chosen, it's time to look at the second slot on the roster. It will be no surprise to anyone who read my post about our recent Black Plague day that my second dream team survivor is Morgan (Merlin, from the 1981 film Excalibur).

There are several spellcasters available to the Black Plague player, but what I liked about Morgan is the number of dice he accumulated as he levelled up. His sole task during our games was to get hold of a couple of fireball spells and clear zones. At one point during our games he was rolling six dice per attack. Occasionally he would use a longer range spell to snipe a particular walker/runner/wolf from distance, but he became a bit of a Grim Reaper for the low level zombies.

In fact he got so good at this role he began to level at an exponential rate and we had to pull him off the front lines to prevent other lower level characters being unable to cope with the increased spawn rate.

He starts with an extra dice for combat actions - not just spell actions - which means regardless of what gear he starts the game with he will cope well until he gets hold of his fireball spells.

Again, I have not looked too deeply at the range of his abilities, options or combinations, but with a single role to play - the fireball wielding mage - he is a very solid choice and has already proved it over the course of an afternoon's gaming. Plus, let's be honest, the model is very easy to paint, so there's another bonus.

Two down!


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Black Plague: The Dream Team – part 1


After the hilarity that was last Saturday's game(s) of Zombicide: Black Plague at Awdry Towers I got thinking (as the others already have) about which characters available from the Kickstarter would make up the ultimate team of survivors. Obviously every scenario is situational, and you would probably want to tweak your lineup depending upon what the mission was, but if you had to pick your dream team which six survivors would it include?

By pure luck I had picked out Xuxa (Xena, Warrior Princess) as one of my characters at the weekend, without knowing any of her skills. It turns out I picked a shoe-in for the dream team for sure if for no other reason than she can take out an Abomination from the start (assuming she had hold of a melee weapon). Super Strength as a starting skill is just outrageous, completely sick, and effectively takes the fear out of the early game.

Broken rule? I think so.

But that is not her only contribution. As she levels up she gets bonus dice in melee and by the time she is in orange she's not scared of anything face to face.

Still not enough for you? She can have a Longbow (medieval sniper rifle) in the third free slot, throw in some extra arrows in the back pack and she can take down enemies from 3 squares away with a re-roll.

So without over analysing her options, abilities and combinations, Xuxa is already one of the most powerful characters you can take in the game. Plus the model is pretty awesome too.

So that's the first character in my Zombicide: Black Plague dream team – who's next?


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Zombies, Wolves and Abominations… Oh My!


Saturday finally arrived and myself and Bull drove down to Awdry Towers to join Michael for a game of Zombicide Black Plague. Now, whilst both Mr Awdry and Bull had carefully chosen and painted their respective survivors, I had not. In fact I had not brought anything with me aside from a box of Zombie Archers, which would prove to be quite a game changer.

I chose two random (unpainted) characters from the back catalogue of Kickstarter goodies – Xena (after seeing Stefan's painted miniature) and Merlin – and they turned out to be absolute heroes on the day. So much so that they have been singled out from my own collection and sit on the painting table alongside the space marine scouts.

The day started with a scenario from the Kickstarter stretch goal PDF. A fun game with an altar of fire that doused the room in which it was standing in dragon fire at the end of every turn. In all honesty we were lucky. As well as we played, things definitely went in our favour and the game was completed with little to stress about. By the numbers.

The poorly equipped search for better gear while the big hitters guard the hallways
For game 2 we added the wolves and chose a scenario from the expansion box set. Their 3 actions per turn (and the fact they often turned up in packs of 3 or 4) added a whole new dimension to the game. The scenario itself was great and we had to methodically work our way through it. Our team of survivors was humming like a machine (aside from Klom who seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, most of the time – considering he was by far the biggest model on the table he saw very little combat all afternoon and was often the first model to Exit – genius plan for surviving!).

Master blaster Merlin lays waste to wave upon wave of zombies
– he was levelling so quickly we had to pull him away!
We had the game in the palm of our hands, but there was a flaw in our vision. We had forgotten (or blissfully unaware) about the rule regarding Necromancers. We were within striking distance of the exit when a Necromancer appeared. There were now six spawn points on the board – if he made it to another spawn point we would instantly lose the game. Unfortunately things got a lot worse as two more Necromancer cards turned up – speeding him on his way.

So close yet so far away – the Exit in game 2
We got the the exit and 3 of our survivors left the board with the other three not quite able to reach it. It came down to the last set of zombie spawn cards – if a Necromancer card appeared he would exit the board and we would instantly lose, if a card didn't appear we could all leave next turn and win. There were 6 cards to draw, each drawn slowly to ramp up the drama.

Zombie card…

Zombie card…

Zombie card…

Zombie card…

Necromancer card…

…Arghh!!


We had lost the game despite playing it very well. Fantastic game.


After a brief food break we cracked on with a third game that introduced the zombie archers. Taking 'bites' from distance really does change the landscape and adds another serious threat to think about.

Technically we lost this one too – Klom got a bit excited and charged into melee only for a 'walker extra turn' card to appear, the zombies munching him into small bits. We took a mulligan and carried on ("didn't really happen!, didn't really happen!"). Take 2 ended in a slick finish and the survivors walked away unscathed.

Awesome day of gaming – thank you to Bull and Michael (and the saintly Mrs Awdry). Good times!


Friday, 5 August 2016

40k Narrative: The Dark Templar – part 1



The Dark Templar were a broken chapter.

Constant war against a torrent of foes had brought them to the edge of extinction. Their homeworld destroyed, the survivors had been hiding out in deep space for centuries, gathering resources and rebuilding what they could.

Their fall from grace had been swift and out of nowhere. The reality was it had only been the 1st Company that had turned, but to the rest of the Imperium the entire chapter was tainted. They had been hunted down by the entire universe it seemed – other loyal chapters were dispatched to exterminate them and, once on the run, other races could smell blood and went in for the easy kill.

But they had not succumbed to the weight of hatred, they had endured a terrible trial and survived… just about. They lacked a lot of the resources that any other chapter would have. They also lacked numbers. Many of the chapter's veteran marines had been killed – a terrible loss indeed – but they were rebuilding and recruiting. Focus has shifted to sourcing and training initiates and the ranks were slowly being fleshed out again. It was now time to find a more permanent base of operations.

Scouts were sent out to recon a select number of planets. To see who else was about and the viability of a long-term stay. One such planet was #0204/211214… or Draa'san as the Dark Templar knew it in their native tongue. A small contingent, led by Sergeant Taal, made planetfall in the southern hemisphere and began their search.

Who, or what would they find…?




Illustration sourced from WH40k wiki and re-coloured by yours truly.


P.S. I've posted this at 7:45pm on Friday evening but Blogger is so useless you guys probably won't see it for another 5 hours if past experience is any indication!


Thursday, 4 August 2016

40k Combat Patrol Escalation


In my last post I mentioned that myself and Bull are going to dip our toes back into the murky 40k waters, albeit in a low-key and retro fashion.

We're going to give 40k in 40 minutes - otherwise known as Combat Patrol - a go and we're going to use hallowed 4th Edition rules and codexes. This takes us back to our glory days of 40k and tournaments. Good times.


So the opening challenge is to create a 400pt combat patrol army to face Bull's (forgone conclusion) Orks. I managed to conjure up 4 chaos armies almost instantly, influenced heavily by former tournament army lists. However, as I hinted at previously, I wanted to take this opportunity to do something different. Given that I have almost no hobby time these days this is an insane road to go down - but I already have several unfinished hobby projects... what's one more right?!

I have never had a fully functioning loyal space marine army. I have my first incarnation Dark Templar back in the late 90s when I first started playing 40k tournaments, but they never felt like a cohesive army, rather a random collection of models I liked played under a Black Templar army list.


I already have an Imperial Fist project underway. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone - get a new army together and finish my IF project. But that would be too obvious and straightforward.

I've made the decision to go back to my Dark Templar and show them a bit of love. Now, the idea for the DT was that they would all be in Mk VI armour. This inevitably involves a lot of grief in terms of collection specific bits, casting up bits in resin, sculpting icons onto shoulder pads, etc. - something I don't have a lot of time for.


With that in mind I've decided to start slowly, in the same way an Escalation league would. I've also decided to re-use a lot of models I already have - scouts!



I already have over 20 models with bolters/combat weapons. I also have my 4 snipers that have been an ongoing project forever.


My starting force will, of course, be 400 pts which seems a very achievable target (let's be honest if I can't manage that I might as well not bother, lol). I can then slowly add to the force as I try different lists for my 400 point games. Once I have a reasonable number of models we could up the game size, and so on.

Those of you who have been following the blog a while will know I've been here before many times - lots of great ideas without much coming to full fruition. Wonder how this one will go?


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