30 April 2012

Post Match Analysis

Epic Lylyth

So my first game (or two) of Hordes happened on Saturday – you can read the narrative here – and I've had the rest of the weekend to swallow and digest the results. Continuing that metaphor, today's post is the satisfying belch followed by coffee and a mint, the only fly in the soup being me trying to eat said soup with a fork – using range-orientated support spells with a melee-based army.

The spells I didn't have!
For those who missed Saturday's narrative, my biggest post-game discovery was that my Legion of Everblight starter box had the wrong spell card in it – I had been given Epic Lylyth's spells instead of normal Lylyth's spells. This wouldn't be a problem except, as mentioned above, Epic Lylyth has developed her ranged combat abilities and passes on lots of ranged bonuses to her warpack. Only problem is the starter box warpack contains (virtually) no ranged combat ability so the spell set, and indeed her feat, were largely ineffective.

Putting aside the spell issue (along with any more food-related metaphors) how did things go? At the end of the day I lost two games. Game 1 I'm not too concerned with as we were just trying things out and making lots of mistakes – I threw my heavy Carnivean out front to see what would happen for example. That game got us through the basics to a point where we could feel more confident going into a second game. It allowed us to learn a little about what our respective warpacks could do which would allow us to play a (slightly) more tactical follow-up battle.

The Circle of Orboros starter warpack

Game 2 is where things got interesting.

I had learned that Bull's 2-headed Argus has a crippling ranged attack that would reduce the defence of any model caught under the template and prevent running or charging. This had a devastating effect in game 1, which made them a priority kill in game 2. His Feral Warpwolf was a big hitter with a lot of wounds, as expected. When the three Circle beasts attack en masse I could not survive (as you would expect) so they had to be picked off individually. Kaya had an annoying teleport ability which, whether used offensively or defensively, can mess up your plans so you need to stay on your toes and have a back up. I came away feeling very positive – the game 2 loss came down (literally) to the roll of a single dice – and I've found you tend to learn more after a loss.

The Legion of Everblight starter warpack

As for my own warpack. Lylyth has good ranged attack option with her bow and anything hit is 'marked' so additional attacks to the same target receive bonuses. This was a linchpin to my tactics and proved to be key. It meant I could spend Fury points to boost the attacks of my beasts instead of using them to charge into combat. With the 'correct' spells available to her Lylyth will become even more effective, able to strip defenders armour and even damage the opposing warcaster when she leached Fury from her own beasts.

My nasty looking Carnivean heavy warbeast can deal out some heavy damage, although we didn't see him in full effect. The reason for this is that he is relatively fragile in terms of Defence and, when hit by the Argus template attack, can be easily taken down. The Shredder warbeasts are like pawns. They have the ability to go Rabid and become quite nasty in melee, but against something the size of the Feral Warpwolf they don't do much damage without a lot of boosting. They also die very easily, never surviving more than one hit, so you have to choose your moment to send them in and try and make sure they kill whatever they attack.

I have already acquired a number of additional models for my Legion of Everblight army, however I am tempted to stick with this starter warpack for a while as I think they have a lot of potential. They have the ability to kick out a lot of damage, but they can't take it so I have to be the one to initiate the charge. The warpack's ability to pretty much ignore forests makes that kind of terrain fantastic for me – having the huge Carnivean hiding behind a forest is great, the enemy unable to see or attack him yet he can see and charge them as if the forest isn't there, amazing.

Thoughts going forward?

I don't know if it's because we played a few games of Warmachine a while ago (6 years or so!) but I found the Hordes rules very easy to learn. After the game 1 walkthrough the stabilisers came off and I felt in control of my own destiny. We're still at a basic level – haven't touched power attacks which will open a whole new range of destruction – but I feel like we hit the ground running. Things are destined to get a lot more brutal in the coming months, even at this starter level.

I learned a fair bit about the Shredders and I'm learning to love them. I did initially think they were too lightweight to deal with my Circle opponents but that is only the case head to head. By tweaking how I use them they can be quite deadly and I intend to prove that very soon.

The Carnivean didn't give a great show at the weekend. He is such a target due to the potential damage he can do that he gets battered as soon as the enemy is in range. Again I have to change my thinking about how to use him – he is not a straight up tank because he can't take sustained damage but if I can get the drop on my enemy he should be killing stuff with ease.

My warlock Lylyth is amazing. She has a great set of spells (it turns out) and she has a reliable ranged attack. She's not great in combat and she can't take more than one big hit (as we saw in game 2) but if she ends up in melee I've played her incorrectly and exposed her too much. I hope she is going to shine and I am confident that she will be orchestrating the downfall of the Circle of Orboros soon!

Then there's the models. I am loving the models. I was out of my comfort zone having to paint a 6-model crew in time for Saturday's game but, now that I can go back and paint details at leisure, things will get more enjoyable. I have also vowed not to field any unpainted models, basic paint job minimum. With several new models already vying for paintbrush attention this will make a pleasant change from the Malifaux models for a while.

I hope to have a painting-related post later this week – post number 200 for the blog – to update how the crew is looking and maybe a sneak peak at some of the upcoming stuff.

…I also hope to be adding more video to the blog after my test clip

28 April 2012

Hordes Tutorial Games – Lylyth vs Kaya

It's been a week since Salute and the purchase of our Hordes starter boxes. We've had that week to build and paint our models and now it's time to play our first game.

Aside from the Quick Start Rules included in the box sets, I am the only one who has the full Hordes rulebook and, me being me, I have read it cover to cover, several times to try and understand the way the game plays. I've always been a bit of a rules junkie/jobsworth (my time playing tournaments is to blame) but this attention to detail often keeps us on track and prevents one or other getting away with murder.

For the unfamiliar, the lineups were as follows…

My Legion of Everblight wargroup consisted of my warlock Lylyth, 4x Shredders (lesser warbeasts) and a Carnivean (heavy warbeast).

Bull's Circle of Orboros wargroup was made up of his warlock Kaya, 2x Argus (light warbeasts) and a Feral Warpwolf (heavy warbeast).


But first, who are these factions and why would they be fighting?

The dragon Everblight exists now as an athanc, the heartstone of the dragon buried in the chest of the Ogrun Thagrosh, transformed by the influence of the dragon’s blight. Together they have dominated the nation of Nyss ice elves and produced an army of monstrous draconic spawn to support them. Everblight constantly experiments with the power of his blight’s influence on the Nyss, warping the species into various specialised soldiers, and creating a range of spawn perfectly designed for each battlefield role.

The Circle is a cabal of druids who dwell in wilds and have a dark and sinister reputation with the civilized nations who believe they worship the Devourer Wurm – the terrifying god of the wilds. In actuality the druids draw on the latent energies of the earth, storms and animals to combat civilization and keep the Devourer Wurm from returning and destroying the world. The three Omnipotents that lead the Circle are the most powerful human spellcasters in the world. Savage tribesmen, terrifying beasts and the very land itself marches alongside the Circle when they go to war.


Game 1…

This was very much a learn as we go and we walked our way through the rules, forgetting lots of things, getting things wrong and generally doing things that aren't good for your health but produce situations that require reading up on.

I threw my heavy warbeast out in front and the two armies came crashing together. Alas, after inflicting a lot of damage on one of the dogs, my Carnivean got mugged by the combined strength of the Circle warbeasts and went down in a puddle of his own snot.

Things carried on in this vein, my lesser beasts not up to the challenge of taking down the Circle on their own. Lylyth was left by herself – first blood to the Circle of Orboros.

Game 2…

This time I decided to play more to my strengths – Lylyth's ranged attacks and the fact that my entire pack can ignore forrest terrain in terms of Line of Sight and Movement. I sat back and danced around the trees, inviting my opponent to come and get me.

Unfortunately, being a little too clever for my own good, I over-generated Fury on my beasts. This meant that at the beginning of turn 2 I couldn't leech all the Fury off – three of my lesser beasts frenzied and tore chunks out of each other. As if fighting the Circle wasn't good enough, the 'kids' were fighting amongst themselves – hilarious gaming moment.

Eventually the Circle pack made it to my lines, albeit shot to pieces by Lylyth. I'd managed to get rid of one of the pesky dogs and things were looking up. However, another mistake from me left the Carnivean a little exposed… and in Hordes there is no forgiveness.

The fight raged on, on an abslute knife edge. Bull still had two out of three beasts but they were battered and bruised – I had three of my lessers, but they can't survive more than a single hit.

In an ironic twist, Bull managed to repeat my Fury mistake from earlier and his Heavy Warpwolf frenzied. Alas I had charged in with my Shredders which meant they were they closest models – he wasn't going to kill his own warlock today. One boosted attack later I was down a Shredder but he had used up his turn in doing so.

It was down to the last throw of the dice (literally). If Lylyth could survive a round of melee combat from Kaya she would have the advantage in the next turn – Kaya would have no Fury to spend – my last remaining Shredder would most likely kill the sole surviving Warpwolf…or Lylyth could take down Kaya.

Alas Kaya had other plans and hacked Lylyth down.

2-0 to the Circle of Orboros – congrats Bull, a very exciting second game. A lot to take away and reflect upon for next time.



After sitting down with my Legion book last night I discovered that I had been using the wrong spells with Lylyth. It would appear that not only did my Legion of Everblight starter box have a missing leg, but it also included the card for Epic Lylyth rather than Normal Lylyth.

These 'wrong' spells are geared towards a ranged army, which is not what the starter group is – I did wonder what the point of some of the spells were. The 'correct' spells should arm me with the ability to inflict much more damage on the Circle wargroup – I demand a rematch!

26 April 2012

Painting the Everblight starter set

In my last post I explained the building experience of this set, now it was on to the painting.

I was happy to follow the official colour scheme for the Legion but I couldn't get hold of the P3 paint set while at Salute. I did manage to pick up some individual paints, most importantly Coal Black which is a key colour of the faction and quite unique. Monday afternoon I went to the local art shop and bought a Vallejo Sky Blue to help with the skin colour as I didn't own a light blue. This blue is much bluer than the Frostbite colour used in the tutorials, but it was a lot closer than what I had.

I jumped in with two feet, feeling somewhat under pressure to get these models finished for the weekend. Problem was I didn't have a plan in my head about how to achieve the result I wanted and just started painting. Four coats of paint later my Shredders were looking pretty bad and I was no closer to my goal. I was also in danger of starting to obscure some of the finer detail due to sheer volume of paint on the miniatures. I swear these things would bounce if you dropped them!

I went back to the drawing board, gave them a liberal coat of the Sky Blue then washed them with a diluted Fenris Grey. Tuesday morning I sat down and started to highlight with thin layers of the Sky Blue, hoping to find something that I liked. This resorted to heavier overbrushing to get a more solid result (above).

Meanwhile Lylyth's armour had been painted, washed and highlighted the night before (whilst waiting for the various Shredder coats to dry) but had absolutely no harmony with the little beasties. I tidied up the metallic drybrushing overspill and started on her blue skin, which would (eventually) match the beasts' skin. Basecoat, wash and first highlight later things were looking a little better (above).

The weather wasn't helping much. Constant rain made it difficult to get the last Shredder and the Carnivean spray undercoated. Eventually there was enough black spray on there to warrant a paint brush for the gaps.

Tuesday evening I managed to complete the undercoating of the last Shredder and the Carnivean. This was swiftly followed by a basecoat of Fenris Grey, a liberal overbrushing of the Sky Blue (two coats in the end on the big beastie), then a wash of the diluted Fenris Grey.

Wednesday morning saw a heavy drybrush of Sky Blue over the Carnivean and Shredder. Finally the wargroup was starting to look like they belonged together.

I had an hour's window of painting time when I got in from work so decided to make full use of it. I highlighted the Shredders with white, watered down to a ridiculous extent so that I could build up highlights slowly and more subtly. Though quite rushed by my standards, I'm pleased with the direction they are going. The plan is to add some shadows back in with the blue then a final (small) pure white highlight to key places. That should give me the ice-like quality I wanted the dragonspawn skin to have. I then have to repeat the process with the big fella. Armoured plates and spikes will be in a contrasting black.

I used some of the remaining white on my palette to give Lylyth a quick skin highlight and, again, my group of miniatures look like a cohesive crew.

With only a couple of hours on Friday night to paint before Saturday's game, I'm not likely to finish but that's ok – every model has paint on it now. I'd like to take that time to add some highlights to the Carnivean and get Lylyth's cloak started.

I realised that I haven't attempted to paint this many miniatures at the same time for over three years; with Malifaux I paint one model at a time. Not sure I like going back to the multi-mini approach, I certainly haven't enjoyed it as much due to the pressure I've felt. However, I think I've broken the back of this lot so I should enjoy painting the details. Once this group are complete I can add to them a model at a time (unless I add units) and enjoy the painting process more.

24 April 2012

Legion of Everblight starter set

After the fun and games last week putting together the Plastic Cryx starter set, I bottled it and decided not to wait (7 days) for the release of the plastic Legion starter box – the metal version made it into my Salute haul.

This was like going back to building 40k and Fantasy models in the past – lots of metal, lots of pinning and lots of greenstuff. There was a certain familiarity and comfort in that… for 10 minutes at least.

Image by Brushthralls

The warlock Lylyth is a lovely model, despite being my least favourite sculpt for this character. It came in 3 pieces and one of them (a rather bulky arrow) I decided not to add. I quickly pinned her bow to her arm – first model built already, a flying start.

Image by Brushthralls

Next I looked at the Shredders, 4 of them, who were smaller than I imagined for some reason. It was then I discovered that I was missing a single leg – what a pain in the backside! I decided to put them to one side, as there was a pile of metal staring at me from the box that would eventually become the monstrous Carnivean.

Image by Brushthralls

This model is a beast and I'm not talking about his role in the animal kingdom. 15 pieces of metal, nearly all of which would need pinning and no doubt filling. I had a serious concern about him being very top heavy, especially as his stance had him leaning forward. I looked at the resin base options I had but went with the basic plastic one provided in the end, sticking a penny piece underneath for what use it would be.

My Carnivean – with Deneghra for scale comparison

Several hours later I had a Heavy Beast staring at me. The only drama was having my drill bit snap as I was drilling the hole to pin his head in place – the very last piece to be added, typical. I spent the next hour filling gaps and filing. He was looking great and remarkably well-balanced. Now it was time to go back to the Shredders (referred to on some sites as "Littlenoms" – genius).

Consisting of only a body and two legs, these models should have been a doddle to build. I couldn't face pinning these so went for it. Eventually, having stuck every piece to my fingers at some point, I had 3 completed Shredders. In order to aid security and longevity I tried to ensure that every model had three points of contact with the base.

Stay away from minefields now kids

With the fourth, one-legged Shredder I wasn't going to be able to do this. I twisted the one leg he did have so that it looked like he was reeling in pain. Once glued in place I set to with the greenstuff, spending as little time as I could get away with to create an amputated limb for the poor unfortunate soul.

I have since found an awesome blog entry showing how to construct and paint the box set in 10 days – go have a look at Brushthralls.

The three 'luckier' Shredders

At this point everything was based and left to dry. By the end of the weekend I had even managed to undercoat Lylyth and the 3 fully functioning Shredders.

My warlock Lylyth

Monday evening I sat down with the paints. I was keen to get Lylyth painted up and splash a little colour on the Shredders. Things didn't go quite to plan, but that's for another time.

I have four days to go till my first Hordes game, and with Wednesday and Thursday evenings out, will the Warpack be painted in time?

22 April 2012

My Salute 2012…

So after all the excitement, the day of Salute 2012 finally arrived. As planned I met up with Bull at Bluewater and we had a catch up over breakfast before heading out to Excel. For the first time ever we had to queue to get in, which I'm putting down to us arriving earlier than previous years – won't be doing that again!

Once inside we set off on a scout around before a coffee break, then back in for the serious business of purchases. Unfortunately I was so distracted by the bright lights and shiny things around me that I completely lost track of time and missed the arranged meeting of the bloggers in the seating area. By the time I realised and made my way there everyone had dispersed – at that point it was a needle and haystack scenario to find any individuals. Bit gutted about that, although I did spot 'Postie' later on whilst I was chatting at the Critical Mass stand.

As promised I took some pics of things that caught my eye…

Malifaux demo games on Terraclips boards

Malifaux wild west board

The Critcal Mass guys

The amazing Busido board I saw at SELWEG
A new fantastic Bushido board

Very unique terrain idea

Excellent 28mm Steampunk battle

Breathtaking Samurai battle board

My pick of the day:
Freebooter's Fate board

Massive battle of Warmachine

Unique 40k game with islands and flyers

For a more comprehensive set of photos, have a look at Tomsche's blog.

As for my own haul, I managed to do ok. Quite a few items I was after were out of stock, which is a pain. However I managed to pick up most of my "Must buys" apart from the items I had a change of heart about. I managed to come home with £100 so the wife was happy too!

The main thing was Bull and I picking up starter boxes for Hordes. I have a game day book in with him next weekend, so it's a race to build things ready in time for an intro game. Two things I can almost guarantee: firstly my models will be build (solidly) but not painted; secondly Bull's box set will be built and painted by about Wednesday, but none of it pinned and there will be emergency glueing to come. I'll post more about this later in the week.

20 April 2012

Big day tomorrow…

So with only a day to go before myself and Bull set off for Salute I'm feeling rather upbeat – if I can just get through Friday's work day unscathed…ha!

We're meeting up at the Bluewater shopping centre for some breakfast before heading off to Excel. It's become a bit of a ritual now and makes a surprisingly good meeting place, albeit half an hour away from the venue, plus breakfast is a must before a big event like this. We should get to Salute around 11am, depends how well the tea and bacon sarnies are going down!

If you can spot this funny guy…

Six glasses of wine for breakfast makes you look like this!

…wearing this t-shirt…

The real one will actually be ironed on the day!

…with a camera around his neck most likely, you've found me!

If you don't want to shout "Dark Templar!" across the hall to get my attention try "Mike!" – although you may find a dozen blokes turn around at the same time!

The shopping list is looking a tad more sensible.

Must buys:
Replacement metal Cryx warcaster;
Cryx Warwitch Siren character;
Cryx paint set;
Updated cards for my Mercenary crew;
Legion of Everblight  army book;
Gravestones for my Malifaux graveyard.

Might be persuaded: 
Anything else Cryx – lovely models;
Mercenary army book;
Warmachine tokens;
Legion of Everblight starter set;
Legion of Everblight warlock Lylyth – epic version;
Generic terrain for WM and Malifaux;
15mm Germans, tanks and terrain;
Any rulebooks that catch my eye – Hell Dorado?;
Any individual models that catch my eye – Studio McVey?;
Storage cases for all my shiny new models;
In fact, anything really.

Other things to do:
Catch up with the Critical Mass Games crew;
Have a demo game of WM and Hordes at the PP stand;
Have a demo game of anything else that looks interesting;
Not buy any more Malifaux – my shelves are creaking;
Not buy any 40k or Forgeworld – it'll end up on Ebay in a week;
Not buy any more dice… unless they're really, really good;
See if I can spot any bloggers…

Hope to see a few of you there tomorrow. For those of you not going I hope to take a few pics – if I don't get too distracted!

19 April 2012

In The Box – Cryx Starter Battlegroup

I don't read reviews of gaming stuff online and I certainly don't write them – so this is NOT a review…kinda.

I posted yesterday about picking up the Cryx starter box set for Warmachine – the new plastic version – and was so excited (a bit of a theme this week) that I decided to photograph and narrate my experience of opening up the box and sticking some bits together.

I have to apologise now if I come off as some kind of Games Workshop fanboy. This is far from the case but my only real experience of contemporary plastic kits are GW ones, I've built hundreds of them, so comparisons are inevitable.

Upon opening the box I found the above inside: Quick Start Rules for Warmachine; a cut down version of No Quarter magazine (which was quite interesting); gaming cards and the models themselves in individual, sealed bags. No plastic sprues, building instructions or advice.

I decided to have a go at sticking together one of the Deathripper Bonejacks – small machines that bite, on a 40mm base.

Now, I had been expecting sprues by the boatload full of hull pieces (left and right) that would be stuck together to create a hollow body for the machine – just like GW space marine dreadnoughts. I was very surprised to see the Bonejack body was a single solid piece of plastic – very reminiscent of Forgeworld resin kits. However, this kit looked simple enough and I jumped in with my plastic glue, expecting to be done in a few minutes – foolish boy.

The plastic cement had no effect on the sticking process – I might as well have been using water. I scoured the box and eventually found some small type suggesting the use of P3 superglue (or similar) when constructing these models. Very odd, and I have to wonder, would they not have been better going down the Finecast route and doing these models in resin – you're still using superglue and you could capture so much more detail.

The two halves of the Deathripper jaws were not co-operating and took an age to dry – my plastic cement was reduced to being a prop for the drying pieces.

One thing I did notice was that, as nice as it was not to have to clip all the pieces from a sprue, the individual pieces looked like they had been twisted and pulled off a sprue by hand (see the knee pads in the above pic). This will involved some cutting and filing to correct but, more concerning, in some places the damage caused will need to be filled.

Eventually I got my first plastic Cryx model built. I decided not to glue him to the base at this stage – the bases provided are all slotta bases and I want to use a solid base, maybe even a resin one for added weight. Overall the model held its detail, though I will have to go in with a needle file and tidy up the mold lines.

Next I decided to build my Warcaster – War Witch Deneghra.

This model actually had a tab to make use of the slotta base and, again, the build looked simple enough. There wasn't much room for personalisation and it seemed (rather like the Bonejack) very plug 'n' play. Of course I could have taken a scalpel to it and gone crazy with greenstuff, but I decided to leave that for another time.

Her staff was rather distorted and the model didn't have much detail compared to GW kits. This felt more like something you'd get in a board game. Her face especially doesn't have much detail so I may have to invest in an alternative metal version of this character – oh, Salute on Saturday, how lucky is that!

Deneghra went together easily enough and she will do as a starter model. Not terribly impressed by her though. I decided to call it a day at this point (I was at work after all!).

What did I think of the kit?

It was nice not to have to pin every joint like I did when I built the metal version all those years ago. The Bonejacks and larger Helljack seem to have a reasonable amount of detail on them (even if it is not super sharp) but I was disappointed by the Warcaster. Considering the kit costs the same (or possibly a little more) as the metal kit I'm not sure it's worth it as I will have to buy a replacement Warcaster before I'm happy – this one is not up to the job.

If you were to compare the detail on this kit with any standard Games Workshop plastic kit, this one is sadly lacking. In addition the GW stuff is generally very poseable, giving you lots of options when building multiples of the same model. The idea of these starter sets being plastic is superb; unfortunately the end result falls a little short of expectations – in my opinion at least.

I will wait until the battlegroup is fully built and painted before making a final judgement. However, I am now thinking I will not wait until May for the plastic Legion of Everblight starter kit and go with the current metal version instead. Oh well, something else to add to the shopping list!

I have since done some reading up on other blogs and discovered that my experiences with the 'plastic' kit is not unique and should, in future, treat it in the same way as resin (i.e. wash in soapy water, score the surface, etc.).