Friday, July 14, 2017

The New Campaign

Vader voice: "... and these so-called 'Beastie Boys' will not be able to help you this time."

40K Friday: 8th Edition Upgrades - Iron Warriors

We've played a fair amount of 8th edition at this point and we really like it. The rules are cleaner, run faster, and there is a ton of flexibility in army composition without breaking the game. I expect some things to get cleaned up - the recent FAQ gives me a lot of hope for an "active" GW in this edition - and some significant changes in the imminent tidal wave of codices to keep thing interesting for quite a while.

I started off focused on the Iron Warriors and they have undergone quite a few changes over the last six months. I had a plan for them for the old Chaos Codex, I then revised it for the Traitor Legions book and now I am changing it up again for the Index book. With an actual full Chaos Codex coming I have slowed down a bit on coming up with a "permanent" force organization for them and I am just trying out different groups of units to see how they play under the new rules. The main outcome of this is that I now have about 6000 points of IW's under the new system - a dread here, a squad there ... it adds up quick. I've added a ridiculous number of Chaos Marine bits as well as sometimes when you have a very specific plan you need very specific bits to build those units. Some highlights of my meandering plans:

Work is in Progress

  •  I was going to go with 6 Rhinos for them. I think that's probably overkill now as I want to spend those points on other things, particularly if 2000 points is the new standard. The original plan was chosen, possessed, and 4 marine squads in those rhinos. Now I'm thinking 2 chosen squads in one rhino - one melta-shooty and one with power swords and pistols, and 3 marine squads. I'm not sure the possessed really belong in this army.
  • I also have considered a completely different approach to troops by taking 4x five-man squads each with a heavy bolter. Set these up in ruins with a few havoc squads and you have a pretty stout gunline for the backfield.
  • Triple predators is a lot of points but is looking pretty solid in this edition. I'm glad I built them up
  • I'm up to five helbrutes for these guys. With the loss of the deep strike option they are not quite as mobile as before but if I take all of them ... that's a lot of fairly tough targets on the field. 
  • I'm seriously considering adding Havoc launchers to the Rhinos. It's not terribly expensive  - comparable to a Heavy Bolter Razorback - but it makes them more of a threat on the table and so might convince someone to shoot at them rather than a predator or a havoc squad or a helbrute. Also it's cool to have a decent gun and still have a ten-man transport capacity. 
  • For HQ's I have pretty much settled on Daemon Prince + Terminator Lord + Terminator Sorcerer. The biker sorcerer is still an option but I may not use him as much as I thought I would. 
  • Fast Attack and Heavy support are unchanged though I am a lot less impressed with Obliterators right now than in the last few editions. 
The more general feeling I am dealing with right now is that 2000 points still feels "tight" when ti comes to taking what I want to play. I am thinking 2500 might be a better fit for us, or some odd number like 2250. Ah well it's all about "interesting choices" right?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Star Wars: The Next Campaign

So Friday night I am starting up a new Star Wars game. I got the itch to run some more Star Wars a while back but it's been tricky to line up the boys for our Red Sabers campaign. So I decided to put together a "limited campaign" for FFG Star Wars.

Now I've talked about my feelings on the game in general before and about our last experience of playing the Jedi Beginner Box. I see some potential but I'm not sure it's really our thing. That said I want to find out and the best way is to finally create our own characters and run through a longer adventure. I am taking one of the published adventures as a base, making some adjustments based on published reviews/notes/after action reports and we will see how it goes. It's mainly "Edge of the Empire" so I'm going to try and keep characters focused on that book but I'm not going to shut the door on everything else if someone has a strong concept they want to play. Well, other than full-on Jedi - we're not doing that just yet. It's a rebellion-era game so that shouldn't really be a problem anyway.

My approach here is the limited campaign or "The Movie" - it's not open-ended, it has a definite beginning and a defined end point. What happens in between is pretty flexible. The end point is somewhat variable as well - it might be "villain X is slain", "the imperial operation is stopped", or "the players run away to lick their wounds and plot revenge". The "movie" description to me means that it has a limited amount of running time or sessions, it has a single major story arc, it's cinematic as all get-out, and the stakes are high. Mechanically it means that no, we're not going to worry much about things like food and encumbrance but heroic character death is completely acceptable. We don't have to worry about keeping the ship intact. Locations and relationships with NPCs that are important in this adventure may never appear again. In general, continuity is not the primary goal - making a memorable adventure is. I don't want anything to be "routine".

My best previous example of this is documented here. That was a fun campaign.

Why do I do Star Wars this way? Well, most of my attempts at ongoing campaigns involve a gradual build-up to the big stuff like dragons or demon lords. It works in D&D but for Star Wars when I have tried this it just doesn't seem to excite anyone. No one wants to "fight kobolds" in a Star Wars game and in a non-level based system why should you have to? Why not dive right into the action and the epic plot? Why not get right to the good stuff? To facilitate this, I run them in bursts and think of each burst as a movie. This helps my players too I think so they think of "whats the most cinematic thing I can do here" and not "preservation".

So how does this work long term? Well, I'm going to run this one all the way through and figure it should take a few sessions. Once we're done, if everyone liked it, we will try another "movie" in the fall after school starts and everyone's schedule adjusts. If you like your existing character then you can bring them along for the "sequel". If you want to try something new or your character died then you can make a new one with all of the XP you earned in the prior adventure applied to the new character.  This avoids penalizing people for the heroic sacrifice or an interest in something new. I've found some players really like continuity and others like variety and I don't want to punish either one.

For now though, we have session #1 of the new game Friday night. I'll let you know how that goes.

Monday, July 10, 2017

RPG Updates for July

Well I didn't post that much in June because there was just too much going on. With cars and college mostly sorted out things should settle down for the rest of July. I figured I would take a minute to post my thoughts on what I've been doing and on some hopes for the rest of the year.

  • All I've run the past month is D&D 5th edition and we just finished Session #3. I am happy with both the rules and my choice of campaign so things are moving along quite nicely now. We have a rotating cast of players and even added one new player, so that's been fun as well. 
  • As far as new players I've been playing with mostly the same group of people for quite a few years now so I decided a few weeks ago to look for some fresh faces to mix things up. I do appreciate that having a steady group can be a rare thing but I also don't want to sink into a rut and have everything become routine. Adding someone new to the group can help avoid that. Also, with all of the schedule issues people have at times - including me - having a larger pool of players makes it that much more likely we will have enough people to pull a game together on any given weekend. 
  • The Deadlands game has suffered somewhat. There's still interest but anytime my 3 players have been available other people have been available as well and we have opted to play D&D instead. I'm going to call this "a good problem to have" rather than an emergency. We will pick it back up soon enough.
  • Mutants and Masterminds has suffered as well due to being unable to sync up all of the college crowd's summer schedules. I suppose it's the downside of adding some new players but the sessions we had were a lot of fun. We will probably have to leave the "crisis" hanging for a few more weeks at least. In the meantime we may just have to run some side stories if we want to get in some M&M time.
    I have also resolved to pick up the books I have not yet acquired. M&M was running at a pace of about a book a year, but with 2017 shaping up to have three books released (Hero High, Atlas of Earth Prime, and Freedom City 3E) I decided it was time to get current. I am almost there.
  • The other side games like our Star Wars campaign have been quiet too as whenever the boys have been here we've been playing the new edition of 40K or doing other things. I expect we will get back to them at some point before school starts back up but they are not on any particular schedule so it's not a big concern. I'd like to play them more but there's only so much time in each week.

  • New Stuff!
    • The new Star Trek is officially out. Still not all that thrilled with the system but I will probably pick up the PDF at least to see the final official version and to see if we want to try it out. With some renewed interest in Trek on my part I also managed to complete my collection of Last Unicorn Trek books so now I have all of those, all of the Decipher books, and everything for FASA minus a few of the adventures and honestly those are not a high priority for me.
    • DCC has a kickstarter going for scratch-off character sheets for zero-level characters. I think it's a great idea and I will be a part of this one.
    • There's a new version of Top Secret for the modern era on Kickstarter. The system looks interesting and the print version is a good deal. With the original creator involved I am also jumping on to this one. I've never had a ton of success sustaining an espionage type campaign but it's also been a long time since I tried to run one. 

  • Plans for the Future
    • Starfinder still looks interesting but I might look at this one more as a player than a DM. I think it's a good opportunity to see if someone else wants to run rather than assuming I will be that guy.
    • Really looking forward to the new Freedom City book. That may turn out to be the biggest one this year for me personally. Well, other than catching up on 5th edition D&D. As far as new books released in 2017 though I think this is the big one. 
    • The rest of "the plan" is to stay on a steady schedule and keep running and playing games - that's it!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Busy Month!

The old GW's Strategy for Improving Revenue 

Posts have been sparse here recently but games are still happening. I'm just choosing to prep and play them more than  write about them.

First, over the weekend I managed to run the second session of my 5th Edition "Greatest Hits" campaign. One prior player couldn't make it but Apprentice Blaster and Apprentice Red were both there so the assault on the Caves of Chaos continued. They've just about wiped out one of the orc lairs and there is an amazing amount of in-character strategy discussion so they're actually acting like Professional Treasure Hunters and it reminds me a lot of how my friends and I used to handle it.

I also continue to be happy with how the game handles ... well everything. It has a really strong element of playability, and it feels as if that was a conscious design choice rather than a happy accident. I saw some of this back when we were playing Next and it is even more evident in the final product. It fits really well with what I want as a DM right now.  Just as important, my players seem to be enjoying the different approach after 3-4 years of Pathfinder. I think we spent time looking up one rule the entire session, and that was only because it had come up a few times and we wanted to get consistent with it. That's a strong contrast to PF where we look up stuff every session, even after years of playing it. Pathfinder's detailed rules is a feature, not a bug, most of the time but I'm in a mood for a different approach right now and 5E is giving me that.

We also managed to get in more games of 8th edition 40K with the official release on Saturday. For me this mainly involved my first time to field the Dark Eldar as a full army. It also involved me getting blown off the table for the first time as a Dark Eldar commander. Different rules and a new army apparently means a big learning curve here. I'm not going to make a full report out of it, just some conclusions:

  • The land raider crusader is tailor-made to kill dark eldar. That's 24 bolter shots for your warriors, a multi-melta shot for your flying boats, and 12 assault cannon shots for whatever is left standing is just hell on the boys from Commorragh.
  • Splinter weapons are still cool but that only-wounds-vehicles-on-a-6 rule has a pretty big impact now. Bolters and shootas are wounding most vehicles on a 5+. It's the price you pay for wounding everything else on a 4+ but I'm starting to think dark lances in every warrior squad instead of splinter cannons is a better choice. With the new split fire rules it's usable, and while you lose up to 6 splinter shots you add a chance for some serious threat against the big stuff in the game. 
  • It's still a very fragile army. Most of your troops are still Toughness 3 with a 5+ save and one wound. Power for Pain is cool now but a 6+ wound nullification doesn't save many warriors. The boats are much improved but even those are Toughness 5 and 10 wounds with a 4+ save and a 5+ invulnerable (vs shooting only). Assault cannons hurt them bad. 

I like the army and I'm adding some options to what I have so expect more Dark Eldar batreps in the future.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

First game of 8th Edition 40k!

Using some "preview" copies of the rules we managed to put together a 1500 point game of 8th edition 40K last night. I took Eldar and Blaster took his Space Wolves in the basic mission "Only War".

I took a Battlion detachment:

HQ: Farseer, Prince Yriel

Troops: 10x Dire Avengers, 10x Dire Avengers, 5 Rangers

Elites: 10x Striking Scorpions (scorpions claw on the exarch)

Fast Attack: 3x Jetbikes (no upgrades)

Heavy Support: Wraithlord with two starcannons & two shuriken catapults

Dedicated Transports: 2x Wave Serpents - one with twin bright lances, one with twin starcannons

Yes, Prince Yriel actually took the field! One of the worst characters in the game for several editions now! What can I say? I was feeling optimistic.

 Blaster took a Vanguard detachment:

HQ: Wolf Priest

Troops: 10x Blood Claws

Elites: 5x hammer Terminators, 5x shooty Terminators. Dreadnought with an assault cannon

Heavy Support: 5x Long Fangs with missile launchers, Land Raider Crusader

Dedicated Transports: Razorback with twin lascannons

The mission is basically set up 4 objectives, they're worth 2 VP each at the end of the game (like older editions) and if you can kill the enemy warlord he's worth 1d3 VPs too.

Our narrative here was that a farseer had come to some remote world to let Yriel know it was time to come home and lead the fight. He had been tangling with some imperial forces and the Space Wolves led by Wolf Priest Odysseus had finally been dispatched to put an end to his raids. The prince wanted to tweak the humans by taking out their commander while the priest wanted to prove himself as a commander by taking out the annoying eldar legend.

 The deployment map we used goes back to the old table quarters format but it also has a "hole in the middle" with a 9" radius. So not every map goes with the old rule of 24" of separation. I started in the bottom right corner and Blaster started in the top left.

Deployment is now alternating - I place a unit then you place a unit. Other games do this and it is much much better than sitting for 30 minutes while your opponent sets up. Also, whoever finishes first gets first turn so there's an incentive to take fewer units there.

The dire avengers and the HQ's started inside the serpents. The scorpions and scouts started in reserve.

For the Wolves the priest and the Blood Claws started in the land raider while the two terminator units started in reserve. The razorback was strictly a gun platform for this fight.

I ended up with first turn.

I admit I had no real plan here. It's been a long time since we played the old "get the objectives at the end of the game" style missions as I burned out on those in 5th and 6th edition and played only maelstrom missions in 7th. Also not knowing how the game is really going to work makes it tough to have a detailed plan as I have no solid expectations of how these units will interact. I had tons of mobility and some decent firepower and figured that would have to see me through. I did some damage to the razorback and the dreadnought (shot in the back by snipers!) and moved around a little bit.

The most notable thing on turn 1 was that I ran the wraithlord right up the middle, unloaded all of my guns into the land raider, then charged him, made it, and pounded on him with my "wraithbone fists". The shooting did some damage but the melee did not and the overwatch from the approximately 1000 guns on the thing took a couple of wounds off of me!

Note 1: For the Eldar, the Starcannon is pretty nasty now. It's still 36" range at Strength 6 with 2 shots but it's AP -3 which means marines and most vehicles only get a 6+ save and it does a flat 3 wounds! Having two of them on the wraithlord and on one of the serpents made them a serious threat to everything on the board. I'll be using more of them this edition.

Note 2: The interaction of Strength versus Toughness became very clear here. The Wraithlord's fists are now strength 7. The land raider is toughness 8, so I was fighting uphill needing a 5+ to wound. The Wraithlord has the option to take a sword but since my old metal guy doesn't have one I didn't take it. For 10 points the "ghostglaive" bumps him up to strength 9, meaning I would have been wounding on 3's. It also bumps him up to a -4 AP from a -3, and bumps the damage from a flat 3 to 1d6. I'd say it's worth it, so I may modify the old dread to have something swordlike in one hand.

On the Wolves first turn, well, the land raider backed off from being stuck in melee with the Wraithlord and the Dreadnought tagged in to the fight. As you can see, it didn't last long. Dreadnought power fists still double their strength and the cap isn't 10 anymore, so he was taking 4 swings at strength 12 against my toughness 7. He put the wraithlord down hard. With two fairly evenly matched combatants swinging first matters a lot.

Also, both terminator squads came down and beat on my two wave serpents. That's two 9 inch charges after a deep strike by the way. The farseer's ride stayed intact but Yriel's serpent was wrecked, killing 2 dire avengers, and the rest spilled out. My original thinking was to back into the woods, slowing down his charges (-2" for charging through woods) while shooting him and bringing in the Striking Scorpions to engage them directly.

Theeeeen I said, hey! Why not charge them with both? Yriel's a vicious melee fighter so why not use him too? So I tried to charge them and failed because of the minus from the woods! In addition overwatch killed one of my avengers. I used command points to re-roll a die and made it, but that meant my scorpions would have to make a long charge on their own with nor chance of a re-roll and of course they failed it. At this point it really looks like I have no idea what I am doing.

Over the next few turns other stuff does happen  - the bikes fly over the hill and kill the dreadnought but are then gunned down by the land raider as the long fangs frag the rangers off of the board - but this is really the decisive part of the fight.

Yriel and the avengers wipe out the shooty terminators  - at the cost of all of the avengers. See above.

The scorpions, betrayed by the dice, get charged by Blaster's favorite combo of Blood Claws and a Wold Priest charging out of a Land Raider Crusader and it is a really nasty piece of work in this edition. The claws' weapon skill went up to 3+ (guns are still a 4+), they get an extra attack on the charge (which is not a normal thing anymore) and then the priest lets wolf units within 6" re-roll failed hit rolls in the fight phase. So yes - they gunned down 5 of the 10 scorpions, charged them, and then wiped them out in one round.

The Blood Claws fail their next charge but Odysseus charges in solo, determined to bring down Yriel, now wounded and alone. There is a ferocious fight dominated by life-ending weapon strikes followed by miraculous invulnerable saves!

All this happens as the Farseer and his Dire Avenger bodyguard look on in horror.

Quickly, Yriel begins to take the measure of his foe...

Finally, using the Eye of Wrath he surprises the Wolf Chaplain and brings him down! It's a one-use weapon with a 3" range and I had hoped to never need to use it but it won us this fight! The Spear of Twilight and his natural skill means that in melee he's hitting on 2's, re-rolling 1's, then wounding on 2's, with a -2 to saves. He had a Warlord trait that gave him +1 attack on the charge so he was swinging 5 times with that thing in the first round.

Of course, a personal victory is not always the end of the larger fight.

Dakka-dakka-dakka from the wolves and suddenly we're down to a party of two.

...and then the land raider charges Prince Yriel, taking him down. It's a far less poetic end then "defeated in honorable one on one combat" but "run over by a giant space marine tank" is still an end.

Clearly, Craftworld Iyanden will need to send a rescue party to free him from captivity!

Post-Game Notes

  • Blaster and I were both really happy with the way the game played. 
  • We spent very little time looking up rules compared to our 7th edition games as all of the information you need is on the datasheet for each unit. I printed out a sheet for each unit to have them handy and so I could make notes as the game went on and it was remarkable how much better the game flowed. We didn't have to spend a bunch of time working through a process flow of passengers disembarking from an exploded vehicle which was multi-charged by two units and a bunch of other cruft. 
  • Psychic powers are cool and impactful without dominating the game. My farseer "doomed" the dreadnought before ducking around the corner and guided the Dire Avengers. This allowed them plus the jetbikes to just destroy it in one shooting phase. The limits on powers - mainly that you can only cast them once per turn - means that it's pointless to take more than about two psykers. I expect they will open this up some more down the road but right now it's in a great place. 
  • We took a while to play it but it was not just because the rules were new. We spent a fair anount of time looking at our options during the game. "OK I have this guy who gives a +1 on this thing to units within 6 inches and then I have a squad who gets this bonus in this case  - what can I do if I put them together"? It was a much more interesting use of time than "what does that special rule mean again?
  • Command Points are great - they do all of the good things that Fate/Force/Luck points do in RPG's, rescuing you from that badly-timed bad roll, or letting you pull of something you probably couldn't do under normal circumstances. An excellent addition to the game!
  • With all of the details tied to the units themselves I think this edition is really going to reward the player who seriously digs down into his army and learns all about each individual unit and how they work in groups. Those of us who like to jump around to different armies are never going to know our force as well as the die-hard player who focuses on that one single army. That's probably how it should be. 
There's a ton more for us to learn so I'm going to leave it right there for now. I will definitely have more to post on this over the coming months!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Throwback Run - 5th Edition Keep on the Borderlands

Over the weekend - in a break from the 40K mania - I ran my first game of 5th edition D&D. I've played it - once - but I have not run it and after talking to some of my group I've been feeling like I should give it another chance. We decided to keep it simple: first level, basic dungeon crawl type situation.

Now this all came about in less than a week so I did not go off and hand-craft something. I went full retro: Keep on the Borderlands. This is the first adventure I ever ran for other people, 30-something years ago, and it's been a few years since I last touched it. We tried it during the Next playtest and the Apprentices gave up on it after some lethal encounters and went back to 4E & Pathfinder. I hoped this time would be different.

I was serious about the retro - we used old-school character sheets, rolled for ability scores instead of using points, and made them by hand - no Hero Lab or other tool here. Pencils, paper, and dice only!

Character generation took a while even with the simpler system. First, only one player has really spent time playing 5th (with another group) so it was all new. Second everyone made two characters - with 3 players and a new system I figured it would give us a better feel for the game once we got going. The good news is that it wasn't mechanical complexity, nor was it resource scarcity as we had 3 copies of the PHB at the table, plus the Basic PDFs on everyone's phones. It was trying to decide what cool option they wanted to try, which is one of the best reasons for taking extra time to create characters.

We ended up with 2 fighters, a barbarian, a cleric, a wizard, and a rogue. All human except for one dragonborn fighter and the half-orc barbarian.

We ended up running through a chunk of the goblin and hobgoblin caves which is kind of funny as that's where the Apprentices went first a few years back when they played it. No one died this time! The game played quick enough that I am optimistic we could accomplish quite a bit once we have some more experience. I temper that a bit though as 3E, 4E, and Pathfinder all play fast at low levels too. Time will tell. Everyone seemed pretty happy with it and I expect we will be continuing our explorations in the near future.

I'll put together some notes on what I'm doing later. I'm pretty much running it straight up as written so the encounters care nothing for CR or "balance". I may moderate that a bit later but I want to see how it works as-is for now.

Setting note: I agonized over the setting for a day or two and finally settled on Greyhawk. I figured that would complete the "old school" vibe I wanted and it's not like I don't have the material. The last time we played in Greyhawk was back in 3rd edition with Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil so it's had time to settle. I have high hopes that if this takes off we might end up with several parties running around doing the classic AD&D adventures and if so this is where I want to put them. I've placed several other low-level D&D and AD&D adventures in the area near the keep so I have a lot of places the PC's could go while still basing out of the keep. That should make it easier to mix and match characters regardless of who can play.

Yep, that one too

One of the reasons I took this approach is that there are some interesting coincidences happening right now.  It's the 40th anniversary of Star Wars. This year is the 30th anniversary of the original publication of Warhammer 40,000.  I am re-watching Star Trek the Next Generation with Apprentice Blaster, 30 years after it first aired. That's also the year I graduated high school, so there's another anniversary,  and he graduates this coming weekend.

All of the stuff that goes along with a kid finishing high school now had me thinking about my own end of high school & beginning of college that year and mixed in with that are some of those other hobby things. In 1987 we were playing AD&D like veteran pros along with a bunch of other RPG's and besides  ASL, Battletech, and Star Fleet Battles we were just getting started with this awesome new Warhammer spin-off with space marines and orks with guns!

Maybe even that one as well

With all of the excitement going on with the new 40K that releases in a few weeks I've spent a fair amount of time looking at a lot of my old stuff from rulebooks to campaign notes to armies. With a growing interest in 5th edition I've been looking through that old stuff and considering what I have not done.There are a lot of old adventures that I've never run for my regular players, core touchstones for older players like me (and like some of them), stuff I have probably been through 5 or 10 or 20 times and I feel like that's a miss on my part. Instead of running a bunch of newer stuff why not run the old stuff in a modern system that is retro-friendly?

Deadlands and M&M are still part of the plan but there may be room for a 3rd game on a "whenever we can get at least 2-3 people together" type schedule and this is it.

More to come!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Brief RPG Interlude Amongst All the 40K: A Less Interruptible Campaign

With May's usual schedule chaos wreaking havoc on my plans I've been trying to come up with a plan for another game that's not dependent on a specific set of players being available. Originally that was supposed to be the Freedom City M&M campaign but I optimistically started it off with a specific set of players in a set adventure with a defined and ongoing plot and then half of my players promptly became unavailable for 3 months! It's really not that long of an adventure but it's going to feel like it by the time we're done with it!

When you have a matrix of games to play based on who is available it's all good for a while but what do you do when none of those combinations are available for an extended period of time? Every single one of my players has had to cancel at least once in April and May! Well first you get frustrated, at least I do, vent about it to the wife and some friends, then you start figuring out Plans J thru M. Then I realized I might need to take a different approach.

A better answer here may be to set one of the games to "no specific players". That means any combination of players can show up and we can still run. It's not strictly open table as I am not really advertising it online or anything but it means I am not really looking to make sure players A, B, and C, are there before I can run. It's not heavily plotted  and it doesn't have big important story stuff tied to any one player character.  This is kind of what I originally envisioned the M&M game to be  but I had to go and complicate that by beginning with Time of Crisis instead of just running short adventures/encounters/episodes.

So what am I contemplating?

  • Set that first weekend back up as the "M&M Open Campaign" set in Freedom City. Sure, we have a group of characters stuck in another dimension averting a universal crisis but this is like when the Justice League is off fighting on some other planet but the same month's issue of Superman has him stopping a bank robbery in Metropolis. Comic time is fluid, right? The plot or story here is a group of heroes doing stuff in a comic book city, not the story of any one individual.
  • Same concept as above but go even simpler and use something like ICONS, BASH, or Supers so people can jump right in even if they have to make a new hero on the spot. 
  • Set a 5th edition D&D game in a ruined city of some kind and let the PC's form their own adventuring bands each session. This would look something like my 4E Ruins of Adventure campaign where I tried to keep individual adventures short enough to only last one session. It didn't always work but it might be easier to pull off with the shorter combat in the new edition.  Frostgrave is a concept I am interested in, or the classic ruined jungle city infested with snakemen - there are a lot of ways this could go. The "story" in this case is the exploration and possible plundering/conquest of the area.

The key thing here, regardless of the actual game, is to try and keep things episodic and not end sessions in the middle of a fight or a plot complication. This does limit some of what I can do but not as much as you might think. Longer plots or adventures just get broken up into separate chunks that are not tied to specific characters. if there is a group identity like the Justice League or the crew of the Enterprise or the Company of the Black Mace then it gets pretty east to stick factional reputations and grudges to the group and not to a character so things still feel personal while not being dependent on Captain Zoom being present for every session. 

There will also be no big adventure path type scenarios used - this will all be shorter stuff. They have a place for sure, but I am tired of trying to make them fit our group with all of our scheduling issues. 

Anyway that's the new plan for the summer. I'm hoping to get together with at least some of the group this weekend and nail some of this down - and maybe even get in a game.

Friday, May 19, 2017

40k Friday - Orks 8th Edition Prep

With 8th edition about a month away and the radical changes it seems to be bringing I am scrambling to get some of the armies updated/expanded/finished. I'm making this post to mark where the army is right now and what I am thinking as I work on it - partly to force myself to think through it as I put it down and partly as a historical document so a year from now I can come back and either  rejoice in my amazing foresight or wonder what the hell I was thinking.

Today - Orks!

Now I haven't played my orks in quite a while and there are a few reasons for that. I dove into the Eldar, Chaos, and Blood Angels for the past couple of years, Apprentice Red plays orks quite a bit so I try not to step on his toes, and frankly, that last codex (2014) just didn't seem to really fit how orks have played for most of the history of the game. The rules seemed like a bad fit and ork lists full of boyz became about as common as chaos marine lists full of Chaos Space Marines. Plus it was just less fun to play with changes to mob rule and deffrollas and how instead of breaking the "must have bikes" and "must have lootas" meta that had been around for years the last codex amped it up and added "must have tankbustas" to the list. There was a brief period where the very orky green tide formation was a hit but that disappeared too.

With a new edition and a complete reboot coming though, that should change! So what do I need to do? Let me run down what I already have and then talk about what I want to add or modify for 8th edition.

The core of my force is 100 Goff Slugga Boyz in 5 units of 20 orks each plus a nob for each one of those mobs. Typically these are mounted in Battlewagons. These are led by a mob of 10 Nobz and a Warboss in another Battlewagon or a Trukk depending on points and force org slots. This is the heart of the army.

Backing this up is a unit of 3 lobbas, a mob of 20-something grots, a mob of 20 Kommandos (who often end up playing as Shoota Boyz), a unit of 3 rokkit buggies, a unit of big shoota buggies, and various HQ units like painboyz and weridboyz and the like.

This is usually enough for most games. I like having a bunch of orks charging forward in armored vehicles then bailing out to assault the enemy. I can (and have) played it as a foot list too so there are some options even with just this chunk of the force.

When I first put these guys together years ago my concept was a Goff warband accompanied by some Evil Sunz / Kult of Speed types for the fun of it. The easiest way to tell which was which is the paint job - black stuff is Goff, red stuff is Kult of Speed. As I rework this for 8th I want to get back into a structure where this makes sense.


  • 100 boyz (2E starter set goff boyz)
  • 10 nobz (2E metal skarboyz)
  • 10 meganobz (RT/2E orks in power armor)
  • 5 battlewagons (4 custom conversions + 1 different custom conversion)
  • 25 grots (2E starter set gretchin)
  • 2 trukks (old Gorka-Morka style trukks upgraded in various ways)
  • 20 shoota boyz (2E metal Blood Axe boys)
  • 3 wartrakks (that same plastic kit that's been around since Gorka-Morka but with custom crew)
  • 3 lobbas (2E Pulsa-Rokkits)
  • 20 kommandos (2E Blood Axe Kommandos)
  • 10 tankbustas (2E metal Snake Bite Boyz + 2E metal Death Skull Boyz)
  • 10 lootas (2E metal Goff boyz w/old metal Deffguns and RT/2E plastic plasma cannons) 
Kult of Speed
  • Battlewagon (old Armorcast Battlewagon)
  • 20 shoota boyz (2E metal Evil Sunz boyz)
  • 6 warbuggies (RT metal buggies)
  • 2 skorchas (RT metal skorchas)
  • Mek in mega armor (2E mega armor nob)
  • Mek with shokk attack gun (RT shokk attack gun)
  • Dakkajet (current kit)
  • Bommer (current kit)

The idea is that the red force is mostly lighter faster units that can be taken when I feel the need. Plus it lets me paint something besides black for a change. Collecting orks for as long as I have also means that I have a pretty big pile of un-allocated and un-painted stuff too. At least another 60+ of the old plastic grots, a bunch of metal grots, 20 more plastic RT orks, a mob of madboyz,  a squad of boarboyz, a half-converted trukk, another 20 goff boyz - just a lot of stuff in the ork box that says "hey do something interesting with me" whenever I look in there.  Top of the list is converting some old plastic terminators into mega-nobz.

The biggest "uncommitted" unit I have is a group of ten killa kans and a pair of deff dreads. None of them are the current kit of course. I have 3 built from scratch years ago and used in many battles since, 6 RT ork dreadnoughts, and one 2E ork dreadnought. The dreads are Org Atrocitors from Demonblade which at the time were really big and beefy but they look a little small next to the current monster that is the plastic ork dread. I'm thinking about putting Goff bosspoles on all of them and just making them part of that force. They're a mish-mash of paint jobs so it's not like they look like a unified unit anyway. I need to finish these guys up for 8th for sure.

Now you would think a big pile of goff orks plus a smaller extra force would be plenty but you might also note that a lot of that stuff is pretty old. I'm kind of missing the chance to play with the current ork range. I don't really want to mix styles too much so I am thinking about adding a third element here of all new stuff and painting it as Bad Moonz. It's not like I don't know yellow! I don't have a particular plan for this group other than picking an choosing the current stuff I like the best - a battlewagon, a dread, maybe some big gunz, all alongside some of the newer style boyz. Like my Iyanden Eldar this would be a fresh start/new style units only force - the older stuff can stay with the first two groups.

Future Plans

  • Stormboyz! The one ork infantry unit I really do not have and the one I really want to add on. "Jump pack orks" is a recipe for fun in games and I do need to add some soon.
  • I do like the current ork dread and I am hoping the new rules will make it worthy of its ferocious look. Need to get one.
  • One more jet painted up in Goff colors. Mine are not and that's why they're in with team red but I would like one for the boyz in black.
  • I should probably look at Ghazgkull at some point too - Goffs and all that.
  • Gorkanaut/Morkanaut! I thought the models were great and then I saw the rules and they were terrible. With the new edition hope is renewed and a big centerpiece model is definitely something I "need". In fact I may "need" 2 or 3 of them before I am done.
  • Stompa! If we're talking about big centerpiece models, well, this is the big one for the orks. It's definitely on the list.
I definitely feel like I have enough of the regular ork units  - I am really only looking for the big centerpiece type models at this point. I'd like to spend the rest of this year finishing up the two forces I have and save the Bad Moonz expansion for next year's ork project. Even that's true to the fluff, right? As the Waagh grows more and more clans and units join in!

One obvious thing that's missing here is bikes. Everybody takes bikes in their ork army, mainly because they're one of the few units that's actually been effective for the last few editions and codexes. I don't hate them or anything but I don't think every single ork army should be centered around them so I do my part to even that out. I may add some someday but they're not even on the list right now. 

Unlike my Marine and Eldar armies I'm not feeling the need to add a bunch of character types. There are not that many named ork special characters anyway and they don't have those unusual types like the Avatar or the Sanguinor either.

Looking at 8th

When the edition comes out there are some specific things I want to try. A whole bunch of boyz on foot - does it work? How about boyz in Battlewagons? Trukk mobz? How are the psykers? How about a kan wall type list? With Apprentice Red also playing orks we should have the opportunity to try out a multitude of possible combinations and I am really looking forward to it.