Friday, June 2, 2023

40K Friday - So Much 40K!


Well it was a ridiculous May for this game and I expect June will be even more so. A faction focus almost every day! Much online discussion! Salt and tears! Then Thursday they go and nuke Horus Heresy models by Legend-izing them out of "competitive" play! I admit I've raised my eyebrows at some of the changes but in general I'm still excited about the update. The streamlining, the new data card approach, and getting it all out up front for free are very positive in my view. 

Some of my enthusiasm may be coming from actually getting in some games again after a long gap. So far my Necrons are batting .500 against Blaster's Eldar which is fine but working through all the layers of running a 9th edition army is a lot of effort and there are a lot of opportunities to miss or forget things and I am even using the cards. I think the core of my dislike is the level of many of the strats - here's a set of 50 cards and 10 of them only apply to one specific unit in your army under specific conditions. "Only Canoptek units" - sure, maybe. "Only when a character dies near a Doomstalker which is not engaged in melee" - not so much. It's absurdly specific and that is the kind of thing that should be on the unit data sheet in some form, not on a card. Cutting out those kinds of stratagems can only help the game. Strats were a cool idea when they first appeared but they have mutated too far. Add on the dynastic protocols, character auras, the general rulebook strats, some of the more esoteric wargear ... it just piles up like the last few seconds of overwhelmed Tetris game.

Getting all motivated meant sprucing up some armies and adding ... a few. That's been my month.

  • I decided that if the Crimson Fists are going to be my all-time Marine chapter then they should be far more up to date and the process I started here have only gotten worse continued. Progress was made so I added more to the pile and now have ... more progress I need to make. There has been a lot of filling in units I did not have - Intercessors, Incursors, Invictors, Aggressors, Inceptors, Suppressors, Repulsors ... heck I even picked up a unit of Reavers in the hopes they will be decent in this edition! Optimistic I said!
  • I have not gone nuts with then other loyalist marines. I set the Dark Angels aside for now, added one or two painted units to the Blood Angels when an opportunity presented itself, and reallocated some stuff to the Grey Knights I already had. I did recently decide to jazz up my Imperial Fists Deathwing army a bit since that should be even more playable now. Mainly some dreadnoughts, which had been painfully lacking since I first acquired the army. Of course they were Contemptors and a Leviathan so ...

  • Other Loyal Imperials: The Guard got a pretty massive upgrade as I decided it was time to make them more than just a tank army - A bunch of the new infantry, some Chimeras to move them in, some new Sentinels, Hellhounds, ordinance batteries, Basilisks, Wyverns, Ratlings, Ogryn, officers, even a Rogal Dorn - it was a major add-on as I finally decided I do love the guard. I am really looking forward to trying them out in 10th.
  • The other other Loyalists - I have been eyeballing a Custodes army for a long time and decided the time was now. They are kind of the opposite of the Imperial Guard so it will make for a nice change after playing one or the other. I did make this a "painted stuff only" force so I am not adding to the backlog. Given that they're a small elite army it's not too hard to put together a few thousand points and they tend to be painted similarly anyway so it really worked out. 
  • The other other other loyalist force I tuned up was my Imperial Knight group. With none of them painted the same way - because I wanted a gathering of individual knights, not a space marine chapter - it is ridiculously (some might say dangerously) easy to add one here and one there. I'm up to 7 of the big ones with 5 painted, one needing paint, and one needing to be built as Canis Rex. Then I have 6 of the small knights which I intend to paint up similarly to each of the larger knights (but not Rex) so the effectively each one has a squire. That's the plan anyway.

  • Of course once I started with the good knights I started noticing the bad knights. Not having any of them made it easy to see them as a gap and to justify getting some as the logical opponent to my loyalists ... and to try and convert some of my friends with "40K Battletech" as an option. So I bought a chaos knight army. In an interesting contrast to my good guys, this army is all painted to match. Well, except for the one big knight I added on which is close-ish, and the one I still need to build. The best thing is that it is all magentized! Given the largely fixed loadout of the chaos knights it's a handy thing to be able to switch form one type to another as needed. More to come on these for sure. 
  • I added a couple of items for the Iron Warriors but not all that much. I didn't want to create a backlog where one did not already exist.
  • The Death Guard did get some significant upgrades as mentioned in that earlier post and I am working on them in between Crimson Fists. Lots of Terminators and a lot of the newer style plague marines which I had avoided up until now. They will be ready soon enough. 
  • Finally I did pick up some Tyranid stuff - hey since the new boxed set is half  'nids I figured I might as well. Nothing too extreme here - some genestealers, some warriors, and a hive tyrant. I have some ideas on a color scheme but I figure I will build them all at once and see what direction I want to go with them.

I added some terrain too hoping to spruce up the battlefields we fight on but the big focus was on the armies. It is admittedly a lot all at one time but the only really big backlog now is the Guard - no getting around that. It's going to be awhile before I can field everything I just added. That said, there's always a backlog of some kind and it's nice to have some major upgrades on the pile. 

So yes, the hype worked on me and I'm looking forward to getting these things on the table with some new rules. Batreps to come!

Friday, May 12, 2023

40K Friday - Lots of Faction Previews


Well we've had a couple of weeks of faction notes for 10th edition 40K and one thing that holds true with these kinds of things is that every faction looks at them and starts to talk about nerfs, negative changes, and how GW hates them. Every. Single. Time. 

Link is here - scroll down if you're interested.

I still remember last edition how people were complaining on the Dark City about how the new Dark Eldar codex was terrible and GW obviously hated them a few weeks after it released even as they were winning their first tournaments with what was widely considered to be a drastically overpowered codex. 

Space marine players were fairly even-keeled about it this time but so far I've seen Necron players assuming the worst about Resurrection Protocols, Chaos Marine players griping about Dark Pact hurting their units, Guard players complaining about the Battle Cannon's AP reduction, Votann complaining about almost all of the changes to their army -despite going to Toughness 5 - and just a notable level of saltiness after each reveal. 

I just don't feel this way. Sure, there are a lot of changes to these forces but it IS a new edition. That's what that means! Especially in a "full reset" edition like this! The general character of an army rarely changes outside of the first couple of editions where they appear - that's where the Votann are now so I am not shocked they are getting some adjustments, really more than most of the other armies we have seen. Without full context of the rules it's generally a bad idea to see changes as all negative but that doesn't stop people.  

The only times I have really gotten annoyed with these kinds of changes are:

  1. 3rd edition gave space marine tactical squads both weapons if they took "more than 5" instead of needing the full 10. This gave rise to the 6-man las/plas squad as a standard. Then for 4th edition they changed it back and my Crimson Fists had to be rejiggered after I had built them around this concept.
  2. Various edition including 9th have messed with ork morale in some really bad ways. They hit a solid, playable standard with the Late 4th/but mostly 5th edition codex Mob Rule where leadership effectively was equal to the number of orks in the squad with mobs of up to 30 boyz. It was thematic as orks were basically unbreakable until most of them were gone at which time they got fairly easy to shatter. This last edition broke it once again to where most ork players were finding ways to use smaller mobz and much of the flavor was lost. Hopefully the new game will fix it. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Magic Items in Deadlands - I Handed Out a Few


Now magic items in RPGs are fairly common but not all games use them the same way. In D&D and similar games they are built into the game's assumptions - and the players' as well. If your character has few levels under their belt and you don't have a magic item of some kind ... well that's an unusual game in my experience. 

Yes, Deadlands does have magic items. In general though they are not run-of-the-mill things one finds and then replaces as one "levels up". They tend to be fairly powerful for a character and retained regardless. Nor are they 100% beneficial as most of them have a "taint" which inflicts some negative effect on the character while they retain the item. There are roughly 3 tiers of unusual items in Deadlands:

  • The Steampunk level stuff that is somewhat mass-produced. These are things that can be found in the Smith & Robards catalog. These are not overtly magical but they are a bit more than conventional physics or engineering would allow which is typically explained by "ghost rock" - powered by, shavings of, steel forged using ... etc.  Many of the more complex devices have a malfunction effect to remind players of the risks of pushing the envelope.
  • Mad Science Devices can be created by a mad scientist is you have one in your party or know a really benevolent NPC. These can often do more - basically replicating a power - but tend to be limited to a fixed number of charges or a hard time limit. They are unique and cannot generally be sold or traded. They operate similarly to supervillain gadgets in a superhero campaign in that respect. 
  • Relics are the permanent big time magic items in the Deadlands setting. They generally are not "crafted" but are instead created in the heat of a catastrophic or tragic event. They are not really something one can buy or sell and there is no known list of common relics because they are not common!
So now that we have that breakdown I can explain that although I have been playing around with Deadlands in various forms since the 90's when it came out I have never placed a relic in my games. There have been mad scientists whipping up flamethrowers and the like, and Smith & Robards has done some business, but I haven't dropped a single relic ever. It's a little strange for me and once I started thinking about it I wondered if I had developed a blind spot for them in this setting.

The reason for this realization is that after 20 sessions of The Flood campaign we were finishing up the Shan Fan arc (if you've played it you'll know what that means) and there comes a point where the party helps to defend a secret society's vault of artifacts. The suggestion is to reward your players with some unusual items or a bunch of money for doing this. As I contemplated how this could go I realized my lack of prior relic drops. As I dug into them with the aim of making it like a traditional D&D treasure horde where you conveniently find a range of items tailored to the party or at least generally useful for a D&D party I realized this might not be the best approach. 

No, there is no "random relic table" in Deadlands. Sure, I could make one, and as much fun as that might be it didn't really feel right either. 

So I went full 4th edition D&D: I let my players tell me what they found in the vaults. 

Each one got to pick one item from the relics list or from the S&R catalog, subject to GM veto if they got way too ridiculous. I told them to think about their character, both how they've played them up until now and also where they want to take them in the future, both mechanically and conceptually, as this could be a turning point in their life. They have insight into the big picture of Deadlands now and they just survived a war between triads - things might go in a different direction for them after this and finding some relic or infernal device could be a part of that change. 

I trust my players and they did not disappoint. No one tried to break the game.
  • The very practically-minded bounty hunter took Owl-Eye Goggles - steampunk night vision goggles - they're not even a relic but they fit the character perfectly.
  • The mad scientist chose an Epitaph Camera, which is an in-universe thing that is used by the Tombstone Epitaph to publish pictures of unusual events and this totally fits with his interest in making moving pictures for education and entertainment purposes. This is also not a relic.
  • The huckster/hexslinger finally got a decent Book of Hoyle. She's been searching for one the entire game and finally got what I believe is about the third best type in the game, the 1801 version. This is a major way for this type of magic-tosser to learn new powers and her capabilities will expand quite a bit now. 
  • The martial artist had a really hard time deciding but ended up taking a lucky jackalope's foot. This basically just gives him 2 extra bennies per session (which can be super useful) a the risk of making critical failures a whole lot worse if (when) one happens. It is a relic but is pretty generally useful. Considering he is the stealth guy, the melee guy, and their liaison to the Chinese community I am sure he will find them useful. 
  • The gunslinger of course had to pick a gun - in this case the Guns of Jericho ... which are bad ... but also kind of awesome. It's a cursed Gatling rifle that stains the wielders hands black, make the user Greedy and Mean (these are Hindrances in-game), and on a critical failure the guns disappear and reappear somewhere else. Oh, and the evil hombre that created them is still out there looking for him and might show up if word gets out that someone is using his guns somewhere - what GM doesn't see the potential in THAT kind of setup!
So I am very happy with this set of choices and for now I think my decision to let them pick instead of picking for them or going random was a good call. We are already into the next adventure which involves a haunted island that may have one of the marks they need to find so I will update as the game progresses. 

Monday, April 24, 2023

Monday, April 17, 2023

Friday, April 14, 2023

40K Friday - Pre-10th Edition Roundup


The updates keep coming:

I have to say so far I remain cautiously optimistic. It does feel like concerns about the 8th/9th edition rules have been heard and are being addressed. I'm sure it won't be perfect but it feels like a move in the right direction. Shooting out of a rhino is a real throwback as is moving back to characters in units. People are worried about the faction rules eliminating a lot of flavor but I suspect many of the bigger subfactions will become separate factions on their own. 

Looking forward to the edition change I decided to focus in on a few of my armies. I say this because one of my long-term issues is that I tend to jump around between them picking up a unit here and a unit there, something for Orks one week then something for Marines the next and then something for Chaos after that and then a lot of it sits around half done for years. So I have unit X, and it's probably built so it's technically playable, but it's at best primed or basecoated. Over time I will build up a sizable group of mostly-painted or "almost done" units for a given army and it's damned annoying even though I'm doing it to myself. This can happen even when I pick up a model that is technically painted because I usually need to do some touch ups and work on the bases to make them fit into my existing army.

I'm sure there's room in there for another landspeeder and another predator ... and maybe another redemptor ...

I go through bursts of finishing up these half-completed units every so often and right now I'm working through my Crimson Fists backlog of "blue but not yet completed" miniatures which has a lot of things that were built and basecoated in a prior decade but never finished. This week I managed to close out a Gravis Captain (the fat one from Dark Imperium), a land speeder I originally got in the 3rd edition starter set (yes, it took me around 25 years to get it from "on sprue" to "done" and no that is not a record for me), and a squadron of 5 bikes which I have wanted to do for a long time but had not. 

With those actually finished I now have some Fast Attack options to choose from which has always been a back burner kind of thing in my marine armies. I did something similar a few years back with Elites when I added a couple of Terminator squads and a bunch of dreadnoughts to expand my choices there. A trio of attack bikes is in progress now along with a third landspeeder to finish out the speed options. I'm also close to completing an old MKII Predator to complete my Predator trio for this army. 

It feels like I'm making real progress on reducing the pile of shame here so naturally I had to go and complicate things by deciding it was time to add in some real primaris options too. Right now there are intercessors, assault intercessors, heavy intercessors, aggressors, another captain and a pair of lieutenants either newly arrived or on the way and I already had a repulsor, some inceptors, some hellblasters, and a captain and a chaplain waiting for an opportunity to join up so that's going to be a significant project for the next month. I originally chose the Fists because they were a much simpler paint scheme to do after doing Howling Griffons for my old RT/2E army. I'm going to force myself to remember that and burn through some intercessor squads now instead of letting them gather dust on the to-do pile. More to come on that. 

Of course I'm not just focusing on one army - that would be too easy. I've picked up a few Death Guard units recently and I'm slowly working on making them into a real army and not just a collection of interesting parts. I've finally added some of the newer plastic plague marines to the force after resisting the temptation as I want to build some melee squads and they have a lot of options there. I'm also getting the terminators and vehicles sorted out and figuring out how I want to paint them all in hopes of looking like a somewhat cohesive force. 

I also added some options to my Grey Knights force - like an actual metal Draigo! - but the main focus there has been painting up the rhinos/razorbacks/land raider/dreadnoughts to get their vehicles sorted out as well. Not as big of a project but still important to "finish" the force.

Not mine but "Goals"

Finally the other focus area is my Black Templars. I've had a lot of built and basecoated stuff for them for a few years now, enough to play some games, but not much is really "done". I really like their updated crusader squad sprues and some of the other chapter-specific bling that's available for them so I picked up some more of those sets as well and have plans for a couple of big footslogger squads to try something different. 

Anyway there's a Friday brain dump on the 40K situation. Lots of power armor to paint - more next week!

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Deadlands, Star Wars, and the Sentinel Comics RPG


It's been an interesting year so far. Besides working on mini's in anticipation of the new edition and catching back up on STO I've managed to run a fair number of games. So far that's 4 sessions of FFG Star Wars, 4 sessions of Deadlands, and 1 session of the Sentinel Comics RPG.

We play on Saturday evenings and things have settled into a steady average of 3 out of 4 weekends in any given month. It's not bad considering everyone has jobs and families and I no longer have my in-house crew to run for in between the big sessions.

I talked about scheduling issues here and how I planned to overcome them and the plan is working pretty well ... with a few adjustments.

  • Deadlands is still the "main" game and is still set for the 1st and 4th weekends. We miss one here and there but this is working.
  • Star Wars is 2nd weekends and has been hit and miss but the players are still interested so it's still in the rotation.
  • 3rd weekends ... for some reason 3rd weekends have been a regular gap for us. I'm not sure why but for now I've decided to stop fighting it and just stay flexible. 
To adjust to this we discussed options for a backup game and for a while we leaned towards something like Battletech but there is a certain amount of setup time and haggling over when and which mechs and tonnage or points and it just was not feeling like the right answer. This led to the re-realization that a supers game has near-infinite flexibility for characters to come and go each session and with the 3rd weekend - penciled in as a supers game - not happening it was an easy call. So that's how I came to run a SCRPG game last weekend. 

I'll post up a session report later since it's a new campaign and I really need to get back in the habit of doing those. For now though it is the ongoing, intermittent, backup game. I have 5 players. If at least 4 of them can make it we will run the scheduled game. If we are at 3 or less I will run the Superhero option and we will get back on track the next weekend. 

Of course I get all this figured out and then realize this month has a 5th weekend ... ah well we will figure something out.

Monday, April 10, 2023