Friday, December 6, 2013

40K Friday - Dusting off the Goffs

I run them as battlewagons because the forgeworld rules for squiggoths and giant squiggoths are just a mess,

So after all the time spent looking through, rearranging, and plotting upgrades for my space marines, both loyalist and traitor, when Blaster and I had a chance to play a game last weekend what did I take? Blood Angels? Ravenwing? Nope, I ended up running Orks.

Why would I do this? Well I did make up a list for some of the marine armies but my Dark angels are still largely in pieces as they are easier to paint that way. Same thing with my Blood Angels - bodies on bases but no arms or guns right now. I did make a decent Crimson Fists list and we may play another game this weekend (though the ice storm has probably taken care of that) but I was looking at the china cabinet/miniatures storage and realized I've barely played my Orks at all for 6th edition and I really wanted to give them a run.

Blaster has been wanting to play his Eldar lately and had a game against Red's Orks the day before and discussing the outcome of that game had me wanting to give it a try myself. So Blaster kept almost the same 1500 point list as he had used for that game while I wrote up an all-mechanized ork army. This was not particularly optimized, I just wanted to get all 4 of my "battlewagons" on the table:

1500 Pts  -   Orks Army

1 Warboss (HQ) @ 455 Pts
     'Eavy Armour; Cybork Body; Power Klaw; Shoota / Skorcha; Stikkbombz;Warlord

     9 Nobz (Troops) @ [350] Pts
          'Eavy Armour (x8); Choppa (x9); Slugga (x9)

          1 Battlewagon @ [130] Pts
               Grot Riggers; Wreckin' Ball; Big Shoota (x2); Zzap Gun

1 Big Mek (HQ) @ 125 Pts
     'Eavy Armour; #Mek's Tools; Cybork Body; Power Klaw; Kustom Force Field;Stikkbombz

19 Ork Boyz (Troops) @ 155 Pts
     Slugga (x19); Choppa (x19)

     1 Nob @ [41] Pts
          Power Klaw; Slugga

19 Ork Boyz (Troops) @ 155 Pts
     Slugga (x19); Choppa (x19)

     1 Nob @ [41] Pts
          Power Klaw; Slugga

19 Shoota Boyz (Ork Boyz) @ 114 Pts
     Shoota (x19)

1 Warbuggy (Fast Attack) @ 105 Pts
     Twin-linked Rokkit Launcha (x1); Vehicle Squadron

     1 Warbuggy #1 @ [35] Pts
          Twin-linked Rokkit Launcha (x1)

     1 Warbuggy #2 @ [35] Pts
          Twin-linked Rokkit Launcha (x1)

1 Battlewagon (Heavy Support) @ 130 Pts
     Grot Riggers; Wreckin' Ball; Big Shoota (x2); Zzap Gun

1 Battlewagon (Heavy Support) @ 130 Pts
     Grot Riggers; Wreckin' Ball; Big Shoota (x2); Zzap Gun

1 Battlewagon (Heavy Support) @ 130 Pts
     Grot Riggers; Wreckin' Ball; Big Shoota (x2); Zzap Gun

Models in Army: 77
Total Army Cost: 1499

So it's a pretty melee-heavy force. I went with the warlord + nobz because I haven't tried them in 6E before. Two mobs of sluggas because they're finished and complete. I'm experimenting with Nob loadouts but I stayed with the Klaw for now and skipped the armor. The unit of 19 shoota boyz went with the Mek. The rokkit buggies are there because they're cheap, fast, and usually pretty effective at shooting up tanks.

Blaster went with a "footdar" list which is a little weird because he has plenty of vehicles to go mobile if he chooses. he went with Asurmen and a Farseer as his HQ, 2 units of Guardians and a unit of Dire Avengers as troops, a unit of Harlequins as elites, a unit of Dark Reapers and a Wraithlord as his heavy support.

The white discs on stands are the objective markers. There are two in the ruins on the left, 2 in the woods in the center, and 2 in the open on the right.
We ended up with that still-annoying diagonal setup and the mission with 6 objectives. We did the full random setup for once and it was ... ok, if a little tedious. We prefer the  "one guy sets up, the other guy picks which side to take" approach. I ended up with setup first and move first. Warlord traits are iffy for Orks, I'm hoping their eventual new codex gives them some interesting choices. I took the "Turn 1 is nightfighting" result figuring it might protect my wagons for the opening turn. Asurmen gains 3 warlord rolls and Blaster took the incredibly annoying "re-roll saves of 1" for his special character with the 2+ armor save. Yeah, it really sucks to be on the wrong end of that, especially with Ork ballistic skill.

My goal was to grab two 3-4 point objectives and push the space elfs off of the nearest one to those to ensure a win for the greenside. I lined up and headed for the circular ruins with the 4-point objective, figured I would hold one of the wooded objectives, and kick him out of the other ruins. So I lined up like a football team on my diagonal starting line, ready to go.

Blaster's harlies and one guardian squad went for the same round-ruins objective I was eyeballing, his dark reapers and the other guardian squad went into the other ruined building - alright that just got a little tougher. His wave serpent (hauling Asurmen, the farseer, and the dire avengers) and the wraithlord went after the objective at the other end of the woods.

End of turn 1
Pushing forward, the first mob of slugga boyz ran into a harlequin buzzsaw and were wiped out in two rounds. Shooting broke the combat clowns and sent them running. The sluggas and the nobz battlewagons were both blown up (reapers, guardian platforms, the wave serpent, and the wraithlord all had some good turns here) earning first blood for the Eldar, while the big mek managed to immobilize his wagon in the woods, so he and the shootas jumped out too. They managed to blow away half of the other guardian squad when they left the safety of the red ruined building.

The impromptu Eldar death star moved into the woods to hold that objective. It didn;t stop them from shooting at things.

I think this is turn 3
The nobz and the shoota boyz went after the ruins - with the harelquins out of the way there was just a guardian squad holding them. The other unit of slugga boys went over to keep the "deathstar" busy, assisted by the buggies who were targeting the wraithlord.

Turn 4
The nobz move in and clear out the guardians, taking the big 4-point objective. The shoota boyz though are blown all over (despite the presence of the KFF) by reapers, the wave serpent, and the guardian platform in the red ruins. Blaster likes his missile launchers and they did well in this game. I lost the Mek and was down to 3 boyz by the end of this.

Over in the woods over the course of turns 3 & 4 the slugga boyz get wiped out by the combination of Asurmen and the wraithlord. They do manage to eliminate the dire avengers, so there will be no objective taken here. The wraithlord then blows up the battlewagon for good measure. Let's call it a draw...

Turn 5
On the potential last turn of the game the warboss and his few remaining nobz go to ground in the ruins to try and weather the ferocious storm of missiles from the dark reapers, especially once the Farseer starts putting "Doom" on me and "Guide" on his Reapers. The harlequins finally recover from their earlier morale failure and realize that the shoota boy remnants have moved into position to claim linebraker ...

The confrontation ...
The shootas wipe out 2 of the 3 remaining harlies. On the Eldar turn the lone battle-joker charges and ... is killed by overwatch fire from the boyz!

At the end of the turn the roll to continue is high, meaning we will go to turn 6.

As turn 6 begins the Orks stand at 4 VP's for the objective plus 1 more for linebreaker. The Eldar have 3 VP's for their objective, plus 1 for first blood. If I can just hold ...

The wave serpent jumps across the table for linebreaker. Great - we're tied.

Then a final volley of missiles from the reapers blasts into the ruins and ... finishes off my warboss. Shoot.

Eldar win 6-5 in a very bloody confrontation. At the end I have one battlewagon, 3 nobz, 3 shoota boyz, and 2 rokkit buggies left. He has Asurmen, the Farseer, a wounded wraithlord, the wave serpent, about 5 guardians, and 5 dark reapers left.

Post-Game thoughts: 

  • I immobilized the one wagon on Turn 2 when he tried to move out of the woods. I then forgot to use his grot riggers for the next 3 turns and I ended up just turning him to have better protection from the wraithlord's missile shots. He did stay alive for the whole game though.
  • Wrecking balls are useless - 2" range is just not enough to be useful. If I was going to run up and "melee" my vehicles I would use deffrollas. Zap guns did nothing the whole game. I like having some AP2 guns in the army but they just were not effective.  Next time I'm taking more big shootas, maybe one with all rokkits. 
  • Shoota boyz are great and I need more of them. I used my old 2E Kommandos for them in this game and completely forgot about their big shootas the entire game because they aren't modeled that way. I can fix that.
  • The shredding of the slugga boyz and then the shoota boyz meant that I wasn't able to go after the reapers and guardians in the red ruins. If either one of those units survives then I have a chance to take it to that firebase. 
  • The decline of the Kustom Force Field from a 4+ save to a 5+ save is significant and I'm wondering if it's truly needed anymore.
  • Doomed Nobz being fired on by Guided Dark Reapers are easy meat. I need to look into Mega nobz for next time. Or I just need to send the nobz after the reapers directly.
  • Despite mistakes and some poor decisions it all came down to the last phase of the last turn of the game which is a pretty close fight and one we were both happy to have.

    Units I already have that moved up the to-do list after this: Shoota Boyz

    Units I do not have that I think would make a difference: Nob Bikers

    It was a fun game and we're going to make it a priority again to get in more games as everyone's interest levels are back up again. Now if I could just get them to paint more...

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

    Super News Thursday

    I keep bumping into superhero RPG news this week so I thought I would share:

    Mutants and Masterminds

    • Emerald City is out in PDF and will be out "soon" in print
    • Next up is the Cosmic Handbook
    • Q2 2014 is supposed to see the compiled Gadget Guide book released
    • Gen Con 2014 will see Freedom City 3rd Edition
    • The "weekly PDF" for 2014 will be the Atlas of Earth Prime, a series of articles on the rest of the world of Freedom City and Emerald City

    • Adamant is running a 10th anniversary sale and Team-Up! is on sale for $1.99. 

    Savage Worlds
    • Pinnacle is working on Necessary Evil 2!

    Lots of cool stuff there. It's nice to see a full schedule for M&M. I like everything I see on that list. I picked up all of the weekly villain releases in 2011 and the power profiles in 2012 but this year I backed off of the gadget guides, just getting some here and there, because they weren't as immediately useful as the other stuff. A collected guide though is something worth getting. I wonder how setting material will do in that format? They mentioned that it will be priced a little higher, be a little longer, and will come out every two weeks. If there's some crunch in there too then those could be very interesting. Updated Freedom City should be a treasure trove of ideas and characters.

    Team-Up - Hey, for being two years late it's pretty cool. I'll probably put up a full post about it down the road.

    Necessary Evil 2 is a surprise - I never thought they would seriously return to that specific universe - but it's a good one as that is a great campaign. Apparently this one will also involve playing villains pushed into unexpected behavior. Christopher McGlothlin is writing it and I've liked a lot of his stuff (Time of Crisis for M&M among others) so the limited information I have is all positive so far.

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

    Trek Tuesday: The Last Unicorn Star Trek RPG

    I used to own this book, in fact I bought it the month it came out back in 1998. My main impression was visual - this was the first full-color, full-of-photos RPG book that I had seen and it blew me away when I flipped through it in the store. Plus, it was Trek! We hadn't had an in-print Star Trek game in about 10 years when the FASA RPG petered out with the Next Generation Officer's Guide. Now there was a new Trek game, from a company I'd never heard of, using a system I had never seen before - and it looked amazing!

    To continue with the visuals I had a lot of experience with FASA products, from Trek and Traveller in the early days on into Battletech and Shadowrun where they entered their "art is everything" phase, and even they did not publish full-color rulebooks. Even their Trek game was not overstuffed with photos - the main rulebook was, but the supporting material mostly used line art. TSR had gone sort-of full color with the 1995 AD&D 2E revisions (the black cover PHB-DMG-MM) but even then it was mostly black text on white pages with some red headers and some art here and there. This new Trek book was way past that, with full color photos from the show all over the place and LCARS borders in different colors. The closest comparison I can make is with Underground and it's use of color to mark different sections and full color art throughout the main rulebook, but even it didn't have photos to draw on like this. LUG's Trek stood above all others in look and presentation.

    The next impression was (not coincidentally) the price - it was $35! This was by far the most I had ever paid for a single rulebook and it was a shock, but the presentation - and the subject matter of course - won me over and I picked it up as soon as I could. Remember the D&D 3E books that came out in 2000 were $19.95 full-color hardbacks, and later jumped up but only to $30. This was a couple of years before that. Even sticker shock and general stinginess can be overcome with the right content and presentation.

    Mechanics-wise I was somewhat disappointed. My standard of comparison was FASA's Trek game and it was a percentile roll game with a large skill list, an action point personal combat system, a fairly detailed ship combat system, a Traveller-esque character generation system, and in general a lot of simulationist crunch, to use the popular phrasing. I played it for years and I loved it. LUG's Trek worked on a 1-5 scale for stats & skills which seemed incredibly narrow and limiting at the time. It also had a much shorter skill list which also seemed limiting. On the plus side it did keep a sort of lifepath/background generation system and it added in Hero/GURPS style advantages and disadvantages which could add some flavor to a character beyond their stats, skills, and service record.

    I also was not impressed with the die mechanics. That 1-5 stat is how many dice you roll for a skill check, then you take the highest die and add it to your skill rating (also 1-5) and that's your total. So the entire range of possibilities is defined by a d6+5. That certainly makes every point count but that is a huge amount of variability. One die in the pool is the drama die and on a 6 you get to add another die to the total, on a 1 there are increased consequences for failure. The recommended difficulty numbers are 4 (Routine) - 7 (Moderate) -10 (Challenging) - 13 (Difficult). Those seemed really high considering you're going to average around a 4 + skill level).

    Starships were also less detailed and starship combat was far less gripping than FASA's game.

    I was disappointed enough with the whole thing that I only tried to run it a few times and only played it a few times before the book hit the shelf. So much potential wasted. I eventually sold it or traded it for something else.

    Recently though I've been digging into Trek after a long phase of not really caring so much. I stll have my FASA Trek stuff and a complete set of the later Decipher Trek RPG but I wanted to take a second look at LUG.  I picked up a copy of the book again (less sticker shock this time) and at first glance it's still very pretty.

    Rules-wise I like it better than I did then, probably because I've played a lot more rules-light games and get this idea more now than I did then. It definitely leans towards the rules-light end of the spectrum, though it gets oddly detailed in some areas like starships, which ironically enough now seem almost too detailed to me in relation to the rest of the game system.

    The game also is clearly and proudly in the narrative structure camp of gaming. Adventures are built around scenes and acts and there are really no random encounters and that kind of thing found in the book. That's fine, I can work with that when I know it up front. There are still some elements of a "Trek Universe Simulator" there but it's mostly a "Trek Series Simulator" rather than a physics engine like the FASA game was.

    I am still not sure about the main resolution mechanic - relying on a handful of d6's still seems very swingy. I play enough 40K to know how unpredictable a few of them can be (saving throws for a terminator squad come to mind). I think to make this game work I would have to be very very strict about limiting tests to "only when there is truly a chance of failure" which is something I am not always good at doing. It would also need to follow the narrative convention of "one stealth check gets you from the shuttlecraft landing site to the hidden klingon base" rather than the more traditional "one stealth check per 100 feet" approach used in most of the games I have played. I'd be willing to give it a try, but it's definitely something I would have to watch.

    So, yes - I like the game better now than I did and I might be up for giving it a try sometime. Only one of the Apprentices is really interested in Star Trek so I'd have to talk one of my other friends into it and that's going to be a tough sell. It's definitely going on the list as a secondary/try-out game though.

    Monday, December 2, 2013

    The End of Paragon City - One Year On

    Somewhere, the Mighty Crimson Fist is still fighting crime ...
    City of Heroes came to an untimely end one year ago yesterday, specifically about 2 am Sunday morning my local time. It's still a sore spot around here and while I don't lay awake nights pining for it I do miss it at times. Quite a bit of the wallpaper rotation on my main PC is CoH screenshots so it still feels very recent to me. There are efforts underway to create some new games in the spirit of CoH but for today I'm wishing the original was still around.

    Early on the last day in Atlas Park. Kaptain Amerika is the red one in the center there.

    Motivational Monday

    One of my favorites, redside or blue - the fury mechanic made them a lot of fun to just jump into the middle of a crowd and start throwing punches. Incredulous Bulk, Master of Beast-Fu, The Thangg - I do miss running around as those guys. Hopefully one of the successor projects brings in a similar mechanical approach and they can rise again.