Friday, December 28, 2012

The Hobbit SBG: The First Battle Report

With some time off after Christmas I was able to schedule a game with a friend and long time Lord of the Rings player.  For him it was his first game in a year. For both of us it was our first game with the new Hobbit SBG  rules.
A quick recap of the game and then I'll try and break down the rules changes and my thoughts on them in general.  We played a 600 point game with me bringing 3 Uruk-hai warbands led by Saruman, a Captain and a Shaman while Mike brought 3 Dwarf warbands led by two Captains and Gimli.  We played "Lords of Battle". 

My initial deployment found me placing my Uruk-hai crossbowmen on the second floor of a ruined building on my left flank across from Mike's Dwarf archers deployed on a hill on his right flank.  To the right of the building I deployed Saruman and his bodyguard in hopes of getting some Sorcerous Blasts off on the Dwarf flanks.  Finally, in the center I deployed my third Warband led by the Captain so they could go toe-to-toe with the Dwarves.

As the game began I managed to get my Shaman to cast Fury using a heroic channelling which meant the fate roll was a 5+ instead of the normal 6+.  Saruman, on the other hand, botched his roll for Sorcerous Blast.  The crossbowman killed one dwarf archer and that was it.  On Mike's turn he called a Heroic Accuracy with his captain positioned by his archers.  This allowed them to re-roll any failed in the way rolls.  Even though I had hid Saruman behind some Uruk-hai Mike was able to use his archers and the re-roll to force Saruman to take a couple of Fate rolls, which he passed.
The following turns saw our two forces get stuck in to combat with me initially having a slight edge in kills.  Saruman also managed to get off two Sorcerous Blasts killing a total of 4 Dwarf Warriors and 1 Banner.  He also used the Palantir to steal priority giving him a wonderful flank shot of Sorcerouns Blast.  On the downside, Mike used another Heroic Accuracy to whittle Saruman down to zero fate and 1 wound.  I quickly pulled Saruman back and hid him behind two Uruk-hai forcing Mike to make two in the way rolls.  With no might left and all but two archers out of range, Mike took a chance and shot his two in range archers at Saruman.  One hit, passed both in the way rolls (on a 5) and then rolled a 6 to wound Saruman!  With no fate and one wound that was the end of Saruman giving mike 6 victory points in one figure.
The death of Saruman was a sign of things to come.  The battle in the center started to turn Mike's way given the intervention of Gimli and the other Captain.  At one stage I needed to kill 5 more to get him to break and force a roll off for the end of the game.  He needed to kill 8 to do the same to me.  For the next two rounds I killed a total of 1 warrior while Mike killed 10 of my guys.  I either failed to win combats, Mike seemed to always win the roll offs for ties and if I did win I couldn't wound anything (3's don't wound Dwarves!). Of course, Fury kept me in the game except for my 4 remaining crossbowmen on the flank which promptly ALL failed their courage checks, needing a 7 and I rolled four 6's!!  Even though we went three rounds we never rolled the one or two to end the game and finally, with me down to three figs, I cried Uncle and threw in the towel.  Even taking out the 3 points for him being unbroken I lost 39 victory points to 16.
So, the new rules clearly haven't changed my ability to win games which I guess is good news for everyone else. :)

The new rules are great!  The game is the same game as the Lord of the Rings SBG but has definite tweaks to it that give the game some new life and new challenges.  The new options for spending Might are very cool.  They give characters a chance to use Might when they might not normally do so.  For instance, Mike's Dwarf Captain leading the archers used his two points to call Heroic Accuracy which reduced Saruman's fate and wounds to the point where one lucky shot was enough to kill him.  With how far out of the battle that model was, without that use of Might for that action that figure may well have ended the game not having used any might at all.

Heroic Channeling is another great use of Might.  Using it on my Fury spell meant I saved wounds on a 5 or 6.  I have almost never made a fate roll in the past but with it being 5+ I actually passed three or four.  Considering that is about all my Shaman is good for I think I'll be using that move with him in the future.

The other big change is the added rules for weapons.  For my Uruk-hai, they could use Feint which gives you a re-roll of 1's on the wound roll but reduced your fight value by d3.  With us both having F4 this wasn't so useful to me.  Mike, on the other hand, could do Piercing Strike which increase their strength D3 if they win but reduced their defense D3 if they lose.  Maybe if I won the duel roll more often this might have been good for me but with Dwarves high defense (7 usually) even this reduction may not have a huge impact.  But the increased strength really killed me, often letting him wound on 4 or 5 instead of 6.

The two concerns I have are more about tournament games.  First, not only the time it takes to decide when to use new Heroic Actions or Special Strikes but the additional time it takes to resolve these (re-rolls, rolling to determine the increased strength, etc.) will add to the length of the game turn.  This will lessen as people become more comfortable with the rules but even then I still worry the game will take longer.  The second concern is about the use of the Special Strikes themselves.  Some models, like the dwarf warriors are armed with axes, making it easy to decide what Special Strike they could use.  But, do you declare every time or simple tell the opponent "all strikes are Piercing unless I say otherwise" which is how many people currently handle two-handed weapons.  Then there is the issue of warriors armed with two-handed weapons.  The rules state that, unless it says they are unarmed a model always has a hand weapon.  So, does the model now need to have that weapon modelled on it (it never did before)?  And if you choose to use the hand weapon instead of the two-handed weapon can you use a Special Strike and if so which one.  So for our game we decided that models such as the Uruk-hai berserker has both a two-handed sword and a dagger (this is generally how it was played before).  In this case, if I used the dagger I could have used the Feint strike.  In cases like this, I don't like the idea of modeling something that is assumed to be their but I also think there needs to be some rule about what this hand weapon is (i.e. you can't just choose which weapon is best based on the special rule).  My personal feeling now is that, if not specified, the hand weapon is always a dagger or sword thus making it easier to know what special strike that can use.

As you see though, these concerns are really only related to tournament games as I think in friendly games players could establish their own "house rules" to deal with odd situations.  All in all, I'm very happy with the new rules and I'm excited to see a renewed interest in the game.  I'm not sure how well this will stick but given the small crowd for LotR I feel that any new player is a big win for us.

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Why?  Just because a little film debuts in 4 days called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey!!  Better than that is the release of the new The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game from Games Workshop.  Since I have a number of other things to paint AND I also purchased the hardback rulebook, I decided to let me family wrap the limited edition starter set: Escape From Goblin Town so I can open it at Christmas.

I thought I'd take a moment to share my thoughts about the rules and hardback book.  Since the shrink wrap is still on the box you'll have to wait for some model reviews until the new year.  Before I begin, let's just talk about the elephant in the room; namely, GW's prices.  I know, they suck but I've given up complaining about it since I'm still buying the stuff, albeit much less than before.  As much as I can dislike their pricing strategies and their attitude toward the community of gamers, I do love the game systems (Lord of the Rings and 40k), the models, and the background (40k).  Plus, I know many people who play and who I enjoy being around so in the end, I'm a GW hobbyist whether I like it or not.

On to The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game.  The hardcover rulebook has all the profiles for new models in The Hobbit plus new army lists based around the movie.  These new lists coincide with the lists in the Lord of the Rings Sourcebooks released earlier this year.  One of the things I was thrilled about was the continued use of the "Warband" lists they started in the sourcebooks.  In my mind, this sort of point match system was sorely lacking when The Fellowship of the Rings box was released in 2001.  As a result, IMHO, players either tired of the scenario based system or didn't get hooked as it was NOT like starting 40k or Fantasy.  All this changed with Legions of Middle-earth, the first supplement to offer dedicated army lists and ally rules.  Then came numerous army books based on the same system which finally made it easy to simply start an army rather than recreate scenes from the books and movies.  The new sourcebooks and now this new rule set have continued this which I think is a huge plus.  You can play scenario based games from the films and books AND/OR point match games like you would for 40k or Fantasy.  The best of both worlds!

Now, one downside to this point match system is the fact that you MUST purchase the hardback rulebook to get the profiles and army lists.  The soft cover rulebook in the box game does NOT have these.  Underhanded?  Maybe, but they have never published profiles and army building with the rules of other systems (you even had to buy new books to build armies for Lord of the Rings in the past) so they'd have sold something to allow army building at any rate (i.e. think a Hobbit Codex to go with your rules).  So, it would have cost you either way. GW is good at that, aren't they?

The other thing I'm so excited about is that the core rules of the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game have remained essentially the same at heart.  Same turn sequence, same characteristic names, same priority system, same shoot, combat, magic, etc.  Like a true "new edition" it is the core rules with a twist.  Changes include things like varying powers of spells, special attacks for various hand weapons, new heroic actions to name the big ones.  Although I'm sure some will love these changes and others will hate them, for me I'm just glad it is still the game I love and I look forward to the new challenges and opportunities these changes will bring.

So for now, I'm sticking to finishing the plethora of Lord of the Rings figures I own before I march into forces from the Hobbit.  The prices make it easy to put off new purchases but I already feel the call of upcoming models shown in the rulebook.  Ah, must stay focused. 

Damn you GW!  You keep pulling me back in!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

B3 2012: 2 days of LotR SBG goodness!

Below is a slide show of pictures from Bilbo's Birthday Bash 2012.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Movember and The Guns of April

As part of preparations for our historical exhibition game at Adepticon 2013, the guys on the Guns of April team decided to do a fundraiser to help support a worthy cause. After some discussion we set our minds on working with the great charity project known as Movember.  This group raises money to support Prostrate cancer screening and men's health awareness.  As a team member, your goal is to grow a mustache during the month of November and help promote men's health issues by showing off your growing mustache and hopefully raising some money to support a worthy cause.
So please check out our groups MoSpace page and considering donating to a great effort.  For me, this project has special meaning as I have known several  friends who have had prostate cancer.  Fortunately, they have fully recovered and are still with us today. 
And of course, you can follow our groups progress on their American Civil War forces over at the Guns of April blog.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Double Duty

With my foray back into 40k I'm using the opportunity to take a single army (Imperial Guard) and make it work for several projects at once.  Given my lack of speed when it comes to painting, this will get me closer to having an army for multiple gaming groups with less time and effort.

In the last post you saw the start of my Badab War project.  Today I give you the first of a couple of models that will be used for my Kill Zone team as well as a general IG army for friendly games of 40k.

This is an Adepticon model from a few years back (I think 2008) and thought it worked well for my Kill Zone team as it was a bit "different".  I plan to use her as a Commissar (equal rights for women in the Imperium I say!)

So there you have it.  A couple of models switched and I can go from traitorous Tyrant Legionnaires to loyal Imperial soldiers in no time at all.  Stay tuned as I work on both more IG for Badab and a Kill Zone addition that has become an unplanned homage to a different Empire in a different galaxy.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Tyrant's Legion Begins

I've been pulled back into 40k in a big way.  First, it was a group of fellow gamers looking to do Kill Zone (I'd only have to do 10 figs).  Then it was a good friend putting together a fantastic group of hobbyists and gamers to recreate the Badab War from the Forge World Imperial Armour 9 and 10 books.  Finally, the release of 6th edition, the fantastic starter box minis and the new allies rule sealed to deal.

So I've been slowly working on my Imperial Guard which will serve double duty as my Kill Zone team and the base of my Badab War project: The Tyrant's Legion.  For those who don't know the history, the Astral Claws Space Marine Chapter, led by Lugft Huron (aka. Huron Blackheart, aka, Tyrant of Badab) stopped sending their tithes back to the Administratum and this incurred the wrath of the Imperium in the form of several Space Marine Chapters sent to put the Astral Claws to task for their transgressions.  My favorite thing about the Badab War is that Huron had built a defense force for the sector based strongly on the same format as the pre-heresy forces of the Imperium.  So, Imperial Guard units (mostly Planetary Defense Forces) where commanded by a Space Marine and served alongside Astral Claw units.  These Guard didn't know they were part of a secessionist force.  They were loyal soldiers and in their minds they were doing what their lord, and thus the Imperium, asked of them. From that perspective, the attacking Imperial forces were enemies and traitors and the Badab forces were on the right side.  By the end they realized the error of this loyalty when they fought alongside renegade marauder units they had formally fought against to secure the sector.

The great thing is I not only get to paint guard but I also get to include Astral Claw elements AND chaos elements in the form of Renegade Marauders.  When I saw the contents of the Dark Vengeance starter set I quickly realized all 20 Chaos Cultists would work perfectly as Renegade units in this Badab force and might serve as the basis of a future Chaos force.  Ever since reading the Fulgrim novel my opinion of Slaneesh has changed and is now the most disturbing and frightening chaos god in my opinion.  With that, and the chance to paint pink for the first time in my miniature paining history, I had to make my Marauders cultists of Slaneesh.

Below are some shots of the Badab force so far (yes, I have a LOT more guard to paint) including the Astral Claws Centurion that will lead the force. I'm hoping to get my first 500 points ready for a game in December so check back for progress updates as I go.
Centurion and IG Command (so far)

Astral Claws Centurion

I used the Forgeworld convention model (Boarding Marine)
from 2011 for my Centurion

My first Marauder.  This is one of the models
from the Dark Vengeance box 

I couldn't resist the chance to paint pink!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Heart and Soul of the Hobby

The last year has been a relatively disheartening time for me in terms of my GW hobby. Recently I've come to realize the source and reconcile my negative feelings for GW with my continued passion for their products. This past weekend I think I was reminded what the heart and soul of the hobby is for me.

The pictures below are from a couple of 40k players I know who were playing in a tournament at the Chicago Bunker. I'll also include a link to a third player's blog with pictures of his beautiful IG army. I found, even with my disgust at GW Corporates complete lack of "love" for the hobby community (i.e. pulling the prize support, pulling the circuit, failure to support local clubs and players who champion their game, etc) I was still drawn to these games. Well, I think these pictures should give you some idea of why. For me, I can't look at armies like this and NOT be inspired and excited to do some hobbying of my own. Plus, when I know the people and they are a great bunch of folks (fun, into the background, love to paint and hobby, etc) that is a further plus.

I don't like GW Corporates recent policies or prices and I know I spend less now then I would have in the past, yet I really enjoy the products they make (well, except finecast maybe), the background AND most importantly the other gamers and hobbyists I know who also play their games. In the end, these people and the beautiful, inspirational hobbying they do is the true heart and soul of this hobby to me and it keeps me coming back for more every time.

The following links are to Brian and Jeff's blogs. Brian's Necrons are also pictured below along with a Tallaran IG army painted by a different guy named Jeff.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What have I gotten myself into this time?

So, the past year or more I've been very down on GW and had decided to spend my hobby money elsewhere like FOW, Historicals, etc.  Essentially, I felt that I would not buy anything model wise from GW until the Hobbit release (I already have enough Lord of the Rings stuff to keep me busy for several years anyway).  And then I had to wander through the bitz trading at Adepticon (why I don't know) and felt compelled to haggle over the Cadian Battleforce box (new in box) which after getting him down to roughly 50% off I felt obligated to buy. 

It must have been fate because it turns out a number of different gamers I know and sometimes game with are looking to start both Kill Zone and a Badab War campaign.  I only found this out the day after buying this box!  So below is the start of my combination Kill Zone Team and Badab Sector Planetary Defense Auxila.  I wanted to do something different and more prestine, plus I'm feeling like painting some blue.  Although the initial force will be pretty generic I'm basing the theme around the Guard Auxila that fought for Huron Blackheart in the Badab Sector during the Badab War.  These poor bastards thought they were protecting their sector and homeworlds from a traitorous Imperium and Space Marines when in fact, they were the ones who at unwittingly turned from the Imperium by blindly following Huron and the Astral Claws.  If things do take off with the Badab Campaign I may even add some Astral Claws to the force and make it a Traitors Legion list out of the Badab Forgeworld Book 1.

You may notice one of the models here is not a GW model (don't tell anyone) but is instead one of the past Adepticon models which I've always wanted to paint and finally found the opportunity.  For now he'll serve as my Company Commander.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lots Still Going On Behind The Scenes

It's been awhile since my last update but even with the silence I've been busy.  Expect a few posts over the next month with a recap of my April and May hobby adventures including Adepticon, LotR, Guns of April, Gorgon work and even some 40k (yes, even that!).

In the meantime, this weekend I had a chance to play some ancients with a local group I've started meeting with.  Mike runs these games in which he supplies all the figs (painted nicely I might add) and we just show up, roll some dice, have some laughs and push some lead around.  AWESOME!  To top it off, I played on the Roman side and we pulled of a nail biter of a win against the Numidians.

The Roman Legions arrayed for battle

The Roman heavy and light cavalry destroy the Numidian Cavalry on the Numidian right flank

The Numdian right flank has fallen and the Romans move in for the kill

After seeing several Roman units destroyed the game hung on the outcome of the battle above with the Romans winning the day in the end

Saturday, February 25, 2012

FOW 3rd edition!

I found out recently that The Warstore was giving away a free copy of the new 3rd edition rules with any Flames of War purchase. Well, rather then waiting a month and spending god only knows what on the hardcover book I went ahead and put in an order. It arrived today in all it's gaming glory! I will now have some objectives, appropriate Fallschirmjager tokens (instead of panzer ones) and some destroyed tank smoke and flame markers. And best off all, the softcover 3rd edition rules. Awsome!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Laying down the (hobby) law for 2012

I can't let the month of January go without copying my fellow gaming bloggers and posting a New Year planning post. So, after much soul searching I think I have a plan for my hobby this year. In fact, I mean to lay down the law, stick to my guns and complete this whole list (yeah right!).

For 2012 I have several painting and hobby projects to complete:

  • Paint one unit of 2/24th Biritish Line Infantry for the Guns of April Napoleonic project for Adepticon
  • Paint a unit of Gorgon Studios Etruscans for the Little Wars Charity auctio
  • Paint Fallaschirmjager and Panzer additions for my Flames of War forces
  • Build and paint my FOW terrain for home use
  • Paint a Lord of the Rings Harad army for Bilbo's Bash
  • Paint at least one unit of Etruscans for the Gorgon Studios army (I'm setting the bar low)
  • Play LotR and FOW more regularly
  • Play in a FOW tournament
As usual for me, there are so many other "wishlist" items I won't commit to as I KNOW I won't complete it all and it's not a priority at the moment. For the most part, I'd love to finish the rest of my English Civil War Royalists and finish another 1000 points of Gorgon Studios Spartans. But, I guess those will have to wait until I complete the list above. Plus, I need to leave room for the unexpected hobby challenge that is sure to come my way this year (it always does).

Of course, as I work on these projects I'll make sure to post WIP shots as well as complete pictures. PAnd we'll see how well I do by January 1st, 2013.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Greatest Hobby Ever!

Well, 2011 took a turn for the worse for me in November. But, I'm recovering and home for the holidays which I'm very thankful for. During this ordeal my family and I have had lots of generous and thoughtful people to help us out. For me, one group in particular really supported gaming friends in the miniature gaming community. Whether it was visits, cards, care packages or Forum posts (thanks Adeptus Windy City Forums) from LotR SBG friends and others I've met in my gaming years. I'm truly thankful to have gotten to know these people and to be able to call them friends. I can't think of any other hobby where I could call people friends having only met them yearly at a convention or only talk to them on online forums. I'm truly a lucky man to have the opportunity to play games and talk hobby talk with some of the greatest people around.

This all leads to my first post of 2012 which actually recaps an almost perfect end to my 2011. About 6 months ago I was invited to start gaming with some local guys who play Flames of War and Ancients. I only had time to attend a few games but these guys welcomed me in from day one and made me feel part of the group. When I got sick, these guys called, emailed and generally kept checking on me. Having known them for so short a time I was truly amazed at this. Well, I told them I couldn't wait to recover and return to some games with them, not knowing how long that might take. But on New Year's Eve I got that chance by playing some FOW with three of the four members of this group. The location was 5 minutes away and my wife agreed to drive me (I'm taking advantage of that while it lasts!). For me, this was a fantastic moment as it marked my first game since falling ill and I hope it symbolizes where my gaming energies will focus during 2012 (Don't worry LotR SBG fans I still love that game too!).

Enjoy some pictures of our game and thanks again to all of my gaming friends. You truly are the best! Here's to many more games in 2012 and beyond!