Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dust Warfare: First Games & Review

This weekend I had a chance to try out Dust Warfare from Fantasy Flight Games.

Fantasy Flight make a lot of games I love, but this is (I believe) their first try at a true miniatures wargame.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that they had Andy Chambers on the project.  So that's a lot of good breeding stock, so I had high hopes for this game going in.

I picked up some of the minis before -same ones used in Dust Tactics- a Sherman walker, which I converted for my VSF Quar, and late last summer I couldn't resist the newer German 'Heinrich/Herman' Light Walker, which I got 3 of for my Frau Totenkinder Weird WWII force, along with many infantry and the Gorillas for my Belgian Liberation Army.  On quick review, I found these minis a great value for their price.  The walkers I mentioned are my favorites, I seem to be in the minority of liking the Sherman walker (at left in the picture above) better than the Luther German walker (at right in the picture above): the turret is quirky and cool and far more practical than the side arm mounts. My only complaint is that the infantry are soft plastic, so things like long thin gun barrels can bend.  And I'm not crazy about the bases, but they can easily be rebased, which I did.

Despite picking up many of the miniatures I had not played the game until this past weekend.
I had no interest in Dust Tactics, not liking the look of the game tiles, not wanting to play a weird war version of D&D Minis.
So I can not make any comparison between the two game systems.


The game currently has two playable factions: German & American, with the third, Soviets, being released now.  Armies are selected within a points value system, with first choosing a command squad from a list of options, which will determine the type of army you have, which then gives you further options for your squad type choices.  In other words, you have some flexibility for what you can field, but not free rein, your choices are limited: you won't have all vehicles, and some troop types will never see action together.

The game is divided into phases:

First determine initiative by rolling a die for each unit you currently have, so the more you have, the more you will likely be able to activate in the command phase, but the less likely you will go first, since initiative is given to the player who rolls the fewest successes.This has a nice balancing effect.

Once initiative and number of command phase activations are determined, the player with initiative can activate as many units as they had successful rolls for plus one.  These actions are limited to just 1 action per unit activated, and they have to be within 12" of the commander, unless the squad has a hero, or if the command squad has a radio, then 1 activation can be further than 12" away.  Radios are very good to have.

A unit that activates in the command squad gets an activation counter, which means in the orders phase they will only be able to do one action, not two.

Then the 2nd player does their command phase, then on to order phase for the first player.

In the order phase, any unit can act as you wish, they don't need to be within the commander's range.
A unit has 2 actions.  Possible actions are move and combat.  If you double move, you move twice, if you double fire, then any initial shots that miss can be re-rolled.  Unlike a lot of games, there is no distinction between combat by gun or by knife (or other hitting weapon) only the range of the weapon.

All dice in the game are the special Dust dice, where 2 sides of the d6 are success and 4 are miss.
Some characters or effects change the chance of success by causing the success to be reversed: miss is good instead of hit.

The Clever Bits:

Since a unit can only have 2 actions, it becomes advantageous for you to waste your opponent's actions. The easiest way to do this is to suppress them.  If a unit is hit (even if no wound is taken) it gets a suppression token. A unit can only put one suppression token on an enemy unit no matter how many hits they inflict, but a second unit can place a 2nd, third unit another, etc.  Before a unit activates they roll a die for each suppression token they have, it takes a hit to clear it, so only a 1/3 chance to do so.  If they have any suppression on them they lose 1 action, only leaving them with one remaining action, and if they acted in the command phase, then that activation token uses up an action as well, so they'd sit and do nothing if they don't clear their suppression.  Too much suppression will cause an automatic route. At the end of the turn, all units remove activation tokens and 1 suppression.

Another clever bit is the scenario generator. Before the game each player rolls dice for their units, adding up their hits. This gives points for modifying the game set up.  There are several themes such as deployment, objectives, and conditions. If you don't like the default, you can add a point in to change it, the opponent could leave it there or add a point to change it to the next in line, and this continues until all points are spent.

On to Our Games:

In our first game I played Germans, while my friend played Americans.  We used the painted minis I had when possible, otherwise we used the fresh new minis he'd just bought for our trying out the game.
We used 150 pt forces, possibly not in legal builds, since we took the 300 pt armies he'd written up and divided it in half as even as possible, since we decided 300 was too large for a test game. I had a command squad, a grenadier squad, a small squad of 3 heavy lasers, a sniper team and a medium & light walker.  The Americans had a command squad with flamers, an infantry squad, sniper, jump pack troops with rocket firsts and a medium walker. The game was for straight up damage.
His sniper got the best of mine.  and he also managed to take out my light walker. I did take out his infantry squad.

One thing I found interesting is that armor saves are based on the squad, not the individual.  A typical infantry squad has an armor value of 2. This means they can roll 2 dice when the unit is hit, and any success on the dice prevent a wound.  So if the squad of 5 are hit by 5 shots, at most their armor will save 2 of them, and only if they are very lucky. In a lot of games, like 40k, a single infantryman can make an armor save against every shot that hits him, but not so here.  Your luck has a predetermined limit.  This makes cover very important.  Light cover will let you ignore one hit, and heavy cover two hits.  Note you will still take suppression.  You can also 'hit the dirt' to add one to your cover, but only to a max of hard cover, so it's no help doing it in hard cover.  Hitting the dirt will also add an action token and its own suppression token, so if you haven't already activated that turn, the chances that you will are pretty slim.

I kept trying to crack the Medium Walker, but with armor 4 and in Light Cover, it didn't happen.

The real star of the game was the unit of American jump pack troops.  These were amazing.  I had no answer for them. They move 12" and have a close combat range of 3", so if they have two actions available, they can fly from 15" away and do combat.  They hit on misses instead of hits (so 2/3 of the time) have a lot of dice, and since they are armor 3, even machine guns get only 1 die against them, no better than a rifle.

Game 2.

A couple days later, after digesting the rules, giving them a good think we tried the game again, this time with around 175 pts and trying to make the armies more balanced.  We felt the Rocket pack troops were too good against the German list, so we added Gorillas for the Germans, replaced the heavy laser troops with standard laser troops and the hero Lara (only to later realize that wasn't legal) and the Americans added the hero of the rocket troops and the rocket troops with machine guns (which we soon discovered was a balance mistake).

Unfortunately I had forgot my Gorillas, they are packed with the Belgian army, and I substituted 3 of my big fairy tale manifestations from the Frau Totenkinder army to sub in for gorillas:

The snipers did a sniper duel, which mine lost.
The enemy walkers exchanged shots, and the American got 6 hits out of 6 dice!  The light cover I had took 1, I made 1 save on my 4 dice (for armor 4), leaving 4 wounds left and the vehicle was destroyed. A very lucky shot for the yank.  

I soon discovered my panzer grenadiers were not scratching the walker, and the rocket machine gunners took them out. The 3 gorillas were facing 6 rocket troops with a hero.

No, this wasn't going to work.  It was a fast game.

We tried it again, this time switching sides.  I was now convinced the American rocket troops are over powered.  Unless truly balanced with something equally powerful, so we added Gorilla's hero who gives them the charge ability -can attack after move without needing an action- and comes with 6 wounds for himself -where the american hero has 4.  I played the two American rocket squads at either end of my deployment, so they couldn't help each other against the gorillas.  My friend said he'd seen on forums that there is a lot of talk that the gorillas and zombies are too powerful, but hadn't noticed anything about the rocket troops.  While it is true that gorillas might be easier to use since they can charge, not needing 2 actions to move and attack, and can never be suppressed- so they are easier to use than rocket troops, rocket troops can move further and some have machine guns, letting them do damage from afar, and they hit on misses, so twice as often as gorillas. I don't see it: rocket troops just seem better.
The gorillas charged me and on a slightly less than average roll I put a couple wounds on my hero.
In return the rocket troops soon slaughtered the gorillas.

So I'm stumped.  Most range in this game is 16". The rockets can avoid most threats, can repossition, and hit hard when able.  Armor 3 is amazing, and if they land in or behind cover they should survive the few dice enemy units can throw at them.  The obvious equal counters to them don't seem to be very effective.
I think these troops must be very under-costed.

It will take more game play to know if the big weird stuff (rocket troops, gorillas and zombies) are too powerful compared to basic troops.  They don't cost much more than regular units.  It is possible to get platoons of nearly all gorillas, zombies & rocket troops. If they are as good as they appear to be I fear that games would succumb to an arms race where it's just these troop types for the most part. I hope that isn't the case. At worst though, it seems like a great and balanced game if not using these troop types. I think it would be a very fun game with armor 2 infantry and light & medium walkers.

I saw some other games of this being played over the weekend, including some of the heavy 6 legged walkers.  I don't think I'm a big fan of those- I don't care for how they look and I think they are just too big: their footprint is massive, reminding me too much of super heavy tanks and titans in 40k: fine for a really big battlefield game, but looking too big for a 4x6 table. But that's just a personal reaction.

I will look forward to trying the game out more in the future.  At this point I can't say for sure if the armor 3 infantry are too powerful, but I can say I have some concerns.  If it is unbalanced then this wouldn't be a game I'd play for tournaments or random pick up games, but if it turns out the forces are not unbalanced and not requiring one to compete in an arms race or not have a chance in battle, then I'd be happy to.  If such imbalance exists then it is still a great game that can have those elements balanced or limited or removed by a group of like-minded gamers. I think the mechanics are very solid and the game is enjoyable.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Game Convention: Just the Pretty Pictures

Here is the first report from Kubla Con this past weekend, in the SF Bay Area, California.
This will be just the pretty pictures.  Later I'll report on games played and such.

One of the coolest things about a game convention is the impressive terrain and games you'll see: some people really put a lot of effort into it, which is great for the hobby since it tend to inspires others to have a go at pushing their own hobby or at least collecting and playing more.

So here are some of the fun things I saw.

Click for larger: 

For scale, those are two 28mm minis on the overlook deck.  This was a stunning Civil War scene.

I'd have been happy to dive into that water.

Another epic battle about to commence:
Isa so donna wanna count all dem minis. 
Terrain is nothing to speak of, but impressive nonetheless.

There were many games of both WWI & WWII areal combat. Always thought this looks cool.

Full terrain version from Fantasy Flight for their board game Shadows Over Camelot

Skrapwelder's completed multi-player game for Empire of the Dead which we'd play tested last week.
Everything is all painted now. He must have squeezed in 3 weeks of work in one on this.
Apparently the tradition of red double decker buses goes back further than I knew. 
Skrapwelder got better pictures, when he gets them to me I'll be giving them effects treatment & post them.
Dr.Mini-pusher I presume? 

A couple Ancients armies face off. I always love seeing nice ancient armies.  I really do want to make one.
Someday I will. I have a ton of British Celts in the bitz closet. 
I wonder what rule set will come to take the crown from the fallen WAB, 
or if it will become like Blood Bowl and continue on even stronger.

A couple shots from the Flames of War tournament.  
A lot of nice tables, but I didn't want to push too far through while the tournament games were in play.
This is another game that always tempted me, but it is daunting: what period to build & what theater?
With my luck I'd build something I really enjoy like British in North Africa, early war, and find everyone is playing Late War Normandy. Don't really want 2 or 3 armies just to start in. Love to look though.

I did see that there was a Warmachine & Hordes tournament on both Sat & Sunday, but I took no pictures. 
Why? Because they were playing directly on the hotel white tablecloths and a lot of the armies were partially painted or not painted at all. Very disappointing.  For a game that has been around longer than Flames of War that group really could commit more to aesthetics. If I had signed up for a tournament and saw games set up on white tablecloths with minimal terrain I think I'd have dropped out and done something else. I guess it is fine for some, but it would be a big drain on the potential enjoyment for me. Compare that to the picture above, that makes me want to play that game. 

A bit blurry, but on Saturday night, some ran a maze with an Alien theme for the kids:
You can just make out the Brood-Dude. Sorry for the blur, was best I could get with the crowd.

There will be more to come: 
* The Zombiesmith booth with new Quar & 'War of Ashes' previews & Quar gaming.
* Blood Bowl
* Dust Warfare games & review

Almost forgot, Kubla Con got invaded by young Mongol Warriors! 
Nice to know there will be another generation of gamers!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hint of the New War Rocket Faction pt.II

A couple interesting guesses, see if this part helps:

Does that help? Couple more parts to reveal still... 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Hint of the New War Rocket Faction pt.I

Following up from the last post of the Pirate Class III & IV War Rocket ships, I can show you the rocket for the upcoming new faction, but I thought I'd have some fun with it.

Here is a portion of the ship.  I'll give you a hint that it is a Class I rocket, more than that, see what you can determine. I'll show more soon.  Here is the first glimpse:

So what do you think? 

Got back from the long weekend of Kubla Con, so will have a lot to report soon, on a Blood Bowl tournament, my first few games of and a review of Dust Warfare, the latest news for Quar and Zombiesmith's new endeavor, Shieldwall (Think vikings meet muppets), some Empire of the Dead, and likely some blithering on about some general issues of game design I've been thinking about.

More to come. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Space Pirate Surprise!

Yesterday I promised a surprise.

Unfortunately, I didn't have any time to work on it, but a promise is a promise, so I'll show them anyway!

At the end of January I entered a Space Pirate Class II ship, for my idea of the 'Void Hawks' for the contest from Hydra Miniatures.  It earned me 2nd place, prize being a Class III & IV when they were sculpted and cast. It arrived in the mail yesterday!

I have to say these ships were well worth the wait, they are sleek and sexy.

I have the set of 9 Class I and 3 Class II, so with these, it puts them at the same fleet size as my Imperial & Zenithian fleets that I have painted (though I did end up getting an extra Class II Imperial & Class III Z)

So eventually I will do the same type of 'build it & review' for the Pirates as I did for the Imperial and Zenithian fleets.
Though I didn't have time today to do it, with work and getting ready for the vacation weekend, I didn't want to leave you hanging without making good on my promise of a surprise, so here are the pictures of the ships before assembly:

The Class III :

The Class IV:
Like a lot of the fleets, the number of wings is equal to it's class. this one has a dorsal & ventral tail fin. Cool.

Not sure when they'll be released, but hopefully you won't have to wait long!

I also got something else, completely unexpected and very fun, but I want to ask them if they mind it being shown yet.  If he says it is ok, I'll post it up soon, if not, well I'll keep his secret,but I will say it is quite cool!

The pirates always make me think of Gary Numan, as I've mentioned, and I wanted to find the piano version  (for something different) of I nearly married a human (it's a great piece) but seems there is no youtube video of it, I have it on CD but that won't help much, but this is a nice piano version of Down in the Park,


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Genestealer Cult: Fleet of Company Cars & 1st Hordes Night

Last of the vehicles for the Genestealer Cult: army transports.

I'll try to get an army shot, but might be awhile- going out of town for the holiday weekend.

I still haven't heard back from the client, but he's thinking about more vehicles.. several more of these, a couple manticore missile launcher battery tanks, a big colossus bombard tank and a few fliers that have some very fun conversion ideas... but we'll see.

Here are the chimera transports:
(Click for larger)

In other game news, I did manage to get to the first night of the Warmachine/Hordes journeyman league.

Looks like there will be a dozen or more players.  I had a test game to run through the basics of the rules.
I used Skorne for this and played against Khador. Khador is as tough as I remember from long ago.  I did manage to turn the Juggernaut into a pile of scrap metal, but I should have popped my feat that turn.Since I didn't it allowed Sorcha to sneak in and take Morghul down.

Seems that 2 people were going to play Circle, and 2 were going to play Skorne, not making my choice any easier ;) The group is not sticking to the 'official rules' of the event, which means I'd be fine to use non-PP minis for counts-as for the selections I'd want when it goes to 15pt armies. But since I did have fun with the Skorne, and reasoned that after getting the hang of the game, if I want to try something different, then I'd like to play my Baldar force I made, which has almost no PP minis actually, and all the Wold rock creatures are self sculpted, and this force would let me play a different faction, where if I started with circle now, and wanted a different faction after this league, I'd have missed out on the rocks, so I committed to Skorne.

I got 3 official games in. No pictures, since they were fast, i was busy learning, and my minis don't have a lick of paint yet.

Game 1: vrs. Circle. 
Highlights: There was a forest in the center. he ran everyone up and into the forest. I moved up and to the right, to circle around it a bit and prepare for a charge the next turn. he then charged out with the warpwolf and killed a cylopse with ease! Yikes! they move fast! But I thought 'that is ok, he's going down next turn'.. but not so fast, Kaya just casts a spell and 'poof' back to her side he goes: boomerang wolf.  I had admonition (move when someone moves within 6" of you) on the titan, but that didn't help the cyclopse! I immediately started doubting my choice- that was seriously impressive! So in my turn I had the titan put rush on the other cyclopse (+2" move & go through difficult terrain), then Morhul abused him (that sounds bad) which gives him +2 strength and speed. He then charged Kaya! 10 inch move, 3 for the charge, 2 inch reach with the big sword, and that's one very fast cyclopse! caught her by surprise, and then cut her down. A Win.

Game 2: vrs Skorne.
Mirror match of course.  I let him go first, the two forces danced for position, I charged both his cylopses with mine, and got some serious bad dice. for damage, a 3 on 2 dice and a 5 on 3 dice. haha, oh well. Next turn my clopses were dead.  I did get one of his, and Morghul almost killed the other-but it was left with 1 box of health left. I tried to get the false Morghul with his damage spell, but it didn't do much and that was that. A Loss.

Game 3: vrs Retribution.
I painted a Retribution force recently, but since they're pretty new I don't know a lot about them.
I tried the abused rushed cyclopse again on the light jack with a shield, oh so close! Half inch out of range, dang! The look on his face was fun, like 'Oh crap, they can be that fast?" Unfortunately, they needtobe just a touch faster. He attacked it with the light jack, scratched it a bit, then charged in with the heavy, a double handed attack, of strength 23 (that is a big crazy ton of hurt) and drove the cyclopse the ground like a tent peg. The caster stole fury from the other cyclopse and shot him- some damage, pretty impressive ability.

So I charged the heavy with the titan, but wouldn't you know it, the light jack bases blocked him by just a bit, enough he couldn't get through and in range of the heavy - I forgot to check if the attack can then go on one of the other models that he was touching. I don't know if it could or not, but I didn't roll an attack.  Since it whiffed, I popped the feat, so my guys would survive.  With the feat up (enemy can't use focus or fury basically) he tried to guess the range and put his caster with a gun in the sweet spot where he could still get range on my caster but just out so he could use focus, but didn't - so no boost, the one shot didn't do much. Next turn my titan had room to get to the heavy and destroyed it. I moved to protect Morghul, next turn I cast rush on the titan, abused him, so he could get over the wrecked machine and charge the elf- I was afraid if I slammed her they'd leave M's range, so I just charged, and failed to hit. I only landed one hit on her, and unboosted only did 4 damage to her.  Not good.  In his turn he wanted to shoot Morghul, so he left combat, I needed an 8 on 2 dice to hit her, got a 10, needed a 14 or 15 on 3 dice to kill her and rolled a 17!
Funny that the big charge did nothing, but the annoyed slap when she leaves killed her. A win.

Not a bad first night.
This might not be a common reaction, but the game reminds me a lot of Euro board games.  Not in the aspect of it being a wargame of course, where Euro games tend to be free of violence (though loaded with Machiavellian manipulation and economic oppression) but the way it uses different abilities, effects, and activation orders has a lot of similarities to Euro Games.

For 15 pts I'll be adding a unit of beasthandlers and a void spirit solo comprised of desert sand..
mostly because I like the look of it ;)


If you read this far,  with no pictures for reward, thank you! ;) And as a reward I'll give you a hint.. I have something very very fun to show you! Hopefully I'll get pictures of these few unrelated to anything in this post something-funs and post it up tomorrow!

Stay Tuned

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Q-Troop: Quar Defend the Wild West

Last week the Legends of the Old West league saw another sunrise.
In the last league (you can find the reports under the Legends of the Old West tag, I ran Bandidos.
Since it's just the second time I've played the game I wanted to try something different.  The problem is, I didn't have the time to paint up a new posse, and it's always more fun playing with minis you own rather than borrowing some, so making a mental run down of my collection I thought about my Quar Royalists I used in last summer's VSF campaign, for the Quar of Phobos.  Their uniforms are blue... they have long rifles and bayonets... looks like US Infantry to me! Just with rather long noses...

And so, Q-Troop have come to the Old West, to protect the innocent, right wrongs, and.. well, that's for the pulp writers to fabricate later. On to the games...

I used the US Infantry list.  I'd considered using my cavalry and running US Cavalry, but the Gatling Gun tempted me, so infantry it is.  Here is my troop:
Not many to start, the weapons are very expensive.  I took the max characters: a Lt. & 2 Srgts.
The Lt. has a saber & heavy pistol, one Sergeant has a heavy pistol, the other a rifle.  I have a trooper and recruit manning the Gatling Gun ($10 cheaper if you start with it, so I squeezed it in) and two troopers, one with a rifle, one who lost his somewhere along the way, guess he'll be peeling potatoes!

The first game of the night would be against US Cavalry! Guess I wasn't the only one looking for something different! He got a surprising number by taking only recruits after his 3 characters and everyone had pistols.
I expected to outnumber them, but they had 6 to my 7.. not much of a numerical advantage!

Game 1: Take that Hill!

We had a few tables set up, so rolled to find ours randomly, it would either be the open woodland or the crowded town (I was hoping for the town!) we got the woods.
Knowing he had the movement and charge advantage, and that a lot of those trees would mess up my line of firing with the Gatling Gun I set my Gat to have the best field of vision I could find and divided my troop, part to defend the gun and the Sgt with rifle and a trooper to run to the hill on my right, to take cover and try to get some shots at the vulnerable cavalry.

The cavalry crest the hill... steady that gun boys! 

My advancers scout up the hill and prepare to fire.

The foolish recruits head into the Gatling Gun, two are brought down while the riflers on the hill get another.
At one point, he stayed out of range and moved his officers to the side, and I moved the gun up, since I didn't have priority, to threaten them. 

Seeing the repositioned Gatling gun, the officers and a recruit charged up the hill, but my troopers bravely held and even won combat against the cavalry Lt., pushing him back.  The rest of Q-Troop then head up the hill to surround them. At the bottom of the hill riderless horses mill about, grazing. 

The cav then belted out a retreat and galloped away.  

He had no lasting damage and I hadn't lost anyone.  I got enough cash to buy another rifle, some bayonets as well as another trooper with rifle.  My Lt. got another wound (3 makes for good survival) and my Gatling Gunner went up in shoot skill! Ideal! 

Game 2: Stop those Bank Robbers!

As the soldiers of Q-Troop went back to town, as they met the new trooper, checking his transfer papers and supplies he'd brought, a call went out from the bank, it was being robbed! 
Luckily, the Gatling Gun was placed and being guarded just outside of town and most of the troop were in position to try to head off the robbers. But the Robbers had the jump on them, and were using civilians to guard their escape.
The Robbers kept getting priority, so those innocent folks were not getting away. 

A few robbers tried to rush the troops with the Gatling gun, in case those civilians wriggled free, he wanted that gun occupied.  But the gunner leveled his sights and the recruit cranked it wildly! after 16 hits, those robbers looked like so much spilled camp fire beans on the ground.

The robbers had to drop their loot to ensure their escape as the brave soldiers took out a couple more of their numbers.  One of my sergeants was injured but recovered just fine. We were rewarded by the town with enough cash to telegraph for another trooper recruit.  The Gatling Gun loader got an improvement to his shooting skill, so should the gunner ever be hurt, he can take over respectfully enough.  The wounded Sgt has a higher fight value now, the other Srgt, with the rifle has the rifleman skill (reroll misses with a rifle) and one trooper got grittier while the other got an additional wound: both good for survival. The Bank Robbers however won't be forgetting this, they now Hate my troop, so might stand their ground longer in the future.
But for now, the town is safe and peaceful again.

The other table, that I didn't play on: 
The farmstead is attacked by Outlaws! 
Local Cowboys try to come to the rescue, but too late to save the elderly couple, who are gunned down in the back. That's one nasty outlaw gang!  But I'm sure Q-Troop will track them down before too long!
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