Wednesday, August 13, 2008

AT-43 Dispatch #3:featuring Incoming!!!, the Battle Report, and Reviewing the Troops

Hey everyone and welcome to issue #3 of the AT-43 Dispatch!

In this issue, there is a small Incoming!!! update, we will take a look at the first scenario in the new league as seen in our first of two Battle Reports, and we will take a closer look at the Karman Yetis in Review the Troops, a new segment that looks at both the miniature and how the unit plays in the game. So without further ado, let's head right for the front lines!

Incoming!!!: A Quick Update on the New Releases for August

While I was an the Shop this weekend, John told me that he expects to receive the new releases this Wednesday, as in today! Operation: Frostbite, the Baal, the K-shooters, all of it! So if you haven't ordered your copy yet, click on the link for the Little Shop of Magic located to the right, place your order now, and don't forget to tell him that the Snowman sent you!

Battle Report 11082007: League Play featuring the Therians vs. the Karmans

Sunday was a special day for gaming here in Sin City. Not only was I able to get out and play the first scenario in the new AT-43 League, I was able to play it twice! This week we'll be looking at the first of these two battles with the second one coming out in the next issue of the Dispatch.

For those of you who might have missed it, the first scenario in the intro league is called "Break On Through" and takes place on a board remarkably similar to this...

The background for the scenario is the attacker has managed to secure a vital piece of information and needs to escape off the far side of the board, while the defender is simply trying to stop this from happening. This sounds all well and good but there are a few things that don't really fit with this scenario.

For some reason, all of the defender's troops start the game on the board while the attacker is forced to keep a quarter of his force as reinforcements. This seems especially odd since when those reinforcements are deployed it is right behind line of low walls in the center of the board. Still, this was the mission and no one ever said that every mission had to make sense so John and I rolled off to decide who would be the attacker and the defender. Winning this roll, I decided to try being the defender (the idea of running past a bunker full of troops plus everything else to try to escape the board didn't really appeal to me...).

On my side of the board, I was fielding Babylon Zero, a second Incubus, a unit of Assault golems with a flamer (who were located inside the bunker), a unit of Bane Goliaths and a unit of Assault Goliaths. On John's side there was a King Buggy (proxied in this game for Jindo Un since he forgot to grab his King...), a unit of three Easy Trikes, a full unit of Wendigos with grenade launchers, and a unit of Anakongas that were kept as reinforcements. We deployed our troops on the board and got ready for turn one.

Since I was once again facing Nova (you kind of expect it when you field the Therians...) I was able to decide who would activate first and naturally choose myself. My first order of business was to get those Assault Golems out of that bunker!

There were other units with much better range that I wanted to be in that little stronghold.

John activated his Wendigos next, moving them forward and having them take cover and go onto overwatch as they started the mad dash across the table.


My Banes went next, moving forward into the now empty bunker so that I could get some serious firepower in there!

Unfortunately only one of them was able to make it all the way in but I still put the unit onto overwatch just in case.

The Easy Trikes went next, moving forward to fire on Babylon Zero.

My lone Bane managed to get off his overwatch shot and inflict a point of damage to the frame of one of the Trikes before they returned fire, inflicting one point on Babylon's frame and damaging a cannon in the process.

Babylon Zero went next as I moved her up behind the walls next to the bunker to get some cover. A logical thought until you realize that those walls are a quarter of her size and won't do anything to protect her. D'oh! I tried to repair but John quickly and thankfully canceled the routine. Why thankfully? When my Banes had gone onto overwatch, we had played the famous "Nova LP Game", draining off a few of my points before I was able to activate my combat drill. This had also tapped a chunk of John's LPs and once he cancelled my repair I was able to run Creation unopposed. I love making Hekats...

After doing this, I opened fire on the center Trike (which was the unit leader)and managed to do two points to the frame along with destroying one of the jammers and damaging the engines as well Definitely not a bad round of firing!

The King Buggy went next, moving up behind the Trikes and opening fire on Babylon Zero.

The shots ripped into the Golgoth and blew in apart, leaving Nina suddenly out in the open.

My Incubus activated next, moving behind the other troops before opening fire on the Trikes.

Spreading the shots across the unit, I was able to take out the engines of the undamaged Trike on the left, while the leader lost his other jammer in the barrage leaving him weaponless!

With the Karmans done I activated my last two units, moving the Assault Goliaths forward to try to get into a better position to shot while the Assault Golems just moved out of the way. This brought the first turn to a close with neither side scoring any victory points.

Opting to go first again, I had Nina Zero take command of the Banes and moved the whole unit into the safety of the bunker.

From this position, they opened fire on the Easy Trikes, destroying the leader and seriously damaging the frame of both of the remaining Trikes.

John activated his Trikes next, abandoning the immobile one while the other sped behind a container to get into cover.

I attempted to dash my Hekat forward but with the routine canceled I could only run forward instead.

This left it right out in the middle of the fire corridor but there wasn't really any other option for it as I wanted to engage those Wendigos soon.

Activating the King Buggy next, John moved it forward so that he could hit the Hekat with the flamers and the Incubus with the ZZ-cannons.

The Hekat survived the attack unscathed and the Incubus only took one point of damage to the frame. I was lucky this time but I had to get that Buggy before it could do some serious damage.

I activated the Incubus next, moving forward to open fire on the Buggy at point blank and managed to destroy the engines and damage the frame.


To finish out his round, John activated his Wendigos and moved the forward to try to get into cover behind one of the containers as they continued their run for the opposite edge.

My Assault Goliaths went next, moving forward to the wall before opening fire on the King Buggy.

The sonic guns were totally ineffective but the nucleus guns actually managed to do two more points to the frame! One more and it would be out of commission.

My Assault Golems activated last, moving up behind the bunker in case I needed them. With turn two coming to a close, neither of us had managed to score any VPs.

For turn three, I decided to let John go first to see what he would do. I had been hoping that he would move the last Easy Trike forward so that I could be a shot on it but instead he moved the Wendigos deeper into cover behind the container.

The Banes went next, opening fire and destroying the King Buggy in a massive salvo.

The Buggy had been next in the sequence and John decided to miss the activation so my Hekat went next.

Running forward it charged into the Wendigos, failing to trample any of them but then killing two of them in close combat.

The Easy Trike went next and fired on the Hekat before moving on toward the far edge. As the jammers blasted the Hekat, they managed to destroy one of the grim scythes and damage the frame but even damaged it was still very much a threat.

My Incubus was next and moved forward to open fire on the Wendigos.

I managed to kill two of them and somehow actually failed to damage the Hekat.

With the Karmans done activating, I moved my remaining troops closer to the action and the third turn came to a close with the Therians up 2 VPs to 0 VPs.

For the fourth and final turn, my Incubus moved forward and destroyed the Easy Trike. With only the three Wendigos left, we decided to call it a game at this point, giving the Therians the win at 5 VPs to 0 VPs.

Talking about the game afterward, we all came to the conclusion that this scenario really favors the defender. Not only does it give them a strong position on the board, they also start with their full force right from the start while the attacker is forced to wait until at least turn 3 before bringing on his reinforcements and this is assuming that the reinforcements are cheap! Even so, it was an interesting game but we are all curious to see what else FFG and Rackham are going to be throwing out there for the rest of the league.

So what about the other battle? Sorry, you'll just have to come back to find out what happened in that one but I will give you something to think about.

Just what could this mean? Find out next week...

Reviewing the Troops: Taking A Closer Look at... the Yeti

The Yeti miniature is one that inspires a love/hate relationship. Some people love the retro styling of it but others wonder why the monkey is wearing a fish bowl on its head. Indeed, I can see how it would be easy to discount a miniature in the game just based on its appearance. In my own case, I one time swore that I would never ever buy a Hekat because it looks like... well, lets just say something rather unflattering and leave it at that. Then I heard people singing their praises on the forum and decided to bite the bullet and get one, and since then I have never looked back. I still wonder at just why it looks that particular way but considering how effective it is I am more than willing to see beyond the ugly duckling facade. Could the Yeti be the same way? Let's take a closer look and find out...

At first glance, they seem like a slightly weaker Wendigo with a jetpack. Their range and penetration are both one less than the Wendigos but their cost is high even for an already pricey Karman unit. One of the key differences is the re-roll on the Jungle rifles. This means that for a full unit they will be rolling twenty four dice with a re-roll, would should more than make up for the lower accuracy and penetration.

Beyond this there are several other factors that you have to consider as well. Unlike the Wendigos, the Yeti actually does have a close combat weapon and a pretty powerful one at that especially when you combine it with their jetpacks. Their special weapons are not something that should be overlooked either. The flamers give them the ability drop a couple of templates within 25cm and the rocket launchers pack a very nasty punch as they each roll three dice per shot with a respectable penetration and a whopping two points of damage. This means that against an armor 14 strider they could be rolling 5+ to damage on six dice so with a little bit of luck you might even be able to destroy it in one salvo! The downside to this is that you need to get close to be able to make use of them but with the jetpacks it is that much easier to do.

So what is the best way to make use of them in the game? Take advantage of the mobility of the jetpacks to set yourself up in a good position, hit your opponent with the massed fire from the jungle rifles, then jump into close combat to finish off any survivors with those nasty power grips. I know that I make it sound easy but with a little practice I think that the Yetis can more than make up for the odd little fish bowl on their head.

Well, that's all for this week, but be sure to come back next week for the second Battle Report and perhaps we will even start taking a closer look at some of the new goodness that Operation: Frostbite contains. So until next time, may all of your dice come up Dragons!

Monday, August 4, 2008

AT-43 Dispatch #2: featuring Incoming!!!, Intelligence Report, and the Unit Review: Storm Golems vs Assault Golems

Hey everyone,

Welcome to the second installment of the AT-43 Dispatch! In this issue, we will take a look at the new releases that will be hitting the shelves this month, we'll take another look at the Cog preview picture from earlier in the week complete with a little wild speculation, and I have a new Unit Review, this time focusing on the age old debate of which is better, the Storm Golem or the Assault Golem. As an added bonus, I have a little bit of information about the new AT-43 introductory league which starts on Monday and I look at the question of just what is an introductory league anyway? So without further ado, let's get on with the show!

Incoming!!!
A Quick Look at the August Releases

August is going to be a big month for AT-43 with several new releases, including the new Operation: Frostbite boxed set!

Included in this set you will find three civil engineers, two crystal terrain pieces, new map tiles, and of course a rulebook which will cover a bunch of new rules for the game; new units for all of the factions to terrain rules and everything in between. It sounds like a definite a must-buy for anyone who is a fan of the game and you can expect a more detailed look at just what is in it soon!

On the miniatures front there are also several new releases that look really good as well.

The Karmans will be getting two new additions to their army; the last of their infantry units, the K-Shooters, and a new hero complete with a Thunder Buggy, Guru Lucius.

The K-Shooters come equipped with a massive ZZ-gun on their back which normally just a potent anti-vehicle weapon, but in this form is even more dangerous. With the potential to rip infantry units apart quickly as well, this will be a very deadly addition to their arsenal especially since the unit has the “Concentrate fire!” ability which lets the player re-roll all of the failed damaged tests. A re-roll to hit and damage? You gotta be bananas not to want one of these! (And the monkey jokes just keep on coming…)

Guru Lucius is a bit more of a mystery since information on him will be coming out in Frostbite but based on the images of him, he should be pretty nasty as well.

The Thunder Buggy combines the best of both worlds; the drum guns on front mow down the enemy infantry before the Buggy spins around to rip apart enemy vehicles with the twin ZZ-cannons. As for the Guru himself, he looks like he can be attached to an Anakonga unit and comes with not one but two drum guns! Like the Anakongas didn’t already roll enough dice when they shoot…

Next is Lieutenant G. Epstone for the UNA.

The really interesting thing about her is that she appears to be equipped with a Death Dealer TacArm. Originally the Death Dealers could only be used in their own platoon pattern so maybe this means that will be changing with Frostbite. Mounting two volcano machine guns each, the Death Dealers are the bane of infantry units as they let loose their torrent of lead and with hero attached they will become that much more deadly!

And of course I save the best for last (Yes, I play Therians…) That’s right, I am talking about the mightly Baal Golgoth, first of the type 3 striders.

Mounting a heavy flamer and a heavy particle accelerator, this strider can inflict some serious damage but perhaps the best thing about it is the ability to reduce the cost of a routine used by the Overseer on board by 1 LP to a minimum of zero! Combine this with the Web Striders advantage and you are looking at the Baal being able to repair for free. And people thought that Urod was bad...

So when does all this goodness hit the shelves? The word from my FLGS, the Little Shop of Magic (you can find the link to his online store on the right side of the page...), is that they will be arriving within the next two weeks and he is already taking pre-orders as well so if you don't have a FLGS that carries AT-43, just hit the link and John will be happy to hook you up!

But before you hit the link there is something that I need to warn you about. When you try to checkout of the online store, a warning comes up that there is a problem with the security certificate. I have talked to John about this and the site is safe, there was just a spelling error on the certificate that triggers the warning (I believe that he told me it says "littleshopofmagic.com" instead of "shopofmagic.com"). So now that we have that cleared up, be sure to hit the link and get your pre-orders in right now! We now return to your regularly scheduled Dispatch...

Intelligence Report
aka Wild Speculation

Earlier this week, Rackham released a picture giving us an idea just how large the Cogs are compared to a UNA Steel Trooper. I had posted this before but in case you forgot lets take another look at it.

Seeing just how big these critters are gives us a pretty good idea why the Karmans were used to fight them, don't you think? Mounted on the larger infantry bases, Cogs look like they will be a little taller than a Karman making them the largest race in the game so far. I also think that their size might give us some clues into just what to expect from them as far as unit sizes. Assuming that they follow the same unit coherency rules, they would only be able to fit so many troops within 10cm of the leader due to the larger bases so I expect that they will probably run up to a maximum of eight troopers in a regular unit.

The type 3 troops will be a different story but I am inclined to think that they might follow the Karman lead and just put two into a unit for the Cogs as well. That said, I can see how they might push it as high as three but more than that just seems like it would be too unbalanced.

Of course only time will tell just how far off base I am, but if you have any thoughts of your own about it be sure to post a comment!

Unit Review
Storm Golems vs. Assault Golems

It has been a while since I have done a unit review so I decided that it is time to fix that! I was recently asked by a new player which units he should look at getting first for a Therian army. For most of the units, it was pretty cut a dried but the two that really stumped me are the Storm and Assault Golems. They both have some definite pros and cons so lets take a look at the both, starting with the Storm Golems.

Storm Golems were the first Therian infantry unit introduced in AT-43. Equipped with nanoblasters, sonic guns, and reaper blades, they were supposed to be one of the first lines of defense against the invading Avans and I suspect that they are probably the most common Therian mini out there today. Heck, all you have to do is pick up the Operation: Damocles boxed set and you get eight of them!

Taking a closer look, they are faster and tougher than most of the Avan units. In addition, they are equipped with both a decent short to medium ranged weapon and a powerful close combat weapon. This makes them very versatile on the battlefield, wearing down their opponents with ranged fire before charging in to finish the job. They carry sonic guns or the optional flamers for their special weapons, making their punch against infantry units that much deadlier as long as you can get close enough to be effective. Against armored units it tends to be a different story as they simply don't have the penetration to effectively deal with most of the vehicles that you could run into.

By comparison, the Assault golems are probably slightly less common on the gaming table but they do have some nice advantages. Their standard ranged weapon is the nucleus rifle which has double the accuracy of the Storm Golem nanoblaster and one better penetration as well which is always nice. On the down side the nucleus rifle doesn't have a re-roll on its shooting test so the improved accuracy definitely comes in handy. For special weapons they can field either flamers or nucleus guns. I don't use flamers very often but when I do I am certainly not going to put them in an Assault Golem unit. The Assault Golems already cost a little more that Storm Golems and with the improved range most of the unit has it just doesn't make sense to me to give them a short range special weapon. The nucleus gun is also a great anti-tank weapon with a very good accuracy and a re-roll plus the penetration is extremely good, making it impossible for me to pass on them in favor of the flamers.

So the question still stands; which one is better? Personally I tend to favor the Assault Golems because I like having the extra range but I also tend to face a lot of walkers so having the extra punch of the nucleus guns is almost a must for me. Even so, the Storm Golems do have their own merits and if the conditions favor them (if I were facing a large number of infantry for example...) I would not hesitate to bring them out instead.

Does this answer seem a little vague to you? Well it should because I think that these are both very solid infantry units. Each of them has their own specialty but they are too useful not to at least have one unit of each of them available in case you need it. After all, even if you don't need them both now you might in the future.

Dispatch News
Just What is an Introductory League Anyway?

This Monday marks the beginning of the new league for AT-43. The scenario will be winging its way over the internet to the LGS's that have signed up and people will be throwing down their miniatures fight it out but the real league doesn't start until next month. Huh? Seems kind of odd but I think that I can see why FFG and Rackham are handling it this way.

AT-43 has never really had a solid league going for it. Sure, there was the whole Operation: Damocles campaign but that had a very erratic time table and didn't have much support from Rackham besides saying which side was winning or losing. It seems like the new league will be something more than this since I have heard that there are supposed to be official league kits that will go along with it.

That still leaves the question; why run an introductory league? My own guess is that they want to try test things out first to make sure that they are running right as far as the online portion of the thing, which is a really good idea in my opinion. It makes a lot more sense to work out the bugs first then hit the official league instead of jumping right into the league only to have it fall apart. So all in all, I think that this is a good way for them to start out and I can't wait to get in there and mix it up! But more on that in the next battle report... : )

And with that it is time to bring another Dispatch to a close but be sure to come back next week for a new battle report and I'll also be taking a closer look at all the goodness that is Operation: Frostbite. Until next time, may all of your dice come up Dragons!