Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sin City Dispatch Update: Welcome to the Steel Cage Challenge!

Hey everyone and welcome to another special Dispatch update!

At the end of the last issue, I mentioned that I might be taking part in a list contest related to 40k. Well, we decided on the rules and the Challenge is on! So what exactly is the Challenge?

One of the podcasts that I listen to is 40k Radio. If you play Warhammer 40,000 and you haven't checked them out, you just don't know what you are missing. When they first started, they did what they called the Steel Cage Challenge. The three hosts challenged each other to build, paint, and then play a brand new army against each other. To make things even more interesting, they placed bets on each of the challenges. For the first round, the loser had to wash the winner's car. The second, the loser had to mow the winner's lawn. I thought that this sounded like a lot of fun but I didn't know anyone that was just starting to build an army so nothing came of it.

Well, here we are months later and there are two friends of mine that are just looking to get serious with 40k. Dylan has decided to collect a Tyranid army and Eddie has decided to collect a Chaos Marine army. I actually have three armies sitting around in various stages of generally being unfinished and I made the comment to Dylan that it's too bad that we couldn't do a Challenge since I already at least have things assembled. After talking with Eddie, they both decided that they didn't care and they wanted in on the Challenge, so here we go!

We are doing things a little smaller than they did at 40k Radio, starting with a 500 point block, then expanding to 750 points and finally 1000 points. This is not your typical full 40k army but it will give all of us a strong core to build from.

For each block, we will have a set amount of time to assemble and paint those models. At the end of that time, all three of us with face off against each other to determine the winner for the round. Rinse and repeat three times, and at the end we see who the winner is.

So what's the prize? Well, just bragging rights this time. Depending on how it works out, I might be doing this again in the future since I know of another player who is waiting until the new Space Wolves codex comes out to start working on his army. Of course I think that he is just using that as an excuse because he seems to have a hard time with the whole painted army concept, but I'll give Matt the benefit of the doubt this time.

Well, that's it for this Update, but I want to put up more about the Challenge in the next few updates. I am thinking post our army lists along with our own thoughts as far as our unit choices, along with at least some written Battle Reports to let everyone know how the games go.

Now I have some Orks to paint so until next time, may all of your dice come up Dragons.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sin City Dispatch #22: We're Coming to Get... CRASH!!! ouch...

Hey everyone and welcome to another issue of the Dispatch!

Well, things went slightly off track with the last issue of the Dispatch so unfortunately the planned Battle Report is not quite finished. I was taking pictures at the end of each turn and apparently missed a couple of shots so it became slightly disjointed. Falling off of a chair, into two other chairs, while twisting your ankle and doing something not quite right to your knee can do that. Mental note: Bring a step stool next time... The good news is that the bruises are just about gone. Still, I am going to just give a quick summary instead of a detailed report so that I can at least give my thoughts on the Retribution. After that, we will be heading back to the future... far, far into the future in fact, all the way to the 41st millennium. That's right, I am dabbling with 40k again and the conversion ideas are just flowing like mad! So sit down and strap in because we are about to hit the ground running!

Battle Report...
Well, kind of...

As I mentioned earlier, I had a few slight problems that kept me from doing the Battle Report quite in the fashion that I had wanted. I was still able to get some kind of an idea how the Retribution played so lets take a look at how it went.

We played two games featuring the Retribution against the Circle of Orboros. This right here actually put me slightly off right from the get-go because of the way that most of the Retribution stuff works. If you look at the various spells for the 'casters, most of them are either geared toward or received a bonus for targeting 'jacks. Against Circle, not so much. This made things kind of tricky as I was just trying to figure out what would be the most effective spells to use.

The 'jacks on the other hand were pretty potent. In addition to the force shield, they also add any focus left on them onto their armor stat. That's right, just like a 'caster. This meant that my Griffon light 'jacks were running around with ARM 20 on turn one while the Hydra was up to ARM 21. Of course this goes away in your following Maintenance phase... except on the Hydra. That's right, it can sit on that focus from turn to turn without loosing it which comes in pretty handy, let me tell you.

In addition to these two types of 'jacks, I also used a Gorgon and a Pheonix in the games as well. Due to some crappy die rolls on my part, the Gorgon pretty much just died (to an Argus of all things!!!) while the Pheonix proved to be a pretty potent 'jack, taking out another Argus in a single round. I also really liked the Pheonix field on it as well; recharging the field without spending focus is a good thing, especially since I couldn't roll higher than a 1 whenever I tried to do this.

As for the units, I was able to try out the Invictors and they were not bad at all. Having a ranged unit is really nice and the fact that they can buff each others ARM when they are in base to base helps out as well, though I was really worried about how that would work with AoEs. A couple of well placed ones could have caused some serious damage.

So overall, just how were they to field? Not bad, definitely a different style army than I am used to. The 'jacks in particular I found were a little tricky to get my head around (mainly due to the power fields) but they definitely packed a pretty good bang for the buck and having the ranged units was a nice change as well. As far as the warcasters, I definitely prefer Kaelyssa over Vyros because of her speed. Vyros is pretty slow and being used to someone like Deneghra makes losing 2" off my movement kind of annoying.

The other big question is will I still be collecting a Retribution army when they come out. As of right now no but this is mainly due to financial reasons. They seem like they will be an enjoyable army to play and I think that the way they are selling the units is much better than the current set up (whole unit in the box with no more blisters) but investing in building up a completely brand new army just doesn't fit into the grand scheme of things for me right now. Just means that I'll have to keep expanding my Cryx army instead... :)

From the Workbench

That's right, I have decided to unearth the Workbench again. I recently was asked about playing a game of 40k so I decided to start digging out my old models and figure out just how the game works again. I know, you're asking yourself "But what does this have to do with the workbench?" One of the things that I really enjoy the most about 40k is the conversion possibilities. The GW plastics are a dream to work with in this regard and with more and more of their lines being switched over to plastic this turns GW stuff into a hobbyist's dream. Their metal minis can be very expensive but most of the plastic ones are actually pretty reasonable compared to other minis that are out there and the quality of the plastics just keeps getting better as well. But enough talk already! It's time to get to the Workbench.

Genestealer "acolytes"

Months ago I first posted about creating my Genestealer Cult using the Tyranid Codex as the basis for all the selections. This means a lot of "counts as" models but on the whole I love the concept. That said, there are parts of the cult that can simply be used as is. It is a Genestealer cult after all, so of course it will include Genestealers.

Some of you might be wondering just how this is a Workbench segment if I am just going to be talking about Genestealers. After all, they come in a box, slap them together and bam, they're done, right? Not exactly.

One of the interesting things about the fluff for the 'Stealer cult is how they move among the masses on the planet and gain new followers. Traveling from town to town in small caravans as they spread the good word, there are those covered in robes that remain in the transports at their destination until they can be unloaded away from prying eyes.

As for how this concept fits into the game, I decided that there are two ways that I could work this into the list. The first option is to make these a unit with the scuttlers biomorph. Since this gives the unit the Scout ability, this really fits the fluff as it represents the disguised 'Stealers taking advantage of the confusion to move forward into a better position. The second option is to use these as the retinue of the Broodlord which gives them the Infiltrate ability, an even better fit for the fluff in my opinion.

The next step is to take the stock standard 'Stealer and use some putty to sculpt on some tattered robes. The first couple that I did with this method I really aimed for a very tattered and worn look, even going so far as sculpting on some large patches on the fabric. This was not bad looking, but I decided to try something a little different on the next two. Instead of going for the completely tattered look, I decided to try to layer the putty on to create something that looks much more like a robe. Of the two approaches, I like how the robes came out better but I will still be using both to fill out the retinue.

Here are pictures of the first two that I did in the "beggar" style tattered robes...

...and here are some pictures of the second two that I did with much more constructed robes.

Of the two sets, I really prefer the look of the latter robes but we'll see how they all turn out after I get some paint onto them. I also need to do some more 'Stealers and also give the Broodlord his own robe as well, then HQ selection for my cult will be complete. Next up after that will be the Brood Brothers but more on them in a future issue.

The Parting Shot...

And there you have it! Not quite what I had planned... actually nothing like I had planned but that's par for the course with life sometimes. As always, your feedback is appreciated so feel free to post away in the comments. Looking into the future, some of you are probably wondering what direction I will be heading in next since this one has had more of a 40k slant than has been the norm. Well, right now I am looking at running a little "contest" between myself and few friends as we start to dabble with 5th Edition 40k again and if that happens then I will be covering that in the Dispatch. We are still working out the details though so more on that soon. Until then, thanks for reading and may all of your dice come up Dragons!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sin City Dispatch Update: The time is now!

Hey everyone,

With the release of the new No Quarter (and the Mark I stats for the Retribution), it is time for some battle reports! Coming soon, there will be not one but two full battle reports featuring the Retribution. I want to get an idea how this faction will work and there is no better place than the field of battle.

As if this wasn't enough, I also want to give a quick review of that new game that I was supposed to talk about in the last issue. Can you say "Oopsy!" All that and whatever else my devious mind can come up with will be coming to you soon, but until then may all of your dice come up Dragons!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sin City Dispatch #21: "No, we really did warn you. Didn't you get the memo?"

Hey everyone and welcome to another issue of the Dispatch!

In this issue, we have more Retribution goodness with the upcoming release of varitable butt-load of new Retribution minis! PP is not messing around with these guys and it looks like their force book will contain just as varied a mix of units as all of the other more established armies that they have been developing over the past six years. Now that is a lot of material!

In addition to all of that, we will also take a look at the new board game that PP is releasing (no, I'm not talking about the Scrappers game), there is also a brief battle report, a top five list, and even a look at a completely new game. This is looking to be the longest Dispatch ever, so sit down and strap in because we are about to hit the ground running!

Upcoming Releases for Warmachine

As we get closer to September, PP has brought more Retribution goodness out for us to see. Starting off from the top, tere is the picture of the third warcaster for this faction. Say hello to Garryth, the Blade of the Retribution.

There is no fluff for this mini so far but he still looks pretty cool. There have already been comparisons to Caine for the dual pistols which is understandable really. That has always been Caine's thing. Then again, who doesn't like a good gun fight? Think of it, get Caine and Garryth together, then you could have the shootout at the OK Vale. :) I couldn't resist, though perhaps I should have tried harder in this case.

Anyway, a very nice looking miniature and oddly enough much better looking than the artwork which will be gracing the cover of No Quarter #25.

In the artwork, the blades just look too ridiculously long while the actual miniature seems to be much more balanced. Overall, definitely one that I am looking forward to getting and I think he will be a nice compliment to Vyros and Kaelyssa.

Next up is the one of the nastiest sounding units for the Retribution so far, the Mage Hunter Strike Force.

"Mage hunters are expected to function in extreme circumstances, such as surviving hand-to-mouth deep in enemy territory while isolated from friendly support. At home in any environment, they learn to scavenge and improvise, and to kill without hesitation. Their first priority is always the elimination of enemy arcanists and mechanikal constructs—which they believe harm Scyrah."

Yes, that's right, a whole unit of Eiryss clones. No, I doubt they'll be quite that bad, but it sounds like they will still pack a nasty punch. I am thinking pathfinder, camouflage, advance deployment and stealth right off the bat plus some kind of bonus when attacking 'jacks and 'casters. So individually, I don't think they will be as bad as Eiryss... but there are six of them in a unit.

And as if a couple of units of Mage Hunters wasn't enough, now you can throw in the Mage Hunter Commander to lend a hand.

"Veteran teams led by senior commanders are well versed in advanced Retribution techniques. Slipping past the outer defenses of an enemy base, they fire bolts through intervening walls to kill without a trace. Working alongside other soldiers in the Retribution military, these teams apply similar methods to erase vital targets before they can even join battle."

I am thinking that this guy will have all of the perks of the Strike Force (pathfinder, camouflage, etc.) and he will be able to use phantom bolt as well. That last sentence is kind of scary though. "...these teams apply similar methods to erase vital targets..." Does that mean that he can give a unit the ability to shot a phantom bolt? That might be a little over the top, but we'll find out soon enough.

"While Retribution handlers endeavor to train soulless as soldiers, some are destined to serve another function. Energy flows sent to destroy Retribution soldiers are siphoned into the body of the soulless. If they siphon too much it prompts complete organ failure. Heart and lungs burst from hostile energy pouring into the soulless, while leaving those allies around him untouched."

I love that they have included this part of the fluff in the army. For those of you not in the know, the Soulless are basically what the Iosians are becoming. As Scyrah gets weaker and weaker, more of the Soulless are born instead of Iosians. As for the abilities, it sounds like maybe they might be able to cancel spells that target a nearby unit. Not quite sure how that would work but it sounds like a pretty cool twist.

"Battle mage magisters manipulate invisible energies to tear an enemy limb from limb or to haul weighty machinery around like pieces on a game board. The massive arcanika gauntlets they wear not only serve as conduits for their powers, but can deliver tremendous crushing blows and send opponents flying."

This one kind of caught me by surprise. Featured on the cover of the Retribution forcebook, I figured that this character was going to be another 'caster but that is definitely not the case. Instead, this one sounds like it is going to be some kind of a close combat bruiser. In addition to a high strength, I expect that this one will also have the ability to either slam or throw his opponents which is a pretty crazy for a small base model.

"Nayl is one of the soulless, destined to stand forever apart from his people, an uncomfortable reminder of the doom awaiting Scyrah and all of Ios. At rest Nayl seems empty, yet a blade in his hand moves with a will of its own, expressing echoes of emotions. Nayl’s trainers prepared him from youth to serve as an arcane vortex when he at last perishes, striking against the Retribution’s enemies even as death consumes him."

Nayl is another interesting twist since he is a Soulless character. I am going to guess that he will be a weapon master and have multiple wounds to make him a little more survivable since it seems like he will be most effective against the enemy warcaster when he becomes an "arcane vortex". Sounds like that will probably be some kind of area effect that either sucks up focus or maybe acts like a short term mage blight. Could be really nasty and do both! Sounds really nasty but I suspect that if he does do something like this then it will effect all models within the area instead of just enemy models, making positioning a little tricky with him.

"Ghost snipers are specialized and secretive hunter-killers employed ostensibly to help patrol the borders by employing powerful rifles to bring death to hapless intruders who wander into their sights. Many were already sympathetic to the Retribution while others seek profit and a chance to exercise their skills abroad. These killers stand ready to aim their formidable rifles at the enemies of the Retribution."

Elven snipers with big, freaking rifles. Never mind bows or crossbows. Nope, these guys just bring a gun instead. Very cool idea IMO. Probably will have at least pathfinder and camouflage, plus I think that it will have the sniper ability like the Widowmakers. Then there is the sight. I imagine that having some equivalent to eyeless sight with that wouldn't be out of the question but I think that might just be wishful thinking on my part. Either way, it is a cool model and sounds like a nice addition to the army.

"Even the most masterfully crafted myrmidon requires repair and support, particularly after the rigors of battle. Arcanists are seasoned mechanics with a broad working knowledge of arcanika that allows them to piece together shattered and broken hardware to get even a mostly ruined myrmidon working again. Their expertise also allows them to lend subtle arcane power to push these machines past their normal operational limits."

For me, this was a sign as to just how much PP was looking at packing into this book. How often to people really field mechanics and here the Iosians are with one available right off the bat. I don't know how useful they will be but it is good to see PP doing everything they can to make this book equal to all of the future army books for the established factions. Of course it also says that they can help push the myrmidons beyond their limits but the question is how? Given my own non-existent experience with mechanics (ah yes, the joy of Cryx), I am not sure how this will translate in game terms but it will be cool to see.

"Invictor captains are veterans who have endured long years of service under merciless superiors. All Invictors are extensively drilled and trained to take part in complex coordinated actions, and this is particularly true of the veterans chosen to accompany each captain. Relying on this discipline, Invictor officers can deliver devastating concentrated fire at unprecedented range."

Hmmm... Sounds like this guy will give the unit CRA which is kind of an odd ability to have an officer add. Again, this is an aspect of the game that I am not that familiar with (Ranged attacks? What are those?) but it will be interesting to see just how he buffs the unit.

"Sentinel captains will commit any action that will bring honor and glory to the order and thereby to House Nyarr. The Sentinel discipline is the one most often chosen by heirs of House Nyarr's bloodline, for it exemplifies Dawnguard virtues. Banner bearers carry aloft in imperishable metal the oaths by which they live as a visible reminder to all their men of their purpose."

As with the Invictor unit officer and standard, I am not sure just what these guys will do. The fluff doesn't really provide many hints beyond the fact that it is an officer and a standard bearer. The first line almost sounds like it might make them fearless but with the lack of fearless minis in Mark II, I don't think that this will be the case. Hmmm... Looks like another wait and see with this one.

And there you have it! Lots of minis will be coming out over the end of this year and the beginning of the next to get them caught up but it does seem like PP will be staggering their releases, a move that is doubtless easier on them and definitely easier on everyone's wallet. Overall, I am really looking forward to getting the official stats in NQ so that I can try these guys out. I definitely like the overall feel of the army as it is much more of a military structure than I find Cryx to have plus it is something new. The other true militaries in the Iron Kingdoms (Khador and Cygnar) are both very rich in their fluff and their rules but I really like the idea of trying something totally different. But more on that in the next Dispatch after I get a few games under my belt...

And Now For Something Completely Different...

The next new release has nothing to do with Warmachine or Hordes... well, not directly at least. Back in issue #10 of No Quarter, PP released rules for what amounted to their own version of Bloodbowl. The main difference was Bloodbowl was played by humans (more or less) while Grind was played only with 'jacks.

An interesting idea but it was not something that I ever wanted to get into. The 'jacks are expensive enough to field just for Warmachine without getting more of them to paint up in Grind team colors. Well, it looks like all that is going to change in October with the release of the Grind board game. Here is the blurb about it...

"Suspended just above a lake of seething magma, this flame-scorched arena is ground zero for the most brutal sport ever created—Grind! Here 10-ton, ash-spewing, steam-powered robots called steamjacks fight to move a giant, spiked ball into the other team’s goal. Using every weapon in their arsenal, these steamjacks slam, smash, and crush their way through the opposition as they tirelessly slug it out for the title.

The Destructodome is the battlefield for two rival teams of armored metal warriors: the Iron Storm and the Steel Fury. With their eyes on the prize these two teams will stop at nothing to own the blistering field, so pack your playbook with cunning maneuvers, loadout your team with devastating weaponry, and get ready to stake your claim to glory.

Your strategy must be merciless. Your resolve, indestructible. In Grind, only victory can quench the burning fury within these unstoppable machines.

The Grinder is about to drop. Stoke your fire and brace for battle!"

This sounds cool enough to be interesting, but then you look at the back of the box.

Yes folks, that's right. The 'jacks are now made out of plastic. As if that wasn't enough, they also have interchangeable weapons. Admittedly there are basically just two forces to choose from for how (Cygnar and Khador) but even so they have got me interested! No idea on the price yet but once I find out, I'll be sure to pass it along!

The Top Five

This is a new segment that I am thinking about making a regular part of the Dispatch depending on how well it is received. Why? Well, why not? So without further ado...

The Top Five Things That Drive Me Nuts About Privateer Press

#5. They made Monpoc collectible. Yes, I'm still annoyed by this.

#4. With all of the different books over the years, the rules have become incredibly clear, easy to interpret, and never contradict themselves. (Nope, there's no sarcasm in that sentence.)

#3. They keep coming out with new models for different factions that look so cool that I want to buy them all!

#2. As if my wallet wasn't screaming for mercy already, they had to come out with a Grind board game complete with plastic minis.

and the #1 thing that drives me nuts about Privateer Press...

#1. They painted the Retribution 'jacks so that they look like they are made out of marshmallow, but still managed to make them look cool enough that I really want to get them all.

Battle Report
Taking the field with the Butcher

This past weekend I finally managed to get in a small game of Warmachine against Dylan, one of our local Cygnar players. Normally, I would play Cryx but at the time I just wanted to play a beatstick-style army list so I wanted to dust off the Trolls to try out some new tactics with them. The only problem was that I couldn't find my copy of Primal and there was no way that I would go to the store to game without a copy of the rules for reference. With that in mind, I decided to break out the oldest Warmachine minis that I have, dating from back in 2003 when the game first came out.

I didn't even have a gaming group back then but I saw the Khador miniatures and loved the look of them, so I bought a copy of Prime and the Khador battlebox. As luck would have it, I also received a free Butcher mini as part of a special promotion and I was inspired. Looking like some kind of a steam powered Space Marine, I thought that the Butcher was the best thing since sliced bread and started thinking up army lists that I could build with him. Time went by and my Warmachine was put away for years.

When I finally decided to get back into Warmachine years later, I decided to focus on Cryx instead as I had been told that Khador was the most represented faction locally (though all the players said they were Russian instead of Khadoran). I never got rid of those minis but never expected to use them... until last Saturday night.

To keep things simple, we only played a 350 point game. Neither of us had played in a couple of weeks so a nice quick refresher sounded perfect. Dylan broke out Stryker with a Ironclad and a Lancer, a Gun Mage Adept, and Junior with a Hunter, while on my side of the table was the Butcher, two Juggernauts, a Manhunter, and a unit of Widowmakers.

The die was cast and amazingly enough, I actually won the roll! I had a feeling that this game would all be about who was able to draw first blood so naturally I choose to go first. Now I had originally thought about making this a full battle report but as I forgot to take pictures after the first turn (can you say oops?), I'm just going to recap the highlights instead.

Of all of the units in the game, the award for LVP (least valuable player) would have to go to the Ironclad. While it was facing off against two Juggernauts and the Butcher, Dylan decided to do the tremor special attack. With a Juggernaut as his target, there was virtually no way that he could possibly miss which would put both of my 'jacks and my 'caster into a very dangerous position. It sounded so good... until those two dice both came up with 1's. "It's a swing and a miss! Strike three and he is outta there!"

That same turn, Stryker popped his feat to try to protect his beleaguered 'jacks from the inevitable onslaught but this is the Butcher we are talking about, who was the MDP (most devastating player). Charging forward, he swung Lola down with the force that only pure madness could grant to a mortal man, destroying half of the boxes on the heavy 'jack. With an enraged bellow, he heaved Lola over his head again and smashed the Ironclad to the ground, crippling it with his second blow. That's right, two hits from the Butcher against an Ironclad with armor 23 and it was out of the game. Now that's what you call brutal damage.

For the icing on the cake, the next turn the Butcher was able to charge the Lancer which had come over to take a swing at him. Charging while you are in melee... it's twisted and wrong but man did it let me demolish that Lancer!

Even with those two massive blows dealt to the forces of Cygnar, in the end the Butcher's rage left him vulnerable. Stryker managed to get a charge lane and with two mighty blows of his own was able to silence the madman. Overall it was an awesome game and it was nice to have a 'caster that I could just point at the enemy and say "Kill". No matter which faction I might focus on, the Butcher is one 'caster that I am never going to part with.

The Parting Shot...

And that's another one in the "books"! I have tried to add in a few new segments to the Dispatch with this one so please take a minute to tell me what you think. I enjoy writing these but I also enjoy sharing all of this with you guys so any feedback is appreciated. Thanks for reading and until next time, may all of your dice come up Dragons!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sin City Dispatch Update: The Dispatch is coming, the Dispatch is coming!

Hey everyone,

I am still working on the latest Dispatch and man is it turning into a monster! With all of the Retribution previews coming out, it is packed full of more wild speculation plus a look at the new board game coming from PP in October plus a recap of a recent Warmachine game... It just keeps getting bigger and bigger!

So when will it all see the light of day? By Monday because I want to get it posted before the next No Quarter comes out just to see how close I was able guess about all the Retribution stuff.

Until then, may all of your dice come up Dragons!