Monday, May 25, 2009

Sin City Dispatch #19: Welcome to the Saturday Night Smackdown!

Hey everyone and welcome to another issue of the Dispatch!

This issue we are going to take a look at the latest Call To Arms Tour for Warmachine and Hordes. We just started running this locally and man are we having a blast! In fact, this whole issue is going to be about the League so sit down and strap in because we are about to hit the ground running!

Liberation of Umbrey Begins!
Another Look at Our Local Call to Arms League

We officially started our League off with a bang this past Saturday night. Something that Matt started to do to accommodate those of us with odd schedules, the after hours gaming at BattleZone has quickly become a tradition for our gaming group. Starting about 9pm on Saturday, Matt opens up the store until 3am so that we can all come down and get some games going, talk some smack, and generally just hang out with our friends.

This Tour of the League is proving to be no different as we continue to bring new players in the game and the "old guard" continue to build their respective forces into actual armies.

Here you can see Cody and Pat, veterans from the first tour, throwing down one of their first 750 point games. Since they both started getting into the game in the first tour, they have not had a chance to get in a serious game of Warmachine or Hordes before now and it really was an eye opening experience. The game has suddenly changed from some random groups of warriors fighting to two armies clashing on the field of battle. All of us are finally getting a taste of the what the game is supposed to be like and I think that we are all hungry for more.

Meanwhile, Ace and Kat were throwing down a battle box game on the other side of the store. One of the other Cryx players in the store, Ace is now looking at switching gears to give the Privateers a try while Kat is just getting into the game with the Legion of Everblight, making Legion our most popular faction in the store right now.

While this was going on, Matt and I were squaring off as well in one of the most intense games that either of us have played. We both loved the scenario last week but this game was an adrenaline rush like no other. As I mentioned in the last issue, we are doing timed games for this tour and though none of the games ran their full duration, the timing on the turns was enough to push the game to the next level. I can see how some people might not like it but for us it was like a drug and I think that we are all looking forward to more games like this.

After a Del Taco run, we all got back into the action again with Kat and Cody facing off on the far table while Matt and Ace squared off on the other one. I don't know how these games went as my next game was the last one to finish for the night but hopefully everyone had a good time.

Pat and I had hopped over to the table that Kat and Ace had been using and I proceeded to get my butt handed to me. After burning out early in the first tour, Pat was not sure how excited he would be to play in this one. When it came down to the wire, he did not hesitate at all and dove right in! Between his solid list and tactics and my silly mistakes and some crappy die rolls... well, as I said earlier, I got my butt handed to me, on a platter even. Still, it was good to get a game in with Pat after his long hiatus from the game, and it was nice to get my 750 point list on the table. Now I have a better idea which parts are going to work and which parts should be melted down for scrap.

The Parting Shot...

I know that some people were expecting more players to show up on Saturday but I am happy with the turn out. There are some more out there that I think will start to trickle in as things really start moving along so I am expecting it to be another really good tour! Now I just have to figure out how we will do the battle royale at the end... Good thing I have a couple of months to figure that one out. Until next time, may all of your dice come up Dragons!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sin City Dispatch #18: Come Into My Parlor...

Hey everyone and welcome to the latest and greatest issue of the Dispatch!

In this issue we will be heading to the BattleZone for the first game in the mini-campaign. Advance forces of Cryx and Legion have encountered each other and the battle is joined! What was the outcome of these opening moves? Read on to find out! After that we will take a look at how the next battle will play out in the second part of the Battle of the Gnarls. Finally, we will be taking a look at the special rules that we are using locally for Tour Two of the Call to Arms League. Lots to talk about, so sit down and strap in because we are about to hit the ground running!

The Battle in the Gnarls
The Battle Report for Part One of a Mini Campaign
for Legion of Everblight and Cryx

The mists hung thick around the trees but the damp went unnoticed by these soldiers. Moving wordlessly, the walking dead searched for the tell tale signs of necrotite. The Necrotech Devisious was the most diligent in the search, scanning the ground as he scuttled forward and occasionally digging into the earth with his vise claw. He suspected that the deposits that they had already discovered were going to be their best finds but Asphyxious demanded that they make sure.

Pausing again, Devisious peered at a ruined farmhouse in a corpse of trees just ahead. The building had obviously been attacked at some point so there could be something of value in the location but something pulled at the back of his thoughts. Digging deep into his long dead mind, he could feel that something was not right. But what could it be?

* * * * *

Deacon Valys moved forward with his archers, the cool, damp air a welcome change to the normal heat of the day. He did not like traveling this far south of the Shards but Lylyth had commanded it. Rumors had come to light of ancient stones which told of the resting places of other dragons, weaker siblings of Everblight. True or not, any information of this kind was too valuable not to investigate. Now he and his archers scouted to make sure that the Trolls of the Gnarls did not interfere with their search.

Ahead of them, one of the brutish Warmongers stalked forward. Valys despised their kind but in this case it might prove useful. Good bait for a Dire Troll if they happened to find one. The thought made him smile, but something pulled him out of his revelry. There was something near. Something familiar but very different. He silently signaled to his archers to stay close as they advanced toward a ruined farmhouse. As for the Ogrun, he could fend for himself.

* * * * *

Well, we played the first part of the mini campaign and it rocked! We both loved the feel and the way that it played out even though it was probably one of the shortest Warmachine/Hordes games that we have ever played at BattleZone. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

For this game, Matt and I decided to try something totally different. We both stepped out of the room and had Cody set up the terrain for us. After all, this was supposed to be an encounter between two advance forces so it only made sense to have this kind of a blind in play. Once he was done, we rolled off to choose sides and then did a blind simultaneous deployment. This was Matt's idea and it also worked great and really fit the feel of the scenario. Placing a "wall" in the middle of the board, we both deployed and then took the "wall" down. Here is an overhead view of the board after we deployed.

On Matt's side of the table, he had a unit of Blighted Archers with the Officer and Ammo Porter unit attachment along with a Warmonger Chieftain for good measure. On my side, I had a Necrotech, six Scrap Thralls, one eight strong unit of Mechanithralls and one six strong unit of Mechanithralls with a Brute Thrall attachment.

The game opened with the Chieftain moving forward into the ruins in the center of the board while the archers moved up to try to get a shot against my undead horde. A whooping three of them were actually able to get line of sight one of my Scrap Thralls but the combined volley fell short of actually doing anything.

For my activation, my horde moved forward and that was it. With no ranged units, I was at a slight disadvantage but I was hoping to be able to get a couple of those Scrap Thralls into his lines next turn.

Moving into turn two, Matt did the only thing that made sense and moved his archers as far back as possible. Facing an all melee army it was the only choice that made any sense, especially considering how attrition could play into this campaign. The Chieftain also moved backward but due to the ruins and the forest he was not able to move quite as far.

With most of Matt's army well outside my threat range, I attacked the only thing I could; the Chieftain. Three of the Scrap Thralls ran forward using their Death Burst special attack but only one of them actually managed to hit. That one managed to inflict seven points of damage on him but the other two were just low enough that his armor saved him. With those three attacks done, I called for a withdrawal and the game was over.

Now some of you are probably thinking "What?!? That's it?" but remember that attrition counts in this campaign. If I had tried to charge his archers, my troops would have been mowed down in short order so withdrawing was the only logical thing to do. This puts me at a disadvantage next game as Matt will be able to choose whether to go first or not, but this is a small price to pay. Besides, I keep rolling a 1 when we dice it off so this game won't be any different.

So what's next? Part two of course! Aware of each others forces, Lylyth and Asphyxious each need to try to buy time to finish their respective missions without interference. Who will succeed? Only the dice will tell!

The Battle in the Gnarls
Part Two of a Mini Campaign for
Legion of Everblight and Cryx

Lylyth had known that the Trolls might prove to be a problem in the Gnarls, but the Cryx? This was an unexpected complication. She did not know why the minions of the hated Turok were there but it was now more vital than ever that they complete their mission as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, the Iron Lich had been more focused on finding the necrotite than on this kind of a complication. They had found a few rich locations but the mining rigs needed more time to extract the precious substance from the ground. Knowing that something must be done to keep the rigs secure, Asphyxious summoned his strongest commander to deal with this nuisance. The forces of the Legion must be destroyed and he could think of no one better suited to deal with them.

Special Rules

Since this scenario follows along with the first, all of the special rules for terrain are still in effect except for board size. To make things easier, here are the terrain rules again.

Forest: By far the dominant terrain feature in this campaign, the Gnarls are known for how densely the trees grow. To accurately represent this, at least half of the terrain features that are placed on the board must be forests. These forests all follow the basic rules laid out in the core rulebook; count as rough terrain, provide concealment, block line of sight. For more information, refer to the appropriate section of the rules.

Hills: While not a mountainous region, the Gnarls still has its share of hills located within it borders. As with the other terrain features, these use all the normal rules from the core rulebook.

Ruin: Humans are often crazy enough to try anything once and that includes trying to build a home in the Gnarls, a known home to the Dire Troll. This ruin represents the end result of that foolish line of reasoning.

Stone markers: Numerous stone markers can be found throughout the Gnarls. While some of these hold great power, most are nothing more than ancient pieces of stone.

Stream: While there are no major waterways that pass through the Gnarls, there are a number of small rivers and streams that cross the area. A stream is a body of shallow water that follows all of the basic rules from the core rulebook.

Since this scenario will feature larger forces, a normal 4' x 4' table should be used.

Set Up

For this battle, both players will have access to whatever units are left from the first scenario plus an extra 250 points worth of new troops. In addition, the winner of the first scenario is able to replace up to 30 points worth of units that he lost in the first scenario but remember that this can only be used to replace lost units, not to buy new units.

There are also new restrictions for the force selection that apply to this battle:

a maximum of one character solo or character unit

no warcasters or warlocks

Once the forces have been selected, a total of eight pieces of terrain are placed on the table with the players taking turns doing this. As noted in the special rules, at least four of these pieces of terrain must be forests. Once the board is set up, the winner of the first scenario decides who will deploy first and take the first turn. Forces are then deployed as normal and the game begins!

Victory Conditions

The scenario continues until either one side is completely destroyed or one side chooses to withdraw from the battle. The remaining player is then the winner of the scenario. Since this is a larger battle, the winner is now able to replace up to 80 points worth of casualties that his army suffered in this game and will choose who will be the first player in the final scenario.

Liberation of Umbrey BattleZone Update
Taking a Look at Our Local Call to Arms League

The first tour of Call to Arms was great for us. We managed to bring in a bunch of new gamers and really build a good Warmachine/Hordes community at BattleZone. In fact we just had a pre-League meeting this past Saturday and I was shocked at how many people were there, including even more new faces. Still, for as good as the first tour went, Matt and I want this one to be even better so we decided to add a few things to the regular format.

You Want Me To Play How Many Games?!?

One of the big hurdles for a lot of players in the first tour was the sheer number of games. Some people had a lot of free time in the beginning and gamed their butts off... burning out in the process. Others were struggling to just get in one game. To make it more balanced, we are going to run each "tour week" for two calendar weeks. Sounds a little confusing at first but I actually wrote up a calendar so that everyone could keep track a little easier. To avoid the burnout factor and tighten up the field a little, there is also a five game limit for each calendar week. This means that you can still get in ten games for a tour week but you have to pace yourself to get them.

It's Day Three of This Game and We Are All The Way up to Round Two!!!

Another factor that we ran into headlong was the games that wouldn't end. Some of the match ups just took forever to play out so to avoid that situation in this tour, the games will be timed. Nothing like adding a little pressure to your game! Plus it should be a lot easier to schedule games this way because once you start there is a definite end in sight.

I'll Get You My Pretty, and Your Little Paint Brush Too!

One of the last things that we did was add a painting bonus to encourage people to start breaking out their brushes. Nothing too fancy, just going from bare metal or primer to tabletop level of painting on one miniature. And the time frame? One tour week, so two actual weeks to get it done and earn a League Point for each tour week that you do it. That's five extra points for painting five minis in two and a half months. Plus Matt is going to throw in a faction paint set for the person that paints the most minis in the League, and free stuff is always a nice perk in my book.

Overall, I have to say that I am really looking forward to the new tour. I have decided to go back to my roots and break out the Cryx but this time I am going to play them through the whole tour come Hell or high water. I have been trying to do too many factions and know that I have to pick one and stay with that one. Besides, they're walking dead. How can you not like the walking dead, right?

The Parting Shot...

And there you have it, another one in the books. Heck, I don't think I have written up a Dispatch this quick in months! That said, don't get too used to it. With the League starting up again, I expect that I am going to be pretty busy Saturday nights for the next couple of months. Don't get me wrong, I'll still be cranking out the Dispatch as fast as I can but I have to heed the Call to Arms. Until next time, may all of you dice come up Dragons!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sin City Dispatch #17: The Tangled Webs We Weave

Hey everyone, and welcome to the latest issue of the Dispatch!

It is going to be a quick issue this time as we to take a sneak peek at what I am working on to add a little depth to our local Warmachine group, so sit down and strap in because we are about to hit the ground running!

Tell Me A Story...
Moving Beyond the One Shot Game in Warmachine

Let's be honest here; I really enjoy playing Warmachine and Hordes. From game system to the miniatures themselves, there are lots of things that I really enjoy about it. Yes, some of the rules are kind of questionable and the way that they wrote some of the abilities leaves you wondering if English was their first language but as a whole, I really like the game. But nothing is perfect, right?

One of the things that has always bugged me about Warmachine is the fact that a 'caster has to be included in every army. When you are fighting a grand, sweeping battle it makes sense, but for some kind of a small patrol? Now think about it. Does the general ever go out for a walk with the grunts to see what he can find? Really now?

Thankfully, I am not the only one that feels this way so I have started work on a group of linked scenarios that are more "realistic" (we are talking about a fantasy game after all). Things start out small as the leading units of two armies encounter each other, building to the next battle as the scouts rejoin the main force, and then culminating with the two armies coming together in one final battle. Will it work? Damned if I know but it should be a lot of fun to try it out! Here is how the "story" begins...

The Battle in the Gnarls
Part One of a Mini-Campaign
for Legion of Everblight and Cryx

Pushing ever southward, the Legion of Everblight have moved into the Gnarls seeking ancient stone circles. It is believed that these circles might hold information about the location of some of the other slumbering dragons. Knowing that he is still too weak to face the Dragonfather, Everblight needs to gather more of his siblings power so that one day he can ultimately defeat Turok.

Meanwhile, the forces of Turok are also moving through the Gnarls but in their case they are seeking fresh necrotite sites. Needing more of this unholy substance to power their dark warmachines, the necrotechs have spread out with their hordes of thralls unaware of their Lord's nemesis lurks so close by.

Special Rules

As all of these missions are set in the Gnarls there are some special rules regarding terrain, specifically just what types of terrain can be used. Here is a list of the various features that can be used through out the campaign, along with any rules that might apply to them.

Forest: By far the dominant terrain feature in this campaign, the Gnarls are known for how densely the trees grow. To accurately represent this, at least half of the terrain features that are placed on the board must be forests. These forests all follow the basic rules laid out in the core rulebook; count as rough terrain, provide concealment, block line of sight. For more information, refer to the appropriate section of the rules.

Hills: While not a mountainous region, the Gnarls still has its share of hills located within it borders. As with the other terrain features, these use all the normal rules from the core rulebook.

Ruin: Humans are often crazy enough to try anything once and that includes trying to build a home in the Gnarls, a known home to the Dire Troll. This ruin represents the end result of that foolish line of reasoning.

Stone markers: Numerous stone markers can be found throughout the Gnarls. While some of these hold great power, most are nothing more than ancient pieces of stone.

Stream: While there are no major waterways that pass through the Gnarls, there are a number of small rivers and streams that cross the area. A stream is a body of shallow water that follows all of the basic rules from the core rulebook.

In addition to these terrain rules, the board for this scenario should also be smaller than the standard 4' x 4'. We will be using a 2' x 3' table but a 2' by 4' would work just as well.

There are also several special rules regarding force composition. This is the first of three scenarios in an escalating mini campaign. In this scenario, advance troops from the two factions have encountered each other and closed to attack. What happens next in the campaign depends entirely on the outcome, as whatever troops are left from this game are used in the future games. This means that in addition to trying to win the scenario, each player also has to take attrition into account.

As an added twist, either side can also choose to retreat at any time during the game by simply declaring that they are withdrawing at the beginning of their turn. While doing this means that they lose the game, it also means that it is possible to avoid taking crippling loses early in the campaign.

Set Up

For this first battle, each side can field a force of no more than a total of 150 points with the following additional restrictions:

no multi wound units

a maximum of one solo

no character units or character solos

no warcasters or warlocks

Once the forces have been selected, a total of four pieces of terrain are placed on the table with the players taking turns doing this. As noted in the special rules, at least two of these pieces of terrain must be forests. Once the board is set up, a die is rolled as normal to determine who will deploy first and take the first turn. Forces are then deployed as normal except that any units with Advance Deployment also must be deployed at this time with the rest of the army in the regular deployment zones.

Victory Conditions

The scenario continues until either one side is completely destroyed or one side chooses to withdraw from the battle. The remaining player is then the winner of the scenario, which has two distinct benefits. The winner is able to replace up to 30 points worth of casualties that his army suffered and can choose who will be the first player in the next scenario but more on this later.

The Parting Shot...

And there you have it! This is only the beginning but I am really interest in seeing how the whole thing plays out and I plan on sharing it with the rest of you. That's right, the battle reports are coming back and the first three will follow the Battle in the Gnarls. Come back soon to check it out, but until then may all of your dice come up Dragons!