Friday 18 September 2015

FrostGrave .. OK so I bought the book ;)

"Shiny thing, shiny thing, alert, alert!", but as we all know resistance was futile ;)

So all it took was a  quick look on eBay [where I spotted it at a cheaper than the original RRP, a bargain, for want of a feeble justification/excuse] and much to my surprise or rather embarrassment (aka my wife's inquisitive "What's this then another toy?") The parcel arrived promptly at the door. Despite the third degree at least it's here now (see below):

The good news is that it fits in perfectly with my existing Dark Ages/Fantasy collections so there is no additional figure purchases required .. that is unless I want to and of course I always want to! 

Perfect  for a "beer and pretzel" style game night.


Thursday 17 September 2015

Space Marines go Forth : Episode 2 Part 3 "Has anybody seen Space Marine Spot?"

"Run Rabbit Run, Chaos has a GUN, GUN, GUN". So, so true of the Killer Dreadnought Robot chasing Commander White, but a new 'event-driven' trouble for came out of the pack for him, a "Gene Stealer". Yippee, I was happy. I had not managed to draw one in the first game, but at last my newly painted Gene Stealer figure could take the floor (see below, from out of the shadows, "Gotcha"):

Sadly like all nicely painted figures, he (or rather it) did not last very long. Commander White was putting up with no distractions to his personal new mission objective of "getting out of Dodge". Despite its (potential) ferocious hand-to-hand dice the Space Marine Sergeant whopped its sorry little ass! One ex-Gene Stealer (see below):

Meanwhile ... something strange had also happened to one of the surviving Ultra Marine Troopers. Chaos had already picked off one more Ultra Marine Space Trooper with a lucky "shot in the back" (sneaky does as sneaky Chaos is, it is the Chaos way) leaving two remaining Blue Team survivors. Then by pure luck, drawing a further event card, the "Lure of Chaos" warped "Trooper Blue" into "Deviant Chaos Spawn Red" (see below):

"It" then then entered the airlock and discharged its rocket launcher killing itself and the surviving Space Marine Trooper. Sadly (for Chaos that is) this turned out to be directly in contravention of the Space Crusade rules as once in the airlock you are safe, drats, drats, double damn, drats. So "Blue Trooper 5" survives, it was all 'just a dream' (see below, this never happened, just a nightmare caused from too much contact with Chaos):

The two Blood Angels Troopers make it off- tablle undramatically though notably without girl-magnet "Lt Wolfie". Commander White makes a less dignified but equally effective exit. His extraction is textbook bar the fact he left his whole team behind, dead (see below):

So this episode concludes with an unexpected Chaos win (evil laughter). Mentioned in despatches at Space Marine HQ are the brave Blue Team, that is, for dying hard and well, killing lots of Chaos creatures. Red and White teams are denigrated and despised for their lack lustre performance.

Commander White faced his superiors with his "After Action Report". It was accurate and to the point. He was commended for talking out the Android but castigated for not leading from the front. His decision to return while enemy units remained, namely the Dreadnought Killer Robot was though unworthy of the Best Tradition of the Corp. Looking at the unforgiving battle scared faces around him "White" felt rather more than a bit "Yellow". He had nothing more to lose, he sprang to his feet "Sir. Permission requested to Solo Assault Level 78". There was a deathly, icy silence in the room, the other officers turned to the highly decorated Major of Marines who had said nothing up to this point. Without returning their looks, he in turn looked Commabder White in the eye, nodded and said "Granted." White Team will start with a completely new crew for the next mission.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Space Marines go Forth : Episode 2 Part 2 "Equal and opposite reactions?"

While sitting on my Chaos laurels I had completely forgotten about the distinct advantage the Space Marine players have over the Spawn of Chaos. Chaos is unintelligent  malevolence, whereas the Imperium bestows leadership (Command Cards) and hi-tech weaponry (Equipment Cards). Commander "Kool Blue" orders his Space Marines to 'double time' and gets in a perfect enfilade on my Chaos Space Marine Commander (which happens to be the Primary Mission objective). Amidst a half-formed Chaos expletive he dissolves under the impact of an accurate salvo of Space Marine heavy weaponry (see below):

Worse was still to follow. A beautifully aimed Plasma Beam incinerated a line of Orc Grunts, waiting it seemed in parade ground fashion. Four fell. The higher beings of Chaos groaned at the incompetence of their underling, which turned into a double groan is the Blood Angels (going room-to-room in house clearing fashion) took out the Chaos Space Marine wielding a distinctively "chaotic looking" heavy weapon (who happened to be the target of the secondary mission objective). 

Game Over: Mission Objectives complete a Space Marine whitewash. 

Or was it? There was a dirty looking android staring at "Commander Kool", he decided to 'Honour the Corp' and take it out! Be it a simple case of weapons malfunction or higher level order Chaos trap we will never truly know, but Commander Kool fell bravely in battle a hero on the eyes of the Ultra Marines (see below, Koolsn uncool 0 hits, the Android 5 in close combat!):

Blue Team were stunned, "bullet proof" Kool was down, thankfully their training immediately kicked in. "Lock and load, target acquired, confirmed hostile Mech 25 meters, launch" ... kaboom ... "Hostile down." Chaos was again reeling as bits of Android 675-744BSC-1X bounced off the walls. Now pinned into a mere quarter of the Space Hulk level 78 with over nearly three quarters of its forces already "down" to the Space Marines. Although the Ultra Marines were down to just "three troopers" (see below):

While the Ultra Marines were showing their tactical prowess and the Blood Angels were going "room to room", what on earth (or Terra) were the Imperial Fists doing? They seemed to be chasing shadows or in particular one Chaos Space Marine sniper who was annoying their Sergeant. Eventually the 'Tom and Jerry' game of tag came to an end as one ex-Chaos Space Marine contemplated "eternity plus one". The White Commander had however opened up a rather large gap between himself and his troopers (see below):

Meanwhile the Blood Angels "Red Commander, "Red Star Wolfie" was caught between the horns of a internal dilemma. Although both the primary and secondary mission objectives had been achieved, unlike the White Commander he felt like he had not done enough. His reputation back at the Corp HQ depended upon a good kill count, but Chaos seemed to prefer to run away from the Blood Angels rather than stand and fight. Sensing there was not much left to mop up "Red Star Wolfie" got the shock of his life when behind cargo door 78-A33 a dirty great big Dreadnought Killer Robot waited. The first round of combat was inconclusive and "Wolfie" withdrew with a minor wound. Gasping for breath, Wolfie" weighed up the odds, at best 'evens', more than likely 'against'. Always a gambler as well as a ladies man to heart "Wolfie" went for it, screaming 'Angels Lead the Way!' his power sword ionising the air as per the recruitment ads. The space-time continuum seemed to be adversely affected by some form of  warp spasm. "Wolfie's" arm was fractionally slower than the robots and his power sword skittered harmlessly across the floor. The Dreadnought had pre-calculated the Blood Angel's exact move and punctured his power armour at a known weak spot. Another unsung "Hero of Imperium" droped lifeless to the floor (see below, urk):      

Stunned by this sudden turnaround the Space Marines were lost for words and actions. Two leaders down in the same turn, unheard of. A beaten foe was suddenly on its feet thrashing the hell out of the Space Marine assault. What once seemed to be a 'walk in the park' was now a 'nightmare of cataclysmic proportions'. The Dreadnought slipped effortlessly into a long corridor and lined up a plasma cannon attack catching three Space Marine grunts (sorry troopers [the last two surviving Imperial Fists and a hapless Blood Angel]) lined up in a line like rookies and down they went. The White Commander caught a nice dose of auto-cannon to wound him and spoil his nice paint job (see below):

Standard Space Marine training stipulates a specific tactical response (see below) to "gloating minions of Chaos" (aka 'me') who cannot believe their own undeserved, blind, pure, unplanned  luck when the dice fall so unkindly but honour the fiends of "The Warp". The Space Marine Commanders were well drilled in this respect, I believe it meant "give us a chance and we will cut all your tentacles off you despicable green thing" (see below):  

With The Imperial Fists running at 80% casualties, The Blood Angels 60% and the Ultra Marines 40%, most of the Space Marine equipment and order cards used, an unstoppable Dreadnought Killer Robot on the rampage and the last mech, Android 566-988HND-S1 (a zip-zip, kill-o-zap special) finally released on kill mode, enough was enough. The Space Marines turned and ran for it, sorry I mean beat a tactical retreat to "live to fight another day".

Will they make it away? 

Saturday 12 September 2015

Space Marines go Forth : Episode 2 Part 1 "What Could Possibly Go Wrong with the Plan?"

"Plan? Plan? We have a Plan? When did we make a Plan?"

So it came to pass that the Red, Blue and Yellow teams launched themselves at Level 78 of the Space Hulk "Damnation". With an air of confidence they geared up with as many heavy weapons as they could get their clammy little Space Marine hands on, to "take-it" to Chaos. They were revved up and a little "hung-ho" IMHO. "Entry" seemed a relatively straight forward operation with the Blue Ultra Marines chalking up some grunt kills. Then Chaos released a maniac android on The Imperial Fists taking out a Space Marine in hand to hand combat (see below, ah ha "Gotcha"):

The bunched up Space Marines failed to take out the mechanised monster, so its killing spree continued and another Imperial Fist trooper fell in battle. The Emperor's Bodyguard was, er thinning fast (see below):

As before in so many times of crisis, Sergeant Heinikan stepped up and Mano-on-Mano took Android 870-123PHD6-1A out. "All hail to the Sergeant, all hail to the Chapter, all hail to the Emperor" (see below): 

Chaos has many followers, so the Ultra marines discovered. Another android and another Space Marine casualty, strike two. The Chaos underling (me) was starting to feel quite pleased with "itself" as a mischievous imp can be that is (see below):

Another deadly android and another Space Marine hero steps forward, Sergeant Kool of the Blue Team takes out Andriod 871-563MSC2-7C, fizz, drat, dang! I don't have many of these powerful minions left (see below):

It goes quiet for the next few turns. The Space Marines report that the Chaos enemy seems to have withdrawn back into the depths of the Space Hulk, as if it can no longer face the fury of the Space Marine assault. As the Blood Angels advance a surprise attack is launched and an Orc takes out a Red trooper with a lucky hit, evil laughter (see below):

Four Space Marines down and we are only in the opening phases of the game, the casualty body count is already more for Chaos than the whole of the previous game. The Chaos Commander, although only of the lowliest status (me) is looking a trifle smug. "OK you lucky green fingered tentacle see how you like this!" I abruptly turn about as I feel the piercing, cold, hard, steely eyes of the Ultra Marines Commander burning into me. His troops are already in a perfect position for a flanking attack on a corridor packed with Chaos grunts and things.

... to be continued in a microwave or two ....

Friday 11 September 2015

A touch of FrostGrave (II) .. Welcome back to the D&D in a Death Match scramble for Magic Items

I discover there is no end to my magic users talents as he summons or rather animates a corpse into a zombie [see lady in red below] to be totally under his control, mawahaw, evil laughter. Sadly she is very slow to get into combat and upsets my own thugs in the process, something about sharing combat space with an undead creature (see below, the magic user doing his stuff with his ever faithful Ninja by his side as per usual):

The battle for the disputed artifact token heats up as I draw up most of my fellow grave robbers troops to me. My imp is going sterling service for his master in the background but is soon to become a victim to a lucky "stab in the dark" from my adversary so much for animated monsters (see below):

The spoils remain evenly split at three treasures a piece (a profitable draw) as I am repulsed back in the centre by my opponents mercenary fighters. Although I did take out two of his henchman off camera thanks to the poison blow dart of my Ninja! The wizard and apprentice decide to safely safely depart as discretion is the better part of valour, before the inevitable wandering magical super-guardian monster(s) appears to see what all the noise is about (see below, the zombie is showing what a useful ex-human shield she can be):

As a finishing touch I prepare a clever piece of magic which will steal me the last treasure item. A super charged magic missile is prepared with the last of my manna. All I need is a good high dice roll (see below):

And I blow my hand off! Ow, time for my one-handed magician to re-embark on his balloon boat out of FrostGrave, feeling sorely chastised for going one spell too far. Still I have plenty of time to peruse the magical tomes on the flight home.

FrostGrave is an excellent way to recycle old AD&D figures and floor plans along with nerwer 28mm fantasy and Dark Age wargaining figures :) 

Thursday 10 September 2015

A touch of FrostGrave (I) .. Welcome back to the D&D in a Death Match scramble for Magic Items

Reeling after the intensive (but fun) game of Strategos II of First Mantinea (it has to be said, again, I seem to be on a bit of a trip here) I slumped into a chair exhausted. Obviously seeing me as an "easy picking" I was approached by a young chap with a quiet Monty Python style psst, nudge, nudge, wink, wink "Excuse me. Fancy a game of FrostGrave sir?"

With dismissive air of "Excuse me, who do you think you are talking to, I'm a serious Strategos II player, can you not see the blisters on my dice throwing hand? Don't come all 'Jack the Lad' with me young man!" The nice young chap explained the concept of the game and just to humour him I give it a go. Within five minutes of playing I knew I was going to be an addict. It all takes place in the frozen, ruined remains of a magical city, devastated by misuse of "fell lore" in the dark past and now it is inhabited by fearsome beasts guarding ancient lost relics (see below):

You control a wizard, their apprentice and a hired bunch of mercenaries (aka thugs) as you search for magical loot. You get straight into tactical action from the start (see below). My ancient Chinese wizard is guarded by his trusted Ninja (bottom right of picture) as he sends a thug to fight off my adversaries henchmen (see below, right middle):

My cunning wizard then summoned a mischievous magical imp to wreak havoc in the enemies backfield, boy I already love this game, I have already summoned a monster, something I never managed to do in my D&D career. True I often attracted monsters as a result of my actions but that is totally different story. It certainly beats being a 1hp first level D&D magic-user with a ventriloquism spell (see below):

Meanwhile guarding the back of my wizard, my apprentice impresses everybody by summoning an impassable wall to block any enemy advance while my thugs find shiny things in the shadows of the ruins (see below):

What could possibly go wrong? Stay tuned for further details ...

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Imperial TIE Interceptor: Star Wars

One of my favourite pastimes is clueless meandering through piles of model boxes in Model Shops, the more chaotic and disorganised a pile the better. Something shiny inevitably attracts my attention. In this case it was the unexpected pleasure of a finding a Revell TIE Interceptor (see below):

A nice catch to escort Lord Vader's special TIE when he takes on Red 2 and Red 6


Thursday 3 September 2015

Lost Battles/Strategos II with a Veteran Wargamer .. The Acid Test (Part II) First Mantinea 418 BC

The Argives make their momentous "march on Sparta" attack, thrusting their powerful right wing at the weak Spartan left (ahem, full of the 'suspect' Pelloponnesian "average" allies, sadly just off photograph, see below). The Argives were positioned ready to inflict a decisive round of combat, alas "next go". Meanwhile the Argive centre with its six average hoplites "took it to Sparta" with great effect, causing three casualties, of which the Spartan King Agis saved none but at least did not get himself killed in the process. The remaining Argive hoplites at the rear scurried forward to reinforce their comrades in the center before the inevitable Spartan riposte hits them (see below):

Sparta hit back hard, inflicting a savage three hits back in return on the central Argives, taking the Argives to six out of eight units spent (75%) while Sparta is only 'cruising' on (50%) themselves (see below, black counter indicates spent status):

Meanwhile the Spartan left manned with those expendable Peloponnesian allied hoplites, tickles the Argive "chosen men" on their right with a token 'hit' (hoorah) before the pseudo-Spartans are steamrolled into the ground, ow, I know what's coming as I have seen this movie before (see below):

So a round of mutual destruction follows, as the Spartan left disappears (a mere speed bump to the chosen men of Argive) a similar disaster befalls the Argive middle on a grander scale, double the number of units in fact. Note: The veteran Spartan "happily" hoplites soaked up another two hits before they destroyed the Argive centre. Each hit constituted 4VP worth of damage, which all adds up.

Cinematic direction "in slow motion" of the death if the Argive middle: 

As the first spent Argive Hoplite unit takes a second killing hit, the dreaded "don't roll a one or two" morale test is required. The result (slow motion close-up of dice being dropped and bouncing onto a 1), no more 'central' Argives. A litter trail of discarded Argive armour leads to the rear as they depart "helter skelter". Agis breathes a sigh of relief and orders his far wing right forces to turn to face the left hand threat, the day is his, but "don't count your chickens before the Helots have hatched them for you" as they say in Sparta (see below):

Out numbered by over two to one the Argives had great cause for concern, they were in a fight with a much more powerful foe that now distinctly had the upper hand. Yet they had played a textbook game and had caused the Spartans great pain but still they were on the receiving end. Frustrating to say the least. This is a cruel game of war we play and the Argives had to look deep into their hearts to see if they still had the will to fight. Indeed there was a strong argument to say that the Argives were best to retire with as much of their army intact to lessen the Spartan VPs and reduce their level of victory. There was an audible groan as Mr K to his great credit said no, he would fight on to finish the game "as history would have it".

The Argives and Spartans flung themselves headlong into each other to settle the matter, though not instantaneously, as from the Spartan perspective (me) it took an alarming number of turns (three) and the Spartans were sorely pushed. Agis himself fell  after an unsuccessful rally attempt which in turn caused the Spartans to take an "Army morale test" (which they passed to the credit of there superior quality and numbers). Now without a King the Spartans fought with a cold fury and inevitably a hit came to rest on a square full of spent Argives. The morale roll was not good enough to save them and it was over (see below, the final stand of the Argives):

Did it work as a gaming system? Mr K was unconvinced but There is something about its simplicity I like and its focus on modelling aka simulation. Certainly in comparison to Mr K's favourite miniatures rule system (Impetus) it lacked flavour, colour and a certain "edge of the seat" enjoyment factor. There was an air of predictability about the final outcome right from the start, yet that was partly my fault as I had chose this tutorial because it was so one-sided and simple in the number of troop types involved. I agreed with Mr K in that I think he had played a very good game (better than I had managed previously in his position) but there was still nothing he could do to change the course of history, but rather not lose as bad as the Argives had done. For this scenario yes, it was not finely balanced and Lost Battles simulates rather than entertains. It is not a miniatures experience although for myself I like to play on a board using miniatures as opposed to counters.

Victory Point Calculation (under the amended Lost Battle system):

Argive: 92 points
  • Killed: 1xLHC[4], 1xAHO[6], 1xUL[6] = 16
  • Routed: 2xAHO[6] +2 for each unit = 8
  • Spent: 6xVHO[24], 3xAHO[9] = 33
  • Offset: 19x3 = 57, reduced to 35 as max is half initial Spartan FV 70 = 35
Spartan: 74 Points
  • Killed: 4xAHO[24] = 24
  • Routed 3xVHO[12], 8xAHO[24] +11 for each unit = 47
  • Retired: 1xAHC[3] = 3

Outcome: Although a clear tabletop victory for Sparta the Argive (+18) outperformed his historical counterpart [by a narrow margin]

Postscript: This game was still a play-test being my fifth Strategos II/Lost Battles game. I am really grateful for Mr K putting the game system through the hoops and giving it a good stress-test with no prisoners taken. Subsequent analysis and questions raised on the Lost Battles forum has revealed that my still incomplete grasp of the rules gave the Spartans a few more advantages than they should have.

Example: Agis was not so hot as an uninspired leader so never should have been able to give his guard unit a second command bonus for example.

Additionally a few amendments that affected both sides were highlighted.

Example: When a hoplite unit moves up adjacent to an enemy hoplite unit the inevitable attack that comes at it does not receive a +1 DRM of Hoplite fighting Hoplite until both units are static

All-in-all the above would have made it a slightly harder task for the Spartans but still odds on to win the historical set-up