Monday, March 31, 2014

Battle Report: Space Wolves vs. Chaos on my New Alpine MegaMat

For those not aware of it, the MegaMat was a Kickstarter from TableWar and Frontline Gaming. I've been looking for something like this for a long time and both the designs and product quality were on the mark for me. The mat arrived a couple of weeks ago now. It comes in a carry bag but due to the width of the mat it wouldn't really be practical to transport around if you didn't have a car. Great for me though as when I want to switch back to using my home-made realm of battle board I can simple roll up the mat and lay out the tiles.

I'm impressed with the quality of the product. Up close the print is a little blurry but you really have to be studying it to notice. The mat instantly changed the look of my table without messing about trying to achieve the same results with my meagre skills and lack of free time. There were four different designs on offer (I think). I was tempted by the Urban one which cleverly incorporates the deployment zones with roads for the straight ones and flares for the diagonals. However, I've mentioned before that I wanted a snow/ice themed board so the Alpine mat was always going to be my favourite. Hopefully owning the mat will encourage me to work on some snowy scenery to go with it. I've already started painting some up but I've got to do some research and experiments with creating the right snowy look. Apparently the mat is waterproof but I have to say I didn't dare test it! The other nice thing about it is how dice sound when rolled on it. I know that seems ridiculous but there genuinely is something pleasing about the sound it makes!

Anyway, Matt and I had a game on it a couple of weeks back with me trying out DE with beasts and Matt running an interesting marines list with centurions. Unfortunately, I've struggled to find the time to write it up and I've not forgotten most of the details. Luckily, we've since had another game on the board and if anything Space Wolves are a better fit for a snowy scene. We'd be playing the Control Freak mission from Blog Wars as a bit of a test of the scenario.

I was running a mech heavy list as a bit of a throw back to 5th edition. My list featured Logan and some terminators in a land raider, Arjac with some grey hunters in a drop pod, two rhinos with grey hunters, a lone wolf, a vindicator and a dakka predator. Matt was running a Crimson Slaughter army with a lord on a bike with a unit of possessed, Kharn with more possessed in a land raider, a defiler, two units of plaguebearers and a bloodthirster. It's been a long time since we've run lists like this and it's amazing how few models you get when you've got land raiders and expensive characters.

Matt won the roll off and elected to go first. He could only a strip a hull point from the vindicator and immobilise one of my rhinos. No first blood for him then. The bloodthirster had deployed a portalglyph though so I spied a chance for an easy first blood for me (I'd forgotten that this mission doesn't actually use First Blood as a secondary - you'd think I'd remember since I wrote it!) and stopped any more daemons appearing. I'd also dropped Arjac in to try and take out Kharn's land raider but he missed with his hammer and despite hitting the meltagunner in his squad couldn't penetrate the armour scoring 13. Logan and his terminators lined up to bring down the bloodthirster and then hopefully engage it in combat with help from the lone wolf. Sadly the combined shooting of the land raider and the terminators didn't score a single hit so the daemon stayed aloft. The nearby grey hunters faired better though, with help from the vindicator they were able to kill off more than half of the possessed squad and wound the lord. With two of the objectives in my hands and one contested I was off to a good start, 2-0 at the end of turn 1.

The defiler killed off a swathe of grey hunters with its battle cannon but failed to charge into combat (Matt forgot it has Fleet). The plaguebearers nearby decided to charge in but were wiped out with help from daemonic instability. The lord and his possessed charged the grey hunters but with counter-attack and the extra attack from Logan the wolves killed off the remaining possessed. Sadly, the wolf guard couldn't kill the lord with his power fist which would prove costly. Kharn and his possessed sprang from their land raider and piled into combat with Logan (Kharn took a wound on the way in as his pistol got hot!). Meanwhile the land raider fired its lascannons at the lone wolf who failed both of his storm shield saves. Logan ended up in a challenge with the champion preventing him from getting at Kharn who chewed through all four terminators with gorechild!! Logan easily dispatched the champion so there'd be no hiding for Kharn next turn. The bloodthirster smashed into the land raider and easily tore it apart.

Arjac and his meltagunner pack mate were able to destroy the defiler although I'd been hoping the other squad might destroy it to free up Arjac for another shot at the land raider. The vindicator and predator combined to banish all but one of the newly arrived plaguebearers back to the warp. The lord was now in combat with the grey hunters on his own but with T6 and 2+ save he wasn't going anywhere unless the wulfen could rend. I'm normally pretty jammy when rolling for the wulfen's attacks but not this time as I rolled pretty low every combat. Logan had opted use the Axe Morkai as a power fist so Kharn would be striking first but would almost certainly be killed if he couldn't down the great wolf. Sadly, he wounded 5 times and Logan failed four of his 4++ belt saves and the great wolf was slain.

Fearing reprisal from the vindicator kharn and his remaining possessed jumped back into their land raider which turn its attention to the predator and ripped through it with lascannon fire. Meanwhile the bloodthirster swept across Arjac's unit who took less casualties from the vector strike than Matt was hoping as Arjac made his saves. The obliterator arrived from deep strike and scattered on top of the vindicator causing him to be misplaced but he'd still be able to get into the fight next turn. The remaining plaguebearer moved onto the central objective at this point the score was something like 4-2.

With the bloodthirster contesting the objective Arjac needed to deal with it. The nearby grey hunters were able to bring it down and with help from Arjac's squad they were able to bring it down to a single wound to give Arjac the best possible chance. The bloodthirster challenged Arjac to prevent him using the grey hunters as ablative wounds. Grimnar's champion managed to survive with a single wound but despite 3+ to hit with a re-roll he only scored two hits from his 5 attacks (my re-roll scored three 1s). One of the two hits failed to wound and the bloodthirster passed his invulnerable save. Arjac may have missed his chance. Meanwhile the drop pod and one of the rhinos fired their storm bolters and killed off the single plaguebearer. The lord finally finished off the wulfen who'd failed on multiple attempts to rend whilst the lord kept using IWND to get back to full wounds.

Kharn and his possessed again charged from the land raider, this time into the grey hunters from the immobilised rhino. Kharn killed off the wolf guard in a challenge but unfortunately for him all of the possessed died around him so in the next phase he was finished off by the grey hunters after fluffing his attacks. The bloodthirster managed to cause three wounds on Arjac who was fortunate to pass all of his shield saves. Yet again though he failed to bypass the daemon's invulnerable save which stopped three hits this time! The next round was different though, Arjac again passed his saves (jammy I know) but this time his hammer hit home and just managed to cause a single wound (Matt was pretty jammy with his saves again) and slay the beast.

Matt was now left with just the obliterator and the biker lord. The obliterator was struggling with range and with the fact that I kept using a rhino to block the vindicator. Luckily for him though the vindicator missed it's mark when it tried to strike him down. The biker lord was forced to finish the job with his power fist but all the while I was scoring points on the left hand objective. Arjac made his way into the middle and charged in on the land raider, smashing his hammer through its thick plate and causing a devastating explosion. This attracted the attention of the biker lord who struck him down with his fist, only taking a single wound in return.

It was too little too late though and the game ended on turn 6 (this mission is limited to five turns but I forgot again!). It ended with a 10-4 victory to me but it felt a lot closer than that.

Once again Arjac Rockfist demonstrates why I love him so much and why it always amazes me that he gets overlooked so much. I can understand that there wasn't a model for a while but the WG terminators kit always offered an easy conversion and now there's a genuine model. Of course with two wounds he's prone to a premature death from time to time but if you can roll those 2+/3++ saves you're golden. Being able to re-roll against ICs and MCs is crucial (when it works) and Eternal Warrior makes him that bit more frustrating. Anyway, I'm sure there's a dozen posts about him on here so I'll shut up now.

Arjac finally meets his demise
This game could've been very different though. It would have been a lot easier for me if Kharn hadn't killed those terminators as with the extra attack from Logan, combined with Counter-Attack and Preferred Enemy would surely have resulted in the possessed being cut down. Similarly, Kharn was fairly lucky (but not overly so) to kill off Logan before he struck back. If Logan had at least one wound left he'd have massacred Kharn with his axe on power fist mode and then wiped out the possessed in the following round with his axe on frost blade mode making the most of I5. Once out of that combat he'd have been a real thorn in Chaos' side.

On the flip side, the game could've been very different for Matt if he'd been able to charge with his defiler. It didn't help that he forgot about Fleet but even so not getting into combat with Arjac and then subsequently not killing many with the vector strike from the bloodthirster really messed up Matt's plans. Having said that though I really should've been able to kill the defiler or land raider in the first turn.

Anyway, more importantly it was another opportunity to test out the mission. I have to say I'm a huge fan of it and I hope the players at Blog Wars 7 like it too. Given that tabling isn't an option you literally have no choice but to try to get on the objectives early and stay there. Obviously speedy armies are at an advantage here but they tend to be either flimsy (DE) or have a low model count (Ravenwing). Of course it isn't perfect, going first gives an advantage if you can get on the objectives without response but then you've commited early and might regret it later. It forces players to think differently about their tactics and that, to me at least, can never be a bad thing. Hopefully Emperor's Relic will have the same effect and encourage bloody skirmishes in the middle of the board.

Something I want to finish on (sorry I know this has been a long post already) is that this game was a hell of a lot of fun for both of us. This was probably mostly due to it being a 5th edition style game with me running a mech list from a 5th edition codex and Matt resisting the temptation to bring a Heldrake (which would've undoubtedly swung the game in Matt's favour). I'm keen to try more games in this style where there aren't tons of flyers and there are more vehicles around.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rebel Aces Expansion for X-wing Announced

Hot on the heels of the wave 4 announcement. Fantasy Flight have posted up details of the new Rebel Aces expansion pack. This appears to be in a similar vein to the Imperial Aces pack which I believe should be in shops round about now. Like the Imperial equivalent the ships featured are existing models but they're sporting alternative paint schemes which is a nice touch to give your squadrons some variety. Unlike the Imperial Aces pack, however, this new Rebel version features two different ships, namely an A-wing and a B-wing.

As a predominantly Rebel player I'll be compelled to buy this set no matter what but from the looks of the pilots and extra rules it brings I'll want it anyway. I'm impressed with the way FFG does things when it comes to announcing their new sets way ahead of time. I wish GW would learn a thing or two from them. Just because I know it's coming more than a week before it actually appears doesn't stop me from wanting it the second it comes out!

Mind you, I wish FFG could replicate GW's supply chain as they're ships seem eternally out of stock and their release dates seem sketchy at best. Still I'll certianly pick one of these sets up when I can get my hands on one. In the mean time head over to the FFG site to read their run-down

Monday, March 10, 2014

X-Wing Battle Report - Darth Vader makes his presence felt

It's been a while since Matt and I have managed to get a game of X-wing in. We'd fully intended to play several games but the 40K game we played in the morning (more on that tomorrow) took up more time than we expected. Anyway, since our last game Matt has picked up the TIE Advanced expansion which gives him access to Darth Vader so we had to include him in our game. Here's what we fielded:

Rebel Alliance (100pts - Me)
Chewbacca in YT-1330 w/ Millennium Falcon title (gives Evade)
Luke Skywalker (X-wing)
Wedge Antilles (X-wing)

Empire (100pts - Matt)
Darth Vader (TIE Advanced) w/ Veteran Instincts (+2 PS)
Bounty Hunter (Firespray) w/ Heavy Laser Cannon
Academy Pilot (TIE Fighter)
Alpha Squadron Pilot (TIE Interceptor)

I'd originally decided to give Veteran Instincts to Wedge but since Matt was fielding Darth Vader I thought it would be rude not to use the point to make it the actual Millennium Falcoin. Remember this for later though. As usual the Rebels would be outnumbered and Darth Vader is pretty damn good. Hopefully the Falcon could make up the difference. Once again we were just playing to the death.

Battle Report
Matt advanced all his ships forward at a a fair tilt but I thought I'd try and be clever and split my ships up after deploying them close together. Sadly, I misjudged my moves so I'd definitely hit asteroids with both the Falcon and Luke. I'd also managed to drop Luke in range of Vader who stripped a shield away with his opening volley. Luckily both ships didn't take damage from their collisions with the asteroids but they still took fire. At least this time they were able to put out some damage too.

I then reconverged my ships in the centre as the Empire ships performed the obligatory koiogran turns to end up behind the Rebels. Shots were exchanged stripping shields from the firespray and Vader plus some from the Falcon and the remaining shield from Luke. The next turn's manoeuvres were all incredibly close but somehow all the ships managed to avoid colliding with each other.

Concentrated fire on the Falcon somehow resulted in it being left with a single hull point (Darth caused 4 damage) allowing a lowly TIE fighter to cut it down. It wasn't all bad for the Rebels though as the firespray and interceptor were both blown from the sky.

Darth and the remaining TIE had been damaged earlier so Matt wasn't confident he'd be able to take down both X-wings before his ships were blown up. Unfortunately for me I helped him out a lot with my next set of moves. Wedge misjudged his koiogran and ended up overlapping Darth meaning he couldn't turn but still took stress. This left Luke very exposed. He'd only got two hull points left but Darth only scored two hits. Sadly I rolled a double blank meaning he was destroyed and Wedge wasn't able to target anything.

It'd now be up to Wedge to finish off both TIEs to win the game. Luckily his X-wing was in pretty good shape though. The trouble was that thanks to yet another failed koiogran he ended up with Darth on his tail. He eventually managed to put himself in a position where he could kill either the TIE or Darth and chose to kill the TIE who was yet to fire. This proved costly though as, after a few nifty moves, Darth and Wedge were nearly face to face. Darth's higher pilot skill proved to be the determining factor here as he gunned down Wedge before he could retaliate.

Interestingly, had I resisted the fluffy option of calling it the Millennium Falcon and kept Wedge's Veteran Instincts it would've been mutual destruction!!

There were several points in this game where it looked like it would be a pretty one sided affair. I cocked up right from the off and put myself in a really difficult position. Once again I gave too much thought to my own moves and not enough to where I expected Matt to put his ships. There's an element of chess with X-wing where you have to predict what your opponent is going to do as much as think about what you're doing and that's where I was lacking this time.

It's the first time the YT-1300 has been shot down (although we've only used it 3 times). It's still excellent though with it's huge amount of "wounds" and 360 arc of fire. Luke was pretty underwhelming though as he didn't really make the most of his defensive bonuses and died a little prematurely. Wedge was the star of the show for the Rebels then, even though I forgot his special ability a couple of times.

Darth Vader is as impressive as I expected. Being able to carry out two actions is a big deal as he can often barrel roll into range 1 or out of his target's fire arc whilst still getting a target lock. It's rare for him to fire without a lock which compensates for his relatively low damage output. He's difficult to handle!

Somehow the game ended up incredibly close and yet again it felt very balanced regardless of the ships in use. The game flows a fast pace and the whole thing only took an hour. I'm totally obsessed with this game now and can't wait for our next encounter. We really ought to start playing through them missions a bit more and trying out more ships. I've got a Y-wing and HWK that I haven't put to use yet so they'll have to get an outing next time. I'm hoping the next session will be in a couple of weeks so stay tuned for that.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Battle Report - Chaos vs Angels of Death - 3000pt Doubles

You might remember that last month Dan, Jamie, Matt and I had a big doubles game which saw the Imperium of Man take on the Tyranid horde. The teams were shuffled around this time with Jamie and I fielding the Angels of Death (BA/DA) against Dan and Matt's forces of Nurgle (CD/CSM). In the spirit of a friendly, fluffier game, I'd be fielding a pile of ravenwing bikes but without the somewhat obligatory darkshroud and banner. My list consisted of Sammael, three units of bikes, two attack bikes, a land speeder, a big unit of black knights with an allied SM detachment featuring a libby on a bike, tactical squad in a rhino and a stormtalon (represented by a nephilim). It's a real shame I can't justify the real Nephilim but with the 40pt price difference and lack of Hover there really isn't any contest with the talon.

Jamie's half of our army consisted of a reclusiarch, sanguinary priests, jump pack assault squad, 5-man assault squad in a razorback, tactical squad in a rhino, death company and DC dread in a stormtalon, attack bike and a baal predator. The chaos forces consisted of two flying princes, plague drones, plaguebearers with heralds, great unclean one, Cypher with a big squad of CSM, plague marines, bikes, Typhus, soul grinder, obliterator and a defiler.

We were playing the Scouring with Dawn of War deployment. Jamie and I got the first turn so we deployed our bikes spread out with the theory being that if our opponents tried a refused flank deployment we'd have the speed to cover the ground. We also combat squaded everything we could. Whilst bigger squads would be better at tieing up enemy combat units we'd lose less when being shot at. Additionally there'd be less chance of our firepower being wasted on smaller units. Well all that and the fact that we'd got to try and cover as many objectives as possible to spread out the Chaos forces and hopefully weaken them.

Our opponents didn't try the refused flank and instead deployed their forces to match ours. Cypher and his large unit of nurgle CSM infiltrated near the centre of the board. They'd need to be dealt with early on. This was obvious bait but we couldn't afford to ignore them. Similarly the defiler and soul grinder would be a big problem for our foot troops. We were able to get a melta in range straight away thanks to scout moves but despite penetrating it's armour the daemonic invulnerable save prevented any damage. The bikes holding the melta would now surely feel the wrath of the great unclean one. Pretty much everything else focussed on Cypher and his unit. Sadly Cypher was giving his unit a 3+ cover save which was often 2+ with Night Fighting. Still, the combination of black knights (who helped out with their rad grenades) and ravenwing bikers the squad was cut down to size. We'd failed to kill anything for First Blood though.

Looking across the board we were concerned we'd over commited our bikes too early as we were well within range of everything in the Chaos horde. Unsurprisingly the GUO killed off the small squad of bikes who'd failed to destroy the defiler. The plague drones and daemon princes shot forwards with the drones engaging a squad of bikes in combat whilst the princes used their breath of chaos (I think) to kill off a pile of bikes. Meanwhile the chaos bikes, defiler and soul grinder cut swathes of bikes down. The bikes then charged their opposite numbers and caused them to fall back. I can't recall the exact number but I think we lost something like 18 bikes in the first turn alone!

Luckily both of our flyers arrived but thanks to classic cheesy play from Matt the flying daemon prince claimed a cover save from touching area terrain which was then boosted by Shrouded. The daemon prince was at least grounded but it still had a couple of wounds left. Meanwhile the BA attack bike and assault squads from the rhino and razorback tried to destroy the chaos rhino but failed. The jump pack squad tried the same with the baal predator lined up to flame the occupants. Once again the meltaguns failed to destroy their target. The predator had now nicely lined itself up as the GUO's next victim and the assault squad was forced to charge the rhino to destroy it. Meanwhile one of the DA attack bikes came on behind the defiler and penetrated it's armour with it's multimelta. Once again the defiler made it's 5+ save. Another ravenwing combat squad tried the same with a melta to the face of the soul grinder and once again the 5+ save was made. After an abysmal turn of shooting out only hope of causing any damage was the black knights charging Cypher and his unit and catching the DP in a multi-charge.

Sammael decided to take on the DP on his own whilst the Cypher challenged the black knight huntmaster. The prince struck out at Sammael but luckily he survived on a single would and was even more lucky when he managed to wound twice and kill off the prince! Meanwhile the knights killed off the remaining CSM in Cypher's squad. It was all down to the huntmaster now who miraculously managed to kill off Cypher too giving us 3 VP into the bargain. I wasn't convinced this was enough to turn the game around but it was certainly a big blow to our enemies. Even better when they realised they'd forgotten to the deploy the portalglyph (that Dan had converted up from some false teeth!).

Now we were in trouble as the Heldrake arrived. The combination of Heldrake and Daemon Prince saw off the black knights, librarian and Sammael with just their vector strikes and flamers. At least this left the DP out of combat and on the ground. The drones finished off their bikes and moved to take on the DA tactical squad who were tucked up in their rhino. The GUO easily smashed his way through the baal predator. The plague marines in the rhinos now targetted the blood angels. The bikers helped them by charging the jump packers. The defiler had forgotten all about the attack bike behind it but fortunately for our opponents the nearby squad of plaguebearers was able to get into combat with the bike.

Another attack bike was able to outflank right behind his comrade but suffered the same issue with defiler AGAIN making it's invulnerable save. The flyers teamed up to try and down the heldrake but failed. The stormraven disgorged it's occupants with the death company charging the daemon prince and the DC dread taking on some plaguebearers.

The chaos forces struck back with the soul grinder charging the DC dread. The drones weren't able to destroy the DA rhino but stripped two hull points from it. Our right flank had pretty much completely folded and things weren't getting better as Typhus arrived from deep strike to wade in to the combats in the centre of the board. The obliterator came in too and destroyed the BA rhino.

Victory seemed nearly impossible at this point but we still had some hope as thanks to the Scouring the land speeder and stormtalon would be scoring. The DA tac squad hopped out of their rhino to try and cut down the drones but could only kill one and suffered a charge from them as punishment. Luckily they were able to win out though and cling to their objective. That was until the heldrake came into contest it.

In the last turn we tried some desperation tactics and used the speeder and talon to contest our opponents' objectives whilst we tried to destroy the heldrake to reclaim our objective. It was too little too late though as the soul grinder took down the speeder (having dispatched the DC dread. Still the game finished 14-9 which was a lot closer than it felt.

To me our defeat game down to our inability to destroy vehicles even with half range melta. The soul grinder and defiler passed five or six 5+ invulnerable saves so they kept on shooting and whittling down our forces. Neither rhino fell to melta preventing us from charging the occupants. Not destroying these vehicles was huge but made more so by the fact that it left us exposed to reprisals.

Both Typhus (who was deep striking) and the GUO are pretty easily avoided with an army as mobile as ours but thanks to getting bogged down a lot of the time they were able to get stuck in. The other key factor was the widespread high toughness. Our army wasn't high on numbers due to the relative expense of bikes but their weaponry was better at dealing with high toughness than ours.

There could be a debate about whether we should've taken first turn or not. Being able to directly counter the powerhouses of the chaos forces would've been useful and we'd have been able to use our speed to dictate the terms of the battle. Not only that but we'd have been able to cover the objectives in the later turns with less chance of reprisal. Trouble is, with a bike army you really feel like you need to go first to make the most of the scout moves and ensure those Jink saves are available.

I can't say I especially enjoyed this game at the time. There were several instances of our tactics falling flat thanks to poor dice on our part or jammy dice on theirs. If we'd even killed one of their vehicles in that fateful turn 2 then things may have been very different. I must apologise to the group though as I was pretty mardy towards the end of the game.

Anyway, hopefully things will be much more fun in our next big game for which we'll be upping the ante to 4,000 points to see the Imperium (Matt/Jamie) face off against the Greenskins (Me/Dan). The Orks will be fielding a couple of stompas and our scouts report they'll be facing off against a baneblade, warhound and imperial knight. I'm (for the most part) enjoying these big games, not only because I love doubles but also because we're trying to minimise the amount of dirt/cheese in use.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Dark Angels Nephilim Jetfighter - Airbrushing Progress

Apologies for the lack of activity recently. I've spent a couple of long weekends in Ireland with the in-laws and it feels rude to sit there blogging! Anyway, hopefully I'll get back up to speed this week.

You may recall that I recently picked up an airbrush set from eBay. In my first airbrushing post I showed the kit I picked up and my early efforts with it. You can view it here. The first thing I tried was to simply basecoat a vehicle with it to see how even the coverage was, play around with paint consistencies and try my hand at masking. I was fairly pleased with the results but the main thing was that I learned a lot about how to use the airbrush.

We've recently played a 3,000pt battle of Angels of Death (BA/DA) against the forces of Chaos and I wanted to use this an excuse to get my DA painted up. This gave me an opportunity to try my hand at "blending" with the airbrush. I use the inverted commas because it isn't the same kind of process as wet blending with a regular paintbrush. When you see the images of the Nephilim Jetfighter it often features a white to blue fade effect on the wings, as you can see below in the image taken from GW's site:

Now, I'm sure there was probably an article on the GW website claiming this was done using wet blending but having tried it out with my airbrush I'm convinced the Eavy Metal team must've used an airbrush too. Anyway, I mixed up some Calgar Blue with Ceramite White to create a pale sky blue colour. This was then liberally sprayed over the wings of the flyer. Once this had tried I thinned down some pure white and simply sprayed it over the top taking care to only apply a minimal amount over the wing "tips". That's it. Simple as that. Here's what the flyer looked like after those two coats:

I then carefully painted the black back in around the newly sprayed area. I'm blown away by the result and how easy it was to achieve. I could've perhaps masked the white area and sprayed the black on but I didn't dare mess up my clean white wings.

Obviously the rest of the model needs a lot of work yet but needless to say this has filled me with confidence for using the airbrush so expect to see it used a lot more in my upcoming hobby work.


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