Sunday, April 23, 2017
First of all, I'd be very surprised if the revamp has anything to do with Mantic. To suggest that Warhammer 40k was in any way threatened by Mantic is nonsensical. Warpath to 40k is the proverbial mosquito to an elephant.....the Warpath player base in relation to 40k is a rounding error.
Second, 40k was a bloated mess. It has been 17 years since the last major reboot and the rules currently in use span three editions and ten years. Playing the game has slowed to a crawl - evidenced by the completion rate for 1850 point games at major US events like LVO etc. Power creep which had previously been related to codex release was now being driven by the freedom allowed in list building whereby the game had become seriously divorced from the fluff.
Third, GW had in AOS trialled organisational mechanisms for armies that reduced reliance on individual codexes/army books and instead used the war scroll (datasheet) as the building block. This allowed the use of keywords which meant the rules could be more streamlined. Now I have never played AOS (I have no interest in a skirmish based Fantasy game) but the people who do play seem to like it ..... more power to them.
What I don't understand is the antagonism that some people have towards GW?
GW made a business decision to blow up the Old World because they did not make as much money as they wanted from Warhammer Fantasy. What was the upshot of that? A more splintered community and the removal of 30 years of established fluff. I lament the second part more than the first.
Why? Well it got me to look at Kings of War which I never would have done without the demise of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. I'm sure that this has opened up the world of Mantica far more than anything Mantic Games could have done. My guess is that the influx of "refugees" increased the player base for KoW by orders of magnitude.
Personally I'm grateful that I found KOW as I think that the second edition is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable wargames I've played (along with 40k 3e/4e, DBM and the first three years of WHFB 8th). In fact, as I look back now I roll my eyes at some of the WHFB rules mechanisms - comparatively they seem so clunky.
It also gave us "Uncharted Empires". It is highly unlikely that this expansion would have got off the ground or received the commercial reception without GW binning WHFB. KOW players now have 21 largely balanced armies giving a greater variety of opportunity to build and play. Following on from this, I'm pretty sure that the Empire of Dust models and those of the Trident Realms owe at least a hat tip to the large player base KOW now enjoys.
Miniature wargaming needs the GWs of the industry so that companies like Mantic can flourish and grow. While they didn't create the hobby they did undoubtedly push it far more into the mainstream and gave it a high street presence.
Yes they can make decisions we all think are shitty. But they are a publicly traded company and in the end their only responsibility is long term enhancement of shareholder value. There are a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks who felt they made poor decisions (myself included) but you can't argue with their share price. From my perch it seems as though the company is far healthier than it was prior to AoS.
And just as importantly so is Mantic and Kings of War. So why the resentment?
And there was much rejoicing......
Overnight Games Workshop made the announcement that Warhammer 40k was going to a new edition. More importantly they provided some detail as to what can be expected.
Effectively, 40k will receive the Age of Sigmar treatment. As GW used to say "This is Great News".
After five editions in the current format, the level of bloat set new levels on the corpulence scale. Earlier this year I tried playing the game but the amount of extraneous detail included in the ruleset slowed the game to a crawl. The need for, even experienced players, to have to check the rules and codexes pretty much every turn suggests a ruleset struggling under the weight of bolt-on after bolt-on.
So what have GW said?
- Three ways to play - sound familiar?
- Free rules
- All models including FW can be used
- Codexes invalidated - watch the rush to eBay
- Points values included
- Three Factions - Imperium, Chaos, Xenos
This pretty much suggest Warscrolls under another name - I'm guessing Datasheets.
We are like so see other AoS mechanisms. I'm guessing that Armour will go and vehicles will get wounds. Also expect that we'll see the simplified to hit to wound rules but with weapon modifiers.
I'm very happy about this announcement as due to the bloat the game was slow and plagued by situations where there are unintended consequences. The ability to layer rules from different books written over a period of up to 10 years was silly.
A cleaner Rules skeleton with a reset of unit rules will make the game both more attractive and more accessible.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
This only works if you are "Nimble" but is worth knowing. It may save an important character or unit AND allow you to damage the enemy in return.
When you are "Wavered" you may only:
- Change facing; or
- Move backwards.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
On Saturday we had our monthly KOW day at the local club. We had people bring along 1500 point armies and decided to try out some of the new COK scenarios.
The Elves and Herd Set About Trying to Turn Back the Ravening Hordes
Doubles are a great way for players of different skill levels to interact as they tend to be less competitive. They also provide opportunities for wider discussion of rules and tactics. For new players especially, it can be a less intimidating way to learn the game.
The other benefit is that it creates a "bigger" game. We had 3000 points a side on the normal 6'x4' table. The extra 50% in points per side allows both reserve lines and greater width in the battle line. This generally makes the game more "cinematic".
My New Lycan Horde Made Their Debut
In our game Orcs and Undead took on Elves and the Herd in Scour. The Elven Herd Alliance was able to remove two Orc Hordes on the flank by hitting them hard - Guardian Brutes and Swordwind into one and a Stampede into the other. This allowed the Alliance to roll up the flank, secure the objective counters then move into the centre.
The Alliance Forces Were Victorious on this Flank.
There was one great moment in the game on Turn 1. The Orc Skulks had Vanguarded forward and took a shot at the Elven Boltthrower causing one wound. The Orcs then rolled box cars for the Nerve Check (needing 11). Re-roll for Inspired and box cars again.....take it off!
The Undead Rumble Forward Harassed By The Herd Chaff
Certainly recommend Doubles as a change from "normal" KOW games. Really social and it helps you understand a greater breadth of armies.
Monday, April 17, 2017
As mentioned in yesterday's blog post, I have been painting up the model I'm using for my Avatar of the Father in my Herd. This was one of the eight Mierce Miniatures' Monster I got for my birthday during their recent sale. It is the third of that eight I've painted up in the two and a half weeks since they arrived (so they are not sitting on the shelf!).
The Avatar is the last model I have planned for my Herd army and will mean that I have 3500 points of painted Herd.
This was quite a hard model to paint. I tried to get an inky black and found that it is very hard to achieve without the model looking very dark and detail starting to get lost. The lighting isn't the best - I must get my light box back - but you get the idea how he came out.
This is probably one of my least favourite Mierce sculpts. While it fits the description of a winged avatar, I think it is a bit contrived and awkward. The wings are nice but overall I'm not a huge fan of the model.
He comes on his own rock which I have incorporated into the 50mm square base he is on.
So that's it for the Herd, next projects are the continued basing of Goblins and then the multibasing of existing Orc and Salamander (Lizardmen) army.
My next army painting project will likely be Night Stalkers.
Sunday, April 16, 2017
I looked at the cost of the AotF in relation to the Chimera and was trying to determine its "value". It is certainly better than the Chimera but is it 110 points better? That question is one I'm still to answer - I suspect in the context of my army, it's not - but I thought I'd first look at it in relation to the other "big" flying monsters in the game.
As a basis for comparison here is a table I constructed:
The rules writers have then varied the big flyers to capture individual/race character. So what jumped out at me:
- In most cases you will get a Ranged Attack (a small minority have potential for more than one). Interestingly, these are all of the 4+ hit variety [I think it might be interesting to see a Flying Monster in future with a traditional shooting attack as a variant - probably not greatly effective though without an Attack multiplier]. The four without any kind of ranged capacity have a blue marked background.
- However the points cost of these Monsters means that you will likely want them in combat - especially Turns 2-5 - rather than taking a less aggressive stance. The really confusing one is the Vampire Dragon Lord with his two ranged attacks plus Lifeleech. He seems a real Swiss Army Knife of a unit. I can help feel that while he has tools for everything there is a real opportunity cost associated with that every game. However, I'm sure there will be times that the Surge(3) will win you a game...however it comes at both a fairly large opportunity cost and a (hopefully) small sunk cost.
- If I was looking for an army with a Ranged Attack threat on a flying monster than my choice would definitely be the Elf Dragon Lord. Not only do you get a very high attack breath weapon but you also get the benefits of Elite. This gives you an 8% higher success rate in achieving hits. The go-to Magic Item for a Shooty Big Flyer should be the Boots of Levitation for 30 points which allows a move of up to 20" then shoot.
- Speaking of Magic Items, all of the Monsters bar the three Living Legends and the Empire of Dust Bone Dragon have access to "Hero" Magical Artefacts. In the past the two "go-to" items were Ensorcelled Armour and Medallion of Life. Thankfully, those are now gone and we may see more variety in choices. I think that the Boots are a good choice but for some that rely on Thunderous Charge - Caterpillar Potion. Other choices I like are Blessing of the Gods/Chant of Hate, Blood of
the Old KingKittens or Healing Brew (if nothing else taken).
- The removal of Ensorcelled Armour and Medallion of Life has probably given the Living Legends a boost relative to their peers. My Ratkin Daemonspawn used to look enviously at 6+ Flyers but now they have been dragged back to the pack. Still the Living Legends lack the ability to customise.....
- All of these Flying Monsters - bar the Bone Dragon and Void Lurker - are Inspiring (Night Stalkers' Mindthirst being a special case). This means that they can act in a largely self-sufficient manner while still providing potential for army support.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
The Players Pack can be downloaded here
It is four rounds, 2000 points using the 2017 Clash of Kings pack. Scenarios will be randomly generated prior to the round
The event caters for all skill levels.
The first of these concerns Individuals, Line of Sight and Cover.
The actual rule - conveniently under "Individuals" - states:
“Individuals never block line of sight or offer cover against ranged attacks.”
I find that in a lot of games that people are not aware of this rule or they play it wrong. My guess is that while an Individual is effectively "invisible" for LOS or Ranged Attacks, it is "material" for movement, charge path etc.
You commonly see people spending a lot of their time positioning Individuals so they are not intervening between a unit (often another Individual) and its target for a Ranged Attack. Under the rules this is not necessary.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Over the past year I have been trying to build up themed tables of terrain based around new "mousemat" gaming cloths. Using the Norwegian Map Pack as a base I am working towards having ten pieces of themed terrain per table.
Mid-2016 I purchased Gamemat.eu's "Sands of Time" battlemat. This gave me the ideal base from which to construct an "Ophidia" themed table. I own two large plastic Sphinxes that have been painted as weathered stone but wanted to tie other terrain choices in.
In the past week I have finished an Oasis (pond) and two copses of desert palms. The base for these were GF9's BiaB terrain sets - specifically their Island Palms and Desert Oasis.
The Desert Oasis comes in a very "ultramarine" state.
To me this looks very unrealistic so I decided to make it more acceptable. To do this I got out the Realistic Water and mixed in some washes so that I achieved a dark, foreboding colour with some real depth. The water is more brackish and I think more realistic.
I've also added some marsh reeds and tufts to make it more organic.
The desert "woods" were the Island Palms with bases repainted to match the Oasis. The trees had a wash applied to their trunks and tufts were added for variety.
I can't speak highly enough of these GF9 kits as a base for themed terrain. Using them allows you to spend 1-2 hours and achieve a great result.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
The potential for there to be major clashes in approach, philosophy etc was enormous but I believe that hurdle has been conquered and the future for KOW looks "peachy". Remember two years ago in most jurisdictions Fantasy Gaming meant Warhammer Fantasy Battles. Yes, Kings of War had a loyal following but that was mostly in the UK Midlands and North. With the End Times explosion Fantasy gamers were largely cast adrift and that opened up enormous potential for conflict and culture shock as they looked for new outlets.
Now we have a far more diverse Fantasy gaming landscape with GW's Age of Sigmar, the ETC's Ninth Age and Mantic's much larger Kings of War.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
I thought I'd show a couple of things that you should be aware of, because in considerations of probabilities "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing". And just to give my thoughts some cred, I traded financial derivatives for twenty years and saw fortunes lost because people didn't understand such concepts as fat tails, long tails, volatility "smiles" and skews. The Global Financial Crisis was largely caused by people believing the numbers outputted from their "black box" computers without understanding the maths or assumptions behind both the inputs and outputs.
However this is not always the situation that confronts us. Let me use an example utilising my combat calculator "The Abacus of War":
Your opponent's Ratkin Tunnel Slave Horde has
It's not likely to happen but it is possible.
Looking at the maths there is approximately a 90% probability he'll do at least 1 wound, around 70-75% that he'll do at least 2 wounds and 50% he'll do 2.8 wounds. But what about the other side?
This is where we have a skew and a fat tail.
16% (or 1 in 6) he'll do over 4 wounds, one in 20 times he'll do 6 wounds and one in 100 he'll do almost 8. There is an infinitesimally small chance that he'll do 10+ wounds but a chance exists all the way up to 25 wounds.
The above is an example of what you would expect to see (ignore the axes). In our example the hump of the curve is centred on 2.8 while the left hand side of the curve intersects (as above) at zero. The important point is that the tail extends all the way to 25.
One thing in our favour is that the tail can be calculated - because it is a closed system of 2 dice roles with specific obtainable outcomes (0 to 25). In real life (finance, economics etc) things aren't that simple ..... that's why you seem to get 100 year floods every 10 years!
The overall takeaway is that be careful what you "expect". Mathhammer is a great tool but be aware of the underlying assumptions.
Sunday, April 9, 2017
I have a bunch of Winter terrain that the local GW gave me about 10-12 years ago. It includes some buildings that they built for their "Kislev" themed table at the time of the Storm of Chaos campaign.
Over the years I have built hills to match and grabbed a Snowy Terrain F.A.T. Mat to go with it. Last week I picked up some winter ponds from GF9 and over the last few days have worked on them to create frozen ponds for my "Kislev".
The ponds come very unadorned so first I filled the water area with Realistc Water resin and used snow flock to build drifts in the pond and snow on top of the ice.
I then added Winter Tufts onto the bare areas before sprinkling flock all around.by one pond I placed a log then built up drifts on and around it. Finally I sprinkled a series of light coats of flock over the earth areas to approximate newly fallen snow. Both ponds were then sealed with Scenic Cement which you spray on to fix the piece ensuring nothing comes off.
You can see the finished ponds on my table and they fit nicely into the frozen wastes theme. They also will provide the low difficult terrain that the game suggests.
Very happy how they turned out for minimal - USD 25 - cost and about two hours work. They will provide the necessary terrain variation that the table needed, are easy to store and should last pretty much forever.
Saturday, April 8, 2017
For any local or Greater Wellington Region gamers, next Saturday April 18 is the regular monthly KOW Day at the Warlords.
This month we are organising some fun doubles games for KOW players or those interested in trying the game. Currently there are six definite starters but there is room for many many more.
Bring along a 1500 point army and be ready to go. For those that don't have an army I'll be bringing along 2-3 extra so you can just turn up and try the game out. Doubles is a great way to get into the game as we'll assign you a partner that can guide you through the game so you learn while you play.
If you are at all interested in playing KOW - or even if you think you might be this is a great opportunity to try it out.
Warlords meet at KPC Hall in Ganges Road, Khandallah.
This morning I added the final touches to my Lycan Horde, blooding them so to speak.
I used some Secret Weapon Miniatures' "Drying Blood" across the area first. This gives the final effect some depth and also represents the after effects of a hunt.
I then applied a couple of thin coats of GW Technical Paint "Blood for the Blood God" and let it dry. Finally I gave the "wet" areas a light coat of gloss varnish to seal it.
Happy with the way it turned out. I think it captures their bestial Nature.
Friday, April 7, 2017
One aspect of Kings of War that I believe works really well are the Terrain rules. What I mean by that is that I think that the rules writers have got the impact and interaction of terrain with units pretty well set at the right level.
As a person that has come from WHFB (and before that 40k), the specifics around terrain have always been an area where the balance has never been achieved. Both of the GW systems have swung wildly from where the rules overly impacted the game to that where they had little effect. In some cases different types were at different points along the spectrum within the same edition.
The Use of Terrain Enhances the Immersive Wargaming Experience
Terrain has two main functions in my view. Firstly, it makes the game look so much better. To me, the opportunity to play a game on a realistic backdrop enhances the experience as much as a well painted army or a nicely presented display board. It does however seem to be the arm of the hobby that is most easily neglected, unfortunately.
The second function is to reinforce the strategic aspect of the game. Judicious use of terrain influenced by clear to understand rules makes a wargame so much more of a tactical challenge to participants. And it is here where I think KOW has got the balance right.
KOW defines three (effective) classes of terrain and then uses a system of Heights that interact with army units. This two prong methodology allows an easy to understand classification system for terrain pieces by which players can make tactical decisions which reward considered analysis.
Effectively using a category-classification (Obstacle, Difficult Terrain and Blocking Terrain) provides clarity in a way I have not seen used as well in other systems. Yes, it can be a bit abstract but it captures the clear function of terrain with the benefit of being easy to apply.
Is it perfect? No, the Rules Committee have identified that the system would be better if it had a small shift in Height classification (they have suggested adding +1 to all Heights would make it more easily understood).
There are other possible amendments that could potentially be added - combat modifier in relation to hills e.g. Charging downhill, charging uphill or possessing higher ground. Alternatively existing mechanisms such as Hindered might be applied in certain circumstances.
Another area is possible building rules. However I acknowledge that there is a delicate balance between adding greater challenge against unnecessarily complicating the game.
But overall I think that the authors have done a good job in making terrain meaningful without it being overbearing.
And no discussion of terrain would be complete without a shout out to Epic Dwarf and their terrain maps. Though I'm a recent convert the density and setup of terrain in these maps really complement the game.
Sparkstone [10 Points] - This unit has a Ranged Attack with a range of 18" that may only target enemy Heroes, Monsters and War Engines. Roll a single dice to hit, needing 4+ to hit regardless of modifiers. If a hit is scored, the target unit is disordered during its next turn.
First of all it is the unit or individual's one magic item. Would you want to fill that slot with this item over another? Personally I think items like Healing Brew or Dwarven Ale have better utility at the same or lesser cost for units or Amulet of the Fireheart for an Individual. For a few points more you can get Brutal or Fury.
Second, for it to be used then your target may not be charged that Turn or it won't be a legitimate target. Even the unit except that with the lowest combat stats is likely to inflict one wound on an enemy which achieves the same Disordered result. I'd say non-Individuals will likely achieve this in 95%+ of cases especially with triple attacks against
I'm sure that there will be cases where situationally it has proved useful but I don't see it becoming a staple in all-comer tournament lists. There are other items that offer wider utility - in that they will always be used - with a higher expected payoff.
Nice item, but I'd save it for narrative games.
Thursday, April 6, 2017
This will be held at St. Pat's College Hall in Kilbirnie and will follow the usual multi-event format. You can find out further details at the Warlords' website
Expect to see Players Packs uploaded over coming weeks but you can expect to see the following games offered:
- Kings of War
- Warhammer 40k
- Flames of War
- Age of Sigmar
- Historical Ancients (DBMM)
I love the "convention" experience and Call to Arms is traditionally the best of the type in New Zealand. Hope to see a lot of new and old faces along.
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
I wanted to add a second Lycan Horde to The Herd. Luckily Mierce's recent sale of Monsters allowed me to pick up two Werewolf models. Both of these are mid size range and stand about 70mm at the shoulder when on all fours.
Both models are quite feral which fits well with The Herd. The front "paws" are very human hand-like while the rest is all wolf.
You can see that the two models fill the 120mm x 80mm base pretty much fully so I'm hoping that the "rule of cool" gets you past MMC.
Obviously these are Large Infantry, so Height 2. The models are probably a little big for Height 2 but I'll make sure opponents are aware of their gaming size.
The base is mdf from Sarissa Precision with magnetic sheeting on the bottom. I've used gravel as the rocks and a twig from the garden as fallen log. The sand has been PVA'd onto the mdf and then I have used some GW Aggrallen Earth to get the dried mud.
Finally I have used a mix of tufts to filled out the base to represent broken ground. I want to add some leaves as ground cover and will do that once the tufts are fixed.
Here's the General's eye view of the unit. Happy with how they turned out and expecting big things on the table.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
I met up with Josh down at the Warlords on Saturday and we got two games played in just under three hours. Josh was using his Orcs while I had the Herd. We played Pillage then Loot. In the first I was able to stretch the Orcs wide before using my greater mobility to concentrate force. We had a chat about deployment after the first game and Josh kept things much tighter. At the end of the game I was 2-0 up but if we had had a 7th Turn the Orcs would have won 2-1. Good games and a lot of fun.
The early part of the week was spent building the Mierce monster haul I got for my birthday. I also continued painting the Tabletop World River Mill and now have pretty much all the base colours done. The detail work starts now and I am hoping that I can get it to a stage whereby I can start building a base for it this weekend.
The last 3-4 days I have been working on my Lycan Horde. Here I'm using two of the Mierce Norse-inspired werewulfs. They are painted and have been based. I am now detailing the base and should have pictures up soon. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I hit a "hump" early on but have worked through it and am now happy with how they are turning out.
On Saturday I confirmed the venue for "Runefang" which will be on the first weekend in June (long weekend here in New Zealand). Looking at having a one day event (four rounds) on the Saturday and a large multiplayer battle on the Sunday. Details will be posted soon.
Monday, April 3, 2017
I am absolutely convinced that there is a point in the painting of most models where your output looks "disappointing" and not how you envisaged that it will turn out.
Sunday, April 2, 2017
We played Pillage first and then had a game of Loot. It was in that second game that I got "corkscrewed". A lot of experienced players will know the "corkscrew" and Nick William from the Rules Committee dedicated a couple of posts on his blog a few months ago to describing it in detail. I recently touched on it on this site when I was describing the "50mm rule" for allowable pivots.
So what does it involve?
Essentially it occurs when a unit that is facing off with a unit turns and hits another unit (usually in the flank). At that point there is usually a smug look of self-satisfaction on the face of the player who pulled it off (basing it on my own use) and a deflated look of "That can't be right!" and "Crap, I've fallen for it again" on that of the charged player.
I'll use Nick's diagrams to illustrate (two reasons - 1: I know they are right and 2: I'm lazy and it's Sunday morning):
- The charging unit (the Giant) can see the facing of the unit it wants to charge (side of Lycan Horde);
- That the facing it can see is in its front charge arc;
- That the charging unit (A) can do a single pivot of 90 degrees and finish clear of the facing unit (B). Because it is a charge there does not need to be a 1" gap between them (but in this case whatever gap there was will be preserved as Chimera is on square base); and
- It is a straight line to its target (there are exceptions for units with Nimble).