Saturday 4 June 2016

Painting the Zone Mortalis board

With our resident painting extraordinaire (other than Angel!) taking it upon himself to paint the Zone Mortalis board which was purchased using club funds to kickstart 30k gaming at the club and give us a unique selling point as a club to entice new gamers (fresh blood?!), and interest on his Twitter, he has kindly written up an explanatory 'how to' guide about the process. So without further ado...!

Hi Chaps @secret40kgeek here to give you a quick run down of how the clubs new zone mortalis table was painted up and the techniques employed throughout.


So after ordering the Forge World bundle which comprised of 16 tiles and 4 small and 2 large blast door sets I went about deciding which colour scheme i wanted to paint up. I had a look around online and on the FW website for inspiration on colour schemes etc. I decided that although I liked the beige looking FW board I wasn’t too keen on it being the inside of a space ship in the 31st millennium as it reminded me too much of 60’s/70’s interior decorating. I also liked the look of some of the darker and grey interiors as it's more in line with what I envisage a ship would look like. However, I thought that an all grey board may appear too dark when playing games so i compromised and went for a grey base with the beige walls…. and of course it wouldn’t look grim dark without lots of weathering and grime!

So to start off I used Halfords grey primer and at £8 a can i only needed 2 to undercoat all 16 tiles.


With the undercoat down I then airbrushed GW’s Eshin grey around the edges of each square panel to make it darker towards the outside and give some depth to each section. i then painted the bits in between by hand with Leadbelcher (tedious task) and trying not to get any on the grey panels.


At this point I had’t completely made my mind up on on the colours for the walls so decided to make a start on the the complex tiles and because hazard stripes look cool (and because Dan insisted on hazard stripes) I decided this would be the place to do them. So I first sprayed the tiles with AK interactive heavy chipping fluid thinned down a little then I used masking tape to square off the inner section between the 4 grills and airbrushed the square black.


Once this had dried I then lined up some masking tape diagonally across the square using a second strip to measure the width before placing the next strip, which helped to keep a consistent line direction going across. It was quite simple to line up against each of the square corners.


I then airbrushed GW’s Averland Sunset as the base colour on top of the black. This was looking quite flat and wasn’t covering very well so i mixed a little Skragg brown in and airbrushed it in around the edges of the square panels wherever they met under the masking tape. This helped to give depth but was quite dark so I then went in with some Yriel Yellow to lighten it up in spots.


Then came the satisfying bit of pulling off the masking tape to see the results!!! I was lucky there was no bleeding below the tape, but also when I pulled the tape up, it pulled off some of leadbelcher and primer off the panels on the outer squares.

At first I was fuming but then I realised it looked like natural damage that would occur and added an extra level of weathering before i started with the washes and weathering powder.

The next step was to wet my toothbrush and then gently start to rub the striped sections to activate the AK chipping fluid and scratch away the yellow and black to reveal scratches worn patches. I then sponged on some additional damage and brushed on some FW ‘light earth’ weathering powder in random patches before i then airbrushed the whole tile with nuln oil and then again with agrax earthshade.

I then made up a varnish wash concoction using 1 part Nuln Oil to 1 part Agrax Earthshade to 1 part Lahmian Medium to 1 part Gloss Varnish and then generously painted this on the whole tile with a large brush. This was to protect the tiles from gaming use and give an additional layer of grime to each tile.


For the next theta tile I decided I wanted more hazard stripes because they are just really cool aren’t they?! But I didn’t want to just repeat the same pattern, so after a few attempts at different styles I settled on thinner stripes going out from a central square in diamond effect. I carried out exactly the the same steps as above to line up the masking tape and to paint and then weather the tile.


You can see below the area outside of the hazard strip area where the masking tape had pulled off the primer and Eshin Grey and Leadbelcher when it was removed. I really liked the effect so i did this on every tile to try and get weird scratched random patterns on each tile. I did then sponge over a variety of grey, black and browns to give it a dirtier appearance.


The picture below shows some weathering after using a wet toothbrush over the AK interactive heavy chipping fluid to rub away the hazard strips to give an effect of the paint wearing away over time.


For the next tile I carried out the same steps for the floor panels as above and then I airbrushed the lower sections of the walls using GW’s Abbadon Black and Eshin grey to give a dark to light effect from the bottom up of the walls.


Next I painted in the alcoves and inner tops of the walls using GW’s Rakarth Flesh with a brush carefully trying (and failing) not to get any on the grey walls. The picture below shows the first layer or so of hand painting in the Rakarth flesh. As you can see it didn't cover very well and I didn't want to lose any of the detail so I went back over it with my airbrush (again trying to minimise the spray on to the grey walls).


I then started the most tedious task of all as i went round each alcove and hand painted over any Rakarth Flesh that had got onto the walls… oh my god this was a massive tedious chore!!!  Thankfully a combination of the Eye of Horus and Mysterious Universe podcasts kept me going throughout.

I then used one of the old large GW dry brushes to pick out all the detail and edges with GW’s Celestria Grey to  give a scratched and damaged look to the walls. This simple technique was really effective and started to make the walls pop.


The next step was to dirty up the alcove panels and to this i simply airbrushed GW’s Agrax EarthShade into the recesses and around any pipes or damage to the walls. I then painted up all the pipes and wires etc that come from many sections of the walls and floor in a variety of GW’s Warplock Bronze, Brass Scorpion and Leadbelcher to try and mix it up and give some variety. However, I ended up doing more in Brass Scorpion as this gave most contrast.

This was the second most tedious task as some of the resin doesn’t fit snugly against the walls and there are numerous sharp and jagged edges from where it has been cast so there aren’t clean lines to paint. I got around this by painting black into the recesses and then i washed all the pipes in a mix of Agrax Earthshade and Nuln Oil. I then sparingly went round and gave slight metallic highlights to the wires etc.

The final bit for the walls was to do a black oil pin wash around everything to help add depth to the recesses and the walls after the drybrush highlight. This also added to the grimey and dirty effect and it worked so well with the amount of recesses there were it didn’t take hardly any time due to the capillary action of the oil wash.

The last 2 bits of detail I saved until the end once everything else had been painted/varnished was to paint up the numerous lights and computer screens randomly dotted around each tile.

For the lights I airbrushed on a large circle of GW’s Khorne Red surrounding the light source, followed by a slightly smaller circle of GW’s Evil Sunz Scarlet, which was followed by an even smaller circle which just covered the light and a small section around it with GW’s Wild Rider Red and then finally I did a small central area in the middle of the light with GW’s Ceramite White.


And for the computer screens I hand painted the screen itself with GW’s Caliban Green and then airbrushed around the screen with the same colour but taking care not to go as far as doing the lights. I then airbrushed into the left hand side bottom corner with GW’s Warpstone Glow and further into the corner with GW’s Moot Green. I then cut up some old Sisters of battle transfers and used the white text as fonts on the screen and secured them in place with micro set and sol. I then used ” tins of GW’s purity seal to spray all sections of the boards to seal in and protect the paint. I then went back to the computer screens and gave them a coat of gloss varnish to give additional screen shine.


So all in all it has taken me 2 months to complete all 16 tiles and the doors, although i’m going to go back and add some hazard effects to some of the doors to mix things up a bit. The last 8 tiles only took me 2 weeks as i got into my stride and managed to get a consistent effect for each tile using the same steps over and over again.

I would be lying if I said it was an enjoyable painting project. However, it was extremely satisfying to finish and it makes for a great centre piece at the club and opens up a new style of gaming.

Me and Paul christened the board with a game of 30K Alpha Legion Vs Mechanicum and it was awesome (even though we kept forgetting some of the rules as we went along) but here’s to many more fun games… although we might have to buy 8 more tiles to make it a 6×4 !!!

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Reports from the front: Chad's Harlequin Barrel Roll Academy vs John's Nids Luftwaffe

Chad is at again with some strong content for the blog, gratefully provided from his own personal blog. As always, you can check out more of his writing here:

The Surrey Spartans have started a new 40k Cup, using the Premier League model for group stages and competition. As ever I couldn’t miss a chance to 1a) play competitively 1b) as my poncey dancing space elves. The entry limitations were 1,250pts, Combined Arms Detachments and Formations allowed, Lords of War allowed but no allies. Poncey space elves were a go!

So what did I spend my 1,250pts on? I could have gone with a regular Force Organisation list. I had plenty of points to through about, so I could have got a fairly fantastic list of all singing, all dancing space elves. I could have even got my ‘quins into the Cegrogach’s Jest formation, getting the normal Rising Crescendo special rule as well as being able to reroll Invulnerable Saves failures of a ‘1’. I even ran up a couple of lists to test the idea.

But I’ve recently come into position of fourteen Harlequin Skyweavers and three Voidweavers. My Harlequins have missed out on these amazing pieces of kit – my ‘quins have definitely suffered without two wound jetbikes and all the toys they have access to! And there’s the fancy Falchou’s Blade formation that gives me reroll-able jink saves…

And so I give you Falchou’s Fury!

Falchou’s First Blade  
3 Skyweavers (1x Haywire Cannon, 2x Shuriken Cannon, 3x Star Bolas).
2 Skyweavers (1x Haywire Cannon, 1x Shuriken Cannon, 2x Star Bolas).
1 Voidweaver (1 Haywire Cannon, 2x Shuriken Cannon).

Falchou’s Second Blade
2 Skyweavers (1x Haywire Cannon, 1x Shuriken Cannon, 2x Star Bolas).
2 Skyweavers (1x Haywire Cannon, 1x Shuriken Cannon, 2x Star Bolas).
1 Voidweaver (1 Haywire Cannon, 2x Shuriken Cannon).

Falchou’s Third Blade
2 Skyweavers (1x Haywire Cannon, 1x Shuriken Cannon, 2x Star Bolas).
2 Skyweavers (1x Haywire Cannon, 1x Shuriken Cannon, 2x Star Bolas).
1 Voidweaver (1 Haywire Cannon, 2x Shuriken Cannon).

The Heroes Path
Solitaire (Cegrogach’s Rose, Harelquin’s Caress, Haywire Grenade).
Shadowseer (Mask of Secrets, Hallucinogenic Grenade Launcher, Force Staff, Psyker Level 2).
Deathjester (Haywire Grenades, Shrieker Cannon).

I’ve committed pretty hard to the jetbike plan. The jink save, with reroll, is statistically almost as good as a 2+ save and ignores AP. For things that ignore cover saves I’ve got the natural 5+ invulnerable or the once per game 4+ Mirage Launchers. This gives me a surprising amount of survivability in a world where power armour is becoming increasingly flimsy.

My plan is to zip about the battlefield claiming objectives and generally avoid any kind of committed engagement. 40k is a game won by strategic action now, not just total annihilation, and if I can choose my fights – or where I don’t fight – I will be able to claim objectives as and when it is safe or convenient. I have nine Haywire Cannons and two dudes on foot with Haywire Grenades, as well as my Solitaire’s Caress, to deal with vehicles which is a surprisingly impressive anti-armour ability.

How do I deal with gargantuan creatures? I run my Solitaire at it and pray for 6’s. Failing that I have plenty of machine guns that can, with more prayer-powered 6’s, be AP2 which should also help. Yup, that’s more prayer than I’d like to depend on but I’ll give my dice a full Jacuzzi-spa treatment before the games and hope it helps!

Game 1: Falchou’s Fury, AKA Harlequin Barrel Academy Vs Laffan’s Bio-Luftewaffe.
My first opponent in the group stage was Mr John Laffan, someone I hadn’t had much interaction with at the club. This is mostly due to my poor social skills, I’m sure, and was apprehensive about our first game because I knew nothing about him or his list, besides that he was playing Tyranids.
I figured I could deal with a swarm of little things pretty well and some big chunky things quite well, on the basis that Tyranid invulnerable saves aren’t all that (un-sourced opinion, poorly researched and likely to be incorrect). I sincerely hoped he didn’t bring many fliers as my anti-air ability involved yet another set of prayers and/or sacrifices.

Imagine my emotions when I saw not one but two winged Hive Tyrants, three other monstrous flyers, thirty flapping Gargoyles and a score of spore mines! He was at least as manoeuvrable as I was, and with his formation bonus of Without Number on a 4+ on most of his units he had a lot of potential attrition as well. Things were not off to the greatest of starts, but I reassured myself that the only thing my list hard countered was large-ish squads of poorly armed and armoured dudes. I was probably going to be okay against his Gargoyles at least.

This wasn’t that reassuring for me so I’ll move swiftly on to the game.

We were playing Lost Contact so would one objective card on the first turn and then one for each objective held at the beginning of each subsequent turn. My mobility would be an advantage, but equally his mobility would be an advantage too. He also had objective secured on the Gargoyles, giving him the edge there. My advantage was that the Gargoyles were pretty crap in combat and I could jink whenever I needed to for some anti-devourer endurance. The fliers couldn’t claim objectives, but I had nothing to deal with them. My plethora of Haywire Cannons were next to wasted and my Solitaire was going to be next to useless until something big landed, or some Gargoyles got too close – and when 19” is too close, that’s not all that unlikely!

John deployed first and spread his three Gargoyle units across his deployment zone, covering the board pretty effectively. Our objectives were mainly strung out across the centre of the board, with one in open ground near his deployment zone and one in similarly open ground near mine. He placed a flying Hive Tyrant on each flank and both Heavy Venom Cannon Harpies on my left, while the Hive Hag with four Haywire missiles and a nasty breath weapon (I’m unsure of the proper name, apologies) went on my far right. In reserve he held sixteen spore mines, two clusters of five and one of six, and five super-spore mines (again, I’m unsure of what these are actually called).

I’ll note now that the gargoyles, small spore mine clusters and three of the super-spores all effectively had Without Number – when they were destroyed, John could put them into ongoing reserves on a 4+. Every time they were destroyed. So while they weren’t the most phenomenal of troops, he potentially had a massive attrition advantage over me.

I deployed my Skyweavers in a convex crescent on my far left flank, placing the Voidweavers inside the curve. My Hero’s Path took up residency in the church on the left flank, making the most of their Stealth & Shrouded bonuses while they waiting for an ideal time to strike. The flank I abandoned held an objective in a ruined building but if I had deployed on that side his Heavy Venom Cannon Fliers would have been in range straight away, while at least this way the second Tyrant, far right Gargoyles and the Hag would be spending a turn getting into range before becoming effective. I also hoped to wreck the first two units of Gargoyles quic
kly, lowering the amount of small arms fire that threatened my Skyweavers. Sure, a reroll-able 4+ save was nice but not having to make any was preferable!

I rolled Shards of Light and Mirror of Minds for my psychic powers. John only used three – one that lowered my BS and Initiative by D3, one that gave two things Feel No Pain and Psychic Scream.

Turn One
I failed to steal the initiative but wasn’t too upset, as it meant I would be free to assault in my first turn. Skyweavers have three attacks each at Initiative 6, with an extra one on the charge; I was fairly confident that I could annihilate a full unit of space-bats if I got three or more of my bikes into base contact. John moved fairly aggressively forward, not responding to my jibes or goading about his Tyrants refusing to land and assault my sci-fi ballerinas. He made a very fair case that my Solitaire was terrifying. I did not, however, refrain from teasing him further.

He fired some long range bio-artillery at me, but after my synchronized barrel rolling only a single Skyweaver fell to the floor in a flaming wreck. My Heroes came under fire, specifically the Solitaire, but he passed all of his cover saves – much to the Hive Tyrant’s angst. Reluctantly John passed me the tape measure.
In my first turn the Skyweavers gunned their engines and their speakers, blaring Dragonforce across the battlefield as the accelerated out towards and into the Tyranid line. This is usually a bad idea but with all of his scary things in the air I was happy to get up in the Gargoyles’ grill. After a quick reminder my Solitaire couldn’t assault as he’d infiltrated, the Heroes took respite in the church with both the Death Jester and the Shadowseer jumping up into the tower for LOS while the Solitaire lurked around the base of the building.


In my shooting phase, John clarified/let slip that if I caused even a single wound on his fliers they would have to take a Grounding test – potentially crashing to the ground on a roll of 1 or 2 at the end of the phase, and taking a Strength 9 hit into the bargain! This would mean I’d be able to assault them in that turn. While daunting, they were far scarier in the air than on the ground so my Voidweavers span round to bring all their guns to bear on the fliers. Between the three of them they got a wound on each of the fliers. Half my Skyweavers and the Death Jester fired on the left-most unit of Gargoyles, tearing seven of them apart in a hail of flechettes and lightning. The haywire blast was surprisingly effective against the poorly armoured things – worth noting for the future.

The other Skyweavers withheld their fire, leaving their assault options open while they stared at the fluttering monstrosities above. John passed both checks so the gamble had failed, although I’d gotten them to jink so wasn’t a complete failure. I instead assaulted the central unit of Gargoyles, my largest squad of three Skyweavers making it into base while the jetbike who had lost his buddy soaked and jinked the stand and shoot response, but failed to cover the distance.

The Gargoyles died in assault, three having died to longer ranged shooting earlier. The Skyweavers cavorted and wheeled their way back towards John deployment zone, baiting him backwards and threatening Behind Enemy Lines. Both our psychic phases had been fairly uneventful, so I haven’t mentioned them – except that I Blinded John’s Warlord, which was nice but he was still twin linked.

Turn 2


All of John’s spore mines arrived. All of them, covering the battlefield like a rash that cut off huge swathes of it with their threat range. Fortunately they couldn’t assault this turn so I was safe…for now. John flapped his much diminished left-hand Gargoyle unit around the church to challenge the objective my Heroes were claiming. Everything else swung round towards my bikes clustered on the left hand side of the battlefield.
John’s psychic phase saw the first or many Psychic Screams from his secondary Hive Tyrant, which apparently wasn’t loud enough to drown out the thrash metal my Harlequins were playing. In the shooting phase his Warlord managed to get the one wound required to kill my Warlord through instant death, even though he was blinded and my Shadowseer was nearly invisible. There was a Vector Strike from one of the Harpies but no one died. I also jinked everything else that was shot at me – except the Hive Hag’s template weapon. At S6 this presented a massive threat to my entire army, but the Harlequins normal dancing Invulnerable save kept them alive.


And then the second Harpy shot, having not actually jinked last turn. Plot twist and a half! I finally failed a jink re-roll and the penetrating hit blew one of the Voidweavers apart in a prismatic explosion. John had once again ignored my taunts and refused to land, so it was on to my second turn.

I spread my bikes out in a wide curve, looking to eliminate as many of the spore mines as possible. They ignored cover and so they had to go. I scythed through most of the little one and made sure I was as spread out as possible to avoid being templated again. The right most squad of Gargoyles was also wiped out, but I didn’t get any wounds on the fliers – much to my annoyance. My Death Jester also failed to kill the last three Gargoyles lurking in the shadow of the church, leaving one looking somewhat lost and confused.
My Solitaire through his Haywire grenade at one of the super-spores and took a wound off it out of spite. He had very few options, trapped by the church, but if he was going to die then I wasn’t going to let John say he hadn’t caused a wound on something!

My assault phase was pretty lacking – the only remaining Gargoyle squad was out of sight (although retrospectively the Death Jester probably could have managed it) and I had to wait for the other one to re-arrive next turn, having passed its Without Number check.


Turn 3
John’s fliers had a graceless round of trying to make some very sharp turns, leaving them much more spread out than before. One of the Harpies even landed! Too far from my stuff for me to get to in one turn, and too far from the objectives to be useful to me. At this stage, I had first blood and John had Slay the Warlord plus one Secure objective card, putting me one behind. I felt a lot further behind with all the big bugs roaming the skies, only compounded by the returning Gargoyles landing in my deployment zone.

The Psychic phase opened up with Psychic scream failing, although this was no massive loss to John  as only two jetbikes would have been in range. Importantly though his Warlord rolled a Perils of the Warp casting his –D3 BS power on my Death Jester. Despite the Shadow in the Warp it brought, the Chaos gods were unkind and punished the insectile hubris of the Hive Mind – John  rolled a 1! The Tyrant narrowly avoided being dragged into the warp but did suffer a wound as it desperately wrestled it’s psyche back from the warp. He then failed its Grounded check, suffering a second wound on impact. As it clicked and clattered to its feet it turned to see that it had fallen inside a whirlwind of colour and music; the eye of my Harlequins’ storm!

My Death Jester bit the dust in John’s shooting phase, but again all but one jetbike dodged the incoming bio-hailstorm. The assault phase saw another tumbleweed charge headlong across the map, distantly echoed by two super-spores which drifted into my Solitaire only to explode harmlessly, and then it was my go.
My Solitaire initiated his Blitz. John only nodded and gazed woefully at his Warlord, communicating his sad and final farewell to his Warlord through the telepathic link they shared. I wasn’t so sure he should have been so laconic, but it did only have two wounds left and I had all sorts of ways that the number ‘6’ would be bad for the beast. My jetbikes formed an inward-facing crescent aiming their guns as many bugs as possible and the Voidweavers coasted forwards to maintain line of sight.

The Hive Tyrant was wiped out under a blizzard of shuriken fire, sliced to ribbons by a thousand flechette rounds. I scored Witch Hunter and Assassin, and had slain John’s Warlord into the bargain! My Solitaire filed a complaint with the orchestrator of this dance (me) as he had ‘wasted’ his Blitz, but after I’d failed to hurt the Hag-carrier thing (which was now out of Haywire missiles) he was still in range of the returned squad of Gargoyles.

He did horrible things to most of them. The survivors couldn’t cover the four inch gap he’d left in their formation and were out of Synapse range. They tried to flee, but faced with the Solitaire’s Initiative of 10 they literally had no hope of escape. He did horrible things to the rest of them.

Turn 4
The recently re-deceased Gargoyles came back for more, the plucky little bystyrds landing almost exactly where their still warm previous incarnations lay eviscerated. The lonely Gargoyle in the church passed its Instinctive Behaviour test. The second Harpy landed next to its twin and they began lumbering into artillery positions in the ruined building on the right of my deployment zone.

The remaining Tyrant completed the wide turn it started in Turn 3 and was nicely placed behind seven of my nine remaining jetbikes (I haven’t tracked when they were lost well, apologies there. I need to write these up sooner after the event!). The spore-mines floated towards their targets, now dangerously close despite their tragic assault distance restraints. I lost another jetbike and a half between the psychic and shooting barrage of the Hive mind, but the cover saves were becoming harder and harder for John to overcome as his fire power became more and more reduced.

My Solitaire finally met his end under a hail of various bio-weaponry. “Extreme Prejudice” doesn’t begin to cover it.

A few spore mines assaulted my bikes and failed to explode anything except themselves. A second Voidweaver went down to an assault by a super-spore, and another tear was shed. It barely had time to dry on the blood-encrusted dirt before my fourth turn began.

I didn’t achieve much in my turn, mainly sweeping the board for mines. One batch didn’t make it back so that was nice. I missed everything at the fliers, or failed to wound. At this stage I had claimed two more Secure Objectives (both the same one fortuitously) and John hadn’t pulled anything he could take as his remaining Tyrant and the Hive-Hag thing were flying, and his Harpies were cowering behind a ruined building. Despite their powerful weapons, getting through the barrel rolls was difficult and only having one shot each made it significantly less likely they’d land anything meaningful. I was in the lead significantly at this stage, so John had his work cut out for him.

Turn 5
I didn’t realise quite how limited John’s options were at this point, selfishly restricting my tactical sense to what I could achieve, and what his stuff could threaten. The answer to the latter was “everything threatens everything” so when I looked at the table all I saw was massive red warning triangles above all his units. In retrospect, he could see he was behind on points and despite me only have about eleven wounds and one vehicle on the table my jink save was reliable enough that it was going to cause him problems.

Which is why, for the fifth turn running, he did not land his remaining Tyrant and instead flew it into range for another volley of heavy devourer shots and a Psychic Scream. He also brought his Hive-Hag thing (I may correct this when I learn its real name but no promises) out of the sky to claim an objective spot, although it didn’t score him any points.

The psychic phase began with a powerful déjà vu – his Tyrant rolled a Perils of the Warp giving itself Feel No Pain! This time the Chaos gods were less aggressive in the assault and only took a wound off the beast, not prevented by Feel No Pain thankfully, and like its brother-Tyrant this one crashed to the ground under the psychic feedback. Although the impact didn’t wound it the beast was left surrounded by the remains of Falchou’s Fury.

I lost a single jetbike to John’s shooting and the play passed to me. I drew three new objectives – Big Game Hunter, Ascendency and a Secure Objective. My Skyweaver’s all banked their bikes to face the suddenly very alone Hive Tyrant and my Voidweaver coasted away slightly so all three of its guns were on target. Things looked grim for the Hive’s champion, but thanks to some poor To Wound rolls from me I did a lone pathetic wound to the creature.

Howling for blood and victory, I declared charges with my seven remaining Skyweavers. The Tyrants stand and shoot reaction missed, which is fair enough since it was literally being assaulted from all sides! Despite being Fleet, only four Skyweavers made it into combat; a lone jebike that had suffered over a dozen spore mine explosions and my squad of three, as yet unharmed.

I had sixteen attacks but without Zephyr Blades I needed some luck to get through the T6, 3+ save and 5+ Feel No Pain protected Tyrant. I managed a single sad wound. In response the Tyrant crushed a bike with two successful wounds. My Skyweavers held and chose not to Hit & Run – I couldn’t let the beast escape!
We rolled to determine Turn 6. It was tense, as if the game ended I won but if it continued John had a chance to wipe me out or even catch up – my bloodlust had pulled me off of two objective markers, taking below two for Ascendency and off of the Secure Objective target. Masterful strategy! The dice fell…and the game continued!

Turn 6
John’s movement at this point was just the re-re-returned squad of Gargoyles who flapped over to harass my unengaged Skyweavers. John pulled a Secure objective but nothing was close enough to it for him to take advantage. However, if he destroyed my remaining jetbikes and vehicle he would wipe me of the board – and I only had six bikes left! He also had a left over Objective from an earlier turn to destroy a unit with shooting, but D3 if he managed to kill three.

It was a tall order, and the bio-artillery had lost most of its sting; a single jetbike tumbled to the ground and he scored a lonely one point. In combat, despite the Tyrant only having a single wound left, I failed to kill it and he crushed a jetbike in return. My Skyweavers broke – half what I wanted, as they were planning to Hit & Run anyway – and there was a very short but very tense moment as we rolled to see if my Skyweavers escaped. They did and the Hive Tyrant was suddenly once again very alone in the middle of nowhere.
My fleeing Skyweavers rallied (all part of the plan) and I moved the others and my Voidweaver into place to claim Ascendancy and my Secure Objective. They were also all in range of the Hive Tyrant which finally succumb to a death by a thousand cuts, giving me Big Game Hunter.

We rolled for Turn Seven but the dice came up too low – the game was over! The Sci-fi Space Ballet had danced and dazzled its way to a 12-7 victory!

I thoroughly enjoyed play John – he was a friendly, knowledgeable and sporting opponent and a fantastic example of what a 40k player should be. His list was rich in lore and character but still competitive in spirit, and he played a very good game. I learned a lot about Flying Monstrous Creatures and the new Synapse rules, which was definitely a plus, and had a lot of fun. SO thanks to Mr Laffan for the game!

I have learned – or been reminded – that although template or ‘Ignores Cover’ weapons do get around my impressive jinking ability I do still have a 5+ invulnerable and a one-phase-per-game 4+ invulnerable on everything. The Mirage Launchers especially saved my spandex clad warriors in a couple of tight spots. However, I should still respect these weapons and not take too many risks.

Also important to note was that jinking continuously means my firepower is often much less intimidating that people expect, but picked up a lot late game when he couldn’t force all my units to jink every turn. This odd interaction is quite nice, but depends on those jink saves working; if I lose too many Skyweavers too fast I will probably hit like a wet sponge from Turn 4 onwards!

Another surprise was my combat power. Three I6 attacks per Skyweaver is monstrous, and with a 24” potential charge range along with bonuses for fleet they can definitely threaten a lot of things surprisingly fast. I am really sad I didn’t get any Zephyr Blades! Finally, I must remember all my dudes have Star Bolas! Half a dozen S6 AP2 templates could have really torn into that last Tyrant a turn or two earlier. I will have to remember to play with all my toys in the next game!

I hope you enjoyed my report, and they’ll be more to come – the Cup is set to play out over three months or so. If every game I play is half as enjoyable as this one was I am sincerely looking forward to it!

Monday 30 May 2016

Reports from the front: Dan/Tom's cup game 2

My second game of the knockout stage rounds was against Lawrence and his ‘blaggy’ Corsairs list (as he likes to call them!). As we discussed, the list has the power and ability to reach the final stages of the cup and the D weapons offer a hard counter to invisible Wraithknights and the like. Corsairs are an army I’ve played myself and the update has bright them in line with their Craftworld cousins’ power levels.

Again, I have never actually played Lawrence at the club and it was the perfect opportunity to get a game in without having to make much of an effort arranging a game (with the cup sorting that for me!). With the format of the competition changing, I’m planning on surging through fixtures as quickly as possible to get time for 30k and a change in pace to competitive gaming, whilst allowing me to choose who to play in which order, to at least try and get the worst of it out the way first!

Lawrence has gone for an Iyanden scheme for his Corsairs; a fitting tribute to the fluff about Prince Yriel and a wise move in gaming terms as he can get list flexibility out of running them in a normal list or Corsairs list without the need to buy and paint up more models! I used to run a full jetpack infantry Corsairs army, and may just have to plagiarise the idea (they say copying is the highest form of flattery ;)!). For me, the misadvertising of the Skathach Wraithknight on the Forgeworld site and not being fully part of a Corsairs CAD, along with the potential cheese against some armies, without investing in Venoms or jetpack infantry, has put me off running them casually for the time being at least.

His list is a variation of what he's playing at the moment, with the Corsair coterie detachment providing more flexibility in choosing what he can bring to the table. He's playing them in another club tournament (at the South London Warlords I presume) and is using a CAD, which is more restrictive in what's available. Only being able to take the single Warp Hunter is a pretty big tax for them.

The jetbikes, Lynx, Warp Hunter and Hornets, gloriously painted, before deployment.

I won the roll-off for the second concurrent game and decided to go first, obviously not wanting to give away the chance to be shot at. With the objectives being so important to the cup games, it really skews the effectiveness of close quarters beasts the Wulfen. That and playing against the Corsairs who get their free move away via “Reckless Abandon” to get out away once an opponent’s unit are in their threat range. From a combat standpoint, this allegorically works a lot like charging a fast cav unit in 8th Edition Fantasy, with them fleeing and then looking for the auto-rally to stay out of being tarpitted or charged, as seen in popular tournament lists (John – mainly – and Felix can both attest to this!).

The Wulfen then prepared for a kicking, and the D shots from the Lynx and Warp Hunter made a world of difference for insta-gibbing them rather than just taking a wound off with re-rolls on scatpack bikes from the Corsair’s psychic phase adding to the firestorm. I felt if I could have been more aggressive charging up the board to get to the other side in two turns, this may have changed things. But even then, Lawrence could have moved his jetbikes away from me to score objectives on the other side of the board!

There has been a lot of talk about the Wulfen being a glass hammer unit (hitting hard but not staying around for long – I think Harlequins do that the most, though a shortage of AP attacks with kisses means they do less damage arguably), but I’ve found them to be less glassy than I was expecting .

Now you see it, now you don't; Wulfen squad taking out a Hornet, for all of their kills total!

For the amount of firepower that was being dished out by the Corsairs, standing up to four turns of shooting seemed quite a feat, as expected to be packing my stuff up after turn 1; so I’ll take that as a moral victory! The storm shields, FNP and toughness value v.s. Eldar shooting were really useful against the Corsairs, with Lawrence pointing out how much harder it made tabling me straight away; it’s just a case of getting them into combat to do their work!

I can see Invisibility being useful for rushing Wulfen across the board, whilst Gate of Infinity and something to move them around would be ideal. But against Corsairs, they just don’t have the mobility. Beating them would come down to a shooting game (which I obviously don’t have!) and goes against elite killy units.

With the lock-in of the lists being pivotal, it’s no wonder the list is as powerful as it is. The D basis of the list is designed to take on the powerful lists at use in the competition and they will definitely be a problem for others when Lawrence gets through into the later stages!With John’s 3 Riptide list, all knights lists, wraithknights and so on in the meta, mobile D is a game changer. The jetbikes are perfect for scoring objectives and give a boost in shooting.
 Lights out for the Wulfen, as the scat-bikes zoom across the board taking all objectives.

Either way it was great fun and there were loads of pointers to take away from the game. And playing such an experienced opponent like Lawrence meant for a richer experience. I can see him progressing well and after seeing him win the Christmas tournament organised by Will, expect him to be looking to repeat the feat!

Reports from the front: Dan/Tom's Wulfen cup game 1

With the blog in need of a bit of upsurge in content, I thought it was a perfect idea to link current gaming with blog content. It’s a shame Mordheim doesn’t fit tangential commentary or that Guild Ball players had the time to write up batreps about the system, but time is money (as I find myself, as a semi-professional freelancer; especially for Barry when he’s missing out on gaming!), and as the anointed administrator of the blog it’s kind of mandatory!

I won’t be doing more detailed reports  like Chad (or as well I expect; my excuse being I have my own writing and paid work on top of these duties and others to really!), but will try and give the reader the gist (mainly I put my miniatures down, then remove them!) and my thoughts on the game. Playing a formation of Wulfen wasn’t the wisest move for this format, so don’t expect any tactical genius!

The first game of the knockout round was decided by the order system and that meant I was drawn against Rich and what turned out to be a dreaded Imperial Knight list. I haven’t actually played Rich at 40k (having not joined the club when he was rocking his Emperor’s Children in the 1k league the Spartans had going at the new premises at the time) and I think our last games were during the Fantasy escalation league against his Sylvanian Empire army (I think!), with his love of the undead, featuring his wolf riding demigrpyph knight alternatives and other great conversion work as is expected from him. With 9th Age becoming popular, I’m sure he’ll be dusting them off soon!

My reason for entering the cup was to get to start a catalyst to enjoying 40k again (having fallen out of love of it for a little while, but I think gaming interest peaks and wanes in phases), or at least, a spark to the flame! And also mainly to get the opportunity to play people I hadn’t before (variety is life spice as Matt says), and for me gaming is a social activity and the chance to get to know people better than I wouldn’t otherwise, is worth propping up the table as the wooden spoon (something I seem to get a lot of)!

I won the roll off to start and rashly let Rich deploy first in the slimmest (im)possible hope of being able to deploy my units in a more tactical fashion. In retrospect, it would appear utterly pointless, but having not played in ever it seemed like tactical enough at the time. Oh well! Setting the terrain without any line of sight blocking scenery also didn’t go in my favour! The scenario hampers movement, and if the set-up was 24 inches on, rather than 12, the Wulfen could really give people headaches first turn.

 Deploying second was a bad, very bad idea - Wulfen awaiting impending death!

 The board setup did little to change Rich's deployment!!

It was nice to play against such well painted miniatures and I felt rather guilty about playing my unpainted grey horde of Darwinian-transitory-sapiens-style-inspired-wolf men whose hackneyed (sure there’s a pun there...) karate posing has turned a lot of people off an interesting close combat beast into the 40k meta. Rich’s freehand is outstanding and his knights, matching his 30k Word Bearers, have been daubed in appropriate symbols and liturgies to give an inclusive overall look when he plays his knights allied in with his traitor force for 30k.

I was hoping that grey plastic would mean that the army performed better (having seen tournaments won by – the idea being that gamers too busy to paint are better gamers because they’re too busy gaming; and like a recurring pattern I’m not as it turns out!), but misreading my rules (with my habit of “I dun goofed”), didn’t exactly help the result!

 In spite of the terrible photo, you can still see the detail at work in Rich's freehand.

As expected, I was shot off the board before I could even amount to doing anything, by turn 2 as I recall.  The fixed scenario of having to gain objectives meant I had to be less aggressive as I tried to hold onto objectives to generate cards and then try and complete them. Doing the exact opposite of what my army needs to do isn’t really what I want to be doing, even if they do have a 3+ invulnerable!

In short, I moved my Wulfen eagerly up the bed in my first turn, before receiving a load of firepower in return. My warlord was vapourised quickly to give Rich those bonus points and I then continued to move around to try and hold objectives/generate cards and was basically shot off the board  (again, down to my inane ability to shoot myself in the foot at all times, hey who said difficult wasn’t fun?!!) .

The highlight for me was the stubborn remaining Wulfen valiantly trying to hold on to the objective to the last man and still going to blown away anyway. Going into the competition, setting my targets as realistically low as possible means I can at least walk away less shamefully with more knowledge about my army works! The target is to increase the longevity of games each time I play to try and survive being shot off the board each time; I can but try!

As long as I make progress every time I compete I’m happy (akin to what my driving instructor said about me advancing along – I passed second time haha!).

 Valiant Wulfen trying to outlast the untired guns, soon to be dead, very dead!!
The Knights didn't stay in the same place all game, moving forward turn 2 to get nearer objectives, just in case!  

Tuesday 26 April 2016

40k Cup: Asking the organiser!

With the inaugural 40k Cup just around the corner at the club, I thought it would be a great idea to pick the brains of its running man, or should that be organiser, Peter. There's a lot of interesting building as the competition ramps up, with people finetuning their lists for the deadline. And with this in mind, I thought I'd ask to get a slightly deeper understanding for the thoughts behind running it in this format and its intentions.

 This is what Google produced, but the cup will definitely look different, 
even in spite of Steve's 8th Edition tournament winning foam cup in the early days of the club!!

So, onto the Q&A!

What was your inspiration for setting up the cup?
I'm really enjoying running the cup so far, even though we haven't even rolled any dice yet. I wanted to be involved in running an event as the last 40k league was great fun to take part in so I thought I'd get involved.

What were your motivations?
The cup format seemed like a great way to make a competitive competition that was going to be exciting whilst ensuring a minimum number of games for the players that go out in the first round.

Why the format? With a cup it whittles down players, do you feel this brings a more exciting/dynamic interest?
Having a straight knock out competition eliminates half of the players after the first game so this should be more engaging and also generate interest as other players' games will really matter to everyone.

The cup brings a more competitive element to gaming at the club. Do you think this is a good thing and why? And with more players attending tournaments it can only encourage that growth?
I'm hoping that the knockout rounds will be really competitive. Judging by some of the lists I've seen there are some really competitive armies so we should see some epic clashes.

Do you have any plans for the future? Like keeping it a regular event?
The elimination process is going to be great for bragging rights at the club too.

We'll see how the cup goes and if it's a success I'm sure there will be opportunity for the winner to defend his title!

Sunday 24 April 2016

Chad does Mordheim: Gory days

Perhaps inspired by Bruce Springsteen's song lyrics (who knows?!), Chad talks us through his latest conquests in Mordheim in this post about the ramifications of 3 games for his ratty warband.

No, that’s not a misspelling. The first few missions in any Mordheim gang’s life are going to be hellish and hectic; if a colour scheme had to be chosen for then it would be red and brown in violent, clashing slashes. Your war band is untried, and your equipment is mismatched and sub par. The individual members are at best vaguely competent and on average pretty rubbish. This is only made worse in a world where your opponents have pushed themselves into Strength 4 and you’re stuck on Toughness 3.

Games three through five exemplified this problem, as did my fairly Skaven-ly play style; I often got carried away and over confident after an early success and ended up slinking away. My next games I played Dys and his Blood Dragon pirates, Jonathan and his beleaguered Rieklanders, and JD and his newish Dwarven Treasure Hunters in that order. Each of these war bands present different problems and challenges which I’ll explore in my reports below.

Game 1: Attack of the Bloodbeard
First up was Bloodbeard’s motley crew – and a quite sizeable crew it was too! I’d picked up a Beggar, representing the poor sap who hired my Samurats, but Dys still nearly outnumbered me two to one! This whole ‘one henchman’ thing had massive downsides…especially after we rolled Defend the Find as our scenario! I had to hold a central building against Dys’s marauding undead pirates? And to win all he had to do was get more models within 6” of the house? Bring it on.

I set up my shooty fellows (two dudes with throwing stars, two with slings – true artillerized terror) on the first floor and my remaining dudes, including double-club beggar on the ground floor. My plan was to take people in drips and drabs, knocking them down to slow them even more than being dead already did while my combat dudes did the butcher’s work. I did not want to get out numbered, and I did not want to get surrounded.

Bloodbeard got first turn and his crew lurched forward, except the three not-so-nautical war pigs he’d hired which shot right at me, although one had a difficult crisscross of streets to navigate so didn’t make it into the scoring area. Thinking this feel perfectly into my plan, I issued two charges on each – the Beggar and Assassin on one, my halberd-wielding Black Skaven and the Verminkin on the other. Everyone passed their leadership checks, by some miracle, and we all got in contact. Great news, as it meant that I was likely to be two out of four kills towards forcing rout checks – sure, the vampire had a leadership value of nearly double my average, but it might work out.

In other news, my shooting missed and one of my Gutterrunners removed himself from the game by failing a 4” leap and suffering an S2 hit. So I was half way to rout checks myself. Then neither of the pigs died, so things looked real rosy.

Dyson’s second turn started with the third pig charging my leader and his vampire charging my spear wielding Gutterrunner. My leader had been stunned last turn and so was eliminated while knocked down, but my Gutterrunner must have eaten a whole garlic bulb as the vampire missed his attacks. I killed the other pig, but that was not really much commiseration.

At the beginning of my turn I voluntarily routed. I was close to being outnumbered and butchered, and Dys would probably have outnumbered me in the zone next turn anyway. This way he didn’t get any heroes in the house, so didn’t get any extra wyrd-stone while I scarpered with three! I then rolled well on my exploration and got six more, as well as a favour owed by a sell-sword. This presented a quandary, as I wanted to keep the Seven Samurats to seven, but if I didn’t take advantage of this then I’d be missing out on a massive advantage – which was also free. Eventually I reasoned that the sell-sword was an old friend (rival? Enemy that didn’t immediately need killing?) of one of the Samurats. With that explanation, I chose the Skryre Sniper as it fit thematically to have someone devoted to the art of long ranged death.

My Assassin suffered ‘severe injuries’ and had to miss the next two games, while the Gutterrunner who impersonated Icarus managed to escape harm! Except for the loss of an eye…Some stat ups were gained, most notably my Beggar got Medic and the one-eyed Gutterrunner got an extra attack – so he traded his throwing knives to the Verminkin for an additional sword. My sorcerer also got better at casting Warpflame despite not managing it in the last game.

Game 2: Cross Town Brawl
Next game was against Jonathan’s Rieklanders. His luck had not improved at all since our last game, but he’d only lost Henchman. However having to replace them had kept his gold reserves low (unlike my coffers, which sat at something like 14 wyrd-stone and 120gp despite losing most of my games) and his men weren’t fantastically well equipped and they only numbered eleven. Not being dead they could march but also be stunned, so there were pros and cons over the last game. We rolled Occupy and five target houses, meaning we’d both have to split up to really challenge board control.

We fought on our market square board rather than the ruined mansion where I’d ‘fought’ Bloodbeard, and there were coincidentally four buildings around the square and a well in the middle. Jon took the city side with a little more building cover which left me with the church and windmill side. I deployed using other buildings to block LoS from those scary BS4 longbows and the game was afoot!

Jon moved forward with his guys, and I did the same but got further into the board, claiming the church. Turn two saw him secure an inn and the vampire-home, while I occupied the church fully and moved towards the guard house on the bridge. My sniper turned up and knocked a Rieklander off his feet, despite needing a six to hit! Nothing else happened though.

Turn three things started to heat up as Jon moved into the first floor of the vamp-home with his archers and made a dash towards the well with his leader and some captains. He left two crossbowmen in the inn, one of which fired at my Jezzail and missed. In my third turn I got into the bridge guard house with my Verminkin and beggar while I took the ground floor of the vamp-home with everything else – except my sniper, who hid, and my Gutterrunner who still had throwing knives (having picked up Knife-Master) who I forgot about entirely. I threw some Warpflame up the stairs and made the Bowmen duck for cover but didn’t really hurt anyone.

Turn four saw the vamp-home getting trashed again, as per my Skaven war band’s modus operandi. Jon charged a Bowman into my half blind Gutterrunner skulking around the side of the building and a Champion into my Sorcerer – but he was intercepted by my Halberd wielding Black Skaven, who had picked up Lightning Reflexes for just such occasions. The kitchen/dining area was turned over in the struggle (we were a bit boisterous in moving minis) but my Black Skaven got the upper hand and stunned the Champion. My Gutterrunner knocked down his attacker in a flurry of sword blows, and I was looking in a pretty strong position. His crossbowmen had no targets so spent a tense few minutes listening to shouts and hissing and smashing furniture from across the road while his leader and champions bravely took the unoccupied well in the centre of the square.

In my turn my claw-armed Black Skaven got to the second floor of the vamp-home, miraculously without falling off as per his previous attempts, and I got more rats in the ground floor. My shuriken armed Gutterrunner made it to the bridge guardhouse and he, my Beggar and Verminkin (who had both been awarded slings due to lack of space in my treasury) unleashed a hail of shrapnel and dung at Jon’s elite in the well house. The ended up covered in shit and pretty pissed off, but uninjured. My Sorcerer stunned a Bowman up the stairs and the Jezzail missed, but my sword-armed Gutterrunner and halberd wielding Black Skaven finished off their opponents so that was nice.

Jon was looking a little disheartened at the beginning of this turn, which meant that I was caught utterly off guard when he had one Bowman leap out of the window and land perfectly outside the vamp-home while two more rushed down the stairs and surprised my Sorcerer and Black Skaven on the ground floor, while his heroes backed off a little from the well house, also moving back towards the vamp-home. His shooting phase saw the Dark-Knight Bowman wound my Sorcerer but only knock him down while his compatriots sent my Black Skaven squeaking for cover, although left him unharmed – he even tried a cheeky crossbow shot through a window but it didn’t stick. His heroes then returned fire on my dirt slingers and put my Gutterrunner out of action.

With no combat we went right into my turn! My claw armed Black Skaven ran down two flights of stairs to charge a Bowman and my halberd wielding rat charged into the one next to him. The Beggar and Verminkin scuttled out of sight, hiding, while the Sorcerer stood up rather groggily and failed to cast his spell to get vengeance. The Jezzail hid so it was straight on to combat – in which my halberd guy dealt with the bowman in front of him and the claw armed guy didn’t, although didn’t die either so I guess that’s okay.

Jon’s turn saw another impressive hail fired into the vamp-house – windows were smashed, decorations ruined and a little bit of rat blood shed as my sorcerer hit the dirt again. Combat again saw the untrained Bowman flail desperately and my fighting-claw ninja expertly miss his attacks. In my turn my halberd-rat charged out of the house screaming in Bloodfrenzy or panic as he ran into Jon’s three combat equipped heroes, while my Verminkin was sent to challenge ownership of the centre well. My sword-armed Gutterrunner actually made it into the acrobat who had jumped out of the window to ambush my rats too! Shooting saw my Jezzail burn yet another hole in the side of the inn instead of a person and my Sorcerer remove Jon’s leader with a blast of fire, finally on target. Thankfully there was no collateral damage in the form of my halberd-rat, who stunned the Champion he was facing off against.

Jon called it there an voluntarily routed, his taste for the battle gone with his leader. He’d lost most of his Bowman, although all but one recovered, and was two combat fellows down for no loss to the Samurats. I’d been able to control the flow of battle pretty well, fighting in buildings being ideal for my high Initiative, high movement guys where they could choose their fights/bundle individual enemies. I found another six wyrd-stone, putting me on the heady-heights of twenty-one before I sold seven. I bought two sets of bracers and two cold-steel Halberds, giving one to my halberd-rat and the other to my sorcerer along with some bracers each. Both Black Skaven picked up Tail Fighting, my leader finally accrued a exp-up and got Lightning Reflexes and my two gutter runners got a skill and a stat up each – the half-blind guy got a strength and I gave him Tail-Fighting, while the other guy suffered a deep wound (-1 Toughness, putting him on an abysmal T2) but got an additional wound and Trick Shot, so he would now always get to shoot at full accuracy with his shurikens. I banked the remaining 90 or so gold and looked for the next game.

Game 3: Murder in the Streets
For my third and final game of the night I threw down against JD’s newly formed Dwarven Treasure Hunters. He’d had a rough few games before and I think only agreed to the game because I pointed out my Assassin was still kicking back injured and would miss this game. I had got another favour owed to him (the Council only knows how) so I picked up a Skryre Poison Wind Globadier to continue my theme of wacky mercenary members, and kept on the sniper mainly out of cool factor rather than anything to do with his performance in the last game.

We rolled street fight. I had to run down a four-model wide street at a Dwarven war band, with a three man crossbow henchman group that had earned BS4. Flash backs to the Ratmificent Seven getting wiped out flew through my mind, but I shook them off and set up with my fastest guys at the front – after a brief discussion JD revealed his crossbows actually had a 36” range, so I was going to have to throw caution to the wind and my rats at a wall of spikes and steel.

I spent three turns running at him, the Jezzail arriving on the second but missing. In fact, I’ll head this one off; he missed all game. He missed so impressively JD never even considered shooting back at him. My Beggar was considered more of a threat due to his two clubs. My guys got hit by seemed to just be dodging and diving to the floor; every time I was hit JD’s dice turned into D2’s so miraculously no one died.

Turn four finally saw some combat, a bit of magic and the struggle between his crossbow henchman and my Globadier, the latter trying to throw a grenade at the tightly packed dwarf back line and the former turning him into a pincushion to stop him doing so. After my halberd-rat tore through his first opponent he then spent about a million turns tripping up one of JD’s slayers and refusing to hit him while he was on the floor. My sorcerer spent most of the midgame knocked down as JD frantically tried to kill him with his Engineer.
I forget exactly what order things happened in, but I know my fighting-claw armed ‘ninja’ got taken out first. Hammers fell, swords slashed and after four or so rounds of combat we’d both lost two war band members – I was the only one to lose a hero though. My Globadier removed a crossbowman before he was taken out, one of the slayers went down under the desperate scratching of a Gutterrunner, and things were looking pretty equal – despite my halberd-rat being charged by JD’s noble in an attempt to stop the beleaguered slayer from being auto removed after being stunned.

Now, this is where things went wrong. Very, very wrong. My Sorcerer, seeing a chance to remove two fairly scary dwarves for the possible loss of one rat, Warpflamed the dwarven noble. It fizzled, and the backwash lightly tanned the slayer. However, the halberd-rat got roasted; wounded, save failed, straight up removed from play. In JD’s turn my Sorcerer then got picked off by some crossbows and my remaining rodents achieved sod all, having decided that since their swords were barely working they’d better use wet handkerchiefs. I swiftly routed in my next turn.

My half blind Gutterrunner nearly went fully blind, but upon realising this would auto-retire the vicious little sod I used up my Beggar’s Medic ability on the first injury I’d rolled, and after a bit of CPR he survived against the odds, half-sight intact and with a bonus experience point! My knife-rat got a damaged leg, lowering his Movement to 5” which was tolerable and that was about it for injuries – my Skaven Samurai had clearly learnt well from their leader in Playing Dead 101!

My Globadier earned his stripes, getting a new skill (Eagle Eye, later found to be illegal and replaced with Infiltration). My Sorcerer got an improved BS to 4, although had never shot his Warplock pistol, and also Battle Mage so he could wear armour. This was a debateable gain since everyone seemed to be S4 and/or carrying axes, but worth it for the off chance it was relevant. Sword-Runner (now named Gut) got boosted to S4 while his buddy (Run) got no advancement. I tried to find a second Jezzail in an effort to game the rules, and because I’d come away with another 6 wyrd-stone which was immediately sold, but failed miserably. The Samurats returned to camp and let my Assassin know they’d got beat. He sympathetically shouted at them and swore he’d get revenge on the stunties at some point – presumably after he’d upped his own Strength to 5.

So that was game day 2. A good few advances, no actual deaths just yet and plenty of money in the bank (after a couple more purchases I was still on about 117gp and 10ish wyrd-stone). I’ve since found that my Skaven are actually limited to a measly S4, so halberds might become the order of the day, or Strongman and Great Weapons, but time will tell. There’s also Mighty Blow, granting +1S in combat which would make any S4 halberd wielders S6 and unparryable by any S3 enemies. Then I’d only have to manage to roll a 2+ to wound, so failure would become intensely more embarrassing.

I’m still enjoying the rats, thankfully. I’m somewhat underwhelmed by their supposed terrifying abilities to dish out damage but hopefully that’ll change soon. I’m also looking at Marks of Khorne for the Frenzy upgrade, as my attack statistic is one of the few that goes up twice. Doubling somebodies Mighty Blow attacks with a halberd sounds like a great plan! But we’ll have to get there first. Hell, maybe someone will pick up an extra wound, or even T4. That’d be great. Until then I’ll keep skulking in the shadows and bullying the weak.

Chad does Mordheim: the 7 Samurats

Chad's progress in Mordheim continues as in the dangerous city, this time experimenting with the 7 samurai, of a different kind, namely Skaven!

My goblins have met an untimely end. Mainly due to my disinterest in the list I was playing, and the options for development as the war band ‘grew’. So they won’t be featuring on this blog any more. In their place have risen warriors of unlikely legend: The Seven Samurats.

They are the spiritual successors to my war band from my previous Mordheim campaign, the Ratmificent Seven; they all wielded pistols except one who was armed with fighting claws and got real close ‘n’ personal with anyone who survived the Warplock pistol volley from Hidden positions. It met with great success until I had to street fight versus six Dwarf crossbowmen. They live on in my memory as one of the most fun yet fluffy lists I’ve written.

After a slightly drunken night playing World of Warships with some other guys in the campaign I put together a Skaven list modelled on the Seven Samurai – lots of swords and some throwing stars, very strictly kept to six heroes and one verminkin (Kikuchiru, or the comic relief/not-a-real-samurai dude). I will recruit no new henchmen, only upgrade my current samurats and replace those who fall.

I picked clan Eshin (for hopefully obvious thematic reasons) and formed my brave band (for the third time in the campaign):

Assassin, Weeping Blades, Sling, Light Armour.
Sorcerer, Warplock Pistol Brace, Sword (Spell: Warpfire).
Black Skaven, Halberd, Sling, Light Armour.
Black Skaven, Fighting Claws.
Gutterrunner, Spear, Throwing Stars.
Gutterrunner, Sword, Dagger, Throwing Stars.
Verminkin, Sword, Sling.

What a glorious group of heroes! Almost. Not quite. There is another Skaven player, Ric of Clan Moulder, who is running a horde of experimental mutants. He outnumbers me two to one, as do a few human war bands. As with my goblins, I’m sharing a model count with some tough customers – mainly T4 or BS4 or another non-leadership statistic of four. I’m be outmanned, out-muscled or out-classed in nearly every game I play.

Is there a bright side? Of course! Have you seen my equipment? Weeping Blades are hideous! Automatically wounding on 6’s, but still allowed to crit, and they cause a critical hit on a five or a six! Having checked the rules, that means that they always wound on a 5 or 6, so Toughness six beasts are that much easier to bring down! They might be rare in the first place, but these things are going to help make them even rarer!

Halberds are perfect for my Black Skaven – bring them to Strength five while still fighting at Initiative, I should be able to bring down enemies before they get a chance to fight back. Fighting Claws give my other Black Skaven spider-like agility when scaling buildings and getting about the board, as well as being pretty dangerous in a fight. The spear on one Gutterunner is for style more than anything – none of the Seven Samurai used a spear, but it’s cool. And might help my WS2 Gutterrunner not die immediately when charged. I’m trying twin swords on the other one to test the parry ability, as I think that’s going to be a big player in the campaign.

I will admit the sorcerer with Warplock Pistols is somewhat not-samurai-esque. I am putting this down as a Kabuki/Magician character, or is basically the special effects guy for my group. A little bit of ranged firepower is going to be very welcome, and the short range means he’s going to be stuck at the front with the others anyway. His spell also has an 8” range so the pistols will only be fired when I can’t risk collateral damage. Usually that is pretty rare, but when you have seven tooled up furballs it may come into play.

Game 1: Vengeance in Fur Form
My first game was against my roommate who had slaughtered half my original war band. Did I feel any more confident now that I had started again? Not a chance. We rolled Warpstone Hunt, so I wasn’t going to have my rats picked off one by one. Matt’s goat blokes were still fast, but slightly slower than my rats so I hoped to get some positioning advantage. I also hoped that with a take and hold objective he would break his war band up and I could deal with it piecemeal.

Was that malicious? Vengeful? Dare I say petty? Yes. I had played goblins, and was now playing Skaven. If I could nobble the minotaur and make him run bleating I’d be happy. Nothing less.

We set up on opposite board edges, he with a bridge for his billy goats and me with a church and a house built by our vampire player which he’d claimed as his own. There was a distinctly open square in the middle and while tactically it was okay to rush the middle as there was a wyrdstone token in the bell tower there, I lost first turn and didn’t fancy trying to force the goat blokes off it. I contented myself with nabbing the tokens in the church and vampire-home, then settling in for the duration.

Matt grabbed the token under the bridge and the one in the bell tower. He was less content with a draw however, and was very aware of how stabby my list could be given half a chance – he’d been playing World of Warships with me at the time it was designed. So while my pack was split between the two buildings, he ran his whole war band at the vampire-home, leaving my Sorcerer, Claw-wielding Black Skaven and the Spear wielding Gutterrunner two turns away. I sent a hail of slingshots and knives at his dudes and miraculously knocked a bestigor down and my sorcerer managed to take two wounds of the minotaur!
Then things got messy. The minotaur couldn’t quite charge into the building due to lines of sight and me being on three different floors, so instead bulled (ha ha) its way in through a window space/wall. The other goats spaced themselves around the outside, ready to jump in. His Shaman, Bad Trip, failed to cast Wings of Darkness so couldn’t catapult himself into my Assassin – a fact I was pretty grateful for!

In my turn I issued four charges against the minotaur, and had my first encounter with my leadership stat: The minotaur caused fear, and we misplayed the rules (I think) so that if I failed my LD check I couldn’t charge. With LD seven (Thanks, ‘great’ leader…) I hit the average and passed two out of four tests – except rather than either my Assassin with Weeping Blades or Black Skaven with Halberd making it in, who could have made short work of a single wound, no save model, my Verminkin and Gutterrunner did. In a panic my Sorcerer threw a ball of Warpfire at the muscle-bound cow and instead of cooking his ass managed to knock over my Gutterrunner in base contact and do the same to my Assassin on the floor above.
Suffice to say, my Verminkin did not kill the cow.

He was only stunned in return but this meant that someone was dying in Matt’s next turn. My leader and Black Skaven got charged on the upper floors while the other goats failed Initiative tests to get into the house, thankfully. The Shaman Dark Wings’d into my Black Skaven, and the stage was set for a three-floor brawl in the vampire-home.

Tables were broken, windows smash and a book-cased violently dismantled over someone’s head. Blod, fur, gristle and spit decorated the interior and the enighbours were kept awake with roars, squeals, braying and bleats. At the end of the combat phase, one goat and the minotaur were down as was my Verminkin – what a fan-fucking-tastic trade that was! Sadly my Skaven bottled it and ran with their two wyrdstone, even if I wanted them to stick it out a bit longer, and Matt took the victory.

We both got two bonus wyrdstone, his minotaur didn’t in fact die – although nor did Kikuchiru, which wasn’t as great a cause of celebration. His shaman lost an eye and my Gutterrunner suffered a deep chest wound and was reduced to Toughness two! I picked up a ton of wyrdstone, maybe six, and also salvaged two pairs of bracers from the black market along with some Heavy Armour for my leader and a lot of light armour for my other chaps. I banked about 40gp and three wyrdstone and looked for my next opponent.

Game 2 – Rumble in the Ruins
Or opponents! Four of us got together for the first multiplayer free for all of the campaign – another wyrdstone hunt, but this time there was a massive eleven wyrdstone on offer! Matt’s Gors were back, bringing a Centigor (presumably the tour bus) with them and their bassist, who had missed the last game. He was on my right after deployment; on my left was Captain Bloodbeard and his undead crew commanded by David Dys, and on the far side of the table Felix’s so-far unlucky Carnival of Chaos lurked. There was one large, central ruin that was about 2’x2’ and a might four flours high (at some sections); most of the wyrdstone ended up here, with one being suspiciously close to each player’s deployment areas. Clearly no one was 100% confident that they could take and hold the ruined mansion.

I split my seven rats into two groups again, this time my Sorcerer and Halberd Skaven on the right near a house with a wyrdstone shard in and everyone else in the centre, facing an apparently sheer wall. I was trusting my high Initiative and movement to get me to the top, and a hopefully commanding position. Turn one everyone shambled, scurried, trotted, lurched or walked towards the centre except the Carnival, who were suffering severe PTSD and hung back in a nearby building, cradling a single wyrdstone shard. David D’s dogs scampered into to grab wyrdstone and Matt’s shaman Dark Wings’d into the manor ruins. Over the next three turns they battled for position until Matt’s minotaur caught a pig and began either trying to kill it or mate with it, we weren’t sure from the combat rolls. In that time the Carnival hadn’t moved except for one enterprising swarm of grubs which managed to sneak in and steal a shard from the manor despite having a movement of three. I failed dismally to pick off a strangler from Matt’s band, threw some rather ineffective gravel at Dys’s Blooddragon Vampire pirate and my claw-armed dude ran up the side of the manor, trying to corner the bray shaman who hadn’t failed to cast his spell once, and was now carting two wyrdstone by himself.

I had planned to nobble him, swipe the wyrdstone and then hide in a corner/voluntarily rout as soon as possible with my three shards. Matt took offense to my not-so-subtle plan (I’d shot at one dude and used my claw-Skaven’s zone of control to ensure his shaman couldn’t walk out) so pulled his entire band out of the manor ruins and back towards me – fortunately the small door space and woods interrupted this, and only a lone Gor got into combat with my Sorcerer. Oh, and of course the shaman cast his spell to escape not-quite-certain death and charge into my unlucky magician. Combat saw him removed by the Gor, so that was an issue.

In my turn I counter charged, surprising Matt with how far most of my dudes could go, and abandoned any kind of board control – with the shaman in my lines, my prize was easily within reach! And I only had to get my Verminkin sliced up to rout! That plan failed as I took down both the bray shaman and the Gor in combat. Dys brought his angry dead (slowly) around the manor, having been misled about my willingness to fight on two fronts, and caught by surprise at how quickly I could run away (‘redeploy’) and the Carnival unlocked the windows of their hovel, confused why they couldn’t hear the sounds of combat any more.
Matt charged in with everything except a Bestigor and the Minotaur, who had charge lines blocked by the manor wall and doors. In a truly surprising display of skill my entire war band won their fights, stunning or eliminating their opponents – except my leader who, charged by Matt’s chieftain, only managed to knock him down. Matt’s dice had been terrible and I could see him weighing up whether he was going to rout next turn – Dys’s remaining pig and vampire had already reached our brawl (swiftly becoming a tradition for our war bands) and his shambling horde were only a turn away. My verminkin had been destroyed by the vampire, which was a fortunately bad tactical move by Dys as it meant that in my next turn I could voluntarily rout – with a total of five wyrdstone, thanks to Matt’s unfortunate combat rolls!

I rolled first turn next, for the first time all game and really the only time it mattered. I spent a pretty intense seven seconds deciding if I wanted to roll into the vampire with everything, near definitely removing him but opening myself up for a counter charge by less stabby but not that much softer undead. Matt’s minotaur was lurking in the wings as was his last Bestigor, late to the gig for reasons best left unexplored, and they could have made pretty short work of something themselves and I could see him eyeing up the so far undefeated vampire. Glorious victory shined bright in my eyes, the promise of riches and renown filling my mind…

Then I remembered I was a Samurat. I fought not for glory or riches, but mainly to stab people in the back when they weren’t looking and steal things back to the hovel I’d been hired to ‘protect’/enrich. So I put down my dice and declared I was off, taking my five remaining rats and five shiny wyrdstone with me.
Dys finished off Matt’s leader but his Wight couldn’t manage the Bestigor in one round, the Carnival came out of hiding and began to prance about a bit and Matt also routed, with only one shard despite an serious lead in the early game. Dys then made the somewhat suspect decision to rout, on the basis he’d lost two pigs and didn’t want to risk losing something else – this left a very surprised Felix with a wholly unexpected victory, if not much wyrdstone for it.

In the after game my Sorcerer recovered fully (more like had faked it…), Kikuchiru the First died and was instantly replaced, and I rolled another five wyrdstone on my exploration. Pretty ratting good game! So far I’d lost two games and come out with enough surplus wyrdstone to see me through for at least two more! I went shopping again, although since I only sold six shards to avoid a glut I could only afford helmets for every one and the hiring of Kikuchiru the Second, complete with two swords, a helmet and light armour. Spoilt bloody henchman he was too…

I also got some skill ups, far more excitingly! My Sorcerer went up to BS4, making him mildly more useful with his pistol, and some bracers which allowed me to swap out his sword for a halberd. My halberd Skaven got himself Lightning Reflexes and Tail Fighting, giving him and extra sword attack and a parry bonus with his bracers while also ensuring he was going to be striking at Initiative with chargers. Claws only got one advance, which was Tail Fighting avec new sword for the bonus attack. My Toughness two Gutterrunner, now dubbed Heihachi, got Knife Master, allowing him to throw his knives three times a turn, while the other received an additional Attack and Initiative making him a pretty scary prospect one on one. My leader also picked up Lightning Reflexes; my thinking was that, while I could almost guarantee a charge with my high movement and climbing ability, if I could bait people into making mistakes by charging into my Reflexed people then I’d half my work done!

So the Samurats were bloodied and bruised, technically beaten but bouncing back better than before! They were also a lot of fun to play, the options available on each of them and the different equipment I’d dished out making them each a little more characterful. Yes, I could have done this with goblins and if I re-rack again I’ll probably go back to them with a fresh plan that I’ve put together. But first the sun had to set on the legend of the Seven Samurats, and it looks like it’s going to be a long, long day.