Thursday, December 17, 2015

More Skirmish Games

It has been awhile since I posted anything.  I have been gaming regularly however!  Mostly Frostgrave.  I've enjoyed it so much I painted up a new warband for it, to use when we reset the campaign in 2016.  This time, I will be playing a Summoner using some of the great Bosch-Breugel type demons by Eureka Miniatures.  Been meaning to paint them for some time now.  Also I have been meaning to paint 28mm Burgundians, based very precisely on specific members of my reenactment group, with the actual models primarily made from the Perry Bros. plastic 15th century kits.  So this is an excuse to do both.  I have spent my initial 500gc on 7 models, which is a bit on the small side for a warband but hopefully I can summon a demon to even things up in games.  Besides if the last campaign was anything to judge, it won't take long to save up enough gold to rapidly expand the warband.  Once again I will be refusing to reuse dead characters, and will paint new ones to replace casualties.

The initial 7 are painted, being a couple of 15th century civilians for the Summoner and Apprentice.  Then I have a coustillier, archer, and 3 pikemen kitted out to meet the equipment requirements for various soldier types in Frostgrave.  Eventualy I will expand this tiny warband into a 1,000 point army for Warhammer Ancient Battles, but all in good time. 

The fellow with the red spear has had a paper pennon added in the hours since the pictures were taken.  Next up I need to paint a couple imps, a demon and a greater demon, for summoning in games.  I'm psyched to have found nice late medieval demons for my late medieval psuedo-historical warband. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Warband Continues

Not a full day after the paint had dried, I got in a game of Frostgrave with the Ashen Order and it was a good one.  They fought against a band of dwarves in a straight up fight since we forgot the book and, thus couldn't roll for scenarios.  A horrendous number of casualties were taken by both sides.  To be honest, it was a pretty one-sided fight from the beginning.  We were seriously outclassed by the veteran dwarf warband and Frostgrave has no real balancing mechanic for that.

Basically, it worked out like this:
  • Rodrigo the thug darted forwards, grabbed something that looked valuable and under orders from the wizard ran away with it and didn't stop running till he got back to camp. 
  • The archer and the apprentice got in position behind some rubble piles on a riverbank, to provide covering fire to the rest of their companions. They took out a dwarven thug but ultimately they were both badly wounded by enemy arrows and were presumed dead, They turned up at camp three days later, having played dead and floated away in the river. 
  • The two dogs and two knights charged ahead to grab something else that looked like it might be magical, valuable, or both.  Sir Liam took the loot and started to fall back with it towards the wizard (Magnus the Mad) who was casting spells to cover them.  Unfortunately a dwarf barbarian and wizard caught him and beat him to the ground while he was burdened with the treasure.  Magnus jumped in, and struck down the enemy wizard, drove back the barbarian and left as fast as he could, with a senseless Sir Liam over his shoulder.  The barbarian took the loot rather than try to pursue them. 
  • Meanwhile, Sir Samuel and the dogs had killed the enemy apprentice and a soldier or two, then retreated themselves when they saw how bad things had gotten.
So two apprentices, a wizard, and some four or five henchmen were taken out of action.  Anyone familiar with the rules to Frostgrave will know that was a horrendous bloodbath of a game. None of my casualties stuck however (you roll after the game for them) and the one treasure token we got turned out to be a small pile of coins and a magic orb.  You can sell magic items in this game (for half their value) if you don't want them.  I desperately needed to amp up my troops but the orb seemed like a fairly weak item for where I'm at in the game.  Looking at what the orb was worth, and figuring I only had two slots left in my roster, I could cash it in and add two very high quality guys while still retaining cash for future emergencies. 

So I reasoned that Magnus sent the orb back to the nearest castle of the Ashen Order, and the castellan decided to send a couple men out to find this warband and aid them in bringing more things back that the Order can use in their relentless persecution of necromancy. 

I wanted to add a lot more shooting to the warband because I actually got kind of lucky in this game.  I'm still very badly under powered compared to the others in the campaign and shooting favors the weaker army, and will tend to dominate skirmish games anyways.  So I added a tracker and a marksman, basically an archer and crossbowmen but with better stats, better close combat gear, and the marksman trades off some of his movement for better armor. Given that the knights have a low move already, I knew I couldn't add two marksmen or I'd be outmanouvered so, a tracker was the best choice for my 10th model. Also it seemed like a reasonable thing that the tracker and an old veteran sniper would be able to go out into  the wilderness and find the party of Magnus the Mad.  So with all that figured out, I had to make myself the relevant models!

I made the marksman and tracker with a mix of Perry and Fireforge bits.  The marksman was easy, just a mailled man with crossbow and sheathed sword.  The tracker gets a staff as his close combat weapon, so I just used a spear-arm with the spearpoint cut off to make his walking stick.  He's wearing a leather gambeson, and a Perry Bros longbowman arm and head fit with the Fireforge torso/cloak perfectly. 

The last thing to do is pick new skills/spells for my wizard.  By killing the enemy wizard he gets to level up several times between the games, which is pretty cool. I'd played two games of Frostgrave already. Playing with a specifically painted set of models was lots more fun though, as it usually is for any game. As someone who enjoys the modelling aspect of the hobby, I felt the game lends itself to creativity in modelling more than any other game I've played.  How?  Paradoxically, by stripping away a lot of the rules for specific models!  Every troop type is presented in very broad terms which allows some fun leeway in your figure building.  But it does this without falling into the trap of making them feel bland.  My verdict is, the game is really very good and you should take a look at it.  The comparisons to Mordheim are valid but there is a lot more to this game than that. If a 1990-something edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battles and a 1980-something copy of Dungeons & Dragons had a kid together, this is probably what it would look like.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


I've always really liked small skirmish 25mm games, where a single model really counts for something.  So, for now at least, the edition of Warhammer Fantasy I will be playing for the time being is... Frostgrave! A great game, it is very easy to adapt to almost any modelling style as the unit types are sufficiently generic. The only thing that was a hurdle to wrap my head around was that all expeditions into the destroyed city are led by wizards, no exception. I knew what kind of warband I wanted to paint, but it took me awhile to figure out what kind of magic using characters might go with it!

A fun new game by Osprey Publishing, Frostgrave has that utmost of advantages, a regularly meeting group of players, who are all people that I actually like being around.  Frostgrave, for anyone who has missed it, is a skirmish game very similar in background to Mordheim, which was a great game that I have played on and off since its release some 15 years ago.  Anyway...  Frostgrave Warbands are slightly smaller than in Mordheim, being for the most part limited to 10 models.  Interestingly enough, both games require you to start by recruiting a warband using "500 gold crowns".

I played my first couple games with a re-purposed models from my collection, but this week I was able to assemble and paint 8 models kitted out to the specifications of a 500 point warband.  I made most of these guys out of Fireforge crusader sets that I'd gotten a year ago just because they're too good NOT to have around (a box each of Foot Sergeants and Templar Infantry, to be specific) along with some GW bits for details.

Thus I made a party of warrior priests, (the Ashen Order, to be exact) based on old RPG characters my friends and I played in college.  Since SOMEONE never reads his friends blag, this will come as quite a surprise to the group tomorrow! I do love showing up to a regular group with a fully painted army or unit that no one knew I had!

First thing you have to create a wizard who is leading an expedition to the ruined city to retrieve magic items and lost knowledge. I made my wizard to be the archetypical DnD cleric type, he'll be a Thaumaturge in the game. This was simply a matter of giving a guy next to no armor, a big flowy cloak, and to be gesturing with a sword while reading from a book.  I am not happy with the lines I painted on the pages of the book, I will have to redo those later.  Next up is the wizards apprentice, I gave him a crossbow because handing out missile troops to the apprentice is actually the cheapest way to get them into your warband. I could have given one to the wizard but couldn't figure out a way to make it look cool, and besides, he should be casting spells, not shooting a bow. I wanted to optimize the warband for shooting but was unable to, for reasons of storytelling and roleplaying. Maybe if they get enough loot at tomorrows game, I can recruit/paint a couple more shooty-types.

My favorite to make was the "thug", a cheap model who comes equipped only with hand weapon and light armor.  I need one to bulk up my numbers a bit. I couldn't figure out why anyone would find themselves in Frostgrave with such bad equipment on purpose, so I burdened him down with a backpack, pouch, canteen, and spare ammo for the bow and crossbow.  He is the working stiff who has to haul the gear for the party! So that explains to my satisfaction why he can't carry more than a mace and basic armor. I really should have given him an axe instead of a mace, to chop the wood for the campfires!  Any gamer who was active in the 90's should recognize the archer, and probably have 50 or so rattling around their basement.  The knight in maille coif is based around my own medieval re-enacting kit, and for the time being represents me on the tabletop.

The warhounds are metal, from Gripping Beast, painted to match the dogs my old high school wargaming friend had back when I started into this mad hobby. To represent my mate, I simply added a knight to the warband, and put a leash on his belt and made him gesturing as if giving commands to his dogs.

To keep some discussion going, what other skirmish games do people recommend?  And on an unrelated note... any practical advice for getting the chaos game Path Of Glory up and running?  I have the "new" one that came out free in White Dwarf circa 2003, but am unsure how to actually get that mutated ball rolling.  Maybe get a group of gamers to chip in for a plastic chaos battalion and kit bash the heck out of it?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Being as that I never played Warhammer Fantasy Battles nearly as much as I would have liked to, I am resolved to get a game of it going now. However, gaming in this brave new world is going to represent some challenges. While I had thought about hacking the warscrolls into something I could use with newer gamers, I think this will be impossible, or at least, pointless.

On the surface, the free, ubiquitous nature of a pdf ruleset seems great for getting games going. Unfortunately the more I read them, the less interested I become.  I may still find a use for them but here's the thing: with the free rules out there, the books have devaluated on the secondary market to the point that they are no longer a costly barrier to entry. At this point I just need to find an opponent, settle on an edition to play, and that's that.

So, blagosphere, you tell me, what is the best edition of Warhammer Fantasy to be playing in this strange new era? I am going to make the case for 6th. I know it had a lot going against it, but that is probably the most widespread set of army books on the secondary market right now. I'd like to play an earlier edition but here's what they have going against them:
  • 5th edition: too much cardboard to keep track of
  • 4th edition: ditto, especially for magic
  • 3rd and earlier: too expensive, when you can even find them
Only thing that bothers me about 6th is that the army books for my favorite armies were pretty bad. I don't mean 'bad' in the sense that they were ineffective because I don't like that method of evaluating games. I mean 'bad' like, they failed to capture what was cool about those armies, or required weird rebasing of the figures. Nothing I can't fix with house rules and the like, but it's still annoying.

So, if any Oldhammer types are reading this, please chime in with advice on ditching the current rules and making your own group. I have been cutting my own path with regard to models for a long time now, and using outdated codices without apology in 40k while I waited to upgrade my more casually played armies. However, ditching the current core rules (while still trying to get regular games in!) is new to me. That being said, I'm also looking for good house rules to incorporate rank and file units into Age of Sigmar.  I have my own ideas but I will keep them to myself until I can mull them over and perhaps playtest them.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

R.I.P. Warhammer Fantasy Battles: 1983-2015

After wandering the wasteland for years, I will now update this blag.  

As many fine ladies and gentlemen in blagosphere have commented upon, Warhammer: The Game of Fantasy Battles has been discontinued by Games Workshop.  After 32 years, It has been replaced entirely by Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, a game with completely new rules, and taking place in a very different setting.  As such, the future of Warhammer is indeed difficult to judge.  There are a number of pros and cons to this new game, and judgement really has to be reserved for a solid 12-18 months to see what GW has in mind for developing this new game, and truthfully, what the sales figures end up looking like.  But below I offer some observations and predictions based on taking a very long view of the Warhammer franchise. 

Warhammer Fantasy Battles was, in 1983, considered to be a very simplistic, fast paced fantasy skirmish game.  It took off like wildfire because the background captured people's imaginations and the rules were considered very intuitive.  This will come as a surprise to many modern gamers, who would describe Warhammer rules as anything but "simple" or "easy to learn".  However, the fact remains, when the game was first released, it was a lot less complex than a lot of the other rule sets people were used to in the late 70's and early 80's, and with example armies consisting of 20-50 models, with typical regiments being only 5-10 models. That old game background that captured the hearts and minds of so many gamers was a mix of Tolkien, Moorcock, Asimov, and real history. It was world that was intuitive to the average nerd, and that counted for a lot over the years. Any time you chose to leave the Old World in favor of the real world for a few years, if you came back to it you'd know, instinctively, where to pick up again.  There were certain practical reasons for all of this, which aren't necessary to delve into here and now, but that's the way it was.  Over the years, rules got more and less complex depending on the edition, but average armies got ever larger, again for reasons that would take up a whole post on their own.    

I have played a game of AoS, once.  The rules are free to download, but there are no points values for any of the units, so we just used the armies from a previous boxed edition, figuring those models would be a balanced match up.  Goblins v. Dwarves it was, fighting in a castle, and the gobbos pulled off a narrow win. The experience was very much in the vein of Heroscape, Warhammer Quest, and other "gateway drug" games. I for one will not be buying the AoS boxed set, or playing games of it with strangers at the local shops.  But I will be using the warscrolls and my old books to make a Frankenstein's Monster of fantasy rules for my own personal use.  The rules tweaks that AoS needs in order for me to enjoy it seem to be so easy, I'm just glad that all army rules are now free.

For a long time, WFB has been struggling to recruit and retain players.  This may be GW's fault, but I don't really know.  It could be that the times are shifting away from generic fantasy worlds, and away from complex core rules sets. Maybe no one in this day and age of the internet actually needs a company to sell them a generic fantasy world. Changes as big as switching from WFB to AoS seem, to me and many other old hands, to be disastrous.  I don't intend to participate in this brave new world of Warhammer but it doesn't dampen my own personal fantasy gaming one bit, to be honest. I was shut out by enough of GW's past design decisions that I've been more or less forced to cut my own path in fantasy gaming as it is. Despite this, the core of WFB still had its uses to me.  For older gamers like myself, watching AoS unfold, it looks as if the baby's been thrown out with the bathwater. A beloved, reliable game universe has been replaced with something alien. For GW to get rid of Warhammer, is as big a deal within the wargaming world as it would be for American football fans if the NFL had permanently canceled the Superbowl. We might be a bit spoiled in this regard, in thinking that WFB would trundle on unchanged, forever.  The fact is, this is a tough industry, and even relatively minor GW spinoff games like Mordheim (R.I.P.: 1999-2013), have enjoyed a longer lifespan than than the entire existence of some reasonably successful wargame companies.  Maybe this Age of Sigmar debacle was inevitable, nobody can win forever. Perhaps this is the Star Wars: Episode I moment of Warhammer.  

Or maybe it will work. Maybe GW actually got back to basics, like way back, back to 1983.  They released a rulebook that is far simpler than most of what is currently out there, just like they did in '83.  Its apparently a game of small forces, just like WFB was in its infancy.  Like a lot of people, I don't approve of the silliness in the new rules, but reading them really felt like reading the old 80's rulebooks.  Books like West End's Star Wars: Miniature Battles and FASA's Battletech. Back then games were nowhere near complete, they unspokenly required the gamers to finish them.  Not a rules set, but a rules kit.  Paint your own armies, edit your own rules. The new, precise background of AoS precludes that feeling of freedom within the Old World that pervaded the generic background of before, but the rules feel much more open to interpretation and negotiation.  Even this weird new game setting could be more generic and open than I am capable of appreciating.  The whole history of fantasy gaming is only about as long as the history of music videos.  Maybe nowadays, with all that has unfolded between Forgotten Realms and World of Warcraft, this business of Realmgates and Sigmarines is intuitive to teenage nerds, the way the Old World and Chaos was to us in the 80's and 90's. The very nature of what it means to be a "generic fantasy setting" could (and probably has) changed significantly over our lifetimes. It is possible (though far from sure) that AoS will succeed for the same reason WFB caught on in '83.  People said that GW needed to get WFB back to its roots after the wayward impulses of 7th and especially 8th edition, but I think GW actually did that. They just took the game even further back into its roots than even the most of the old grognards were familiar with.

Now you kids get off my lawn!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Gaming Table: Acquired.

I now have a gaming table.  It serves no other purpose.  It was purchased new, not scavenged from somewhere.  This purchase was planned and made with the sole intent that the table be used for playing miniature wargames.  I will not clear the gaming stuff off of the table to use it for something else.  On this table, other stuff will be made to shove off in order for games to be played.  Owning a house is mostly work.  But there is also a gaming table in a house.