Thursday, December 31, 2009

Khador Update & Last Post of 2009

I've been given a painted War Dog for Xmas from my good friend Ken and show it here with a Devastator I've just finished (for the second time). First, the War Dog. Ken gave three of his friends painted miniatures this year. If you visit Geektactica you will see a Viktor Pendrake he painted up for Jason and an Epic Deneghra he painted for Mark. These are all princely gifts and I will be using mine faithfully henceforth, including at GenCon in August, 2010, God willing. The pictures show Ken's craft well. Thanks Ken. You're a hard act to follow.

About the Devastator, a combination of a Testors Dullcote failure and a fall from a 4 foot ledge created a perfect storm for this miniature. I didn't strip it. I probably should have, but I thought that 10 - 15 coats of diluted red along with some coats of Reaper Clear Red would fix the painting. To an extent it has. To an extent it hasn't. It is alright fine, as my Nanny used to say. I'm done with it.

The latest iteration of my Vlad list follows below. I have probably two or three gaming days between now and GenCon. That's just the way it is for me living in the wargaming boonies as I do. I'm assuming Hardcore at GenCon will be at the 35 point level.

Army Points: 35

Name Cost
Vladimir Tzepesci, Dark Prince of Umbrey -5
War Dog 1
Drago 8
Juggernaut 7
Destroyer 9
Eiryss, Mage Hunter of Ios 3
Battle Mechaniks (Full) 3
Great Bears of Gallowswood 5
Widowmakers 4

I'm finishing Drago now, have started to build my extreme Jugger, and await the arrival of the extreme Destroyer from Washington state (which is why I am going with those two jacks in my list to accompany Drago).

My number one resolution for 2010 is to buy no miniature this year! This will be a first for me since I started this hobby in June of 1996. As a matter of fact, I ordered my final miniature of 2009 late last night with a purchase of the new Skarre 2009 sculpt from Privateer Press. I call that going out on a high note!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Khador Victrix!

This weekend I travelled 700 kilometers, mainly amidst darkness, rain, fog and assorted incidents of misery and terror, to attend a 6 player tournament in St. John's. Of course, this sort of journey makes perfect sense to any wargamer.

My list was as follows:

Vlad the Dark Prince of Umbrey
Great Bears of Gallowswood
Man of War Drakhun without dismount
Man of War Kovnik
Man of War Kovnik
Kayazy Assassins (6)
Assassin Underboss
Greylord Ternion
Meckaniks (4)

My pictures were not amongst my finer efforts of that kind. The first three below show Vlad's struggle with Asphyxious after two rounds of battle. Note in particular the placement of both Asphyxious and the Drakhun. In the third turn, Asphyxious came out and triggered the countercharge. But I whiffed on the damage roll and only did 13 points of damage on him.

In this picture you will notice the Widowmakers on the edge of the woods at the top. They have just taken out the only Cryx arc node on straight damage rolls with the help of Vlad's Signs and Portents. This was to severely limit the Cryx ability to interfere with the Khadoran plans. At 6 points each for the BoneJacks under Mark II the field has certainly changed for Cryx players. I would still think two of them are going to be required for casters like Gaspy, Dennie, the Coven and Skarre but that's just my opinion. The Widowmakers and Eyriss are always going to be able to lay the hurt on Cryx arcing from now on.

In this picture Vlad has charged up (using Boundless Charge) to get some cover from the BoneJack which had just run at the Widowmakers. As it turned out Vlad's impact on the battle was over.
This is where the battle was decided. The Assassins have lost stealth in Mark II so they need either cover or low MAT enemies to safely move across the battlefield into their threat range. A unit of Mechanithralls is perfectly suited for such a role. At MAT 4, they can only hit Assassins in melee on a roll of 12 (unless somehow aided by spells or other abilities). I believe the Cryx player rolled either 14 or 16 attacks here and missed every one.
Then, Asphyxious moved up, feated, killed 3 warriors, and then teleported back behind the Mechanithralls to get some healing from the NecroSurgeon. Then, the Assassin Underboss did his Killstrike mini-feat. Asphyxious died. Marc is a fell Cryx player. All I can say for sure is that nothing I did in this game will ever work against him again. Ever.

This is the second game against a Cygnar force led by Captain Stryker. In this picture both of my Kovniks have just been knocked down.

Practically speaking, the scenario conditions required that I destroy these two Cygnar jacks in the third round of the battle, as that would give me control of the 10" diameter area - surrounding the medal on the table - that they were located in.
The destruction of the two jacks is accomplished by Vlad's Signs and Portents used to buff shooting attacks from the Kovniks and melee attacks from the Great Bears, the Assassins, and the Juggernaut.
The final game was against a Trollblood force led by Madrak. The first two shots are views of the battlefield after turn 1. Madrak had a Mauler, an Axer, and a Pyre Troll. There was a unit of Champions, a Fell Caller, a unit of Pygs, and that particularly annoying solo - the Totem Hunter - that always ends up taking a few of my heads.

Now, this shot shows the location where, effectively, the battle was decided. I charged the Drakhun onto the Mauler. Basically, the Drakhun was killed by the Mauler and Madrak, who jumped over the wall to get at it. This allowed Vlad to use Boundless Charge and charge Madrak with 5 focus to spare. Madrak had only one fury, and thus with his scroll could only tranfer one lot of damage and ignore one lot. Before charging him I took a point off of him with a sniper shot, and I think 2-3 points with an AxeCannon shot from one of my Kovniks. I killed him on my last attack.

This is Vlad after Madrak's body was hauled off by his trusty Mauler. (In other words I screwed up the photo of the pivotal engagement.)
These are the rankings after the tournament. A win on Scenario condition got 1 point, a caster kill was worth 1, and VPs were calculated in the event of a tie. I had 4 points, from meeting 2 Scenario conditions plus 2 caster kills, in three games.

Thoughts on the Day

Vlad has been modified quite significantly in MK II, possibly more than most other Warcasters. His feat is restricted now to jacks in his battlegroup, rendering jack marshalling a non-issue for him. His Signs and Portents and Blood of Kings are both up to 4 points, making it impossible for him to cast both in the same turn. However, he can now cast Boundless Charge on himself during his activation. This is a huge benefit. I really liked Vlad before and I like him even better now. It's easy to complain that he's been nerfed, but I think he's as powerful as he could be while retaining game balance. Signs and Portents is one of the most powerful spells in the game. When cast to assist shooting and melee attacks from 3-4 units there is very little that can survive the onslaught that follows.

Kayazy Assassins

How do you say Awesome! in Khardic? This unit killed Asphyxious in game one, helped kill an Ironclad in Game two, and killed a Totem Hunter and a Fell Caller in game three, before mixing it up with the Champions until the big boys showed up. The Underboss is a must-have. Losing Stealth appears to be a drag but at Defence 14/Defence 16 to melee attacks the trick is to use the enemy units as cover.

Great Bears of Gallowswood

OMFG! These guys are giant killers. I will never play a Khador force without them again. They killed 3 out of 5 Troll Champions in one turn. Three Axe attacks finished off an Ironclad after it lost some points to a couple of AxeCannon shots and two Assassins. They have Tough. They can't be knocked down if Kolsk is still alive. They have 360 degree vision if Yaroslav is alive. Volkov gives them a charge with Pathfinder. They are death incarnate. I love them.

Man of War Drakhun

The Drak has lost the multiple attacks (Flying Steel). That said, his Dismount only costs 1 point. That's the best deal a Khador player can get. I didn't have a dismount this time. Doh! That will not happen again. I think it's a must have unit for my style of play. It's not for everyone, but it attracts way more attention than it deserves, and it deserves a shagging lot of attention.

Greylord Ternion

The Blizzard spell was woeful for me all day, and in my game aginst JET's Caine list later that night I cast Blizzard twice on Vlad and both attempts missed as I rolled over 7 on each. While typical for that whole day, it didn't matter much earlier. It cost me the game against Caine. I'm not convinced these guys are first-stringers for me anymore. I think Ice Cage is still a very powerful spell that could well make them worth their points, but I just can't get them up the table fast enough to use it. I think I'm going to try the Koldun Lord instead of these guys. Okay, I/we was/were wrong about how the Ternion works in MK II. The Blizzards work automatically. This changes the landscape significantly for this unit. While pricey, the ability to automatically gain another +2 DEF against shooting attacks for Khador models trying to come to grips with the enemy makes this unit very attractive. The only issue then is simply keeping up with the models sought to be protected.


Still a must-have unit. With Signs and Portents you could well disable an aggressively played arc node on turn two every time. I can't see playing without them.

Man of War Kovnik

I really love these guys. I like to play with two. They are like offensive linemen. Most people don't notice them but they keep the QB from getting sacked and, occasionally, they get the big play in.


I won't be taking these guys again. My list doesn't really need support the way I play it and I won't be jack marshalling again with Vlad given the change to Forced March.


I still haven't figured out how to play this guy properly. This is after 4 years of trying. I think I'm going to look at another option.


Great jack. I didn't get one critical with it all day, which was a bit of a drag, and I have decided to finish painting up Drago for this list.


My final game that night at JET's house against his Lieutenant Caine list. This is a picture of the Cygnar battleline. A good game that I lost to a good man.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

X Carpasia - Painted Gripping Beast EIR

This unit is the latest addition to my Early Imperial Roman army. I purchased these figures in 2002 I think. I have a long painting cue. The shield transfers are by Little Big Man Studios and are of the usual amazing character. I like this centurion pose. All of the soldiers in this veteran legion are wearing mail. Here is the complete unit of 24. In behind is a GB sculpt of a dismounted Caesar instructing a Foundry sculpt of a Primus Pila.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Project-Oldest Minis; Airfix 1/32 WW2 Germans

These are amongst the first miniatures I ever had. Alright, they are toy soldiers. I found them, and a horde of their fellows, after they had been in storage for over 20 years. These are Airfix 1/32 Germans. I bought them in Drogheda, Ireland in 1973. I've got a couple of young boys now, and I thought I'd paint these up for them. I didn't take the mold lines off, and the painting is basic black undercoat, one coat of colour, a coat or two of Future over that, all followed by a coat of brush-on matt varnish. I like them.
These are the entire horde of plastic toy soldiers, including the ones since painted in the picture above (the Germans are blue). You can see a Timpo Crusader footman on the top. There is a Timpo horse, sans barding, visible there as well, and there are many more Timpos below the surface. I purchased those one at a time in London, England in the year 1969. My father used to take me down to a toy-store/newsagent on England's Lane, Camben Town, early every Saturday morning and I'd get one knight and my brother would choose a Beano or some other comic of the time. Fine memories. I had to clean these. The smell of them was appalling, unwashed as they were for near 40 years.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October Painting Projects - Khador, Cryx and EIR

This latest addition to my Khador force is a unit of elite Empress Guard Shocktroopers. I'm just making that up naturally, but the idea is that I'll join these with Beast 09 and some other elite jacks, solos and troops under the command of eIrusk. The red connects these to the rest of my Khador force, while the light green denotes their excellence.

These Mechanithralls are my first painting project for my newest Warmachine army, the dreaded forces of Cryx. Next is a Seether.

Finally, a unit of 12 Early Imperial Roman cataphracts based for Warhammer Ancient battles. The figures are by Wargames Foundry. The kontos are from Gripping Beast and may well be an OOP code now. I did ask that they be cast for me probably about 4-5 years ago. The Beastie boys have always been good like that.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

MKII Khador Update

This is one of those guilty WIP posts. The last 4 weeks have been the busiest of my career, which is not quite what I had in mind when I moved jobs in an attempt to try and get my life in balance with my work. I have been attempting, fitfully, to spend a little time at the hobby, directed towards my MK II Vlad list for GenCon 2010.

Plan A for that list involves Drago. I had to rebuild this model due to my initial poor planning on the fit. Again. It's a sweet miniature.

Plan B is a Beserker, one of two I'm going to need. The other is coming from BrookHurst Hobbies in the next week or so.

This isn't Plan C. I'm painting these MOW Shocktroopers because I like them and I had planned (in the MKI days) to do an eIrusk MOW list. These will be finished in the same scheme as Beast-09, so I'll be raising the green up quite a bit.

As for the GenCon MK II list, it will be Vlad, Drago and a Wardog, a MOW Kovnik with 2 Beserkers, and a Koldun Lord with 2 Juggernauts. This assumes that 35 point lists will be the level set by PP for HardCore at GenCon.

As for Vlad, I fully understand why PP changed him, raising the costs of casting both Blood of Kings and Signs and Portents to 4 focus each. It has to do with his feat and how well he runs jacks, which in MK II means he's much more of a go-to guy for Khador - and threat against everyone else - than he was in MK I.

I also appreciate PP making available the final MK II rules and card stats as free downloads. Thanks.

To war! To war!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Space Hulk!

There is so little happening from a hobby perspective in my life right now, leaving aside the usual imaginings of any committed wargamer, that I have just got to post last night's introduction to GW's latest regurgitation, the 3rd edition of Space Hulk. In short, nice components, nice gaming miniatures, and simple rules which I learnt the essentials of in about 3 minutes.

The first mission in the rules provided in the box is Suicide Run. A Space Marine terminator squad has to destroy a control room to prevent the Tyranid genestealers on the space hulk from exiting it via functioning lifeboats located on same that are controlled from that room. The room can only be destroyed by the flamer armed terminator. The Marine player has to accomplish this or fail. Killing the flamer dude is a win for the tyranid player.

This first picture shows the gameboard after turn 2. There are four genestealer blip markers on the board, one being hidden behind the door at 12:00 o'clock. The Terminator sergeant is leading the way. He is dead hard, but genestealers are dangerous critters in their own right. The rearmost terminator is on overwatch to deal with trouble from behind, the worst kind.In the next picture, the stealers are revealed. The tyranid player did not move blip markers again for the rest of the mission.
In this next picture you will note the absence of the Sergeant. Yes, torn to little pieces after his pistol jammed. One of the great risks for a Marine player is a jammed storm bolter on overwatch as it does lead to unpleasantness. One of the main effects of the death of the Sergeant was to expose his companion bearing the Flamer to unwanted attentions as can be seen below.
The Flamer Marine was able to ward off the genestealers for a while, but on his last firing he was unable to kill the closest of three genestealers he shot at (he rolled a 1 on his to wound roll) which allowed the confrontation below to occur. Genestealers get three attack dice againt the one attack back of this particular Marine. Victory to the Cult!

Final thoughts: this is a very well produced game. It has to be said that this particular mission was not particularly riveting from a gaming perspective. As well, I am in my 5th decade on this planet and I did not play first edition Space Hulk back in the day (25 or so years ago). So I don't have the nostalgia that playing it in my late teens/early twenties would bring to the table today, and I guess it just wasn't that exciting from a gaming perspective. I don't mean to damn it with faint praise. I'll pick the game up if there are any copies left in the MSRP range and it's not too much trouble, but if I can't get it I won't lose any sleep. I am going to paint up a couple of squads of my OOP Deathwing terminators for the next time I play against my friend.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thoughts on Warmachine's Next Big Thing

On the evening of August 14th, 2009 many hundreds of Warmachine players across the globe joined with those in attendance in a convention room somewhere in the sprawl of GenCon 2009 to discover what exactly it was that Matt Wilson of Privateer Press was going to unveil as the NBT for Warmachine. I won't say that speculation was rampant for the week before the announcement, but certainly there must have been a high level of interest in the tabletop wargaming geek community across the globe.

Let's face it, we have a new and most high and excellent edition of Warmachine. There is a completely new faction, the Retribution of Ios, with an army book and a massive release of miniatures all of which became available for purchase on August the 13th at GenCon. In the context of Privateer Press' enviable security against rumours, what could it possibly be?

I went with the Orgoth invasion, for much the same reason that I always choose heads on a coin toss. My friend Ken guessed a naval variant of Warmachine, given recent releases and No Quarter articles. Others on the net chose a Warmachine mass battle game, or a new faction from southern Immoren, or new unit types or abilities. Some people chose a movie or a videogame.

As it turned out, it is a videogame. It will be able to be played on xBox and Playstation but not on Wii. Whether it will be a FPS or a RTS (?) is not yet known. It will have multi-player capacity. The player will control a warcaster with a battlegroup. Presumably there will come into being a domain on the interweb where online combat between warcasters from all the factions, reminiscent of certain of the fiction in Legends and other books, will be ongoing 24/7 in a WOW mode.

What is to be made of this? Well, first of all let me say that what Privateer Press does is none of my business. I'm not interested in questioning the wisdom of its business plan. If I had shares in the company or if I had otherwise invested in it that would be different. Because, as I sit here, I have both an Extreme Juggernaut and Drago winging their way towards my collection does not give me any say on what PP does. I acknowledge this.

That said, I won't be buying a Playstation, xBox or other video or computer gaming system so I can play this or any other videogame. Nor will I be losing myself and my marriage in an online Immoren chasing electrons about the web. It's just not my thing. I'm a tabletop wargamer. Warmachine is, I thought, a tabletop wargame. I'd rather play 10 games a year against other human beings on a 4' x 4' surface than 1,000 against a computer or against others on a computer.

For me, and this is solely my personal take on the matter, computer gaming is a form of wasting disease or elongated suicide. There is no substance to it. When I was a child, there were pinball machines that retained high scores and so, in the small communities that played on them, there was at least the competition amongst the various players to have their three initials up there between plays. There was no cheating the tilt. PAK was the man, until he wasn't the man any more.

I need that human element, the person on the other side of the table, the sense that "this all happened", the substance of the acquisition, preparation, modelling, painting, deployment, movement, the gaming with and putting away of miniatures, scenery and the tabletop surfaces. I need the art, the travel to play, the thrill of a victory or, more likely, the agony of yet another defeat, but a victory or a defeat that is witnessed by at least one other human being.

I sat at a computer a few times in the early 90's and got up 14 hours later after my civilization was nuked out of existence. Afterwards, it was hard to shake the feeling that I had just wasted so much of my time. There are some lines of script from Bladerunner that I think are apt to decribe what I'm trying to say:

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. Time to die.

It's hard to imagine describing anything that ever happened in a videogame with such language. Isn't it more the case that every moment playing a videogame is forever lost in time, just throwing parts of one's life away as if it was garbage?

I know, I know, different strokes for different folks.

I can't wait to get Drago and that Extreme Juggernaut. My tabletop gaming schwi is only going to get better with these additions to my arsenal. Really.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Book Review - John M. Del Vecchio's The 13th Valley

This novel was first published in 1982. The particular story follows the experience of the members of one company of the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) in offensive operations in the Khe Ta Laou valley, located in the area of South Vietnam the US armed forces called 1st Corps, between August 13 and August 25th, 1970. By that point in the Vietnam War the Americans were well into the Vietnamization process, withdrawing US troops in the tens of thousands per month and continuously passing over fire and other front line bases to ARVN units. John M. Del Vecchio served as a combat correspondent with the 101st in 1970 and 1971 in the area south of the DMZ (1st Corps) where the actions in this novel took place.

I think it is now safe to say that this work is one of the great war novels of the 20th century, easily keeping company with Solzhenitsyn's August 1914, Jones' The Thin Red Line, Heinrich's The Cross of Iron and Mailer's The Naked and the Dead. This book is not pulp fiction. There is nothing in the least bit gratuitous about the violence of the combat scenes. Nor is the writing of the masturbatory variety like that, most notably in the years since, of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels. With Sharpe we know at all times that he will suffer from no vississitude more inconvenient than a temporary interlude between sexual partners or perhaps a superior officer that he will thwart with ease at the right time. He never misses with musket or rifle, treasure falls into his lap like manna from heaven, and his foes (and lawyers generally) will all suffer from fates that would make any schoolboy shudder.

In The 13th Valley, the opposing forces, NVA regulars and Air Cav infantry, are equally brave and equally capable. There is no attempt by Del Vecchio to portray the character of any particular Vietnamese (except perhaps one Kit Carson Scout). They remain unknown to the reader, except through their deeds, but their deeds are known to the Americans. The difference between the opposing forces in the Khe Ta Laou is material in nature. The Americans had helicopter gunships, artillery of all calibres, B-52 bombers and an endless supply capability. The NVA had AK-47s, RPGs, mortars, bicycles, sampans and rice.

The combat scenes are incredible. Everything that happens has the indelible mark of truth. The interior life of the American soldiers, the transition from cherry to boonierat, the racial tension in the unit, the techniques and tactics of jungle fighting, whether on recon, ambush or in listening posts, or while in movement, during assault or in the desperate anguish of counter ambush, all of this is wholly contained within the pages of this novel.

A somewhat fascinating aspect of this book that has absolutely required the passage of time is the similarity of the mindset between the Nixon establishment and that of Dubya. There are good reasons for this, ones are well beyond the confines of this short review, but time and again the message of that time was capable of being readily transposed to this.

Other contrasts occur to the reader. It has been commonly asserted by American authorities over the last decade (well, at least since the invasion of Iraq) that the current volunteer army is of a higher quality in terms of educational background than that of the draftees (and volunteers) that fought in Vietnam. The 13th Valley offers another perspective on this issue, and one can only wonder how accurate the message of the last few years has been. After all, unless a college graduate dodged the draft, most notably by either leaving for Canada or serving in the Texas Air National Guard, there was a very good chance that he would have ended up in Vietnam in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The images and writings of the Iraq War that I have seen have not led me to consider the US forces there overly comprised of university graduates. This is not to detract from the servicemen and women in either war. I think, ultimately, that despite the fact that this is not an anti-war novel as such, Del Vecchio does continually seek to remind us that America lost far more than a war in Vietnam. It lost tens of thousands of its citizens there, citizens who were thinkers, lovers, caregivers, fathers to be, citizens who learned how to tell right from wrong under the sternest test any person can face. That is the great tragedy of any war I suppose, but it is particularly so where a war is fought for reasons that are open to doubt.

Apart from that, there is the myth in the US, which Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick and Oliver Stone bear no little responsibility for, that combat in Vietnam was fought by American soldiers to the accompaniment of music. While this sells soundtracks, it hardly seems credible given the kinds of operations engaged in by US troops in the jungle or to and fro those operations. Of course, this has since changed with the 2003 Iraq war and it now appears clear that heavy metal is de riguer when US forces are unleashing, erm, heavy metal.

One final note on Oliver Stone. There were several moments while reading The 13th Valley that I was reminded of scenes in Platoon. This may well be because Stone experienced similiar events himself. There are some indications that he fought as a recon grunt in the A Shau Valley with the 1st Cavalry Division in 1968. The A Shau is in 1st Corps, south of the Khe Ta Laou. That said, it was interesting to me to compare the images that the prose of Del Vecchio inspired with those that Stone directed into being in Platoon. It seems strange, but Del Vecchio's prose is more cinematic than the very movie that most closely relates to its action. I think this is more of a compliment to Del Vecchio than a criticism of Stone. Film and writing are different media, and it may well be that the former is more limited in what it can portray to our minds. In any event, despite the fact that Del Vecchio wasn't writing a screenplay, his work is profoundly cinematic in nature, and perhaps more than is possible for a work of cinema.

In the final analysis, I simply could not put this book down. If one is interested in the American phase of the Vietnam War for any reason whatsoever this novel is a gold mine. For wargamers, I can't think of any fiction that I've ever read from the Vietnam War canon that has as much intrinsic value. There are obviously excellent non-fiction works about the war that cannot be ignored - most notably for me Bernard Fall's Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu - but The 13th Valley is written by a veteran who was in fact a boonierat, and he has recounted his experiences in a way that transcends the narrative of either an academic or a hack. Highly recommended.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A new direction

I have recently been quite inspired by a holiday in Gros Morne National Park and by the works I discovered there of a Canadian landscape artist named Shawn McNevin. Many of her subjects are to be found in the park. The Works page of her website is as follows:

I understand the gulf that separates me from an artist of her talent and experience. What I intend is somewhat imitative, but I will be using acrylic on canvas, and the scenes that I intend to paint, for the most part, will be used as backdrops for tabletop photographs. The picture above shows my first canvas with two basecoats of white gesso on it so far. At least one more coat of gesso will be needed. Then I will lightly sketch out the scene before starting to paint it in.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Impetus - Introduction

Ancient wargaming with historical miniatures is a longstanding interest of mine, and I have been interested in trying out the Impetus rules for quite a while. I finally had a chance to do so on the night of July 25th under the tutelege of Jason and Mark.

I had a brief experience with WAB in the early part of this decade, but that scene basically fell apart. I don't really know why now, but certainly those who were inclined to historicals in my circle at the time gravitated towards small scale miniatures, mainly 6mm, and seemed IIRC to be more focused on rulesets that I didn't find particularly enticing. I liked WAB, and I like 28mm scale miniatures.

To go on then, Impetus has been making strides with my friends. They are playing at 6mm now, but the lion's share of them are going on to larger scales, and I think 15mm will become the standard for the next couple of years. I purchased the Impetus rulebook and Extra Impetus 1. I read both over a few times and I have done some list building, but this weekend past was my first kick at the cat.

I think the rules are elegant. I like the balance Lorenzo Sartori has found between resilience and decisiveness. Everything seems to work in a sensible manner in terms of, for just a few examples, how distance is traversed, how weaponry works, how different classes of troops and levels of generalship function and, most importantly, how psychology influences the course of battle. The peculiar rule mechanics he has created, whether of his Zone of Control, the Impetus bonus, or VBU, interact well together.

I am also quite attracted to element based wargaming now. I like the possibility of diorama. I like the fact that all the miniatures on an element base can be seen (I'm talking the larger scales here). I like the fact that I need fewer miniatures and the fact that I can truly use the full variety of available poses.

I also was impressed by the way the game I played appeared to be capable of being rationally compared to historical conditions. We played Romans versus Parthians. The battle became messy, indeed, it became chaotic, as the various combinations of interpenetrating, advancing, charging, fleeing, and waiting units intermixed on the tabletop. This is what it must have seemed like to the soldiers on the field of Carrhae, a total shambles. And then, there was the straying of units of my cataphracts from their course, so that charges became difficult when in the final approach to the enemy...historically, units of heavy cavalry and heavy infantry always found it difficult to maintain a straight line. Men always gravitate towards the cover provided by the shields of their fellows.

This is my force, cataphracts to the left and horse archers to the right. You can see foot skirmishers in front of the cataphracts. My general to the left was excellent quality, the one on my right wing was either average or poor.
This is after my first moves (each command moves separately). In this game the Romans, having superior command, and having Jason rolling superlative roll-off dice, were able to go first every turn of the game. I always went second and third (Jason's army had only one general in command). This picture shows that I moved twice with all troops on the left wing. Two of three units of both the Cataphracts and the foot Skirmishers were disordered after failing their command check upon their second move. On the right wing, I moved the unit of elite horse archers that was accompanied by my general three times and became disordered. Everything else moved twice. I passed evey other command check.
This and the next photograph show my elite cataphract unit with attached general rampaging through the Roman right flank. This was good fun and also helped clarify how the rules work so well and so simply in the context of a situation with all the potential for serious complication.
You can see in this picture that my elite Cataphracts had effectively thrown a wrench in the Roman right so significant as to engross the attentions of two units of auxiliary cavalry, one unit of auxiliary foot, two units of legionaries, and two units of foot skirmishers. In the end this didn't work out as well as could have been expected, but that's pretty true to life as well, isn't it?

I have decided to begin work immediately on a 400 point 15mm medieval French army, using mainly Corvus Belli miniatures, with some references from Mirliton. I intend to complete this by November, possibly December. It will hit the table this year.

This is Khador! Multi-caster gaming

On the weekend of July 25th-26th, I attended a Mark II Warmachine event with three of my friends at St. John's. I had determined to play three separate casters. It was my first time playing Mark II and I had never played one of the casters (eVlad) before. All games had one victory condition...caster kill.

The first game was against a beautifully painted Kreoss army played by Ken. I was playing Sorscha. Also Sprach Zarathustra was playing during these first few moments:
In this picture I had just moved up, used Sorscha's feat defensively, and Windrushed away.
In this picture the full results of my folly are apparent. Sorscha no longer has a defensive feat. Shake-it-Off has Finished it Off. Sorscha is now apparently a finesse assassination caster. If I wanted that I'd play Deneghra. It's not a big deal and I won't use any dreaded words of winge, but I expect it reasonable to forsee that we will see less and less of her at gaming conventions from now on, which is too bad because she is one of the archtype characters of this game. By the way, this was a crushing defeat, with my caster killed during Kreoss' feat by the shooting attacks of two warjacks.
My next game was pVlad playing against the Iron Lich list of Mark. I think myself and Mark were probably equally apprehensive about the other's toolbox. This first picture shows my forces advancing towards a boneturkey and the dreaded DeathJack.
My initial solution to the problem posed by these adversaries was to run Beast-09 up to them under Vlad's feat (Forced March). Mark's initial solution to this was to attempt to get the Death Jack to double-handed throw Beast-09 into the lake. He rolled 6 on two dice, I rolled 6 on one. Both jacks have Strength 12 so it was a no go with the throw. Whew!
A huge maul developed for a while, until dissipated somewhat by the lethality of the participants.
Further bloodletting ensued.
By this point, the Great Bears had wrecked the BoneTurkey, Beast-09 had destroyed the Slayer and the DeathJack had finished off Beast-09. This left Vlad a charge lane to the Lich which he took thanks to Boundless Charge. I played a limp game against Kreoss but that led to me displaying proper Khador agression in this match. My third match was against Jason playing eHaley. Another fantastic painted army to face off against. This is the tabletop view through the gully to the foe. Gulp!
This is the main part of my force ready to enter the fray.
This was probably the high point of the game for me. Jason did not know about the Drakhun's countercharge rule so I actually got the shagging thing into melee on this last of my three games. In the first game Ken had killed it with one shot from his Reckoner. In the second Mark had spelled it to death before I could charge. Anyways, here I was, ready to lay down the smack. But a Charger has defence 16. And I missed. Which sucked. Big time.
I advance Beast-09 and the heart of my army to the lakeside. Yes, that's deep water there. And right across the deep water, a free Charger.
Where is Beast-09 you ask? Well, as I discovered, eHaley has this little spell called Telekinesis, and she used it to give Beast-09 swimming lessons. Now, I don't know about you, but I'd much rather not know about a Drakhun's Counter Charge than not know about eHaley's Telekinesis. But that could just be me, I suppose.
One of the great truths of playing Khador is that every Vlad army is nothing more than a Vlad delivery system. Mine worked to get me up close and personal with eHaley. She turned out to be something of a Black Widow, if you take my meaning.
I had a great time. I can't wait to play again, and I really want to get a better understanding of eVald. He's cool.