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.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Painting Workbench Update

This is one of my occasional painting updates. The number of projects I have on the go is probably unrealistic by most people's standards but I have no deadlines, and pretty well paint what I like.

The first item is a group of 5 Warmachine Khador MOW Shocktroopers. These paint up like a dream and will be done shortly.

Second up is the Warmachine Mercenary Unit, Lady Aiyana and Master Holt. The picture is poor, and the level of painting so far is not much better. It will be improved upon.

Third is a medley of the Khador Koldun Lord, an Avatar of Menoth, a couple of the new Perry Miniatures plastic Napoleonic French that I am picking away at, and three Imperial Roman officers from Warlord Games and the Wargames Foundry. Yes, that is a Cryx Mechanithrall.

Fourth is a collection of excellent Bob Olley ogre and troll sculpts I am painting up. The four smaller ones in front are sculpts Mr. Olley did for Reaper Miniatures. The two larger ones in the rear were purchased by me from Olley's Armies before Mr. Olley decided to close it and sell his sculpts. The masters of these two were purchased in a subsequent auction by an Italian gentleman named Francesco Accordi.

Fifth is a unit of Wargames Foundry Roman cataphract cavalry. I had eight of these for a number of years which I used in my late Roman army. Now they will, as increased, serve in my Early Imperial Roman army. As well, I took a couple of the tops of them in a pose where they thrust from overhead with their kontos and added them to a couple of Gripping Beast lower halves. Those figures will see service in the Roman war elephants.

Here are the crew for the elephants as noted above, along with 4 new Gripping Beast Roman cavalry command figures to join a unit of 8 that I painted a few months ago.

This is my next Roman legion. These are all Gripping Beast figures.

These last three pictures are just some eye candy that I found. They show the brand new Victrix Miniatures plastic 28mm Napoleonic Scottish foot. Are they not the absolute dog's bollocks? They are certainly on my shopping list for Christmas.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Kovnik Markov is completed

I finally finished this monster. It's a beautiful miniature but a lot of work. This is the one Privateer Press miniature that I should have pre-fitted, pinned and generally planned a little more for. (I have never pinned a warjack or warbeast, and I have a goodly few of them). The green stuff I used to sculpt the sash looks like a failure in the close-up and to be honest I am not that happy with it, but on the tabletop you can't tell that the sculpting job around the joint is not, erm, optimum in nature.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Recommended Read - Irregular Magazine No. 1

This is a free webzine I just came across today. The group (the Sheffield Irregulars) that is behind it look a cool lot. I've always enjoyed painting sessions with my gaming friends and they seem to have taken that to a new level altogether.

A couple of fine hobby articles, one on painting lava bases and one on painting an entire vehicle using only the GW Washes over a white basecoat.

The article on the new Guard Codex is a good laugh. It's been 2 and 1/2 years since I last played 40K with Jason (Geektactica) but I recall enough of the game to know just how broken the new Imperial Guard are. I guess if you're playing against them your opponent will occasionally have to hold you down like Sgt. Barnes, while shouting at you "Shut up! Shut up and take the pain! Take the pain!"

I feel inclined to try my hand at writing a short story so I may win the original of the exquisite cover art.