Saturday, July 16, 2011

My New White Lions

Before I get into my weekly dose of miniature goodness, I want to make a personal plea to vote for Rod Spellman for Ennies Judge.  You can vote here:

Rod writes the general gaming blog "On First," which you can find in my favorites.  He knows more about gaming than anyone I know, and as you can see from his reviews, he is able to analyze them with a keen eye.  I am certain that he would be an outstanding judge, so I hope you will head to that page and give him your vote.  If you have your own blog or are the member of any gaming related fora, feel free to evangelize the masses:  Rod Spellman for Ennies Judge!

Now that I've made my shameless plug, it's onto miniatures.

I've been working on rounding out my white lion unit this last week.  I've been running a unit of 30, which despite its high cost, has been working very well.  They do boatloads of damage, and their stubborn trait helps protect them from a bad round.  Currently, I managed to finish off the unit; however, I used a unit filler to do so.  I'm still deciding on whether I like it.  On one hand, I like the lion models, and when I run two lion chariots along with this unit, the army looks very nice together.  On the other hand, I'm not sure I like having two lions leaping out of ranked infantry.  What do you think?

Looking at the picture, I see that I need to paint the lion's eyes.  A handler might also look nice.  I have an idea for a conversion using the chariot driver, so I might add that next.

Incidentally, the white lions are the only of the new releases that I bought.  I think they far outstrip their metal predecessors.  On the other hand, I was happy with the old Dragon Princes and Phoenix Guard, so even though the new models are nice, I wasn't moved to purchase some.  I will say that this kit upset me a bit because it was far less customizable than most GW kits.  Each body was only matched with two out of the four available torsos, and when I tried to deviate from the guide, the models were left with gaps.  The end result is nice, but I guess I am spoiled by the freedom of the other kits.

It looks like I might get to try Hordes of the Things this week, so look for a reaction to that game in the coming days!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Storm of Magic Tournament (7/10 ~ Durham, NC)

In the last post, I said that I was going to take a tougher High Elf list to the uncomped tournament at Sci-Fi Genre in Durham.  This is the list that I ultimately took:

Archmage w/ Book of Hoeth
BSB w/ Armor of Caledor and Dawnstone

40 Spearelves
20 Archers (standard of discipline)

24 Phoenix Guard (Banner of Sorcery, Amulet of Light)
30 White Lions (Ironcurse Icon)
14 Swordmasters (Gem of Courage)


My plan was to use the irresistible Dwellers Below to soften up units for my capable close combat troops.  However, when I got there I learned that this was not a straight tournament.  Instead, it featured three of the scenarios from the new Storm of Magic expansion.  Needless to say, this changed the dynamics of the game quite a bit.  Here were the scenarios we played:

Scenario 1:  The only change was that players rolled 4d6 for power dice (with the top two being the dispel pool).  It seemed like 20 to 11 was the regular spread in my games.  At first glance, I thought this was a big advantage to high magic armies.  However, what really happened was that the increased dispel dice allowed  opponents to kill the most important spells.  I'm thinking that if people knew that they were playing this kind of tournament that they might have been able to take more high level casters.  As it was, this rule definitely boosted magic defense rather than offense.

That said, my high elf opponent (who went on to tie for third in the tournament) used his extra dice to power all three of the lore of death character sniping spells and managed to take out my BSB and my archmage by the end of his second magic phase. Despite this set-back, I was able to use my combat troops to claw back into the game.  Some lucky leadership tests and timely applications of the steadfast rules allowed me to squeak out a three hundred point victory.

Scenario 2:  During this round, the rules from scenario 1 stood; however, new rules added a chart on which we rolled each round to see which lores of magic could be cast at +4 power.  This really didn't come into play much.  Most of the time we rolled lores that neither player possessed.

I drew a Vampire Counts army this round, and my increased dispel pool helped me mitigate his magic phase.  I was able to pull the Drakenhoff Grave Guard away from my battle line which allowed the rest of my army to mop up his ghouls.  My irresistible magic phase was annoying for my opponent; I can definitely see why it is banned in most tournaments.

Scenario 3:  The rules from the first two rounds stood; however, this round added the fulcrums. These terrain pieces boosted the defense of the casters (who had to stand on them outside a unit); however, miscasts had to roll on the chart from the core book as well as a different chart than included all kinds of crazy results (turning the caster into a monster, turning all casters on the board into frogs, etc). 

In my third game, these didn't come into play much at all.  I was paired against a Tzeentch/Khorne Daemons army on the second table. His caster got off the fulcrum at the first opportunity, and his whole army shot everything it could at my archmage, slaying him before she could flee into the safety of a unit.  However, I was able to rally by dragging his Bloodletter horde away with my eagles.  His horrors and flamers really had no answer for High Elf combat troops.  Without my mage to protect me, I took a beating in the magic phase, but most of it was magic missiles.  I lost troops, but he wasn't able to eliminate whole units.  In the end, I got everything but his Lord of Change and his Bloodletter horde (which is a ton of points); however, he only got my eagles and my archers.  I knew it was close, but after we added the points for banners and my general, it ended up being a 109 point spread (ten points from a draw).

Ultimately, I can't say I was that impressed by the Storm of Magic magic rules.  To me, they just seemed to slow the game down without adding all that much.  However, we didn't use any of the new spells or army build rules, so perhaps when those are added in, it will work better.  My guess is that the next Sci-Fi tournament will use the full Storm of Magic rule, so it's time to start building up my army of Lammasu (I'll also be sure to have a Bloodthirster to hang out with my High Elves).

Listwise, with my shiny new Book of Hoeth, I was expecting to have plenty of dice with which to destroy my opponents.  However, what really happened was that my opponents used their magic dice to snipe my wizard in the first round of the game.  I only got to use her in the second game (and in that game he did indeed revel in his brokenness).  Despite losing the lynchpin of the list, I was still able to win all three games (1 massacre, 2 regular victories), taking the second place prize (1st place was the Beastman army to which I lost in the first round of the Mocksville tournament.  He had 2 massacres and a regular victory).

The way the tournament went down makes me wonder if I just shouldn't drop wizards all together.  I could take another solid combat block for the points of an archmage.  If I knew that I could get 10 dispel dice every turn, I just might do that.  Sadly, there are no more tournaments around here any time soon.  After the recent flurry, I doubt we have another until September.

That break should give me a chance to work on some of my non-Warhammer models.  I still need to finish my DBA Carthaginians.  I started to use my prize money to buy a Perdita warband for Malifaux (I saved most of it, so I still might), and one of the players in Durham and I have been discussing starting up Field of Glory.  So many models; so little time.

I feel odd closing a post with no pictures, but I haven't painted anything lately.  In lieu of new content, here's a shot of the model that drew the most attention at the tournament: my swordmaster's standard bearer.  This model inspired several discussions about the laws of physics.  Do you think the flag is too much?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mantic Dwarves

Or is it dwarfs?

Anyway, I've long been interested in a dwarf army.  Even when my wargaming consisted of nothing but 40k, I was interested in fantasy and had plans of starting an army.  My first aborted attempt at a fantasy army was when I picked up a box of the brand new, state of the art plastic, mono-pose high elf archers back when 2nd edition 40k was current.  That army never went past that one box.  Later during the height of my 40k period, I grabbed three army books to explore the possibilities of starting Fantasy: Orcs and Goblins, Empire, and Dwarfs.  Ultimately, the lack of Fantasy players in NE Tennessee discouraged me from beginning, but dwarfs were always a favorite of mine.

Ten years later, I am sitting on two Fantasy armies (Tomb Kings and High Elves), and even though both are getting quite large, I still find myself adding to them.  I also have limited play time (one tournament per month and one day of weekend gaming per month), and finding the time to play both armies is challenging.  Nonetheless, the siren call of a new army is always strong, so I decided to take the plunge.

However, I did not want to sink a lot of money into them, so I set a limit.  I decided that if I couldn't get a fully functioning army for under two hundred dollars (US) I wasn't going to start one.  Mission accomplished.  Using the Battle for Skull Pass sets from GW, a heavy helping of Mantic's dwarf models, Ebay, and an after-holiday sale from the Warstore, I was able to put together the following list for a grand total of $107.25:

Runesmith (Reaper Margera)

40 Dwarf Warriors
30 Quarrelers
35 Hammerers
2 Organ Guns (all of this from the Mantic Dwarf boxed army and one extra box of Hammerers)

20 Battle for Skull Pass Miners (dirt cheap on Ebay)
2 Battle for Skull Pass Cannons (a little more expensive on Ebay)

At this point, I have about ninety more dollars budgeted with which to get 2 grudge throwers and some character models, which I think is highly doable. 

My biggest concerns with starting this project were appearance based.  I didn't know how well the Mantic models and the Skull Pass models would mix together, and I wasn't sure how I would like working on Mantics figures.  I have one painted now, and I'm pretty happy with the model.  Here's a shot:

As for the first concern, I think they will look fine together.  Here's a comparison shot:

You can see that the Mantic model is actually more bulky, but not outlandishy so.  The two models' beards also are strikingly different.  I will say that the beard was my favorite part of painting the GW model.  However, I do like the braided beard look of the Mantic figure.  I did an informal taste test with some non-gamer friends and family, and they actually preferred the Mantic model, saying that "he looks mean." Ultimately, I think that people will notice a definite difference in the two company's models, but no more so than when old GW figures are mixed with the new (and larger) ones.

As for working with the Mantic mini, I have no complaints.  They are not nearly as customizable as the GW ones.  Most of them are basically two or three part models, so you end up with fairly similar poses throughout the army.  That's no big deal for me as I think dwarves should be fairly orderly.  That minor quibble aside, working with the models was very easy. They were very clean of mold lines, and they went together easily (very quick construction).  Overall, I found them to be excellent models, and you really can't beat the price (and I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do with their new Sci-Fi game).

Here's another comparison shot of the two figures:

That's it for this week.  I'll be playing a tournament this weekend.  There's no comp rules (except for no power scroll and no special characters) and no painting score in this one, so I'm going to take what I think is a powerful high elf list to see what kind of damage I can do.  I'll post a report sometime next week.