Monday, October 24, 2011

HE Spearmen Conversion Complete and Southern Assault Day 2

To finish my tournament report, I came into the second round at 1-0-2, which was good enough to be on table 6.  I knew that the two draws meant I didn't have any shot at any generalship awards, but I thought with a victory or two that I might crack the top ten.  It turns out that I didn't need to worry about cracking the top ten.

Game 4 (Lizardmen):  I originally thought I was up against another daemon player (which I was looking forward to); however, when I saw Lizardmen, I knew I was in trouble.  For some reason, I always struggle against Lizards; I personally think they are one of the more powerful 8th edition armies.  This list was a little atypical in that it featured four units of skinks; however, he was using the slann with all of the bells and whistles.    In the end, this game showed the power of augmentations in 8th edition.  He primarily focused on the ward save spell, the shield of thorns, and the toughness spell, using dwellers primarily as a bluff.  The extra slann dice meant that I couldn't hope to stop everything, and he was typically able to get off two of the three spells with no problem.  The swordmasters did manage to sneak around and get a rear charge off on the exposed slann, but they did no damage.  My opponent had some bad luck with leadership tests early but his skill at manipulating the magic phase ensured him a perfect victory.  Only my archmage survived at the end.   The archers were my best unit here again, further cementing my plans to use a more archer heavy force next time.

Game 5 (Beastmen):  For the final game, I ended up in the middle of the pack against a veteran player's beastman army.  My opponent was a lot of fun and as often happens at the end of tournaments like this, neither of us took the game as completely as serious as we might have.  One thing that impressed me in his play was his use of Transformation of Khadon as magic defense.  He would cast it at the end of every round, leaving me with the decision of whether to use 4 of my power dice to dispel it or whether to allow a dragon to charge the next turn.  In hindsight, I probably should have just let the dragon go. I don't know that he would have actually used it, and if he had, it's possible that I could have dispelled it and killed the mage during my phase.  I was worried about him flying into my BSB though, so I kept throwing dice at it. This was really a close game, and I actually thought we were heading for my third draw.  However, after I moved a chariot to block a charge from his largest unit, we found that he was still able to nick my unit as it wheeled in.  It was close, bu this brought my archmage's bunker into a fight they couldn't win.  After that, I ended up retreating away to maintain narrow defeat.  The white lions were my best unit this game, but my opponent did an excellent job of using magic (the difficult terrain spell) and redirectors to keep them out of combat.  I think we ended up about two hundred points a part, making this my third really close game of the tournament (which is fine by me).

 In the end, this was my least successful tournament this year with a 1-2-2 record; however, because the games were so close, I had a lot of fun. My soft scores were good which was enough to put me right in the middle of the pack overall.  In addition,  I was pleasantly surprised to have been awarded the "Player's Choice Award" for best army.  I understand that the voting was very close. Honestly, I'd rather win awards like that than generalship awards as it shows that people appreciated the hard work I've put into my army. 

I also finished tied for second (with about five players) for best painted army.  Both voting results were also interesting to me because my technical skills are not up to some of the other players.  However, I noticed that many of the best technically painted armies had limited conversions or a very basic display board.  On the other hand, I have several notable conversions and a fairly elaborate (if still unfinished) display board.  As I move forward with this army, I plan to add more extras like that in hopes of augmenting my painting (I also think my painting is getting better, so eliminating some of my older miniatures should help as well).  I think the lesson here is that the extras help an army stand out during voting, so they are worth the time (I also think that some armies stand out more than others, but that is a topic for another time).

That's one reason that I am converting these spearmen.  I'm hoping that this unit will stand out on the table, and they will definitely look better than my current spears which were both my first fantasy unit and speed painted. I have the models finished; here's how the unit turned out:

As you can see, there are only nine.  This is because the Phoenix Guard kit is rather annoying in that certain bodies only connect with certain arms.  My tenth figure's arm wouldn't fit.  Hopefully, I'll be able to correct that out of the next box.   I've been alternating between modeling these guys and painting a unit of TK chariots.  Hopefully, I can get a test model painted before next week's post. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

HE Spear Conversion and Southern Assault Day 1

I'm going to use this post to give a quick run-down of my games.  I'm not going to do a blow-by-blow report, but I will share some of what I learned from each.  For those that might not have read last week's post, I attended Southern Assault at Parker, Banner, Kent, and Wayne in Cornelius, NC.  It is a two-day GT style event, and there were 38 players in attendance.

I posted my list last week, and it's pretty close to what I've been playing in the tournaments that score paint.  As I pointed out, there are some flaws in the list, and this infantry heavy set-up has not been nearly as successful as my dragon lists.

Game 1:  We left the house at 5AM, so I was a bit tired and grumpy for the first game.  Luckily, I drew a pleasant opponent whom was playing a Bloodthirster led Daemon army.  This was my first matchup against a Thirster, and they absolutely wreck stuff.  HEs can be vulnerable to big monsters, especially those with ward saves.  Magic probably gives us the best chance of dealing with things like hydras and Thirsters, but Lore of Life is a bit limited in that respect.  Outside of the big daemon, my army had the advantage in combat.  I wanted to use the PG to bog it down, but its fly let him pick his combat.  He really wanted to go get my Archmage's bunker, but I managed to maneuver them an inch behind the white lions, so he contended himself with eating that unit.  It took him several turns to massacre them which gave me enough time to pick up some points elsewhere, and the game ended in a 45 point draw.

The key moment in the game came in the last round when he moved his screamers, whom had been whittled away by archers, to apparent safety.  Unfortunately, he didn't notice that if the PG won their combat that they could potentially charge them in my my half of the turn. The scenario played out in my favor, and I was able to grab some much needed victory points.  The MVP unit for this game was probably the archers, who destroyed some flamers and forced the screamers into a tight spot.  I'm thinking I definitely need more ranged power in future tournament lists.

Game 2:  With my draw and a decent collection of battle points, I moved up a few tables and found myself playing a Dark Elf player.  I've been to enough tournaments to know most of the local players, but this was my second game against a new player.  I like meeting and playing new folks, and this guy seemed to be a very astute player.  He did not have the Sacrificial Dagger in his list, which was a nice change of pace from  typical DE lists; however, he did have the Pendant, which really gave me fits.  He had the Pendant on a Pegasus hero so he was able to fly him right into my white lions, neutralizing my best unit for the whole game.  As you can see, the ability of flying heroes to pick their spots is recurring them of this tournament.

This game really demonstrated the random nature of 8th edition.  Some people hate this aspect of the game; I actually like it. The uncertainty of pulling off charges and the calculation of risk is where some of the most enjoyable strategy lies.  Anyway, we went through about two rounds where no one could land a charge or overrun.  I thought I had picked up the early advantage when I got two units into his corsairs.  He only rolled a 6 for his break roll, so I figured with two units (one of them being swiftstrider!) I had that unit.  I rolled 5 1s.  That's not exaggeration.  This set him up for a combined charge with his blackguard going into my unit's front and a hydra into the side.  The hydra needed a four on its roll to complete the charge.  He got a 3.  That was pretty much the whole game.  Ultimately, the game came down to whether his Pendant pegasus could eat my whole unit of white lions.  Thanks to some judicious use of Regrowth he came up one model short (my least favorite part of 8th -- you kill that many white lions and you deserve some points), and the game ended in a 27 point draw.  This made my archmage the MVP for this game.  In the end, this was a really fun game which featured lots of maneuvering (more fun than just meeting in the middle); a fun opponent and a close ending made this my favorite game at the tournament.

Game 3:  In a game that has made it difficult to draw, I now had two. The tournament gave draws a 10-10 split in battle points which meant that given some decent battle point scores, I was moving slowly up the tables.  For the third game, I found myself up against a TK army that was at 2-0.  I'm pretty well acquainted with TK since they are my backup army.  His list was set up around a Tomb Guard deathstar that contained a Destroyer of Eternity's king, a necrotect, a BSB, and his hierophant.  Needless to say, killing that unit was not going to be easy.

I generally don't fear armies that lean on a single unit. I can use eagles to hold them up while I kill the rest of the army.  However, during this game, I got some early luck and managed to take down his support units quickly.  I also had the chance to combine charge the Tomb Guard, so I took it.  Please note for future reference that even under optimal circumstances that  TG deathstar is a hard nut to crack. Eventually, it broke every thing I threw at it.  Luckily, I got all the TG, but the King lived to plot his revenge.  There's not much to say about this game; I took a lot of points without giving many away.  The MVP was my noble on great eagle who hopped from fight to fight wreaking havoc. Having that flying hero along with a life mage to heal him really helped the cause.

So that's day one.  All in all, I felt pretty good at 1-0-2.  I knew I wasn't in contention for any of the generalship prizes, but I figured that I'd be in line for some challenging games at the top table.

Now, back to the hobby side of things, my phoenix guard into spearmen conversion continues.  I have several mostly completed now.  Last time I suggested clipping the hand of the spear and pinning it back together.  Don't do that.  It makes the spear too short.  I didn't think anyone would notice, but it looks silly.  Instead, it's possible to shave the hand off and then file it flat.  I think that works far better.  I thought I was going to use silver helm bits for the shield arm, but they don't fit.  Therefore, I went with regular spearman arms which seemed to work just fine.  Here's what I have so far.

Looks like a couple need a little more file work, but they look fine to the naked eye. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Southern Assault (10/1-10/2 in Cornelius, NC) and High Elf Spear Conversion

It's aliiiiiiive!  Obviously, it has been a while since I posted.  I went on vacation and later took on some extra responsibilities at work.  The net result has been an almost total hobby freeze.  However, I was able to make it down to NC's newest GT this weekend, and I have picked up enough steam to post once more.  Hopefully, I'll be able to pick up my forgotten wargaming projects and keep this thing rolling.

Primarily, this post will be a review of the new tourney, and I want to say up front that Southern Assault has what it takes to become the WHFB experience in NC.  Jerry and Dan run a great event.  They are super organized and added a lot of unique touches such as the gaming club competition (congratulations Kobra Kai) and a hobby knowledge quiz.  Events like this really bring the gaming community closer together, and I am   hopeful that they can build on this great inaugural event.  If you're interested in the game and can make it up next year, I highly recommend it.

One thing positive that I noticed was the variety of armies present.  I believe there was at least one representative from each army except the Bretonnians.  The so-called power armies (VC, DE, and Daemons) had the most entries (along with Empire) as usual, but I never had to play the same army twice (I drew Daemons, Tomb Kings, Dark Elves, Lizards, and Beastmen).  The final battle point standings help make the case that 8th edition is more balanced as only the Lizardmen placed two entries into the top ten.  Furthermore, some of the "softer" armies were at the top of the heap:  an Ogre player took best overall (and had the most battle points) and a Wood Elf player took home a well-deserved best general.  For those interested in such things, the top ten (out of 38) in battle points were as follows: Ogres, Wood Elves, Dwarves, Lizardmen, Warriors, Lizardmen, High Elves, Beastmen, VC, and Orcs.

I thought the tourney also offered a good display of the hobby side of the game as the painting scores were very close, and I saw some great boards and got some conversion ideas.  I have a few pictures to show off, but I want to get permission from the owners before I put them up.  I did get to take my kids through the displays, and they were thoroughly impressed.  My son was especially taken by the Nurgle army that won best painted while my daughter enjoyed the Christmas themed Dark Elves (including Santa in his chariot ... er sleigh).  Good stuff.

As usual at tournaments like this, the list I took was balanced between looking good and being effective on the table.  Here's what I ended up with:

Archmage (Level 4, jewel of dusk, general)
BSB (Armor of Caledor, Dawnstone, GW)
Noble on Great Eagle (Helm of Fortune, Shield, GW)

27 Spearmen (FC)
15 Seaguard (FC, standard of discipline)
12 Archers (Standard)

27 White Lions (FC, banner of eternal flame)
19 Phoenix Guard (FC, champ with amulet of light)
12 Swordmasters (Standard)
Lion Chariot

Great Eagle
Great Eagle

I made this list pretty quickly since the tourney was a last minute affair for me, but the phoenix guard, great eagles, and eagle lord are all winners.  The white lions are dangerous, but they get whittled down pretty quickly.  The swordmasters shine against non-shooting foes, but in small numbers, they work best off to the flanks.  As far as the list losers go, the sea guard are too expensive for a bunker.  I believe the points would have been better spent giving the archmage the Talisman of Saphery and Forlariath's Robe and shifting the archmage to the white lions.  This also serves to make Earthblood a dangerous spell as it gives the white lions a much needed defensive boost.

In retrospect, my final verdict is that life < shadow.  I won or drew every game in which I got the toughness spells, and I lost every game that I didn't.  In addition, in the game I was massacred, I drew awakening of the wood, throne of vines, shield of thrones, and regrowth.  That's not exactly the most fearsome set of spells, and outside of some special situations, a savvy opponent knows that he doesn't really need to stop anything except regrowth.  That's really the problem with running a lone Life caster.  Outside of Dwellers and Flesh to Stone everything else is pretty situational.  If you head to battle without one or the other, and your opponent can save his dice for the one you do have.  Shadow has some bum spells, but I think the possibility of getting two really dangerous spells is much higher there than with Life.  My next list will probably change the archmage to Shadow and  add a level 2 High caster so that I can get the white lions a much needed ward save.  We'll see how that goes as I get ready for the next tournament.

Anyway, I'll do a rundown of my games in my next post.  I somehow managed to take home a prize, but I'll leave you in suspense about what it was.  In the meantime, I took my prize money and picked up a box of Phoenix Guard to convert into Spearmen.  My spears are very rough having been speed painted before a tournament when I first got back into the game.  The models are also among the worst in the High Elf range.  Therefore, I'm hoping to upgrade with a sweet conversion (I have no idea who to credit for this idea.  I've seen a few such conversions on, but I'm not working from any specific guide).

In the box, you get 6 one-handed and 6 two-handed halberds.  The one handed ones will just need to be clipped from this:

To this:

However, the two handed ones need to have the extra hand clipped out like this:

You can then take your hand drill and drill a hole to pin the weapon back together (I used a 52 bit here). Once you are finished, you have a sweet looking spear (hopefully I can use some liquid green stuff to even out the jagged edge at the joint):

That's enough for now.  Next time I'll give you an update of the games and show you how the conversion is progressing.