Sunday, July 26, 2015

Age Of Sigmar (our thoughts)


How I feel these days

So let me start this off by making one thing abundantly clear, the opinions we express here are our own. We are not telling anyone they are wrong for enjoying this game (John is) or that any differences in opinion are less valid than our own. (oh they definitely are) That being said, if I see comments on this article saying that we are the "crying minority", "whiners", or any other derogatory or disparaging remarks I will delete them with extreme prejudice. We welcome and encourage reasonable and civil discussion, not trolling or comments demonstrating a complete lack of intelligence. I am saying this because that very situation occurred in my gaming group and I will not waste time with it on my own blog.

TL/DR version: I won't delete comments that disagree with our opinion, but I will delete comments that are purposefully dickish.

So with that out of the proceed if ye dare....

John: They are trying to sell more models.
Why not make a edition of fantasy and create another mini game? Mordheim ring a bell? If you want small unit tactics and what not, it seems like there is a better way to start that game than killing one of your major projects. Call me crazy but I like the large armies in fantasy over what always feels like a skirmish in 40k. I like having lots of ranked up units in formation. I get the want for a skirmish system but why kill the game, rules and lore that had worked so well. Bob will provide more insight than I will here. 

Bob: Age of Sigmar instantly reminds me of Warmachine/Hordes to be honest. One of the main reasons I got into Fantasy was the format of the game. Block regiments of soldiers representing larger formations (like historical miniatures) maneuvering for an advantage with magic and monsters is a huge factor in my love of Fantasy. I don't even think that LotR is a fair comparison to make. LotR/ The Hobbit was a well thought out and crafted game system, Age of Sigmar is no such thing at this point. I can see that GW really wanted to create a truly simplified and streamlined rule set, and that in and of itself is not a bad thing. I have heard folks complain that Fantasy was more difficult to get a grasp on compared to 40k (an apples and oranges comparison in my opinion). 4 pages of rules with no release of a more advanced version (at the time of writing) is not the way to do this. Before this gets bogged down in ranting I would like to point out a few things I think GW has gotten right with this release:

1) Free rules: Making the core rules as well as the temporary versions of the old armies free to download was a very smart move. This gives anyone remotely interested in trying the game out the opportunity to at least read the rules and it gives old players an opportunity to jump right in and try it without having to buy anything new.

2) The models in the starter set do look nice. 

Well that is all that really comes to mind at the moment........To expand on what John had mentioned above about the desire for a skirmish game I really and truly do not understand why GW felt the need to nuke their oldest and founding game system. A robust skirmish/warband rules set could have happily coexisted alongside a 9th edition. This could have served as a great way to expand interest in the Fantasy range and provide people who may have been on the fence about getting into Fantasy a way to play something besides the rank and file battle system while still having the option to expand at a later date. I don't think I would be remiss in saying that the cost of entry for Fantasy had become massively detrimental to new player taking the plunge. Hell, it is/was a pain in the ass for those of us wanting to start new armies or finish out collections. This problem could easily have been solved by retooling the need to take blocks of 40+ models. Not every army is a hoard army and shouldn't be pigeonholed into becoming one. Bring the unit sizes back down to previous levels of 20-30 and introduce some mechanism to balance them against a hoard. 

You finally did it blah blah

John: Lore, we finally killed the good guys. who didn't see this coming? For me part of the enjoyment is the story line. That fun gets killed when you say the good guys lose it all, terminate the story, and make anything else pointless. And wtf is up with this multiple plain bs that is similar to how the old world was? Seems like if you are going to blow up the world you shouldn't keep any of the traces in the new game. Seems like GW is both rubbing it in our face that yes indeed they did kill fantasy, and also want us to play by keeping recognizable pieces. Also Sigmar is back? wtf? Chaos gods win but they don't notice the human god sitting around influencing stuff? 

Bob: Where to start with this mess. I agree 100% with John, this new lore makes no damn sense if you stop to think about it as a player familiar with the Old World. So you do The End Times (the god awful mess that it was) and kill off lots of characters and make a huge deal out of their deaths and sacrifices only to turn right around after blowing up the world and have some of the biggest characters poof back into existence? What the hell? Why bother destroying the lore if you are just going to bastardize it and keep the major characters anyway? I will be honest with you good readers, I haven't really delved that deeply into the new lore for a variety of reasons (1. I don't want to 2. What I have read doesn't make me want to change #1 and 3. unless somebody loans me a copy I refuse to spend money on this train wreck).

John: Can't really speak to this because more than likely I will never play it. I hardly ever get to play fantasy, because of a small crowd and now that it has been whitewashed. I have no desire to try a new game, buying a crap ton more models, for a crappy system. All I have seen are rumors of rules so this may change in time.
1. weird charge rules. you can either charge or just move within 3" of the target and you automatically assume combat is started. uhm ok, wtf?

2. the bases don't matter. kinda makes sense if you are trying to let people use old models, but that was one of the key things in fantasy. you could build this bad ass model with a gigantic sword pointing at the enemy and it had no drawbacks, except for trying to rank up that sob. now you have a sword pointing out an inch that expands how big the target is for your model. Remember three inches from that sword point. I imagine a lot of arguing on model facings and guys spending 5 mins making sure their models are looking the right direction, or the big pointy piece is sticking towards the opponent. Dumb waste of time.

3. Rearranging the phases, with magic/commands first, then movement then other stuff I am meh about. I can see the reasoning, but again not enough reason to start a new game.

4. Take whatever you want. dear lord, really GW? Another gaming system that lets you take whatever you want and the balancing doesn't matter. That one of my favorite changes to the fantasy rules was the breakdown of percentage. Whatever version I started with required 2 core and the rest didn't matter and games sucked. Then came the percentages and suddenly players couldn't field their Cthulhu model and you started fighting battles, not duels of ZOMG-iness, or who could out hero the other player. Warhmmer fantasy was about battles, and the rules reflected this. Now we are back to who can build the smashiest model. take all my nopes. 

5. Combat: doesn't matter what you are hitting or wounding it all based your stats. doesn't matter how bad or good the enemy is

Bob: So I did play a game of AoS recently. I will sum up my impression of the game and mechanics in one word: MEH. It wasn't horrible nor was it the best thing since fermented fruits and grains. It was simply OK.The entire time I was playing I had one thought lodged front and center in what passes for my brain: they replaced Fantasy with THIS bs?!?!
Say word, Ricky.

Let's start with the whole lack of army construction rules. I am not a tournament player nor am I overly competitive. I like to have fun games with both forces fairly evenly matched against each other. Wanting a point system or some other mechanism of army construction is not a desire to make the game competitive or restricted, but rather a way to attempt to reign in the worst aspects of army building (ie the curbstomping potential of unscrupulous players). When the inevitable asshole shows up and plops down the A-Team of his factions heroes or whatever else fun ruining combination they can possibly take then you have two options: walk away because there is nothing in the rules that say he can't do that, or fight fire with fire. While this scenario is the extreme example, what I ran into seems like the all too likely problem. My friend Scott took the Chaos units from the box set, but split his marauders into two units of 10. I had no damn clue what to take against that to make a fair game. Part of that was my unfamiliarity with the new rules and units, but the more glaring problem was the fact that other than a body count or wound count (both highly inaccurate methods of balancing a force) I had no real frame of reference for building my list. So in the end I wound up taking this:

mounted general with lance, 20 halberdiers, 10 handgunners, 3 demigryphs, 10 greatswords, 1 priest with greathammer

I threw this together off the top of my head and to me it looked like a fair match up. Thanks to atrocious dice rolling on Scott's part coupled with the Demigryphs and Greatswords murdering anything they touched it was anything but an even match. So what did I learn in the process of giving the rules a try?

1) The game has a glaring lack of customization in it. Gone are magic items and meaningful weapon/armour options. Besides a few attacks and maybe a rend difference all of the weapons did basically the same thing. Also, this whole schtick of having each factions shields do different things is ridiculous. A shield is a shield unless it has been ensorcelled.

2) Multiple Heroes are an absolute necessity. The buff the Chaos icon bearer gives is basically a must take.

3) Shooting whilst in close combat and into close combat with no penalties is stupid as hell.

4) Measuring closest point to closest point is incredibly dumb and begging for exploitation. Hell, you don't even have to purposefully do anything to certain models in order to get an extra inch or so.

5) 1" unit cohesion is pointless. With only an inch you may as well have stuck with regiments.....

6) The real depth (what little there is) of the game comes from determining what order you want to do your combats in. Having the 3" pile in for anyone who damn well pleases is also a big deal when setting up supporting units.

7) The random turn priority is just dumb. Oh you wanted to at least maneuver your units and get some shooting off? Too bad I just shot you to shit and charged your units. Charge reactions? You don't get no stinking charge reactions. If they didn't want to stay with an alternating turn sequence I would have humbly suggested something more in line with Bolt Action's random activation method. 


Bob: So like I said in my last article about what hobby purchases I made while in France, I picked up the White Dwarf with the free Sigmarine in it. Now that I have also gotten to see the Chaos components from the starter box one thing is very clear, we are in for a scale change. The Marauders (or whatever they are called now) are more in line with the old Chaos Warriors kit and the new Warriors are a size up from that. The Sigmarines are closer to Terminators in size and share the same bases. What is my point with this? Well, if all the new models are this larger scale (32mm by my estimation) they are going to look real out of place with any older collections or facing them across the table. I realize that this isn't an issue for some people and that nobody is going to force you to buy these new models, but it is another smack in the face for folks who already have a Fantasy collection. Not only did you destroy our game, but you also changed the scale of the models thus making our old ones smaller in comparison? Dick move, GW.

Speaking of the old armies and models, all I have to say about the silly rules and slapdash effort that went into making the old armies balanced is this:

Rickyisms are the best.

And if you think 40k isn't going to get hit with something like this in the next few years you are sadly mistaken. The timelines in each of the new Codecies has steadily been advancing the narrative towards a point of no return. Hell, the current chronological period is called "the time of ending" and these story advances are all pointing towards Abbadon marching on Terra and the Golden Throne failing. If GW does to 40k what they did to Fantasy they will be committing sales suicide. And if you entirely discount the possibility of them doing this you may want to take a minute and look back what they just did to Fantasy.

So that does it for this rant, folks. I probably didn't cover everything I should have/wanted to in this so a part 2 may be needed in the future. For the record, I plan on trying at least one more game of AoS out to try out another of my soon to be obsolete armies. Time will tell of Age of Sigmar is going to be a success or not. I may take another look at it in 6 months or so to see what GW decided to bring out and if any more advanced rules/FAQs get released. Until then, both John and I will happily be sticking with 8th.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hobby purchases in France 2015

Hey folks!

Bob here with a small update on what I have been up during my brief hiatus and a loose plan for upcoming articles. I recently spent almost 4 weeks in France conducting archaeological investigations at a Medieval homestead high in the Masif Central. My day job is archaeology and one of my primary focuses of research is rapidly becoming rural Medieval habitation patterns in highland areas.
The view from the site. Note the highly trained and deadly cow security force that stands guard.

Part of the interior of the primary structure of the site.

While most of my time was spent working, I was able to take some time in Paris to hit up what is becoming my regular hobby shop visit to Starplayer. Starplayer is an independent game shop located not far from the Latin Quarter and Notre Dame. One of the main reasons I go there is to browse their used model section to see what they have. Unfortunately, this time around they were pretty picked over. I also paid a visit to Games Workshop Paris 15e. The manager was very friendly and spoke excellent English. He was good enough to run me through the basic rules (aka the rules) for Age of Sigmar as well as being very sympathetic and diplomatic about my opinions on the game (more on this topic soon). 

So what did I pick up? Well not as much as I would have liked. The dollar to euro rate was fairly awesome while I was there. Couple this with the price of GW stuff in euros and it worked out to be cheaper to purchase GW stuff in France than in the US. My few purchases consisted of: The new Dark Angels Chaplin, a box of the Kastelan Robots, Imperial Guard order cards (in French and half price), and the White Dwarf with the Age of Sigmar rules (in French) and the free model. Like I said, not a whole lot. Here are some pictures of the WIP Kastelans and Chaplin.

The arms will get magnetized
I want to try to magnetize the power fist

So what do John and I have in store for the near future? Well the biggest thing will be our opinion piece on Age of Sigmar. Expect a lengthy rant on this one, folks. I plan to get a book review/opinion article out for both the new Space Marine book and of course the new Dark Angels. I also want to get a few painting articles out as well as a "whats on my table" piece or two. John and both are going to be fairly busy for the near future, but we will do our best to get at least one article a week done and published.

Until next time!


Friday, July 3, 2015

Book Of Grudges

Despite being long lost Eastern Dwarves my Dwarves still honor the long tradition of grudges. My host has suffered new grudges and erased old ones in equal measure. Some of the most noteworthy, lore-ified.

The Eastern Throng

2154- Fresh upon arriving in the old world The First Host lead by High Thane Redbeard fought a chaos daemon army. Despite destroying the enemy's lesser daemons the more powerful greater daemons won the battle for the forces of Chaos. This dishonor will only be struck upon killing of one of each for greater daemons. (Slaanesh has been killed)

2154- Regrouped from the defeat at the hand of the daemons the First Host fought an orkish horde on the out skirts of a fallen Hold. During the battle the cannons for the Dwarven Host proved ruinous for the Dwarves failing to hit the enemy while striking critical units of the Dwarves. This dishonor was later struck during the battle when the Cannons crew routed a charging ork chariot that had destroyed the western flank of the Host. The crew later fell in a hard fought battle, the sacrifices bringing honor despite the failure of their weapon. The battle was ultimately a draw with the Dwarves holding the field but being held from seizing the Hold. For the losses suffered and failure of the mission this grudge will not be struck until three ork warbosses have been killed. (Its difficult to get Bob to use his dad's orks so this Grudge has been on hold for a long time)

The Eastern Throng

2156- High Thane Redbeard returned home to gather a fresh Host to help the Dwarves of the World's Edge Mountains. Upon hearing of the plight of their western brethern many dwarves sign on including a large contingent of slayers. Before this second host can return to the world's edge Mountains the Host is beset by Skaven, a force rarely encountered in the East. Despite superior enemy numbers and again faulty cannons (possibly due to damage from the long migration) the Dwarves are victorious. However the missile troops and slayers were destroyed by a contigent of Clan Moulder beasts. This Grudge will be struck upon the killing of  40 Rat Ogres to strike revenge against this newly encountered enemy. (8 have been killed thus far)

2157- Upon return to the World's Edge Mountains a contigent of Dwarves under the nominal command of an Engineer do battle with an aggressive host of High Elves who had insulted the memories of the ancestors. The Dwarves responded by thoroughly defeating the Elven host, however ultimate victory was spoiled and grudge marked upon the back handed killing of the Engineer after the battle was determined. For refusing to admit honorable defeat and the clandestine killing of the Engineer a blood cost upon one hundred elven heads was marked. (this Grudge has been struck in ensuing battles with the hated Elves, the final of 100 being struck in 2159)

2157- Again the Eastern Dwarves do battle with the forces of Chaos. This time a large combined band of Marauders lead by a Champion of Chaos engage a Host of Eastern Dwarves lead by High Thane Redbeard. Despite early set backs the Dwarves were able to hold the field and win the day against a superior force. Once again the Cannons from the Eastern Dwarves have failed. And as such a Grudge has been officially struck against the casters of the Cannons. A debt to be repaid with the killing of one hundred enemies by cannon and not crew. (maybe 2 have since been killed)

2158- This was the first battle in a long line of battles between the Eastern Dwarves and a crafty High Elven Commander (Bob). The largest host yet assembled of Eastern Dwarves marched to the defense of a beleaguered hold under siege from a force of High Elves. They found the foes ready for the attack. Unused to fighting a foe more devoted to ranged warfare the Dwarves suffered greatly. Again the crew of the cannons proved their worth before being destroyed by missile fire and a calvary charge. Despite individual heriocs the day is carried by the Elven host through use of white fletched arrow and bolt and magic. The Elves go on to destroy the hold and the Dwarven defeat is compounded. For their part in the destruction of a Hold and a host an Eternal Grudge is declared, any where this vile commander of elves go the Dwarves have sworn to hunt him down and do whatever damage possible to him and his. (Not sure on the real tally but pretty sure Bob's Elves vs my Dwarves is slanted something like 22:2 in favor of Bob, the Dwarves sucked hard for a real long time)

Kitbashed BSB

2158-Present: Gathering support from World Edge Clans, Redbeard soon amasses another host to fight the elves still threatening minor clan holds. Too weak to strike the fatal blow the Elves depend on missiles and magic to again and again deal defeat to the Dwarves. The Grudge continues. With particular grudges being found against the Lothern Sea Guard, Eagle Claw Bolt Throwers, Dragon Princes, Sword Masters and mages of all sorts. The only sollace found for the Dwarves was the incapability of the Elves to survive lone combat against the Dwarven Commanders.

2160- The Dwarven Host again gathers for war. This time with the aid of a Rune Priest they fight a horde of Beastmen intent on plundering the rich valleys outside of a Karak. The Dwarves again taste bitter defeat, despite neutralizing the foes magic the Warriors of the host are unable to hold their own. This also marks the last time the cannons ever see use except in great times of need. For the losses suffered three future victories against Beastmen will be required to wash away the stain of defeat. (zero victories)

2180- Having suffered many defeats the Eastern Dwarves return home, only a minority electing to remain while several World's Edge Dwarves make the travel to the east. Several skirmishes are fought against the Lizards in the Southlands while attempting to regain contact with their southern brethern. Grudges are struck against the great Saurus warriors and their indominable leader atop his Carnosaur. For these grudges to be struck five victories must be won as well as killing of the Saurus Old Blood and his great beast. (One victory)

2200- After spending time considering his defeats High Thane Redbeard finally leads another Host of Eastern Dwarves back to the World's Edge Mountains, determined to be victorious. Aided by a stronger host and a renewed sense of purpose, as well as a longer beard and military record Redbeard is confident in victory. Once again upon the great march back the Skaven again attempt to derail the host. However the dwarves are ready and easily repulse the skaven. For the audictiy to attack the Host and continued raiding a Grudge of one thousand skaven heads is marked. (250 of them have been taken)

2205- After returning and reaffirming contact with the World's Edge Dwarves the Dwarven Host prepares to battle the great Elven commander who has continued to be a threat. Even with a larger Host the Dwarves are matched by a larger Elven force including many new monsters not seen fighting with the commander, namely a dragon and frost Phoenix. Prepared for the treachery and general lack fortitude of the Elves The Dwarves reap a heavy toll of Elven dead with an Organ Gun forcing the elves to engage the ultimately victorious Dwarves. A great victory was won with very few elves surviving the day. However those that survived had done the most damage and now a grudge against all allied Elven monsters and Phoenix Guard is made. However many grudges were struck with the final blow to break the Elven moral, with a Thane killing the Dragon riding Lord. For the continued losses one hundred Phoenix Guard must be killed as well as a further 10 monsters. (1 monster has been slain and a victory earned vs the Elven Commander)

thanks for dealing with the lore-ifying of old battle reports and the assumed grudges from them. I have spent a lot of time writing and rewriting some lore and back ground for this army and it is nice to get a chance to share.