Monday 30 August 2010

Stick 'em Boyz!

Another long overdue update - some Orc Archers I've been fiddling with for what seems like most of the summer hols - I seem to have been constantly foiled in my efforts by trips to the Zoo, the Lake District, the hospital after my dear old Mam broke her ankle... Its been fun (apart from the hospital bit!) but a little frustrating from a painting perspective - so much for getting it finished this summer!

Anyways enough moaning (apart from a flat camera battery - hence only one pic) here's the pic...

So how many Hob Hounds can a Hob Hound Handler handle - well...

... ten according to the Severd Hand Orcs Command Sheet from the Orc's Drift scenario pack...

Personally I have problems with one Chocolate Labrador but Grashak Kra - the Hob Hound Handler in question is obviously made of sterner stuff, or at least not too fussy if his charges don't quite walk to heel!

I'm amazed I've actually ended up with more of these lovely?! old Hob Hound minis than I need for the scenario - for a while I thought I was stuck with five and would never see their like at an affordable price on ebay again - now I have fifteen and not time to paint them all up!

Here's the ten I need for the Ashak Rise scenario doing what they should be - hunting down stunties!

Friday 27 August 2010

Robo-rodents - Activate!!

First bit of non-fantasy painting I've done in a while - refreshing change in between Orc archers!

Basically I couldn't resist painting these lovely little fellas (I have 9 more to go!!) from the rather excellent and brand spanking new Crooked Dice game design studio. They are dedicated to bringing to the tabletop classic sci-fi and action TV shows of the 60s and 70s through the medium of their upcoming 7TV game. It is definitely worth checking out their site if you have a hankering for secret underground lairs, suave heroes and supervillains!

Anyway these Robo-pests are quite at home menacing these intrepid space travellers...

Thursday 19 August 2010

Havoc... its ok to wreak a little!

As I'm a little weary of batch painting Orc archers for the bloodbath thought I'd make good on a promise I made to VoodooInk and write a review of his rather splendid game - Havoc! Not written many reviews before so bear with me - these are some of the things I liked best about Havoc...

You may have read the battle report I posted a while back so hopefully that got across the idea that Havoc is a lot of fun!

Whilst writing the report I included a few references to the game mechanics - not something I'd normally do as I think it interrupts the "story" a bit but with Havoc there are some really interesting and new ideas that affect events in the game - more of which later...

First thing that was new to me and might take some a little getting used to was The One List (to rule them all!). There is an army list and stats provided but that goes for all players - orc spearmen are the same as skeleton spearmen are the same as dwarf spearmen and so on... I quite like this approach as it makes you think more about building balanced forces and lets you use all those old minis you might have gathering dust!

For more variation you can bring along the Named - heroes, champions and warriors who stand out from the rank and file through their skills and abilities - great characters like the Executioner, the Harrier, the Bard, oh and giants are truly terrifying and hilarious! Oh and thanks to VoodooInk for writing up some excellent rules especially for my Spectre!

So best talk about the rules too - Competing for momentum at the start of each turn is interesting - the player who wins it gets to act first in each phase and decides which combats they want to resolve first, among other advantages.

Players take turns to activate troops, which can be activated in blocks of up to 6 minis in base to base contact or as single minis - skirmishers get to activate together no matter how many you have or where they are on the table! This means that a player who has grouped their forces well and uses musicians (activates other nearby troops) can get their force moved before the enemy and possibly force the turn to end before all enemy minis have been activated. Formations are up to you but anything is possible - wedges, shield walls, testudos...

Combat is great fun - troops get a certain number of MAD die (Melee and Defense) that can be allocated to attack or defense. VoodooInk demonstrated this well in his Skorne/Dwarf battle report -

The Cyclops had a total of 5 MAD dice, all of which were placed in attack.
The dwarven Champion had a total of 6 MAD dice. He placed 5 in defense, and 1 in attack.

1. Cyclops declares he will attack with 3 dice.
Rhoric declare that he will defend with all 5.
Both players roll their dice, keeping 3 of their choosing.
Rhoric wins the roll.

2. Rhoric uses his Parry Ability to interrupt the Cyclops attack.
He only has 1 die in attack BUT he spends his last 2 HAVOC tokens to bring the total to 3.
The Cyclops placed no die in defense, so only gets to roll 1 ‘Never Say Die’ die.
Both players roll their dice, keeping all 3 and 1 respectively- the result is a tie.

This is a Glancing Blow, so the damage roll is cut in half; it was already halved due to the damage reduction of the Cyclops. Needless to say, this attack did not cause any harm!

3. The Cyclops attacks with his remaining 2 melee die.
Now, Rhoric has none left.

The Skorne plater uses the Arcanum being held by the Warlock to augment the rolls and destroy the dwarven champion.

Combat is kept nice and simple - multiple combatants are only allowed on one side - no 2V2 combats with a headache working out who hits what?! Seemed strange at first to not be able to charge in and assist a beleagured comrade but the game is supposed to happen in small bursts of time - quite cinematic - I read into this that a human warrior wanting to jump in to assist his comrade would either get there too late as he is hacked down by the 5 goblins swarming him or would be unable to find an opening in the maelstrom to get stuck in - either way it keeps things simple and I found it worked rather well as well as making the whole maneuvering for advantage before the charge is unleashed very important!

Havoc tokens have been mentioned a couple of times - these are available to the Named - they can be spent on buying additional actions or dice in attack or defence, armour rolls or damage rolls - especially useful when your hero is running rampant in a cut scene (mini phase that happens if the dice roll for momentum is a draw) where they can become extremely dangerous!

Magic is fairly straight forward - mostly augmenting other mini's attacks or defenses but this can get quite tactical - I believe more spells may be in the pipeline?

Before I start rambling on and on I'm going to stop there - there's loads more! All in all its a great skirmish game which works well with around 20 odd minis on each side, although I'm sure it could be scaled up. You could even de-fantasy it and use the rules to play Historical games with black powder weapons should you so desire...

It is a very flexible and playable set of rules - I only brushed the surface in the one game I played and am eager to try out some of the endless tactical options that are there for the taking!

Oh and the book itself is lurverly - great black and white illustrations and written in an engaging and entertaining tone!

Go and try it!!

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Ghoul Interrupted - The Report

Sorry for the delay - been away for a most enjoyable week and a bit's holiday in the Lake District!

Anyway back to the grindstone!
Play opens as the Norse, travelling in convoy with their three loot-laden pack mules, spot the Baron's undead horde mobilising in the ruins of an old monastery further down the road.

Turn 1

Momentum (the player with this gets to activate first, decide what order melees are to be resolved - generally a good thing!) went to the Norse as Erik Erikson quickly marshalled his loyal band to ready themselves against the undead threat.

Meanwhile, like a disturbed anthill, the ruins seethed with movement as long dead limbs sprang to life...

Spreading out into a better offensive line the Norse moved up the road. Letting fly, Bruni Bersi's aim was true as one of the skeletons shambling into the open crumbled to dust.

Suddenly, letting out a great snarl, a feline shape descended from the sky. Much to the dismay of the mule team, a vicious Manticore now barred their way. Hastening their panicky charges off the road, the mule handlers scanned the ground ahead for a new way through and took heart in the lusty ballad that Snorrison, their Bard, sang out.

Reacting somewhat differently, Bruni Baegseg, the berserk, let out a howl of delight - here was a foe worthy of him at last! Charging forward, Dolf Hamrison at his side, they fell upon the terrible beast! Hacking and slashing the bloody pair found a chink in the manticore's savage defenses - its death throes drew a loud cheer from the rest of the raiders!

Turn 2

When rolling to see who won momentum for the next turn we got a draw - a cut scene - time for the heroes to get busy!

Thirsty for more carnage, Dolf Hamrison spotted his next target - leaping effortlessly over the wall that ran by the roadside, the great wolf charged into Horg, one of the Baron's pet ogres. Despite the whirlwind of claws and teeth assailing him, the great hulk managed to fend the attack away. Tightening his grip on his mighty bludgeon, he readied himself for vengeance...
Bruni Baegseg tilted his head back and bellowed a great victory roar - the red mist was descending and his axe hungry for more bloody ruin! Yet it was not to be for this great warrior - spying his chance with a beady eye, Khleg the Executioner loped forward, bringing his reeking axe up and down in a great arc that ended firmly planted in the Berserker's chest. Falling with a look of utter incomprehension on his face Bruni was no more!

Hroarr Sveinbjorn had seen the danger too late. Yelling in dismay at the death of his comrade he dashed forward with spear levelled. The Executioner, fresh from his butchery, was not ready for this counter attack and the spear found its mark. Hroarr attempted to drive the thrust home and avenge his brother-in-arms yet the Ogre's thick hide and chainmail jerkin turned the spear point away (Despite using a Havoc Token - available to characters to augment attack/defense/buy extra actions.).
Turn 3

Now that the skeletons were on the move momentum fell to them...

The four remaining skeletons that had come under fire on the road had skulked into the cover of the trees. They now broke cover and rushed at Erikson himself! Nearby the mule team began to skirt around the swirling melees in front of them - heading for a gap in the trees and the clear road beyond! Close behind them Arved the Treeman lumbered inexorably on.

Back on the road, having seen one of their most renowned fighters fall and Hroarrs valiant attack fail, the band of four Norse warriors also threw themselves at the dread figure of Khlegg. As they charged forward a terrible apparition drifted towards them - a spectre, raised from the crypt and bound to the Baron's evil will, loomed over one of the terrified fighters! Alarmed at this turn of events the Norse shaman, Sundafyllir, began to chant the preparations for an augmentation (can be used to add up to 4 extra dice in a friendly model's attack who is within range). Behind them yet more skeletons moved onto the road in the shadow of a huge Bone Giant...

The skeletons continued their advance followed by the Bone Giant, moving off the road to head off the mule train. Meanwhile Snorrison gathered his wits sufficiently to move to a position to better support Erikson.

As the clash of steel rang out once more Khlegg the executioner, for once, felt the bite of the blade himself, as he succumbed to the combined assault of Hroaar and his fighters. Icy fingers seemed to wrap around Sindr Sverrir's throat but he somehow fended off the spectre's supernatural attack. Holding onto his sanity by the skin of his teeth and emboldened by the shaman's magical intervention, he struck back but his blade whistled harmlessly through the foul apparition's shroud!

Facing a flurry of scimitars and spearpoints Erikson ducked and weaved, parrying the skeletons savage jabs and amazingly surviving the vicious assault (three havoc tokens helped!).

Seeing a lull in the fighting he hopped backwards to stand shoulder to shoulder with Snorrison, ready for the next onslaught.

By the crumbling monastery Horg raised his great club high and brought it crashing down towards Hamrison. The agile creature deftly sidestepped the brutal but clumsy blow, but was left with nothing for a counter attack of his own...

Turn 4

The Undead advance seemed overwhelming and momentum fell to them once more.

Gnashing their teeth at the loss of their quarry the skeletons turned from Erikson, and instead charged Arved, hoping to fell the great Treeman. Acting quickly to even the score Erikson and his bard flanked the skeletons and charged one of the spearmen in the rear rank.

Suddenly everything seemed to stop as a terrible rending noise rolled over the battlefield as the Bone Giant strode through the trees, boughs crashing at its feet. With an unearthly howl it raised a huge boulder above its skull and fixing the mule train with its baleful eye socket sent the projectile crashing down. Knutr Onundr stood in the path of the missile - he stood no more. Behind his ruin also lay the remains of one of the mules. Stunned by the terrible attack Grimwald and little Hlafred threw themselves desperately at the towering creature!
Sundafyllir the Shaman, worried by this turn of events began preparation of an intervention to assist in the defence of the now beleagured Norsemen.

And well he might as the Baron, sensing victory, glided over the monastery walls to fall upon Hroaar. Frustrated by the lack of targets in the swirling melees ahead of him, Bruni Bersi the archer saw his chance for glory - he ran forward to assist Hroaar against the dread figure of the Baron.

Hamrison's grim struggle against Horg continued as he parried the ogre's next swipe. Launching into a counter attack his claws raked across the ogre's side in a glancing blow, yet failed to wound the obstinate hulk. Enraged by this pinprick Horg lashed out wildly, catching Hamrison beneath the chin and sending the noble warrior crashing to the floor, dead!

Rejoicing in the death of another of his enemies, the Baron's great sword crashed into Hroarr's shield. Quick as a flash, he turned the blow to one side and smashed the shield into the terrifying visage before him. A low and malevolent laughter emanated from the Baron's bony helm at such a pathetic blow... Hroaar desperately pressed home his attack yet the spear point seemed to meet an invisible wall as it plunged towards the Baron's black heart! Joining the fight the archer swung true with his sword yet his fear got the better of him and the thrust carried no strength.

Behind this desperate struggle the Nores warriors still faced the spectre. This time it turned its evil attention to Brandr. The first attack was turned, yet it was only a feint and Brandr soon felt the very life force being sucked out of him. Badly weakened he tightened his grip on his sword and steadied his resolve. Sindr chose his moment well to attack but yet again his axe passed harmlessly through the insubstantial creature.

Arved easily batted aside the skeleton's assault, yet Erikson and Snorrison failed to hit their target in the swirling maelstrom.

This round of fighting ended in a dreadful scene as the second band of skeletons fell upon the undefended mule train. The poor lead beast didn't stand a chance against its cruel and inhuman attackers!

Turn 5
Again momentum fell to the Undead...
Not much moved across the bloodied fields as most of the combatants were engaged in melee. Having dispatched his plucky opponent Horg lumbered over the wall and crashed across the road in Angered - one of the Norse fighters held up by the spectre's dominion over the highway. Gazing up at the Bone Giant the shamanbegan to chant the incantations of a spell that would hopefully negate the huge terror. Feeling the power course through his arms Sundafyllir cast his incantation of disruption forth but it passed harmlessly by the giant...

Bitgter fighting raged on by the monastery - the Baron turned and effortlessly swatted the archer away like a fly, although Hroaar was ready and defended his attack. His determined counter attack (pepped up with a havoc token) hit home but again couldn't penetrate the Baron's arcane armour.

Again Arved easily turned the skeleton's wild assault and answered it by delicately stepping on one of them, grinding it to dust.

Halfred was next on the Giant's agenda. Managing to half dodge its crushing blow, the brave halfling still succumbed to his wounds!
Meanwhile the other band of skeletons carried on their rampage in the mule train - however they failed to wound the last mule and it ran, terrified, from the field!
Seeing all this and having just dodged a giant and bony fist himself, Grimwald's courage deserted him! Heading for the hills he ran...


Grimwald sat back, fear still dancing in his eyes. A circle of grim faces flickered in the firelight of the near empty longhouse. The Headman stirred from his revery and spoke,

"Then we must assume Erikson and his brothers fell nobly at the hands of this dread foe you speak of.
It is good, a warrior's fate..."

And so ended our game - would have liked to have played another turn - but time was against us...

Lots of fun though and would definitely reccomend you try it!

I'll try and write a more comprehensive review of the rules at a later date...

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Ghoul Interrupted

A while back VoodooInk (another fellow LAF'er) kindly asked me to review his rather fine wargame rules set - Havoc! so that's what I did (or have started doing). Interesting set of rules with some nice ideas for activations, combat and special characters - more of which later... oh and the rule book itself - lovely!

As the game's only just got going I thought I'd outline the scenario and opposing forces -

The band of weary Norse raiders trudged disconsolatley away from yet another deserted hamlet. They had been dogged by bad luck since landing on the mainland - fields were already razed, villages empty and those that weren't had been strangely relieved that it was "[b]only[/b] the Norse coming!"

Erik Erikson was not a happy raider - someone had beat them to it - someone scarier than him and his band of wild warriors...

As the Northmen led their rather meagre mule train down the road back in the direction of the coast, a sudden chill seemed to creep through the air. Only Snorrison the Bard didn't notice, engrossed as he was in yet another inebriated balad. The others all felt the hair rise on the backs of their necks - magic was afoot!

Meanwhile in a nearby ruined monastery, Baron Kraust began the penultimate verse in his grim song of the dead - once it was complete his undead army would be strengthened twofold. His unearthly followers danced and cackled at the swelling of necromantic energies, while two ogres, who had followed the wake of destruction the Baron had wreaked across the land, fed the last of the prisoners to a snarling manticore.

Yet all was not well... the baron hissed with rage as his concentration was broken by a rather ribald and slurred drinking song which drifted over the crumbling ruins. Swearing death and damnation on the interlopers the Baron swung a bony finger in the direction of the nearby coastal road, and in a voice that echoed with a deathly malevolence he intoned,

"Leave none alive..."

Objectives -

Norse - reach the far end of the table with as much loot intact - preferably still on the pack mules!

Undead - Kill, kill, kill!

The Forces - (I've recycled a few pics from my other posts so apologies if you've already seen them!)

Norse -

Erik Erikson - (Champion of Eriksey)

Snorrison the Bard (or should that be barred?! Musician)

Dolf Hamrison - The Blade (Fencer - duel weapons)

Bruni Baegseg - (The Berserker!)

Sundafyllir the Shaman - (Magus)

Hroarr Sveinbjorn - (the Basher)

Arved - Treeman

Bruni Bersi - archer

Halfred Shortwick

Anghered the Angry

Brandr the Blue

Grimwald Hollison

Egil Ekbert

Knutr Onundr

Sindr Sverrir (on a recent trip to Lustria!)

Undead -
Baron Kraust

Khleg the Executioner

Horg - Ogre

Fellinae - manticore

The big one - bone giant

The Spectre

The skeleton horde

I hope to finish the game, take some nice pics and get a writeup done by Friday...