Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tigger Visits the Big Apple: 19 Nov 2011 (Intro)

It has been some months since I last played Warhammer 40K.  In large part, that’s because much of my gaming time this year (2011) has been spent playing the following miniatures wargame:


That’s only partly tongue-in-cheek, as of course D&D in all its incarnations has always been somewhat “wargamey”, and the current two editions (Pathfinder and 4e) are both particularly well adapted to widespread use of miniatures.

Tigger Visits the Big Apple: 19 Nov 2011 (Part I)

Opponent: Kenton’s Kurindans (Tyranids proxy).  In the past, Kenton’s Kurindans have been filled with many more ‘fluffy’ units, such as Genestealers, Ravagers, Hive Tyrants, Carnifexes, etc.  However, today he was fielding a stripped-down ‘nasty’ Tyranid list, heavy on Tervigons and Termagants and lean-and-mean on ranged shooting and support units (like Warriors).  This is without a doubt one of the better all-comer Nid lists, particularly when playing objective missions.

Kurindans Army (1500 pts Tyranid proxy list)
  • HQ: Prime with Rending
  • Elite: 2x3 Hive Guard
  • Elite: 2x Venomthropes
  • HQ/Troop: 3x Tervigon with Catalyst
  • Troop: 2x10 Termagants
  • Troop: x4,x5 Warriors with Deathspitters and 1x Venom Cannon

Mission: Seize Ground/Pitched Battle.  In this match-up, we randomly generated three objectives, with me placing two, and Kenton placing one.

Terrain: Ruined cityscape with wide avenues, plenty of overgrowth and low ruins in the middle and right thirds of the table, and several sizable multi-story buildings blocking LOS on the left third of the table.

Tigger Visits the Big Apple: 19 Nov 2011 (Part II)

It had been a hard-fought battle, and the last ninety or so minutes had been a frantic whirlwind of activity and death.  But as Krinophora-Adelphe Jones looked upon the field, it was clear to her that the “Swinging Sisters” had won this contest.  The Kurindan position was untenable, and trying to continue the battle would only result in horrific further casualties as they rushed headlong into the superior positions held by the forces of the Blessed Emperor.  There was no shame in retreat; anything else was more than futile, it was stupidity.

And yet, Theophany realized with a cold chill, the Kurindans were not falling back.  In fact, they were rushing forward with increasing speed, and she felt a sudden dull ache in her soul.  The day was not over, and the “Swinging Sisters” were not going to avoid taking pointless, meaningless fatalities.  All for an abandoned Imperial substation on a worthless little dirtball of a planet...

When several of the Rassophora-Sisters under her command looked at her in surprise, Theophany realized she was grinding her teeth so loudly that her jaw was beginning to ache as much as her soul.  “Faith in the Emperor”, she thought to herself, and barked out the order to open fire.

Tigger Visits the Big Apple: 19 Nov 2011 (Post-Mortem)

The new Sisters have significantly fewer options than I remember from before – and don’t appear to have had many new options added in balance.  Although the “Immolator-spam” strategy they employed was largely a matter of limited options in the previous codex, and the new Sisters are back to being the mid-ranged shooting list they were in 2e and 3e, they really don’t do it particularly well.  Their Battle Sisters are basically Tac-Marine-wannabes, and have none of the real benefits of Tac squads (like the ability to Combat Squad, ATSKNF, or Toughness 4).  Although marginally fewer points, they have a minimum squad size of TEN (not five!), and their Faith ability, though versatile, is also unreliable and very limited in terms of what it can accomplish.  It does nothing, for example, to help units armed with flamers in the Shooting phase.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Retrospective: Cold Wars WAB Tournament, 11-12 March 2011 (Intro)

The Northeastern Warhammer Ancients community has started to splinter somewhat with the arrival of the new 2nd edition of the ruleset – some long-time members of the community have been unhappy with the changes to the rules, while others have taken to the new rules with few complaints.  This 2011 Cold Wars was an opportunity for the two ‘sides’ to reach a sort of working compromise on the issue – those favoring the 1e rules (as well as those looking for a change of pace) flocked to the English Civil War tournament, while the remaining few who showed up at this low-turnout event played in the fully 100% anachronistic, not-at-all historically accurate Ancients/Medievals combined tournament.

Of course, before the shenanigans on Saturday (12 March), there was the traditional evening doubles tournament to start off the festivities.  Unlike in previous years, I already had a partner for the doubles in advance – fellow Warmonger Ancients gamer (and fellow prenomen) Ken P, fielding his Arthurian Saxon army.

Retrospective: Cold Wars WAB Doubles Tournament, 11 March 2011 (Game 1)

Opponents: Mike D (Teutonics) and John B (Ottomans).  John is a long-time opponent and I am very familiar with his maneuver-heavy playstyle with Ottomans.  Mike’s Teutonic Knights, on the other hand, was sure to be a fairly blunt instrument, but also heavily reliant on cavalry.

Armies: (3000 pts)
  • General & BSB on warhorses with full armor, not attached to units
  • 2 units of 5 Knights and 5 Turkopoles in back ranks, one unit with WS5
  • 3 units of 8/8/9 crossbows with heavy armor and pavise (3+ saves)
  • 1 unit of 8 skirmishing cavalry with bows
  • General & BSB on horses with armor, not attached to units
  • 2 units of 10 medium spear/archer cavalry (one unit is Janissaries)
  • 2 units of 9/10 skirmishing nomadic cavalry
  • 2 units of 9 skirmishing infantry archers
  • 1 unit of 10 medium infantry (Janissaries with halberds/bows)
  • 1 Bombard artillery piece with crew
Mission: Alternating deployment (2 units per side until all units set up), 12” in from long board edge, and an unmodified roll-off afterwards to decide who takes first turn.

Terrain: Playing on a 4x8 table, the left half was almost completely open, with a few trees and hills about 12” in from either long edge.  The right half had a huge hill in the middle of the table, neatly blocking up LOS from most angles.

Retrospective: Cold Wars WAB Doubles Tournament, 11 March 2011 (Game 2)

Opponent: Adam (Imperial Macedonians) and Duncan (Spartacus Romans).  Duncan is a tournament regular and true ambassador of the hobby, and had traveled to Cold Wars from England to participate in the events.  Adam is one of the more notorious members of the Warhammer Ancients scene, as you will see below.

Armies: (3000 pts)
  • General & BSB on horses with armor, not attached to units
  • 4 units of 21 phalanx pikemen
  • 1 unit of 11 companions (medium shock cavalry)
  • Special Character General Crassus, on horse and not attached to unit
  • BSB and Lictor on foot, not attached to unit
  • 4 units of 18 legionnaires (three are drilled/stubborn)
  • 1 unit of 9 skirmishers
  • 1 unit of 12 archers without command
Mission: Alternating deployment (2 units per side until all units set up), 12” in from long board edge, but also more than 12” from short board edges, and an unmodified roll-off afterwards to decide who takes first turn.

Terrain: A large hill and long arm of trees largely divides the table into two parts, one part significantly larger than the other.  Hills and trees ring the rest of the killing grounds.

Retrospective: Cold Wars WAB Singles Tournament, 12 March 2011 (Game 1)

Opponent: Eric (Sassanids).  A cheerful enough fellow leading a historically unlikely foe, Eric had a cavalry-heavy force of Persians that seemed, on paper at least, to be exactly the sort of foe that an Elephant-heavy list like mine would most prefer to face.

Army: (1750 pts)
  • General & BSB on horses with armor, not attached to units
  • Elephant with Howdah and archers
  • 1 unit of 8 Kontos/Bow Drilled Heavy Cavalry (Clibanarii)
  • 2 units of 9 Kontos/Bow Medium Cavalry (Clibanarii)
  • 1 unit of 15 spearmen/archer infantry
  • 1 unit of 10 light cavalry with Parthian shot
  • 1 unit of 9 nomadic cavalry
Mission: Fog of War (special mission).  Diagonal deployment zones 24” apart, alternating deployment, and an unmodified roll-off to decide who takes first turn.

Terrain: A number of low hills broke up the deployment areas into a number of separate sections, and some sparse copses of trees further enclosed and restricted the midfield area.  This would be a relatively tight fight in the center of the table.

Retrospective: Cold Wars WAB Singles Tournament, 12 March 2011 (Game 2)

Opponent: Ken P (Arthurian Saxons).  This is an army list that I’m very familiar with, as I’ve helped Ken playtest and modify the list over a number of months.  It’s a pretty straightforward fast warband horde list – save one key difference that wouldn’t make much difference against me: no auto-breaking opponents after winning combat.  Since my elephants stampede automatically when they lose combat, and I don’t expect my archers to do well against the Saxons in melee, I figured this distinction was more or less moot.

Army: (1750 pts)
  • 4 units of 28 freemen, one with General & BSB
  • 1 unit of 28 churls
  • 1 unit of 10 skirmishing freemen cavalry
  • 2 units of 9 skirmishers
Mission: “Meeting Engagement”.  Armies deploy in pre-determined sequence (‘marching order’), with war machines automatically setting up last.  Units deploy 6” away from center line, and no closer than 18” to enemy units.  NO special/skirmish deployment to start game, and player who finishes first – or who has no war machines – gets automatic choice of first turn.

Terrain: Low hills and trees surrounding an empty midfield.  The Saxons had no terrain really breaking up their deployment zone, while my zone was broken up into several discrete areas, forcing me to set up fairly tight in order to have mutual supporting LOS with all my ranged units.

Retrospective: Cold Wars WAB Singles Tournament, 12 March 2011 (Game 3)

Opponent: Duncan (Spartacus Romans).  Possibly the only plausibly historical match-up I had this tournament!  The Spartacus Roman list is an interesting one, and in hindsight, possibly one of the nastier Roman army lists out of the many that exist in the Ancients rules.  The key elements are dirt-cheap Legionnaires, led by what are effectively minor heroes in the Centurion upgrades – and those Spartacus-era Centurions are head-and-shoulders above the ones from other eras, too.

Army: (1750 pts)
  • Special Character General Crassus, on horse and not attached to unit
  • BSB and Lictor on foot, not attached to unit
  • 2 units of 12 legionnaires (veteran/drilled/stubborn) with Centurion
  • 1 unit of 21 legionnaires (drilled/stubborn) with Centurion
  • 3 units of 18 conscript legionnaires with Centurion
  • 2 unit of 9/10 archers without command
Mission: “Delayed Reserves”.  Both units must set aside a formed infantry or cavalry unit as a reserve, and note which short table edge they will enter (left/right) later in the game.  Alternating deployment 12” in from long table edge, and an unmodified roll-off to decide who takes first turn.  Flankers enter on 4+ on Turn 3, or 3+ on Turn 4, or 2+ on Turn 5, or do not enter at all and are considered lost.

Terrain: Low hills and trees surrounding an empty midfield.  The Romans (as a melee army) didn’t really need to worry about terrain in their deployment zone; my Nubians ended up being squeezed a little by some woods in my deployment zone.

Retrospective: Cold Wars WAB Tournament, 11-12 March 2011 (Postscript)

John B, our tournament organizer, had added an additional layer of historical fun to this event: the armies had been divided into armies of “Good” (aka ‘Armies of Christendom’), and armies of “Evil” (aka not).  The armies of “Evil” ended up with an impressive total, edging out the armies of “Good”, and spelling (at least temporary) doom for the forces of the White Christ.

How the pagan polytheistic Romans of the era of Spartacus ended up on the side of “Good” is anyone’s guess, but I suppose that’s just Classical bias for you.

It turns out that in my third game of the Singles tournament, against Duncan’s Romans, I had been playing for the Best General.  I thus wasn’t at all surprised that Duncan was crowned Best General of Cold Wars 2011 (at least, in the Warhammer Ancients tournament); a well-deserved victory for a masterful gamer and a very sharp guy.

Far more surprising was discovering that I had won an award, as well:

Put simply, of all the prizes and tournament awards I’ve won, I think this is the one I’m proudest of.  I even love the awesomely silly high-five emblem.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Retrospective: 6-8 August 2010 Counteroffensive VII (Intro)

You can also read coverage of this event at the Jungle, from the perspective of Sho-T (Pat) and Justiciar (Bryan):
I had been very excited about this particular counteroffensive event, and put together no less than four (!) army lists for the event, based on any number of crazy 40K army ideas that have been percolating over the years.  The Usual Suspects had agreed on 1750 point army lists, and so I brought along:

(A) A Space Marine Dreadnought Bash.
(B) A Slann (space lizard!) army list, using Tau rules.
(C) A classic-miniature Tyranid Warrior list.
(D) My "Swinging Sixties" Sisters of Battle list.

Retrospective: 6 August 2010 Counteroffensive VII (Game 1)

The Eibel Offensive
The desert planet of Auros IX has seen numerous conflicts, and much blood spilled upon its red sands.  The Imperial Guard regiment in the sector was sent to the ninth planet to investigate the possibility of survivors of a new enemy of the Imperium to the region, a splinter Hive Fleet that was engaged and (largely) defeated by the naval fleet that was making a routine sweep through the Auros sector.

Under the command of Commander Eibel, and accompanied by the infamous xenos specialist Inquisitor Vader, the small force scouted Auros IX and immediately upon finding signs of xenos drop-spores, began a standard search-and-destroy pattern around the landing site.  As they approached a long-abandoned Imperial mining camp, the sands suddenly erupted upward, and what appeared to be the core of the surviving xenos elements, led by a “Hive Tyrant” designee, rushed toward the Imperial units.

Retrospective: 7 August 2010 Counteroffensive VII (Game 2)

Opponent: Phil (Imperial Guard) was a new player to the 40K hobby, and he and his young son had shown up at Counteroffensive hoping to get in a few games with more experienced players.  While my able colleagues took on the enthusiastic younger gentleman, I faced off against Phil’s mix of Guard units with 1500 points of my “counts-as-Tau” Slann lizardmen.  I removed the two Piranha and one unit of Pathfinders (moving “their” transport to the Fire warriors) to make points, while Phil had the following:
  • Commander with Standard, Astropath, Vox, and Medic
  • 2x Platoon Commanders (one with Vox/Missile/Commissar, one with Plasma Pistol and Vox)
  • 4x IG infantry squads w/Vox (Lascannon, Autocannon, HBolter/Melta, Missile/Plasma)
  • 1x Veterans with 2 Flamers, Heavy Flamer, and Meltabombs
  • 2x Leman Russ MBT (one with HBolter sponsons, one with MMelta sponsons)
  • 6 Ogryn (in Reserve)
  • Marbo (in Reserve)

Retrospective: 8 August 2010 Counteroffensive VII (Game 3)

Attendance at this particular Counteroffensive event being rather paltry, Pat and Bryan and I decided to set up a megabattle event for anyone interested in playing some 40K on Sunday 8 August.  If no-one showed up to play, we decided to play a megabattle event ourselves, pitting Pat & Bryan’s Tyranids against my Sisters of Battle.  As I’d only brought a little over 2000 points, I borrowed a few pieces from Pat’s collection, and the Dreamwizards store collection, to make up the extra points.

In the end, my 3000-point Sisters list included the following “extrys”:
  • Callidus Assassin
  • A third 5-model unit of Arbites (2 Meltaguns, 3 Shotguns)
  • A third 5-model unit of Dominions (4 Flamers, Leader with Brazier/BP)
  • ….and four extra flamers to equip the first two Dominions with a total of 4 flamers each
  • A second Inquisitor, equipped identically to the first with identical retinue
  • 3x Immolators with Extra Armor & Smoke (to transport the three units above)
  • 3x Exorcists with Extra Armor
For those of you playing the home game, that’s 12 immolators, 3 exorcists, 20 meltaguns, 15 flamers, and a smattering of Autocannons because honestly, why not.  Plus two Ld10 Psychic Hoods and five faith (‘mojo’) points for good measure.  It was really an awful army list, full of all kinds of Beatface and Sealclubbing, and other generally Not Nice things.

Retrospective: 6-8 August 2010 Counteroffensive VII Postscript

A very quiet year at Counteroffensive, and a somewhat bitter taste in the mouth to end things.  All things to keep in mind for next year’s Counteroffensive, and keeping things a bit more ‘Real’.

My thought is to bring the same (or similar) lists and armies again, and try (try again) with a slightly more overt ranking of “Tasty” to “Crunchy” to “Just Plain Mean” to best calibrate to what my opponents are using or how they’re playing that day, which suggests to my mind the following hierarchy of sportliness and competitivosity:

Light & Tasty: SM Dreadnoughts
Crunchy Fun: Tyranid Warriors
Just Plain Mean: Slann (Tau)
I KEEL you: Sisters of Battle

More on this as things develop.

Retrospective: Warmonger Charity WAB Tournament: 29 January 2011 (Intro)

The third annual Warmonger Charity tournament to benefit the American Cancer Society, organized by our local Warhammer Ancients fanatic and condottiero John Bianchi, was held on 29 January 2010.  One could also think of it as another fine excuse for me to field my (mostly finished) Nubian historical army, and to play a version of Warhammer Fantasy that actually doesn’t suck most mightily (and which is within a reasonable price-range for a full army), all whilst introducing myself to an anachronistic array of historical opponent from virtually every period of human history.

The Nubians are the third of my WAB armies, and by far the most random, relying as they do almost entirely on the hitting power of elephants, which are unpredictable creatures even at the best of times.  When things work, they tend to work great.  When they don’t, it’s either a brutal loss (for me) or a long, slow, grinding tie game (also fairly common).  And because the elephants are so not maneuverable at all, I can easily lose a game in the deployment phase.  Still, practice makes permanents, and the more practice I get with the Nubians, the better I (hopefully) can be with them.

Retrospective: Warmonger Charity WAB Tournament: 29 January 2011 (Results)

In all, I played three fine opponents that day, starting with Dave and his samurai list.  Now, it’s no secret that the official Samurai list in the “Armies of Antiquity” supplement is quite nasty, and I rather expected that Dave would hurt me quite badly.  That said, I was a bit surprised at how small his army was, and in particular how he had no cavalry to speak of.  I even (foolishly) allowed myself the hope that I might actually win this.

Beautiful models, apparently of the “Mountain” clan.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why the blog went on hiatus

There are two versions of what happened at the Counteroffensive event in August 2010.  Here’s Bryan’s writeup on the Jungle, which strikes me as pretty measured:

Here’s basically what I felt about 40K afterwards:

It’s been years since I had a real desire to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, etc, etc.  That’s one of the reasons I don’t really game much with the current crowd at the Warmonger Club anymore (that, and the whole Fantasy kick they’ve been on for a while now).  When it comes to hyper-competitive (albeit polite and well-mannered), these guys are pretty much the final word.  So it was a bit of a surprise, and depressing to boot, to be put in the same category.  Since I don’t game for seal-clubbing, pound-face reasons, I decided perhaps it would be best to put away the toy soldiers for a while, until I felt differently.

It’s been a few months since then, with only one small test-match between Cilician Armenians (me) and ancient Saxons (played by Ken P).


Why the blog stayed on hiatus

Although the Counteroffensive experience of my friends might have put my game on "pause" for a while, it wasn't why I basically stopped wargaming for a number of months.  For that, we need a bit more background.

See, there aren’t many things that upset me, but one thing that is pretty much guaranteed to do so is an arrogant, elitist, privileged self-entitlement.

Sociological and ethnographic surveys support the personal anecdotes of many scientists and sociologists – recent decades have seen an increasingly larger number of extremely talented, bright people choosing to move into arenas of expertise that pay significantly better than science.  As a result, you have a new generation (now nearly two) of very bright, talented professionals who are not only extremely aware of how bright they are, but are also convinced (due to their own successes, societal reinforcement, and social networks) that they are brighter than most people in the world.

Combine with unexamined privilege (to wit: not recognizing all the advantages and good fortune they benefit from), an unfailing belief in the ideology of American meritocracy (significantly flawed, and more so in the past 30 years than ever before), and unvarnished success in their personal lives, and I find myself meeting significant numbers of such cocksure young professionals in wargaming circles.

Their self-confidence and passionate belief in their (unexamined) ideologies is further reinforced by the fact that they make very, very good money.  Because that is the ultimate measure of social approval, isn’t it?  (Just ask Karl Marx.)

Here are some interesting (and terribly flawed) ideologies perpetuated (and loudly volunteered) by wargamers that I’ve had the dubious pleasure of engaging with in the past few years.  Note that the statistical and historical evidence doesn’t support any of the following ideologies or false beliefs – yet, they persist most mightily, apparently because a simple “feel-good” story, and gnostic predisposition toward feeling like you know some "special truth" always trumps tough, complicated facts.

(a) Labor unions are necessarily evil, especially teacher unions
(b) Scientists are idiots, and science is a vast conspiracy
(c) 9/11 was the design of a massive government conspiracy.
(d) Government is necessarily evil, and has no purpose, nor provides any benefit.
(e) Racism is anachronistic and outdated, and minorities take advantage of good upstanding folk.
(f) Religion is responsible for all the ills of the world
(g) Poverty exists because poor people are too lazy or selfish to work hard.
(h) It’s okay to objectify women because I don’t think that I am, and it’s a free country and what are you some kind of PC monster feminist witch pussy-whipped etc (add infinite ad hominems)

I suppose a simpler explanation for why I got tired of gaming (and blogging about games, accordingly) is that I got tired of hanging around cocksure, arrogant little puppies who liked to drape their personal (typically but not always conservative or libertarian) politics over everyone within earshot.

I found that I no longer got a thrill out of confronting stupidity and unexamined falsehoods.  I definitely no longer found the rhetorical game of “Making Smart People Feel Like Goddamn Idiots” terribly enjoyable.  Mostly, it just made me feel old and very, very tired.  And I no longer felt like going “cold” to tournaments, because I know that the demographic of gamers tends to skew heavily toward: white, male, upper-middle-class, conservative/libertarian, non-self-reflective.  The odds of running into loud, pushy, arrogant young fellows who looooove to share their social insights.... is extremely high.

See, the problem (for me) is that even when people aren’t being terribly political, the cocksure chaps that are full of themselves will still put their foolishness gratuitously and openly on display.  Then he (and it’s almost always a “he”) will glory in a rhetorical game I like to call “Show Other People That I’m Smarter/Better Than Them”.  And gosh do I get tired of such displays.

I’ll demonstrate by using a blog I read.  Keep in mind that I enjoy reading this blog, but it does a lot of the sort of thing I’m talking about –without cruel intent, but sometimes that’s worse, no?

And then there’s the webcast that I used to like…but I stopped listening to because they kept being homophobic, misogynistic asswipes:


Finally, I realized that I was tired of gaming against cheaters.  Apparently my tolerance for them is much lower than it is for other people, or maybe I’m just more willing to call people out when they’re being cheating asswipes.

(5) A very, very good cheater plays it ‘straight’ here…. but at the local tournament where he played against me, he cheated his ass off in order to win the free toys (and first prize).  BTW, if you’re confused about which one is the cheater in this batrep, it’s NOT the Stelek (the Space Wolf player)

(6) And here’s even more fun – this time, it’s not just cheating by other players.  It’s also straight-up shenanigans from a tournament organizer who wants to be an asswipe.  Possibly he was being cocksure at some point in the (distant) past and I made him look the fool, and he was trying to get back at me.  Maybe he’s just an asswipe regardless.


Why I’m posting again

  • Because I’m playing Warhammer Ancients again at a charity tournament at the end of January 2011.  Hopefully I’ll post results.
  • Because my 40K friends at the Gate (Pat and Bryan, named above at the top of the post, included) have continued to share their enjoyment with the game on-line.
  • Because I really do like painting and playing with toy soldiers.
  • But perhaps this is just another phase in my ongoing maturity and development.  Turns out that this truly is a ‘social’ activity for me, and at this point in my life, I prefer to spend my ‘social’ time in situations and circumstances that have a relatively high likelihood of being enjoyable – meaning I probably will focus on gaming more with just friends.  Like the 2011 Counteroffensive event, which is being planned as I write this.