Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hobby Update: Crossbowmen

March has been very busy for me... it’s been a lot of fun, but also incredibly hectic. And as a result, it’s been a little light on anything related to hobbying.

I was trying to get into a grove of alternating between games and hobby progress... but games will also be in short supply for the next two weeks at least. I had one lined up this past week that fell through, and the next two weeks have other things planned on my usual war gaming day. While I really want to get out on the table and roll some dice, such a reprieve may actually be good for my army.

The list has been fun to play and learn from, but there are definitely some shortcomings with it in its current form. I’m still trying to adjust my old MSU strategies to KoW effectively. I’ve got some ideas on how to improve my army… but the changes I want to make will necessitate adding some new plastic to the army… which I have been reluctant to dive into with all this old Empire stuff still taking up space in my hobby nook..

That said, all this hobby stuff is obviously self-imposed. Any tension I feel is entirely self-created. So, since I like my wants to guide my hobbying, I’m caving.

I’ve decided that I’m going to shelve my Pike Block Regiment for the time being. The bodies are actually almost entirely done already, and have been so basically since I finished the first regiment. The problem was that I didn’t have enough pikes to go around, and haven’t settled on how to convert the last of them into Pikemen. Since there is no rush to get this unit done in any way whatsoever… they’ll just languish for a bit.

I have however, finished those three Troops of Crossbowmen. Huzzah!

All three Troops. Still with my odd basing scheme. A few models that tripped the "crossbow" filter on Reaper Mini's site were drafted as unit leaders.
The units themselves are… a little underwhelming, I guess? As I showed earlier, Hordes are the best buys for damage, and Arquebusiers actually look like the best investments points-wise for us, with Crossbowmen only really having a points-effective niche against Defense 3 targets. So… while they will probably make their way into a few games… I don’t know how often they’ll actually see the table. But hey, they’re done, and I even snapped some quick pics.

Another shot, since they were blurrier than usual in the group pic.
So, with these done, and that Pikemen languishing for now, what’s left between me and that new plastic I’m itching to get to? Just a Troop and a Regiment of Pole-Arms? And the Regiment just needs some touchups? Alright, stand back. I got this.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Update on my Transition Projects

Pi Day was celebrated very fully by me today, with a copious amounts of coffee and a variety of delectable slices of pie consumed throughout the day. Probably fortunately for me (as the sugar/caffeine crash was… expectedly brutal at the end of the day) my potential games fell through for tonight, so got a little hobby in, and relaxed.

With the completion of Zeno’s Greatsword Foot Guard, a hefty chunk of my models in transition projects were moved into the “done” category.

While I still have some other GW units I could transition over to KoW... I am not feeling the need to do so. I like my army plan and don’t think I need to bring these officially into the fold (yet). Anyways, here is an update on what is left of my planned transition projects:

RegimentPole-Arms Block Regiment (Fancy Hats)100
RegimentPike Block135

Everything except for the last troop of Pole-Arms (which is still on the sprue) can be considered “in-progress,” as it has some amount of paint on it already. We’ll see how long it takes to power through the last of these units and move on to new, unspoiled plastic.

…and speaking of, as a reward for finishing up the Foot Guard, I just placed an order for a few new plastic goodies... mostly more Roman stuff. I haven’t even started on my older new plastic yet. The vicious cycle of hobbying continues… 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Hobby Update: An Obnoxious Amount of Greatsword Foot Guards!

Zeno’s Greatsword Foot Guard have received the majority of my hobby attention for... a few weeks now.The odd mini was worked on here and there, but overall.. every time I sat down to hobby, I was grinding away on something related to these guys.

Group pic! I hope no one blinked.

Originally, I wasn't expecting to spend this much time transitioning them over. They were actually already painted up decently, but as I started working on them, I decided I wanted to do a little more for them.

Two troops. Zeno the Elder leads the one on the left; some guy with a horn leads the one on the right.

Basically, fashion did me in. The uniforms for Pole Arms and other average joes were done up in quarter colors. When I painted these guys up originally though, they had these cool slashed sleeves, so I did some nice big bands of alternating color.

Two horn players lead these troops.
However... I just painted their pants straight purple, even though the cloth also had slashes. I was apparently feeling lazy back in the day. So, I figured I'd try the same alternating broad stripes on the pants too. That took a surprisingly amount of time.

Zeno the younger leads the troop on the right. Him lacking the stripe effect is slightly jarring... but I doubt my opponent would care or notice, or that I'll even ever run all 6 troops. Plus, if I roll them into larger units, he can be replaced by a bannerman easily.
And yes, I know I did the slashes “wrong.” I'm alternating stripe colors and using a black wash in the crevices of the model. Usually, these models are painted up with one color in the crevice, and one color for the cloth stripes (if your army has two major colors). I didn't want to fuddle (and stress) too much on the details on these models, so I fudged and did it my way. They're painted to a tabletop standard, and multi based in my odd fashion, so I'm calling them done. Wohoo!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Thoughts on the Provincial Loot Battle

On Loot…

My opponent had already unpacked all his models on one side of the table before we rolled “Loot” up, so most of the objectives ended up being placed near the middle, in an effort to be gentlemanly. I think we both approached this as “fight for a few turns” and then use whatever is left to claim objectives in the last few turns… there is definitely a lot of room for strategic improvement on my part here, but that will come with more experience with the scenario and increased familiarity with my list.

On the game…

I think we both played a good game, each with our own ups and downs.

I think I was too aggressive with my left flank to begin with. I should have stayed in my deployment zone. I was hoping his speedy cavalry would advance ahead of his infantry, and I could pick each apart in turn. However, by moving my left flank forward... it allowed his forces to arrive all at once, which caused some trouble for me.

Additionally, I think I could have deployed a little better on the left. I think putting my Foot Guard at the table edge (instead of the chaffy Pole Arms) would have made for a better anchor for that section of my lines. Minor, but minor things add up.

In the center, I think I should have used my Foot Guard Troop more conservatively; deployed with and supporting the left flank, for instance, instead of brazenly trying to take the center all by themselves…

On the right, I think I deployed very well, and played an excellent early game. My “traps” worked as intended this time, and I bagged his units there without real issues. Everything started out according to plan… but I didn’t really have a plan for after I removed those two units. I felt I needed to try and deal with his ranged abilities (as they could potentially each pick off a tiny unit of mine per turn...), so I tried to advance, which was a gamble that didn’t really pay off, as the supporting fire of my artillery didn’t hit. I need to work on plans with back-ups.

My opponent commented in-game that he was having a rough time deciding what to do. He never felt like he had easy choices to make on his turns, which, was encouraging for me. Damned if I do/Damned if I don’t situations tends to be what my good MSU armies give my opponents. So if I’m making life a little rough for my opponent, I think I’m getting better at this game!

In general, I think I need to play a little more cautiously. Kingdoms of Men aren’t great fighters or shooters… so the wins will need to come from good judgment and tactics (and traps). The luck of having that extra set of turns saved me this time for sure.

On my List…

Overall, I think I played the list better than I did last time. I still really like the Pole Arm Troops. While the 5+ to hit still isn’t great with the Ballistae, though I do like having them in my list for the time being. I will be looking to drop the Bowmen for the next iteration of the list though. They have a place in the army, but aren’t synergizing and supporting my list as well as I’d like currently. Time to explore other things.

On future lists…

My list was a slight variant of my previous OCD MSU list, this time replacing a Regiment of Pike with one of Foot Guard with shields. The Foot Guard seems like a better choice for an all-comers list, given their Defense 5. I think they performed well. I’m eager to finish up these transition projects and to start work on my Praetorian Guard models as more defensive Roman-inspired Foot Guard units for this army...

On offense and MSU…

One thing I have noted in my games is that I don’t have any real way to leverage a potential deployment advantage. I can’t really catch my opponent off guard, as all my stuff is just “more humans, which aren’t really menacing.” And while I can win some fights through strength in numbers… I think that as the games get larger, the dog pile will rapidly cease being effective and I’ll need to up my offensive game with real honest-to-goodness offensive units that have keywords like Thunderous Charge, Piercing, and Crushing Strength.

While KoM does have some good ranged options (in terms of having Pierce); 5+ across the board to hit isn’t great to rely on... so while some more ranged units may find their way into my lists as support, I think I’ll be focusing more on adding more potent melee units for my offense punch.

A cavalry regiment with Maccwaw’s Potion of the Caterpillar is a popular choice for many armies it seems. While it seems like a reliable fall back option (I have two regiments of Knights already), I think I’d like to try out a Beast of War and some Troops of Mounted Sergeants in the coming games. The Beast of war can be a brutal final deployment, or just a powerful normal one, and I haven’t seen any lists with Mounted Sergeants and want to try them out as I think they have a lot of potential.

The elephant in the room is Bane Chant... which can theoretically just take any existing unit in my list and make it more deadly. While a pretty good option usually… BC doesn’t strike me as the best choice for an MSU list.

To be sure, a wizard with bane-chant (and the Talisman of Inspiration) will make his way into my future lists as the utility is just too darn good to pass up… but, playing MSU, as a rule, I want to invest my points in more units rather than in buffs for them.

Anyways, that's enough thinking and wording for now. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Battle: Provincial Loot!

May a thousand maladies befall the cowardly troops of this weak provincial garrison. At a mere whisper of elves being nearby, they fled with the utmost haste, managing to not only burn their outpost to the ground, but scatter all their provisions across the countryside as well.

Fortunately, some of the craven deserters happened upon a patrol nearby, who arrived just in time to see the elf host take the field. The pointy-eared thieves follow some ancient, archaic natural law of “finders keepers;” the only recourse for the Regnum Aeternum is to reclaim these provisions before the elves dance away with them…

My opponent and I rolled up the Pillage scenario, which was a new one for both of us. Neither of us placed the tokens with any real strategy, and most ended up nearish to the middle (he had unpacked all his models on one end of the table already… so it seemed like a jerk move to toss a bunch in my deployment zone). Just about every objective could be pretty easily reached.

Circled for your convenience. One is hiding behind a tree... my opponent is very cunning. I didn't actually know it was there until I tried to count the objectives halfway through the game.

We ended up needing all 7 of my new objective markers, and the field ended up looking like this. A few hills with tiered height levels; a few forests; a burnt out impassable building, and some fence obstacles that, being stone, survived the fleeing provincial rabble.

After deployment and my opponent's vanguard move. 
His deployment, left to right in the pic: Troop of Stormwind Cavalry, Regiment of Palace Guard, Troop of Palace Guard, Regiment of Archers on the hill, Wizard with Fireball and Bane Chant supporting them behind the hill, a Ballista, a Troop of Stormwind Cavalry, and a Troop of Hunters of the Wild (Vanguard, Pathfinder, not Elite).

My deployment, left to right: Troop of Pole Arms, Regiment of Eccentric Foot Guard with Shields, Regiment of Shield Wall, ASB, Troop of Foot Guard with greatswords, a ballista, a Regiment of Shield Wall, a Troop of Pole Arms, Ballista… and then on the opposite side of the building, a Troop of Bowmen in front of a Troop of Pole Arms in front of a Troop of Mounted Scouts with Carbines.

I had more drops than my opponent, but didn’t really have much to leverage with that advantage, so I just tried to set up favorable numbers on my flanks; most of my regiments on my left to hopefully overwhelm him with numbers, and Troops on my right to hopefully outmaneuver and win that flank. Beaming with (over) confidence, a Troop of Zeno’s Greatsword Foot Guard took center field, and aimed to march up repeatedly, and sock it to those archers…. My general plan was to advance, hopefully use my MSU list to win a few fights (eliminating a few units of his so he could contest fewer objectives), and then retreat in the final turns for the win. I don’t know what my opponent thought going in, but I’m sure it was sneaky and dastardly.
I managed to win the roll off for first turn, and took it.

Turn 1: Forward!
On my right, the parade marched up; the Bowmen scored a wound, along with two from the Carbine Scouts. The Regiment of Shield Wall and Troop of Pole Arms shuffled around.. trying to figure out where they would be needed in a few turns. The Ballista on the right fired, and wavered his Ballista; the one on the left couldn’t see much, and declined to fire. The Troop of Greatsword Foot Guard pompously marched up, and on my right, the Pole Arm Troop shuffled in the forest, and the Regiments of Foot Guard and Shield Wall shuffled a bit to threaten the hill.

Turn 2: The Elves retaliate, I mean, take the bait.
On Turn 2 (I still think in terms of top and bottom of a given turn… I need to break myself of that) his forces on the left of the field advanced to take the hill, menacingly. His Archers were boosted by a very successful Bane Chant, and proceeded to pin cushion my Greatsword Foot Guard and waver them. On the right of the field, his cavalry pivoted towards the middle of the field, and his Hunters of the Wild took the bait, eviscerating my Bowmen and easily Routing them.

Turn 3: Some traps are sprung... and more traps are set.
My left flank bravely... shuffled around Turn 3, offering up the Troop of Pole Arms while the Regiments of Foot Guard and Shield Wall remained out of charge range. Both Ballistae, with clear firing lanes to the Stormwind Cavalry on my right fired, and both missed. Boxed in, the Scouts twiddled their thumbs while my Pole Arms hacked away the Hunters of the Wild, and overran 5 inches, to get out of the charge arc of that lucky Stormwind Troop…

End of Turn 4... I find I've actually lost a fair amount of soldiers...
Turn 4 saw his Stormwind Troop and Palace Guard Regiment combo-charge my Pole Arm Troop, and Rout them easily. His Ballista fired at the foolhardy Troop of Footguard and Routed them. Bane Chant failed to land on the Archers, but they still slipped a few wounds onto my Shield Wall Regiment on my left.  His Stormwind Cavalry nearer to the center-right of the field charged (and Routed) my screening Pole Arm Troop, and overran towards the Shield Wall. Unfortunately, this move put them out of range/arc of my Scouts... (I was hoping to flank charge the Stormwind in my turn.. in conjunction with a front-charge from my Shield Wall, I liked my chances…)

My left isn’t doing as well as I hoped, though I don't think I should have been so aggressive. I was really hoping his Cavalry would arrive first, and I could deal with his stuff one-thing-at-a-time… but my opponent was crafty and I think I moved up too much. I weigh my options, and toy with the idea of individually charging his two Troops with my Regiments… but without Crushing Strength, I don’t particularly like my odds. I instead opt to combo charge his Regiment with mine, hoping the weight of my numbers will win the day, and let me try to weather the attacks of his Troops later. I am lucky, and manage to rout his Regiment, and swivel to accept front charges from his Troops.

On my right.. I get greedy, and move stuff up. I think I would have been better served by taking this turn to reposition, and aim to swing back towards the center and deal with the rest of his army?

In the center, my Shield Wall charges the Stormwind Cavalry, and slips a few wounds through, Disordering them and removing Thunderous Charge. Huzzah! My Ballistae both fire; one against his Ballista, and one against the Archers… and both miss. That is… unfortunate. Untouched, his shooting is free to injure those Troops on my right....

End of Turn 5. The ASB charged in too, though I forgot to roll his attack.
...And they do. Turn 6, the Pole Arms are blasted away. His disorder Stormwing Cavalry charge my Shield Wall, and only slip two wounds through. On the left of the field, his Troops Charge my Regiments. I am liking my odds… but the Elves do a fair amount of damage due to some clutch Elite re-rolls. The Shield Wall waver, and as one, the unit takes a collective step back, and looks over their shoulder at the Army Standard Bearer, who nods sternly. The Shield Wall re-evaluate their situation… and promptly flee the field. (The re-roll forced by Very Inspiring was higher! Argh.) (EDIT: It was pointed out that that's not how inspiring works; rerolls only happen for Rout results.)

End of Turn 6.... Shield Wall! Where are you going?? They were half your number!
Turn 7 my Foot Guard throw themselves at the Stormwind Cavalry, and deal a few wounds. The Army Standard Bearer scrambles to get out of the way. The Shield Wall charge the other unit of Stormwind, and rout them. I decide to gingerly move my Scouts over the obstacle, and into range of the elf Ballista.

The Ballista on the left becomes my favorite, hitting the Palace Guard, dealing a fair amount of wounds, and routing them. The Ballista on my right misses its shot on the enemy Ballista, but the Scouts are able to shoot and rout it.

Turn 7: The Revengening!

Turn 8, his Stormwind Cavalry charge my Eccentric Foot Guard, roll and despite another Very Inspired re-roll, rout them. The Archers shoot at my Scouts, and waver them. Ugh.

End of Turn 8: Well... shucks. 
Turn 9… my biggest conundrum T7, oddly enough, was what to do with the ASB. Should I charge the Stormwind? Pray I hit with my attack and then roll well for the Nerve Check? Do I try to roadblock with them him? They’d be tied up for a turn… or do I charge headlong at the Archers, in an effort to Disorder them? I probably should have done the second option, but I went with the third…

My left Ballista takes a shot at the impending doom that is that Stormwind Cavalry Troop… and missed. The one on the right moved towards the nearest objective. (I think I was hoping for a lucky Ballista shot to deal with the Cavalry; I should have pivoted the Ballista on the right more. I could still move up to claim the objective next turn.. but could have also threatened a final shot at the Cavalry. I should not have assumed Lefty was going to get in good shots back-to-back.)

The Shield Wall measure distances, find can’t claim both objectives, and take the one further away.
Go get 'em Mr. Army Standard Bearer. I won't tell you how dumb this idea is.

Turn 10, the Stormwind Cavalry destroy the Ballista, and the Scouts are put out of their weak-kneed misery.

Turn 11, my last Ballista moves in to redirect while my Shield Wall prepare for a final charge. My maniac of an ASB makes it to the Archers, but fails to hit with his one attack. In his defense, he's still lugging around a huge flag and looking cool.

Turn 11... and it's looking like another loss.
In Turn 12, the last Ballista falls. The Cavalry can claim that objective marker, and the Archers smartly move to claim another instead of messing around with my ASB. My only remaining unit claims a marker, lining me up for a 2-1 loss…

…but the game goes on! I like this "potential extra turn" mechanic... though my opponent definitely outplayed these last few turns.

My Shield Wall charge the Stormwind Cavalry and rout them. The ASB charges, swings mightily and actually hurts the Archers with his single attack. (They shrug it off.) On his last turn, my opponent retaliates with his Archers, wavering my ASB.

End of the bonus turn; end of the game. The cavalry on the hill aren't really there.
So... I luck out, and the game ends in a tie, with the Regiment of Archers claiming one objective for the elves, and the Regiment of Shield wall claiming one for the Kingdoms of Men… the only two things on the field that can still claim objectives...

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Miscellaneous Update

Zeno's Greatsword Foot Guard are nearing completion... but sadly not quite there yet. I went to do the last bits and glue the last models together... and found my paint pot of pinkish skin dry, so I wasn't able to finish off the last 10 models. Ugh. These guys are aptly named; this project just won't end... I plan on picking up another pot of paint tomorrow...and I'll hopefully get them finished up yet this week. 

Once I get those 6 Troops done (plus a few spare models for Banners, in case I want to run them as a Horde or a few Regiments), the majority of my GW transition projects will be done. Still in the pipeline are:

3 Troops of Crossbowmen (just need to paint up the leader new models and multi-base)
1 Regiment of Pikemen (finish painting and multi-base)
1 Regiment of Pole Arms (repaint and multi-base)
1 Troop of Pole Arms (everything)

With the exception of the Pole Arms units, I think these should all go pretty quick. We'll see though...

In addition to hobbying, I lucked out and found a game tomorrow; against my dastardly, elf-playing friend. We're going to do one more "free-rules only" game, and then start increasing the points for our future games. It's a busy week coming up, but a BR on the game will be posted by the end of the week. I'll probably run a similar list to my OCD MSU, though I think my new Eccentric Foot Guard might replace the Pikes for this game.

Initially, I finished them, and was a little dismayed. They're just incongruous models. They are not GW, so they don't fit with what I have, and not Roman, so they don't really fit with where I wanted to go. I could fit them in, but did I want to?

When I was putting them on the shelf, a fluffy thought hit me.

Now, I typically have shied away from developing fluff with named characters. I nearly did some with my old Daemon Princes, as they often survived battles, but for my Empire characters, I just didn't see the point. I couldn't suspend my disbelief that Wally the Wizard could survive from battle-to-battle when he was killed in literally every game.

However, in Kings of War, units aren't slain, they are routed. That tiny linguistic change was enough to kickstart something in my noggin. And I looked at my Eccentric Foot Guard, and their tiny bodies were explained via fluff...

You see that unit leader? Well she took up sword and shield to defend her provincial town from some heinous threat. She saved some provincial youths, who have sworn to follow and defend her in repayment for their lives. Their youthful vigor and protective zeal compensate for their lack of experience and tiny stature, and make them an equal to any other unit of Foot Guard in the Regnum Aeternum. As she travels, fighting, there will always be adventurous young people flocking to her causes.

......I didn't say it was great fluff. But it's a baby step in the right direction. That story isn't something I will be sharing with my opponent, but it does make me like the models a bit more... and thus more likely to field them. I haven't had a game really really stir up this particular aspect of the hobby before. It's pretty cool.