Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hobby Update: Halfling Army

The Halflings are ready for the table! ...Though I have no idea when that will be. Scheduling games has basically been impossible this year. Before I dive into my thoughts on the introductory list, or my early impressions of Halfling strategy, here is the little expeditionary force!

Ready to kick some shins.
The mounted Standard Bearer needs a standard still, and a few touchups are needed, as well as "edging" the bases, but this is close enough. I'm really impressed with how much life the shrubs give the bases. I think I'll need to add a few plants to the Regnum's bases now.

All of the models (with the exception of the volley gun) are from HaT, purchased via a third-party online retailer. Models at this 1/72 scale are much, much cheaper than the 28mm scale used in Kings of War. I spent $80, and got enough minis to hit 2000 points easily. (In addition to the finished models here, I have about 500 points of regiments (spears, archers and more knights), and 600 points of troop-level support in numerous Halfling Scouts and a few mounted Ranger units. Additionally, I have spare models for heroes, and even a few siege sprues which I could convert into more volley guns.) The point I'd like to make is, if you want to pick up some halflings, and avoid the "second breakfast" or dopier themes associated with them, check out models at 1/72 mm!

Overall, the League of Rhodia looks to play similarly to the Kingdoms of Men, utilizing options such as knights, gunpowder and a variety of infantry units. In addition to those basic tools, the League also has the Halflings to serve as both specialists (war machines, Scouts and Rangers) and as cheap (and Stealthy!) anvils/tar pits/cannon fodder (the Halfling Braves, Spears, etc).

Whenever they hit the table, here is what I'll be fielding. Halflings-only is a bit of a challenge, as the tiny humanoids are a little under-powered. Nothing has Crushing Strength; the sorcerer can't pick up Bane-Chant; the Knights only have Thunderous Charge 1. Potentially, the knights could do some damage if they get the charge... but the most dangerous thing in the list is the Volley Gun... provided I can position it and then protect it well enough for it to shoot a few times.

The list has a good number of drops for the points level, so I should have plenty of options in the movement phase. The Nerve on the units isn't great, so long grindy fights will do me in. However, if the knights get some charges and the volley gun is protected long enough, I think I have decent chances at winning.

I think the army will be a good introduction for other players to play against. While I think I can win, I think it will be an uphill battle, and I'm fine with that. The Halflings don't really have chaff, or hard-hitting units to rely on, so smart deployment and tactics, and superior numbers will be needed to carry the day.

I am also really interested in seeing how the sorcerer performs. Wind Blast is something I have yet to encounter personally. At first glance the spell looks really underwhelming, and used by itself, I think that's a fair assessment. Woowee, I can reverse Shamble you. I think the strength of the spell lies in combining it with clever movement phases. Hopefully having the Halfling Sorcerer mounted, and a good number of drops will help me discover some uses for Wind Blast. If I uncover anything interesting, you'll see it in the battle report!

We'll see when these hit the table. In the meantime, I still have a lot of things to hobby on. Back to work for now, and I'll have some more WIP things up soon!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hobby WIP: KoM Knights and... Halflings

One of my goals with the Kingdom of Men was to get away from my old Games Workshop models and explore other ranges. Eventually I wanted to field a totally different army than the one I started with back when this blog started. I really dug the Warlord Games Romans, and started reshaping and replacing my army with more Roman-style minis. While the infantry were easy to replace, one perpetual stumbling block were the Knights.

I wanted to field some kind of cataphract-looking model, but was having no luck finding something that looked right. The closest I got for months and months were these guys, which I decided to buy on a gamble. They were really close to what I wanted, but were at 1/72 scale. The other Roman minis were small... but ultimately not that small. Teeny tiny knights were not an option for the Kingdoms of Men.

For better or for worse, these smaller models did catch my interest though, and browsing online, I discovered that this scale of miniature is quite cheap; way under a dollar per model. For some reason, "cheap" was enough to convince me to buy more models, with an eye to making up a small (ba-dum-tss) halfling-themed army, which I have been slowly hobbying on since May.

I have no real desire to play the League, but I figured they would be nice to have for intro games; something simple and underpowered for my opponent to beat up on for a few games in order to learn. I typically like being the underdog in most of my endeavors, so it would make those intro games fun for me as well.

They were supposed to be done quickly... but having started on them mid-May, that obviously didn't work out as intended. The low low cost is really the only thing the models have going for them. The plastic is really soft, making removing mold lines or and any customization really hard to do, as things just give way. I basically gave up on cleaning the mold lines, as filing and scraping did nothing, and I wasn't about to patiently use a knife on all these models.

Additionally, I had a self-inflicted wound of trying to show their halfling-ness by giving them furry feet. That has eaten up a lot of time, and honestly doesn't look the most inspiring. In real life it looks a tiny bit better, but they still look like they are wearing furry snow boots.

I have a plan for 750 points, and its relatively close to completion. There is a lot of paint on the models, but there is a lot of basing work left to do, since they all have little stands as part of the model. The models furthest along at the Halfling Knights, using the original cataphract models.

Now they just need to switch out their greaves for apple-bottom jeans...

These were the easiest to work with of all the halfling models, but still not fun to hobby on. About half of their hand holes were too small to fit the spears, requiring a lot of drilling... which was no small feat with the bendy, giving plastic. A further issue was they were were only 4 poses to work with... a common issue with this army. The units of this army will all be afflicted with "same-model-syndrome." Oh well. If worst comes to worst, they will just demonstrate to new players that "table-top standard" is not an impossible goal to reach... from a distance, I think it will look like a decent army.

Also on my hobby table, are actual knights for the Kingdoms of Men. After a few months of searching, these were the best I could find, so I ordered two boxes... which may prove to be a bit of overkill.

I really like the expression of this white horse. It looks thoroughly unimpressed.
Each box has 15 models, plus a dinky casualty model, which I may have to find a use for eventually. So, that's 30 usable knights. The plan for the real models is for 4 troops of 4, and 2 regiments of 7. I'm going to focus on the troops first, and so far have most of the bits for those clipped and filed. More to come on these later, but work on them should go swiftly I think. The plastic is good and the models are really simple, which should speed up painting.

I think I can finish up the Halflings within a week, and then it'll be on to these knights and other fun things. Hopefully the halfling army post will be up soon!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Hobby Update: Herd Army

I was able to put some work into the Herd units recently. While I may fiddle with them down the line... for now they are all done and officially ready for the table.

A few models got some painting touchups, but the majority of the work was done with the bases. I applied gobs of the snow mixture (Elmer's Glue, baking soda, and white acrylic paint) to the bases to try to get a deeper snowdrift effect going on. Then I found Army Painters's grass tufts, and went with the Frozen scheme. Those add a lot to the bases I think, and require very little effort. Might have to pick up some more... Anyways, here are the Herd units finished so far.

The Beast Packs

Two Longhorn Troops (Three to go)

Tribal Hunters

Guardian Brutes
So there they are! The Herd is off to a pretty good start.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Battle 11: Varangur vs Herd (Intro Game)

After a pretty successful introduction to wargaming, we switched up the terrain a bit, and prepared for a rematch, using the same lists. We simultaneously “deployed” both armies, and then tweaked the Herd a little bit after chatting. I went for an oblique deployment with the weaker Warband in the center.

Again, the Hunters use their Vanguard move pretty aggressively.
My opponent decided to go wide. The Longhorns, Hunters, and Centaur Chieftain went on my left, hoping to use the forests as cover and then hit me in my flanks as I advanced across the board. Like before, the Brutes deployed to threaten the more open center, while the Beast Pack lingered nearby. The Hunters again opted to use their Vanguard move, and we rolled off. My opponent won, and she decided to go first again.

Turn 1: Herd

Everything moved up, with the Longhorns being a little more aggressive than the Brutes. The Hunters take a potshot at the Bloodsworn, but miss.

Turn 2: Varangur

I reform my Bloodsworn and mounted troop to face the oncoming threats in the woods.

Minor adjustment to the Varangur line.
I had learned my lesson from Game 1. The Herd are quite speedy, and at such a low points level with fewer units… I needed to play defensively.

Turn 3: Herd

The Hunters again take aim at the Bloodsworn, but again miss. My opponent, realizing I am not going to waltz out into the middle of the field and get slaughtered, continues her advance in the hopes of bringing the fight to me.

The impatient Herd approacheth.
The Brutes continue to move up. Probably too far, as they entered charge range of all of my guys. Instead of advancing along with the Brutes, and screening them from harm, the Beast Packs uses its Nimble abilities to reposition, and the rest of the Herd sticks to the trees. My opponent really liked the speed of the Beasts, and wanted to see what they could do, besides being chaff. In my view, this was a mistake. They should have screened the Brutes from the murderous regiment of Mounted Sons.

Turn 4: Varangur

The Bloodsworn advance a bit to threaten the woods, while the rest of the Varangur piles into the brazen Guardian Brutes, with the Skaald skulking around for moral support.

My mounted regiment slams into the first group of Brutes, and routs them, even with the Brutes being inspired. The mounted troop and Warband attack the other group of Brutes, with the troop doing a fantastic 7 damage and the Warband doing 0. The second group of Brutes are "merely" Wavered.

C'mon Warband.
It was a pretty solid turn for me. If the Warband had contributed, I probably could have wiped out both Brute units.

Turn 5: Herd

As my opponent starts her turn, she begins to understand and appreciate the role of sacrificial chaff units, like the Beast Pack, which now charges over attempting to delay the dangerous regiment of Mounted Sons. The vicious beasts manage to deal a wound to the evil knights, disordering them.

The Centaur Chieftain moves to both get out of the way and to inspire the rest of the army, and the Hunters finally get a wound on the regiment of Bloodsworn.

The Herd launch a counterattack.
Unfortunately, I forget that the Brutes have the Fury special rule, so instead of counter-charging say, the Warband, they merely shuffle sideways, allowing the two units of Tribal Longhorns to utilize their Pathfinding abilities, and crash into the troop of Mounted Sons.

The counterattack was successful!

Like last game, the troop of Mounted Sons are obliterated. The victorious Longhorns reform. Points-wise, I probably should have protected them better both games, but what's done is done. My Varangur army doesn't have a lot of chaff, unfortunately.

Turn 6: Varangur

The Regiment of Mounted Sons attack the Beast Pack, and even disordered, manage to destroy them when it comes time to test their nerve. The Warband charges the Brutes, and this time, manages to deal some damage. Likewise, the Bloodsworn attack one of the Tribal Longhorns, and deal a few wounds. The damage was lower than I wanted, but it's still damage. Even outnumbered, I think the tanky Bloodsworn are well positioned now for grinding out the Longhorns and Hunters.

The Warband's damage roll is the purple dice. They did something!
With the melees finished, we move on to checking the Nerve of the wounded Herd units. The Beast Pack took a massive amount of damage, and are easily routed. Only snake eyes could have saved them.

I move on down the line. Boxcars for the Brutes, and boxcars on the inspired reroll. They are totally doomed.

Then, onto the Tribal Longhorns. Boxcars on the wounded Longhorns, and… another boxcars on the inspired reroll!

Pictured: the fourth double-six in a row.
I felt like all the luck I had ever accrued in all my dice rolling in any game had coalesced into these four, hugely triumphant, but also largely insignificant rolls. Ooof. We decided to call it quits here. It was the Herd's turn to be in a very rough spot now, and the Dice Gods obviously wanted this game to be over.

The rematch was also a good game, but I wish I had caught omitting the Fury special rule before writing up this report. Oops. The game would almost definitely been prolonged if they had counter charged, but my Mounted Sons could have probably still carried the day.

Introducing a brand new player to wargaming was pretty cool. Everyone else I have played with previously had some experience, even if it was not recent. For a brand-new player, I think the DM approach of just keeping the game moving and not sweating all the details worked well. The goal with a new player is to pique their interest; not drown them in rules and detail. The finer points can come later, if they want to explore the game.

I think 750 was a good points level to play at, and I think 750-1000 is the sweet spot for introducing the game to people. It's small enough for people to mentally track their units and get familiar with them, but large enough that a bad roll or two is mitigated. These games were particularly short, and I think part of that was due to the smaller table. If you're introducing an army with more ranged options, I'd suggest upping the table to a more normal 4' by 4', or the shooter will likely be overwhelmed.

I had a lot of fun getting back to the table, and while this wasn't her usual gaming endeavor, my opponent had fun, and we'll probably get another game in soon. T
hanks for reading!

Battle 10: Varangur vs Herd (Intro Game)

My girlfriend was kind enough to humor me, and agreed to give Kings of War a try. She'd never played a tabletop war game before, but she liked how the Herd looked, and the swarm approach I was aiming for with the army seemed to fit her "W+M1" approach to most of her gaming. The army isn't finished, but after some work on the Tribal Longhorns last week, was "close enough" to being table ready.

The endeavor was going to be a bit of a challenge. This was her first ever war game, and I was going to be rusty on some of the rules, having only played one game in the last 6 months or so myself. I decided to try and simplify as much as possible. That meant:
  • Smaller lists - we played at 750 points 
  • Tiny table - we didn't have much space at the shop, and played on a 3' by 3' board, with deployment zones only 10" deep.
  • Simple terrain - no big LOS blockers, tall hills, or fences, but enough to try and take advantage of the Herd's special army rule (Pathfinders)
  • I'd handle all the deployments, and cede the first turn to my opponent.
Additionally, I didn't want to make her read a rule book beforehand, so I put on my "Dungeon Master Hat", and decided I would just handle game mechanics and special rules as they came up in game. That seemed to work pretty well, and the game moved along pretty quick. My opponent played the following:

I want my Herd to be numerous, and this list is a good starting point for the army. The Beast Pack is good chaff; the Brutes can hold the line; and the Longhorns can deal the damage. And then the Hunters and Centaur Chief can play support as needed.

For my own army, I decided to field some Varangur, rather than the Regnum. I like my Kingdoms of Men, but they need to win through combined arms and tactics... and I felt that a brand new player facing that would lead to a bad experience. The Varangur seemed like an obstacle that would be easier for a new player to understand and overcome.

I ended up fielding a pretty concentrated list with them, with a very dangerous regiment of Mounted Sons as the chief threat. I hadn't given much thought yet to Gifts for the Varangur, but know Headstrong/Fury is popular... so to be a contrarian, I decided to take Lifeleech on on the big mounted Regiment.

Both armies are arctic themed in some way, so I obviously chose lots of green for the terrain, including a big lush jungle fern thing. Oh well. I guess they were all on summer vacation or something... Deployment looked like this:

Yep, that's a tiny table alright.
I didn't give much thought to the Varangur deployment, aside from putting the Warband forward. I wanted to see how it served as a small tar pit.

The Herd got most of my deployment attention. The Brutes took the center, hoping to secure the open spaces since they lack Pathfinders. The Beast Pack screened the Tribal Longhorns, who I expected would scream up that side of the table, and try to roll up my flank.

After explaining Vanguard, my opponent decided to move the Hunters up into the forest, and then we were on to Turn 1.

Turn 1: Herd

After briefly explaining the move phase, she opted for a cautious advance. The Guardian Brutes shuffled forward, with the Centaur Chieftain in tow. The Beast Pack advanced just into charge range of my Mounted Sons Troop. One troop of Tribal Longhorns hung back to support the dogs, like I anticipated, but she decided to have the other start moving over to the other flank, and support the Tribal Hunters, which after their Vanguard move, she felt were exposed and threatened. The Hunters apparently didn’t feel that was though, and rolled enough to slip two wounds through on the Warband.

My Skaald. The laziest source of Inspiring I have seen to date.
Wheeling units seemed to be more intuitive for my opponent than pivots, and given the small board, I had opted to not cover it with a 6’ x 6’ felt covering, so the MDF bases slipped at the slightest provocation. So, please excuse the glare from the lights, and any accidental swivels. With my “DM Hat” on, my goal was to not sweat the small stuff, and keep things moving.
Turn 2: Varangur

My center scooched forward while the Warband charged into the Hunters hiding in the woods. Even hindered, I thought I may be able to slip enough wounds through to Rout the unit, and create a good dilemma for my opponent on the following turn. Unfortunately, I was vastly overestimating their abilities. They only managed to slip a single wound in, and I rolled double 1’s for their Nerve check just to be sure. They stuck around.

On my left, I decided to be bold as well, and the troop of Mounted Sons slammed into the Beast pack, dishing out 9 wounds and destroying them. This was my first game with the Varangur, and man, these knights are no joke. Victorious, they scootched back 3”. When only the Beast Pack was Routed, my hope was that my opponent would commit both the Tribal Longhorns and Guardian Brutes to fighting them next turn. I would lose them, but hopefully have enough time to deal with everything else.

You'd think the Warband would have done a little better. I mean, there are like, twice as many guys!
Turn 3: Herd

Surveying the board, my opponent trampled my hopes, and opted for a simple move phase, charging everything she could. The Brutes charged the Bloodsworn and Mounted Sons regiments, later dealing some good damage, but not besting either unit. On my left, the Tribal Longhorns charged the troop of Mounted Sons to avenge their Beasts, dealing 3 wounds and eventually Wavering them. Oopsies.

The good-for-nothing Warband is vanquished.
With those easy moves done, my opponent charged the Warband with the Tribal Hunters, and then we agreed that the second unit of Longhorns could probably get into the side of the Warband too. So, she got to learn about flank charges, and long story short, the Warband was annihilated. The Hunters backed away and the Longhorns reformed.

Turn 4: Varangur

I was in a bit of a bad spot. The troop of Mounted Sons on my left were as good as gone being Wavered, and while I had a slight advantage in the center fight with a Higher Nerve value… my guys weren’t going to break through on their own and help wasn't really coming.

With his one attack, my Mounted Skaald moved to take a potshot at the Longhorns threatening my troop. It was an incredibly (statistically) long shot, and did not pan out in any way. No lucky damage or wavering.

My center simply shoved back, and the Bloodsworn and Mounted Sons hacked at the Brutes. When the Nerve Check came, I rolled well, but not well enough. Both were 1 shy of their respectable waver value…

Turn 5: Herd

My opponent goes in for the kill. The Centaur Chieftain and Longhorns descent upon the wavered Mounted Sons and obliterate them. The Brutes go after my center units again, with the second troop of Longhorns joining the fight against my mounted regiment. Both of my units are Wavered.

About an hour had elapsed, so at this point, I concede this game so we could get another game in.

It was a good game, and a great first outing for both the Varangur and Herd. It was fun to see both armies out on the table, and I’m excited to finish these Herd units up. I think they are going to look really good in the end.

I got a little overconfident with the Varangur; committing to combats too early, and once committed, I could not get the upper hand due to a low unit count. I did not expect my opponent to go one-on-one with everything Turn 3, but it really worked out for her. The Brutes can grind pretty well, and have a great edge if they can get the charge… Once everything of mine was engaged, she still had units to spare, and was able to systematically whittle me down for the win.

We switched out some terrain, and were off to a rematch!