Thursday, 23 September 2021

Progress on the Thrainites

The Thrainite force is slowly but steadily coming together. Organization has been decided, the first units painted, and the rest are slowly being finished one model at a time. This is where things stand;

So a company sized formation, consisting of two platoons of Nobles in power armor, two platoons of Lething rifles, a company commander in power armor, a mortar unit, and two Siler super-heavy tanks. The noble units (which I'm thinking of naming 'the Stoneguard') are finished, as are the two tanks. The lethings and mortars are base-coated and being worked on. 

Side Projects

Other things I've been working on since I've been back include an ocean table, which I think has come out quite nicely.

This was exceedingly simple to do, just a few coats of blue poster paint followed by a few layers of gloss varnish. The light blue area in the center was an accident, but I like how it came out - I spilled some water on the dark blue while it was drying, which washed it out. This table was intended for either Dystopian Wars (models in the picture) or maybe some modern/WW2 naval games. But a friend recently sold me some old GW Man'O'War stuff - the joys of happy coincidences!

Last minor side-project is some dangerous terrain hexes for Warhammer: Underworld.

I'm planning on one each of green "acid" and red/orange "lava". Very simple, just a piece of balsa cut to shape, some spackle/polyfiller to texture the edges, and I'll use the same gloss varnish technique as the ocean table to give them a sheen.

Friday, 20 August 2021

Space Dwarves

 My visa finally came through, meaning I was able to return to the US. And waiting for me were a bunch of models that I had ordered way back when I thought I would be returning in April. These are 15mm scale minis from Khurasan, and are for my two latest Sierra Foxtrot armies - the Astrodani and the Thrainites. 

For no particular reason I decided to start with the Thrainites first. For this "Space Dwarf" force the plan was to assemble them as essentially a mechanized infantry company. 

I thought I had ordered enough infantry for two platoons, but it looks like I may be short. Oh well, worst case scenario I have to place another order. 

However depending on how I decide to stat things out I may not need another infantry platoon. The APCs I'm using (the Cane Toad) is a bit larger than I was expecting. Because of this I'm thinking of giving them much heavier armor than normal APCs. 

And speaking of vehicles being larger than expected... the Siler heavy tank is an absolute beast! The original plan was to have a platoon of these guys supporting the force, but it's just so big I think I'm going to field them as individual vehicles with a stat-line on par with the mechs in other forces. 

Size comparison of some of my Sierra Foxtrot units

So all in all, a good start for the Thrainites. I've definitely got plenty of APCs, so it's just a matter of assembling the infantry and deciding how to organize the units. 

Monday, 2 August 2021

Space Battles and Scenery

 Last Sunday evening I went round to my friend Jamie's place to try out the Babylon 5 fleet action game A Call to Arms. Jamie supplied all the units and terrain, including an absolutely stunning nebula battlemap. 

I was commanding an Earthforce fleet of 5 units;

  • 2 Omega Class Destroyers
  • 2 Hyperion Class Heavy Cruisers (one with beam armament)
  • 1 Nova Class Destroyer
Against this Jamie had an "Army of Light" force consisting of two White Stars, a Brakiri cruiser, a Narn cruiser, and a Drazi Warhawk.

Jamie deployed his fleet as a single group in the center of his half. I split my force into two elements, with both Omega's and the beam armed Hyperion on my left, and the Nova and other Hyperion in the center.

It's fair to say the battle didn't go well for me. Partially this was due to learning the rules (and in particular the way boresighting works for beam weapons, which were a big chunk of the offensive power of my force). By about turn 3 or 4 Jamie had knocked out a Hyperion and an Omega, with a second Hyperion barely intact. After the second Hyperion was knocked out the ravaged Earthforce fleet withdrew. 

In other gaming projects, Vaughan's 3D printer has been getting more of a workout, creating some blocked hexes for Warhammer: Underworlds, and some 15mm scale sci-fi terrain. 

The 15mm scale buildings I'm particularly happy with. It came out looking excellent, and Vaughan has printed a couple more for me. These will fill out my 15mm terrain collection very nicely, and I cannot wait to pose some of my Sierra Foxtrot armies amongst these.

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Venturing into the Underworld

 Recently my brother introduced me to Warhammer: Underworlds. I've been basically out of the GW scene for a long time (for all the usual reasons), but I do keep half an eye on their new releases. And in particular any mini-games involving small numbers of models (Necromunda, Kill Team, and such) could potentially temp me to give them a go. Underworlds is in that category. 

After playing a couple of games using Vaughan's minis, I picked up the Starblood Stalkers lizardman warband. After these were painted I was left without any projects on the go, so on a whim I picked up both the Direchasm starter box (which comes with the Myari's Purifiers and Dread Pageant warbands) and the Morgweath's Blade-Coven witch-elf warband. These have all now been assembled and basecoated. 

Blade-Coven Warband

Dread Pageant Warband

Myari's Purifiers Warband

These guys, along with a few terrain pieces Vaughan 3D printed for me, are my current works in progress. 

Yesterday afternoon Vaughan and I played a game of Underworld, with me using the Starblood Stalkers (since they're my only painted warband) and Vaughan using the Magore's Fiends warband. My warband consisted of five Skinks and a Saurus Old-One, and Vaughan's had three Chaos Warriors and a Khorne Hound. 

For a change of pace, we set up the two boards lengthwise. In hindsight I think this benefitted me, since my units had both higher movement and better ranged attacks than Vaughan's.

With me having deployed a few hexes back, Vaughan had no option for his first round activations but to move and/or charge forward. Since the separation between most of our models was a hex or two greater than his movement, the units ended up just short. This let my lizards choose the engagement, firing off ranged attacks or charging in when it was advantageous. 

This was still very much a learning game, with much looking up rules and (at least on my part) deliberately avoiding cards that included rules keywords I didn't want to take the time to look up just yet. 

Which actually segues into another comment - Underworlds is very much a hybrid, being part miniature wargame, part board game, and part card game. Deck building is supposed to be a significant part of the strategy of the game. Now I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'm typically not a fan of Magic-style trading card games... but a large part of my objection to these is due to the "collectable" business model of which cards are in a pack being random. Effectively gambling directly aimed at young-people. 

Underworld doesn't have this - the cards that come with a particular product are fixed. The cards are somewhat used to incentivize buying (for example, if you play warband X but a power card you want only comes in the warband Y expansion) but at least it's not random. And while deck-building is part of the strategy of the game, it's not as central as it is in Magic, or even in Warmachine / Warcaster. So even as somebody not a fan of card games, I think I can enjoy Underworld despite the modest card-element.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Current Projects - June 2021

Had last week off work as a "staycation". As such I had a fair amount of free time, so I finished off pretty much all of the models I currently have with me. 

First up, the Ohmu that Vaughan printed; 

I went with the desert tan colour rather than the original dark green because I have thoughts of including this guy into the Zhaleed Empire force for Sierra Foxtrot. Went with blue eyes because that was the best colour I had paints available for at the time, and it goes well with the tan. 

Next project, the Starblood Stalkers lizardman team for Warhammer Underworld; 

I had played a few games of Underworld against Vaughan, and quite liked it. It's a neat little low time-investment game, with some cool looking models. The Starblood's were on my short-list of teams I was considering, and they happened to be in stock at the local gaming store.

Lastly, I finally finished off the Astrodani vehicles my brother printed for me. The blocker for these guys had been finding a good way to shade/highlight the bright yellow, and I finally found a method an acceptable method - basecoast, black wash, touch up the yellow, then drybrush with a cream colour. 

The complete Astrodani war-host

Hobogoblin IFVs

Sylph AA Vehicles

Ifrit Rocket Artillery

So this gives me 7 infantry transports (two platoons of 3, plus a command vehicle), a pair of AA vehicles, and a rocket artillery battery of 3. The infantry to go with this force have been received at a friends place in Madison, so once I get back it should be pretty quick to get this force completed. 

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Progress on the Astrodani

Being still in New Zealand I've been limited on what wargaming projects I can make progress on. But one that I can work on (at least a bit) is the Astrodani for Sierra Foxtrox. A burst of enthusiasm has seen the infantry transports, AA vehicles, and rocket artillery mostly base-coated; 

So just most of the black segments and washing/drybrushing still to do. Then all I need is the infantry models to go with them. Which nicely segues to...

Projects Waiting At Home

Trying to look on the bright side of things, when I finally do get home there will be two complete armies waiting for me - a mechanized infantry company of Thrainites (Space Dwarves) and the remaining Astrodani units. 

As an aside here, I owe a huge thanks to Khurasan Miniatures. Despite the order being returned unclaimed not once, but twice (the neighbor I gave as an alternate address moved out at exactly the wrong time) they still contacted me both times to ensure I received it. 

I've ordered a mix of different Thrainite infantry models - base infantry, heavy weapons, command units, and (if I remember my order correctly) some of their nobles in power-armor, along with enough transports for them all; 

As an aside, the Thrainite list is one of the few where I am using the models with the same backstory (or pretty close) to that provided by the manufacturer. With most of my 15mm sci-fi armies I've just been mixing and matching whatever models I think look cool and/or fit a concept I've come up with. The name and background fluff  given by the manufacturer I seldom use. But in the case of the Thrainites, the Khurasan fluff is pretty close to what I was going to go with anyway - originally a human colony, but became isolated, and conveniently evolved into Space Dwarves. I've changed how they became isolated to fit the history of my sci-fi universe, but left them otherwise unchanged. 

Other Gaming Stuff

While I haven't been able to paint many models while in New Zealand, the lack of COVID restrictions has meant I've been able to get in far more in-person gaming than I did during the whole of 2020. Last weekend my brother and had another Dreadball match, this time my Nameless versus the Kalyshi.

Another fairly close game (hence why just the one picture, I was concentrating too hard on tactics and forgot to take more). Vaughan got an early lead and never gave it up. I put four guards on the table and played fairly defensively, but Vaughan did a decent job of carefully picking the defense apart. In particular the Undulan/Sticky guards proved to be very vulnerable to Slams from behind... especially against the Kalyshi Backstab ability. 

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Sports Events Man Was Not Meant to Know

 My brother and I had another game of Dreadball this afternoon. For a change of pace we were both using the "Nameless" team. Gibbering tentacled monstrosities... that for some reason want to play a sports game and not eat the ref. 

This was our first like versus like game. Despite the distinctive concept, rules-wise the Nameless are mostly a fairly vanilla team. The default team is 4 Strikers, 4 Guards, with the Guards distinguished between the Feromite (AKA "Crunchy Guards") and Undalan (AKA "Sticky Guards"). The Strikers are move 6 with no special rules, the Crunchy guards are Strength 3+ and have the Steady rule. So both can perform their roles, but neither is particularly remarkable. But what really makes the Nameless team distinctive is the Undalan/Sticky guards.

With just Strength 4+ the Sticky guards aren't that imposing. But their key advantage is their special threat rules. First, they threaten not just the three hexes immediately in front of them, but the next layer of hexes beyond that as well (i.e they effectively have reach). Second, if they threaten an opposing player, it's not just -1 die, its automatically -2. Used well, this ability can be a massive edge.

For our initial on-field players I went with 3 strikers, 2 crunchy guard , and 1 sticky guard. Vaughan went with 2 of each. 

Compared with our previous games using the Vyr-Meen and Kalyashi (both high speed, offense-focused teams) this game went at a slower pace. During my first rush I picked up the ball, one of my Steady guards fell over trying to evade... and that was about it. Thankfully Vaughan's first rush didn't do much better, so with possession at the start of my 2nd rush I scored for 3 points.


With his next rush Vaughan responded by absolutely pounding my sticky guard into the arena floor - with a 7 success Slam versus 1 success Dodge, that guy/thing was a sticky pile of goo. With him having two sticky guards on the field to me having none (and with Vaughan having just demonstrated how good they can be) I wasn't feeling great about things. Thankfully a very lucky scatter put the ball nicely in reach of the striker who scored the first time, and he/it put in another three points. 

With a six point lead the game was mine to lose. But then Vaughan replied with a 3 point strike of his own, and I brought my reserve sticky guard out from the subs bench to even things up.

However scoring that 3-pointer had put Vaughan's players out of position. With essentially no opposing players in their half, one of my strikers simply picked up the ball, doubled for a free Run action. One free action from a card and not fluffing a strike roll later, and it was game to me.

Overall I like the Nameless team. They aren't too extreme, but the Undalan/Sticky guards just make them that little bit different to run and to play against. And the models are cool. I could see using these as Cthuloid monsters in a sci-fi or modern investigative RPG campaign.