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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Star Wars Armada - Precision Strike Tactica

Precision Strike

Only take the objective if you take at least a handful of bombers.

I know I talk a lot in the blog, or at least in this first series of posts, about having a plan to execute, and this time it’s even more important. But your plan for this objective needs to include bombers. The reasoning is as follows: if you play against a Rhymer ball or other bomber list your opponent is going
to score a lot of points. If you can’t reciprocate those points, then you’re most likely going to lose the game. And the reason is this: Precision Strike gives points on a per attack basis, with each attack being able to score twice (once for rolling a crit and once for spending a die to flip a card face up). Fighters with multiple anti-ship batteries and bomber (B-Wings, Scurrgs, Firesprays, etc.) can score 30 points a turn per fighter. Three B-Wing can yield five tokens (75 points) in a perfect round of shooting against a ship without shields. Scoff if you want to, but remember an opponent with a lot of bombers can afford to keep your Gup alive to soak up the extra points.

Therefore, even if you have fighters, make sure you feel confident in your ability to win the fighter battle should it become a ball vs. ball game. Without going into the anatomy of Rhymer balls or other bomber balls, you want to make sure you’ve got some escort or other answer to the opponent’s fighters.

I did toy with the idea of using non-bomber fighters with this objective. The idea was to have the fighters deal few cards at the end of the game turn for the ships to flip face up on the next turn. But much like other combos in Armada, it was an unwieldy mess. Plus, I frequently found myself torn between flipping the card face up and doing one more damage to the ship.

Okay, lets talk about the tokens. They’re nice, but not a good reason to take this objective. Precision Strike is a complicate objective that requires well thought out list building and solid tactics on execute to yield a points advantage. It might be the hardest objective in the game to get right. The token is attractive, but not a game changing decision.

Now, lets talk about upgrades. Not shockingly any upgrade that guarantees a face up damage card is great when playing this objective. The two that spring to mind are Assault Proton Torpedoes and Dodonna’s Pride. Yavaris is a clearly good choice if you’re playing Rebels as it can really amp up the damage.

Because my play style is ship first, I rarely worry about making specific fighter recommendations relative to the objective. But this is the objective Luke Skywalker was born to play. While black dice only have 25% chance to crit, Luke as a good chance to setup a damage card for another squadron or ship to flip over later that turn.

Finally it’s time to consider what commander you want to run with this objective. This objective pairs best with Screed. His ability guarantees several tokens a turn. At 15 points a token, well, your opponent is going to have a lot of issues compensating for all the damage, crit effects, and points.

Dodonna fits well with this objective. Though not as powerful as Screed in terms of synergy, stacking a victory token on top of the best possible crit is pretty mean. Just remember that Dodonna’s ability only affects cards dealt, so it won’t trigger when you spend a die to flip a card face up.

Iblis is out, because you’d lose a token on turn one, which takes away 17% of Garm’s benefit. And Tarkin, is still helpful, but you’re one turn closer to a use it or lose it scenario with your tokens.

Ackbar is tough because his lists tend to focus on more expensive ships and don’t leave much room for bomber runs. That said there is a case to be made for overkill. Ackbar tends to generate a lot of extra damage in the late game, and while there is a one per attack limit, scoring an extra 15 points can help push you from a 7-3 margin of victory to an 8-2. So, you can always take all your overkill and spend it turning over damage cards you dealt last turn. It’s a good way to run up the points total.

This might the only objective that makes Darth Vader a serious candidate for commander. He will let you re-roll blue dice without spending any of them, and therefore gives you a lot of safe chances to re-roll for a crit. That said, you’d have find two other objectives Darth would be good at and you’d have to 36 points. Still mediocre, but I have a soft spot for the Sith lord.

I hope this was somewhat helpful and informative. Until next time—She’s Got Admiral Ackbar Eyes.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Betrayal at Calth Chaplain Conversions

To further answer Stampy's question from earlier, here are some of the conversions people have done with the Chaplain mini from the Betrayal at Calth box.  Most of them are simple head and hand swaps, so nothing complicated.

This last one is the most complex.  Looks like the creator used some of the Tactical Marine legs from the box and some pouches and leather straps (both included in the box) to cover up the join.  Other than that, it's more arm and head swaps.

Answers to a Couple of Questions...

This morning, Stampy wrote...

Hey Kris that contemptor looks awesome! I have 2 questions for you. The marine in the betrayal box set do the arms come already attached to the torso? Second question, where did you find that missile launcher for your dreadnought? Keep up the good work, you have inspired me to finish up my 30k iron warriors army.

This is in regards to the Contemptor Dreadnought I posted earlier today.

The Tactical Marines and Terminators in the Betrayal at Calth kit are fully separate parts.  They're just like any other GW kit you'd get off the shelf.  The Terminator Captain and Chaplain are mono-pose, but in enough parts that you could probably swap out weapons and heads without too much work.

The Contemptor has separate arms and comes with both a Multi-Melta and Kheres Pattern Assault Cannon in addition to the Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon.  The arms are designed to fit any Contemptor, including the resin Forgeworld ones, so if you get a FW body, you can use the spare shooty weapon on it.  The legs are mono-pose, which kind of sucks, but it's not a terrible pose.

I wasn't a big fan of the Cyclone Missile Launcher that Forgeworld sells for the Contemptor kit.  I had seen someone use the Land Speeder Missile Launchers and it looked great.  I had leftovers from a kit I assembled without missiles.  You have to clip a tab off, but otherwise, you just glue them to the top of the Dread's "head".

Hope this helps!

Iron Warriors Contemptor Dreadnought

I got a little bit of a painting bug in me over the weekend and worked on my Contemptor that came with Betrayal at Calth.  It's a pretty simple scheme, but overall I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Painting Class!

I met up with a couple of friends, one of whom is brand new to the hobby, Wednesday night.  We went over some basic techniques, like how to get a proper basecoat, how to drybrush and basic layering/line highlighting.  As a practice mini, our brand new miniature painter worked on an Ultramarine Assault Dude.  We haven't gotten to basing yet, but I think he did a pretty amazing job considering it was his first effort and one of his thumbs is broken!

I thought he did a particularly good job on the plasma pistol.  We went with green coils since it's halfway between the yellow and blue.  Always gotta tie your colors together.

My other buddy painted a model from Descent.  He's always trying to match the art on the cards.  I think he nailed it.  What do you think?  Seriously...  I wish my color perception was good enough to just pick colors like this without a tutorial.

I spent most of the time "teaching" and offering feedback.  All I did was get to practice a little on the sort of reflective edge highlighting that I see every once in awhile.  I like how it turned out, but can't imagine painting a whole army like this.  It's so time consuming.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Iron Warriors "Domitar-Ferrum Class Battle-Automata"

I am SOOOOO glad I picked the Iron Warriors.  This might be the single coolest model that Forgeworld has ever put out.  Seriously.  I love this model.

These things are 205 points each and gain benefits when you have more than one standing next to each other.  In the fluff, they're Perturabo's personal bodyguard unit...  The Iron Circle.  In fact, Forgeworld is more than willing to sell you six of these guys with Perturabo and some transfers/brass bits for the low, low price of 408 GBP, which comes out to around 600 USD.  A little rich for my blood.

I could definitely see adding two of these to an army as bodyguard "twin robots" for the Warlord.  I'll have to wait and see what our Russian friends decide to charge.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Waiting Sucks

Anyone who reads this blog likely knows that I'm a fan of many different games.  This blog started out as a way of keeping myself focused on my hobby projects, but has morphed a little into general thoughts on the hobby and gaming in general.

One of the things I'm terrible at when it comes to gaming is waiting.  We always know that there is a cool new release around the corner, and I hate having to wait.  All the new shinies I want right now come out next week.  Oddly, they all come from the same company...  Fantasy Flight Games.

First up is the Legions of Death Expansion for Warhammer 40k Conquest.  If you haven't given this game a try yet, do so.  The core box is only $40 or so and gives you enough stuff for two players to play.  Not every 40k Faction was represented in the core box.  The Tyranids were added in a previous expansion and the Necrons are added in this one.  The game does a really good job of capturing the "feel" of 40k.  Planets are taken down quickly.  Orks attack en masse.  It's great.

Next up is The Bespin Gambit for Imperial Assault.  I've been playing through a campaign with my friends and am enjoying the game immensely.  This box adds several heroes and a mini campaign, but more importantly for me (playing as the Imperial side), several new open groups of bad guys that I can use to terrorize my Rebel Scum friends!

Last up is a Descent Hero and Monster Collection.  My buddy is a big Descent fan.  He has almost everything they've made so far.  Descent is more or less identical to Imperial Assault, where one player controls the dungeon and monsters and the others control players.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, FFG released an app that takes over this job, turning the game into a truly cooperative 1-4 player experience.  I've ordered a copy of the core Descent game, which should be in my hands by the time this post goes up.  I've played enough to know I like it and intend on slowly buying some of the additional content.  Each of these Hero and Monster Collections comes with 4 new heroes and 3 groups of monsters.  Jazzes up the game a bit.

I'll be posting up unboxings and reviews as I'm able to get these things.  They all release around 5/26, so I might have to stagger the purchases a littler.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Star Wars Armada - Most Wanted Tactica

Most Wanted

This objective is a little specialized, and requires you to build your list around it. If you’re running three big ships, then you should skip this objective. If your local meta is mostly small ship spam, then you should skip this objective. If you’re not sure you know every ship in the game fairly well, then you should skip this objective.

All the weight of this objective, for better or worse, falls on the second player. As a result, you can win or lose the game for yourself simply by including this objective in your list. I didn’t start playing it until after I played through three or four tournaments and felt like I had a serious handle on the game as a whole. Likewise, when wave three eventually comes out, I’ll set this objective aside for a month or so until get acquainted with the flotillas and how they fit into things.

So, now that you’ve been warned, lets talk about how amazing this objective can be in the right hands. If everything goes right under optimal conditions, this objective is worth a net of 162 points. This assumes you have a CR-90 B and your opponent as an ISD 2.

This brings me to the first advantage, you get to pick both objective ships. Your goal with this objective is to create a potentially devastating points imbalance by choosing the cheapest ship for your list and a significantly higher point cost ship from your opponent’s list. In current meta, this is fairly easy to do by running a dummy ship on your list, generally the Raider 1 or CR-90 B are optimal, but a Gladiator (without Demolisher) or Nebulon-B work almost as well. This guarantees you’ll at least be close to breaking even, should you run across a multiple small units list.

Now onto advantage two: extra dice. When either player attacks their opponent’s objective ship this can add one die of any color that is already in its attack pool. Under ideal circumstances, you want to consider what each of your ships will gain should your opponent choose this objective. Ideally, you won’t gain red dice, or you’ll have a trigger that lets you re-roll them (leading shots). It’s important to know exactly how you’ll use the extra dice, because your opponent gets the same advantage. This plays well with small ship spam or any color crit dependent list. First you get extra chances to roll the crit. But should you whiff your die roll, the extra die make the cost of effects like Screed or other die spenders less painful.

As an Ackbar player, I don’t like this objective for my favorite admiral. Red dice have a diminishing return, and I can’t run leading shots on every ship. While Home One can help, with five dice firing off the side of a Gup, there is usually a blank or two or three or five already in the mix.

Finally, the points I’ve already mentioned. If you can keep your objective ship alive great. But the extra points can outright end a tournament run for your opponent. Just make sure you choose a target you can kill. There is no point in swinging for the fence by choosing an MC80 or ISD 2 if you’re not sure you can kill it. It’s better to get an extra 72/81 points from a dead Gup than nothing at all.

I hope this was somewhat helpful and informative. Until next time—She’s Got Admiral Ackbar Eyes.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Iron Warriors Apothecary... Decision Made

Fun fact...  Today is my birthday.  I took the day off from work...  and then immediately was told that I had to come in for a 9 hour long planning meeting.  Awesome way to spend your birthday.

In other news, I decided what to do with my Apothecaries.  I've decided I really want them to blend in with the other Marines.  To white, I ordered the following parts from a bits vendor on eBay.  They're both from the Ravenwing Command box.  The  Ravenwing Comand Apothecary has more details in both the power plant and the Narthecium, but no Dark Angels logos at all.  The plan is to put these onto a standard Betrayal at Calth Marine, with a primarily silver paint job.  I'll probably just do a single white should pad to differentiate the Marine as an Apothecary.

I'm hoping to receive the bits sooner than later.  I'd really like to be able to assemble these guys ASAP.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Helping New Players Start

I met up with the friend of a friend last night who is interested in Warhammer 40k.  He'd evidently bought some prepainted (to a pretty decent standard) Ultramarines and Orks a while back, but never really got started because he couldn't find opponents.  It looks like 20 Ork Boyz, 10 Tactical Marines and the Captain from the Assault on Black Reach set.  I did what any good long time player would do.  I rummaged around in my 'garbage bin' and found some extra stuff to get him started.  Here is what I added to his stuff...

I was able to find some old templates, a small pack of dice with the scatter die, and an assortment of models that I will never, ever use again in an assortment of test colors.  We pointed it out and his new setup works out to about 850 points or so.  It's a decent start for a casual army.  All he'll really need is a rulebook.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Forgeworld Skitarii?

So, I ran across this picture on the good old interwebs today.  Evidently, it shows some work in progress stuff from Forgeworld.  I don't know who these guys are, but I NEED them for my Skitarii force.

I love the idea of the shields.  I love the idea of new Skitarii stuff.  The picture isn't great quality, but it's obviously showing resin bits added to the plastic Skitarii kit.  I did a little more research and found this from some presentation given by the Forgeworld people...

Evidently, these models are part of the Mechanicum Secutarii.  I'm really hoping they have rules that allow me to take them in a Skitarii army.  I'm not sure how long until they come out, but I'm at least aware now and can pay attention.  For those of you who don't know, I painted up a small Skitarii force shortly after the army was released using a purple color scheme.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Weekly Weight Update

End of Week 4

I made some poor decisions this week.  I was in several situations where I didn't really have any control over what was available to eat and instead of waiting until I had better options, I just ate garbage.  Seeing the chart tick up makes me sad, but also makes me realize that making an effort to eat more veggies isn't going to do the trick.  Starting this week, I'll be going to the YMCA twice a week and also walking at least 3 miles twice a week.

Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower and the General's Handbook

Games Workshop is doing something odd...

Warhamer Quest: Silver Tower

They're sort of shitting in Fantasy Flight Games' Cheerios.  By that, I mean that they seem to be trying to build a Descent (produced by FFG) style game using Age of Sigmar minis.  This is particularly odd because FFG has the license to make a campaign based card game call Warhammer Quest right now...

Superficially, Silver Tower and Decent look very similar.  Each player controls a single hero and the action is played out on map tiles that can be assembled in a variety of ways.  Monsters pop out either randomly or based on some sort of campaign script.  There are item cards, skill upgrades and each player rolls only a small handful of dice each turn.

In terms of cash, Silver Tower will cost 150 USD.  Descent retails for 80 USD.  That's a pretty hefty difference.  So, what are you getting for that difference?

The Rules

The rules in Descent are solid and are on their 2nd edition.  The rules for Silver Tower may or may not be any good.  Games Workshop is amazing with models, but tends to fall flat when it comes to the actual rules.  Warhammer 40k is an unbalanced, overly complicated mess right now with a rock, paper, scissors tournament meta.  Warhammer Age of Sigmar is the other extreme.  It's way too simple with no real way to play competitively.  It relies entirely on sportsmanship to balance armies.

The Models

This should be a slam dunk for Games Workshop.  For straight numbers, Silver Tower includes 51 models.  That's around three bucks a model.  The GW models are hard plastic, and have to be assembled, but are also larger and look amazing.  Here is an example of one of the GW heroes painted by their studio artists.  You can see the level of detail and crispness.

Compare it to some Descent models and you'll see the difference in quality.  I get that the paint quality is vastly different, but you should be able to see the detail difference.

Descent clocks in at 46 figures, coming in closer to two bucks a model.  Compared the the three bucks for the GW models, Silver Tower is the better deal.

The Tiles

As opposed to the models, this one is likely to be a win for FFG.  FFG tiles are mode detailed a lock together.  The core set comes with 48 map tiles (granted some of those are "end caps", with many, many more available in the various expansions.

Silver Tower comes with just 13 tiles.  They don't lock together and they don't have the same level of artwork.  It's not bad, but it doesn't look anything like a dungeon.  I know it's all Tzeentch themed and that aesthetic appeal is a thing, but it's just not working for me.

The Expansions

Descent currently has TONS of expansions, which makes sense because it's been around for longer.  Silver Tower has an app that allows you to download rules for some of the Age of Sigmar models.  It's a little too early to tell whether or not Silver Tower will be successful as a game, but to compete with it's competitors, it'll need to crank out more than just extra hero cards.  There will need to be legitimate expansions with new campaigns and tiles.


While this pre-release review wasn't comprehensive at all and was based mostly on GW's marketing materials and the good old rumour mill, I'm cautiously optimistic.  I think 150 USD is way too much to spend on an untested board game, BUT...  might be worth it given the upcoming General's Handbook.  Thought I forgot about that didn't you?

The General's Handbook is an expansion for Age of Sigmar that will give all existing War Scrolls a points value.  It will allow balanced army lists to be built ahead of time.  GW is giving away free Age of Sigmar War Scrolls for all the units in the Silver Tower box, so we might have a board game where the miniatures are usable in a secondary game.  That would create additional value and might push the purchasing decision to a yes.

Realistically though, I'll probably buy a copy of the game sans miniatures off eBay for $10 a week after release just to see how it plays.  If it seems like a good value for the dollar at that point, I'll bit and get a copy.  If not, I won't.  GW is trying to break into a tough market with lots of successful competitors...  Descent, Imperial Assault, and many more.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Star Wars Armada - Superior Positions Tactica

Superior Positions

Let me start by saying, I love this objective. The victory points are nice, as it gives you something extra to work on as a pilot. But the real advantage, from my perspective, is in deployment. The ability to force all of your opponent’s units on to the table gives you a massive opening advantage. Now, there are ways to counter this issue, as there are ways to counter all objectives. However, in my tournament experience that most players lack the raw experience to do so. It’s great for messing with your opponent’s head and really just rattling their cage from the start of the game. The ability to force all of your opponent’s units on to the table gives you a massive opening advantage.

The tokens are nice, but the real advantage here is getting to see your opponent’s entire game plan on the table and set in stone before you put a ship down. I’ll risk this list even when I know a fighter ball can overwhelm me, because I usually exploit their initial deployment enough to make up the points. It’s difficult to describe the exact tactic without a few dozen pictures, but the idea is to put your opponent to a choice (hopefully a choice between two bad options). For example, if your opponent is running the Rebel swirl go the opposite direction and attack from the rear. If your opponent splits this ships between the two sides of the board, consolidate so some of his ships are out of the fight for a few turns. I once did this against an ISD and two Gladiators. The ISD took 5 turns to enter combat against my Ackbar swirl.

There isn’t much your opponent can do to completely mitigate your advantage. If they split their forces, you can consolidate. If they concentrate their forces, you can take the best route of attack. If it’s even numbers, you can play the matchup game. This last point is especially useful if you’re trying to use a combo list (i.e. Overload Pulse and Avenger).

If you’re looking to wrack up the tokens I find there are two good options: Rogues and multiple small units (MSU). The corvettes are generally the favorite, but Demolisher is another solid obvious choice. Generally anything that moves fast and can have two clicks on its last joint will work. I’m a huge fan of the Gups, and with navigate commands, they do well with this objective. Their success is due in part to the element of surprise: no one expects you to aim the speed three whale at their rump.

My favorite list packs in the rogues. This objective rewards both Han Solo and my six YT-2400s. Yup, I’m one of the guy that looked at wave two fighters and went nuts. This objective is a nightmare when you’re trying to cover up from seven attacks a turn. At speed four there isn’t much your opponent can do to stop the 15 point tokens from piling up (my record is 14 in one game).

Commanders are super list dependent, but should be seen as an enhancement to the objective. If you’re running a bunch of bombers, then consider Dodonna. If you need some flexibility, then Tarkin or Garm are solid choices. If you’re adding a specific tactic then Ozzel, Screed or Mothma can help round things out. If you’re going for token, then the only commander I find to be difficult is Ackbar, as the swirl tends to stand back.

I hope this was somewhat helpful and informative. Until next time—She’s Got Admiral Ackbar Eyes.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Descent: Journeys in the Dark - Road to Legend

So, my buddy has always been a big Descent fan.  I had never played until this past Saturday.  If you want the short review...  I'm sold.  I'll be picking up a copy of the core game later today.

The thing that sold me is the new Road to Legend app that FFG released for iOS and Android.

Normally, Descent is a game for 2-5 players with one of those players taking on the role of the Overlord.  I've never been a huge fan of these sorts of games because they rely on one person to lose for the cooperative team to win.  If the one person wins, everyone else loses.  I've always though that games should be either fully cooperative or fully competitive.  Finding someone who is willing to be the Overlord and potentially lose over and over can be tough.

Road to Legend takes the place of the Overlord.  As you navigate a dungeon and open doors, it tells you which map tiles to put down, where to put the monsters and where to put various objectives and search tokens.

When it comes time for the players to take their actions, you simply tap your characters icon and click End Turn once you're complete.  One of the monster groups will then activate, with the app telling you what they'll do.  It's important to note that the monsters will do different things from turn to turn, presumably either based on a round based script or on some other trigger.

You won't necessarily see the same critters from play-through to play-through, either.  The app has a section where it allows you to check off the various products that you own.  Based on this list, the app knows what monsters and tiles you own and will build missions for you accordingly.

My friend and I played through the tutorial mission and then the first two side missions.  It was tons of fun not knowing what was going to be behind a door and not knowing what monsters were going to pop out.  I've played a lot of Imperial Assault, which is basically Star Wars Descent, but have only played as the Imperial...  which is basically the Star Wars Overlord.  It was incredibly novel being able to just enjoy the game without being responsible for maintaining the mission and the monsters.

So, as I said...  I'll be purchasing the core game off Amazon later today.  Retail is 80 USD, but it goes for around 70 USD online just about anywhere.  It's the only thing necessary to use Road to Legend.

Definitely check it out.