Friday, December 31, 2010

To buy or not to buy?

A coworker of mine is selling an Empire army for $300. It is assembled but not primed or painted.

My thoughts on this are as follows -
Pros -
price isn't bad (it's about $150-$200 less than it would be retail)
it's assembled and ready to play but I don't have to fix any bad paint jobs

I'm not done painting or playing my Dark Elves
I don't have a heck of a lot of painting or playing time
I'd have to store them

I'd have an unpainted army that I could easily throw in a box for travel without worrying about damage
I'd have a spare army for friends to play when they came out to visit

It's $300 and I just did Christmas presents and travel

So, my small number of readers, what do you think? Its especially relevant since you might be the beneficiary of such a purchase.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not dead yet

I've let this blog sit idle for a while due to work being hectic as all get out, but not to fear.

First, the escalation league I was running at the local store finally wrapped up. We had clear winners for all three prizes (total points, best painted, and favorite opponent) and even though I was playing for fun and wouldn't have accepted any of the prizes anyway I still was third overall and got a couple of votes for painting and sportsmanship. All in all I'd say it was very successful and I plan to run more events at the store in the future.

This was an 8th edition league, so lets look at the results and see how different they are from a 7th edition league or tournament.

1st place - Dark Elves
2nd place - Scaven
3rd place - Dark Elves
4th place - WOC
5th place - Demons
6th place - VC
7th place - High Elves
8th place - Lizardmen
9th place - WOC
10th place - Beastmen
11th place - Lizardmen

The only real difference is that Scaven and WOC finished ahead of VC and Demons. The Scaven player finished strong. Once the game sizes got up around 2k and he could easily drop over a hundred models on the table (units of 50 slaves with slings) he became extremely difficult to beat. Something similar happened with the WOC player, who was playing a monsters list. Bigger units of monstrous infantry and some Mauraders for cheap ranks made his list much tougher.

So far my Cauldron and Magic support list has been playing well. Frenzied, strength 9 Corsairs can take down pretty much anything. I still need some tuning at the 2500 point level though. My Cold One Knights still don't perform quite how I would like them, either going stupid at a bad time or just not delivering the punch I need them to. I'm also not sure that I have my second Sorceress outfitted the best way. Still trying to hide her and use the familiar to get in range, but there's so much stuff on the table in a 2500 point game that it's hard to find a safe place. Might be time to trade in the Cold Ones for something else with some punch and survivability and find a bodyguard unit for the caster.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Have Army, Will Travel

Last week I had the pleasure of heading back to my old stomping grounds for a conference and managed to get in a few games while I was there. First of all, I have to recommend Battlefoam. I bought a couple cases of it when I moved across the country and it definitely saved my paint jobs. Plus I was easily able to pack all but a single small unit into one carry-on sized case for my trip back. If you have any intentions of traveling with your army for any reason, Battlefoam is totally worth the price.

Now then. It was nice getting to play with my old gaming buddies again, even if I get get spanked repeatedly. For the most part I can blame the dice (shakes fist in the general direction of his dice) for my lackluster performance, but it did get me thinking. So far I had been playing 8th edition with a slightly modified version of my 7th edition list. Out here it had been doing well enough since we were all still trying to figure out how to play the new edition. I think my friends back east have progressed farther than we have out here in terms of figuring out what a good 8th edition lists looks like. So I've decided to get more adventurous in my experimentation. My 2k list for this week of the escalation league looks something like this -

Lvl 4 Sorceress
Lore of Shadow
Sacrificial Dagger
Pendant of Kaeleth

Death Hag
Cauldron of Blood

Spearmen x 25, Std, Mus

Crossbowmen x 20, Std, Mus

Corsairs x 20, Std, Mus, Handbows, Frenzy Banner

Witch Elves x 20, Std, Mus, Armor Piercing Banner

Cold One Knights x 5, Full Command, Ring of Hotek, +1 Movement Banner

Shades x 5, AHW

Bolt Thrower


This is reeeeaaaaaaallly different for me. No Black Guard. No Pendant BSB. No Harpies or Dark Riders. No Chariot. No Assassin. I'm going to need the Shades to take care of any enemy warmachines. I'm going to pair up the Hydra and COK with the Corsairs and Witches. The Hydra or COK will try to flank while the Corsairs and Witches head for the front to tarpit. The Cauldron will support one of the teams, probably the Witches, and the Sorceress will support the other. Shadow magic has some nice hexes that should bring just about any unit down to the point where Corsairs can carve them up. Crossbows and Bolt Thrower will lay down fire support and get rid of any small harassment units. I had trouble deciding between the extra hand weapon and handbow for the Corsairs. I decided to split the difference and get the handbow and make them frenzied. Since charging isn't as absolutely necessary as before, I figure they can roll up in front of their target and unload with 20 handbow shots. Then, as they are quick-to-fire, still get 20 shots on the stand-and-shoot when the enemy charges. Again, trying different things here. We'll see how it goes.

The league is going well. So far attrition has been minimal. We had four games going on Thursday and we're halfway through. Folks still seem to be enjoying it. All in all, I couldn't be happier with how it's gone to this point.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Me? An organizer? Madness!

Today marks the end of the first week of the Fantasy Escalation League I put together at Game Kastle. So far things seem to be going along quite well. I've got a full ten people who have paid the entry fee and played one or more games, and at least one that hasn't paid just yet. People seem to be digging the format. There are several, like me, who are just playing with their usual painted armies. But I do have a couple of people who are actually working on building and painting as they go. I'm excited to see how things progress from here.

I've run plenty of gaming events before, but this is my first attempt at a wargaming event. I got to watch numerous IFL events, most of which went well and some of which could have gone better. Now I get a chance to apply those observations in a somewhat different environment. I'm sure that by the time it's over I'll have over-analyzed every little bit of it. Hopefully this is the first of many. If there's one thing I learned, it's that wargaming thrives with a bit of structure.

In terms of actual gaming, I got in two League games during the first week. One very close loss to a Lizardmen army which went down to the last attack roll of the game and one win against a new Scaven player. Both were very bloody, as 8th edition is proving to be time and again. I think the single biggest highlight from both games was the Scaven Warp Lightening Cannon taking out my Hydra in a single shot.

Still experimenting with different options for my Dark Elves in 8th edition, specifically with magic recently. One of my favorite builds for a Sorceress in 7th edition was a Level 2 on a Dark Steed with the Focus Familiar. At first in 8th I had tried putting a Sorceress in a big block of Spearmen, since 8th really likes infantry blocks, and hiding an Assassin in the unit to protect her. After some serious game changing miscasts I started having doubts about the wisdom of the 'bodyguard block'. So, time for a substitution. The Focus Familiar Sorceress is back, if for no reason other than the fact that when she miscasts all she'll blow up is herself. I've also been trying a fairly cheap defensive item on my casters, the common one that gives a 4+ ward save to the first wound suffered, hoping that it will help them live through two miscasts. So far I don't think it has actually helped. I'm not ready to give up on it yet, but I think it's time to start considering alternatives. In terms of effectiveness, she was my MVP against the Scaven. Being able to hide her behind a build and still have the range and line of sight to his units made the difference.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I gotta give a big shout out to Rushputin for the Games Day loot / close enough to my birthday to count as a present I got today. You are correct in that I don't really need another 3 Sorceresses, buuuuuuuut I could use another one on a horse and a Hag BSB. I can easily turn a staff into a banner and swap out the Cold One for a Dark Steed. Plus, he included a Malus Darkblade model which I can put on one of the new Cold One models (and potentially even use in the near future since folks out here don't seem to mind special characters) and some super sweet IFL dice. The guys out here will learn to fear the power of the club dice.

It might take me a bit to get around to doing those conversions since I have some painting ahead of me.....

I and a couple of the guys at Game Kastle are going to do an Escalation League starting in a couple of weeks. I'm trying to set my expectations appropriately. We've had a pretty good number of folks express interest, but it's hard to say how many are actually going to show up. The turn out at the store for open gaming has been good recently, with 3 or 4 games going on. I'm guessing we'll have 10 or so people start out and maybe 6 or so play through to the end. More to come as the league progresses.

One thing I can say though, just the fact that a few of us had an idea, talked on the forum a bit, and made all the necessary arrangements with the store to get things rolling is a great sign that I'm going to be all set for wargaming out here for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Miscasting for Fun and Profit

Got in another game of 8th Edition this past week at Game Kastle. This was the first full sized (2250 points) game I'd played and it was against a Warriors of Chaos army that was a bit of a hybrid. See, the guy had wanted to do a 'Troll King and his Court' army of all monsters and beasts, which I thought was a cool idea. But he didn't have enough points of just those so instead it was trolls, monsters, and a couple of small units of Warriors and Mauraders on foot.

By the start of the 3rd turn, both of us had miscast our wizards off the table, and mine had taken half of her bodyguard unit of Spearmen (Spearelves?) with her. The last few turns went very quickly what with us skipping a whole phase.

I did manage to win the game and can make a few observations.

1. Black Guard are still sick. Even with being limited to 20 per unit, and the other side getting to swing back, the extra rank's worth of supporting attacks and the ability to take a magic banner other than ASF and still be able to strike first due to their ridiculous initiative more than make up for it. They are pretty much guaranteed to out-kill anything the come up against since you can give them the armor piercing banner or flaming attacks banner.

2. The Pendant BSB is even better at holding up big monsters now. He still gets +1 combat resolution for having the banner, but the monster doesn't get +1 for outnumbering anymore. Now instead of the most likely outcome being a (GALLERY????) tie, the most likely outcome is that the monster loses combat by 1. The cheese, it is great. I foresee that I shall feel even dirtier using that combo in the future.

3. Bait and Flee is still a viable tactic, but it is much riskier and only really viable with Dark Riders and only really reliable against slower units. Harpies are still good for getting right up in the enemy's face on the first turn and directing them where you want them to go, but now that they flee on foot they are not likely to escape. Dark Riders are slightly more likely to get away as they get to roll 3 dice and drop the lowest, but enemy cavalry is still likely to catch them if you get close enough to force the issue. I had noticed previously that the longer I managed to keep my Dark Riders alive, the more likely I was to win the game. That was sort of when the Dark Elf army started to click for me, when I learned how to Bait and Flee to setup counter charges and keep the Dark Riders alive to rinse and repeat. I think in 8th Edition that will be an even more telling factor. I should keep track of that...... I suspect that I tend to win if I still have a unit of Dark Riders alive in the 4th turn.

4. Magic is dangerous. The Ring of Hotek is still nasty, you just have to get up close and personal.

Lastly, congratulations to Rushputin on being a Golden Demon Finalist two years running!

Friday, August 6, 2010


For the past couple of weeks I've hit up Game Kastle in Santa Clara on Thursday night. There seemed to be some interest in WFB on their forum now that the new edition was out. The first time I went, I was hoping to bump into someone who was looking for a game. It turned out that finding a person wasn't the problem, but finding an open table was. There were three different WFB games going on and a couple of games of 40k and a few other people hanging out that would have played if there was room. I didn't get to play that night, but for what I consider a great reason. I'll take 'we didn't reserve enough tables' over 'there's no one to play with' any day.

This past Thursday I set up a game in advance and we made sure to up the number of tables reserved for WFB. I played against a very nicely painted High Elf army at 1500 points. After this one experience, I feel like Game Kastle is going to work out nicely. The game room is a bit cramped, but that didn't bother me so much. I kind of like the crowded 'club house' feel. The people seemed pretty cool. The store itself has a couple of very nice advantages. First, terrain. There is a huge collection of pretty decent terrain available to everyone. And when I say huge, I mean there were ... I think 5 games going on and there was at least enough terrain for another 5 tables. And not just forests and foam hills. They have a nice variety of buildings, obstacles, monuments, etc. The second big advantage is that the gaming area is a separate room from the store, with it's own external door. That means that when it's time for the store to close.... wait for it.... they close the store and let the gamers keep playing. Apparently they trust their community enough to let the gamers clean up the area when they are done and lock up behind themselves. This is a big deal in my opinion. You don't have to worry about rushing out of work and fighting traffic so you can get your game in and over with before 9 pm.

The actual game itself was good. We were both still getting our heads around the new rules, so there were some occasional pauses to look things up, but I think we did everything pretty close to right. I would have won the game except for two things. First, I brought an Assassin built to kill characters (Killing Blow) instead of to kill monsters (Manbane) and he ended up in combat with a Dragon. Even needing 6's to wound, he still managed to put a wound on the Dragon. With Manbane for poison he would have ripped it apart easily since it was already down a couple of wounds from shooting. Second, my Hydra had his level 3 caster / general in one-on-one combat after breathing on and killing the remainder of his bodyguard unit the previous turn .... but didn't kill him. The mage has cast a couple of buffs on himself, one that caused any enemy unit in base contact to take 2d6 strength 4 hits at the end of every magic phase and another buff that raised the first buff to strength 6. I had forgotten about those and didn't dispell them during my magic phase. So, just as the Hydra's many heads were about to start arguing over which of them got to eat the tenderest bits of the mage, it took more than enough strength 6 hits to kill it and I managed to only save 1. Instead of a dead enemy general I had a dead Hydra. Those two things swung the game in his favor, but they happened late in the game and it was still a good time.

There is now some discussion of trying to do an escalation league at Game Kastle as well. I should check back by Legends and see how their plans are coming along....

Monday, July 26, 2010

First Blood

Finally got in a game of 8th Edition on Saturday. I went down to Legends in Cupertino to play with the store owner. Turned out that he didn't have time to play himself. However, he was trying to get one of his employees up to speed on the rules so they could start running events in the store, so I ended up playing a teaching game. *shrug* It's better than nothing. Plus, I had to make sure I understood the rules well enough to explain them to someone who was mainly familiar with the 40k rules but knew a pretty decent amount about the Fantasy fluff.

It's hard to draw any conclusions from that game. He was playing an Orc army that didn't belong to him and looked like it was a couple of editions old. We put together the best 15oo point list we could from the models we had available, and I tried to dissuade him from some non-optimal choices he was making based on his 40k experience (no, you really should make one big unit of Black Orks, and you should probably put your General in there instead of two small units and 5 guys to hang out with your General). But he had fun and we got through the game without any major issues.

I already like the Magic system better than the previous edition. Magic defense no longer has to be a list design requirement. I tried out a Level 2 Sorceress with the Tome of Furion (knows one additional spell) and was quite happy with the result. Taking the Tome always seemed like a waste to me in the previous edition since you rarely had enough power dice to successfully cast the couple of spells you already knew. But with the new rules for generating power dice, a single lower level caster can have significantly more dice to work with than before (7 on average, up from 4). Suddenly 15 points to know an additional spell seems like a pretty good use of points. Previously if you wanted to be more effective you had to spend significantly more points and another Hero slot to get another caster, just so you could get a couple more power dice to work with. Now, adding another caster just splits the randomly generated power dice between them and all you really gain is a couple more spells and maybe some additional magic items. Granted, those can be valuable in and of themselves if you are going for a heavy magic list. But now instead of needing a 'scroll caddy' you can turn that same amount of points into a decent amount of offensive magic. I had been playing a magic heavy list with 3 casters until 8th came out. It seems like adding more casters in 8th will result in diminishing returns. You might gain flexibility by adding additional Lores, and maybe some extra punch with additional magic items, but I don't see the power scaling up the way it did in the last edition. I think this it a good thing.

Friday, July 16, 2010

FAQ me? FAQ you!

I'm still working my way through the new 8th edition rulebook. Already, Games Workshop has put out a revision to their FAQ's. I see this as a good thing. Does it mean that the book was poorly or vaguely written? I don't think so, at least not more so than usual. There will always be questions that come up, and the best thing that they can do it address them quickly instead of just leaving them out there for players to argue over. Many of us still have a bad taste in our mouth from disagreements over how War of the Ring was supposed to work and haven't touched the game since. A timely FAQ could have avoided much of that.

The Dark Elf FAQ update was sparse. Only one of the few changes they made has me scratching my head. The Manbane + Rending Stars combo may have been over powered. It may have been cheesy considering that the Assassin was BS 9 and didn't take up a hero slot. But it was one of the few sources of high strength attacks in the army, has a short range, Assassins are fragile, and everyone expected to see the combo if you had a unit of Shades and an Assassin so they could keep their monsters away from him.

Seeing a change to the ruling doesn't surprise me. Changing the rule so that the extra +1 to Strength is up to the current player seems like a poor choice. Mental muscle memory in Warhammer is a hard thing to fight. Games go much faster once you get used to what you have to consistently roll. Having a stat that will flip back and forth based on who's turn it is is just asking for confusion. Plus, I'm having trouble coming up with a fluff justification for why a poison's strength would oscillate from one player's turn to the next. The only time it will come up, that I can think of, is if the Assassin makes a Stand and Shoot reaction to a charge. If the combo needed to be fixed, why fix it like this?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Square 1

This blog begins, as all epics, in medias res. That's Latin. It means 'in the middle of things'. But at the same time, also at a new beginning.

If you're reading this, then you already know that this is my wargaming blog. As I sit here writing up this first entry, I'm watching the beginning of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. The Indiana Jones films all start in medias res as well. Indy is already on an adventure when the film starts.

So, as this blog starts I also am already on an adventure. I moved clear across the country a couple of months ago and have already started going around and trying to find out what the local wargaming culture is like. I've found lots of people playing 40k, but not much in the way of Warhammer Fantasy. Which is unfortunate, since Fantasy is what I prefer at the moment. I've found some nice stores near my house, but haven't really found a place in the community yet.

In addition to the new beginning of finding a gaming community,Warhammer Fantasy 8th edition was just released yesterday. Games Workshop has made massive changes to the game, hopefully for the better. Everyone, regardless of how much experience they had playing previous versions, is back to square 1.

This is a wargaming blog, so you can expect some of the standard things from it. Painting discussion and photos, battle reports, etc. But specifically, at least for starters, this blog is going to be covering my efforts to find a home in the local gaming community and my thoughts on the changes between 7th and 8th edition, specifically changes pertaining to my current army, the Dark Elves.

So, away we go. I purchased a copy of 8th edition yesterday from my closest LGS, Legends in Cupertino. The book is huuuuuuuuge. Other people have already posted quick reference lists of major changes, so I'm not going to go into them until I've read the book more thoroughly and have something new to add.

In addition to getting it for a 10% discount I also got to chat with the owner of the store about it. He was hoping the new edition would generate some interest in the game, which he also prefers over 40k. Furthermore, he wanted to start up a Fantasy League in his store in the next couple of weeks. This is big progress. Not only is the closest store to my house potentially going to have a League, but the owner of the store told me to give him a call if I wanted to come down to the store and play with him. This store has only been open a couple of months (it's an expansion of a comic book shop), but it seems like it would be a decent enough place to play. It just needs some time to gather a community.

The next closest store to my house, Game Kastle in Santa Clara, had a couple of release day events. I wasn't able to attend them since I was working on getting scuba certified, but I'm hoping that those events went well. Game Kastle is a very nice store with lots of tables and people playing various games. The only thing it was missing was people playing Fantasy. Hopefully there will be more interest in playing Fantasy now that the new edition is out. I hung around the store a couple of times and it reminded me a lot of Game Parlour, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that in the near future I'll have two good, close choices of stores/communities to play with.

And if not, I guess I could just start playing 40k.