Tuesday 31 May 2011

Hear, hear!

Just came across this post about old school gaming. It's 40K related, which is not a system that I'm very interested in, but I've recently acquired the Rogue Trader rulebook in the hopes that, like 3rd Edition Warhammer, Rogue Trader is immeasurably better than it's current incarnation.

This is why I liked the post:

I’d back this up by observing how people fixate over the wording of rules, rather than over the possibilities they present, and how some people are always saying that ‘they’ understand the rule, but that ‘someone else’ may not.

This quote summarises everything that is wrong with modern gaming today. People interpret the rules as restrictions, instead of possibilities. This is caused by tournaments, in my opinion. I'm not a big fan of wargames tournaments, because I think they encourage exactly this sort of behaviour - warhammer forums everywhere are inundated with posts about how someone interprets this spell or applies that effect when the unit is fleeing through difficult terrain. There are discussions about how people 'discover' loopholes in the system, allowing them to use such-and-such magic item with such-and-such monster and therefore creating the most powerful character in the history of gaming. Just before I quit 8th, I noticed how everyone always had the same sorts of armies, always ready for tournament play. If I arrived with an unusual size (1,000 pts the last time I went), people would first try and cajole me into upping the points allowance I was using so that I could match their tournament standard (2,500 or 2,400 pts, it seems?).

I can't help thinking these people are missing the point.

This all got me thinking about what the good sides of tournaments are. Essentially, the bit that everyone loves is the opportunity to meet someone new and play someone whose tactics and approach you don't know. Apart from that, I can't really see the good bit. The scenarios are made up or taken directly from the book and contain little or no narrative - any that is present has no imagination whatsoever.

So that in turn got me thinking.

Although people race modern cars, no-one really races classic cars anymore. Actually, that's rather a sweeping and uninformed statement. I don't know that because I don't attend classic car rallies, own a classic car or know anyone who does, so I could be wrong. But you get the picture.

Rather, there are shows and rallies - events that are just as interesting and allow the enthusiasts to dote over each others cars and stories, but in a spirit of co-operation, rather than competition. Now I wonder if the same could be done for something like Warhammer? Have we reached the place where one could have a Warhammer 3rd Edition 'Rally'? Organise games with classic figures and classic army lists, all games-mastered. Each table could be set up by it's own games-master, who owns that table for the day and narrates the games played on that table. Of course, people would play against each other, but not for any grand prize at the end - just the kudos of knowing that Warhammer was played the way it was meant to be played, along with like minded players that would rather explore what they could do, than what they couldn't do...

Sunday 22 May 2011

Realm of Chaos: a bit more manual than I expected...

When I started in this direction, I wasn't really all that taken with Chaos. It was just a way of getting some more interesting and different models into the Undead army, and the Orcs & Goblins that are forming in the background.

Then, I came across the digital copies of the Realm of Chaos books. As discussed earlier, I spent some time creating a Champion of Chaos and generally mucking about with the books. Since then...well.

I've been infatuated with them.

So much so, that I've diverted the large bulk of my model fund in order to buy them:

My digital copy of The Lost and The Damned was a little corrupted, so I wasn't able to see certain sections of it (like the Tzeentch army list), but I was able to get enough from it to take action when it came up on eBay.

The main reason for this sudden infatuation is around my other main objective of this blog: Warhammer 3rd Edition evangelism. I've tried to get Warhammer 3 going, but at the club, most people are more interested in 40K, or trying to get their fantasy armies ready for tournaments. Don't even get me started on why I think that tournaments are single-handedly responsible for everything wrong in wargaming today. In short, interest was low to start with, and now its dwindling. Also, sickness has prevented me going for a few weeks, so ...out of sight, out of mind for them, no doubt.

But, one of the things that really grabbed me is that one can play skirmish games with these rules. A large portion of Realms of Chaos is around the progression of your Chaos Champion and how he and his little retinue develop. What better way to learn the good sense of Warhammer 3, then to play it in small skirmish games, where the various individual little rules come into their own?

Also, I quite like the idea of the Champion and his Retinue being the seed of a Chaos Army - a great way to get painting something that can be played with almost immediately, but can also grow into a beautiful army. A lot of Khorne on those two blogs.

I am sort of interested in a Nurgle army at the moment, mainly because a Nurgle army can include undead units in it and can also make use of the Plague Cart that I've recently acquired. That said, I was very disappointed to note that the format and general quality of The Lost and The Damned (which has the Nurgle and Tzeentch lists in it) was dramatically different to the other 3rd edition books - in fact, it is evidently the predecessor to the current army book format we have been forced to endure since Warhammer 4th edition onwards. I refer to the quality because it seems like various elements and rules that were present in Slaves to Darkness (and relevant to those armies) appear to have just been left out. Also, it looks like The Lost and The Damned is the first book to experience some serious power-creep - the magic items available here run rings around anything available in the other books.

That's got me thinking that I'd rather build an army from the Slaves to Darkness book instead. 

So...given that there's so much Khorne going around at the moment, I wonder if I shouldn't look at Slaanesh instead? Now what the hell am I supposed to do with that Juggernaught that's just arrived?

Tuesday 17 May 2011

The charge of the heavy brigade

Well, heavy metal brigade, at any rate. They sure don't make 'em like they used to.

In one of my earlier posts, I lamented over the fact that I did not have enough undead horsemen for my undead army.

That's changed:

Now, I actually acquired these chaps quite a while ago, shortly after I posted my first undead post. But, many things got in the way, and I didn't get around to stripping them and cleaning them and doing all the things they needed to feel appreciated.

Stripped, you say - what's all that colour on them, then?

Yes, some of them still have colour on them. I don't know what sort of paint was available in the 80's, but I'm guessing it's the same stuff they use to paint camouflage on tanks, because even the power of Nitromors has been defeated by the stuff. I'm pretty comfortable that whatever I paint over it will bloody well stick, at any rate. Also, I've reused bases where possible, and I've filled the gaps with green stuff, which accounts for other colours you're seeing.

The painted shield hasn't been stripped - it actually came off the model with it's hand, so I lost it for a short space of time and it wasn't around when everything else was stripped. I found it quite inspirational, actually - it's great to see real 80's colour coming back out on these figures. That said, I'm not sure how much pink will be featuring in the army...

Another pic from a different angle:

Also, I managed to get my hands on a Plague Cart:

My 'cavalry' contingent:

And, no doubt, because blogs of this type always discuss rules and unpainted miniatures, but never painted ones, I thought I would present some progress:

5 painted skeletons. I've not finished the bases yet as I'm undecided on the approach I'm using. The main colours will be red and green, with other arbitrary colours thrown in because...well, they're undead, so they're not too picky about what they pick up.

Also, 5 in progress skeletons. These are the front rank for the unit above - featuring the legendary Ennio Mordini and Associates. I always paint another rank before I do the command groups, just to make sure I'm happy with the colours and stuff:

So next on my list of fun stuff to look out for will be some screaming skull catapults and some carrion crows. In the mean time, plenty to sit and paint.

Sunday 1 May 2011

Realm of Chaos: a fascinating diversion

Illness has confined me to bed. So, not much progress on the hobby front at all.

But - I do happen to have the Realm of Chaos supplements to amuse me. Not physically, unfortunately, but in digital form. I endeavor to get the actual copies, but alas...they cost too much on eBay at the moment. Slave to Darkness seems to average out at about £50 and The Lost and the Damned..between £50 and £70, when I've seen it. Granted, these prices are not a million miles away from the current cost of rule books (£45 for the new WFB rule book, for instance), but I've got other stuff (you know, important stuff, like tires) to pay for...

Anyway, Realm of Chaos. Being bed bound, I thought I'd take a punt at creating a Chaos Champion using the rules presented in Slaves to Darkness:

This book mainly describes how the champions are created and then describes the rules around Khorne and Slaanesh. The Lost and the Damned completes the known Chaos pantheon by adding Nurgle and Tzeentch:

These books also contain extended army lists for the Chaos armies - focused on armies dedicated to specific gods. Initially, I wasn't too interested, because I quite liked the presentation of the Chaos army in the WFB Armies book. That army is interesting and random enough, without referring to any specific powers.

But, being bed ridden, I thought I'd investigate the Realm of Chaos. I read through most of the fantasy portions (there are 40k Rogue Trader elements as well) before trying to tackle creating a champion this morning. I started creation at about 8:45 and I completed the thing at about 10:00. That is, the champion and his bound daemon. I didn't even get around to his steed's chaos attributes. The process is quite laborious, but ...quite fun. I think I might do it again to see what I get.

Anyway, I thought I would choose a 240 point Chaos Champion. I did this because a typical Level 20 Chaos Knight is 250 points and a typical Level 20 Chaos Sorcerer is 240 points. I reasoned, therefore, that at 240 points, the character I'd get would be approximately equivalent to a Level 20 character.

Having generated the character, I know that he's not a magic user, so for comparative purposes, lets list the stat lines for a Level 20 Chaos Knight (at 250 points, so no extra equipment):

M WS BS S T W I A Ld Int Cl WP Pts
4 8 8 5 4 3 8 3 10+3 10+3 10+3 10+3 250

The Chaos Knight gets D6 Chaos Attributes, so let's look at those now.

I rolled a 5 for the attributes:
  1. Enormously Fat (Half movement)
  2. Stupid (Subject to stupidity, -1 Int)
  3. Spits Acid (Special attack)
  4. Weapon Master (+2 WS)
  5. Breathe Fire (+1 A (flaming))
So, our Chaos Knight looks like this now:

M WS BS S T W I A Ld Int Cl WP Pts
2 10 8 5 4 3 8 4 10+3 9+3 10+3 10+3 250

Special Rules: Stupid, Spits Acid

The Chaos Champion started like this:

M WS BS S T W I A Ld Int Cl WP Pts
4 3 3 3 3 1 3 1 7 7 7 7 240

So...not comparable, really. At least, not yet.

At 240 points, the Chaos Champion gets 8 rewards:
  1. Reward - Daemon Weapon
  2. Attribute - Warty Skin
  3. Reward of Slaanesh - Face of a Keeper of Secrets
  4. Attribute - Invisibility
  5. Reward - Chaos Steed (not a Steed of Slaanesh)
  6. Reward of Slaanesh - Spell Familiar
  7. Attribute - Growth (X2)
  8. Reward of Slaanesh - Face of a Mount of Slaanesh. (This attribute is void, because of the Keeper of Secrets reward above. I probably could have rerolled, but for simplicity sake, I assumed this would just 'fall away'.)
I'm not going to walk through every step to generate my Champion, but his final stat line looks like this:

M WS BS S T W I A Ld Int Cl WP Pts
6 3 3 6 4 1 2 2 7 7 7 8 240

Special Rules: Fear 6" +1,  Invisible, +1 Armour Save

Invisibility requires the services of a GM, as the character can move around unnoticed. He appears when he attacks, and can even go invisible again before he is attacked in return. The victim must pass an initiative test, or suffer a -4 penalty to hit the character. At Initiative 2, the chances of him getting this right are pretty low.

The Growth reward was interesting,  because it multiplies stats, instead of adding to them. That works if the stats are not 1, unfortunately. In this case, he got a 1.5 X multiplier for wounds, which obviously gives him 1.5 W. I couldn't find a precedent for rounding up, so I rounded down to 1 W. M and S went up, though.

The Spell Familiar

The familiar is randomly generated. In this case, I got a Spell Familiar, which basically allows the familiar to store (and cast) one spell. I was lucky, in that it got the level 4 Slaanesh spell, Fleshy Curse.

This is it's statline:

M WS BS S T W I A Ld Int Cl WP Pts
4 4 4 4 3 1 6 1 8 8 8 8 -

Magic Points: 14

The Daemon Weapon

Perhaps the reason that the generation of the Champion took so long was because he got a Daemon Weapon - It has a bound Daemon Prince, which is produced using the same process as generating a Champion with up to 9 rewards.

This is it's statline:

M WS BS S T W I A Ld Int Cl WP Pts
5 4 4 10 5 2 10 1 8 9 9 9 -

These are its properties:
  1. +1 to hit
  2. Any wound automatically kills
  3. One third of any slain victims strength is added to the bearers strength for the rest of the game
  4. 18 Strength Points. Once the bearer has accumulated 18 points of strength (as above) the weapon 'rests' and becomes a normal magical weapon with no properties.
  5. The bearer can request that the Daemon leave the blade, but rolls on the Daemon Reaction chart.

So, all in all, the original Chaos Knight (from Warhammer Armies) is a much 'safer' bet, having more wounds and generally a better statlline, although in my case, his gifts were not very useful at all.

The Chaos Champion generated above was almost useless, but comes with an incredibly dangerous weapon and a really powerful spell.

As I said...fascinating.

I'm going to do it again...