Thursday, 26 January 2012

A Quick Fix

Just a quick one, while I carry on working on the Clanrats (I know I said I'd try to get them finished by Wednesday, but you didn't really believe me did you?!)

After the game on Tuesday I put everything back out on the painting table or in the army case, and I left out the couple of characters and weapons teams I needed to paint. After an impromptu cinema visit last night, I decided to pick up the Warlock Engineer and knock out a quick figure.


"Normal" light i.e. dark...

"Do you feel lucky, punk?"

In slightly better light, but shaky hands

So there we go. Not bad for a couple of hours work (while watching The Return of the King Extended Edition, no less!). I think the High Elf shield under his feet needs something else, maybe a red dragon icon or something, but I'm pretty happy with it. Snikch Kraventail takes his place among the steadily-building ranks of Clan Rictus!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Year of the Rat Marches On!

Yesterday was a momentous occasion, for two reasons. First - I played my first game of Warhammer Fantasy in nearly 18 months! Second - it was the first time my Skaven took to the field of battle.

That's where the celebrations end however, because the battle did not go in my favour at all! I hereby present the first of Warlord Queek Greyclaw's ignominious defeats...

~ ~ ~

Paul (my opponent) and myself arranged to fight a 1500pts battle, mostly because that was all I was comfortable of making with the figures I had assembled. As an aside, it was a pleasant surprise to find that I was only a couple of Poisoned Wind Mortars, a Warlock Engineer and a Warlord short of fielding a fully painted army (well, counting the current batch of Clanrats as "painted"...)

My army list was as follows:

Warlord Queek Greyclaw ~ 191pts
- Armour of Silvered Steel, Foul Pendant, Poisoned Attacks, Tail Weapon, Additional Hand Weapon

Warlock Engineer Snikch Kraventail ~ 155pts (Warp Lightning, Cracks Call)
- Lv.2, Warpmusket, Warlock Optics, Warp-Energy Condenser

Clanrats (40) ~ 285pts
- Full Command, Spears, Shields, Poisoned Wind Mortar

Clanrats (40) ~ 285pts
- Full Command, Spears, Shields, Poisoned Wind Mortar

Rat Ogres (5) ~ 216pts
- 2 Packmasters

Rat Ogres (5) ~ 216pts
- 2 Packmasters

Doomwheel ~ 150pts

Total = 1498pts

Paul's list was something like this (I don't know exact details):

Saurus Oldblood
- Cold One, Scimitar of the Sun Resplendent, Maiming Shield, maybe something else

Skink Priest (Uranon's Thunderbolt, Chain Lightning)
- Lv.2, equipment unknown

Skink Priest (Chain Lightning, Curse of the Midnight Wind)
- Lv.2, equipment unknown

Skinks (10)
- Blowpipes

Skinks (10)
- Blowpipes

Saurus (30)
- Full Command

Cold One Cavalry (10)
- Full Command

Chameleon Skinks (10?)

Pre-game and Deployment

Both Skink Priests rolled Chain Lightning, which was worrying. One then rolled Uranon's Thunderbolt while the other rolled Curse of the Midnight Wind. My Engineer rolled Cracks Call and Howling Warpgale, which I swapped for Warp Lightning (I reasoned that Cracks Calls could be very useful against low Int. Lizardmen!)

The Lizardmen deployed with Chameleon Skinks and one unit of Skinks on the right flank, Cold One Cavalry and Saurus in the centre, flanked by the last unit of Skinks. The two Skink Priests were in each of the Skink units, while the Oldblood deployed on his lonesome in between the Skinks and Saurus.

I deployed with the two Clanrat units in the centre opposite the Saurus and Cold Ones, with Rat Ogres flanking each unit to the left and right. The Doomwheel was deployed on the far right flank, while the Warlord joined one of the Clanrat units and the Warlock Engineer deployed in woods between the Doomwheel and the right-hand Rat Ogres.

Paul won the roll off for first turn and chose to take it.

Turn 1 Lizardmen

A general advance all along the line. No surprises there. Magic rolled a total of 7 Power Dice (5 Dispel). Thunderbolt was cast, I failed to dispel and so the left-hand Rat Ogres took 4 wounds (ouch!). Chain Lightning followed, which I again failed to dispel, and killed 3 Clanrats from the non-Warlord unit. No shooting, as everything was out of range.

Turn 1 Skaven

Everything advanced forwards. The Doomwheel took off towards the Lizardmen left flank where the single unit of Skinks were. I roll a grand total of 3 Power Dice, and fail to cast Warp Lightning (completely forgetting about the Warp-Energy Condenser...). Shooting suffered from similar failure as the Doomwheel rolled a misfire and veered Out of Control off towards the table edge. The first PWM targeted the Cold One Cavalry and scattered only slightly to take one out of action. The second PWM scatters massively (the dangers of indirect fire...) and ends up landing on the first PWM. Luckily it doesn't do anything except kill a nearby Clanrat from the non-Warlord unit.

Turn 2 Lizardmen

Advance again. 11 Power Dice and 6 Dispel; Chain Lightning goes off on the non-Warlord Clanrats, kills 6 of them, jumps to the PWM and kills it, and then jumps back to the same Clanrats to kill another 4. The Clanrats fail the resulting Panic test (Ld 10 on double 6s!). They turn tail and flee off the board....

Thunderbolt casts with Irresistible Force on the Warlord Clanrats, killing one. The Skink Priest suffers a Dimensional Cascade and is sucked into the Realm of Chaos! The other Priest tries to cast another Chain Lightning but gets dispelled with double 6s of my own.

In the Shooting phase, Skinks do another 4 wounds to the left-hand Rat Ogres (8 wounds taken in two turns!) The Skinks of the Lizardmen left do 3 wounds to the right-hand Ogres.

Turn 2 Skaven

Three charges to declare: the left-hand Rat Ogres (what's left of them...) charge the Skinks in front of them. The right-hand Rat Ogres charge the Saurus, and the Doomwheel rumbles into the right-hand Skinks, who flee. I roll 6 Power Dice and finally cast Warp Lightning, killing 4 of the Skinks who fled the Doomwheel. The Doomwheel continues killing Skinks in the Shooting phase, taking 2 casualties. The surviving PWM kills another 2 Cold One Cavalry.

In combat, the left-hand Rat Ogres kill 3 Skinks and suffer 3 wounds in return. Luckily, the lone remaining Ogre wins the fight thanks to charging. The Skinks flee and are caught. The right-hand Ogres kill 4 Saurus but lose by 1 thanks to the Saurus' standard. They flee 7" while the Saurus only pursue 6". The Warlord Clanrats take a Panic test for the Rat Ogres breaking, and I fail my second Ld 10 test (this time on 11!)


Turn 3 Lizardmen

The Saurus charge the fleeing Rat Ogres, who manage to flee out of reach. The Cold One cavalry advance right to the rear of the Clanrats. Chain Lightning casts on 20, but gets dispelled luckily. The Chameleon Skinks attempt to shoot the remaining PWM but miss everything.

Turn 3 Skaven

The Rat Ogres fail to rally and flee the board. The Clanrats do manage to rally, just in time to receive a double charge from the Cold One cavalry and Saurus *sigh*

The Doomwheel attempts to plough into the back of the Saurus, but falls short. Warp Lightning manages to cast on 25, and promptly gets dispelled with 26. Cracks Call is cast in an attempt to suck the Oldblood down into the earth, but the lizard manages to pass it's Int. test. I kill two Skinks though...

The PWM targets the Saurus (the Cold One cavalry are too close...) and kills 3. Meanwhile the Doomwheel does 1 wound to the Oldblood.

Turn 4 Lizardmen

Predictably, the Cold One cavalry and Saurus charge the Clanrats who manage to pass their Fear test. The Oldblood charges the Warlock Engineer, who flees.

Chain Lightning goes off with Irresistible Force once again, causing one wound on the Doomwheel. The Priest survives but is reduced to Lv.1. The Chameleon Skinks finally kill the remaining PWM

In the combat, the Warlord and Clanrats tear into the Cold One cavalry and Saurus, killing 3 of the former and 1 of the latter. In return, the Cold One cavalry slay 7 Clanrats while the Saurus kill another 4. Unsurprisingly, the Clanrats lose the combat, fail their Break test and flee off the board.

And so, with a wounded Doomwheel, a fleeing Warlock Engineer and a thoroughly battered Rat Ogre left on the table for me, we called it a day. 1440VP to 390VP, which is a fairly convincing Massacre.

The Aftermath

Naturally, there are a fair few things we/I forgot during the course of the battle. We're obviously a bit rusty when it comes to Warhammer, and neither of us have had more than two games of 8th Edition since it came out. I'm sure there are more that I've missed, but here's what I've realised since sitting down and writing this out:

  • Firstly, the turning point of the battle was the Chain Lightning on Turn 2. After sitting down, picking up the rulebook and reading the entry for Chain Lightning, it clearly says that a unit can only be targeted once per turn. That would have meant the Clanrats only suffered 6 casualties and would not have had to take a Panic test, would not have fled and may have turned the tide of the battle. It's hard to explain how we missed this, because Paul had the rulebook open to the Lore of Heavens for the whole game, and I had a rulebook available to check up on any rules. While I want to claim it was a dastardly plan by the Lizardmen to thwart their hated rat-men enemies, I think we can only put this down to unfamiliarity with the rules...
  • We (Paul...) completely forgot to roll Stupidity for any of his Cold Ones. This one I am going to blame him for, because it's his army and he's played it for years! Would it have had a major effect on the game? Probably not, so it's not really a big deal.
  • I completely forgot about the Rat Ogres being Frenzied. While it might seem hypocritical, I'm not going to blame myself for this (even though it's obviously "my fault") because it didn't affect Paul at all - it was only detrimental to me, because it denied me those extra attacks. Considering how tight the combat with the Saurus unit was (I only needed to kill one more Saurus to draw...), those extra 4 attacks could have made all the difference...
  • I completely forgot about pretty much all of the Warlock Engineer's equipment. I didn't fire his Warpmusket once, and consequently didn't use the Warlock Optics either. I completely forgot about the Power dice-generating rules for the Warp-Energy Condenser (although I remembered the extra damage). Probably not game changing, but those S5 AP shots could have sniped the Oldblood or a few Cold One cavalry.
EDITED 8/2/12 

Following a further check-up of the rules, I've found a few more things we missed/got wrong! 
  • Steadfast isn't negated by flank attacks! I didn't realise this at all. The flank attack from the Saurus would have still negated the rank bonus, so I wouldn't have got Strength In Numbers, but I'd have at least been testing on the Warlord's unmodified Ld 7 rather than suffering the massive -11 modifier.
  • Stomp attacks - I completely forgot that the Rat Ogres had them. Again, those extra attacks (and likely casualties) may have made all the difference. 

Thoughts, Commentary and Analysis

So that didn't go very well, but it's taught me a few lessons about the Skaven army. Firstly, Rat Ogres are vulnerable! T4 and no armour means they don't survive long, and both my units got battered by magic and shooting before they saw combat, which very much reduced their effectiveness. The answer is probably to screen them with cheap, throwaway units like Giant Rats (or shoot and magic all those annoying Skirmisher-types into the ground before they get to my Rat Ogres...). I did consider fielding them in a big block of 10 rather than two smaller units of 5. It would give me a huge battering ram of a unit (35 S5 attacks!), would be easier to screen (only one unit to cover, rather than two) and more survivability (more models = more wounds  = greater capacity for casualties before they die). Might be worth considering.

I was very impressed with the Poisoned Wind Mortars - they proved to be pretty deadly, when they weren't scattering onto my own troops. Luckily, Paul presented a nice big target by putting the Cold One cavalry and Saurus blocks together - if I didn't hit one, there was a pretty good chance I'd hit the other. Moving and firing was another bonus, and is the primary reason why I picked them over Warpfire Throwers or Ratling Guns. Overall, they were well worth their points - these might be the next painting project once I finish the current batch of Clanrats.

The Doomwheel was slightly disappointing, but then it didn't really get chance to see much action. I was looking forward to seeing it plough through the massed ranks of the Saurus from the rear, but the dice weren't in my favour (they never are...).

All in all, lots of lessons learned. Hopefully I'll have plenty of chances in the next few months to refine and build on my army, and bring glory to Clan Rictus! For now, it's time to get back to reading up on tactics and painting more Clanrats.

Oh, and buying some loaded dice...


Sunday, 22 January 2012

More Clanrats

The second stage of Clanrat painting is now complete (I managed to paint ten Clanrats by Sunday after all!) Not much left to do with these now - paint the flesh, paint details and then wash and base. I'm going to optimistically aim for midweek (Wednesday) to get these done...

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Year of the Rat Begins!

OK, so I'm three weeks late starting 2012. I blame it on Skyrim. BUT! I've not been completely idle on the hobby front (just "mostly idle"). Over the past fortnight I've been steadily chipping away at a bunch of Clanrats (in between Skyrim loading screens...). In truth, I could have made this post a week ago but it'll look like I've done more work when I upload the next set in just a couple of days! Again, I blame Skyrim...

Anyway, I am determined to achieve my resolutions this year (although you know what they say about the best laid plans...) To start off, I got going on some Clanrats - I undercoated them at the same time as my first unit (way back in March 2011 I think) but forgot to glue the sand to the bases first. So that was the first job. Then the bases got painted with Graveyard Earth, and the real work could begin. Pretty simple really, just Chaos Black on all the cloth areas as per the Clan Rictus colour scheme.

The next step is painting all the metallic areas. In truth, that's what I've been doing this week and I've just got the last ten to do (like I said, I was just too lazy to put the pictures up earlier...). I should easily get those done by Saturday night/Sunday morning. After that it's on to the flesh on the tails, feet and noses. Then details, wash and basing, and we're done!

A couple of things I've considered while painting these (which I should probably have thought of when I painted the first batch, or I might have already thought of and forgotten...) Firstly, I'm wondering whether painting from a black undercoat would be easier (read: quicker) than the Fur Brown colour primer. My gut tells me it'll be the same amount of work either way, but it would allow me to use different fur colours rather than sticking to the same consistent Fur Brown on every rat (not that I don't have that option now, but painting different browns over the Fur Brown primer would seem to defeat the point of using the Fur Brown primer in the first place).

Secondly, I had thought about painting all the weapon arms separately, because I had some trouble with a few of the figures where the arms obscured nearly all access to the body of the figure. After some consideration though, the potential downsides seem to outweigh any benefit I'd gain from doing them separately, so I think I'll keep the arms attached...

So, on that note, I'll sign off. Expect another update on the Skaven in a couple of days. After all, how long can ten rats take me, right?

Monday, 2 January 2012

Out with the Old, In with the New

First up, a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! As you can see, I wasn't around much over the festive period but it's better late than never, right?

Anyway, with the new year now well under way, I thought it was about time I had a look back at what was 2011 and what sort of progress (if any) I made in Hobbyland.

I gave myself 13 hobby-related resolutions at the beginning of 2011. I said that if I could achieve 9 of them, I'd be happy (although all 13 was obviously the ultimate goal). Let's have a look how I did:

1/ Finish painting my Human and Amazon Blood Bowl Teams

Fail. Didn’t even touch them, which I’m a bit annoyed with myself for, because this was one of the easier resolutions to complete.

2/ Add more subs to my Orc Blood Bowl and finish painting them

Fail. No more progress with the painting, and no move to get hold of more models. That’s partly because of problems with my PayPal account leading to my eBay buying completely stopping. Probably a good thing for my bank balance though…

3/ Finish painting all the Skaven figures I currently own (Doomwheel, 8 Rat Ogres, 120 Clanrats, 4 Weapon Teams, 6 characters)

Mixed. I’m going to be generous with this one, because out of the above list, I painted about 50% - the Doomwheel, 30 Clanrats and 10 Rat Ogres. Except that over the course of the year, I bought plenty more Skaven to paint (mostly Clanrats…).

4/ Make a post on my blog at least once every week

Success! Well, at least in terms of quantity - 56 posts over 52 weeks equals at least one post a week. Reality paints a slightly different picture though, as there were several barren periods with no posts at all. Still, a strong finish to the year made up for this.

5/ Paint a Dystopian Wars starter fleet (likely Prussians)

Mixed. Well, it wasn’t Prussians but I’ve picked up a Britannia fleet and they’re about 90% painted. Just the final details to do…

6/ Play with said fleet at least three times 

Fail. Not a single game.

7/ Play a minimum of five Warhammer games

Fail. As above, not a single game. Despite much talk, no Fantasy games materialised. I’ll keep persevering with my efforts to get some Fantasy games going, and I’ve a vague plan of organising a Warhammer tournament at the club. We’ll see how that pans out…

8/ Play one game system I've never played before

Success! Although not the game I’d intended to start (Malifaux), we picked up Cutlass and it’s now taken pole position as our Pirates game of choice.

9/ Take part in at least two demo games at wargames shows with Stafford Games

Success! I’m going to call this a success on the strength of Wargamer alone. Fact is that there seems very little drive to do anything other than Flames of War at the club, and even less drive to actually put in the effort required to organise a game at a show. The Wargamer game was essentially the product of the efforts of just two people, Gary and myself. That makes it even more impressive, in my opinion, and the fact that we won Best Demo Game on the strength of our game just goes to show what can be achieved with some effort and drive. At least myself and Gary are looking to continue this into 2012, even if we have to continue going it alone.

10/ Paint at least 300 models total over the course of the year 

Fail. I knew this was ambitious at the start of the year, and it turned out to be too ambitious. A grand total of 101 models painted over the course of 2011, which isn’t even close to what I was aiming for but it’s better than nothing (and better than 2010.)

11/ Finish painting my 15mm French Napoleonics 

Fail. Only painted 20 elements, all of which were bought after I made the resolutions! So really, my Napoleonics are in the same state as they were at the start of the year.

12/ Paint up the 28mm Arthurian Saxons I've had knocking around for ages so I can get some Arthurian gaming in...

Fail. Talked about them, and me and Gary are still talking about them. Whether either of us will ever get round to them is anyone’s guess.

13/ Sculpt a model completely from scratch

Fail. Just another thing I never got round to. Still something that I want to do though…

Overall, that's a total of eight failures, a paltry three successes and two met with mixed success. Final report? Must Do Better, I think...

But! Onwards and upwards. Even though I didn't achieve anything close to what I wanted, I feel like I still achieved something compared to the past two or three years. Especially towards the end of the year, I've become more enthused about the hobby mainly on the back of the Wargamer display game we put on. We've got plans to take other games around the country in 2012, and I think that will provide me with some much needed motivation.

With that in mind, I've put together a list of resolutions for 2012:

1/ Build/Run/GM/Play in at least two display games at wargames shows with "The Wyrley Retinue" (i.e. Gary and myself)
We want to take our TYW game to other shows throughout the year, and generally improve the game we ran at Wargamer. We're also looking forward to 2013 and are bandying ideas around about running a Condotta game of some sort.

2/ Paint "remaining" Skaven (the unpainted stuff that I currently own; roughly 150 Clanrats, associated weapons teams and characters)
An 'updated' carry over from last year; I painted quite a bit (for me) but this year I want to try and achieve some sort of focus. After reading about the Year of the Empire over on The Hoodling's Hole (well worth a visit, by the way) I'd like to see if I can attempt the same sort of single-minded determination needed to focus on one thing above all others. The Skaven have been on the To Do list since 8th Edition Warhammer came out, roughly 18 months ago, and I don't have a lot to show for it yet. The aim is to have a complete 2000pt army by the end of the year.

3/ Assemble and paint my Man of War, and associated crew
I bought the Ainsty/Dixons Man of War at the Derby World Wargames show (more on that here), and after a couple of months of sitting back admiring it, it's about time I did something with it. There's a lot of metalwork involved, and it's a big ship so it's going to take some time. I don't want to rush it. Of course, a pirate ship needs a crew and this will be the ideal opportunity to paint up the pirate figures I've had knocking around for ages

4/ Finish the Blood Bowl teams!
Carrying over from last year, and dumping them together. This really shouldn't need to be on this list, but I procrastinated and did other things, and the Blood Bowl figures didn't get touched last year. No excuses this time round, they're getting done.

5/ Paint 200 models in total over the course of the year
A sort of compromise with this one; last year the goal was 300, and I painted 100. Setting a total of 200 should (hopefully) see me 'meeting in the middle' - the goal is slightly easier, but still enough to provide a bit of a challenge

So that's it. I'm going to stick to five targets this year; thirteen was too many, and I think split my focus so much that I ended up not achieving many of them. Hopefully, less targets will keep me more focussed, will allow me to achieve these five, and will drive me on to complete other bits and bobs alongside them. Less is more, and all that.

Anyway, with that done, it's time to get started! Tally Ho!