Sunday, June 30, 2013

Stone Falls intro - gaming with a narrative

As with most people I wargame with, we prepare and play our games and lists around a tournament model.  While this is suitable most of the time it is nice to work with a narrative in mind for some fun games.  I have enjoyed slowly working on the Hub for 40k and some of the other guys have shown interest in the actual story going on in and between games.  Now its Warhammer Fantasy's turn.

Next weekend four of us are going to play a 2v2 game of Warhammer Fantasy using 2500 points each, so 5k a side.  Joel and Wil are bringing Empire and Bretonnians while Ryan and I both bringing Vampire Counts.  Joel had suggested a town setting and brought up Helmgart, south of Marienburg.  Now I read into the background a bit more and Helmgart itself is a Fortress watching over Axe Bite Pass, so it was time to pick a neighbouring town.

Around the same time the Pathfinder game I host weekly had come to an awkward halt, as a player had dropped out due to family commitments and our unbalanced party got it's collective arse kicked by a pack of Yeth hounds.  Now as this was my 'break' from GMing I was happy enough to go back to running a game.  The plan was to start on the second part of Rogue Trader 40k Lure of the Expanse, but I felt it was time for an original home grown game, especially as with only 3 players I can organically change the story to suit what they play.

While the players created their new characters we talked about a world setting.  Do we use a commercial one like Faerun for Forgotten Realms(pre 4th ed...) , the Golarian setting of Pathfinder or something else.  We chose a setting of our own creation, dark and gritty as we felt the pregen worlds of the D20 systems were a bit generic fantasy at times.  Not too many Gods for the divine classes to draw upon and start in a localised setting where I dont have to describe the politcal and religious views of other countries yet.  So with  my head leaning towards the Warhammer Old World, Ferelden from Dragon Age and Westeros from GoT, the town of Stone Falls was born.

While the RPG version of Stone Falls is not exactly in the Warhammer world the comparisons and story elements are close enough.  So in the last two weeks the adventure the players have embarked on with their D20s is acting as a prologue to the massive battle to take place on Saturday.

I will share the adventures of Duncan the Eidolon, Marcus the Ranger and Lou the Druid - there was Ferdinand the Magus but ahem... well you'll see.  In the meantime here is the narrative setting from a Warhammer perspective.

North of the Helmgart Fortress, nestled in the dark boughs of the southern Reikwald sits the town of Stone Falls.

Stone Falls is named after a waterfall in the deep forest, whose torrent plummets from a lofty rocky crag into an abyssal pit deep into the earth. No one knows what lurks in the stygian waterways below the forest, but visitors to the Falls hear peculiar sounds from the subterranean depths intermingled with the crashing waters.

Stone Falls the town is situated off the main road, closer to the arterial trade road from Marrienburg than the ones to Carroburg and the capital of Altdorf. The town is normally a quiet place where travellers will divert their wagons and carraiges to seek the warmth and ale of the Drunken Drake Inn within the town's thick wooden walls.

The locals call this part of the Reikwald the Dark Thorn woods, as brambles, briars and thorn bushes grow to immense size. Whether some peculiarity of the soil or stemming from a darker cause, the plant life clamours for space and intertwines so that daylight is a rare sight within the forest canopy. Here in the darkness, tribes of malicious goblins plot their raids and thefts on the townsfolk. The Beastmen, children of Chaos gather around monolithic Herdstones and divine portents from the dark powers. Men with minds addled or murder in their hearts make camp and speak of foul deeds and dark intent.

Some citizens of Stone Falls live in defiance of the danger within the southern Reikwald, making their homes outside the walls. Here in the space between the town and the dark arboreal interior sit small farms. Growing enough for the townsfolk and little else these muddy plots of land provide a clear track of land for the town's sentries to spot any would be assailant. The skilled bowmen who patrol the towns borders have felled many an invader across these fields.

Recently the rangers and woodsmen who brave the Dark Thorn woods have reported an increase in animal attacks. Where normally the fauna will shy away from people, now they charge and openly seek to harm the woodsmen. Spiders the size of dogs and larger have been spotted amongst the shadowy trees and those who still follow the old ways speak of an ancient evil, returned to reclaim its fallen domain.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hub Part 2 - Round 3

So after the carnage in the darkness with the spies - I forgot to mention it was night fighting for the first 3 turns. The forces in the Hub moved their operatives to take control of weapon caches and ammo dumps.

This scenario concocted by Joel had a central objective worth 3 VP.  Now if any shooting attack passed within 6" there was a chance the ammunition exploded harming whatever was nearby.

I did not play this round, my Inquisitor took to the side lines as Cody arrived with his Grey Knight force.  In the ruined streets around an Imperial garrison the elite of the Ordo Malleus found themselves surrounded by Tyranid forces.  The two Dreadknights promptly took control of the central objective while their Terminator armoured brethren took defensive positions behind the garrison's defence lines.  Alien beasts surged from the dark streets and a fierce fire fight raged.  Stray fire even detonating the coveted supplies.  When the smoke cleared I believe the Grey Knights had control of the objective and set about purging the area of the xenos beasts.

 The Blood Angels found themselves encountering an enemy from the darkest days of their history.  The Daemons had come for Sanguinius' children.  The Inquisition did not receive a report from the Astartes forces on the outcome of this engagement which bodes ill for that Imperial detachment.  The zone in which they fought had the remains of some large archaic building in it.  It is feared that it may have been a repository from the Hub's earliest days and that corrupt artifacts were present to attract the warp creatures.

Here are the intercepted communications from the Ork vs Tau battle.

Orks - sniper drones + cover + night fight = bad! However the warboss got the last laugh as the falcon claw missed, and promptly responded with Power Klaw to the face!

Tau - Rumours of an ork force in the mountains led the Tau commander to move in for suppression. Despite the low light conditions the Tau forces used superior firepower and night vision technology to utterly annihilate the Ork forces, leaving some straggled young orks sulking in the background. Despite complete tactical superiority again the Tau commander issued a challenger to the Ork commander who was presumed to be almost expired thanks to the many rounds of fire his squad had suffered. Slinging his guns the ork and Tau commander charged each other. Despite landing a direct hit the siege gauntlet suffered a major malfunction and did not damage, the commander ejecting to safety and his bodyguards fled but were cut to ribbons. (Loss 2-1)

So even though the Imperial forces suffered losses this round their early successes had put them back in control of a majority of the Hub's strategic areas.  As the various commanders healed from their injuries and reassessed their forces, information about the whereabouts of their most hated opponents came filtering in.  Little did they know they were being lured into a trap!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Hub Part 2 - Round 2

So a few weeks ago we played the second session of our local narrative 40k campaign.  Here is the next report at last.

Game 2 was an interesting one that Joel had concocted.  Each side had their 750 point force but at the bottom of both turn 1s, a spy would arrive for each side.  This unit had the stats of a Space Marine Captain including Iron Halo.  They had to be placed 12" away from your own units then scatter 2d6.  You could only score Line breaker with your spy but it would be worth 3 points.  We had a standard objective each as well.

So the match ups were my Inquisitorial force vs Daemons.  Orks vs Blood Angels and Tau vs Tyranids.

My forces met the Daemons in the ash wastes outside a storage complex.  The Inquisitorial mechanised forces formed a defensive line amongst the slag heaps.  Flesh Hounds lead by a Herald rushed the right flank using the terrain to counter fire lanes.  Invoking the Book of Names the Herald bolstered the Hounds save.  The Great Unclean One took a defensive position behind a massive heap to cover any agents escape while Daemonettes and Horrors headed toward my lines.

The spies arrived and the Daemonic agent hung safely on the left flank well behind the daemon infantry.  The Inquisitorial agent misplaced his rendezvous position and found itself deep in the enemy lines, end zone in sight but the Nurgle greater Daemon close by.

The Chimeras and acolytes within did their best to thin the Hound pack but their increased save and speed had them barrelling through the Imperials back lines.  The Inquisitorial agent failed to escape the GUO and did its best to fend off the monstrosity but the Iron Halo failed and he was destroyed.

The Daemons agent ran up the flank now dealing with the Flesh Hounds but last minute mass fire destroyed that agent as well.

I think the game was a draw or minor win to the Daemons and I learnt that the Flesh Hound pack is a very fast threat on the table.

Highlights from the Tau and Ork camps

Orks - Both spies happened to be in the same building! As they broke from cover they both got brutally cut down. This game ended a turn too early for the Orks to claim the necessary objective (only got 3 rounds in).

Tau - After a tactical withdrawal into the ruins outside of the city, the force was again ambushed, this time by the tyranids. Accurate fire from the sniper drones brought the big monsters down quickly and the fire warriors moved to secure vital supplies for the expedition. The headstrong commander wished to try his new onager siege gauntlet issued by the fire caste, leading his bodyguards into a withered ground of tyranid warrior class creatures. Severe almost mortal damage was averted thanks to overall control off the battlefield though the loss of all crises suits was disappointing. (Win 8-4)

If we were to play that scenario again the agents would have to come in like normal reserves as one player would always be at a disadvantage with both arriving at the same time, then one being very vulnerable.

This round resulted in an even bigger advantage to the Imperial Forces and their allies. Next round involves some resupplying

Sunday, June 2, 2013

High Elves - a couple games in

So since the High Elves came out last month I have managed to get a couple games in against Cody's Chaos Warriors.

Now I will point out that Cody is fairly new to Warhammer Fantasy so he is learning his army while I get to try out the new rules. I did get major wins in both games but have yet to play a more experienced Fantasy player.  A lot has already been said on many other blogs and forums so I apologise if I seem to be parroting what already has been said but this is after actual gameplay.

So things I have learnt..

Lords - Loremaster or Archmage, not both - They both have their uses.  In the first game I used a Loremaster with a large Swordmaster block in what I saw as a Hoeth themed list.  The ability to spam Magic missiles and buff the unit for combat with wildform was fantastic, nothing flash in CC though.  I did not miss the bonus to dispel but in a tournament environment it could bite me in the arse.  The second game had with with a ranged list and an Archmage.  I used Shadow and to good effect.  I got withering so forced that through onto prime targets.  An initiative drop from Miasma followed by Pit lay waste to a block of Chaos Warriors.  Really depends on your army build of course.  I used Alith Anar in the second game and was too eager with him, deploying him with Shadow Warriors behind the Chaos lines.  Unfortunately for Alith the Daemon Prince he shot twice with his portable Both thrower made both its Ward saves and 4++ only keeps you going so far.  I do think he has some great uses for his points and will use him again but from within my own lines.

Book of Hoeth - With either of the two casters above in your list of course it's an auto include.  I haven't made good use of it as I haven't faced an enemy caster of higher level but it will be invaluable.

Core - Nice to have the variety.  Reavers are great, I did take bows and spears on mine and 2 units did the trick against the Chaos chaff.  I used LSG in the first game about 25 strong.  They sat back and fired most of the game then reformed deep for combat in the final turns.  I think I'll stick with Archers, the extra range, cheaper cost and Martial Prowess make them a better all round choice as armour won't save your T3 elves in the long run.  Nothing wrong with Spearmen if you want to support your elite melee units but I wont need them yet. I used a 5 man Silver Helm unit in the second game, redirected some Skullcrushers and then died horribly, did what they were supposed to then.

Special - I used a unit of 21 Swordmasters with BotWD and they did alright but I was facing an army with a lot of magical attacks so not too fair for Cody's dual DPs or ensorcelled knights.  I like the Swordmasters but when you look hard at the White Lions and Phoenix Guard I just think they are better in a small supporting role.  In the second game I tryed White Lions with BotWD, sure less attacks than the SM but with Martial prowess, the extra strength and stubborn you can clearly see why they are the go to unit.  I would love to include a block of Phoenix Guard with Razor in a couple builds I've made but as I do not own any they can wait.  Shadow Warriors were a cheap nuisance so I can see myself always squeezing in a 5 man squad.  I used a 5 man Dragon Prince unit in the first game which got a lucky flank charge on some Skullcrushers and after some terrible Chaos saves ran the crushers down.  As others have noted a big unit isn't that flash so if I use them their unit size will stay small.  I have yet to try the others but plan on using some chariots.

Rare - The drop in price of the bolt throwers has been a blessing as with all the MC and MI about it gives some punch against them.  They have been effective in both games and with the different fire modes I'll be including 2+ in my lists.  I proxied some Sisters of Averlorn and had success with them.  The AP against evil doers and potential against regen and ethereal complements the rest of the shooting.  In both games I also proxied a Frost Phoenix, in both games it was great as a support unit to the combats with either the SM or WL.  It even saw off a Chimera in the first game.  I do however know that in the cannon rich tournament environment I play in it may not last long, I was usually lucky to have a functioning Terrorgheist in my VC but that's because I played with 2.  This really has me on the fence as to whether I spend the money on one or not.  Eagles still do the job well but with Reavers and cheap Silver helms you can spend those Rare points elsewhere.

So my current list I will try next looks like this, very Nagarythe themed but still functional and only slightly changed from what I used in the second game.  It is very shooting based but it's a nice point of difference from my Vampire Counts.

Alith Anar
Archmage level 4 - probably shadow, Book of Hoeth, Ironcurse Icon(I had 5 points)

Noble, BSB, heavy armour, Reaver Bow, enchanted shield

10 Archers, m
17 Archers, m, st
5 Reavers, bow/spears
5 Reavers, bow/spears
5 Silver Helms, shields, m

5 Shadow Warriors
Tiranoc Chariot
25 WL, fc, BotWD

5 Sisters

Now I was going to use the Frost Phoenix again but for 240 points can include another  BT and more Sisters.  3 Tiranoc chariots or 2 Lion Chariots?  Even more Shadow Warriors?

So please any suggestions would be welcome.