Archive for October, 2013

Wreck Restoration

Posted in 40K, Minis, Nostalgia with tags , , on October 27, 2013 by stingersix

I was watching this video on YouTube about these guys who restored a totally destroyed Sherman tank.

I was inspired. On a few occasions, I’ve had the chance to restore some jacked up models to fully painted glory. My Space Marine Drop Pods were the first – I have three of them and all were trashed when I got them. I stripped the paint, added some new parts where needed and voila, they look like they were assembled right off the sprue.

I actually enjoy the process of taking some poor model that has been ruined with a heavy coat of house paint (or somesuch), with broken and missing parts, and restoring them. I’ve recently come into a couple new acquisitions and I have plans for them – or at least one of them.

Once I have my Daemon army done, I mean to add an allied force of Chaos Space Marines, specifically, Kharn and a squad of Berzerkers deploying out of a Chaos Land Raider. I’ll eventually get the Kharn and ‘Zerker models, but I need a Land Raider. Well, at the swap meet we had at the store a couple months ago, I bought a trashed Land Raider hull for 5 bucks..

photoAll this bad boy needs is side sponsons, a turret and hatches. If I strip it and repaint it in glorious Khorne blood red, add a few spikey bits and I will have a suitable mount for my ‘Zerkers. The warsmiths of the Fallen pulled this out of a shellhole somewhere and commenced to twist whatever is left of its machine spirit to their own dark aims.

And there is this.20131027_152430Some of you kids may never have seen one of these or even know what this is.  This is an Old School Land Raider from the old Rogue Trader days of the late 1980’s. They were one of the first plastic kits GW produced, and they actually came 3 to a box! I don’t remember the price but they were maybe $35 or thereabouts. I know, outrageous! 😛

Anyway, this came into my hands via a woman who came into the store a couple weeks back with a box full of old minis stuff that belonged to her departed husband. She wanted to give it to us and we accepted. I opened the box and there it was. I didn’t hesitate to scurry of with it – I haven’t seen an old Land Raider like this for 20+ years!

Now, I could use this old warhorse for my ‘Zerker’s ride – say it was an old holdover from the Heresy or something. I think I can strip the paint off, though it looks like it might be Testor’s plastic model enamel. I could add some new bits – maybe update the lascannons?

What do you guys think?

On the Painting Table (Busy!)

Posted in 40K, Dropzone Commander, Minis with tags , , , on October 27, 2013 by stingersix

I seem to have a lot of stuff to work on at the moment. Dropzone Commander has hit the LZ on my painting desk and gone right to the top of the queue. I’ve got the Condor dropships done and I’m moving on to the vehicles and infantry. I don’t expect them to take very long and if I can steal a couple hours a night to work on them, I should be done with the UCM models by the end of next week.20131027_152329 Since these guys are basically army green, the key is detailing. So I’ve done line highlights and added decals and painted on some numbers. I’ll put the clear canopies on once I’ve sealed them.

Next up,  another pack of Khorne Fleshhounds for my ever-growing Daemon army. I ran out of color primer and had to put the doggies aside for a bit but I’ll be onto them again soon.20131027_152408

And I managed to get a game in with my Daemons against my friend Stephen’s CSM a couple weeks ago. It was loads of fun, and I enjoyed playing an army that can appear basically anywhere and has all kinds of random stuff happening to it (and their opponents) during the game. It rapidly became a big swirling melee. I didn’t expect to win, but I did. The Ultraforge Greater War Daemon looked great on the board and I’m glad (again) that I got it. Stephen’s Chaos Cultists distinguished themselves by blowing away a couple Bloodcrushers with a huge volley of fire, and then basically turning tail and running like hell as the Bloodthirster zeroed in on them. They even survived the game!20131007_203437 20131007_213941

And I am also working on a Space Marine Biker Captain/Chapter Master model that I got from Scibor. 20131027_154341This is a pretty cool model. It’s much bigger than a standard Space Marine bike and a fitting mount for a Captain or Chapter Master. The rider is bulky and looks to be wearing Terminator armor! The one thing this model didn’t have was a cowling over the front end. I got hold of the body of a Dark Eldar Venom and cut it up and filed it down and fitted it on and I think it looks a lot better now. I’m treating this as sort of a side project that I will work on in between higher priority stuff. Still, I might go full speed on this because it’s so cool!



Dropzone Commander = Win!

Posted in Battle Report, Dropzone Commander, Games with tags , , , on October 23, 2013 by stingersix

Dropzone Commander is, in a word, fun! The Dropzone was commanded!

(Scroll down for pics)

I got my first game in last night with Ian Chadwick. We used the models in the starter set – I played UCM and Ian took the Scourge. DZC was exactly what I was hoping for in a sci-fi minis game; it was dynamic, fast-paced and engaging.

First of all, it looks awesome all set up! The cityscape that comes with the starter set is an inspired bit of design. You get two poster maps, which are different and these fit together to form a grid of city streets. On top of this, you set up 10 card building that are also included. They fold out and are ready to go in no time at all. I usually don’t play without fully painted minis but Ian and I were so hot to try this game we just put them together and went for it. I did manage to get a coat of color primer on them and painted one dropship but even without paint, they looked awesome on the board! When we have our armies fully painted this game is just going to be brilliant! As a longtime Epic Space Marine fan, the larger scale is very appealing to me. You definitely get a greater sense of looking at an entire battlefield, of being in command of an entire operation instead of a smaller tactical engagement.

Any wargame that even attempts to predict the battlefield of the future needs to take the effect of technology on combat doctrine into account. Games like 40K are simply WW2 with lasers. Even Stargrunt (which I still love) is really Vietnam in space. DZC may not hit all the buttons but it certainly feels like it’s hitting a lot of them.

First off, all armies are entirely airmobile, or at least highly mobile (one race, the Shaltari, teleport around the battlefield). This means that the battlefield is a constantly changing environment as units can rapidly redeploy where needed and the game mechanics reflect this. For example, a UCM APC can move 4″ which isn’t horrible but a dropship can pick it up and move it up to 9″ in one turn. Since all units can do this, it means that simply driving forward on the ground is more of a last resort – you only really do it unless your dropships are gone. In the game we played, the APCs drove on the ground the last few inches to their objectives after disembarking from their dropships (which then pulled back into cover somewhere, waiting on station for the call for dustoff).

Many minis games I have played feel very static compared to DZC. Even mobile armies in 40K don’t move like DZC units do (of course the different scales make a difference here). In DZC, if you find that things are happening somewhere else on the battlefield, you really can redeploy all the way across the map in very short order. Early in our game, I flew in with an infantry unit, occupied and objective building on T1, located the objective on T2, then re-embarked and got it off the map! Granted I was lucky on the search roll, but man it was fast!

After that it looked like things were developing on the opposite side of the map, so I started picking up units and flying them over that way. Later, when I found my heavy tanks a bit out of position, again I picked them up and flew them where they needed to be. The ground units did drive around some of course, but when they needed to cover longer distance, they could call in the dropships to pick them up.

So, the game makes the dropships and transports extremely important. Lose your mobility and your chances of success drop rapidly. Late game, one of Ian’s APCs was hauling ass for the board edge with an objective. The only units I had in range that could stop him were my AA tanks, which are fortunately also effective against ground units (unlike Scourge AA tanks). I took out his APC, but his infantry survived (luckily for him). I wasn’t able to stop him from scoring for holding that objective, but there was no way he was getting off the board with those infantry, which wound up diving into a building to hide until game end.

The dynamic game play also means that the momentum and initiative can shift rapidly. I had the lead early on, but Ian was in position to score late game. As unit attrition wore me down, it became clear that Ian was set up for an end run, which he managed to pull off for the win (barely – had I killed his infantry in the destroyed APC, we would have been tied on objectives). The sequence of play uses alternate unit activation, which I vastly prefer over Igo-Ugo systems. Since you roll for initiative every turn, this has a big effect on tactics and your choice of what units to move and when. It also means you’re never sitting around waiting for your turn for very long.

Many weapons have infinite range (basically LOS) unless firing at a unit with active countermeasures, which brings the ranges down to 36″ or (much) less. This feels right as a railgun or laser should have no trouble engaging something it can see. Infantry in the open are thus extremely vulnerable as they have no countermeasures (usually). The best they can hope for is to be ignored. But since they are the only units capable of entering buildings where the objectives often are, they’re priority targets. On foot, they only have a 2″ move. Once they’re inside a building, it’s often better to try and take the building down to kill the infantry (though some buildings are quite tough).

This brings another element of the game into play – CQB (Close Quarters Battle). Infantry vs infantry fights usually are going to happen inside a building, and the game makes this go very quickly. One side or the other will be wiped out or broken in one round. My dice crapped out me (rolling only 3 hits on 12 dice needing 4+ – I rolled 5 1’s and the rest 2’s and 3’s!) and Ian’s Scourge warriors killed two squads and broke the other one. Despite that, I like this – the image of two opposing platoons fighting like vicious rats inside a building captures the tension and terror of CQB quite well.

So, all that put together made for a very fun game. Even though we were stopping often to look things up, I can see that once we have the rules down, this will go much much faster. Understanding how units embark and disembark their transports, the way units move and the possibilities that opens up is the key to DZC.

On top of all that, the story and background is also cool. It has shades of Mass Effect and Babylon 5 running throughout. I like the idea that although humanity lost the Earth, it has recovered and is now launching a massive counteroffensive to take it back. In that regard it is a universe where there is still hope, as opposed to the relentless grimdark of other game worlds. There is also room for more new races in the future, beyond the four already in the game. I understand the Hawk Wargames is working on a rebel army list, allowing you to play the stay-behind survivors of the Scourge invasion, and these guys roll out in these awesome looking Mad Max style trucks and whatnot. The aliens are well thought out too, and the armies really do play quite differently.

To sum up, I’m super happy with the DZC starter set! You get a ton of great stuff for about $100. Just go check it out on the Hawk Wargames website. Ian and I are already looking forward to picking up some of the other units and expanding our armies!

Pics below!

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Dropzone Commander first impression

Posted in Games with tags on October 17, 2013 by stingersix

Just got my hands on a copy of the Dropzone Commander Starter Set. I was interested in this game before but now I’m super hot to play it. The production values are off the chart, the minis are top notch and the game looks like a blast to play. Finding a real high-tech themed, hard-SF minis game these days is not so easy and Dropzone Commander looks to take the top spot here. It strongly reminds me of Mass Effect in its themes (particularly the idea that Earth was lost to alien invaders and humanity is launching a counterattack to reconquer the homeworld) and designs.

You can find videos and pictures of the minis all over the place, so I won’t post any pics till I have the set painted. I’m going straight for the UCM minis since they’re closest to real-world military paint schemes. I figure Army Painter color primer will make these go super quick and I can get them into action fast. Ack, can’t wait to get some painting time in again!

Now, longtime readers of this blog will know I love me some hard-SF gaming and Stargrunt has been my game of choice for that for a long time (even though I haven’t played in a couple years). But Stargrunt always felt a bit dated in terms of the in-universe tech and how it was represented in-game, and especially how the technological capabilities of the races involved was reflected in their combat doctrine. In DZC, the central tactical idea is that the entire force is airmobile and can deploy and redeploy very rapidly. Range is effectively LOS – the whole table – unless your target has countermeasures going. Infantry combat is extremely deadly and troops don’t last long, so their fight is usually contained to the interiors of buildings. Now, maybe DZC doesn’t cover it all perfectly, but it sure feels a lot more like a future-tech battle environment than 40K’s WW2 with lasers or Stargrunt’s Vietnam war in space.

On top of all that, the scale is 10mm, putting it between Epic’s 6mm and Flames of War’s 15mm. Though 10mm may be a bit odd, I love any game that takes battles up to a real company or even battalion level. The sense of being a dropzone commander and not just a platoon leader will definitely be there while playing.

Makes me want to go play Mass Effect again too! 😀

Clubbing baby seals

Posted in Blather with tags on October 4, 2013 by stingersix

Here’s a question. When you want to introduce someone to a new game, and sit down to play with them for the first time, do you let them win so as to not discourage them and bring them back to the table?

With good friends whom I know well, I do my best to win, play fair and teach them the game at the same time. I will give advice about the best moves to make, or present the potential outcomes of an action so they can choose what to do.

When I teach a game to someone I’ve never met before, usually in my capacity as a representative of the store, I definitely go easy on them. I do much the same thing as when I’m teaching a friend, but with a stranger, I will sometimes make a sub-optimal move. But for the most part, I’m less invested in winning the game than I am teaching it and showing the other person a good time. If they tell me to cut loose, that’s fine and I’ll do my best to win. I just feel that when you’re trying to show someone a good time, crushing them utterly doesn’t help toward that goal. The goal is teaching the game, not winning.

I’ve been on the receiving end of the baby seal clubbing, and it has soured my experience and put me off a game or two here and there over the years. Only human I suppose.

All that said, it’s not like I win a lot of games anyway! 😛