Archive for January, 2014

DZC Army – Aurum 111th Drop Regiment “Black Scorpions”

Posted in Dropzone Commander, Minis with tags , , , on January 25, 2014 by stingersix

I have finally got my Dropzone Commander army past the starter set stage and at a reasonable level and variety for some more involved games. Not knowing how to build a DZC army, I took the default option of acquiring the “Clash” army models shown in the rulebook on page 87, with an eye toward expanding it to the “Battle” level on the same page.

The great thing about painting at this scale is how fast it goes compared to 28mm (for obvious reasons). I got most of this done within a month, which is pretty quick for me. I also was able to compare the build of the plastic Condor to the resin version. They’re pretty close and the resin version has just a bit more detail actually. The only really big difference is the resin model has a molded canopy where the plastic one has a clear canopy.

So, the Hawk Wargames resin models have been pretty good. I have spotted a few bubbles and thin bits here and there, but certainly no worse than most GW Finecast models I’ve worked with and usually better. Another good comparison was the Bear APC resin model. It was two pieces split lengthwise. Once fitted together it looked dead on like the plastic Bear APCs. The other big resin model is the Albatross, a massive multi-vehicle dropship, which kinda looks about as ungainly as its namesake. I can’t say it’s a beautiful design, it’s kinda ugly in fact. But it seems to be a useful model in the game so we’ll see how it goes.

The only metal models so far are the Praetorian infantry. These are pretty clean sculpts with decent detail for their scale. I wasn’t sure how they’d paint up but they came out looking pretty good.

So, pics!

2014-01-25 00.23.56 2014-01-25 00.29.47 2014-01-25 00.30.11 2014-01-25 00.33.36 2014-01-25 00.34.08 2014-01-25 00.35.00 2014-01-25 00.35.39 2014-01-25 00.35.52

Advertisements

DZC Lessons Learned

Posted in Dropzone Commander with tags , , , on January 8, 2014 by stingersix

Had another great game of Dropzone Commander with Stephen Bajza last night. As I get more games under my belt, I’m feeling more confident with the rules and understanding the tactics and flow of the game. It really is a good game that sets up a lot of tense situations. Steve called it ‘structured chaos’ I think was what he said. Because the initiative can shift each turn, and with the alternating turn order, things on the table are constantly changing and you have to stay on your toes, prioritizing your moves and targets.

A few general things I’m getting so far:

  • If you win the first initiative roll, letting your opponent go first allows you to see where the focus of his effort will be, and lets you deploy your infantry last (and hopefully outside his AA envelope). There is something to be said for going first on T1 though, especially if you’re the Scourge, because it is often possible for you to be inside a target building on T1. There’s a lot to be said for making your opponent react to you with an aggressive move that is hard to counter.
  • UCM in general don’t need to close with the enemy. They out-range the Scourge with almost every weapon they have. They are slower though, and need to watch out for fast-moving enemy.
  • Scourge want to do the opposite and close as fast as possible. If you’re going to do this, go in with numbers to present your opponent with multiple targets to spread his fire. Attacking with massed forces in general is a good idea.
  • Don’t forget you do an extra damage point if you roll 2 better than you need on the damage roll!
  • If you find yourself spread out too much, or out of position, call for dustoff, get the dropships in, and move them. You can wrongfoot an opponent that isn’t expecting you to pick up a whole battlegroup and move it. This is one of the main features of DZC in my opinion – the ability to rapidly redirect the direction and focus of your maneuver is powerful and an awesome part of the game!
  • Protect your dropships and transports! You’re utterly crawling without them. That said, once the units they transport are gone, that orphaned dropship can at least put fire on enemy units (unless you need to keep it alive to save kill points). Flying on the deck when you move isn’t as risky as it sounds I think (this coming from the guy who rolls 1’s like a champ), and protects from potential reaction AA fire.
  • Infantry in buildings can be dug in like Alabama ticks. But if they move to the windows to fire at you, fire back! Most infantry have no countermeasures so you’re at full range – even machine guns can do damage in this case, so light ’em up! You’ll need 5’s and 6’s because of soft and body cover, but if you’re volleying a whole squad, that’s a lot of dice.
  • If you’re going to try to take down a building, you’ve got to mean it, since they’re usually pretty tough, so if you haven’t got any better target, hit a structure. They have no countermeasures and so you can shoot at full range and always hit on a 2+. You should have a decent chance of doing Falling Masonry damage to infantry cowering inside. Scourge players! Don’t forget your MBTs have the Demolisher special rule! Nasty!
  • If you’re doing an objective search with infantry, keep your APC and dropship nearby and hidden. Ideally, you don’t want to have to move either the APC or the dropship toward the infantry they’re picking up. The grunts should be able to pile straight out of the building into the APC, which rolls right into the dropship, which punches it and hightails it for the board edge.
  • When it looks like you’re gonna have to engage in CQB, try to outnumber the enemy. This is not new news! One-to-one fights are going to come down to who rolls better. Bring numbers, quality or preferably both.

I’ve only played with the units and the scenario in the starter set so far, so I expect things to change as I expand my familiarity with the game, but these things seem to be decent basic strategies to stand on.

Vinland Saga – An inspiration to paint

Posted in Blather, Historical, Review with tags , , on January 6, 2014 by stingersix

I’m setting up the next installment of the SAGA campaign at the store (kicking off on Feb.9) and looking at my Jomsvikings that are in need of priming and painting. But, I was given an inspirational kick in the pants by a co-worker who left a couple comp copies of the superlative viking manga, Vinland Saga, on my desk at work. Vinland Saga is, hands down, one of the best manga I have ever read.

20140106_125214Creator Makoto Yukimura (who also did the sci-fi epic Planetes) isn’t writing some silly bastardization of history – the man’s done his research. It’s set in early 11th century England, during the period when the Danish Vikings under Sweyn Forkbeard were trying to consolidate their territories in England. The story is about a boy, Thorfinn, who has a serious deathwish, trying to avenge himself on Askeladd, the man who killed his father. Their relationship is a complex one, and Thorfinn’s development as a character is as difficult as they come.

This story is set against a grand historical backdrop, and brings in the rise of Canute the Great, who later ruled over the North Sea Empire of the Danes. It’s well done on all levels – the art, the background, the characters, the story, everything. The depiction of Danish, Saxon and Scandinavian culture is extremely well done and respectful.

It’s also gritty and bloody as hell too, on the level, occasionally, of Berserk (if you know that one) but not gore for gore’s sake. It’s bloody because it has to be – I mean, if you chop someone in the collarbone with a sword or an axe it’s not going to look very pretty is it? This story shows how brutal and tough life was for people back then. Many characters are traumatized or hardened by the violent world they live in, including Thorfinn. It really gets into the characters’ heads and how the harsh and violent culture they live in shapes their way of thinking.

In Japanese, the series has about 12 volumes out right now and it’s still going. Kodansha is putting it out in English and while they’ve done a good job, I SO wish we could have done it. I know I would have devoted everything I had to making it the best ever. Anyway, if you’re interested in Vikings, Dark Ages history, Saga, minis wargaming, manga, and graphic novels, seriously, ALL the stars have aligned for you right here. Vinland Saga even features the Jomsvikings! Even if you don’t like graphic novels and/or manga, if you’re into Saga, I highly recommend reading this series.

And that has all inspired me to get busy on my Jomsviking minis for Saga! As the sort of Delta Force of the Dark Ages, I like the sheer range and awesome power of the abilities they have in the game. I should also be able to have the ready relatively quickly, since their army doesn’t have a high model count. It’s also got me reading a bit about the Varangian Guard, and whoever the Jomsvikings might have been. Anyway, it’s cool when your interests, hobbies and work all line up!

20140102_075729

How to lose at Dropzone Commander!

Posted in Battle Report, Dropzone Commander with tags , on January 4, 2014 by stingersix

Had my first game of 2014 the other day. I played Dropzone Commander with Chris R. It was a real cock-up of a game for me, as far as playing goes. I dunno where my head was at (up my backside apparently) but while I very effectively showed Chris how to play the game, he showed me how to play the game.

Starter set scenario, starter set forces. Chris is the UCM, I’m the Scourge (first time for me playing the Scourge). Here’s the table after T1. Chris has wisely deployed all his armor, with the AA tanks up top and Sabers in the middle. His infantry are still mounted up and driving for the central objective building.  I have only deployed my infantry into the objective building at the bottom (see the second pic – I couldn’t get the whole board in the frame). My Hunters are still embarked in the Maruader behind the building. My AA Reapers are in the Marauder at the top there. Do you see the glaring mistake I made?

20140102_143923 20140102_143946

 

This is what happens when you run your fully-loaded dropship into range and LOS of the enemy AA tanks… You see ’em back there?
20140102_144539

Yep, lost the entire battlegroup in one go. Chris got 8 hits, IIRC, and then rolled 6 damage (plus whatever extra for high rolls – it was awful). Then he rolled a 6 on the Destroyed Aircraft Table. Boom!

Then, mesmerized by the flickering flames of my crashed dropship (and caught in the grip of stupidity), I disembarked the Hunters and drove them into the position you see below. Of course, they couldn’t fire because they’d unloaded.

Before…

20140102_150019

After.

20140102_152007

Hey, where’d my tanks go? Ooohh, dey gone! Chris duly smoked them with his Sabers. You will also note that he has begun working over the building where my infantry are hiding. I did find my objective though, and have already trucked it off the board at this point. Then we spent the next couple turns in a firefight with the infantry I did have left. The building they were in was worked over with railguns, machine guns and missiles, and my infantry we getting whittled away.

20140102_153200Although I was getting massacred, I was still winning by T4, with one objective removed. But on T4, Chris’ infantry found their objective and legged it, getting it off the board on T5. We were then tied and Chris was clearly going to win the tie on kill points, so we were both angling for the last remaining objective. All I had left was a Marauder and couldn’t stop him, but he also couldn’t get into the building to search it in time. So, game end with a tie on VPs, soundly broken in favor of the UCM on kill points.

Hats off to Chris for the win and a fun game regardless! I played terribly though I was using the Scourge for the first time, and they are very different from the UCM. We’re going to have a rematch this Sunday and see if I can’t remove my head from my backside!

 

Heralding a New Year!

Posted in Blather, Games, WIP on January 2, 2014 by stingersix

One of the last miniatures I completed in 2013 was this Herald of Khorne.

DSC00023 DSC00024 DSC00025 DSC00026 DSC00027

While I like the model, it’s Finecast and was a bit of a pain to prep – soooo many bits to trim and flash to remove. Also, the smaller pointy bits, like the claws are super fragile and a couple of them broke off. The sword also broke at the hilt. This model in plastic would be so much better. Anyway, it came out nice, so i just need to handle with care. I also did another squad of Bloodletters but you know what those look like so no pics this time.

My mono-Khorne Daemon army is nearing what I will call “complete”. My next main unit will be a Soul Grinder (and another accompanying squad of Bloodletters). Once they’re done, I should be able to get about 1850 points of Big Red Angry Daemons on the table. At that point, I mean to make a small force of accompanying Chaos Space Marine allies (for the shooty-ness, which Khorne daemons utterly lack). This will be a simple force – Kharne and a squad of Berzerkers rolling in a Land Raider. I need Troops though and for that I will use the Cultists from the Dark Vengeance box.

The Land Raider will be an interesting build. I have a trashed LR hull I got at the EndGame minis swap meet last year that I intend to restore. I figure a CSM Warpsmith hauled the burned out hulk off a battlefield somewhere and is dreaming up ways to revive and corrupt its machine spirit. I need to buy a few bits for it – lascannon sponsons and hatches and whatnot. It will be blood red of course, and I picked up some Forge World etched brass Khorne icons for it too.

photo

40K will not be my only miniatures project focus this year of course. We are getting ready to go full throttle with Dropzone Commander at the store this year, and we even have a demo day for the game coming up on January 18th! I’ve been getting more and more excited about playing DZC. It’s fast tempo and scale is a refreshing change of pace from the relatively plodding pace of 40K. I’m working on my second set of UCM minis from the starter set and I’m looking forward to expanding my army with additional units.

20140102_074114

And you see that Sherman tank on the work table there? That is of course for Bolt Action, the WW2 minis game that we’re also hoping to give a bit of a push to at the store this year as well. I have almost finished the last of the infantry platoon that I’m working on at the store (about 45 models) which will give me a good selection of stuff to play around with. I have yet to actually play Bolt Action, but I’m looking forward to it.

SAGA is also occupying my painting schedule at the moment. We are kicking off a new campaign at the store in February, and I am preparing to paint an army of Jomsvikings. These models by Gripping Beast are fairly easy and quick to paint and I will probably get onto them later this month. They’re assembled and based and ready to prime. 20140102_075729SAGA continues to be a favorite game of mine and it’s got a solid following at the store. I had a good time playing the Anglo-Danes last year and the Jomsvikings are a power army that I’m excited about fielding.

 

All this painting has me looking at ways to push my skills a bit more, and the one thing I’ve been trying to do for a while is learn to really use an airbrush. I’ve been occasionally using a cheap one for basecoating and such, and I have to say it’s been a challenge. But as I gradually get the hang of it, I think it’s time to try and really push myself. I asked for and received a Badger SOTAR 20/20 airbrush for Christmas (thanks Mom!).

20140102_074733

This airbrush is designed for detail work, capable of hairlines and generally small patterns. I can still use a cheap airbrush for basecoating, but this one I hope will allow me to really get some interesting effects done. I need to buy a compressor and I’ll use some Xmas money for that. I’m still on the very steep side of the airbrush learning curve and it will take time and practice before I feel comfortable with it, but I’m looking forward to getting there!

Man, that’s four games I’m painting minis for at the moment! No wonder I feel like I have no time! I’ve been keeping all this straight by using a kanban board, specifically, Kanban Flow. You can do this with a pen and paper, or post-it notes but the online version is easy enough to use. I also use this to track my work projects for VIZ and it’s great!

screen

 

So, it looks like a great start to the new year. Lots of cool games to play and minis to paint, and I’m excited to see what new things hit the gaming tables in 2014!