Archive for Rules

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.

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Random musings on 40K

Posted in 40K, Blather with tags , , on August 24, 2012 by stingersix

I’m going to hold forth a few opinions about 40K 6th edition here. First, I do not consider myself an expert on the 40K game by any stretch. I only have a grand total of twelve 5th edition and five 6th edition games under my belt. That said, I am an experienced gamer, and my history with miniatures gaming, including 40K, goes back 30+ years now (geez), so at least my opinions are informed by this experience.

First, I’ll say I really like 6th edition a lot, much more than 5th. The new game has a lot of tools geared for the way I like to play miniatures games, which is basically as 3D representations of a story. Yes, I’m Mr. Narrative gamer. For this reason, I think I find myself liking a lot of the things the more competitive 40K players dislike. I’ll comment on each.

Allies – Love it. And I like the way it was implemented in 6th. The “tiers” of allies and the way they work together was a smart move and it encourages either going into a game with a narrative, or supports developing one out of the game you’re playing. With allies you can certainly and more easily set up a game inspired by, say, one of the 40K novels. For example, I’m reading Know No Fear right now, and there is a great battle scene with the Ultramarines, Imperial Army (not Guard yet) and Adeptus Mechanicus on one side, and Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Daemons and Cultists on the other. This scene got me thinking about how to make a similar 40K scenario.

RCL (Random Charge Length) – Doesn’t bother me at all. Lots of minis games I have played have something similar. Stargrunt does and yeah, I’ve blown a a few charges in that game too. War is hell. The way I see the RCL question in 6th is, how much of a risk are you willing to take? If you simply play like you did in 5th and close to 6″ before charging, you will probably get in. Sure the dice may hose you, but the law of averages is on your side – you’re more likely to roll a 7 than anything else on 2d6.

Similarly, if you start your charge at a greater distance, well, that’s a risk/reward thing. You could try for a 12″ charge but really, you probably won’t get it. If you do, it’s awesome, right? Again, you most likely won’t. But ask yourself, in what situation would you take such an outrageous risk as that? Maybe the last turn of a game, and it’s the only chance you have of getting a dedicated CC unit into action where it might help? Sure, go for it. You declare, survive the overwatch, roll 2d6 and…wow, you got a 12! You’re in! You and your gaming buddies will remember that one won’t you!

Now, I understand how discouraging it is to be within, say, 4″ and roll snakeyes, leaving your dudes standing there like a bunch of chumps. But again, it was an unlikely result. And more than that, you can build your narrative from it. The Bloodletters were all set to rip into the IG, but they bricked and rolled snakeyes. What could explain that? Maybe the IG guys held them off with the strength of their faith in the Emperor? Maybe they did their regiment’s equivalent of a haka dance? Or maybe it was just the viccisitudes of Chaos? You decide.

RCL is like life – sometimes you suck, sometimes you rock.

Overwatch – Absolutely love it. Lotta 40K players seemed to have shat themselves when they first heard of this. But overwatch fire is a staple of many other wargames and I looked forward to it being in 40K. Nothing in 5th bothered me as much as watching a line of enemy troops come at me and not being able to react in a sensible (i.e. blasting them) way when they charged me.

Overwatch in 6th sounds scary but hey, you still need to roll a 6 to hit. Naturally this makes overwatch fire from large units more likely to cause damage and I’ve seen some moaning about this too. But my reply is, then why the hell are you charging a huge unit without thinning it down some first?

Overwatch in 6th instantly made the game more tactical and I like it. Overwatch and RCL also kind of go together. Say you declare your unit is charging from a distance of 6″. You lose a couple guys to the resulting overwatch fire and now your closest unit is 8″ away. In 5th, your charge was stopped right there, since you could only charge 6″. But now, when you roll for RCL, you still have a chance of getting to grips with the bastards.

Other observations – Seen a few comments about Power Fists being less useful now. I dunno, I had my Captain squish an Eldar Avatar’s head with one in a game a couple weeks ago, so they seem pretty good to me.

Same moaning about Power Swords being AP3. “They can’t kill Terminators!” So what? Hit the Terminators with something that can kill them! Terminators still die if you force enough saves on them. And that complaint sorta assumes that you’re always facing Terminators with your Power Sword armed units. These weapons will still ruin your day. I know I don’t want a unit of say, Bloodletters, getting a charge off on any of my units that isn’t a Terminator (which is most of them)!

Challenges – Perhaps the most ‘cinematic’ rule in the game and I like it. A few months back, Adan and I played a game that was set up to get the leaders of each army into personal combat with each other. We had to contrive that clash, but now, the rules encourage and support an event like that! Yay!

There are ways to mitigate challenges. If your opponent doesn’t declare one, you can. You can throw a scrub against the challenger as a sacrifice. But my approach at the moment is, challenge accepted! Go for it! Get that awesome fight going! If the scrub wins the fight, wow, super awesome! Plus this – if I issue a

challenge to your unit and you have a badass IC, and you decline the fight with that IC and send a scrub in his place, well, you may tarpit me or win, or whatever, but I still get to taunt you for having your IC run for the rear! Sure, there are times when having some other character take the challenge makes sense, but yeah, you big chicken, you knew you just couldn’t hang. 😛

Vehicles – Still don’t have enough games in to tell one way or the other, but I don’t think the changes to the vehicle rules are so terrible. Lotta people say vehicles don’t last as long but so far I see them lasting about as long as they always have. Some gripe that massed infantry fire from certain armies (like Necrons) will blow up vehicles. Well, if that big squad of ‘Crons is shooting at my Rhino, they aren’t shooting at my Marines and I’ll be seeing them soon enough.

I’ve already had the majority of the vehicles I’ve brought in my 6e games survive the entire battle. If anything, hull points seems to have prolonged their lives.

And being able to shoot on the move, yeah, I love it. Doesn’t matter if I need to roll a 6, I can still open up. Should’ve always been this way, as far as I’m concerned.

So, to sum up, I’m a fan of 40K 6th edition and the change it brings. As a “narrative” gamer, this new edition has a lot of things in it that I like. I am having fun with it and that’s really what I want to do most. I expect to play this a lot in the years ahead.

Just because you can…

Posted in 40K, Blather with tags , , on July 19, 2012 by stingersix

…Doesn’t mean you should.

I haven’t said anything about the new 40K 6th edition yet. Though I’ve yet to play a game of it, I already think I like it more than 5th. Some of the stuff in there allows for more random events and I like that. One thing that has people talking is the possibility of taking Allies as part of your force.

I’m pretty strong on fluff (and some say 6th is the fluff gamer’s game) so I was very glad to see the inclusion of Allies. I can already see wanting to take a few Grey Knights along with my Marines in the ongoing campaign I’m playing with my friend Adan – not because they kick ass (which I’m sure they do) but because having them fighting alongside the Rising Suns would perfectly suit the story we’ve created (err, excuse me…”the narrative we’ve forged” – do I need to add a copyright on there, GW?).

Space Marines are:

Battle Brothers (close allies) with: Black Templar, Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Imperial Guard, Space Wolves and Tau (go figure). Those all make perfect sense to me, except for maybe the Tau – when did the Imperium decide to be friends with the space communists? Need to dig into the fluff section a bit more. Anyway, I can live with it. Of all of those potential allies, I’m most likely to bro-fist the IG, since I prefer the idea of serving alongside some no-name IG regiment rather than having a detachment of those more famous Hollywood Astartes Chapters stealing my thunder!

Allies of Convenience with: Eldar, Grey Knights and Sisters of Battle. Again, these all make sense. The way I play, with a story as a foundation for these mini-campaigns I like to do, I can see the tension between the regular Space Marines and these allies fitting right in.

Desperate Allies with: Dark Eldar, Necrons, Orks: Right, just because you can…etc. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I stoop so low as to add these guys to any list I run! The only place for these xenos armies is crushed under the treads of my tanks!

Come the Apocalypse: Chaos Daemons, Chaos Space Marines, Tyranids. Kill ’em all, let the Emperor sort ’em out.

From a pure marketing standpoint, I think the addition of Allies is a brilliant move. Sell more models! I mean, I was already thinking about doing a small IG strike force. But now, what about a small GK detachment? Or a few Eldar corsairs? Or…

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should, he said…

New Year’s Resolution and looking ahead

Posted in Blather with tags , , , on January 2, 2011 by stingersix

Happy New Year!

Decided to make a New Year’s resolution with regard to minis (no, I’m not going to quit)!

This year, I’m going to keep better track of my projects and my output.The at the end of the year, I’ll tally it all up and see what it looks like.

The only project I have going currently is my jungle pyramid, but soon I’ll be doing a painting challenge with some of the guys I play Stargrunt with.

For the challenge, I plan on doing a squad of Pig Iron’s System Troopers. If they come out nice, I may turn them into a whole platoon.

I also have the urge to paint some more Space Marines, and I may get another squad or two. I have no desire to play 40K though, since every time I look at the rules to that game I end up rolling my eyes.

I’m still a devotee of Stargrunt, though I am seriously looking forward to Tomorrow’s War from Ambush Alley Games, slated to come out from Osprey later this year. I haven’t found set of minis rules I liked more than Stargrunt, but the old ‘Grunt does have plenty of flaws. Since Tomorrow’s War seems to be the spiritual successor to Stargrunt, I’m definitely on board.

So, lots to look forward to!

This Quar’s War – Uh-oh, they got me!

Posted in Minis with tags , on June 21, 2009 by stingersix

I got a copy of the quirky but very cool This Quar’s War as a (belated) birthday present today. This Quar’s War is a miniatures game with a WW1 feel, using some odd looking miniatures that I wasn’t into at first and now find myself strangely drawn to. The Quar design has a sort of retro, Ralph Bakshi/Vaughn Bode/Cobalt 60 look that I’ve always found interesting.

The rulebook is very well done, with a clean and attractive layout and excellent art. My friend Chris who gave me the book was one of the playtesters and had the artist draw a picture on the inside cover, which is very cool. On first blush, it also looks very playable and I have a feeling that once I finish my Spacelords, I’ll be getting myself a platoon’s worth of Quar!

Stargrunt

Posted in Review with tags , , , on June 17, 2009 by stingersix

I want to talk a bit about Stargrunt, which has been my preferred minis game for the past 3 years or so. This is not a new game – in fact, it’s 13 years old, having been published by Ground Zero Games in 1996. Actually the proper name of the game is Stargrunt II, the original having been a smaller set of self published rules.

Stargrunt is designed for 25mm minis but works just as well with 15mm or 28mm minis, and the design philosophy is basically “bring whatever you want to the table”. That’s an attitude I like and it allows you to exercise your creativity when making up your forces and the fluff to go with them. Ground Zero Games has their fluff and background but by no means requires you to use it.

With the very small group of players I managed to cultivate, we’ve had a great time designing a setting in which to set our battles. Check out this thread on the Endgame forums to see what we’ve done, and this thread for a battle report.

So what’s to like about this game? Like any game, it is designed to deliver on a certain set of demands and expectations. Now, I’ve played quite a few minis games, including 40K (admittedly, 20 years ago, but anyway) and most of them at the 28mm scale focus on the individual trooper. Sure, they’re usually part of a unit but generally the rules treat each figure on the table separately.

That’s fine, but it’s important to realize that makes most games like this are skirmish games. I find that with a lot of skirmish style games, the sort of fire and movement tactics I’d like to employ are hard to use or not really effective. Skirmish games also often have a strong focus on individual hero figures who do most of the ass kicking, or suck up a lot of points and just get killed. Again, I don’t mind this in a skirmish game, but I like playing games at a slightly higher level of focus – platoon or company level tactics.

And that’s what Stargrunt does. Units act as whole units, firing, checking morale and performing other actions as a unit. When you open fire for example, you don’t roll a die for each figure in the unit, you roll one die for the unit’s overall firepower, and its training (plus a die for any integral support weapons).

I really like this, particularly the idea of the unit’s troop quality level determining the effectiveness of its fire. Green units for example, engage targets at a much shorter range and effectiveness than an elite unit, which only makes sense. The game streamlines this by matching the basic range band unit to their quality and linking that to the type of die they roll. A Green unit for example, has a basic range band of 6″ and rolls a d6. This makes it fairly easy to remember what to roll.

And generally everything is an opposed roll so you’re always involved. The turn sequence also keeps your eyes on the table since players alternate moving their units. So rather than waiting for other other guy to move all his units, you move a squad, he moves a squad, and so on.

You really feel Stargrunt’s focus on troop quality and morale in play. High quality troops truly can do more with less. Since pinning units with suppressing fire is a valid and viable tactic in this game, having good troops can make a big difference. In one game I witnessed, the attacking player had Veteran troops and the defender had Green troops. The Veteran troops kept taking Suppression markers but were able to shrug them off and keep going fairly easily. The Green troops on the other hand, tended to get Suppressed and stay that way.

In Stargrunt your commanders actually command as opposed to playing Rambo. The big benefit of having a platoon or company commander on the field is their ability to reactivate units that have already had their actions, thus giving them another turn essentially. Seeing this particular feature in play is really quite interesting. Skillful use of this ability can really widen your tactical options.

So, Stargrunt has a very “realistic” feel to it, if you want to employ squad level tactics that simulate their real-world application. The textbook way of taking out an enemy position is to suppress it with one fire team, flank it with another, and then close on it and destroy it. You can do this in Stargrunt. Charging headlong in the open against an enemy that is not suppressed results in what you would expect, your broken and routing squad.

The game is not perfect. The layout is not user friendly, with the order of the chapters not flowing intuitively from one to the other. There has only ever been one edition, and if there were to be a second, I would ask for a complete reorganization of the rules, and an index. The writing is not always clear and needs to be tightened up, and there are a lot of little omissions and things that aren’t exactly clearly stated. Plus there is a bit of a learning curve compared to many other minis games. It’s not difficult, it’s just that there are a lot of things to soak up. Despite this, once you get the game going and start to realize just what it can do, it’s a lot of fun. Stargrunt has more depth than you might think.

Stargrunt is out of print, but not unavailable. Print copies can be had (complete with a set of the game’s counters) for just 5 bucks! You can also download a copy of the rules absolutely free from Ground Zero Games as well!

There aren’t too many Stargrunt websites, but one of the best that leads to most of the others is Stargrunt.ca and HyperBear is another excellent Stargrunt site.

The Pig Iron minis I’ve painted recently were all done for games of Stargrunt, and the focus of my collecting and painting right now is building platoons for Stargrunt.

I’m always up for a game of Stargrunt! Drop me a line if you want to give it a try!