Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Kings of War First Impressions

As I mentioned in the August update, I have been playing a bit of Kings of war lately.  With Games Workshop pulling the plug on their fantasy community, there has been a general sense of apathy locally.

The local meta has always been a much stronger fantasy group than a 40k, or any other game system for that matter. A number of the members of the former blog switched to playing fantasy fairly heavily after the exodus from 40k after 6th ed came out. If I were to guess the total local WFB community a few months ago prior to Age of Sigmar, I would have put it over 20 players who were active.  After Age of Sigmar, the community began to search for a game that would scratch their fantasy mass combat itch.  At first it appeared that Avatar of War's Warthrone was gaining traction, but after Bayou Battles and the announcement that a number of GTs would be switching to Kings of War by Mantic Games for their next years events there was a surge of interest in the game system.

Earlier in the year I had bought heavily into an Ogre Kingdoms army when the initial rumors of 9th ed were just beginning to float around. I had tried to get into 8th ed a couple of times in the past but since the army I had was a finesse army I never enjoyed the learning experience.  Once AoS came out I was crushed because I realized quickly that the army I had just bought earlier in the year no longer had a game I cared to play them in.  I tried to read the rules for Warthrone, but I found them to be a little too daunting for me since I didn't have the background that the writer felt that the readers probably would.  Then Mantic released the rules pdf for Kings of War 2.0. I could tell almost right away that I would enjoy the rules set.

After Gencon, Capnwoodrow posted to the TSE gamers group on Facebook that he had played a demo of Kings of War and loved how it played. Capnwoodrow and BigD played a game the Monday after he came back from Gencon and even BigD was hooked. That Saturday the shop had a demo day for the game where BigD, Capn, Brian Preece, 2-3 others, a I all played small 1000 point games just to learn the rules. I decided to bring my Mantic undead army I had bought back when the 8th ed Vampire Counts army book came out. I loved how the army felt from the first turn to the end of the game. I could tell that the game was going to be the new go to game for me. I loved the undead so much after playing them, I sold the ogres I had to BigD.

The game itself only has 3 phases during a turn; Move, Shoot, Melee.

During the movement you can order your unit to charge, march, advance, change facing, or stand still. Instead of wheeling your unit, and it eating movement, you simply pivot from the center point of the unit anywhere along an advance or charge. That sounds amazing, till you realize you can only do 1 pivot a move. WHAT?!?!?!  Yup, just 1 pivot (unless you have the nimble rule, but that is for another discussion.)  This makes movement much more important than it is in any game I have played.  In 40k a bad move doesn't cause your unit to stand a chance to take a flank charge where the opponent does double the attacks. Warmachine movement is important also but for other reasons (here's my caster at the front line of the army, please kill me.)

You would figure since I am talking about movement I should mention something about how it's affected by the terrain.  Well that is the interesting thing, is that it's not.  Terrain only determines how effective shooting and charges are.  There are 3 basic types of terrain: terrain that blocks movement, terrain that doesn't block movement but blocks LOS, and terrain that doesn't block movement or LOS but causes a charging unit to be disorganized after passing it (eg: fences.)  All three types grant a cover bonus, and the last two cause chargers to be disorganized if their charging though them. There is a fourth type of terrain, but it is for cosmetic terrain such as a single tree in the middle of a huge field (the tree isn't enough cover to cause a unit to get a cover bonus or enough of a hindrance to slow a charge.)  Terrain is semi-volumetric in that a forest blocks line of sight of models of a certain height beyond it.  Hills are a unique situation also because units and warmachines on top of a hill become the height of the hill and their unit size (so if a catapult is on a size 2 hill, the catapult is now a considered to be size 3 for line of sight checking.)

The shooting phase.  While not all armies your likely to face will have much to do in the shooting phase there is more to it than just shooting your bows and crossbows.  If you have a wizard, this it he phase that they cast their spells during.  The magic in the game isn't the end all, be all that it was in WFB.  In fact there are only 6 spells (7 if you count breath attacks.) There are 2 offensive, 2 buff, and 2 movement spells.  No dispel mechanic either. To cast a spell you roll (n) dice and count the number of 4+'s and follow the spell effect.

Ok back to shooting.  There are two different types of shooting in the game currently (3 technically, but again breath attacks work more like spells than shots,) warmachines with indirect fire, and troop fire.  Troop fire uses the Att and the RA values to determine how many shots and what they hit on. Indirect fire works the same, but most warmachines have a Blast(n) value which is the amount of damage the shot does when it hits. So say I hit with a Balefire catapult I then roll D6+2 to determine how much damage that the shot does before rolling the units Def.  At the end of the shooting phase, any unit that took damage had to check to see if their effected by the shooting.

To do this you roll 2d6 and add the amount of damage the unit took. You then compare the total to the units Ne values.  There are two values shown in a 14/16 format.  The first value is the units wavering value. If a unit is wavering then they are too scared to do much the following turn (no advance, charge, march orders.) The second value is the rout value. If a unit is routed then they run off the table never to be seen again.

Combat is similar to the shooting phase in that you do damage, check Ne, ect. The big difference in combat is that the facing of the units comes into play.  If a unit is in a flank of the charged unit, the charger gets double attacks. If it's the rear, it's triple attacks (hence why i said that movement is much more important than any game I have played.)  The main difference between combat in KoW vs WFB is that combat is one sided.  I charge, do damage, test nerve, and if I rout the charged unit I (pivot, advance d6, or retreat d3) or failed to rout the unit pull back 1 inch from the charged unit to signify that the combat is over. there isn't combat from the other side during the active players turn.  This actually speeds the game much significantly.  

Having now played 7 or 8 games of Kings of War now I have to say that I am thoroughly enjoying the system.  Its simplistic enough to make learning the game quick, but like chess it has enough depth to make you stop and think about your next move. The way that Mantic has balanced the armies is impressive as well.  The units in the core book are all good, and there are no just bad picks.  Sub-optimal yes, but bad picks? no.  I run an undead list that is very different from the list that the shop owners son is taking(he is taking the armies optimal units, and I am taking 3 horde blocks of ghouls,) and we both are able to compete. This past weekend I was able to play in an event that used chess clocks for the 3 round tournament style games, and the pressure of having to keep track of your turn times added another facet to the game also.

As I have said I think this is my new go to game right now since the 40k crowd has died back again (sadly.) Since Mantic encourages the uses of scenic bases, I have begun rebasing my daemons so I have a second army for this game.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Blog Update - Late August

Figured since I haven't posted anything recently I would go ahead and let you, the readers, know whats been going on.  Since the list building article I posted back in may I have been doing everything from reading some books I've been putting off, playing some tabletop games (mostly 40k with the eldar,) and working. Things have just been so hectic recently but I am going to start posting again.

I plan on finishing the 3 part series on intro to war gaming with a write up of what to do when you want to graduate from being a new player of a game to a more advanced player sometime in the next month. I have an impressions of Kings Of War article in the works also since Age of Sigmar has done away with fantasy.  There is a chance I may hit Rockwars in September and work up a full on photo gallery section to the website.

On the subject of the website also, I would like to welcome back former Hogs blogger, BigD.  As with the rest of the old gang, BigD took a hiatus from war gaming and has recently started back with the release of Kings of War 2nd Edition.  He will be posting from time to time, as the mood strikes him.

That's all I have for today so look forward to the next post.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Intro to phase 0 - aka List Building

In part one of this series I talked about finding the game for you.  Now that you have started into the hobby, you'll find the next part crucial to all your future gaming.  The dreaded Phase 0.  No this isn't listed in your rule book, and no you find it mentioned in any FAQ.  This phase is also known as List building.

All joking aside, list building is the one point in a game that can help or hinder your experience while your playing.  If you build a list that is geared for your own play style, then your going to have fun and a greater understanding of how the army should preform.  If you just build a list of what seems good or build a list that someone tells you is the best build, you may not be able to utilize the army correctly.  Most NetList are geared to how the originator of the list plays the army it was created for.  

Step 1 - Familiarizing yourself with your army.

So where do you begin when building a list.  Well this part is actually going to be kinda intuitive, but sit down with the army list / book / codex  of the army you want to play. Read and absorb the way the units are designed to be played. Figure out if they are meant to be played in close, or at range.  Once you have done this start looking for the synergies and flaws in the army.  Does one unit do something that can help another or hurt another? 

This isn't meant to be a study in frustration, just a way to get you use to really looking at the army.  Once you can see the small things in an army, you'll be able to tune it to your play style. 

Step 2 - Deciding on how you want to play the army.

While this step can lead you in some weird places, it's one of the more overlooked when it comes to some games.  Sure you can always just follow the current power build that you can find online, but that isn't always the best way for you to play the army. That said, there are things your army just wont do if built focusing on a phase of the game that their not meant to be good at.

Lets say your playing 40k, and your playing a primarily shooty army such Necrons.  Does this mean your locked into only being a shooty army? Well yes and no.  Yes because the army is very specialized to excel in the shooting phase of the game.  That does not mean that you have to give up on the assault phase.  The necrons have two solid close combat units in the wraiths and the lychguard.  So if you want to build an assault heavy necron list you can. The problem is your going to run into is that if you face an army that does the assault phase better, your going to have to make up for the difference in your other phases to compensate.

Step 3 - Build an initial list.

Take some time, sit in front of your favorite army list tool, and build a list that you want to test out.  This is in no means your final list.  Think of it as a first draft of an essay.  Your just getting the basics of what you want to do on paper.

What you'll want to do in this step is to take what you learned in step 1, combine it with the ideas on what you want to do from step 2, and put them all together.  Start with the units you know you need for the base of the list.  In Warmachine / Hordes, for example, these will be the caster, war-thing to use the casters free points, and any units or solos that you feel you need for a combo / synergy.

From there you'll look towards how to finish filling out your list.  If you are playing a list that relies on 1 or 2 units in particular then think about maybe backing them up with another.  Redundancy is a good way to fill a list, but doesn't work for games that rely on one of a kind characters / units.  Some systems also actually prefer diversity over redundancy. The big thing when filling out a list is that this is usually where your edits will occur in the future. If you have a solid base idea then your probably not going to be changing the core of your list.

Step 4 - Play test

This is where the fun of list building starts; play the list your just created.  This doesn't mean play the list once, and change it. Play the list 10-20 times to get the feel for it.  Pay attention to what works for you, and what doesn't.  Adjust your play little by little to see if what doesn't feel right can be made to work.  Once your at a point you think you've played it enough to get what needs to change, play it one more time. This will help solidify the changes you want to make to how the army is built.

Step 5 - Revise the list

This step is pretty self explanatory; revise your list to adjust it to better fit your design goal for the list.  Remember that there are things in your army that it can and can't do as well as other armies. If one of the problems in play testing was in one of these areas then they may be worth adjusting for.  Once your done with this it's back to play testing.

The one thing you have to remember is that list building is a never ending thing.  You may have a list that works for you for a time, but by the time the next book comes out it may have a new flaw. That is the thing about miniature war games these days.  The meta doesn't stay stagnant for very long any more.  The only way to counter this rapid change is to never get lax in the way you build list. When 40k and fantasy were 4-6 months between releases you could actually go a year or two before actually having to changing your list, but those days are long gone.  Every games meta is now ever shifting. What may win one week, may not the next. That is why it's a good idea to always look at your list as an long term project.

Another thing you have to think about that I didn't cover was if your building for a tournament.  There are a total different set of parameters you have to keep in mind when building for tournaments. The first is the format. Is the tournament a single elimination, or swiss style.  From there you have to also ask yourself these questions. Do you have a single list or multiple. Do you have restrictions on what models you can use, or how to build your list. Does the tournament use a game standard FAQ, second source FAQ, or local meta rulings.  Once you answer these questions, you'll sit down and run though steps 1-5.  The entire time keeping mind the answers you gave to the questions. Just remember to be prepared for stuff you may or may not see in your normal games.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Getting into Wargaming

With the site starting a new, it's probably a good idea to start a series of articles about the different aspects of miniature wargaming.  That said, starting at the beginning is probably the best place.  

To start what is a miniature war game?  Technically it's a game ruleset that use miniatures to simulate a battle.  That is it in a nutshell, but the market has a number of options these days. That said what is the right game for you.  Honestly no one can answer that for you.  Personally I like 40k and Fantasy, but there are so many options beyond them. Also remember that miniature wargaming is a hobby.  While some war games don't have the same requirements as others (Xwing has pre-painted, pre-assembled minis for example,) they are still a part of the hobby.  There are a number of questions you have ask yourself if you want to get into wargaming.

1. What game's aesthetic interest you?  Do you like the grim dark look of 40k, or the bright and shiny of Infinity.  The massed armies of Fantasy, or the smaller forces of Warmachine.  Since your interest in the games art style will determine your enthusiasm for the hobby side also, it's a good idea to pick a game that speaks to you in some way.  Also don't get discouraged when looking at the painted figures. If you love the look of the models in infinity, but fear your not a good enough artist to paint them: Don't worry about it.  The artist who paint studio models have been doing it for years, if not decades. Every mini painter starts some where.

2. What games get played at the local shops or clubs? Another major question when it comes to wargaming, unless you only plan on playing with a small group of friends.  The play groups at the local shops and clubs tend to play a small selection of games, or in some cases only a single game.  If they are into the game your interested in, go on their regular night and watch a couple of games. Be sure to introduce yourself and express your interest in the game their playing. This is a great way to get a feel for the game system.  While your there, be sure to ask the person in charge of the shop or club activity if you could get a demo game.  There is usually a player or two who the person in charge will point new players towards for a demo game. These people are usually very patient, have a good grasp of the rules their teaching, and can give you a small game to give you the basics of the game. 

3. Probably the biggest question of list: Are you ready to spend a lot of time, money, blood, sweat, and tears on the hobby.  X-wing is an exception to this list, but most mini war games require buying the minis, putting them together, painting them, and basing them.  As I noted in the first question, you are not required to be a Crystal Brush winning painter, but most players appreciate some effort by their opponent to get some paint on the model, and basing materials on the base.  Some groups even allow some leeway on the paint and basing, but there is a certain satisfaction of playing with fully painted army.

Once you answer these questions, your a step closer to getting into the wargaming hobby. The next step would be to pick up the rules, a starter force (be it half a 2 player starter being shared with someone else, a starter box, or an all in 1 army box,) and some dice/cards/popsicle sticks (who knows, there may be a game that uses them.)  

After you get the basic items, start playing. As you start playing you will begin to see how the game flows, and how your faction plays.  It's at this point that you'll start to decide how to expand your forces, and be introduced to other aspects of the game such as competitive play, narrative play, and leagues.  From here the sky is the limit on how you want to precede.  Do you want to explore other forces of the game, or an entire other system all together.  

The most important thing to remember is to not get in over your head.  Take things slowly when you get into wargaming. You will want to expand your forces as you play, but you can get too much too quickly.  An example is that I bought over 7000 points of space marines over the course of 3 years. There is no way that I will ever finish painting and basing the entire army, and work on the 3 other 40k armies, 1 fantasy army, and the PoM for Warmachine.  I may have a problem....  That aside, just go slowly for the first army you have.  Nothing says you have to get to a certain gaming level as soon as possible.

That is all for this part of this series of articles.  The next article will focus on list building.  No, it wont be a how to build the 1 list to win them all article, but it will give you an idea of what to take, for which situations, and why. Look for part 2 in the coming week.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Further thoughts on Craftworld Eldar

I have decided to postpone the eldar write up because I want to get a few games under my belt with the army. My thoughts are in more flux right now than when I started writing the series, and it's all because of watching Reece and the Frontline Gaming twitch channel ( .)

Over the past few days they have been streaming Eldar test matches, and none of the eldar list have been optimized.  Of the 4 games I have watched the only game that has been contentious has been vs the brb invis 2+ reroll daemon / csm summoning list.  The game came down to the final count on the king of the hill objective.  The daemon player was all in, and Reece was playing very sloply.

The two guns that I am beginning to think may make the ITC FAQ restrictions will be the barrage d-cannon on the support weapons platform, and the d-scythes.  The support weapon d-cannon seems to be a no brainer because barrage can generate more wounds than any other weapon.  As for the scythes, having watched how reliable the wraithguard are with them, it appears to me that they will require the most for thought to counter, and it won't be because you want to get into close combat.  The Wraith cannons on the WK are not a problem when comparing them to the Guard.  Some people have said the Heavy D scythe on the Hemlock isn't as much a threat to every list because it is only a small blast, and only wounds a small grouping of models.  At least the Hemlock still appears to be the red headed step child.

Reece has been running the scatter laser jetbikes, which looks like what the internet has deemed to be the best option.  Though they can pour out a ton of shots, but like alot of other stuff in the dex, they want the psykic powers to buff the shots.  Personally like i said in the first part of my write up I feel the surikan cannon is probably the better open.  I don't see jet bikes as being a back line unit.

I should be at the shop tomorrow evening and trying to get a game or two to get a first game feel for the army.  Until I get a game in, I am really trying to hold my opinion about everything.  Look for more coverage over the weekend.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tired of the Knee Jerk

I was planning on finishing the Eldar write up Monday, but after driving 6+ hours on Sunday to visit a pair of shops in central Arkansas I forgot to get the Sunday and Monday articles finished. I plan on getting the articles finished at least by Friday, but today's subject is the cause of most of my consternation on the topic of the codex.

Earlier today I was listening to a certain long running 40k podcast this afternoon, and the amount of salt coming from the crew over the Eldar dex caused me to regret keeping their podcast on my podcatcher. The crew spent the entire episode just complaining that Wraith Knights are broken, Str D has no place in the game, everything is under priced, and that you'll never see any army that isn't Eldar at tournaments now. While I agree that the point prices are a little under costed compared to the other armies I run, I just can't agree with the other points.  I could go on about the topics, that isn't what I want to talk about.  I want to discuss the fact that this isn't anything new, it's just the normal first reaction shock of change.

The "Knee Jerk" reaction is not something new to how gamers react to change.  It not only happens in our hobby, but gaming in general.  Having played Magic for almost 10 years, the new releases caused harsh reactions to 2-5 power cards from the set, but usually once the set had been out for a month people realized that the power cards were counter balanced by other stuff in the set.  MMOs also see this backlash from change with people claiming that the devs had dumbed down the game, when their tailoring the game to the audience who actually plays the game.  Heck Warmachine / Hordes has had a number of complaints about the changes their game has seen in recent years, with the introduction of the battle engines and colossals.

While some initial reactions are well warranted, they can color how people look at the stuff that the reaction is about.  For some a majorly negative reaction from another will actually cause them to look favorably at the same subject.  The reverse is also true, however there is also those like me who tends to not act on our first reaction.  Yes I was writing a first impressions on the eldar codex, but it wasn't my knee jerk reaction.  What makes a first impression really useful is when they actually take sometime to examine how it effects other aspects of their subject. When I saw the Wraith Knight entry, I looked at it and asked myself how I would use it, and how does it affect my other armies, and how do I remove it with them for example.

What I keep hearing from people who complain about stuff from the latest codex, isn't the last two questions I asked.  It's always the just the first question and it's usually answered in a self serving way to show how their right.  Whats even funnier is that the spinning of the theory hammer to fit your narrative tends to not reflect what happens in game.

I guess I am just just a little exhausted from the sheer amount of negativity around the game at the moment.  What is frustrating to me is the fact that I had found a decent Eldar force back in febuary, back before the rumors even began.  I agree that it might have colored my view of the army, but at the same time I know how good the army is that I'll refrain from playing them for the time being (at least till I'm tired of flyrant spam, and ad lance.) My hope is that in the next week or two we will see the complaints start to die down because people will actually get games in vs the new eldar and see how they actually play.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Initial thoughts on Codex: Eldar Craftworlds Pt 1

I've had my copy of the new Eldar codex for a few days now and thought I'd share a few of my initial thoughts on the book.  First off, no I am not going to blow my top at the sheer amount of Strength D, or even the 160 shot bikes.  Honestly everything in the game has a paper to all the rocks in this book.  Yes if the Eldar player gets turn 1 then they can possibly delete something form your side of the board before you can react, but hasn't that always been the case?  That aside, on to the thoughts.


All of the HQ choices have seen a points adjustment, and the phoenix lords have had buffs to how they interact with the army.  Gone is the daemon summoning for the psykers, and has been replaced with Sanctic.  Eldrad and the Farseers pull also pull from divination and telepathy powers as well as their own Runes of Fate.  Personally pulling from Telepathy and Fate would be my first choice, Divination being the situational powers and I don't see myself pulling from Sanctic.  Warlocks pull from Sanctic and Runes of Battle.  This is a tougher choice, but its still just going to be a match up choice.  Spiritseer's no longer force org shift wraith guard, but does give a reroll of 1's to hit in a 12" bubble around him.  He also pulls powers from Sanctic, Battle, and Telepathy.  This is silly considering he is usually in a unit of wraith guards so invisibility on the unit sounds scary.

I probably will stick with just a seer and conclave, or possibly taking a full seer council formation if my points allow it.


Not much has changed in this section with one simi-major update on the Windrider squad.  Gone is the limit of 1 shuriken cannon for every 3 bikes.  Now every model in the unit can switch out his TL shuriken catapult for either a shuriken cannon, or a scatter laser.  Whats that, I can't hear you over the screams of the internet.  While yes this makes the jetbikes one of the best troops in the game, I honestly don't think we'll see the massive jetstars people keep thinking we will have.  First off, the Windrider host limits the host to 3 units of windriders.  Second the tempest of blades is shuriken weapons only.  Third and finally, you still want more stuff from this codex.  I could see three 5 man units with cannons being the break point for the formation.  While the scatter laser gives you more shots over all, the difference between heavy 4, and assault 3 with 6 giving the almost rending that is bladestorm, is almost night and day.  Sure the laser has a higher range, but the ability to get in ap2 hits is worth the reduction in range to me.   One other change in the troop section is the Dire Avengers.  As has been the case with several of the 6th & 7th ed codices, the exarch is now an upgrade to the unit. That aside, the unit has gained a trait called Defence Tactics.  This allows the unit when it's been charged to either overwatch at bs 2 or gives the unit counter-attack and stubborn.  For one of the more lackluster troop choices in the last book, this appears to bring them back in line with the rest of their foot brothers.

Honestly the bikes are the go to in this section, but the book has a solid chance to be a solid foot-dar book.   Guardians, Rangers, and Dire Avengers are all solid choices for the section, but all have been over shadowed by the cheap cost and sheer shooting capability of the bikes.

That will bring the first part to a close, but look back tomorrow when I go though my thoughts on the elite and fast sections.  Monday I'll cover the Heavy, LOW, and the formations.  Feel free to comment below if you feel I glossed over anything, or want to give a different point of view.