Number 88 – Dreadball MVP


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A model representation of an entity of uncertain species and gender for use in Dreadball.  This enigmatic player is named “Number 88”. Continue reading

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B.P. Oilers – Dreadball Marauder Team

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My second finished Dreadball team is the B.P. Oilers, a team consisting of “orx” and goblins (collectively known as “marauders”).

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Swatters Playtest 3

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I got a quick mid-week game in with COM last Wednesday, so we played the “Surrounded” mission.  The Marines/Eldar set up in the middle of a 4×4′ table with a larger force of bugs equally divided on the four table edges.

The Marines/Eldar also got an emplaced weapon as part of the scenario set up but  I forgot to put it on the table before the above photo was taken.  It features in the later snaps (for all the good that it did).

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The emplacement is still missing and the Alien queen really should have her base painted: it looks awful.

The scenario specified the 4×4′ battlefield.  Therefore the bugs were able to close quite rapidly.  Some decent reaction fire from the marines whittled their numbers down a bit, but a run of poor activation rolls meant that the marines became bug chow pretty fast.

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The Alien queen (with the embarrassingly unfinished base) flinches a little from incoming fire while the mauled xenomorphs prepare to slice up the eldar guardians.

The marine units got to fire a couple of times, but recurring activation problems meant that a lot of bug units had an easy time getting in close.

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“Tough” units (such as the “Colossal” trygon above) are particularly hard to dent in this system.  The marine power armour troops (represented by wraithguard) are very hard to shift when using rank and file bugs.  As such they tend to be a must-have unit in games, even though they are pricey.  In this game the Power Armour troopers again showed their worth by hanging around for longer than any other marine unit.

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I set up the marines in a silly fashion.  I should have concentrated them a bit more on one side or the other in the hope that they could take advantage of numbers to squish the bugs piecemeal.  Memories of a previous game where the marines set up so close that they got over run in quick succession meant that I spread my troops out in an ineffectual fashion.  They paid for my poor generalship with their tiny metal and plastic lives.

This game wasnt a drag or anything and it played out very quickly, but it ended up being a bit of a dice fest rather than a narrative generating battle like the Save the Miners game last week.

In Swatters the bugs can move very fast and forcing the marines to set up less than two feet away makes some of the engagement a forgone conclusion, which is a bit unsatisfying.  The activation system can always throw a spanner into plans of course (a good thing as it encourages maneuvering and gives more chance for narrative and the like) but I think that I would like to try this scenario out another time with the bugs coming in from either end of a 6′ table instead: I think that it could be more fun that way.

Swatters Playtest 2

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MT and COM came around last week to help me do some more Swatters playtesting, continuing our progression through all of the scenarios in the rulebook.

It was also an opportunity to use the thirty CDs that I had textured since the last session.  I wouldnt say that I was excited about using the CDs, but I was pleased to have got them finished and ready to go this time, as they look a lot better than the shiny CD surfaces visible last time.  Nerdcore.

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MT has a medium sized Tyranid force from years ago that we figured would be fun to get on the table again alongside the blueish-white tyranids that COM currently has custody of.  My modest bug collection also featured.  Between the three forces we were easily able to represent any unit from the bug force list.

None of us have a suitable painted force of Colonial Marine or Mobile Infantry or even Imperial Guard so a mix of Eldar from both MTs collection and mine performed that role.  Space elves have to fumigate their real estate from time to time too I suppose.

The first game played (shown in the photos above) was a simple, non-scenario affair to refresh MT on the core Ganesha rules, plus show him how the new elements in Swatters work.

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The next scenario was “Save the Miners” and its started off looking like as it does above.  Note the mineshaft in the middle of the table and the three units of miners (Necromunda Goliaths plus two EM4 miniatures painted by Mattias, the male and female models bookending the group in this shot) in contact with the buildings.  The Marine forces are set up across one long table edge and the bugs come in hell bent on doing some property damage and eating some miners (who look a bit chewy to me) from either/both short edges,.

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The bugs (played by MT) surged across the table in a series of very good activation rolls.  The first unit of miners barely knew that they were under attack before they were devoured.

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Tough bug reinforcements came in from the opposite side of the battlefield while the Eldar slowly advanced into the mining town, which was beginning to blaze with biochemical fires.

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The bugs break through the marine lines and mug another group of miners against the backdrop of the blazing town.  Its looking dodgy for the good guys.

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The big, tough bug reinforcements (the raveners on the right) are held at bay by a heavy weapon blast from marines that would have pulped any other bug unit.  Unfortunately for the marines, while the bugs are halted just before they could destroy the red roofed building, the offenders are suppressed rather than swatted.

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The tide turned at this point and the power armoured troops (the wraithguard) mopped up the various non-tough bug units, but it was touch and go for quite a while, which made it a fun game overall.  Probably the most entertaining Swatters game to date.

I think that I prefer Swatters games on a 6×4′ to those on a 4×4′ as it allows the Marines to get a round or two of shooting in before the bugs get too close and gives an opportunity to watch a seething horde of monsters run the gauntlet, Starship Troopers style.

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The next game involved Eldar/Marines (MT) searching through crashed spaceship wreckage while under the threat of secretly concealed bugs (me).

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Less like the do-or-die battle from the end of a movie, unfotunately this game played out like the bit at the start of the film before the credits, ending in wet slicing noises and screaming.  The bugs leapt out of the nearest piece of wreckage, accelerated towards the marines and killed them.  Game over man.

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Doubtless a big contributor to the bugs success in this game was the fact that they were lead by the well known Joan Rivers impersonator, “Alexis the Emasculator“, a human/bug hybrid with vague similarities to Sarah Kerrigan/Queen of Blades from Starcraft.  A ridiculous conversion that I thoroughly enjoy getting on the wargame table

Alexis, bug/human hybrid queen

Alexis, bug/human hybrid queen

As that scenario had played very quickly we decided to try it again, with the marines set up in a way that would allow them to provide mutual support when ambushed, rather than just get in each others way.  We also forced the bugs to spawn in smaller numbers from around the battlefield rather than allowing them to all show up in a single spot.  I also dropped Alexis from the team and fielded a pair of Colossus (COMs blue/white carnifexes, or “carnifaeces” as someone christened them last weekend), just because the models are cool and in order to get a grasp on how their rules worked.

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The marines won this time, but data regarding the scenario balance was inconclusive.  We had a chat about how to make it work more to our liking, but didnt come up with an easy fix.  That said, even at the playtest stage we are getting some fun games out of the ruleset, which is great 🙂

The next Swatters playtest was with COM yesterday evening.  I will do a quick write up on that as soon as I can manage it.

C.D. Business

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I am currently playtesting a Ganesha bug-hunt game called “Swatters”.  Unlike the majority of Ganeshas games Swatters is squad rather than skirmish based.  Squads and various terrain and objective elements in Swatters are defined by a “Cohesion Distance”, conveniently represented by an old compact disc.

As can be seen by the ugliness of the shiny CDs used in the first days playtesting I needed to make a number of old CDs look a little less shiny and ugly and to try to match them to my Zuzzy mat gaming surface.

In excruciating detail, interspersed with reasons why I did the things that I did, this is how I did it.

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Firstly I sanded the shiny side of thirty CDs with coarse sandpaper, to give the paint/glue something to grip to.  I didnt bother taking photos of that stage.

I then mixed up a batch of black paint (I used black gesso as I had some around and gesso is designed to give additional tooth to paint anyway), ready mixed filler and PVA/white glue.  This mix was then painted all over the sanded side of the discs.  I then sprinkled two different kinds of flock and some granulated cork onto the wet paint/glue mix in patches.  I then left the lot to dry overnight.

Keen eyed observers will have already noticed that I didnt cover up the holes in the CDs.  I didnt bother for a number of reasons:

  • Its an awkward and time consuming job.
  • I did something similar using tape many years ago and the tape started to lift halfway through, which was an epic pain in the ass that I did not want to repeat.
  • It can be hard to cover the holes without leaving a trace of the method used behind that inevitably shows up in an irritating fashion when painting later.
  • The hole in the middle makes the discs much easier to hold while being worked on.
  • The hole will always be easily covered up by a miniature during play.
  • I plan to use the hole to store the CDs when finished.

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The following evening I thinned the paint/glue/filler mix that I had already made with water and applied it liberally to the flocked areas.  This was in order to both colour the flock and to seal it so that it doesnt fall off when used.

At this time I also sprinkled another grade of flock kindly donated by COM onto the balder parts of the CDs.  This flock was fine enough to absorb the paint/glue/filler mix as I applied it, so it didnt need to be sealed again afterwards.

Even though I usually base my figures with sand from a local beach, I wanted to use flock on these bases.  The primary use for the bases is to work as movement trays for miniatures and as such miniatures are likely to fall over on them from time to time.  I wanted to ensure that the textured bases were relatively soft and less likely to chip the miniatures than sand.

I used to have a gaming table covered in sand at one point and it regularly caused miniatures to chip.  It also caused bleeding knuckles from picking up dice.  Although the idea of a room full of nerds playing so hard that our fingers bled is kind of funny (and reminiscent of Bryan Adams lyrics), it was mainly a pain in the ass.  So flock this time then.

I let the flocked and sealed CDs sitting on the table to dry overnight again.

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The first step the following evening was to break out the foam paint roller (visible top left above) and to roll the base paint colour that I use for my terrain bases and for my wasteland Zuzzy mat onto the CDs.  It was important not to have too much paint on the roller at this point as it was an overbrush effect that leaves dark paint in the recesses that I was going for.

I considered adding some other colours in patches beneath (like how I approached painting the Zuzzy mat last year) before I got the roller out, but decided that at best it would be effort that wouldnt be seen (as the discs would be covered in miniatures during games) and that at worst it might actually make the neutrally coloured bases a bit gaudy and therefore potentially detract from miniatures put on them.  So I didnt  do that.

If gluing junk and fluff to CDs and painting them has a fun bit, then this stage is it.  I was pleased to see how the broken ground effect that I was going for was working out and unifying the colour makes that sort of thing visible.

I then mixed some white into the colour and rolled that onto the discs, but using a lighter touch than the previous layer so that it would work as a highlight.  Lastly I mixed a mid grey with black and white and added some of the base brown to it and brushed some of the rougher areas in that colour to make it look like scree or similar.

The finished CDs can be seen in the first picture in this post.

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Clockwise from top: Bugs, a minefield, Sin Eaters Chaos Space Marines, a bug spawn point/objective.

Many people use CDs as bases for terrain.  CDs are pretty much impossible to warp and they are very cheap/free.  Regardless, I was put off using CDs as bases until now because of their uniform, perfect circle footprints, which I find visually jarring.

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Clockwise from top: Swooping Hawk Eldar, a campsite, an Ork mob, some Mega City Judges.

Despite my reservations I couldnt help but plonk down some various small terrain pieces on a few of my finished CD Swatters bases to see if they helped to delineate a minefield or campsite or whatever, which of course they did.  So the CDs will likely have more uses than just as movement trays in games of Swatters.

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Clockwise from top: a human sacrifice, a load of things that can explode, some dead people who have escaped from hospital and a unit of ratmen from space, ratmaning it up.

Large terrain pieces that are lovingly modeled onto their bases/CDs are nice to look at but difficult to store and often hard to actually game with.  Therefore I tend to make small terrain pieces that I clump together to represent a woods or a ruin or whatever.

This approach works adequately, although it is handier if the area represented by giant mushrooms/unexploded bombs/an interdimensional vortex is represented physically in some way.  So thats another use for these thirty CDs.

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Clockwise from top: skeleton robots, Eldar Guardians, zombie spawn points conveniently located near butane cylinders and gas cans, squat space dwarf forgefathers.

The sand that I have used to base miniatures for a few years now is chosen to be neutral, so that it looks passable primarily on my urban and wastelands terrain sets.  As you can see above the sand isnt a perfect match for the CDs or the mat, but its not very jarring either.  Its an acceptable compromise, although its a bit extreme on large areas like the zombie spawn points above.

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Clockwise from top: some jungle, some cacti, some fungus and an area that belches forth unspeakable horror.

A final issue that I have with terrain pieces regards storage.  I am lucky enough to have quite a bit of space assigned to my hobby stuff, but I still need to make sure that the things that I make can be stored reasonably well.   One of the reasons that I didnt cover up the holes in the CDs is so that they could be returned to the spindle that they were supplied on.

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Very tidy.  Unlike this meandering, huge blog post.

Swatters Playtest 1

FaceHuggerChestBurster Online

Inspired by what Mikko at dawnofthelead has been doing with his “Utopia” campaign, last week I contacted Ganesha Games to find out when their dedicated bug-hunt rule set “Swatters” was due to be released.  Ganesha told me that the rules were close to finished but required some further playtesting.  I volunteered to get involved in the process as it sounded like fun and had a playtest copy of the rules within a day or so.

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COM and TM were available to get involved in a couple of games last Saturday, so my bugs were unearthed and reinforced by some xenos from COMs hive.  My Iacon Eldar did their best Colonial Marine impersonations and we got a couple of games played.

The first game that we played (shown in the photos above and below) was the standard Meeting Engagement scenario using forces of about 1100pts each on a 6×4′ table.  Swatters is a squad based battle game rather than the skirmish sized games that Ganesha is known for.  Being a Ganesha game Swatters is a lot more streamlined than many similar games, which appeals to me a lot.

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One aspect of the rules is that five man/bug squads, objectives, spawn points etc are all arranged on individual CDs for numerous reasons, both in terms of game mechanics and for simplicity when it comes to moving large numbers of figures around.  As I only had a little lead up time to this game I didnt get around to texturing the CDs to match the table before the game, so the photos are a bit uglier than usual.

The next playtest session (planned for next weekend with MT (not to be confused with TM)) will take place using properly textured CD bases with a bit of luck.

I played Meeting Engagement with TM.  I set up the terrain according to the rules in the scenario, but couldnt help but add a few more bits of terrain, as it seemed a little too open.  As it happened the bugs got wiped out before they even made contact with the Eldar, although not all of that was due to the open terrain.

It was TMs first Ganesha game and he picked up the basics fast so the game only took about an hour or so.

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In “Space Demon Omelettes” ten units of bugs line up opposite three units of Eldar (marines). The other CDs scattered around the table are either Spawn points or Egg markers. Despite the fact that I used painted models for the spawn and egg markers the reflective surfaces on the CDs look awful. They will be covered up by the next game.

The next scenario that was played was “Space Demon Omelettes”, with TM playing the bugs again and COM playing his first Ganesha game as the Eldar/Humans.  The scenario involves a raid on a 4×4′ bug nest to smash up some eggs.  The bugs have access to a lot of cheap drones that are absolutely terrible in combat, but numerous.

Bugs on the baseline.  That phot would look significantly cooler if the CDs were camouflaged a bit.

Bugs on the baseline. This photo would look significantly cooler if the CDs were camouflaged a bit.

Each side has a dice pool in Swatters that can be used to either buff shooting (for the marine side) or close combat (for the bugs).  The bugs can also use dice to generate reinforcements that spawn either on their table edge or at areas specified by the scenario.  From what I have seen so far the reinforcements for a standard game will amount to roughly one base of pretty decent troops per game.  In this game however the reinforcements were limited to the very poor Drone troop type, although TM did generate quite a number of them right in the marines faces, as seen below.

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Eight bases of drones (the blueish Termagants) emerge from the spawn points in the first turn of the game.

Given the option to use the dice to buff attacks or to generate more figures TM went with the more figures option, as he had done in the first game too.  I find it hard to imagine a game where I wouldnt go for the reinforcements in preference to be honest, although in this scenario the drones generate more easily than regular reinforcements do, so its definitely the way to go for Space Demon Omelettes I reckon.  A few more games will have to be played to see if I think that the bug close combat buffs are worth it or not.

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At this point we figured that the marines (the three units on the dark CDs in the photo above) were in trouble.  Despite one of the units being comprised of nasty “Power Armour” troops (the Dire Avengers with the retro paint jobs in the middle) we figured that they might not have been able to bring their strengths to bear.

We neednt have worried.  A quick look at the rules for drones showed us that they are absolutely woeful and COM spent the next few turns killing forty of them for the loss of one marine.  The only problem with it being open season on drones was that the significantly more dangerous Queen and her entourage were closing in.

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In the end the drones did their job by dying in droves while engaged with the marines while the more dangerous bugs came up behind them.  The Marines gave decent account of themselves but once the properly scary bugs hit them they fell apart.

It was a fun game, marred visually by the big ugly CDs.  I enjoyed played a game with a higher figure count for a change and bug hunts have a lot of appeal to any Aliens fan of my vintage.

A couple of the game mechanics regarding the basing of the figures worked quite well.  I am looking forward to trying out some different units and putting the rules through their paces further next weekend with MT.

The CDs will be less ugly next time too.

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