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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.

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In The Emperors Name

After playing our game of JDMG (covered last week) MT, PB and I decided to give In the Emperors Name a go on the same terrain set-up.

As a bunch of gamers who have played their fair share of 40k in the past, cant stomach it now but still read some of the fiction and paint the occasional 40k figure, we really wanted this ruleset to work out.

The first hurdle was picking the forces, which was very finicky.  PB had even prepared a spreadsheet to help to make this step as hassle free as possible, but it was still a drudge.  Having to prepare a spreadsheet should have been our first warning I suppose, but as ItEN is a free, fan written set we were prepared to put in a little more effort to get it to work.

I never played orks in 40k but as I have painted up a few over 2011 I decided to go with them for this game.  They proved to play quite differently in comparison with the elite forces that MT and PB chose.

MT painted up his Harlequins a couple of years ago, primarily for use with Space Hulk.  A small elite group of elven ninja cabaret struck him as perfect for use in a 40k skirmish setting.

PB dug out a Librarian and Tactical squad of his “Dark Souls” chapter out of storage.  It was fun to see those guys again as I faced them across many miniature battlefields over the years.

The three forces set up equidistant from a Maguffin (the suspicious looking pink thing on the road in the bottom left of the picture above) and we spent the game converging on that.

As it happened our three forces each engaged both opposing forces in some fashion or another as the game progressed.  This was very much a first game of the system where we tried to get a handle on how the rules work while playing, so some silly oversights and mistakes cropped up, as was expected.

Due to the ineffectiveness of their ranged weaponry the orks ended up in close combat with the Dark Souls a little earlier than I liked.  MT capitalised on this with a well timed psychic attack from his Warlock that put my Boss at a disadvantage.

That allowed the Dark Souls to get an edge in the combat and prolong it for long enough to allow the Harlequins to escape with the objective.

—————

In the Emperors Name is available for free download here.

ItEN is an unofficial fan made rule set for playing skirmish games set in the Warhammer 40000 universe.   Considering how many people get into the hobby via 40k who enjoy the setting but get disillusioned by the relentlessly poor quality of the official rulesets, I think that there is a lot or room for a system that covers this area.

The rules have obviously been written by players enthusiastic about the setting and miniatures.  This shows in the large number of interesting and sometimes satisfyingly obscure warbands and retinues available.

Unfortunately though, the system didnt appeal to my group once we played it.  It probably deserves another go but with so many possible rulesets vying for my limited gaming time, I cant imagine ItEN getting another tryout.

The rules felt restrictive compared with other sets that we have played recently.  While it is quite possible that we missed some of the subtleties of the system (we did only play one game after all) in many respects ItEN reminded me of the negative elements of playing small games using the official 40k rules.

Basically the game seemed largely preordained.  Manoeuvering wasnt really much of an option and the timing and location of the big dice rolls could be predicted with certainty before the game even started.

A number of factors contributed to this, not least the scenario.  But the predictability is just too severe for our tastes.

We had a couple of other problems too, but I wont bother going into those.  I dont particularly enjoy ripping into a fan based free ruleset, particularly when the guys who put it together have put so much time into it and so obviously have affection for the source material.

Despite early promise it proved to be a damp squib for us 😦

The Day the Law was Tried

MT, PB and I got together for a days worth of miniature gaming last Saturday.  We decided to focus on the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game this time. Continue reading

GorkaMorka Gaming

Having been cutting, gluing and painting ork miniatures and post apocalyptic terrain for the last few months, MT and SOS paid a visit to play some GorkaMorka a couple of weeks ago.

The plan was to concentrate on putting our respective mobs through their paces by playing nothing but GoMo for the duration, which is what we did.

I used my Bigdogz mob.  SOS had plans to paint a Freebooter pirate mob, but only got a couple of figures painted.  MT didnt have anything ready so he used SOSs figures.

SOS "Kaptin"

One of the reasons that GoMo was chosen for this particular gaming weekend is that SOS has enough orks already painted to allow us to build pretty much any ork mob we could want.  That way we had a fallback in case painting plans didnt come to fruition.  Therefore MT and SOS picked their mobs from SOS older stuff and we got going.

The look of SOS ork army is largely themed around WWII Wehrmacht, in case you were wondering, with each squad looking like paratroopers or desert camo guys or whatever.  SOS chose the ride above to start with.

MT chose the vehicle above as his first transport.  He chose to use one of SOS squads denoted by their soft brown caps.

We played a number of games over the day.  We didnt record exhaustive details of each game (there was enough bookwork in keeping track of the mob development itself), but we took photos of some of the more memorable moments, starting with the distinctly unmemorable picture below.

The opening three way game. Believe it or not, that turned out to be too much terrain for a game of GoMo...

GoMo needs very little terrain.  Manoeuvring the vehicles is sufficiently difficult that including too many obstacles makes things a bit too frustrating.

Playing with miniatures on gaming tables that are largely devoid of scenery is anathema to me: part of the point of tabletop gaming is the visual vignettes and the 3D, train set nature of the pasttime.  Without those it quickly becomes something that would be better played with cardboard counters on a hex grid.

That said however I think that elements of the vehicle side of GoMo work well and give an unusually fluid (some would say non-existent) battle line.  For the unique game experience that this brings I am willing to suck up the fact that GoMo games are played on largely featureless plains.

A head on ram by SOS causes MTs truck to explode, while my boyz circle in for the kill...

... but a lucky shot from SOS jams the throttle on the Bigdogz truck, sending the lot of them hurtling off the table with flame shooting from the exhaust. Giggling ensues.

The end of the first game had amply illustrated the Keystone Kops nature of Gorkamorka.  It is very much a think-on-the-fly followed by shoulder shrugging and laughing sort of affair.  There is a lot of screwy randomness involved.

In addition this game illustrated that despite having a combined age of ~105 that the three of us are categorically not too old to titter in a juvenile fashion at repeated uses of the words “Nob”, “Chopper”, “Thrust” and “Ram” (all deliberately incorporated into the rules by puerile designers, bless ’em).  Examples included:

  • “All of my guys jump on your Nob”
  • “I Thrust my Nob at your Nob while that guy hits the guy with the hat with his Chopper”
  • “My Nob is a Spanner”

I didnt think that I would laugh as much as I did either, but it wore me down 🙂

Chase Scenario 2 starts with two trucks hurtling through the wasteland, but...

...rapidly turns into a collision, an explosion...

...and a fistfight, with very little chasing involved.

Next we tried a couple of Chase scenarios.  During these games most vehicles largely remain stationary on the table, while the terrain travels towards the edge, giving a “rolling road” effect.

This was something that I had been looking forward to trying for quite a while, but our two attempts didnt work out terribly well.  It is likely to me that this was due to the fact that we were using mobs composed of raw recruits, with only one vehicle each (plus the usual caveat about the Yahtzee like random elements in GoMo).

I think that chase scenarios would likely work better with more vehicles involved and with potentially more skilled vehicle drivers (models that is, not necessarily the players) to flatten out the averages on some of the more extreme results of GoMo games.

King of the Hill three way fight.

MTs mob tries to shift the Bigdogz from their tenuous foothold on the plateau while SOSs boyz opportunistically flank the Bigdogz at ground level.

SOS boyz forgo the enfilade in favour of hurtling bodily into one of the Bigdogz trucks, as is traditional in GoMo. This causes engine explosions in both vehicles (also traditional).

The King of the Hill (or “Nob of da Kop” to use the vernacular) scenario turned out to be one of the more enjoyable games for me.

I specifically made the daft but (to my eyes at least) somewhat charming “Kop” with this scenario in mind.  It was fun for me to have a purpose built piece of terrain with its (albeit limited) functionality (well it is large and flat) in full use.

The game was the usual shenanigans of course.  Nonetheless it gave us all a few laughs and was unpredictable fun.  MT won as everyone else ran away but, in true GoMo style the Bigdogz ended up with the lions share of the booty.

Trucks chase around the fort while the Bigdogz rescue their brother in arms.

More tyre squealing antics as MT rescues his comrade from SOSs clutches.

The last couple of games that we played involved the fort.  I was hoping for a little bit of a Mad Max like siege atmosphere and I got a little of that at least.  I got a kick out of finally using the fort (having owned it in various unfinished states for about sixteen years).  The games themselves were mediocre from my perspective (and I think MTs) and “shit” from SOSs perspective if memory serves.

Conclusions

Definitely not for everybody, but despite (and sometimes because of) its failings, Gorkamorka proved to be ridiculous but entertaining fun for a day.  Not something to play every weekend, but for a while every so often, sure.

For a game as profoundly silly as it is Gorkamorka has a far too convoluted post game sequence, for little gain.  If that part of the game were smoother I could see my group playing it more regularly.

Our three mobs have a little history now.

  1. SOSs guys are basically crewing ghost trucks with swabs thin on the ground, but so far they have got away with it via homicidal ramming and dazzling accurate Kannon shots.
  2. MTs guys made an expensive fashion faux pas by buying (useless) Flak armour early on (thats what he gets for not even reading the rulebook in advance 😛 ) but still held the top of the leaderboard pretty consistently for the duration.
  3. My Bigdogz reputation for rubbishness is deserved with spectacularly slow experience advancement and the massive cost of having to replace an expensive atomised truck hampering their lacklustre efforts further.  Still none of them died or got injured and Ginormuz (my leader, “Norm” to his friends) finally won his last game, giving him his much needed compulsory leadership boost.
With the three mobs details on file I suspect that GoMo will get on the table again at a later date.

Gorkamorka Project

CLICK HERE to see all of my Gorkamorka related progress since I wrote this post… boyz, vehicles, forts, buildings, terrain etc

Gorkamorka is a skirmish game system that GW brought out in 1997.  It has very similar mechanics to Necromunda but with the notable addition of vehicle rules that involve a little bit of risk management and a lot of shouting “Yahtzee!”

The game is strongly influenced by Mad Max II: The Road Warrior, except that instead of featuring Mel Gibson, actors from A Country Practice and pervert biker rapists it features orks.

Gorkamorka occurred during an awkward adolescence for orkoid development in 40K.  As a concept they had lost their way at some point before Gorkamorka was released, becoming gaudy buffoons rather than a proper barbaric menace.

Although Gorkamorka definitely didnt wipe that image out (I mean the game is called Gorkamorka for crying out loud), it certainly laid the groundwork for the single-minded, homicidal galactic plague that they became in 40k the 2000s (and which they seem to be moving away from again these days).  A lot of that was simply due to the top class miniatures sculpted by Brian Nelson for the GoMo range which took them from comical to monstrous.

As a GW fanboy I bought GoMo (as it seems to be called online these days) when it came out.  It sounded like fun and I had enjoyed Necromunda, which was largely an identical system.

Unfortunately at the time I didnt have many opponents willing to get into GoMo so it didnt get much table time, just an afternoon or two.  I bought some of the GoMo miniatures back then but they stayed in storage, until I sold on all of the orks to pay for a weekend boozing and clubbing in 2000.  It was the right decision at the time.  At least I kept the Mutie figures.

Zip forward a decade and MT, SOS and I have a weekend of GoMo planned for June.  I dont play 40K any more, MT plays a teeny, weeny bit and SOS is getting back on the 40K scene having played in a weekend long tournament in January, which included painting even more Orks for his already vast, epoch spanning greenskin collection.

We all have a lot of 40k (and other games) under our belts and we are all pretty familiar with the basics of the GoMo system.  SOS already has enough miniatures assembled and painted to field numerous mobs.  I have existing suitable terrain and the enthusiasm to make some more (like the ongoing Fort Grayskull and the recent Foam Rocks).  I am also looking forward to painting some of the nice ork figures that have come out in the last twelve years or so.

Somewhat uncharacteristically, MT is a bit of a wild card this time.  Often he is more reliable when it comes to getting a project finished for a deadline than SOS.  This time SOS has more than enough models ready to go before he starts and MT is in a something of a painting slump (a familiar thing to most figure painters I think).

Even if MT doesnt get his mob painted (it looks like even odds to me right now) he will still be able to use SOS spare figs so it looks like the project will materialise fully.  Hopefully MT will get to play with figures that he has done himself though.  He has had a Space Marine Land Speeder with wheels added to it knocking around for nearly a decade.  That really should get its time in the sun and if not now then when?

The GoMo rules system is familiar and will be quicker to play than Necromunda (its less fiddly for a few reasons).  We have also agreed on a handful of very straightforward streamlining house rules.  They should hopefully help us to get enough games in to watch our mobs gain skills and the like and for us to experience the over the top and hopefully entertaining intra-game Gorkamorka elements (visiting dodgy car mechanics and over enthusiastic doctors with a penchant for amputation).

All of this means that many of the hurdles often encountered when we try to get some gaming off the ground have already been passed.  Hopefully that means that we can concentrate on having fun rather than on rules intricacies or other tedious slog and just have a few giggles.

That in turn means that barring something serious that some GoMo will definitely be played this summer.  So I will be putting my progress on it up here for the foreseeable future, starting with the as yet unnamed ork and his gretchin buddies above.  Here is a picture of one of the grots standing in the mine entrance part of the Fort Grayskull project next to a Copplestone figure (Dr Leghorn), for scale.

In the interests of getting the project finished in a reasonable timeframe the ork and gretchin were painted quickly, with some areas getting simply a base coat and a wash.  Not too bad as a prototype models I think, but I have decided to try a different approach overall.  More on that at a later date.

Comments and criticisms welcomed as ever 🙂

Back To The (Grim, Dark) Future Pt5

Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.

For the final game we switched the forces from the previous game around.  This time the Kouranaya Craftworld Eldar Kill Team would be attacking the Sin Eaters.

GAME 5: Kouranaya Craftworld Eldar Kill Team Vs Sin Eaters Chaos Space Marines

The Sin Eaters set up with squads of three sentries plus Brother Damien leading the defence.

In Kill Team the more exceptions that are made to build the Kill Team force the more sentries are allowed in defence.  Additionally, the defenders are allowed to buy one low level character who in this case was Brother Damien.

Brother Damien and his bodyguard are shown above guarding the dark altar with Trixie the captured Eldar tied up and ready for sacrifice.

MT went for a pretty big, pretty bog standard codex squad Kill Team, with few alterations made to it (the added Howling Banshee being the only one that I remember). This also made for correspondingly smaller defending forces.

Personally my preference for Kill Teams is to use mixtures of figure types to make for a fun, idiosyncratic group of badasses, like the guys from Predator or the A-Team or whatever.  While this may not always be the most effective way of ensuring a win, the team in itself will be a talking point and fun to use.  This meant that I thought that the Kill Team above was dull, even if it meant that it stood a better chance of winning the game.

The vast Kill Team surged forward and swamped the first group of sentries…

…killed them and proceeded towards the next bunch…

…bumped them off…rinsed, repeated…

…and made it to the altar and mangled the defenders there too.  Successful, for the victorious Eldar yes.  For the people playing it was less so.  A humdrum exercise in dice rolling.  Yawn.

———-

Conclusions:  that was dull, but mercifully quick, showcasing the worst of 40k.  The perfect venture to enable me to put all of that stuff behind me again for another five years at least.

I still hope to use my 40k figures in a skirmish level game at some point soon, but as yet I havent found something suitable.  Savage Worlds Showdown is the next rule set that I am going to consider.

Back To The (Grim, Dark) Future Pt4

Parts 1, 2 and 3.

For the second last game of 40k that we played that weekend we decided to try a “Kill Team” scenario.  For those that dont know, Kill Team is a way of playing games using a small, hand-picked force from an army list that doesnt conform to the usual restrictions and getting them to do something cinematic like rescue a hostage, blow up a reactor etc.  It is a potentially fun way to use some of the more oddball figures in your collection to do something worthy of a crappy yet entertaining movie.  One of the main reasons to play miniature games in my opinion.

Kill Team games are also by definition quick affairs with only a handful of figures on one side and not really a vast amount on the other side either, sentry types mostly.

GAME 4: Sin Eaters Kill Team Vs Kouranaya Craftworld Eldar

The Sin Eater Kill Team consisted of three Chaos Space marines (here and here), of which one had a Plasma Gun (right), two Possessed Marines from Squad Nemesis and Sgt Damien, a vintage Nurgle Chaos Renegade that I am very fond of (he oozes character), representing a Veteran Sergeant/Aspiring Champion type.

The Kouranaya Eldar set up around the table in an unalerted state, talking about the good old days ten thousand years ago when they didnt have to live like monks for fear of their souls being devoured by an evil god (represented by the yellow markers.  The unlaerted state that is, not the evil god).  The floating pyramid in the middle of the table is the webway portal which the Kill Team has been sent to destroy.

The Kill Team enter from the East…

…and quickly blow one unit of Guardians to pieces, forcefeed knuckle sandwiches to a second squad and send a third running back home to tell on them.  All in a days work for paranormal, post-human, pestilent pantheon proclaimers.

Although the Kill Team kept the noise down a reasonable amount, most of the Eldar cottoned on (the yellow markers have turned red) and they regrouped ready to provide a reasonably coherent defence of the portal.

The Kill Team is surrounded.  What we got here is a Mexican stand off… ‘cept there aint no Mexicans.

In a potent display of why the Kill Team is comprised of the best of the best (with honours), the Guardians are either killed or driven off, with some casualties to the Sin Eaters.

Sgt Damien allows himself a rare, rotten-gobbed smile as the corrupting influence of Chaos permeates the sacred ground of the Eldar, all according to plan.

——-

Conclusions:  The game was fun, but would probably have been more so if another gaming system was used: it was hampered by the Warhammer system.

I was surprised at the time when GW published the Kill Team rules and even more so when they codified them fully and comprehensively in the 4th edition rulebook.  It showed that they were willing to acknowledge that there was more to figure gaming than just their usual tedious big battle fare.  Within the limitations of the 40k system they did a good job too.

I dont think that the Kill Team rules are included in the current rulebook which is both a sign of the times and a pity.

Part FIVE.

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