Friday, July 24, 2015

Forbidden Stars, Quick Review

The juggernaut that is Fantasy Flight Games rolls on with another quality product. Forbidden Stars is a Warhammer 40K themed strategic level game of system conquest. It is set in the Herakon Cluster, which had been cut off from the rest of the galaxy by powerful warp storms. Now the storms have abated, and four races rush in to claim the systems of the cluster.

2-4 players choose from the Eldar, Space Marines, Chaos, and Ork factions. The game is up to typical high FFG standards, very nice cards, counters, plastics, and map sections. Each faction gets four different ground force units, and two starship types. Each unit represents larger, more capable and expensive units. For example the Marines have Scouts, Marines, Land Raider, and Warlord Titan.
The map tiles have a olde tyme cartography style to them, which fits in great with the 40K Imperial aesthetic.


The game turned out to be a little more complicated than I thought it would be. That is not a bad thing at all. It has a easy learning curve, and pretty much falls into to place about 2/3 of the way through your first game.

The goal of the game is to claim a number of Objective Tokens, the number needed depends on how many people are playing. Each faction has their own specific Objectives scattered around the map. Each World on the map has ratings for how much material it produces each turn, how many units can be on the world, and any special assets you can receive from controlling it. Each World may also have a single Structure, these help with your tech level, defending the World, or being able build units in that system.  

Each turn is made up of three phases: Planning, Operations, and Refresh. Of course the Planning Phase is the trickiest. So much hinges on the choices you make in this phase. If you did not plan to do something it does not happen. Gathering assets, moving forces, building units or structures, and buying upgrades all depend on you thinking ahead and giving the correct orders.

All this planning turns into action in the Operation Phase. Players take turns executing their orders, and if this leads to combat, this is when it happens. Combat seems a bit much at first, but it is a well designed and quick system. It uses cards (which are upgradable) and dice for resolution.

The Refresh phase is where some fun stuff happens, event cards are played (if you planned it!), material is collected from all the Worlds you control, and Warp Storms move about the map, cutting off some movement avenues, and of course you pick up any Objectives you conquered and see if you have enough to win. The game ends on turn eight if nobody has won yet, and the player with the most objectives then is the victor.
Warlord Jake approves of your little game.
Forbidden Stars is a fun, polished game. The 40K-ness is done well but doesn't override gameplay. I look forward to many more plays of this one.
Highly Recommended to strategy fans.

The Emperor Protects
Some days you just have to look at the Big Picture

Friday, July 17, 2015

Free Rules Dude!

Forbidden Stars review on Tuesday. No, really. Today we will have a quick talk about Age of Sigmar. Famous Author Pete and I gave the free rules a spin the night before Comic-Con. Neither of us play Warhammer Fantasy Battles, so this will be a take on AoS just based on the current rules, not "how bad GW has screwed WFB players".

Pete has collected quite an array of Fantasy figs through time. I have some Beastmen (on round bases that are to be used in my mythical Renegade Imperial Guard Army) and some Chaos Spawn figs. More than enough for a test battle. It just felt wrong doing a not-even-primed battle report. Oh well, that's what rum is for.

The four pages of game rules plus Battlescrolls (unit cards) for over a dozen armies are available for free on Games Workshops site. The rules are pretty straightforward, but do have a few soft points. The oddest design choice was the lack of points for any model. "You got some guys I got some guys, let's fight" is fine in theory but difficult in practice. Especially after decades of building armies based on points. So we chose a common internet fix, total wounds per side. it was easy and seemed to give adequate balance. I took 30 wounds of Beastmen, and Pete brough the Brittonians.

The game was fast and fun. the rules have a very familiar feeling, but do have some distinct changes. The Battlescrolls as a total info unit card work very well. They are handy and clearly lay out what the unit can do.
Like I said earlier, neither one of us play WFB, so I don't have any points of contention or comparison. As a 40K player, it seems like a very streamlined version, but not so much that it loses it's flavor. I've been told by more than a few people that WFB is a more strict and/or complicated game than 40K, so maybe the the Age of Sigmar rules are in fact closer to 40K than WFB.

I would have prefered to see a reboot of the WFB world with these new rules (and maybe some point values) but GW doesn't ask for my opinion, so I will not bother with things I cannot control or influence. Time will tell if AoS is a good move or the death knell of WFB.

Of course there has been internet outrage over this, but that is no different from any other time. I can't even imagine what the troll rage would have been like if the internet was as prevalent when 40K moved from 2nd edition to 3rd.

At the end of the day we are just playing with toy soldiers. Pick a set of rules that you and your friends like and go with it.

Overall, it was a good time. A fast and easy ruleset for when you want some fantasy combat time. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

    The Emperor Protects
Like, who's Sigmar?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Four Horsemen

I just finished my Imperial Knights upgrades. I built and painted a Baron in a Knight Warden, and did some various up-gunning to my three existing Knights. Even though it was just fourteen months since the first Knight Codex came out, a lot has changed in the 40K landscape. The new Codex is bigger, with more artwork and painting guides, not to mention three new Knights and five new weapon systems. New Warlord traits and a handful of relics make the new Codex a worthwhile upgrade.

The addition of carapace weapons are a significant improvement for the Knights. It gives them a much needed Anti-aircraft weapon in the form of the Icarus Autocannons.  The two types of missile launchers helps out with light armor threats and/or large squads of infantry.

The new Knight Warden kit comes with all the parts needed to make all the variants. And as a bonus, the two carapace weapons are complete, so you will have one left over to add to a older model.

Keeping with my House Terryn theme, I wanted to make a Baronial Court with four knights, one of each shooty type. Sorry, Gallant, but who the hell wants an all hand to hand Knight?

So my new build, the Baron. I really like the few new bits: Meltagun, fancy tilting shield, and of course the Avenger Gatling Cannon (with built-in Heavy Flamer for the kids!) I did the decals the same way as I did for my first three and had very good results this time too.

My Crusader started out as one of my two Paladins, after a slightly stressful job of removing the chainsword from the left shoulder/arm joint, I replaced it with an Avenger cannon and added a Stormspear missile pod up top.

The Errant has the least amount of work done to it, new faceplate and a missile pod and done!

The remaining Paladin had a left arm upgrade as well, I just had to put the Thunderstrike Gauntlet on one of the Knights. I swapped out a Heavy Stubber for a Meltagun and dropped on the autocannon mount to complete the upgrades.

 The Baron's Lance comes out to a nice 1745 points. Time to see who is can take it on.

Next up, we play the new 40K-themed board game, Forbidden Stars.

The Emperor Protects
Because Giant Robots

Friday, June 19, 2015

Airmobile Assault

We played a Sanctus Reach battle  a few days ago. Mission 10: "Klaw of Gork", a small Imperial Guard strike force must destroy a Ork force field projector so a larger force can attack the traktor beam that is bringing an asteroid down to impact on top of the Guard's mountain fortress.

Three Valkyries, two stormtrooper squads, and a stormtrooper HQ with Commissar Lord comes out to a nice 1200 points. To counter this assault the Orks had three mobs of boyz, a battlewagon, a pile of grots workin' on the force field generator, with a Burna-Bomba in support lead by a Big Mek with his burna boy buddies. The Orks also received a pair of anti-aircraft quad guns, left by the previous owners.

The game was fast and bloody. Some fine shooting from the Guard thinned out the Boyz enough to make a direct assault possible.
The Boys crashed into Bravo squad and killed them over the course of two turns. The Big Mek had the misfortune of being hit by a meltagun firing on overwatch, and that was that for him.
What is the best way to clear out a building full of Orks? Blow it up with the power of Melta. That is what the HQ squad did immediately upon exiting their Valkyrie. The rest of the Orks were routed and the Stormtroopers won the day. The mission was very fast and fluid, and a bit rough for the Orks, but that is what they get for dropping rocks on people.

The Gargant Project is still underway! Go have a look at its progress over at  In The Grim Cheapness of the Future .

Next up, yet more Knights!

The Emperor Protects
And Valkyries do His Work

Friday, June 5, 2015

Carnage Asada 15

4,000 points of Khorne aficionados with 2,000 points of  liberated IG penal legion versus 2K each of Space Wolves, Eldar, and Blood Angels. What does that equal? Epic bloodbath! Atomic Warlords annual BBQ and kill-fest took place and it delivered the goods.

We played a large game of 40K (as opposed to Apocalypse) on a 8'x 6' battlefield with six objectives scattered around the board and one big summoning objective in the center. Victory points were scored at he end of each player's turn, 1 each for the small ones, and three for the big one, plus one for the each sides warlord killed. This kept the objectives simple and the game fast moving. Which it was.

I have was having too much fun and did a terrible job at documenting the battle. Sorry, I have a kunning plan to do better battle reports in the future.

Here are the highlights!

The Marine/Eldar alliance went first and did a good amount of damage to my troops. I lost a Land Raider to a single hit from a Space Wolf Predator and the Brass Scorpion went down under a barrage of Bright Lances.

Pete's Psychic-heavy renegades did an outstanding job throughout the entire game, and summoned all manner of Daemon fun to the table, including a Bloodthirster. He only had a few psykers turned inside out from Perils of the Warp.

Matt brought a Venerable Host of six(!) Blood Angel dreadnoughts, quite an impressive sight, however a first turn traffic jam delayed their arrival at the center of the action.

Jeff's Space Wolves charged fearlessly into the center of the battle and held the summoning circle for two turns. It took 3 squads of Berzerkers, a Heldrake, and the Lord of Skulls to dislodge them.

Mrs. Blackheart's Eldar shot up my forces, but her Cloud Strike formation of Flacons loaded with Aspect warriors kept rolling ones to arrive. When they finally did arrive on turn three they blew up the renegade Shadowsword, my Predator, and a squad of Berserkers. But it was too late. the Forces of Khorne had built up a large lead in VPs.

The Lord of Skulls definitely had Khorne's favor that day. It took a couple of D hits from the Wraithknight before taking said Wraithknight apart in a hail of gatling cannon fire. For an encore it then fought off three Blood Angel dreadnoughts.

After four turns the game was called in a Chaos victory, with quite a kill tally on both sides. It was one of those games that could have easily gone either way, with a few key die rolls making the difference. We all had a good time and the Carne Asada was delicious.

BBQ for the BBQ God!
Skulls too.