Saturday, January 29, 2011

... in which I discuss my new banner, and battle hobby lethargy.

As you may have noticed, I have a new banner! (Much better than the crappy one I designed, but you get quality when you take it to a professional!) John Leftwich did the brilliant artwork you see before you. I posted a link to his portfolio, so hit him up for any graphic design work you need. His work is top notch and his rates are good.

I am such a slacker.

I'm letting a little thing called life get in the way of my hobby. Sheesh.

I know everyone experiences a general malaise from time to time, but it's getting back on track that's the hard part. My trips to the gming stores in the area haven't dropped off, nor has my purchasing, but the time I dedicate to my hobby has all but stopped. Boxes of mini's are accumulating on my desk (not that it wasn't backlogged already...) and I just haven't had the drive to do anything about it.

Mostly, I think it is due to the cold. It's on average in the 10-20 degree range outside, and my work area is in my basement. I can tolerate the cold, but the paint can't. I tried to work on my second monolith probably a week ago, and I gave up after about 5 minutes because the paint was running slower than molasses.

I put a heater next to my desk, and I'm going to turn it on about an hour before I sit down to paint. Hopefully, that will fix the stiff paint issue. If it doesn't, I'm all ears. I need ideas and motivation to get back on the horse and get to painting. Life has pretty much adjusted around the new schedule, so I just need to get the motivation to continue.

With that said, I'm going to turn on the heater, and see if I can get any work done before I have to head off to work this afternoon.

Friday, January 21, 2011 which I discuss something non-Warhammer

Titling this post was a doozy. I know the bulk of my readers out there read because I talk about Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40K. But there is such a vast plethora of other games out there!

Sticking with my Breotonnia theme as of late, I would like to spotlight one of my favorite independant board games.

Shadows over Camelot is a co-operative Arthurian Legend based game. Players work together to complete various quests to help King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table defeat the forces of evil. Obtaining Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake, jousting the Black Knight, and the quest for the Holy Grail are just a few of the different quests contained within the game.

There is even an option for one of the faithful knights to be a traitor, and secretly work to sabotage the other players.

The game comes with a fold out board, and 3 side boards for the quests that can only be completed once (Excalibur, Lancelot/Dragon, and the Grail). Each Knight has his own coat of arms, a power card that outlines what you can do in a turn, and what special properties the knight has.

 Also included in the box are 18 miniatures (7 Knights, 4 Pict Warriors, 4 Celt Warriors and Excalibur, Lancelot's Armor, and the Holy Grail.) All of these are closely in scale to GW's minis. (Hmmm.... I smell a mod coming along....) they are of a good quality plastic and look awesome. There is also a pack of the Knights you can buy seperately from the game, that come pre-painted.

Personally, I'm thinking about picking up the painted knights for use in the board game, then using the unpainted ones to create some really nifty looking Grail Knights.

Partially why I like this game is that is is extremely difficult! The game is only as hard as you make it, and you really have to be firing on all cylindars to win. The base game supports 3-7 players, and it is most difficult with 3 or 7. 4-5 usually makes for a fun game, but more than that, and you find yourself being backstabbed by the traitor, and at 3 you find yourself horribly outnumbered.

Days of Wonder also publishes an expansion for the game, titled "Merlin's Company". This is an absolute must if you own the core game. The expansion adds the dynamic of having Merlin travel with you to aid you on your quests. This does make things much easier, but it also adds some nasty bonuses to the dark side.

My favorite feature of the expansion is the two minis that come in the box, Merlin and Sir Bedevere. This brings the amout of players up to 8, and it also comes with alternate coats of arms for the 6 Knights in the original box. (Not King Arthur) This means that while 8 people cn play at once, there are 15 characters possible to play.

All in all, I absolutely adore Days of Wonder's Shadows Over Camelot. Five out of five.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

... in which I discuss Bretonnian Tactica - Overcoming the Hordes of Skaven

The swarming Hordes of Skaven I find to be a rather challenging army to face. The strength of the Bretonnian Army is their speed and power. A few elite troops that can close the distnce and cause some real damage to an oppenent. Skaven, on the other hand, operate at the exact polar opposite of that tactic. They too, have exceptional speed, but their strength lies more in their numbers. Trust me, no matter how good your company of Knights my be, and even if they kill a clan rat every turn, overcoming the mass amounts of their numbers is extremely daunting.

I have had the most experience in WFB playing against Skaven armies, and typically, the battle goes to whoever can pull off the first sucessful charge. Their are more ways than charging to assure your success in overcoming a Skaven swarm.

First of all, Skaven's leadership is decptive. Yes, it is low, BUT they get a bonus for every rank they have in their unit. This makes it very hard to cause the unit to break, until mass casualties are inflicted on it. Your best choice here is to hold your knights back. Yep, you heard me. Hold them back. Don't get too eager like a young Knigh Errant to charge into battle. Use your knights wisely, and circle them around to the flanks of the rats, and make sure to stay out of their charge range. A pack of battle frenzied clan rats will give you a really bad day.

Skaven armies typically also come with artillery of some sort, whether it is warp fire throwers, warp lighting cannons, poison wind globadiers, doom wheels... you get the picture. They are gonna toss a lot of ranged weapons at you, so don't feel too bad about doing it back. I find it very usefull to have my peasant bowman target one weapon, and keep firing on it until it is destroyed. Especially warp fire throwers. Template weapons are not very friendly to knights.
On your key charging units, make sure to take the Banner of Chalons, so that opposing units may not use the "stand and shoot" reaction. This will help stave off some of the casualties from charging these type of units.
The Trebuchet is also your best friend here. Against skaven, I definately recommend taking one, but take two if you can afford it! Lobbing very large rocks into the scores of clan rats is extremely effective. If you can cause enough casualties from your trebuchet, the knights will have no problem mopping up the remainder.

Packs of Rat Ogres may look intimidating, but handled right, they go out way more quickly than the skaven player would like. Bretonnian Lords on a successful charge can wipe out an entire unit. Hit them in the flank, and land a lot of hits. I suggest taking a Hippogryph as a mount for this,  the extra attacks from the mount can really make a difference. If you can swing it, Grail Knights are also really effective against Rat Ogres.

Speaking of Grail Knights, the living saints rule is your best friend. Challenge any and all characters you can. Get them locked in combat and out of their unit. Keep challenging. Make them refuse and break, then ride them down with extreme predjudice.

The Grail Reliquae is the best "sandbox" in the game in my opinion. Sure, it's WS is low, and Battle Pilgrims are just about useless, but their fervor for battle (and the fact that because of the Reliquae they are nigh on impossible to kill), they are the absolute best at tying up an oppsing unit, and keeping it out of battle. I will charge my reliquae right up to the biggest thing on the board, like the Hellpit Abomination, and just let it weather the attacks. It keeps that monstrosity off my main force, nd it usually take 3-4 turns to get rid of the reliquae. My goal, however, is not to sacrifice the reliquae, but to tie up that unit until my knights can circle around and charge it in the rear. No matter how big and nasty something is, if you isolate it, and pinch it between the Reliquae and a rear charging unit of Grail Knights, it is going down.

Magic can also aid here. The lore of Life is usually what I opt for, and the Shield of thorns spell is really effective when cast on either the reliquae or a unit that is locked in close combat.

To sum it all up: Skaven are fast, perhaps faster than the Bretonnians. Charging them is still the best way of dealing with them, however, you can not get charged by them. Kiss the battle goodbye if that happens. Challenge their characters, and isolate them from their packs. Use Archers, and lots of them. Trebuchets as well. Men at Arms are just about useless, they will be horribly outnumbered.

The Skaven will outnumber you. You will have to break their ledership, and inflict mass casualties. Your ranged weapons are your first line for this, and try to hit them in the flanks, or the rear if possible.

Let's hear how you deal with those pesky rats! Leave a comment and describe your experience.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

... in which I discuss Bretonnian Tactica - The Knights

The noble Knights of the Realm of Bretonnia are truly the heart and soul of the Bretonnian Army. As a core unit and being calvary, they are a bit more expensive point wise, but used correctly, they can be ten times as devastating as any unit on the board.

In this article, we will look at the 5 types of Knights, their strengths and weaknesses, and the best way to utilize them.

Lets start with a breakdown of a typical knight of the realm. He is on a barded warhorse, which suffers no penalty for being barded, as it is a pure bred warhorse. This gives the knights the swiftstride special rule. Swiftstride: If all units in the group have the swiftstride special rule, when charging, fleeing or pursuing, roll 3d6 and discard the lowest result. This is one of the lynchpins of the knights, in any form. A charge from the knights is devastating, and swiftstride makes it so you can accomplish this with great success.

The knight is equipped with  hand weapon, lance, heavy armor and shield. This makes the knights armor save 2+, as he gets the 4+ from the heavy armor and shield, an additional +1 from being calvary, and another +1 from the horse being barded. And yes, all of these stack to give the knights an impressive 2+ armor save. (Pg. 83 WFB, 8th ed.)

The hand weapon is nothing special. The Lance, which 4 out of the 5 types of Knights is equipped with (Questing Knights are not, more on them later) is where it's at. The Lance grants +2 Strength on the charge attack. I will go into more about this in each Knight type description.

Speaking of the Lance, all Bretonnian Knights but Pegasus Knights can use The Lance Formation. This is a powerhouse for the Bretonnian Army. Any unit of Knights may begin the game in the Lance formation, or may reform into it. What the Lance formtion does: instead of having to be 4 units wide for a rank bonus, the knights only need to be 3 wide. In addition to this, the charge attack gets really nasty. All knights in the first rank fight as normal, and all knights in the second rank may give their supporting attacks. AND, all knights on the flanks may attack as well, no matter how deep. For example, you have a unit of 15 knights, arranged 3 wide and 5 deep. All 3 in the front rank get to attack, all 3 three in the second rank, and the 3 from EACH flank get to attack as well, for a total of 12 attacks on the charge! Dont forget: that the charge only does this work, that you are striking at +2 strength, and that your mounts get to attack as well! That's another 12 attacks from your horses. This is why it is imperitive to charge with the knights, and to eliminate your opponent. If they survive the charge and stay locked in combat, Only the front rank of knights can fight as normal, with the second rank giving their supporting attacks, and they lose the +2 strength of the lance.

A couple other notes about the lance formation: Characters must always go in the front rank, displacing chmpions, standard bearers, and musicians to the second or third rank, as needed. This is OK though, as they still operate as normal even though they are not in the front rank. A Damsel or Prophetess of the Lady may ride in the second rank of the knights, and still be able to cast their magic. And lastly, and this is kind of a biggy, casualties. Casualties inflicted on the lance formation are taken from the rear middle rank, leaving the flanks, then the flanks are removed. Going back to our example of 15 Knights, if you lose 4 to casualties, you would remove the back rank entirely, and then the one in the MIDDLE of the 4th rank, so that you still get the flnk attack bonuses on the next charge.

Calculating the combat result is a monster for a Knight unit on a charge. For example, our 15 Knights charge 30 Orcs and kill 6. The orcs retaliate and kill 2 knights. The Orcs get 3 points for ranks and one for a standard bearer, and 1 for kills, for a total of 5. The knights get 1 for charging, 6 for kills, one for a standard bearer, and 3 for ranks, for a total of 11. (I also suggest any unit of knights taking the Magic Banner War Banner, +1 to combat resolution) Also, get into the ememies flanks or rear since you have the movement to do so!!! The orcs fail by 6, and take a Ld test at -6. Now, you want them to fail, obviously, as they will break and flee, and remember, as being calvary, you get to roll 3d6 and discard the lowest to persue and cut them down! This is particularly effective, as they are taking a -6 penalty on their 7 Ld, meaning that they must roll a 2 or break. Sounds like some Orcs are going to get trampled.

Now, let us look at the Knight units individually.

Knight Errant - 20 pts.
The brash young new Knights. Their stat line is identical to the Knight of the Realm, with the exception of their weapon skill is 3, compared to the 4 of the Knight of the Realm's 4, and their Ld is 7, compared to an 8. They also have the special rules Impetuous and the Knights Vow. The Knights Vow lets them ignore Panic, and any unit with the Peasant's Duty. Impetuous states that if they could charge, and they did not, they must make a Ld test or charge anyway. This is the trade off for the points really. Unit size of 5-15

Knight of the Realm, the core troop. - 24 pts.
They have the Knight's Vow special rule.
8   4     3   3  3  1  3 1  8
Unit size of 5-15

Questing Knight - 28 pts.
Questing Knights have the Questing Vow. This states that they can NOT use a magical or mundane lance. Instead they get a Great Weapon. Still +2 Strength, but not as effective because great weapons always strike last. They also get to ignore Panic and re-roll failed psycology tests. They may not be joined by a unit that has the Knights vow. Their S and I are 1 better than a Knight of the Realm. Unit size 5-12

Grail Knight - My favorite unit - 38 pts
Grail Knights have the 0-1 restriction, and a unit size of 3-12.
They have the Grail Vow and the Living Saint Special rule. Living Saint lets any Grail Knight issue and accept challenges like a Champion. The Grail Vow makes these Knights Immune to psycology, they get to ingore Panic, Fear, and Terror.
Their stat line is impressive.
M  WS BS  S T W I A Ld
8     5     3    4 3  1  5 2  8
There are ways to get more of these units on the table. They Fey Emchantress my come with a retinue of "Grail Guardians" of 2-8. These Guardians are identical to the Grail Knights. King Louen also only rides with the best, and the 0-1 restriction is lifted if he is your General.

Pegasus Knight - 55 pts.
Pegsus Knights have one more Toughness and Wound compared to a Knight of the Realm. They are also flying calvary.This gives them all the rules as fast calvary with the fly specil rule. Fly lets them ignore terrain and move 10'. The fast calvary part lets them use the vanguard for deployment (12' move after deployment). They still get their swiftstride on charge, flee and persue, but they do not get to use the lance formation. They also get to reform for free. They can also use feigned flight. This lets them flee from a charge, and automatically regroup next turn, no roll needed. They can still get chased down, but this is unlikely with the swiftstride. Unit size is 3-10, with a 0-1 restriction. This restriction can be lifted but having a Lord mounted on a Pegausus in command of your army.

In my next article, I will go into more depth with how these units fit into the scheme of an army.

For the Lady! For the King! FOR BRETONNIA!!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011 which I discuss painting Bretonnian Heraldry

Now that I have fended off the Lesser Daemons of Nurgle, it is time to delve back into the world of painting.

I will confess, when I chose to play Bretonnians in WFB, I let my professional world collide with my hobby. You see, I am finishing my degree in history, and to keep it short and to the point, my specialty is Medieval Europe. I also do a lot of research into geneaology, and with that comes heraldry. So, not only do I now all the symbology, I know how to research particular family crests.

My own families coat of arms:

This lends itself well to such an army, as a way to personalize my army, and to have some real pride and sense of connection to the army.

Painting the heraldry is easier than you think. Take a look at my Knight of the Realm Gallant.
All heraldry will have 2 primary colors, with a thrid color to use in a minor capacity. My family's heraldy is relatively simple, being only 2 colors and 2 gold bars on a blue field with a gold bend(diagonal). I'll go into more detail below about how to do custom graphics for the heraldry in a bit, lets stick with the design first.

Just like painting anything, you should work from light to dark. I have a heck of a time working with white and yellow, they just seem to disagree with me. I started by priming the sheild gray, then completely pinting the shield Vomit Brown. Then I built up painting the entire shield yellow, to ensure that would be a bright and vibrant color. Next, I masked off the bars and bend. Tamiya does make some model masking tape, but I just used regular blue masking tape I picked up from Home Depot's painting section. I just cut the tape into small strips of the desired size with my hobby knife. Once that was masked off, I could paint the blue part of the shield, and it was done. Rinse, repeat 4 times on the horses coat.

Now not all coat of arms are as easy. 

This is the coat of arms of the royal family of England. Queen Elizabeth & Prince Charles family. Even in miniature, this coat of arms would be possible to do.

 The easiest way would be to put it thru photoshop, and print it on water slide decal paper. Testors makes 2 kinds, clear & white, and they are readily available at your local Hobby Lobby, Michael's or craft store. BE CAREFUL. You must also pick up a can on decal bond spray, to lock the image in place! Otherwise, the ink will disintegrate when you put the decal in water.
I prefer to use the clear paper, then I can overly they symbols on whatever color field without having to cut too close to the image. For something as complex as the Windsor coat of arms, I would actually go with white, and print the whole image. 

I hope this makes heraldry a little less intimidating to paint, regardless of whatever army you play.  If you are interested in looking into your own family heraldry, you can visit House of Names. Their search engine is pretty good, but of course individual familes crests and arms will vary depending on about a billion factors, so it is not 100%, but it's a step in the right direction.

Monday, January 3, 2011

... in which I am visited by Nurgle

In my usual tradition, the damons of Nurgle brought me the plague on New Years. Every year this happens, without fail. Granted, it's just a head/chest cold, not the actual plague, but it is enough to lay me up, and ground me to the couch for a few days.

On the positive side, this gives me plenty of time to contemplate what my next group of tasks will be in the hobby world.

I still need to finish up my 2nd Bretonnian Lord on Hippogryph conversion, and I still have the bulk of my Bretonnian Army to paint.

I was also able to pick up some Necron units as well, so I have those to work on as well.

I have 52 troops for a Death Korps of Kreig Army to build.

I also have terrain to build... I picked up Witchfate Tor over the holidays, and I still want to build a lake piece of terrain.

Plus, I usually have about a dozen or so non-wargame miniatures in various states of completion.

I guess all of this spare time is really just bringing into focus how much hobby work I am behind on. SO, I put it to you, the blog community, how many projects do you tend to juggle at a time? When is enough enough, and when do you kick it into high gear to catch up?

On another note, SeerKarandras and I have been kicking around the idea of doing a podcast. What are your thoughts/reactions?

Well, off to have another round of Robotussin. Happy New Year everybody!