Saturday, May 23, 2020

Glazier's Creek

Hi all,

Some of you, sufficiently long of tooth, may recall an old White Dwarf article where a band of heroic imperial guard held off wave after wave of orks.  Loosely based on (the movie version of) Rourke's Drift, the scenario, Glazier's Creek, was recently given a refit in last years WD run, with Astra Militarum and a few friends doing their best to repeat the feat.  After a fairly long lobbying campaign by the Cub, we played it out over the last week or so.  Turns out, it was a ripping set of games, came right down to the wire, and was the most fun I've had playing 40k in a while.

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The warband of Arz Khazor gathers.

Cub opted to play the attacker, and used my orks (which he's been painting off and on for the last little while).  After some waffling (I almost ended up using his Space Marines, believe it or not), I chose my Khorne Chaos Marines / World Eaters; choosing an almost exclusively attack-oriented army to play on defense was possibly not the smartest move I could have made.  Turned out to be a fun choice (as always), and I ended up with a neat backstory for my Khorne Lord about where he got his daemon weapon ;)

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One of many ork mobs to hit the table.

Our collection of 28mm buildings is pretty limited, but we made do defining a space with my Khorne Altar (which is in dire need of a paintjob), and Cub's set of ruins (which he put together just before the game).  The scenario basically depends on creating a defensible space that gives cover, and designating one building as the hospital (those of you who've seen ZULU! will understand why).

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Boys before toys.

The ork player secretly chooses a number of "waves", and then rolls on a table for a selection of units of different power levels, with the precise options varying depend on what number of waves has been chosen.  The defender picks a single force of 50 power level, and this is what they play with through all the games (each wave is one game).  For the defender, casualties are cumulative, with the proviso that models lost check at the end of the game, a roll is made to see what happens, with a 1 in 3 chance that the model will be dead, "in the hospital", or back in action for the next game.  The net effect is that the defender, who starts out on even terms, but in good cover, becomes more and more outnumbered as games are played, as casualties mount, and the opposing attacker grows in strength.

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It's a good thing I like painting red.

A game / wave ends when the attacking force is reduced to half of it's original starting number of models.  Attacker wins if they eliminate all living models inside the perimeter of Glazier's Creek, and the defender if they fight off the attackers.

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Lots and lots of red.

I opted for a fairly "shooty" force, at least for Khorne, with a unit of berzerkers, a unit of marines, a unit of 20 "shooty" cultists, 2 obliterators, a Khorne Lord, and a Dark Apostle.  I figured while things would eventually get to close quarters, have something that could reach out and damage the orks on their way in would be a good thing.

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The Dark Apostle didn't live long enough to get a name ;)

I managed to beat off the first wave relatively easily.  Cub charged in his units fairly piecemeal, and I was able to concentrate my responses and take them out.  I did, however, make one major miscalculation, and put my Dark Apostle in a bad spot.  This made him an eligible target for shooting, and Cub didn't miss the opportunity.  He also showed a distressing habit of concentrating fire on critical assets like my obliterators (among the few "heavy" shooters I have), and the first game ended with me down one of the big boys, along with the Apostle (who's morale abilities and close-combat re-roll aura were critical to making the cultists effective).

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Orks, orks, orks.

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These shoota boyz and I go way back.

Game two was a repeat of game one, but with Cub playing even smarter, and me starting to feel the pressure.  He again concentrated fire on my ranged assets, taking out the bulk of my "shooting" marines, and the other obliterator, leaving me with little to counter any heavy armour he might bring in later waves.  While not as many of my guys were outright eliminated, there were a distressing number "in the hospital" by game's end.  I did catch a couple of breaks, using a stratagem to essentially "regenerate" my cultist unit, and taking advantage of his disembarking a unit of grots to make a bunch of kills and close the game quickly.

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My original Khorne Lord standing in as a unit champion.

Game 2 also saw Cub begin to concentrate on the hospital.  As this "contains" models still potentially in the game, it's a necessary target.  He managed to get his Killa Kans into it on the last turn, and they would have likely "popped" the building had another turn been played - another reason why taking out the big mob of grots was a lucky break.

What was left at the start of the third game.

Game 3 (which turned out to be the last wave) was a squeaker.  From the start, I was pretty much convinced Cub had it in the bag, as there were a lot (and I mean A LOT) of orks, and ork units, on the table.

There were so many orks on the table!

Fuzzy, but you get the idea.  There was a lot of armour too.

I've had the shokk attack gun for ages.  He got it together, and managed to get some paint on.  Thing is seriously scary - I was missing out ;)

"Binky", by longstanding tradition, is the name of my ork Warboss.

To survive, I had to kill 43 models, half of what he had on the table.  With my forces gutted by the first two games, I didn't really have much in the way of a response to his heavy armour.  I did have an ace in the hole, however, in that I had kept back enough power points to summon a unit of daemons.  I wasn't sure how much good 10 bloodletters were going to do, but I'd take what I could get.

Start of a paint job on the Lord.

With my Dark Apostle gone, only my Lord could summon them - and only by sacrificing his movement.  That left me with some choices to make.  I basically had to take out two of his 20-man mobs (2 orks, 1 grot), plus three more models.  My berzerkers, especially, could do work there, but not behind the walls.  Move out?  Or stay hunkered down?

The big gamble.  Stay and get shot, or charge out, and risk losing the objective?

After Cub moved up turn 1, and put enough firepower into the Berzerker to thin their ranks (and tear up the cultists fairly badly), it was kind of a no brainer; use 'em, or lose em'.  I moved the berzerkers towards the ork mob, and used a stratagem to recycle (and reposition) the cultists between orks and gretchin.  I also left my Lord behind, who summoned in the Bloodletters to add another threat to the table.

Bloodletters.  Squishy, but they rarely disappoint on the charge.

Cultists "teleport" out; and endless tide of traitors.

Now I needed my charges to go off; if I was going to take out two mobs, it was pretty much now or never.  Rolled for the berzrkers, and they went in.  Rolled for the cultists . . . and they came up short.  That was okay, I still had the bloodletters, who promptly also failed.  I used one of my two remaining command points to reroll one of the charge dice . . . and still failed.

Such a fuzzy picture for such a pivotal moment.

One the one hand, berzerkers are really good at killing orks.  They wiped out an entire mob of orks (just the 6 of them), and I burned my last strategem to consolidate into the second unit (protecting me from shooting, at least as long as I was in combat).

That's better.

On the other hand, I had two units hanging in the wind, and the bulk of the ork army heading for the objective, with only my Lord and 4 marines to defend it.  Cub opened up his turn by rather craftily teleporting his grot mob to safety with a psychic power, and then followed with a massive salvo directed straight at my chaos lord.  It was crazy - there was a battlewagon, two deff dreds, three kill kans, a shock attack gun, a buggy, and assorted ork mobs - all of them unloaded.  When the smoke cleared, my Chaos lord was battered, but still standing, and daring the orks to come on.

The last stand of Arz Khazor.  Or is it?

Sadly, after being charged by three killa kans, he finally went down.  I took some consolation in that by surviving, and speedbumping the ork advance on that flank, he'd bought me another turn to try and thin down the ork horde.

If the 'Kans don't get him . . . .

At that point, it was all or nothing.  I damaged one of the killa kans with shooting, and then charged the bloodletters into the killa kans, and the cultist mob into the ork mob still standing.  The bloodletters did well, finishing off the wounded 'kan, and taking out another.  I needed to take out 5 more models to win.  I then proceeded to nearly have a heart attack when a band of almost 20 cultists completely whiffed against the orks.  It was down to the last few berzerkers, who reduced to 3, managed to close it out.

Hail the glorious dead!  Although, Arz made his role to "live".  He'll be back.

What a bonkers set of games.  I was convinced at several points through the last one that there was no way I was going to pull it out.  Cub played well; he's growing up fast, and is plenty cunning when he puts his mind to it.  Targeting my shooting early put me on my back foot in the later stages of the "campaign", and had a couple of die rolls gone the other way in the last couple of turns, he would have pulled it out.  He also made a point of looking to use stratagems more this game, which I think is a big jump in his play.  Once he becomes more familiar with the options, and gets a sense of how to time their use, I think he'll start winning more than he loses.

In the meantime, I got in three fun games against my boy, got to play through a scenario I've read about, and wanted to play, for going on 20 years, and had a blast doing it.  I also was motivated enough to get some painting done on the force, and will likely keep at it now that the games are over.  We've tentatively planned to run the scenario again, this time swapping roles.  I may try my Khorne daemons as the attacking horde (they just got a shot of fresh blood, pun intended), against (most likely) his marines.


Thursday, May 14, 2020

Still not dead (now not as funny)

Hi all,

I do realize it's been months since the last post, and my usual jokes about not being dead are likely less amusing in the midst of the worst global pandemic of my lifetime.  Painting doldrums, busy at work, and then the impact of Covid put a crimp in painting, hobby and posting for quite a while.

We in Monkeyland are, however, all well.  We have both kids with us for the duration, I'm still working (albeit from home), and we have the good fortune to live in an area of the country which was both exposed late, and which had a fairly aggressive crack-down.  Taken together, so far, so good.

I have been picking away at a range of projects here and there, mostly in 15-20 min increments, and will  try to get some pics and posts up on the blog.  It seems like a good time to make a point of connecting, or re-connecting, with the online community.  Historical stuff has been primarily 6mm, but I finished up my Flesh-Eater Courts for Age of Sigmar, and have been puttering with some other projects as well.  The Cub has also been working away, and even the Puddin' has been doing some painting from time to time.  All will be revealed.

I do hope you are all well, and keeping as safe and secure as one can amidst all that is going on.


Saturday, January 18, 2020

A New Hope

Hi all,

Finally managed to meet up with the local historical crowd, for an honest-to-goodness historical game.  I keep pinching myself to make sure it really happened ;)

The looping river is impassable, the offshoots just irritating.

Thanks to the generosity of the Beloved, who covered both the kids' rec and the pup for the day, I was able to get out for a Napoleonics game in the area, run by the redoubtable Armchair General.  A re-fight of Friedland, the game was the last in a campaign series the local gang have been playing through (beginning with Austerlitz!).  The AG not only provided a vast array of 15mm figures, but also arranged the terrain, and managed to both umpire / rules reference and play, which kept the game moving well.

Some of the AGs many forces at play.

The rules were Napoleon's Battles, an older ruleset.  My impression is that they date from an era when people were starting to try and write more abstract rules focused on command and control, but sell them to people accustomed to tables, charts, and granular die roll modifiers.  The net result was a pretty steep learning curve, and we only got to turn 4 (IIRC).  I suspect more familiarity with the rules would speed up play (I wasn't the only new guy, at least to the rules), but what we managed to get through was fun.

My command moving up in support of the cavalry.

I had a fairly small command, which made things a lot easier, running a couple units of infantry with attached guns - call it a division.  Friedland historically was a game where the Russians started out attacking the French, and ended up disastrously defending as French reinforcements poured onto the field.  In our game we did a little better, mostly punching through the initial French defence, but I suspect had we played the game out longer, they would have rallied, and at least stalled our attack.

The Russian right flank.  Out of picture were the dastardly French.

Terrain was a huge factor in the game.  A largely impassible river (with only a few bridges) cut the table more or less in two down the middle for a good chunk of its length, and a series of smaller tributaries broke up the rest of the table.  Our attack (as I was playing Russians, of course), had to cross several of these.  They were passable, but with the addition of other constraints on terrain and movement, meant that we were basically fighting through a succession of natural barriers on a narrow front.  It pretty quickly became clear how the Russians ran into trouble in the historical event.

The guard marching.

A bit of a thrill for me was actually getting my unit of painted Russian guard on the table (not a perfect fit with their basing, but the AG accommodated).  As it turns out, they ended up the game marching to the guns, but I figure it still counts.  Given I bought the damn things back in Toronto who knows how many years ago, any use in anger will do ;)

Close enough now to move into attack column

Trails of Russian reinforcements - had the game continued, they would have played a larger role.

I have to say, the game looked great on the table - really showed off what massed 15mm can do.  Me being me, I came home all a-twitter with thoughts of digging out the rest of my AB15s.  Dinner, and a period of reflection, have me easing back a bit, but I suspect they may see the light of day yet - as a painting project, if nothing else.

The main bridge at Friedland - became something of a logistical choke point.

I have to say, I had a great time.  The group was super-welcoming to a new guy, and very patient with my sundry rules questions.  I tentatively broached the prospect of organizing a 6mm game, and seemed to get some enthusiasm in response, so I suspect a bit of planning is in order.  I'll have to take a look at what I can pull together from my collection, and think about possible rules and scenarios.  There's likely to be some painting needed as well (at least for any kind of nominally historical match-up), so that bears looking into as well.  Definitely feeling up about the prospects of more historical gaming in future, however, and assuming they have me back, will be seeing this crew again.


Friday, January 10, 2020

Looking ahead

Hi all,

Things are proceeding slowly in Monkeyland, but they are proceeding.  The puppy is settling in, work and school have resumed, and while I don't have a ton of time for painting and playing (and haven't been able to get down to the shop to play), all is not lost.  I have been trying to carve out at least a little bit of time most days (even if it's 20 minutes) to pick away at some miniatures, and the Cub and I were able to get in a short game before he went back to his mom's post Christmas holiday.



I actually got my orks on the table for the first time in who knows how long (seems like at least a year).  I hit something of a wall with them a while back, both for painting and playing, but of late have been feeling the urge. Didn't regret it, either ;)



We played a pretty stripped-down scenario.  Three objectives, whoever controlled the most won the game.  I took it, but I think mainly due to the small table we play on.  It means the Cub, who has a mainly shooting army, doesn't have long before my guys (whether Khorne or Orks) get into close combat.  That gives me a decided advantage.  Unless I play sloppy, and he gets in a couple of chump shots, it gives me an edge.  Might have to look into rigging a full 6x4 table, though I suspect that's more of a summer project.


I've been reading a fair bit of New Year's posts from people, along with the usual resolutions to paint more, play more, and paint minis before buying minis.  I'd like to resolve that I will paint all my unpainted stuff before buying more, but who am I kidding?  I do think I'll likely buy less this year, as I have a heck of a backlog of stuff I would like to paint and get on the table.  I think it's reasonable to aim to paint more than I buy, and will at least try to use that as a guideline for the next while.

That said, I have a few MESBG figures close to finished (Eomer and some Galadhrim), as well as some historicals.  If I manage to keep picking away, I should have some painting posts for the next couple weeks.  By then, things might settle down enough that I even get out for a game.


Thursday, January 2, 2020

What I did on my Christmas holidays

Hi all,

Truth be told, I didn't do as much as I might have another year, for all the reasons noted in recent posts.  Did, however, manage to finally finish up some Napoleonic Cossacks who's been glaring at me accusingly the last month or so:

Don we now . . . 

 . . . our gay apparel?

They're intended as "Don-ish" cossacks.  While there were a few different cossack formations that formally had uniforms, it seems to have been pretty common for cossacks to wear more or less whatever they damn well pleased.  I painted some of these guys up in blue Don uniforms, some in brown, and a few in a mix.  The black shapkas tie them together well enough.  Played around with the formations too, looking for something less organized than my previous cavalry base.

In addition, the MESBG fiend I mentioned a post or two back was able to come over to the house for a few games.  We roped in the Cub, and had several Battle Companies games.  I think I only got pictures from the first, but a good time was had, and I was delighted to actually get a chance to play.

Mordor started on the hill, but opted for the better part of valor.

Rohan closing in.

Fights break out.

There can be only one.

I'm hoping to get out at some point in the next couple of weeks, as I owe a game to another buddy, and a BC campaign is getting going down at the shop, so fingers crossed on that score.  Not sure what I'll run.  The organizers are running it as a historical Arnor / Angmar fight.  I'm tempted to paint up some of the Lothlorian figs I picked up a while back, but to run them in BC I need wood elves, and I'm trying hard not to buy new stuff.  Maybe just use it as an excuse to paint up another batch of Rohan foot - with the new book, there's the potential for a non-mounted army that might be fun to try.

In the meantime, I've been prepping some more 6mm Austrians, and picking away at both some Lybian foot and Eomer, whenever I can steal a few moments.  Work starts up in a few days (I'm already deluged by emails), as does school for the kiddos, so some kind of routine will assert itself, no doubt.  Until then, enjoy whatever's left of your holiday!


Friday, December 27, 2019

The year I stop worrying and learn to love the hobby?

Hi all,

It's been an odd year in Monkeyland, at least as far as hobby goes.  Started off with a fairly long hiatus, at least in terms of the blog, and led into a period where I seem to have been bouncing around all over the place, between genres, periods, and scales. I started up at least two projects that are likely to have "legs" (my ogres for AoS, and 6mm Napoleonic Russians).  I picked up my first 28mm ancients, and will eventually get around to posting up some test figures.

Lots more where these came from

These guys are just . . . lots.

Most of my games were fantasy or sci-fi.  Some 40k with the Cub, lots of Middle Earth, and some AoS.  We moved house, and I finally have a dedicated hobby room, and space I can "occupy" for larger games if needed.  Mind you, my office spent the last several weeks as a storage depot for Christmas related stuff, so I'm looking forward to reclaiming my little den.

The boy's Space Marine fighter about to do terrible, terrible things.

One thing I've run up against this year is my tendency to "Magpie".  I have so many different projects on the go, I've gotten to the point where, whenever I work on one thing, it feels like I'm neglecting something else.  My hobby, at times, has begun to feel like work.  If there's any sort of coherent hobby goal I have for 2020, it'll be that I get over the tendency to feel "bad" about unfinished / in progress stuff.  My aim for the year will be to work on what I want, when I want (and can - there will be more demands on my time, with house and dog and work), and enjoy whatever it is I do.

I did play and paint a fair bit of MESBG.  Probably more in store.

There's some tantalizing new stuff on the horizon.  I heard just the other day that a new edition of Muskets and Tomahawks is due to come out early next year.  I have stuff painted up for the game, have more stuff to paint, and also have some half-finished terrain.  I can see the rules release being a spur to that project.  Although I ended up opting out of the Clash of Spears kickstarter (December has been a little tight between dog, Christmas, and some work on the car), I'm still interested in scaling up the Carthaginian project.  Might use Song of Blades and Heroes to start, and then see where things go.  Another maybe as an interim ruleset is DBA, for which I picked up the new rules in 2019.

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The big book of armies I've never heard of.

If I'm going to play Cassandra, I figure these are the projects that will see the most traction in 2020:

1. 6mm SYW / Napoleonics.  These are pretty reliable for painting, as I enjoy the process, and can generate units in a feasible amount of time, which gives me the happy little endorphin rush from getting things done.  With Nap Russians, and Russians, Austrians, Anglo-Hanoverian, and French options in SYW (plus HRE, I guess), there's plenty of variety to keep me engaged, and even the prospect of a solo game, or a real one if I can round up an opponent.

Maurice is even fun solo.

2. AoS Ogres, and assorted Chaos.  I've got a backlog to paint, enjoy painting them, and there's an active gaming scene to keep me engaged.  The new Slaves to Darkness book dropped, breathing life into some of my favorite, but underused, minis.  Plus, I got the ogre half of the "Feast of Bones" box for Christmas, so plenty of ogors to mess about with.

The Khorne horde continues to expand, with some generic Chaos and Beasts to support it.

3.  Middle Earth.  Rohan just got a new book, I've got stuff to paint, and one of my most regular gaming opponents is a middle earth fiend.  Good odds on this stuff.

All the Helm's Deep stuff in the new book might get me to paint more foot models.

3. 40k.  Cub likes 40k, I like spending time with my boy.  One thing leads to another.

Also, kitchen table 40k is fun.

4. 28mm Carthaginians.  Going to make time for these, I think.   No rush, this is my "big boy rest of life" project, but if I buy new stuff this year for historicals, it's likely to be this.  Might even spring for a hard copy of HC or something.  This is also my historial outlet for the more "toy soldier" side of the hobby, which I've been missing of late.

I'd also really like to try and get an honest to god game in with the local club.  There's a napoleonics game scheduled for January, and it's close, so I'm going to book the day and call in my marriage points to make it.  Been too long since I've played some historicals, and I'd like to actually get to know some of the local historical players.  Fingers crossed.

Stuff that might happen, but is less likely to:

1.  Games at the G-Dub.  At least for the next few months, the puppy is, well a puppy.  She needs lots of love, discipline, and attention, and the Beloved and I are alternating nights on the couch, as she needs to get up fairly often still.  It means taking a whole evening off a week to go downtown and game is harder to manage.  Add in the extra work I'll be doing around the house come spring, some emerging projects at "proper" work, and the added distance to travel post-move, and I suspect free time will be a little more constrained in general.  Doesn't mean no games, but likely less frequency.  I'm hoping, once things settle a little, to maybe get some people over to the house for games, but again, that likely won't be every week.

2.  15mm historicals.  I have some ancients, some medievals, some Napoleonic Russians, and some FIW figures a-calling me.  I wouldn't write any of these projects off, as I enjoy all of them, but they're not current priorities, and there's little stimulus to get painting done on these as a priority over other stuff.  The Muskets and Tomahawks reboot might alter that, but without a local opponent, who knows?

3. WWII.  I occasionally get the urge to paint some 15mm / FoW stuff, and I did up another batch of 6mm 3d printed tanks, but unless something really odd happens, I can't see this being a major thing this year.  Wouldn't rule out a little tinkering though.

Glory days.  For the Motherland.

4. In the definitely maybe category, there's 28mm Napoleonics, or even (*gasp*) 54mm napoleonics.  This would be driven purely by the eye candy that Victrix keep throwing across my FB feed.  It also plays back to what I mentioned about 28mm being my "toy soldier" outlet.  As much as I enjoy "historical wargaming", and actually prefer smaller scales, esp 6mm, for big battle stuff, there's a joy in physically manipulating recognizable, discrete "figures" on the table.  54mm would be strictly a lark, but I've found I really enjoy painting the GW ogres; there's something about the large, chunky figures that's satisfying to handle, and I can see that translating to larger scale historicals.

I mean, most of us get our start in the hobby via this route, and while I cherish the effect of element basing, sometimes I don't want to use pretty game tokens, I want to play a game of toy soldiers.  I can't say this is something I'm consciously planning to do, but given it's an idea I've toyed with (ha!) for years, I wouldn't rule out some tinkering here either.

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I mean, honestly.  How can I resist this? 
Whatever I end up doing, I think the goal this year will be to take my time, relax, and enjoy the hobby.  I have lots to paint, lots to play with, and, at least over the course of the year, lots of time in which to do both.

It's also worth pointing out that as of March of this last year, I've been running this blog for 10 years.  I started it at a time when much of my life was up in the air, and I really didn't know how things were going to work out.  The blog was a way to keep in touch with friends I'd left behind after a move.  Ten years later, I'm happily married, have two kids I adore, work that is stable and rewarding, and have a life that regularly fills me with satisfaction and joy.  Looking back through the blog, the friends I've made (both in real life and "virtually"), and the happiness I've shared through the hobby, I can't help but feel blessed.  For those of you out there who have followed, or still do follow, this diary / journal / record of my pastimes, I wish you the joy of the new year, all all the best fortune it might bring.