July 29, 2014

The Collective - First Contact (part 2)

On Monday night I was able to play in another Collective OP1 event at Sentry Box. I was quite surprised to see a large jump in numbers. In the past few months we've had four or maybe five attendees, but this time we had eight players. I'll take credit for one of them, other than myself. But anyway.

Independents With No Regard to Timelines (90pts)

- S'Gorn w/ Khan Sing & Invaluable Advice, Joachim, Polarized Hull Plating and Positron Beam
- Soong w/ Lore & Counter Attack, Bosus and Goval

I got another copy of the Dominion ship and built a named version with Gul Damar, First Strike and Seskal on it.

Sentry Box has always had full mixed faction fleets allowed, so there was a lot of faction mixing going on. My first match was against a Dominion attack ship, a fully loaded Breen Cruiser and the Romulan booster ship. I concentrated my fire on the Breen ship first to remove the energy dissipators from play. After that I was able to split my fire out between the other two ships. I destroyed the Dominion ship and was only one hull away from destroying the Romulan ship when time was called.

The second match was against a very odd fleet with a Species 8472 ship, a Gorn cruiser and the Klingon booster pack. I knew the Species ship was the big threat so I was intending to focus on that first. Before we were able to get into combat range it used quantum singularity to disappear off the board. With no other targets I focused fire with Khan and Gul Damar on the Klingons, while Lore attacked the Gorn to death.

When the Species ship dropped back into play it was able to hit all of my ships with an hugely mis-played Bio-Electric Interference. The card only removes all tokens except auxiliary power tokens, it doesn't ADD aux tokens as part of its use. However, after some slow manoeuvring to rid myself of the aux tokens I trapped the ship in the corner and destroyed it.

My final match was against Lewis; he and I again being the top two players. Lewis was playing a 90pt Borg cube (flagship, Alexander, Ablative Armor, Khan, Invaluable Advice, Once More Into the Breach, etc). Oh and there was a Federation booster there too.

Not expecting to survive very long I opted for the direct approach, heading in in hopes of doing as much damage as I could, as quickly as possible. I did make one sizeable mistake in the second round, forgetting to use Gul Damar's First Strike talent. I might not have made a huge difference, but I would have gotten a 3 or 4 die attack in before he died. I forgot though and he was destroyed that turn.

The event was fun, but once again getting decimated by a fully-loaded Borg ship has got me thinking. I won't get into a huge diatribe or anything, but I'm starting to question their balance. The other factions obviously seem to need to be able to mix factions in order to really get the best results. The Borg are very strong on their own, but seem to be over-the-top when you give them access to the likes of Picard, Spock and battle stations.

July 24, 2014

The Collective OP1 - First Contact

Last night we played our "First Contact" OP event at Trilogy Games. I have a bunch of expansions that I've not yet used, so I wanted to start working through the backlog of those. It's been a while since I played Federation, and the new Enterprise had some good looking stuff in it.

"Mostly" Movie-TOS Federation (90pts):

- USS Excelsior w/ Spock & Attack Pattern Omega, Valtane and Quantum Torpedoes
- USS Enterprise (refit) w/ Kirk (8) & Disobey Orders, Worf, McCoy, Lojur and Photon Torpedoes
- Command Tokens

I ended up with the Dominion booster pack and kitted it out with:
- 3rd Wing Attack Ship w/ Gul Damar & First Strike, Ion Thrusters and Photon Torpedoes

I was matched up against a Dominion battleship/Koranak fleet that had a Maquis Raider booster pack and a loaded up side-board. My opponent set up the raider and Koranak on opposite ends of his starting area. I set up all of my ships in formation opposite the raider.

In the first few turns the Borg ship wasn't much of a threat, and most ships in range taking the "Resist" action lost upgrades of their choice. Through the entire game the Borg only stole a few upgrades of mine...one of which was sadly Spock's quantum torpedoes.

I was very happy with the action economy of the Excelsior. Getting a free scan and target lock was great, and had I not lost my torpedoes I could have conceivably fired them every turn Valtane provides a little insurance on my ability to hit, and the scan reduces defence dice.

The Dominion ship proved to be a valuable addition, even though I wasn't able to use the ship's ability, or Ion Thrusters at all in my game. When time was called I'd lost a few upgrades to the Borg but had had no ships destroyed. My opponent was down to his battle cruiser at two hull.

Our fourth player had to leave so I ended up with the bye for the second round.

July 22, 2014

Innocent Bystanders: Victorian Civilians

When I made my huge order from West Wind Productions for the first wave of Empire of the Dead gang boxes (seems like ages ago, because it was) I included a Victorian citizens pack. Ten models that I can use as fodder for various scenarios, or just to dress up the gaming table a little bit. The sculpts are characterful yet simple which makes them easy to paint.

One thing I will say is that these took much longer than I'd like to admit to finish. It's not like when you paint a full unit where you paint each part of each figure the same colour. With each figure being unique, I had to spend time choosing colours that suited.

I also decided to give the dipping technique another try, this time using Army Painter's "Strong Tone" quickshade. Every time I use varnish as a shading medium I freak out a tiny bit when it dries. The glossy finish plus the high pigmentation always makes me think "oh sh*t, I've ruined my base coat!" for just a few seconds.

After the varnish I also tried another first: spray-on matte varnish. This stuff ended up producing some frosting on the figures, which again caused me to scramble in my brain for a few minutes. Not knowing what else to try, I decided to brush on a coat of the Army Painter varnish, which seemed to repair a lot of the frosting.

Finally I went back over a lot of the whites, cream colours, flesh and light blues to make them look better. The heavy pigment in the varnish makes them look really dirty, but with a quick touchup of the original colour it all comes together.

I'm very happy with the result, even though it took quite a while to get them finished.

July 18, 2014

Huge 9000 Point AT-43 Game!

On Wednesday evening I played my first three-player game of AT-43. Each of the players put together an army list of 3000 points: Karmans, Red Blok and UNA/ONI.

I had to use the ONI as mercenaries because I didn't bring enough UNA forces to fill out a list of that size. I was expecting to play at maybe 2000 points. I had also missed a few figures from some of my infantry when I was getting my stuff to bring, so I had to field incomplete squads of fighters in several of them. I don't have an exact list, here's an approximate list of what I played:

- Steel Troopers x9 w/ a missile launcher and MSgt
- Wing Troopers x9 w/ a missile launcher and Sgt
- Shock Troopers x9 w/ grenades and Sgt
- Zombies (alpha?) x12 w/ medics & mortar guns x2, and Samurai
- Death Dealer TacArms x3
- Steel TacArms x3
- Zombie TacArms beta x3
- Bokor w/ Vlad

We set up the table with an improvised scenario. The MedTec were stranded (placed in the middle of the table) and all of the armies were trying to reach them. A unit within 2.5cm of one of the medics was considered to hold the objective and received 250 victory points at the end of the round. Entry points for each army were selected after bidding. I chose first and selected a corner. Red Blok chose another corner, putting the Karmans on the opposite edge in the middle (not an advantageous spot).

It took quite a while to get everything on the table, and the deployment zones were pretty cramped. With the table size most of my infantry proved almost completely useless, as they had very little cover to use during their advance toward the objective. This was especially true of the zombies as their ranged weapons are nigh-useless. Well, except for the mortar guns which I entirely forgot to use.

The Karmans took the most damage, losing a full unit to fire from the Dotch Yaga, and a large vehicle being taken out in one shot by Vlad. My TacArms whittled away at some of the Red Blok walkers (quite often needing 6s to do damage). The damage got spread out through the units and walker bodies and took far longer than it should have to destroy anything.

I lost Vlad after a few rounds, having made him a prime target after showcasing his firepower. The Karmans, despite their losses, were able to control and hold the objective for a full two turns. This in the end turned out to be the deciding factor. My army had lost the least amount of units by points and the Karmans had lost the most. Holding the objective granted them 500 victory points however, which vaulted them from last place to winner!

The game did take quite a while due to the point size, table size and number of units on the battlefield. While I enjoyed it, it was largely a ranged game, especially since the Red Blok had fielded no units with less than 12 armour. I simply couldn't hit them with my infantry, and due to the table size had no hopes of getting into close combat with them.

In the future I think I'd prefer to play smaller games, and likely on a smaller sized battlefield. I did quite enjoy playing my ONI forces and am working on a way to build myself some UN and TH Korps units, as well as some basic zombie troopers to add to them.

July 10, 2014

World Lacrosse Championships 2014

Most of the world probably doesn't care about lacrosse, right? Isn't everyone completely and totally enamoured with soccer right now? Let's say almost everyone. If you're like me, you'd rather be watching lacrosse.

Today the FIL World Lacrosse Championship tournament begins with what should be a bruiser of a game: Canada versus the US!

The 2014 Team Canada roster includes a player from the Calgary Roughnecks pro NLL team, Geoff Snider, who also happens to be a local Calgarian.

With over 40 countries competing it should be well worth catching a few matches for folks with even a slight interest in lacrosse. I'm particularly interested in seeing how the Asian countries' play style differs from the North Americans.

If you aren't in Denver but want to watch some games on TV or the web you'll want to look at the links below to see what's available in your country.

- Broadcast schedule
- Streaming schedule

July 04, 2014

A Little AT-43

I've been filling out armies and adding more to my growing collection of AT-43 miniatures. Last weekend I picked up some Red Blok models and a few army books from another local gamer. Also included in that batch of stuff were some UNA Death Dealer TacArms. I quite like the TacArm models, but had never seen the Death Dealers and was keen to give them a try!

One of the things that I had trouble wrapping my head around was the army structures being different for each faction. So I decided that I'd sit down and put together a list using the Death Dealer TacArms platoon structure, which is as follows:

! Unit of Death Dealer TacArms
• Unit of soldiers (*/**)
• Unit of soldiers (*/**)
• Unit of striders (**)
• Unit of striders (**)

Deciding on 1500AP netted me a platoon of 3x Death Dealer TacArms, 9x Steel Troopers w/ grenades and two missile launchers, 2x Fire Toads with Captain Newton commanding, and 9x Wing Troopers with a Master Sergeant.

Rick decided to play UNA as well, choosing the "M.Ind" platoon structure to give him more vehicles on the table. The AFV units in his army all had the repair ability. That proved to be a very good choice, as my army simply wasn't packing the firepower to take out vehicles in a single shot without me being very lucky.

Luck wouldn't be on my side this game either. My death dealers became disorganized early in the game after losing two of their numbers to weapons fire from the one of the Fire Toad units. Failing his morale check the remaining one left the field. I landed a few lucky hits with my own Fire Toad unit taking out one of them, and that was about as good as it got.

I landed a few lucky hits on the opposing TacArms with my Steel Troopers, was quickly decimated once I lost my second fire toad. I surrendered to save the lives of my remaining infantry. A good commander should always place the lives of his men first, right?

Overall I still really enjoyed the game and am looking forward to playing again (hopefully soon). I've got some more ONI on the way and hope to fill out my Cogs and Red Blok further as well. I'll update again when I have more to share on those...

July 03, 2014

Star Trek: Attack Wing - Don't Fear the Bajorans

Second OP "The Arena" event at Sentry Box. This time we had four players total, three of them being the same folks from last week's event at Trilogy.

Shane's fleet was a three-ship Federation list using the new Spock captain card. Lewis was playing Romulans and Bill was also playing Federation (as per usual). Me, once again I did the unexpected (or perhaps just foolish) and took a pure 100pt Bajoran fleet. Yeah you heard me: Bajorans!

Here's the list if you can't read the text in the photo:

- Akorem w/ Kira & Militia, Li Nalas and Neela
- Bajoran Scout Ship w/ Tahna Los and Feedback Pulse
- Interceptor 5 w/ Hazar & Blockade
- Bajoran Interceptor w/ Lenaris Holem and Phaser Strike

So I bet you're wondering how it went aren't you? Well, it went almost exactly as you would expect.

Round 1 was against Shane and amazingly I won the captain's battle. I mixed up two of his ships however and ended up focusing my fire on the wrong one. I had already done damage to his Intrepid class, and switching to a different target meant I would fall short of destroying any of his ships. At least I scored 60-points for my captains surviving...

Round 2 was against Bill and this one did not go well. I was wiped out on the planet and then further crushed with all of my ships getting returned to the board with skill-1 captains.

Round 3 was against Lewis' Romulans and I actually was able to destroy the Valdore, but her captain has already beamed to the planet. The side-boarding in of a skill-7 Romulan Commander just before the start of the battle was a death knell for my captains. Again I lost the battle and got placed on the board with three skill-1 ships. I made a few surprising maneuvers to mess up Lewis' plans a bit, but I simply couldn't roll enough attack dice to take out any further ships.

There are some interesting cards and strategy with the Bajorans, but their lack of shielding, low hull and 2-attack is really pitiful. There are a few combos you could pull off to net a few 5- or 6-die attacks, but it requires really fancy flying and no disruptions to your plans. While I had fun with the fleet, I'd almost certainly never play it again.

On the plus side I won the die roll for the second Gorn ship. So now that I have two true Independent faction ships (both Gorn, I missed out on the Tholians) I'd really like to put together an Independent fleet list. Maybe I'll talk about that more after I pick up the Maquis raider booster from the Collective events.

July 02, 2014

Tannhauser - Custom Box Insert and Game Report

With all of my shiny new Tannhauser toys arriving late in May I had to spend some time thinking about how to organize everything. Those booster box expansion look great and I thought it might be fun to open them slowly. You know, savour the feeling of adding new components to my game over time...but then I realized the sad truth: it'll take me years to get through all of that stuff. In the meantime, I'd be forced to store all of those packages until they were all open. As storage space always seems to be a major concern with my gaming items, I decided to plunge in instead.

Opening, punching and sorting everything was quite the chore, but it was also a lot of fun. Going through all the components reminded me over and over again just how great looking this game is. When everything was finally all opened up I sorted the figures out into four groups:

1. Union
2. Reich
3. Matriarchy
4. Shogunate and Mercenaries

I was happy to see that that "Operation: Novgorod" box was exactly the same size as the core set box. That would work nicely into my plans for doing my first-ever custom box inserts.

What you see above is my insert for the core box. From top left you'll see: Union figures, Reich figures, crate tokens and cards, Union cards and tokens, Reich cards and tokens, Union character sheets and Reich character sheets. I added some blue dice to go with the black ones (they're in between the character sheet piles. On top of the cards you'll see all of the faction counters, map modifiers and smoke/fire tokens. There is enough room to lie the core game board on the top, but once you add the revised rule book, the box doesn't quite close all the way.

I've not yet built one for the Novgorod box, but I'll likely use the same layout for it. Hopefully I'll get the thing properly square second time around...

Now that my toys were more organized, it really needed to be played. So William and I sat down to give the first scenario from the FFG Summer Campaign a try. The scenario had the Union trying to stop the Reich's Blutsturm agent from escaping out the front door.

Long story short...it looked like I had the game in the bag, but Tala took Eva down at the end of turn 3 after surviving four separate attacks. Tip for Reich players: don't bunch your characters up, those Union grenades are nasty!