Saturday, March 31, 2012

SA/GO: Combat Patrol Conundrum


Episode Seven (here are the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth) of my ongoing congenial correspondence with all-round legend, Brent, in which I think a bit more intensely about how to build a list for Combat Patrol.

And indeed, moving forward with my Combat Patrol list-building-frenzy-a-go-go, I have cautiously experimented with a few alternatives to my initial list. Unlike so many personalities on the interwebs, I utterly lack the ability to simply look at a list and say, “win” or “dreadful” etc. For that reason, amongst others, I have had some considerable difficultly landing on the list that I want to take to first-ever competitive event.

With only 19 days left until the event, I now have a massive six test-games under my belt, which is about as prepared as I have ever been for anything in my life. The army in question not only remains undecided, but also (naturally) unpainted as well. Like many AdeptiCon attendees, I have my work cut out for me in the next few weeks.

So here are my second and third experimental lists alongside my thoughts on them. The images, I should mention, are wip pics of my general Necron force, selections of whom I hope to muster in time for CP. Fingers crossed.

List 011: A Matter of Life and Deathmark

5 Warriors
5 Immortals
5 Deathmarks
5 Deathmarks
3 Tomb Blades

What I like:
This is a curiously spread list, with 23 models and 5 units on the table. The Warriors are there because they should be, though I might prefer they all be Immortals. This is one of those agonizing decisions that makes list creation so much fun –should I have traded out a Tomb Blade to field more Immortals …or is that not particularly viable, and just silly as well? As is stands, the three Tomb Blades are here to add some pace to the proceedings, which I imagine will be a valuable asset in this smaller field, and to appear in what hope might be sufficient numbers to act a genuine threat.  

The real issue here, however, is always going to be the Deathmarks. I like the models, sure, but I feel a villainous grin sneaking up my face every time I imagine the 2+ to wound rolls that each squad can nominate and then donate to the other. As such, these two squads might, potentially, wound an opponent’s entire force (I’m not sure, but I don’t expect to face many armies with more than two or three squads) with that probability. I will take those odds. In fact, I probably need those odds.

The thought warms my crusted, black, and mechanical heart. Of course, I suspect that these assassins will get a lot of attention on the back of the gimmick, which leads me to…

What gives me pause:
Perhaps the plan here lacks a dimension past the first one. While the idea is cool, I fear that it might not survive so well on the day; it seems reasonably transparent and gimmicky, and I have an inherent mistrust of gimmick for the sake of gimmick. If something terrible happens to those Deathmarks, and something surely will, I seem woefully flat for other options.

Moreover, the Deathmarks do not enjoy a Gauss classification, which makes them understandably less antagonistic versus vehicles. I don’t know.



List 111: Haste Makes Waste

5 Immortals
5 Deathmarks
3 Necron Destroyers
5 Tomb Blades

What I like:
Here, we are looking at the middle-ground of my hypothetical musings specifically with regard to model count, but I should note that 8 of these 18 models are kitted with T5 and with Jetbike or Jump Infantry movement. That’s hot… at least on paper

As importantly, this list feels the most “punchy” to my mind, with all weaponry either S5 or SX and with the Destroyers in particular (costly but fun) spitting out some AP3 magic. I love AP3 in smaller games. Combined with the Deathmarks wounding on 2+ for a single enemy unit, I suspect that this force might eat infantry targets at a decent clip.

… but is it enough?

What gives me pause:
Again, I am relying on Gauss to dent vehicles, and there is a notable lack of rending/power weaponry for close combat exchanges, and I am concerned this might be woefully debilitating. This force also feels rather delicate. It is elite, with a modest number of models on the table (again, those Destroyers are expensive). Is T5 enough to see these poor sods through? Will they get mangled in any potential close combat?

At this point, I almost don’t feel the need to say it, but will… I just don’t know.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

SA/GO: which B …? (part six) B is for basing




So, I have been having a virtual tete-a-tete with Brent’s empty digital headache, and the experience has been… illuminating. In sum, I need some help (put that one on a plate for you). As it turns out, so does Brent (tremendous service here).

You can find the sequence of our correspondence, as such, here: first, second, third, fourth, and fifth installments a-go-go. We like to talk. This, then constitutes the humble sixth installment (in which I try to bring something useful for Brent to the table) and which will soon followed by the seventh installment (in which I try to refine my Necron Combat Patrol list-building inexperience).  Here we go.

Brent. Mate.

You have been thinking about improving your painting scores in order round out your already potent competitive mojo. I’d like to help if I am able with a quick tip that I feel is something very close to imperative in army assembly.

I should mention that I have never won a painting competition or award really (I predate the trophy generation, so honorable mention doesn’t count), though I have entered two or three in my day. As such, I am a bit concerned that my “advice” might seem rather tepid at best or unmerited/boastful at worst.

Still, correspondence is as correspondence does and I humbly submit that the armies I paint are at least “tabletop” quality, and perhaps a breath or two above. This isn’t to say that your armies aren’t, but I think my skills seem a bit more ying to your proverbial yang (wayhey?), and there are a few pointers that I would offer all comers when thinking about making an army coherent, solid, compelling.

Funnily enough, the first item that I would stress is the last item I paint, with only the rarest exception. As such, this is the quickest “fix” for an already painted force, which I presume yours are.

Bases:
Here’s the gist.

I encourage you to think about the bases of your model (all of them) in much the same manner as you would the model itself. This involves a few simple considerations:


-Unify the entire army with a specific theme for the bases as bases themselves. To do so, you will want to carry this across your entire army. I know that can be tricky. If you are like me, you will likely build an army in slow motion over a sequence of weeks… months… years. I confess that I have never genuinely, completely “finished” an army. The danger here is always that my techniques change, shift, develop, or simply vanish between the beginning and end of my assembly process.


Even so, I am not too proud to go back and re-work bases on older models to bring them up to scratch. Here’s the rub. A solid and consistent theme on a base will invariably pull the whole mix together, make them belong, tell a bit of a story about where they are, even on models that evolve in technique and even color over my extended assembly process. The contrary is also true. Mismatched bases will invariably make an army look like its adherents belong on different planets –tsk tsk. 


before
after

-Three color minimum and perhaps a wash somewhere in the mix. Paint your bases. All of them. All the time. You needn’t lavish the same kind of attention to detail as the rest of the model, but a strong start with a decent sized flat overbrush that works toward a drybrush in each additional highlight will do just fine. This can be accomplished really quite quickly, and an ambitious wash will smooth out areas that I have accidently treated rather clumsily, which happens often. I also encourage the sporadic use of static grass to hide other mistakes –the haphazard nature of the grass itself gives the appearance of randomness, but really just hides that clumsiness I mentioned earlier. 


But most importantly, your choice of color must look very closely toward...

-The color composition (or palette) of your force. I notice, for example, that your Daemons are largely blue and purple –which is a rather striking combination, appropriately chaotic, and visually arresting; however, I feel that the chalky whitish color that I’ve seen on several photos doesn’t really gel with anything else on the model. Because of this, again my opinion only and worth nothing more, the two seem oddly disjointed.


By comparison, I encourage you pull colors off the model (or vice versa) and bring them onto the base. Notice, for example, that the fur on the cape of this model is identical both to the staff and to the grit below. That’s not laziness. 

...and again below -same idea, different version/model.



-Narrative. I don’t know if you have considered a narrative for this army (it’s an horrifically FAAP thing to do, but I often find my mind wandering to these details during the initial, tedious parts of the assembly process), but you might also take a nod from that direction as well. As with the three-color minimum above, I encourage you to let the base tell part of your story. Again, also in an echo of the principle above, notice the way the red of the BA helmets underfoot repeat above, below and within the model itself. For me, this is a pleasant way to tell the story of my army (they hate Blood Angels, really), as well as connect a few visual dots on the composition of the model itself.

When applied across an entire force, the effect can be wonderfully dramatic.

notice the plumage of the first guy, and the red on those behind

Something to think about, I hope.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Special Operations Killzone: Explained –ROSTER


++but first a friendly reminder. I will be shipping the first massive batch of Killzone Cards and Tokens on March 26. If you want to get yours in the first run, be sure to order sooner rather than later (if not, don’t panic… the second batch will ship April 9). Go ahead. Get yourself some. Proceeds are going to help us build 10 KZ tables of gloriousness++ 



As if coordinated, or otherwise just fated to be, I have recently received a roomful of emails with regard to legal Special Operation: Killzone team lists for AdeptiCon …and it got me thinking.

First, I would encourage all interested (attending AdeptiCon or otherwise) to make sure that you have the most current iteration of the rules. They have not changed substantially in the new year (with only a small bit of tidying and a clarification or two), but it’s a good idea just to make sure that we are all on the same page. So go have a peek and re-download if you are even remotely uncertain.

Second, have a gander at these “roster sheets” that I scratched together while trying to consider a relatively easy way to keep track of the tweaks we have made to the basic 40K ruleset. Specifically, I suspect that it can be reasonably easy for the infrequent player (I confess that I am one of these myself) to get a little lost in some of the restrictions. There is a lot going on in our modest little game, and I think it worthwhile to have all the information necessary in a reasonably small space. You can download the roster here.

Of note, you will find specific slots to place all of your upgrades, which is supremely helpful in ensuring that your team doesn’t double-book or overlap when it shouldn’t. At the bottom, you will also find a very helpful checklist of sorts designed to keep all the basic standard and weapons restrictions tidy and readily identifiable.

In sum, you will find included here space available for 20 possible infantry –should you have a list that requires all of them (yet to see it myself)- with the Team Leader in the primary post, as well as a slot for the odd Walker available to teams that way inclined.

As importantly, I have included a space to keep track of specific mission parameters and objectives. You now have a spot to record the identity of that “Traitor” or whatnot right there on the roster. Life should always be this easy.  

To be candid,I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner. Really.


Here’s a sample form that I filled out for my “Armored Might” themed Space Wolves list.


On the final page, I have also included “backs” that are sized perfectly to fit the front of your army’s roster entries. With a very small bit of effort and creative printing techniques, the keen and the interested can print out a list and make a simple set of cards (I know. I know. I can’t stop myself) should one feel inclined to add that extra bit of awesome sauce to your Killzone recipe.

Speaking of cards and awesome sauce –make sure you order your tokens and cards while the getting is good. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

WIP: Lone and Fenrisian Wolf



++but first a friendly reminder. I will be shipping the first massive batch of Killzone Cards and Tokens on March 26. If you want to get yours in the first run, be sure to order sooner rather than later (if not, don’t panic… the second batch will ship April 9). Go ahead. Get yourself some. Proceeds are going to help us build 10 KZ tables of gloriousness++  


I told myself that I would stay away from these new releases. I have plenty on my plate and plenty more to consider –we are, for example, moving house this summer and I need to clear out space rather than clutter it (with 10 3x3 tables for example).

But then there’s that itch –that old, familiar itch: the sneaky release photos, the official promotional photos, more photos. Then the voice: You only need to paint three models. They won’t take too much space. It’s not like you’re starting a new army. You can get them done in no time, so they won’t interfere with all those other projects. You Special Operations team needs these models. Needs.

Killzone always wins –always provides just the right dose of post-rationalization that sees me through those moments when I need to justify a small purchase, or two.

I consider it a small (a very small) moral victory that I manage to restrain myself from the Thunder Wolf models. Perhaps after the move…

Nevermind the psychology of this compulsion/hobby. I was really quite pleased to note that these absolutely beautiful new wolves are mounted on terminator bases, which makes for a lovely consistency to the Special Operations team. I will be documenting the stone-and-bone treatment of the bases as well as my continued experimentation both with resin and with snow effects. The wolves themselves are a treat. I cannot remember a model that went together more easily and/or that looked so wonderfully dynamic.

The Lone Wolf, once more, makes a virtue of necessity and holds (quite obviously and) quite firmly to my notion that the models for this team would be made completely out of spare parts from other kits left floating around my bitz boxes.

As such, he’s a real piece of work –what with the Grey knights pieces alongside Wolf and, gasp, Chaos pieces. He’s a mishmash. But once again, I can rationalize it (getting good at this, really), with a simple flick of the imaginative wrist. In fact, his Lone Wolf status, in my mind, almost demands this kind of treatment.

As I imagine it, the whole team has been loaned out to the Inquisition or somesuch for some sundry and extraordinary task (akin to the “harsh but fair” SW treatment of the 1K Sons). They have been out in the field for an excruciatingly long time, hunting, hunting, maiming, hunting. Slowly but slowly, as they say, the Lone Wolf has accumulated artifacts, armors, and general dispositions not well suited to a life among others. Has the mission consumed him? Can he find release at the hands of his enemies before slipping too far toward heresy, or has that door already closed?


Moreover, as a Lone Wolf, I have opted to give him a color scheme that I am making up on the fly, and which is inverted from his comrades. If you can’t test new recipes on the most important model on your team, who can you test this stuff out on?


oh, right. (splotches will be covered with battle damage, naturally)

Great fun.
 

Friday, March 16, 2012

AdeptiCon: Combat Patrol -an open letter to Brent


What follows is the second installment in a series of correspondence between my very good self, and Brent –or perhaps Not Brent; one can never be certain really. The first exciting installment appeared on BoLs of all places last week.

In brief, I have signed up to play in the Combat Patrol event at AdeptiCon this year, which will mark my first grand misadventure in “competitive gaming.”

I am, suffice to say, out of my depth.

I am tremendously nervous, not so much because I want to do well but moreso because I don’t want to make a complete prat of myself. The first installment of our correspondence was insightful, but raised as many questions as it answered -specifically with regard to lists that more competitive types like to call “legal.” Indeed.

And so, I turned to my old internet friendly-acquaintance Brent for some more guidance. Turns out, he’s a nationally ranked player. That’s a promising start. 

Well. The conversation is certainly evolving, but we should not confuse that with maturing.  Here’s part two, my first grand adventure in net-listing, a staple in any tournament diet, or so the internet would have me believe…

AN OPEN LETTER TO BRENT:

 Brent. It’s me, Brian. Again. Competitive event at AdeptiCon. My first. Perhaps, at this point, you will require some more salient details.

The event is Combat Patrol on what seems a promising and auspicious Saturday morning. For AdeptiCon, Combat Patrol runs at 400 points with a quirky force organization: 1-3 Troops, 0-1 each for HQ, Fast, Elites, and Heavy, with an additional “swing” spot for an extra choice in any of the aforementioned.  Link above.

I am playing Necrons (various WIP photos included herein).

Some have suggested that this choice is representative of a profound personal failing and is, put plainly, bad meta. The failings I can manage quite well, thankyouverymuch. Teach me about the Meta. What is meta? I mean, I know metafiction (stories about stories), metalanguage (grammar), metacognition (thinking about thought), and have some notion of metaphysics (not really)…


…but metagaming? I got nothing. Metacrons? That sounds interesting at least, but offers little by way of practical help. 

Maybe I should start, then, at the beginning (as one does) with some practical information: my potential lists. The first of three follows.


p.s. please excuse my “poor man’s” army builder. They haven’t released it yet for mac, so I make my own.


List 001: The Sepulcher Awakens

What I like:
This is… interesting. Originally, I had created a fluff-based list, but one which also seemed rather worthwhile by my way of thinking. I had to bin it because of a wound oversight and a Spyder. So I went back to the drawing board and considered how Wraiths (and the previously mentioned Spyders plus Scarabs) are the first to awaken from a deep, necrotic tomb-world slumber. With that in mind, I have tried to hold that fluffy center while constructing a list that, in this case, just found 400 points even –that is harder than it should be sometimes.

This is a pretty lean crowd, with two Troops slots and the ‘swing slot’ used for a duplicate Wraith terrors. While I was initially quite proud, I am no longer certain if this is the most well-rounded of the lists I imagined thus far. There are only 16 models here, yet the Wraiths are solid and I hope this represents quite a lot for my opponents to mangle when called upon to do so.

I suspect the Warriors are here to soak up wounds, fire, generally screen, and potentially land on an objective if able. In each list, I expect to use Gauss as the primary anti-tank option (it’s a poor one, I know, but there are few compelling options at this point level), and the proliferation of the weapon here seems to help my chances. We shall see.

This list, I might add, leans on the Wraiths to scratch open a modest AV11 tank here or there, which actually constitutes my most effective anti-tank gambit in any of my list solutions. Moreover, the Wraiths are around to bleed out Initiative in the inevitable close combat and, if possible, maybe even drop a Rend here or there.

What gives me pause:
Generally speaking, I am concerned that my inexperience will show early and often. This list, however, seems reasonably straightforward, reasonably unsurprising. I have some faith that I can use the Wraiths properly, but they are the only real trick in this small hand. Is there an obvious counter to the Wraith situation? Is this list too rote, too predictable, too vanilla?

More importantly, I am increasingly concerned that there is not enough of what makes Necrons the Necrons in this list. It reads too much like a close combat wannabe list rather that a Gauss-heavy list of doooom. Is there enough shooting here to see my poor quasi-dead through another millennium or three?

Monday, March 12, 2012

CARDS AND TOKENS SOLD OUT



++APOLOGIES. ADEPTICON WAS AN ABSOLUTE BLINDER, AND WE HAVE SOLD OUT OF EVERYTHING. ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT++

TOKENS! DECKS! GLORY!
If you have been following the series of Special Operations: Killzone post, you will know that this seems a perfect opportunity to pause for a moment and to offer the chance to participate in and directly contribute to our efforts to achieve pure Special Operations: Killzone glory.

Indeed. These fine Tokens and extraordinary Cards are now officially within your grasp ....and for a good cause too!

Absolutely all proceeds from these sales will be used to offset the cost of building ten  (that is correct, ten) 3’x3’ tables for the events over the AdeptiCon 2012 weekend. To you and me, that is 90-square-feet of custom made, custom painted, custom glorified tabletop mayhem. Last year was brilliant, but this year we are raising the bar considerably. The tables will not only look better, smell better, feel better, taste better, but also play better as well. That’s not hyperbole. We have already spent months researching, modeling, sketching, debating, re-modeling, and generally working with dangerous machinery to make sure that the tables are peerless at any event you are likely (or unlikely) to attend. The tables are going to be something really quite extraordinary.

But that’s not cheap.

So, you can help us achieve this noteworthy goal by ordering one or more of these tremendous custom gaming aids, designed to make your SO:KZ experience rich in vitamin Glory. You will not only be contributing to one of the year’s more ambitious hobby-gaming events, but also be reaping tremendous value for your own gaming pleasure.

Winning!


The tokens and the cards have brought an immeasurably cool dynamic to our Special Operations: Killzone games. From the outset, our goal was to produce something rather unique and ambitiously professional to the table with this endeavor. From the rules, to the treatment of the codex, to the AdeptiCon events themselves, we have worked incredibly hard to ensure that the product was aesthetically and substantially top tier material. Both the Tokens and the Cards are indicative of that level of commitment. Full stop. They are beautiful. And fun. 

And now we can share it all with you, all of you …though it merits mention that you need not actually own or use these tokens nor these cards for Killzone if you don’t want. For my part, I am quite simply addicted, and finding all manner of useful purposes for them. The tokens have, for example, featured handily in my first round of Combat Patrol test games. For his part Big Jim, with the smallest adjustment, piggy-backed the card into the narrative games he ran at the Bay Area Open. Spectacular. Put simply, the tokens and the cards are cool enough to sustain just about any kind of purpose or treatment you would like to give them.

I’m running out of superlatives.


Here’s what you can get…
 
TOKENS:


OPTION A - The Basic Token Set: $10.00
5 Overwatch tokens (with reversible target marker on the back) +
3 Objective Markers, numbered 1-3. In SO: Killzone these are arranged face down and only revealed when contacted by one of your agents. Only then will you know for certain if you have located the Intelligence Cache or the secreted Munitions.


OPTION B - The Full Token Set: $12.50
5 Overwatch tokens (with reversible target marker on the back) +
3 Objective Markers, numbered 1-3 (as above) +
3 Markers, each of which features an image that mirrors the “suits” we have created for the SO: Killzone decks. Extremely cool.



CARDS:


OPTION C - The Basic Card Set: $15.00 
36-card deck + custom Tuckbox: this set includes all of the Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Mission cards, all of the Fate cards, as well as several blank cards for you to design your own version for any of the above. Each Mission card includes a full description of the mission parameters and deployment. Moreover, the Fate set includes two bonus results not included in the rulebook.


OPTION D - The Full Operative Set = $17.50
54-card deck + custom Tuckbox: this set has it all. All the Primary Mission Cards appear in triplicate, but with each card offering an alternating deployment for that mission as well as a special card representative of the Night Fight dynamic (who says Special Operations should happen in broad daylight?). Likewise, the Secondary and Tertiary Missions repeat, so that players might conceivably (and unknown to the opponent) draw the same Secondary or Tertiary Mission (tremendous fun). Finally, the Fate set includes two bonus results not included in the rulebook. With this set, you are covered.


TOKEN AND CARD COMBINATION SETS:


OPTION E - Standard Issue: Basic Token and Card sets (A+C) = $22.50


OPTION F - The Full Monty: Full Token and Operative Card sets (B+D) = $27.50


Please include $5 shipping for all orders in the US (lower 48), and $10 shipping for all orders outside the US. This additional cost only needs to be added once per order no matter how many items you order (if you would like to place a combined order with a friend, for example).  


At this time, I am only able to accept PayPal to the following address: gentlemanones (at) g mail (dot) com.

Get yours now. Thank you in advance for your support!


Stay frosty.

And for those keeping score at home, or otherwise in need of an ACE of a designer, both the Token and the Card imagery was created by the extraordinarily talented hands of That Guy James. Behold!