Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Flesh-Eater Courts Battletome

Last weekend I picked up the new Battletome.  I've had the chance to field some of the units, play two of the three battleplans, and read through most of the fluff.  I haven't done enough reviews to have any particular method to my madness yet, so here goes nothing.

The Art (4/5)
I want to start here because I've been very impressed.  I really love the art direction for AoS so far.  I'm a big fan of their directive that artists stick to drawing actual sculpts.  It really immerses me and brings the childlike imagination that this is what my battles "really look like".  The book has not only a bunch of grade A art, but also contains a map of the area where one of the battleplans takes place.  The map is of the "Fallow Kingdom of Voldyr" and has labelled landmarks like the "Corpse Orchards" and near the edge of the map the "Spire Tombs of the Deathrattler Queens".  I know it probably makes me sound fanboyish, but I'm a huge fan of the stylized AoS maps and this one is no exception.

My only wish here is that there was a nice big two page "backdrop" art piece.  I've seen some people online do battle photography with an open book in the the background to provide a backdrop for the photo.  There are a couple of nice spreads that would be okay for this job, but none that would be really great for it.

The only real reason this has 4/5 instead of 5/5 is because I'm saving 5/5 for things that really blow my mind.

The Fluff (5/5)
That's right, the fluff blew my mind.  It's not that the writing is particularly brilliant, it's just that I've played Vampire Counts for years, and nothing I've read comes close to this in terms of quality.  The writing in this book is excellent pulp horror.  Each fluff piece drives home to core concept of the Flesh-Eater Courts which is that they are completely consumed by the madness of the Ghoul Kings.  Despite all of them being hideous cannibals, they believe themselves to be noble warriors.  Most of the writing in the book involves some sort of surprise twist where the subject is imagining the guts they're rummaging in to be the enemy's hoard of treasure or somesuch horrifying misconception.

Each battleplan in the book has a story that goes with it.  I've only read one and a half of those stories so far, but they're enjoyable and, like the art, help immerse the reader such that the battleplan will be more fun after reading.

The Battleplans (3.5/5)
Like I mentioned, I've only played two of the battleplans so far, but I've had some mixed results.  I'll go through plan by plan.

- Stirring the Nest
In the first battleplan, a group of unwitting Stormcasts have entered a Ghoul King's domain only to find themselves surrounded and searching for an escape route.  The Flesh-Eaters deploy on the edges of the battlefield with the Intruders in the middle.  To win, the Intruders must escape via the board corners.  While I had fun with this battleplan, it felt like the deck was stacked in favor of the Flesh-Eater player.

- On the Hunt
In the second battleplan, some very hungry Flesh-Eaters have set their sights on some Slaves to Darkness.  I had a lot of fun with this one.  The Quarry deploys in a band across the board short ways and has to run from the Flesh-Eaters to escape on the far short board edge.  My brother plays Beastmen, and if you've ever battled them, you know they're crazy fast (not Slaanesh fast, but unreasonably fast nonetheless).  So he was hoofing it across the board trying to escape and I was trying to cut him off.  This one felt kinda' stacked against the Quarry, but it was really entertaining and tense, so it wasn't such a big deal.

- Two Became Three
This is the one I haven't played yet.  Basically it's a three player scenario where two other armies were about to get battling when some Flesh-Eaters show up to.. I dunno... eat some flesh.  It looks like fun, and it looks like it would actually be really good for any set of armies.  It's not very Flesh-Eater specific.

The Warscrolls (4/5)
The Flesh-Eaters got a pretty massive overhaul in this release.  While the Ghoul and Crypt Horror warscrolls were functionally unchanged, a surprising number of new units and characters appeared considering that there were no new models released.  I'm sure you know by now that a variety of unit champions got promoted to Courtiers.  Despite not being all that diverse in capabilities, the Courtiers provide a fun and different tactical experience.  They don't buff their friends as much as they summon their friends.  I fear I didn't make good use of them in my battles, but I got the impression that they were easy to play but difficult to master.

The Battalions (4/5)
Before this book, the only Battletome I'd really looked at was the Stormcast Eternals.  While they're Battalions seemed like a bit much to me, maybe it's because it was an early release.  The Battalions in the Flesh-Eater Battletome mostly required three or so units and a character or two.  I found that as a former Vampire Counts player, I had most of what I needed for a lot of them, but was usually a unit or a character short.  They all seem pretty enticing, which makes me want to go on a shopping spree, but having a toddler is expensive, so none of that (which is why I've been rebasing Deathrattles to occupy myself).  A couple of the Battalions give pretty crazy movement bonuses and one even lets you pile in and attack during the hero phase!

All things considered, I really enjoyed this Battletome.  I look forward to GW releasing more books relevant to my interests.  Maybe they'll come out with a Nurgley book or Forge World will drop a Legion of Azorgh book.

Overall 4.1/5  (but remember, I'm saving those 5s for mind-blowing content)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Deathrattle Heroes

After getting the new Flesh-Eaters Battletome, I've had to resort to working on my Deathrattles so that I don't spend too much money.  Since I played Vampire Counts before the End Times, I've got plenty of stuff lying around.  So I've rebased and/or kitbashed a collection of characters to get the old skellingtons up and running.

I've rebased a Liche Priest and Tomb King I made toward the end of 8th ed. who never even saw battle :( and made a brand new Necrotect.  Also, I went ahead and rebased Krell Wight King with Black Axe.  The Tomb Kings heroes are all made out of bits I got from a friend.  They were leftover skeletons from the Necrosphinx howdah and the backs of the Necrosnakes (I forget what they were actually called).  I just creatively appropriated bits and hacked them together to make the heroes.  You may notice that the Necrotect's dagger is actually just a speartip, so that should give you an idea.

 Also, I want to shout out to the Empire Flagellants kit.  The scroll and skull bit that I used on the Liche Priest is amazing for taking any model and making it an instant wizard.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Battle for Efengie: First Incursion

I'm currently in the planning stages of my FLGS' first Age of Sigmar Game Day.  Under 7th and 8th edition Fantasy we had a thriving community and while we didn't do one shot events, we did have an ongoing campaign with a Risk-like map and character experience rules.  I'm trying to have it both ways and do a series of events (starting with one... baby steps) that are connected by an ongoing story.

The first event is called "Realmgate Incursion" and it tells the story of how the otherwise peaceful (like, think medieval warfare instead of AoS heavy metal warfare) Vale of Efengie comes to be involved in the crazy inter-Realm conflicts of Age of Sigmar.

Back when we did out Fantasy campaigns, we used a map our FLGS owner created that was a tongue in cheek translation of the layout of the store.  It had such hits as Mount Cola, the City of Register, the Twin Cities of Couch, and so forth.  Since it's something we're all familiar with, the Vale of Efengie is basically an AoS-ized version of this.  The Vale is a secluded region of the Realm of Life.  It has idyllic rolling hills and a volcano that belches forth life-giving nectar (Mount Koula).  The Vale was originally settled a few hundred years ago by pioneers from Azyrheim who travelled on a road that goes directly from Ghyran to Azyr called The Azyrspire (visible in a zoomed out version of this map).  When their first city (New Azyrheim?) was destroyed by a trio of meteors and corrupted by Nurgle, they fled to the Vale and lost all ties with Azyrheim.

Near the Vale of Efengie is a stone circle erected by the Wanderers thousands of years ago to be a hub for travel between the Realms.  It has been dormant for a long, long time, but as of the first Game Day, the stone circle, known as The Gates of Eucebium, has been stirring with magical energy.  Something is coming through the Gates, probably many somethings or perhaps someones.  The people of Efengie are about to be involved in the overblown, epic conflicts of the mortal realms.

We're going to be using a variant of the School League battleplan, so it will be similar to the type of events they run at Warhammer World (the event packs and battleplans for which are conveniently available on their web page).  Here's a draft of the battleplan if you're interested.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

40k Age of Sigmar: Eldar

The Craftword Aelfs are ready to fly!  These took me a while, mostly because I've been working on prepping for my FLGS' AoS Game Day (more on that later).  If these tanks seem a little less potent than usual, it's because they are.  I managed to get a playtest game in the other night (Tau v. Chaos Dwarfs) and discovered that my Vehicles were a bit OP, among other things.  So to rectify that, I've brought Vehicles more in line with War Machines damage wise (I plan on updating other compendiums to bring them in line as well).

As usual, I'll share some of my favorites.  First up is the Avatar of Khaine.  I like this guy because I basically made it an Order Daemon that can be summoned by Aelf Psykers, which I think is pretty cool.

Next I'd like to showcase the Wraithguard and so forth.  After reading through some of these guys fluff, I realized that they shouldn't really be Aelfs, but Reanimants.  So I consulted the Tomb Kings warscrolls and made them kinda' like the Ushabti, but ya know, carrying distortion weapons.

Anyhow, the Eldar are now up on the Warscroll Compendium page.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Chaos Dwarf Deathshrieker Finished

Since I posted a work in progress shot of my Deathshrieker Rocket, I figured I'd post the finished product.

Since the Legion of Azorgh artillery pieces are atypical and have the crew as a part of the model instead of a separate unit, I magnetized them to the base.  Overall, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out as a function of how difficult it was, and I'm also pretty happy with how the pieces I sculpted myself came out; namely the skull mask, the domed helmet, and the visor for the guy in the back.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

I went to see Civil War this weekend.  I've intended to do superhero movie critical analyses on my blog for a while now and I've finally found one I cared about enough after watching that now seems like a good time to start.  So SPOILERS AHEAD!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

40k Age of Sigmar: Aspect Warriors

I've been hard at work continuing my 40k warscroll project.  This time, it's on to the Craftworld Aelfs... umm... Eldar.  Yeah, Eldar.  I've started with the Aspect Warriors because it seemed like the Autarch really wanted to be an Aspect Warrior alike.  So this happened (Path of the Warrior).

And since I had an ability referencing Aspect Warrior warscrolls, I figured the natural progression would be to tackle those first.  One important decision I made about the Aspect Warriors is that they are all two wound models (except the ones driving vehicles) putting them into Space Marine territory.  I had to think really hard about this one, but I've decided that a 3+ save on an infantry unit should probably become a 4+ save with two wounds.  3+ saves are just so uncommon in AoS, it seems like upping the Wounds should really come first.

I'll just share a few of my favorites here.  As always, these are works in progress (in case the lack of a command ability on the Autarch didn't give that away).

I'm especially happy with the Swooping Hawks Skyleap ability.  I think this will be fun without being too terribly intense.

I was going to make the Mandiblasters a very short ranged weapon, but ultimately decided that it should be an ability so that the Autarch can benefit from it.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Age of Warhammer V.2

Creating the Age of Warhammer rules is really what got me into Age of Sigmar after not being impressed with my first handful of battles.  I've mostly transitioned to playing normal AoS (obviously not that normal since I am constantly making my own content), but I still enjoy fielding Rank & File formations in larger battles and consulting the miscast table when that comes up every once in a while.  After having some experience with the Age of Warhammer rules, I wanted to tweak it a little to make the Rank & File troops a little less maneuverable, and I figured while I was there, I would add in a couple mechanics that I passed on the first time around.  My goal with these rules is to create kind of a middle ground where fans of older editions of Warhammer can enjoy some of the old mechanics without stepping too much on the game's normal functionality.

To that end, I've added a second page to the Age of Warhammer rules that includes Challenges, Mysterious Terrain, and Magic Items.  The Mysterious Terrain is obviously a throwback to 8th edition, but it also can be used as an alternative terrain table.  I don't know about others, but I've found the baseline terrain rules to be a bit lackluster as several of them don't effect battles in a meaningful fashion most of the time.  These should be somewhat more consistently relevant to the action of the battle.

The Magic Items rules are written largely to get that element of surprise when your opponent reveals their Dispel Scroll or super killy character or whatever.  You can of course play with more magic items if you want.  I included one magic item for each grand alliance in addition to a selection of classic common magic items.

Age of Warhammer Downloads

Rules - Age of Warhammer
Battleplan - Blood and Glory