Friday, July 29, 2016

Eucebium Map Campaign

Since I'm working on my Eucebium campaign book to go with the series of events I've been running at my FLGS, I was inspired by the Map Campaign rules in the General's Handbook to make my own Spoils list for the map of Eucebium.  This seems like a really fun and easy way to run a simple campaign with minimal work.  I especially like that their Map Campaign rules are built around a map with about a dozen named locations on it.  Pretty much every book they've released so far has such a map in it, which leaves the creative endeavor of creating 'Spoils' special rules to the players.  Anyway, since I had already created my own map, I figured I might as well include a map campaign in the Efengie campaign book I'm working on.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review: Star Trek Beyond

This weekend, I went with my wife to see the newest entry in the Star Trek series.  From watching previews, I didn't expect much.  I looked like a pretty standard action romp in which they listened to the Beastie Boys and Bones was cranky.  They did not disappoint.  It was in fact a pretty standard action romp.  They listened to the Beastie Boys.  Bones was cranky.  I only mention Bones because he really stood out in this movie.

Early in the movie (I'm going to keep this as unspoilery as I can) the crew gets split up.  So there is a lot of stuff going on and it keeps jumping back and forth between different characters and groups of characters.  Most of the movie is spent getting the characters to coalesce again into a crew.  Anyhow, that element (along with more use of shaky-cam than I was happy with) made the movie feel somewhat frenetic and hard to follow.  That said, I think that made Bones stand out because he is so grounded during the movie, simplifying concepts so he can complain about them efficiently.

Honestly, I've got to say that the plot of this movie reminds me much more of Wrath of Khan than anything else.  That's all I'll say on that subject, but if you have opinions please sound off in the comments.

The movie has one of the best set-piece fight scenes I've ever seen.  It's extremely vertiginous for those not educated on orbital mechanics (it didn't bother me at all).  It does the classic Star Trek thing where you introduce a really cool idea and then barely use it for anything besides a backdrop (I'm looking at you Dyson Sphere episode of TNG), but it was a pretty awesome backdrop.

Also, as I was watching it (and I should have gotten this from just the trailer) I felt like the entire space adventure genre was upended by Guardians of the Galaxy.  The movie felt like it was trying really hard to iterate on GotG's success.  I think they actually did a good job with this and the movie didn't feel unoriginal, it just felt like it was made in a post GotG world.

I know this was more of a series of thoughts than a proper review, but that's what you get.  I'm not going to give it a number of stars, I'll just say that if you are expecting a fun sci-fi film, you'll probably not be disappointed.  If you're expecting a brilliant movie that will blow you away, maybe watch something else.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Review: General's Handbook

Yesterday I laid my grubby hands on a fresh new copy of the General's Handbook.  I wasn't one of the folks who was excited about playing with points, I've been much more interested by the Narrative section (which lucky for me seems to have most of the content!).  This book is solid content.  It has a few stories in it, but is mostly just rules for making AoS the game you want to play.  So now that I've had a chance to settle in and peruse it, I'll give you a quick rundown of what you'll find in it, and my personal take on it.

Open Play (3/5)
This section is really just about multi-player battles.  They've split multi-player into two types, "Coalition of Death" and "Triumph and Treachery".  These are team battles and every-man-for-himself type battles respectively.  The book has two "Coalition" battleplans and four "Treachery" battleplans, but there is a catch; two of the "Treachery" battleplans have these funky battlefield layouts that arrange the seven Realm of Battle tiles that you've obviously purchased in a sort of circular pattern.  These two battleplans do not really seem like they can be played handily without such shenanigans, so I think for a lot of players they simply won't be used.  This leaves four other battleplans for us to throw down with, so it's not like it's a waste or anything, but it was a little disappointing that they went there.

Narrative Play (5/5)
As I mentioned, this is the section I was most hyped about, and I can say for a certainty that it did not disappoint.  In this section, you will find:
- 4 narrative battleplans (lopsided and wacky things like completing a ritual, fighting a monster, making a heroic last stand, and summoning a thunderstorm)
- 2 historical battleplans (complete with historical army lists for you to use)
- Path to Glory warband tables (I'm sure you've seen plenty about this, but it has tables for creating and maintaining Chaos, Death, Ironjawz, Fyreslayers, Skaven, Sylvaneth, and Stormcast warbands)
- 2 Path to Glory battleplans (these seem fairly niche)
- 3 different campaign types (map, tree, and matrix)
- 6 more battleplans to go with the campaign rules

That's a bunch of stuff.  I honestly can't say I've read all these battleplans, but from what I've seen, they look like fun and I'm looking forward to playing through their tree campaign (which is what the battleplans go with ostensibly).  If you wanted to play in a Path to Glory campaign with Gutbusters or Freeguild or anything not on that list, you'll just need to make your own tables, there is no support for anything not on that list (which is a surprisingly comprehensive list, but could have perhaps used entries for Destruction and Order).

Of the three different campaign types two (map and tree) can be used as stand-alone campaigns.  The third (matrix) is really more of an advanced technique for organizing a specific battle in a fun way.  I can imagine using it along with a single well-written battleplan (like Clash of Empires or one of the Pitched Battles) to run a two-player campaign, but it is not as robust as the other two campaign types.

The Narrative Play section is a huge step up in support for campaign players from basically any prior attempts at GW to get people to "forge the narrative".  I think that including this in a book that will be purchased by nearly every AoS player will generate a lot of creativity and fun in the community at large and will probably be more important than the next section (Matched Play) in the long run.  Speaking of which...

Matched Play (4/5)
So I'll confess, the first thing I did when I got this book was hand it to my brother so he could write an army list.  After he was finished with that, we played a 2,000 point game using the "Border War" Pitched Battle battleplan.  Points and Pitched Battles have been absolutely the most hyped part of this book.  While the Pitched Battles seem like really fun and well-designed battleplans, the points and force org left a little to be desired perhaps.

By a merely surface inspection, the points don't seem to add a lot of balance.  They add structure for those who need structure, but don't seem to finely tuned with some clever mathematical formula or anything.  Compare (for example) the new Kurnoth Hunters to Ironguts:

Ironguts - 3 models for 220 pts
4 wounds per model; 4+ save
2.18 damage per action per model 
Kurnoth Hunters - 3 models for 180 points
5 wounds per model; 4+ save
2.22 damage per action per model (with the Scythes, which have the same 2" range as Ironguts)

Take a look at the warscrolls and make up your own mind, but I don't feel like this is going to be the comp to end all comps.

There is also an Allegiance section of the book.  I think this will be a lot of fun and is another open ended section that provides stuff to do with what we will.  Specifically, it has an allegiance ability for each of the Grand Alliances.  These are fun, but I think are mostly balanced for Matched Play.  The Command Traits and Artefacts, however, are pretty cool.  Command Traits are special rules you can use to customize your general (think warlord traits in 40k), while Artefacts are magic items that can be carried by the heroes of your army.  I think that these will see a lot of play in both one-off games and campaign type situations.

All told, I think that Matched Play is a great addition to AoS.  It really opens up the game to a whole additional community of players and a new way of playing.

Overall (4/5)

They don't figure into the score, but:
Artwork - this book is full of little illuminations and decorations, but only has a few pieces of full-page artwork.  Spreads are in general reserved for photography, of which there is a pretty large amount.
Fluff - In the narrative section, there are a few fluff bits that go with the historical battleplans, but for the most part there is not much fluff in this book.  This is definitely a rules book.

Monday, July 4, 2016

S'nak Battle!

Last weekend I held the second Age of Sigmar Game Day event at my FLGS.  This time we were battling for control of Fort S'nak, a crucial control point for the Vale of Efengie.

We had an odd number of players (five, up one from last month!), so rather than having a buy we had one of the battles in the first round be a two on one match.  The Ogor and Orruk inhabitants of the Vale ended up siding with Order, so the two player team was an army of Ogors combined with Seraphon, and a small contingent of Fyreslayers.

We decided that the team would get 30 models between them, one of which would be the general.  Also, since we had special rules for the battleplan, we decided that only one model in the entire combined army would wield a Titan-Forged Weapon.

Round 1

Ogors with Seraphon and Fyreslayers vs. Beastmen
While the Beastmen were severely outmatched by Order and their allies, they managed to survive the battle and maintain control of their section of the fort.  The battle came down to the survival of a single Gorghon who was appropriately engaged with the Doomseeker from Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower.  Apparently the Doomseeker was not prepared to emulate the slayers of old.

Ironjawz vs. Hosts of Slaanesh
On the other side of the monstrous Fort S'nak, roughly even contingents of Ironjawz and Slaanesh devotees battled for control of the gates.  The Hosts of Slaanesh were victorious here with support from some Legion of Azorgh artillery.

Round 2

Ironjawz vs. Beastmen
The Ironjawz, this time with a Maw Krusha at the helm, thoroughly stomped the Beastmen army.  There was one turn when the Maw Krusha was buffed by the Battering Ram command ability and charged into a building full of Gors; so in addition to its normal impact hits, it also inflicted D6 mortal wounds on the unit.

Seraphon vs. Hosts of Slaanesh
This time, the Hosts of Slaanesh were led by an old school (horse riding) Archaon wielding a Titan-Forged Weapon.  The Seraphon army consisted of three dinosaurs (Engine of the Gods, Stegadon, and Bastilodon) and a Slaan (in addition to a few other stray units).  In addition to the armies being somewhat bombastic, the Seraphon foolishly set up around a mystical building which worked about as poorly as you can possibly imagine.  So it was basically a bloodbath.

So with three of the four battles going to Chaos, the Fort fell to the dark gods leaving the Vale open for a more substantive assault.  Here's the revised battleplan (with a few things fixed post-event) along with a fluff piece about the most important combat of the afternoon.