Thursday, December 15, 2005

Upcoming events

The War of the Beard is coming to a midwest near you ...

My friend Jon and I rarely get to see each other because he lives in Indiana. Imagine how much worse this has been since he moved to NJ! He has (relatively) recently picked up the High Elves, and we decided that when we get to play (rarely), it should be something more than a simple one-off game.

Enter the War of the Beard.

The War of the Beard (for those who don't know) was the beginning of the end of High Elf/Dwarf relations in the Warhammer world. I won't drone on about whose fault it was, but it was the Elves. On 12/31/05 (or thereabouts), my stout warriors will get their first try at righting old wrongs.

More to come on this ...

Rob on the waters

Ooo, yeah. Been a big slacker about posting here for a bit. Last night we finally got a little action in on the waters again. Rob tried his hand for the first time. A report of his experiences (by him) is below:

After watching Brad and gang play Man of War for a while now, I finally decided to dive in and give it a try. Liking the ideas of large stone fortresses adorned with ridculous artillery delicately placed on boats, I decided to give the Chaos Dwarves a try. Across the board from me, I was facing off against Kent and the Dwarves. My luck, I thought, I'm going to take my first stab at Man of War against someone who has already had a lot of experience with his fleet. Oh well.

The game went my way from the get go. I got lucky and was able to pound Kent's main ship (I forget the names of these things), cause a lot of immobilizations on the first couple of turns, and sacrifice my small ships for the good of my hard hitting monsters. By the time I had captured Kent's admiral, the game was pretty much up. I don't think we actually calculated a final score, but I definately came out on top.

Now for my initial impressions of the game.

First of all, Man of War seems pretty simplistic for a GW game. (Note: There was no magic involved as both sides were too short to reach into the winds of magic; ie. Dwarves, but I did have some Chaos Gifts that came into play a bit.) The fleets all appear to be similar in that they move in a similar way and have similar ranges to their weapons. The objective for everyone (the Chaos Dwarf big ships excluded) is to get close and fire/ram/board.

Turn Order: The initiative system and the rotation between players is very unique for GW. I liked it for the most part. It made you think in a different way then you usually do in GW games. On the downside, it really limits your ability to pull off full fleet manuevers. Your opponent always has the ability to gum up the works on your plan well before you get to put it into effect. It always gives a bit of a bonus to the fleet with more ships. Being able to move and fire three or four more ships/units after your opponent has shown his whole hand could be a big advantage. Luckily Kent only outnumbered me by a single unit, but since I had the Tzneetch gift on my big mortar ship that allowed me to go first each turn, he usually got two turns after I was out of ships each round. Later in the game, once you've started loosing units, the effects of this could probably start causing snowball effects in this regard.

Movement: I think I was expecting something a bit more akin to Battle Fleet Gothic. I find it somewhat improbable that ships can just sit dead in the water, no problem. I also find it a bit improbable that all the ships are about as manueverable as every other one. My paddlewheels did allow me to make some cool manuevers, pivoting while standing still which came in use with my big guns. Having all the ships manuever about the same really limits the differences between the big ships and the small ships and may overpower the bigger ships a bit.

Shooting: The thing I liked best about shooting was that instead of there being variety in the weapons, there was a lot of variety in the damage a ship would take. Very nice. You never really know what's going to happen when you start pounding away at your opponent. The similarity in guns though does lead to what seems like pretty static and generic strategies (get close and shoot). We did have some special shooting units, but they all seemed to have equal drawbacks to their benefits. For every awesome shot I could get off with my big guns, I could have also sunk my own ship. The only way to get a big shot off is to risk a big loss. Again, either you play safe and stick to a generic strategy, or you risk it big. Kent's Nautali were kinda fun. You could tell he's had experience with them. Ride up the flank, approach an abeam ship, submerge and fire. I'll have to remember to put some wounds on those things early next time and to never give them an abeam ship to fire at.

Boarding Actions/Ramming: Again, a bit of variety would be nice. For the most part, it seemed like most boarding actions come down to a simple dice off. Ramming comes down to hoping your opponent fails his armour save, not really on your skill as an admiral.

Overall, I think it was a pretty fun game. I might still prefer Battle Fleet Gothic (the only other ship combat game by GW). It might take a few games of getting used to the fleets to see the specifics of each one. Right now it still seems like Man of War is a game that encourages generic strategy across all the fleets, not strategy that plays to your fleet. Maybe this will come with a few more games.

Movement: I think I was expecting something a bit more akin to Battle Fleet Gothic. I find it somewhat improbable that ships can just sit dead in the water, no problem. I also find it a bit improbable that all the ships are about as manueverable as every other one. My paddlewheels did allow me to make some cool manuevers, pivoting while standing still which came in use with my big guns. Having all the ships manuever about the same really limits the differences between the big ships and the small ships and may overpower the bigger ships a bit. Shooting: The thing I liked best about shooting was that instead of there being variety in the weapons, there was a lot of variety in the damage a ship would take. Very nice. You never really know what's going to happen when you start pounding away at your opponent. The similarity in guns though does lead to what seems like pretty static and generic strategies (get close and shoot). We did have some special shooting units, but they all seemed to have equal drawbacks to their benefits. For every awesome shot I could get off with my big guns, I could have also sunk my own ship. The only way to get a big shot off is to risk a big loss. Again, either you play safe and stick to a generic strategy, or you risk it big. Kent's Nautali were kinda fun. You could tell he's had experience with them. Ride up the flank, approach an abeam ship, submerge and fire. I'll have to remember to put some wounds on those things early next time and to never give them an abeam ship to fire at.

Boarding Actions/Ramming: Again, a bit of variety would be nice. For the most part, it seemed like most boarding actions come down to a simple dice off. Ramming comes down to hoping your opponent fails his armour save, not really on your skill as an admiral.

Overall, I think it was a pretty fun game. I might still prefer Battle Fleet Gothic (the only other ship combat game by GW). It might take a few games of getting used to the fleets to see the specifics of each one. Right now it still seems like Man of War is a game that encourages generic strategy across all the fleets, not strategy that plays to your fleet. Maybe this will come with a few more games.

Monday, November 21, 2005

So what are we waiting for?

Well, Nautilii and High Elves, to be specific. And Sea of Blood minus the rules. Once those things come in, we'll be at the following spot:

Fleets that are DONE (except fliers):
Dwarfs
Elves
Dark Elves
Chaos Dwarfs
Norse (only plan on using as allies)

The following fleets are CLOSE (e.g. playable now, but could use more):
Bretonnians (Need 3 Buccaneers)
Skaven (Need 3 Warp-raiders)

The following fleets are not started or barely started:
Empire (Need Greatship, Hellhammers and Ironfists)
Orcs (Got nothing)
Chaos, any flavor (Got nothing)
Monsters, any kind (Got nothing)

I'm really hoping for a big MoW day at some point, post-Thanksgiving. Once the Nautilii and Elves come in, we'll really be spoiled for choices.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Last two battles

Over the weekend, I had the good fortune to fit in two MoW battles. Neither got finished, but both were fun and close.

Battle #1 Marc (Chaos Dwarfs) vs. Brad (Dwarfs)

My first chance ever to pilot the Dwarfs. Pretty exciting because they were the fleet I had chosen when I was first interested in the game. The game started out rough, but evened out as time went on. Marc got a 2nd turn kill on one of my Ironclads - a combination of a fortunate scatter on the Great Leveller (10", in the right direction for once) and a good shot with one of his Thunderfires (8 shots!). All game long I couldn't seem to get him to roll anything higher than a 2 on the critical hits table. Rather frustrating, really. I managed to get off a few rams and a couple torpedos. Only one torpedo was particularly exciting, taking down the Great Leveller. Ended up quite close, 11 below the waterline hits (Brad) to 10 below the waterline hits (Marc). We called it a draw.

Battle #2 Nathan (Skaven) vs. Brad (Dwarfs again)

This battle was characterized by two things - forgetting the "crack the nut" rule for the Dwarfs and Nathan blowing his stuff up. This was the first chance we had gotten to play with the Skaven, so this will probably be mostly general observations on the fleet. Fortunately (for me) we didn't get to witness the unbelievable power of Skaven magic. On four spells (before I captured the Grey Seer), I rolled three dispels (only on a six!) and one save from a magical figurehead. Lucky. As. Heck. We discovered that the Warpfire Throwers are lethal - both to themselves and others. I think I blew up one of Nathan's six, he accounted for the other five. With three flaming hits at a minus 2 to armor save, they are pretty unbelievable at 25 points per, though. The most unfortunate moment of the game came when Nathan was "warming up" the Screaming Bell in anticipation of getting in range of me and, er, cracked it before he got there. Oops. Nathan used the quite lethal and confusingly named Deathburners to great effect. The ability to just flat-out kill crew is pretty legit. Especially when you have 9 ships (!) that can do it. I only had 11 ships in my whole fleet ...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Kent on MoW

The following is Kent's take on MoW so far ...

"So, cool things about MoW, of course the initiative system is great, it allows for a more real time feel with flowing action rather than static in other games. The simplicity of the rules makes it easy to learn, while still allowing for a great deal of tactical variation. Also, contrary to initial thinking I've come to like the victory point system as well. Man o' War cards are cool, adding a little custom factor to each game.

Things I dislike are the magic system, probably because its just old fashioned GW and their new stuff is way better. It is also way too easy to cast spells and hard to dispel. This problem is of course magnified by the fact that I have yet to play in a game where both sides have wizards...Another dislike is that most of the games I've played have looked very similar, as in, sail at enemy, see what happens. This is probably due to just playing a few games, and not yet having a huge handle on the tactics involved. Brad kicked my ass with the Dark Elves by playing smart, and about half way through the game I realized he had made some smart moves, I think I'll just have to try the same in the future.

Yea, other than that, I can't think of a whole lot at the moment, how the ships move is all appropriate. Line of sight issues are a bitch compared to BFG but also make sense.

One of my biggest likes is the Nautilus... when the torpedo works...
One of my biggest dislikes in the Nautilus... when the torpedo doesn't work..."

Given my last post on the same topic, I think we are basically on the same page here. I agree that the games have all looked pretty similar so far. I think that Kent is right that this is partly because we are all still getting the feel for the game. Also, however, all of the ships (except Elves and Chaos Dwarfs) pretty much have the same 9" range guns, with some being even shorter. As a result, both fleets do need to "get to grips" with the other fleet to at least some extent. Sitting back is not really a viable tactic unless you play Chaos Dwarfs. Even then, it's only part of your fleet staying back. Maybe this is a shortcoming of the game, and maybe its just a case of the game having different dynamics than WFB or 40K. Personally, I've wondered somewhat about using different tactics against the more boarding/close action-oriented fleets.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Wednesday night mayhem

Mmm, late post. Sorry 'bout that, been sick all day.

Okay, so as advertised, the first bout of the night was between my Dark Elves and Kent's Dwarfs. Fleets looked like this:

Dark Elves: Black Ark of Naggaroth, 3 Death Fortresses, 2 squadrons of 3 Doomreavers, Mage Lord
Dwarfs: Dreadnought, 2 Ironclads, 2 squadrons of 3 Monitors, 2 Nautili, 2 Man o' War cards.

Wind began from the north. I deployed on the West and Kent deployed on the east.

I started out with everything lurking inside the Black Ark, which deployed in the NE corner of my deployment zone, behind a small island. Kent's fleet was arranged (from N to S) as: Monitors, Ironclad, Dreadnought, Monitors, Ironclad, Nautilus, Nautilus. Basically, the game consisted of the Black Ark moving around the North end of the island (magical movement), then dropping off ships that rolled down the Dwarfen line, engaging ships one at a time. I got off a lucky Whirlpool early to slow down Kent's Dreadnought, which aided in this effort. Mostly this game served to showcase the quite impressive destructive potential of the Dark Elves. We knew they were going to be good but WOW! We decided the real trick is to make sure to keep them out in the open. I managed to engage in such a way as to block off much of Kent's shooting with his own ships, and this caused the DE to take limited damage.

I'm going to have to rely on Kent's memory for the second game of the night, which was his Dwarfs vs. Brett's Bretonnians, in Brett's first ever game of MoW!

After three games of Man o' War, I just wanted to give a quick overview of my likes and dislikes of the system.

Likes:

1) The system is very simple. The game can be learned in one sitting and the rules can be mastered in two. The rules are probably too simplistic for the tastes of some, but coming from WFB, it's a breath of fresh air.

2) Initiative roll/alternating attack. One of the most frustrating things about WFB is having less charge distance than your opponent. This pretty much guarantees that you will never get the charge. However, given the mechanic of alternating squadron movement with your opponent in MoW, this is less the case. If you set up for a good tactic with a squadron, there is a decent chance that you will get to pull it off in the next turn, especially if you win the initiative roll. The alternation of attack also forces you to prioritize your attacks much more, as you want to make sure you make best use of the board layout.

3) Forced choices. One of the more annoying things about WFB/W40K is the use of a very limited number of unit choices in a very diverse army. MoW does not allow this. With a few very rare exceptions, you have to take at least one of every ship type in your fleet. This both a) forces you to use all ships and b) leaves relatively little room to "tool up" on any single selection.

Dislikes:
1) The magic system: Magic can be very powerful in MoW, and is really not all that hard to cast, but can be QUITE difficult to dispel. At this point, however, I feel this could just be nitpicking to find something to not like.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

No kidding. I'm really going to use this site for its purpose

Okay, tonight is Wednesday night - GW night in Ann Arbor. Kent and I are squaring off for another matchup in *gasp* Man o' War! Admittedly, there has been little MoW-based discussion on my MoW blog so far. We'll see what we can do about that after tonight. This will be the first game that we've played where we are hopefully not misplaying any of the REALLY important rules. Quick summary of our first two games ...

Game 1 - Kent (Dwarfs) vs. Brad (Bretonnians)

We decided we'd start out playing what are allegedly the two most popular navies. It was quickly easy to see why they'd get that reputation. Both are heavily armed and quick, in their way. The Dwarfs are not classically fast, but their ability to turn on the spot is quite useful. This ended up as a pounding by both sides, with a mutually agreed upon draw.

Game 2 - Kent (Bretonnians) vs. Brad (Chaos Dwarfs)

What a circus. This game was largely characterized by me blowing up Kent's stuff and then my stuff. I got a fortunate draw on Chaos Gift for one of my Thunderfires that let me essentially teleport once during the game. Position chosen? Directly to the aft of his Galleon. The Galleon was sunk by turn 2. The rest of the game was spent with us lamenting the uselessness of Hull-destroyers and being amazed by Kent's nearly successful crippling of the (useless) Great Leveller by boarding with three Buccaneers. They're lousy at boarding, but hey! So's the Leveller! It is also lousy at shooting ...

Likely choices for tonight's Game 3? Kent (Dwarfs) vs. Brad (Dark Elves). We both want to get a feel for all the fleets, but Kent wants to re-try the Dwarfs now that we, you know, roughly KNOW the rules. That and both of us are a bit daunted by learning the Skaven rules ...

There's a big MoW bash planned for Fri/Sat, so maybe more then. Also, I may have pics soon of the partially painted Dwarf fleet.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Pics from the Tourney

First one of Nathan and his kids ... er ... Dark Elves



Next we've got one of Rob's new High Elves. They look pretty good for a week of frantic painting!



Now for the Dwarfies (as Jen calls them). First up are the Thunderers - who I have obviously never gotten back around to painting gun openings on ...



Next, a combo shot. That's the Organ Gun on the left, with the crew I finished painting the night before. On the right are my old, faithful Ironbreakers. The big guy in the front row is the Runesmith I painted entirely on the last night.



Another combination - this time the Cannon and crew with the Warriors on the right. The gentledwarf in the front with the pickaxe is Dal Wattock, my army general.



This one is of my Great Weapon-wielding Warriors. That's a Runesmith in the front row, center.



These are the Slayers I frantically painted in four nights after work. Obviously that right foot on the second from the right is easy to miss - the painting judge and I both must have missed it! ;)



The trusty, rusty Stone Thrower. Didn't get a whole lot of action this tournament. Bad guesses + a horrific amount of misfires. Nathan finally got his petty revenge on it, by the way. That's an engineer in the back right, with the hammer.



Admittedly, a little light on the infantry I am so infatuated with, but a fun group nonetheless!

Before we return to the waters ...

... a quick summary of the U-Con Rogue Trader Tournament.

Before any hopes get raised too high, no one from League Subterranea did at all well. As fate would have it, my first round opponent was, predictably, Nathan. 45 minutes later or so, I was safely 0-1. Rob had a tough first round opponent and a bad army matchup and also fell to 0-1. In the next round, I faced Ken Gatzmeyer (sp?), who I had played a fun game against at the Chicago GT, with unfortunate results. The same result, a loss, was achieved again, but I made a much better showing this time around. I am sure that the fact that Ken was playing an unfamiliar army had nothing to do with it ... not ;) My final round opponent was a local player I had run into several times, but never actually gotten to play. Apparently there was friction in the Dwarfen ranks, as ours was a Dwarf-Dwarf battle. Because I had more infantry and less shooting, I was compelled to march across the forested table, leaving little bits of Dwarf behind me as I went. Eventually the close-fought battle turned out to be a win for me, finally ;)

The weekend was not a complete loss, though. It was good to get to hang out with all my friends, pick up some cheap Elves for my buddy Jon (Jersey Represent!), and ... pick up Best Painted honors! Yay!

Pics to come later tonight ...