Thursday, 27 April 2017

Mordheim Season 3 - The Gate Keeper

The penultimate game of the Mordheim Season 3 campaign rolled around earlier last week, and with all the antagonists ready for a difficult dust up, it promised to be a good one.

The set up was similar the the penultimate game last season with the approach the evil Necromancer's lair (the aforementioned Slayer's End, a huge and crumbling temple cum cathedral) covered by the remains of the ruined gatehouse and out houses appearing out of the surrounding Drakwald Forest. Guarding the only entrance to the lair was the warband's old 'friend' the Great Oak, a evil spirit possessed Tree (who the bands had failed to kill in the previous Season) and some accompanying Shadow Dryads, all tasked with preventing access to the lair. The actual entrance was guarded by the daunting figures of two animated/possessed suits of Armour.

All the bands were present to have a go; Ian's Dwarves (victors of the previous game, Andy L's Witch Hunters, Kev's Undead, Dave's Marienburger's, Andy W's Skaven and my own Protectorate.

The Dwarves had a free move (they needed it anyway) to kick things off and then, just for a dramatic change, the bad guys managed to get the initiative and got to go first moving fairly randomly but with the Great Oak moving from the centre of the courtyard towards the entrance.

The Protectorate were next and moved as fast as they could towards the entrance and towards one of the Shadow Dryads that was menacingly moving towards the flank and managed to take down the first of the Shadow Dryads that was hovering around. The Skaven moved down the side of the ruins and began to rapidly close on the rear of the Protectorate with the much reduced Marienburger's slow to move up behind the Skaven and attempted a couple of long range shots at the disappearing Rats.

The Undead moved forward to wards the ruins tentatively at first and sent out their hounds to attempt to destroy the Dryad which looked to be heading in their direction but lost both beasts for their trouble, and the Witch Hunters mirroring the Skaven on the other side of the field, moved along the flank and towards the Dwarves, who in turn moved as fast as their legs could carry them straight towards the awaiting gate but in formation, keeping regular ranks with plenty of space to maneuver. The Dwarves quickly dispatching the first of the Dryads that ventured in their direction.

Undead move to contact with the a Dryad

WH's & Dwarves moving
The Skaven quickly out paced the Protectorate who were forced to turn to face the encroaching rat-types. In an attempt to forestall the enevitable, the Protectorate got the charge in and managed to hit the slightly scattered front ranks of Skaven who were all the heavy hitters in the Skaven camp, and as usual screened by small rat types.

The dice were not to be, and the Protectorate only managing to kill one rat and wound the Rat Ogre (with a lone Archer armed with a dagger no less). The resultant counter attack brought the usual numbers to bare and the Protectorate lost three of their number taken out of action. The subsequent round enforced break test was a resounding 12 and the Protectorate left the field after three rounds.

Protectorate charge the Skaven front ranks
The Skaven rear ranks meanwhile lined up and in a decent show of volley firing sling shots, removed another of the Shadow Dryads while the rest of the band were busy with the Protectorate.

The Marienburgers continued their very cautious advance on the rear of the Skaven, lobbing the occasional arrow in their direction but to no effect and the Undead (headed by the new-ish) Vampire charged into, and made short work of the Dryad that had duffed up his dogs.

The Witch Hunters now began to head for the main courtyard area and began to head straight for the Great Oak while positioning their Halfling Scout in one of the ruins to take pot shots at the now advancing Undead. The Dwarves also continued their single-minded advance, taking out the last of the Shadow Dryads as it tried to take refuge in the ruins of Slayers End.

The Dwarves and WH's (erstwhile Allies)
 dangerously close
The Skaven approach the Great Oak

The game now swung in a north/south divide. The Undead broke cover and headed out into the courtyard, with the Marienburger's hovering round on the outskirts hoping to pick up on pieces left by the others combat and the Witch Hunters, originally heading for the main objective, changed course and about faced to face-up to the encroaching Undead.

To the north and the Skaven purposely headed for the Great Oak, now having moved to intervene between them and the entrance.. The Dwarves, moving slower but no less direct, now free from the possible attention of the Witch Hunters, moved towards the entrance on the other side from the Rats.

The Rats advancing on the Oak let out a hail of sling stones but only one of the many finding it's mark before the multitude closed in on the Oak and one of the door guardian suits. The Dwarves, slightly more spread, though deliberately, moved into contact with the other suit while shooting at the un-engaged Skaven ranks. 

The battle at the gate commences
The Skaven and the Dwarvf ranks (including their merc Pit-fighters) made fairly short work of the magically animated guardians. The Dwarf blunderbuss took out a couple more of the rats but the Great Oak though beginning to take a few wounds continued to take out a couple more rat-types.

...and gets messier
The Dwarves now engaged the rats nearest the door to try and clear a way into Slayers end and with the closing rounds a mix up of the Rats and Dwarves battling round the Great Oak who continued to bash anyone who came close.

The Undead and Witch Hunter's close
Southwards, the Undead and Witch Hunters faced off. The Halfling Marksman perched on the ruins had failed to find his mark, but the subsequent answering fire from the Dregs managed to topple him and prevent further mischief.

The WH's charged into combat en-masse, and though out-numbering the Undead failed to conclusively damage them. After a fairly brief but messy struggle, the Witch Hunters broke and headed for the hills but only after taking out a couple of the Undead numbers putting them close to break test too.

The Undead look to see off the Merc's
With the Witch Hunter's gone, the Undead turned their attention to the Merc's who were now sufficient to cause the Undead concern having been depleated. The combat with the Merc's was brief and pretty decisive with the Merc's voluntarily routing to avoid casualties to their already much reduced band.

....and messier. The final stages of the battle at the gate
At the gate, things were coming to a conclusion. Though the Skaven had managed to take quite a few wounds off the Great Oak, it was still standing and dealing out the damage and coupled with charging what they could into the Dwarves, the Dwarves got much the better of this combat.

With extensive losses, the Skaven eventually broke while the Dwarves, freed from this combat and before the Great Oak could turn it's full attentions, piled through the entrance into Slayers End but down nearly a third of their number and having to leave their marksman to his fate and the hands (branches) of the Great Oak

With only the Undead left on the table, they attempted to close on the Great Oak from the other end of the Courtyard and though making three successful rolls on his break test, inevitably Kev failed the last roll before getting into combat and had to flee the field in the face of the terrifying Oak.

With the objective complete (just) and the bands reaching Slayers End, the next and final game of the Season will be the final confrontation to take down Allex the Necromancer. Kev's Undead, as last man standing did have the option to mount a raid on any of his opponent warbands prior to the final confrontation, but he declined the option thinking that this would do little advantage prior to the last battle.

The final game will be a bit different to all the others as there will be a staggered deployment, based on the results of this match with the order being determined by firstly the order that bands managed to exit through the gate and then the reverse order that the bands routed from battle. 

This means that the Dwarves will again go first, followed by the Undead and the Marienburgers, then the Skaven followed by the Witch Hunters (though as different number of melee rounds were played in the two combats, that might actually be the other way round) and last on the scene will be the Protectorate of Sigmar (who will hopefully hoover up the goodies after the mayhem, but we'll see).

With the shadow of the last campaign conclusion looming over all Season 2 The Necromancer's Lair Part 2, the bands are keen to ensure the Necromancer doesn't get away this time. To see if they manage his demise or crash and burn, look out for the next exciting episode.....

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Ghost in the Shell - Review

I caught up with the recent release of the latest Scarlet Johannson fight fest movie, 'Ghost in the Shell' last week.

Based on the 1995 cult manga/anime title of the same name, GitS is a fitting release to go with the current plethora of cyberpunkesque films covering this genre at the moment.

The film plot does stay largely true to the manga title but with the usual clipping to make the story line fit movie (under two hour) timescale.

With Scarlet Johannson in the lead role as 'Major' a person saved from a terrible life threatening accident and her brain transplanted into a state of the art, one of a kind android body producing a less than organic cyborg who is trained as a assassin cum trouble shooter cum walking weapon. 

The main plot line starts off and follows Major and the rest of the 'anti-terrorist' team in tracking down the shadowy figure 'Kruze' and while doing so, she starts to have glitches and begins to question her identity.

The whole movie had me half thinking in terms of Blade Runner, and there are definitely obvious parallels that can be drawn between the movies with a few particular night time shots which were difficult to separate. I believe the movie has been 20 yrs in getting to the big screen and it would be likely had in been screened sooner than now, it would have been labelled as a spin off from the classic.

I found the film quite engaging and some of the supporting cast are particularly eye catching and characterful. Scarlet herself I though managed to pull off the role with reasonable effect and though reasonably pretty-fied to suit a Hollywood/mainstream release did move around in a fairly androgynous mode and avoided being a Black Widow clone fairly successfully with a hunched up plodding gait adoption which seperates her performance from the likes of 'Lucy' or 'Under the Skin' but Scarlet does look to be the go-to gal for this type of flick at the moment, probably due to likely box office pull.

There is not a lot else I can say around the storyline without major (no pun intended) spoilers if you don't already know the story, but many of the iconic images from the 1995 original have been retained within the movie including the lagoon fight with an invisible Major and the 'big boss fight out with the spider tank (which I thought really didn't fit well with the feel of the rest of the movie, but it was in the original so there nyah) and much robotic angst ridden self doubt through out.

I have no doubt that purist fans will have derided the movie, pretty much as always happens with this type of re-make/real life visualisation)  and in fairness, a lot of the moralisation and conceptual rationalisation is missing from the movie. I suspect this is deliberate to make the film more main stream acceptable. (Lots of ...tion's there).

One point to pick up on this release though is the likelihood of more Cyberpunk titles to come, not least the up coming Blade Runner 2049 which I believe is scheduled for October this year, so GitS at least paves the way.

A pretty good cyberpunk movie in all and enough eye candy to make it worth the trip to the cinema. 'Ghost in the Shell' gets an acceptable 7 out of 10 from the Warblog, go and see it if you have a couple of hours to spare.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Mordheim Season 3 - The Coven

The latest in the ongoing saga that is our Third Season Mordheim Campaign rolled around earlier last week, with all the antagonists lined up to have a bash at the Witch's Coven who had been tracked down to their lair at the head of a wooded valley somewhere deep within the Drakwald Forest and nearing the final destination of Slayer's End.

The Bands approach the Covens Lair at the head
of the valley
The usual suspects were present, clockwise round the table; Kev and his newbie Vampire led Undead, Andy L and his now robust Witch Hunters, Ian and his trudging Dwarves, my less than dangerous Protectorate of Sigmar, Dave's much depleted Marienburg Mercenaries and Any W's Skaven horde, with the remnants of the Witch's Coven at the head of the table with their backs to the wall as it were.

The only way out for the eight Witchs and Warlocks and their supporting Wargs and skeleton guards was through the encroaching bands, back down the valley so would attempt to avoid combat and try and slip through the encroaching net.

The Merc's take pot shots at the Protectorate as they rush
towards the Coven
As a novelty, I kicked off the proceedings and started a beeline rush towards the Witches, trying to keep to cover and avoid as much shooting from the Merc's and Dwarves as possible. The Merc's moved round the the back of the Protectorate and managed to stun the newbie Protectorate Archer. 

The Dwarves start their usual long march to the action.
The Skaven in their turn rush out the starting box in a pell-mell dash to close with the Witches and Warlocks as quickly as possible.

The Skaven 'mob-rush' towards the Witches, closing the distance
as quickly as possible.
The Coven move out of their corner and start to try to escape the clutches of the bands, little or no spells are fired off due to intervening forestry so far.

The Witches attempt to break-out
The Undead advance cautiously, and in formation (causing much hilarity among the participants for copying the Marienburger tactics), towards the advancing Coven members and the Witch Hunters in turn move round to the rear of the Undead, intent on mischief. The Dwarves begin their trudge to they and keep up with proceedings.

The Undead, 'feeling vulnerable' advance in formation towards
the Witches with the WH's in hot pursuit
The Protectorate continued their move through the woods trying to avoid intermittent fire from several directions, the previously downed Archer eventually falling foul of the continued attention of several enemy bowmen.

The Protectorate continue their own rush, now
 heading for the Skaven
The Merc's continued their cautious advance, circling round to the rear of the Protectorate while the Skaven rushed towards the Escaping Witches and the Undead cautiously advance while watching their back with the Witch Hunters slowly closing and the Dwarves continuing their trudge to catch anyone.

The Skaven break cover and close on the fleeing Witches
The Skaven charge when it came was devastating and Andy managed to clear almost the entirety of the Witches crew in one round due to, at least in part to a jaw dropping amount of critical's. The Witches only getting a couple of paltry spells off before disappearing before the furry tide. A couple of the Witches broke off along with a couple of Warg's charging the Undead and were felled after a brief tussle with the Vampire Crew, holding them up long enough for the Witch Hunter's to catch up after having a couple of turn's delay trying to get rid of a blocking Zombie.

Only one Warlock managed to slip past the Skaven horde (by diligent and successful use of a repeated flight spell) and made for broke rushing to hopeful freedom between the Protectorate and the Dwarves.

The Merc's try some long range shots at the swiflty
disappearing Protectorate
The lone Warlock flees,
hoping no-one has noticed his departure
'Where'd they all go?' The Skaven line after 'removing'
the entirety of the Witches in one rush.
The Protectorate close on the Skaven flank
The Undead make short work of the couple of Warg's and Witches and are forced to turn to face the encroaching WH's and a melee ensue's with the Undead shooting proving to not be up to it's usual standard.

The Undead turn to face the encroaching Witch Hunters

The Protectorate charge into the rear guard of the Skaven but after dropping a couple of giant rats, The Skaven counter charge and Andy continues his dice rolling success and drop three of the Protectorate in reply. With 50% of their number down quickly, the Protectorate leg it to avoid further losses.

With the Witch Hunter's closing fast, Kev's Undead moved into contact with the advancing Skaven, and with the use of the Cane of Alluminas (negating the fear affect of the Undead to it's holder and those around him) the Skaven charged in with the Rat Ogre and and several of the Rat heavy hitters and dropped several of the Undead with Andy W's ongoing dice bonanza continuing unabated.

The Dwarves and the Witch Hunters mutually advance
 towards the Skaven
Kev deciding that nothing was to be gained by hanging about legged it with his Undead leaving the Witch Hunter's and the struggling on Dwarves to move towards the up till now victorious Skaven horde. 

The Skaven, with the Undead gone find themselves spread out
 with the WH's and Dwarves closing
The Marienburger's now emerged from the woods and fired off a few shot's towards the Skaven rear.

The Mercs close 'slowly' on the Skaven in their turn
...and the Skaven Rats and Gutter Runners oblige and move
 towards the Merc's
The Skaven in their turn make short work of the Merc's vanguard and Dave retires the Marienburgers to avoid losses once again.

The Witch Hunters go for it and advance on the Skaven,
as the Dwarves move into position
The Witch Hunter's with little to lose, advanced towards the Skaven while the Dwarves near to on coming battle, with the Dwarves and Witch Hunters mutually agreeing a non-agression pact in the face of the Skaven types to deal with.

The Skaven charge on the Witch Hunter's was telling but the WH's managed to weather the storm and pass a break test easily and their response to the charge was effective and manged to take down three or four of their number (mainly Rats).

The Witch Hunters weather the Skaven charge, and take down several in return.
The Dwarves move to hopefully get a hit, while sniping from afar
The Dwarves moved into contact (just) and their hireling Pit Fighter charging in and the Dwarf Sharpshooter from afar (very afar) adding to the Skaven woes forcing a break test. With the low Skaven Leadership to blame, the Skaven fled the field.

With the Witch Hunters then agreeing to voluntarily rout to avoid nastiness with the Dwarves, the Dwarves once again gain another victory (mainly by not getting into battle in time).

The victor's (by default) the Dwarves, last man standing
With the Witches now largely out the way and Ian deciding to not have a raid on one of his neighbouring warbands, the action next time moves to the penultimate scenario and the assault on the outer defences of  the Necromancer's new lair at 'Slayer's End'.

Monday, 13 February 2017

9th Age - Empire vs Ogres Whitewash

Another club game a week or so ago, this time a quickly put together lay-down game with Ian who was wanting to have a game and wanted to have another try of the 9th Age rules, having only had one game previously.

I just used the Army I had used to reasonable effect (though probably aided by a helping of dice luck) the previous week as this was still fresh ( and not yet unpacked as well) and Ian was as I had guessed producing his Ogres.

Both our Army Lists were pretty light weight in terms of extra's and Ian's list didn't have any magic at all, just standard unit's out the box as it were. Again a 4,500 point apiece line up and we randomly threw up a diagonal deployment and the Breakthrough scenario again.

So far so good. We deployed our troops with things seemingly fairly close together and Ian won the throw for Initiative.

I won't go through a blow by blow account of the game as it was all pretty one sided as the deployment photo, to the end of turn 3 photo's show.


The Ogres shooting alone reduced my army by something like 25% within a turn and a half before the forces came to blows (though aided by the usual catastrophic misfire from the Volley Gun) where I knew the Ogres would be pretty dangerous in melee. I hadn't expected to get shot to bits before then. Zut Alors!

Initial Empire Advance
The ensuing melee's were pretty much completely one sided with the continued shooting carving up the rest.

Much thinned by shooting, nearly in contact

By the end of Turn 3 I pretty much ceased to have an army with only minor damage having being inflicted in turn.

Crunch,, turn 3 
Not sure what message I should take from this joint 'nilla encounter other than to say 'woaw! What happened there?' and perhaps improve my dice rolling abilities. 8th Ed WHFB's all over again. Certainly a very one sided game from the get-go and extremely unbalanced capabilities from straight out the box troop types but, Hey ho.

Time to look at the Army lists in a bit more detail for the next encounter, though I suspect a difficult match up regardless even if I go for a very beardy list.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

9th Age - Empire Civil War - Rematch (The Grudge)

A few weeks ago Andy L introduced me to delights or otherwise of The 9th Age tourney rules and we had played an Empire vs Empire match to try out the rules and a jolly time was had by all, that is excepting Andy's troops who had a fairly poor showing and got thoroughly trounced by my 9th Age Newbie's.

As a result of this, Andy who has now become the clubs 9th Age guru and is championing the 9th Age rules enthusiastically, wanted to have another try out (read this as get even for the crash and burn event last time) of the rules and his slightly revamped list prior to taking part in the locally organised 9th Age Tourney soon to roll. I, of course obliged.

Initial deployments
With a 4,500 pt a piece match up and a Breakthrough scenario randomly determined, we laid down our troops as per the scenario doctrine, and launched into the grudge match. Andy's list being based around an anvil unit of Greatswords with accompanying spear detachments and Arcane Engine to buff things up along with supporting cavalry, crossbow and Artillery. My list was very much a vanilla list and practically no magic to speak of, relying on numbers to see things through. Both of us going for Priestly spell casting only for the magic phase.

Andy got the initiative and initially only advanced his flanking cavalry units forward and fired everything he had to try and thin my ranks, but to little effect. In my turn I launched everything forward at full speed in an attempt to get as much into his deployment zone from the outset. Followed by the usual artillery sniping, equally ineffectual.

The flanking cavalry duels were different from each other, but equally disastrous for Andy. On my left flank, the two Imperial Cavalry units met and proceeded to hack at each other for two rounds or so with my numbers getting the advantage and taking a figure off on each combat until his unit broke and left the table in disarray. On the other flank, his Pistoliers (Reiter) rode up and discharged their pistols but only managed to take a solitary rider, in return my fire laid low his entire unit in one fell swoop and this left the way open for a flank move to threaten his Artillery and cavalry flank.

In the middle of the field, my lines advanced to contact as quickly as possible to contact hoping they could weather the meaty crunch from Andy's Anvil unit long enough to get some scoring units into his deployment zone before the whistle blew. A screen of Flaggellents advancing to the fore to soak up any missile fire initially and try and hopefully take off a few before the inevitable.

The centre crashed pretty much at the same time, with the Flaggellants managing to make contact but only lasted two combats thanks to a detachment flank attack and my swordsmen lumping into the other detachment. Simultaneously, Andy's Griffon Knights with their 'Super-Chickens' met my General and his Templar Knight bodyguard.

The following rounds of combats saw the eventual defeat of the enemy Imperial Cavalry on my left flank and this was quickly followed by the Super Chicken Knights breaking from combat from my General and Bodyguard aided by a flank attack from the smaller Halberdier regiment. Also, with no surprises here the Flaggellants having done their duty went down to a man havng only inflicted light casualties thanks to the super-buffing of Andys Anvil unit (which was looking super shiny thanks to all the plusses and re-rolls heaped on his Anvil unit much from the Arcane Engine at the back), and Andy's Imperial Guard then managing an Overrun on into my own Guard Regiment. (Post game note; can you get an over-run even if it was you who was charged?) The Sword and Halberd conflict in the centre continued but it was already looking like Swordsmen choice was a poor one with Swordsmen not having any of the advantages they had under WHFB under the 9th Age Rules.

Things rapidly changed now though as the end game approached (as it often does) and with Andy's Anvil no longer on the defensive but looking to push forward, my centre began to suffer. Although Andy's big unit of Imperial Cavalry did charge my large Halberdier Regiment and in the two mutual rounds of Combat in the third turn lost badly and succumbed to a break test and were surprisingly caught in the pursuit and destroyed. However, in a turnaround, my Swordsmen had a poor showing in this round and got trounced and likewise broke, unlike Andy's Cavalry However they went like lightning and easily outpaced their pursuers.

Andy's Anvil crumped into my Guard and chopped them into little bits but with their Bodyguard rule they stoically fought on, and on the extreme right the Pistoliers eliminated one of Andy's nuisance Cannons and continued to the rear of Andy's lines.

On the left flank my Imperial Cavalry and General mit Garde moved in for the kill to take out the other cannon by way of destroying one of Andy's Crossbow units en-route. In the centre my Halberdiers charged into one of the Spear detachments to try and stall the inevitable.

With the end nigh (thanks to running out of time) Andy's Anvil demolished my Guard who went down fighting to a man. My Swords continued their rout and legged it off the table. The Pistoliers and Halberdiers polished off the other crossbow unit and advanced to the rear of the Anvil and closed on the troublesome Arcane Engine. 

In the centre Andy's rallied but depleted Super-Chickens came back to the fight and helped the Spear destroy my small Halberd detachment but managed to lose another of their number to sharp shooting from my otherwise un-busy Archers. As the Anvil and one Spear detachment tried to get into my deployment area, my handgunner's and artillery lobbed a few shots into the encroaching mass but caused little damage. Andy's pursuit dice proved to be cruel and both his units failed to get into my deployment zone by millimeters.

The end result when the whistle blew was a draw on points but with me having four scoring units in Andy's deployment zone, I picked up the victory on the secondary objectives, though as it turned out a very close run thing.

Conclusions; the Artillery was pretty ineffectual, though poor dice is probably the culprit here. My Priestly buffing proved to be of little use and never managed to achieve much, unlike Andy's super-buffing in the centre. I think on even set ups, magic is likely to cancel each other one more often than not. I don't like the point and  shoot/kill artillery generally and i was very lucky not to get splatted by Andy's Mortar which could have wiped out one of my smaller units with one hit if he managed to hit. The line of sight rule just sucks and makes these seem too powerful but I suspect necessary when facing big nasty monster armies though being able to shoot through your own intervening troops just tastes wrong.

Definitely a fun game played in the right spirit in the end and no doubt will be played again though some serious thought my be required to toughen things up.

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