My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Song of Bolter and Chainsword (2)

Talk about "epic fail"! My battle using the Song of Bolter and Chainsword (SBC) rules in the last blog entry didn't produce a very good game, but not really because of the rules per se, but rather because I forget the scale of Song of Drums and Shakos. The rules really should be called Squad of Drums and Shakos, as a squad really is about the extent of the troops you should use for each side. My SBC game had 21 Chaos figures in four units and 27 Orks in four units and it failed miserably, mostly because so many figures could not move due to turn-overs. So, no report on that and back to square one.

Space Marines

Space Marine Sergeant:
Armor 3+, Bolter (AP 5, L, +3, +1, +0), Power Fist (AP 2)
Q 3+, C 3, Leader

Space Marines x 3:
Armor 3+, Bolter (AP 5, L, +3, +1, +0), Bolt Pistol (AP 5, S, +3, +1, +0), Frag Grenade (AP -, M, +1, S burst radius), Krak Grenade (AP 4, M, +4, no burst radius)
Q 3+, C 3

Tau

Fire Warrior Team Leader Shas'ui:
Armor 4+, Pulse Rifle (AP 5, L, +4, +3, +2), Photon Grenades (AP -, M, +4, S burst radius, special), Bonding Knife (acts as Flag Bearer without encumbrance)
Q 3+, C 2, Weak (-1 C in close combat), Leader

Fire Warriors x 5:
Armor 4+, Pulse Rifle (AP 5, L, +4, +3, +2), Photon Grenades (AP -, M, +4, S burst radius, special)
Q 4+, C 2, Weak (-1 C in close combat)

Photon Grenades cannot kill their opponents, but if they score a x2 or more combat result the target is knocked down and stunned (2 actions to recover from stunning and 1 action to stand up). No armor save is allowed.

Deployment

Space Marines will deploy on the South side (top of the photograph, here) and defending. The Tau are on the North side and attacking.

This scenario is really a simple meeting engagement, so attacking and defending only refers to which side will get to select their baseline (the Tau did).

The hills are made from ½" particle board. I had the local DIY shop use color matching to match the paint against my cloth (which is not the one used, but rather the one at the underneath, barely showing at the top of this photo). Pretty good, but a little off.

I use my 6mm trees as bushes and my 25mm trees as trees (albeit thin ones). I am playing as each tree and bush is "as is", so they are not to be moved around. Bushes can be moved over – as can trees, it represents brushing past them – but it slows you down by one stick (i.e. a Medium move becomes a Short move). In this game I made sure I spaced everything enough so that fat fingers could move troops around easily enough without moving the pieces too much.

Here is the Tau deployment, with the Shas'ui (team leader) in the rear. My plan is to use him to issue group orders and keep the squad as intact as long as possible.

One change from the Song of Drums and Shakos (SDS) rules – taken from Flying Lead (FL) – is that a group constitutes figures within 1S (short-hand for 1 Short stick in distance) of one another. Only one figure in the squad must be within 1L of the leader to get the group order, but each figure must be within 1L in order to get the +1 Q (short-hand for +1 to their Quality roll) for activation. And that is my plan: keep the leader within 1L of everyone, and within 1S of at least one other squad member for as long as possible.

The Space Marine deployment is relatively simple: everyone within 1S of at least one other, in a diamond formation, at least for the start.

As the Marines are all Q 3+ (meaning they activate on a 3 or more, unless other modifiers come into play) they activate on a 2+ if they are within 1L of the Sergeant. So rather than using group orders, I am going to push the Marines with three dice each turn if they are within 1L and then roll the Sergeant last (with three dice) and try and ensure he stays within 1L of as many Marines as possible.

So this battle will be one of quantity using group orders versus quality using individual orders. (Personally, I always like the latter.)

Turn 1

Movement on both sides, but the Marines come out a little better. They are formed in echelon with the point Marine heading into the underbrush.

Ultimately the question is: who will gain the cover of the hill first? Given that the Tau move first…

Note that the overhead photos will all be shown from the South (Space Marine) side.



Turn 2

The Tau reach the central hill with the Marines in sight, but not enough actions to take shots. The second line of Tau prepare grenades, anticipating the Marines will simply charge into hand-to-hand, where the Tau are the weakest.
Rule: the first contour of a hill does not reduce movement.

Rule: one contour between you and the firer provides you with cover. If your figure is against the contour your opponent does not get cover unless also against the contour.

Rule: two contours between you and the firer means you are completely concealed.
The Marines open fire, knocking down one Tau (armor save on a kill reduces it to a knock down), while the leftmost attempts to flank the position.
Rule: roll armor save for kills (only). Save indicates the result is changed to a knock down (two actions to get up). For a Gruesome Kill the armor save lowers it to a kill, unless you roll a natural '6', in which case it lowers it to a knock down.
Note that the white cotton balls represent a figure firing and generally "points" towards the figure it was firing at. It serves no purpose other than as an indicator for the photo.


Turn 3

The Tau turn is ineffectual, but the grenadiers are on overwatch. (Their overwatch points are indicated with a blue marker in the photo.)
Rule: overwatch costs 1 action to place a marker within LOS. Any target moving within S of the marker can be shot at -1. Similar to Flying Lead's overwatch rule, but costs 1 action instead of 2.
One Marine flanks the hill on the left and cuts loose with a mighty burst, scoring a gruesome kill, which the armor did not save!

The Sergeant turns over on two dice, so everyone else does nothing. (I am not quite sure why I rolled for the leader instead of the troops. It was not according to my plan, but sometimes that is just what happens in the heat of the moment!)


Turn 4

The Tau grenadier moves forward and tosses the Photon grenade at the Marine in the bushes, knocking him down and stunning him. Two Tau score Lethal hits on the downed Marine, but his armor saves him both times. The third Tau rifle knocks down a Marine with his fire. The Team Leader fires at the flanking Marine, but fails to score a hit.

The stunned Marine shakes off his stupor and stands up (3 actions), while the one knocked down also regains his feet. The Sergeant (shown in the photo to the right) charges the Tau grenadier (3 actions), but actually draws in combat!


Meanwhile the flanking Marine continues to advance and lay down fire, killing another Tau rifle! This Marine is becoming a dangerous threat as the Tau do not get the cover bonus against his fire, as they do with the Marines on the opposite side of the hill.

This situation at the end of the turn. The Marines have completely recovered and the Tau have lost two to fire and are likely to lose another in hand-to-hand combat.


Turn 5

The Tau rifle on the hill, seeing he is in trouble on his right flank, turns and shoots an aimed shot at the Marine, scoring a kill, but not good enough as the Marine's armor saves him. The Team Leader also takes an aimed shot at the now downed Marine, also scoring a hit (which is Lethal as the Marine is on the ground) but again the Marine makes an armor save!

The Tau in close combat turns over, so the last rifle gets no action! Probably bad timing on that.

The Marine Sergeant scores a gruesome kill with his powerful blow, and as the power fist has a high AP value the Tau gets no armor save.

The add insult to injury, the Marine behind the bush charges up the hill and cuts down another Tau with close range Bolter fire.

Time for a morale check! Both Tau fail two of three dice, so we draw a curtain to this skirmish.


Here is the final photo of the game, with the last two Tau high-tailing it off of the board. The Tau lost four dead and the Marines none.

Aftermath

That was actually fun. Although I was still working out a few rules in my head, what I like with my skirmish games are giving player choices and watching tactics come out in play. In this case the Marines flanking the Tau in order to remove the benefits of cover was the right tactic and worked well.

I intentionally played the Tau and the Marines with a different style. The Tau very much used group orders while the Marines rolled for each figure individually, relying on their high Quality. The typical turn found the Tau rolling two dice for the leader, using one order to give the group an order, which then rolled three dice for activation. It worked for awhile, but as usually happens, the leader falls behind.

The Marines, on the other hand, required a 2+ for those within the Leader's command range, so they rolled three dice every turn with the Sergeant rolling his three dice last. Only until the flanker got out of command range was there some decision on what order to roll and whether to roll less than three dice.

Armor is tough, but in 40K it is supposed to be. Although I kept cursing the Marine's saves, that what happens every so often so it did not bother me here.

I probably need to refine the rules a little, but it seems pretty clear that using Flying Lead as the basis for the SBC variant works better than SDS. I just need to commit a little more work on the stats. I still believe it is better to convert 40K stats to SBC stats and special rules, but use straight 40K values for the points system, than to use SDS or FL points values. The latter could easily change the dynamic between army lists, thus changing the flavor, something that seems to happen in In the Emperor's Name (ITEN).

I will have to get with Andrea of Ganesha Games and see what is an acceptable way of recording the variant that neither gets him in GW IP hot water, yet allows him to sell more copies of Flying Lead.

It was definitely fun blowing the dust off of my 40K figures and using my new hills. I have definitely got to try this one again soon.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Song of Bolter and Chainsword

I decided to use my 6mm Epic Space Marine figures for another game, only this time using an unpublished variant of the rules Song of Drums and Shakos (SDS). I call the variant Song of Bolter and Chainsword (SBC). If I don't like how this turns out, I will try using Song of Blades and Heroes or Flying Lead to see if I get a better result.

The main elements to be determined for the variant are how armor comes into play and what the weapon values are.

Armor

In SDS, armor – the Cuirass special ability – subtracts one from the combat result if the armored figure loses. Thus if the figures loses by one point, the combat becomes a draw. It can also turn a kill into a beaten result, or a gruesome kill into a kill.

As there are so many levels of armor in 40K, you need more than just this rule. The easiest thing to test would be simply increase amount added if the armored figure loses.

40K ArmorSDS IncreaseNotes
6++1** Only applies against Blast weapons.
5++1None
4++2None
3++3Power Armor may have additional abilities assigned.
2++4Terminator Armor may have additional abilities assigned.

Note that this makes Terminator and Power Armor pretty tough, having to win by 5 and 4, respectively. That means that you cannot kill anyone in this armor, unless ...

Weapons

In SDS, weapons have two factors: range band size (Short, Medium, or Long) and range modifier. The range modifier not only specifies what the bonus (or penalty) is to fire at any given range, but how many multiples of the range band size the weapon is capable of (e.g. 2xS, 3xL, etc.).

Weapons in 40K have an additional factor: armor penetration. Put simply, the weapon is rated at how much armor is negated. In 40K an AP 2 weapon would automatically penetrate 2+ armor saves (or worse). In SBC, the AP rating indicates the armor level (the amount added to the combat result) that is negated.

WeaponRangex1 Modx2 Modx3 ModMax RangeAPNotes
BolterL+2+1+0x32None.
Bolt PistolM+2+0N/Ax22None.
Missile LauncherL+1+1+0x5-See missile type for AP.
Frag Missile-----2See Missile Launcher for range stats.
Krak Missile-----?See Missile Launcher for range stats.
Frag GrenadeS+0-2N/Ax22None.
Bike Shoota'L+4+2N/Ax22Range limited by firing platform instability.
'eavy Blasta'L+2+1+0x43Cannot move and fire, unless using powered armor.
Big Choppa'-----2Two-handed battle axe uses these stats.
Chainsword-----3None.
Power Sword-----4None.
Power Fist-----5Lethal. Power Klaw uses these stats.

Of course, there are many more weapons and I am not going to provide them all here, now. First I want to see if there are any problems with the variant. If it looks promising I will expand beyond the basic weapons I need for my test game of Orks versus Chaos Space Marines.

I am currently playing out my test game and writing it up. Expect that in the next post.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

In the Emperor's Name - Battle Report

Some New Troops

First up are my Epic scale (6mm) Chaos Minotaurs.


For some reason their noggins are glossy and it looks like they have steel helmets on them, but they don't. The banner comes from a fan site that makes banners and badges for the computer game Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War. There are some really great banners there and by shrinking them down and touching them up with a few dots of paint they really make the unit pop.

Next up are the Khorne Chaos Space Marines on Juggernauts.

FrontSide

The color looks a little odd, the orange is almost neon in the picture, but these little buggers were really fun to paint. I decided to paint them "knightly", allowing for different color schemes, and put banners from the above fan site on their back banners. In hindsight I should have painted all banners white, glued the banner decal on, then painted another color for the border trim.

Speaking of which, I printed the banners on clear "window" decals that are inkjet compatible, which I purchased from Staples. The first few I tried to varnish, but the ink bled. The final solution was to take clear school glue and put a generous dot of it on the decal, not swishing the brush applicator at all. This caused the least amount of color bleed or loss and really helps protect the decal and fix it in place. After the glue dries you can apply matte varnish.

A Practice Game of In the Emperor's Name

I decided to put these little guys to work today, trying out the free rules In the Emperor's Name. I used the board that I still have setup from my last Flames of War game, so buildings are a little out of scale (15mm), but don't really look that bad. (I think most buildings are too small, especially for a skirmish game. In this case a 15mm building is the right size, but the doors and windows are too big.)

On the right side of the picture is the North. I was (futilely) trying to play tree models as single trees, meaning they were where they were and they would not move. Fat fingers and magnetic bases were not accounted for, however. I think trees should be played as is, when skirmishing, and woods should not be generic area terrain with wandering trees. Some day ...

My Attempt at a Panoramic Shot
The North has a woods in a deployment area (6" from each baseline) before running into farm fields segmented by hedges and stone fences. Country lanes (okay, freeways in this scale) run across each side's fronts. Plenty of crop fields that would normally completely conceal infantry, but I made a fateful decision that it would only partially conceal them. I also determined that the hedges were rather low and provided concealment across, but did not block line of sight. Bad decisions all ...

Deployment

Chaos

Chaos got to select the side to deploy on and ended up deploying first. They chose the side with the woods so they could attempt to run the Minotaurs up to the East woods, out of line of sight. (I would later find out that was an incorrect assumption.) The Juggernauts would advance up the center, through the mass of light cover, looking for an opportunity to shoot or charge.

Chaos Deployment (looking from the North baseline)
Khorne surely must have been displeased by the idea of his Chaos Space Marines on Juggernauts hiding in the woods ...

Imperial

Having seen the Chaos deployment, the Space Marines divided into two sections, one lead by the Captain and the other by the Sergeant. The Captain took six Marines to charge up the road on the right, directly into the Minotaurs. Once they defeated them they should be able to flank the Juggernauts. The Sergeant led the Marine with the Missile Launcher1 and two other Marines up the center to establish a base of fire and tie up the Juggernauts.

Imperial Deployment (looking from the South baseline)
Turn 1

The Juggernauts advance out of the woods into a field, still out of range from all except the missile launcher. The Minotaurs advance around the end of the hedges, heading towards the East woods, as planned. Meanwhile the Captain heads up the road, also heading for the East woods. The Sergeant moves slowly up the center, trudging through all of the cover.

Three things immediately come up, regarding the rules. One is whether you incur a movement penalty for moving through cover or through each separate piece of cover. I chose the latter, but reflecting back it would seem that I would be equally slowed if I ran through one long piece of cover as I would if it we four separate pieces.

Second, ITEN allows you to toss grenades at a point on the ground, rather than targeting a specific figure. I can deal with that with grenades, I suppose, but with a frag missile I am not so sure. I decide to play it straight, so my frag missile can cover all four Juggernauts.

Lastly, the rule for running in the Shooting Phase states that you can only do so if you are out of line of sight of all enemy. That pretty much means that unless you have a really dense terrain board, that is not going to happen. I allowed line of sight over multiple hedges and crops because the Juggernauts and Minotaurs are tall. But that turns out to be detrimental as it makes everyone in sight, so no one can run, despite being out of range.
The Sergeant signals the missile launcher to drop a frag missile onto the Juggernauts and it is a perfect hit, but the Juggernauts lumber through the explosion without a scratch2.

Turn 2

The Captain moves farther along the road towards the East woods while the Sergeant continues to advance up the center. The Minotaurs pull off a tricky move by ensuring they end out of line of sight of the Space Marines so that they can run in the Shooting Phase (but it really does them little good), while the Juggernauts decide to sit behind the stone wall and shoot at the advancing Marines.

Khorne must have been displeased with that un-Khorne-like behavior as when the Marines opened up with their bolters, three Juggernauts went down! (That was needing a '6' to hit, followed by missing a Grit roll of 3+ and only seven shots were needed to get that result three times!)

Return fire by the Khorne Battle Captain takes out a single Marine in the Captain's retinue.
At this point I start reading a little deeper in the rules and find that figures (friendly or enemy) do block line of sight (unlike the new version of 40K), target selection is declared before any rolling occurs, and there is no hit allocation; the firer selects the target and may thus have overkill on a target. There also appear to be no morale rules beyond Terror.

Put another way, this is not really simplified 40K rules, but simplified skirmish in the 40K universe. The rules definitely produce different results.

Other examples include: figures in Powered Armor (e.g. Space Marines) can move and fire heavy, crewed weapons. Bolters and Bolt Pistols count as heavy, crewed weapons (!), thus an Ork firing a Bolter on his own cannot move and fire. (It appears that the designations for Bolter and Bolt Pistol are incorrect, or else the rule is supposed to apply to Very Heavy weapons.) What can move and fire is not the same as in the 40K rules, so expect a different game and set of tactics. That is not bad, but if you find yourself playing 40K a lot, you will probably start blending the rules.
Turn 3

Although the Space Marines and the Minotaurs were very close (with the Minotaurs gaining the East woods), they were not yet in melee. Space Marine fire kills one of the Minotaurs in the woods, but that is all that happens. Next turn should see a melee.
Another problem with the rules is the contradiction about how running works. At one point it states that a run is 3" minus terrain penalties, and thus you cannot run in hard cover. In another place it indicates that a run is 1D6", and thus if you rolled well you could run in hard cover. I chose to use the 3" rule.

To be honest, even with skirmish scale, I prefer modern and future rules to represent "close combat" as not just being in base-to-base combat. Of course, if you are armed with a two-handed axe or power sword, base-to-base looks better.
Turn 4

The Blood Angel Captain roars out a charge and all of his retinue charges into the woods crunching into the Minotaurs, who bellow out their challenges in return. The Juggernaut leader, not wanting to miss out, heads for the East woods to seek out the enemy Captain in single combat. The Sergeant, however, has his team break cover and head for the fight. This allows the Juggernaut leader to swivel in his saddle and gun the enemy Sergeant down. The other Marines are so stunned their return fire is completely ineffective.

The battle in the woods was gruesome, but the Minotaurs came out on top, losing only two while the Space Marines lost three. The Captain, however, had not been able to reach so his Terror had not yet come into play.

Red glass beads in the photos represent casualties.

Turn 5

The Juggernaut charges into the woods against the Captain, parries his Power Sword with his own, then cleanly removes the Captain's helmet for him (the Captain rolled a '1' for his Grit roll). And so we draw a curtain to close on this grisly scene as one Blood Angel Space Marine remains in the woods facing four Minotaurs and a Juggernaut ...


A minor victory for Chaos, as they lost only their secondary leader while the Space Marines lost both their primary and secondary leaders.

Review

The game definitely goes fast and is heavily luck-based as wounds, toughness, and armor saves are all rolled into a single D6 roll. But that is okay as this factor is what makes ITEN fast and furious and 40K itself is heavily luck-based.

I think a second game, changing how I interpreted the line of sight rules, will produce better results.

What I Did Like

Reducing down all of the 40K stats to one or two and then reducing the numerous rolls down to one hit and one save works well, if you are seeking fast and furious. It is very easy to handle several retinues at one time and I could easily see running 40K sized forces, if the weapons were all defined.

I am not sure about the lack of morale, in this or any other game. At this scale it seems like it would be a hindrance, and certainly between Space Marines and Chaos. As it stands, I was not disturbed by a lack of morale rolls.

Line of sight is required from figure to figure, not unit to unit, as with 40K. I think going figure to figure leads to more realistic formations being adopted on the tabletop. Nothing looks more absurd than a phalanx of Space Marines, packed shoulder-to-shoulder, all getting full firepower to the enemy, because it is a more efficient use of space.

Cover basically adds to the Armor rating the figure has – +1 for soft cover (concealment) and +2 for hard cover – making it harder to score a hit and thus not requiring a separate cover save roll.

One note for those used to 40K-like turn sequences: although their is a Melee Phase, it does not include a separate charge move. All movement occurs in the Movement Phase, so if a figure charges into contact it cannot fire in the Shooting Phase (unless it has a pistol), nor can it be shot at by the charged figure (unless it has a pistol). I think that would apply to all 40K weapons classified as "Assault", but ITEN specifically says "pistols".

What I Did Not Like

Nothing really leaps out at me as something I did not like. Rather, there are some things I would probably change, just because I am starting to like my games a certain way.

Another set of rules by Forge of War is FUBAR. The basic concept is fast and furious with a few rolls and simple (one-page) rules. (ITEN is longer mostly because of its retinue generation rules and wargear descriptions. The core rules are only a couple of pages long.) One concept it has, that I like, is that each team (retinue in ITEN) chooses an action, which defines what you can do that turn. So you might choose move, fire, move and fire, assault, etc., each with its own advantages and penalties. Although I like FUBAR's activation/command and control rules, I like ITEN's combat resolution better. I could see merging these two sets of rules.

I did not see a lot of options for the players in terms of tabletop tactics. This was something that actually got me to spring for $100 to try 40K Sixth; all the reviews talked about how tactical it had become with figure placement, damage allocation, etc. I definitely think changing ITEN to a FUBAR-like order system where each turn you cannot do everything would definitely help.

I prefer not requiring figures actually make base-to-base contact in order to melee, mostly for modeling reasons (swords and banners sticking out). This is more of a concern in 28mm than in 6mm as 6mm usually fits comfortably on the base. Nonetheless, I like Joe Morschauser's method of all figures within a certain distance of an enemy figure being allowed to fight. However, as this is a figure-on-figure system, you really need to work out who is fighting whom, so base contact is probably the best way. (Note to all: using magnets as the base, as opposed to adding a magnet to the bottom of the base, makes close combat really close!)

All in all, the things which caused me the most concern were elements I either got wrong (line of sight) or were because of expectations that they worked the same as with the new version of 40K.

Just a Note

Although I used 6mm troops, I used the full distances (for 28mm figures) listed in ITEN. (Yes, grenades had a full 3" blast radius.) I felt this was much more in scale with the figures, save for the range of a thrown grenade (12", or half the distance an assault rifle can fire).

Final Analysis

Definitely a "try this one again" set of rules.


1 There are no rules for a Space Marine's missile launcher, but there are from the Imperial Guard's grenade launcher and the Ork rokkit launcha. I made mine +0 SV and 48" range, with the frag missile having the same effect as a grenade (3" blast template). Essentially it was a longer ranged grenade launcher for an additional point. Note that I did not have krak missiles. Next time ...

2 Like 40K the frag missile ignores the normal chance to hit and uses the infamous scatter die. This is 1/3rd chance to hit, and 2/3rd chance to scatter a random direction D6 inches. Of course a frag missile has little chance of hurting the Juggernaut, needing a '6' to hit their high armor.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Trying the new Warhammer 40K and some painting

Warhammer 40K Sixth Edition

Don and I tried the new Warhammer 40,000 Sixth Edition (40K) and I have to say, if you like the 40K rules, this is probably the best of the set. I played Rogue Trader (First Edition), Second Edition, Third Edition, and Fourth Edition, and bought Fifth Edition but did not play it.

I blew the dust off my figures – still looking around for some others that are packed away somewhere, or else are forever lost in my last move – and set up a small force of Ultramarines and Tau. The (illegal) lists I used were:
  • Ultramarine
    • Tactical Squad: 7 Marines with Bolters, 1 with Bolter and Power Fist, 1 with Flamer, and 1 with Missile Launcher.1
    • Devastator Squad: 1 Marine with Bolter and Power Fist, 2 with Heavy Bolters, and 2 with Missile Launchers.
    • Scout Squad: 1 Marine with Bolt Pistol and Chainsword and 4 with Bolt Pistol and Combat Knife.
  • Tau
    • Fire Warrior Squad: 6 Fire Warriors with Pulse Rifles. The Team Leader was upgraded.
    • Fire Warrior Squad: 6 Fire Warriors with Pulse Rifles. The Team Leader was upgraded.
    • Pathfinder Squad: 3 Pathfinders with Pulse Carbines and Markerlights and 3 with Rail Rifles. The Team Leader was upgraded.
    • Stealth Suit Squad: 3 with Burst Cannon and Stealth Suits. The Team Leader was upgraded.
    • Broadside Team: 1 Broadside with various gear and 1 Shield Drone.
The board was relatively simple, with a hill, two woods, and a swamp. The Tau were at the bottom and the Space Marines at the top.

The Board
The game went fairly simply. The Space Marines went first and the Tactical Squad (1) and Devastators (2) for all practical purposes eliminated the Pathfinders (C), who had infiltrated up during deployment. In the Tau turn the two Fire Warrior squads (A and B) focused fire on the Tactical Squad (1) and Don whiffed his saves and failed his morale roll, sending them reeling back. The Stealth Suits (D) jumped over the woods and using the Markerlight hits from the Pathfinders (C), blasted the Devastators (2) into oblivion (again Don failed too many saves). The Broadside (E) lazily took a Marine with a Heavy Bolter out, leaving nothing but his boots standing.


Things looked grim when the Scouts (3) assaulted the Stealth Suits (D). I lost one of the three and was actually able to outrun the sweeping advance of the Scouts, but I could not stop them until they swung around the woods and my Fire Warriors (B) cut them all down, along with the fire from the Stealth Suits (D).

All in all it was a fairly short affair of maybe four turns. That is to be expected, considering we were using a 4' by 4' board and very few troops (20 versus 24 figures). Don saving at about half the rate he should have also did not help.

So what did I think about the rules? They are still, first and foremost, Gotcha' Gaming rules2. What makes it different from the last version I played (Fourth) is primarily three items:

  1. Line of sight can be drawn through friendly figures.
  2. Casualties are taken by the closest figure.
  3. Basic infantry movement increased by 50%.
Line of Sight Changes

Because figures can now fire through both friendly and enemy figures, this has the effect of players putting their troops into solid masses, with little to no interval between figures. The only deterrent to doing this are template weapons, such as the Flamer and Frag Missile – both of which the Space Marines possess in their basic infantry.

This massing of figures only convinces me all the more that 28mm figures are way out of scale with the 40K rules, and should be played with 6mm figures using standard distances, if you want to get a better scale representation. This rule makes 40K look more like Flames of War and the fender-to-fender armored parking lots, so I think it is a minus on aesthetics and a plus on playability.

Casualty Removal Changes

Figures are now removed from the closest point. In addition, the closest figure keeps getting hit until it fails, then the next figure starts taking hits, so the closest figure can't "luck out" with a save and then the damage moves on to the next guy. This is not like Flames of War where you allocate hits evenly using some method of priority allocation. Either you save everything or the closest guy is going to take it.

This might get a little slow if you have a unit with a lot of different stats (Toughness, Wounds, and Saves), but that was always true.

This might lead to a bit of 'gameyness', but it will have to be played more to figure that out. For the Tau it means you get to put that Shield Drone out front and it will absorb all of the hits until it goes out. It can also lead to a "realistic" flanking fire where a unit gets on the flank and might find a different figure the closest, rather than the meat shield (or Shield Drone) you intended to take the hits.

Overall, the mechanic is a positive on aesthetics and playability.

Increased Movement

Infantry now have a basic movement of 6" instead of 4", which sounds small, but has a pretty good effect. For example, with Rapid Fire weapons infantry now is in short range for only two turns rather than three and within range four turns total rather than six. Strangely, this effect would seem to make the game less 'shooty', but I have read from others that it is now more 'shooty'. Part of that, I think, is that Rapid Fire weapons now get to move 6" and shoot, so a unit can back up just as easily as move forward, so moving into cover or backing out of range might make for more shooting rather than assault. Again, more playtesting will tell whether this perception is true.

Summary

I think the Gotcha' Gaming aspect is the major problem of the system, at least for me. I really hate games in which the amount of enjoyment I have comes down the initial die roll to see who goes first. One way around that is generally to have a lot of cover, but that doesn't help much in 40K which typically doesn't account for cover very much.

I have a copy of the Bolt Action rules coming, so I may co-opt the activation rules from them to make 40K a little less competitive and a little more fun.

Painting

As Don is now suffering from the Gaming Blues (I think I infected him), the guy I play BattleLore on VASSAL is working on another project, and I haven't quite gotten my solo campaign ideas straightened out so I have turned to painting to while away the hours.

First up is a Warmachine Deliverer of Menoth. This is the first figure painted – although I have had this unit for almost a decade now – which I use as a guide for painting the rest of the unit. I was mainly experimenting with the new Citadel washes and shades for the reds and browns.

Menoth Deliverer - LeftFrontRight
Next up are Games Workshop's Epic (6mm) figures. Although it might not look as stunning as 28mm figures for a skirmish game, aesthetically they fit the ground scale much better. My intent is to use these 6mm figures, but with 28mm ranges. The question is: what rules will I use?

Blood Angel Tactical Squad and Captain
Above is a Blood Angels Tactical Squad with a Sergeant with Power Fist, a Marine with a Missile Launcher, and eight Marines with Bolters. Also included is a Captain with back banner, Power Sword and Bolter.


This photo turned out a little too red, but are two Blood Angel bikes and a "robot". (No, it is not a Dreadnaught. It is considerably smaller than the Dreadnaught figure.) Yes, I painted the little eagle emblem and the robot's fingers.

Now to figure out the stats for the robot.

FrontRear

Here are some really rare (if eBay is any indicator) Khorne Chaos Space Marines.3 I have some Juggernaughts of Khorne, Slanesh Riders, Beastmen, Minotaurs, and some Chaos wizard type all awaiting to be painted. The Juggernaughts have already been started, and they are looking good.

Front – Showing Heraldic DevicesSide

Here are some Eldar jetbikes that I started years ago, which I finally finished off. I have a horde of Saim-Hann jetbikes and Vypers, but they are based for Epic Armageddon, not individually like these.

The idea behind these, as they are not red, is that they are the more feudal Saim-Hann household troops, and thus less less regimented and more "wild". Think of them as Bachelor Knights or Knights Errant.

The bases are half of a round flexible magnet. They stick to metal lock boxes really well and provide a nice base to grab. (Hopefully I will remember to do so.) And you can fit a lot of troops into a little box!

What I am Going to do with Them

I have been looking at the rules In the Emperor's Name (ITEN), which are a simplified version of 40K. They still seem to have a lot of flavor, but play out easier and quicker. Shooting is basically rolling a die, adding the Shooting Value (which includes the shooter's weapon modifier) to equal or beat the target's armor value to get a hit. If they succeed, the target rolls a Grit check and if they fail, the figure is removed. The Grit characteristic takes into account Toughness and Wounds, and any special life saving rules, so the rolls are streamlined.

I need to read the rules again, and give it a playtest, but I suspect it also suffers from a Gotcha' Gaming turn sequence.

What Else?

I am still looking at rules for AWI that uses a modified Song of engine. The idea is that each unit of 12 figures (four 3-man bases) represents a company. It will uses elements of Song of Drums and Shakos, Sixty-One Sixty-Five, and Drums and Shakos Large Battles. Hopefully something will show up soon.

Yes, I am still mulling over the Company-level WW II rules. I have the dice made and painted and need to make temporary stickers until I settle on the icons and odds.


1 These were actually painted up as Space Wolves and were the old "beakie" plastic Marines that came out during the Rogue Trader days. Very Old School.
2 Now better known as "Alpha Strike" rules, this is where one side gets to move into range, fire weapons and inflict casualties on the enemy, who must also check morale, all before the enemy gets to react in any significant way. The more deadly the Alpha Strike, the more likely you will be able to chortle to your opponent "Gotcha'!"
3 I now regret starting the Blood Angels as the Space Marine chapter, as that makes both sides a base red. Nothing to say I cannot have squads from multiple chapters though.

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").