Sunday, August 28, 2016

Ludus Gladiatorius - Back to the Arena!

A couple of Thursdays ago I brought out Ludus Gladiatorius (Eng. trans. "Gladiatorial School") for another evening simulating hand to hand combat in front of the Roman crowds. Dallas, on a recent rip to Imperial Hobbies in Vancouver, had kindly picked up for me a felt arena map from Hotz Mats, which we used to good effect.

I have both of the sets that were originally available from EM-4.  This is a quick-play gladiator combat game with pre-painted metal 28mm gladiators and special combat dice. Lots of cool play aids are available for download on the Yahoo Group.

They key feature of the game is that each character has a certain number of special actions that. once used, are no longer available. So, the tactics are based upon movement, and using your special actions wisely. Each gladiator has a rated movement, in hexes, but may get an extra hex of movement, determined randomly;y. So, you never quite know if  someone else can reach you or not!

The players chose their gladiators by die roll:

  • Bill = Vescen (hits pretty hard, and good at Feinting)
  • Dallas = Thrax (a real tank; hits hard and has lots of hit points, but slow)
  • Dave (me) = Leonius (good at Feinting, and with a decent amount of hit points)
  • Frederick = Marcus Attilus (very fast, and decent attack value)
  • Keegan = Caladus (slow, but good at Defense, and lots of hit points)

We had a battle royale with everyone starting just outside movement range of one another. Bill's Vescen was playing it cagey, so I ran Leonius across the arena at him.

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Our gladiators tarted dueling, as Calladus watched.

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In retrospect, that was not the greatest of ideas, since Leonius was the first to fall. However, the crowd must have liked what they saw, because he was spared! (There is a special purple die, with both "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" faces.)

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[Note: Historically, a gladiator who acknowledged defeat could request the munerarius ("editor", or giver of the games) to stop the fight and send him alive (missus) from the arena. The editor took the crowd's response into consideration in deciding whether to let the loser live or order the victor to kill him.]

The fight devolved into a couple of paired combats:  Vescen vs. Marcus Attilius, and Caladus vs. the mighty Thrax.

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Calladus was the next to fall, but also was granted missus.

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By this point, Marcus Attilus had only one hit point left, so he was trying basically to stay alive, moving back out of reach when he could. However, seeing Thrax standing alone, he and Vescens ganged up on the heavily equipped gladiator. below, Dallas swings for the bleachers...

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Below, Frederick looks on in relief. Both Marcus and Vescens had only a couple of hit points left between them.

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Ludus Gladiatorius is a fast-playing, beer & pretzels kind of game, well suited to our Thursday night style of play. For more detailed combat rules, there are other games like Avalon Hill's Gladiator, which better simulate the cut and thrust of personal combat, and attacking or defending different parts of the body.

I look forward to trying out the mat with Brian's model of The Collosseum.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tau Plains of War ITC Tournament Army Completed!

It's been a lot of work, but I have finally finished off my Warhammer 40k Tau army for this coming weekends Plains of War ITC event here in Winnipeg. For anyone not familiar with the ITC tournament scene, it is a hugely competitive tournament series that features obscene armies meant for one thing, flaying your opponent.  It is not for the faint of heart. You are allowed allies, detachments, formations, and more!  While ITC tries to limit the power level a bit, by fixing (or adjusting) the insanely broken rules that GW has been publishing for the last 10 years, the series is all about the win.

Honestly, not really my cup of tea any more, BUT the organizer of the local event is a great guy and a friend so I have to go, right?  It also doesn't hurt that because the event will be competitive it gave me a chance to paint a whole bunch of big Tau suits, which I normally wouldn't paint as they are too good to field in numbers in a friendly game (unless you don't want friends for long).  So, without further delay, here are some of the brand new units from what I call my Pacific Rim Tau List, since its a lot of giant robots.

Lets start with the big boys, three Riptides, in a Riptide wing formation.  You get to take 3 of them, at the same price as normal, but they all get better, for FREE!  Reroll overheating, hit enemies easier if another Riptide has already fired at them, shot everything twice in a turn (once per game), and don't take up any slots in your force organization chart.  Yes, all that for free!

Paint wise, I had Tau units before, done in a winter camo scheme, and wanted to use some of them as well, but they were painted years ago and were not great.  So, I updated the scheme a bit by painting all the new ones (and going back over the old small suits and infantry) with chipping and edge highlighting.  Both done to a very high stark contrast in an attempt to look very anime'ish.  There are gradiants in the base coat (done by airbrush) but what I really wanted to pop was all the rough areas, which I think I made work.

While I like the overall look, and they pop (in my eyes at least) at table top level, they do look rough close up.  There is no subtly here, they will not win any painting awards, but they are not meant to, they are fast rough and dirty, so no offense taken if you don't like the style, several people I know don't like it already!

Next up is another formation for the army, the Advanced Stealth Cadre.

Once again, units at the same price as normal, but better!  The Ghostkeel (the big suit in the middle) can fire at +1 ballistic every turn, ignore cover, and target the rear Armour of any vehicle it shoots at, plus either (or both) of the units of small stealth suits get that bonus as well if they are within 6" of the Ghostkeel. For FREE....  are you starting to see my issue with recent GW rules?

Oh, did I mention that with the drones that come with the Ghostkeel give it a 2+ cover save in the open due to doubling its stealth and shrouded saves?

Last of the new units painted for the tournament is my commander and her unit, although to be fair half of the unit is from 10 years ago just being retouched up with chips, edge highlighting, and new bases.
The unit is made up of Commander Shadowsun leading a unit of Crisis suits as part of a Farsight enclave, which makes them count as a troop choice instead of an elite choice.  By having Shadowsun lead the unit, she grants them stealth and shrouded (so a 4+ cover save in the open!) as well as a 3d6" jump after firing every turn (instead of the normal 2d6" jump).

Shadowsun herself comes with 2 shield drones that give 4+ inv saves and a drone that lets a single unit within 12" reroll all 1's that turn.  On top of that she has 2 melta guns that she can fire at different targets!

The unit is made up of 8 Crisis Suits, 3 with plasma guns and missile launchers, 2 with dual cyclic ion blasters (so 8 str7 shots each), 2 with dual melta guns, and a unit leader than lets the whole unit ignore cover, reroll misses, and chose to either reroll to wound or reroll armour penetration rolls.  Oh, and remember, they count as troops!

So there you have it, all the new units I painted up over the last few weeks for the army.  The army is 1850 points and really that makes up most of it!  The only other units in the army are a small 8 man unit of Firewarriors, a unit of Kroot (that Sean McWatt painted for me YEARS ago and that I just touched up a bit), and a few Broadside Missile suits.

As nasty as all the above looks, I expect to not break a 50/50 record....  Mainly due to my inability to focus on and remember 40k rules as they just piss me off, and due to many of the armies that I have seen that are going, making this one look about as tough as a Powder Puff Girl.  Sigh....

At least I had a lot of fun painting them!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Necromunda - Hired Gun

Finally finished that Necromunda hired gun, a prize for our gaming group's league. Black and white zenithal highlighting. Vallejo Acrylics, then various oils for the flesh tones. GW washes for the clothing. Vallejo NMM set for metal parts (punching up with oils, including some pure titanium white catch-points). Dragon Forge concrete rubble 25mm resin base.

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The face has a lot of character. Not bad for a 20-year old figure!

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I already created the character sheet. He will be an actual hired gun, with the Gunslinger skill (fire both bolt pistols without penalty!), usable in the Necromunda league.


Edited to add: Here are some WIP shots of this and another figure, to show the multi-step flesh painting.

Below, after zenithal highlighting, with Vallejo acrylics for the face and hands painted on.

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Below, the oils are laid in. Not a LOT of change, but note that some of the shadows are deeper, some highlights more defined, some transitions are softer, and the pupils and whites of the eyes are painted.

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Below, Capt. Nee Sun, a 28mm character figure from Hasslefree, with Vallejo acrylics for the face. Note the photo of Natalie Dormer with her head shaved as Cressida from the Hunger Games, used as a photo reference.

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Below, oils laid in. Note that I cannot seem to paint eyes with acrylics. Contrast is a little less, since this is a female figure and I wanted to soften some of her features.

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The stubble effect on her shaved head was done with very thin dots of Winsor & Newton indigo oil paint mixed with Liquin, kinda patted and pushed around the flesh of her head with a clean brush.

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Check Your 6! meets Dawn of Aces

Awhile ago I hosted crews from both The Fawcett Avenue Conscripts and Dawn of Aces. I first met Sam and Wilton when they demo'd Sam's WWI air combat game, Dawn of Aces, at Jim-Con. IIRC, aircraft activation is randomized, and planes move according to templates. Damage degraded their maneuverability and speed. Also, there is limited fuel and ammunition. Sam also made some very neat paper model biplanes for the game.


We played a variation of the "Initial Encounter" scenario from the Battle of Britain book. We added some Me-110s (German twin-engined heavy fighters) to have some dogfighting.

Within their first couple of turns, Sam and Wilton got the hang of the fundamental dicta of CY6!: it's best to have both altitude and energy. One can trade altitude for energy, but maneuvering or climbing eats up energy tout de suite!

I got to try out my new Cigar Box ocean battle mat, with 3" hexes. Below, Sam maneuvers one of his Spitfires as Wilton looks on.

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Bill and Frederick  ran some Spitfires, and most of us quaffed beers.

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Spitfires cause some air-frame damage to a bomber!

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Splash one bomber! Another Ju-88 and a Spitfire have also taken damage.

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A sharp fight erupted as the fighters mixed it up. Several fighters ran out of ammo. Below, a Spitfire falls to the cannons of a Me-110 Destroyer.

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Below, Frederick, Bill and Wilbert look on as some of the the bombers manage to reach the Royal Navy at anchor.

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Below, the butcher's bill. Losing a whole flight of bombers cost the Germans the game.

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Thanks again to Sam and Wilton for participating in our Thursday night shenanigans.

Sam expressed an interest in Sedition Wars. I will have to run a scenario...

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Mobilization Continues - Sons of Horus Seeker Squad

Seeker Squad for the XVI Legion

The XVI Legion continues its ominous troop build-up, with a new, 10-man "Seeker Squad" joining the ranks of Hope and Change. These models are plastic figures from a "Betrayal at Calth" box set, bodged with bolters scavenged from Space Marine "Sternguard" troops and shoulder pauldrons from Forge World.

Sergeant on the right, with a handy power fist to follow up in the event any more, direct, "hope" needs to be adminstered...
The so-called "Seeker Squads" are supposedly sent to the battlefield by Legion commanders to take out specified enemy personalities or units. Thematically, it is strange to have a large group of heavily armoured genetically modified fellows in rather visible battle armour tasked with something like an assassination, but in a strange way it seems to suit the character of the 30k "period". There is a single personality out there that irritates a Legion commander? Well, send ten sharp-shooting guys to finish them/it off.  No need to sneak around...we're coming for you...

I love these Sternguard bolters
Seems to fit well with the character of the Sons of Horus (and the Alpha Legion too). To accomplish their more specified tasks the Seeker Squads receive some special issue ammunition to assist with their mission.  The ammo offers bonuses depending on what shells are used, and the controlling player will have a small menu of different bolter shells to choose from. The Sons of Horus and Alpha Legion can also make use of "Banestrike" ammunition, specifically designed to take out other Astrates.

So fancy ammo means fancy bolters for these fellows.

View showing the back packs, vents etc.
That is where the bolters from the Sterngaurd figures seemed to me to fit very well with these figures. I've seem a number of other folks use these plastic weapons in different 30k circumstances, and it is a good idea I have copied shamelessly.  The bolter with the drum-shaped magazine is a particular favourite so I went with that for the nine regular troops. Overall I like the effect of the large magazines, the optics and large straps. They look arrogant, elite and well-equipped.  In other words, it's "Horus for Hope" brand-compliant.

Smaller Eye of Horus on one pauldron...

And a larger, embossed one on the other...the Sergeant feels like the boss is always watching, no doubt...

The sergeant's bolter has the more regular-sized box magazine, but I also gave him a power fist in the event the target of the Seeker Squad in a given mission needs a good punch in the face on top of whatever else has been dished out.

Seeking hope and change...loyalist fools beware!

This posting will bring a brief respite to the parade of reinforcements for the Sons of Horus for now.  I'm hoping, however, to head back to the lake later this week, and I hope the painting gods will support another run of painting, drinking and sunset-enjoying. There is, after all, always something new to add, or some unit to "round out", for a 30k nut like me...

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Still More Reinforcements - Sons of Horus Assault Troops

Horus for hope? Jump this way, fellas...

The XVI Legion parade continues! I have added tactical marines, breacher marines and tactical support marines to the ranks of my XVI Legion forces.  Here are five more assault marines to extend the run of reinforcements!  The models are from Forge World, assault marines in Mark IV power armour, with jump packs, bolt pistols and chainswords, the all-purpose tool of the grim and dark far future.

Embossed shoulder pauldrons...once you do one unit with them, I find they are addictive...
Lots of extra rivets on a few of these fellows...

The "Cthonian Glyph" was handy for the blank shoulder pauldrons

30k Legion assault squads are 10 marines strong, but can be increased to be as large as 20 marines! I didn't have ten extra models around - just these five, but I thought that 15 is better than 10, so these fellows received Sons of Horus shoulder pauldrons and joined the forces of hope and change.  The extra-large squad will come in handy for those wearing battles against the clueless followers of the so-called "Emperor".

"Team photo" of the newly reinforced 15-man squad, looking forward to causing trouble on a gaming table in Winnipeg. The sergeant with the goofy two-handed "heavy" chainsword is still one of my 30k favourites...what a silly, and therefore perfect, weapon to deal with Horus-change denial
Like the other reinforcements seen recently, these were supposed to have been painted during Curt's winter Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.  Instead they became part of my summer painting retreat at the lake.  By the time I got to these fellows I was well into following my new approach to painting Sons of Horus marines, so these figures were completed in a relatively short time. 

The Warmaster has some big plans for the fall, so the reinforcements are not done yet...more to follow soon...

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Even More Reinforcements - Sons of Horus Support Squad

We are here to support hope - will support hope too? Tactical support marines for the XVI Legion...

When it comes to 30k Legion Marines, ten is better than five, right? Well, the parade of reinforcements for the XVI Legion continues with five tactical support marines armed with plasma guns.  These will join an earlier batch of five models to make a 10-man squad. Ten plasma guns? Sounds like 30k fun! Even with the absurd "gets hot" rules...

As with the other recent posts of reinforcements, these were painted during my recent vacation. The painting was quick and easy, following this handy tutorial from GW. The relatively simple paint scheme and the lovely weather at the lake came together nicely, and while the breachers were a slog under the paint brush, these fellows were a real breeze and seemed to finish in no time at all. The paint jobs are not an exact match for the first group, but it is close enough - and at the end of the day they are green, with spooky eyes of Horus on their pauldrons.  All together for "hope" now...

I love the combs on the officers - this was a spare bit from the "Betrayal at Calth" box set

The models are all from Forge World, although the Sergeant's head is a handy spare from the "Betrayal At Calth" plastic set. There are also decals from the newer Sons of Horus sheet that GW has issued, decals which, thankfully, have far fewer issues of silvering than the first sheet they released.
All together now!

Ten is better than five...

These tactical support squads are great fun on the table top, laying waste to large segments of loyalist fools every turn they open fire.  And of course with plasma guns, a number of them will go down as casualties too...the plasma gun lacks the arcane look and feel of the volkite weapons, but you can't argue with the results, and is a very classic 40k weapon itself.

The complete squad, mixing the new and older paint jobs...not a perfect match, but ready for action on the table

The reinforcements will continue, as the XVI Legion prepares to make a big push for hope and change on the gaming tables this fall.  Stay tuned for more...