Friday, November 27, 2009

Heavy Gear - My CNCS Forces, Part 2

The second unit I have completed for my CNCS forces is a Fire Support (FS) Squad. I've built it to match the armaments displayed on the box that it came in, so it has two Grizlzlies, two Hunters and a Jaguar squad leader.

Like my previous post, I've tagged the picture above so that I can say a few words on each of the Gears in my FS squad.
  1. Grizzly: This model is the main modern fire support Gear of the Northern forces. It comes with a plethora of weapons to deal with any foe at any range. It's Heavy Guided Mortar (HGM) and Medium Rocket Packs (MRP) are both excellent Indirect Fire (IF) weapons, but each have different roles to play. HGM have a superior range, are Guided weapons (which mean they can benefit from the increased accuracy of FO units using a Target Designator), and an Area Effect (AE) 2, meaning all targets within 2" of the mortar target must Defend against the attack. The HGM is great for softening up targets whil your allied units close in. MRPs on Grizzlies have the ability to be linked, which in game terms means you have roll one Attack attempt and the target has to Defend against it twice. Couple this with the MRP having a Rate of Fire (ROF) 3, it can be used to either increase the damage multiplier or walk the fire over multiple targets, creating a greater area effect saturation than the HGM.

  2. Hunter: Hunters are Hunters, 'nuff said! However, the Hunter on the left has been equipped with a Medium Bazooka (MBZK). MBZKs are the anti-armour staple of Northern Gears. MBZKs have great range and their damage multiplier is high enough that Spitting Cobras and King Cobras should be very worried when taking a hit from one of these!

  3. Jaguar: The Jaguar is your elite trooper Gear, and this is the first I've included in my forces so far. Compared to a Hunter, they have faster movement, a greater defence modifier in both movement modes, and better Comms and Sensors compared to the Headhunter. All of this adds up to a sweet machine that will improve an army commanders survivability considerably!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Heavy Gear - An Intro and my CNCS Forces

As a proud Canadian, Dream Pod 9 has always been a favourite of mine. For those that don't know, Dream Pod 9 is a French-Canadian gaming company out of Montreal, that has over the years created a variety of games and setting, their flagship product being the mecha combat-based game Heavy Gear. Even when I had fallen out of gaming for years, I still had kept my 2nd edition books tucked away.

Heavy Gear is my favourite game because it combines my love of mecha (the first game I ever played that involved miniatures was Battletech) with a ruleset that is simple, balanced and versatile. The game is also much more customizable than Battletech as well. In Battletech, you've got a specific 'mech and may a few alternate loadouts. In Heavy Gear on the other, even the basic trooper gears can take a variety of weapons to make them effecient against all manner of foes. The game is based on the planet Terra Nova, and is set about 4,000 years in the future. Humans have settled the semi-arid planet and wage war in vehicles called "Gears," 15-foot tall mecha that have been heavily influenced by the anime Armoured Trooper Votoms. You have a variety of leagues that have allied themselves into polar alliances, the equatorial-based city states that have a "wild west" feel, and the re-invading Earth forces, looking to take back the planet back by force that they had left to fend for themselves hundreds of years ago.

Of all the forces available to me, I have thrown my lot in with the North, or as it is more formally known, the Confederated Northern City States (CNCS). From a background perspective, those of the north are conservative people, espcially when contrasted against the hedonistic South. Game-wise, the wage a specialized form of warefare; it's units are designed for a specific task, which they perform well, but are not as versatile as the South. Here are some of the units I have assembled for my northern force so far.

The first unit I have is a General Purpose (GP) Squad. For all Northern Forces, they are a Core unit and one of the basic building blocks for an army. Thanks to the wonder of online photo editing, I've tagged the picture above so that I can say a few words on each of the gears in my squad.
  1. Hunter with Medium Autocannon (MAC): Not much to say about this, except that the MAC upgrade gives it stronger anti-gear firepower in the form of both a stronger damage multiplier and a greater Rate of Fire (ROF)
  2. Stripped-Down Hunter: Many say this Gear as undercosted, due to it's greater defensive modifiers at the expense of losing a sturdy box and light rocket pack (LRP), and I would agree, if you fielded a whole army of them. They make a great skirmisher, and the better defence allows it the chance to get closer to the enemy to benefit from shorter range attack modifiers.
  3. Headhunter: The vanilla combat group leader (CGL). In HG, your CGLs should spend their actions coordinating attacks, which give bonus attack modifiers to the unit, as opposed to shooting with the rest of them. The sensors and communication upgrades to this Gear help in that respect.
  4. Hunter with Snub Cannon (SC) and Heavy Panzerfausts (HPZF): The SC is one of the BFGs of the game in Heavy Gear, meant to be used in an anti-tank role. However, it's accuracy leaves something to be desired, and it's limited ammo means you might never hit anything before running out. I've attempted to compensate for this by also adding the HPZFs, which have a bit longer range to them. This Gear should basically be gunning it at Top Speed at the enemy, and scrambling from cover to cover if possible to take out its target.
I've got another unit just about finished as well, but I'll save that for another post!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Warhammer 40,000 - My Wife's Experience and Nerdiness

Sometimes you don't really understand the context of life until you get an outside opinion on things. Take miniature wargaming for example. To those who participate in it, it's just a fun passtime, but to those on the outside, it is the crux of nerdliness.

The reason I mention this is that my wife shared with me this experience of trying to buy me a GW product one Christmas season a few years ago. We were living in Ottawa at the time and had just finished up our gift-shopping at Place D'Orleans (it being a much less busier mall than Rideau, St. Laurent and Bayshore) and she wanted to get me a surprise, so she scooted into the LGS. You know your significant other really does love you when she is willing to head into one of these places with no real understanding of what tabletop gaming is or what she is looking for. Wandering around, looking at the various boxes, she finally thought to ask a couple of young boys that were in the store also looking at GW product for help.

"Excuse me," she asked. "My boyfriend really likes these things, but I'm not really sure what I should get. Can you guys help me find him something?"

One boy pointed at a box, "Well, does he like these guys, they're like space-elves, they're pretty cool."

"Or these ones," the other one added, "they're pretty cool too!"

By this time, the store attendant had come over to her. "Don't worry," he said, "just pick what ever you think looks good, and if he already has them, he can exchange them."

Space elves!?!? That pretty much spelled "nerd" right there!

Now I have no morale to this story, I just like to tell it, and my wife and I still laugh about "space elves." It's just fun to know how detached from reality we really are sometimes. Out of all that though, I did get around to painting up the minis she got for me that one Christmas.

A unit of Tyranid Warriors, armed with Deathspitters and a Venom Cannon. I've heard that they're rewriting the codex soon so I might have to spend a bit more time on these horrors from the void!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Confrontation: Age of Ragnarok - My Review

Confrontation: Age of Ragnarok (CaoR) is a game I've had a recent interest in. For those that don't know, CaoR is one of two flagship games produced by Rackham Entertainment, a French gaming company. Most gamers either love or hate Rackham; the reason being it's change of direction by doing away with it's metal range and going with prepainted miniatures. Those who hate Rackham do so because of this change, and those that love them are loyal to the core regardless of the change.

I tip my hat to Rackham for heading in such a bold direction. Miniature gaming is more a lifestyle choice and less of a hobby in my eyes, where one dedicates hours to painting their models before a die is ever rolled in anger (my wife tells me I should be married to my minis I spend so much time on them). As I've gotten older, I know that real life trumps the hobby, and less time can be devoted to it. Miniature gaming is also affected by other industries, such as video games, where a just a disk needs to poppled in a hard drive and, voila, instant gratification.

Rackham, with its concentration on the gaming aspect of the hobby, as opposed to the hobby aspect, has hit the nail on the head. They've created a product that you can take home and play right out of the box. It's prepainted miniatures are the best you will find, it's studio paintjobs are excellent and with a bit of effort, can be touched up and repainted to be the same quality you would be able to achieve on GW product.

Regardless of that change, what attracted me to CaoR was the artwork, the original metal model range (which in my opinion was one of the best sculpted miniature ranges and can still be found at a great discount and used in the game) and the fact that it was a game not produced by the English or Americans, which gives it a bit of an exotic touch. The ruleset is very solid as well, being simple enough to pick up without being over-complicated. I've picked up a few of the old metal models, which I have started to paint and have posted pictures of below.

Above, I've painted a Wolfen Repentant. The background for these Wolfen is that they are failed challengers for the pack leadership, cast out for a time and only let back in under their current guise. I don't have the CaoR rules for him, but apparently adding a Repentant to your Fang and Great Fang units will bolster their ability to take damage and keep on fighting.

I've got a few more Temple and Wolfen minis I'd like to paint, and hopefully be able to post up here in due time!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Warhammer 40,000 - My Beginnings and Succumbing to Chaos

The first real "tabletop" miniature game I got into was Warhammer 40,000 (WH40K). For those that don't know, WH40K is one of two games (WH40K being the sci-fi version of the original Warhammer fantasy game) published by Games Workshop, said company being the grandaddy of the modern tabletop gaming hobby.

As a young teenager in the mid-90's, I can remember heading down to the local gaming store (which my wife presently refers to as the "nerd store" and which I now term it as well) to pick up the latest Dragon or Dungeon magazine and watch the regulars for hours as they battled over a felt-draped table decorated with stryofoam hills and model trees. This was in the heyday of 2nd edition, so all sorts of craziness would occur, with multiple templates placed and cards played (and that was just the psychic phase). I had begun to save up allowances, birthday cash and odd job income and picked up the boxed set, which was the beginning of my Blood Angels. After getting a job a year later, 3rd edition had come out, and the Blood Angels grew. Soon enough, my Terminator Chaplain with twin lightning claws and Death Company retinue were bringing death to any one who asked. However, the taint of chaos soon overcame them, and it led them down the path to the worship of the ruinous powers. From this point on I became a chaos marine player.

As I got older however, I was more interested in girls and sports and cast aside miniature wargaming. It would not be for another ten years that I would get back into the hobby, the taint of chaos never leaving...

For those not familiar, Chaos Marines are those space marines that turned their backs on the God-Emperor of Mankind 10,000 years ago an waged a galactic civil war that to this day still burns on. This event, the Horus Heresy, is pretty much the most important event in the background fluss of WH40K. Gamewise, Chaos Marines are very similar to their loyalist bretheren, but have greater cutomization due to the fact that they've learned a thing or two about warfare in the 10,000 years they've been around. The chaos god Tzeentch figures prominently in the army, as I've always been a fan of the Thousand Sons and the back story of the Lord of Change.

This is the first Troop unit for my Chaos Marines: a unit of Thousands Sons. These marines are the autonomous shells of the fallen legion, cursed when Ahriman sent them through the Warp to escape Prospero. Gamewise, they are basic Chaos Marines, but have an invulnerable save, fire off inferno bolts (which have a greater punch then regular bolter rounds), and are led by a Thousand Sons sorcerer.

This is the next unit of Troops for my army: your standard Chaos Marines. I've given them anIcon of Tzeentch to have an invulnerable save similar to the Thousand Sons, and have equipped them with two plasma guns. Being able to take a hit, fire on the move and rapid fire all their weapons, with 4 hits being able to pierce even terminator armour, this makes them great anti-troop specialists.

This is my first Elite unit: a Chaos Dreadnaught. Dreadnaughts are very similar to their loyalist counterpart, having the broken body of a marine entombed deep within its core. However, while the Emperor's marines believe such a fate to be an honour, chaos marines believe to be a curse, and those that suffer this fate have been driven insane. Gamewise, this means they occasionally go crazy and attack the nearest unit, whether friend or foe!

Last we have my HQ unit: a Chaos Sorcerer. Chaos Sorcerers are some of the most powerful psychics in the game, and by adding a Mark of Tzeentch to him, he become even stronger when wielding magic. He can have more than one psychic power, the Disk of Tzeentch makes him a great assault specialist, and he can bolster this assault with his plasma pistol and force weapon.

I have a few more units tucked away that I need to get to, and hopefully I'll have these up in the future!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dungeons and Dragons - My Entry into Gaming

I thought I'd start off this blog with my first foray into the world of gaming and perhaps one of the greatest influences on modern miniature gaming in general, Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). I think I was about 10 years old when I first played D&D, which started with my friend having some made-up rules inspired by his experience playing. Out on the school playground, we had a basic dungeon crawl where ogres were slain and gold was collected, much to the chagrin of our grade 5 teachers, who thought that inspired devil worship (this was the 80's at the time).

Now I'm sure some of you are thinking "D&D, that a roleplaying game!?!?" Yes it is, but in it's original form,
Chainmail, Gary Gygax created a ruleset to play with the fantasy miniatures he had created himself. D&D has come a long way since then, using miniatures to a small (think 2nd edition) and large (3rd and 4th edition) degree. While a lot more than just the use of minis has changed in the evolution of D&D, I think that it's latest format is it's greatest. Gaming has changed a lot over the years, and many new formats have managed to knock D&D off it's throne of gaming supremacy. D&D 4th edition has realized this, and has incorporated certain elements of these gaming formats into the game, make a game that is easy pick up and streamlined.

Currently I run an on-again, off-again campaign in the Forgotten Realms. There are many companies that produce generic fantasy miniatures, but my favourite producer is Reaper Miniatures. I like Reaper for its dynamic poses, and that it's models pay homage to classic fantasy archetypes while giving them a modern spin. Below are some of the minis that I have used to represent the heroes and villains in my game.

Above is 02514 Kang, Half-Orc. I've painted him as a traditional orc in the Forgoteen Realms, giving them grey skin as opposed to the traditional green. I've yet to use this miniature in the game, but I think I'll drop him in as some sort of sub-boss, or a major villain's right hand croney.

This is 03053 Ibycus, Satyr. I used him as an NPC in our first adventure, where the PC's had to win a skill challenge to have him join the party. He was a bit too overpowered at this stage in the campaign for fighting enemies, but hey, that's what you learn on the job of being the DM!

Next we have 03285 Dynis, female elf thief. I haven't used her either, but I figure she'd make a gut advisary or ally for the PC's in a place like Westgate or Waterdeep.

This is 03040 Hobgoblin. I used his as the final encounter villain in our first adventure. I've done a minor conversion on him, replacing his sword with a triple-headed flail from another Reaper weapon pack. The best part was I had done this conversion before picking up Adventurer's Vault, which stats out the triple-headed flail as an exotic weapon!

Lastly, we have 03304 Zarion Bloodnail. I've used him as a mini for a PC miniature, who is the fighter of the group. Our campaign is set in Cormyr, so what better to represent a future Purple Dragon then giving said miniature with the dragon wing's shield purple highlights!