Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 - A hobby year in review.

2009 was a busy/productive year for me and my hobby but also a trying year for me personally. Major life changes punctuated by a lot of hobby firsts makes a review of the year a fitting theme for this update:

  • "Completed" the painting of my first WHFB 2,250 force - my Beer Gut Tribe (Ogre Kingdoms). I still need to go back and touch up and finish the paint of a few models, but this was a big milestone for me (couldn't have done it without the help of my gnoblar painting champion Franki).
  • Participated in my first WHFB tournament, including my first IGT event. In the local tournament scene I finished 11th or 12th, just shy of the top 10. Not bad for a newbie playing Ogre Kingdoms!
  • Played about one game of WHFB a week on average, sometimes two or three. I would still like to play more but finding the time to do so is not always easy.
  • Played in the first round of 'Ard Boyz and placed second. I wasn't able to participate in the second round but I passed my place off to a friend (Mike G) who took Beasts of Chaos and managed a second place finish in round two - a moral victory for me.
  • Collected and built my second WHFB army, the Vampire Counts. Working on the painting now, but I plan on having these done soon so I can begin on my WoC and Beastmen forces next.
  • "Built" a gaming table for my home. I still don't have any good terrain though, just a few pieces of painted foam with flock (something I need to remedy next year).
  • Read a whole bunch of Black Library books, both Fantasy and 40k related. Maybe next year I will find the time to add reviews of them all to the site!
  • Joined many WHFB online communities, spent countless hours answering questions, collecting and sharing information, and discussing tactics and army lists. Probably spent too much time doing this but I did make some internet "friends" along the way so I can't complain too much.
  • Greatly increased the post amount on this blog, and gained many new readers/followers along the way. Thanks for reading, and please don't be shy with the comments!
  • Joined the BoLS blog community and discovered a lot of great (new to me) sites in the process.
  • Began moderating the Ogre Kingdoms section of the BattleReporter forum. Not super busy there but the small community is very friendly and helpful. You should check it out!
  • Pitched, planned, organized, and laid out the first issue of the Bellower - the first (and only) Ogre Kingdom webzine. First issue should be out in the next few weeks! Most exciting.
  • Became a part of the Stronghold Guard - a moderator for the Ogre Stronghold. I can honestly say I wouldn't be half the player or hobbyist I am today without the support I have received from the kick-ass community there. Looking forward to a new year of Ogre greatness!
  • Started brewing my own beer, something I have had to put on hold for the past few months but will take up again once I have moved and settled back in. Lots of beer reviews sitting around too, I should find the time to add them to the blog.
And there you have it, the short list of my accomplishments in this year of hobby. It seems less exciting when I see it listed in bullet points, but I have still come much farther than I thought I would. Here's to another year - new challenges, new armies, new location, new (old) friends, and a new gaming community. It should be interesting.

In other totally unrelated news - take a look at the new tattoo I got the other day (and my incredibly pasty white arm).

It is a raven done in a slightly modern Haida style. The raven is your classic "trickster" god/spirit, and now he sits on my shoulder looking me in the eye. You can never tell what he is going to want me to do ...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Post Gutmass holidaze.

Hope you had a happy Gutmass - mine was pretty mellow. No new minis or toys but I did get a pretty cool magnifying glass and started painting a few things.

Also came across this Minotaur preview from the GW website yesterday:

Awesome! Oh and the above image is © Games Workshop Ltd. All rights reserved. I have used it without permission. Don't sue me!

Hoping to get a few games of WHFB in today if I can find willing opponents. Otherwise its time for more painting and an attempt at putting the finishing touches on the first issue of the Bellower.

Merry Gutmass!

Hope you have a wonderful holiday with the ones you love.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Skavenblight Gazette - Issue #8 here just in time for the holidays.

What's this!? A new issue of Skavenblight Gazette is out you say? It's an xmas miracle!

Skitter away and find it here!

This is the first issue of SBG since the release of the new Skaven army book and as you can imagine there are a couple of pieces dealing with that subject. Other topics include secret police working for the rat-things, a story about everyone's favorite monster the Hellpit Abomination, a how-to for making your own flying rat monsters, and an excellent interview with Black Library author C.L. Werner. The issue is relatively short at 22 pages but all of the content is good and I enjoyed everything that was presented.

Of course my favorite part of the new issue is page 10 which features an ad for the Bellower ... something that I am trying hard to finish in time for the new year! I have a few more layouts to finish, an editorial to write, and then I need to put the whole thing together for release.

Seeing this latest issue of the SBG was a big help in this endeavor. I like the clean layout throughout, and the use of colorful background to highlight some of the articles. It has certainly given me some ideas for future issues of the Bellower.

Hope you and yours have a great holiday. I'll be spending mine working on a late gift to all you Ogre fans and maybe painting a model or two.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Vampire Counts 2,250 list take 4 - Revenge of the Skeledudes.

About two years ago when I started playing WHFB I had a really hard time winning. At best I could manage a draw, but I lost far too often. My first army and games were with the Ogres which are known to have a steep learning curve and hard time winning some match ups. Still ... I grew discouraged. With practice and patience I managed to achieve a winning record with the fatties and life was good.

Flash forward to last weekend's tournament where I brought my "new" Vampire Counts army out for a test run. The results? 1 draw (against Beasts) and 2 losses (against Skaven and a Night Goblin army). While the dice were not with me that day I still felt as if my list was the one letting me down. My magic phase didn't help matters; I only cast 11 spells in three 6 turn games with 10pd each phase. My vamps are some of the worst spell casters.

I learned a few things though:
1. VC core troops are really bad. No, really. They can't do anything.
2. A unit of 3 vamps (one being the Lord) and some Black Knights can wreck most things on the charge.
3. Wraiths are good and the unit of 5 with Banshee is quite powerful in the right situation.

Most of my games came down to me running my two units that could actually kill things into the enemy while the rest of my army was systematically destroyed. My plans to invoke enough Skeletons to keep them alive failed as I often needed to focus my casting on the costly (and fragile) Grave Guard unit. With that in mind I have made some changes to my list. Perhaps you can spot them in the following?
LORDS: (400)
Vampire Lord - Level 3, Red Fury, Beguile, Dread Knight, Blood Drinker, Walach's Bloody Hauberk, Black Periapt (400)

HEROES: (645)
Vampire - Dark Acolyte, Lord of the Dead, Book of Arkhan, Cadaverous Cuirass (195)
Vampire - BSB, Flag of Blood Keep, Dread Knight, Walking Death (250)
Vampire - Dread Knight, Supernatural Terror, Dispel Scroll x 2 (200)

CORE: (575)
Skeleton Warriors x 24 - Musician, Standard, Champion, Warbanner (237)
Skeleton Warriors x 24 - Musician, Standard (204)
Zombies x 20 - Musician (84)
Dire Wolves x 5 - Doom Wolf (50)

SPECIAL: (355)
Black Knights x 12 - Heavy Armor, Shield, Lance, Standard, Champion, Standard of Strigos (355)

RARE: (275)
Cairn Wraiths x 5 - Banshee (275)

Total Points: 2,250 (of 2,250)
Gone are the Grave Guard (right after I spent a week assembling them and making sure my vampire on foot would rank up in their unit), I have used to points to beef up my two Skeleton units and the Black Knights. As more added protection I have ditched the Hellfire Banner in favor of the 4+ ward save banner for the unit as most of the causalities I suffered came from shooting and magic missiles. The Skeleton Warriors where the caster vamp will live have gained a champion and a warbanner. I considered changing up the Vampire thrall to have Lord of the Dead (for early game invokes when he is near the Skeletons) but I like the insurance that 2 dispel scrolls brings.

I am considering changing up my warband list as well. I just don't see 10 Skeletons doing much against the types of forces I am likely to be facing. Comments, suggestions, and theory are welcome and encouraged. I don't really know what the hell I am doing with these undead!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Book Review - "Shamanslayer" by Nathan Long.

A recent release from the Black Library and another book review for the site. Just finished "Curse of the Necrach" so expect another book review soon! Hope you enjoy reading these - I rarely get comments on the reviews.

"Shamanslayer" by Nathan Long

This review may contain spoilers! It can be really difficult to discuss any Gotrek and Felix book without giving away some part of the overall plot. If this is a concern for you I suggest skipping this review entirely!

Also: I have to assume you know something about Gotrek and Felix as a WHFB enthusiast. If not, here is the short version - Gotrek is a Dwarf Slayer hellbent on destroying himself while killing something mighty and finding his doom. Felix is an author who made a vow (drunkenly) to follow Gotrek and write an epic poem about his life and subsequent death.

Shamanslayer is the eleventh book in this series. As you might imagine there is quite a bit of back story going into this novel. Starting here is certainly an option, but you will have no association with events from the past that are brought up over the course of this story. I do not recommend starting the series here!

The book starts with Felix returning to the Empire to find his father. Life quickly takes a turn for the worse as Felix learns his father is dead - murdered at the hands (paws?) of Skaven assassins. Felix vows he will find the one responsible and extract a bloody revenge but his new quest is put on hold by a surprise visit from one Sir Teobalt von Dreschler - templar and librarian of the Order of the Fiery Heart. This is the first example of events from the previous novels being referenced. In this case it relates to a certain sword Felix has had for the past 20 odd years.

To keep things simple (and relatively spoiler free), Sir Teobalt wishes for Felix to undertake a quest to find his missing comrades and retrieve the order's regalia. Sounds easy enough for two heroic adventurers of the Empire right? One small problem... the woods near where the Order were last seen are swarming with Beastmen - a massive herd unlike anything seen before in the old world.

So Gotrek and Felix set off to kill Beastmen, find the source of the massive beast herd, slay it, locate the missing knights and their regalia, and possibly die a glorious death in the process. Along the way they are joined by some old friends (from previous novels) and new enemies.

I won't give away any more of the story but I will warn you of the massive cliffhanger ending this book ends with. While the series has always been continuous, each book has been a self-contained adventure with a clear beginning and end. Not so with this latest novel. Just when you get to the end of the story you find it is just the beginning of another bad situation for the two heroes.

Cliffhanger aside I enjoyed reading this book. Long does a good job of adding new dynamics to the complex relationship between Gotrek and Felix, including a few situations I found to be a bit shocking and sad for me as a fan of the series. While this is certainly no William King version of the heroes, Nathan Long is slowly making the series his own. If Gotrek keeps swilling beer, hacking up his foes, and getting grudgy, I will stick with the series for the long haul (as long as there aren't any more of these damn cliffhangers).

Overall this was an enjoyable read, I just hope future books don't leave our heroes on the last page staring death in the face.

Verdict: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Progress Report - getting ready for my first VC tournament games.

What is this?! Ogre Kingdoms content on the Games Workshop site? Cool ...

Been working on the completion of my VC assembly and painting prep over the past few days. This involved some really tedious rebasing of my models to make room for my sprawling vampires in the ranks. The results are favorable, and I am glad I did it, but I managed to cut myself for the first time doing hobby stuff. Woops. I suppose bleeding all over my Vampire Lord is appropriate in a way.

Here is a unit of Grave Guard with my Vampire on foot. I don't intend on making anymore Grave Guard for quite awhile. They are really difficult to assemble as everything is small and has to be glued very precisely.

Sorry about the yellow light, my hobby room is not the best for taking photographs. It is hard to tell from that angle but there are two 40mm unit fillers in the Grave Guard as I wanted to make my models stretch to fill a unit of 20 and also break up the unit form a bit.

In other news, I purchased a can of the Army Painter color primer and did a quick job on the remaining 30 Skeletons (with spears but not for the actual option, these guys will go in the back ranks as I like the look of them).

The results look really good! I wish I had done this sooner as it would have saved me a lot of time. Oh well. Live and learn.

Taking my VC list to a local tournament tomorrow. It will be my first tournament with this army and I know the competition will be fierce. I hope to win at least one game and gain some insight into this new (for me anyway) army. Wish me luck!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Carpe Noctem - The Invocation issue #3 crawls from the grave.

Webzine ahoy! This week we have the latest issue of the Vampire Counts zine The Invocation which is put together by the crumbling hands of Carpe Noctem members. Now in Landscape format! Hooray!

You can download/view the new issue here (it is around 10mb so it might take a moment).

This issue features the continuation of the magic item overview which was started in issue #2, updates on the Legion of Nagash, and the "Beta" release of the current Bloodline army list. The new army list makes up a majority of the issue but I won't get into my thoughts on the current list right now (and I have a few). The bottom line - if you are a champion of "fan made" characters, units, and rules, there is something here for you. The rest of the issue features classics such as a battle report, list building tips, model pictures, and some conversion and painting "how to" articles.

Overall this issue continues the with the layout and form set out with the first issue. The layout is clean and simple, but at times can be a bit boring. Much of the issue uses the same one or two backgrounds with little in the way of layout change to differentiate one article from the next. A few varied looking headings or illustrations would go a long way to help break up the "sameness" set forth throughout. I enjoyed the content of the issue but I couldn't help but notice a few obvious typos/mistakes which made it past the editing team. Oops!

Perhaps I am a bit biased but my favorite part of this issue (pg 61) was the ad for The Bellower - the first (and only) webzine dedicated to the Ogre Kingdoms! I was planning on announcing the creation of this publication at a later date but the folks from the Invocation team have done it for me! This is the top secret project I have been working on for the past couple months as I am responsible for the layout and Editor duties.

We've got some exciting stuff in store for the first issue, and if things go well we will be releasing a new issue each quarter for the foreseeable future. Soon I will have to put my money where my mouth is when it comes to layout and editing gripes ... perhaps a spot of revenge for the folks I have critiqued here over the past few months. Look for the first issue next month (I hope)!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Vampire Counts 2,250 list - this is what I am working towards.

I have posted a few variations of this list previously but this is what I am working towards for assembly and painting at the moment. Overall I am pretty happy with this list. I have played two games with it so far and won both. Would love to get feedback from the more (or less) experienced VC generals reading this. The overall theme is still Skeletons.


LORDS: (400)
Vampire Lord - Level 3, Red Fury, Beguile, Dread Knight, Blood Drinker, Walach's Bloody Hauberk, Black Periapt (400)

With the exception of the level 2 Vampire the rest of my characters are deployed in the unit of Black Knights. This Lord build is a bit of a hybrid but mostly combat orientated. He has a 1+ armor save, a 5+ ward save, and the Blood Drinker to help keep him alive. Combined with Beguile and Red Fury he can really do a number on most units/models while still supporting the rest of his unit.

HEROES: (605)
Vampire - Dark Acolyte, Lord of the Dead, Book of Arkhan, Cadaverous Cuirass (195)
Vampire - BSB, Royal Standard of Strigos, Dread Knight, Walking Death (210)
Vampire - Dread Knight, Supernatural Terror, Gem of Blood, Dispel Scroll (200)

The level 2 Vampire is deployed with the Grave Guard, typically with units of Skeletons to either flank. He spends most of the game buffing up these units while trying to stay close to the action to make use of the book. The BSB is mostly a support character but he can do plenty of damage on his own, plus he bring +2 CR and Hatred to the unit of Black Knights. Initially I was planning on making my BSB a Wight King but I have not been able to find a model I like enough to use so he has become a Vampire instead.

The third Vampire is mostly there for extra killing power, a bit of Terror for fun (this might get dropped), and the nasty trick that is the Gem of Blood. Great in a challenge when you just need to get that last wound in (especially if your opponent doesn't have a ward or regen save). It can be dangerous though .. on a roll of a 1 it does 2 wounds to the Vampire instead. This item might be dropped for another Dispel Scroll but for now I am going with just one.

CORE: (468)
Skeleton Warriors x 20 - Musician, Standard (172)
Skeleton Warriors x 20 - Musician, Standard (172)
Zombies x 20 - Musician (84)
Dire Wolves x 5 (40)

Skeletons! Initially wanted to field two units of 30 but I couldn't find the points to include the extra models and the Grave Guard. Zombies are my tar pit and redirecting unit, typically deployed near the flank of one Skeleton unit to stop and nasty stuff from getting a flank charge. The small unit of Dire Wolves is mostly a nuisance I use to chase off flyers and other Fast Cav. Also good for throwing at war machines to give them something to worry about for a turn. Would love to run more but I don't have the points!

SPECIAL: (501)
Black Knights x 7 - Heavy Armor, Shield, Lance, Standard, Champion, Banner of Hellfire (210)
Grave Guard x 19 - Heavy Armor, Shield, Musician, Standard, Banner of the Barrows (291)

Black Knights have the always important champ for taking challenges I don't want to throw a Vampire (or Lord) at. They bring the Banner of Hellfire for regen and anything that needs to be hit by magic attack. The Grave Guard are 19 strong and have the banner of +1 to hit. Always nice to hit most things on a 3+ especially when you have Killing Blow!

RARE: (275)
Cairn Wraiths x 5 - Banshee (275)

Wraiths. People don't like them and I know why. The biggest issue I have seen with this unit is it's larger frontage. I often throw these at a flank and they tend to kill themselves out of CC. Without the wounds for CR things can get dicey. You never want to crumble with a unit of 5 models that costs 275 points!

Total Points: 2,249 (of 2,250)

So that is what I am working towards finishing at the moment. As for the status of the models ...
  • 40 Skeletons (60 assembled, 20 painted, 20 in progress, 20 yet to be primed)
  • 20 Zombies (20 assembled and primed)
  • 5 Dire Wolves (10 assembled, 4 painted, 6 in progress)
  • 19 Grave Guard (10 assembled and waiting to be primed, another box to be assembled)
  • 7 Black Knights (16+ assembled, 1 painted, 2 in progress, the rest are primed)
  • 5 Wraiths w/ Banshee (5 assembled, 1 painted, 4 to be primed)
  • Vampire on foot (1 assembled and waiting to be primed - may make a different model still)
  • Vampire Lord (1 assembled and primed - a bit tipsy though and he doesn't rank up well)
  • Vampire BSB (1 assembled and primed - using one of my Blood Knight models)
  • Vampire on Nightmare (1 painted)
As you can see, most of the work to be done is in the painting stage. I am still hoping to have this done by the end of the year but it isn't looking likely. Even if I finish multiple units a week I will probably run out of time. I will have it all assembled and primed though dangit!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Vampire Counts Warband - Is this too much?

One of the FLGS is starting an escalation league next month. I have joined with my Vampire Counts in the hope of getting more models painted before I move (always helps to have some impetus).

The first part of the league is a 500 point Warband (using the Warband rules) and I have created a list I am considering playing. My question to those reading - is this too much? Am I being a bit of a prick by bringing the Wraiths?

Are you ready for the bad touch?
Vampire - Lord of the Dead, Biting Blade, Flayed Hauberk (145)

Vampire lives in the unit of Skeleton Warriors and spams Invocation of Nehek to raise more Skeletons with his 3 power dice and +1 to cast. I gave him the 2+ armor save and -1 AP magic sword just in case he does manage to get into CC. My original build was a bit nastier but I had to squeeze in under the 150pt limit for Warbands.

Skeleton Warriors x 10 - Musician, Standard, Champion, Banner of the Dead Legion (125)
Zombies x 20 (80)

Zombies tarpit and guard my flank. Skeleton's have the double US banner to ensure I get the outnumber from Fear but that is only really useful once I have raised more Skeletons in the unit. I am considering dropping it for a Warbanner, or I could add a Banshee to the Wraith unit.

Cairn Wraith x 3 (150)

"Like bringing a bazooka to a knife fight" is what I called the Wraith unit when someone played them against me at 500pts. I think there will be enough things to deal with them on the table that they won't be as devastating as the might be, but it is still a rather nasty surprise for most players. Without Van Hel's to back them up they become substantially less powerful.

Total Points: 500 (of 500)
Overall I am happy with this list and it is made up almost entirely of models I still have to paint (which is the point). I'm aiming to have this done for the first week of January. Time to break out the brushes and get to work!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Progress Report - New dice bag arrived!

Wow. Where did November go? It is already December 4th and the days show no sign of slowing. I'm still hoping to have my VC army done by the end of the year but there is a considerable amount of work to complete to get to that goal. I spent a little bit of timing painting my Dire Wolves this week and finished the first test model.

Today's cloudy gray day wasn't interested in lending a ray of sunlight for the photo, but you can still make out most of the details on this dead-eyed dog. I have three more mostly done and a method for the rest so I hope to have them done next week. I'm quite happy with the final gross/undead look of the model overall. I painted the dag's fur to match the color of my dog Udo. He isn't nearly as fearsome. Comment and critiques are welcomed and encouraged as always!

In other news, look what came in the mail for me yesterday!

My new awesome (reversible) dice bag! So long dirty Crown Royal bag, hello cool looking skulls. The bag was made by Marsbarn Designs and only cost a few dollars. The quality is top-notch and you can custom order what fabric designs/types are used if you wish. I highly recommend these dice bags and I am considering ordering another one down the road (once I move, get a job, and have my finances sorted out).

It's too late to order a custom one as a Christmas gift but if you act fast you might be able to pick up one of the pre-made types available through the Marsbarn Etsy shop (there might even be a sale going on). Don't be jealous of my swanky new bag, go get one for yourself now!