Wargames, Board Games, Card Games, Computer Games. Take a deep breath...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

So Many Projects...

The curse of any wargamer is taking on more than you can deal with. The armies that never get finished, the game systems that go under-used. Every gamer's bits box tells its story of old projects abandoned for new.

Right now in front of me I have:

1. Paint the Lord of the Rings Easterling force (deadline: December)

2. Finish off my Warhammer Fantasy Sylvanian army for a 5,000 point battle against Ado's Cult of Ulric (deadline: October)

3. Assemble, model, and paint a Khorne army for Warhammer fantasy - no deadline or even start time

4. Finish assembling the Warhammer 40k Imperial City box that Ado, Shags, Eddie and I teamed up and bought about two months back - no deadline

5. Convince Ado, Shags, and Eddie to play Necromunda since I really don't like the current 40k version - deadline for this is sometime after we actually have the city assembled and painted.

That's enough to keep me busy throughout next year, assuming I don't get into any new game systems (like Flames of War), get distracted by new Warhammer army releases (the new Vampire Counts are coming!), or get swallowed entirely by Warhammer Online, which is due sometime in the middle of next year.

So many projects, and only one me.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Army Profile - Lord of the Rings: Easterlings

The models are the most striking feature of the Easterling army. Unique and distinctive, their gold and crimson stands out on the battlefields of Middle Earth.

Easterlings are, like Gondor, the generic men of Middle-Earth. With a Fight value and Courage of 3 they are serviceable but not exemplary. The Easterling army range is in fact very limited. Your choice falls into three types of infantry, one of cavalry, and one character, plus a special Ringwraith.

Easterling infantry are cheap and effective. Protected by their high armour value, they cluster together for protection, with spears able to fight in three ranks behind their swordsmen. Archers provide the flexibility to target and whittle down enemy threats.

Easterling infantry are noted for their good armour, leading to the tendency to use them defensively. However with the right mix of captains and standards, the Easterling foot army can be used as an effective aggressive force, though it has its limits.

Kataphrakts provide some mounted punch. While lacking in lances, the power of these mounted Easterling warriors is still welcome. The Easterling infantry are able to hold up many superior enemies until the Kataphrakts to charge in.

If you want named characters or even troops reaching the lofty heights of Fight 4, you will have to look to the Easterling allies. By themselves the Easterlings offer a uniquely disciplined evil force of men.

Legions of Middle Earth expands the Easterling list. Additions include siege weaponry, and a welcome Easterling King. Dragon Warriors are the other additional entry, from their points cost these may well be Easterling warriors with Fight 4.

Easterlings are a simple force to build up, with a boxed plastic regiment providing the necessary core foot troops, and Kataphrakts and command can be added as needed.

Below is a sample Easterling list. I won't say typical, as it's the 600 point force that I am currently painting up (pics coming). It's designed to simply be a large visual presence on the field.


The Mouth of Sauron, riding an armoured steed

Two Easterling Captains, both on foot with sword and shield

Troops & Banners:

12 Easterling Warriors armed with bows

12 Easterling Warriors armed with sword and shield

8 Easterling Warriors armed with spear and shield

1 Easterling Warrior with a banner

5 Easterling Kataphrakts

1 Easterling Kataphrakt with a banner

I would expand this force but I’m waiting for forthcoming releases. An Easterling King is an obvious addition as soon as one is available. The aforementioned Dragon Warriors are another consideration, but I don't know anything about them. The other idea is to use mounted Black Numenoreans as elite cavalry alongside the Mouth of Sauron and existing Kataphrakts.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Up Pops Khorne

Warhammer seventh edition is looking like a case of "everything old is new again."

Flails are the new combat weapon of choice, just like in 4th and 5th edition.

The new frenzy rules have given new life to miniatures that have been encased in dark, cold cardboard since early 5th edition. My chaos force was shelved with the release of the 5th edition chaos book. It divided chaos neatly into three separate armies (warriors, daemons, beasts) for the first time, meaning what had been a perfectly legal 4th edition chaos army now became three small parts of three separate armies, none battle-ready.

The warrior third of the army went into the box, and has been there ever since.

Chaos Knights of Khorne, along with Savage Orc Boar Boyz, are the main benefactors of the new 'if the rider is frenzied, so is the mount' rule change in 7th. A line of Khorne knights just gained an addition five Strength 4 attacks. For the first time in 8 years, the models are viable enough to take out of their box. Welcome back, guys!

This will be my first seventh edition army, and a cheap one too, coming in at the price of a single Chaos Chariot (already received as a Father's Day gift). All the other models were in the box, or on their sprue, awaiting their chance. Going from zero to a 2500 point army in sixty-five dollars gives me a warm feeling all over.

If this army were real estate though, it would be labelled "a renovator's dream" or some such. I mean, there are nine 4th edition chaos knights in need of a weapon transplant. Why do they have lances? Chaos Knights don't use lances, never! That’s just the start. All the warriors I have are the old, hunchback types. I’ve dealt with the hunchback issue in the past by not using the models at all. That’s no longer an option. I could buy a box of marauders to supply a selection of fine head and torso pieces. Hmmm. Maybe.

With all the other projects I have on in wargaming alone, this army probably won’t get started until January 2007. More on those other projects later.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

First Impressions of a Seventh Edition

Seventh Edition Warhammer is now out. This is the edition that will fill an important gap for years to come. Namely, the gap between sixth edition and eighth edition.

So, what is it all about? Sixth edition re-wrote fifth by basically just adding the 80-page Direwolf FAQ that was current at the time into the ruleset. Edited for clarity you might say. Some new rules were added into sixth, but these were very silly and rendered the game barely playable until being officially dumped by GW via a FAQ. Fifth edition itself rewrote the risible fourth edition into something you could actually use to play a game.

How good is seventh edition? "Too early to tell" but early signs are very, very good.

The book has been written with care and with clarity. This starts with the layout of the book. The information has been re-ordered so that the rules take you from set-up through to the end of a typical game (minus magic). It sounds obvious and it is - now that GW have done it. Hopefully it will make the game more accessible to new players.

Alessio Cavatore is to be congratulated for crafting what is the most clear and complete set of rules Warhammer has ever received.

It's a narrow road to walk, writing a new edition for a venerable game like Warhammer. Too many changes risk alienating the player base. Too few changes, and people will ask why you bothered with a new edition at all.

Changes and additions appear throughout the rules, each time seamlessly integrated into the existing rules, and fully explained. Magic has been tidied up and the Eight Lores of Magic have been re-written to give players a real choice between them, instead of just picking Heavens or Life all the time.

Alessio has succeeded by making subtle, powerful changes to the rules that will have a real impact on the tabletop. New tactics will be carved out over the next 1-2 years, rewarding those prepared to be flexible.