Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Necromunda Blanche Gang

There are still two games left in the October Club's Necromunda campaign so here are The Blanche Gang ready for their first outing next Tuesday.

In the style of The Ramones and The Datsuns all members have adopted the surname Blanche. Hence say hello to Jeremiah Blanche, Jethro Blanche, Jed Blanche, Joss "The Boss" Blanche, Jimmy Blanche (the Juve), Jodrell Blanche, Jezebel Blanche (her in the sky blue FMBs), Justinian Blanche, "Basement" Jaxx Blanche and James Robertson Justice Blanche.

The original Necromunda models are repaints of the tat I got from the Stafford show last month.

There is also an EM4 Miniatures plastic Ganger in there and two of the Chaos Cultists from the Dark Vengerboys 40K set.

Anyway, remember Fantasy? Elves and Orcs and fantasy lands? Well, I'd kind of forgotten about it as a concept but the campaign that follows this one will be good old Mordheim. A Cult of the Possessed is nearly complete (it needs one figure painting) so some fantasy figures will be along in a bit.

Games? What Games?

GW Investor report is out - http://investor.games-workshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/2013-14-Press-statement-final-website.pdf

This will get pored over and torn to pieces on all the usual boards but for me the following is the really interesting part and it speaks volumes.

In about 3491 words (depending upon how you count it, including titles etc.) Kirby says the word "miniature" (or "miniatures") thirteen times.

Outside of the title "Games Workshop" and one dismissive reference to computer games, the word "game" (or "games") is never mentioned.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

RT/Gruntz Narrative Campaign - Crusty Encrustation

Inquisitor Obiwan Sherlock Clousseau's sources report that a much-detested xeno species has been observed entering the Amblecote star system. This species is known to the Ordo Xenos as the "Crusties". It is believed that these unwashed degenerates may have whored themselves out to military service with the rebellious elements operating within the system. Inquisitor Clousseau recommends the application of industrial-strength cheap cider, military-grade giro cheques and other bribes in the form of mongrels on pieces of string. Consult the Imperial Army's Sanitary Division in case of further escalation of Crusty infestation.

Photo intel of xeno species acquired by psionic remote viewing follows. Know your enemy.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Amblecotius RT/Gruntz Narrative Campaign - The Genial Gene Genie Genius

This is Doctor Cilkie Bhapshene, brilliant geneticist currently on a five year secondment to the Blood Drinkers Space Marine Chapter. She is attempting to fix the well-known fatal flaw in the chapter's geneseed that causes a uncontrollable lust for hematophagy and in doing so set up a programme of cloning to ensure a future supply of suitable genetic material. She is also well over seventy years old but inherited good genes. (Actually she stole them from a previous place of employment).

For the duration of the Amblecotius Campaign, Dr. Bhapshene has relocated to the Marine rear echelon base aboard "The Daughter", the giant orbital platform/floating palace that houses the seat of Amblecotian government. A large loading and cargo bay has been set aside for Dr. Bhapshene's research machines and medical facility.

Rebel leadership of "Opfor A" regard this setup as a priority target. It is believed by Opfor A military intelligence that the Blood Drinkers have a cloning facility aboard The Daughter and will shortly be using it to mass produce cloned Marines with which to replace their losses (such as Captain Zenn Zybil who lost a leg in the after-effects of the abortive breakout at Hark Hanoid). Potentially there is no limit to the number of armoured superhumans that could descend upon the rebel forces if the campaign drags on.

Accordingly a captured mail shuttle is heading to the The Daughter under falsified call signals. A strike team is aboard armed with Vortex grenade demo charges, and a bribed space traffic control operator will "accidentally" direct the shuttle to the "wrong" cargo bay.

These call signals had better work - Abdul Goldberg swore they would be good for the day of the attack. Admittedly he was distracted by his pressing need to count his money and escape out of the window with the suitcase of cash...

(Standard "Assault & Battery" scenario. Defenders - Blood Drinkers, Attackers - Rebel PDF. Each objective represents expensive machinery of medical value to the Marines. The cargo bay is huge so vehicles are permitted. There are many piles of trade goods in the cargo bay, these count as hills - and look quite like them - but cannot be crossed. The intention is to knock up a 4' x 4' table using my AT-43 "Reversible Gaming Tiles" that look like this - not my picture).

(The genesis of this scenario idea was a throw away comment of mine when my Marine commander got killed - I just laughed and said I'd clone him. Gary later suggested an attack upon the cloning facility might be a good follow on to the previous battle).

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Amblecotius Rogue Trader/Gruntz 15mm Narrative Campaign - The Cassus Belli

So why are there two PDF factions at war in the first place?

Because of the three players in the group and the similarity between the toy soldier forces of two of them (Webb and Gary).

Here's my write-up for why this is happening.

Amblecotius is an agri-world and exports vast quantities of foodstuff, fibres, bio-fuel (the Dark Millennium equivalent of bio-diesel), and related byproducts. This is worth a huge amount of cash, credit and prestige for the ruling House Huriatat who own a monopoly on imports/exports for the entire system as is granted by their Imperial Charter. Their single biggest customer is the hiveworld of Loschtzitay in the Novah-Tippen star cluster, a world that would be at risk of famine and wide-spread revolt should the continual traffic of freight haulers cease.

Many other houses jealously covet this monopoly. Furthermore it's an open secret that if the system changed hands yet the flow of exports and upholding of the Pax Imperium continued this would be regarded as a something of a fait accompli and of little interest to the far-distant authorities in the Emperor's Palace on Terra. This sort of thing happens all the time. The Imperium is rarely able to interfere in such forced changes of hands and is pragmatic enough to realise that in many cases of this sort of vendetta and private war where no overt threat to the Imperium exists it's business as usual after the firing and/or assassination has all died down a bit.

For such an agricultural backwater, Amblecotius actually has a disproportionately large number of men under arms in it's purely defensive army, the Planetary Defense Force. This large size is in the interests of securing the flow of trade and traffic, the occasional problems with Eldar piracy and slave raiders, and hostile local fauna. It also helps to ward off the threat of aggressive moves by other noble and mercantile houses.

Military service is compulsory for all able-bodied males, and amongst a section of the female populace - the latter drawn by lot making women a sizable minority within the PDF. Equipment for the PDF is paid for from the public purse (it is basically the private army of the Huriatat clan) and, as is usual for this sort of military outfit, is based around that of the Imperial Army but done "on the cheap" to represent the lighter duties to which they are accustomed. In the Imperium the Army is the force of the offence - the PDF is the force of the defence until the big boys can arrive.

Battalion 48, Amblecotius PDF pictured after another succesful xenocide operation. Xeno village codename G/78 had been found guilty in absentia of stealing the Emperor's firewood and illegally watering from His watercourses.

However despite conscription, the small population of Amblecotius Prime is not sufficient enough to support a standing army of the size required. Therefore a good third of it's strength is drawn from volunteers from neighbouring systems and conscripts from Huriatat feudal holdings elsewhere. This one third of the strength is a mixed bag containing everything from bored farmboys from other farm worlds to hiveworld scum, mercenaries, deserters, demobbed and invalid personnel from other PDFs and disbanded Imperial Army regiments, slaves, and penal troops.

There has long been something of a split between the native and non-native parts of the forces of House Huriatat, not helped by individual units being formed from one faction or the other. The native units have a stake in the wider society, the non-natives are viewed as mercenaries and brigands out for all they can get. Linguistic, racial and sectarian differences all play a role in this mutual distrust.

Recently House Enhausen has started a scheme several decades in the planning. Alongside their "official" religion of the worshipping the Emperor as a God, the Amblecotians revere two lesser agricultural deities, Eranu and Uvavu believed by the Inquisition to be corrupted folk memories of two early settlers of the system back in the Dark Ages of Technology. It is thought that this religion is harmless and possibly of benefit to a population bound to rural servitude and thus tolerated. It is tradition amongst worshippers that the names of both deities are to be said in as low and rumbling a pitch of voice as the worshipper can manage. It is thought that this attracts the good favour of both deities and failing to observe this attracts bad luck. This behaviour is widely mocked by the non-native PDF troops to whom it causes much amusement.

Inquisitor Geenunt believes this to be the oldest existing holoimage of early Hierophants of the Eranu/Uvavu twin cult.

Enahusen's agent provocateurs amongst the native units of the PDF (such agent provocateurs use brightly colour underclothing as a secret sign with which to recognise each other) have started a propaganda campaign claiming that the non-native units are a fifth column intended to wipe out worship of Eranu and Uvavu. This appears to many to be plausible - Amblecotius's past is littered with episodes where this religion has held to be heresy and the Inquisition were not always as tolerant of this in the past as they appear to be now. The ruling House Huriatat are themselves foreign imports and cannot be trusted to protect the native religious sentiment.

Meanwhile agents have spread different propaganda amongst the non-native units. In these version of events, the cults of Eranu and Uvavu plan to remove outsiders from the system through violence and genocide, and then proscribe worship of the Master of Mankind. Belief has been deliberately spread in this faction that if forced to chose between the two factions, Huriatat will simply sacrifice the lesser (them) in order to keep the greater (the others) onside.

With both factions believing that the other is about to strike and feeling unable to call upon the authorities for aid, open civil war amongst the PDF was laughably simple to kick off by provoking incidents where units from both sides are garrisoned.

The second stage of the plan was for House Enhausen troops and mercenaries to invade The Daughter, Huriatat's orbital palace and seat of government. The PDF would be disarmed, the Huriatat family put in front of a kangaroo court on jumped up charges of wilful neglect and incompetence and the system folded up into Enhausen's feudal holdings. A two year programme of temporary price drops in system exports would be used to butter up trading partners and help diffuse any misplaced loyalty to the deposed Huritats, while the imposition of a slave labour economy would dramatically slash costs and thus raise profits.

But the Enhausen planners miscalculated badly. Their agents failed to see that the difficult-to-predict Blood Drinkers would race to the aim of House Huriatat, instead believing that no Space Marine Captain would hold that anarchy amongst serf soldiers on a farm world was worthy of their intervention.

Enhausen has now created a massive disruption to vital interstellar trade and cannot see any easy way of benefiting from it unless the Marines somehow fail in their campaign or decide that events elsewhere are of more importance.

Plans to remove the Marines from the sphere of influence are hurriedly being drawn up.

TL;DR - Native and non-native elements of the PDF set at each others throats by House Enhausen who aim to take possession of wealthy and destabilised system. Unfortunately Space Marines got involved, PDF fought back in self-defense. House Huriatat, the supposed rulers are left impotent and wringing their hands while trapped in their orbital palace.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

OGRE Big Boy Edition

Back last December I treated myself to Ogre Designers Edition, the utterly over-specced SuperDuperDeluxe version of a game that originally came with a single A4 mapsheet and a bunch of 10mm counters.

To be fair this is actually a collection of Ogre, and it's supplement GEV and Shockwave and far, far more counters and stand-up 3D Ogres than you would ever need. It did however come with it's own logistical issues.

Basically it turned out to be the only boardgame I ever owned where the box doesn't fit in the car. So the game was sitting there looking very lovely and unplayed until I realised that I'd have to decant it into smaller boxes to be able to take it down the club.

Quite ridiculously this is what it took - 3 A4 Really Useful boxes and 1 double-depth box. The bottom two boxes contain nothing but the boards for the GEV/Shockwave maps. 

Thirty-odd stand up Ogres, slotted together in the same fashion as those Pirates of the Spanish Main ships from a few years back. 30+! And that doesn't include about the same number of "flat" Ogre counters.

So, off to Stourbridge for a game of this last Friday, introducing Gary W to the game. The scenario was "Super CP", this is basically a much bigger game of the original "One MkIII Ogre versus a horde of cannon fodder", giving the attacking player (me) two MkV Ogres (scary) and giving the defender (Gary) two MkIIIs and an armoured command post. This latter feature proved fairly decisive - with an unarmoured CP, an Ogre really only needs to get into the next hex with at least one surviving Anti-Personnel battery to wipe it out, in this version heavier weapons or ramming will be required.

Gary was the Pan-Euro forces, I made like General Farage of UKIP leading an assault on enemy Europe.



(In a strange twist of fate, the random MKIII drawn out of the box of many had my name on the "conning tower". It's partner had the name of a player at the next table).

Pan-Euro federalists and deniers-of-any-structural-issues-with-monetary-union-but-no-fiscal-union set up with a double front line of assorted armour units and a second line of infantry spam. Just off camera here is the armoured CP hiding in the right corner behind two hexes of impassible... stuff. Lava? Nuclear polluted shit? Who knows?

BTW, the scale of Ogre is pretty vast. Each hex is 1.5km across. In our Ogre Miniatures games (played with Scrabble tiles - I shit you not), where 1" is 1.5km, a 6'x4' table can contain the entire West Midlands conurbation and a lot of the green belt around. I rather like nuking Wolverhampton and Birmingham.

Broken through the first line with the usual ease that goes with the early stages when the Ogres are fresh and still have all their gun batteries. Pan-Euro Ogres coming into to support the defence, these are outclassed by the North American Combine MKVs but still annoying.

Infantry spam on a massive scale as Gary breaks down most of his 3-strength infantry units into three 1-strength counters. Couple of howitzers hiding in the mass of infantry as well which did serious damage to my Ogre tread units.

(David Luiz looks seriously unhappy about something.)

Silver going straight for the CP although attritional damage is starting to tell - IIRC at this point she had no batteries and was starting to take damage to treads. Still had most of the AP batteries so most of that infantry died in droves to machine guns, space-claymores, and the like. However the lack of big guns meant that Gary's Ogres could come into close range and blast away with relative impunity.

Oh look, it's the CP I promised you was there! Silver is down to 2 hexes a turn move now and lacking anything in the way of guns is simply aiming to ram into the CP, reverse back a bit, have another go, reverse back a bit, have another go etc. etc. Red is in better shape so ignoring the mass of infantry spam in front of it and heading straight for the CP. Those two impassible hexes in front of the target proved to be game-winning for Gary.

Nothing to stop Silver. Or is there? Now down to one hex a turn movement, every enemy save the mobile howitzers are faster. David Luiz and David Luiz still unhappy.

And that was the high water mark of the North American advance. Red did some damage to the CP with guns but lost them to incoming fire. Silver died when the blue Ogre rammed it, Gary was then able to turn his attentions to Red and reduced that to one hex movement, no main weapons at which point I conceded.


Fun, good looking game and very "trad"Ogre in that the early exchanges of fire are all so easy for the Ogres but they end up limping and dragging themselves forwards in a desperate attempt to finish off the job. Howitzers ability to blow away huge chunks of Ogre tread units and those two impassible hexes turned out to be the decisive element in the game although I suspect I might have been able to knock out the CP had I not somewhat squandered by missiles early doors when I got spooked by the proximity of a super-heavy tank and a couple of mobile howitzers.

So I hope Gary got a good taster of what the game is about. Next time this comes out I'd like to a big all-arms game on the GEV/Shockwave "green" maps.