Fall-In 2013

Another year, another Fall-In convention.  The more conventions I go to, the less new and different I have to say about them, so I’m going to go over some of the “big picture” items that I usually ignore, and only briefly cover the events themselves.

Walter White helps me with my
convention registration issue.

Gaming conventions are great fun, and they’re a wonderful way to get a big dose of gaming in over the course of the weekend.  I learn more in a weekend at the convention than the entire time between conventions. My room for Cold Wars 2014 is already reserved, and I should probably go book for Fall-In as well.

As usual in recent years, I played nothing but DBx games: DBA and HotT.  Fall-In is the smallest of the HMGS-East conventions, but there are enough players and GMs to field a full schedule of DBA and HotT games, from Thursday evening to Sunday morning with minimal breaks.  All the DBA games were run using 2.2+. Nobody plays 2.2 anymore, and 3.0 isn’t released yet.

Ancient and Medieval wargaming is in a bit of a funk at the conventions these days.  Although we have enough players to fill DBA tournaments, there is very little support in the vendor hall. The space where Wargames Minis used to be is still a huge hole in the back of the hall, and many other vendors seem not to bring their 15mm ancient and medieval figures in recent years.

If you’re interested in buying painted armies, there seems to be a big selection of DBA armies in the flea market; so there’s that, at least.

Luckily, Gale Force 9 have their bulk MDF bases back in stock, hopefully permanently.  I stocked up on 25mm scale HotT bases on Friday before they ran out.

As I paint more armies, each army I paint becomes less and less useful to my overall collection.  When I had 2 armies, painting a third was a huge benefit: on average it would see use 1/3 of the time.  Now that I have over 30 armies, each new army I paint provides only a minuscule benefit over the ones I have.  I play DBA so infrequently outside of conventions that the only way I can guarantee I’ll play an army is if I paint it for a specific themed event.

With that in mind, I built 3 armies in preparation for Fall-In 2013.  I painted Neo-Assyrian Later Sargonid for BBDBA, but didn’t end up using it.  The Two Davids campaign event always provides a good motivation to paint a new army, so I painted Georgians.  There wasn’t any other event at the same time as the 25mm DBA event, so I rebased a 25mm Early Polish army, though I didn’t paint the figures.

Mark Bumala is annoyed that Rich forgot the terrain mats.

Every convention, The Stooges from Pittsburgh run a Prologue event: an element-themed tournament on Thursday night.  This time around the theme was “Long Pointy Things.” Eligible armies required at least 4 elements of Pike. These aren’t historical formats, and don’t tend to produce historical matchups. They often result in fairly balanced army matchups, but some metagamers try to turn it into an “armies that beat the element theme” event.

After winning 3 rounds undefeated, John Manning’s nearly naked Sumerians carried their Long Pointy double entendres to victory. I brought Seleucids.  Although I tend to consider Alexander and his Successors as the main source of DBA Pike armies, I didn’t face any other Classical pikes. John Manning beat me with his Sumerians; I beat Mark Bumala’s Low Countries; and Roland Fricke beat me 5-3G in a very close battle with his Low Countries army.

I really like the later Sumerian army, but it’s only because their heavy chariots are donkey-pulled 4-wheel carts.  At this point, the army composition is so similar to a Successor army that I just can’t justify painting the army without a themed event to play it in.

They did that?  Their C-in-C hanging out on our left
flank should be easy to pick off…

The first Bookend event is Big Battle Doubles, held all day on Friday.  Typically this event is run in two separate player pools, using either round-robin or swiss pair matchups in each group depending on the player count.  After three preliminary rounds, the winners of each pool are supposed to play a final to determine the overall winner.

In recent conventions they’ve been using a historical theme, and this time around it was chariot-era biblical armies.

Team Two Davids won their pool as they usually do. Spencer Ginder and his wife, team Comedy and Tragedy, won the other pool.  Since both teams live in the DC area, they decided to finish the final outside the convention.  I haven’t heard the final results yet.

Team Comedy and Tragedy: Christine and Spencer Ginder

I partnered with Jack Sheriff, making him the second player I’ve partnered with more than once. We formed The Team With No Name, despite Dave Schlanger’s attempt to retcon us into The Team Who Shall Not be Named. I’d be happy to join forces with him again; we both have the right combination of laid back but competitive.

We decided to take Neo-Assyrian Later Sargonid with a Saitic Egyptian ally. I planned to paint a Sargonid army with an ally for BBDBA before I partnered with Jack, but he had the army so I didn’t need to finish painting it.

In the first round, we faced Mark Burton and John Svensson, whose team name I forget, and their Lydian army. They defended and tried a bold, daring deployment that put most of their forces on our weaker right flank, but exposed their commander in chief on the end of their line.  Truthfully, they put up a good fight and lasted several turns longer than I anticipated; but they lost in the end.  We won 78-22.

In the second round, we faced team Comedy and Tragedy and their New Kingdom Egyptians.  We lost 2-98.

Versus The Stooges. Before: Deployment.

We were determined to take our lessons learned into the third round, where we also faced New Kingdom Egyptians with the same composition.  This time, they were piloted by the Stooges: Larry Chaban and “Diceman” Rich Baier from Pittsburgh.  I came all this way to fight you?

Jack Sheriff is known as “the butcher,” and in this game we all helped him earn his title.  In the end we lost 41-59, but it was one of the closest BBDBA matches I’ve seen. We were close to testing whether it was possible to gain more points as a loser than as a winner.

Versus The Stooges. After: Carnage.

The victory conditions for BBDBA say that you win if you have broken the enemy’s C-in-C command, or have killed more than half the enemy’s elements and also have more elements killed than they do.  Big Battles uses a triple army, 36 elements, so half the elements are 18.

Near the end of this game, we were tied 17 elements to 17. They broke one of our commands early on, but we broke two of theirs shortly after.  It was their turn, which meant that it was their turn for their elements to flee off the board, but also their turn to attack us and kill more elements.  Unfortunately they were able to kill 18 elements before we could catch up, securing their victory. They won 19G-17G/CinC: a Pyrrhic victory if there ever was one.

After this battle of epic proportions, the four of us decided to go to dinner rather than participate in the Friday evening event.  On Roland’s advice, we drove a few miles away to a “Mexican” restaurant. This turned out to be a high quality Latin-American restaurant that was an absolutely amazing find for Lancaster, PA: El Serrano.  After the loss of the Thai restaurant, and Tony Wang’s going down hill, it was great to find another place to eat good food.  I had the Lomito and two excellent Margaritas, and didn’t regret missing a DBA event for the experience.

Pyramid event, final round.

On Saturday, I ran a Pyramid event.  In this format, the loser of the each round joins forces with the winner in a multi-army battle in the next round.  The 8-player pyramid results in 3 rounds culminating in an 8 player 4-on-4 battle.

This time around, I chose an Alexandrian Successor theme. In the final round, Larry Chaban as C-in-C of the Athenian Empire defeated Dan Loych, C-in-C of the Ptolemaic Empire, to secure Greek dominance over their Macedonian underlings.

A new target! I mean, Otto.

Saturday afternoon, there was only one event: a 25mm book II/III tournament.  I usually don’t play 25mm, but 2.2+ normalized the rules across 15mm and 25mm, so I decided to take an army rather than do nothing. I could have taken my Early Spartans, but a wall of spears with a single Psiloi is fairly boring.  I decided to rebase some painted Medieval figures I had into an Early Polish army, instead.

In the first round, I beat John Svensson’s Normans 4-0. Next I faced Jeff Franz and his Skythians; he didn’t roll enough 6’s for PIPs, so I beat him 3G-1.  Finally, I faced John Manning’s Hsia-Hsia and won 4-2 to end in an undefeated victory. And so, I qualified for the NICT again even though I am unable to attend Historicon.

Saturday Night is the other Bookend event: the Two Davids Campaign Theme.  This convention, the theme was God Wills It!, a Crusader theme. I played the Georgians, alone in the corner as usual.  I’m not very good at parties.

I never took a vassal, but I won 2 rounds out of 5 (“Beat up on kids” according to Larry), killed a general, and ended the game independent, netting me 7 points and a solid middle-of-the-pack position.

Sunday Morning, instead of going to Perkins for their extreme bowel cleansing service, I decided to play the Hordes of the Things open.  I brought Professor Hans’ Metal Minions.  I won one round and lost 2.  Scott Kastler’s magician army was a very interesting opponent.

It was another great convention, and I look forward to Cold Wars in March.  In the mean time I have at least 3 DBA armies to paint, and I plan to field a new HotT army for the Sunday open as well.

You should join us! It’s fun, and there’s beer.

HoTT Army: Professor Hans’ Metal Minions

Here is my latest Hordes of the Things army: Professor Hans’ Metal Minions.  I just made that up.  I finished this army before Cold Wars, but didn’t get a chance to post about it yet.

Professor Hans’ Metal Minions
Professor Hans and his Avatar: Magician General.

Professor Hans was afflicted with Polio at a young age.  For years he studied Science, Technology, and the dark arts of Alchemy to try to find a solution to his frustrated confinement. After receiving a small mechanical assistant robot from his uncle, he began experimenting with building ever more complex mechanical bodies.

Eventually he invented a mind-machine interface that allowed him to give his creations the autonomy they deserved. This army is the result of years of experimentation with transplanting insect and animal brains into mechanical bodies.

His work must continue until he feels he can successfully transplant his own brain into a suitable host body.  In the mean time, his army gives him the tools he needs to find human subjects for further experimentation.

Professor Hans’ Brass Spiders: 4x Beast

This army is built primarily out of Mage Knight figures, but there are a few from other prepainted sets: Dungeons and Dragons and Dreamblade.  I repainted, touched up, and/or converted all of the figures in one way or another.

Professor Hans is a figure called “Gent” from the Dreamblade series of prepainted miniatures.  I repainted him with a brass colored integrated wheelchair.  In his hand he holds the Aetheric Impulse Controller for his Avatar, who can shoot its Aetheric Wave Gun at enemies that Hans has a particularly strong interest in.  Hans’ Avatar is a repainted Mage Knight figure.

Professor Hans’ Camel Backs: 2x Shooter

His brass spiders are early creations that use a spider’s brain to control their steam powered bodies.  They are Mage Knight figures that originally had riders.  I removed the riders, filled in the seats, added smoke stacks, and repainted them all.  These are Beast elements.

The Camel Backs are an early success with Hans’ use of the mammalian brain.  They carry steam boilers on their back and shoot cannons instead of spitting. These are Mage Knight figures repainted silver with brass highlights.  They are Shooter elements.

Professor Hans’ Turtle Men: 4x Blades

The Turtle Men use brass bodies controlled with the brain of a snapping turtle.  They are mixed Mage Knight figures, also repainted in a better brass color with matching color highlights.  They’re Blade elements.

Papa Bear is a giant steel mech controlled with the brain of a bear.  It’s a Dungeons and Dragons prepainted figure. Most of the paint is original, but I changed the highlights from copper colored to brass so they’d match the rest of the army.  This is a Behemoth element.

The Dragonfly combines Hans’ insect brain interface with a flying mech that uses his newer, smaller power sources.  It’s a flyer. This is also a Mage Knight figure that had a seat and a rider. I filled it in and repainted portions of the figure.

Now all I need is a stronghold!

Professor Hans’ Papa Bear: 1x Behemoth

Professor Hans’ Dragonfly: 1x Flyer

Cold Wars 2013

JM decided not to go to Cold Wars this year, but luckily Mike Kaizar did.  It’s always more fun to go to a convention with a friend, even when there are more friends waiting for you when you get there. He drove from Columbus to Pittsburgh, and we left late enough that we got to Lancaster at 8 or 9pm.

BBDBA Doubles

First thing on Friday Morning, as usual, was BBDBA Doubles. This was the first time Mike and I have partnered for BBDBA, and it went quite well overall.  I hope Mike keeps coming out to more conventions in the future; I’d happily partner with him again.

This was the first BBDBA event I’ve played in that had a historical theme: Medieval Europe. We took my recently finished Early Hungarian army. I filled out the third army by building a morph army out of my Germans, Early Russians, and other random figures. Many of the figures were identical except for the paint job, so they matched well.

I’ve wanted this army for a long time, and was very interested to try it in BBDBA.  For the Ax/Bw option, I would ordinarily have chosen all Auxilia.  However, since this was BBDBA with a Medieval Europe theme, I expected to see relatively little bad going (except when playing against The Davids), and a substantial number of bows in our enemies’ armies.  I decided to take 3x3Ax, 3x3Bw.  In retrospect, I’m not sure if that was the best choice or not.  3 bows wasn’t as many as bow-heavy armies had, so it may have been better to take all bows or all auxilia.

Early Hungarians vs. Two Davids playing Feudal English with Welsh ally.

In the first round, we faced Two Davids: David Kuijt and David Schlanger.  They were playing Feudal English with a Welsh ally. We ended up as the attackers, and as I expected, we saw a good amount of terrain.

In this game, our command structure used three combined arms commands, with elements shifted around to get good break points and PIP management.

  • High PIP, 13 el, BP 5: 2xKn(Gen), 2xCv, 5xLH, 3xSp, 1xPs.
  • Mid PIP, 13 el, BP 5: 2xKn(CinC), 1xCv, 3xLH, 3xSp, 3xAx, 1xPs.
  • Low PIP, 10 el, BP 4: 2xKn(Gen), 1xLH, 3xSp,  3xBw, 1xPs.

The Davids had one large English command and one tiny one: their C-in-C had 3xKn, 1xCv, and 4xHd, which they taped in place around their camp.  This meant that they could attack with their C-in-C command’s mounted, and they’d have to lose 3/4 of its elements in order to break.  It made it easy for them to combine two or 3 commands against one of ours, and its small size made it hard to reach and even harder to gang up on.

Our commands worked quite well, but unfortunately our attack didn’t succeed quickly enough to win. It ended up fairly close: we lost 25-75. It was a good matchup and a fun game; a great way to start the convention.

Early Hungarians vs. Comedy and Tragedy playing Low Countries.

In the second game, we faced Comedy and Tragedy: Spencer and Christina Ginder.  They were playing Low Countries: a pike army (with knights).  Their forces were less mobile than ours, so they had terrain on the board again.  That was satisfying, but also made me question whether this army composition for Hungarians actually wants very much terrain.

In deciding what command structure to use here, I considered how Spencer might use his pikes.  Many players combine their pikes into a single huge block, give it the low PIP die, and sit it on defense.  Some build a single large pike block but spread it across two commands so they can attack with it. Others maintain several separate combined arms commands.

Large blocks of pike are hard to break but easy to avoid, and they’re easier to use effectively.  Combined arms is more flexible, but more difficult to use and easier to break by killing things other than the pike.  We decided to build a very mobile force that would be able to quickly and easily outflank a large block of pike, if they brought one to the field.  Our main force would follow up to pin their line in place, preventing them from effectively turning to face our flank attack.  Our approximate command breakdown:

  • High PIP, 10 el, BP 4: 3xCv (Gen), 7xLH.
  • Medium PIP, 16 el, BP 6: 4xKn (CinC), 1xLH, 6xSp, 2xPs, 3xAx.
  • Low PIP, 10 el, BP 4: 3xSp (Gen), 3xBw, 1xPs, 2xKn, 1xLH.

It turned out the Ginders decided to use multiple combined arms commands, but we maintained our plan: a fast flank attack where we intended to win, and a slower frontal press where we hoped not to lose.  They deployed with a gap in their line for flexibility, but unfortunately couldn’t use their third command to both fill the gap and protect their flank effectively.  This stretched their command radius to its maximum.  Their combined arms commands had pike and knights interleaved, making it difficult to get optimal local matchups.

Our left flank attack arrived quickly, but took a long time to become effective.  We tied up a larger number of the enemy’s troops with my smaller mobile command, but unfortunately our high PIP die was committed to that use alone. In the mean time, we started winning more quickly elsewhere.  In the end, the battle didn’t go as we had planned, but we did win 92-8, so I have no complaints.

The lesson we learned here is that you really don’t need a very large flanking force to be effective, if you can truly get around the enemy’s flank; but you do need a lot of time if you’re using resilient weak forces (LH) versus a stronger enemy who can’t kill you (Pk).   The terrain made it difficult to support our flank attack effectively, since we didn’t have any bad going troops in the attacking command.

Early Hungarians vs. Doug Austin’s Condotta with Swiss ally.

The third game was the first time we rolled low enough to defend and place terrain.  Early Hungarians are Steppe, not arable, so we placed a bunch of small bits of rough and a few hills.

Our command split was the same as in the first game. We placed our Mid and Low PIP commands first, with a gap between them so we could wheel them both to the right or left depending on our needs.  Unfortunately, our terrain was offset to the left a bit farther than we’d prefer, leaving little space to deploy our third command on that side.  This made our third deployment possibly a bit too obvious.

Doug deployed to overlap our line on both ends, as expected; and we deployed our third command on our right flank, also as expected.  This left us with a lot of room to outflank him on our right, but he overlapped us on our left.

Doug quickly second-guessed his deployment, and decided he needed more troops on his left (our right) flank.  He started spending PIPs to redeploy knights from his right to his left behind his line, as he advanced slowly and we tried to press on as quickly as possible.

We had the early game advantage due to the PIPs he was spending on redeployment and having his troops out of command. I broke his command on our right flank, but unfortunately I was too aggressive with my CinC command, and ended up suffering losses where I should have just been holding the line and waiting for my right flank to keep winning.  We started losing elements on our left flank, and eventually lost enough elements in our CinC for it to break.  It was a good game, but we lost 16-84.

My first goal for BBDBA was to win a game, and I accomplished that with JM several conventions ago.  After that game, my second goal was to finish with at least 100 points.  We achieved that in this tournament, after a strong win and two losses that actually gave us points.  BBDBA Doubles is one of the highlights of every convention, now that I’m competent enough to feel like I have a chance of succeeding in most of the games.

Quad Themes

Friday night was Roland Fricke’s Quad Themes event.  There were 4 rounds, each played with a different army from a different historical theme.  At this point I was fairly fried, so I’ll just give a rundown of the results.
In round 1, I played Early Egyptians (I/2a) and beat Mark Pozniak’s Nubians, 6-5.  Next, I played Later Achaemenid Persians, and beat Dick Pagano’s Macedonian Successors 4-1. In the third round, Rich “Diceman” Baier’s Later Imperial Romans (East) beat my Ancient Brits 4-2.  I got to play Mike Kaizar in the last round, but it was a poor matchup for him: my knight-heavy Feudal Spanish faced his blade and raider Vikings. He won anyway, with a 1g-0 victory in one of the first rounds of combat.

Alexander the Great Theme

On Saturday morning, we were forced to get up way too early, for Mark Pozniak’s 8am event: an Alexander the Great theme.  I brought Later Achaemenid Persians, and lost all my games.  I didn’t write down my opponents’ armies, unfortunately.  Mike Guth beat me 2C-0.  Bill Fisher beat me 4-2.  Kristy Faux beat me 4-3.

Unification War: Rise of the Son of Heaven

On Saturday afternoon, I ran a Pyramid format event with a Warring States Chinese theme.  We used Limited Attrition rules as described on the Buttocks of Death Wiki.  

Warring States Pyramid, final round of 4-on-4.

We had two new, young DBA players: Otto, Dave Schlanger’s son, and his friend BJ.  They had a lot of fun, and I expect to see them playing DBA at more events in the future.

The Commanders in Chief in the final round were Otto leading his Chu empire against David Kuijt’s Qin empire.

These 4-on-4 games usually end up being more like several 1-on-1 games next to each other, rather than having as much interaction between commands as you have in BBDBA, but they are still quite fun; and that’s the real point in the end anyway.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the Pyramid format, and the limited attrition rules worked very well, as they did at last year’s Cold Wars.  I think I prefer running Pyramid events rather than Matched Pairs.  I like having fixed signups and a tighter historical theme, and it’s easier to handle the matchups when the pyramid is constructed before the event starts.

Two Davids Campaign: Recovering Byzantium

The real reason I had to paint Early Hungarians before this convention was the Two Davids campaign event: Recovering Byzantium.  The campaign was centered around Byzantine states in 1230AD, and Hungary was on the outskirts.
In the first round, John Manning attacked me with his Byzantine army, and I lost 3-4.  Not a great start, but that’s okay.  In the second round, Jack Sheriff’s Syrians attacked me and I beat them.  Next, I attacked Mark Burton and failed to capture a vassal.  
In the final round, I had a high number, and I was surprised to be allowed to attack someone again.  When my number came up there were 4 of us left. I attacked Dave Schlanger, and beat him; acquiring a vassal.
After the fourth round there was a bit of an incident… I won’t go over the details, but you’ll never fail to  remember it if you were there. It pretty much put an end to peoples’ enthusiasm for a fifth round.
I still enjoy the campaign events.  I think overall, I enjoy events with a very strict army list best, because they provide me with the most motivation to paint more interesting armies.

Hordes of the Things Open

Hordes of the Things: Fire vs. Ice played by BJ.
On Sunday morning, Mike met his parents for breakfast and I played Hordes of the Things.  I brought my Die in a Fire army.
For this event, my composition was: Mg (gen), Beh, Drg, 3xBd, 2xFly, 2xLrk.

In the first round, I faced BJ’s Ice elemental army.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to use the pretty elemental terrain board.  I lost 8-12g.

Next I faced Otto’s Slaad demon army: basically giant lizard demons. I beat him 6g-2.

Hordes of the Things: Fire vs. Rick Wynn’s Wild Hunt of Faerie.

In the final round, my fire elementals faced Rick Wynn’s Wild Hunt of Faerie (Oberon, Titania Elves) army. Rick’s army was beautiful, built mostly out of Games Workshop plastics.  He did a wonderful job of building an exactly 24 point army with a very specific theme.

After a bit of posturing, our magicians made it into range of each other.  I decided to try to ensorcel his general with mine on the first turn I had a chance, because he had two magicians and could get a better shot against me if I waited.  This turned out to be a tied roll, the only result that didn’t end up with one of us losing instantly.

In the next round Oberon returned the favor, with Titania’s help, instead of ensorcelling with Titania and having Oberon help.  Despite his better combat factors, I rolled high enough to beat him and pull the instant win: 4g-0.

This was the first time I had used a Dragon in HOTT.  I have mixed opinions about it at this point; it’s powerful and looks cool, but it’s also easy to lose and you don’t get any overlap support from friendly elements.  I think the key might be to use it with fliers who can provide flank and rear support more easily.

It turns out that after my two wins and favorable loss, I ended up tied for first place with BJ.  Since he beat me, he won the event overall.  Congratulations, and I hope to see you back for more games!

It was another great convention, and I’m glad I went. I won’t be making it to Historicon, but I look forward to more great conventions in the future.

HOTT: Red vs. Blue part II

HOTT: Mechwarrior Red army.

 So, I was playing in Hordes of the Things matched pairs with my Red vs. Blue armies, and David Schlanger got another chance to see them once they were based up.  It just so happened that the flea market was open at that time… and that one of the vendors had a large stock of Mechwarrior figures available for sale.

Dave visited the flea market, and shortly came back to show off his purchase.  “Look, I got an entire army for only $17!  You should get some more foot bases, they’re only 4 for $1!”  And so it begins: Tag Team Enabling.

After my game was finished, I went to the flea market and ended up with an entire army, instead of only a few more bases.  During the next game, Dave came back to show off his second complete army.

At that point, we had to drag David Kuijt into the mix if we were going to keep up our momentum.  Unfortunately, it turned out we had already bought all 5 main factions.  The solution was obvious: I sold my new army to David.   Then, he and I both bought more figures for our own armies.

HOTT: Mechwarrior Blue army.

By the time the flea market was about to close, we had bought enough figures that the vendor started giving us mechs for free.

In the end, I now have over 48 points of both Red and Blue.  There are still a few more figures I’d like to pick up: an airboat for the Blue army, and a few more aerial or anti-aerial units for Red.  But I can find those from Internet sources without too much difficulty.

We’re keeping track of our HOTT troop classifications on a wiki page.  We’ll update it as we discuss possible changes.

A summary of basing conventions: All vehicles are mounted, and infantry are foot.  Tanks are knights; mechs can be behemoths, heroes, aerial heroes, or magicians as appropriate. Untracked vehicles are typically Riders, and ground based large guns are Shooters.  Foot is either Blade or Warband.

I’m already enjoying teaching HOTT to Ezra as well as a friend and his son.  For teaching a young player, I’ve limited element selection to only mounted elements to start with.  Behemoths, Knights, Riders, and Heroes provide sufficiently interesting troop interactions.  Since they’re all mounted, it’s a lot easier to remember all of the troop factors.  As Ezra improves his abilities, I’ll introduce more troop types.

I expect we’ll see some Mechwarrior HOTT events at a future HMGS convention.  In the mean time, I enjoy the opportunity to play more games with a new generation of opponents.

HOTT: Red vs. Blue, part I

HOTT Mechwarrior: Foot based as hordes, obsolete.

At Cold Wars 2012, I purchased enough prepainted Mechwarrior miniatures to build a matched pair of HOTT armies: Red vs. Blue.  I based them up for HOTT Matched Pairs at Historicon, using 25mm basing.

Initially, I based all foot as Hordes.  After discussion with the Davids, we’ve decided this isn’t the best troop categorization, so I rebased everything.  Here are images of a few of the bases before I ripped the figures up and started over.

HOTT Mechwarrior: Knights are now on square bases.

At HOTT Matched Pairs, I took this matched pair:


  • Tanks: 3xKnight (gen)
  • Mechs: 3xBehemoth
  • Helicopter: 1xFlyer
  • Foot: 2xShooter
  • Mechs: 2xBehemoth (gen)
  • Tanks: 2xKnight
  • GEVs: 3xRider
  • Helicopters: 2xFlyer
  • Mech: 1xSpear
HOTT Mechwarrior: Knights are now on square bases.

In three games, we used these armies twice.  Both times, my opponent chose Red, and I ended up with Blue.

With these compositions, Red looks like it should be able to gain air superiority, due to its shooters and flyers outnumbering Blue’s flyers. In practice, this didn’t happen.  In both games, the Red general put their shooters together, and I was able to attack somewhere else with my Flyers. I was able to destroy the enemy Flyer and avoid their shooters.
I won both games, and also the third, taking first place in the HOTT matched pairs tournament.

Cold Wars 2012: Saturday

Matched pairs, 15mm games

JM and I volunteered to run a DBA Matched Pairs event on Saturday morning.  Neither of us got a lot of sleep the night before, so when I woke up I just let JM sleep in and started the event without him.

I posted details on Fanaticus, but here’s a summary of the results.   We had 16 players in two brackets.  4 players used “hybrid” basing, which uses 15mm figures with the 25mm base sizes for more visual appeal.  One player had 6mm figures on 15mm bases, and the rest brought straight 15mm figures.

Since each player provides two armies that will play against each other, any scale can be used as long as they’re compatible.

Jason Bostwick won group A with 71 points (3 wins, 1 loss), and Ted Furey went undefeated in group B with 89 points.

May the Beer be With You: Rick Wynn, HOTT matched pairs.

Next was Hordes of the Things matched pairs.  I brought my Battle of Endor “matched” pair built from Star Wars collectible miniatures.  This was not an even match, but it produced historical results.  I need to work on the army composition before bringing it out again.

In the first round, I faced Alex Bostwick using my army.  He chose the Rebels and Ewoks, and I played the Imperial side.  He crushed me quickly, I believe it was 6g-0.  Shooter generals are feeble, but it was too late to change my mind.

Next I played against Jeff Franz using his Perseus vs. Medusa Greek armies in 15mm scale.  I  had Perseus fly behind his line with a harpy to strike his harpy in the rear and kill it.  Unfortunately, in response Medusa turned around and shot Perseus down, recoiling him into his own harpy and killing him. I lost 6g-2 after 2 rounds of combat.

In the third round, Rick Wynn also chose to play the role of the Ewoks.  This game lasted a bit longer, but ended the same way: my shooter general was crushed and the Empire fell.  It was approximately 8g-0 at the end.  Hmm, I have a problem losing generals, apparently.

Finally, I faced Greek Alex who was borrowing a pair of “Arabian Nights” armies from Rick.  They were identical: a Magician general, flyer, dragon, behemoth, and warbands.  These are PIP intense forces, but it evens out when they face each other.  Alex whittled me away, got his dragon on the board, and finally ended up winning 14-0.

Once again, I felt a need to learn how to play HOTT effectively.  The troop interactions are fun, but also new and different, and not what I’m used to.  I ended up picking up prepainted Mechwarrior figures for another HOTT matched pair of armies, so I’ll have more armies to choose from if I ever find the time to play.

Finally, the event we’ve all been waiting for: Condotta Chaos!  As usual, the Two Davids campaign event was the highlight of the convention.

Jeff Franz, looking down.

By the time this event started, I had been running on too little sleep for a long time.  I was basically on autopilot by now.  Luckily the event was run using the DBA 2.2+ rules, which I seem to be more familiar with these days.

I originally intended to take Pike and Artillery as my army options, but then I learned none of the Condotta armies were allowed to take pike.  Since I needed to take spears, I took psiloi to provide support for them. My other options were an additional Light Horse, and of course the pavisiers.

In this event, all knights were allowed to dismount as blades at deployment.  I painted blades for this, so I hoped to get a chance to use them.

In the first round, I drew a high numbered chit, and defended against Jeff Franz’s Condotta.  I placed terrain, and used a road curved around a hill and a wood.  I deployed with two Knights dismounted as Blades near the bad going to act as bad going troops.  He very helpfully placed his Artillery on the same flank, and I sensed an opportunity.

This was the only game when I took advantage of a 2.2+ rule that I remembered but the enemy forgot.  He kinked his line, so I contacted his ungrouped Artillery and caused it to conform to my column of blades so I could fight it without an overlap.  It wasn’t without risk: I had to survive one round of combat against a knight before I could get back into bad going.  With the threat from his artillery neutralized, our lines clashed and I eventually crushed him and killed his general: 4g-2.

In this campaign, losing a general meant rolling on a table to see whether the general escaped (no effect), was captured (the only way for a winning defender to gain a vassal), or killed (causing the army to lose their vassals).  Jeff’s general escaped alive but embarrassed.  Fooey, I could use a good vassal!

Jan Spoor, looking down.

In the next round, I got to choose between two high numbered tiles and so I was attacked again.  This time I faced Jan Spoor and his… wait for it…  Condotta!  He used the same composition that I had.

I rolled as the defender and placed similar terrain: minimal bad going with enough room between them to play, and a bent road.  I deployed all my knights mounted, and left two elements of bait to the left of the woods.  He deployed three elements on that flank and took the bait!  Oh wait, he also brought his General with him so he wouldn’t be out of command.  That wasn’t part of my plan…

In the end, it was a very close, hard fought battle.  He had superiority on the left flank, but I managed to kill enough in the center that I pulled off a 4-3 victory before I died.  Once again, since I was defending, I didn’t gain any vassals.

Rick Wynn, looking down.

In round 3, I drew two tiles again since I won, and once again my numbers were too high to attack with.  Rick Wynn attacked me with his Medieval Germans.

I defended, placed very similar terrain again, and once again placed two elements of bait on the left flank. This time they were on a road, making them look extra fancy in their steel stirrups and poofy sleeves.  I deployed one knight dismounted, since Rick had more heavy foot than I did.  He also took the bait, but he took an entire spear quad to counter it.  This was great news.  As long as I could threaten them enough not to move back to the center, I was confident I’d never need to face them.

It was either this game or the previous one when I finally figured out how to wheel my army into advantageous matchups effectively. In this game it really clicked and worked well.  I swapped my elements into place so that it was in Rick’s benefit to walk forward, and in my interest to wheel into a better position, and it just worked really well.

But Rick is a good player, and he did a very good job of protecting his flank with the woods on his side.  I managed to hit his line hard enough to do some damage, but after my initial combat advantage I started taking casualties.  Pretty soon I was only one element from dying, but I managed to kill his general and win 4g-3.  In the end, two of my elements and one of his had done a 180 in the middle of the board, it was a real mess.

This game demonstrated the difference it makes when you don’t lose rear support when a front rank dies in 2.2+.  My psiloi support survived at least 2 rounds of combat against his knight, but eventually lost a 2-2 mutual quick kill roll. A Knight killing spears and following up into a Psiloi with double overlaps is not necessarily a good deal for the Knight… it’s certainly dangerous, possibly too dangerous.

Since Rick lost his General, he had to roll on the CMAT table as well, and I captured him.  A vassal at last!

Mark Pozniak, looking down.

In the final round, I drew the 1 and 2 tiles.  Finally I got to attack, and so did Rick.  I had a tiny vassal tree compared to other players, but they did look like juicy targets.  I hadn’t played against Poz yet, and he had a big vassal tree that I could reach easily, so I attacked him.

Mark had Condotta, and I think he took Artillery.  He defended and placed terrain.  It looked similar to mine, but with the bad going farther apart and larger.  He also placed two elements of light horse on a flank, and I mirrored his deployment there.

Again this game, I was able to wheel into good matchups with the main line.  I struck his light horse with mine at just about the time our lines met, but it was a minor mistake: I should’ve waited for him to come to me so he’d be out of command radius.

I killed one of his light horse immediately, and this time I didn’t lose my early combat advantage. I won combats all down the line and fairly quickly killed him 4-0.  It was a much faster game, but much less tense than the previous ones.

This win netted me a large vassal tree, and Rick added to it with his attack as well.  In the end, first place was a three way tie between me, Mark, and Rich Baier.  We had a roll-off to break the tie before Dave Schlanger had a chance to tell us who was actually eligible, but everyone else had so many plaques they just let me take it anyway.

So finally, I started winning!  I guess it was better that it was all in one event; now I’m qualified for the NICT and have a measurable reason to try to get to Historicon in July.  We’ll see if my schedule allows it.

Saturday night, we stayed up until 4:30am after the Daylight Savings clock change, playing Red Dragon Inn.  This was quite a fun little Take That! game, with a good theme.  But as with most of these games, it is nothing without its theme and the right players to make the most of it.  It’s not a good choice for our gaming group in Pittsburgh, but it was a lot of fun to play with the rowdier convention crowd.

Those games produced my favorite quote of the convention, courtesy of Alex Bostwick: “Hey guys! Alan is secretly 40!”  Well, just because you don’t tell anyone something, that doesn’t necessarily make it a secret, but I’m old enough to appreciate it when someone thinks I’m in my 20’s.

Thanks to everyone for running these excellent events!  I had fun, as always, and look forward to seeing everyone again.

A Few Dwarfs

Here are a few Dwarfs that Martine painted.  It’s a fine job for an 8 year old just learning to paint.  They’re comparable quality to some I bought already painted at Legions.  It was a good lesson in dry brushing.  The fact that she got them done in one night is a bonus.

Eventually I’ll base them for Hordes of the Things.  Maybe she’ll want to paint the rest of the army as well.

GW Dwarfs painted by Martine

Endor Bunker

I needed a stronghold for my Battle of Endor matched pair of armies for Hordes of the Things, so I made the obvious choice: the bunker that the rebels assaulted and then defended from an Imperial counterattack.  With a bit of imagination it’s usable by both sides, and it’s pretty much the only thing attached to the surface of Endor that isn’t a tree.

Here’s a Work in Progress shot showing the basic construction.  The main building is cut on the band saw from white foam.  I cut three pieces at the right angles, and glued them back together.  The roof is two pieces of foam core, and it’s on a masonite base.

Next, I cut the door and vent-like shapes out of cardstock and glued them to the foam.  On the roof I added some details made of some washers and bases I had lying around.

I measured a toy playset to get the dimensions of this, which may have been a bit of a mistake.  The actual bunker had side walls that angled back into the hillside instead of a 90 degree angle.  So, this isn’t perfect, but it’s easier to transport.

Also of note: stacking heavy books on foam squishes it.  Who knew.  It’s a bit lopsided because of this, but the more obvious defects problems where the cardstock details buckled.

Hordes of the Things army: Die in a Fire

David Kuijt and Dave Schlanger threw down the gauntlet before Fall-In: Paint up 48 points of Hordes of the Things in time for Cold Wars, and they’ll have a matched enemy to fight against it. 

Well, I already had a bunch of prepainted D&D fire elemental (and related) figures I planned to build into a HOTT army, so why not do that?  At Cold Wars we played a 72 point Fire vs. Ice battle, and lost, so this project has turned into a grudge match.

Here is the army so far.  I may augment it if I get additional figures for Christmas, which would push it up to 72 points.

The bases are laser cut masonite, with chunks of broken plaster attached using paintable transparent silicone caulk. I built up enough caulk to swirl into a lava texture, and placed the rocks so that on each base, the miniatures would be appropriately either standing on a rock or emerging from the lava.

The lava colors were painted starting with white, then yellow, wet brushed orange and dark orange, and then over the black I applied dark red and grey on top.  Fire is brighter where it’s hotter, in the center, and darker at the edges where it’s cooler, so you end up using the reverse order for shading.  Adding a lighter color over the black can make it lit from below in some places.

The only concern I have about this army is its durability.  The figures mounted on lava are likely to pull the paint off and break off, because I didn’t strengthen the plaster with anything before I painted it.  I’ll just bring lots of superglue and touch them up when I’m finished.

In the center is a Fire Titan (behemoth).  On the right, a magician, and on the left is an Immoleth, which I’ll use either as a God or deep warband (using WADBAG’s excellent variant rules for deep spear and deep warband).

All of the figures shown here are D&D miniatures, except for the Mage Knight figures shown here and the dragon below. There would be a lot more army potential in MK figures if more of them were as good as these.  On the left and right are blades and in the center is an aerial hero.  It’s not very visible from this perspective, but the flame guys on the left are flaming skeletons.

The fire elementals on the left are warbands, and the Azer Fighters and Raiders on the right are blades.  Some of the Azers are repaints of ther crappy model, done to match the not-crappy Azer.

The Magmins on the left and right are lurkers.  The Flame Salamander will be either a beast or a deep warband (they have the same depth).  

 Here are two fliers on the ends, and either a flier or an aerial hero in the center.  As you can see, when I originally purchased my figures I didn’t consider how I was going to base them, so I have a few mismatched bases that I don’t prefer.  Clearly it means I just need more figures…

In the center is the impetus for building this army in the first place: a phoenix I bought at Michael’s crafts.  It’ll be a dragon in HOTT.  On the ends are large flame elementals, deep warbands.