at Home and On Campaign

at Home and On Campaign

24 October 2016

Project Iowa, Ep. 2: “Blood In the Sand”

The Kingdom of Colores has purchased an advanced warp engine and related parts from the Rex-Avis Trading Clan from the Tartarus Rim. This advanced technology originates from the Dwarf worlds, and as such is proscribed in Imperial Space.  Both Rex-Avis and Colores have taken every precaution to maintain the secrecy of the transaction, and the delivery of the warp engine is taking place in remote space at a secret Colores Facility.

As we pick up the story, most of the deal has been completed. However, the “Warp Space Imploder” is a high risk component of the engine, so the principals have traveled to an abandoned Imperial facility on a nearby moon for trials and final verification of the Imploder to complete their business.

The members of the Rex-Avis Clan and the scientific team from Colores have gotten along well, the transaction is going smoothly, and they are all looking forward to concluding the deal.

Agents of the 4th Reich have different plans.

Plain of Loneliness
Bakkun Moon

The game was a tryout for the “Void Pirates” ruleset.
The Colores/Rex-Avis Operatives are patrolling the perimeter and will be placed randomly.  The Reich Grenadiers will arrive from the North and East of the Map.

There are 3 objectives. The Reich will try to grab them and get onboard a getaway APC that will arrive to aid their escape:

The Warp Space Imploder
Professor Applebeck

The Rex-Avis Clan Notables
a.       Livinia January “Colordao” Rex-Avis
b.      Sir Stanley Ursaline-Drakemore
c.       Olympia Sable Rex-Avis

Rex-Avis / Colores Operatives
Agent Sophie –  Hero 5D/5D(3)
Blake Walters – Shooter 6D(3)/4D
AJ Quest – Shooter 6D(3)/4D
Katherine "Kitty" Luong – Stealth, Fast 5D/5D(2)

4th Reich, Smash and Grab Team
Kommander Schaklow– Hero 5D(3)/5D
UO Wulf – Shooter 6D(3)/4D
Panzer Grenadier 1- Trooper 5D/4D
Panzer Grenadier 2- Trooper 5D/4D
Panzer Grenadier 3- Trooper 5D/4D

 The Map
The objectives, the Imploder, Prof, Applebeck, and leaders of Rex-Avis are running the final tests to determine the state of the Warp Space Imploder.  They are scattered around an abandoned manufacturing facility when the 4th Reich makes an appearance.

Blake (Bodyguard, Rex-Avis)
“We’ve got company!
Blake faces off against 3 Grenadiers at almost point blank range.  Everyone is hit, but Kitty leaps in and turns the tide.

On the north side of the map, Agent Sophie squares off against Kmdr Schaklow, and although he gets the first shots in…
He cannot stand against the furious charge and goes down.

AJ Quest guns down UO Wulf, but all the maneuvering has opened a hole in the security screen.  One of the Grenadiers slips through and makes it onto the observation platform.
 Agent Sophie’s aim is disrupted by the charging Reich APC getting to the base of the platform.

The Grenadier uses the Rex-Avis Leaders as human shields as he herds them toward the getaway APC, but AJ Quest climbs on top of a forklift (skillcheck!) for a better angle.

...AJ takes the clutch shot and downs the Grenadier.
(Although, Colorado, Sir Stanley, and Olympia could use a change of clothes.)

Realizing that more powerful forces were certainly on their way, Colores and Rex-Avis decamped immediately.  The good news was that all were safe, and the Warp Imploder functioned perfectly.
The bad news is, that despite all their precautions, the secret's out.

Can they get Project Iowa completed before the enemy closes in?

So, this was delayed by the bright and shiny distraction of NEW RULES! I was over at Cheetor's cool blog, Cheetor's Blog, and he had a battle report using the "Void Pirates" rules.  I was so impressed that I bought and downloaded them immediately. After trying them out, I just had to rework this episode.

The rules are a lot of fun. A little too fiddly for my tastes, but it's easily fixed as everything is kind of "drop in", so you can sprinkle complexity to taste.  For comparison, think the SOBH family.  It plays fast, fun, and bloody. Opposed roles for combat keep both players  involved. I highly recommend Void Pirates (LINK: FOUR COLOR STUDIOS).

2 more missions over here, and then the action will shift over to the Tartarus Rim.

Welcome to our new readers:
Tiny Basement
Generalissimo Forde
and Tim Edwards

Thanks for looking!

09 October 2016

Project Iowa: Episode 1, “New Friends from the Tartaus Rim”

It's time to return to our friends in Sector Six, the Kingdom of Colores. Joining us are some adventurers of the Rex-Avis Clan from the Tartaus Rim covered by "the Composer's" excellent blog. Link: HERE

Deep Space, approaching a Kingdom of Colores secret facility, 
on board the Rex-Avis Clan Trading Ship (RACT) ”Enhance”
Livinia January "Colorado" Rex-Avis
The reputation of our customer is pretty high for once, but this Tachyon Imploder and the schematics are on the Imperial proscribed technology list.  That puts this job right back into the “high risk” category. What is your opinion, Sir Stanley?

Sir Stanley Ursaline-Drakemore
The Colores scientists know the risks as well as we do.  The price is right, and I’m sure they are taking all the precautions they can from their end.  We should be ok.

Next Location
Observation and Conference Deck, KCS Passereaux
Kingdom of Colores Secret Facility, Project Iowa 
Professor Applebeck
Project Iowa will not be successful without this technology.  The ship is simply too large to enter warpspace with our current powerplant capabilities.

Agent Sophie
I understand Professor.  This Clan has a reputation for straight dealing and discretion. My team and I will be with you and the Jokero, Centian, all the way.

Undetected Orbit
Inquisitorial Black Ship “Heretic’s Bane”
4th Reich Agent Helga Wolfsbane
Now that you have seen the request for landing from the “Enhance”, that should confirm the intelligence I have shared with you.  The Kingdom of Colores is attempting to obtain illicit technology on your proscribed list.

Inquisitor Guimar
Yes, I agree. And since the technology is on data slates we must act quickly.

Guimar activates the ship’s intercom…
Pilot! Prepare the ship for landing!

26 September 2016

Urban Renewal, Sector Six Style

I’ve been a little busy over the past couple of weeks rebuilding and touching up the city terrain for my gaming club.  It’s been somewhat of a chore, but I can hardly complain, as I managed to volunteer myself for the job.

I modified our existing templates to block true LOS, and I added some smaller pieces for variety. Also, I dug out the old GW paper city mat and donated it. I have a couple more buildings to go, and then this project is complete.

06 September 2016

"Third Shift", A Review of Miniature Scenery's Large Forklift

Mutt kicked the track on the broken forklift. He and Jeff were tired.  Just because this was the second time they had been caught using the forklift for their own little “side business”, the Foreman didn’t need to stick them with the graveyard shift. Worse, that fluid cooling unit was only 2 tons over the weight limit, the stupid lift should have been able to handle it.  It’s not their fault. Why should they have to spend an extra unpaid shift fixing it?

This really cool little scenic item came from in Australia. I like a whole lot of stuff on their website, and I ordered this forklift as a test purchase.

The price was right and shipping took about 10 business days, which considering it came from the other side of the planet, is not bad at all.

Overall, my purchasing and shipping experience was very good, but I do have a quibble or two. The checkout functionality was old tech and clunky, the policy for shipping charges was not clear at all and there was no package tracking option. BUT, I would like to emphasize again, these are quibbles, the product was great and arrived in a reasonable amount of time without incident.

What do I think of the model?
It’s great.  It would be nifty regardless, but considering this began as a flatpack sheet of MDF with laser cuts, it is just awesome.
...and when I saw it was powered by a radial aircraft engine on the back...

I consider my test purchase a major success, and I will return to Miniature Scenery and buy more stuff from them.

30 August 2016

The Ultio Expedition: Ep 6, The Fight for Ankori Colony and Event Report

Pack a lunch folks.  This post is huge! There's the story and then the behind the curtain description of
23rd Armored Cavalry War Diary
1st Division / 290th Combined Task Force
(Spc Bont, Reporting)

This is the official chronicle of Alpha Troop, 23rd Armored Cavalry for the Ultio Expedition. While this chronicle includes some information about the participation of other units of the 290th Combined Task Force, it is limited to providing context to the actions of the 23rd. It is certainly not complete and may possibly be inaccurate in some respects. Please refer to the relevant Imperial or Kingdom of Colores documents for more information about the larger campaign.

Ankori Colony, Ultio System

The  23rd Cav, debarked unopposed on Ankori Colony.  We were quickly reunited with the other 2 units of the 1st Division, a force of Grey Knights under XXXX and Strike Force Gallia Aquitania of the Ultramarines commanded by Captain Constantine.

Fighting was already heavy for the local forces, and after a quick conference with 290th High Command, the Divisions were assigned in the following manner:

1st Division (Our Assignment)
There is a team of scientists whose knowledge of the Warp Anomalies is critical to the war effort. Transit to the research complex, rescue the scientists, and return.

2nd Division   
Attack the through the Warp Anomaly to Lost Hope and establish a beachhead on the Chaos Homeworld

3rd Division
Proceed to the Ankori capital, industrial sector.  The local forces are being pushed back.   Restore the situation, and if possible go to the offensive.

Mission 1: Recover the Warp Anomaly Research Team
Speed was critical so the plan was made on the move to the battlefield.  We would be approaching the complex from the south, and from the recon of the 141st Strike Wing, the enemy would arrive almost the same time from the north.

The Grey Knights would be responsible for recovering personnel from the western building,

and the Ultramarines would do the same for the eastern building.

The 23rd Cav would form a fire support line and cover the operation. The close combat battle inside the buildings was screened from the 23rd view, so the mission became fire interdiction to keep the Chaos units from accessing the doors.

The 23rd Cav was successful on the western side in inflicting huge casualties on the enemy infantry and Maj Guiscard’s personal Punisher vehicle killed a large demon, referred to as a “Bloodthirster” among Imperial units.

On the eastern side, the Vanquisher Platoon failed to destroy 2 enemy tanks, resulting in heavy casualties among the Ultramarines.

Mission Tally
Although only 3 Scientists were recovered, this included Senior Scientist Longinuius. This was a marginal success.
Losses from the 23rd were 2 Punishers.

Strategic Picture
2nd Division was pushed back through the Warp Anomalies
3rd Division stopped the Chaos advance

Mission 2: Breakthrough
Following the 3rd Division’s victory in the Ankori capital, the 1st Division was assigned to open a breakthrough corridor. 

The 23rd Cav executed a screening mission on the “left” of the battleline, while the other elements of the 1st Division attempted to attack through the city and open a corridor for successive units to exploit.
Urban fighting is not the preferred environment of a Tank force, and the mission for the 23rd was a difficult one. The Troop undertook a fighting withdrawal from an enemy force that was composed of extremely powerful, but slow moving, constructs. It was almost impossible to inflict casualties on the enemy constructs, but as long as we could keep our distance, we were safe.  When close, they were deadly, as we learned at great cost.

Mission Tally
4 Punishers and the Recovery Vehicle were lost.

Strategic Picture
2nd Division was successful in retaking the lab complex
3rd Division results were unknown at the time of this writing

Mission 3: Evacuate Civilians
Due to all of the fighting with the enemy around Ankori Prime, the fabric of reality began to tear and fray. The city was becoming toxic to humans above and beyond the already  extreme danger of an active combat zone.  The order came down to aid civilians fleeing the city.

Again the 23rd found itself in a dense urban environment.  This time however, the tanks were protected by the close proximity of space marines and the firepower of vehicle mounted heavy weapons was used to full effect.

The 23rd set a free fire lane the length of South Avenue. The enemy was swept clean,

but by the third wave, the holes to warpspace were too numerous and large…

Mission Tally
While some civilians escaped, far too many were lost to the battle and the enemy.
2 Punishers were lost

Strategic Picture
2nd Division failed to hold a Warp Projector
3rd Division was successful in establishing a beachhead on Lost Hope

Mission 4: Defend the Warp Projectors
The establishment of a beachhead on Lost Hope by 3rd Division was a major victory. However, with the loss of one of the few Warp Projectors to breach and stabilize warpspace passage, our hold on the Lost Hope beachhead was tenuous. As the 2nd Division passed through to Lost Hope to relentlessly continue our attack, it fell to the 1st Division to defend the last Warp Projector.

The enemy’s approach to the facility was long, but had good cover through a scattering of worker slums.

The 23rd established a gunline to engage the enemy at max range and through the course of the engagement, fell back into the main complex.

As the enemy closed to close combat range, elements of the 23rd were overrun, but the attack on the facility was thwarted.

Mission Tally
5 Punishers Lost, including the Command Tank (Maj Gusicard wounded)
Warp Projector Facility Held

Strategic Picture
2nd Division expanded the foothold on Lost Hope
3rd Division completed civilian evacuation of the Ankori capital city

The 23rd Cav (with the support 141st Strike Wing) was an essential component of the 290th Combined Task Force and vital to the success of the forces of civilization.  The 23rd Cav was withdrawn with the 290th after fresh Imperial formations arrived.  Major Guiscard will recover from his wounds.

The war for the Ultio System continues.

Apologies, but there is simply too much to describe and too many people to thank for this incredible weekend to do the event description justice.

Having said that...
Let me thank the Narrative Guys
That is Glenn Boswell on the left and Dan Grandquist on the right. They (and their crew!) ran the most fun and interesting miniature event I have ever participated in. (Hmmm, that sounds really milquetoast... apologies again, I feel I must toot my own horn a little to boost the magnitude of my praise here. These days, I am simply "that guy" who organizes campaigns for my club, but I started going to Historicon way back in 1992 and playing/running all kinds of events right from that starting point.  I ran events professionally for my own store around 2001 and then finally for Games Workshop in the US for a couple of years. I ran the first miniature event on the Battleship Texas and I am the only employee ever to run an event that was featured in the New York Times. "Warhammer: Painted Armies, Tabletop Battles", February 15, 2005, Arts and Entertainment section, page 1. I am quoted by name on page 2 of the article, look it up)

I'm not explaining all this to claim I know what I'm doing any more than anyone else (trust me, there's a mountain of evidence to the contrary), but I've seen a lot. So when I write, "the most fun and interesting miniature event I have ever participated in", I mean


The dry mechanics of the event are thus:

1. There is a back story that sets the stage (see the previous Ultio posts)
2. There is an online map campaign that begins about a month before the event and these results set the boundaries for what is at stake and what is possible from the back story going into the event.
3. There are 4 battles of 3v3 players over 2 days for the event, and each battle begins with a briefing of what each side is trying to accomplish for that round based on success or failure from previous round. And there is a 1v1 Narrative event running in parallel that contributes to the story as well.

The Briefings:

These guys give a back story and big picture before every round of games, and they take the time to explain that each player is responsible for eveyone's fun. And if at a table of six players you cannot spot the guy who is violating that rule....
....take a look in the mirror and do a quick check

The "Hounds of Abbadon" and the "290th Combined Task Force" get together for a post DEATH WAR AND CARNAGE picture (BTW, those "Hounds" are some of the best people I have ever rolled dice with!

So, thanks to our Opponents:
Josh and

You were all gentleman and women and thanks for all the games!

On the side I played with, our club membership managed to put a team of 9 players called the "290th Combined Task Force", to face off against an established group of 9 Chaos players (seen above) called the "Hounds of Abbadon". Now, when we first heard, "established team"  a little paranoia took over and we all individually started thinking about strategies and army lists, and ...and ....and .... and then we took a breath.

After some communication (one of the many things at which Dan and Glenn EXCEL) and some feedback on list construction, we homed in on the spirit of the thing and built lists with stories and names and the things we thought were cool.

If you ever get to go to one of these, throw away any concerns about power lists, and bring the list you want, full of heroes ready for a desperate battle for civilization. DON'T PLAN! No really, just let go. Spend the energy enhancing your army as a vehicle for the story.

The 290th held no strategy meetings. The most planning we did was to split ourselves into 3 "Divisions" of 3 players, and even that was mostly pre-ordained because we had 2 father/son pairs and some established gaming buddies. (Now that I think about it, we did more planning around getting an order of custom made "club dice" that had little Texas flags with "290" in the white field in place of the 6)  During the online pre-campaign we didn't even email each other about where to attack or concentrate our efforts.  Anarchy sorted it all out, and by the time of the event, the battle lines all organically made sense. (ironically, a nice example of applied Chaos theory)

Of our 9 players, 3 had never played in an organized event, and 3 others had only started playing again during the past year after long absences (I was one of them). Over 60% of our overall team was inexperienced in the current rule set. OTOH, we got a big rules knowledge boost by playing all those games during the online campaign.  (Further evidence of the sneaky machinations by Dan and Glenn to make a better event)

But my FAVORITE part is that only one of our 9 players had a Chaos Marine codex, and none of us could even remember playing against Chaos Demons. We went in almost totally blind about our designated enemies.

How desperate does humanity have to be to rely on these guys? Seriously...

Left to Right
Robert, Me, JR. Derek, Colin, Jonathan, Nathan, David and Gerry

If you're an Oldhammer guy, it has the whiff of "Stillmania".  If you don't get the reference, this post is going to be long enough, follow this link to airbornegove26's excellent blog:
He is a Stillmania FANATIC and even has an interview with former White Dwarf / GW guy Nigel Stillman himself about the philosophy.

The TL:DR version is
1. Build a list that fits the background (resist all temptations of gameyness)
2. NEVER Change... practice with that list
3. The only surprises any opponent should ever have from you is your tactical deployment and moves
4. Then the victories all belong to you

Thanks to all my fellow gamers for the recognition. I won the Grand Prize!

... and lastly, (and most importantly to me!) thanks to all of you for making the experience so great for the younger players.

This handsome guy is mine (luckily, he gets his looks and brains from his mother)

He still hasn't stopped chewing Mom's ear off three days later.

24 August 2016

The Ultio Expedition: Ep.5, ON TO ULTIO!

290th Final Embarkation
Muraleous System
Forward Staging Base Fury

The Kingdom of Colores contingent is in the final staging area.  The 23rd Cav is currently transferring from bulk cargo freighters to the assault transports.

The 141st Strike Wing with the 7th Frontier Fleet is covering the embarkation from orbit.

Major Guiscard's Command Tank is the last aboard, ensuring it will be the first to hit the ground to face the enemy. And to the shock of everyone, his tank is flying the banner of the 290th's predecessor and parent, the original and legendary 77th CTF (see LINK).  Those colors have been cased for a decade, and since the death of one of its founding commanders, Admiral "Crash" King (see LINK), no one thought they would fly again.
This is the largest deployment of troops in Sector Six since those heady days.
The flag flies.  The men go wild...
The 290th Combined Task Force will arrive in the battlespace in approximately 24 hours.

24 hours and I'll be in Austin with my boy for Wargamescon and the Narrative Team Event!

21 August 2016

The Ultio Expedition: Ep.4, Ankori Colony

As a run up to the Narrative Event at WargamesCon, the Narrative Guys are running an online campaign for the participants.  It is interesting because the two main factions, the 290 Combined Task Force (us) and the Hounds of Abbadon (them) live far apart.  So our confrontation is indirect. Our games on the table must be played against members of our own side with one player representing the opposition. For the 290th, we don't decide who is representing the opposition until the game is over, and then we randomly dice for each side. It removes any temptation to hold back while playing the bad guys.  You don't know if you are the bad guys until the win/loss is determined. It reminds me of the "America's Army videogame.  Every player sees themselves as the Americans and the opposition as the terrorists/mafia/ badguys.

The campaign objective is to control the Warp Anomalies. Control of a Warp Anomaly is established by occupying all of the surrounding hexes.

After a couple of weeks of battle, the map looks like this:
I can't possibly report on all the battles, but I can tell you that our guys have played and reported battles from all over Houston: our FLGS Goldmine Games, our clubhouse, our houses, and the Bayou Battles game convention last weekend.

Here are some beauty shots:

Bayou Battles

the Dark Mechanicus are even coming in from the ceiling!

Thanks for looking!