Sunday, October 29, 2017

Top 8 Reasons the Chronomancer is Best

Today we have another Frostgrave bit, because this is my jam right now.  Of all the wizards, you can deviate a lot with the models in the Chronomancer warband.  I've collected a bunch of different models from across several ranges, and I hope after painting they look like they belong to the same warband...but that's the point with the Chronomancer.  You can have stuff from all over the timeline, and since we don't really know that much about it let's just assume the timeline has whatever we need.

Time is just a machine planning to kill you.
Inspirobot knows what is in store for mankind.
Strangely, I haven't had much opportunity to see the Chronomancer in action.  Only one player brought one during the last campaign I played, and he was shut out pretty quickly.  I don't think that reflects on the caster, more like bad luck.  You all know how many (1)'s I roll.

That's just how I roll.

The aligned schools for the Chronomancer are Necromancer, Soothsayer and Elementalist.  The opposed school is Enchanter.  Now let's look at the bag of tricks the Timeriders bring...

Top 8 Reasons Chronomancer is Best!
  1. Crumble
    • It's a situational spell, but applications are quite useful.  Make a door to go through, or make a hole to fall through.  If you're inventive and use the terrain, you can use this to both attack the enemy and protect your own models.
  2. Decay
    • A powerful defensive spell you should use on heavy soldiers first, like Infantrymen and Templars.  This can easily turn a fight in your favor.
  3. Fast Act
    • The Chronomancer requires some finesse to make the best use of his spells, but this can be a nasty surprise for your enemy, especially late in the game.
  4. Fleet Feet
    • Great passive bonus for your soldiers who need to grab the goods.  A round or two and your spellcasters can create a big speed difference between the warbands.  A staple.
  5. Petrify
    • One of the most annoying spells ever, especially when it's leveled.  The target can still resist, but combinations of spells over the course of the game can really widen the gap between the warbands.  Taking actions away with this, even if it's resisted a few times, can cost your enemy the game when it comes down to the wire.
  6. Slow
    • Unlike Petrify, the target can still act...just not much.  If used on a model with low Will, it can persist for quite some time and add up those stolen actions.
  7. Time Store
    • can be super-fast in a burst of speed, taking 3 actions in a turn.  Combine with Fast Act for a sad opponent.
  8. Time Walk
    • More dangerous to attempt than Time Store, the benefit is also slightly better, allowing for a total of four actions over the course of the turn.  This is an awesome spell, but probably not something you want to cast until you've spent several levels on it.  However, after that - it will be a staple in the repertoire of the high level Chronomancer.
This one is hard for me, since I've not really played with many of these spells.  I have seen them in use, but the possible combinations are intriguing.  If it were me, I'd probably take Fleet Feet, Decay and Fast Act.  In the early campaign, you're going to have to fight for your supper and those spells will make it easier until you start to uncover more magic in the Frozen City.

For soldiers, Knights and Warhounds will even the odds as far as hand to hand goes.  I found a nice model for a Crow Master, and a really cool Bones model for the Assassin.  A Treasure Hunter will be the recipient of a Fleet Feet spell right off the bat and will make for a great chest-grabber.

Locked wooden and metal chests full of treasure, for clarification.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Storm King's Thunder: Prepare to Die Edition [Part 2]

Storm King's Thunder: Prepare to Die Edition
*Updated 10/27/2017*

Warning:  SPOILERS ahead for Storm King's Thunder.

View Campaign Page.

2.1 Triboar 

The party descends the cloud staircase from Zephyros' Tower, and makes their way into the town of Triboar.  Supposedly named after some guy in the olden days managed to kill three boars in one day nearby, the town is an agricultural community surrounded by farms and ranches.  The players remember that the ex-husband of the proprietor of the Lion's Share in Triboar perished in the attack on Nightstone, and find the shop right away to give her the bad news.

The players explore the town and meet various characters, including Narth Tezrin, who helps run the Lion's Share.  Ghelryn Foehammer is the crotchety dwarf smith from down the road, and Urgala Meltimer from the North Shield House, a respectable inn.  Othovir is the town harness maker but doesn't have much to say, and Darz Helgar is the creepy dude who rakes turds from yards.  After learning all this, the party makes arrangements to stay at the North Shield House, then immediately go to the nearest bar with a hole in the roof.

2.2 Attack on Triboar 

Suddenly, the town erupts in a great panic.  Sweeping forth from the northeast is a force of orcs, lead by two fire giants.  Orcs riding axebeaks sweep into town ahead of two squads of magmins and a group of orogs.  The axebeaks wreak havoc on the town, whose guards the Lord Protector had just dispatched to deal with threats out on the countryside.  Undefended, the town began to burn as the magmins began to torch fields and buildings.

The characters are unhappy with this, and Niv attracts the attention of one of the giants.  This earns him a boulder, which prompts his retreat from the battlefield for a few moments.  Total chaos breaks out as the town and adventurers rally to the defense.

The giants were after something, and seemed to follow some sort of magical divining rod into town to begin digging in the middle of Darz' field.  A bloody fight with orogs and the giants ensue, during which time Softhands disrupts their digging by dropping a darkness upon the dig site.  Starman gets everyone back in the fight, and in a torrent of rage, magic and dirty tricks the defenders of Triboar (incredibly) manage to kill the two giants and disperse the orc raiding party.

Afterward, the hole the giants were digging was found to contain a strange piece of manufactured adamantite about eleven feet long, almost free from the ground.

Return to Storm King's Thunder: Prepare to Die Edition?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Top 8 Reasons the Illusionist is Best

The things we find beautiful are just the mistakes of Toxoplasmosis.
Inspirobot will help you cut through the delusions.
I've already collected a lot of miniatures that I've set aside for Frostgrave.  When I first started, I didn't intend to do every wizard as a full warband but as the Bones rolled in it became apparent that I could.  So I did.

I still have my eye on the official Frostgrave models, which came out later.  So I've moved some minis around to make room for Soldiers, Barbarians and Cultists, but it's still going to be a hundred models (not including bestiary or terrain).  However, that hundred models will be a blast to paint, as it will be more about painting characters than troopers.

For the Illusionist, I had some Bones models that I happened to have the corresponding translucents for.  Wizard, Apprentice and Captain.  Woot.  Now I can annoy my opponents with Invisibility.

My first wizard in any campaign was an Illusionist, and I had a lot of fun playing him as a scoundrel.  He's dead.  Still cool though.  The aligned schools for the Illusionist are Soothsayer,  Sigilist and Thaumaturge.  The neutral schools are Necromancer, Witch, Chronomancer, Summoner and Enchanter; the opposed school is Elementalist.  Interestingly, Illusionists are also known as Conjurors (along with many other derisive epithets).

Top 8 Reasons the Illusionist is Best!
  1. Beauty
    • This can actually cause a lot of disruption in the enemy battle line, especially if they've got a mean crush on (for) your wizard.  It won't work every time, but if you're being attacked by several enemies it can cause them to look stupid for a moment.
  2. Fool's Gold
    • This is an interesting spell you'll have to play with to get some true use out of.  When they get wise to your spell, try placing a REAL treasure well out of the way and send someone quick to go get it when your enemy is committed to the larger concentrations elsewhere on the board.
  3. Glow
    • Like most Illusionist spells, this is a solid support spell.  If your enemy forms a strong battle line, you may have to answer it in kind - and this can really turn the tide for your soldiers as +3 isn't a meagre bonus!
  4. Illusionary Soldier
    • Cast before every battle if you have nothing else to cast.  You have a good range of choice here, but remember the illusions aren't nearly as hardy as their corporeal counterparts and can't really do much.  But still.
  5. Invisibility
    • A staple for the Illusionist.  It has a great many applications, from approaching combat to escaping it.
  6. Monstrous Form
    • At first glance, this is very similar to Beauty but has a totally different effect.  It's good for getting enemies to move away from you, and even stopping a beatdown in progress.  However, it doesn't protect you from missiles or cause them to lose actions - but it's a better protection vs. melee.
  7. Teleport
    • Again, indispensable, no matter what school of wizardry you study.  It's a staple, and can't be ignored.
  8. Transpose
    • Slightly harder to cast successfully, Transpose can be used both offensively and defensively.  The ability to move ANY models is far out, but if used on the enemy there could be multiple Will rolls to resist.  That said, a successfully cast Transpose can really foul up enemy wizards and their plans.
Honestly, there's a lot of good stuff there...but remember you're starting at Level 1 and your apprentice can barely cast anything.  For my first three spells, I'm going with Glow, Invisibility and Teleport.  My wizard and her apprentice carry bows, and daggers as well, so I'll supplement the Glow advantage with other augmentation spells like Combat Awareness from the Soothsayer school.

I've also selected soldiers with higher move rates, and intend to run this warband like a team of thieves and rogues.  If at all possible, avoid combat and fire missiles with Archers while Thieves and Treasure Hunters grab the loot.  In and off the board in a hurry!!  Though I know combat can't be entirely avoided, it will be fun to see how this plays on the tabletop.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Top 5 Reasons Star Wars Armada Deserves Your Attention

Armada players in their native environment.
The test monkeys discover the hidden camera.
For years and years, Star Wars had been kind of a stale thing.  Like, since BEFORE the prequels, for those of you that remember.  It was X-Wing that got me back on the Star Wars hype train, and the Force Awakens trailer made me cry.  Before I saw it, of course.

Either way, I've always been a Star Wars fan, and I finally just accepted it a few years ago.  I finally saw how hard it was to have lived with that denial all my life.  My 'movie' was Return of the Jedi, and I was four years old when it came out.  I remember watching it on laserdisc in 1984 or something.  It made an impression, and I've had a lightsaber in my heart almost my entire life.  Figuratively.

#5 - Star Wars & FFG

Fantasy Flight Games must be commended on their Star Wars lines.  They dovetail nicely with each other and hit all the major beats - ship to ship combat at fighter and fleet scales, several RPG's covering facets of the universe, card games, board games and an upcoming miniatures wargame, Star Wars: Legion.

You can wage war at every level in the same universe, a feat that has only been matched by a few franchises.  Star Wars has never matched this impetus before, but now it's a cornerstone (or should be) of every gaming club.  Kudos to FFG, you knocked it out of the park.

#4 - More Complex Mechanics

Veteran gamers will enjoy the depth of the system, while simultaneously realizing it's not as complex as some other systems.  The mechanics are MORE complex, than say X-Wing, but not TOO complex to put off newcomers.  This gives Armada an appeal to a wider audience that goes beyond the Star Wars branding.

#3 - It's a Great Introduction to the Space Navy

Fleet-scale games require a little more imagination to get the most out of.  A lot of the movement and positioning has to be abstracted because of the sheer scale involved in the simulation, which is usually measured in kilometers.  To simulate the sluggishness of some ships, and the dependency upon support and distance, some different mechanics are utilized that might trip up some casual or X-Wing newcomers.  However, if you are introducing new players to different types of games all the time, Armada provides a quick jump off point to fleet scale space battles for newbies.  Everyone knows what a Star Destroyer is, and even if they aren't familiar with some of the ships or terminology if they are a budding gamer they'll quickly grasp the conventions and be able to take them along as they explore more complex rulesets.

#2 - Models & Dice

The models rock, end of story.  They are well-painted right out of the box, and you can have a ship ready to fight in a few minutes after purchasing it.  That alone is worth the price of admission.

However, the dice have got to be a selling point as well.  Many of us old-timers balked at having to use these colorful dice with strange symbols at first, but the novelty of them has grown on me.  These dice simplify the mechanics and playability by removing a lot of the math traditionally associated with combat calculations.

I think the dice mechanics, across all of FFG's Star Wars line, are the single most important thing that allows the games to attract and retain 'new' players, and by 'new' I mean brand new gamers.  The dice may have been off-putting at first, but they are colorful moving pieces whose symbols are easy to read and understand without any involved calculus or trigonometry.  Not that math is a bad thing.

#1 - Relative Snootiness

Yes.  It's a well known fact that if you play both Armada and X-Wing you are allowed to be snooty toward "X-Wing Only" plebes.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Top 5 Reasons X-Wing is Still Cool

So, I'm into Star Wars X-Wing.

Pish-posh, how does this belong on a miniatures wargames blog?  Well, the answer is self-evident - it's a wargame, with miniatures.  Realism aside.  We ARE playing Star Wars, after all.

Anyway, why should you care?

#5 - It's easy.

Like SO easy.  A few weeks after starting your collection you'll have a nice fleet, star mat, storage, yadda yadda.  Ok, so what I meant was it's easy to PLAY, to TEACH, and most of all to TRANSPORT.  So I guess really that's three reasons, but to me it's all the same.  You're welcome.

Star Wars X-Wing Rebel Fleet 2017
Rebels 2017

#4 - The Rebel Fleet

You need more X-Wings, alright cuz?  I always liked X-Wings - they are like, iconic or something.  Dead sexy, they are ... all in a formation and all...

Star Wars X-Wing Scum Fleet 2017
Scum 2017

#3 - The Scum Fleet

Really though, the entire scum fleet is sexier than the X-Wing.  I mean really.  Even that Y-Wing looks cool.  Also - turret squadrons rule.

Star Wars X-Wing Imperial Fleet 2017
Imperial 2017

#2 - The Imperial Fleet

Even my cat knows what a TIE fighter is and what it can do.  The quintessential villains of the Rebellion Era, the Galactic Empire is a freakshow of space nazi proportions destined to explode in nearly every game.  Every collection deserves a few handfuls.

#1 - Pew-Pew

By far the best reason to collect and play X-Wing is the fact that you now have a reason to make blaster and spaceship noises, so therefore do not need to make excuses anymore.  To anyone.  "The TIE itself entices one to vocalize."

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Top 4 Wargaming Genres

Engulfing inspiration creates your deeper self.
Inspirobot beckons you onward.
I'm keeping it real here.

In reality, you can break down setting genres and all the other stuff, but the truth is I have a lot of rulesets that I shuffle models between.  Sure, I collect a lot of models with specific games in mind, but I like models in general and sometimes get them because I like them.  As the lines between things blur, it's often better to compartmentalize.

For myself, I have organized all the genres, eras, scales and such into four easily discernible categories.  Yes, only four - despite all the little variations that will be contained within them.  This is really just to keep myself sane so I can easily find particular models and rules in my expansive collection, so don't take this as gospel.

It's just how things will be organized here for the time being.
  1. Historical
    • Any game set in the 19th Century or before, or a facsimile thereof.
  2. Modern
    • Any game set in the 20th or early 21st Centuries, or a facsimile thereof.
  3. Fantasy
    • Any historical setting with fantastic elements.
  4. Sci-Fi
    • Any modern setting with fantastic elements.

So, it's a little simplistic but it does the job.  All the games we're going to be playing with fall into one of those categories.  Further, the scale and setting does differentiate each game...but we'll get to that in due course.

Steampunk stuff will usually fall into fantasy, and Cthulhu horror will be Sci-Fi if it's set in the 20th century onward.  Dead Man's Hand is Historical, but Wild West Exodus is Fantasy.  Flames of War is Modern, but Konflikt '47 is Sci-Fi.  It's doesn't have thirty categories of games, but it fits all the subgenres neatly into these categories.  And if we can't have it nice and neat, do we really want it?

Storm King's Thunder: Prepare to Die Edition [Part 1]

*Updated 10/04/2017*

Warning:  SPOILERS ahead for Storm King's Thunder.

View Campaign Page.

1.1 Nightstone 

The characters arrive in Nightstone, a village just to the south of Waterdeep.  As they approach, they note there has been some damage to some of the buildings that they can see over the palisade.  Things get even more eerie as they see the drawbridge is open, and a sonorous bell can be heard ringing out over the platz.

As they enter the town,  they see large boulders embedded in the ground.  These seem to be the cause of the damage, as if they had somehow been launched at the city - though there was no sign of a siege.  With the streets empty, they investigate the temple.

Inside they find two rowdy goblins, swiftly dispatched.  With no trace or sign of people, they move towards the inn.  They encounter a young lady named Kella, and she's the only person at all in the town.  After rough housing with a few stray worgs and goblins that were wandering the empty town, newcomers arrive at Nightstone.

They are friends of Kella's, who also happen to be Zhentarim.

1.2 Orc Attack

One of the Zhents, Xolkin, is the obvious leader.  The Zhentarim's intentions for the now-empty Nightstone is to use it as a ready made fortified outpost.  The quickly set about securing the town.

After figuring the characters were 'all right', Xolkin gave them a task - deal with the guards holed up in Nandar Keep.  As the party is fixing a ladder to the bridge to Nandar Keep (apparently damaged in the rain of falling rocks), they notice a large group of orcs approaching the town...swimming across the moat.

It didn't take long for the orcs to figure out how to get into the town - by climbing up to the area where the bridge to Nandar Keep connected to the palisade.  The very one the party was standing on.  The fracas began with javelins and arrows, but the orc mob was huge.  Niv pushed the marauders back with a well-timed spell, and the party retreated to one of Nightstone's guard towers, where they managed to engage and destroy the orc warband.

1.3 Nandar Keep

The characters find another ladder to cross the bridge to Nandar Keep, the other ladder having been lost in the fight with the orc warband.  After crossing, the characters encounter the guards.  They tell the players what has happened - Lady Nandar is dead, so her offers of adventuring contracts are up in the air.

The party learns what happened to Nightstone - a floating castle came by and rocks fell from the sky.  Then two blue giants came down and took the Nightstone - the city's namesake, which sat in the middle of the village square.  Nobody knows why.

The party then tells the guards that Nightstone is lost, and the Zhents are moving in.  Naturally, this is not well received by the Nandar loyalists, who expel the party from the Keep.  This is enforced by 'warning shots' from the (now barred) gates.

The party spends the next few game hours plotting how to most efficiently murder all the Zhents before simply attacking Xolkin immediately the first time they encounter him.  As it turns out, all that plotting didn't really matter, and most of the Zhents die gruesome deaths - except the two in the drawbridge tower, who flee to the north.

With the guards in Nandar Keep giving them the hand to talk to, the players decide to seek out the villagers.  They learned from the guards that this was most likely where they went.

1.4 The Dripping Caves

The players follow the villager's tracks north to the large cave mouth, where Starman plays a beautiful tune just outside the door.  The ogre that was relaxing just inside thought that it provided a great opportunity to get a flowery lunch.  It surprised the party, and nearly killed Starman in the process.  The players dealt with the ogre and a few other goblins near the cave mouth.

Exploring inside, they are pelted with goblin arrows from ledges around the main chamber, and disturb a sleeping ogress who begins to fling things at them.  Berry made sure Starman was safe outside, and together with Softhands, Niv and Briar swiftly dispatched the remaining monsters.

The party finds the villagers huddled near a large pit in the back, and a warren of goblin non-combatants in the front.  It seems the monsters were keeping the villagers as a sort of larder, casually eating one every so often.  The villagers are quick to get out of the cave, thanking the adventurers for their handiwork.

Inside, the players find the goblin boss Hark and throw him to the villagers, who swiftly beat him to death.  Back in Nightstone, the party finds nothing of interest and decides to follow the trail of the cloud castle.

After a day, the party is greeted by a mysterious phenomenon.  A tower with a wizard's hat floats by on a cloud, and a stairway made of the puffy white material descends for them.  After climbing a thousand feet to the tower, they meet the cloud giant wizard Zephyros, who offers to help them along their way.

1.5 Zephyros' Tower

The players ride Northward upon Zephyros' floating tower.  Most of the time it's very peaceful, being among the clouds and drifting lazily through the sky, watching the griffons hunt.  The party camps in the lowest level of the tower, having no easy way to traverse the hundred feet to the second floor.

On the third day, representatives of Yan-C-Bin, the Prince of Air, arrive to entreat with Zephyros.  Zephyros took their gifts, and bid them wait while he considered their offer.  Many hours later, he emerged from his sanctuary and told the elemental cultists he wasn't interested and they should leave.  They left without much fuss.

On the tenth day, a silver dragon appeared in the sky.  It carried armored dwarves in its' claws, and dropped them in front of the tower before leaping back into the sky to deal with the griffons in the tower aerie.  The dwarves take gaseous form and infiltrate the tower, ignoring the party and going straight for the orb of navigation.  A short battle ensues, leaving Niv paralyzed and floating nearly 200 feet above the tower floor and one dwarf dead.  Starman finally seems to convince the dwarves they are acting in error, and the dragon collects them before leaving the tower.

Zephyros seems annoyed by this, but not overly.  He thanks the party for their help defending the tower and seems to have a general disdain for dragons.  The rest of the journey is peaceful and quiet, and midway through the 12th day of the journey the cloud tower rests just above the mercantile town of Triboar.

Return to Storm King's Thunder: Prepare to Die Edition?