Sunday, February 25, 2018

Top 8 Reasons the Summoner is Best

Demons of the Universe, come together for your common goal, full implementation of the metric system.
Inspirobot knows the proper incantations.
Calling your friends for help is always a good move, according to conventional wisdom.  It helps when those friends are super-powerful multi-dimensional creatures, as it tends to break the ice in social situations.  A tendency to associate folks with the company they keep is strong in most societies, so keeping the right multidimensional contacts on hand can declare a lot about where you stand on a multitude of issues right out of the gate.

Of course, the Summoner in Frostgrave doesn't have to hang out with the devils of Tartarus...but he can if he chooses.  The term 'demon' here, as in many contexts around the universe, simply describes multidimensional entities from what might be a variety of planes.  There's no limit to what can be used as your extraplanar associates, save that it basically breaks down to three categories:  imp, lesser demon and greater demon.  You'll want enough of both on hand so both your spellcasters can summon during the game!

The Summoner's associated schools are also rather aggressive.  You have Necromancer, Witch and Elementalist aligned, and Sigilist opposed.  This potential for summons and servants gives the Summoner a headstart in outnumbering the enemy warband!

Top 8 Reasons Summoner is Best!
  1. Bind Demon
    • A single spellcaster can only have one bound demon at a time - this rule is super important for summoners.  Use this spell to disrupt an opposing demon, should you encounter one - but only if your spellcaster hasn't already summoned one.  Also use this to regain control of your demon from anyone who manages to bind it away from you.  This is a basic spell for your Summoner.
  2. Imp
    • Summons an uncontrolled imp.  A spellcaster can only have one uncontrolled imp on the board at a time.  Make sure to drop these near the enemy, as they will attack the nearest target.
  3. Leap
    • Fantastic movement spell that lets you ignore terrain up to ten inches tall.  If you've got vertical terrain that high, it becomes even more useful.
  4. Plague of Insects
    • Hefty combat penalties are levied by this spell and it won't immediately go away.  Consider empowering this spell to decrease the likelihood of the target shrugging it off, because it will truly weigh down even the most powerful warriors.  Remember also, it's an area effect spell, so your closest troopers may be affected by it...unless it's a large target.
  5. Planar Tear
    • A minor attack that does serious damage to demons.  It is area effect, but it's limited use against...everything but demons limits use to engaging certain kinds of enemy wizards...namely, other Summoners or those that rely heavily on Summoner spells.
  6. Plane Walk
    • This spell is a limited use spell, but it's actually QUITE useful.  Use it to escape enemies, mostly.  However, Leap will get you further away on average.  What this spell does neatly is allow you place yourself anywhere around large combats without worry of being engaged.
  7. Possess
    • Puts one of your soldiers on 'roids for the rest of the game, but makes them vulnerable to Summoner magic that affects demons.  Use with caution, especially against enemy Summoners or Thaumaturges.
  8. Summon Demon
    • Bread and butter for the Summoner, this spell is used during the game to create a temporary ally.  Consider empowering this spell to get larger demons, as you'll have to pass your cast number by 13+ in order to summon a greater demon.  Each of your spellcasters can summon demons, though it counts as 'bound' (per the spell, Bind Demon).
Certainly, you can see the underlying strategy:  get as many threats as you can into play.  I heard somewhere that you can achieve 18+ minions during the game with the right spells, but I digress.  With Summon Demon, Imp and Bind Demon, you have the tools to have 14 (well, 12 and 2 extant threat) members in your warband and the tools to defend yourself from hostile spellcasters versed in the mysteries of summoning.

Summoned minions, however, don't have much in the way of missile weapons, so I suggest having a few to compensate.  Maybe more than a few.  You'll be wanting to stay far away from the wild imps raging around, after all.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Battletech & Mechwarrior

Far off, long ago, in another land, in another time, I got my first introduction to the Inner Sphere. We were in a small Missouri town, devoid of cool game stuff.  However, people liked to keep that old 'devil-worship' stuff in attics and other hidden places.  We found this out and started scouring attics across town for whatever game books we could find, and to our surprise we kept finding things people had hidden away and had absolutely no use for.  A friend of mine found a copy of Mechwarrior, 2nd Ed. in his mom's attic.  It belonged to his older brother, but as soon as we got ahold of it I don't think the older brother ever saw it again.

Battletech would come later.  I would already have experience with this type of game, as I was one of the only people to collect Renegade Legion at the time.  Battletech had 'mechs, though...and it caught on a little stronger in most folks' imaginations than the Renegades could at the time.

As an aside to tabletop gaming, my game group and I have no shortage of experience behind the controls of a virtual battlemech.  From Mechwarrior 2 all the way to Mechwarrior Online, battlemechs have been an enduring part of our gaming experience, even if they weren't always at the forefront.

Now, we're going to do something completely different.  We are going to the the Dark Age, a much maligned era of Battletech lore.  However, the very nature of the Dark Age makes it preferable to us, since we won't be using Battletech miniatures or rules exclusively.  We're going non-canon, but in a way that will fit in the canon.

Clan Jade Falcon elements approach to attack the Freeborn position...even if they are Clix.
 10mm games aren't quite as prevalent as games of other scales just yet, though in the last few years some have risen (and fallen), providing us with a lot more options at that scale.  In truth, I like a lot of stuff, but I decided that 10mm was a great place for giant robots in the pantheon of my collection.  With a Kickstarter's worth of C.A.V. models, I started looking around for rulesets to guide army creation.  I found a ton of cool games, including Horizon Wars and Tomorrow's War.  I decided I liked both of them, and they both work for 10mm quite pleasingly.

I still didn't have a narrative, though.

I found out that Mechwarrior: Dark Age was 10mm, just like the lines I had been collecting.  I wanted helicopters, and didn't have them already, so I hopped on Ebay and found a ton of cool VTOL aircraft in 10mm.  Yeah, they were clix...but so what?  When they arrived, I was quite satisfied...and decided to take a look at infantry.  Guess what?  I liked those too, and finally decided to take the plunge on some battlemechs.  Shortly after that, I decided I'd just play Battletech...or at least in the Inner Sphere, no matter the ruleset.

Steiner Stormhammer elements staging to repel the Clan attack...and no sign of debilitation due to clicky-ness.
I hadn't delved deeply into the lore of the Dark Age, honestly.  My time was spent during the 4th Succession War and Clan Invasion, and honestly that's where I feel most comfortable.  So, it's nice to actually get out of that comfort zone.  The Dark Age pretty much gives me carte blanche to do whatever I want with the story and / or units involved.  For the first time in a good long while, I actually am cranking up (what I think is) a cool setting and adventure / campaign.

Who cares what models you use?  It's the DARK AGE!  Is that a battlemech that 'doesn't exist' - or is it just one you never saw, that they made on a blind planet, one time, because they had to?  Who even cares?  I'm going to be putting some 10mm German troops on the board, painted as Steiners, so please suspend your disbelief.  The galaxy (i.e. The Inner Sphere) is HUGE.  Plenty of room for all kinds of stuff.

It's time to take back the Inner Sphere!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Rogue Star Wars: The Rebellion

So, we're gonna play Rogue Stars.  With Star Wars minis.  Today we'll be taking a look at a team created for the Rebellion during the Galactic Civil War.  We'll explore some Imperial-styled teams later on, but for now I've got to get my Rebellion in order.

Rogue Stars is a strange beast, so I'm going to walk you through how we made the squads for the scenarios we'll be running.  Other than the 200 XP you get to build your initial squad, there are a few things you get to pick independently to further define who they are and how they fight.  These are called 'Themes' and 'Tactical Disciplines'.

Themes decide which traits, equipment and other details your squad can initially start with.  Tactical disciplines grant a bonus or special feature to all members of the squad.  Together with buying equipment and traits for each model, this is how a squad is created in Rogue Stars.  One last thing - it's important to remember there are no flat stat-lines in Rogue Stars, so it's all down to how traits, equipment and special rules interact with one another.

For the first of the two scenario teams, I've decided to put together a team of Rebel Tech-Partisans.  These are a well-organized and equipped team of guerrilla fighters striking at the heart of the Empire from within, so I chose 'Militia' as the Theme.  This gives me access to a list of traits, as well as all Civilian and Military weapons.  The special requirement is that one character has the Veteran trait, and that's not an issue.

For the Tactical Discipline, I'm taking 'Only the Brave'.  This allows the squad to re-roll failed morale rolls, redoubling the resolve of the rebels.

Rebel Tech-Partisans (Militia)
Only the Brave
  • Captain Namus Vance (38)
    • Veteran, Marksman (3)
    • Kevlar & Assault Rifle
  • Duros Technician (38)
    • Perceptive (1) & Medic (2)
    • Kevlar, Refraction Field & Laser Pistol 
    • Medikit
  • Rebel Pathfinder (29)
    • Agile (3), Fast (2), Stealth (1)
    • Kevlar & Laser Pistol 
  • Rebel Commando (32)
    • Marksman (3)
    • Kevlar & Assault Rifle
  • Rebel Commando (32)
    • Marksman (3)
    • Kevlar & Assault Rifle
  • Bothan Commando (31)
    • Marksman (3)
    • Kevlar & Laser Rifle
  • 200 XP Total
The squad is based around the Marksmen, using their rifles.  I have included medical and scout specialists to widen the ability base here, but brute force reigns supreme.  These rebel scum will surprise an Imperial foe expecting them to melt away at the first sign of a fight.

Note that the 'Medikit' was actually omitted from the book but is available in an errata.  I opted to give him medical training and the medikit, so he can actually do his job.  Placing the medic in the fireteam will add to that resilience, making this rebellion team fairly dangerous despite the lack of armor.

Rebel Tech-Partisans, fresh from the Auzituck!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Top 8 Reasons Sigilist is Best

The truth doesn't have a conscience.
Inspirobot will destroy the lies.
Though it might seem strange to us laymen, it seems that there is a practicality to lugging around all your books everywhere you go.  Long have gamers lamented such, as DM's & TO's (Dungeon Masters & Tournament Organizers) have been forced to lug large libraries to gaming venues for decades.  Now, a wizard comes from the Frozen City to show us how to put all that parchment, paper and papyrus to good use - the Sigilist.

Scrolls, grimoires and quills.  Fortunately, the magic that comes from the mystic symbols scrawled therein doesn't necessarily need to be legibly read by everyone it's going to affect.  The Sigilist appreciates this nuance, as most folks in Frostgrave can't read so well.

The aligned schools for the Sigilist are Thaumaturge, Illusionist and Enchanter.  The opposed school is Summoner, so apparently evil symbols are hard to draw on paper.  That's probably why weekend cultists so rarely succeed at performing a summoning.

Top 8 Reasons Sigilist is best!
  1. Absorb Knowledge
    • Free XP, as long as your wizard doesn't get taken to 0.  Easy to cast, but can only be cast by a wizard out of game.  A solid choice, especially early in the campaign.
  2. Create Grimoire
    • Free money, but can only be cast by your wizard out of game.  Again, early in the campaign this can really put you ahead, and whether or not it's better than Absorb Knowledge really depends on how fast you're losing soldiers.
  3. Draining Word
    • One of the best debuff spells in the game actually targets a wizard's spell.  A single spell (the one you hate the most) becomes 3 points harder to cast, but this is indiscriminate and applies to your spellcasters as well.  The good news is, both wizard and apprentice can cast this spell, making it hard for opponents to rely on their best magics.
  4. Explosive Rune
    • A staple offensive spell, but rather hard to use.  It's a respectable +5 shooting attack, but obviously it's use is going to be restricted.  However, you can have three per spellcaster on the board if you take a few turns you can basically mine an area and deny a great deal of enemy movement.  
  5. Furious Quill
    • Another offensive staple for the Sigilist, this spell is more of a sustained curse than an actual attack.  However, while under attack by the quill, it will make soldiers much less effective all around.  Pair this with Draining Word and you can really make it hard for enemy spellcasters to cast their most powerful spells.
  6. Power Word
    • Like Draining Word, but with a bonus instead.  Avoid casting this for spells your opponent shares!  For that reason, this will probably be more situational later in the campaign when all the wizards have found more spells and share more than one or two.
  7. Push
    • One of my favorites, this spell is close to being the most useful one in the game.  Any spellcaster can do with this spell - it has the potential to really upset your opponent's strategy!  Of course, it doesn't do damage unless whatever you launch hits the ground after a precarious fall.  Remember to Push folks off higher terrain at an goes DIRECTLY away from you!
  8. Write Scroll
    • Unlike grimoires, you can actually use scrolls.  It is what it says on the tin:  a one-use spell, pre-cast.  Write 'em up whenever you have the downtime...and your apprentice should definitely be doing this.  During the game, it helps to have scrolls of spells you already know, as the scroll will act as a fail-safe during casting.
It's not what you've got in your spellbook, it's how you use it.  At first, the Sigilist might seem a little underwhelming, but if you select Sigilist you are definitely playing for the long game.  After collecting a few more spells, this wizard can really diversify the kind of hindrances they can inflict on the enemy, making their own range of direct damage spells less of an issue.

For myself, Push is an immediate grab.  After that, Explosive Rune and Write Scroll are the other Sigilist spells I'd start with.  The former acts as area denial, and Write Scroll will allow you to make sure you get critical spells off when you need to.  The aligned schools have a lot of utility spells, so make sure you don't neglect your soldiers with spells like Heal and spells from the Enchanter list.

I think a large spread of different troop types suits the Sigilist best, unless you've got a specific tactic you're wanting to exploit.  Allowing for a lot of different responses to different situations, having several different troop types also might cause  your opponent to wonder where exactly you might be going with all this...and such diversions will help when facing off against more aggressive spellcasters such as Elementalists or Necromancers.