Monday, April 28, 2014

Feat of Service: Spell Draft Trial Run

A couple notes before I get into what I'm here to do.  First, there will (eventually) be a Journeyman league wrap-up post.  Second, this will be one of those posts where I assume whoever is reading it knows what I'm talking about.  Normally I try to make posts as accessible as possible, for gamers and people who somehow stumble down this particular alley unaware of what they're getting into, but that's not feasible here.  Finally, chances are good I'll be dropping links into this post later, so if you want more information...check back later?  Apologies in advance if you have to break out your gold miner kit to sift for new things.

Nope, not even close.
My local gaming group, the Nova Nomads, is marching from semi-organized rabble to Legitimate Grouping of Peoples.  Part of the reason for this is to help us do bigger and better things, the first of which is coming up soon and has a suitably imposing name: the First Annual Feat of Service to Benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, Presented by the Nova Nomads.  This is a book release style day of open gaming with wacky achievements for zany tabletop heroics, but with the twist of using a customized caster/lock.  Without going into a ton of detail, which can be found  here (to be updated soon), you pick a faction to play, select a caster/lock (independent of faction, so you can play a Circle warlock in Cryx) from a big list (this time around it's anything found in the free version of War Room), wipe out the spell list, build part of your list, pick a new list of spells via drafting, then finish your list off.  If you're thinking it sounds like a Who's the Boss/Spell Draft mashup then you've got the idea.

Since the fine details are still getting ironed out, we did a trial run last Wednesday.  This is how it went
down, plus my plans and thoughts going in.  I picked Khador as my faction for a couple reasons.  Foremost is my blog's name has Khador in the title, which is extra incentive to support the Motherland.  I feel bad about not playing Khador more, so when the chance arises I try to jump on it.  My Khador is mostly painted, and to a higher standard than my Legion.  One of the common knocks on Khador is they don't have a lot of synergies.  This is considered a Bad Thing, but in this case it's quite helpful.  If all, or most of, my pieces are effective by themselves then they have the potential to be even more effective if I can get the right spells to help them out.

Dat chassis.
Picking a caster "chassis" was the hardest part of the process by far.  My first move was towards a high Focus/Fury stat.  In particular I liked the idea of pVayl because of her Fury 8, ability to make arc nodes (which I covet as a Khador player), existing wintry theme, suite of abilities (see: Dark Sentinel), and broadly useful if unspectacular feat.  I wanted to really dig around for something good and not just settle on my first impulse, so I set pVayl aside and kept moving through the list.  All the possibilities soon became overwhelming even when I limited the list to Focus 7 and 8 casters.  I needed a different approach, which I found, but first some background.

Very nice, very not my work.
A large part of this event is converting a model for your caster.  My first purchase for Warmachine, even before the initial Khador bundle I got from EV, was a MoW Kovnik.  I'd found Battlecollege and done just enough reading to be dangerous to myself.  The idea of MoWs appealed to me, the Kovnik sounded like a neat piece, and my FLGS had one on the shelf.  When I got the Khador seed from EV it included a painted Kovnik.  I wasn't comfortable with pinning metal models at the time, despite years and years in the hobby, so the Kovnik I bought got stuffed away in a box where it sits to this day, waiting for some love.  What better time to love on the poor Kovnik than this event where I can polish it up real nice and use it as something else?

Armed with this new criteria (medium base caster) the list was more manageable.  Many of the options were appealing, especially pGaspy and pThags, but in the end I narrowed the field to two, pGrissel and Bloody Barnabas.  Baranabas drew my eye because of his innate abilities: three initials (with Crit: Consume and Blood Boon no less), Unyielding, Counter-Charge(!), and a lesser version of pKreoss' feat.  My idea for him was pretty simple and probably predictable.  I've always loved Doom Reavers, and Barnabas is a pretty bad man/gator, so the two fit together with ease

As I thought about it more I didn't think Barnabas would offer the sort of support I wanted to really make Khador infantry a nightmare, so I turned to pGrissel who had that support already baked in.  With her Fell Calls she could speed up the slow Demo Corps I wanted to use or let Doom Reavers make an extra attack.  Her feat is a couple other feats put together and looks to be brutal with Khadoran infantry.  Her personal ass-kicking ability isn't as impressive, but her basic defensive stats are respectable and since the idea was to run her as a support caster they're not as important.  Fury 6 is a little underwhelming but not a deal breaker.  I also had a couple ideas for conversion themes (opera/black metal singer) that would work with her abilities and avoid the Blender of Death With Skulls and Spikes and Nastiness that I expect to see lots of.

With a chassis selected I proceeded on to making part of my army list.  The event is a 35 pointer but you build your list in two steps, 25 points before the draft and 10 after.  I already had some pieces in mind, and 25 points doesn't go far, so it was pretty easy to come up with this:

Doom Reavers + UA
Max Demo Corps

Doom Reavers are the ultimate self-contained package.  Widowmakers also do their thing without support.  I wanted some MoWs to screen my caster and echo the Kovnik starting point.  Normally I'd pick Black Ivan for my jack since he's relatively versatile, but character jacks are banned so I went with the Spriggan as the all-rounder.

All this was preparation for Wednesday's spell draft.  The other draftees were Ron (volt_ron), Brendon (Plarzoid), and Chris (no blog, feel shame).  I would be passing my undrafted cards to Brendon, who was running pVlad with Legion, which meant I wanted to consider what I'd be giving him to pick from when making my own selection.  What I was looking for in particular were broad buffs that would work on the Doomies (S&P, Eye of Menoth, Fog of War), a melee-specific buff (Fury, Battle Lust), and a debuff (Parasite, Crippling Grasp).  Jack/battlegroup buffs weren't high on my list because Khador, and caster-only buffs were down on the list since I wanted to do the support thing.  Keeping these parameters in mind, I got my first batch of spells:
There will be a theme...

Sure Foot
Wind Rush

The number of orgasmic sounds I made while looking through the cards was probably a bit high, and in retrospect unwarranted, but it was hard to contain myself when confronted with all these signature spells.  I discounted Abuse, Malice, and Snipe quickly since they didn't do what I wanted.  Wind Rush is a familiar favorite that would boost Grissel's DEF to troublesome levels, and Skyborne would also do that with some different utility.  Sure Foot almost got picked, but I decided the footprint would be too small to be effective for lots of infantry.  In the end it came down to Parasite and War Path.  You're probably thinking Parasite is the obvious choice since I listed it as a primary target, but I went with War Path because I couldn't let Brendon take it while playing pVlad in Legion.  Thus my first choice wasn't even for me but instead against someone else.  The round ended, cards were passed, and my second group was this:

Many choices.
Banishing Ward
Flesh Eater
Ghost Walk
Psychic Vampire
Razor Wind
Ritual Sacrifice

Lots of good stuff to pick from.  I discounted Flesh Eater, Psychic Vampire, and Razor Wind quickly.  Deadeye is super sexy for someone but not for what I wanted to run, and since I had already picked against someone in the first round I wanted to get something I'd use in the second.  Banishing Ward would be nice but limited as the Doomies are already protected from spells.  Ghost Walk would also be nice, especially for the Demo Corps.  In the end I couldn't pass up Ritual Sacrifice.  It would help mitigate Grissel's low(ish) Fury 6 and meh melee stats while also allowing me to (potentially) run multiple jacks or sling any juicy spells I came across.  Round three brought:
HURRRRR, we're gonna go fast and turn left!


Quality had already started to decline, but at least that made it easier to trim the choices.  Backlash, Obliteration, and Tornado were out quick.  Energizer and Mobility both give some welcome speed buffs, but since I already had Warpath I didn't want to double down on battlegroup spells I was unlikely to get much use out of.  Mobility would have been nice for the Demo Corps, but the DEF boost would be mostly wasted as the bump from 11 to 13 isn't that significant.  It was around here that I lost track of what my concept was (support caster), either willfully because I hadn't seen what I wanted and didn't think I would or unwittingly as I kept drawing stuff that would have been great for Barnabas.  I ended up with Mutagenesis because it's fun and potentially very useful when combined with Ritual Sacrifice to load up on Focus before (hopefully) teleporting in for the kill.  Moving on to round four:

Your draft may vary.
Arcane Shield
Boundless Charge
Fail Safe

More easy choices.  Snipe was from the same mold as Deadeye, though it could have been dirty fun with Widowmakers.  Fail Safe didn't appeal because it's just for jacks.  Stoneskin was potentially neat but speed debuffs that you apply to your own troops are always a bitter pill.  Boundless Charge is nice, but I get enough of it when I play Khadoran casters.  Arcane Shield was the clear winner for me as I could put it on a jack, the Demo Corps, or my caster and get good use out of it.

Round five we got back our initial group of cards, albeit picked over.  Abuse and Malice were still there, along with Sure Foot and Skyborne.  I took Skyborne because I wanted it the first time around.
Round six brought Razor Wind, Flesh Eater, and Banishing Ward.  I didn't want the first two when I saw them earlier, so Banishing Ward it was.  Round seven was Backlash and Tornado, of which I took Backlash.  Round eight I got Stoneskin.  My final list, of which I would get to pick Focus/Fury-1 (which is five for the math challenged) was:

Arcane Shield *
I don't know either.  Needed filler.
Banishing Ward
Mutagenesis *
Ritual Sacrifice *
Skyborne *
Warpath *

The ones I picked have the asterisks.  I ended up with none of what I wanted going in (broad buff, melee buff, debuff), which was partially my own doing.  Intentionally or not, I ended up with a list that would have suited Barnabas pretty well.  The clear winners for me are Ritual Sacrifice and Arcane Shield.  I could take a cheap unit like Mechanics or WGI strictly for bodies to sacrifice.  Arcane Shield is a great buff that would work well on anything except maybe the Widowmakers.  Skyborne gives some extra DEF even if I never use the MAT boost or Flying.  Warpath could be useful at times, as could Mutagenesis.

Things didn't turn out like I hoped they would, so I haven't fleshed out the list yet.  One path I wanted to pursue before doing the draft was double Doomies, which is as viable now as it was then.  To that I could add some Greylords or min WGI, but I don't know that I like double Doomies as much as I thought I might.  I'd also look at WGI as an offensive unit, which means Joe, and Mechanics for sacrificing.  Or I could add a Kodiak and Mechanics to make better use of Warpath.  There's also the option of redrafting, either this coming Wednesday when the general draft happens or the morning of the event, June 7th at Huzzah Hobbies.

Looking back on the process now it's tempting to scrap Grissel and go with Barnabas instead.  Hoping for Eye of Menoth or S&P is a bad plan as I'd have to get them in the first round to come away with one.  I haven't dug deep into the list of available spells to see how likely getting a melee buff is, but I'm guessing it's not much better than S&P, though the chances of having it passed along to you are much higher.  It seems like there are a lot of things that would benefit a super solo caster, either as caster-only buffs or things that work well for anyone.  I'm trying to avoid over-"correcting" (unlike some hockey teams I could name following the 2010 playoffs...) based on what I got in this draft, so I'm skeptical of my own line of reasoning here.  That said, Barnabas has a lot going for him and would require less sculpting than trying to put a tuxedo around a MoW like I'd want to do for an opera singer. Counter-Charge on a warcaster seems like a thing that would be fun.  I could also take another, closer look at the small based casters, though that would mean far more work to figure out bits for a model.  I have until this Wednesday at the very least to decide.

Regardless of the outcome the draft was a good time.  Holding so many possibilities in your hand is dizzying, and trying to balance taking things for yourself against denying things to your future opponents makes for some tough choices.  I don't do a whole lot of conversion, especially in metal and outside of GW games, so that aspect of the event will be something different and a good chance to learn some new modelling techniques.  Best of all is the opportunity to support a good cause by gaming, which is a win for everyone involved.

Disclaimer: we are not this attractive.
Speaking for the group, we encourage everyone that can come to come.  There is a substantial time investment in getting a converted model together, so don't be fooled by the event still being over a month away.  I've scattered links to the event pages on the Nomads site, but I'll do so again here to keep them all together (caster rules, spell draft rules).  Please note that at the time of posting these are still in minor flux and likely to change, mostly in style and presentation but there could be minor tweaks in more substantial areas.  If you and/or your group are interested but think this isn't for you let me assure you that it is for you (and everyone).  You can bug me about details (I think I have contact info somewhere around here), or do the same to any of the people I've linked to, or on the Nomads site.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Errants Are "Done"

Remember this guy?    
A tasty bit of apocrypha tells us that a young Colonel Sanders once dropped a profound couplet on the world at large: know when to hold 'em/know when to fold 'em.  (Suspect pundits, quoting unvalidated sources, attribute this differently.  They're wrong.)

While napping through the Come to Jebus meeting at my local Waffle Barn I made a hard choice: put in some work making them look nice, then declare victory on the Errant front.  I've put plenty of time and effort into them, and I'm telling myself I'll go back and finish them properly later, but if I want to get my army even close to painted for the Journeyman league (and I do) then it's time for some triage.  The time-hemorrhage that is that unit had to stop, so I got my kit out today and made it so.

Turns out that Bush pic is really long, so I need a text buffer to make things look less like a puddle of vomit.  Hopefully this gets the job done.

Screw these guys.  I'm super seriously.
I felt like a heel while doing this since there wasn't a whole lot left to do.  It didn't take too long to get the black down (not highlighting saves a lot of time), which led nicely into finishing the bases.  All that was left after was a bit of silver here and there and then "victory."  To be fair to myself they look fine, especially on the table.

The big win here is that I can now plow ahead into the mountain of other models waiting for love.  Keeping with the triage theme the plan now is to base coat the lot so everything has the (beginnings of the) right color in the right place.  Then I can pull out whatever and finish it properly.  Will I get approximately 20 infantry and 4 jacks done in the next 2.5 weeks?  Doubtful.  Can I get base coats on that same group in that time?  Sure can.

Why stop there though?  Let's shoot for the moon.  I'm gonna base coat and wash those models.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Journeyman Update 2

Looks nice, takes years.  
To borrow a phrase from one of my favorites, we've always been painting Errants.  These little bastards are the gifts that keep on unending list of things to paint.  After a decent Tuesday of painting I thought I was on the last leg.  The whites and reds were done, leaving only the golds and blacks (and yes, also the inevitable overlooked bits and basing).  I rolled into Thursday feeling good about my chances of finishing the unit in advance of today's Paint the Target due date.  This confidence was misplaced.  Much suffering ensued.

Full disclosure: I was trying something new.  More fuller disclosure: the new thing was a different shade of brown.  I've been using the brown undercoat for bronze/gold approach for a while, but until yesterday the brown has been the VGC equivalent of Snakebite Leather.  This has served me well, but I wondered if a darker (some might say Beastial) brown would look better.  Fast forward some four hours of laying down brown so I could paint over it with bronze (and then highlight...) and something had to give.  I had an emergency backup plan in my pocket in case I ran into this very scenario consisting of one step: abandon the group and finish a single model.  Somehow the bronze and gold went on quicker than the brown, there wasn't much black to do, the base went as bases do, and I was able to get a model close enough to call it finished without any major psychotic episodes.

The bad news, of course, is there are nine more of these guys to do.  Plus the UA.  And a solo.  Ugh.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Journeyman Update 1

They paint soooo sloooooooooooooooooooooow.
The journeyman league started up this week and I'm already behind.  Not in the league standings, where I'm doing well, but on the painting table.  You might recall my grand ambition to have the Errants (perhaps the UA and solo as well) finished before the league began.  That hasn't quite worked out (thanks Olympics!) and now here we are in week two and I've just had my first good, meaty session with them.  Things are going, if slower than hoped for, but I have managed to learn one vital lesson: painting Errants sucks.  All the detail, all the cross-body arms, all the mans, everything is bad bad bad.  Things are surely exaggerated by the relative lateness of the takeoff and that I'm in the part of the process that takes the most time while yielding little visible progress (love basecoats and layering up), but it's still painful.  The good news is that I'm doing my penance now for running the Errant boat, so when my opponent's tears inevitably begin to flow I can say "Hey man, it could be worse.  I had to paint these bastards."  There's only (only!) another two or three layers for the armor, so hopefully things speed up soon, though I know all the gold will be a slog.  My only solace in these troubling times is that each layer I do is one less to do in the future.  The plan now is to finish the Errants this week.

On the gaming front the picture is much rosier.  Thanks to a case of mistaken identity and some poor dice I went 3-0 in the first week.  The list worked more or less as expected, and I even managed my first scenario win in forever.  I ran Reckoner/Vanquisher last week and now I'm not sure about making the move to double Reckoner.  The 4" of auto-fire is real nice, even if it is shorter ranged on a slower chassis.  I might press my luck this week and stick with the list as is.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Journeyman Photo Hoster

Really just need a place to put a picture, but we'll do a tiny post at the same time.  The Journeyman league starts in a week, which means it's past time to get everything put together.  I'm close with just the Errant UA, Repenter, and Wracks left to assemble.  I've even got a start on the Wracks.  There's also a second Reckoner, but that can and probably will wait until the rest is together.  The Errants are about to hit the painting table, a bit behind schedule but still on pace.  Still waiting and hoping for spraying weather.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Finished Models, New Adventures

Behold my mighty works and despair!  
The first two members of the newly formed Northern Crusade are finished.  At least I think they're mostly finished.  I'm in the midst of a fierce internal debate over whether to add some static grass to the bases.  The grey cobblestones are the victory I hoped they would be, and the bases are pleasing overall, but I think a little something extra (like static grass) would really kick them over the line I was shooting for.  Are they worth the extra steps, and vast amount of drying time, for the results?  I'm not convinced just yet, but they do look nice.  Granted they're going quicker as I do more and get to know the process better, but it's still a couple extra hurdles to getting models assembled, let alone painted.  I'm already invested for this army, and they'll be a nice touch for character/showcase models, but I don't know that I'll want to do another whole army this way.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Painting With Actual Colors

The end of session one.  
With a couple painting deadlines just over the horizon, and with my the plague that knocked me on my ass for a week or so finally (hopefully) behind me, it's time to get the painting machine going.  This process has been underway for a couple days, so there will be more pictures than usual.  I'm sure you'll find a way to push through.

I've talked a couple times about how I want to push my limits a bit with this new project.  Some chances have already fallen short, notably jack construction, while others have yet to be given the chance to be pushed aside.  Of particular note for this post is painting approach.  I'm trying out a few things: following a studio scheme (more or less), painting with a reference, and trying out the PP style of shading and highlighting.  Basics remain unchanged, so my first session was still blocking in colors and applying a wash (even if the wash didn't go down until session two).

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

More Prime Puns

Old shot, now they're primed.  
Now I'm going meta with titles.  Look upon my works and despair.

That whole tournament thing I was going on about?  Didn't happen for me.  Illness stepped in and said "No, you will not be playing games this weekend."  Fortunately I was still able to make good use of my time by assembling a unit of Errants and a Vigilant.  The Vigiliant went together quick and easy.  The Errants, not so much.  Each model was at least 8 pieces, not counting the base, which takes some time even in plastic.  The metal models must have been a nightmare, one I'll get a taste of when I do the UA and solo.  Now I have a reasonable collection assembled and the biggest remaining hurdles from my initial batch are the TFG and Cinerators.  Everything else is single models or small groups.  Granted some of those are Wracks, which look frustrating, and most are metal, but it's easier to get an Errant solo and UA together than those plus the unit.

All this force congealing is coming at a good time, more or less as planned, because there's now a lot of Journeyman chatter going on the local email group.  The plan all along has been to gather Menites, assemble and prime them, then initiate a painting orgy when the league starts.  While I'm on the hook to paint a couple before the league starts (thanks in large part to local Ron's attempt to reboot Paint the Target) I'll still be in a good place.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Stumbling Out Of the Gate

Who leaves a triangle out where someone can trip on it?  
After my (minor) Herculean effort to get models together and primed I got to put them on the table last night.  My opponent was Justin, a buddy of EV's who is fairly new to our local Warmahordes group and the game in general.  Normally I'd pull out Zerkova or Rhyas for a relative newcomer, but having brought just the one list I didn't have any options.  When models started coming out this lack of diversity bit me square on the ass.  As you may have gathered from previous posts I was playing pKreoss.  Across the table was his natural predator: Ravyn with MHSF.  There wasn't a whole lot to do, and in retrospect I'm not sure I had any play other than running off into a corner and praying, but at least it was over quick.

As the night was wrapping up I heard that the Game Vault tournament I've been getting ready for was full, which was unfortunate as I hadn't claimed a spot since I wanted to make sure I had enough Menoth together to make a 35 point list.  There may also have been a bit of procrastination involved.  Regardless of who made what mistakes based on which shortcomings, I figured it wasn't meant to be.  Then I got a highlighted email today pointing out that someone had already signed me up, so the trip is back on.  I'm a little concerned about running into poor match-ups while bringing just one list, but this trip will be more about getting some reps in with a new faction and seeing if Game Vault has some of the bits I'm still looking for on the shelf.  Of course there's also a little place called Sonic, but that's a bonus.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Ready For Prime Time

The fruits of my labors.  
The title of this post is a little misleading, which I'll cover in a minute, but it was too good to not use.  With the "polar vortex" poised to freeze all of reality solid sometime today (Monday) I took a look at forecasts for today while watching the foosball yesterday to see if I'd be able to squeeze in some priming before the 9th circle of hell (which your classical education taught you was frozen) descends upon us all.  Turned out there was a window this afternoon, so last night I got to work building a Reckoner and pinning two heavies to bases, the final items on my pre-priming list.  As the picture above shows the work went well, and now I have a fully assembled and primed 35 point pKreoss army ready for a test run on Wednesday before their maiden competitive voyage this weekend.