Trip Report: February Nagoya Games Day – Advanced Space Crusade!

On February’s game day in Nagoya, a friend and I herded a bunch of interested parties / guinea pigs together and had a big old multiplayer participation game of Advanced Space Crusade, that 1990 gem with the Scouts and Tyranid Warriors, D12’s and funky map boards. And it was a heck of a lot of fun.

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The way ASC works is you have between one and three “flanks of attack” into the Tyranid hiveship, and on each flank the Marines explore, fight battles and so on. Since there were four players plus one GM (me) we just had two semi-independent one-flank battles (possible because two of us have sets, so we had enough map boards to do two battles at the same time), allowing allies to share forces amongst themselves. The Marine victory condition was to win three out of the four major battles hidden in the exploration decks, and the Tyranids managed to win by getting enough reinforcements before the third battle to overwhelm what little the Marines had left after the first two.

Which, if you know anything about ASC (and you probably don’t) probably goes to show just how much I’ve tweaked the game from the “out of the box” experience, which is heavily weighted towards the Marine player, mostly because of ridiculous reaction rules and partly because of Tyranid reinforcement rates that leave them struggling to have enough models to keep up pressure on the Marines. So my main 3 changes are: limiting the number of times you can react during the enemy turn, bumping up Tyranid reinforcement rates, and allowing Tyranids to (for a significant cost) bring in reinforcements during a battle from outside their available pool of blips. It seems to be in a place where the Marines need to be aggressive, both in exploration and during battles, and a bit lucky, to win, which seems OK to me – I’m sort of aiming for Space Hulk levels of challenge.

(If anybody interested in actually playing the game stumbles across this post, feel free to join the Advanced Space Crusade group (me and two other guys), where I have files with all my house rules in them posted.)

2017 Gaming Year in Review

Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love 28mm

Another year wraps up! I’ve developed a habit, at this time of year, of taking a look back and assessing what I got up to, hobby-wise, throughout the year – and this year has been a pretty good one, with some resolutions made and put into practice.

A quick look where my painting has been focused this year shows pretty clearly that has been the year of returning to 28mm for me. Starting from zero, I painted up a whole Malifaux crew (which, to be sure, is just like a dozen models), a Viking warband, and most impressively / surprisingly, what has turned into a pretty big Space Marine force for 40K – I had bits done for Advanced Space Crusade, but even then I’ve got myself able to field an all-Primaris force in something less than 6 months. And it’s been fun! Painting things up with an eye towards using them in a game next month, rather than someday when I play Epic again, has been great for the motivation factor.

Which brings me to the resolution part – mid-year, after a post and ensuing discussion on nagoyahammer.com about spreading ourselves thin, hobby-wise, I decided to focus solely (save a prior commitment to Saga) on 40K and Malifaux at the monthly Nagoya game days. After (to be quite honest) a good few years grumbling in a corner like Gollum over my preference for smaller scales – and therefore, and there’s a direct correlation here, owning and painting a lot of games and models that at most one or two other people in the group also played and collected – it’s been a pleasant shock to kick the doors open to one very popular, and one pretty popular, game system, and find myself having a lot of fun playing a lot of games with a bunch of different people. 40K 8th edition not being a dumpster fire helps, of course. It has its issues, and is still 25-year-old-system 40K at its heart, but it’s certainly “fun enough”, and – and I can’t stress this enough – being able to play a bunch of games with a bunch of different people turns out to be a really good thing. There’s still other games I want to try – I’m making the jump into Shadespire, and while I’m very much on the fence a nice Delaque kit (in Q4 :roll:might pull me into the Necromunda reboot, and of course I will always love Epic and still hold out hope for trying Chain of Command at some point etc. etc. – but trying to make the monthly games days all about those two popular systems has definitely made a difference in my gaming life.

I also made a resolution to try to reach out to the Japanese gaming community more (again, based mostly on discussion over at nagoyahammer, but my formative gaming-in-Japan memories as the only gaijin in the Fukuoka game club way back when also had a lot to do with it), and I’ve been up to visit the small-but-good-natured game group in Ichinomiya a couple times, and that’s been good fun as well. This resolution has also been the prime motivator in going all-in on Shadespire, since that game is proving very popular in the Japanese gaming community.

So that’s where I am at the end of 2017. At this rate, it does look like next year will be “40keighteen” (to borrow a term from the awesome 40K Badcast) for me, although I do want to evangelize for lunch-break Shadespire a bit, get some more games of Malifaux in, and hopefully organize an Epic day as I try to every year. And of course if any of my gaming buddies are up for Drop<foo> or 6mm Napoleonics or 15mm WWII or the Warhammer Quest card game or Sails of Glory or or or… on an off day, I’d be very much up for it! But so far, narrowing my focus for game days has proven to be a strategy with a solid net positive result for me, and I’ll probably be sticking with it!

Trip Report: November Nagoya Game Day

Sunday was game day for the Nagoya Miniature Games Club, and a good time was had by all. I brought my Scythes for two games, one matched play at 1200 points and one open play at 60 power, and I’m here to tell you I didn’t really notice any difference. Definitely good fun, though.

I brought a Spearhead and a Vanguard detachment, with:

-Gravis captain (Warlord trait: the +1W and feel no pain one, which is nice because I don’t have to worry about forgetting to use it so much – although I did forget to FNP about half the wounds I took all day)

-Primaris Lieutenant with Power Sword

-Ironclad dread with Hurricane Bolter and Chainfist

-Venerable dread with Assault Cannon

-Hellblasters with Assault Plasma Incinerators

-Reivers with knives

-Intercessors (This was the big change over previous lists – swapping out the Inceptors for a full Intercessor squad. All in all, I think it’s a solid choice. For the same cost, 3 times the wounds, and just about the same number of shots at close range, in an edition where the difference between S4 and S5 isn’t as huge as it used to be.)

-Quad Lascannon Predator

My morning game was against a Guard force, and I got tabled-enough-to-be-unable-to-contest-objectives by the end of turn 3. I lost the first turn, which hurt – he was able to deep strike some Scions next to my Predator and neutralize the bulk of my anti-tank ability right off the bat, leaving me without much to do against his tanks but try to run my dreadnoughts across the board and punch them – and, to my credit, I almost made it!

The Manticore was pretty scary too, but I was helped a bit by its lackluster armor penetration. Mostly he was just able to throw lots and lots of dice at me.

My afternoon game was against a mixed Adeptus Mechanicus / Ravenwing force, and I managed a win there. The setup we drew allowed my Captain and Dreadnoughts (well, the one that survived, anyway, but one is enough) to get into close combat, which is often enough to wrap things up for this army. The Reivers also did their job, tying up his Dominus and half his Ravenwing bikers for the first 3 turns, allowing me to worry away at the rest of the bikers unsupported.

The scenario was The Comet from the Open War deck, and I had my Intercessor squad in reserve to move to grab it anywhere on my half of the board – and it dropped at the center point, so I was able to get enough wounds / models onto the objective by turn 5 that he just couldn’t shake them.

I also played my first match of Shadespire during lunch, and it was good fun. My orcs pretty much stomped face on the other guy’s Stormcast – I won the first game 11-0 and the second 9-5. It helps, I think, that orcs (at least when you build your deck heavily with orc faction cards as I did) are extremely straightforward, as indeed you’d hope orcs would be. Just roll up and start pounding face – the only thing I really had to keep an eye on was whether my objectives in hand wanted me to gang up on the enemy or take them on one-on-one, which is pretty easy to manage. My verdict is: A Good Game! I definitely left wanting to play more.

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A very good day, against some fun opponents. Good time had by all.

In other news, I took advantage of Black Friday to order some more hab pods from Sarissa for my 40K table, so that should be arriving before too long. I’ve basically decided to use my winter bonus and speech contest judging pocket money to get myself the Shadespire core set and one of the new easy-build Redemptor dreads for Christmas. Then I might be able to turn back to an on-hold-for-40K 6mm North Africa project we started talking about last summer early next year. But who knows!

30-Day Challenge Day 30: Wrapping Up With a Trip Report

Wow, this was a quick 30 days! It helped, I think, that the first 2/3 were packed to the gills with a pretty hectic project.

On day 30 I didn’t paint, but instead went up to Ichinomiya to hook up with a little gaming group they have up here – 5 or 6 guys in a very very tiny plastic model shop.

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I didn’t get a picture while it was still light out, but the shop is literally like 15 feet deep – there’s really only one table big enough for wargaming, but with a small group it probably doesn’t matter much!

I played a fun little 50-power game against the group leader’s Necrons. The more I play 8th edition, the more I think 50-60 points is really a sweet spot. Still a lot of fun, in ways that similarly small games often weren’t very fun in earlier editions, but pretty quick and (and this is my own personal opinion about scale) a better fit for the best-suited-to-skirmish-ness of 28/32mm models.

Next time I think I’d take 10 Intercessors instead of the 3 Inceptors – the latter are maybe a bit squishy to be a lynchpin of a force this small. But the double dreads did as well as ever (although a squad of 6 heavy destroyers will and did mess them up) and the reivers, as always, did the work, tying up his immortals for 3 turns before the near-dead ironclad moved in to help them out. In the end, the ironclad was able to chainfist to death the lord who was carrying the McGuffin and escape from the wrath of destroyers into the safety of combat by the end of the game, giving me the win. It was a close thing, though! A couple luckier wound rolls and it would have been very different.

It was a fun evening, and a good chance to meet some new guys relatively new to the hobby. It’s a bit of a drive up to Ichinomiya from here (about 40 minutes from either work or home on the tollway, an hour on regular roads), but I think I’ll be able to make it once a month or so!

Game Day Report: GTHBA

We had our monthly game day here in Nagoya yesterday, and I guess 8th edition is bringing people out of the woodwork, because we had a full house – partly because we could only reserve a smaller room this month (space for 4 full tables, which we sort of jury-rigged into 2 full tables and 3 2/3 size tables, and still people didn’t get to play), and partly because of the biggest turnout we’d seen in a while.

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I shoulda taken more pictures of the venue – but that’s a 4×4 table for gorkamorka in the middle, two slightly-narrow tables for 40K on either end, then there were 2 full tables for 40K in the other half of the room.

My morning game was my first “full-sized” game of 40K, a 100-power level matchup against Necrons.

The mission was the Relic, a winner-takes-all dealio over a central objective, which is nice for Marines with their “defenders of humanity” rule – I was able to get a squad of terminators onto the objective at turn 4, which pretty much sealed the game up. It was a fun game though, although my opponent (who has been away from 40K for a few years) made some sub-optimal decisions, like dropping the monolith in a corner where it couldn’t threaten the objective, and then focusing its shooting on the small tactical squads near it rather than the predator and full-to-bursting rhino that were more pressing threats. Still, it was nice to get the boys on the table, and a good game against a good opponent is always fun. I also got to line up my whole force and take a better picture than I was able to the other day.

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The army worked pretty well – double dreadnoughts are a force to be reckoned with, and absorb a ludicrous amount of fire while still retaining the ability to chainfist things in the face. I’m looking forward, though, to replacing my 5-strong tactical squads with primaris, and need to figure out how to use the sternguard better – they did all right this game, teaming up with the captain and a lieutenant, but I fear they didn’t get their points back.

In the afternoon (and sadly I didn’t get pictures) we had a team game for lack of free tables, 50 power each, my scythes and my friend Justin’s ultramarines versus eldar and orks. And here’s where I sort of make a face about the direction nu40K is going, as my ally brought Guilliman in his 50-point list, and the ork guy brought a gorkanaut. Not exactly skirmishy. The eldar guy had the ludicrous psychic airplace with the 18″ flamers too, although that was mostly just that particular unit being ludicrous rather than something not fitting into the size of the game. They got first turn and wiped all my infantry off the board – which was disheartening but it ended up OK as I still had the dread team and the reivers to drop in (Vanguard detachment for the win!), and they all did their jobs very nicely – the former mostly through absorbing fire that could have been spent in other places (and also chainfisting some killer kans) and the latter by (as usual) tying up a flank and wiping a couple units out before finally succumbing to casualties – bulking my squad out to 10 may happen sooner rather than later, as the reivers always turn in a workmanlike performance. Guilliman punched the gorkanaut to death, ho hum. But still, the game was fun enough.

I also picked up my half of a starter box, so just in time to finish up my current painting backlog I get some more stuff to do.

To do:

Intercessor squad (2 of 10 painted)

Hellblaster squad (0 of 5 painted)

Inceptor squad (0 of 3 painted)

Primaris command (0 of 4 painted)

Interlude: Games I Play Part II: Fantasy

It took me kind of a surprisingly long while to get into fantasy wargaming – I mean, I started with D&D in like 4th grade and the old Erol Otus-cover box set, I re-read the Lord of the Rings every couple years, all that jazz. But all the same it took me a while. In high school my buddy Jon and I, in our quest to play Every Game GW Made, got deeply into Man O’ War, but that was actually about as far as we went into fantasy. When I played in Fukuoka (between about, oh, 1999 and 2005) the guys there played a bit of fantasy, and I started up an Undead army, but just never got very far into painting it. I also played a lot of Confrontation when I was in the States for grad school after that, which was a lot of fun (and fun to paint) but when Rackham went kablooie I sold off my armies. Then I was into Hordes for a bit, but had trouble keeping up with the power creep on a grad student’s budget and gradually lost interest, and sold those off a couple years back too.

Here in Nagoya, though, when people were playing a lot of Warhammer Fantasy it just happened to be a time when it was very easy to get a whole lot of plastic goblins very cheaply indeed (since the Goblin-versus-Dwarf starter set had just come out), and I’d been interested in trying out this “dip” everyone had been talking about, so before I knew it I put together these bad boys:

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Yes, friends and neighbors, that is my very cheeky indeed Smurf-themed Night Goblin army, including actual Smurfs to use as Mangler Squigs. As a Night Goblin army, they were terrible but a lot of fun to play, and I did until GW decided to blow up the Old World and Warhammer Fantasy, and if you think I’m going to play a move-models-individually skirmish game with 200 night goblins, you have another think coming. There’s talk of using Osprey’s Dragon Rampant to get our fantasy armies out of the box, and I wouldn’t object to trying out Kings of War, but really there’s just not too much interest in mass-battles fantasy locally these days. So these guys sit in a box and wait for their time.

What we do play a relative lot of, though, is Malifaux, and at the beginning of this year I made a push back into 28mm gaming (which I’d been avoiding for a bit) and got a crew together, partly since Malifaux is so popular here. Not being a huge fan of Wyrd’s particular brand of cheesecake, I picked a crew that would have that only minimally, so went with Zoraida, who is an ancient witch who likes hanging around in a swamp with tree-dudes and frog-dudes and weird depressed skull-faced obese fairies.

OK, I did get a Doppelganger, who is nominally sexy, but in an icky body horror kind of way, so she gets a pass. I’ve only got a half dozen or so games in, but I like the system and love (most of) the models, so I’m hoping to stick with it a bit.

Aside from that, though, there isn’t too much in the fantasy wargaming world that tickles my fancy. Frostgrave is pretty big here, but leaves me a bit cold with its D20-based (and therefore pretty swingy) system, and while I’d take up Fantasy Flight’s new Runewars game in a heartbeat – cool models and specialty dice, count me in! – nobody else locally is interested so I’m resisting the urge to get a starter (ridonkulous shipping charges to Japan help there, to be honest).

Some Games!

I got the chance to play a few games of 40K over the past week, and it was pretty fun. The pictures above are of a power level 65 game I played against a friend’s (absolutely beautiful – sadly I didn’t think to get too many pictures of them) Eldar Exodites-counts-as-Craftworld, in which I managed a win, although we were both pretty well decimated by battle end. The Ironclad was definitely a star, mostly through being both scary and tough enough to draw a lot of Eldar fire and still not die, although the hurricane bolter is scary effective against T3 eldar up close. The captain also managed to be a wall of pain, stopping the shining spears that up to then had been tearing through my left flank like a hot knife through butter. Good fun!

And these pics are from our local gaming meetup this past Sunday – we had only an odd number of 40K players, so 3 of us did the “carnage” scenario from the rulebook at power level 50. Fun again, but I suffered from choosing my quarter first and thus being stuck in a tyranid – sisters of battle sandwich, which did not end well. The ‘nid player taking half her points in a 20-strong unit of genestealers with a broodlord was hella scary, too, although massed firepower from the surviving sisters managed to stop them in the end. The Ironclad again managed to prove his worth, chainfist-ing a hive tyrant to death pretty handily. (I also picked up a venerable dread a friend didn’t need, so I can expand my dreadnought party by next month’s meetup.)

Overall, I’m pleased that 40K 8th edition is turning out to be the quick, simple and fun ruleset people have been talking it up as. It’s still not particularly tactically deep by any stretch, but it’s fun enough, and a lot of people play, which is always a bonus. Whee!

Interlude: Games I play part I: Science Fiction

OK, I’m sort of on a roll, so I’ll let myself get a little bit expository with this one.

You could probably get the idea from looking at this blog so far that I’m a “40K guy”. A year ago, though, if you’d asked me if I played 40K, I’d have basically scoffed. While 40K was what got me into wargaming, and I played it a lot in the past, I’ve been away from the game for a good… 7 or 8 years at least, as I think of it. The last time I played a lot was with my group in Fukuoka, up until 2005 when I went back to the States for grad school. I played a bit there as well, but began to drop off, and by the time I came back to Japan in 2008 it was pretty well back-burnered. I couldn’t say exactly what it was, but being a poor grad student and unable to collect and paint probably had a lot to do with it.

I have always liked the universe, though, for all its ridiculous over-the-top silly grimdarkness, and 4 or 5 years ago I got it into my head to use Advanced Space Crusade (of all things) as an excuse to collect and paint some models. ASC was a game I’d bought in high school, right when it was released, and had fun with, and while its considerable warts kept me from playing it a lot, I always liked the idea of the game, and held on to the rulebook, counters and boards. So I figured, why not try to hammer it into shape? And a few years of houseruling and fiddling have put the game in a place where it’s good fun to play, I think! And it just so happened that a good-sized ASC marine force was also a solid core of an army for 40K when rumors of 8th edition suggested the game was going to good (or at least better) places than it’d been for a bit.

But really, my first and greatest love in the 40K universe is Epic. Also when I was in high school, I split a box of Adeptus Mechanicus with a friend, and then Space Marine, and I was hooked. I still feel very strongly that Epic: Armageddon remains the strongest set of wargaming rules GW has ever produced – not perfect, but very nearly so. Sadly, the game is ten years dead, which makes it hard to get people interested in picking it up – but I have like 8 armies, so my solution has been to host an “Epicstravaganza” event every year or so where I loan armies out, and I usually get 7 or 8 people to show up, so that’s OK.

Recently, a couple guys in the club and I have branched out into Hawk Wargames’ Dropzone and Dropfleet Commander games, and they’re certainly good fun (although the lack of a command and control mechanism in the former leaves a big gaping hole in my heart), but fundamentally it just hasn’t been able to get a critical mass going locally, so it’s basically me and one other guy who both play and show up to games days regularly. And he’s a nice guy, but playing the same matchup over and over starts to drag after a bit.

And those are my big SF games. I have a couple Necromunda gangs kicking around, and recently sold off my Battlefleet Gothic fleet after noticing I hadn’t played in like 6 years, and am constantly low-grade tempted by Infinity, but fundamentally that’s sort of the limit for how many games of one genre I can juggle at once.

So that’s the first bit of the holy trinity of wargaming, and the one that I’m most heavily invested in. But historicals and fantasy wargaming do both have a place in my heart! Later posts will talk about that.

A bit of terrain

This morning I painted up a piece of terrain for my 40K table, a ruined habitation pod from Sarissa. A nice piece of kit, and very affordable (especially considering shipping to Japan), as all Sarissa kits are.

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I’m a little leery about how it’ll stand up to gaming – that strut across the top especially is pretty flimsy – particularly since I’ll be throwing it in a box and bringing it to game day each month. But oh well, it’s purty! I also have a non-ruined version of the same hab pod, which I’ll get to work on after doing a few more marines.

At the moment, that’s all the science-fiction terrain I have at 28mm. I have lots and lots of terrain at 6mm for Epic, some of which – trees and hills and such – can be pressed into service for 40K, and a few bayou-themed buildings for Malifaux that I could use in a pinch, but really I have a ways to go before I’ll have a nice tableful of terrain for 40K.

In other news, the new marine pre-releases are up this weekend, and I was semi-surprised to see that the Intercessors and Hellblasters aren’t a dual-build kit. Ah, well, I could use a full squad of Intercessors anyway. I imagine that’ll be my next purchase after I get the half-a-starter-set I have coming, just so I have have plenty of troops.

OK, let’s just make this a hobby log

Seems like I can’t be bothered to make long posts without something concrete to focus on, so let’s try that. 🙂

Surprising nobody more than myself, I’ve found myself, with the release of the new 8th edition, getting back into Warhammer 40,000 after a roughly 10-year hiatus. It was made easier by the fact that I’ve been slowly but steadily collecting 40K minis for Advanced Space Crusade over the past three or four years, so getting a full-on 40K-sized army will only take a (relatively) little bit of collecting and painting. Here’s the start:fullsizeoutput_3693

That’s 4 out of 6 Reivers I have, my first Primaris marines so far. (I picked up the “First Strike” starter set, and a box of mono-pose Reivers, at Yodobashi Camera the other week, so that’s all I have at the moment – but a friend will be bringing me half a Dark Imperium box worth of Marines later this month, which’ll get me to work.) Even these mono-pose dudes (and they’re only sort of mono-pose, as the Reivers at least let you move the arms around some) are really nice pieces of kit, and I’m looking forward to getting the rest.

I’m also quite pleased with how they look with helmet swaps. My “smallmarines” have a sort of ragtag mix of helmets and different marks of power armor going on, and to connect the new Primaris guys with them, I’m relying heavily on helmet swaps – the fact that it looks pretty darn good is just a bonus.

Also, yes, this is a “non-canon” color scheme for the Scythes of the Emperor, but frankly I think it’s superior to the “canon” Yellow Torsos Chapter scheme, so I’m sticking with it. (I’m collecting Scythes because, as I say, I started collecting these dudes for Advanced Space Crusade, for which the Scythes are thematic. That’s also why the square clear bases, because facing is important in ASC, and it’s basically impossible to match the psychedelic 80’s weirdness that is that game’s tiles with any kind of base decoration.)

At any rate, that’s that for now. I’ll share more as I paint more, and also hope to post some game reports (for 40K and anything else I happen to play – which is a lot of different things) as they happen.