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Beer & Pretzels Gamer

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Everything posted by Beer & Pretzels Gamer

  1. YES!!! I came to AoS as salvation from complete burnout from the illogical puzzle dynamic of historical war gaming. My breaking point wasn’t the geometry per se but an incident where I spent three hours out of a five hour Gettysburg game getting my cannons in position and properly getting then limbered from the horses only to be told that (despite this replicating their positioning in the actual battle perfectly) that my cannons couldn’t shoot at their target because a small corner (talking a few CM) of a cornfield “obstructed” their vision and there was nothing I could do about this so the opposing soldiers could march right up without ever taking any grape shot... I’d accepted plenty of “silly” geometry rules up till that point “in the name of historical accuracy” as the guy who ran the games always insisted but after that I was done. Haven’t played a rank & file historical war game since. It took a big adjustment to go from that to AoS. The idea, for example that if one model is in range the entire unit was in range made me cringe the first half dozen times I played. Or that all a failed charge meant was that you stood still, not got stuck out in no man’s land as happened in some of the historical games I’d played. But one aspect I liked from the very beginning was the more “natural/realistic” movement. Units could flow with the terrain. Once battle was engaged battle lines stretch and deform. I LOVED this aspect. To the extent that it leads to gamey moves I think that has less to do with “Skirmish” rules than being an objectives based game as until we switched from narrative games to match play games in prep for a fun local tournament simply put we never really saw any obvious “weirdness” in the way armies moved, charged, or piled in. Similarly as soon as we go back to narrative games they disappear again. And while I’m not a big fan of solving mechanics issues with more mechanics issues the increase in “pick a model” and things like he Allopexes no pile in I think do just enough to discourage overly aggressive “gaminess”. So are AoS rules perfect? No. And in the Zoom-based meta I’m currently playing in we really work to avoid big blobs for other reasons. But I think a virtue of the AoS rules is that they are flexible to accommodate both big blobs and more elite builds in what, from my perspective over last ~18 months, is a very rapidly evolving grand meta.
  2. Fair enough. That said, while I’m new to SCE I’ve been following a lot of other factions threads here for a while and there does seem to be a broader new tome derangement syndrome to AoS where there’s almost always something new that everyone thinks will break the game each time a new tome is released. Fair enough some of these do rise to the level of needing a FAQ nerf but all too often once the games are actually played, turns out to be not so game breaking. I know in my own little Zoom League meta one player was absolutely convinced that the “counts as” for objective rule for Mawtribes meant that they were unbeatable, especially given the Stonehorn’s resilience. Except of course there were plenty of Battleplans where even with three FLoSH the opponent couldn’t contest enough objectives early, and if they were separated and allowed for concentrated fire a FLoSH will go down like anything else on the table. As to SCE specifically, as a newbie think the whole Gav sub-thread highlights part of the issue for outsiders when they look at SCE. Know I showed a bit of arrogance when I agreed to play SCE in Zoom League without checking the models I had against the tome in any serious way. SCE definitely has some interesting pieces but getting them to work together requires way more list management and trade offs than I think those who haven’t spent the time realize. So yeah, if SCE could truly stack all the potential buffs and manage to get everyone piled in without going out of the bubbles, etc. etc. they’d be potentially OP. But of course they can’t.
  3. Again, I’m new to SCE but I’d agree that my first impression of this battalion (given the cost to maximize points wise as others have pointed out) is that a list built around it is closer to 2-3/3-2 than 5-0. Not that a good player with a bit of luck and a lot of skill couldn’t pilot it to a tournament win occasionally, just that more often than not after the first wave of build crests, the tide will turn against it. Additionally, I would not be surprised to see those losses coming against factions in the lower win rate tiers. That said I could easily see one of those wins coming against a list expected to go 5-0. And to me... that’s a good thing. I like a “Rock, Paper, Scissors” meta over there being a few dominant builds out there at any given time. So unless the definition of OP/Broken/Dirty is the ability to disrupt an OP/Broken/Dirty list’s playing style, while regularly failing against less optimized lists, I think a lot of the “panic” the battalion is generating is simply due to lack of games being played.
  4. Just got done playing a TZ Mortals list built around blocks of Kairic Accolytes. Combination of the points we were playing at and lack of the models didn’t have the Tzaangor to screen them and thus had to deploy in a manner that avoided their getting into combat as they tended to “evaporate on impact” (even with the no Battleshock Artefact from Guild). That I guess would be my request for future follow up given your obvious passion for TZ - your thoughts on how to deploy different TZ Mortals builds to be able to contest objectives but avoid losing low wound/low save models early.
  5. Bullgors and Big Boys work well over Zoom. Huge blocks of Ungors or Gods can take some time to move around if you’re trying to do anything too tricky but some of the Ambush tactics are a good workaround. In one of our one off games we had an epic last stand where a combination of bad rolls for BCR and great Saves for BoC saw a Beastlord survive a full blast from a Frostlord on Stonehorn. If you do try playing a stream game would love to hear what is working for other people.
  6. Have ordered one, as yeah, that seems like a pretty solid support piece. Strangely enough my kids didn’t find a guy holding a lantern (at least without wings...) to be cool. Same goes for totems. So while I had a lot of the big toys such as Stardrake, Taurulon and Prime was pretty deficient in the more general support units.
  7. Right up front it is worth acknowledging that the tournaments I played these two armies in were structured very differently. Blisterskin was played in an Escalation based tournament that started at 1K and went to 2K in 250 pt increments. Guild of Summoners was played in a three match tournament where you had a fixed 1.25K list and got an extra 250 points to customize to the battleplan and match up. That said I think there were some key takeaways regarding what works and what doesn’t when playing games via streaming. 1) Balance is Better FEC may not have many models, and with the exception of 1.75K when Crypt Ghouls made a cameo, I was playing an even narrower set of the range. But FEC is very balanced across the phases of the game. You’ve got some magic and, via a battalion, an extra pile-in in the Hero Phase. You’ve got decent Movement that can change the board dynamics. You’ll have some Shooting from Crypt Flayers and Terrorgheists. You’re not combat averse so chances are you’ve got a few Charges to make. And in Combat you’ve got a reasonable, but rarely ever overwhelming, number of dice to roll. In contrast the Guild of Summoners list was very heavily weighted towards casting in the Hero Phase plus some Shooting as I was trying as much as possible to avoid combat except with a couple units. While I got pretty proficient in my casting it is largely a time in the game when my opponent is sitting there twiddling their thumbs. If this isn’t exactly fun in person it is even more boring when you’re just staring at a screen where not much is happening. Or at least there’s not much you can do. Against Ironjawz with Mighty Destroyers there was some similar sentiment that you were just having to sit it out (at most roll some saves). The argument isn’t that you should ignore the strength of your list, just again, the recognition that some lists work better over Zoom than others. I really want to further explore Tzeentch’s options but this doesn’t look like the right format for it. 2) Dice Drama Stronger w/Fewer High Probability Rolls than Massive Quantities of Low Probability Ones At one point I got all 40x Crypt Ghouls into combat against a Mawkrusha and some Gore Gruntas buffed with the Abhorrant Archregent’s Ferocious Hunger spell so I was rolling 160 attacks. In person based on Shootas and Stabbas I know there can be some drama to this but in a variation of the above the time it toook to roll all of the attacks, reroll is the 1s, and then reroll all of the wounds, only for the low probabilities to radically reduce the number of Saves that needed to be made and then, especially with the Mawkrusha’s Save in a Defensive build, only see a few wounds actually go through, is pretty anticlimactic. In contrast, Crypt Flayers were never rolling nearly as many dice but with MWs on unmodified 6s to Hit every roll felt like it meant something. Again, in person the stuff that matters is always more fun and interesting than the stuff that doesn’t. Over Zoom inconsequential stuff is a momentum killer. For context as half of us have kids we’re not starting these games until 8:30 PM and we mainly play on week nights with some of us having early starts. So while the Crypt Ghouls were a very effective chaff screen, especially backed up by mustering and the Chalice of Ushoran, I didn’t bring them back at 2K in order to preserve the pacing and not drag games past midnight. 3) Battleplans Make a Huge Difference Over Zoom there can be a tendency to want to just line your units up across the deployment zone and rush forward to try and Smash your opponent. Anything that simplifies the Zoom dynamic of course makes some sense and then the format pushing you towards elite lists such as Triple Frostlord on Stonehorn Boulderhead or Double Cabbage Ironjawz where such tactics align well with what they do best only. While these types of matches can be fun Zoom League would quickly lose its appeal if that was all it was. Blisterskin and Guild of Summoners are clearly NOT designed to play like that. With Blisterskin I was often castled up to begin with and then relying on my edge Summons, Lord of the Skies teleport, and overall good mobility to maneuver around the board. None of which would matter if Battleplans didn’t make such tactics a virtue. Blades Edge has been the best Zoom League option as it forces a more dynamic play style. Battleplans where holding an objective for multiple turns have also proven their worth in keeping games fresh and allowing for a slightly broader set of factions to be played. -x-x-x- Keeping games fun AND competitive is something AoS struggles with under normal circumstances. Under current socially distant conditions we are clearly leaning towards the fun but we still want wins to be based on meaningful interactive aspects of the game. So as we continue to play and tweak our approach maximizing meaningful interactive moments is a focus. As a result again I will be moving on from Tzeentch for now as the play style too often minimizes player interaction. FEC is coming back, albeit via a new player who is looking to go full Monster Mash v Gristelgore. Me? I’ll be switching over to Stormcast Eternals. Partially because I have a bunch of SCE models from when it looked like my kids might get interested in the game that could use a turn on the table to knock the dust off. But also because I think they may offer a lot of what I got out of Blisterskin without ever needing to bring a Horde unit a la Crypt Ghouls onto the table due to a wider variety of battle line options. We’ll see...
  8. Thanks for the Feedback. We named the new escalation tournament Holiday Havoc because we knew the Holidays would wreck Havoc with our scheduling and sure enough the first round match ups already in question. That said the list was originally built to go up against Gristelgore and FEC’s Bravery based shooting. So one aspect of Hammers that I appreciated was the +1 to Bravery further reduced my vulnerability to their Shooting. Not sure that’s enough to justify taking Hammers but, and this is circular if the Castigators are simply a waste anyway, another aspect was my understanding that to be able to use Astreia’s CA on them I needed to take Hammers. As far as WYSIWYG we are pretty lax both because in general we are a pretty chill gaming group but also because the very nature of our Zoom League means we are playing based on what I have on hand and/or can proxy, with the other players viewing the table via Zoom. Players can and have dropped off armies but, for example, we aren’t sweating the Ironjawz player on whether the Gore Gruntas are built with Hackas or Choppas when they build their list. So besides the points constraint at 1.25K no reason at higher levels I couldn’t upgrade to the Lord Celestant on Stardrake. Regarding Staunch Defender a clear lesson from prior league games is that when playing either Mawtribes or Warclans you typically want your biggest Hammer to be be doing the charging instead of being charged given the Damage dealt on the charge by these units and the buffs they get from charging. I was hesitant than that I would be losing the Staunch Defender buff when I needed it most?
  9. There is a Cellestar Ballista kit with a female engineer.
  10. Despite playing for almost two years and SCE being the poster boys my experience with them is limited to one head-to-head at a tournament a year ago. That said, during the first year I was playing when it looked like my kids might get into the game they were collecting SCE models based on the aesthetic. My daughter completely lost interest despite having two friends who want to play (seriously they’ve asked if they can play against me since she’s not interested anymore ...) and my son decided that he was more interested in the Tau and their big robots so we’ve switched to playing Apocalypse and Kill Team with him. As such I’ve had 3K+ worth of models collecting dust on the shelves so when it came time to pick armies for the third tournament in the Zoom League I run, and which is very much centered around elite lists and MONSTERS, I said I’d run SCE without checking to see whether I actually had the makings of an army list. Little did I know how much SCE is really divided into different complimentary unit sets (e.g. Vanguard) and how a pure “Rule of Cool” from a 12 & 8 year olds’ perspectives would NOT line up with any of that. For example, the only battle line I had were the Liberators we’ve collected at our local GW when getting painting lessons... Picked up a box to build today so I can at least meet the basic list building requirement. For the first match (Knife to the Heart - to be determined whether against Gristelgore or Mawtribes) at 1.25K points (2 battle line req) I’ve cobbled together. Hammers of Sigmar Hailstorm Battery Battalion Lord Ordinator (General) - God-forged Blade - We Cannot Fail Drakesworn Templar - Drakescale Armor - Keen Clawed - Stormlance Astreia Solbright - Chain Lightening - Bounding Leap 5x Liberators 5x Liberators 3x Castigators Celestar Ballista Recognize this far from an optimized list but seemed relatively straight forward to play. My original thought had been to leave the Drakesworn Templar in the sky and hope the rest could withstand the initial surge from my opponent to hold my objective, particularly as they’d have to hold something back to protect theirs. Then I’d drop down the Drakesworn Templar to try and steal their objective while hopefully also managing to get Astreia into the thick of things. Then the Morathi rules dropped and it seems to make some sense to lose the ability to keep units in the sky to be able to bolster those Liberator units to hopefully again survive the first charge. If I’m going up against Gristelgore the extra Bravery also helps against their shooting. Does it make sense to drop the extra mobility from the old AA to take advantage of these? For the next match at 1.5K looking to fill in a lot of gaps to get to a more reasonable list but would appreciate any thoughts.
  11. My intent had been to track all the Zoom League games we’d been playing but found that I either had time to play the games or write about them afterwards and, unsurprisingly, chose the former. But with our third Zoom tournament kicking off next week I thought I would check back in and provide a broad update. The first Zoom League tournament was a Death & Destruction Escalation League that pitted Ironjawz against Boulderhead and Blisterskin. We started at 1K and with 250 point increments worked our way up to 2K. This one was largely about the MONSTERS as we saw Triple Frostlord on Stonehorn (though we were proxy in a Huskard on Thundertusk to have the models to do it) builds and a frequent pairing of Mawkrusha and Rogue Idol and even a double Cabbage plus RI finale. The Abhorrant Ghoul King on Royal Terrorgheist was the weak link, getting one-spotted before they did anything in most match-ups but FEC’s Muster abilities with Crypt Flayers escorted by Varghulf Courtiers proved surprisingly effective as a counter, at least at the higher point levels. Ironjawz and Boulderhead did very well in the early rounds with Ironjawz in particular proving difficult for the other players to counter all the Mighty Destroyers shenanigans at lower points. Blisterskin truly came into its own at higher points where the combination of summoning and mustering finally gave it enough resilience to hold on against the hard initial hits from the Cabbage and FLoSHs, allowing them to go undefeated at 1.75K and 2K and climb back from worst into a tie for first with Boulderhead. This tournament reinforced that Elite Builds work well over Zoom, and that we could manage some larger units (e.g. when a big block of Crypt Ghouls showed up in the 1.75K round) okay but the combination of larger units and higher point counts was pushing games too long. We adjusted for that in our second tournament by creating a relatively novel format. Each player submitted a 1.25K list that was fixed for the length of the tournament. Based on the battleplan and match up though each game the player had 250 “flex” points they could add to their list. Our second tournament also added a fourth player and saw Ironjawz go up against Mawtribes, a heavy Putrid Blightking Nurgle list and a Guild of Summoners TZ Mortals list. Original intent was for November to Dismember to go three rounds followed by a Championship & Consolation match but as two players (Ironjawz and Tzeentch) meeting in the third round were 2-0 and the other two players were 0-2 the decision was made to make the third round the Championship, rather than play the same matches, even with different battleplans, two times in a row. The flex concept worked very well and was arguably the key to TZ tournament win. In G1 a flex Soul Grinder was a useful Distraction Carnifex for the FLoSH and allowed TZ to ignore the FLoSH, stuck over on far side of table for a well timed double-turn that proved decisive. In G2 the Blue Scribes and Fluxmaster gave TZ enough spell casting to summon a LoC R1, right onto an objective, so even after the Varanguard flopped against a unit of PBKs, TZ was able to hold on for a VP win. In the third and final match Be’lakor wasn’t as much of a factor but may have goaded the Ironjawz player (very familiar with using B’s special ability in their BoC lists) into an overly aggressive T1. We’ll definitely bring it back, but the new player (who’d picked up Mawtribes when the Boulderhead player switched back to Nurgle) wants to try escalation. So Holiday Havoc (as in the Holidays will play Havoc with our scheduling...) will see Mawtribes vs Big Waaagh!!! vs Gristlegore vs Stormcast Eternals. Stepping back one of the biggest questions that Zoom League has created is the role of the “concierge” in games they aren’t playing. As the one moving the models when I am going head-to-head I will go out of my way to call out opportunities and risks and work diligently to ensure things like pile-in are done to my opponent’s advantage, or at least make them aware that certain choices have consequences (e.g. if they pile-in an extra model they’ll activate a nearby enemy unit). Some of this carries over clearly into matches where I am not playing but just moving the models around the table. There has been some debate though regarding where the line between calling out things that may not easily be determined by remote players on their screen and “coaching” is. Some players prefer a minimalist approach (e.g. only providing the measurements they or an opponent explicitly asks for) while others prefer a more maximalist approach given they can’t check things out for themselves (e.g. when it is Shooting Phase the concierge calling out all the units that are in range). As always though it is the middle case that seem to cause the most controversy. Fortunately a good gaming group so in the end everybody rolls with it but a difficult line to walk, especially as somebody who wants to see everybody get better and thus wants to avoid games going off the rails just because of mistakes they were much less likely to make in person. Tried uploading some pictures but had problems. May try again later.
  12. A quasi-rematch and given the battleplan was essentially the proto-Starstrike we decided “narratively speaking” this would just represent another portion of the previous battlefield and thus used a similar set-up. Learning from the previous match while sticking with Khorne Brass Despoilers, though adding a Doombull, as the foundation of their army they switched from Darkwalkers to Gavespawn and switched out the generic Brayherd Shaman for (proxied) Grashrak Fellhoof and his Despoilers. In turn I switched from BCR to Gutbusters running a Bloodgullet list centered around the Goremand battalion plus a Butcher and Balewind Vortex. I had fewer drops and decided to let BoC go first after again screening my back line against the Bestmaster + Bestigors’ Ambush I knew was coming. They came in on the East side (left in picture above) but only the Beastlord made his charge into the Leadbelchers. But he had more than enough to wipe them out. Again, this left me with a choice given my Butcher (loaded up with the Wizardflesh Apron and hoping to keep him around the Mawpot on the Balewind Vortex to get the +1 on all four of his spells) was now completely exposed. With the Bestigors able to run & charge wasn’t going to be able to hide the Butcher and still keep him by the Mawpot. So I moved my big block of a Gluttons over and they charged the Beastlord. With some nice Gut Lore debuffs on him even though I didn’t get all of them into him was able to take him out but... Gavespawn went off and a Chaos Spawn took his place ensuring my Gluttons were still pinned. Now arguably keeping my Butcher behind he Mawpot would’ve been better but with run and charge there was still a good chance the Bestigors were getting there. And I was really hoping R2 to be able to hit he Bullgors with Voracious Maw. Unfortunately it got unbound R1 so I didn’t get any damage into the Bestigors. This, and arguably no getting the -1 to hit onto them, proved to be a mistake. But there had also been the possibility for a double-turn in the back of my mind (little did I know I would lose all four priority rolls...) which would’ve allowed me to clear the spawn and better screen my Butcher. It was not meant to be. BoC had their objective drop right next to their Bullgors. Mine dropped in the center. After BoC won priority the charge was on. With the charge the Bestigors were getting +1 attacks and with the Chaos Spawn in range they could use the Gavespawn CA to add another. With 41 attacks they were able to wipe out my Butcher... I would manage to clear off the remaining Bestigors in my turn but my opponent would be able to summon more to keep me occupied on that side leaving me with basically my Ironguts to hold the center objective. The river (half movement) slowed the Bullgors down allowing me to get an opportunistic charge in R3.2. But didn’t do enough damage providing time for the Doombull and other Bullgors to get in the next turn as well as Grashrak to do some damage. When I lost the initiative yet again my opponent was able to kill off my last Ironguts and claim the objective. With no way to even the score I conceded. So in both my last two games I forced my opponent to attack from the front but whether 1.75K BCR or 1K Bloodgullet I just didn’t have the bodies to handle an overload where my opponent got to hit first and further reduce my body count. A definite positive was this was the first BoC match that had both gone the distance AND finished in a reasonable time. Still, with sufficient experience playing over Zoom at this point our plan was to set BoC aside for a while and try something a little more ambitious...
  13. Playing against Gutrot Spume and his Slime Fleet if nothing else had taught me to screen my back line. This time though I’d have my own unit coming out of Ambush in my Icebrow Hunter and a couple of Frost Sabres. The hope was that once the objectives came down I’d be able to steal one. With the back line screened off Nurgle overloaded one side. When the PBKs that came on with Gutrot made their charge they erased a unit of Mournfangs before they had a chance to fight back. While there was another unit of Mournfang over there with some Pusgoyles (proxied with Plague Drones), Gutrot AND Slimux all still waiting in the wings had the sense that I’d need to commit more to reclaiming that side. As the fully buffed FLoSH was closer (and we were playing the river halved movement making it even tougher to get units over there) the hope was the remaining Mournfang could hold out long enough for the gigantic “cavalry” to arrive. Meanwhile I committed most of my remaining forces to the middle, hoping to take down the main block of PBKs getting buffed by the Harbringer. Unfortunately, without Brand of the Svard and Black Clatterhorn just couldn’t put out enough damage. When the middle objective came down on the relatively open side I had hopes for springing the Hunter but I lost the priority roll. Nurgle had enough to summon 10x Plaguebearers onto that objective which, even worse for me, freed up another unit of PBKs to crash the party in the middle. That was simply too much for the second FLoSH to handle... At that point, in my turn I needed to clear the remaining Nurgle units out of my territory to free my fully buffed FLoSH up for another big charge to regain control of the middle and then some luck with where the remaining objectives fell. I cleared out the PBKs but that left Gutrot and Slimux as well as the now free Pusgoyles. If the objective came on the other side in my territory I could try and hold it with my Frost Sabres and Butcher and maybe I’d get some luck with the final objective in being abl3 to spring my Hunter. It was not to be... The objective in my territory fell right under my FLoSH while Nurgle’s fell in the center. When a Nurgle won priority they charged in the Pusgoyles, Slimux and Gutrot to pin my FLoSH. The rest the pulled back onto one of the two objectives. They even summoned a screen of 5x Plaguebearers just in case I tried something sneaky with my Hunter... With Gutrot stealing my best attack could only kill him and one of the Pusgoyles. With the center objective being slightly less well defended tried to charge my Icebrow and Frost Sabres in there but no luck. By the end of my turn and thus the end of R3 I didn’t see a path to victory and conceded. That made the score Nurgle 2 / BCR 1.5 over the four rounds we’ve played. Between the higher starting model count (increased by Summoning) and fewer things dying early this game did play slower. Still hopeful to finish out with the 2K match at some point but we have another potential plan percolating...
  14. Sincerely hoping so. About to start an Escalation League vs Orruk Warclans and Ogor Mawtribes with a Blisterkin based FEC list. (I’ve already run Gristelgore and really hoping to expand my FEC opportunity set. Think challenge will be not reverting to a “Blistergore” style list (i.e. going heavy on the RTs or RZDs). We’re starting at 1K and growing by 250 pts each round. Guessing from get go will be facing a Mawkrusha or a Frostlord on Stonehorn so any thoughts or advice greatly appreciated.
  15. For our gaming group this is it. But even one step further. While the GM will always take into account player interests and desires when we are playing narrative it is understood that the GM has final say on the actual lists that are played. They “earn” this right by (a) ensuring that lists are reasonably balanced and (b) that the lists are narratively consistent. Of course the GM would immediately lose this trust if they gave themselves an advantage but in general as long as the GM is committed you’re more likely to see them go the opposite direction. Certainly list building isn’t an aspect of the game that should be completely ignored. But nearer tournaments we play plenty of matched play lists where this is emphasized. And for us that’s what it really has to come down to. If you’re playing narrative you’re playing it for the sake of the narrative, NOT to prove you can min-max the best list. But fully willing to say we’re lucky there. Our group’s most recent narrative (Khorne Mortals vs Khorne Daemons competing to see who could secure the most skulls for the skull/throne and blood for the blood god) was disrupted by Covid and our game streams have been more one off and/or escalation set ups. The positive is, again, these style games let our players flex their list building and competitive muscles. But hope is whenever in-person gaming becomes more practical players will be excited to play narrative again.
  16. Having had the “fun” of regularly going up against PBKs (with Rend from Blight Cyst and the Harbringer’s CA aftersave) and their exploding 6s I concur that they have to be in contention. Plus I find they provide a very versatile foundation as I’ve seen them stacked with lots of other options from the 3x GUO Thricefold Befoulment to units with Pusgoyles or Plague Drones and even comboing with another Nurgle Battleline, plaguebearers, for a nice Hammer & Anvil style. This also means they are rarely, if ever, inconvenienced by the battleplan.
  17. As “awesome” as a me against all comers dynamic might be 😏a lot of the fun of AoS comes from experiencing a variety of different play styles. Sure, we could get some of this from changing up the armies more often but realistically this diversity best comes from playing against a variety of different opponents, each with their own playing personality. To achieve this we had to test “concierge” play. Would the gaming Cage work with two remote players and myself as a 3rd party moving all the models? We tested this with a 1K match between Beasts of Chaos & Nurgle playing the GH18 version of Shifting Objectives. (The North-South orientation works better on our board than the East-West orientation in recent GHs.) Kept the terrain relatively simple with one objective kind of boxed in by some mountains and forests with the majority of the board an open plane. If asking asking for clarification was key when it was me vs a remote player with two remote players it became absolutely vital. With a lot of Ambushing and Summoning making sure stuff was coming onto the table the way the player intended was key. This was compounded by there being a lot more models on the table than any game we’d previously played. This significantly upped the difficulty of things such as pile ins. The most obvious result of this combination of factors was that while we had been getting through 4-5 rounds in 2.5-3 hours pretty consistently in our BCR vs Nurgle Escalation League, despite higher points, we were well past the 3 hour mark when we called it we’d just rolled for the primary objective to start the 4th round. Based on where it fell it was hard for one if the players to find a path to victory. Anyway game kicked off with a 4 making the center objective the primary objective. BoC went first and ran their Bestigors onto the primary objective and then ambushed Bullgors onto the Southern objective and more Bestigors and the Beastlord onto the Northern. In their own movement phase Nurgle would advance towards the middle and the Slime Fleet would land in enemy territory capable of threatening both units of Bullgors. Failed charges would mean not as many Nurgle units would get into combat R1.2 but in the South and the Center Battle was joined. Both conflicts would go reasonably well for Nurgle leaving them with an advantage re:those objectives they sustain the next two rounds. Which ended up being big as in both R2, R3 and R4 despite the promise of the Battleplan’s title, the primary objective did not move on a rolls of 4,4,3... (For Ss& Gs we did a proxy roll for R5 and it finally landed in the North). Thus even though BoC was able to establish dominance in the North on their next turn they would be having to find ways to get enough units with enough punch to the middle the rest of the game. Nurgle would summon Plaguebearers to screen one of the passes and threaten the Shaman and Bullgors in the East with the freed up Southern units. BoC nonetheless would force the fight in the middle. Ultimately though they lacked enough punch to get the job done.. With a significant VP lead at the end of R3 for Nurgle, and Nurgle winning initiative meaning they’d rack up more before BoC could try any last minute Hail Mary BoC conceded. The positive takeaway is that “concierge” games are viable which means that we can consider a broader Escalation League, one-off matches when an infrequent player can drop in, or even a mini tournament. Another takeaway (reconfirmed with a second BoC game last night) though is that Elite builds are far more robust and scalable in this dynamic. Honestly can’t imagine trying to get 2K worth of BoC around the table (plus Summoning) in anything resembling a timely manner. So as we look to “next steps” we are zeroing in on an Elite Meta. Still ironing out the details but in the interim we’ve got two more games scheduled this week. The first is the 1.75K game in the BCR vs Nurgle Escalation. The second is another 1K BoC exhibition match, against a Bloodgullet list this time.
  18. The tokens mark each of the potential landing spots for the objective. With Starstrike the middle one falls at the beginning of the second round. The other two fall at the start of the 3rd round. Conveniently the line on which those two fall also marks out the initial deployment zones (12” from enemy territory). Again, probably overkill for an in-person game but incredibly helpful when streaming.
  19. After being literally knocked out of football I played golf senior year of high school and through college. If you were like me, a bogey to double-bogey player on average you hit 90-110 shots in an 18 hole round all for the 3-5 shots that you’d remember. That 300 yard drive you had that miraculously landed in the fairway, even if you mangled your approach and three putted. That approach shot from the rough after a bad drive that landed on the green and gave you a shot at birdie, even if you choked leaving your first put a foot short and your second put a foot long. That 16’ put you nailed to save par after barely making it onto the green with you third shot... It is those shots that you remember that get you back on the course after you’ve sworn off the game having just put three consecutive balls into a water hazard. This... this was like hitting a hole in one. And I say that even though I was on the wrong side of it. I was playing the Frostlord on Stonehorn. I rolled 10 for my charge but only did 3MW. That left the Beastlord with two wounds. I activated my FLoSH first and he was fully powered and had Brand of the Svard Artefact plus Black Clatterhorn Mount Trait so I knew I had a solid set of attacks coming up. For fun I tried first to punch him out of the game. Two landed, enough to kill if both go through but with no Rend he easily saved. Fine, onto the Frost Spear. With three damage I only need one of the two Wounds to go through and with -1 Rend the odds are in my favor. No dice though as he rolls 5s & 6s. Not sweating yet as I roll 3 attacks with my Crushing Hooves. All three go through! But again he rolls 5s & 6s!!! Suddenly the Everwinter is not looking favorably on me as ONLY ONE of my Horn attacks go through... But it’s the -2 Rend so only a 6 keeps the Beastlord alive. Surely he has used up all of a Khorne’s favor in the last three Saves?!? Nope, Khorne smiles and he gets a 6. The Beastlord lives to fight another turn. -x-x-x- I’m obviously telling this game out of order and as far as this Blog goes I need to go back and cover the previous game given its importance to Zoom League’s operation but having just finished this game I just couldn’t wait to get this post done. Going back to the beginning we were playing the GH20 Starstrike Battleplan at 1K. I was running Boulderhead Beastclaw Raiders and my opponent was running Darkwalkers Beasts of Chaos with the Brass Despoilers Battalion. BoC had fewer drops so I’d had to deploy with a bubble around my FLoSH ( having learned the hard way how frustrating it is when he doesn’t get his a Charge off) as best I could with limited drops in case they went first and Ambushed units to try for 9” Charges. No luck though as they had me go first. I did my best to advance up the table so no matter where the first objective landed I’d have a chance at it R2 while doing my best to maintain my bubble. In their turn they positioned a set of Bullgors on the Western landing sight but instead of using their first Ambush to “pop the bubble” they instead used it to “claim the Eastern potential landing site. They would charge a unit of 10x Bestigors into my Huskard and 10x Ungors into my Mournfang (we were proxying Gnoblars fir those looking closely...) as well as summon 10x more Ungors. His Bestigors degraded but did not kill my Huskard while you Mournfang killed most of his Ungirs with the rest fleeing in Battleshock. At the end of Turn 1 we rolled the landing site and I got lucky that it came down in the middle... I was less lucky when my opponent rolled the double-turn. With the ability to Run & Charge they were able to get the Eastern flanked Bestigors into my Frostlord (few four unit bubbles can withstand a double turn...) and they teleported some Bullgors close enough to have a 10” charge into my FLoSH, which they made. They used the Ungors they summoned last turn to screen off my Mournfang. On the other flank their Bullgors charged my Gluttons. Only the Beastlord failed their charge... The Bullgors did some damage to my FLoSH but not enough to degrade him between good saves and his Stone Skeleton wound negation. I overcommitted to wiping the Bestigors, killing them off with 5 Wounds to spare with my Horns, leaving only my Frost Spear and Punches & Kicks for the Bullgors. That was enough to kill one and Wound another. (I’d finish that one off with my Frost Sabre in a later activation but that still left my FLoSH pinned with 1 surviving Bullgor.) The other Bestigors got my Huskard down to 3 remaining Wounds but in a rare case if the exception that proves the rule he actually dished our a decent amount of damage, killing enough units to allow Battleshock to clear a few more. After the game my opponent realized they could’ve popped the Brass Despoilers once per to help Bullgors & Bestigors reroll all failed Wound rolls. Not sure how big a difference would have made for FLoSH given saves and Stone Skeleton as I also had the CP to a Dig Deep My Heels and ignore the damage when making my attacks. But could’ve made difference with Huskard. <Corrected from initial post after opponent confirmed it was NOT Beastlord CA but this one he forgot> All in I had to be happy with where I was at when my turn in R2 started. The Grasp of the Everwinter rolls were amazing for me and I cleared the surviving Bullgor, freeing my FLoSH to make a normal move. My Hailstorm went off killing the remaining Bestigors around my Huskard who healed himself via both his Mount Trait and his spell, getting back down to 6 Wounds taken. He was now free to move as well. I was hoping to charge my Mournfang into the Great Bray Shaman on the Bailwind Vortex but they only had enough when I rolled to get into the Ungors. My Huskard made their charge into the Bullgor. And my FLoSH charged the Beastlord, setting up the combat this post started with. Fortunately I killed off the Bullgor and the Ungors so all-in-all I was in great shape heading into R3. Both of the objectives fell in the East. My opponent won the initiative again and went first setting up a last stand on the Eastern Objective in their territory with the Great Bray Shaman and summoned Gors. The Beastlord’s luck ran out though and died in the R3.1 combat phase. When it was my turn I had the choice of staying simple and just claiming the objective in my territory and in the center likely with little chance that anything could knock my FLoSH off the former nor a significant probability that I’d lose the middle if I plopped my Huskard, Frost Sabre and remaining Glutton on the middle objective. That would still let me charge my Mournfang into his Shaman and Gors, and if they survived he’d pretty much be stuck there in R4 while I collected VP. But I went for the more fun approach moving everything I could towards his last redoubt (though I did position my too far away Frost Sabre so, if necessary, it could claim the objective in my territory and the solo Glutton would similarly be in position to claim the center objective in R4 as well. My Huskard would fail the charge but get in range to Shoot at the Shaman, wounding him enough that he’d die on my Frostlord’s Charge. The Mournfang would kill all but one of the Bestigors, with a single model left on the table my opponent more than graciously conceded. -x-x-x- Ultimately this one for both of us was about learning. On my part a lot of the consideration was around the Huskard, They’ve dropped in points and this game I got about as much as I’ve ever gotten out of one of them with all but one of my prayers going off and the Shooting Phase going as well as it has since the nerf. While I again whiffed their melee R1.2 they didn’t some melee damage in R2.1 and then god charge damage in R2.2. I’m still not sure that even when it’s about as good as it gets, even at the lower cost, that it is worth it? But after this game I can’t completely dismiss the unit. For my opponent as much as the Battleplan theoretically favored Darkwalkers mobility their sense was that Gavespawn may have been better in this game. There was also debate regarding whether the aggressive play going after the Huskard was worthwhile? Post-game seeing how close they were to killing the Huskard (with the probability increased had they used the Brass Despoilers once per) and how much damage the Huskard did manage to achieve this game I’m guessing in 3 out of 5 tries the gambit would’ve paid off and then they could’ve been more patient in other aspects of the game. But I’d acknowledge it is a tough call. -x-x-x- And of course part of the learning process always relates to the mechanics of Zoom League itself. Laying out and clearly labeling all the potential landing zones is probably overkill for an in-person game. (NOTE: before the game started we decided to remove the tower you can see in picture below.) But in a remote game it was very helpful and a major time saver. A side benefit was that the lines and markers also helped visualize the Herdstones range.
  20. Just have some yarn. Have used it for enough different battleplans now that I usually have the right size available. Was helpful in-person but great in this context.
  21. With proof of concept the big question was - What’s Next? With scheduling issues for one player and still working out logistics for some of our other previously regular players the two of us that could schedule more regular games set out to play an mini-Escalation League between Nurgle and Beastclaw Raiders. Neither of us had been thrilled by our beta test 1K build so we both went back to the drawing board. Nurgle proxied in a couple of Plague Drones as Pusgoyles to give their list a little more movement while I swapped my Thundertusk Beastriders for a Huskard on Thundertusk and his Everwinter Prayers. We played GH19 Total Conquest. Without Rend the PBKs struggled to take down the bigger BCR Monsters but some cold rolling for the Frostlord and the Harbringer of Decay’s Command Ability left stuff a little too jammed up in the middle. This resulted in a tie on VP as neither managed a breakthrough, even with Gutrot and the Slime Fleet popping up in the backfield. BCR took a minor victory by killing off more of Nurgle’s points than they lost. This stalemate would’ve been discouraging if it had been one of the Beta Tests but it played fast and Nurgle knew with the point jumps they could add in the Blight Cyst Battalion and get the Rend that had been sorely missing in the 1K matches. And with the points jump for BCR knew I could add some bodies to give me a little more flexibility in maneuvering for objectives. I’d also be bring a Butcher which meant the Mawpot was now in play. This time we were playing GH20 The Blade’s Edge, which immediately became one of our favorites. The power of choosing which objectives got removed was potent enough that when Nurgle won priority rolls in later rounds they gave up a double-turn to be able to remove objectives from BCR’s territory. This was a tactic that proved effective enough to put the game away on VPs even before they knocked most of the Ogor models off the table. With a major victory Nurgle was now ahead 1-0.5. With another points increase though BCR was able to roll out Double Frostlords on Stonehorn as well as a Butcher and a Slaughtermaster. While Nurgle was able to load up on PBKs and try out Slimux the set-up for GH20 Forcing the Hand made Nurgle separate his big blocks of PBKs with the result that only one group got the Harbringer’s buff. Nurgle’s deployment difficulties were compounded but the Slime Fleet entering from the back corner and then failing their charges which allowed BCR to basically ignore the first few rounds. Still, despite these advantages for BCR it took some very bad rolls for the Gnarlmaws and the Blessed Sons exploding PBKs (back-to-back ones when all that was needed to take the last wound was a 2+...) and some strong saves and shrugs from the Frostlords to keep them in the game long enough to secure BCR a major victory on VPs. Hopefully we’ll be able to complete the cycle with games at 1.75K and 2K but the scaling so far highlighted two BIG reasons why the “Zoom Meta” almost necessitates Elite armies/lists. To start with even at the beginning Elite lists just have fewer models to move. This is vital given the dynamic of remote players. But arguably equally or more important is that as points go up damage goes up without being diffused. Getting every model into combat with a Horde unit is rare so there is often a big differential between the theoretical damage output and the practical reality can be huge. In contrast typically you’re goin* to get both a Mournfang in and barring creative model removal ALL of a Monster’s attacks almost be definition will be eligible (overkill can be risk). The net was even though we were starting with more models by rounds 3 or 4 we were still down to the numbers we’d been at in lower pointed round as concentrated firepower was removing models at a faster rate. And keeping matches at the ~2.5 hour mark is a practical priority for this dynamic. Again, that is a very different meta than our in-person games where in early games Hordes of Grots were common and even in our more recent games where loads of Khorne mortals were finding their way to the table. Not that we didn’t have elite armies as well (I was running Gristelgore last year at this time) but, pre-quarantinethe next Army we were expecting was Tzeentch. So clearly we were adapting to the new conditions.
  22. While scheduling caused a few more delays we eventually lined up two Beta Test games. Both would be 1K with an emphasis on “the basics”. The first match was Beastclaw Raiders versus Nurgle. A simple two objective battleplan with minimal terrain did mean this was a bit of a race forward and smash each other in the face style match-up, though Gutrot Spume and the PBKs in the Slime Fleet did add a little flavor. Mostly what this one did was serve as proof of concept. Our second match-up was an Execution Herd-centric Legion of Azgorh against BCR but “1st page” of Battletomes and war scrolls only. (In other words no mount traits or Boulderhead sub-faction abilities but the trample and hungry/eating benefits for the Ogors while LoA got their Blackshard Armor buff...). Same battleplan but played different enough that we had conviction this wasn’t a fluke. There were two key takeaways though: 1) You Need an ABSOLUTE Direction System As anyone who has had to say “No, not your right, my right” knows a lot of the basic directions we use on a day-to-day basis can be unintentionally confusing because of the inherent relativeness of the terms. With the need to shift all around the table to move the models we needed something absolute to go with. So the top of the screen became North, the bottom South, the right-side of the screen East and the left-side of the screen West. Wasn’t always perfect (turns out it is as easy to confuse your East from your West as it is your right from your left, especially at the beginning, but after a couple turns everything was Running pretty smoothly. 2) You Need Trust & Open Communication Especially for the remote player’s movements you need a running dialog about what there intent was? For example, in trying to pile-in as many models as possible were they intending to activate (put pieces w/in 3” of an enemy model) that initially hadn’t been eligible? In completing a charge we’re they trying to “tag” both adjacent enemy units or just one of the two? In other words the in-person player should absolutely NOT be trying to create an advantage for themselves either by commission (i.e. moving an enemy model in a way that benefits them) or omission (i.e. not telling the remote player about a potential advantage or disadvantage that may not be easily evident from the God’s Eye view). The biggest positive though was that, despite our worries going in (and no doubt helped by the fact that we were only playing 1K), the game played very fast. We’d been prepared for a lot of slowness but after some initial hiccups turns weren’t taking much longer than they do in-person. This was a very pleasant surprise as it meant we could increase the points...
  23. Of course at the time “everyone” was trying to by webcams to videoconference into work or for their kid’s remote learning. My original plan had been to use GoPro cameras as then, when hopefully the need for a Gaming Cage was no longer present, they’d have other uses. Unfortunately I ended up in a software update loop that hours with their Service Center couldn’t fix (basically it required a software update but until the software was updated it wouldn’t let me into the program I needed to get into in order to download the update...). Once I’d identified some webcams that I thought would work I ran into another technical difficulty. While our plan had always been to start at 1K on a smaller field once mounted we could see that the (now fixed focus) cameras couldn’t get the full 6’x8’ table into the picture. Showed way more of the sides than necessary but you’d lose 4-6” on the ends. Not a huge deal but with so many things these days coming onto the table 6” for the edge a potential complication. For now though we decided to make a bug a feature and played “sideways” which allowed for a 58”x48” playing area while leaving table space for dice rolling and “dead” models as well as an easier position for the computer we’d be using to coordinate all the cameras. A friend who had done some streaming recommended a particular software and a particular service and at first it seemed great as we quickly set up a three camera system (to which we hoped to add to). Unfortunately we again hit software problems as, despite the fact that we’d downloaded the software directly through the service we just couldn’t get the service to recognize the software when it was fully set up. We tried for a couple hours that first day and then again on another day just in case it had been a fluke with the server connection or something. No dice. Many of our local gaming group also have a movie night and we’d been doing a Zoom meeting discuss a movie we’d all watched every other week. It had been working well enough that we decided to try gaming over Zoom, though it meant dropping from a three camera set-up to a two camera set-up (God’s Eye plus a side view showing the player). With a quick camera test showing it theoretically worked we were ready to beta test.
  24. We were in the middle of a Khorne-centric narrative cycle when the lock down started that we were using in part to learn some new armies that we might take to a friendly small tournament (The Battle in the Barn) between our local gaming group and another gaming group an hour or two down Route 90. Like a lot of people our initial perspective was to take a wait and see approach while focusing on the hobby side of the game in the interim. As it became more and more likely that our small tournament at the start of summer wasn’t going to happen and that in-home face-mask to face-mask games weren’t going to be practical anytime soon we started looking for creative alternatives. With the gyms closed I’d started hiking in the local county park. With relatives coupled up in Brooklyn I’d joked I was going to get a GoPro and livestream my hikes for family stuck in small apartments all day. While that wasn’t going to be a thing as I was hiking I started thinking up ways I could hook up webcams over a playing table to stream the game to other players. Fortunately I called my Dad up and he talked me out of some crazier designs into a simple “box” design to go over the table that would allow for both a God’s Eye (top down) view and plenty of other angles and shots if they proved necessary. I measured the gaming table I planned to use. I also measured the height of the ceiling fans that would be a major constraint to height in the spare room it would be set up in. 25+ years later my 8th grade industrial arts teacher would be very disappointed to learn that, after rigorous testing* to determine what size PVC pipe I would use for the frame I didn’t go back to my drawing and re-adjust to allow for the width. As a result, once built, the mid-frame was about 1.5” above the table-top instead of being flush. This is a little annoying but not devastating. The other design issue was that, for simplicity of measurement I’d put the support for the God’s Eye Camera dead-center. If I’d stayed with a GoPro that would’ve mounted easily underneath this would’ve been fine but when I switched to more traditional webcams this meant the side mounting biases the camera a little. After a few delays getting started actuallly working with PVC pipe and “furniture” grade couplings made the construction the easiest phase of the project. All I needed was a sharp handsaw to cut the lengths and (by design) I’d maxed out the number of lengths that were exactly the same so frequently as long as I got the first cut right I could use that one to measure the rest. In under 90 minutes I had a “Gaming Cage” set up in the garage. Unfortunately getting it built would prove a lot easier than getting it online... *By rigorous testing I mean I stood with the 10’ lengths straight up in the air and “shook” them to find the narrowest pipe that still provided enough rigidity for the structure... believe me this elicited plenty of strange looks. I settled on 1” which also helped because there was also a full range of couplings available and I needed some “non-traditional” joints.
  25. Could try that. Ideal though would be something that would make it easier to switch from the God’s eye (top down) perspective to camera’s from a more traditional “player perspectives”
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