Another Hole In The Head Pt. 5 (And A Battle Report!)

It’s the summertime and the weather is fine, and I’ve been out in the garden knocking back wine…

Time to step away from the Blood Angels for a bit – I’ve lost confidence in my eye for detail (nothing to do with ay criticism, by the way – all the comments I’ve had have been positive, in fact far more positive than I deserve), and I think I need to do a fair bit of freehand practice to get my skills up to snuff before having another go at my command figures. So it makes sense to go to a smaller scale, right?

Well… yeah, actually. See, the issue I had with the BAs was with the smooth surfaces and details like the campaign badges and banners (which also highlighted the downsides to painting with housepaints rather than model paints in some instances… X-D) . The details that are picked out for you on the sculpts – pipes, aquilas etc – I wasn’t too bad with. And with my Orcs, there’s plenty of those. This lets washes and drybrushing take care of the heavy lifting – plus any mistakes you can hide within a regiment of 30, right?

So here we are – a regiment of 30 Black Orcs (Orcs of Colour?):

These lads are the heavy hitters, the elite of the orc infantry, and 30 of them is a big solid linebreaker whether you’re playing Warhammer Fantasy, Kings Of War or Hyperian Wars
Paint scheme was basically the same as the other ladz, but a black wash dulled down the skin tones.
I gave myself a hand by priming these white and then prewashing with thinned Smokey Ink to get to the parts other painting layers can’t reach….
Warchief Gazhrag The Bloody leads his army
A mighty horde!
Fancy seeing this lot coming at you?

So that’s Gazh the Warchief, a regiment of 16 Archers, 2 regiments of 30 Orcs each, a regiment of 25 Savage Orcs and now the Black Orcs – one more regiment to go and then we’re on to the Shamans, and I’ve got a few ideas for support units…

And then, to battle!

Having already kicked the arse of Ratticus McStilton and his Virum Nascii, da boyz fancied a taste of ‘oomie flesh….

Lt. Carruthers’ Sky Marine platoon deploys to the left, with support from an Artificial, Gazhrag’s boyz to the right. The objective is the sacred stones in the middle of the ruined temple… wonder what the Orc Warlord might be wanting with all these stones?
Sky Marines deploy forward with command section and mortar anchored on the low hill in the centre
And there’s the OPFOR…
The ladz barrel forward
No. 3 Squad takes casualties from surprisingly effective Orc archery
Nos. 1 & 2 squads hold the hill overlooking the temple, but it looks like they’re getting company soon
Black Orcs crash into the Sky Marines on the hill
Sky Marines retreat in good order despite taking savage losses, but the Orc regiment following the Black Orcs catch them in the open
Sky Marines fight bravely, but 30 Orcs are 30 Orcs
Command section let fly with rifles and mortar, Jim running down all his Command Points to hammer these ladz before they massacre his troops up close and personal. The “1” you can see is the regiment failing it’s morale check – being within 12cm of unsuppressed enemy troops they are captured (or cut down by quickfire .303 rounds and bayonets)
Next turn Jim won the initiative and turned the attention of the command section onto the Black Orcs – concentrated casualties in the regiment’s rear quickly caused them to become suppressed and surrender too!
However, the command section can’t face two ways at once and the second prong of the Orc attack strikes
Two survivors are all that’s left of No. 3 squad!
Surviving Sky Marines consolidate on the low hill for a last stand

But to no avail, as the Orcs crash into them from both sides!

“Those creatures are tremendous in stature!”
“Wait until you see the reds of their eyes, lads”

And so Gazhrag The Bloody scored another victory, albeit having lost half his archers, his elite Black Orcs and a regiment of regular Orcs in the process… and we ironed out a few more kinks in the Hyperian Wars ruleset, hopefully bringing the publication date to three days before the heat death of the universe.

Stay thrifty out there – Jim’s got something he’s really excited to tell you all about… 😉

The Battle Of Outpost 44 – A Star Wars Story!

As the Grim Darkness of the.. present day.. grinds on, we fancied taking our wargaming as far away from reality as possible- the other week it was Hyperian Wars (which gave us a load of ideas for game development), this time it was our 6mm “Epic” scale take on our rules engine in it’s sci-fi skin “Future Force Warrior”…

I laid out a somewhat similar battleground to last week’s fight, substituting the ruined temple with plasma reactors and the Valiant 44th command centre – codename Objective Hamilton – which would be the objective for both sides… so theoretically at least, it would be best commander wins!

Rebels win the deployment roll off, getting to pick the side and forcing the Imperials to start deployment first. Support platoon with E-Web blasters set up shop in the woods on top of the hill towards the bottom of the pic.
Rebels set up using cover to screen their infantry from Imperial fire (they hope) – mechs lurk in the rocky gulch, speeder bike team in the woods to the bottom of the pic
Overview of the battlefield – Rebels stage left, Imperials stage right, Outpost 44 dead centre
Vader leads the Imperial attack from the front – “Leave them to me!”
Rebel speeders burst from cover, performing a hit and run attack destroying one AT-PT and damaging another, using a command point to move them back into cover before Imperial fire can respond
First blood to the Rebellion!
…aaand back into cover before return fire hits!
Rebel infantry storm forward to consolidate the objective
Yeah, we’ve got line of sight…. (say the Imperial support platoon)
Where’d Yellow platoon go?!? The Empire Strikes Back!
The first turn ends with the Rebels in control of Outpost 44 but they’ve taken significant casualties and Lord Vader is marching forwards…
Red platoon double time forward to capture the outpost, successfully using a command point to gun down a Stormtrooper platoon caught out in the open
Marching forward into cover, Imperial AT-PTs catch a Rebel speeder in the open and damage it
Imperial and Rebel speeder bike teams duel at point blank range in the forest
Inconclusive, but definitely bloody!

Imperial support platoon draws a bead on the exposed Rebel mechs… 6’s to hit?

That’ll do..
Die, Rebel Scum!!
Vader leads the remaining Stormtroopers in a last ditch attack towards the outpost
The moment we’ve all been waiting for! Vader engages Luke in close combat – “I AM YOUR FATHER!”
“NOW YOUR FAILURE IS COMPLETE!” Vader fells Luke and the Rebel platoon look at each other nervously..
…before annihilating him with the combined fire of a full platoon’s blasters! Actually in retrospect we should probably have done all this as close combat, maybe some form of Force shenanigans.. as it was, he took 18 hits, fluffed every Force save and every Hero save…. “NOOOOOOO!”
Rebel speeder team carries the duel in the woods
With the remaining Stormtroopers annihilated by the second Rebel platoon, the support platoon weigh up their options as the sole remaining Imperial unit and decide to retreat to fight another day… it was close, but the Rebel Alliance wins this round!

All in all, a fun little game – we need to finesse the “fighting in buildings” aspect, we were a little inconsistent with how we abstracted that, but on the whole, a solid rules engine and I think we’ve struck a good balance between alternate activation and IGO/UGO mechanics, as well as the range abstraction that dogs wargames… Till next time, May The Force Be With You (particularly if you’re Ukrainian)!

The Big One Pt.2 – To Battle!

And thus was battle joined… We’ve decided to split this report across a couple of posts due to the sheer size of the game and therefore the length of time posts take to write… with this one, there’s every chance you wouldn’t be hearing from us again this side of Christmas! Anyway – enjoy the first two turns:

Turn 1 –

Goodies – most of the Atlantic Alliance, all the Sky Marines and the Crimson Fists arrive.

Baddies – most of the Holy Soviet Army (but no IS-6 or Stompy Uncle Joe), Da Skooderia, most of the PFH 237th arrive.

Goodies bag initiative and get the first few shots off – a Silverbug glides forward and looses off a pair of Stinger/TOW ADATS missiles at the lead T-48s
This blows the cannon off one tank and severs the fuel line of the second, which is quickly finished off by a salvo from the Avenger cannon. First blood to the Goodies!
Holy Soviet Army troops wait for the signal to move alongside the Orcs of Da Skooderia
Elements of the People’s Front Of Hazzard 237th Freedom Brigade shelter in place in the Skalk Point plasma generator station. Creighton light assault vehicle on the extreme left.
Crimson Fists deploy from their APC to secure the objective while Da Skooderia leadership deploy forward into cover
Crimson Fists lose two commandos to fire from the Holy Soviet Army No. 1 Rifle Squad…
Reaction fire downs four Soviet riflemen, but the Russians hold fast under the gaze of their Commissar
Mobile units on both sides sprint for the objective
Lethal fire slaughters Soviet riflemen caught in the open, immobilising and cutting the fuel line on the assault gun
On the Goodie’s left flank, Grand Alliance Sky Marines advance through the heights above the beach
Expert sniping from the Milibandalorian boys deployed on the roof of the command centre annihilates Bravo squad in a storm of plasma!
A superb long range Stinger/ TOW shot from combat support bot (top left) arcs and twists through the trees ,immobilising the 237th PFH’s Creighton tank!
Having been lurking out of sight in the power station, another T-48 roars out of cover and demolishes an M113 with it’s main gun, although fire from it’s machine guns patters harmlessly off the Crimson Fist’s power armour
“Comrade, was that tree always there?” – M42 Stealth Tank performs its’ party trick
The situation at the end of Turn 1 – Goodies command the objective with a single Crimson Fist squad, but have lost two of the elite troopers, plus an M113, damage to a Silverbug, as well as all of Bravo squad and the RTO. Meanwhile the baddies have lost almost all of No. 1 rifle squad, a T-48 and 3 more damaged.

Turn 2 –

Goodies – most of the rest of the Atlantic Alliance bar the two Humvees, League of European Nations – HQ, Jagers, infantry, Ancien Regime rifle regiment & Steam Tank

Baddies – More Soviet infantry, Orc Archers, and as you’ll see, the bulk of the Virum Nascii…

Allied reinforcements hit the beach, but look at the top of the photo….
ALL THE RATS!!!!!!!!! Turns out, Dan had had the plan for this ever since we wrote the rules for the Virum Nascii special weapons teams – the Vrilgrinder teams had been steadily tunnelling through reality itself and as a result they were able to deploy right on the objective, swamping the Crimson Fists lead fireteam and Pedrov Kantrov!
Silverbugs let loose their weapons and arch away from close assault range, Avenger cannons downing three plague priests..
Stinger/ Tow ADATS missiles blow the heat cannon off the Creighton
The Rocketeers throttle forward to try and help the embattled Special Forces team but the rats achieve Frenzy and tear the elite SAS troopers apart!
Said Ratmen are promptly immolated by a plasma missile from the Crimson Fists! The survivors pumped full of heavy calibre explosive rounds
“There’s too many!”
Swamped by Virum Nascii from all sides, even Pedrov Kantrov can’t hold out!
While the Goodies are distracted by the whirling melee, massacring Ratmen right left and centre – a regiment of humble Slaves pick up the objective and start to leg it back to Baddie lines
Atlantic Alliance M113 darts forwards, machine guns pouring fire into the Slave regiment with the spaceship, killing 7 slaves and suppressing them
More Virum Nascii Slaves swarm the Allied infantry on the heights, wiping out Delta squad but dying to a rat in the process..
Kimi Rorkonnen brings Red 7 into play, his gunner Felipe Masha unleashing the heat cannon onto an Allied M60A3 Centurion, blowing the turret off!
Virum Nascii special weapons teams come into play, Vrilrifles damage an M113 pursuing the Slaves carrying the spaceship – immobilising it and blowing a machinegun off it
The second team blow up an M60A3!!
Jagers Marsch!
Cobra missiles from the Jagers demolish Red 7, adding to the utter carnage in the central valley
Ze Churmans are heavily in the fight, 88mw laser destroying Da Skooderia’s battlewagon…
But the sorcerer cabal of the People’s Front Of Hazzard have managed to conjure up a psychically induced wall of fire across the entrance to the ruined town!
The view from the Goodie lines as Turn 2 ends…
Utter carnage in the centre!
Utter chaos as we try and work out who’s winning….
Charles LeclOrk in warbuggy Red 16 surveys a scene of utter bedlam and devastation…and most heartily approves!

So that’s the end of turn 2 and despite monstrous casualties the Baddies are in a good position… they’ve got the downed spacecraft and are scuttling back to their table edge with it, and the main route for the Goodies is largely inaccessible due to wrecked armour and magic fire… what adventures will turn 3 bring?!? Stay tuned, stay thrifty, and stay healthy and safe out there, we’ll be back soon!

The Big One (Pt. 1)



And what better way to celebrate our new found glorious, double-jabbed-plus-two-weeks liberty than by reinstating our Grand Summer Megagame…

Now, admittedly, the last time we did this we managed to precipitate the Great Plague Of 2020, so it’s entirely possible that in a couple of months we’ll be staring at a blank screen lamenting the collapse of humanity to an alien invasion… but we’re willing to take that risk. Let’s break out the toy soldiers!

As before, the mantra was WE BRING EVERONE.

So that’s all the factions we’d built in 20mm for Apocalypse: Earth, Hyperian Wars and Future Force Warrior – seeing as these three games are all built around the same basic principles, they’ve proved to be pretty compatible. And as before, we divided them into two rough factions, “goodies” and “baddies”. Orders of battle below:


Atlantic Alliance (A:E)

League Of European Nations (A:E)

People’s State Liberation Army 1977th Guards Regiment (FFW)

People’s State Liberation Army Special Forces “Crimson Fist” Squadron (FFW)

Ancien Regime (HW)

Grand Alliance Sky Marines (HW)


Holy Soviet Empire (A:E)

Da Skooderia (FFW)

People’s Front Of Hazzard 37th Freedom Brigade (with associated civilian elements) (FFW)

Lord Ratticus’ Virum Nascii Horde (HW)

Orcs (HW)

Last time out the baddies had been significantly outnumbered and outgunned, but we’d finished adding some special weapons to the Virum Nascii, not to mention about 100 fantasy Orcs, the PFH rebels with their cabal of powerful psychics and a cloud of armed civilians… should be a close run thing!

We also faced a problem this time – having EVERYONE on the table was just not going to work – there just wasn’t room- so we came up with a different scenario to the basic “Kill ‘Em All” approach of last time. This time we placed an objective – in this instance a downed spaceship (3D printer Dan’s son had lovingly assembled and then sat on) – dead centre. The aim would be to pick up the spaceship and move it off your table – the unit carrying the spaceship would only be able to move at half speed and the objective would only be able to captured from Turn 2 onwards.

For deployment, all forces would be available but each unit would have to pass a reaction roll to appear.. each subsequent turn that roll would get a +1 bonus, then an extra +1 the turn after that and so on.

We set the table up with all the biggies – Mel Bay, Bose Cliffs, Skalk Point and the plasma reactors, ruins , BIG RUINS, and military buildings – with half the table rural and half urban, and I’ve got to say, biased as I am it all looked GOOD. Check it out:

Into The Valley Of Death….

We diced for table edge – the Baddies winning and choosing the ruined city, leaving the Goodies with the beach landing – and then we began to deploy units alternately as per the Apocalypse Earth rulebook, rolling for availability as we went…

Goodies hit the beach – although NONE of ze Churmans or the PSLA 1977th made their rolls, we got the Fists, most of the Atlantic Alliance and the Sky Marines
The Baddies rolled with most of the Holy Soviet Army (Stompy Uncle Joe and the Rampager having failed their reaction rolls), Da Skooderia, the People’s Front Of Hazzard 237th – the Orcs failed their rolls and mysteriously there was no sign of the Virum Nascii….
Birds’ eye view..

And thus the stage was set for quite the showdown – stay tuned for the next episode!

Great Minds Think Alike

I write this post with my tongue somehwat in my cheek, and a wry grin upon my face….. but I just couldn’t resist 😉

We’ve treatised (is that a word?) in these pages before about games design, but this is something a little different. In this recent post about the new Kill Team set, (great trailer, by the way), GW revealed the basic mechanic that propels the game, lauding it as very different from 40k with it’s IGO UGO system, strictly defined turn phases and so forth. KT will instead be largely alternate activation, with models having a set number of action points to spend to do things like shoot, move, plant explosives etc.

This will, we are told, make games more flexible, more tactical and reactive.

And it will.

Because it’s exactly the same as Apocalypse: Earth.

Alternating activations? Check.

Action points? Check.

No set move or fire phase? Check.

Imitation, they say, is the greatest form of flattery…. 😉

They’ve even given the base guys – Guardsmen, Orks and so forth – 2 action points (as we have), whilst Space Marines – both vanilla and spiky – get 3. Which was – is – exactly what we plan to be the Greys thing when we eventually figure out what we’re doing with them.

Now, before everyone in the comments tells me how wrong I am for thinking that Dan & I came up with this concept, I know it’s present in other things – I think Space Hulk works that way (although I’ve ever actually played it), and Betrayal At Calth has something similar. A good idea is a good idea and it’s perfectly possible for people to have the same idea independently of each other.

I guess the point of this post is twofold – 1) GW, if you see our system and think we’re copying you, check the dates – we got you beat by 7 years! – 2) If you’re planning on springing for Kill Team (and we are pretty tempted, it must be said), maybe put a fiver aside and give our system a try….

We’ve also been toying with the idea of a “One Page” take on Apocalypse: Earth – a pared down version with just combat rules on a single A4 sheet. Let me know in the comments if you’re interested, and stay safe and thrifty out there!

GDF Fight Club Update #2

Back again after a few more GrimDark Future scraps out in the gaming shed as the nights draw in (and as a second lockdown looms, making the best of the opportunity while we have it..) – the Human Defence Force in the guise of the Hazzard 1977th Planetary Defence Force Regiment have retired from the field having placed themselves clearly in the lead with three wins and a draw, but behind them Ratticus McStilton’s Ratmen have a draw to their credit and the Rebel Guerillas of the People’s Front Of Hazzard 237th Freedom Brigade have a win in their pocket, so it ain’t over yet!

Game 6 – Ratmen Clans vs Orc Marauders

Ratmen muster in the cover of the ruins, while weapon experts team provide cover
Orcs deploy in cover, ready to pounce on the objectives
Orc truck moves forward, to engage the Ratmen team with it’s heavy machinegun – completely missing it’s target, and in return Ratmen rockets and plasma rifle destroy it!
The passengers – Warlord and his elite power armoured orcs – survive, however, and are able to move directly on to the objective! This would prove a crucial point as the game unfolded.
Having used their Scout ability to deploy forwards, the Commando orcs huddle on to to their objective despite losing an orc to the Ratmen Clan Mother grenade launcher- da boyz grumble about this being unOrky, but all the Skooderia have to do is hold on to their two objectives and that’s a win! It’s now up to the Ratmen to dislodge them – and Orcs are pretty tough!
Da Boyz hold station in the woods, no doubt grumbling… but Warlord Enzo Ferrorki has a plan!
Turn 1 ends with the Orcs in control of two objectives to the Ratmen’s one, but the rat swarms and saboteurs are massing in the streets for an attack…
Swarms are up first, killing two Orcs for the loss of one of their own.
Saboteurs pour into the ruined farmhouse, getting to grips with the commandos!
Across the street, the Warlord and his power armoured orcs pour fire into a third saboteur team, killing three and pinning the unit
With the Ratmen assault spent – and one stubborn commando still holding on – da Boyz are let loose to counterattack! All together – WAAAAAAAGH!
It’s a massacre! Saboteurs are wiped out for the loss of two orcs… Orcs really are lethal in close combat!
Turn 2 ends with the Ratmen assault spent and Da Skooderia firmly entrenched on two objectives – can the remaining Ratmen forces inflict enough punishment to break the orcs? Or can the Orcs weather the storm?
Ratmen weapons team pour heavy machinegun, rockets and plasma rifle fire into the Boyz in the farmhouse objective, killing four and pinning the mob
Return fire kills the plasma rifle weapons expert – the orcs are still holding as Turn 3 closes!
Ratmen hurl everything they’ve got at the Boyz in the farmhouse – grenades, heavy weapons, psychic powers – just managing to kill the remaining orcs..
….allowing the two remaining Ratmen saboteurs to sneak in and pull off a win literally on the last move of the game!

Well, that was quite something, went down almost to the last dice roll of the game – congratulations to Ratticus McStilton, he won fair and square, leaving Orc Warlord Enzo Ferrorki to seethe, knock a few heads together and come back with a new plan for the next game…

So that leaves the scores as –

Human Defence Force – 3.5

Ratmen Clans – 1.5

Rebel Guerillas – 1

Orc Marauders & Battle Brothers – 0

Winner stays on, so that’ll be the Ratmen facing the Peope’s Front Of Hazzard in their next game (lockdowns permitting..)

Game 7 – Ratmen v Rebel Guerillas

Winner stays on, so in this battle Ratticus’ boys will be taking on the People’s Front Of Hazzard 237th Freedom Brigade – can the defenders of social justice, equality and diversity face down the cheese eating vicious mutants?

The battlefield
Ratmen gather in the hills behind the ruined village
The People’s Front deploy into the woods on the other side of the ruined village
Ratmen weapons experts crest the hill top, heavy machinegun fire pouring into the Rebel squad in the woods..
Killing three and pinning the squad. First blood to the cheese eaters!
Rebel assault vehicle manoeuvres out of sight of the Ratmen heavy weapon teams
Rebel psychic casts Furious Blaze, immolating one of the Ratmen saboteurs
As Turn 2 starts, the rebel’s Creighton-pattern Assault Vehicle neatly flanks the same saboteur team, killing one with its Nova Cannon
The same saboteurs decide enough is enough where they are and charge a Rebel psychic, but neither side inflicts damage in a messy round of melee
Much more decisive is the Ratmen Tangled Psychic’s use f Pestilence, which wipes out the Rebel squad holding the farmhouse!
This unexpected success forces both sides to bring up their main assaults a turn earlier than planned, and the woods behind the farmhouse become a messy, blood soaked melee!
Neither side clearly having the upper hand in the scrap in the woods, Turn 2 ends with Ratmen firmly holding the Kubica Pass objective (top of pic), the Milibandalorian boys firmly in control of the hilltop objective in the centre and the farmhouse objective heavily contested
Turn 3 opens with the Ratmen weapons team and the Milibandalorian brothers blazing away at each other.. the Tangled Psychic gets involved and when the dust settles, the Rebel bounty hunters are down and the hilltop objective is clear! Now it’s a race between Rebel snipers and Ratmen saboteurs to claim it..
As Turn 3 ends it’s STILL impossible to say who’s winning the big melee but the Ratmen are now up 1-0 in objectives..
Final turn! A desperate race to the top of the hilltop objective sees it contested by Rebel snipers and Ratmen Clan Mother…
Ratmen weapons team opens up and it’s not contested any longer!
In a desperate and brutal move, the Rebel tank charges forward and crushes a Ratmen saboteur against the farmhouse wall! Sometimes you’ve got to get up close and personal to dispense social justice..
Turn 4 finishes and still the woods are a blur of fists, teeth, blades and roiling psychic powers.. but while the PFH are putting up a stiff defence of the farmhouse objective they have been pushed off the other two, so that’s 2-0 to the Ratmen – Ratmen win!

Whew, that was a belter – could have gone either way really, but when the bounty hunters got hosed off the hilltop objective that was really the end of PFH victory hopes. One hell of a fight around that farmhouse though, and the very cinematic moment of the rebel tank crushing a Ratman against the wall was one of the standout moments of the game! SO that brings the scores to:

Human Defence Force – 3.5

Ratmen Clans – 2.5

Rebel Guerillas – 1

Orc Marauders & Battle Brothers – 0

Once again, winner stays on, so next up the Ratmen clans will fight the Battle Brothers for a chance to share the trophy with the Human Defence Force! See you then (lockdowns permitting…) ..

Game 8 – Ratmen Clans vs Battle Brothers

So we return to the slippery Ratmen, this time facing (trans)humanity’s finest – the Battle Brothers! It has to be said, the Brothers have fared pretty poorly so far – their concept of deploying fast via APC and getting stuck in, relying on their power armour (Defence 2+) to keep them alive has NOT worked out so far (although their dice rolling has generally been appalling), so perhaps a new approach is necessary…

The stage is set..
Villainous Ratmen gather in the woods..

Battle Brothers deploy rather more cautiously than in previous games – note no one is in the APC..
Brothers’ squad deploy onto the ruined church objective, Ratmen weapon experts seize the hilltop but one falls to Brothers’ fire
Ratmen saboteurs seize a second objective, but takes casualties from the Brothers’ support squad
Brothers’ missile launcher causes another weapon expert casualty
Fire from the Brothers’ APC downs another weapon expert, pinning the unit – they are joined by the Clan Mother as turn 1 ends, while more saboteurs secure the other objective, the Rat Swarms infiltrate through the ruins and the Tangled Psychic finds a sheltered spot…
Turn 2 sees the demise of the Ratmen weapon expert team, the steady advance of the Rat Swarms and more Ratmen casualties
Saboteur team ready to reinforce hilltop objective – still no casualties amongst the Brothers..
Turn 3 and it all hits the fan! Brthers’ commander uses his jet pack to vault onto the hilltop objective and engage the Clan Mother in melee, while the squad in the church and the APC give supporting fire, slaughtering the saboteur team
Brothers’ squad advances through the farmhouse
Rat Swarms assault the Brothers’ support squad – this does not go well…
Turn 4 opens with the Brothers’ commander finishing off the Clan Mother in melee, seizing the objective!
With the hilltop secured, the APC pours fire into the saboteurs in the ruins, allowing the Brothers to storm forward and contest the objective..
Rat swarms fell a Brother (their only casualty of the game!) but it’s not enough, the Brothers hold two objectives with one contested – a VERY solid win for the Brothers!

Well, that was unexpected after the kicking they’ve taken in their previous game! Although in fairness, me forgetting to use the Tangled Psychic didn’t exactly help matters.. still, props to Dan, he played very cleverly and crucially played to the mission – hold more objectives then your opponent when turn 4 ends, not turn 1. We’ll probably switch up objectives, maybe some sort of kill points system for next season but for now we’re doing pure vanilla GrimDark Future – so next game, winner stays on and it’ll be the Brothers’ taking on Da Skooderia!

Human Defence Force – 3.5

Ratmen Clans – 2.5

Rebel Guerillas – 1

Battle Brothers – 1

Orc Marauders – 0

It’s A(nother) Mash Up! The Battle At The Farm, 9th Ed Style #new40k #RogueTrader

This is becoming something of a tradition, so I won’t go too much into the background here. Suffice it to say that back in the original (read: charmingly kitsch but practically unplayable) version of 40k – the mythical Rogue Trader era:

Thanks for stealing my childhood, you bastard

And in the back of said tome was a scenario entitled “The Battle At The Farm” which basically involved the survivors of the Crimson Fists ambushing an Ork patrol who have designs on some loot left in said farm. Back before there were box sets, this book actually had counters as proxies for miniatures… somehow can’t imagine that happening in the age of Indomitus 😉

So with the release of 9th ed and the core rules available online (kinda.. more on that later!) -and with our little bit of Leicestershire coming out of lockdown, thank CHRIST – it was an ideal opportunity to break out the Orks of Da Skooderia and the scratchbuilt Crimson Fists to do battle once more. Here’s how it went down:

The field of battle – the Farm located in the centre, filled with Marines ready to do the business
Remember these guys? I could swear, 8th only dropped yesterday and we were all psyched for Dark Imperium..
There’s trouble afoot – Orks deploy onto the hilltop
Orks survey their target – Crimson Fists burnt out Rhino APC added for scenic flavour
With no targets to shoot at because the Marines are being cowards, hiding in the farmhouse, hrugg splits his force – Hruk leads two squads across open ground toward the farmhouse while Thrugg leads a flanking manoeuvre through the orchard
Turn 2 and with the Orks in range, the Marines reveal their first squad – Orks in the open, 3+ to hit…
Happily – and in marked contrast to the last time we fought this battle – the Crimson Fists have missile launcher operator who can actually see, and promptly wastes four Orks on the hillside
Remaining greenskin legs it!
Hruk’s force engage frontally, hoping to tie the Marines up in a firefight- remember we’re using RT rules here, Orks are BS 3 (or 4+ in modern 40k)
Impressively, they actually cause a kill! Although 9th comes with some nifty cover rules, none of them are in the core rules.. so we bodged something, decided on a -1 to hit when in cover. Back in the day (1987), Marines were T3 and a 4+ save, so a lot more fragile!
Orks advance across open ground, hugging what cover is available and laying down the dakka…
..concentrating it all on the Crimson Fists’ missile launcher operator, who falls to a lucky bolt shell!
Meanwhile. Thrugg leads his depleted ladz in an advance through the orchard..
The Imperium strikes back! Pedro Cantor and the other two squads deploy from hiding, one taking on the Orks in the open while Pedro leads a counterattack through the orchard
Now the Marines prove why they’re humanity’s finest – Pedro and his counterattcking squad drop five Orks in one round of firing!
Meanwhile it’s a full on firefight outside the farm – Marines drop three Orks but lose two of their own to Ork bolter fire, while Hruk gets a third with his plasma pistol
It’s up close and personal in the orchard – Thrugg fails his charge roll but his ladz pile in, while Pedro Cantor performs a Heroic Intervention (amid much checking of rules) – it was here that we realised, hilariously, that although GW put exhaustive descriptions of pile ins, Heroic Interventions and such, nowhere in the core rules have they actually explained how you resolve close combat X-D thankfully we’ve done this before….
Pedro Cantor and sidekick drop two Orks without so much as a scratch in return…
Having wiped out Thrugg’s boyz in the orchard, the Marines consolidate forwards into the woods toward Da Boss
In front of the farm, three of Hrud’s ladz fall to Marine bolters and another flees the scene
His plans in ruins, Thrugg decides to go down swinging – the way an Ork should! He hurls himself at Pedro Cantor, inflicting a wound with his plasma pistol…
Brushing aside the pain, Pedro Cantor grips the frenzied Ork boss…. crushing his skull with his power fist. Even an Ork boss can’t ignore that!

With that, that left Hrud and a sole Ork Boy on the table facing nine Marines and a wounded Cantor – so we called that a solid Space Marine victory! I wonder if it’s actually possible to win this as an Ork, certainly every battle report I’ve seen or read has the Orks taking a kicking…

9th is quite fun, even just dipping a toe as we were with our converted 1/72 figures, and we didn’t use any Command Points or Stratagems (not in the Core Rules) so I’d be up for giving it a go again, especially with GW’s 40k app giving you rules and codices for £3.99 a month… maybe I can persuade Jim to put it on his iPad… The absence of the core hand to hand combat mechanic was a hilarious omission though, so I’m not sure I’d trust GW’s editing/ quality control team with actual code! Maybe we’ll hold off until we’ve heard from some of you out there in the blogosphere how you got on..

Meantime, stay safe, stay sane, stay thrifty, see you soon!

Further Musings On Game Design.. What Will 9th bring?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or are one of those “normies” just not interested in miniature wargames..) you’ll have heard the big news – Games Workshop, the Evil Empire of the games industry, are releasing a new edition of Warhammer 40,000. This makes it the 9th – although it feels like 8th only came out five minutes ago, but I guess that’s just me.

Needless to say, the forums have been full of speculation about what will be on offer, and some of these discussions have become a bit… heated, shall we say. Particularly with the news that GW will be sticking with the IGOUGO activation – this discussion thread on Dakka got very salty very quickly, and it got me thinking.

I’ve already posted some thoughts about game design and support, but I got to pondering the reasons why GW stick to this core idea for 40k but get so much more imaginative for other systems – and I’ve come up with a few real world analogies.

Consider the Porsche 911. Evolution of the Volkswagen Beetle, air cooled engine in the back way out behind the axle. Undoubtedly iconic, but also a bit of a handful, and well recognised as a yuppie-killer during the 80s. Over the years Porsche have tried all manner of drastic – stuffing the front bumper full of lead – and less drastic measures to even it out and from all accounts it now truly is a brilliant, balanced driving machine.

And if I ever get the chance to drive one, I’ll let you know my thoughts.

However, a few years ago they introduced the Cayman – lighter, cheaper, mid-engined.. and a fundamentally better design to the point where they’ve had to hobble it by not letting it have a limited slip differential (thing that makes it go faster) and slightly detuning the engine to produce 15-20bho less than the 911. Because it can’t be seen to be faster than the 911. Although several of Porsche’s designers have gone on record as saying that f they designed the 911 now, it would be the same as the Cayman, that moment has passed – the Cayman is fundamentally the better sports car, but the job of the 911 isn’t to be the greatest sportscar anymore – it’s to be the 911. It’s to be an icon. And you can’t f*ck with an icon.

See where we’re going?

OK, now to the world of guitars. Consider the Gibson Les Paul. Great big slab of mahogany, two big humbuckers (big fat sounding pickups), only one cutaway so top fret access is limited (tough to get the high notes).

And then Gibson’s arch-rival, Fender, introduced the Stratocaster – whammy bar (wiggly thing that changes the pitch of the notes), THREE pickups, lighter and more versatile..

A couple of years later, Gibson retired the Les Paul and brought in the SG – lighter, easier top fret access, more versatile:

The SG was supposed to be the lighter, more affordable, more versatile replacement for the Les Paul (as the Stratocaster was supposed to be for the Telecaster). You can still buy a Les Paul. You can still buy a Telecaster. What does that tell you?

Some people – a LOT of people – don’t want objectively good. They want the classic. They want The Icon. And that’s what 40k is.

Wait, 40k a design classic? But there’s so much wrong with it – IGO UGO, turn phases, list building… yes, but if you want better rules play Kill Team or Necromunda or Apocalypse or Blackstone Fortress or Betrayal At Calth or Epic (which I always dug as a kid more than 40k) . BUT 40k is no longer designed to be an objectively great game – it’s job is to be 40k. See the comparison?

Just as there are designers at Porsche who would LOVE to redesign the 911, just as there are designers at Gibson who would LOVE to redesign the Les Paul, I’m sure there are designers at GW who would love to redesign 40k from the ground up – look at Blackstone Fortress, or Kill Team etc. In fact, Christ , look at Epic back in the day! But they’re stuck. 40k has been around since 1987 – it has players who have been playing that long. They have certain expectations of how the game will play, and have done for 30+ years. And IGOUGO sits at the heart of that. These players have been around since Rogue Trader (more or less… we came in at the end of the RT era, ater GW had patched the hell out of it with Compilations, Compendiums, Vehicle Manuals and Battle Manuals) – you cant just ditch them, that would be a real betrayal of the fanbase. So what’s the answer?

I suspect 9th – at least to begin with – will be a pretty good answer. I anticipate a bodge of 8th with bits of 7th to add a level of detail.. I must admit we’ve only played a few games of 8th but there were a few bits of it that didn’t feel quite right to me, almost like they’d thrown the baby out with the bathwater in search f streamlining. So will we be buying it? No. No chance. But that’s because we’re cheap. Should YOU buy it?

Honestly? If you want to get into 40k and you have £100 or so to spare.. actually yes, I reckon you could do worse. As well as the box set usually being a (relatively speaking) good deal in terms of miniatures, 40k as a game always seems to get a lot of love when new editions drop, before power creep happens – and as 9th is being posited as an evolution, not a revolution. I think 9th could be a great time to get into 40k. For three or four months.

Meanwhile, we’ll grab what minis we can on eBay and play Grimdark Future and Future Force Warrior with the intent of someday getting the bastard finished and published!

Hmm.. I reach the end of this post with no clear conclusion… but I am curious to see the new box… what do our friends out there in the blogosphere make of it all?

Apocalypse Earth: Black Ops Playtest – Sweep & Clear

For a while now we’ve been playing with the idea of “scaling” the Apocalypse: Earth setting for different games – just as back in the day GW had Epic, 40k and Necromunda for massed battles, intermediate and small scale skirmishes with different levels of detail, we’ve been toying with the idea of a 6mm mass battle version as well as an intimate, up-close-and-personal RPG (of sorts) set in the shadows of the Apocalypse: Earth universe.

To begin with, we thought we’d shift the focus from Allies v Holy Soviet Empire, and shine a light on some of the small scale behind the lines security.. Now, one of the factions that we haven’t explored too much on the tabletop are the extraterrestrials – the iconic Greys! If you’ve read the fluff, you’ll know that the main reason the Atlantic Alliance has the jump on the other sides in terms of technology is due to an alien spacecraft crashing in the deserts of Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. Ever since then, Alliance scientists have been busily reverse engineering every aspect they can, creating the UNIVAC artificial intelligence to run the everyday infrastructure (and maybe more..) of Alliance nations, and the ARPANet instant electronic communications network, as well as the antigrav tech that powers things like the Silverbug gunships.

But although we haven’t seen the Greys in open battle yet, behind the lines it’s a different story, as elite security teams drawn from the best Allied combat units fight desperate small unit actions against alien infiltrators!

Accordingly tonight’s game pitted our gallant Alliance Special Forces team against an unknown foe, sweeping across an abandoned industrial sector..

The battlefield laid out.. SpecForce team in bottom left, with four objective markers four the team to check out and clear
The team deploy into cover
The team approach the first objective, cunningly concealed behind the two crashed cars..
Specialist Stewart trains his weapon on the objective, setting overwatch as Specialist Hill moves in to check the objective..
..we roll on the threat table, and out come two Mind Slaves with light weapons!
Clearly taken by surprise, Hill’s rounds go wild, missing completely!
Mercifully, Stewart is on overwatch, dropping a mind slave instantly. The second one attacks Hill in close combat, but the specialist has clearly recovered his composure and takes it down swiftly and brutally!
The team move cautiously toward the next objective..
..but the GM has some nasty surprises in store! We’re trying to figure out a way to simulate sod’s law in combat.. this is getting us some of the way there!
To Specialist Hill’s immense relief, Objective 2 turns out to be blank!
Hill and Moss clear Objective 4, but Objective 3 spawns a pair of mind slaves with pistols, stunning both Stewart and Hunt, and wounding Hunt’s leg into the bargain!
Thankfully Hill is on overwatch, and despite being hit with a jam, he clears the stoppage and takes down the two mind slaves with a couple of clean head shots.

And with that, the game is over! A resounding victory for the Special Forces team, but bear in mind that this is the lowest threat level, and would be an encounter that takes place at the start of a campaign. A fun, and at times pretty tense mission, looking forward to more playtesting on this!

Till next time, stay thrifty (and dry..) out there, see you soon!

Musings on Game Design…Or, Can 40k Ever be “Good”?

You find me in a philosophical mood. Maybe it’s the time of year, maybe it’s the copious amount of whiskey flowing through my veins in an attempt to shift this cold I’ve acquired…

In any case, I’ve found myself surfing a few forums like TMP and Dakka and coming across rafts of… debate, let’s call it, about the state of Games Workshop and 40k in particular. Broken units, no balance, people furious about their favourite unit suddenly being made overpowered or underpowered or invalidated altogether. Then you have players of games such as Adeptus Titanicus annoyed about the lack of “support” – ie, new stuff – they’re getting (to be fair, they’ve got a point – GW’s Facebook post about the box of new Warlord Titan weapons “will have a Warlord in it too” was such an utterly hilarious and terrible marketing/PR decision that you can’t help wondering if they’ve been moonlighting for Boris Johnson’s campaign team)

Picture linked from Fawcett Avenue Conscripts blog:

Anyway it got me thinking. If you “support” a game, that means you expand the setting, you add new stuff – we’ve got similar things planned for Apocalypse: Earth, delving deeper into each faction’s history and more esoteric units, but seeing as it’s just the two of us writing it all and one of us is holed up with a cold it’s safe to say we won’t be releasing anything anytime soon. Now this is all well and good up to a point, but if you’re GW and your business model depends on releasing New Stuff year on year, at some point you’re going to overload your core system – the rules can only take so many New Things.

Why? Two reasons: Granularity. 40K & Age Of Sigmar are built round a D6 system – nothing inherently wrong with that, our game is too – but it does put a limit on the number of variables a unit can have. Particularly in the latest (8th) edition where things like vehicle fire arcs and armour facings have been done away with. Eventually you’re going to introduce New Things that are statistically identical to the Old Things. This brings me to the second consideration: GW is fundamentally a model company. Even the most diehard 40k/ AOS fan is going to buy waaaaaaay more models than they are books. Their monthly magazine, White Dwarf, is primarily a marketing tool to sell more of the latest New Thing (yes, there are useful and interesting articles in there but at it’s heart it’s a GW product with the primary function of selling more GW products) – but for a player, there has to be a reason to by the New Thing. It has to be functionally better than the Old Thing it goes alongside or replaces – for example, why buy a new Invictor Tactical Warsuit model if the Dreadnought that you’ve already got does the same job? And this inevitably leads to power creep, as each faction gets New Stuff to counter the other guys’ New Stuff to the point where your basic grunt is utterly useless, just there to die on Turn 1. At which point the games has to reset and hello, New Edition. And so the cycle continues.

Of course, if GW doesn’t sell new models and bring out new things… well, Duncan, Peachy and co have bills to pay. The stores don’t heat and light themselves. Without the constant commercial imperative powering everything then the company would fold and there’s no 40k for any of us (never mind the hundreds of people out of a job and the death of one of the few business success stories the UK can be proud of). So GW really is a victim of it’s own success – failure to release significant quantities of New Stuff means that players accustomed to this level of “support” feel they’ve been abandoned, whereas “support” past a certain point pushes the game into power creep where only the newest and shiniest of models are worth the cost. Not to mention the constant slew of codexes, Chapter Approved and FAQ books… I read (admittedly on Dakka, so this may not be 100% accurate) that there are now 144 documents needed for playing 40k. Now I’m sure this is an exaggeration, but really, more than 2-3 books is surely nuts.

Is there a solution? I think no – not for GW, anyway, they can’t stop expanding and evolving their models and rules. If they stop, they die. No new models/ rules? What do you put in White Dwarf this month then? One Page Rules do a good job of combatting this, but I can’t see GW going down that route, it wouldn’t square with their production values and codex-based business model.

For us, we’re doing the core book for each system and eventually a sourcebook for each faction and that’s it, anything else we think of we’ll add to the blog and make available as a free download (like the Kugelpanzers back in April).

So there we have it, bit of a ramble this month, but I’m full of whiskey and bird flu and wanted to get this off my chest – what are your thoughts on the thorny issue of “support” for a game? Am I right about the inevitable imbalance of a big name game system like 40k? Do Privateer Press or Fantasy Flight Games have these issues? Drop a comment and let us know – meantime, stay thrifty out there and see you again soon!