Wednesday, June 30, 2010

VOR Mechanics

So, you know a bit about the fluff, and you saw a couple of those classic miniatures. Now, I want to explain how different Vor is mechanically from games like 40k. Since 40k is the other game I know best, I will be making a lot of direct comparisons.

Firstly, the game of Vor has a spectacular setup to the games. There are a number of pre-generated scenarios right in the rulebook, and unlike some of the ones in the 40k big rule book, you will most likely play a lot of these. There are different variations of scenarios that allow you to get a game in even if you are short on time, or games that will allow you to hold objectives a la 40k style, and more! You also can use any number of great scenarios that are included in expansion publications, like the Conflict: Razorfang book.

This game system is pretty flexible, and allows for multi-player battles that do not need to participate on teams. I've seen scenarios that can be played with 5 or more players, in a free-for-all fashion!

It is worth explaining that everything in Vor is rolled on a D10 system, rather than a D6 system like 40k. This gives you a wider range of probability, meaning the system can fine-tune results a little bit and make more extensive use of conditional modifiers while still keeping rolls limited to a single die.

Ok... so you picked what kind of scenario you want to play. What now? Well, there are not as many deployment methods as in 40k, typically you just get a 24" buffer between your deployment zone and that of your enemy's. So you roll off to pick your deployment zone. The winner can choose to pick first or last. Repeat the roll to choose who deploys first... same deal: winner can choose to go first or last.

Now, instead of 40k, where you never roll again to check who goes first in a turn, in Vor you roll at the beginning of every turn. This is called the Initiative roll, and it occurs at the beginning of every turn. Certain unit abilities can modify this roll to help give you a better result. This keeps the game from being in a set schedule, which can drastically affect the outcome. Imagine if, being a Guard player in 40k, you lost the first roll to go first. You probably are not in too good a spot if you are against an assaulty army! In Vor, however, you can roll again the next turn and try to go before your opponent can. This can alpha-strike some units with a one-two punch before they can do anything again.

That brings me to my next point: in Vor there are no phases, only Activations. Instead of moving everybody, shooting everybody, and assaulting with everybody, there is an activation system. Players alternate Activating units during a turn, and a turn is over once every unit has been activated at least once. It should be noted that you cannot activate the same unit twice in one turn. This makes the game move a bit more simultaneously, so that you won't see an entire army wiped out just because they lost the initiative.

"So how do you do anything?" you might ask. Well, Vor has a Movement Point system that keeps track of how agile a unit is, and how much it can do in a single activation. Let me use a standard Union Infantryman as an example. He has 10 MP. There is a table in the rulebook explaining the cost in movement points (MPC, movement point cost) to perform a given action, and any weapons or abilities he has separate also have their costs listed in their description. A Pitbull rifle's MPC is 3, and it can be used twice per turn. So, if I want him to fire the maximum amount, and still move, I simply do the math: He will need 6MP to fire twice (2 x MPC 3), leaving him 4 MP left for moving. It costs 1 MP to move over open terrain. So, he moves 4 inches and fires twice at an enemy model.

It gets a bit more complicated then that. When you activate a squad of models, they act similar to a 40k squad but yet different. You declare how much movement will be made by the squad, and they have to expend that MP even if an individual model doesn't use all of it.

Speed rolling is also a bit more difficult due to Critical Hits and Critical Misses. When you roll to-hit, a roll of 1 is always the best you can do (critical hit) and a roll of 10 (or a "0" on a ten-sided die) is always the worst (critical miss). It is important to know which came first, because a critical miss will rob the model of any remaining MP for the turn. On the flipside, a critical hit will rob the target of the attack a chance to make a save.

So, let's continue our example of the Union soldier. So he fires twice at that target, and rolls a 2. Solid hit, based on his Ranged Combat stat (which basically replaces BS skill). He rolls again, and rolls a 1! Great shooting.

Instead of going through all the effort to determine the attack's number of wounds BEFORE making saves, Vor gets that out of the way up front. A target model rolls its armor save (if it gets one) immediately after the to-hit roll is successful. This roll can be modified by the weapon or attack being used. Then the attacking player rolls to-wound, based on the attacks Power (basically strength) versus the opponent's Body (basically toughness) with the difference between the two being the modifier to the basic roll.

In our example, the Union soldier was shooting at a Pharon Fist of Anubis (BOD 5, AR 3). His first attack was a normal one, so the Pharon player gets a save. The Pitbull Rifle has an AM (Armor Modifier) of -1, reducing the Fist's AR down to two. Thus, the player needs to roll a 2 or below to make the save. He rolls a 1, miraculously saving the undead creature!

The second attack was a Critical Hit, therefore the Pharon will get no Armor test and the attacking player will skip straight to the damage roll. Comparing the weapons Power (4) to the Fist's Body (5) the difference is one in favor of the Pharon. The base roll for any damage roll is 5 or below, so modifying it in by one in the Pharon's favor brings the result down to 4 or below being the necessary roll.

Models have a number of wounds, called Lifepoints in Vor. Same as 40k, they tend to be only in the range of 1-3, with higher values being reserved for named or special characters.

CC is a bit more complicated. There are similarities between assaults in 40k, and Close Combat in Vor, but there are also many differences. In VOR, you don't get a free amount of distance to move, you have to have the MP left for it. Also, you need to have MP left AFTER the move to attack. A basic, unarmed attack using the basic statistics of the model generally costs 3 MP. So, unlike 40k where you are going to get at least 12" out of a move and assault, in Vor you are going to get a maximum of 9". This limits the effectiveness of CC armies a bit, and puts the focus on Shooting armies. That's not to say that CC armies are ineffective, it just makes it take a bit more finesse than in 40k.

So, there you are. Games can take anywhere from just a few turns (such as a Skirmish) up to 8 or 9 with full-scale games. You can further modify the game by rolling on a special Random Terrain Effects table, which symbolizes the unpredictability of the Malestrom. Anything from planetquakes, to asteroid impacts, to Maw tendrils can happen. It makes for a nice random element to the game to keep things fresh!

Furthermore, you can expand the game with Forcebooks (like codexes, but with some additional stuff like special Terrain tables specific to that race's usual hangouts), or even Conflict Books that include new scenarios and additional rules for your armies!

If that isn't enough, you can always create your very own unique force using the Custom Force Creation rules right in the main rulebook! There are not a fix-all set of rules, but rather a basic guideline to help get you started on making some custom forces with miniatures you have from other game systems. Yes, it is quite common to see Tyranids, Necrons, or even Space Marines lurking around the Malestrom! I've converted everything from Haloclix Miniatures, to Doom: The Boardgame miniatures. As long as they are of the proper scale (or close enough to it anyway) you can convert them to Vor.

So, if this writeup has whetted your palette, then next time I will bring you a full battle report of my first Vor game in over a year. A quite enjoyable matchup between the undead legions of the Pharon, and the military might of the North American Union!

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

VOR Miniatures

Last time, I talked a bit about VOR: The Maelstrom. This time, I will show you a couple of sample miniatures from the original range by Ral Partha. The molds are now in the possession of Iron Wind Metals, and they do a fine job of producing the miniatures.

First up, a pair of Neo-Soviet Vanguard Veterans that I stripped down for a repaint:

Long-time followers of this blog may recognize this fellow, which is simply a Vanguard Vet I embellished with a bit of GS and guitar wire:

Next I have a classic sculpt, the Union basic infantryman that was included in the boxed set:

Now I'm digging really deep, and showing you a picture of one of the alien races... known as the Shard, they are a race of crystal-bound souls that bonded with the psychically-receptive crystal of their home planet to avoid being sucked up by the Maw. They are pissed because they used to be immortal souls in the normal universe, and now they are shackled within the prisons of their own making. They hate all fleshbound life, which is to say everyone...

This picture is old as sin... I didn't have a real camera, and took these with a crappy web came circa 2008 or so, maybe earlier. It was long before I started 40k, where I refined and developed my skill as a painter. I was really horrible at painting at the time, but I lived in blissful ignorance of my suckage. Anyway, here are a pair of Concussors, long range Shard units that use concentrated bursts of their life-force to blast away their foes:

The power armor used in Vor was vastly different from that used in 40k aesthetically, but fluff-wise it operated much the same. Being new technology, it was regulated to only the most hardcore strike units. Here is another picture from the wayback machine:

So now you have seen some of the great miniatures that were part of what made VOR so awesome. Next time, I'll go over the mechanics of the game and how they differ from that of 40k.

Monday, June 28, 2010

VOR: The Maelstrom

So, here we are. My first non-40k post... AWESOME!

Ok, so enthusiasm curbed, I have resurrected my old Vor Fansite that I let lapse while on my 40k binge. I'll share it with you:

For those of you who have no clue what Vor is, I'll briefly summarize:

In the near-future, the world is recently engulfed in a new war between the North American Union (USA, Canada, and Mexico combined) and the newly risen global megapower: the Neo-Soviet Union. Unafraid to engage in nuclear conflict, the Neo-Sovs kicked off the war by annihilating China with an alpha-strike of atomic warheads. The war in Europe is raging when something ominous darkens the skies...

The Earth then gets plucked from the universe as we know it by a seemingly-sentient entity of stellar proportions... a space-faring anomaly that plucks out planets and other celestial bodies at random and deposits them into a vortex of space (or an alternate dimension?) that is ever spiraling inward... towards an all-consuming core! This anomaly is known to many unfortunate survivors as Vor: The Maelstrom.

Like bugs stuck in a jar together, many of the new inhabitants fight with each other voraciously for resources. Constantly being shaken by the Vor, these races prey on each other in a constant fight for survival. Nothing lasts for very long inside the Maelstrom, so nobody knows how long they will remain safe. The very laws of physics are subject to change inside the Maelstrom, making scientific evaluation difficult.

The Maelstrom is seperated into several different main parts or zones, like an onion or solar system. The furthest extents are hidden by the Veil, a border that has remained impenetrable to any that have tried to escape it. Inexplicably, the Veil has a tendancy to turn around those that attempt to penetrate it, sending them back they way they came. Thus, the Maelstrom has never been escaped.

The Outer Ring is just that, newly inducted worlds that are in a very slow drift or slowly degrading orbit to the core. These are the most stable worlds, but there is no telling when that can change. The Core could change it by lashing out with a tendril of energy, pulling a planet in like a Kraken of myth devouring a sailor. The Outer Ring tends to be a hotbed of conflict, as races fight over the resources on the planets that arrive through the Veil.

The Central Ring is where the end begins to accelerate. Planets become too densely-packed, and collide with each other. Asteroid impacts become more common. Inhabitants of these worlds become even more desperate, and fight all the harder for a safe haven. The forces of the Maelstrom grow stronger here.

In the Inner Ring, life is hard. This area of the Maelstrom is tumultuous, roiling with bale energy and detritus of destroyed worlds on their way to feed the Core. Races have to fight like caged animals to get any sort of resources or sanctuary here, and death is a near-certainty. The powers of the Vor are most powerful here, and any celestial bodies that have made it this far are doomed to be destroyed by this point as they near the core.

The Core, the Vor, or othewise known as the Maw, provides heat and light (much like the sun) to this little slice of space. It pulsates, and it tinges the light with a pink glow, but it makes it so that the Earth can maintain a semblance of normalcy while it is in orbit in the Outer Ring. The Core can cause death at any time though, flailing about with tendrils of energy or sending out pulses of force.

Earth is probably doomed. If not by the Vor, then by the war engulfing the planet. A new space race has started, with both sides seeking to gain a foothold over the other in the imediate region around the planet. Also, the planet is already under siege by alien races, intent on stripping the Earth of its resources.

Ok, so maybe that wasn't a brief description, but enough to get the idea. So in the Malestrom, it is conceivable that you might come across any kind of foe. With that in mind, there are rules for converting any miniatures of appropriate size for use with Vor by giving them unique stats and attacks. While this system is crude, it was intended to be expanded upon in future publications.

That is where the problem comes in. FASA, the company that produced the game, sold most of their stuff to WizKids (makers of Heroclix, Mage Knights, DnD 4.0, etc) and you can imagine what that did to them. However, the rights to Vor went back to their original creator: Mike "Skuzzy" Neilson. He resides over at, planning a re-write into a Vor 2.0. However, it has been several years since then. It looks like there is little progress on a 2.0, but supposedly it was near completion before the project got stopped. I imagine that production costs outweighed practicality, and with the miniature sculpts sold off, it would be hard to revive it from scratch.

That aside, I love the original version of Vor (now sometimes referred to as Vor 1.0). Being from the creators of Battletech games, the fluff and mechanics are actually quite good. You just have to keep in mind it is essentially the 1st edition of the game, and in need of a bit of refinement. The ability to use miniatures from any game system, however, is just too good to pass up, and will keep me playing this game for a long time to come.

If you are interested in trying it out, you might still be able to snag a copy of the rulebook off ebay.

More to come on this great game soon!

Notice anything different?

Yup, this site will no longer be known as FoxPhoenix's 40k. From this point on, it will be reborn as FoxPhoenix's Gaming! That's right, I have finally realized that limiting myself to one game system is entirely too constricting, and restrains the creative process. That... and my gamer's Attention Deficit Disorder doesn't let me stay interested in one thing for very long.

So now, I get to let you guys in on the stuff I have been doing outside of 40k-related projects! I hope to improve my posting frequency by expanding the topics that this blog will cover.

I'm so excited!

Games I plan to start covering in the future:
Vor: The Maelstrom (retro!)
Battletech (more FASA era!)
Doom: The Boardgame by FFG (awesome nostalgia!)
Haloclix (A guilty pleasure of mine)
Various RPGs (Rogue Trader, Dark Heresy, Deathwatch, Mechwarrior 3rd Edition, Shadowrun 4th edition, etc.)

...and anything else I happen to be doing!

So check this out: doomguys!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Turn your head and cough!

Here is what I have done so far on my Daemon sculpt so far. I plan on running it as a Scarbrand until I pony it up with wings, at which point it will become a daemon prince (hopefully I'll have a pair of Balrogs to be my Bloodthirster HQs by then).

I decided I was definitely not skilled enough to try and sculpt a hand, much less a face. Therefore, I used a Tyranid MC rending claw as one hand, and melded a chopped up blade into his other. Additionally I used a Bloodletter Champion's face, as it conveys a lot of the emotion I wanted my model to have.

I have some more work to do to the legs, arms, and left torso, but I am finally at the point where I can say I appear to be closer to the finish than the start!

For my Daemon project, to honor the great Admiral Drax, I made a spreadsheet tracker to keep tabs on my progress. Kind of a fancy "to-do" list for my Daemons. I really want to take this army to a finished standard, and obviously I have a lot of work to do:

So until next time,

Feeling the squeeze...

So the last update I did was on my Daemon sculpt... I realize it has been awhile and I apologize. Some family issues had pulled me away for a while but I am back now. I am also happy to announce that I have initiated the launch on my next 40k army (I have a disease, I know!): Chaos Daemons. Rumor is, they are getting new plastics sometime this year, and from what I have seen they are fantastic! These models also correlate to Dark Heresy games, so I am killing two birds with one stone.

I plan on accumulating roughly 1000 points of each deity. I've got a pretty good start on my Khorne, with about 1000 points that includes bloodletters, Skulltaker, and a Bloodthirster (my daemon sculpt, which will resume as soon as I purchase some more kneadatite/Greenstuff!)

Above is the picture of the test scheme for my Khornate part of the army.

Next up, I'll be using some cheap putty and old catachan models to make some plaguebearers, or I'll resume the daemon sculpt.

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Charnel Daemon Project Update: June 1st

Hey there, hitting you all with a quick update. For my first sculpt, it is going as might be expected. I am trying to limit myself to only a few muscle groups per day, so that I don't screw up my previous work by getting ahead of myself, which is resulting in very slow progress.

I am fairly happy with the results I am achieving, however. I've never sculpted anything more complex than a cloak, so this is sufficiently challenging my skills in the hobby.

As soon as I am done with the body's musclature, I can move on to finishing the fur covering the legs and equipping the model with armor and gear.

That's it for now, I've got more on my table that is begging to be finished! Oh, and before I forget, a quick image of the Sister Hospitaller I painted for my wife's Rogue Trader character:


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