Saturday, October 13, 2012

My First Abaddon List of 6th- 1999 Point Black Legion (Fluffy)

The theme: Abaddon and his personal retinue of Chosen, assisted by members of his legion and cultist "fans" that he uses as fodder. Zaraphiston is known in the lore to be his personal advisor, using powers of divination to foresee events before they happen. Unfortunately, the new CSM codex doesn't allow sorcerers access to Divination, but I wanted to put him on the battlefield anyway.

(HQ) Abbadon the Despoiler - Warlord
(HQ)"Zaraphiston" the Sorcerer w/ Aura of Dark Glory, Mastery Level 3, Mark of Tzeentch
(Troops) Chosen w/ +1 Chosen, Power Weapon Champion with Plasma Pistol, 1 pair Lightning claws, 1 Power Fist, 2 Power Weapons, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, Veterans of the Long War
(Troops) Chosen w/ +1 Chosen, Power Weapon Champion with Plasma Pistol, 1 pair Lightning claws, 1 Power Fist, 2 Power Weapons, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath, Veterans of the Long War
(Troops) Chaos Space Marines with +5 CSM, 2 Plasmaguns, Veterans of the Long War, Champ has PW
(Troops) Chaos Space Marines with +5 CSM, 2 Meltaguns, Veterans of the Long War, Extra CCWs, Champ has PW
(Troops) Chaos Cultists with Autoguns, 20 Man, 2 H. Stubbers, leader has Shotgun
(Troops) Chaos Cultists with CCWs/Pistols, 20 man, 2 Flamers
(Elite) Hellbrute w/ Multimelta
(Elite) Hellbrute w/ TL Lascannon
(Fast Attack) Hell Drake (Thinking of going with the Hades Autocannon to give one extra weapon against fliers, since this is my only real AA unit in the list)
Total- 1999

I have posted this on several forums, but it has thus far been ignored. Any input you guys could give would help!
WIP Abaddon Kitbash

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Editorial: Generation Critical

As I get older, it seems like negativity lurks around every corner, and seeps into everything in life. Lately, I feel that this is especially true in any place of public communication. People these days just genuinely cannot seem to keep their thoughts and comments positive. It has a way of getting in your head, and making you the same way. If you don't quite understand what I am talking about, take a gander at the following public forums:

Yahoo News comment pages
the Blizzard Forums

Pretty much wherever people can make their voices heard, they feel the need to voice their negativity and dissatisfaction. What was originally created to share ideas and information in a positive light, has now become a soapbox for every self-proclaimed martyr or dissident.

How can we expect our children to remain positive, and to solve their problems like mature adults, when our own generation result to this passive-aggressive behavior?

The irony is not lost upon me that here I am, writing my own dissatisfied rant. Maybe it is just how we are now? How do we change it? How can we get past our own dissatisfaction and ego-centrism?

I think the best way to keep myself from falling into the trap will be to remove myself from the company of those who are seeking something to complain about.

Dakka, I'm looking at you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When to move on

Sometimes you start a project and it doesn't turn out how you expected. Sometimes it just takes too much time, or you feel like you aren't grasping the concepts.

This is the first time I truly felt defeated by a project.

I don't feel badly about it, it is an advanced technique. Source-lighting is not for the beginning painter. However, I feel that I must return to the basics before I will attempt to master this technique again.

Here is the result of my frustration:

A miniature I had spent a lot of time working on to enter into a contest.

Sometimes you have to chalk it up to a learning experience, and move on. I had spent 12 hours total painting this guy, and didn't have the heart to do it over.

So how long is too long? When do you chalk it up to a learning experience, and either re-do it or move on?

I don't feel like I wasted time, as I learned a lot about source lighting techniques. I do feel like this miniature will need work before it is complete, though.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My First Batrep of 6th- DV Chaos vs. DA

 I finally got my first game of 6th edition in. Armed with my new mini-rulebook and the Dark Vengeance miniatures (mostly just primed black, I apologize that I haven't taken the time to paint them yet!), we decided to jump in feet-first!


We took the suggestion of the Dark Vengeance quickstart guide, and used the contents of the box set with added-in units of equivalent value. Dark Angels took a combat squad with a plasmagun and added a meltagun and meltabombs to the bike squad, whereas Chaos took a Bastion fortification with a Lascannon upgrade.

1000 Point Loyalist Dark Angels list (played by myself)
Librarian in PA with plasma pistol (Rolled Crush and Assail as powers)
Interrogator Chaplain with Plasma pistol
Deathwing Terminators with Assault Cannon
1 Full Tactical Squad with 1 Plasmagunner, Plasmacannon, Sgt. With Plasma Pistol
1 Combat Squad with 1 Plasmagunner , Sgt. With Plasma Pistol
Bike Squad with plasmagunner , Meltagunner, Sgt has Chainsword

1000 Point Chaos Black Legion list (played by my opponent, my wife! I had to watch Xanidu to bribe her into playing)
Chaos Lord with Powersword and Plasma Pistol
Chaos Chosen with 1 Power fist, 1 Power Axe, 1 pair of Lightning Claws, and Power Maul
Hellbrute with Multi-melta
Cultist Sect with Autoguns and Heavy Stubber, leader has Power Sword and Shotgun
Cultist Sect with Autopistols + CCWs and Flamer, leader has Power Axe
Chaos Bastion with Icarus Lascannon upgrade

Mission Type: The Scouring
Deployment: Dawn of War

Dark Angels got the roll to pick deployment. I won the roll to pick, so I deployed second.

Chaos Deployment
 Chaos deployed the autogun cultists on the roof. (We thought for some reason that they would be close enough to claim the objective from up there. Midway through the first turn we realized our mistake)
Dark Angels Deployment
 Dark Angels went for a Divide-and-Conquer strategy, splitting up into combat squads. Deathwing and Ravenwing squads were held in reserve.

Chaos Fails to seize the initiative. Night rules take effect, meaning the battle will begin at dawn...

Before the battle

Below are some shots of the objectives and their locations:

The objective closest to my Plasma-cannon tactical squad was pretty high value, so I decided it would be best to camp that squad on the objective for the duration of the game.

Wishing for a tent, because they're camping!
 My Deathwatch-painted combat squad moved up into the runs of the Chemical Processing plant, taking up position near the low-value objective.

"It's not a punch bowl. Don't drink it."
 Since night fighting rules were in effect, I just ran with all my squads and forwent my shooting. So the Dark Angels first turn was complete.

During Chaos' first turn, we came to the realization that the battlements were too far away for the cultists to claim that objective. Therefore, the cultists had to abandon the battlements. They opted for running down the stairs inside, rather than risking death by leaping over the sides.

Rushing forward en masse, I thought my Deathwatch squad would be doomed as the chaos assault units rushed forward.
There wasn't much else to do in the shooting phase, as Night fighting rules were still in effect, so she opted to run with her squads to cover some ground before the dawn broke. Thus ended the first turn!

With the night fighting rules ending, I was hoping to get in some reserves. None arrived this turn, however, so I had to make do with what I had. I moved my squads around, charging my middle-most tactical squad towards the high-value objective in the center (the 4 VP objective). The Chosen were dangerously close to the chemical plant though, so I decided to take advantage of the new Rapid Fire rules and get some long-range shots off with my Deathwatch-style tactical squad.

I moved them up to the fence, sighted in... and watched my plasmagunner promptly explode. Melting into a puddle of ceramite goo seemed to inspire his squadmates, strangely, who killed Draznicht and one of his chosen with their bolters. Seeing their fellow chosen slain imbued the survivors with rage as they rolled an "Insane Heroism" result for their leadership test.

My Plasma Cannon didn't explode, thankfully, as he loosed a template off at the Hellbrute. Due to the new blast rules, I found the plasma cannon to easily hit the Hellbrute at it's full strength. Poor rolling negated this luck, however, so I failed to damage it. The other combat squad was out of range of grenades, so I had to rely on the unit's plasmagun to shoot at the Hellbrute, but that too failed to inflict damage. That ended my turn.

During the chaos turn, the Hellbrute charged onto the 4 VP objective to deny it from me. The cultists were able to exit the building, and the Lord embarked into it to man the guns. The chosen break off from the Chemical plant and go to add their strength to the fight for the 4 VP objective.

In the shooting phase, the Hellbrute whiffs on his Multi-melta shot. Perhaps he was just so very angry that he forgot to point it at somebody. The Lord has more luck in the tower, killing a marine caught in the open with the Bastion's Heavy Bolter. Still outside of any type of assault range, Chaos ended the 2nd turn at that point.

Both my reserve rolls were lucky, and both my Deathwing and Ravenwing arrived. My deepstrike scattered, stopping just short of the ledge, luckily for me. Not a bad position!
Here to save the day!

The Ravenwing rolled lucky on the table edge for their Outflank, getting the edge to my left. I didn't hesitate in charging them across the open ground at the Hellbrute.
Men on a mission
During the shooting phase, I decided to try out the new Psychic powers. I decided to try and use Crush on the Hellbrute. Everything rolled pretty smoothly, but I failed to penetrate it's armor. A plasmagun was more successful, knocking off a Hull Point with a glancing hit.

The Hellbrute took an ungodly amount of fire, soaking up 1 melta shot, 2 rapid fire plasma shots, and 2 plasma pistol shots without sustaining any damage. Even the plasma cannon fails to penetrate. Meanwhile, the Terminators take advantage of their position and rain death upon the hapless Cultist sect below. The cultists grabbed some dirt by going to ground, but it did not save them from taking horrific casualties. In all, 7 of them were turned to bloody grease stains. The survivors boldly stood their ground, though, and refused to run.

When the assault turn came about, I was thoroughly sick of the Hellbrute denying my squads from their objective. So I charged it with my bikes, and planted a Meltabomb charge on it with my sergeant. Watching it explode with a result of 7 on the Vehicle Damage Table was -so- worth it. This also netted me the First Blood victory point.

After Consolidation

As the Chaos turn rolled around, my wife wasn't too happy to lose her favorite model, so she decided to exact vengeance upon the bike squad. Shooting with bolt pistols, the chosen rushed forward. One of these shots lands home, killing the meltagun biker. The Cultist fired a few autopistols that were in range, but failed to inflict any damage. The Chaos Lord continued his valiant defense of the rear, loosing more heavy bolter rounds on the bike squad, killing the plasmagunner. The lone sergeant stands his ground with a passed leadership check.

(Deebo Voice) "IT'S MY BIKE, PUNK!"
The Chosen charge, but one is cut down en route by overwatch fire from the lone biker. Upon entering combat, the lightning-claw-wielding fanatic shreds the sergeant as the luckless Dark Angel whiffs on his rolls. This scores 1 VP for Chaos, and they consolidate before ending the turn. The Cultists regain their feet.

 TURN 4:
I make minor movements and launch into my firing. A torrent of bolter rounds eliminates the chosen with Lightning claws. I try using Crush again with my librarian, but it fails to hit. A separate combat squad unleashes its wrath upon the chosen, taking down the traitor with a power axe. The Deathwing Terminators on the clifftop continue their punishment of the Cultists, killing off the squad. A long-range plasma cannon shot lands right in the middle of the second cultist squad, killing 4. After sustaining such losses, the cultists decide that discretion might be the better part of valor, and make a tactical advance to the rear. The crazed lone chosen that remains passes his leadership, ready to fight on, but with no scoring troops left on the table (and few units that could contest) Chaos decides to concede the game.

"I don't know why you come down here messing with these people!"

Victory Point Tally-
DA) 8 VPs from Objectives, 1 Linebreaker VP, 1 First Blood VP
CSM) 1 VP from killing a Fast Attack unit.


6th Ed. Rules- Upon writing the report, I realized we didn't roll for Warlord traits. Aside from that, however, we stuck to the new rules pretty close (remembering to do overwatch, roll for assault range, etc.).  I have heard many complaints that assaults take longer, but I don't really see it yet. Sure, resolving overwatch first adds some time to it, but I think it is fairly balanced. Snap shots are pretty hard to hit with anyway. This could just be our extremely limited experience with assaults, but I think the only thing annoying about the new assaulting rules is that everybody has mixed wargear now (since not all power weapons are the same anymore).

What really killed us this game was the rules on holding objectives. Somehow I got it in my head that the cultists would be able to move from the battlements to the interior of the bastion during the end turns to claim the objective (which was my wife's plan), but upon learning that units embarked in buildings cannot hold objectives she had to change plans. The turn of movement lost by going through the building was enough to be a serious disadvantage. That leads me into my second observation:

Dark Vengeance Balance-  While the forces in the set are supposed to be fairly balanced, I did not find this to be the case in reality. I guess the logic is that Chaos has a Hellbrute, where DA have no vehicles. When it comes down to it though, the Hellbrute is not all that heavily armored, and now Space Marines have more tools than ever for effectively taking down vehicles. Add to that the weak troop choice that are cultists (watered-down conscripts with no orders), the Chaos side leaves something to be desired. They get absolutely butchered in the shooting phase. It also seems like the DA list is custom-tailored to kill the marines. Plasmaguns, Plasma Pistols, AP3 Power weapons... Power Fists that can instant-kill the lord, the list goes on. This DA force is a mean, lean, green MEQ- killing machine. The Chaos list has very little to deal with units like Terminators. The cultists possibly could force them to miss some saves with volume of fire, but the cultists rarely can get that close where that is viable. It seems like the entire list hinges on the Hellbrute's durability, but with this much plasma (as well as grenades, powerfists, etc) it isn't really all that durable. Furthermore, one slow walker is pretty easy to just plain out avoid if you don't want to deal with it. It doesn't have lethal weaponry outside of assault range.

These are just my experiences from 2 short games, so feel free to add input!

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! What are your opinions on Dark Vengeance, 6th Edition, or anything else 40K?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Back with a Vengeance

I'm gonna pretend like I never left, OK? So here's some pictures of stuff I have been working on lately:
A reason to play again!

Squad of Plague Marines I've been kitbashing, WIP
Second Squad of Plague Marines, WIP

Nurgle Vindicator kitbash, WIP
Kitbashed Icon-bearer/Sorcerer

First model painted from Dark Vengeance: Angel of Penance test model.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

NSL Fleet for Noble Armada, Pt 1

In my free time today when not battling sugar-amped toddlers at my son's 4th birthday party, I was able to sit down and unwind with some really simple and easy painting. I've started a NSL-based fleet that will be used "counts-as" in Noble Armada as a House Hazat fleet. Using the GZG models won't be an issue, since this is not 40k there are no redshirts telling me to leave if its not GW, and because measurements are taken from the stem rather than the base. I like the hexagonal bases anyway, as it makes 45 degree turns quicker than just eyeballing the ship's direction.

Anyway, I had assembled them and primed them yesterday, so I took a few snaps before I started working. Here's what I got so far:

Scout Ships ^

Corvettes (counts as Frigates) ^

Destroyers ^

Escort Cruisers ^

So after taking those snaps I got to work. I began with a basecoat of simple flat-black paint, just to even out the job done by the primer. Once this coat was dry, I dry-brushed a simple dark-grey color onto each ship. I then dry-brushed again, this time mixing bone white (slightly yellowed white) with the dark grey to produce a very light grey. Once complete, I then watered down my black paint, and gave it a pseudo-wash, pushing most of it into the recesses of the models. After I was done, I got the below results: (forgive the lighting, was well past sun-down by this point)

Tomorrow I hope to start picking out details on each ship, doing the engines, and more. Stay tuned!


Monday, March 12, 2012

ACTA: Noble Armada, First Game

So I finally got around to sitting down and playing that first game of Noble Armada. Here is a rundown:

To keep it small, we played a Destroyer battle. Two House Hawkwood destroyers vs. two House Decados destroyers. This equated out to 360 points each side, which is a bit smaller than a normal patrol, but worked beautifully for learning the rules.

Decados fleets get a bonus to their initiative, so she went first for the most part. To save you from a long and meticulous battle report, I'll summarize in a narrative (PS, if I'm not in line with the official fluff, tough noogies)...

The two House Hawkwood Griffins glided in the inky void while patrolling a quiet region of the Nein system. En route to the system's only Jump Gate, the pair of destroyers had encountered little out of the ordinary before this day.

At First Watch, Captain Ronald Archibald, captain of the HWD Honorbound, was notified that transmissions from the Jump Gate's sentries had ceased. Attempts to re-establish communications with the sentries proved unsuccessful. Becoming suspicious, he ordered that the two destroyers drop sensor probes and begin active scanning.

The HWD Intrepid was the first to pick up readings. Readings in the direction of the Jump Gate were being garbled by white noise, but slightly off-trajectory a solid blip was registered before again being washed out by the interference.

Knowing something was amiss, Captain Archibald ordered both ships at full burn.


Some time later, both the destroyers were brought to full alert by the sudden firing of unknown drive flares. Sensors identified the ships to be a pair of Decados destroyers, powering toward the Hawkwood vessels at maximum burn.

Captain Archibald sent his orders to the Intrepid before ordering his own helmsman to turn to stellar starboard. His sister ship did as commanded and split to stellar port. Now that the two ships were prepared to unleash broadsides upon the closing target, they waited, maneuvering at a low thrust.

One of the Decados destroyers took the lead, cutting loose with shield-defeating EM pulse weaponry mounted in dorsal turrets. Captain Archibald felt his vessel shudder slightly, and warning klaxons announced that the Honorbound's shields had been temporarily overloaded. Luckily, his vessel was not positioned in the Decados vessel's broadside arc.

Snapping out orders to his gunners, Archibald watched as missiles streaked away and lasers lit up the void, lashing out at the offending vessel in the distance. The missiles were well guided, and slammed into the Decados destroyer's aft section. Sensors indicated that one of the engines in the Decados vessel began to spool down, leaking propellant. The other drive flares intensified, obviously attempting to compensate for the engine failure. The Hawkwood Gunners cheered at the minor victory.

The stricken vessel's companion was too far away to help much, but a single EM weapon struck across the darkness to impact the Honorbound. Static washed over the bridge's consoles, but quickly returned to normal. Damage control estimates showed hull integrity at 97 percent, barely affected at all by the electro-magnetic damage.

The Intrepid let loose a ferocious volley of its own, ravaging the already-stricken Decados destroyer with raking beams of laser-fire and fearsome detonations of guided missiles. The Decados vessel's drive flares sputtered and died, but the momentum of the ship carried it forward still.

As the shields to the Honorbound regained their strength, Captain Archibald ordered both destroyers to close in on their target, with intention to board the stricken ship.

Angling both their fores to the enemy vessel, the pair closed in and prepared boarding teams. Circling around, the sister ship of the stricken vessel harried the Intrepid with a broadside from it's mighty projectile weapons that tore armor plates from the Hawkwood ship's spine. Still suffering from the effects of the earlier damage sustained, the stricken destroyer fired a vastly-ineffective salvo at the closing ships. Undaunted, the two Hawkwood destroyers closed to grapple-range. Firing boarding lines, the two destroyers snared their prey and began to deploy their boarding troops.

The boarding parties had to cut through a bulkhead to gain entry to the destroyer. Once inside, they met half-hearted resistance. The fire raging aboard the Decados ships had already claimed a fair number of the crew and the security teams aboard the vessel.

In a desperate attempt to free its companion, the other Decados destroyer circled in close and unleashed a devastating salvo upon the Intrepid. Bulkheads twisted and ruptured under the assault in a fire-wreathed conflagration that vented some unfortunate crewman into the void. Undeterred, the Hawkwood destroyer refused to relinquish its grasp upon the stricken Decados destroyer.

Cleaning up the last of the security forces on the Decados vessel was a simple task for the boarding parties. Once the crew was subdued, the leader of the boarding parties signaled to the Hawkwood vessels that they were successful. Pulling back security teams that guarded the bulkhead entry points, both Hawkwood destroyers cut their grapple lines and maneuvered away.

Knowing it was now heavily outmatched, the surviving Decados vessel tried to accelerate in an attempt to get away. The Honorbound was not about to let that happen. Captain Archibald ordered all guns to fire upon the fleeing ship.

Armor plates boiling away in molten rivulets, the Decados destroyer lurched under the impact of missiles and laser barrages. Listing, the drive flares flickered and begun to lose power.

Realizing the opportunity, the Intrepid managed to fire a broadside despite the chaos caused from the earlier damage it sustained. Laser-fire licked at the fleeing vessel's aft, further punishing the already-damaged engine housings.

Firing an ineffectual volley from it's dorsal-mounted EM weaponry, the Decados vessel only lasted mere seconds longer. A surprise broadside from the newly-captured Decados destroyer obliterated what was left of the fleeing ship in a hail of projectiles. Slowly listing under the force of such impact, the now-dead destroyer rolled slowly, venting gasses and unfortunate crewman into the void.


Captain Ronald Archibald did not share in his crew's rejoicing, but neither did he discourage it. This was a solid victory and the crew deserved praise. However, this was only the beginning. A dark shadow loomed over the Nein system, as the Decados were obviously here in force. Knowing the Jump Gate sentries to be dead or worse, the Captain ordered his subordinate ships to make emergency repairs. He would need them at their best speed for the return trip. The Admiral needed to be warned.

THE END....?

THE MECHANICS (Editorial)-

I found the game mechanics to be simple and easy to pick up. However, being a long-time GW player, I had become accustomed to the "I-go-you-go" style of games, and found it tempting to activate more units at a time than I was supposed to. For smaller games like the one we just played, this was not a problem. But when we tried to play a larger game with multiple ships of varying sizes and types... it became something of a problem. To counter this, I suggest that you use the rules for squadrons in any games of 1000 points or larger, as opposed to only in games 2000 points or larger (as suggested in the rulebook). When you have only a couple ships on each side it isn't so hard to remember to move one at a time, but when flying 4 frigates, 2 Galliots, and 2 Explorers, it is tempting to move like-ships at the same time. The Squadron rules allow for this, but typically are only recommended for very-large games. However, I don't feel that game-play really suffers from these rules except in the smallest of games.

The other thing I found difficult to keep track of was which ship had critical damage, how many troops were left on each ship, etc. The best way I came up with to track this was coming up with a simple fleet roster, on which you list each vessel (names help keep track of which is which), the amount of troops on board (both yours and enemies), remaining damage, and a space in which to jot down critical damage. I could fit about 20 lines of this on a page, so you should be able to keep it down to 1 sheet per fleet.

For indicating whether shields were damaged/burnt out, I came up with a few ideas. Initially, I was using colored dice to indicate the number of shields that had burnt out. Afterward, I thought that using blast counters (Similar to Battlefleet Gothics, which are free to download from GW's website) could be an effective (and visually attractive) way of telling how many shields have burnt out. I couldn't find mine though, so I had to settle for colored dice.

There is no condensed page of the tables used in the game, so be prepared to make your own or flip through the rulebook a lot until you memorize them! I may be writing up my own reference page very soon to make it easy.

The boarding rules are simple, but yet awesome at the same time. There is no rule against firing into boarding attacks, as far as we could tell, so it was really awesome to try to hold on during those tense moments. When you are getting a broadside let loose upon your boarding ship, it really makes the game tense and exciting!

The rules looks deceptively easy at first glance. The actual rules bit is only a few dozen pages long. However, once you start getting into the rules like Special Actions (special modifiers declared during the movement phase that affect how your ship operates for the rest of the turn) and Boarding Actions, the rules can catch you by surprise. Luckily though even at their most complex, these rules are not too much to absorb.

So, grab a friend and start playing! This game is really fun!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rising Costs of the Hobby, and First Look at ACTA: Noble Armada

It's that time again. Time where I look back and go "Sheesh, guess that New Year's resolution fell flat..."

So much for me posting more this year.

Oh well. I am sure most of you know that I no longer post regularly to my blog, and I hope you can forgive me for it. It seems that no matter what I do, I cannot justify miniature gaming anymore... or at least the price.

As the shipping rates go higher, jobs get scarcer, and gas prices skyrocket; we are left wondering how we are going to scrounge up enough money to buy ridiculously-priced toy soldiers. The simple fact is... I am not. At least not as much.

I have sold off a large majority of my models, keeping only my choice favorite singles, and a couple units that I just didn't feel that I would get my money's worth for. And even though I've had to let so much of it go, I can't help but wish I had more disposable income so I could buy the models that really strike me. It is unfortunate that certain corporations cater only to investors rather than to their players, but hey, what can you do?

So, I am officially off the GW bandwagon. They have now effectively priced me out. Gas in my area is four and a quarter, and it doesn't look like it has hit its peak.


Last month was my birthday, and I got a gift card to Ebay from my brother. Being heavily into the space-navy combat scene due to playing EVE online, I was perusing the few miniature manufacturers in this genre when I stumbled across a game by Mongoose Publishing (who put out some popular RPGs such as Traveller, Earthdawn, and Lone Wolf). It is called "A Call to Arms: Noble Armada".

Set in a strangely familiar setting (fans of GW will notice the parallels), this miniature game follows a similar style to that of Battlefleet Gothic or Firestorm Armada. It's most current permutation was released in 2011, and it seems to largely have gone unnoticed. This is a shame, as the models look pretty unique from that of other games, and the ruleset looks fairly solid. The ruleset can only be found as a hardbook or as a downloadable Ebook, but the hardback edition only costs 30 dollars and the downloadable Ebook costs around half of that. For the do-it-yourself-er, the rulebook makes it easy to print out the basic rules. The actual rules themselves only take up about 24 pages or so and it utilizes the space well. The writing is a bit plain but the simplicity of the rules makes up for it. The major fleet lists are also included in the book. This reduces the startup costs, as you don't have to by codex or army books for each fleet.

Poking around further, I found that the fleet starter boxes (ranging from 20-28$ on eBay) contain a fleet equal in value to between 1250-1700 points. The rules indicate that games range from around 500 points (small patrol battle with a handful of ships) to over 2000 points (massive fleet battles, akin to Apocalypse games in 40k). This means that the standard fleet boxes can get you an entire army's worth for under 30 bucks! I was sold. I picked up a fleet starter for two of the House Fleets and bought the PDF version of the book. So, my total investment into this game is around 60 dollars, and that included shipping.

Around a week passed while I waited for shipping, so I brushed up on the rules. It is conceivable that one could play this game without miniatures (in fact the rulebook mentions this) as the miniatures themselves are not a part of the game aside from an aesthetic addition. In the rules, I found the following snippets of useful information if you are curious about the game mechanics:

* The game is Initiative based, and Player-Alternating in each phase. This means that each fleet has an initiative value determined at the start of every turn, and play is alternated between players' ships in each phase. For example, Todd rolls a higher fleet initiative than Bob, so Todd decides he wants to go first. In the movement phase, Todd chooses one of his ships to move first. After Todd moves that ship, then it is Bob's turn to move one. After Bob finishes, then Todd may choose another ship in his fleet to move, etc. This continues until all ships in each fleet have been given the opportunity to make their moves. Then the Attack phase begins (similar to a shooting phase). This is very different to the style used in games such as Battlefleet Gothic, when going first can mean winning or losing.

* This game utilizes the D6, which although statistically inferior to the versatility of a D10 or D20 system, is convenient for the availability of the dice.

* Measurement is in inches, which also seems to be the norm. Standard-size playing areas measure around 4'x6', which is comparable to most other wargames. So at least you won't need a strange table size!

* While most fleet-based combat games are centered on destroying your opponent outright, ACTA:NA places additional emphasis on capturing your opponent's ships and using them against him. For example, in addition to the expansive rules on boarding ships, players receive double the points for capturing a ship rather than destroying it.

* Although a two-dimensional game surface, the game tries to make the mechanics reflect a 3-d battle. This means that only really large celestial objects (planets, dense asteroid fields, or nebulae) will obscure LOS to other ships.

* The rulebook not only provides a good spread of scenarios to try out, but also provides a detailed campaign section. Although set up in the typical fashion that seems to be an inherent flaw in campaign rules (making the strong opponents stronger and the weak opponents get shoved out), it is a valiant effort and looks to be well thought-through. It is a great way to enhance the re-playability of this game.

* The units are statted out well (meaning there are stats for things like ramming damage, rather than making you figure it yourself with a complex mathematical formula), and use a point value system to assemble fleets. There is no "availability restrictions on units" which can lead to spamming lists. However, with so many great options, and virtually no tournaments as of yet, I don't expect to see this often. With so many great models, why would you just want to spam one type?

After my wait was over, my models finally arrived in my mailbox. The boxes were smaller than they appeared, measuring only approximately 3"x6"x2". Inside, I found multiple sprues for the flight stands, which are probably the most spectacular feature about the models.

In Battlefleet Gothic, one of the worst problems that plagues GW model owners is the flight stand is prone to breaking at the stem. Little more than a plastic rod, these stems break from horizontal force all the time, which requires drilling out the original hole and gluing a new stem in, which can be a huge hassle.

For ACTA:NA, the ship's stands use a ball-joint design I have never come across before, but immediately took a liking to. You glue a coupling, not a fragile stem, into the pilot hole on the underside of the ship. The stem glues into a ball-joint which fits into the coupling after the glue is dry. This creates a stand that can flex when horizontal force is applied, so the stem remains protected. The coupling also has a wide area to grab, which reduces the likelihood of it breaking off inside the model like a stem. This coupler is more prominent than a stem, detracting from the look of the models a bit, but I feel that it is a small price to pay for not needing to re-drill and re-glue in a new stem every time I drop a model the wrong way.

As for the ships themselves, I found all the ships in one large plastic zip-lock inside the box. Most of the ships were single pieces, which was fantastic, though some of the molds left significant flash and mold lines. This was to be expected, considering the low price point of the models. Even so, it took little work to remove the flash and mold lines. They are made of fair-quality pewter, not too soft nor too hard. The detail is fair as well, and I expect them to look quite dapper after a good coat of paint!

Tonight is likely to be this game's maiden voyage, as I earned many brownie points with the missus by doing some extra housework. She loathes these kinds of games due to the rather plain aesthetics, but I think it should be entertaining enough.

I drew up our first campaign map as per the rules in the rulebook, and I'll share it here if anybody would like a generic solar system to use.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A New Year's resolution... better late than never!

After a nearly year-long hiatus from the hobby to pursue more electronic-oriented forms of entertainment (yes... I was an mmo addict...), I have returned to the hobby that I love, if only in part. I have sold off and downsized much, but somehow I managed to hold onto my Flames of War miniatures, along with a smallish Nurgle CSM army.

After playing the fantastic MMO "World of Tanks," I find myself being drawn back to the miniature game that started it all for me. I've been playing FoW off-and-on for five years now (coincidentally the same number of years I will have been married to my beautiful wife on the 26th of this month!) and I typically find myself gravitating back towards its more mature theme, basis in history and realism, and lower price-point (since I still own much of the game rules and material).

Now with the arrival of companies like Plastic Soldier Company reducing the cost of 15mm game pieces, and price-point-positive providing miniatures that even I can afford, it should be easier than ever for me to get back into the Flames of War scene.

I'll be starting with Mid-war battles, which have always been a favorite of mine. The battles of the desert and Mediterranean have always been pleasing to me. This is probably due in large part to the lack of a Pacific theater, as well as the tendency of Hollywood and game producers to over-glorify the battles of France and Germany during the late war period. Tunisia and Sicily allow me to play in environments more interesting to me than the over-done beaches, bocage, and villages of the Normandy countryside.

In the meantime, I'll be working on small modeling projects to prepare myself for larger projects. Time to get to it.

My resolution: to finish painting both my FoW armies and my Nurgle CSM. The nurgles might be just for selling but maybe I'll hold onto them... we'll see.

Until next time,


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