Monday, 18 October 2021

Raging Annie Painted plus a Ramble

In my ongoing quest to finish painting a Shasvastii that's been on my painting table for months, in order to clear the decks to let me paint a Malifaux crew in time for a tournament in late November, I've painted a Bad Squiddo model.

This is the amazing "Raging Annie" figure, depicting a post apocalyptic Annie (owner of Bad Squiddo). As I understand it, this is a pretty good depiction of what it's like to try and get through the Nottingham Tram system during rush hour.

I'll likely be using her in Stargrave, when I get around to that sort of thing. I've definitely got a lot of games lined up I'm wanting to play in the future - Malifaux, Stargrave, Age of Sigmar, 40K - and not quite enough time to play them all in. I think the method of picking one and focussing on it for a few months before looking at the next is a pretty robust plan.

I didn't get much done this week, as I was pretty darned tired after work and had an epic lie in in the Saturday, and Sunday was spent doing Outside Things. I also popped out to Dark Sphere for an in person game of Malifaux to start reminding myself of how the blasted rules work! I've not played in over a year so it was probably best to do some learning.

I'm doing pretty well for having blog posts scheduled, so later this week you'll be seeing an assortment of work in progress Fenris Games figures, and an Infinity battle report under Season 12 rules. I try not to say "what's coming" on the blog unless it's already written and scheduled, because it is a hobby, not a job, and locking myself in to writing things is a quick way to demotivate myself. I've done a whole ton of cool things I'm keen to tell you about, it's just a case of finding the time to upload the photos and write it down in a coherent fashion.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Inaugural Fast Panda Throwdown - Prize Support

There was a reasonable amount of Stuff at the tournament. We all got a Fast Panda patch that they'd made themselves, and a patch from the pile. They also let us grab stuff after everyone had got something, and I got a couple of metal tokens and a Swordfor pin badge.

Everyone also got a bag of stuff from Colour Forge. I'd not heard of them before, so this was smart promo on their part. An undercoat spray, static grass, basing rocks, super glue, PVA, bases and some crystals is a pretty respectable handout for every player at a 24 player tournament.

I've not had a chance to try these out yet, but I shall report back!

Having come 15th out of 24, I still managed to pick up a blister from the prize pool as well. I need two Wild Bills - one for the neon scheme to go with my Qapu Khalqi, and one for me to paint up for Foreign Company. For now, I think he's going to go with my QK, which is currently only a couple of boxes away from being a complete force. I just need to find some time to play them!

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Inaugural Fast Panda Throwdown - Game 3: Supplies vs Neilio

For my final game, I was up against Neilio, who was running Starmada. I've not played against Starmada, but I'm aware that they lack cheap support troops and specialise in super violent links. In Supplies, my hope was to utilise my massive number of mid field units to grab some boxes and avoid a straight fight.

My concerns of incoming extreme violence were deepened when my opponent took the first turn, and declared he was spending a command token to hold a model back, which would mean he was holding back three models. With the tiny number of models deployed on the table, I was expecting a TAG. When he placed his remaining models down, it turned up that it was Hector and Parvati in a link team.

This was not an improvement.

A lucky shot by one of my snipers on an Epsilon HMG made me think I might have a chance, but it wasn't to be. I'd misdeployed the snipers so one wasn't in much in the way of cover, so he was quickly picked off, and without the +3 BS bonus, the second shortly joined him. Hector then moved up into the mid field and did a solid murder on an innocent Hunzakut who'd been planning on grabbing a supply box and running away as much as possible.

With everything Hector could see dying, I decided to take an asymmetric approach. Hector would do a lot less with fewer orders, so I sent one of my Libertos after the Kappa fireteam. It was ridiculously effective. Four of the five link members ended up dead and off the board, with only the Kappa Missile Launcher left unconscious and bleeding out. The Libertos was sadly wounded in the exchange and died at the end of my turn, his duty done.

My Zhencha managed to get a box, but didn't have the orders to get far enough away from Hector, who killed him super dead. My opponent rightly identified Hector needed as many orders as possible so simply dropped every command token on moving models into Hector's group to replace the dead fireteam. Deciding that box was too far away, he instead pulled back and went for the box on the other side, his link team picking up the centre box on the way.

At this point, one of the many, many people Hector killed was my Lieutenant, who I'd moved up with the surviving link team members in the vain, vain hope of picking up a box in my following turn. I did manage to pick up a box and score a Classified with my Hacker, but with Starmada holding two boxes, the game ended 6-3 to the cops.

I think I did the right thing by going after the link, and Neilio in turn did the right thing of using Command Tokens to mitigate the damage. I need to be more careful with my deployment when trying to gain cover from height as it doesn't work if you don't end up significantly higher than your opponent. The list needed a better solution to an attack piece like Hector, and didn't really have one. Camo only goes so far, and people can just, you know, discover your models?

All said, I learned a bunch from the game and I've got a lot to think about in terms of how to build lists to cope with this sort of attack in future.

Monday, 11 October 2021

An alien and a real world hero

Managed to get a couple of models finished over the past two weeks, as I try and clear the decks to make space to paint the models I need to take to the Malifaux Nationals tournament. Which is . . . not very far away now. And I haven't started painting any Malifaux figures. Oh dear.

First up is this Shasvastii Noctifer, who I started painting ages ago - before the Corvus Belli "Organised Play at Home" painting competition, which is what I put him to one side to do. He's an older sculpt, and starting to show his age a little bit.

In the game he doesn't deploy on the table, but you make a note of where he's hidden. Because his missile launcher is both long ranged and can put down a template, it can be absolutely devastating in game. Being able to take a reaction order in your opponent's turn and kill several models in a shot can change the course of an entire game. Your opponent can often spend a lot of time second guessing whether or not you've brought one, meaning they end up playing more cautiously than they otherwise would.

The other painted model is a rare one for this blog - a historical figure. She's made by Bad Squiddo Games, which is incredibly common for this blog . . .

The model portrays Virginia Hall, an American who worked with both SOE and OSS during World War II. She's shown adjusting her wooden prosthetic leg "Cuthbert". I don't have a particular plan for the model, but I'm glad she's painted. I picked her up to support one of Annie's Kickstarters.

That's all the painting I've got done over the past couple of weeks, although I'm hoping to finish a few more bits and bobs soon. I've got another half finished Shasvastii model (a Gwailo), a bunch of those Aenor goblins I had committed to getting finished in 2019, and another Bad Squiddo figure all on the table.

None of those are Malifaux. I should really fix that. The plan is once the other overdue Shasvastii is done, I'll be getting onto the Malifaux figures . . .

Friday, 8 October 2021

Inaugural Fast Panda Throwdown - Game 2: Supremacy vs Forgedinfury

After lunch, opponents were announced and I got to meet Forgedinfury. He was running a beautifully painted Ikari Company force. I was excited to face another mercenary company, but a bit nervous of how much damage was likely coming my way as Ikari Company is a highly aggressive force with some really tough pieces.

I think I lost the Lieutenant roll, but in any event, Forgedinfury had the first turn, while I picked a deployment side and made him deploy first. I was facing a Keisotsu link on his left flank with a Brawler MULTI Sniper and Tanko Missile Launcher, while a Daiyokai and two Tankos in a Haris on his right.  A Karakuri was well placed to move around the roof of a tall building and move between zones, and Yojimbo also lurked back ready to zoom up the field.

I deployed a Ghulam Sniper link on the right, with a Hulang tucked well back behind some scenery. Libertos got scattered around the mid-field, and a Zhencha joined the Karakuri on the roof.

The left hand flank consisted of the Al Fasid and Rui Shi, as I was starting to run out of cover to deploy in and still be able to get out and affect the game!

The Ikari defensive link made an effort to take out my sniper link, but I started rolling critical hits and didn't stop. By the time the game ended, I'd rolled about nine, including five from the snipers alone - and mostly in ARO. The Tanko went down to shooting twice. Broadly, they were lacking long ranged high burst weapons, and I'd deployed to it hard for those that did exist to get into a good spot to get into a fight with the snipers.

He tried to help his Daiyokai advance with a couple of Yuan Yuan walking in from the side, but they ended up being unlucky and not managing to take out much in the way of targets.

Eventually, the Daiyokai and then a Tanko got unlucky from the Rui Shi and Al Fasid shooting, at which point there just weren't enough attack pieces left to make a break into my table half. I also ruthlessly took advantage of having second turn to score zone control as best I could.

In the end, my relentless criticals were too much, and the game ended in a Dahshat victory. I couldn't quite bring enough to bear to get zone control on the final turn, but picked up two consoles and a classified for a solid 7-0 win, with 259 points left alive to Ikari's surviving 73.

All in all, I was pretty pleased with how this went. I mostly made sure to engage on favourable terms, but was very lucky for the sniper link to survive most of the game when mathematically they should have gone down much earlier.

My initial deployment wasn't great and I think I need to work on it a little bit. I feel I needed a better ARO piece on my left flank, but that might be a problem with the list design that I need to look at for future games. Plenty to think about . . . 

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Inaugural Fast Panda Throwdown - Game 1: Decapitation vs theclaw

First game, I was matched against theclaw from Fast Panda Gaming. The mission was Decapitation, where you need to hit two "Designated Target" models that are placed in addition to the army, kill more army points than the opponent and kill more Lieutenants than the opponent.

Focussing heavily in on the last aspect of the mission, I wrote a list that focussed heavily on defending the Lieutenant and going after my opponent's.

Claw was running Invincible Army. He'd just focussed on the "doing violence" part of the mission, bringing a Duo of Mowangs, a core link of Zuyong, a Daoying Lieutenant hiding in a camo state, a Rui Shi and then a cheap Remote for the tenth order.

I lost my Sensor remote early so had little chance of winkling the Lieutenant out of the interior of a building in the far corner of the battlefield. I repeatedly over-extended trying to get to the Lieutenant, losing model after model. At this point, the Invincibles advanced, murdering anyone who got in the way. Neither of us got each other's Lieutenants, but Claw had two designated targets and more points killed to my having killed one designated target.

On reflection, I think this came to having too many points in defending my Lieutenant and too many points in fragile assassins. I had very little in the army capable of doing serious violence, which is moderately embarrassing when playing Dahshat, who pretty much specialise in it.

So, as we took a break for lunch, I was one game down, having lost 7-2. I think it was telling I had 87 points remaining while Claw had 277. It's very hard to Do Something Clever when you've been shot full of bullets, and Invincible Army is very good at that . . . 

Monday, 4 October 2021

Inaugural Fast Panda Throwdown - I Went Outside!

Last weekend I Went To A Tournament. More specifically, I went to the Inaugural Fast Panda Throwdown in Heywood, north of Manchester. I've been watching the Fast Panda YouTube Channel and wanted to show my support of their first tournament. It turned out I was their furthest flung player, coming from London.

While I've been playing getting my Shasvastii on Tabletop Simulator and have been getting quite a few of them painted up, I decided to take my Dahshat Company. Broadly, this was because I've found Taigha Creatures are pretty vital to playing a strong game with Shasvastii, and I currently don't have any assembled.

I travelled up the night before and stayed in a hotel before getting a lift to the venue on the day. The venue was a Methodist church. As soon as Slimming World were finished, the tables were brought in and set up.

Organisation was good, with match ups being easily sorted out and a reminder coming around each game to make sure people were aware of time. There were apparently shops pretty close, but it was raining and I'd brought cereal bars to power through, so I didn't explore. 

I don't want to write a massive essay covering all three games I had in one post. I'll be posting short reports of each game in future days, but suffice to say I had three really fun games with good opponents.

All in all, it went really well and another event is planned next year. If you're in easy travel distance of the Manchester, UK area, I'd definitely recommend keeping an eye out for future Fast Panda Throwdowns.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Bad Squiddo Definitely Not Damsels Kickstarter

A while back I got sent an early preview figure from Bad Squiddo - a fantasy archer. I had great fun painting it, and am a big fan of Bad Squiddo sculpts in general.

The Kickstarter for this fantasy range has now launched. It's a super quick one - less than a week. So, if you're interested, get in now!

Monday, 27 September 2021

Clearing the decks

I've had the week off, and while I had a bunch of real life obligations, I've had the chance to do a bunch of hobby too. Most of my time was spent in finishing up the prep of a whole bunch of models I got back from one of my assembly guys, but I got some paint on models too. First up is the Shasvastii Noctifer I put to one side to do the Corvus Belli OP at home challenge, and I thought I should get him finished up.

While waiting for some paint to dry, I started putting some paint on Virginia Hall from Bad Squiddo Games. I picked her up in the Kickstarter and don't have a plan for her, but it's good to get her painted up. Annie has a fantasy Kickstarter coming up this week that will only be up for five days, so keep an eye out for my post about that.

I've been meaning to get my Aenor Miniatures goblins painted for ages. I've decided to give them a contrast paint job over an Agrax Earthshade wash to see how that looks. Should be fun!

Here's the assorted models I finished up prep on. There's two Leonx Riders from the out of production game Runewars. There's a whole bunch of North Star models for Stargrave, and some Otherworld Miniatures models for D&D. Oh, and some duck people from Fenris Games in case I ever get into Runequest.

I also found some Meridian Miniatures steampunk militia from an old Kickstarter, and there's some viking types I got from Fenris and some giant rats. All the metal models I commissioned someone to assemble and undercoat. I then added some basing paste, painted that and any spots the spray had missed, then gave them a zenithal dusting to get them ready to paint.

I'll be putting these out as "Work In Progress Wednesdays" with better photos, but haven't got the photo booth out right now. All of this was to clear the decks to make way for . . .

I've signed up for the Malifaux Nationals at the end of November. I've already got a playable crew for the Viktorias assembled, and will be starting to paint them once I'm back from the Fast Panda tournament next weekend. I've dug out all the other models in the Mercenary keyword or Outcasts Versatile. The bases are on order and I'm just going to see how many of them I can get ready in time. I don't need any of them, but the more I get, the more flexibility I have available.

Pride is an Outcasts Versatile model, so I've got the Crossroads Seven box. On the off chance I get ahead there, I'll get the rest of the crew assembled too.

As the bases may be slow to arrive, I've also grabbed the Witches and Woes set out of my "to assemble" box in case I end up getting "stuck" waiting for the bases to arrive.

I don't really expect to get all of this done by late November, but being able to jump between projects means that even if not everything gets done, I've done something else rather than stopping hobbying completely.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Review: Southlands Worldbook by Kobold Press

Southlands (c) Open Design LLC

While I was on a particularly strong D&D kick over lockdown, I decide to back the Kobold Press Kickstarter for "Southlands 5th Edition". I went for the PDF option, and now it's all arrived, I wanted to share my thoughts on the first of the three books in the set - the Southlands Worldbook.

Kobold Press are a tabletop role-playing game company who produce content related to their game setting of "Midgard". They produce rules for the setting for 5th edition D&D, Pathfinder, 13th Age and AGE System. This lets them re-use an awful lot of the setting material over and over for the different game systems.

The Southlands is part of their Midgard setting, which wasn't hugely clear from the Kickstarter. A casual reader might have just assumed this was its own, stand alone setting. In fact, it's part of the wider Midgard setting. This is mostly fine, but one nation, Nuria Natal, has a long standing conflict with the Dragon Empire, which is simply not covered in this book. You can happily make this up, but generally if you're buying setting books, my assumption is that you're trying to avoid having to do all that hard work!

There's also a lot of mechanical references to other books, which is frustrating if you assumed this was a stand alone product. I'm relaxed about the references to the Player's Guide, as they were advertised together, but I'm also referred to the Midgard Worldbook, Creature Codex, Tome of Beasts, Demon Cults & Secret Societies, City of Cats, Deep Magic and Tome of Beasts 2.

I know I can always make my own monsters, or replace them with equivalent stat blocks from the Monster Manual. I can probably guess what a thief lord is going to be like from the context and stat accordingly. But I'm used to Wizards of the Coast adventure books which include any NPC blocks within the adventure you need so you don't need to pick up additional books. I'm a little put out to buy what I expected to be a self contained experience and get recommended at least $90 - $120 of additional PDFs, maybe even $210 - especially when that's not even counting the Player's Guide I was expecting to need to get.

From a gaming perspective, its broadly fine, but there's an unwritten expectation of buying in to Kobold Press' wider publications. The Player's Guide has a few of it's own faults, but I'll cover that in its own review.

Southlands (c) Open Design LLC


Lets talk about racism.

As a disclaimer: I'm a middle class, middle aged white guy who is still learning about this stuff. I may get some things wrong.

To be clear, this book is not a disaster. There's two prominent Cultural Consultants listed in the credits, and there was nothing in the book that made me feel like I didn't want to ever give Kobold Press any money ever again. But reading it reminded me of late 90s / early 00s gaming supplements, and over the past few years we've seen a lot of progress in handling issues around race, and it feels like this book really hasn't done anything to learn from that.

Its better than Tomb of Annihilation, but that is a low bar. Graeme Barber has done a comprehensive review of that book covering the issues with it, which I won't rehash here. If you have the time, I strongly recommend going and reading his review of Tomb of Annihilation.

My biggest concern is that there is no DM advice on handling cultures inspired by real world cultures, or avoiding racist tropes. At least 95% of this book could be played as written just fine as long as you avoid some land mines, but there's simply no help given. Not every book can be Harlem Unbound (probably the best book on the subject at the moment, buy it even if you're not into Call of Cthulu). But I'm not asking Southlands to be Harlem Unbound, I'm asking it to provide some basic advice.

To start of with, the pulp genre has had a racism problem since it came into being. As so much pulp was "goodie vs baddie" with little nuance, often the baddies fell into racist tropes, or just outright racism. That in turn means that a pulp inspired setting can end up falling into these same tropes.

The setting as a whole is already a bit of a worry for me. While Wizards of the Coast recently did an Egyptian themed / inspired setting as part of the recent Ravenloft book, gods and so on were at least renamed. In the Midgard setting, historic gods are simply presented as fantasy gods, like Deities and Demigods, with all the attendant baggage and problems that brings. Is there cultural appropriation there? Is there offensive material? I don't know enough to tell, and the book hasn't given me any expert advice on handling it or explaining how to avoid being offensive.

Then we move on to harmful tropes. The Southlands are described as being a higher magic setting than Midgard as part of the explanation of the setting. While a common pulp trope, it's playing into Orientalism, portraying cultures as mystical and spiritual rather than modern. It can be a form of othering, setting your own perspective as the norm, and other cultures as the ones who are different.

I'm also deeply suspicious of the way many of the nations are written in the book. The majority are in some way evil or oppressive. Many engage in slavery. This sort of portrayal is common in colonial narratives that seek to justify conquest by claiming that they weren't capable of governing themselves in a "civilised" fashion before the arrival of the colonisers.

The use of evil civilisations in fantasy adventure games can be a useful setting point, because it means that adventurers have antagonists, and reasons why problems haven't been fixed. I've also been told by a friend that the majority of the Midgard civilisations are pretty corrupt and evil for this reason. If that's the case, the problem is that here, presented in isolation, it looks like a harmful trope, and could end up being used as one by a game runner who hasn't shelled out for the sister campaign setting book. Again, the lack of guidance and advice leaves the setting open to problems when running it.

While we're on the subjective of colonial tropes, this book would swiftly swerve into disaster if any campaign ran with the player party being all or majority foreigners to the Southlands. Think for a moment about what it looks like if a bunch of foreigners come to fantasy Africa to solve its problems because its own people have not... Simple to avoid, particularly if using this book in isolation, but there's no guidance or warning to stop someone not thinking about how offensive that might look and running it.

Prayer Mat magic item created by Kobold Press.
Open Game Content under the Open Game License

Then there's the Prayer Mat mis-step. I wince looking at this. In a setting without Islam, they've included a prayer mat magic item. I'm deeply uncomfortable at the idea of including a famous aspect of Islamic culture into a fantasy setting, particularly one where it's then used to pray to polytheistic gods. Its pretty much the worst thing I've seen in the book, and the closest thing to "I'm never giving them any money again" there. If I were to run a Southlands game, its incredibly simple to excise wholesale and pretend it isn't there. But it shouldn't be there.

So, in summary - the Southlands Players Guide is a flawed book which would have been forgiven its failings if it had been published even five years ago. As it is, it's a disappointing mis-step that could have done an awful lot better in avoiding racist tropes and offering advice on running a campaign in a different culture. Its still usable, but will require additional work and research to make sure your game doesn't end up cringeworthy or offensive, and it's work that Kobold Press should have made the effort to provide for you.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Sisters of Battle First Game Plans

I'm hoping to get my first game of the 9th edition of Warhammer 40,000 in soon, so I took a little time to write a list using the Sisters of Battle I have available. I've not written the list for a particular mission, as that will need agreeing with my opponent, but there's not exactly a lot of variation I can manage within the models I've got. It's only going to be a 1,000 point game.

First up, I'm taking a Patrol detachment with two five lady squads, taking advantage of the fact I have a couple of spare Veteran Sister Superiors from the limited edition models.

Lacking any tanks at the moment, mobility will have to be covered by the Seraphim squad. I'm suspecting some transport tanks may be high on the purchase list to expand out to 2,000 points!

As it's the only armour I've got, I'll also throw in the Penitent Engine to run around do violence before something smushes him.

This mob will get led by a Canoness, with a second Canoness leading up a Vanguard detachment as most of the models I own are Elite . . .

I've grabbed a Dialogus to learn what they do in the new edition. They seem to hand out buffs to units or something.

Also, the Imagifier, who also seems to have an aura of useful effects.

The rest of the list is taken up by angry people. To get two org chart free Repentia Superior, there's a squad of Repentia in both Detachments. I'm aware they could likely do with some vehicles, which I don't own, soooo...

The list is then rounded out with as many Arco Flagellants as I can afford for the points. Their job is to run forward screaming with the Repentia and see who dies most / kills most.

Getting a game in isn't really my top priority right now, as I really need to focus on getting ready for the Malifaux tournament I'll be at in November, but if I have some free time to fit in a game, I may as well...

Once I've got a game or two in, I can start thinking about how the force plays and what sort of models it would be sensible to get to expand the force. The obvious one to start off would be more Battle Sisters, so I can take more varied troop choices and get a bigger Detachment rather than two smaller ones.