Friday 23 September 2022

Deadzone: Celebration Dwarfs

At Christmas I was able to gift Mr T some Forge Fathers for Deadzone, many of whom he's purchased 30 odd years ago.

Since that date we've played a fair bit of Deadzone and he has expressed an interest in expanding his choices. What better time to fulfil that wish than his 50 birthday. I've had most of these complete for a little while and now the big day has passed I can post up about them. This time all the models are the official Mantic games figures.

Mantic released a new sub-faction for the Forge Fathers earlier this year who sit alongside the melee fighting Brokkr engineers, these are the Artificer's. Again with an engineering slant these Dwarfs make use of more industrial equipment than the normal line troops. 

First out of the box is the Master Artificer, he originally came with some thin Dr Octopus legs which I quickly discarded as I couldn't get the multiple contact points to super-glue. Instead I went with paperclip wire and Vallejo putty to make the legs and arms. He buffs the Brokkr / Artificer shooting so take him along with lots of guns.

The other three models in the box are split between one Troop and two Specialist options. You don't get multiple weapons so you have to make one of each if you don't fancy kit-bashing something together. The little arms on their backpacks come separately and are a bit of a fiddle to stick on, but worth the effort. The Troop comes with a pistol and 1her hammer whilst the Specialist's come with a big hammer and a thermal rifle respectively. One thing to notice is the extra survivability that having armour 1 and a 4+ save brings, they are a little tougher than the standard Brokkr.

I also managed to get some Valkyr from someone on Facebook to add some speed into the options for Mr T. These are pretty basic kits so they go together very quickly, they also don't have masses of detail so paint up quickly as well. This was handy as they arrived only 6 days before the big day.

Speed 2-4 is lightening quick for a Dwarf but these chaps need to be careful to not zoom off on their own and get overwhelmed. Also having the Bike means they cannot climb up levels in buildings, an important consideration in Deadzone.

Lastly we have the Juggernaut, a repurposed mining and excavation walker. It comes in two variations in the rules and I went with the laser & hammer configuration as I think it looks cooler. 

Whilst it isn't as tough as an Iron Ancestor it is a good 10-15 points cheaper so having one of these instead would allow an extra foot Dwarf to be included. It's a good looking model and a decent bit of resin. As with the bikes I've added the 50 in celebration of Mr T's birthday.

The New Recruits 

Sunday 18 September 2022

Napoleonic's: Training Game

In a move away from the sci-fi and gothic horror games of Deadzone & Carnevale we've been playing recently we have moved over to the Peninsular war using Shakos & Bayonets. In order to get used to the rules and force building we are probably going to spend a while running practice games.

Then once we have a good grasp on the mechanics and how the armies work I aim to plan a small campaign for us to play through. I expect watching a few episodes of Sharpe should give plenty of ideas for a campaign to play through.

In our second practice game I mixed things up by giving the French three troop types rather than the two the British had. This meant they had 12 unit activation cards (4 per unit type) in the deck to the British's 8. The French also had 3 officers, officers cost about the same as 3 normal line infantry and you can only include one per full 10 of a unit type.

It was nice to see the 14th Dragoons out on the table as they do have a lovely uniform, this did however seem to attract the British fire as both units ended up being entirely removed from the table. One fled after taking several accurate rounds of fire and the other after losing one man to a British volley.
Volley fire can be pretty devastating in S&B not so much from the casualties caused but from the resulting morale check. It is possible for trained troops to rout from the table having suffered no casualties from a volley. I think we may need to house-rule an exception in around that eventuality perhaps converting the rout into a recoil for units with say less than 10% casualties. 

The game itself started well for the British with them getting into position and taking off one unit of Dragoons and then the other. It then turned as the French Grenadiers charged into combat. They have the Veteran keyword and this allows them re-rolls on both attacking and saving wounds in melee. Both units of British who received a charge lost the combats and where forces away from the objectives.

I didn't get a photo of the end state but the French ended with 2 VP's against the British 0 VP's.

Tuesday 13 September 2022

Deadzone: UK Championship List Reflections

In my third and probably final blog on the Deadzone UK Championship I want to have a look at the lists I took and how they worked out and offer some thoughts on what could be tweaked.

Veer-myn: Played 4 - Won 4

1 * Master Creeper
4 * Stalker
2 * Nightmare
2 * Malignus with Heavy Ray Gun
1 * Malignus with Chem Spitter
2 * Creeper
1 * Tunnel Runner
13 Models, 18 VP's

Going into the event I knew that the Veer-myn was the stronger of my two lists and expected them to give me the better chance of victory in most if not all scenarios. We didn't know which scenario's we would be playing before the event but we could choose the list we played (up to a max of 4 times) once we got to the table and found out what the scenario was.
This list has pretty much all the bases covered in terms of scenario play, it's fast so can get onto objectives early, likes a fight and has some reasonable shooting and access to a good amount of AP. The fact that much of it is speed 2-3 is what I think makes the list so potent. On an 8 * 8 board being able to go so fast is a massive bonus and means you can start scoring objectives early on. Also being able to move 2 seemed to open up more chances of clear / higher shots than my more shooty but slower GCPS. 
I shared some of my train ride back with Terry and he suggested that speed 2-3 be changed to speed 1-3, which seems like an idea that should be given some consideration and play testing. It would mean the faction is still fast if it wants to get somewhere but if it wants to do something as well then it needs to play by the same rules as pretty much everyone else. 
So would I change anything? The list does include some short range Frag via the Creepers and the Master Creepers splat, but nothing over range 2. Swapping the leader model over to the Progenitor with Grenade Launcher would add a highly mobile source of Frag (4) with probably a better splat for a combat orientated list. I'd probably need to drop a Malignus to fit it in but it could be done.

Weighing against that is the fact that the Master Creeper is about 2/3 the cost and has the potential to make any model into a grenade user. Also, and more importantly for me is that I really like the model I've done for her and she did lead her nest to four victories, it would be a supreme act of bad faith to drop her for some filthy Frag action. 

So all in all I think the Veer-myn are in a good place for me and my play style, I've got a fair few DZ factions and I think this is the one that probably works best for me.

GCPS: Played 4 Won 0

1 * Ranger Lieutenant
5 * Corporation Veteran
1 * Corporation Veteran with Flamer
2 * Corporation Veteran with Thermal Rifle & Ammo
1 * Corporation Veteran with Sniper Rifle & AP ammo
2 * Riot Trooper
1 * Mortar Team

13 Models, 20 VP's

I don't want to be too hard on this list as I'm not sure all the loses can be pinned on the list, I think I need to shoulder some/most of the blame. I think the extra 3 points to take your basic troop tax from standard Marine to Veteran is well worth it. Shooting on 5's having that extra security blanket of Weight of Fire (1) is great and having a Fight of 5+ rather than 6+ really helped when I went up against Kevin's Zombie horde list. The Hacker rule is a nice bonus and gave me an extra VP in at least one of my games. The Riot Trooper is very solid and well worth it's points but especially in a game with either lots of overhead cover to stop Indirect Frag attacks or against lists with no Indirect Frag attacks. The mortar (when it was alive/able to fire) offered some board control and I didn't come up against much that couldn't be pinned. Only having one put me at a disadvantage against Andy with his double mortar as he could use one to pin me (in fact he killed it with his first counter-battery shot) and the other to pound my troops. So perhaps the answer is to go double mortars. But if I was playing against that on the sort of terrain we mostly had I don't think for most scenarios I would be having an enjoyable experience. 
So what does the list lack? 
Firstly, speed. Essentially you have Marine on Monocycle as your speed option, I quite like the model and they are dirt cheap at 9 points & 1 VP. But.... It is just a standard Marine with a rifle who still doesn't like a fight and isn't great at shooting. He could be good in a horde list so you can move them late on in the round onto objectives so your opponent doesn't have activations left to kill them. Of course they would need to be ground level objectives as Bike's cannot climb cubes apart from via ramps. The second option is using Rangers as a pseudo-speed unit as you can drop them pretty much as you like onto the board after deployment, also the Jump Pack rule means they can traverse the board more easily than most. But.... They aren't cheap and give away at least 2 VP's and dropping closer to the enemy isn't always a great idea. The temptation would I think often be to go Ranger Sniper(s) onto the top of a stack and then camp, that's just a 3 VP melee/bullet magnet in my view. 
Secondly, AP. Thermal rifle's are ok, the short range isn't a massive hinderance on a board with decent terrain but if you want something with a long range then you need to be thinking about point three.
Thirdly, Big Chonky Stuff. The only unit over size 1 is the mortar, sometimes you need a big ole unit to take on the enemies big bad unit or make them at least think twice against coming into it's threat range. Small dudes (even with shields) don't have the same intimidation factor as something massive plonked onto the table. To fill that role you are either going with the Ogre Terminator or a Strider, or perhaps two in some sort of combination. But neither of these are cheap so you'd need to drop lots of units or downgrade them to a more basic version, again more of a Recruit based horde army with lots of 6 point 0 VP chaps unlocking your mortars and big stuff. That of course would be a completely different list and possibly require a different leader.  

Finally here are the final standings of the Deadzone UK Championship:

And the Win / Draw / Loss per faction, the Plague include 7 losses for the ringer and I certainly didn't help the GCPS numbers.

Veer-myn - W 11 D 1 L 0
Plague  W 9 D 0 L 18
Forge Fathers  W 7 D 1 L 4
Enforcers W 7 D 0  L 9
Marauders W 5 D 1 L 2
Asterians W 4 D 1 L 4
GCPS W 3 D 0  L 9

I presume this means I'm one of the top 10 Deadzone players in the UK and also the most sporting Deadzone player in the nation! Not bad for my first ever event, but also a heavy responsibility to carry.

Flamer-man. He had quite the trip including fighting off Zombie Hordes, charging
and being one shot by Monarch, going AWOL against the Plague and then
being fried in a flame-off against a Malignus.

Monday 12 September 2022

Deadzone: UK Championship

This weekend I took the journey up to Nottingham to compete in my first ever competitive play event at Mantic Games HQ. I took a fair amount of nerves with me up on the train as I wouldn't know anyone at the event (other than from reading Facebook posts) and I'd not done any sort of organised play before.
I will start with the only negative of the weekend in that the first day was a bit shambolic at parts, the person who had organised the event had just left the company and the only person who was free the whole weekend didn't look like he normally ran events and hadn't been well briefed. But, he did give up his weekend so we could have an event so it's hard to complain. The event did have places potentially for 40 players but in the end we had eleven people show up to play eight games (at 200 points) across the two days. We each took two different lists which we had to play four times each across the eight games. We played five games on the first day and then three on the second. 

For my first competitive game of any sort I was drawn against top Deadzone player and member of the Rules Committee (they literally write the book) Ian Davies. Ian went on to win the event and I think he generally places on the podium so it was a bit of a daunting match-up. My nerves where miss-placed though as Ian was a brilliant introduction to the tournament scene and I had a great game. It did of course help that my Veer-myn managed a decent win against his Enforcers despite taking heavy casualties. 
There was a mix up with the results entering on this game when the TO (tournament organiser) put Ian down as the winner rather than myself. The event used swiss pairing to decide match-ups so I should have played against someone else who won in the first round. The mistake was spotted after round 4 which led to a delay as everything had to be re-entered and the rankings worked out again.

Game 2 was against James Tandy and his Plague on a board provided by Andy Ransome. His board was the one that inspired me to get the terrain 'risers' made up so it was good to play on the original. I'm going to say this again for everyone I played against and talked with over the weekend, James was a really good opponent, and we had the tightest of games. In the end it came down to him just needing to keep his Aberration on the central 2 VP objective and he would have won. Aberration's have the Rampage special rule and when you activate them when they are wounded if you roll a 1 or 2 (on a D8) then your opponent gets to move them. Unfortunately for James he rolled a 2 and I was able to move his model away and then jump on the objective to secure the win.

I realise at this point that I probably should have written down which scenario we where playing but the 3rd game against Matt Osbourne was Scour. This involved picking up items and taking them back to a drop off point to score VP's. Matt had lots of Gruntbots and I had lots of things that moved quickly so whilst he could kill me (we scored no VP's for kills in the first 3 rounds) he couldn't do so quickly enough to stop me building up a lead. Again, Matt was a great opponent and we played out a game that went the full 5 turns and due to not scoring VP's for kills for most of the game I managed a third win in a row with the Veer-myn ending on 13 VP's.

Game 4 was against the Zombie Horde's of Kevin Haney and for this game I played the GCPS as I wanted to save my Veer-myn for the last game of the weekend. Kev's list had 30 Zombies worth 0 VP's and a leader worth two. This meant that the normal route to the 20 VP's required for victory of combining kills with objectives was narrowed down to just objectives. Not to sound like a broken record but again Kev was a great opponent and his list really changed the way you had to think about the game. No longer was it a game of kill with objectives thrown in, this was a game all about objectives. With so many Zombies swarming the objectives ( 2 * 2 VP's on each side of the map) my GCPS couldn't cut through them quickly enough (even with the mortar) to stop Kev taking a commanding lead. I didn't score any VP's until the end of turn 4 when I'd managed to secure three objectives which I held for T5 as well to get to 12 VP's in total.

I will make a quick note on the terrain on the board, I was lucky enough to play twice on both Ian's board (first and third games) and twice on Andy's board ( second and sixth games) and they had plenty of interesting terrain. The other boards mostly lacked what I would call a decent density of terrain which I think favoured Frag weapons and didn't help slower armies.

Game 5 started late as the TO realised the mistake from round 1 with myself and Ian Davies and they had to re-work out the scores. In the end I was paired up with Ian again this time against my GCPS. I won't make excuses but (see I lied!) by that point my brain was dead and my luck ran out and Ian showed the champion class to beat me on the re-match. I think it's worth mentioning that as well as being a great person to play with Ian was also kind of involved in every game as he was helping out with rules questions from the rest of the tables. I presume normally the TO would do that but having a member of the RC in room meant that people naturally asked him. So to do that over the course of eight games (without complaining that I heard) and still come out as the winner deserves a tip of my hat.

That was the end of day 1. During the day I had discovered that I was staying at the same accommodation as Kev and Chris Cowburn and they gave me a lift back. Ian joined us a bit later on as he's stayed until the last game ended and we had some well deserved food and a couple of drinks. I didn't get to play Chris over the weekend but I certainly look forwards to the chance in the future. It seems the DZ tournament scene is more alive in the north of England so hopefully further trips up are on the horizon.

First game back in the morning was against Andy on his home turf, he was running a double mortar list with lots of fast or tough threats. The Plague Teratons that can Teleport 3 cubes are a nightmare for lists that want to shoot things off. Andy has his own You Tube channel with over 3.5k subscribers so as well as an RC member I got to play someone who would be reporting on our game to a gloab audience. I'm not sure I'll want to watch the report because again the game didn't go well (though it was highly enjoyable) for my GCPS and all I managed to do was kill all of Andy's dogs, as a cat lover I didn't feel bad about that one. This was my heaviest defeat of the weekend which I'm going to put down to the fact that I left flamer guy off the table for the entire game and only spotted him at pack-up time.

Next up I played Paul and his Veer-myn, I probably should have matched him up but wanted to save my Veer-myn for the last game (at this point it was three wins for my rats and three loses for the GCPS). I blame myself for this defeat as I'd not read Paul's list properly and missed he had a Frag 4 launcher on his leader and left my two groups of 4 dudes in squares he could target. He took full advantage of this to remove one group in the first turn whilst hitting the send with a stun grenade so he could do the same to the second in the next round. The game was over pretty quickly and Paul marched on to a second place finish over-all so I like to think I helped him along :-) Paul was also kind enough to give myself and Terry a lift into town on his way home which saved us a taxi fair. So a seventh game in a row against a great opponent with some lessons to take away and learn. Paul said (I think) he's only been playing for a year so he must be a natural!

The last game of the weekend saw me on 3 wins - 4 loses but with the Veer-myn list still to use up. This game I played against Todd who must also have been somewhere in the middle of the pack and I'd been hoping we'd get to play. We'd had a few chats over the weekend and he'd come up from the beautiful south as well and he was also new to DZ being more of a KoW player. He had an interesting triple sniper list with a few Peacekeepers thrown in for good measure, it did mean he only had 7 models against my 13 rats though. In the end I managed to kill his snipers off and a couple of Peacekeepers and with them all being 3 VP's each it only needed a few VP's from objectives to take a fourth win for the Rats. A great game to end the weekend on, I even learned you could use more than one bonus dice die on a roll, so fun and educational.

So this is my badly scrawled score-sheet at the end of the event. The rats proved to be a solid and effective fighting force, the GCPS not so much. I didn't get a look at the lower half of the overall rankings so I'm not sure exactly how I placed, I didn't get the wooden spoon so I know it wasn't last.

The final top three was:
Ian Davies
Paul Smith
Chris Cowburn

I had hoped that I'd get a third game against Ian so we could have a proper Ian-off and decide who was the best Ian but it wasn't to be, perhaps this is one we can carry over to a future tournament.
There was also an award for most killed, which I think went to Ian as well. I think if they had been keeping track of most lost I'd have done pretty well, so perhaps that's one to suggest for the future.
Edit: In fact it went to Chris by 3 points.

Best painted went to Kev with his Marauder list (look down the page), which I know I voted for, it must have been a popular choice.

The final award was for Best Sports and I was very surprised when my name was read out, this meant that at least 2 (probably 3) people had as much fun as I did in our games. We got to vote for one opponent each and in honesty I could have voted for any of the people I played with over the weekend, in the end I went for Ian purely on the basis that he gave me two enjoyable games to everyone else's one.

So overall a really enjoyable experience, I'd travelled up hoping for at least 1 win to maintain family honour so to come away with 4 and Best Sports was well beyond my expectation. It was also great to meet up with other gamers and roll some dice and have fun. So now I've done one I can certainly see myself going to more. I think the very nature of DZ with it's exploding 8's mechanic and the always inconvenient booby-trap item doesn't appeal to people who would take it too seriously and so you get people with a similar level of mind frame of wanting to enjoy a game, not just beat the other player into the ground. I've used the word opponent a few times in this post but I really think DZ is a game that leads you to play with someone rather than against.

To finish off here are some pictures of all the strike teams.

Matt's Marauders

These Marauders took my vote for best painted and also the over-all award for best painted for Kevin Haney. The execution is great and I'd never have thought of using white on Marauders. Below are his Zombie's.

Above and below the two strike teams of Ian Davies.

Matt's Forge Fathers

Above and below the glorious orange forces of Andy Ransome

Above and below, Todd's Enforcers

Paul Smith's Asterians, those pink's really pop.

Then his Veer-myn, again with a striking paint job

I didn't get to play Chris but he placed third and proved to be a thoroughly decent chap when had supper & beers on Saturday night.

Jame's Plague including the desperately unlucky Abberation.

I'm not sure whose these are.

I didn't get to play Craig but I did manage to have a couple of chats with him over the weekend, if we'd been able to cast two votes for painting then this would have been my second choice.

These are the GCPS brought by Terry, again we didn't get to play but we had a good chat and shared a train ride to Derby (?) after the event as he headed towards Leeds. This was his first event as well and he came away with 3 wins. 
Edit: I thought Terry won the wooden spoon but I'm corrected in that it was Todd who took that honour.