Thursday, December 7, 2017

Knight House Draco Assaults the World of Rhoche V



Knight House Draco has been in active deployment along the Draconis March from Terra to the Eye of Terror throughout the course of the Indomitus Crusade. Their combined forces have met stiff resistance regardless of how far they stray from the Cicatrix Maledictum, for their charge is to seek and eliminate the incursion of powerful Chaos entities wherever they emerge. Indeed, the house's long history of combating powerful Daemonic threats has been a boon to the Imperium in these warzones.

Loretta Colbert and her mount, Knight Warden Maleficent, have hunted the frontier of the Cicatrix Maledictum for decades. When the old king was deposed as a result of his death at the hands of a trio of Bloodthirsters a decade ago, the Scions of House Draco voted unanimously to raise her as the High Queen of Draconis Noctum. Loretta is more mild-mannered than her predecessor. She is more thoughtful. However, she still prefers to engage directly with the enemy rather than lead from a rearguard command position. Maleficent is equipped for this kind of philosophy, capable of laying down deadly volleys of firepower with its missile launcher and gatling cannon, then engaging once the enemy has been suitably softened up.

Loretta has been hungry for glory since her ascension as the reigning Queen of her people. For this reason, she demanded to be allowed to personally lead a campaign against the daemonic incursion on the world of Rhoche V. She respectfully declined the offer of assistance from the Star Eagles Space Marines who have long been honor bound with the ancient house. It was important for her to prove her worth and test her mettle.

With her, as always, came Beregard Colbert, the nephew to the queen and inheritor of the old king’s Cerastus Knight, Falkor. The old Lancer pattern Knight has a history of demanding much from its pilots, insisting on leading the charge in the most important engagements. This brash behavior is matched well with the nature of young Beregard. The fire in his belly has brought him a string of  recent successes on the battlefield at his aunt's side. The promise of a challenge on Rhoche V left him giddy with anticipation.

Queen Colbert hand-picked the other two members of her assault lance to match her own scrappy fighting style and the hot-headedness of her nephew.

The Questoris Knight Styrix, Jabberwock, has been the terror of House Draco for millennia. Even the most patient hands in House Draco could not hope to completely tame the bloodthirsty machine spirit of The Jabberwock. This knight is pressed into service only when the mission is of the most dire variety. Even then, only the most experienced warriors survive the bonding process. No matter how bloody an engagement gets, and whether its pilot survives or not, the Jabberwock has always climbed out of the rubble and ashes, ready to slaughter another day. When the time came to awake The Jabberwock, Scion Martial Saranna Kov answered the call and tamed the beast. She has piloted the monster for over a decade, longer than any Scion in history. Kov is a level-headed and domineering person, a perfect addition to the lance.

Scion Arbalester Erik Horowicz was chosen by his Queen to assist her in the assault because of his deadly accuracy at range. Horowicz demonstrated an addiction for destruction and his Knight, Gojira, was well-suited for the task. The pair have been an implacable foe on the battlefield, slowly advancing and obliterating anything that tries to outmaneuver the rest of the Lance. In a pinch, Erik engages the enemy in half-hearted melee, usually breaking free at the soonest opportunity in order to resume his bombardment.

All four Knights of Assault Lance Rhoche represented the best Draconis Noctum had to offer the Imperium.

Broken Loyalty




The Imperial Navy assets attached to House Draco established communications with the Rhoche V Planetary Defense Forces holding the central hive against hordes of Chaos cultists and gibbering mobs of Daemons. They worked to determine the safest drop zone for the Knights' lander just outside the city and executed a preliminary bombardment of the area.

When the Queen and her Lance arrived, the PDF inexplicably opened fire on the Knights. The planet wasn't under attack from the Ruinous Powers; it had already fallen!

Although Queen Colbert tried to push through the traitors' defenses, the weight of fire was too thick. They were forced to fall back in order to come at the city from a different angle.

Harried



Throughout drastic temperature changes and deadly daemonic incursions, the Knights made their way around the perimeter of the PDF's bombardment radius and came at the city through the broken, ancient ruins of the world's indigenous population, long since wiped out by the Imperium.

They Knights had approached quite closely when a pair of flyers streaked towards them from the city proper -- a pair of ancient Storm Eagle Assault Gunships. In their wake, a fresh batch of Tzeentch daemons sprung into existence from beyond the veil. The gunships flew low and fast, releasing their payload of posessed heretic astartes and their minders, including the Voice of Lorgar, Mortariat Consul Angelaris Prectora. Angelaris jumped from the belly of his transport with no thought for life or limb and hurling bolts of arcane energies at the knights. In his descent, a fusillade of blasts from both the Astartes and the Storm Eagles laid low Knight Paladin Gojira and swung around to deal with the Jabberwock.

Beregard in his Knight Lancer raced to meet Angelaris in personal combat. As they clashed, Tzeentch blessed their worthy disciple with the ascended form of a Daemon Prince. The two titans clashed blow for blow, each deflecting the other's blows with preternatural skill and resilience. Finally, Beregard's hotheadedness prevailed when he raised his lance and angrily kicked Angelaris, casting him to the dust, then crushed him under the Cerastus Knight's full weight. At their master's demise, the daemons fled back to The Warp.

After tending to Gojira's battle damage, Lance Rhoche pressed on.

Perfect Opportunity



Once inside the city, the enemy was quick to react. Although the Sons of Lorgar were present here, it was the Sons of Fulgrim who held the populace in sway. The Scions of House Draco found the people were engaged in the most profane devilry they'd ever witnessed. At the heart of the city's ghastly delights stood a force led by no other than Lucius the Eternal along with many of his Brothers, including several venerable slaves to darkness encased in dreadnought bodies. Among them was an exalted son of Fulgrim fully ensconced in the form of a Daemon Prince.

The Knights of House Draco fought valiantly and made quick work of the enemy, tearing through cultists and wading even through formidable Phoenix Guard Terminators and weathering withering fire from Emperor's Children Kakophoni. Beregard waded forward and challenged Lucius to single combat and Lucius agreed instantly. Some might argue that this was an unfair match for one Astartes, but the skills of Lucius are legendary in the extreme. In the end, the Queen's nephew found his mark and obliterated the ancient Chaos Lord in a single decisive blow.

Ashen Victory 



The Grey Knights had been monitoring the situation, of course. The prying eyes of the Ordo Malleus were always close on hand when it came to the activities of Knight House Draco and it was they who had informed the Queen of the incursion in the first place. Normally, House Draco was allowed wide leverage thanks to their keen skill against large Daemonic threats. However, the tales pf Lucius the Eternal told by the Liber Daemonica informed the Grey Knights of the real danger which had emerged from Rhiche V. Beregard must not be allowed to transform into Lucius, especually while ensconced in the carapace of a Cerastus Knight Lancer.

Weeks after the Queen's victory on Rhoche V, the Grey Knights arrived at Draconis Noctum and met with Queen Colbert. She begrudgingly allowed the Ordo Malleus access to her nephew and requested they end his life with dignity. When they came to his quarters, however, he was gone. They found he had stolen his Lancer and escaped into the vast, marshy wilderness of Draconis Noctum.

The Queen sadly informed the Inquisitor in charge of the contingent that honor demanded she stand with her nephew in the fight for his life. The Grey Knights had brought enough armor to face a dozen Knights, let alone the Queen's small personal retinue. They did their best to score hits against the Knights which would not waste the precious resource that was the lives of the pilots themselves. In the end, they were able to immobilize all of the Knights which had come to the aid of the Queen's nephew without killing a single soul. However, when Beregard was dragged out of his Knight's carapace, it was clear from his ashen appearance and vacant stare that the change was already starting to take. A chapter serf was ordered to execute the young noble, then taken into custody aboard their Strike Cruiser.

Alliance Reforged


Shortly after the departure of the Grey Knight dogs and their Ordo Malleus masters, another Strike Cruiser appeared in the system. This one, however, was soot black and running silent, even to the Knight House's powerful sensor arrays from before the days of the long night. The Star Eagles had arrived.


Friday, October 6, 2017

Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition Phased Alternating Activation



I was listening to the Combined Arms Podcast today and I was inspired by their topic on activation in wargames. It got me thinking about the many ways alpha strikes have been a difficult thing to overcome in the new edition and how some form of alternating activation could alleviate that.  Right now it feels a lot like 5th edition in that regard where the Imperial Guard alpha strike or the Ork Nob beta strike was a nasty way to end a game early.

My caveat here is that the game is still very fun; more fun out of the box than it has been in years. I still argue that 7th edition was extremely fun with a solid social contract, but Matched Play 8th Edition is the most fun the game has been sans-tweaks in years. This is in no small part due to Games Workshop's active role in (competitive) Matched Play.

What is it Good For?


I feel as if Alternating Activation would be best suited for Narrative gaming. It takes longer and requires more think time than I Go You Go. The way I'm presenting it here adds even more complication than traditional Alternating Activation as well.

This system could be adapted for Matched Play, but I feel as if the points values of your armies would have to be reduced to 1750 points to accommodate the added complexity.

Clearly, if you're running a huge narrative event with many players who will not be familiar with these rules, this is probably a bad idea. Always know your audience.


Models, Units, Deployment


All the normal rules for models and units apply with Alternating Activation as they do with normal I Go You Go Activation.  Deploy your armies in exactly the same way you normally would for the mission you are playing.



Battle Rounds


Instead of each player taking a turn in a Battle Round, players share each Phase of the game as described below.

Tactical Advantage


The Player who finishes deploying their army first gains the Tactical Advantage. At the start of every Battle Round, Tactical Advantage switches to the Player who didn't have the Tactical Advantage last turn.

Movement Phase


Starting with the Player with Tactical Advantage, players take turns Activating a unit to move. During each Activation, the unit does all of the things it would normally do in the Movement Phase. You may choose to not move a unit as an Activation, but if a unit has no action it can perform in the Movement Phase (such as an immobile Fortification), it may not be selected to Activate.

There is no limit on the order in which Players pick units for Activation in the Movement Phase.

Psychic Phase


Both Players' units Activate in the Psychic Phase in order of highest Power Level to lowest Power Level. In this way, a Player might activate multiple units consecutively depending on their Power Level in comparison to that of their Opponent's.

If a Player's own units are tied for Power Level, they may choose which Activates first. If opposing Players' units are tied for Power Level, the Player with Tactical Advantage gets to pick the order in which the units Activate.

During each Activation, the unit does all of the things it would normally do in the Psychic Phase. If a unit has no action it can perform in the Psychic Phase, then it may not be selected to Activate this Phase.

Shooting Phase


Starting with the Player with Tactical Advantage, players take turns Activating each of their units one at a time. During each Activation, the unit does all of the things it would normally do in the Shooting Phase. If a unit has no action it can perform in the Shooting Phase (such as if it has no viable targets for shooting), it may not be selected to Activate this Phase.

Small, nimble units have a distinct advantage over larger, more ponderous units. Although players do take turns shooting, they must do so from their unit with the lowest Power Level to their unit with the highest Power Level. This avoids the obvious problem of players firing with their biggest, most destructive unit first and wiping out entire units in one go.

There is one exception to this. Units with the <Character> keyword may be activated in any order. Some Characters might also permit another unit to Activate out of order depending on their special rules.

Charge Phase


Starting with the Player with Tactical Advantage, players take turns Activating a unit to charge with. During each Activation, the unit does all of the things it would normally do in the Charge Phase. You may not choose to not charge as an Activation and if a unit has no action it can perform in the Charge Phase (such as an immobile Fortification or it is more than 12" away from enemy models), it may not be selected to Activate.

There is no limit on the order in which Players pick units for Activation in the Charge Phase.

The Combat Phase


Adjudicate the Combat Phase as you normally would. The one caveat is that you might have multiple units who have charged this turn. In this case, alternate between units which have charged, starting with the player with Tactical Advantage. Note that some units also have rules that allow them to swing first and these are often adjudicated first or they are alternated with units which have charged.

The Morale Phase


There is no change to the Morale Phase.

Stratagems


Strategic Feint (1 Command Point): Use this Stratagem after your opponent has Activated a unit in the Movement Phase. Roll a d3. Your Opponent must immediately Activate that many more of their units which haven't yet Activated this Phase.

Hair Trigger (1 or 3 Command Points): Use this Stratagem in your first Activation of the Shooting Phase. You may Activate any one of your units instead of the unit with the lowest Power Level. If you spend 1 Command Point, the firing unit suffers a -2 to hit. If you spend 3 Command Points, the unit suffers no penalty.

Unrelenting Firepower (1 Command Point): Use this Stratagem after you have Activated a unit in the Shooting Phase. You may immediately Activate another unit.

Deadly Momentum (2 Command Points): Use this Stratagem after you have Activated a unit in the Charge Phase. You may immediately Activate another unit.



Preparation Considerations


Two things will make Phased Alternating Activation more fun and reduce the amount of time it takes to play a game.

Keep Activation Tokens on hand. It's best if these tokens have a Heads and a Tails side. When a unit has moved, place an activation token next to it Heads side up. When all of your units have a Heads up token next to it, you have run out of activations. When a unit shoots, flip its Activation Token to the Tails side. When a unit fights, flip its Activation Token back to the Heads side. Continue in this way throughout the game.

In your Army Roster, make put your Characters at the top of the list, then arrange all of your units from smallest Power Level to highest. This way, you can easily spot which units get to activate first in the Shooting Phase.

There is a delicate balance when building your army. Making big units of models decreases the number of Activations and ensures you'll shoot with your high-powered weaponry sooner than your opponent. Having said that, breaking up your army into multiple units ensures at least some of your models will fire before your opponents' will.

Refused Considerations


We considered Random Activation using cards as a method for the Shooting Phase and even the Movement Phase. This might be a fun way of simulating the fact that units don't always act the way they should in war, but 40k has an issue where units can take up huge swaths of the battlefield and it might be difficult to move your army around. It wouldn't be as bad for shooting. In either case, we recommend leaving characters out of the Random Activation Deck and still allowing them to move and shoot whenever they want.

We also considered using Battlefield Role for Activation. This is something I might like to see in the Movement Phase and possibly Deployment. What I'd like to see is Fast Attack getting preference, then Troops, then Elites, then Heavy Support. Again, HQs and Characters would get free reign.

We tried to think of ways to double up the Combat Phase because we are essentially reducing the number of Combats by half. We're open to any suggestions in this regard. In this stage of the game, we simply suggest fighting one extra Fight Phase after the game has ended.

Playtesting


We are definitely going to be playtesting these rules and reporting on them in an upcoming episode of Masters of the Forge. We'd love to have other people give them a try as well and report back with their experiences.





Saturday, September 30, 2017

ITC Orc Terrain Part 1 - Assembly


I'm back with another video post about my adventures with the ITC terrain series. This time, I'm putting together a couple of tables' worth of the ITC Orc Terrain. This first video discusses building the terrain. Future videos will talk about modifying and supplementing terrain, then painting it.

I had a real blast putting this terrain together. I think you'll find it extremely easy and customizable, especially at the price point offered by Frontline Gaming. I was so impressed that I immediately ordered two more Orc Strongholds. You can expect another video as soon as those kits arrive and I get them built because the Goldensprue Cup GT is right around the corner and we really need the terrain!