Sunday, October 8, 2017

Curse of Dead Man's Hand AAR

My friend Hugh and I put Curse of DMH on the table for the first time and I was reminded again that we need to keep this fun game in rotation!  Pro tip for those who play, you can't use standard gunfight tactics against the undead.  Being a slow learner, it took me a few losses to sort that out!

Scene 1 saw 2 Wendingos loose in the town.  They can race across the table and excel in hand to hand  combat as my poor cowboys quickly discovered.  I lost this round quickly!
Scene 2, the undead turn up.  While slow, they attack en mass.  They too are great in hand to hand and mouth to hand combat.  My cowboys went down in a sea of dead flesh.
Scene 3, it dawned on me that I needed to change my tactics.  Starting near the gallows, I decided to make a stand on the platform and use height to my advantage.  I kept a "blocker" on the stairs and used my collective firepower to take down the undead, one by one.  It was a good idea but undead Ned Kelly is a hard to kill tank.  He went on a tear and soon it was down to 1 undead versus 1 cowboy.  Unfortunately, I missed with a sawed off shotgun at short range and lost again! New tactics, same results.

Scene 4 , things heat up.  The Baron is in town with a gang of beasties.  To make things worse, the Baron can bring my dead cowboys back to life to fight for his side!  Hardly seems fair but then life isn't fair.  Early on, I tried to jam the baddies by covering the windows and doors of a building they were moving through.  The Baron had a surprise ability to move everyone at once quickly and in one go, it cost me most of my gang! Down to just my shotgun fellow and desperate to make a play, I spotted a move that let me take a single shot at the Baron .  With shooting modifiers, I needed to roll a 20 to get a kill and save the game.  If I missed, I'd be swarmed by monsters.  I threw my die, looked and laughed.  I rolled a 20 to win!  If you can't be good, its good to be lucky!  

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Curse of Dead Man's Hand

Great Escape Games hit a home run by bringing the undead into their Dead Man's Hand franchise. My friend John and I have a standing zombies versus gunfighters game I look forward to every year around Halloween. With Curse of Dead Man's Hand, you can pitch right in to the undead at any time with new factions, characters, abilities and a campaign. And figures that are lovely and gory all at once.
Everybody say "Cheese!" 
Fantasy painting normally pulls me out of my comfort zone. Hours of watching The Walking Dead finally paid off as I was comfortable painting this set once I found a recipe for painting blood and dead flesh.  When it comes to painting blood, it comes down to personal taste and how gory you want to go.  My recipe for blood was as follows:

Vallejo Hull Red for the base.
Vallejo Scarett Red for midtone
Vallejo Carmin for highlight
Citadel technical Blood for the Blood God to wash it all down.

If you don't have these colors, its essentially a dark red base, red  and then bright red highlights washed down by a fairly heavy red wash.

Haunted Bear and Storm Crow

Cannibal Dwarves and Dread Wolves

I played around a bit to come up with a recipe for dead flesh. Again, it comes down to what looks right to your eyes.  My recipe for dead flesh was as follows:

Vallejo English Uniform for the base
Wash with Citadel's Reikland Fleshshade or Druchii Violet
Highlight with Vallejo German Beige

Undead minions
If you're a Dead Man's Hand regular, you'll recognize the minions above are all based on of past figures and gangs. So if you ever wondered "hey, what happened to The Preacher," well, now you know.  

Perhaps the most important question is "How does it play?"  The Curse of Dead Man's Hand campaign is a blast.  The scenarios do a great job of setting up a cinematic arch and story to the campaign.  When we finished our first round, Hugh and I were laughing and shaking our heads. it really does play out like a movie!  I'll share up an after action report in my next post. Spoiler alert, the undead are really tough!  
The Witch and the Baron

Monday, July 17, 2017

Late Romans

Footsore's Late Roman archers give me another look for my Late Roman warband. Ideally, I'll run them as a 12 pack of warriors with a banner.  With an armor of 3 to shooting and melee, I'll have to hide them away from the enemy.

Looking for any excuse to paint  my Footsore's Attecotti warriors, I decided to use these as mercenary Scouts in my Late Roman warband.  If you're considering an Aetius and Arthur warband, take a look at Picts. Along with the option of putting your warlord in a war chariot, you can upgrade 1 unit of 8 warriors to Attecotti.  If they are the attacker in melee, each figure generates 3 attack dice! They can double move into combat without taking a fatigue and while their nakedness makes them an armor of 3 to shooting and melee, their magical tattoos allow them to re-roll failed defense dice. Honestly, the Footsore figures are so lovely that's reason enough to paint Picts.  You can also use these figures with the Scotti, Scots, Irish and more. Score!

Last up is Sarissa Precision's Roman Villa, available on the Footsore webpage.  I figured I needed a nice mansion for the Governor overseeing my Romans.  This kit goes together with a minimum of fuss and effort.  Once done, I primed it leather brown and then airbrushed it up in a base and highlight color.  Quite a bit of bang for the buck!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Speed painting a Warband

Necessity is the mother of invention, and experimentation too.  I'm attending two SAGA events that allow Dark Age warbands only.  I  sold my Saga collection recently, save for the Late Romans. I scrounged and based up every unpainted Dark Age figure I had left including a box of plastics. The 24 levy and 48 warriors can run as Vikings, Anglo-Danes or Anglo-Saxons. Score!

After talking to local painters, I decided to paint using mostly washes and inks. My test run of 24 levy turned out well enough I kept at it. 

The key is Zenithal priming which is a fancy way of saying "Prime black & dust with white from above."  The washes and inks work off of the primed-in shadows to achieve a nice tabletop standard. Mind you, this was my first time and I was spit-balling.
I picked a Footsore Viking (not yet available) and a resin V&V Miniature for my warlord and warrior Priest. The Viking is a Bill Thornhill sculpt and V&V fig is equally stunning.  Who goes into battle shirtless and without his helmet? THIS GUY! These figures are additional proof of the Golden Age of Gaming we live in.   

I never found a wash or ink I liked for skin so I used Foundry Flesh combo 5A, B, and C.  I applied 2 highlights before washing them down with Citadel's Reikland Fleshshade.  I'm happy with my results. 

Below is the Alternate Ending of the Battle of Stamford Bridge.  Is it just me or is the Viking in green with his arms outstretched one of those guys who photobombs every pic?    

The levy were shoved out of the group photos above so they gathered for their own picture.  They'll be key when I run Anglo-Saxons and perhaps even useful for the Anglo Danes.  My blogging partner Rodge has run Anglo-Saxons for years so I'll check in with his Youtube Saga Thorsday series for advice. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Men of Wessex battle Irish Reavers

Rodge is the producer of the fabulous YouTube series SAGA THORSDAY.  Each week, he and a guest break down battle-boards and talk SAGA.  It's a great insight into each faction's combinations, styles of play and ways to maximize your fun.  I'm thrilled to announce Rodge as a co-contributor to this blog.  His first post is a superb AAR for a Anglo-Saxon versus Irish match-up. Take it away, Roge!

Hello warlords! Rodge here from Saga Thorsday.

I recently got in on a little Saga action with a new (and incredibly awesome) group of guys! They actually live in my hometown, so this is an excellent development. Always keep your eyes peeled, people! You never know when you’re going to run into some underground Saga players!

This is Sam!

Sam plays Irish (among other factions) and it seems those cheeky gits were on a pretty good winning streak. I decided to face this challenge with my Anglo-Saxons. Among the factions I play, this is probably the one I’m most comfortable with. It’s also a pretty straight forward bashy board, unlike the Welsh I’ve been trying to run lately, so I could take it easy and just concentrate on having fun against a new opponent!

We rolled a d6 to determine a scenario from the original Dark Age Skirmishes rulebook and came up with Sacred Ground. We decided to use the Adepticon variation of this scenario, where the VP you gain from each piece is capped at the turn number. (So you can only get a single point from each piece on Turn 1, two points for each piece on turn 2, etc.) Although we’ve never met before, we both had heard of this variant and thought that this would lead to a closer and better game!

For lack of a big hill, we just played the center piece as open ground, even though it’s several rocky features strung together.

My Anglo-Saxon force pictured on the bottom of that picture was left to right:
  • 12 Warriors
  • Warrior Priest Father Gregorius
  • 12 Warriors
  • Warlord Aelfynn Ravenkiller
  • 12 Levy
  • 12 Levy
This is the same list I used at Saga Storm last year. I’m only generating 5 Saga Dice each turn, but if I do snag a Helmet, I’ll be maxing out! The Warrior Priest is mainly in there because I didn't want to paint any more models!

He does have good utility, though. The Bretwalda ability can make him a tough nut to crack. The big Saxon units also get the most benefit from his Blade that Punishes ability. These attacks are definitely welcome too, as the Saxon board trends towards defense.

Lastly, I just really like the symmetry of each warrior unit led by tough fighter! Simplifies my game plan.

From left to right on the Irish side, we have: 1 Curadh, 8 Warriors, 7 Hearthguard, Warlord

8 more warriors and 8 mounted Hearthguard!

One last shot before battle!

I played Irish only once before at Adepticon and was thoroughly trounced! (Although I was using Anglo-Danes) With this scenario and faction, though, I was feeling pretty good! At least I had a few more bodies to absorb all those sticks flying my way!

First turn the Irish move up.

The mounted Hearthguard take a fatigue for a double activation to claim the center. (Just a reminder that we were playing it as open ground!) Dice run out, however, and Sam has to leave the forest in front of his line unclaimed.

My turn I stack my board for movement and shooting defense. In these shots, the Irish board will show what Sam actually has left on his board at the end of his turn and start of mine.

The masses move forward with the Levy on the far right double moving to claim the field (and, no doubt, scrounge for some seed)

On the Irish second turn, their foot warriors continue to surge forward. The mounted Hearthguard take a little breather on the center objective and the Sons of Dana begin their bloody work!

Although Sam stacked his shooting abilities, my Overlap Shields and Combat Pool Defense bonus mean only a single farmer drops. Whew!

My turn 2, I concentrate on levy activation and the inevitable counterattack! I did roll a Helmet so there were dice a plenty!

I double move the center Levy up to contest the middle objective. They are exposed to all sorts of Irish nastiness but I don’t want to fall behind in VP (and the Levy are accustomed to such hardships!)

My warriors are poised to counterattack if he gets too close with his foot troops or if he doesn’t pull back with the Hearthguards.

View from the Irish side!

Unsurprisingly, the Irish lay into the Levy bold enough to contest their Sacred Ground!

Numerous units and abilities are used, resulting in 9 dead farmers. I’m just glad a few made it through to gum up the works. (We’ll also need them for this year’s harvest yet!)

Couple things of note here at the end of the Irish turn.

The mounted Hearthguard chose to stay on the hill and the foot Hearthguard near the Warlord took a fatigue for activating twice. The rest of the Irish Warriors and Curadh are pretty far back in the woods or even at the starting line. The Men of Wessex smell opportunity...

In typical fashion, however, I fail to roll that rarest of Helmets. The bounty of last turn hath withered on the vine!

Although there is a good lesson here. I should have loaded up The Fyrd last turn when I had the Rares and just saved it for future turns. I knew that the real action was going to go down the following turn but decided to push my luck and I paid for it here.

In any case, I decide to go on the attack! (It's a battle after all!)

Also, I won’t be able to stand up to that shooting for long. I have to use most of my dice to get into position but do manage to power up the Warrior Priest and get a dice on Defenders of the Realm (probably my favorite ability on the board!)

On my left, I double move the Warriors and Gregorius to go in against the fatigued Hearthguard.

With all the fatigues canceling out, it should be a “fair fight”, although I have numbers and religious fervor on my side. Generating 24 attacks (6 for Warrior Priest + 12 for Warriors + 6 more for The Blade That Punishes Side by Side bonus) against 14 coming back from the Irish Hearthguard, I’m feeling pretty good! I pop Defenders of the Realm for pure defense dice, so hopefully I can get the better end here!

A veteran Saga player will have no doubt sensed my overconfidence a mile away at this point.

The Gods of War give me 4 hits out of 24 (Needing 5s) while the Irish score 11 out of 14 (needing 4s). Good thing I loaded up on Defense dice!

The odds swing back in my favor a bit and I manage to save 7 of the 11 wounds for only 4 dead. Sam saves 1 of his 4 for 3 dead in the end. The men of Wessex beat a hasty retreat!

On the right side, meanwhile, things are a bit trickier. My Walord, the Ravenkiller, would be in on the Mounted Hearthguard with a single move but his nearby warriors would not. Since I have to double move anyways, I move the warriors into range but towards my far right. The Irish Hearthguard are still in a crescent formation to better pummel my poor farmers, so I have the opportunity to engage with only a few of them.

After shuffling for that position, my warriors (now fatigued) and the Ravenkiller (fresh) wade into combat. Only 5 of the 8 Hearthguard get to fight and this one is a little more inconclusive. Sam uses the warrior's fatigue to make his Hearthguard harder to hit. After all is said and rolled, two Hearthguard go down to a single Anglo-Saxon warrior so this time it’s the Irish who have to fall back! I was expecting a few more casualties there, so was quite pleased with that result!

The lines at the end of Turn 3.

You can see the Saxons are starting to sweat with all those fatigue markers but we still have numbers in the middle. Both of Sam’s Hearthguard unit have a fatigue on them as well, although his Warlord is fresh. He’s got a few options at this point, let’s see what these Irish can do!

They’ll start by flinging some more sticks of course!

The Hearthguard move up and with a few Irish abilities juicing them up, they take down 4 warriors.

On the left side, Sam wants to get his Warlord and his Hearthguard into my warriors. Due to the size of his base and a couple of my farmers in the way (Doing their job!), he has to do a move behind his Hearthguard first, then go in. In the ensuing combat, I keep the fatigue on his warlord and we both use our trooper's fatigues to make each other easier to hit. We both desperately want to wipe the other guy out!

After a flurry of rolls, the Irish Hearthguard get wiped out and while a single Saxon warrior remains!

As a bonus, that wipeout adds a 3rd fatigue to the Irish Warlord.

My turn I plan to strike back while the Warlord is defenseless.

With my units depleted, I have no chance of generating bonus Saga dice. I have to make do with what I roll. I manage to activate the Blade that Punishes and Father Gregorius engages the Irish Warlord head to head (along with the last warrior.) Sam keeps all 5 of his Warlord's attacks. When asked if he wants to fight defensively, he simply states “We don’t do that here!” Loving these guys!

The gambit to take out Father Gregorius fails, however, and the old man is victorious! Although, that warrior that was with him is conspicuously absent...

Meanwhile on the right side of the battle...

The Ravenkiller and his retinue rest up quick and then pile back in. With only two defense dice from Defenders of the Realm, this is going to be dicey!

But the Saga dice gods favor the bold! The Hearthguard are completely wiped out! Even the Ravenkiller is shocked by the carnage!

Wow, that was a big turn for the Men of Wessex! We’re depleted but we hold the Sacred ground!

The Irish aren’t done yet, however! Despite being starved for Saga dice, Sam moves forward and actually leaving his Sacred Forest to fling some sticks at the Priest. Gregorius is still pretty nimble in his old age and deftly dodges them.

At this point, the Scenario is forcing Sam to gamble a bit. If he can quickly wipe out the Saxons on the hill, he'll hopefully score enough points in the end to claim a victory.

On my turn, I manage to roll a couple helmets but they’re pretty useless at this point! I ready up Gregorius for further action while the rest of the force takes a well needed rest.

Gregorius pushes back the Irish warriors, slaying two, but exposes himself to the Curadh. Although I have Bretwalda in reserve, hopefully this wasn’t a mistake!

Crow’s eye view of the table. You can see Sam's other warrior unit is a fair ways out from the center.

On the following Irish turn, Sam once again calls upon the Sons of Dana to wheedle away at my VP lead. Four farmers are caught unawares before they can huddle up for protection.

Meanwhile, Father Gregorius successfully fends of the Curadh, who retreats to regroup.

The remaining turns go quick at this point. I continue to hunker down on the objectives while powering up Gregorius. The guy’s a real maniac once he gets going! Sam throws everything he can at the rascally fellow but is steadily pushed back.

Finally it’s just down to the Priest and Curadh!

Father Gregorius is victorious and secures the Sacred Forest for the Men of Wessex!

While Gregorius was taking care of business on the flank, there was yet a little action towards the center as the remaining Irish warriors press forward.

Although the last volley is impressive, Sam just doesn't have enough dice to mount an effective assault.

The Men of Wessex are thoroughly depleted as well, however, and the game ends with a staredown in the center!

We figured the always pragmatic Ravenkiller approached the now lordless Irish warriors and offered to settle them in Wessex lands. He took an awful loss in manpower and would rather he get a share of something rather than nothing from those lands!

*  *  *

Victory Points Totals
Turn 1 – Sam 01 – Rodge 01
Turn 2 – Sam 05 – Rodge 05
Turn 3 – Sam 11 – Rodge 11
Turn 4 – Sam 19 – Rodge 18
Turn 5 – Sam 19 – Rodge 26
Turn 6 – Sam 19 – Rodge 32
Turn 7 – Sam 23 – Rodge 44
Turn 8 – Sam 27 – Rodge 56

Wow, great game! Although the pure VPs indicate a solid victory, you can see it was far closer than that. I have to say this is rather typical for my Anglo-Saxons. When I win, it's just barely a win.

Overall, this game was a blast and Sam was a great opponent! He was very impressed with Gregorius and is now considering a Warrior Priest for his Irish as well!

Thanks to Monty for letting me post this on the Twin Cities Gamer blog. He is helping me out big time with my upcoming review of the Spanish Battle Board next Saga Thorsday and I wanted to return the favor!

Catch you guys next time!