Friday, November 13, 2015

40K Friday - Eldar Allies

So what do you do when you end up with a nicely painted tank that doesn't really fit in with the rest of your force? Build up an Ally force!

So I had a nicely painted Falcon I picked up as part of a deal. It's done in Iyanden colors and I decided some time back not to paint my Eldar as Iyanden. So ... orphaned Falcon - what to do?

Well I also have some very yellow Fire Dragons...

Fire Dragons are the perfect unit to transport in a Falcon and the colors line up nicely. That gives me a heavy support slot and an elite slot. I need an HQ and a troop choice to make this work. HQ is easy enough...

I had a spare Farseer and I though about painting him up in Iyanden colors but I decided to continue the tradition and pick out a painted one instead. Now I need troops.

Minimizing point cost and effort-to-field I picked up a painted Ranger squad. That's enough to make it strictly an ally only force as you only need 1 HQ & 1 Troop unit to achieve that. In the interest of flexibility though I decided to add a second unit, a nicely painted squad of Dire Avengers. Now I could potentially field the group as a normal CAD.

The original theory here is that this is a nice little self-contained anti-tank force and a psyker/sniper team. It could really be used with any army as it doesn't need to interact with anyone. The Falcon zips across the board, drops the Dragons, and both units then annihilate whichever target is deemed worthy. The Ranger squad hangs out in some ruins or woods, likely on an objective, and pops targets as needed. The Farseer could go with the Dragons or stay with the Rangers depending on the needs of the fight.

Then I went and added a pair of Wraithlords. Now we're starting to make the turn towards becoming a "real" army.

Here's how it shapes up right now:

1 Farseer (HQ) @ 120 Pts
     (character); Ancient Doom; Battle Focus; Fleet; Independent Character; Runes of the Farseer; Psyker (Mastery Level 3); #Ghosthelm; The Spirit Stone of Anath'lan; Rune Armour; Shuriken Pistol; Singing Spear; Warlord

5 Dire Avengers (Troops) @ 65 Pts
     Infantry; Ancient Doom; Battle Focus; Fleet; Defence Tactics; Aspect Armour; Avenger Shuriken Catapult; Plasma Grenades

5 Rangers (Troops) @ 60 Pts
     Commander: None; Infantry; Ancient Doom; Battle Focus; Fleet; Infiltrate; Move Through Cover; Shrouded; Mesh Armour; Shuriken Pistol; Ranger Long Rifle

5 Fire Dragons (Elites) @ 110 Pts
     Infantry; Ancient Doom; Battle Focus; Fleet; Assured Destruction; Heavy Aspect Armour; Fusion Gun; Melta Bombs

1 Falcon (Heavy Support) @ 125 Pts
     Commander: None; Vehicle (Fast, Skimmer, Tank); Capacity: 6; TL Shuriken Catapults; Scatter Laser; Pulse Laser

1 Wraithlord (Heavy Support) @ 160 Pts
     Commander: None; Monstrous Creature (Character); Ancient Doom; Fearless; Flamer (x2); Starcannon (x2)

1 Wraithlord (Heavy Support) @ 180 Pts
     Commander: None; Monstrous Creature (Character); Ancient Doom; Fearless; Flamer (x2); Eldar Missile Launcher (x2)

Models in Army: 20

Total Army Cost: 820

At 820 points it is fairly "heavy" for a small army. With a bunch of anti-tank and a sniper unit it should be fine against tank armies and monstrous creatures. I think horde armies would give it a lot of trouble but then again at 800 points how much horde could you be facing? That's one of the reasons for taking the dual missile launchers on one of the Wraithlords - flexibility and to try and help  vs. armor, hordes, and air units.

As an ally force it could be as cheap as 400 points for Farseer + Rangers + Falcon + Fire Dragons. That adds a significant amount of anti-tank to any other army, plus a nice psyker. My orks might appreciate that kind of help.

For the future I don't feel a tremendously pressing need to expand this army but I do have some ideas:

  • A Spiritseer would be a slightly less expensive HQ for this force, flavorful,  and probably still very effective. 
  • A second Ranger squad would be an even cheaper troop unit to allow it to incorporate more heavy or elite units - if only they weren't so terrible under the current rules.
  • A Crimson Hunter would be a nice tool to have in the toolbox as an ally force and as a full army.
  • Wraithguard would up it's power quite a bit and are the obvious thing missing to make this even more of an Iyanden themed army.
  • Wave Serpents are pretty much required if you're going to field Wraithguard so they are definitely on the list. They would make the Avengers more mobile too.
  • A Wraithknight - well, maybe some day. It's another thematically appropriate unit and a very effective one too. 
I am not terribly interested in adding Guardians, Jetbikes, Artillery, or even most of the Aspect Warriors as this is supposed to be a simple side force while I paint my main Eldar army. Vehicles and wraith units will be the priority if an opportunity arises. I don't need to turn it into one of the other formations from the codex - a traditional CAD is fine.

In order to not split my focus I decided a while back to only add painted units to this army. So to some degree, this army's growth depends on what I find and when I find it. That keeps my army ADD under control and it also avoids adding any more to my already impressive backlog. I do need to unify the basing and that may happen as soon as this weekend. Right now I'm leaning towards snow but I won't really decide until I sit down and start digging in.

That's the update for this week - next time we will talk Iron Warriors!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rifts Flashback - Stat Sheets

In 1990-91 Rifts was only the main book + the Sourcebook + Vampire Kingdoms, at least for a time. We were having a lot of fun with it but even then I was trying to find a way to manage the numbers in combat and help players keep track of their vehicle stats. Now I didn't have a PC but I did have my aging Commodore 64 and an alternate operating system that had gotten popular a few years before - GEOS.

GEOS turned the C64 into a very Mac-like device (well, 1980's Mac) with WYSIWYG word processing and some paint type programs that were pretty cool for the time. Availability met opportunity and I started making reference sheets:

There's a lot of stuff to keep track of but I managed to fit it all on to one sheet. Ranges, sizes, damage capacities, weapon details - whew! This was for one of my player groups.

This one was mainly for me. Sheet protectors and overhead markers made them reusable.

Another one for one of my players occasionally used for opposition as well. I was clearly having fun with  different font styles and sizes.

The skelebot sheet got used a lot as I thought they made great opponents plus I had visions of the future war scenes in Terminator 2 which was a big deal at the time. Admittedly at 5 attacks per round they could get pretty nasty but I only had to have one mostly-dead party to figure that out. Not running a full squad of 8 made a big difference.

With the sheet protector approach these sheets were still clean and used through most of the 90's.Heck, they're still clean now! They're just printed on that really thin fan-fold paper we used to use back then so they've yellowed and faded a bit. I've cleaned them up just a little in the scans here, but not too much. The C64 itself was lost in a fire a few years later but the sheets live on!

Anyway, this is what cutting-edge game aids looked like about 1991!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mutants and Masterminds - Freedom City Year One: Battle on the Bridge!

The infamous Doctor Zero returns!

(actually it's his first appearance in my campaign - but he's been written into history!)

I recently ran a two-session episode in my very occasional Freedom City campaign using Mutants and Masterminds (second edition). I am hoping this leads into more frequent dips into this pool but only time will tell.

The setting: Freedom City, early 21st century. I am not setting a specific date on these as a) it's a comic book campaign and b) I figure I will retcon them into some kind of coherent timeline later

The heroes:

  • U.S. Patriot - a scientist who becomes a star-spangled super-man when needed
    (In M&M terms, a Paragon (Superman) type. Played by Paladin Steve)
  • Emerald Blue Defender - an alien guardian who crashed literally minutes before the attack on the bridge. The crash seems to have disrupted his identity a bit as he gives several different names during the action
    (In M&M terms, a Ringbearer (Green Lantern). Played by Apprentice Blaster)
  • Crimson Avenger - the mystic myrmidon dedicated to defending the earth
    (In M&M terms, a Mystic Battlesuit (Iron-Mannish). Played by Apprentice Who)
As our heroes go about their usual business - Patriot is at work, Avenger is at school, and Defender is spiraling out of control through the atmosphere - a report comes in about some kind of trouble on the Centery Bridge. A traffic copter report provides audio and video of the scene as strange insect-like mechanical forms swarm over the bridge and the vehicles crossing it. Overseeing it all, a huge tripod vehicle stalks across the structure and rants on about how Doctor Zero will finally have his revenge! Seeing this, the heroes swing into action!

As they arrive on the scene, Defender and the Crimson Avenger land on the bridge and begin slicing up, TK-tossing, and blasting the car-sized insectoid robots. Patriot, sensing the root of the problem, swooops down and lifts the walker into the air. Over the next few minutes Defender saves some encircled cops and rescues an injured driver while Avenger saves a minivan full of kids. In between, both of them smash multiple bug bots but are barely making a dent in the overall situation. Patriot takes the full force of Doctor Zero's wrath as he is blasted by various beams and rays emanating from the control pod of the walker. 

While this is going on all three heroes realize the bots are not just randomly tearing up the bridge but they are breaking down the vehicles and even parts of the bridge itself and constructing more bots! This problem could quickly scale out of control and threaten the entire city if it's not contained!

After managing to slow down Patriot with one of his many beams, Zero ejects the pod from the rest of the tripod and rocket-boosts down towards the bay, hoping to escape. The mighty chemist shakes it off and re-engages, grabbing the spherical pod tight enough to leave handprints in its shell. Then with a grunt he steers the pod up and over and slams it down onto the bridge. The material is too tough to smash outright but the Doctor is going nowhere now.

The heroes realize that tackling the bugs directly is a losing proposition. They team up to crack open the shell of the walker control pod but as Patriot peels back the canopy Zero lets loose with a maniacal laugh as he presses a button on his wristband. The bugs stop moving and begin emitting strange noises that mere into a slowly building tone ... almost like an alarm. 

“Now you will see the price of opposing me! That self-destruct signal will cause the power cores in my Bugbots to overload until they explode! In moments, this bridge will burn as a fiery monument to my genius, a pyre to light the very heavens! And there’s nothing you can do to stop it! The world will remember the name Dr Zero! Farewell ‘heroes!’”

Now concerned for far more than medium-scale property damage the heroes come up with a plan. Crimson Avenger uses his magical powers of thought-movement to sweep the bots into a pile as defender assists and then encloses them in a giant blue energy sphere. Patriot hoists the whole thing up over his head and lifts off. Avenger assists him, arms extended and trembling with power as Defender flies alongside to maintain containment. Their best guess is that they need to be 3 miles up (to prevent blast damage to the civilians, the bridge, and the city) and over the bay (to prevent damage from falling debris) and they only have seconds to do it. 

Three forms streak into the morning sky beneath a huge, glowing sphere, then are eclipsed as a massive explosion. A last-second "heave" by all three heroes tosses the bubble far enough that no one is harmed by the blast, not even themselves. Some bot-parts do rain down into the bay but boat traffic is light and no bystanders are harmed. In the confusion, Doctor Zero has disappeared. 

The three heroes return to the bridge to help the police get traffic moving again and to see to any damaged cars or injured civilians. Defender and Patriot find that they work well with the police but Avenger is less friendly and not sure that he wants to get too close to the authorities.

Today is a good day though. The city is saved, people are grateful, and their work here is done. As they depart, all three agree to meet again and set up some form of communication in case they need to act as a team once more.

DM notes: I used "Battle on the Bay Bridge" from Lame Mage Productions for this as I think it's a great introductory adventure. DTRPG link is here, though I don't see this adventure in the mix or on his site. There's probably not a ton of demand for M&M 2E adventures these days but I have been waiting years to run it and I am very happy that  I finally had a chance to do so. 

First question: "How much does a bug bot weigh?" This of course is not included in the stats, despite this being a nicely written and noted little gem. I know how much cars weigh, and the bots are car-sized, so I went with a number that made sense to me. Second question: "How much does the walker weight." Sigh - this is totally not car-sized so I actually had to look up size and weight rules for M&M and after that it all worked out. Note to self: Super-strength guys and Telekinesis guys are always going to want to pick stuff up and fling it about so remember to note down weight in advance where possible.

I was pretty proud of them for coming up with a solid solution to the problem so quickly. Playing videogames or even the same RPG or boardgame all the time can channel one's thinking. A good superhero session encourages wide-open thinking about how to solve problems.

Everyone had a pretty good time and some of the characters have been used in prior M&M one-offs so we are developing a little bit of a history here. Ideally this will be the gradual coming-together of a team of superheroes who will take over protecting Freedom City from the current Freedom League as they move into dealing with more global threats.  

I also finally managed to figure out how to run vehicles and minions in Hero Lab too which made the numbers much easier to keep track of in play. 

Overall it was a big win and we're hoping to work in more sessions in the future. Time is clearly the ultimate arch-nemesis of most of us grown-up gamers.