I will walk 5000 Miles!

You know whats cool? Going to conventions. Its always fun to read about peoples experiences in going to the big cons, like Adepticon, Gencon, ect. I know I find it fascinating as I cannot go to them currently (too costly!)

But you know whats AWESOME? Coming from flipping SOUTH AFRICA to go to a con. Thats what the guy who runs Vir Triumphalis is doing. Apparently he works for the US Embassy and thus travels the world. Sadly, due to this he doesn’t get to play against real people most of the time, he generally only plays oN Vassal (and I would challenge him there if we both didn’t play Khador) hehe.

I think you all should totally go read this guys blog and follow his travels, which include visiting his family and his wife who is due to have his first baby, And his adventures in Gen Con.

Again, the link is Vir Triumphalis.

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For the Motherland!

You know, after reading the forums, looking at the minis and the general playstyle, and the fluff, I cannot help it. I am going Khador. I thank all of you who have voted thus far in regards to which faction I should select. Merc’s were ahead I will admit, but in the end my decision reigns supreme!

The next thing I am going to do is grab me the Khador faction book, and start figuring out a 15 point list to run in Vassal. I am wanting to use either Starkhov or pButcher as my caster, and I know I want a Spriggan, but beyond that I have no idea what to do. Maybe a destroyer or a juggernaut? Something with a gun? Who knows. Kodiaks look pretty cool.

Any of you Khador guys out there feel like helping a brother out? I am basically treating myself like a total newbie (which in regards to Khador I really am) and want to start super small. And no, I have no intention of getting the battle box, mainly because I don’t want Sorsha.

Let the madness begin AGAIN (and yes, I intend later down the road to get ACTUAL dudes and paint them, but this is just starting out again)

Vassal Warmachine Module Updated!

Despite me not playing Warmachine right this minute, I have been considering playing it on Vassal again.  Just Vassal though.

So lo and behold, I go looking, just for fun mind you, to see if the Module has been updated and it has been.  So for those of us who are interested in playing on Vassal (or currently do) here is a link to the new update:

http://vassalwmh.ipbfree.com/index.php?showtopic=256

Here is the list of updates and changes (which are awesome by the way):

Change Log 4.0.0

*********************************************
Models
All models through to Forces of Mercenaries as well as previewed models up until 29/05/10 now have sprites.
Status effect overlays added to models – Knockdown, Promote
Mouse over pop-up labels added to all models.
Updated control areas of Warcasters and Warlocks to Mark II values.
Added areas of effect for Mark II abilities.

Grids
All damage grids updated to Hordes_Final_Online_Update.pdf

Maps
Mark II Deployment overlay added with support for SR2010 and Tier Lists.
Lots of new and exciting new pre-made maps available.

Terrain
Lots of new terrain options, including a new dirt board, cryxian necrotite rigs, cygnaran voltaic generators, jungle forests, logs, trenches, lava, barbed wire, orgoth ruins and much more.

Counters
Spray templates updated – SP6 and SP10 Templates added
Wall template updated to Mark II dimensions
A range of tokens for all Factions.
Added overlays for all Mark II scenarios.

Interface
Added a randomized scenario button
Added a window for Deployment and Scenario overlays
Added a private army setup area
Added a Guide including how to play, shortcut keys, etiquette and helpful tips. (Accessible in game, Help > Guide)

And all the stuff I have forgotten.

Vassal, huh! Yea! What is it good for?

Hello blogaholics! Today I have decided to take a break from my Talion Charter madness, and write about something that I have been using frequently these last few weeks: (line)Vassal(/link). And yes the title of my post is cheesy. Deal with it. I have now played against Gdaybloke, AstrayPenguin, and Owen and have had a blast. So I got to thinking: Beyond Owen, no one has really talked about the benefits and drawbacks of Vassal as a platform, its possible uses, and things that could be improved upon.

What do I mean? Well, like anything else Vassal is a tool. It allows you, in the simplest terms, to play Warmachine/Hordes over the internet. But what else could it be used for? What is good about the software and what could be changed? Thats what I want to talk about. First, a general overview of what Vassal is.

Overview:

Vassal is basically an online board game simulator. It is a system that uses Modules to load various board or tapletop games into memory and allows you to play them online. While I personally have only used it for Warmahordes, you can do things like play Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Heroquest, and a huge variety of other board games online using this program. Note that the issues with the system tend to be from the MODULE and not Vassal. Vassal is more like an overlay. It loads the programmed module into memory to allow you access. Its up to the modules creators how accurate the actual game and interface are.

Ok now that I am done with the general overview I am going to start talking about some of the beneficial uses I see for using Vassal. There are two main uses for it beyond just playing the game in my opinion, and that is growing the Community and Teaching/Learning.

Community:

Now I mention community as a benefit. What do I mean? While nothing can replace having an actual physical game community and being able to go and play face to face against others, there is something to be said about being able to play from anywhere in the world. For example, I played against Owen from FarFarAway, who lives in Ireland! I live in Orlando Florida and would normally probably never face this man. Thanks to Vassal I got to actually face off with this very nice gent, who ended up crushing me. When I think of the community (that is the Warmahordes community) I think of it in two ways: The local and Global communities. The local one is where you go to your LGS and play a game or two on an afternoon or evening, like I did Saturday. The global community is here, with the forums and bloggers and whatnot. With Vassal I can exploit that GLOBAL community and face people I would otherwise never have a chance to play against. Gday who lives in Canada, Penguin from the UK, and of course Owen.

Granted, its no replacement for playing live, but if you want to play against someone you have been chatting with online, then just fire up Vassal and go. Although adding in Skype for Voicechat is handy but I will get to that later.

Also getting to play people outside of your local meta provides you with more learning experiences. For example, my Meta seems to be mostly Khador, Menoth, Legion, Skorne. We have 1 circle player, and then me as the only regular Troll player. We have 1 or 2 Cryx and Cygnar players as well, and only know of 1 dedicated Merc player. So when I play, I tend to face Khador, Menoth, Legion, and Skorne. I know what they can do for the most part at this point, but you put me in front of Cygnar or Cryx and I will be at a loss. Same as if you put me in front of a full Circle or Merc army. I didn’t add Ret cause I have played against Retribution mostly when playing on Vassal (Hi Gday and Penguin!)

Teaching and Learning:

Another great use for Vassal is the ability to teach new players from anywhere, and to play with models you may not own but happen to have the cards for (thank you Field Test hehe). For example! I am doing Mercenaries, but before I purchase anything I am gonna spend this whole year playing them in Vassal and trying to decide which ones I like, what kind of list I want to start with, and whatnot. The only thing I have purchased for them is the faction deck and I will be getting the Forces book as well. With those two things I can play Mercenaries in Vassal and figure out which I like, which I don’t like, and what I want to play. This allows me to learn about the Faction without committing my precious monetary resource to them. Had I known about Vassal when I first started I might have done the same with Cygnar. Then I could have avoided spending nearly $200.

This goes hand in hand with teaching. A friend of mine named Dan bought himself a battle box of Circle, but does not want to commit to anything more until he is sure he likes Circle. We got him into a team game on Saturday where his partner, another Circle player, let him borrow models to get him to 35 points, but he was totally lost. No one really helped him or let him make his own decisions but rather just told him what he should do and why. Dan doesn’t really learn that way (at least from what I have seen). So I suggested after we left that he should do a few games in Vassal using completely different models (different caster, some units and solos) and that way he could LEARN the game and faction. I also told him that he could play against me, cause I would not rush
him and I would let him take his time, ask questions and make his own choices. He then pointed out that this could take a long time and I had to let him know that with Vassal you can actually SAVE THE GAME and come back to it at a different time (another AWESOME Feature by the way) and that way we could play one game over the course of a few days and he could slowly learn his capabilities. On Sunday we started, and we had gotten through 2 turns in 2 hours, but he was trying a completely new 25 point Mohsar list against my 24 point Shae (yea I miscounted and was short a point).

Without Vassal my friend Dan would have to sit down and spend the money first and possibly find out down the road that he doesn’t like this caster or that unit, and has basically wasted money. With the use of Vassal he is able to take his time, learn his faction and the game in general, and slowly but surely get the hang of what he is doing. He did point out that after those 2 turns he really enjoyed Mohsar and what he could do. Stupid salt pillars how I hate them, but I digress.

Another good example is a fellow blogger by the name of Loftybloke. This poor guy has not EVER had a live game of Warmahordes, but thanks to Vassal he has gotten to play and learn.

Bugs/Issues/Oddities:

So, like any computer program there are some oddball bugs, but they don’t really bother ME personally. The first is the ruler. You
basically use this red or green measuring tape to check distance. What makes it annoying is that after you check the distance, the next time you click on the game board the ruler goes crazy and jumps to two random points it seems. While annoying, it does not hamper gameplay and is easy to deal with, at least to me.

The control area feature. Some people find it annoying that the game auto measures your CTRL area and shows it to you as an Aura. I like this, but at the time you cannot use the completely legal method of “measuring your CTRL area” at any time to check distance between models. What I have taken to doing is allowing people to measure FROM THEIR CASTER to any other model that is completely within their CTRL area. Its something we can basically do on the Tabletop and I see no reason why we cannot do it in Vassal. I am tempted to suggest to the maker of the Module to put 1 inch lines in the CTRL area much like he does with the Scatter template so that way we can easily see how far something is away from our Caster.

When you click on the model window it will expand to a HUGE Size, generally taking up the whole window. You can resize it, but it happens each time you open and close that window, so get used to it.

Oh, and right now Vassal is not updated to full Mk2 for everything, so you have to get creative with the Damage Grids you have access to, which are easy enough to work with. It is also missing Ret sprites, but apparently the maker of the Module is just waiting for Privateer to give the go ahead and he will get the update out for that.

Other then that, Vassal is a very stable program.

Helpful Additions:

Voice chat helps tremendously. I played against Penguin without it at 15 points, and I think personally it slowed the game down a bit. It took us about two and a half hours to get through that 15 point game (I also think its cause Penguin overthinks things hehe!) but when I have played against both Gday and Owen, Voice chat allowed us to easily communicate our moves and discuss rules and things. You have two options for Voice chat as well and both are free: Skype and Meebo. Meebo I was unaware of until Owen and you would really want to ask him how it works, but Skype I have gotten used to. You of course need a MIC as well but most headsets have those now.

Your cards of course are needed, whether in PDF form or in real form. Honestly, real cards would be easier. I am working off the PDF for the Mercs, and its driving me bonkers sometimes having to flip pages to find what I am looking for. Also having the Mk2 Rules handy in PDF form (And yes, PDF form is GOOD for these) is a good thing to have around.

Beyond those 2 things, you don’t need anything else. Other then a PC with Net Access hehe.

Overall, I would say if you have NOT tried Vassal before, give it a shot. You might be surprised. I am generally up for a game, but I like to set them up ahead of time for the first time I play against ya.

Shae vs Vyross – 15 Points

So last night me and Gday had a Mangled Metal match, and it was a blast. I am not used to playing a force with any form of mobility, but I did make some mistakes, which were correctable. For example: Storm Rager can only be cast on a WARRIOR model and I had it on a jack. Silly me, but we simply added 2 damage (the jack had only taken 1 hit) and gave me a focus back as I had upkept it. We also had a bit of a confusion as to whether or not a building as an Obstruction. The reason this came up was the spell Veil of Mists which allows you to move through obstructions. Turns out we could either declare the building a structure or obstruction. We went with the obstruction.

So, what did we each run? I ran, by suggestion from Jme of Warpainter, the following:

Phinneus Shae:
– Freebooter
– Freebooter
– Freebooter
– Buccaneer

Silly list right? 3 Heavies? Yea I thought so too. But oddly enough they helped deal with my opponent. Gday ran the following filthy elves:

Vyros:
– Griffin
– Hydra
– Manticore

2 heavies and a light, and Vyros. First time for Gday to run Vyros, and the first time I have ever faced him. I had no idea what Vyros could really do, or the Manticore, but thankfully Gday answered my questions. The Hydra and Manticore are no joke in melee let me tell you. The Griffin took down the Buccaneer before it could do anything, which means either I have no idea how to use that little guy or its as worthless as I first thought. Going to have to work on it.

I ended up having to use my feat early when he pressed in, getting the jacks that I was trying to flank with into range so they could defend Shae. I was trying to work my way around the building in the picture attached, but he pressed forward to cause me to retract my movement. I also completely forgot to allocate focus to get those 2 Freebooters to run around the building. Silly me and the focus mechanic.

He actually only fired a few shots. Most of our fight was in melee, with him doing the most damage to my jacks. As you can see from the image, he tore my jacks apart.

However, Shae with Storm Rager proved the Equal of Vyros. Vyros got a charge in, and with Flank did a massive amount of damage. He took his second attack and…MISSED! That left Shae with 5 boxes left. In order to win, I would need to leave the melee range of the Manticore and risk a freestrike, but with a DEF 17 ARM 21 (thanks to 5 FOC and Storm Rager) I risked it. I was able to kill Vyross in 2 strikes of my sword.

What did I learn? Shae is tough to hit. Plain and simple. The Freebooter that trashed the Griffin did it thanks to getting a Headbutt off and then using its remaining 2 FOC to buy additional autohitting attacks. I did forget that the Headbutt does get a damage roll with a POW equal to the strength of the attacking model, which would have been a POW 11 vs ARM 18. May not have done much but could have. The Freebooters are awesome. I am thinking when I get ready to expand to 25 I may end up with something like this:

Phinneus Shae
– Freebooter
– Freebooter
– Buccaneer
Min Sea Dog Crew
– 3 Sea Dog Rifleman
First Mate Hawk
Commodore Cannon and Crew
Lord Rockbottom

That would let me give the Sea Dog’s tough and rolling 3 dice against warrior models, and Shae would give them ALL boosted charges. Furthermore, I could cast Storm Rager on Hawk, making her MAT 9 ARM 15 PS 11 Weapon Master, which is pretty nice. The 3 Rifleman gives me a CRA Option and the Commodore Cannon is well, the cannon. This is all based on how my list fared and how I like Shae vs Bart so far. I need to play Shae a few more times at the MM level I think.

Bart vs Kaelyssa – 15 Points

So a few nights ago me and AstrayPenguin of Yellow Dice had a Vassal Game. We had chatted via AIM for a while and finally got around to having a match, and it was alot of fun, albiet a bit slow due to no skype. Get your Mic fixed Penguin hehe.

Anyway! I ran the following, and in retrospect I really should not have.

Broadside Bart
– Mariner
– Mariner
– Buccaneer

Here is why I should NOT have used that. 2 Mariners with 1 Warrior Model means they have to stay near me to fire. Otherwise, they are just gonna be melee jacks and I have a slight better choice in the Freebooters for that. In fact what I should have run was the following:

Broadside Bart
– Mariner
– Freebooter
– Freebooter

Thats 3 heavy jacks, only 1 that needs to the help to fire and 2 melee jacks with 2 attacks each.

Penguin ran the following Kaelyssa nonsense:

Kaelyssa
– Griffin
– Hydra
– Hydra

When I saw that I shuddered. 2 Hydra’s, blah. That was going to be rough. Also I knew Kaelyssa could pull some crazy stuff. Now this game I had a chance of winning, but poor rolls caused me grief. The best part was when I crushed his Griffin with a Mariner.

Round 1:

We both advanced, and he dumped focus on both Hydra and 1 on the Griffin. I just had each jack run, knowing that hitting the Hydra would just make them worse. In retrospect I should have fired at them, as I could have cracked their ARM (18) with my POW 14. He ran his Griffin and moved into the forest. I also used Batten Down the Hatches.

Round 2:

He took a few shots, and I believe he feated here so I could not shoot him. He had gotten his Griffin into melee with both my Mariners as well, so it would not have mattered unless I trashed the jack. He also moved up his Hydra and took a few shots at Bart, and hit and did some damage. I took a few shots at the jack in melee with my Mariners and did some damage, but not enough to take it out. I moved my Buccaneer into melee with both Hydras (thanks reach!) so they could not shoot anymore. And then I popped MY feat, and Battened those Hatches down again.

Round 3:

Not a whole lot happened. He couldnt move his Hydra without them getting knocked over, and the Griffin was making attacks at -3.
Kaelyssa moved out and took a shot though and ended up hitting the Griffin with an Arcantrik Bolt making it stationary. Pretty sure she missed her other shots. My Mariners trashed the Griffin thanks to it being stationary, and I took a shot with Broadside at Kaelyssa with the second Mariner. Missed and forgot to deviate this one (DOH!). I also cast Batten Down the Hatches and used my Buccaneer to try to hurt one of the Hydra.

Round 4:

I don’t remember much of what happened save for LOTS of throwing. He threw my jacks around like rag dolls, took a shot or two with Kaelyssa and put more damage on Bart. I took 2 shots at Kaelyssa with the Mariner who could and ended up only doing about 6 damage to her thanks to a deviated AOE. My Buccaneer did nothing.

Round 5:

He killed me. Plain and simple :P And I failed Bart’s tough roll. Once again more throwing shennagins happened as well.

Overall I realized the issue was the fact that I had only 2 heavies. The buccaneer is not the best jack I could have taken and I really
should have had 2 Freebooters. Next time I play a 15 point game against anyone I am gonna try out a list that Mael suggested. Shae, 3 Freebooters, and a Buccaneer. Oh yea. That list will be silly. Just imagine, put Storm Rager on either a jack or Shae, and put Phantom on either Shae or a different jack. Then, just cast Coup de Main to get the drop on my enemy.

I will get those 3 heavies in their face before they can BLINK.

I will say I enjoyed how tough Bart made my jacks, but he really does want Heavies with him. I was a bit afraid to get him into melee, and maybe I should have. He is MAT 7 PS 14 after all, which has a slightly better chance to hit Kaelyssa and her blasted DEF 16 then my jacks did (unless they aimed). After doing my write up about Shae though…I am really starting to like how he looks. So thats why the next game will be 15 point Mangled Metal with Shae. And following Gday’s advice I am planning my 15 point list so that I can simply add 10 more points and make it a 25 point list. IE a List to Grow with.

Vassal Game 2: Clay vs Mike (Seraphsong) 35 Points

So this last Sunday (the 13th) I played yet another game of Vassal Warmahordes. I am getting pretty good with that little program, but I am still learning. This time, I played against a gentleman from my FLGS named Mike, aka Seraphsong. He generally plays Everblight and Skorne (and is darn good I might add) but this time he wanted to test out his themed eSkarre pirate list! I figured I would test out the 35 point eDoomshaper list (aka the Mulg Rocket) and see how I fared. I held no illusions about winning given the skill that Mike has, even if he was playing his Cryx for the first time. He may claim otherwise, but its all lies! *winK*

I ran the Following:

eDoomshaper
– Mulg the Ancient
– Dire Troll Mauler
– Axer
Kriel Warriors (Full Unit)
Fell Caller
Chronicler
Runeshapers

Mike ran the following:

Epic Skarre
– Deathripper
– Deathripper
– Deathjack
– Stalker
Skarlock
Satyxis Raiders with Sea Witch (Min Unit)
Blackbane’s Pirate Raiders (Min Unit)
Revenant Crew of the Atramenous (Min Unit)
Captain Rengrave

As he put it, he knew that most of that stuff was not the best options but he wanted to for a theme list, and it seemed to work quite well for him. He was also learning Vassal at the same time as playing against me, and I think he has it down fairly well at this point. He did get annoyed at me several times when I seemed hurried, but I was just excited and having fun. Happens to me sometimes I will admit.

Anyway, the game went badly for me. I had up to this point never faced Cryx (they and Cygnar are the only armies I have yet to face) and so I was not completely prepared for what he could pull off. I also screwed up my deployment, and had a tough time getting everyone advanced. Suffice to say by the end of turn 3 I would say, possibly 4, he had gotten his Stalker up to EDoomie and ate him. Not alot I can do when I cannot transfer. Also eSkarre’s feat is freaking brutal and that alone screwed me up. Basically with his feat he got Deathjack into Melee with the Mauler and Mulg, and they could not go anywhere without suffering a freestrike. Which still would not have saved me because I would not have been able to harm Skarre that turn anyway. I also foolishly moved my Axer away from the Stalker towards Skarre trying to threaten her. I should have gone after the blasted Stalker.

In the end though we had a blast, and I look forward to facing Mike again in the future, either in person or on Vassal.

Things I learned:

1. The list I was running is really a one trick pony. The way I built it and was trying to run it was a Mulg Delivery system. If I cannot get that trample/charge off with my feat (which thanks to his feat I could not) I am gonna be in a world of trouble. I want to try it again though against a different list and see how it works.

2. I don’t think I needed that Mauler. The Rage animus is nice, but Mulg doesn’t really need it. I should have grabbed another light, maybe a Winter or Impaler. Either one would have helped me. Also considering I cannot stack Rage and Rush there really is no point to the Mauler with Mulg around. Unless I want to Rage a solo for free like the Fell Caller.

3. The Kriel Warriors did exactly what they were supposed to do, which was cause trouble. 10 medium based models that can reach MAT 9 PS 12 with a Fell Caller / Prayer are rough.

4. My Runeshapers did not do a whole lot because I could not kill the Quartermaster for the pirate unit, thus letting all the pirates I killed come back. I need to learn to use them more effectively. Ah well, practice does make perfect.

5. The boost to STR for Mulg makes Primal Shock even more effective. In fact, I cannot see a reason to NOT run Mulg and eDoomie together for sure. If you use eDoomshaper, use Mulg as a beast. Its just smart. And use EITHER Refuge or Wild Aggression on him. Either one will let you get some shenanigans off.

6. I wanted the UA and WA for the Warriors. I wish I could have had at least 1 Caber Tosser for more power, and the UA for Anti Knockdown / bigger CMD area. If I had switched the Mauler to a light I could have had the points, possibly.

Now, in regards to my next match against Gday and his filthy elves I am thinking of switching it up and trying out a new improved Madrak list. This is what I am thinking:

pMadrak
– Axer
– Mauler
Kriel Warriors Full Unit
– Standard and Piper
– 2 Caber Tossers
KSB Min Unit
– SSE
Chronicler
Champions Min Unit
Fell Caller

35 points on the nose baby.

Basic Idea: Standard Brick, but with the KSB being able to run it will advance a bit faster. I will use the Champs as a flanking unit, keeping them free to cause trouble. I will want to deploy and go second with this list I think, so I can place my Champs where they will cause the most trouble. I am considering switching out to Runeshapers as they are AOE spammers, but not nearly as tough as the Champs.

Conversely if I go first I can place my champs where I want the enemy to focus, and then just run them out of the area. With the 2 Caber Tossers, I am looking at PS13 base, +2 for the Prayer, and then I can put rage on em to get PS18 with a 3in Line. If I really get lucky I might catch em in the KSB Aura and thus get another point of STR, for PS19. That is something that no one can really ignore at that point. With a Fell Caller and the prayer they are MAT9, and then if I cast Carnage it gets to MAT11. And lets not forget CMA for the regular warriors, which I completely missed during my game with Mike.

Once I get into Combat I need to make sure I can cast Carnage almost every turn until I get down to the nitty gritty, to give my Warriors the best chance they got. With them being steady from the UA, and ARM 17 from the KSB it will be hard to kill them. And then I can use the Chronicler to give em Concealment during the advance so they are DEF 14 vs Ranged/Magic and ARM 17. That’s a hard wall to crack given its size.

The Mauler and Axer are there for transfers, fury, and their Animus mostly. If needed however I can get them into the fight and they will tear things apart given their relative strength.

Overall I have been having blast. I also got a chance to talk to Alex from Khador Red and get our plans going for our Vassal game. He is a really nice guy! So for those of you who have not contacted me yet get on it!

AIM / Email – bluedragonlord23@gmail.com
Skype – claytonblanchard

I cannot wait to hear from ya. Hopefully if this pans out I can start getting some of you playing against each other and not just me and then bam we got a global Vassal Community on top of our regular community! Well maybe not that big but I can dream….can’t I?