Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Memoir '44 - game session and thoughts on the system

Last night my friend Joel came over and we pulled out Memoir '44, which I haven't played in a few years. Joel is a history buff and world war two is of particular interest to him. So, I figured he would enjoy it.
We played Pegasus Bridge and Sword Beach; two scenarios that come with the core game. It was an absolute blast.

Having delved deeply into complex miniature wargames, it was refreshing to play something that is streamlined and elegant. Memoir '44 uses a card mechanic to issue orders to your troops, which beautifully forces the players to choose the best orders each turn. There is little to overthink when you are limited like 2- 6 orders to choose from. Most miniature wargames involve moving your entire force on your turn, which can really slow the game down when you have a high model count and activation order is critical.  I also enjoy the tension that is created in asymmetrical scenarios. Both battles we played, the allies outnumbered the axis almost 2:1, but those fewer axis troops had fortified positions. This tension is rare in Warmachine and other point based miniature wargames.
It was great to crack open the game that got me into the hobby!  I look forward to playing some more!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Battle Report: Constance VS Durgen 35pts

Jer and I Got together for an impromptu game at his place, on his new desert/shore table.  We had no idea what we would be running, and trying out the new Steam Roller scenario deck Jer had printed, we ended up playing the Close Quarters Scenario, and added the Artifice Reinforcements to make it interesting.

Close Quarters has 2 - 8" zones, VP's scored by controlling your opponent's zone.  The centers of the zones are marked with tokens, and we were allowed to measure the zone at any time.

My Cygnar looked like this:

Constance Blaize -6pts
- Ol'Rowdy 9pts
- Gallant 9pts

Gunmages 6pts
Gunmage Officer 2pts
- Hunter 6pts
Min Stormguard 6pts
Harlan Versh 2pts (my own sculpt proxied)
Stormsmith Stormcaller 1 pt (Stormsmith grunt proxied)

Arlan Strangeways 2pts
-Defender 9pts

Jer's Highborn Mercs:

Durgen Madhammer -6pts
Driller 6pts
Driller 6pts
Reinholt 1pt

Ayana and Holt 4pts
Gorman Di Wulfe 2pts
Dugal McNaille 2pts
Steinhammer 2 pts
- Avalancher 9pts
full Ogrun Assault Corps 9pts

Blaster 3pts
Ogrun Bokur 3pts
Highshield Gun Corps 5pts

Jeremy won the roll off and chose to go second.  With reinforcements we were stuck with flank deployment, but that suited me fine to have everyone pretty close together, near the middle, and with ample forest to hide in.

Jer deployed his OAC to get them onto the hill, and the rest of his list would move like a brick in the middle, facilitating Durgen's punishing ability to lay down blast templates with arcing fire.

Cygnar Turn 1:
Constance moved her army up, casting transference in case she'd need it later.  Rowdy and pretty much everything ran, not worrying so much about getting into zones as threatening anything that would make it in range since Jer would have to move up quickly to keep me out of his zone.

Mercs Turn 1:
Most of Jer's mercs ran, though the Avalancher and Durgen both opted to lob a bunch of AOEs in hopes of good deviations nothing landed with any effect at that range.  A redlined Driller ran up the table giving Harlan something to shoot at.

Cygnar Turn 2:
Intending to pop my feat, I tried to jam in as many friendly faction models into Constance's control range, just ready to be blasted by the several AOE's I was expecting to come my way.   Rowdy puts grudge on himself and positions for a counter charge, just before I run a bunch of Stormguard in front of him... woops.  Gallant positions to soak up any direct hits on the Gun Mage officer, with shieldguard, who is jackmarshalling the Hunter.  The Stormsmith stays deep enough in the forest waiting to disrupt anything that moves into range. Harlan managed to put 4 damage on the Driller, loving purgation, but did less than anticipated.  A decent shot from the Hunter added some more damage to it but fails to take out any systems.

Mercs Turn 2:
Jer made a silly move here, and he admitted it immediately.  After the OAC shoots the Stormguard up, Holt shoots down a gunmage and the Avalancher deviates off of Rowdy to land perfectly on Harlan.  Then, without thinking, he charged the redlined Driller into a Stormguard.  Now since the other Stormguard were cleared out of the way, Rowdy gets the counter charge in and rolls stupid high, disabling one of the Driller's arms.  He kills the Stormguard, then in an effort to make it better than for nothing, he took a swipe at Rowdy, doing a little damage to the armour.  Rowdy's grudge then let him hit back, wrecking the Driller.

Cygnar Turn 3:
Constance's feat provided 6 extra focus this round, and it was this turn that I decided to bring in my reinforcements.  Until then, I just couldn't have outshot Jer's list, and needed desperately to get into melee.  Fortunately for me, Jer didn't put up inhospitable ground - the bane of this list is lack of pathfinder.  So Crusaders Call, 3 focus to each heavy, and for some reason I kept up transference.  The Gunmages CRA'd to kill Holt, hoping for better rolls on the blast against Ayana and Gorman.  Then Gallant charged Gorman, killing him easily and getting a couple of hits on the Driller, for... well very little damage.  Then Rowdy came in hard, and took several swings at the driller, also doing very little damage.  I'm not complaining, as I said at the time, I was keeping track.  9 ones rolled in those attacks from 2 jacks charging in.  In the end, one of the Driller's arms is disabled, can't remember which one, and disabling the cortex.

The Stormguard charge in, and kill an OAC, and the Defender that came on with Arlan killed another.  The Stormsmith disrupted his Jackmarshalled Avalancher... yah duh.

Mercs Turn 3:
This was an interesting turn.  Jer put it this way, "This is for fun, just 'cause I can do it..."  He backed off Ayana, forgetting to put the kiss on one of the jacks, then went to town on Gallant with Durgen with his feat.  Backblast probably did more damage than the direct swing, and he took off Gallant's Left arm, but couldn't finish him off AND do Ground Zero.  So that pushed Gallant back and did a little more damage.  Jer has always wanted to find a reason to do ground zero.  The Avalancher then tried for an assassination on Constance with a tune-up from Steinhammer.  I was a little exposed to the feat, with 2 focus camped from her feat, but he couldn't finish her off.  OAC was tied up with Stormguard that just wouldn't die to below average rolls, and the reinforcements came on to cream a bunch of my Gunmages.

Cygnar Turn 4:
This was the end, we both knew it.  Constance gave some focus to Rowdy, and 1 to Gallant.  The Defender plastered Dougal, and Gallant activated with another focus due to Constance's proximity.  He slammed the Driller over top of Durgen, and Rowdy strolled over to finish off the Madhammer.

Closing Comments:
I think the mistake early on that lost him his driller set Jer's whole strategy off.  There was a point where I opened up my lines where he could have run someone in to grab a victory point.  I think it would have messed my game up pretty badly, but Jer felt it wouldn't have saved the game, and in this case made more sense for him to have put his efforts into inflicting as much damage as possible.

Here are the Casualties:
Yes, one of the Ogruns lost his arms in a tragic fall.  On the plus side, he could stand at the edge of the hill without falling :)

Post Game Thoughts:
Josh: We both learned a little more about reinforcements, and we hadn't played Close Quarters before either.  I think that Jeremy's list was a better build, that would be more versatile, and had a lot of tricks that Jer just hadn't played out.  A little more practice and I think his list would have proven to be a bad matchup for mine.  My list had a pretty big weakness against restricting terrain without pathfinder, in the past Durgen has owned Constance in almost every game with inhospitable ground, and I think I got lucky to win this one.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Photographing Minis - Part 2: The Environmental Shot

Unlike photographing a mini to show the painting technique, colour selection, or even the details of the model, when doing an environmental shot the objective is to portray something about the model through their environment or story.  We will be using a couple of case studies to illustrate key points of this process.

As a preliminary disclosure, this is using "hot lights" for these case studies.  That means there are no flashes, and all shots were taken with a tripod at iso 400, f8-f11, shutter speeds were around 1/13th of a second.  The lights I use are inexpensive LED panels that provide more flexibility, but desk lamps or household lights can easily accomplish the same effect.

To begin, you need to start with either a model, or the environment, or set, that you can provide.  For instance, if you have no swampy terrain, then you probably shouldn't start with a Swamp Terror or Gators.  If you have lots of terrain, then you can pick a model first and compose the set around it.

Case Study 1:
In this case I really like the pose of Watts from the Black 13th, and can imagine him skulking around at night to accomplish some black op in Llael.

With Watts selected, I can then start building a set that portrays it being an alley in Llael, at night, in the Iron Kingdoms.

The Alley (Fig 1):
An Alley is pretty much 2 buildings close together.  So I got 2 buildings, and angled them so I couldn't see down the alley since I don't want to deal with a background in this shot.  I added a couple of crates to make it look industrial.

At Night:
There's one very distinct aspect of light at night - There is no sun.  With that in mind, the moon is usually low on the horizon at dusk, giving us a low angle of light.  Also, since it's night, I can have more sources of light come from artificial sources, like houses or street lamps.  This opens up rim lights as a possibility, and high angled key lights from above.  Now I know not everyone has boom lighting stands, so consider using a desk lamp - the kind with springs and a clamp that allows you to get over top of the model - or something similar.

Lighting (Fig 2):
Remembering what we referred to as a "Key" light in Part 1, your key light will usually be less than 90 degrees from the angle of the camera.  Our lights that we placed behind the model, (>90 degrees), are called rim lights, since they will add contrast and highlight the edges of the model.  Lastly we will adjust the whitebalance in the camera to be subtly blueish, and lower the saturation a little to simulate the night time conditions.

Now that we have an alley, I decided to pop in a small unit of Stormsmiths just for fun with their cobblestone bases.

Case Study 2:
For this case study, I wanted to give Watts more of an epic pose with his jacket blowing in the wind.  For this shot, we're going to see more principles for set staging.

Your set, will always contain 3 things: a Subject, a Staging area and a Background.

The Subject:
In this case, it's Watts.  Looking dramatic and windblown, with his coat drawn back to bull his magelock pistol.  Where's the wind coming from?

The Staging Area:
The Wind could be shown in an environment of windblown stuff flying through the air.  I'm a little inclined to make it less catastrophic and more epic, so let's put him up high where he's exposed to the wind, like on top of a tower.  So now we have a model, on top of a tower.  How high is the tower?

The Background:
To show the height of the tower, we have to think of what's behind it, and the angle of the camera.  Positioning the camera a little lower than the eyeline of the model, will give it the right perspective.  Now what's behind the tower should be skyline.  You can create a skyline with black bristol board cut to resemble a city skyline, or many other ways.  I have a couple of buildings, so I placed them far enough away to be out of focus, and a piece of blue fabric (bristol board would do in a pinch) to create the sky.

Now the tower doesn't look very high yet, since the buildings are about the same height, so let's put it a little higher by bumping the tower up on a box.

That's better, epic stormy sky, with a skyline.

Now, since you've got your layers in place, you can switch out the stage, the background or the model to create new moods and environments.

Troubleshooting tips:

If you involve more than one model, remember to consider the focal plane when arranging your models.  With Nemo and the Thunderhead for example, I want their faces to be in line, perpendicular to the camera's angle.  This line is where the depth of field (depth of area in focus) starts, stops or it is somewhere in the middle.  If your models are not aligned to this line, then you will have one in focus, while the other is soft.

If you're having trouble seeing your background, remember that lighting is all about balance and quality, not quantity.  I have a background light setup behind a building in these shots, or off to the side that brings up the backgrounds.  To see the balance more clearly, turn off the room lights, and switch on and off the lights you're using to see what each one is doing.

If you end up trying some shots, feel free to post them below.  If you have any questions, Shoot me a message and I can help troubleshoot your shots.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Warmachine Weekend Feed

The guys at Team Covenant have given a steady stream of live content from the Warmachine Weekend event.  Check out the Galleon introduction with PPS David Carl, and Check out more of their stuff on their Facebook feed here and their Twitter feed here.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Galleon Spotted at Warmachine Weekend!

Found this on the forum today.

This model just looks so good.

And... Here's the frontpage stuff!
I love the circular stuff on PP's site so be sure to check out: this