Rise of the Rot

Once again, I’m flirting with that diabolical corporation and peddler of plastic soldiers, Games Workshop. I keep trying to get away, but their hooks are in too deep. First it was Deathwatch Overkill that dragged me back in, and then there’s the awesome dungeon-crawling sweetness that is Silver Tower… they’re geniuses.

So, a whole year ago, I was pretty excited about Age of Sigmar. Why wouldn’t I be? A fresh new take on the stagnant Fantasy universe, with gorgeous new models and free (!!) rules. A lot of the initial venom about AoS has diluted, and more and more people seem to be coming round to it. I’m all on board; I want a fun, casual tabletop game where I can field whatever I want. The lack of a points system is a stumbling block for some people, but the more and more I’ve thought about it, the less it matters to me. I’m only going to be playing Age of Sigmar with a few friends, and none of us are total dickbags, so things will be pretty relaxed and civil.

Darryl picked up the starter set last year, and we’ve managed to squeeze in a few games between all the RPing. But I wanted some of my own models, and I’d always liked the look of the Blightkings set…

I mean, how could you not?
I mean, how could you not?

Needless to say, I picked up a box after a particularly good day at work as a little treat to myself, and before I knew it I had assembled and painted them all. Then I was getting some Spawn and a Lord of Plagues, and next thing I’m doing is browbeating Ian into getting some of the sextacular new Ironjaw Orruks.

I’ve always been a Chaos player at heart. Sure, I’ve dabbled with other factions; Blood Ravens and Orks in 40k, but my soul’s always belonged to the Dark Gods. In my heyday, I’ve run Tzeentch Mortals (5th ed Fantasy), Word Bearers (3rd and 3.5 edition 40k) and Death Guard (5th edition 40k). Khorne and Slaanesh have never really done anything for me; give me decay and mind-bullets any day! It helps as well that Nurgle and Tzeentch play up to my preferred play styles; I love the relentless footslogging hordes of Nurgle, and the onslaught of magic/psychic powers and general Lovecraftian gribbliness of Tzeentch.

So, naturally, when I pick up Silver Tower, that’ll be my Tzeentch dudes taken care of. For now however, let me show off what I’ve painted so far, to start the grand carnival of rot in the Eight Realms…

Disclaimer! I’m a fast painter, not a good painter. I like to get something to a tabletop standard, which usually involves flat colours and a heavy black wash. I’m happy with the results, and who cares anyway? I’m not trying to win any contests.

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Coathanger-Head, my Lord of Plagues. I gave him a spare Blightking head instead of the one he came with. Yes, I realise his antlers will get caught up in his shoulder spikes, but no-one said you had to make sensible fashion decisions to become a Chaos lord.

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My Burger Blightking champion. I sort of love/am repulsed by that one of his arms is basically just a bloated cancerous lump.

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Old Sieve-Face, the first Blightking I painted. You couldn’t ask for a simpler recipe; Bugman’s Glow skin, Ushabti Bone armour, DRENCH the whole thing in watered-down Mournfang Brown to make it grungy and shit-stained, then details in Waagh! Flesh and Tamiya Chrome and Gold Leaf (I don’t use GW metallics, I find them far too watery), and Nuln Oil. Takes about an hour, start to finish.

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The standard bearer. I love the hooded/chain-veil/antler head. The Blightking set is amazing, but it presents some real Sophie’s Choices for modelling; standard bearer or massive scythe? Big honking bell, or big honking axe?

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And here’s the whole gang of them. I’m sort of not 100% happy with the guy on the far right, I love the very Nurglesque-single-horn helmet, but his pose with two swords is a bit off. Eh. Frigging love the guy with the bell; he’s essentially a fat naked man with only a dirty apron to protect the world from the sight of his turgid leprous cock.

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I put some Spawn together as well. That’s a damn fun kit to mess around with. I feel like there’s probably a bit more I can do with these guys, but it might be because they’re primarily flesh-coloured and look weird next to the mostly-armoured bone-coloured Blightkings and Lord. The nice thing about the Spawn is that I could use them as Spawn, or possibly proxy them as Beasts of Nurgle.

Anyway, the next thing on my shopping list is the “Getting Started” box of Nurgle Daemons; that’ll boost my fledgling force with some Plaguebearers, Plague Drones, Nurglings and a Herald for a very respectable price. Geez, there I go again, saying that a GW product is good value for money… after that box though, I think I’ll be done with the Nurgle stuff as I’ll have a fairly solid chunk of stuff, more that enough to square up against Stormcasts, Bloodbound, and whatever Ian’s planning…

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Yep, not content with smashing gits in the grimdark far future, the Locorksts have invaded Age of Sigmar! Ian picked up a load of Black Orcs – or ‘Ardboyz as they’re now known – on eBay for cheap, and we have a game scheduled for this Saturday, so we’ll see how my stinky Nurgle dudes hold up to some full-on orruk aggression!

 

Gareth

D&D Sixguns & Sinners: BULLET 12 – CEREMONY, Part 2

So.

Demon. Hellfire. Church. Attempted assassination of an Army officer on his wedding day which is actually a ritual for a devil-worshipping crime syndicate. 

Hm.

Morgan transforms into a towering demonic monster, and belches fire everywhere. I have the guys roll to resist fear, and Jeb and Magnus get a damp feeling in their britches. The soldiers aren’t much better off. Mr. Sable scampers off to leave the group to deal with the proverbial shitstorm.

DemonMorgan thrashes about and kills the remaining Redbrand bandits. He then belches fire everywhere, unintentionally igniting the dynamite that the guys had set in the pillars. There’s a series of explosions, which stuns the demon.

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“Guys, if you haven’t worked it out, this is your chance to run like buggery.”

 

They escape the church – though Jeb takes the opportunity to snatch up Dies Irae, Morgan’s discarded master-crafted volcano gun –  the soldiers dragging the wounded Colonel Jefferson. Outside, things seem just as bad. A bunch of Quiet Brother agents have gone all Hydra, and revealed themselves among the crowd and start attacking people indiscriminately, causing all kinds of mayhem. John immediately starts taking pot-shots, gunning down the Quiet Brothers.

They get a safe distance away from the church, and an army surgeon starts attending to Jefferson, who is less than pleased with John.

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“Well well, Captain god-damned Dwyte. I knew you’d come crawling back and take a shot at me. I suppose this devilry is your doing! You dishonorable coward!”

John seems about ready to knock out Jefferson’s teeth, so Magnus and Jeb haul him to one side and explain the situation to Jefferson while John vents his aggression on any Quiet Brothers who make the monumentally terrible decision to get within sixty feet of him.

They hit on a plan to track down Mr. Sable, who clearly seems to be the ringleader of the whole situation. What they’ll do when they find him is up in the air, but it’ll probably involve rolling for damage. Jefferson seems to think that they’re the city’s best hope, and despite his personal feelings on John, he gives him a squad of soldiers as back-up.

The group heads round to the back of the cathedral just as DemonMorgan bursts out the front and starts taking rifle fire from the soldiers. DemonMorgan has gained some friends since they last saw him, and a flock of gargoyle-like demons fly out and add to the chaos. Jeb, the Dwytes and the soldiers fight off a few of them, and end up finding Gabriel Forrester cowering. Apparently, he saw Mr. Sable running away, and heard him mention to his flunkeys about heading “back to the Imperial.”

The Imperial is the Aurelia Imperial, the fanciest hotel in the city, down by the waterfront. The group make their way there, fighting off more Quiet Brother goons and gargoyles on the way. They then storm the hotel, losing some of the soldiers in gruelling room-to-room combat. They head up, figuring that Mr. Sable will be the swankiest penthouse suite. They’re not wrong, but before they can get to Mr. Sable, they have to fight through his personal bodyguard of knife-happy supermodels, which gave me an excuse to re-use the stat-block of Jenny the Razor; it was fun to see them tear through three of these enemies, when not too long ago just the one gave them trouble.

With the bodyguards dead, they burst into Mr. Sable’s private rooms. He’s standing there by the window, all sinister and Bond-villain-esque, watching the city burn.

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“I’m very disappointed in you Dwytes, letting yourselves be led astray so easily by this charlatan priest. You’ve drunken deep from his fountain of lies, blind to the path that he leads you down, just like your parents! You may think that I and my brothers are monsters, but we are nothing compared to him and his god! Whereas we would make this world better, he would see it destroyed completely!”

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“What’s he talkin’ about, Jeb?”

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“He’s just crazy, son. And I’m about done lissenin’ to a crazy person.”

So, yay, BBEG fight! John wades in straight away with his dual guns, but Mr. Sable has all kind of dark magic up his sleeve. He curses Magnus, blasts Jeb with invisible, lacerating force, and sets John on fire. He also has a basic “infernal touch” attack that does a ton of fire damage. He gets his hands on Magnus, and Trev was forced to burn his Destiny point to cheat death; however, as a compromise, we agreed that Nate, Magnus’ trusty pet ferret, sacrificed himself by going for Mr. Sable’s face, distracting him for a moment before he was immolated. Then Mr. Sable went for John, and then it was Darryl’s turn to cheat death, allowing himself to be thrown across the room.

While all this was happening, Jeb had taken cover in the bedroom and was taking shots with his new volcano gun. With the Dwyte brothers badly hurt, Mr. Sable turned his attention to Jeb.

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“It ends here, priest!”

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“It sure does.”

Jeb throws the ceremonial dagger to Magnus, who grabs it and stabs Mr. Sable in the back. The wound blazes with the same weird silver-green fire that had consumed Jenny and Locke when they’d been cut by the dagger. By now, Mr. Sable is seriously hurt, and makes his escape by leaping from the window and invoking his emergency escape spell, a pair of shadowy demonic wings that will let him fly away. But John takes aim, and finishes Mr. Sable, with a critical hit no less.

The Quiet Brother leader plummets to the ground, dead. The Dwytes and Jeb heal their wounds, and look out over the city; Mr. Sable may be dead, but there’s still plenty of hero-work to be done.

We wrap things up narratively; the group hook up with the remnants of the army and spend the next few days clearing out the remaining Quiet Brother henchment and summoned demons. Afterwards, the governor calls them to his office, and in recognition of their efforts, grants them a huge cash reward. He also pledges to help the Dwytes rebuild their family home in River’s End, and, although Jefferson is not exactly thrilled, he reinstates John back into the army.

Jeb has an odd request; he wants to go back to see the aelfar clans, and act as a diplomatic liaison between them and the humans. The governor sees the wisdom in this, and says that Jeb will be the leader of a group of ambassadors whose mission will be to ensure that human and aelfar can live in harmony and learn from each other, blah blah blah.

Jeb says his goodbyes and heads west to the aelfar lands, but promises to return and visit when he can. John and Magnus return to River’s End. Before he leaves the city, John finally lets Mildred go, and gives her his blessings, hoping that she has a happy life with Jefferson. Ah, the feels.

We timeskip a few months; work is progressing well on rebuilding the Dwyte family home, and John is home during a break in his life as a newly-reinstated military officer. There’s been no news of the Quiet Brothers, and the Red Brand gang are now non-existent with the death of Morgan. Things finally seem to be going the brothers’ way.

And then Jeb rides into town, with a worrying look on his face.

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“I think you boys better come with me.”

To be concluded…

 

Gareth

D&D Sixguns & Sinners: BULLETS 12 – CEREMONY, Part 1

Okay, it’s been quite some time since our last foray into the Territories for an update on my group’s Wild West D&D campaign. Last time, I gave a brief summary of our last few sessions, but as we approach the finale, something a little more in-depth is required, and I finally have time away from other secret-squirrel projects to do this long overdue write up!

In Attendance: John Dwyte (Darryl), Magnus Dwyte (Trev), Father Jeb Underwood (Joe).

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An’ naturally, I’ll be servin’ as the Lawman.

Our heroes found themselves in the local jail after their ruckus at The Velvet Birdcage, along with Morgan. The sheriff is in the pocket of the Quiet Brothers, so Morgan is released after only an hour so that he can continue to do the muscle work for those darn demon-worshippers. It looks like the Dwytes and Jeb would miss their chance to interrupt the demonic ritual that the Quiet Brothers are planning to enact! Jeb tells them not to worry.

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“The Lord will provide boys. Now get some shut-eye.”

The next morning, they wake to hear a commotion out in the front of the sheriff’s station. They recognise the voice of Gabriel Forrester, who they helped (kind of) waaaay back when. Gabriel storms in with the sheriff, and demands that the Dwytes and Jeb be set free. The sheriff is reluctant, and makes some excuses that the three of them are all dangerous, armed outlaws (which, technically, is not a lie) and have to kept incarcerated, awaiting trial. But Gabriel’s not taking “no” for an answer, and he brought backup; Elsa deBouvier and the girls from The Velvet Birdcage all walk in, crowding around the increasingly-nervous sheriff.

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“Last chance, sheriff. Let the preacher and his friends go.”

The sheriff panics and tries to escape, but the burlesque girls mob him, drag him to the ground, and viciously knife him. Gabe grabs the keys and lets the Dwytes and Jeb out, and everyone awkwardly avoids making eye contact. Elsa hands Jeb back the ceremonial knife where he’d left it in the burlesque house. She and the girls have all got blank stares and tell him that the “moment of destiny” is upon them.  Hmm.

The gang get their gear back and head for the church, stopping on the way to acquire as much dynamite as they can afford. The wedding hasn’t started yet, but the procession route is packed with crowds and decorations. Obviously they can’t go in through the front door of the church, so they sneak round the back. Inside, the place is suspiciously empty. They take the dynamite and start setting it up on pillars, the idea being to bring the whole place down on top of the Quiet Brothers.

But who should walk in when they’re in the middle of their act of sabotage? Morgan, of course, with some more of his Red Brand goons.

“I knew you couldn’t stay away! Well I’ve had it with the three of you! We’re ending this, now!”

They have a gunfight in the church, but it doesn’t last long; soldiers rush in from outside at the sound of gunfire, followed by a senior military officer in full ceremonial garb; Colonel Robert Lee Thaddeus Jefferson, John’s old rival from his army days!

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“What the hell is going on here!?”

For the second time in 24 hours, the Dwytes and Jeb find themselves at gunpoint. John however is hidden away, and Jefferson doesn’t see him. Although John now knows that it wasn’t Jefferson who burned down the family home, he still arranged it so that John was dishonorably discharged from the army, and effectively ruined his life. And for Jefferson to be here, today, in formal dress uniform… he’s Mildred’s new husband-to-be! John takes aim from cover…

Magnus and Jeb are trying to talk down the soldiers when at that moment, the Butler – who by now everyone knows is a Quiet Brother – strolls in from off-scene. Magnus and Jeb can’t do anything as they’re under guard by the soldiers, and John is too fixated on Jefferson.

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“Is everything quite alright, Colonel?”

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“Everything’s fine, Mr. Sable. Please, leave this to my soldiers and I. We’ll sort out this mess, and then we can proceed.”

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“I couldn’t agree more.”

Three things happen then. Mildred, in her wedding dress, comes in to ask what’s happening. John shoots Jefferson, hitting him in the chest and knocking him down. And Mr. Sable, the “butler”, whips out a knife, utters some demonic words, and stabs Morgan in the chest.

“Wha-!?”

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“The blood of an Apostle who has turned from the Lord’s light. You were always just a tool, Morgan. But your sacrifice will mark the beginning of a new age.”

Morgan staggers back and starts to change, as some infernal force takes over his body, warping and transforming it until eventually a huge demon stands in his place, its body burning with hellfire…

To be continued…

 

Gareth

D&D Sixguns & Sinners: QUICK SHOTS

It’s been a while since I provided an update for our Wierd West D&D game; like Christmas, the Easter holidays are usually fairly hectic so it’s been tough to get everyone together. We managed to get two quick sessions in though, which is better than nothing!

I figured a quick rundown of key events of the last few sessions would be better than a full write-up (which, to be honest, I’m finding more and more of a chore to do), so here we go…

So, when we left the group, they were busy facing down a filth demon in the streets of Tributary Falls, summoned by the Quiet Brother Amadeus Locke.

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  • The fight against the demon was tough; it resisted mortal weapons, regenerated its wounds, and had toxic claws. But the fight could’ve been a lot tougher; I totally forgot that Jeb had a couple of vials of holy water, which he used to anoint John’s cavalry sabre. John got a couple of good hits in and destroyed the creature, though he fell victim to the filth demon’s diseased touch (he got better).
  • Magnus wanted to keep Amadeus Locke alive for questioning, but Jeb killed the Quiet Brother with the ceremonial knife. Instead, they took Magnus’s friend Jace and after some friendly interrogation, he sold out his employers and told Jeb and the Dwytes about the Quiet Brother’s plans.
  • Apparently the QBs were planning some kind of ritual or attack in New Varn, the capital. It was going to be during a big wedding, which was going to be attended by all manner of government and military bigwigs. Beyond that, Jace didn’t have any other information; all he knows that the QBs are getting genuinely worried about the constant intervention from the Dwytes and Jeb.
  • The group “appropriated” Locke’s stagecoach and traveled in style to New Varn. Along the way, Jace had a few quiet words with John. He hasn’t seen fit to share what was discussed with his companions.
  • Upon arriving in New Varn, Jace left them and Jeb took them to a burlesque house called The Velvet Birdcage to relax before the imminent violence of the next few days. He’s old friends with the madam, Elsa Debouvier, and while the Dwytes are entertained, Jeb has a private conversation with Elsa.
  • The evening is going fine, when who should walk in but Morgan the Branded, leader of the Red Brand gang! Last time the group tangled with him, it ended badly for him, and along with all his men that they’ve killed, he’s wouldn’t be too happy to see them.
  • The three of them hid from Morgan and attempted various ways of assassinating him. None went according to plan, so the whole thing devolved into a shoot-out. Morgan put some serious holes in them with his volcano gun and Apostle powers, but three on one is still three on one, and they chipped him down. Jeb attempted to throw the ceremonial knife at him, but missed.
  • Morgan ran from the burlesque house and the group gave chase out into the streets… and right into a gang of militia, lawmen, and the mysterious butler! They were taken into custody along with Morgan.

The Reaper’s Tally: 2 witches, 5 train robbers, 20 Red Brand gang members, 1 guard dog, Silas Thorn, Jenny the Razor, 4 Fihanna-Fimh warriors, Stone Bear, 6 Biel-Tan warriors, Bernie Dutch, 2 Quiet Brother henchmen, 1 horse, 1 filth demon, Amadeus Locke.

Will they escape jail in time to stop the Quiet Brother’s demonic ritual? Well, hopefully we’ll find out soon…

Gareth

 

 

Deathwatch Recruits

So, I’ve been a bit obsessed with Deathwatch Overkill. How obsessed?

Well… I may have bought some more Space Marine kits and made some new Kill-Team members with some homebrew rules. The catalyst was when Ryan and I were looking through the character cards, and noticed that the Dark Angel character, Gydrael, is a bit… awful?… compared to his battle-brothers. In a game where the Deathwatch player doesn’t want his guys to die, what does Gydrael have as a special ability? One last mediocre attack before he dies! Because that’s just as good as Grytt’s frag cannon, Natorian’s psychic powers, and Redblade’s general ass-kicking abilities. Why don’t you love Dark Angels, GW?

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Re-rollable Jink and full BS Overwatch isn’t love, it’s chronic masturbation.

So I got to snipping, and now Strike Team Cassius has five new members.

Advance warning; these guys haven’t been playtested yet, so they may be a teeny bit over/underpowered. The fun will be trying to find the balance.

Let’s start off with Gydrael’s replacement, Zahan Ammael, a Dark Angels Apothecary. It seemed strange to me that the Kill Team didn’t have a medic, and although the Deathwatch Marines can all self-heal, sometimes they need a bit of help.

Speed 2, Armour 3+

Plasma Pistol – Assault Range (1 dice, 3+), Combat Range (1 dice, 3+), Maximum Range (-). Cleave.

NartheciumInstead of attacking during a Deathwatch Attack phase, Ammael can use his narthecium to heal a Wounded Deathwatch Marine within Assault Range. That Deathwatch Marine becomes Unwounded, just as if they’d made a Combat Recovery.

As Ammael fills in for Gydrael as a representative of the Dark Angels, Ademus Mordebrecht, the Black Templar Sword Brother, serves Gydrael’s role as a fearsome melee beatstick, good when leading the charge and holding the line. It helps that he looks like a badass old guy as well. I love that hand-on-holstered-sword piece from the Sternguard kit.

Speed 2, Armour 3+

Power Sword – Assault Range (3 dice, 3+), Combat Range (-), Maximum Range (-). Cleave, Rend.

Bolt Pistol (Kraken) – Assault Range (1 dice, 2+), Combat Range (1 dice, 3+), Maximum Range (-).

Bolt Pistol (Hellfire) – Assault Range (1 dice, 5+), Combat Range (1 dice, 5+), Maximum Range (-). Blast.

Combat ShieldEnemies attacking Mordebrecht at Assault Range have a -1 penalty on their attack rolls against him. If a model would normally need to roll 6 to hit, then they are unable to hit Mordebrecht at all. Mordebrecht is immune to Blast attacks.

IGNORE THE MOULD LINES. IGNORE THEM I SAY.

What can I say about Daxos Koriad? Well, he’s an Iron Snake with a big gun, and will generally be staying near the back, keeping his fellow Devastator Grytt company as he mows down hordes of Genestealers.

Speed 2, Armour 3+

Heavy Bolter – Assault Range (1 dice, 5+), Combat Range (3 dice, 3+), Maximum Range (3 dice, 3+). Rend.

Sustained FireIf Koriad doesn’t move during the Deathwatch Movement phase, he may attack twice with his heavy bolter at Combat and Maximum range in the first Deathwatch Attack phase.

Next up is the Storm Wardens Sternguard Veteran Cormac Aehryn; no Deathwatch Kill Team is complete without an angry Scotsman with a big sword! I may – may – attempt a tartan pattern on the tabard when it comes to painting him. May.

Speed 2, Armour 3+

Storm Bolter (Kraken) and Sacrisan Claymore – Assault Range (3 dice, 3+), Combat Range (2 dice, 3+), Maximum Range (2 dice, 3+). Rend.

Storm Bolter (Hellfire) – Assault Range (1 dice, 4+), Combat Range (1 dice, 4+), Maximum Range (1 dice, 4+). Blast.

Thunderous Fury – When Aehryn is Wounded, he can re-roll failed attack rolls made at targets in Assault Range.

And last of all, we have the Blackshield known only as “Ophidius”.  I wanted a Marine who would appear more “special ops” than the others. He serves as a sniper and saboteur, disrupting his enemies with precision shots and all manner of clandestine tricks. Hmm, a highly skilled operative with a penchant for “dirty warfare”, and his origin unknown to his squad-brothers. How very mysterious and not at all sinister…

Speed 2, Armour 3+

Bolter (Kraken) and Combat Knife – Assault Range (2 dice, 3+), Combat Range (1 dice, 3+), Maximum Range (1 dice, 3+).

Bolter (Hellfire) – Assault Range (1 dice, 5+), Combat Range (1 dice, 5+), Maximum Range (1 dice, 5+). Blast.

Bolter (Stalker) – Assault Range (-), Combat Range (-), Maximum Range (2 dice, 2+). Cleave.

SabotageAt the start of the Deathwatch Movement phase, Ophidius may sabotage the Xenos player, delaying their reinforcements and disarming their traps. Look at the top three cards of the Xenos Deck; you may put any number of those cards on the bottom of the Xenos Deck, and the rest back on top in any order.

(Yes, not “Genestealer player” and “Broodmind deck”… let’s just say I have plans to give the Deathwatch something to fight instead of just Hybrid Cults all the time…)

And all together;

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The Knight, the Healer, the Champion, the Snake, and the Enigma.

Now I just need to paint them. Lucky for me they all wear black…

Gareth

Deathwatch: Overkill

We had a D&D session on Monday, but the session was cut short so I’ll be including the events in the next write-up, which means I finally get to talk about this sexy box of plastic.

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“KNOCK KNOCK XENOFUCKERS.”

Damn you GW. God damn you, God damn you, God damn you. It just wasn’t enough for me to pop in occasionally and pick up some odd Fantasy bits for Frostgrave, was it? You just had to release a big old fuck-off board game featuring the Deathwatch and a motherloving Genestealer Cult you sick bastard geniuses. What do you want next? You already got my money! What next!? My blood? My heart? MY FUCKING SOUL!?

Ahem.

Yeah, so. Deathwatch boardgame, with 11 sexy Space Marine sculpts, and the real selling point for nostalgic old grognards like me, a crapload of gloriously plastic Genestealer Hybrids. When I read the rumours online, I’ll admit, they got me hook, line and sinker. I started getting into Warhammer 40,000 during 2nd edition, and I remember reading about Genestealer Cults, with the hybrids and brood brothers and the sinister Magi and Big Papa ‘Stealer himself.

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There were limousines as well, because how else was the Patriarch going to get to prom?

Not gonna lie, if it had been Deathwatch vs. Orks or “normal” Tyranids, I would’ve passed. But man… a Genestealer Cult? I was sold.

Now, of course, we need to talk about the price. It’s £100. That’s a lot to drop on a boardgame. However! By GW’s standards – and I can’t believe I’m really saying this – it’s actually a pretty good deal. You get 50 models, all of which are the usual high standard we come to expect of GW, and the game itself; eight thick double-sided game boards, some dice (duh), character cards, and a deck of “Broodmind” cards.

Love that new game smell.
Deathwatch Marine sprues.
Genestealer Cult sprues.
The game boards.
Rules and scenario book, and the rogue’s gallery of characters.

So I spent most of Saturday and Sunday afternoon clipping and gluing. Normally I hate assembling models, but these guys all went together like a charm. If you follow me on Twitter (and if you don’t, maybe you should click that Follow button off to the right), you may have seen me posting pictures of the models over the weekend as I assembled them. Here’s a shot of the entire Deathwatch Kill Team;

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Cassius and the Amazing Genocidal Pub Crawl.

So, there’ll inevitably be some people who buy the box just for the models and never play the accompanying game. I can’t exactly blame them, but you know what? They are really missing out on a great gaming experience. I’m serious, the actual rules of Deathwatch: Overkill are really good, and makes me think of the ideal blend between Space Hulk and old gem Space Crusade.

I notice some similarities in the cover art…

The problem with Space Hulk is that it’s a total bitch of a game to set up; lots of long corridors that all need to be jigsaw fitted together… it takes ages. Overkill wins out in that it has the eight double sided tiles that just fit together depending on the mission layout; much faster. Each tile section is divided in several “zones”, which are large enought for several models to cohabit at once. In an interesting twist, movement is measured in zones, but combat ranges are still determined by way of a range ruler. At first I thought this approach was odd, but after playing a few games, I’ve really warmed to it and have to admit that it’s actually a pretty clever idea. Depending on the weapon you use, and the range you’re using it, you’ll roll a certain number of dice and try to get a certain roll on each; for example, Redblade’s boltgun, chainsword and knife rolls 3 dice at Assault range, each needing 3+ to score a hit, whereas at Combat and Maximum range, he rolls only 1 dice, needing 4+ to score a hit.

So, we have a classic Space Hulk style setup here; a small team of very elite, very killy Marines against an endless horde of disposable Genestealer Cult minions. There are nine missions, and in each one the Marines will be challenged as they are forced to complete various objectives; the Cult just have to try and kill a certain number of Marines. I was worried when reading the rules that things seemed very weighed in the favour of the Deathwatch Marines; they all have amazing weapons and armour and special abilities, get two attack phases per turn as opposed to the Genestealer Cult’s one, can instantly heal if they’re wounded… but I needn’t have worried. The Cult have a deck of Broodmind cards which is not only used to determine what reinforcements they summon, but can also be used for a variety of nasty tricks, such as summoning more guys, or buffing the the cultists, or hampering the Deathwatch; the cards really help to balance things out.

Ryan and I played the first two missions from the book last night. He took the Deathwatch and I took the Genestealer Cult.

In the first mission, the Deathwatch just have to kill 25 Genestealer Cultists before they lose two Marines. Seems simple enough. Ryan took Grytt, Sorrlock, Delassio, and Redblade (or, according to Ryan; Big Gun Man, Robot Face, Jumpytwat, and Space Viking), and the mission brief limited my Genestealer Cult to the weedy hybrids. There’s no specific limitations for the Deathwatch for each mission; the mission rules usually just set a number of how many you can take, not who. I really like how each Deathwatch Marine is an individual with their own special abilities and weapons; there’s shooty guys like Grytt and Donatus, choppy guys like Redblade and Setorax, and OMG WTF HOW DO KILL tanky guys like Branatar and Sorrlock. Picking the right mix of Marines is crucial for the mission!

Ryan managed to rack up a lot of kills with Grytt’s frag cannon, but my cultists began to make a comeback, gunning down Redblade…

And then dragging down Delassio! First game to the Broodmind! My opinion of my weak horde of cultists had been drastically changed. Yeah, my cultists need 5s or 6s to hit the Marines, and then they had their power armour to protect them, but I was bringing in guys faster than Ryan could kill them, and sheer weight of fire did the job.

On to the next mission, which was a bit more tactical; the Deathwatch had to disable a communications array. This time Ryan could bring in six guys, though he couldn’t use any of the Marines he’d used in the first mission. He picked Cassius, Donatus, Natorian, Branatar, Suberei, and Setorax (or if Ryan’s filthy lies are to believed, Casio Keyboard, Captain Shoot, The Notorious BIG, Tankman, Mr Zoom, and Birdyclaws). I laid my many, many Ambushes, and we were off again.

Things escalated pretty quickly; despite an early Fastball Special involving Suberei and Branatar, I managed to clog the board with hybrids while scaring Ryan shitless with two wandering Purestrain ‘Stealers. Setorax met an undignified end at the claws of a hybrid gang, Donatus got taken down by a hail of autogun fire (after I played a Broodmind card that let all my guys on a tile section of my choice attack twice), and Natorian was exploded by the combined assault of a mining laser and a psychic blast from the Genestealer Magus. Another win for the Cult!

In later missions, the Deathwatch can field more guys, but in response the Cult can summon more reinforcements each turn, and eventually bring out Papa ‘Stealer himself…

Who adheres to the time-honoured Broodlord tradition of “crouching on a thing and pointing at you.”

I can’t wait to play through all the missions; maybe I’ll have to convince/bribe Emma… I’m also trying to think of ways I can combine the models and gameplay with the map and awesome 3D terrain from Mantic’s Deadzone… and then I need to paint them all, and… gah.

Credit where’s credit’s due, Games Workshop; you gone done good, and got me to drop a hefty chunk of money on your stuff. Guess we know where the Genestealers got their hypnotic powers from.

 

Gareth

D&D Sixguns & Sinners: BULLET 11 – CHASE

Last time, the group found out that their target, the Quiet Brother who had somehow influenced the aelfar clans into infighting, was at the local saloon, the Water Bucket. He wasn’t alone either; apparently Bernie “Dutchie” Dutch, the local Red Brand gang leader was with him. Obviously the guys didn’t want to just roll in through the front door; they’d seen how big Dutchie was, and there was no telling what Mr. Locke had up his sleeve…

In Attendance: John Dwyte (Darryl), Magnus Dwyte (Trev), Father Jeb Underwood (Joe).

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An’ naturally, I’ll be servin’ as the Lawman.

The guys approached the saloon and scoped it out from outside, not noticing anything suspicious; they did however see that there were lights on in some of the guest rooms on the second floor. They went round the back, out of sight of the main street, and managed to clamber up onto the veranda. They weren’t entirely quiet, but thankfully they didn’t draw any unwanted attention.

They went inside, and saw two Red Brands waiting outside one of the room doors, looking worried. Jeb snuck out and went to listen at the window of the room, and heard Mr. Locke and Dutchie talking; the Quiet Brother wasn’t happy that the aelfar prisoner had escaped, and Dutchie, a big no-nonsense brick shithouse of a man, was getting a stern telling-off and mumbling sheepish apologies.

Jeb went back round to where John and Magnus were hiding.

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“He’s in that room, him and the big fella.”

Time for a sneak attack! Jeb holy weaponed his revolver, handed Magnus a hellfire bomb, and he and John went back onto the veranda; John waited by the window, and Jeb jimmied open the window to the empty neighbouring room and crawled in, shotgun ready. Satisfied everything was ready, Magnus hurled the hellfire bomb at the door, setting fire to it and splashing the two waiting Red Brands with burning chemicals. Jeb then swung out of the room and unloaded both barrels of his shotgun (loaded with incendiary shells, because apparently there’s no such thing as too much fire), putting down the Red Brands.

It was, as you can imagine, anarchy. Dutchie smashed down the burning door, and seeing no one around, rushed downstairs to get the rest of his lads. Mr. Locke – who was revealed to have two bodyguards – seemed mildly annoyed more than anything and started to calmly leave. One of his bodyguards peeled off to investigate the room that Jeb was hiding in, and then it all kicked off. Jeb and John ganged up on the bodyguard and got rid of him, and Magnus (who had doubled round the veranda) snuck back inside just as Dutchie ran back upstairs, fuming.

Ah, Dutchie. I’d spent time crafting his stat-block, making him tough and giving all kinds of attacks and synergistic abilities to make him a threatening grappler; in an ideal world, he’d corner one of the guys, knock them down, and then bear-hug them into oblivion. Well, turns out I wasted my fucking time doing that, because John pretty much took him down from 35 to 0 HP in a single turn. Sure, Darryl had to burn his limited-use abilities to squeeze out extra attacks and damage, but I was pissed. I basically threw my toys out of my pram and said “I don’t care how much damage you’ve done, he’s still got enough momentum run at you and throw a punch before he dies.” Guess how that went?

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“INCOMPETENCY HAS BEEN PASSED DOWN THE ARMSTRONG LINE FOR GENERATIONS!”

So Dutchie fluffed it, went blundering past, through the wall, and over the edge of the veranda. Yay. The quest to mildly challenge Darryl’s character continues.

Some Red Brands had followed Dutchie up, and followed their boss’s examples by failing at everything. Seriously, my rolls were such fucking garbage; one guy had Jeb dead to rights with two sixshooters. Two attack rolls, two 1s, staring up at me from the table. Fucking dice gods.

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Look at them. Smug twats.

Down in the street outside the Water Bucket, Locke had sent a third bodyguard to go and get his stagecoach. He saw Jeb casually cheat death up on the veranda and started taking pot shots with a fancy-looking revolver. He winged Jeb, who responded with his eye for an eye ability, blasting Locke and taking him down to half HP after a failed Will save. Again, I was not happy. I mean, yeah, it’s great when your players are kicking ass and things are going great for them, but this was starting to take the piss.

The guys easily took care of the Red Brands, and ran downstairs just as Locke jumped into his stagecoach and sped away. Thankfully there were some horses tied up outside the saloon…

So, finally, we managed to have one of the archetypal Wild West action scenes; a stagecoach chase! But how do you run a good vehicle-level chase in D&D? Some rule books suggest doing lots of opposed skill checks and describing it all narratively, but that’s hella boring. My suggestion? Rolling road. Now, what is a rolling road? Well, I feel that may be a post for another time because it’ll take a while to explain (and I couldn’t find a good link to an article with a better explanation), but you essentially reset the map at the end of each round, keeping the action focused on those involved in the chase. All you need to know is that it works great for vehicle chases. Fans of old Games Workshop game Gorkamorka know what I’m talking about.

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“We need to make a skirmish-scale wargame that combines Mad Max and green Cockney gorillas.” – Andy Chambers, genius, 1997.

The group race after the stagecoach through the streets of Tributary Falls. John tries to bring the coach to a halt by shooting at the horses, spooking them and forcing the driver to take multiple checks to keep the animals in line. Jeb meanwhile rides as close as he can and jumps on the back and just manages to hang on. He starts to climb up onto the roof as the coach as, from inside, Locke and his remaining bodyguard keep taking pot shots at the Dwytes, failing miserably as their aim keeps getting ruined by the swerving coach.

John kills one of the horses, and, not wanting to be the one who doesn’t contribute, Magnus rides up alongside the coach to see if he can jump on and wrestle the reins away from the driver. However, he falters when he recognises the driver; it’s Jace Garrett, an old friend of his! Jeb meanwhile is now on the roof of the coach, and barely keeping his footing; I was calling for a lot of Acrobatics checks and Reflex saves. John rides up to the coach and tries to shoot Locke point-blank, but the Quiet Brother has all kinds of sneaky tricks and throws up a shield of infernal energy to deflect the bullets intended for him. John makes up for it by killing the remaining bodyguard.

By now, Magnus has leapt aboard the coach and he and Jeb are both grappling with Jace. Together, they drag him off the reins; Magnus orders Jeb not to kill him as he takes control of the coach, bringing the one surviving horse to a stop in the middle of the street (the abrupt stop knocks Jeb and Jace off the roof and onto the ground).

By now, Locke is furious and jumps out of the coach as John levels his gun at him.

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“You damn Dwyte brothers! You always have to interfere! If only you knew what we’re trying to do, you would stay out of our way and stop your meddling ways!”

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“You sure talk a lot for a dead man.”

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“And you not enough, sir. I’m sure that if we could just converse, man to man, you would understand…”

But John’s not in the mood to chat, interrupting Locke with a bullet in the dust near his foot. Locke just sighs, irritated, swings his cane around, and smashes the Very Suspicious Jewel ™ at the end of it on the ground. Immediately, the air around him is filled with thick stinking green-brown vapour, and something starts to materialise and take form within the vapour…

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“Aww, that ain’t good…”

Out of the fog comes a disgusting, bloated creature; a filth demon! John’s horse knocks him off and immediately scarpers, but John doesn’t seem bothered by the sight or smell of the creature. The same can’t be said for Magnus, who immediately starts retching. The filth demon shambles towards John, its diseased claws outstretched…

The Reaper’s Tally: 2 witches, 5 train robbers, 20 Red Brand gang members, 1 guard dog, Silas Thorn, Jenny the Razor, 4 Fihanna-Fimh warriors, Stone Bear, 6 Biel-Tan warriors, Bernie Dutch, 2 Quiet Brother henchmen, 1 horse.

This is the first clearly supernatural enemy the guys have faced since the witches waaaay back in our first session, and we would’ve continued the fight there and then, but unfortunately some of us had trains to catch. Still, it means that we have an exciting fight for the start of the next session!