Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Mordheim Marienburg Mercenaries

My third warband for this campaign hoves into view, this time a team of human mercenaries from the bustling port of Marienburg. Human mercenaries seem to be the default warband for Mordheim. It also seems relatively easy to build a scratch team of freebooters from my existing collection. The miniatures concerned come from a mix of sources. As with the Undead and the Dwarves, this warband is divided up into Heroes and Henchmen.

One point to note about this warband from the off: due to the relative wealth of Marienburg as a city, the warband starts with 600 crowns, rather than the default 500.

HEROES

Mercenary Captain (60) with Longbow (+15) and Sword (+10).

Champions (2 @ 35 each): one is armed with a 2-handed sword (a Norscan giant of foul disposition called Steiner Eriksen, he is rumoured to have once run with a notorious street gang called the Jolly Butchers), the other wears plate armour, and carries a Sword (+10), Heavy Armour (+50), a Helmet (+10) and a spare Axe (+5). Together they account for 160 crowns out of the total budget.

HENCHMEN

I like to work out the costs for my Heroes first for Mordheim, before going on to look at the Henchmen options. In this case, the Heroes have burned up 245 crowns out of a total budget of 600, leaving 355 for the Henchmen. Remember, in classic Mordheim you are restricted to 15 figures total.

Now for the cannon fodder...

Three Swordsmen @ 35 each. They are equipped with Swords (+30) and Bucklers (+15). Total: 150.

Four Marksmen @ 25 each. They carry Bows (+40). Total: 140.

None of the above Henchmen wear any armour, although the Swordsmen carry Bucklers. Still, it could go badly for these Marienburgers if they get into a toe-to-toe melee. Remaining budget is 65 crowns.

I add two Warriors armed with Halberds (again, no armour) for a total of 70 crowns, which brings this warband to 605 total cost, a smidgin over budget. As a last detail, I decide to drop the axe from one of the Champions, but give him a Shield instead. Hey presto! Simples.

Next: generating a 1st level Pathfinder cleric for Carrion Crown.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Undead warband for Mordheim

One of the great things about Mordheim is the fact that it is so easy to field a warband. Unlike its big brother, Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Mordheim is focused on small bands of looters. Because of its generic fantasy setting, it is also very easy to put together a band of warpstone hunters from within an existing miniatures collection. I have already commented on the ease with which I mustered some Dwarf Treasure Hunters. Now I am turning to the Undead.

Reading the Mordheim rules before lights out, it is becoming obvious to me that the number of Heroes in your band is pretty important in Mordheim, as they help with finding treasure, navigating the city ruins, and seem to be able to advance much quicker. It looks as if you ought to have at least two, and possibly three Heroes in your starting band.

The Undead list has three different Heroes to choose from: the Vampire, the Necromancer, and the Dreg. The Vampire is a must-have, as they are the effective leaders of the Undead looters in Mordheim. For my warband, I've got a sword-wielding Vampire, a Necromancer, and a Dreg. These latter are human allies of vampires - they are not undead as such, but hope to join the ranks of the vampires at some point in the future. For my Dreg I've gone with an old Citadel thief I bought eons ago in Games Workshop in Reading.

With three Heroes assigned, I also want to add two Dire Wolves, as they are fast movers, and I've got a couple of suitable miniatures from my collection of wolves used at the recent battle of Ashak Rise. No problem there.

My plan is to make up the rest of the warband with Ghouls. At 40 crowns each, they are somewhat cheaper than Dire Wolves, and I've got some nice Heresy ghouls which will fit the bill well.

Undead Warband - starting list

HEROES

Vampire (1 @110GCs) armed with sword (+10GCs)

Necromancer (1@35GCs) - no additional weapons. The Necromancer begins with a randomly-generated spell from the necromantic spell list. In this case I rolled a '3' (Death Vision) for his starting spell.

Dreg (2@20GCs each) - one armed only with a dagger, and no armour. I doubt he will last long, but he's an extra Hero and can go buy supplies during the daylight hours from the human encampments around Mordheim. NB: As I had money left over after purchasing the ghouls (below), I decided to add a second Dreg with an axe (20+15 for a double-handed weapon).

HENCHMEN

Dire Wolves (2@50GCs each)

310 spent so far, leaving 190. None of the characters above has any armour or any missle weapons, which were the big cost items for the Dwarf Treasure Hunters. It leaves scope for a pack of five ghouls to go with the warband:

Ghouls (5 @ 40GCs each)

Total = 510. Okay, so 10 crowns over the budget, but as this is meant to be a friendly campaign, I've decided to leave it at that, and see how we go. I could have dropped a ghoul and gone with a third dreg, but this will give me the incentive to paint these ghouls up and get them onto the table. Let's see how we go from there.

Casting my eye over the list, and having not played Mordheim before, the only major weakness I can see is the lack of any missile weapons. The wolves should be dangerous, as they're fast movers, but the dwarves, who these undead will likely face first, have three crossbows at the moment. They could prove troublesome.

Next up: a band of mercenaries from Marienberg.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The third and final battle at Ashak Rise

Finally finished off the third, and final, play through of the Ashak Rise battle, part of the epic Bloodbath At Orc's Drift campaign. As regular visitors to this blog may recall, I am umpring this venerable Eighties Games Workshop campaign, originally penned for Warhammer, but using the Lord of the Rings skirmish rules instead.

Twice now, the orcs of the Severed Hand tribe have assaulted Ashak Rise, held by a small posse of dwarf deserters from the army of the Grand League of Ramalia. Once, the orcs were routed and the dwaves escaped with all their gold, panned from the river Canis. Second time around things did not go as well, with the dwarfs wiped out and the orcs victorious. For previous battles I suggest readers consult the battle reports earlier in this blog.

I decided to play this scenario out a third and final time, and average the results. This would determine how many Severed Hand orcs arrived at their eventual objective, Orc's Drift, and also at what stage in the battle.

For this battle there were only two of us, so no independent umpire - not that one is really needed for Ashak Rise. My opponent opted for the orcs, leaving me playing the dwarfs a second time. No biggie, but on this occasion I decided to experiment by deploying the dwarf leader, Borinn Fimbull, on the bridge rather than near the mules, which is where he started on previous occasions. This meant there would be no dwarfs initially close to the cabin. I wanted to see if it made any difference to the defence to have the strongest dwarf holding the bridge from the off.

The orcs duly arrived, and as ever, the dire wolves did the bulk of the fighting on the bridge. Two dwarfs were felled by orc arrow volleys as they raced towards the bridge, and Borinn amazingly was brought down thanks to some jammy rolling by the orc player. This photo shows his last moments as he was swarmed by wolves on the bridge, and faced five Str 4 attacks.



Luckily for the dwarves, Snorrin arrived in the nick of time to take over the defence of the bridge, holding it for four more turns before he too was killed. By this time three dwarfs were at the cabin loading gold onto the mules. Six dire wolves now raced for the cabin, but one dwarf managed to exit the game with a mule in the nick of time. This photo shows him just before the initiative roll - had the orcs won it, he would not have been able to escape.



Meanwhile, orcs arrows brought down one mule. A second dwarf set off cross-country with another pack mule and two bags of gold, but was eventually intercepted by the wolves, who first killed his mule, and then finished off the dwarf. A last dwarf tried to escape on foot with a single bag, but was also killed by the wolf pack. The other dwarfs died individually in various parts of the field.



Again, I was disappointed by the dwarf crossbows, which really made very little impact, even though four dwarfs spent nearly every turn in the first half of the game shooting. Both dwarf leaders died taking multiple attacks from the wolves - Snorrin was slain with 6,6,6,5 on the wolves' damage rolls. You can't really argue with that!

I had some really, really lousy rolls, although my luck did significantly come good at key points, for example when I needed Snorrin to get to the bridge before the wolves had a chance to break out onto the road east.

Total losses: one dwarf escaped with mule and two bags of gold, all other dwarfs KIA. Two orcs were killed, along with five wolves.

Next up: Linden Way! How will the Kwae Karr orcs manage against the Meledir town militia?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Tactical Soldier - Undead Rising

Take two of my favourite games, namely Space Hulk and Resident Evil, then mash 'em together and put it on the iPad. What have you got? The most excellent and highly addictive Tactical Soldier - Undead Rising. TacSol, in its abbreviated format, uses the same mechanics as Space Hulk, in that the movement and actions of soldiers and zombies are constrained by action points. As characters take damage, so their available action points drop.



The game is inspired by the zombie survival horror genre. You start off with just one soldier, in a military base being overrun by the undead. Your missions are to find out what is going on, link up with your buddies and your CO, and retrieve valuable equipment, weapons and ammo before the zombies get you.

At this stage I'm still playing on the early levels, and have acquired one buddy. Unlike Space Hulk, where you begin with at least two fully-equipped squads of marines, here you're on your own until you find other survivors to add to your group. Also, much of the tension stems from the fact that you either have NO weapons, or are on limited ammo. Running out of bullets as a horde of zombies is coming down a corridor towards you is quite an evocative experience!

The other brilliant aspect of this game is the fact that you have hidden movement: the iPad is running the zombies, and it keeps thems hidden from you until your characters can see them. In Space Hulk, marines had scanners, so could track incoming Genestealers without perhaps knowing precise numbers. Here there is no such thing - you don't know zombies are there until you see them.

Also, if they can't see you, there is scope to simply sneak past them. This element of fog of war is something lacking in boardgames, but can really be brought to life on the iPad. There are big possibilities here for wargaming on the iPad if the right developers can get on board with the right apps.

As I've said, I have only played a few levels of the game so far, but it is tense stuff. I've been hellishly busy this week, so my iPad has lain sadly neglected, despit the foul weather over last weekend! I have not been able to find out if there is a two player variant for TacSol - if there is scope for another player to control the zombies, or even to play the game online via the Apple Game Centre (which has obliging downloaded itself), that would be fantastic.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Mordheim Dwarf Treasure Hunters

While tidying up my workshop this weekend, I stumbled across my copy of Mordheim, the fantasy miniatures skirmish rules from Games Workshop's Specialist Games division. Mordheim is a game about small warbands plundering a cursed city, in search of wyrdstone, a Chaos-related element of the Warhammer campaign milieu. The attraction of Mordheim is that, unlike Warhammer itself, you don't need oodles of figures to play. Caveat emptor: I have not played it yet, but am interested, hence this post.

With my final re-run of the Battle of Ashak Rise about to reach its bloody conclusion, and the Linden Way scenario not quite ready yet - although I hope to have this ready soon - my thoughts turn to Mordheim, a slightly more detailed skirmish wargame exercise than the Lord of the Rings rules we are using for the Orc's Drift campaign.

To play Mordheim, you need warbands, and I've started to patrol my existing collection of 28mm miniatures to see what we have to hand. At first glance it looks like I could potentially field the following starting warbands:

  1. Bretonnians
  2. Human Mercenaries
  3. Dwarves
  4. Undead
  5. Orcs

Not a bad start really, and I'm not far off having a Cult of the Possessed warband ready to go as well. SIX warbands makes Mordheim well with reach.

As an experiment, I've tried to put together a starting warband of Dwarves, based on the small posse of dwarves currently engaged at Ashak Rise, and soon to be wiped out there in all likelihood! Each starting warband in Mordheim is based on a budget of 500 gold crowns. This is in effect your points value allotment with which to purchase initial troops and equipment for the game. It works in a very similar way to team management in Blood Bowl.

Dwarf Treasure Hunters

1 Dwarf Noble (85) with Light Armour (+20), Helmet (+10), Dwarf Axe (+15) and Shield (+5) = 135 GC.

1 Dwarf Clansman (40) with Light Armour (+20), Helmet (+10), Double Handed Weapon (+15), x2 Axes (+10) = 95 GC


3 Dwarf Thunderers (120) with Helmet (+10 each) and Crossbow (+25 each) = 225 GC


1 Dwarf Beardling (25) with Double Handed Weapon (+15) = 40 GC


Total = 495 GC.

As you can see, you don't need a lot of miniatures to play Mordheim. In this case, the starting warband is only six figures. Admittedly, the Thunderers consume a great deal of the points value, but I get the impression missile weapons like crossbows can be quite deadly in this game. Not sure whether the Clansman will need those axes, but they're on the figure, so I'm including them in the list.

When I have time I'll have a crack at an Undead warband...if you want to access a vast amount of free Mordheim goodness, the Mordheimer site at www.mordheimer.com is worth a visit.