Wednesday, 3 September 2014

A long time ago, the grim darkness of the far future and other geekery.

The gap between my last two blogs was greater than I planned but it wasn't from inactivity. I've been up to a bunch of game related stuff. So in the style of my favourite podcast The D6 Generation, I'll give you my Achievements in gaming!


I haven't played much Dystopian wars lately but now that version 2.0 of the rules are out I need to grab them and try em out.
In its place I've been playing X-wing most weekends. I am just loving the easy to pick up but difficult to master rules system and the more equipment and upgrade cards you get can completely change the way the game plays. I just picked up two of the new TIE-Phantoms and one of the TIE-Defenders. The FLGS is dreadfully short on X-wing miniatures and I grabbed theses on the same day they came in so I sprung the new hotness on my unsuspecting gaming group. Unfortunately they had also grabbed a few defenders.
Now to try and resist buying Armada.

One of the players from my previous Rogue Trader RPG campaign has moved back to town and agreed to GM a Star Wars Edge of the Empire campaign. I am so pumped to be a player again, without the responsibility of GMing. We have had half a dozen sessions so far and they have been a blast. My character is a Rodian Scoundrel who was pretending to be a senator when Palpatine removed the senate. He now maintains his cover to avoid the numerous bounties issued by the IOCI for his capture. My hi-lights so far have been swindling a Hut, and causing a Dewback stampeded to distract some storm troopers. Also getting to be a pain in the GMs side, its good to be a player again.


Progress on my new 40K army themed on the Rogue Trader forces from my previous RPG Campaign has been steadily ramping up. I have purchased a few boxes of infantry and worked on my list and figured out my purchase order. As well sketched out some ideas for conversions to personalise my little dudes. I ordered a whole bunch of guns from Anvil Industry and a heap of penal troopers from Victoria Miniatures with these combined I plan to make a large squad of 40K naval seamen. (snigger)  I also got one of my mates to draw up the house crest of the Havelock Dynasty, as it was described in play "A dive bombing eagle with a fist flying out of its wide open beak" I plan to use his designs to make up custom green stuff banners and units markings for the household guard. And of course the Havlock personal transport Rhino would be festooned with the house livery. The Rhino was a kit bash between an old Vindicator and a new Chimera. (of course under the new rules I could have just taken an actual Rhino). Soon I start the mammoth task of painting.


In preparation of painting my 40K army I have had to practice my long neglected painting skills. The task I set myself for improving my skills is painting every miniature I got in my Zombicide Kickstarter and I planned for the zombies to look like a true horde. I didn't want each sculpt to be painted in the same scheme. The progress so far is promising. Soon I start on the survivors.

Video Games 

I recently purchased a PS4 and have been enjoying the new system. But it heighted a dilemma for me, soon my PS3 will die or be retired and my chance to gain the trophies for my current games will be lost. I am a massive trophy whore. Not in the sense that I have a lot, but that I love gaining them. So I have spurned the new system and hunkered down and started replaying my existing games. The highlight of this was replaying the Mass Effect trilogy from start to end. Due to release times on the PS3 I played them out of order and I didn't carry my save over between games. I was surprised how much of a difference playing them in order with one continuous save file made. I always thought the games were ok, now I think they should be viewed as one huge excellent game.
I hope more games with sequels try this approach.


I Finally decide to fill a gap in my geek knowledge I was at a book exchange, and I  picked up a second hand copy of Stephen Kings The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger. I read it in one night and loved every word. Now I need to collect the other books. I also now have a burning desire to play Savage World Deadlands.

I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy. I went in expecting an excellent movie, something on the level of Starwars. Not Starwars with a lifetime of emotional investment but a fun, high quality, space fanacty, adventure movie.
My mates went in with less than optimistic expectations. But we all came out extremely surprised. One best mate took me aside and told me "you were right. That was like seeing Starwars for the first time."
The following weekend I returned to the cinema this time with my eldest son in tow. Some of the jokes went a little over his head, and he cried a little when Groot died. But he loved it, and hasn't stopped talking about it.

Well that's it for my achievements what kind of stuff have you been up too?

Monday, 30 June 2014

List building and unit comparison

Last post I talked about my list selection and the theme of my army, some of my choices were difficult to make. Multiple  desirable units occupied the same force organisation slots. I used theme to thin down my selections but how do I choose between special weapon PDF squads form Damarus, narco tribe mercenary Ogryns from Footfall, and land ship storm troopers  from Zarth.
All of these units fit with my theme, could be embarked in a Valkyrie and dropped off behind enemy lines to strike a sensitive target. How do I make my choice? I need to somehow compare the points cost and abilities of each squad against the others. Enter; Mathematics, working out the likelihood of wounds caused by shooting compared to the points would give me the shooting efficiency of each squad. So it was pretty easy to work out the potential wounds caused by shooting. The formula I used was. Chance to hit x Chance to wound x Chance to fail save x Number of shots = Kills
So comparing some of my guard units shooting would look something like this.

Assuming that the target is a Space Marine

Infantry squad:- ten lasgun shots
.5 x .3333 x .3333 x 10 = .5554 (therefore on average ten lasguns equals half a dead marine)

Ogryns:- thirty. ripergun shots
.5 x .6667 x .3333 x 30 = 3.3331 (therefore on average 10 riperguns x 3 shots equals 3 & a bit dead marines)

So on the face of this it looks like the Ogryns are the better choice over the Infantry Squad.
But this simple formula doesn't take points cost into account.
So I was just going to divide the Kills by points cost of the unit. But at the same time, my Google-Fu turned up Simhammer. This site is a treasure trove of info that works to simplify the "Mathhammer" of 40K. The Dakka Per Point (DPP) algorithm does exactly what I was trying to do and it gives a comparable value to the Resilience Per Point (RPP) algorithm. With these two values Simhammer goes a long way to creating a method of working out the efficiency of the units perhaps the last corner of the true-value triangle is movement, I am not sure how to work that one out. Simhammer also provide the algorithms in Excel format.

So if I run the same two units through the Simhammer algorithm this is what I get.

(To hit x to wound x failed save x failed feel no pain x number of shots) ÷ points cost x 1000

DPP Infantry squad
(.5 x .3333 x .3333 x 1 x 10) ÷ 50 x 1000 = 11.108

DPP Ogryns
(.5 x .6667 x .3333 x 1 x 30)÷ 410 x 1000 = 8.130

So when shooting at marines, an infantry squad is more efficient then a squad of Ogryns. Even with the higher strength riper guns that produce three times the number shots of a infantry squad. The chunky Ogryns are just too expensive points wise.

Armed with these tools I was able to determine what units were the most efficient use of points in each force org slot.

Perhaps now with 7th edition out with its unbound army list rules, I could use the DPP and RPP algorithms to identify the most efficient unit in 40K and take a full army of just that unit.

I didn't even get to play one game of 6th Ed.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Logocal Purchasing Process.

In preparation for playing 40k I have begun planning out my army list and working out the buy order of the models I plan to use.
When I last played 40k my collection of Orks contained whatever miniatures GW released that I happened to love the look of. Therefore whatever army I fielded tended to be on the ramshackle side of things. When I did identify strengths or short comings in my lists through game play, having spent all my money on whatever random shiny had been released that week, I was unable to capitalise or mitigate these.
This time I planned for things to be different. I have a theme. My Astra Militarum would represent the glorious forces of Atticus Havlock, all units would represent forces collected during play or those easily available considering the events that occurred during play. I would weigh up the choices available to me and choose units that were effective in their use, and efficient in their points cost.
Finally I would construct a list that worked at 1000pts and 2000pts that way I could start playing test games earlier at a lower points cost.
There are a few potential choices for the HQ. Lord Castellan Creed seemed like a good choice to represent Atticus and the regimental advisors also seem likely candidates for the other players characters.
But after drawing up a few test lists I decided to drop Creed because of his points cost and swap the astropath for a primaris psyker because of the potential benefits of accessing the Divination discipline. Just because I am following a theme doesn't mean I don't want an effective army.
So for the HQ I settled on a Company commander as Captain Atticus his orders would represent his mastery of command.
The Master of Ordnance would represent first officer Ragnar his artillery bombardment would be a pinpoint orbital Macro-cannon shot.
The fleet commander's abilities would nicely represent Luther's sneaky seneschal shenanigans.
The accompanying veterans would be represented as Kroot bodyguards.
The new codex also includes several types of specialists that sit outside the standard force organisation chart, after a quick read of the various universal special rules on offer I knew I needed to include some of these specialists.

Enginseers serve as custodians of the mystic rites of maintenance and a imperial starship captain would have access to several thousand of these highly skilled mystics. Also they get to utilise their skills on the battlefield having among other things the neat ability to repair damaged vehicles. They also can be accompanied by Survivors, in this case they will be Murder Servitors.

Ministorum Priests seem like an appropriate inclusion in the army. Atticus rescued a stranded pilgrim ship on his maiden voyage beyond the Imperium's borders. He then proceeded to cultivate a strong personality cult among the faithful who now view him as a living saint. These Priests have the unit boosting ability to sing Was hymns when engaged in a mêlée, and to grant the Zealot special rule.

Commissars are the final specialist I will be fielding in my army. These ironed spined, stony jawed symbols of authority would represent the internal Morale Efficiency and Security forces of Atticus's chief seneschal. The Summary Execution special rule insures that any squad accompanied by a commissar will not fail a morale, fear, or pinning test. Apparently the barrel of a bolt pistol does wonders for Morale, Efficiency and Security when pushed against the back of someone's head.
Troops :
I really wanted to represent the mass of shipboard armsmen that a Rogue Trader would be able to call upon. These semi skilled workers would swarm enemies bringing them down through sheer numbers. Conscripts seemed the obvious choice to represent this mass of loyal bodies. I looked around for some suitable minis but couldn't find anything that really captured the feel of naval shipmen. While I was searching for minis I stumbled upon Victoria Miniatures.  They produce some very nice miniatures and the best bit is they sell all the individual components separately. By combining the arms, legs & heads of one type with the torso of another I think I can recreate the feel of 40k seamen. To complete the look I also ordered a range of guns from Anvil Industry, to give the impression of an haphazard collection of weapons. 
One of the last major story points the players encountered was the Ork Waargh to conquer Damaris. The players efforts resulted in a strong alliance with the military commander of the planetary defence forces. In response to aiding in a coup the Damaris levy now supply Atticus with significant military forces.
So a bulky infantry platoon with lots of troops seemed appropriate. Mantic Games manufacture a range of 40k compatible minis designed to substitute for official GW Imperial Guard, I considered Mantic troopers in part to help recoup the cost of ordering so many custom bits for the conscripts/armsmen. In the end I decided to stick with the official models mainly because I like the look of the GW heavy weapon teams.
I originally planned for the elites section to contain a couple of squads of the new excellent looking Militarum Tempestus, but I decided on more points efficient special weapon squads. I also really liked the new plastic Ogryns minis and seriously considered including a squad but the high points cost and inability to rationalize Ogryns with my theme caused me to disregard these brutes.
Fast attack:
I had expensive Forgeworld plans for the fast attack section but it turns out the fleet of Aquila landers I planned to use as Valkyrie transports would have to be canned. Forgeworld decided to cancel production of this neat miniature. I guess a pair of Valkyrie dropships will suffice, I think I will give the Valkyries a battered second-hand/surplus look, perhaps with worn and chipped paint.
I also wanted to include a squad of converted sentinels themed as murder servitors but again the points are just better spent elsewhere.
Heavy Support:
I have always loved the slab-sided look of the Leman Russ battle tank. I plan to field a trio of these brutes, and they fit nicely with my theme.
A major component of the Damaris PDF are the highland wardens, this elite armoured force newly battle hardened in the effort to repulse an Ork Warrgh. Led personally by Capitan Havelock "the savoir of Damaris" in several decisive counter attacks, this close bond forged in conflict would of course continue to endure. I expect an entire hold of Atticus's ship is dedicated to the housing and support of a fleet of armoured vehicles supplied by Damaris.
Another neat vehicle I plan to include in my army after discovered it in the codex is the deaths-strike missile launcher. This infinite range strength 10 AP1 large blast weapon seemed like the perfect addition. The only problem was theme, the thought of an ICBM or MRBM firing at a target within visual range seemed... dumb. But I wanted that strength 10 heavy blast, so I got to thinking what a Rogue Trader would have at his disposal with that kind of firepower. The answer was obvious his ship, a pinpoint orbital lance strike would easily match a death-strike in its level of destruction. So what purpose would the vehicle serve? I the assume coordination of an orbital gothic space fortress firing down to a planets surface would be a difficult thing. Perhaps it would warrant a dedicated observation and fire-control system mounted inside a Chimera chassis.

Some of my choices were influenced by the relative efficiency of certain units. The way I calculated these values is quite interesting in its own right, and I will post a little about the methods I used in my next blog.


Need Recognition
Source Options
Price and Terms
Purchase Order


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Long Time No post

So last time I posted I mentioned that two of my players were moving away and my GMing was coming to an end.
I have had a chance to catch up and run through the closing scenes of the campaign verbally, just telling the story and asking the players what they would do. No dice were rolled just a shared theatre of the mind. I thought it was interesting that the players asked questions about the enemies stats. I think knowledge of the meta helped them internally define just how much firepower the Massive Ork Krooser had or how hulking the brutish Ork warlord was.
I plan to write up some more fiction for the closing session and perhaps touch a little on how the future of the expanse would look after the character influenced events had run their course.

I first started this blog when I had just started playing DnD, and playing had rekindled my love of all things table top. I had originally planned to restart playing 40k. I found a local gaming club, I bought the current edition of the rules, started reading blogs and fluff. I proceeded then to collect and play Dystopian wars. Then a new edition came out, I managed to grab a second hand copy of the hard cover rule book for $50 a massive bargain. Reading through the rules I could remember the basis from the previous editions, liked what I read. Then I proceeded to continue not playing 40k. That grim dark hole was filled by Rogue Trader, I had still planed to play 40k. I wished to bin my old Orks and start a fresh new force of Tau allied Imperial Guard. I had neat idea of a human world cut off from the imperium and rediscovered during the Tau third sphere expansion. That idea has now fallen by the wayside, I found that even though I never actually played in my campaign only ever GMed I was still very invested in the game. (perhaps more so then the players because it was my first GM experience)
I now plan to compile an army themed around the glorious expeditionary forces of the Havlock rogue trader dynasty commanded by Atticus Havlock and his loyal entourage.
I will be using the new Imperial guard Codex complete with its freshly trademarketable name change.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Hobby Accomplishments

It's been awhile since I posted anything about my hobbying that didn't relate to the GMing of my Rogue Trader campaign. While GMing takes up a large part of my spare time, I do have a few other geeky events of note.

The Kickmaster

My Reaper Bones Kickstarter minis arrived. I have long enjoyed reaper's excellent range of metal minis. When I first heard about the bones Kickstarter I was very interested, a huge assortment of great sculpts for an unbelievable price. I instantly backed it at the Vampire level and eagerly awaited for the arrival of more RPG minis then I could ever use. At first I was overwhelmed with the sheer number of figures that were supplied. But when I had the chance to sit and check over each of the miniatures, I noticed some imperfections. Nothing serious just some warping of blades and barrels, and some loss of detail in the sculpts. I already had several metal Reaper miniatures and they were far superior to the bones versions of the miniatures. The warping bothered me a bit so I endeavored to see if I could straiten the new plastic material that Reaper used to produce the bones.  I used hot water to soften the plastic and as I held the plastic straight I dipped the figure into a bowl of chilled water. So far the miniatures have remained straight even when subjected the tropical North-Queensland summer. I am still a little concerned about the strength of some of the thinner bits like spear shafts and ankles on some minis.

some very nice sculpts
Kickstarter contents 
Another box of minis from a different Kickstarter also arrived. Wild West Exodus, I liked the idea of WWX as soon as I heard about it. The brain child of Romeo the owner and host of 40k Radio &  Battle Foam. I first heard about it on 40K Radio and The D6 Generation podcasts. A Weird Wild West setting consisting of an alternate history infused with SiFi technology. I think Romeo really liked the movie John Carpenter of Mars, there are a few similar themes and the WWX Dark Council bare some striking similarities to the Therns in the movie. Romeo regularly talks about some of the business practices that GW employ and why they mystify him. Outspoken criticism on how GW does things and how they should be done is one of the reasons I enjoy listening 40k Radio when Romeo is on. It's great to see him literally putting his money where his mouth is, employing modern plastic injection moulding and detailed resin casting practices to produce miniatures with as much detail and character as Games Workshop's. WWX also employs some nifty retail practices, $5 minis and neat a return policy for retailers. Unfortunately no one locally besides myself backed it. I hope in the future it gains a local following.

Role Play Shenanigans 

Beyond the Thunder-Dome
Attack on a hill top emplacement
Recently I GMed an extra long session of Rogue Trader. The plan was to bring the current story ark to a satisfactory conclusion, before two of the players moved away. It was a great day and I got to use a bunch of my old 40k Ork minis as they rampaged over the world of Damaris. Unfortunately we did not get to complete the final grand space battle that would sever the Ork Warlords control of his forces I did get to run a couple of other encounters that included some vehicles. An Ork junk fort full of looted equipment that had been re-purposed into Killa Kanz, and some high speed highway Madmax themed combat. The players pulled some shenanigans and circumvented my brutally hard combat challenges. First they requisitioned some mining explosives and jerry-rigged them to use in an airstrike. Second while being chased by speed crazed aliens on an assortment of ramshackle vehicles the party's navigator used his lidless warp infused third eye to melt the drivers faces. At first I was a little peeved that the players bypassed all my work, but the spectacle of the crashing Ork trucks still loaded with boys & the plume of a flame filled oily mushroom cloud rising from the ruins of the Ork fort were great role-playing events.

Print is a dying Medium

So I have previously talked about the fine people at Urban Laser Craft, and how they were nice enough the reward me monetarily for my CAD work with MDF & acrylic terrain. I was very pleased when the owner Will informed me that his product line would be featured in the Cool Mini Or Not magazine Ravage. So despite paper being a vestigial method of information dissemination I am still immensely proud that my designs will be immortalized in a physical medium. I do have a little pang of regret that I signed over my copyrights when I sold my designs, it would have been neat to see my name in the article. 

Monday, 20 January 2014

Comparative advantage and gains from trade.

Sholk sighed as he nestled in to the silken cushions at the edge of the holo-projector. Luther had furnished him with an incredible amount of additional and unnecessary data along with the documents he requested. As Luther departed he impressed upon Sholk the importance of the dynasty returning to profitability as soon as possible. When the Atticus first asked him to improve the efficiency of the Havlock trade caravans, It should have been easy, especially now that the Orks would soon cease to be a trade barrier. He was happy to except the task, all he wanted was the tonnage of cargo to be taken on and deposited at each point of stoppage. He sipped a chilled glass of the divine water from Vaporius, the delicious liquid quickly soothed his stress. With his mind cleared and his purpose renewed he began scrolling through the reams of data, manifests, logs consumption tallies, production forecasts, and trade agreements. All of it terribly dull suddenly a single name caught his eye, Vaporius. He depressed the rune of viewing on the control slate and the holographic icon resolved itself into a series of documents laid out before him. Sholk mused for a few moments then called up the trade ledges to view the current movements of the caravan. The Emperors Hand would depart Port Wander with its holds filled with foodstuffs and clean water purchased as considerable costs. The first trade stop was always Foot Fall that filth encrusted labyrinth of void born structures floating in the punishing radiation of the immense star Furibundus here a small shipment of exotic luxury items would be purchased far from the pointless rules and needless taxes of the more ‘civilised’ ports. Next the Hand would sail to Vaporius. He reviewed the terms of trade between House Havlock and the city of Lah’ndan. In exchange for small quantities of exotic goods, luxury items and other baubles the Priest King would allow the Havlock trade envoys to depart with two hundred large copper urns of the blessed water. Its third stop would be high orbit above Dross, the ship would wait at that storm wracked planet until its three small rocky moons aligned singling the time for the clouds to be parted. The heavy landers would hurriedly descend with a large portion of the food and water along with shipments of firearms, crude sluggers, stubbers, and shotguns. All to fuel High Priestess Asira’s Jihad of planetary conquest. They would return, clouds closing behind them, with holds full of Scrap metal from the mass of wreaked ships that lay strewn across Dross's surface. The Emperors Hand would then travel to Zayth system. Once in orbit above that desolate war world the remainder of the food and water, along with the salvaged metals from Dross would be transferred into the holds of the Land ship Indestructible. In exchange the Iron brotherhood would supply a battery of their finely crafted Macro weapons that were now so highly sought-after across the entire sub-sector. Finally the Emperors Hand would head for the fledging colony of Havlock's Haven. The crew would take shore leave and some aid would be distributed to the colonists. Havelock's Haven was still a long way away from producing any food stuff in sufficient quantities to be profitable but Captain Havlock was planning to build an empire and it took time to build strong foundations.

Sholk new his duty was to see how Damaris was going to fit into the new trade routes, but he could not believe the terms of trade with Vaporius. He couldn’t shake the term “Glass beads for the heathens” from his mind. He couldn’t fathom that his noble captain would be willing to exploit the kindness of the Ansai the Priest-King of Lah’ndan. Sholk would make sure that this oversight was corrected and Ansai was correctly compensated for the divine water from the city of Lah’ndan. Poring over the tables of projected exportable goods that Luther provided, Sholk smiled. Damaris was blessed with numerous valuable resources. Vast stretches of the equatorial regions were utilised for agriculture and the production of foodstuffs. The seas teemed with edible creatures, highly in demand throughout the Expanse as well as the Calixis sector, and many valuable ores and precious gems were ensconced in the world’s ancient, wind-worn mountains. The planet also boasted a remarkably modern infrastructure including a strong mining industry capable of producing millions of tons of raw and refined ores for export. There was also a small but respected ship-building industry centred at the Bulwark. Sholk layed out the new trade routes,  Damaris would export large quanties of ores, foodstuffs, livestock, and ship components. Theses would be shipped to Foot Fall so they could be distributed for a handsome profit. In exchange Damaris would receive luxuries, vehicles, construction materials, and durable manufactured goods from the greater Imperium. The terms of the trade agreement insured that all trade that Damaris conducted with parties other than House Havlock would be subject to heavy levies and tariffs on any products imported or exported. 

Sholk turned his attention to the Vaporius agreement and thought about the value of the water that the Priest-King Ansai so generously provided. He stared at the clear liquid swirling out of the crystal decanter as he poured himself another healthy glass. This substance had raised his clan of Navigators out of obscurity and insured not only the house's survival but a chance to surpass its former glory. Already Sholk had several Homozygous cousins that were now serving with respected shipping institutions including the Imperial Navy and Adeptus Mechanicus. He had also been informed that overtones of reacceptance to the Navis Nobilite have been made and negoiations for new reproduction treaties were progressing well. Yes as the fortunes of his family rose so to did the profits supplied to The Havlock dynasty. Yes Ansai must be richly compensated for the opportunity that his water had provided. In exchange for the copper vessels of water, the city coffers of Lah’ndan would now be buoyed with ingots of precious metals, jewellery crafted from fine gems, and Throne Gelt. Sholk also wanted to be sure that Priest-King understood Captans Havlock's personal appreciation. Ansai's court would now be dressed in the finest silks, served by the most beautiful domestic slaves, fed the rarest spices and finest wines. The extra costs would be astronomical but Sholk new it was still a good deal, he stared into the now empty glass, his mind free of burden. 
This blissful feeling was worth anything.... No everything!