Thursday, October 25, 2012

BattleFleet Gothic Report: Tau vs Ork

Last week CB and Skywatcher took to the void of space to do battle in classic Battlefleet Gothic. This game doesn't get alot of playtime, but it is a favorite of mine. We set the limit of 750pts. Here are the forces brought to bear...

Orks by CB
Gorbag's Revenge w/ a Warload abord (GR)
Terror Ship (TS)
Kill Kroozer (KK)
Ravager (RA)
Extra Reroll
Total Points: 745

Tau by Skywatcher
Explorer Gal’Leath Bor’Kan (EX)
Merchant - Il’Fannor Dal’yth (MR)
Hero - Lar’shi Tolku (HE)
(3) Defenders (D1-D3)
(3) Orca (O1-O3)
Total Points: 740

The Premise
The Tau fleet were on an exploratory mission (because it's for the greater good, right!) to planet Doton within the Eastern Fringe. Long thought a dead planet, the Tau detected signals emanating from the surface and sent a small task force to investigate. After entering the planets vicinity, a fleet of dirty Orks emerged from behind Doton to ambush the approaching Tau. "We are on a diplomatic mission from...."

The Ork forces began clumped together to maximize defensive turret strength. The Tau started in two groups as far back as possible to take advantage of their advanced ordnance. The dice rolled poorly for the Tau's leadership, and this would haunt them for the rest of the game.

Tau torpedoes launched from all available bays along with bombers. This is what they do best! The Orks countered with what they had.

A few lucky guided torpedoes snuck past the Ork defenses and slammed into the Kill Kroozer. Two of the Tau Orcas were destroyed by Ork ordinance. Boom!

Unfortunately, a wave of panic and fear spread amongst the crews of the Tau vessels and the fleet commanders desperately tried to rally them back. (The ordinance rerolls failed for the Tau) The left flank of the Tau fleet also ran into a problem with the planet and the Merchant cruiser broke off his engagement in order to attempt to avoid the oncoming Kill Kroozer. The Hero and Explorer maintained their distance. The Ravager was vaporized by the Hero's weaponry. The Orks flagship and Terror Ship maintained course towards the biggest threat. The Kill Kroozer pursued the small Tau detachment.

The Ork Kill Kroozer closed in on the Merchant to almost within boarding range. It was able to fire at close range bringing massive damage to the craft. Gorbag's Revenge and Terror Ship were able to easily eliminate the last Orca ship and land some damage on the Hero.

Tau failed their reload ordinance rolls again, and were stuck without torpedoes or bombers. With no rear armament, the Merchant was left with little else to do that attempt to outrun the Kill Kroozer. The Merchant was all but lost and the other Tau ships needed re-enforcements. The Tau commanders issued commands to the Defenders to focus on the main two Ork ships. They unloaded their railgun batteries into the aft of Gorbag's Revenge dealing some damage.

The Kill Kroozer successfully caught up with the Merchant ship and swarms of greenskins attacked. The other two Ork ships consentrated their firepower and destroyed the Hero ship. A massive explosion rocked the area as the Hero's hull collapsed. 

When the communications from the Merchant ceased, the Tau commanders weren't surprised. There was little hope for them once the powerful Orks got that close. Shortly after, a large explosion was seen emanating from behind the planet. The Merchant was reduced to a hulk. The combined firepower of the Defenders did rock the Terror Ship.

The Terror Ship boarded the Explorer ship as Gorbag's Revenge flew by.

The last turn ended as the Explorer attempted to defend itself against the boarding attacks by the Terror Ship. The Defenders fired a few last battery shots at Gorbag's Revenger, as the Kill Kroozer emerged from the other size of Doton.

Report Wrap-up
The matchup between Ork and Tau is an interesting one. They both seem to have the opposite strengths of the other. 

The Tau's obvious advantage lies in their cheap ship cost and advanced ordinance. What they have in long distance, they severely lack in close combat and speed. Tau boarding strength is half of a normal ship! The Ork ships are sturdy, have great armor and offensive weapons. They are susceptible to ordinance attacks because they do have lower than normal turrets and are less maneuverable.

In this particular battle, the initial rolls for Tau leadership were very low and caused an ongoing problem with special order rolls. Only one reload ordinance roll was successfully made after the first turn. And having a fleet very dependent on one tactic and then not having it available the whole battle, was a huge challenge. At the advice of CB, I will add in a re-roll into my next list.

Needless to report, the Orks did win on point totals after turn 8. Good game!

And when I asked the Ork's for their side of the story, they added.... WAAAAAAAGH!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Future Wargame Predictions of the Future

Today I make some wild (or maybe somewhat obvious) predictions on where tabletop miniature wargaming is headed. Over the years there have been many different changes it has gone through. Scale has varied from 6mm up to 54mm. The build materials have evolved from pewter, white medal, resin and now a large movement towards plastics. But overall, we are still doing the same things; We buy, assemble, paint, and then move these little men (and women) around a board and try to kill the other guy's army.

What will be the norm in 10-20 years for miniature gaming? It is hard to predict, but gauging by the advancement of technology and newer generations getting into the hobby, things will evolve. Below are some ideas that I see.

1. Powered by Computers
I might start with the most obvious one. Hey did anyone notice we are using computers more? Of course this also includes smart phones and tablet technology. Computers are getting more powerful and becoming smaller. We see them being integrated more and more into everyday items. Microsoft's Surface project is a great example of computers merging with our everyday. Here they took a tabletop and laid a touchscreen display under a glass surface. Users can interact with the screen using touch controls. I've seen demo versions of boardgames and even RPG sessions using the MS Surface. This will be a natural progression, as the newer generations of players jump into the miniature wargaming hobby with well established roots in video game.

And just think how cool it would be to move your soldier model up within range of an enemy, select who your attaching with your smart phone and click fire, and all the combat is resolved on the smart phone. Plus you'd get graphic and sound to enhance the attack made.

2. Physical meets Virtual
The Skylanders franchise is a great example of using physical objects to interact with the digital world. Last Christmas a Christmas frenzy was started with their release. Now a year later, over 30 million toy figures have been sold. This XBox & Playstation game allows kids (their target audience) to buy a toy figure and once they set their model on the game console's portal (RFID reader) they can play that character in the game. One of the most interesting features allowed kids to take their character to a friends house and continue playing their character with all the gained experience. Due to the ongoing success, they are releasing an expansion this Christmas called Skylanders: Giants.

This technology could be adapted to embed RFID chips into the wargaming models we build. Combine this with a MS Surface and you've got yourself a formula for success.

 3. Holograms
Do you remember watching R2-D2 and Chewbacca play the hologram game in Star Wars? Who didn't think that was a cool idea? This one is kind of a wild shot, since there have been many attempts at bringing holograms to gaming specially in the arcade, and it hadn't met with much success.. Holograms most likely will be overshadowed by Augmented Reality. I still hope to see little projected men battling it out on a tabletop near you.

4. Minis-R-Us
Why wait for shipping when you can print your own models right now? With the development of rapid prototype machines and 3D printers this is coming to reality. Ideally a player could purchase a 3D file from his favorite game development company and load it into his own 3D printer. 10 minutes later, open the door and there is your new 28mm soldier. Prices have dropped significantly and quality has also increased dramatically. This will open the door to digital piracy, but hopefully if the gaming companies embrace this technology it can be limited. Another benefit is building your own stuff. Design software will no doubtingly get easier to use and the ability to design your own pieces (if not complete models) is fantastic.

5. Co-Location Gaming
Our lives and schedules tend to get pretty busy. One of the biggest challenges for any local gaming club is getting people to meet at any particular time and place. Technology can help with this. Vassal is the current king of remote gaming. It allows people to play their favorite miniature games online. I predict this will become much more prominent and supported more by established gaming companies. With the merger of miniature games and computers this will become a natural choice for many.

6. WarGamer Score
XBox Live and Playstation Network track players as they play through their favorite video games. It tally's success, failures and rewards ongoing play with unlockables or trophies. This is a natural match for miniature gaming. All the games that each miniature gamer plays would be tracked and scores kept. Do you want to know your record against your best friend using X army. Just look in your account. How about a quick glance at your opponent's record just before a tournament match. I predict that individual game companies (GW & PP) will release these initially, but an open-to-all-games platform become the predominate tool. Let the bragging rights commence.

How'd I do?
Do you think I missed any major or minor ideas? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.