Monday, September 28, 2015

The Battle Cattle!


Whilst The Buffet Assault Group is a relatively disciplined unit, there are always a few bad apples. Most are allowed to collect their personal effects, their paycheck (minus any damages resulting from their actions) and a taxi (of some sort) to the nearest space port. Most go, but a few beg for a 2nd chance, knowing that life in any other Merkz unit will be far worse than what they had as a TBAGer. For these unfortunate souls, the only option is a tour as a Battle Cattle handler.

'Battle Cattle' is a generic term for whatever critters The Buffet Assault Group has at the time for use as shock assault units. Slavering and panic stricken livestock rampaging towards the enemy makes for one hellova distraction (and if they make contact, they hit like a truck!). Currently, the TABGerz employ the infamous Dire Swine, a genetically modified beast of burden that's fairly docile (when drugged), but has the general temperament of a Terran Hippo.

Off of the battlefield, handlers have the dreadful task of caring for, feeding, and cleaning the stalls of their Dire Swine charges (yes, they shovel a lot of shit!). Enroute to the battlefield, they have to walk as Dire Swine hate to be ridden, and the APC crews refuse to allow (quote) beasts with no bowel control on board.

Once on the battlefield, the handler keeps the swine moving via hauling/tugging on the collar of the alpha male (the females will follow) towards the enemy. At just the right moment, the handler 'hits the switch' and an injector attached to the collar injects Adrenalin straight into the Alpha's system. In the ensuing drug induced berserk rage, anything in front of the crazed beast is charged and either crushed underfoot or viciously attacked by both the alpha and the following females (they also have injectors which activate via remote when the alpha's injector fires). Then all the handler has to do is sit back and watch the carnage.

Simple right?

Broken arm in-progress...
Battle Cattle, the other other white meat!

Try it sometime. 

It is all to easy to hit the switch at the wrong time during the chaos and confusion of the battle-in-progress. As such, injuries among handlers are all too common (and deaths by stampede or dragging the unfortunate handler into the melee are not to uncommon either). Thus, a tour of Battle Cattle duty is seen as something of a death sentence. Some handlers survive their tours and return to the ranks, but invariably, there are a few individuals who are a 'little off', who choose Battle Cattle duty as their primary and preferred responsibility.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Cleaning up resin minis' bad name...


For years I've had a love/hate relationship with Forgeworld. Lots of us have...

Forgeworld produces some of the industry's most awesome models, but in general they're so horribly expensive that I actually referenced it in this blog's banner. Seemingly, in equal proportion to the high price is their piss-poor quality control of their products (one of my better rants in that Air bubbles, miscasts, warped pieces (gun barrels especially),  Gates in the WORST places, gates that were so large and still attached that they broke the parts they were attached to in shipment, silicone mold release that won't come off no matter how many times you scrub the parts, the list goes on and on. Yes, FW has excellent customer service, and its not all bad (just 'mostly'), but I've just come to understand that resin is a nightmare product to work with.

With North American manufacturers, the story starts to differ a bit. With Heavy Gear I've had a near flawless tank, and a (pre-blog) walker that was on par with Forgeworld in all respects. My Grymn flyer and its base from Bombshell and Secret weapon miniatures were cleaned of the mold silicone, but they're simple models (though the flyer has some gate issues similar to the one linked above). Xmarx's CBT terrain was fine, but again, really simple in design. Zombiesmith...despite remaking molds before sending me replacements, considering all 3 resin vehicles (simple as they are), I still can't honestly recommend them for resin (just stick with their metal Quar!).

So, expecting the worst (as usual), I steeled myself for another resin nightmare when I received my new 15mm Khurasan tanks Thursday. However, that nightmare is not to be it, actually they're as close to flawless as I've ever seen in a resin model! Seriously, why can't other resin manufacturers, and Forgeworld specifically given the horrid prices deliver quality like this? (and god I hope this isn't just a fluke either)

Near flawless casts, silicone release already cleaned off, gates REMOVED and sanded flat, the guns/hatches are metal (and also flawless), and most importantly, the two tanks together cost $2 less than the typical 40k plastic character clamp pack (i.e.: $33). Check em out:

Note: these are sitting on a 1" grid.
I love em!
There it is, the worst of the 2 casts...otherwise known as the only flaws!
Sanded off gates, what a concept!
Uh yeah, buh-bye Forgeworld! There will be no more of your over-priced garbage for me! Although with 40k quickly falling towards the bottom of the list of my favorite games, that's probably little surprise right?

Monday, September 21, 2015

The opposition has been spotted...


Notta whole lot to blog about as there's been little to no hobby time of late. However on Friday Waaargh Pug IM'ed me to let me know he took the plunge and bought some 15mm goodies, huzzah! He ordered a squad or two of infantry from Clear Horizon Miniatures, along with this:

Hrmm, looks like I'll have to get an air defense unit...

Oooooh, that's pretty! I'm more of a Tanker in vehicle preference but he's all about dropships. So we ought to have a good variety of units on the table when we get to play instead of relatively similar forces.

Speaking of playing, Neverness seemed a bit incredulous Saturday when I told him I only had one opponent for Gruntz. I replied with 'its not much different than Battlech' (which probably didn't help my case as he doesn't like that game). However it occurred to me afterwards that my for first two years of playing 40k, I also only had one opponent, and that turned into a 20+ year gaming hobby so...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Comparing Apples and Oranges...

Okay, so figuring it out from the point of view of starting from scratch, here's a comaprison of what I've purchased for Gruntz vs. the 40k Spess mahreen equivalent (because lets face it, 90% of players start with marines.

Also I'm not going with the Dark Vengeance boxed set as (1) not everybody starts with it and (2) there's no Gruntz equivalent which more or less renders this whole exercise in comparing the two pointless. Especially as the forces contained in that set don't really compare well with what I bought for Gruntz. The DV box is also intended to be split by 2 new players (which is amusing as only veteran players who have pre-existing armies for the minis contained in the set tend to actually do that).

"He's the Orange!'
 This is a good size comparison photo (which tend to be surprisingly hard to find in google searches...

Anyways, first up buying the game rules:

Gruntz rulebook PDF and unit builder app: $14.00 (+$10 for printing out and spiral binding @ kinko's)
40k Big Rulebook and SM codex ebook: $145.99

A difference of: $121.99! (ouch!)

Next up, minis (all of which were purchased from Khurasan miniatures with the lone exception of the commander's mech which came from The Ion Age):

(1) APC
(1) Tank
(20) Infantry
(3) specialist squads (similar to IG heavy weapon teams)

Gruntz minis total: $79.42 and just short of 250 points as built. 
That point total could go higher if I beefed em up a bit but I've kept em simple to start with and that's a decently sized starter army anyways.

(1) Rhino
(1) Predator
(20) Tactical Marines
(5) devastator marines
(1) dreadnought

(nope, no GW links as y'all already know what those look like)

Minis total: $267.25, and about 750 points (give or take) which is also a good starter size.

Minis come to a difference in price of: $187.83 (again, ouch!) Actually it would be worse as the Gruntz also includes shipping costs, whereas the 40k doesn't. The 40k costs also don't involve sales tax, and since GW's NA HQ is in Memphis, buying from them online would involve sales tax just like buying their toys at the FLGS would.

Total Gruntz Start up cost: $103.25
Total 40k Start up cost: $413.15

For a difference of: $309.90 (triple ouch!)

Increasing the armies from there won't get any cheaper for the 40k player (assuming ebay isn't involved) but is debatable for the Gruntz player as I could redo the unit stats, increasing their skills and their point costs free of charge (I would have to buy more stuff though).
Now, obviously Gruntz is not the (gamers) household name that 40k is, and I've yet to get in a game to see just how much I'll like it in the long run either, but still...most games of 40k these days feel like a pay-to-win scenario which just plain sucks! Personally, 7th ed as whole hasn't been any fun in general, as it feels like it has far more cons than pros to it. Apparently I'm not alone (locally Infinity has all but replaced 40k at the FLGS' game night), so its not hard to see why GW is hemorrhaging players and having difficulty finding new ones with new army start up costs like that. Don't even get me started on the AoS debacle! What's the latest on that? $100 for SIX Khorne Blood Crushers...curiously with most every release, the WHFB cost too much excuse for AoS's existance seems hollower and hollower.

Oops, back on topic...

Speaking of hemorrhaging players, the Gruntz purchases listed above came out of my now depleted Plastic 30k Fund that I had built up. Mk IV tac marines isn't what I was hoping for and given GW's opaque marketing scheme of: just have a lot of money ready to impulse buy our releases with no forewarning of what they are or when they'll come out... 

Meh, why did I put up with their crap for so long? Honestly it feels like I've achieved escape velocity and I don't see any reason to look back (unless I'm looking waaaaaaaaaaaay back towards GorkaMorka, Mordheim and the goodies from GW's long since past 'Golden Age').

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Buffet Assault Group

That was the name of a little, 1-man corp I had in EVE Online (the corp's description was: Coming to a Golden Corral near you...). I created it (1) because the name amused me (it came out of an in-game convo of some sort) and (2) so my alt character would no longer be subjected to the endless stupidity of the NPC chat channel. However, with the sale of that alt. the corp EVE. It will soon live again however, via my 15mm Gruntz army.

As I said last week, I hadn't read any of the fluff for Gruntz, but that didn't stop me from making my own, and still amused by that name, The Buffet Assault Group has now landed in the realm of 15mm and is awaiting its first recruits (who are still out in the mail somewhere).

Any similarity to Golden Corral's logo is purely coincidental...

Like most Merkz units, The Buffet Assault Group was formed around a core of retiring Interstellar-military Gruntz. Unsurprisingly, they were fed up with the low pay, poor equipment, lousy living conditions, and especially the bad food provided by their employers. Fairly typical complaints that many, if not most in their profession (both friend and foe) could easily relate too. Pooling their resources and expertise instead of reenlisting, they formed their own Merkz unit instead.

Dubbing their new outfit: The Buffet Assault Group (after an inside joke of some sort), and referring to themselves as 'T.B.A.G.erz', they built their unit around the core ideal of Merkz FIRST!. Merkz FIRST! doesn't mean that they're afraid to stick their necks out when the shit hits the fan, but rather that their Merkz are well taken care of both on and off of the field in terms of training, equipment, living standards and (perhaps most importantly) the food needed to be really good too!

Overall, the Group's combat prowess isn't exceptional when compared to their competition. However  the one area where they do excel, is in offering potential employers a fighting force of Merkz who are both highly disciplined (Because if you're a fuck up, you're out! and you know that other Merkz units won't be nearly as good to you as we are!) and of exceptionally high morale. That's something even interstellar-government forces can't offer! Happy Merkz tend to stay out of trouble, and the Tbagerz have had few issues with the 'locals' during their contract deployments thus far. There have been suspicions surrounding the Group's so-called BlackOps platoon on occasion, but no evidence of criminal activity has ever been proven. 

Whilst numbers will always vary, The Buffet Assault Group tries to hold its numbers to an understrength battalion consisting of a combat infantry company (the 'Alphas') and a support  company (everyone else). This small size makes them better suited to corporate installation and/or small settlement defense. That said, they are capable of (limited) offensive operations in all ground based environmental conditions.

The Buffet Assault Group operates as follows:

Alpha Company: The proverbial 'boots on the ground'. The Alphas are the best 100 (or so) men and women who will get your shit done! In battle they wear armored Haz-Suits and are armed to the teeth! The Merkz of Alpha Company pride themselves on being the 'meat and potatoes' of the Buffet!

Bravo Platoon (a.k.a.: BlackOps): Bravo platoon like to think of themselves as the 'Black Heart and Happy Soul' of the Tbagerz. The menergie of specialists in Bravo are in charge of medical care, supplies and logistics, and of course, there's the vaunted cooking staff! If the Tbagerz need it, Bravo gets it! Always via all of the appropriate channels of course! If those channels run dry…well, Bravo comes thru anyway. Don't ask how, they just do (which has led to the platoon's unofficial 'BlackOps' moniker).

Charlie Platoon: Charlie is Command! Every officer regardless of which company or platoon that they're in, technically belongs to 'Charlie'. Meaning the Charlies are responsible for everything! From long term 'stratergy' and tactics in the field, to training, negotiating contracts, taking care of and maintaining the discipline of their Merkz, running interference for Bravo, and administrative bullshit up to and including paper pushing, Charlies do it all. Whilst they're called Charlies by everyone in the battalion, the Charlies often refer to themselves as the Migraine Platoon.

Delta Platoon: Delta is the unit's vehicle troop. Delta members like to say that 'Alpha may be the meat and potatoes, but Delta is the gravy'. Delta operates and maintains the Group's combat vehicles, mechs, 'toys' and the Groups' beloved Golden Corral (a refurbished military aero-space landing ship named for an ancient Terran Buffet restaurant chain). To keep everything running smoothly, Delta works closely with Bravo platoon, and sometimes so closely that all to often the Charlies can't figure out who belongs to which platoon!


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pondering 15mm games...

...yes, because the Grymn aren't small enough already.

Actually I've been pondering 15mm games for close to a year now, and yesterday I took the plunge and bought a small (no pun intended) number of minis to try em out. Manufacturers and game systems come in myriad forms, and especially in terms of systems, its hard to know what is good and what isn't (add in subjective, opinionated reviews and it becomes a total mess). The minis themselves (infantry anyways) aren't anywhere near as detailed as their 28mm counterparts, but when they're that friggin' small, does it really matter?

I opted for the Gruntz rule list as the cover art as well as several illustrations inside were created by an artist I like: Jake Parker. Yeah, that's all it took...but, thus far from what I've read it looks kinda fun. There are also images from a wide range of mini companies contained within, which gives more ideas on who to buy from. There's fluff as well, I haven't gotten to that part yet, but that hasn't stopped me from already creating my own, lol. Please, don't tell me that surprises you?

For now I'll save that stuff for a later post.

There's an army/unit creator in the back of the book or if you'd like, there's a downloadable app for $5 that'll speed up the process considerably (and yes, its even Mac compatible, huzzah!). All forces will be built off of the same point values. Whilst that may sound kinda generic, just think of 40k's point system where it often seems like the so-called game designers are pulling numbers out of a hat (or worse yet, marketing is giving you free rules/units if you spend MOAR!!!). Then again there's the Age of Sigmeh designers who couldn't even be bothered with doing even that much, so I guess I ought not complain right?

Here's what I bought (unpainted of course):

Squad Sgts. x4 plus a casualty.
Basic Grunts x6 (even though 7 are pictured).
2 heavy weapon teams and a sniper.

Anyways, another selling point is cost. 15mm minis are significantly cheaper than 28mm ones. I got the 16 minis above from Khurasan miniatures for a mere $18.07! Hell, super heavy tanks run from $18 to $35! (those three anyways) I say that because, there is always an exception...yes the one below is $60, but its HUGE, just look:

lol, I'll wager that a few Tau players' gears will start grinding when they see this!

So anyways, that's my latest side project/folly. Current out of pocket expenses for the PDF ruleset and the minis come to a total of: $15.25. That sum would be a bit higher, but I sold off a half dozen CBT tanks that I never used. Still, even if I ignored that, how often could you realistically get your feet wet in a game system for under $30 (yes, besides X-Wing)?

Friday, September 4, 2015

The latest survivors of the simple green...


Invariably, when some paint jobs have reached the end of their useful lifespan, the model wearing that paint often hasn't. Some go onto to ebay, and others go into the Simple Green. Here are the latest wrecks (post scrubbing and rinsing) to emerge from the green (which had turned black after a few weeks of soaking):

Ya know you like those Necron Gauss hatch hinges!

This poor rhino came to me via ebay. It served with me as an Inquisition Rhino for most of its career, plus the Dark Angels (briefly), and going by the colors layers discovered, it apparently came to me as a Space Wolf vehicle. Its next stop: 30k.

I'm pretty sure there's hull damage under the pasticard on the front hull, so I'll leave it be. A lot of the little gribbly bitz on the tank were lost during the paint scrubbing, but a recent sift thru my bitz box found replacements for all those lost, and some more fun options as well.

He will have a Forgeworld backpack at least...
 Sticking with 30k, here's the former Storm Wardens' Captain I killed Draigo. Yes, it hurts to erase such a glorious history but as he's one of the few survivors of an army that went the way of ebay, this guy too will join my 30k Blackshields. 

Then there's this little bastard!

Still not thinking the new paint will include a red coat...

Its rare that a simple scrubbing with a toothbrush doesn't remove all of the paint aside from a few little bits in the nooks and crannies. However this fucker required an exacto to scrape a hellova lot of it off! Plus, his mace (always easily bendable) snapped off, revealing an air bubble in the cast which explained that issue. So he got a simple choppa instead.

He also got a shield (luckily that's a vaible piece of wargear in GorkaMorka) as when I removed the old shield, it was a really bad hackjob underneath! Either I had just gotten my dremel, or was still using a rasp and files. Either way, that had to be covered! he also got the only Ork slugga I found in my bitz box!

Also, just an FYI, this coming holiday weekend will be spent with family in the mountains of North Carolina, so don't look for a Monday update. Instead you'll have to wait till Thursday.

Have a good weekend folks!