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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Battle Report: Chaos Space Marines vs. Grey Knights (Part 2)

Hey there Chaos fans! Last time, we looked at a Kill Team mission whose result would have a big impact on the big battle. It is my forces of Chaos against my brother's Grey Knights. I won the Kill Team battle. As a result, the Grey Knight commander would be the target of assassination in the big battle mission. We selected our forces, and my brother placed his men right in the open, on the overpass. I thought this was a reckless and brazen move. I prepared to slaughter this servant of the false Emperor!

The target of my assassination- the Grey Knights Grand Master
With the Assassination mission, I was only allowed to field some of my units immediately. The rest were to be held in reserve. I put out my Dreadnought and my Black Legion Terminators at the start of the overpass. They would soak up a ton of fire, but I wanted my Dread to get in there quick. I had my Plague Raptors on the lower level. They would swoop in when the time was right. Finally, I put my Plague Terminators at the far end in cover. My plan was to march them through, and then get into a nice shooting position. This turned out to be my biggest mistake, however, as they were too slow getting through the cover in order to make a difference.

My initial strike force
Moving toward the enemy
My Dreadnought was the first thing to go down, naturally. He had soaked up a lot of firepower though (curses to the Psy-cannon), and I believed that I could get in my Black Legion Terminators into combat pretty quickly. My Raptors buzzed about below. Of course, I stopped in difficult terrain, and wouldn't you know it- I failed one of my dangerous terrain tests! And my Terminators were moving too damn slowly in the ruins. Thus, the best shot appeared to be my Raptors, despite the loss of one of them.

Ah! My old nemesis- difficult terrain!
Moving too slowly through difficult terrain
My luck improved next turn. My Khorne Bezerkers and my Khornate Daemon Prince made their reserve rolls (though the remainder of my Plague force had not arrived yet). My Black Legion Terminators made it into combat, killing all but one of the Grey Knights. He stood his ground, unfortunately.  This would give the enemy the opportunity to advance his second Terminator squad into my Black Legion. This would be their end, BUT... I hoped his Grand Master would be left exposed to my advancing Raptors. They had already shot at him from below the overpass and wounded him.
The Black Legion strikes!

"Advance... For the Emperor of Mankind!"
 My plan sort of worked. The Grey Knight Terminators moved toward the advancing Black Legion Terminators (and behind them, my Khorne Bezerkers and Khornate Daemon Prince). His Grand Master was by himself, with Grey Knight Marines just a bit away. Now, my Plague Marine Terminators were still too far away, so I decided to send in my Raptors quickly to try to finish the Grand Master off. Unfortunately, combat did not go my way on either front. The Black Legion Terminators were wiped out by the second Terminator squad, and the Raptors were unable to wound (my brother rolls very very very well- as he always has). I knew right there that he'd move in his Marines to kill off the Raptors. My Plague Marines had yet to appear (damn lousy reserve rolls). Of course, in his turn, he moved in the Marines and wiped off the Raptors.  He braced his Terminators and had them shoot at the advancing Khorne Bezerkers. His Dreadnought and Nemesis Dreadnight had previously appeared, and they also fired on my Blood God warriors.

My Plague Raptors won't be able to withstand the assault

The Khorne Bezerkers are shot at from all directions
My Plague Marines and my second HQ finally arrived- though too little too late to really turn the tide of battle at this point. I had one last card to play. My Khornate Daemon Prince had advanced under the overpass, and he could assault the Grey Knight Marines... the Grand Master was just too far away. If the forces of Khorne could tie him down long enough- my Plague Terminators were just about in position to open a hail of fire on the Grand Master. So- I went for it. My Daemon Prince assaulted the Marines. Unfortunately, though I killed a couple, they stood their ground.

Detained in another part of the city, the Plague Marines arrive too late to aid the forces of Chaos!

The Grey Knights face the Daemon Prince of Khorne!
In the Grey Knight's turn, my brother backed up his Terminators, continuing to gun them down as they ran up the overpass, meanwhile his Nemesis Dreadknight did the same. Remarkably, he didn't do that well, but he killed just enough to weaken the squad. However, the real fight was the Daemon Prince. Again, I killed too few, meanwhile, his Nemesis force weapons cut through the "stuff of the warp" and my Daemon Prince was banished back to the warp. The last chance I had vanished.

 The mission called for Random Game Length, and I let my brother roll. The game ended right there. He had won, as his Grand Master was left standing. I had given it my all- and I couldn't quite get to him.

The Grand Master survived the assassination attempt
Wow! This was a great game all around. Playing the Kill Team mission at the beginning was a great way to introduce the bigger game. It was tense, action packed, and added narrative punch to the main battle. It was also great to play a mission that didn't have "D3 objectives" or the like. It made the game feel fresh and interesting. My brother played a hell of a game. I thought it was reckless to put his men on the overpass, but what he did was bottleneck my foot troops- they had to climb the ramp to the overpass- and then they'd face massed Grey Knights.It was a good approach tactically, while also in keeping with Marine fluff- they fear nothing.

For my own part, I put the Plague Terminators too far away to matter in the game. My reserve rolls weren't great, either. When I later told my friends that I brought in a Daemon Prince, they said I was crazy, as Daemons get their asses handed to them by Grey Knights. I knew that too- but I figured what would be a battle between the Forces of the Emperor and the Slaves to Darkness without at least one Daemon? Perhaps it was a mistake, but the last, desperate battle between the Daemon Prince and the noble Grey Knights felt "legendary", and I had a blast with this game anyways- win or lose. Besides, I'll begin planning for my revenge... <insert evil Chaos fanatic laughter here>

Anyways, that's all for this Battle Report. Have a good one!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Battle Report: Chaos Space Marines vs. Grey Knights (Part 1)

Hey everybody! How's it going for you this week? Getting into any trouble? Well, we here at Chaos Corner certainly hope you ARE getting into trouble... just not TOO much trouble! Hehehe! Anyways, I'm here to give you guys a look at my most recent battle against the Grey Knights. However, I decided to use my Chaos Marines rather than my Dark Eldar. Truly, I haven't played with Chaos for nearly a year; I love the Dark Eldar, but I just wanted a break and go back to my Chaotic roots. My opponent and I also decided to try something different in our game. So without further ado, lets delve into this latest battle report...

My Plague Marines are in position... do the Grey Knights suspect?
So, my bother and I decided to have a match up this week. He's been enjoying his Grey Knights, and he decided to use them again. I decided to go with a Chaos force- not all Plague Marines, though. I have a lot of Chaos stuff, so I decided to go that route, though the forces of Nurgle would be a mainstay in whatever force I made.

However, something has been bugging me about 40K lately. The main book missions are all pretty much the same. Its always "capture these objectives". I really wanted to do something completely different. A different type of game altogether. So, I did a bit of research in all the rulebooks. I was reading Cityfight, and I came across a mission called "Assassination". Now, that was something different! A fun match-up with a different objective AND a different force organization chart. This would spice it up quite a bit!

 But then I wondered- who would be the attacker, and who would be the defender/the target of assassination? I continued to flip through my books and I found in Battle Missions rules for Kill Team. I said "Hey- this will work"! We would start our battle with a Kill Team scenario- whoever got below half strength and lost a Leadership Test first would lose. The loser would then be the target of assassination! It sounded like fun to me- so my brother and I decided to go for it...

The Grey Knights advance under withering fire... but the Emperor Protects!

We set up a Cityfight table- complete with GW ruins, factory pieces, and a bunch of the old Armorcast brick building ruins. I also decided to use an overpass set that I had custom built for me. With the terrain set up, we decided we'd have the Kill Team match on only one part of the table. Once we selected the one end, we made up our lists- which was set at 200 points. I picked a squad of (you guessed it) 5 Plague Marines, one with a Meltagun. For the remainder, I picked 3 Khorne Bezerkers (with one Plasma pistol). I thought it was a good set up at 203 points. Then my brother told me what he would be fielding- 5 Grey Knight Terminators. It just got interesting....

My Plague Marine is shot and killed by Storm Bolters
 In a terrible battle of the capital, a squad of Chaos Marines were doing a sweep- their mission was to locate the Grey Knights commander. As they made their sweep, they encountered 5 Terminators. If the Chaos Marines were to succeed, they would have to kill the Terminiators. If they failed, the Terminators might be able to trace them back- thus setting up the Chaos Lord for assassination. Pretty dramatic, huh?

The Kill Team mission was a lot of fun. With each man acting on his own, it made for some thrilling shoot outs and dramatic close combat moments. I moved some of  my Plague Marines onto the actory ruins, so they could be shooting at the approaching Grey Knights. Meanwhile, I sent two Khorne Bezerkers forward, and I sent 2 other Plague Marines with the third Khorne Bezerker around the side in an attempt to flank.

Desperate one on one combat

It was great- we traded shots as his Grey Knights advanced. However, their terminator armor was generally proof against my shooting. I had downed one, but he killed 2 Plague Marines and a Khorne Bezerker in his shooting. Finally, my flanking moved into cover, just as his Grey Knights got there. The one Khorne Bezerker charged in, but was sliced in half by the Terminator. My Plague Marine got to the upper level and fired- but still did not kill the Grey Knight.

Blood for the blood god!!

On the other side, the Plague Marines kept firing, but it was the lone Khorne Bezerker that fired his Plasma pistol, killing one Terminator. In the next volley, my Plague Marines and Khorne Bezerker survived the shots, and they shot back. Again, the Bezerker's Plasma pistol felled another Grey Knight, as did a Plague Marine's bolter. With a failed leadership roll, my brother was forced to concede. Chaos was victorious, and we "set up the field", ready to ambush and assassinate the Grey Knight commander.

So, we decided to make a list at 1600 points. Now, the force organization chart for Assassination is called "Hit and Fade". For the attacker, I can only use (at maximum) 2 HQs, 6 Elites, 2 Troops, and 3 Fast Attack. Not quite the list I was used to making, which is why I wanted to play this mission. So, what did I pick? A Khornate Daemon Prince and a Plague Terminator Lord (as HQs). I had  full squads of Plague Marines and Khorne Bezerkers. I also had a Plague Dreadnought as my only heavy firepower. For my other Elite choices, I ahd two Terminator squads- one set of Plague Terminators, and the other a set of Black Legion terminators. Finally, I had a squad of Raptors with the Mark of Nurgle. Ultimately, I was at 1593.

His attitude was "Come and get me!"
What I was not prepared for, was my brother's strategy. Rather than place his commander in a building or near cover, he placed him in the near-center of the Overpass. Yep- balls out right there, out in the open. He then surrounded him with 2 squads of Grey Knight terminators and another full squad of Grey Knight marines. That would be a lot to cut through. Would my brother's plan be brave and bold, or just foolhardy? Find out in our next posting!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Manufactorum Ruins (part 2)

Howdy to my fellow depraved followers of Chaos! I'm back with a brief look at a terrain piece I've been working on- another Manufactorum!

Now, I have a ton of terrain pieces already (my wife says I can't buy any more terrain till I put together what I already have- yikes!), but I do like making new ones from time to time. The truth is, I like playing with new terrain, as it makes the game more varied and good terrain gives a table and battle more character.

I already made a Manufactorum ruin a few months ago. I decided that I'd make the next piece "connect" with it. I want to create a real "factory complex"- winding catwalks, bombed out buildings, factory wreckage, etc.

 So, I made a catwalk to connect the two together. Using the same size base, I aligned the two catwalks to be directly opposite each other. Like this, it looks like one big factory. I did leave room on the grey base, so that I could add additional (though not permanent) wreckage, barrels, etc. I do that so models can walk on it, but if I want to hinder them more, just add more wreckage. This makes the terrain more versatile.

 Of course, I can separate them and use them as two different pices on opposite sides of the battlefield if I want. That's what I liked the most about this- the separate bases allow me to do either, which gives the terrain even more versatility.

Painting, I used the same techniques that I used on the last one. Scab Red is the basis of the factory, with plenty of rusty pipes, battle damage, and more. For the rust, I paint Scorched Brown, then I stipple Blazing Orange, and then Boltgun Metal. You can then use brown or green washes from there.

I confess here and now that I am not a "terrain master" at all. However, I am quite satisfied by the work I did here. On its own, its a nice piece, but when you combine it with the first piece, it makes a really nice, interesting, and connected Manufactorum.

I intend on making two more (thus, a four block total). I'll be using the same principles for the next two pieces, so I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Well, that's it for now. Hope you enjoyed the pics. Until next time...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Movie Reviews: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Hey there Chaos fans. Old man Chaos checkin' in. I've begun working on some 40K stuff again, after a bit of a hiatus. Sometimes you need to take a break from the hobby to recharge and think about your work. I'll be diving in with more Dark Eldar and terrain soon enough. At any rate, I will also be continuing my reviews of the Star Trek movies. This time, its Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Is this a worthy sequel to the legendary Wrath of Khan, or is this where the curse of mediocrity of the odd numbered Star Treks begins? Warp speed ahead!

Personal Background: This was the first Star Trek movie I ever saw in the theater. I recall my mother taking me and my brother to see it. I don't remember a ton about it, though I do remember the Enterprise blowing up. I remember my mom being misty-eyed when that happened. I also recall that I really like this one as a kid in general. As a kid I thought it was exciting and fun, and I remember loving the Klingon ship in this. I don't think I understood Spock coming back from the dead as such, at that age. As I grew older, I came to appreciate the superiority of Wrath of Khan; yet, this one still holds a special place for me as a Trek fan, even now. However, I can also admit that this one has serious flaws, in both logic and storytelling.

Basic Plot: The tragic events of ST II weigh heavily upon the crew of the Enterprise. The ship is severely damaged, those cadets are suddenly scarred and battle-hardened, and then of course, there's the loss of Spock. Though you might think that Kirk would suffer most, it is McCoy that has lost it- he has been acting like Spock in a disturbing fashion, and no one knows why. That is, until Sarek arrives to figure out just what has happened to his son. Kirk and Sarek figure out that McCoy has Spock's Katra, or essence. Sarek demands that both McCoy and Spock's body be brought back to Vulcan. This will be a challenge, since Spock's body is on the "Genesis Planet", which is now under quarantine by the Federation, with the exception of the science vessel the USS Grissom (which has Saavik and David aboard). Kirk decides to hell with the orders and steals the Enterprise (one of the best scenes in the movie, and indeed, the entire franchise, I feel) in order to retrieve the body.

Gives me goosebumps every time

Klingons presented as a real threat
Unbeknownst to Kirk, the Klingons want Genesis for their own (evil?) purposes. Commander Kruge has infiltrated Federation space, destroyed the Grissom, and is now holding Saavk and David hostage. And here's the wrinkle: Spock was regenerated by the Genesis effect, and is now a young, though rapidly aging, boy. It is up to Kirk to try to rescue them and make sure Kruge does not get the information he wants. Meanwhile, the Genesis planet is unstable, and collapsing- the experiment is ultimately a failure. Kirk must race against the Klingons AND the disintegrating planet- but the reward is great- Spock is alive, and, well, you can guess where it goes from there...

A good, but brief, battle
There's a good deal of action and fun to be had here. The camaraderie among the crew is a highlight for this movie. Kirk is always fun when he's rebellious, and its thrilling to see Kirk and company doing whatever it takes to help their friend Spock. When Kirk steals the Enterprise, it is hard not to be swept up in it. That scene is fun, exciting, and emotional. And the Enterprise's final battle against the Klingon ship, while far briefer than the superb battles in TWOK, is still really good, and Kirk's decision to destroy the Enterprise, lest Kruge gets a hold of it, is wonderfully executed. In fact, the whole movie moves along quite briskly- it never dwells on anything for too long, which in this case is really a strong point. 

Its great that Mark Leonard is back, but the Katra concept needs work
Unfortunately, there's quite a few problems with this movie. Now, no movie is perfect if you dissect it, but there are some major faults here. There are HUGE logic holes where the whole Katra process is concerned- I mean, why does Sarek need BOTH the body AND McCoy? Spock's body SHOULD be ashes... what does that mean for the process? Kirk never says "Oh, I bet the body IS intact"... They never explain it- Kirk takes a desperate gamble without ANY indication that Spock's body IS even physically there. Now, I get that this is sci-fi and all, but its all too flimsy. And does that mean Vulcans are immortal- that may be a bit too much to swallow, no?  A problem related to that is, suddenly, every Federation/Star Fleet guy is mean, nasty, or ignorant.Now, that was a plot device for the TV show on occasion, but here... it makes no sense. Perhaps they MUST quarantine the planet but... why doesn't Starfleet Commander Morrow simply tell Kirk "You can't go, but I'll get Grissom to investigate, since they are there already"? That would be more in keeping, no? And then there's the other guys: the guards, the captain of the Excelsior- they are all bastards to a man- for NO reason (the "Don't get smart, tiny" guy is the worst offender). Now, I know this is to show how Kirk and Co are fighting the odds, but this is just excessive and frankly, makes Starfleet look like both nasty people AND fools all at once.

Themes/Concepts: Although there are flaws to the plot, it is here in this category that ST III falls the hardest. Plot holes can be forgiven if the movie ties it all together well OR has something powerful to say. TMP, though ponderous and wooden, had powerful ideas about "creation", "purpose", and what man's role in the galaxy might truly be. For TWOK, the themes of confronting death, finding one's "place" in life, the cycle of life and death, and the question if man has the right to wield the powers of creation and destruction.

Willing to risk it all in the name of friendship
In ST III, well- there are no really grand Sci-Fi themes here, which is a double tragedy, since Nimoy, as actor, has always been the smartest and staunchest defender of Trek and its "big ideas". But, as director of ST III, he loses sight of that. Yes, "friendship" is there, as is the nice line "the needs of the one, outweigh the needs of the many". Also, I see the parallels to religion here, as Kirk must descend into a fiery "hell" to battle and "resurrect" Spock. However, that's it. No bigger themes, or questions, or truths. The modern and action packed ST '09 has ideas about the nature of time fixing itself and if you really can go back and change time/destiny. Heck, even ST V, the black sheep of the family, manages to ask the question "does God exist in this future/universe" in its own way. Here, that's not the case. It's all about bringing Spock back, without doing any heavy thinking. Which is too bad, since Trek SHOULD be pursuing bigger concepts.

Kirk fights in "hell" to save Spock
Characters/Acting: One of the things that saves ST III is the acting, which is really saying something since the lynchpin for the crew, Spock, is not around till the very end. Shatner does good work anchoring the movie. His performance is not as good as TWOK, to be sure, but he does well showing that Kirk is willing to lose it all to save Spock- his reaction to the threat "if you do this you'll never sit in that chair again" as he steals the Enterprise is great. His reaction to David's ultimate fate is also really good, as he falls out of grief. However, the scene is nowhere near as poignant as his work at the end of TWOK. His fight with Kruge at the end is well done, and Kirk even offers mercy to his enemy, even though he killed his son is a nice touch, and Shatner handles it well.

De Kelly also does great as McCoy. Since he is technically harboring Spock's consciousness, Kelly is essentially playing a man who has to souls in him. When he talks of "going home to Vulcan", the look in his eye is downright scary- has McCoy lost his mind? Then, as he jumps between "McCoy" and "Spock" in the bar is both tragic and humorous, and Kelly handles it so well. And then, after all he's been through to rescue Spock, the Vulcans explain that he's in even more danger, and he says deadpan "I choose the danger... hell of a time to ask". Again- Kelly nails that fine line so well.

Kruge- ruthless but also desperate
Special mention should be made for Christopher Lloyd, who plays Kruge. Now, some suggest that Kruge is a poor man's Khan, but this critique is wrong. In terms of plot, Kruge is just the final hurdle for Kirk and crew to overcome- he is not the "villain of the piece" as Khan is. He's not supposed to be. However, Lloyd does a great job of making Kruge a great Klingon and adversary. He is merciless, cruel, and actually, desperate. He fears that Genesis means the end of his people, and he will do anything to steal the secrets of it. Lloyd carries that through the entire film- when he fights the Enterprise, his desperation is palpable, as is his reactions to his men dying on an exploding star ship. His acting, though slightly odd for what we think of today as "Klingon" is actually very memorable and entertaining. Looking at him in make-up, shooting his own officer, threatening to rape Saavik, giving the order to kill a hostage... I would not want to fuck with this Klingon. And that makes Lloyd very effective.

Great effects here, and very sad for longtime fans
Special Effects: The effects are quite good, though nothing tops the Nebula in TWOK in this. The Klingon Bird of Prey ship is great to see (its first outing), as is its De-cloaking effect. The Earth space station is simply enormous, seeing the scale as star ships PARK within it- amazingly well done, as is the scene of the Enterprise escaping. The destruction of the Enterprise is also a great special effect- its a bit brief, but it packs a wallup as you see the saucer section explode.

Musical Score: Again, as with TWOK, James Horner did the score. You either love him or hate him. I love his music, and its the same here. Yes, he lifts some cues/whole tracks from TWOK, but it works in the movie. His original stuff is really good too- the music at the opening credits is similar to the opening theme of TWOK,  but also different and more uplifting. His score during the battle with the Klingon ship and the destruction of the Enterprise is top notch, as his his "Arrival at Vulcan" theme.

Spock's return isn't the only legacy of ST III
Lasting Legacy: The first use of the Bird of Prey, the big space station, and a close look at Vulcan are some legacies (great job bringing back Mark Leonard). The real legacy, of course, is bringing Spock back. It is one of the most engaging what-ifs in Star Trek- what if they didn't bring Spock back? Would Trek have survived? IF yes, it certainly would have been a different animal then- would it have been more somber? One can only speculate, and that's a bit of fun. The other, if less considered legacy, is how ST III undoes just about ALL of TWOK. Now, I don't mean Spock's death. I mean other things. Project Genesis, a keen sci-fi concept all by itself, is discredited here as a failure. In TWOK, the idea that mankind had advanced so far, having the ability to wield the powers of creation, was so powerful for that movie's themes, but it was also perfect sci-fi. Here, it gets erased- it was a bad idea, an accident- we'll destroy the planet, and then forget about it. A blah way to cut out such a cool sci-fi concept. ST III also collapses the idea of the cycle of life and death in another way- David, Kirk's son and "future", if you will, is dead. And Saavik, who seemed to be a successor to Spock in TWOK, is relegated to nursing Spock as he gets better, even well... I won't say, though it has to do with Pon Farr. In TWOK, Saavik was an interesting character, a bit complex. Here, she's straightforward and frankly, bland. Her character will vanish in ST IV. Its too bad that ST III erased some of the best ideas in TWOK. Again, TWOK isn't the "be all, end all" for me- it just feels as if ST III wanted to bring back Spock so bad, that everything else that came before could be dispensed with without any fuss or thought. This, I think, is what caused the idea that "odd numbered Treks are cursed"... I don't know if this movie deserves that, but these faults don't help it- the last legacy of ST III.

Well, the nostalgia in my heart wants to give this a 3 out of 4 Marks of Chaos. I loved it as a kid, and I still enjoy it very much. But, my logical brain tells me that this could have been better- and it is not up to par with its immediate predecessor. It's NOT cursed or bad, it just isn't as good as Trek can be. Therefore, I give this 2 1/2 out of 4 Marks of Chaos.

Until next time...