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Monday, July 1, 2013

Getting into Vassal and a Pseudo-BatRep vs Space Marines at 600pts

I don't know why I never did this before. Here I am in the middle of nowhere with no way to play 40k unless I travel four hours and spend over 100 USD in train fares, and I wasn't using the only means to play games on the internet. Well for whatever reason, I've finally come around and started using Vassal. If you don't already know, it is a board game simulation engine that uses modules full of sprites and menu options to help people play games over the net. There is a 40k module, among many more others, so if you want to get into this all you will need to do is download both of those from the links I put in above.

At first I had misunderstood what Vassal even is. I thought it made a video game out of 40k, so I was looking around for rules updates for Eldar and wondering how they keep up with the releases. But it turns out that it really is a board game simulator. All it provides is a random number generator, a scale map and sprites to put on it. It gives you a way to measure and move pieces. That's it. It feels delightfully old skool to play on, like PC games 25 years ago that needed manuals and maps to be played.

I've had a chance to sit down and play two games so far. One at 550pts and one at 600. The app took a little getting used to, but once I got the hang of it I found it's not hard to play with at all. It does seem to take much longer to play the game and some guys over at DakkaDakka said the same, so I suppose there's no helping that. I feel using Skype or something to talk while playing instead of typing might go a long way to speed things up.

The games I played were really fun. Using Vassal allows me to play with models I don't own so I'm loving that I can test stuff out that I want to buy (not so sure my wife will like that when I order a bunch of stuff to kitbash decent Jetbike from though lol). The first game I played I tried out a small mech force and found myself facing off against IG with something like 10 autocannons and 3 Chimeras. I knew it'd be rough when I saw how much high-strengh dakka he had, but things went downhill a little faster than I expected due having the initiative stolen and rolling a pair of unlucky turns. Still it was a great learning experience for both the program and for fighting Chimeras, which I'd had little experience with.

The second game I played I actually got a few pictures from, though I did forget the early turns. I ran some fun stuff that I'd wanted to try out. I had a Loltarch (Jetbike, Mantle of the Lauging God, Banshee Mask, Laser Lance, Fusion Gun), 2x3 WRJ with a ShuCan each, 4 Shining Spears (Exarch w/ Star Lance and H&R) and 2x5 Warp Spiders. My enemy played SM and had a Librarian, a Techmarine w/ Thunder Fire Cannon, 5 Scouts with sniper rifles and a heavy bolter, a stock Predator, a stock Razorback and a Tactical Squad with a flamer, a plasma cannon and melta bombs. Unfortunately I could tell he would struggle against my list when I saw what he had. I have tons of stuff to kill MEQs with and more than enough anti-tank to kill two vehicles that didn't really have the firepower to scare me much. The only things that really worried me was the plasma cannon nuking my Spiders and the TFC being able to wound my Loltarch through his cover save.

Hm, it seems I don't know how to take photos correctly yet. I just have this one. You can see from this how the game went though. He deployed everything in the top left and had his Tac Squad in a single unit of 10. I played very aggressively, turbo-boosting to assault from turn two. My Shining Spears ate a lot of fire and I lost everyone but the Exarch in turn one, but the Exarch did me proud. He shot and assaulted the Razorback turn two. Between him and the WRJs they brought it down to 1HP and destroyed the heavy bolter. Unlucky, but it wasn't a problem because my opponent tankshocked him and he lanced the last HP away with a Death or Glory attack! Very exciting moment because I rarely try my luck at that.

In the top left you can see where my Loltarch massacred the Techmarine in combat. Using his warlord trait he also helped me deep strike 5 Spiders who failed miserably at nuking the predator with side armor shots. Even though they didn't do what I wanted them to that turn, I did see the huge potential battle focus has for improving DS options.

On the next turn I shot his Scouts with everything I had. It took everything too, because the Techmarine had given them 3+ cover in those ruins. At the end of it there was only the Libby alive and my Loltarch assaulted with my SS Exarch. The Exarch accepted the challenge and lanced the Libby with his S8 Star Lance to cause instant death.

My opponent was a good sport about the game and kept playing even though things looked pretty hopeless at this point. I blew up the Predator with melta from my Loltarch, shot up the Tacticals and lost connection when they were running away. 

I don't know if I'll meet him again, but he was a nice guy and I'd love to play him again. I'd like to help him fine tune his small-game list because I feel like he's spending a lot on some options and not getting enough firepower out of them. It's unfortunate that my army was perfect for killing the targets he presented me too. On my side, I think the only thing I'd really have done differently is back off with my Autarch and use his full movement before assaulting. On the first turn I put him way too close to the Techmarine. My opponent didn't think to assault, but if he had I might have died instantly to a powerfist attack. Might have killed the Techie first too; can't really tell. But I'd rather not play so sloppy that I put myself in a position to find out. With a likely assault range of 17+ inches, I should have played at my speed advantage and positioned better. Oh well, glad to learn a lesson from not getting pummeled. That's always nice.