Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Predisposition to Proxy

A unit from one of 40K's most e-famous counts as armies - Goatboy's Space Goats. Known to roll as Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines and Space Wolves.

While waiting for the next MERCS releases, I found my wandering brush painting up some old fantasy miniatures. I really enjoyed it! I haven't touched a fantasy model since I got Battle For Skull Pass in 2007.

I got to thinking that I would love to play a fantasy skirmish game too. I spent a LOT of time searching online and watching demo/how-to-play videos on fantasy skirmish games, but couldn't find anything appropriate or that I felt could compare with MERCS ruleset. Definitely nothing with the same style as MERCS.
After some discussion with my buddy, we came to the conclusion that we could just use MERCS rules and factions, but represent them on the board with a wide range of different models! We're already proxying FCC with Infinity models, what's one more step into the realm of proxy miniatures?

Define Proxy: The authority to represent someone else.

This whole idea opened a Pandora's Box of miniature fiending - this was the perfect excuse to be able to pick 5 models from any miniatures line, and paint them up to play as MERCS! I quickly went around scouting for models from different lines that I wanted to paint.

MERCS is a very unique game system, in that it actually LIMITS the number of models you can field (up to 5 models for a 5v5 game) and almost elminates the need for list-building.
I am in a rare situation where my MERCS buddy and I don't mind what miniatures we use, as long as we clearly identify which model represents what unit. Obviously this wouldn't fly in tournaments or in other gaming groups, but in Sydney we're the only two guys I know that play.
In my experience, some people hate the concept, but for me and my buddy it isn't an issue. We play enough to know what MERCS units have what abilities, and just want to take our gaming experience into new realms and worlds - but the most important thing is we play to have fun.

My favorite fantasy series - Gotrek and Felix from The Black Library

Don't get me wrong, the factions look great - I've bought the CCC, USCR and KemVar factions myself. But what's even better than the MERCS models, are the rules. I've done a short write-up here with the basic concepts - but what I've written there is pretty much it, and the only thing is missing from my write-up is how to apply these concepts to the table (which is relatively simple compared to other wargames).
I think the ruleset is perfect for what I'm looking for in a wargame - no list building with simple rules, which when combined with faction/unit abilities, make a fast-paced and tactics oriented wargame.

There are some limitations to our proxying though:
  • Models need to be within the 28mm-35mm (heroic) miniatures size range (luckily this is the most common size range!) for the purpose of determining ER and LOS.
  • To use the MERCS Faction Cards for movement, models need 30mm rounded bases
  • While WYSIWYG in terms of weapon loadouts isn't going to be enforced, models should look as close to the unit as they can, or at least distinct enough from the other models in the squad to be instantly recognisable. For example, the Assault Leader for each faction should look suitably commanding, the heavy weapon unit should have a bigger weapon than the other guys, and the special faction unit should look appropriately... special.
  • It's pretty rare for fantasy miniatures to carry guns, so while the Sci-Fi based rules of MERCS revolves around shooting, we'd have to use our imagination for Fantasy Scenarios - I dunno, bow and arrows, pistols, throwing knifes/axes/daggers or magic. We're going to pretty be rolling with a wizard did it...

I'm also excited about crafting some kind of fantasy-setting battleground, to use instead of my current sci-fi themed battleground, or our urban themed 2D sewers terrain.
I've got some fantasy, steampunk and sci-fi models in mind to use - stay tuned!

Sync out.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sefadu and Keizai Waza Teasers and Concept Art

This is the latest Status Update on the MERCS Facebook page: "Look for an announcement on sefadu this coming week."
So the Sefadu faction should be available soon - until then you can check out the faction artwork here and there's some discussion as to how the new faction will play here.

Following Brian's Twitpic, I also stumbled across this photo of the Sefadu and Keizai Waza cards in development:

Click to enlarge

As well as this image of the upcoming official MERCS maps:

Click to enlarge

Also on the MERCS Facebook page is an awesome piece of artwork for the upcoming factions - follow the link here, but for your convenience it's here too:

Click to enlarge

Sync out.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sync's [CCC] Squad finished... again!

That feeling of pride and accomplishment is now consistent when I look over at all my MERCS squads, and the CCC look great as the bright flagship faction they were intended to be.

Hopefully I'll actually get to finishing off my Infinity FCC now, but I have another MERCS project in mind I'm really excited about  - so stay tuned!

Sync out.

[CCC] Assault Leader... again!


Sync out.

[CCC] Heavy Assault... again!


Sync out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

[CCC] Sniper... again!

Sync out.

[CCC] Incinerator... again!

Sync out.

[CCC] Trooper... again!

I keep my painted models on a shelf next to my desk - where I do my painting. Every time I look over at my MERCS, I feel a sense of personal pride and achievement, which is usually let down when I look at my CCC.
They just didn't pop like my other squads did. I thought my USCR and my KemVar squads looked great, and that the collection was let down by my flat toned CCC.

Time for something drastic! I whipped out the brightest yellow I had - Sunburst Yellow from Citadel, and got to work.
I'm really happy with the results! They definitely don't look so flat anymore, although it was a challenge getting a consistent coat of paint on - the yellow was an unusual density.
It's also closer to the yellow used for the CCC faction artwork!

The following CCC posts won't have any text, just photos - stay tuned!

Sync out.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

[USCR] Squad Shots: Basing

So here are some group shots of my USCR - minus the Booster, just to show the snow basing I did for them.

I'm not sure what the product I used for snow is called (it's a German brand from a local hobby store) - I threw out the box when I transferred the stuff into a glass container, and hence can't recall the name.

Here's how I applied it though:
  • First apply the standard coarse modelling sand onto the bases. This is to get patches of rock to show through the snow, and also to help the snow material stick to the base better. Remember to seal the sand onto the base with some watered-down PVA glue after the initial glueing.
  • Once this is dry - basecoat in black, heavy drybrush in blue, then a light drybrush in white.
  • Mix a solution of PVA glue, water, and snow material to a consistent density - not solid, but not so wet that it drips from your application brush.
  • Apply the solution to the base where you want snow patches.
  • Dunk the base into the pure snow material, to get an extra layer of snow on there.
  • Leave to dry for about 6 hours.
  • Shake off, blow off and brush off any snow that isn't glued down.

Here are some more shots from a higher angle so the basing is a bit clearer (click the photos to enlarge):

Sync out.

Friday, June 17, 2011

[FCC] Liaison - is he EVER worth taking?

Is it ever worth including the Liaison in the FCC line-up? My initial thoughts are: "No, unless he is an integral part of a specific strategy you have in mind - and a definite no for a 3v3" but I'll examine it a bit more deeply.
I'll start by looking at each element of the unit, and deciding on whether or not it's a pro or a con.

Basic Stats
2MP - Fairly standard speed for a lightly armoured unit
Reaction 4 - Slower-than-average Reaction Value
AV1 - a minimal Armour Value, if hit then any weapon can deal Blood
AF7 - a high chance that his armour will fail
Courage 7 - a high chance to fail courage checks, making him prone to suppression
Repair 2 - a surprisingly good chance to repair

Machine Pistol
FN7 - standard FN for a trooper
WS2 - standard WS, and will draw blood on most units
2 attacks against 1 target - standard for troopers
Only Short-Range - this is the deal-breaker for this unit. 1 card length? Ew.

LDHF Barrier
+2FN to all ranged attacks, stacks with cover, not affected by AF - this is awesome, and counters the low AV and AF of the basic stats - you can't Blood what you can't hit.

Personal Abilities
This would be the driving reason behind taking the Liaison - granting Corporate Abilities to your Black Ops Agents.
There is a lot of potential for this ability to be a game-changer. Get a few of the enemy in your House Master's Sweep for example, then sending a second spray of fire into them, or maybe using it to finishing off a near dead enemy unit with another round of fire.

There's more blue than red up there, but the one deal breaker for this unit is that it's only weapon is short range. This has a massive impact on the unit, which I'll look at from an offensive and defensive perspective.

Offensively, the fact that he's only a threat at short range means that to do damage he's got to work his way to the enemy without being gunned down - which is possible due to his LDHF Barrier making him much harder to hit. If he is hit though, he'll definitely take Blood, and will likely Armour Fail too. If you've brought him along to grant Corporate Abilities to Black Ops agents, then you probably wouldn't want to put him in high risk situations though - I certainly don't like the idea of getting this unit up close and personal with the enemy. Getting him within one card of the enemy makes him prone to melee attacks too - which his LDHF Barrier does not protect against.

Defensively, this unit is solid. Get him behind cover away from the enemy, keep the rest of your squad in between him and the enemy advance, and he's sitting pretty with a modifier of at least +3FN (LDHF Barrier + Half Cover). Chances are he isn't shooting at anything anyway though, unless someone comes within short range - which means you'd keep him behind full-cover.

"Can you guys hurry up? Jersey Shore is on in 15 minutes..."

You're taking him either to grant Corporate Abilities, with  the bonus of providing his Communicator support. Both are good benefits to your other squad members, but I don't think it's worth taking him in the end. It comes down to whether or not the Corporate Abilities and Communicator are worth playing with one man down.
On the board he's either a very sub-par offensive unit, or will spend the game hiding out of LOS just to grant the buffs and not really contribute to the rest of the squad - you'll be playing a 5v5 with only 4 units on your combat front while your opponent has the full use of their 5 units.

He really just seems like dead weight to me, especially when the other FCC troop choices are solid.

A Response from Brian Shotton!
Not long after posting this entry on the MERCS forums, Brian Shotton (the lead on the MERCS rules and writer on the rulebook) responded with this:

I love him. I think he is possibly the most underrated MERCS in the entire line-up.

I also think his Machine Pistol owns. FN7 but only short range, means multiple shots in short range or melee. Typical FN for the Liaison are FN3/4/5. I will take two shots at these FN any day of the week. the trump-being able to take multiple shots in melee. This is very rare in MERCS.

Add to the the LDHF barrier (which is better protections than KemVar AC), and Communicator . . .  you got one bad ass perpetrator who's here to stay.

Oh, and his repair is 2+. Sign me up.

This highlights the fact that my playstyle is very conservative - maybe too conservative for the FCC Liaison. I have clearly underestimated his LDHF Barrier, and his potential in close combat for dishing out pain. In either case, more play-testing will be required, and I'll definitely have a good go at playing the Liaison much more aggressively.

Sync out.

Concept Art and MERCS Merchandise


Keith posted some of his latest artworks on the MERCS forums recently, below are the pictures for your convenience but you can check out the thread here. I've also added these images to the Sefadu Faction Art and CCC Faction Art pages too.

Kieth Lowe Interview

Capsfan34 was able to grab an interview with Keith Lowe, the artist and co-founder of MERCS. All the awesome models in the MERCS line are based on Keith's concept art, and Keith was kind enough to share his personal experiences with MERCS in the full interview here, at Hand-Cannon Online.
While the tone of the interview was dominantly personal, Keith did hint at his current MERCS project - "You wear it!" - so I'm looking froward to some MERCS branded stylins' in the near future.

The MERCS Crew rockin MERCS shirts - Keith is the guy being strangled.

Counters and Maps

Brian also let us know in this forum thread that the tokens and mats will be available soon! At Origins they will not be available for purchase, but will be available for show:

"For purchase, no. For show, yes. Both will be available quite soon, though. We just won't have any physical product until the end of July.
We are preparing a press release now." - Brian Shotton

Looking forward to having some MERCS terrain and counters!

Sync out.