Weeks 2-3: After spending the first week cleaning and spraying, I was ready to start painting.
I like to start most projects by looking on the net for other inspiration. The standard colour scheme seems to be a red skin tone for the Abyssals and all the pictures I could find showed very traditional red demons with bone coloured horns & fangs and steel weapons.
Which all seemed a bit dull.
I decided to try something new (for me). The Abyssals are meant to be beings from another reality that have pushed through into the world of Mantica.
So to continue this other worldly feel I decided to have their skin tone transition from one colour to another, for their weapons to be made from a magical jade and their teeth to be blue.
There had been a lot of talk about the new contrast paints so I thought I’d give them a go. All the pictures I’d seen had shown that flesh, cloth and soft items worked well but metal and hard edged armour looked a bit naff. So I decided to try a few of the reds on the skin.
I’ve used a combination of two red tones and a flesh tone to try and get the transitions.
All the other areas: weapons, cloth and armour I painted in a more traditional manner of base layer, wash and highlight.
The miniatures took the paint well and overall I think they came out ok. I’m not that great at blending but I think the effect worked.
Word of warning to the wise, the resin minis have some sort of coating; if you don’t clean the mini and cover every inch of the model with the undercoat then the contrast paints don’t adhere to it. I had a few small areas where I slapped the paint on and then it pooled away from the mini.
The fortnight flew by and as the time passed I saw Olly, Mark and Steve all finish painting their warbands. It was great to see the warbands come to life but really reinforced how slow I am at painting.
After a hard fortnights slog (I don’t normally get much time to paint during the week) I managed to get 5 of the models finished. Only 13 more to go.
We agreed that our first game would be 100 points so I was pretty confident I could finish another model and make that limit in time. Hopefully…
Week 4: Our first games.
There was lots of chatter on our messenger group about the coming club night. We would have a good turn out and at 100 points we all managed to get a fully painted warband each. I’d spent the week reading the Vanguard rule book. It seemed pretty a pretty straightforward warband sized game with bespoke power dice and a lot of modifiers for combat. Like most people of my age time is getting harder and harder to find to learn, paint and play the mass battle games of my youth so I thought if it’s half way decent it should be fun.
Northern Alliance v The Forces of the Abyss
My first game was against Rob with his northern alliance and we decided to just run at each other and see how moving and combat worked.
Rob went for quite a wide spread to his warband I assume in an attempt to get round my flanks. I opted for a more snug deployment as these games usually rely on you applying force en masse.
Rob had chosen a commander but I couldn’t afford one as I’d chosen a large monster (the Despoiler). Even in the first turn I noticed the lack of power dice. Rob was able to run and move while I lumbered forward.
I was already thinking this wasn’t going to go well.
When our warbands hit in the middle we learnt the difference between grunts and warriors. A grunt who reaches zero wounds dies immediately, a warrior however is just knocked down and has to take a modified nerve test.
The grunts disappeared quickly banished back to their realm or died in gouts of blood while the warriors fell over to get back up in their turn.
I also learnt that ganging up on someone really helps! Additional dice and modifiers stack really quickly in this game turning even puny grunts into killing machines with three friends for help.
I had set the Despoiler up to the right of my battle line with the hope he could stop Robs guys flanking me. Shortly after battle was joined the Despoiler hit one of Rob’s dwarves and turned him into mush. He then used his follow up move to swing round and face the warrior moving in on him.
On the opposite flank Rob’s boss moved in to attack my Succubus Lurker. In a one on one fight she stood no chance and was slapped down, to bravely pass her nerve test and lie there groaning.
Here we made our one major error of the game. If your warrior is down and attacked again they can defend but they don’t get to take another nerve role. We missed this passage and so the Lurker managed to lie there for 3 more rounds as Rob’s boss with mounting frustration kept kicking her and she kept passing her nerve test.
In the middle of the field our warriors faced off and rob threw an amazing four eights from a warrior to flatten my Abyssal guard. It all seemed pretty evenly matched as we slugged it out.
Back to the Despoiler who now proceeded to take on all comers and munch his way through the rest of the northern alliance.
Two turns later and the Despoiler had lived up to his name and finished off the entire warband save Rob’s commander. Meanwhile I had only lost two figures. At that point we decided to call it having gained a much better understanding of the actions and ready for a real challenge.
Nightstalkers v The Forces of the Abyss
Second game of the night was against Mark’s Nightstalkers. I’d glanced over a few times and had seen him systematically destroying Dave’s Basileans so I wasn’t hopeful.
We had a proper mission this time. We had three stones set up on the board and the mission was to hold them each turn. I repeated that to myself over and over as I set up.
Turn one started and Mark floated forward. I was down on power dice again so decided to start with my grunts holding back the real power of the force as long as possible.
After about half our forces had moved I noticed Mark was being quite conservative in his movement not running and just walking.
I later found out why; it was because his floating brain had a horrific ranged attack and his other guys more like rockets. So he must have been hoping I would over extend some guys that he could pick off before I could charge him. So I obliged and shot my guys up the board at top speed.
Turn one ended and one grunt was dead to his brain and a second was in real trouble. But I was holding two stones which gave me a massive advantage going into turn two.
I was up on VPs but my force had taken a real battering for that advantage and I knew it was going to get worse as we entered turn two.
Turn two started and Mark was now itching for a fight. He’d seen my charge for the stones and knew he needed to take them back asap.
I moved up to consolidate my position with the Despoiler and the rest of my forces. I saw another lower abyssal go down. My warriors were also being knocked down left and right.
During this turn the moment came to use my tiny amount of power dice. Mark had charged his Shadowhound into my flamebearer and knocked it down. I could see I had one chance left to swing this fight.
So my Succubus Lurker charged across the battlefield and struck. Se charged the hound in the rear which meant she had extra dice, could reroll 1s and had exploding 7s and 8s but just to make sure I used a power dice to throw an extra dice too.
The hound exploded in a flurry of 7 hits. It failed its nerve and went down. But I wasn’t finished there I also used a power dice to activate another model. The despoiler who hit one of his scarecrows squarely in the face. I chucked in my last power dice to again give it an extra dice. I was taking no chances. Again one dead monster.
I didn’t survive unscathed as the Mind-screech killed the Succubus and the rest of my gang fell. But I’d pulled it back to a respectable 2 models a side. One of those was the Despoiler so I was quite happy if I could pass the nerve test I could probably still win this.
Thankfully in the end phase the Mind-Screech thought better of facing off against the hulking mass of the Despoiler and scarpered.
We ended the night 4-0 win to the Abyssals.
Post-game round up
I hadn’t started the night with high expectations. The rules sounded ok but I was missing the hook from reading the book cold and not playing. After two games I’m hooked. The rules are pretty simple but there is a lot there when you get playing.
The power dice was massive to both games I played. Having no commander I was always on the back foot to my opponent’s power moves. The one turn I got a decent number of power dice I ruined the Night Stalkers. I will definitely be adding a commander next game.
Ganging up is also super important. Even lowly grunts could bring down a Despoiler if there’s enough of them! Combine that with the power dice and I can charge 3 guys at once. The first might not hurt the Despoiler but the 3rd will be rolling additional dice from the support.
Two great games – can’t wait for the next club night.