Saturday, February 27, 2016

Hunting the Bantha

Hunting Banthas

Well, the Bantha Rider has arrived for Imperial Assault and we are now experiencing just how rough something like this fast-moving lump of fur can be. The real key to this beast is the two methods of direct damage that they bring to the table: Stampede, where they just step on any figure that happens to be in their way at the end of their movement for 1 damage, and Trample, where they use an action to roll a red die and do that much damage to up to three adjacent models.

These abilities are rough, but would be easily dealt with if not for support cards. The first is Beast Tamer. This card allows the Bantha to get in a free move, and this works even if the Bantha is stunned (the Tamer grants 5 movement points to the Bantha, which then clears the Stun and then spends the points – you do cost the Bantha one action with that Stun, though). This allows the Bantha to just truck across the board: 15 spaces with a triple move, 17 if they have Gideon as well and use him first. Or, once the guy has gotten close to your people, Tamer allows the Bantha to 1) move for Stampede, 2) Trample, then 3) attack whoever is left standing after all that. Ow ow ow. And you have to expect that if they are playing Devious Scheme, which they absolutely should, they will do that last once none of your people can react, and then do it all again with their first activation of the second turn.

That’s bad enough. But wait, there’s more. Gideon, remember him? He can move anything in his line of sight. And what is that special rule about Line of Sight? Figures do not block line of sight to or from Massive figures. So even if there is another Bantha Rider in between Gideon and the forward Bantha, he can still make the furry beastie move two spaces and tap dance on your figures feet some more. Pull a command card like Field Tactician? That’s another opportunity. Opportunist? There is another 3 movement points to stomp around on. Close the Gap? Yep, the Bantha is a Brawler. Up to two more figures can get smushed. Single Purpose allows the Bantha to Trample twice (remember, they could still have the Tamer move the guy first). To The Limit can allow an attack after a Trample. And none of that includes the purpose built Jundland Terror cards that can be brought, allowing more stompy and tramply action at the end of a round. There are probably other nasty things in command cards that I haven’t seen or thought of. But you get the picture: command cards and support characters are awesome for Mr. Fluffy.

So what they heck do you do about such a beastie? Well, the first thing should be pretty obvious. DON’T BUNCH UP. Yeah, I know you like hanging out with C-3PO, and getting Royal Guard protection is a fine thing, but none of that means squat when a Bantha steps on your face. And we’re not talking about separating like you did when Elite Rebel Saboteurs could put a Blast 5 on your butt, I mean really spread out. The Bantha’s base is 3x2 squares, and they can Trample anyone adjacent.  Your safest bet is to have no figure within 4 spaces of another: that will prevent the giant tap-dancer from hitting more than one figure. When you can’t do that, make sure that everyone is at least 2 spaces away from each other, so that at least you can’t get more than one figure both Stampeded and then Trampled. But since Trample is the real killer, 4 spaces is safest.

Second, deny the Bantha player command cards. Do whatever you can to prevent him from holding terminals. Put Strain on his weaker characters (don’t bother with the Bantha, they’ll just take damage). If you have a mechanic like Mak’s to discard cards from his hand, do it. Without those boosts, the Bantha isn’t quite as scary. And shoot that twit Gideon between the eyes if you can get to him.

Then, just pour fire onto those Banthas. They are beefy, but with no defense die, they do go down pretty quick. Putting Stun on them is also great to prevent them from being moved outside of their activation and to deny them an action. But remember: Trample isn’t an attack, nor is it leaving their space. Stun will NOT stop it.

Finally, the Banthas are going to change the meta drastically. The clumps of Stormtroopers and Rebels around Leia and C-3PO are going to be at a serious disadvantage. But that doesn’t mean such models are useless. Look for Deployment groups with Surges for damage. Pierce is nice but it does exactly squat against a Bantha. Elite Stormtroopers, on the other hand? Using Squad Training I was able to consistently put 14-15 damage on Banthas with one activation of a full group. And remember, 4 distance between each other is just enough to run over to another member of the squad and get that reroll. This is also a great opportunity for Provoke. Put a Trooper adjacent to a non-Bantha to force that other group to activate next, and that will allow another big group of Troopers to pour fire into the furball.

And this could easily bring in some models that we have previously seen almost completely ignored in competitive play: other Massive figures. Remember, a Massive figure can’t enter a space occupied by another Massive figure. So suddenly putting out that Repulsor means that is one avenue of approach that a Bantha won’t be taking, and you can still shoot through it to hit the Bantha, assuming the twin blasts of the tank don’t finish it off first. General Weiss, with his ability to bring back lots of Elite Stormtroopers, is looking mighty tempting as the world’s scariest Bantha road block.

No question, the Bantha is changing a ton about the way we play this game. But Mr. Fluffy is not ending the game, and the dual Bantha Rider list is certainly not another 4x4.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tonight we paint!

This is it. Tomorrow is the big event I've been getting ready for, and naturally I still have painting to do. I did forget to bring a larger drybrush, so I bought one from the War Store in the vendors' hall. I'm ready to roll!

I did get in a game as a warm up, against a fellow named Jim and his French Tank Company. I now see why French Tank Companies are such a pain in the ass - most of my anti-tank is AT6, and almost all of his tanks had either 3 or 4 armor, and those that didn't had 6 armor! Mind you, my Bunkerflaks were FEARSOME, so much so that he hid his Char-Bs behind hills rather than face them. But the rest of the match was a chess match of pre-positioning, since the only thing that could move and still do any kind of decent shooting were my own tanks with their mere 3 shots for the whole platoon (when moving) of AT6 junk. It was a great game, though, and a much needed warm-up.

So that's enough jabbering - tomorrow we face the foe, but tonight we PAINT!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

On my way

Here we are! There are stil some details left to do, and the transports and Buflas aren't completed, but the army is otherwise done. To be fair, the static grass isn't on in these pictures, but it is now. I must thank my wonderful wife, Laura, who was an ENORMOUS help, basing half the army and gluing on all the static grass. This way I was able to still attend family events during the holiday AND be ready to travel this morning. She is so wonderful! I'll miss her dearly while I'm gone.

I got the shoulder tabs and collar tabs done, and while often just a blot of paint, the effect is great. I'm going to work a little more on the NCOs rank insignia, and MAY try to get the collar piping done on them, but the collars are often slightly undefined or just plain hard to reach.

The basing material worked pretty well, though it isn't as durable as I'd like. I had one model fall out of the basing material, and it remains a little crumbly. I'm not sure if this is just a fact of life with concrete patch or if it is a problem of adding the paint to the mixture. We cut wedges into most of the bases to give the patch something more to grip onto, so hopefully that helps avoid any problems with models falling out. I did bring super glue just in case.

As always, I still have some work to do. It wouldn't be a tournament if I wasn't painting up until the starting gun! Next steps, in priority order:

- Transports and Buflas to basic level
- Detailing on vehicles, including shoulder and collar tabs for the drivers
- Highlighting helmets and tunics
- Enlisted rank insignia

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Crunch day 2.0

Here we go - all infantry done to a basic standard, all vehicles drybrushed to a basic standard, vehicle crew still need work, guns need some drybrushing, and everything but one platoon needs to be based.

Today turns out to be more open than originally thought (I went to the 8 am mass instead of the longer 10 am), so I'm setting a deadline of 5 pm for basing. Basing will be easier than I originally thought, since the complete lack of texture means I really only need the concrete patch to be even with the bases of the infantry, though I'd like them to be painted a color close to the dried basing material. In the mean time I'll get as much detail done on the infantry as possible. Once that is done and they are based, I'll finish the vehicles.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Crunch day

Today will make or break me. I've got obligations all day long, but one I basically just have to be available at a place, so I can paint while I'm there. This does mean I have to leave my full painting station, but if I can carry a little with me I can get stuff done.

So my plan is to get my infantry as complete as possible. If I can get detailing done, great. I am currently with all of my non-based infantry (all but the one platoon I already had completed) at the tunics and pants base painted. Since tomorrow I'll have more time, but I need my bases to dry for about 24 hours, I'm going to see if I can base my infantry tomorrow morning, then put static grass on them on the 4th. While the base material is drying tomorrow, I'll finish my vehicles.

My goals in order:

- Metal and wood on the guns
- All skin
- Canteens and bread bags
- Wash (this is the trickiest - I'm not sure what I'll do while waiting for this to dry)
- Webbing and suspenders painted black (where I had to paint over it), plus cleaning up boots
- Collars and tabs painted green
- Collar and tab details (rank insignia, Waffenfarbe, collar stripes)
- Highlight tunics
- Highlight helmets
- Highlight skin
- Helmet decals (very low chance of getting here, and lowest historical priority)

I'll be ecstatic if I get through the collar details, and most of the rest can be handled once they're on their bases and I'm in Pennsylvania.

Friday, July 1, 2011


I tried my basing experiment tonight, and it went pretty well, though it certainly wasn't the silver bullet I was looking for. I still think it will save me a lot of time in the long run.

I had heard that concrete patch was some pretty good stuff, so I tried that out. I used the unmixed, dry stuff, since I wanted to add house paint I had left over from some terrain I had been working on. I used the recommended mix of 4 parts powder to 1 part liquid, in this case half water and half brown paint. This mixed with the grey patch and created a very nice, smooth slurry in a medium brown color.

I put the concrete patch on the plastic bases and then placed the figures into the patch. I used my sculpting tool to slightly cover the bases from the patch on the base, or if there wasn't enough I got more from the bucket. I usually put too much on, which meant I was cleaning it up with my fingers as it went over the edges of the base.

In the end it took me about 40 minutes to base 9 stands, which wasn't bad, particularly if you consider I won't need to paint these and I didn't have to glue them all down first. There is very little texture - I really prefer the Vallejo pumice putty for that, but it dried pretty quickly and I'll be covering the bases with grass anyway. So all in all, not bad, and I'll see what paint I have that matches the base color and start painting the bases of the models in that color.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tank platoon almost done

All right! I've got my Czech Tank Platoon done with the exception of markings on the three Panzer 38(t)s. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out - I needed to use a light Bleached Bone highlight on the brown areas of the camo for the detail to really come through the wash, but I think this will do quite nicely! Next up - the trucks and motor cycles.