Thursday, 29 May 2014

40k 7th Edition Final Thoughts

After my full blown rant the other day about some of the highlights of the new edition of 40k, many a blog has posted their thoughts having had the book over the weekend. I've read these with interest as often the same rule change/addition will elicit opposing emotions amongst gamers.

There seems to be a general agreement that 7th Edition is actually v6.5 done properly. The rules certainly seem to be clearer and I've read some high praise from trusted sources on this aspect. This is great to hear as too often rulebooks can be vague or provoke obvious questions that aren't answered.

I find it very interesting too that people are already talking about ignoring/changing rules in the new edition in order to make the game more balanced. Unbound lists, Warp Charges and individual Psychic powers in particular have been highlighted as things that have to change or be ignored in order keep the playing field relatively balanced. This was quite significant I thought.

First of all, gamers changing a brand new set of rules voluntarily is surely really bad from the publishers perspective. Does it not indicate that those rules/powers in particular were so unbalanced that people could see it straight away, often before actually playing. Surely this indicates that there was precious little (serious) play testing done before the rules were published?

Secondly, it was quite heartening to see people wanting to alter these rules, rather than abuse them. Of course there will be those folks who feel the need to take advantage, but as one gamer put it… it's about fun being had on both sides of the table. It was great to see bloggers stating outright that things are a little too open and volutarily reel things in.

This time out the rules come as three books rather than one giant tome. I have mixed feeling about this. The last time this was done was 2nd Edition and I wasn't a fan. One of the three books was always missing and it is the only edition that I no longer have as a consequence. At least this time out it comes in a nice slip case, so the books have a home. I also wonder if GW have shot themselves in the foot a little here from a sales perspective. The standalone rulebook for 7th is great for people who don't want to lug a massive hardback with them when they game. However, having a single massive book created a market for people buying the starter box (Dark Vengeanace, etc.) purely for the small A5 rulebook, often selling the models that accompany it. Will those individuals feel the need to buy the starter box now that the main rulebook is more mobile? Time will tell.

So, am I likely to buy it?

I can't say either way at the moment. I would be happy to see this edition of 40k pass me by, much like 6th Ed did. However, with the imminent release of the Ork codex, and more importantly the new Gorkanaut and Morkanaut models, Bull will almost certainly want to let his Orkiness run free again for a while… and it's only right. Do we play a game using the universally-agreed broken 6th Edition or do we splash out on 7th? That's a question for another time but I'm a little more intrigued to look at these rules than I was a fortnight ago!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Time To Move On…

Be warned this is a monster post!

With the house move due this Friday, it has been a time of contemplation as I packed up my hobby gear this last weekend. The house we're moving out of has been the backdrop to my hobby reawakening after five years without touching a brush or sprue. This of course coincided with the advent of this blog, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to revisit what has occurred during my time living in Folkestone.

Despite having lived here since 2008, the blog didn't start until January 2010. The month began with me taking photos of my various 40k armies (as 40k was pretty much all I was thinking of playing). I had bought the Black Reach box set and decided to start a brand new project – Blood Angels. They had been the chapter that attracted me most back in the days of Rogue Trader and I felt they deserved another look.

This mix of blog posts continued through February – Blood Angels and older model showcases – with my first rant piece (about the static poses offered by GW models) rounding out the month. March saw the first whisperings of the Arrugginiti, who would become the hated foes of my new Blood Angels.

I got my first few Blood Angel games versus Bull during April, as the banter across the Atlantic started to build momentum. Eventually, conflict erupted at the end of May as our email Hailed vs Hated game took place.

Once the post-game discussions had died down, so had my hobby buzz. 40k just wasn't doing it for me anymore and I drifted away to other things. The blog lay dormant for a good four months.

The comeback took the form of my Dark Templar marines – a bespoke project I always wanted to do and felt would keep my enthusiasm going for some time. Alas, it lasted barely two months and my interest waned again leaving the blog silent for the remainder of the year and on until Easter.

April 2011 saw me discover Mailfaux. This game was nothing short of a revelation to me. The models were amazing, the model count manageable. The rules felt innovative – no dice!! – and the whole story captured my imagination. It was the game that finally broke the GW-centric mindset I'd had for 20 years (albeit the resistance was quite low by this time).

Being the all or nothing person that I am, I jumped in head first and bought everything. I built a gaming table and terrain, each project more ambitious than the last. Before I'd finished painting my three Guild crews I moved onto Kirai and her spirits. I took things a step further and started to design, sculpt and cast up my own resin bases. Things were really taking off and with the introduction of Avatars in the August the game was getting bigger.

I started to sell my resin bases on ebay in the new year and 2012 carried on with lots of games of Malifaux against Fugs.

Behind the scenes though, I had been reading the Warmachine rulebook and memories flooded back of the days when we'd dabble with the first edition. Like a two-faced husband going behind his loved one's back, I ordered some Cryx minis… the gaming 'affair' was underway.

Then came Salute. By this time there was no point hiding it, my eye had been turned away from Malifaux and I was loving Warmachine/Hordes. Myself and Bull bought starter boxes and the building and painting began. It wasn't long before we got a quick tutorial game in… but that was as far as it got with this particular ruleset. I was still neck deep in everything WarmaHordes, buying more models and even painting a few of them.

By the summer, there were whisperings of the new 40k 6th Edition box set, which would include some rather nice Chaos Space Marines and a few Dark Angels. It was getting pretty clear that with me being all about Chaos, and Bull having a sizeable DA army already, this box set was made for us. Things were getting a little confused on the blog. Then I decided to do something completely random.

I decided to do a charity painting event. I roped in a couple of like-minded bloggers (who were rather handy with a brush) and we set about painting a Malifaux crew to auction off for charity. The Tale of Three Painters started to gain momentum and started to develop a life of its own. Things peaked at the beginning of September with a visit to Joey Berry in Plymouth, to video the finished models. I have to admit that I was very proud of what the three of us achieved with that Malifaux crew. Nice one Andy and Michael.

The 6th Edition box arrived not long after and I jumped in head first, converting the lovely Chosen models to fit my new project… Nurgle. This was interrupted by a two week holiday to California to coincide with my 40th birthday. I came back refreshed and eager to get stuck in. The rest of the year became all about Nurgle 40k and banter with Bull's Dark Angels.

2013 started with the converted Helldrake – a massive conversion for me. Who cuts up a £40 model??! It proved to be a roaring success (luckily) and was swiftly followed by a converted Forgefiend. With these new toys the momentum was building towards another set of games versus Bull – who now had a shiny new codex of his own.

Just as Salute appeared on the horizon again I got into X-Wing a bit. As a contained boxed game it is great to pick up and put down… and it was. X-Wing is a game that will always be in the background I think. The fact that no painting is required almost guarantees this… plus it's Star Wars!

The summer of 2013 was the era of The Dark Crucible. My very first attempt at writing some rules for a skirmish game that I wanted to play. I spent months writing, re-writing and testing the game. It's amazing how difficult the process can be and for every fix another problem arises. I was getting very excited about this, but once it went public it hit the deck like a lead balloon and this was enough to kill my enthusiasm for it. Shelved for now – cue another break from the blog.

It was going to take something special to pull me out of this particular slump, and so it was. Blood Bowl can be held up as an example of an almost perfect game (in my mind). The rules are very simple, the buy in cost as little or much as you like. Now that GW no longer support it, the rules are free to download and lots of companies make proxy models for it. Once you get into playing, much like chess, a whole other dimension of tactics and strategies open up and the game suddenly becomes quite complex and very exciting.

Blood Bowl is still going strong at the moment, some six months later. I have to say it's lasted longer than I had thought it would. Having Mr Awdry join in the fun has given it a new lease of life – plus having three teams each doesn't hurt.

I also have my new secret project. I have learned my lessons from The Dark Crucible and this one can bob along in the background, a welcome distraction when the time allows. Whether this fulfils the potential I think it could, who knows – I'm happy to let the fates decide.

So, why all this ploughing over the gaming past? 

You will have picked up a developing theme throughout the four years of blogging – I struggle to stick with anything for long and struggle even more to finish anything. The move to a new home is the second element in a string of changes that will transform the look of daily life for me, pretty much forever. It is the perfect opportunity to 'reset' the gaming program and try and break the cycle.

I will be restricted to quality hobby time so I need to make better use of it. For starters I want to play more games. This lack of actual gaming has contributed to the fickle nature of my hobby recently. By making the most of boxed games such as X-Wing and Zombicide there is an opportunity to have more fun and not get bogged down in the mountain of models awaiting paint. I need to finish small groups of models (such as Blood Bowl teams) so that they can be picked up off the shelf when needed with no fear of having to use unpainted models. I can then have the likes of 40k and Warmachine sitting in the background to pick up and put down when the fancy takes me.

I also want to spread my gaming wings further and try new things. Mr Awdry has a host of rulesets that need investigating and  Bull will no doubt be up for something different. I'll also have others newbie gamers on the doorstep so expect to see some new faces.

Exciting times ahead!

Monday, 26 May 2014

4 Days and Counting…

I've been preparing for this week for eight months now, but it doesn't seem to matter. In four days' time we will be moving house. The prospect of having to get everything out in a few hours is madness to me – up to this point I've only ever lived in rented accommodation so could take my time over the course of a week to move.

What makes this even more interesting is that I seem to have more hobby stuff than ever before, despite ebay sales and just giving stuff away. The image at the top shows just my official figure cases. These contain 40k space marine, eldar and four chaos marine armies as well as some fantasy chaos and my Malifaux collection. Of course this doesn't include any vehicles, monstrous creatures or super heavies. It doesn't include any of the three Warmachine/Hordes forces I have or my Blood Bowl models. I also have a collection of X-Wing which have their own case now, which means it will survive the journey.

Then of course we have boxes of unpainted models. I'm discovering things I didn't realise I still had, things I thought I'd sold. Where does it end? My wife wonders the same thing.

Then we have the books. Oh my word!

There is over a decade of Games Workshop publications, most of which have gone to charity (or to be recycled). I have codexes and Forgeworld books covering at least four editions of 40k.

Don't forget White Dwarf! I have almost every edition going back to 1990 – that takes up three plastic storage boxes and weighs a tonne.

Since my move away from all things GW, back in 2010, I now have a host of rulebooks and support material from a dozen other companies (and models to match of course!). I also have a couple of home-made gaming boards to transport this time around as well.

I always thought I had a handle on my hobby. I thought that I was curbing things and was a shadow of the former hobby geek from my early 30s. Not so it seems if volume is a judge of anything.

At least in the new place I'll have a garage as well as an attic. Or does this mean I'll just accumulate even more!…or bigger stuff!… or both!

I do get the opportunity to organise everything once we get to the new house. I'm pitching for a display cabinet for some of my models but not sure the wife is onboard with that one – out of sight out of mind is her motto where the hobby is concerned… and who can blame her with all this gear!

Friday, 23 May 2014

The New 40k Free For All…

My very first gaming experiences were thanks to Warhammer 40k. It was the imagery and background that drew me in first of all. Like so many other gamers, the Space Marines just pushed my buttons. I loved the concept, the models… just perfect.

Years later I eventually got to play a game, and I was hooked. The gaming became an obsession and after my first tournament there was no looking back. I had five years of thrills, highs, lows and shiny model addiction. During the many tournaments I got to play in, I saw regular examples of individuals who will twist the rules and codex lists to the extreme in order to win. I've also seen plain-as-day cheating and it was this that ultimately led to me retiring from competitions.

Don't get me wrong, I've played some amazing games in tournaments too. I've met some amazing individuals and some very 'fair' gamers who had no interest in cheating. There were a lot of ups to the plethora of downs. I even managed to win a bit of silverware here and there.

Nearly ten years later and my cynicism for everything 40k-related couldn't be worse. I've seen the company that sold the game evolve into something akin to a drug dealer. From a gaming perspective, the product is ropey at best. The rules have been broken for a long time, each new codex ramping up the power factor so that gamers felt the need to switch allegiances and buy the latest model just to compete. Each new edition has been a band-aid to an amputated limb, but up until the end of 5th I was neck deep in it that it didn't seem so bad.

I wasn't terribly impressed with 6th Edition. It brought elements of Apocalypse gaming to the regular table and the points creep for models meant you had to buy more for a standard game. It was all starting to get a bit corporate and the quality of the gaming experience seemed secondary.

Then they drop the bomb that, just two years later, 7th edition is coming out. This screams of "we need a cash injection" and I object to it. They've been pumping out the codexes for the last 18 months at a phenomenal rate, none of which seemed to be anything special (aside from having a huge model added to the lists). It just seems to me that, while other companies are spending time producing innovative and more exciting rulesets, 40k gets re-issued again and again with a couple of tweaks and a shiny new cover. Of course the price goes up each year (or maybe the print quality goes down).

They even killed White Dwarf, a publication with so much history and significance it deserved better. Anyone viewing the new look, weekly version of WD will see something that was put together in Microsoft Word with less graphic design skill and attention to detail than my 68 year old mum applies to her church newsletter (I kid you not). It's a disgrace and after the mistake of downloading the first edition, I will not buy another. Don't even get me started on the diabolical proofreading done by the company overall, it's been bad for years – especially for such premium products.

If it wasn't for the fact that the company continues to produce some pretty fine models, I think they would have disappeared off the face of the earth by now. The models are truly superb (for the most part) and the fact that most of them are plastic is a major bonus in my eyes. Alas, again, they insist on taking the piss by increasing the prices of these models to loan-shark levels.

But back to 40k. The free for all started with the allies rule in 6th edition: Why stick to one army or one codex? Take multiple mini-armies, getting the best out of more than one codex to help you win. The latest evidence for 7th Edition highlights the new 'Unbound' rule as a major selling point. What is 'Unbound' you ask? You get to field whatever models you like. No more "1x HQ and 2x Troops minimum" or sticking to a Force Organisation chart. Field whatever you like!

The masses have been cheering at this new found freedom and what a breath of fresh air it brings. I'm sorry, I just don't see it. How can having no structure in creating an army be a good thing? In friendly games (where gamers have a bit of sensible and balanced creativity) you've always been able to do what you like – it's up to you how you play your games, it's just a bit of fun. In tournaments, I don't see how letting people take whatever they like is promoting fair and balanced play. You may get a bonus for sticking to a Force Organisation structure but big whoop – crap covered in diamonds is still crap.

This seems like the next step in the company's plan to let anything go so that you buy lots of everything. Once again, the gaming experience has escalated to the next level where the lines between 40k and Apocalypse have blurred even more and the whole thing is becoming a mess. This begs the question, where do you go with 8th Edition, once it's a complete free for all?

I gave up my support of 40k some time ago, as you may be able to tell. This latest re-issue has proved me right to do so (in my head at least). I'm struggling to take anything positive from it. There are far more interesting and innovative gaming companies trying new things out there, who are far more worthy of my support and money. I still have my 40k armies, all 6 of them. I will go back to painting my Nurgle and will play 40k now again again against Bull. I just refuse to be a mug, following the Pied Piper of Nottingham blindly when there are better quality rules and more fun games out there.

Images from Deviantart

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Saxon Hovel Part 2

Almost a month ago I showed the progressed of my Saxon Hovel kit – my first foray into laser cut terrain. It all went together very easily and within 24 hours was ready to go (above). Unfortunately I struggle with 'off the shelf', so had to add my own touches to it.

I had seen some fantastic 'improvements' to the very same kit at Evil Giraffe's blog so decided I would follow suit and do something similar.

The first, and obvious addition was to add balsa wood in place of the laser etched beams and supports. As fiddly as this was at times, it has definitely made an instant improvement and the whole thing feels more three dimensional already.

Hindsight being the wonderful thing that it is, I would do this stage slightly differently next time. I added the balsa to the wall and roof sections separately. Unfortunately it meant that the uprights weren't quite in the same place and the curves didn't quite match either. In future I would cut lengths of balsa to cover both parts, trim and fix them at the same time.

Next I added some liquid greenstuff to the walls. By stippling it quite heavily you can get a nice texture addition. How effective this has been won't become apparent until the paint is on and the drybrushing begins.

After that the focus moved to the interior. I stuck down the fire pit then added a couple of twigs and some sand to make it look like the remains of a fire – but what to do with the floor. I bought a pack of Sainsburys basic toothbrushes – 18p for 2 – and cut the bristles off them. I them scattered these around the inside floor and secured them with PVA. I then watered down some red oxide and coated the floor liberally to seal everything in and add texture to the exposed floor. Next time I'll do this the other way around I think.

All that's left to do now is conjure up a replacement balsa wood door as the laser cut one looks odd next to the balsa beams. Then it's on to the paint!!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Blood Bowl Team Developments

After the weekend's win against the South Coast Saurus, my Dark Elves – the Darkblades – are looking in pretty rosy shape.

Our damaged hero Adin Heartrender returns after his trauma against Bull's Skaven. He's lost a point of movement which, as my leading scorer, is a bitter blow and may ultimately see him retire prematurely. However, in his absence other members of the team have stepped up and have a similar SPP count.

Number 10, Torel Dragonclaw, stood up to be counted in the game against the Skaven just after Heartrender's injury and had an awesome second half. He didn't have quite the same impact in the Saurus game, although his Guard skill did make him a pain in the backside for the dinos, and cause him to be a bit of a target.

I also managed to get some points on number 8 Blitzer, Kirzir Deathreaver. With MVP, he now has a new skill, completing the initial upgrade of all my Blitzers. They feel a bit more solid now. Heartrender's injury is a concern, but with a move of 6 he's still reasonably mobile, just not likely to be scoring as much I think.

I think the surprise in the roster is number 3 Lineman, Atal Starslayer. With two touchdowns and a casualty he's close to his second skill. Block was invaluable against the Saurus on at least a couple of occasions, so a second will make him rather invaluable.

The biggest buzz for me was finally getting my Runner a few genuine points instead of cheeky single point passes. Rakiri Razorwing managed to get her touchdown (running the length of the pitch almost) and also managed to get a casualty which was a bonus. She also managed to roll 10 for her skills and got a Move bonus. At move 8 she is now on a par with those pesky Skaven Gutter Runners.

Looking at the roster, and to the next game, we have quite a few changes. As well as being back to full Blitzer numbers and a speedy Runner, we have a new addition. I had been saving my money for a couple of games now and have managed to finally purchase a Witch Elf. This opens up a whole new angle for the team, and learning curve for me. As a consequence my team value has ballooned a little but I'm still a good 100k behind the Orks. I will also only have a single journeyman next game – I still didn't make it through the Saurus game without losing a player to injury!

The league is unchanged after the weekend's result. The Darkblades have a few more points, but league positions stay the same.

Roll on Michael's next game against the untested Pro Elves!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Blood Bowl is back!

An impromptu visit to Awdry Towers yesterday (after being in hospital this last week) saw Mr Awdry's South Coast Saurus flex their muscles against my Darkblades. This was great preparation for their upcoming game against Bull's Celestial Unicorns. Poor Bull hasn't had a game of Blood Bowl for months now, but the Saurus coach wanted to see how Elves played, having only faced Nurgle so far.

The Darkblades team did have a higher Team Value than the Saurus, so Michael took a Wizard and a Bloodweiser babe to compensate. He decided not to spend any of his cash prior to the game, so still only had two re-rolls and no Apothecary. Of course he was also missing the Kroxigor and a Saurus from the previous game, so was definitely underpowered. He did have six Skinks though, which gave him options.

The game didn't start too well for the Dark Elves. Despite having +1 FAME, I managed to lose the roll for Throw A Rock on the Kick-Off Table. Consequently one of my Linemen ended up KO'd. It could have been much worse, but I was down a man before we'd even kicked off!

The first half was definitely something reminiscent of It's A Knockout, from back in the day. I was Kicking to the dinos, by turn two a second Lineman was KO and the Saurus had the ball well within my half. Alas the Skinks were relatively unprotected and were being Blitzed. Similarly as soon as I picked up the ball a Saurus would Blitz my ball carrier, and so the half continued. Nobody could keep hold of the ball longer than a turn!

At one point I managed to scoop the ball up – within a few squares of my own endzone and tried to make my escape. Alas Michael decided to use his Wizard (in the hope of having the ball land in an advantageous position so he could score). Instead the ball bounced out of play and was thrown clear across the field.

I'd managed to get the ball back towards the halfway line with my Runner before she tripped over her own feet and ended up KO as well. Another hit or two later and the loose ball bounced onto the head of a nearby Blitzer before landing in the middle of a group of players from both sides. I managed to push a skink out of the way, grab the ball and skip a few squares into the Saurus half of the pitch. The bigger dinos were spread all around the pitch and the skinks didn't have the strength to seriously challenge the ball carrier. Michael tried his best to bog down the Lineman in tackle zones, but with a few models to support and some lucky rolls I just did enough to skip away into the end zone.

Saurus 0 – 1 Darkblades

With only one turn left in the half there was little Michael could do but try and inflict more damage.


The second half started badly for Michael. Again, Throw A Rock came up on the Kick-Off Table and a dice roll later his Saurus in the middle of the line was on his back.

I had positioned all my Blitzers on the weaker side of the Saurus line and took the ball in that direction. The rest of my team risked life and limb, throwing themselves towards the other big dinos to tie them up. Before long I had broken through the line and my Runner was heading towards the endzone. Again the skinks did what they could to slow her down, but my Blitzers were in support and the second Darkblade touchdown came quickly.

Saurus 0 – 2 Darkblades

Michael decided to try his refused flank tactic from the first game. Alas this time he was facing the much faster Elves, plus the Kick-Off Table thwarted his efforts before he had the chance to try. A Blitz event game my team a free turn and I charged my team through, behind all the big Saurus. The two lonely Skinks at the back of the field had FIVE Darkblades bearing down on them, with no support in sight.

The wheels well and truly fell off the Saurus game as the first hit he attempted came up double Both Down. No re-rolls left. Turnover. A blitz and a cheeky pass later and the Dark Elves were in again.

Saurus 0 – 3 Darkblades

I knew that I had been riding my luck, putting Strength 3 Elves up against Strength 4 Saurus all afternoon. I had got away with murder up to this point, but in the closing moments of the game, Michael's only option was to try and get some Casualty points. The dice finally came good for him – bit late though. A hit on a Lineman saw his armour finally crack and he was KILLED. Luckily for me I still had use of my Apothecary and the re-roll gave him a Miss Next Game result instead. Still, Michael got the points he was looking for and the game ended.


Saurus 0 – 3 Darkblades

Great game and Mr Awdry is a superb host as always. I think he was unlucky with his dice on the day – they would just not go his way, even when he tried a foul with a -3 armour bonus he didn't roll enough. He will freely admit that he spread his big guys too much in the first half and, despite coming within a few squares of scoring on a couple of occasions, his skinks didn't have the support they needed to get the ball over the line. He was of course down a couple of big guys but he does have a couple of skills now and has time to mull over his spending options before facing Bull's Pro Elves.