Sunday, 20 December 2015

It's been a while

So you may have noticed it's been a while since I posted anything on this blog...

Long story short, the nature of the back bedroom has changed a little. Changed in the sense that it's no longer a back bedroom now it's a small flat in central Manchester. So that's nice. More importantly this means I have more free time and that I should be gaming more often and doing a bit more hobby stuff.


<Insert self pitying caption here>

So what have I been doing?

Well I've been playing a lot of Warmahordes. My Menoth shuffled off to the great trade hall in the sky and were rehomed to a nice man in Kent only to be replaced with a large horde of Cryx. I still love my Farrow and they get the most table time of my Warmahordes factions but it will be nice to have a full faction to choose from. Farrow has gotten some nice stuff in the latest book, a shiny unit upgrade for the Brigands and a few nice light warbeasts meaning that they have some choices now, but they are still quite small. Having a Cryx force means that I have a full range of units and jacks to pick from as well as a massive number of varied casters. I'm excited about playing more of this, I think it's my favourite game at the moment.

Yeah, it's actually kinda like this
I'm still playing a bit of Malifaux, though nowhere near as much. It's not easy to say why, I still enjoy it when I play it but it doesn't quite grab me in the same way. I've got a Misaki crew that I want to paint up and I'm looking forward to picking up Ulix once he sits shelves but I'm fairly certain I won't buy much more. I'm in the fortunate position of having a lot of Malifaux I've not really used so I can keep myself going that way.
The only thing better than an angry redneck
is an angry redneck with an army of pigs
Mark pointed me in the direction of the Batman Miniatures game recently so I picked up a Penguin crew and a couple of free agents (Catwoman and Riddler). The models are based on the Arkham City games and the recent films for the most part - they are really well detailed but the casting quality and the metal are a bit variable. They remind me of 90s GW stuff - lots of flash and some really soft parts that break easily. Not played this yet but I'm keen to get it on the table next year.
I love Penguin so much
World War 2 is another thing I really want to game. I've got a load of 28mm Soviets (because of course I have) that I intended to use for Bolt Action but I recently picked up Great Escape Games Iron Cross which looks cool too. I'd really like to do something with these in the near future.
That captain reads "Just put us on the table"
Oh, I also had a phase of buying Bushido models because I wanted to paint something Oriental. They are very pretty but I've not used them for anything.
With the Temple of Ro Kan this isn't far off
In the New Year I'm going to try and make more of an effort. I've got a few friends in Manchester who are keen to game as well as my brother in law in Sheffield and my other sister's partner in Huddersfield. So I really have no excuse! I've reached out to FanBoy3 in town to see if they have anyone who plays either Batman or Bushido. I miss being part of a gaming club, the one in Barnsley that I attended when I was in my teens was really fun, so I'd like to do something like that again. NWGC isn't an option as long as it's run by it's current owner so I'm still looking. I heard about one in Salford that I'm going to investigate in future.

There are a small pile of smaller games in my "To Play" pile too. Open Combat, Fist Full of Kung Fu, AoS. All the games!
Pictured: One excited gamer with the
last of their money
So that's a brief update on my gaming life. Next year I hope to get back into the habit of blogging more and showing off pictures of things I've been working on.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Open Combat Part 2 (Or "Yep, I do miss Realms of Chaos")

In my last post I talked about Open Combat and how I definately wasn't going to get a physical copy of the book through the Kickstarter. Well once again my legendary resolve kicked in and I changed my mind. In my defence they added campaign rules, how could I resist?

"No! I won't back it!"
I've been rummaging through my box of bits and digging out suitable models from the remains of my old WoC force. After a bit of converting and buying a few cheap Reaperbones models I've put together a sizeable warband - probably from more figures than I will ever need but variety is always good.

At least I used a different bit of my favourite picture this time...
Blame this guy for everything you read here.
This is the only unconverted infantry model in the force; GW's wonderful Nurgle chaos lord. I make a point of keeping a single figure from each army I sell and this was the obvious survivor of my Warhammer sell off. I've done a few touch ups where the paint had chipped as well adding some extra detail using the GW technical paints.

I could paint this guy over and over again
This is a Chaos sorcerer I kitbashed from a plaguebearer body and a chaos warrior cloak. The staff is made from a standard pole topped with some marauder horseman bits. I think the pointing arm is from a stormvermin champion.
It came to me in a dream...
Then I made a few warriors. The first is a simple headswap and some heads added to the hand (though I had to greenstuff on some hair). The body is PP's Butcher warcaster with a Mercei miniture head. The second is a GW warrior with a marauder head and a censor from the Screaming Bell kit.

Taking the Butcher's head off was tricky.
Lovely camp old warrior!
Every warband needs banner to march behind. This is the body that provided the Butcher's new head with a marauder banner and pick. The head is from a Mantic zombie I think.
I'm very proud of this guy too.
If you are going to make a chaotic band them you need monsters. This kitbash is based on a Wyrd Desolation Engine with GW parts and some simple greenstuff work. The height of the model looks a little odd,  I might end up posing him on a rock when he's done.
The photo doesn't do it justice
Then we have the Eye Beast and the Giant Wurm from Reaper and a couple of Mantic zombies. These will probably not be converted as they seem good enough on their own and I'm honestly not sure how to improve them. Then I figured "this needs plague zombies" so I rebased a few. I'll repaint them too as the current paintjob is laughable.
I'm amazed at the quality of these for the price
These guys are lucky to be here. I don't like Mantic models very much
My plan for paint scenes is fairly typical Nurgle making use of the rust, blood, pus and corrosion effects from GW. I think the beauty of doing a small force like this is that I can treat each model as a character and not lose interest doing rank after rank of the same sculpt...

Not since Devlin Mud has so much talent come in such a small pot.
Putting this together had also got me looking for a similar style Sci Fi game (or at least hoping for gun rules) so I can add some of the Dark Vengeance cultists as gun toting cannon fodder to support the proper fighters. After asking on Twitter I might try and use the Fistful of Kung Fu rules but we'll have to see.

Next time I write it will probably be an update about my Farrow. I've got a 15pt Arkadius force painted that I want to show off...

He's coming...

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Open Combat Part 1. Or "I Miss Realms of Chaos"

A couple of weeks ago I came across this Kickstarter for a set of flexible rules for fighting pre-gunpowder battles and it grabbed my attention. After toying with the idea of getting the book I eventually settled on buying the pdf first to see what it was like...

You should buy this
My initial impressions of it are very positive. The rules are clear and well explained with plenty of worked examples and diagrams as well as some lovely photographs of example battles. While I've decided that I don't need a physical copy of the book as it's a very small document that I can easily use from my tablet its definately a game that has grabbed my attention. From listening to the interviews with Carl Brown (it's creator) on Fools Daily he sounds very keen to add micro expansions that will flesh out of the system by adding magic or period specific rules or other lovely details. I doubt it will be a game I play as a "primary game" but it is a good excuse to paint some warbands and recapture the old days of Realms of Chaos! You should go buy it, the pdf is £7 here.
I've thrown about a lot of plans for different warbands and those are what I really want to talk about today. The wonderful thing about these small skirmish style games is that a warband rarely comes to more than 10 figures meaning they make great painting and modelling projects using models I would otherwise never get to use.

I miss this so much
My first idea was a sort of undead band of Romans using the Godslayer range. Unfortunately Monolith Games' Mortan figures are pretty ropey and difficult to get hold of in the UK. I considered whether I could find a suitable robed priest or senator to use as a general and then get some Warlord legionnaires that I could mix with GW Vampire Counts skeleton bits. At some point in the future I'd like to find a reason to paint a small Roman force.  The models are lovely and the history really appeals to me. Lucky I don't really know any historical gamers so the temptation is easily ignored.

Not pictured: Real ale and aran jumpers
Then I thought about doing a Celtic band led by a bloodstained druid using a combination of Circle Oberos models and Warlord celts. This is a combination of wanting to try painting tartan along with wanting to use my new GW blood effect paint. I doubt this will ever see daylight.  I don't need a third WM/H faction.

The safest method of restraining gamers
In the end I settled on an old fashioned Nurgle chaos warrior band. I've got a few figures already that I kept when I sold my Warhammer army as well as plenty of bits for kitbashing. A quick rummage through eBay threw up this guy that I'm pretty sure is actually from Warhammer Quest and worth much more than £6. I also bought this and this from Reaper Bones because I wanted a few monsters in there too. After a quick rummage through my stash I found around half a dozen suitable figures that I'd forgotten I owned. Keep a bitsbox was the best piece of advice I was ever given as a gamer (well, apart from measure all your body parts but most games allow pre-measuring now!).

So I'm pretty excited.  I've got a plan for how I want it to look that involves channeling the TWF Grime Crew to cover them in pus, dirt and rust. I've mentioned my screaming fanboy love of John Blanche and this seems like a great chance to indulge it.

Yep, that picture again.
I'm going to end with an appeal to my loyal readers (yes, both of you!). If you know where I can lay my hands on any of the old Realm of Chaos figures from the Chaos Warrior or Plaguebearer ranges please let me know. Especially if you've got any you'd sell for cheap...

I promise I'll write more frequently in future. Though I can't promise It won't be Warmachine again!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

An update on The Northern Crusade...

So Warmachine had become our go to game at the moment and I've been playing quite a bit of it. As ever I've got some thoughts on how is going and where I want to take it in future...

For Menoth!
As I mentioned in a previous post I started out playing Severius and own both versions of him. I've had more fun playing the prime version of him (Grand Scrutator Severius) than his epic form (Hierarch Severius). pSevvy has a nice collection of buffs, a focus stat of 8 meaning he can boost his jacks and some nice offensive spells. He has a really nice looking feat too that messes around with enemy focus allocation but I always realise I should have used it the tturn after it would make or break a game!

Old men with sticks. Fear them.
In general I've found Severius's playstyle a little too 'hide and buff' for my liking. I know Menoth is the faction of synergy rather than raw, naked power but I think it'd like to try a caster who will do a bit more of the lifting. I'm considering Ferrari, Priestess of the Flame, Thyra, Flame of Sorrow or Grand Exemplar Kreoss as the next one to try. I welcome thoughts or direction - I'm still at the stage where I trust Battle College.

This man just read a page on Mow Bombardiers
As for the other models I've bought, I'm really impressed with the following:

1) The Choir of Menoth

Yep,  the Choir is as good as they say. Hymn of Passage to start with then Hymn of Face Smashing in later turns. I've got enough models to do a second when we start playing bigger games too!

2) Reckoner

I love my Reckoner! It's 8 points but between the gun and the mace it makes a hell of a mess of things. It seems to take damage pretty well too which is a bonus. Especially as I don't have anything that repairs yet.

3) Redeemer

Its focus hungry but it clears out infantry really well. Especially with a Choir encouraging it.

My Temple Flameguard have only been out once and then they got destroyed by Orin Midwinter (blasted mercs hunting buffed units!). My Exemplar Errants haven't been out yet but I'm keen to try them. I could do with a box of Zealots or Daughters of the Flame but I'm making myself paint some of these first...

Not mine but I love these.
Things I've learnt so far

1) Watch your charge lanes!

I lost to Raye and her Cygnar on turn two after I stupidly let Major Katherine Laddermore get the drop on Severius.  A couple of hits with her weapon and he was dead (though technically he was killed by the Wrack that he was standing next to after it did to a Lightning Arc from the we a pin and exploded). I gave that game away during the deployment phase...

2) Keep the Pressure up

Warmachine doesn't seem to reward the cautious.  While I hate their tagline I do understand the philosophy - you need to play aggressively and get in your opponents face. This doesn't really come naturally to me so is taking some doing.

3) Focus is Important

Managing focus is hard and due to my love of jacks its always tight. Especially with an upkeep factory like Severius. Especially, especially if you want to overcharge your powerfield. I've still not got the hang of it yet. I have a nagging feeling that the solution is one jack and more troops... especially when we get to larger games.

Aspirational artwork
The musings about focus got me interested in fury and how it worked in Hordes. So for science I've bought Dr Arkadius, Targ,  Maximus, a gun boar, two road hogs and some bone grinders. Yep, I've gone pig for my second faction (it came fairly naturally as a gremlin player!). I was sorely tempted by voodoo crocodiles (and will likely end up with some in future) but the dieselpunk pigs won me over...

How could you not love this?
So there are. Comments and tips are very welcome. Especially on the viability of Farrow or combat Menoth casters!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The lay of the land...

So I've been thinking and talking about terrain a lot recently...

This has been sparked by the radically different approaches to the use of terrain in the two games I'm playing a lot of at the minute - namely Warmachine and Malifaux. I even did some research by asking on Twitter and Reddit. I am a proper blogger at last...

Fine! I asked a baby!
Malifaux, bring an objective based skirmish game, seems to take the approach of "Use as much terrain as you own (or can fit on the board)". At least when we play anyway. Having checked the rulebook it recommends "enough terrain to cover 25 to 50% of the playing surface" on a 3 by 3 table.  Each piece gains a variety of traits which then interact with an LoS system that was designed to collect tears from the Baby Jesus.

"I don't know how the elevation rules work either my son..."
Warmachine, a game of fighting designed for people who really like defining things, throws us a curve ball by saying "place as much terrain as seems appropriate" for your 4 by 4 table. I was floored by this but once I recovered I downloaded the 2015 Steamroller tournament pack and was reassured to find terrain setup defined thuslessly: As a general rule, an average table should have five to seven pieces of terrain placed closely enough to eliminate large open areas without unduly constricting movement. The size of terrain pieces is also important. No piece should be insignificantly small or extremely large". Then it says not to place terrain in deployment zones or within 5" of an objective. Like Malifaux, terrain has traits to tell you how it behaves.

No. Comment.
(As an aside, I wanted to reference the current Warhammer rules because I love the random terrain tables but it seems I've left by 8th edition rulebook somewhere...).

Something like that anyway.
So that's what the rulebooks say - two broadly similar approaches but players see me to have quite different expectations. What really struck me was what people said about abilities that let you ignore some of the terrain traits. To be specific, Malifaux players said "more terrain is good because it let's you hide and sneak around to do your schemes but some things can still get you" whereas Warmachine players said "too much terrain makes models that ignore it too good". I assume this comes down to the goal of the game. As Malifaux has less of a combat focus it's more legitimate for a model to not engage or be engaged in fights (hence "we like being able to hide" vs "ignoring it is too good"). As bring able to setup or block charge lanes is a key element of Warmachine it makes perfect sense that having lots of terrain in a game where entire factions are immune to it is a little rough.

What low wall?
So I guess the question is what do we, as gamers, do about it? I know I hate the idea of playing on an empty field with 2.5 hills, a wood and a pile of skulls that I never interact with. I've found that the trick is to make sure you know the game before you plan your terrain. If you need to be able to block off areas, you need the terrain to do it. If you need room to move, well those narrow city streets are going to ruin your fun. That said, Ben and I are determined to try Warmachine with our Malifaux approach to terrain and see what happens - my hope us that it makes movement even more important and increases the value of infantry over jacks (we are new so jacks are still the coolest bit of the game!)

Like this. But with more 'jacks
From a designer point if view I think the key is making terrain something you interact with. It's often said that terrain is the third player in a game of Infinity but the rulebook made my eyes bleed so I guess i'll never know. A Fistful of King Fu has an awesome terrain system that allows you to break up chairs and things to use as weapons or throw goldfish bowls or handfuls of dirt  at each other but it is a very low figure count game So I doubt the terrain bookkeeping gets too arduous. For me (and I know this will be controversial but hang in there) is something like GW's random terrain effects in WFB and later editions of 40K. Terrain pieces that you move around, get cover from and are occasionally eaten by.

Jackie Chan doesn't suffering penalties for rough terrain
As those of you who remember by post on 2015 goals will know I'm looking to make more terrain this year. Below are some photos of my work so far...

This is a statue using the Governor's Proxy model from Malifaux and a plinth from eBay.

These two are a sort of chemical refinery thing that didn't quite work out.

Some islands and sandbanks for Dystopian Wars. I literally bled to make these, I almost had to go to A&E after slicing my finger open cutting the insulation foam. Stupid islands...

Friday, 30 January 2015

Why I love Malifaux rather than Wyrd

I played some Malifaux with Ben this evening (I lost 10 - 7, Chompy Dreamer got beaten by Kaeris) and as we did we were talking a little bit about the recently released playtest models and campaign rules.

Better at summoning that eating stuff

For those of you who are unaware of Wyrd games they are a US company who make the Malifaux game as well as the 'Through the Breach' RPG and a few other smaller games they publish on behalf of their authors - Jetpack Unicorn and Evil Baby Orphanage being the only ones I can remember with our looking them up. When they went to the second edition of Malifaux in 2012 they decide to take a leaf out of Privateer Presses book and do a public playtest of the new rules and new models.  Cue several months of weekly updates to the stuff and (generally well managed) interaction with the playerbase.  I didn't really participate beyond reading the cards and frothing with my mates about them but I eagerly followed those that did on Twitter and on the forums.


So far so good. A model example of player engagement compared to GW!
Then slowly it started to break down. A second wave of models were released for testing then a third containing the much maligned avatars.  Wave 2 made it to the end of the line and were published in the Crossroads book late last year but the third wave was abandoned before it was finished. Now avatars have returned as part of the campaign rules in a fourth wave of public testing, along with an admission that they weren't balanced for regular play and that their inclusion was a mistake. Oh and we aren't making anymore of the models.

"We have extracted enough urine for this test"
The production and release schedules don't win them any friends either. Rather than the GW model of released models for a faction at a time the new releases are roughly spread across all seven factions. Oh, they are also resculpting all their models in plastic from the original metal.

In gaming nothing is cheaper
So Wyrd are trying to do an awful lot at once and it was inevitable that there were going to be problems.  Ophelia is one of the gremlin masters who attracted a lot of criticism for the way her upgrades allowed her to target herself with the (0) actions allowing her to do an awful lot as well as missing the 'discard this upgrade after using' from Big Threatening Gun.  This was corrected in the next wave of card decks but also attracted the remark that the community needs to share in the responsibility for these mistakes by not spotting them in testing...

Fah. Playtesters.
I'm not sure I buy that.  I'm not sure that it's reasonable to declare that players are to blame for mistakes like that,  however slightly. I mean,  I'm not a games designer,  nobody I play with its a game designer,  the only people involved in Malifaux (to the best of my knowledge anyway) who are games designers work for Wyrd.  And are paid to design and test games. Now I get the advantage of community testing (a Legion of free testers for one...) and I get that some feedback gets overruled for whatever reason (ya know,  by professionals), but I honestly don't know how the community can be blamed...

I don't know if this baby is designing a game.
Other things that spoil my love of Wyrd are their distribution issues.  Its been nearly two years and no Brewmaster.  But it's okay -  we got a new sculpt of some guild minions that already exist. I know there will always be an element of "my faction is more important" but there aren't many book 1 models not released,  why start on the book 2 stuff without finishing the set first?

Probably not real...
So, the conclusion of my nerd rage is that I still love Malifaux, i'll still play it but I'll "right size" my collection down a bit. Probably to Neverborn and Gremlins. And then I'm done.  Stick with what I have and spend my cash on other things...