Age of Sigmar, week 2

Hey everybody!

Here we are with week two of the releases for the new Warhammer: Age of Sigmar!

Age of Sigmar

Just two kits have been released this weekend, the new Lord-Celestant – a standing variant for the chap on the big beastie that comes in the starter set – and a kit of five new Liberators, a multi-part extravaganza that has so many new weapon options! Perhaps expectedly, it also comes in a mass of parts, confirming that the models in the starter set are indeed much simpler versions. However, I expect the poses you can get from these guys should be really good. I resisted buying more than one kit, but I have the distinct feeling that I’m going to want at least a couple more, for all the different weapon options!

I haven’t had a chance to read the book properly yet, but in leafing through it looks magnificent. Lots of gorgeous artwork, as well as providing the background to this new world. Something that struck me was just how many of the Old Races have survived, given that the Old World itself has been said to have been destroyed. Of course, the marketing move to create new races from the old, with copyright-able names, is well discussed at this point. But anyway. Of all the races to have survived, I’m intrigued the most about the Wood Elf tree spirits, now called Sylvaneth. Might even find myself buying some Dryads before too long!

We also have warscrolls for all the expected kits, and the Judicators are the only really new models that we haven’t really seen anything else about yet – though rumour has them being up for pre-order next weekend in another multi-part kit that allows for longbow or crossbow builds, so releasing on 1 August.

This week’s pre-orders are all about the terrain, with two interesting new pieces coming out, alongside a Lord-Castellant and his pet bird-cat thing. Not particularly impressed by that, but the Ophidian Archway looks amazing, so while I had initially not intended to get any of that stuff, I’m thinking I might actually get one. The painting guide in this week’s White Dwarf has certainly helped my decision there, anyway!

Ophidian Archway Age of Sigmar

I remain really excited for these things. Fantasy was enjoyable, but put me off far too easily from getting into that game. Even though I don’t know if/when I’d get to play a game with AoS, I still feel more excited for this than I ever have for Warhammer.

My painting is slowly coming along, too. Last week, I built up four Liberators, including the Liberator-Prime, and last night started the task of painting them.

The new Retributor Armour golden paint is really quite bright, especially in contrast with the Balthasar Gold used on the main body of the miniatures, but it looks really nice in making something really stand out and stuff. I’ve only gotten so far as the base coats on these guys, but I’m taking my time in the hopes that I can get some really great results!

Age of Sigmar

It’s a kind of magic…

Hey everybody!
It’s Tuesday, so it’s game day once more here at spalanz.com! Today I’m going for something a little different, as I throw the spotlight of awesome onto a game many of you may well be familiar with, but it’s something that has only recently come under my radar. Recently, as in last week. It’s time for Magic: the Gathering to arrive!

Like I said, it’s a very recent discovery for me. Obviously, it’s something I’ve known about for, like, ever – you pretty much can’t play a card game these days without coming across the name, or mechanics, or whatever. Dating from 1993, apparently, Magic was the first CCG, or collectible card game. At its core, Magic is a card game for two people who play the role of Planeswalkers, casting spells to defeat each other. To cast these spells, you must be able to pay their cost from the mana cards you have in your play area, which (predominantly) take the form of basic locations:

Magic Origins

Spells take the form of all sorts of stuff – they’re basically every other card aside from the land cards. First of all, there are creatures you can use to attack your opponent:

Magic Origins

There are Sorceries and Instants, which act pretty much like Event cards in any other card game I’ve ever played – they are played, they take effect, and then they are discarded from play:

Magic Origins

Enchantments function like Attachments, which buff your creatures in some way or affect your opponent’s guys.

Magic Origins

All of these cards have a coloured border, which denote one of the five colours you can play. Kind of like factions, these colours each have a specific play style, and the mana cost to cast them will normally require at least one mana from the matching colour. You also have some more odd sorts of cards, such as colourless (neutral) and multi-coloured stuff.

Magic Origins

These cards have their mana cost printed in the top-right corner, which shows the mana cost made out of either the coloured symbols, or a number within a grey circle that represents “generic” mana that can be made up out of any colour. So in the picture above, Ramroller requires three mana from any colour, while Blood-Cursed Knight requires three, one of which must be white, and one must be black. In the bottom-right corner is the attack/defense value, so the Ramroller deals 2 damage, and has a health value of 3.

During the turn, you have two main phases either side of a combat phase, along with a beginning and an end phase, for five phases in total. When you play a creature card, it normally enters play “sick” and cannot be used that turn, though there are some with creatures with the Haste keyword that allow them to be used when they’re cast (see, I’ve learnt stuff already!) To play a card, you need to pay the mana cost as described, where the mana cards are “tapped” – that is, turning them on their side. You don’t get to “untap” until your next beginning phase unless you have cards that allow you to untap early. Also, when you use a creature to attack, it is also tapped, so you always have the decision of whether to attack or keep your guys back to block in your opponent’s turn, as blocking does not cause a creature to tap.

When you block, all damage dealt from the attack is absorbed by the defender, even if it is more than enough to kill it. This is something that I couldn’t quite get my head around first, as I’m used to stuff like Lord of the Rings LCG, where excess damage goes somewhere else. However, creatures with Trample do deal their excess damage to you directly. When your life is reduced from 20 to 0, you’re dead.

Apparently, a deck consists of 60 cards, with roughly 40% of that being land. From what I’ve seen so far, the dual-colour deck seems to be the most common thing – indeed, Magic Origins has just been released (as of this writing), and is sold (among other ways) in Intro Packs that feature one deck and two booster packs, said deck being a dual-colour thing. I picked up one such pack at the weekend when I bought the new Age of Sigmar box, as there was some sort of event going on at my local store and I kinda got caught up in it all.

So yeah. I told myself I’d never get into another CCG after the Star Wars card games of my youth, but then I discovered the show Spellslingers on Geek & Sundry last week and it looked really fun. In a lot of ways, it looks like the sort of card game I’ve wanted to play for a while, as it looks very straightforward. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff you can do, but when compared with some of the LCGs I play, where you have a lot of specific things going on, just throwing cards against your opponent for a game looks like it’s actually a really decent battle game.

So here’s the thing. I haven’t actually played a game with it yet – well, I only bought a deck on Saturday – but I have been playing quite a bit with the app that’s available. It’s a pretty good app, I must admit, with a lot of great effects to enhance the experience (particularly when dealing damage – nice!) However, nothing can really substitute having actual, physical cards in your hand.

I find Magic to be one of these truly legendary games, much like D&D, that people have likely heard of even if they aren’t into this whole thing. It looks exciting, anyway, and I’m looking forward to a real-life game – hopefully soon!

Sigmar Saturday!

Hey everybody!

Today has seen the very exciting release of the new Age of Sigmar starter set, the miniatures game from Games Workshop that has now replaced the decades-old Warhammer Fantasy Battles. It’s a new dawn, heralded by some very beautiful models, and while I was initially intending to wait this one out a little, I caved and bought stuff:

Age of Sigmar

The consolation here, of course, is that they’re all just beautiful models. Last week, Games Workshop put up a series of seven painting tutorials showing how to pain all 47 of the miniatures contained within this new box, and I was hooked from the start. I love Duncan, of course, because he just makes everything look so damn easy, so I can only hope to match his level of skill when I begin the long task of assembling and painting these things.

Of course, I’ve already built up one guy – the free miniature from last week’s White Dwarf. Well, let me take you through the evolution of my guy!

And here he is, resplendent in the colour scheme of the Lions of Sigmar:

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And here he is, finished! #Warhammer #AgeOfSigmar

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I’m very pleased, I must say. I’m actually toying with the idea of using transfers for the first time ever, though I’m not entirely sure just now. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. While I’m a little sad that I haven’t yet had a chance to use the new gold paints, I’m sure I can find a use for them later. The Lions of Sigmar scheme was very easy to follow, I must say – I pretty much did exactly what the caption in White Dwarf says – Balthasar Gold, Agrax Earthshade, and Golden Griffon; Naggaroth Night, Xereus Purple and Genestealer Purple. The green for the warhammer grip was just a personal twist, I suppose. Given that there are so many Liberators to paint, though, I think having a simple scheme will be really useful.

The Prosecutors are probably my favourite of the models we’ve seen so far.  I’m a little concerned about painting them, because I think the potential for me to mess it up is huge, but I hope they turn out amazing. All that said, however, the new Judicators look really beautiful, and might be joint-favourites…

Age of Sigmar Judicators

For now, I’m ignoring the Chaos part of this kit, not being the biggest fan of Khorne, but I’m sure I’ll think of something to do with it before too long. I am quite the fan of Chaos within the wider scope of the Old World, but always leaning towards Slaanesh. Not because I’m a colossal pervert, of course, but because I think there’s something much more dangerous about the Dark Prince than the other three. Khorne is just all brute force, Nurgle is disgusting, and Tzeentch can be far too weird. But Slaanesh… there’s just something about it that intrigues me. However, Age of Sigmar appears to be trying to sideline the god of excess, as he has apparently “gone missing” or somesuch. Combined with tidbits (albeit from the 40k world) that indicate there is a way to defeat him, it looks like GW is trying to clean up the world for a younger audience. Interesting…

I’ve not had a massive read-through of the literature yet, as I’ve been working on the Liberator all day, but you can read some of my thoughts in last week’s blog here. Overall, I’m excited for where they’re going to take the world, especially now that we have the first campaign book confirmed. I’m hoping there’ll be a lot of interesting models coming out over the coming months – though obviously, not so many as I end up destitute!

The painting guide was a bit of a let-down, unfortunately, as it basically looks to be the aforementioned videos in paper form. Of course, these things are shrinkwrapped so you can’t tell that when you’re in the store, but never mind. I suppose it might prove nice to have a hard copy as well. I thought it might have had guides for the alternative paint jobs that we’ve seen, such as with the Liberators box set:

But no! The book in with the starter set actually has suggestions for different schemes, however. Bah!

At any rate, I’m pleased with how my Liberator turned out. I’m pleased with how the new models look. I’m excited to see what’s next on the horizon as far as releases go. But more than anything, I’m actually excited for Warhammer Fantasy, which I haven’t been for nearly a year. Overall, it was a good day!

Totoro!

Hey everybody!

It’s time to dial the cuteness factor up to eleven – I watched my first Studio Ghibli film in years last night: My Neighbour Totoro!

My Neighbour Totoro

This is a 1988 film directed by Hayao Miyazaki, one of the co-founders of the famous anime studio. It tells the tale of two girls and their adventures with friendly wood spirits in postwar Japan, and is just absolutely adorable!

Satsuki and Mei Kusakabe move to the country with their father, a college professor, while their mother recovers from an unspecified illness at a local hospital. While Satsuki is off in school, Mei has a bit of an adventure when she follows a pair of bunny-like creatures from the house into the woods, where she finds the massive Totoro – unfairly called a “troll” in the dubbed film, but he’s nothing like the trolls of the Western world.

The film follows the two girls as they go about their lives with these wood spirits nearby, until news comes from the hospital that their mother has taken a turn for the worse. Mei is upset, and Satsuki lashes out at her, which prompts the toddler to, well, toddle off. The community comes together trying to find her, and Satsuki eventually finds her sister with the help of Totoro and his creepy giant cat-bus. Well, I thought it was creepy, with the forced grin and all, but anyway. All is soon put right, and during the end credits we see the family reunited once again, so all ends happily.

My Neighbour Totoro

I loved this film! I first saw a Studio Ghibli film back in 2008 or 2009, but after maybe half a dozen of them, I hadn’t watched one since. My Neighbour Totoro is therefore the first such film I’ve watched in about six years – now there’s a thought! While I was watching it, somewhere within me a jaded, cynical voice was decrying this would be a 90-minute parade of cute that I really don’t go in for, but within minutes I was just along for the ride, enjoying the sense of wonder that the film manages to evoke. My need for a Totoro plushie increased tenfold as the film wore on.

As we follow Mei through the looking glass, something that came over quite strongly to me was that sense of adventure I’d have as a kid, where I was more interested in seeing where a path went, or “what would happen if…”, than I was in staying clean (and, possibly, safe!) It’s something that we don’t really see anymore, which has been described as a sign of the times as kids don’t generally go off and have adventures like this. Shame, really.

This is a truly delightful film, with an adorable quotient that manages to beat back any cynicism without the overriding waves of cute that, in my experience, often marks out Disney. That, and the strong sense of nostalgia for ‘a simpler time’, contribute to make it one of the best films I’ve watched this year. Definitely worth the watch!

Feel the Wrath…

Hey everybody,
It’s time for another game day blog! Today’s will be a little short, but nevertheless awesome, as we delve once more into the dungeon, and face the Wrath of Ashardalon!

Wrath of Ashardalon

The second of the D&D Adventure System games, the rules are basically the same as those for Legend of Drizzt, which featured on my blog during my D&D week earlier in the year. You play an adventure as outlined in the adventure book, laying tiles as you explore the dungeon, and overcoming the fearsome enemies that live there. And my goodness, there are enemies!

Wrath of Ashardalon

This is perhaps my favourite box of the three games, simply because it has some wonderful miniatures for you to battle – least of all, the Beholder! Classic D&D monster. Ashardalon himself is also an impressive miniature there, and there are some truly horrible things like the formless Gibbering Mouthers, or the tentacled Grell. Wonderful stuff!

Wrath of Ashardalon

The dungeon itself feels more like an actual building this time, rather than the caverns of the Underdark, and instead of mushroom clusters to place the monsters, we have scorch marks. Fitting, given there’s a massive dragon down there! There are also doors on some tiles, as shown on the Vault above for instance, which need to be opened to continue the adventure.

Wrath of Ashardalon

Something more unique to this box, however, are the Chamber tiles, which are laid down all at once when instructed by the adventure. So you’ll draw the entrance tile, which has a black arrow as shown above so you’re having an Encounter there as well as facing a fairly closely-placed monster, then you set out the remaining tiles of the chamber to create a fairly wide space. Which is usually then filled with monsters. Yay.

Wrath of Ashardalon

The game is one of my all-time favourites, and was actually the first Adventure System game I bought. There’s not a lot to say beyond what has already been said for Legend of Drizzt, if I’m honest, but this is a truly great experience, and for me as a non-D&D RPG player (sigh), it feels generic enough that you can break it out whenever you like, rather than the more focused Drizzt or Ravenloft (still haven’t got Elemental Evil yet!)

At any rate, it’s highly recommended!

More Drizzt! More games! Just, more!

Hey everybody!
The last week or so has been filled with lots of awesome, predominantly from getting back to the amazing Legend of Drizzt series!

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Moving on to #Drizzt book 8! #D&D #novels

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I finally got back to this series, after a nearly two-year hiatus, back in March, when I read the end of book 6, and moved onto book 7, The Legacy. That was a really great read, you can see more on that here, but I didn’t move on to the next one until now. I don’t actually remember if there was a reason, but anyway. Spoilers incoming! Starless Night picks up the story of Drizzt and his friends in the wake of Wulfgar’s death, and begins as Drizzt decides to return to Menzoberranzan, to avoid any further drow incursions into Mithral Hall. Little does he know that Matron Baenre plots the destruction of the dwarven kingdom no matter what, of course, as we saw briefly in the last book. Catti-brie discovers Drizzt has gone and, determined not to see another of her friends needlessly die, heads off in pursuit. The two eventually meet up in the Underdark, and manage to escape the Baenre compound with the help of none other than Artemis Entreri, though their hearts are heavy with the knowledge that the drow are amassing for war against the dwarves.

While I enjoyed The Legacy, after all that time spent on the surface, I loved Starless Night. It is perhaps a little formulaic at parts, but as always with these Drizzt books, the execution is just amazing. Salvatore continues to develop the Underdark beyond what we have already seen from the Dark Elf trilogy, this time particularly as we get to see more inside House Baenre, the first house of Menzoberranzan. The Matron Mother is just as cruel and twisted as you’d expect, as are some of her children. Most interesting among them are Dantrag, the weapons master who wields a sentient sword. It was a shame that he didn’t make it through the book, but I suppose there’s little else you could do with a character like that. Triel Baenre, the mistress mother of Arach-Tinilith, is another intriguing character, and her scenes with the flamboyant mercenary Jarlaxle were always fun to read. Jarlaxle has a prominent role to play here as well, which serves to deepen his character.

The whole story was pretty great, with a terrific sense of foreboding, or “things are about to happen tonight”. Weirdly, I kept feeling a comparison with the finale to the third Harry Potter book, with that sense of wheels being in motion and whatnot. It was a great read, and I’ve since propelled myself into the ninth book, Siege of Darkness, which has been excellent so far – look out for that one to grace this blog very soon!

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The Beetroot Beefburgers, man they were good…

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Saturday was, of course, Independence Day, so to celebrate(?), I made burgers and watched American Dad. Not just any burgers, however! I came across a recipe somewhere for beetroot beefburgers and, being a lover of beetroot, had to give it a try! On reflection, I probably used too much, so they were a tad dry, but overall they were really good, and I will definitely be trying these again! Grating beetroot into the minced beef left my kitchen looking something like a crime scene, but even so! Very simple to make, just grate the beets into the beef (I used three with 200g of mince, one might be a better idea), mix in an egg, and away we go!

Marvellous!

Despite having multiple projects on the go already, this weekend also saw me make up some more Necron Immortals, along with Trazyn the Infinite. I’ve been slowly getting back into painting, as I’ve been trying to finish off the Canoptek Wraiths I started over a month ago. I’ve not gotten very far, unfortunately, but that seems to be the story of my life where big stuff is concerned – bigger than your average foot soldier, that is. I’ve had four Tomb Blades awaiting their finishing touches for ages now, as well. As I seem to be better at getting the smaller guys finished, I thought I’d make up some more, get them done, and then (hopefully!) get back into the swing of things that way. Miniatures painting is something that I really enjoy, after all, but has felt more akin to a drudgery of late.

Immortals

Trazyn the Infinite is perhaps the most hilarious of the special character models, with his backstory of wanting to preserve everything in the universe in his own collection. If I remember rightly, he has some weird ability that allows you to replace him with any other member of the unit he’s attached to when in combat, due to some kind of phase-shifting technology. He seems interesting, but more than that, I enjoy the special models for the fact that I can paint them with different colour schemes and such. That said, I’m considering doing something different with the Immortals this time, as well – the new golden paints coming out soon look very interesting, after all, so I think I might try something more special with these guys…

Immortals

This week has been pretty good for games, of course. Along with the announcements of new cycles for both Android Netrunner and Star Wars, we’ve had a new data pack for Netrunner as well as the inaugural pack in the Angmar Awakened cycle for Lord of the Rings! There’s an interesting day/night mechanic in this one, and I cannot wait to try it out, but feel like I need to first play through the Lost Realm box. I’ve got all the quests sleeved now, anyway, so I’m ready to go on that front. No doubt there’ll be some posts here where I bemoan my performance…

I actually got a few games of Netrunner in at the local store again last week, with my tried and trusted Shaper deck, and lost both. But they were fantastic losses, so I can’t complain! Very thematic, so definitely lots of fun. I feel like I want to try out new decks now, however, as I spent one night reorganising my entire Netrunner collection. I usually keep LCGs in their expansion boxes, as it’s convenient and I like the packaging, but now FFG has moved to this horrible plastic nonsense, I’ve decided to change that, and have instead gone for keeping the entire cardpool in both core set boxes (I’m one of these who bought two core sets). So far it works, but I foresee a time very soon where I’m going to run out of space there, as well! Hm. At any rate, going through that reorganisation, and seeing the entire card pool for each faction all at once, has really opened up my eyes to the deckbuilding possibilities in the game, so I’m keen to explore with that, rather than continually playing my one Shaper deck.

We’ll see just how splendidly that works out, anyway…

A New Age

Yes folks, the New Age is upon us!

Age of Sigmar

Back in September last year, the Old World of Warhammer was shaken up with the End Times, which brought back Nagash and saw the destruction of the cities and peoples of the Empire by the forces of Chaos, headed by Archaon the Everchosen. The End Times extravaganza finished in March, with Chaos triumphant, and – officially, at least – Warhammer Fantasy Battles seemed finished. What could happen next?

The internets was rife with rumours of 9th edition long before the cataclysmic events of End Times: Archaon, of course, but as things began to solidify, this Age of Sigmar thing turned into a completely new game. Rage-quitters abound, but now, it seems like everyone was just a little bit wrong.

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#AgeOfSigmar #Warhammer

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I was lucky enough to grab this yesterday, and have been perusing it over breakfast this morning. I have to say, things look pretty exciting for Warhammer right now! Seems like a whole new world is being created, and it looks infinitely expandable. Don’t just rush out to pick up this week’s White Dwarf for the free miniature stuck to the cover – read it, and you’ll see what I mean. Very exciting things look to be on the horizon, I must say.

Reading the lore, I was struck by two things. First was the futility of Chaos. It’s something similar to what seems to be the Tyranid problem – when a destructive force has destroyed everything else, what will it do next? It always feels like something that hasn’t really been thought out properly. Also, Sigmar seems like a bit of a jerk. Having brought peace to the new realms he discovered, as soon as Chaos finds them he basically bolts the door and leaves everyone to it.

Luckily, he manages to maintain his heroic-legendary status when he brings forth his Stormcast Eternals, the wonderfully golden guys resplendent on the cover of this week’s White Dwarf. The battle that follows is interestingly referred to as the first chapter, so I’m wondering what happens next…

There are also three new paints coming next week, including a brighter base gold called Retributor Armour. Always nice to have more options!