New Runebound

Happy Tabletop Day, everybody!

I’m very excited today, as I finally got round to playing the new edition of Runebound that was released back in November. Having bought it at the time, I was still unconvinced by the changes from second edition, which remains one of my all-time favourite games. However, the announcement of expansions had gotten me interested, and so in the spirit of the day, I’ve given it a whirl! And it was amazing.

While this new edition of the game is still set in Terrinoth, and follows some old favourite heroes on a very familiar map, the game feels a lot different to the old version, almost to the extent that you’re pretty much playing through a new experience. I was learning the game as I went, so it took me over 2 hours to play through (solo), and I didn’t read any of the lore on the cards as I was making sure I was getting the mechanics right, but I have to say, the experience is really smooth, and you get the gist of it really quickly, thanks in part to the new method of writing rulebooks.

Runebound 3

The game is no longer merely a ‘level-up until you can destroy the bad guy’, but a scenario-driven game that uses a timer somewhat reminiscent of the doom track ideas from the previous iteration. The time track is run through twice, first comes Act One, then Act Two, which interacts with the scenario in some way. Each scenario has a set of ten story cards, which are drawn at set points on this timer track, and most of them have a Quest effect that usually benefits you in some way, though the picture above is a bit of a hindrance as well.

This benefit often takes the form of giving Lore tokens, which have some way to interact with the scenario: I was playing the Ascendance of Margath scenario, and Lore tokens here give you the boon of reducing the big dragon’s health when you eventually fight him.

On your turn, your hero has three actions to choose from among moving, resting, training (gaining skill cards, more on this shortly), adventuring, and shopping. You no longer throw all five dice all the time, but have a speed that denotes how many dice you can throw. Movement is also different insofar as many of the hexes have rivers running along their edges, and you need to expend the water side of a die in order to cross it (rather than choosing to spend, say, a forest side to move into a forest space). This does present some interesting options, though there is also a wild symbol that can be used for any terrain type. There are only four Free Cities on the new board, but a multitude of smaller features, such as strongholds and shrines, which you can often interact with in a manner similar to cities (healing and trading, for instance).

Runebound 3

Skill cards are gained through training, though you do start with a basic hand of them. When you train, you draw three cards, then discard down to your hand size, so this can be a useful way of cycling through unwanted cards. Whenever you test an attribute, rather than rolling a d10, you instead draw a number of cards off the Skills deck and, for every card with a starburst icon on the top-right, you score a success. This means the deck is going to cycle through a few times during a game, especially with more people playing.

The attributes are body, mind and magic, much like second edition, though a major difference here is how you level-up. When you complete adventures, you don’t take the adventure jewel token from the board, but instead you take the card. You then use these cards to essentially “buy” skill cards – the icons along the top of the cards show how many adventure cards you need to discard in order to buy them. I find this really interesting as, not only does it mean you can level up after potentially only completing one adventure, but you actually get useful skills to use in the game, rather than just buffing your stats in a specific category.

Runebound 3

Adventures come in three types: combat (orange), social (purple) and exploration (green). These three decks have all types of cards within each but, as a rule, the green deck will have more quests – requiring you to interact with a specific hex on the board to gain benefits – while the social deck will have more events – cards where you can essentially choose what happens – and the orange deck obviously has more enemies. Rather than going through progressively more difficult colours of enemies, the orange deck will have enemies of all levels for you to face.

Runebound 3

Combat is where the biggest (to my mind) change comes, and one of the most controversial changes, at that: combat tokens. Instead of d10s, each hero starts with three combat tokens specific to that hero, and has the option of buying items at market in order to gain more tokens to add to the pool. Enemy cards always start with five combat tokens, and when Act 2 hits, a sixth token is added. Final boss monsters also add a seventh token to the mix specific to that monster.

These tokens have various symbols on them, such as shields for defending wounds, axes for hero damage, skulls for monster damage, the lightning-bolt icon (“surge” for you Descent fans) to trigger a character ability, etc. There’s also a double-up icon, that one roughly in the centre in the above photo, which allows you to place another token on top of it in order to double the effect, and a feather-icon that allows you to flip one of your tokens after casting if you don’t like the result (the smaller circle on each token tells you what’s on the reverse). Lastly, there’s a kind of splatter-type of symbol that represents magical damage specifically.

During a combat round, you take your token pool and “randomize” them, before casting them either like dice, or flipping them like coins. I treated mine essentially like dice, though tried to do a bit of a flourish as if I were casting runes or something! Simple things. Some icons are golden on the tokens – the person with the most gold icons has initiative and goes first. In the case of a tie, the monster goes first.

The rules state that another player takes control of the monster when you fight, and decides the order of battle etc, but I was playing solo in order to get to grips with the rules, so just cast them all at once, and always chose the most beneficial act for the monster. It wasn’t as complicated as it might seem, and I actually got knocked out a couple of times as a result of dealing double damage to myself… At any rate, Runebound 3 appears to be a pretty decent solo experience, much like the second edition.

I actually really enjoyed the combat tokens aspect of the game, which surprised me because it was the aspect I was most unsure about. The fact the dice are blank plastic cubes that you put stickers on kinda put me off, but the tokens felt like the worst part to me. The fact that FFG have actually released duplicate tokens struck me as a lack of faith in their durability, however the cardboard is the usual FFG stock, and I’m usually real careful with my games, so I hope they’ll be okay for a long while yet.

Runebound 3

The scenario I was playing, Ascendance of Margath, was a lot of fun. Once Act 1 ends, Margath is spawned on the board by means of a token, six or seven hexes outside of Tamalir. Once Act 2 is over, at the end of each round you roll all five dice and move him one hex for every wild space rolled – if he gets to Tamalir, it’s game over. The first couple of times, I either rolled none or 1 wild side, so felt a little cocky and tried to keep going in my adventure, which I’m glad I did because it allowed me to gain one final skill before the final battle on the outskirts of the city!

I was playing as Elder Mok, who has this really useful “surge” ability that allows you to test your Magic attribute +1, and deal magical damage equal to the number of successes you draw. When doing attribute tests like this, there’s a useful rule that lets you “exert” by discarding an unused skill card to draw another – as it turned out, this was exactly what I needed to do enough damage (plus those Lore tokens!) to destroy the big dragon and win freedom for Terrinoth!

Runebound 3rd Edition

I really enjoyed this game. I think I surprised myself just how much I enjoyed it, seeing as how I like the second edition so much that I was not entirely convinced this would be a good successor. Sure, when it was first announced, I was pumped, but once I got it in my hot little hands, I felt a little sad about things like the dice and the tokens. However, now that it’s spent some time on the table, I have to say, I’m sold. The game is re-implemented so well, I’m really looking forward to a long future with this side-by-side with the second edition.

New Games!

Hey everybody,
It seems like a very long time since I’ve really managed to catch up with the new games offerings from Fantasy Flight, but the last few days have seen a couple of things announced that have really gotten me excited for this stuff like I haven’t been in a long time, so let’s take a look!

Runebound expansions

Top of the list for me is this announcement from Wednesday, two new expansions incoming for the third edition of Runebound!

I picked up third edition when it was released, but it has been lying un-investigated for almost six months now. I guess a large part of this ambivalence is due to the fact I love the second edition so much. However, reading this announcement has gotten me excited for the game – more so, in fact, than the actual release! – and I’m planning to bring the game to the table tomorrow for International TableTop Day. It’s my intention to get a blog written up post-game with my initial thoughts, anyway, so keep an eye out for that!

The two new expansions look amazing, anyway, and a really nice way to expand upon a game. First up we have Caught in a Web, a scenario pack that seems to feature tons of theme in the form of Ariad, the sorceress nemesis that Descent players will be familiar with from the Labyrinth of Ruin expansion. From what we know of this Runebound implementation, Ariad will stalk the land in spider form, seeking to destroy four of the Free Cities of Terrinoth, which sounds like a super-thematic game experience, really exciting.

The Gilded Blade is an adventure pack that appears to be in the “more of the same” category of boardgame expansions, which I am more than okay with seeing. New skills and assets, and new encounter cards, are all more than welcome in this kind of game to keep it fresh and exciting. Both packs each come with one new hero – I say “new”, but both are veterans of Runebound second edition: Red Scorpion was in the older base game, and Jonas the Kind was one of the infamous four promo heroes. I love the fact we’re seeing old favourites in new sculpts (new for Runebound: Jonas the Kind can be found in Treaty of Champions in his new incarnation), as these heroes are the classics that I have enjoyed taking through Terrinoth on adventures in the past.

I cannot wait to try this game out tomorrow, and I cannot wait to get my hands on these expansions when they hit over the summer!

Elder Sign Grave Consequences

Something that may have flown a little under the radar is this print-on-demand expansion for Elder Sign that I’m really excited by! A deck of 50 cards split between Phobias, Epic Battles and Epitaphs, it looks like a totally awesome way to add in an extra bit or two to increase the theme of the game. I love it! I ordered it as soon as the news article went up, along with a game mat for Android Netrunner that I’ve wanted for a while, and at the time of this writing, these products have just yesterday landed in the UK. Can’t wait to get my grubby mits on them!

Android Mainframe

On the subject of Netrunner, I can’t not mention this game, which has been announced as now available. From having read the previews, it feels a lot like a re-creation of the LCG where all players are Runners going up against the Corp – I’ve been trying not to really look into it too much simply because I’ve grown to love the card game so much lately, but that very enjoyment is now making me think maybe this could be worth investigation. I’ve seen it available for £24, so it would hardly break the bank, but I just don’t feel a need for it right now.

Warhammer Conquest Searching for Truth

Warhammer Conquest is another LCG that I’ve been really enjoying since I began to play it with some gusto a month or so back, and I’m particularly looking forward to the Legions of Death deluxe expansion, which will bring my favourites, the Necrons, into the game! I’m feeling a little jealous that all of the other factions have so many cards while these guys will be entering the game following two full cycles, and their mechanic of using generic soldiers as chaff just makes that worse, to my entitled geek mind! I’m only partially serious – I wish they’d been able to bring the deluxe expansions for both Tyranids and Necrons out sooner, out of cycle if necessary, to ensure these factions aren’t left behind. But I suppose we’ll see when they eventually appear just how “left behind” they are.

The fourth expansion for the upcoming Death World cycle has been announced, Searching for Truth, and features a new Necron warlord – Illuminor Szeras! Of all the Necron named characters in 40k, I like him the most, as his model is just the right blend of creepy and weird that really fascinates me about the Necrons. My own attempt at the guy isn’t the greatest, but I enjoyed painting him all the same. In the game, he gains a resource whenever damage is removed from Necron units, and given the cards coming for the faction, this doesn’t look like it’ll be too difficult to accomplish! Looks like a more high-risk strategy than I usually go for in games, but definitely one that I’m looking forward to checking out!

Lord of the Rings Flame of the West

Finally, let’s take a look at the fifth Saga expansion for Lord of the Rings LCG that deals with the events of the actual book itself – The Flame of the West.

Long-time readers of my blog will probably remember that I’ve often called this game my all-time favourite game, yet I’ve barely played it at all for so long now, I feel like such a terrible person! In fact… the last time I played any of the quests was 7 September, when I went through the Voice of Isengard expansion. That is shocking! Recently, I’ve noticed I’ve been feeling in the mood for a game but, due to having my dining table choc full of half-painted miniatures, I’ve never gotten round to it. Hopefully soon I can get some more games in, and reacquaint myself with Middle Earth!

Flame of the West follows book five of The Lord of the Rings, and it looks like the quests will involve the bit with the spectres, a battle at the boats with the Pelargir corsairs, and then the pitched battle at the Pelennor Fields. I’m particularly interested in the second quest, The Siege of Gondor, which follows Aragorn et al as they take possession of the corsairs’ ships. I love the way this game has built up a whole library of side stories that have shown what happened just to the side of the main story of the books, and this looks like it’s going to be no exception! I’m also really intrigued by how the preview article describes the third quest as being heavily tied to the results of previous games…

The new Tactics Éowyn is worth mentioning as well – what a special skill! 4 willpower in a Tactics hero is going to be so useful anyway that she will definitely find her way into a lot of decks, but the ability to deal 10 damage for a threat-raise of 3 should be really handy in the multitude of quests we now have that time a boss-type enemy until late in the game. It’s also super-thematic for the hero, too, so a massive thumbs-up from me there!

Well that’s all I wanted to talk about today – so excited for some of these games, it’s just untrue! What about you guys? Looking forward to more for Runebound? Can’t wait to slay the Witch-king? Let me know in the comments!

Battle for the Abyss

I’ve been continuing the Heresy this week, with book eight in the series from Black Library: Battle for the Abyss! This book was fairly interesting, though also really quite sad. But let’s talk story first – and please beware, I will be talking spoilers!

The book is the first since Fulgrim to actually continue the story of the Heresy, though rather than returning to any of the Legions we have already been introduced to, we’ve moved to two that are new to the series but, arguably, two of the biggest Legions involved in the Heresy. First of all, the Ultramarines finally make it into the story in a big way, and secondly, we have the original heretics, the Word Bearers. I know First Chaplain Erebus plays a significant role in turning Horus traitor in the first three novels, but we finally get to meet his Legion, and they’re all as crazy as he is…

The book begins with the enormous starship Furious Abyss being launched from orbit around Saturn, with the mission to destroy Macragge. Encountering and destroying an Ultramarines ship at the beginning of its maiden voyage leads to a rag-tag coalition of Astartes from four different Legions following the immense ship into the Warp – World Eaters, Space Wolves, a Thousand Son, and a small band of Ultramarines, led by Captain Cestus. The main part of the book is therefore a short battle, then a chase into the Warp, before another short battle during a stopover, before a second chase into the Warp and a concluding pitched battle above Macragge. I actually thought I was going to be annoyed by this structure, as it seemed to be really narrow in focus, but given the large canvas of characters, it makes for a pretty interesting story!

I’ve mentioned it before, but something I enjoy a lot about these novels is discovering how each Legion is different from the others, despite essentially being a collection of Space Marines. While we don’t really get a lot of that with the Ultramarines, enough is sketched in – along with details of the Space Wolves and Thousand Sons – while the Word Bearers are investigated quite closely.

I’m not a huge Space Wolves fan, and the World Eaters are frankly boring, but something I was hugely interested by was the Thousand Sons lore we get along the way here. The XV Legion, the Thousand Sons are essentially a Legion of psykers, censured under the Edict of Nikea that forbade the use of psykers in battle, and so regarded with some suspicion by their brother Astartes. Mhotep, the lone warrior we follow, says he wishes to re-establish a measure of trust with his comrades, but as the story moves along he is forced to use his psychic ability to save his battle brothers time and again, while being regarded with hostility at best. It’s a deeply sad tale, and I find it interesting when we see the wider lore of the Thousand Sons essentially wanting to be a Loyalist Legion, but being shunned by the rest of the Astartes. Mhotep is a new favourite character of mine, not only because he’s like some kind of Jedi badass, but because of the stoic manner in which he accepts his brothers.

The Ultramarines come across a little, well, boring here. Despite having Cestus as something of the central character of the story, we don’t seem to get a lot of information about them, which is a little symptomatic of the Warhammer universe at large – Ultramarines are so often equated with generic Space Marines that it takes a very specific writer to really make them interesting (that writer is, more often than not, Graham McNeill).

Battle for the Abyss

At any rate, the book feels a little like a slog at times, but the conclusion is just epic! The loyalist band manage to board the Furious Abyss and, after all manner of horrible things happening, destroy the leviathan by blowing its main reactor. I thought it was quite poignant to see the marines whittled down until we had just the captains of the Ultramarines, Space Wolves and World Eaters left, and seeing the three of them work together to destroy the Word Bearer’s plans – knowing the World Eaters are a Traitor Legion – was really intriguing. I believe we get to see more of these types, such as Nathaniel Garro and Garviel Loken, marines who refuse to turn traitor along with the rest of their Legion, so that should be good!

Unfortunately, I felt incredibly bummed-out after finishing this novel. I warned you about spoilers, so don’t blame me when I tell you this: everybody dies in this book. All of the main characters. Some of them quite awfully, as well. Brynngar, the Space Wolf, jumps into the reactor. Skraal, the World Eater, is stabbed through the eye lens (that happens a few times, actually). Cestus kills the Word Bearer admiral, Zadkiel, only to bleed out from several wounds he received during the final battle. However, the saddest of all, for me, was the death of Mhotep, who gave his life to keep the Word Bearer’s Warp-spawned demon Wsoric on the material plane long enough that it was weakened, enabling him to stuff a grenade inside the demon’s body. He dies saving the Imperium from the predations of the Warp-spawn, but nobody he has encountered during the course of the novel is remotely grateful for his intercession. Just so sad!

You should definitely read this if you’re interested in the Horus Heresy, because it’s a great character-study of the different Legions, and sets up the climactic Battle of Calth between the Word Bearers and Ultramarines, famous – among other things – from the recent Horus Heresy boxed game. It’s a bit of a slog, and definitely something of a downer, but it’s one of those books you read for the small things…

Shadows Over Innistrad

Magic the Gathering Shadows Over Innistrad

Had a couple of games of Magic last week, using my usual small collection of decks against a few that used new Shadows Over Innistrad cards. Despite being really intrigued by the set back when it was announced, I’d actually not really paid much attention through spoiler season or (pre)release, though did pick up a fat pack when they came out so that I could at least have some of the cards to look at. But I didn’t look at them, either! It was all quite weirdly detached!

Since those games, where I mostly got my ass handed to me by werewolves, I’ve been looking to put together a mono-black Vampires deck for Standard, in the hope that I can also use it to play at FNM.

But let’s take a look at this set, because it’s shiny and I’ve been doing some research!

Magic the Gathering Shadows Over Innistrad

Shadows Over Innistrad is the 70th set for Magic: the Gathering, which kinda blows my mind to think about just how many cards that means are in this game, but anyway! Like Battle for Zendikar, it returns to a plane that has previously been explored (Innistrad block, from 2011), and features mechanics from that set along with some new stuff to keep the game fresh.

Transform is a fairly straightforward mechanic that involves double-faced cards: when a specific condition is met, you can flip the card over, usually into something much more frightening. This is like the flip-Planeswalkers from Magic: Origins, though the card stays on the battlefield rather than being exiled, so any counters or equipment on it stay on it.

Delirium is kinda nice, thematically, and reminds me of the Spell Mastery of Origins, though obviously not so specific. Basically, if you have four or more different card types in your graveyard, you can trigger a card’s Delirium effect. These vary wildly, usually exaggerating an effect already on a card (such as replacing or with and, you know the sort of thing).

Madness is, well, mad. It’s an alternative casting cost, that allows you to discard the card into exile, from where you can cast it by paying its Madness cost or discard it to the graveyard. I find the most interesting thing about this is that it allows you to play any card with Madness on anyone’s turn – so you can play Sorceries and Creatures on your opponent’s turn if forced to discard and you discard it with Madness. Yep, mad.

Skulk is a nice evade ability that prevents creatures with a greater power from blocking your skulking creatures. Skulking creatures are usually 1-power creatures with higher toughness, from what I’ve seen, meaning they can potentially peck away at you if you have high-power creatures out, though there are some interesting ways around it such as double- or triple-blocking, or using pump spells after you declare blockers – either way, you can potentially force your opponents to two-for-one (or worse) to deal with it.

Finally, there’s Investigate, which allows you to place Clue token cards onto the battlefield, which can be discarded to draw cards if you pay 2 mana.

Magic the Gathering Shadows Over Innistrad

So what about my Vampires?

Of all the tribal themes in Magic, Vampires is the one I’ve wanted to do something with the longest, partly because I have a black/red Vampires deck on the app and enjoy getting the combos together there. I’ve even gone so far as to buy a load of singles from the original Zendikar and Innistrad blocks to try and put something together for casual games. Given the plethora of Vampires in Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch, I started to put something together a couple of months ago, right before I lost interest in Shadows Over Innistrad really.

The main focus of this deck is to deal direct damage rather than relying on combat, and revolves around three cards that are pretty expensive to bring out, if I’m honest! The main guy is my Defiant Bloodlord. Seven mana is hardly a good card to hang a combo off, but I want this to work so badly, I’m willing to keep trying! The Defiant Bloodlord makes my opponent lose life equal to any amount of life I gain, and as soon as I saw how cool that card could be, given all of the lifegain shenanigans in black, I knew I wanted to build a deck around him!

The most reliable part of the combo, for me, is Drana’s Chosen and Vampire Envoy – use the Chosen to tap the Envoy, and gain one life, forcing my opponent to lose one life. If there was a way to untap creatures in mono black Standard, I’d love to get that in there, as I have three Envoys in the deck right now. But anyway, it’s still a work in progress!

Additional pieces for the Bloodlord come from Retreat to Hagra (I run 20 lands in order that, should I have actually managed a perfect draw for a turn-7 Bloodlord, I have a potential 13 more triggers for this), and two new cards from Shadows Over Innistrad: Alms of the Vein (causing 6 life loss for my opponent), and Indulgent Aristocrat. That last is essentially a filler card that is being used more for early-play Vampires that will allow for an anytime Stoneforge Masterwork to have more to count, though in the late game, I want my opponent to block my big threats, meaning he can potentially get in for 1 damage, and the lifelink will cause that to double. Additionally, Grotesque Mutation is a nice Instant to help buff another creature, the lifelink meaning damage will still occur to my opponent even if everything is blocked.

Magic the Gathering Shadows Over Innistrad

I’ve only tried the deck in two games, and didn’t have any of the Shadows cards in it at the time, but I was impressed at how powerfully it performed against my buddy Tony’s werewolves decks. Now that I have these additional cards in it, I’m excited to try it out again, and see how it can be improved upon during this Standard season!

As always, here’s a look at the deck for anyone curious as to what it involves:

Creatures (21):
Drana, Liberator of Malakir
Defiant Bloodlord (2)
Drana’s Chosen
Malakir Soothsayer
Kalastria Nightwatch
Stromkirk Mentor
Nirkana Assassin (2)
Malakir Cullblade
Bloodbond Vampire (2)
Kalastria Healer (3)
Vampire Envoy (3)
Indulgent Aristocrat (2)
Heir of Falkenrath

Instants (5):
Grotesque Mutation
Unholy Hunger (2)
Touch of Moonglove (2)

Sorceries (5):
Alms of the Vein
Dutiful Return (2)
Bone Splinters (2)

Artifacts (2):
Stoneforge Masterwork (2)

Enchantments (7):
Shadows of the Past (2)
Retreat to Hagra (2)
Call the Bloodline
Tainted Remedy
Vampiric Rites

Land (20):
Swamp (16)
Mortuary Mire (4)

So there we are! Like I said, it’s still something of a work in progress, and I need to make sure I can deal with some of the other Standard shenanigans going on right now. Some cards will certainly bear to be cut out of this – I particularly feel like I may need more Grotesque Mutations, you know? – but I have a lot of cards that pull creatures out of my graveyard to ensure, if something forces me to discard cards from my library, I can always pull back at least one Defiant Bloodlord if needed.

Anyway, that’s all for now, I’ll probably be back once I’ve tried it out some more with a status report or something, anyway!

New ways to play

Age of Sigmar news

So the news has dropped, folks. Age of Sigmar will have points values, probably around the first anniversary I’m guessing – early July, anyway. Seems like a lot of folks are pretty happy.

In addition, they’re bringing a narrative style that sounds like it could be awesome, though I’m vaguely suspicious as the campaign books that have been published so far already contain a high degree of this style of play. Maybe there’ll be an almost-RPG feel to the game? I don’t know. Should be really cool, anyway, and is by far the most exciting part of this announcement for me.

My local store has always had a high degree of narrative players, however, so I doubt there’ll be a big change here. While I’m slightly dubious about what adding points into the game will mean for what we’ve had so far, I’m nevertheless intrigued by just what’s going to happen in the coming months…

Hobby Progress, week 16

Well folks, it was bound to happen at some point, I know, though part of me was hoping it wouldn’t come to pass – last week, I didn’t paint a single model. I’ve still done some hobby bits and pieces, which I’ll show off here, though I’ve only picked a paint brush up to move it off the dining table. I’m quite sad by this, as things had been moving pretty well up to that point! But anyway, let’s take a look at what I have done…

I had three days off last week, ostensibly to get caught up with the degree I’m still in the throes of doing. Well, catch up I did, but I’d also planned to get a few models finished off. Unfortunately, I seem to have been hit with a severe bout of lack of motivation, so to try to combat this I started building up some Devastator Space Marines. I’ve currently got three built and primed, including the sergeant above, but haven’t really been in the mood to do anything with them. That said, they are really nice-looking models, the heavy weapons being a nice change from the usual bolters of the tactical marines, and a chunky reminder of the almost gothic-punk origins of 40k.

Still lacking motivation, I spent Friday thinking about what I would like to paint, but came up dry so instead thought of building something that might inspire me, and started building Genestealer Cult characters from the Deathwatch: Overkill game. They are very nice models, and not all that daft to assemble like some of the character models from these games (Kurtha Sedd, I’m thinking of you here!) That said, I hate it when they sculpt cloaks in multiple parts, and the join isn’t easy to scrape over to smooth it. Anyway! I didn’t think I’d be doing anything with that game for a long time, so I suppose it’s good to have made a start on some of it!

I’ve also built up a Space Marine bike, one from the kit I bought back before Christmas in celebration of my promotion in work. Bikes look hilarious to me, and I’ve often thought about getting lots more, but for now have just the three. Anyway! I don’t know if I’m actually going to glue him to the base looking like that, though I thought it looked particularly hilarious, both for its own sake, and also because the Genestealer Magos looks like he’s using the Force on it or something in the photo! I want to try and get a greater degree of customisation out of the next bikers I build – in particular, I’d like to get one shooting a bolter or something, rather than merely holding onto the handle bars. Not sure how to accomplish that, really, but it’ll be an interesting experiment!

Finally, in search of motivation yesterday, I bought something fairly out of the blue for me, in an attempt to perhaps spark off interest in the hobby anew. I’ve been listening to a lot of the Vaults of Terra overview videos on youtube (they’re really great, incidentally, highly recommend giving him a follow, such informative videos!) specifically the aspects of 40k lore that I don’t know a lot about, and I was really intrigued by the Grey Knights lore – definitely watch the linked video if you want to know more, there!

As with the Deathwing and Mechanicum Electro-Priests, I’m not intending to make a whole new army here! I’ve been looking into getting to my local GW for some 40k, and much like with the Age of Sigmar scene, it seems Chaos players are very prevalent there (and Eldar…sigh…) So I thought it could be highly thematic to have a squad of Grey Knights tagged onto my Ultramarines (whenever I manage to get that army built!) and go against the powers of the Warp together! Of course, thematically, the Grey Knights would then just destroy the Ultramarines survivors as well, but we won’t linger on that for now!

So there we have it anyway – 15 weeks of painting progress, then a week of just nothing. Of course, this has happened in the past, so I’m not really concerned that I’m losing interest or anything, more just accepting it as a natural part of being a hobbyist I guess! I do have a lot of other stuff to keep me going, anyway, including a few boardgames that I’d like to try out or get back to, so expect some interesting game day blogs coming up in the next few weeks!

Hopefully week 17’s update blog won’t be quite so sad…

Orruks! Ironjawz! Oh my!

It’s new Sigmar time again!

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m actually getting quite excited about these gentlemen! I’ve not previously been all that into old-style Orcs, and while I have sometimes flirted with the idea of Orks, I never really did anything about it. While previously, you’d tend to pick an army and then focus on that section of the product range with something like tunnel-vision, Age of Sigmar has made things so much more free by allowing you to field an army with anything stuck to it, and I’ve already been attaching Sylvaneth and Seraphon to my Stormcast Eternals…

Ironjawz Maw Krusha Age of Sigmar

The biggest draw, for me, is this chap. I’m still undecided if I actually want to get the big dragon for the Stormcast Eternals line, which is part of the reason why I didn’t do any kind of feature-blog here as I tend to do when new models get released for pre-order. There’s just something about this model, however, that I really like somehow. The spoiler pictures have been doing the rounds of the internet for a couple of weeks now, of course, and initially I was wondering if I could adapt it, putting one of my Ogres on top there instead. These spoiler pictures weren’t too great, so I couldn’t really see what the Orruks themselves looked like, but had just assumed I wouldn’t really be all that interested in them.

Orruks Ironjawz Age of Sigmar

Well I’m actually intrigued now! Part of the reason, I suppose, is just the fact they’re shiny and new, but I do like variety as well, and often think of the Destruction faction more like mercenaries than anything else, so including some alongside my Stormcasts isn’t entirely out of the realms of possibility. I mean, Sigmar is trying to purge the Realms of the taint of Chaos, and Orruks and Ogors just seem to want to fight, so why not?

One of the reasons why I like these chaps is their fluff. This week’s White Dwarf has got a lot to say about the new Orruks, obviously, and a lot of it uses that Cockney twang that often looks so annoying, but somehow just fits right in here! It’s one of the things that makes the Warhammer setting so uniquely British, and I love it all the more for it!

Orruks Ironjawz Age of Sigmar

While I’m not always a fan of the big stuff (it is a miniatures game, after all), I plan to pick one of these up next weekend, along with the Battletome, because why the hell not, and possibly another unit of something. Not quite sure yet. But even if they don’t go alongside my Stormcasts, it might be the excuse I need to get moving with my Ogors and get a true Destruction army under way!

As for colour schemes, I definitely won’t be going for that eye-damaging yellow look. I don’t know if they’re trying to draw a close comparison with the Orks of 40k, whose studio scheme also uses a lot of yellow, but the teaser in this week’s White Dwarf has got me thinking maybe they intend to produce cross-system kits? “Dakka” is more 40k than fantasy, after all, so maybe they’re going to take a route similar to Chaos Demons and have stuff that can be used in both games. But that’s getting off-topic. I’m thinking I might go for some kind of red armour, though I’m not the biggest fan of painting red if I’m honest. There’s at least a week to decide, though – and knowing how fast I paint, I’ll probably have a lot longer than that!

The Real Ghostbusters!

It’s time for some more Saturday morning cartoon nostalgia!

Back in the late 1980s, Columbia made a cartoon series based on the original film that ran to 140 episodes across two seasons, which always sounds a huge amount, but then something like He-Man had roughly the same number, so I guess it was something of a standard. As a fun fact, the cartoon was called “The Real Ghostbusters” because of a dispute with Filmation, the company behind He-Man, Brave Starr, and many others – Columbia actually had to license the name for the film in 1984, and it led to the storyline of the first episode (shown in the youtube video above) that shows a rival group of ghost hunters trying to steal the work of Egon, Ray, Peter and Winston.


As much as I love the franchise, I have to say, I’ve never really found the same kind of love for the cartoon as I have for the film(s), even given my previously-mentioned toy obsession, the toys of course being directly made from the cartoon and not the movie.

Looking back, I don’t really remember any particular episode from the cartoon series, though I do have vague memories of watching the show as a child. For some odd reason, the clearest memory of the Real Ghostbusters was a book/audio tape combo called The Cabinet of Calamari, based off episode 63:

The cartoons are pretty goofy to watch them today, and while I’m a great apologist for a lot of this sort of stuff (check out my Ring Raiders, D&D and Visionaries blogs in this category!) I just can’t bring myself to watch these things without cringing a little! I mean, Slimer is the Ghostbusters’ pet, for heaven’s sake!!

It is worth mentioning that a few of the ghosts from the new Cryptozoic game have their origin in this cartoon series, including the Boogeyman and Samhain. There is a definite nostalgia value here, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing off to buy these on DVD any time soon…

Birthday Week Game Day Extra!

It’s birthday week here on, and time for a bit of game day extra, as I take a look at some more nostalgia from my childhood: The Real Ghostbusters: The Game!

Ghostbusters retro games

Oh, this one’s hilarious! Dating from 1989, the game is a tie-in to the cartoon series of the same name (more on that tomorrow!) You play one of the four Ghostbusters, or Janine or Slimer, and travel around the board trying to trap ghosts – once all the ghosts are trapped, the winner is the person who had the most.

Ghostbusters retro games

Along the way, there are mechanics for player interaction where you can attempt to “spook” your opponents – basically by playing rock/paper/scissors – to take their kit cards. Without all three pieces of kit (proton pack, proton gun, trap), you can’t trap ghosts and so cannot win the game. When you come to trap ghosts, the “bust-o-meter” is spun to determine the strength of your stream: if it’s higher than the ghost’s slime value (listed on the side of the board), you trap it. That’s pretty much all there is to it, though Action cards do allow you to interact with the game a little more, such as moving to ghosts to trap them etc.

I had this game from new, and seem to remember trying to get my brother to play it with me back in the day. I found it in the attic when I moved a few years ago, along with another awesome retro game that will be featured here no doubt eventually, and convinced my regular gaming buddy Tony to play, but it didn’t really stand up to the test of time.

Something I wasn’t all that impressed by was just how easy it is to knock somebody out of the game entirely, by winning just one round of rock/paper/scissors. Given your ability in the game is based entirely on something so arbitrary is just bizarre, I thought – it feels more luck-based than any kind of dice game, somehow! Maybe I’m just not good at rock/paper/scissors, though?

At any rate, it was fun to revisit the past, but I can’t say I’d recommend hunting down a copy on ebay anytime soon!

Ghostbusters comics!

Let’s continue with birthday week here at, with a look at something I’ve only fairly recently discovered: Ghostbusters comics!

Ghostbusters comics

Shocking stuff, I know, but I was completely unaware of these creations until the board game from Cryptozoic, which stated it uses the artwork from the ongoing series from IDW comics. Having no idea such things existed, I decided it was time to investigate! That was in October 2014, and despite buying the second volume a couple of months later, I still hadn’t actually gotten around to reading them until preparations began for this very blog you’re reading now!

The ongoing series began in September 2011 and would eventually run to 16 issues. The two books I’ve read so far really have the feel of the movies in terms of the characters we know and love there, and since reading them a few days ago, I’ve been trying my best to track down some more!

The first book collects the first four issues that tell a story connected to the first film in the series. Gozer the Gozerian is attempting to come back to this plane of existence, only this time doesn’t want to make the mistake of having its form chosen entirely at random. Instead, it has spawned a new creation, called Idulnas, who will attempt to sway the Decider (Ray, in case you’d forgotten) into choosing a much more horrible, destructive form. Well, despite Idulnas’ attempts otherwise, Ray still chooses the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and the story ends with New York under six feet of marshmallow.

The second book continues a couple of the plot threads, but takes our intrepid quartet upstate to Schenectady, where a paranormal manifestation has taken over a theme park. The manifestation possesses Peter Venkman, though Venkman manages to exorcise himself and the ghost is busted. The book ends with Egon following a hunch about the increased ambient PKE-readings around the city that leads him to an old schoolfriend he thought dead, Eugene Visitor. Turns out, Eugene has captured Death, meaning he didn’t die in school, but also that nobody else is truly dying, hence the increased paranormal activity.

They’re a fantastic pair of books, and I can’t believe it’s taken me over a year and a half to get around to reading them! Sure, the first book is a little derivative of the movie, but I thought this posed an interesting question about the nature of the Ghostbusters franchise as a whole – just what is it all about? The movies show us four guys who managed to come up with a way of dealing with paranormal activity in New York City, and so run around with proton packs and shooting ghosts into traps. That’s really it – there’s no big drama in their personal lives, as those personal lives aren’t really all that important to the story. We get four almost caricatures, and then the game is afoot!

So it was interesting, to me, to get a storyline that begins to explore who these people are. It’s early days, of course, as there are a whole load of these books available on amazon, but I liked in particular seeing the character development of Peter Venkman, all-too-often relegated to being smart-mouthed comic relief. During his possession in the second book, we get to see more about him, but we also actually get to see just how capable he is in such circumstances. Ray and Egon get along because they’re the nerdy-scientist trope, and Winston is the everyman who answered a job ad, but why is Peter even there? Well, now we know. The others aren’t ignored either, as we get a little bit more light shed on each. It was interesting to see more of Egon in particular, and I hope more is explored there in later volumes.

Definitely worth the trouble getting hold of these books!