Eldritch Moon spoiler season!

Wow. I’m not really intending to post a whole bunch of blogs about this, but I wanted to say something about this today, at least, because I’m kinda blown away by how interesting this new stuff is for the upcoming set, Eldritch Moon. If you’re not following the spoilers, then turn back now! Otherwise, take a look at this video that went up on Wizards’ website yesterday:

My goodness, meld cards!

When I first watched this video, I wasn’t convinced. I mean, it just felt way too gimmicky for my liking, and I didn’t think I would ever want to bother with it. I mean, sure, the card is a beast when you can get it melded, and recent spoilers seem to support that other cards will be similarly insane, but I couldn’t really see me playing a deck with these things. I’d much rather have won the game by the time any such meld shenanigans could have happened.

But I’ve been mulling it all over today, and I think I might be convinced.

First of all, I still think it’s a bit gimmicky. And mechanically, I think it could be a bit of a nightmare. Knowing how poor my luck is, I don’t think I would ever be able to get to the point where both of the required cards are out, and even if I could, I would probably end up having one or both bounced or something happening to them! But I really like the fact that one “side” of the card is a perfectly good card, and allows you to meld if you have the required other “side”, while that second “side” allows you to essentially bring back the first from your graveyard, if it should have ended up in there. Definitely leads to a tactical play, and I think it could be a whole other level as you try to mind game your opponent. Just play Gisela the Broken Blade and watch the panic whether you have Bruna the Fading Light in your deck or not! (I think my favourite play would be to play them the other way around, just to confuse the issue!)

Thematically, however, I think it’s really cool as a demonstration of the insanity that has invaded Innistrad after Emrakul’s arrival. It’s a crazy mechanic, let’s make no mistake, so entirely fitting with the craziness that’s going on there!

I’m scared for the pre-release, of course, but I’m also more than a little bit excited now, I have to admit!

Secret Wars I

Hey everybody!
Tuesday means just one thing here at spalanz.com: boardgames! Today, I’m taking a first-look at one of the big-box expansions for Marvel Legendary: Secret Wars volume one. It’s an expansion that came out almost a year ago now, in support of the Secret Wars storyline that was Marvel’s thing for 2015. Not knowing anything about that storyline, I was nevertheless intrigued by the look of a lot of the cards and mechanics, though have only now gotten round to playing with the game!

Marvel Legendary Secret Wars

In true big-box expansion style, there are a whole load of new cards – 350, according to the back of the box! In addition to the ‘more of the same’ heroes and villains and masterminds, we get a couple of other interesting twists that I’ll get to shortly.

The superheroes of the game are predominantly divided into The Illuminati and The Cabal, which sounds really intriguing to someone who doesn’t know what either of those things mean in the Marvel universe! There are also Avengers and X-Men, and a new Spider-Man, so there’s a broad spectrum there. The four masterminds are really odd, however, and have kinda fired my interest to see just what the storyline was about! We have a zombie Green Goblin, a wasteland Hulk, a “goblin queen” Madelyne Pryor, and a “super sentinel” called Nimrod. All very interesting! It’s important to note that some of the artwork – and perhaps, some of the concepts – is from the original Secret Wars event that ran throughout Marvel comics in the mid-1980s, which I’m slightly dismayed to note means it’s roughly as old as I am… Anyway!

Marvel Legendary Secret Wars

From what I’ve seen thus far, there aren’t any massive changes to game play, you just do as you always do in this game, recruiting heroes and fighting villains, all the while trying to stop the mastermind before his scheme goes off. They have made a few small changes to the way the game can play, of course, by enabling some villains to become a second mastermind if they escape! Looking at the Wasteland Kingpin card in the above picture, you can see he has a Master Strike ability, which will trigger if he has escaped and is placed as a second mastermind. These new bad guys don’t replace they current mastermind, but rather act in concert with him, meaning you need to fight extra hard to win! While this didn’t trigger in the game I played, I really like the idea, and I hope that we see it happen on future villain groups, also!

A new bystander is added to the game, a Banker, who gives you recruiting power when you rescue him, but only to buy a hero below the bank. A new small deck of cards is also added, Sidekicks, who allow you to return them to the Sidekick deck to draw two cards. You can only buy one per turn, though Black Panther’s rare card allows you to just gain three of them, and they can prove to be really, really useful when you need to dig through your deck for the better cards! I also thought this new deck was super thematic, as a Sidekick is basically providing you with a modicum of help without being too overpowering in and of itself.

Marvel Legendary Secret Wars

Time for the big change to the game: the one vs many mechanic.

Marvel Legendary is a co-operative game, where the players work together to overcome the evil mastermind and win. However, in the manner of Descent, you can now have a player take on the role of that evil mastermind, and actively work against the players!

The mastermind player has a deck of Ambition cards, though he does also get a starter deck of SHIELD agents like the regular players. On his turn, the mastermind flips over the top of the Ambition deck rather than the top of the villain deck, and places it face-up in an Ambition row. He can spend the attack points to play any of these Ambition cards, which have a universally bad effect for the hero players, but the mastermind player can still recruit heroes and defeat villains if he wants to.

I haven’t tried this mode, and was only able to summarise it above by reading what the rules sheet has to say on the subject. My first impression of the mode is that it feels distinctly tacked-on, though it’s probably the best way to implement such a mechanic onto an established game.

To be blunt, there isn’t really any meaningful interaction between the regular players and the mastermind player: the ambition cards are basically ways to mess with the regular players, but the players will likely know what the mastermind is going to do because they can see all four ambition cards at all time in the row. I imagine this mode would see the regular players just carry on as they always do, with the odd collected groan if the mastermind then plays a card that forces them to discard all of their attacking superheroes, for instance. But there’s no way to stop them on their turn, and it just feels a bit like the mastermind would be a marginal player in the game. Maybe it plays completely differently, though, so I suppose I’d have to try it first.

It’s worth mentioning that this is only volume one, and there are a few more Ambition cards in volume two (which I have played previously, and will hopefully get round to taking a look here soon!) These new cards do much more interesting things, though are still in the vein of messing with the regular players rather than the more directly interactive stuff. But I think I might be expecting too much from the mode of play, and as I said above, it’s probably the best way this could be implemented.

Marvel Legendary Secret Wars

There’s a definite flavour that comes out of this box, and it definitely makes it worthwhile for a purchase. I’ve already said that I don’t really know anything about the storyline, but this didn’t really impact on my enjoyment of it, though I would imagine that knowing the story would have a distinct advantage as you could get some really flavourful villain and hero groups going on there. I have played with volume two, and this will have its own blog, but I’m not sure how the two fit right now, if indeed they do at all, as there are distinctly different themes from the second box.

All in all, really enjoyable to play, and definitely worth getting if you haven’t already done so!

Hobby Progress, week 25

Well folks, the title of this blog is a little bit of a misnomer – as there has been little progress made this week. I’ve had a pretty crappy week of migraines, so haven’t been able to do much of anything, unfortunately! But I have managed to build something:

It’s the Seeker Chariot of Slaanesh! I’ve been wanting to put this together since I had it, because it looks so complicated and stuff, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten so far.

Hopefully next week will see a little more progress!

Deathwatch!

Hey everybody!
It’s another game day here at spalanz.com, and for today’s blog I’m doing something a little different, looking at a game that I’ve never actually played, and don’t think I ever will! But expect a lot of waxing lyrical over the next few paragraphs, as I take a look at the Deathwatch RPG!

One of Fantasy Flight’s four RPGs set in the Warhammer 40k universe, Deathwatch allows you to take on the role of a space marine as part of a Deathwatch kill team, in a variety of adventures, foremost of which are purging the xenos from the galaxy.

The game is played in a d100 system, where you roll 2 d10s and add a modifier, hoping to roll under the target number. For example, your base stats are generated from rolling two d10s and adding 30. The check you attempt will then be against one of these stats, with a modifier to show how easy/hard it is (+30 for easy to -30 for very hard). So if you try to trick somebody who isn’t paying attention, you may have to roll against your fellowship characteristic with a modifier of +30, your target number could therefore be as high as 80. This core mechanic is somewhat confusing to someone like myself, who grew up on the d20 system, but it’s always good to try out new stuff!

There are a few things that work alongside this, and one that is worth mentioning here is the Demeanour mechanic. It’s basically a nice way to get people to do some real roleplaying of their characters at the table – each character has two demeanours, a personal one and a Chapter-based one, but you can only use one of these once in any one game. While some people can be uncomfortable with this sort of thing, I suppose it’s important to point out here that it is a role-playing game, so you should expect to role-play at least a little… To me, at least, it sounds really cool!

Each space marine character has a set of nine characteristics, which manage to evoke both the tabletop wargame as well as classic roleplaying archetypes: weapons skill, ballistics skill, strength, toughness, agility, intelligence, perception, willpower and fellowship. The interesting thing, for me, about the system is its use of solo mode and squad mode, as mentioned in the video trailer above.

As a starting point, FFG published a web scenario, Final Sanction, which acts as an introduction to the game, and is highly recommended for getting into the game. It pits several pre-generated characters against a genestealer horde in a run-down manufactorum complex, that staple of Warhammer 40k lore!

Deathwatch RPG

The game is set in the Jericho Reach, and a wealth of supplementary material has been published that explores that setting, including Necron Tomb Worlds and Tyranid invasions. The core book comes with rules for creating marines from one of six Chapters (Black Templars, Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Space Wolves, Storm Wardens and Ultramarines), though these supplements feature many, many more – my personal favourite was finding out that Novamarines are presented in Honour the Chapter!

One of the draws of this game is always going to be the wide variety of space marine chapters you can choose to base your character upon. Having them all come together as a Deathwatch kill-team is going to cause some problems for unit cohesion, but this is where the solo mode shines, as you can retain that sense of your own chapter tactics, while in squad mode you can work together with your battle brothers to achieve the mission objective. It sounds really awesome, I have to say!

I came to this game late in 2014, when I was first getting into the 40k universe with my Necrons, and was hungering for knowledge about the faction while waiting for the new Codex to drop. The Outer Reach really fired my imagination, not least because of that amazing cover art, and over the months since I’ve bought a few of the books available (as shown above!) While, as I said at the beginning of this blog, I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance to play this game, and it looks like FFG might actually have abandoned it now, it remains an idea that really interests me, and the books remain a constant delight to read through for background, etc.

Hobby Progress, week 24

Hey everybody,
It’s week 24 of my Hobby Progress blog, where I show off some of the awesome stuff that I’ve been doing to progress with my various Warhammer projects – and various really is the theme! As hinted at last week, this week’s report is going off on the deep end with Chaos, let’s take a look!

Yes, this happened. I feel like I need to provide some kind of explanation for this, as I feel most people who have followed this progress series – or, indeed, almost anything that I’ve written on this blog – might be a little startled by what appears to be such a left-turn in my hobby career.

I’ve talked previously about how I first got interested in Warhammer through the card game, Warhammer: Invasion. That’s still one of my all-time favourite games, and I’m still amazed that I’ve made it through more than two years of blogging about games without doing a spotlight on it… Anyway, the card game is just great, and while I haven’t played it in a while, my all-time favourite deck to play is a Chaos one. I think I’ve tried out every kind of deck in my time playing the game, but Chaos is by far and away the one for me. Indeed, because of this, it’s more weird that I haven’t gotten any Chaos models sooner, really! (Well, there was that Demon Prince…)

So I managed to pick up a box of Bloodletters super-cheap recently, and I’d long been thinking about getting some Bloodreavers or similar because I know I’m not very good at painting skin, but would like to get better. So I decided I would like to get a small warband together of Chaos dudes: the plan was to get some Bloodreavers, led by a Bloodsecrator, and include a small band of Bloodletters. Initially that was going to be it, but then I thought it’d be nice to have the Herald of Khorne miniature in there, too, so I bought him last weekend.

But then, there’s Slaanesh…

Again, if you’ve been following my hobby adventures, you’ll know that I’ve painted my Ogors purple. I have quite a number of these guys, though only one has actually been finished so far. At any rate, one of the reasons for this is that I like the idea of Slaaneshi Ogors, but I also just think that, of all the Chaos gods, Slaanesh is the coolest. That isn’t because I’m a perverted degenerate (I think), but more because Khorne is all brutal, Nurgle is just disgusting, and Tzeentch is pretty but weird. Slaanesh is also weird, but there’s a distinct elegance to his stuff most of the time, before it devolves into the obsessive behaviour stuff. There are a lot of art pieces for both the Invasion card game and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (which I also love, but haven’t featured yet) that feature Slaanesh cultists and the like, and they’re really quite beautiful.

On a tangent here, I feel like GW would be doing a great disservice to the community if they actually do get rid of Slaanesh, which many people seem to have been fearing is the plan for Age of Sigmar since its release last year. The Horned Rat has already displaced the Dark Prince in the pantheon, and I’m concerned that it would be something akin to dumbing down the franchise to do this permanently. Sure, there are problematic things with Slaanesh but, as pointed out in an excellent article recently featured on BolS, there is a way to do this that could still work, and I hope GW will find that way. Certainly, the short story from Christmas, Godless, implies there will be something to come on this subject. I may actually dedicate a blog more fully to this subject in the near future, anyway!

So anyway, I like the idea of Slaanesh, and as the instagram picture at the top of this article shows, I’ve also decided to go for a kit that I’ve liked the look of for a long time, the Seeker Chariot! Having seen just how amazing they look in fellow blogger altsain’s post from Tabletop Gamer’s Diary (which you should totally check out by the way, as there is some fantastic content to be found there), I decided to get one! Unfortunately, it came broken, so I’m waiting on a replacement sprue, but it looks fantastic, and I cannot wait to get started there!

I think my Slaanesh thing will be a little bigger than the warband described for Khorne – I’m concerned that GW might be about to get rid of the range, so I want to get at least one of everything, but I’m also thinking I might get another Seeker Chariot, and perhaps a third to make up as a Hellflayer. So, I’m really excited for that!

But onwards! What have I actually been doing this week? Well, the answer is: Bloodletters. I’ve actually only built six of the ten so far, and have sprayed the whole lot Mephiston red, so it feels little like I’ve been cheating to say I’ve painted anything this week, but there we have it, unfortunately! They do look absolutely great, however!

Hobby Progress 24

I’m very excited by these little devils, and while I’m probably going to go for a really simple and straightforward colourscheme, I’m looking forward to seeing them come together all the same!

That’s it for this week, anyway! I’m probably not going to have the time to do anything this coming week, as I’m on holiday, but you never know what next Sunday’s blog might bring… stay tuned!

No longer Standard: Magic 2012

I’ve been doing a few game day blogs on Magic the Gathering over the last few months, but today I thought I’d do something a little different, and take a look at some of the older cards. While I really enjoy playing Standard decks, and even like that rotation keeps things fresh and stuff, I also like investigating some of the older things that are still hanging around, and have built up a small collection of cards from previous sets of the last ten or so years. Today, I thought I’d have a bit of a ramble about one of those I’ve recently been investigating: the Magic 2012 core set!

Magic 2012

Some of you might think this choice a little odd – why start with a core set? There’s so much theme from the various sets over the years, yet core sets are, by design, fairly bland and easy to get into. Well, I actually like the idea of the core sets, as it seems like they provided a lot of the staple cards for that Standard season, provided a really cool way to get into the game with fairly minimal confusion, and also provided a good amount of reprinted cards for players who don’t have a lot of cards. I’m not exactly cut up to see them go, either, and the new Planeswalker decks do sound cool, but still!

M12 has especially fired my imagination, however, as having a lot of really awesome-looking cards: the staples are there, but there are also a couple of interesting new things along the way, and the art! Oh my, the art. I think this is the first set I’ve encountered where I’ve felt genuine regret for not having investigated this game sooner. I can’t quite explain it, I just feel like it’s a really great set to make a start with.

Magic 2012

Like all sets, you get a couple of cycles of cards that have some kind of theme to them, to help provide some kind of theme in an otherwise generic set. Here, my stand-out favourite is the Mage cycle of 2-cost 2/1 cards that have some flavourful theme for their colour. This is one of the things that attracted me to this set in particular – look at the art on these things! They each look absolutely stunning! While these cards aren’t going to set the world on fire, I still love these sorts of things!

The set also has a cycle of themed artifacts that gain you life if anyone casts a certain colour of spell, similar to the Magus Staffs of later core sets; a cycle of Titan cards that cost 6 mana and have a powerful enter the battlefield effect – and five Planeswalkers.

Core sets have minimal confusing mechanics, though do feature a couple to get players into the game. For M12, the returning mechanic was Bloodthirst, which returned from the original Ravnica block in 2005. If you play a creature with the Bloodthirst keyword after an opponent was dealt damage on your turn, that creature comes into play with a number of +1/+1 counters on it. The core set also introduced Hexproof as an evergreen ability, which I thought interesting!

Magic 2012

As I said, one of the main draws to this set for me was the art – it’s just so beautiful! I’ve been struggling to get a deck together, as I’ve bought a bunch of packs online in a sale, along with a couple of singles just for the art, but have managed to put this thing together that has yet to see play:

Creatures:
Alabaster Mage (x3)
Onyx Mage (x3)
Benalish Veteran (x2)
Serra Angel (x2)
Bloodrage Vampire (x2)
Vampire Outcasts
Elite Vanguard (x2)
Blood Seeker (x2)
Arbalest Elite (x2)
Duskhunter Bat (x2)
Stonehorn Dignitary
Pride Guardian

Enchantments:
Personal Sanctuary
Divine Favor
Lifelink

Instants/Sorceries:
Taste of Blood (x2)
Timely Reinforcements
Sorin’s Thirst (x3)
Consume Spirit
Doom Blade

Artifacts:
Angel’s Feather (x2)
Demon’s Horn (x2)
Elixir of Immortality

Lands:
11 Plains
10 Swamps

Like most of my decks, it’s creature-heavy, as I like having guys out on the field to do things with. There isn’t really a theme to the deck, though it does have a bit of a lifelink thing going on, notably with the ‘lucky charms’ artifact cards. It primarily sprung out of a desire to use the mages, however, and while I don’t really hold out much hope for it – particularly seeing as how I’ve really limited myself in only using M12 cards – I think it’ll be fun to at least try!

I’ve been enjoying quite a few of these old-style block decks of late, so stay tuned for more “no longer Standard” rambling blogs soon!

Hobby Progress, week 23

It’s week 23 already! Can you believe it?! I’ve had another fairly slow week, as I try to get the two Orruks that I’d started last week somewhere near finished. Progress has actually been good, I’m quite impressed with myself at least, so I’m glad to have that to report, anyway!

Hobby Progress 23

The new chaps were painted red rather than green, as I wanted to try something different, so in my headcanon, the red Orruks are the run-of-the-mill brutes who like to bash stuff up, while the green variety are more cunning and climb to the top of the pile. Hence why my green guy is the brute chief (do they have a name?) and the other two, well, aren’t.

Hobby Progress 23

These guys’ armour was painted following the Stoneskulls scheme as laid out in the How to Paint Ironjawz book from Games Workshop, and while I’ve probably been more heavy-handed with the sepia shade this time, overall I’m quite pleased with the result. I’ve once again gone for the flayed-skin look to the bandages and wrappings, and the loincloth thing on the one with the big choppa. I think the overall effect is of too much red in the model – and what with the bases and the armour having a similar colour scheme also, it’s led to a fairly narrow palette overall!

I quite like the effects on the weapons, though, even if I do say so myself! The wrappings are kislev flesh shaded with a mix of carroburg crimson and agrax earthshade; this shade mix was then used first on the axes to try to simulate dried/old blood. I shaded them lightly with agrax earthshade and then nuln oil to tone it down, but overall it looks nice and grimy – well-used, if you will! I’m toying with the idea of trying some kind of rust effect, but for now I prefer to have less than more.

And finally, the two remaining brutes! #Orruks #Warhammer #AgeOfSigmar

A post shared by Mark (@marrrkusss) on

Finally, I’ve built up the last of the models from the box. I said above that it’s quite the narrow palette, and that’s kinda putting me off jumping immediately into doing them, I’m half-thinking I’ll submit them to the next painting competition at my local GW, which is one where you need to paint up an entire unit of Age of Sigmar stuff. I could just put some of my recent Stormcasts there, but I think I’d rather do these guys. It’ll force me to complete the unit of five, at any rate! So stay tuned for that!

It’s been a quiet week, then, without a great deal of activity to speak of. I’m pleased to be making progress, of course, but still. Next week will hopefully be very exciting, anyway – and, dare I say, Chaotic…?