There is only war!

Hey everybody!
Well, after the exciting launch of the new edition of Warhammer 40,000 at the weekend, there really could only be one game that would be featured on my game day blog today! This isn’t going to be any kind of exhaustive account of the game, but more some of my initial thoughts after getting the new starter set and having had a flick through the rules. So let’s take a look inside the Dark Imperium!

Warhammer 40,000 Dark Imperium

Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition is amazing. While I haven’t yet had a chance to field any of my armies in the new rules, I can still say that this is the most excited that I have ever been for this game in the last three years, and I’ve been fiddling with army lists and devouring rules, building and painting more miniatures, and generally basking in the glow of the new for a while now. 7th Edition confused and scared me, and given the fact that this is supposed to be a game that you’re supposed to play for fun, that’s just weird. By contrast, 8th Edition seems much more straightforward, while retaining a degree of depth.

I had a total of three games played during 7th, so I’m not about to launch into a comparison of the two editions, but I may still make the odd comment. To begin, though, I think it’ll help to go over the phases of the game and see how the whole thing is structured.

So, once you’ve chosen armies and missions, and have gone through the various stages of setting up your miniatures on the table, the game begins with the Movement phase. Models all have a Movement characteristic, which is now representative of the individual models rather than a stock number for a particular unit type, no matter that unit’s biology. I do like this, as it makes things much easier because everything is right there on the datasheet for that unit, rather than having to remember stuff all the time. (I’ve ranted about this before, though!)

Next comes the Psychic Phase. Something that I usually don’t bother with, having my main army as Necrons and my second army as Dark Eldar, the Psychic Phase is nevertheless something that I really like the look of, and has been one of the reasons I’m so keen to get moving on my Genestealer Cults army! Things have been simplified, so that you now attempt to manifest a psychic power by rolling 2D6, and Deny the Witch just means roll 2D6 and beat the test result. Seems very straightforward, rather than gaining all those warp charge dice, and using some to do things with and all the rest of it.

The Shooting Phase has changed insofar as units can split fire, and the roll to hit is now a target in the unit’s profile, for example 3+ for the Genestealer Primus, rather than having a Ballistics Skill value that is subtracted from 7 in order to find out what you need to roll. BS, indeed. There is still the nonsense about rolling again to see if you wound the target, comparing the strength value of the weapon to the toughness value of the model you’re shooting. It seems unnecessary to have to roll twice to see if a shot was fired at a unit, but at least there’s no longer the need to memorise a massive table of what you need to roll to actually wound somebody – now, there’s a very simple chart that does simplify this element a great deal. My main issue though is that this element is still in the game, to begin with! In real life, if I shoot you in the head, the odds are it will cause a wound, you know? Anyway… There are still Saves to be made, either armour saves or cover saves, and this involves another change, as weapons have modifiers to these saves on them now. I like this, as it makes a lot more sense to me. For example, going back to our Primus example, he has a Save of 5+. However, if you’re shooting at him with a Necron Immortal wielding a gauss blaster, those weapons have -2 Armour Penetration, meaning that the saving throw is made worse by 2. So that Primus needs to roll a 7 or more to avoid that wound, on a single D6. I don’t know if you’d ever use Immortals for that sort of attack, but the Primus does have five wounds, and could be the Genestealer Cults’ warlord, so it could be useful!

After shooting comes the Charge Phase, where you can charge an enemy unit within 12″ by rolling 2D6 and moving, before which the enemy has the chance to fire Overwatch at you. This is an out-of-sequence shooting attack, where all shots hit on 6+ regardless of the previous Ballistics Skill business, to reflect the panic I suppose. Whereas previously this could be detrimental to your charge, as you had to remove casualties from the front, meaning you might not have enough models to get within melee distance, now the controlling player chooses where his casualties come from, so you can remove models from the back if you want.

The Fight Phase has changed insofar as the charging unit will go first, now that Initiative has gone. I’ve talked about this before as well, how I liked Initiative and stuff, so I’m a bit gutted about that. Apart from that, though, it does still feel mechanically like 7th Edition. You charge, you pile in, then you slug it out with hand-to-hand weapons. This is pretty much the same as shooting before, though you use the Weapons Skill value to determine hits. I’m looking forward to seeing how my Necron Lychguard fare this time around, as the warscythes do look to be quite beastly in close combat – hitting on 3+, then wounding most often on 3+ also with a -4 AP and 2 wounds per hit, that looks awesome! As an example, a unit of five Lychguard would make ten attack rolls that hit a Genestealer Cults Chimera on 3+, they’d wound on 4+ because the strength and toughness are both 7, but due to the AP, the Chimera’s save would be 7+. It’s too early in the day to work out probability, but I’m sure it would be glorious!

Interestingly, you don’t get the additional dice for charging – I guess getting to go first in combat is bonus enough!

Finally, the Morale Phase checks to see how many models from a unit died that turn, and adds that number to a D6 roll. If the result is higher than the Leadership value of the unit, you remove models from that unit equal to the number of points higher you rolled. So if you roll a 5 and 4 models were slain from a unit of Neophyte Hybrids, their Leadership is 7 so you remove two more models from that unit.


These are the core rules of the game now, so a lot of it has indeed been simplified. However, there is a strong element of Age of Sigmar in this game insofar as each datasheet for each unit contains unit-specific rules. While the core rules are therefore just 8 pages long, there are tons more rules in the place of the universal special rules that took up a chunk of the core rulebook previously. Sure, things like the unit types rules have been drastically simplified, and these changes are definitely for the better, as it makes it so much more straightforward to seeing just how a unit works. I’ve rambled about my difficulties in trying to find the rules for Triarch Praetorians previously, needing two different books and about four separate pages within those books just to figure out how the models work. None of that exists now, really. If you know the 8 pages of rules, all you need in front of you is your own datasheet for that unit, and away you go.

(Of course, there are army-wide rules that still exist, such as the Reanimation Protocols rule for Necrons, which aren’t detailed on each and every datasheet. So you may still have a little flicking around to start with.)

I love the fact that the datasheets have everything you need to know, even down to the most common weapon loadout profiles. True, I’d have preferred to have seen every weapon on there for even greater ease, but I imagine some units might get quickly over-loaded. But these things are few and far between. In the main, if you want to know what a weapon on your model does, the rules are there on the same page as that model.

The three ways to play thing, ported pretty much directly from Age of Sigmar, is also really cool as it allows the game to be more things to more people. If you like picking out an awesome element from the narrative and re-creating that, you can do that. If you want to have an equal points-level, you can do that as well. Points have been taken one step further, by having an overall “power” level for a unit, based on roughly 25-3o power for every 500 points. While initially it seemed that power levels were being decried as worthless, over the launch weekend it seems that pretty much everyone at my local stores were talking in terms of power rather than points. It seems to be a great way to quickly build a list and start playing, rather than spending an evening working out the exact cost of your army. Of course, if that’s your thing, then you can still do that.

What’s even more interesting to me is the fact that there are 8 pages of core rules, the majority of this blog so far having gone over them, but there’s an additional Appendix that adds in a bunch more rules that you can add in to however you choose to play, meaning you really can make 8th Edition as complicated as you like.

I think the rules overall are a great way to invest a lot of narrative into the game, and I’m really looking forward to getting some games in soon!


As always with a new edition, we also get a new Starter Set for the game, which has previously come with all of the dice and templates that you need, in addition to a rulebook and lots of fantastic miniatures. Well, this edition doesn’t use templates or special dice, but we do get the full hardback rulebook, along with some truly spectacular miniatures in the new Dark Imperium box!

Warhammer 40,000 Dark Imperium

The factions included here are the Primaris Space Marines, and the Death Guard. So it’s a bit similar to the last box, Dark Vengeance, which featured loyalist vs Chaos space marines, but the miniatures here are really quite spectacular. I think the painting video where Duncan paints the Lord of Contagion really shows how incredible these new guys are!

Of course, people are a bit twitchy about the new Primaris marines spelling the end of the current Space Marine line, but I’ve got to be honest, I think these guys look amazing. I’d been back and forth over whether I liked them, before finally settling on a yes a day or two before the release. Having now had the opportunity to actually build and paint some, I think this is what Space Marines should have always been. The Mk VII armoured chaps will always hold a special place for me, and I plan to continue building and painting them for my Novamarines, but I think the Primaris are certainly a worthy addition to the universe, and I can’t wait to see what we get in the multipart kits that will inevitably follow later in the summer…

You get the full hardback core rules, which alone cost £35 and accounts for most of the weight of this thing, as well as short “codexes” for each of the factions that have some paint schemes, some fluff, and the datasheets (they even include the points values for them, if that’s something that interests you!) And of course, you get 53 beautiful (if disgusting, in the case of the Nurgle stuff) miniatures. £95 seems like a lot of money, don’t get me wrong, but it also feels about right for what you get. Burning of Prospero came with 47 miniatures, and a separate game, for the same price. So it does seem to be fairly standard – and of course, if you manage to get it for less, then go for it!


With three ways to play the game, straightforward rules for the game, and an increasingly phenomenal miniatures catalogue with which to populate the game, Warhammer 40k has never seemed more exciting! Locally, 8th Edition seems to have garnered a lot of interest among the “never playing 40k” crowd, and while I’ve long been interested in the game, I’ve never been more keen to finally get some regular games in!

Exciting times!

Hey everybody!
It’s finally here! 8th Edition release weekend for Warhammer 40,000 is upon us, and I’m far too excited for words! I’d preordered stuff from a variety of places, so was waiting to have it all before I posted about this, but well, I think the photo speaks for itself…

Warhammer 40,000 Dark Imperium

I’m going to start building some Primaris marines soon enough, though I’m still not 100% sure which chapter I want to build. Since hearing about the new fluff, I’ve been thinking about building them for a new chapter, but I might do some Novamarines just because! I’m also thinking that I want to get the Triumvirate of the Primarch, and so it’d be nice to have them being led by Guilliman himself, which has made me think once again about painting Ultramarines…

Gah!

It’s far too hot in my little corner of the UK right now to do anything more, so I might perch in front of the fan and catch up with the new book… or an Index or two…

Announcement Day! #amazing!

Hey everybody!
Well, it’s Announcement Day once more, and my good god, what an announcement day it is, as well!

Take a look at the news here!

We’re starting with the next block, Ixalan, which of course has already been talked about previously. Vraska is back, leading pirates against dinosaurs in the search for the fabled city of gold, Orazca. This sounds hilarious, and could well be amazing! The second set of the block, Rivals of Ixalan, sounds like you’ve made it to the city, and are now trying to control it in order to gain the power of the plane. Not sure how that will play out in the mechanics of the set, but before that, we’ve got a multiplayer boardgame-style game coming out: Explorers of Ixalan! Four 60-card decks, and 50 game tiles will allow you to battle for control of the city, which sounds like it should be a lot of fun!

Between Planechase, Archenemy, and now this, it seems that Wizards are real keen to push the multiplayer format. That’ll be interesting!

The next duel deck is to be Merfolk vs Goblins, which sounds cool. There’s another Un-set coming out, which I’m not a fan of personally. To celebrate Magic’s 25 year anniversary, a Masters set is coming out in March that features cards from across the entire history of the game.

And finally…

Dominaria

All about the Primaris!

Hey everybody!
While I realise I’m a bit late to the party on this, I thought I’d finally get round to putting some of my thoughts down on the new space marines coming in the new box set for Warhammer 40k 8th Edition. We’ve had the images doing the rounds for a number of weeks now, of course, with a bit of the lore coming out that talks about their backstory in the new edition. Understandably, people seem to be losing it over all of this, with the prevailing thought being that these kits will be replacing the current range of marines at some later date, although currently GW are denying it.

Primaris Space Marines

I’ve been going back and forth over whether I actually like the look of these chaps. When they first landed, I think I got caught up in the thrill of the new, but that quickly seemed to wane and I felt a bit sad to see the loss of the older models, which I actually really like! I don’t really have a huge number of marines finished of course, but even so!

When the Deathwatch models came out last year, the new MkVIII armour was somewhat larger than we’d previously seen, and I quickly came to love these guys. I’ve since been feeling the same about these MkX armoured-guys as well.

So I’ve pre-ordered the new Dark Imperium box, which will include fifteen of the regular marines, from the look of it, along with some HQs and those three flying guys. It looks like the perfect start to a Primaris army, and as we’re getting closer to the release weekend, I’m finding myself getting quite excited about trying something new. Which brings me on to the lore.

Belisarius Cawl

Primaris Marines were the brainchild of Roboute Guilliman and the Tech Priest Belisarius Cawl, both of whom have recently had models as part of the Gathering Storm series. I’ve still not yet invested in these minis, but I’ve been considering making the leap soon enough as I like the idea in particular of having my Primaris Marines being led by Guilliman!

During the height of the Heresy, Guilliman, seeing the flaws of his brothers in falling to Chaos, asked Cawl if he could work on improving the work of the Emperor and create a new breed of marine. Cawl returned to Mars to work on this, and Fulgrim attacked Guilliman, the Ultramarine Primarch being kept in stasis at the point of death for the next 10,000 years. During the Gathering Storm, Cawl finally emerged into the galaxy again and, with the help of the Eldar technology, ‘saved’ Guilliman by interring him in the Armour of Fate. And thus, Guilliman saw the state of the Imperium and finally unleashed his centuries-old plan to save his father’s work from the depredations of Chaos: the Ultima Founding!

A lot of folks have been decrying the fact that Belisarius Cawl was able to improve on the Emperor’s design of the space marines. Why? I have no idea. It took the Emperor a number of years, and apparently a pact with Chaos, to gain the gene technology to create the Primarchs, after which he created the Adeptus Custodes and, finally, the mass-produced space marines. It then took Belisarius Cawl, who is a pretty important Tech Priest remember, ten thousand years to make some small improvements upon the mass-produced – some may even say, the lesser – marines.  It’s not like Cawl has made more Primarchs, after all.

The new marines have been deployed across the Imperium in new Chapters as well as bolstering the dwindling ranks of the other Loyalists. Of course, this sounds like more of a marketing ploy than anything else, giving existing marine players the perfect reason to add some of these to their existing army, or to start a new collection. But within the lore, the whole thing makes perfect sense!

I’ve been starting on a Novamarines army for quite some time now, of course, having already painted some Ultramarines and White Scars in my time (to say nothing of the ongoing Deathwing army!) I was vaguely thinking about doing something hilarious with either orange or pink (or both), but have since been thinking about waiting, and giving it some more thought. At any rate, I’m getting really quite excited about these new marines – just not those goofy-looking flying guys…

Cold War: CIA vs KGB

Hey everybody!
It’s another game day here at spalanz.com, and this time around, it’s a small-scale game that is falling under the spotlight of awesome, the two-player Cold War: CIA vs KGB!

Cold War: CIA vs KGB

This is a game that I first came across five or six years ago now, when the revised edition came out from Fantasy Flight Games and I managed to pick it up for under a tenner. The Cold War isn’t an era that I’m super familiar with, though since I had been to Berlin in 2008, I’d grown a lot more interested generally in that whole era.

The game is basically a bluffing game, where the players take on the role of the CIA or the KGB and send a variety of operatives on missions to control global territory and win the ideological struggle of east vs west. Let’s take a look at some of the cards!

Cold War: CIA vs KGB

The CIA and the KGB each have the same resources to draw upon, from the deputy director the the master spy or the assassin. The cards all have the same abilities, they just have different artwork to indicate the faction they belong to. Each of these agents has an initiative (the number next to their photograph) and an agenda (the text boxes on the right). We’ll get back to these things in more detail in a moment.

Cold War: CIA vs KGB

The objective of each game round, representative of one year’s struggle in the Cold War, is to win influence over a country or event that is determined at the start of that round. Each of these Objectives is worth a victory point (the number in the bottom right corner), and is fought over by agents recruiting Groups of people to aid them in their attempt to exert influence there. This is shown by the Objective’s Stability, the large number in the centre of the card there. These Objectives also have a population ranking, and agents can never recruit more Groups than the number of population icons (on the bottom left of the card). Let’s take a look at some Groups:

Cold War: CIA vs KGB

These cards all belong to one of four factions – political (purple), media (blue), economic (gold) and military (green) – and have a power rating from 1 to 6, as well as an ability common to that faction. These Groups are used by players to attempt to gain influence over the objective, and a player can recruit enough Group power up to but not exceeding the Objective’s Stability.

For example, the Egypt Objective shown above has a population of four, and a Stability of eleven. A player may recruit the Police (4), Bankers (6) and Artists (1) Groups in order to attempt to gain control of the Objective and claim its 20 victory points. If both players have managed to accumulate 11 power-worth of Groups, then the Bias icons (in the top right of the Objective cards) are used to break ties – for Egypt, the player who has the most political (purple) power would win, but if no player has any political power or those numbers are tied, it then comes down to economic (gold) power, and so forth.

If a player has more power than the Objective’s Stability, he causes civil disorder and his agent is revealed, and removed from the game “as his superiors disavow all knowledge of the agent and his activities and abandon their agent to his doom”. Wonderful stuff!

Assuming civil disorder has been avoided, the player with the most power places his domination token on the Objective – but the struggle isn’t over yet! The two agents are then in for Debriefing, where they are revealed and their agendas are resolved in initiative order, lowest to highest. Three of the six agents have separate effects that happen, depending on whose domination token is on the Objective – for instance, if the Master Spy is resolved, and the KGB token is on the Objective, the CIA will actually get to claim that Objective for themselves.

Cold War: CIA vs KGB

So that’s the basic gameplay for Cold War: CIA vs KGB. There is so much to the actual game turns, of course, as you attempt to bluff your opponent and fight over the Objectives round after round. The individual effects of Groups can cause a lot of back and forth as the game goes on, and right up to the point where the agents are revealed, you never really know if you’ve won the Objective that turn. There is so much to immerse yourself in, as the stock 1960s-era photos help provide that definite feel for the world of the game.

Curiously, though, it’s the sort of game that generally flies under the radar, I feel. The box is tiny – I purposefully took that photo at the start from quite a way off to try to show you that it’s the sort of game you can very easily travel with (even more easily than Space Hulk Death Angel, whose entire contents will fit into a deck box). It’s not the usual sort of flashy thing that you see on the shelves of your LGS, like the fantasy and sci-fi things that more often than not take up room there. There are also no expansions, just a simple collection of 59 cards and a couple of cardboard tokens, yet the enjoyment you can get out of this is just great!

I just love it!

Magic Metamorphosis

Hey everybody!
Having a week off work means that I can take some time off and relax, especially since I’ve now finished my degree. It also means I can be around to see things like this come out much quicker than normal!

Mark Rosewater has got a new article up on the Wizards website, talking about upcoming changes to Magic the Gathering’s set structure and stuff – changes that will be happening from next spring, no less!

Back in 2015, we had the end of Tarkir block and Magic Origins, which together were the last three-set block and the last core set, respectively. Since then, Magic has been published in two-set blocks that have taken in Zendikar, Innistrad, Kaladesh and now, Amonkhet, with Ixalan coming later this year. Each of these five blocks is a large set followed by a small set, the idea being that two-set blocks wouldn’t allow for the kind of fatigue that three-set blocks had caused. However, it seems players are still upset with having small sets, no matter how big the block overall happens to be, so starting with the April 2018 set (currently named “Soup”, but which will be announced later this week, apparently!) Magic will be see three large sets published every year, which may or may not be linked by location. Intriguing…

The fourth set of the year is going to be a core set again, only with a difference. It still seems to be geared primarily towards newer players, but the idea is to include more reprints that will benefit all players without being straight-jacketed into the theme of a particular block. I always liked core sets, and was sorry to see them go (you can read all about my love of M12 here!) so I’m excited to see what this could bring!

The Gatewatch

The Gatewatch is going to be dialled back a little. This is kinda fine with me, as I like a good planeswalker but having so many Gideons running around right now is a little unnecessary. I think the idea of including different planeswalkers is good, though I do get why they wanted the Gatewatch in the first place, so it was never a huge deal for me either way. They’re also cutting back on the Masterpieces series, so that not every set will have them. I’m conflicted by this – I only ever opened one, Mana Confluence, and pretty much immediately sold it anyway. Paired with the return of core sets and the potential for reprints there, I’m not exactly distraught at the loss of Masterpieces. However, their presence in regular packs made people open more packs generally, and so card prices have been particularly good in sets where they’ve occurred. If fewer packs are going to be opened, then I’m a bit concerned that the cost of Standard will creep back up again, and I’ll be left with fewer cards for my money. Hm.

The article ends with the news that a new element of R&D is being formed to focus solely on the actual gameplay environments such as Standard and Draft, in the hope of not causing any bad seasons as seems to be happening right now.

It’s always good to see these sorts of articles, and I have nothing but gratitude and admiration for the guys at Wizards for being so communicative with their audience. It sounds like things are being shaken up mainly for Draft, but the two-year Standard (eight sets, total) is being retained after the feedback last year. I’m primarily interested in Magic for the theme and the worldbuilding, of course, so I’m much more interested in what this means for those aspects. It sounds like it will allow for greater flexibility to tell stories, as they can have one, two or three sets taking place on a particular plane, which can only be good for us, the players! The return of core sets could be great, so overall, I’m excited to see where we’re going next!

Warhammer 40k 8th Edition – one week to go!

There’s only one week left before we get the new edition of Warhammer 40k, and I’m getting so very excited it’s untrue! I’ve been looking forward to the new edition since I knew for sure it was going to be A Thing, and now I think I’m getting into overdrive!

Part of the reason for this is, I think, due to watching the short series of videos put out on Warhammer TV’s youtube channel, specifically this one:

It feels like not only is the game being given a nice, clean facelift, but also we’re getting a lot of story advancement, which is leaving me with the overwhelming sense of the newness of the setting.

While there have been plenty of dissenting voices about some of the new lore, mainly since some of the articles being put up on the Warhammer Community site, but I think splitting the galaxy in two could lead to some wonderful storytelling opportunities. I’ve heard some people compare it to the split of the Roman empire but, personally, I think it feels more akin to the Iron Curtain in postwar Europe, with the Imperium under Guilliman analogous to the west, and the Imperium Nihilus akin to the east. It would be really cool if this is the direction they take it, of course, but who knows what will happen?!

The fact that Phil Kelly says they’re going to expand further on this has also gotten me excited, and I’m left thinking that perhaps we’re in for more Gathering Storm-style events, perhaps with triumvirate boxes to accompany them. I think it’s a fairly safe bet that we’re getting Mortarion within a matter of weeks, so maybe he’ll be coming with some pox-friends?

Ultramar

The 40k universe has always been so rich and vibrant, and flicking through my Deathwatch RPG books this morning has really reminded me of that quite strongly. The idea of being able to explore this in a more focused and story-driven manner is incredibly exciting, and while the Horus Heresy series has been a bit of a lumbering juggernaut at times, at its best the series is just truly phenomenal! If they can capture the best of that and bring it into the 41st millennium, then I think I’ll be an over-excited chap for a long time to come!

Necrons

So, if you have a local gaming store near you, or you’ve been paying attention to the internet lately, you’ve no doubt now had a chance to take a look at these new Indexes and so forth. Last week I talked about the changes between a 1000-point list made in 7th edition and its 8th edition updates, but today I thought I’d share with you a basic 1000-point Newhammer Necron list that I’ve put together. My local store is holding a casual 1000-point tournament on launch day, which I’m not sure about getting to yet, but hope to be able to go along and try out the new edition. I think this is a very “safe” list, not using too many fancy units or any potentially confusing things, so I have no idea how competitive it could be. A lot of people have been bemoaning the fact that Necrons seem to have been nerfed by the new edition, but I think that’s predominantly since the loss of the decurion detachment, which I never ran anyway, so I don’t foresee any tears or tantrums here!

Necron list

It’s a simple thing, as I said, but I think I want to start off simple and build up my game from there! I’ve currently got the Immortals and Lychguard at minimum squad size, but due to the change in Reanimation Protocols (rolling to restore a model to the unit rather than rolling as an additional save), it might be worth bunching them up into bigger squads. I’m actually surprised at how close the points are for Immortals here to their 7th edition versions, which suggests to me that they were pretty balanced before! I’ve built up most of my Immortals with gauss blasters, and I think I only have one unit with tesla carbines, so I need to get a second built shortly. Tesla seems to be the thing for Necrons in 8th, with rolls of 6 causing three hits rather than one. I still like the gauss for AP-2, and the way I roll dice, I don’t think I’ll ever get maximum use out of the tesla. But it is still causing me to want to get that Annihilation Barge finished off!!

I’ve been trying to re-do some of my original Necrons since January, also. They were among the first miniatures I’d ever painted and, while playing a game last November, I felt they were really showing their age. It’s something I’ve talked about before, of course! In January, I stripped ten Lychguard and have been slowly getting paint back on them – hopefully I’ll have a Necrons update blog soon, where I can show off some of the things I’ve been painting here!