I’ve got my first game(s) of 8th Edition Warhammer 40k scheduled for tomorrow, and have been thinking a lot about list-building and the like in advance of this. I’m taking Necrons, and my opponent will be fielding Orks, so I have no idea what to expect there beyond a massive green tide. My Necrons list is primarily Immortals and Lychguard – the Immortals now fielded as groups of 10 to help with the Reanimation Protocols changes. It’s very basic, especially seeing as how Lychguard are such a points-sink now that taking even five of the buggers can mean you’ve got very little room for anything else! I’m also including three Wraiths, though I’m still weighing up whether I want to bring them or another squad of Immortals… Despite the new edition stuff, I still feel that Necrons are the faction I feel most at home with, and so I’m excited to see how they work and stuff!
I’ve also been thinking about Dark Eldar, or Drukhari as they’re now known, and trying to come up with a decent list to finally get the kabal to the tabletop. I’ve played with Necrons before so, despite the rules changes, I think I’m still most comfortable with them. Trying to develop a Drukhari list, I initially thought about just adapting my current list that I’d been building towards since the new year, but which had been written for 7th Edition. I’ve come up with the following, anyway, and don’t really know how good it would be (especially with me at the helm!) but I really want to try these folks out soon!
So this list is my first attempt at creating an army specifically for 8th. Dark Lances seem to be the thing here, with Strength 8 and AP -4, putting out D6 shots to boot, I suppose it’s clear to see why. The blaster is a shorter-range version of this, so I’ve kept them wherever they can go, as well. It’s a very shooty army, of course, which is kinda what I’d been expecting from the Drukhari when I first started looking into them.
I did have some spare points that I didn’t want to turn into just more of the same, so have devoted them to some Arena-folk, a squad of Wyches and a trio of Reavers. Aside from hopefully prompting me to finally start painting the jetbikes that have been built and primed since new year, this is very much an experimental list and I’d like to change it up every so often, playing around with this 200-point slot by adding in maybe some Scourges or some Hellions as time moves on, and I can get more games in. I don’t yet want to go heavily changing it up for Coven units, but I have got quite a few painted now, so I could well end up slipping some Wracks in here before long…
The basic idea is to have pretty much everything flying around the table shooting stuff up. The Wyches are the only unit not in a vehicle, simply because I can’t fit another one in, but I’m thinking I should be able to clear away enough threats to get them into close combat with the amount of shots I’ll be firing from everything else each turn. I’m considering shrinking the squad to five, and giving them a Venom, however; while it is cool to have the special weapons in my Kabalite squads, the splinter weapons are definitely easier to keep track of, as they always wound on a 4+, so there’s less “What’s your toughness, again?” questions to ask!
But I definitely want to try out this list as it stands, before making any further amendments!
So how does this fare with what I’ve got built and painted to date?
I’ve got the Warriors and the Wyches done, and one squad of Trueborn isn’t far off – I’d painted them with haywire blasters, as that was the thing for 7th of course, but have got two built up with dark lances, so just need to get them finished. And then five more built and painted… The vehicles are always my major bugbear, however! I’ve got to pull my finger out on that front, and try to get them finished for the 1000-point Oath army that I’ve previously talked about, as well!
I think there’s going to be a lot of work taking place over the next few days with these guys, anyway!!
How’s everybody else faring with 8th so far? Hopefully you’ve been getting a lot of exciting games in! I keep hearing really positive things about all of the changes, anyway, so I’m really excited to get my miniatures onto the tabletop and into battle!
Tuesday means just one thing here at spalanz.com, it’s game day! Today’s blog returns to Middle Earth, and the next deluxe expansion in the series of blogs I’ve been writing with my garbled thoughts on the Lord of the Rings LCG: today, we’re braving the Voice of Isengard!
The third deluxe expansion for Lord of the Rings LCG, The Voice of Isengard marks a bit of a turning point for me with this game. For the first three “seasons” of the game, I’d been playing fairly often, and have logged plenty of plays with all of the adventure packs up to this point. While there had been some odd moments where I’d thought my love for the game could have wavered (Watcher in the Water, I’m looking at you), I think the fourth deluxe marks a significant level of difficulty-increase, which in turn has seen me move away from the game to some degree. That’s not to say that I dislike this game by any means, and I still snap up the adventure packs and deluxe expansions upon their release. However, I find that I’m somewhat less inclined to actually sit down and play with them upon their release, and I actually have two cycles of cards that I haven’t yet played with, at the time I’m writing this.
I’ll probably come back to this point later in the blog; let’s actually take a look at the contents and the quests!
As always, there are two new heroes and a slew of new player cards in the box, as well as three new quests to play through that set up the following Ring-maker cycle. The player cards are headed up by the new Éomer and Gríma heroes, Éomer is actually pretty great, and quickly found his way into my Rohan deck as I began to re-tool it for spirit and tactics. He’s great for attacking, especially as how his ability gives him +2 attack when a character leaves play. Use an Escort from Edoras during the quest phase to buff your willpower, then he’ll leave and buff Éomer during the next attack phase – excellent! Ride to Ruin is another useful card to have if you have some cheap allies you don’t mind getting rid of! While probably not as deep as dwarves, the Rohan deck type is nevertheless rife with all manner of fantastic cards that work really well together.
The Voice of Isengard also brings the third and greatest Istari to the game: Saruman! Yes, I’m a big Saruman fan, I find him extremely compelling as a character, and had been looking forward to seeing him arrive. As the main game is set somewhere in the nebulous early part of Fellowship of the Ring, Saruman hasn’t actually fallen to evil, and so works fine as being a player card. However, he does showcase one of the new mechanics from this expansion, Doomed X. Whenever a card with this keyword enters play, each player raises his threat by X. These cards are usually quite powerful, and Saruman is definitely a prime example of this. With three willpower, five attack, four defense and four hit points for only three resources, Saruman is an exceptional ally. Furthermore, when he enters play, you get to remove a non-unique enemy or location in the staging area from the game for as long as he remains in play. Like the original Gandalf, Saruman does unfortunately leave play at the end of the round, but this effect can be incredibly useful, as you can get just enough time to set yourself up to deal with something potentially game-ending. The price is high, for sure – raising your threat by three can put you in a precarious position, so it’s not to be done lightly. But paired with some of those Valour cards from the Angmar Awakened cycle? He’s definitely got his place in decks, that’s for sure!
The encounter cards are varying degrees of awful, and most of them showcase the new Time X keyword. Whenever a card with Time X is revealed, you place resource tokens on it equal to X, and at the beginning of each refresh phase, you remove one counter. When there are no tokens left, something will happen, usually something terrible. There are also cards that remove tokens, which add to your woes! The mechanic lends a sense of urgency to the game, though, something that the designers said was a deliberate method of changing the meta, such as it is, for the game.
The Fords of Isen
The first scenario sees you trying to help a group of Rohirrim warriors defend the small Islet from fierce Dunlendings – more accurately, they’re protecting Gríma among them. The fact that there is a Gríma hero card in this box led to a similar situation to the Faramir business in Against the Shadow, though I must say I’ve never played with Gríma among my fellowship, so have never been too concerned by this!
The object of the quest is basically to outlast the awful encounter deck, and defeat the three stages of the quest. In addition to the Time X keyword on each quest card (the first of which can discard Gríma from play, causing you to lose at the first hurdle!) there are a significant number of effects that punish you for having cards in hand. This was another conscious decision by the designers, to combat strategies that had made it into the meta, and thematically reflects the hatred the Wild Men of Dunland have for the richer, more resourceful men of Rohan. I tend not to use too many card draw effects in my decks, but there are also a lot of mechanics in the encounter set that force you to draw cards, adding to the misery!
The Fords of Isen is a very urgent scenario, forcing you to breeze through it quickly or else die horribly, face down in the muck.
To Catch An Orc
The next scenario requires the players to capture the orc, Mugash, at the behest of Saruman himself. Mugash has been leading raids into the valley of Isengard, but Saruman believes he has vital intelligence about Mordor, and so wishes to question him. At the start of the scenario, you are forced to put the top 20 cards of your own deck aside – copies of Mugash’s Guard and a single copy of Mugash himself are then shuffled together, and distributed among these out-of-play player decks.
Over the course of the game, you will encounter locations with the Searches X keyword – this allows you to search through X cards of your out-of-play deck, as you try to find the leader of the Orc tribe. You also get to choose one of those cards to keep and discard the rest, while placing any enemies into the staging area. It’s an incredibly different-feeling quest, with something of a built-in timer in the form of giving you a smaller deck to start. The mechanics of finding Mugash are quite prescriptive, but overall I think they’re really effective for providing an interesting, and engaging scenario. While the encounter deck can still be quite awful, it doesn’t feel quite so bad somehow, and overall I think this is one of my favourites.
The final quest takes us into Fangorn Forest, and we get to see the Ents! Despite (presumably!) capturing Mugash in the last scenario, he has since escaped his bonds, and the players pursue him into the depths of Fangorn. The Forest is alive, however, and the Ents are not happy with the players’ intrusion.
This is another interesting scenario, with some very interesting mechanics. Mugash is now an Objective, and the players must capture him to win the game. If he is captured when you defeat the first stage, then you progress to the second stage and attempt to keep hold of the Orc chieftain while putting 12 progress there. If he has escaped into the encounter deck, you instead advance to stage three and remain there until you find him again, then advancing to stage two and keeping hold of him until the end. It reminds me of a few earlier scenarios, where the possibility of losing an Objective can make the game suddenly a lot more arduous.
However, the encounter deck itself is no picnic, filled as it is with the Huorn! The Ents of Fangorn have the Hinder keyword, which basically annoys the hell out of you. Rather than attacking, these enemies remove progress from the quest when they are engaged with you, and with high toughness and high wounds, these enemies are not going to be picked off quickly! Indeed, the whole quest seems designed to slow you down, while the quest cards themselves continue to make use of the Time X mechanic. It’s actually a pretty fun, thematic scenario, but my god is it disheartening to actually play through!
Each of the quests in Voice of Isengard has something different to offer, and each is highly thematic to play through. While it’s an expansion that I’d wanted for a long time, being such a fan of Saruman and this area of Middle Earth as a whole, I nevertheless found it to be a little less than satisfying, because there no longer felt like the option to just enjoy the quest, as you had to rush through or whatever. All quests in Lord of the Rings LCG have a race element to them, of course, as you attempt to outlast your threat reaching 50, but moreso than ever, we’re now being forced into a very specific play style if we want to go through these newer quests. I get that the more competitive elements of the community had been asking for this since the game released, but I do get the impression that a fundamental shift occurred somewhere here, whereby the main focus of development for Lord of the Rings LCG was no longer exploring Tolkien’s world in all of its glorious abundance, but instead on nuts-and-bolts mechanics of flipping cards over and mathematics.
I still play Lord of the Rings LCG, don’t get me wrong, and I still love it, but I don’t find myself returning to these newer quests nearly as often as I return for just one more stroll through Mirkwood or the Long Dark of Khazad-dûm.
This captain does look pretty good, even if he will most likely be the usual style of mono-pose hero guys. Options for different weapons and heads does sound appealing though, so I’m excited to get one!
The librarian is a really cool looking mini, I have to say. I’ve been recently thinking about finally putting some paint on the librarian I built last year, so it seems the perfect time with this chap on the way!
These two chaps are coming next week, followed later in July by something called “getting started” kits, which feature new units for both the Primaris Marines and the Death Guard:
These chaps are apparently in coloured plastic and are “easy to build” snap-fit, which I’m quite dubious about to be perfectly honest. I’ve been building up more of the Primaris Marines from the Dark Imperium box lately, but had been looking forward to getting the multi-part plastic kits that usually follow. However – this? Hm. I hope that we’ll be getting the multi-part stuff as well as this easy-build stuff, though something tells me that may not be the case…
Though I have to say, easy-build pox walkers will no doubt be just as fine whether multi-part or not – I mean, the old snap-fit Chaos Cultists you can pick up are fine!
All of these things are coming in a new starter set (new, already?!) –
First Strike brings all these easy-build releases together with some introductory scenarios to teach the game as you play – with a poster-mat and cardboard scenery to boot!
There’s also Know No Fear, which seems to be a pared-down version of the Dark Imperium box (again, already?!) –
All of this stuff is obviously going to be fantastic for people new to the hobby, and should be awesome to get folks into the process of building and playing – though of course, I find it a bit strange that the focus seems split between the two. I mean, if you’ve never put a mini together before, then easy-build Marines are great. But you still need to buy the tools to clip them off the sprues and prepare them for painting – and then there’s the paints and brushes! Seems a little too… diverse…
So last week, I read Dark Imperium, the tie-in novel for the new 8th Edition goodness for Warhammer 40k. If I’m honest, I was expecting something completely different to what the book ended up being, but the story is so good anyway, and I’m still a little caught up in the new 40k that I enjoyed it all the same!
The book opens sometime in the 31st Millennium, and shows the battle between Fulgrim and Guilliman that resulted in the primarch of the Ultramarines being put in stasis for the next 10,000 years. We then fast-forward to a century after the events of the Gathering Storm, but we’re still somehow in the 41st Millennium, and we see Guilliman leading the destruction of a Chaos temple at the Battle of Raukos. Success over the Chaos forces leads to a Triumph similar to that at Ullanor all those millennia ago, where Guilliman decrees the Indomitus Crusade over. The Primaris Marines that had been created for the purpose are filtered into some pre-existing chapters of Space Marines, as well as formed into several new ones, and the primarch then marches back to Ultramar to do battle with his daemonic brother Mortarion. Arriving back at Macragge, Guilliman re-forms the worlds of Greater Ultramar back into the empire as he knew it, establishing a tetrarchy to govern them, and then leads the Spear of Espandor assault, believing Mortarion’s power base to be on that world. Unfortunately, Guilliman was mistaken, although manages to destroy a warp-crafted daemonic engine to cripple Mortarion’s hold over the segmentum.
As I said at the start, I really liked this book, despite the fact it wasn’t what I had been hoping for. Rather than showing the return of Guilliman and the arrival of the Primaris Marines in the galaxy, instead we learn quite early on that the novel takes place a century after the events of Rise of the Primarch, and deals mainly with the continued adjustments of Guilliman to the world he now finds himself in. On reflection, I think it was probably better to do it this way, as we don’t really need the endless “this is different, and this is different, and so is this” and so on. Guilliman still finds things like the ecclesiarchy difficult to grasp, and a good chunk of the novel deals with his struggle to accept the worship of the Emperor as a god. But he otherwise functions not so much as a man out of time, which could have gotten old quickly, but rather as a man with different ideas.
I’ve never been one to go along with the accepted denigration of the Ultramarines – indeed, I actually like their Roman aesthetic and have long wanted to build an army of them. I’ve not yet made it to the Horus Heresy novels that deal with Guilliman in any significant way, however, so it was nice to finally get to read about the man. In his way, he’s just as interesting as any of the other primarchs – I like the fact he’s described as capable of devouring so much technical information with barely a glance, it makes him so much better than merely “good with a gun” or something, and really forms that link with the Ultramarines as being good statesmen and not just warriors. However, I did think he came across as a bit too much of a tyrant during the Council of Hera, issuing his demands like an autocrat and just slapping down any objections. Though I suppose the Imperium needs someone to cut through the incredible bureaucracy and make things happen…
I think the tone of this novel felt very much like it was meant more to give us the feel for how the universe now is in 8th Edition. The setting hasn’t changed in the manner of Age of Sigmar but, much like the Gates of Azyr, this book feels like its main point is to give us a taste for the new landscape that we can expect to see games developed within. For starters, we see Guilliman trying to make sense of the Imperial dating system, and we learn that there have been a number of calendars in operation, and nobody can say with real authority what the year actually is – in this way, then, we can be a century after the events of the Fall of Cadia, and yet remain within the 41st Millennium. A nice, subtle bit of retcon there, that doesn’t feel outside the bounds of possibility for this universe.
A lot of the battles feel almost vignette-style, which I do enjoy as it means we don’t get a lumbering mess but rather get a story that sweeps along quite well. For instance, the Battle of Raukos is quite self-contained, and there are a couple of actions described within the realm of Ultramar that tell just enough of what we need to know for the story to keep going. I think this is especially important with Warhammer novels that deal with Nurgle, though Khorne can be a similar issue, where the plot gets bogged down in all the gruesome details and so on. There are only so many descriptions of marines wading through effluvia that I can read, you know? The Fall of Altdorf did this really well, as it happens, but there have been times where I do feel myself growing quite ill reading the endless descriptions of filth-encrusted folks.
The book is quite Ultramarines-centric, and I think anyone who appreciates the 13th Legion and its descendants will be happy to see what’s going on. I particularly enjoyed a number of scenes that show such luminaries as Captain Sicarius, Captain Ventris, and Marneus Calgar himself all show their attitude to the return of Guilliman. When the Triumvirate of the Primarch box was first shown, many folks were wondering how Calgar would feel as his place was essentially usurped, though we see that Guilliman is in fact forced to deal with much more than just his own Ultramarines as the Imperial Regent. I wonder if/how that position will change as we get more loyalist primarchs released in plastic. Being a fan of Graham McNeill’s Ultramarines novels, I did enjoy seeing Uriel Ventris return here!
We also get a sense of time moving on within the Imperium, although admittedly this might pass some people by. For example, the Chapter Master of the Novamarines is said to be Bardan Dovaro, whereas we’ve previously been told it’s a chap called Gaius Hadraichus. Admittedly, I only know this because I’m building an army of them. In the main, of course, this sense of time passing is given through seeing the attitudes to the new Primaris Marines, which overall seem to have been accepted by the regular marines of old. A subtle hint that we as players and collectors should also just accept them? I did get the impression at many times that this is almost a catalogue for the new marines, much like Gates of Azyr and some of the early Age of Sigmar stuff seemed to be advertising the new Stormcast Eternals. We get to see the Intercessors in action by and large, which seem to be more akin to the Tactical squads of old. The goofy Inceptor marines are given a really amazing introduction during the Battle of Raukos, though however badass they come across in the lore, the models still look vaguely silly. And we get to see Hellblasters too, which seem to be a specific name for plasma-wielding marines, and makes me think we’ll get similar squads carrying massive melta versions and las versions of those plasma incinerators. Further versions of marines are mentioned, including the Reivers that seem to be a stealth squad that has no previous version, and the Aggressors, which sound like the Primaris versions of Terminators. The repulsor tank and the redemptor dreadnought are also featured. Inevitably, reading about these new chaps made me struggle to get a sense of them in my mind, and the similarities to AoS kept me thinking more about them as models on the tabletop than characters in the story. That’s probably more down to me than anything else, however!
Overall, it’s a very interesting book, and definitely worth picking up for anyone with an interest in the 40k universe to see where we’re headed!
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 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!
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!
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…
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…
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…
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
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!
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.
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:
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.
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!
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 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!