Catching up with the world

Hey everybody!
It’s been a while since I’ve caught up with the wider goings-on of the world, it seems, having been focused almost exclusively on the world of Warhammer for quite some time here on this blog, so I thought I’d take some time today to have a look at what else has been going on, and share some musings with you all here! You know you love it.

My mate Tony sent me the trailer for Dark Phoenix last week, which was a total shock as I hadn’t been aware that Fox were continuing their X-Men reboot past Apocalypse. I really like those movies, even if the third one fell a little flat, and the trailer here looks to be along similar lines as the existing trilogy, so I’m really looking forward to this one. Hopefully it’ll continue the theme and be a really classy film, overall. I suppose it can’t be any worse than the last time they tried to do the Dark Phoenix storyline, though…

Looking at some of the info online around the film, it seems like the cosmic elements of the original Dark Phoenix comic book are being introduced in this film, which is an interesting slant. Previous X-Men films have always tried to take a very grounded, real-world approach to things, so it’ll be interesting to see if that can be maintained while also including the Shi’ar. I guess we’ll see in February! While it seems the reception of this trailer hasn’t been particularly stellar, though, I am looking forward to seeing the movie.

I don’t get to read a great deal of comic books these days, though have always been more a DC boy when it comes to the original source material. I think I might try and get into that again once I’ve finished reading the current tome I’m enjoying, the fourth CJ Sansom historical novel Revelation. I’ve been reading those books since Christmas, and they’re really quite enjoyable! If a little weighty…

Anyway!

My wife is a huge Harry Potter fan (I do enjoy the franchise as well, though have always preferred the novels to any attempt at visual media), and has been excitedly talking about the upcoming second Fantastic Beasts film. I did enjoy the first one, I thought it was really interesting to explore the magical world in another locale from a British boarding school, and 1920s New York was a lot of fun. The surprise link to the Gellert Grindelwald storyline was nicely done, and I was somewhat excited at the idea of seeing a series of these films – while I wasn’t a fan of the Harry Potter films themselves, I think that was due to the fact I vastly preferred the books. We watched the trailer for the second film the other day, and it does look like it should be another exciting installment, at any rate!

Of course, there is the whole Nagini casting controversy, and I’m not about to get into that, but suffice it to say, I do feel sometimes that these things get blown too much out of proportion. If the actress cast in the role is happy with the ethnic choices made, then I think she’s better qualified than me to make that sort of judgment. So let’s see how the film turns out when it’s released in November…

The Wilds of Rhovanion

Let’s turn to games now – and I want to start with Lord of the Rings LCG. I’ve often mentioned this game on my blog here as my all-time favourite, and while that accolade hasn’t changed, I haven’t played this game for the longest time. Indeed, I haven’t even caught up with the latest deluxe/cycle yet, still having not properly played the game past The Lost Realm. I really, really love this game though, and the latest preview for the fourth adventure pack in the new cycle has gotten me really keen to get back into it.

I have previously played this game with the other half, and she didn’t mind it too much due to the co-op nature of things, so I’m wondering if I might try and re-introduce it at some point soon. Though it would be no big deal if it didn’t go down too well – I absolutely love the original Shadows of Mirkwood cycle, and am fairly chomping at the bit to try my hand at some of those quests once again! I do need to try and catch up with the releases though, and see what I have waiting for me to discover. I feel like the Ered Mithrin cycle may well be the game’s last, in light of how much the e-version of the game is being pushed, so I think it’s something of a priority to get everything before it’s too late!

Arkham Horror LCG

I also tried to introduce the Arkham Horror LCG a short while ago, but that one didn’t go down quite as well. I was also surprised at how much more difficult that game becomes with an additional player in the mix – I do enjoy the universe, for sure, but I think, all things considered, I might leave off with this game when the current cycle ends. I’ve not been good at playing this one, sadly, so while I’ve been buying the new packs as they’ve been released, I actually haven’t played anything beyond the core set. Definitely need to get my act together on that front!!

The Autumn is one of my favourite times of year, not only because the countryside looks great with all the leaf-changes going on, but because I have fond memories of gaming – both with regular tabletop games, and getting into Warhammer 40k. I don’t know if I’ll get to explore anything too intense like that old favourite, Runebound, but I think it’s definitely high-time I looked at something beyond the grim darkness of the 41st millennium.

Heroes of Terrinoth

Speaking of Runebound and the Terrinoth universe, there has been a new preview up for the upcoming Heroes of Terrinoth co-op card game, which continues to excite me! It feels like this game is going to be something of an enjoyable fantasy game, and the fact that it’s co-op should mean it’ll be a lot of fun, so I’m cautiously hopeful it will live up to my expectations. It seems like it should be a nice return to those sorts of hero-driven Terrinoth games like Descent and Runebound, rather than the faction-driven Runewars and Rune Age. Not that those games aren’t a lot of fun, of course, but I do prefer the older style, personally!

When it was originally previewed, I thought it was going to be another LCG, which had initially excited me, but now I’m quite glad we’re not going to be getting that particular model for this one. I think the endless demand for more adventure packs could prove to wear quite thin with this sort of game, as the danger of getting bland, generic quests becomes too real. Lord of the Rings has surprised me in some respect by managing to sustain itself to become the juggernaut of an LCG that it is, though I think that is more due to the fact that it is working within an established lore, rather than anything else. Terrinoth is no Middle Earth, and burnout is a real possibility. I’d also be happy to see one small-box expansion per year for such a smaller-scale card game, depending on how interesting the core set turns out to be. FFG have previously expanded their games unto death, of course, but I do like to think that maybe we could get one game that isn’t expanded for the sake of it. In that respect, their Blood Bowl: Team Manager game was actually really well-implemented…

I’m not sure how much mileage this game will have, and part of me does worry it could tank like FFG’s Warhammer Quest game, but I do find myself hoping that in actual fact we get something that is enjoyable and fun, and it’s another of these games I find myself hoping that I can bring to the table with the other half. I’ve previously bemoaned the fact that boardgames have felt a little like they’re trying to appeal too much to the mass-market, following the board game renaissance and whatnot, but in this instance, I think it might actually be a good thing. I suppose we’ll see when it comes out!

The next expansion to Magic: the Gathering is going to be released on Friday, Guilds of Ravnica, and while I haven’t even had much of a chance to explore M19 yet, I am quite intrigued by some of the cards I’d seen during preview season for the upcoming set. While there isn’t any Rakdos in this set, it does have Dimir, another favourite of the Guilds for me, and I was interested by the fact that I found a lot of the Boros cards to look fun this time around. I’ll most likely be picking up some cards and seeing what can be done with them soon, of course, as I do like to stay somewhat current.

It’s a shame that Magic didn’t go down too well with the other half, as it’s a game that I do enjoy to a fairly large degree, but I think co-op games definitely hold more sway when it comes to gaming with the wife. Which is fine, really, as there are definitely more co-op games I enjoy than competitive ones!

Did you guys realise Spellslingers is back for season 5 already?! I sure didn’t expect to see that come round quite so soon! It’s funny, because I don’t know a lot of these people, but the show is so good that it really doesn’t matter all that much. Sure, it felt better in the early days when he played with people like Rob Simpson, but it’s still so much fun due to Sean being such a great person in general. It’ll be interesting to see how well this collection of guests knows the game, as I always feel those are the better episodes for me. Season 4 had some good content in that regard, so here’s hoping!

On the subject of MtG youtube content, I think I also need to catch up with Game Knights. Another show I sometimes find myself harkening back to “the good old days” when they had their friends on playing genuinely interesting decks rather than the more paid-promotion style things, it’s nevertheless a very entertaining show and I can definitely recommend it still!

But what is one of my blogs if I didn’t talk about Warhammer 40k at least a little bit?! You’ll be pleased to know that I’m progressing fairly well with my Van Saar gang for Necromunda, having been inspired to get going with it following my local GW announcing a specialist games night once more. For a while, none of the specialist games were allowed to be played in-store, for a very odd reason, so I’m glad to see that come back as it means I’ll be able to finally get round to trying the game out! I’ve been buying everything for this game so far, so I’m looking forward to seeing if my purchases have been worthwhile!

While I’ve not been painting a great deal of late, I have been slowly moving back towards my Tau army ideas, primarily following the Kill Team stuff. I’ll be picking up the Tau expansion soon after next weekend, I’m sure, as I’ve been excitedly putting together a Tau list that I want to try out soon. It does include a few Pathfinders, so I want to get round to painting up some of those so that I have the fully-painted team sorted and ready to go, of course!

I’ll probably come back here sometime soon for a proper painting progress catch-up though, so stay tuned for that!!

More Kill Team expansions!

Hey everybody!
It’s been a couple of days now since we’d seen the reveals of the next wave for Kill Team, so I thought I’d pop along here and take a look at what we can look forward to coming in the next few releases for the increasingly-popular skirmish game!

First of all, of course, it’s Kill Team: Commander. Already hinted at in the Rogue Trader expansion, Commander brings HQ choices to the game in what is, for me at least, quite a surprise move. If I’m honest, I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this new development, though for sure I’ll be picking it up in due course! From what we’ve seen at the Kill Team Open last weekend, we’re getting a wave of HQ choices that, crucially, are all available in plastic already, in named-hero boxes that will be packaged along with command cards or whatever they’re going to be called, in a similar fashion to the expansion boxes we’ve already seen.

We’re getting a Succubus for Dark Eldar, a Fireblade for Tau, an Overlord for Necrons, etc etc. It’s all a bit weird, somehow – when I first heard about the Fireblade, I thought sure, that sounds okay. He’s a tier-two sort of HQ choice, not the sort of flashy thing that a lot of armies can get. But the Overlord for the Necrons is pretty much the pinnacle of HQs for them. So it seems much more driven by what is available in plastic already for the faction, rather than what would fit the bill of a small-scale HQ choice who could be used in specific missions.

It feels weird to me, I think, because I like the idea of a Kill Team being led by the Leader that you choose when you’re making your initial list. It’s a mechanic that I had somewhat hoped wouldn’t be a huge deal when reading through the Rogue Trader book, but instead, I’m guessing these guys will be used a great deal more to build the team around, rather than only being taken in specific instances.

But what do I know – the expansion hasn’t even been released, yet!

For more information, be sure to head over to Chapter Master Valrak’s video on youtube, where he also mentions Kill Team: Inquisitor, which is basically a no-brainer, and will hopefully be a thing before too long!

Also on the radar, the more immediate radar this time, are the next Kill Teams to be released: Necrons and Tau! Having already picked up the Militarum Tempestus box, and having the Dark Eldar one waiting for me at the store to collect, I feel like I’m going to be very busy as I try to keep up with releases for my armies!

More so than with Dark Eldar, these boxes are definitely ones that I can get behind. It’s always useful to have more Fire Warriors, and I use Immortals as my basic troops, so I’m happy to see those instead of Warriors for the Necrons! I’ve not yet been happy with any of the Necron builds I’ve tried, but I’ve been thinking a lot about Tau kill teams lately, so have got a couple of things that I’m hoping to try out soon enough!

The Wall of Martyrs killzone is something I don’t think anybody imagined would be up next, though I guess it does fit with GW repackaging all of their scenery into these things, and I have toyed with getting the Imperial Bunker as something to just have to paint, so I’m thinking that this will be the first Killzone I will be getting – the Mechanicus and Munitorum zones I just bought the cards and board, not wanting to add to my scenery backlog!


I am a bit surprised at the pace of new releases for this game, as it has only been out for, what, two months now? We’ve already had so many things released, with the promise of yet more to come, that I find it difficult to see how GW will be supporting the line “for a long time to come”. I would assume, though, that the model will turn into something along the lines of the Rogue Trader box every once in a while, because I’m not sure how often people are going to be wanting to buy repackaged miniatures just in order to pick up a few tactics cards or whatever. The current model cannot be sustained for the long-term, and I think it would be particularly foolish if, for instance, once they’ve released the last Kill Team box in this current run, they then start over with alternative models for existing factions – so the next Tau box will come with Pathfinders, the next Dark Eldar box will be Kabalite Warriors, etc.

Someone mentioned expanding beyond the core manual, though, and having Fast Attack or Elite choices being introduced in a measured manner. I would love to be able to have a Crisis Battlesuit team – provided it was done intelligently, and allowed for some awesome narrative gameplay. Whether we get that sort of thing through something like Kill Team: Heavy Hitters, I don’t know. But it would probably be more of a headache to try.

Something that is very clear, though, is that GW have every intention of keeping the expansion releases as finecast-free as possible, so everybody complaining about the Necron box not having Flayed Ones is a little bit misinformed if they genuinely thought it would happen. Heck, every box released so far has been simply one plastic squad of either five or ten models that comes in its own box anyway, and a piece of terrain. Why people would think you’d get two Immortals and three Flayed Ones is just beyond me!

However, this does open up the very intriguing prospect that GW may use Kill Team as a way of releasing new models in the future. Rogue Trader might just be the tip of the iceberg, and maybe plastic Flayed Ones will be in the next Necron faction expansion…

The Hand of Thrawn

Hey everybody!
I’ve been rambling a lot in my recent blogs about Warhammer stuff, but it’s time for a change of scenery today as I switch over to my other obsession, Star Wars, and the Tim Zahn duology from 1997-8, The Hand of Thrawn!

The Hand of Thrawn

I first read these novels years ago now, completely out of sequence as I had just finished Zahn’s seminal trilogy, the Thrawn Trilogy, and was hungry for more! It was the summer after my GCSE exams had been finished, and I was free to read whatever I wanted, rather than trying to catch chapters of The Last Command in between revising physics, or whatever.

Specter of the Past begins with the discovery of a badly damaged copy of The Caamas Document – a datacard that details the Bothan saboteurs involved in the destruction of the planet Caamas long before the Clone Wars. The planet’s inhabitants, the Caamasi, were well-known peacekeepers and valued mediators, and the destruction of their world was cause for galactic outcry back in the day. The discovery that there were Bothans involved leads the New Republic almost to civil war, as several species come down either on the side of wanting to make the Bothans pay for their crime, or else on the side of those who believe a more peaceful solution is needed. Of course, plenty of folks are just using the discovery of the document to reignite old hatreds and resume petty conflicts that the Empire had pretty much put on hold.

While Leia attempts to keep the New Republic from fracturing too much, Luke is off trying to discover who is backing the Cavrilhu Pirates into attacking New Republic shipping, with what he believes to be clone pilots. His investigation almost leads to his death at their asteroid base, but Mara Jade manages to rescue him and, as they’re leaving the system, they notice an odd type of TIE-fighter lurking in the asteroid field.

Turns out, the renegade Imperial Moff Disra has been using the Pirates as part of his plan to restore the Empire to greatness, a plan that involves resurrecting Grand Admiral Thrawn through the use of the con artist known as Flim, and the tactical acumen of a Major Tierce, former Imperial Guardsman to the Emperor. He sets a plan in motion to cause said civil war above Bothawui, using elements from Imperial Intelligence to forment riots and general dissension over the Caamas issue, leading our heroes to try and find an intact copy of the Caamas Document, and name those Bothans responsible for destroying the shield generator, rather than holding the entire species accountable.

This is the background, and the duology takes us through the sort of galaxy-spanning epic that we expect from Zahn in his Bantam era. It really has that sort of feel that we know from the earlier trilogy – our heroes flying across the galaxy, visiting planets we have never heard of and encountering a whole load of weird aliens along the way. While Admiral Pellaeon is trying to sue for peace with the New Republic, Disra’s plans lead to a more subtle conflict with the Empire at first, which is a different change of pace for pretty much any Bantam novel. There is a lot of the shadow war with Imperial Intelligence, and while Flim’s Thrawn impersonation is seemingly flawless, he is nevertheless kept almost hidden from view, with merely the rumour of his return being cause enough to send the New Republic into a frenzy. The civil war is balanced along a knife edge that almost runs on too long, but is nevertheless built up really very well.

One of my earliest gripes with this novel was the fact that Zahn seemingly felt the need to bring Thrawn back from the dead. Of course, the book is pretty much from the off about a con game and we know it, but it did feel a bit like he couldn’t think up a more convincing villain for the heroes to go up against, so he just brought the earlier one back. Of course, when you get to the end of the book, and reflect on the story as a whole, it actually works really well.

We get to meet Thrawn’s people, the Chiss, and learn that Thrawn had in fact set up a clone of himself to return to known space ten years after his death, should that come to pass. Irony of ironies, it’s been ten years and now Disra puts his plan into action. The Chiss almost enter the war on the side of the Imperial Remnant, but by the end of Vision of the Future, it appears that they’re content instead to sit this one out, keeping their focus on the myriad threats of the Unknown Regions.

I find it interesting to go back and re-read these old novels, and compare them with what we have now from Disney. While I don’t feel that The Hand of Thrawn has held up as well as The Thrawn Trilogy, I still think there is a lot of good stuff in here, and it’s a shame to see so much of it just thrown out, really. The idea of the Unknown Regions holding some unimaginable threat was never really picked up on, of course, Vision of the Future was one of the last novels Bantam got to publish before Del Rey got the licence back and started the New Jedi Order off. However, the Aftermath trilogy does feel a bit like it’s picking up on this idea of the Unknown Regions and the threats there, having the Imperial Remnant following the Battle of Jakku head off there. What is going on, I wonder? Of course, Disney has managed to open up so much of the Star Wars galaxy once more, and really make it feel like a huge place, so we’re probably fine for now to leave the Unknown Regions as they are…

Naturally, given when this duology was published, Zahn has got a lot more Star Wars lore to pull from this time around, rather than having to make the whole lot up for himself, and there are a lot of references to Mike Stackpole’s work, particularly the Rogue Squadron comics. Baron Fel makes an appearance, and Corran Horn is something of a major second-tier character. Zahn and Stackpole are friends, of course, so that isn’t unexpected, but it does feel weird that we get that sort of detail this time around. There is also reference made to both the Black Fleet Crisis books and the Callista trilogy, though these do feel a little forced at times.

In the midst of all the chaos, we of course get to catch up with Talon Karrde and his organisation, and get to see a lot of the smuggler chief’s history. It was interesting to see this sort of thing expanded upon, and we get a lot of links back to The Thrawn Trilogy and some of the plot points that were left hanging from that series are wrapped up. Notably, Mara Jade leaves the Karrde organisation at the end of the duology, although Karrde has already had an almost-replacement for her in the form of Shada D’ukal, the Mistryl Shadow Warrior from The Last Command. There is a lot of weaving of threads from earlier Zahn stories throughout the pair of books here, but I suppose Shada shows how far this goes when we get an almost synopsis of the short story Hammertong that Zahn wrote for Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina. I wouldn’t say the references are particularly necessary to enjoy the books – I certainly did enjoy them when I first read them back in the day, having only previously read Zahn’s trilogy and Crimson Empire up to that point. But there is another layer that can be enjoyed if you have indeed read through the myriad offerings of short stories in this way.

Prior to reading the pair this time around, I re-read Jade Solitaire from Tales of the New Republic, which merely serves to show why Talon Karrde has a Togorian working on his crew now, as well as giving Mara Jade her ship, Jade’s Fire, which is featured in a somewhat significant plot point in Vision of the Future. It’s not necessary, for sure, but does add a layer or two that can be enjoyed. For me, I think it just helps to harken back to those days when the narrative was keen to explain away every single point in the movies and beyond, and brings back a lot of nostalgia for me. Talon Karrde’s journey into the Exocron system has even got me wanting to dig out my copy of The DarkStryder Campaign! Maybe that can be the subject of another blog here soon…

Don’t get me wrong, of course – it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Far from it, I was actually surprised to discover that I didn’t rate this duology nearly as highly as I remembered. I think a lot of that is down to the fact that I have such fond memories of reading these books as a sixteen year old, that now I’ve come to expect more from my literature in general, I found them to be a bit lacking. There is quite an effort made, I feel, to recapture the spirit of the Thrawn Trilogy, almost to the point where it becomes annoying, and I find myself wishing that Zahn had branched out into a completely new direction. Elements of the storyline such as Karrde’s plot were a lot more refreshing, because they had the hint of the earlier trilogy without rehashing it as much as, say, the Luke and Mara trek through the caverns of Nirauan – which Luke actually explicitly compares with their trek through the forest on Myrkr. There are also some vaguely silly scenes, particularly around the Caamas Incident politics. It’s nice that we get reference to the senate being rebuilt following the Almanian Uprising, that does help to make the universe feel really coherent, but the fact that the senate is populated by weird senators, one of whom is jabbering on about needing to sit on her eggs, just feels too out there. Weird.

There were also a lot of elements that felt a lot more like fan fiction than perhaps they should have been. I probably need to elaborate a lot more on this, so here goes. Any movie tie-in like this can of course fall under the heading of fan-fiction, as that’s basically what it is. However, for official licensed media by Lucasfilm, novels like these should feel more like a continuation of the storyline, and while new characters of course need to be introduced to keep the narrative fresh, the way that new characters interact with movie ones is usually where these things fall down. During the Thrawn Trilogy, the interaction was superb, and it felt like these people truly inhabited the same universe as the movies. But when you get a character (or characters) being made into something “better” than the movie heroes, the whole situation can quickly devolve, and it feels a lot like that happens in the scenes where Mara is berating Luke for his actions over the last few years. I know why it was included, of course, as the Bantam novels did have a tendency to make Luke into a kind of demigod at times, but it smacks of something I particularly dislike from Stackpole’s novel I, Jedi, where Corran tells Luke off in such a manner that makes Corran out to be a much better person – maybe even a better Jedi – than Luke is. It makes me cringe so much, and unfortunately that does happen a couple of times in the course of Vision of the Future. It feels very much like Zahn is trying to re-set the narrative by taking Luke away from the god-like portrayal of other novels, and instead set him up for the next stage (which may or may not have involved fighting the unnamed threats of the Unknown Regions), but has the end result of almost returning him to the sort of farmboy he was in A New Hope.

That was a bit rambly, but hopefully you can follow my point!

There is still a tremendous amount to enjoy from these books, and I can definitely recommend you getting a hold of them if you can and giving them a read. While they pretty much have no bearing on the Star Wars narrative post-Disney, of course, they’re nevertheless some of the better books to come out of the Legends canon, and are still some of my favourites!

Jumping on the beast-wagon

Hey everybody!
Well, if you’re one of my instagram followers, not only do you have impeccable taste, but you’ve likely already seen the post from last week about being seduced by the lure of the Beasts of Chaos battletome for Age of Sigmar. The musk is obviously heavy with those fine gentlemen. Ahem, anyway.

I haven’t played Age of Sigmar in years. In fact, I’ve only played it twice, and that was in its first edition, and I was playing with the new Stormcast Eternals. I did like those chaps, and still have my army from back in the day. At any rate, while I’ve made no real move to do anything more with the fantasy setting of Warhammer, I have been keeping an eye on things, and have often felt myself weakening as regards to getting back into it all. See, Warhammer Fantasy is what got me into this mess in the first place, and I will no doubt always have a soft spot for the Old World, even in its new incarnation.

While I was almost won over by the Daughters of Khaine (I did buy a couple of things, but then returned them and bought loads of Tau, instead) and the Idoneth Deepkin (I do actually have a box of something from that line, though I’m planning to turn them into Mandrakes for my Dark Eldar army – though I have heard they’re not quite the right scale? Oh, anyway), I’ve always managed to keep myself back from pulling the trigger on getting into Age of Sigmar with a full army. But when the previews started coming out on the Warhammer Community website, I was finding myself increasingly drawn to the Beasts of Chaos, and the idea of once again getting into the whole Fantasy thing, and so I have cautiously begun to dip my toe into the pond on that. Well, we’re probably mid-calf at this point, but I’m digressing.

Beasts of Chaos are one of the classic armies from the World that Was, of course, and were incidentally the first army I played against in the AoS system. I remember at the time thinking they looked like great models, and around the same time I bought some Minotaurs (now called Bullgors). I never did anything with them, and I think I ended up selling them. Anyway.

With all the new stuff coming for the army, I’ve once again turned my focus to these delightful, hairy chaps, and have decided that here is the army that I’ve been waiting for to get my attention.

I’m hearing a lot of good things about Age of Sigmar 2.0, and there has always been a very vibrant Fantasy scene at my local store, so I reckon it’s as good a time as any to start getting properly into this stuff. For the moment, life seems to have settled a little, so I think it’s about time I looked into the other offerings from Games Workshop, and see what they have going on.

Endless Spells are something I have no idea about, but they do sound kinda fun, adding another level to the game. I’ve always played armies with no psychic ability in 40k, so magic and the like is something that I’m not 100% sure about. So that’ll be interesting to see where it goes. The fact that magic spells have models sounds great, anyway, and the flaming bull and magical horn look tremendous – not so sure on the birds, but they’ll make great Razorwing Flock proxies for my Beast Pack in my Dark Eldar army.

All in all, I’m really looking forward to trying my hand with the Beastmen.

But wait – there’s more!!

I’ve been talking with a mate about Blood Bowl, and we’re both going to give it a go at some point, with a bit of luck. Once again, it’s good to have the sort of game where all you need is one team to get going, so I think it’ll be nice to have something available to use should the opportunity arise. Naturally, I’ve chosen the Doom Lords, although I was also considering the Dark Elves at one point. I have no idea about getting into Blood Bowl, and have only today ordered the box of these chaps, so once I’m sufficiently along with the AoS Beastmen, I think I’ll start to look at the fantasy football team and see where I can go with them, also.

Stay tuned for more blogs where I ramble inanely about my adventures with Beastmen, as I get started with both Age of Sigmar and Bloodbowl!

Rogue Trader

Hey everybody!
It’s a bit of a retro-40k week here on spalanz.com, after my look at Necromunda (albeit in its latest incarnation) earlier in the week. So I thought I’d stay on theme for this post and look at the original rules for Warhammer 40,000 from way back in 1987!

Rogue Trader

Last year, 40k turned 30, and there were of course a number of celebrations of that fact, including the new 8th edition, and of course a facsimile reproduction of the original 40k rulebook, Rogue Trader. Sold exclusively at Warhammer World, the reproduction is pretty much entirely faithful to the original book, albeit with a revised publication history, and shows us latecomers to the game just where it all began.

I’m not going to go over the rules in great detail here, but I just wanted to share some of my initial thoughts and reactions having been leafing through the book of late.

First of all, the book feels entirely too much like a Role Playing Game, rather than a tabletop wargame. The black-and-white illustrations are highly evocative of the old Star Wars RPG from West End Games, and there are pages and pages of table of weapon stats that read a great deal like they’re for use in a RPG setting, in my view.

Rogue Trader

There is a lot of lore in this book, as well, which again adds to the RPG feel. Unlike with the recent editions of the game, where the lore comes first, the book is organised with all the rules in the opening chapters. The Age of the Imperium chapter then goes into great detail over all manner of things, such as the Imperium’s organisation and structure, before travelling over other alien races such as the Tyranids, Eldar and Orks. Notably, Genestealers are a separate race to Tyranids, and of course, we get the classic Squats as basically Space Dwarves, and Slann as Space Lizardmen. We also get a whole bunch of rules for different plant and animal life with which we can pepper the game.

There is a recommendation that games use a GM to keep track of all these myriad rules, which crops up in several parts of the book. There’s a nice little section on collecting miniatures, where the book recommends you plan your purchases before just buying lots and lots of shiny new toys – itself such a different tack from the current way of doing things! – and there is the suggestion that the GM will buy or convert all of the weird and wonderful NPC-like monsters and aliens that your armies can fight.

Conversions seem to be actively encouraged, with whole sections talking about suitable materials with which you can scratch-build terrain and the like. Whereas one person may just see leftover plastic yoghurt cartons, Rick Priestley sees a control tower just needing assembly! It’s all pretty fantastic, and feels just incredibly geared towards giving us the tools we need to really immerse ourselves in The Hobby as a whole.

Of course, the lore is a bit different then to how it is now. Of course, we have the Space Marines as the defenders of mankind, all bedecked in (MkVI) beaky helmets, but no mention of the Horus Heresy or Chaos in general. The basic backbone is there, for sure, but there is a lot that is missing from the established storyline in this book.

Rogue Trader

I said I wasn’t going to talk about the rules, but it is worth mentioning that the game otherwise feels quite similar to how it remains. The turn sequence is still move-shoot-melee, though there is a separate Reserves phase that follows melee combat, and the Psychic phase follows that, with the Rallying phase coming last (analogous to the Morale phase).

There are, of course, the whole host of byzantine charts that explain how to wound in close combat, etc, and vehicle firing arcs are gloriously a thing in this edition. I do miss that – it feels a bit weird that a vehicle, whose guns are modeled pointing away from the action, can still be a part of things. But I guess it does allow for speedier gameplay.

Rogue Trader

Anyway!

Overall, I love the look of this book. It reminds me so much of the old Star Wars RPG, as I’ve said, but on closer inspection, it has so much in common with British comics of the era such as 2000AD. I’m not 100% sure, but I think my brother may have actually had this book when we were growing up. If he didn’t, then it was certainly something very much like it. It harkens back to a time when gaming like this was very much the province of the nerd squad, and so they could be as complicated as you liked, because nothing had to have mass-market appeal. Does that sound elitist? Probably. But I do find myself resenting, at times, how simplistic some games have become nowadays, and how generic fantasy and sci-fi often gets, in order to appeal to the larger market. But I guess that’s a discussion for another time.

Did you used to play with 40k in the Rogue Trader era? Have any fond memories of those days? Leave a comment, and let’s talk about it!!

Sin of Damnation

Hey everybody!
I recently finished reading the novella Sin of Damnation, also known as Space Hulk: the novel, so thought I’d turn this week into some kind of Warhammer 40k nostalgia week and talk about it here for a bit!

The novella runs to just under 100 pages, and reads a lot like a disaster movie. It’s basically a novelisation of the events of the classic board game, and takes us though the Blood Angels first company boarding the space hulk Sin of Damnation. I thought it was quite funny how it felt a little like a RPG storyline, with the terminators fulfilling objectives aboard the space hulk at the direction of the off-screen Captain Raphael, who seemed to be some kind of weird GM.

Of course, there is a lot of space marine vs genestealer action in the book, with some really nicely written parts from the point-of-view of the Broodlord. While the story lacks the scope of something like Shield of Baal: Deathstorm, there is nevertheless the sense that this is the antecedent of the Shield of Baal storyline.

As the story went on, I thought it was interesting to note that there were multiple Broodlords within the hulk, something I guess I hadn’t thought about previously. Just assumed that there’d be one overall leader that directed the hive mind. But there we go!

The book also includes a second short story that was published in the 2014 edition, Sanguis Irae, which follows the librarian Calistarius on another hulk, as he delves into the mind of a long-comatose Blood Angel who has managed to preserve his life despite being in the grip of the Black Rage, enough to allow his battle brothers to defeat a Navigator-Broodlord aboard the vessel. That was weird, I have to say, and I found myself trying to work out how such a creature would come to be – presumably a member of the Navis Nobilite was infected by a genestealer, so the child was both purestrain and a navigator? Who knows. The story was quite intriguing in the way it blended the recollections of the Black Rage guy, along with the fact that the Black Rage basically makes a Blood Angel believe he is Sanguinius in his final moments aboard the Vengeful Spirit. The three timelines of the story worked quite well, at any rate, and it wasn’t as confusing as perhaps it could have been!


Anyway, all this talk of genestealers has me wanting to share with you all some progress with my own brood!

As you know, I’ve been struggling for years now to get my Genestealer Cult models painted – I love the army, and love the models, but find it extremely difficult to actually make any headway with the force, due to the models being so insanely detailed. I recently managed to finish 11 Neophyte Hybrids, which I think has helped a great deal to see how I can get the colour scheme painted in bulk, and have therefore been ploughing ahead with some Acolyte Hybrids this time around – as well as the first of my Purestrains!

The minis are definitely coming along nicely, I think! I’m a little concerned that they look a bit too blue in comparison with the Neophytes, but they are more hunched, so it is slightly more difficult to make out the points of similarity between the two troops choices. But they’re painted with the same fatigues, armour and such – it’s just that the Acolytes have more carapace on show!

I’m quite pleased that I’ve managed to get these painted in a little less than a month, however – especially considering there has been a lot of Necron activity going on in the month, also!

I’m pretty much committed to playing the Cult in Kill Team for now, anyway, so I’ve got a few more models I want to paint up for that, then I’ll have my main force finished. My local GW has a campaign starting on the 15th, though I’m currently away on honeymoon so won’t be able to join in with that quite yet! Once I have my Cult sorted though, I’ll be able to focus once more on getting the Necrons reanimated in the Thokt Dynasty colour scheme, and that will likely take me up to the end of the year! Splendid!

Necromunda!

Hey everybody!
For a good while now, I’ve been posting the odd thing here that has been excitedly talking about the latest boxed game from Games Workshop, Necromunda. Well, I thought it was probably time that I actually took some time to look into this game and check out the rules etc, as I’ve been faffing about with painting some gangers from House Orlock and, more recently, House Van Saar. So I’d like to present to you all now a bit of an insight into my experiences as I try to get to grips with the rules, and my initial thoughts prior to getting any kind of game in.

Let’s begin!

First off, let’s talk about the setting of this game. Like a lot of Games Workshop games, the setting is really very well realised. It takes place on the hive world of Necromunda, where industry has taken over and the population ekes out a living in the ash wastes of the planet. In this harsh environment, gang warfare is rife, and several factions regularly clash in the Underhive. The gangs conform to several Houses within Hive Primus on Necromunda, the most notable are: Escher (all-women), Goliath (hulking brutes), Orlock (bikers), Cawdor (masked fanatics), Van Saar (technologically superior) and Delaque (spies and assassins).

There are other factions within the Hive, notably the Enforcers (Adeptus Arbites), but also bounty hunters, hired guns, generic hive scum and the like.

The game evolved from a skirmish game originally published through White Dwarf, with the original Necromunda itself arriving in 1995. A defining trait of this original game was its multi-level terrain, linked together with walkways and ladders. The game went out of print as the years wore on, until specialist games made a reappearance in the new Games Workshop of recent years. Necromunda was almost something of a golden goose for many fans, who were just chomping at the bit waiting for its announcement. When Shadow War: Armageddon was released early in 2017, this was seen as a bit of a disappointment – not only because the boxed game had such a limited release, but because it just wasn’t Necromunda. Fortunately, an announcement over the summer put those fears to rest, and Necromunda: Underhive was released in November 2017 with House Escher vs House Goliath. While tile-based, Necromunda was back.

The game lends itself really well to campaign play, with gangers leveling up as they gain control of more territory. This aspect of the game is something I hadn’t first realised, but have come to find really fascinating. In so many ways, Necromunda feels like an actual RPG, with some exciting opportunities for telling stories through the gameplay. There’s the chance for your gang to kidnap a member of a rival gang, gain the affiliation of bounty hunters and other hired guns through reputation, etc etc. It’s all pretty marvellous, I have to say!

Of all the Houses, I think I first liked the sound of House Delaque. Spies in trench coats hold a certain appeal for me, though it soon transpired they would be the last gang released for the game, coming around Christmas 2018 I’m guessing. When the Orlocks were previewed, though, I was enamoured, and immediately bought everything I could for these chaps. Their almost 80s biker aesthetic really caught my eye as being so very different to anything I was used to seeing from GW, and I set to work trying to get some painted.

Sadly, I set to painting these incredibly detailed miniatures – which feel a lot smaller than other minis from GW, as it happens – while I was trying to get over a painting slump, and it really didn’t go well for me. I lost interest, and put them aside in favour of the Tau army I started to build. Then this happened…

House Van Saar is the sort of thing I would never have thought I’d get into so much. I’ve been buying everything that they release for Necromunda as they release it, but hadn’t seriously looked into the game until a fortnight or so ago, when I got all the Gang War books out, and started to actually read the rules for gang creation. It helped that I’d also been working on Genestealer Cults for Kill Team, and remembered that the rules for using these in Necromunda actually came out in White Dwarf earlier in the year.

Looking again at Van Saar, I was enamoured, and have set to work making my actual gang with gusto! The only thing that has so far given me pause is the fact I’m not sure where I’ll be able to play it, as I don’t think my local GW really likes the specialist games being played there. But still, I’ve got six gangers to paint up as my starting force, and I’m loving it!

This past weekend, we’ve had House Cawdor released, the religious fanatics that look vaguely medieval, but still manage to fit the grim dark vibe really well, I think!

I’m still picking up everything for the game, of course, so have picked these dudes up as well, but I’m not sure if/when I’ll get round to building and painting them. Maybe soon I’ll draw up a list? I’ve been thinking a lot about drawing up starting lists for all the gangs that I have – even the Goliaths, who I haven’t so much as looked at the sprues for since I got the game for Christmas last year. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to convince my fiancée to play, though I might make a suggestion in the near future to see how she’d feel about trying something immersive. Eldritch Horror was a surprising success with her, so who knows!

At any rate, it looks like a really amazing gaming experience, and is one that I’m hoping to explore in depth soon enough!