Gaming catch up, and more!

Hey everybody!
I tend to talk about Warhammer a lot on this blog, which I suppose is fine because it is my blog and all, but every so often I like to branch out a bit and take a look at the wider world, and see what’s going on that I might have missed! Well, I thought today would be one such branch, as I take some time to catch up with what I’ve been up to and whatnot!

I read this article on New Year’s Day, and I feel weirdly sad to see Christian Petersen leave FFG. I suppose it’s just a bit of fear of the new, and while I haven’t really been all that into FFG games of late (there was a time when they were the only publisher I bought from), I still feel a sort of attachment to the company, and of course, its CEO. I used to enjoy the In-Flight Reports during GenCon, and always thought he sounded like a cool guy. Hopefully we’ll continue to see amazing quality games coming from the company, anyway, and I hope we don’t get too much of a shake-up when he is replaced. Although I remain quite firmly convinced that Lord of the Rings LCG is going to be saying farewell soon enough!

There was another preview for the Arkham Horror LCG on the same day, showing Tarot cards as a new type of player card for the game, which sound like an interesting idea. Over the festive period, I started the ball rolling with building a couple of new investigator decks for the game, as I’m intending to finally get around to the Dunwich Legacy! It’s been a few years now, of course, but I’m looking forward to seeing what the game has in store for me as I venture beyond the core set! Stay tuned for updates on that one – Arkham Horror LCG is definitely a fun game, and if you’re a fan of the lore, it certainly has a lot to offer!

In 2018, I played a grand total of 47 games. I used to play that many in a month, so this is a definite down-turn, but in December I started making a conscious effort to try and play more. That was certainly helped by playing the Harry Potter deck-building game with Jemma over Christmas (I’ll have to get round to featuring that on the blog sometime soon!) Excitingly, she has said that playing that game has made her better-predisposed to trying stuff like Lord of the Rings again, so hopefully we can trudge off into Mordor together soon!

Though I’m not sure we’ll be playing much Magic anytime soon…

The new set, Ravnica Allegiance, is coming out at the end of the month, and is quite exciting for me as it features two of my very favourite guilds, Rakdos and Orzhov. While I did buy some bits for the last set, Guilds of Ravnica, as it only had Dimir as a guild I usually play I wasn’t entirely fussed with it. I did actually build a Boros deck, as I ended up with a lot of those cards in the packs I picked up, and I do like playing Boros on occasion, but I am particularly looking forward to the Rakdos and Orzhov cards this time around, as well as another perennial favourite, Simic!

I feel quite excited about this set, even if I don’t get to play anything of it. We’re getting some exciting new cards for some of my favourite guilds:

The new mechanic for Rakdos is Spectacle, which offers an alternative casting cost if an opponent lost life this turn – in keeping with the classic Rakdos, Lord of Riots guild leader, naturally. They’re discounts on some cards, and increases on others to yield enhanced effects. Speaking of the cult leader himself, he’s getting a new card – Rakdos, the Showstopper – as are many guild leaders of old, such as Lavinia and Zegana. Each guild also gets a new Legendary Creature, which will be fun for Commander, and there are a couple of new Planeswalkers, including Kaya for the Orzhov (last seen in Conspiracy 2, so that’s fun the ghost assassin is now in a regular set).

Orzhov is getting an interesting new mechanic, Afterlife, which creates a 1/1 Spirit token when the creature with Afterlife dies. It wouldn’t be Orzhov without seeing Teysa again, and of course she’s back with new token shenanigans, which I’m sure will make her a powerhouse when she comes into the wild. Granting tokens vigilance and lifelink is lovely, and causing a trigger to occur twice just makes Afterlife so much more powerful on its own. She’s going to be a hit, I’m sure – I’m just a little sad I probably won’t be able to get her outside of a lucky pack opening!

Simic has Adapt, which allows you to put +1/+1 counters on a creature if there aren’t any by paying the Adapt cost. Given the number of counter-synergies within Simic guild cards alone, I can imagine Commander players are going to get a whole lot of fun out of using these mechanics with older iterations from the guild. I can certainly see myself adding in a few to my Prime Speaker Zegana deck, for sure! New Zegana still gives some card draw, but acts a bit like a Lord for all cards with a +1/+1 counter on them, giving them trample. Very handy. In case you aren’t interested in beating your opponent down the traditional way, Simic also has an alternative win condition with Simic Ascendancy, which allows you to put growth counters on it whenever you add a +1/+1 counter to a card – if Simic Ascendancy has 20 or more growth counters on it, you win! Cards like Hydroid Krasis, which enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters, or Combine Guildmage, who gives you an additional +1/+1 counter on any cards entering the battlefield for a turn, or Biogenic Upgrade, which allows you to distribute three +1/+1 counters across creatures you control, then to double the counters on that creature, will definitely help you get Simic Ascendancy close to 20 growth counters! Of course, that’s the dream, but even so!

I think it’s safe to say that I’m a lot more excited for Ravnica Allegiance, at any rate!!

View this post on Instagram

Seeing the new year in with this #nowReading

A post shared by Mark (@marrrkusss) on

Finally, I thought I’d have a brief ramble about a book I finished reading at New Year, United States of Japan. Taking as its starting point that the Axis won World War II, we see a very different take on the West Coast of America, as Japan is in charge of most of the area. There are pockets of American resistance, fighting out of the Rockies, but Japan holds California in an iron grip. The majority of the book takes place in the late 1980s, but it’s a lot more technologically advanced, with everybody using porticals (basically, smartphones) to play games almost constantly. This activity is strictly monitored by the authorities, so when a game called Unites States of America is suddenly made available, showing an alternate take on the end of the war, these rebels are shut down with maximum prejudice. The whole thing ends in a rather shocking denouement in San Diego, with the future fairly unsure for our protagonists.

I went into this novel with a bit of trepidation, as I wasn’t sure it was going to be all that good. I’m not entirely up on my Japanese culture, and there were a number of references to it peppered throughout, but I found the book really easy to read, and positively raced through it. I do enjoy alt-histories like this, and I love a good post-apocalyptic storyline, so the fact that both elements were combined here was really quite fun.

One of my main frustrations with the book, though, was that I found myself wanting to know more about the wider world than we were getting from the story. WW2 was said to end in 1948, then the novel leaps forward 40 years, with only a few fleeting references to what Germany was up to in Europe and on the East Coast of America. I know Peter Tieryas has written a second book within the same universe, which seems to deal more with a specific aspect of the universe than seeing things from a wider perspective, but I find myself wanting to know more of what this world could look like! Hopefully there will be a third book that might see that.

At any rate, it was a real discovery for me in the final days of 2018, and I would say it’s definitely worth a read if you’re into alternative takes on stuff like this!

Nighthaunt Updates!

Hey everybody!
Well, it’s only been a week since the start of the year, and all my grandiose plans for what I’d like to do hobby-wise in 2019, but I’m quite pleased to announce that I’ve already been making some great progress with a couple of these plans! I had my first game of the year earlier today, with my New Year/New Army project, and it was Age of Sigmar, to boot! Nighthaunt vs Maggotkin, just a 500-point game to get into the swing of things, as it were, but it was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to getting more fantasy games under my belt as the year goes on!

I’ve been trying to get some Nighthaunt painted up for roughly a week, using the game to try and spur me on a bit. I’ve made some good progress, and there are some models that are coming along really nicely, I feel. Don’t get me wrong, I still have quite a ways to go, given that there will be a lot of Chainwrasps to paint before I’m done with the army, but the models are so beautiful that I really want to try to take my time with them, and while I had been rushing a bit to get them futher along for the game, I feel like I want to try and take some time to do a better job now. Even so, the basic troops unit for the army, the Chainwrasps, can look pretty decent with a fairly simple colourscheme:

I primed the models with Corax White – never a fun thing to do, but between a lot of shaking, and warming it on the radiator first, I managed to escape having the dreaded powdery coating! Everything has then been shaded either with Nighthaunt Gloom, Drakenhof Nightshade, or Coelia Greenshade, to try and achieve a variation of spooky looks across the army. Some models I had painted the cloaks either Ionrach Skin or Celestra Grey, which gives a slightly different finish to the shade than simply shading the primer. There is quite a random look to them, which I do quite like – I don’t want to have a uniform look to my ghosts! I then drybrushed them mostly with Ulthuan Grey, though some were also drybrushed with Deepkin Flesh. I’ve tried to go over most of the “skin” with Drakenhof Nightshade, to give a bit of unity with the Thorns of the Briar Queen warband that I had painted up last year, though I’ve also just left them as they are.

The texture of the models is really quite wonderful for drybrushing, and it has resulted in some quite decent-looking tabletop miniatures already. Last night I then went in and painted all of the rocks with Mechanicus Standard Grey, and some of the bases had been done with Astrogranite. I’ve then shaded the rocks with Nuln Oil, and I’ll probably go back in with Dawnstone as a drybrush to finish that off when I’ve done all of the basing. I’ve then tried to focus my attention on doing the metalwork on a couple of the models, painting it all with Leadbelcher (and then picking out a few bits with Retributor Armour) before shading everything with Agrax Earthshade. I chose the brown wash mainly because I’d misplaced the Nuln Oil, but I think it actually looks pretty good for them – the weapons, certainly, need to look dirty and stuff! So I quite like how that has turned out.

I’m hoping to continue to plug away with these for a while, anyway – I really want to make sure I get the battleline troops painted up alongside the heroes, rather than focusing my attention on the single-models and then finding myself losing interest in the main troops. I’m not 100% sure yet how I’m going to paint the Knight of Shrouds, as I do want to make him something of a centrepiece (until I get Nagash!) but I feel that the fairly simplistic scheme that I’ve been using for the Chainwrasps would also do quite well for this chap, as well! I’ll continue to ponder while I paint the others, anyway, and we’ll see from there!

Army Building Thoughts
So I’ve started really small, with just 500 points, although that is already 23 models! But I’m building up to a much larger list – as I have a lot of Nighthaunt models already, I’m thinking that I might as well build up towards 2000 points, plan out that list, and then focus on painting it up in sections like this. However, list-building in Age of Sigmar is a bit different to how I’m used to, with different considerations to keep in mind!

For those of you who don’t know, there is a Command Point system in AoS similar to that of 40k, in that you can spend your points to grant different effects, although it’s a much more pared-back version of the 40k system. I think pretty much the majority of Hero models in an army will have a Command Ability, although there are three generic Abilities that can be used by any Hero if he is your General. Each costs 1 Command Point to use, and you can use the same Ability in each round if you have the points to do so. You gain Command Points at the start of your Hero Phase, and in addition you start the battle with 1 Command Point per Warscroll Battalion that you include within your list.

So there’s an incentive to build your list around a collection of Battalions. Unlike in 40k, there are unique Battalions available to each army, which are included in your Battletome and they grant you specific abilities if you meet the requirements for them – not only do you have to field the right amount and type of models, but they also cost points to include in your force. So, for example, in the Nighthaunt Battletome there is a Battalion called Deathriders, which requires 1 or 2 units of Dreadblade Harrows, 2 units of Hexwraiths, and 1 Black Coach. These models cost, at a minimum, 700 points (800 points if you go for the 2 Harrows), but you need to pay an additional 130 points to put them into the Battalion itself, which grants the ability to add 1 to charge rolls, and allows models from the Battalion to fight immediately if they make an unmodified charge roll of 9+. It’s basically the Wave of Terror allegiance ability (more in a bit), but will give you access to the ability if you take this Battalion in an allied army.

I’ve built my own army to include two Battalions, which will allow me to start the game with 3 Command Points. Which will be handy, although I don’t actually have that many targets for unique Command Abilities! Let’s look at the list, anyway, and I’ll explain my thoughts a bit more.

Version one has a total of six Leaders and four Battleline units, which meets the list building criteria as laid out in the General’s Handbook. Incidentally, how weird is it that the main rules for Age of Sigmar are laid out across two separate books? I mean, I kinda get it, in that the General’s Handbook is intended for the more serious gamers, and otherwise you can have a perfectly fun game by just using the core rules alone, but something as basic as list building should really be in the core rules, surely? Hm.

I did really want to get Lady Olynder in this list, but sadly she wouldn’t quite fit. I suppose I could do away with the Spirit Hosts, and then replace the Knight of Shrouds with her, and it would still be a valid Battlehost list, but I think that’s probably for another day. My initial plans for the army actually revolved around Lady Olynder leading a banshee-based list, so I was planning to have Dreadscythe Harridans and Myrnmourn Banshees, with the Briar Queen hanging around as well, but that quickly became overshadowed by the desire to have a more broad Nighthaunt army! I do still want to have the Briar Queen in here at some point, but for now I’m actually planning to use her as the Tomb Banshee model, as I feel that particular model doesn’t really go with the rest of the range now. Same story with the Cairn Wraith really, and why I had been planning to use the Liekoron the Executioner model for him instead. But I digress.

There are two Battalions in here, as I said, but while that does grant me 3 Command Points from the off, I only have the Knight of Shrouds who has a specific Command Ability, so the other heroes would be stuck with using the generic ones. However, you can use the same Ability more than once, if you have the CP to do so, and the Knight of Shrouds grants Nighthaunt units wholly within 18″ of him +1 attack. So I can give out +1 attack to several different units each turn, so the basic Chainwrasps can dish out 3 attacks each, while the Spirit Hosts would each get 7 attacks if they were to be targeted with this Ability! Nice!

While all of that is well and good, of course, I do still feel a little bit like I’ve been forced into it because of the Battalions – the generic Command Abilities are handy, but with only three unique Command Abilities in the entire army, I can definitely see myself dropping at least one of them (possibly the Shroudguard) at some point. I’m not sure what I’d replace it with, as I’m already at my max Leaders for 2000 points. Possibly another unit of Spirit Hosts, and then maybe one of the Endless Spells, as they do seem to be quite fun – I know people seem to decry the Nighthaunt spells online, but having no experience with this, I’m all for trying out something new until I get into the groove with it all!

The fancy stuff
Of course, while the army is always made up of the units and the synergies that arise from them all, Age of Sigmar armies also have a whole host of additional stuff knocking about in the background, along the same lines as Chapter Tactics and their like for 40k armies. This is where things get really interesting, and I must say, it was a confusing part of the game to me for a long time!

First of all, there are the Allegiance Abilities – a suite of six for the Nighthaunt, who do not have any kind of distinct sub-faction within the army. There are some powerful abilities here that are almost duplicated within the Battalions that I’m taking, which is why I’ve been thinking it might be quite easy to just ditch them if I feel I’m using up valuable points. Then there are unique Command Traits that can be given to the General. Remember when I said there were only three characters in the Battletome with their own Command Ability? Well, this will allow me to remedy that by choosing, say, the Guardian of Souls as the recipient of a Command Trait of his own. Importantly, unique characters cannot be the recipients of any of these things, so Reikenor the Grimhailer is out for receiving any further Command Traits or Artefacts of Power.

For the purposes of my list, I’ve actually chosen the Knight of Shrouds as my General – for a long time, I considered nominating the Spirit Torment, but I think the Knight is a much more bellicose figure to lead the troops! While he does already have a Command Ability, there appears to be nothing preventing me from also giving him a Trait, so I’ve gone with Ruler of the Spirit Hosts, which allows him to return D3 slain models to a unit within 9″ of him. So I’ve got recursion from both the Guardian of Souls and the Knight of Shrouds, which is going to be useful! Certainly, the Guardian helped a great deal during my first game today, as I managed to keep one of my Chainwrasp Horde units from dying right up until the final battle round!

I’ve got two Wizards in the army, Reikenor the Grimhailer and the Guardian of Souls. The Guardian has got the Spectral Lure spell that allows him to recur Nighthaunt models within 18″, while Reikenor can deal D3 Mortal Wounds to enemies within 12″ (with the potential for D3 more if the initial salvo slays any models). Both can only cast one spell per turn, and their unique spells are both really good. However, I can also give them an additional spell from the Lore of the Underworlds, so why not, right? I’ve given the Guardian of Souls the Lifestealer spell, which dishes out D3 Mortal Wounds on a unit within 12″, and allows me to heal him by the same number of Wounds dealt – as I need the Guardian ‘alive’ for his recursion spell, I think it’s a good enough gambit for him to take one turn off from doing that in order to heal himself in a pinch. Reikenor also knows Spectral Tether, which allows him to heal Nighthaunt Heroes within 12″ – as the most robust of all the units in the list (with 7 wounds), I figure he can be used to help keep others ‘alive’ as well.

While were on the subject of the Guardian of Souls, there are also three different sorts of Infernal Lantern he can be given, under the Artefacts of Power (basically, Relics). I was using the Wychlight Lantern in today’s game, but kept forgetting about it (it wouldn’t have had any effect, anyway). However, I’ve now decided to give him the Beacon of Nagashizzar, which buffs his Spectral Lure spell to returning D6+3 models/wounds, rather than just D6. So I’m guaranteed to get at least 4 models back, or heal 4 wounds, which is just incredibly powerful when dealing with this many Chainwrasps or pulling a Hero back from the brink.

I have the option of adding one additional Artefact of Power for each Battalion in the list, of course, so I’ve gone for the interesting choice of making the Tomb Banshee a wizard through the Midnight Tome – she knows Spirit Drain, which rolls a D6 equal to the wounds characteristic of an enemy unit within 18″, and deals out a mortal wound for each 6+. Finally, I’ve given the Knight of Shrouds Headsman’s Judgment, adding 1 to hit and to wound for his Sword of Stolen Hours. So that should be quite fun!

So that’s the army plan that I’m working on right now! I’ve got my work cut out, of course – it’s a total of 75 models to paint, and detailed ones at that! I still need to buy some Spirit Hosts, and another box of Chainwrasps, as well as the Bladegheist Revenants. But I’m looking forward to the task, as the models are really quite wonderful to paint, and should look fantastic as an army when they’re finished.

In the meantime, I’m hoping to get some more smaller-scale games in as I try to learn more of the intricacies of the game – Age of Sigmar has come a long way since I first tried it out back in 2016, and while many people still seem to think of it as something of a simple game (in my local area, at least), I feel like there is a lot more to it than perhaps I’ve seen so far. Having played one basic game at a very low-cost points level, I’ve only scratched the surface, so I’m looking forward to more!

My 2018 in books

I’ve been inspired to take a look back at last year through all of the books that I read, most of which I’ve made some rambling posts about on this here blog, I think – so without further ado, let’s get started!

I’d been hoping for better from 2018, if I’m honest. My wife Jemma is a voracious reader, and easily got through a lot more than the 50 I’d set myself! I think it’s to do with the fact that she has a very focused ‘want to read’ list on goodreads, whereas I had a more casual approach to that.

January
Dark Fire (CJ Sansom)
Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel (James Luceno)

February
The Devastation of Baal (Guy Haley)
Elephants Can Remember (Agatha Christie)
Cult of the Warmason (CL Werner)
Aquaman and the Others: Legacy of Gold (Dan Jurgens)

March
Sovereign (CJ Sansom)
Farsight (Phil Kelly)

April
The Axeman’s Jazz (Ray Celestin)
Darth Vader: The Shu-Torun War (Kieron Gillen)
Darth Vader: End of Games (Kieron Gillen)
Aphra: Aphra (Kieron Gillen)
Star Wars: Yoda’s Secret War (Jason Aaron)
The Screaming Citadel (Kieron Gillen)
Aphra: The Enormous Profit (Kieron Gillen)

May
Fear to Tread (James Swallow)
Star Wars: Out Among the Stars (Jason Aaron)
Star Wars: The Ashes of Jedha (Kieron Gillen)
Murder on the Orient Express (Agatha Christie)

June
The Ashes of Prospero (Gav Thorpe)
Fire and Ice (Peter Fehervari)

July
The Well of Ascension (Brandon Sanderson)
Last Bus to Woodstock (Colin Dexter)

August
Necropolis (Dan Abnett)
War of Secrets (Phil Kelly)
Five Little Pigs (Agatha Christie)

September 
Specter of the Past (Tim Zahn)
Vision of the Future (Tim Zahn)
Third Girl (Agatha Christie)

October
Revelation (CJ Sansom)
Last Shot (Daniel José Older)
Consequences (Graham McNeill)
Dead Sky, Black Sun (Graham McNeill)

November
Of Honour and Iron (Ian St Martin)
Skitarius (Rob Sanders)

December
Tech Priest (Rob Sanders)
Crossfire (Matthew Farrer)
The Lion (Gav Thorpe)
Savage Weapons (Aaron Dembski-Bowden)
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (Agatha Christie)
Call of the Lion (Gav Thorpe)
United States of Japan (Peter Tieryas)

Not a bad attempt, for sure! I’ve been reading a lot more broadly this year, in the main due to Jemma’s influence with trying to get me to read something more than Warhammer of Star Wars! So there’s a lot of crime stuff on here this year, historical crime in particular! For Christmas 2017, one of the things I had was the first book in the Matthew Shardlake series, Dissolution, and so have been reading my way through those, among the more regular fare. I’ve also read the second of the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson, Well of Ascension, while on holiday in Ireland for my now-brother in law’s wedding. The point of singling these out is that I’ve been reading my way through some quite weighty tomes, so I suppose that helps to explain the low numbers!

To help mitigate things, I’ve been reading some shorter stories, particularly the Horus Heresy stories at the end of the year, and also some comics – particularly when trying to catch up with the Star Wars books! Of course, I’ve been told off for calling these books by the wife, though I do feel there’s a lot to be said for comics, but that’s just me!! In compiling this list though, I was surprised at how many I’ve missed off writing up some thoughts, might have to try and get some of these done in the coming weeks!

Anyway, it’s been an exciting year for branching out, and all the rest of it, and I’m hoping for more excitement in the year to come!

New Year, New Army! 2019 edition

Well, you knew this was coming, right?!

After reading the post on the Warhammer Community site, and thinking about what I want to get done in the hobby generally this year, I thought it’d be fun to do something similar, and create a series of posts that will regularly check in on how I’m doing with this year’s undertakings!

I’m going to be doing Nighthaunt this year – while I have a lot of projects on the go right now, some of which I can potentially see getting quite significant as time goes on, I think the whole Age of Sigmar thing has gotten me quite excited for the hobby at the minute. It’s pretty much a new game system to me, as I have only played two games of 1st edition back in 2016, and from what I’ve seen of the changes that have been made over the last couple of years, I might as well have been playing a wholly different game!

I currently have a fair few projects on the go for Age of Sigmar – an army in each Grand Alliance, as it happens! But while I am excited to get moving with all of these ideas, I think the Nighthaunt are where I want to start – not only start painting a fantasy army again, but to start learning Age of Sigmar!

I’ve arranged a small, 500-point game for next week (I know you’re not supposed to play at 500 points), so I’m quite excited about that! The list is intended to be quite straightforward, as I want to gain an understanding of the game, and what I need to do in the game, etc. So I’m trying not to go to fancy with magic or anything just yet. I’ve got two units of 10 Chainwrasp Horde, along with a Guardian of Souls, a Knight of Shrouds on Ethereal Steed, and a Cairn Wraith.

I’m thinking there will be enough going on between the Guardian of Souls and the Knight of Shrouds buffing the Chainwrasps, then the Cairn Wraith is just hanging out doing his own thing. Importantly, though, I don’t want to use the old Cairn Wraith model, so I’ve got my eye on the named Lord Executioner, who should fit the bill quite nicely.

I’ve also been considering getting some Glaivewraith Stalkers in the list instead, which are the same points cost – it just comes down to the fact that I already have a lot of models in this list that need painting, so I was looking for an easier option!

I like the idea of starting a full army this year, along the lines of taking a Start Collecting box, and then each month adding in other stuff. I’ve talked several times about following the Tale of Four Warlords idea like this, but have never seemed to follow through on things. Well, there isn’t a Start Collecting box for the Nighthaunt (yet!), but the Soul Wars box set sure provides a pretty good starting point! I’ve been doing some research, though, and I think that each of the AoS Start Collecting boxes is roughly around the 500-point mark – there are some, like the Daemons boxes, which are below 400 points, whereas Slaves to Darkness and Fyreslayers are almost 600 points. So I think I’m on the right track, anyway!

This is a very exciting project for me, at any rate, and I’m very keen to see how my force progresses! I’ve painted up the Thorns of the Briar Queen of course, but I’m looking forward to getting a bigger army underway!

New Year Open Day 2019!

Ohmygod you guys! Ohmygod! There’s so much good stuff in this latest round of reveals from the New Year Open Day, I just don’t know where to begin! Well, I’ll start at the top, I guess, and go from there…

Genestealer Cults are getting a slew of new and interesting figures, and I just don’t know how to explain how excited I am for these guys! Well, the female magos seems to be a little pandering – I mean, the Magos from Overkill is a classic sculpt, I’m not entirely convinced by this one as she seems a little too… 1950s sci-fi? I don’t know. I really like the mysterious chap with his pimp-cane (seems like GW are really pimping it up after the Delaque chaps arrived) and the vox-hacker chap is also really cool. Not sure about the assassin-type model, either, but anyway.

Someone on the GSC facebook page suggested these might come as something akin to the Court of the Archon for the Dark Eldar, which would make more sense than having a massive selection of different HQs to deal with, but I suspect we might have a similar situation to Space Marine Command Squads, where they’re now separated out into a number of elites slots rather than being fielded as a unit. But I would also like to see them packaged together and come as one, so hope springs eternal on that one.

As well as the bikers, we’re also getting a new terrain piece, which I do like – hopefully we’ll be getting a lot more custom terrain for each force as time goes on. Necrons could do with having something interesting, I feel! It’s certainly an exciting time to be a 40k fan, that’s for sure!

But 40k isn’t the only system getting the love, as we see a new Battle Box for Age of Sigmar coming out, featuring Flesh Eater Courts and Skaven! I’ve recently been thinking about investigating the little rats, as several of their models remind me of the Mechanicus minis, and I think that’s cool. I’ve been thinking about, but ultimately passing over, several of these boxes since we initially had Forgebane, but I think I might well pick this one up and sell off the zombie portion, instead getting a decent start on some Skaven models!

Looks like we’re getting Stormfiends, a Warp Lightning Cannon, a Doomwheel, and the new character model, the Warlock Bombadier. I find it a little bit odd that there’s no infantry for the box set, but then the Skaven models included come to £79.50 without the new character, so I suppose the set is going to retail around £90, and still provide a massive saving. Definitely one for the list, anyway!

I’m also looking forward to some Grots, though given the sheer amount of new stuff being announced here, I think I’m going to not only be planning out very carefully what I end up buying, but also downsizing my collection of existing miniatures in order to make room!

Back to 40k and Kill Team now, with a look at the next batch of good stuff. I’m not honestly all that sure about Kill Team: Arena, as it looks a lot like a rehashing of the Rogue Trader box. Maybe it’ll be worth it for the additional rules content, but the box size initially made me interested, then I saw that the terrain was mainly doors and barrels, with rules for fighting in close quarters. Well, I suppose it might be a cheaper price point than the Rogue Trader box, which might make it worth getting for some, but I might be holding off for the time being, until we see some more.

Interestingly, however, there are two new expansions for the two Kill Teams that came in the original box – an AdMech team that features Sicarians, and a Genestealer Cults team that includes Acolyte Hybrids. Both of them come with a Commander model, though, and the usual sheet of tokens and terrain and whatnot, but I find it interesting how we’re seeing the evolution of the different Team expansions from last year. Commanders is presumably a more integrated part of the game than we’d originally expected, and they’re using this game as a delivery method for new models for the regular 40k game, with the Cult Eastwood gunslinger Primus, alongside a new sort of Tech-Priest, the Manipulus. I’m not 100% sold on the latter, if I’m honest, as he does look a little too much like he was originally intended as a Nurgle model. But maybe he’ll be better in the flesh, or else with a little converting.

I’m glad to see more for Kill Team, for sure, and I hope this new type of expansion could herald my idea for “famous teams” to come further down the line. I especially like the idea that they’re expanding the original two teams from the core set, as that is a fantastic way to build on last year’s box for people new to the game, as well as to get them hooked into buying more for regular 40k in true gateway-drug style!

While that’s all for the stuff that grabbed my attention over on the Community site, there are a few other choice morsels doing the rounds of the internets, including an expansion for the Blackstone Fortress game!

Blackstone Fortress Dreaded Ambull

I’m not that old in the hobby to remember the Ambull from back in the Rogue Trader days, but this has got a lot of people excited! Looking at the additional contents in this picture has got me wondering, though – if we’re having a new ship tile, will we be getting a new Hero to go along with it? And there’s another mystery envelope in this one, as well! How exciting!

I really like the idea of this expansion, and it once again puts me in mind of Shadows of Brimstone, only done correctly. I mean, FFP have definitely worked their socks off for that game, and I don’t mean to be too harsh, but it just didn’t feel anywhere near as polished as it perhaps could have been, possibly due to the amount of stuff they had to do to fulfill peoples’ pledges. But that’s a topic for another blog!

Finally (for now!) we’re getting two plastic Am-bots for Necromunda! Not the Adeptus Arbites, but it’ll do!

And finally, we have what looks like a new kind of Chaos Sorcerer for the Black Legion, presumably coming out when the whole Vigilus 80-day countdown thing comes to a conclusion:

I don’t know if this would happen or not, but I do quite like the idea that he might be a part of a wider Servants of the Abyss release, alongside the Blackstone Fortress goodness that is reputedly coming out in March. I think he certainly looks cool, and I’m thinking I might actually get myself a small Chaos Space Marines force soon! (Who am I kidding, small…!)

View this post on Instagram

Vigilus will burn. #PaintingWarhammer

A post shared by Warhammer (@warhammerofficial) on

Overall, it’s been incredibly exciting so far this New Year Open Day. I’m really excited to see what’s next from Nottingham, anyway!

Model of the Year!

Hey everybody!
In case you missed it, GW are running the now-traditional survey for model of the year 2018 over on the community site, and it’s well worth casting a vote, if only to look back on the crazy amount of amazing miniatures that have been released over the last twelve months! Custodians back at the top of the year – how I’d forgotten about them, I don’t know!

It was a difficult call for me, as there was so much to choose from, but in the end I went for something that had a big impact on me, personally – the Thorns of the Briar Queen warband for Warhammer: Underworlds. This is a collection of models that truly sparked off getting back into the whole fantasy thing and Age of Sigmar once again, and while I kinda looked the other way all through the slew of releases for the last couple of years, it’s this small group of miniatures that has hooked me in and got me wanting to paint and play with fantasy miniatures once again. So there we have it!

I’ve also been reading Lugren’s New Year blog, and it’s gotten me thinking a lot about the releases from last year as a whole, rather than individual models. 2018 was a tremendous year for the hobby overall, with so many wonderful releases across a whole range of systems – GW have put out their own run-down of the year over on youtube starring Peachy and Duncan, but I thought I’d take a brief look as well, with some rambling thoughts of my own!

I have to agree with Lugren on the fact that Kill Team has been huge for 40k, with massive support right out of the gate with boxed expansions for a whole slew of factions, as well as the kill zones and, of course, the more traditional expansions: Rogue Trader, and Commanders. While I can’t say with any kind of statistical certainty that it will have brought in hundreds of new players, I have certainly heard anecdotally of existing 40k players now broadening their horizons because they only wanted to paint up one box of Rubric Marines, and now Kill Team lets them do that. Giving people the perfect excuse to buy into a faction they would otherwise never have bothered with is one of the game’s greatest successes, and I’m sure plenty of people have been suckered into regular 40k due to the gateway drug of Kill Team.

Rogue Trader was huge for the hobby in general, of course, and I think the future is extremely bright for us all if GW are indeed going to continue to explore the darker corners of 40k that the regular tabletop game wouldn’t otherwise allow them. Along the same lines, Blackstone Fortress has been an absolute triumph, from all accounts, and is another outlet for the more esoteric aspects of the 41st millennium.

I’ve still only played this game once, but I remain pretty impressed by the simple fact that it exists, let alone anything else! Again, the promise of more expansions for this game in the future has got me in quite the froth, as I excitedly look forward to more miniatures I never knew I wanted! If they’re anything like the Negavolt Cultists or Rogue Psykers, then I’m going to be utterly delighted for a long time yet, anyway!

I think it’s been a curious year for 40k otherwise, as we’ve seen a lot of releases for the game, but because of the fact they’ve been pumping out the Codexes for 8th edition, I for one have been feeling like we’ve been getting more than we actually got, if that makes sense. Sure, there have been the odd smattering of new model releases, like a couple of new Knights and smaller stuff like the new Cryptek and the Abominant, but in the main we’ve seen little else. Aside, of course, from the Golden Guys, the Adeptus Custodes.

Conversely, Age of Sigmar has been almost over-abundant, from seeing all-new factions such as the Idoneth Deepkin and the Nighthaunt, to smaller models like the Harbingers for Malign Portents. There has been a lot to get excited about, especially for me as a relative outsider, and I have been joyfully getting back up to speed with the game as a whole (though I haven’t yet managed to get anywhere near to an army painted and ready, as I have only in the last couple of days decided to stick with my original plan of the Nighthaunt for my first army!)

I’ve been mightily impressed with the models on offer during 2018, and I think there is a great deal to enjoy from Games Workshop from the last twelve months. Looking to the future, we’ve got the New Year Open Day this coming weekend, where I’m hoping we’ll get to see a bit more into the future for 2019. I think I’m most intrigued by what’s next for Necromunda, as we’ve now got all six of the original gangs re-released in glorious plastic. What could be next, Arbites? Hope so!

The Genestealer Cults will be getting their new range soon, along with the long-awaited Codex, at which point we’re sort of into uncharted territory, as there are very few factions left without a book. Sisters are coming, rumour has the release being around October, so I’m not expecting their book this side of the summer. But aside from the Inquisition / Imperial Agents / Talons of the Emperor / whatever you want to call them, we’ve got it all. What will keep 40k fresh?

Campaigns, I think! I’m expecting to see more battle boxes along the lines of Forgebane and Tooth & Claw, possibly as many as one per quarter, which will tie into some kind of campaign that is going on. We’ve got part two of the Vigilus campaign going on right now, and rumours abound of the standalone release for the Blackstone Fortress models indicating a Codex: Black Legion, but I’m expecting to see something a bit more along the lines of Vigilus Defiant as we move forward. Aside from the fact that the Black Legion is the Chaos version of the Ultramarines, and so they’re the baseline for Chaos, I think it makes more sense for us to see new releases in this way. GW are afforded more flexibility with releases if they release new models in this manner – Haarken Worldclaimer and Marneus Calgar could come out without requiring a re-write of Codex: Heretic Astartes and Codex: Space Marines, for instance.

We’ll still get codices when we need them, like with the Sisters, but I think we can expect to see more in the way of campaign books and battle boxes in 2019.

For Kill Team, I’m hoping that we get at least one more big expansion along the lines of Rogue Trader, and I’m hoping that will be Inquisitors. I’ve talked about this before, of course, but I think it’s a natural move, and it really needs to happen to properly round-out that game. I’m also expecting some sort of book release like the Commanders book, but for adding either fast attack or elites options to the game – or both. I think they could quite sensibly bring in things with the right sort of limitations.

This could be a bit more out-there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they also brought out a more prescriptive kind of expansion of “famous kill teams” – you know how the Rogue Trader box gave us an actual team that was made up of random elements, and we had it as-is? I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see something that was a real eclectic mix – for example, for Dark Eldar, we could have an Archon, four Kabalite Warriors, a Lhamaean, a Haemonculus, two Wracks and a Grotesque. We wouldn’t necessarily get new models or anything, but I could imagine getting a book of random, pre-determined Kill Teams that come with special rules that you gain access to because you’re taking that exact configuration. It could be weird, and I could imagine a lot of people not wanting to be straight-jacketed in this manner, but by the same token, it could be good to allow people to take models they wouldn’t otherwise be able to bring in the game (and models like the Lhamaean and Grotesque are currently available as single models…)

Now that I’m in the game once more, I’m really looking forward to getting into Age of Sigmar and seeing more of what that game has to offer. I’m also excited about Underworlds, hoping to try that out at some time with my Briar Queen band, as well as getting the Moonclan warband painted up, and getting Mollog’s Mob when they come out! The Grot releases are incredibly exciting, and I am really looking forward to getting a couple of these models to paint up and, potentially, play with, also! I’m especially looking forward to building up this gentleman:

It’s definitely an exciting time to be in the hobby right now – I realise I say this a lot, but even with just everything that we know coming over the hill, I’m really excited for it all to make its merry way into my pile of shame!

2018 in review

Happy New Year, everyone!
It’s time to go all traditional, and all, and look back at my hobby year for 2018!

It’s been quite the year, I have to say! Despite some monumental events, including getting married in September, I’m glad to have been able to keep going with hobby stuff. I’ve definitely built more than I’ve painted, but of course that is always the case, really! Starting really quite early, I built this beautiful beast 12 months ago, though he sadly still languishes in the same state after all this time!

I really need to get a move on and make some decisions as regards my Tyranids.

I’ve done quite well with the Great Reanimation of my Necrons, getting a good number of units painted up, including the beautiful new Cryptek model. I’ve still got a way to go with the army, for sure, but having only had one unit of Immortals painted in the new Thokt dynasty scheme back in 2017, this year has seen a real surge! Splendid stuff.

2018 saw me start a couple of armies, most notably the Tau. I’m in a bit of a weird position with this army now, as I feel like it was a bit of a distraction for me while I was waiting for the Dark Eldar codex. I did enjoy building up the models, for sure, and I think there is still a place for them in my collection, but probably nowhere near as many models as I have ended up with! So I’m going to be looking through both the Tau and Tyranid collections in an effort to thin out some of the dead wood, so to speak, and make sure I only keep enough models for small forces of each that I want to actually play with. Famous last words, probably, but still!

I’ve made significant strides with yet another xenos force, the Genestealer Cults!

I was really quite surprised that I even managed to finish these guys, as I’ve been working at them for a long time now, but always seemed to be putting them off for one reason or another. Kill Team, in that respect, was a good thing for me, as it made me finish painting them up, and indeed to get moving with more models for the force:

Being a horde army, though, I’m still nowhere near to having the required number of models for the force, but I think I’m suitably inspired to keep going. Slow and steady, and all that!

I’ve been steadily progressing with my Dark Eldar, though having painted up pretty much the entire army in 2017, 2018 has definitely been a slower year for the dark kin. I’ve got plenty built up, for sure, mainly due to having formed the plans for the army during 7th edition, but we’ll see how many models get painted during 2019…

In terms of smaller scale games, I’ve painted up some Van Saar gangers for Necromunda, and have started work on the Elucidian Starstriders, but this is where things get interesting, as I started looking back into fantasy after all these years, with the new iteration of Warhammer Underworlds.

It was a lot of fun, and it has led to getting myself into a very ghostly mess!

The Nighthaunt models are beautiful, but I’m also vacillating between Idoneth Deepkin and Chaos Beastmen in creating my first army for the new Age of Sigmar. It’s definitely going to be one of them, though I’ll most likely also be picking up some of these new grots models in time. I do enjoy squigs!

Finally, I’ve been working on some of the Chaos Cultists that I’ve had hanging about for years, inspired by the weird and wonderful underbelly of 40k that we got to glimpse in Blackstone Fortress!

This game was quite the boon to me, as it inspired not only the Cultists but also work on the Electro-Priests that had similarly been hanging about for years – all in all, then, it was very much well-received!

I wonder what 2019 will see for my hobby! Hopefully some of those models that I’ve built up over the last year will see themselves finished!!


I’ve definitely enjoyed my hobby time this year, but in order to make sure I stay focused during the coming year, I’ve drawn up a list of hobby resolutions as a lot of folks have been doing over on instagram:

There is a nice mix, I feel, between some of the more wide-ranging stuff with the Grey Knights and the Nighthaunt, and more focused goals for things like the Neophytes and Doomsday Ark. There is bound to be more that distracts me as the year goes on, of course – I’m looking forward to the Genestealer Cults getting their bikers, for sure! Whether Inquisitors come out for Kill Team is anyone’s guess, though I’m fairly positive I’ll go heavily into this one!

I’m going to be writing up my Hobby Progress blogs on the last day of each month as 2019 goes on, so it should keep me motivated to stay on track. Exciting times ahead, at any rate!!