Competitive thoughts

Hey everybody!
In yesterday’s hobby update blog, I mentioned the Deathwatch progress would be explored more in a post today, so ta-da! Time to talk about what I’ve been up to with the alien-hunting elite!

At the start of the year, my gaming buddy Kev suggested trying our collective hand at going to a doubles tournament this year, which sounded like a fun idea at first, though I had no real inclination just how competitive Kev could be! Sure, whenever we’ve played I’ve usually been demolished by his lists, but still! His main army is Deathwatch, though he started Grey Knights for Kill Team (it was against those models I had my first KT games, as Genestealer Cult – and got demolished), which he has now branched out into a more full-fledged army. Having so much Deathwatch of my own that I’d like to get moving with, we pretty quickly settled on a Deathwatch/Grey Knights combined army for this theoretical tournament.

The main issue I’m coming up against, of course, is that I’m just not that competitive! Kev knows Deathwatch inside out, and has been giving me a lot of tips and advice, but I keep feeling like I’m looking at an army choice that I wouldn’t necessarily like to field. I suppose it’s natural, going to a tournament, that you’d be looking at getting the best units in the army, but even so, I feel like I’m missing out on a lot of “my sort” of models, because they probably aren’t that competitive.

I last talked about the Deathwatch thoughts I had been having at the back end of December, with this list being the one I had settled upon:

Well, that has been through no less than five re-writes, and currently looks more like this:

 

I keep playing around with this, of course – in part because I want to fit in a Razorback with twin assault cannons for 116 points, now that I’ve bought the Inquisition rhino doors from Forge World! But I think this is where I’ll be concentrating my Deathwatch endeavours for the time being.

Army Make Up
The plan for this is the first group of six veterans will be used to camp objectives, and possible play bodyguard for the Watch Master if he decides to do anything out of the ordinary. Having a terminator in the list should hopefully act as a suitable deterrent, I’m thinking, too. The second group of five veterans will be used more for distraction/mid-field harassment, and will be equipped with hellfire rounds for more damage output. The final group of seven veterans will act more flexibly, moving around the field to position where they’re needed most. These and the first group will have kraken bolts in their weapons to increase their threat range.

The vanguard veterans will work alongside the watch captain to drop in where required. The variety of pistols will hopefully form a suitable threat level for them, as well as providing a decent distraction when they show up. Finally, the Dreadnought is in there for the stratagem, as well as added threat.

A few thoughts
I’ve never played Marines of any flavour before, being much more used (in recent times) to the Dark Eldar way of getting absolutely wrecked, so needing to swarm the field to ensure enough chaps survive to do anything. I’m used to big lists, even at 1000 points, so I was a bit surprised to find out how few units I would get in here if I went for a really optimised build. I like infantry, though, and I prefer to keep this as an actual miniatures game rather than having massive stuff in the army just because. Luckily, of course, Deathwatch don’t easily have access to such stuff. I’m staying away from Primaris, because I think all of the other Deathwatch stuff looks fantastic enough, and while I’ve not been able to fit my beloved Chaplain model in the list, there’s always time yet for that!

I’m almost constantly told that the frag cannon is king of the list, though at 25 points each, I’m always a bit wary. I’ve probably mentioned this in my Dark Eldar ramblings, but any time a weapon starts to cost more than the guy who wields it, I get a bit twitchy. Including so many instances of this in the army feels really quite wrong to me. But as I am often reminded in these situations – Marines have got a much better toughness and save characteristic than space elves, so I don’t really need to worry on that level.

I’m often caught up with how exciting Deathwatch Veterans seem on paper, and have until this current iteration of the list forgotten that I actually need five of the basic Veterans in a squad before I can start adding Terminators or any other fancy chaps. Oops! So that has been a learning curve. It also took the article series on frontline gaming to get me to realise that mixed teams of Veterans is usually not a good idea. True, I have seven veterans in this list who have mixed weapons, but there is a point to them, insofar as they’re intended to be a more flexible unit. By keeping all of the heavy weapons in one team, and the assault weapons in another, it helps to make the tactical use of these units easier.

I think this has been a big eye-opener for me, and in a way is linked with what I was talking about earlier. I might be disappointed that I can’t get “my sort” of units in the list, or whatever, but if it means the army works better as a result, then isn’t that the important thing here? We are talking about going to a competitive tournament, after all! There has got to be an expectation of winning, even if it might not be likely given that it’s a first for both of us!

Shenanigans
Deathwatch look beautiful, with some very unique models, considering they’re just a little bit fancier Space Marines. They’re also confusing as all hell to me though, because of the fancy ammunition they have, as well as the Chapter Tactics equivalent they get, Mission Tactics. Mission Tactics give you bonuses for going up against specific unit types, such as HQs or Troops, and while these two are probably guaranteed to be on the opposing side, picking a bonus to going up against Elites or Fast Attack might be more of a waste – hence the Watch Master’s ability to switch up the Tactic you’re using, so he’s very useful in the army.

Special Issue Ammunition is one of these things that has been needlessly getting me tied up in knots – it’s not actually that complicated, it just allows you to get a bonus on any attacks made by a bolt weapon in the squad. All members of the squad use the same fancy bullets, so it’s not even like there will be excessive book-keeping to do. It just feels like one of these things that might confuse me, though! It certainly has the potential, of course…

All in all, I think I’m enjoying getting some of these chaps painted, because the models really do look fantastic. However, I feel a bit like it’s incumbent upon me to get all of them painted up, and I have to get playing games with them to practice for the tournament, so I’m starting to feel less inclined towards them at the moment! I’ve got a lot of stuff on the go, after all, and I’m finding myself wanting to get going with that instead – Grey Knights, for instance, and I’m once more thinking about stuff like the Skitarii, or maybe Dark Angels.

This is starting to sound like a rant, isn’t it?!

Having had these minis since Overkill and Death Masque, I’m really excited about the prospect of finally getting to play with them and see what it’s like to wield that glorious 3+ armour save. It is a project that should look damn fine when it’s finished, I hope, and I’ll definitely be keeping you all posted along the way!

Hobby Goals check-in: January 2019

Hey everybody!
While it’s not technically the end of the month just yet, I have an impromptu day off today, so thought it would be nice to check in and see where I’m up to as regards the hobby progress for this month. My original list of goals didn’t have any kind of time period against each one – so I didn’t want to finish painting the Deathwatch models I have in January, for instance, but I thought it’d nevertheless be neat to see how things are going!

So then, for those of you who may have forgotten, here’s a reminder of what I’d like to accomplish in 2019:

Work out what I want to do with the Tau army, if anything
This one hasn’t been quite as difficult as I’d first thought it might be, as it happens. I’d been thinking about what I wanted to do, and at one point I did feel like just getting rid of the whole lot. I initially bought into Tau because, if I’m being honest with myself, I was growing impatient waiting for the Dark Eldar codex to arrive, and wanted to play a xenos army with a book of their own. Being a completely different sort of project for me, I attacked it with relish and bought thousands of units (well, a lot) in a short space of time, built most of it, and started playing. Problem number one, therefore, was the fact I was playing games with an army that I hadn’t painted, which is never really advisable because it means you rarely get round to actually painting them up. Which has been my problem ever since, as it happens!

I’ve got a lot of stuff built, most of it primed, but I still have plenty of stuff just in boxes, so for my first efforts here, I’ve decided to get rid of the boxed stuff. I’m then going to look at what I have left, draw up a list or two, and see what I think from there. I think I still want to keep some of the big suits, so I’ll be keeping hold of things like that second Riptide, and probably all of the Crisis Suits as well, but I’m considering getting rid of the second Commander (not sure yet). I’m also going to see if it’s worth it selling off a lot of the bits that I’ve been keeping a hold of. This hobby isn’t cheap, after all, and so I’m thinking it might be worth it to sell off things like the fusion blasters and whatnot, in an attempt to then finance armies that I do want!

So far, then, good progress has been made with trying to sort out the Tau!

Continue painting the Deathwatch models I have
This one ties in to another blog that will be making its appearance tomorrow, but suffice it to say that I feel like most of the New Year/early January period was spent writing and re-writing lists for the Deathwatch army, before then building up more veterans ready for painting. So I suppose progress hasn’t so much been made with this one, as reversed, because I now have almost twice as many Deathwatch models as I had this time last year!

But I’m chipping away at them, and hopefully soon there will be finished units that I can unveil here on the blog!

Continue to build up and paint the 1500-point Grey Knight list
This one has somewhat suffered for the last point, but in recent days, I do feel like I’m getting myself back on track as regards this project. I am definitely feeling Grey Knights at the moment, so I’m excited to get this show on the road! While I feel like I’m swamped in Deathwatch and Tau miniatures that are just sat there, primed and taunting me, I’ve not been quite so prodigious with the Grey Knights, having a Strike Squad built up and primed, but nothing else, meaning I can concentrate on painting the Purifiers and the Grand Master.

So far, I’ve been making some pretty decent progress, I think, so I’m really quite pleased to be going down this route for my new army for 2019!

On a side note, I’ve recently managed to pick up the pieces for the Doomglaive Dreadnought that has been discontinued by Forge World, so I’m hoping that will turn out to be okay! The weapons are coming from the US, and the main body from Germany, so I’m always a bit nervy of such things turning out well…

Anyway!

Paint some Nighthaunt and see what AoS is all about
Of all of my goals, I think this is the one that I have succeeded with the greatest. While I’ve not fully painted the entire list just yet, I’ve nevertheless managed to get quite a lot done – so they’re not just bare plastic – and have played a total of two games so far. To put that into perspective, I played seven games of 40k during 2018 altogether! So far, then, I think I’m doing quite well with playing games. How are the models looking?

Well, there is still quite a bit to be done, of course, and I do think that miniatures that have been primed white look just dreadful until they are actually fully painted. But overall, it’s good to be actually seeing an improvement with them on the whole, I feel!

I’m really pleased with how my AoS exploration has been going, as well, as it has gotten me excited for playing, which is making me want to paint more, which is nothing but a good thing!

Of course, I have been a bit guilty of running before I can crawl, and have been planning out all manner of different army projects of late. So for AoS in particular, I’ve been taking steps to reduce that significantly, and have decided to get rid of the Idoneth Deepkin models. I know that I’ve only recently been building army lists for them and everything, but I do feel that, of all the armies I’ve looked into so far, they’re just not doing it for me. The models look fantastic, don’t get me wrong. It’s just the way the army seems to want to play, I just can’t seem to get into it. So I’ve taken back what I can, and will be selling the rest off shortly.

This isn’t meant to be some kind of slow abandonment of fantasy, however. Rather than going wide, I’ve instead decided to go deep into the Death faction, and will be broadening my Nighthaunt into the Legions of Nagash at some point, giving me the perfect excuse I need to buy the big guy again! Both of my AoS games have been at the local store against the same guy, who is Chaos through-and-through, so I think it’s perhaps a better approach to just stick to one faction and really go into that.

So there we have it! Hopefully there will be more exciting updates for you all next month, when I hope to actually have some finished units to show off!

Army Plans

Hey everybody!
So yesterday, I was talking about some of my thoughts around some new army builds that I’ve had going round in my mind for the last few days. There have been a lot of such thoughts, so it’s been a busy process!

To begin, I want to talk about my plans for a Legions of Nagash army. This has pretty much evolved out of the desire to build up Arkhan the Black – I’ve loved this model since he came out, and have wanted to do something with it despite having bought and sold it twice! When I first had it, I was leaning towards Neferata, though now that I’m thinking more in terms of the rules and how I want the model to work within the wider context of an army, I think Arkhan would work well with the magic emphasis and so on.

Wanting the model to go alongside my existing Nighthaunt project, it seems like I need to go with Legions of Nagash and then ally the majority of the Nighthaunt in – luckily, everything from the Soul Wars box can be put into the army, so it’s not too much to faff about with.

legions of nagash

I love the Spirit Hosts, as well, so I wanted to use a lot of them – and luckily they’re already in the battletome, so no need for this allies stuff! I’m currently splitting the battleline units between the Chainrasps and the Skeleton Warriors, the usual battleline units for the undead.

I really enjoy the Legions of Nagash battletome, and I was quite impressed at the number of options available when first flicking through it. However, when it came time to actually go through the rules for everything, I felt a little bit underwhelmed. I’ve gone for the Legion of Sacrament because of the fact that Arkhan is in the list, but it was really surprisingly difficult to come up with the organisation of it all. I’ve given Arkhan the command trait Dark Acolyte, which basically allows him to know one more spell. Being a wizard, of course, he knows all of the spells of Death Wizards within 18″ of him, so he can also benefit from the Guardian of Souls, so I’ve gone for a couple of quite offensive spells to help keep the enemy at bay. Well, we’ll see!

I’m still going with the Nighthaunt for now, of course, but I’m really looking forward to adding some more skeletons to the ghosts in time! And maybe one day…

Nagash

Moving on!

Along with the ghosts, I’m wanting to get myself moving with the Idoneth Deepkin that I started building up late last year. Much like with planning the Legions of Nagash, I’ve been finding it quite difficult to come up with an actual army list. Some things really felt quite natural to go together, such as the Namarti Thralls along with the Soulrender. But it has proven quite difficult to get something more of a cohesive army that I would like to play with. I mean, I like the sorts of armies that have a lot of variety in the units – just look at the Legions of Nagash army above! – but the Deepkin feel like the sort of force that would quite happily be made up of massive amounts of the same sort of unit, be that Thralls or Guard.

I’ve chosen the Mor’phann Enclave, more because I like the colour scheme of blues and purples, but it also adds a buff to the Soulrender bringing Namarti models back. Again, I found it difficult to pick artefacts and command traits to ascribe to the units, so I have just gone a bit generic for the time being, while I build up the army and attempt to get some games in to try to get the hang of what they all want to do.

More so than any other Age of Sigmar army that I’ve come across so far, I feel the Deepkin might benefit from having allies within the force, especially Sylvaneth. Daughters of Khaine would be a wonderful excuse to start getting myself some snake ladies, of course, but I can see myself getting some Kurnoth Hunters sooner or later to pepper into the force.

It’s been really interesting to me, getting back into Age of Sigmar after all this time. If you remember, I was really into it back when the system first launched, despite so much negativity being leveled at it across the internet. Painting up a massive amount of Stormcast Eternals was quite a joy, now that I look back, though I never really got into the actual gaming side of things before 40k took over my life. I think this is in part due to the fact that the fantasy scene at my local GW is highly competitive, with most of the players regularly taking part in all manner of tournaments and whatnot. The opportunity to have small-scale games just for fun were very few and far between, and I would get quite nervous even thinking about playing. So I think it’s been really nice that I’ve been able to find at least a couple of people locally who are now getting into it all at the same time, and have smaller-scale, casual games where it’s not too dramatic as we’re only playing for the fun of it, and all that.

I suppose it’s an aspect of the hobby that I don’t always talk about, but I do get quite nervous when meeting new people to play games with, as I think part of me is concerned whether they’ll be taking it too seriously, and whether I’ll just annoy them with my casual attitude, etc. But I do tend to over-think some things like this!!

Going back to re-discovering the game, I think AoS 2.0 is a lot better than the first iteration of the game, just because of the depth gained from Allegiance Abilities and so forth. They’re basically Chapter Tactics for the fantasy world, of course, but I love the richness that we’ve gained from seeing these things, and while I have made a few comments up above about both Legions of Nagash and Idoneth Deepkin being a bit of a let-down in this regard, I do strongly feel this is more due to my lack of experience with both the game and each army, rather than any true reflection of things.

I’ve also been enjoying painting something different. 40k has been with me for so long now that I feel a bit of a release painting the ghosts, especially because they have such a fantastical feel to them. While of course there is always creative licence in these matters, I feel much more freedom when painting the fantasy minis to when I’m painting those for 40k. It’s been really quite fun so far, and I’m hoping that continues for a long time to come!

Sunday catch-up

Hey everybody!
It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve been here on my blog, so I thought it might be time to take a look at what I’ve been up to, and what I might have missed in the recent days!

So this is exciting then! I am a huge Ghostbusters fan, as I’ve mentioned here when my blog turned two in 2016. That same year, of course, we had the reboot movie come out, with an all-female cast, a movie that I didn’t feel the need to watch as it just felt all too unnecessary. I’m not trying to make a chauvinist point, though I suppose it does sound like it. It’s just a franchise that didn’t need a reboot.

I read an article recently on movieweb that talked about how the recent trend for modern sequels has become a thing, as opposed to the total reboot of a beloved film series, and if the rumourmill surrounding Ghostbusters 3 is anything at all to go by, we could have a success on the way next summer. There’s talk of a Stranger Things vibe, which I’ve not yet seen but heard good things about. Now, given that the world has moved on from 1980s-style kids-on-an-adventure, I guess it won’t quite be that way, but I’m looking forward to seeing how a modern sequel to these films would work. If there are enough call-backs to them, without trying to keep too much in that re-hash frame of mind.

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Starting 2019 in style!! #nowReading #GauntsGhosts

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I’ve been reading the fourth Gaunt’s Ghosts novel since New Year, and finally got round to finishing it the other day. It was a good read, though did feel a bit like a slog at times, given the storyline. Gaunt is forced to make a tactical error when rooting out some Chaos Cultists on Hagia, the homeworld of Saint Sabbat herself, and so is given a final task to evacuate the holy relics of Saint Sabbat before the world is overtaken by the Archenemy. It’s quite the slog into the hills to recover those relics, but there were some nice bits, and it’s always good to read about Chaos cults.

On the subject of books…

Remember back in December, I took a look a look at the first book in the Enforcer series, Crossfire? Well my fellow blogger wordaholicsanonymous has also published his own review of the book that we read as a buddy-read at the end of last year. I feel like he’s done a better review than me, and his copy looks like part of the Warhammer 40k Legends series, so has some extra fancy bits in it that my omnibus was missing, so if you’re interested in a different take, please go check out what he has to say!

Reading Azazel’s progress with the Balewind Vortex has reminded me that I was going to be painting up some terrain of my own this month! I’d decided to start work on one of the Promethium Reactors that I have, so I’ll start work on that shortly. At least it’s already built and primed! Hopefully I can start to make a dent in the massive amount of scenery I have waiting for some paint, anyway! With regard the Grand Master of my Grey Knights army, however, he’s been coming along quite well!

I’ve been struggling a bit to really get into painting stuff, though, but I continue building like there’s no tomorrow! I’ve been trying to get my Grey Knights and Deathwatch armies into positions where I feel like I could happily start playing them. It’s a bit more urgent with the latter, as I’m going to be entering a doubles tournament in the summer (with any luck!) alongside my mate Kev’s Grey Knights. I think I’ve been through about a dozen iterations of the army list, but finally have 1000 points built and ready to go!

It’s been a slightly different story with Age of Sigmar and my Nighthaunt, though, who had their second outing last Monday in a three-way match against Maggotkin of Nurgle and the Ironjawz!

To be fair, they didn’t do a great deal of anything, though it was an interesting game to see what everything could do. Definitely enjoying myself with fantasy right now, I must say. I’ve been excitedly thinking about plans for a Legions of Nagash army, incorporating one of my favourite models in the range, Arkhan the Black! Thinking back to such models as the Mortarchs, which came out back in the End Times, has also got me thinking about a Skaven plan when the new box set comes out, as I think steampunk rat-men could be quite a hilarious project! I’m sure I’ve got a Thanquol & Boneripper still knocking about somewhere from back in the day! I think it could also be time to dig my Deepkin out, as well!

So with all of this stuff, and the anticipated imminent arrival of the Genestealers, I feel like I’m going to have my hands full with a lot of projects on the go! I’m not yet convinced by Kill Team: Arena, which feels a little like it may not be the product for me, though I am excited to get my hands on the Primus Gunslinger model that’s coming in the next faction expansion for the game!

I’ll have a proper hobby catch-up at the end of the month, anyway, and see how I’m getting along against my hobby resolutions!

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!!

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Seeing the new year in with this #nowReading

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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!