August 2022 retrospective

Hey everybody,
Here we are at the end of August, and I’m surprised at how productive a month it has been for me in the hobby! I have spent a lot of time this month looking through my backlog of course, having started the month with a massive audit of all of my outstanding projects! I suppose that has been a major contributing factor for me being focused on getting some projects finished, as I was able to see just what, exactly, I have hanging about. I’ve also been playing a lot more than usual, too, with weekly games of 40k prompting me to really get painting these things up!

During the month, then, I was able to fully paint five full units of models, I was able to finish off an additional four units that were at a point, but not quite there. I have painted up a terrain piece, and finished off two further pieces of terrain. All in all, then, it was quite a successful month!

For the most part, I’ve been painting Sisters of Battle, getting five Celestians, five Retributors, plus the cherubs and Repentia Superior finished. That army has gone from zero to wonderful in the space of, what, two months? I think I have a total of seven full units painted up, which is kind of bonkers when you think up until the beginning of July, there was barely anything done for this army. I still have a couple more units that need finishing off, but hopefully I can get to them soon enough!

Having played a couple of games with the Sisters, and being utterly smashed in the face, I had shelved them while I continued to paint, but I think I would like to get back to learning that army. It’s true, I have devoted many words on the blog to how disappointed I was with their performance, but I do feel it’s something that I need to keep up and try to improve, so hopefully I’ll be able to get them back to the table soon.

Necrons have had some more love lavished upon them, also, and I’ve had two games with this army – successes, both! I still have a lot of work to do with actually getting the models how I’d like them, as a lot of them seem to have been painted up to a point, but they definitely need some more work to make the blue really shine. So far, I’ve gone back over 20 Immortals and 9 scarab bases to make them more vivid, and in a complete shock I was actually able to get 10 further Immortals painted up in just a weekend! So that was quite something!

My Necrons are, of course, my first love in 40k, and even if I hadn’t won both games, I think I would have still been excited to be playing them once more. I’ve got a fair bit of work ahead of me, of course, but I’m feeling positive that I can bring the rest of the army up to scratch in short order!

In the last few days, as well, I’ve been working on some Wyches for my Drukhari. If Necrons are my first love, then the dark kin are definitely second on the list. I have got so much for this army, it’s kinda scary, really. However, while I have plenty of Kabalite and Coven stuff, the Wych Cults have always been somehow lacking. I suppose I never really knew what I wanted to do with them, so far as paint schemes go, but after giving some thought to it all, I’ve been able to paint the first batch of 10 Wyches and get them finished off. Of course, I had painted up a squad back when I was starting the army in 2017, but I wasn’t hugely enamoured of the colour scheme – and indeed, a lot of the models in that unit have got the bare minimum of paint on them. So I’m going back over those, trying to make them look the part. I’ve also been working on the Succubus, because after checking her over the other day, she wasn’t finished, either! The Wych Cult models have definitely been the poor relations in this force so far.

As we move towards September, we get to one of my favourite times of the year. I’ve talked about this many times now, of course, but it was in the autumn that I first really got myself involved in this hobby, and I have an immense fondness for hobbying at this time of year. The nostalgia is strong, especially as I have been doing a lot with my Necrons again, and the Dark Eldar making a reappearance on the painting table!

There are a few Necrons units that need finishing off, really, and a lot of my Dark Eldar could do with a bit more work on them, as well. The bases in particular for the latter force are really very boring, predominantly just heaped with technical paint and nothing else. In painting the Wyches, I’ve been paying a bit more attention, and trying to make them look a bit more presentable, so I want to try and, slowly but surely, get the rest of my army done to that standard. I’ll probably just pick one unit at a time though, as I don’t want to get the whole lot out and be confronted with all of that!!

All of this threatens to overwhelm me a little bit, so I’m definitely trying to take things slowly and not get too much going on. It’s been great to play with my Necrons once more, of course, and it’s kinda nice right now that I seem to be getting some decent success with them. It’s never purely about winning, of course, but when a game goes well, even if I lose, I enjoy it so much more. Being able to see things play out and happen as close to as they should, it’s just a delight.

I said earlier in the month that I didn’t want to formally plan out what I intend to paint going forward, but looking at where we are now, and stuff, I think it won’t hurt to put a couple of things in place as sort of mini-goals for the rest of the year.

So let’s get some loose plans in place, and see where we get to, shall we?

10 Sisters Novitiates
4 Sisters Repentia
Penitent Engine

10 Lychguard (warscythes)
5 Lychguard (swords)
5 Tomb Blades
5 Immortals (gauss blasters)

Dark Eldar:
10 Wyches

That’s not too bad in terms of what I would like to see finished by the end of December. Of course, it assumes that I don’t get too distracted by anything, but I’m hopefully going to do well on this front, as I feel like I have been able to stay really focused so far, and able to finish a lot of stuff!

It really does help that I’ve not been buying many models – indeed, I don’t think I’ve picked anything up for a few months now. It’s actually been really great to work on the backlog of models, and see these things come to life, after having had them for a while. I’m not likely to have as much success as Dave over on Scent of a Gamer with getting everything finished anytime soon, of course! But it’s good to see things finally come together, all the same!

Can’t stop painting!

I seem to be on a bit of an unstoppable painting spree at the minute, it’s great! I’m finally making huge progress with my backlog, which is cause for celebration all-around, I’m sure you’ll agree!

To start with, I’ve finished the Retributors for my Sisters. As has been the case with pretty much every painted unit for my Sisters army so far, I’ve been able to get these all finished inside a week. I really don’t know where I’ve found this relentless drive from, but it’s enough that I have it!

Since the end of Wimbledon then, I’ve painted up quite a few models for my Sisters army!

Almost 30, in fact! The above photo doesn’t really do them justice, as they’re pretty cramped on the windowsill there, but it’s great to have got such a chunk of the army finished in the space of almost two months. I’m really hoping that I can keep up this pace, at any rate!!

It’s not just units for my many armies that I’ve finished, however! I started to paint these plasma conduits just over two years ago, and did a few of them before I just, well, stopped. So this perhaps isn’t a huge thing, but getting to finish off the box was really nice, and I’m hoping they’ll look awesome alongside the rest of my fully-painted terrain, once I finish painting the rest of it, of course!!

Can’t remember if I’ve already shared this here or not, but I’m so pleased with it that I thought I’d share it again! The first of my two Haemotrope Reactors!

And speaking of my completed terrain, I finished up the Galvanic Magnavent earlier in this month, too!

It’s just awesome to see all of this stuff come together!!

Lastly, I’ve returned to my beloved Dark Eldar, and I’m finally trying to make an effort with the Wyches – given that I’m making such good progress, I thought it just makes sense to try and leverage that, really!! Once I have this squad painted up, I’ll have the firm foundation of a fully-painted Realspace Raid, anyway!! I’m hoping to get some more of the Drukhari backlog painted as time goes on, too – I still need to juggle all the other projects that I have going on, of course, but hopefully I’ll still be able to get more Sisters painted as we start to move into autumn…

I love 40k (honestly!)

Hey everybody,
As you’re all probably aware if you’ve read my blog over the last month or so, I am on a real 40k hobby streak right now, getting loads of models from my backlog painted, and playing far more games than I have otherwise played all year! While I am loving the 40k life right now, I’m also starting to think a lot more about it and feeling a bit flummoxed at times by how dense 9th edition has become. I think in pretty much all of my recent games, we’ve been playing very much with the rules as they’re presented in the Codex and Rulebook, but there is a real wealth of other stuff out there to make games truly immersive.

Now, that’s the positive way of looking at things. The other side of the coin, of course, is that there’s just too much going on, and the rules are scattered over so many different books etc, that it’s nigh-on impossible to keep track of everything. The Warhammer Community website issued a “content validity” document in April which showed whether the content of supplemental books such as Psychic Awakening or the War Zone supplements were still to be considered valid for games of 40k, yet one of the more bonkers things about all of this is, while War Zone Charadon is deemed to be current and valid, you can no longer buy these books from Games Workshop. Which is a shame, as the Charadon book has got some truly amazing rules for the Drukhari Wych Cult.

Part of this is possibly due to the way that 40k is being organised into Seasons now. Every six months, we’re getting a change to the rules and a change to the official tournament mission pack. We’ve already had the Nachmund Season come and go, and we’re now in Nephilim, which has seen a fairly major change to the way command points work as well as providing a raft of new secondary objectives. These kinds of things are good, for sure, as changing secondary objectives across the board is a good way to balance the game and prevent some armies from running away with victory while others are struggling to scrabble round for maybe a couple of points per turn. Changing up the core objectives as well keeps things fresh, because a lot of games can feel quite same-y when you’re trying to score linebreaker, or slay the warlord each time. I’m terrible at deciding which to choose regardless, so tend always to fall back on the regulars – so maybe it’s just me!

The War Zone supplements have presented us with a real delight in terms of mission objectives though. There’s a mission in Charadon Book 2 that have impacts on aura abilities, visibility for shooting attacks, and you can force an enemy unit that fails morale to shoot itself. Octarius gave us Shadow Missions, allowing units deployed into reserves to actually do stuff while they are off the table, which is kinda fascinating really. It’s always great to get more options for what you can do in-game, but it does mean there’s another book on the table with yet more rules to keep track of during a game that is already fairly complex thanks to the number of Codex rules you have to keep a track of!

Whenever I read about the rumours of a 10th edition coming up, and they seem to be getting more steady lately, a lot of the comments tend towards the fact there are too many stratagems out there, and a not-insignificant number of them only actually apply to one unit, which almost begs the question of why they aren’t a unit ability on the datasheet. For example, the Canoptek Scarab Swarm self-destruction stratagem is only usable by Canoptek Scarab Swarms, so why is it a stratagem and not a unit ability? The argument, of course, is usually to do with balance, and by forcing you to pay for it, it helps to keep the model on a level.

The number of stratagems available to armies has grown significantly with the supplement books, as well, making things yet more complicated. The arguments for making unit-specific stratagems more like the Command Abilities in Age of Sigmar is quite strong, and keeping the actual number of stratagems down to maybe a half-dozen core stratagems, and a half-dozen army-specific ones. I do like the fact that there are things like Co-ordinated Engagement for Tau, which just specifies two friendly units and one enemy unit; having things that you can use across a number of different units in your army, depending on how the battle is going, is incredibly useful, and I think reflects the actual purpose behind stratagems in general, being moments of tactical planning that are based on the ebb and flow of the battle.

Having four (or more) pages of stratagems in your Codex, as well as the page of core stratagems in the Rulebook, as well as a page of stratagems for certain armies via the supplement expansions, just makes things go a bit crazy really. There are already a lot of things to keep track of, and I’ve lost count of the amount of “aw, I meant to do x” moments I’ve had. I’m not a professional 40k-player, it’s meant to be a fun game, but it does almost demand more dedication than you think, trying to keep so much straight in your head. Having the deck of cards does help, as I have found in recent games by laying the stratagem next to the unit I intend to use it on. However, I do find that there are some of these that I just never use, which is an interesting thought in itself. Are these stratagems, which pair up specific units (like Monoliths and Core infantry, for example) trying to dictate to us how to build an army? Or are they better off left as a special rule on the Monolith datasheet?

If we’re wishlisting for 10th edition, then, I think I would like the number of stratagems to go down, and units to get special abilities back. Command Abilities are something that could help with this balance, if an ability would potentially be too powerful when left as a kind of “always on” thing. I would like to see the number of supplements either slow down, or remain in print long enough to get them and play with them. I think terrain rules are also in need of some sort of overhaul, because they are in danger of becoming a bit too much as well. I’m all for environment and terrain rules, but they need to be much easier to manage during the course of a game. Terrain features with upwards of six keywords can become unwieldy during the game, as they slow things down while you try to remember how they all work.

I suppose a lot of this does boil down somewhat to the fact 40k is currently a weird amalgam of a sandbox-style game, with the design team giving us rules to cover all sorts of things to make games fun, fresh and exciting, but also trying to keep stuff balanced for the tournament folks. I’ve seen a lot of comments around the 10th edition rumours from people who are saying that GW should stop getting tournament meta-chasers to playtest the game, which does make some sense, really. The game is ultimately what you make of it, though, and there is plenty to enjoy about 9th edition, regardless of what this post might make you think I believe! Hopefully when the inevitable 10th edition does roll around, we’ll be able to enjoy it for a long time with no pandemics getting in the way, anyway.

Doom in the Jungle!

We’re back, folks! Yes, it’s only been a few short months since I left Ursula Downs and Lily Chen in the Mexican jungle, but I am finally getting back to The Forgotten Age campaign.

The City of Archives

Arkham Horror LCG

So, following on from the Heart of the Elders, I knew we would be in for some weirdness as we had been abducted by alien Yithians at the end of that scenario. Well, for this one the investigators are basically Yithians themselves for the duration! Our minds have been transplanted and we’re wandering around the archives with Yithians observing our behaviour in their never-ending thirst for knowledge. Somewhat based on The Shadow Out of Time, having a knowledge of that tale did give me something of an idea for what I would be in for, although I do still feel fairly adrift at the minute with the campaign, not knowing where I am headed etc!

The scenario is definitely interesting, giving us the Yithian investigator cards for the duration. To begin with, we cannot use any Item assets as we basically don’t understand how our new Yithian bodies work. Then, we can use items but we’re still stuck in these bodies, and our hand size is reduced as a result. There are cards that will discard from our decks, making us approach the brink all the quicker, and this becomes especially important near the end, as we need to be able to draw up to a hand of 10 or more cards to advance the final act of the scenario. Throughout, however, it’s interesting how the enemies are Aloof and leaving us be, and the main threat comes from the slew of encounter cards we’re drawing.

We also need to complete six tasks, which influences how well we will complete the scenario. I was able to complete four of them, all with Ursula Downs, though at the last minute, Ursula took too much horror and was eliminated! It worked out well for me, though, because she had the most cards to draw – Lily already had a few cards in hand, so was able to get to 10 without any major problems and so could advance the act without her buddy in arms.

At the end, we are able to restore our minds to our bodies, but Alejandro is nowhere to be seen – the dastardly villain! I was able to get 7 experience points, so have taken the time to upgrade both decks for the final two scenarios. I already have 11 points left from the last two scenarios, so I definitely need to spend some of this! Though I’m toying with the idea of throwing in a side quest, almost as a “we need to take some time out after all that outer body experience!” but thematically it doesn’t really fit, as my investigative duo are in the middle of getting to this Nexus…

The Depths of Yoth

Arkham Horror LCG

This one was a very peculiar scenario, but the more that I think about it, the more I think I really liked it! There’s only one Act card, and basically you are forced to repeat the same action over and over again – collect three clues per investigator, advance the Act deck, add a depth counter to the scenario card, then reset and go again. When you get to five depth counters, you’ve gone down far enough and you can reach the resolution. Obviously, there are nasty things in the encounter deck, some of them are particularly nasty and you can see how they are designed purely to wear down the investigators. It’s an interesting take on the usual type of scenario like this, where you’re having to get to a set point, but instead of discovering a specific location at a specific point in the game, as we’ve seen with other scenarios where the location is put in by the act or agenda deck (or is the reverse of one of those cards), here we’re almost wandering aimlessly through the caverns, trying to find the Nexus.

Of course, I didn’t bring any torches with me, so I guess it could be different if you chose different supplies at the start of this journey!

It was interesting, to me, because it’s a definite race against the Agenda deck, which is quite big this time around. All of that Vengeance and Yig’s Fury comes into play here, as it decides how far into the Agenda deck you begin. There is an actual Yig ancient one card involved here too, but fortunately I was able to get to the fifth depth counter before he appeared.

Shattered Aeons

Arkham Horror LCG

The finale is here, and it’s another interesting scenario. We’re at the Nexus, and almost for the whole scenario, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was trying to do. At one point, I had the option to join forces with Alejandro but, thinking back to my experiences with how he sold us out to the Yithians, I didn’t want to end the world just yet. It felt a bit like each time I was able to advance the Act deck, the goalposts shifted, and I had to do something different. However, the final stage became pretty much a race through time and space as Ursula strove to explore as many ‘shattered’ locations while Lily went around beating up cultists, and we were able to do pretty well to mend the tear in the fabric of time, and win the campaign!

Any scenario that uses the Dark Cult and Ancient Evils decks together is a winner in my book, and basically this final game was an exercise in stopping Cultists from winning, classic Lovecraft for sure. I was a bit surprised when we didn’t end up going to a specific other world, but instead there are locations such as Yuggoth, or the shores of Ry’leh. It fits with the theme of a tear in the fabric of time, or reality, or whatever, but up to now I suppose I have been somewhat expecting the finale to see us travel to an outer realm.

I do like Central America as a location, and it does evoke that kind of Indiana Jones vibe by having us exploring hidden temples and forgotten ruins in the Mesoamerican jungle. The surprise, for me, was how we ended up going back to Arkham for a few scenarios as well, but I suppose it is the name of the game! It’s definitely been a wild ride, this time around!

Now, I’m not sure why The Forgotten Age is seen as a bad campaign. I enjoyed myself, even if I did find some elements difficult, or I was unsure what I was supposed to be aiming for. I suppose it all adds an element of mystery that I think is probably what this game is all about – you shouldn’t know what to do from the off, and decisions like whether to join with Alejandro were based on my experiences with him in-game, rather than from any other reason. It all helps to tell a story that I think is really interesting – I may not have trusted Alejandro at first, but I thought it was important to keep him on side. When he betrayed us, it felt real, somehow!

I think the investigator team I took with me this time, Ursula Downs and Lily Chen, really worked well for me. Ursula is built for investigation, and I was able to assemble a really good deck around her over the course of the campaign. I think it really shows how quickly she was able to explore those locations and just win, in the end. What a beast! Lily was a different kettle of fish, I think the whole she’s-a-mystic-no-she’s-a-guardian thing was a bit weird, and made deckbuilding for her a bit awkward at times, as there were Mystic cards I would have loved to upgrade her into, but couldn’t. I’m sure I missed some auto-include cards, as well, but I ended up with quite a beefy deck which, in a scenario like Depths of Yoth which is mainly throwing treachery cards out, she didn’t have a lot to do. I feel as though she needs some specific cards that are right for her, whether that’s more multi-class cards that she’s allowed to level into, or something more bespoke still. It’s definitely an interesting character design, but while she is one of my favourites from the Arkham Files, I don’t see myself playing with her again in a hurry.

On that note, however, I suppose it’s time to give some thought as to what to go for next! Now, I am leaning very heavily into the Edge of the Earth campaign, as I’m excited to see what that has in store for us. The Scarlet Keys is due out in about a month’s time, though, so I could give myself a break from Arkham maybe, and try that one when it’s fresh? I have a Trish Scarborough deck still built from ages ago, though, and I’m kinda keen to get that to the table for a game, so I might have a think and see how much the urge to play is there. I might well start on another campaign in the coming days, anyway!

The Great Prequel Re-Read, part five

We’re deep into the heart of the Clone Wars now, and we’ve got some of my favourite issues from the Republic ongoing series contained within these pages. Let’s get cracking!

Star Wars: Clone Wars

Volume Four: Light and Dark presents the story of Quinlan Vos’ defection to the Confederacy. We start off with Double Blind (though it isn’t defined as such in the trade paperback), which sees Agen Kolar attempt to bring Quinlan in for questioning, as he has been found selling Republic holocomm codes to the Separatists. It’s all a ruse, as Tholme’s plan was to send Kolar as proof of the fact Quinlan has gone rogue. The Jedi do capture Khaleen, however, who Tholme later releases from prison to act as a go-between for Quinlan to get any Separatist intel back to the Jedi.

Jedi: Aayla Secura is the third of these one-shots, and personally my favourite. We have the main story of Aayla, Tholme, Kit Fisto, T’ra Saa and the Dark Woman (whose name we finally learn) sent undercover to Devaron to learn who has been betraying the government to the Separatists, layered onto that is the ongoing story of Aurra Sing and her vendetta against the Dark Woman, layered over which is Aayla’s anguish over Quinlan’s defection and her determination to bring him back. It’s a truly cracking story, and serves to move the storyline on in so many ways!

Jedi: Dooku was a surprise back in the day – I thought we’d get a different Jedi, but throughout the Clone Wars, Dooku is the suave public face of the Confederacy, of course, and so naturally he never “comes out” as Darth Tyranus. The one-shot serves really as a focal point for Quinlan Vos, however, who is forced to finally choose a side and, when Dooku takes him to Kiffu and confronts Sheyf Tinté about her rise to power, we learn that she basically killed Quin’s parents by giving their lives in payment for Anzati assassins clearing the way for her to become Sheyf. Quinlan kills his aunt, and it seems that he has truly fallen to the Dark Side.

The book ends with Striking from the Shadows, where Quinlan is given the task of assassinating a Republic dignitary who Dooku hints is the Sith Lord he told Obi-Wan about, and the art hints that he is indeed given Palpatine as a target, though it ends up being Senator Viento. K’kruhk fights Quinlan but is unable to stop the murder, and so the Whiphid reports back to the Council, hammering another nail in. For his part, however, Quinlan tells himself that he’s only deeper in the shadows.

The whole book is just excellent, and has got some of the best storytelling from this era. For comic book stories, they are actually quite intense, and that Dooku one-shot in particular is really quite harrowing as we see Quinlan torturing the truth from Tinté. Definitely some awesome storytelling, for sure!

Star Wars: Clone Wars

I’m skipping volume five, which continues the Obi-Wan and Asajj Ventress storyline from the Jabiim volume, and moving straight on to volume six, On the Fields of Battle. There are two main story arcs in here, plus a one-shot that are worth talking about. We start with Show of Force, which is a two-part story about Mace confronting the Crimson Nova chapter of the Bounty Hunters Guild, for having accepted bounty postings on Jedi. Mace confronts the chapter with Agen Kolar, Saesee Tiin, and Kit Fisto, which kinda foreshadows his later confrontation with the Chancellor in episode three. The Jedi basically dismantle the chapter, and learn that Kh’ariss Fenn is the one behind the postings. However, he has used money that had been given to him by Count Dooku for the Separatists plans for Ryloth, so Dooku sends Quinlan Vos to kill him. Mace and the others arrive to find the corpse and a holo-recording, which troubles Mace even further. Tholme, feeling anguish for basically setting it all in motion, tells Aayla the truth about Quin’s defection being intended at first to be a ruse.

Show of Force was written to replace a planned one-shot Jedi issue featuring Barriss Offee, which is partly why the story begins with Barriss and T’ra Saa being attacked by bounty hunters.

The one-shot Armor is told from the perspective of Commander Bly as he observes his general, Aayla Secura, in the field. The devastation of Honoghr is the backdrop for the tale, something I thought was a bit unnecessary really, given that the story that we were told in Dark Force Rising seemed to indicate a different scenario. There is also the description of Rakata temples on the planet, which was weird. Aayla faces off against Quin, anyway, and is able to make him see sense, at least partially, and while they duel, he stops short of actually harming her.

The book ends with Dreadnoughts of Rendili, a truly sprawling epic in three parts. While Obi-Wan investigates a wrecked zoological ship, he finds Quinlan Vos fighting for his life against attack droids. It becomes clear that Asajj Ventress has been sent to bring him in after Quinlan has gone rogue from Dooku’s camp, but he and Obi-Wan manage to escape. They join Saesee Tiin’s battleforce at Rendili, where the Separatists have convinced the planet to leave the Republic. We meet up again with Jace Dallin from The Stark Hyperspace War, and are introduced to Jan Dodonna as a member of the Republic navy. The Rendili mutiny is defeated when Obi-Wan and Quinlan are able to help Plo Koon overcome the ringleaders and bring Rendili back over to the Republic, then Quinlan is taken to Coruscant for questioning. He explains his actions, and Obi-Wan vouches for him with some very common sense – if Tholme’s plan was for Quinlan to act like a renegade to earn Dooku’s trust, then why is anyone surprised that he has acted like a renegade?! His welcome is undercut by Anakin fighting Ventress high above Coruscant’s industrial sector, where he binds her in electrical cables and Force-pushes her off the top of a building, after she gives him that scar over his eye. The book ends with Quinlan getting a message to Khaleen – “tell Dooku that his plan is working”…

These two volumes are two of my favourites from the whole Dark Horse run. True, we do get that kind of ugly leer on Quin’s face that Jan Duursema seems to have become fond of – she would use it time and again on the face of Cade Skywalker during the Legacy series, as well. But the way the story of Quinlan Vos unfolds in these books is just spectacular. There are wheels within wheels, and it’s really awesome that we get this sort of spy/thriller storyline going on for the clone wars, as it tells a fascinating tale beyond the usual ground or space battles. Of course, Dreadnoughts of Rendili shows that space battles are not forgotten, and despite only being told across three issues, there is so much story in that one. With so many callbacks and references, it provides the reader with some really incredible payoffs for having stuck with the ongoing series since Prelude to Rebellion!

One of the things that I love about these comic books is the way in which the stories are able to reach back across the whole of the Republic run, to pluck characters like Dark Woman back from much earlier in the series and continue her storyline, weaving those elements into the clone war narrative alongside the “main” story of Quinlan Vos. When Kh’ariss Fenn was revealed to be behind the bounty postings, it was a mystery reveal that didn’t make the galaxy feel small, but rather made sense given what happened in Rite of Passage.

Having this large cast from which to draw really helps to make the stories flow, and feel part of a much larger story without making the galaxy too narrow in focus. Something that I often berate the Clone Wars cartoon series over was how much Anakin and Obi-Wan feature, with too small a supporting cast that makes the series as a whole feel very small. It really needed to feature the dynamic duo only 2-3 times a season, and use recurring characters to tell some of the stories to help achieve the galactic scope. By using characters like Jiesel, K’kruhk and T’ra Saa as recurring every so often, the comics achieved that sense of scale. Aayla is used for some of the big moments, but otherwise we have Quinlan doing one very specific, very linear thing, and it just works so much better.

We’re not done yet, of course, but next we have some very peculiar, very brilliant stories to come. Next up, then, it’s Hero of Cartao!

Star Wars: Shatterpoint

Well folks, I finally made it through the first official Clone Wars novel, Shatterpoint. What a book!

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Mace Windu heads to his homeworld of Haruun Kal on a rescue mission with a difference. His former padawan and fellow Council member Depa Billaba appears to have “gone native” with the local partisan groups trying to eradicate the off world prospectors, and Mace fears that she may have fallen to the Dark Side. He teams up with Nick Rostu as he is led through the jungle to Depa and the Koruun natives, led by the powerful, untrained Force user Kar Vastor. All Koruunai are able to feel the Force, but Kar embodies the natural power of the jungle itself, and he does not want Mace to take Depa from them. When the offworlders, backed by the Separatists, lead a massive attack against the natives, Mace is forced to work alongside Kar and the others; however, when the Koruunai and Depa turn the tables and use the Separatist droids to annihilate the offworlder settlements, Mace is forced to switch sides in his attempt to stop the fighting.

This book has been well-publicised as the Star Wars equivalent to Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now, and the depictions of war as a living nightmare are particularly graphic, to say the least. There are descriptions of wounds and displaced persons, the fallout of battles and the legacy of generational racism that all serve to underscore the serious tone of the novel. Some of this is counterbalanced by Nick and his sometimes forced levity, though it doesn’t take a genius to see how it’s perhaps a coping mechanism for the life he has led.

We definitely get the gritty, realistic feel of a war story here. It’s interesting because it’s not really Star Wars, that kind of tone, is it? A story that essentially tells the harrowing aftermath of a warzone that has almost been forgotten by the overall conflict, and left to let the natives carry on their eternal struggle is quite bleak, to say the least. The sounds and smells are described at length, and Haruun Kal is definitely not going to be high on anyone’s list of destinations to visit. A very interesting moment occurs as Mace arrives on-world and is the target of mistrust based on his race, which is a very different way of portraying the legendary Jedi Master.

One of the things I like a lot about this book comes from just two pages near the start, where we get an update on the galactic war position. We learn what has happened since Geonosis, how the Separatists have castled up in their “Forge of the Confederacy” heartlands, while the Jedi, under the guidance of Yoda, have primarily been engaged in destabilising the governments on those worlds, trying to bring systems back into the Republic or, at the very least, trying to cause a chaos that will prevent the Separatists from making use of the fact that they were prepared for the war to begin. All of this is happening while the Republic war machine attempts to catch up with the Separatists droid factories. With so few clones to rely on, the Republic needs to call on local peacekeepers and volunteers, meaning that there are very few actual engagements in the early months of the clone wars, merely skirmishes and an extension of the kind of border disputes Dooku took advantage of in the first place. It’s so satisfying to see a bigger picture here, as it’s something that we usually lack in these stories, as they seek to tell the story of a one-on-one fight without widening the focus to the larger brawl. Context is key – something that Star Wars writers have increasingly failed to understand, especially in the sequel trilogy!!

Much later on, there is also a very interesting comment from Depa Billaba as regards the war destroying the Jedi. Of course, in hindsight, given what we as readers know of the overall Star Wars plot, this is very true. The war was engineered to destroy as many Jedi as possible. But it’s interesting to see Depa comment how, no matter which side wins, the Jedi will lose, and she’s kinda dismissed by Mace as her jungle madness, or whatever.

However, this isn’t really one of my favourite Star Wars novels. The message is driven home pretty hard, and we end up with a fairly heavy-going book that kinda isn’t fun, for the most part. The interesting thing, to me, is how a lot of the prequel stuff, and especially the Clone Wars stuff, was written during the second Iraq War, which didn’t really click for me at the time, but looking at this now, it does come through.

For all the branding of being “a Clone Wars novel”, and being the first book in a publishing program that intended to tell the Clone Wars story in real time between 2002-05, the book is predominantly the story of the Koruunai partisans vs the offworld prospectors. Yes, the Separatists backed the offworlders, and yes, we get clones and droid star fighters at the climax, but in the main, this doesn’t feel like it’s telling a Clone Wars story. It sometimes doesn’t even feel like a Star Wars story…

I know a lot of people love this book, but for me, it’s probably going to be another 20 years before I think of picking it up again…


Hey everybody,
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of “stock taking” of my various miniatures that are in all manner of shapes, and one of those armies that I keep coming back to is the Deathwatch. It was something I was incredibly excited for when the models first came out; I invested heavily in boxes of the new marines, then a battleforce at Christmas, but I ended up in the usual position of being swamped, and so they went into a box for a very long time. I think part of my disillusionment with the project was how I found myself being swayed by the meta, and building marines “because they’ll be powerful in the game” and not “because they’ll look awesome”.

Let’s delve back into the mists of time…

In 2016, we were in the heady days of 7th edition 40k. Out of the blue, Deathwatch: Overkill came out in February, and gave us two completely new armies for the game, the Deathwatch and the Genestealer Cults. It was very much a board game, almost in the similar vein to Space Hulk, and pitted a specific Deathwatch kill team against an unstoppable horde of Genestealer Cultists. Kill Team Cassius was a varied mix of marines, including a biker and a terminator among their number, as well as a librarian and the chaplain himself, Ortan Cassius. While they were monopose models, they were rather magnificent, and paved the way for more in the summer.

Death Masque was a battle box that launched the main line of Deathwatch miniatures, pitching them against the Harlequins. In this box, we had a Venerable Dreadnought, a squad of Vanguard Veterans, a squad of the new Deathwatch marines, and the Watch Captain Artemis model. Artemis was originally a model produced for the Inquisitor game, so was reimagined for 28mm scale in a pretty stunning mini. In addition, we had Deathwatch upgrades for a variety of Space Marine kits, like Terminators and Bikes, along with a couple of new kits, like the Watch Master and Corvus Blackstar flyer. In terms of actual Deathwatch kits, then, we have a grand total of just five – the two HQs, the flyer, the marines and the Kill Team Cassius set. But that didn’t stop there being a full-blown codex for them in both 7th and 8th editions! For 9th edition, however, they have gone down the route of a Codex Supplement, meaning that you also need to buy the Space Marines book to get the full set of rules for the army. It’s a move that I have not been impressed by, and I think it’s one of the reasons why I’ve not been that into them for a long time.

Another reason for this apathy, I suppose, is that I rarely play games against xenos armies. The whole Deathwatch schtick is that they are xenos killers, and their “chapter tactic” allows them to re-roll hit rolls of 1 in melee against xenos (and re-roll wound rolls of 1 against a specific battlefield role). A lot of the army rules have moved away somewhat from this kind of specificity, much like Grey Knights have lost a lot of their daemon-specific rules, in an effort to make them more rounded as an army that can fight anything.

Deathwatch Veterans can take a bewildering array of weaponry, reflecting the fact they are basically Sternguard Veterans drawn from across the many chapters of Space Marines in the Imperium. The basic troops, Veterans can swap out their wargear for close combat or heavy weapons across the entire five-man team, meaning you could have a squad of five basic troops, four of whom are carrying heavy bolters, or the Deathwatch Infernus heavy bolter (a heavy bolter strapped to a heavy flamer). The fact that the basic load-out of boltgun and power sword also comes with four different kinds of special issue ammunition that you can choose to load into it before shooting begins really adds an extra layer to the whole, as well!

In my ruminations on my army, I’ve discovered that I have just over 1500 points of Deathwatch built, although with four HQ options I can’t field them all in a single force. That said, they aren’t really equipped as I would like them to be, so I have had to start looking at ways to better-organise the force. While mixed kill teams is very thematic for the army, in terms of practical gameplay, it isn’t exactly the best for keeping track of everything that’s going on! So I have been trying to find ways of altering the load-outs, swapping marines around, so that they are a bit more coherent across the force.

I’m not looking for a big game to start with, because I would like to keep things as straightforward as possible. That said, there is often the problem of having a small-scale battle that is also interesting to fight, so I’ve gone for a list that is closer to the 800 points mark. My regular opponent JP has roughly 800 points of Necrons as well, so at some point we’ll look into getting a game with these armies!

In this sense, then, I have come up with the following build.

As you can see, it’s literally a basic battalion with two leaders and three troop squads. Each squad has got some special weapons, but primarily the focus is having some fancy guys with a baseline of basic guys. The two kill team squads have a base of the boltgun/power sword guys, on top of which I have layered some assault weapons in one, and the other kinda has the remnants of what I have built to date!

The Proteus Kill Team includes the fancy terminator that I added into the army after seeing one of the Deathwing conversions in the codex. It looks beautiful, but it becomes a bit of a problem when trying to squeeze things around! Proteus kill teams can include terminators, vanguard veterans and bikers, so they are quite exciting, though they need to have a minimum of five Veterans in there anyway. It all just gets a bit of a faff, somehow, making sure I have the right ratio of models. They all have heavy weapons, although the sergeant has the combi-plasma in there as well.

The army is going to be led by Watch Captain Artemis. He has some good defensive rules, as well as providing a number of buffs to nearby units thanks to his warlord trait. I’m thinking that he will be moving around the field of battle, with one or two of the kill teams in his wake, shooting things up and generally doing what needs to be done.

Chaplain Cassius is not only a beautiful model, but he also looks like he might be quite useful, and comes in under 100 points which is always nice! He has a fairly decent statline, but I think I’m primarily going to be using him to support other squads nearby. His litany gives +1 to hit for shooting units within 6”, so I think I might use him near to the Proteus kill team, as they all have heavy weapons so it would be nice to get some of that meaty damage through; I always feel it’s better to have a to-hit bonus to give the maximum dice for potential wounds, rather than only getting a couple of hits through and being able to buff those after the fact, if that makes sense?

All in all, it seems like it might be a bit of a boring force to play, given that there’s not a lot of variety of units. However, there is a lot going on with their myriad rules that I think this is well more than it perhaps seems on paper. There seems to be a lot of buffs going around, and a couple of useful stratagems are available both from the Deathwatch side as well as the Space Marines book. It should be interesting, I think, anyway!

40k success at last!

Hey everybody,
I am pleased to report that I have had some 40k success, at last! I played my Necrons against JP and his Imperial Fists, using the list that I mentioned in this blog, and despite again not getting the first turn, I was able to survive long enough to deal out a lot of damage across the three rounds that the game lasted. Reanimation Protocols are quite hilarious, aren’t they?

For the first round, my Necrons proved to be remarkably resilient in the face of the Primaris firepower coming my way, and early on JP seemed to realise that he wasn’t going to be able to get away with simply wiping units from the board. I had one unit of Immortals that he must have effectively killed at least twice, but because he wasn’t able to clear the unit each time he shot at them, they just kept coming back. In the first round, I had only lost four models – even by the end of the battle, I think I had only lost one full unit.

In my first turn, I was shockingly able to just obliterate his warlord with my Tomb Blades, which was slightly upsetting because it meant I had jumped my warlord plus 5 Lychguard into his backline for no reason. However, being able to turn off some of the many, many buffs the army was receiving as a result of that was very useful. The Canoptek Wraiths were a good unit for close combat, but I was very impressed with the sword-and-board Lychguard in that they were able to clean up both the Aggressors and the ten-man Intercessors. The actual amount of damage coming from the big blobs of troops wasn’t as impressive as perhaps it could have been, but I think part of that may have been the fact I was losing track of some rules that would have allowed for additional AP and the like.

Having the card deck for Necrons was definitely a help for me, as it meant I was able to just go through and lay out each one that I thought I could use next to the units as my turn went on, making sure I didn’t forget my stratagems (which is often a sticking point). I think I actually ran through pretty much all of my command points during the game, which is definitely new! However, I forgot to prepare my turn like that on the second and third rounds, so there were definitely some things I could have done, but forgot. I think I might make a list next time, and try to organise the key stratagems I know I will use by phase or something.

All in all, I think we ended at round three with the score a firm 39-10 to me, so that was very good. I never like to be smug with friends, or anything, but I think my Reanimation Protocols were really offending JP and causing him to mis-play at times, but using the Veil of Darkness to jump my Catacomb Command Barge to the opposite side of the board to his Redemptor Dreadnought, perhaps the only model that has the massive gun that could deal it some crippling damage, really helped me. As it turned out, he was having to fire that ridiculous plasma thing at my Immortals, which is an incredible waste of such firepower, but on my part it becomes a very useful strategy to place units like that. Frustrate the enemy, and so on!

I wouldn’t say that my list interlocked perfectly the way the Imperial Fists does, but there are some very definite good effects taking place where I was able to feel quite pleased with how things were going!

For our next game, I’m planning to swap out the sword-and-board Lychguard in exchange for making one big ten-man warscythe unit. Those Lychguard didn’t do anything during the battle, unfortunately, and I just know they are able to do well (at least, on paper they are!) so I’m hoping to see what they can do! Having used the Veil this time, I think I might change things up a little, because he might be expecting that again. I could either keep it, but not use it on my first turn, or else go for something else. The Voltaic Staff has a nice tesla-like ability, and I have actually been considering using a Resurrection Orb for the first time ever – one-use things like that, especially for the points, have never really appealed to me, but given how Reanimation Protocols work now, it could prove to be really powerful where there is only one model left. Especially if I’m keeping the Lychguard close to the Command Barge – granted, they are 2-wound models, so not necessarily the best targets, but being able to try to bring back the entire squad rather than just the one or two who had been destroyed that round would potentially make the points back no problem.

I’m still kinda fighting the fact that there are new models from the updated range, which I’m just not that interested in using for the time being. I have plenty of stuff from my army that needs some attention, though, so don’t want to start going too crazy just yet and adding to my painting load.

However, speaking of adding to the painting load, I have started to paint some of the massive amounts of terrain that I’ve had hanging about in that box forever! Realising that I still have some primer sprays from GW, I’ve primed the munitorum armoured containers, and the Haemotrope Reactors, one of which I then painted up over the course of my children’s naptime yesterday afternoon! I’m actually really pleased with how it has come out, and I’m planning to get the other one painted up as soon as possible, as well. Of course, I am mindful that I should be painting models for my armies, but I suppose it makes sense to strike while the inspiration is there!

Hopefully the containers will be a quick case of drybrushing the whole thing, then picking out some skulls, and leave it at that. I don’t really want to go to town on them, as terrain should blend into the background of course. The Reactors are a bit different, as I’d like them to stand out on a game board and look pretty impressive!

Musings and Opinions on Terrain

Hey everybody,
Most of you fine folks who regularly read this blog will undoubtedly know how much I like the Warhammer 40k universe. While the current edition of the game does feel a little bit weird for reasons I hope to explore in an upcoming blog, I nevertheless enjoy playing games and seeing game boards set up with the “official” Games Workshop terrain.

Sector Mechanicus terrain in particular is just great, especially when you have a lot of it together. I’ve recently finished painting my second such terrain piece, the Galvanic Magnavent, and it looks great, even if I say so myself! The kits are all fantastic, and they can be used quite interchangeably to make some truly magnificent game boards to fight over.

But as of the time I’m writing this, barely any of these kits are available.

What’s going on?!

Let’s go back to the heady days of 2017, when Shadow War Armageddon was released as what many people thought was an attempt to update Necromunda, though the result was closer to Kill Team. The box came out with brand new, multi-level terrain, and it was gone within seconds of pre-order. The terrain included was roughly equivalent to a Ferratonic Incinerator and an Alchomite Stack, though with additional walkways. The box set was followed up in short order by five big kits, each of which brought something slightly different to the table, and could be combined in multiple ways to create some truly mind-boggling displays!

The Alchomite Stack was simply a set of chimney-like structures, ostensibly two, but you could create as many or as few as you like.

The Ferratonic Furnace was a big canister piece with a walkway on top.

The Ferratonic Incinerator was an enlarged Furnace, with some more walkways and the infamous skull-crane thing.

The Galvanic Magnavent was a large structure, with a lot of walkways and a central, slimmer canister piece that linked to a huge chimney piece.

The Promethium Forge was another large piece, with more presence than the Magnavent.

There were of course the special boxes that were released for Christmas or whatever, such as the Promethium Refinery that combined several kits (the Promethium Forge and Ferratonic Furnace, with more walkways from the Forge and elements from the Alchomite Stack). Then a secondary wave of kits was released, which were less structures and more battlefield decoration, almost.

The Haemotrope Reactors were immense terrain pieces that basically serve to block line of sight.

The Thermic Plasma Conduits replaced the Promethium Relay Pipes as the de-facto pipe network that provides an element of running cover for game boards.

Galvanic Servohaulers were a trio of vehicles that essentially serve as scatter terrain.

Thermic Plasma Regulators are a pair of smaller structures, a bit like the Reactors in that they are line of sight blockers, but they also have platforms allowing you to link them to the main range.

Finally, and separately, when the Knights Codex came out, they had a Sacristan Forgeshrine, which was like a mini Promethium Forge with some added bits and pieces. In a similar move, the Genestealer Cults had a Tectonic Fragdrill which was compatible with the Mechanicus range.

Seventh Edition was a crazy time, and most of these kits came out with rules for them. Some scenery pieces granted better cover, or allowed you to re-roll 1s for cover saves. Some made your plasma or flamer weaponry better if you were close by. Some were volatile, and could potentially damage models nearby. It was slightly bonkers, but I loved it. When Eighth Edition sought to initially streamline things, the rules for shooting at models within a certain distance of these terrain features were still there to some degree, but in Ninth Edition all terrain rules have been greatly simplified. Well, they’re still complex, but terrain is now in categories, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re in a Ferratonic Incinerator (volatile cover) or a Promethium Forge (aegis of the Omnissiah). It’s all just area terrain and that’s that.

However, the big thing today is that only the Galvanic Servohaulers, Sacristan Forgeshrine and Galvanic Magnavent are available to order. The rest of the range disappeared a couple of years back, but then we started to see the big terrain boxes come out, like War Zone Charadon, which featured numerous Sector Mechanicus terrain features. Kill Team Nachmund also included a lot of the Charadon stuff – a Ferratonic Furnace, Thermic Plasma Regulators, etc. But the big pieces have disappeared, and it’s kinda concerning me.

It’s not particularly old, although I know plenty of gamers who think a 5 year old model would require an update. However, even if we were to consider this stuff old, that doesn’t explain why a lot of their terrain pieces that came out for Ninth Edition, such as the new Manufactorum pieces, are also no longer available. The Manufactorum terrain set is, in particular, weird. There were two large pieces, the Sanctum Administratus (still available) and the Sub-Cloister and Storage Fane (no longer on the site), then there was the Command Edition terrain set (still available) which looks like it has some of the Sub-Cloister as well as a bunch of new relay pipes. Then came the big Vertigus terrain box (no longer on the site), which seemed to repackage the Sub-Cloister set alongside the Command Edition terrain, and also included some kind of shrine which was only available in that box.

Terrain seems to be an afterthought for GW these days, and while they are knocking it out of the park when it comes to the stuff they do stock, it’s just upsetting to see so many good pieces just ignored or left to fall out of stock.

Of course, this doesn’t even begin to cover the issues around the new (for Eighth Edition) Sector Imperialis stuff, which was just glorious and beautiful. I’m very pleased with the fact I was able to get some of those pieces back in the day, thanks mainly to the Kill Team box of course. The latest Kill Team Charadon set did give us a second-wind for some of that stuff, as well, although that doesn’t appear to be aimed at the regular 40k crowd.

I’m still in mourning for the Derelict Factorum set that I came close to purchasing, but now can no longer be found…

I can’t help but wonder what’s going on, and why they have such few pieces in the catalogue. It’s most likely due to sales, and I guess you could quite easily say that people are far more likely to buy another squad of marines than they would be to buy a box of industrial terrain. I suppose the pandemic has put a lot of community gaming on hold, so clubs etc weren’t open to need terrain for their gaming spaces. People have gotten by with piles of books or cans of coke for terrain, if they were able to game at all, and so here we are.

For all my doom and gloom, though, it’s good to see games like Necromunda keeping the need for terrain alive, with some mad stuff we’ve had for that game in the last few years, starting with plastic zone mortalis stuff and moving through the Gang Stronghold to last year’s Underhive Market set, all of which is still thankfully available to buy! Of course, Necromunda does have rules for Sector Mechanicus terrain as well, which makes it annoying when you can’t buy more of it any longer.

Rumours are all over the place about Tenth Edition coming next year. Who knows if we’ll get some more terrain to coincide with that, such as we had with the Manufactorum stuff for the current edition?

More games with Marvel Champions

I’ve been playing quite a lot of Marvel Champions since finally picking up the core set, and I’ve really been enjoying it! I’ve had maybe half a dozen games now, using all of the core heroes with all of the core Aspects in one form or another, predominantly against Rhino as the villain, although I have also tried my hand with Klaw for some variety. I’ve also been taking a look at the player cards provided in the box, and have done some small-scale deck modification, as far as can be done with the contents of one core set, and it’s been a lot of fun to try new things out.

Marvel Champions

Victory has not come easy, or often, which I think is an intriguing aspect of the game. It can sometimes be frustrating as I try to do stuff but it just doesn’t work out for me. However, the game isn’t particularly long, and whereas with something like Lord of the Rings, where there is probably as much set-up time, but it becomes a real grind to finish, which can sometimes be frustrating if you become location-locked or something, with Marvel Champions it seems that you realise that it’s almost over – and then it is. There’s no real hanging about, waiting for the inevitable end.

One game that I played, using Black Panther in a Leadership deck, was over in about 3 rounds, as I just had no way to deal with the 3-4 threat being added to the scheme, whereas the next one went on for a long time as I was able to get some momentum and heal up despite a lot of damage coming my way. That was really good, as it allowed me to explore quite a lot of the game, including the first time I got to see my Nemesis shuffled into the deck! Not that this is cause for celebration, of course!

Now, I’m not an expert with the game, so I don’t intend this to be some kind of guide for the uninitiated (as I’m pretty much only an acolyte, myself!) but let’s talk about how the deckbuilding works here. In Marvel Champions, you play a hero who comes with 15 of their “signature” cards, a bit like in Arkham Horror LCG but obviously on a bigger scale. There are four Aspects to the game, like Arkham classes or Lord of the Rings spheres, and you can only choose from one of the four to build your deck. Later expansions seem to have heroes who break away from this more, but on the whole, you’ll only be able to play with Justice, Leadership, Protection or Aggression cards. There are also Basic cards which can go into any deck. The 15 cards must always be included, then you can only include three copies of a card unless it is Unique, in which case you can only include one. Other cards will also have restrictions, such as “max 2 per deck”.

I find it really fascinating, because no hero is tied in to any specific Aspect. Of course, there will be Aspects to which heroes will lean, as shown by their 15 cards, but you could theoretically build a Hulk Leadership deck, for example. The core set suggests Aspects for each of the five heroes included, but I’ve switched it up a bit by using Black Panther for Leadership rather than his suggested Protection (he is a king, after all). Moving between Aspects could be as straightforward as taking out the Black Panther cards and swapping them for the Spider-Man cards, for example, and suddenly I have Spider-Man built for leading, and Black Panther could go off with a Justice deck.

Now, this is very basic of course, and naturally there will be cards in the 15 hero cards that would lead you on to a specific Aspect, either to bolster what is already there, or to shore up any weaknesses. I played a game with Captain Marvel and the suggested pre-built Aggression deck, and between having her own aggressive cards and those from the Aspect, I actually scored my first victory for the game! However, due to her having a lot of good cards that deal damage, it could lead her to Justice for the ability to remove threat while punching the villain, or (as I currently have her built) Protection, to heal up.

It is very interesting when you start to think about how the game would work with more than one hero, though. The different Aspects clearly work together to form a cohesive whole, and I think it’s a good thing that you can’t really build multi-class decks to dilute these effects – the best you can do is go to the opposite of your hero’s 15 cards, and try to multi-class it that way. However, victory isn’t always going to be easy, as I’ve seen with Spider-Man in a Justice deck. He can theoretically deal a lot of damage, and has the thwart shenanigans of Justice, yet each time I just lose whenever I play him!

Moving On
Going all-in with a game is always pretty exciting, but it does mean that you might be left with content that you just never get round to using. I think I may have mentioned this a while ago, when talking about big deliveries of Kickstarter games being an Event – it’s exciting, for sure, but daunting as well. I know from my experience with Arkham Horror, too. I collected everything when it came out, but didn’t really “properly” start playing until the winter of 2020, so was confronted with about 4 cycles of stuff! I don’t really want to be in the same position this time around, and indeed, it’s something that I’ve been kinda exploring with the Star Wars LCG as I’ve been trying to play that in order, to limit myself a bit.

Marvel Champions has expanded with roughly a big box expansion, four hero packs, and one scenario pack per wave, although the first and the next waves will contain six hero packs. We currently have 22 hero packs out there, spread across four full cycles of this formula. That’s a lot of stuff to play with, of course, but in looking through it, I’m getting more and more itchy palms, wanting more cards!

Now, I really like the fact that you can pick up a hero pack, and there will be a pre-built deck in there, along with one or two other cards that you can use for other aspects, or to tweak the one you have. It means that you don’t need to buy everything released in each wave, but instead you can just pick up a pack if you like, say, Thor, and you can shuffle up and play. Even if you don’t like Thor, you could still pick up that pack for a slew of new Aggression cards that you can use with your hero of choice. There will always be some cases, where you might want a Justice card that means you’re buying a pack like Thor to get it, for instance, but I don’t think that’s something that happens very often. On the whole, I think packaging the game like this is great, because it allows for much more casual gamers to pick it up and play, without spending a whole night evaluating cards to build a deck. Given Marvel’s mass-appeal, this is something the game clearly needed to have, and I think it’s something they tried to do with the Star Wars game by making deck building a decision about “which ten objectives do you want?”, but taken to the next level.

The campaign boxes come with five new scenarios, with new villains to fight, and two hero decks to use that have a thematic link. So for example, I really like the X-Men when it comes to Marvel, and could feasibly hold off buying any of the other things and get myself the new box when it comes out (sometime soon, I believe). I don’t need to worry too much about the other boxes or packs, because they might not be heroes I’m interested in.

That said, I have found myself looking at the first wave products, and I have bitten the bullet and asked my local games shop to get me the Captain America hero pack, and the Green Goblin scenario pack. I do like Captain America, and I am currently planning to get the Rise of Red Skull box at some point soon. I think that should give me a good spread of cards, along with the Ms Marvel hero deck, which I’m mainly planning to pick up for the Protection cards she has. I genuinely am a fan of X-Men, by the way, so I am seriously considering getting the new expansion, but I want to take this slow, and only buy stuff that I then play with. So I don’t want to pick up a whole bunch of new stuff only to find myself in the position where I’m not getting to enjoy the game.

It is interesting to me, though, how I seem to have quickly grasped the game, and so developed something of a need for greater card variety. I’m by no means bored, but I find myself wishing I could do other things when playing, and I think this is strongly shown with the Ms Marvel Protection cards. From looking at what the pack contains, there seems to be a fair number of cards that I like the sound of, and would work quite well in the sort of deck I’m thinking about.

As I said last time, I am definitely a happy sausage with this game, and I’m really surprised how long it has taken me to give in and get myself a copy!