January 2023 retrospective

Hey everybody,
Just like that, January is over and we’re already one-twelfth of the way through the year. While I know for many people January is a long, long month, it somehow doesn’t seem to have been all that bad for me. I think I’m putting this down to the fact that I’ve tried my best to be organised about what I’m doing with my time, so that I have clear things to look forward to, and so on.

On a personal level, while I have lost the Christmas weight that I’d put on, I’ve not continued the downward trend yet. However, I’ve downloaded the Fantasy Hike app which tracks how far you walk and overlays this on Frodo’s journey to Mordor. So you get updates like Black Riders on the road, camping with the elves, and staying overnight with a farmer. It’s all pretty hilarious, and while I’m not yet projected to arrive at Mount Doom until Q3 2024, I have actually walked 70 miles in January, so I think that’s pretty impressive, actually! I want to take some time soon to try and plan more meals and stuff that would help me to lose weight while eating well, and then as the weather begins to improve (or at least, get more consistent), I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get out and about more, and with a bit of luck, I’ll keep going down from there!

Marvel Champions

Around the middle of the month, I had a day off to basically have a games day, something very indulgent I know. But that was one of the best things that I had going on, because it meant not only that I had that goal in my sights, but also I got to play with the Marvel Champions stuff that I got for my birthday and Christmas. It also prompted last week’s theme week, where I posted about the game every day of the week. It was really great to play some of the newer stuff, and it was a lot of fun to then have a blog go out at the same time each day with my rambling musings on it all. It’s definitely fired my interest in the game once more, which had somewhat waned during the Autumn last year, so that’s definitely a good thing now that I have almost the entire product line…

It’s also helped to really bump up my numbers for played games this year, as I’ve already played almost 20 games this year. That’s a fifth of my goal checked off already. I’ve also started on my third play-through with The Dunwich Legacy campaign for Arkham Horror LCG, which will of course go a long way to helping further with those numbers as a campaign is eight games. I’d spent part of my New Year’s Eve building up new decks, for Mandy Thompson and Tony Morgan, but couldn’t really decide in which campaign to play them. After vacillating over Dunwich and Innsmouth, Dunwich has now won out. However, I’ve also been finding myself thinking up which investigators I want to deckbuild for next, and so I don’t think it’ll be too long before I make it back to Innsmouth, after all!

January has seen 19 games being played, with Marvel Champions being the runaway leader here by far. I think there have been a few great games being played, though the real stand-out happened just yesterday, as I went back to Mutant Genesis and tackled the Project Wideawake scenario with Cyclops and Shadowcat. I love the X-Men, primarily from the Bryan Singer movies of the early 2000s, but I think in terms of overall superhero appeal, X-Men are very close to my heart. Which is probably why I was so disappointed after my first game with the new box. However, Cyclops and Shadowcat was a pretty good pairing, with only maybe a couple of cards swapped into both decks.

Marvel Champions

There is a lot going on in that scenario, and I think I had to play really slowly at times to make sure I was doing everything correctly. But it was incredibly enjoyable, as I was able to really experience the game, and it felt very much like the Sentinels were coming for my guys, especially with the Mk V Sentinel attaching that “marked for extermination” card to Cyclops. There was a lot of stuff going on with both heroes as well, and I think after the initial play with Cyclops, and then looking through his deck to try to make sense of what it is doing, I was a lot more prepared for this game. Shadowcat has some interesting things too, though without knowing a lot about both her deck and the scenario, it was difficult at times to know if I should be bothered by Patrol minions, for instance. Of course, all hell broke loose when her nemesis came into play, which I think is only the second time ever I’ve had that happen in a game, and towards the end I was almost drowning in side schemes! But I was able to get Cyclops’ Optical Blast off with the card that deals +8 damage to bring the Sentinels right down to 3 health, at which point it was almost trivial for Shadowcat to deal the final 3 damage for the win. It was by no means easy, but it was a lot of fun as the game went on! 

Even though I’ve almost completed my Marvel Champions goal of 10 games this year, I think this is well on track for becoming my most-played game of all time, the way I’m going with it!

In terms of the hobby, I have been really pretty productive here, too. I’ve painted up my Goliath gang for Necromunda, which involves seven gangers and two vehicles, so it works in both the regular game but also Ash Wastes. That was a really great result, especially as I’m still quite surprised that I’ve gone all-in for these guys. Since the game came out in 2017, Goliaths have definitely been at the bottom of the list for me, and with each subsequent gang to come out, they only went further down. But after building up the big lads and especially their ridiculously over-the-top bikes, I’ve really become quite the fan! My first time painting yellow hasn’t been all that bad, either, so all in all, I am very pleased!

Even more pleasing is the fact that we’ve been able to have a game of Necromunda, as well! My Goliaths vs James’ Orlocks, using the Prison Break scenario from Gang War 3. We were intending to use this as the start of a campaign, but James has decided to switch from Orlocks to Enforcers, but we’re still hoping to use that opening game as a bit of a scene-setter for the upcoming Law & Misrule campaign. So stay tuned for more on that one!

I am definitely fired up for more Necromunda though, and have not only also started to paint the Escher gang that I have had built since 2017, but also more Zone Mortalis scenery! The Eschers have got a bright red armour thing going on, although with all their hair and feathers etc, the colours are tending towards quite bright right now. I suppose that makes sense, but I do worry a little bit that they’re not Underhive-y enough… I’m also finding it quite difficult in general because of both the way they were built, in terms of actual gluing of parts and also the weapon choices, and additionally the grey primer which is quite thick and chalky in places. I had a similar issue with my Orlocks when I first tried to paint them, but stripped the paint and it all seemed to be okay, however with the Escher I don’t think they’re robust enough to withstand stripping! However, I do have another Escher gang sprue from the Hive War box I picked up ages ago for the Delaque and terrain, so I can always build the Escher gang I want that way.

In terms of Zone Mortalis painting, I have managed to get more walls and columns painted up in about a weekend, which has been amazing really! My total ZM painting now stands at eight wall sections and seven columns, with one platform so far. This is great, of course, though I would say I’ve still got easily half the Dark Uprising box still to paint! My colour scheme requires an undercoat of Mechanicus Standard Grey, of which I have currently run out, so I suppose for the time being I am stalled on this one, but hopefully I’ll be able to get some more of that soon and make more headway.

Something that I’ve been thinking about for some time is how literally all of my ZM terrain is modular, which causes some problems because it can all move during play, etc. So I’ve recently glued together two pieces to create a bit of an anchor in games. I’ve got a corner tower, which has been glued to that height with ladders to provide access up the top, and then I’ve glued a small wall section to a small door section, both of which are then attached to a column. I find that the doors in particular can be problematic because you are actually moving the door piece in-game, which sometimes knocks the wall a bit. So it’s good to have that kind of anchor to keep stuff in-line. As it stands, both of these pieces should be easy enough to fit into a larger landscape on the table, and they shouldn’t be too difficult to work into the other pieces that I have which involve the staircases. But I suppose we shall see!

Speaking of stairs, though, I find myself wanting to get another set of those, as I want to try and make a few more accessways to upper levels. Something that I have found with our games so far in the Underhive has been that they’re mostly one-level. It was nice in the Prison Break scenario to have the Orlocks starting up in a second-storey area, because it meant that we could interact with height a bit more, although as the objective was to flee the board, they were coming down the stairs very early. I’ve been thinking more about finally buying some of the plastic tiles as well, but with only a 2×2 area rather than 2×3 that we’ve been used to, it had always been my thought that it wouldn’t be as interesting. But without two full tiles, the only way is up, really! So maybe doing this could mean that we would naturally play on more levels as a result? We shall see. Obviously, the plastic terrain fits better on those tiles than on the cardboard ones, but I always find myself wanting to spend my limited hobby funds on miniatures, and not tiles! 

Anyway, that’s a lot of rambling about Zone Mortalis, but it has definitely been at the forefront of my mind this month, with the game and all, so I suppose it was inevitable, really!

Drukhari vs Imperial Fists

I also had a game of 40k this month, with my Dark Eldar against JP’s Imperial Fists, and once again, Toughness 3 proved to be the lesser match to marines. The amount of stuff that space marines can do is just ridiculous, and I am quite envious of the way the army almost runs itself, as opposed to having to actually fight to make things work for the xenos armies that I otherwise love! Of course, mistakes were definitely made on my part, but I think I can definitely play smarter in games, so I really want to try to develop my game plan in games going forward. So that will be a work in progress for however longer we have 9th edition 40k.

It has definitely been a productive time in the hobby so far this month, and already I have been able to check off one of my hobby goals for the year, by getting more ZM scenery painted! I don’t know if I will actually be able to get the whole box painted, of course, but it would be just lovely if I did end up getting the whole lot finished. I imagine that games would look so much nicer, if nothing else! I am very aware that 2022 started out really productive too, of course, with lots of Tau units being painted, only for me to falter around Easter time and stuff, so I’m hoping that by taking a much more measured approach to all this, I will actually be able to get somewhere this time. Well, time will tell I suppose!

As far as the hobby stuff goes, then, it’s a little difficult to quantify at the minute because I’ve not really painted up a proper squad per se, but I suppose you could call it one unit (Goliaths) and some terrain (the ZM stuff). That’s against the box of Escher bikes that I bought, so I’m definitely up on the whole bought vs painted thing so far!

This is getting extremely long now though, so I’ll call it a day here. Let’s hope that February is just as productive!!

Marvel Champions: personal best

It’s the end of my Marvel Champions week here at spalanz.com. For today’s post, I thought I’d keep it a bit more on the sub-theme of the week, playing through all the new stuff that I’ve now got for the game. I’ve got a lot of content for this game now, and I’ve had the chance to go through quite a great deal of it all. So today’s finale post is very much a summary of what I like out of everything that I’ve been playing!

To start with, let’s talk about the Heroes!

Marvel Champions

Despite all the new heroes that I’ve been playing with, I still find myself really enjoying Justice Spider-Man. I think there’s the strong element of nostalgia, if you can call it that, for him being the first hero that I played with. I’ve kept him in Justice, as well, and I find myself evaluating pretty much every Justice card that I buy against this deck. I really enjoyed pairing him with my Aggro Iron Man deck, as well, not just for the fact it’s a bit on-theme for the MCU mentor relationship between the two, but also because the pair of them seem to be able to cover a lot of bases really well.

I think one of the best things about playing the Spider-Man deck is how it can often feel like you have an answer to everything. He has his web kick for 8 damage, he can dodge all damage coming his way with a backflip, and being in Justice, he is able to remove threat – often with added bonuses, like dealing more damage if he defeats schemes, and stuff. Some great moments have come from Spidey when he’s done 8 damage (or more!), stayed in hero form for the villain phase, drawn a card when an attack is instigated against him, and simply backflipped his way from 4 or 5 damage with ease. Definitely on-theme for the nimble web warrior!

In terms of favourite heroes to pair with Spider-Man, I think it’s going to be a toss-up between Iron Man and Captain Marvel. Iron Man is great at dealing damage in the aggro deck that I have for him, but Captain Marvel is also a very effective hero too, so having both of them in play can lead to some very nice games. Sometimes, of course, those games are over quite quickly, but a win is always welcome!

Marvel Champions

Gamora was a stand-out hero for me when I first played her. While I’ve not played the Guardians expansion that much, each time I have it’s been with her and Star-Lord, and she has been the absolute star of that show. Interestingly, I’ve also been playing her deck as it comes, so she’s mainly aggro but can take up to six off-Aspect cards that must be either attack or thwart actions. I think it’s that kind of flexibility that makes her shine, really – pretty much any time a hero breaks the deck construction rules, you know it’s going to be quite powerful. Allowing her to take even just these six off-Aspect cards can mean you just give her the absolute best you can find in your collection. However, it’s not just this, but her hero specific cards work so well with attack and thwart actions, the deck just hums along really, really well.

A recent discovery for me in terms of precons is Black Widow, of course, and I’ve talked about how her deck is just amazing earlier in the week. The way her Preparation cards work within her deck really makes it feel like you’re playing the spy with a plan (and a back up plan). I think my first ever game with her saw me draw into a lot of the good stuff, meaning I was able to set up really nicely and therefore nothing was really a problem for me. Second game I spent a lot of time trying to get the Winter Soldier out, so it was a little hairy, but I still managed to prevail. The deck just works really well, and I can’t say any fairer than that!

Talking about favourite heroes is all well and good, of course, but the game is nothing without the villains! Now, I’ve not played against them all, for sure, but there are a lot of good ones among the rabble that I want to talk about, as they can definitely make for some really fun games, even when they’re beating us!

Marvel Champions

First up has got to be Crossbones. I was really looking forward to getting hold of the Red Skull box, as I love the whole Hydra mythos within Marvel. I’ve probably said this on the blog before, but I’ve been out of the comics world for about 15 years now, so pretty much all of my knowledge comes from the MCU. Crossbones was a new one on me until I realised he’s the guy in Captain America Winter Soldier, one of my favourite movies in the franchise, so I was excited to play against him. He also uses a lot of Hydra modular encounter sets, so that really excites me. He’s a good villain to go up against, because he’s not easy as such, especially when he gets more and more weapons attached to him, but he’s also not super difficult so the game can actually feel enjoyable, and not miserable. 

There are quite a few villains that I have enjoyed, although I need to play against them some more as I don’t always think a single game against anyone is a good yardstick. Mysterio was a lot of fun, from Sinister Motives. I did enjoy his whole thing with encounter cards going into player decks, that was a good touch. Nebula from Galaxy’s Most Wanted was another game I seem to remember as being good – a lot of reviews speak negatively of that box, of course, but I can’t say that I particularly noticed it. I know The Collector always comes in for some stick, but his mechanics were definitely interesting (once I had worked out the right way of playing, of course!)

Marvel Champions

Speaking of that, there is of course a bit of a trend for games to become more complex over time. Not quite like power creep that we often see with cards gaining in power, but just the amount of moving parts in a game becomes quite something. For example, I recently played Sabretooth from the Mutant Genesis box, and there is so much going on with the villain on his own, the fact that his scenario also has the whole rescue-a-senator thing added in to it makes it quite complicated when you first come to it. I think I could have possibly beaten the scenario a lot quicker if I had realised that actually, you can get by without rescuing Senator Kelly at all, especially given the fact he’s such a hindrance to you when you do get him.

The Tower Defence scenario from Mad Titan’s Shadow was also guilty of this, having two villains out and all the rest of it. Again, I think I need to play it again now that I know how it’s supposed to work, but there’s so much going on that it feels overly-complicated to play. 

Let’s not get too negative, though! I still have a few more villains to go up against, and I am particularly looking forward to trying out the Sentinels scenarios in the X-Men box, as well as the Venom scenario from Sinister Motives. I still haven’t played against Ultron from the core set, as it happens, so I definitely want to try my luck there, and I am waiting for my LGS to get the Kang scenario pack in stock so that I can try my luck against him, too.

In terms of heroes, I’m quite keen to give Shadowcat a go from the X-Men box, and I think I’m going to pick up Wolverine soon to try him out, as well. I really wanted to like Cyclops, but I couldn’t seem to figure out his deck when I first played him; I’ve taken a look though, and I think it might be interesting to pair him with Shadowcat to see how that turns out. I’ve heard very good things about the two heroes from Sinister Motives, as well, so I want to give those a try soon too. I also want to try Adam Warlock, as he has a very interesting deck idea in that he can use cards from all four Aspects, but only a single copy of each one.

Marvel Champions

There’s a lot still waiting for me to discover, for sure!

But what about the future? At the time of writing, the current rumours are pointing to at least one more cycle of X-Men, possibly two, so we aren’t going to have Fantastic Four anytime soon! I’m assuming the next wave of X-Men will involve the likes of Beast, Ice Man and Angel, although a lot of folks have been positing for X-Force, so Cable, Domino and so on. Deadpool keeps coming up, but I find myself shuddering at the thought of that. (I’m really not a fan of Deadpool). While we’ve had some of the classic X-Men villains, we still have the likes of Mister Sinister, the Hellfire Club, Apocalypse and even those that have already appeared in nemesis sets, like Mystique or Juggernaut.

Looking further ahead, I’m sure we’ll be due for a Fantastic Four cycle at some point, as that is a team just crying out for the Marvel Champions treatment. Getting characters like the Four themselves, Silver Surfer, Namor, Puppet Master, Galactus and Dr Doom would be just amazing, and I cannot wait! However, the biggest thing for me would be to finally get the street-level heroes, Daredevil, Elektra and so on. Actually, I’m not that fussed on the likes of Punisher or Jessica Jones, I just want Daredevil and Elektra hero packs! Give me a Kingpin villain, with Bullseye, Typhoid Mary, Echo and Tombstone in the box, and I’d be a happy chap indeed!

There’s so much still to come for this game that I think it has a long future ahead. Hopefully that isn’t the kiss of death, of course, but I am hopeful that we’ll continue to get great content for a long time yet!

Well folks, we’re now at the end of the week with Marvel Champions! I hope this mini-series of blogs has been entertaining in some way for you, especially if you play the game already! If you don’t, hopefully it’s shown you what you’re missing, and maybe even inspired you to pick it up for yourself!

Marvel Champions: going your own way

Marvel Champions week is almost over here on the blog, but we’re not at the end yet! Following yesterday’s post about playing with the preconstructed decks that form the expansion structure of the game, today I’m going in the opposite direction, and looking at building my own decks for the game.

I’ve been a card gamer for years now, and in that time I must have spent months just going through piles of cards for any given game, trying to evaluate them for play. So even though I’m still fairly new to this game, I am an old hand at building a deck, and like to think I know enough of what I’m doing to jump into this particular pool early on. Of course, knowledge of the game allows you to better understand the relative worth of the cards you’re looking to include in your deck, and a lot of that will come through trial and error.

Marvel Champions

When I played my first game of Marvel Champions, using Spider-Man and his suggested precon, I think I could see very early on how there were certain cards in there I would just never use. The unique resource mechanic of Marvel Champions almost guarantees that no card would be wasted in any deck, as it can always be discarded for a resource if you don’t want to play it for the effect. It’s definitely true that I look to include cards for their resource functionality as well, but what a card does is also pretty critical, for me. In the case of Spider-Man and the Justice deck, I know that I don’t like to gamble much when it comes to taking damage, so I knew very early on that I would cut Great Responsibility from the deck. As I got to play with Spider-Man more, I realised that I wasn’t using him for his base thwart, so could also very easily cut Heroic Intuition.

While these cards are never wasted, because I can always use them to generate resources, I prefer to build decks on the assumption that I will actually use the card for what it does, rather than because it could be a resource. That way, I’m never faced with the problem of having a hand of cards that are basically resources, which I don’t want to play for their effects. The flip side to that is that my turns can often be agonising events where each card I’ve drawn is really good, and useful, and I don’t want to have to discard a Swinging Web Kick to pay for anything!!

I’m not intending to write a deck building manual for Marvel Champions, as there are much better-qualified players out there than me who have already done that. However, this blog is intended very much as how I go about building my decks, so maybe you’ll find it useful by seeing a bit of my thought process, which I know tends more to the weird and wonderful when it comes to this stuff!!

I would say that Marvel Champions is unique among the games that I play, because building a deck for it can be relatively easy. While it’s not quite Star Wars LCG levels of “pick ten objective cards, and your deck will be built”, it is probably the next best thing. A deck for Marvel Champions must be between 40 and 50 cards, and common wisdom is to keep it as low as possible so that you have the best chance of finding your good cards when you need them. However, some heroes will be fine with bigger decks – Iron Man springs to mind as being able to move through his deck quickly, so you can potentially build a 50 card deck for him and it won’t be so bad.

Of those 40 cards, your hero will bring 15 along with them, so you’re already only looking to build a deck of 25 cards. While it is possible that you can build a singleton deck, in reality you’ll want to include a couple of cards in multiple, because you’ll either want to increase your chances of finding them, or you’ll want to benefit from the effect multiple times. Some cards can only be included once in a deck, either because of uniqueness or limitations on the card itself. For instance, there are the three neutral resource cards which can only be included once, and your Aspect resource doubler card, which can only be included twice. If you include those (and while I know a lot of internet folks will tell you not to, but why wouldn’t you want more resources?) then you’re looking at a 20-card deck that you need to build. If you include three allies, because that’s the ally limit, then you’ve got to find 17 more cards. If you find 5 good cards and include two copies of each, you then only need to find 7 more cards. The process to build this 40 card deck can be whittled down until actually it’s just a case of finding a few cards that you like the look of, and going from there.

Marvel Champions

I’ve already mentioned my Spider-Man deck as something I’m quite pleased with, and it’s something that has grown with me from the very start of this game. For someone who is not overly bothered with the webslinger, I have definitely played with this hero the most! My approach to Spider-Man Justice was to include a number of ways to remove threat from the scheme, because he has some pretty good attacks and defence cards in his personal cards already. As my card collection grew, and I was getting more cards that did more than just thwart, things were being swapped in and out quite rapidly. As it stands, he’s quite a powerful character at the minute because his is a deck that I have spent the most time with, and I would say that he’s the one I evaluate pretty much any Justice card against.

Marvel Champions

Captain Marvel has been another joy to work with, although that is principally due to her hero cards being so good. I’ve built her as Protection, I think primarily because I had been playing her as Aggro, but moved on to using those cards for Iron Man. As it happens, this change happened around the time I started buying more packs, and so I was getting a number of very interesting Protection cards whereby a hero could deflect damage back at enemies, for example, and so a lot of her deck is dealing almost accidental damage, if that makes sense! Coupled with the fact she is pretty damn powerful anyway, it’s another fun deck that I enjoy playing.

Also in Protection is Black Panther, which caused a bit of trouble for me at first because I had already used a lot of the good cards for Captain Marvel! This is perhaps where the hero specific cards come into play, however, as the way that I would evaluate a card changes, based on what I want the deck to do. When it comes to Captain Marvel, she’s doing a lot of damage through her own cards, so she doesn’t necessarily need all of those cards that reflect the damage back to an enemy during the villain phase. Black Panther has no shortage of resource cards within his deck, of course, so he can afford to bring much more expensive cards because they won’t end up being used as resources due to having no way of playing them. I’ve been able to lean more into the healing aspect of Protection with Black Panther, though, which is nice to have that kind of flexibility within the Aspect, but also it’s nice to have that real sort of team-spirit when playing the game, so having the healer, the brute, etc.

Marvel Champions

The last deck that I have “scratch built” is Iron Man, in the aforementioned Aggro build. Unsurprisingly, then, he has a lot of cards that are basically there to beat the living daylights out of enemies. However, Iron Man can be quite a janky hero to play, I find, due to the fact his hand size in hero mode is based on how many Tech upgrades he has, but will be a minimum of 1. Due to bad draws, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve ended up playing him basically every other turn, as he requires re-setting to Alter Ego to draw cards, then plays them in Hero form, only to then need to switch back on the next turn and therefore do nothing, etc.

Much like with Spider-Man and the thwart cards getting better, there are now more attack cards that will do additional things, which I like because it makes the deck a lot more multi-functional, but also I love the value you get from multiple effects. While I have had some despairing games with Iron Man due to lack of drawing any upgrades, I’ve also had a few where it’s almost been an embarrassment of riches as I draw all the good stuff and can’t decide which cards to ditch for resources, and which to keep!

However, for all that there are fancy new cards that are available in the later packs, I do find the core set stuff provides a backbone for these decks, regardless. It’s interesting, because people talk about power creep all the time with games like these, but while the newer cards do often seem like they’re flashy and amazing, it’s still core set cards that I find myself coming back to time and again. I suppose that could partly be due to the size of my collection, of course, but nevertheless, I do think that it’s interesting how the core stuff holds up for years.

My other decks are pretty much slight tinkerings with the pre-constructed decks for heroes like Captain America, Doctor Strange, Spectrum and the like. Interestingly, the Star-Lord precon deck that I mentioned in yesterday’s blog as being widely disparaged has only had three cards swapped out for me, and I’ve not found it that bad to play. I suppose I still have a lot of heroes where I’ve not tried them much, however, so I have plenty more life left in this game for me yet!

Marvel Champions: constructed

Marvel Champions week is in full swing here at spalanz.com, and today I wanted to talk about the distribution method for the game, and weigh up some of the pros and cons.

Marvel Champions

As you hopefully know by now, Marvel Champions is a living card game that follows, to some degree, the established pattern from Fantasy Flight by releasing content in a big box, and subsequent cycle of smaller clamshell packs. Here, the big box calls itself a campaign expansion, though I’ve already talked about my thoughts on that this week, and comes with five villains plus two hero decks. The villains add to the stable of what makes up the game, and function a bit like scenarios that you play through. You’re never really doing anything different each time – it’s always just a case of trying to defeat the villain before the main scheme is completed. The villain’s encounter deck is what makes games unique though, and what’s more, you the player can further customise it through the use of modular encounter sets that can change up how villains feel to play against.

The heroes will each come with a pre-built deck in one of the four Aspects (Justice, Leadership, Aggression and Protection). The subsequent cycle of hero decks will then bring out yet more heroes, who each come with a pre-built deck, as well as some extra cards designed to go into your collection, and that you can use to swap in to your decks to change up how your heroes play, usually one card per off-Aspect.

Each cycle also features a Scenario Pack which gives another villain to fight, meaning each cycle generally has six villains and six heroes, although the very first cycle after the core set technically had 11 heroes, and the current X-Men cycle will finish up with eight heroes.

Anyway! The pre-built decks for heroes can vary wildly in how they play, from a deck like Doctor Strange that is widely admired and is very often recommended for play as it comes, to Star-Lord that is baffling for some of the cards he comes with, and has been criticised for including Aspect cards that don’t play in accord with his Hero cards.

We’ll get more into these kinds of points in another blog, though. Today, I wanted to talk about the more positive aspects of having the preconstructed decks for heroes. The most obvious, I think, is the appeal of the game to non-gamers. Heck, even some gamers don’t like building decks to play card games like this, so to avoid having a product that would potentially only appeal to a sub-set of a niche hobby, FFG have taken the interesting route of producing content for their game that allows pretty much anyone who wants to try this game the ability to do so. If you’re a Captain America fan, then you can pick up his deck, shuffle up and play, without spending an evening (or longer) going through stacks of cards.

Cap comes with a Leadership deck, naturally, but that doesn’t mean you have to play him as a leader. A Cap Protection deck is entirely possible, of course – it just requires you to have a collection of cards from which to build a new deck. That said, it’s entirely possible that you could take the Protection cards out of Ms Marvel’s precon deck and put them together with Captain America’s Hero cards, and have fun. It might not work that well – as we’ll see, precon decks are often built to work really well with the Hero-specific cards. But it’s certainly possible!

Now, I’m a card gamer of many years, and have spent countless hours of my life going through stacks of cards to build decks for games from scratch. I think I t’s fun, and can be almost as engaging as playing the game itself, trying to find combinations of cards that should work well together. When I first got into this game, after playing my initial games with the core set suggested decks, I was aching to build my own, and as I began to buy new packs, I don’t think I used a single hero in his or her preconstructed form. Probably my inner hipster just wanted to go my own way, and I didn’t really want to be taking what I had begun to think of as the easy route. Hmph.

Marvel Champions

So I’ve been playing some games with the preconstructed Hawkeye and Black Widow decks, as I’ve gone up against the villains from the Rise of the Red Skull box.

Before I started, I hadn’t really heard a great deal about the Hawkeye deck, but Black Widow didn’t seem to be very popular, because of her reliance on Preparation cards. These are upgrades and support cards that you play, sometimes very cheaply, and can discard when their trigger is met for a certain effect. A lot of her personal cards interact with this mechanic, meaning that you would never build a deck for her without a lot of this type of card. It does make me wonder if the fact there is such a clear reliance on the Preparation cards that Black Widow is therefore not a popular choice for players?

At any rate, I have played with her a few times and had an absolute blast – it can be a little rough at times, don’t get me wrong, as it can take a bit of set-up to get things working, but in my very first game with her, the whole deck just seemed to hum along so beautifully, I was playing with such a huge grin on my face for that fact!

Marvel Champions

The issue I mentioned about Black Widow relying on her Preparation cards is perhaps compounded by the fact that the game doesn’t actually have a lot of these cards. Black Widow’s hero pack comes with them, of course, and there are cards in each Aspect included in the bonus cards at the back. Since then, however, only two other cards have been printed, one in Aggression and one in Protection. So I guess you are pretty much stuck in the Justice deck that she comes with, if you want to play Black Widow. 

Hawkeye has a Leadership build and his main thing is, naturally, arrows. Something that I was really quite impressed by with Hawkeye was how well his personal cards work – you almost have the rest of his deck there simply to provide the resources to pay for his Hero cards. In pretty much all of the games that I have played with him, I have pretty much relied on having his bow in play (which you can search for by his Alter Ego action anyway), Expert Marksman (to generate resources to pay for his arrows) and then his arrows. You exhaust his bow to shoot an arrow, but then his hero action is to ready his bow, so normally you can fire two arrows per turn, unless you have additional ways to ready him.

Those arrows are just so damn good, though, I think I would definitely look for ways to recur events from the discard pile, as well. They pretty much all do damage, of course, but they can also Stun and Confuse enemies, and remove threat from schemes. It’s just a delight, which is even more of a surprise considering I wasn’t entirely sure I would like it as much as I do!

The Leadership build that he comes with is certainly fine, and for theme I would want to keep him as that because of Kate Bishop being a Leadership card, but I think the main way his deck is going to work as I would like it to is by having a number of allies out, and then playing Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to exhaust them to ready Hawkeye, to allow him to shoot again. Bit clunky, of course, but it might need a little tinkering to see what I can come up with. I think I’d also like to investigate using different allies, though each game I’ve played has been interesting because I’ve had some team cards out with no allies to benefit from them. But anyway!

Natasha’s deck is pretty good by itself, and the cards that I would traditionally have cut in favour of others have actually been perfect for generating the resources I need to play those cards that I do want. Indeed, every game with Natasha has been fascinating to me so far, because I’ve never had a bad run with card draw – I’ve only ever had an embarrassment of riches!

Marvel Champions

This is perhaps in direct contrast to the X-Men game that I played recently. X-Men are, of course, the new kids and they have a single cycle so far. I tried out Cyclops and Storm against Sabretooth from the new Mutant Genesis box, and I was actually surprised at how different it all felt. Two Leadership decks seemed like it could be an interesting idea at first, but in execution it turned out that Storm was just using all of her personal cards, much like Hawkeye, whereas Cyclops felt very much like a hot mess. It seems to be the case that Cyclops works from attaching cards to enemies, and then using that to his (and his team’s) advantage. I really struggled to get this kind of engine going, however, and in the event, he barely did anything all game. I think there was one moment of clarity where he could attach a card to Sabretooth, then play another card to deal +8 damage to an enemy with a card attached. It was beautiful, but I think in the context of the Sabretooth scenario as well, everything just felt so damn weird! 

I think it is interesting, then, to see how a deck like Black Widow can be so damn good, Hawkeye and Storm are pretty decent, but Cyclops was just too clunky to get going. I do want to try the X-Men again, but I’m thinking I might actually go up against a different villain to see how they do. 

Having the preconstructed decks does mean that you can very much treat this game like a board game – and that is actually how I was selling it to my wife when trying to get her interested last summer. You don’t have to build a deck, you simply need to buy a deck and play with that. I think I will certainly be keeping Black Widow in her precon form, and as time goes on, I may well be doing this with more decks that I buy. I’m sure my inner hipster will recoil at that, but it’s definitely the way forward with some of the heroes!

Marvel Champions: the card game

It’s Marvel Champions week here on my blog, where I’m getting to grips with the massive influx of content for this game that came my way between my birthday and Christmas last year. I initially got into the game last summer, but was trying to do my best to take it slow, and learn how to play the game at my own pace. The last thing I wanted was to drown in content, and that feeling lasted at least a couple of months!

The way the game is distributed, however, made me change my mind, and I began to buy more stuff in order to increase my options when it came to deck-building for the game.

Tuesdays are my traditional game days, of course, where for years I would post a blog that highlighted one of my favourite games, and so on. Today, therefore, I think it might be a good idea to go through how the game works, as that will no doubt be a major help during the rest of this week’s blog posts!! When I last did a blog like this, it was after my very first play, and I was still trying to learn the rules. I’ve now played this game about thirty times, all told, so I’ve got a much better understanding of the rules!

So let’s take a look at how the game is played, once again! This may be a long post, now that I understand the game some more, but I think it’s important to go through due to the fact there is so much more Marvel Champions content coming up!

Marvel Champions

The object of the game is for players to work together to defeat the villain. There are usually two villain cards in play, one on top of the other, referred to as villain stages. If you’re playing the game in Standard mode (which I do), then you use stage one and stage two of the villain. For Expert mode, you start on stage two. When both villain stages have been defeated, the players win! However, the villain has a scheme deck, anywhere between one and three cards, which he or she is trying to advance by scheming. If a scheme card accumulates enough threat, it is advanced, and if the final scheme card is advanced, the villain wins. Alternatively, if the villain is able to deal enough damage to each hero that they are defeated, the villain also wins. 

In many ways, then, it’s quite a simple game, as the player objective is to basically deal enough damage over time to defeat the villain. However, the scheme cards need to be dealt with as well, so you can’t be punching every single turn. Furthermore, the villain has an encounter deck that is full of nefarious things, such as minion cards who will also either attack the heroes or scheme alongside the villain, or treachery cards that will wreak havoc with the heroes in all manner of ways. There are also side schemes, which can make the main scheme more difficult to deal with. So each round is definitely a delicate balancing act!

Each round is divided between the Player phase and the Villain phase. In the Player phase, you can switch form between your hero and alter-ego, which can have an impact on what cards you can play and interact with. You can play cards by paying their cost and putting them into play (in the case of ally, support or upgrade cards), or trigger the action on the card if it is an event card. Upgrades, allies and support cards may also have actions that you can trigger. You can also use your hero’s basic powers, such as attack and thwart, or your alter-ego’s recovery. (Heroes also have a basic defense, which comes into play when defending against an attack, but that will come later).

To pay the cost of a card, you need to discard cards to generate resources, or use the abilities of cards in play to generate them. For ally cards, a player can only have three in play, although of course there are cards which allow you to break rules like these. When generating resources from cards, you sometimes need to pay a specific type of resource to gain an effect, or you’ll gain a bonus effect for paying a specific type of resource. There are three types – mental (blue), physical (red), energy (yellow) and also wild (green), which are shown by the icons in the bottom-left corner of the card.

Dealing damage through attacks and attack actions is quite simply a case of either dialling down the villain dial, or placing damage tokens on minions. Thwarting a villain allows you to remove threat from a scheme in play, although some cards (mainly side schemes) have the Crisis icon, which forces you to deal with that scheme first. This, of course, can be devastating as it could allow the main scheme to accrue too much threat! To use your basic hero or alter-ego actions, you must exhaust the card, by turning it on its side. (You can still flip between hero and alter-ego while exhausted, and you can still trigger actions on cards including your hero/alter-ego while exhausted; you just can’t use the basic actions of thwart/attack/defense, or recovery).

Marvel Champions

Allies can also thwart and attack, but in the majority of cases they will take consequential damage for doing so. This means that an ally won’t be around forever to help you, and so you’ll often have to weigh up whether an ally is going to best serve you by thwarting or attacking, or as a meat shield to absorb the villain’s attacks. Again, to use allies, you must exhaust them. Other cards like supports or upgrades may also require you to exhaust them to get their benefits.

Once you’ve done everything you want to do, you can discard any cards left in your hand, then draw up to your hand size at the end of your turn. You then ready all cards in your play area, and take a deep breath before the Villain phase begins!

To begin, the main scheme will accrue threat as per the Acceleration Field, which shows how much threat (usually per player) it gains each round. This acts like a basic clock for the game, because if the players ended in their Hero form, the villain will attack them – potentially meaning a turn could pass without the scheme accruing threat. The main scheme has an Acceleration field, but there are also many cards (mainly side schemes) that have an Acceleration icon, which will add additional threat tokens to the main scheme.

Marvel Champions

The villain then activates against each player, depending on which form that player has ended their turn in. If the player is in Hero form, the villain attacks as stated; if they are in Alter-Ego form, the villain will scheme, placing more threat on the main scheme. To do either of these actions, the villain is dealt a face-down encounter card which is then revealed to check for boost icons on the bottom-right corner. Boost icons buff the villain’s main scheme or attack stat, so two boost icons deal +2 attack or threat. Sometimes a card will have a star icon instead of a boost icon – the star doesn’t buff the villain inherently, but will trigger an effect on the card itself that will then resolve.

If there are any minions in play engaged with a hero, they will also activate, either scheming or attacking as well, although they don’t get boost cards.

Heroes and allies can defend against villain and minion attacks – and if you choose not to, another player can also use their hero or allies to defend you. Allies can defend, and absorb all of the damage from a villain attack regardless of how much health they have, although some attacks may have Overkill, where excess damage rolls over onto the hero (or, indeed, to the villain if this is a hero attack against a minion!)

Marvel Champions

Finally, each player is then dealt an encounter card. Again, some cards (mainly side schemes) have a Hazard icon that forces an additional encounter card to be dealt to each player. These cards are then turned face up, and can either be minions who will engage the player to whom it was dealt; treachery cards which have a one-time effect then get discarded; attachments which go on the villain (and usually make things so much worse), and side schemes, which will come into play with threat on them, and generally make the heroes’ job that much more difficult. New minions dealt this way do not attack or scheme the turn in which they arrived, however.

There are also the player Obligation cards, which are shuffled into the encounter deck at the start of the game, and which can cause problems for the heroes by interrupting any plans being laid. You may also find that your Nemesis minion and side scheme gets shuffled into the encounter deck, causing further chaos for the heroes! That said, I think in all of my games up to now, I’ve only had to do this once, so it isn’t a very common occurrence.

At any rate, that is the end of the round, and the players then get to lick their wounds and fight back!

There’s a lot of text in this post, I know, but the game actually plays out really quickly once you get going with it. I think it’s interesting how straightforward it can be at times, but I suppose this speaks to how the designers have made a game that can appeal to the mass Marvel crowd while also having a depth that will bring gamers into the fold as well. While I enjoy the Marvel theme, and will quite happily sit through any of the movies and TV shows that are being put out there, I think it’s interesting that I enjoy this game more for its actual gameplay than for its theme. There are quite a few games that I will play because I like the theme more than anything else, but this one intrigues me because I’ve come to it as a game first and foremost, and not because I’m some kind of huge Marvel fan. That, however, has been where I’ve gone a bit wrong, as I had initially thought I would only pick and choose the heroes and expansions that I liked the sound of, from having watched the movies or whatever. But given that I like the actual game so much, I find that I want more of these packs because I want to build new and different decks, etc! They’ve definitely got me with this one!

It is a fairly quick game to get through, like I said, although some villains can stall you a bit as you try to deal with everything that’s going on. Klaw from the core set is a good example of this, where he has a number of side schemes in play which can dictate the flow of what you’re doing, as well as some pretty tough minions in his deck. To cap it all off, the second stage gives him a massive boost in hit points which means the game just goes on for a very long time as you try to make it through each round. There are other villains that have so much going on that it does feel like a proper gaming session, and not just a quick play-through that can last half an hour, or whatever. Unless of course, you just die really quickly!

The Learn to Play booklet is excellent, and really takes you through the game step-by-step. There is also a Rules Reference booklet that goes over the more complex stuff, but generally speaking you can play this game without your head stuck in these booklets after just a couple of games – I’m not being disparaging here, I think it’s amazing how the game has been so well-designed! Often, you’ll find a game can be so dense to work out what you’re trying to do, it can take hours to work through even a tutorial scenario, or whatever. Not so, here! 

A well-designed game is great, but the variety that has come out of having such a rich and varied universe to work within is definitely another plus point for this game. I think the way the game is structured around villain-scenarios is great, of course, and the addition of modular encounter sets to subtly change these villains is fantastic, but heroes and their decks is another excellent point. I’ll get more into this later in the week, but each hero comes with a small deck of around 15 cards that are their Hero cards. They then bulk out their deck to between 40 and 50 cards from one of the four Aspects, Justice, Leadership, Aggression and Protection. Any hero can be built in any Aspect, so you can play your favourites in a number of different ways. The Hero cards will dictate, to some extent, what you want to include in the wider deck, but it’s amazing how much replay variety you can get out of the game in this way.

All in all, it’s just so much fun to play, I can’t believe it took me so long before I actually bought and played it!

Marvel Champions LCG

This week is Marvel Champions week! I have declared it so!

I’ve been enjoying Marvel Champions for about six months now, and in that time it has become a real favourite for me. True, I have waxed and waned a bit, as I’ve tried to get into the game slowly, without overwhelming myself with the amount of content that is out there for the game. Between Christmas and my birthday, though, I’ve had a significant injection of content that has left me with a lot of stuff to discover, and so that’s really the aim of this week on the blog – my attempt to really get to grips with the game and all the new stuff that I now have!

This game was chosen as one of my 10×10 games for the year, but in actual fact I think I’m going to smash this goal before the end of January as a result of this endeavour! I think that’s one of the big attractions of the game for me, though, that it can be played as a pretty standalone experience. There are hundreds of heroes in the Marvel pantheon, with as many villains for them to go up against, and I love the fact you can get all manner of mash-ups going from this game.

I have previously talked on the blog about how each big box expansion for this game is sold as a “campaign expansion”, but said campaign is actually pretty weak, especially in comparison with the other co-op LCG out there, Arkham Horror. However, I actually now think that this is a good thing, because it doesn’t lock you in to playing in a specific way. Yes, there’s a vague storyline going through each box, and even the core set, and it kinda makes sense to enjoy that story by playing through each villain in the recommended order. But there’s really nothing stopping you from just playing a single game against Hela, without first going through Thanos and his minions. Or you can just play against Ultron, or just against The Collector. Or whatever.

In modern games, it seems to be a bit of an expectation that there will be some form of campaign play, or some way of linking together different games to form an overarching narrative. It’s not always a requirement, though, and I’m a big fan of the fact you can pick this game up and have a great game by playing a one-off fight against, say, Red Skull.

Indeed, the campaign system is weak enough that it almost encourages you to avoid it. I’ve only really tried the Thanos campaign, but was so decidedly unimpressed that I gave up after Thanos himself, the halfway point, as it didn’t really seem worthwhile. Each box has a not insignificant amount of cards for campaign play, but I’m thinking they could just be used for regular games, if at all. There is some theme involved with them, but it’s not Arkham Horror levels of immersion.

I feel as though I’m ranting here, but that’s really not the case! Suffice it to say, the campaign system in Marvel Champions holds very little interest for me, but this is not a bad thing because I love the fact this is a game you can just pick up and play.

It’s Marvel Champions week, so let’s look forward to a week of rambling about what has very quickly become one of my most-played games!!

Necromunda vehicles

It’s not massively complicated, of course, but since I’ve been working on painting the Goliath Maulers, I’ve been off-and-on trying to work out how vehicles work in Necromunda. There are loads of rules for them, both in the new Ash Wastes rulebook and in Book of the Outlands, but it’s interesting (to me) how the internet generally only talks about adding them to your gang, but not playing with them.

Necromunda Ash Wastes

I’ve got a game of Necromunda coming up later this week, so thought I’d dummy up a session to try to remember the rules, as it has been a very long time since I last played – and indeed, I’ve never played with the new Ash Wastes stuff. Having recently finished painting the Goliath gang, it was great to get them out for a spin, as well!

To start with, then, vehicles are almost the same as any other fighter – they can take actions, they can attack or be attacked, etc. The vehicle will usually have a weapon, and a crew, who will be responsible for firing that weapon. Vehicles begin the game mobile, but can become stalled or wrecked as the game goes on. The various conditions a vehicle can be subjected to determine which actions they can perform. So you can move, you can shoot, you can ram, you can move and shoot (moving half your move value to do so), and so on.

When you move, you go in a straight line. This may cause you to collide with terrain and stuff, but you can manoeuvre during a move, if you need to pivot to get around things. Otherwise, you only get to change your direction at the start or end of a move. It really makes you think about what you’re trying to do, especially if you’re trying to do a drive-by – you can’t just curve around things without thinking things through.

There are many game effects that can see the crew losing control of the vehicle, too. This is kinda funny, but it reflects the somewhat difficult terrain and the ramshackle vehicles they’re driving.

Necromunda Ash Wastes

You can, of course, attack vehicles, and it works similar to attacking other fighters. Vehicles have front, side and rear Toughness, and you resolve your hit depending on which you’re shooting at (or beating up). Once a hit has been scored, damage is inflicted via the vehicle dice – special location and damage dice that allow you to score glancing, penetrating or catastrophic hits against the body, engine, crew or drive of the vehicle. Depending on which type of hit is scored and where, different effects will take place. So for instance, a glancing hit to the drive will force a loss of control test (more in a bit), while a catastrophic hit to the engine will remove two hull points and reduce its move value by half for the rest of the game.

In my test game today, the Orlock champion scored a catastrophic hit against a Goliath mauler with his heavy bolter, destroying the vehicle in one shot!

Necromunda Ash Wastes

When a vehicle is reduced to 0 hull points, it becomes wrecked and can essentially function as terrain. The crew will be thrown clear, which I hadn’t realised, but that does mean you potentially need to have more models painted up for this!

Vehicles have a handling value, which is used when making a loss of control test. If failed, you roll a d6 and the Control dice, which is another new type of dice for the vehicle rules. This result will determine if the vehicle swerved, jackknifes, of rolls when the loss of control test is failed, with the d6 determining which direction it moves, left or right. Rolling vehicles can end up on their side or the roof, and will consequently wreck.

Necromunda Ash Wastes

It’s a pretty good system, when you get into it, and I think it’ll be fun to try out more vehicle battles in the future. The rules for Necromunda are quite dense anyway, and while the vehicular additions can be seen as making that worse, in all honesty I don’t think they’re all that bad – I mean, it’s just more of the same, in many respects. However, adding in this new type of “fighter” does really open the game out in so many ways, and as I’ve already said, I can’t wait to see what other vehicles will be making their way into the wastes!

Angmar Awakened – out of the dungeon, into the Ettenmoors

Hey everybody,
After more than two months, I’m once again back with the Angmar Awakened cycle! Back in November, I started this with The Wastes of Eriador, having played through The Lost Realm deluxe box back at the end of 2020! It’s definitely taking me a while to get through this, but I’m pressing on! I played the second pack, Escape from Mount Gram, at the start of December, so I’m currently doing well at one pack per month!

Escape from Mount Gram

At the end of the last adventure, the heroes were taken captive by the goblins, and Escape from Mount Gram sees us running around in the dungeons, trying to get our stuff and flee. There is a fairly annoying mechanic that starts the pack by shuffling all of the stuff, including allies and two heroes per player, into a sort of side-deck, meaning that we start the game with just one hero and a deck of event cards. Encounter cards often have the Capture mechanic, which draws cards from this set-aside deck under them and, when those cards leave play, such as by defeating enemies or exploring locations, we get to draw those cards as normal. Some effects will actually allow us to put cards into play for free, which is nice!

Escape from Mount Gram

Thematically, it works wonderfully, as it simulates the helpless/abandoned feeling of being lost in the dungeons and trying to regroup really well. However, it’s just that tiny bit soul-crushing as we start from so far behind, it’s like an uphill struggle right from the off. In addition, of course, players can’t team up until the second quest stage, so you really are on your own. It’s a little bit like Foundations of Stone from the Dwarrowdelf cycle in that respect.

Escape from Mount Gram

To win, you have to flee via the Southern Gate, which is quite the task because you can’t travel to that location until the quest has got the max number of progress tokens on it, so it’s very prescriptive in that respect. But it was quite enjoyable – just a bit hectic, and not one that I think I would rush to play again!

Across the Ettenmoors

Once we’ve escaped the dungeons, we then race Across the Ettenmoors, a wild place where Giants and Trolls abound. This one was a very interesting quest, as it is basically side quest heaven. Due to the fact that I was playing a team that includes Thurindir, and both my decks have quite a few side quests in as well, towards the end of the game I was questing for something like 20+ easily, Thurindir himself contributing well over half of that due to the 10 or so side quests in the victory display!

Across the Ettenmoors

There are a lot of enemies in this one, plus a lot of quite horrible treacheries, though I was surprised that it didn’t feel quite so bad as you’d think. Yes, there are massive Giant enemies to contend with, but as luck would have it, I was able to either discard them as shadow cards, or else deal with them on my own terms by keeping my threat low enough throughout!

I think Across the Ettenmoors is ranked as the easiest quest of the cycle, in the official literature at least. But like I say, it could be pretty horrific if you’re stuck with a bunch of giants and trolls looming over you. During my game, I was stuck with drawing a lot of player cards that interacted with locations, yet barely any locations were coming up. I always find these things interesting, because people will tell you that x quest is easy, or y quest is difficult, but without the right cards in your hand, x quest could be impossible! 

On that note, I believe I have an extremely difficult one coming up over the horizon. The Battle of Carn Dûm gets a lot of bad press for being one of the hardest quests in the game, but I still have another quest to get through before I’m there, so I can try to build myself up for that one. 

In the meantime, I continue to be quite impressed by how my decks are performing. The combination this time around has led to some very powerful turns where fairly significant enemies are crushed in one blow, and locations never seem to linger for longer than a turn or two. It’ll be interesting to see how I fare when the time comes – hopefully it won’t be too long before I will be able to draw this particular cycle to a close!!

A catch up (mainly Necromunda)

Hey everybody,
It’s been a bit of a quiet week here on the blog, as life gets back to normal in 2023 and the post-festive blues begin to settle a little. My wife has been struck down with some kind of flu that’s been doing the rounds as well, so I’ve been in full-on dad mode for the little folk. They’re both at a different cheeky stage, so neither wants to do what I tell them to – the eldest just ignores me, but the youngest is actually smiling at me as she ignores me and continues to do what she shouldn’t. Hopefully it’s all just a phase, and things get easier soon! It’s been nice to have them both to myself, though, and there have been fun times as well!

Since I launched the plan of 10×10 games for 2023, I’ve had some pretty amazing success with actually playing games, which has been really nice! I am currently around 5 or 6 games played this year, with a good breadth of stuff hitting the table, so I’ve been quite pleased about that. Look out for a blog coming out in the coming days where I catch up with the Angmar Awakened cycle for Lord of the Rings LCG, at the very least!


The biggest success so far this year has been the Goliath gang for Necromunda, however. I’ve just been slowly chipping away at these big lads for about an hour or two most nights, and have had a real sense of achievement as I see them coming together. It’s only seven gangers plus the two mauler vehicles, so it’s hardly a massive task of course, but even so, I’ve been pleased with my progress!

Necromunda is currently hovering near the top of my list as well, when it comes to games that I am excited for – despite the huge intake over Christmas, it has actually displaced Marvel Champions as the game that I’ve been most looking forward to playing! I have been really excited by the Ash Wastes box, of course, especially given the fact that I have got the terrain fully painted up now, so it’s on my list to try and get to grips with everything over the coming week, and see what is new and how these vehicles work. I’ve got a game day booked in for Tuesday, so I’m super excited for that!


Being firmly in a Necromunda frame of mind, I picked up the new Escher bikes yesterday (sadly no cards were to be had). I’d actually forgotten that these came out last month, but seeing the tutorial from Mediocre Hobbies on youtube made me want to pick up a box for my growing vehicle pool! I don’t think it’s likely to happen anytime soon, but I was also watching Andy’s Cargo-8 tutorial, and found myself wanting that behemoth to paint up! I don’t honestly know that it would really get used, though, so I’m much preferring these smaller buggy-like vehicles, or the bikes, for now. It’s one of the reasons I was looking at my outstanding Genestealer Cult models last week, as I have been thinking it’d be good to get the bikers painted up to try them in the Wastes, too.

Picking up the Escher bikes has got me thinking, though. We’ve seen the Cawdor vehicles previewed back in November as shambling walkers, though I’ve seen a few criticisms of these online as walkers would be inherently more difficult to maintain, so why does the scummiest of the gangs get them? I’m not an engineer, but I suppose it does make a bit of sense that they are more complex machines than a wheeled vehicle. At any rate, they’re presumably going to come next. But what about Van Saar and Delaque vehicles? What will they look like?


Van Saar have already had their hover boards in with the Prospects box, of course, so it’ll be interesting to see how their vehicles turn out. Skimmer bikes would have made sense, but that’s what Escher has – maybe they’ll be sleeker? Who knows! As for my beloved Delaque, my first thought was for some kind of ground car that could be made entirely anonymous with blacked-out windows or something sinister, but I’ve now been thinking: wheel bikes. Like General Grievous. Maybe?

Once all six of the House gangs have vehicles, what’s next? Will Enforcers get vehicles? Probably not, the lore has said that Enforcers don’t really go out into the Wastes. The motor pool is basically built on the Genestealer Cults range, so they’re okay. Chaos cults probably won’t have bespoke vehicles. What about the Corpse Grinders? They’re likely to stay in the Underhive too. That leaves us with the Ironhead Prospectors as a specific gang that doesn’t have their own vehicles, though – it’s possible that you could use some of the Votann vehicles in Necromunda, I’m specifically thinking of the Sagitaur buggy rather than the hover trikes or the land fortress, although the latter could well come into things.

I think Necromunda, more than any other game right now, is firing my imagination in so many different ways, and I just cannot wait to play it some more!

Some hobby updates (already)

Hey everybody,
We’re barely into the new year, and I’m already feeling productive when it comes to my hobby time. At the risk of repeating myself from last year, though, I’ve also been taking a bit of an inventory of my Genestealer Cultist models. I’ve been thinking about them a lot in the last week or so, as I was mainly wondering if I should try to commit to doing anything with the army in my hobby goals for the year. However, after spending a bit of time with the codex and all of my models earlier in the week, I have to say that I’m feeling a bit underwhelmed.

The 8th edition book had a lot of exciting things going on, which I have talked about before, and I thought it was really interesting to go through and see how I could construct my army around some of the units in there. However, this time around, it all just feels really flat, somehow. Like, GW are trying to really push you to use the army in a specific way. I don’t know if this is real, or if it’s just my imagined perception of things, but there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of stuff that you can do as Genestealer Cultists anymore. There were stratagems that could provide some wonderful buffs, as I’ve rambled on about endlessly, which have all been stripped away in favour of – well, I don’t really know what this is. True, some of the units have had buffs to their stat lines, from what I can tell, so you do actually get some good stuff going on there. But whereas a lot of the armies I play have got a lot of fun interactions and nice synergies, I don’t really see a lot of use for command points in this army besides the command re-roll. There’s very little that I would want to spend my points on, and it’s quite surprising, really.

At first, it had disappointed me and I was considering just shelving the cult until 10th edition came around. However, I think that’s a bit hasty, and just because the army wasn’t what I had thought it could be doesn’t mean that’s reason to ignore them. So I am currently in the process of drawing up another army list for my existing cultists, which will no doubt be the topic of a rambling blog in due course!

In the meantime, I’ve started to look at Necromunda vehicles rules, after building up the Goliath Maulers over the New Year weekend, and being thoroughly impressed with them. It’s difficult to not be impressed with the new Necromunda stuff, I find, so I suppose this was never really in doubt! The vehicle rules have so far been pretty spread-out, with rules in the main Ash Wastes rulebook, rules for creating your own vehicles (plus some standard templates) in Book of the Outlands, and then the Goliath and Escher vehicles in Cinderak Burning. I’m assuming that the next book in the Aranthian Succession campaign will have the rules for the Cawdor vehicles that we have seen previewed, as well, though things seem to have gone quiet on that front lately. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we have more news!

The vehicle rules in the Book of the Outlands are extremely impressive, and I must say they’re very comprehensive. Pretty much anything you would think you can do with a vehicle is represented across the 24 pages of rules. There is the usual stuff around actions that vehicles can take, conditions that vehicles can be subject to, how to attack, what happens if fighters are stood on top of vehicles, what happens if the crew loses control of the vehicle, collisions, and so much more. It’s the sort of thing that makes me want to just take a day to go through it all and work out how it all works.

Interestingly, I’ve also been looking at Genestealer Cultists for the Ash Wastes, as my basing scheme for those models is pretty much a desert wasteland, anyway. Excitingly, a lot of the Genestealer Cults vehicles have got templates in the Book of the Outlands, like the Wolfquad and the Goliath. I’ve had a brief look and my Ridgerunner for the Cult would set me back 365 credits with no upgrades, so it’s well within the 400 credit uplift that you get for spending on vehicles. Unfortunately, it seems that you can’t immediately populate it with Genestealer Cultists, as each vehicle needs crew, and we’ve not seen crew profiles for every gang yet. There are generic profiles for Scum Racers which means that someone can pop behind the wheel, but it does feel a bit of a shame that we haven’t got more yet, especially when we’re talking about the non-House gangs. Of course, everybody can use a “Waster’s Dirtbike”, which is basically the Atalan Jackal, so we’re good for that side of things, at least!

I’ve said this a lot, I know, but I am very excited by the Ash Wastes stuff. I think getting the Book of the Outlands for Christmas has really fired me up for more Necromunda, anyway, so hopefully I’ll get to play it soon and see if it lives up to the hype!