February 2023 retrospective

Hey everybody,
Well, February has been and gone, and it was about as long as January in the end, all told! At the start of the month, I wrote a blog where I outlined some of my priorities for the month, which mainly consisted of painting the Escher gang, and starting work on the Promethium Forge terrain kit. Well I am happy to say that both of these goals were achieved! In fairness, the Escher gang wasn’t that far off completion by the end of January, so it wasn’t a huge job to get them finished.

The Promethium Forge is a lovely kit, and I have really enjoyed working on it so far. Of course, there is a lot still to do with it, mainly the weathering on the main structure, but also there is a wealth of stuff to go up top, with all the railings and chimneys to still paint as well! I hope that it will be a really nice piece when it’s finished, anyway, and I do look forward to seeing how the table is going to look with three big Mechanicus structures on it!

I really like this terrain. Using one of the smaller Kill Team boards, you can make a really claustrophobic set-up that I think would work really well for Necromunda as well. Adding in stuff like the plasma conduits and the haemotrope reactor is just gravy, really! In the set-up above, I’ve tried to make sure these structures are connected to have something of a running walkway around the whole board, however there’s nothing to stop me having the three just stand-alone, and maybe connected via ladders or something. 

I’ve been playing around a lot with terrain this month, fiddling about with several layouts for the Zone Mortalis board, as well. I think I was having a bit of a problem with the fact that I’ve made three structures with stairs, but have no idea how to link them all up in such a way as makes sense. Well, I think I am possibly getting somewhere, the more I’m using it all as well. I think it’s key to get a good balance of open areas and the more narrow corridor type of set-up. Especially now that I’ve started to work on the Underhive Market terrain, as well! It makes sense from a gameplay perspective to have a bit more open areas to work within, after all, so hopefully I will be able to strike a bit of a balance with this, moving forward.

And as luck would have it, I was able to test some more layouts in a game of Necromunda at the weekend! James and I are playing a Law & Misrule campaign, mainly as he has moved away from Orlocks and started to work on Enforcers. I’m still with my Goliath for the time being, as I’m enjoying getting to understand how to play them effectively. We played the Experimental Stimms scenario from a recent White Dwarf, and I made out like an absolute bandit with XP and credits! I have a proper blog coming soon on the campaign, though, so keep an eye out for that!

Gaming has otherwise been pretty good this month – I’ve already chronicled how I’ve managed to reach my goals for playing Marvel Champions 10 times this year, but as you can see, I’m making good progress with other stuff, as well! Only one game remains to be played now, Eldritch Horror, so I need to crack on with that I think and play some of the bigger games in my collection! The issue I’m finding, though, is that I really enjoy Marvel Champions, and so it’s almost all I ever want to play! I’ve started a separate tally of how many games with that I’m playing, as I think it might be funny to see just how many games I get to by the end of the year. I think it’ll be close to 100, but we shall have to see!

You’ll see from the chart above that I’ve also chosen game 10 now, Necromunda. We’ve played one game each month so far, and I think the way we’re going, it’s going to be quite easy to get a good number of games under our belt this year as we play through the campaign. Speaking of campaigns, though, I’ve not really found myself all that interested by the Dunwich Legacy re-play, oddly enough. I don’t know if it’s just a matter of riding this Marvel wave or something else, but while I have everything set up and ready, I just can’t bring myself to try it. Well, we’ll see what next month brings.

I’ve also started to keep a tally of the games that I’m playing overall in the month, because as time goes on I think the 10×10 thing is going to be a bit superseded, if that makes sense. So for example, in January I played 20 games for the 10×10 thing, however I played 22 overall because I’m not counting 40k in the first count. In February, I played 21 games in total, but only 9 of them count towards the 10×10 because, among other things, I also played 11 games of Marvel Champions, but only 3 of them were in that 10×10 count. As you may be able to tell, I am a bit of a stats geek.

In addition to painting the Escher gang, I’ve also managed to paint up the Crisis Suit team for my Tau, a project that got a bit derailed almost twelve months ago. But they’re finished now, so I’m happy about that, although I definitely need to get some more brushes before I move on to painting other stuff, as all of mine are pretty much rubbish now! It’s been really good to be painting more Tau, I have to say, as I do enjoy that colour scheme, and it’s nice to see the army taking shape. Hopefully next month I can get a few more models painted, and keep chipping away at things slowly but steadily.

This brings me on to the modified version of Hobby Bingo 2023 that I’ve decided to play! You may have seen this in White Dwarf in recent years, where you have a 5×5 square of goals to tick off as the year goes on? I’ve decided to change some stuff up for the 2023 edition, as I don’t really play with Lords of War and the like, and have got my square ready to go! So far, then, I’ve ticked three boxes – I’m counting the Escher in this, although they aren’t a traditional unit per se, but also the Crisis Team and the Promethium Tanks from last month! So that’s all good stuff. It’ll be interesting to see how far I get with this, anyway!

I’ve spent a few evenings building the terrain from Into the Dark, and I have to say, it is quite beautiful! I’ve talked about this recently, of course, but I do like the clustered walls and corridors feel of this stuff. I had initially bought Into the Dark with an eye to getting two boxes of this terrain for Boarding Actions games, but subsequent Kill Team releases have saved me a lot of money by just not being available in the wild. We’ll see if the story changes with box four whenever that is due, but I think I might well end up being the proud owner of just a single box from this season of the game! I suppose it can still be used for Necromunda, though, even though I’m not playing Kill Team, so that’s no big deal.

In terms of reading stuff, February has seen me finally catching up with all of the books that I’d read in January but not published any reviews on. I’ve also read the fourth Witcher novel, Tower of the Swallow, ahead of all my comrades in arms (mainly because I’d got it out from the library prematurely!) There will be a review of that coming at some point, possibly when everybody else on the team has caught up, the way I’ve been lagging with my reviews so far this year!! Suffice it to say, though, I thought it was a very good book, going against the grain of a lot of reviews I’ve read for it since I finished reading.

March is so far shaping up to be a bit more Star Wars orientated, as I’ve been catching up with Andor, and obviously building towards another Star Wars Easter! The third season of the Mandalorian is due out from tomorrow, of course, so that should be fun. I’ve also been thinking a lot about re-reading the New Jedi Order series, something I don’t think I’ve ever done since I initially read the series as a teenager when they came out! Unlike last year’s Prequel re-read, though, I might not try to read them all in such a short space of time, which should in turn leave enough room for me to read other stuff as the fancy takes me. We shall see. But don’t be surprised if a post comes up soon enough about Vector Prime, I guess!!

The Dark Coil (part three)

Hey everybody,
After more than a year’s hiatus, I’ve found my way back to the Dark Coil series, and the novel Fire Caste. Peter Fehevari is without a doubt one of my favourite Black Library authors, and I had been looking forward to getting round to his debut novel for quite some time – to the point where I don’t really know why it took me this long to read it, if I’m honest!

While calling the Dark Coil a series is perhaps a bit of a misnomer, because they don’t really follow one another per se, but instead weave in and out and around each other, Fire Caste follows on from the short stories Out Caste, and A Sanctuary of Wyrms, set on the dense jungle planet of Phaedra. It’s not a death world per se, though nobody really understands why the Imperium and the Tau are so bent on possessing the planet given its lack of strategic value. The story is told through the 19th Arkan Confederates, a regiment of the Imperial Guard who are still haunted by the insurrection they have fought on their own home planet, and the Commissar Holt Iverson, a man haunted by the ghosts of his past in a very real way.

I think any type of synopsis just wouldn’t do this book justice, really. The story explores the haunted past of the Arkan Confederates, who are easily as well fleshed-out guardsmen as the Tanith First and Only, and takes quite a horror twist on the 41st millennium while doing so. We also have that situation mirrored in the current warzone of Phaedra, where the incumbent Guard regiment, the Lethean Penitents, have become corrupted by the world and the taint has seeped into their culture. It’s all just disturbing enough that it’s part-horror, not full. 

I’ve read many summaries of the book that have talked about how this novel is not a typical 40k story, and there are many layers to unfurl in a slow-burn narrative. It’s not your average Guard story, and it most certainly isn’t a Tau story, despite what you might think from the title. True, the Tau do feature, but the focus is really on the Guard regiments. There are a couple of set-piece battle scenes that are very enjoyable, starting with the Guard going up against Vespid Stingwings, then against the Kroot, and finally Sentinels vs Crisis Suits. Each of these scenes is quite wonderfully done, and shows the varying degrees to which the taint of Phaedra has affected each of the sides in the battle. The Tau auxiliaries fight more ferociously, the Guard themselves become almost deranged; it truly does show the horrors of war but seen through that tint of 40k good stuff.

Perhaps the most overt Tau scenes are those that feature the water caste diplomat O’Seishin as he attempts to convince Colonel Cutler of the merits of Tau philosophy. I do like the way that the Tau ideology is explored here, and how in many ways it does present almost the perfect counterpoint to the Imperial dogma. Maybe I’m just easily led, but you have to wonder why more Guard regiments don’t just switch sides more often!

For all that I liked it, though, I did actually find it quite hard going at times. I think it’s perhaps the prose – you can’t just sit down and have the story wash over you, you have to really concentrate on the narrative as it twists and turns around. It’s just beautiful, though, and a highly worthwhile read.

Years later, the war between the Tau and the Imperium had petered out, and reduced to skirmishes between the factions left. Abandoned might be a better term, for supplies had been withdrawn and both sides seemed to just leave Phaedra, along with whatever personnel were still on-world. The Adeptus Mechanicus of the Iron Diadem, a faction not really explored in the novel proper, take centre stage in this short story follow-up to Fire Caste, as we see more of the warriors of the Machine God and their side of the war with the Tau. 

Despite the conflict having tailed off to nothing, the Skitarii cohorts are tasked with a mission by the Magos Caul who has been in charge of the Iron Diadem facility, and so the forces of the Omnissiah storm the Tau stronghold within the Coil. There is a skirmish between the vessels of the Skitarii and a Hammerhead tank, after which the Skitarii begin to advance upon the Tau fortress, only to be the targets of a Broadside battlesuit. The Skitarii Alpha beings a quartet of Ironstrider Balistarii to bear, and the Tau respond with Crisis Suit backup. However, the Skitarii are still able to breach the fortress and a single trooper is able to achieve the mission objective, recovery of a human captive who himself appears close to death. The captive has an iron circlet around his head, and when he is taken to the Magos, all becomes clear.

The Iron Diadem is a void ship that requires a Navigator, and Caul has discovered such a mutant on-world. The man tells the Magos that his third eye was removed “for the Greater Good” and Caul, in anger, crushes the circlet, only to be instantly killed. The story ends with the Navigator’s simple admission, “I lied”.

I really liked this story, as well. I suppose that’s the theme with Peter Fehevari’s works, but he’s such a good author I can’t help but enjoy it. There are so many hints along the way, as we see the Tau/AdMech conflict from the side of the Skitarii, that you have to wonder just where the Magos got so much raw material for his cyborg army. One trooper shouts out “the Omnissiah condemns!” in a blatant call-back to the earlier novel, and one of the Ironstrider riders seems to recall a former life that might have been at the helm of a Sentinel. Something that I found particularly interesting was the fact the Skitarii Alpha muses that her face must be hideous as she is encased in a “puzzle box” mask. Did the Adeptus Mechanicus basically comb the battlefields of the earlier war, and reuse Tau and Guard casualties indiscriminately? Very interesting, and very grim-dark!

I don’t know what the Tau are protecting behind their bulwarks, but the scene inside the Phaedran temple, with bodies kept barely alive yet hooked up to some apparatus at the top of the structure was very horror-movie. I find myself hoping there is more to be read about Phaedra, as I want to know more about this stuff going on!

All in all, another thoroughly enjoyable read! 

I think there’s only the novel Requiem Infernal left to read now, though I could be wrong. I’m certainly hoping that Peter Fehevari continues to explore the Dark Coil for a long time to come!

Marvel Champions: the week in review

Hey everybody,
I’m trying something a bit new today, as I give a bit of a round-up on my week with playing Marvel Champions. Yes, I’m still playing this game like there’s no tomorrow! I’ve had some really good games this week, though, so wanted to write a blog that covered some of the specifics of those games, and not just scratching the surface with just a couple of lines, as I usually do! I’ve had five games of Marvel Champions this week, so let’s begin!

Marvel Champions

Green Goblin: Risky Business

This scenario includes double-sided villain cards, for Norman Osborne/Green Goblin, as well as the double-sided environment card, Criminal Enterprise/State of Madness. Norman Osborne cannot attack, instead you add a counter to Criminal Enterprise; any time he would take damage, you remove that many counters from Criminal Enterprise. If it ever clears, you flip to State of Madness, and flip Norman to his Green Goblin side. As a mirror, Green Goblin never schemes, but instead removes counters from State of Madness which, when clear, will flip back to Criminal Enterprise, and flip the Goblin to his Norman Osborne alter-ego.

Norman Osborne wants to stay in control, because that’s the way he’s going to complete his schemes and win. There are therefore plenty of cards in the deck that want to either put counters on Criminal Enterprise, or remove them from State of Madness. In fact, almost every card in the Risky Business encounter deck includes a boost effect of adding or removing, guaranteeing that this side of the game will keep moving, and preventing a free pass, as it were.

It’s a really great design, and has become one of my favourite scenarios to play due to the amount of movement that we see within the encounter deck. There are times when you think you’ve got enough damage to defeat the Green Goblin, and then an encounter card will force him to flip back to Norman Osborne, and so you have to remove all the counters from Risky Business again to get him back to the Goblin side.

The scenario pack comes with a second scenario, Mutagen Formula, which is pure Green Goblin and one that I still need to work towards playing. It also includes three modular encounter sets, featuring Scorpion, Electro and Tombstone as the starring minions, respectively. None of those is required for either of the scenarios in the pack, but it’s great to see them just keep including random stuff to help keep games interesting!

Marvel Champions


Ah, Sandman. How wrong I was about this scenario. There was an almost-accepted truth that the first scenario of any box would be the easiest, and they would scale proportionally as the campaign unfolds. Sinister Motives being the fourth expansion, I suppose they wanted to make things correspondingly more difficult, but I was still a bit naïve on my first play-through with this guy!

Sandman comes into play with a single-card main scheme that requires 9 threat per player to achieve (it enters play with 2 per player), and the environment card City Streets, which enters play with 4 sand counters on it. Sand counters? Well, whenever Sandman attacks, you add a counter to that card, and discard cards from the top of the encounter deck equal to the number of counters on City Streets. And that’s all there is to it. Initially, I was a bit like, that’s it? Well that isn’t very threatening! But no – I was forgetting that when the encounter deck runs out of cards, you shuffle up and go again but with an acceleration token in play.

Most of Sandman’s kit works around the City Streets environment card, and activating the effect on there – eight of his thirteen cards trigger it, most of them also adding sand counters as they do so. A player can exhaust a character to remove sand counters equal to that character’s ATK value once per round, so you can try to get things under control, but man is it difficult. As the game went on, I thought it pretty thematic how the ever-shifting encounter deck could quite easily represent the shifting sands of Sandman’s powers brought to bear. 

Now, he does bring two modular encounter sets, plus the Standard set, so the encounter deck is quite a decent size. You might be able to survive a couple of rounds at first, before the acceleration token is placed and things really start to get out of hand! Unfortunately, though, I hadn’t really realised what was going on at first, so in my opening turn I played a card that discarded from the encounter deck until I revealed a minion – and discarded almost half the deck to do so!

When I eventually managed to defeat the Sandman, I felt kinda exhausted, as there was a lot to try to keep track of. It was a definite challenge, however I don’t think it ever felt completely out of my reach to win, which is always nice in these games. The modular encounters were also interesting in this one, as we have one with our old friend Rhino as the star, and another that is full of common criminals, and which includes what I think might be the first Obligation card that we’ve seen that isn’t hero-specific. A really interesting design, as it seemed to reflect the generic drawbacks of being a superhero with family members who worry about them. I think I can see myself using that set in a few other games, for sure.

Marvel Champions

Rocket Racoon

I really like Rocket Racoon. I’ve already told this story here on the blog, but I had recently realised that I had enough card sleeves available to sleeve up Rocket’s deck, which I hadn’t thought was the case. I promptly sleeved his deck and took him for a spin against Absorbing Man, alongside Valkyrie, and had an absolute blast. He comes with an aggro deck, as does Valkyrie, so I’m surprised it worked so well, as when I have previously tried two heroes in the same aspect, it does seem to turn the game into a bit of a one-trick affair. 

The hero cards are of course where most of the individual character comes from. Rocket is mostly about weapons – or more specifically, tech. He has two pistols, a cannon and a rocket launcher in his kit, all of which function pretty much the same way, by removing tokens to deal damage. The cannon is interesting because it has Overkill, which we’ll come back to shortly. He also has a Cybernetic Skeleton which increases his hit points and attack, Thruster Boots which increase his thwart and give him the aerial trait, and two Battery Packs which allow you to move counters from there to replenish his guns. He also has two Reload events which allow him to ready his tech upgrades. Hero specific resource cards seem to be a rarity these days, but Rocket has two, which each grant two resources and allow you to move a tech upgrade from the discard pile to the top of the deck after use. He also gets a heal event, and rounding things out are two copies of I’ve Got A Plan, which allows Rocket to ready after making a basic thwart, and gives him +1 THW for the end of the phase. Combined with the Thruster Boots, he’s got the ability to thwart for 3, ready, then thwart for 4, which kinda screams a Justice build to me!

Rocket gets Aggro, however, and the subtheme of attacking minions. He gets three copies of Looking for Trouble, which searches out a minion from the encounter deck, then removes 3 threat from the main scheme. There are two copies of Relentless Assault which deals 5 damage to a minion and the chance to gain Overkill; three copies of Into the Fray which deals 6 damage to a minion and, for each point of excess damage, remove 1 threat from the main scheme, and three copies of Follow Through which increases excess damage by 1, which of course makes Into the Fray that much better. The combo takes 5 resources to pay for, however! He also gets two copies of Chase them Down, which removes 2 threat from a scheme when a minion is defeated. Rounding things out are three copies of Hand Cannon, another tech weapon that buffs Rocket’s ATK and grants Overkill.

The neutral cards in this deck are the usual resources, then we have a Groot ally that has a whopping 6 hit points, but takes 2 points of incidental damage when he attacks. However, if he defends an attack, you can heal 2 damage from him, so with the right kind of plays, he can stay around for a while. There is a team-up card that is effective only for the Groot hero in play, although it does allow you to place 2 counters on a tech upgrade and ready that upgrade as well. Then we have Booster Boots, another tech upgrade that prevents 1 damage.

It’s a pretty good deck, all told. There are maybe one or two cards I think I might take out or replace in the fullness of time. Another Chase them Down would be useful, although I would like to get in some Power of Aggression cards as some of the aggro events can be quite high-cost. However, on the whole it has been a really fun deck to play, and one that I have really enjoyed getting to know and use. I think the most interesting thing about it is how it blends the need to deal damage with the need to remove threat. Early on, I think that each aspect was quite clearly defined, but over time there has been some degree of blurring the lines, to allow for a single deck to cover more bases. Rocket manages to do this with his hero cards as well, so that he could comfortably sit in either aggro or justice, without too much thought going in for either build. It’s a great design for heroes, I think, to have that sort of innate flexibility.

Hopefully this has been an interesting read for you, anyway! I think I might do this sort of thing more often as time goes on, as I know a lot of my posts on Marvel Champions up to now have been pretty much in general terms. I’m also at that point now where I feel like I know the game a lot better, and it’s making for more interesting games. Of course, I’m still discovering the content, so there might well be a lot of these weekly round up style blogs to come!

Boarding Actions

Hey everybody,
After resisting this for a couple of months, I’ve finally begun to look into the new way to play games of 40k as laid out in the Arks of Omen: Abaddon book – Boarding Actions. This is a bit of a hybrid between Kill Team and regular 40k, as we have small teams (up to 500 points) going up against one another on the sprawling space hulks, fighting room-to-room to achieve their objectives. Whereas the Psychic Awakening event that brought 8th edition to a close was a pretty comprehensive overhaul of all the armies in the game, Arks of Omen isn’t intended to add to the rules bloat but rather seems to be going the opposite way of paring back the rules, providing a new way of playing games that makes use of the Kill Team scenery from the current cycle of boxes, which started with Into the Dark.

Boarding Actions

Boarding Actions require a bigger board, so you need two sets of this terrain to fill out a game board. It’s actually the news of this coming last autumn that prompted me to pick up Into the Dark, as I thought I would get it and one other box, then I’d have enough terrain to see me through. However, both of the subsequent boxes have proven to be extremely popular and have sold out before I could pick either up. As such, I was a bit dejected about the whole thing until I started to put the terrain together last week, and found myself enjoying the configurations I was making at random.

So you need two sets of terrain – just the walls with the columns and hatchways, none of the extra gribblies. GW have rather helpfully put out a box of this, which will set you back £130 to pick up. Next, you need the rules, which are in Arks of Omen: Abaddon. If you can find it, that’ll set you back £35 – it’s currently out of stock everywhere I look, however. It’s worth remembering that this is an adaptation of 40k, and not its own game like Kill Team, so you’ll also need your army, codex and the 40k rulebook. All of this is to say that for a small-scale skirmish game, Boarding Actions is actually extremely expensive to get into, unless you’re already into both 40k and Kill Team.

Boarding Actions

Once you’re in, you get 500 points to build a list from the fairly restrictive FOC of 0-1 HQ, 0-3 Troops, and 0-3 Elites. No Monsters, no Vehicles, not Jump, Cavalry or Biker units, and nothing that can fly. You can also only take one Character. I love this idea, because it is pretty much based on how I view a lot of my army builds: troops, their leader, and maybe one fancy group. GW have released a free pdf that runs through how each army can tweak these rules, for example Tau can take a unit of Pathfinders even though they’re Fast Attack, and can take drones even though they can Fly. It’s a great way to bring balance to the game at a small scale, while also allowing for some very narrative-focused squads.

Interestingly, there are no stratagems. Well, there are the core three (command re-roll, etc), but that’s it. There are no warlord traits or relics, instead we get Boarding Enhancements for a warlord. There is a part of me that wonders whether this might be testing the waters a little for the anticipated 10th edition, although I don’t suppose the timing is right, given that this was probably in development for some time. Even so, it’s interesting to see how they have changed the game up to make quite a thematic experience for the cramped confines of a space hulk or orbital station.

Boarding Actions

Everything that I’ve read about Boarding Actions has been pretty positive so far, which is quite nice to see in this day and age! The one negative is, of course, the investment. For a 40k player, you need to stump up £165 for the terrain and book; for someone looking to get into the hobby, they’ll also need models and codex, so it isn’t a cheap way to play the game. I’d principally bought the Kill Team box for this, as I said, but have swung back to thinking of it as a Necromunda thing instead (not playing Kill Team), but now that I’ve read up a bit more, and having built up the stuff, I think I would like to try to realise my goals of getting the second set of terrain to try out some of these missions. Future Arks of Omen books look like they’re going to provide Boarding Actions-specific stuff so that the game mode is somewhat supported, although it will be interesting to see how it translates with 10th edition on the way. I highly suspect that this will be forgotten about in the wake of the new edition, but I do hope I’m wrong on that.

The fact that the rulebook for this is out of stock does bother me, though. With the Kill Team boxes being snapped up so damn quickly, I was initially miffed but it seemed that the second box was at least being bought up by people for the Kasrkin team, and very little thought was being given to the rest of it. The Arbites are also a great looking team, and I think people have potentially done the same with that. However, there are also the persistent and loud rumours that these boxes are not being made in any great quantities, which is very strange. I get that content we’re seeing released now was in development during the pandemic, and so there might be issues as a result of that, but it seems that there are supply chain problems and warehousing issues that mean we’ve got these ridiculously small releases. How true any of this is, I don’t know, but at least my wallet can breathe a sigh of relief while these things aren’t available to buy!!

Boarding Actions

As much as I’d like an Arbites kill team, I think I’m just going to have to wait for now, until everything settles down. I might pick up the box of extra terrain bits though, as that looks really nice. And it should still go in with my current batch of terrain!

Some musings on Marvel Champions

Hey everybody,
Yes, that’s right, I’m prattling on again about Marvel Champions in today’s game day blog! That’s mainly because it has very quickly become my go-to game when I want to just have some tabletop fun, and it’s so enjoyable that I find myself looking forward to any spare time that I have in which to play it! Yesterday I was able to get a couple of games in, and that got me thinking about the subject of today’s blog.

Some Things I love about the game

While there are definitely more than just a few things that I love about this game, let’s go through some of the things that have most recently brought me joy!

Marvel Champions

Yesterday, I discovered that I had enough sleeves hanging about that I could sleeve up Rocket Racoon, which was a real joy because I hadn’t realised I could do this! I promptly did so, and played a game with him and Valkyrie, who I had picked up (and sleeved up) shortly before Christmas. Rocket comes with an aggro deck, and I was playing this as it comes, and had quite a blast. I was particularly impressed by the fact I was able to use my hand each turn, so was seeing quite a bit of the deck. However, while all of this is good stuff, I love the fact that Rocket is a great mix of aggo and thwarting, with a lot of his hero-specific cards buffing his THW value, and so on. Yeah, he’s got a lot of guns, of course, but he also has a lot of threat removal, and it was a really great gameplay experience to have that blend right out of the box. A lot of the stuff I had read about Rocket talked about how much he likes to fight Minions, which is also true, but it really surprised me to see how effective he could be! 

Indeed, one of the best things about this game is how you can just buy a hero pack, and (on the whole) play it without needing to deck-build for ages. True, there are some that have some issues, but nothing I have come across so far is “unplayable”. Take, for instance, the aforementioned Valkyrie – her deck has been much maligned by a lot of the stuff I see online, yet she was quite fun to play! Whether that’s because I was playing her with Rocket against Absorbing Man, who isn’t one of the most difficult villains in the game, who knows. But she’s the perfect example of needing to try these things for yourself (though the irony of me writing this online is not lost on me!) After going through a bit of a phase, early on, where I wanted to build my own decks all the time, I have come to the realisation now that a lot of the hero decks are absolutely fine right out of the box.

Marvel Champions

Some Things I still find a bit odd

I’ve talked before about the main thing that I find odd about this game, its distribution model, but let’s not get bogged down in that again. Rather, I thought I’d go through some stuff that I find just a little odd.

First off, the game can sometimes fall a bit flat right at the end. When playing a game of Marvel Champions, you choose your hero and go up against a villain, and for the whole game you’re fighting against them, so there isn’t really any sense of progressing through minions until you fight the big bad guy. As you’re dealing damage throughout the game, when you deal the final blow for victory, it can sometimes be a bit anti-climactic, as you’re teetering on the brink of death, you’ve survived yet another activation from the villain, but then bam – you play a card that deals 7 damage to him and it’s just over. Or sometimes, I’ve actually been able to have a single point of damage dealt by an ally that has caused the villain’s defeat. Rarely, the villain will be defeated through something like Retaliate, or a card effect that can bounce damage back or something. It can be hilarious, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes, it’s just a bit odd – like, “is that it?”

Marvel Champions

I think it’s a bit weird how every hero comes with their nemesis set, and yet there is only one card in the whole game (so far as I know!) that can bring that set to bear. I’ve played this game upwards of 40 times now, and have only ever seen a hero’s nemesis enter the game twice, which is just a bit weird really. In the vast majority of my games, those five cards are just sat there, and never come into play.

I think The Hood scenario pack was a great way to introduce more modular sets to the game, and I do like the fact that some heroes also come with modular sets to use as well. I do find myself thinking about whether we could see alternative encounter sets for the existing villains, though, too. I really don’t know how that would ever work, maybe instead of the modular encounter sets there would be an “expansion set” that basically doubles a villain’s deck, working off the established theme in there? I don’t know. Part of me does feel that the villains are too closely tied to their schemes, which has closed off an avenue of expansion there – is Rhino only ever trying to break into that bank? Sabretooth’s sole purpose in life was to capture Senator Kelly? Seems a bit weird, like there should be a way to have them do something else, and change it up. But I could be over-thinking it!

Marvel Champions


Some Things I would like to see next

I’ve been seeing a lot of panic online because we’ve not yet had a preview for the next expansion after the latest X-Men wave has concluded, with folks thinking the game must be dying or there are licensing issues preventing FFG from continuing the game. I hope that’s all wrong, and I hope that they’re actually just pacing themselves for a bit (given that the X-Men stuff would have been designed mid-pandemic, and so it’s entirely plausible that they need to regroup). During the GenCon live stream, they did say that the next three waves would be mutant-based, so I think we can be pretty sure it’s safe for now.

I’m a big fan of the X-Men, but I find myself thinking of this more as a game than a thematic experience, so while I do enjoy the variety of heroes and villains, I can’t really say that “I hope they do my favourites!” because I don’t really feel all that strongly about the source material! 

That said, I really would like a Daredevil/Elektra cycle of stuff, with the Kingpin as a villain.

Marvel Champions

However, in terms of gameplay, I do find myself often wanting more variety in the villains than the heroes. I think I’ve touched on this before, but for me, “the game” is mainly around the villain, as that is where most of the actual playability comes into it. The heroes are cool and all, but we need the villains to give us the changing experience. Imagine going up against Rhino/Klaw/Ultron with all of the released heroes to date, it would just be mind-numbing. A lot of my thought process when I decide to play this game is around which villain to play, because I see that as the main thrust of the game. As such, I think I would like to see more scenario packs released, potentially even a campaign box with all-villains.


Anyway, those are just a few random thoughts from my most recent games with Marvel Champions. Like I said before, it’s fast becoming my go-to game, and I’ve already exceeded my goal of playing 10 times in 2023. I’m sure there’ll be plenty more games before the year is out, as well!

A Quiet Week

Hey everybody,
It’s been a bit of a quiet week for me this last week, despite having had such high hopes for playing lots of games! I was under the weather for most of the week too (I lost my voice entirely on Thursday), but fortunately that seems to be receding into the background now. I had three evenings to myself this week, and so had planned for some serious gaming, but in the end I only managed to play a couple of things at the start of the week! Of course, it’s always exciting when you can play a big game like Arkham Horror, but still, I had hoped for more!

A Quiet Week

My love of Marvel Champions has continued unabated recently, as I picked up some more packs from the most recent X-Men wave. I have no idea who this Mojo is, but I’ve been reading some good things about the scenario pack, so decided almost on a whim to pick it up. I’d wanted Phoenix for a while as well, so finally added her to the collection too. I’ve now got Phoenix and Colossus sleeved up, as well as Quicksilver, so I have quite a few more mutant heroes to try out in due course. I’m very tempted to pick up Wolverine next time I’m at the games shop as well, although I really should be a bit more circumspect as there is just so much of this game that I still haven’t played yet!

A Quiet Week

I think in my last post, I mentioned playing Lord of the Rings LCG once again, and have started on the Ringmaker cycle. The first pack in that cycle, The Dunland Trap, is where the wheels really came off for me when I was buying and playing this game way back in 2014, and I was so disenchanted by the game at that point that I stopped playing it anywhere near so regularly (although of course I continued to buy it all). Consequently, this cycle feels really new to me. Well, I did actually play The Dunland Trap again yesterday, and my goodness me, it was dull. I can see where it is just brutal, and demoralising, but playing two-handed I was able to deal with most of the encounter deck well enough, until we got to the final stage. The Dunlending chief came out and engaged me, and I was able to throw enough spare allies under that bus that my heroes were safe. (In the final stage, if a hero leaves play, we lose). However, the chief cannot leave play, but the quest has no quest points – you’re basically forced to wait out a 10-turn timer to see if you win. In the meantime, my heroes had killed the chief at least four times over, and I just grew bored with it and decided to abandon the game. The first time I’ve ever done this, and I can’t say I feel that great about it! But whereas the game had, up to that point, been quite exciting, the tension was just wiped away entirely by the boredom of this mechanical situation I was in. Such a disappointment.

I’ve read that the next pack, The Three Trials, is as difficult, then the quests become easier, so I am interested to see how that all plays out!

Anyway. What else has been going on?


I’ve started to watch Andor again, picking up from where I left off last October or November. I had watched up to episode 6 at the time, but life just overtook me, and I was just not in the mood, really, to pick it up again. Well, I watched episode 7 and was pleasantly on the hook once more, so I’m looking forward to getting through this season soon! I have lots more to say about this, for sure, but I think what appeals to me the most here is how much like Star Wars it feels, from back in the 90s almost. Indeed, I think there’s almost the tone of a West End Games supplement to part of the adventure, and I really love it!

A Quiet Week

While watching, I finally started to build up the terrain from Into the Dark. I’ve actually come to really like this stuff, too. It doesn’t always go together smoothly, but then I don’t really think I’ve bought it to play Kill Team with, after all. I haven’t glued everything together, of course, but I have found it really enjoyable to put together various “structures” that will serve to make a board, if that makes sense? I’m keeping it modular, though, so I can change things up if need be. I had initially decided to buy the box because of the Boarding Actions thing for regular 40k, planning to get another one and then I should theoretically have enough terrain for that. However, both the subsequent boxes have sold out well before I was in a position to buy them, so I have soured a little on this idea now. Of course, there’s still the fourth box on the horizon, so I might yet pick that up in the fullness of time. It’s a shame, though, as I did like the look of the Arbites box!

I’ll hopefully have a blog on Boarding Actions coming up soon, because I’ve been looking into that side of things lately and it has definitely appealed to me!

A Quiet Week

In terms of checking-in on my goals for the month, I have actually been hard at work on the Promethium Forge terrain kit, trying to get a good start there. I hadn’t expected to finish this in February, of course, but I am nevertheless pleased with how it’s been going so far! I have had a lot of back-and-forth with myself on how to actually have it set up: the “official” kit is the tank and chimney piece with a central surround, very similar to the “official” Galvanic Magnavent, however I went for the “alternate” build from the back of the box, which shows the piece as being much wider, as I thought it would be more imposing that way. However, when built in this way, the legs are positioned differently to allow for the skull crane to sit on one end of the gantry; when I built it, I put the legs on the ends thinking it would provide more support. Bah! So I’ve been working on a solution but I’m not very happy with it at the moment. Never mind – I just need to progress with the painting now, and hope for the best!

I’ve also been through my terrain box and have sorted all of the panels out for the kit, so I have the right number of ladders, panels and hanging bits for it. In doing so, I realised that I’d not actually painted any of them for the Ferratonic Incinerator back in the day, so I now have those to get through as well! Ah well, at least when this is all finished, I’ll have three good-looking terrain pieces to play games over!

Back to Middle Earth

I have recently been yearning for more Lord of the Rings LCG in my life, I think perhaps since I achieved the ten games of Marvel Champions last week. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still planning to play more of that game soon, as well, but I’ve kinda found myself focusing on the next game to get to ten with.

There is a lot of Lord of the Rings LCG that I actually haven’t played, with at least three full cycles that are completely new to me. I’ve had it since release, of course, I’ve just not actually played it. Having so many scenarios available for the older game, you’d think that the choice would really inspire me, but I do find myself thinking that I really ought to play some of these cycles in order. I talked about this kind of thing last year, but even though the “campaign” in Lord of the Rings is barely present, I find it difficult to even think about playing some scenarios out of the context of their cycle.

However, as I said, far too much of this game has been going unplayed, and I think I need a new approach to it. I am still invested in my efforts with the Angmar Awakened cycle, so I’m planning to finish that up before too long, and I’ve also got the Vengeance of Mordor cycle waiting for me, which I’m somewhat thinking will be treated as much of a campaign.

Lord of the Rings

But when I think back to my history playing this game, I wouldn’t keep to strictly the same heroes/deck as I played the new adventure packs; I would cheerfully swap out entire decks while having my play-through. I have also really enjoyed the game by using a single deck against just two or three scenarios in a sort of mini-campaign, cherry-picking my favourites from a cycle to go up against again. I liked playing it that way, and I think that it worked really well for me at the time. Interestingly, that is kinda what I’m doing now with Marvel Champions, although I’m not exactly playing the campaign itself, I am nevertheless using any old hero combo as I go up against the villains.

I’ve had two games with Lord of the Rings LCG recently that have been sort of along these lines – I took Boromir and Faramir decks through The Long Dark, which was a lot more difficult than I remembered, and Aragorn and Faramir then went through The Fords of Isen, although I’ve since thought I might replace Aragorn in that deck with Elrohir, which should make for an interesting deck-pairing for the future.

Lord of the Rings

The Ringmaker cycle was where the magic seemed to stop for me, unfortunately, and so while I’ve played up to The Dunland Trap, pretty much everything thereafter is uncharted territory. I did used to play true solo though, and so now that I’m playing two-handed I think I should fare much better. I’m therefore excited to investigate further into the cycle, and see what I’ve been missing out on for all these years, but I also think that these decks could well be swapped around as I go. I think I’ve got about 7 decks built up for the game so far, so I have plenty of variety to keep things fresh on that front, as well.

In short, I’m once more really enjoying myself in Tolkien’s land. I’m looking forward to trying out some of the “new” quests while also potentially taking these decks through some of the older scenarios, too. I’m already thinking of minor tweaks to the decks, too, which will make things even more interesting as we go. I’m really looking forward to it, anyway!

Lord of the Rings

Zone Mortalis board

In case you weren’t aware already, I am a very big fan of Necromunda. I’m a huge fan of the lore, and I really enjoy the overall aesthetic of the game. I also really like the rules, no matter how complicated I sometimes feel they can be. However, one of the biggest draws for me is the look of a game. I’m not just talking about the models in isolation here, but there’s something just wonderful about seeing a table set up for a game of Necromunda, with the classic multi-layered zone mortalis being a particular favourite.

Now, you may also be aware that I have an ungodly amount of miniatures in my collection, including literal boxes full of terrain. It’s often something that I’ve thought of as a distinct luxury, as I don’t actually host any games at my place, due to the lack of suitable space. However, when I’ve got the Sector Mechanicus stuff out, or indeed the Zone Mortalis pieces, it all just looks so superb, and I can’t help but feel excited for playing within the 40k universe.

However, I’ve recently been feeling like my Zone Mortalis stuff in particular has been a bit of a drain, because of the fact that it’s too modular. It can sometimes be a mini-game in itself trying to put all of the pieces together into an actual board to play on. To that end, I’ve been keen to try to explore set-ups, thinking about ways in which I can combine the pieces that I have to create awesome-looking game boards.

The terrain that I have is not really a massive collection; it’s just one Dark Uprising set, one Hive War set, and just a few bits (mainly stairs) from a platforms & stairs box. On a 3×2 board layout, it often looks quite spare, but on a 2×2 board it has interestingly struck me as being too much! I had initially hoped that the 2×2 would force a little more vertical movement, but whether it’s the way in which I’ve built the platforms or something, I have been struck by how bland the set-up has turned out!

Zone Mortalis

To start with, I’ve gone high with all the platform elements, creating a bit of a look-out tower as the stairs keep going up. It’s certainly interesting, but having everything in one place like this does seem to have resulted in the rest of the board being very flat, somehow.

Zone Mortalis

I think a big problem that I’ve given myself here is the big staircase piece. In many ways it dominates the battlefield, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. If I had a big, multi-tiered board, then it would perhaps have made a little more sense, but unfortunately my desire to recreate something that I’ve seen in the source books has led to having a piece of terrain that is actually quite useless!

Zone Mortalis

At least the barricades have been able to lend a bit to making the rest of the board more sectioned in this configuration, and I don’t lose too much for not having enough walls, etc!

I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on the big staircase, though, as it does sometimes play an interesting part to the proceedings! However, you can see again in the above shots, having the big piece does lead to a bit of an imbalance across the table, with the interesting stuff on one end and the rest of it being a bit flat and boring.

Interestingly, when you look back at the photos linked at the top of this post, with the Gang Stronghold on the table, things look a whole lot more balanced overall.

Zone Mortalis

The second configuration that I’ve tried is this, with the vertical element much more confined to just one elevation off the board. There are a couple of “tower” elements of course, but in the main I’m only looking at the ground floor and up one level. To be honest, I think I much prefer this one as it has much more of an area to it, and it doesn’t feel like quite so much a gimmick to have that sort of slim tower thing going on as in the first one. It had enough open space, but also it has a lot of confined areas to make the board feel more like a zone mortalis thing.

Zone Mortalis

Something that I think I worry too much about is the logic of the terrain, as in here I keep looking at it thinking, why bother with all those blast doors if the platform just allows fighters to walk up and over the wall? But I suppose the principle concern when setting up a battlefield is to make things interesting to fight over…

I do have most of the platform elements from the platforms & staircases kit left over, and something that I’ve been quite keen to do recently is make a kind of bridge walkway piece, which I think could look interesting if used to create a space to move on an upper level, rather than just the first floor. I don’t really think anything lower than the second floor would have the same effect, but this does circle back to the idea of needing a plan in mind for how some terrain elements would normally work. It’s all well and good having so much modularity, of course, but I think there does need to be some thought given to how it all goes together, rather than spending ages before a game trying to figure things out!

So I’m kinda thinking there could be two principle stair/platform sections, then each one goes up another level, and they are joined at the second floor by a bridge walkway. Potentially…

Zone Mortalis

This was one of the first attempts I made to create a layout with everything after I had first constructed the big staircase piece, and it looks a bit silly to see it now, with that odd tower in the middle there! I don’t know what I was trying to do there, beyond perhaps just using all the pieces! It’s interesting, though, to see the double-height wall, which is something that I haven’t really done a lot of. I think it’s possible that I would do more of that if I were intentionally building a table, and was aiming for a whole other floor to the board. For the more regular games, though, it’s not really something I imagine I’ll be doing a lot.

Zone Mortalis

I think this really does show the main issue that arises from that staircase, though, in that it just doesn’t really go anywhere. The upper level ends too abruptly, really, so I’m left wondering if I should look into creating something more to that, to give the structure a point? Or would that just be doubling-down when I should instead look at doing something else?

Maybe the staircase could be used in a blend of Zone Mortalis and Sector Mechanicus, as it would be about half the height of those large structures, and so could feasibly lead onto the gantries there? Hm, some more thought needed, I think…

Of course, it’s not all about creating cramped corridors, either, as I need at least one big open space for my Underhive Market! I started to build this kit earlier in the week, after having it for Christmas a few years back, and I still can’t quite believe it’s actually a thing! Black Friday sales have nothing on the retail wars of the Underhive, I’m sure!!

More 10th edition rumours

Hey everybody,
I may be out of the loop, but this morning I seem to have woken up to the latest round of rumours about the tenth edition of Warhammer 40k. Now, I talked about this a while back, and it’s interesting to see how some of these rumours are different, yet others seem to be an elaboration upon the earlier set. What I think is a pretty safe bet is that tenth edition is coming this summer – 40k itself reaches the grand old age of 40 in 2023, and in the UK we even have a commemorative set of stamps being released to mark the occasion (how very British). 40k appears to be on a three-year cycle for releases, and given that ninth edition landed in July 2020, after eighth edition was launched in July 2017, that certainly lines up for a summer 2023 date. It’s disappointing that the edition was launched during a period of international lockdown, which continued off-and-on for almost two years. Given the restrictions on meeting with people, you’d think that the edition would have been given a longer life to compensate, but clearly the shareholders need their dividends.

We’ve also got the ongoing Arks of Omen narrative, a series of books accompanied by major model releases. Eighth edition had the Gathering Storm books released in the lead-up, which included such models as Belisarius Cawl and Roboute Guilliman, and eighth-into-ninth had the Psychic Awakening phenomenon, which saw, among other things, the AdMech range get a huge injection of models.

I think it’s pretty clear that the writing is on the wall, and tenth edition is coming over the hill. So let’s see what these rumours are saying this time!

To begin with, Lion el’Jonson is going to have a model. Well, a plastic loyalist primarch has been expected pretty much since 2017’s Guilliman came out, and especially now that we’ve got three plastic traitor primarchs on the loose, it makes sense to bolster the loyalist ranks. The Lion also makes the most sense because the Dark Angels are the loyalist legion with a distinct model range and a plausible reason in the lore for him to come back. Much like Guilliman was merely in stasis, so is the Lion, although there have been significant hints dropped in the last 3-4 years that he has also woken up. Unfortunately for the Blood Angels, Sanguinius is very much dead, and the fact that the legion was afflicted by the Black Rage because of his death, I don’t see how they can feasibly retcon the fact that Sanguinius died so that the Emperor could defeat Horus. Of course, we’re seeing the Heresy series brought to a close now that the Siege of Terra books are getting closer and closer to these pivotal moments in the lore, so things may well change, but even so. Sanguinius has been dead forever, really, and I think it cheapens the lore to miraculously bring him back.

The Space Wolves are the only other range-specific marines, but Leman Russ is off doing his King Arthur impression, and will nebulously return at the Wolf Time, or whatever. Unlike the Lion, we don’t have the lead-in within the lore for Russ to come back, I would say. Other legions like the Raven Guard and White Scars have their primarchs off brooding or fighting in the webway, and could well be brought back but they don’t perhaps have the same cache as the primarch of a legion with dedicated models. I would love to have Jaghatai Khan come back, covered in glory from spending 10,000 years fighting Dark Eldar, but unfortunately I think he’s more of an outlier.

But you never know!

The most persistent rumour has been that the starter box will be marines vs Tyranids, with the bugs getting a range refresh to rival the Necrons from the last edition. I do like the idea that GW are using an edition launch box to refresh a range, and while it has always been a toss-up between the bugs and the eldar needing a range refresh, it should be interesting to see what they come out with. Indomitus gave us a lot of new Necron units without really replacing or retiring many of the old ones, though I suppose that’s partly because the Necron plastics still hold up very well. The big plastic kit for the Tyranids is being called an Apex Swarmlord, which is interesting – there were all sorts of rumours about big bugs coming out, whether these will still hold true will remain to be seen, though. It does make me wonder what might be getting refreshed from the range – many people are expecting new Genestealers, for example, and I think some of the finecast stuff can be expected to be either replaced or re-imagined as plastic. 

In terms of the rules, we’ve had some fairly controversial news today as regards the Toughness attribute being removed from regular infantry, only remaining on the heavy stuff and vehicles. It seems an Age of Sigmar style mechanic will be adopted, with models rolling to hit, rolling to wound, then the target rolling to save. Of course, it doesn’t practically change how things work now – that’s still what you do, after all. But given that the to-wound mechanic was simplified in eighth edition and, I feel, works really well, I don’t see why this is being done. It’s also a bit odd because it’s how other games like Necromunda work, but I suppose that isn’t very important in the scheme of things.

So while I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s going to really break the game or anything.

Another big thing is how stratagems, objectives and army building is going to be re-worked. Now, I’ve talked about this before as well, but I’m not a big fan of the insane rules bloat of ninth edition. When JP and I play a game, it’s using the codex of our armies, and the rulebook. Stuff like the grand tournament packs, the narrative supplements, even the balance dataslate, all gets ignored in favour of just a streamlined version of the game. It’s still a deep game, with a lot of moving parts, but it’s a lot easier to track because we know what we’re doing. I also think it helps that we’re not stupid people trying to destroy each other’s toy soldiers, though JP just happens to do that anyway!

The scoring system for the game can be very confusing, and I’ve read a lot online about this stuff recently, particularly after the challenges at the Las Vegas Open. I tend to agree that having the mission objective, plus three secondary objectives each, potentially all of which get scored at various intervals, can be a bit silly to keep track of. To add to that, though, I read a very interesting and valid point that it doesn’t make sense that your army has four separate objectives to track during a battle. Why can’t you just play a game and have a clear objective in mind? Or just one secondary objective to deal with, as well? And why are army specific secondary objectives so uneven? They should all give the same number of points – if it’s a physical impossibility to win against marines because their objectives give 5 victory points per round, but mine only give 2 or less, how am I going to win? I have to deny the opponent while also trying to secure my own, which gives me yet more to do during the game. It feels too imbalanced. Balance is probably a myth, of course, but if I simply can’t win, why am I even turning up to play?

I saw something about re-working command points a few weeks ago that made me think. The idea is that you still get a pool of points to work with, but these are spent on upgrades for your army, such as additional relics or warlord traits, then upgrading units (the example used was a space marine captain to a chapter master, but I could see it as kabalite warriors to kabalite trueborn, as well), and then for triggering effects based on your chapter/whatever. So each “chapter tactic” has an army-wide effect, then you can pay to buff it, or use a super-effect, or to issue leadership buffs a bit like a command aura. So stratagems are broken down into upgrades, leadership, and strategy. It was quite interesting, I thought, because it really makes them live up to the name of command points, like you’re paying for a command, or something. It makes sense, although part of me does think this is perhaps how the idea started out in eighth edition, and it became a monster because GW felt under pressure to provide increasingly new and interesting things upon which to lavish your command points.

I have had the whinge before about units whose special ability has been removed and turned into a stratagem, almost as if the designers couldn’t think of enough stratagems for the army so started pruning the datasheets to get inspiration. Makes no sense to me – command points should be more flexible. I would rather have a single page, with stratagems that I could use no matter how my army had been built, than to have half a dozen “dead” stratagems because I don’t own a Monolith, for example. (And no, GW, I’m not going to buy one just to use those special effects. Put the rules back on the datasheet and be done with!)

In principle, I don’t really have much of an issue with supplemental books like the War Zone: wherever books that have come out during ninth edition, and I think it’s nice to see the designers explore things in these books like units in reserve doing shadow ops stuff, or whatever. I am opposed to the fact they were used as a balancing tool to give some armies a buff through their codex supplements, when the books themselves were then not available to buy despite GW saying their content was still legal for use in games. I would like to have a book that has missions to play through, maybe even some special rules specific to the warzone we’re fighting in, like atmospherics and stuff. By all means put warzone specific stratagems in there, if it makes sense, but make sure people can buy that book! This whole situation created such an imbalance in what different players were trying to do, and it is the principal reason why JP and I have retreated to just using the codex, and forgetting about pretty much everything else. I realise that I’m doing myself down on that front, as I believe the Cult of Stife codex supplement made Drukhari Wych Cults an amazing addition to the game, but given that I couldn’t actually buy the book to make that judgment for myself, what else could be done? 

It all seems to boil down to matched play being tailored specifically for the tournament chasing crowd, whereas in reality the game doesn’t need official updates all of the time. Why not let the TO deal with some of this stuff, rather than making everybody who plays 40k feel like they need to get all this additional stuff? Ah yes, money. Well, I guess it’s moot, because I can’t buy the books anyway!

I realise I’m beginning to sound super salty here, and need to calm down! I suppose I’m just really disappointed that the more casual-regular players like myself, who might only get in a handful of games in a year due to the responsibilities of real life among other things, can’t actually play about two-thirds of this game because of the way things are being handled.

No matter what happens to toughness, or the Lion and his plastic model, and whatever they decide to do with command points and stratagems, I just hope that tenth edition is an enjoyable game that can actually be played, without forever chasing after stuff.

Marvel Champions: mission accomplished

Hey everybody,
Today’s game day is really a celebration of the fact that I have now completed my goal of playing ten games of Marvel Champions this year. Unsurprisingly, given the recent spate of playing in January, it wasn’t too long before I hit my goal! The game is just so nice and straightforward to play, it really is very easy to get it to the table!

In the main, I’ve been playing with both the Red Skull and the X-Men campaign expansions – although I haven’t been playing them as a campaign. I’ve made it to game four (Zola) in the Red Skull box, and the Sentinels in the X-Men (playing Sabretooth twice). It’s been a lot of fun, and I think I’ve gotten into a bit of a flow with it now, where I have some go-to heroes that I enjoy playing and so simply shuffle up and play!

Marvel Champions

The Red Skull box has been just great. I’ve been playing this with Hawkeye and Black Widow, with their pre-con decks, and it’s been an absolute blast. Of the four, I think Crossbones was definitely one of my favourites to go up against – indeed, he’s one of my all-time favourite enemies to play against, based on how that game went! Absorbing Man was a bit lacklustre, though I think it could be different based on different modular encounter sets and so on, and I think it would be interesting to go up against him again.

Taskmaster was probably one of the more disappointing scenarios, I think because I didn’t trigger enough of what makes the scenario stand out (rescuing allies). I think that would definitely bear playing again, to see if it will work out differently for me. Finally, I went up against Zola yesterday and, while I had read some horror stories about him online, I didn’t think he was quite so bad as I had perhaps been led to believe. There are so many more minions than I have seen of late, of course, and it was interesting that he has Retaliate 1, meaning that most allies were dying off after just a couple of rounds of attacking him. However, it was still a good game to play against him, I didn’t really feel like it was a nightmare running away with me at any time.

Marvel Champions

In terms of the X-Men box, I thought that Sabretooth was a bit messy at times, but the Sentinels scenario was just incredible! I have already mentioned this in my January retrospective, but I cannot stress just how enjoyable it was to play this one – it wasn’t easy, of course, and it was at times quite awful, but it just felt like how I would expect an X-Men scenario to play. There were some especially cinematic moments around Sentinel minions popping up, and Cyclops getting marked for death and so on.

Marvel Champions

I had a huge influx of Marvel Champions content in December, of course, but I have still picked up a few extra bits since! Last week, I bought The Hood scenario pack, mainly because I’d gone into my local games shop looking for the Phoenix hero pack and she wasn’t in stock! However, The Hood is one of those interesting expansions to a game whereby the designers do something a little different to the norm, and it was wriggling around at the back of my mind about picking him up sooner rather than later. The “gimmick” with the pack is that he has nine new modular encounter sets, plus alternative sets for Standard and Expert which crank up the difficulty of each. While these new modular sets are all themed roughly around the Street Level heroes within the Marvel universe, with a very loose Criminal theme tying them together, they’re still independent enough that they could be slotted into any other scenario in the game.

The Hood himself uses up to seven of them, although he only starts play with one shuffled into his deck, and each villain stage shuffles one more in. I think the main scheme shuffles more in as it advances, too, though I was able to stay on stage 1B for the whole game, so I didn’t trigger that. He actually makes for quite an interesting game, though, because his “thing” is the Foul Play mechanic, where you discard the top of the encounter deck and, if that card isn’t part of The Hood’s own scenario, you deal it to yourself as an encounter card. There are numerous ways to trigger this during the game, and so I think I easily saw the whole deck almost twice. I used Crossfire’s Crew as the modular set shuffled in at the start, then when I defeated the first villain stage I shuffled in Streets of Mayhem, which is a nice set of environments that simply add effects like Retaliate 1, +1 attack, Steady, etc. They’re global effects, but they do also have Surge, so there can sometimes be a lot going on with him!

Marvel Champions

I definitely enjoyed trying him out, anyway – for theme, I used my Spider-Man deck alongside Doctor Strange, and while the former is one that I’ve thrown together myself, the latter is mostly the pre-con. I say this because I think it’s interesting to contrast how both of yesterday’s games went. Zola wasn’t easy, but he was enjoyable in part due to the fact Hawkeye and Black Widow work so well together, and The Hood wasn’t a cakewalk but was also pretty fun to go up against, again because I know the Spider-Man deck, and Doctor Strange can have some very powerful effects.

Knowing the deck is a much bigger deal than I thought it would be, though. Having only played Doctor Strange once, I found myself a little confused at times at what I was planning to do with cards – indeed, at one point I played nothing and ended up having to discard cards, because I had drawn my hand when in alter-ego form, then flipped to the hero side. In contrast, a deck like Black Widow is interesting because you know that you want to get as many Preparations out as possible, and you know that there are some key cards that you should aim to get out early to help with the economy, etc.

Marvel Champions

It’s a really great game, and I particularly enjoy the fact that it’s the sort of game that you can just pick up and play, without a great deal of fuss to it. I really enjoy it, anyway, and I don’t think I will be stopping now that I’ve reached those 10 plays for 2023. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if I end the year having played this one a hundred times…