Vampire thoughts

Hey everybody!
It’s game day once again here at spalanz.com, and today I have something that I think is fairly interesting to share with you all: I’ve been thinking once more about Magic the Gathering, and have made some tentative steps into getting back into the game!

Remember at the back end of last year, when I tried my hand at a B/W Vampires sealed deck? Well I’ve been trying to do something more with that, making it more interesting while keeping it just within the Ixalan block rather than trying to be a full Standard experience. Well, I’ve been shuffling about with things, and while it might not be the best of decks out there, I thought it was cool enough that I wanted to share it here for game day!

Creatures
Bloodcrazed Paladin (2)
Anointed Deacon
Sanctum Seeker
Vicious Conquistador (2)
Skyblade of the Legion
Duskborne Skymarcher (2)
Legion Lieutenant (2)
Bishop of the Bloodstained (2)
Inspiring Cleric
Paladin of the Bloodstained
Skymarch Bloodletter
Elenda, the Dusk Rose
Vona, Butcher of Magan

Instants & Sorceries
Pride of Conquerors
Rallying Roar
Vampire’s Zeal (2)
Costly Plunder (2)
Call to the Feast (4)
Arterial Flow (2)
Queen’s Commission (2)

Enchantments
Raiders’ Wake
Mark of the Vampire

Artifacts
Pillar of Origins (3)

Lands
Unclaimed Territory
Forsaken Sanctuary (4)
Swamp (9)
Plains (9)

One of the things I really wanted to try with this build is making a ton of Vampire tokens, getting really aggressive with them, and if they die, then they just make Elenda bigger – or the Bloodcrazed Paladin, of course, if I can flash him in for a few +1/+1 counters. Having a lot of pump spells in there also should help to make those tokens more than just meh, and I particularly like things like the Sanctum Seeker and Bishop of the Bloodstained for causing direct life loss rather than having combat as the only way to win with an aggro deck.

I’ve built a lot of Vampire decks along the way, of course, and while I think I’ll always prefer B/R Vampires such as this deck from Shadows of Innistrad, I do like the way that Black and White plays in general, which is why so many of my decks over the years have been in these colours. I should also look into building a Mardu Vampires deck – along with building up this deck to a full 60 cards, I’ve had a number of thoughts on tinkering with the Edgar Markov Commander deck from last summer, too.

I think there is plenty that can still be done to this deck to improve it, and to that end I’ve got a few singles on order to help refine the play somewhat, including a second copy of Elenda. My first build of any deck tends to be a little bit wild as I try to jam in as many copies of interesting cards as I can, before finally trimming things down to more efficient methods. I mean, the aforementioned B/R Vampires deck ran like a dream, and I’d like to see if I could do the same thing with this build in B/W.

Crucially, I’ve had no opportunity to test this deck yet, so I’m hoping that I’ll have some further insights once I’ve managed to get in a few games. My time for Magic-playing has been almost non-existent for the past year, so I think I need to re-evaluate things and see if I can get back into game nights and whatnot!

Anyway, I think the fresh new look of Dominaria has gotten me intrigued enough that I’m once more buying Magic products and seeing what’s occurring in the multiverse, and I’m excited to see what’s coming up next in my deckbuilding adventures!

My first game with Tau

Hey everybody!
It’s time once more for a games day blog! Well, it has been some time. I wanted to talk about my experiences with playing Tau for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and my thoughts on both building the models and building my army. So I’m going to ramble for a bit about Tau – sit back, and enjoy!

My 1000-point list was, I think you’ll agree, slightly odd-looking. Well, that’s because I don’t know what I’m doing with Tau, and the list was built very much along the lines of, let’s throw some stuff together and see what happens. I was playing with Bork’an Sept rules, adding 6 extra inches to rapid fire and heavy weapons, with the Seeker of Perfection warlord trait, which adds 1 to the wound roll for each hit of 6+. Finally, I was using the Puretide Engram Neurochip relic to gain a command point on a d6 roll of 6 when an opponent uses a stratagem. Nice!

I have to be honest, though – I’m not sure how I did in that game! I think I managed to get the hang of certain things, and I could definitely see how the army wants to play after a couple of rounds, but I don’t really know if I won or lost. I was playing my usual opponent Robin, though this time he was playing Inquisition rather than Orks, which was a turn up for the books!

We played Burn & Pillage from the Open War cards, and the Twist we drew was Double or Nothing, drawing two extra cards: Acid Rain (yay) and Meeting Battle, which divides the armies into three (each), and one of these chunks is brought on each round. That was useful as it allowed me to bring on my army in small doses and get used to it that way.

The game went fairly okay, I think. I’d set up in the middle, and brought on the Pathfinders and Pirhana first. The Pirhana was quite useful as a melee tool, something I didn’t think I’d do with Tau. The Pathfinders probably could have been used better, but I suppose I was just getting used to them! I then brought on the Breachers, the Ethereal and the Devilfish (which had the Strike Team inside – not the Breachers! Whoops!) For the third deployment, I brought on my Commander and the Crisis Suits.

I think my main take-away from the game was that Marker Drones are very useful, but the Pathfinders are a much cheaper source of Markerlights, so I should use them to light up the field each turn, rather than worrying about saving their pulse carbine shots instead. I couldn’t quite get my head round to the idea that the bodies should be doing something useful, while the drones should be left to paint targets on everything. That clearly isn’t the way to go!

I like the idea of a gun-line, but I was a bit all over the place during this game due to the nature of the Open War cards. I think for my next game with them, I’d like to deploy as an actual gunline, and use some Fireblade support to get an extra shot off. Indeed, I want to look heavily into supporting the idea of a Tau gunline force, and have been tinkering a great deal with my list over the last few weeks.

The Coldstar Commander is something of an all-star, really, though I feel like I used him badly. The ability to advance 40″ across the field is actually really good, but I wasn’t making nearly as much of it as I should have been. He’s modelled with a Target Lock, as well, so there’s no excuse not to be dashing about and firing that high-output burst cannon all over the place. Definitely one to use again in the future, that!

The Crisis Suits are an iconic part of the army, for me, and I really want them there at the centre of all things. However, I once again did barely anything with them – I think the accompanying drones did more damage than these guys when it came to the battle! I think the fact they were the single most-expensive unit in the army made me a little over-cautious, and I ended up doing very little with them. So I think I need to re-evaluate my options for the future, there!

Overall, though, while people have been saying the codex isn’t as good as that of Necrons or Drukhari, I’m not that familiar yet with the army to feel that it is particularly bad. But I can say that my list was a bit too all over the place for comfort, and I’ve been weighing up a few options for alternative (and bigger) builds for the future. At the minute, then, this is what I’m looking down the barrel of:

I’m currently thinking a lot about playing larger-scale games, as I haven’t really explored anywhere above the 1000-point level in 8th Edition yet. So I’m going to be building towards 2000-points, but wanted to get there slowly. I’ve got most of this list actually built up anyway, and have recently picked up some more Crisis Suits in a second Start Collecting box so that I can really round things out. While I haven’t organised it as such in the above list, I have three detachments within this list, granting me a total 8 command points to use throughout the game – a very small Battalion, a fairly small Outrider, and the real meat of the force contained within the Vanguard, which itself covers more than half the total points.

I like this list because it feels like it puts the battlesuits at the centre of things, rather than the troops. The Pathfinders are there for Markerlights, mainly, though as there is the potential for redundancy here, especially since there are also six Marker Drones in the list, having the pulse carbines will be useful as well. The thought is that the Warriors will form a gunline, with the Fireblades peppered among them alongside the Pulse Accelerator Drones, which will fly off at the start of the battle to aid the pulse rifles of the Fire Warriors.

While I’m on the topic, I really like building Tau armies that use Fireblades as a cheap utility HQ, freeing up another HQ slot for a fancy Commander that can go off and do his own thing.

I freely admit that I may have been seduced into including the Broadside simply because he looks amazing. The heavy rail rifle reminds me of a longer-ranged dark lance, and I so often whiff on the damage rolls and end up getting just one point of damage that I’m invariably wary of such things now. However, the Bork’an Sept Stratagem does allow for a re-roll on random damage like this, so I suppose that will be useful!

The Ghostkeel, so far as I’m concerned, is a bit of a distraction carnifex, and I’m not particularly fussed as to what happens to it. 200 points is an expensive distraction, for sure, but it is a very pretty model, so I’m sure it’ll draw a lot of attention. Keeping the drones around will give any shooting attacks -2 to hit, so it could very possibly just walk (fly?) up the table and threaten virtually anything, firing six shots from the Cyclic Ion Raker from 30 inches away, and the Target Lock will allow for it to keep moving and firing that heavy weapon with no penalty. Add in another two shots from the fusion blasters, and it should take a lot of the heat off the other stuff I’m bringing!

I feel like I’ve been on a bit of a pendulum swing for 8th Edition so far, from building armies without a tremendous amount of thought for the CPs, to agonising over how I can get that third Battalion in there for the additional points. I think the Drukhari codex has seen the apex of the CP struggle, and I’m now getting a lot more conservative again – or, I should say, I’m back to building the kind of armies that I want to build, and not adding in an entire Spearhead detachment just because I want to add in a single Broadside. Anyway!

8 command points should be a fine number, especially if I’m sticking with the Puretide Engram Neurochip. There aren’t a tremendous amount of stratagems that I find myself wanting to use, after all. While in my first game, I didn’t use a lot of them because I was concentrating on getting the units to do what they’re supposed to do, I think on the whole there are some fairly underwhelming stratagems contained within the book, which I guess might be where a lot of folks are coming from with thinking it underpowered. There are a small handful of stratagems that I can see myself using, such as Repulsor Impact Field or Uplinked Markerlight, but on the whole I find them really quite situational, and also very specific as to the units they affect.

Maybe having underpowered stratagems is a way of balancing some of the tremendous firepower that the Tau can bring to bear in a battle.

At any rate, those are my rambling thoughts after my first game with the Tau!

Cities in Ruin!

Hey everybody!
It’s the first game day of 2018! It’s also the first game day in quite some time! With several life-changes going on these last few months, it’s been difficult to devote any real time to board games, but as per my Boxing Day tradition, I managed to get Eldritch Horror to the table, with predictably wonderful results! I sat down to no less than three games this time around, as the game proved to be a huge hit with my SO Jemma (and, it takes so much time to set up, once it’s there you might as well settle in for an afternoon!), and for the middle game we tried out the latest small box expansion, Cities in Ruin!

Eldritch Horror Cities in Ruin

This expansion brings one of my favourite Ancient Ones to the game, Shudde M’ell. The world-cracking king of the Cthonians originally appeared in the Dunwich Horror expansion for Arkham Horror, and of course was created by Brian Lumley in his short story Cement Surroundings. One of the non-Lovecraftian creations that has managed to retain significant traction among the mythos today, it’s also one of my favourites to go up against in Arkham Horror, so I was really looking forward to seeing how he’d be implemented in Eldritch Horror.

Like Yig and Ithaqua before him, Shudde M’ell has become so much more vicious in his Eldritch Horror incarnation!!

Eldritch Horror Cities in Ruin

Starting at 15 doom, Shudde M’ell looks like he should be fine, starting at the same point as Azathoth from the base game. However, true to form, he gets to destroy points on the board, which is where this expansion becomes a bit of a beast.

Eldritch Horror Cities in Ruin

To start with, Rome is ‘devastated’ – the city is wiped off the map, and all that remains are crumbling ruins. During set-up, three eldritch tokens are placed on the doom track and, when the doom counter reaches those, there is the chance that more cities will meet a similar fate.

Of course, they’re not really gone in the sense that you just skip over them if you’re moving through Europe, or something. When you arrive at a devastated location, rather than drawing from the normal deck you instead draw one of the Devastation cards, complex encounters that can net you useful stuff from poking about in the ruins. I found these to be particularly interesting, as the card will present you with a choice, and you can actually choose to resolve the failure part instead of the pass part, each of these then involving some kind of test with rewards for passing and detriments for failing. We’ve seen a similar thing with some Other World encounters, where you can still fail even when you passed the first part of the encounter, but even so, it’s interesting to see the depth going on in the game right now.

The other deck is, of course, the Disaster deck, which is drawn when finding out where on the map is going to be hit next. Shudde M’ell has got three in-built disasters in terms of the doom track anyway, but there are Mythos cards and other ways that can bring about Disasters, which range from destroying cities to removing all of the travel tokens from the game, as sea voyages become too perilous. It’s an added dimension to the game that I really enjoyed, especially if you’re relying on a specific location to buff a skill, or gain a spell, etc. I think it’s a tremendous addition, and I’m happy to say that there are additional Prelude cards included in the box to allow you to use the Disaster deck even if you aren’t trying to fend off Shudde M’ell. Excellent stuff!

Eldritch Horror Cities in Ruin

The investigators are more from the Arkham stable, I particularly liked Bob Jenkins and his ability to trade items with anybody on the board. We also get new assets and artifacts, conditions and spells, as well as new encounter cards and mythos cards that all help to bring in the feel of a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world – though without being quite so overt that you could still shuffle these into the deck and play against Yig, for instance. There are also Expedition encounter cards that make Shanghai and London possible locations, which I quite enjoyed – especially considering there is a Disaster that destroys these locations as well!

All in all, Cities in Ruin is another excellent expansion in what is becoming possibly the best game line Fantasy Flight is publishing right now! It’s certainly my top board game of the moment, and I am forever just bowled-over at how amazing these expansions are. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the expansions for Arkham Horror as much as the next man, but I feel that these for Eldritch Horror are designed with such care and attention that every single one of them has been so much more than simply, “more of the same”.

Definitely worth picking up if you enjoy this game!!

Mansions of Madness

Hey everybody!
Happy Halloween! While I don’t really go in for all the spooky stuff personally, I always try to feature a thematic game here on my game day blog, and today’s offering is something I’ve been wanting to get round to for a long time – let’s enter the Mansions of Madness!

Mansions of Madness

(This blog is about 1st Edition, which is currently the only edition that I have played).

Mansions of Madness is an utterly fantastic game. I need to tell you this right at the top, because this entire post will be coloured quite significantly by my love of this game. It was released back in 2011, I picked it up a year later, and had my first game with it around Christmastime. As usual, I played with my regular gaming buddy Tony, and we played through the first scenario, The Fall of House Lynch. While we were certainly enjoying playing the game, despite taking time to actually learn the ropes as we went, once the game was over we had a sort of joint moment of awe at what we’d just experienced. Despite the fact that this game took place almost five years ago now, I can still remember, quite vividly, both of us sort of leaning back from the table when it was over, and letting out a simultaneous “whoa” at how good this game is. Immersive just doesn’t seem to cover it. The game was spectacular – it was incredible, in the very truest sense of the word!

Okay, so enough with the rhapsodizing, let’s take a look at the game.

Mansions of Madness is a one-vs-many game that has its closest parallel (for me) in Descent, where one player takes on the role of the Keeper, while the rest of the group play as the standard stock of Arkham Investigators. The Keeper is an interesting role because, unlike the Overlord of Descent, he is part antagonist but also part DM, and I feel sometimes that people might miss the subtlety of this. Sure, as the Keeper you’re trying to defeat the Investigators, but there is a responsibility to ensure that the story that the game is trying to tell is told. If you play as the Keeper and sit there brooding evilly all game, then it’s not going to be a great experience. I’ve always played this game as the Keeper, so I guess I have more to say about this part than that of the Investigators.

Mansions of Madness

Let’s start with the board. Mansions of Madness is a scenario-based game, and you get five of them in the core set. The board is modular depending on each scenario, with room tiles placed as shown in the set-up guide. It is then the Keeper’s responsibility to “seed” cards in the rooms according to his own set-up guide. Each scenario has up to six distinct parts where the Keeper can make a choice – does he pick choice A, B or C for part one? These story choices determine which Clue cards are seeded into the rooms. The rooms also include items that the Investigators can claim, but many also have traps or locks to overcome before they can be discovered. The set-up guide is crucial for ensuring the cards are placed so that they are encountered in the correct order – locks are no good on the bottom of the pile, after all!

Mansions of Madness

Once the cards are placed, the Investigators set about exploring the Mansion. They’re trying to solve a mystery that is read out by the Keeper at the start of the game, and Mansions of Madness is one of the relatively few board games where flavour text simply must be read during the course of the game! It certainly helps with the theme, and relates to what I was talking about earlier, where the Keeper is part-DM in his role. The Investigators don’t actually get to know ahead of time what they need to do to win, so it’s critical to pay attention to the story, and not just charge about trying to gather up stuff. Though, like any good RPG, it’s always good to get stuff! It’s really cool how the Investigators get to actually make real-time choices about what to do, based on the story being told, and not just some random whim.

Something that really blew me away when I first played this game was the fact that the Investigators will often come across some locked item, either a door or a suitcase, and in order to overcome this obstacle, they need to solve a real, actual puzzle. Normally in these sorts of games, a player would just roll some dice and add a modifier to determine this, but no! There are a variety of different puzzles that you have to physically solve, such as the wiring puzzle shown above. Harvey Walters can have an Intellect of 7 (more on this shortly), meaning that he has up to 7 moves in this puzzle. Moves include rotating a piece 90º, swapping adjacent pieces, or removing a piece entirely and drawing a new one. In the above example, I actually managed it in 5 moves, which is fine for Harvey, but other characters might not fare so well!

Mansions of Madness

When you set up your Investigator character at the start of the game, you take the character’s card, then choose one of two Strength cards, and one of two Intellect cards, which give you the total stats for that character in the game. It’s an interesting way of mixing things up and, while you can’t alter your stats over the course of the game like Arkham Horror, it’s still a nice way of ensuring Investigators don’t always feel the same right out of the box.

The Keeper can interact with the Investigators in a variety of ways, using a currency of threat points. Over the course of each round, the Keeper gets a number of threat counters equal to the number of players, and he can use these to pay the costs on a number of different cards, such as the Mythos cards or Action cards. These can be played to either slowly increase the madness, or to suddenly go all-out and really spring the traps of the mansion!

Several of these cards do direct damage to the Investigators, and in true Arkham Horror-style, the Investigators can be both physically and mentally crippled over the course of the game. However, it’s not all shadowy-Keeper versus the Investigators, as there are a variety of monsters lurking in the dark places of the mansion, and the Keeper can use these to attack the Investigators head-on. Unlike in other Arkham-universe games, the monsters in Mansions of Madness are actual miniatures, though they also come with cardboard chits that slide into their bases for that classic Arkham Horror feel.

Mansions of Madness

The combat system in the game is card-based, which I seem to remember was somewhat in vogue around this time, with a few big games featuring cards rather than dice to resolve attacks. Dungeonquest has a similar kind of system, off the top of my head…

Mansions of Madness

So, rather than simply rolling dice and adding modifiers for strength, you determine what class of monster you’re attacking – humanoid (blue), beast (brown) or eldritch (green) and determine what weapon, if any, you’re using to go at it. You then draw cards from the appropriate deck until you find a card you can resolve – that is, a card that describes an attack with the type of weapon you’re using. There is still a dice element involved, as the cards will often ask you to test your Strength or something, but it’s overall a very different implementation of playing a board game.

You’ll no doubt notice that the cards above are split in two – this is because the same cards are used if an Investigator attacks a monster, or a monster attacks an Investigator. In my experience, it can be quite common for these decks to cycle through at least a couple of times over the course of a game, though subsequent expansions brought out more of them to add some variety!

Mansions of Madness

In addition to all of this, there is also an Event deck going on irrespective of what both Keeper and Investigators are up to in the mansion. This Event deck consists of five cards, one of which is drawn after a set number of turns has elapsed, and its effects are resolved by the Keeper based on the story choices he made during the set-up. In the Fall of House Lynch scenario, the Objective card is revealed when the fourth event card is drawn, and this Objective then determines what happens. It’s an interesting way to keep something of a timer on the game, ensuring that you don’t end up just endlessly wandering about durdling, but in all of the games that I’ve played, I have never felt like these cards got in the way of the flow of the game.

Indeed, the whole game in general just flows very smoothly. For sure, it flows much better if you have experienced players – particularly an experienced Keeper – but despite the weight of stuff in the core set box, it does actually feel quite streamlined and, dare I say, intuitive when you start playing. Don’t get me wrong, there are a bajillion moving parts in this game, and it can be something of a nightmare to deal with, but if you just sit back and immerse yourselves in the story, you will be rewarded beyond your imagination!

I hear that Second Edition has streamlined the game somewhat, not least by relegating the role of Keeper to an app. I thought it surprising the new edition finally added actual new Investigators to the pool of Arkham Horror denizens – Agatha Crane, Carson Sinclair and Father Mateo join the ranks of Harvey Walters, Jenny Barnes and “Ashcan” Pete! I was initially dismayed to learn that the Keeper had been removed, and it strikes me that the app feels more like playing a video game than a tabletop board game. I haven’t actually purchased the new edition, but I’m nevertheless intrigued as to whether the new Investigators will make the shift into those Arkham games that I do follow!

Interestingly, there was an article published on the FFG website earlier this year that talked about Mansions of Madness – and more broadly about Arkham games in general – and their family-friendly theme. It’s not something I’d thought about before, but these games can actually feel like a horror movie when done right. Is that the sort of thing you want to play through with your kids? Mansions of Madness has a rating of “ages 14+”, while Arkham Horror is 12+, which I’m really surprised by. Though I suppose the threat in the older game is somewhat more magical, whereas games of Mansions often involve blood-crazed maniacs trying to hack off your leg with an axe, and the like. There’s something more visceral, I suppose, and it can be quite terrifying to younger children if you have a good Keeper…

At any rate, I cannot recommend this game enough, certainly at this time of year!!

No longer Standard: Innistrad

Hey everybody!
There’s a distinctly horror-filled theme to game day blogs this month, as we approach ever-closer to Halloween and, today, I thought I’d share with you all a deck that I’ve built for Magic the Gathering that sees a lot of stuff I never thought I’d use in a deck! We’re headed to the plane of Innistrad, where vampires and werewolves prowl the night, and it’s all the people can do to invoke the angels to keep them from harm!

Innistrad

Innistrad block came out across 2011-12, and features the expansions Innistrad, Dark Ascension, and Avacyn Restored. As per usual, we had several new mechanics featured in the block, the most famous of which being the double-faced cards. These cards have no card back, but instead feature a day and night side, with text that describes the conditions under which the card turns from its day to its night side (and sometimes, night to day). The card never leaves the battlefield, so any auras or counters remain on that card after its transformation. The mechanic was predominantly used on human cards that transformed into werewolves, though there were a couple more instances (including a knife that turns into a demon).

This really serves to highlight the gothic horror theme of Innistrad, which is perhaps one of the most flavourful sets ever released for Magic the Gathering. There are predominantly five tribes explored over the cards in the set, each tribe belonging to an allied colour pair: the aforementioned werewolves in red and green; vampires in black and red; zombies in blue and black; spirits in white and blue, and humans in green and white.

Innistrad

Innistrad, as a horror-themed set, also featured graveyard mechanics such as Flashback (first seen back in Odyssey), as well as wider graveyard strategies in general. Morbid was a mechanic that granted creatures benefits if another creature died this turn. Dark Ascension continued the horror theme by giving us Undying cards, which triggers when a creature without +1/+1 counters on it dies, bringing the creature back with such a counter. Fateful Hour is an ability that triggers if your life total is 5 or less, often providing a last-minute boost for creatures in some way. Despite often being overlooked, I think this mechanic is one of my favourites purely for the theme!

Finally, Avacyn Restored brought more new mechanics, including Miracle, a card that could be cast for its Miracle cost if it is the first card drawn that turn – the card frame was changed slightly to show that the card was a Miracle card, and led to players doing that weird sliding the card across the playmat towards themselves to ensure the card didn’t hit their hand before they cast it. Soulbond allows you to pair a creature with another creature, and both of them get a specific ability as a result. Both mechanics featured across all colours except black, which saw a return of the Undying mechanic and an emphasis on controlling just one creature (as the opposite of Soulbond).

Innistrad block is widely said to be one of the best in Magic’s recent history, with many people praising the theme as well as the play environment. There are a lot of notable cards from the set, though perhaps overwhelmingly worth mentioning here is Liliana of the Veil, the second Liliana planeswalker card, and a card that is widely agreed to be the second most powerful planeswalker in the game.

MTG Liliana of the Veil

Sadly, I don’t have enough kidneys to sell to afford a Liliana of the Veil, so the deck I’ve been tinkering with for a while is centred instead on one of the Angel cards from Avacyn Restored: Bruna, Light of Alabaster.

Bruna, Light of Alabaster

Bruna is a blue/white angel who can draw all of the auras to herself from across the battlefield, graveyard and your hand whenever she attacks or blocks. It’s an interesting mechanic that I had originally given some thought to much earlier in the year – back when I was in my Commander phase, as it happens! I do like auras, despite the fact that you risk losing them all if the creature they’re stuck to dies, and have collected up quite a few across my collection. In addition to this, I wanted to try out making a deck that focuses on Humans, a tribe that I usually don’t bother with as I prefer the more fantastical creatures on offer! So, looking through my Magic collection at the Innistrad-block cards specifically, I came up with this deck as a sort of Angelic Humans blue-white aggro thing:

Creatures
Alabaster Mage
Bruna, Light of Alabaster
Captain of the Mists
Elgaud Shieldmate (2)
Goldnight Commander (2)
Goldnight Redeemer (2)
Gryff Vanguard (2)
Herald of War
Lunar Mystic
Nearheath Pilgrim (2)
Tandem Lookout
Thraben Valiant (2)
Veteran Armorsmith
War Priest of Thune

Enchantments & Artifacts
Angelic Accord
Call To Serve (2)
Divine Favor
Holy Strength (2)
Tricks of the Trade (2)
Scroll of Avacyn (2)

Instants & Sorceries
Break of Day (2)
Ghostform (2)
Glorious Charge (2)
Inspired Charge
Mass Appeal (2)
Skillful Lunge (2)

Land
Forbidding Watchtower
Glacial Fortress
Island (7)
Plains (8)
Seraph Sanctuary (2)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster

It’s nothing special, but there are some fun things going on there that make me happy, so I can’t complain too much! I do want to look at the mana base some more, and there are a few cards I’d like to include to further help the strategy (Champion of the Parish is top of that list!) But I thought I’d play with this thing first, and see where it takes me from there!

Innistrad is definitely one of those sets that has stood the test of time, with plenty of flavourful cards that I find myself coming back to time and again. Well, I do love me some vampires!!

Netrunner Rotation

Android Netrunner

Last week, Fantasy Flight put up a very interesting article that explained the way that rotation is going to work for their Netrunner LCG from October, and I have to say, I was utterly fascinated by it – to the point that it’s the subject of this week’s game day blog, in fact!

For the uninitiated, rotation is the definition of an organized play environment for the game, where older sets have been moved out of the pool to prevent that pool from growing prohibitively large. For me, it’s synonymous with Magic the Gathering, where sets rotate out of Standard at set points in the year to ensure the environment is manageable for tournament play. FFG first put up an article about this in 2014, which described how Netrunner would see the first two cycles of data packs rotate out of organized play when the first pack of the eighth cycle was released. That cycle has now been announced as the Kitara cycle, and takes the game to Africa and the Sub Saharan League. As this cycle comes into play, the Genesis and Spin cycles will rotate out, meaning that none of those cards can be used in decks for organized play from this point on.

But it’s not all doom and gloom!

See, FFG are releasing a Revised Core Set, which isn’t just a core set with errata’d cards or something, but is essentially the next way to buy into the game. It doesn’t merely reprint cards from the current set, but rather includes a new mix of cards that features some from the Genesis and Spin cycles that are rotating out, meaning that you may not need to deconstruct those decks, after all!

They have released a card list for the Revised Core Set already, just to help further!

I find this somehow fascinating, and it makes me think that the game is expanding at a sensible rate. It is somewhat similar to the way that Magic works, by having a core set come along with those all-important cards, but the rotation here is so much more leisurely that it doesn’t feel like there’s going to be a mad scramble to keep up. At its smallest extent, there will be five cycles of cards that will form the current meta, which represents a good number of years with which to play these cards. I mean, Netrunner has already been out for what, five years now? That’s a five-year Standard season that allows you to really get a decent amount of play out of your card pool!

Back when they announced rotation originally, I was all for it, and I remain so. The fact that it took almost a year longer to get going than they’d initially thought notwithstanding, I think now that we’re here, and seeing how they’re handling it, I’m really impressed at what’s happening.

Will I be getting a copy of the new core set? Probably not. While I have taken part in Netrunner tournaments in the past, I don’t think it’s something I’m planning to do in the future, so it’s almost irrelevant to me. I’m really pleased to see that the game is being supported so well, however, and I’ll doubtless be buying the data packs as they come out anyway, as casual play is really all I get into these days!

Getting into 8th Edition

Hey everybody!
I’ve talked a lot about Warhammer 40k 8th Edition on my blog this summer, as I was increasingly excited for the new edition of one of the most popular wargames around. Well, I’ve been playing quite a bit of it now, as well, so wanted to come back here and give some general thoughts and ramblings about what I think of the new experience!

I talked about my first game of 8th back in the middle of July, and have since played three further games, for a grand total of four: two with Necrons, and two with Dark Eldar. Three of those games were against the same guy and his Orks, and I’ve also played against Blood Angels. So!

Warhammer 40k

First of all, I have to say that the game is just so much better than it was during 7th. 8th Edition has been out only a couple of months, and already I’ve played more games of it than I had during the entire run of 7th. In part this is due to my circumstances changing, as I finished with my degree course right when 8th came out, so never really had the time in the last edition – but then, I still had some time, but could never really fathom the complicated rules set in order to spend an entire day playing through a game. So there is that to consider.

8th Edition also just flows much more smoothly. I’m still very new to the game, with just 4 games to my name right now, so I can’t pretend to be some kind of expert, but I have to say, it’s a lot easier to just get on with a game rather than going through the endless, “What does this do again?” sort of book-keeping. So I do enjoy that.

Warhammer 40k

I think the way that combat has been streamlined, it has led to a lot more cinematic moments being achieved. True, it was always possible to get exciting times during 7th, but the fact that you’re not consulting endless charts and trying to remember stats and equations means you can focus instead on what is happening in the game. Such as my Necron Overlord swooping down onto a group of Boyz and a Warboss to avenge the savage beating of a phalanx of Lychguard. There wasn’t a lot of, “Now, this is an open-topped skimmer, so it can go so many inches, and the guy inside can still do his thing…” and all the rest of it. You just move, shoot, charge and smash face! I like that a lot.

I never played Dark Eldar in 7th, but I have been enjoying them tremendously so far in 8th. Only had two games with them, but I think they definitely feel like the kind of army I like. There’s a lot going on with them, and trying to find a good balance within that army has been causing me some head-scratching as I write up list after list of potential musters, but I think it’s the sort of army that I’m going to enjoy trying to get to grips with, which is the main thing for me!

Warhammer 40k

I had my most recent game with the army just last Friday, which is part of the reason why I wanted to write this blog for today. I’d been going quite heavily into the Kabal route from the start with these guys, but as I’ve managed to bring them to the table, I’m enjoying the Covens units so much that I feel I may begin to slant my build more towards the flesh-sculptors. Wracks are a unit type that I never thought I’d enjoy having as much as I currently do, being really quite a diverse bunch. We were talking on Friday about how they’re basically a close-combat orientated unit, yet the Acothyst can take what is essentially a sniper rifle, which just seemed to blow a lot of peoples’ minds. Getting into close combat, with a haemonculus nearby to buff their toughness and a Cronos to allow for re-rolling failed to wound rolls, it can be very useful!

I’ve yet to try out any Wych Cult units in my army, so I think the Reavers and Wyches may be making an appearance next time, just to see what happens!

Of course, as I said before, there is a lot going on with them, and I don’t ever seem capable of remembering Power From Pain for these chaps! Turn 1 shrugging off wounds on a 6 is stupidly useful, yet can I remember I can do that? Of course not! I definitely need to get more games in where I can try to remember these things!

So all in all, 8th Edition has done something that 7th never could, and gotten me wanting to play 40k with more regularity than I ever thought possible. I’m definitely pleased to be in the hobby right now, but more than just for the artistry of building and painting minis, but for playing games with them, too!