Oh, GeeDubs…

So the new Warhammer Quest board game is no longer available online. I mean, it’s not even out yet, this is being written during the pre-order week. But they’ve been hyping it for months, and now have sold out. I believe they’re making more, so it’s probably not going to be a problem – the quote is something like, they’re going to keep the base game in stock as they have done for Blackstone Fortress, which is still available as I write this.

But the way this sold out during the pre-order window, much like Piety and Pain, and Indomitus, and the plastic Sisters box, makes me baffled, for sure!

It feels very much like GW are increasingly all about the big splash releases, selling big boxes in small quantities rather than just letting people access their product in a more reasonable fashion. There is internet cynicism abound, of course, which blames shareholders and so on, but it definitely feels like GW has at the very least, shuffled a little away from being all about public engagement. On the one hand, they’re giving us incredible releases like Cursed City, but on the other they’re not really giving everybody the chance to experience that. An actual pre-order system, whereby you register your interest to buy the product and then they go ahead and fulfil that, would perhaps have been better, going up right at the start of the hype season.

I mean, they’re a fairly large company. They should be able to deal with that, right?

As it is, my interest was kinda waning anyway, but now I’m just thinking, I have enough plastic to keep me going. I’m fine with this. I don’t really have the energy for big splash releases anymore…

/grumpy old man rant 🤣

Lords of the Mortal Realms

Another weekend, another Warhammer Preview! I don’t know about you guys, but I’m quite enjoying how these things have been going throughout the lockdown period, and I kinda hope they continue when everything else returns to normal!

The latest event was all about the Mortal Realms, and seems to have been centred around two massive reveals, with some other bits peppered in.

To begin, we’re getting MOAR Lumineth Realmlords!

We’ve only just had the first wave of these things, and already we’re seeing a massive raft of reinforcements for them! At least Slaanesh had a couple of years between releases!

I have to say, though, that I’m finding it very difficult to resist collecting these guys now. I think it won’t be too much of a surprise to anybody here if I’ve bought a box of something before the end of spring, if not sooner!! Doesn’t help that I’m on such a fantasy kick right now with the Bonereapers… and they’re in the Dreadfane box that I’ve been eyeing up for the Slaanesh warband…

So yeah… I guess we shall see!! But I do love the new scenery piece…

Looks like we’re getting a trio of heroes for Nighthaunt, Stormcast and Soulblight that will be accompanying the next Broken Realms release, which is interesting! I suppose the Soulblight release can’t be too far off, then, as we’ve been seeing a lot of scattered previews already. Interesting times are on their way, for sure!

A part of me is enjoying seeing the new releases for armies like this, because it gives us more flavour of what the old Warhammer was all about. High Elves and Vampire Counts by another name, but it does feel good to be getting back to that feel, if nothing else!

I’m glossing over the Underworlds stuff because I’m not too sure what it’s all about and find things confusing on that front, but it seems there’s a new core set (this is in addition to Direchasm?) for folks to get some of the older cards, I suppose!

The other big reveal this weekend is the full box for the next Warhammer Quest game, Cursed City!

This thing is packed with minis!

I really feel like we’re being spoiled with these boxed games. Blackstone Fortress was incredible for a starter set, and while in retrospect the expansions were somewhat hit and miss by comparison, it was still incredible when you think about it. I mean, we had plastic Traitor Guard, for Throne’s sake!! Including a plastic Traitor Commissar! Incredible stuff.

This box has got all manner of weird stuff, and I absolutely love it. Whether it forms the basis for the impending Soulblight faction or not, I really don’t care. I’ve given up on getting a full Traitor Guard army in my lifetime, but instead have learnt to enjoy the box for what it is. As a board game, Blackstone Fortress might not be setting the world alight with its mechanics, but my god, those miniatures are excellent and give a really enjoyable experience for being so weird and wonderful. Similarly, then, I’m looking at this as a board game first, and not as allies for an existing army. And it’s great!

Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress – first impressions

Hey everybody,
Had my first game with Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress at the weekend, so thought I’d re-institute the Game Day blogs while we run up to the festive period by looking at this beast!

Blackstone Fortress

At its heart, Blackstone Fortress has a lot in common with the earlier Silver Tower game. We have a co-operative adventure for four heroes delving into the labyrinth, with the mechanics of destiny dice and activation dice being common to both iterations. There have been some tweaks, which has led to many people calling Age of Sigmar in general something of a test-bed for 40k and its related games.

I’m not going to call Blackstone Fortress a re-skin, as there is more to it than that. But there are enough similarities between the two so that, if you’re familiar with one, then you’ll be able to get cracking with the other quickly enough. Once I got going with this, I certainly had no problems running the adventure along.

Blackstone Fortress

The biggest draw, for me, was definitely the miniatures. I try not to buy these games purely for the minis, as I want to enjoy the game aspect of the box. I am extremely guilty of having been suckered into this game purely for the fact that the minis look amazing, and so very different to anything we’ve had so far. Negavolt Cultists and Traitor Guard are just fabulous, while plastic Ministorum Priests and Navigators are just phenomenal! One of my driving reasons for picking up the game was that I have a concept for Armies on Parade that a lot of these miniatures really fit into, so in a way I dropped a lot of cash on picking up some minis that look fantastic.

However, the game itself is actually really quite good!

There are some very specific set-up instructions that I don’t remember from Silver Tower, which help to balance the game somewhat and introduce you to things slowly as you begin with the prospect of lower-level adversaries to fight. The game features an in-built levelling system whereby, each time you end an adventure, you add in a Legacy card that either gives you more enemies to fight, or increases the difficulty of the current selection. Combat is not always a given, either – during set-up, you create an encounter deck, which are split into combat and challenges, and it just so happened that I drew a combat to start things off. Challenges are almost out-of-game things where you need to build a tower of dice in 20 seconds, or whatnot. I suppose this is what GW meant when it came to the RPG aspect of things.

Blackstone Fortress

Something else that has an RPG element is the cleanup step at the end of the encounter, called the Precipice step as it involves returning to the main space station where all the adventurers’ ships are docked. There, you get to trade the strange archaeotech you discover for some upgrades – there are six ships included in the core set, and each of them has a distinct flavour, such as bizarre xenos tech on the Rogue Trader’s vessel, military hardware on the Kroot Mercenary’s ship, Prayers and such on the Priest’s vessel, etc. It’s all quite thematic, but I wasn’t entirely sure of the value of a lot of the upgrades – possibly due to the fact it was my first game…

I’d been hoping this game would be something akin to Shadows of Brimstone, though with a better quality of miniature and a much slicker implementation. The gameplay itself is actually really straightforward, and like I said earlier, it wasn’t a huge concern for me once I got going. The structure of the turn is fairly straightforward, if a little packed with stages, and there are some bits that I found myself forgetting at first, such as the Event phase at the end. The main problem, I found, was that the rulebook feels very much like it has been separated into three separate booklets for no good reason. There is the actual Rulebook, which only includes the rules for set-up, and then some advanced rule stuff; the Combat book actually includes most of the rules you’ll need to reference during the main body of the game, and the Precipice book has all of the after-game stuff like buying stuff and whatnot. It felt clunky for the amount of booklets I was leafing through each time, and I do believe it could have been organised much better, with just one big book that also includes the Background material included within a fourth booklet.

Blackstone Fortress

This isn’t a dungeon-crawl in the sense that Silver Tower is, as the Combat cards re-invent the board each time you draw one, and place adversaries for you to overcome. The AI that drives these adversaries is, if I’m honest, fairly basic – being a hex-based map, there are often a lot of decisions to make as to where best to move the adversary, and I can imagine a lot of players would position them in such a way as makes it easier on the explorers. I did like the Reinforcements idea, though, whereby enemy models can potentially always come back, even if you’ve gotten rid of the entire group. I was seconds from getting all of my explorers clear of the maze near the end, when a group of six Traitor Guard reappeared and blocked Thaddeus from joining the others, causing the game to continue another couple of turns. Talk about dramatic!

Blackstone Fortress

I think this is where the game is really going to shine, though, in terms of the storytelling and the drama that it can create when getting these moments in-game. There are a lot of moving parts to this game, and a lot of things to keep track of. While it does work fine as a pure co-op adventure, the rules state that for five players, one will take on the role of a GM almost, and control the adversary groups as well as the additional stuff like Initiative. Doing that, I can see the game being a lot more involved and, dare I say, enjoyable as you feel more like you’re actually fighting against the fortress. But these are my initial thoughts, and increased familiarity with the game might see me change that idea.

Blackstone Fortress

Overall, I think the game is a really good implementation of the Warhammer Quest core ideas. It doesn’t really feel that much like a simple re-skin of Silver Tower, but instead there is so much going on that you really feel in the 40k universe. If you’re already familiar with the setting, then there’s a lot to enjoy as you work your way through the adventure.

I think a lot of people may be a little bit confused, or misled into thinking this is a Legacy-type game, with a lot of mileage out of your actions in one game spilling over into the next. This isn’t a Legacy game in the sense that Pandemic has made us understand it. There is the opportunity to not so much level up your character, but certainly to create a narrative around them in the spirit of an RPG, and you can buy upgrades to add to their abilities.

The confusing aspect, I think, is that there is a Legacy card deck, and GW have made a big thing about the sealed envelope that signifies the hidden heart of the fortress, to be opened only after you’ve defeated four strongholds (basically a more narrative, drawn-out Combat step). Once you’ve done that, you get to open the envelope and find what was waiting for you all that time. I’ve notheard of anybody who has opened one without completing the adventure yet, so at least it has captured some people’s imagination, but this is really where any similarity to the Legacy genre ends.

It’s definitely an enjoyable game, and there are a lot of storytelling possibilities within the game, but the main roadblock for it is the same as that for Silver Tower: you’re paying £95 for a type of game that you can get for probably half that price elsewhere – and where the miniatures come pre-assembled! Unless, like me, you’re invested in the lore, and you love the look of these new miniatures, then I can imagine you’d be better off going elsewhere for your space-faring co-op adventure.

Games Workshop have recently come out to say that there will be expansions, more news of which will be coming in the new year. This is an exciting prospect, as they’re using this game as a way to explore the dark corners of the 40k universe, and based on what they’ve done with this already, I cannot wait to see where they go next with it. I hope we will see some rules to add selected pre-existing miniatures as adversary groups to the game – possibly through card expansion packs, as we only really need the Legacy cards, the Adversary stat cards, and maybe a themed mission or something to bind it all together. I’ve talked in the past how they could use this to introduce something like plastic Flayed Ones, but I don’t know if this could actually happen. However, I also hope we won’t have to wait 12 months before we see another big box for the game. I’d like to see something that basically expands the game with a smaller-scale version of the core set: a couple more explorers, with a couple more adversaries, and maybe a mission or two with the appropriate tiles, etc. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see just how much love they give this game, though!

Join me next week for another Game Day blog, where I’ll be shining the spotlight of awesome on another game from my collection!

Blackstone Fortress previews!

Oh my goodness, this game could well be epic!

So, we’ve all seen the trailer and stuff since last week, and the excitement has just been building ever since. While I was, at first, reasonably sure I’d be picking this up – hoping that it would feature more Rogue Trader models that could potentially fit in alongside the Kill Team expansion to create a more interesting warband – I’m now entirely certain, and in fact I need it in my life yesterday.

The heroes of the game I can almost take or leave. True, space pope does look hilarious, and I’m really excited for the Navigator dude, but the others are all a little bit too much of a mixed bag for me to be that interested in them. I suppose if they hadn’t gone so wide with it, and had kept it more like the Rogue Trader stuff, so players had the choice of taking on roles from among his crew, then it might have felt a bit more like a crew on an adventure into the fortress in search of riches. As it stands, it feels a little too much of an eclectic group for me to feel all that involved with them.

I do hope, though, that they follow a similar trajectory for Silver Tower, and bring out card packs for a number of different such heroes, so we can hopefully create a different lineup. Though I’m not 100% sure that could work, as the pre-existing heroes of the 40k range are all rather too combat orientated. This game feels like it needs a more mundane set of characters, though I suppose Elucia Vhane’s crew could potentially be seen in this setting… Oh, who knows?!

The adversaries are, for me, where this game is shining brightest. With these guys, it doesn’t matter that we’re seeing a mixed bag – the fact that there are so many disparate elements to this is making me think that maybe we’ll get adversary upgrades for things like Necrons or Tyranids in the future, as well! But as with Kill Team Rogue Trader before it, we’re seeing GW use these boxed games to introduce a whole host of interesting miniatures that they wouldn’t perhaps otherwise make for the tabletop game. For sure, new plastic Chaos Marines are getting a lot of people excited, and the Traitor Guard are certainly exciting me in ways I hadn’t thought possible, but we’re seeing a whole rogue’s gallery of miscreants here that I would love to see expanded upon at some point into their own Codex.

Much like Imperial Agents brought a whole host of different subsections of the Imperium under one umbrella, it’s not entirely outside the realms of possibility that we’ll see something similar for Agents of the Dark Gods, a sort of Chaos Undivided book that could bring forth elements of the Dark Mechanicus, Traitor Guard, Rogue Psykers and the like.

Of course, these sorts of games don’t always have to be the herald for a new army, and we can quite happily see miniatures for the game that have nothing to do with regular 40k. It would be nice, of course, and they do include a mini-dex in the box that has the datasheets for all of the models, but I don’t think it’s a requirement. It’s just nice to see so many different corners of the 40k universe finally realised in plastic miniature form.

What has gotten me most excited for this game, I think, is the expansion promises for the future.

Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress is the basis for a brand-new series that’ll expand your game and allow you to continue your adventures. Future expansions will contain new battles to fight, enemies to conquer and champions to choose from. You can buy Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress in the confidence that the game will be supported for a long, long time to come.

My first thought when I read this paragraph was that it feels an awful lot like Shadows of Brimstone, with a dungeon-crawl co-operative adventure game, the expansions promising new heroes and adversaries as well as new adventures. It’ll be interesting to see how they implement this, of course, and whether we can expect to see the same sort of slew of releases as for Kill Team, or else just one box every so often that includes a new play experience – much like board games of old having the big-box expansion treatment. Regardless of what I’d said earlier, I think it might be too much of a miss if we simply had re-boxed enemies to fight like Necrons or Tyranids, as I would much prefer them to keep this with a one-way relationship into regular 40k, and allowing us to use these models with the main game.

In an ideal world, I feel like we should have maybe two big-box style expansions a year, which feature new tiles and cards and adventures to play, then a couple of new adversary groups, maybe half a dozen new heroes, and all the necessary gubbins to use them in games. If we have to go for smaller scale expansions as well, then I reckon we should just stick to new adversary groups for the game, and be done with. Although I would love to see themed warbands of heroes such as the Rogue Trader crew, or maybe some kind of updated Astra Militarum group of randoms. An Inquisitorial warband would seem like a natural choice, too, though that may be the next big thing for Kill Team, so we’ll have to see. There are definitely options out there!

However, this could be a good way to look at replacing some of the awful finecast still out there with good quality plastic miniatures, for instance a new box of Necron Flayed Ones might be entirely likely to show up within a Blackstone Fortress, so why not release them for this game as part of the line-up, and then replace them in the main range over time?  I’m not super-familiar with other armies’ finecast woes, but I’m sure this could work for Flayed Ones, and potentially Dark Eldar Mandrakes also.

I am just so excited to see all of these new enemy models, it’s finally making me think of starting a Chaos army in some depth. Not Death Guard, or even Thousand Sons, but just getting some regular Traitor Guard, maybe a couple of Marines, and then just adding in these randoms like the Beastmen, the Dark Mech stuff, and some Cultists. The important thing is that it is an interesting force, so hopefully we’ll see expansions to this range that will, in time, allow it to be fielded as a fairly decent army!

But of course, this is not to do a disservice to the actual game. I’m definitely guilty of cannibalising these board games from GW and never bothering with the actual game inside. I think this is definitely one that I want to try and play for its own sake, and not get too involved with the clutter of the main tabletop game. It feels like it will be such a good experience, I just really hope that it’s the success it deserves to be!

Games Workshop previews and reveals!

Oh my good god, I’ve finally been able to take a look at the new previews from GW that came out yesterday, and I feel like I just can’t even begin to explain my sensory overload, you guys!!

Let’s start with, for me, the one I’ve been waiting for the longest:

House Delaque for Necromunda – I’ve been waiting for these pretty much since I bought the base game a year ago. The trenchcoat-wearing spies have always sounded just so damn cool, I think I’d been latching onto the others (and then, finally, settling on Van Saar) while I was waiting to see what would happen to these chaps. The long wait has not been a disappointment, and I am absolutely thrilled by these miniatures!

They look so damn weird and just so very, very 40k that I am utterly enraptured with them! More so, perhaps, than any of the other gangs, these guys have got such a bizarre, grim-dark look to them that I’m in too much of a froth to make much coherent sense right now! I’ve still yet to play this game, sadly, though have tried a couple of times but plans keep not working out, but I think I will finally be making the move into the Underhive in time for these to be my new gang! Cannot wait!

Excitement level for House Delaque: 11

The Blackstone Fortress has been opened! After that dodgy picture showed up again the other day, we’ve now seen behind the curtain, and it looks pretty glorious! Of course, there is that kinda weird mash-up vibe coming from it, similar of course to the Silver Tower game, with the disparate band of heroes and then the Chaos gribblies – at least the adversaries here look reasonably cohesive. I love that we’re getting new Chaos cultists, if only they’d also bring out those Cultists from the Dark Vengeance box so that we have a vast array of them to choose from! I do have several thoughts for using these chaps in games, so I’d like to be able to get a hold of a decent rag-tag band, rather than just having the same five models repeated over and over…

The heroes are definitely intriguing to me – the space pope being hilarious, of course! But I do feel a little bit like they may have missed a trick and given us yet more Rogue Trader models. Maybe they’re going to be bringing out a more fully-realised Rogue Trader line soon, so we’re getting a lot of odd miniatures that could be thrown into that army once it lands… Who knows!

Excitement level for Blackstone Fortress: 8

Looks like the battle boxes they’ve recently been putting out for 40k are coming to Age of Sigmar as well, with the Wrath and Rapture being a mix of new Khorne and new Slaanesh along with some of the models from the existing line. I’m not going to be buying this, as I’ve already bought and sold a Slaanesh daemons army twice now, but it does look really neat, and I’m really happy to see that Slaanesh hasn’t disappeared.

Excitement level for Wrath and Rapture: 6

There’s a new ShadeVault warband on the horizon, the Darkoath barbarian models are getting expanded beyond the two models they currently have! Is this going to be the start of a Slaves to Darkness reboot? Who knows! I’m not sure why I always think things like this will be heralding new full-on armies for either system, but there we are!

The minis look great, though I’m still holding out hope for a Deepkin warband, or else a Lizardmen band. That would be really cool. I’ve tried before to start with Lizardmen, as I feel like they were the faction that kinda got me interested in Warhammer in the beginning, but we’ll have to see on that.

Excitement level for the Godsworn Hunt: 6

Right now, I’m most excited for Mollog’s Mob, which looks hilarious:

Excitement level for Mollog’s Mob: 9

Chapter Approved 2018 is coming, of course, with the Sisters of Battle beta codex, as well as rules for looting vehicles for the Orks. I’m interested in the Sisters, for sure, but I can take or leave the Ork stuff. What is interesting, to me, is the Farsight Enclaves rules for fielding The Eight – as we all know, T’au Empire armies can only field one Commander per detachment, and the Rule of Three has now further hampered the previous Commander Spam lists, so how would players be able to field an iconic, fluffy list of Eight Commanders? Well, it looks like we’re going to find out – and they’re coming for Matched Play, too, it seems!

Something that I had been thinking a lot about over the summer was just how much content could they put into Chapter Approved this year, given that last year’s book was mainly given over to all of the armies who hadn’t yet received a Codex. Assuming that Genestealer Cults will be getting one before the end of the year (crosses fingers), I was hoping there would be more for us all to enjoy rather than giving over the book mainly to the Sisters stuff. I guess we’ll see, though!

Excitement level for Chapter Approved 2018: 7

There’s also another new Battletome coming for the Destruction Grand Alliance, seems to be Moonclan? I have no idea, though I’m sure it will be cool enough.

Something is going on with Vigilus again, though we know not what. Hopefully it’s linked to the Genestealer Cults Codex, though I’m guessing we won’t hear more about that until the Vigilus event at the end of the month.

There will be some Beasts of Chaos made to order miniatures coming out, and I feel like I may need to invest in some of these, as the chariot they have previewed looks incredible! Since I took off with the Nighthaunt last month, I feel a little like I’ve lost track of the army that has gotten me back into Age of Sigmar, and I should probably try to give them a little love soon!

Overall, there is just too much good stuff coming out soon, I’m not sure I can cope with it all!! Might be time to start using ebay more aggressively to see how much I can get rid of, to make room for so much more good stuff coming our way over the next few weeks and months!!

So much Warhammer news!

Hey everybody!
It’s been a bit crazy for Warhammer news during August, I’m not entirely sure if I’ve managed to digest it all yet! With the reveals from Warhammer Fest two weeks ago, and now the NOVA Open reveals, we’re going to be in for some amazing times as hobbyists and gamers for a good while to come!

Let’s start with Warhammer Fest, as it was so long ago now. The news that the Horus Heresy series is coming to an end before the actual Siege of Terra itself I find quite interesting, and I’m a little bit worried that it means we’re going to be in for another drawn out series as we see the culmination of Horus’ betrayal. It’s also really weird that the series The Horus Heresy doesn’t actually conclude the events of the Heresy, if you know what I mean. But James Swallow is a good author, and I did like his Flight of the Eisenstein, so I’m hoping for good things as he draws the proceedings to a close.

Of course, we’ve had a lot of stuff for Adeptus Titanicus coming out this month, so I suppose it’s about time I addressed this point now: I am not a fan of this game. Betrayal at Calth, while it’s Space Marine on Space Marine violence, was nevertheless an interesting game. Adeptus Titanicus, being hulking war machine vs hulking war machine, just doesn’t interest me in the same way. I get the sense that it is appealing to those with more nostalgia for the olden days, and the original iteration of the game (those at my local store are all part of the Old Guard), but it just sounds far too boring and bland, and I don’t think the fact that it’s a completely different scale is helping matters – at least Betrayal at Calth and all of the other boxed games they produce have included miniatures that could be used in regular games.

Something in its favour though – I love the fact that we can talk about Games Workshop and “all the other boxed games they produce”. They really are becoming a Workshop of Games now, and I love it!

Rogue Trader! The big box expansion for Kill Team is coming out in September, and I’m really very excited to get my hands on what look like amazing, weird, and very different minis. Perhaps most excitingly of all, though, is the little paragraph at the end of that announcement, saying that we can use both the Rogue Trader crew and the mutants in regular 40k! Didn’t see that one coming!

Codex: Imperial Agents, anyone?

So, even though I already have quite a lot on the go with regards painting projects, I’m looking forward to this quite a bit. It’s that sense of borrowed nostalgia once again. I wasn’t around for Rogue Trader back in the day, of course, but it’s something that looms so large in the background lore, and indeed, the meta world of the game as a whole, that I can’t help but feel excited at the prospect of something so iconic to the grim darkness of the far future finally coming to the tabletop!

So October (sorry, Orktober) is going to be the month of the greenskins, and it’s likely the Codex will be coming then, too. With the Space Wolves getting theirs last weekend, does this mean the Genestealer Cults will get theirs in September, maybe? Anyway. I’m not a big Ork fan – I play against them often enough, so it’ll be fun to go Codex-to-Codex against them now, but there’s very little else about the release that I can say, if I’m honest. It’s always good to see new models that replace the older ones with stuff that looks this good, so there is definitely that!

Speed Freeks seems to be a bit like the Gangs of Commorragh boxed game, in that it involves pure vehicle combat within a single faction, but is including a lot of new models – it seems GW likes to launch new kits this way nowadays, which isn’t always a bad thing, as it allows you to flesh out an army while getting the new stuff, usually with a decent saving.

Something that unites both sets of announcements, though, is the new Adepta Sororitas stuff coming – Emperor willing – next year. From Warhammer Fest, we got to see some renders of the weapons – exciting enough, for sure, but I can’t say as it really interested me. Well, maybe the fact that they’ll get a crossbow is hilarious, but still.

The NOVA Open announcement gave us a look at the heads of these girls, and they’re looking like they have a good amount of movement there to suggest some pretty dynamic poses within the kits. Interestingly, the 2018 Chapter Approved will include a mini-Codex for the Sisters that will allow for a decent amount of playtesting feedback to be gathered before the Codex itself lands. Ever get the feeling that they’re almost going too far with this? I get that people are keen to get plastic Sisters, and they want the release to be a memorable one – hell, I’ve talked about this myself years ago – but it’s almost like they’re getting too much special attention. Why should one army get so much playtesting, while others get landed with a copy-and-paste Codex just so as to get the book out there? Hm. It’s always going to be a difficult one, for sure, but it struck me this morning when I was reading this stuff, it just seems to be making this too much of A Thing.

Anyway, clearly I’m now one of those old farts who is just never going to be happy!

I’ve been quiet about Age of Sigmar for a long time now, for the simple reason that I’ve been moving away from the game, and focusing more completely on 40k. However, what looks like the return of Slaanesh to any of the game systems simply cannot go un-mentioned! It has always been my favourite of the Chaos Gods (don’t judge me!) so I’m always going to follow what happens here with a keen eye. Expect more blogs when we have more information on this, including one devoted to just why I like Slaanesh so much…

Now, what the hell is this, when it’s at home?! Is it really going to be the new Battlefleet Gothic? The fact there are ships in the announcement video seems to have a lot of people assuming so, but the announcement compares the game to Silver Tower in a way that makes me think we’ll get a similar line-up of infantry-based miniatures battling through the impossible halls of a Blackstone Fortress. Indeed, it’s being described as a dungeon crawl game over on the 40k facebook page, so I reckon we’re definitely getting people miniatures, and not starship miniatures.

(As an aside, I don’t really know if I’d be into Battlefleet Gothic in the same way I’m not into Adeptus Titanicus – I guess cross-compatibility might be an issue for me, after all!)

Intriguingly, the protagonist/voiceover chap in the video seems to be another Rogue Trader, so it may be possible we’ll see some sort of merging of the miniatures from the Kill Team expansion and this in the future…

I am really excited for these two boxed games, if nothing else, so I’ll be saving the pennies from here on, for sure!

Games Workshop in 2016

Hey everybody,
I thought it’d be fun to do a little retrospective of all the Warhammer stuff that has been coming out this year, much like my 2015 blog. Games Workshop has really been taking their product to the next level this year, from the Fyreslayers and Sylvaneth released for Age of Sigmar, to the Deathwatch and Genestealer Cults, and latterly the Thousand Sons for Warhammer 40,000. Things that we never thought we’d see got models releases, not to mention the community engagement we’ve seen on social media.

This has been an amazing year for Games Workshop miniatures, and it becomes really difficult to choose the top five…

5. Orruk Maw-Krusha
I really like a lot of the Ironjawz release, and did in fact invest in a Brutes kit to try my hand with. I love the look of the maw-krusha as a big grumpy beast, even if the wings do look odd. It’s a wonderfully compact kit, there’s a boxiness to it that I really like. This big boy is a wonderful miniature, and while I haven’t gotten my hands on one yet, I do keep thinking that maybe one day I’ll invest!

Orruks Ironjawz Age of Sigmar

4. Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower
Back in May, the second of two of the best boxed games put out this year by GW hit, and it was glorious. The game comes with 51 miniatures and, while a lot of GW games are usually bought for the miniatures and not the game itself, this time the game was definitely an attraction. Of course, my opinion of the game in the blog I’ve linked to wasn’t particularly glowing in comparison with other dungeon-crawl games but, when it comes to the miniatures, no other game on the market really compares. There are plenty of amazing sculpts in this game, but I have to really single out the elf characters and pink horrors for particular praise. But the Ogroid Thurmaturge… what a spectacular piece of plastic!!

Warhammer Quest Silver Tower Ogroid Thaumaturge

3. Sylvaneth – specifically, the Spite Revenants
There was a beautiful release of Sylvaneth this summer, to support the small force of tree-folk that had branched off (ho-ho-ho!) from the Wood Elves. So many beautiful models, including the Everqueen herself, but I have to single out the Spite Revenants. A dual kit, I love the fact that we have a new look to the tree people, and these part-spirit-part-wood chaps in particular are just amazing. There’s something delightfully malevolent about them, even within an Order faction, and even though I have yet to build up my box of them, I can’t wait to add them to my collection!

Age of Sigmar Sylvaneth

2. Thousand Sons – Rubric Marines
The Thousand Sons release from late this year was something of a surprise, as I hadn’t really thought we’d see God-specific plastic marines, well, ever. Clearly GW are moving in the right direction, though, with the year’s releases as a whole! Traitor Legions has some very exciting rules for all of the traitor legions (no surprises there), which gives me some hope that we’ll be seeing plastic marines for all of the demon primarch releases as time moves along! There are plenty of beautiful miniatures in the Thousand Sons release, but I really have to single out the Rubric Marines for special attention, as they’re by far my favourites. They’re so ornate, as is the rest of the release, but seeing ten of these guys on the front of the box is really stunning.

1. Deathwatch
The Deathwatch has been my absolute favourite of all of this year’s offerings from Nottingham, and while it has been difficult to pin it down to one single model, I think I’ll have to settle for Chaplain Cassius for my all-time favourite miniature of the year. The Chaplain is available from both the Overkill game and his own kill-team box, and is a stunning miniature that I absolutely love! Of course, I also love the MkVIII armour of the Kill Team kit, and have had tremendous fun converting all manner of space marines into Deathwatch battle brothers over the summer! I debated loading Genestealer Cults into this slot also, as they have had some truly amazing kits as well, but I think overall, I prefer the marines of the long watch!

Deathwatch: Overkill - Space Marines

2016 was an absolutely tremendous year for Warhammer miniatures, and I can’t wait to see what amazing stuff is coming our way over the next twelve months…

Warhammer Quest Silver Tower: first game

Hey everybody!
While not exactly planned, it’s the second of a two-part game day! Following last week’s first impressions of the new Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower boxed game from Games Workshop, over the weekend I got to play my first game with it, having spent last week building all of the miniatures. So I thought I’d come back here to talk more about the gameplay and kinda build upon last week’s blog.

Warhammer Quest Silver Tower

First of all, as you no doubt know if you’ve read this blog for any great length of time, I’m a very big Warhammer fan. Warhammer fantasy is what got me interested in this universe, and I’m very much enjoying Age of Sigmar right now. So that kinda colours the perspectives here. I also enjoy a good dungeon crawl, so the stars have really aligned on this one!

The game plays pretty straightforward. I described the various phases last time, where you roll five ‘destiny dice’, discard any duplicates, then roll your hero dice and determine how you play your actions on your turn. In addition to the basic actions, each hero has a few abilities that make them feel somewhat unique, though a lot of this does feel like something of a dice-fest.

Warhammer Quest Silver Tower

Combat was interesting to me. I say this because, whether it was purely down to my good fortune in the game or not, but I seemed to have a pretty easy time of things. The Knight-Questor has the capacity to deal a lot of damage in melee, and can pull as many as three enemies towards him to facilitate this (and make up for his otherwise ponderous gait). The Tenebrael Shard (that’s Dark Elf to you and me) has the ability to move anywhere on the board and then double combat damage dealt in the round, and one of his weapons does d3 damage. That was all pretty powerful, and often resulted in no adversary phase because none were left!

The renown track that goes up when certain conditions are met, such as your hero slaughtering enemies, was a nice way to pace the discovery of skills that can do things like increase speed and whatnot, though at times it felt like it was going up extremely slowly, as I kept drawing chamber tiles with no enemies placed on them! I was initially sceptical about the number of miniatures in the game at first – 45 enemies for a game as big as this seemed a little low, but then there is more to this than just killing stuff.

And this is what I liked about the game. There are all manner of different types of tests the adventure book puts you through, one of my favourites being trying to accomplish a number of dice-based tasks within a time limit. That was actually a lot more fun than I’m making it sound!

I must admit to being a little confused by how exactly you’re supposed to go through the whole trials thing – I made the mistake of just setting it up and beginning immediately, without thinking about any kind of campaign play. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a blast, and I really managed to get to grips with the rules and stuff in the game I had, but without going to the adventure book first, I think I ran the risk of actually just having an endless game of exploring the same tiles and killing the same enemies forever.

Though I guess you could argue that’s the entire point of the maddening Silver Tower of Tzeentch!

Warhammer Quest Silver Tower

The miniatures are tremendous quality, and the game really is a lot of fun. There is a but coming, however, something that kept nagging at me while I was playing through the game:

This will only appeal to a very specific type of gamer: a Warhammer fan.

I can’t really think of any other reason why you would buy this. Dungeon crawl games in a fantasy universe of this calibre aren’t exactly ten-a-penny, but there is a whole lot of choice out there for board gamers these days. Descent and D&D Adventure System games are two that instantly leap to mind when I think of this genre and, while Descent uses a DM in the main game, there are official co-op variants available. The games are all very similar in feel and, to an extent, in style, but buying the base game for Descent will set you back £65 MSRP, while the D&D games come at £45 each. Paying £95 MSRP for Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower is only going to happen if you’re already invested in the world, if you’re interested in getting the miniatures to paint (and probably use in other games, notably Age of Sigmar), and likely not because you’re interested in a fantasy dungeon-crawl tabletop game.

I bought this game because I love the Warhammer setting, and have been thinking about using some of the miniatures in Age of Sigmar. The fact that it’s a co-op dungeon crawl is just icing on the cake, really. If you’re looking for a fantasy game with great miniatures that you just want to sit down with friends and play, then unless you’ve got money to throw around (and time to build the miniatures), I would honestly suggest you check some of the other games out.

But if you love Warhammer and are looking for something lighter than the full-on tabletop war game, then Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower might be exactly what you’re looking for!


Hobby Progress, week 21

Well folks, my hobby progress blog comes of age! 21 weeks of doing stuff with Warhammer miniatures, and what a time it’s been!

This week, I’ve not actually painted anything, but I have built a load of stuff, starting with the Silver Tower minis!

I’ve built up all of the monsters, and three of the heroes, and actually got in a game at the weekend – keep an eye out for the write-up on Tuesday! I’ve not yet got round to painting anything, however I’m planning to do this kinda slowly and do it in stages. I’m not in any particular rush to get them done, I’m used to playing games with unpainted minis, after all, but I do want to get them done soon. Stay tuned for progress here!

Finally, as if building up almost 50 miniatures for the game, I’ve also done these guys! I am so excited about getting these built – I wrote a blog a while ago saying how I’d always wanted to have a Tomb Kings army, and I’m finally on the way to making this happen! The Necropolis Knights are probably my favourite of all those I managed to get my hands on during the Last Chance to Buy thing, so I’m really pleased to see them come together.

I’ve got an awful lot of miniatures on the go now, which is something ideally I wanted to avoid. However, I’m also thinking that it’s best to go along with painting whatever I’m feeling in the mood for – that certainly did me well the week before last, with the Stormcast extravaganza! My degree course has now finished for the summer, so I’ve got four months in which I’ll hopefully get a lot done! I’m really hoping that I’ll get to finish a lot of things off, and get a lot of stuff painted up that has been sat around for weeks or months in boxes. Though of course, this is me…

Let’s see what these four months will bring!

Warhammer Quest Silver Tower: first impressions

Warhammer Quest Silver Tower

Hey everybody!
In a surprise move, I’ve picked up this bad boy at the weekend and, while I haven’t yet gotten around to either assembling/painting the miniatures, or playing the game any other way, I have been doing a little research over the weekend, checking out the rules and reading the interviews and articles in the recent White Dwarfs. I have to say, I’m pretty excited by this game, so wanted to feature it here on a game day blog despite being only a first-impressions thing! But I’ve done that before, not least with the last boxed game from GW, so hopefully you’re all used to it by now!

I also made a video of the unboxing itself:

First of all, as with all of these sorts of things, let’s talk about the little plastic guys inside the box here.

There are six heroes: a Stormcast Eternal (who was another prime motivator in my buying this game), a Chaos Barbarian, a Dark Elf, a High Elf, a Warrior Priest, and a Fyreslayer. I think the most important thing here is that we have the first incarnations of the new elves of Age of Sigmar, and I have to say, those miniatures look beautiful. I was even thinking I might start collecting some when they have their main release for the game, but I think I need to resist there! The Chaos dude and Fyreslayer are both similar to those we’ve seen for previous releases, and the Warrior Priest has that classic look from the World-That-Was, but updated slightly. Oh, and he comes with a mini gryff-hound, which I think is adorable!

In terms of the bad guys, I think I’m more in love with them than any of the heroes!

We have a whole panoply of awesome here, and I have to say, I am truly excited to get started with building these chaps as soon as I have the time! In fact, I’m even considering getting some kind of army of Tzeentchy horrors on the go soon! (More on this shortly, anyway!)

First of all, the Gaunt Summoner is similar to the previous model released last December as part of the Everchosen releases. GW have said they wanted the model to be similar but different to the earlier guy, and I’ve heard a lot of folks at my local store saying they prefer this one to the earlier model. Someone has even said they’d get two boxes of this, one to have as the game and another to just use pieces in Age of Sigmar, specifically for the Summoner and Pink Horrors.

Pink (and Blue) Horrors are some of my favourite aspects of the Warhammer universe. Much like orcs and goblins, there is something delightfully British in the sense of humour that comes out of the guys who design this stuff, I have to say! Pink Horrors are just happy, capering guys who fling pure magic from their fingertips, but if you manage to kill one, it will split down the middle and make two Blue Horrors. These are much more surly and grumpy, mainly because they wish they could be a Pink Horror once again. I can’t hear that backstory without a huge grin on my face! It’s so cute! The quality of these miniatures is just amazing – there are two Pink Horrors in the box, and I’ve heard them described as “the pinnacle of their being”, so they’re really a lot better-looking than the box of troops you can buy for a demons army.

The Familiars are just adorable – things that have been in the lore for a while now, but that have never seen models until this release. The Gaunt Summoner is accompanied by four of them, and they caper about the Silver Tower, cursing the heroes if they fail to catch them. Pug is the moon-faced guy holding a Stormcast helmet, Slop is the walking fish, Blot is the walking book and probably my favourite, and Tweak is the tiny little imp convinced he is a Greater Demon of Tzeentch. It’s all just so adorable!

The main footsoldier-types are the Tzaangors and the Kairic Acolytes. These prowl the corridors of the Silver Tower along with all manner of other weird stuff, including Grot Scuttlings – cursed goblins who are slowly turning into spiders – and a Skaven deathrunner. Prowling over them all, however, is the Ogroid Thaumaturge, a huge hulking beast with magical runes inscribed over his body. I am really excited by this miniature, as he looks like an absolute beast to put together and paint!

The miniatures are just beautiful. Some of them have that Age of Sigmar starter set weirdness to them in how they’re assembled, but they nevertheless seem fairly straightforward to put together. The heroes will probably want more time spent on them, but I’m guessing that some of these minis – the demons in particular – will be painted fairly quickly. Paint Splatter in White Dwarf this week has a double-page thing that just has a paragraph on each, it sounds super-easy to do.

I’ve talked about these minis long enough now probably – though they’re just so beautiful! – so what else do we get here?

A bunch of dice, of course, and hero cards for all six heroes included. There four sheets of die-cut tokens and map tiles, the usual thick cardstock of, say, Space Hulk, which feature gorgeous artwork for the interior of the Silver Tower. We also have two decks of cards – treasures/skills the heroes can come across in the tower, and map cards that determine what room you move into. In addition to the rulebook (and minis assembly guide) there’s an Adventure Book that I’ll get to shortly. The rulebook has the rules for all of the monsters in the game, which are controlled by an AI that sounds fairly straightforward.

So how does the game work?

There are four phases:
1) Destiny Phase, where the first (“runemarked”) player rolls five destiny dice and places all of the unique results on the fate board – this all sounds rather grand, I know! Any doubles that are discarded then trigger the Familiars to do stuff.

2) Hero Phase, where each hero rolls their four dice and places them on their hero sheet. There are three basic actions a hero can take – move, explore and recuperate – as well as those actions described on the hero sheet. To use these actions, players spend dice that have at least that score – so to use the Stormcast Eternal’s Challenge (2+) ability, for instance, you need to allocate a die that resulted in at least a roll of 2. All of the basic actions cost 1, so they should always be available, though recuperate moves up a step each time you use it, making it difficult to heal yourself as you move through. In addition, players can use the destiny dice that were set aside earlier, though there are mechanics that prevent the first player from always using the best.

Exploring is really cool in this game. If your hero is stood at an unexplored exit, he can explore the next chamber by drawing from the exploration deck, and setting that chamber tile with one exit lined up with the exit he is exploring. These cards also have some text to be read aloud, and an encounter that will happen when the tile is revealed. The encounters are split across four tables, which usually describe the enemies that will be found there, but there are also Unexpected Events that might occur, and this is where the Adventure Book comes in.

Much like Tales of the Arabian Nights, there is a choose your own adventure feel to this book. To resolve the encounter, you roll two d6 and determine the result using one die as tens and one as units, so a roll of a 3 and a 4 is determined to be 34. You then read that passage of the book, which can either be a boon or a bane for the heroes. There is an element of the silly Age of Sigmar rules here – flicking through the book, I came across one entry that allows a player to act out the answer to a riddle, for instance. But in the main, the book is a really beautiful, thematic addition to a game that is more concentrated on creating amazing experiences for the players than anything else.

Moving through the gribblies in the tower, you’ll want to attack them of course. Combat is quite straightforward, as you roll dice and compare the result to your weapon’s attack rating – if you equal or exceed that rating, the attack hits and the adversary suffers damage. Each enemy has a vigour rating that describes how much damage it can take, such as the Gaunt Summoner’s rating of 9 (of course!). For each enemy you kill, you gain one point of renown, also tracked on the fate board, though each hero also has other ways to gain renown. Once you go all the way round the renown tracker, you gain a new skill. This is a really nice leveling mechanic of the sort I love in games!

3) Adversary Phase, unsurprisingly, is where the enemies fight back! Much like in the D&D Adventure System games (Legend of Drizzt or Wrath of Ashardalon, for example), adversaries have a behaviour that is determined by the first player rolling a d6. This largely controls movement for the enemies, bringing them closer to the players to attack, but is done in the order determined by the first player. Some enemies will bring forth others – the Kairic Acolytes can summon a Pink Horror, for instance – and these new enemies will act this turn if their group hasn’t already done so. There is an element of strategy involved in who to have act first, at least.

4) End Phase, where the first player changes, and the Silver Tower changes. As the game progresses, the chamber tile where the heroes are remains in play of course, as well as any tile connected to it, and any tile connected to that one. Any other tiles are removed from play, and their exploration cards discarded, possibly to come up again later in the game. Something I find hilarious is that the current chamber is described as the tile where the majority of players are – it’s possible that a hero might be lagging behind, perhaps pinned by a monster that just won’t die, and so that hero might in fact be removed along with the chamber!

This feels really intuitive to me, being used to the D&D system games, and allows for a fast gameplay that makes for some really great storytelling. This is really what the game is all about, as the designers stated in the latest White Dwarf. The rules are kept straightforward and as simple as they can be, so that players can tell the story of what’s happening with their character. It’s a really cool design decision, I feel, as this kind of adventure game really is more about the story you tell than merely throwing dice and killing monsters.

There is so much here, I can’t begin to praise this game enough. This is the fifth boxed game to come out in recent years from GW (if you count Betrayal at Calth as the game it purports to be, and not merely a repository for plastic Heresy-era minis), and I think it’s by far the best yet. Deathwatch: Overkill impressed me no end, but this is a game that I feel like I can play right now – and, indeed, I want to!

Rumours have been flying across the internet of how this will become a main-line for Games Workshop, and while I was initially sceptical about such a move, I think I can see how they would make that so, and it wouldn’t surprise me moving forward. Again, looking at the rumours that have been circulating for previous boxed games, we’ve seen how people speculated on Space Hulk getting an expansion, how Betrayal at Calth was supposed to be getting support but that now seems to be a follow-up, standalone game, and who knows what’s happening with Deathwatch. But Warhammer Quest seems to be a game they’re pushing for some level of customization, which is easy enough to do given they already have the models in stock. Next weekend, the Mighty Heroes expansion brings four new heroes to the game, and the rulebook already features the hero rules for all four of them. The Adventure Book also features rules for four more adversary groups – classic Tzeentch monsters such as the Flamers and the Screamers. I’ve actually succumbed already to this and have ordered a box of Flamers, in part because they’re surprisingly cheap, but I’m also considering getting a Burning Chariot or something as well. In games like this, variety is a huge positive, of course!

This first impressions has gone on long enough now, so I think I’m gonna leave it there now. However, suffice it to say, I’m really impressed with this box. The minis look absolutely incredible, and the gameplay looks to be pretty solid and enjoyable. My local GW is going to start running a game night specifically for these games, so I’m intending to jump on that and get at least a hero built up and ready to join in there. Moreover, I’m hoping that, next weekend, I can make a start on assembling some of these critters, so look out for a hobby progress blog to feature some of that!