Imperial Knight – A Review

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It’s been a little while since I’ve reviewed anything for the Grim Dark Future of the 41st Millennium so this article is a bit of a treat as I’m taking a look at the awe-inspiring Imperial Knight kit. I’ve always felt very fortunate to do what I do but some days I really have to pinch myself…

For those that either (A) aren’t old enough or (B) haven’t been in the hobby long enough, Imperial Knights made their debut in Epic, the 5mm game of awesomeness that has sadly fallen by the wayside along with all the other specialist games. The Knights filled an ill-fitting hole in the military offering of the Imperium being neither a Titan, nor a platoon of armour. Instead they were a kind of sucky middle ground that were often used as a distraction for the Mega Gargants that were also included in the Titan Legions boxset. The Knight Paladins looked a little something like this…

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Now they look like this…

Knight_Paladins_40kI mean look at it! It’s massive. Whilst I lament the demise of Epic Armageddon as much as any gamer as seasoned as I, or as someone who appreciates an amazing rule set, I have to full conceded that the 40k scale Knight is amazing. I wasn’t sold on the idea originally, although I totally called it when rumour of an Imperial large kit was in the offing all those months ago. I thought it was going to be a glorified Dreadknight. Nothing to really write home about. I rarely enjoy being wrong but on this occasion I briefly considered getting t-shirts made.

It looks gorgeous. Now there’s been some nonsense floating around about how GW ripped off the Cygnar warjack design to which I have this to say: the Knight model was there first. Whilst a dramatic evolution from the old models shown above, the hallmarks are all there. Plus it’s just superior in just about every way possible to a warjack model (no disrespect to Privateer). That’s not me Warmachine bashing. It’s better than most models I can think of beyond boutique resin models that occupy a league of their own.

Absolutely everything about the kit screams careful consideration. Not just how the model goes together, which is very clever and in some aspects resembles more an Airfix kit than toy soldiers, but the look and simple posability. Granted it loses something by the legs not being even slightly posable. This does mean that short of attacking your £80 kit with a saw your Knight is going to look largely like any other. However, the way arms and head all go together means that you can still tell a story or strike a roguish pose. And that’s pretty important.

The other significant detail is how very un-40k it is. Now bear with me on this. The Knights are an STC from the first expansion of man. They are older than just about any other fighting machine, suit or armour or weapon in the Imperium. Some have been painstakingly maintained over 15,000 years and so the design aesthetic and the technology level is different. Not vastly but enough that it’s noticeable. Enough that you look at the Knight and can see it’s an entirely more elegant construct than a Warlord Titan or even a Warhound.

It’s all beautiful curving armour plates and simple (but not crude) manufacture for longevity. And the detail is just the best. Everything about the model is stunning. The face plates, the weaponry, even the handles and grip rails that are totally unnecessary but fit right in. My own two – no really – gripes are the battle cannon is a bit bland. I suspect it was designed to look like a lance and it just looks like a slim-line acme cannon. I don’t hate, but I don’t love it and helped me make the decision to build my Knight as an Errant. The other is that some parts of the build are a bit fussy which could be helped if the instructions didn’t suck out loud. The visuals are poor and the close-ups are blurry versions of the main images and so are pointless.

However, it isn’t the most complicated kit in the world so with a bit of careful thought and trying pieces before gluing them you should be fine. One would hope. With careful gluing you can keep quite a lot of movement in the arms just to make things more fun and with some very careful cuts and the strategic placing of magnets you can quite possibly build it to switch out the weapons.

On the board it’s a beast. Weighing in between 370 & 375 points depending on your weapon of choice, it’s a toughie with armour 13 at the front and 12 at the sides and rear with 3 hull points on top. And if that weren’t enough the Ion Shield affords it an invulnerable save. Throw in some handy special rules and some horrendous weaponry and you’ve got yourself a party.

The weaponry is equally tasty. As I mentioned, the options are either a two shot battle cannon – which is nothing to be sniffed at, or a turbo charged melta weapon with more strength and a large blast. Both have merits and your regular opponents will most likely dictate your choice. I opted for the latter mainly from a design point of view, but as I have plenty of opponents with vehicles or multiple wounds, splatting them with a melta gun of doom followed by the fooking great chainsword of destruction is too good an opportunity to pass up. And speaking of the FGCOD, it’s just madness. It has strength D so will pretty much auto annihilate anything it touches. The interesting scrap would be a Knight verses a Warhound. The Knight weighs in a significantly fewer points and would have to endure the torrent of  Vulcan Mega Bolter shots but providing it got into base to base with the Titan I can see the Knight chopping its leg off and then beating the Titan to death with it.

Failing that, take two.

The Imperial Knight is a superb model. It’s not cheap and it’s not the easiest model to build but I can think of at least 5 kits from Forge World that fall into the same category and they’d cost you more. And this you’ll actually use. It’s an indulgence. A gift to you from you. And it’s absolutely bad ass on the board. Not indestructible by any means and it’s the proverbial bullet magnet but it’ll look ace whilst it gets shot to shit. It’s a triumph for Games Workshop and I don’t say that often. Is it worth the money? Honestly? Yes. I’d happily buy another. And another.

The Imperial Knight is available from Firestorm Games priced £76.50.

Wood Elf Art Leaked

It looks like all the naysayers and teeth gnahsers were dead wrong about the Wood Elves being amalgamated into the High Elves book. Indications the pointy eared tree hugging bastards are slated for a May release. Ian of The Chaps will be delighted.

Here’s some sexy artwork to prove it.

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Mierce Miniatures’ Darklands

Visiting Salute this year we saw some pretty amazing things. Genuinely original games, very patient girlfriends and wives who clearly weren’t gamers but still willing to feign interest as their other halves dragged them around the hall – girls in the room at all is always surprising (which says a lot), Boba Fett wandering around and models that defied belief in their quality and detail. One such range came from the Mierce Miniatures stand. The whole team fawned over the plain resin and painted models, cooing approvingly at dragons, chimeras, minotaurs and other creatures of myth and legend.

As one would expect, premium models come at premium prices. But Mierce Miniatures are running a kickstarter. Whilst it’s fully funded this is very a sexy looking range it’s worth a punt.

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Mierce are looking for money to fund their latest version of one of their games. In return, you get a sweet deal on some models. They’ve already reached their target of £20,000 and are well into the stretch goals. With 9 days to go, you can invest in a great new game. Plus minis like this:

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As Matt would say- “PRETTY TOYS”

Whilst at The Shell Case we avoid pledging on Kickstarters to retain objectivity, if we were going to put our hands in our now distinctly empty pockets, it’d be for this. The Kickstarter runs until April 23rd. Just follow this link and check it out yourself.

X-Wing Miniatures Game: Battle Report 4

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight Games

The asteroids drifted slowly in space. Spinning and twisting in an endless orbit with a planet no longer possessing the gravity well strong enough to keep them in place as its rings. By any measure of interstellar navigation it was a hazard, but every other measurement it was suicide. Which was why smugglers used it to hide out until the heat died down. Han Solo scoffed at himself. Five minutes with the Rebellion and he no longer thought of himself as a smuggler? Was that really all it took?

He flicked a series of switches overhead to bring the Falcon’s systems from dormant up to standby. It had been 3 hours since the last Imperial sweep. They had to move and that waiting for the possibility of another patrol or taking a chance. And Han wasn’t one for waiting around. As the familiar hum of energy flowing through his ship turned to the comforting bass noise of the engines powering up he heard a familiar voice and even more familiar tone echoing down the corridor leading to the cockpit.

‘Are you crazy?’ Princess Leia barked. ‘What if the Imperials are waiting for us?’ She stormed onto the bridge. He couldn’t help but stare. He braided hair was scooped up around her head which only accentuated her noble bearing and elegant neck. The flush of checks only enhanced the rouge of her lips and her dark eyes flashed with annoyance. Something else he was familiar with.

‘Listen, your highness,’ He never knew why he did it but he always managed to make ‘highness’ sound like an insult, ‘we can’t sit here forever. This place is a death trap and we need to find somewhere to repair the Falcon and resupply.’

‘It’s too risky.’ Said Leia folding her arms. ‘My ship, my call sweetheart.’ Han turned and brought the ship up to full readiness and started to feed energy to shields and weapon systems.

‘You work for me.’ Leia blurted and instantly regretted it. Han’s contribution to the Rebellion had been small but vital – albeit unpredictable. He had saved lives and won victories and all for a cause he never really bought into and all, she suspected, for her. He didn’t respond well to authority and he sure didn’t respond well to orders.

‘Is that a fact.’ Leia wanted to apologise but the fire in his eyes told her all she needed to know. She sat in the chair behind his and strapped in. Han dropped into his command seat, and shoved the throttles wide open.

***

The Falcon surged towards the edge of the belt, her engines singing as Han danced her through the spinning ship sized lumps of rock. Just as clear space lay before him the proximity alarm sounded. Chewie and Han exchanged worried looks as the Falcon’s sensors brought back signal returns and a familiar silhouette appeared on the display.

‘What?’ Shouted Leia from behind Han. He appreciated her resisting the urge to say ‘I told you so.’

‘We’ve got company.’ He managed as he pushed more power to shields and the Falcon’s primary turrets.

‘Imperial?’

‘Worse.’ He said and Chewie let out a mournful cry. Han worked the controls, reversing course in an aggressive turn that, for a moment, giving a glimpse of their attackers and the familiar for foreboding shape of a Firespray 31 attack craft. ‘Chewie, send the signal.’

‘What signal.’ Leia was borderline hysterical. Not that Han could blame her. Few escaped Boba Fett’s clutches once he was on your trail. Ignoring why the Empire had resorted to using bounty hunters, it was a serious business.

‘A little insurance policy. You’re too important to the Rebellion to go anywhere unescorted.’ He pointed out to port to two bright flashes of light that materialised into the familiar shape of two X-Wing fighters. ‘Let’s get this over with…’

***

Our fourth battle report sees us using the scenario included in the Slave 1 expansion pack. Boba Fett is on the hunt and the target has to turn and fight of face a certain doom at the hands of the galaxy’s greatest Bounty Hunter.

The Rebels got 150 points to spend to the Empire’s 90, however one ship had to be the bounty and would cost double points. They did, however benefit from 10 points worth of free upgrades with the further bonus of being allowed two command upgrades. Which, if you choose right is horrendous. As it was Slave 1 we agreed that the only right and true bounty be Han Solo commanding his ever trusty Millennium Falcon.

The Rebels had to deploy in the middle of the board with the Imperials tucked behind that at extreme range. It was going to get tasty from the off…

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So I finally get to take Slave 1 for a spin! And for this one we have a Bounty Hunt scenario so we have Slave 1 chasing down Han “I didn’t shoot first” Solo. So I’ve tanked up Slave 1 with enough ordinance to take down a small forest moon and its pointy stick waving indigenous population.  I had just enough points left to take a TIE advanced with Maarek Steele with some Cluster Missiles. Between the two I had the firepower to bring down the Falcon I just had to be wary of its turrets, even with Boba Fett behind the stick.

Rebel Scum

So the Fett-man had tracked down Solo and was out for his hide. Just another day the office for the Rebellion’s most loveable scoundrel. The fact that he cost double points was a sting and left me just enough points to take Wedge Antilles (I never leave home without him) and Luke Skywalker once again proxying for a member of Rogue Squadron. The first upgrades for the Falcon were a welcome addition and allowed me to take Marksmenship, Veteran Abilities, the Falcon upgrade and Chewbacca but sadly had nothing left for the plucky X-Wing pilots.

The plan was simple. The Falcon was the target so I’d use that to my advantage. I’d try to lead Slave 1 and whoever else on a merry chase whilst making full use of its 360 degree field of fire, leaving the X-Wings to gang up on targets of opportunity. I just had to hope that the Falcon’s resilience would be enough to fend off the, no doubt, juiced Slave 1.

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Turn 1:

M: It was time to give that scruffy looking nerf herder the hiding he so richly deserved. With only a couple of ships on the board the turns would be flowing pretty quickly. And as I spent fewer points than Phil…because he was forced to…I had the initiative. In short I moved both Slave 1 and the TIE Advanced in sweeping turns to starboard in preparation for attack run on the Rebels.

P: Right, so I had the galaxy’s greatest Bounty Hunter and a TIE Advanced fighter ace on my arse. This is not a brilliant state of affairs as things behind them is what tended to make X-Wings die. With my plan in mind my moves were simple. I made a hard turn to port with the Falcon with the intention of drawing Slave 1 out . It was hard not to hide my relief when I realised my move would take the Falcon out of fire arc for Slave 1. As the X-Wings were going to be hard pressed to make a move out of fire arc of the TIE Advanced I resigned myself to taking some damage in exchange for making a green move to port, removing the stress tokens they were forced to start the game with.

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The TIE Advanced targeted Rogue 3 (being played by Luke Skywalker in this game) but the Rebel danced his way through the volley, coming out the other side unharmed. The Millennium Falcon opened up on Slave 1 thanks to its 360 degree field of fire. 3 hits were scored of which none were evaded, stripping 3 out of its 4 shields.

Turn 2:

M: So Phil’s a dick. Who rolls three hits in their first shot of the game? Bloody no one! Jammy bastard. Losing 3 shields right on the off was not part of the plan. Although neither was finding myself out of fire arc to be fair. Still, no use getting upset about it. I put Slave 1 into a sharp turn to port, bringing the vessel back in line with its prey. Equally my TIE Advanced made a gentle but fast move to run down the X-Wings.

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P: Okay so the first turn was pretty good. Giving Slave 1 a bloody nose would hopefully make Mat a bit more cautious but I doubted it. I had to resign myself to taking a hammering this turn so but the Falcon into a slow turn so I could shake off the stress token. The X-Wings performed a Koigan turn to front off against the TIE Advanced. The Falcon could handle Slave 1 on its own for a couple of turns but if the Advanced was allowed to make an attack run as well it would be a different story.

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The shooting phase opened in earnest with the Falcon stripping away Slave 1′s final shield. It should have been much worse but Mat rolled incredibly well for his evade rolls. In response Slave 1 fired a volley of homing missiles. All put powerless to stop them, the Falcon losing 2 of its shields.

On the other side of the asteroid field Wedge Antilles proved to be just out of range of the TIE Advanced so instead the Imperial and Rogue 3 exchanged fire, stripping taking down each other’s shields.

Turn 3:

M: So my fleet was without shields. Not great. But my homing missile had knackered two of the Falcon’s shields. I had a bit of sinking feeling that my TIE Advanced was about to get seriously ganged up on by the X-Wings so I needed to get a kill in. Or, at the very least, damage the Falcon. Slave 1 continued its turn to port bringing it directly behind the Falcon. Maarek Steele made a turn to starboard, taking him to the other side of the asteroid to take a pop at Han Solo.

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P: The TIE had to die and the Rogues were the ones to do it. They moved dead ahead. The Falcon was done running, making a Koigan turn of its own facing down one of the most lethal killers in the galaxy. What could possibly go wrong?

The Falcon fired first landing two hits against Slave 1 but the Bobe Fett managed to evade one but the second found its mark inflicting critical damage. In response the he fired Slave 1′s Ion cannons inflicting a single hit, removing a shield and fixing the Falcon’s course for a turn.

With Wedge, this time, out of fire arc, Rogue 3 opened fire against Maarek Steele in his TIE Advanced scoring three hits, two of which were criticals. The Imperial pilot failed to evade any and was destroyed in a billowing cloud of flame.

Turn 4:

M: Well cock. As in Phil is a. With Maarek Steele dead I didn’t have much hope that I could deal with the still undamaged Falcon and two X-Wings. But I had to try. It’s what Boba Fett would do. I moved him forward but I rather forget that the Falcon had no choice but to do the same. The result was the two ships ended up in base to base contact and therefore unable to shoot at each other.

P: With the X-Wings now free of their distraction they performed another Koigan turn to bring them round to make an attack against Slave 1 whilst it moved past the Millennium Falcon.

Wedge opened fire scoring a hit but Boba Fett once again evaded. He didn’t fair quite so well against Rogue 3 who scored 3 hits, including a critical. The Fett managed to evade 1 but it took Slave 1 to within an inch of doom.

Turn 5:

M: There was nothing much more to do but play for spite. Slave 1 dropped a seismic charge and then high tailed it out of there. Unfortunately I couldn’t move the ship far enough and Boba Fett finished his move passing the two X-Wings. This was going to be…messy.

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P: The Fett was making a run for it, but not before dropping a seismic charge. Unfortunately for me the Falcon was performing yet another Koigan turn to chase down the fleeing bounty hunter which placed the transport ship right next to the charge. Fortunately I got off quite lightly, only losing another shield.

The X-Wings did little more than adjust their positioning as they closed for the kill.

Annoyingly the Falcon was a whisker out of range leaving the work to be done by the Rogues. Wedge Antilles finally got to shot he was waiting for delivering three hits against the Firespray, none of which were evaded destroying the ship and Boba Fett in the process.

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Live to Fight Another Day

Well that went well. I was able to lead Slave 1 around the board easily enough as the Falcon had a large bullseye painted on it. Where I got lucky was catching Mat off guard with my first turn of movement and some utterly jammy dice rolling which made Slave 1 and the TIE Advanced vulnerable. A combination of green and red manoeuvres meant my X-Wings were able to beat the TIE Advanced at his own game and then see off Slave 1.

Ultimately the Falcon, despite the X-Wings seeing of the TIE and Slave 1, was the star of the show thanks entirely down to its resilience and prodigious fire power. Next game it’s all toys or bust.

Prize Denied

Well fuck you Han Solo. That’s pretty much all I can say about the matter. I think I would have been better off not taking the TIE Advanced and taking 2 normal TIE fighters instead, that or concentrate fire on the objective. My plan was to use the TIE Advanced to distract the escort using the Cluster Missiles to remove the shields and leaving them open to shots from Slave 1, whilst he hounded the Millennium Falcon. But that slimy Nerf Herder pulled it out of the bag again [Does he mean me? - Ed]
Oh well next time a full on fight and hopefully I can get to see exactly what Slave 1 can do.
Wedge Antilles feathered the throttle, cutting speed. Rogue 3 dropped in next to him, killing his own, speed.
‘Nice of you to join me Tycho.’ Wedge said as the two X-Wings cleared a transport sized asteroid in a slow turn to starboard.
‘Just giving Fett some encouragement Rogue Lead.’
‘You hit him?’
‘Oh yes.’
Wedge could hear Tycho’s smile through the comm link. Ahead of them he saw the Millennium Falcon execute an inverted loop manoeuvre that it had no business being able to do. He smiled at Commander Solo’s piloting skill as the Falcon’s engines flared bright blue and powered back the way it came, laser cannons spitting. It was met by flickering bolts of blue ion.
‘He’s coming your way Rogue Lead.’
‘Roger that Gold Lead.’
‘Make it good, he’s fried half our systems.’
A moment later Slave 1, an object of fear the galaxy over, screamed into view, smoke and flame trailing tears in its outer armour. At such close range Wedge didn’t need to do anything other than let the Firespray cross his path.
Slave 1 was already part way through a reverse turn when the laser bolts hit. The ship shook as the bolts chewed through the rear plates and engine manifolds. Flames belched and the running lights flickered and died, the ship losing power and slowly tumbled away.
‘Your clear Gold Lead.’

Salute 2014

Salute 2014So tomorrow the big day will have finally arrived. And it cannot have come soon enough. These last few years I’ve pre-ordered my ticket as soon as possible. Not because I’m worried about missing out but because when I wake up the day after Salute I’m already looking forward to the next one.

For me Salute is the most important date in my wargaming calendar for the simple reason than it’s a room full of people, all passionate about ‘the hobby’ which has many facets to it that go far beyond genre, scale and metal vs resin vs plastic. For a day no one cares who plays what or how much crap we got painted from the year before. Or how much of the stuff we got from the year before we even still own. It’s a coming together of community behind the most inclusive and welcoming hobby there is. And then we walk, talk and breathe toys. And then we spend all of our money on all of the things.

It always tickles me that every year, and I include myself in this, there is a frantic burst of eBaying, Twitter bartering and the chucking of stuff on Amazon Marketplace in an effort to push the budget as far as possible. Because taking £100 isn’t enough. Oh no! £150, that’ll do. But if I sell this or that, or borrow from the savings and promise to put it back, I’ll have £200! And so on and so on. My budget this year is a little less than I’d have liked. The weight of home ownership has rested heavily these last few months. However, it has made me more focussed on what I want and what I need. The difference being that I don’t need the Praetors from Forge World but want them so I’m getting them anyway. But I do need a few bits to round off my X-Wing fleet until the next wave of stuff drops.

I also need to remember to take lunch money because walking around with a satchel or backpack all day is a pain in the arse.

Tomorrow is going to be a brilliant day. And not just because of the buying of all the things. Okay, a little bit that. But because it’s an opportunity to explore the parts of the hobby I haven’t seen, haven’t had the chance to look into or are totally new to me. It’s a chance to make new friends and get reacquainted with old ones and generally embrace this wonderful hobby of ours.

I’m really looking forward to the #warmongers Meet Up, as is the rest of the team. We’ll be meeting at 1pm outside the hall at which point we’ll find somewhere out-of-the-way and compare swag. The last couple of years it’s been a recessed section opposite the hall so we were nice and visible to any late comers.

Finally, we will have The Shell Case pin badges to give away to the first people who come and say hi to us on the day. We won’t be hard to miss, the entire team (apart from our beloved Ashley who is stuck on the other side of a very large bit of water) will be there in shirts. And just in case, they’ve got our names on them so you can tell us apart.

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See you all tomorrow.

Flames of War: Open Fire – A Review

FOW-logo-landscapeA couple of years ago I said I’d never play a World War II game. I said I didn’t feel comfortable with it seeing as it actually happened. Since then I’ve come to understand two things. 1. The logic of refusing to play a World War II game whilst being happy to watch a World War II movie or TV series is bogus. 2. Replaying a historical war doesn’t mean you condone it in the same way that playing a science fiction game doesn’t mean you want the future of humanity to be plagued by galactic war. With this in mind and our renewed commitment to writing about any and all games that cross our path, I decided it was about time I took a look at a couple of World War II titles. The first being Flames of War. Specifically the Open Fire starter set. FWBX03 Flames of War is a 15mm battalion level game which means lots of the toys you love. Infantry, tanks, artillery. And tanks. And artillery. And tanks. Which you get a fair bit of in the starter box. In truth  get a lot for your money. 6 Shermans, 2 Firefly tank hunters, 32 Paratroopers, 73 Grenadiers, 2 PAK40 artillery guns & 3 STUG Assault Guns and a V1 flying bomb. As well as the full rules and a quick start rules both of which are really quite pretty. You also get the associated bases, green and grey dice (no really) some counters and some truly horrid card scenery templates. You don’t get any templates. At all. That you need to play the game.

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This is a bit cheeky considering Battlefront went to the trouble of including the A5 complete Flames of War rulebook in the box. And on the subject of the rulebook: whilst it is very pretty and full of photos, nice artwork and certain parts are picked out like a 1940′s comic, it’s too heavy a book for the binding and within an hour of me reading the rules, the spine had cracked and pages started to fall out. This is a bit shit even if it is only worth a tenner on its own. It also doesn’t include any army lists at all. The big book does that’s three times the price. But if you want to do anything beyond muck about with the core box you’ve got to start spending money. Whilst I’m by no means opposed to army books, a basic list at the back would have been nice so at least players can buy a couple of boxes of blokes. That aside though, the production quality of the rule book was disappointing and will inevitably lead you to buying the hardback copy.

The models are ace however. The contrast between the German and Allied tanks is spot on. For those that didn’t know, I’m a bit of a World War II history nerd and so I appreciate the differences. The Sherman hull almost looks like a miscast. Everything’s a bit shonky. Which is exactly as it should be. They weren’t precision built machines so shouldn’t look like it. The STUG Assault Guns, on the other hand, were and so those models are crisp and clean. It’s that kind of attention to detail that only a handful of people are going to appreciate, and I’m one of them.

The infantry too are pretty good sculpts. They’ve got an impressive amount of detail for the size. Although this is a two-edged sword as it means a quick paint job will look poor. That said, the models don’t look immediately different from one another, and with the US Paratroopers and German Grenadiers all jumbled up on the same sprue it takes some time to find the models you’re looking for. Which is a bit of a pain and a bit unnecessary. Basically you’re only hope will be to refer to the assembly guide to make sure you’ve got the right blokes before you glue them to bases. The casting quality is a bit inconsistent. The Sherman tanks all had pretty bad mould lines which will mean lots of very careful filing around .50 cal machine guns and track sections. The infantry had a few bits around straps and the like but a careful and considered approach should avoid any breakages and such.

The game itself, considering Battlefront’s commitment to authenticity, is all about combined arms, manoeuvring, cover, more manoeuvring and a bit of shooting and more cover. Oh and some planes. It also means stands of infantry, precise facing and a bit of a fiddly mechanic. That’s not to say it’s not good it’s just borders on the hurry up and wait element of wargaming. A quick evening romp through the flood plains of Normandy this ain’t.

Like the models, the attention to detail is impressive to the point of obsessive. The types of movement are broken down into 12 groups for the 12 different unit types. There’s rules for towing guns, moving in buildings, driving through buildings, moving through alleyways between buildings, being bogged down. The list is long. And kinda boring. That’s not to say the game is boring just as I was reading the rules I spent a lot of time wishing they’d just cut to the chase. I’m not convinced there needs to be 12 types of movement or so many distinctions in how to move and least not without slowing the game down.

The most important part of the game is the movement so it’s almost counter productive to make it the most complicated part of the game. It kinda feels like someone got complex and complicated confused somewhere along the way because whilst I appreciate the orchestration of a battalion level engagement is a complex affair it isn’t, necessarily, complicated.

The shooting is, thankfully, a much more straight forward process. That’s not to say it isn’t detailed but it requires a lot less fussing and more rolling dice. Which is nice. And all the fussing and fiddling you did in the movement phase, providing you’ve done it right, will mean that your shooting will not only be potent but effective. I do like how you can opt for Conscripted, Trained or Veteran soldiers which will dictate their performance on the battlefield, to a certain degree. It does mean that two armies from the same side can look and play wildly different depending on the ability of the troops, not just the variety. Weapon systems also have a rate of fire so you can easily figure out how many dice you’re rolling and what you need to do to cause damage. It does get slightly more complicated with tanks and such because locations have to be determined which feels a little too 28mm than 15mm but I appreciate why it’s in there. That said the problem is more the specificity than the mechanic. Once you’ve played a few games all the various caveats for moving and shooting will become second nature much like it was for us old dogs and second edition 40k.

It all works on modifiers so it should feel familiar to most, the challenge will be remembering all the various qualifying modifications and at which points they apply.

Then there are rules for assaults, aircraft and artillery – which includes cool stuff like rockets and smoke bombardments. It really is, as mentioned, a very thorough rule set. And, of course, it means if there are rules for them then there are toys for them. At least there should be. There’s a lot to remember in Flames of War. In many ways it reminds me of Warhammer 40,000 in so much as there are lots of rules that you’ll struggle to remember. But whereas 40k is a simple mechanic made more complicated by rules designed to jazz it up, Flames of War has lots of rules because it needs them to create an authentic gaming experience.

The up shot of this is that some gamers – myself among them – wouldn’t stray very far from the Quick Start rules for quite some time. This isn’t a bad thing as such as there won’t be that sudden rush to buy loads of stuff only to find you don’t want this or that, or you want to sell the Americans and collect Russians instead. It is also a tad too restrictive for the same reason. It’s worth noting, however, that the quick play rules are well worth reading. They’re far more digestible and take you through a

Flames of War is a good, complex, historically loyal and detailed game. It’s let down by a rulebook that’s overly woolly that takes too long to get to the point and too many hairs are split when it does. It is coming from the right place though as Battlefront were determined to write the most historical game they could and at times it really shows. The quick play rules are slick and nicely presented and a far safer bet to work from than the core rules if you’re new to a game as…well, fiddly, as this one. The models look great and you get plenty of them in the box. When the step up is made to bigger games at least you’ll have a decent foundation.

Flames of War will not appeal to everyone. Its OCD attention to detail will mean that the first few games will not be quick. It will also mean lots of different units, with different rules, to get to grips with. However, with some time and effort (and lots of green or grey paint) you will end up with an awesome looking army, playing a game that is every bit as tactical as the period in history that inspired it.

Flames of War: Open Fire is available from Firestorm Games priced £45.00.

Big Damn Painting Competition Extended

Those expecting entries for our Big Damn Painting Competition to appear on the site and our Facebook page are going to have to wait a little longer. We’ve already had some cracking entries come through but we’ve also had a few people say that they didn’t have enough time to finish their entries for the given deadline, or they were asking if they could submit them a day or two late.

Whilst allowing late submissions isn’t fair on those that got them in on time, we want as many people to be in a with a chance of winning as possible. So, with that in mind, we’ve decided to extend the submission deadline by a week.

All the information and rules for the painting competition remain the same other than the amended closing and voting dates below and can be found here.

So the new closing date is the 14th April at midday UK time. Voting will open on the 15th here and on our Facebook page and will remain open until the 22nd after which point a winner and the two runners-up will be announced.

We hope this allows those worried they’d miss out to finish their entries and get the pictures over to us.

Happy painting.

Warhammer World Website Goes Live

The new Warhammer World website went live at midnight and well…it’s…all right. For all the expectation and the hope of previews of cool stuff and news on the redevelopment it just kinda looks a little basic and little bland. However, it’s a big improvement on the last one…because there wasn’t one. And it does allow them to grow and improve.

From a purely ‘go here’, ‘read this’ point of view the site does exactly what you’d want it to do. So that’s good. It just would have been nice to write the word ‘great’ instead. The Warhammer World website can be found here.

Warhammer WorldGames Workshop’s DisplaysBugman’s Bar

X-Wing: Collecting a Rebel Fleet

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight GamesThe addition of a second Y-Wing means my Rebel fleet for Fantasy Flight’s X-Wing Miniatures Game is starting to take shape. With a few games (and wins) under my belt I’ve started to get to grips with the tactics of fighting with a Rebel fleet.

To be perfectly, brutally, honest you can pick up the basics for my approach from reading the X-Wing novels but as that’s 10 books it may just be quicker to read on.

So the Rebellion’s main strength has always been the quality of its pilots. You can put a crap pilot in an X-Wing and they’ll end up dead. Perhaps not as quickly as a crap pilot in a TIE fighter, but still. So when it comes to collecting a fleet your first thought should be to the quality of the pilot you’re putting behind the stick over what the hardware can do.

Granted this is quite limiting at the moment thanks to the woefully slow release schedule Fantasy Flight are working to. There’s various hooky cards floating around the internet and it’s sorely tempting under the circumstances. But the point is, that ability to fire first is vitally important to the often outnumbered Rebellion.

And top tip; try to keep your points under the agreed limit, or at least less than your opponent. Possessing the initiative and the higher pilot skill is too good a combination to pass up.

Rebel Fleet

Profile cards aside the other issue is whether or not you collect a fleet with your heart or with your head. Given the choice, I’d happily collect all X-Wings. Their all round performance means that they’ll be able to go toe to toe with just about any other snubfighter with the exception of the TIE Defender. However the durability and weapons of Y-Wings and the savage speed of A-Wings make them both invaluable to a squadron sized force.

This combined arms approach, coupled with quick draw pilots and durability of those fighters is what makes the Rebels so lethal. And gives you the edge over the oft simplistic and bludgeoning approach of Imperial fleets full of cheap, poorly trained pilots, flying cheap poorly built TIEs. Couple it with the Imperials’ own preferred tactic of mobbing targets and it’s surprising how quickly you can chew through Imperial formations. Concentrated fire backed up by the ability to soak up some real punishment means that, providing you don’t allow your flights to get bogged down, they can take on a fleet twice their size and comfortably and capably deal with it. The trick being to scissor your say through Imperial formations. Try to avoid furballs which allow superior numbers to be brought to bear. And where possible try to plan your moves so you can tuck in behind a target with one element or another every other turn allowing you to hammer everything bar a Lambda Class and Slave 1 with impunity.

The important lesson however is never leave you wingman. A flight of three X-Wings is difficult to deal with. Possessing 9 shots, 6 shields and 9 damage points between them, they chuck out 3 more shots and can soak up 6 more points of damage for the same number of TIE fighters. Don’t be tempted to break one off to finish off a target. Ignore it and move on to the next. By the time the winged target is dead your lone fighter will be two turns away from formation and that’s a long time in X-Wing.

With all this in mind it’s also vitally important to identify threats. Figure out which of your opponent’s ships have comparable pilot skill to your pilots, or a trait that tips the balance in their favour. And then destroy them. Slowly stripping away advantages not only makes your life easier but demoralises the opponent. Plus the Imperial player is going up against a fleet of superior pilots and so target prioritisation almost becomes meaningless to them. You can play to your advantage by applying pressure with different ships at different times which forces them to engage multiple targets, spreading the damage points out.

But let’s not forget the various upgrade cards. Proton Torpedoes are a relative cheap, yet devastating tool. The important this is to not save them. They only work at long-range so fire them off as soon as possible. It’s up to you whether or not you put multiple locks on a single target. If the target gets destroyed by one missile then you’ll just have to wait another turn. The important thing is that you want at least one enemy fighter dead for each flight of two or three ships a turn firing that turn. There are ways this can be improved upon. Marksmanship is mandatory, among one or two others.

And finally: capital ships. Larger, bulkier, and tougher ships like the Falcon serve two vital roles. The first is the obvious magnet for enemy fire. They’re big enough and ugly enough to take quite a pounding. If you’re lucky your opponent will get so distracted trying to bring it down that they’ll ignore the snubfighters scything their way through TIE fighters. The second is their ability to anchor your ever flexing line. It’s 360 degree field of fire means that it will always – assuming you make it keep pace with the rest of your fleet – be able to lend a hand to soften up, or finish off, a problem target. Again, with the right combination of upgrades the Falcon can not only shoot first, but lob out a volley of missiles, repair itself, get a burst of speed or gain the evade ability, which is very very useful.

Ultimately the best advice I can give for collecting a Rebel fleet – assuming all the cards were available – is to go with what you love. Whilst, personally, I wouldn’t recommend a squadron of B-Wings because they’d get danced around more times than the proverbial piggy in the middle, if they’re your jam than take them.

My fleet will, eventually, be 4 X-Wings, 3 A-Wings, 2 Y-Wings, 1-B-Wing, 2 E-Wings and the Falcon. The reason being it offers a near perfect blend of firepower, speed and durability as well as the capacity throw a lot of Ion cannon shots and missiles at my opponents. Seven ships down, 6 to go. Roll on Salute…

The X-Wing Miniature series is available from Firestorm Games from £6.29.

Leaked White Dwarf Astra Militarum Images

As the new Codex rumbles towards release as unstoppable as the Leman Russ battle tank it’ll no doubt over power, here’s the inevitable last-minute leaked images from the upcoming White Dwarf of the new shit for the freshly renamed Astra Militarum including the Wyvern. The badass twin brother of the equally badass Hydra. I make no bones: I want an army just for this kit. And the Valkyries.

WDCover OrderCards Regiments Wyvern2 Wyverndetail Hydradetail wyvern