Two more little gems for you from the up coming White Dwarf of new Eldar stuff. Wraithblades and the new Eldar flyer, the name of which escapes me. I’m not convinced by the distinctly human design of the flyer. Looks a little bit like the Eurofighter in Space…
John Caboche of The First Expedition forum is running a Horus Heresy Weekender charity raffle to raise money for Swindon Children without a Diagnosis which is an extremely worthwhile and important cause to support. Because it’s for children for crying out loud.
The prize is a fully signed copy of the Imperial Truth. I shit thee not.
And all you have to do is bip over to the First Expedition donation page and pledge ten splendid shiny pounds. One (extremely) lucky winner will be drawn at random and win the book. But there’s also some brilliant consilation prizes too which are:
Two fully author signed and Forgeworld signed programmes donated by Black Library
A Horus Heresy Weekender backpack (donated by BL)
An event only Loyalist Legions Poster
An event only Traitor Legions Poster
So get over there, donate £10, bask in the warm glow of your beneficence and if you’re really lucky, you’ll get an awesome prize for your trouble.
This is just too cool not to share. They’ve done me Batman proud with this one. Can’t wait for the game release in a couple of short months.
Whilst at Salute this year I stopped off at good friend of The Shell Case, Amera Plastic Mouldings. I’ve always been a fan of the company as they produce great looking terrain at prices that won’t make you begrudge paying it. And as scenery is often the last thing on a gamer’s mind, that’s a very important quality.
As I chatted with Andrew and Jane my attention was drawn to a massive piece of plastic with a sign on it that said ‘Dreadball Arena available to pre-order’. I immediately turned to Neil of The Chaps who was patiently waiting for me to finish prattling. He too had spotted it and was wearing the same silly grin on his face that I had. I uttered one word:
Neil, having been gripped by Dreadball fever by playing games with me, had just spunked his last £50 on a set at the Mantic stand and so was just as excited at the prospect of (a) having our own Dreadball arena and (b) not having to pay for it until after pay-day.
So we placed our order and all we had to do was wait…
Last Thursday I got a text from my wife saying ‘You’ve had a MASSIVE box arrive in the post. What have you ordered NOW?!’ Needless to say I unperturbed by my wife’s scorn, being rather use to it by now, and hugely excited that the Arena had arrived in time for the game of Dreadball I had arranged with Neil the following night.
So, what do you get for your £25? Well…a lot of plastic… (Dreadball board and giant chocolate buttons not included)
The look of the thing is the perfect amount of sci-fi. The temptation would have been to do something overly complicated and a bit mental, but instead Amera has focussed on keeping it functional whilst still looking completely awesome. And the nice thing is that the detailing it does have means you can go as mental or not as you like with the paint job.
And speaking of paint jobs. As Neil and I got increasingly into the game we concluded that the only thing for it was to buy another arena and paint one up in my team colours – the Lark Industries Iron Men – and the other in his – the Halsey Tech Spartans. Needless to say there was much giddiness and searching on the interwebs for places that sold metallic spray paint.
I love how much excitement having the arena brings to the game. It just makes the game grander. Somehow more immersive and fun. I suspect the plastic is laced with magic.
It’s a solid bit of kit too. It’s vacuum formed plastic like all of Amera‘s stuff but the design and size means that you don’t feel like you have to be precious with it which is good, especially as were you to play a league it’d see a fair bit of use. The only thing to be careful of is choosing the correct spray. You’ll need something hard-wearing as lifting boards out and throwing dice against it will need to chipping otherwise. And, thinking about it, because of the material it’s made of, you can quite easily decorate it with LEDS or ambient lighting. Which would be way cool.
The tiers mean that you can put spare/dead models out-of-the-way as well as have you coach models looking eagerly on. As the range expands, or if you have particularly deep pockets, you can have you bleachers packed with crowds. Although if you look around you can probably find some models that suit.
My only grumble, and it’s not even a fault just more of an idea that we had during play, is that the arena could also do with being an aid to play in that middle of each side could have a recess to keep the deck of Dreadball cards and/or a tray to put your action tokens in as you use them. To be fair it would detract from the authenticity of the arena but it’d be very convenient.
I absolutely bloody love the arena. It’s a total non-essential but makes the game just better. You can’t help but get captivated by that stadium atmosphere. And amusingly enough my iPhone fit in the recess that’s meant to look like the Jumbovision which means that you can bust out some appropriate tunes whilst you play. It’s also light weight and easy to store whilst being tough enough to take the punishment of regular use. And considering all of that £25 is an absolute bargain.
I recall as a child that it would take me an age to decide what toys to buy. The reason for this was simple, I had only a finite amount of pocket money and no matter how much I might wish I could, I could never possess all the shiny Transformers, GI Joe, or MASK toys that I had to choose from. The worst thing in the world would be to buy something that I would regret buying. Especially as you never knew when something else you really wanted could be discontinued without any warning, never to be seen on the shop shelves again.
Twenty-odd years later and to be honest, little has changed. The toys are just a bit more expensive and require assembly and painting.
Fatherhood has brought many challenges, and among them is having to keep to a much stricter personal spending limit for as long as we are a single-income family. I would never begrudge this state of affairs, but it certainly has made me aware of the importance off choosing what I spend my ‘pocket money’ on.
This might not have been so hard a few years ago, when I was only really aware of GW games, but now I am aware of other companies like Spartan, Privateer, Prodos, Mantic, Hawk, and so on. This means that there is a dizzying array of options to stun one into the paralysis of indecision, barely able to choose a game system, let alone an army (or perhaps that should be which army, first). I’m the kind of person who gets stressed if I feel I can’t do something ‘properly’ and this goes especially so with hobby projects so the prospect of juggling multiple army projects across multiple systems has always filled me with an irrational sense of horror. I’m also capable of getting irrationally resentful of the time it takes to build a fieldable army in some games, which is perhaps a sign that I need to relax and enjoy the collecting more.
That said, in times when I have had more disposable income I have managed to splurge hundreds on models that I never touched, so clearly a happy medium is the ideal.
I blogged a few weeks ago about the siren lure of 40k and Warhammer that never really goes away, even though it’s been years since I played either. If money was no object, I could probably slip back into the embrace of GW with only a few qualms, but the fact remains that you have to buy a great deal of pricey models to play those games. That said, it’s a lot harder to ignore the temptation now that the codices and army books for armies I might actually want to collect are being updated.
Skirmish games might be the way forward, but finding one that appeals is the key thing. One thing I have liked though is the new Warzone Resurrection game from Prodos, which I backed on Kickstarter, and in the next week or so I should be invited to select which new shiny things I want them to send to me. I’m 99% sure I’m going to get some of the Capitol faction. For a long while I was leaning toward Bauhaus, but Capitol won me over with models like the Orca walker, Terminator-esque Heavy Infantry and the Purple Shark jetbikes.
After clearing the decks, getting rid of a lot of unwanted stuff and letting the dust settle after some rather abortive attempts at getting back into the wargaming hobby. It’s good to find something I feel happy committing my money too and to have what could be the beginnings of a proper hobby project.
Spurred by this I’m also starting to seriously look at maybe doing some small forces for 40k and WFB – maybe starting at a Combat Patrol sort of size, and maybe only aiming at a 1000 points I can use for the occasional knockabout game. Something that size should be reasonably easy to collect even if I can only buy one box per month and/or set myself a ‘no new toys until what I have is painted’ rule. In addition to the box of unpainted Dystopian Wars ships somewhere in my spare room, it looks like I could have a goodly few projects. Which will mean it is important that I remember what i said in my last post about taking responsibility for making sure I get some enjoyment out of my hobby.
This was supposed to be my 700th post but the excitement of new Eldar stuff got the better of me. So if we can focus on the 700th post landmark rather than my over eagerness that’d be great.
As it is/was a landmark I thought I’d write about something very important. The Chaps.
The Chaps, you see, are a big part of why I love my hobby so much. Whether it’s writing campaigns for them, getting them into new games or just having huge amounts of fun playing games and generally acting like complete children, you won’t find a finer bunch of…um…chaps anywhere else.
The Chaps and I meet once a month for games night. We try and meet up more than this but it’s usually in a pair or a three. games night brings us all together so we can catch up, cock about and play games the only way blokes can.
It’s something I look forward to immensely.There’s few things better than spending an evening with your 5 best mates, rolling fistfuls of dice eating far too many snacks, drinking far too much coke, staying out far too late on a school night and generally messing about.
They each bring different qualities to the group in terms of gaming experience, gaming preference, faction choice, insight, painting method, snacks etc. But they share the same desire to play a game, have a giggle and not take it too seriously. We’re long past the point of worrying where we buy our models from, as long as they look the part. We’re also beyond arguing over an eighth of an inch here or a whisker out of charge range there. We play to the spirit of the rules and always try to put the narrative first.
Basically we’re in it to have as much fun as possible, not field broken lists in an effort to beat the sweaty middle aged fat bastard that tends to appear at every Wargaming club in the world.
The other thing that never fails to amaze and humble me is their willingness to trust me. Not just when I talk about new games but when the group has grown. Lee has only been a part of of the group for about a year and a half, but the others trusted my judgement that he was a good guy and would fit with our dynamic. And equally when I introduced them to prospective Chap, Mat, a couple of weeks ago they were equally trusting of me but, more importantly, welcomed Mat and made him feel at home.
It sounds like a snobby, exclusive, club and I suppose, in some ways, it is. But for me it’s more than that. The Chaps are family and I’m very lucky to have them. If there’s anyone out there with a similar group of friends then they’ll know exactly what I mean. If you don’t: go find some awesome Chaps to game with and your wargaming will never be the same.
To that end, this post is dedicated to Ian, Neil, Jeremy & Lee. You’re all awesome and long may our shenanigans continue.
Another imminent release another batch of leaked photos. Below we have the rumoured Wraith Knight as well as a glimpse at the Codex art. The eagle eyed amongst you will also notice the Iyanden Codex Supplement which pretty much tells you what you’ll have to do if you had a specific craftworld in mind. Prepare to dig deep in those pockets…
So regular readers will know that I rather took to the Tau Empire Codex. Followers on Twitter will know that I decided to collect a small 1,000 point force to use as allies with my Ultramarines. Quite what 9,000 points of Ultramarines, including the full first company needs from 1,000 points of Tau I don’t know but I wanted some and didn’t want to break my ‘no new Games Workshop’ army rule.
I started the project by quite impulsively buying the Commander Shas’o R’Alai model at Salute. At that point I hadn’t even written a list and wasn’t sure if I wanted crisis suits because I dislike the plastic models so much.
R’Alia however is just too cool not to use as a force Commander. I just love the look of the model. Aside from being a graduation to a more ‘grown up’ style, it just feels like it was intended for war. Granted, the submunitions rifle helps but still.
I also loved the fixed sensor ‘head’. Aside from looking far more menacing than the standard block heads I like the idea that the head is purely a design choice and not actually needed for the pilot to crump skulls and mang faces.
The other thing I love about the model is it kinda reminds me of the robots from Castle in the Sky. I dunno why. Maybe it’s the segmented gangliness. Maybe it’s the glowing read eye.
Although in Castle in the Sky the robot has a laser face. Which is something the Tau should maybe look into.
But anyway, the model is way cool. The design is a little like a Transformer in so much as it looks like it could change into a plane or something at a moment’s notice.
In terms of building the model, however, the coolness ends and is replaced, instead, by misery. The biggest problem with Forge World kits is usually Forge World themselves. They’ re such an excitable bunch of scallywags that they design kits without really thinking about the practicalities of cleaning or building them. Let me explain: to build the model you have to glue the feet, legs, hip joint and body all pretty much at the same time. This is very difficult. It is also made worse by the fact that the feet and the ankle joints don’t fit. At all.
So you’ll have to resort to the time-honoured method of slapping on slightly more glue than is needed and getting everything stuck together before the super glue sets. Needless to say it can result in the pose not being quite what you wanted so if you can, try blu-tacking it all together first, especially as the arms are no better. Although they’re very cleverly designed using a curve and pivot joint which allows quite a degree of poseability but still being straight forward to build.
The story is a similar one with the Shas’o R’myr’s suit which I bought as a unit leader. Although this bad boy is a conversion kit, using the back and feet of the standard crisis suit. The fit between the two torso halves is surprisingly good and does wonders to change the look of the crisis suit that I’m amazed at least a conversion kit wasn’t made available for the re-release of the Tau range.
I also love the head. Again, it’s just a more interesting look and the single aerial on the back makes the whole look sleeker and more menacing. Same for its load out really. Twin-linked plasma rifles and big boss of a shield is nothing to be sniffed at. But, again, the kits is let down by the over ambitiousness of the kit and the often non-existent QA at Forge World.
Aside from the legs coming in two parts hand having to stick to plastic feet, they also had to stick to a body made of two difference materials creating a socket that wasn’t completely flush. Needless to say it collapsed under its own weight more than once in the process of building it. But the icing on that particular turd flavoured cake was that one leg had been soon poorly cast that it was not just warped but transparent. I shit thee not you could see right through the entire joint piece. Granted this isn’t going to be an issue once the model is painted but the brittleness of the joint has got me treating the model with kid gloves. More so than I would normally with the shatter prone resin that Forge World uses.
It occurs to me that you’re almost better off building the models of they’re on flying stands so the pose is much easier to position. Although there’s every chance you’ll have every crisis suit looking like a not-gay Dean Cain taking to the skies on cable from the Adventures of Superman, complete with awkward bent leg.
The bottom line, however, is that the crisis suits from Forge World are immensely cool. So much cooler than the standard GW ones and if I’m honest they’re worth the higher prices and the frustrating amount of cleaning and build time required. They’re even worth the truly reckless amount of wastage Forge World produces. The models just look ace. They look like they’re designed by a species surprisingly bothered about looking good whilst they kick your face in. Which is absolutely the way it should be.
It’s been a wee while since I looked at a video game and as I was given Tomb Raider by my lovely wife for my birthday earlier in the month I figured it would be a good opportunity.
Back in the distant 20th Century in the year 1996 a game came out that changed video gaming as we knew it. Not only was graphically and environmentally ground breaking but it put the character at the heart of the story, not just the action. Of course it helped that she also had enormous, pointy, boobs.
I loved the Tomb Raider games growing up. I enjoyed the puzzles – as frustrating as they often were – and the action could be genuinely hairy. Sadly, like so many franchises of its day, it became the victim of its own success and soon Lara Croft was surrounded by bastard children each uglier than the last. I hung in there with the series until the Angel of Darkness that looked so bad I resigned myself to the notion that Tomb Raider would become nothing more than a cash camel for the publishers until sales dropped enough that they could close the studio and move the developers on to something else.
I played Anniversary for nostalgia’s sake in 2007/2008. And it was fine but all it was was a veneer over old levels. I know the clue was in the name but it pushed ‘homage’ to its absolute limits. I even bought Underworld. But didn’t get past the first level, the novelty of ‘realistic environmental impact’ – she got dirty basically – wearing off incredibly quickly along with the overly fussy targeting system.
And there things would have ended had not some bright spark decided to jump on the reboot band wagon and hit the reset button. At first I met the news with indifference, then mild disdain when I heard the story was going to be an origins piece. I rolled my eyes and I may have uttered an obscenity or two – not like me at all – and moaned about how video game developers were getting as bad as studios for resetting a clock rather than just drawing a line under the shite and moving stories along.
Then I saw visuals. The grim, gritty and visceral realism appealed to me hugely. Because I’m mental presumably. The focus was the story, which is where it should be but driven by a beautiful looking graphics engine and impressive game play. At least, that’s how it seemed.
And you know what? It kinda delivered.
So the premise isn’t a complicated one. A young Lara – she’s 18 so it’s okay to still stare at her tits – is on a merry quest to prove herself to her long lost/dead (delete as appropriate). It all goes tits up when the ship – typically called the Endurance – hits a storm and gets ship wrecked. And, obviously, much mentalness ensues surrounding a sun goddess with natives and weather patterns that would be right at home in Lost. And seeing as there’s ship and plane wrecks from just about every era in history you’d be forgiven, on occasion, for getting the two confused.
It’s not a complaint per se, it just highlights the devil is in the details, and some of the details aren’t very original. But then again Tomb Raider is basically Indiana Jones with boobs so what the hell.
Although the previous incarnations never worried about mentally scarring its audience with crypts, animal slaying and being dismembered by dinosaurs, the new Tomb Raider gets so grim and dark it comes dangerously close to getting a cease and desist letter from the Games Workshop. At times the physical and mental abuse that Lara experiences is tough to watch at times, realised as it is with some truly stunning cut sequences. I swear at one point she’s drenched head to foot in human blood. This shit ain’t for kids. 14 year old me probably would have had nightmares. Some of the death scenes even for my jaded and cynical eyes are a tad too much to bare too with, depending on which quick time event you fuck up, sees Lara getting her face impaled on a metal spike or bodily impaled on a tree branch with all the properties of a metal spike.
Sadly the quick time events are back. I’ve never been a fan of quick time events because it’s just a way of punishing you for wanting to sit back and watch the action. Anniversary handled quick time events quite well giving you reasonably time to respond. Tomb Raider 2013 is rather brutalwith the speed it expects you to press buttons. Needless to say the story isn’t flexible enough that a bodged quick time event could lead to the same end point but along a more unpleasant path, instead it usually results in a grim and unpleasant death.
Equally some sections feel very formulaic to the point you’d mistake them for a series of Steven Segal movies. But instead of his buddy getting shot in the arm or the bag guy punching the car window where Segal’s face use to be it goes something like this: action sequence, exploration sequence, action sequence, wander about like a twat, break something plummet down a slope or fast flowing water whilst avoiding inplausibly positioned barriers and other unpleasant obstacles. It wouldn’t be so bad weren’t those ‘sliding’ sequences so intensely unforgiving and take a couple of stabs to complete. And seeing as they’re an inconvenience and purely a mechanism to move Lara a significant distance without making the player grind their way through pointless set changes, you’d think they would make them a little easier to navigate.
Not that the game is hard to navigate. Long gone is the aimless wandering around environments. Instead everything is conveniently laid out on a map so you can find relics, note books – which give you a very cool insight into the shenanigans that have gone on prior to Lara’s arrival – with relative ease. In fact, because the controls are so intuitive, including instinct sight which highlights key objects and terrain features in yellow for a moment or two, a lot of the challenge has gone from the game. It’s not entirely bad. Lara will no longer allow you to walk her off a cliff edge. She will also crouch for you rather than having to hold a sodding button. Because of this fluid movement she finally feels like a person rather than a statue that weebles around just to face a different direction. But the important thing is that it feels like a Tomb Raider game. Puzzles still need to be solved, ledges climbed and rock faces to be scaled.
The challenge comes from the beautifully realised environment which can turn on you at the drop of a hat, and bad guys which range from shooty mental to run at you with bloody great machetes mental. And the AI is good too. On normal they will attempt to suppress and out flank you whilst all the while attempting to burn you out of your cove with Molotov cocktails and explosives. They keep you under pressure so God knows what hard is like. And your cover breaks apart too. The game does give you plenty of objects to help you blow up or set fire to your assailants though so it’s not all bad but even with that Brucey bonus I still felt hard pressed at times to deal with enemies.
The combat is the slickest it’s ever been although some times the camera does struggle to keep up. The weapons feel balanced and their existence justified, but there are times when the game tries to push you into playing a particular way and when you don’t enemies are defeated with surprising ease. The key is usually long range manging of faces.
Where it gets a bit daft is the endless foraging for scrap that allows you to turn, for example, a World War 2 Japanese Type 100 SMG into an AK-47 and a simple recurve bow into a compound bow. I don’t claim to understand the mechanics of firearms but I did use to do archery and that’s a staggering amount of bullshit. However, it’s a reasonably clever way of improving weapons to compete with the ever increasing stakes. And to be fair a lot of the upgrades are extremely cool, it’s just nonsense that a person with no formal training in such ‘bush engineering’ (fnar fnar) could turn a pistol into a commando pistol. There’s also a range of natty skills that you can develop along the way including some brutal finishing moves which look fantastic.
Tomb Raider, despite its slightly formulaic campaign progression, irritating quick times and nonsensical equipment development, is a superb game. The story is nicely paced, the stakes getting amped up with Lara being pushed further and further, gradually becoming the wall climbing, gun toting adventurer we all were captivated by 17 years ago. And this time her boobs won’t impale you if you get too close. The difficulty curve is pretty much perfect too, with shit getting real…um…er at a rate that won’t make you throw down the controller in frustration. Tomb Raider is just fun. Huge piles of it. It doesn’t get bogged down with the weight of expectation, it just massively entertains. It’s a worthy start to a new saga and I’m looking forward to what happens next.
This is long overdue, but following on from my interview all those months ago with Matthew Glanfield, one the creative minds behind Dark Potential, I got to take a look at a set of the toys from Dark Potential. Specifically the Reclaimers.
The Reclaimers, for those not in know, are the descendants of the crew aboard humanities fleets. Born and raised on board space faring vessels, their bodies have adapted to a life spent in zero gravity and as such need exo-suits to be able to survive on Earth’s surface.
So they’re all a bunch of weeds. But weeds with big shiny guns.
So what’s in the box? Well 7 Reclaimers including a captain, an initiate squad (a leader and 3 blokes), a forward observer and a redeemer. Which presumably is the chap with the big gun.
As I haven’t (yet – hint hint) read the rules for the Reclaimers, I can’t comment on the rules but the look of the Reclaimers is pretty cool. I love the Iron Man/Crysis mash up going on with the exo-suits and the fact that they’re all all slightly different as if built, or at least maintained, by their owners rather than something off a production line. It’s a nice touch. They’re futuristic but at the same time have a twist of the ramshackle. Which I like.
The weapons I’m a bit mixed on. Partly because I don’t know what any of them do and because MiniWarGaming went for a very ‘alien’ feel. It’s not a bad thing, I just have to assume they’re some sort of energy projectors. The Redeemer looks a little…old fashioned, I guess is how I’d describe it. It reminds me of the Space Marine missile launcher from second edition Warhammer 40,000. It’s not really a complaint, it just seems a little at odds with the small arms which are, by comparison, very high tech. Of course it could be some super sci-fi mega weapon of face kickery for all I know but there we are.
Being honest, which is kinda my thing, I don’t like the forward observer. I understand why it was designed the way it was but it makes the model feel 20 years out of date, the pistol and view finder especially being quite lazy sculpts. I’m sure he’s pimp in the game but he just doesn’t do it for me. Not, at least, whilst striking a mighty and heroic pose fresh out of a 70′s comic book.
The quality of the models is pretty good. What mould lines there are, are very slight and don’t run over anything too important and/or lumpy so that’s a bonus. I like sensible casting. The arms and heads also fit the models nicely, although make sure you marry up the rifles to the bodies before you start gluing as it’s not immediately obvious what goes where.
All in all the models aren’t bad. They look cool and the weapons are largely on the good side of different. I like where MWG drew their design influences from, but I do wish they hadn’t rushed the observer and that the captain wasn’t holding a Pokeball. I also wish they weren’t £40 a box which is a pretty tall order for 7 metal models with cheaper models with comparable quality in the market.
It’s difficult for me to find justification in a price that makes GW & Hawk Warmgaes, by comparison, seem good value. The models are cool though and I’m sure the game is good but right now with those prices I wonder how far it can go without a Kickstarter or some such to really give the investment to release a wider range that hopefully has a lower cost per model.