Mark of War Coming to Kickstarter

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Friend of The Shell Case, Gav Thorpe has been a busy boy. Not content with penning novels of various types he’s also been working with Warpforged Games to produce Mark of War – a tabletop wargame for the PC & Mac. No I haven’t hit my head. The idea is that you can collect armies just like you would in the physical realm, but in the virtual world of Mark of War instead. And then you get to watch them knock seven bells out of each other. What’s not to love?

Launching on Kickstarter in August it looks the woeful Shadow of the Horned Rat only, you know, good.

Banner_GameplayI’ve lifted the Key Features from the website to give you an idea of the level of awesome involved in this project:

Game Overview   Mark of WarI think you’ll agree, it all looks rather groovy. It’s the answer that the ever-expanding and international community of wargamers needs. I’d love to play my fellow hosts on Of Dice and Men but in the absence of several thousand pounds to go and visit the only option up to now was Vassal. Which I hate. No offence to anyone who uses it but I can’t stand it. So Mark of War is very exciting indeed. Plus it’s a new fantasy world. Written by Gav Thorpe. Who has some experience in that area. So it’s going to be awesome.

If we’re very well-behaved he might even write something about the game for us.

I’m really looking forward to this Kickstarter launching and the fully completed product at the end of it. And for anyone worried that we’re at the raggedy edge of progress, here’s a reassuring view for those of us that remember White Dwarf from when Mr Thorpe appeared at the fore of an army or two…

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Either head over to the Mark of War website or like their Facebook page to keep abreast of developments.

 

X-Wing Expansion: Tantive IV – A Review

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight GamesI was very young when I was first exposed to Star Wars. Return of the Jedi was released when I was just a year old and so I was watching the Original trilogy on VHS (kids you’ll have to Google that) from around 2/3 years old. I didn’t have that seminal, life changing, moment that friends that are a few years older had. Instead I was born to a world with Star Wars and actually that makes me pretty lucky. I grew up watching and rewatching those incredible, industry changing, films countless times.

Even now, 30 odd years later, the opening scene of Episode IV is just as exciting as it was when my tiny infant mind was first exposed to intergalactic violence. And even now I still look upon the ‘Blockade Runner’ as it became known with great fondness.

So when Fantasy Flight Games announced that the Tantive IV would be released I must admit to a certain degree of nerdgasm. And with fairly good reason. Aside from being an incredibly cool looking ship and an iconic one at that, it was also going to completely change the way X-Wing played. Introducing large vessels not only could make for some scenarios very close to the kind available on the X-Wing PC game but introduce campaigns and even ship to ship combat rather than just snubfighters.

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When the Tantive IV arrived from the good people at Firestorm Games I was, according to my wife, as excited as a kid at Christmas. Who am I to argue. I was. It’s the Tantive IV for crying out loud! And it’s massive. I thought the Rebel Transport was big (a review will eventually be written I promise) but the Tantive is crazy big. Below is a size comparison (swanky star mat kindly provided by Deep Cut Studio) and as you can see it dwarfs the transport and makes the X-Wing look very flimsy indeed.

IMG_3026But as one would expect from something classified in the game as Epic. And it is. Very. But so is the truly embarrassing amount of packaging. I’ve commented on this before but it’s just mad on this occasion. If Fantasy Flight were willing to have just one window on the box rather than two it could be half the height. Granted, most of it can be recycled but it’s an unnecessary cost of production which gets built into the cost of the model.

The model itself is impressive. The larger the X-Wing models get the better the detail – stands to reason – so the Tantive is impressive. I even brought up images on Google to compare the model with the original and it’s all pretty faithfully done, right down to the asymmetrical hull sections. The ventral turrets and radar dish move which is a nice touch. But be aware they’re a little on the flimsy side so if you don’t have a case for the Tantive make sure you keep the plastic tray it comes in so you can keep it safe between games. It is epic though. I mean so impressive. And the joy of scrutinising the model and identifying little details cannot be emphasised enough. Being able to use this ship in a game is, well, epic. There’s also the usual stack of cardboard. Cards, upgrades, energy tokens etc. And all produced to Fantasy Flight’s usual standards.

What really lets the Tantive IV down, however, is the paint job. Now I appreciate and accept that having mass-produced pre-painted models is going to mean a drop in quality somewhere along the road, especially considering the volumes Fantasy Flight are being forced to ship now. However some parts of the paint job are just down right sloppy. And for the money they’re asking this shouldn’t be the case. Of all the ships I own – which is a lot – this is the only ship I think I’m going to have to repaint. Not because the quality is staggeringly under par compared to the rest of the range but because it’s so big the flaws are glaring obvious which is a bit of a shame. Overall and when on the board it does look awesome but once you spot a mistake your eye will be drawn to it every time.

In game terms the Tantive behaves rather differently to its more agile cousins. For start its a walling cow of a craft when it comes to movement. There’s two reasons for this. 1 the designers shrewdly acknowledged that it was represented at the speed depicted in A New Hope it’d fly off the board in a single turn. 2 this game is about the fighters ultimately and being able to have a squadron of anything swarming around a Corellian Corvette is immensely cool. Just putting an X-Wing or the Falcon next to it gives me hobby stirrings so you can only image what it’s like in-game.

The Tantive – again in difference to the fact that to behave any way would make it devastating – has to generate energy before it can do anything. For those that remember Titan Legions and using the Imperator or Mega Gargants, it’s not entirely dissimilar to that. Energy is produced and then directed to systems which allow it to perform special actions and fire secondary weapon systems. The good news is firing its range 5 (yes I said 5) turbo lasers isn’t included. It’s assumed there’s enough energy available to fire primary weapons and drive the engines. As the ship takes damage energy can be lost or you have to make the choice between diverting energy to make repairs to continue to fight. It’s kind of a game within a game which is a nice touch.

Upgrades can obviously augment the energy levels as well as generally up its lethality. Not that much is needed. Especially if you have a fighter escort within the vulnerable 1-2 ranges. However the option to take Prince Leia, Raymus Antilles, R2D2 and C3PO is pretty cool and most of the upgrades are worth taking. And some of them can be taken with other craft as well so there’s some nice buffs to be had across your fleet with our without the Tantive IV on the board.

The added bonus that comes with the Tantive IV box is a campaign leaflet which is something that’s always been lacking. Yes there’s been missions but they’ve always been stand alone. This adds the missing piece of the puzzle. Whilst not long or complicated it’s something you can build on and gives you a series of missions that allow you to bust out the Tantive in various capacities which certainly increases your return on investment.

Although the X-Wing Miniature Game has never been about value for money. It’s been about Star Wars on your gaming board. It’s about X-Wings facing down TIE Fighters and daring dogfights. Heroes and villains, good and evil and some way cool ships all smashed together in the form of little plastic ships. So in those terms the Tantive IV ticks all the boxes because it’s the iconic ship of the Rebellion, a desperate and ultimately failed gambit and all wrapped up in that gorgeous looking craft. And it’s all mine.

The X-Wing Miniature Game expansion, the Tantive IV is available from Firestorm Games priced £67.49.

Deadpool Movie Test Footage

Whilst I’m not terribly knowledgeable about Deadpool as a comic book character, I know he’s a complete mentalist. So this test footage for the film seems to fairly accurately hit the mark.

Warning it’s very sweary. Not that should bother you if you’re a regular visitor of this site but as trailers usually aren’t I thought it better to say.

- Phil

Codex Orks – A Review

warhammer-40000-logoThe first Codex of 7th Edition and one so sorely deserved, the Orks having been passed over during the 5th & 6th edition iterations. I have no idea why it took so long for the Games Workshop to give the Orks an updating although I must confess the likes of the Dark Eldar did need it more. Because they were shit.

So the warbosses of the world can rest a little easier on their piles of teef and loot, safe in the knowledge that they’ve finally got a new Codex. And it’s really quite good…

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First up the background is a cracking read. It’s the first time in ages I’ve felt really engaged by the background. Perhaps waiting so long between the iterations has given the design studio plenty of time to mull things over. Whatever the reason the Codex feels more coherent and more complete than it ever has before. Whilst not every page is original content everything has been tidied up and the expansion of the background around Ork society is incredibly interesting to the point that I went from having no interest in collecting an Ork army to really wanting to collect an Ork army. And I hadn’t read the army list yet.

An awful lot of effort has gone into making the Orks feel like a civilisation rather than a vague, mindless conglomeration of tribes that sort of maybe invade places and are sort of maybe a problem. The downside of this big zero gravity moon step forward in the background is that it goes too far the other way. Much like the rule book it beats you over the head with the utter hopelessness of humanity’s situation which is irritating but the writing around it is strong enough that you push it to one side. What isn’t awesome about the writing is the…you guessed it…typos! It ran great guns for the first half of the background but then mistakes started to creep in and one sentence just made no sense. Literally none. And that’s pretty shonky editing.

That aside, the background is fantastic and really well presented along with the rest of the book with some ace new artwork and klan descriptions that really help you to understand who you could be collecting rather than just the cool shit you can justify taking. It still justifies it of course but in a far more interesting way. But best of all the background reintroduced Freebooterz in a such a manner that I can see players actually taking an army of them now. They’re no longer a 30-year-old foot note, but a viable army thanks to having something concrete written about them.

No Codex would be complete without the photo section which, like the Galaxy at War book is a little thick but beautifully shot. As I flicked through the pages I did feel slightly taken for a ride (a) because there was lots of photos and (b) they were only of one klan. Which means supplementary codices, which is a bit of a con if you don’t want to paint you Orks yellow.

The army list has a streamlined layout which personally I’m not wild about. In previous Codices the book would describe each unit in turn, detailing special rules etc then provide you with a handy-dandy army list at the back with all the points values so it was all tidy. With the new Codex Orks all the information is on the single page. This makes for a lot of page flicking made worse by the fact that the weapons and upgrades are all at the back in the traditional format. Whilst it’s not the end of the world and leaves space for more fluff, more units and more upgrades, it’s a less efficient way of working an army list as units in the same part of the organisation chart were all on the same page, or as much as possible.

The main changes to the army list revolve around the special rules. Ere We Go makes up for the changes to Furious Charge, making it far more likely Orks will make it into combat thanks to a re-roll. The Mob Rule has also changed much to non-Ork players’ delight. It was far too powerful and was massively open to abuse. Now it feels more like the Animosity roll from Warhammer but instead of your mobs doing feck all they count as rallied but it may result in a few Orks being stomped into the dirt. So very much a two-edged sword. I suspect this’ll be toned down in the next edition because it does seem a tad heavy-handed.

Obviously the big and exciting new entry to the Codex is the mandatory walker model. Although the Orks get two. Because…well because fuck you basically. The Gorkanaut and Morkanaut are big, nasty and expensive. But the bigness comes with big shooty weapons and armour 13 to the front and sides. And as one would expect from a new Ork unit, it has weapons of one stripe or another bolted to every surface. Throw in the fact that they have a transport capacity and the Morkanaut can take a kustom force field and it makes for Orky levels of lethality. Flashgitz too have had a tweak to make them worth taking with a reduction of points and some shiny new models and further allows gamers to take a themed Freebooterz army.

Indeed the book is full of dakka related lethality and whilst the naming convention behind Da Dead Shiny Shooter or Da Finkin Cap may not be everyone’s cup of tea there’s no denying the new and exciting ways in which to inflict misery on your opponent. The Orks as an army seems to channel the most fundamental rule of wargaming: rolling lots of dice is fun. Things like the Deffstorm mega cannon which allows you to roll 3D6 Strength 6 shots a turn.

The only thing that counts against the army is the sheer volume of unit options. There’s tonnes of them and you’ll never be able to take everything you want within the usual force organisation structure which is a bit of a downer but with some careful planning you can take most of it. But I suppose the point of the Orks is that they have a solution for every enemy. By having a strong core to your army and a few options in the Elite, Fast Attack and Heavy Support slots you can simply swap one unit for another depending on who you’re going up against. Granted this is good news for the Games Workshop but as you’ll need hundreds of models for your army anyway, what difference does another 20 or 30 make? And the fact is they’re all useful. There’s nothing in the Codex I wouldn’t take. Sure there’s stuff I’d take over the others out of preference but there’s nothing in there that makes me question its place in the army.

Codex Orks is immensely fun to read. The background is engaging and genuinely a huge leap forward from where the Orks were. The army list is varied and whilst some of the rules have been changed or toned down a bit the green menace is still exactly that. The book has found the perfect balance between presenting the Orks as being the ‘fun’ army and being a force that will simply smash you to bleeding bloody chunks. All this adds up to a great book and an army that I’m so sold on I’m going to start collecting them.

Codex Orks is available from Firestorm Games priced £27.00

Gamers Gonna Game

It’s that time of year again when the Games Workshop releases their financials and the community explodes with rumours that they’re going under, that Hasbro will buy them out, that they’re woefully out of touch and they can basically go fuck themselves.

I freely admit to being guilty of this to some degree in the past. I’m the first to admit that I gripe about the pricing model either on The Shell Case or on Of Dice & Men (I promise there’ll be another episode up soon!) with some regularity. And I stand by those comments. The models are expensive. But you know what? I still play their games and I still pay their prices so who’s the bigger mug?

Reading Twitter today I was quite shocked by some of the comments that wargamers were making. Whilst I’m sure similar comments were made 6 months ago and the 6 months before that and so on, I’ve just never noticed until now.

For a hobby that is as inclusive as ours I’m bummed out to see so many people are willing the company to fail. People that moved to Warmachine or other game systems as an act of protest or to spite the Games Workshop – as if the Games Workshop knows each and every one of us and gives a shit what we do, say or think – berate for playing Games Workshop games and celebrate every penny lost in profit as a personal victory. And before I get pelted with angry comments I have to point out that no company genuinely gives a shit what we do, say or think. Not truly. If they did the XBox One would be free and delivered on a velvet pillow by the glamour model of my choice (don’t pretend I’m the only one who made the suggestion on the forums).encourage

I play Games Workshop games. I play the games they discontinued too and whilst I really wish they hadn’t canned Battlefleet Gothic and Mordheim, I understand why they did. But as I say, my understanding, my compliance or even consent is not required. Just my acceptance because there’s sod all I can do about it. Because I’ll live a longer happier life if I do. And not because they’ll send the Black Ships for me otherwise.

But I also play other games. I love Mantic’s Dreadball. Although they’ve been in a case for a while , I really enjoy Dystopian Wars and Firestorm Armada. I love X-Wing. And Studio McVey’s Sedition Wars, and lots more games beside. Whilst I’m not a fan of the Warmachine fluff or the sculpting style I can appreciate the quality of the game. And I know I ‘bash on it’ during episodes of Of Dice & Men, but it is all in jest. I honestly don’t give a monkeys what games people play. All I care about is everyone having fun.

Games nights with The Chaps – good and dear friends all – are a bevy of game systems and that’s cool because the key ingredient is we’re having a giggle. Good games, good models, good mates and good banter. What more could you possibly want. Apart from maybe the aforementioned glamour model to serve light refreshments. But you can’t win them all.

The point is this, before arguments break out – and I’ve seen it happen – just let it go. I urge all to stop sabre rattling. To stop clamouring for a company’s demise when that company not only represents a lot of enjoyment but people’s livelihoods as well. It is callous to forget that there are folk, just like you and I, doing a job there. A select few make the decisions that impact on us and whether or not we agree with those decisions, the majority shouldn’t be punished. Yes people are entitled to and should have opinions and yes they should be discussed but let’s remember the object of the exercise is not to win at all costs, or to be nasty or snide or bitter or resentful for some imagined slight. We have zero rights. Zero say. You’re a director or a board member you have as much entitlement to piss and moan as you have to tell me what colour socks to wear.

DontBeADickYes it’s frustrating that prices go up. Yes Games Workshop have us over a barrel and yes they know it. But the reality is this: play their games or don’t. Pay their prices or don’t. Just don’t be a dick about it.

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies Trailer

The Hobbit, for me, has been a distinctly average affair. Stretched over three films when at the absolute most it should have been two even with all the source material and non-Hobbit events crammed in there.

The first film was okay but let down by moments of stupidity on the part of Peter Jackson. Just some scenes offered nothing and should have been cut. It was too long, too laboured and often too cheap. The second film was better but sadly nearly as forgettable with it being yet another overly long road trip movie. Evangeline Lilly all done up like an Elf was the probably my favourite bit, but that’s just me… The films erred too much on the light hearted side of butchery to make it more accessible to children but actually just comes off as naive and inappropriate.

The trailer for The Battle of Five Armies has come out and finally looks like a Lord of the Rings film. It looks gritty, grungy and the capery of slitting a Godlin King’s throat is long gone. This one should be good. 

Gone But Not Forgotten

Some of you may be aware that I have been on sabbatical/hiatus/break/time out whatever you want to call it. I have been taking some personal time or rather dealing with real life which generally happens when you’re trying to finish a high level diploma, buy a house, look after a 1-year-old have a heavily pregnant wife and have the workload from hell in your day job. All this meant I have to stop doing what I like doing…go on Phil make a comment…[I don't know what you mean? - Ed.] Now he’s got that out of his system…

With all that going on I took a break from hobby writing and doing to finish the one thing I had some sort of control over my Diploma which is now all but done hooray. So I thought I would celebrate with a quick “Mat’s Hobby update”.

What have I been up to? Well I have in the last few months streamlined my hobby collection, found a treasure trove of old school miniatures, started getting into Warhamster, and jump armies around a bit. So as you can tell I’ve not been idle on the hobby front despite the work load.

Streamlining how on earth did you do that Mat?

Honestly by being ruthless and realistic, I bought a lot at Salute as Phil and Lee can testify to. Much of this has now been sold. However much I friggin love the Death Guard (Heresy Era) and however much I want to do a loyalist army my tastes are just too rich and although I dearly love them, my Deathshroud were the first for the chop. Although I’ve not actually sold them yet. I just can’t seem to let them go. But I will… Closely followed by my Tau… Yes, yes I know how I went on about being gay for the little blue dudes but by the time I’d put together about 2,000 points worth I just wasn’t feeling it. I’ve kept my Pathfinders as I want to create a kill team with them but more on that later. Dystopian Wars was next to go having not played it or painted it and honestly I couldn’t ever see it getting any time on my table (saying that I’m loving some of the new stuff).

So still hanging on in there is my Sorylian fleet, I’m in two minds about it having not played the game yet having a clear idea of what I want to do are playing conflict with my thought process, so they are safe for now.

And oh the treasure trove of old school stuff, my god there were miniatures and paints in there from nearly 30 years ago, including old Squats, Rogue Trader Robots/Dreadnoughts, Inquisitors, Chaos champions, a butt load of Epic, Imperial Guard, a few land raiders, some Elder. Honestly it is immense! I am slowly working my way through it all cleaning it up and systematically selling it off through eBay to pay for more hobby bits.

I never really had much interest in Warhamster but I have found myself looking at it more and more. I think its stemmed from Mordheim and my want to build a beastman warband which got me looking at a Beastman army, and then Lizardmen. But eventually I settled on Skaven… let me explain I like the Beastmen but my god do they get their arses kicked and are actually difficult to play. I love the Lizardmen but the idea of painting them daunted me so I ended up with Skaven. But I’m not going to do the normal 5 warp lightning canons and 100 plague monks (I hate the plague monks) like you often see. I’m going Clan Mors affiliated with Clan Moulder and I actually have the rule book and some models (no army book yet mind, well not in hard format). But I’m looking forward to this and have a plan on writing a few articles on building a themed Rat army that’s not going to get people groaning when you take to the gaming table, and making sure you keep it within the theme and fluff.
So finally the Tau have been replaced with Necrons again I’m planning on theming the army so as not to make it bloody stupid, but this is going to be a slow burn as I really got it hot for the rats.

Other than all this in my time out ahem… I have continued to grow my X-Wing Imperial fleet and can now field a Bomber an interceptor oh and a couple of defenders. I will attempt to write-up on these in the next week or so, and I am really looking forward to seeing what they add to the game and if I can finally take it to Han Solo and stick it in him good…

So that was my down time… might give you an idea of what I’m like when I’m not on a break, especially as I haven’t mentioned my growing Dreadball collection and current obsession with Zombicide which I’m not allowed to buy until I either play or get rid of Sedition wars. But on the plus side the Wife said she’d play Zombicide with me.

Anyway this is me signing off and happy to be back in the saddle even if it is only with one foot in the stirrup at the moment.

-Mat