The Shell Case does Salute – Mat

Salute 2014

As the 12th April comes ever closer and the prospect of another day filled with nothing but the sights, sounds and smells of the UK’s best all-round gaming show (and with the recent trend with Games Day, arguably just the outright best) fills our every waking thought (especially Mat’s – it’s his first time and he’s really quite excited), the members of The Shell Case team attending Salute this year (sorry Ashley, next time maybe?) have taken time to reflect on their hopes and expectations for Salute 2014.

Here’s what Mat had to say:

Mat

MAT BUY TOYS! Sorry that was slightly involuntary and besides Rob did warn you [Yes I did, but perhaps not well enough if people are actually reading this. -Rob].

So yes this is my first Salute. It’s not my first event however: I have attended Games Day in bygone years but then I had bugger all disposable income. And it was a pure Games Workshop event and I’m reliably informed that Salute is nothing like. Other than it involves toy soldiers. And as some of you may realise, I’m really hot for other companies’ miniatures and games anyway right now so, bring it:

  1. I will be partly attending this year to perform my duties as an ambassador for The Shell Case and chatting with some awesome peeps, who do know I’m coming. As well as taking photos for The Shell Case. MAT BUY TOYS! Ahem. Sorry.
  2. I will definitely be heading over to see Andy from Heresy Miniatures we’ve been getting a bit of a Necromunda itch here, and he does some brilliant miniatures for a Delaque gang. MAT BUY TOYS! I’m so sorry, I don’t know why that keeps happening.
  3. After reading Ashley’s article about Saga I’m thinking of checking that out, along with Maulifaux which I have developed a warm squishy place for. And Godslayer. And Dreadball. Honestly my list is endless. I don’t know if I’ll part with my cash on these… Yeah, whatever.
  4. I do have a few other bits on my list that I definitely want to purchase…MAT BU- Sorry! Sorry! X-Wing toys for my growing Imperial fleet are a must. Some bits for my Tau force providing I can find a bargain, and I’ll be hitting up Forge World for a tasty Battlesuit. I also want to find some models for my Beastmen Mordheim Warband. I don’t want to have to use the standard models.
  5. #warmongers meet is going to be pretty cool and I’m looking forward to putting some faces to names.
  6. I’m just really looking forward to hanging out with The Shell Case crew and spending a day looking at all the shiny. MAT BUY TOYS! ARRRGH!

[The Shell Case would like to apologise for Mat. Really we would. His mother also got in touch and extends her sincerest apologies also.]

It’s all for the Greater Good

We are coming up to my anniversary. That’s right its been nearly a year since my re-insertion into the hobby. Which I imagine to be a bit like being reinserted into the Matrix but a lot less sinister and somewhat more enjoyable. 

A lot has happened in the last 12 months and a great deal of that has been in the last 3 – 4 months if I’m honest. You may recall I had played a couple of games of Mordheim which I’m sad to say didn’t reach any higher than a couple. But there have been other distractions and lately I have found myself less in love with my warband than I was before. I was never 100% taken with them. I suspect a combination of rushing to get something together on the cheap, which meant using models I didn’t like and being so rusty with my painting that I made a hash of a couple of them. This following on from a mishap with a can of basecoat (people it is really important to shake the can well and make sure it’s not cold). With no inspiration for a colour scheme or the background the other guys had behind themMonty’s Bastards have languished in one of my now numerous carry cases. Until last week when the poor perverted sociopath has found the dust being brushed off his unpainted shoulders and being put straight on eBay. He and his merry band of mentalists are being replaced with a warband I’ve wanted to do since before my departure from the hobby a decade ago. A heavily themed Beastmen force. I won’t go into too much detail now but I am genuinely excited at the prospect of fielding some hairy stinky Beastmen, with a slight humorous twist, and I get to have an Avatars of War Minotaur because frankly they are awesome. 

I am also now the proud owner of a small Sorylian fleet for Firestorm Armada all thanks to my wife being very generous, and not too judgemental, on my birthday. Although have you ever tried to explain to your other half why a Dreadnought (space shotgun) made from resin is so damned expensive? No? Well I have and she still doesn’t get it. Much like many of my other models: the fleet is currently sitting in a carry case in a very much unpainted and un-played with state, but I am slowly adding to it and I know my colour scheme so it’s just a matter of getting round to it and I look forward to seeing how the Sorylians do in a game. 

Now those other distractions I mentioned, are primarily the Star Wars X-Wing Miniature Game by Fantasy Flight Games. If you didn’t know already Phil and I have a massive hard on for this game, which does border on the slightly unsavoury side from time to time. I run the Imperials and Phil as you may be aware is fielding the Rebel scum. I have to say I didn’t take much convincing to pick this one up, I had been looking at it but didn’t know how to take the plunge. Phil, being the enabler that he is,saw to that. I am now the proud owner of a small but growing Imperial fleet which includes 5 TIE Fighters 1 Tie Advanced and recently Slave 1 (you may have seen my rather gushy review). We have yet to get down to pitting Slave 1 against the Falcon but I am very much hoping it’s soon as I have a bit of a score to settle and honestly it would be nice to maybe win a game. [Never! - Ed.] This new love affair has kicked off many thought processes that revolve around Star Wars but again these are things that will I’m hoping become more apparent in the not to distant future. 

Dreadball… okay so I have dabbled here a little bit and while I’m not as hot for it as Neil, I do still love it. I never really got on with Blood Bowl but Dreadball is everything Blood Bowl wasn’t which is good, fun and fast, (all opinions expressed in this article are purely my own and are just that only an opinion). Now I haven’t actually played a straight game of Dreadball just yet, but I have played Ultimate against 3 other opponents and it was brilliant, I was slightly concerned as I have a Judwan team (yes I field the pacifists in space). Despite the fact they only have strikers and can’t perform any physical attacks they performed really well. Except against the Maruader player who decided he wanted to squish everything on the board and Judwan are particularly squishy. But I enjoyed my game so much I have actually started to paint my team, and after a couple of pointers from the painting guru that is Lee, I have to say I’m rather happy with the results. I am yet to finish them but so far so good. 

Before I get onto the subject that this article was named for, I have a few other bits I want to mention. Firstly being I now own a copies of Dreadball & Sedition Wars, rule sets for Battlefleet Gothic, Necromunda, Adeptus Titanicus 2 and I’m now on the look out for Epic Armageddon rules… So a busy boy, I know. Having recently played a game of Battlefleet Gothic (battle report with spangly pictures coming soon) with my Necrons (God are they broken) I have once again got the bug to sail the warp and blow the shit out of Imperials, BUT not with my Necrons. And Phil gave me a copy GCT Studio’s game Bushido to read and review too! I’ve always been into Japanese culture, and this mixes plenty of that with some great looking models and so far decent looking rules.

I have also got ever so slightly further with scratch building my Chaos Titans but that’s a completely separate article. 

So onto the matter of the Greater Good. Some of you may recall last year I started talking about a Space Marine project using Codex Space Wolves, based on Celtic culture and mythology. They never really got named although Moon Dragons was an option, especially for Nate of ODAM fame. I built up a fair few blokes including some Horus Heresy stuff from Forge World. I wrote a background and devised a colour scheme. Now due to the fact they were Celtic themed, they were going to be rather up close and personal and through discussions with Lee & Phil I realised just how badly dicked on they were going to get in the process. And so my Tau allies were born. And this is where it all changed. 

I really wanted my Space Marines to look the tits and I was looking at a mixture of Forge World and Scibor miniatures for the main force. Now this is a lovely idea but it’s just so expensive. I was also concerned that my painting skills would never really do them justice and so it would be a project that would limp on and on and never be finished. So I made the decision this week to sell my Marines and concentrate on the Tau force that had grown beyond a small allied force because, basically, I was psyched by them. 

All this was due to the following: 1. The Space Marine project was prohibitively expensive. 2. One army per system is enough for any man (well at the moment), 3. FOCUS. This is in capitals because that’s the text I get from Phil two or three times a week when I start talking about something cool I’ve seen and how it’s given me a great idea. And 4. It’s all for the greater good. That is to say: Tau are my jam.

So my Tau force grows, which is funny when I think about it, and has been a long time coming. When I first started to drift away from the hobby the Tau had only just been released. So a decade or so. And in my odd drifts back into the fold I have picked up various iterations of the codex but have never got around to acquiring any models. had a massive thing for Fire Warrior on my PS2: who remembers that? [No one because it was shit. - Ed.] And the bit where you come face to face with a Chaos Space Marine… shoot and run, shoot and ruuuuuun. But more recently since coming back to the warm loving folds of plastic crack addiction, Phil was giving away some of his goodies to The Chaps and the Tau Codex was amongst them. Clearly it was fate.

Now I’m not only pulling together a decent force with a colour scheme I’m happy with, and actually have some painted models, but I’m looking at creating a Pathfinder Kill Team and looking at cool conversions I can do too [FOCUS! - Ed.]. I’m currently liking the idea of sculpting cloaks for them and giving them some samurai swords to act as their Ta’lissera bonding knife. Kromlech do some nice Sci-fKatanas that would work really well for this.  

do have to admit I’m not a huge fan of the Kroot or Vespids so they will be left out of my Tau force. I know this may not be the best idea but, frankly, I just don’t care. I’m also not a big fan of the vehicles but that said I’ve never been a massive fan of vehicles in any army and always preferred to go down the infantry route. However after a few conversations with The Chaps I will likely end up with at least one Devil Fish and possibly a Hammerhead. Okay, three. As I realise the need for these and that vehicles have become a much bigger focus since my days of 40K. I also love the look of the Forge World Pathfinder Tetras but that’s going on the possible list as I like the idea of my Pathfinders being sneaky stealth bastards. 

So currently I’m sitting at 3 Fire Warrior Squads, 3 XV15′s, 6 XV25′s with Drones, 1 Small Pathfinder Team, 1 Commander in Crisis Battle Suit, another 2 Crisis Battle Suits as body guards and a hand full of Drones.

Tau have slightly taken over my life as I also currently find myself reading Fire Warrior by Simon Spurrier the book based on the aforementioned game, it’s a great if not wholly accurate look into Tau culture. 

So my addiction continues and is culminating/climaxing* in a trip to Salute in a couple of weeks, which I no doubt will have to write about my splurging of monumental amounts of cash. And hopefully I will get to meet some of you guys there. 

So until next time…

Oooh I nearly forgot Firefly: The Game is AWESOME. 

*delete as appropriate

Mordheim Video Game

Mordheim_Intro_LogoAs you know we are massive fans of Mordheim here at The Shell Case, so you can understand our excitement when the below image appeared on twitter with the announcement that a Mordheim Video Game was in production.

Mordheim Video Game

Mordheim City of the Damned is being Published by Focus Home Interactive and Developed by Rogue Factor.

We don’t know much more at this stage other than it will be a strategy RPG with a solo and multiplayer mode.

Mordheim Video Game 2

Mordeheim Video Game 3

 

Watch this space for updates.

#ODAM 12 – The Structure Show

ODAMRoundel copyThis month’s installment of everyone’s favorite international podcast coalition sees us being unusually structured. With Jason our newly appointed content manager he tries, and fails, to stop the power going to his head. Ashley is preparing for Adepticon, Phil is babbling about some foreign gathering called Salute which is either a gaming convention or a gay nightclub, and we try to understand the latest bit of nonsense to come out of Nottingham. Nate also announces an important life event, which Jason and the boys promptly mock. Par for the course, really.

As always ODAM contains adult humour and language from the start.

Listen to Episode 12 here.

 

A Tale of Two Armies: Genesis of a Hero

TaleOfTwoArmies copy

As part of A Tale of Two Armies one of the things we wanted to look at, as part of the wider narrative, was how hero and villain of the piece evolved from our early conversations to the characters they’ll become at the series’ conclusion. I elected to go first as I had the luxury of having much of my character’s back story long ago established.

‘It all started with a game of Mordheim’ I guess is the best way to begin explaining the almost sentient growth of a humble assembly of plastic pieces into a character worthy enough to actually write about.

When The Chaps decided to run a Mordheim Campaign and we were deciding who would do which warband, I plumped for the rich boys of Marienburg figuring the extra gold pieces they had would give me a significant head start to turn them into a dominant force – even if they were a bit lacking in the rules department.  That gold enabled me to tool up my Captain with all the cool toys he could want including a pair of very shiny, and very expensive, Duelling Pistols.  I had the image of a lethal sharpshooter in my mind, wading through combat, picking off enemies one after the other with deadly accurate head shots – none able to get close for fear of ending up face down in the dirt in an expanding pool of their own vital fluids. But it never really happened like that, quite the opposite really.

During the campaign von Bomburg wasn’t exactly living up to those expectations I had when gleefully listing his equipment I invested so heavily in. Dice are fickle at best of times but he could almost be guaranteed to roll a ‘1’ when it really mattered.  During the early days of a character’s progression you forgive poor performances knowing that experience will no doubt improve through skills and stat increases. von Bomburg had now accumulated a few of these (through the rest of his warband performing quite well – love those crossbows), most notably an extra point of Ballistic Skill taking him to a very healthy 5 and the Pistolier skill letting him shoot both of his pistols together if needed.  And a suit Gromril armour – very handy indeed. With the firepower at his disposal he should have been kicking asses and taking names, but it just wasn’t happening for him.

The specific game in question has been mentioned before in other posts and relates specifically to Bomburg’s lack of shooting accuracy.  As this game was playing out he was demonstrating his usual ineptitude with all things ballistic only this time he happened to be in the beer garden of the town tavern.  Standing upon a table acting all heroic like, he took careful aim at the horde of enemies rushing towards him and his fellow Marienburgers, and then proceeded to miss both his shots despite hitting on 2’s as if bestowed with eyes that stared at each other. As this stage his sub par performances could go unnoticed no longer and the rest of The Chaps threw their 2 pence/cents/maple leaves worth into the mire of my disappointment. Amongst the usual tit for tat one comment was latched upon which was he must have been enjoying the beer garden a bit too much and thus impaired his vision [That may have been me... - Ed.].  It stuck and so began the effervescent evolution of Ludwig von Bomburg – the wealthy drunkard fallen on hard times. The son of a wealthy family looking for adventure whilst slowly drinking his fortune away. Somewhere between Paul Whitehouse’s 13th Duke of Wybourne and Rowley Birkin QC (for those of you that watch The Fast Show) – he no doubt possessed the sleazy suaveness of the former but was far more inebriated like the latter.

As the campaign continued, von Bomburg’s performance did improve under the avalanche of additional skills he acquired but he was always below what was expected – the others feared his potential, but never surprised by his failure.  As Bomburg’s ability had improved somewhat during the campaign it seemed natural that he would once have been a formidable foe – the kind of which I wanted at the start, but impact of life’s vices had dulled his skills. The constant state of combat he endures in Mordheim being enough to reawaken some of the potential he lost to the drink, drugs and women.

Another of von Bomburg’s traits were brought to light when he seized on an opportunity to take down Ian’s Vampire who had got a little isolated – von Bomburg stepped forward pistols in hand and proceeded to miss with both shots. von Bomburg and Ian’s Vampire have a little history as way back in the first games of the campaign von Bomburg critically wounded him which resulted in him losing his hand. With us being the fun guys we are, we decided to let Ian graft the crossbow pistol he possessed permanently onto the stump to mitigate such a severe blow so early in the campaign and add a bit of character to proceedings.  This had not been forgotten and so the tables now reversed as Ian managed to distract von Bomburg’s guards and charge him with said Vampire in retaliation. Bomburg was easily out matched but through a healthy dose of luck he managed to survive several rounds of combat and long enough for Ian to fail his route test as my Marienburgers dispatched his minions – sparing Bomburg his doom.  The outcome highlighted that he’s really really lucky when it comes to staying alive. There’s the time he got brained by the handgun only for me to remember his Lucky Charm at the very last second prior to removing the model, or the time he side stepped that Strength 5 lightning bolt.  He rarely dies and always seems to have a way out a sticky situation – often thanks to his long-suffering bodyguard, Viktor holding the enemy up long enough for him make his escape.

By this time I had themed all of the Marienburg warband around what would have been members of his household guard; Viktor was the head of the Household Guard with the Halberdiers being members, one of the Young bloods was his disturbed cousin etc. but Viktor with his role as bodyguard stood out as a key figure in Bomburg’s development – constantly being the difference between him living and dying.  We started to fill out why Viktor accompanied von Bomburg and why Bomburg was even in Mordheim in the first place, a fall from grace seemed to fit the bill and tied in with his truly outrageous drinking, overall poor performance punctuated with flourishes of mad skills.

As Phil and I started to make our foray into the wider Old World in the ‘A Tale of Two Armies’ series it was a no-brainer to expand the Marienburg warband into a fully fledged army of the Empire, but that would then need an explanation as to where any such army he would have been part of had gone and then led to him coming to the cursed city. Part of this story has been told in the articles Phil has been writing and without wishing to spoil anything I can only say so much – the short of it being he loses much and leads his final few followers into Mordheim as a final gambit.

Bomburg has come a long way from the original model I created for my captain using parts from the old Mordheim box.  After the Pub Garden incident I remodelled him to have a wine glass in hand and moved the second pistol to his belt to better represent his character.  He’s tremendous fun to play and almost takes the decision-making out of my hands with his personality deciding what he should do. I’m now getting just as much enjoyment bringing his supporting cast up to a similar level with the dour Viktor and perverted relative having already been mentioned and accumulating their own anecdotes.

Playing games in A Tale of Two Armies allows me to see von Bomburg as a young man, before years of war and booze ruined his mind and as the narrative develops we’ll learn more just what brings von Bomburg to his fate of a tortured existence amidst the ruins of Mordheim.

I’ve also come into possession of a few plastic wine bottles and have designs in mind to add them to the Captain of the Land Ship from Forgeworld and give the young von Bomburg the model he deserves.  It’s an absolutely ace piece and comes with a fantastic looking crew – particularly said Captain.  It would be perfectly fitting as his chariot of choosing, being overly wealthy (at the time) he would no doubt select the biggest and most expensive vehicle he could find.  I can’t wait to send it careening across the battlefield with him loose at the wheel, it’s practically what Warhammer was made for!

I Love the Smell of Green Stuff in the Morning…

Okay so there are 2 issues with that statement 1, I have to go to work so no hobby for me in the morning and 2, green stuff doesn’t actually smell, but I like the theme I’ve got going on, although I may need some suggestions on the next article title…

The idea behind these articles is to chronicle my decent into plastic crack addiction, and to be fair I have it pretty bad as Phil, my plastic crack pusher can testify to. [He really does - Ed.]

So a quick update: my Mordheim warband is complete. Well to a point. There are still a few conversions I have designs on and they are unpainted at present, but I want to get a few more games under my belt and see how they develop before doing any more work on them. Monty’s Bastards have had their second outing, you may have seen images going up on twitter, anyway it ended pretty much the same as the previous outing. Monty only managing to limp off thanks to a tenuous alliance with Neil’s Skaven.

I am hooked on Mordheim and as previously mentioned, I do regret sneering at it for being an inferior Necromunda. I think my problem was I was never a fan of Warhammer Fantasy so tarnished Mordheim with the same brush, which when you consider I loved Warhammer Quest doesn’t really make a huge amount of sense. But I guess that’s what happens from being a snooty up hiver.

As evidence of my addiction I have a Russian Coalition fleet for Dystopian Wars which I am yet to play, but I love the models, although not 100% sure on the sputnik look-a-like air ships, and I now find myself with a Necron fleet for Battle Fleet Gothic which are currently being stripped of paint ready to be rebranded as Star Fleet ships. Seriously turn a Scythe Class harvest ship upside down and tell me it doesn’t look a hell of a lot like the Enterprise.

And I’m now looking at some Warmachine Warjacks… but not for Warmachine. [Because it sucks! - Ed.] I’ve never really been interested in it despite the models being quite cool. But I’m looking at them with the intention of converting them into Chaos Titans to use in Adeptus Titanicus II, and after reading another blog I’m feeling really inspired.

And that’s what I wanted to talk about a bit more, converting models and proxying. I have never liked having standard models, it’s one of my things. I always wanted mine to look a little different to everyone else’s models. I remember my old Chaos Champion put together from a mixture of bits including Dante’s Cloak, Yarrick’s Claw a few Storm Bolters and a hacked up Lighting Claw. Since returning to the hobby, Phil has opened my eyes to the wider wargaming world I see a whole plethora of possible proxies waiting to be converted. A little bit of green stuff some imagination and you don’t need to have a standard model. Okay so it may not be so easy to convert Space Marines but to be honest Scibor do some really nice casts and I am itching for an excuse to lay my hands on some of their Science Fiction Warriors.

In fact one of the #warmongers mentioned recently creating a Welsh Space Marine Chapter. Scibor do Celtic Science Fiction Warriors range so this may be a good place to start. And if said company would like to send me any models for mentioning them well that’s fine by me. Doing these sorts of conversions and proxies does tend to lend itself more to the skirmish style games but you can still create a nice character for your army from another games models. Freebooters do some great models some of them would work well with a sculpted cloak and could either be a Dark Elf or Wood Elf depending on which way you swing.

And if you are in to the specialist games you could do worse than look at Firestorm Armada for Battle Fleet Gothic proxies, the great thing about the range is you can buy spares and different parts so you could create pretty much anything you wanted within reason and if you had the ability and patience to do so. I still have one I’d like to create myself but for use in Firestorm Armada, for a scenario I have swimming around in my head. But I think I have enough games systems to deal with for the time being and I think I may take the plunge into Dreadball next.

What I’m saying is there’s no need to have the standard models when there’s so much available and really all it takes is a pair of clippers some glue maybe a bit of green stuff and some imagination. I know I’m inspired to create unique models, and that’s what our hobby is about; being creative whether it’s with your back story, the scenarios you create or the models and terrain you develop for yourself.

As you can tell my addiction is running rampant, my wife is happy I have a hobby but not sure she’s so happy with everything that comes along with it, namely the boxes of models littering our dining room table and the sheet of chip board and Styrofoam insulation I plan on using for the creation of a custom Mordheim board but that’s a separate article.

I would like to mention how much I appreciate The Chaps and the #warmongers community at large, as I’ve been made to feel accepted and its great having a group of like-minded people all willing to help each other out and share their thoughts and ideas.
Thank you.

A Tribute to Mordheim

Mordheim_Intro_Logo

How many people have played Mordheim? Yes? No? You’re not sure? Is it Warhammer Skirmish? Well the truth is, essentially, it is Warhammer Skirmish but at the same time it’s so much more than Warhammer Skirmish. And that which sets the two very similar systems apart is that which elevates Mordheim above its counterpart and most other fantasy skirmish games – character. It’s this character that I will discuss a little to try to impart upon you just why it’s so much fun and why it should be the most important element of any game you play.

mordheim box

Just for those who don’t know, Mordheim and Warhammer Skirmish both use the same basic rules as Warhammer Fantasy, adding some complexity to enable the individual models to do a little more than simply march around and charge/shoot each other.  Mordheim was actually created first, believe it or not, being released as a full boxed game with rules for campaigns, scenarios, character progression etc. Then backed up by new releases and expansions. A while later Games Workshop then took the decision to release a somewhat stripped down version of these rules in the back of the Warhammer Fantasy Rulebook, and with the winds of change blowing against the Specialist Games range, Mordheim was subsequently left to gather dust in a corner of their website before being killed off completely.

Here is where the difference between the two becomes apparent as the sections Games Workshop decided to leave out of the WFB were actually the best parts – and not just for Mordheim, but for all games. The thing that made Mordheim great wasn’t the basic rules or the models or the terrain, (which were all good as well) it was the individual character that evolved around each of your heroes as you played games with them.  It made you want to play more and more just to see what happened to them next, akin to a cheesy soap opera. Only with far more decapitating and shouting. Each of your Heroes began to develop their own personalities and story arcs as they, and other heroes, developed fears and hatreds towards one and another.  The random nature of the character progression through skills and stat increases means that you often have to play in a style different to what you would want, or equip models other than you had intended.  So much so that the Heroes begin to take on a life of their own, their individual character and abilities determining what you do with them:  ‘Should I move my Leader on top of that table and blast away with his pistols? Probably not, he’ll be an easy target.  But it’s what he would do, so that’s what I will do’ is a common train of thought.

You might be familiar with my Warband leader, Baron Ludwig von Bomberg – a wealthy Marienburger, who’s also a bit of a drunken womaniser.  He didn’t start this way though, oh no, not even close.  Almost everyone at some point in their gaming lives will want a mighty champion leading their troops, armed to the teeth and as hard as nails, and I was no different in this instance.  But it didn’t take long for his obvious lack of ability with his pistols to become a point of hilarious interest. His stats and equipment meant he should have been dropping fools left, right and centre but this was never the case, to the point where the other Chaps began to joke that he must be pissed all the time and that’s why he kept missing.  And it stuck. His stats and skills have improved significantly since then but his effect on the game has roughly stayed the same. No matter how hard I try, he’s still never really that good.

An element of the campaign rules which adds to your games enormously is the Heroes injury table.  I shit you not, there’s nothing funnier than watching what happens to your opponents heroes after you’ve kicked the crap out of them in the game. Neil, of The Chaps, has a Skaven hero that’s now has -1 movement, -1 toughness and -1 something else, and is known as Mr Glass for his obvious fragility. He’s still a whopping Strength 7 with his flail so he still has his uses, but must be nurtured carefully into combat, which is made all the harder (and funnier) but the fact he can’t run the aforementioned -1 Movement, all as a result of the injuries he has suffered during his long career.  All laughing and joking is done in good fun, there’s no spitefulness involved – and you know that you’ll be on the receiving end next week so laugh while you can is generally the rule.  But again, it all adds to the character of the game and the personality of each model.

Mordheim is a game that has this character and personality intrinsically woven into its identity and would be a hollow shell without it. Warhammer Skirmish stands as a testament to what happens to games when you remove that element which is a shame as it’s decent enough addition to the WFB rules – but alas, only a shadow when compared with its predecessor and a poor replacement.  There shouldn’t be many reasons why players can’t impart a certain degree of character to all the games they play – the simple naming of your characters does wonders as you immediately start to note their performance on a more personal level.

Keeping track of kills/deaths or playing units according to their character rather than what might necessarily be in the best interest of winning (within reason, of course) are all ways raising a wargame above a competition between players and showing it to be a more a way of telling a story and enjoying it.  If I’m honest about it, Mordheim was the first game that made me realise losing could be just as fun as winning and that winning wasn’t everything. Once you unburden yourself of that pressure to succeed every time you play, you will enjoy your games far more and focus on the special moments that make the game worth playing instead of bragging rights. The challenge, in all games, now being to play a characterful force while remaining competitive – not necessarily always winning, but not having my arse handed to me on a regular basis either.

For me, Mordheim is right up there in my ‘best wargames ever’ category (along with most of the Specialist Games really) but you don’t have to agree with me on that.  I just hope you agree that the more character you can impart on a game the better it will be.

Mordheim for the Chaps and I will never really die, but all the same I must impart a heartfelt cheerio as the funereal barge of the Specialist Games range drifts into the sunset.

A Farewell to Specialist Games

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It is common knowledge to all, by now, that the Specialist Games range is all but dead. The Games Workshop is no longer producing miniatures and the rule books have been withdrawn from sale.

With its demise I and the rest of The Shell Case team have decided that we had to do something to mark its passing. So, we have taken it upon ourselves to write a tribute to the games we loved the most. One will go up each day over this week, starting with Adam’s tribute Blood Bowl and working our way through the other games in the range, ending the week with my true love: Battlefleet Gothic. Sadly there won’t be one for Warmaster because none of us really played it, so if there’s someone out there that would like to write a guest post then get in touch.

The games will undoubtedly live on in the hearts of gamers everywhere but couldn’t let these incredible game fall into memory without giving them a send off of our own.

Stay tuned…

Tower of the Necromancer

As mentioned on Twitter I’ve been working on a scenario called the Tower of the Necromancer. Inspired by the Skullvane Manse kit I reviewed recently, I wanted to write a multiplayer Mordheim scenario that not only had a big centre piece like the Manse at its heart but an element that would make the game fast paced and throw up some genuine tactical decision-making, aside from the usual mang stuff in the face.

Some of you may have seen the photo below that I tweeted on Tuesday. It’s of the board Lee put together using our various scenery kits. Mine is easy to spot. They’re the ones with no paint on them… You’ll also notice the awesome explosion markers from Lemon Painting, rather proving my point that they look great as fires in buildings.

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But I digress. The snap is of the original iteration of the scenario. Since Tuesday I have been tinkering with the scenario with the help of Lee and have ended up with two versions. Ambush and Rush. Although essentially the same in terms of premise and special rules, the variations between the two make for very different games.

The scenario is freely available for you to download here and from the Gaming Resources page. I hope you enjoy it.
The background should have been like a parchment but my PDF writer wasn’t playing ball so had to get rid. I’ll fit it at some point and reload.

Pimp my Heim

I’m sure the majority of you will be familiar with the card and plastic buildings that came in the old Mordheim box – and the later expansion Blood on the Streets.  Personally I really liked them. They did the job they were intended for, were simple enough to put together and they looked decent enough on the board.  If you were lucky enough to get hold of more than one set then they started to look really good and your board would more resemble the winding streets the designers of the game intended.

In the interest of fairness, they could also be flimsy, restrictive and lacking detail. They would also, with continual use, tear or simply fall apart as the glue would really take on the treated card. However, with some very simple additions at minimal cost they can ascend further up the ladder of scenery greatness and find their way onto more of your gaming boards.

The first things you’ll want to get hold of are coffee stirrers. Millions of them. Not that you’ll need millions for what this article is about, but they’re just so damn useful that if you don’t have some already then go to the nearest coffee shop or fast food outlet and get yourself some. Now. For free. By the handful. You’ll also want some hardboard, you know, that stuff the bottom of your sock drawer if made of – or any other suitable material you can lay your hands on. And then your usual assortment of PVA, sand, gravel, bits box scavenges etc.

There will be two primary benefits to the treatment we will give the Mordheim Buildings: better structural stability and improved appearance and character. Stage one is very quick and simple; start by cutting the coffee stirrers to the required length and using them to match up the missing beams on all the buildings. The way the buildings are designed means the beams aren’t consistently present so some sides will have them while others will not. Simply glue them straight onto the card and add them to wherever you think they are necessary or where will improve the look of the buildings. With a quick lick of paint or an even quicker wash you’ve already improved both the strength and appearance of your buildings.  You could just leave it there or take it to stage two.

MordheimBuilding

Stage two merely takes things the obvious step further. It’s a bit more involved and time-consuming but by cutting the coffee stirrers to random lengths and gluing them to the floors to create floorboards you can massively improve the building’s appearance. By twisting and snapping some of the lengths you can get a more realistic splintered effect for where the floors have collapsed or been smashed through by falling comet fragments.  The floors are actually one of the most visible elements of the buildings when on the board and I can’t overstate the difference the floorboards will make.  Again, a simple dab with a brush a la stage one and stage two is done.

MordheimBuilding2

Stage three is for the more dedicated hobbyist and involves fully basing your buildings using the aforementioned hardboard.  Cut and shape to fit, glue the building down and then add as much or as little detritus as you want – rubble piles and fallen beams both look great and provide obstacles when gaming. A few choice model components, such as a treasure chest or skeleton, add a little story to your buildings and can also be the basis for scenarios or used as objectives. A word of warning though, don’t over do the sizes of your bases as it will only take more effort to fill without any additional benefit – a maximum of an inch or so  around the edges plus the space within the buildings perimeter will be more than enough space to fill.

Finish off with sand/gravel and then paint it up. It’s up to you if you want to paint only the additions or go the whole hog and spray/paint the entire thing.  If you go for the quicker first option just make sure you paint the edges of all the visible card sections of the buildings which shine out in white – it seems minor but again, I can’t overstate the difference it makes.  For those of you who go the whole way, you will be rewarded with a set of amazing looking buildings for an absolute minimum additional cost which will suit almost any 28mm fantasy or historical board. And with current prices heading the way they are, that should not be sniffed at. If you want to take things even further, you can also use yet more coffee stirrers to create scratch built walkways, platforms and barricades to really elevate the terrains set into something a bit more special.

Hopefully your old Mordheim building set  should now be one of the first things you take out of your scenery box rather than the bent and broken last resort so many of them have become.

Cheerio.