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…

CodexOrksENG copy

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.

That New Army Feel

I got my hands on the new Codex Orks earlier in the week (review coming very soon) and I’ve been reading it every chance I get and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it. So much so I’m considering collecting an army of them. I don’t have much luck collecting enemies of the Imperium but the Orks I’m feeling particularly jazzed about.

60030103005_CodexOrksENG

The issue I have is that I’m also planning a Lizardmen army once I (finally) finish my Warriors of Chaos army which has stalled somewhat of late. 

The reality is that I’ll probably end up doing both. Much to my wife’s dismay. Because there’s something fundamentally magic about finding an army that you really like to the extent that you want to part with hard earned cash to collect it. It’s a bit like a new relationship. Lots of excitement and trying to learn as much about them as possible. Occasionally a friend might advise caution or tell you all the bad bits that you don’t want to hear like they’re high maintenance.

But ultimately you don’t care because they’re so shiny and new and they’ll let you do stuff that your other armies won’t let you do. And if you’re really lucky you can field them at the same time…

Okay enough of that metaphor.

But the point remains, there’s nothing quite like that new army feel. The excitement of reading the army book, learning their place within the world and the first tentative thoughts around army formations.

Pouring over the model range, the eternal struggle between what’s shiny or characterful verses what will actually win you games. The latter rarely wins for me. And of course the ultimate question – once you’ve settled on your first purchases – what colour are you going to paint them? I never worry about the last one because I get too carried away with the collecting bit to actually apply brush to model. But I always have very high minded ideas and that has to count for something.

There’s obviously the trap of new army syndrome. The waves of shiny models, the new or updated rules and the hype is hard to ignore. I’ve fallen into the trap a couple of times. The Grey Knights stick in my mind the most. I bought the codex, worked out a 3,000 point army list then I realised I found them utterly boring. Just my opinion mind, please don’t fan rage me. I guess the moral of the story is: buy the book, read the book. If you’re agonising over what to take rather than struggling to find inspiration for your army list then they’re probably a keeper.

The hardest part of starting a new army is not going crazy. Resisting the urge to buy stuff before you’ve written an army list, or buying loads of stuff at once so you can get that first game in. I do it every time. 500 points isn’t manly enough so I collect the first 1,000 points. Which is just too many models to be a manageable new painting project so then it becomes a mountain to climb. Unless it was like my Covenant fleet which was black with a bit of copper and wood…

The point is this – be sensible. Don’t be envious of other people’s armies or feel like you need to race to get to 3,000 points because you want to play a proper sized game. Basically don’t do what I’ve been doing for 25 years. I’ve only ever completed one 40k army. And that was my Ultramarines when they were 2,000 points. The models to take them to 3,000 were partially painted. My Ultramarines are now 9,500 points… So…yeah…

99120208010_LizardmenBattalionNEW01

Starter sets, battle force and battalion boxes are a good jumping off point. They’re not as crammed as they use to be and you don’t always get everything you want but with a thriving second hand market there’s always a buyer for the units you don’t want. And chances are it’ll still work out cheaper anyway.

So to return to my earlier metaphor, starting a new army is a lot like starting a new relationship. There’s lots of temptation to go too fast too quickly. Too get too invested only to discover that there’s just no love there. And there’s always that one friend who can’t resist saying ‘I told you so’. But get it right and it’s a joy. It’s effortless and everything evolves naturally. 

Now, how many Stegadons can I take again…

Warhammer 40k 7th Edition – A Review

warhammer-40000-logo

So 7th Edition has been unleashed upon the world. I’d like to say that I was eagerly anticipating its release but if I’m honest I felt fairly indifferent about the whole thing. Mainly because I do my best to avoid rumours and I really hate the way Games Workshop give people a week’s notice to find £50.

60040199041_40kStandardEdition01

 

Of course to avoid all the rumours flying around concerning 7th Edition I’d have to delete my social media accounts, not talk to any of my friends and quite possibly move somewhere fairly far away and possibly underground. The persistent rumour was that it would be Blood Angels and not Space Wolves joining Orks in the new boxset. Another was that there wouldn’t be a boxset at all. Well done Games Workshop you finally got one over on us.

60040199041_40kStandardEdition02

In a way I’m quite glad I ignored the rumours because when 7th Edition finally came out I had the opportunity to be surprised by a book I’d already owned 5 times previously. And that was quite a novel feeling. Of course the main change is that the Games Workshop have heeded the cries of its customers and split the book into three – hobby, fluff and rules. This is welcome news for gamers – particularly tournament gamers – who no longer have to lug around a chuffing heavy book with them wherever they go. They are also stunning to look at. It’s a real departure from the traditional with this iteration. It has new type faces, bold colour block, new stylised aquilas and groovy new art up the whazoo. Plus some of the best pieces from the previous edition. The books feel cyberpunk rather than sci-gothic which is actually a pretty clever. For the first time it feels like a work talking a bout the universe rather than a document from the universe. Which I think makes it far more relate-able for those who just want to paint some toys or play some games, not go balls deep into the fluff. And breaking it into three makes it more digestible. But, for me, harder to get into. Mainly because I do my reading in snatched hours so as I finished one part I was usually nowhere near the others.

A Galaxy of War – the hobby book – is, for me, a huge indulgence. It’s padded to hell and basically a hardback version of Warhammer Visions which is a bit poor. Lots of full page or double page photos which are totally unnecessary. It could be half the thickness, still look good and make just as much contribution to your hobby. I suspect it was thickened up because it would rather put lie to the principle that the wargaming is divided into three equal parts – painting/modelling, gaming and background. There are some new and pretty good hobby articles in there which is very refreshing considering the last couple of iterations have been rehashes of the ones before them. And it’s also cool to see a proper article about collecting an army and giving it some personality. It has nothing to with it being Ultramarines by the way. Although it’s nice to see Captain ‘Angryman’ Agemman getting some love considering he’s contributed almost as much to the Codex Astartes as Marneus Calgar. It’s the first hobby section in a while that I can see a seasoned gamer actually taking the trouble to read. I can’t promise they won’t get bored by the huge amounts of wasted space but at least there’s some value to it. Especially with the changes to the Citadel paint range in the last couple of years.

The book I was looking forward to most, it’s no surprise, was Dark Millennium – the background book – but it was the one that disappointed the most. Now I’ve been immersed in the Grim Darkness of the 41st Millennium for the best part of 25 years so I’m aware that the Imperium is not a happy or easy place to live but this book was so utterly bleak to the extent that when I reached the timeline I was questioning what the point of playing any more. In the past there was always an element of hope. Yes humanity was besieged on all sides and the outlook was grim but through strength or arms and sacrifice humanity had a chance. That has been replaced with a bludgeoning hopelessness that does beg the question why anyone would bother. And it lacks finesse. There’s no ambiguity which was always Games Workshop’s strength over its competitors. Everything was myth and legend and open to interpretation. Debating the background has always been a bit of a hobby within a hobby for me. 7th Edition just seems to be a bit…factual. Not bad by any chalk just factual. But I suppose that does tie in with the idea that this is a book about the 41st Millennium rather than a book from the 41st Millennium. Some aspects of Imperial society have been nicely fleshed out – the Imperial Knights being slotted in for one – but it does get a tad repetitive. And if you’re anyone but a lapdog of the Emperor then you may not enjoy this book because 88 pages of the 128 pages is given over to the Imperium. Granted it’s been padded with the usual large pieces of artwork but still. The Eldar – one of the most important players in a galaxy gone mad gets two pages. And that’s split between Dark Eldar and full fat Eldar. There’s a fair few pages about Chaos but even that is Imperium-centric. I stress it’s not a bad read but the old guard, those few of us that are left, may find it a bit of a direction shift.

Imperial_Palace_Terra2

And finally the rules themselves. I’ve heard more than a few people call 7th Edition Warhammer 40,000 v2.1 and with good reason as it seems to have tightened up the rules that have been evolving since third edition and added in some of the best bits of 2nd Edition. They started in the previous version with Over Watch and the like but that face that unbound armies are back is very welcome indeed because for the first time since I collected it, I can now use my Ultramarines 1st Company without borrowing rules from another army. This is joyous news. There’s other big changes like a dedicated psychic phase bringing it back in line with Warhammer having spent 16 years making it different. There’s little rule tweaks particularly around cover and line of sight. There’s clarifications around Over Watch and a raft of other things. But most importantly: vehicles don’t suck any more. There’s been no real rule changes other than to damage table. As I said in my review of 6th Edition the studio completely failed to notice that mid strength rapid firing weapons – like assault  cannons – had become the most valuable in the game because they could glance vehicles to death. Whilst this is still true, they no longer can get a lucky kill in on a penetrating hit. The only way you can now outright destroy a vehicle is if you have a weapon that’s designed to do the job. Which. Makes. Sense. Suddenly lascannons and multimeltas are worth taking again. The best lesser weapons can hope for is to destroy weapons or immobilise them. A lot of effort has gone into the ‘gaming’ aspect, specifically scenarios and missions. Taking the throwaway after thought that was the 6th edition offering and making it a clear and digestible and, most importantly, good. The woeful, soul crushing, miserable Compendium of Special Rules has been thrown out in favour of something logical – rules grouped together by type. It actually means you can find rules too. Which is novel.

Overall the 7th Edition of the Warhammer 40,000 rules feel the tightest they’ve been…um…ever. The books are gorgeous and aside from sterility in the background it’s a strong offering from Games Workshop. The flyers are still over powerered – the Heldrake still being mental – and the fact that there’s still millions of special rules, however nicely they’ve been organised, means it can still frustrate but it’s not enough to put me off.

It’s been a long journey since 3rd Edition hit the shelves back in 1998 and it’s actually been fascinating watching that rule set evolve and see some of the facets of 2nd make a return. Not all the changes have been well received but then again you can’t please all the people all the time. I think there’s probably another iteration (or two) to go before Warhammer 40,000 hits that sweet spot where everything is working in harmony but for now I’d 7th Edition is pretty close.

For me the consideration that’s gone into the small details is what makes it good. Clarifying small but significant sentences cuts down rule flicking, arguing and prevents anyone from feeling hard done by when they lose the inevitable roll off. It’s just a far more well rounded offering and feels more robust because of it. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve felt confident in the rules I’m reading.

The Warhammer 40,000 7th Edition rules is available from Firestorm Games priced £45.00.

Sanctus Reach: Stormclaw Video

warhammer 40000 logoNow I’m the first person to admit that I’m a little out of touch with the 7th edition release. One minute there was no new box set and a rulebook with Dark Angels on the sleeve and now a new boxset with Space Wolves and Orks, putting lie to the persistent rumour that the box set would contain Blood Angels. Well done Games Workshop, you’ve finally managed to hoodwink us.

So here’s this new boxset with an add on campaign book which effectively catapults the start up costs from a fairly steep £75 to a stomach churning £105. Just a frame of reference – the second edition boxset from 21 years ago cost £40 with roughly the same amount of plastic. That’s an 87% increase in price. Granted it’s at least an 87% increase in quality of models but that’s still very rich tea.

Looking at the boxset whilst it may not wow many compared to the previous two boxsets, it’s actually not bad in terms of relative value. Grumbling above aside. By my sums there’s roughly £134.50 worth of toys in there, plus the slim rulebook. Which makes it fairly good value verses its price tag – if we ignore the over inflated prices in the first place. Oh and it’s just about legal on both sides for a change.

I also love the Space Wolves captain model. Many may not remember the cover art to the third edition Space Wolves codex or the Forge World display piece that was made of him, but I most certainly do.

SWvsOrksIt’s great to see the old boy still fighting the good fight with nothing more than a little less hair, one less eye and a lot more trophies…

60010199009_StormclawENG03

Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade Pre-Alpha Gameplay

Graphics aside, because it is pre-alpha, this so far looks like the Space Marine multiplayer. Which I personally thought sucked. One must assume there’s going to be some plot and many places to explore.

But right now here’s some poorly rendered Space Marines having fisty cuffs with some poorly rendered Chaos Space Marines…

Space Hulk: Deathwing Teaser Trailer

Holy fucking shit!

I couldn’t care less what this game is about – this trailer looks immense. And finally gives tell to why Dark Angels were the first army I properly collected as a young hobbyist.

However, I’ve been a good boy and looked into it and oh my poor pants. Space Hulk: Deathwing will be a first person shooter available on the XBox One.

I’ll be watching this one very closely because it has the potential to be incredible. Or a miserable pile of shit like all the other Space Hulk shooters that have preceded it.

The Lord Inquisitor Grey Knights Teaser

The Lord Inquisitor has been in development for a loooooooooong time. Mainly because Games Workshop agreed to let the fan based project live but only with Aaron Demski-Bowden writing the script. So having thrown out the old script so it went back to a blank piece of paper.

So here’s the new trailer with no odd artefact and shaky voice over.

Forge World Preivews Word Bearers Gal Vorbak

The latest Forge World bulletin didn’t have much in the way of news I care about…until I got to this shot. The Gal Vorbak have always interested me intensely when reading the Horus Heresy novels featuring the Bearers of the Word. And, by extension, I’d always hoped they’d do models and hoped further still that they’d do them justice as I’ve never been a fan of the possessed models available for Chaos Space Marines.

GalVorbakJudging by these two gems I think they’re in safe hands. I love how the MKIV armour has been incorporated into the mutations. The reversed jointed lugs are inspired. It all likes like the changes would have been agonising, which they were. I’m finding my eye wandering towards Codex Chaos Space Marines…