Monday, 31 January 2011

A look backwards and a look forwards

I thought I would post a quick update before January disapears with me looking back on what has happened this month for me hobbywise and a look forwards to what I would like to be doing this year. As you are already guessing, I haven't done a lot this month. I've done some dabbling with some Chaos Daemon models for 40K but I've had to pull out of the 40K GT due to work commitments (something I wasn't happy about but that's life). That has been kind of a blessing in disguse as it means I can spend more time painting and modelling but I'm already looking forwards to the next shiney things (Grey Knights and Orcs and Goblins).

I'm really looking forwards to the Grey Knights as it means two things to me. Firstly, we get a new codex. This to me is a brilliant thing as the Grey Knights have some of the coolest background in the game, plus we should see a Marine army which will operate like how we read about them in the books. Secondly it means we are getting new models, so I can see the Grey Knight kits being combined with a lot of marine armies which will be a good thing. I can't wait to see the pictures of all the new things, but I just hope that GW support the release a bit better than they have done with other releases the last couple of years.

I have mixed feelings about the Orcs and Goblins release, but this is mainly because I have mixed feelings about Fantasy at the moment. I quite enjoy the direction GW has taken the rules in, but my issue is that it's very easy to end up with a dull army and have a dull game. I'm trying to come back to it as I have made many friends playing the game. My general plan is to start off slow and build up a new army but if I'm completely honest, I'm more interested in 40K (and dabbling with Hordemachine). Hopefully the new army book is going to be something special as it's been rumoured to be and I think Fantasy needs it as it seems to be stagnating a little bit. Whilst we have seen a bit more support in terms of new models, I think the game needs a bit more than that.

Reading wise, I've read Prospero Burns (see my thoughts here) and I'm in the process of reading the new Space Marine battles book - The Purging of Kadillus by Gav Thorpe. So far it's nothing special (sorry Gav) but it's an enjoyable read and I think Gav has the Space Marines just right in how they act and fight. With the new FAQS, it has got me thinking about a Ravenwing army!

Apart from that, not much has happened to me hobby wise. I have a few tournaments I'm thinking about attending but with the way work is, I'm finding it trick to commit to an event as I seem to struggle to find the spare time (plus my wife is a florist and with Valentines Day nearly here plus Mothers Day on the way, things get busy!)

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Warhammer - Best Battle Report EVER!

Just a quicky and a bit of a repost here from The Warhammer Forum. Bobo The Vampire Monkey, aka Isaac Alexander (one of the best players in the UK and Australia and Editor of Unseen Lerker Magazine), has just posted a quick battle report on TWF. Bobo is well know for writing fantastic battle reports and this one is a brilliant one (in fact it made me laugh and dribble coffee everywhere!). I'll now hand it over to Bobo


So there I was. It was round 5 of the UK Warhammer Masters. I was attending my third Masters tournament; and with my previous finishes of 3rd and 2nd I was bloody determined to win this one. In the second last round I faced off against Rich Laking and his Dark Elves on table 2. Whichever one of us won this game had a very good chance of going on to win the tournament.

It was the Meeting Engagement scenario. I was using my very tuned '4 unit' Vampire Counts army, and I had already seen Rich massacre another VC army because it came at him piecemeal and let him get around the flanks. I had no intention of letting him do such a thing to me.

Knowing that this was a favourable matchup for me, and that Rich was likely to box away his units in the far corner in an effort to conserve points for as long as possible, I deployed my army thus:

If you're wondering, that's 110 Ghouls (in three units) and 43 Grave Guard (in one unit).

I had the small difficulty of both my Vampire Lord and Drakenhoff Wight King BSB rolling 1s and starting off the board, but with some cunning use of the joining units rule I thought this was a very manageable problem.

After picking the pieces of his brain up off the floor (I think my strategy dazzled him a bit :)) Rich did the sensible thing and, realising he couldn't hide, stacked his entire army on one flank, ready to obliterate it and turn on the rest of my army if it worked.

I was quite confident going into the game. Rich hadn't rolled any doubles on his Shadow Level 4, meaning he couldn't pick Withering to amplify his shooting phase to ridiculous levels. He also hadn't rolled any doubles on his level 2 Fire mage, meaning he couldn't pick Flaming Swords of Rhuin.
A quick point of note: in a small 16-man field like the Masters, there tends to be a little bit of 'list scouting' going on, so you're not caught out by sneaky tricks in future rounds. Even when it's not intentional you tend to pay attention to the horror stories that come up in between rounds, ie "Man, I never saw that flying Doombull coming!". Anyway, the previous VC player that Rich massacred had put his defeat down to the extra attack Black Guard who then got augmented with Flaming Swords of Rhuin, completely ruining the VC player's Regen banner. Now that Rich hadn't rolled it I was quite confident that my Grave Guard should eat his Black Guard alive.

None of Rich's units started off the board - except his Level 4 general, funnily enough! So the three most important models in our armies put together were off having a picnic somewhere.

Winning the roll for first turn (ie, Rich didn't roll the 6 to seize the initiative), I moved my Vampire Lord and Wight King BSB into the middle of my army. At this point I noted to my opponent that I actually had quite a magical edge this turn since his level 4 was off the board and thus couldn't dispel.
And like a complete moron, I took no advantage of this fact whatsoever. On the contrary, I was quite pleased with my first turn magic phase, as I managed to raise 16 new Ghouls in the unit opposing 50 of Rich's Spearmen and panic a unit of Shades with my double bombardment of magic missiles.
What I completely failed to realise was that Rich's Black Guard were currently without a Cauldron buff, and would be utterly massacred by my Grave Guard if I were to VanHels them in, Regen banner or not.

As it was Rich's (20-wide) Black Guard declared a charge on the Grave Guard. I did not mind this in the slightest. I was pleased that the Hydra rolled an inch short and didn't make it though. Rich also declared a charge with his pegasus-riding hero into my 45-man Ghoul bunker containing all my characters, with the apparent intent of assassinating my hero-level Vampire. I was over 20" away so he needed to roll fairly well to make the charge, which he did. Another stupid mistake by me, leaving him room to get in contact. No problem, thinks Bobo, I shall challenge him with my champion.

Rich moves his level 4 Shadow wizard onto the table. He rolls 7 power dice for the Winds of Magic. I know what's coming. "Mind Razor on the Black Guard," he states. "Needing..." he trails off, checking the casting value. "Double 6," I inform him, "or it's gonna be my scroll!".
He produced the double 6.

And my world disintegrated.

Allow me to illustrate the full degree of the combat here.

He had extra attacks from the Cauldron. On a unit that is 20 models wide. And already have 2 attacks apiece. That's 61 attacks.
They are, of course, Black Guard, so have WS5 and can re-roll their misses in every round of combat. To cap this off, my Vampire Lord is currently in combat with the errant pegasus Noble so can't use his Helm of Commandment to buff the Grave Guard.
Did I mention that the Black Guard now have S9 from Mind Razor?

58 hits and 47 wounds later, I removed my unit of Grave Guard (who have never even been reduced to half strength in a game, ever).

Rich then overran.

Into the combat with my Vampire Lord's bunker.

Holy crap. This is not good.

In an attempt to survive, the Vampire Lord challenges Rich's pegasus Hero. He is unscathed since the Noble only has a Biting Blade and I have the Regen Banner in the unit. Phew, we could still be okay here. I think I might just be able to absorb enough casualties on the 45 Regenerating Ghouls that my attacks back will be enough to survive the combat and then use my magic to turn the rest of the army around and muller the Black Guard next turn.

Rich then produced the Banner of Eternal Flame on the Black Guard.

And that was the game.

1 player turn each. 1 combat phase. 2097 victory points. 15 minutes.

The most extraordinary experience I have ever had in a game of Warhammer. :)

Monday, 17 January 2011

UK Masters has been and gone!

So the UK Masters has been and gone. We have a new Warhammer Master as well as a new 40K Master. From the general posts over on The Warhammer Forum, it seems that it was a good weekend by all. We should be seeing coverage from Rankings HQ over the next few weeks, as well as podcast coverage. For WFB, tune into Bad Dice and Heelanhammer and for 40K tune into 11th Company and Two Gamer Radio.

So here's the final results...

1st Richard Laking (Dark Elves)
2nd Will Goodwin (Vampire Counts)
3rd Dan Heelan (Lizardmen)
4th Adam Hall (Daemons of Chaos)
5th Michael Biggs (Warriors of Chaos)
6th Russ Veal (Vampire Counts)
7th Isaac Alexander (Vampire Counts)
8th Nick Pym (Daemons of Chaos)
9th Ben Curry (Dark Elves)
10th Keith Wilkinson (Vampire Counts)
11th Andrew Isherwood (Warriors of Chaos)
12th Chris Legg (Skaven)
13th Mark Wildman (Empire)
14th Singe Frost (Beastmen)
15th Ben Johnson (Skaven)
16th Martyn Furnival (Daemons of Chaos)

Warhammer 40K
(note a couple of players had to drop out due to real life)
1st Josh Roberts (Imperial Guard)
2nd Neil Kerr (Chaos Daemons)
3rd Stu Robertson (Dark Eldar)
4th Peter Cooke (Blood Angels)
5th Alex Harrison (Imperial Guard)
6th Rob Buckley (Chaos Space Marines)
7th Filippo Cipriani (Tyranids)
8th Luke Nurser (Space Wolves)
9th Chris Green (Tyranids)
10th James Taylor (Chaos Space Marines)
11th Kiran Reddy (Eldar)
12th Richard Fielder (Space Wolves)
13th Gaz Jones (Dark Eldar)
14th James Ramsay (Imperial Guard)

Sounds like it was a great event and I can't wait to hear and see what happened!

Monday, 10 January 2011

UK 40K Masters is nearly here

For those of you who don't follow the UK 40K tournament scene, you may not be aware that the WFB & 40K masters is happening this weekend. I'm not going to cover the WFB Masters much, quite simply because I'm still working out what's hot and what's not (apart from the obvious death star big point denial blocks) and I think it'll be quite close between the top spot. 40K wise I'm going to make some predictions and generally talk some rubbish.

Firstly, what is the Masters? Many, many years ago, in Australia, the WFB players started up a system of recording results of players and coming up with a system to rank them. Then out of this list, the top 16 get invited over to a tournament called the Masters to work out who would be the best of the best. This went on for a few years and out of this grew a website called Rankings HQ. Now Rankings HQ (or RHQ to save wear and tear on my keyboard), started to collect information of players around the world. Over here in the UK, we jumped straight onto the Bandwagon for WFB and the Masters and the rankings had run with great success and little moaning. Then it was tried to get this set up for 40K and we had quite a bit of moaning, mostly that the Rankings would make events uber competitive. After a while the rankings was set up for 40K in the UK and it was generally accepted that they didn't make the game anymore competitive than it already is (somebody competitive will be competitive no matter what system is in place).

So that's a brief history lesson, now lets look at this weekend. Basicly it's a weekend of six games of varying points (either 1500 or 1750 points which is decided which one to use each round) and a variety of scenarios. You can find the lists and the rules HERE.

Looking at the lists we have a nice mixture of races but the most surprising thing is that nobody is taking Orks! I'm not too sure if this is because some players have been using them a lot and fancy a change or that they have fallen out of favour. Personally the Battlewagon rumble list is still very strong and I would have expected somebody to bring a varient of it. Unsurprisingly, we don't see any Tau, Necrons, Inquisitorial Forces (not for long...!), Dark Angels or Generic Space Marines. It's also not surprising that we see that a lot of the lists for the same race are quite simular (well they are the best players and would pick simular things). It's slightly disapointing that nobody is taking anything silly or unusual, but I think this being the first Masters for 40K it's to be expected.

So onto predictions. After looking through the lists and the tournament rules, I quite fancy the look of an Eldar army doing it, more specificly Lee Brown's. It's quite mobile and can do a bit of everything. I think it may struggle against some of the Horde armies but anybody who has been on the end of a Eldar shooting phase (especially backed up by Eldrad!), know it makes you cry. But if I'm completely honest, I think it's going to be a Imperial Guard army that wins the event, and I think it will be Josh who may do it. Although he is bringing an army which I assume he is unfamilar with, it has plenty of Anti Tank and plenty of anti infantry. James Ramsey has a cool Guard list, but I think it may struggle against another horde army or Josh's Guard list. I would also love Rob Madeley to win the event as he's a local lad and goes to my club, but with Daemons, they can be so random and looking at the players he may not win the event.

So who do you think will win the Masters?

++ Incoming: Grey Knights ++

Mondays are normally quite depressing. You've just gotten used to having a couple of days off and you're then thrusted back into having to get up early and go to work. It's even more depressing for me as it's the start of another barrage of soaps that my wife likes watching!

Good news is that GW have mentioned that something is coming. Something cool and of course Space Marine related - The Grey Knights are coming! Over on the GW website (click HERE and you will need to have a GW website account to see it), they have posted a confirmation saying that they are coming out for April and that there are plastic kits. Here's the blurb for those of you who can't be bother to go over to the GW website....

As the Emperor prepared for his final confrontation with the traitor Horus, he granted one final gift to Mankind, a safeguard and protection against the horrors of the Warp - the Grey Knights. A brotherhood of warriors as elite as they are secretive, the Grey Knights are a shining line of silvered steel that stands between humanity and the Daemons of Chaos.

Trained as the mightiest paragons of mental fortitude and martial discipline in the Imperium, the Grey Knights maintain a vigilant watch for daemonic incursion, responding wrathfully against the scions of the Dark Gods, and those who dally with them.

Clad in baroque Terminator armour and wielding powerful weapons such as storm bolters and Nemesis force weapons, the Grey Knights tear through the enemy, unleashing an onslaught of psychic powers and sorcery to sunder the foe.

The Grey Knights are an unstoppable force, the manifestation of the Emperor's will, valiant warriors who willingly sacrifice their own humanity so that Mankind itself can endure.

This April Games Workshop releases Codex: Grey Knights, alongside a comprehensive range of fantastically detailed Citadel miniatures. Although details are being kept firmly under wraps for now, you can expect an exciting selection of plastic kits to enable you to build your own Grey Knights army.

Over the coming weeks we'll be releasing more details both here on the Games Workshop website and also in the pages of White Dwarf - to ensure you're the first to get the news, make sure you subscribe to the Games Workshop newsletter and keep an eye on the What's New Today blog.

Whilst like a lot of players, I tend to get annoyed seeing Marine armies everywhere, I do think that they are cool. I've been thinking about a Marine army for a while now and I'm half tempted to pick up a few sets to have a play around with them. I haven't paid the rumours much attention but it sounds like these guys are going to be super elite, so an average army of them will be around 20 models. It's also interesting as it sounds like the whole Daemonhunter codex will be dropped and this codex will focus on Grey Knights. So I'm expecting limited Inquisitoral presence in the codex and anything to do with allies being dumped.

Friday, 7 January 2011

GW Sales Down?

A few people may have noticed the following floating around on the web the last few days... (source is BBC News)

Separately, fellow retailer Games Workshop also saw its share price dive as it faces tough trading conditions in the entertainment market.Sales of its fantasy figurines and other products fell 4% in the six months to 28 November compared with a year earlier.

The company further warned that "difficult trading conditions since that time mean that this shortfall is unlikely to be recovered by the year end".As a result, the firm feared that profits for the year to May were unlikely to meet market expectations.

Shares in Games Workshop fell nearly 18% in early London trading.

Now of course a few people have started off ranting about how Warhammer 8th Edition is forcing folks to buy more models, therefore people are switching to other systems and this is the reason for this. Whilst I see their point, I don't agree with it 100%. I personally think the reason GW has struggled to be...

Big Bang and no follow up
GW released Warhammer 8th edition in July, which was quite a big release. They took a very ballsy approach and completely changed vast parts of the game. This of course annoyed a few people who went to other systems, but overall the reaction was positive. But I do feel that GW screwed up here by not following up to the release with a 8th edition army book. Whilst you could argue that 8th edition was a big change and people needed to adjust, I think five/six months is a bit overkill. We also saw the Island of Blood set, but at £60 it's almost out of that starter set category for a lot of people and I imagine a lot of people didn't pick up a copy unless they wanted Skaven or High Elves. Also the last main release we saw was the Dark Eldar codex which came out with a small bang and then we have nothing futher.

It's getting expensive
It's not a cheap hobby and having a recession doesn't help things but having a set of 10 Pheonix Guard at £25 does make people things twice about it. I think GW need to come up with some incentives (a loyaty card maybe) or something to get people feeling like they are getting value for money. I think for 40K, most people are happy spending around £20/30 on a unit, but for WFB it's a different kettle of fish due to the game giving large infantry blocks lots of bonuses. This would have factored in as well as I'm sure GW was expecting people to buy lots of boxes of Infantry when the game was released.

GW has a lot more competition now than it did 10 years ago. There are now lots of minature wargame systems with nice models which are attracting players for many reasons. Also chuck into the mix the video game market. I think things like the Playstation Move and Xbox 360 Kinect would have effected sales as they are new and gimicky and are more interesting for the age market GW seems to aim for.

The last couple of years, GW has been doing it's best to restructure and adapt so they can continue to make money, but I do feel that they are going to be in for a rough couple of years now. Overall the retail sector has been having problems shifting stock (why do we see so many sales now) and with VAT going up is going to make things slightly worse. I think GW needs to have another look at focusing on the kid/parent market, because I don't think that's the way forwards for them now unless they can come up with more self contained games which people can pick up as a gateway into the things that they sell (plus they can sell a board game anywhere!). As a hobbist, I don't want to see GW struggle or go out of business as I enjoy what they produce. On the other hand though, I do want them to be kicked in the knackers so they can wake up and see that they may need to rethink things.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Prospero Burns - A Reviewening

Over Christmas, Santa desposited a copy of Prospero Burns by Dan Abnett for me and I finished it last week. The book is set in the Horus Heresy and covers the events of the Space Wolves being set upon the Thousand Sons. Now I must issue a warning before I go any further - if you are expecting Space Marine Bolter porn, you are going to be disapointed. In fact very disapointed. If on the other hand you want a good sci-fi book set in a brilliant setting, this is the book for you.

The book starts with a Fenris tribe raiding another Fenris tribe, and through this we meet the star of the book, Kasper Hawser. We get to see Kaspers point of view of the events leading up to the destruction of Prospero, and it's because of this I think hard core Space Wolf/Marine fans may struggle. Whilst we only get to glimpse the Astartes of VI legion through Kasper's interaction with them, we do get some nuggets of information about the legion and Dan Abnett enforces the view that the men of Fenris and the Vlka Fenryka (what the Space Wolves call themselves and prefer to be known as), aren't just vikings in space. The book also has quite a few flashbacks of Kasper's life, showing his life on Terra as a noted acadermic and also show's his journey into becoming a member of the Vlka Fenryka's 3rd Company as it's skjald (story teller/historian). It is through this journey we learn all about how the Space Wolves see themselves, the Council of Nikea where Magnus and the Thousand Sons are put on trial for their sorcerous means of war, and the assault upon Prospero.

Most of the Horus Heresy books can be read without needing to have read any of the other books in the series, but I must state that it might be a good idea that you read A Thousand Sons as this helps explain the events that Dan covers in Prospero Burns. Speaking of the title, we do not see much of Prospero burning as this section of the book is told from Kasper's point of view as a Skjald, so we get to hear about the battle as if we were a Space Wolf and Kasper was retelling the tale. Also most of the actual battle is covered quite well in A Thousand Sons and I'm quite pleased that Dan didn't choose to regurgiate the same thing Graham covers in his book.

If I was to score this book, I would give it 9 out of 10. It's a brilliant story and covers the events very nicely from a view point we have never seen before. It also covers and lays down some foundations for a nice subplot, concerning how the events of the Heresy came to fruit. I really enjoyed reading this book and found that I was doing what I could to sneak off and read a bit more of it.

So Prospero Burns gets 9 out of 10!

Go get yourself a copy if you want some good scifi and 30K action!