Category Archives: Blog

Off to Salute


salute2014webbannerIt’s April, while to many people I imagine that means the potential for people to dress in large rabbit suits (damn furries!) and also an over-indulgence in chocolate eggs, for those of us with more of a bent towards pushing plastic and metal soldiers around made-up battlefields we look forward to a different kind of event.

This coming Saturday sees the annual return of the Salute event. Salute sees the gaming fraternity descend upon the London docklands in an orgy of gaming goodness. It takes place at the eXel centre, a huge complex of rooms where a number of shows take place at the same time. I’ve never seen any of them be as interesting as the toy soldiers show though.

Normally a gathering of gamers in a restricted space is nothing but a miasma of body odour and beard-generated static electricity but, thankfully, there’s enough headroom there in the hall that this isn’t an issue unless you want to get all friendly with some of the neck beards.

From my perspective I really look forward to this day. Despite the large amount of travelling involved from the floating citadel it’s very much an experience I look forward to. A day out with good friends, seeing the latest and greatest on offer from a hobby I’ve been involved in for 22 years.

Wondering if I should take the SLR this year to grab some nice piccies?

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Farewell XBox 360, Hello PS4!


Continuing on from last week’s console blurb I finally got around to getting a PS4. I’ve had my Xbox 360 for many years, and in retrospect I’ve been very happy with it and it’s been an amazing social gaming platform.

Unfortunately or fortunately depending whether you care I’ve never been much of a fanboy so my progression wasn’t directly on to the Xbone despite my excellent experiences with all things X related. I simply looked around at the early adopters – out of all my old Xbox gaming buddies only one has got an Xbone. The rest seem to have gone to PS4. So if I am to maintain my gaming buddies it seemed like the natural progression. It seems the only selling point of the Xbone at the moment is Titanfall, but I suck at those types of games so no personal loss there.

I’m happy with my decision, at least until Gears Of War 4 comes out!

Consoles versus PC – The Mass Debate


video-gamesHere’s a debate which has been raging for, well, not very long compared with say the history of cutlery, but it is relevant to those of a nerd persuasion ie everyone on the floating citadel.

Back in the mists of time this debate spilled across the playgrounds of the country albeit in a different guise. Back then PCs were crap and consoles weren’t much better. Kids would trade punches and fight real battles to defend the honour of the Sinclair Spectrum against the mere suggestion that the Commodore 64 was a better machine (it was and anyone who says otherwise deserves a slap).

Skip a few years and the rock throwing was between the Nintendo kids and Sega kids. The Atari ST owners looked on smugly, whilst the kids with the Commodore Amigas knew that they were the top of the pile. But any machine was a lot of pocket money and if Santa Claus was dumb enough to bring you anything but an Amiga then you knew you had to justify your choice; that you had an ST for its better midi output which was about the only reason to get one. Cue lots of kids trying to pretend to know what that actually meant in reality.

Moving on to current times and everything is a billion times better than previously. Go back and play a game from yesteryear just to see how bad things were. I installed a C64 emulator the other day to revisit some old classics. It was awful. Gaming now is great. No doubt we’ll look back in ten years from our matrix style immersion tanks and laugh, but for now we are in a golden age.

Significantly, there are no real losers in today’s market. You can buy any up to date gaming platform and get some great games. Sure there are market leaders and some shaky outliers, but its all generally quality stuff.

Fights from the past do remain however to some extent, this time over the decision to play PCs or console games. Notice how I said play. Unlike in the past where gaming was an expensive niche hobby, most serious gamers will own both as relative prices are lower and the technology has more value in terms of use ability.

There are pros and cons to the whole PC versus console decision. A lot of it rides on game availability, the sheer number for the PC gives it a massive edge. Also the types of game, MMOs being a popular format and not widely played on consoles. Personally however I have not played much on my PC all year, choosing instead to spend my game time on consoles. For me currently its the ease of use that wins it, being able to switch on and get stuck in with mates without having to patch this or reconfigure that or upgrade this component to play. Having kids means my game times are few and far between and I want to get the most out of them.

No doubt most people will disagree as PC gamers can be such snobs!

Australian Grand Prix – Speed Circuit


scimagesA few weeks ago I introduced a gaming friend of mine to Speed Circuit. For the uninitiated, SC is a positively ancient racing car game (1971). It’s rather unique in that there are no random elements or dice rolling in the course of normal play. Instead, you have to get your car around the track and other drivers as fast as possible using tactics and a resource pool of wear points which are depleted when you push your car beyond it’s limits. If you deplete your wear points you can start rolling dice to keep pushing, but at that point your opponent generally starts heckling your imminent appointment with the barriers.

It’s a really great game so unsurprisingly my friend has decided to run a season of races on a regular basis at his house. He’s prepared some circuits and this week saw our inaugural race at the Australian Grand Prix. Gribblin and I managed an epic battle for third and fourth place with non-citadel denizens coming in first, second and fifth. To make things interesting the rules also accommodate car improvements which might be used next time to add some further tactical options.

If you fancy checking out this out of print game, the best resource on the net for rules and tracks is:
http://lucidphoenix.com/sc/
Also, the BGG entry is here:
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1194/speed-circuit

Happy Racing!
– servitob

Tyranid Army, 2000 points


Sorry It’s taken me this long to post this one up folks, had a chaotic week.  As ZombiePirate has already written his list up, I shall add mine.  I went for a horde list with the idea of including as many of the new models as possible, it is however a little light on upgrades.  So here we go.

  • Hive Tyrant: Wings, Bonesword & Lash Whip, twin-linked Devourers, Electroshock Grubs.
  • 3 Tyranid Warriors: 2 Deathspitters, 1 Venomcannon.
  • 3 Tyranid Warriors: 2 Devourers, 1 Barbed Strangler.
  • 25 Termagants (x3 units): Fleshborers.
  • 1 Broodlord & 5 Genestealers: Rending Claws.
  • 2 Lictors: Scything Talons, Rending Claws, Flesh Hooks.
  • 2 Venomthropes: Lash Whips, Toxic Miasma.
  • Haruspex: Grasping Tongue, Crushing Claws, Acid Blood, Adrenal Glands.
  • Red Terror & 4 Raveners: Scything Talons, Rending Claws (Raveners only), Prehensile Pincer (Red Terror only).
  • Hive Crone: Drool Cannon, Four Tentaclids, Scything Talons.
  • Carnifex: Scything Talons, H. Venom Cannon.
  • 2 Biovores: Spore Mine Launcher.
  • Mawloc: Prehensile Pincer.

As I said it was a little light on upgrades.  Other than the Tyrant all I added was a set of adrenal glands for the Haruspex, ‘heavy’ weapons for the Warriors & Carnifex, rending claws for the Raveners and a prehensile pincer for the Mawloc.  Despite my earlier posts talking about the upgrades, I wanted to go for cheap & cheerful.  One of the problems I have when playing Tyranids is that I tend to go into autopilot mode of advancing as fast as I can without any real thought into what I am doing.  So here’s the plan;

Tyrant & Crone fly around causing all sorts of problems, the Crone waiting for the Chaos Helldrake, whilst the Tyrant attacks targets of opportunity.  The Warriors & Termagants advance under the protection of the Venomthropes (3+ cover saves for the Warriors) with the Carnifex & Biovores providing fire support.  The Raverners & Haruspex advance in support of each other to reach the enemy battle line quickly.  The Broodlord & his retinue will use the Horror power to suppress the enemy shooting and assault when ready.  The Lictors are a bit of a gamble.  I’ve always loved the image of the Lictor, but they proved useless in the last edition so I’m hoping that not having to Deep Strike them will help, and my plan is to use them to drop the Mawloc onto something, say a quad-cannon.

The Future of Games Days & Games Workshop


It’s a fact that the internet is full of cats. Just occasionally though you stumble upon something which is not at all feline related, but is simply brilliant (in a non-cat way; cats as we all know are naturally brilliant), please dear googlespiders go check out the following series of articles. Note that this series was started back in August 2013.

http://masterminis.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-future-of-games-days-games-workshop.html

Now that you’ve gone away and read the many, many delightful walls of text that this series has to offer I would hope that you would agree with me when I say all other blogs in comparison in this niche hobby, including ours, make the Ewoks look like Shaft.

    So can Games Workshop really turn this juggernaut around and actually avoid the possibility of crashing and burning?

Does anyone really care anymore? Is this a tragedy that everyone but GW management could see coming a mile off?

So GW need business. Once, I was a fanboy and my regular bucket of cash I threw at this hobby ended up in their coffers. Not any more. But, hey, if anyone from GW bothered to ask me, the humble fan, what would make me spend cash with them again here’s what I would say:

1) Quit it with the Ridiculous Prices! Now, bear with me, I don’t mean in the regular internet whinging type of way. Anyone who has ever eaten at a fast food restaurant will understand that quality doesn’t come cheap. GW makes the best toy soldiers in the world so feel free to charge high prices for the best goods. BUT even if you are richer than Scrooge McDuck you aren’t going to buy something if it represents poor value for money which leads me nicely into…

2) Make Some Games I Want To Play! Seriously, I’m done with Warhammer 40k and Warhammer Fantasy Battle in their current incarnations!

I quit WHFB many years ago because I was so hacked off with the stupidly obvious imbalances and evident lack of rulestesting! Poor ZombiePirate has seen me rage on the subject of gamebreaking magical items many times, but that for me was just a fly on a massive turd.

I quit Warhammer 40k after the introduction of 6th Edition. To me it just seemed like change for changes sake and a cynical ploy to adjust army balances just enough to make me buy a whole host of new models to stay in the game as well as a massively overpriced rulebook. Then comes the regular new codices which again upset the army balance a bit further forcing you to buy another overpriced book and new models in order to keep your army competitive. Now again, it’s not the direct cost I’m talking about here. If WH40k was the best thing ever I’d stump up the cash. But the imbalances remain, codex creep happens and I simply haven’t got the time to paint an extra 40 models because some bozo changed a subtle rule making a bunch of my units hopeless.

What I would buy into is if GW took WHFB and WH40k, and the years of experience they have with these systems and just made one really awesome set of rules and codices which were set in stone and did not change every few years. These rules would have been rigorously playtested to allow some degree of balance meaning games would actually be fun and down to luck and skill rather than the whims of whose army is flavor of the month or who had done the most math hammer. Let’s face it, that’s not going to happen, so…

***WARNING OLD FART GAMER ALERT***

How about releasing some of those boxed games you used to do so well? Space Hulk is still a floating citadel favorite. Blood Bowl was great and I have fond memories of Space Fleet, ManOWar and Dark Future. What GW maybe doesn’t realise is that a lot of older fans, yes the ones with jobs who don’t have to pester their parents to buy overpriced tat don’t actually have the time to commit to core games. Most of us have families and none of us has the time to paint 2000 points of Skaven to play a 4 hour grindfest. So instead we play RPGs and board games. Games like those that GW used to do so well. If GW don’t want to quit their current model line-up then we’d even play something like a Mordheim or Necromunda revamp. Youngsters might need to look a few of those games up!

***REMINISCENCE IS NOW OVER YOU CAN STOP ROLLING YOUR EYES***

3) Use Your IP Effectively! Stop it with the cease and desist crap it makes you look stoopid! How many times have I wanted a Space Marine hoodie or an awesome poster, an Imperial Guard forage hat or even a ‘Tea for the Tea God’ mug and been disappointed? Rhetorical question, it’s every time! Wow, if I was in charge this would be one of the first things I would be churning out. How a company with quite possibly the super coolest IP on the planet has failed in merchandising anything except for lots of little plastic doods and a handful of computer games is beyond me.

4) Make Me Want To Come to Games Day! I am not paying a fistful of cash to go to a painting competition and sales event. Either make it a proper day of games and demos like every other Games Day not run by GW or make it the must attend event for all gamers. I paid serious cash to go to EVE Online Fanfest but for that I took part in the biggest celebration of online spaceships the world has ever known. Tournaments, games, freebies, powerpoint presentations, dinner with the developers, live demos, feedback sessions a massive party and even a show by the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra. If Games Workshop did something like that people would be selling their firstborn to attend.

5) Oh, and stop making White Dwarf a massive advert for your new stuff. It wasn’t that great back in the day but at least it did things other than sell to you.

But is any of this going to happen? As I said earlier does any body care any more? I am sure the world will keep spinning if GW goes to the wall. I expect someone would snap up all that juicy IP and hopefully do something useful with it. There is even a chance that the situation in miniatures gaming improves with the extra room. Or, and this is my worry and I feel already beginning to happen, a million and one different manufacturers develop a million and one ‘new’ and ‘revolutionary’ games systems to fill the void and we end up as a community investing in too many games and so end up playing nothing.

– servitob