Tag Archives: Army

Where Do We Go From Here?

A few days ago I made a post about the much derided business model of the Sherriff and his gang. Following on from that I thought it would be interesting to hypothesise about the future of gaming as well as also take note of the past. Now I am in the fourth decade (think about it) of my life I’d like to think I have enough experience to comment on these kinds of things without being declared a fanboi or whatever is the current term for a detractor towards any of the companies in my hobby. I mean, I even managed to find a completely related image to start the post with, I was going to go with a simple question mark but then I found a dice with question marks on… my google-fu is strong today!

Anyway, I mentioned before that I started out with Games Workshop and I imagine that this may well ring true today as the high street presence of GW is superior to a local games store that has a more diverse range. When I started the hobby the competition was nearly non-existent and GW certainly had a much better product than anything else I came across. Pen and Paper RPGs were de rigueur and anything else was Magic: The Gathering. At least, that is how it was perceived through the eyes of a 12-year-old when I started looking around.

I personally got started with second edition 40k and have fond memories of the truly disgustingly unbalanced armies my teenage brain came up with. Despite friends falling by the wayside as we grew up I still kept going with my hobby and the ever-increasing expenditure required to keep it up. It wasn’t really until the early part of the 21st century that I really started to see viable alternatives show up on my radar. I saw Warmachine and was bowled over, they had some really nice models that were totally different to anything I’d encountered through Games Workshop and you could get a box of metal troops for like £12-14, the same as a basic 10 man plastic set from the Sherriff. While never bringing it to my play group I’d also gotten some pieces for Confrontation. Rackham produced some of the finest (literally and figuratively) metal models that I have EVER come across.

It was these that really began to open my eyes to the increasing level of competition to Games Workshop. By the time this was happening GW had changed from the company I had known in my youth. Gone were the sales and offers in White Dwarf, the magazine itself having gone downhill in quality over the years too. There were online stores that offered all kinds of things I’d never seen nor heard of and with these new games I only needed a handful of models to play. Confrontation minis came with a small rulebook in the blister allowing you to play without purchasing a rulebook, same with Warmachine, the basic rules were included in the starter sets. I don’t think GW could ever do this considering the length and complexity of some of their rules. I know of some games that have more complex rules but condense them into much smaller books than GW puts out and they are often much clearer, even when translated out of the non-English language they start out in.

However, the new market of competition has not been without its winners and losers, nor has it been static. While I think GW has struggled with this competition (something it has not been used to in the past considering its dominant market position) in the past few years we’ve seen a marked improvement in the quality of what has been released I feel. Unfortunately they still seem committed to their rather draconian price increases. You have to commend GW because even in the face of this they are still going strong while others have fallen. I speak of course of Rackham, the French company that was at one point going strong with Confrontation. They had amazing minis, I still have a few of them lying around. The version 3 rule set was interesting even with the dodgy translation to English and considering the updates they made for 3.5. However, the company scrapped the line and decided to go pre-painted (that’s a very short version of a whole host of events that could make a post on its own) and people voted with their wallets. Late last year the company finally ceased to be and we lost what could have been something much greater.

Privateer Press have done well with Warmachine and Hordes, however, they are not without issue themselves. Even with the new Mk2 platform Warmachine is not as cheap to get into as it used to be. Sure you don’t need to pick up the large number of books there were for Mk1 but PP have raised their prices too and come of the newer kits really are pricey. While GW will charge you £25 for 10 plastic models in some cases you can get 10 much chunkier metals from PP for a fiver more. I know that the denizens of the floating citadel love their plastics but I know of many that favour the solidity of cold, hard alloy.

Both games that I have mentioned however are also very different to Games Workshop, they are more skirmish games than army games, although with large-scale Warmachine games you do need a lot of figures and I know that Rackham had Ragnarok when Conf 3 was out, and that would cost you more than a GW army to build too. However, predominantly you’d need very few models to play. Over the years there are a vast array of skirmish games that have come to the market, some have kept going while others have failed, each trying to carve a niche in a pretty saturated marketplace. We’ve got games that work off dice and those that try to innovate through card decks or other more abstract systems.

We’ve even got a company made of ex-GW employees trying to do an army size game (there are others out there besides Mantic I know). What I see these days is that the juggernaut that is GW keeps rolling, like that big wheeled thing at the start of the second Transformers movie;

Many of the newer games seem like those NEST dudes or the other Auto-bots trying to take it down and grab some glory for themselves. I don’t think we’ve yet seen any company being the metaphorical Optimus Prime that’s going to be the final nail in the coffin of GW though. Obviously as long as there are players willing to spend money our games will continue to evolve. There are such a great set of options out there for anyone starting the hobby, GW are doing people a favour on one hand by getting people into the hobby and I like educating people about cheaper alternatives. I don’t think we will see a dominance of army games against skirmish games, nor vice versa, after all it’s the pricing point that becomes the important part of those equations.

For years the competition has been these skirmish style games, fewer miniatures but of a really high quality. An army game won’t match this in my opinion considering how many more models you generally need. But people also like those big sweeping battles and I see more new releases in this genre now we have so many skirmish games.

I don’t know if the market is going to go one way or the other. I know that personally I’m in favour of the skirmish offerings, especially now I am in the position of being really careful with my cashflow. A figure here and there is all I need to expand rather than having to boost or buy new regiments completely. Will GW survive with so many other snapping at their heels? The recent financials show increased profits against reduced sales, I reckon the way they have treated their customers will come back to haunt them at some point. You can only turn the screw so much on people and the screws are currently coming from a lot of directions for many.

How do you see the market developing? Is there something you see that I’ve missed? Are GW doomed and on a slow decline into real trouble? Is there a potential heir to the Sherriff’s thrown?

Miniatures Gaming – Voting with your Wallet

If any of you out there in Internet-land are like me, not only is the world doomed, but when you first got into miniatures there was really only one place you could go. I was introduced to the hobby through my Dad, I remember being taken into the stores and looking at all the stuff on display, two Rhinos for £5 and the like. I understand that there were other miniature games around, a million different sets of historical rules for every period following Adam and Eve’s departure from the Garden of Eden for example.

However, it was the high street presence of the Sherriff’s crew that was likely the reason that many of us first engaged with the imaginary worlds crafted b Priestley and co. I spent most of my youth (and money) on things like Necromunda, Warhammer 40,000 and a few bits here and there for fantasy, I bought every issue of White Dwarf that came out and had models for nearly every system going.

Much is made on public forums about the Sherriff’s business model of raising taxes on us poor folks, odd isn’t it how our oft-used metaphor actually fits in quite well with English mythology? I remember a time when you could get a box of plastic troops, entirely the same of course, for a few coins, of course you’d end up with a unit looking exactly the same but for the time this really wasn’t an issue. Metal models were around £3 each and most units came in blister packs rather than the regiment sets we are used to in more modern times. The quality of the models has of course increased dramatically and we get optional extras galore with the newer plastic kits. However, now more than ever people complain about consistent increases in prices.

I was reminiscing with friends over the weekend about how you used to get vouchers in White Dwarf for sales and store re-openings. You’d be able to get 3 for 2 on boxed sets and blister packs, £5 off the boxed games etc… they even had sales to shift old stock. None of this is carried over into the same high street stores that carry the legacy of my childhood spent in the hobby. OK, I have more disposable income now and I understand the principles of inflation, but when you have 10 plastic miniatures for £25 you have to consider how you spend. I know there are a lot of customers who only purchase through eBay or discount stores and I don’t blame them. GW haven’t done themselves any favours, but they do tend to have a loyal fan base that may decry price rises and yet still throw money at the same company.

What we need is a Robin Hood to rescue us from the evil of overpriced toys. The problem is that we still enjoy these games and with GW still having that high street presence, even if it is one guy on minimum wage staffing it full-time, you have an advantage there over the competition.

While looking for that Robin Hood the fact that GW has a long-established legacy in the market also means that it has a dominant position. Now, over the past decade or so that dominant position has begun to erode. I remember early in the noughties when I got into Confrontation it was something of a revelation. I’d had my eyes opened that there were other games out there with models that simply blew away what GW were making at the time (I imagine their dominant market position had led to laziness for pushing the boundaries on what they made). Skirmish was something I was wholly unfamiliar with, the exception being Necromunda which is still probably my favourite GW game ever. Yet Confrontation had a lot going for it,, it is unfortunate that bad management and poor decisions have since led to their demise.

Not all was lost however, Privateer Press came on the scene and stomped into the gaming arena with an amazing system that was a joy to play.  Setting up your force was easy and you got the basic rules in the starter boxes so could play right away with what you picked up in the store. Something very hard to do with any of GWs products without heavy investment in the starter boxes and even then, the armies weren’t really balanced to fight with. PP grew out of their success and capitalised on taking players off GW, this led to games and eventually an updating of the rules. However, Warmachine is now not a cheap game to get into with all the different options and factions available. Plus there are a lot of big, expensive metal models now. I’d still consider it a game worth playing though.

Then there are the other skirmish games. True, no-one quite does large-scale battles like GW does, but then you’re looking at spending a lot more money to play it. In an age of austerity such as we are now entering I wonder about the long-term future of GW and its model. Now really is the time of the smaller games, where you don’t need to drop 100 models to play at the point the rules were designed for. It is quite possible to get a game right now where the investment is less than £50 and you have a fully playable army to the normal level for that game. Many of these are not as full of glaring writing errors and special rules abuses. A lot of games also present the rules for free online as a download rather than in a disgustingly over-priced tome.

You might wonder why I am writing such a GW bashing post, well, I certainly don’t want to be seen as a GW basher. I’ve enjoyed their products over the years and still do. I have a 3000pts Fantasy army and a lot of stuff for War of the Ring and bits now for 40k. With my circumstances about to change forever though I look at the amount of money it would cost me to finish my Dark Eldar, then look at the current feelings and trends of my play group and it looks more and more likely that I would get next to no use out of them. I may have been waiting a long time for the new models but after having spent the better part of £100 and needing to spend around the same again to complete the army it doesn’t look like it will happen.

Following on from my earlier post about skirmish games there are some out there where the layout is like I said earlier. For £50-£60 you can have a pretty large force with options for swapping around or playing larger games now and again. It may then be that through unplanned and organic means I’ll never play 40k again, I still have some stuff to shift on eBay that may result in me finishing the army, at the moment though it is just going to be a painting project on the side.

The landscape of gaming has changed and will continue to do so for sure. I’ll have my War of the Ring and Warhammer for the big game fixes but I can see the fact that being on a tighter budget will drive how much I consume more now than ever and the skirmish market seems by far the best way of getting my fix.

The more people cotton on to this the slimmer the Sherriff’s market will become. While I don’t want to see the company fold, there must be a threshold whereby the constant increases in prices plateaus. While GW customers do tend to have a pretty good disposable income I know that there are a lot of people who have been forced to stop because they can no longer afford what they’d like to buy. Then there is the morality of continuing to fund an organisation that seems blind to its customers.

I’m looking forward to seeing how our playing goes this year. We’ll have to set up a weekend again soon and go at it, 6 Inch Move style. Having a foreknowledge of some of the projects that may spring up this year, certainly should be interesting here on the blog!

Skirmish Games – WTB PST!

A Skirmish Team, Yesterday

In June of last year I wrote a post posing questions about how people choose what games they play. When you look at it it was really just a bit of a diatribe on how we’ve ended up playing what we are playing. Looking at the second list on that post and what we’ve done gaming wise things have changed slightly, inevitably things do as real life happens, let’s review and see where we are now.

  • Warhammer 40,000
  • War of the Ring
  • Malifaux
  • Warmachine
  • Firestorm Armada
  • Dungeons and Dragons

This was the list as was, below is the list according to stuff we’ve actually played recently;

  • Warhammer 40,000
  • Warhammer Fantasy (Just me and Gribblin)
  • Malifaux (Just me and nBreaker and we need another game soon!)
  • Firestorm Armada
  • War of the Ring
  • Dungeons and Dragons (although I need to pen the next part of the campaign soon)

Warmachine, despite being popular has not been touched for ages. In all honesty we haven’t played any Firestorm for a while either and Gribblin has the rules and a Starter set for Dystopian Wars. I imagine he’d like someone to play against but I’m somewhat distrustful of Spartan’s business model. In under a year we’ve got 3 games each with starter sets and they aren’t exactly a huge company. There are other games on the horizon and I wonder how they are going to sate their customers who play only one of their offerings, although I imagine that many of them play all three. I do wonder how long it will be before even those playing all three games start complaining that there aren’t enough releases for one of the games.

When we were out and about on Monday I overheard the comment that one of the team was looking for a decent skirmish game. Now, as regular readers may know, this is my favourite kind of game. I know that Gribblin prefers his big sweeping regiments kind of games and I have room to accommodate that too, but small games are awesome because they cost less to get into, take less time to play and are more in-depth.

The range that was being looked at at the time was Infinity, a game I have the first edition rulebook for and used to have some models before selling them off. It was voiced that this game is quite complex and it is. Obviously we also have Warmachine, however, considering how much you need to play properly I view Warmachine and Hordes as a kind of halfway-house between skirmish and army games. A basic army will have more models in a squad than a typical skirmish game has in total. I think what is being looked for is something more akin to Confrontation 3.5 and that was an excellent game, even with its complexity but you could play it straight away due to the fact the rules were included with each blister pack.

Over the Christmas period I’ve spent some time looking into proper skirmish games, games that require a maximum of around 7 or 8 figures to play the default level of game. This kind of game is proper skirmish in the vein of the now deceased Confrontation and due to the number of models required is pretty easy on the wallet too. While your typical Games Workshop army for any system will set you back around £200 just for models, the skirmish games will come in at around £50 a 75% saving. It’s also lighter on the storage requirements which tends to keep wives/girlfriends happy.

Rulebooks these days tend to come in around £20 and providing you’re not GW there are no army books required either, you get everything you need in the one book (although I have to give props for War of the Ring having everything in the main book).

Luckily, the number of skirmish games right now provides a lot of choice to the consumer. The one problem with skirmish games though is the somewhat insatiable enthusiasm of gamers. While it may be that a skirmish game costs only 25% of the cost associated with an army game your average gamer cannot resists pretty models and therefore splashes out more cash on a second or third faction for a game, thus raising the expenditure towards the level of the army type games anyway. Self-restraint can be difficult at the best of times but decent looking models really can wear down a gamer’s resolve.

Off the top of my head I can list a number of skirmish games that might scratch the itch for the inhabitants of the floating citadel, providing a cheap game to get into and vastly reduced quantities of stuff to transport to gaming sessions;

  • Eden
  • Hell Dorado
  • Anima: Tactics
  • Infinity
  • Malifaux
  • Freebooter’s Fate

These would be my top picks. Eden has starter boxes that come with the rules included. Hell Dorado was sold off and the resurrection of the franchise is upon us with an English rulebook expected to drop soon along with new starter sets. Anima has some amazing models and requires only a handful of models, this was one of the major investigations I was doing over Christmas, you can also get the entire rules free online. Infinity has some gorgeous stuff, however, it was mentioned that it is quite complicated in its rules and you need a bucket-load of terrain to play it. Malifaux is already in 6 Inch Move HQ, however, I know some people have reservations about it with regards to the balance of certain models and the vast swathe of special rules each model has. Still, from a personal point of view it’s easy to learn the basics of the game and the special rules for each model are where your strategy comes from. Freebooter’s Fate I’ve looked into only slightly, although any fantasy game that requires no dice, one card deck among all players and has lots of pirates is on to a winner from the start.

As was mentioned in my post last year, the games we play generally come from consensus, although there are the times when one of us runs out and buys some stuff and the others take a look and then do the same. Obviously with a casual play group you want to be careful about spending other people’s money for them, hence why I don’t own a great raft of stuff and then try to get others to play them. The consensual side of things keeps everything amicable as people voice whether they are happy or not.

My top picks from the above list, discounting Malifaux, would be either Anima or Freebooter’s Fate. Anima has a vast array of stunning models to get and while Freebooter’s Fate does have some expensive models, they are very good and you need a handful to play at the default level.

We’ll have to see if anything new comes up this year in terms of the games we play, a decent skirmish game would get me excited though. Maybe we all need to save money and just start playing some Warmachine instead?

Internet, I Need Your Help

If there’s one thing you can count on the Internet for, it’s unsolicited opinions and advice. Therefore I am hoping that when I actually want people’s opinions and advice we’ll all be able to come together in a conflagration of self-enlightenment and personal growth. At least, that’s the theory.

I have already given Servitob a brief heads-up, he knows what I’ve been thinking but not necessarily how much I have been thinking on it and how it pertains to our gaming. This isn’t a massively serious topic in the grand scheme of things but still, I need to get things out there if only to clear my head and have the opportunity for angles I may not have considered.

As I’ve mentioned in a couple of posts over the course of running the blog I really do enjoy skirmish games. The awesome fun we had with Malifaux recently only brought that into sharper relief and the majority of the games we are currently playing fall into this type of gaming. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy 40k or Fantasy, sometimes it is good to have sprawling armies fighting it out and this was evidenced in our recent battle with the new Tyranids.

To put things in context I have also made the pledge not to play Warhammer Fantasy again until I have a fully painted army. This has so far caused me no stress other than I have yet to paint anything for that system this year, I’ve been focussed on other things. I am currently trying to get my Cult of December painted.

Due to the fact that I enjoy the Warmachine we’ve recently revived slightly and Firestorm Armada/Uncharted Seas plays so well and now Malifaux has come up I am looking at all the various models I have lying around my house and wondering what to do with them all? The skirmish games tend to play faster and more aggressively than those requiring a lot more models to play. With my incredibly slow painting style a game where I only need between 5 and 20 models seems like a real bonus in terms of getting painted models onto the tabletop too. Everything about these games gives them a resounding thumbs up for the way I like to play. Small numbers of models means that a game may only take an hour to play, this means we can get more games in during a day and generally also means that the games are cheaper to buy into as well.

So, my current dilemma is whether or not to sell up and get rid of all my Warhammer Fantasy and 40k stuff and then focus on the couple of smaller skirmish games I really like and making sure that I have fully painted forces for each of them. Should be much easier considering the total numbers of models I own for each of these systems is less than one full mob of Ork Boyz.

You might think the decision is obvious, everything fits the puzzle so far, but please bear with me while I present the counter-points.

I’ve already mentioned that we have some new gamers in our group, nBreaker is one of these. When we first started getting these guys in what we do we were playing Warhammer Fantasy, neither of them have played a game yet, nBreaker has some Dwarves and the other fellow has his hands on my old Warriors of Chaos. Servitob does not play Warhammer anymore and if I packed it all in as well I feel I’d be abandoning my friends. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the game, I do, it’s just that perhaps I’d be better off time, money and game wise by sticking to the smaller styles. I could just kick off playing Warhammer but then I’d be breaking my resolution to get stuff painted, even though none of it is on my desk at the moment as I try to prepare Malifaux for a proper demo game for those yet to see it.

Another point is that Servitob and Gribblin play and enjoy their 40k. I know that in the future it may well be that our new players also jump on board for this. If I got rid of my 40k stuff I’d be losing an opportunity to game with my best friends, guys I love and respect in a totally masculine and none gay way. I don’t want to lose out on that outlet, again I do enjoy the game immensely.

If I had my time all over again then I’d probably have stuck with the skirmish games. You could be playing 10 games with 10 models each rather than 1 game with 100 models as I love my gaming worlds and their background you can see why this is appealing. I want to have one force that I focus on for each of the games I love, this should help me restrict the often excessive spending that can come with this hobby and give some floor space back to my much beleaguered wife. I don’t want to be tempted by each new army book that comes out (waiting on Dark Eldar which I would sell all my current 40k stuff for if they do the models right). I am already looking at budgeting my wargaming quite harshly and I would really like to spend more time in Malifaux and Warmachine, but I don’t want to feel or look like abandoning the friends I have.

This was meant to be a short post but has ballooned quite horribly, so Internet I ask for your help! Please, comment and help a dude out.

How Do You Eat Yours – Part 2

I could probably do with pictures in this thread to illustrate the points I want to make, however, as I am currently going through a major painting project to be unleashed upon my gaming fraternity I don’t want to spoil the surprise for them. After all, seeing my with a fully painted army is likely to cause many of them to slip into a coma, or at least have some kind of seizure.

Today though, I’d like to follow-on from the army construction post with one about how you go about actually painting things. One of the problems I encounter is that I get easily distracted, normally I have a load of stuff on my painting area and therefore have no coherent plan for everything and skip back and forth between bits and pieces. Sometimes it has even gotten to the point where I have the whole army on the table and therefore never finish a unit but see the whole force in a state of non-completion. Therefore I have decided to clear my table of everything but that which I am currently painting, this is to focus my attention so that I can really force myself into finishing something.

Previously I have also built the entire army at the start so that I can then play with it too, this is probably not the best approach either, if I were to not assemble everything I may well be more into getting each unit/model painted before building and doing the next one. This is something I am keeping in mind for the future to facilitate me towards getting armies that are 100% painted.

However, none of that is what I actually wanted to get into debating today. What I really wanted to write about was the actual process whereby a model gets its colours. You may think that you just pick a part and apply some paint, you may have a favourite way of doing things but I’ll provide some options that I am aware that may help if you’re perpetually unsure about where to start once you’ve cleaned, assembled and undercoated your models (if you’re not undercoating your models before painting then may I strongly suggest you start, an undercoat provides a medium for the paint to adhere too, if you don’t perform this critical step you will find the paint will come off very easily once dry).

Inside Out

The first method I want to go through is the way that I am currently painting my models. The premise here is exactly the way it sounds, you start at the lowest level on detail on the model (usually the skin) and then work your way up. The major problem that can be encountered here is that one slip can ruin work already performed but provides a great way of building up decent shading through the separation of the layers of the model. If you are a fairly neat and competent painter you shouldn’t have any real issues using this method. It also allows you to touch up areas where you have gone astray as you will normally be working on the layer where natural run off will go as you paint.

Outside In

This is the opposite to Inside Out, you start off with the outermost layer and work down, I’ve never tried this method so cannot comment on it however again there is potential for you to muck up a completed layer as you strive for details, especially on things like faces.

Painting Metals First

This is actually combined with one of the previous methods (or one of your own) but involves getting all the metals done on a model, these are then varnished before starting on the rest of the model. If you have models with a large amount of metalwork (Knights or warjacks for instance) you might consider doing this method. Any overrun can be easily wiped off without destroying the metalwork already completed.

Ad-hoc Method

This is the method I’ve used to great failure in the past. Grab a model, paint some bits, move on etc… This has never really worked for me I have to admit, hence trying to move to a more structured method that may see some results. I wouldn’t really recommend anyone to use this method at all, without a proper plan there is little motivating you to get things finished.

That’s just a quick brief about the different ways in which you can go about getting paint on a model. Actually getting an army painted though is another matter. You’re going to need to plan out how you’re going to get each piece painted as well as things like colour schemes, basing schemes and the order in which you want to do things. As a part of this current project I am trying to do unit > character > unit > character in order to break up having to paint large batches of similar figures. Effectively rewarding myself with a single model after painting a unit of models. I am also trying to do a conga line whereby I do a coat of a certain part of one model before moving on and doing the same piece for another model of the same unit. I realise this isn’t going to work for single models but I am hoping that it’ll mean I can complete the units quicker than I otherwise could.

Having a plan like this is really crucial if you plan on finishing what you start. I really need a painted army at this point, nothing I have is really finished and for all the years I’ve been doing this I should have something to show for it. Hence my current push to try and get this done. Structuring the project is helping me to stay on track, although with Christmas rapidly approaching I can already see things slowing down a little while the inevitable family visits and shopping trips come along.

There you have it, a brief intro into how to go about painting things, I’d be interested in hearing comments about how anyone else goes about these things.

New Army Syndrome – The Condition Explained

Most veterans of the art we call “miniatures gaming” will no doubt be aware of, if not afflicted by the pathological condition that I henceforth call “New Army Syndrome” or NAS for short. I think that the greatest casualties of this virulent disease are those who grew up on the staple systems of the great gaming behemoth that is Nottingham’s finest, Games Workshop. From the selection of games that I am involved with, releases are staggered across all factions except for the Warhammer and 40k crowd. I’m not saying that this condition is therefore solely restricted to those involved with Games Workshop’s games, however I would hazard a guess that it is far more prevalent in that environment, our pathogen has found its ideal incubation zone.

For those of you who may be staring in bewilderment at the monitor wondering what it is that I am babbling on about let me give you the 6 Inch Move dictionary definition of the pandemic NAS.

New Army Syndrome

Due to the release schedule of the Games Workshop product every few months a new army book is released for one of the major systems produced by said company. At this point a person infected by NAS will feel an overwhelming compulsion to purchase the new book and, once read/glanced through, will be almost helpless to resist coming up with an army list and thinking seriously about collecting said army. In terminal cases the victim is an unwilling thrall destined to collect every single new army that comes out. He or She finds him/herself unable to control the impulses that drive them into kitting out a full army of the new release. Some severe cases have been reported where the infected has gone out during a lunch break, picked up an army book and has “woken up” from some sort of waking coma and realised their front room is packed full of plastic sprues looking suspiciously like this quarter’s flavour of Space Marines. These poor souls as well as having 6 million fantasy armies and 5 million 40k armies can also field the entire starting Legions of every single First and Second Founding Space Marine Chapters.

The real sadness arises from the fact (not that they have so many Space Marines) but that there is no known cure for this condition. Instead, long-suffering spouses/girlfriends find their houses consumed by a never-ending tide of gribbly alien horrors, scantily clad Elven maidens or Technicolor armoured supermen. Only the strongest willed of humankind can fight off the insidious disease and success at doing so varies year on year.

It is more than likely that someone you know, or someone you love is afflicted by this crippling illness. Hopefully, they haven’t entered the final stages of debilitation. If you have come across someone rocking themselves, huddled in a corner crying like a little girl that they’ll “never get it all painted” then I’m afraid you have found someone in these last agonising moments of self-realisation. This melancholy exists only until the next release however, and then their poor hypothalamus is forced to produce greater amounts of Endorphins giving them the dizzying high of collecting yet another 2000pts they’ll never get around to taking out the box.


Some may wonder if this unhealthy expertise with such a disease could only come from one who suffers from it themselves. I would however only class myself as a minor case. I do enjoy looking over the new releases, however, I am free of Space Marines, having only one army for 40k and Fantasy but I do cast an appraising eye over most of the new books that come out. I can hold my head up proudly though as there are a lot of books I do not own, ones that have passed me by without sucking me in and I am thankful for it.

So, the next time you see your other half standing there looking over a new army book, drag him/her away! Break their arm if you have to, they’ll thank you in the end! Remember, you may be living with a NAS sufferer, this is an illness to be understood not ridiculed, the infected will need your help and if you have just picked up a paintbrush or assembled your first model, chances are you may already be incubating this condition.


Armies Vs Skirmish

I’d like to thank Servitob for his last post as I believe it feeds nicely into what I want to discuss today. Being on the same kind of wavelength like this is why we are not generally allowed to form a team against our wives when they insist on playing boardgames of the non miniatures/wargaming variety. Although the link may be tenuous to others, it makes perfect sense in my head and follows on nicely. So, if you’re sitting comfortably, then we shall begin.

I first picked up tabletop gaming in the 80’s, although I’d put Space Crusade more in the board games category than true tabletop wargaming I did pick up 2nd Ed 40K when it released. Being a spotty teenager at the time things like sci fi universes filled with marauding aliens and fantasy stereotypes of half naked Elves were vastly appealing, hence the fact that I was aware of things like historical wargaming, but then, who wants to play an Imperialist French homunculus when there is the possibility of the aforementioned Elven ladies?

I have grown up alongside Games Workshop products and spent around 12 years loyally following their games, 40K, Warhammer, Man-o-War, Necromunda and I even bought Mordheim although I never got to play it. Although there have been alternate ways to play both of Games Workshop’s flagship products over the years things mainly revolve around the fact that ideally you play 40k with 1500pts of dudes and Fantasy with 2000pts of dudes. These are both army games and play as such with units designed for various roles and you play very much on a reasonable scale. Now, Necromunda is interesting because of what I want to compare in this post, it was a game that reduced the number of models and the scale of the battles you fought. The hives of Necromunda being a microcosm in the larger 40k universe and therefore, even though the core ruleset followed 40k conventions, there was a lot more depth to those rules. This was in the day when you had to have an A4 card on the table to list all the weapons and their individual rules and now you added Ammo rolls and reloads. Now I happen to believe that Necromunda was the greatest game that GW ever put out. I have an Escher gang at home (unpainted in the box) and the terrain from the first edition box set that I got off eBay.

Now, as I’ve gotten older and especially over the past 5 years there has been an explosion of serious competitors to the GW crown. As I mentioned that I was aware of other historical wargames, I did know of some other miniature games but nothing that was a really serious contender (in my mind at least) to the big daddy of the day. While I went through my gaming drought as I left school and went into the world of work I saw the odd piece here and there from other companies but still stuck with Warhammer as a main focus of my buying and painting. Once I found the start of my current gaming circle things started to change. I can’t remember how it happened but I came across a game called Warmachine and I was so impressed with the models that I bought a starter set for myself and my regular gaming buddy. We played some games and were very impressed and I’m looking forward to the finalised rules for Mk 2 when they hit the shelves next year. I also got into Confrontation with the release of Version 3 of the rules, although shortly after they went to 3.5 and within another short period they changed to pre-painted and effectively killed off an amazingly unique game with incredible models. Following on from that I’ve bought various pieces, I have a Pan Oceania force for Infinity that have never seen battle and the most recent additions are my Imperial and Bone Griffins fleets for the excellent Uncharted Seas, then yesterday my rulebook for Malifaux arrived and once stock is replenished I’ll be getting a Crew box.

So, what has changed? Well, when I first started out everything was to do with large armies fighting across vast landscapes, yet now, things have tended to come down to more of a skirmish style. There are still those games whereby you can collect huge forces to play but a lot of the newer games we are seeing require fewer models and correspondingly have a greater depth to their rules. Although with Warmachine/Hordes you can run forces that equal the size of a 40K force it’s not necessary in order to play and enjoy the game, Infinity requires a small number of figures similar to the starting size of Gangs in Necormunda (around 10). Uncharted Seas can very easily be played with the starter box you get and Malifaux is playable with 5 figures and again, this is what you get in a Crew starter box.

For me, I prefer these smaller scale skirmish games. The rules tend to be tighter and have more to them, not overly complicated in any instance (except for perhaps Confrontation, that had more special rules than a Tax manual) but meaty and interesting enough for me to be interested in the game. Although I do enjoy the grand scale of games like Warhammer and 40K I can attest that I would be happy playing the skirmish games more than the larger ones. This is a question that we asked as a gaming group to each other, we still need to formalise our schedule as we’ve been slipping on our trying to maintain at least 1 day a month given over to our hobby.

I think that I can also speak for the majority of gamers here that we tend to have more models than you can shake a stick at. Last year I sold a lot of what I had in order to consolidate what I owned. Not playing Confrontation anymore I sold all of my stuff there, I got rid of excess 40k and Warhammer armies to leave me with only that which I really wanted to play and vowed to keep these down. I got rid of my Khador for Warmachine to stick with Cryx and I have some Skorne models for Hordes (which I prefer to Warmachine in all honesty). I now have my Orks which are (for the most part) nicely packed away in a storage case, my Daemons which can be used for either 40k or Warhammer, mainly Warhammer at the moment as I prefer my Orks in 40K). I also have a Warriors of Chaos army for Warhammer that is most definitely NOT in any case and is spread around the house with no actual storage area dedicated to them. My Uncharted Seas stuff is new and has therefore not found a home either so even though I sold a lot of stuff and did make a saving in terms of the space taken up by my hobby, I still feel like I have too much.

Personally I would rather have 10 games needing 10 models each than having 1 game that took 100 models and in this arena we are now almost spoilt for choice. Spartan, the company behind Uncharted Seas are going to be releasing a sci-fi version and Malifaux, the new game from Wyrd has hit the shelves and sold out quickly and no-one was expecting a game from them, they just seemed to produce some excellent looking models.

Games Workshop originally set the gold standard but there are many lamentation across the Interwebs about how the company and their business has changed over the years and I don’t plan on going into those here. I am just offering my opinion that I am happier with skirmish games and the lower model count they require than the huge armies that are the GW forte. With such a market now, Games Workshop still dominates as it owns its own stores and they can be found in almost every high street, yet there are other companies now that are producing really good stuff that I find a lot more interesting than these larger battles and I know other people that feel the same.

While I can’t see me giving up my 40K and Warhammer gaming, it may be time to once more have a clean out of the cupboards and come up with a better plan of what we all play and what we want to play. Rather than spending a day fighting two games of a GW game, we might be able to fit in 4 or 5 of the smaller skirmish games. That big battle will still come up every now and again but I will get more satisfaction off variety and depth that these smaller games can bring.