Tag Archives: fantasy

Something to get your teeth in to


Warhammer: Vampire CountsIt’s been a little quiet here at 6 inch move recently.  Servitob has had an addition to his brood of future gamers, there is the usual chaos that accompanies the Christmas/New Year season and as for myself I’ve had to move an entire swimming pool/sports & leisure centre (and I’m telling you those things are heavy).  As a result our small band of gamers has had little time to get together and roll the dice.  This will be changing soon as life begins to settle down again.

This month saw the release of Warhammer Fantasy’s latest army book, the Vampire Counts.  Having bought an army of the undead when I was still a teenager this edition caught my attention.  I’ve always liked the dark, gothic imagery that has accompanied vampires in general and GW’s vampire counts in particular.  To me they are what a classic vampire should be; dark, sinister and above all blood thirsty.  No glittering skin here.  I’m almost impressed at the speed that GW has been turning out the army books for this edition of Fantasy.  Its been out about 2 years and they’ve produced 4 army books for it so far, along with the Storm of Magic supplement and several 40k codices.  Not to bad going.  It was good to see them do the Ogres, Tomb Kings and Orcs early on as all of these army books needed serious updates.  I just wish they’d hurry up and do the Wood Elves (they’re my favourite Fantasy army, I have about 6000 points, but their current army book is two editions out of date and a bit naff).  Still can’t complain, I have new vampires to play with.

So whats new to this edition of the dark lords of undeath? Well the book itself follows GW’s latest trend of full colour, hard back with a £25 price tag.  The book is nicely edited and of good quality, and if you’ve looked around a bookshop recently, it’s not too over priced for a colour hard back.  Saying that though, gone are the days when I’d buy every army book as it came out.  Now I’m restricting myself to getting the armies that I actually own, or are seriously considering purchasing.

The army has seen the return of a few old favourites.  The option of a Lord level Necromancer is back, as are the special characters Lichemaster Heinrich Kemmler and Krell.  Necromancers can again be made better wizards than in the last edition and once again Wraiths can be taken as Hero choices.  There have been some new additions to the ranks of the dead.  The Strigoi Ghoul King is a Lord choice that is basically a hate filled Strigoi vampire, who has weaker magical abilities than regular Vampire Lords, but more than makes up for it in close combat kick-ass potential.  The vampire characters all have a new special rule called The Hunger.  Basically whenever they kill one or more models in close combat you roll 1D6, and on a 6 the vampire regains a lost wound.  Nice.

The other new units include the Crypt Horrors (basically ogre sizes ghouls), the nice looking Vargheists (psychotic, bestial vampires in bat form), the Terrorgheist (a dragon-sized, undead bat with one hell of a scream), the Coven Thrown, the Mortis Engine and the Hexwraiths.

The Coven Thrown and the Mortis Engine are both made form the same kit.  I’ve been really impressed by the large, plastic models that GW has been producing for Fantasy.  For me the kind of symbolize a fantasy genre; you have epic heroes, magic throwing wizards and large, scary monsters

Vampire Counts Coven Throne / Mortis Engineand although GW can sometimes go OTT on the heroes and magic, the latest round of monster kits are fantastic.  In game terms both the Thrown and the Engine count as chariots being pulled by a spirit host that grants both units ethereal movement.  The Coven Thrown is a mount for Vampire characters, and comes with a pair of vampiric handmaidens to attend to their lord.  It has a 4+ ward save and nice little special rule called Battle of Wills that could result in an enemy unit turning on itself.  The Mortis Engine is a rare choice and has Regeneration, a Banshee swarm and a Reliquary that hurts the enemy and heals the undead and becomes more powerful the longer it stays on the table.  Both builds look good, but personally I prefer the look of the Mortis Engine.  It has the look of a gothic pipe organ and I love the swirling banshees.

Vampire Counts Black Knights / HexwraithsAnd finally we get to the Hexwraiths.  The rules for them are cool.  They’re ethereal, fast cavalry that can move through units, hurting the enemy as they go.  Their attacks are flaming and ignore armour saves, and their background as agents of death itself, sent to hunt down those who have cheated death is cool.  The models are OK.  They’re made from the same kit as the new black knights.  They’re not bad looking models, my only problem with them is that I don’t think that they do the concept art from army book justice.  Have a look below and you’ll know what I mean.

Now is it just me, or is that piece of artwork cool.  It really captures the terror and ethereal aspect of these creatures.  They are the stuff of nightmares and this picture shows that.  Like said, nice models but I’m not sure if they really bring out that same fear factor.

And now for the other stuff.  The magic Lore of Vampires has changed slightly.  All of your old favourites are there; Curse of Years, Vanhel’s Dance etc. but there are a few subtle changes.  The signature spell is Invocation of Nehek, but this time instead of targeting a single friendly unit, it targets ALL friendly undead units within 6″ (or 12″ or 18″ if you want to increase the casting value).  All friendly units regain D6+caster’s magic level worth of wounds, unless the unit is Vampiric, Ethereal or a Large Target, which only regain 1 wound per casting.  Characters and their mounts do NOT regain wounds from the casting of this spell.  The only way they can get wounds back is from the Lore Attribute; each time a spell is successfully cast from the Lore of Vampires the wizard, or a friendly model within 12″ regains a wound.  Unless the unit is zombies (or you have bought the appropriate upgrade) you cannot increase a unit beyond its starting size.  The Raise Dead spell can be used to create new units of skeletons once more, but you do have to increase the casting value.  Oh and in case you ever get tired of raising the dead you now have access to the Lores of Death and Shadow.

One of the cool things about the Vampires is that you can customize your lords of undeath.  You can still do this, though the list is a little smaller than in the previous edition.  This I feel is no great loss as several of the Vampiric Powers are now included as standard upgrades (such as armour and weapon upgrades).  The one I am going to miss is no more ethereal vampires.  Oh well, can’t have everything.  The list of magic items has been reduced to 9 as is the standard for the newer army books.  Frostblade has gone, but watch out for Skabscrath is all I’m saying.  As for the death of the general?  Well its still not a good thing.  Your general has to be a wizard with the Lore of Vampires, and if he/she is killed then all of your non-vampiric units have to take a leadership test at the end of the phase.  The difference this time is that if you have another wizard with the Lore of Vampires in your army then he/she takes over and the army doesn’t take anymore leadership test.  This is repeated if that character is killed and so on.

All in all I’m impressed with the new release.  They’ve added a few, nice looking units and made some minor rules changes to existing ones.  They’ve re-done the Black Knights, which is about time, as they seriously needed it.  What would I like to have seen?  I know it’s called the Vampire COUNTS, and therefore focuses upon the von Carsteins, but what happened to the other special characters such as Neferata and Walach. Harkon.  The zombies could also do with re-modelling, and I really wish they’d done a new Black Coach, rather than just making it a Finecast model.  It is however nice to see an army that has all of its units available rather than GW’s usual trick of not releasing half of the army list.  It looks like I may be dusting off the coffins that contain my undead models and giving them a new lease of . . . life.

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GW: The Company I Love to Hate or Hate to Love…. I’m Not Sure


Just a couple of things this morning from the opening salvo of 2012. Firstly I bought this month’s White Dwarf, it’s got a lot of stuff for the latest Warhammer Fantasy release the “Vampire Counts” in it. They’re an army that has appealed to me right from day one, I’ve never gotten around to the army though, but I have come close a few times. I had a little chuckle to myself when after the Editorial and contents page there was a double spread advert for Dreadfleet. I’ll not go into that here, I am sure all regular readers are more than aware of my feelings for the game, the picture at the start of this thread should suffice if you’re in the dark.

In other news I doubt many people will have heard about the leaked 6th edition rules, or what are rumoured to be 6th edition. After all the furore when this document first hit the Intertubes there has been a lot of sudden declarations of it being a fake, despite what would seem to be considerable evidence to the contrary. I’ve seen the rules myself and had a quick scan through and, personally, I’d be happy for 40k to develop this way. A lot of the problems with 5th edition have gone and it does seem to change-up the meta-game. Now, there are things I don’t like but overall I see enough positives here for this to be a good change for 40k.

Going back to that White Dwarf I purchased (taking the number of White Dwarfs I’ve bought over the past ten years up to needing two hands to count) it also alludes to this being the 25th anniversary year for Warhammer 40,000. I’m going to be very interested to see what overpriced tat the Sherriff tries to hawk onto us so that we can “share” in the celebration of this momentous event. I’m going to go with a generic hot beverage container costing upwards of a decent night out with one’s significant other. I can tell you now which I’d prefer and which one is much more likely. I think I might have the steak!

I’m certainly looking forward to this years releases. I’m impressed with the speed at which Fantasy armies are coming out. I’m sure Gribblin will be wanting to throw down soon with the new Vampires and we should also have a pretty interesting project kicking off here towards the end of the first quarter! Stay tuned for that. I also imagine we’ll be getting at least one Space Marine Codex this year. Black Templars are on the rumour mill and a new edition of 40k means that the generic Marine codex will need to be updated pretty quickly thereafter to make sure they don’t have to abide by any of the rules in the new book. Can’t have them behaving like all the other armies can we?

I’ll be keeping an eye on Mantic to see how Warpath and Kings of War develop. I’d certainly be interested more in their games once the product lines are a fully viable contender to the GW crown. I know that both my wallet and, perhaps more importantly, my wife would be appreciative of a reduction in the cost of my hobby..

ZombiePirate’s Ogre Kingdoms Review – 8th Edition


Welcome one and all. Last night I took full advantage of my wife being out and Gribblin and I threw down for another game of Warhammer Fantasy. Now, regular viewers may remember from way back when I chose High Elves as the army I was going to be doing. Unsurprisingly for one as fickle as I am that changed on a whim and rather than hordes of Always Strikes First ridiculousness I went with something way out of left field, the much maligned Ogre Kingdoms.

Ogres have had a bit of a rough ride in Fantasy. When they were first released way back in 6th edition they were decried, not only because they were perceived as a bit rubbish due to their MSU build philosophy but also because Wood Elves were due an update and had to wait even longer to get a new book. At the point in time the Ogres arrived I had been waiting for Wood Elf models that didn’t make my eyes bleed as they were an army I’d always liked the background for, Gribblin put paid to that though as a long time Woodies player and having an army, if I had picked up the hippy elves I believe we’d have had some very boring games over the years.

For me, picking Ogres was about challenging myself, sure they are better than they have ever been, but it’s a bit like saying a turd is better than it has ever been if you give it a wallet full of cash. It’s still a turd after all, even if in monetary terms it is the king of turds. This would also give me an army that would have a low model count, something I can do something with and have a chance of painting someday. Hey, a fella can dream can’t he?

So it was that I built an army and last night it had its second outing against the tweaked Lizardmen fielded by Gribblin. My list was unchanged from the last time we played and we are fighting at the 3000pts level, so we both expect plenty of nastiness on both sides. It was a fun game and the initiative was definitely with the Lizards for the first couple of turns, however, an interesting charge declaration in the bottom of turn two set me up to ROFLstomp my way through his lines in the following turns. I had to sacrifice a unit of Ogres really to do it but in the end it worked out. We were playing the Blood and Glory scenario and I broke the Lizardmen on turn 5 with the death of the Slaan and his unit.

Rather than a play by play (my poor memory is not good for writing battle reports) I thought I’d run through the same format as I did with my War of the Ring choices, a breakdown of the items in my list and their performance to date, OK it’s only two games but I am starting to get a feel for things and how they play. Now might be the time to start looking at tweaks.I think I’m on borrowed time before I get creamed by the Lizardmen or he brings out the Vampires.

Lords

Tyrant – Mawseeker, Fencers Blades, Greyback Pelt, Wyrdstone Necklace, 2 Sword Gnoblars, Luck Gnoblar.

This guy is nuts! Yes, he is expensive, yes he suffers from Stupidity, but a re-rollable Ld9 is not too much to worry about I feel. Unbuffed he is WS10, T6 with 6 attacks at S5 at 2 more attacks at S2. At best you hit him in combat on a 5. He is designed to challenge and get overkill and he easily makes back his points. So far he has a Slann, an Ancient Stegadon, a Skink Chief and some change, not bad from only two games. When fully buffed from a Butcher this guy is even crazier. I may look at what I want him to do and play with some different items but I really enjoy using this guy, he is blunt force trauma in the truest sense of the word, completely unsubtle but then, he’s an Ogre so why not.

Slaughtermaster – Talisman of Preservation, Blood Cleaver

Mandatory level 4 spellcaster. Sure, the Gut Magic Lore isn’t exactly the best in the game but it does have its benefits. Stackable buffs that can take Ogres over the top in terms of their hitting power and overall survivability. In an army with next to no armour getting the right few buffs off and keeping them up is a strategy in and of itself. The Blood Cleaver is a nice little tool that allows him to reclaim wounds he will inevitably suffer at the hands of his own casting. The Miscast table for Gut Magic is pretty brutal but I rolled on it for the first time last night and he just ended up with Frenzy, result!

I wouldn’t leave home without him at this points levels, single dice casting is alive and well and on a decent Winds of Magic roll I’ll typically end up with dice left over to dispel anything that my enemy has and as that enemy is a Slann there is generally something around.

Heroes

Bruiser – BSB, Heavy Armour, Talisman of Protection, Great Skull

Again a mandatory choice in any army is now a Battle Standard. The Re-rolls to leadership test is too valuable to give up especially with a low Ld army like Ogres. This fellow doesn’t do a whole lot other than hide in his unit, he has a basic ward save and so far the Great Skull hasn’t done a thing, probably a good thing considering the Slaan can throw miscasts at me. I’m likely to drop this item and use the points elsewhere. He doesn’t really have a job to do but does lend his attacks to a fight while he cowers in the second rank doing re-rolls. No matter the points level this chap would be one of the first things I put into the list.

Butcher – Dispel Scroll

Backup to the Slaughtermaster, carries a scroll for when I really need to stop a spell that didn’t get IF, provides another avenue for buffing the Ogres and can also single dice cast before letting his more experienced compatriot get on with things. It would be possible to drop this chap but I think that would leave too big a hole in my buffing prowess trying to cover all the Ogre units.

Core

6 Ogre Bulls – Standard and Musician

You have to take a single unit of Bulls, in this edition they got better due to Stomp and Monstrous Infantry. They can’t be Killing Blowed and some of the big spells won’t work on them. Giving them proper ranks also helps no end. They still suffer from low Initiative, low Weapon Skill and lack of armour but the can absorb a lot of punishment with Gut Magic around. These guys can do some damage but are mainly a flank protection unit for the others, they are small enough to be able to manoeuver around things but big enough to provide a threat in combat. I am happy to sacrifice these guys to achieve goals with the other Ogres.

9 Ogre Bulls – Standard and Musician

This is the second main combat unit, two ranks and generally the hiding place of the Butcher. They can get buffed and are likely to make it into combat with a large number of attacks, it takes a concerted effort to shift them although last night an Oldblood with Blade of Realities shows just how easy it can be to get rid of a 300pts+ unit when you take a 300pts character  with a 75pt magic weapon against someone who generally can’t pass a Leadership test to save his life (and being out of range of the BSB didn’t help). I do like this unit as it’s pretty beefy, although I could combine the two units and go for a Bull Horde, I am just wary of the fact I’d have all my eggs in one basket and one IF Purple Sun could potentially then remove me from the game.

7 Ironguts – Standard with Rune Maw and Musician

I LOVE THIS UNIT!!!! This is the core of my offensive line, if you’re a character and not the Butcher you go in this unit. I know, it’s a Death Star but that is the way to play Ogres and have any perceivable chance of winning. I deploy them 4 wide therefore giving two Ironguts a chance to attack alongside my Slaughtermaster and Tyrant. I’m happy to take challenges on either one of those guys really although the Tyrant is built for it. The Great Weapons are really not a hindrance on a unit that has low I anyway but between all the impact hits they do, the stomps and the huge number of high strength attacks they can roll they wreck things. Last night they went into the Slann and Temple Guard unit, two rounds of combat later and the Slann legged it and was run down, he only had a single wound left after the entire unit of Temple Guard got clubbed to death, I lost 1 Irongut…

The unit totals (with characters) over one-third of my total army cost but it is well worth it to see them rampage across the battlefield. I’ve not yet used the Rune Maw due to nothing offensive being cast their way but I’m going to keep it as I think that may change.

40 Gnoblars

Nothing much to say here, 5*8 for steadfast they are a giant roadblock and sit on the flank of the Ironguts, they die in droves to anything half decent but if kept close to the Tyrant’s unit (if they don’t bicker) they provide a valuable disruption unit and ablative wounds for the Rune Maw, at 80pts they are ridiculously cheap for what they bring to the table and if they don’t all die to a man or flee from the table it’s a bonus.

8 Gnoblar Trappers

These guys buy me a second Scraplauncher and the models are ace. However, they have done nothing in either game, they have just died although they have taken a cavalry unit out of the game for a few turns which is not bad for a unit costing less than 50pts. I’m waiting for them to wow me but they’re Gnoblars so I’m not expecting it anytime soon. Scouts is good but when you can’t setup out of line of sight in a wood somewhere or something they lose some of their effectiveness. They are still funny though.

Special

2 Scraplaunchers

Interesting units these guys, they are a chariot with a stone thrower on it. A Large Template Killing Blow stone thrower. They’ve not really killed a lot so far. They have been lobbing templates with impunity and last night they shot every turn but only rolled one Hit. They are horrific models to assemble but if I were to drop them I struggle to see what I could add in their place other than more Ogres, not necessarily a bad thing, maybe I just need to start rolling average for scatters and Leadership tests and my mileage with things may change.

2 Leadbelchers

Small and annoying, hilarious when an opponent doesn’t know too much about them and they choose to Stand and Shoot. They haven’t managed to blow themselves up yet and I can consider adding a second unit like this to sit on a flank and being annoying. I like them.

Rare

2 Gorgers – My Warmachine and Lone Character hunters. I like them, they are a little uncontrollable and I sent them against the wrong unit in last night’s game but they will always feature in my list as appearing in the back field of an opponent is something they need to plan for and worry about.

2 Giants – Both got mullered in the first game, second game one survived to the end. I use them as a tag team on a flank and I think they are doing their job well. They attract a lot of fire and all those poison shots are not going against my Ogres which is a good thing. Using two is definitely a good thing as otherwise it would be too little of a distraction, one turn of shooting generally sees it off. They are a threat which you need to deal with, I like the threat saturation approach.

Overall I’ve been very pleased with how my Ogres perform. I’m remembering all of their rules now which is a good thing and they’ve done me proud against one of the current top-tier armies. Gribblin is tweaking his army still and last night’s game was a lot tougher than the one before as it had a lot more Ogre killing potential than its predecessor, I don’t see that changing and I need someway to destroy that Oldblood with Blade of Realities, avoiding the unit he is in also sounds easier than it will be to pull off.

I might change some items around and still need to make up my mind on the Scrappies, I am sure they will have one game where they don’t miss and I just have to endure until then.

 

 

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!

Asking the Big Questions; Metal Vs Plastic


Believe it or not, there is a universal topic that can divide gamers. It’s rare to find anyone that straddles both camps, normally feet are planted firmly in one ideology or the other. There are two main options and while others do exist the majority held by the first two camps dismiss any others into obscurity so that they are rarely, if ever, considered a part of the argument. What can this argument be? And how does it relate to the seemingly random image posted at the start of yet another diatribe from your favourite undead buccaneer?

The models that we play our games with generally come in one of two flavours, metal or plastic. Historically our metals were made out of lead but due to namby pamby european sensibilities new alloys are used in many cases. Plastic comes in many forms and formulas, from the hard resin style favoured by Privateer Press to the “normal” plastics we love from our friendly northern Sherriff.

When I first thrust myself into the fantastical worlds of our hobby it was metal models that dominated everything, plastics were virtually unheard of except for vehicles and some larger boxed sets. The boxed editions of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 introduced more mainstream plastic lines and (in GW’s case) the propensity towards plastic models has increased. While there are still plenty of metal models around no longer do you have to play a game where you carry a metric ton and a half to each game. Games Workshop have led the way with this and now we see such offers as Kings of War from Mantic being entirely plastic, Privateer have recently released their ‘Jack kits in plastic with troops and starter sets also having ditched the metals.

Plastic sets on the whole tend to cost less than their metal counterparts although the dastardly Sherriff is doing his best to rectify this with the oft maligned, inflation-busting price increases for which the Nottinghamshire-based villain is renowned. Yet, there are die-hard fans of metal models, I know first-hand from the older Confrontation community (before all this pre-painted rubbish) that the fact the models were metal was one of the great selling points for their range. The fact the models were fantastic also helped. Therefore the metal vs plastic debate tends to polarise the gaming community while supporters of one stick vehemently to their medium and vice-versa.

For example, esteemed writer and Space Marine suicide machine Servitob is a lover of all things plastic (quote not to be used out of context!). Show him a metal model and normally he goes a funny shade of green! I myself have tried to remain neutral in this fight, I’ve appreciated some metal models for a long time but the simplicity of plastics is a great boon when you’re putting together hordes of figures. However, I have now chosen a side due to an experience I had recently when assembling my Warhammer army. I don’t want to ruin the surprise of what is included in my Fantasy force I’m hoping to break out this weekend (only one model left to build!) therefore I’m going to leave some of my details deliberately vague.

Sunday afternoon/evening while enjoying watching the NFL coverage on Sky I gave myself the task of assembling all the metal models I needed for my army. These tend to take more time and effort than the plastics due to the difference in their construction medium. Some of the models I have in my collection are renowned as being particularly difficult to assemble due to small contact areas and fiddly parts. With plastic this is not an issue, slap on some liquid poly and the glue melts the two halves together and forms a solid, nigh-unbreakable bond. Superglue by comparison however, seems to buy the two parts a drink and then involve itself in an overly elaborate scheme to get the two parts to hit it off, perhaps over a romantic dinner at an expensive restaurant, walks on the seafront and romantic getaways for far off exotic lands. Eventually getting the happy couple to tie the figurative knot and bind themselves in a blissful union until someone bangs the table and they fall helpless to the floor.

Anyone that has put together a metal model will have their own set of horror stories to share regarding some fiddly part or another, a sadists idea of how a model should be split up for assembly causing almost suicidal thoughts from even the most expert modeller as the horrible maelstrom of metal, green stuff and superglue combines into what you hope is the way in which the model is supposed to look. It’s a bonus if you manage to avoid gluing any body parts in these situations!

By comparison plastic is a joy! No matter how small the part a dab of glue can hold it in position for centuries, even the death-dive floorward will not faze a bonding area smaller than a flea’s testicle. Luckily the majority of my Fantasy army is plastic, the same is true of my impending Dark Eldar. While the odd metal model here and there is almost inevitable (I have a lot of them coming up for War of the Ring) the joy of plastic really does stand in stark comparison to the sometimes brain-addling, super-human efforts required to get metal to stick to metal.

In many ways a plastic model these days is almost indistinguishable from their metal counterparts once painted. See below;

"The spikes tell you I is metal!"
Plastic fantastic! And no loss of detail.

I know some people prefer the weight of a metal model as it is harder for them to topple over but once they do go over you are going to at least bend that spindly part or even worse, see it plunge in slow-motion towards a spirit crushing impact on even the most soft of cushioned carpets. Unless of course you add even more metal than a road traffic accident victim in terms of pinning the living crap out of it.

Plastic provides many more benefits, with current modelling processes they can be as detailed as metal and are a lot easier to clean, trim and assemble. The great strides that have been made in this regard contributes to the increasing frequency of plastic models and I for one am grateful for this. I cannot think of a plastic model that has ever frustrated me as much as some of my metals have. I’m an almost 20 year veteran so would like to think I am pretty experienced in assembling these things by now and after all this time I can firmly place myself in the camp that unashamedly declares;

“Plastic is better!”

Warhammer 8th Edition – Exploration of Magic Items


Not only have we (very) recently witnessed the shattering of Azeroth and the changing of a world but a mere handful of months ago probably the biggest Fantasy tabletop game in the world underwent its latest major revision. There were a lot of changes made to the rules and, as with any set of changes, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth at the same time as some people were a little less dramatic about the state of their beloved game.

There were a lot of changes made, not least of all the increase in the number of pages in rulebook! Army building was changed with the new percentage system, meaning that in many cases the options for including Lords and Heroes increased. While the Internet was decrying this change when it was rumoured I don’t think it has turned out all too bad. With the increased number of magic items in the rulebook the ways in which you can kit out your heroes has also increased and I welcome this. Many of the magic items fill gaps that are present in some Armies books and while some of the magic items in those books became redundant with the new rules there are also some that became a lot better for their points!

Therefore I thought that for today’s post we’d leave behind the current spate of World of Warcraft posts and dive back into tabletop. As my own table is currently saturated with Warhammer figures, as a break from the painting and construction of my Fallen Realms (although I’ll need to build more ready for our next game), then perhaps we should take a walk through the different options there are for kitting out the bad asses that lead our armies to conquer our foes.

As with any unit that is added into an army roster, each character should have a role in mind. This should be something greater than just providing the Leadership bubble for being a General. While improving the leadership of the basic troops shouldn’t be underestimated in helping the rank and file to stick around in a tight spot, it should not be the sole purpose of a character that often has far more utility than a normal GI.

In any army list there are generally two options for Lords or Heroes, these are the Mage and the Warrior. While there are variations of these within lists these archetypes hold true for the vast majority of Armies books. If a character has a magic level it should be relatively obvious that the character is a Mage, these chaps are not generally much use in a fight, there are exceptions to this such as Vampires (of the non-sparkly kind), Ogre Butchers and Wizards of Chaos springing immediately to mind. There are also characters that blur the lines somewhat such as Tomb Kings and Princes, primarily combat characters that have a smattering of magic and of course items such as the Wizarding Hat that, while taking up your entire magic items allowance for a Lord, can give a surprise to an opponent.

As Wizards tend to have a defined role based upon their magic abilities and what spell lore you pick I’m going to focus my time on the more combat oriented characters. While Magic can and will win you games under 8th edition, if you are anything like me, nothing is as satisfying as a tooled up combat lord going all bat-poop crazy and smashing in faces. Many are the tales of titanic clashes between Lords as Gribblin and I have squared off to see who manages to get that killing blow (sometimes literally).

In the spirit of assigning roles to characters there are probably 3 main roles that spring to mind; number one, character or mage hunting, number two, cutting down troops and number three, monster or war machine hunting. Certain races characters can obviously cater more or less to any of these specialities and the diversity in Armies books changes where you might look for those roles to be filled. The Magic Items available in each list can also have an impact however, for the purpose of this investigation we are going to look purely at the BRB as these generic items are available to everyone other than those dirty, dirty Daemons and the diminutive Dwarfs.

Within any of these roles there are degrees of course, do you go all out offense, balanced defence or unkillable? Each of these options have merit and some may be better suited towards specific roles than others. How good the characters are at these roles will also be dictated somewhat by the race of those characters. A Human Elector Count is not as beefy in combat as a Vampire or Chaos Lord for example, but is also dramatically cheaper.

Let’s have a look at some items then. An offensive combat lord may likely take some items from his own list to improve his efficiency but the BRB itself has some pretty tasty items. The sharp end of combat is going to be in the weapons category, an all out offensive Lord is probably going to forgo the choice of armour or a ward save because he’s probably going to live in a unit where his armour is the warm bodies around him.

The Giant Blade can be a nasty surprise when going up against a poncy Elf with a fancy hairdo, however, 60pts for only one more strength than a Great Weapon might not be worth it. Sure you wouldn’t be striking last and your attacks are magical but you pay through the nose for it. Perhaps you’d be better off with a Potion of Strength for far fewer points to win that important combat.

Sword of Bloodshed isn’t too bad, if your Lord has a high WS anyway the extra attack are more likely to hit, more hits equals more chances to wound which improves your chances of crumping whatever it is you are fighting against. The Obsidian Blade doesn’t seem worth it but the Ogre Blade gets around the major problems of the Great Weapon (Always Strike’s Last) and is much cheaper than the Giant Blade. A High Elf with this would be a combat monster, with high WS, ASF and +2 Strength, could surprise someone who isn’t expecting it for an easy to swallow points investment. The Sword of Strife is the junior to the Sword of Bloodshed, slightly smaller effect for a cheaper points cost so can go on a Hero rather than a Lord or leave more room on a Lord for other goodies.

Fencer’s Blades provide an extra attack for being paired and certainly make the enemy easier to hit, however, I would think this item more balanced between offense and defence as while you hit more easily you are also more difficult to hit, the extra attack is the only real bonus here and therefore on a strictly offensive character killing build you’re probably going to go for something with a little more oopmh! Sword of Anti-Heroes would seem to fit out offensive character killer to a tee, yet, while this may be the primary role for our Lord we also need to consider how much use he is going to get out of his equipment. If there are no characters in a combat we are involved in you can still pick out unit champions but then you’re wasting the bonuses of this sword going for overkill or even being stuck taking out rank and file. The Spellthieving Sword should be left at home, considering a combat Lord will likely kill a Mage in one or two swings (and they generally can’t cast magic against you whilst in combat) robbing them of spells seems like a waste of points for your combat monster.

Sword of Swiftslaying provides one of the most useful special rules and a character with decent Initiative benefits even further from those handy re-rolls. If you have a character with a decent base strength (or one that is buffed from spells) this really comes into its own, especially in challenges which is where I’d imagine you’d be making the most use of your uber-character killer. Really the only other weapon worth a mention considering what we are tasking the Lord with doing and thinking of possibilities for weapons from a races own lists is the Gold Sigil Sword. Low Initiative races benefit greatly from this, not least for the surprise factor of striking before a generally faster opponent (usually an Elf).

To prevent this becoming an absolute behemoth of a post I’ll split it up, we can look at the other magic items options in another post, so, stay tuned for a further examination of the BRB items.

ZombiePirate Announces His Retirement…


… from Warhammer Fantasy and 40k.

Yeah! This might take some explaining.

I have been involved with gaming for almost 20 years, ever since the day my Dad and I I first stepped into GW Dudley and bought me my first Space Marine Captain. I saw second edition 40k arrive and although I didn’t touch Fantasy for many years I remember the High Elves Vs Goblins box set as the current edition when I was little. Over the years games have come and gone, and as all long time (proper) hobbyists know this is never just a hobby, it is an obsession. Speak to any gamer and the norm is to recount each other with tales of swathes of metal and plastic models hidden in almost every available nook and cranny numbering similarly to Xerxes’ crusading Persians in the 5th Century BC.

I can attest to this as I’ve bought far more models than was ever possible for me to paint or even play, I am a sucker for a good-looking model though, it’s the artist in me, that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it. The rather sensationalist headline to this post is not something that has come idly on a whim however. Various other denizens of the floating citadel can attest that I have voiced this particular idea before it is just now, after a long and hard thought out plan of what I want from my gaming future that this decision has been reached. I’ve looked at my model count, looked at what we as a group are playing, and then made a decision. This may come as a shock, considering that 8th edition of Fantasy has come out and we reviewed it rather favourably, I also have 3000pts of models for it too. Not only that but the Dark Eldar are on the horizon, being released next month, an army that I have been waiting an awful long time for to come of age. It’s an awful long time since we last had a game of 40k and I can’t see Warhammer being much of a goer with War of the Ring now making appearances on our gaming tables.

I am therefore pledged to sell off my 40k and Fantasy stuff, I’ve already got rid of quite a bit and have a swelling Paypal account to prove it. I’m sticking with War of the Ring, it’s a very good game, is less prone to arguments over rules and gives me my army level fix from a universe that I enjoy a lot. I really like to models and the simplicity, the fact it is inspiring me to keep painting is another plus point. Malifaux is staying too, we haven’t had chance to throw down recently and I need to assemble my Collette box but it provides a different experience to the other games we have so I am sticking with it, the fact it needs only a handful of models is another bonus. Firestorm Armada gets a lot of regular play and we are starting to properly expand the fleets we use. I need to assemble some ships to get me ready for our 750pt games but this is also staying on my play list. We then also have Warmachine. Everyone in our play group has at least some Warmachine stuff and I know generally people like it. I’ll therefore be adding a little to my Retribution force to hit 35pts, enough for a proper game, I think I need to buy one more boxset and a couple of blisters to be done, £30 tops I think. That will then constitute the capacity of my regular gaming along with Space Hulk of the board and card variety. D&D will continue and having a reduced number of models to paint now I should also be able to spend more time writing campaign adventures.

In order to compare what’s changing, here is a list of games systems I currently have models for;

  • Warhammer Fantasy – 3000pts one army plus various other models
  • Warhammer 40k – over 4500pts from two armies
  • Uncharted Seas – 2 Fleets
  • Necromunda – Original Escher boxset (still boxed) with additional Heavy Plasma Heavy
  • Firestorm Armada – Can probably do almost 1000pts of Dindrenzi
  • Warmachine – Not a lot these days, but working towards that 35pts of Retribution
  • War of the Ring – Almost 1500pts from the Fallen Realms list
  • Malifaux – Ressurectionists and Arcanists forces

Those are the major systems that I have stuff for. I’ve already started selling the 40k stuff, still plenty of other stuff to shift. Once I’m done I’m hoping the results will be me having stuff for;

  • Firestorm Armada
  • Warmachine
  • War of the Ring
  • Malifaux

Much less gaming real estate and still a good variety of games from skirmish to army level. This feels like a good move to me and I’m waiting for the Sherriff to cancel the pre-order I chucked up for the Dark Eldar. With fewer games I reckon not only will I be able to get to play them all but there is also a universe-ending chance that I may end up with it all painted…

I wonder if retiring from those games qualifies me for some kind of pension?