Tag Archives: Miniatures

Games Day Miniature 2010 Revealed


Games Workshop have released details of this year’s Games Day miniature. This is a “freebie” they throw in with your tickets, although as the tickets cost £4billion each I hardly class it as free. These things normally end up on eBay with someone asking way over the odds for them. Personally I’ve never been to the GW ultimate geek-day as it clashes with other things, but, here we have a pic of the 2010 Games Day Chaos Sorceror for your viewing pleasure. I think it’s quite good.

 

Slow News Day


In what may be classed a “slow news day”, or, “I have things to post but don’t have the time to do it at the moment” er… day I thought I’d just make a quick note that people probably already know all about. Current 6 Inch Move favourite Uncharted Seas has a new cousin. Spartan Games have released information about their latest release, the futuristic Firestorm Armada. As I haven’t seen the core rules I’ll hold back from calling this Uncharted Seas in space, yet I can imagine that there are probably going to be a lot of similarities between the game as the rules set for the naval battles we are using are pretty solid.

There are a decent number of races to play and they will be releasing each in a starter box as per US, keep an eye on their website as they will be updating it with piccies and information regarding the new game. I know that some people have been waiting with bated breath for this to finally hit the shelves. Even with the love for US that we have in our gaming circles at the moment I don’t think we’ll be seeing this added to our list of games, we’ve really got enough on our plates before throwing in extra things.

In other new, Wyrd, the company behind global phenomenon Malifaux have updated their website, not to the pleasing of some of their customers judging by threads on their forums. Check it out if you want though, it’s certainly different to the way it was before.

Tutorials in Gaming – Glue


Hopefully the “Conventions in Gaming” posts have provided some insight and maybe even a new perspective into just why it is we take for granted certain aspects of our hobby (I’ll admit the Army List one was a little ropey). In order to break from that series and hopefully provide something a little fresh and new I thought I’d kick off a series regarding the more basic aspects of our hobby. Lots of places discuss the hobby but some people really would like a tutorial on how to go about doing certain things, hence this will be the first in a series of How-to articles that will hopefully educate. Any feedback is of course gladly received, we are all still learning after all.

To break the ice I want to take a look at a few fundamentals first, today’s post therefore will be looking very much into one of the first tools you’ll need to use when venturing into the miniatures gaming hobby. Glue.

Now, I could start with taking a model and cleaning it up ready for assembly, but for some reason I feel like I want to discuss this item first before going on to cleaning models and the tools you use there. So, it’s my blog and I’ll blog what I want to, sit down, pull up a chair and get ready for some sticky action.

Sticking Points

You might think that glue is rather mundane and certainly not worth dedicating an entire blog post too, well, in my book you’d be wrong. Things aren’t just as simple as picking up a pot of whatever is lying around and trying to bodge things together (try sticking together a Chaos Greater Daemon with a tube of Pritt-Stik.) There are many more options than you may even have heard about. So, we’ll discuss each one of these and then go onto some other options that you might not even know exist. We’ll discuss strengths and weaknesses but none of this should really be new to you unless you’re just starting out.

Polystyrene Cement

Polycement

Strengths: Cheap, strong bond

Weaknesses: Messy, bulky, difficult to apply

Use on: Plastics

So, our first star is the favourite of anyone that has ever bought, or been bought, an Airfix kit. If you’ve built a model aeroplane then chances are you’ve come across this stuff. Also, if you’re anything like me you’ll find that it is evil incarnate. You’ll really only be able to glue plastics with it as it literally melts the plastic together to form a bond, normally you apply it to both sides of whatever you are glueing and then press them together. There is one problem with using this glue to do that however. Have you ever been about to brush your teeth of an evening and had some kind of unnatural hand spasm that has caused you to apply a little too much pressure to the tube of toothpaste? Only to watch with horror as you catch the far edge of the toothbrush but coat your significant other’s favourite rose-scented, fifty quid a throw, made from seal cubs, moistourising soap and half of the bathroom tiles with a line of red, white and blue Aquafresh? I think we’ve all been there. Imagine doing that with a product that works by heating up the plastic to melt a bond… You can see where I am going with this, it’s not pretty and even when great care is taken the application from the tube is that imprecise that you normally end up with massive glue strings conspiring to form some kind of elaborate spiders web between the model parts, the nozzle on the glue and various parts of your body. You could squeeze some out onto a tooth pick and use that as an applicator but that’s still not a great way of doing things when there is a better way.

Polystyrene Cement gets a ZombiePirate rating of  1 out of 5 Harpoons.

 

Liquid Polystyrene Cement

liquidpoly

Strengths: Cheap, Accurate in application, forms strong bond

Weaknesses: Glue can dry in applicator, liquid can run to undesired parts of model

Use on: Plastics

First of all I have to declare a bias. I love this stuff. If you have any plastic models to build this is my go-to glue of choice. While the normal Poly Cement is like a gel, Liquid Poly is exactly how it sounds, it’s the same glue but in a liquid which makes it a lot easier to control and the packaging doesn’t really allow for many unwanted glue ejaculation model wreckers. All my plastic models over the past almost 20 years have been put together using this. I tend to not bother putting a dab on each side of the bond, one small blob on a piece and press it to where it joins and within seconds you’ve got a strong bond that is pretty unbreakable. In many cases the plastic itself on a point of stress with give way before you can break the bond the glue has formed, it’s solid stuff. One thing worth mentioning though is that if you do put too much on, with it being a liquid it will run off when you press a piece together, this can actually leave you with glue blobs outside the join.

I actually use the exact stuff shown in the picture, it has a long metal tube used as an applicator to deliver the glue, because this is stored upright and you may have the top off for extended periods while building a unit or vehicle there is a tendency on occasion for the glue to dry in the top of the tube. This can be a pig to clear and is probably the only bad point that I can raise about this stuff. You might also want to use a well-ventilated area as with it melting the plastic you get some fumes given off. You may of course be into that kind of thing but we can’t condone it here, especially as fumes from plastic are toxic, so if you sniff a Space Marine’s armpit after gluing his arm on and you end up dead, don’t come knocking on my door complaining. I’ve seen enough movies/played enough games to know how to deal with Zombies!

Liquid Polystyrene Cements gets a ZombiePirate rating of 4 out of 5 Harpoons.

 

Superglue

super-glue

Strengths: Will (literally) glue anything, easily available at most stores

Weaknesses: Will (literally) glue anything

Use on: Metals, Resins, Plastics

If you can’t get anything else than Superglue will of course suffice. The various Polys are designed for plastic to plastic, but for plastic to metal and anything else to anything else, you will use nothing else. Superglue is freely available from many places and may therefore be the easiest to get eager fingers on and you can guarantee it will stick what you want stuck, however, dealing with metal models is vastly different to plastic. Whereby the two glues previously discussed will bond the plastic to itself by melting the plastic together superglue is just a medium that will bond one piece to another. This means that overall you are getting a more brittle joint, there are various methods that you can use to strengthen this, I’ll cover those a little later. Another thing to mention is what I have already put in the Strengths/Weaknesses above, superglue is strong stuff, you’ve maybe seen the scene in American Pie 2, yeah, this stuff can be nasty. It has been used in field dressings in combat theatres (be careful with it though, it contains cyanide) so you will at some point glue fingers together, various parts of models to various parts of your body/the cat etc…

The good thing about this glue is that with a reasonable amount of time soaking in hot water the glue tends to lose its bond and makes things easier to pry open. Superglue is normally a liquid but I have recently come across Loctite Gel and have to say that I’m quite impressed with it. The gel (unlike Poly Cement) is easy to apply and doesn’t run everywhere like a liquid can, I’ve been using it to good effect on the last few items I’ve built and the bond seems nice and strong too, so you might want to try that out as well.

To state the obvious metal models are heavier than plastic ones and superglue takes longer to cure than the Polys. You’ll tend to find that some particularly heavy pieces (such as wings) or anything that has a small surface area to bond too can take a long time to actually set in place. A search around the internet will not take long to find models that people have had a nightmare trying to put together for some, or all, of these reasons. As I said before though, there are a number of tips that can help with your gluing.

With metals one of the best things that you can do is to score the areas to be glued. This is as easy as taking a modelling knife and making a cross hatch pattern (kinda like #) over the area to be glued. This actually marks the metal and provides more surface area for the glue to bond too, thus getting a stronger bond. You can also pin a joint, although this is a topic that could go into a topic of its own so I won’t say too much about it now.

The other things you can do is to buy something called Accelerator. This is a liquid product that causes the glue to cure much faster meaning you are not sitting there for ages waiting for the stuff to go off. I have never used it so cannot offer any opinion of my own on it. Just be careful though as it’s pretty easy to glue yourself to a model anyway without making it stick faster.

Superglue gets a ZombiePirate rating of 5 out of 5 Harpoons.

 

So, there you have it, a run down on the most common options for sticking your loot together. If you can only go for one then it’s going to be the superglue obviously, however, if you have a large amount of plastic I really do recommend getting some Liquid Poly it’s much better suited to this task than superglue. I look forward to getting into the next topic of just what to do with your bare metal/plastic before you go around slapping the glue on and putting it in an awesome action pose.

Conventions in Gaming – Army Lists


This post has been blowing around in my head for a while. I’ve known that I wanted to continue through the various aspects of tabletop gaming under the “Conventions in Gaming” moniker as I believe that we can gain valuable insight into the things we take for granted and look at ways to make our games more interesting or perhaps just to see something in a new light. However, the structure to this post has eluded me for the past couple weeks so we’ll see how this goes.

I am sure we have all been there, pad of paper, calculator, rulebook/army book spread out over the table crunching numbers to try and come up with a list that is full of synergy as well as butt-whoopin’ awesomeness. Assigning costs to models has long been an established way of making sure that a fight can be “balanced.” I am using quote marks there because of the general cries that go up around the Internet when something new comes out that means that you can come up with an unstoppable force that seems way too powerful against a normally balanced all-comers force. Yes, I do play Chaos Daemons and no I have not taken an all Tzeentch army or Skulltaker. Army lists provide a way for us to develop forces and in many ways will determine the purchases we make as there are a number of factors that can influence how we build our armies.

For instance, some people will start off picking armies through the models that they like. We’ve all been there, a company comes out with a model that is 17 kinds of awesome, we have to have it, yet, when the rules are read, or it is put onto the battlefield it stinks the place up. Others will pore over the stats and rules for an army and try to squeeze those models into a list of the appropriate value. Some people may even take a mix of both methods. Different companies also release to us the means by which we can mould our forces in differing ways. For instance, Games Workshop has gone down the route of releasing a main rulesbook and then you have to buy a separate Army Book to be able to use your force in the game. Privateer Press when Warmachine and Hordes came out released all the information for their models in the rulebook itself, you didn’t have to buy another book to build a force to put on the table, they then released expansions to the main rules that added in new ones but also released new units for each faction. With the development of Mk 2 they are actually bringing out rulebooks a la GW but after that initial release it’ll be back to the original format of new releases being covered in expansion books. Uncharted Seas and Malifaux both contain all the details for their respective forces within the main rulebook. I’ll give a shout out to Spartan Games (makers of Uncharted Seas) here because the new fleets and rules they release for free on their website. Kudos to them for making things available so readily.

There are alternatives to the pen and paper approach, there are various pieces of software you can download to make the process easier. Wolf’s Lair’s Army Builder is a decent program (you have to pay for it) that allows you to create army lists for loads of games and there is an active community that creates the files that allow you to build the armies for certain games. Then there are things like Armies of Immoren for the Iron Kingdoms worlds, it’s a free download that makes army building a little easier, I even have iBodger on my iPhone which allows me to make Warmachine lists wherever I am. I know there are people with Excel spreadsheets that they have set up for the express purpose of creating lists to play with.

Now, speaking more specifically about what happens with GW books there is a common misconception out there. With 40K or Warhammer there are established points limits that are the “ideal” game size, 1500pts for 40K and 2000pts for Warhammer. Yet, although the armies are supposedly balanced around that points values there is no way to perform a direct comparison between the value of a model in one force and that in another. For example, in the Warriors of Chaos book the standard Marauder is 4pts and is a bargain. I have heard complaints from Bretonnian players that their Man-at-Arms costs more than this for a much worse profile. While both are rank and file infantry they are different in terms of how they fit into the armies, Marauders are a lot more offensive than Men-at-Arms and once both armies are fully arrayed things should be balanced, but comparing points costs from one unit to another in a different army cannot be done, the points values are the cost to the army that they are for and are not meant to be taken in any way as a broad comparison of the value of that troop type. This is one of my pet peeves with GW stuff, when a new army book comes out people inevitably look at something and declare it to be undercosted because “I have to pay X for X.” It’s not a good argument.

There are also different ways of costing things. GW and Privateer use Points costs whereas Malifaux uses Soulstones and this offers a slightly different mechanic into the game. Working with points generally means you have a limit that you cannot go over. Personally I have spent much time trying to squeeze something into those last few points or having to make hard decisions about what to axe to fit into the agreed limit. With Malifaux you have a set number of soulstones to spend on recruiting your crew, any unspent stones go into your pool and allow you to Cheat Fate during the game, which I quite like, it gives you a small bonus in some ways if you do find yourself with something left over.

So, what is the point of this whole post? Well I suppose it is to try and get your thoughts about how you go about preparing a force for the tabletop. I know for our Uncharted Seas games at the minute we are just using the starter boxes however, we each actually have a second starter box each (hence my rolling out of a Broadside Reaper in our last game) that we can use to expand our fleets which will mean we start working to points limits rather than arbitrary collections. In the real world of course there are no careful balancing of forces and history is replete with heroic stands made by vastly outnumbered forces. However, there is nothing stopping us from actually creating our own battles based on these ideas. Just because we do actually have an army list doesn’t mean we can’t throw it away from time to time and just have a game purely for the fun of it. It can provide an interesting diversion to your usual scheduled games.

While we do rely on these things for the majority of the games we play, cutting ourselves loose may help to reinvigorate an otherwise stale gaming environment. I believe this is why things like Apocalypse have become so popular. As I said at the beginning I have struggled with this post for a couple weeks, knowing I wanted to discuss army lists but without knowing where it would take us. I hope this post has been of some benefit other than me pumping out 1300 words of nonsense.

Who knows what I’ll come out with next time?

Conventions in Gaming – Losing


Hopefully this post does not come across as a list of excuses for why I lost the Warhammer Fantasy game I played against Gribblin on Saturday. Among out gaming group I am said to have a reputation for not taking losing well, I hope that it is different from not being gracious in defeat. Sure, I’m not a great fan of getting my butt whooped but I’d like to think that I can at least not be a total tool about it, we’ll see if anything from my compatriots confirms or denies this in the comments section.

No matter how experienced you are, nor how beardy your army may be, the time will come when you will lose a battle. This may be down to a poor decision you made at some critical juncture, excellent play on the part of your opponent or a desertion by the dice gods where the fickle strands of fate conspire to frustrate and annoy. Sometimes, it may even be a combination of all three. There are some players who enjoy large streaks of wins or those who seem to never lose, however, they will at some point have experienced the emotional lows of seeing your carefully chosen force of Elves/Goblins/Atomic Supermen crushed into the earth either during their early days of playing or during the time they were learning to play the army that now rules with an iron fist across the tabletop. As much as we hate to lose (or take it on the chin in the case of some players) losing is inevitable when the games we play actually do have a large element of chance built in.

In many ways you can actually contemplate that losing is far and away more valuable than winning. Yes we all like to come away from a game having won, for some it is the sole reason for play, whereas others take their enjoyment from the game irrespective of the result. I’d like to think that I fit in the middle ground here, I don’t play exclusively to win and am happy to have fun games and hence will create army lists that are challenging but also do not need to shave three times a day. So, why then is losing sometimes better than winning. Let’s take a look;

Our games aren’t just about pushing little pieces of plastic or metal around, heck we all buried enough army men in our youth beneath the sand to be guilty of war crimes, things have moved on since those heady days of carefree existence. Tabletop games allow us to expand and use our intelligence, we play the part of generals marshalling our forces across battlefields far and wide. Within our world we are Napoleons or Sun Tzu’s. As losing tends to come a lot while we are learning a game you can extrapolate some valuable points from that time. When we win we generally rejoice in having beaten our opponent, hopefully we do not gloat (apart from some good natured taunting of course). However, when we lose we replay the events of the battle and analyse where we believe that we went wrong. Yes, sometimes the dice just happen to hate you some days, but that doesn’t mean that you can roll over and blame a loss purely on the vagaries of fate. Even in such circumstances where it may be easy to say you were cheated you can still learn valuable lessons if you are willing to look over all the moves that were made, targeting decisions, what your overall plan was etc… It is in defeat that we all become better players. If one were to win every single time you played then you would learn little about improvements you could make. Yet, when soundly thrashed for any of the aforementioned reasons you sit back and take stock of what happened, looking to reduce the weaknesses and enhance your strengths, making changes to strategy for the next time you see that opponent across the battlefield.

Now, the really good gamers also do this kind of analysis after a win. It may be easy to revel in the highs of victory but there is always room for improvement, was that spell lore ideal for this game really, was that magic item load out as useful as you thought, does that unit really perform as well as it needs to? These are all questions that can be asked to either player at the end of a game and both should be looking at things to up their game for the next time. This may sound horribly hardcore, but I don’t believe it is. Most humans have a drive to get better at the things they do, this doesn’t necessarily extend to all spheres within a person’s life, but if you’re getting thumped time after time in a tabletop game you’re going to want to get better in order to experience victory and hopefully some miniature revenge on the guy that’s been doing the thrashing.

If you’ve got someone in your gaming group that is not given over to humility when he wins then administering a good kicking (across the tabletop please, no physical violence encouraged here) the next time you meet may well turn out to be all the sweeter and hopefully he will learn something by that defeat too.

It is when we are forced to wallow in the crucible of loss that we can really find our feet with our respective forces and while this can be a metaphor for life as well, learning from your mistakes is always a valuable skill and therefore losing a game every once in a while is no bad thing. I applaud those who play for the enjoyment they get from a good game spent with (hopefully) good friends, I had a fun game despite getting thumped. So, until next time, I have some army books to pour over…. next time Gribblin………….next time…..

Malifaux – Loot Review


Last night I had a (brief) opportunity to sit down at the modelling desk (also known as the dining table) to start on my Malifaux stuff. By start I really mean assemble as I won’t get any time to even consider painting until the weekend and even then only if the weather is compliant to allow me to basecoat what I have ready. As I’ve been waiting for such a long time for all these pieces to arrive I thought I’d give a run down of my first impressions of the items I have received.

The obvious place to start therefore is with exactly what I ordered in the first place. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts Malifaux uses cards rather than dice as the mechanic for you to succeed or fail and the game itself has numerous factions you can represent on the tabletop. You can band the factions together as Guild, Arcanists, Resurrectionists, Neverborn and Outcasts. Each of these factions has three starter boxes that you can use to kick off your collection. Nearly every single one of these boxes sold out when the game was released to an unsuspecting public, hence why some people have been experiencing vast delays in getting their hands on their loot.

Each of these factions also has a colour associated with it, Burgundy for Guild, Blue for Arcanists, Green for Resurrectionists, Purple for Neverborn and Yellow for Outcasts. Due to the card mechanic of the game you can use any set of cards, however, Malifaux has its own suits, Rams, Masks, Tomes and Crows, as well as two Jokers. So, if you want to use a standard set of cards you need to remember stuff. Therefore when I grabbed my stuff I partook of the Guild and ordered the Ortega set and a Burgundy Fate Deck. I thought adding the deck would save me marking up cards and also be more immersive for the game too. There are a lot of cool models though so deciding on factions you like might be a tough decision, also, even though you can use Outcasts as a faction on their own they can be recruited as mercenaries into other factions, although there are certain restrictions on this.

So, onto the review of the loot. first up we’ll go with the Fate deck. When this arrives it is pretty much just like a starter deck for Magic: The Gathering that standard card deck box that everyone is familiar with. (I really should have taken some photos to spruce this post up). The cards themselves feel high quality and are plastic coated card, each suit has their own pictures on the cards as well as the typical distinctions for face cards. They are a very snug fit in their box and I can imagine that they would wear like normal cards after continuous use so I’d recommend protectors of some sort but once you do that there is no way they are ever going to fit back in their box so you’ll need another way of keeping them together. I imagine the universal holding tool (an elastic band) may fulfill this purpose but in my opinion it has a chance to crease the protectors and the cards inside so I’ll probably evict my long dead Magic deck out of its cosy box to throw these bad boys in there. On the back of the cards is the Malifaux logo with a stripe of the faction colour through it, hence you can match decks to what you’re playing but I’m sceptical if I’d buy other decks if I branch out into other factions just to colour code things. I have a deck, that’s going to be good enough for me. If you’re getting into the game I’d give them a thumbs up, they are quite evocative of the universe.

Next we’ll take the meat and veg of the game, the models. Wyrd have, over the years, produced a number of really nice models. I’ve thought about picking stuff up as I’ve seen things but have never had a proper use other than wanting to paint them and that’s not a good enough reason. Just speak to Servitob or Gribblin about my painting. Yet now there is a game and things are organised into box sets to start things off, well, who am I to dodge a good looking game with some sweet models? So, Ortega set. First impression really was being impressed by the packaging, sad I know, but I have to say that from the moment I cracked open the packing envelope I was surprised with the packaging. The box is actually a lot smaller than what I was imagining. Maybe it’s due to the fact I’ve been indoctrinated into Games Workshop and, to a lesser extent Privateer stuff, but I expect boxes to be a certain size and was therefore impressed that Wyrd had packed their stuff into so small a box. If my wife was a gamer she’d be enjoying their “greeness” for using less packaging, but she isn’t so I just thought it was cool. Opening the box and every single figure is individually wrapped in its own little bag with the base and other components for that model in there. No foraging for stuff and wondering which model it belongs to here, you open a bag, empty it out and put it together, no inadvertently gluing to wrong arm or leg to someone. The models are packed between two foam inserts to protect them from the rigours of long distance transit and the cards for each figure are collected into another insert between the foam and the box.

The models are very well cast, not much flash on them at all, I need to do a little filing on Perdita’s hat but other than that I can’t see anything needing much cleaning. I’ve already put two of them on bases before I went on to do other things last night. The surprising thing about the cards is that they are booklet style. I was expecting things like Warmachine or Hordes but each one is folded giving all the basic rules and stats for each model. You’ll still need the rulebook to make sense of it all and I may have to cut them in half and add them into a card protector sheet so I can keep things altogether like I do with my Warmachine/Hordes stuff. I’ll be using tokens I think as well rather than marking cards or protectors. I’ll have to do a painting review at some point and model some photos, I am also aware that I wanted to do a painting Space Hulk article as well… looks like I need to pull my finger out and get stuff undercoated. Hopefully this weekend should provide the opportunity as I am looking at getting some free time at the moment.

Overall I’m very happy with my purchases and the quality of the things I have so far. I’ll see if I can tempt anyone else to give it a try as I am sucker for skirmish style games and Malifaux is different enough from my usual fare to get me excited in all kinds of new ways.

The Legend of The Girl Gamer


Once upon a time, when mud was fashionable and petrol was cheap there was a girl gamer.  Nah, just kidding, petrol has never been cheap.  Come to think of it, has there ever been a proper girl gamer?  I don’t really know.  By proper I don’t just mean someone who games occasionally, or is in the business due to other family members.  I mean my wife has gamed and painted stuff but I would never call her a gamer.  When I get excited about games she gives me a little patronizing ‘That’s nice dear’ and lets me get on with it.  She’s even been into a few Games Workshop stores but that still doesn’t make her a gamer.  A gamer is probably someone who actually has a big bunch of models strewn about the place and would combust (as the theory goes) if they ever actually got them all painted.

Now in the past I have seen some of these elusive girl gamers.  I have even been in clubs who have female members.  One of them was actually very good at gaming.  If you go to any of the big tournaments you will always see the odd one or two in amongst the beer guts and sweaty neckbeards.  It is still a massively male dominated hobby.

Now I have some ideas as to why that may be…  Young boys often get given some military themed dolls as toys.  Toy plastic soldiers, GI Joes, and Action Man (who could pwn all the GI Joes with his badass scars, buzzcut and one glance of his moving eagle eye stare).  Naturally these toys lend themselves well to playing war.  Get a stick, hide in some mud, put a headband on and spend the day pretending you are Rambo deep behind enemy lines.  Avoiding your neighbours (the enemy) until you and your mates are in position to complete your dangerous mission of stuffing grass into the washing on the line in number 3’s garden without being seen or taken prisoner.  Other popular toys for boys include model kits.  No other toy has the anarchic possibilities of a Revell Mirage 2000 jet fighter.  Firstly, there’s glue that makes you dizzy if you sniff it.  You can stick things to other things, curtains, carpets, the dog.  You can stick your fingers together and spend hours of fun peeling it off.  Then theres the paint.  Paint your jet, and your face, and your door.  Practise your mad graffitti skills before you are old enough to buy spray paint.  Once your model is complete you can spend hours running around going ‘Neeeeaaaaaaawwwwwwooooooooo’, jet in hand as you buzz your mum and practise strafing runs on your sister’s Barbie dolls.

Anyway, boys grow up, they get jobs and disposable income, but are too old to run around outside and too respectable to make machine gun noises while pointing a stick at next door’s cat.  So they combine all of their childhood hobbies and begin gaming.  Many people begin gaming in their childhood, but the difference I’ve found as an adult gamer is that when I get beaten by a twelve year old I can simply just buy an upgrade for my force, new model or whatever, and continue to do so until victory is mine.  Take that, youngsters.

So how do girls get into gaming?  Why do they do it and are there truly any hardcore girl gamers?

Conventions in Gaming – Terrain


Sun Tzu in his critically acclaimed, nobel peace prize winning, magnum opus “The Art of War” espouses that the greatest of Generals use terrain to their advantage in order to win battles and by doing this it is possible to win a battle against a more numerous enemy. We’ve all seem movies or documentaries from the ancient world whereby Phalanxes line up opposite each other and then go at it, but even in battles of yore such as the famed Thermopylae terrain was used to great effect to reduce the impact that the Persians outnumbered the Greek forces opposing them.

So it is with our tabletop games, whereas there are those armies that would love to have a battlefield devoid of any terrain in order to have charge/fire lanes available to them it is not only unrealistic but actually takes a lot of fun out of the game. Even games like Uncharted Seas which take place on the oceans are not devoid of terrain, an island or peninsula can dramatically alter the ebb and flow of a game as well as increasing the number of strategic options available to a General. How you utilise the terrain in order to provide cover or interrupt line of sight can have a large impact on how emerges the victor once the dust of combat has settled.

However, just as good terrain placement can produce an interesting and fun game, so the opposite is also true, a game with bad terrain placement can actually decide a battle before the first turn starts and can mean that one side, if not both, end up playing something that is dull and boring. Something along the lines of you’d rather spend the time you just played by volunteering to be the patient for a Dental student’s first root canal and they’ve run out of anaesthetic. I’d like to give specific proof of this for a game I had around three years ago that still sticks in my memory for all the wrong reasons. OK, this wasn’t a typical game, but still, things could have gone better. It was around the time when Hordes was coming up for release. We already had some stuff for Warmachine in our gaming circle and decided to take a two Warpack starters from Hordes up against one appropriately sized force from Warmachine. So it was that me trying out Legion alongside Trolls went up against a sizeable Khador force. I can’t remember the details behind how we went about setting up the terrain but I remember that our Khadoran opponent just placed a line of building that separated the battlefield in two halves with a small gap in the centre. We were playing a caster kill game and I know that I wasn’t happy when I saw the terrain, it very favourably suited the Khador stuff and I know that I should have said, “no, we can’t play like this, the game will be purely dictated by how that terrain is placed to the detriment of the game.” However, I held my tongue and we played the game, and yup, we got spanked. Not because we were bad players but because the terrain was that horrible the game ran exactly how I knew it would and nothing we could do compensated for that. I know that real life battles aren’t always fought over ideal terrain, one side normally has an advantage, but we’re not talking real combat here, we are talking about a game that is supposed to be fun for all players, this wasn’t.

Therefore, whenever I set up terrain before a game, or when I setup during a game opposite my opponent I always try and make the placement fair for both sides. I actually have pretty good luck in ending up on the side of the battlefield that I want but still, I don’t want the odds stacked in my favour before the first dice has been rolled. In Warhammer 40,000 I like a decent amount of cover to protect my Orks approach (to be honest though there are enough bodies in those units to provide a kind of cover all their own) while Servitob’s Space Marines love nice open fields where they can see and shoot anything approaching them. A balance between the two provides us both with options in how we deploy and move our forces and advantages that we can exploit in bringing the armies to bear.

Games like Warmachine and Hordes also have spells and actions that allow you to create your own terrain, this is when you can obviously try to stack those odds in your favour, but these things don’t tend to stick around the entire game and are therefore carefully balanced. Usually you also have things to counter those kinds of abilities in some flavour.

We use terrain to give variety to the otherwise bland tables we fight across, they add colour and extra options that we need to factor into our plans. They also add to the fun of the game and if you are the one that uses the terrain to your advantage, so much the better. Just as Sun Tzu taught that terrain use is a major aspect of battles, so it should be with us, whether home-made or bought from a store using terrain to spice up the fields or setup specific venues is a great way to keep the hobby fresh and interesting. I’ve been fortunate enough to have bought a lot of terrain recently. The new stuff that Games Workshop is producing is of really good quality and I have a 64 litre storage box full of the stuff with more on the assembly line. As the possibility of a Planetstrike 40k game looms for Saturday I will tonight be putting the finishing touches to my Skyshield Landing Platform, I then have a Bastion to assembled that I want to convert with all manner of Orkiness. It’s having little things like this that helps to motivate me while playing. Terrain is something I feel I can never have enough of (that and Ork Boyz) and I am always willing to fork out some green on pieces I like the look of. We should never take our terrain for granted, nor see it as a necessary evil. Properly used terrain is as much a part of the game as the models in our army and in fact, if you really plan out your battles, terrain is another unit in your army if used correctly, in most cases though it won’t deep strike and lay waste to stuff!

Hopefully the next time you stare across a war torn battlefield, before or after a game, you can have a new found appreciation for those hills, craters, fences, ruins or whatever you have. Things would be a lot more boring without them.

Space Hulk – Rules Review


While not managing to get in a game over the weekend I did manage to have a read through the rulebook. It really is quite short but then again it’s not a complicated game to play, at least in terms of the rules, strategy is another matter. The accompanying campaign book is a lot thicker and I am looking forward to sinking my teeth into it over the next few days. I’ve also cut out all the models and pushed them together and am impressed by how snugly they fit.

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As with Space Hulk of old all actions cost action points. The Space Marine player restricted to 3 minutes a turn while the Genestealers enjoy a much more leisurely pace. In terms of action points a Terminator (if they die they certainly won’t be back) they get 4 a piece, whereas Genestealers get 6. Moving and turning cost differing amounts depending on which side you are playing but most things cost 1ap to perform. You can combine things like moving and shooting which costs 1ap thus allowing you to save action points. However, just like chess you’re going to want to have your moves planned out if you’re the Marine player as you are up against it time wise. Also, even though the ‘Stealer player is allowed to spend as much time as they want in their turn, you’ll also want to get done pretty sharpish in order to cut down on the thinking time your opponent gets. If you can make decisive decisions quickly when you’re playing the gribbly aliens then you are going to put even more pressure on the time sensitive warriors of Humanity and that can lead to unexpected mistakes which give you the openings to cram four limbs worth of armour piercing talons down their collective throats.

That’s not all as every turn the Marine commander gets to pick a token out of a cup which gives him a number of Command Points. These can be used as additional action points and, more importantly, can be used in the Genestealer turn. Ran out of time to put your dudes on Overwatch? Well, spend Command Points to lay down a suppressing fire with the Incinerators and fall back by squads to the APC….. ah-hem. Just be sure you remembered what was on that token though, you get to see it at the start of the turn but then it’s placed on the mission board and your opponent moves it according to your spend, at the end of the turn it’s turned over again and if you spent more Command Points than you were entitled to you lose the game immediately!

Overwatch allows you to basically stare down the corridor you are in and shoot anything that moves within range. Genestealer bursts out of a bulkhead in front of you? No problem, now you can gun it down, every step they take closing you down allows you to have another shot. However, if you roll any double on your dice, your gun jams and you have to spend time clearing it and with the speed of the Genestealers a jam at close range will probably result in Marine kibble.

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Guard is effectively the melee equivalent of Overwatch, helping you out when a horde of aliens are determined of ripping you a new one. Definitely worth it if you’re staring down some of these guys and you have one of the more melee oriented Marines out front.

Some of the missions cause you to find an artifact or relic, while others want you to torch certain sections of the map (it’s nice to know that in the far flung reaches of the future mankind still resorts to chucking in gouts of smouldering napalm in order to complete missions). I’m lo0king forward to working my way through this as there are some maps that are played over more than one level (with the chance of falling down the stairs and breaking their neck in the cases of the Terminators) and some of the maps look like they use every single tile that comes in the box. I have yet to go through the whole book but they look varied enough on the face of it to keep things interesting. I want to play through it all and document the campaign here on the blog for you all to enjoy.

Rules wise therefore I give the game a whopping 9/10 Zombies. I’ll give a fuller rating once I’ve actually been able to play it.

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Uncharted Seas


The thing about blogging is that you need to write posts. I have been on holiday for the past two weeks and even though the second of those weeks was spent at home I have failed to add anything here.

Well now is the time to try and sort all that out.

During my holidays I got to try out Spartan Games‘ Uncharted Seas. It’s a maritime game that pays homage to Man-o-war if you’re old enough to remember that. Although I’ve managed to lose my first two games I’ve also had a lot of fun playing it and getting used to the system. You can buy a starter fleet that is a viable fleet straight out the box and get change from £30 which is really good. The models are also made of resin rather than metal or plastic which allows for some really nice detailing.

The game is simple enough to play and follows normal D6 rolls for everthing. There is also a card deck included with everything that allows for extra actions to happen throughout the game that keeps you on your toes.

It’s a game I’d recommend to anyone looking for a break from the usual tabletop fare, I’m hoping to get some more games in soon.