Tag Archives: Miniatures

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.

“What do you mean 5 armies isn’t enough?”


I don’t know if anyone else experiences this, but I have an inkling that many do;

That urge you have whenever you see a new army for whatever game tickles your fancy and you end up with this overwhelming desire to go and spend your hard earned cash on something for it. There are even those times when an army you have previously discarded as one you will “never collect” actually inspires you out of the blue.

I’ve often mused that once you get into miniatures wargaming it becomes more of an obsession than a hobby, hordes of metal and plastic end up taking over your home and heavens help you if you are married or co-habiting… I have a couple of army cases that are full of stuff and STILL these things are all over the house.

Currently I have the following forces;

Warmachine: Cryx and Cygnar

Hordes: Skorne

Warhammer: Warriors of Chaos

40k: Orks and Daemons

And I am just waiting for my Uncharted Seas fleet to arrive through the post.

Last year I managed to clear out a lot of stuff to try and consolidate my collection, I sold Space Marine, Dark Eldar and Necron armies for 40k in order to get my Orks. I sold my Dark Elves as I wasn’t playing Fantasy and my Khador from Warmachine. I also managed to get rid of my Confrontation Celts and Daikinee due to the changes that Rackham made to their game. All in all I sold a lot of pieces and my main game since has been 40k. However, even though I know that I don’t want to be in the same situation again with having millions of models all over the place I still find myself being tempted, quite severely, that leads me to have to rigorously put down my own will.

I like my Orks, they are brutal and seem to fit with how I play. My Daemons are really an accident as I got them for Warhammer but on the eve of the Warriors of Chaos release and ended up with an army of them instead and converted the Daemons over to 40k. Yet, after having two battles with my Warriors I am now looking at the option of using my Daemons in Fantasy for a change. I have been facing the new Vampires and have to say that I am finding them to be a tough challenge. I have won both the games I have played but they have invariably been horribly bloody affairs but highly enjoyable nevertheless. I am now looking to throw a spanner in the works by changing what I field.

I never design an army around beating a particular opponent, I tend to throw an army together to face whatever would come along, even if I know pretty much exactly what I will actually be facing. The Daemons have a unit that I do not currently have in my collection. It’s not one I’d be using in 40k only for fantasy and therefore I am reluctant to go out and spend money on the stuff (I’d be doing a conversion as well) just to satisfy things for one game. I’ll proxy with my opponents permission. But really, the crux of this post is that after playing with one army, I get the urge to look into another and then I go work out an army before I have to take a step back and realise that to do this would mean another batch of plastic. Another few nights of actually assembling everything and another lifetime of having to provide storage for all these extra models. I just find it very hard to settle on any one thing and with having multiple games that I like to play this just makes it all the worse.

Should I just give in to the obsession of gaming, or is there a way that I can curb the desire to create new forces with which to surprise my enemies?