Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Kings of War at NatCon

Just a reminder that NatCon is on at Easter in Christchurch.

These year they are organising a Kings of War event and you can find all details here

Great to see Kings of War establishing a foothold in the South Island. Expect to see a Dunedin contingent joining the locals as well as a smattering of travellers from the North Island.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Disappearing Artefacts

The scuttlebutt doing the rounds is that Mantic's new tournament play book for Kings of War sees the "retirement" of three of the magic items.

The first to go is the Brew of Keen-Eyedness or "+1 to hit on Ranged Attacks". Not many people will be sad to see this go given that it was a must take item on any archer Horde or especially Horde of Ogre Shooters.

Even less lamented will be Ensorcelled Armour. Every lord (and his dragon) had this and it was probably - after pre-CoK Honey-Maze - the best spend in the book. Certainly not sad to see it go.

Finally rumoured gone is the Medallion of Life, 5+ Regen for Heroes (and mostly seen on those with Monster mounts. Removal of Ensorcelled Armour would have just seen choices cascade to this so it is probably more pre-emptive than anything.

Overall I am very happy to see Mantic take this approach to the game. This will force changes to lists and shake up the meta.

The only other change I would have made was restrict Caterpillar to Infantry units which keeps it in line with historical use - auxiliaries operating in rough ground.

Good stuff Mantic, a big thumbs up from me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Games Workshop Hit It Outta The Park

I think that it is pretty fair to see that if we looked back two years Games Workshop was suffering a lot of "bad press". Visit any gaming site, forum or blog and the main message was one of complaint. People hated what they were doing, felt unappreciated and were commonly predicting the demise of the industry leader.

This attitude can best be illustrated in reaction to two infamous comments by then CEO Tom Kirby, paraphrasing:-

  • "We are a model company, not a games company"
  • We don't do market research"

Fast forward two years and things could not be more different. Yes, in that time GW did destroy the Warhammer game system (and the Old World) alienating a lot of Fantasy gamers - including myself - but other than that it has been home run after home run.

The change is most evident in the past 12 months - but no doubt started the year before - with the replacement of Kirby as CEO. Kevin Roundtree the new CEO has been a breath of fresh air.

First and foremost, GW have reestablished themselves as a "Games" company. You can see this in the conveyor line of boxed games that GW are bringing to market. Whereas Kirby mothballed the Specialist Games division as an expensive indulgence, the new GW has embraced the IP that was encapsulated there. So we have had Warhammer Quest, Blood Bowl, re-releases of Space Hulk along with a plethora of new standalone games (the two Heresy games, Gorechosen, Lost Patrol and the upcoming Gangs of Commoragh).

Secondly, you seen the introduction of discounting through their "Getting Started" army collecting boxes. The contents are often at a 30% discount to buying the kits individually.

They have launched a new mainline game Age of Sigmar to replace WHFB. While it personally doesn't scratch my itch - being a skirmish game in what I see as a massed ranks genre - it has developed a loyal following (particularly in the U.K.) - and is by all accounts an enjoyable game. When its lack of points caused some resistance it released an update via its Generals Handbook. More than anything this was symptomatic of the "new" GW.

The quality of sculpts remain the industry leader in plastic kits.....daylight second. The continue to introduce new and innovative technical paints that make the hobbyist's job easier. Forgeworld remains a licence to print money and has picked up the LOTR range as well.

After many years they have acknowledged the internet and social media with great Hobby videos, new community content etc.

And they have finally admitted their mistake and given me "Traitor Legions" back!!!!

All this has been reflected in their share price. Six-seven months ago it was around 4.60 and looking fragile. Today it is 7.90 and looking solid. Much has been made of the recent profit numbers....and yes they are good. However over 50% of the improvement is a result of GBP weakness in the light of the Brexit vote, however the rest is operational.

Yes, they still have problems. Their cornerstone game is corpulent and bloated beyond belief. It's force construction mechanic is a crime in the face of its fluff. However I remain hopeful that the game mechanics will get a major reset mid-year as it gets Sigmared. A 216 page rulebook supported by up to four plus FO tomes is a joke and the hope is that the rotten edifice topples in 2017 ushering in a new era where games are decided on the table rather than in the list exploitation phase.

Similarly it would be great if it could finally address the Colony tax issue. Why far flung former colonies have to pay up to 60% more for the product is particularly galling. Coupled with the embargo it seems vindictive and certainly encourages people to pursue other manufacturers. That you can get around it with a free Youshop account reinforces its pettiness.

However all in all the last two years have been truly transformative. The turnaround in attitude and performance is nothing short of stellar

 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Some Citadel Terrain

It's a wet weekend in Wellington (welcome to Summer 2017) and so stuck inside - and in the throes of cleaning up the Dunn-geon- I pulled out some unmade/unpainted Citadel Fantasy terrain I had.

Most of these kits have been withdrawn now but I've had them sitting there and never got around to making them. The weather was a good opportunity and so I roped in Jack and we set to it.

Tavern and Outhouse from Chapel kit

Extended Fortified Manor

Witchfate Tor, Tower of Sorcery

Garden of Morr

Arcane Fulcrum

I think I got the fulcrum when Ben Wadsworth left for Melbourne so some of this stuff has been around for years. Now that it is put together I can start working through it in the evenings with a view to having it painted up over the next couple of months.

The cupboards are starting to see some light as unmade/unpainted stuff is converted to the finished article. My aim this year is to continue to finish off all these purchased but never made/finished kits. Hoping that by the end of the year I'm a long way to the nirvana of having no uncompleted projects.

 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Mantic Releases Trident Realm Figures

Mantic have posted pictures of their new Trident Realm figures on their website. I've grabbed a selection of them so you can get a feel for the models and some context for my comments.

My understanding is that the figures are metal, though I may be wrong.

Colour me unimpressed. I appreciate that this is a new army - and I like that it is one that has no GW equivalent - but my concern is with the presentation. They just don't do it for me.

Now this may be as a result of many things. First they may not have the best paint job. In 2016 Mantic did a really good job of selling the Empire of Dust "concept" by using Brandon Palmer of GMM Studios to paint the army. They looked great and although I don't know the economics of the initiative I felt it really up the ante for Mantic, positioning them as a serious player.

The paint job here is not great. By that I mean I'd fancy myself to do a better job. The colour choice is very pastel and looks - pardon the pun - washed out. I'm not sure the basing helps either. Something more in keeping with the army theme would have been more suitable.

As for the sculpts, I'm having a bit of trouble with the soft detail. Things are just not very distinct. This carries from the Wave (which I appreciate should be more "fluid" through to the crab which appears very undefined. Overall I feel that the models have no more quality than cheap aquatic toys you'd see at the local Toyworld.

I guess I was probably hoping for more from Mantic with this release - especially after EOD.

 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mantic Releasing Kings of War Tournament Pack

Thanks to David Grieg from Mighty Ape for pointing out an upcoming releases from Mantic Games.

Kings of War: Organised Play Supplement 2017

Here is our essential guide to running a Kings of War event. From small, one-day tournaments to epic leagues lasting several months, inside you’ll find everything you need to make your event a success, including Tournament Guide and Tips, League Guide, Rules updates and more!

Tournament Guide
From choosing your venue and game format, to making sure you have enough food and drink on hand, learn how to plan and deliver a top-notch tournament step-by-step.

Tips from Experienced TOs
Some of the world’s leading Kings of War tournament organisers share their experiences and offer-up some seasoned advice for newcomers.

League Guide
We cover everything from escalation to ladder leagues, along with an experience system to give your event that added sense of progression.

Writing your Own Rules
Want to create new Kings of War content? We’ve set out some pointers on the best way to make or modify units, special rules, and scenarios with maximum compatibility.

All-New 2017 Rules
Get up to speed with the very latest Kings of War balance updates, along with brand new scenarios, spells and artefacts for the 2017 tournament season.

This looks real good! As noted it contains new magic items and spells as well as some new scenarios. It also incorporates the tweaks that the CoK introduced in 2016.

The release date is late February and the price Mighty Ape have listed is NZD 17.99.

What a bargain!

Terrain - The Observatory

Finished the Observatory this morning. It is a 3D print from Printable Scenery's Winterdale range mounted on a home made condensed foam hill. Finished off with rocks, clump foliage and tufts with a static grass lawn.

Thinking the next terrain I do will be some trench lines.

 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Narrative, Fluff, Background....Whatever.

Just about everytime I have fallen out of love with a game or genre, I can trace it to one thing......destruction of the fluff (or established canon).

BITD I played a lot of 40k. W40k 3ed and 4ed were my time. I picked up the game in 2001 after playing a solid 3-4 years of DBM (historical Ancients) were there were four army list books containing 300+ armies. All the armies were based on established history (read canon).

My local club, the Wellington Warlords, was big into 40k at the time. It dominated tournaments in New Zealand and Australia and had perhaps 6 of the Top 10 tournament players in Australasia. It was a tough school with a steep learning curve but as a result of playing in that environment you quickly became a very good player.

However the one thing that was important was the established fluff. Third Edition came after the Herohammer and army ally allsorts period of 2nd Edition. I never played but apparently the lists were shite (though largely pre-internet so not as invasive). At the time GW was releasing new codexes for all races - and variant lists in White Dwarf. We had mini-dexes for Dark Angels, Blood Angels, Space Wolves as well as the Armageddon dex, Craftworld Eldar and Ork Clans (WD). Index Astartes articles dropped and the eventual conclusion was CSM Legion rules and Space Marine Chapter Tactics.

This led to armies being highly themed with the established fluff. This was encouraged by GW with their Rogue Trader Tournament system. Woe betide anyone turning up to an event with a list that strayed from fluff. Tactical Marine Squads were 10 men strong and you were TFG if you turned up with a minmaxed 6 man lasplas squad.

With 5th Ed and the rise of net listing that all started to die. The tournament game you read on the net now is very much one of pure efficiency with little or no hat tip to fluff. 2016 saw the rise of the Super Friends list that was designed euphemistically as a force multiplier.

I got out in 5th when we lost Traitor Legions, Eldar Craftworlds, Ork Clans etc. Visiting an event last year where lists were basically Super Friends plus a Knight confirmed to me I hadn't missed much.

In about 2007 I drifted to Warhammer Fantasy and loved the Old World. The fluff was deep and made sense to me. I could invest time in my armies, terrain etc. My love of the Skaven is well-known but pick any of the armies and when I faced it on the table I knew its backstory and for me that's important. At the end of 2014 the End Times arrived and I embraced the story progression - if not necessarily all the rules. However we did see then how when the backstory broke down things got silly on the table in unintended ways.....Host of the Eternity King anyone? I think this was the precursor to "Super Friends". Well we know the End Times didn't end well and the established canon was destroyed along with the Old World. Again I jumped.

The last year or so has been an interesting time for me gaming wise. I've been playing Kings of War and really enjoy the game. But I have no investment in the fluff. It means nothing to me and I don't feel any ownership. Of course this is understandable where the game doesn't have the benefit of 30+ years of backstory. That is why I am very interested to see what 2017 brings. This weekend is International Campaign Day where two US gamers have created a global linked game structure across 12 countries with the outcome in one area influencing the events in another. Mantic also have their Summer Global Campaign Event which is billed as advancing and broadening the backstory. For me the development of a narrative behind the game is the most important improvement Mantic could make for Kings of War. I want to know more about what drives my Ratkin or what grudges/allegiances my Herd have. At the moment I have little buy-in to their backstory other than the former are rat-like and the second are fast. It would be great to have that built upon. And no fan fiction doesn't do it for me.

Mantic have a real opportunity here as Age of Sigmar largely destroyed the established backstory and GW have started from scratch. Yes, they have significantly greater resources than Mantic but that shouldn't deter Mantic from their endeavour. The other Fantasy contender, The Ninth Age, is in a funny position. We all know that it is next edition Warhammer regardless of their protestations but they are effectively stuck in time. Yes, the names have changed, yes they are writing fan fiction but they do not have the resources of a company behind them and that will ultimately hurt them. To succeed it needs to be monetised and that will be the beginning of the end for them.

So this has been a longwinded treatise saying that IMO you need to have narrative fluff and you need to have an eye on the story progression to get my hobby dollar. I'm sure other people have different triggers but history has shown that a strong canon gets investment from players - and especially those players where tournaments are not the be-all and end-all. GW has recognised this and realise you must balance competitive issues versus narrative (e.g. the backtrack on AoS points). This year has seen them make 40k releases that are driven by fluff - Genestealer Cult, the Fall of Cadia and especially Traitor Legions.

I'm hoping Mantic will grow the narrative side of KoW as I'm sure that is the key to future growth

Warhammer 40k Podcasts

Over the past 3-4 weeks I started listening to a variety of 40k podcasts.

Being on the scrap heap of corporate endeavour, I try to get out for a two hour walk 3-4 mornings a week. Generally I listen to Football Weekly and Freakanomics getting some Hobby in with selected Countercharge episodes.

The variety of KoW podcasts is not great and the haphazard nature of a lot of release schedules leaves a gap in my listening schedule. Hence my foray into 40k podcasts.

I'm sure that there are many many 40k podcasts out there. The accessibility to software and hardware is far greater these days than even five years ago.

The three I have settled into listening, have on my download schedule and have ventured into their back catalogue are:

In all three cases the podcasts seem to be Hobby-centric in that they take a more holistic approach to 40k. I like the discussion of aspects other than gameplay and these three hit the buttons in terms of the creative side of 40k as well as discussions of fluff etc. They also seem to have a more fluff centred view of list construction.

I've listened to a few other casts that seem focussed more on the gameplay aspects of tournaments I.e. Heavily slanted to list construction but none have held my interest as much.

So are there other casts out there I should list to? Any suggestions appreciated.

 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Weekend Hobby Update

The big thing for me has been working on my Observatory. It is all printed, constructed, sealed, primed and has been basecoated. I'm detailing it now and then I'll construct a hill to mount it on. My guess is that I'll finish it this week, given a few evenings.

I am also waiting - impatiently - for Traitor Legions to be added to Army Builder. I'm itching to draw up some lists but don't want to construct a spreadsheet with a new file release imminent. If i haven't seen anything by the end of the week I'll likely fold.

Apart from that I have bundled up 20 years of White Dwarfs, put them in boxes and shifted them into storage. Going through them brought some great memories. I will say that in its current iteration WD is probably the best it has been in 12+ years!