Monday, April 30, 2012

Patience is a Virtue

Before the GW embargo Jack ordered two boxes of Wracks from Maelstrom Games. That was 29 May 2011.

Well 336 days later they hit the Dunn mailbox. Yes, that's right.....just over 11 months.

Jack doesn't believe me so here is a picture of the long overdue Wracks.....

And in front of today's newspaper as "proof of life"!!!!!

As they say on the advert "Good things take time".

Thoughts on Races Pre-Posting of Lists

Here's some quick thoughts on the various races

Lizards - Mal will have two Slaans and a billion skinks

High Elves - I'll be shocked if Alex doesn't have the Book of Hoeth

Vampires - Glen's list has more screams than a One Direction concert

WoC - Neil will be the only Warrior without the Puppet

Wood Elves - Joel = 90 shots

Tomb Kings - Tim = 80 shots plus two catapults

Skaven - One will be soft and fluffy, one won't.

Dwarfs - Who cares? If they play each other it means a maximum of eight people get their weekend spoiled

Chaos Dwarfs - Destroyer and more Death Rockets than you can poke a stick at. Don't let him cast "Ash Cloud"

Beastmen - Plan A - Flying Doombull. Plan B - ?????

Daemons - Tom's list makes his Dad proud!!!

Orcs & Goblins - New army for Nicholas

Empire - I understand that Rory likes his knight bus

Ogres - 34 models. How hard can that be?

Races On Show At The Horned Rat/Gobbo V

So Horned Rat/Gobbo V has 30 players attending the event. The breakdown of armies with my guess as to the players is:

Lizards (4) - Mal Patel, Mike King, Hagen Kerr, Bo Patterson

High Elves (4) - Hugh Dixon, John Murrie, Alex Abernethy, Mathew Collett

Vampires (3) - Kent Jackson, Ryan Lister, Glen Burfield

Warriors of Chaos (3) - Neil Williamson, Hamish Gordon, Ben Wadsworth

Wood Elves (3) - Joel van de Ven-Long, Josh Kennedy, Gavin Stewart

Beastmen (2) - Locky Reid, Stuart Robinson

Skaven (2) - James Millington, Dave Appleby

Dwarfs (2) - Simon Switzer, Matt Hassall

Brets - Peter Williamson

Chaos Dwarfs - Sam Whitt

Daemons - Tom Dunn

Empire - Rory Finnemore

Ogres - Pete Dunn

Tomb Kings - Tim Joss

Orcs & Goblins - Nicholas Jebson

The only army missing are the dreaded Dark Elves. Great to get 15 different races along. The lack of Skaven will please some people.

I'm picking I'll be sick of the Lore of Light by the end of the weekend. Apparently it is the major lore.

Friday, April 27, 2012

8th Edition Rules Changes Redux - Pre-Measuring

Some of the biggest groans at the introduction of 8th Edition concerned the introduction of pre-measuring. Suddenly it was okay to measure any distance any time.

We should have seen it coming – Games Workshop had introduced its Realm of Battle Gameboard the year before and one of the criticisms was that it was now easier to assess distances because the tiles were 2” square.

The groans at the time were that the introduction of pre-measuring took a lot of the skill out of the game – and this and random charges – were behind much of the exodus of the original rage-quitters. See, I saw this differently. To me it wasn’t necessarily to centre success in the game on being able to assess whether a distance was 11.9” or 12.1”. The introduction of pre-measuring has removed that challenge and, when combined with random charges, made it more about risk assessment. You can take the risk around a given set of dice rolls but a good general now needs to have a plan to manage the risk when things turn to shit – because someone rolled an 11 or 12 (or you rolled a 3 or 4).

The other area was in guess ranges. Now I don’t know about you but most gamers are fairly numerate. I know I can do Pythagoras in my head to ½” on a 6 foot by 4 foot table. I never viewed it as a tactical skill so the loss of guess weapons had little or no effect (for 90% of players).

This change was one of the best that GW made. It has removed one of the most niggley parts of the game. Now all you do is measure distance and determine what you have to roll (before you roll). Simple. Straightforward. No drama.

Rules Change: A+

[Comment: I so hope it is introduced into 40k. Not only does it remove niggle, it also makes it easier to switch between the two systems. It wasn’t a skill in Fantasy and it isn’t in 40k.]

On the Road

This Sunday, Tom, Mike King and myself are making the trek across the Rimutakas to visit the Masterton Marauders club. The club was set up over the past eighteen months and features some of the regulars at Wellington events.

Mike and Tom are looking at playing doubles and I am making the ultimate sacrifice and playing their local Dwarf, Simon Switzer. It is important to take one for the team every now and then to stop other people having their hobby ruined by having to play against the stunties. I’m pretty sure that there should be a public register of dwarf players here in New Zealand so that people know if they have one living in their community.

I’m going to take the Ogres over and will look to run the Stonehorn and Thundertusk, I think. The models are finished and based so we’ll see how they perform.

Really looking forward to visiting the Marauders as I appreciate the efforts they make to come to Wellington events…..yes, even the Dwarfs!

Horned Rat looks like it will have a field of 30 participants. This will make it the largest WHFB event in Wellington for awhile… fact since the first Runefang in 2008. I’m really happy with this and appreciate the efforts people are making to get here and Raymond’s effort in giving up his time to Umpire. Tomorrow I’m finishing off the terrain I’ve been making and trying to cajole my lovely wife into hemming the basecloths I’ve bought.

And yes James….posting pics of the Mortis Engine!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

8th Edition Rules Changes Redux - Steadfast

Leading on from the Stepping Up and Supporting Attacks rule, the third major change to combat is the Steadfast rule.

The two armies that I’ve played with in 8th benefit (Skaven) and are disadvantaged (Ogres) by the Steadfast rule so I’ve seen the effect from both sides. Personally I reckon it is probably the best change to 8th in that it has shifted the balance back to infantry. Monstrous Infantry, Monstrous Cavalry, Cavalry and Monsters now need to ensure that they have sufficient resilience themselves when they go into a ranked block. There is no only a limited chance that they will blast through a unit in a single turn, so that even a flank charge is fraught with danger on a steady block (moreso with the ability to combat reform at unmodified leadership if Steadfast).

This has really changed the game and with it list construction. Using my Skaven as an example, my Slave units were 20 or 21 strong under 7th. Now they are 35-40. This means that even another 25 man infantry block has to kill 15 slaves before the unit loses Steadfast. Within the General’s leadership bubble this means there is only 1/12 chance of them breaking. With a BSB I get a re-roll. Given this I use slaves for their intended purpose – a roadblock that ties up a combat unit while I can whittle it away with shooting/magic.

Looking from the other side, my Ogres, I know that MSU is not the way to go across the WHOLE army. I need to have units that have sufficient resilience to be able to last up to three rounds before I break an opponent. Unit size has jumped from 3-4 Bulls or Ironguts to 8-9 models. These are the Hammer units you need to take on a ranked block. I’ve also found that this consideration flows through to my choice of Magic Lore where I am looking for buffs to protect my unit.

So the rule change has been profound and I think it has improved the game immeasurably. To break blocks significant resources have to be committed whereas previously it was more the ability to deliver CR on the initial charge.

Rule Change: A

[Tip: Remember the front rank counts a a rank if it has 5 models in it (3 for Monstrous Infantry/Cavalry)


I had a really productive day yesterday. Forgoing the opportunity for a couple of games, I spent the time preparing for Horned Rat in just over a week’s time.

In the last week the number of participants has swelled to 30/31. I am lucky in that I can borrow 14 tables from my club, the Warlords, but made sure that the two tables I have at home were in okay condition. Running these events over the past few years has allowed me to build up enough terrain so that participants are not required to bring any. Any surplus funds are re-invested in more (and better quality) terrain. I was originally expecting to have to provide 12 tables worth but with the increased numbers I wanted to make sure I had sufficient.

First up I went and bought the material for five new basecloths. Give you a clue, Anzac Day afternoon is not the time to visit Spotlight. I’m pretty sure that every 10 year old girl in Wellington was doing a bedroom makeover. Certainly Spotlight was doing a roaring trade in Taylor Swift curtains.

Secondly, I painted and based up 6-7 pieces of impassable terrain using the Garden of Morr. These just require flocking and they will be ready to go. I also painted up walls and fences to add to base with my buildings.

Lastly, I cut MDF base boards for the buildings I have either bought or put together and painted. There are four new ones for this event – a Tabletop World Merchant’s Townhouse, GW’s Skullvane Manse and the Elven Tower and Bestial Huts from Gale Force Nine.

Looking forward to finishing them all this weekend.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Necron Second Wave Photos

So May is fast coming up and the early copies of White Dwarf are out. All those who were expecting the release of Dark angels (the Dwarfs of 40k) will be disappointed again. Come back in November, Forgiven, Forgotten, Verboeten or whatever you are called this edition.

What we get instead is the second wave of Necrons. Here are some pictures from White Dwarf:

Nice to see that Games Workshop are rounding out the range. Only thing missing seems to be the Night Scythe.

It's a Grey Grey Grey World

Adepticon, the US's biggest and most competitive tournament, has been run and won for another year.

My understanding is that it was dominated by Grey Knight armies. In fact the top tables were wall to wall Grey Knights. The team tournament was taken out by a team comprising four GK armies.

Guess it's not much fun being a Daemon in the USA!

Warhammer Achievements - A New Hobby Event

Some of you will listen to various Warhammer podcasts and may be aware of an event run in the UK last year called, Warhammer Achievements. This was put on by Steve Wren and the Dragonslayers Club at Maelstrom's venue in Mansfield. Steve is running it again this year, building on the success of last year.

Warhammer Achievements is a different kind of event, one where the hobby aspects are the prime determinant of success. There is a checklist of almost 100 achievements to be attained and the winner is the person who "achieves" the most. These achievements are split between gaming, painting and sports.

I have been in touch with Steve and have received his permission to run "Warhammer Achievements" here in New Zealand. On that basis I am pleased to announce a new one day event to be held on June 23 at Khandallah in Wellington.

 You can download the Players Pack here

The event is themed around those loveable rogues (and everybody's favourite race) the Skaven. There will be three themed battles over the course of the day where you will get points for certain achievements. The winner of the event is not necessarily the winner on the table rather the person who "achieves" the most.

This will be a very different kind of event - I can guarantee you that it will be the year's most fun - and may require a different mindset from the norm. It gives an opportunity to bring out those models that never see the light of day - Dwarfs with Hand Weapon and Shield, High Elf Silver Helms, Skaven Rat Ogres, Daemonic Screamers, Ogre Mournfang - and have some fun.

Details are as follows:

23 June
Cashmere Avenue School Hall, Khandallah, Wellington
Three Rounds
1600 Points
$25 (Earlybird)/$30

If you only play one Fantasy event this year, make sure it is "Warhammer Achievements".

A big thanks to Steve for letting me use his concept, Players Pack and scenarios.

Monday, April 23, 2012

8th Edition Rule Changes Redux - The 1" Rule

The 1” rule was one of the rules that caught people out with 8th Edition was first introduced. Either they forgot to do it when they deployed or they didn’t take it into account when they moved and manoeuvred their units. Now it is pretty much second nature to everybody when they deploy and finish their movement but is still sometimes forgotten when moving.

The easiest way that I have thought of to remember it, is that EVERY unit (friend or foe), every building and every piece of impassable ground has a 1” bubble around it that you must not enter unless charging.

Like all GW mechanisms you can always find a grey area. By the letter of the rules every board edge is impassable and therefore a case can be made that you can’t go within 1” of the board each. I haven’t seen this played – and I believe it opens up a can of worms if you try to play a 1” exclusion zone around board edges. [As an aside, remember fleeing units are destroyed as they leave via a board edge triggering potential panic checks on units within 6” of a unit when it hits the edge].

So how do I think the 1” rule has impacted the game? Well I certainly think it has cleaned up a lot of charges now units have to be an inch apart. It’s important to know how it impacts on overruns and pursuits as unless you are going into contact that 1” must be adhered to. Also that spacing makes measuring spaces far more intuitive as you now the minimum distance must be 1”.

This makes charges against multiple units a much less common thing – and where they do occur they seem easier to resolve – again cleaning the game up.

Rule Change: B+

[One thing that causes me to smile is that it is clear that GW has instituted this rule to tidy things up by putting a clear separation between units. However, you’ll still get O&G players insisting their base size is 1 ¼” so that they can position it to hit two units. I'd expect that from Dwarfs but I thought O&G players had more pride! Yep, GW created a new base size just to allow them to circumvent the 1” rule. At least put it on a 40mm and acknowledge you are being gamey buggers]

Ogres - A Nicon Variant

Over the weekend I had two games with my Ogres, looking at a list to use potentially at NiCon. The NiCon restricts Ogres to one Ironblaster and six Mournfang (go figure) so my usual list requires some changes.

Essentially, I took:


8 Bulls - FC
8 Ironguts – FC and Std of Discipline

6 Maneaters
2 Mournfang
4 Mournfang – Std, Muso, Dragonhide Banner
3x 1 Sabretusks


Friday, April 20, 2012

8th Ed Rule Changes Redux - Stepping Up/Supporting Attacks

I’m going to start with what I think is an easy one.

Under 7th Edition if you charged in you got to strike first and if you managed to kill the whole front rank you took no attacks back. This was great for units like DoC Fiends, Wood Elf Wardancers or especially Chaos Knights where they could inflict a surgical strike hoping to break the unit on the charge. As long as you scored more than 5 kills the unit was going to be taking a break test.

Fast forward to 8th and the introduction of Stepping Up and more encompassing Supporting Attacks. We now have a brave new world where killing the front rank doesn’t necessarily protect you from return attacks. As long as you have models that can move into the spaces of those killed, you get to hit back – and generally with a second rank.

This radically shifted the power to the infantry block. Suddenly those units of 5 Chaos Knights weren’t going to smash the holes in the lines that up until had been their modus operandi. The units had to get bigger to be able to sustain casualties to engage in the grind that eventually would win the combat. This was exasperated by the introduction of Steadfast that rewarded those extra ranks in the infantry block.

The uber-skirmisher units – wardancers, plague censer bearers, squig hoppers – all disappeared from the game, which was probably an unexpected consequence of the change. They did need their powers wound back but in a lot of cases were no longer viable – particularly given their high cost. The only skirmishers you see now are the shooty death merchants – gutter runners, flamers, shades, waywatchers – that can do their damage at distance. The only fighty skirmisher is the Dryad and I think that is a combination of theirrelatively cheap cost (12 points), high Initiative and two attacks.

Overall, I think that the introduction of Stepping Up and supporting attacks has been very positive for the game. With Steadfast it moved the balance to the infantry block and got the fulcrum with cavalry just about right. The area where it perhaps overshot was in relation to combat skirmishers.

Rule Change: B+

Painting the Mortis Engine

Last week - and after enlisting Jack's help - I put together my Mortis Engine. Yes, like 99% of gamers I chose the Mortis over the Coven variant.

This weekend I'm going to paint the thing. In doing so I'm going to use some of the new Games Workshop paints and washes. By my reckoning it should be very straightforward and although I do have two games lined up, I'm hoping with 11+ hours of Prospero Burns on the iGramophone, I can get it finished by Sunday evening.

Check back on Monday for pictures. If I don't post any, badger me

State of the Edition

Last night I decided to go back through the blog to July 2010 and the release of 8th Edition to see what issues were generating noise.

Here’s a list of them:
  • Horde Formation
  • 1” Rule
  • Change to the Victory Point System
  • Stepping Up in Combat
  • Steadfast
  • (Un)Predictability of Magic
  • TLOS
  • Random Charges
  • Pre-measuring
  • Scenarios
  • Changes to Terrain

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to look at them (in no particular order) and see whether the concerns were valid and whether after almost two years of 8th I believe the game is better for the changes.

Keen to get people’s input on each issue as it’s discussed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Time for a new excuse


For those of you that have been in the 40k tournament scene, you no doubt will have come across Doug Sainsbury.

For those of you who haven't, he kinda looks like this:

Even if you haven't seen him, you will have heard him; heard him crying about his painting score AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN that is.

After Battlecry, Doug dropped from 2nd place to 5th based on his painting score, and his crying reached an all time high, my god I'm surprised his tears didn't flood the north shore! Deciding enough was enough, I arranged with Doug to sit down with him over a weekend and repaint his army to try get some decent marks.

Last weekend that finally happened :) Doug had been down for a cricket tournament, so naturally given that cricket is a hobby/past time (NOT A SPORT) for fat lazy cravens who can't run (no wonder Jesse Ryder is so good at it), he was extremely hungover. We went into the local GW, picked up half a dozen of the new paints and a can of black spray. From there the race was on!

In a single weekend, we managed to paint 20 purifiers, 8 razorbacks, 4 psyflemen dreads, and 12 henchmen, leaving just the assassin squad and Coteaz for me to finish.

There were a few things I noticed throughout this process though - things that I had taken for granted. See, I learned to paint at the local GW, where I was perhaps no older than 13. For me, painting was always a communal thing, and I never had the struggle of learning things like brush control, paint consistency, or learning a natural order of painting in order to minimise my time and effort.

As I watched Doug labour and struggle with the tasks I set him, I could see why until now Doug took no joy from painting. He had none of the help, advice or guidance I had, and almost all the information out there assumes you know these few initial steps.
Perhaps the hilight of the entire weekend for me was watching Dougs attitude towards painting develop and progress, so that by the end of the weekend he was proud of his results, and the look of his army. He mentioned that for the first time, he could see why people enjoyed painting, and had fun over the weekend.

The tiniest amount of help was all that was required to turn someone around entirely from vehemently hating painting to wanting to do more of it. I cannot recommend enough working with other people to help better each others painting. It takes a sometimes frustrating and difficult task, and makes it significantly easier and immensely enjoyable.

The next step is for Doug to perhaps look at getting a semi regular painting group together, and this is something I recommend everyone does. If he follows through with this, his painting will go from strength to strength and I for one look forward to seeing what he comes up with in the future :)

I myself will be looking at reforming a semi-regular group painting effort I think, it provides motivation, inspiration, and rapid development. Email me if you're interested!

Hopefully over the next week or two I can convince Doug to send through some photos, otherwise you'll just have to wait until Nicon :)

- Charlie

Something Stirs In the Chaos Wastes

The drums are beating that Warriors of Chaos will be the next Fantasy book off the rank.

This would fit with the upcoming “Summer of Chaos” where Games Workshop renounce the mistakes of the past and brand Thorpe for the heretic he was. The Remembrancers will elevate Pete Haines to Godhood and his legacy will be venerated with a new Chaos Legion codex that ushers in a wonderful new era of 40k. An era where the sins of Thorpe’s heresy are laid bare for all.

But I digress.

A new Warriors book should prove an easy write as there is not too much wrong with the book. You can generate a number of builds that are competitive though after four years there is a certain sameness to the various building blocks. A Marauder army is viable as is one centred around knights and warriors, as is a Chosen anvil etc……

They have a few bad matchups – Skaven springs to mind – but this can usually be addressed by pursuing different Magic lores (e.g. Rats hate Fire). They also have great matchups – here Ogres is an obvious example – so you will typically see Warrior armies towards the mid to top tables at most events. Where they can struggle is in mobility and I expect we’ll see this area get some love in the new book.

Which leads onto new models. I think we can bank on a plastic kit for Dragon Ogres (with probably a Chaos Ogre option to make it a dual kit), a plastic Shaggoth and a plastic Warshrine. There are no models for Forsaken and I have never seen any proxies on the table so it is a fair bet that we’ll see a re-jig of their rules and perhaps a dedicated kit. The Marauder kit could also do with an upgrade.

From a rules point of view I can see them going two or three ways with respect to Magic. Continue with their own lores, remove the Chaos lores or put in place new marked lores for Tzeentch, Nurgle and Slaanesh that will also cover updated Daemons of Chaos.

Power level? The current book is fine and fits in well with the 8th Edition books.


Wargames Supply Faced An Uphill Battle

Wellington has two wargaming retailers. It has a Games Workshop Hobby Centre in a cinema complex and Wargames Supply next to a prominent foodcourt. Wargames Supply has announced that it will be closing at the end of the month. By my reckoning the shop opened in early 2007 so it has been in operation about 5 years. Those five years must have been five of the worst possible year’s to be a wargaming retailer with the GFC and especially the high level of the NZ Dollar.

The shop has done remarkably well against this background. When it first opened the NZD was around 0.38-0.40 pence and it is now well ensconced above 0.50. I remember thinking that if they lasted six months they would be doing well. That they have lasted this long is testimony to the resolve of the owners.

To give you an idea of the inequities they worked under – and leaving GW aside for the moment – they are currently selling off their stock at 20%. Yesterday I went in and bought a number of Gale Force Nine buildings. Gale Force Nine are owned by New Zealand’s Battlefront, manufacturing their product in Malaysia.

The item I bought cost $43.00 which, with the 20% off, I got for $34.40. I could buy the same item from Maelstrom Games for $31.75 delivered. So even with the 20% discount I get it cheaper from Maelstrom. To demonstrate the ludicrousness of this situation, consider how the identical product gets to me. From Wargames Supply it is Malaysia to Auckland to Wellington, whereas from Maelstrom it goes Malaysia to the UK to Mansfield to New Zealand to Wellington. Charitably it travels three times the distance and goes through at least two extra pairs of hands. At full price the difference is over 25% (and a world tour), whereas with the closing down sale the product still is 5% cheaper but still gets its holiday.

Is it any wonder that an outlet like Wargames Supply struggled?

The customer base for wargaming products is sophisticated and internet savvy. The product is a commodity and people will balance price versus convenience when making their purchasing decision. I suggest that available price differentials have outweighed the convenience factor over the past five years.

I wish the owners of Wargames Supply well and thank them for have provided me with a choice.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

No KFC-Cav in This Man's Empire

I absolutely loathe the new GW Empire Demigryph Cavalry. I loathe the concept, I loathe the fluff and I loathe the models. The thought of knights riding the cross between an ostrich and a goat is just so full of fail. But like everybody who has read the Empire book I can see Monstrous Cavalry being a solid addition - especially for an all mounted Empire army I'm keen to try.

So I’m going to make my own Demigryph Cavalry. However rather than the chicken-riding knights mine will be Knights of the White Wolf mounted on large slavering wolves. I have just ordered four Space Wolf Thunderwolves and will use those as the mounts. To me it makes more sense than men riding chickens into battle. I’m unsure as to the riders yet. I have some current Empire Knight models and will see whether using the White Wolf sprue I can make suitable riders. If that doesn’t work I’ll look at sourcing demigryph riders from a bits supplier.

Wolves are ordered so expect to see some conversions up in the next few weeks.

Special Characters at Call to Arms

The word is that Call to Arms this year is going to allow Special Characters for Warhammer Fantasy. This will be a departure from the majority of New Zealand tournaments over the past 5-6 years. From memory only the old Games Workshop Grand Tournaments and Hamilton’s “Over the Top” have let the named characters out (I think there was one Conquest that also did so).

My understanding is that, in line with the SCGT comp, there will be a list of race specific restrictions. This is intended to remove the more game-breaking from the event. Expect to see Thorek, Teclis, The Masque, Blue Scribes on this list and restrictions around the use of others e.g. Khalida may not join an archer unit larger than 50 etc.

I think it will be an interesting exercise to see how some of the others affect the game. I suspect that we’ll see quite a few of the Hero level characters e.g. the TK construct guy, Kohril and a few of the Lords as well – perhaps Thrott and certainly Manfred vC. I’m tempted to give my Tomb Kings a run led by Arkhan the Black – Level 5 Death Mage – just for the novelty value of using a Special Character.

Makes for an interesting twist.

The Battle Bunker Retail Model

I read over the weekend that one of Australia’s main gaming venues, Realm of Legends closed its doors. This venture was originally set up as a shop around 2007-08 and sometime in 2009-10 expanded into a bricks and mortar operation in Croydon, Melbourne. In addition to its product offering it provided 50 gaming tables on-site and was used by local gamers and TOs for events.

I certainly don’t know the ins-and-outs of their decision to close but I do believe that it demonstrates just how difficult survivability is in the gaming retail sphere. As an outsider I suspect that one of the biggest hurdles that they would have faced was getting over the price disparity between onshore Australian prices and the price product can be sourced offshore. This isn’t just GW-specific but applies to other manufacturers as well.

Part of the problem is that a gaming retailer is no different from a bookseller or (in past days) a CD/DVD store. They are selling a commodity. There is no difference in a GW boxset regardless of where you purchase it from. It therefore comes down to questions of price, delivery and ancillary services – such as gaming space.

It seems that Realm of Legends were banking on the second two to overcome the serious disadvantage that they had versus offshore suppliers for the first. Rather than address the problem with the first, GW sought to erect the “Berlin Wall” which is really just papering over the cracks rather than solving the underlying issue. Other manufacturers seem to ignore it as well but their fanbois accept it because they are part of a crusade against the evil empire.

However, my impression is that gamers generally will think with their wallets and buy where they can get things cheapest. Unfortunately a lot of gamers will have no compunction at all, turning up to venues like Realm and use their tables as their local gaming facility while using models sourced from elsewhere.

If the business model doesn’t work in a city like Melbourne (population: 4 million), then there is definitely something wrong with that model – or parts of its inputs e.g. pricing.

It will be interesting to see whether other Australian retailers following the “battle bunker” model continue to survive against such headwinds.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Viz Does Games Workshop

It's Friday here is some Viz fun for your enjoyment. Click on the image to expad.

More Thoughts on the Games Workshop Embargo

The next tournament on the horizon is the Horned Rat Gobbo which will take place in three weeks time. At the moment 26 people have signed up which means that it will rival the recent Runefang in size.

This ‘break” gives me a little more hobbytime and over the past week I have put together some of the new Vampire Counts models ready for undercoating. Four new characters – Wraith, Banshee, Necromancer, Wight King – Terrorgheist, Mortis Engine and 8 Crypt Horrors have been made so far with 4 Vargheists, 10 Black Knights and 5 Hexwraiths to go. I’ve also got 90 Mantic zombies en route. This will take the army to well over 4000 points and give me all the 8th Edition options. This will be my main painting project this winter.

I also have 8 Necropolis Knights for the Tomb Kings to paint.

Convoy of Blockade Breaking Ships Carrying Undead Kits Sets Sail For NZ

The upswing in buying of GW product is purely a function of dealing with a reliable offshore source where the cost including shipping is approximately 55% NZ RRP. Ironically this is cheaper than I was buying my kits from Maelstrom Games and Wayland Games prior to the GW-imposed Rest of the World embargo [and the service is faster too].

Not that the locals are missing out. Thanks to Tim from Tronhammer, I splashed out for the new Empire Book at Mark One in Hamilton and on Monday I picked up 25 of the new paints from the local Games Workshop Hobby Centre.

All this is a longwinded way of saying that I’m still curious just how good the ROW embargo is for Games Workshop. None of the Vampire or Tomb King purchases would have happened without access to product at a similar price to the rest of the world. And without those purchases I wouldn’t have need those new Games Workshop paints. In the end Games Workshop has sold more because I was able to circumvent their blockade. The extent of my spend for the first three months would have been the new Vampire Counts and Empire books plus the Vampire Magic Cards. Instead the company has sold 10x that.

I can’t help thinking Games Workshop plc is better off as a result.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vargheists or Crypt Horrors?

So last night I’m sitting down at the table and I have the first of three boxes of Vargheists/Crypt Horrors unboxed in front of me. My first instinct is to make up the Vargheists as they look far the nicer models. However having once made up a unit of Sepulchral Stalkers, only to have to retro-fit them back to Necropolis Knights, I decide I should do some reading first.

A quick perusal of the net suggests that Crypt Horrors are the new hotness (Evidence: TWF thread “Are Crypt Horrors Broken?) but there is a school of thought – coming out of Europe - that Vargheists may be under-rated. So let’s look at the rules for the two units.


WS 4 Str 5 To 4 I 4

Special Rules: Fly, Frenzy, Vampiric

Crypt Horrors

WS 3 Str 4 To 5 I 2

Special Rules: Poison, Regen (5+)

On the face of it, Vargheists appear more “hitty” with 4 Str 5 attacks at WS 4 and higher initiative. The higher WS won’t make them any more resilient so the To 4 with no save is worrying. The inclusion of Frenzy creates a further problem as it makes them very unreliable unless you deploy them close to your command – General and BSB – so they aren’t led a merry dance around the board. The Fly rule is good in potentially getting them in to the right target however after the first hit they are really off the leash, forced to pursue etc.

Crypt Horrors appear to be the opposite, an anvil unit that due to WS3 and Str 4 fails to hand out much damage. This may be misleading – because as I found at the weekend – the Vampiric Lore has two spells that act as force multipliers. These are “Vanhels” which gives you the ability to re-roll misses and “Unholy Vigour” which allows you to re-roll “to wound” rolls. It is likely that you will get one of these through which changes the dynamics considerably. A second chance to roll a poison hit in part gets around both the lower WS and the lower Str, while the re-roll to wound greatly enhances damage output.

Given this – and a 8 point cost differential in favour of the Horrors – it is hard to see why you would take Vargheists over Horrors. The extra points will likely pay for a Spirit Host or an ethereal character, both of which should prove very useful. In both cases, current gaming wisdom has both units at between 6-8 models. This seems sensible as it maximises the efficiency of any buffs you look to use.

I’d be keen to better understand how the Europeans are getting increased utility out of a Vargheist unit over the Horrors as I am clearly missing something. As it currently stands, all three boxes will be made up as Crypt Horrors.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

NatCon - A Tired Old Lady?

Prior to Natcon I posted my thoughts that I was disappointed with the numbers attending this year’s event. In the end there were 104 people who attended the event, a figure well down on previous NatCons.

Since I returned to wargaming in 1998, I have attended five NatCons – two in Hamilton (2000, 2012) and three in the Hutt (2004, 2007, 2010). I have played three different systems – 15mm Ancients (2000), 40k (2004) and Fantasy at the last three I attended. I think that gives me a reasonably solid basis on which to comment.

This year’s NatCon was the smallest and least “impressive” as a spectacle of the five that I have attended. Participation compared very unfavourably to the others I attended, all of which had 150+ competitors. What struck me most was that the major participant numbers were in the genres that least needed NatCon as a vehicle – the GW games, Warmachine/Hordes and Flames of War. Each of these games has a plethora of tournaments over the course of the year and to be frank NatCon (as it played out) was just one more event they have the option to attend. In this, the other gamers – largely historical, have more to lose than the participants in the systems named.

For me this year, while the gaming was great, the NatCon experience left a bit to be desired. There was one (possibly two) trade stands, no food on offer at the venue and extremely poor lighting in the hall. The inability to take drinks (other than water) into the venue and the prohibition on any food in the hall made for a pretty disappointing environment. When this was backed with plastic sheeting taped to the floor – surely more of a hazard than a few food wrappers – well, colour me less than impressed.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time but that was in spite of the gaming environment and the low level of participation. Certainly if the same environment was offered up again as a tournament venue, I would choose not to attend. I thought it was that unappealing.

With regard to the low numbers; well, it might be cyclical, it might be economic, it might be that there are too many alternatives on offer. In fact, it may be people have voted with their feet after attending previous conventions if they offered the same environment.

However I think there are two other things to consider. Firstly, $100 to attend from six weeks out is not going to encourage many people to make the decision to attend “close” to the event. Gen Y and Gen Z are renowned for long term decision-making so this might need to be considered in future. Secondly, are we seeing the death of either the 3 day or the long weekend event? People have more calls on there time these days and three days over a long weekend is probably becoming harder to reconcile. I suspect that there might be more appetite for a 2 day event with the opportunity of a third day gaming if you want it.

The key observation is, however, whatever the reason Natcon needs to be more appealing if it expects to remain relevant.

Fantasy - 2000 vs. 2400 Points

Last weekend’s NatCon Warhammer Fantasy event was played at 2000 points. This was at odds with the more common 2400 point competitions that have been the norm here in New Zealand (and overseas) for the past 18 months.

There is no doubt that 2000 points produces a different game to 2400 points. Characters have a little bit less protection or a few less toys or both. The same goes for units. They are smaller, less kitted out or there a fewer of them. This leads to a game that can be broken open more easily but also swings more easily.

I would suggest that the game is more exciting at 2000 points than at the larger size. This is because of these swings where losses more quickly put a unit’s viability into question.

The biggest concern that I have with 2000 point games is that some races seem more viable at the level than others. Some armies e.g. Tomb Kings, probably old Empire, need the extra 400 points to make them competitive. One of the things I like about the game at the moment is that pretty much any army competes at 2400 points.

My thoughts are that in the long run I’m happier to have a broader range of armies viable so that everybody is competitive than only 5-6 viable races viable but with potential for a more exciting game.

What are your thoughts?

  • Is the game more exciting at 2000 points?
  • Are more armies viable at 2400 points?
  • Where is the “sweet spot”?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Skaven Holiday in the Tron

Over the weekend, Jack, Tom and I attended Natcon in Hamilton. Tom and I flew up to Auckland and met Jack and Dave Foster who drove us south to the Waikato. We had booked a unit with Phil Comins and Hamish Forbes for the three day event.

I published my Skaven list on Thursday - Bell unit, Slaves, Gutter Runners, HPA, WLC - and fell that it would be quite competitive given it was 2000 points. It lacks combat punch but is strong in magic and shooting, and importantly is very miserly in giving up points.

Day One was not Swiss Chess. The umpire had matched up people to ensure those from the same locale did not play one another. Days Two and Three (Rounds 4 to 8) were all seeded on battle points.

Rather than go through an exhaustive game by game breakdown I thought I'd post my results and then make some observations about the games.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Someone's At the Door!!

This weekend I am using my Skaven at Natcon. As previously mentioned it is 2000 points which is different from the norm for the local tournament scene.

Given I’ve been playing the Skaven pretty much for the past2.5 years I thought I’d take variant lists in 2012. My normal list has the Plague Furnace at the centre of it backed by a unit of Plague Monks. At Runefang I tried the two Seer list and didn’t particularly enjoy it. This list won’t work at 2000 points – 20 points isn’t enough to preserve two seers – so I thought I tried another variant to my norm at NatCon.

So here is what I am using:

Seer – Screaming Bell, Skalm, Earthing Rod

BSB – Standard of Discipline
Engineer – Level One, Dispel Scroll
Engineer – Level One, Warp Energy Condenser, Doomrocket

40 Clanrats – Full Command with Poisoned Wind Mortar
3x 39 Slaves – Muso
2x 5 Giant Rats and Packmaster

2x 9 Gutter Runners – Poison, Slings

Warplightning Cannon
Hellpit Abomination – Warpstone Spikes

List is a bit more zappy than the regular list I’ve been using, sacrificing a bit of hand-to-hand. It is missing some of the staples – naked Engineers, Brass Orb, Storm Banner – you usually see but hopefully giving me enough “rattiness” to enjoy eight games.

Expect to see the Bell ringing at max. power throughout the weekend.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The New Paints

When I first heard that GW was replacing their paint range my thoughts were “That’s nice, there will be more choice in future”. I certainly didn’t see it as some vast conspiracy rendering all my current paints useless as some on the net would have you believe. My current paints are mostly Vallejo Game Colour, supplemented by GW Foundation Paints and GW Washes. So it was unlikely to affect me in the short term.

Now that I have had some time to read/listen to – independent – reviews, I suspect that this may impact me more than I thought. The breadth of the range of GW Basecoats is quite staggering. Whereas the Foundation Paints were muted/dirty, the Basecoats provide a much brighter base on which to paint. I can see myself buying 15-20 of these Basecoats cover the primary colours and their first derivatives e.g. Reds, Blues, Yellows, Greens, Browns, some lighter Greys and of course Ceramite White.

I can’t see myself jumping into many of the GW Layer paints until my current supply of Vallejo are exhausted. Even then I am more likely to continue with the Vallejo paints as I prefer the dropper bottles to GW’s pots. I’m sure there will be the odd GW colour that fills a gap in their previous range that I will buy but that will likely be the exception.

The other impact will be with regard to Washes. I use Ogryn Flesh, Gryphone Sepia, Badab Black and of course Devlan Mud. Early on I’ll have to find the equivalent.

Two things I’m interested in: Will the new Basecoats taste as bad as the current Foundation paints? And will the new Washes stink like the current Devlan Mud?

The Problem with Natcon

So NatCon starts on Friday and continues through to Sunday. Fantasy has drawn a disappointing field in terms of numbers – only 14 – put given it is New Zealand’s only three day event I am keen on its uniqueness.

The first NatCon was held in 1975 in Wellington. I remember going to the 1982 event in the Hutt where I played 15mm Ancients. In those days the tournaments were generally knockout with informal gaming for those who were eliminated early. They were multi-system conventions heavily slanted to historicals. NatCon was typically one of three conventions – the others being Call to Arms, Nicon – held each year. There were other events run by AWC and CWS but I remember the Nats, Nicon and CTA as the big three. They were also incredible pissing contests as there were so few events….this was serious business. As a teenager I was pretty intimidated by the whole scene.

When I returned to NatCon in 2002 – also playing 15mm Ancients – the scene had changed somewhat. Natcon was still very big but the three main events were 15mm Ancients, 40k and WHFB. Tournaments had shifted to the Swiss Chess format and some of the mainstays of the 1970s – WW2, Moderns, Horse and Musket – were struggling to get double figures. The thing was still incredibly political – wargaming was still serious business – with wannabe National Bodies, backroom bidding deals etc. NatCon was still a big deal as there was still a limited number of alternative events.

Fast forward a dozen years to today. NatCon looks more and more like a faded madam on the national scene. The last decade has seen the rise of the independent tournament organiser and the number of events has grown significantly. I will typically run 5-7 events a year for instance. Rather than conventions the other major change is that these new events are single focus and will attract 20+ participants.

So what does that mean for NatCon? Well I think that there needs to be a re-think of the event. It is no longer the 70s and for a lot of people Natcon is no longer an “event”, it is just another tournament. Following on from this I believe that there is a reduced appetite to spend three days gaming. The call of families and other attractions makes the commitment of three days of the last big holiday weekend until Xmas less appetising.

I’m sure there would be howls from the traditionalists but to a certain extent it is not the “old school” that pays the bills. The big four systems at the event are 40k, Fantasy, Flames of War and Warmachine, and I suspect they don’t view Natcon through the rose coloured glasses that those that insist that it must be 3 day and offer a plethora of periods do.

I really think NatCon is at a crossroads and unless it adapts to the “new market” it will continue to lose relevance.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Caveat Emptor

Just over a year ago I purchased a Forgeworld Great Unclean One off New Zealand’s eBay equivalent, Trademe. The cost was about 70% of the price that it would have cost to buy direct from Forgeworld. It came on a Forgeworld bag, all the pieces were there etc.

I painted up the model and you can see the finished product.

A couple of weeks later my interest was piqued, when after buying a Forgeworld Keeper of Secrets from the same buyer, I saw that he was selling two more Great Unclean Ones. Checking his other sales I saw that he had multiple auctions of a limited range of Forgeworld figures. I’m naturally a suspicious type and thought that it was extremely unlikely that a private buyer had purchased three Great Unclean Ones from Forgeworld, given the cost.

There had increasingly been stories of Forgeworld getting burnt when they shifted some production to the Far east and I thought that this might be the remnants of some of this product.

Fast forward a year. Yesterday a parcel turned up at my place with a number of figures in it. Check out the following:

Games Workshop’s Khemri Warsphinx. So what? Well you’re right it is the Tomb King Warsphinx but instead of plastic the whole model is made of resin! Now unless I’m mistaken Games Workshop haven’t shifted the Sphinx to Finecast.

The model arrived bagged up – solid body – separate legs – head jaws, etc. It came with the howdah and the Tomb Prince/King. Assembly was 15-20 minutes, very little flash and in fact all it required was the removal of resin pouring lugs. Here is a close up of the detail.

And what was the cost of this figure? Well the local RRP for the Khemri Warsphinx is NZ$98. This model cost US$18 (NZ$22). This is less than a quarter of the price.

So here is clear evidence that Games Workshop is facing a piracy problem. This is not some poor quality home casting but a sophisticated copy of their IP. I am now suspicious that the Forgeworld figures I purchased last year were in fact sourced from a similar facility and then sold on the local auction site.

So the upshot is caveat emptor - “let the buyer beware”. Be sure that when you use an auction site that you know what you are paying for. To be honest in this case – and as the owner of two Games Workshop plastic Khemri Warsphinx – I can see little difference in quality between the authentic and the “copy”. The major difference is in the heft of the figure.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Empire's New Clothes

For me the new Empire Book is pretty important in the context of Warhammer Fantasy battles.

Under 8th Edition The Empire had become a very competitive army that had various tools to make it a strong all-rounder e.g. difficult to shift units, a strong magic defense, access to a breadth of spell decks, solid warmachines, cheap characters, flyers (through the Captasus) etc.

Where other races had the hard edges knocked off their list builds The Empire was generally restricted by a warmachine cap and by a limit to a single Steam Tank. Crucially it had the best warmachine, the Great Cannon, in the Special slot and a workaround that transferred Flagellants from Rare to Core.

So the past 18 months have been a golden time for The Empire. Whereas they had previously been an uncommon army, now they regularly populate the top tables. Here in Wellington, Jack has won Homecon I and Runefang V with them in the past six months.

However one thing that was evident was that more and more with The Empire there was a single build. Yes, some people might use Swordsmen while others used halberdiers, there might be variation in the choice of lores, but the army typically was:

Arch Lector on War Altar

BSB in 1+ Armour on Barded Horse with Stubborn Banner

Level 4

Pegasus Captain with Casket

Level 1 Scroll Caddy

Big block of State Troops

Bunker unit for Wizards

Large unit of Knights

2 Cannons

Steam Tank

Other units as per General's individual preference.

Every competitive list looked like this. Every one.

Why this new book is important is that we will see if Games Workshop can provide a variety of competitive builds rather than the single one we see now. For it to be a success it must challenge some of the current 1+ choices while giving a leg up to those currently not seen. And it must do this while not adjusting its overall power too much.

If you take the four books released in 8th Edition to date - Orcs and Goblins (small boost), Tomb Kings (static), Ogre Kingdoms (big boost) and Vampires (too soon but likely moderate decline) - the power levels have looked to balance towards the centre. The Empire was just above this centre - but one-dimensional. This is not an exact process and depends on the local meta and whether any comp levers are pulled.

I am heartened that there have been some howls over the weekends as more information is released. This suggests that a few sacred cows have been sacrificed which will see the army re-balanced but importantly remove 1+ options. This means post-release all options in the book will be considered as the "new" build is determined. Hopefully, this will take years and even then not full coalesce as GW have got things right.

The devil as they say, will be in the detail. I'm excited about this release.

March - A Record Month

March 2012 was a record month for Fields of Blood.

It was the first month where we exceeded 20,000 hits, surpassing our previous best December 2011 by 2000 hits. This means the site is getting 700 hits a day.

Thanks to everyone who checks in to see what we've been up to in this wonderful hobby.

The Weekend That Was

Okay, we’ve got April Dwarfs Day out of the way.

Suffice to say neither Charlie nor I will be building a Dwarf army. And Jack has confirmed that he won’t be using Mantic Space Dwarfs for a Squat army.

On Saturday afternoon I had a game with Ben and his Dark Elves. At 2000 points Dark Elves are a great army and I was surprised how much Ben had fitted in – Lvl 4, Lvl 2, Cauldron BSB, 25 Corsairs with Frenzy Banner, 20 Witch Elves with Flaming Banner, 20 Black Guard, 2x 10 xbow, 2 units of Harpies , Hydra and a unit of Shades. Ben was unlucky in the game with his Witch Elves failing two charges – one required 2D6 roll of “8” (he was full strength) and the other of “6” when down to 3 models.

I took the Lore of Plague on my Seer and in retrospect I think that this was the wrong choice. Lore of Ruin would have been far more useful against his set up. The Hydra chewed through two units of Slaves and the harpies got the WLC. I was able to pick up the Witches, one unit of xbow, both harpies, the Shades and the Cauldron. The Level 1 was reduced to Level 0 then died from a Level 4 miscast.

Over the course of the three evenings I built the Fortress of Redemption, the Fortified Manor and the Town House (Tabletop World). They are now downstairs ready to be spray undercoated. The Fortress is truly an impressive piece of terrain and I’m looking forward to painting it up.

Apart from that participants at Fields of Blood got the first update with Players Pack and Presentation Scoring Checklist. I also sent out a reminder to a lot of past participants that only 20 tickets were left and there has been an influx of sales. Certainly expect the “Sold Out” sign to go up prior to the event.

Horned Rat/Gobbo V has also seen an influx of registrations and now looks like it will at least be the size of Runefang with between 25-30 participants.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Even More Empire Pictures

The War Altar (Stubborn but no longer Unbreakable)

The Celestial Hurricanium (Mobile Weatherstation)

The Luminark (Freakin' Laser)

New Empire Rules

From the Empire Forums:


  • Regular knights have dropped by 2pts and there will be mounted Reiksguard knights at 27pts. They are like normal Inner Circle knights but also stubborn.   
  • Griffons down to 170pts 
  • Also all statetroops except spearmen have gone up 1 points (including crossbows, handgunners and Greatswords).  
  • Detachment rule: Detatchments now counts for the same pointscost as the parent unit (for example core, special etc.) They gain the same special rules as the parent unit (stubborn, stupidity etc) and also get the same prayer as the parent unit.  
  • Mortars will be S2(6) big plate and get a 33% point increase as well. 
  • Great cannon gets a 20% point increase. 
  • Steam tank  now T6, 1+ AS. Works differently with a steam engine misfire chart. It moves d6 random move per steampoint used up to 5 and causes d6+d3 per steampoint impact hits.  The effectivness of the main cannon and the steam gun is dependant on how many steampoints you spend on it that turn. the steamtank moves D6 random move per steam point (so it could in theory charge 30") and it does D6+D3 per steampoint impact hits    
  • Priests dont generate dispel dice anymore, though they can channel both power and dispel dice.  
  • Their prayers though  are much better: One that makes the whole unit reroll wounds. One that gives the unit 5++ in closecombat, and then we have old soulfire that now gives flaming attacks to the unit and damages models in base contact with the priest  
  • Witchhunters get some sort of assassin type role in the army i guess. After deployment you pick a model to "accuse of heresy!" and then the witchhunter will be extra strong against that model  
  • Engineers can now either pass their BS to 1 war engine per turn OR reroll a dice  
  • The rules for sacrificing flagellants have been remade so they can get +1T instead of that +1 combat resolution  
  • Helstrom rocketbattery will fire D3 S3 small templates and fire like a normal stonethrower except always indirect fire.  
  • Runefang is still in the book at 85pts 
  • Helm of the Ratslayer. Fear to everyone, Terror to Skaven but Skaven hate the model wearing it. 15pts 
  • AOMI 1+AS and 6++ for 50points 
  • Griffonbanner same for 60pts 
  • Steel Standard. ignore -1"  movement from barding and reroll 1's on the charge, flee and pursue 
  • Mace of Helstrum 50pts 
  • Van Horstmans Speculum 40pts 
  • Ring of Volans 30/40 points 
  • White Cloak redone and 50pts  

So more info available. Discuss!

A New Challenge and A Change of Direction

Charlie and I was talking during the week about getting a new spark into our wargaming. For me Skaven and Ogres don't do it anymore and for him he's found he's been going through a plethora of armies - Orks, Necrons, Space Wolves - and nothing really seems to capture his soul.

Tossing around ideas we realised that neither of us had ever built or played with probably the key Warhammer army - Dwarfs. And so after reading through the army book we came up with a challenge - to each build a Dwarf army to play at Call to Arms.

To help us on our path to achieve our goal we have decided that Fields of Blood will have a change in direction. Instead of being a general warhammer/40k blog it will dedicate itself to exploring the nuances and techniques of building and playing a Dwarf army.

Expect lots of painting advice on painting Dwarfs from Charlie and I'll be trying to get my head around the subtleties of playing the little men.

There will be grumbling!