Saturday, May 25, 2013

New Podcast - The Watchtower

Just like every monkey with a keyboard can write a blog, it seems every geek with a mixer and a mic can create a podcast. Over the past year we have seen far more being produced - to the point where I currently have 18 subscriptions in Instacast for GW programming. This is even after a recent cull. It is now got to the stage where the availability of "free" content has seriously curtailed my Horus Heresy audiobook listening.

One of the most recent is The Watchtower podcast out of Sydney, Australia - the name is unfortunate as they share it with a lot of Jehovah Witness multimedia. The presenters are three members of the Sydney gaming scene and have, it appears between 6 months and 3 years Warhammer Fantasy experience. I don't personally know the guys - my Oz tournament days ended in 2010 just as these guys were starting.

What I enjoy about podcasts is getting an appreciation of a different scene's meta. In the case of Australia and New Zealand, 8th Edition has seen a massive divergence from a previous close alignment. By way of background, I largely stopped travelling to play in Oz due to their reliance on subjective - usually panel based composition system. The australians are slowly coming around to hard cap systems but the process has been slow and certainly their scene is more restrictive than permissive.

So with that background in place, onto the podcast. To date there have been two episodes. The first was an introduction to the presenters followed by a review of their performance at a recent tournament. The second was a review of the recent Daemon Book release.

The initial episode was a good start. Production values seem okay. There were initial problems downloading but these were soon rectified. I liked the introduction by Nick and Mick and you knew pretty quickly that you were listening to an Australian podcast. As a gross generalisation, there are no grey areas with Australians - and the podcast is very black and white. New Zealanders tend to find Aussies very opinionated and this podcast certainly leaves you in no doubt as to where they stand on every issue. This is not a bad thing, it certainly makes for interesting listening but there is a risk that things can be seen in overly simplistic terms. Tournament reviews are hard to do well on a podcast. You need to avoid the "then I rolled a 6" aspect which doesn't make great listening. However The Watchtower did this no better or worse than other podcasts out there. With tournament review I personally prefer to hard very short synopsis of the games and then a more in-depth review of what worked and why, whether this was list design strength/flaw or was symptomatic of matchups/luck/etc. Then a discussion as to whether a list needs to evolve. I'll be interested to see how TW tournament reports are handled going forward.

The second episode reinforced a lot of what I learnt on the first episode. It added a third host, Alex and then provided a long review of the new Daemons. Again there were not a lot of grey areas - something was either crap or amazing/broken. Having listened to a lot of podcasts reviewing the Daemons there wasn't a lot of new insight but that is likely a case of being later to the party than other casts.I found their review reasonably accurate - though as noted, not much inhabited middle ground. As someone currently dabbling in Daemons I think the book is very good in terms of internal and external balance. While there are obvious strengths that the cast identified I don't necessarily think that they gave enough credence to either book weaknesses or changes to meta that can immediately mitigate some of the strengths. A case in point was the focus on the strength of Skullcannons without a consideration of mitigator in the 5/10 point Dragonhelm/Dragonbane tax for characters. Similarly the emergence of High Elves (and BotWD) may dampened aspects of a DoC's tournament return over 6 rounds. All in all though I found the review interesting.

So after two episodes there has been enough on offer to make me return for future episodes. I'm keen to hear if there is progression in the Australian tournament scene and in their meta. Generally I give podcasts 4-5 episodes before I cull. On evidence to date I suspect that "The Watchtower" may be a keeper.

You can download it on iTunes, Instacast, Podcaster etc

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