Saturday, November 30, 2013

Death Guard Reinforcements Roll In

With Adepticon going to 1850 and with the Phobus Land Raider perennially out of stock, I bit the bullet and purchased a Spartan Assault Tank for my Death Guard.

I arrived home from work yesterday and there was a lovely big parcel waiting on the front step containing the Spartan and also a Demios Vindicator. My copy of "Betrayal" tells me that these were the two most prevalent tracked vehicles in the Death Guard Legion. A lot of tank crews - being of Terran birth - were wiped out on Istvaan III so tanks became scarce in the years after the cleansing.

Well this certainly is a big kit. It is all resin and you can see from the pictures that there are some solid lumps.

The kit comes in three bags - one which contains the main superstructure. Those side pieces are solid resin and over six inches long.

To give an idea of the size I have placed a WIP Legion Tactical Marine in the next shot.

So this model is going to be my main focus over the Xmas break. I'll be working on construction and then painting this beastie.

The intention is that this will be the ride for my Terminator Praetor and the Deathshroud.

Friday, November 29, 2013

"RUINATION" - Warfare On Another Level

"RUINATION" is a Warhammer Fantasy event to be held in Wellington on 18/19 January 2014.


However this is something different from the norm with 4000 point armies battling it out. Big armies, big tables, great terrain - RUINATION is a hobby event aimed at ensuring all participants have a fun weekend.

You can download the Players Pack here

Bad Dice Podcast Does the NZ Masters

Yesterday Ben Curry of Bad Dice Podcast did a daily show on the lists for the upcoming NZ Masters. You can download it from his website at

Ben went through each of the lists giving his thoughts on the relative power, strengths, weaknesses and how he thought it would go in the match ups.

His favourite for the event is Sam Campbell with Daemons of Chaos though he had a lot of love for Locky Reid's Empire and Sam Whitt's Dark Elves. He also felt that Hamish Gordon's Warriors could cause people trouble.

So Sam is now got the Kiss of Death of worldwide expectation and celebrity endorsement. It will be interesting to see how he copes under the inevitable pressure from his thousands of new fans plus the expectation.

A particular highlight of Ben's review was when he correctly identified Aucklander James Brown as "The Saddest Man in Warhammer".

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"So What Army Are You Collecting"

We've possibly all heard that question before - certainly if we've ever been into a GW Hobby Centre.

Well now I can give you the tool to answer the question. Listening to a recent Garagehammer episode they made mention of an online quiz that lets you determine which army best suits you. You can find it here

Now it is a little old - ok very old, it refers to Hordes of Chaos - but gives you the info you desire through a series of - often leading - questions.

Here is the result of my responses:

Chaos Dwarfs


Orcs and Goblins

Dogs of War


The Empire

Beasts of Chaos

Dark Elves

Tomb Kings

Wood Elves


Vampire Counts

Hordes of Chaos

Ogre Kingdoms


High elves

The higher the %, the better suited they are to you.

Given that Chaos Dwarfs aren't a real book then the results are probably not too surprising. Still it points me in the direction of what I should collect next.

Post up what army it thinks you should collect.

"Ruination" - A Goer?

I have booked a hall for the third weekend in January to run "Ruination". The intention was that it would be a big army bash with forces of 4000 points.

To make it economic I need at least 12 participants. I have been receiving some signals that this may be a stretch.

Therefore I'm asking local gamers what their preference is:

A. Ruination - 4000 points, 4 rounds, no Grand Army

B. Fellblade - 2400 points, 6 rounds

Please only vote if you intend attending or if there is a high chance you'll attend. If you go for "Fellblade" can you select a preference:

1. No Comp
2. FOB-Lite Comp
3. Swedish Comp
4. ETC Comp

I'll take feedback up to Friday evening and then make a decision.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Landspeeder Javelin for Heresy Death Guard

Last night I built my new Forgeworld Landspeeder that will be part of my Death Guard force.

It is a beautifully crisp model, wonderfully detailed and surprisingly hefty.

The variant I've built comes with Missile Pods and a Heavy Bolter. I suspect I will swap the Heavy Bolter out for a Multi-Melta.

The vehicle is crewed by two marines in Mark IV armour. I am going to see if I can swap it for Mk II Crusade or MKIII Iron Armour but I think there are slight scale differences,

The weight of the vehicle means that I'm going to have to use some magnets to attach it to the flying base.

A very nice model and a nice addition to my force, especially given its rules are included in Book 2: Massacre.

NZ Masters Predictions

Looking at the Masters lists I think it makes for a very very hard fought event but already a view things are starting to coalesce.

By far the best list on show is Locky's Empire list. This really has all the tools to take apart a lot of the other armies in offer. I know I certainly don't want to play it. Three cannons. Hell blaster. 1+ armour out the wazoo backed up with Light Council. If Locky can steer this beast in anything like the correct fashion then he'll waltz the event. However it remains a big "if".

If I was framing a book then Dan Butler would be a very short priced favourite. Clearly the best of the northerners he has the list, skills and temperament to take out this year's Masters. The only question mark is that while he can dominate northern events, he has never done it on a wet and windy Sunday in Wellington. However I have an inkling that in his home town this could be his year.

The other big chance is the reigning Master. The list he has put together has real potential to get the big wins. As always he'll be underestimated especially by the Twitterati for whom the enfant terrible remains an unknown quantity. Be warned social media junkies at 18 this is his third visit to the Masters and he is also a member of NZTC champions the Von Trapps. The only impediment is his lack if recent match practice.

As for the rest of us I think we just have to be realistic, know our role and enjoy the experience. We've all "Achieved" just by being there. But remember there are no street parades for 6th.

White Dwarf Bouquet

It's not very often that White Dwarf gets much praise from the Internet community, be it blogs, forums or social media. The magazine was relaunched last year - to dome fanfare - but quickly fell back into glorified catalogue mode.

The last few months I have done little more than flick through my subscription issues and look at the pretty pictures. I've given the new dumbed-down Battle Reports a miss and the hobby stuff - away from spruiking the latest models has been patchy to say the least.

However this month I have been pleasantly surprised. I haven't read anything up to and including the Battle Report as yet but the articles post that have been a real eye-openner. The painting showcases are inspirational while the background blurbs on new models have been very informative. There is lots oc great terrain in the photos - mostly 40k - but I spent over an hour going through just the back part of the magazine.

If you haven't bought WD for a while the November issue is a good return issue

Saturday, November 23, 2013

NZ Masters Lists Released

The twelve lists for the NZ Masters to be held in two weeks have been released and can be found here

We have:

3 Warriors of Chaos
2 Empire
2 Daemons of Chaos
1 Lizardmen
1 Chaos Dwarf
1 High Elves
1 Dark Elves
1 Skaven

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Horus Heresy's Least Likeable Character

Is there a more sanctimonious and unlikeable character in the whole Horus Heresy series that Nathaniel Garro?

 I've just finished listening to "Flight of the Eisenstein" having read it on its release and I can not stomach the pious prick. Not only is he duped by the hocus-pocus of the Imperial Creed and its "The Emperor Protects" malarkey but he has also turned his back on his battle brothers, Primarch and Legion.

What a self-righteous tool he is - obviously the character is modeled on Capt James T Kirk. In the audiobook he speaks in the same nauseating slow manner as the original Trekkie.

 He really is a weak-willed individual who deals with change by closing his mind. I hate the pompous prat of a character he is.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Kickstarter Burnout?

It seems over recent months the whole Kickstarter phenomena, as it relates to the miniatures game has started to quiet down a little bit. There are still regular new Kickstarters but the hype that surrounded the vehicle early in the year appears to have died down.

Are we seeing some Kickstarter burnout? And if so, is this coming from the manufacturers or the customers?

It is hard not to get the impression that a lot of offerings that went to Kickstarter were in fact Business as Usual looking for some pre-sales to provide the working capital. I certainly would place the first Mierce Miniatures and the Reaper Bomes in this category. And you'd definitely place all the Mantic Kickstarters there. All these ranges were scheduled for production at some time but used Kicjstarter to accelerate the process.

That's not to say that this was always the case. I think that the Secret Weapons Miniatures "Tablescapes" is a good example of a project that wouldn't have occurred without Kickstarter.

But now we have the hangover. A lot of manufacturers have their design and manufacturing capacity taken up for the foreseeable future. And they have a customer base who expects large dollops of free miniatures as the cost if their support.

It is interesting that a lot of the heat has gone out of the sector as manufacturers have scaled back the freebies and stretch goals to something more realistic. A good example is the difference between the first and second Darklands offerings from Mierce. Both supported but I certainly think the first had more buzz because it offered the customer more.

The good thing is that we haven't seen a failure of a big Kickstarter. I have supported three - Mierce, Secret Weapon and Deadzone (terrain) - and they provide regular updates on progress. Mierce has delivered over 80% of what I've ordered and the rest is following their timeline. Expecting Tablescapes and Deadzone in the next few months.

As an observer I think there has been a lot of dross delivered under the Kickstarter e.g. Bones and pretty much the majority of the Mantic stuff but the purchasers got this at a decent price.

What will be interesting is to see what 2014 delivers and whether we ever hit a failure to deliver on a major Kickstarter.

I do think we are seeing signs of burnout in the vehicle as people reassess whether the 2013 model is sustainable.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fields of Blood Honour Roll Updated

The Fields of Blood Honour Roll has been updated to include the results of 2013 Warpfire and Skitterleap.

Warpfire was a 1000 point event that use WDL scenarios and objective points. It proved very popular drawing a number of new or returning players.

Skitterleap provided a certain amount of controversy with the implementation of a checklist painting system. This has had the desired effect of increasing the focus on army presentation particularly in light of expanded awards and trophies for this aspect of the hobby.

Horus Heresy - Tangled Web Begins to Make Sense

For those of you reading the latter Horus Heresy novels and seeing all these unconnected storylines – Cabals, Perpetuals, fate of the Lion, Vulkan, Kurze and Sanguinius, as well as the numerous short stories in “Mark of Calth” – then some closure is at hand.

I have just finished Dan Abnett’s latest Horus Heresy novel “The Unremembered Empire” and it is far to say it ties together threads from at least ten different novels and novellas in one neat package. The work of the Perpetuals and the Cabal who have been wandering in and out of books as far back as “Legion” becomes far clearer and with five Primarchs converging on Macragge there is a lot of temporary closure of these story arcs.
In the “Afterword”, Abnett said it was the hardest book that he had to write given the divergent genesis of the storylines. I think he has done a great job, really enjoying the book even though my level of interest in Guilliman, the Ultramarines, Johnson and the Dark Angels is minimal. Undoubtedly the star of the show is Konrad Curze and I can’t wait until Forgeworld create a miniature of the Night Lords’ Primarch. He is a fantastic character and having enjoyed his prolonged torture of Vulkan in “Vulkan Lives”, it’s great to see him making the Salamander’s life hell again.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Adepticon Tickets Locked and Loaded

Friday New Zealand time tickets for Adepticon 2014 went on sale. After seeing the event coverage from Bad Dice this year I decided pretty early on that I was going to go in 2014.

However it has been a process fraught with no small amount of risk. Accommodation at the hotel where it is being held sold out within three days of going on sale. I took the risk of booking a room ahead of getting my flights and securing my tickets.

About a month ago I booked air travel when Air New Zealand put flights on sale securing 20 hour flights rather than the 35-40 hour trips some of the other carriers are offering. So I fly Wellington - Auckland - LA - Chicago with very little lay time. Leaving here at 5 pm on Tuesday I arrive in Chicago at 9 pm that same evening - after 21 hours in a plane.

All that was great but I still didn't have event tickets. These went on sale on Friday.

I managed to pick up the Weekend Pass, tickets to the 2-day WHFB Championships, the WHFB Teams Event and then I had to make a choice. In the end rather than play in the 1000 point WHFB events on the Thursday, I chose to sign up for the Horus Heresy Massacre event. This is a three game tournament using 1000 point and 1850 point armies. It has 32 spots and is advertised as a hobby event celebrating the Heresy setting. I had worked on the basis of a 1500 point army so now will have to add 350 points. More purchases!!!

I am playing the Teams Event with Battlefront US Head John Matthews. John was a member of the 2010-12 NZ ETC team and a good mate. I'm looking forward to it. The Championships sold out in an hour so it will be interesting to see the field that has assembled. There was talk of a British Invasion for 2014 so it'll be interesting to see if it materialises.

Obviously the blog will have full coverage from the event.

Masters Lists Submitted

So all Masters lists should now be submitted and we have thread weeks until the actual event.

Tom had a thread day extension from the Umpire as he had uni exams then had to vacate his hostel. He arrived homed last night and lodged his list this morning.

My expectation is that Umpire Carl Templeton will check them this week and we should see them released by next weekend. The Kiwihammer boys have already predicted that it will be a WoC/DoC slugfest with over half the field rocking the denizens of Chaos. Personally I expect to see the Special Character crutch out in force with 3-4 of the Masters rookies looking for them to give them the competitive boost.

Once the Umpire releases the lists I'll post them here so that you can digest them

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Slaaneshi Score

On the weekend I was lucky enough to win a Trademe auction for 30 Juan Diaz Daemonettes that local Sam Whitt had alerted me to. I was really happy with the price -$96NZD including courier.

The seller said that he'd to rough in a little extra given a few arms were missing. Imagine my surprise when I opened the parcel to find six Diaz Daemonettes on Steeds (4 NIB) and a Dark Elf Chariot chassis.


I now have over 100 of the Diaz nettes

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Games Workshop Purchasing

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a post on Games Workshop pricing. As we are all aware two and a half years ago games workshop put in place an embargo on UK retailers selling product outside the European Union.

Presumably the aim of this was to get ROW gamers to buy their GW product from their local supplier, preferably their Games Workshop Hobby centre.

For me, the upshot of this policy has been threefold. Firstly, I tend to buy less Games Workshop product. In the past I would happily drop significant sums buying the latest release albeit from a UK internet retailer. Now I am more likely to buy alternative figures – particularly Mierce and Kromlech – or Forgeworld (still GW but not embargo) or old metal GW figures (eBay/Trade Me). Overall I’d suggest my Games Workshop purchases have fallen by 80% over the two and a half year period. Secondly, my trips to my local Hobby Centre have got less and less. Over the past few years Games Workshop’s direct influence on the hobby of a veteran gamer has decreased as they focused their marketing activities on the new gamer. Whereas previously I’d direct a certain percentage of my purchases through the shop now with the advent of digital products there is little need for me to go in and get new books on the day of release. These were generally accompanied by hobby supply purchases, the odd new model or the must-have purchase; I’ve now got well and truly out of the habit.

The third thing has been to source what Games Workshop product I did buy from offshore sellers who generally offered a 30-45% discount (including postage charges). For eighteen months this was through US bits resellers who sold complete sprues. However eventually stock problems and US postal price hikes have made that less palatable. Enter NZ Post. Who would have though the NZ postal service would accommodate local gamer needs. I now own postal addresses in both the UK and the US and can access UK pricing once again. Sure GW has belatedly realised Asia-pacific pricing is out of whack and insulated us from recent price increases – see cross border relativity of Lizardmen and Dark Elves compared to earlier releases – but using UK retailers I can source my GW product from the UK for 65-75% of retail (depending on volume).

Of course all this comes at a price. And that price is instant gratification. Purchases take around 3 weeks to arrive but this has an upside as well. Gone are the impulse purchases I use to make. Now I generally wait until I have sufficient product I need and then place an order.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a niche for a local supplier willing to split the difference between offshore pricing and full NZRRP.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Yankee Doodle Dandy - The US FAQ

The US are having their first Masters this year.

The scoring system sounds like a trainwreck - five rounds unbridled Swedish Comp with your comp score counting as sixth game - but I suspect that's what you get with 5 different regions trying to settle on a system.

However they have also developed an "American FAQ" to address grey areas in the game. Again this is probably needed given the different communities.

You can read the FAQ here

I've only given it a brief perusal but it seems a pretty solid document. I've noticed at least one answer that is incorrect so I'll give it a more thorough reading over the next few days.

The Masters - Phoney War

Masters lists are due in this weekend and we are already seeing an outbreak of the Phoney War.
All sorts of games are being played on Twitter and by email, as the more insecure Masters participants try to get a handle on what the weekend holds for them. This is most obvious in the Masters rookies who – let’s face it – are just happy to get a ticket to the dance. In their most honest moments I’m sure they visit dark places where they know they will be in for a number of sound beatings over the weekend.

So we have pictures posted on Twitter of WIP models for an army not being taken. We have numerous builds being discussed trying to bluff people into thinking that some weird unit or build is being contemplated. There is talk of borrowing armies some of which they’ve never run (Tip: it will neither increase nor decrease your chances). Personally, I had 3-4 emails and 2-3 DMs from people looking to borrow armies or individual units. All this in a sad attempt to try and determine the machinations of Chez Dunn or to construct a bluff in the hope that they will be taken seriously. One particularly sad individual has asked to borrow models for three different armies such is his clear confusion ahead of list submission.
Then we have the Mathhammer battles going on if Unit A meets unit B on a hill, in a storm etc etc etc
Perhaps the saddest are the pleas on twitter and by email to regular visitors to the Dunn-geon to find out what armies they’ve faced.
Sad, sad, sad.
In the end there is only one palatable truth….It doesn’t matter what you bring!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Space Wolves - A Re-Think

A few of you may have picked up from previous posts that I am not a great fan of the misguided followers of the corpse-god. Ever since I first played 40k I’ve had a really dislike of Imperium forces (although those with long memories may recall my first army was Black Templars). I started the game when 70% of forces were Power-Armoured and at least 90% of those were loyalist – primarily Dark Angels, Blood Angels and Space Wolves.

Remember Your Flea Collar & Worm Tablets

A lot of my early games were against Hagen Kerr and his Space Wolves. I have lost count of how many times Plaguelord Colthrax and the Noiselord, Challis Drant mercilessly crushed Haakon Ironwolf and his motley pack underfoot. Seriously it must have been hundreds of times. About once in fifty games I’d let Haakon get a narrow victory and that would keep Hagen interested for another year of merciless bashings from the Death Guard and Emperor’s Children. Aaaah, fun times. Oh course it all had to end and the Destroyer in this case was Gav Thorpe and his bastard-child, 4th Ed Codex Chaos Space Marines – more accurately described as Chaos Allsorts.

So the Space Wolves bring back a mix of memories – crushing victories but also mind-numbingly boring stories of how Haakon Ironwolf once made nine 4+ Invulnerable Saves in a row, the dreadful fluff with pseudo-Viking trappings etc. I hadn’t given Space Wolves much thought lately until working through the Horus Heresy series I read “Prospero Burns”. It was okay but I never understood the attraction of large hairy men sitting around in saunas, getting drunk and eating raw meat. And I certainly didn’t want to read chapters of it. Recently I started listening to the audiobook version and I can say that it is the only HH audiobook I have given up on. Translated to audible form it was truly dire and dragged forever.

Given this history you can probably understand my reluctance when I started the latest HH book, “The Unremembered Empire”. Early on a squad of Space Wolves appear and I thought “Oh no, here we go again”. However it got me thinking about the figures that Forgeworld will produce when they get to the Space Wolves. I think they could be quite cool if they follow the description that Dan Abnett has portrayed in the book. No, not enough that I’d ever buy them but enough to at least make me interested in fighting them.

Abnett makes much of their feral nature. They sit on their haunches crunching on bones and whetting their knives. If Forgeworld could capture this aspect rather than the GW Space Vikings it would be great. The squad members are described as wearing laced leather masks, furs and almanner of totems and talismans. However the key would be the posing of the models. It would be great to see a departure from the normal SM poses and have a feral, animalistic force that captures the barely civilised nature of the corpse-god’s attack dogs. Certainly it would be a departure and I believe it is probably a step too far for most loyalist apologists but at least it would make them interesting.

Go on Forgeworld, take a step in the right direction!

Winter is Coming!

Unfortunately the Golden Summer is over. This year has seen a sustained release of Warhammer Army Books that have injected continued life and interest into the game. We’ve seen Warriors of Chaos, Daemons of Chaos, High Elves, Lizardmen and finally Dark Elves released. I’m not a huge fan of High Elves, in fact I despise the pointy-eared gits, but it is nice to have an updated book that at least gives us new units to crush. Also given the significant boost they have received – still denied by PEG apologists – it is now a challenging and more rewarding crushing of their hopes and dreams.

It's Going To Be A Hard Year Rat Brothers

But from here on in it is all downhill. The next three books are assumed to be Dwarfs, Wood Elves and Bretonnians (oh that GW would just release them as a single book called Warhammer Insignificant Armies for People Who Like to Whine About How bad Their Lot Is. Yes I know this might be a little hard on Bret players but seriously who cares). Brace yourself for 6-9 months of incessant grumbling from the handful of people interested in these armies.

It is so depressing thinking how these releases will sour what has been a great time for Warhammer. I wish I could just fast forward to the release of new Skaven and Beastmen books.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

First Draft of ETC 2014 Comp Pack

For those of you interested, here is the first draft of the ETC Comp Pack.

It has been posted for comment by the various teams

Special Character Poll Results

Yesterday I posted up a poll to see what locals thought on the inclusion of Special Characters in the FOB-Lite Comp System.

Over the intervening twenty four hour period 21 people posted a preference in the Comments section. The results can be summarised thus:

Ban Special Characters Outright - 7 votes

Allow All Special Characters with No Restrictions - 7 votes

Allow Special Characters but with some Specific Bans/Restrictions - 7 votes

I can't say I'm surprised. I did not expect there to be universal agreement. It is interesting just how distributed the responses were. The evenness of the outcome in relation to the spectrum of options shows how divergent people's opinions are on the subject.

Currently the FOB-Lite Comp System steers a path along the middle ground allowing virtually all Special Characters but with some specific restrictions and nothing in the survey response suggests to me that it should steer away from that course.

Obviously that is the course with most grey areas as it is not as objective as banning or allowing them all. I can still see some unhappy people as their particular favourite or nemesis has  restrictions placed or removed from them.

Thanks to everyone who contributed. It was an interesting exercise.

Friday, November 8, 2013

6th Annual New Zealand Masters WHFB Field Confirmed

The field for the 6th NZ Masters for WHFB has been finalised.

2012 Master - Tom Dunn (Wellington)
#1 - Pete Dunn (Wellington)
#2 - Ross Hillier-Jones (Tauranga)
#3 - Dan Butler (Hamilton)
#4 - Sam Whitt (Otaki)
#6 - Sam Campbell (Kapiti)
#8 - Peter Williamson (Masterton)
#9 - Hamish Gordon (Kapiti)
#10 - James Brown (Auckland)
#11 - Rory Finnemore (Auckland)
#12 - Richard Barby (Auckland)
#15 - Locky Reid (Wellington)

Nobody has every won the Masters twice. No #1 Ranked Player has won Masters.

Ross, Sam C, Hamish, James and Richard are at their first Masters.

Good mix of players from around the North Island. The Kapiti club have done well to get two players there in essentially their first year of play.

Time For a Tournament Terrain Tidy-Up

I’m home alone this weekend – well the four cats will be keeping me company – and I’m going to use the time to put assemble a whole array of terrain that is still sitting unbuilt.

First there are three Tabletop World buildings to put together, then a Games Workshop Fortified Manor House and a Witchfate Torr. I also have a series of sets of Warlord Games Ruined Farmhouses that I am going to build. Finally there is a Garden of Morr, a Citadel Wood and some Arcane Ruins. I am hoping that Saturday will see them all built and undercoated. Once this is done, I can work them across my painting desk over coming months. They all need to be finished ahead of the NZTC but I would like to get them done for “Ruination” in January.

The following weekend I have Vermintide but on the Sunday I am going to take the opportunity to have a repair session on my existing tournament terrain. Most of it is kept in large plastic bins and so it does get knocked around a little bit when being transported, set up and stowed away. However, now the tournament season has finished I think it can be repaired and put away ready for next year with the investment of 8-10 hours.

I must say that I’m lucky with the local tournament community who take great care of the terrain at events. Breakages are minimal and easily fixed.

Special Character Poll

The post early this week on Special Characters sparked enormous comment both on the blog and also Twitter.  I’ve been accused of trolling, playing mind games and implementing diversionary tactics in the lead up to the Masters. In fact, I was asked whether I envied Throgg’s honorific and whether I had considered renaming the site “Fields of Trolls”.

So, let’s address that first. I fundamentally believe that – Special Characters aside – you can play Warhammer straight out of the book with minimal comp. I believe that the external balance between books is currently the best it has been in ten years. However, the inclusion of Special Characters introduces balance considerations. Generally 90% of Special Characters are fine and have no undue influence on army balance. There are though up to 10% who skew normal balance considerations. That is why I don’t like Special Characters.

I thought I’d run a poll with a couple of questions and people can give specific feedback on Special Characters.

Question 1: Should all Special and Named Characters be banned under FOB-Lite Comp?
A. Yes
B.  No

Question 2: If you answered “No” to Q1, should specific characters be banned and/or have restrictions placed on them?
A.  No bans or restrictions
B.  No bans but some restrictions
C.  Some specific characters banned
D.  Mix of bans and restrictions

Question 3: If your answer to Q2 was that some bans and/or restrictions should be included, please list the characters you feel need attention and any suggestions to potential restrictions (if deemed warranted).

Please put your responses in the Comments section. I appreciate the poll is not scientific, probably not balanced and if deconstructed the questions may demonstrate survey bias. That’s just the nature of my unbeautiful mind.

Vermintide Lists

Disappointingly there are only eight lined up for Vermintide this year.

However you can check the lists of those that are going here

As previously noted, Vermintide is 1200 point event over 5 rounds.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Magic - My Favourite Part of the Game

While I like the whole WHFB package, I (like I guess most people) have a favourite aspect. For me it is the Magic Phase.
So why is this?
Well I like the fact that it is multi-layered and that it contains uncertainty. To be successful in the Magic Phase requires both resource management and risk management. You also need the ability to bluff and to read people.
For me the Magic phase begins at the start of the game when you find out what is someone’s list. You see where they have invested points and where they haven’t, if they are offense-focused or whether they are possibly risk-averse. Generally I find that by reading a list, followed up by a quick conversation that I can coalesce a plan on where I should attack somebody and where I think their threat will come from. And remember people have favourite units and models and sometimes develop a blind spot in respect to them.
Based on the above, I then select my spells. I’ve always had disdain for people who have Loremaster. To me it betrays a lack of confidence in their ability to select the right spells coupled with a propensity to blame failure on bad luck….”Of I didn’t get Purple Sun, so I couldn’t win”. Show me a Loremaster and immediately I see weakness. Selecting your spells is key aspect of your gameplan but if you don’t get the ones you want it shouldn’t torpedo your chance to win. Your plan….if it is a good one…..should be adaptable. If it really is just six-dice 13th or Purple Sun, well you probably need a new plan.
When I select spells, I like multiple channels of attack – be it Direct Damage, Augment or Hex – as this gives me the opportunity to bluff and play mind games.
The fun really starts when you get to the Magic Phase and have to manage your resources while assessing then re-assessing impact. So many times you see an 11PD Magic Phase go to waste due to a lack of focus be it lack of a plan or indecision (I do it far more than I’d like and it is the most frustrating thing when it happens).
Generally in your Magic phase you should expect to get one spell off and attempt to engineer a second success. In defence, you need to accept that they will get one spell and try to ensure they don’t have additional success. Once this is done the games to ensure the spell that you get off and the spell you let through are the ones you want. I’ll let you determine how you do that but to me it is one of the key skills in the game and a major part of the attraction.
One way to improve the defensive part of your game is to play without a Dispel Scroll in practice games – effectively 25 points down (leaving Arcane slot empty). It sharpens your decision-making. When you then put the scroll back in, it fulfils its true purpose – last line of defence – rather than how it is commonly used (and generally wasted).
The real beauty of the phase is that through judicious use of dice and the order you cast you can achieve some great combinations. And there is nothing better than the look of horror on your opponent’s face when they suddenly realise what you’ve done. Priceless!
So for me this is the most enjoyable phase of the game….and probably the reason I hate Dwarfs so much. Their defence has no subtlety but works with as much guile as a killswitch. I realise though that they are miserable bastards and them killing my fun is the nearest they will ever get to a victory.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Case Against Special Characters

To my mind most of the balance issues seem to start in the game when Special Characters are included. Now I’m sure people will point out to me the characters that are not overpowered and offer something new and exciting to the game. I’ll even go out on a limb and say that these characters make up 90% of the Special Characters on offer, however there is one major problem. Apart from some strange souls – I’m looking at you Dave Appleby and Henry Poor – these are not the Special Characters that get taken.

For every one of these “90%” that get taken at a tournament, I’m guessing three or four of the “10%” turn up. And why do people use them? Not to give their army some strange or unique feel. They use them to get some perceived on-table advantage. I guess I don’t buy the Kool-Aid that people lie in bed at night and go “I wish I had a cool Troll army”. What they are more likely to be saying is “How can I get the most efficient spend on my Core”. Similarly, I don’t believe people either love the Epidemis model or his backstory. What they love is the “tally” special rule they can’t access any other way. Alalalarelle the Radiant isn’t there because she’s cool, she’s in the army because she provides a minimum 5+ ward against shooting on Banner of the World Dragon-toting White Lions.

So I’m biased. I’m going to say that upfront. I’ve always hated Special Characters in tournament gaming. Sure put them in your campaign games or garagehammer battles but keep them away from tournaments. In Fantasy, the list of offenders over the years is long and horrendous – Kairos, The Masque, Khalida, Throgg, Manfred, Thorek, Teclis, etc etc etc. Isn’t it funny that it’s these you see rather than the ones that don’t break the game. I hated them in 40k and I hate them in Fantasy.

Why do I think they are a problem?

Because I don’t believe that Games Workshop playtests them to any great extent. If they playtest a new book within their studio exactly how much focus does a Special Character get? How many potential combinations do they look at and test? I’m going to go with not many. Actually I’d be surprised if individual Special Characters get more than one or two playtest games. Yet the weekend the book gets released thousands more pairs of eyes look at these characters and go “What if”? Suddenly things get taken to the extreme and in that context the abilities that the special Character construes bears no relation to their points costs.

Over time – and with the release of new 8th Ed books – I believe the game is becoming more and more balanced. Less and less restrictions are required to level the playing field for these current edition books – I reckon I could at a pinch reduce it to five. However ones of these would definitely be a line banning Special Characters due to the applied effects of the 10%.

Monday, November 4, 2013

New Warhammer Terrain Pieces Spotted

The eagle-eyed have noticed what looks like two new terrain pieces in photos contained in the new Warhammer Expansion "Triumph & Treachery".

Araby, Khemri or Eastern Terrain

Some Sort of Portal

My guess is that this may be some sort of dual kit such as the Storm of magic fulcrums. Anyway key an eye out over coming months to see if some does eventuate.

Games Workshop have a history of hiding new models - particular terrain - in full view.

Invitations to the 6th Annual NZ WHFB Masters

So the invites for the Masters went out on Friday evening and it will be interesting to see how the final field shapes up. The organisers have to put together a field of 12 players for the event.

Last year’s winner automatically gets an invite so in addition, only the Top 11 Ranked Players qualify automatically. The automatic invites therefore are:

Current Masters Champion – Tom Dunn
#1 – Pete Dunn
#2 – Ross Hillier-Jones
#3 – Dan Butler
#4 – Sam Whitt
#5 – Ryan Simister
#6 – Sam Campbell
#7 – Mal Patel
#8 – Peter Williamson
#9 – Hamish Gordon
#10 – James “The Unluckiest Man in Warhammer” Brown
#11 – Rory Finnemore

As Ryan Simister is currently overseas, his invite has passed down to #12 Richard Barby. These people received their invite on Friday and have a few days to make their decision.

So will any of these be forfeited? Well, Air New Zealand are doing their best to dissuade the Dunns with their ludicrously high fares. RHJ and Dan butler live in the area so you’ve got to expect that disorientation of their competition who are used to civilisation will be seen as a big factor in them accepting. Sam Whitt is travelling north with Peter Williamson (and associated groupie). However Peter can choose to win the Warmachine Masters or be an also-ran in fantasy and that may influence his decision. The Kapiti Fun-Bus is travelling north – 2 gamers, 22 Trolls and 20 Beasts of Nurgle – leaving only three other automatics. I’m guessing Mal will decline his invite as he realises this is a bit different from clubbing southern seals. Auckland’s “Finest” James, Rory and Richard will all accept there invites.

By my reckoning that means between two and four invites will be forfeited. So what happens?

Should any return their invite then the invitations will go in order to:

#13 – Thomas van Roekel
#14 – Joel van de Ven-Long
#15 – Locky Reid
#16 – Jeff Kent
#17 – Antony Kitson
#18 – John Willenbruch
#19 – James Cardno
#20 – Stuart Robinson

Now Thomas is now residing in the UK so you can count him out. Joel currently is overseas but may be back in time. However traditionally he gets a bit scaredy venturing further north than Palmerston. Locky is a finishing student and really should be looking for a job however there is a chance he’ll take the risk and jump in Kiwihammer Push-it-Forward bus and tiki tour north.

Jeff Kent. Well you wouldn’t have to ask this boy twice. He has assumed the Hagen Kerr role attending the Masters to hang out with the rich and famous. Word is that he has asked Sam Whitt whether there will be a spit roast. Jeff, there are a number of fine eating establishments in Hamilton.

If any invite should get past the grasp of Jeff then there is a bunch or Auckland gamers ready to pounce. Stu Robinson, your chances of an invite are more modest than Len Brown’s sense of responsibility.

Move and Fire Artillery

The scuttlebutt is that sometime in the next 20 months we’ll see 9th Edition hit our tables. Inevitably with that we will see various rule changes, some big, some not so big.

One rules change I would really like to see is a change that characterises the Ironblaster and Skullcannon as Warmachine with regard to all aspects of shotting. This may be as simple as an errata removing “Move & Fire” or a change in classification.

Over the past few years I have used both Ironblasters and Skullcannons and, more than anything, it is the ability to move and fire that makes them so effective. Both models have the opportunity to reposition themselves so that they can bypass any cover advantages (e.g. Monstrous Infantry/Cavalry or Monsters, Dragonbane Gem/Dragonhelm, Charmed Shield) that their opponent derives. Trigonometry increases this benefit as the enemy approaches.

Certainly I think the game would be better for it if this ability was taken away. The units would still be worth their points but some of the cream would be knocked off the top.

FOB NZ Fantasy Rankings Updated

The WHFB Rankings have been updated for the first event of the 2014 Tournament Season. Over the weekend the inaugural DILFCON was held in Auckland and attracted 14 people.

The player formerly known as the People's Champion, Henry Poor, won the event with Ogres beating two Masters invitees, James "The Unluckiest Man in Warhammer" Brown and Richard Barby.

Friday, November 1, 2013

2013 Best Army Iconholders

Yesterday saw the end of the 2013 tournament season and I thought I'd spotlight who finished up as the best performed general in each of the Warhammer races for 2013.

Skaven - Pete Dunn

Warriors of Chaos - Ross Hillier-Jones

Daemons of Chaos - Sam Campbell

Lizardmen - Mal Patel

High Elves - Peter Williamson

Ogre Kingdoms - James Brown

Chaos Dwarfs - Richard Barby

Empire - Joel van de Ven-Long

Beastmen - Locky Reid

Bretonnians - Antony Kitson

Wood Elves - James Cardno

Vampire Counts - Basil Moskovis

Orcs & Goblins - Henry Poor

Tomb Kings - Paul Dalton

Dwarfs - Tane Woodley

Dark Elves - Sean Robertson

Congratulations to everyone who secured an icon. Also congrats to Sam Whitt for playing in the most events and using the most different armies

A Golden Age For Warhammer?

2013 has seen Games Workshop release five Warhammer Army Books with one coming out pretty much every two months.

The quality of these books has been really high and generally they have exhibited a greater degree of internal balance than has been evident in the past. Probably the most disappointing has been the Lizardmen book where Core choices were pretty uninspiring and have reinforced the Skink Cloud as the preeminent build. Generally though we are seeing diversity in the 2013 vintage despite the talk of net lists etc. You will always get more efficient builds but all the books released this year have the capacity for several builds.

Against this background we have only five books that do not have an 8th Ed version - Bretonnians, Wood Elves, Dwarfs, Beastmen and Skaven. Of these, only Dwarfs and Skaven are core races - the others being towards the lower end of best sellers. I'm sure I'll now be inundated by wooders who'll tell me that for a three month period in the dim distant past, Wood Elves were the biggest seller in SE Belgium or some other irrelevance. The point is we are nearing the end of the cycle and most of the common armies have an 8th Ed book.

And what has this resulted in? Well I think we have a far more balanced game than at any time in the past decade. Some will point to a dominance of WoC or DoC but I contend that this is mainly due to either Special Characters, ill-conceived comp or rules changes and the lack of scenarios. Generally Top 10s here in NZ have seen a variety of armies.

That aside, the other big difference is that the game is more fun than previous editions. The presence of Big Magic and the shift from resource to risk management make the game more enjoyable. Shit can happen and it does. From my own point of view I have been enjoying two of the more random - in terms of variable - armies. Skaven and DoC while having a bedrock of certainty have a thick veneer of variability. And I love it.

So for me this is a golden age. I love playing the game. I'd happily play most evenings if I could as something wacky happens and I have to adjust. Or it doesn't happen and the best laid plans work.

And I haven't even started on how good most of the new plastic models are!