Saturday, December 30, 2017

KOW - Battlefield Cards - Another Winner!

Over the last six months I have been playing a bit of Warhammer 40k. There are a couple of drivers for this; firstly, I love the well-developed 40k backstory (something KOW has yet to develop) and secondly, the ease of finding a game.

One thing I have stayed away from playing in is competitive 40k. I loathe what you have to do with lists to be competitive and being a hard-nosed pr%&k I can't play in a tournament without wanting to kick ass and take names (yes, my ego is that fragile 😎). As a result I play 40k with a single Battalion and one book rather than go down the "soup" route. This means the list is probably only 75/80% the power of the various Chaos 'soup" lists which are abhorrent from a fluff viewpoint. Competitive 40k is also focussed on a set type of mission where they is potential to graduate scoring to separate competitors.

GW released a set of cards called "Open War" which allow you to generate missions each time you play. They have Deployment, Objective, Twist, Ruse and Sudden Death criteria meaning that the pack has potential to generate 50,000+ unique missions. I have been using these to play and they have created hard fought games every time. I love them.

Now it looks like Mantic have gone down a similar path.

They are releasing Battlefield Cards which give you Objective, Strategy and Condition cards to generate your own missions. Again the drawcard is that you can increase playability by ensuring every game you play is different. This is particularly great for small communities or for narrative players where playing the same mission against the same opponent or army gets old quick.

I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on a set as having seen how it has helped my 40k gaming I can only see good outcomes from these.

Reading the blurb that comes with news of the release it seems that there might also be opportunities to develop these further by playing asymmetric missions.

Count me in!

Friday, December 29, 2017

KOW - COK 2018 Rules - Mantic hit it out of the Park

Note: There is no discussion of individual rules or their specifics. This post is on the broad approach that Mantic have undertaken in the COK 2018 Rules Pack.

First up, given recent controversy, no-one has sent me the rules pack so no-one has breached any NDAs. The internet is a big and scary place and this should be a lesson that once a genie is out of the bottle it is very hard to get it back in.

The rules changes in this pack are more extensive than last year's COK release. They fall into a number of categories.

1. Unit Changes

By my reckoning every army got some change to the units. Unlike GW who keep characteristics constant and adjust points, Mantic have adjusted characteristics rather than points. In the long run I think that this is a slightly coarser adjustment for players but will increase the internal balance more where a unit becomes more "useable". By this I mean, a 10 point adjustment means nothing if you  believe a unit's Nerve is too low to be reliable.

In a few cases, special rules have been removed to bring things into line. For us players, this means we will need to refine tactics to get a similar/approachable output from them.

There are winners and losers but taking a dispassionate eye to the list, Mantic have done a fantastic job in addressing some balance issues both internally and externally.

2. Artefacts

Here the approach has been a mix. Some items have had their abilities dialled back but stayed the same points while others have remained the same but had a points increase. By my reckoning there are four new items and the return of three old friends (albeit with toned down abilities).

This again is great in that it help keeps the game fresh. New items give new options to explore while the quantum does not overburden the game. Everyone should be able to deal with the introduction of this limited number of items while will eliminate the potential for "gotcha" moments that plague other games.

3. Spells

The third area of change is spells. Here we have the introduction of 3-4 new spells that anyone can access and one spell exclusive to each of the alignments. None of the spells appear overbearing at first glance and all offer the ability to bring something to the game.

However the most significant development is that Mantic are making Alignment mean something (other than use of Allies). I love that their are specific spells that some races access and others don' really helps the narrative. I would love to see this extended to a limited number of artefacts in future years.


I can't say anymore than this is the type of update I really wanted Mantic to write. It brings a balancing aspect after a year of COK 2017 which will bring some refresh in what we see on the table. One of the biggest criticisms in the past (from largely uninformed observers) is that there is a sameness about the races. I believe that the expansion in both Artefacts and Spells is the start along the path required to disabuse this notion. If this could be expanded in future years (preferably tied to the developing narrative) I would be a very happy camper.

Overall Mantic have done a fantastic job and I commend all those involved. I urge all of you to support this work by purchasing the book when it comes out. It is only through sales of this work that we can demonstrate to Mantic the importance that it is continued.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

40k - Rankings Revamp & 2017 Best Army Icon Holders

Over the past week we have done a revamp of the Fields of Blood 40k Rankings. This is most obvious for Warhammer 40k where the the armies players used has been rationalised to make results more meaningful.

Counting up the Best Army icons they had blown out to 61 😮 This was all kinds of ridiculous. I have cut them back to 20 and have retro-fitted the results to reflect that. The simple rule I applied was that they had to have one of the ten codexes released in 8th Ed so far, be an established army with multi-edition back history of standalone codex, or some other arbitrary decision.

So there are no White Scars, no Valhallans, no Eldar Corsairs etc. As Codexes are added we will add icons but the data will not be refitted.

What this does do is give us an opportunity to publish a list of the Iconholders for Best in Race for the 2017 Tournament Season (ended 31 October).

  • Eldar - Glen Burfield (56)
  • Chaos Daemons - Haydn Korach (24)
  • Space Marines - Dave Hodgetts (58)
  • Astra Militarum - Dave Hodgetts (24)
  • Chaos Space Marines - Vinnie Purcell (36)
  • Space Wolves - Glen Tibbles (12)
  • Blood Angels - Pascal Roggen (16)
  • Tau - Connor Gosnell (28)
  • Tyranids - Adam Thornton (19)
  • Imperium - Ben Foster (14)
  • Necrons - Cody Parlato (22)
  • Genestealer Cult - Aidan Corlett (9)
  • Adeptus Mechanicus - James Stott (14)
  • Orks - Glen Heaphy (13)
  • Dark Eldar - Sean Sullivan (9)
  • Dark Angels - Scott Nicholl (13)
  • Imperial Knights - Chris Ward (7)
  • Grey Kinghts - Chris Ward (15)
So well done to the players that rose supreme in their race. The number in brackets is the number of times each army was used during the year - Space Marines seeing off Eldar followed by Chaos Space Marines.

The new season has started and you can see how well you are doing for the tournament year by setting the filter to "Season starting 1 November 2017". This is where the battle for icons in 2018 begins.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Weekly Hobby Update

Working away on the Daemonettes....another 8 down. Need to finish the last 8 which will give me a decent summoned unit.

This Friday I go on holiday for 16 days. I'd Like to finish a number of projects over this time. Firstly, I have the WotR army to paint. That should be relatively quick. I also have a Forgeworld Keeper of Secrets which I would like to airbrush. Finally there is a ruined cathedral to paint.

My other aim is to crank up the 3D printer again and start to crank out some 40k terrain.

So no big project but enough to keep me occupied.

On the weekend I got the chance to run my Varrangr against Lliam's Forces of the Abyss. From my point of view the game went well and I'm starting to get the hang of the army. It is fun to use but totally unforgiving.You need to win your fights as the army has to smash face or you will get bogged down in extended fights and lose.

WOTR - 2018 Club Project

I mentioned here a couple of months ago that a few of us at the Wellington Warlords are looking to play some games around the War of the Roses in 2018. The premise is that by using the DBA rules we have largely set lists, a low entry cost (NZD 90), manageable number of figures (<50) and a multitude of ways to play.

We intend have some refight, some narrative games and also a simple campaign. It should be a lot of fun. My figures are sitting half made on the coffee table but over the holidays I'll get them done.

Putting us all to shame, Russell Briant has already finished his army and sent me some photos. He has built Edward IV's Yorkists (including a converted Edward who scales to his real life 6'4").

Dismounted Men at Arms including Edward

Mounted MAA

Light Cavalry & Artillery



Russell got so enthused he painted a bust of Richard III (England's last true King)

KOW - Returning to the Fold

I've had a break of around six months from Kings of War. Recently I've started playing again and it got me thinking.

The reason I took a break was that our local scene is very small and the number of potential opponents limited. After awhile I felt I was playing the same game repeatedly with largely the same result. The only real thorn in the side was when you'd have to react to the unexpected "snake eyes" result.

In a game that can be largely broken down to a series of predictabilities, the double "1" override is the one real intangible that can cause a dislocation. I've been a defender of the mechanic because otherwise I feel the game is just too predictable. Predictability is great for tournament play but not as much for a fun game. It also means that you have to learn to deal with the outcome (as unexpected as it is).

The impact of the double "1" is also variable dependent on army choices. It is much more influential when you play with an Elite army rather than a Horde - both offensively and defensively. When you attack with a small, elite army you need to break the opponent quickly and reform to attack new targets in subsequent turns. Being stalled creates a real problem as you have effectively concentrated your points. Similarly, keeping an elite unit in the game by virtue of snakes eyes is also important however unless you have Heal/Regen the unit is probably lost next turn. Overall, the lost of momentum is clearly the bigger impact.

After six months away, I'm still largely convinced that the mechanic is needed for the longevity of the game. In the three games I've played since I started playing, a double one cost me one of them when a 7 Overkill was converted into a hold. As I'm currently playing with Varanngr this hurt. In my last game, although I had lower than average dice, the lack of a snakes roll meant that my army was relatively unaffected and I was able to score a decisive win.

All this is a longwinded way of saying:

  • Double 1 Nerve Rolls affect games
  • They affect elite armies disproportionately
However given the nature of KOW, removal of the mechanic would IMO significantly reduce the replayability of the game especially in smaller communities as it increases predictability.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

40k - NZ Masters Photos

Here are some photos from the recent NZ Masters.

The first photos are of the tables fought over. I made sure that they were quite densely covered. We also played that bottom floor windows and doors blocked line of sight.

My Imperial Stronghold table

The Imperial Plaza

Another shot of the Plaza

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

40k - FOB NZGT - Bringing The Hobby Back

So I decided to resurrect "Fields of Blood" - the NZ Grand Tournament - last week and since then I've been sitting down with some of the smartest minds in the land deciding what to do.

"Let's Bring The Hobby Back! We Need to Game Like It's 2003!"

Knowing that the art of the salesman is to give the people what they want, this is exactly what we are going to do!

Back in the day when behemoths ruled the 40k gaming world, the apex predators were those that could marry their gameplay with their soft scores. It was not enough to just crush your opponents, you had to do it with a smile on your face while carrying them for five turns. Hobby points were also important - three colour minimum was not going to cut the mustard.

And so in a return to those glory years....we've come full circle and we bringing it back.

Battle Scores (40%)

Still the biggest influence on your placing. There are six games and Gameplay can vary from 0-40% which means that one win is effectively worth 7% of your total score.

Sports (25%)

Effectively the default score will be 18%. If you are pleasant, play in a timely fashion and aren't a dick then you'll score at least that. That means there is an extra 7% up for grabs - the same as a win. However it won't be easy to get. Only one person can score 7% and to do that they would have to be judged Favourite Opponent by each of their opponents. For each Favourite Opponent vote you get an additional 1% with the player who scores the most getting an additional 1% for Best Sport.

Presentation (25%) 

We'll be using a checklist whereby a score of 26% can be scored. However the checklist cap will be at 20%. The additional 5% will come from a mix of Player Choice Votes and Judges Picks. This will only be open to people who have painted 90% of their own army. How will we know? We'll ask people. Assuming you didn't paint your own army but it ticks the normal boxes for a nice tabletop army as per the FOB Painting checklist then you will score 20%. If you pick up a Best Painted vote then you'll get an extra 1%, Those in the Top Three Players Choice will accrue another 1% while Players Choice will get an additional 1%. Judges will vote and a Top 5 army will get 1% with Judges Choice scoring a final 1%. Someone could score the extra 5% but I think we can agree they'll probably deserve it.

So by this stage if someone has six wins then for another player to leapfrog them in the Overall Standings they'd also need between 4-5 wins.

The final part of the equation is as follows:

Army (10%)

No doubt this will be the most controversial part of the scoring....because it is subjective. A panel of judges will look at your list using a two part methodology each worth 5% - Theme and Choices.

Theme is how well your army fits in with accepted 40k canon. You'll have a hard job convincing us that Mortarion and Magnus ever fought together in defence of a Renegade Artillery Park. However if you have a standalone Blood Angels list then the Theme component won't be hard to achieve. Similarly a Tyranid force that mixes Hivefleets will be a hard sell.

Choices is the other component. Your list may cross the Theme hurdle but using Space Marines as an example, if all your Troop choices are Scout then I'd want to see Scout Bikers and I doubt Guillimane would be leading them. If your Eldar list has three units of Dark Reapers, then I suspect Maugan Ra is leading them rather than Eldrad etc.

The key here is to bring a list that gives your opponent an enjoyable game rather than is a Frankenstein monster created in the maths-lab at Caltech or MIT.

So there you go......a tournament so hobby you'll feel like a Red-Shirt screaming "Waagh"

Weekly Hobby Update

Over the past week I've been doing a bit of hobby.

Firstly, I have managed to paint a new Deamon Prince for my Emperor's Children. This will give me choice as to which I use because unlike a lot of people I think it highly unlikely you'd have two Daemons sharing control of a force 👿

Secondly, I have been working on a unit of Daemonettes for the same army. I have finished and based the first eight and I am looking to build the unit to 23. These are the Juan Diaz Daemonettes though I have used some arm swaps from the recent plastics to get wider variety. As the SJWs tell me, Diversity is important.

The rest of my time has been jacking up the Khandallah Town Hall for the return of the Fields of Blood New Zealand Grand Tournament. It is not easy to secure such a good venue and it was only after they juggled some other bookings that I got it.

I've also been working on exactly what type of even I want to stage. This will be a return to the Grand Tournament roots, so yes I'm "Bringing the Hobby Back". The exact format will be the subject of a separate post in the next week.

Monday, December 11, 2017

KOW - NZ Masters Photos

Here are a few photos from the recent NZ Masters won by Ryan Lister with Undead.

First up are the three tables used over the weekend.



The Desert

The First Round was an exact copy of what we would see in the Championship Round - Undead vs. Goblins, Orcs vs. Dwarfs and Trident Realms vs. Forces of the Abyss. Bizarrely the results were the same as well even though the tables were different.

Trident Realms up against the Forces of the Abyss

Undead vs. Goblins - They met later for all the marbles

Dwarfs vs. Orcs

40K - Frontline Gaming - Great Customer Service

As you all know, the time around Thanksgiving is an incredibly busy shopping time in the US with all the Black Friday sales.

Recently I took advantage of the Frontline Gaming sale where they had 25% off the price of their neoprene mats. Jack is coming home from Boston over the holiday season so it was a good opportunity for him to be a "mule" and bring back supplies. With 25%, free shipping in the US and no international shipping I was able to land two 6'x4' mats for NZD$80 each rather than the normal $170-200 they cost in New Zealand score.

My only problem was ensuring they were with Jack before he left mid-December. This problem was elevated when FLG indicated via email that there had been enormous demand for the mats and that there may be greater delay than normal in supply and shipping. I contacted Frontline via email and within 30 minutes had a reply from Frankie that they would prioritise the order.

The package arrived via FedEx on Friday last week, in plenty of time for Jack's departure.

I thought that this was excellent service from Frontline (and Frankie) as they didn't have to make the effort. The sale had been completed, credit card charged and I was getting a "deal". their efforts mean that I'll continue to use them as my US supplier of choice for hobby products.

Thanks again guys.

NZ Event Calendar - Warhammer 40k and Kings of War

I have updated the Event Calendar for known Warhammer 40k and Kings of War events in 2018.

You can access it here or by clicking the "Event Calendar" Button below the "Fields of Blood" banner.

I am happy to add any Warhammer 40k or Kings of War events, the aim being to encourage participation.

To have an event added all you have to do is drop me an email and if possible a link to your Players Pack. If Players Pack not available you should send me headline details until one is finalised.

Friday, December 8, 2017

40K - FIELDS OF BLOOD New Zealand Grand Tournament 2018

Some exciting news. 2018 will see the return of the Fields of Blood New Zealand Grand Tournament.

This event was run by Games Workshop from 1999 -2007 and by myself from 2008 - 2012. You can read a history of the event here

Here are the details for the 2018 event:

Date: 29/30 September 2018

Venue: Khandallah Town Hall, Wellington

Rounds: Six (3 Saturday, 3 Sunday)

Armies: 1750 points

Cost: $50

Participants: Limited to 50

Players' Pack: 29 January 2018

Tickets: Go on sale 1 February

The event was the premier 40k event held in the country in the period from 1999-2012. Over the time that I ran it, it was won by Bruce Manning (Chaos), David Lewy (Tau) and Charlie St. Clair (Orks and Necrons). It also regularly attracted a contingent of up to a dozen Australian visitors each year.

In 2018, it will be held at the Khandallah Town Hall in Wellington. This was the venue where the NZ Team championships for WHFB were held and there is a multitude of food options close by.

2015 Team Championships - View from the Upstairs Gaming Lounge

The venue is a two storey hall built in 2012. It is well ventilated and very well lit. In addition to the two gaming areas there is a crash lounge with couches and armchairs.

Metal Plaque for the Winner of the Gameplay Category 

Trophies extended to the Player who brought the best table of terrain.

The FOB trophies are large metal plates (as above) mounted on walnut. There will be trophies for Best Gameplay, Best Sport, Best Army and Best Terrain as well as Top Overall Placegetters. In addition, there will be trophies for the Best Placegetter in each Faction (5 or more participants).

So mark your diaries. It's coming back....and it will be big!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

KOW - NZ Masters Lists

People have asked to see the KOW lists that were used at last weekend's Masters. You can find them here

Going into the event I thought Higgins' Goblins were going to be the army to beat and so it proved.

The NZ Masters title came down to the last turn and a draw on Turn 6 became a win for Ryan's Undead. Ryan has a reputation for being "Mr. Binary" at KoW. He either podiums or finishes in the bottom two. This was one of the podium events.

His Undead are quite a good counter for the Goblins as the three units of Wraiths have sufficient Defense and Mobility to upset the Greenskin plan.

I'll post pictures in the next 24 hours.

KOW - 2017 NZ Masters - Run & Won

This weekend saw the inaugural NZ Masters for KoW run over two days at Cashmere Avenue School Hall in Khandallah.

Six players participated in a round robin before a championship round that pitted 1st v 2nd, 3rd v 4th and 5th v 6th. After the round robin the scores were as follows:

  • 55 - Ryan Lister (Undead)
  • 53 - Robert Higgins (Goblins)
  • 44 - Tane Woodley (Dwarfs)
  • 42 - Josh Barton (Orcs)
  • 32 - Lliam Munro (Forces of the Abyss)
  • 14 - Kent Jackson (Trident Realms)
In the Championship Round, Ryan beat Robert, Josh beat Tane and Lliam beat Kent.

 NZ Masters Champion Ryan Lister Receiving His Trophy

Runner Up Robert Higgins

The Championship Match (Control) was very close. At the end of the sixth turn the game was a tie with the decider being Attrition (again 80 points difference so no VP variation). However Rob rolled for the 7th Turn which would mean that Ryan would win unless he rolled "Snake Eyes" for the Nerve Roll on a rear charge by Revenants into Spitter Horde. Ryan avoided the double "1" to take the first NZ Masters for KoW.

Congratulations to all involved. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

2018 NZ Masters Date & Venue Confirmed

The 2018 NZ Masters will be held on the first weekend of December (1st & 2nd) at Cashmere Avenue School Hall in Khandallah, Wellington.

No Funky Jackets But An Awful Lot of Heat

Flames of War, Warhammer 40k and Kings of War events will be held and invites will be determined via the Fields of Blood NZ Rankings.

2018 will be the 11th Annual NZ Masters and hopefully early advice of weekend and venue will allow people to plan accordingly.

40k - Chapter Approved Points Changes

I intend writing a more general Chapter Approved review in the next few days but I thought I would comment on some of the impact of points changes.

As you know the Masters were run over the weekend and 12 players battled it out for the crown. When you run the Masters you check lists and when you update Battlescribe data it updates existing lists. So I had a look yesterday at the effect of the Chapter Approved changes.

The Impact of Chapter Approved on the Astra Militarum

Nine of the twelve lists are relatively unchanged by points shifts in Chapter Approved. Their new price is within +/- 20 points of the Masters price. However on the Imperium side not everything is that peachy. While Scott Clough's Eight Model Army only say an increase of 20-25 points, the same can't be said for the rest of the lists that used Astra Militarum as their backbone.

The points increases for these armies was as follows:
  • Craig Stewart's Imperial Soup - approx 100 points
  • Simon Smith's Astra Militarum - approximately 150 points (BS says 146)
  • Dave Hodgetts' Astra Militarum - approximately 150 points (BS says 153)
Happy for someone to check my maths as I'm not a Numbers scientist.

Now this is in no way an attempt to disparage the efforts of Simon and Dave at the Masters. They were clearly the top two players. Importantly they had identified the most efficient items in their codex. They were also unaware of these points increases at the time the lists were submitted. Finally everyone had the same opportunity to bring AM (with a little effort).

However it does reinforce what everyone had probably suspected - that AM is a very good list and parts of it were undercosted.

It will be interesting if we see Conscripts now they are 4 points. Also it will also be interesting to see whether AM are still popular at the Las Vegas Open (I think so as I think they have great tools everywhere).

I'm very glad I didn't allow FW at the Masters as some of the points bumps there are far greater.

Monday, December 4, 2017

40k - Fields of Blood NZ Masters Results

Over the weekend the Masters were held in Wellington. This was the 10th time they have been held and I reckon this was one of the most competitive to date.

Six rounds using 1750 point armies - no Forgeworld. Scoring used a W-D-L system with 10 points for a win and 1 point for a draw. Tiebreakers were Slay the Warlord, First Blood and Linebreaker.

We got 12 of the Top 20 ranked players, representing all parts of New Zealand.

Here are the results:

Well done to Dave who was also the Top Ranked Player for the year.

What is interesting is that no player won all their games....Dave beat Simon but was beaten by Vinnie. Sean drew with Sam and David F drew with Connor.

Thanks to all those who attended and to those that dropped in over the weekend.

Here's some photos of the winners (apologies for the quality - I did explain to Hagen how to use the focus 😊):

First Place & Masters Champion - Dave Hodgetts

Second Place - Simon Smith

Third Place - Ryan Pike (spot the children in the background).

Next year the New Zealand Masters will be back in Wellington before going on the road in 2019.

Friday, December 1, 2017

NZ Masters on this Weekend

The 10th Annual New Zealand Masters are on this weekend in Khandallah, Wellington.

Gamers will contest supremacy in Warhammer 40k, Kings of War and Flames of War.

And besides bragging rights they will have the opportunity to win these fine trophies.

I am umpiring the Warhammer 40k and Kings of War events. Looking at the lists and checking the players' records over the year, here are my predictions.


3. Sam Whitt 

Honed Tzeentch Daemon list with the ability to bring a lot of Smite to the table. I think that he will just hold out for 3rd from Ben Clarke's Daemons.

2. Sean Sullivan

Trying to do a three-peat. His Ynnari have been hurt by the recent FAQ changes but his list has more mobility than anyone else at the event. Looking forward to following his matchups.

1. Dave Hodgetts

Dave has the strongest list at the event and strong reason form. I think his firepower may just see him through though I think he should be worried by his relative mobility. Based on Chapter Approved, he and his AM mates are playing a few points up on the field.


2. Tane Woodley - I'd have him as favourite except our local Green candidate has had his priorities wrong over the past 6 months. He's bringing a Wall-of-De 6 and I'm not sure all his oppoents will be able to deal with it.

1. Robert Higgins - Mr. Pay to Win recently bought a Goblin army off me and has it honed and ready to go. It is a step up from his Orcs and I think it will be just too big for other players to handle.