Thursday, 30 June 2011

Catching up on the news. . . Warmachine

With the decorating nearing completion, breathing room in the house is still at a minimum. At least I've been able to actually get back on the computer and catch up with what's been happening in the gaming world.

The biggest announcement I've seen in a while is Privateer press seeing fit to release a starter set for Warmachine.  This "Two-player Battle Box" has a lot in common with the starter sets of another certain miniatures company in that a) it includes a mini-rulebook, b) it has pretty much everything needed to start playing, and c) it looks an absolute fracking bargain!

What really surprises me about the set is the apparent RRP in pounds sterling.  It's $100 and normally that equates to a £79.99 in the UK (Ref: the large Fantasy Flight box games,) with the usual 10% online discount taking it to £71.99.  

Maelstrom are the only company I can see accepting pre-orders for the set, but their RRP is £69.99!  With the 10% off discount, they're charging £62.95 - with free postage!!!  Whatever way you look at it, that is a bargain.

Besides the rulebooks, you're getting basically two faction battle boxes (Menoth getting a different 'jack though) with an additional unit each - plastic Man'o'War and Cinerators (Khador players will be happier here!)  I think the Protectorate of Menoth force is 21 points while Khador comes in at 20 points. Throw in another unit or a couple solos and you have a standard 25 point army.

I am slightly surprised that both forces have medium based, multi wound units.  Providing one force with a small based unit and a solo choice would have put every unit type (baring cavalry) in the starter box.  Also, I noticed the product description doesn't make it clear if there are templates in the box, or just a ruler - two jacks and both casters use AOEs and the Repenter uses the spray template.  Still if that's the worst thing about the box set, PP are onto a winner here surely.

It's good to see that two large companies are able to learn from (White Dwarf finally including rules/profile previews like No Quarter) and improving upon each other (Island of Blood; great box set, absolutely useless as a starter set.)

Speaking of GW, rumours of the 40K 6th edition box set have started to surface - two boxes, each with one complete army Dark Angels or Chaos,) terrain and rulebook.  This sounds plausible, and is an obvious step for GW to counter the amount of components that appear on eBay following each release.

I'll be interested to see how the Warmachine box sells and if it affects the overall number of players.  Both Island of Blood and Assault on Black Reach sold by the bucket load, but GW still has a falling player base.  

Regardless, this is definitely a day one purchase for me!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Armed forces day

It's armed forces day here in the UK, so I'd like to say my thoughts are with all our servicemen-and-women wherever and whatever they're up to in the world.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Back from holiday - back to decorating!

We've finally made it back home after a few relaxing days visiting some relatives.  Climbed a couple Munros, ate a lot of food and had a couple car trips with the grandparents.

Unfortunately, being home also means that phase two of the decorating is about to commence - promising to bring even more disruption and dispair.  Still, the Mrs tells me that this is the last of the decorating in this house (although I get the distinct impression she wants to move house again soon!)

Still, I came home with plenty of nerdly goodness that will hopefully keep me entertained in between coats of paint and moving furniture.

We had a day trip to Glasgow shopping and, after a quick google search, found Static Games in the Merchant quarter.  A very nice shop with lots of boxed games, rpg stuff and LOADS of wargaming stuff.  I picked up Warlord game's Hail Caesar rules here as well as the Cassino book for Flames of War (I'd forgotten to pre-order it somewhere.)

I could well (and probably would) have blown a LOT of cash here, were it not for the fact that this was one of the unfriendliest shops I've ever been into!  Seriously, having half a dozen people falling silent and stare at someone when they come into your shop does not encourage them to spend their cash there!  And if you're putting stock on the shelves, don't bump past people shopping nearby!  Oh, and try saying hello or make some other form of contact when someone's in your shop - it might make them feel slightly less unwelcome.  I worked in retail for years and this was one of the worst experiences I've had in a shop.

Still, I really wanted the Hail Caesar book, so I guess left with what I'd came in for - I certainly won't be going back though.

On the way home I found Highlander Games in Dundee.  This place was well outside the town centre and doesn't look particularly inviting from the outside!  However, inside I found a very friendly little store.  I'm terrible with names, but I think the assistant was Jamie - who took some time to talk about what games they run, what stock they can order and what services they have.  He was really friendly, asked lots of questions and really knew his stuff - thanks Jamie!  After blethering for a while I had a wander around the store - lots off ccg and rpg stuff; a few boxed games and a little wargaming stuff.  I was really surprised to find these:  

some Dystopian Wars fliers and possibly the last Prussian Sky Fortress in Britain!!!

I was pleasantly surprised by this place - hopefully I'll make it down for a couple of their HoMachine tournaments this year.

I'd also planned to go to Intrepidations in Perth - but they didn't open until three the day I was there.

So a decent trip, hobbywise.  The only thing that's kind of got me down, is that the city where I live doesn't really have a gaming store (aside from Games Workshop)  If cities like Dundee (pop 150K) and Perth (50K) can support decent sized gaming stores, why can't the Granite City?

Sunday, 12 June 2011

It's not the destination. . .

Like Alexander the Great, Richard II and Christ, I've reached the ripe old age of thirty-three.  Unlike those illustrious names however, I'm hoping to reach thirty-four.

The Mrs picked up a couple choice books:

Trade and Treachery for Field of Glory: Renaissance - not a game that gets a lot of attention, but decent mechanics and lots of depth means it's a great tactical game when you're in the mood.

Roman Battle Tactics by Nic Fields - probably not something I'd ever deliberately buy myself, but it does look like an interesting read.

Both these presents highlight the benefits of keeping an Amazon Wish List up to date!

We're away for a few days holiday, so with these two books, and the Clash of Empires and Hail Caesar rules, I'll still get my gaming fix!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Waving the white flag

Some guys out there are lucky enough to have a game room, others might even have the mighty  Man Cave.  I myself have only a small Man Corner; computer, rulebooks, painted and unpainted minis and all the other crap I've accumulated through years of gaming all tucked away in my own personal fiefdom.

The Man Corner and I have long had a non-aggression pact with the Mrs, who rules everything else in the house.  Sadly, our entente cordiale was shattered on Monday by the confinement, mass mobilization and forced removal of all things nerdly.

In other words, we're decorating.

So no gaming or painting for a week or so.  Rather frustratingly, even the camera has been put away, so I can't even post pics of the new Dystopian Wars Land box sets I've received (my birthday present from the Mrs - compensation?)

Nor can I have a read of the Clash of Empires rules from Great Escape Games that arrived the other day (can't remember what box they're packed in.)

Hopefully the Man Corner will be back to normal in a few days.  My own sanity may take a bit longer (nothing causes a good argument like decorating!)

Monday, 6 June 2011

Some GW bits and pieces for sale.

Following on from my ramblings on GW, I've put some Dark Eldar and Skaven stuff up on eBay.

Hopefully someone will get more use out of these than I will.

Some random thoughts on GW.

Good old Games Workshop has been taking a load of flak recently, although, to be fair, that is nothing new.  What I've found unusual is the combination of different complaints.

First is the pricing issue, triggered by their annual price increase (mostly in line with UK inflation) which are never popular.  Price rise rage is always there (Warseer, B&C anyone?) but GW's business model has evolved to reduce the model count per box whilst, at the same time, increasing the amount of boxes required to play the game efficiently.  For instance, the Fantasy Orc Boyz kit has over the last couple of years been resculpted and repackaged; the net result being that it's now the same price for ten figures that it used to be for sixteen.  At the same time, Warhammer Fantasy 8th edition made it practically mandatory for players to field them in units of 40 or 50.  Also noteworthy was the cries of "bargain" when the Dark Eldar Warriors box was released, ten figures for only £15

The second criticism has been their recent distribution policy and release schedule.  Distribution outside the EU does not obviously affect me, but I can certainly understand our antipodean cousin's anger at the result of this.  Btw, with my economics hat on, your currency is being held artificially high - talk to your government.  There are also rumours that GW will not be releasing rumours of new products.  I can't say I see the sense of this either.

Thirdly, has been the release of Finecast.  I've no experience of this yet, and probably won't for a while at least.  However, in PR terms, it's been a real stinker of a release.  Firstly GW, don't place the Finecast release in relation to rising commodity prices and then stick a price increase on top of the current price.  Have a bit of common sense - have the release, rave about the quality then introduce any increase in a few months.

Also, prepare and reassure people about what to expect.  On the GW site, I found 61 words regarding working safely with resin (and now mention of sanding or resin dust.)  On the other hand, I've bought my first resin kit about 12 years ago and have had twelve years of warnings and liability notices of the hazards of resin dust.  I'm inclined to believe GW when they say their own "secret recipe" is absolutely safe - but 61 words do not easily counteract years of caution.

So not a lot of good press recently.  However, they still have a lot going for them. . .

They have a great range of products - still the best plastic kits in the industry.  Excellent quality and lots of customizable options.  They also know how to innovate their range when they need to - "annoyed you're going to have to buy more infantry?  Here's a huge fuck off spider or walking robot to keep you sweet!"

They have the best IP in the industry, essentially because they've been running for 20+ years. They've created two existences that are detailed enough to follow individual strands, but large enough to create your own story-arch without treading on any of the "canon."  Add in the Black Library and Fantasy Flight ranges, I can't think of a larger, deeper commercial fictional IP (maybe WoW?)

Lastly, GW have generated an immense personal following.  The only store you can play a game at in my city is the GW store.  I can turn up there and have a pick up game, basically, whenever I want.  I know the guys there by name.  When I was getting bored with 40K, the Black Library released the Horus Heresy series.  GW released Battlefleet Gothic - there best EVER game.  So many reasons why, contrary to all financial sense, they still keep me interested.

This post was prompted by my decision to rationalise my relationship with GW.  I'll still read some Black Library, still keep up with the Fantasy Flight range, still keep my main armies for 40K and Fantasy (even though I don't play either very often.)  I may even still buy the odd mini to paint "just for the hell of it."

What I won't be doing is collecting anything other than my two main armies (and even then, purchases will be mostly through the 'bay or Maelstrom Games.)  I'll offload some stuff I know I won't use.  I'm not sure if I'll still read White Dwarf, but I definitely won't subscribe again.

I think this is known as a "holding pattern."  Not a reduction or escalation, but just a period of calm to see how GW behaves over the next year or so.  of course. . . this frees up a lot of resources for the recent wave of board games, ancients rules and skirmish games that have sprung up recently. . .

Friday, 3 June 2011

Force on Force - Road to Baghdad

I thought I'd put up some thoughts on the new Force on Force - Road to Baghdad scenario book.  The first new Force on Force campaign books was released alongside the main rulebook and covers the American led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Physically, Road to Baghdad (RtB) is similar to the Field of Glory companion books; good quality softback, lots of Osprey illustrations and some photographs of miniatures.

The book starts off with a brief summary of the invasion of Iraq, not very comprehensive, but coherent and reads quite well.

The guts of the book are the two large campaign series; the first covering the United States Marine Corps and the second the US Army.  I say campaigns, and they do all logically follow each other, but they are more a series of individual scenarios to play.  Throw in the campaign rules from the main book and you'll have a proper campaign readily playable.

Each scenario covers the forces involved and their various stats, objectives for each side and any special rules.  There are also some historical notes that cover the actual outcome of the real life.  The maps for each scenario are presented as pencil drawings on jotter paper - very quirky but it fits in well to the overall style of the book.  Lastly, there are three quick scenarios on Special Forces (Rangers, ODAs etc) involvement in Iraq.

My main issue with the book is that it contains mostly asymmetric scenarios; fixed US forces while, generally poorer quality, opposing forces receive random reinforcements throughout the game.  I'd have hoped, as the first book, for a bit more variation in the type of forces available - although I understand completely that this best reflects the historical accuracy of the game.

Another impact of this is the amount of miniatures you'll need for the majority of the scenarios.  The US forces will generally need 20-25 figures, plus any armour.  The Iraqi forces however, will need 30+ and in a variety of Iraqi army, fedayeen and republican guard figures.  Basically, you'll be forking out a lot more cash on the Iraqis than the US.

This is a very impressive product from Ambush Alley and provides plenty of opportunity for modelling and gaming.  Although I'm still looking forward to the upcoming Cold War Gone Hot (80s what if) and the Ambush Vally (Vietnam) books, this might get some use over the summer. . .