Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Some not so light reading

22 kilos worth to be exact:

Next challenge - where to put them...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: Games Day Anthology 2011

This year's Games Day anthology features six short stories by the usual suspects in an A5 hardback format. I've only read the 40k stories so far, so will only be covering them here.

The book itself is well put together and the hardcover works with the small, thin (124pg) size. The only oddity is the printing of the title pages for each story - they are curiously faded as if they weren't printed properly. I can only assume it is a mistake involved in transferring from colour, as they feature their respective universe's logo (ie the Warhammer 40,000 eagle). Still, no problems with the actual text itself.

The first story is Death of a Silversmith, by Graham McNiell, set during the Horus Heresy. Unsurprisingly it concerns the death of a silversmith. In this case he is a specialised remembramancer aboard the Vengeful Spirit, who is so renowned for his work that Sejanus commissions four rings for the Mournival. But another commission, to make a series of small silver medallions, proves his undoing.
The story is well paced and shows a more peaceful side to the Great Crusade, taking place mostly in the memories of the silversmith as he dies, recalling his life.

The next two stories are interlinked - The Curse of Shaa-Dom and The Treasures of Biel-Tanigh by Gav Thorpe and Andy Chambers respectively. Shaa-Dom splits off from Thorpe's Path series of books, obstensibly telling the story of a White Seer as they travel from the chaos artifact harbouring human world featured in the series. Biel-Tanigh happens before this, and tells of a pair of Dark Eldar attempting to steal an artifact from the titular realm - the same realm the White Seer goes to dispose of his cursed item.
The stories aren't bad, but Shaa-Dom really feels either too short or too long. By that I mean that the first part is concerned with disposing of the artifact, and then the book takes a hard right and devolves into a slasher tale. If you've seen the movie Sunshine it's a rather similar shift. The story just feels like a connecting part of a larger piece (which in a way it is) rather than a work in its own right.
Biel-Tanigh, as mentioned, connects to Shaa-Dom, but stands on its own much better. It is an action piece, but still fits in some new looks at Dark Eldar culture and their nature.

Finally comes Emperor's Deliverance by Nick Kyme. Set during the third war for Armageddon focussing on Sister Hospitilar Athena and her struggle to keep the wounded and refugees under her care safe. Though the arrival of a pair of Marines Malevolant would seem to be a boon, it proves to be anything but.
Sister Athena is a great character, as are the two Marines, Nemiok, the senior and more brutal and Varik the (slightly) more compassionate.
The story is more a battle of personality, with Athena fighting the Marine's obstinate pragmatism and callous respect for nothing but strength. The standout moment is when she implores them to help her dig out a trapped carrier loaded with refugees, but they refuse, and she shames them by doing it herself with a few servitors - "I wanted you to know that, to know that a mindless flesh-mech slave showed greater compassion for humanity than the Emperor's Angels." And then the Orks arrive and things get much worse...

But even then the heartless Nemiok is shown to perhaps have been affected by Athena's actions and bravery, and at the end there is a small tie-in with Kyme's Tome of Fire series of novels.

Emperor's Deliverance is the standout of the collection in my opinion, and if you borrow a copy and only have time to read a single story, I'd make it that one.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Review: Imperial Armour Apocalypse 2nd Edition

The Second Edition of Forge World's expansion for Apocalypse has arrived, loaded up with tons of wargear for the tabletop. However it is not all just for Apocalypse...

On the first page they display three handy logos, indicating whether or not the unit is intended for Apocalypse games, such as the Warhound below:

Or for regular games of 40k, like these Contemptors:

The third logo is for Apocalypse formations. However one very intersting thing is that the "Warhammer 40,000 unit" blurb reads:

This unit is intended to be used in 'standard' games of Warhammer 40,000, within the usual limitations of Codex selection and force organisation charts. As with all our models these should be considered 'official', but owing to the fact they may be unknown to your opponent, it's best to make sure they are happy to play a game using Forge World models before you start.

Nafka had a post recently on Faeit 212 about the officialness of Forge World, and you can read my opinion on the matter there. Suffice to say IA units are now as legal to field as any other unit in 40kdom. Because, you know, if my opponent tells me he's playing GK razorspam or a Leafblower I'm perfectly happy to not play him as well...

But I digress...

The book itself is the standard Forge World layout, but it broke a record! It only took me five minutes to find a mistake - it's usually a while before I spot those ;)
The special mission Rampage of the Beasts describes what forces and percentages they are broken up into for the Attacker twice. Also despite being an upgrade for 5th ed, the Eldar Serpent Rider Host still makes reference to Target Priority Tests.


But minor points aside, the book is solid. Now on to some of the more interesting things:

Imperial Guard

- The Marcharius Vanquisher got a second fire mode for its AT shells, gaining the +1D6 pen on that shot only, losing the blast but also gaining Twin Linked.

- The Marcharius Vulcan can fire twice like the Stormlord. The Vulcan Mega Bolter is still over-rated.

- The Crassus went up a little in points, but can carry 5 more dudes (so you can fit a whole platoon + Command Squad in there!) and also moves 12". Great improvements there.

- The Dominus variant of the Crassus features a triple bombard. It is delightfully over the top.

- The Praetor, pictured below, feels a little underwhelming. It has three fire modes (HE, Incendiary, AA), but you have to pick one before the battle. The explosive ones are only Ordnanace Barrage 2, and though they are 5" and 7" templates, something with so many missiles on it (and an Apoc unit) looks to me like it should fire more.
That said it's good they didn't just give it an Apocalypse Blast weapon, and it's not that expensive really.

- Tauros Squadrons are there for IG or Elysian armies (the Venator is an upgrade, so squadrons can be mixed types).

- Plasmagun version of the Marcharius. It can overheat when fired on maximum, but I'm not sure it's going to be fired that way very often.

- Six of the formations are gone, as well as a number of vehicles like the Manticore.

Space Marines

- The Contemptors come in four flavours: vanilla, vampire, loup-garou and dakka.
The Codex version has more wargear options, including a special plasma blaster and the Graviton Gun.It can take a +1 BS option, two DCCW arms or a Chainfist (allowing an Ironclad Contemptor). It can also take all the standard dread weapons, though the Assault Cannon is the special Kheres model (more dakka!); mount a cyclone, regardless of other weapons; or take the heavy conversion beamer.

The Blood Angel version may take Blood Tallons, the Frag Cannon or a Magna Grapple. It can't take the beamer, plasma blaster, graviton gun or cyclone however.

Space Wolves is very similar to the Codex model, but less wargear. It also must chose a Night Saga...
The Wolves find that their Contemptors tended to savagry and excess in battle, tainting the sagas of those within. It bacame self-fulfilling as now the Iron Priest only inter those warriors already of dark disposition.
The three sagas are the Saga of the Black Cull, the Saga of the Forsaken One and the Saga of the Iron God. Each also comes with an Oath - Master of Slaughter, Oath of Sundered Brotherhood and Oath of Hubris respectively, guiding how the Contemptor will act.

The Mortis pattern starts with BS5, and must take twin heavy weapons on the arms, and may also take a Cyclone. A Mortis with twin Kheres cannons and a Cyclone sounds very tasty - 12 Assault cannon shots plus two missiles on the move would murder infantry and even armour would be afraid.

These guys are privey points wise, however. You can go mad and get some of them costing as much as a Land Raider without too much trouble...

- The Caestus and Achilles are reprinted here.

- The dreaded (ha!) Lucius pattern drop pod has not only gone up in points, but it is now risky for the Dreadnought to assault out of it.

- A formation was cut, but they left in the Automated Defence Force, which is odd as the rules for the Taratulas aren't in the book. You can download the IA2 update though to get them, but it is a bit silly.

Forces of the Imperium

- The Lighning, Valkyrie and Vulture are all out, replaced by the Sky Talon.

- The Arvus can take jury-rigged guns.

Da Orkz

- The Looted Rhino, Gun Wagon, Battle Fortress and Krusha Wagon are all gone.

- The Warkopta, Kustom Meka-Dread, Kill-Blasta/Bursta, Lifta Wagon and Grot Tank Mob from IA8: Armour of Gork (or possibly Mork) are all in however.

- The Grot Mega Tank is also in. It takes two 'heavy turrets' of twin linked Kan gunz, and three light turrets of Kan Gunz. It's better armoured than a Chimera, but not by much. Movement and shooting are very much like the Grot Tankz.


- The Wraithseer has had a few tweaks to its powers. Foreboding is now -2 to Leadership or be Pinned, and Deliverence is now Feel No Pain.
Enliven still seems like a waste to me - I'm yet to hear an Eldar player lament the lack of Fleet on his or her Wraithlords. Something like Fleet or some bonus to shooting would have been good. Or making it count as Assault Grenades.

- The Phantom Titan has had a fair bit of work done to it. It still costs the same, but they have changed the shields, it's hard to hit in CC, Spirit Guides got reworked to not suck and the Star Cannon got an extra shot (yay?).
I'm still of the opinion that the secondary weapons are too short ranged, but it is a much better bang for your metaphorical buck.
Point to note is that it can hit anything in assault with a titan CCw, as its Towering Monstrosity rules doesn't prevent it.

- The Hornet gained Aerial Assault from the Dark Eldar codex, so is much more useful.

- Ths Scorpion, Cobra, Phoenix, Void Dragon Phoenix and Nightspinner are all cut.

- The Lynx hasn't changed from its beta rules.

- The Warp Hunter got a BS bump, and a bigger blast on the main gun.


- The Scything Talons of the Heirodule and Harridan gained re-rolls to hit. The Harridan is now a proper flyer, and the Gargoyle brood rules were tweaked a little.

- The Malanthrope got some stat changes, went up in points and now has a Synapse based boost to units around it.

- The Stone Crusher Carnifex went up in points, but had some stat changes and is harder to kill, with a boost to its Regeneration rolls.


- Added in Commander R'Alai in his XV-9 suit. He gets a special experimental weapon and has special ammo on top of that, though they Get Hot!


- Have a unit! The Tomb Stalker is very gribbly. Able to Fleet, Deep Strike, Move Through Cover, Hit and Run as awell as assault units without having LoS first. It also has a special immunity to weapons that wound regardless of toughness (Hellfire shells, sniper weapons etc).
It's pretty pricey points wise, but cheaper than a Monolith.

Dark Eldar

- The Reaper is the Raider built around a giant haywire blaster, shown above. It has two fire modes, and can cause multiple haywire hits in one shot.

- The Tantalus is the big two hulled vehicle, and can carry 16 dudes. Unlike the model shown at Games Day it doesn't have the pintle mounted weapon, only the two Pulse-Disintegrators (which fire 6 shots each...). It can also bladevane infantry and vehicles (for 2D6 penetration), and is an open topped tank, so can ram and tank shock on top of everything else.

- The Raven fighter looks rather sad now...


- The Tzeentchian mega-greater Daemon is absent, but the other three are represented.

- The Chaos Warhound can now be Possessed. It is a great deal for the points.

- The Chaos Contemptor is very similar to the Codex version, with a few key differences. It has some unique chaosy secondary guns, can take a Havoc Launcher instead of a Cyclone, and doesn't have the invulnerable save.
What it does have, however, is the ability to ignore 50% of glancing hits, and also ignore a smaller number of penetrating hits.
Dedications to the four gods are available, but must be modelled appropriately. The Chaos Contemptor is also not crazy, so won't go around killing your own dudes.


There are also four new Apocalypse missions. They are well written, including details of reccomended table size, points levels and detailed scoring information. Each is very different and would obviously require a lot of planning, moreso than normal.


Overall this is a great resource for anyone interested not only in Apocalypse, but in expanding their 40k options. Like always there's more for Imperial players, but both Eldar factions have some great things too.
It does suffer in that it references other IA books in a couple of places, and they also cut a number of units out that aren't in regular Codexes which, when coupled with removing the master unit list that listed what book everything was in, seems rather stupid.
Also, the Reaver is on the cover, but the rules aren't in there... that's not just silly, but a little misleading in my opinion. I'm not sure why anyone approved that, as a great shot of the Contemptor would have worked just as well.

In total I'm giving the book an 8/10.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Games Day Australia 2011

So the first Games Day to be seen in Australia in seven years has come and gone. Here are my recollections and experiences, as well as some info from the seminars.

First up was the venue - it was spacious, well lit and no problems finding it. Funnily enough it was next to filming of the reborn Young Talent Time auditions... not sure how they handled all the Waaaaghing going on though.
Still, a few people got some odd looks, like this awesome Commisar who arrived at the same time I did:

Sorry, I didn't get her name to credit

There weren't huge lines like those seen in the UK and US, with ForgeWorld's line rather large when I arrived at 10:45 or so (having worked until 1am that morning). They died down considerably later in the day, and it was organised that people picked up their orders and were moved to a central payment area with six registers going.

Arriving late I unfortunately missed the Black Library seminar, so no comment there :(
So instead I had a wandered around for a bit, catching up with some people until the design studio Q&A with Phill Kelly and Adam Troke.

54mm scale in the Forge World Best in Show category

The Q&A was well populated and fairly interesting. Some points of note:

- In regards to new races they asked "raise your hand if you feel your army is laggin behind in attention?" and used the fair number of hands to illustrate the more pressing need to update the current crop of Codexes first.

- Adam did go on to mention Necrons and Dark Angels as two in need of help, but it didn't sound particularly to indicate any info on forthcoming releases.

- Phil commented he would change the Court of the Archon and Dias of Destruction if he could in Codex Dark Eldar. The Court was at one point planned for a boxed set so you'd have to buy one of each so it made sense to have it that way. The Dias was a last minute job, and needed more tweaking.
He also mentioned changing the Decapitator and making some units better and some worse, but no specifics on why.

- In regards to supplements like Cities of Death and Planetstrike they said the designers used tose as a change of pace or a reward "like desert", and they wanted to do more.

- This led into a discussion about global campaigns. They are limited as they can't have huge ones that change the universe as the results might mess up the story - Adam specifically mentioned that the results for Medusa V were not what they expected. The questioner brought up that it helps get gamers involved in the universe by having a shared goal. They did ask who would be interested and got a strong positve response.

- There was talk about the design process and how ideas come about. Phil said they are trying to change the process from "you will design this" coming from above to a constant stream of pitching ideas and having a more free-flowing creativity.
They have  a giant whiteboard where the studio just put up ideas for anything and get feedback and response on it. Assignments are generally given to the most eager studio member as they'll put the most work in, "and lots of unpaid overtime". There is however competition, including knife fights in the carpark, for some jobs so they painted the studio as very free-flowing.

- Someone asked about FAQs, and the reply indicated there's an assistant designer who is chiefly responsible for them all.

- On playtesting, Adam used the example that for High Elves he personally played 40 games, recording the results, as well as other studio members, White Dwarf guys, "their external playtesting group", and other in-house team members.
There was no fixed amount done though, and it is an elastic amount.

- When asked what they thought on balance, the reply was having a tough but fun game where it could have gone either way at any point. They did acknowledge that they sometimes screwed up, and that they all find it terribly embarrasing.

- A question was asked about release schedules, with Dark Eldar getting more models while some armies are still waiting (this got a chorus of "Tyranids!" from the audience). The reply was that they were changing to try and do a single major release for as much as possible with only some Special Characters being delayed as they can be troublesome to get right.
Ogre Kingdoms was used as the example of this.

- Phil then went on to talk about how they won't be re-treading Forge World, and the Mournfang are distinct creatures from the Rhinox riders. Forge World is there to flesh out the fringes and add depth was they way it was put, and they do their own thing.

- Jervis reads every letter he gets sent, and tells everyone in the studio about them. Adam did a Jervis impersonation for effect.

Forge World Best in Show category

After that I headed down to get Graham McNiel (who had spilt coffee all over himself at some point) to sign my copy of Thousand Sons. The queue was only about 25 minutes, though the signing at the city store on Friday night was apparently much, much bigger. Two guys from Darwin in the line behind me had gone there and given up.

Graham was very nice to talk to, and we had a chat about writing and whatnot, including discussion on making Space Marines seem superhuman and their role in the story. No ground breaking revelations to be had, but it was great to have a good chat with him.

Henry Zou wasn't there, or if he was he disappeared before I saw him. I haven't read either Anthony Reynolds or Matt Farrer's works, so I didn't talk to them.

Single Model category

I didn't go to the Perry twin's Q&A as it started just as I finished talking to Graham. I didn't realise they were going to be there, otherwise I would have brought my copy of Rogue Trader for them to sign. They were here for Dreadfleet, having designed a large number of the ships.
It was rather odd seeing them in person as to me I always imagine them with the mental picture of their portrait in teh back of Rogue Trader or the early White Dwarfs.

40k Squad

I did have a caht with Adam, mostly about kitbashing Chaplain Terminators and the merits of scrounging for bitz around the place. He did mention that Dreadfleet had probably been in the works for around three years total, but would have been around six months work done in one big hit.
Another comment was on new Codexes comign out (someone asked about Dark Angels), and he commented that it was hard to get to everything, but Dark Angels, Necrons and Sisters of Battle need re-doing, though he did add "though Sisters just got a 'hold-me-over' codex in White Dwarf and it's awesome!"

Phil signed my Ork Codes, and we had a talk about games designs (he's a fan of the D10 too), going retro (the 1st ed stuff was an influence on him) and understanding girlfriends with both being horders of stuff.
No revelations here as it was more a hobby chin-wag than anything.

I did some shopping, pickign up the exclusive short story collection, the new artbook, a poster and The Outcast Dead. Wait in line was probably about two minutes or so.

40k Squad

Lastly was the All-In-One Q&A with Phil, Adam, the Perry Twins, Anthony Reynolds, Matt Farrer and Alan Merrit.

- I asked about any editorial control over what they create. I was told the only control there is comes at the start of a project, whether the pitch for a book/model is given a green light or not, and not in terms of any marketing team ("they don't have any" - Alan) or sales driven objectives.

- They were asked about the future of Finecast and the character plastics, and the inclusion of races such as Jokaero and Slyyth as minor notes in the armies.
The response was that they were wanting to include more when they could to give the feeling of a broader universe, as well as more opportunities for modellers. They can't guarantee that every race mentioned will be included though, as it still needs to fit in the army lists.

- Alan talked about introducing new ideas at some length, sparked by a question about computer games and how close they had to follow GW's mandate.
Basically they have to do as they're told, and can't introduce new things. If they have a gap they need filling they come to GW for a filler (such as the Orca in Fire Warrior). The only exception anyone could remember was Phil saying the Rail Rifle in Fire Warrior was designed by Kuju to fill the sniper rifle FPS archetype, and the studio liked it so much they adopted it - everything else is GW's doing. I was tempted to shout "metal bawksez!" or "spess mehreens" at them, but abstained.

He further elaborated that they won't be discarding  and races, as they learnt from their mistake with Squats (and he did specifically call it a mistake) and that they realise now that "they can't pretend like things didn't exist".

- There was quite a lot of talk about plastic models and designing them and whatnot.

Junior Category

After that I had a bit more of a look at the Golden Demon entries and armies on parade, but had to leave to go to work unfortunately, so missed the awards ceremonies.

Relic also had a stand with Space Marine free to play on six TVs. I didn't have a go, but it looked pretty fun. I dont' think I'll be buying it just yet though.

All in all it was a great day, and I'm really glad I went. I'll definitely be going next year!


And if you want more GW goodness, head over to Tales from the Maelstrom where they've got a great interview with Rick Priestley.