Back in the Underhive

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The post game carnage.

I went to my Mum’s house on Sunday for my dinner, as I do on a regular basis and ended up playing a game of the new Necromunda while I was there and along with a very tasty dinner, cooked by my Mum, the game made for a very pleasant day all round.

My youngest bro, Bob had bought it on release day, along with the Gang War supplement and asked me if I wanted the first game with him; of course I wasn’t going to turn down such an offer and just as soon as he’d glued enough gangers together, we played the introductory game in the box lid board section; using the game boxes as scenery and board sections is a pretty spiffy idea on Games Workshop’s part.

I played as the Eschers and Bob played the Goliaths and right from the start the differences in the stat lines of the two gangs set them apart.  In the previous edition, starting stats were identical and the changes came with advancement, whereas this helps to establish an identity for each of the gangs from the rules, up.

As is traditionally the case, my shooting was poor and neither of my lasguns could hit the broad side of a barn, and my champion wasn’t much better with her plasma pistol.  I scored a few hits.  Not as many as I should’ve done but a few. The thing with shooting at Goliaths isn’t hitting them, it’s putting them down; they are seriously resilient.

It seemed as if the writing was on the wall from the off but the Eschers have an ace up their sleeve, the chem thrower, that thing is awesome.  It works in a similar fashion to flamers, at least playing without the advanced rules it did.  I expect it’ll be a bit different with all the advanced stuff layered onto the game.

I managed to get close enough to a couple of Goliaths over the course of the game to take them down with it.  I did this by hopping from cover to cover in true Necromunda style, until I got close enough to blast a dude with it.

Unfortunately, my chem thrower lady was taken out before she had a chance to get a third shot off and my chances of a victory were as good as over at that point, as I only had one lasgun ganger left and she was taken out in short order.

At one point it was looking rather good for the Eschers.  I had three gang members left and had whittled the Goliaths down to two, but as anyone who’s played either edition of Necromunda knows, luck can desert you in a moment and leave you high and dry, wondering how you got into your current pickle.

We only played the game with the basic rules, as per instructions but despite not using any of the advanced stuff, it felt like Necromunda and it’s good to be back in the Underhive.  Now GW just need to release the rest of the gangs, so I can blow all my money on Necromunda gubbinz.

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Bob celebrating his victory and not at all rubbing it in.
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History; History Everywhere

I recently went on a little day trip to Liverpool and I heartily recommend it to anyone who might find themselves in the area.

My oldest Nephew had a job interview there, right down on the waterfront somewhat conveniently and I took the opportunity to go with him, in part to keep him company but also to take in some of the significant amount of museums that are on offer there.

Although I originally hail from Liverpool, it had been a good few years since I’d been there and a lot has changed.  For example my first port of call when I hopped of the train at James Street underground station, The Museum of Liverpool, was still being built last time I was there.

The Museum is situated right on the waterfront, at the Pier Head and I can only imagine it was designed with all the awesome vistas in mind, as every time you come across a window it’s worth stopping for a moment, to drink in the view.

A significant amount of the floor-space is given over to displays and exhibits concerning the history of the docklands, how the city weathered the blitz in particular and World War II in general and also the now defunct overhead railway, with the last surviving passenger carriage on display.

There’s also a very large exhibit concerning Liverpool’s China Town.  Detailing its origins and cultural impact on the city.

I could write at great length about the place but I will simply say it’s awesome and anyone visiting the city would be missing out if they didn’t pay a visit to the place.

Much the same could be said of the Maritime Museum and as you might expect it covers the maritime history of Liverpool in exacting detail, both war and peacetime.  There’s also a large Titanic exhibit, with items brought up from the wreck and a comprehensive timeline, from its construction, to its sinking.

There are an awful lot of scale models of ships, both civilian an military and given my hobby interests, they were something I enjoyed seeing.

By the time I’d done the two museums, I was knackered and had used up more than half of my day. I’d recommend getting the lift to the top and working your way down.  I started at the bottom and worked my way up, using the stairs; this was a mistake.

After the museums, I had a wander round the Albert Dock, got a steak and kidney pie and some chips from a chippy there, took in a fair old slice of the shops on offer, the Lego Shop being the highlight of these. jumped on the train and went home.

I enjoyed my day and saw a lot, but I didn’t even take in half of what was on offer, as I just didn’t have the time (or the energy, by the time I’d hiked up all those flights of stairs in the two museums like a lemon).  There are at least two more museums, an art gallery, two Cathedrals, a ride on the ferry, also a load of Beatles stuff, if that’s your cup of tea.  All that’s just off the top of my head and I’m sure I’ve forgotten stuff.

If your a footy fan, you could even take in a match, if you happen to be there on the right day, with not one, but two Premier League teams, Everton and the other one.  I’m not really a fan, but if asked I’d lean the way of Everton.

Looking back on what I’ve written, I seem to be far more proud of Liverpool than I’d thought I was.  I suppose I’ll always be a Scouser, although I only really sound like one on the phone these days (phones seem to bring my accent out for some reason).

 

 

 

 

 

White Dwarf Review – November 2017

The November issue of White Dwarf is out and has been for a few of weeks, so my review of it is a little later than I intended; time seems to have got away from me a little bit this month.  Anyway, late or not, here it is.

It can’t have escaped the attention of anyone with more than a passing interest in Games Workshop products that a Necromunda release was coming, GW haven’t exactly been quiet about it.  I love this about Games Workshop as a company now.  They don’t deny that releases are happening anymore, they shout it from the rooftops and unsurprisingly it seems to be working for them.

A lot of folks have been getting hecka excited about it and I’m one of them.  Necromunda was a pretty big deal for me last time around and I played hundreds of games of it.  This may sound like an exaggeration, but it really isn’t; I love that game and I got really invested in the lives, and deaths of my gang members.

The wraparound cover of the new White Dwarf (the box art I believe) tells you what you need to know; Necromunda is here and there’s loads inside to read about it.

Planet Warhammer has the boxed game and everything that goes with a new release.  Scenery, gangs (just Escher and Goliath so far), cards, dice and an expansion.  I don’t know what the general feeling on the expansion is but given the contents of it, it feels a little cash grabby to me.

Playing over terrain, Juves for your gang, looking after your territory and gang progression itself are all locked into what would essentially be day one DLC if this were a console game.  To me, all these things are what made Necromunda great and are why I loved it in the first place.

That said, when I can afford the base game. I will probably buy the expansion too, as the core game seems a little pointless without it.  What’s the point of playing endless one-off skirmishes with no repercussions?  It is a bit of a cheap move on GW’s behalf though.

There’s plenty more Necromunda content further into the issue and I’ll cover that in a bit, as there is stuff that’s not related to it in the release section and I should probably give that a bit of a mention.

Shadespire has a couple of new releases in the form of expansions featuring Orruks and Undead respectively.  I don’t own the game but I’ve been lucky enough to get a look at the models from both of them and they are pretty damn fine miniatures; the Undead in particular have a very Jason and the Argonauts sort of look to them.

The breakneck pace of codex releases continues this Month with Tyranids and Craftworld Eldar, and there’s a spiffy little chat with Jervis Johnson and Robin Cruddace covering how they went about putting the Eldar codex together and it’s an interesting little read.

Also, the Eldrad Ulthran model from the Deathmasque box is finally available separately and it’s certainly not before time, I’ve been waiting to get my hands on it since I missed out on Deathmasque.

There’s also some nice looking 40K themed playing cards, with art by John Blanche and a bunch of new hobby supplies, with the standout among them being the painting handle, which is proving to be very popular, if my Twitter feed is anything to go by, with some people buying five of them for batch painting purposes.

After that there’s the usual spread of book and video game stuff, with nothing particularly jumping out at me from either section this Month.

The letters page is fine, if a little bland and immediately following it is Temporal Distort, which is a nice enough read but I consider anything North of the year two thousand to be fairly recent, nevermind two thousand and ten.

As might be expected there is a fair old wedge of Necromunda content this Month and it kicks off with a hefty designers notes piece, which is immediately followed by a comprehensive background section delving into everything you need to know to gain a decent overview of the world, the hive and the gangs.

The Necromunda goodness doesn’t end there, as following all this is a battle report, featuring a clash between the Eschers and the Goliaths.  Mechanically it seems to move a lot quicker than the original version, although whether this is a good, or a bad thing I really couldn’t say.  Personally, I always liked the micro-management style of play in the original, although I know that wouldn’t be for everyone.

The Seasons of War, Firestorm campaign pack seems like it will add a lot to games of AoS, allowing players to link their standalone games into an ongoing campaingn.  Although I don’t currently play AoS, this is the type of thing that piques my interest and time / money permitting, I could see myself getting into the game.

As part of the article, they cover the first part of a campaign and although there’s not much to the battles, the battles themselves aren’t the point of this article and it gives a nice feel for how it all hangs together.

Armies on Parade is, of course, always chock full of lovely looking models and this Month is no exception.  I do have a favourite though, and it’s the Khorne Warband; it’s amazing.  I’ve only ever painted a smattering of Khornate models over the years, never an army (mainly due to procrastination), but They make for eye-catching forces, whatever games system they’re hanging around in and I always enjoy seeing them.

To say that the Golden Demon Classic winners featured next are amazing would be an understatement.  Every single one of them is a masterclass in painting awesomeness and they’re a joy to look at.

They’re not the type of paint-jobs that make it easy to pick a favourite, but if I had to it would be between the Orruk Megaboss by David Soper (who won for the first time many moons ago with a characterful Nurgle Predator) and the Vanguard Palladors by Chris Clayton.  If you get the chance you really need to soak in work that’s gone into these things.  It may sound a little pretentious, but it’s painting like this that makes a case for model painting being art.

‘Eavy Metal Masterclass is a new article, which is essentially an interview with a member of the ‘Eavy Metal team and this Month they chat with a guy from the team called Tom Winstone and show off a lot of his beautifully painted models.  It’s a format I can really get on board with and I hope it sticks around.

The Tyranid designers notes are an interesting look at what went into making the new codex what it is.  With a wee bit about the background and how the Hive Mind is adapting to the Great Rift.  They also go into a bit of detail about the rules and the things they feel they got wrong last time and what they’ve decided to do to rectify these issues.

This Month the featured army in Collecting and painting is a 40K Knight Household, by James Perry and it goes into a fair bit of detail concerning his collecting and painting process and is a genuinely entertaining read.  It’s a good article, with a nice, solid format and even when it’s an army that doesn’t interest me from a background perspective, it’s never wasted space.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same of the next article.  I’ve never been invested in any of Games Workshop’s Lord of the Rings stuff and often find the articles to be a bit of a chore but it’s a shame for all the remaining fans of the game that coverage has become so lacklustre in recent years.  That said, it’s hard to doubt the enthusiasm of the writers of the new Battle Companies supplement, as they really seem to care about the game and its source material.

It says something about the level of commitment that GW have to the LotR, that in the Month the game gets a release that could conceivably breath new life into it, it gets four pages of coverage in the arse end of White Dwarf.

For what it’s worth, Battle Companies seems to be a pretty cool idea, and if GW could be bothered with it, the game could have a bit of a resurgence.  They seem quite content to let it wither away though.

The modelling and the painting articles largely cover Necromunda, as is to be expected, but also has a variety of guides for an assortment of Eldar and mini guides on techniques such as different skin tones, which is something that a lot of people will find interesting.  It’s always a good read, but it’s an article that always makes me buy another pot of paint, or two, or three, but I suppose that’s kind of the point, so well played GW.

Blanchitsu covers what, unfortunately looks like being the last we’re going to see of stuff from the Pilgrym campaign.  Blanchitsu is always on the extreme edge of the hobby but Pilgrym has made this the weirdest part of white Dwarf for quite some time and I’m sorry to see the end of it.

For something a bit more conventional, the Readers Models has, as is always the case a wide variety of nicely painted models to look at, but the thing I like most about it, is that it’s a great showcase for non GW painting styles.  There’s nothing wrong with GW’s house style, it’s very eye-catching but a bit of variety is always nice.

Lastly, in the Bunker is a bit more wee than usual but they manage to fit a lot into a compact three pages.  An awesome Deff Dread conversion, a Necromunda game board, a bit about Shadespire, a spangly Lord of Change paint job and a few bits and bobs besides.

There’s a lot of Necromunda coverage in the November issue but I think they would have been remiss if they’d done anything else, given how long folks have been waiting for it.  That said, they haven’t done too badly as far as balance is concerned.  It’s a little light on non Necromunda stuff but they do manage to shoehorn a little bit of AoS, 40K and even LotR in there.

I love it because it’s so Necromunda heavy, but looking at it objectively it’s not perfect and if I was to be tough on it, I could say that a lot of the non Necromunda stuff feels a little token, but Necromunda! So, I’m going to give it eight Underhive Scum out of ten.

Dinner and a Game of Shadespire

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My Mum makes an awesome Sunday dinner and while I was down there this past weekend, visiting and eating some super tasty beef bourguignon, I was asked if I fancied a game of Shadespire; by one of my Bro’s, not my Mum.  It seems he picked it up on release day.

I’ve been quite intrigued by Shadespire and have been thinking about buying it at some point, so this was the ideal chance to try it out, so I could see if it would be worth spending some quids on.

I played as the Stormcast guys and I really enjoyed it. *  It’s a cheesy phrase, but it seems like an easy game to learn, but a difficult one to master.  It was a pretty stop, start affair, as I’d only had a brief glance at the rules, but it seems to be a game that’ll run smoothly when two people who know what they’re doing play.

Even though the board initially seems limiting, once you add in the objectives and the decks of cards, it makes for an in depth, but quick experience.  Having only played one game, I couldn’t say for sure, but it seems like you’d have to play it a lot before it became repetitive, or boring.  It looks like Games Workshop are going to be giving it a lot of support too.  There are at least two expansions coming up and I would expect most of the Age of Sigmar factions to get their own expansion pack.  Then there’s scope for extra board sections and whatnot.

I’ve made no secret of my lukewarm feelings towards Age of Sigmar, but Shadespire has a really good ruleset and some top-notch models and the fact that it’s set in the AoS world doesn’t impact on the enjoyment of the game one way, or the other.  In fact, I feel like if I had the pennies to spare, it’d be a good gateway into the AoS world.

 

*I won, which may have helped my enjoyment a little.  I don’t have the best track record when it comes to gaming and have lost games in some of the most hilariously unlikely ways over the years.  More recently my win ratio has been increasing though, so maybe my luck’s changing.

White Dwarf Review – October 2017

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The cover of the new White Dwarf.

This issue seems to have come around incredibly quickly.  It doesn’t seem like two minutes since the last one was out and I can quite honestly say that I look forward to each new issue being delivered. *  Before Games Workshop switched back to the monthly format I think I bought White Dwarf each month out of habit, more than an eagerness to read it and it’s never a good thing to have habit as the only reason to do a thing.

A big, bold picture of a Stormcast guy graces the cover and it’s a nice, eye-catching piece of work that puts me in mind of the type of art you’d get on the cover of a comic.

Contents pages; why do you continue to vex me so?

Planet Warhammer has an awful lot of releases this Month.  There’s a mountain of Death Guard stuff, including the Deathshroud Terminators and the new tank, the Plagueburst Crawler, which I must admit I quite like.  Also, Shadespire, which I’ll go into a bit more detail about later.  I should also mention the Astra Militarum Codex, a release which seems to be getting a nice warm welcome from all and sundry.  Although no new model releases for them, which is a little disappointing.

There are a few new books out, but the one that stands out he most is the new Horus Heresy book, Ruinstorm.  I’ve fallen behind somewhat with the Horus Heresy series and it’s something I to want to rectify.  I didn’t even stop for any discernible reason and just kind of drifted away from them.

The letters page was a standard barrage of praise, with the only thing to stand out being a smirk-worthy reply to the Ask Grombrindal letter.

I should make a brief mention of the Warhammer Total War 2 feature.  There are loads of lovely screenshots and a fair bit of reading and it does certainly look amazing, but not being able to play it means my interest in it has been lukewarm at best.

Having mentioned my lack of enthusiasm for Age of Sigmar before I’m not going to go into it again, but Shadespire has really caught my eye.  It has a very intriguing ruleset, using elements of deckbuilding alongside the board-game aspect and it seems like it would be a fun game to play.  It’s also very nice-looking and that’s not just the models.  The board sections, all the cards and tokens all have the look of a well-produced game.  Of course, I only have the pictures to go on but I have no reason to believe the same would not hold true in the flesh.

The Death Guard designer’s notes follow the usual format, with an in-depth look at the design process, the models, artwork, rules and Codex.  It’s an interesting look at the development of an army and as such, a good read.

Thirty Years of Golden Demon serves as an intro to the Golden Demon Classic stuff that comes after it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good read and it stands up as an article by itself.

I haven’t entered anything in Golden Demon for years and haven’t even been near Games Day / Warhammer Fest since 2001 and if I’m being brutally honest, what I did enter wasn’t up to scratch.  The Nagash diorama however, is amazing.  It’s difficult to put into words how good it is, so amazing will have to do.

It’s a sign of the quality of this year’s entries that on any other year the silver and bronze winners might have walked away with the Slayer Sword.  I harbour half formed ambitions of entering Golden Demon again at some point, but if I want to be in with a chance of winning anything, I’m really going to have to pull my socks up and put a shift in.  I’d be buzzing about the place like I’d won the sword if I even made it to the final cut (I’m easily pleased).

It’s the last part of A Tale of four Warlords and it’s finished with a battle report, which sees the two Imperial armies defending against the Eldar and The Iron Warriors, both of whom are doing their own thing and it was a hecka entertaining read.

There’s a duo of Battle Reports this Month, thanks to the concluding part of A Tale of four Warlords, but this Age of Sigmar battle, pitting the Skaven against the Sylvaneth is the main one.  It was an enjoyable battle, with models from both sides dropping like flies and the pace was fast throughout.  It certainly wasn’t one that gave you any time to get bored with it.

The Gretchin Revolution is a feature about Maxime Pastourel’s Gretchin army and it’s quite a ridiculous spectacle to behold. ** It’s one of those articles that I’ll keep going back to for a while and it reminds me of the ridiculous armies of old that featured in White Dwarf on a semi-regular basis, many moons ago.  I’d say it’s probably one of my favourite articles of the Month.

As always, Illuminations is a treat for the eyes, with lots of pretty pictures to look at and this selection of Age of Sigmar stuff is no exception, but I must confess to being in no hurry to see a dwarf in his undies, though it’s a very nicely done piece of art.

Blanchitsu is a round-up of some of the warbands that took part in the Pilgrym campaign and covers three different warbands.  As usual they are exceptionally well converted models, with a visually striking paint scheme.

The Clash at Marrowbreak Spire is a massive battle scene, which shows the airships of the Kharadron Overlords attacking mountaintop tower belonging to the forces of the Flesheater Courts.  It’s a visually stunning battle, with loads of cool vignettes playing out across the whole board.  Mention should go to all the little tricks they used to make the airships look as if they’re flying; from clear plastic flying stands concealed by the stuff the made the clouds out of to the airship kept upright by nothing but the boarding ladder that the little blokes use to get in and out of their ship.

The article about creating your own Space Marine Chapter at first glance seems like a bog-standard space filler, and to a certain extent it is just that.  However, it does have some very useful advice on the sorts of thing to consider when putting a Chapter together; Chapter markings, home-world or fleet based, Codex adherent or not, that sort of thing.  Also, it mentions an invent your own Space Marine Chapter competition on the Warhammer Community website and it comes with a pretty spiffy prize.

Paint Splatter has a guide on Typhus and on Death Guard, in pre-Heresy cream.  There are also guides on three different Guard regiments.  The Guard stuff is interesting, as it covers two regiments that are made from converted models and conversions are always nice to see.

Temporal Distort features another vintage issue of White Dwarf that I remember well.  The cardboard Battle Bunker only saw action a few times on our table-top before it met its end; either sat on, or stood on, its true fate forever obscured by the mists of time.

The Reader Models are the usual eclectic mix of styles, awesomely painted and the segment includes a feature on the models from a painting competition held by the manager of the Shanghai Games Workshop.  The highlight of this is a Battlefleet Gothic ship, with some very impressive lighting effects.

In the Bunker is, as always, an interesting little window into what the White Dwarf team are getting up to.  This month covers the second half of their Warhammer 40,000 league and is presented in the same diddy battle report format as last Month.  Also worth a mention is a really strikingly painted Stormsurge battlesuit, showing just how eye-catching grey can be if it’s done right.

In summary; not quite the tour de force of awesomeness that the previous issue was, but still a very solid issue.  I’m willing to admit that my bias towards 40K might’ve coloured my opinion a wee bit, but last month’s issue did set a very high bar.

That said, this issue did have some very high-quality content.  The Death Guard designers notes and the Gretchin army were both favourites of mine.  With regards to the Death Guard, I’m very glad the design team decided to keep the World War One, trench warfare aesthetic, as it’s what I’ve always liked about them.

This issue gets seven and a half picklehaube’s out of ten. ***

 

*That may sound like the sort of syrupy praise White Dwarf gets on the letters page, but it’s true, I do look forward to it.  It’s far from perfect and there is room for improvement, what I said isn’t a fib though.

**Ridiculous in a good way.  The silly armies are awesome.

***As far as marks out of ten are concerned, I aim to keep it as nerdy as possible.

Keeping Good Company

 

The Ultramarines are my Space Marine Chapter of choice; this is something I think I’ve mentioned here before.  I’ve had an army of them in one form, or another for a very long time and fought my first battles under Rogue Trader rules. So, I’ve liked them for far longer than Games Workshop has been pushing them as the flagship army for 40K, and in fact some of GW’s cringeworthy background choices bother almost as much as they do with the Ultramarine haters. *

My army has always been from the second company, yellow, then later gold shoulder-pad trims.  At first this was because Ultramarines were just painted that way and later it was because I’d always painted them that way and I find it very hard to break a habit once it’s formed.  This has become more and more of an issue for me in recent years though, as every aspect of the second company is mapped out, from their Captain to the name of Squad Sergeants and whether they’re veterans, or not.

It’s something I’ve tried to ignore and have in fact managed to do just that for quite a while, by deciding that I had an alternate version of the second company.  This is something that has never sat quite right with me though.  I’m not a big fan of ignoring canon background, so I was only ever going to be able to convince myself that I was fine with this solution for so long and although I’ve managed to do it for quite a long while, the time for a change has finally come, and it’s a remarkably simple one; change the company that my army is from.

My army leader is now a Lieutenant under the command of Uriel Ventris of the fourth company.  No longer must I have an army that is contrary to canon, with inaccurately named Sergeants and a Captain that has never officially existed.  As long as I acknowledge that Uriel Ventris is the Captain, I can do what I want with my army after that and most importantly, green Shoulder-pad trims look damn spiffy.

 

*That’s probably not quite true, as real haters (the type who’ve been ground down by years of Games Workshop’s ceaseless Ultra-love) can talk at great length about everything from GW’s retconning of the Ultramarines involvement in the Horus Heresy and the codex malarkey afterwards, regarding Rogal Dorn and some others.  To the recent revival of Roboute Guilliman and the quality of the background material surrounding him, and to be fair, their points are not always without merit.

A Pirates Life – A Short Story, by Tom of the North

‘The cap’n says you’re to walk the plank, so walk the plank you lily livered swine!’ Belladonna started poking Brock with the tip of her sword, edging him towards the end of the plank and the shark infested waters roiling around the ship. He was beginning to look a little nervous now, all the confidence […]

via Short Story – A Pirate’s Life — Tom of the North