Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Unboxing: Guild Ball Mystery Box

In early August, and probably in response to how Dark Souls has been received, Steamforged Games had to move to a bigger warehouse. As a way to celebrate - and I guess to clear out some older stock - they offered up a Guild Ball Mystery Box, which would provide a variety of items at a large discount, including two random six player teams.

I'm a fan of Guild Ball, even though it is a game I haven't played often enough - for a start, it is the only game where I can say I have a 100% win record against Jamie Perkins1. I've currently got two teams, in various stages of WIP, in the form of the Mason's Guild and The Union, and had my eye on the Hunter's Guild and Farmer's Guild2 down the line.

As a result, when the Mystery Box came up I was happy to take a punt on it - with eight Guilds on the market I hadn't bought into, I was in with a decent shot at getting ones I didn't own at this stage, which would give my collection some variety. The box turned up recently, so I figured people may be interested in whether it was a good move or not...

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

L5R Honored - View from the Scorekeeper's Desk

The new logo
For those who played Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) - either the collectable card game (CCG) or the roleplaying game - September 2015 was a month that will live long in infamy. It marked the second occasion where the Alderac Entertainment Group had sold the license, this time to Fantasy Flight Games1. At the time, I described this as Jigoku achieving a victory, as the game would be on a hiatus for two years, while FFG developed their version of the game.

Outside the venue
Fast forward two years, to September 2nd 2017. I'm writing this post while at the L5R Honored2 event, an invitational tournament for 100 players from across Europe. The day is being run by FFG as the official Europe launch for their version of the game, following its debut at GenCon. A group of us from Sheffield were asked to come down and help run the event - four Judges, and myself as Scorekeeper.

While I used to play the CCG earlier in its history, I'd stopped playing well before the sale of the license. I was still involved in the tournament scene by working as Scorekeeper as part of the event team at Patriot Games, which hosted multiple Kotei3 tournaments, and the 2014 L5R World Championship. I haven't played the new game at all yet, which isn't that surprising when the game hasn't been released yet.

Still, the chance to work at something like this, and make a good impression with the new people behind the game, is a powerful incentive, so our team travelled down on the Friday, doing battle with the Tube to make it to our venue by mid-afternoon. As a result, we got roped in with helping decorate, and retired to our rooms late in the evening.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Dysartes Delves Into Deathtrap Dungeon

Ian and helpers - and coffee!
UK Games Expo is always an interesting weekend for me - the variety of traders, the range of upcoming Kickstarter projects, the deals to be had. One element of it which has become a bit of a tradition for me is leaving the show with signed books, at least some of which were written by Jonathan Green. 2017 proved to be no different, and when I arrived on the Saturday I almost immediately managed to pass by the stand he was on - by accident, I assure you.

This year, there were other authors sharing the stand with him, one of which I recognised from previous years - a certain Mr Ian Livingstone, of Fighting Fantasy fame. Both he and Mr Green1 were doing rather good deals on signed books from that series, and I found my collection expanding from a lone volume up to seven - and my shopping bag getting distinctly heavier!

Fast forward a few weeks, and I had an overnight trip to London to deal with for work. As I wasn't sure who else might be around, I'd packed a little light reading to keep me occupied on the train and in my hotel room - and, on an impulse, decided to pack one of my recent Fighting Fantasy acquisitions, along with dice and some paper to make notes. In this case, I was going to be taking expedition to the depths of Deathtrap Dungeon, to see what Fate had in store for me...

Friday, 16 June 2017

Unboxing: Dark Imperium

"Dysartes here, your roving reporter in the field, alongside this unit of Primaris Marines of the *CRACKLE* Chapter for the ongoing conflict with these renegades. I've been reliably informed that the sickness spreading amongst the civilian population is still spreading, and that this may be the doing of the Death-"

[-- =][= TRANSMISSION TERMINATED BY ORDER OF THE INQUISITION =][= --]

Whoops...

All joking aside, this weekend is a big one for Warhammer 40,000, for it marks the official1 release of the 8th edition of the core rules. As I write this, I'm at one of my local game stores, where they've been doing a midnight release event, followed by an 8th edition tournament tomorrow.

Why am I at the release event? To pick up my copy of the Dark Imperium boxed set, and then take a look at it in detail2. I'm going to be looking at the box as a product, rather than looking at the rules in too much depth - I've had one demo game, so need to get more games under my belt before I can comment on whether this is the edition that saves the franchise, or dooms it...

With the preamble out of the way, let's take a look at this set:

New box, new art...

In case you've been living in a cave since Dark Imperium was announced, the set contains two monopose plastic starter forces to learn the new game - the Death Guard for Chaos Space Marines, and an expansion to the Space Marine line in the form of the Primaris Marines, a new generation of larger Space Marines.

Once you remove the sleeve from the box, there's even more new art to appreciate.

Once you remove the outer sleeve of the box, you'll find a removable upper box, with more materials below it. A careful shake gives off the rattle of plastic sprues - but we'll come back to that later.

As you can see, there is a place for everything, and everything is in its place.

As a bit of a change in tack from recent sets, this box contains the full hardback rulebook for this edition. In contrast, Death Masque had a small softback rulebook, which cut out most of the art and background material.

To be honest, this is a change I'm not sure about. The rulebook is a £35 purchase on its own, so makes up a significant chunk of a £95 boxed set - and that is a lot of money for the product which is meant to be the hook to get people into your system. While it is nice to get the full book, I think I'd've preferred a smaller paperback.

Wait, there's more!

Hiding under the rulebook is even more reading material, as well as a sheet of Imperial transfers - interestingly, there aren't any transfers for the Death Guard side of the box. The pack to the right of the above picture contains three smaller books - a construction guide for the figures3, and mini-Codex equivalents for the Primaris Space Marines and Death Guard units included in the starter. There's also a reference sheet for the rules, which seems to replicate in full a number of the core rules pages.

Given the rulebook is the standard one for this edition, this gives prospective players all the information they need to understand the forces they're using - and to use similar forces in normal games outside of the starter set.

Life in the bilges

Under the card insert which is holding the books in place, you'll find a variety of little bits that you'll need if you're new to the game - and some things you'll need even if you're not (namely the bases). There is also a floppy plastic ruler4, and a set of dice. Sticking them down in the base of the box makes good use of what would otherwise be wasted space.

This box is sealed by order of the Inquisition

A quick note on one design choice regarding the upper box, which I said earlier that we'd be coming back to. While you might want to dive straight in, you need to breach an Inquisitorial seal in order to do so. And those familiar with the lore know what the likely outcome of that choice will be...

All the brand-new plastic crack...

For existing players, the above picture is probably the highlight of the set - eight sprues of new models, four for each faction. All the sprues feature the inventive cutting Games Workshop have been utilising for the last several years, allowing for models in plastic that weren't really possible when 3rd edition launched, for example.

While I haven't yet started to assemble anything5, I find that I'm looking forwards to putting them together, once I decide how I'm going to base them. Having looked at the figures my LGS has assembled and painted, I'm not keen on the jump pack Primaris, but the rest of the models are pretty good. For once, I even find that I'm going to enjoy painting Chaos, and I normally loathe that faction.

Conclusion

What do I think of this set? Well, I'm divided on the issue - everything in the set is well executed6, and shows excellent design values. On the other hand, £95 is a lot for an introductory product, and will generate a lot of sticker shock on the shelf.

If you're already an active 40k player, then you're going to pick up the box anyway. And if you do, I think you're going to be happy with it. However, I don't see it working to get new blood into the game - but it might bring back some lapsed players.


1 - As opposed to all the unofficial leaking. Seriously, people, can't you lot wait for a release date?
2 - And to paint a Lizardmen Blood Bowl team, but I'm guessing you're not bothered about that.
3 - As, despite these being monopose figures, they're not Blood-Bowl-esque snap-fit figures. Ploy cement will be required.
4 - Unfortunately, it seems that the day of the red whippy stick has passed. I call upon you for a moment's silence in memory of the red whippy stick...
5 - Mainly as I've been trying to write this post since I got the box, and I'm finding it hard to concentrate...< br/> 6 - Especially the heretics...

Monday, 29 May 2017

Unboxing: Oathsworn Miniatures: Burrows & Badgers - New Blood

I was aware that Kickstarter campaigns could run for varying lengths of time, but it wasn't until Boxing Day that I realised that a really short campaign could do surprisingly well.

Why Boxing Day? Well, that was when Oathsworn Miniatures ran their New Blood Kickstarter for their Burrows & Badgers line - and ran it for just 24 hours.

The combination of the two things struck me as a bit odd - you'd expect potential customers to be busy on Boxing Day with family affairs, while most Kickstarter campaigns rely on the first and last 2 or 3 days to raise the bulk of their funds. Stripping a campaign down to 24 hours, especially on Boxing Day, felt like it should've been a disaster.

Instead, the micro-campaign was a roaring success, funding in less than 20 minutes and eventually raising nearly nine times the initial funding goal from over 300 backers. I'm still not sure exactly how they did it, but I recently received the fruits of the campaign, so I reckon it is time to take a look...

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Tor Gaming - Death from Above

The Relics C'thu range keeps on growing - Gav1 still has several codes from the initial C'thu line to release, and this month it was the turn of the Vesparther. Given I'm working on a C'thu army, alongside my Britanans, I pre-ordered them, and was fortunate enough that Gav was feeling generous, as I got them a little early.

While this is the third time I've reviewed a C'thu figure, I'll give you a quick recap - Relics is a skirmish game produced by Tor Gaming2, a small company based in Sheffield, UK. It is described by its creator as a stitch-punk game, and sees forces from six different factions3 battling it out in the world of Relicia. A second edition of the game is, at time of writing, undergoing a final public review and test before going to print, so this is a good time to think about diving in.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Oathsworn Miniatures: Burrows & Badgers - Figures

It is often surprising the new ranges and companies you find at shows - even if they've been around for a while, they can still be new to you. I'd vaguely heard of Oathsworn Miniatures before I attended UK Games Expo in 2016, due to their Heroines in Sensible Shoes Kickstarter campaign, though it hadn't grabbed my attention enough to back it myself.

While I was at the Expo, though, I came across a cabinet of painted figures on their stand, and realised by the end of the weekend that I needed to own some of them. These weren't the Heroines, but rather the Burrows and Badgers range. For someone who grew up reading the Redwall series, these were a firm kick in the nostalgia.

Burrows and Badgers figures at UK Games Expo 2016