Valhalla Review

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At Salute I saw a lot of wonderful things, but each game system seemed to follow a similar path of a needing a large rulebook costing about £20,  so it’s nice to see a different approach in Valhalla, published by East Street Games. A Viking era skirmish game, harking back to the idea of cheap rule sets, no fixed model range and an emphasis on modifying as required rather than sticking to the letter of the rules.

It also has a unique online component built into the game, whereby you generate your warband, record any experience gained, and can then watch it grow with each victory.

As for the rules themselves, well they’re pretty solid, albeit with a few glaring holes that, at times, may be irritating. The most interesting of them is that you have several lines of health boxes which means, as they are filled in due to injury, a fighter gets progressively worse at fighting to represent having taken a few blows.

Games focus around ‘benches’ – groups of warriors commanded by a powerful leader who sets the morale and tells the warriors what to do. Each turn models have three action points to use which each model must use before moving to another, making turns quick and fast even with a dozen models on the table. In a nice nod to realism, you set your warriors tasks at the beginning of the game such as ‘burn those houses’ or ‘capture those villagers’ which your warriors won’t deviate from unless provoked, so its even possible that games could happen and warriors not encounter a fight at all, or else a crafty defender could pick off an opponent from afar before they have time to react.

Sod the historical realism though I hear you cry- how good is the combat!? Pleasantly brutal I have to say. Evoking the fast and deadly nature of hand to hand combat at the time, heroics by single models will result in a quick death for them as they get surrounded by enemies. So players with lone models caught off guard have to resort to stalling tactics until their friends turn up, or else risk running away. It’s for a good reason that Valhalla insists you start a game together as one bench. Teamwork is the name of the game here.

Now to talk about the online component, it’s pretty easy to set up and generate your own warband. Upload pictures of your models, choose what nationality you would like (Cornish, Saxon, Viking etc), the type of warrior you want, generate your models stats and then choose weaponry and equipment. Each page is dedicated to a single task, so you are never confused about what to do or how to do it and its a pretty quick process, with my two bands of Cornish and Gailic warriors (each 8 models strong) being generated in 30 mins.

Now the online mode is handy, but it also reveals some of the drawbacks of the method. For one, it relies on the East Street Games having the time to update the game as it promises it will. The rulebook itself has no scenarios in it and none on the site as of this time, so it would have been useful to have a few in the rulebook to get peoples imaginations going and tide them over until East Street Games found the time to upload a few more to the website. The reliance on the site for keeping track of each models generation, growth and equipment may irk a few used to doing that with pen and paper after each game. There’s also a few formatting errors in the rulebook that were very obvious and should have been caught by someone before printing happened.

Overall though, Valhalla is worth your time. Its a game that will reward you the more time you put into it if you are willing to meet it half way initially. The solid base of rules and encouragement of modding and changing the game yourself is an attitude I wish more game developers had.

If there’s a Viking era skirmish game worth trying today, try Valhalla. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at both the depth to the rules and at how cheap the game is, probably being £50+ for the two warbands of 12 warriors a side (depending on where you buy them) and a core rules system that should only get better with time.

Not bad for rules that only cost me £5.

Valhalla is available from East Street Games.

Mailfaux – A Review

Malifaux

Well actually it should technically be Malifaux 2nd edition – a review but who wants to get bogged down in semantics? So this review has probably been a long time coming, especially as I can’t resist a skirmish game and it must be said that with so many great games out there we did sort of let the 1st edition rules pass us by. That said good things come to those who wait and when Phil dropped the rule book off to me I wasn’t disappointed.

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So for those of you that don’t know, Malifaux is a skirmish game designed by Wyrd Miniatures for 32mm scale models. If you are anything like me then I am sure you are saying nothing new there (because I know I did). However that reaction was short-lived. The game, like many others, is based on an alternative version of Earth and is heavily focused on magic, but describes itself as a collection of Gothic, Steampunk and Victorian Horror with a dose of the Wild west thrown in. Now I’m sure you will agree that is quite a combination and makes for a game with a fairly unique feel.

With this mish-mash of genres the game has a really diverse background and brings with it some very unique factions and given Wyrd almost unlimited possibilities when designing the characters for each. This has resulted in some great miniatures and some really likeable characters that I am looking forward to collecting.

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Perhaps likeable is the wrong word…Mal img 2 Mal img 3 Mal img 4

For Malifaux 2.0, Wyrd has increased the number of factions so there are now 7 to choose from and with each one being very different. It means there is almost definitely a faction for every brand of mayhem. Wyrd have also been clever as there are different groups within each faction meaning that you can even take the same faction in several different directions.

With such an original background to get excited about I was initially surprised when the premise of the game was quite so standard. A city in ruins begins to be repopulated and opposing factions are fighting for territory and resources (in this case Soulstones). For any Mordheim player (or for that matter any skirmish gamer), this is nothing new. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that is a bad thing. There is a simple reason why so many games use this formula…because it is fun and it works. What Wyrd have done well with Malifaux is thinking up a variety of scenarios to play, including a lot of character driven stories, that will keep things fresh. And I must say some of them sound quite cinematic, which I always like.

So onto the book itself, I am pleased to say that my first impressions were positive. The print quality is pretty good and the book doesn’t feel cheap, which is one of my biggest gripes with some other gaming around, especially when you consider the price you are expected to pay for them. Considering the variety of styles Malifaux incorporates, most of the artwork has done a really good job of capturing the feel of the Malifaux universe and life through the breach.

The book is set out in a logical way which makes sense to read, taking you first on a journey through the background. There are a lot of great stories, setting the scene for each faction and some of their main characters which helped me decide which faction was for me. It also gives you all the profiles and rules you need for each faction so there is no need to buy a separate army book which is always a win. But it’s a two-edged sword as background can be sacrificed on the altar of page limits.

Wyrd have split the Malifaux rules into 3 parts, starting with the basics then going into more depth on the game’s core mechanics and then working examples of all elements of a turn within the game. Examples are well explained and although more diagrams could be useful, it seems that Wyrd have fine-tuned their explanations since version 1 as most of them are very clear. This methodical approach will hopefully prevent a lot of aimless flicking through the book for the one rule you really need but can’t find.

The game has some quite unique game mechanics that make it feel different to others with the biggest difference being that Malifaux doesn’t use any dice. At all. Instead you use a fate deck based on a standard poker deck, and if I’m honest I am not 100% sure of how I feel about this. Call it naivety or delusion but I always feel as if I have some influence over a random dice roll whereas with a card deck you know you will only ever score four 13’s and you are quite likely to score four 1’s. It certainly is an interesting way of ensuring a levelling the playing field, that is unless you want to cheat fate. Once I had read the rules I was interested to see that Wyrd have added a way to cheat fate by allowing you to have a small hand of fate cards you can choose to play instead of drawing from the main fate deck.

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The rules seem to work well and make for a very enjoyable game or short campaign, especially if you play one of the character driven story lines but there does seem to be one factor that other skirmish games may do better and that is character development. Malifaux hasn’t completely neglected this as they have included some faction specific upgrades that can be purchased for characters. Whilst this does help to slightly improve your characters I’m not entirely sure it will be enough to really get you attached to you heroes as they develop new skills or issues which is something that Mordheim, for example, really excels at. This could only really prove to be a real issue in long-term campaigns and certainly doesn’t stop it being really enjoyable for one-off games, or short campaigns and it is definitely a game I can’t wait to play more.

The Malifaux 2nd edition rule book is available at Firestorm Games priced £25.19.

– Neil

Concrete City Base Tutorial

So time for another tutorial! I was looking around and saw loads of different base tutorials but I could never find a good fairly simple one for concrete/city bases! So I thought id have a bash myself and these are the results. As with all of my tutorials I will try to keep the materials readily available and make the process fairly easy!

The materials you will need:

1. Oven Bake Clay (I use Super Sculpey Original personally)

2. Sand

3. Your bases

4. 1 Small Plasticard sheet(optional)

5. Black Primer Spray

6. Dark Grey and Light Grey paints

7. Yellow and White Paint(optional)

8. Toothbrush (this is optional but make sure its a spare one!)

9. An Oven

10. A little bit of Flour and a Rolling Pin

11. PVA Glue

12. Scissors

13. Super Glue

A little information on the oven bake clay first. I use Super Sculpey personally and the best way to describe this product if you’ve never heard of it is that its like plasticine in consistency. You can work the clay as much as you like and when you are happy you bake it in the oven to make it go hard.

Getting Started

You need to work the clay in your hands until it comes a little more workable, make sure you’ve got a good palm sized ball, when you’ve worked the clay and its a nice ball you want to take the flour and dust your worktop. When you have dusted the worktop take your rolling-pin and roll out the clay until it’s about 1mm in thickness, the flour is so that when your turn the clay or try to pick it up it wont stick to the side and tear.

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Now when you have done this you want to put it in the oven. The time and temperature you bake the clay at will vary on the brand you use. For Super Sculpey its 130C and 15 minutes for every 6mm so I baked my sheets for 6-7 minutes, while the sheets baked a took the time to make multiple sheets

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The sheets will be hot when they come out of the oven so take great care when handling them, they will also be slightly malleable still as well so I chose to lightly apply a rolling pin again to smooth out any curls.

Next step is to take the sand bases and PVA and stick the sand to the bases do a full coverage on the top of the bases, most of this will be covered later but its best to cover the whole base like so.

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Now you’ll need to wait for these to dry or if you are impatient like me bake the bases on a very very low temperature in the oven, I use the very first heat setting if you do this too high you will melt the bases so be careful!

Hitting the Road

Now when everything is dry and cool you want to take the sheets of hardened clay and break off a base sized piece and use your scissors to trim the piece to size but putting in jagged lines and nipping at the sides to give a broken look. To vary the bases up gently take your scissors and cut the piece in half in an uneven pattern, gently do this and remember where you cut as you’ll want to glue these pieces next to each other in the base like so…

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Now you’ll be able to feel the texture of the clay and you will notice its not entirely smooth which will give us a nice textured finish, when the glue has dried then spray all the bases with your black primer making sure you get a full coverage.

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Its time to start applying paint now so take your darker grey and cover all the edges of the clay including all the sand areas, you can apply this however you want I used an airbrush personally for the short amount of time it takes.

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Next we want to take our lighter grey and apply it to the centre of the clay sections again I did this with an airbrush but you could do the same with a sponge or by drybrushing the colour on, this will give us a two toned look and make the bases start to pop a little and not seem so flat.

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As you can see the bases now look a little more alive and natural if you want you can stop here but lets take things a little further and make them a bit more vibrant so we want to take our small plasticard sheet and cut out some road marking shapes I cut out a long section and some smaller ones to act as road markings as you can see this will make a stencil to apply over our bases with the coloured paint

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Now take the stencil and apply you paint through the stencil gently as if you use too much you will get run offs and smudges on to your bases, once you’ve done this wait for the paint to dry and use the toothbrush to scrub the colours to give the lines a more distressed and worn look

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That’s all there is too it! you can leave the edges of the bases grey to tie in with the top or paint them black for a little more definition, i paint mine as I have all my base edges black, and here is a picture of what they look like with models on.

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I hope you liked the guide and thanks again for reading!

Mark / LemonPainting

 

#warmongers Miniswap 2014 – Update!

warmongers miniswap 2014

Time for an update on the #warmongers #miniswap for 2014!

Lots of activity going on and some have even completed their models! Others are in transit (sorry Darren, it is on its way!) and some are preparing to swap after a false start.

Anyway, here are some shots of the minis swapped thus far:

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Miniature for Jay (@souljacker1974) painted by Patrick

patrick-by-Jaynffc-complete1Miniature for Patrick, painted by Jay

And some unpainted swaps that have already taken place:

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My miniature to paint for Darren (@darrenbogus)

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Wouter-for-richardWouter’s (@woutertje_l) miniature, being painted by Richard(@Tango_Taylor)

 So, as you can see, lots of fun things being swapped back and forth and plenty of progress going on. Keep the wip shots coming in miniswappers and I’ll do another update post soon – hopefully with some proper progress of my own to show off!

– Rob

Warhammer 40,000 7th Edition – White Dwarf Leaks

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Following some mysterious trailers and the promise of the 24th of May being a significant release date in the Warhammer 40,000 schedule there are now some leaked White Dwarf images for us to pore over and, judging by the state of Twitter, get in a bit of a tizzy over.

You’ve no doubt seen them already, but just in case you haven’t, here they are:

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Prometheus unbound?

Much of the furore has been around the comments surrounding the Force Organisation Chart which, apparently, can FOC off in the new edition (it’s called ‘Battle-forged now anyway), if you want it to with the introduction of what are described as ‘unbound’ armies. Of course lots of ‘jumping to conclusions’ has inevitably ensued. We do like to have a good cathartic rage out about these things don’t we? I remember when flyers were the death of 40K, then it was lord of war choices, etc. etc. – judging by the sales of Imperial Knights and Imperial Guard Astra Militarum models, there are plenty of people out there still enjoying playing the game… Still I digress, battle-forged/unbound is the point under discussion here.

For me, whatever the end result of armies appearing on the tabletop, most of the internet is missing the big picture here, Games Workshop has just handed all 40K players and tournament organisers a ridiculously easy way to restrict some of the crazier combinations that the unbound choices may allow (it’s important to note that unlike some people have been suggesting, this will not lead to armies of 20 riptides rushing at you and all you get is some poxy ‘bonus’ for being battle-forged – unit count restrictions and NEW allies restrictions will still need to be considered). How so, I hear you ask. Well, it goes like this. You are arranging a game with a friend and you say “are we playing battle-forged or unbound armies?”, your friend replies “I fancy battle-forged this time”, you say “OK”. Job done. Tournament organisers can follow the same approach, simply stating “Battle-forged lists only”, if they wish. That’s all I’ve got to say on it before I actually see some proper rules from the actual rule book, but it feels to me as though Games Workshop might have handed us an easy way to choose whether we want to play normal or crazy-ass 40K and to state that clearly before any game we play.

BFFs?

There’s a new allies matrix promised as well, which I think could be one of the more interesting additions in this edition, as it gives GW a chance to tidy up some of the mismatched advantages that some allied forces obtained in 6th, and which were the bane of many a tournament player in recent times. Obviously we don’t have any details yet, but I’m hoping that allied forces as a whole will be less beneficial to both sides of the ally relationship, especially with the new psychics phase in play (I can see a shift towards Warhammer Fantasy ally rules coming), but we shall see.

New Magic Psychic phase

It also appears that we’ve got a brand new (or not so new, depending on how long you’ve played 40K for) dedicated psychics phase, utilising the tried and trusted approach found in Warhammer. The more astute amongst have already suggested that this is an example of ‘rules alignment’ to encourage, in the same vein as Privateer Press do with their Warmachine/Hordes formats, cross fertilisation between Games Workshop’s two main games. There’s also the promise of two new disciplines available to all (except Tyranids, who as we all know don’t mess around with the warp for their psychics): Daemonology. It sounds as though the two flavours it has ‘Santic’ and ‘Malefic’ may have a banishment/summoning mechanic within them and the side bar that you can’t quite read in the second image tells the tale of a Space Marine Librarian, reduced to his final wound and desperate to turn back the Tyranid tide, summons forth a Bloodthirster to do his bidding… Now I know to many this is anathema to the way of the Space Marine, but (and it’s a big but), don’t forget that the current trend in 40K is about the narrative, and there are plenty of novels and bits of fluff around that describe desperate times being the downfall of many a Space Marine on their fall to chaos.

Millions of tictacs!

We’re all getting minty fresh breath! Oh, wait, no I got that wrong again. Tactics. They’re changing through the introduction of Tactical Objective cards alongside the standard missions we know and love and it looks like we’ll about to get about a billion (or so) options based on the myriad of combinations that they offer. This feels like a bit of a gift to tournament organisers to me (yes, I said it, GW helping out tournaments!) as tournaments often use secret objectives and so on to spice up the standard missions and this way they can draw those from a pool of well-established and universally understood options, rather than thinking up their own, trying to word them in an easy to understand way and explain them to players, etc. It will also mean that people will be less resentful of the in-game effect that secret missions or tournament objectives can have, as they’ll be standard fare and everyone will be used to playing with them in hand and being on the look out for the ones their opponent might be attempting to achieve.

Lucky number 7?

Anyway, those are my ramblings on what’s now known about what is (almost certainly) definitely Warhammer 40,000 7th edition. I’m enthused for it all (I’m a fairly enthusiastic chap in general when it comes to hobby, to be honest!) and I’m looking forward to the 24th to get my sticky mits on the latest edition of 40K. There’s obviously change afoot, but my impression thus far is that it’s change to allow narrative gamers to play even more narratively (I’m sure that’s a real word) and tournament players to have more established ways to standardise their games. Of course we don’t actually know anything yet, and that’s important to bear in mind, but there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful!

– rob

Flames Tutorial

For my first article as resident painting bloke, I thought it would be best to do a tutorial on how I did the flames on my Imperial Knights! I took these to Throne of Skulls in March and I was lucky enough so be selected as one of the best looking eight armies. Below is the picture of my four knights for the purposes of this tutorial we will focus on the traditional flame colours. This tutorial can be applied to a range of different colours as you can see by the lead green knight.

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Okay so all the pictures below are done with the top plate as this will give us a nice surface to play around with the technique.

The tools you will need for achieving this are:

1. Airbrush and Compressor

2.Black Primer (for the initial basecoat)

3. 1 Plasticard sheet

4. Scissors

5. A dark grey colour, light grey colour, white, red, yellow and finally orange (personally I use a mixture of Vallejo and Minitaire paints).

So the plasticard and the scissors are the first pieces you will need to cut out two templates. One template must be cut into a wave and the other cut into tear drops of different sizes as seen below.

You can buy templates like this online but it’s just as easy to make your own, the plasticard will swell after time but you can just make new ones by doing it this way. I did all four knights with this set and they just about need replacing.

Now we want to start with your dark grey colour and we need to position the template with the rounded section at the very base of the front of the base plate. Set your compressor to around 25 psi as this will give you more control as we need to go around the edge of the template. Keep the template still and carefully go around the edges aim for just inside the template then if you accidentally spray more paint it wont be too bad! Keep moving around the piece until you get an effect such as this.

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While you’ve got this colour in the airbrush go over all the pieces in a similar fashion you want to have this effect on.

Next comes the wave piece we cut out, we want to use this piece to give our original pattern a bit more of a flowing feel so go to the edges and pull the grey back in as we shall see in the next picture.

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Now after we’ve done this we need to go back to our original template and get the lighter grey and we want to edge highlight our original pattern. Now, the key is to try to not to overlap the original darker grey too much. Try and keep this quite fine but don’t worry about doing it absolutely everywhere. You should get a finish similar to this…..

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At this point you might be losing a little bit of faith that we are heading in the right direction but fear not were about to start bringing the panel to life! Granted it doesn’t look much look a flame at the minute so let’s add some red. Personally I use Vallejo Scarlet Red here and you want to put a thin layer over the whole piece. If you put too much of a coat on here you will obscure our hard work so far so remember keep it light and go for multiple coats if you need to.

So lets add that red colour:

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So the first red coat is on and it’s looking a bit more flamey. As we’ve tried using the templates once already so let’s do it again. Add the light grey again using our teardrop template and our wave template. Don’t worry about the positioning just put it wherever you like just like the first layer.

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Don’t worry about covering your hard work so far as we are about to take it to another level! Now it’s time to use our orange colour and again like we did with the red we want to apply a thin coat over the whole piece again.

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Now were getting somewhere! The flames are starting to pop now. Don’t worry about the shine the paint will give the piece as we can add a Matt Varnish here later on to protect our hard work and to dull the shine, personally I use Army Painter Matt Varnish.

For the next step we want to use our white and very carefully add some highlights to our orange section. As you can see on the right hand side I got a bit trigger happy and put far too much white down. We can quickly solve this by just repeating the above steps though. Don’t add too much white as we don’t want too much showing through so a similar amount to what I added in my next photo and you will be fine. Of course all tastes are different so don’t take my guide as gospel experiment your self and see what happens.

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I like to use the wave template at an angle roughly 45 degrees and spray a very fine coat near your highlights at this stage it looks like we’ve ruined it slightly but the steps are really simple so you can just redo them if you don’t like the results.

After the white highlights we need to take our final colour which is yellow and again like the red and orange add a thin layer all over the piece to achieve a finish like this.

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So as we can see I wasn’t happy with the excess white so I re-sprayed it black and started again this only took a few minutes to do another new layer. As the layers are really thin with an airbrush you don’t have to worry about clogging the detail too much.

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Have a play around to get a finish you like, if you think the yellow is too bright then use the light grey again instead of the white as this will give it more of a subtle look.

One last picture is one of the knights in the cabinet on the second day of Throne to give you a complete look at the finished model. When you add all the pieces together you will then get more of a striking model. This technique can be used on all sorts of models.

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I hope you enjoyed my first article and I hope you found this article informative. Don’t be scared to give this a go as you can see each step is quite simple but gives a completely different finish.

Thanks for reading,

– Mark

Path of the Incubus – A Review

Path of the Incubus

Launching right after the events of its predecessor, Path of the Incubus rattles along at a frantic pace, successfully building upon themes introduced in the first novel.

Warning contains spoilers!

Things are bad in Commorragh. Really, really bad. Though the end of Path of the Warrior provided the death of the budding Daemon Lord, the damage has been done and cracks have formed in the shell that protects The Dark City from the predators of the Warp. Daemons are gathering for a feast, disjunction is imminent, and the only guys who can stop it left the city long ago.

Which leaves only the not-so-merry band of murderous sociopaths from the first book to clean up the mess whilst trying to blame it all on someone else [Sounds like most companies in Britain today. -Ed.]. So all is well then.

Path of the Incubus manages to perform the delicate balancing act of bringing periphery characters who were previously only part of the background into prominence, whilst spending a little less time with those who we got to know well in the first book but not to the detriment of the whole. The story is split into three…ahem…paths, all with different destinations, with several other sub plots spinning around them. In the hands of a lesser writer this sort of tale would collapse in on itself in a jumbled mess, but Andy Chambers keeps things all finely balanced and on tenterhooks, so we get to not only see how the many tiers of Commorragh are affected by the disjunction, but also on the wider galaxy.

Archon Yllithian is back and fighting to defend himself from daemons along with Asurbel Vect, who has begun to suspect he may have a hand in the events unfolding. The less fortunate characters are trapped fighting to ascend, and then descend, the levels of Commorragh in search of safety. Their hope? Freedom from the attentions of not only the Great Enemy, but their fellow Dark Eldar, who wish to destroy anyone who could be a vessel for daemons – and with this being the Dark City, they tend to shoot first and ask questions later.

But the real focus, carving their way through the core of the novel and into the halls of one of the greatest partnerships in fiction are Morr – a disgraced Incubi – and Motley – one of the mysterious Harlequins. Both have to travel outside the Dark City and though Morr at first seeks death, with gentle prodding from Motley, he comes to realise he can be of more use in achieving a greater goal.

The duo was the novel’s secret weapon, delivering payloads of character development into the joy centres of my brain.  Every small skirmish felt important and when the important themes of the book kicked in, they felt delivered by well-rounded beings instead of just mouthpieces for the author.

It’s worth mentioning the astonishing breadth of fight scenes and locations covered too. From long dead crone worlds, sheltering from daemons in the Dark City, to the heart of a Maiden world, each fight seemed determined to try to introduce a new element to it, a new emotion for me to feel.

It’s rare for a novel to so completely improve upon its predecessor, but Path of the Incubus does that. Whilst I was a bit more disappointed by the ending of this novel compared to the last, its one of the few complaints I can have and one must assume the next book in the series will explain all.

Pick up the Dark Path series today, with the last in the trilogy out now, it’s the perfect time to acquaint yourself with the Dark Eldar.

Path of the Incubus is available from the Black Library with the Dark Eldar bundle. The individual novels and the many shorts from Andy Chambers are also available.

Warzone Resurection – A Review Part 3

warzone

It’s a strange thing to read through the rules for a game that you are almost certain you will never actually play. In one way it helps one be objective but I appreciate that it might blind me to some of the practical implications of what I’m reading. What seems perfectly clear when I was reading it on the bus might seem a lot more ambiguous when the dice are rolling and you need to know exactly how much you need to roll for that crucial armour test.

Overall, there are about 80 pages of rules, including about 20 on scenarios and army selection. The text is broken up with artwork so never becomes too dense and there are helpful summary flowcharts and diagrams (using some of the few pictures of painted models in the book).

My overriding impression of the rules is that the game writers must have been trying really hard to make everything as clear as possible. I’ve read rules written by a few different companies now and it’s rare to come across such clear and seemingly unambiguous instructions on how to play. Having only read through the rule section once I feel like I understood pretty much all the mechanics described.

There are even paragraphs setting out things like rerolling dice that go of the table, how to calculate multiple modifiers (multiply, then add), pre-measuring, etc. The designers seem to want to minimise disagreements/arguments/cage fights as much as possible.
On the other hand, the rules are laid out in one of the most eccentric orders I have other come across. Granted my expectations are shaped by games which have generally had a very different game/turn sequence but even so, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of logic to the order the rule sections are printed in.

Warzone Resurrection uses a D20 based system wherein all stats are given out of 20 and all actions (rolling to hit, armour tests, break tests) are decided by rolling under the appropriate stat. This contrasts to some systems which use a variety of different dice mechanics for different things. Having the stats being out of 20 also means there can be a bit more granularity with stats more fully showing a range of ability.

Every model has two actions per turn which can be spent on a variety of basic (1point) and advanced (2point) actions. Models are activated individually and although bound by squad coherency can act relatively independently. Alternatively models in a squad can spend points to contribute to combined actions which produce a single more powerful attack for use against larger, more dangerous foes. It’s quite an intuitive system and seems quite flexible.

There are some interesting rules which seem like an attempt to inject a bit more fluff/narrative into the game itself such as different types of weapons being more/less effective against certain kinds of armour and the rules which allow bonuses to template weapons used against targets in cover. There is also a diverse selection of special rules, not dissimilar to the compendium of universal special rules in the 40k rulebook. These all do pretty much what you would expect, though quite a few seem to have fairly similar effects.

My biggest doubts are over the vehicle rules, which seem a bit over complicated. Alarm bells rang for me when I saw that individual locations take damage separately, and it’s not entirely clear how you (if indeed you can) actually destroy a vehicle rather than just wreck its systems.

The biggest ‘narrative’ rule though is probably the resource card system. In the game each player receives a number of resource cards determined by their army composition and choice of warlord (meaning you can choose a leader who is less personally potent in combat but allows extra resource cards). Resources are renewed each turn but can be lost permanently as you take casualties. In the basic version of these rules the cards can be spent – “turn to burn” is the terminology used – to gain bonuses or re-rolls. In the more advanced version, cards are spent to play certain ‘gear’, ‘tactic’, and ‘strategy’ cards. Each player selects cards to play from a hand drawn from their respective deck of bonus cards. Each player preselects the contents of their deck before the game (within guidelines set out in the book) though the deck is shuffled and cut before play begins and your hand of cards is drawn randomly from the deck.

The resource mechanics seem to be one of the most innovative parts of this rule set. I am sure gamers will quickly find whether they prefer the basic or advanced version. The advanced version can potentially add a lot of depth, challenge, diversity and surprise to a game, but I imagine some gamers might prefer to avoid the extra preparation it requires. Though I imagine that selecting a deck that synergies with your chosen force and will not be rendered useless by an unlucky draw order will be a challenge some gamers will embrace.

Army selection is based on an organization chart similar to 40k, though the chart grows with the size of game. There are also options to swap out some slots – for example exchanging a heavy vehicle slot for two light vehicle/monster slots or vice versa. There is also a bevy of options to create a custom lord or warlord as an alternative to the existing special characters. The options allow you to alter their stats, modify their weapon and give them any of a vast array of special rules, all for the appropriate points costs.

Overall, with only very few exceptions I would say that this is a very solid rule set. And in some ways it’s a shame that the fluff and the models (especially the models) aren’t quite up to the same level. Obviously the fluff, rules and other factors that appeal to any #warmonger is a very subjective thing so I would certainly suggest that people give this game a look to see if it might be right for them, but that would be qualified by admitting that it doesn’t do it for me. There are not as many sci-fi battle games out there as you might think, though a recent crop of games like WZR, MERCs, Deadzone, etc has gone some way to redress this. Sadly I don’t think that WZR is the best of the crop.

– Chris

White Dwarf “Wood Elves” – A Review

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From the mists of Athel Loren emerge the warriors of the Wood Elves to repel the encroachment of man and daemon alike…

Today we get our first official look at the new Wood Elves as they return with a vengeance to the world of Warhammer. Anyone who’s been involved in the fantasy tabletop Games Workshop scene will know that Wood Elves have been long overdue an update (to put it mildly) and there’s no doubt now, that despite many of the rumours regarding scrapping them, combining them into a dual or multiple army book with Bretonnians, Games Workshop have given them a full army book makeover and the results look pretty special!

Thematic shifts

One of the most interesting shifts in the Wood Elf army is the emphasis that Mat Ward seems to have placed on the duality of the Wood Elves and their alignment to nature as both a creative and destructive force. This is borne out in what little we know of their rules (through things like access to both Dark and High magic lores, with the suspicion of more like this to come) and in the way that they are described, as walking a dual path, embracing the unpredictability of their choices and revelling in the somewhat chaotic environment that they reside within.

New Models

The most obvious changes with the release of an army book refresh prior to anyone actually having seen the inside of it (not available until next Saturday), is the model range. This week’s White Dwarf (issue number 13, not unlucky for Wood Elf players) contains new models across the range, including characters, monsters and new infantry in the form of what could be a new Eternal Guard kit.

Treeman!

Model

The biggest release, in both change of style and size of model has to be the new treeman model. Available as a ‘triple kit’ and capable of being assembled either as a Treeman, a Treeman Ancient, and the special character Ancient ‘Durthu’ (that’s him with the giant sword on the front cover) it’s a stunningly detailed kit with a myriad of options available to the hobbyist putting it together. The leaked pics available earlier in the week have already proved that it’s something of a marmite kit on first impressions, but I predict that few will be unswayed once they see it in the plastic, as it were. It’s obviously a break from the traditional Tolkien-esque versions available for the Wood Elves previously and I suspect that’s in no small part due to the Lord of the Rings line that Games Workshop have been selling since the Wood Elves were last re-done. The new Treeman kit certainly will make it clear to everyone whether you’re using a model that is what Games Workshop call a “Warhammer Wood ElfTreeman” as opposed to a “Lord of the Rings Ent”.

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Rules

The rules for Durthu, included in full in White Dwarf, are interesting and he looks like he’ll be a very cool option for anyone’s army. Your standard Treeman probably hasn’t changed that much but the Ancient Treeman certainly has – they are now all spellcasters (as is Durthu, as the oldest of all Treeman Ancients) and though it remains to be seen what lore choices standard Ancients get (Durthu is a Level 1 in Beasts) it will certainly give Wood Elves an interesting new dimension – especially given that standard spellweavers now have access to Dark and High magic alongside the 8 standard schools, albeit with their own special lore attributes. Durthu is also listed as having the “Blessings of the Ancients” special rule, which isn’t articulated anywhere. I presume that’s what makes him a Treeman Ancient, or possibly the big cheese of all Treeman Ancients, but that’ll take the army book to work out. Durhtu also has the rather nasty Tree Whack option in melee, which allows him to sacrifice his 5 standard attacks (at WS7, S6!) for one big bertha, that requires your target to fail an initiative test for you to deal d6 wounds with no armour save – ouch!

Araloth and other special characters

Model

The main character model featured in White Dwarf is Araloth, again with his rules, a Wood Elf noble who was diverted from his arrogant path by an encounter with an Elven Goddess. Araloth’s model is rather nice, posed giving flight to his hawk Skaryn, who can pluck the eye from any enemy careless enough to leave it unguarded. There also look to be a number of other new special character models appearing, but pictures are rather small so we’ll await confirmation on that front when the army book arrives!

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Rules

Araloth has a number of generic special rules, such as Always Strikes First (does this mean this isn’t a standard rule for all Wood Elves as had been previously rumoured? Or is it simply Games Workshop listing it this way in White Dwarf to avoid revealing more than they want to?) and Stubborn. He is armed with an Asrai Spear, which itself appears to suggest that any ‘Asrai’ weapons will be armour piercing (Asrai arrows, anyone?). A further interesting comment by one of the Games Workshop staff interviewed about using Araloth is the comment that “If you keep him in a wood, he’ll be able to re-roll To Wound rolls of a 1”, which suggests that Wood Elves may gain some benefits from being inside a wood as a general army special rule.

Eternal Guard?

One of the most interesting new models on show (though you have to peer quite hard to see them) are potential new Eternal Guard models. The Eternal Guard are definitely still in the army, as they’re mentioned several times in White Dwarf by those interviewed, and it would seem that they will retain their role as the ‘elite guard’ and ‘hard hitters’ of the Wood Elf army. The new models, if Eternal Guard they are, appear to be armed with a two-handed extended axe type weapon that could either be a halberd or a two-handed weapon. Whatever it turns out to be, I’m assuming it will be an ‘Asrai’ weapon as well, meaning it’ll either be S4 Armour Piercing, or S5 Armour Piercing. If Wood Elves don’t get ASF across the board, it’s probably going to be a halberd, but it will be interesting to see how it turns out. Either way, the new models look pretty damn cool.

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And what models are not there?

No pics of stag rider models in this White Dwarf, though two different art-works featuring them are in there, including those in the leaks earlier in the week. There aren’t any pics of treekin either – which given the way that the Treeman model now fits the theme of the dryad models suggests that there could well be new models forthcoming from them, but that’s a long way from confirmed. There is a very ‘in the background’ picture of a warhawk rider, but it’s impossible to say whether it’s new or old.

And the rest…

There’s also a nice paint splatter section on painting a Treeman, a whole load of interview content with people who’ve used the new Wood Elves in battle and lots of lovely pictures!

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