The Shell Case does Salute – Mat

Salute 2014

As the 12th April comes ever closer and the prospect of another day filled with nothing but the sights, sounds and smells of the UK’s best all-round gaming show (and with the recent trend with Games Day, arguably just the outright best) fills our every waking thought (especially Mat’s – it’s his first time and he’s really quite excited), the members of The Shell Case team attending Salute this year (sorry Ashley, next time maybe?) have taken time to reflect on their hopes and expectations for Salute 2014.

Here’s what Mat had to say:

Mat

MAT BUY TOYS! Sorry that was slightly involuntary and besides Rob did warn you [Yes I did, but perhaps not well enough if people are actually reading this. –Rob].

So yes this is my first Salute. It’s not my first event however: I have attended Games Day in bygone years but then I had bugger all disposable income. And it was a pure Games Workshop event and I’m reliably informed that Salute is nothing like. Other than it involves toy soldiers. And as some of you may realise, I’m really hot for other companies’ miniatures and games anyway right now so, bring it:

  1. I will be partly attending this year to perform my duties as an ambassador for The Shell Case and chatting with some awesome peeps, who do know I’m coming. As well as taking photos for The Shell Case. MAT BUY TOYS! Ahem. Sorry.
  2. I will definitely be heading over to see Andy from Heresy Miniatures we’ve been getting a bit of a Necromunda itch here, and he does some brilliant miniatures for a Delaque gang. MAT BUY TOYS! I’m so sorry, I don’t know why that keeps happening.
  3. After reading Ashley’s article about Saga I’m thinking of checking that out, along with Maulifaux which I have developed a warm squishy place for. And Godslayer. And Dreadball. Honestly my list is endless. I don’t know if I’ll part with my cash on these… Yeah, whatever.
  4. I do have a few other bits on my list that I definitely want to purchase…MAT BU- Sorry! Sorry! X-Wing toys for my growing Imperial fleet are a must. Some bits for my Tau force providing I can find a bargain, and I’ll be hitting up Forge World for a tasty Battlesuit. I also want to find some models for my Beastmen Mordheim Warband. I don’t want to have to use the standard models.
  5. #warmongers meet is going to be pretty cool and I’m looking forward to putting some faces to names.
  6. I’m just really looking forward to hanging out with The Shell Case crew and spending a day looking at all the shiny. MAT BUY TOYS! ARRRGH!

[The Shell Case would like to apologise for Mat. Really we would. His mother also got in touch and extends her sincerest apologies also.]

Godslayer Banebrood – A Review

GodslayerAs I’ve been all about the science fiction recently I thought I’d (briefly) turn my attention to the fantasy realms of Godslayer, the fantasy skirmish game from Megalith Games.

Specifically I’m looking at the bestial might of the Banebrood. Regular readers will remember that I took a look at the Banebrood Reavers back in December so it seemed only right to give the main starter set a shakedown.

The Banebrood are a complex society of twisted, lost, creatures. They are driven by an engrained need to wreak terrible violence on the world. They have no interest in conquest beyond subjugation and murder. They simply want to watch the world burn.

starterbox_banebroodIn the box you get a Gorelord (who’s massive), a Pestbringer (who’s massive) and four  Maldire Mongrels (who vary in size but are still pretty big).

Whereas the Reavers were men driven to savagery, the beasts of the starter set are savages driven to excess. The expressions on each of the Banebrood is a mixture of mindless blood lust and crazed pleasure. The malice and determination is etched into every crease and facet of their heads. And the fact that the sculptors managed to convey all that whilst wrapping the features in matted fur and leather straps.

Aside from the obvious shagginess one would expect from beastmen type…er…beasties, the balance between the low cunning weapon design and ragged clothing, leather strapping and crude armour does a brilliant job of saying that these furry bastards are more than just beasts. That they know exactly what they’re doing and they’re going to bring all kinds of hurt on you and yours.

I also love the varying look of the brood. The influences are between myths, modern cultural references like Pans Labyrinth,  and a dozen other sources. The result is something familiar to those long immersed in wargaming and fantasy but still something refreshing and unique. And hints at a species and society rather than the bland and faceless hordes that ‘just appeared one day from the magical place’.

The individual contrast amongst the Banebrood is probably the most interesting thing. The Gorelord is a hulking bastard of a brute with all the shiniest toys and best armour. The Pestbringer is smaller and whilst taller than the Mongrels he’s physically comparable but  still covered in baubles and his flail means business. Not to say the Mongrels don’t. They’re pretty bad ass and the irregular appearance of them is just awesome.

The quality of the models is superb. I couldn’t spot any mould lines and considering the top part of the heads on most of the models are separate the small bit of flash is entirely excusable and fits well. Sure any spear cast in metal is always gonna bend in the box but I can’t blame the model for that. I do wish Megalith Would look at resin or rastic for that reason alone.

In the game the Banebrood are absolute monsters. Not because they’re stats are excessive, although they’re still pretty tasty, but because the upgrades and special rules are horrid. They get bonuses to their already high defence because they’re wily, goat legged buggers who leap about. Infectious Bite, Bloodlust, Horror, are personal favourites on the special rule front and the ability to wield two great weapons is harsh. Oh and there’s disease options… It adds up to a force that chases brutality with biological warfare and the result is a faction that could give the Troglodytes a run for their money in the face kicking stakes. I’m starting to regret my decision to collect Mortans because they’re so very very squishy in comparison.

Throw in high Melee – especially the Gorelord – strong defence and a healthy number of actions and they’re scary. Very scary. Interestingly, though, the edge the Banebrood gives you isn’t the obvious physical ones. It’s the Pestbringer. And his ability to host and spread plagues. Which are all…gross. And stuff. The really nice touch is that the plagues aren’t a straight forward ‘roll a dice or your dead’ but a short shopping list of damage, special statuses or physical effects which, if timed correctly, can tip the balance of the game. Add in the ability for the Pestbringer to pass contagion on to Mongrels and formations for larger games begin to form. A couple of Pestbringers, loitering behind Mongrels, passing on bubonic plague and the like is a very useful ability. The point less movement, which I originally thought was bullshit now makes complete sense as it can spread some plague then get stuck in itself.

The Banebrood are a far more intriguing force than I first gave credit for. I’ve always liked the models but I kind of assumed that I wouldn’t be missing out on much when it came to actually using them. I expected a cavorting blunt instrument of a faction. I was wrong. Whilst the agility special rules does suggest a degree of cavorting, the emphasis is much more on the disease riddled manginess of the creatures. I’ve been struck by the sneaky streak the faction possesses whihc is far more tactically minded than I at first realised. The Banebrood, despite their outward appearance, are really rather tasty.

The Banebrood start box set is available from Firestorm Games priced £33.08.

Godslayer Troglodytes – A Review

GodslayerIt’s been a wee while since I last looked at the awesome game that is Godslayer from Megalith Games. As I wander ever further down the path of damnation with A Tale of Two Armies I thought I’d take time out to look at my other favourite fantasy game.

This time round I’m taking a look at the Shadow Element menace of the Troglodytes. The Troglodytes, for the uninitiated, are the servants of the fifth element of Shadow. Turns out that hot ginger chick wasn’t the fifth element after all. Shame. Shadow is the great cosmic balancer and the Troglodytes are the instrument with which this is achieved. They are also the doom of all mankind. Born from the loins of the greatest of the five elements, and created with the sole purpose to wage war, the peoples Calydorn are rather stuffed.

StarterBox_Troglodytes (1)

They’re big buggers too. Massive in fact. Something that doesn’t come across in the photography as they’re all in scale with each other. Only when you see them with another model from the Godslayer range do you appreciate the kind of beasties you have on your hands. It also explains why there’s only 5 models in the box for £33. To be fair £33 is quite expensive for the 8 models you get in the other boxes but consider as well you get a raft of cards as well as quick start rules in each one. Also consider that the likes of Games Workshop charge £31.50 for three models, and Megalith’s are metal.

But back to the Troglodytes and their massiveness. They are proper big and do an excellent job, through that simple fact alone, of feeling out-of-place with the rest of the range. And as they should for they are magical beasties of killy stabbiness. Compounded with the fact that the models ooze menace and you’ve got yourself quite possibly the most interesting faction in the game. Whereas the other forces in Godslayer are a specific people or peoples and have a clear look and feel, the various elements of the Troglodytes means that it doesn’t quite line up. Which is a good thing. They’re hardly a disciplined army like the Mortans or a bunch of tree hugging hippies like the Wyldfok.

This said the Duskborn and the Ironhide Brutes do tick all the design boxes of the hall of fame of historical ass holes. There are elements of the Mongols and Babylonians in there to name but two. The point that Megalith, I think, were trying to get across is that the Troglodytes are a powerful, brutal, invading force and their equipment is designed for long grinding battles. And they do the job very very well. It’s all spiky helmets, long armour scale skirts and heavy shields. There is no virtuousness in these creatures, only a self-righteous zeal and belief that the world should burn. Which is kinda cool.

The Feral Hammerfist, on the other hand is different again. It’s also even bigger than the other models. And its metal. So it’s very heavy. Which is a good thing. As mentioned before it doesn’t really feel like it quite marries up with the rest of the force but belongs there for that very same reason. It’s big it’s imposing and it has punch daggers the size of a large water melon. It’s style of war is one of pummelling everything within its reach then moving on to the next group of enemies and repeating. It is the Hulk of the Godslayer Universe. My one complaint, if I had any is that the head is a little flat. It’s meant to be mind, it wasn’t a miscast, but because the ears are wide as well it just gives the impression a little bit that something large stamped on its face. I also hate the spike on its head. That’s coming right off. Other than that it’s a good model with some nice detailing so it won’t be miserable to paint.

In the game Troglodytes, specifically these ones less I give too much away, are nasty. Their Melee is high and Defence monstrously so. Hurting them is very difficult and would require mob tactics to take even an Ironhide Brute down. Throw in the sub-faction special rule that allows them to regenerate and suddenly what we find ourselves with is kinda what the Lord of the Rings game never quite – for me – quite managed, which is towering creatures of ethereal power wading through hordes of mortals that wastes dozens of lives to bring them down. Which is all rather cool. But more importantly it makes for an interesting game.

Plus there are lots of other bits and pieces that will make your opponents groan. Like Ironhide Brutes ignore shields. Throw in stuff like Carnage and Rage for the Duskborn which is all geared around making life very unpleasant for those that get into combat with him.

What you end up with is a super elite force that you have to play with very tactically but equally one that’ll be very hard to manage if you’re on the other side of the board. And this highlights what I’ve always felt about Godslayer – which is the variety woven into the fabric of the game. No two units are similar. No two factions even vaguely follow the same path as the other. Even the sizes of the basic troops varies hugely. And that’s why it’s such a good game.

The Troglodyte starter set is available from Firestorm Games priced £33.08.

Little People Love

Godslayer

I’ve never been a fan of Dwarves. It’s not a heightist thing – if that’s even a word – it’s a Dwarves in fantasy can be a bit boring a shit thing. Lord of the Rings movies nearly saved Dwarves for me until the moment Gimli uttered the immortal line “Nobody Tosses a Dwarf!” Oh God good why Peter! Why?

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Anyway, so yes my dislike of Dwarves, not going to mention Chaos Dwarves (don’t want to head down that road), is a dislike I have had for many a year. That is until recently, when Phil showed me Godslayer by Megalith Games. Now if you don’t know Godslayer, which if you are a regular reader of The Shell Case I would be surprised at, in short it’s a 28mm Skirmish game with a choice of 6 Factions the Banebrood, Halodynes, Mortans, Nordgaard, Troglodytes and The Wyldfolk of Annyr. It has also recently celebrated its 1st Birthday, so a big congratulations to the guys at Megalith on this milestone.

Recently Megalith Games have announced a few new miniatures around the Nordgaard faction and for the first time that I can ever recall I found myself liking Dwarves but not just liking Dwarves these models are for want of a better word AWESOME, honestly, so much want as Phil would say, they truly are epic, everything the Games Workshop models aren’t.

I think my actual words to Phil were “I never liked Dwarves before I saw these models”. Which is what has led me to writing this. Now I could easily and happily gush about how much I love these models and the amazing quality of the sculpts and how the braided beards just look awesome and how much I want to tug on them… ahem sorry too far. But I really wanted to do something with a bit of substance and so I fired off an email to the chaps at Megalith Games wanting to know a bit more about the inspiration behind the Nordgaard, and David was kind enough to take the time to reply.

I really wanted to find out where the concept for the Noordgard came from, yes it’s clear that they have drawn on Norse influences but I thought there had to be more to it than that anyway this is what David had to say about the Noordgard.

The inspiration for the Nordgaard Dwarves (and the entire faction) was Norse mythology. The Nordgaard faction (of which the Dwarves are the biggest component) include human warriors called Skannfyrd and Ogre warriors called Myrgaerder, as well as allied Giants called Fjellgangr and Dire wolves called Bloodvargs. All of these united and formed a hybrid culture over a period of several thousand years, and Nordgaard is in fact the oldest existing kingdom on the continent of Ghorn where Godslayer is focussed. The reason for their uniting was firstly necessity, and secondly the fact that they share a bond of common blood and worship. The Old Gods called the Vanitans include the Stone Gods Gaard and Arguthon, who created the Dwarves. A separate pantheon of gods worshipped by Mortals (called the Vaettir) were worshipped by the Skannyr tribes. Contact between the Vaettir and Vanitans led to the birth of two divine brothers, one of which embraced his Mortal/Vaettir side, and the other who embraced his Vanitan heritage. Both were instrumental in forming the kingdom of Nordgaard and became its patron deities.

Andre – co-founder of Megalith Games and co-developer of Godslayer – was most focussed on this faction. This is because Andre was a long-term fan and collector of Dwarves, and also interested in Viking culture. He made the initial design of the Dwarves and with very little corrections we were able to get our team of freelance artists to draw them according to Andre’s vision.

It was Andre’s specific wish that people should be able to see the legs of our Dwarves, and that they should be muscular and realistic, not fat blobs in chainmail overcoats with little boot tips poking out from underneath

Our artists all understood the brief and did well producing the art.

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I can totally get on board with Andres vision, if you look at the Mountain Clan for example you can clearly see their legs and to be honest not a huge amount of chain mail in sight, and the one thing that really stands out is that they are in proportion. They don’t have ridiculously over sized muscles and short dumpy legs, and I think this is what my problem has always been with Dwarves. They are the aforementioned blobs in chainmail.

Models aside the artwork for the Noordgard is stunning. It’s the kind of stuff I aspired to back at Art College, and again the thing I find with the Noordgard is they don’t look like your typical Dwarves. Yes the usual tell-tale signs are there, but just looking at the artwork you get an impression of real depth and power and you almost forget they are ‘Dwarves’.

And before people get up in arms, that’s exactly what Dwarves should be they should epitomise depth and power. They an impossibly ancient race of people who combine strength, wisdom and generally in most fiction a thick skull and stubbornness. Megalith has so got the idea of Dwarves totally right in my book.

Now once the artwork was done and the concept for the Noordgard complete they needed to get the models created, now what David told me next got me thinking and this will make sense in a moment, but I love the idea of a secret group of sculptors somewhere with alter-egos just cropping up to help with projects they deem worthy.

The sculptor of the starter box Dwarves was an international man of mystery who goes by the code-name “KulAsyrk” (he prefers to remain anonymous). He had been sculpting for only a couple of years when he took on our commission, and he made for us:
Fjell Warriors
Warsmith
Brewer of Odrorir

I have to say his work from what I have seen is stunning I will admit I am yet to get my hands on any of the models but from the high detailed photography you can see the detail that KulAsyrk has gone to town on these models, from the tools on the belt of the Warsmith to the ale sloshing out of the Brewer of Odrorir’s Horn.

The Brewer of Odrorir is one of my favourite miniatures in the range, he has a real look of pure “I’m going to mess up your day in a violent and unfriendly way”.

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He worked from the artwork, and produced excellent sculpts first time. In fact they were the very first Godslayer miniatures sculpted. KulAsyrk made the transition to 3D sculptor and continues to be one of our primary sculptors, and sculpted the Kinswords of the Nordgaard faction among many others.

However, the recent Dwarves were sculpted by Scibor. Scibor is world-famous for his amazing Dwarves, so we approached him and begged him to sculpt for us since we were fans of his work, and he kindly accepted. Scibor sculpted the runegate Keeper and the Einherjer.

All of the Dwarves are cast using normal white metal in rubber molds.

I don’t think I’ve written an article yet where I don’t harp on about Scibor, and it seems yet again I have that opportunity, but in all seriousness if you want some amazing looking Dwarves, he’s the guy to go to his work is outstanding and the Runegate Keeper looks to be a truly awesome model from the detail of the braided beard to the stern look in his eye of “this axe + your face = good times” and the theme carried across the Runegate Keeper and the Einherjer’s armour to say I’m a fan is an understatement. And that’s not just of Scibor but of Megalith Games, Godslayer and The Nordgaard.

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I know exactly what faction I will field in my first outing into Godslayer and honestly I can’t wait to play with the Dwarves. [Fnar fnar. -Ed.]

Godslayer Greens

Over on the Megalith Games website they’re previewing some of the Godslayer gorgeousness but I thought I’d share it here too…

First up a WIP of a big scary Dwarf bloke for the Nordgaard…

EinherjerWIP

And next up is a warlord model for the Wyldfolk…

Sculpt_FiannorFarfarer

And here’s what Megalith had to say about him…

This is the Fiannor Farfarer, who he is the warlord of the Fiannor subfaction, scheduled for release in around 4-8 weeks, immediately following the Scabhta Hunters. 

The Farfarer is the best archer in the game so far and he has tactics to enhance shooty units, enabling them to shoot more frequently and with greater accuracy. 

This great sculpt captures his lethal accuracy and “scouty” nature.

 

Godslayer – A Review

GodslayerTitle copyDespite my love for science fiction, boltguns, space ships and transhumans I cut my wargaming teeth over 20 years ago on fantasy games like Hero Quest fuelled by history lessons learning about Rome and Ancient Greece, cartoons like Dungeons and Dragons and movies like Jason and the Argonauts. So when I came across Megalith Games and Godslayer I was cast back to those days. Of Gods of heroes, beasts and men. Godslayer takes all that wonderful sense of myth and wonderment, of armies of armour soldiers and creatures of legend and plonks them all nice and tidy on to a 4×4 board.

And frankly, I could kiss them.

Megalith sent me a starter box of the Mortans. Think a collision of Ancient Egypt and Rome with a twist of undead beastlyness and you’re in the right area.

StarterBox_Mortans

And you know what? They’re way cool. But what do you get in the box? Simply put – 8 blokes, the quick start rules and unit and equipment cards as well as counters to cut out. I’ve got to comment Megalith, the production values of the quick start rules and the cards are very very good. The cards look and feel beautiful and actually look nice than the ones you get in a Spartan starter box.

The models are great. Although predominantly Romanesque, the Egyptian influences are all there, including the high cheekbones and regal bearing. All wrapped up in some pretty serious armour and large pointy weapons. The detail is generally pretty good. The armour is logically thought out so there’s no stupid sculpts to hide the bit no one knew what to do with and they’re all very dynamically posed which ties in nicely with the fast paced face kickery of the game. The quality of the sculpts are good too. The features are sharp, the armour detailed and with very few mould lines.

Godslayer_Factions_TitleImageLarge_Mortans

Similarly, the quick starter rules are very nicely presented. They’re a little on the light side compared to some starter boxes but I guess the important details are there. Did have to read it through twice though as in an effort to save space the diction took a dive. But there’s a fair bunch of rules crammed into a very little book so fair’s fair.

I love the feel of the game. It’s every bit like books of myth and legend and Megalith have worked very hard to create a whimsical yet rich background that I suspect will only get richer if their kickstarter is a success as there’ll be a lovely big glossy rule book. Plus the artwork is cool and, again, evokes that same sense of wonderment.

Ephemera

I’m rather taken with this game. Aside from Greeks and Romans running around with Dwarves and beasties it has some very very clever rules. The main one being that players are not free to move whatever they like during a turn (which is effectively a sub phase/unit activation) but have 4 options that forces you to carefully plan out how your force will behave. The right activation option at the right time can allow you to move a character and a unit together for a decisive strike.

Models get to perform set numbers of actions as part of their activation which means that models can move rapidly to redeploy against a developing threat or beat the living daylights out of a group of unsuspecting meat bags, just like the legends of old. As we’re on the subject, the face kickery is very quick to resolve. 2D6 plus Melee ability, compare against Defence. What’s really cool is, if you’re attacking rather than charging, you can choose to either boost your Melee or Power – the latter of which helps determine the extent of the damage your face kickery causes.

Rather shrewdly, Megalith managed, to balance the injury mechanic so, on average, a model will only take a point or two of damage in a scrap which means that although the game is quick the body count won’t wrack up too quickly. Although, once things start to get tasty it certainly will. But that’s exactly as it should be. And I suspect that the individual characters are quite capable of inflicting such misery.

But with the alternate activation it means that a bad call or a rushed attack can be pulled back from the brink. Unless you’ve tried to kick in a Troglodyte Hammerfist then you deserve everything you get.

My only gripe is that it will mean paperwork combined with stat cards which I’m not a massive fan of. Especially as it’ll mean keeping track of wounds with dice or counters on top of having to keep track of actions. But that’s purely a preference thing, and it’s still a million times better than Battletech with its colouring books. I’m also not sure how it’ll stack up in larger games. Although beasties and war machines will thin the herd with alarming efficiency so I guess it’ll work fine.

Godslayer is a lot of fun from what I’ve seen so far. The models look good, the rules work and it’s quick to play which means you can smash out a game in an afternoon if you fancy, which only bodes will for the time strapped age within which we find ourselves. And there’s a faction for everyone. It’s also a game that encourages you to have a lovely scenery filled board rather than larger scale games like Warhammer where scenery slows the play down. More is definitely more. Because it is. Obviously. Megalith currently have a Kickstarter going with a few days left and I think it’s well worth a punt if mythical manging of faces is your bag. And why wouldn’t it be?

Anyway, click here to go to the kickstarter page.