Salute in Review: Mat Bought Toys!

Salute 2014

And relax… So that was Salute. Well I have to say for my first show since Games Day many moons ago it was great and I loved every minute… But I’m getting ahead of myself, let me take you back to the Friday before…

It’s Friday night and I’m getting ready for the early morning start to pick up Lee, Neil & Phil and make our way to ExCel London. My bag is packed with all the standard supplies, chocolate, Jelly Babies for that mid show sugar pick me up, Business Cards, Wallet with money (but no credit card) and of course my all important ticket. Now I have had a pretty hard week and not a great deal of sleep up to this point so I was really looking forward to getting an early night and some well deserved Salute action. But one more thing had to be done, the car needed to be sorted ready for the drive up, which meant fuel was required, or so i thought.

So I take myself down to the local petrol station. On route I realise I have three quarters of a tank of Diesel so I’m probably okay for fuel but as I’m out I think: sod it I’ll top it up. It’s at this point everything goes horribly wrong and nearly ends in my not attending Salute. So I’m at the petrol station idly watching the litres tick over on the unleaded petrol and…fuck my life!

I end up spending my Friday evening sat in the petrol station for 2 hours waiting for the AA to turn up only to tell me they will have to tow me home as they can’t drain the tank until the following day. Needless to say the wife was less than impressed and I didn’t get my early night. This did mean I had to take my little run around with 4 blokes up to ExCel. All things considered it did okay. It got us there and back in one piece and that’s the main thing.

But what about the other car Mat? well my wife waited in the next morning and a very nice man we will call Trevor turned up at 9.30am and drained the tank and topped it back up with enough Diesel for my wife to get to a petrol station and put the correct jungle juice in (which cost us £152 people check your using the right nozzle it can be an expensive mistake to make), enabling her to meet Phil’s wife for there prearranged play date (with our 1 year old daughters).

Jump back to 10:30am Saturday the 12th of April… SALUTE! MAT BUY TOYS!

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The Shell Case has landed.

 

There was so much to see my poor brain couldn’t take it all in at first, there were hobbyists everywhere and toys galore, I don’t think I’m remiss if I say it was an awesome humbling sight, and it made my wallet cry.

But before I got to buying toys we had to round everyone up say hello as some of us had never actually met in the flesh namely Rob and Reece, it was great to finally meet thee guys, it also meant I could reduce the weight of my bag as I had Robs business cards with me. And once handed over I wold have more room for toys.

I had to remember that I wasn’t just here to buy toys, I was here on business, and it was with this in mind we headed over to a few of the indie stands to chat to a few people about some truly interesting games, that not only looked awesome but sound utterly brilliant.
Among these was a game that has been mentioned a couple of times on The Shell Case now and that’s World Of Twilight: Travels through Anyaral
first mentioned by Gav Thorpe in his guest post, but I will leave Phil to tell you more about this. What I will say is the models are gorgeous and it looks fantastic, I for one am really looking forward to this one.

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A Game of Twilight in action.

 

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Next up was a very cool looking game that got Phil and I very excited, its in development by a company called White Dragon Miniatures its called Shattered Void and it looks and sounds truly brilliant, the models look great and the artwork so far is stunning, its also going to incorporate a bit of RPG so your pilots will evolve as you play more games, and the movement template is frankly inspired, it also looks the utter tits when being played, I was slightly disappointed they only had the one demo on the go as I would of really liked to of had a game of this and really get to grips with it. As I say it is still in development although some of the models were on sale on the day and it took a great amount of will power for me not to succumb. But rest assured when the Kickstarter is due to go live we will let you know all about it. This is definitely one to watch.

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A Game of Shattered Void in progress
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Some of the models already being produced and sold for Shattered Void

Another in development game we got to have a quick look at and chat to the producers of was a game called Twisted by Demented Games, this was in very early stage of development but is set to be  board game or maybe an RPG, I have to say I don’t think its 100% sure what type of game its going to be but one thing is for sure the models were beautiful, the ones we got to see were supposedly the main protagonists based on characters from Charles Dickens Oliver Twist (I’m guessing this is where the name comes from). From what I understood the initial board game idea sees different fictional characters brought to life by some sort of Engine. The Dickens characters are jumping about literature causing mayhem and mischief. As I say this is very early in its development and I think the concept is a little confused at the moment, but its still one to watch if not just for the stunning miniatures we saw. It will be coming to Kickstarter in the not too distant future, so keep your eyes peeled and hopefully by then it will have a better idea of what it wants to be.

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The Twisted Game Board.
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Some of the stunning models for Twisted.

Now… MAT BUY TOYS! I had a rather extensive list of things I wanted to get at Salute or at least look at but one of my main objectives was Pathfinders for my Tau force and some X-Wing shizzle to aid me in my ever growing struggle to actually win a game. So we all headed over to the rather large Wayland Games stand, I got my Pathfinders hoozaah, but alas there was no X-Wing Shiz for me or Phil although we did get some extra Dice for said game, I say these won’t help me in the struggle to bitch slap Phil, but you never know these could be the dice I was looking for.

Its Business Time… Whilst Lee and Phil queued to make their purchases Neil and I wandered over to Mantic, whose stand was swamped and with good reason, Mantic had brought with them a limited number of there pretty awesome Battle Grounds sets. During our rather long chat with the guys at Mantic we got a bit of an over view of the future of Dreadball, which honestly had us totally gripped and is something we can all really look forward to, I can’t say too much here but needless to say Dreadball is set to become something even bigger and better than it is right now. And getting the low down on the Battle Grounds set was awesome, it was really good to speak to the guys and find out what was there intentions for the scenery set, and we all agreed it would make a god damn brilliant Necromunda board, so watch this space as our Necromunda itch grows fuelled by Mantic goodness. After talking all things Mantic it was time for… MAT BUY TOYS!

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The impressive Tower made up using the new Battlezones sets.
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Deadzone, being played out on the Tower.

And to Forge World we wound our merry way, we had 20 minutes before the #warmongers meet, so this had to be a strategic hit and run style purchasing spree with the queue neigh huddle still being rather sizeable. Phil, Lee and I worked together to cordon off an area to enable us to make our way to the front on the queue (eventually) and pick up our wares, I had preordered myself a tasty Tau Battlesuit for my growing Tau force, yeay another tick for me… and a slight addition something that had been tickling my hobby spot for the last week… DEATH SHROUD. Yep I crumbled it didn’t take much to be honest, and purchased myself a set of Death Guard, Death Shroud Terminators. I’m not totally sure what I’m doing with them yet I’m thinking a small skirmish force but that’s always how these things start.

FOOD TIME, so it was that time of day where we all broke out from the buying of all the things as Ashley would say and went in search of sustenance to enable us to continue our day of awesomeness. It was also time to catch up with the other #Warmongers and compare purchases and stories of our days so far.

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Once more unto the breach my friends, after the #Warmongers meet it was time to head over to Heresy Miniatures, one to check out the new Netherlord and two for me to get my hands on a set of Andy’s amazing gangers, just to help me with that Necromunda itch. I’m doing Delaque this time around but don’t really like the original models Andy’s are a fantastic alternative the “not” Delaques are stunning and the full set ay of set me back £70 but for that I got 25 blokes and a big bag of weapons with some god damn inspiring choices. Sadly we missed the last Netherlord by a matter of seconds it was such a big hit that some desperate French man forced Andy to sell him the one out of the display case. but hey MAT BOUGHT TOYS! and another tick.

It was at this point Rob decided to join us the workaholic had missed the #Warmongers meet due to his blue foam addiction, and the need to push this on other people. Which I’m all for frankly. But it was good to have a catch up and compare purchases which were pretty meagre on Robs side of things, he did however point out Mierce miniatures were in attendance with some of their wares, so with this in mind we made our way over to the stand Via Forge World to enable Phil to part with some more money of some old armour variants for his Ultrmarines. Now I’m not going to talk to much about Mierce here mainly because I was so distracted by all the shiney I don’t recall much of what was said, luckily Phil was in attendance and did most of the talking whilst I and several other others of the crew frankly perved at the utterly beautiful miniatures on display. I managed to hold off buying anything here but mainly because at this point I was influx as to whether I was going to do Beastmen of Lizardmen for my Mordheim warband.

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JIMP!

To West Wind Productions, now if you haven’t heard of them why not and where the hell have you been? They are the creators of the great Empire of the Dead Victorian/Steam punk skirmish game which has some great looking starter sets available with factions ranging from Vampire Slayers to Bedlam Inmates and Jack the Ripper, more on this game to come shortly as me and Phil face off with 2 opposing factions and a run down of the rules. We got chatting to Wendy whilst on the stand discussing our aspirations and explaining how much we liked what they had and what they were doing. It was at this point that Wendy filled us in on their upcoming update of Secrets of the Third Reich, One that got Neil and I pretty excited, I mean its a game that has Nazi Zombies for crying out loud what’s not to get excited about. And with its update imminent it is only set to get better. Wendy also gave us a quick update on their latest Kickstarter, War & Empire a 15mm Ancient Era Wargame, that got us all a little bit excited and I can foresee a few arguments about who gets to play which army. But more on this to come.

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The Secrets of the Third Reich.

 

As the day was drawing to a close we headed to wards KR Multicase and its mountain of blue foam and card board… Via Forge World (again!) for me to acquire Calas Typhon to go with my Deathshroud. Phil also needed to make a stop at Studio McVey to have a quick catch up with Mike, and we dropped in on Sphere wars.

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Sphere Wars in action.

After a quick chat with the fine people at KR including Rob… Again! and a sit down on their fine chairs made of the finest blue foam available, Phil and I walked away with an X-Wing carry case each, reviews to follow, I will say now its bloody brilliant and has got me looking at KR cases for my other armies now as well.

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Big Blue KR.

It was at this point I took the opportunity to grab a few snaps of some of the stunning games boards on show at Salute, I am only sorry I didn’t stop long enough to ask a bit more about them, but I think you’ll all agree it doesn’t make them any less brilliant.

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FREMEN!

 

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Sardaukar storming a Fremen Sietch.
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Charlie don’t surf!

 

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Oh and I bumped into someone who was clearly less than impressed with my last performance against Phil in X-Wing.

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I’m no good to you dead!

 

So with swag in hand we made our way to the Bar for a much needed rest and a post Salute catch up over a beer, or Pepsi in my case (other fizzy drinks brans are available) all before our mammoth 4 hour drive home, not helped by football traffic or Phil’s inadequate bladder.

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And… Relax.

 

So in review I thoroughly enjoyed my first Salute I didn’t pick up everything I wanted I had hoped to walk away with some Malifaux items but just couldn’t make up my mind on the day. I had also hoped to pick up some bits for Mordheim but again my own indecisiveness was the downfall there.

I did how ever tick a few of my boxes, I got my Pathfinders, Some X-Wing Shizz all be it just extra dice but that still counts, a gang for Necromunda and DEATHSHROUD. I didn’t foresee Calas but frankly I should of known the Pretty black boxes were just too much for me to resist.
Oh and the awesome KR case. Out of everything I have to say the Heresy Minis have become my purchase of the show and I really cant wait to build and paint them let alone play with them.

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The Swag!

 

And its with some great contacts made and empty pockets I wish you farewell Salute for another year.

 

 

 

 

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:

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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.]

April 5th 2014 – International Tabletop Day

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One of the most spectacularly wonderful things about being a geek who games is being part of a wide, vibrant and varied community that organises some brilliant events.

We’ve got Adepticon on right now and Salute in a week or so, and this Saturday, 5th April it is International Tabletop Day.

“What is International Tabletop Day Rob?” I hear you all cry. Well, gather round and I will tell you a tale of valour and intrigue, oh wait, wrong blog post. Sorry about that, where was I? Oh yes, International Tabletop Day. Well in a nutshell it’s a world-wide tabletop gaming extravaganza, where anyone who wants to can organise and register an event through the Tabletop Day website. The site then serves as a really clever discovery tool for anyone wanting to find an event local to them. There’s a great map-driven interface so you can see whereabouts all the events are near and far and find something that will entertain you for the day.

I, for example, happen to be in Munich for the day and a quick search reveals that there will be two events local to me, one organised by the “Toytown fan group” and the other at a place called “Funtainment”. I will be trying my level best to get to one of them just to see what’s going on and join in the gaming fervour. At the very least I’ll be taking a couple of games in my luggage to play with my family; my daughter is hooked on Labyrinth at the moment and I think I’ll be slipping my copy of Boss Monster in there as well.

Phil and Mat will be X-Winging it up all day and they’ve registered their event through the site, so go find them and shout ‘pew-pew’ noises in their general direction, they’ll bloody love it. Mat also said he’s going to try to spread the good word about the hobby a little closer to home by teaching his wife how to play Dreadball. Anything that encourages understanding and appreciation of the hobby (and potentially gives  you more freedom to spend!) is all part of the fun of the day.

Ashley is of course already caught up in the mega-maelstrom that is Adepticon (she laughs at our one-day gaming feebleness!), and will be playing Necromunda, or Saga, or Lord of the Rings. Or all three, though presumably not simultaneously. I assume that Adepticon (it is registered on the site) will be the largest playing group on the day, would be interesting to get the official word from the organisers on that front.

Reece informs me that he’ll be starting out his celebration of all things tabletop by doing unspeakable things to his washing machine. Rock and roll. Sounds like the afternoon will definitely improve the awesomeness quotient of his day with a spot of painting Lizardmen with his wife and then rounding the day out with a bunch of friends playing Zombies and Space Hulk – now that’s more like it!

So far there are over 2,300 events registered world-wide, which is seriously impressive, including well over 250 in the UK. So, if you’re hitting up your FLGS on Saturday, get them registered on the site so that the world knows you exist!

Follow events as they unfold by looking up @TableTopDay and @GeekandSundry on Twitter and lots of folks seem to be using the #TableTopDay hashtag already.

I love stuff like this, it reminds me just how huge our community is, and how wide the range of options is for participation in tabletop gaming. It also shows the world and celebrates what a social and sociable group we are and that we have bags of enthusiasm for welcoming new people into the gaming fold and dragging those who are already playing one lot of games into intriguing and exciting new gaming formats.

Want to find out more? There’s a video for that:

#ODAM 12 – The Structure Show

ODAMRoundel copyThis month’s installment of everyone’s favorite international podcast coalition sees us being unusually structured. With Jason our newly appointed content manager he tries, and fails, to stop the power going to his head. Ashley is preparing for Adepticon, Phil is babbling about some foreign gathering called Salute which is either a gaming convention or a gay nightclub, and we try to understand the latest bit of nonsense to come out of Nottingham. Nate also announces an important life event, which Jason and the boys promptly mock. Par for the course, really.

As always ODAM contains adult humour and language from the start.

Listen to Episode 12 here.

 

A Tribute to Necromunda

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Necromunda I have to say was my first real love affair with Games Workshop. I’d played 40K, Man ‘O’ War and Space Hulk to name a few, but it was Necromunda that really grabbed me the hobby spot and gave it a good rummage, as Phil would say. [He’s right, I would. Ed.]

Released in 1995 and designed by Andy Chambers, Jervis Johnson and Rick Priestly it had the second edition Warhammer 40k rule set at its beating heart and, frankly, played a damn sight better than 40k. The boxed game included everything you needed to get started, including enough models to create 2 gangs. And most importantly the terrain. The terrain for Necromunda was something else and a bit of a first for Games Workshop, it allowed you to build a gaming board with different levels, ‘proper’ hard cover and walkways that were as flimsy as they were risky to navigate.

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No one really used the plastic miniatures that came with the game from memory because they were a bit rubbish, and released alongside the boxed game were 6 gang boxes, which consisted of House Cawdor (religious nutters), House Goliath (homoerotic meat heads), House Vansaar (Dune Freman), House Escher (honestly just hot women), House Delaque (skin head gestapo) and House Orlocks (madmax greasy bikers). Each boxed gang came with 8 figures: 1 Leader, 1 Heavy, 4 Gangers and 2 Juves. The booster packs gave players options for weapon variants as well as a few models that are, even now, highly sought after.

Then in 1996 Outlanders was released which gave you more scenery and rules for several new gangs including the ever unpleasant Spyre Hunters. I don’t know anyone who wanted to play against them as it was pretty much a sure thing you were going to get your ass whooped. [I had no bother, are you sure you weren’t just rubbish? Ed.] You also got Ratskins, Scavvies, Redemptionists and the Arbites. The Redemptionists had the effect of making House Cawdor a bit more popular, but I always had a thing for the Ratskins but at the time could never justify replacing my Orlock gang because they’re amazing.

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Anyway that’s enough of the proper factual stuff, time to gush. As I said Necromunda was my first real love affair with wargaming. This is mainly own to the terrain. I remember walking into my local Games Workshop for games night and see this multi-level game board with models on each level and guys measuring between them to get the best shot off. I have to say I was nursing a hobby boner. I had never seen anything like this, and that night I bought my box of House Orlock and some new paints and borrowed a set of the rules from the store and the next week I was back with my newly painted Necrosapiens ready to do battle.

 It didn’t take long for people to start co-opting the Necromunda scenery for their games of 40k. Or better yet, combining sets for über games of Necromunda. It was an important moment in the Games Workshop hobby as it made the masses realise that games didn’t have to be played on green boards with hills, trees and the bunker that came free with White Dwarf that one time. In many ways Necromunda was genesis for things like Cities of Death and Apocalypse.

Something else that drew me in was the fact I got to name my gang and its members what I wanted and create a little back story for them, much like Lee’s Marienburger’s for Mordheim that would follow a few years later. They were the Necrosapiens (I was young forgive me). But again it was something I hadn’t come across before in a Games Workshop game and I got a bit excited. The development your gang and characters would go through created a rich and enthralling story and much more compelling than just marching armies across a flat game board. And much like Mordheim it gave you the ability to develop your gang by acquiring territory to earn money, and gaining skills and abilities as well as new weapons.

It was also the first game that I bothered getting involved with the national campaign. The battle for Hive Primus which from memory was immense and won by, as it goes, House Orlock. Go greasy biker boys!

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At the end of the day though it was the terrain that made Necromunda the success it was, it was so ground breaking and made every game different. You could clip the cardboard walkways into the bulk heads in so many different ways creating towers and ramps, it also gave people the chance to create their own terrain and we saw some great bunkers and towers being brought in to add to the stores game board for the night’s games. I also very clearly remember having games round at my friends and none of us had any of the terrain so we used old carboard boxes and ice cream tubs and some really good imagination.

It’s sad that this massively inspirational and ground breaking game is now no longer in production. It was a great introduction to the Games Workshop hobby and a lot easier to learn and play than the special rules heavy 40K. I find it mad now that I have come back to the hobby to find Necromunda left to gather dust, having been neglected support these last few years. Yes I know there were articles in White Dwarf and the Necromunda magazine but only for a short period of time and I feel if new gangs or models that weren’t terrible had been released then maybe it would have grown. But then again maybe not. Perhaps it’s just me reminiscing back to those days when I got to a point in Necromunda people would refuse to play me. And with a sensible head on, it was never going to make Games Workshop loads of money because once you had your gang that was really it. Well that and some old cardboard boxes and ice cream tubs, so it was inevitable in this commercial lead economy we are in.

It is nice to see that this game does live on in people’s hearts and some games clubs have regular Necormunda meets. I find myself yearning for a House Escher gang that I always wanted but never bought. This has also inspired me to create a muti-level game board for Mordheim to play on with The Chaps. I know it’s not the right game but the principles of a good Necromunda board do translate.

So I say farewell to my first real love of wargaming, and shake my fist in Games Workshop’s general direction for all those who have never known the greatness of duffing up a rival gang in the underhive of Necromunda’s Hive Primus. If you are one of those people honestly, find the rules, find some models that’ll suit and have it. You won’t regret it.

A Farewell to Specialist Games

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It is common knowledge to all, by now, that the Specialist Games range is all but dead. The Games Workshop is no longer producing miniatures and the rule books have been withdrawn from sale.

With its demise I and the rest of The Shell Case team have decided that we had to do something to mark its passing. So, we have taken it upon ourselves to write a tribute to the games we loved the most. One will go up each day over this week, starting with Adam’s tribute Blood Bowl and working our way through the other games in the range, ending the week with my true love: Battlefleet Gothic. Sadly there won’t be one for Warmaster because none of us really played it, so if there’s someone out there that would like to write a guest post then get in touch.

The games will undoubtedly live on in the hearts of gamers everywhere but couldn’t let these incredible game fall into memory without giving them a send off of our own.

Stay tuned…

Shell Case Shorts 2 Winner

The winner of the second Shell Case Shorts was a tough call between two entries. Both were well crafted engaging stories but in the end it had to be Hive Walker by Dave Cahill (@d_cahill). A film noir set in Hive Primus of Necromunda it’s in quite a different vein than one would expect but it still manages to evoke the grim reality of life in the 41st Millennium. It sits nicely alongside last month’s winning entry The Bone Carver by Patrick Burdine, who, as it goes was this month’s runner-up.

Patrick’s story was a great opening gambit to a much wider story and I’d love to see it fleshes out into a novella because all the pieces were there. But, as they say, there can be only one winner, and so I give you this month’s winning entry:

Hive Walker by Dave Cahill

A Watchman pounding on my office door was hardly news. My work as an enquirer sometimes invited attention from the Emperor’s own. Bribes would only get you so far; a new recruit who didn’t yet understand how the Hive functions, a commander freshly rattled by his superiors and so on. Any number of dents could arise in my somewhat grey relationship with the Hive Law, leading to dents in my door.

The look on the man’s face though, that was new. He was young, his armour still sitting heavy on his shoulders, not moulded to his body in the manner of an experienced officer, his eyes lacking the cold, detached look they so prided themselves on – always striving for the far grimmer countenance of the Enforcers. In fact, he looked nervous and almost…sympathetic? Something was up.

“Citizen Mak Talton.” It wasn’t a question.

“Yes sir, at the Watch’s convenience and service, as ever.” Pays to fawn sometimes.

The young Watchman just looked embarrassed.

“Sergeant Jarrak sent me.”

Jarrak and I went back a ways, had a good working relationship, so far as an enquirer and a well-bribed Watch officer could. Odd that he hadn’t come himself.

“Ah. What can I do for the Sergeant, sir?”

“I’m afraid it’s your father. There’s been an… incident.”

Ah Throne. What had the old bastard done now?

“Sir, I can assure you, no harm or disrespect was intended – he’s an old man, his wounds, he sometimes has trouble-”

“It’s not-”

“I can redress any damage he’s-”

“Citizen, your father is dead.”

I noticed his left boot was worn, the armaplas plating over the instep dented and scratched where it wrapped down to the armoured sole. Administratum recycling equipment again, few supplies making it this far down-hive. I wondered what had become of the boot’s previous owner. Senior enough to rate fresh gear from a rare resupply? Transferred up-hive? Or just dead?

Dead. He’d said the old bastard was- “Sir, what? Terra.”

I sat down heavily on the nearest hard surface, which turned out to be the floor plating. The young officer’s dented boots shifted uncomfortably in front of me.

“I regret your loss, citizen. Sergeant Jarrak asked me to convey his similar sentiments. Unfortunately he is currently… indisposed.”

“Indisposed? What happened?” Work the details. Focus.

“The Sergeant is in the Infirmary. He was injured in the same incident where your father… ah…” Still nervous.

“What incident? When-”

“There was an accident last night. Down-hive, near TrussTown. A partial dome collapse after a localised hivequake. Your father was fatally injured, Sergeant Jarrak was also hurt”.

What the hell was the old bastard doing that far down? He’d never…

“I see. Thank you, sir.” An awkward pause.

“The Emperor protects, citizen.”

“The Emperor protects.”

The young Watchman cleared his throat, turned and strode back out into the dome.

I sat on the cold metal floor for another few minutes, feeling the thousand tiny vibrations that bled through the Hive’s structure every second of every day. The Hive had a heartbeat – the interplay of layer after layer of tunnels and domes, millions of citizens and vast ancient machinery spilling and singing through the countless billions of tons of adamantium and rockcrete that formed this man-made mountain. In places you could feel it as a tiny background sensation if you concentrated, in some tunnels and shafts the Hive practically shimmered with it. Right then it seemed to ebb and flow rhythmically. Soothing, almost.

******

I still remember the day he left with the Guard regiment. I can’t have been more than thirteen years old, standing in the doorway of our small hab in the lower reaches of Hive City. He placed a hand on my shoulder, squeezed. His flak armour creaked and rustled as he bent close. He reached down and pressed something into my palm. An aquila pendant, one wing broken. His pendant, that I’d seen him clutch in the dome’s Imperial chapel for as long as I could remember. One night, drunk on Wildsnake a travelling peddler had brought up from the Underhive, he told me that pendant had belonged to my mother, long-dead and as much a myth to my young mind as the sky or the Emperor’s Astartes. He never spoke of her again.

“Work hard and stay safe where you can, son. Trust in the God-Emperor. I’ll be back someday.”

Even as a boy, I knew well what the likelihood of that was. I resumed my work in the manufactory, and Hive life carried on, as it has done for thousands of years. Ten years later, I left the reclamatorium supervisor’s post and began work as an enquirer, hunting information and tracking knowledge for those in need. Those in need with access to credits, at least. His face faded and blurred in my memory, though his broken aquila still rested around my neck.

But he did return, twenty years on, almost to the day. A changed man, scarred, grim, still suffering from wounds received in action against Chaos cultists on Terra knew what hell planet. It was obvious to anyone that the worst wounds weren’t physical. The once genial man was prone to dark, silent moods and bursts of disoriented rage.

He settled in the outskirts of the dome, in a ramshackle hab not far from the edge of a void. The isolation and the wide emptiness seemed to suit him, and his meagre Imperial Guard pension kept him in drink. I visited the old bastard from time to time, and we maintained a relationship of sorts. I wouldn’t say that we were close anymore, but he was the only father I ever had, and I his only son. We shape what the Hive leaves us.

 ******

The office door sealed with a hiss as I headed out into the dome. I liked the outdoors. Some hivers were troubled by the emptiness and open spaces of larger domes, but I had always felt a certain peace out in the open, the giant girders and plates of the ceiling almost out of sight overhead, light filtering down from a thousand different sources, the feel of the Hive wind shifting over my face. Sometimes the Hive’s heartbeat felt stronger out in the open spaces, the vibration passing up through my boots and reminding me that I was a part of something larger than I could imagine, much like Necromunda was just one planet of a vast Imperium.

Today though, my mind was elsewhere, more shaken by the news of the old bastard’s sudden death than I’d care to admit. I would have to claim the body and organise a burial slot in a suitable Wall, before the reclamatoria got their hands on him. First I wanted to know what had happened – the Watch hadn’t exactly been forthcoming. TrussTown was some ways down-hive, bordering the upper reaches of the Underhive. I passed through often enough in the course of my work, but he hadn’t any connections down there that I knew of.

Sergeant Jarrak. I had to talk to Jarrak. The Infirmary loomed ahead, sharply arched windows gazing down over the square, the tall edifice framed by two giant ducts that ran up into the darkness. As I neared the building, the Hive’s subtle vibration seemed to shift and become stronger, setting my teeth on edge and making me dizzy. Grief and stress could do strange things to a man’s imagination. The disorientation became worse, and I dropped to one knee, snarling and pressing my palms down into the trash-loam. Then the building exploded.

******

I left the dome and headed down-hive, my ears still ringing from the blast. The Watch had showed up almost immediately, pawing the rubble like armoured rats as they searched for survivors. A glance at the devastation convinced me they’d never find any.

A pair of Enforcers had stood to one side and watched, solid and grim as iron statues behind their armoured face plates. Whatever about the Watch, I had no dealings with Enforcers if I could avoid it. Seemingly incorruptible, no hesitation, no compromise, no remorse. Laying down Imperial law in the Underhive, I guessed that’s how you had to be.

The Watch were talking about a promethium spillage and a fume blast taking out the Infirmary. Ratshit. No accident. From where I’d been crouched in the open, I’d seen the flashing ripple of the krak charges taking out the building’s supports, then a larger blast that demolished its interior. Jarrak wasn’t going to offer me anything now, that was for sure. Coincidence? I didn’t make a living by believing in coincidence. Best stick to what I did make a living from and enquire further.

TrussTown took its name from the giant support it clung to – a vast and ancient part of the Hive’s structure, over a hundred metres long and at least thirty wide, solid adamantium, spanning a yawning void. Popular myth had it that the Shaft led all the way to the noxious Sump lake below the Underhive. I doubted that, but the Shaft was undeniably impressive, a wide and seemingly bottomless black pit with mutated bats swooping and the occasional servitor skull gliding about. The Hive wind whispered up from the depths, carrying strange noises and wafts of foul pollutants. More than a few hivers had met their end tumbling down into that darkness.

Above TrussTown, the roof was barely visible fifty metres up, dimly lit by glowing patches of luminescent fungus. The settlement’s sole street ran down the centre of the vast girder, a lone strip of light in the darkness of the Shaft. Habs and other structures perched several stories high on either side, right up to the edge of the abyss. How half the place didn’t topple into oblivion was a never-ending mystery to me. As one of the safer transit points between this part of Hive City and the beginning of the Underhive, TrussTown was a busy trading and supply post, despite its constrained size.

The Dying Ganger was still going strong, old Harlon behind the bar, scared and affable as ever. Much as TrussTown was a route to the Underhive’s dangers and opportunities, Harlon was my route to the Underhive’s knowledge and secrets. He knew the Houses, knew the gangs and the independents, all the players. I knew the Underhive below TrussTown, could practically walk it with my eyes closed, but he knew the people, and that was always a harder pit to mine.

He sympathised on the old bastard’s death, seemed shaken by it himself, though as far as I knew they’d never met. Good man that way, Harlon – people he cared about, he took their burdens on himself. The destruction of the Infirmary troubled him too – “Bad business, boy, bad business harming medicae and the sick. Emperor frowns on that, He does.” He seemed genuinely upset beneath his usual gruff but genial demeanour. Compassionate man, for a hiver – a rare breed this near the Underhive.

With Harlon’s direction I soon had what I came for. An Orlock juve come up-hive to drink the results of a big score gave me what I was after. The hivequake that killed the old bastard and sent Jarrak to his doom in the Infirmary apparently happened in a small, partially ruined dome not far out of town near the main Underhive tunnel route. The dome was uninhabited as far as I knew, but used as a sometime meeting place and tradepoint for gangers, merchants and others. I’d done occasional business there myself, bartering information.

******

I headed out of town, past travellers, merchants and workers traversing the wide tunnel sloping to the Underhive. A few hundred metres down, I branched off through a large crack in the rockcrete and entered a low metal-walled pipe passage, empty of traffic. Mushrooms squelched underfoot as I entered the dome, pushing past dangling wiring and corroded pipes. It was small, maybe a hundred metres in diameter and twenty high. A large corroded pipe rumbled quietly overhead.

One wall of the dome had collapsed, shattered rockcrete and bent wall plating spilled out across the floor. But there was no sign of the wider damage and buckled floor panelling I’d expect from a hivequake. Somehow I wasn’t surprised. A quick inspection revealed the telltale blackened scars of a melta charge on one of the supporting struts in the dome wall. Somebody had brought down this section of wall deliberately.

I pressed my palms flat against the cold wall, feeling the hive’s familiar hum through my fingers. The news of the old man’s death had gotten to me, and the feel of the hive’s ever-present living bulk increasingly brought me solace, odd as that seemed. The minuscule vibrations almost seemed to flow down the wall like running water. I crouched, running my fingertips along the iron plating, straining to-

The lasbolt struck the wall a half-metre above my head with a blinding flare, searing my back as it passed. A hot-shot round, dangerously overcharged for maximum destructive potential. Sparks of molten metal showered from the impact point, stinging my hands. Momentarily blinded, I threw myself down and rolled behind a large fallen wall plate as another round exploded into the floor. Today seemed to be the day for near misses.

I drew my laspistol, the familiar leather grip moulding into my palm. The second round had come from the entrance to the dome, and I peered around my rudimentary cover, searching for a target. Soon enough, I spotted figures moving in the shadows of the entrance tunnel. Gangers – House Goliath, from the bared bulk of their torsos and flaring, spiked hair. Ambushed by a pack of gangers in an abandoned dome? I should have been more careful, wandering around the edges of the Underhive, broadcasting my presence in TrussTown.

More las rounds and some solid slugs clattering from an autopistol flew my way, less well-aimed than the first shot, flying wide and sparking off the floor plates around me. I returned fire, the pistol twitching in my hand as bright bolts flared into the pipes around the entrance. I wasn’t much of a shot, and I only had one spare powerpack. My situation wasn’t tenable – I didn’t know of any other exit from the dome, I was outnumbered and outgunned, and it was only a matter of time before they worked up the courage to close in and finish the deal. If they tossed a grenade or two…

“Get the bastard!”

“You get him, you ratshagging juve!”

Charming bunch, Goliaths. Another glance over my improvised shelter confirmed there were three of them, crouched around the entrance to the dome. Another solid round ricocheted off the plating I hid behind, whining off into the dome.

“Fellas, maybe we can shape a deal here? Credits for the taking, but you won’t find them in here.” Worth a try.

“Screw you, up-hiver! We’ll get what we came for!” So much for deals.

The las-rounds flew in hard and fast – clumsy but effective covering fire. Sure enough, two of the Goliaths roared and charged forward as their companion laid down fire from a lasrifle. This was it. I glanced around, growing desperate. The pipe overhead rumbled softly again. It was badly corroded…

I rolled onto my back behind the wall plate, sighting carefully down the laspistol’s brass barrel. I heard the crash of the Goliaths’ boots as they charged across the dome floor, their companion’s las rounds continuing to splash and flare around me.

My shot blew out a large section of the pipe’s underside, releasing a corrosive deluge of toxic waste down on the unwitting gangers below. Swept off their feet by the searing flood, they didn’t stand a chance. The wall of waste took them and ate the skin off their bones before they could even scream.

Their terrified companion at the entrance screamed plenty. A few snap shots in his direction had him ducking back down the tunnel. I jogged across the floor, my boots hissing as their thick soles met the toxic gunk, my head spinning from the choking fumes, laspistol up and ready. The bulk of the waste had drained off down some hole, and the flow from the ruined pipe cut off as suddenly as it began, a machine spirit somewhere sensing the damage and sealing valves.

Leaving the dome, I saw the surviving Goliath stagger back out into the main tunnel in the distance. Bastard wasn’t getting away that easily, not if there was a chance he was involved in the old man’s death. I ran through the passage, out into the transit tunnel, down towards the Underhive.

******

The fleeing ganger made it nearly a kilometre further. He didn’t try to turn and fight – fortunately for me, armed only with a pistol. I chased him across a high walkway over a hissing steam-filled void, past a slag pit where curious miners looked on and guards raised their weapons, along the top of a giant waste pipe that poured a waterfall of noxious sludge into a bubbling lake. I ran him down at the far side of a small settlement in an ash-floored dome.

He had nowhere left to go. A large man, massively muscled as all Goliath gangers were, bare-chested but for those chain and webbing harnesses they wore, hair spiked high and stained a bright purple – the flash of colour that had helped me track him all the way from the TrussTown tunnel. He didn’t seem to be armed, his weapon lost when he’d stumbled on the high walkway. I raised my laspistol.

“You’ve run out of tunnel, big man. Talk. What’s the game?”

“I swear man -nothing -just jumping hivers for credits, you know-”

He was lying. I took careful aim down the laspistol.

“OK, OK, them cloaks said you was sticking your nose in, told us to watch that dome, anyone came through was to get the same as the old drunk-”

Simmering, glowing and bubbling like that sludge lake, the Hive’s vibrations in sympathy through the soles of my boots, through the grip of the laspistol.

“The old drunk?”

“Yeah man, just some beat-down old hiver, they said he had something of theirs, we was to get it. Said make it look like an accident, then that Watchman showed up following him. Nearly got caught, but we blew the charges- Hey man, you aren’t mad are you? Just some Watch-rat and an old guy, looked like he was half dead already-”

“Sure, some old bastard. I understand. Business.”

He started to relax. I shot him in the face.

From that range, the lasbolt didn’t leave much behind, just that spiked hair, flaring up an even brighter purple as the chemicals caught fire.

Not a smart move – he wasn’t any use to me now, and whoever hired him and his fellow gangers was still out there. As I neared the corpse, I spotted the mini-frag he had clutched behind his back, his thumb on the grenade’s arming stud. Smart move after all.

Then I noticed the floor hatch just behind where he lay, almost concealed by the ash and dust. About a metre square and solid-looking, it had a brass gene-key locking mechanism attached. Didn’t see many of those lying around no-account domes in the Underhive. Virtually impossible to pick, gene-coded only to those- I glanced back at the sprawled Goliath.

The ganger was still some use after all. The lock clicked open as its machine spirit recognised a familiar gene-key. The hatch hissed upwards, ash falling away as it rose. Warm, wet air and a foul stench spilled up from the dark opening. I dropped down into the hole, knowing what was coming.

******

A girder swamp. These structures weren’t uncommon in the Underhive – the underlying supports of domes, a low-ceilinged expanse filled with vertical girders. They often flooded with a metre or more of stagnant water and waste, and combined with the heat from pipes and Hive tech running through the floors, a fetid swamp developed. Deadly fungus, semi-sentient plants, crawling and swimming creatures of the worst sorts. Unpleasant places, even by Hive standards.

I moved further into the swamp, trying to ignore the stink and the damp heat. Girders rose all around me like the mushroom stalks of a real forest, a dense network of metal, almost completely covered with moss, fungus and creeping plant life growing up out of the filthy water. I passed two more ceiling hatches, both of which had been sealed from the inside with plasma cutters. Somebody wanted this place to themselves.

The swamp was dimly lit by luminescent fungus and occasional glow-strips. As I waded between the girders, I soon spotted a pool of brighter light in the distance, barely visible through the dense forest of steel. There were crude structures of flak-board rigged between the girders ahead, a camp of some sort. A raised platform provided a floor over the swamp. I moved closer, slow and careful.

Figures moved through the light, casting flickering shadows out amongst the girders. At least two more Goliath gangers, and a hooded figure. The dead ganger had talked about “cloaks”. I heard a soft splash close behind me, started to turn-

The cold brass muzzle of a lasrifle pressed into my neck. Make that three Goliaths.

“Move or you’re ratfood!”

“Alright, easy, easy-”

A none too gentle nudge from the lasrifle was my only reply. He herded me in towards the three figures in the camp, the other two Goliaths now covering us with their own weapons. One of them cradled a plasma weapon. Nasty piece of work, sun-guns. A bit cumbersome and prone to the occasional misfire, but those superheated globules of plasma will vaporise just about anything that gets in their way.

Damned expensive though, beyond the average ganger’s trade-power by a long shot. Whoever was hiring these muscle-bound idiots obviously spared little expense. I turned towards the hooded figure.

He wore a dark cloak, containing more than a little flak-weave by the way it hung heavy and stiff. The hood was up, but his soft pale face was easily visible in the light of the glow-globes. From a distance, I’d thought he might be a Delaque – the pasty face and bald head under the hood resembled that House’s trademark  appearance. He didn’t wear their customary dark photo-goggles though, and in any case, the ‘lackers and House Goliath rarely got along. Different philosophies.

A nondescript character, if it weren’t for the scars that crisscrossed his face. I wasn’t a squeamish man by any measure, but that face disturbed me. Not just the ugliness of the scars, but their pattern, something about it- I grew nauseous and dizzy as I tried to grasp the symbol they formed across his face.

I wrenched my gaze from that disturbing visage and focussed on his eyes. They didn’t match the dizzying wrongness of his scars, but they weren’t exactly right either. His left eye was dull and dead – like looking into the eye of a corpse, if it weren’t twitching and moving. His right eye burned with an unsettling intensity, seeming to stare right through my head.

Thoroughly shaken up, I glanced around, concentrating on the bulk and presence of the Hive all around me, grounding myself in its endless layered complexity. My head cleared and the disturbance eased.

“Citizen Mak Talton.” It wasn’t a question. His voice matched his appearance, a slightly too-slow, almost-rasping murmur that still somehow carried clearly.

“Look, whatever you-”

“An enquirer of some reputation. It would seem you have enquired too far, Citizen Talton.”

I waited. The Goliaths didn’t move, still training their weapons on me.

“Like father, like son. Your father enquired further than he should have too. Where is it, Citizen Talton?”

“Where’s what, you Throne-damned freak?”. Pays to fawn, sometimes. Sometimes not.

“The device, Citizen Talton. Your drunken fool of a father did not bring it to the tradepoint, and died before he could… converse with us on the topic.” This with a glance at the Goliaths, who paled and shifted uncomfortably.

I had no idea what the hell he was talking about. Any valuables the old man had owned were long ago traded for drink.

“It’s gone. I threw it down the Shaft at TrussTown. Best get your rebreather on, freak. It’s for the Sump now.”

“You are lying, Citizen Talton. Lies are a familiar currency to me, do not think you can barter with them here.”

He turned to the hulking gangers.

“Secure him. We will… talk… further.”

Massively muscled arms took me in a crushing grip. The cloaked man moved forward, reached for my head. This wasn’t looking good.

He placed his palms on either side of my head, his fingers pressing into my skull. His hands were freezing cold, like a corpse in the chiller awaiting recycling. I could feel that cold spreading into my head, numbing my mind. A buzzing seemed to build behind my eyes. A psyker, prying into my head like a man peeling a mushroom stalk.

I reached for something, anything to fend off the alien wrongness of his intrusion. I felt the Hive’s presence all around me, its bulk, its layered vastness, its myriad domes and tunnels and voids, inhabitants and creatures and machine spirits. I felt the Hive’s hum, its vibrations, its pulse. I felt the Emperor’s presence in the Hive, His strength, His power, His will. I let the Hive’s pulse flow around me, through me, into me.

The hooded psyker snarled and ripped his hands from my head, the skin tearing where they’d frozen to my scalp. The Goliaths released me and stepped back, wiping frost from their hands in terrified awe.

“It would seem your roots go deeper than most corpse-worshipping insects in this place, Citizen Talton. Interesting. No matter, one greater than I will bring this conversation to its conclusion soon enough.”

Still dazed from the experience, I had no idea what he was rambling on about. For that matter, I had no idea what had just happened. But I knew exactly what was happening when I dived off the platform and surged through the swamp water, ducking behind the most intact-looking girder I could find.

Back on the platform, the frag grenade I’d taken from the dead ganger in the dome above hit the flak-board with a dull thump. I tucked behind the girder, hunched low in the stinking water.

The grenade exploded with a crumping boom, blowing the platform in two, sending pieces of flak-board flying. Then the powerpack of the Goliath’s plasma gun detonated.

A searing blast of heat sent a wall of water and steam rushing outwards. I emerged from the mess choking and gasping, wiping foul swamp water from my eyes. The platform and structures were totally destroyed, the Goliath gangers torn apart and cast into the swamp. Of the psyker, there was no sign – vaporised or fled?

Either way, I’d had enough. The old man’s killers were gone, and I had barely escaped their fate. Hooded psykers with bizarre scars that made a man dizzy to look at? I’d never encountered it before – thank Terra – but I recognised the taint of Chaos. I knew when I was out of my depth.

I realised just how out of my depth I was when I found the psyker in the dome above, crucified on a crossed pair of iron beams. His facial scars had been cut through and mutilated, deep searing cuts that only a power blade could make. They no longer formed that sickening pattern.

But it was the large, stark “I” symbol branded into his forehead that shook me but good. The Emperor’s Inquisition. A whispered terror in the minds of doubting men, the dark that dark places feared. No one would ever dare carve that symbol who wasn’t-

I muttered the Imperial Creed as I fled the dome, heading back towards TrussTown and the relative safety of Hive City. This wasn’t my business – I’d found vengeance and at least a few answers, and even an enquirer knows some floor plates are best not lifted.

******

I found Harlon pacing the dust in an open area just short of the TrussTown tunnels. He was waiting for me, and he didn’t look happy.

“Boy, what the hell have you gotten into, you rat-brained bastard?”

“You don’t want to know, Harlon. Bad business. It’s done now.”

“The Warp it is. It’s all over the public vox. You’re a wanted man. Enforcers are after you, for Terra’s sake.”

“What?”

“Said you killed that Watchman Jarrak and a bunch of folks at the Infirmary up-hive, murdered Goliath workers and guards down-hive. Even talk of heresy.”

“Harlon, I never-”

“I know, boy, I know. Figured you weren’t the type for those sorts of dramatics. Can’t shoot for shit anyway, how you’d take down half those bodies’d be a fine mystery. What’s really going on? And don’t feed me no ratshit, boy. Knew your father. He may have come back wrong, but he went out right. Good man. Shouldn’t have ended like he did.”

That shook me – I’d only met Harlon a year after I’d begun working as an enquirer, long after the old man had left with the Guard. He’d never told me he knew-

“Come on boy, spill.”

I told him everything that had happened, even the apparent involvement of the Inquisition.

“Well now. Busy day you’ve had, boy. Someone’s set you up for sure. Watch looking for an easy mark? Friends of that hooded thing, Emperor protect us? Or the Inq- well, other parties? Doesn’t much matter anyhow. Hive City ain’t safe for you now. Always did take well to the Underhive, time you gave it a try for real. At least until this business blows off or blows up.”

He was right. I’d been set up good, and whoever was behind it, I didn’t stand a chance against any of the forces involved. I needed trouble with House Goliath or the Enforcers like a hole in the head, and as for the minions of Chaos or the attentions of the Inquisition, Holy Terra…

“Head to Pakk’s Pitfall, look up Martok Half-Hand. Good man, solid. We go back a ways – knew your father too.”

Seemed there was a lot I didn’t know about the old man.

“Those Goliaths won’t have had House sanction, not for this kind of racket – too far even for those meatheads. Still, best avoid their ground for now.”

He was right, but House Goliath was the least of my worries compared to dodging Enforcers and darker threats.

“One more thing, Mak.”

He’d never called me by my name before.

“You told me you could feel the Hive… hum – feel a pulse. Sort of… helped you out of tight spots.”

“Well, I wouldn’t say that, it’s just-”

“Sounded clear enough to me, boy. Might have something to do with how well you find your way around down here, too.”

“Guess I did feel something, but that’s just the usual vibrations that run through everything down here – you know how it is, just got to pay attention.”

“I don’t, son. I never felt the Hive, not like that, or at all. No hiver can, that I ever heard of. But they do.”

He turned and pointed. In the distance, on a high platform over a giant smoking vent, ragged brownclad figures moved. Ratskins. True natives of the Hive, worshipping its ancient might, living simple lives largely remote from the dealings of hivers. Unusual to see a group this high in the Underhive, in fact. A primitive bunch of savages, depending who you asked.

“What are you-”

“Down-hive, boy. Follow your path.”

He started walking away, not looking back.

“The Emperor protects, Mak Talton.”

I turned and headed out into the Underhive, my father’s broken aquila around my neck. We shape what the Hive leaves us.

Necromunda Campaign

Regular readers and followers on Twitter will know that I’ve been playing around with the idea of a Necromunda campaign based around the premise of gangs being abducted and forced to take part in an illegal reality TV show called The Slaughter House. Trapped within a closed off section of the Underhive the gangs must fight one another for survival and in so doing win favour with their captor.

Rather than being map based like the Mordheim campaign I wrote was I kept it as simple as possible. So the usual campaign rules apply with one addition which is Ratings Points. Put simply, the more violence and carnage the higher the ratings. So gangs are rewarded for acts of violence of death-defying feats. Equally any acts of stupidity or just being boring causes a dip in the ratings. The end result is each gang, at the end of every game, will have a Ratings Share in the positive or minus. Positive means rewards, minuses penalties.

The campaign pack can be downloaded from the Gaming Resources page, along with all the other Necromunda resources by the Games Workshop, or alternatively you can click here.

Below is the cover story for your enjoyment…

Welcome, frag fans, to the seventeenth season of The Slaughter House. Six gangs, the limitless nightmare of the badzones and unimaginable slaughter! I’m your host; Pycon and I’ll be with you every step of the way as our contestants slice and dice their way to freedom! Now let’s meet them…’

The spikey haired maniac was drowned out by hundreds of thousands of voices baying for blood. It was like a las-cutter through Hagan’s mind. He groaned as his eyes fl uttered open and he stared up at the vidscreen. He let out a groan as his mind registered the familiar logo oscillating in the top left of the screen. By the Emperor’s bones, not The Slaughter House. Hagan pushed himself upright, swaying unsteadily as the back of his head throbbed. He stared at the fuzzy image on the picter above his head as he fingered the clotted mess
at the back of his head where the cosh had almost fractured his skull. He muttered a curse as he saw his mug shot, presumably clept’ from a local Enforcer house wanted board, alongside a pale, sickly, looking Delaque, an attractive but fearsome Escher, a the stimm tweaked muscle-bound Goliath, a deranged Cawdor and a spooky looking Ratskin chief.

The Escher, Cawdor and Ratskin were unknowns but the Delaque he’d run into before. Actually, that was an understatement. Hagan and his Death Jacks had raided their settlement about 6 months prior; stole a cache of supplies and then burnt the place right down. It was his first real heist since taking command of the rag-tag crew. The Goliath too he’d had dealings with. Mainly selling on the arms he’d stolen from the Delaque. All was going well until someone got greedy and Hagan had to make an example of him courtesy of a hired gun lurking in the shadows with a long-las. Needless to say, the whole deal went South and his crew had to shoot their way out.

Obviously it had caught the attention of more than just the local law enforcement. The Slaughter House was an illegal pictcast that been broadcasting for years with a simple premise – no
holes barred violence for the gratification of the masses. Each season between four and eight gangs would be abducted and left in a sealed off part of the badzones.
With miles and miles of domes, tunnels and shafts available to them the organisers were free to event a series of challenges, increasing in complexity and lethality, that the gangs had to compete against one another to achieve and to the winner the spoils. The spoils being survival and fresh equipment and supplies to keep the gang fighting fit. After all, a healthy gang made for better ratings.

Disobedience or attempts to escape the House were always met with a grim and heavily broadcasted end. Slaughter House seasons, depending on the skill and determination of the ‘contestants’ could last anything from a week to years. The longest Hagan was aware of was concluded in spectacular fashion by an Orlock gang by the name of the Steel Wolves who put down their final opposition three years after the season started. So famous was their leader by the time he was released that he was able to buy his way into the Spire.

Looking away from the screen as the gibbering host detailed the fate that awaited Hagan and his Death Jacks he stared into the gloom. He could just make out the shapes of other prone figures and judging by the number his entire crew was in here with him. Even the hulking form of Alyce, his bad-tempered but highly capable heavy. Hagan allowed himself a smile at the thought of what he would do to those responsible for their abduction if they had taken away Vera, his beloved and highly customised heavy stubber.

As Hagan’ eyes grew accustomed, he was able to make out the familiar shapes of weapons mounted to racks along the walls of what looked like a heavy cargo container – the kind House Van Saar made for the Imperial Guard to ship supplies planet side for one of the Emperor’s wars. Reaching out he yanked free an older Necromundan pattern lasgun. The Cadian and Catachan patterns had long surpassed the Necromundan offering to the Imperial war effort, both having better accuracy and external power cells. The Necromundan pattern was more robust thanks to the internal, longer lasting, power supply that delivered a slightly more powerful charge, but if the cell ran dry it was effectively useless until it could be field stripped which made it unreliable during extended deployments. Judging from the kill markings, or lack thereof, he knew this rifle belonged to Washburne.

Hagan thumbed the activation stud and was rewarded with the hum of life. He checked the power read out and was pleased to see it was reading full. Expertly hefting the rifle, an instinctual hangover from his days as a platoon leader in the Imperial Guard, before all but he and his command staff were wiped out and he was relieved of duty, he made from what
looked like the container’s hatch.

Above him The Slaughter House had taken a break. In its place was a sermon coming from somewhere deep within House Cawdor demanding all true and loyal citizens of the Imperium to cast out the mutant. Which was all well and good but mutations were born to sixty percent of offspring in the lower levels of the Hive City. That number got a lot higher in the Underhive.

Taking a step back he levelled the weapon and clicked off the safety. Screwing his eyes shut he depressed the firing stud.
‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you.’ The voice boomed through the compartment from a dozen concealed speakers. Hagan immediately recognised the voice of the shows host.
‘Why not?’ Hagan growled.
‘Because my hot-headed friend,’ Pycon chirped, ‘the door is magnetised and shooting it with a lasgun will most likely get you killed. And we wouldn’t want that. Yet.’
The compartment was filled with a blaring siren. As Hagan’s Death Jacks were snapped from their state of unconsciousness Pycon’s tone changed as the compartment doors wound open and light flooded in.
‘Death Jacks! Arm yourselves!’ Hagan bellowed, his gang scrambling to their feet and grabbing for
their equipment.
‘Ladies, Gentlemen and miscellaneous!’ Pycon bellowed over the din of crowds. Hagan had no idea
if it were real crowds or just laid over the top to get all the low-lives in the various watering holes and obscura dens across the Underhive excited enough to lay wagers. ‘I give you your contestants! Your gladiators! Your victims!’ The crowd continued to embrace hysteria as Hagan adjusted his jacket and stepped out in to the light.

Any doubt Hagan had about the crowds being real or not was dispelled instantly as he and his gang stepped into a crater three hundred feet deep. Every ten feet balconies had been carved into expanse and every inch was filled with the baying faces of hundreds of thousands of humans and mutants. Every one of them roared incoherently but their intent was clear – they wanted blood. They didn’t care whose or how it was spilled as long as it flowed and flowed freely.All around him and the five other stunned gangs bobbed pict-thief servo-skulls, their gaping mouths filled with camera equipment, beaming their image upon holographs across the arena and to the hive beyond.

‘For your viewing pleasure,’ Pycon continued, ‘your six brave bands of warriors will pit their wits and baser instincts in the one place in the galaxy that even the Adeptus Astartes fear to tread…’ Hagan balked. He’d seen the Astartes in action on three separate occasions. Their capacity for war was unlike anything he could ever imagine. Blasphemy aside he was sure of one thing; the Astartes were afraid of nothing. Hagan drew his focus back on Pycon’s dirge. ‘…a place so horrific the daemonic lurk in its darkest corners…I give you; The Slaughter House!’

The crowd went crazy. The chamber shook with stomping feet and the roars from hundreds of thousands of throats.
‘And now,’ Pycon screamed over the din, his eyes were filled with mania and saliva flecked his lips, ‘It’s time to enter the House!’

Six doors ground open around the edge of the chamber. Each one was lit with a House badge. Hagan looked at the hatch and the darkness beyond and up at the capering Pycon high above him on a shielded dais. He pulled the slide ejecting one of the explosive rounds. Pulling his knife free from his hip he carefully scratched Pycon’s name into the casing before stowing it away in his chest pocket. Slinging his boltgun on his shoulder he signalled for his men to move out. Reaching the gateway he cast one last look over his shoulder at the baying crowds before stalking into the darkness, suddenly reminded of something he’d read as a boy about the fate that awaited participants in the gladiatorial arenas of Holy Terra in a long ago age…
Blood and glory.-

The Slaughter House

Kicking off my refocused blogging efforts I thought I’d post the intro story to the Necromunda campaign I’ll hopefully now get finished. As usual, IP rests with the Games Workshop, but the story etc is mine. And yes, the main characters are from Firefly. What can I say, it’s been years but it’s still the best show ever.

So, I give you The Slaughter House…

Welcome, frag fans, to the seventeenth season of The Slaughter House. Four gangs, the limitless nightmare of the badzones and unimaginable slaughter!
            I’m your host; Pycon and I’ll be with you every step of the way as our contestants slice and dice their way to freedom!
            Now let’s meet them…’
            The spiky haired maniac was drowned out by hundreds of thousands of voices baying for blood. It was like a las-cutter through Reynolds’ mind. He groaned as his eyes fluttered open and he stared up at the vidscreen.
He let out a groan as his mind registered the familiar logo oscillating in the top left of the screen. By the Emperor’s bones, not The Slaughter House. Reynolds pushed himself upright, swaying unsteadily as the back of his head throbbed. He stared at the fuzzy image on the picter above his head as he fingered the clotted mess at the back of his head where the cosh had almost fractured his skull. He groaned as he saw his mug shot, presumably clept’ from a local Enforcer house wanted board, alongside a pale, sickly, looking Delaque, an attractive but fearsome Escher and an aloof and immaculately turned out Van Saar. 
             The Escher and the Van Saar were unknowns but the Delaque he’d run into before. Actually, that was an understatement. Reynolds and his Browncoats had raided Stalker’s settlement about 6 months prior; stole a cache of supplies and then burnt the place right down. It was his first real heist since taking command of the rag-tag crew.
             Obviously it had caught the attention of more than just the local law enforcement.
The Slaughter House was an illegal pictcast that been broadcasting for years with a simple premise – no holes barred violence for the gratification of the masses.

Each season between four and eight gangs would be abducted and left in a sealed off part of the badzones. With miles and miles of domes, tunnels and shafts available to them the organisers were free to event a series of challenges, increasing in complexity and lethality, that the gangs had to compete against one another to achieve and to the winner the spoils. The spoils being survival and fresh equipment and supplies to keep the gang fighting fit. After all, a healthy gang made for better ratings.
            
Disobedience or attempts to escape the House were always met with a grim and heavily broadcasted end.
            
Slaughter House seasons, depending on the skill and determination of the ‘contestants’ could last anything from a week to years. The longest Reynolds was aware of was concluded in spectacular fashion by a Orlock gang by the name of the Steel Wolves who put down their final opposition three years after the season started.
So famous was their leader by the time he was released that he was able to buy his way into the Spire.

Looking away from the screen as the gibbering host detailed the fate that awaited Reynolds and his Browncoats he stared into the gloom. He could just make out the shapes of other prone figures and judging by the number his entire crew was in here with him. Even the hulking form of Jayne, his bad-tempered but highly capable heavy.
            He allowed himself a smile at the thought of what Jayne would do to those responsible for their abduction if they had taken away Vera, his beloved and high customised heavy stubber.
            As Reynolds’ eyes grew accustomed, he was able to make out the familiar shapes of weapons mounted to wracks along the walls of what looked like a heavy cargo container – the kind House Van Saar made for the Imperial Guard to ship supplies planet side for one of the Emperor’s wars.
            Reaching out he yanked free an older Necromundan pattern lasgun. The Cadian and Catachan patterns had long surpassed the Necromundan offering to the Imperial War effort, both having better accuracy and external power cells.
            The Necromundan pattern was more robust thanks to the internal, longer lasting, power supply that delivered a slightly more powerful charge, but if the cell ran dry it was effectively useless until it could be field stripped which made it unreliable during extended deployments.

Judging from the kill markings, or lack thereof, he knew this rifle belonged to Wash. Reynolds thumbed the activation stud and was rewarded with the hum of life. He checked the power read out and was pleased to see it was reading full.
Expertly hefting the rifle, an instinctual hangover from his days as a platoon leader in the Imperial Guard, before all but he and his command staff were wiped out and he was relieved of duty, he made from what looked like the container’s hatch.
            Above him The Slaughter Househad taken a break. In its place was a sermon coming from somewhere deep within House Cawdor demanding all true and loyal citizens of the Imperium to cast out the mutant. Which was all well and good but mutations were born to sixty percent of offspring in the lower levels of the Hive City. That number got a lot higher in the Underhive.
            Taking a step back he levelled the weapon and clicked off the safety. Screwing his eyes shut he depressed the firing stud.
            ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you.’ The voice boomed through the compartment from a dozen concealed speakers. Reynolds immediately recognised the voice of the shows host.
            ‘Why not?’ Reynolds growled.
            ‘Because my hot-headed friend,’ Pycon chirped, ‘the door is magnetised and shooting it with a lasgun will most likely get you killed. And we wouldn’t want that. Yet.’
            The compartment was filled with a blaring siren. As Reynolds’ Browncoats were snapped from their state of unconsciousness Pycon’s tone changed as the compartment doors wound open and light flooded in.
            ‘Browncoats! Arm yourselves!’ Reynolds bellowed, his gang scrambling to their feet and grabbing for their equipment.
            ‘Ladies, Gentlemen and miscellaneous!’ Pycon bellowed over the din of crowds. Reynolds had no idea if it were real crowds or just laid over the top to get all the low-lives in the various watering holes and obscura dens across the Underhive excited enough to lay wagers. ‘I give you your contestants! Your gladiators! Your victims!’ The crowd continued to embrace hysteria as Reynolds adjusted his jacket and stepped out in to the light.

Any doubt Reynolds had about the crowds being real or not was dispelled instantly as he and his gang stepped into a crater three hundred feet deep. Every ten feet balconies had been carved into expanse and every inch was filled with the baying faces of hundreds of thousands of humans and mutants.
            Every one of them roared incoherently but their intent was clear – they wanted blood. They didn’t care whose or how it was spilled as long as it flowed and flowed freely.
            All around him and the three other stunned gangs bobbed pict-thief servo-skulls, their gaping mouths filled with camera equipment, beaming their image upon holographs across the arena and to the hive beyond.
            ‘For your viewing pleasure,’ Pycon continued, ‘your four brave bands of warriors will pit their wits and baser instincts  in the one place in the galaxy that even the Adeptus Astartes fear to tread…’ Reynolds balked. He’d seen the Astartes in action on three separate occasions. Their capacity for war was unlike anything he could ever imagine. Blasphemy aside he was sure of one thing; the Astartes were afraid of nothing.
            Reynolds drew his focus back on Pycon’s dirge. …a place so horrific the daemonic lurk in its darkest corners…I give you The Slaughter House!’
            The crowd went crazy. The chamber shook with stomping feet and the roars from hundreds of thousands of throats.
            ‘And now,’ Pycon screamed over the din, his eyes were filled with mania and saliva flecked his lips, ‘It’s time to enter the House!’
            Four doors ground open around the edge of the chamber. Each one was lit with a House badge.
            Reynolds looked at the hatch and the darkness beyond and up at the capering Pycon high above him on a shielded dais, slung his boltgun and signalled for his men to move out.

Being a bit Special

There’s been a lot of chatter on the interwebs lately about the lack of love the Games Workshop shows for its Specialist Range. I think this has been largely prompted by Fantasy Flight Games’ expanding range of licensed products such as the all new Blood Bowl Manager game. Although there’s a few rumours floating around that Blood Bowl will be the next in line for the Space Hulk treatment. Personally, I’d be quite happy with that because I think it’s the one game that never worked terribly well. I’m probably also the only one who thinks that.

There’s quite a few strong opinions out there. Some are understandable and passionate, others are the usual bilious nonsense that seems to follow Games Workshop around like a bad smell. As the Specialist Games range has been largely my sole focus for the Games Workshop part of my wargaming hobby at the moment I thought I’d wade in.

Whatever people feel, the simple truth behind Games Workshop’s lack of support towards the Specialist Games range boils down to three things:

1. There’s no money in it. This argument won’t come as a surprise to anyone. Any doubt gamers had that profit was at the forefront of Games Workshop’s mind has vanished following the recent price increases. But it’s a true and a fair reason (to a point – no profit means no company). Once you have the rules and a warband box for Mordheim you don’t need to spend another penny if you don’t want to. And all companies rely on repeat business.

2. The Specialist Games ranges stall peoples development in the hobby. This argument may well be anchored in economics but it’s valid. From my experience as a member of staff when Specialist Games was in its heyday, gamers that just played those games didn’t develop their modelling, painting and gaming skills as quickly as other gamers. A gamer that spent a couple of years playing skirmish games before graduating to Warhammer or 40k had their arses handed to them which put them off progressing further. Especially those that considered themselves ‘experienced gamers’.

3. There’s no space. The truth is there’s only so much space in a hobby store for stock and gaming boards and so the company has to give the space to what sells. Especially as ranges are getting bigger all the time. Even the Black Library is relegated to the smallest space possible in most stores. Granted more could be done online but the Games Workshop’s success is based on interaction and sharing the hobby with like-minded people. And, again, you’d still have to pay someone to write free content for a game that makes the business no real money in the first place.

I suppose, really it’s one reason when you scratch beneath the surface of points 2 & 3. Money. And that’s not unreasonable, but it does suck.

So, what can we as gamers do to enjoy the Specialist Games without the ongoing support of the publishers?
Obviously there’s nothing you can do about the lack of models or the relatively high cost of those that are. eBay is the obvious place to go but as I’ve talked about in my By Proxy post, starting a Necromunda gang that way can cost you twice as much as it should. Proxying is the obvious place to go but that’s not being covered here.

The great thing about the Specialist Games range is that the core rules are free to download from the website which is bloody handy and saves you a tidy bit of cash. Granted, printing it is a bind and it’s never the same as having the real deal but for zero investment you can suck it up if you ask me.

Beyond that and trying to track down the supplement magazines, the only thing left to you is writing campaigns.
And actually this is where the Specialist Games range gets one over on Warhammer & 40k because Epic Armageddon, Battlefleet Gothic, Mordheim and Necromunda are all set within a very specific place or time that gives you a very solid and detailed foundation from which to build your campaign on. Most of the leg work has already been done with regards to who’s who and why you’re there. All that’s left for you to do is think up a storyline, come up with some cracking scenarios and have fun. And I certainly have been with the chaps. You just need to have a read of the Blood in the Barrows scenario in the gaming resources part of this site to see that. And Inquisitor gives you a complete blank canvas. But that game does my box in so I’ll not say much more about it.

And if you’re feeling really adventurous, there’s nothing to stop you from revising the rules yourself, a bit like the chaps at Coreheim did. It’s certainly an option and could give your game of choice a new lease on life I’d ask yourself first; is it really worth the effort?

Granted we still come back to the issue of models and often the need to proxy which becomes increasingly difficult with games like Epic & Battlefleet Gothic but the ranges are still largely intact. Especially for Gothic which reinforces my belief that the game is like the Games Workshop’s bastard love child. It desperately wants to embrace it as their own and give it all the love and support it needs but to do so would be at a tremendous financial and personal cost.

I don’t think Games Workshop willingly abandoned the Specialist Games range. If they really wanted them gone they’d just pretend they never existed like Gorkamorka. I just think that the business has a very single-minded strategy which doesn’t leave any wiggle room. Do I like it? No. Is it cost-effective? Yes. And with the recent, cliff like, drop off in sales that Dreadfleet will go some way to rescuing them from, probably as the result of the price increases, there’s even less chance the company will have the funds to put into these wonderful and very special games.