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.

 

 

 

 

Avatars of War Dwarfs – A Review

AoW_logo_300Awhile ago Avatars of War did a kickstarter to get their Dwarf range off the ground for their game Warthrone. Always one to support a good cause I immediately got involved, helping AoW hit their total and a couple of stretch goals. The result? Lots and lots of lovely dwarf models for those with bearded leanings can buy and drool over.

Avatars of War kindly sent me a box of goodies including three of the new Dwarf regiments – Pathfinders, Warriors and Berserkers – amongst other things which will be reviewed in due course, which I’ve been pouring over. For your benefit obviously…

Now, just to be clear, I don’t have the foggiest idea of how Warthrone plays or how nails the Dwarfs are in it but I’ll tell you this: the models are the absolute tits.

The quality of the sculpting is superb. I mean really really gorgeous. I’m forced to make direct comparisons with the Games Workshop kits as a frame of reference and, to be perfectly candid, they wee all over them from a very great height. Granted the Games Workshop models have been knocking around for a few years but whereas the GW models are tiny little men with big beards wearing dresses from Human ladies, the offering from Avatars of War feel entirely more in proportion. I suppose, to put it another way, they feel more like a civilisation than a themed army. Which is just better.

The design of the models just make sense. The Beserkers are stunning. They’re big burly bastards with slabs of granite for chests and big manly beards that look like they might actually grow from someone’s face rather, coils of ship rope painted ginger and sticking their instead.

AOW_plastic_berserkers-700x560Again, it just comes down to the AoW models feel more real. The weapons whilst being fooking huge, don’t have ludicrously thick hafts being gripped in equally ludicrously big hands. In fact, the weapons from the Avatars of War models are all lovely. Every one of them has detail that far outstrips other ranges. And the standard for the Beserkers is hella cool. If slightly impractical.

All the models are covered with lots of lovely, thoughtful, detail that go a long way to making the regiments feel distinct beyond the obvious visual cues like big beards or massive axes. They really are very cool models. And they go together. Properly. Even the bits that afford you variety, like crests of hair and backpacks. I know it seems silly to harp on about it but other models from other companies that shall remain nameless (Mantic) struggle with that from time to time. And the relative prices are the same.

And now for the rub. Penny for penny the basic unit types, like the Thunder Warriors (Thunderers) are more expensive than their GW counterpart. You get 4 more in the AoW box but you pay a tenner more for privilege. Which makes the decision, assuming you’re not bothered about where your Dwarfs come from, a very easy one. The Beserkers, by contrast, are mad value because GW punt out 5 for £15.50 and they’re old and shit. You’ll pay twice over for much poorer models.

If I’m honest, the older kits aren’t quite as sharp as the Beserkers on the casting front. I could be wrong but they look like rastic – that God awful stuff that Privateer Press use, which whilst casts consistent, it can sometimes can feel a bit flat and soulless. But that’s just me being a moany old bastard, they’re still much better Dwarf models than just about anything out there.

When it comes to proxying models from one range to another there comes a bit where you have to hang the expense. Pound for pound the Avatars of War range is more expensive. Yes, someone finally outdid the Games Workshop. But two things are worth bearing in mind. 1. If you’re buying multiple units you’ll make savings as the special units, like the Beserkers, are significantly cheaper than the Games Workshop models (half the cost). And 2. They’re really really good models. So hang the expense. Basically.

The Avatars of War range is available from Firestorm Games, prices starting from £8.95.

Short Tau Tactica: Pathfinders

Tau Pathfinder conversion by Douglas Furen

These past few tacticas I’ve talked quite a bit about the synergies of units and how the Tau army works better as a series of units aiding another rather than in isolation. So its time to start covering just how Tau armies can do that. The best place to start? Well, it’s not called Short Tau Tactica: Pathfinders for nothing!

One thing. The unit can do a lot of things and to truly get the best out of them you will have to pick one, because choosing several impedes the units ability to do the others well. When you consider the cost of the unit, compared to others in the list, and just how fragile it is, you will only get a few turns worth of use out of them before they are blown away in a hail of fire from your opponent.

That’s because, if they aren’t already considered a deadly unit, they soon will be. They are that good.

Use one is to load up on either Ion or Rail rifles (Ion for light infantry and tank killing, Rail for heavy infantry), hunker down in cover and then shoot the hell out of whatever target is needed. If you go for Ion Rifles, its worth perhaps shelling out a pulse accelerator, so as your opponents units get closer, you get an extra turn or two of shooting with a higher weight of firepower from the pulse rifles which are now range 24″. It’s not much, but at the same time, don’t turn your nose up at another 2-14 shots at strength 5 (dependent on unit size).

The other, far superior use of the unit (to me at least), is to use those markerlights. Wonderful little things, they can increase your units BS, strip cover from enemy units or help guide seeker missiles. A unit or two of pathfinders will easily be racking up 4 or more markers a turn, which will equally delight you as much as it

annoys your opponent! Though they can’t be relied upon, taking a unit of 6-8 will produce a decent number of hits a turn, keep them alive long enough to be useful and greatly increase what your units are capable of doing each turn.

However you use them, to keep the unit hanging around longer, it’s probably worth spending a few points to buy a Shas’ui (+1Ld and the ability to buy a black sun filter- yes please!) and, if you have the points left over, springing for the bonding knife ritual so they can regroup regardless of size.

Now the big conundrum to me is if you should bother taking a Devilfish. Whilst they have their uses, being able to scout means you will probably be able to set the squad up in a good position before the game anyway and each turn they spend in a transport is one less turn they are capable of being useful. The option of taking a Recon Drone seems ok, but for the cost (and the rules being a bit unclear as to if it can stay a part of the Devilfish after the Pathfinders have disembarked), I’m not too sure if it’s a good use for the unit, unless you have a strategy that relies upon a part of your army being able to deep strike or appear on the flanks reliably.

All in all, Pathfinders make a great addition to a Tau force. Though forced to be static in nature, in an army that can be otherwise be flexible and on the move at all times, they make up for it by providing such a valuable commodity synchronicity. Also, no need to take markerlights in other units now either, so those units can focus on killing enemy units or securing objectives.

An example of the different approach the Tau Empire take to warfare, Pathfinders will probably make their way into your list at some point. Once used, I’m not sure if they will ever be removed from it.

Just a quick question to the community, how are people finding the Farsight supplement? I’ve yet to read it as I like my hardcover books, but has it affected how people play their armies? Or is it another nice addition that doesn’t add too much unless you like a certain type of list, ala the Iyanden supplement? I’m interested to hear peoples opinions on this, so post in the comments section your experiences.

Anyway, see you soon for another Short Tau Tactica.

Tau pathfinders painted by Kevin Auld

Tau Pathfinders – A Review

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Those that read my review of Codex Tau Empire back in April will know that I was rather taken with the grey skinned bastards. So much so that I’m doing a little 1,000 point allies force to go with my two companies of Ultramarines. And those that read my review will also remember that I was rather taken with the Pathfinders. So it’s really little wonder then that I’ve got hold of a box and giving them the once over. For the greater good you understand…

TauPathfinders01_873x627Even before I read the Codex I was pleased when I heard that Pathfinders were going to be plastic as even when the Tau were first released the Pathfinders were a useful unit to have on the board, but the fact that they were metal and came in blisters of 3 and units of 6 meant that those that didn’t buy the big army box rather missed out. It was doubly true over the years metal models became increasingly expensive and the use of Pathfinders, especially with the introduction of railrifles, became more important.

The third iteration of the Codex has made at least one unit of Pathfinders a compulsory choice in all but name because they’re so damn good. Their options, especially the pulse accelerator drone (which increase pulse weapon range by 6″) means that although vulnerable in the open, they are a heavy hitting unit that can take on medium infantry as standard and then bring the pain on Terminators and the like with the handy addition of the aforementioned railrifles. To be fair the plastic models aren’t any cheaper than the metal ones were but you do get variety and lots of drones including the fooking massive recon drone. But more on that later.

So what’s in the box? Well two – which seems to be the norm these days – sprues that are crammed full of components.

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I do have to hand it to the Games Workshop, although they’ve been pissing gamers off left, right and centre these last few months, they have really upped their game with getting the most out of the plastic. This arguably should make the models cheaper, but as I said – they piss people off. But I digress. The sprues are crammed with bits including some dudey pulse pistols, some pretty decent bare heads – at long bastard last – some spare pulse clips, bonding knives that don’t look lame and some other gubbins. Most importantly, you have enough bits to make a ten Tau squad armed with pulse carbines with bits enough to swap out three with railrifles or ionrifles or a combination of the two. So plenty of ptew ptew for your buck.

Although the fatigues on the legs are a little thin on detail and feel a bit more baggy than a recon unit would probably wear – and the poses are a bit shifty – the rest of the components are ace. The helmets have been refined and have improved comm aerials – just be careful trimming them free. All the weapons are crisp and the separate markerlights allows for the a degree of choice in how you build them. My small force doesn’t have them so the option of not sticking them on is good news for me. Although I suppose if you can be bothered and find magnets small enough you can make them removable.

Truth be told, the quality of the casting of the Pathfinders or the fidelity of the helmet antenna – especially compared to the Fire Warriors – or the quality of the weapons or the cool accessories, or the staggering lack of mould lines don’t steal the show. It’s the drones. They’re awesome. I mean. Awe. Some. The tits. The business. The dog hairy gonads. The recon drone is huge and may as well be Thunderbird 2 for all its whistles and bells including the pokeball grenade dispensers, a burst cannon and some nice detail. Plus the fact that you can mount it on a Devilfish is way cool.

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But, importantly, it doesn’t feel like an after thought like accessories and ‘bonus’ often do. The only bummer is that, aside from the recon drone there’s only enough drone domes to make two drones. But if you’re not bothered about giving your fire warriors drones then you can make the set which does give your Pathfinders a pleasant amount of versatility.

The Pathfinder kit is one of the strongest unit boxes Games Workshop have done in a while. The arm poses coupled with enough accessories means that you’re knocking on the door of variety that the Space Marine tactical squad offers. Not quite mind you, but pretty close. But the sheer volume of cool shit makes up for it. And having the railrifles cast in lovely crisp plastic rather than metal just makes them as cool looking as the boltgun.

Throw in the fact that Pathfinders are frigging nails in the game and it’s pretty much an essential purchase if you’re collecting Tau. Unless you take a butt load of flyers, but that’s a story for another day.

Tau Pathfinders are available from Firestorm Games priced £18.

More Tau Images Leaked

Yep, more White Dwarf snaps of the new Tau stuff. Dribble, drool, or, like me, roll your eyes at the clunkiness of Farsight and go back to your Space Marines.

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Tau Images Leaked

Well another new release and another set of shoddy photos taken by someone who got their hands on a White Dwarf before anyone else.

I did actually spot these at around 3am whilst trying to get the baby to settle but I didn’t think the wife would appreciate me pausing to blog about it…

This time it’s the Tau and huzzah, some new models. However, my worst fears have been realised; the Crisis Suits and Fire Warriors have not been replaced. So the two main units of the army remain dated and uninspiring which is an absolute crime. The Pathfinders and the Broadsides have had an update though.

The Riptide, yes it does say £50, is a fucking great mech, so that’s a win. A big one. With big guns.

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