Friday, 30 September 2011

Black Crusade! Finally arrived. . .

Just a quick post to say I've (finally) received my copy of Black Crusade from Fantasy Flight Games.  And well worth the wait it was. . .

I've never been that much of a role player - in fact, I've never actually ran or been involved in a campaign for more than two consecutive sessions!  But occasionally a few of us get together and run through some scenarios over a few beers.  After reading through the preview adventure for Black Crusade months ago, I knew I fancied running a game or two as the "bad guys" so preordered this in June.

Black Crusade follows the usual FFG formula for a 40K RPG; lots of rules, lots of background and lots of options.  Basically, if you've ever read through Dark Heresy or Deathwatch, you'll be familiar with the format here.

In keeping with the chaotic nature of this book, Black Crusade does away with all the separate advancement tables for each class.  Instead you pick a basic character type and the choices for advancement are guided by which Chaos God you're favoured by.

Other exciting additions include; the ability to recruit Minions (hired goons to follow you around and generally make you feel like a proper bad guy,) Compacts (basically missions designed to keep your heretics focused on something other than killing each other) and Daemon Weapons (these look much nastier than those originally available in Dark Heresy.)

New additions to the adversaries include the Dark Eldar (Warriors, Incubi and Mandrakes) and the Necrons (Warriors, Flayed Ones, Immortals and the massive Tomb Stalker.)  There is also a fair bit of guidance for mixing the four 40K rpgs, including the Hordes rules from Deathwatch and using Black Crusade as a source for villains in the other three systems.

The book itself is up to Fantasy Flight's usual high standard with lots of fluff and background material.  There is a mix of older and newer artwork, some of which looks absolutely lush!  

So, after my initial read through, this looks a great book to pick up. Even if you're not into RPG's, but just a 40K fan, there's plenty here to interest you.  For RPG fanatics, it looks like FFG have built on an already solid ruleset and added enough new flavour to keep it interesting.  Looking forward to getting this on the table.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

This and that and not a lot!

Again, apologies for the lack of content recently.  Gears of War 3 has really eaten into my free time!  Added to that, the Mrs has been on holiday too, so we've been doing lots of "couple-y" things - walking and arguing mainly (only joking if she reads this!)

A couple weeks ago I was invited for another Dystopian Wars game at the Aberdeen Wargames Club.  This time a three player free for all agains Gaz's Brits and Adam's Yanks.  Again, this was starter sets (without the bombers) with the other two having spotter planes and dive-bombers, while I had two squadrons of 5 torpedo bombers.

This is how the game looked about the start of the second turn (we managed four in total.)  Each fleet moved to their right, but as Gaz had to deploy in the middle of the table, he took the brunt of both fleets firepower leaving the Brits with only their battleship with any guns left!  Meanwhile, Adam and I exchanged some minor fire with our frigates and fighters.

A very enjoyable game against two great guys.  I've missed the last couple club nights duo to a night out (and Gears, obviously,) but will head back next week.

Other than that, I decided to sell off my Flames of War Fallschirmjager army. . . . and build another one.   I've never been happy with the camo scheme on them and, as I have a infantry company box in the cupboard, a new army shouldn't be that expensive to come up with.

In keeping with my recent taste for historical fiction, I've just finished Harry Sidebottom's Warrior of Rome: Fire in the East.  A very enjoyable read, if a little clunky at times.  It's the first in a series  of (currently) four books, so looking forward to picking up the second novel in the future.

So that was the last couple weeks - not as much as I'd planned (apart from Gears,) but still somewhat productive.  Hopefully I'll get a couple more games in next week and get back to picking up a paint brush!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Dreadfleet - wow, what a lot of whining!

Thanks to their massive publicity machine, almost every nerd on the net will have heard of GW's upcoming boxed game, Dreadfleet.  And what a reaction the announcement has generated.

First off, in case you've not heard much about Dreadfleet, here's a little blurb from GW's blog:

"Dreadfleet is a standalone boxed game for two (or more) players that includes everything you need to make war on the high seas of the Warhammer world. At your command are two fleets of ships - the Dreadfleet led by the Vampire Count Noctilus, aboard his gargantuan sea-hulk the Bloody Reaver; and the Grand Alliance commanded by the Pirate Captain Jaego Roth, who recently stole the Heldenhammer - the pride of the Imperial Fleet, and one of the largest galleons to ever sail the high seas. After his family's death at the hands of Count Noctilus, Captain Jaego Roth is after revenge and no one will get in his way."

You can also hear a studio introduction, featuring author Phil Kelly and some dubious voice acting:

So there you have it. A game in a box; everything you need to play, including a game mat, miniatures, scenery, rules, cards etc.  Dreadfleet is set in the Warhammer World, but otherwise unrelated to GW's other games.  Lastly, Dreadfleet is on a limited print run, so the "while stocks last" guff is plastered all over the publicity.

Almost immediately afer it was announced, Dreadfleet and GW started taking flak.

The biggest criticism of Dreadfleet I've heard online, is simply that it isn't either Warhammer Quest or Blood Bowl.  In many ways, GW have left themselves open to this kind of attack through the success that their re-release of Space Hulk was.  They took an older game that many of their customer would describe as iconic and look back on with nostalgia, gave it a makeover (with some kick-arse miniatures) and made a heap of cash.  However, the fact that this release isn't the one that many (some) people wanted, does that justify the scorn being poured out?

Can we speculate why GW decided not to produce a remake of Warhammer Quest or Blood Bowl?  Yes, of course we can.  The most obvious reason is their licencing agreement with Fantasy Flight.  A Warhammer Quest release (assuming a £60/$100 price point) would conflict directly with the second edition of Descent just released.  The stand-alone nature of this release and the inherently expansion driven nature of Descent means that this kind of release would harm both companies and be to the benefit of neither.

Why not Blood Bowl?  Again the standalone release GW seem to be going for would prohibit this.  There are, roughly, eleven Warhammer races.  Is it reasonable to expect that many teams in a standalone box?  No.  So do GW release a box with, say, four races and basically piss off half their customer base by not having their team available?  On the other hand, do they release a box with just two teams and then leave it at that?  Again no, Blood Bowl was a game based on leagues and multiple teams and ignoring that would be a very poor decision to make.  Alternatively, teams could be drip fed in individual box sets, but this would contradict GW's core business strategy, taking attention, resouces and floor space away from their core product.

These complaints also ignore the fundamental business decision GW are making by producing a standalone, limited run box.  It's to generate a one-off, high spike of revenue.  This release comes at half way though the financial year and, to my eyes, is intended to influence their half yearly shareholder announcements.  Anything wrong with that?  No, not at all.  GW is answerable, financially, to it's shareholders, not to their customers.  Their Space Hulk release was at the same time in the year and was a huge success in this respect.

As customers and consumers, we have the choice whether to take advantage of the game (and support GW's business plan as a result,) or not to buy the game and move on.  As a side point, GW took a lot of heat last year when they "found" some excess Space Hulk stock, and were able to offer the game a second time.  A repeat of this is unlikely, due to both the PR flak they would take and the fact that large numbers of customers bought multiple boxes to sell on (sealed copies are going for well over £100 nowadays)

So most of the chatter seems to be about what Dreadfleet isn't  "It isn't what I wanted" "It isn't a proper game" "There's nothing else to it but what's in the box."

Is there anything good to say about the release?  For starters, the contents look lush!  Each ship looks distinctive (although there is the feel of a pastiche when you look at the ten ships together) and they seem to be surprisingly large (if the comparison picture is to be believed.)  GW appear to have adopted a few mechanics from Fantasy Flight and have introduced some random card and ability mechanics that sound interesting.

Unfortunately, GW haven't released any information on either the game mechanics or the rules, so assessing Dreadfleets quality as a game is pretty difficult.  Probably a mistake, Fantasy Flight make all their rules available online, before release, and this makes it easier to assess new games.  

So, will I pick this up when it's released?  To be honest, I'm not sure yet.  I haven't mentioned the price point yet, £70, which puts it about £15-£20 above the price for a "normal" boardgame, but there is a lot of stuff in the box.  Also, some of the islands could double up as Dystopian Wars terrain.  Also, the Mrs, who isn't a gamer, made some agreeable noises when she saw the ships. . .

So undecided.  Still a couple weeks before release, so we'll see what happens. . .

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Home alone

. . . for a whole week!

Well, not entirely alone if you include the cat, but to all intents and purposes, I've had the house to myself!  The Mrs has been at a conference in Croatia, so I've been left to my own devices.

Ah, what grand plans I had.  With all the hours of the day available, I had a whole list of things I could get done - and at my own pace.

Needless to say, the last few days haven't panned out as I had hoped.

The week didn't get off to the best of starts with the Mrs being late for her flight, resulting in a mad dash to the airport.  The rest of the day was consumed by watching a lot of sport, making a curry and having a few beers!

The rest of the week seemed to revolve around studying, sport, takeaway meals and Deus Ex on the XBox!!!  Great game, by the way, very stylish with several different ways to play the game.

I also ploughed through a heap of TV; the latest series of Futurama, third series of The Mentalist, Series 3 & 4 of My Name Is Earl and, for good measure, a Schwarzenegger movie marathon.  

The lead/plastic/resin mountain hasn't changed at all (in fact, something new was added to it!) so those Dystopian Wars fleets are still floating around half finished.  I did get a game in at the club again though.

So the lesson from the week?  Turns out I'm not as productive on my own as I thought I would be.  So I'll be glad when she's back - and maybe I'll get something useful done!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Aberdeen Wargames Club

Had my second week at the Aberdeen Wargame Club this week.  I've been planning to go along for the best part of a year, but finally managed to arrange a visit (thanks Scott for letting me tag along.)

A very relaxed atmosphere and a good mix of people made it an enjoyable first visit (unsurprisingly though, it was a sausage-fest.)

Got chatting to Gaz about various games and he offered me a game of Dystopian Wars this week.  Gaz brought his Kingdom of Britannia fleet (and the sheet and the scenery) while I brought out my (nearly complete) Empire of the Blazing Sun fleet.  We agreed on a starter box battle, without the tiny flyers.

We played three full turns before deciding to call it a day (the three turns took over three hours!)  I had narrowly destroyed more ships, but my cruisers and battleship had taken a beating, so we decided to call it a gentlemanly draw.

I really wasn't up to speed with a lot of the finer rules, but my opponent was very patient and understanding.

We've a rematch scheduled for next week with some different forces.  I've some Inari Scout Gyros to paint up and I think I'll proxy some different ships I don't have the models for.

So thanks Gaz and everyone else there I met