Posts Tagged ‘gaming’

Orks, orks, orks

Posted: December 12, 2013 in Gaming
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I’m writing about [REDACTED BY INQUISTORIAL ORDER] at the moment, and that’s got me all fired up, so I painted this Ork Battlewagon. This is my first Warhammer 40,000 model since the spring, as I’ve been painting and playing The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game this year almost exclusively. I just realised, I go through a phase every year where I paint a ton of Orks over winter. Must be the long nights or something. Last winter/spring it was Deffkoptas, a Dakkajet, and a bunch of nobs. Next I plan to do a Forgeworld anti-aircraft gun and some Ork barricades (I got them just before they were discontinued. I even had to ring around the local stores to see if they had any left) to be a defence line fortification.

I doubt I’ll get to play with this battlewagon for a while, as my Ork army is so big it’s difficult to get it to my gaming club (it’s in a pub up the hill. I walk there, so I can drink). Heck, even 1500 points means a lot of carrying. It’ll definitely get an outing next time I fight Jes Bickham’s Tyranids.

This is my second painted battlewagon. I have two Forgeworld models (they used to sell the bottom half of their current Battlefortress as a Battlewagon, before the plastic kit was available). The second FW Battlewagon I’ve had a shameful ten years or so, having received it as payment for an article that featured my (then much smaller) Speed Freeks article in White Dwarf some time before I was editor. I better paint it really. It’s been converted in three different ways over those years, but is currently covered in big guns borrowed from the plastic kit, and will probably stay that way.

Battlewagon

It’s not a brilliant photograph, and I have yet to paint the crew, but I thought I’d share.


No posts forever, what can I say? I’ve been backed up to the wazoo (I have no idea what that really means, except I do, but it’s not very British so I’ll say I don’t) with work, hence no posts for quite some time. I have a few I really want to write, but you know, these posts are free. People pay me monies for other words, bills mean I have to take the monetised scribblings first, second, and third every single time. Sorry ’bout that.

This post is not a long one – I come here briefly to say that my Space Marine Battles book, Death of Integrity, is out now to buy. It’ll even be in GW’s shops from tomorrow. As, in fact, will I. Not for sale, but signing my Black Library novels. I’ll be in the Bath Games Workshop between 11.00 am and 1.00pm. so if you’re in the area and want a chat, please come along.

I should also mention that Black Library have re-released “The Rite of Holos” as a digital short, which appeared in Hammer and Bolter last year. This is a prequel to Death of Integrity featuring the Blood Drinkers.

I finished my fourth Black Library novel last week, and have been asked to do plenty more stories of all kinds. If you’re a Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000 fan, you’ll be seeing a lot of me over the next 12 months.


Today I bring you a link to “The King of Black Crag”, a companion story to my upcoming Goblin extravaganza, Skarsnik. Here’s what the Black Library say about it on their website:

While Skarsnik cements his position as Warlord of the Eight Peaks, a rival broods in the nearby fortress of Black Crag. Gorfang Rotgut, the infamous Troll-Eater, sits uneasily on his throne, unsure whether the upstart night goblin is potential ally or the deadliest of foes. Desperate to discover the truth, Gorfang sets off on a quest to visit the shaman Zarrgakk, whose wisdom will decide the matter. And any dangers that lie in Gorfang’s path will just have to hope that the orc warlord is in a good mood…

The story, about Gorfang and his hapless Overrunt Gabble came out yesterday for BL’s Digital Monday. I enjoyed writing “The King of Black Crag” immensely, and so I recommend it even more than I normally would (what with me having written it and everything, you kind of have to expect that).


I’ve been playing in a mini Warhammer tournament at my local gaming club these last few weeks, and it looks like I’m coming in third! Yeah, that’s right, that’s a zogging exclamation mark right there. I’m proud, proud for bronze, because I’ve been playing with nothing but Night Goblins.

The restrictions of the tournament were few — 1500 points, no special characters. When I told my old opponent Jes Bickham about this, he jokingly scoffed, “What is this, the dark ages?”

The pendulum of opinion both inside and outside GW swings to extremes over time. Sometimes “the hobby” is all about the rules, sometimes it’s all about collections of miniatures. At the moment, it’s on the collection setting. But really, these games, and the restrictions we imposed, were about our collections, not beard-gaming.

We play all kinds of games at the club, and our organiser decided on small-ish armies to make the games quick, and no special characters for no better reason than to make us choose slightly different forces to normal.

In my case, no special characters meant no Skarsnik. Nope, really. Skarsnik has become a mainstay of my army. In fact, I can often be heard to declaim that I am Skarsnik. That’s in between berating my Goblins for running away/not running away/ being the wrong shade of green. You may guess, I am tipsy. Screw tea with my war, I drink!

With no Skarsnik, my army’s leadership is a lamentable low of 7. So there has been a lot of running away, but some surprising successes. Here’s my list:

  • “Tiny” McFearsome – Night Goblin Warboss, Armour of Silvered Steel, Ogre Blade. (So-called as he’s tiny, an ancient but still awesome Marauder-range Goblin hero sculpted by Trish and/or Aly Morrison. They’re Scottish, which explains the “McFearsome” part).
  • Bouncer Zig – Night Goblin Big Boss, Great Cave Squig, Sword of Strife.
  • Tolly Grin Cheek – Night Goblin Battle Standard Bearer, Bad Moon Banner.
  • Fingzap – Night Goblin Level 2 Shaman, Dispel Magic Scroll
  • Da Red Hats – 40 Night Goblins with nets, banner, drummer, champion, three fanatics and spears and shields.
  • Spiny’s Stickers – 30 Night Goblins with shortbows, banner, gong basher, champion, two fanatics and Old Moonhat the Spiny (boss).
  • Gutfurk’s Arrer Boys – 30 Night Goblins with shortbows, banner, gong basher, champion, two fanatics and Boss Gutfurk.
  • Bouncer’s Boyz – 10 Squig Hoppers
  • Da Snappin’ Death Balls – Squig herd, 16 Cave Squigs, 12 Night Goblins.

We all played three games, with the number of victory points scored by each player totted up to give a leader board.

Round One

Tomb Kings, led by Pharoah Ashley. I lost horribly, as I fed my units one at a time through tiny gaps in scenery where they were shot down. Frankly, neither Tiny nor I wish to discuss it.

Round Two

A victory against Count James of the Empire, memorable for Bouncer’s Boys hammering across the board then rolling the entire opposing army up from left flank to right. The squigs died one by one, but hilariously ended the game, one man strong, chasing thirty handgunners down the battlefield.

Round Three

Also a victory, against Evil Lord Charlie’s Dark Elves. A great game this, really close, until victory in the last turn came about due to the panicking of my opponent’s large unit of Executioners by… Goblin shortbow fire. I laugh uproariously to say it. The darkest and best of Har Ganeth ran away like the wet elf-goths they are, right into one of the many, many fanatics whizzing around their position and… Well, they all died, and their general legged it off the board, shrieking like a schoolgirl. Some awful animosity rolls here, though. I failed four tests, and twice I got the dreaded “1″ result on the table, which killed about 15 gobboes off. If you don’t know, “1″ on the animosity chart means d6 strength 3 hits on the nearest animosity-prone unit (2d6 if the unit is a horde), and the same back as your target retaliates. Neither unit, and this is the killer, can do anything for the rest of the turn afterwards, which is awful. It’s the first game I’ve suffered this since the latest Army Book came out. And Ouch. Oucy ouch ouch. My advance was stymied for most of the game, leaving me at the mercy of those damnable machine-gun crossbows Dark Elves tote.

Still, Tiny won the day. He only died once in the tournament, and in true Gobbo fashion, only had to fight one melee. In the narrative I constructed in my head, Skarsnik will be most displeased. Concerned by Tiny’s feisty nature and occasional outbursts of tactical acumen, Skarsnik sent Tiny away on a “speshel mishun”, hoping that the better-than-averagely-competent Goblin would die in the process. Unfortunately for the King of Karak Eight Peaks, Tiny returns in glory.

When I nearly walked out of the pub without my figure case, I explained that Skarsnik told me that, should Tiny survive, I had to leave him behind. The battered Lord Charlie said “I like to think you’re actually that mentally unstable.” Oh how we laughed, like at the end of an episode of Thundercats.

Little does he know, eh Skarsnik? Eh? That’s right.

I am Skarsnik.


Good day!

New boxes!

Foam, glorious foam. Note the top container. Real Orks keep their heaviest tanks in “Sensitive” wet wipe boxes. Who’s going to laugh?

I had the great privilege of being at Salute this weekend with The Black Library. I’ve wanted to go forever. As usual, I got to meet a load of really nice readers, and got some pleasing feedback on Baneblade. Thanks to everyone that came and said hello.

Being the huge old wargames nerd that I am I got very excited about being there, and I did not disappoint myself with the amount of money I spent (horrify, would probably be apt). My purchases included some super new figure cases from KR Cases. This ingenious storage solution consists of tough cardboard outers filled with figure hugging soft foam (the kind that hugs goblins, not hourglass ladies’ shapes), and a series of cool bags that you can slip the boxes in and out of (I went for a pouch-festooned backpack). Cardboard isn’t as crap as it sounds — remember they used to make suitcases out of this stuff. KR’s cardboard is super dense, and wax-coated. You can get an awful lot into those boxes, and I’m glad I got them as I was sick of my Ork army falling to pieces every time I took it anywhere. Still, it’s a big army. The three boxes below hold about three fifths of it. I’ve a Citadel case full of grots and boys, and a fighter bomber that need accommodating, along with a defence line, quad gun, and a massive Battlewagon I built out of an old Forgeworld Battlewagon, with fixings and turrets from the new(er) Citadel one. It’s quite special, and I’ll show it off when it’s done.

SAGABut, at £25 per case (including foam) and with no postage, it’s not entirely daunting to consider getting some more. I might even shift over the rest of my collection to KR. I sincerely recommend it. My thanks to Carl from the Independent Characters podcast for doing the hard sell. I nearly went for Battlefoam (I already have some, so feel comfortable making the comparison), but KR is cheaper, the foam is softer and, at least at this early stage, seems a bit more versatile.

My other purchases were a couple of books. I’ve been getting excited about The Lord of The Rings/The Hobbit strategy game recently, and got myself the Mordor army list to read on the train (bought in GW Bath, but it still counts toward the overall weekend spend). Skirmishing is where it’s at for me, as it means I can paint some different models and have a cool force on the table without investing half my life in painting an entirely new army. So, having a ton of Gripping Beast Dark Ages miniatures anyway (as well as some Wargames Foundry, and a healthy number of ancient Perry twins Citadel Vikings), after seeing a demo I thought I’d give their wargame scale SAGA game a go.

Vikings 005

Does this mean we get to come out and play again finally?

The system doesn’t rely on differences between troops so much as other systems do — all the factions basically have three grades of warriors that use the same stats (with minor differences). That kind of makes sense, as in that period everyone used similar equipment, and so there are also no real army lists either. The tactical wrinkles are in the unique orders system for each side presented on card “battleboards”. By rolling six special dice you generate various symbols that can be spent to give basic orders to your men or to employ their special talents.  As far as I can tell, it’s got a really smooth, clean play style, and I’m very much looking forward to giving it a try. My only grumble was that at £25 for a slender rulebook, it’s very steeply priced, so much so I spent the whole day debating whether to get it. I certainly didn’t buy the dice sets, which for my two forces of Saxons and Vikings would have come in at a whopping additional £24 for 16 cubes of plastic. If I enjoy SAGA I’ll probably invest as using regular dice — which you can — might get annoying. I can’t help it.


The most satisfying thing about this job is connecting with people who love the same stuff you do. And I don’t mean in a “Gosh, your books are so cool, have my babies” kind of way. I’m talking about my visits to events both now as an author and when I was a journalist, those occasions when you just get to chew the fat with fellow fans. You can do this anyway, but being a guest or a crew member carries certain advantages. Your time is structured, which I like, you feel like you have a license to talk to anyone, and a lot of people want to talk to you. Connection, right? I might protest misanthropy and snarl at the world from the safety of my garret, but we’re social creatures at heart.

Meeting people who have actually read your work is also damn cool. It demonstrates you’re not sat alone in said garret shooting words out into the inky void, but actually into the minds of fellow geeks. It reassures you that someone is willing to  invest the time and effort to read what you put so much time and effort into creating. That affirmation  means I can dial back on my medication, and my therapist gives me that  special smile that indicates progress and perhaps, one day, release into the community. If the reader likes your work, so much the better, but it’s not crucial, and friendly negative feedback is intensely useful.

This is not about ego, but you know, being at one with your fellow man and all, in the grand communion of science fiction. The gang from Fifty Shades of Geek I was particularly impressed by. Check out their website.

Attending Black Library Live delivers even more for me on the communion front, because I’m a MASSIVE fan of GW (I bought new toys. Shh! Don’t tell the wife). And as I used to work there, I got to see a lot of old friends. Most precious of all, I got out of the house for two whole days!

I wanted to say thanks to all the pleasant people I met, and double thanks for making the 120 preview copies of Baneblade sell out in 25 minutes or so. I was the day’s first sell out! (Um, that could be read two ways. The nice way, folks, the nice way).

I had such a good time that it didn’t matter that my 2500 point Ork army, the largest fielded in some time, was utterly annihilated by Jes Bickham’s Hive Fleet Eumenides the Friday before the big day, nor that my Dakkajet, so loving painted over so much time, was shot down the turn it arrived having achieved precisely nothing. Such is the fate of  all freshly finished miniatures, however. I bear no ill will. (The final beer after the game though, probably a mistake…)

A great game followed by beers followed by a great event = a great weekend. See you at the next one.