Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category


As promised, here are a couple of beastmen. Me and my regular gaming partner are playing a little Path to Glory campaign at the moment. As I’ve bought a fair few beastmen to play with in Age of Sigmar, I had to include some in my warband. The campaign has given me the excuse (if I really needed one) to buy some Slaves to Darkness models too. I find the start collecting boxes great value, so I got one of those and a box of Chaos Marauder Horsemen. Actually, only the Chaos Warriors are currently in my little army, but like I said, excuses to buy more models…

I really enjoy the opportunity to put whatever I like in my army. It works particularly well with Chaos, which is so diverse an alliance. I’ve got a bit sick of painting orruks for the time being, so having that all important gaming rationale for working on a bit of this and a bit of that is very welcome.

One thing I’ve noticed in putting all this stuff together is how constrained the sculptors were by having to get the units in old Warhammer to rank up. The older models, while nerd-ticklingly cool, lack the dynamism of the latest Age of Sigmar products, so I did a fair few arm and weapon swaps on my 30 beastmen to get a bit more variety and some attacking poses.

I’m halfway through the first little lot of ten Gors. Then I’ve ten Ungors to paint. I dismissed these as being puny in game, but I’ve become rather fond of their goaty little legs and their angry little faces. Pictures soon(ish).

Wassup? Been busy, as I said last time I was here. I’ve three novels to write in four months (+++STATUS UPDATE 1.4 NOVELS COMPLETE +++BLEEP+++), and also my dog, Magnus died. I mentioned it on twitter, but I was so cut up about it I didn’t feel like sharing in the modern-day way with a 3000 word eulogy. He was my friend. I was very upset. Enough.

So, all this is bit frustrating actually, as there is a TON of stuff I want to write about on this blog; some, as you know from past performance, I’ll never get around to communicating. But some things are timely, and if I have time to take advantage of the timeliness, I should. So I do. So here we go.

Today I got this message from Thor Odinson (@Thor_Odinson). I’m pretty sure he’s not the Thor, but you never know.

POINTS VALUES WERE NEVER BALANCED. They were actually unfair. Warhammer devolved into an exercise where power-mad dice chuckers would spend every waking moment breaking the latest army book. “Well, the points are equal. Therefore it is fair,” they would say of their latest hell-combo, when quite patently it was not fair, and what they really meant was “This arbitrary system of points attribution provides a cloak of legitimacy to my frightening need to prove my validity as a human being by winning at toy soldiers.”

So have you heard that GW’s adding points to Age of Sigmar?

I was going to answer this anyway, so I thought I’d share with everyone.

In short: Points in Age of Sigmar are a not a good idea, they’re a great idea.

What?! Yeah, you read that right. Let me explain.

I have nothing against points in games. I play plenty of games that use points-based army selection systems – X-Wing, Bolt Action and Saga among them. The difference with these systems is that the points values – more or less – have some correlation with how useful something is in the game (though X-Wing is edging its way out of that bracket).

But in Warhammer – and I definitely mean Warhammer 40,000 here too – not so much. Both 8th Edition Warhammer and current 40k are so complex, with so many layers of rules, supplements, exceptions and so forth that the points values were/are essentially meaningless. Games Workshop have always had a tendency to make their latest models more powerful. In the main this is just out-and-out “wouldn’t it be way cool if this could do that?” gaming geekery. Rules creep has been the norm in Warhammer right from when I was a nipper. Watch tourney players debating the 40k  “meta” as I believe the youngsters call it these days, and most of the top lists are drawn from the more recent codexes. I reiterate, this is nothing new. You should have heard me endlessly rant about how overpowered 2nd and 3rd edition Wood Elves were (and they bloody were).

Points values started out very simple. As did Warhammer. The more complex the game got, the less accurate points became as a metric of how powerful something was, and the more open to abuse the system was. Points gaming was the default way to play, therefore winning at all costs by breaking the army books became the game. As a more thematic, story-driven, hobby gamer, this bored and frustrated me.

However, points are good, if the system works. We’ve all heard the arguments for the need for them during pick-up games, and then there’s the tournament community, who were put out by the lack of pointage in AoS.

There was great debate about the points value thing within GW when AoS was launched. They wanted to get away from points as default gaming style. But the community didn’t entirely agree, and Games Workshop are listening to their fans again. That’s the really important thing here. I think they’ve moved from a position of “We’re the market leader, our customers will follow whatever we do,” because, well New Coke.

I’m all for it. Provided points don’t become again practically the only way to play, and they are executed with the same elegant simplicity as the Age of Sigmar core rules, then they’ll be really cool.

By dint of the timing of this decision, when open play is already embedded in the public consciousness,  I am reasonably confident that points gaming won’t come to completely dominate as it did in the past, and even if it does, then we’ve now all been freed from the “must have a 2000-point army that beats everything” mindset. Open play will continue to be a viable option. If the campaign system proves to be good too, then we’ve exciting times ahead.

I’m also confident that the points system will be balanced. Of key importance here, GW seem to be involving people who have lots and lots of experience in organised play like tournaments.

Every playing style will be accommodated in the upcoming General’s Handbook. That’s a good thing. I’m sure I’ll play all three ways.

Rules creep will happen. It happens everywhere. But AoS, with its free rules and warscrolls, offers the chance for constant tweaking and rebalancing. The core rules are so short that should they need adjusting it can be done relatively easily. It won’t take a 300 page rulebook every four years and a dozen codexes/army books.

I used the word “devolved” in my original post. Well, it looks like we’re getting a touch of progressive evolution.

Does that answer your question, Mighty Odinsson?

More greenskins, of course. What do you take me for, some kind of elf-fondler?

After last week’s AoS game, I decided to split my two units of 30+ and 40+ Orruks into three. After snipping some arms off and rearranging things, I now have one unit of 23 with two choppas, one unit of 24 with two choppas, and one unit of 23 with pigstikka spears and Waaagh! shields. The larger units were just too unwieldy. With their low-sh bravery, I was losing far more to battleshock than actual fighting, plus you can’t bring the numbers of a large unit to bear. I’m hoping this will allow more flexible movement, while preserving that vital +1 attack for having 20 or more models, for at least one turn, anyway.


I cannot cure my orc addiction, now matter what you call them.

I’m still playing and enjoying Age of Sigmar. I’m not quite used to the tactical niceties of it yet, I’m talking about things like optimal unit size for my Orruks and how to use the various mobs in conjunction with each other. One of the things I like so much about the game is the more organic feel the unit formations have. You can have a line of choppa armed Orruks backed up by two lines of spear orruks, employ skirmish screens of archers or embed your larger creatures in less powerful units. Sounds ridiculous to say in a game about dragons and such, but it feels more realistic not having this absolute separation of units from one another (although I still wish you could merge different groups together). I have also learned the hard way that a handful of Fyreslayers are more than a match for nearly one hundred Orruks, especially if you feed them one unit at a time like an arse.

We played The Watchtower on Tuesday night, with some hastily concocted homebrew rules to more adequately reflect the solid, stone built nature of the Mighty Fortress tower we were using, including wounds for the building, and the need to break down a reinforced door before the units inside could be attacked. My Orruks were pounded, but not before slaying my good buddy Steve’s Magmadroth. Finally. After it ate most of my army. But I still win, morally.

Here are some pictures.


The Orruk battleline. I’ve added my old spear chukkas to the army, and painted some more boys. Slowly getting there in terms of the grey plastic to paint ratio.


Orruks supporting my giant. Of course, like a knob I separated them, didn’t I?


Waaaagh! Etc. I do actually shout this, as someone I know recently commented on the internet.


Watch out boys, naked, unpainted dwarfs! The worst kind of nakedness.


Pow! A quick insight to what is on my hobby table right now. I’ve not had chance to do a lot recently, but I’ve done okay. Here’s some stuff.


A Cygor for my growing Beastmen Age of Sigmar Army. This model is brilliant, Games Workshop at its best – dynamic, packed with detail, and pretty damn weird. The instructions barely scratch the modelling options with the kit, and I opted for a beast of my own design. I enjoyed putting it together it so much I may buy another, just so I can do the traditional “death cow throwing giant glowing rock” version. Facing a summoning army (one of the oft complained about aspects of the game) will be a walk in the park with these things because they literally eat wizards. In the background you can see some of the many Orruks I’ve been batch painting for my Greenskinz army, and to the left it one of two nifty, laser cut MDF paint stands I bought over Christmas.


I’ve also been slowly putting together a couple of forces of 1/72 scale World War II armies for Bolt Action. Not played it yet as I want to have most of the materials painted and looking cool. This here is part of a resin bocage set that I have since finished.


Here’s my latest finished miniature for Age of Sigmar, a Warhammer giant, or as it is now known, gargant.

I’ve had this chap knocking about in a box for years. I originally got hold of it when we did the White Dwarf relaunch “Teh Giant Roxxor!” issue (yeah, I’ve had a long and lovely relationship with the internet). I distinctly remember the GW studio manager asking me suspiciously “Why did we give you one of those then?” Well, I needed to put the thing together so I could understand the kit properly and present it in the best light. I also really wanted one, but the first reason was paramount. I still think it’s important to engage with models when writing about them. When I was commissioned for Baneblade I assembled a Baneblade and had it on my desk throughout the writing. I still generally do something with the figures and/or games when I’m working. Not always, I admit, but often.

I didn’t paint this giant for ages for two reasons. The first was that I already had a painted Marauder Giant from waaaaay back (I still have it. It weighs as much as my head), and those pesky points values prevented me from taking two. Even when it was allowed, it didn’t make for a workable army. The second was that as time went on and WFB seemed to become more and more about breaking the latest army book and less about co-operative fun, I stopped playing in favour of other games (I really did have this experience a lot, and it wasn’t to my taste). Together with my also neglected until recently but now freshly painted Orruks, he’s finally out of the box and ready to stomp.


I decided on a traditional fairy-tale vibe for the giant, because I just love the fleeing peasant and his hapless, soon to be consumed mate.


Another detail I love is the cow! Brilliant. Besides being very dynamic, the model is festooned with humorous touches.









Rargh! Im going this way.

Rargh! I’m going this way. Stop me if you can.


A face only a hobbyist could love.