Saturday, December 15, 2012

Posting is the Reason for the Season

Hail, fair readers!

The Wargamer is going to go dark for the rest of the month and come back at cha in the new year. December is a bad time for me to be hobbying (believe it or not) because it's the time that I'm most needed at work. Yes, the life of a games shop retail clerk is especially rewarding this time of year when I need to man the cash register and bolster my knowledge of gaming so as to make recommendations galore!

Fear not, I shall be back in January with some new stuff. Heck! Next year around this time, I might even compile some "gift idea" articles. Why not? I'm qualified to do so.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Broke and Literate

So out of that huge list of stuff I mentioned I couldn't wait for last post, I got all of it but the SAGA supplement (and Baldur's Gate, but that's 'cause the Mac version isn't ready yet). This is not because SAGA isn't a beloved game of mine, simply that I don't have any games of SAGA lined up, while I have a weekly Pathfinder game, Crusade of Fire is limited edition, and as a CMoN Legion Member I'm obliged to keep up to date on Dark Age's stuff (and this book was a long time coming to my LGS).

Oh, that and

So as you can see, I have my hands full—or rather my eyes full.

I'll keep you all updated as I get through this mammoth stack.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gamer's Dilemma

You know, I'm tryin' ta save money, I'm tryin' ta be good, but whether it's an obsessive compulsion or a yet-undiagnosed mental condition that only gamers have (or only those that have it become gamers), I need to take a slight reprieve from my savings plan. Alas!

I won't lose a second of sleep.

I usually like to try and make posts of substance here on The Wargamer but the buzz of three cups of coffee and a slew of new releases from my favorite gaming companies makes this kind of post seem like a good idea.

Here's what's going in my shopping basket this weekend:

1. Dark Age: Devastation

Lordy-lordy I've been waiting for this since GenCon. I prefer to buy all my stuff from my local game shop, so I had to stare at the "add to cart" button on CoolMiniOrNot's website until they finally shipped to distributors. Now, it will soon be mine, and with it, all the cool new Core army list entries to drool over. Now I hope there's more to this book than just the Core and the Cult of Mutilation, because as cool as they are, I'm not currently working on either of those factions, and I'd like an excuse to pull the book out during a game of Dark Age and use something out of there. I also hope I'm still listed as a playtester. I did do a ton of playtesting during the first round of playtests, but since then, Dark Age has undergone a management change, and I might've gotten lost in the shuffle.

2. SAGA: The Raven's Shadow

This supplement to SAGA (an instant hit with my game group) introduces four more nations/tribes/empires to SAGA (Franks, Irish, North Gael, and Strathclyde Welsh), and some new scenarios and rules including some with the use of banners! Never did I think I'd ever get as excited about banners as I am now (+1 to combat resolution is great, but what would Vikings do with them?)

3. Pathfinder NPC Codex

Pathfinder is my favorite version of D&D, but it may surprise you to know that I view D&D4 as a worthy game system in its own right. For example, one of the things I love about D&D4 is that I don't have to spend hours before the gaming session making NPCs. Ugh! Who cares? My players are just going to kill them or interact with them through role-playing anyway. But what if they need to fight a bunch of palace guards, or they need (or want) to take out a bartender? The Gamemastery Guide had some good NPCs in there, but this one has 300 NPCs in it. If I need a town guard captain, I can just turn to one of the pages, add a name and mannerism(s) and BAM! I've got a new punching bag for my players.

4. Warhammer 40,000: Crusade of Fire

Now I've gone on the record as saying that GW's new hardcover codices and army books are top notch! As someone who's been playing GW games for ~16 years (and who's also a collector of the older games and as such am familiar with the rules of previous editions), I can safely say that these are the most balanced army rules they've ever put out. I'm also a huge fan of Warhammer's Blood in the Badlands. I think I can say that this book will be as good as that one, and as such I'm excited to see it. It claims to have new flier rules, which I think are just going to be the stats for the Fliers they released rules for in White Dwarf but not anywhere else. Either way, I'm stoked for the campaign.

5. Baldur's Gate

Now, I don't normally talk about video/computer games, 'cause I don't really play them. They're fun, and cool; I just decided years ago that my gaming time (and budget) is limited and that board/card/miniatures/role-playing games are my real passion. However, Baldur's Gate is still my favorite video game of all time, and the release of the "enhanced edition" is about a week away. I have to wait until the Mac version is available, which will be later than the Nov. 30th release date for the PC, but you can bet your boots, I'll be glued to my iMac until this game is finished twice-over (once with my original human thief, and once with my half-elf wizard)

Alright, the coffee's wearing off, I'm gonna split, and I also need to figure out where I'm going to get the money to buy all this stuff. You only need one kidney, right?


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Look at what came in the mail today

A near-mint condition copy of "Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness." It is the first half of the Realm of Chaos series (the second being "The Lost and the Damned"), and it features my favorite Chaos god, Slaanesh (what's wrong with me?).

So. I'm gonna read it. Good bye!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Print on Demand: a review whether you like it or not

As I've previously written, White Wolf/Onyx Path (one of my favorite RPG producers) has gone to a "digital first" model. This means that they will publish all their books in pdf first, then produce a print-on-demand (PoD) version of the pdf. Occasionally, they run Kickstarters for special editions of their books. So far, they've been doing this pretty successfully; their rate at getting books to the PoD stage is almost instantaneous, and I've been supporting (and enjoying) every Vampire-related Kickstarter they've done.

I'll reiterate my gripes, though: I don't like their current neglect of "brick-and-mortar" shops even though they've stated their disbelief in the traditional method of distribution. They state that they're working on finding a way to include game shops in their current model, but so far nothing's come of that. I may come across as biased, being an employee of a game shop, but you'll have to give me the benefit of the doubt when I say that I'd feel the same even if I wasn't an employee of a games shop. Games shops have always been a part of my hobby "career," both as a marketplace, and as a community center of sorts, and I work at one because I think they're great, not the other way around.

Also, pdfs are irritating. I've bought pdfs (mostly as a by-product of buying PoD products) and I've only skimmed them. I've never sat down and read a pdf gaming product. This might change if I ever bought an iPad or other tablet, but even with my brand new smartphone, I don't relish reading one. I have them to whet my appetite until my PoD arrives.

On to the meat of this article: Vampire: the Requiem Blood Sorcery

I ordered this book on Friday, September 14th; it shipped on Thursday, September 27th; I received it on Tuesday, October 9th. All together it took 3 weeks and 4 days to get to my grubby hands from when I clicked "buy." A far cry from taking a 45min bus ride to my local game shop and grabbing it off the shelf. Now I'm not naïve; I know that it takes a long time to order things, but it took almost two weeks to print it. Still, I'd rather have them make PoD products than just pdfs so I'm not going to gripe too loudly. Plus, if my only complaint is the time it takes to get to me, then it's still a worthwhile product.

And it is.

The product is a full-color softcover. This is the first PoD product I've bought, so I've yet to experience the quality of the black and white products or the hardcovers. I hear that the black and white products don't have "full bleed" (which means that there is a small white border around every page), but the color ones do.

The paper quality isn't as great as their older "traditional" products, but it's not shitty. The printing is clear, and crisp with no pixilization of any pictures or text, it's just not glossy and looks more like the kind of paper I could walk out to an Office Depot and buy. However, it doesn't cost me the lake of ink I'd need to print it off and it's already bound.

Were it not for the type of paper and the lack of anything on the inside of the covers it would look exactly like a softcover White Wolf product of yore.

As for the content, itself, it's a fine supplement. A lot of gamers feel that every supplement should be a necessary one, but I often divide supplements into necessary (or as far as an RPG product is necessary to one's life) and optional. Necessary VtR products would be "Danse Macabre" or the "Requiem Chronicler's Guide." These are books that either update the game system through errata or revision, or add so much (or so importantly) to the game, you wonder why they weren't included in the first place. Optional refers to books like "VII" or the "Clanbooks." Were these books to be left out of a regular gaming session the game would not feel lacking, but their addition would enhance the game in certain ways.

In short, the supplement is an optional one, but does give a little bit more detail, and character to the systems of Crúac or Theban Sorcery. Having never played a character that used either of these two systems, I can't comment too strongly on the new rules, but they look like they'd be interesting, and I'm definitely going to think about playing a "spellcasting" character in my next game.

All-in-all it looks like your typical White Wolf supplement, albeit with a difference in cosmetic aspects. It's got its usual WW style, and attitude, which is a good sign considering the changes they're making to the business side of things. At least we'll always have the same content, which is the most important thing.


P.S. Unfortunately I may have bitten off more than I can chew in regards to my convention schedule in 2013, and so the aforementioned "Gottacon" tournament diary is cancelled due to the fact that I'm not going to Gottacon in 2013. I plan to go to GenCon and Lock and Load this coming year, and am also planning on getting closer to the black financially. As such, I can't see myself affording a trip to Victoria, BC in three months.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Down the Pipe

And I don't mean something gross by the title, either!

Here's what I got cookin':
+ Review of a Print on Demand (PoD) product from OneBookShelf
+ Some news on an old RPG that's getting a re-do.
+ The beginnings of a tournament diary once I figure out whether I'm gonna take part in the Warhammer, or the Warhammer 40,000 tournament at GottaCon.
+ I got a better phone with a better camera, so maybe some pictures already!

All this and more on this blog I periodically neglect and feel guilty about.


Monday, September 3, 2012


What a slow week last week, huh? Ah, I've just been busy.

What do I have coming up this week? Well, I'm designing my own wargame (the rules to which should fit on a single piece of paper!), so I'll have some things to say about that process. I also got a hold of the new Dark Vengeance kit from Games Workshop, so I'll talk about that, and I got my copy of the V20 Companion in the mail, so you can bet your boots I got something to say about that.

I got called into work today, so this does count as Monday's update. I also plan on being partied-out for most of Tuesday, so Wednesday's post will be good, and I'll even throw in a Thursday too ('cause I'm boss like that).


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Another Warmachine Battle Report

Psst! Here's a sneak post (this doesn't count as Monday's post). This is a game of Warmachine I played some weeks ago. It's not very long, but it's neat. Take a look.

Here it is!


Friday, August 24, 2012

The Onyx Path

"Oh most glorious Carmin! Please will you step down from your golden throne of gaming and share your glorious opinion with the masses regarding White Wolf's change to Onyx Path?"
"HAHAHAHA! NO! You cannot begin to comprehend the wondrous sounds that I form regarding this pleasing news, for you are mere mortals, and are of the flesh! NOW GO!"
"Please, oh game master! We are aimless! We know not what to think regarding this news. Shall it usher in a new era for the World of Darkness both new and old, or is it but another sign of the end times?"
"But oh handsome typer of game-related musings, we beg you! Tell us already."
"FINE! But I cannot be held responsible for what might result from your hubris. Now let me put on these fangs and this cape. I'm just going to... Climb down... From this... Throne... Ah, there we go! NOW HARK... I SHALL BEGIN:"

It was announced at GenCon this year (2012, in case you just woke up) that Onyx Path Publishing (OPP, but not the kind you're thinking of) will be the new publisher for White Wolf's (WW) properties. OPP is run by Rich Thomas, who has been with White Wolf since the beginning, as well as staffed by all the writers, and designers we've loved from White Wolf's heyday(s). They also own the properties to the Trinity universes (Adventure!, Aberrant, and Trinity (Æon)), and Scion. They've announced a new edition for Exalted, and are probably going to do a new edition for Scion as well. But don't take my word for it; check out their release schedule here.

A bit of background: In 2006 White Wolf merged with CCP (Crowd Control Productions. The makers of Eve: Online). At first it was great, because it injected more capital into WW and allowed them to do cool stuff. However, the cracks soon became apparent when CCP had to lay off a huge majority of WW staff because of the shortcomings of Eve. It soon became apparent that while passionate about WW's stuff, CCP was just not fit to publish pen-and-paper games. So, Rich Thomas decided to start his own company and called it Onyx Path Publishing. He's licensing the rights to make pen-and-paper products of the World of Darkness (current and classic), and Exalted (these games are still owned by White Wolf, which is a division of CCP... Try and keep up). He also bought Scion and the Trinity universes.

So where does that leave us today? With much optimism. OPP is still banking on the digital production model, which I have mixed feelings about. However, One Book Shelf has stated that they're looking into ways to include the retail channel in their model, which would be stellar. Really, I'd just like to see the core books and the storyteller screens kept in regular supply through the traditional means of distribution, at least, but I'm no businessman.

OPP is also promising a slew of new stuff! Of course, I'm most excited about any Vampire: the Requiem stuff, including the new campaign/update to the game system, but I think I'm going to fall for the new WoD stuff, and the new Mummy stuff. I don't think I'll contribute to the Mummy Kickstarter, but I'll get the books through Print on Demand (PoD, or Now in Print, as they're calling it, despite the fact that it abbreviates to NiP. What's with White Wolf and these fairly tame sexualized abbreviations?).

I'm most excited for the revisions to the WoD and VtR games. I like how they're not going to a new edition, despite the fact that I normally back new editions pretty faithfully. I'd just hate to have to do extra work to bring my old books up to speed, and I dislike the stigma that a new edition evokes amongst gamers. They're also releasing more fiction, which will be a definite buy for me. I'm reading through the Clan Saga from the Masquerade days, and really enjoying it, and I've always thought the fiction in the gaming books was fantastic.

It does seem to be an ambitious schedule, especially for a company that's going through some pretty ambitious changes. As one of my favorite gaming companies producing one of my favorite games, I wish them the best, and hope that all the huge decisions they've made in the last few years turn out to be fruitful.


P.S. I've had 18,000 viewers as of me typing this!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Happy Birthday Vampire: the Requiem

Eight years ago today, Vampire: the Requiem and the World of Darkness was unleashed upon the gaming world. I wasn't involved in the game at the time, but it has since changed my gaming. Now, Vampire didn't change my life, or have me meet my beloved the way that some testimonials claimed (which are touching, as any passionate gamer might agree), but Vampire had a profound effect on my gaming life. So I guess insofar as gaming is a part of my life, I guess it did change my life... No beloved, though.

Anyway, here's what I typed, ad hoc, on the White Wolf forums. It's a short birthday wish to one of my favorite games of all time.

I was a huge D&D player in the '90s, but an even huger CCGer. Vampire: the Eternal Struggle still occupies a top 3 spot for my favorite CCGs of all time. I never got into Vampire: the Masquerade because I always thought there was too much there, and it would be too huge a jump (I was also in my teens in the late '90s/early '00s so the idea of a role-playing game with gothic imagery was out of my comfort zone). So it went largely ignored.

In 2006 I began working for a game shop and we stocked the White Wolf role-playing games. It wasn't until a year afterwards that I thought I'd just give the World of Darkness a try. I had played every other RPG I could get my hands on, except this one, and thought I'd give it a shot.

I can surely say that Vampire: the Requiem changed the way I feel about role-playing games. It was refreshing to be free of plot, and given ultimate reign in a role-playing game. Not to say that others are constrictive, but Vampire told me I could be as free as I want. It was the first game I'd seen that
suggested I use certain rules in the main body of the text instead of in a sidebar.

Ever since 2007 I've
"embraced" the other WoD lines, and even went back and gave the Masquerade a shot. Nothing has replaced the joy and the excitement I feel for the Requiem, though.

Today it sits on my top 3 role-playing game list just like its card game cousin sits on my top 3 CCG list. Thanks a ton, White Wolf (Onyx Path), and Happy Birthday to VtR!

So that's that. Just something short, sweet, and fanged for today's post. There's been a lot of news coming out of GenCon (natch'!) and I'm not going to comment on all of it, but I will comment on Onyx Path Publishing in Wednesday's post, because the World of Darkness is so near and dear to my heart. So come back tomorrow, (blood)suckers!


Friday, August 17, 2012

Kingdom Builder

For the amount of board games I play, I sure don't write a lot about them on this blog. I guess it's because I play so many of them, and talk about them all day at work, that I feel I've said all I need to say about certain games. However, if you're too far from the shop, or lazy, or are afraid of vagrants on the bus, and your car is on cinder blocks, you don't get to admire the pearls of wisdom I shed to the customers who come through our door.

So let me speak of the winner of this year's Spiel des Jahres: Kingdom Builder.

(photo by Raiko Puust)

I've played Kingdom Builder many times - probably 13 by now - and I really like it. It has some of my favorite aspects of board games: speed, ease of play, and player interaction (and maps... I love maps!). The average game takes about 30 minutes when you really get into it, but your first game will be closer to the 45 minute mark that the box claims. The game is simple to learn, and has many opportunities for strategic maneuverings within the confines of its basic game play.

In Kingdom Builder, your goal is to build the best kingdom. The quality of your kingdom is measured in points (or gold, as they call them). You only tally points at the end of the game, and you get points for touching cities (3 points), and fulfilling the conditions on the kingdom builder cards. Whoever has the most points, wins!

Kingdom Builder Cards (photo by Raiko Puust)

At the beginning of the game you have 10 kingdom builder cards, and 8 map sectors. You randomly choose four map sectors and set them up in a rectangle in any orientation (so long as it makes a rectangle), and three kingdom builder cards which sit at the top of the board. Each player then receives a terrain card, and the game begins.
(Photo by Mikko Saari)

On a player's turn, she flips over their terrain card (which she's allowed to peek at), and places three (always at least three, if possible) settlements on a terrain hexagon that matches the one on her card. These settlements always have to be touching a settlement belonging to her color, and matching the terrain hex on the terrain card. If this is not possible for whatever reason, all remaining settlements may be placed somewhere else on the board that matches the terrain card, but does not have to touch an existing settlement. The player then discards the terrain card, and draws another. Play passes to another player.

Terrain Cards (photo by Chris Norwood)

There are some neat things that one can do in this game, beyond simply placing settlements. If a player's settlement should touch a hexagon with a location on it, that player gets the location counter that's sitting on top of the location. There are always two location counters on a location, and a player may not receive more than one counter from the same location hex. She can receive another of the same location counter from a different location hex, but never from the same. The counters confer upon the player certain benefits that are explained in the game. Ship counters let you build on water, while barns let you move one settlement from a hexagon to a hexagon matching the card you just played. These counters can only be used once per turn per counter, but they have unlimited uses during the game.

Location Counters (photo by Chris Norwood)

The kingdom builder cards will give you more opportunities to score points. These ones are scored before cities, and include opportunities like extra points if you build on every horizontal line of hexes, or if you have the most settlements in one of the four sectors, etc.

It's that simple!

The game does have opportunities for strategic thought, though. One strategy I've used to some success is making sure I delay placing settlements so that they touch multiple terrain types for as long as I can. This way it leaves my decision-making open for as long as possible. If I can get to multiple spaces on the board quicker than my opponent, I can surround them, or just take some of those kingdom builder card conditions a lot quicker.

As mentioned before, I like the game because of its simplicity and speed. I find simplicity a virtue, and this game's got it. There are multiple areas for strategy and each game is going to be different what with the random board sections (which each include a different location), and kingdom builder cards. I normally move on to an expansion slowly, but with this one I'm dying to get on to the expansion.

At first I didn't like the random card draw for settlement placement. I thought this was too random, and I believe that a few players will see it that way, but ultimately I like randomness in my games, as I feel it's a great equalizer between player's skills. It also teaches you to roll with the punches, a skill I've noticed many gamers don't really like to utilize. I also wish there was a way to keep score during the game, but there's really not. I'd like to know how well I'm doing during the game, so I can adjust my strategy to suit the situation.

All-in-all a deserved win by the man who created Dominion, and though this may sound like heresy, I do believe I enjoy Kingdom Builder more than I do the father of all deck-building games. If you haven't played Kingdom Builder yet, pop down to your local game shop and do so.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sunday is Game Day!

This past Sunday I, once-again, ventured into Vancouver's North Shore (I say that it's Vancouver's, but it's really two independent cities named after Vancouver) to roll dice, drink beer, and yell. Sunday's game was Warhammer 40,000, and Sunday's army was Chaos Space Marines.

What I love most about this club I go to ("CHOP!") is that the members are completely concerned only with amusement. They're infamous for being loud; in fact, their name derives from the sidebar in the Warhammer rulebook on page 72, and they're known to yell it out whenever something incredible happens in a game (in which case you're supposed to yell along with them). This might irk some people who desire a more chess-like atmosphere, and it has made some people cringe who aren't used to the Vancouverites' antics (such as my beloved American folk), but I think it's fantastic!

Miniatures gaming is supposed to be fun, and crazy. I think Games Workshop knows this too, as their new rules sets lean more towards this kind of play (see my posts about Warhammer 40k 6th edition during June 2012). Of course, the strategic element has to be primary, but who says you can't season it with wackiness?

Anyway, I digress. CHOP!'s loudness and outgoing approach to wargaming has forced them to find a venue where they can be themselves. They found one in a local lodge in North Vancouver, where they get their own room, and access to as many British pints as they can drink (which is a lot).

Now, I don't mean to paint these guys as amateurs; they're not. They will give you some of the hardest games you've ever played. They're not power gamers in that they'll bend the rules to benefit themselves, but they're not above taking advantage of certain "hidden gems" or oversights on the part of the GW design team.

All-in-all, I have a fantastic time gaming with these guys, and they're hosting a tournament in a couple months, in which I'll take part, and begin a long-desired project on this blog: a tournament preparedness series.

Regarding my game of 40k: I lost, but just barely, against an opponent I respect greatly. He had a terrible series of die rolls, but in the end he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat; or should I say I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory? CHOP! to me, I guess.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Daemons and You: Addendum

So, I've had some time to digest the new daemon stuff (gross!) and I'd like to give a couple new opinions on the revised lists.

I think all my opinions regarding Daemons in 40k still stand, however, I've looked over the Flamers of Tzeentch in Warhammer again and I'd like to re-iterate that I don't think they're "nerfed" (as common gaming nomenclature), nor do I think they're "broken." I had problems with them in the 7th edition book, and those problems were somewhat addressed. They're still a good choice, but they're not as unbalanced as they used to be.

Also, the Exalted Chariot of Slaanesh isn't as bad a choice as I thought. I'm ashamed to say I only got as far as the points cost in the army list, and got scared that I'd have to dig into my Rare choices to get it. Daemons don't have a ton of rare choices (especially now that Flamers are Special), anyway, and I neglected to see that it gets to bring twice the number of Steeds of Slaanesh, and Daemonettes to the party, as the other chariot. Combined with the 8 Wounds it has, and the fact that it does 2d6+1 Impact Hits for only double the points cost of the lesser chariot, makes me do a 180, opinion-wise.

Alright, now on to more pressing news: I'll be away this whole week on a mystical island somewhere in British Columbia, Canada. Therefore I won't be posting anything here. I'm not bringing my laptop, and I won't get much hobby time in anyway.

However, I hope to have read the majority of the High Adventure Role-Playing (HARP) rulebook so I'll have something to talk about when I get back.

See you (on August 6th), space cowboy!


Friday, July 27, 2012

Daemons and You!

Now I could go on, and on, ad nauseam on the changes to the Daemons of Chaos/Chaos Daemons update, and how it will change this, or tweak that, but we both have better things to do on the Internet, so I'll keep this as succinct and readable as I can.

This 16-page booklet came free in the August issue of White Dwarf. With the introduction of new plastics for old Daemon favorites, the design studio felt it appropriate to update the Chaos Daemons codex for Warhammer 40,000, and the Daemons of Chaos army book for Warhammer. This booklet does not touch on every unit in the army/armies, but it only gives us a few units that were in the direst need of change. It also introduced new Slaanesh units, much to my excitement, as that damnable prince of pleasure is my favorite of the Chaos Gods.

New plastic Plaguebearers

Let's begin with the Warhammer portion of the Daemon changes. The most noticeable change for Daemons of Chaos is the introduction of the Soul Grinder. Though many of you may scratch your heads at the idea of a mechanical construct coming down from the Realm of Chaos into the Empire, need I point out the 4th edition Warhammer Chaos Army Book with the titan in the background?

There's always been a weird mix of the technological with the Warhammer World, so let's get over it. The Soul Grinder is about the cost of a Slaaneshi Giant, but is way more reliable. Though I wonder why I would pay 55pts for a bolt thrower upgrade for the damned thing (pun intended), it does get access to a stone thrower, a fire thrower, and what amounts to a power fist (S10) that does d6 wounds. I don't know if I'd take all three upgrades, as they're ~50pts each, but I can see taking a couple just to give it some versatility. Six Wounds and a Toughness of 7 means that it's going to be around for a bit, but the WS and BS of 3 isn't anything to write home about. Overall, I like it.


Flamers and Screamers of Tzeentch got a much-needed change. Flamers went up by 5pts and no longer destroy any unit they look at. They now count as shooting with Multiple Shots, which gives them a -1 to hit penalty. Their attacks are still flaming, but now they have a Warpflame ability which pretty much means there's a chance the unit targeted will suffer additional hits for being covered with daemonic fire. Their Strength got dropped to 4 (which makes sense). I hate to toss around the phrase "broken" the way so many gamers on the Internet do, but now they're not broken.

New plastic Flamers of Tzeentch

Screamers have an additional Wound, 2 additional Attacks, and an additional Strength and Toughness all for a measly 10pt upgrade. Their slashing attacks got better, wherein they now cause d3 S4 hits on a 4+ to one unengaged unit they move over (note that I didn't mention that the unit has to be in the open like in the old entry. Not even forests can protect you from creepy daemon fish). They also have this thing called Lamprey's Bite, which means they cause Multiple Wounds (d3) to Large Targets.

New plastic Screamers of Tzeentch

Now onto the good stuff: Slaanesh. He/She/It's got some good stuff in this update in the form of chariot-thingys. One is a Seeker Chariot of Slaanesh which is a T4/W4 chariot that does Impact Hits with Armor Piercing. If you're sick of the phrase "Glass Cannon," then I'm sorry to use it again, but this is it. It's only got a 6+ save, so don't expect this thing to take a hit. But it's 20pts cheaper than a Chaos Warrior chariot so I'm alright with that. I wouldn't say it's an amazing buy, but it's nice to see Slaanesh get a heavier hitter. It also comes in Exalted form, which doubles its Attacks and Wounds, and  gives it 2d6+1 Impact Hits with Armor Piercing! But for double the points, and a Rare space. For the last two points, I'm not sure if I'm necessarily down with the Exalted version, but I'm willing to see it in play and judge for myself. I think I'd take one, just for the sake of having more Slaaneshi stuff, but I'm not making any judgement calls either way. Ooh, but 2d6+1 Armor Piercing Impact Hits is tempting... Much like the allure of Slaanesh...

Plastic Seeker Chariot of Slaanesh

Now there's this thing called the Hellflayer of Slaanesh which looks like a Chaos version of farm equipment. It seems like a version of the regular chariot but, like the Exalted chariot, has an Exalted Alluress on it. It still has only W4, but it has an ability called Soulscent which gives the Exalted Alluress extra attacks based on the number of unsaved Wounds caused by its Impact Hits. For 130pts I think this one's a good buy. It still takes up a Rare space, which you might want for a Soul Grinder, but choice is a part of army construction.

Plastic Exalted Seeker Chariot of Slaanesh
(Can be built with two Seeker Chariot of Slaanesh boxes)

Warhammer 40,000
For 40k they pretty much just updated the same units. Flamers of Tzeentch are 12pts cheaper and are now limited to 9 models per squad (Tzeentch's number). They have an extra Wound, and an extra point of Initiative. It's important to note that all the Daemons in this update don't have Save values, but instead have the Daemon special rule (which states that they cause Fear and have a 5+ Invulnerable save).

Screamers have an extra Wound, and extra point of Initiative, and two extra Attacks for 9 more points. Again, their squad size is limited to nine models, and they get Lamprey's Bite just like their Warhammer cousins. In 40k, however, this attack does a S5, AP2, Melee attack with Armorbane. They lose Warp Jaws because of this attack. Now, just like their Warhammer cousins, they get a Slashing Attack which works similarly to the Warhammer version (d3 S4, AP-, hits (no rolling to hit) to one unit you fly over), with the exception that takes advantage of 40k's new wound allocation rules: "Use the final position of the Screamers for Wound allocation..." This means that if your opponents are hiding their choice targets at the back of their units for fear of them dying to incoming (usually 12 o' clock) fire, these puppies (er - fish) can take 'em out with a back strike. 

New plastic Nurglings

So far, I think these two units are still worth it. Flamers have always been pretty nasty, but now their Save is lower. I think Flamers are now a total no-brainer (if they weren't before), but from what I understand from people who understand the "meta-game" more than I, Chaos Daemons needed a bit of a boost.

The new Slaaneshi units take advantage of the new Chariot designation in the 40k, 6th edition, rulebook. I can't remember any specific details about Chariots (and to be perfectly honest, it's 2:38 and I'm kinda tired), but they're pretty much 11/11/10 vehicles for 40pts (for a Seeker Chariot), to 60pts (for a Hellflayer), to 90pts (for an Exalted Seeker Chariot).

Plastic Hellflayer of Slaanesh

I've noticed a couple interesting typos in regards to the Slaaneshi Chariots: For one, in the army list entry for the Hellflayer, the Alluress has I5 instead of I6 like in the Bestiary, or the other Chariot entries. Also, the Hellflayer entry doesn't have Fleshshredder like it does in the Bestiary or like the other Chariots have. 

Fleshshredder gives you a Hammer of Wrath attack (pretty much Impact Hits like in Warhammer) at S4, AP-, with Rending. It also gives you d6 of these Hammer of Wrath attacks for each Hull Point it has remaining (they all start with 2 except for the Exalted Chariot which has 4!). This makes the Exalted Chariot a total no-brainer, unlike it's more ambiguous Warhammer counterpart (it's not like the Chaos Daemon codex was brimming with other Heavy Support choices, either).

The Hellflayer is a Fast Attack choice that has the exact same rule from Warhammer: Soulscent. Except replace Impact Hits with Hammer of Wrath attacks. 

I imagine Games Workshop will release this as a PDF for free (or they may charge... They do have a digital library these days) a month or so after release like they've done with many White Dwarf army lists (Blood Angels 4-5, Sisters of Battle, etc.). Overall the toning-down of the Flamers in Warhammer, and the beefing up of all the Daemons in 40k were much needed. I hated Flamers in Warhammer, and I always felt that Daemons in 40k needed more punch. I don't know if these changes will fix the balance with 40k Daemons, but I'm looking forward to find out. At the very least it can't hurt. The changes in Warhammer were less dramatic, but now I really want a Soul Grinder (they finally stuck the damn thing on a base too! I'm gonna get the big oval base for my Chaos Marine Defiler), so I can use it for Warhammer and 40k.

I hope this was readable and informative. If not, then I apologize. I've gotten progressively more and more tired as this thing went on. I have a Warhammer game scheduled for 11:00 today, so I really should be up in ~5 hours to do some errands and get ready. Any more Daemonic questions, or to berate my naïveté, just leave 'em in the comments section and I'll respond in kind. I'm pretty good about allowing even the most critical comments (as you might be able to tell if you go back and see some previous comments). I just keep the filters on to weed out spam, and racist/sexist/homophobic stuff.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Couple Things

First: Baldur's Gate.

Holy carp!

To say that I'm excited for this game, is an understatement. Baldur's Gate is my favorite video game of all time, bar none, and AD&D 2nd edition still holds some emotional allure to myself. It seems that they haven't tinkered with it too much, except to add stuff, so I look forward to re-creating Archer, the human rogue, and taking him back into the Forgotten Realms.

Second: If you want to read a WARMACHINE battle report I took part in, go here.

Third: I got my White Dwarf with the Daemons of Chaos/Chaos Daemons updates in it. I'll write-up a review tonight and have it ready for Friday's post (for once).

Fourth: I have a 2000pt game of Warhammer tomorrow, wherein my Warriors of Chaos will (hopefully) put the iron boots to an Orc & Goblin horde.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I think it's Daemons

Have y'all seen this?

I think it's Chaos Daemons/Daemons of Chaos. What do I have to back this up? August's sealed White Dwarf to my left that has a free booklet full of updates for Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 Daemons.

More on this, when I'm allowed to purchase/open my copy.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

For Chaos!

So I haven't posted in a week or so... As I stated on a previous post: I find the lack of camera disturbing. I'm considering just taking some shitty iPhone pictures just to add some content.

Fear not, however; I paint errday! I just finished a couple Chaos chariots, and two characters for my Warriors of Chaos army. I used them in a gaming event to little success (but I'm generally optimistic for their futures). Right now I'm working on some Chaos Space Marines for Warhammer 40,000 'cause I'm stoked on that.

I've written a lot on 40k lo this last month, but today I realized that the excitement I feel for this game is akin to "coming home" again. It's been four, 40kless, years and I'm excited to be excited for it again.

On the 15th I went to a monthly game day held by a local gaming club ("CHOP!" is their name), and had a blast with my Warriors of Chaos. I'm hoping to have my Chaos Space Marines ready for August 12th, which is their next games day. They're running a Warhammer tournament in a couple months too, that I'm planning on taking time off for. Once the date is secured, and my time off is guaranteed, I'll do a tournament journal like I've always wanted to. I'll most-likely use my Warriors of Chaos.

Whelp! That's it for now. I'll hopefully have something for you on Friday. I'll try and score some photos somehow, and the Internet can see what I've been working on.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Happy 4th - er, 6th of July!

Nothing much to report. Man, it really sucks not having a camera. At least when I had a camera and there was nothing going on, I could snap some pics of what's going on on my paint table. Trust me; I'm painting a lot.

I took a break from my current paint schedule to celebrate the 4th of July, nerd-style. Now you may be asking why a Canadian is celebrating Independence Day. Well, what if this Canadian is also an American? Don't that just blow yer mind?

I celebrated by sticking a tiny American flag on my paint desk, got all my unpainted Flames of War Americans and went to town. I pretty much just finished a platoon and a half, but that's better than a pointed stick in the eye (or living a day longer under the rule of the tyrant King George III). Oh, I also drank about 130cl of beer from Pike Brewing, and Rogue Ales.

All-in-all a good Independence Day. Now I go back to the hum-drum painting of Warriors of Chaos in preparation for a gaming day on the 15th. After that it's back to the Eldar grind and then hopefully some Saga, and more FoW before the next Independence Day. I've been working on that army since America was 230, and I'd like to get it done before America turns 237...


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

40k 6th Edition's Wall of Text (Oh, and a Review)

Finally, the long-awaited opinion piece on Warhammer 40,000. I know you all sit with baited breath, hoping that the critiques I sling like shuriken out of a catapult match yours if only because the enjoyment of our glorious pastime is made all the sweeter knowing that a rad dude such as myself can finally put word to that which you've known all along.

However, I realize that not everyone has the luxury of time that I have, so to keep it short and concise, I'm going to tell you (once again, I believe) that I enjoyed the game I played of 6th edition, and from reading the rulebook, it looks like it's going to be a good edition to play games in. This is coming from a gamer, whose last favorite edition was 2nd, and has played the other editions of 40k simply to stay in vogue.* To keep this article organized, I'm going to tell you what I liked, and what I didn't, then I'll go into some detail about the changes, and the book, itself, so that if you're on the fence you can at least begin to judge for yourself whether this edition is for you, or you're going to pass.

What Carmin Liked:
As I said in a previous post, I miss the theme and character that once seeped out of the walls of this game. 3rd edition did a lot to clean up the game and make larger games run smoother, but what it lacked was the character that made 40k so enviable. Granted, the success of 40k means that it'll always be somewhat enviable. 2nd edition 40k had its copycats, and so did 3rd edition. This edition has tried to keep the flow of the post-2nd edition ruleset, while injecting some of the character from previous editions. This seems to be the track on which Games Workshop is running their train. While Warhammer has never really had as big a jump from one ruleset to another the way 40k has, 8th edition still is a newer ruleset with older bits tossed in. This placates me.

So what is this character I talk about? Let's start with characters: Characters are defined as anything from a sergeant or exarch all the way up to Mephiston. They have a few special rules which make them more than just dudes with higher numbers on their profile. Now they can declare challenges against one another (and intercept challenges from enemies), they can target specific models out of an enemy unit in the shooting phase or during an assault if they're particularly skilled, and they can cast psychic powers if they're so gifted.

Ah, psychic powers, how I've missed you. I loved the psychic phase from 2nd edition, and while it's not back in 6th, psychic powers have been designed to fit into the ruleset as is, rather than jammed in there awkwardly. I have to hand it to the GW design team on this one. When I first heard that there wasn't to be a psychic phase in the game, I was a little disappointed, but after having read the rules for psychic powers, I'm more appreciative of the person or people responsible for this iteration. Your psykers can cast powers just like they have since 3rd edition, which is during their normal activation, except that now certain powers can only be cast during specific phases during the model's activation. Blessings and Maledictions can only be cast at the beginning of the Movement Phase while Witchfire spells can only be cast during the shooting phase, etc.

The coolest part of this change is the way psychic powers are chosen and cast. You choose them the same way one would choose magic spells in Warhammer: roll on a chart, or draw a card (if you have the cards). You can substitute one power for the signature power (I forget if that's the name for the type of power, or if I'm just stealing that from Warhammer's spell lists. I don't have an open rulebook in front of me) which is separate from the other 6 powers of that discipline. You get one power for each Mastery Level you possess. Most psykers only have Mastery 1, but certain other ones have higher Masteries. These Mastery Levels also dictate how many "psychic points" (again, unsure if this is the terminology) you get per turn which can be used to cast powers. Most powers have a Mastery of 1, while others have 2. I don't think any have 3 or higher, but I wouldn't rule these out for future supplements (Ooo! Can you imagine how cool a Storm of Magic-type supplement for 40k would be?). After you've spent the points to cast a power, you make a psychic test based on your Leadership. On a double 1, or a double 6 you attract the ire of warp daemons and you lose a wound instantly with no saves of any kind. If you rolled a double 1, though, it still goes off. The only thing your opponent can do is to "deny the witch" with a single d6 in order to nullify any power directed at her troops. If the targeted player rolls a 6, then the power is nullified.

Characters also get rolls on what's called Warlord Charts. There are three: Strategic, Personal, and Command. You roll on these charts and they give your general a little something extra to use in the game, and can be a great way to lend a narrative to your games. 

Adding to the character of the game are a few little things such as removing models from the front of a unit/squad, making it so that if one model in a unit moves, the other models don't necessarily count as moving like in previous editions (now a model doesn't count as moving unless it actually moves, regardless what its buddies do), and adding the Overwatch and Snap Fire rules.

Now the "Overwatch" rule is a bit of a misnomer. Unlike 2nd edition, you're not really waiting for an enemy to do something, necessarily, it's more of a reaction to take down a charging enemy. If an enemy moves into assault with you, each member of a squad that doesn't use a blast or template (flamers still can overwatch, though) can make a roll to hit on a 6, regardless of the firer's Ballistic Skill (BS). They then roll to wound and save as normal. These shots don't cause panic or morale, or count towards the combat results, but they do even the playing field somewhat. Snap Fire doesn't necessarily make the game more characterful, so I'll talk about it in a different section.

Image courtesy of the Total Wargamer Blog

The change to vehicles is a much-welcome one in my games. Now vehicles are easier to take out because they effectively have wounds just like in the pre-Vehicle Manual Rogue Trader game. Glancing Hits just take off a hull point, while Penetrating Hits take off a hull point and give you a roll on the vehicle damage chart (which is more like the 3rd edition vehicle damage chart). Most vehicles have 3 hull points, but smaller ones like Land Speeders have 2, while larger ones like Monoliths have 4. This makes vehicles less hard to kill, which was well-demonstrated in my game where I took out a Rhino on turn 1 with my Wave Serpent (something I couldn't have done with any ease in 5th edition).

Finally, the terrain rules are very similar to Warhammer's wacky terrain rules, which I can't get enough of. A lot of gamers have expressed a dislike to these rules, and, though it may be cruel of me to say, that makes me like them even more. They just go to enforce that miniatures gaming isn't chess, and (in my opinion) shouldn't be. Even the best-laid plans can fall victim to the alien worlds we fight on. In my game there were a bunch of forests on the table, each one did something different, such as provide +1 to the cover save, or try and suck out the brain of my Striking Scorpion with the hopes of him killing off the other members of the squad in his brainwashed death throes. Even the objectives you need to capture aren't a sure bet. They can do anything from provide you with a shield generator, to explode on you!

Overall, the game is more thematic. There are even text boxes on certain pages labelled: "Forging a Narrative," which give you meta-gaming ways to add back story to your games.

What Carmin Didn't Like:
I think everything I wanted to change but didn't was expressed in a previous post, so I'll try and be succinct here. I would've liked the army composition chart gone. If you want to hear why, you can read this post. However, a friend told me his opinion, which is that the Force Organization chart actually keeps some armies in check, such as Orks, and Imperial Guard who can buy Fast Attack and Heavy Support choices inexpensively (relatively). Allowing the Orks only three choices for Fast Attack, for instance, forces them to choose what to bring, rather than just being somewhat of a smorgasbord.

I would also have liked to see movement rates brought back. I don't think it's so hard to have Eldar move 5 and Space Marines move 4 again. I don't necessarily think the current system is stupid, it's just that I like movement values better.

Rules Changes:
I've already gone over some of the rules changes in the preceding novel-sized write-up, but I'll summarize some other rules that are new.

Snap Fire is a catch-all word for situations where you can't fire with any great accuracy, and thus are relegated to hitting on a 6 (regardless of the firer's BS). Situations where this could arise, would be firing on Overwatch (as I described earlier), and if you have a heavy weapon that moved. That's right, heavy weapons can move and fire, provided it doesn't use a blast or flame template.

Wound allocation is also a big change, and one that was confusing to read. It's definitely something that you need to try out on the battlefield in the heat of the moment. Reading them, I was simultaneously confused, and skeptical about them. Yet they work. Give 'em a try.

Allies are back! There are three stages of ally: Battle Brother (where they're as good as your main army's units except they can't enter each others transports); Allies of Convenience (they act as separate armies fighting the same enemy); and Desperate Allies (they get no benefit from each other and need to roll animosity if they're within 6" of each other). Allies also have their own force organization chart that's separate from the main army's one. The ally's chart makes an HQ and a Troop squad compulsory, but beyond that will let you take 1 Elite, 1 Fast Attack, 1 Heavy Support, and 1 additional Troop.

There are also a myriad of other rules changes that are smaller than the ones I've mentioned (and thus I can't recall them right now). They are also legion! More rules have changed in this edition than since the 2nd/3rd switch. Some of note: Vehicles ramming, Tank Shock's less powerful, Jump Pack units get impact hits, no more kill points in missions (thank the Emperor!), more missions (thank the Emperor!), and flyer rules (that I have not read yet, but the general consensus is that they're good).

Oh, and did I forget to mention that the following have returned to the 41st Millennium:
Zoats, Slann, Imperial Beastmen, and Squats.

That's right... Squats... And they're not called Demiurg, they're called Squats.

You won't see any pictures of them, but they're there in the Appendix under Abhumans. YES!

What Else is in the Book?
If you're wondering if $90CDN is worth it for the book, I can only say that it's really up to you. Like a lot of Games Workshop's stuff the value has to be discerned by the hobbyist. I found it worth it to get the rules now and play now, but it could easily have been not worth it. It's full-color, and hard-backed with a bookmark ribbon. Like GW's other products it is high-quality, but when compared to a book like Paizo's Pathfinder Core Rules ($54.99CDN) or Fantasy Flight Games' Black Crusade RPG Rulebook ($64.99CDN), or even Flames of War's Rulebook ($62.99CDN) it's expensive. It's got itself ~440 pages, but so do these other books.

You won't see me join the "GW is a rip-off" bandwagon, because I'm an adult, and can learn to manage my hobbies like a responsible grown up, but be prepared to hear a lot of that, because many gamers aren't as mature as I am.

After the rules, you are given a very comprehensive background section (which I've yet to read, but it looks like it goes into some great detail), complete with pull out panorama paintings. There's a miniatures gallery, and a hobby section that's very basic (but remember, this is a rulebook). There's a "Gaming" section that gives you some alternate, narrative, missions to play (think historical re-fights), as well as advice on campaign and tournament gaming. Finally there's an appendix which goes into some esoteric knowledge of the 41st Millennium such as how to field dress a lasgun wound, and the aforementioned info on abhumans.

Anyway, I hope this was of some help. If you've still got some questions but don't have the book, or anywhere to ask them without flame wars, please post in the comments below, and I'll try and answer them. I'm one chapter away from finishing the rules, and then I'm going to tackle the other sections of the book (even though I've read the background to the universe more than one should over the course of 16 years).


*I'm being somewhat glib. I don't want it to seem like I didn't enjoy my sojourns into this universe. I've had some immensely good times with 40k from 3rd edition to 4th edition, and bonded with many a friend over 25mm round bases during that time. But all along my heart did belong to 2nd edition despite it's crummy close combat rules and skewed method of choosing wargear. I definitely need to play more than just one game of 6th edition, but already it looks like I might finally be able to make peace with the way 40k is and is going to be (only 14 years later, huh?).

Saturday, June 30, 2012

6th Edition in 6 Seconds

Played my first game of 6th edition Warhammer 40,000. 1,250pts vs. an Ultramarines player. We both stumbled through the rules and (most importantly) had a blast!

The rules didn't change everything that I wanted them too, but then again, I don't have Games Workshop on Google+ so there's no way for them to have known what I wanted. I'm going to do a full review for Monday's post. I hate to keep you all waiting that long, but that's life. Go out and play! And if you can't do that, then go out and watch people play.

Just take others' opinions with a grain of salt, because mine is the best...


P.S. If you're really dying to know what I think, the short answer is that I really liked it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More to Say on Four-ty-kay

So yeah, this post is a day late. So sue me. Well guess what? You can't! Anyway, I spent two hours yesterday with a friend trying to hook up my XBox to the internet, and then my Monday night Pathfinder game happened, so there wasn't much time to do any writing that day (not to mention that Sunday I got inexplicably sick and just sat in bed reading 2000AD).

So what's on the docket today? Not much; just wanted to wax speculation-wise on the 6th edition of Warhammer 40,000, which I am very excited and hopeful for. Now, for the sake of this post, I'm going to assume that these are true (or mostly true).*

Not exactly the changes I wanted to see, but upon first glance it looks like it addresses some of the problems I had with 40k 5th edition. Primarily, I disliked the overall philosophy of 5th edition, that of the tournament-centric attitude the game took. Granted, Warmachine/Hordes does this, but they do it well. I think that Games Workshop's creative team are too wacky (in a good way), and too entrenched in an older design philosophy to adhere to a tournament-centric attitude as close as they wanted to. 40k has too many options, and too many "if this, then this" conditions to be tournament-centric. Now listen! I say this as a good thing. Tournament-centric games are great (see: Warmachine/Hordes), and I'm not saying that GW games can't make entertaining tournament games, but I think the best place for games with the Warhammer moniker is at home, or in a games shop for casual and campaign play. This is where the game came from, and unless they want to do a larger overhaul than they've ever done (came close with 3rd edition), it should remain this way.

This is a pretty personal complaint, though, and there are many gamers out there who would vehemently disagree with me. I'm a big boy, I can agree to disagree. It's also apparent that I'm a casual tournament attendee at best. I mostly play campaigns, or one-off games with my friends. I'm not opposed to tournaments at all, but they do bring out a competitiveness that I don't necessarily crave in wargaming. 5th edition did not contain enough "fun" that I want to see happen on a gaming table. What do I mean by "fun?" Well, look at 8th edition Warhammer: wizards blast each other with spells just as likely to destroy them as their enemies, forests and jungles come alive to attack any souls who dare enter their boundaries, and rivers run with magically-imbued blood! That sounds great! That sounds like a game I want to play. It paints a picture (a bloody, John Blanche-y picture) of a cataclysmic battle in the Warhammer World. It brings me into the action, and feels less like a game, and more like I'm actually commanding an army on the tabletop. I would like to see more of this in 40k. Right now, 40k seems very gamey (and not in the gross meat way). I feel like I'm standing at one end of a gaming table rolling dice and moving plastic soldiers. I want to feel like I'm an Autarch, ordering troops around a battlefield.

Minor problems I've had with 5th edition had to do with vehicles, psychic powers, and force organization. Vehicles always gave me a headache because in this edition most vehicles' resilliance was disproportionate to their points value. This was a general thing, I think, but was most noticable within the Space Marine armies. These jerks had 35 point Rhinos that could take as many glancing hits as there were turns and remain functional. Immobilized? Just roll a 6 and you're good! Did your Stormraven move its max move? Don't sweat it, you can still fire your big gun. Despite the already heady power of the Space Marine vehicles, they broke every damn rule in the vehicle section.

Since 2nd edition, psychic powers have always been boring. They've been glorified abilities that present only a minor setback when they fail to be cast. Sure you might lose your psyker to some brain daemon, but there were so many countermeasures (psychic hoods, etc) that it really never became an issue. Coupled with most psyker's leadership values being in the 10s, it really wasn't all that dangerous. Some of them were super-useful, some not so useful, all rather dull. I would've liked to see the return of the psychic phase with a mechanic similar (if not exactly the same) as Warhammer's magic phase. It's exciting, risky, and devastating.

Force Organization was, at the time of 3rd edition, pretty unique. I hadn't seen anything like it in any other wargame. Warzone came close, but it still wasn't as robust as 3rd edition's system. I actually liked it at the time, and liked how each set of missions required a different Force Organization Chart. Yet, as the editions wore on I started to see the cracks in the system that apparently always existed, but had been covered up by a shiny veneer of newness. I much prefer a percentage system like 40k used to have and Warhammer went back to. Perhaps it could even look something like this:

HQ - 0-25%
Elites - 0-50%
Troops - 25%+
Fast Attack - 0-25%
Heavy Support 0-25%

That's just off the top of my head. But here's the difference. In a 1500pt game right now, I can take three Land Raiders with little problem. Sure it's ~50% of my points cost, but who cares? Vehicles rule! Under my proposed percentage system, to have 3 Land Raiders you need to be playing 3000pts. An extreme example, yes, but one I've actually seen before (woof!).

So according to this Reddit thingy, which seems to mesh well with the hints in the latest White Dwarf, I don't think I'm going to get my wishes exactly. First off, the Force Organization chart appears to be the same. That's too bad. Next!

Psykers get new psychic disciplines, but no psychic phase. Not exactly what I thought would be the coolest, but I guess psychic powers in 40k aren't as earth-shattering as in Warhammer, so a Warhammer-style system might be out of place in a typical game of 40k. Sill, new disciplines might make the psychic aspect of 40k a little more interesting, which isn't a bad thing at all.

Vehicles also appear to be more vulnerable, which is exactly what I wished for. Hull Points give them wounds, which means that if you're burdened by poor luck (like I often am), you can at least hope to wreck a vehicle by just pounding it with firepower. Flyers also appear to have their own rules, which is good. I still question the need for flyers in a 40k-scale game, but I don't stay up all night thinking of ways to complain about them (and the related doom of 40k) at my FLGS, so I'm ambivalent. So long as they work, I'm okay with them.

As for the "fun" of the game, wacky terrain is a good start. So are the rules for having a Warlord. These help make the game more characterful, and less like you're pushing around 28mm 3D stat lines with weapons. Of course, I don't know how any of these actually work, nor have I tried them out in a game yet, so I can only speculate.

Well, that's all the speculative energy I have at the moment. I hope you enjoyed (or at least finished reading) this lengthy post with (yet again) no pictures. I'll have more to say next Monday when I've actually played a couple games of this edition and can give a more in-depth view. Until then...


* Rumors should always be taken with a grain of salt... Gaming rumors doubly-so.

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's D&D!

Dungeons & Dragons Next! It's happening; you can't stop it. They put it out for a public play-test; you can't stop that, either. So what is it? What's it doing here? And why should you care?

Well, if you're not a fan of D&D, or not a role-player, that last question is pretty simple. Just stop reading this post and pop-back on Monday when I talk more about 6th edition 40K. For those of you that are D&D/RPG fans (or you just like semi-literate ramblings), keep reading.

DISCLAIMER: Even though D&D Next is an open play test, play testers still had to click on some non-disclosure thingy. I don't know what the legality of me posting stuff on here, so I'm going to try and keep it pretty vague. I guess I could wade through the EULA or NDA or whatever it was that I clicked "Agree" to, but as you know, things like those are long. I may hungrily eat-up gaming rulebooks like they're Stephen King novels, but when it comes to legalese, I blank out. Therefore, I'm not going to read it, and just be vague. If the Hasbro/WotC black helicopters land in my front yard, I'll meet them at the door, cigarette dangling from my mouth, and say: "what took ya so long?"

If you can look closely, you can see a top-secret watermark.
It's called D&D Next. Why? I dunno. I think they're like me, and are sick of the edition wars people bother everyone with on the Internet and in game shops. Perhaps they're building it so that editions, themselves, become obsolete. Perhaps they're tapping into a gaming zen that the industry has been dreaming about since Gygax and Arneson emerged from the depths of Castle Greyhawk. Perhaps they're creating a game so perfect, and representative of the geist of role-playing that any product out there is compatible with D&D! Or perhaps it's a placeholder.

So what's changed? A lot, and a little. A lot, in that it's not 4th edition anymore, not even close. It's sad really; I thought 4th edition was an extremely elegant system, and the designers of it should all win awards, but I could see how it wouldn't be the cup of tea that D&Ders pour into vials to simulate potions of clarity. Instead, one could say that little has changed, because of the similarities this game has to BD&D and AD&D. They definitely turned back the clock and made the game very simple: no attacks of opportunity (AoO), no flanking bonuses, and the saving throws are all just ability checks. In fact, abilities play a bigger role in this version than in any version since BD&D. If you want to "use rope" there's no more "use rope" skill, instead you make a Dexterity (DEX) check. If you want to search a room, make a Wisdom (WIS) check, and add any bonuses you have for Perception. Combat had a neat little trick to make up for the lack of flanking: advantage and disadvantage. If you were in a situation where you have an advantage you roll 2d20 and choose the best; if you're in a situation where you might receive a disadvantage you roll 2d20 and select the lowest... Elegant!

I actually like this system for a couple reasons, the first being its simplicity. I've been playing a lot of Basic D&D lately, and I've really come to see the appeal of simple role-playing systems. You roll dice, you add/subtract modifiers, and you compare them to target numbers to work out success/failure. Right now, D&D Next does this very elegantly, and gives you something more to do than just hack and slash, though not to the extent that D&D4 did. There are some at-will type abilities going on here, but the Vancian system is back (Magic Missile is a 0-level spell, which means you can use it as much as you want), which has a love/hate situation with me.

The idea for D&D Next is that it can be expanded upon by adding modules, so that the game gets more complex. You want combat with miniatures on a battle grid? Just add those rules on. You want skills and feats? Go ahead. It's almost as if they're taking a beefed-up BD&D (but with races being separate from classes), and letting you spice it to taste to make it AD&D. For instance there were no skills but there were some skill-like abilities that certain classes possessed. The Clerics could recall lore about religion (Knowledge (Religion)), and the Rogue could find and disarm traps (Disable Device), and that was part of its class, rather than a skill that the character invested in.

This reminds me, actually, of the article I wrote on Dungeon World, where I talked about what makes a role-playing game "old school;" a solid division of class roles. D&D3 and Pathfinder can have characters branch off in different paths, almost making them homogeneous. BD&D, D&D4, and D&D Next have very specific roles for the characters: Rogues open things, and disable them, Fighters bash, Clerics heal, and Wizards blast. Some might think of this as constricting, and it might be, but it's also what the game used to be and where it came from. It appears that it might be going this way again.

Now, of course, the play test was just that: a play test. Who knows where it will go from here, or which parts of this play test we were supposed to play test. Perhaps they're only taking criticism on the characters, or the combat system, or perhaps everything in it. I have to say, one thing I thought was pretty underwhelming was the module they supplied to play test in: The Caves of Chaos. Older gamers may remember this as the main part of B2: Keep on the Borderlands, which I find a very hack-and-slash adventure where you pretty much work your way through the Monster Manual. I do appreciate that it was pretty much B2 word-for-word but with the updated monster stats.*

The aforementioned B2.
Overall, I liked it, and I'd like to see where it's going. I'm really loving Pathfinder right now, but I have to admit that I'm missing the D&D brand. This play test had classic races like Hill and Mountain Dwarfs, and Pelor and Moradin, and all that good D&D IP. I think a definite defining factor on my complete fandom for this edition is if they re-do the Greyhawk setting (I'm also a huge fan of Dark Sun, but Athas had its moment in D&D4).

I should also mention (before signing off) that if you want to contribute to the D&D Next play test, you should go here and sign up!


* I wanted to just mention that combats are lightning-quick in D&D Next. One complaint I have with D&D4 is that the combats are really long. Pathfinder has quick combats (and thus, so did D&D3) and I like that. I just didn't know where to mention this fact in the review.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

One Edition Beyond

So it's no surprise that the new edition of Warhammer 40,000 (40K) is coming out next week, and will be announced this Saturday. My game shop has already started taking pre-orders, and when the new issue of White Dwarf arrives sometime in the next couple days I will make the hard decision on whether I should get a regular book for $90, or a collector's edition book for $158.50. Not exactly Sophie's Choice.

These pictures are to break-up my wall of text.
So what are the hopes? What's to be said? Well, we've all heard the rumors, but what are rumors, right? Sometimes they're true, and sometimes they're not. That's sorta the definition of rumors. However, I can tell you my hopes, and you can tell me I'm wrong, because when it comes to 40K I don't dance with the best of them.

Now don't get me wrong, I love 40K; I always have. It's also the game I probably have played the most of in my lifetime, but the amount of games I've played of 5th edition have been countable on two hands. I guess what I'm getting at is that I'm not a competitive player. I don't care about the scene's "meta" (a silly term used to describe trends, and tactics, amongst the players of a given area instead of anything involving the game itself. For instance, do all Vancouver gamers use lots of tanks? That would change Vancouver player's tactics), and I don't care about what might make the game unbalanced insofar as it's still fun. And 5th edition ain't fun.

Spanish, I reckon.
Well, for me it ain't fun. The reasons are varied, but they come down to a few factors. First, the game just isn't as fun as others out there. It's been practically the same since '98, except that they've just kept heaping on new rules to address problems that could've been fixed other ways. Kill Points and objectives, for instance, were ways the design studio attempted to address the "kill 'em all" attitude of missions, but instead just created systems that focused on the meta game. That's really what's become of 40K since 3rd edition, is that the game has felt more and more like a "game" and less and less like a sci-fi conflict. Why should I take that tiny neon green flag sitting in the flat part of the table? 'Cause you gotta. Why is this psychic power just tacked onto a commander who is armed with a crummy gun? 'Cause psychic powers are glorified weapons with very little risk of malfunctioning. 

Are those dice holders?
Now, it wouldn't be right for me to just sit here and gripe, so I thought I'd throw in some ways this could be fixed, or if I like a particular rumor, I might harp on that rumor and hope it comes true. 

First way to fix the "fun" aspect of the game is to make it feel more like a sci-fi conflict and less like I'm actually moving 28mm figures around a table (I already know I'm doing this, I don't need a $90 book to  show me). Make missions an important part of the game. one thing 3rd edition did well was the plethora of missions in the back of the book. Most people just played the damned Standard Missions anyway, but at least I could've played a breakthrough if I wanted to.

Amp up the psychic powers. Make them a random element in the game, and I don't just mean an unreliable part of the game, but make them exciting. Warhammer's magic phase is exciting; Joe Schmoe the Librarian casting Psychic Bolt on a Ld of 10 isn't. He's gonna make it. Give me some powers I can build tactics around, and may backfire, not just a fancy upgrade.

Vehicles being powerful have put me off of 5th edition as well. Sure they can be taken out in one hit, but when a Space Marine Rhino only costs 35 points, and is a movable bunker they get irritating. Vehicles should have a presence, many armies use them (I imagine this won't change 38,978 years into the future), but when one army in the game has access to so many of them, for such an inexpensive price, I don't know... Besides, Space Marines come equipped with ways to deal with vehicles, while every other army has to pay extra for the vehicle-killing grenades. My Dire Avengers don't stand a chance against a Rhino, and Marines are only marginally more in points cost and can take one out, no problem.

Holy crap! Psychic cards!
Solution? Ramp up the cost of vehicles or come up with a new system that deals with their damage. The current one consists of rolling on a (silly) chart until you get something good. Perhaps give vehicles a ton of wounds, and have every wound be a critical hit on a roll of a 6. Reference a critical hit chart and voila! You have some character added to the game for the addition of one extra step. No matter whether you roll a critical or not, the vehicle is still going to die (if it's hit enough), but not for a while as it could potentially have 10 or more hit points. 

The Codex Creep is a phenomenon whereby each codex produced is more powerful than the one before it. For years I decried this crackpot theory, and chalked it up to the excitement one felt at the new book, and just general strange behaviour gamers have around Games Workshop products. However, lately I've noticed such a scene arising. It almost seems like each new codex for 40K follows a different philosophy in games design. It's very patchwork quilty and irritating. Never mind that there are still codices that have yet to see an update (which of course will be meet with complaints aimed at the fact that they have to buy a new codex to replace the one that sucked and they hated using in the first place).

Solutionio! Step over to the Warhammer side of the offices and peep what they're doing with the army books. With the exception of the Ogre Kingdoms book being pretty good, and the Tomb Kings book being more challenging to play with, all the army books so far released are ace! They're balanced, they're well-written, and they're cohesive as a whole, while still retaining individuality. If 40K codices received the attention that Warhammer ones do, it'll be a solid game, indeed.

Oh! And bring back movement values, for Chrissake! I'm not a moron. I can remember that Eldar move 5" and Space Marines move 4".

So that's it. Later today I'll hopefully have a copy of the White Dwarf in my meaty paws, so I'll be able to talk at the Internet more about this game. Prepare yourselves for Friday's update when I'll have something to say about a D&D play test (once I read over what I can and can't mention about it). Also, once I get a new camera (don't hold your breath) I'll start posting pictures of my models again. Won't that be lovely?