Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Liyla and the Shadows of War - human impact and the purpose of wargames

Some time ago, I went to a book event in London where Paul Mason was interviewing Molly Crabapple about her book Drawing Blood. Paul was also promoting his book on Post-Capitalism. I found the experience a little surreal, as I usually attend Sci-fi and Fantasy book launches, and the audience was very much a mix of social activists and artists.

When talking to Paul after the event, I mentioned how at times Molly had mentioned "the artists here will know..." or "the activists here..." and that how my brain had got to thinking that as probably the sole wargamer in attendance, it was rather unlikely that there'd be a reference to "the wargamers in the room".

Paul said something that will stick with me for a long while.

"I haven't wanted to wargame since the last time I went to Gaza."

So, it turned out that Paul knows Richard Barbrook, who is a member of Class Wargames. (My wargaming readers might recognise one of their other players - the name Mark Copplestone jumped out at me!) They use wargaming as tool for teaching about their political beliefs and explore games to further their understanding of the world.

I was reminded of this more recently, when I spotted on twitter a bit of a kerfuffle about the computer game Liyla and the Shadows of War. In short, Apple originally refused to publish it as a game on the grounds that it was political, but did reverse this decision on appeal, and you can now download it here. (Android had no such problems and it's available on that platform here.)

While it's a computer game, there is very clearly a purpose and a message to it as well. It is very much from the perspective of civilians caught up in a modern war. If you stop to think about how easily your character dies if you make a mistake, it can make you stop and think about the reality of what being caught in a modern war as a civilian might be like.

I've also been reading Lost Battles by Philip Sabin recently. Professor Sabin was one of my lecturers when I was in university, and he explores using wargaming from an academic perspective to look at ancient battles where details are scarce or believed inaccurate to get a better understanding of what may have actually happened.

So, I can see the 'value' of wargaming, outside of the fun it can be, in the learning it can bring, either in terms of understanding ancient history, or in helping understand or communicate modern political issues.

And yet.

"I haven't wanted to wargame since the last time I went to Gaza."

I don't play historical or modern games - I'm entirely a sci-fi / fantasy gamer. The fantasy and science fiction games I play are for the tactical challenge or the artistic aspects (particularly world creation). Death and suffering are understandable high stakes or hold an emotional weight that underpin those aspects. But I am starting to consider - are we trivialising these things?

War is innately horrible, and in our games which we play to amuse ourselves, we downplay that, because we are not monsters. We don't dwell on the loss, the gut-wrench of the death of a loved one. Even the 'dark' games are sanitised from the real experience of war, because a real war is not fun.

I don't have an answer to this. It's something I'm still thinking about.

I didn't ask Paul what he saw the last time he went to Gaza. I didn't want to know the answer.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Battle Report: Malifaux, 50SS, Collodi vs Perdita

 During some holiday recently, I spotted a good friend who I've been meaning to play at Malifaux for forever was finally free for a game. He's playing Guild, I'm playing Neverborn, we use Gaining Grounds and we draw the Strategy for controlling table quarters. He confirms Perdita, I'm still using Collodi. With the four schemes above, I pick Hunting Party and Occupy Their Turf because Francisco Ortega looks like a beast and I don't fancy "A Quick Murder" because of that.

I start off with a bunch of push shenanigans because I had a hand of junk, and discarding for pushes seemed like an excellent idea.

The Brutal Effigy and Francisco potter up the board on his side - the models are painted really nicely!

My poor Changeling gets gunned down as I didn't quite understand how the height of cover works. Learning experience!

I push the Mysterious Emissary up and drop a double defensive on it so it can be a pain in the what's-name. My poor Teddy clearly needs some paint!

Teddy comes out to play. The Emissary soldiers on, healing damage through Hazardous Terrain, and getting stitched up by Collodi before finally going down after wasting a lot of the Guild's activations.

But is no match for the guns of the Guild.

Perdita, however, is caught out by quite how stabby Fast Marionettes are, and goes down while Francisco is Slow and I control his remaining activation. Shortly afterwards, Francisco goes down as well!

And yet, I lose badly! Why? Well, Hunting Party required Teddy and the Emissary to go hunt enemy Minions, but instead they got into a slug fest with Perdita and Francisco centre-field. They were able to plink off puppets, or let Granny Ortega do it off on the flank where I never took any photos! And I never made it anywhere near their deployment zone. I was always reacting to the scary Ortegas rather than having a plan to win the game.

So, a game that was great fun, and a massive reminder to me to play the mission if I want to win...

Monday, 6 June 2016

WarhammerFest: Cool stuff I saw, and summary

Well, WarhammerFest is pretty far in the past now. I should stop waffling on about it and finish up using the photos I took there.

This is a big Forge World display board - it's not necessarily "new" as such - sections of it are from the old attack on Calth board they did for the last event.

I love these civilian vehicle conversions. They're really characterful and the sort of thing I adore as I feel they add depth to the setting..

All in all, I really enjoyed WarhammerFest. It was an excellent use of a weekend, and I got to catch up with many awesome people I like and have time for. Staying on site was an excellent choice. I felt like I was less organised with what I wanted to do this year - I missed a couple of demonstration pods and similar I wanted to at least have a look at.

Glamour shot of shipping crates. I may be a little excited about GW's latest shipping container option, but need to assemble and paint some more stuff before I'm allowed to get them. :)

I mean, who doesn't love a good shipping container?

This was a board from the Warhammer World team, using some of their models and armies.

This excellent Coteaz is painted by James Karch.

So with that, I'll sign off on WarhammerFest until the next one.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

WarhammerFest: Licensing Seminar - Computer Game Demos!

The WarhammerFest Licensing Seminars didn't seem quite as busy as the Forge World ones, which I didn't quite get, as there's a lot of really awesome computer games due soon.

First up is Eternal Crusade, a massive online third person shooter. It's currently on Steam early access, and the idea is that they'll run campaigns with you fighting for your faction to gain territory.

Released between me seeing this seminar and actually writing it up, we have Total War: Warhammer. With it being so close to release, we got to see a lot more of it!

It's pretty much everything you'd expect from a Total War game. It's based in the Old World, with the different races each having their own objectives in the campaign.

You also get monsters, flyers and spell casting.

During the FAQ, it was mentioned that downloadable expansions are intended to eventually deliver all the Warhammer races from 8th edition.

As a fan of old stuff, this was the point I lost my mind a little bit...

They were mostly showing concept art, as I don't think they'd announced that the Drachenfels expansion was coming at this point.

They apparently spent the time to go through all the source material on Drachenfels, both from the novel and mentions elsewhere, like the WFRP supplement.

It's a running around and stabbing Skaven game, but the nod to the old lore is really nice.

Blah, blah, some new weapons, stuff that you'd be interested in if you'd played the game already and weren't just freaking out over the idea of the Drachenfels lore being used again.

Inquisitor: Martyr is an action RPG that is being worked on. Here's a baddie.

They're intending for it to be a massive open world style game.

There were a lot of pictures and not much description of the game, but they did mention that the example character running around was what a late game Inquisitor would look like, and you'd start off much smaller.

There was some cool stuff about being able to use plasma guns to shoot through weak cover and stuff like that though!

Here's a different Inquisitor game! Eisenhorn: Xenos is going to be a pretty close rendition of the book, so it will be pretty linear, but you'll have the option to vary from the book in small ways at times.

There was then a presentation of Dark Future: Blood Red States. They asked us very nicely not to take photos of the presentation, which mostly consisted of some renders of some of the cars at a very early stage. It's still pre-Alpha.

It looks like they're staying true to the background - Elvis as a Bounty Hunter, Nelson Mandela as the pope. It's quite an irreverent alternate history. Apparently James Swallow will be helping with the background writing.

You'll see all the traditional stuff - machine guns, mines, ramming. They're using the Unreal Engine. You don't drive the cars yourself, but you're an agency boss giving orders to your drivers. It'll be a real time game where you pause to give orders. It'll be out around the end of the year.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Bank Holiday Assembly Blitz

So, I took advantage of the Bank Holiday to settle down to some serious assembly. And yes, I did work on more than four figures, but there's a bunch of other ones that are 'nearly done' so will have to wait for another post.

First up are some models from the Circle of Chaos Kickstarter. These arrived recently, and I'm trying to get things assembled and undercoated ready for paint as they come in now, rather than leaving them in boxes forever.

The long necked chap will be added to my slowly growing Chaos force, probably just as a rank and file warrior. This barbarian type will also be joining some thugs or marauders, depending on what else I find to go with him.

This weird chap, however, I have no real idea what to do with. I'll probably just keep him as a random model for use in AoS, or get inspired randomly at some point.

Another Arco Flagellant also got finished off. He'll join the pile of "prospective Inquisitorial Warband members" until I get some Inquisitors done and inspired for colour schemes...

Also coming up on the assembly table are finally getting the first five of the Chaos Forsaken ready for paint, a couple of strange wizards for a very particular Age of Sigmar hobby project, and another Chaos Warrior from a small manufacturer. Oh, and the rest of the Circle of Chaos figures, of course! It may be a while before you see them, as I have a few other blog post ideas in my head as well, but they'll be getting worked on while you see the last of the WarhammerFest content, and a few other musings...

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

WarhammerFest: Specialist Games - Blood Bowl, Lord of the Rings and Adeptus Titanicus

The news is all over the Internet, and the Blood Bowl Facebook page is definitely a thing. WarhammerFest (and later the Blood Bowl tournament at Warhammer World) had a load of information about what's coming for Blood Bowl.

There was tons of cool stuff on display. This was the beautifully modelled Orc board and dug out. They made up the full model, then took an image of that to use as the board - it wasn't computer generated!

These fancy templates should reassure old hands that not much is going to change rules wise. Questions asked of the guys working ont has also indicated that they're taking an "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to much of the rules.

Here's a mock up of the final pitch - with an Orc board on one side and a human pitch on the other. There's a potential in the future for more themed boards if there appears to be interest.

Dice, cards, rulebook! The quality of all this stuff is already looking pretty amazing.

The stat cards will look pretty familiar to anyone who's played the game before.

Some people were freaking out a little at the first picture of the board and thought it didn't have squares - it does, but they're subtle - and obviously, the physical board they took the pictures from didn't have the markings. (This picture also shows the human board side.)

Again, the dug outs look familiar to those who played the last version of Blood Bowl. It's not going to be out a while yet, but it's pretty exciting already!

In other news, it looks like after Blood Bowl, we'll be getting Adeptus Titanicus. Going back to the original game set in the Horus Heresy, they've already taken the CAD for the Warlord and scaled it down - and the guy working on stuff like the Death Roller is also working on titans, I'm guessing the Reaver and Warhound, which pre-date Forge World doing CAD.

The scale is also likely to change slightly - probably to around 8mm. This is mostly on the grounds of looking at a few different scales and what titans look most awesome in...

This is a way out - it's after Blood Bowl, probably by at least a year - I'd say back end of 2017 is optimistic, possibly a 2018 release.

Also being shown at Warhammer Fest was some new Lord of the Rings stuff. That isn't really my thing, but I thought I'd show this "Fall of the Necromancer" table - I think it was actually borrowed from someone.

There's definitely a whole lot more coming for Lord of the Rings - there's various pictures of the new resin models doing the rounds, and there's also been a bunch of old metal models re-released as well.