Thursday 27 September 2012

Shameless profiteering

It seems that a lovely gentleman on the Internet is running a competition to win a copy of the Angron miniature.

It seems that despite him staying in the same hotel as me for Golden Demon, I managed to completely miss him, which is a shame, as he seems like a lovely chap.


Oh, and a few links later I discover its because he was at a pub meet with the Platoon Britannica guys and not eating at the hotel.

Then I go to the Platoon Britannica site and find a photo of me and my wife at a painting day and people asking who we are 'cause they recognised us from other painting days.

Some days, six degrees of separation scares me.

Anyhow, the key thing here was recommending people check out the blog, because that way, I have a chance of winning a very pretty miniature! 

Sunday 23 September 2012

Games Day 2012 - News, Rumours and Information (Part 2 - Morning Forge World Seminar)

For other news and rumours from Games Day, please go here.

Tony started off with the usual introduction stating that he would provide the usual mix of tasters, advance information, truth and outright lies. There was so much stuff to talk about that he entirely skipped the usual adverts for stuff they were selling at this event due to the amount of new stuff.

Warhammer Forge
The next book will be "Battle of Blackfire Pass". It will probably be released next year. It has been slightly delayed due to the focus on other new stuff. The book will focus on Orcs & Goblin, Dwarves, Empire and Monsters.

A picture was shown of the Mourngul - a big half body, large mount and long arms. One of the arms is grabbing a horse as it runs along. This was sculpted by Edgar. The model was also on display somewhere, so if someone hasn't got a picture of this, then the internet has roundly failed.

Steve Whitehead has sculpted some Empire Command models. Edgar has sculpted some Dwarf Command models including a pipe smoker. Tony approves of this, and thinks there should be more pipe smoking models in general. His idea for pipe smoking Marines was shot down by Mr Bligh.

A battle standard bearer from the Goblin command section by Keith was shown off.

And that was it for Fantasy. Apparently there's quite a lot going on in 40K at the moment! (Although there was one new artist there for Warhammer Forge for whom Games Day was her first day. Here's wishing her the best of luck!)

Forgeworld - Warhammer 40K

Imperial Armour, Volume 1, Second Edition: Imperial Guard.
Aiming for Christmas. Imperial Navy is removed from the book and moved to the Imperial Aeronautica entirely. The new book will cover the entire Forgeworld Imperial Guard vehicles range and include updated rules for all of them for 6th edition. Much of the artwork and pictures will be existing ones, but it will provide a single location for everything!

Imperial Armour 12: "Fall of Orpheus".
Necrons, Minotaurs, Death Korps of Kreig.

Models shown:
  • Necron Sentry Pylon - still work in progress, but a much smaller pylon than the current one
  • Necron Tesseract Ark - mock up shown. "Some sort of tank thing"
  • Necron Night Shroud Bomber - mock up shown, will be based on the existing flier plastic kit
There will be a new Lightning Fighter sculpted by Darren, replacing the old one. If you like the old one, buy it now. It will be resin, not plastic as speculated entirely randomly and without any support whatsover by a poster on a forum somewhere.

Horus Heresy Book 1: "Betrayal"

They decided to start with Istvaan III rather than going any earlier.

Models shown:

  • Legion Heavy Support Squads - two squads shown, one with Heavy Bolters and one with Autocannons. Five men with heavy weapons in each squad.
  • Death Guard Relic Contemptor Dreadnought
  • World Eaters Relic Contemptor Dreadnought
Also shown were some Legion specialist models - including one with a hand flamer and another with lightning claws. They also intend to do some legion specific models.

  • Legion Champion
  • Legion Master of Signal

  • Some early work was also shown for some Mechanicum Thallax, which are about Ogryn sized, and Alan Bligh described as "Mechanical Killer Ogryns with Giant Ray Guns". How can that go wrong? This was very early work - the sculpting for a main body and maybe head and that was about it.

    Then came the good stuff. They showed the picture for the Sons of Horus Justaerin Terminators. They were absolutely gorgeous and there were actually involuntary noises from the room, even after all the awesome stuff shown before.

    The bodies will come separately, and will be compatible with the Cataphract arms, but will come with a few of their own special arms, such as a power axe and a Multi-melta arm.

    They are working on a duel model for Ezekyle Abaddon vs Garviel Loken. Loken is not done yet and there was a stand in figure in place for him, hence the focus on Abaddon, who was mostly done.

    Horus Heresy Book 2: "Massacre"

    This will cover the first part of the Istvaan V campaign - but they noted that this was so big that they are going to have to cover it in two books!

    It will have 4 legions in it, and Mechanicum forces. There will be new vehicles and more characters (which is, admittedly, like saying it will have pages, but Tony said it so I wrote it).

    Legions covered will be the Iron Hands Legion, the Night Lords Legion, the Word Bearers Legion and the Salamanders Legion. The other 3 Legions involved won't be in Book 2, but a future one.

    Question and Answer section

    We then moved on to the question and answer session. Rather than cover the questions verbatim, I noted down broad strokes of what was asked, as we're mostly interested in the answers!

    They do exist in the Mechanicum and some Marine Legions. They probably won't be made available to all Legions, but some legions, such as (I believe he said Thousand Sons) are known to have them.

    Custodes & Sisters of Silence?
    They will do them eventually. They know they will need them for Prospero.

    They will do all the Primarchs at least once. Apart from possibly Leman Russ just to wind up the Space Wolves players. He then corrected to say all KNOWN Primarchs. Alan Bligh chipped in to say that where Primarchs significantly change over the course of the Heresy, they would look to do multiple models.

    Was doing the Primarchs scary?
    They were very fussy when doing Angron to make sure he was done right. They were super careful. They had long discussions about every flourish of armour and detail - it took months to do!

    Will you do Mechanicum and the Battle for Mars?
    They can't avoid it! A huge number of things happen over a very short time frame in canon, so it will take a while to cover it all.
    They will not completely mirror the Black Library, but rather focus on the battles, which is where the focus of the models is likely to be.

    Will the Heresy books mean less of other things?
    They are dedicating some people to the Horus Heresy specifically, and are expanding the Design Team. They are still on the look out for more staff to make sure they don't neglect a particular area. They know they would probably have Imperial Armour 12 and / or Black Fire Pass done now if not for the Horus Heresy.

    Obligatory paranoid question about Finecast
    Diplomatic answer saying that they will use the best resins and processes for the job in question, with different resins and techniques for different jobs / types of model. In short, no, they aren't going to move over to Finecast, they're going to continue to do whatever Tony wants as long as they make money.

    What are Forgeworld doing for Xenos?
    Alan stepped in and said that they are focussing on Necrons for Imperial Armour 12. The Necrons turn off a sun in it. Its about an entire sector being under atttack. They want to make sure that each of the Xenos have their own Forgeworld book, but it takes a lot of resource for each and they want to do them properly.
    (Editor's Note: Last year, Tony mentioned that the organic and curved shapes of the Dark Eldar were very hard work to do and took a disproportionate amount of time compared to, say, an Imperial tank).

    They went on to say that they have been working on Horus Heresy for over a year. (Which does mean they outright lied last year when they said there were no plans whatsoever, but that's fine, he does announce he's going to lie at the start of these things. I think a year of them planning with no visible models would have driven the entire internet completely and utterly insane!)

    What about doing more obscure stuff?
    They want Forge World to add depth to what's already there. They don't want to do totally new stuff. There may be things already mentioned in the background that they feel now should have their time in the limelight, but they won't be creating something new whole cloth. (This was a bit of a question side step given the original question covered some pretty specific bits of fluff. Unsure if this was avoiding the question, or covering for a lack of encyclopedic knowledge of that particular bit of obscure background.)

    What about the rest of the Mournival?
    Loken and Abaddon are in the first Horus Heresy book, but it will be possible that they'll look to do the rest at some point.

    Alan pointed out that they will also be adding some other new characters as well as the ones from the novels. They need to do so to address some lopsided areas. They want to take their time over this in order to do it justice.

    Have they discontinued Epic?
    They aren't planning on doing any more in the imminent future. They're at or slightly beyond their capacity already, and they won't add anything new to that range at present.

    Dark Elves for Warhammer Forge?
    Don't hold your breath, but they do intend to do them at some point in the future.

    Bran Redmaw?
    No plans at present. They didn't like the draft model. He's on the schedule but keeps slipping down it due to Other Things. The Space Wolves might get Leman Russ first! Tony then mentioned Mark Wells, the CEO, is a Space Wolves player, so perhaps he'll not do Leman Russ to wind up Mark. If Tony gets fired, this is probably why!

    Imperial Army for Horus Heresy?
    More than possible. They will probably focus on a specific slice of it rather than the wider setting - so they will probably look at specific regiments or warzones.

    After discussions with the Black Library writers, there seems to be agreement that "Stormbird" is more a class of assault lander rather than a specific transport.

    There was then a small diversion where they talked about how they try and work with Black Library to make their works complementary rather than in isolation. There were only a few plagiarism jokes from Alan.

    New Titan variants?
    Tony said that the original idea for Titans was that there were a huge number of variants - not the 3 or 4 which have ended up remaining - the Warhound, Reaver, Warlord and, peripherally, the Emporer class. He would definitely like to do it, but as Epic never managed to expand that far, and Forge World still haven't done the Warlord yet, there's probably still a good way to go.

    Horus Heresy models for Malcador, Grammaticus & Malagast?
    They've discussed this and may do them as event only models, as they don't have much battlefield presence. They think this would probably suit the level of demand and mean that no-one was too badly disadvantaged by not having one if they couldn't make an event.

    Any chance of Mechanicus Knights for Horus Heresy?
    They have their place, but that probably isn't the next book.

    Warhammer - Kislev?
    Possibly, but there's a ton of more major stuff they would want to do first. They hope to do it one day but won't be for a while.

    Daemon Primarchs?
    They will come later. There's a lot in the early phases, so they won't come out for a long while yet.

    Blake is now making terrain full time. He's just done the 4 cityscape boards, and will be working on a Necron board next. He will be using the new hollow cast process they've been using on new terrain pieces.

    Will Horus Heresy use the Gothic Range for space battles?
    Like Epic, unlikely for a good while yet - they need a good excuse.

    The Emperor and Thunder Warriors?
    The Thunder Warriors are not an army and are not key to the time period. They can't keep going back in history, or they'll get to the point where they hit World War II! The Emperor is not unfeasible, as eventually he needs to have a bit of a fight with this Horus chap.

    Can you do a Lascannon and Twin-linked plasma gun Razorback turret?
    "Go talk to Will Hayes. We know its missing."

    And with that, the seminar was over. Hope this is helpful!

    Games Day 2012 - News, Rumours and Information (Part 1 - general information, Chaos Codex)

    Firstly, a quick apology - there are no flashy pictures of swanky models here. My phone was stolen a while ago and I couldn't afford a new one, so I'm using a pretty archaic phone for my pictures.

    What most people actually see at Games Day
    I attended the first Forge World seminar and took notes of that, but for the rest of the day I'm going to rely on my memory. As such, I'll write that stuff up first before I forget, and then cover the stuff where paper is acting as my memory.

    The sales area was much better laid out this year, and there were clear groupings and a separate queue for Forge World. I had pre-ordered the show only models like a sensible person, so avoided the Forge World queue entirely and just picked up the show only Blood Angels captain for the wife to paint. Everything else I can just buy normally at a sensible time and not cart it around a convention for a day. I still don't understand people who buy anything other than limited edition, show only or similar items at Games Day. It makes no sense to me.

    Payment was quick and easy - they had put a lot of time and effort into sorting out last year's problems!

    I saw the new Chaos Codex. I had a chat to Robin as I skimmed over it, but the main things I picked up were;
    • Cult units are back to Elites
    • Cult units are moved to Troops by taking their signature character or a Lord or Sorceror with the right mark
    • Daemon Princes with the right mark does not move Cult units back to troops
    • You can only move units to Troops for your Primary Detachment - you can't do this for allies at all
    • Abaddon moves Chosen to Troops
    • They're moving towards putting Troops choices in a Codex before Elites as that makes things a lot easier layout wise - as you've got to have a HQ and two Troops, it makes sense for them to be first.
    • Weapons and wargear have been split to Ranged Weapons, Melee Weapons, Daemonic Gifts and so on, so that things don't have to be listed over and over in multiple unit entries.
    • There are some unique chaos artefacts which the devs were quite surprised "aren't all over the internet already". I spotted one which was a Scroll, possibly of  Magnus...
    I'm afraid I'm not a Chaos player, and there were people behind me who were, so I stopped at this point and let people check if their current unit builds were utterly ruined by the new Codex (those of you who take two Daemon Princes and all Cult units as Troops are going to have to have a rethink!).

    I had a chat with a few of the studio about how they manage the creative process and meet deadlines. It seems that there has been a swing more towards the miniature designers coming up with cool model ideas and the rules guys coming up with mechanics around it, and less of the rules guys coming up with unit ideas first.

    This apparently happens in cycles - Grey Knights was towards the other end of the spectrum, with some clear holes in what was needed for the army being covered by the rules team first and passed back to the designers. There's no hard and fast rule, though - sometimes someone will have a cool model sculpt half done but not be sure what gun to put on it - so they'll ask the developers what holes there are in the codex. The example given was "Well, this army has enough ranged firepower already, but anti-air is pretty new in 6th edition and we need more units like that".

    They're working with small project teams with one lead developer being in charge of the background, descriptive text and flavour (I was standing too near to Jes and Jervis to use the word "fluff", even now I'm back at the hotel I keep glancing over my shoulder to check I won't get a ticking off). So one person writes up the descriptive text, and a team of people work on the rules to develop them and get them working.

    There's usually two or three cycles between the writers and the editors, who will look out for both typos and clarity of intent. For example, one editor mentioned that one of their first books was in a system they were unfamiliar with - and when they couldn't make head or tail of some of the rules, they realised that they needed to make them much clearer before publication.

    Generally, the studio might be working on around 10-12 large projects between the drafting and publication stage, at various stages in the pipeline. This is bigger releases such as Codexes and other army lists, rather than smaller things like 2 page iPad releases, which aren't tracked quite so heavily. There'll be around the same amount of projects again at the pre drafting / brainstorming stages that haven't got anywhere near the editors yet.

    All in all, they do know where there are big gaps in the older Codexes - Sisters of Battle & Black Templars, for example - but without a good range of inspiration, both in terms of models and rules - they won't progress. They try and avoid early leaks because this leads to a lot of disappointment in buyers who were hoping for new models - especially if an early draft gets binned and they decide to come back to it later.

    A good number of people are working on projects they still can't talk about. Those who've been working on the Hobbit can say "we've been working on the Hobbit", but nothing more. The Perrys have, for example, been doing that pretty much exclusively in terms of their GW related work, to no-one's surprise. Given that it generally takes a year to cycle through one of these projects, we probably have at least one more big release due other than the Hobbit relatively soon.

    I had some other interesting discussions about scheduling and planning which will interest no-one who isn't a project manager. I will not bore the internet with this sort of stuff!

    Some of the sculptors are now working entirely in the digital format - some use a mix and some still only sculpt the old fashioned way. There is definitely a move towards more plastic models - some of their sculptors have been doing nothing but plastics at all - there is likely to be more plastic than Finecast in the future, in general terms.

    Given the size of this post already, I'll put up a separate post with the Forgeworld Seminar, and a further separate one with my personal experiences so the rumour hungry don't have to read through them!

    My news & rumours post continues here.

    Monday 17 September 2012

    (Not so) pretty pictures

    I spend a lot of time reading other people's blogs and social media. This last weekend, I decided to read back over some of what I've written on this blog, with an eye to improving it.

    Now, I may have mentioned this before, but there really aren't enough pictures on this blog. It's pretty text heavy, without enough visual eye candy. I quite like the work Goatboy does over on his blog, "Full of Monkey", which has a pretty standard formula; clever picture from the internet, some random thoughts, a test army list and then pictures of the models he's got done that week. Sadly, I am nowhere near as prolific a painter or gamer as he is, but also wouldn't want to be copying that set up exactly.

    Also, one of my major projects at the moment remains clearing up the study so my wife will let me have the 6th Edition rule book. And really, you aren't reading my gaming blog for pictures of my cleaning progress. If you wanted pictures of people's cleaning progress, you'd be reading "Unfuck your Habitat".

    My study, because I did take a photo of it anyway.
    I just lost ten minutes to reading the UyH tumblr. I'm starting to see why I don't get anything done around here.

    I also realised, while entering a competition run by Joeyberry (on Youtube and Facebook - one link isn't enough for some people!) that I don't have many good pictures of my Guardsmen!

    GW Store picture of my Imperial Guard

    Interestingly, that photo does not include one of my squads. The reason for this is that they are converted from Lord of the Rings Haradrim, and while I'm allowed to do that and play with them, GW aren't allowed to put any pictures of them anywhere. This is actually fair - the mixing of the two genres is a serious dilution of the franchises, and commercially there couldn't be any other decision made.

    Anyhow, I took some time yesterday to see what photos I actually have. I have deleted an awful lot of rubbish that would never see use, but have found that while I have a small stock of photos that are usable-ish, there are some serious downsides to what I do have.

    My gaming board is unpainted blocks of MDF, which means my desert force blends in a little _too_ well! Still, it serves reasonably well as an actual gaming table, but I should get around to actually painting it!

    My last 40K battle (5e) against Paul and his Space Wolves
    This does mean, however, that I don't really have much in the way of a good backdrop for my models - they invariably end up having shots taken on whichever desk I have set up as my painting / modelling space that day.

    Model shots aren't too bad, but I do realise that some blurry out of focus shots of a few of my other models in the background and a container from a soy chocolate pudding in the background aren't the best medium for that sort of thing.

    I will be going to Games Day next weekend. I will not have a new camera before then - I'm getting a new phone after 28 September, which is just bad timing. Still, its free with my contract, so I suppose I can't complain.

    Unfulfilled hopes and dreams, to be crushed later:
    - Finish off Imperial Guard Conscript Squad
    - Finish preparation of a wizard for Sim
    - Assemble Malifaux Crew
    - Find some better backdrops for photographing models

    Pretty things I want but currently can't afford:
    - KR Multicase half case (for transporting current larger painting projects
    - A force of Eden Jokers

    Monday 10 September 2012

    Imperial Guard in 6th Edition: FAQ update - Core 1.0, Codex 1.1

    So, there I was, thinking I was out of the speculation about how Guard would be playing in 6th edition, leaving it for the people who play test regularly to overtake my early meanderings - and then GW put out an FAQ which seriously overhauled how Guard play on the tabletop.

    Thanks guys.

    Please read my disclaimer.

    For more in depth approach, I would recommend pottering over to 3++, where they are starting a far more comprehensive analysis.

    Company Command Squad
    The changes to "Look Out Sir!" probably down-power bodyguards a little bit - but only when considered in isolation. My initial suspicions are that the guaranteed move of wounds around is now better in comparison to how other people's "Look Out Sir!" has been affected. Feel free to Math-hammer this one to death, I don't have the will right now.

    Ministorium Priests
    The loss of the re-roll for allies heads off an assortment of shenanigans at the pass. Not much more to say, though!

    The servo arm is, for now, confirmed as ignoring armour saves completely, making this a surprisingly scary anti-terminator close combat unit!

    Psyker Battle Squad
    Given that the leadership drain is not a Witchfire power, it looks like Psyker squads embarked in a Chimera are once more unable to target enemy models. This is a significant down-powering, and probably not an intentional one (but probably the right answer).

    No longer accidentally execute Space Marines who've joined the unit. Makes sense for fluff, doesn't change much for me - people planning clever ally combinations are probably a bit happier, though.

    Heavy Weapon Squads
    No Flakk missiles for me just yet. Its a shame, as some variation in my anti-air would be nice.

    Valkyrie / Vendetta
    All reserve armies are formally confirmed as automatically losing on the first turn for having no models on the table. Not really a concern for me as I never used them to that numbers, preferring not to be the "special snowflake" of the air mobile division.

    However, the units transported not being part of the 50% limit on reserves does greatly increase your capacity to have a high proportion of your army being reserved, if you're willing to take the risk!

    Grav Chute insertion is now much more worthwhile - not having to slow to fast skimmer speeds makes the fliers much more survivable and capable of transporting units without committing suicide to let them out. I did kind of like the idea of it being dangerous to do an airborne landing under fire, though, so in some ways I hope I see some transport fliers at some point that do have to slow down to let people out. Its one of the staples of military true accounts and military fiction, and I think losing that is a bit of a shame.

    And no, I didn't expect Scout to allow a Valk or Vendetta to deploy onto the board. Are you insane?

    Rough Riders
    The hunting lance clarification is no surprise - its pretty much exactly what I expected it to be, so no real surprises there.

    Leman Russ Tanks
    The move to "Heavy" does make things a little easier in terms of simplifying the rules, so I can see why it was done. But it leaves the Battle Tank and the Demolisher, the two Ordnance guns, at a serious disadvantage to the rest of the guns. I've barely _looked_ at which of the main guns has the Ordnance special rules before now.

    Now, I've never been one for sponsons, and had a moment where I felt sad about the city fighting Demolisher with three heavy flamers no longer being able to use any of them . . . until I realised that if your target is within heavy flamer range, you shouldn't be using your main gun at all due to the risk of being hit by it! I never much liked plasma being overused anyway, so the plasma sponsons taking a hit is no great loss to me.

    What this does do is move up interest in the other tanks with cheaper sponsons and the ability to put out a lot more mobile firepower. I'm not going to go into the various different combinations right now, because there's a lot to take in and its something I want a little more time to think about.

    All in all, there are still lots of odd little combinations of turret and sponson I'm yet to try, so I'll be excited to give them all a go!

    Hydra Flak Tank
    I had a strange waking dream moment where I thought Games Workshop had lost all reason and given the Hydra Interceptor as well as Skyfire - to the point where I was actually confused to find it wasn't there while writing this blog post.

    They remain good for their points, but not "insanely so good it is compulsory to buy them for everything ever".

    Interesting observation: The Hydra's Heavy Bolter doesn't have Skyfire. This is the right thing, as it's intended for last ditch defence against ground based targets - but it does give it a tiny bit more flexibility than some realise.

    Griffon & Colossus
    No more minimum range at all is a wondrous thing. The Griffon I'm still up in the air about - we have plenty of generic anti infantry firepower already, and its competing for just plain excellent choices in the category. Its role as a "spotter gun" may still be valid, but I need to find out how unit barrages work now.
    The Colossus is now a 'must test'. It is the Marine killer of choice.

    Deathstrike Missile
    I never expected that it would hit fliers, so that doesn't change anything really.


    So, there you are. I hope this isn't too much restating what is actually there, and there's some actual commentary and thought here. As per the disclaimer - this is all about what to look at play-testing, not what is 'better'. No-one can tell you right now what's the truth in that!