Empire and Dreadball Coming – but not before the creation of a gaming club to fit them!

How long has it been since I last blogged?  How long?  Ok, so aside from holidays I have been a little busy, and ironically enough – with gaming and organising!  So busy that free time from gaming and organising really is not writing about it or reporting on it!  I have been on overload for about two months now – just ask my beautifuly and so very, very patient wife about it – and have truly been putting Trojan work into the establishment of a Games club in the school where I work.  It has taken off like you wouldn’t believe.

I began it as a single day video-gaming lunchtime activity for some interested kids during the winter months, but suggested that we build a community with it – broadened it to giving them a webpage and blog each, and a means of keeping track of scores and recording Tournament/League winners.  From here, we tried running it twice a week (losing one more lunch time, but what the feck, right?), which quickly spiraled out of control regarding both attendance and participation.  At this juncture, I proposed at the weekly team meeting (the students run it, I’m just facilitating and supervising for the school) – that we go unplugged for a fortnight and see what other games we could break into.  We had the following and interest, now was the time to focus our efforts on broadening the community. Lo and behold – doubt and dubious looks askance gave way to unbelievable delight as board, miniature and card games not only took hold, but sustainable hold over many of the lads involved.  Now the xbox is set to digital Thursday and every other day of the week is unplugged!

What is yet more interesting is that part of the appeal lies in the fact that many students don’t have the option of sitting down to game with family and friends anymore.  Not even ‘anymore’- it was never truly part of the current youth culture to begin with!  They play video-games, not boards or cards – and multiplayer to them usually means they’re alone and playing online, so the novelty of sitting opposite an opponent was relatively unique!  It piqued their interest enough to bring them in, and the inherent enjoyment led them to returning and establishing leagues and exhibition plays!  I got the school to give us something from the budget and cajoled a local art and hobby shop into spotting us a few bits and pieces towards the cause – including an old Realm of Battle gameboard, Big Red Rulebook and a few starter sets from GW.  I gave some of my own bits and pieces to flesh out options and painted models to go by, along with some multiples of paints I’ve had here from the older GW sets and terrain.  Gamer’s World in Dublin gave us some amazing deals on minis and Magic: The Gathering Cards too.   The biggest success story of the entire lot was West Wind’s Empire of the Dead, though.

empire

I invested in this series as soon as it hit Dublin in Gamer’s World.  I picked up the book for a review, and fell in love with the simple rules and fast skirmish play.  As a fan of Malifaux, but not finding opponents easy to come by or ready to play too often, I felt that this new offering from West Wind was worth a look, and my it certainly is!  I like the atmosphere of Victorian cyber-punkesque Zombie-London.  I enjoy the weaving in of the popular fictional characters based from this celebrated period of British history and most of all, I like fast skirmish gameplay that concludes for lunchtime league play for the lads.  I picked up a box of each faction for the school and set about copying and laminating markers and statlines.  (I’ll leave the formal review of the game for another post, as it really does deserve a thorough guide  before I endorse it for everyone!  Suffice to say that it is really appealing for a lot of reasons, but the game really does stand up to gamer scrutiny in the broader sense too)

That was before Christmas, now in January, I have ten students who’ve bought at least one faction each, and another two dozen looking to play with the school sets to break into the game.  In the middle of all this, I’m still awaiting Dreadball which was lost in transit before Christmas.  I have some very psyched  students already naming their various teams in anticipation of the league to come!

As a club, it is moving from strength to strength – we have the numbers growing by the week here, and the amazing Gamer’s World has generously given members a great discount towards purchases and we’re constantly exploring different systems.  The big challenge of how to moderate the growing number of interests is something I’ll need to focus on and soon, but for the moment everything is working out well for the lads, and I’m delighted for the corner of the school they’re making their own – run by them, for them.

So…it has been how long since I last posted?  Now you see!  Getting this thing under control and expanding it towards others is a pretty big task for me at the moment.  Games by and large have passed me by while I’ve been the platform for others to game these past weeks.  After four gaming days a week, lunchtimes lost and preparation of new systems for the following set of days, blogging about games doesn’t come as natural as I’d like!  I can’t sound like I’m belly-achingtoo loudly though, as I am a happy victim of success here, and hope to complain about a lot more in the term to come!

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Book Review – The Horus Heresy Series book 1 – Horus Rising by Dan Abnett

This was something of a venture for me – I’ve tried reading some of the Black Library material in the past without a barometer, and found them pretty shallow. This was the exception that opened my eyes to the 40K universe proper.

It is by no means a fantastic text, but I was overwhelmed by the deft approach that author Dan Abnett adopts to populate a seemingly lifeless universe with characters that draw you in, and genuinely engender feelings towards. The concept of this first book in the Horus Heresy series is purely an introduction to future tragedy, and to that end, makes all the right moves in allowing you to sympathise with the main characters and their followers. I’ve always looked on the soldiery of 40K to be automatons and clones – but Abnett invests a great deal of time in showing you the human qualities of these supermen. They are indoctrinated servants, but also make choices within their roles that affect the world around them, just as regular individuals would.
There is an obvious care and devotion to the source material at work here, as Abnett captures the sterility and service-oriented atmosphere of Warhammer future with aplomb. The aesthetic attention to detail is clear throughout the novel; and there is a clear theme of service and duty that resonates at every caste level in the text. Abnett isn’t one to bury the lea, even within a chapter, as he allows his characters to mature and develop at their own pace – it often makes the reader…this reader wonder how to feel about certain characters very early on – but that is how such judgement and affiliation works in real life too.
At the very core, Horus Rising succeeds as a story about soldiers in space. It isn’t without flaws – such as the dense terminologies that reference a prior knowledge with Warhammer 40K that would have helped me immensely, but as to that – hey didn’t stop me enjoying the text either. I could have done without the excessively (and repetitively frequent) adulation prefacing the arrival of the Primarchs in their every scene, but this was really my only substantial demerit towards the book. What it did do successfully was encourage me to read the next in the series. I recommend this to any fan of the hobby game without reservation – and to those willing to give it a chance, you might find there is a depth here worth your time.

Painting this week…Wurrzag and Rock Lobber

So, as promised, although a day late in the posting – My pics of the new Finecase Rock Lobber and my Wurrzag WIP!

The Lobber was pretty easy, but as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, it was the Finecast that was both a strength and a weakness.  The plastic needed major cleaning, especially the thinner pieces and character models.  Also, the model was warped out of packet, and needed the 15 seconds of High-Power hairdryer to manipulate into shape again.  The benefit was this entire piece has incredible detail that more than compensates when the other issues can be fixed.  I am  not deterred from purchasing Finecast into the future, but this is not a green light for GW to rack up the prices unfairly!

Rather than go through the colour choices, I’ll say this much for the lobber.  As a model, it is really nice, but as a unit in strategic gameplay,I’ve used it once and have not been over-awed.  I think I may need to invest in either a Doom Diver or a Snotling Pump Wagon (Advice welcomed!) down the road for a competitive replacement.

Wurrzag is a great model.  This is metal, and I layered the bejeebus out of it to the point that I was afraid I’d lose some detail, but am pretty happy with this work in progress overall.

As you might see, I’ve started to apply the base for some tattoos, and there is a bit left to do with stitching and rope pieces, along with a touch up on the weapon and staff, but this was a fun model to paint, and I’m now going to start looking for Wurrzag on Boar, because he will be just the tonic after painting a few Savage Orcs and Boyz!  A little treat at the end of the tunnel!  As for the next project-have a BSB to assemble and dress up, and have been making a new lazy susan for the new paint range.  My old paints occupy every available nook and an unsued toolbox, but this should solve the storage problem before it grows bigger!  I’ll post later on progress!

Take it easy all!

Shane

Imperium Terrain

This was an impulse purchase – I am lucky to have a nearby hobby shop that is finished with GW, and as such is getting rid of a lot of their stock cheaply (It does mean that my nearest GW/Miniature shop is approx. 50 miles away now, though!) – Anyway, I’ve picked up some of their Fantasy and 40K clobber at a steal, and fully intend to showcase here later!  Unfortunately, they are older models, so there will be nothing revelatory or “I was the first ever to cover this model” stuff, in fairness, this was never what the site was about – but I thought it’d be fun to run through some of these pieces.

This was my first peice of terrain for 40K – Honoured Imperium.  I liked the statue immediately – was easy to assemble and looked well when it overshadows the smaller miniatures.  I’d imagine that as a piece of gaming terrain it is pretty useless though.

The stages for this one were simple.  I toyed around with the concept of a stone-effect statue, but decided that my Fantasy terrain was replete with Fortress-Styles and bare hills, so thought I would try to replicate something that I did with Dreadstone Blight (Will post pics later) a year ago.  The plaques and wall-art of Dreadstone Blight I picked out in a tarnished brass effect.  I have always liked the verdigris on the Skaven metals, and this was a logical inclusion to any colour scheme where bright metal was exposed to external atmosphere.  I thought this would be a nice – if predictable and speedy way to kick out this piece in jig time.

So – the stages:

  • Primed with Chaos Black.  Don’t use black as a prime coat often, but for 40K, as I start painting them, it seems more appropriate for the inkier tones than Fantasy, LOTR or Dreadfleet.
  • The Pedastal base was my go-to formula for sontework – Chardon Granite with a medium-heavy drybrush of Dheneb Stone.  Some might want to add Rotting Flesh in a mix with the Dheneb Stone (1:1ish), but I like the even coat that foundations like Dheneb Stone give cut surfaces.  If it were rocks, I’d approach it differently.
  • The basecoat was Tin Bitz and Vermin Brown mixed to about 2:1.  I hate when bases are metals, so always try to include a neater colour.
  • I added some liquid Green Stuff to the head and leg seams to reduce the obvious split, but then had a ‘good’ idea to use it sparingly to smudge up one side of the model to account for atmospheric wear.  I decided to go against making battle-damage effects to the piece, as one type of degradation would suffice.  What have I learned?  Liquid Green Stuff has limited applications, and is best suited to hairline gaps – I really had to plough on the stuff to make a difference in the cloak piece and leg seams, and even then it may not have been worth the errand.  You be the judge!

  • Wetbrushed with Shining Gold.  Heavy enough dose to cover all of the basecoat except the interior shade pieces.
  • Drybrushed sparingly with Burnished Gold.  This is a metallic that I hate more than the rest, and is only useful for putting on top of Singing Gold.  Even then, I would shake it to the last the get the correct pigment evenly dispersed as I find it really wants to settle quite fast. I used this coat on flats and top showing parts of the model mainly, and the old maxim that less is more rang true,
  • This penultimate step was the verdigris.  I used Hawk Turquoise as a cheat, really watered down.  The first time I tried this, I was mixing all kinds of dwarf bronze and scally green to get a proper copper-sulphately looking mixture, but really Hawk Turquoise will fit the bill and is far less messy!  I applied it to logical weathered areas, and again, sparingly.  The instinct is to layer it on, but isolated drybrush strokes do the job better.
  • Finally, a slight highlight to the odd sharp edge of Chainmail or something like Mythril Silver if desired finish off the piece well.

The finish has to be touched up in spots – I overdabbed the Burnished Gold over the shield, and the banner on the shield needs to be inked with a name, but as I’m new to 40K, I don’t know who it should or might be yet! Overall though, I was pleased enough with the final draft.  It was a pretty easy piece to do up quickly, but I enjoyed the extended break from the Dreadfleet!  I may yet go longer!  I fit this one in amidst models from Dark Reach boxset and it was a welcome break during that run –  I have the other two pieces of terrain that came with the Honoured Imperium to complete yet, and they will be similarly used as link-breaks.

The model colour scheme may not be everyone’s cup of joe, but I think that the effect is strikingly different from game models while being suitable for the 40k universe.  I’d be interested to know what anyone else might think or suggest otherwise!